Thursday, May 31

Thursday thanks

Having just returned from a relaxing, (almost) internet-free week with family and friends, I have a long list of things to be thankful for:
  • My fantastic family
  • The fact that there is no "in-law drama" between Hubby and my folks - in fact, they all seem to like each other
  • Running the historic bike path along the Blackstone River
  • Blackstone River Bike Path
  • Catching up with not 1, not 2, but FOUR good friends from grade-school and college days and knowing that they're all doing well
  • Spending time doing "old fashioned" things like reading, sipping wine outdoors on a pretty summer evening, and having raucous debates about politics (welcome to New England or welcome to my family?)
  • Long walks at Narragansett beach
  • Narragansett Beach, RI
  • Running near my childhood home and realizing how much stronger I am now than I was when I moved away more than a decade ago
  • Being old enough to appreciate the historical details I took for granted as a kid, and having sense of humor enough to pose for photos
  • Tour guides at Boston Common
Do you still live near your childhood hometown? If not, do you ever go back?

Skipping the cross training challenge

Again, I have left the new-to-you cross training challenge to the very last day of the month.

Maybe I should call this the "feels-like-a-deadline workout challenge?"

Don't get me wrong, being nudged to try new things has been wonderful.

But I was home a whopping 12 days out of 31 this month. On those precious few at-home days, all I wanted was the comfort of routine. The last thing on my mind was looking up a Zumba class or downloading a new workout video.

So what new fitness routine did I attempt this month?

Well, let's just say I skipped it.

I warmed up with a 1.5 mile run, then did 3 repeats of "schoolyard skipping" plus strides and 2 repeats of "high skipping" with strides. I also tried out the foot shuffle, which is much harder than it looks!

The 5 repeats took less than 15 minutes, but this is a high intensity workout. I was drenched in sweat. (Disclaimer: The 80 degree morning may be partly to blame for my sweatiness.)

The verdict: I'll be adding these drills to my speedwork rotation.

Hubby won't be surprised at all when he reads this. I love to skip. I sometimes spontaneously start skipping when we're hiking. (He has pictures to prove it.) But I never thought of skipping as exercise, and certainly never considered it as cross-training.

I also really like the way this Running Times workout is structured, with skipping followed by strides, to build muscle memory into the drill.

My only quibble: I love running because I can do it anywhere, but these drills call for a sports field. First, flat, soft turf is important for safety while doing these drills. (You don't want to roll an ankle by landing on an uneven spot.) Second, even though I was on an athletic field, I was getting funny looks from dog-walkers for both high skipping and foot shuffle...

But I'll brave mockery to skip again!

We'll call this a May cross training success.

Here's quick recap of the other new-to-me cross training challenges I've tackled so far:
  • January = burpees - I am not a fan.
  • February = cardio kickboxing - liked Jillian Michael's videos enough that I've done several more since February.
  • March = stability ball strength training - just glad I didn't crack my skull open.
  • April = 100 ups - by far the best new-to-me workout to date. I've added "100 ups" to my strength-training routine every week since I tried them.
Skip with me @RunTraveler
or on Facebook

What would you recommend for June cross training?

Tuesday, May 29


I went for a hike with my parents, and at the trailhead, saw this sign:
No Dogs. No Bikes. No Jogging.
I've seen plenty of signs in my life:
No parking.
No loitering.
Please don't feed the bears.
But this is the first "no jogging" sign I've ever seen.

Fortunately I'm a runner, not a jogger.
I doubt the sign-painter knows the difference.

(And, on this particular day, I was planning to be a hiker anyway.)

What's the weirdest sign you've ever seen?

Saturday, May 26


Greetings from Boston!
Logan airport
And welcome, friends, to another potluck!
(Hey, we're a day late... but I was busy stuffing my maw with dim sum in Boston's Chinatown... Priorities, people!)

With the start of summer holidays, Runner's World is organizing another run streak. The requirements: Running at least 1 mile per day, every day, from Memorial Day to the 4th of July. While I loved doing a 42-day streak over the winter holidays, I plan to sit this one out.

