Sunday, September 30

Dog drama

The best of dog-owners:

One night last week Hubby and I went for a long walk before dinner. As we were out on our stroll, we passed a neighbor who was walking his dog and his cat.

The cat apparently thinks he's a dog, goes for nightly walks, and protects his dog buddy (a tiny Lhasa Apso-looking pup). Both critters are happy, well-adjusted pets who want nothing more than a good scratch behind the ears. You can tell they have a happy home and are well-loved.

Source: via Ruby on Pinterest

That kind of pet story makes my day.

The worst of dog-owners:
Dog's thirty foot leash
Heedless dog walker on cell
My ankles not safe
~Haiku I composed just after the doggie drama
Later in the same week, I went out for an early morning walk. As I was strolling along, I came upon a man and his dog...


Unfortunately the man was a loud-talker on his cell phone, and the dog was testing the limits of a 30-foot retractable leash.

For background reference, two-lane roads are generally about 22-24 feet wide. A 30-foot leash stretches across both lanes and then some.

The dog saw me, and started snarling and barking.

The owner, several yards ahead, and totally engrossed in his conversation, was completely ignorant of the situation.

Clearly I needed to either turn around (which was not an attractive option at this point in my walk) or give the might-as-well-not-have-a-leash dog a wide berth.

I chose the latter.
I waded through knee-deep brambles alongside the road, while the snarling little mutt kept up his litany of abuse.

Once I drew abreast of the irresponsible dog walker, he shouted an "Oh. Sorry." at me. (Day late and a dollar short, buddy.)
Image source
I kept walking. I made no eye contact. I said nothing. It was better than telling him what I really thought since no sense of social protocol was going to get me to say: "Oh, it's alright. No worries."

This should have been the end of it.
Boring incident, soon to be forgotten...

But then, the story takes a turn for the truly ridiculous.

20 minutes later, I passed the dog walker again! (This was not by choice. Trust me. If I had seen him before I rounded the corner, I would have taken another route.)

Dog-walker-cell-talker was still on his phone, and as I walked toward him I heard the following:
So, yea. I was walking, and this lady was walking behind me.
Oh wait.
I'm walking by her again!
So I'm walking Buddy. And she walks up behind us. I feel Buddy tug on the leash and start barking.
I don't know what she *inaudible next few words*
I said I'm sorry but *conversation fades as I pass out of earshot*
I strongly suspect that last sentence ended with something about the fact that I scowled at him rather than giving a chipper "It's OK!"

But really, who does that? First he lets his dog chase me into the bushes. Then he goes out of his way to make sure I know he's talking about me to the person on the other end of his phone call.

And, Buddy's Buddy, if you knew your dog was upset about something, why didn't you turn around to figure out what was going on? Maybe he got sprayed by a skunk? Maybe he was being stalked by a rabid racoon?


Just as I was about to mothball this story, thinking it was too pedestrian. (Pun! Sorry!)

...I came across this photo on Facebook...

I saw this photo with an "Aww. So cute!" caption.


All I could think was: I feel bad for the next runner who needs a drink of water.

It is not cute to let a pooch drink out of a people fountain! Sure your dog needs water. Be a responsible pet owner and bring a doggie water dish!

If you want to tongue-kiss your dog at home, that's your business. We runners, walkers, hikers, bikers, and other members of the public have a right to slobber-free drinking fountains.

Think I'm being paranoid? Not so much... Dogs can transmit campylobacter and salmonella, among other germs.

So. Gross.

Am I the only person who has a huge pet peeve about oblivious dog owners? (Not about dogs. Just the irresponsible owners.)

Friday, September 28

Weekly roundup: Friday potluck

Welcome to another installment of the weekly roundup we all know and love: Friday potluck!

This week's theme: Truth is stranger than fiction.

Stupid people tricks

I am never at a loss for a "stupid people tricks" story, but this week I have some real doozies to share.

For the crowds not wowed by pony rides at a child's 8th birthday party, now there are alligator pool parties. (Seriously, people?! I live in the South where gators are a fact of life, and even I don't understand this one...)
Image source
If Forever Lazy was not enough to prove that cockroaches will outlive (and possibly outwit) humans, we now have people too lazy to get up for another handful of popcorn.

And last, but not least, you just have to see these playgrounds gone horribly wrong. (Possibly NSFW.)