Also, I may have mentioned previously that I loathe sunscreen. Before you gasp and start reminding me of the dangers of skin cancer, I should be clear: I practice safe sun.
I just don't need zinc oxide to do it.
I prefer big, floppy hats, long sleeves, and being outdoors in the early morning or late evening. Fortunately, with their long list of non-sunblock tools, this week's NY Times proves that greasy goo isn't the only way to stay sunburn free.

This week's times also was heavy on the heart-related running news. After the death of Micah True, the Times published an extensive biography of the ultrarunner's life and death, and in another piece NYT explored the complicated science around heart health and distance running.

In happier news, I received a copy of the running humor book I Run, Therefore I Am--Nuts! from Bob Schwartz. I am a couple of chapters into the book, and so far the verdict is good. Even the introduction made me chuckle. I'll post a full review soon...

Quote of the week:
"I was born within hours of Kathrine Switzer's pioneering Boston Marathon in 1967—and as I celebrated my 45th birthday, I did so with gratitude for all the women that ran, fought, and created active opportunity for generations to come. It's hard for me to imagine a life without sports and marathoning, as every finish line has inspired self confidence, empowerment, and personal growth."
Jenny Hadfield
Are any of you planning to do the RW holiday streak?
If so, let me know and next week I'll post a list of participants.

Thursday, May 24

Thursday thanks x 2

Last week, despite waxing poetic about how happy I was after a long run + cupcakes, I didn't "officially" post a Thursday thanks. So this week I'm going to double down for: 2 x thanks.

#1 - Fresh produce and farmers markets:
Root vegetables at the downtown San Diego farmers market.
Locally-grown avocados and citrus at the downtown San Diego farmers market.
Last week, on my lunch break, I picked up a couple of pounds of cherries and a pint of blueberries for an "afternoon snack."

#2 - Recipe blogs!
Now that school is over for the summer, I have (a little) more free time to play in the kitchen. Recipe blogs give me inspiration without wasting the paper or money that used to feed my cooking magazine addiction.

Cooking blogs I love (in no particular order):

What are you thankful for right now?
Are there any other cooking (not baking!) blogs I should be following?

Tuesday, May 22

Vacation brain

The Green Bay marathon issue stirred up a pet peeve of mine (see yesterday's post). This pet peeve is an affliction I refer to as "vacation brain."

Vacation brain is the common ailment that strikes vacationers and recreation-ers alike, causing them to throw caution to the wind due to an overwhelming sense that "nothing bad happens on vacation."
  • I've seen tourists walk into oncoming traffic. (What makes you think a Manhattan cab is going to stop just because you want to cross the street?)
  • I've watched families in Yellowstone get out of the car and approach a grizzly bear for a photo op. (Really people? Those things bite!)
  • I once saw a hiker crouch down with his 3-year-old toddler to point out a mountain lion 20 yards away. (Again with the biting! A toddler looks like lunch to that cat.)
  • I passed a lady 2 miles down into the Grand Canyon. She was wearing high heels. (Hello honey, don't you realize you have to walk back UP? And didn't you see the signs at the top about proper gear and precautions?)
  • I personally took a water taxi to a remote beach in Cabo to snorkel. Alone. (Yes, folks. That might be the dumbest thing I've ever done.)
  • We've all heard the Aron Ralson story...and...
  • I've seen otherwise sensible runners push themselves to the point of injury just because an event is called a "race."
In short, "vacation brain" makes us poor judges of risk.
Image source

If a bear sauntered into a family's back yard, they'd lock the doors and call animal control. But on vacation, risk assessment gets all screwed up somehow. Not only does the family not lock the doors, they reach out to pet the grizzly!

Then, if something does go wrong, emergency personnel and good samaritans will drop everything to help out, which might put even more people in danger.

Getting back to the marathon issue, everything I've heard from runners at Green Bay suggests that the course was well supported. Water stations were ample. (The event organizer added extra water stops when they learned of the warm weather forecast.) In addition, there were cooling/spraying stations along the route. This was not a situation in which the event coordinators were unprepared. In fact, by all accounts, volunteers stayed on the course to support runners even after the event was closed down.

Green Bay organizers did the race equivalent of shooing the bears away, and when that didn't work, they shut the race down.

Sometimes race organizers do deserve blame for poor planning, but this doesn't seem to be one of those cases.

So why, then, did dozens of runners seek medical attention?

I suspect it's a combination of factors.

Running in the heat is hard. Duh.
(Those of us who live in the south speak from experience.)
Some people have more trouble in the heat than others. Some people will get injured during a large half marathon no matter how good the planning is - it's a law of large numbers issue.

Running in the heat requires acclimation.
(Wisconsin in May is not Florida in May... That does make a difference, even if I would prefer to think we're just tougher down here.)

But no matter what the location or time of year: running in the heat doesn't need to turn into a total circus. That brings me back to... Vacation Brain.

Some of the responsibility for race safety should be pointed back at us - the participants.

Call it vacation-brain, call it race-day ego, call it poor risk assessment. No matter what the name is, it is our instinct to react differently during a "race" than we would in our own backyard. We're supposed to "tough it out" because it's a race. Or we expect that things will be fine because we're in the "safe" environment of an organized event.

Unfortunately, not stopping when we feel overheated is the running equivalent of that photo op with the grizzly (or my solo snorkeling expedition in Cabo).

Each and every day we need to assess risks as they are before us, not as they wish they would be.

Treating heat illness
Image source
Even thought I know most readers already know the basics, I'm going to repeat something I posted a couple of weeks ago (from
  • Heatstroke - a life-threatening illness in which body temperature may rise above 106° F in minutes; symptoms include dry skin, rapid, strong pulse and dizziness
  • Heat exhaustion - an illness that can precede heatstroke; symptoms include heavy sweating, rapid breathing and a fast, weak pulse
  • Heat cramps - muscle pains or spasms that happen during heavy exercise
  • Heat rash - skin irritation from excessive sweating

So, running friends, as we roll into the summer months, please stay cool out there!
Be safe!
(And avoid the bears.)

What's the silliest thing you've ever done or seen someone do on vacation?

Monday, May 21

Blame game

You may have heard that the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon closed down their race after only 2:35. The reason? High temperatures sent about 20 people to the emergency room and dozens more were evaluated on-site for heat illness.

People are questioning whether or not the race should have been suspended.
People are questioning whether or not the race should have even started.

I will not knock a race director for making a judgement on the side of safety.

That said - I think there's a larger issue at play here:
Did runners start losing their sense of personal responsibility?
Isn't it every runner's duty to know the signs of heat illness and react accordingly (i.e. before it becomes a medical crisis)?

I know that there are negligent organizers in the world, and I would not want to race with one of them. And cancelling a race for a hurricane, blizzard, tornado, or heat wave is perfectly logical.

But the blame game lately seems to be shifting the balance - especially for warmer than "expected" weather - away from runners and onto the shoulders of race organizers. In reality, a race director will never know if my personal "too hot" is 70 degrees or 85. It should be my responsibility to know my limits and plan/react accordingly. If I feel taxed by the weather, it should be me who is smart enough to slow down, walk, dunk my head in an ice bucket, or DNF.

Yes, even DNF is an option. The shot fired from a starting gun is merely a signal. No one points it at a runner's head and says "You will finish!"

So, in general, my mental math looks something like this:
  • A race that runs out of water = organizer's fault
  • A runner who pushes too hard and gets hurt = runner's fault
In reality, situations are rarely so clear-cut, but I worry that if this blame-game trend continues, we'll soon be left only with December races in Seattle. (Oh, but then there would be rain...)

What's your take on calling off or cancelling races on account of the weather?

Sunday, May 20


Ultrarunners talk about "perpetual forward motion" as a guiding force behind completing long distances, because once you stop, it is incredibly difficult to get started again.
noun \in-ˈər-shə, -shē-ə\
a property of matter by which it remains at rest or in uniform motion in the same straight line unless acted upon by some external force
On Saturday morning, after nearly 12 hours in motion - in cabs, on airplanes (Hello, redeye!), and shuffling on my own two feet through airports, I arrived home. Apparently "home" was a sufficient external force to stop me in my tracks.