Going Rogue

Rogue brewing might make some tasty and creative brews, but beer made from beard-yeast?
I am a very adventurous eater, but I'm skeptical about beard-beer.
As the reporter says, it gives new meaning to "hair of the dog."

Strange but beautiful

I was impressed by the sequoias in Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon, but the Montezuma cypress that is believed to be the world's largest tree puts our conifers to shame. The tree, in Mexico, is 115 feet in circumference.
Me + Tree, Yosemite NP circa 2010
Sweet sips

This recipe for homemade coffee shop pumpkin syrup might be a game changer for me. No more stopping for a fix on the way home from teaching. Now I can mix up a batch of homemade deliciousness and bring my pumpkin-flavored crack beverage with me.
Source: via Beth on Pinterest

And I would be a terrible host if I did not let you know that September is Bourbon Heritage Month.

So, whether you choose your beverage caffeinated or boozy: Drink up, friends!

Quote of the week:
"Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't."
Mark Twain

Happy Friday, friends!

Thursday, September 27

Free 10k entry for one lucky reader

Winner announced: Rachel @Running50States
Congratulations Rachel!

Entries for this raffle are now closed but others may be available.
See Giveaways page for details.
Today might be your lucky day!

What could be better than celebrating Mardi Gras in Louisiana?
There are parades, and beads, and king cakes!
Then add a 10k to the mix. And make your race entry to the 10k free.
That would make it even better, right?

Thanks to the Baton Rouge Area Sports Foundation, I get to raffle off a complimentary entry to the 2013 Amedisys Mardi Gras Mambo 10k and 1 Mile Fun Run.

The Prize:
One lucky reader will win free entry into the 10k, scheduled for February 16, 2013.
And with a little extra luck, the winner and I will get a chance to meet up before the race, since I'll be running, too.

The Drawing:
You receive an entry into the drawing for each of the following. To enter, log your entries using the Raffle Copter widget below. (We ask for your e-contact info only so that we can contact the winner.)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Entries will close on Thursday, October 25th. I will draw a winner at random from the comments below, and will post the results no later than noon on Saturday, October 27th.

The fine print:
I received a complimentary entry for the 10k, but received no other compensation for this post. All opinions expressed here are my own.
I will draw a winner. Prizes will be distributed directly by the staff at BRASF.
Prize is a complimentary race entry, and does not include travel costs. There is no cash redemption value for the prize.
Email address will be used to contact prize winner, and will not be used for spam/marketing purposes.
If you have questions, please contact me at: coffeeb123(at)yahoo(dot)com

Thursday thanks

Here are a few things I'm thankful for this week...
Alt. Title: "You know you're an adult when..."

Thankful for: Running 4 miles pain-free on Tuesday.
The older I get, the more aches and pains I have. But I'm still going to blame them all on "running injury" there is no such thing as "old age" in this house!

Thankful for: The arrival of our new vacuum cleaner.
I think this fits squarely into the category of "you know you're an adult when..." you are happy about buying a new vacuum cleaner. But hey, the old one was dead, the new one works like a champ, and this house would be a bloody mess if we had no way to pick up the twigs, leaves, mud, and other evidence of our outdoor adventures!

Thankful for: Happy hour with my buddies, then staying out waaaaaay past my bedtime last Friday.
I'm decidedly not thankful for the ensuing hangover. Why is it that hangovers last all day once you pass the age of 30? Let's just say it was an unpleasant flight back home on Saturday...

Thankful for: Sleeping in this morning!
Ok, maybe this one makes me sound more like a teenager...

What are YOU thankful for this week?

Wednesday, September 26

Is it Pool Running or Aqua Jogging?

Alt. title: Exercises to do while nursing an injured calf

My September entry into the New 2 U Cross Training Challenge is both the lamest and the most creative of my entries to date.

My sole goal: get a good workout without putting any strain on my right foot and calf.

This sounds pretty simple until you realize that nearly every aerobic and strength exercise involves standing, jumping, pushing, or pedaling with your feet. Even core exercises like planks are out of the question.

Google searches for "exercise with calf strain" return almost nothing of use. There are exercises to do once your calf is healing, but no advice at all about what to do to keep from going batsh*t crazy during the week or two during which you need to stay off your leg.

Yes, yes... I know I could just laze around, read, nap, repeat.
But I have never been good at sitting still. Maybe I had undiagnosed ADHD as a child? Either way, I don't intend to change now.