As soon as I walked in the door, I dropped my suitcase, kissed Hubby, scratched Peanut behind the ears, and passed out on the couch for what I thought was a 20 minute nap...
Dawn at the Charlotte airport.
4 hours later, I woke up just long enough to catch a couple of episodes of No Reservations before I crawled into bed again.

12 hours later, I woke up feeling more like a human being and less like a lifeless dishrag. (As much as I love to travel, some flights just wear me out.)

But after all that rest, it was - oddly - harder than usual to get up and get moving. I normally look forward to the routine of my Sunday long-run: double-digit mileage followed by a huge breakfast and a bloody mary. But today getting out of bed seemed like the worst idea in the world.

I didn't even have to run long today (I ran 14 on Wednesday) but I could not find the motivation to get up and get going. The idea of running even 3 miles was unappealing. I slept in past my alarm. I puttered around aimlessly until the early afternoon. And then it dawned on me: I was a victim of inertia!

Fortunately the human body isn't a 50-pound lead weight in a Physics exam question. Mental motivation can be enough to un-stick even the most sluggish of bodies. So I pulled on my running shoes, thinking I'd try just a mile around the block...

That felt pretty good, so I ran a mile more. I'd have been happy with a 3-mile loop...

5 miles later, I'm glad I got moving again.

Even if it took a little extra push.

Do you adjust your workout schedule to accommodate travel days?
Have you ever had that "I slept so long, now I'm even more tired" feeling?

Friday, May 18

"Memorable people" potluck

This week's "potluck" is going to be more of a sit-down affair, not because I don't have material, but because one article stood out among all the rest...

If you read "6 Habits of Truly Memorable People," please let me know what you think! The article fits in nicely with this week's earlier post about priorities, particularly the part about being a person - not a resume:
So you run... but you won't enter a race because you don't want to finish at the back of the pack. You sing... but you won't share a mic in a friend's band because you're no Adele...
Personally and professionally, you feel compelled to maintain your all-knowing, all-achieving, all conquering image.
And you're not a person. You're a resume.
How often do we let the resume get in the way of life?

I know I struggle with this concept on a daily basis. Some days the adventure-seeker wins (packing up and moving to a Florida town I had never seen before counts squarely in that category). But there are plenty of days when day-job responsibilities and "professional credibility" trump all other decisions.

When I'm on my death-bed, will I be glad that my resume was polished to a glossy sheen?
Or will I be glad that I skipped out on work for an extra day at Jazzfest, to meet up with a new running group, to have coffee with a former student, or to volunteer at a beach cleanup?

To be honest, the resume-concern often dictates content and phrasing in my blog-life. A truly horrible day on the job has never been explained here in all of its gory political shitstorm drama...
... because it might reflect negatively on my professional reputation, of course.

And I haven't exactly been a career thrill-seeker. Some days I want to throw caution to the wind, go back to stocking wine cases at a specialty store (which I did right after college), and try my hand at freelance writing "for real," but fear of the "resume gap" is enough that I've stayed with the same employer for more than a decade. (How many people can say that? Then again, how many people should say that?)

I'm sure there's some counter-argument article out there, extolling the virtues of the well-planned and well-executed life. After all, there is comfort in the familiar. (Some days I really do love my job.) Adventure-seeking is unlikely to lead to a longer life or a higher paycheck (unless, maybe, you're Jon Krakauer).

But adventures broaden our horizons. Travel can make us better writers or better teachers. Thinking "wrong" can lead to innovative solutions. Pushing beyond our comfort zone can lead to PR marathons or new hobbies.

And, in the final analysis, quality is more important than quantity.

Even if I keep plugging away at my career for another 10 years... If I keep running for another 10 years... If I live in Florida (*shudder*) for another 10 years... I can find ways to shake things up and add more adventure.

I'm not sure, yet, what my next adventure will be.
But I am certain there will be one!

(That said... "adventure" probably shouldn't involve banditing a race then suing the race organizer.)

Quote of the week:
Success isn't how far you got, but the distance you traveled from where you started.

What's your most recent adventure?
(and maybe more importantly)
What adventures do you have coming up?

Thursday, May 17

Sweet treat

What do you get when you take a 14-mile paved trail around San Diego's Mission Bay, add 2 dozen cupcakes, and sprinkle in a handful of friends?
The fitness trail, east side of Mission Bay.
The "runner's bathroom" at Mission Bay.
Is there any doubt that this is a runner's town?
Answer: 1 happy runner.

I've been doing long-run training solo since I moved to Pensacola. Hubby paces me for the first mile or two, then speeds off into the distance.

It was a delicious change of pace to have company for my miles yesterday. Not only did my friend, C, pace me for nearly 2.5 hours, she also provided some post-run treats.
Post-run fuel-party: Homemade cupcakes, milk, almond milk, and water.
When I got back to my hotel, I had just enough energy left to take a shower and call for a plate of room service risotto... Room service can feel like a total cop-out when I'm surrounded by both great restaurants and plenty of friends to dine with, but the run wore me out (in a good way) and I did dine with friends first...  We feasted on cupcakes served from a sidewalk cafe!

I am one happy runner.

What's your post-run food of choice?
Do you train solo or with a group?

Tuesday, May 15


Last week, listening to a radio interview, I heard a singer explain the premise behind a song he wrote about time. To paraphrase, the singer believes that the way we spend our time is the truest indicator of our priorities.

That though has been amusing and challenging me for a week.

What does my schedule say about my priorities?
Do I like what it reflects?

I don't have any answers just yet, but I like where this question is going...

What does your schedule say about your priorities?
Are there things you say you'd "like to do," but don't make time for? Are there things you spend time on that aren't the priorities you'd like to have?

Monday, May 14

Warming up

I have something to confess.

I really did not want to be in San Diego this week.
Classes just ended, so I was looking forward to some less-than-12-hour work days.
I had re-stocked the fridge with gorgeous produce from the organic foods co-op.
I was looking forward to being home in the evenings and cooking dinner again.
I had no plans to get on a plane on Sunday night.

Then my day-job called, and my plans changed.
Ready for takeoff...
I can (sometimes) be an expert at reframing, but on Sunday morning, I was being a big mope. Wails of
"I don't wanna go!!!"
reverberated through my living room. I sounded like a petulant toddler. Then I got stuck next to one on the flight. (Nothing like adding insult to injury! Or was this karma biting me in the ass? Either way, I digress...)

Tantrums aside, San Diego is still home.

Work was less than catastrophic. By mid-day, it was actually pleasant to be in the office.

And then I got to run in Balboa Park. It was a glorious run. Cool weather! Great friends! Trails! Hills! All of this was followed by great dinner conversation with my friend, S.

Sure, I'd rather be at home with Hubby, watching the season finale of HIMYM (spoilers will be shot on sight!) after a lovely dinner that involved the swiss chard I'm sure will be spoiled by the time I return...

But if I have to be away from Hubby and Peanut... If I have to postpone my dream of home-cooked meals and shorter work-days... If I have to be wedged into a seat for 3 hours next to a bouncing/kicking/screaming 2-year-old...

I could certainly do worse for a destination.

I should remember:
I get to come here.
San Diego skyline at night

Are you ever a reluctant traveler?
(I must admit, I normally love the adventure that begins with printing my boarding pass, no matter where I'm going... Being not-so-keen on this trip was an odd break from tradition that I hope will not become the norm.)

Sunday, May 13

Healthy eats while traveling

Over my years of traveling, I've developed a few strategies for eating healthy while I'm on the go.

To be clear, while vacationing, part of the fun is trying the local delicacies.
(In addition to my intense wanderlust, I also happen to be an adventurous eater.)
If that means eating biscuits and gravy for breakfast and po-boys at lunch, I'm in. If that means trying barnacles for an afternoon snack, then eating bites of jamon on bread at midnight, and washing it all down with cava, I'll gladly oblige.

But those trips are the exception, not the rule. In general, I try to keep things as healthy as possible, especially when I'm on the road for work.

Here are some of the tricks I use to eat well when I'm traveling:

  • Grocery stores are a traveler's best friend. Many markets have a good salad bar (Central Market, in Texas, is one of my favorites). But even without a salad bar, I've been known to make a lovely lunch out of a couple of pieces of fruit, a single-serving yogurt, and a bag of mixed nuts.
  • While TSA has taken away most of my favorite travel food options, I still pack some things with me for the trip.
    • I often bring a snack (a piece of fruit and some almonds, or cheese and whole grain crackers) for the flight so I'm not tempted to spend $4 on a can of airline Pringles. (I did once have an overzealous TSA agent re-screen my lunch bag 3 times because of an apple, but I finally got ticked off, said "just search the damned bag," and haven't had another incident since.)
    • These days even McDonald's sells oatmeal, but why pay $3 when you can pack your own for about 25 cents? I measure 1/4 cup of quick-cooking oats plus flavorings (cinnamon, raisins, walnuts, and ground flax seed) into snack-sized plastic bags. I make these oats the same way I'd make one of those single-serving oatmeal packets. The result: all of the convenience and fewer preservatives (the key: be sure to use quick-cooking oats).
    Homemade single-serving oatmeal packs: cheaper, healthier, and no preservatives.
    • I pack a few bags of my favorite herbal tea. If I can brew a cup of tea in my room, it keeps me from wandering down to the hotel bar for a nightcap or over to the local coffee shop for a beverage (which usually leads to buying a pastry). 
  • For dinner, I often order salad and an appetizer. If I get an entree, I wind up over-eating because I know I'm not going to take the leftovers "home."
  • If I do get an entree for dinner, I will often ask to swap a calorie-dense side (like butter-laden mashed potatoes) for something healthier (like steamed broccoli).
What travel tricks do you use?

Friday, May 11

Potluck (and other short stories)

Welcome, friends, to another Friday potluck!

Food for thought:
Bored with stress eating? Try grief bacon.
Thanks to Nitmos at Feet Meet Street for filling us in on the German word, Kummerspeck, composed of Kummer (grief) and Speck (bacon) which means "excess weight gained due to emotional overeating."

I might need some of that grief bacon to get over  the news that sexism is still alive and well in 2012. Case in point: the baseball team at Our Lady of Sorrows Academy in Arizona forfeited their state championship game because the opposing team includes a girl player.
Image source

Yes, folks: you read that correctly. OLSA would rather lose a state championship by forfeit than play when a girl is on the field. Way to teach our children good values about sportsmanship and equity, OLSA!

Don't the coaches know that girls don't really have cooties?


A moveable feast:
Image source
Check those bike tires! Next week is Bike to Work Week.

Many communities sponsor special cycling events, including contests and giveaways. Check the list to see if your city is promoting pedal power.

Speaking of travel, have you ever wanted to take a cross-country trip, but couldn't convince your friends to join you? Sarah Von explains how to road trip solo.

Words of wisdom (aka quote of the week):
If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Link love:
Instead of closing with a question, today I'd like to use the comments section to find other weird and wonderful stories. So...

Please post a link to the best article you read (or wrote) this week.
(Don't be shy - if you wrote something great, share it!)

Thursday, May 10

Thursday thanks

With Mother's Day coming up, it got me thinking that I'm thankful for my mom. I know that sounds cliche, but my mom is pretty fantastic. Here's just a small sample of the reasons why I love her:

My mom taught me how to kayak, and still (literally) paddles circles around me.

She completed college while raising 2 kids and working full time. (That alone deserves a medal.)

She grows a spectacular garden and cooks delicious meals with the produce.

Oh yeah, and she has put up with my crap for the past 30-something years.

 ... and since mom hates the internet, she'll probably never read this.

But that's ok. I'll make sure she knows.

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, May 9

Running jokes

Image source

(Because some days you just need a good laugh...)

Q. How do crazy runners go through the forest?
A. They take the psycho path.

If you are going to try cross country, start with a small country.

John Bingham (on running marathons): "I didn't train all that time just to come here and get it over with as fast as I can."

A school teacher asked a student, "John, will you please conjugate the verb 'to go' for the class?" The kid began, "I go... um... you go... ehmm... he goes..." "How about a little faster?" asks the teacher. And the kid, "Sure! I run, you run, she runs..."

Two hikers on a trail came around the bend to find an enormous brown bear about 75 yards up the trail. The bear spies them and begins running toward them at a full gallop. One hiker drops his backpack, sits down, throws off his boots, and starts lacing up a pair of running shoes. The other hiker says: "What are you doing? You will never outrun that bear!". The first hiker replies: "I don't have to outrun the bear..."

Did you hear about the marathon runner who ran for four hours? He only moved two feet!

Q. What do runners do when they forget something?
A. They jog their memory

If you liked these, you might also like my "you might be a runner" series...

What's your favorite corny joke (running or otherwise)?

Tuesday, May 8

Real-life (non-running) drama

Right now, in my backyard, a life and death struggle is going on (and it has nothing to do with running).

The night before we left for our trip, Hubby and I heard a commotion outside. There was screeching and squawking.

We looked out to see a baby blue jay on the ground beside our door. A feral cat was closing in for a kill. In an attempt to save their baby, Mama and Papa Jay were dive-bombing the feline. (Jays can be aggressive!)

I do not normally interfere with the forces of nature.
I believe in the circle of life.
But outdoor cats pose a serious threat to wild birds (killing as many as a million a day, nationwide), and cats are not a natural part of the ecosystem. So...

...I filled a bucket with water, and doused the cat to chase him away.

The next morning, there was no sign of the baby bird.
I figured the cat came back once he dried off.

I was mistaken.
When we returned from our trip, I found this little guy sitting under the window in our backyard.
Baby Blue Jay
Truth be told, he looks horrible. He definitely suffered cat scratches and lost some feathers.
Last night I was sure birdie was a goner.

But throughout the day today, Mama Jay and Papa Jay have taken turns flying down to feed him.

Maybe he'll make it after all?
If he doesn't make it, Mama Jay and Papa Jay certainly tried their hardest.
You can't ask for more than that.

PS - I am a cat lover. But that means I keep Peanut indoors. It's safer for her. Safer for the birds. Everyone is happy.

What's your take on wildlife: Leave well enough alone? Save the cute animals? Protect every creature?

Monday, May 7


I suppose I could have been a "good" runner and gone easy on the beer and fried food at Jazzfest.

I could have been a "good" runner and set an early alarm clock for a long run one morning.

I could have been a "good" runner and taken tips from Runner's World on proper hydration. Spending hours on your feet in the hot sun and humidity should not be taken lightly, after all. Just ask the Boston Athletic AssociationMaybe Jazzfest will be the next event to offer deferrals for hot weather?

(What? Too soon?)

All kidding aside, I could have been a "good" runner, but chose debauchery instead.

And it was good.

I slept in late. Ate huge breakfasts. Danced with strangers until I was drenched in sweat. "Rehydrated" with frozen cocktails. Lunched on spicy, greasy, delicious festival food and washed that down with plenty of cold beer.
Just a small sampling of the festival food offerings...
I ate convenience-store fried chicken for dinner while standing on a street corner. Stayed out late in a smoky cigar bar. Skipped workouts in favor of "saving my energy" for walking from stage to stage.
Brother's fried chicken - one of my all-time favorites.
I am unapologetic about all of it.

Tomorrow I'll be back to whole grains, fresh vegetables, and running.

In the meantime, I'm going to savor the last few hours of vacation. While it might not have been great for my waistline (or my liver), the past five days were good for my soul.

Do you keep up your fitness routine at all times, or do you take an occasional vacation from your healthy habits?

Saturday, May 5

Postcards from Jazzfest

Greetings from the 2012 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival!

There are a few things Hubby and I learned at last year's Jazzfest, so this year we look like pros. Here are the highlights:
  • The crowds are insane, but despite the volume of people (and volume of alcohol consumed) everyone is unbelievably NICE. The best way to honor this pleasantry is to pay it forward. Hold doors for people. Share your crawfish. Share stories. You will be richly rewarded in experience.
  • Bring a flag. (Or sit next to people who have one.) It's the only to ensure that no one in your group gets lost among the crawfish crowds.
  • Flags at the Gentilly stage at Jazzfest 2012
  • Don't waste money on bottled water. Bring a bottle (empty or factory-sealed) and fill it at one of the many refill stations. (Maybe they put mood enhancers in the water? That would explain point #1, above...)
  • Wear comfortable shoes because you'll be walking for hours through dust or mud (depending on the weather). Almost everyone wears athletic shoes or sandals. If you wear heels, the only second glances you get from people will be looks of pity.
  • Wear a hat and pack sunscreen.
  • Big smiles + my Jazzfest hat.
  • Take advantage of the less hyped offerings, including cooking demos. The indoor events are fascinating and are a great way to get out of the sun for an hour or two. Plus, most cooking demos include samples for those who stay for the whole show. Last year I tried turtle soup. I think my parents (turtle-lovers) would be sad that I ate a terrapin, but it was tasty, and it's another unusual food I can check off my life list.
  • In the food areas, get in the longest line and order what everyone else is ordering. This goes against everything I hold dear in life. I loath lines! But at Jazzfest, the best food is well worth the wait. (My personal favorite: cochon de lait po-boy.)
  • Cochon de Lait po-boy, boudin, and Blue Moon.
  • In general, lines at Jazzfest take on a whole new meaning. Get in on at least one second line while you're there. And dance like no one is watching. Because the only way people will watch is if you're not dancing.
  • Accept that dancing is your workout for the weekend.
  • Dancing to the Dirty Dozen Brass Band
  • Putting down a tarp to "hold" 48 square feet of space for 3 people at a crowded stage is a total d-bag move. Don't be that person.
  • Making room for people, sharing your blanket, and offering to take photos for a group are kind things to do. Be that person.
And... for days you can't make it to the Festival, there's always streaming video!

Friday, May 4


Welcome, friends, to another Friday potluck.

First, the food and beverage:
I thought there was no food more perfect than a spoonful of peanut butter straight out of the jar. But I stand corrected. Ruth Reichl, author of some of my favorite non-fiction books, teaches us how to build a better PB&J.

And to wash that sandwich down, this week Slate asks (and answers) "Do different types of booze get you drunk in different ways?" (Seriously, does this count as research? Anyone who has ever had tequila knows the answer...)

From this week's "clearly they've been drinking" files:
Apparently "loub jobs" are the latest craze.
Sounds dirty, no?
It does involve a foot fetish.
In all honesty, I'd be happier if this was a naughty story. Unfortunately this is not a sex fad. It is more of a sad commentary on the bizarre lengths people will go to for "beauty." There is a trend afoot to inject collagen into the heels, toe pads, and balls of women's feet.

Why would anyone do this?
To wear 6- or 7-inch heels, of course!
Source: via Beth on Pinterest

More people need to read Bad Shoes & The Women Who Love Them...

In the meantime, I'll be at Jazzfest, craming my maw with crawfish and filling my ears with tunes. Feel free to track my jazzy New Orleans travel adventure:

Parting thoughts (aka quote of the week):
Listen to your body. Do not be a blind and deaf tenant.
Dr. George Sheehan

Would you ever have your body surgically altered, and if so, for what?

Thursday, May 3

Thursday thanks

This week I'm thankful for the good food, good music, and good company known as:
Jazzfest 2011
One year ago today, Hubby and I were on our way to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival for the first time. It was an incredible experience.

We just might be going back again...

What's the best concert or music festival you've been to?

Tuesday, May 1

Be right back

I'm buried under a pile of paperwork with dozens of essays to grade and grades to report.
Photo from the historic schoolhouse in Fort Walton Beach, FL
So, I can either write about running, or get out and run...

You know where I'll be!

What are your top priorities when your schedule gets hectic?