So this month's workouts took some creativity. I developed a strength training routine to use during these dark days of calf-strain-plus-PF:
  • bent-knee push ups
  • cat/cow pose
  • bicycle crunches
  • rowing crunches
  • Russian twists
  • 1980s aerobic-video-style leg lifts
  • superman and hollow-man
  • alternating donkey kicks and "dirty dogs" (one leg at a time, none of this jumping stuff)
Source: via Joanne on Pinterest

In addition, I did a workout I've never done before: pool running.

Or maybe it's called aqua jogging?
(If it's really "aqua jogging" this is the one and only time you can call me a jogger without ending our friendship.)

Whatever we call it, I've been "running" in the water-aerobics-area of my local pool after I finish lap swimming. I can't say pool running will ever replace real running, but it was a nice alternative while I was hobbling around.

I'm also glad that the Cross Training Challenge got me back in the water with snorkeling in July, lap swimming in August, and now pool running/aqua jogging in September.

That said, I think I need to return to dry land for my October challenge.

So is it called "pool running" or "aqua jogging?"
Have you ever tried aqua jogging or other water aerobics?
Clearly I need a non-aquatic activity for my next cross training challenge...
Any suggestions for another new-to-me exercise to try?

Tuesday, September 25

Healthy snacking at 37,000 feet

My running shoes are always on my feet in the airport (except, of course, when TSA makes me take 'em off). So exercise is rarely a problem for me when I'm on the road.

But travel can wreak havoc on healthy eating habits, and it can also be brutal on the wallet.

Peanuts: the traditional airline snack
Most airlines charge a small fortune for a can of chips or the "healthy" alternative: a crackers-and-cheese plate that contains a grape or three. TSA doesn't help matters by confiscating a wide and seemingly ever-changing variety of comestibles.

As a result of the dearth of healthy, cost-effective airline dining options, I've become a pro snack-packer. Here are my go to foods for in-flight snacking.
  • Mixed nuts
  • Sliced cucumber or bell pepper with hummus*
  • An apple and a string cheese
  • Whole-grain ginger snaps or a piece of good, dark chocolate
Because I never know what I'll be craving 4 hours from now, and airport fried-food kiosks are all too tempting, I try to bring a variety of salty, crunchy, and sweet snacks with a balance of carbs and protein.

Image source
I particularly like cucumbers as an in-flight snack because they're refreshing in an otherwise very un-refreshing situation.

As it turns out, bringing high water content snacks (cucumbers, oranges, apples, grapes) is also wise from a food science perspective.

Does This Taste Funny?

Due to a combination of low humidity and high altitude, food tastes more bland at 37,000 feet than it does in your home. Bringing water-rich snacks helps to combat the low humidity problem.

In addition I often spice my snacks in advance (think cumin-and-cayenne roasted almonds) and I bring a couple of salt and pepper packets with me when I travel.

Also, while we're talking about what I do pack, we should discuss...

Things Not to Bring:

While TSA rules can be frustrating, some suggestions for foods to leave at home during airline travel are plain ol' common sense.
  • Heavily scented items - I like a good tuna sandwich, but no one wants their airplane to smell like a bait bucket.
  • Food that requires slicing, dicing, or other preparation - If you need a knife to eat it, leave it at home.
  • Dishes with sauces that can spill/stain - See note below on sauces.
  • Foods that are not properly wrapped - TSA doesn't want your hamburger grease on their equipment, and I don't want it on my luggage.
  • Any of the items on the banned-foods list - I repeat: See note below on sauces.

*A Note on Sauces, Liquids, Creams, Gels...
...and other foods TSA won't let through the security gate.

TSA thinks hummus and peanut butter are "liquid, cream, or gel" items, and agents have been known to confiscate sandwiches for contraband peanut butter.

Clearly the rule-setters are not scientists, as I'm pretty sure ground legumes do not count as a "liquid" by any physicist's or chemist's standards. But having lost one battle over a yogurt, I gave in and learned how to work within the rules. After all, the TSA agents are the ones with the guns, and it was just one yogurt.

But you'll note that my list above includes hummus as a favorite in-flight snack.

How do I do it, you wonder? Magic, maybe?

My Traveler Trick:

Put a 2-3 tablespoon serving of hummus in a small snack-sized plastic bag, seal it well, and put the hummus snack pouch in your 1-quart toiletries bag. As long as the hummus packet fits in the toiletries bag, it passes security standards.

(Don't get me started on how ridiculous this policy is. Just be glad you now know the frequent-flier's inside scoop on how to get your snack onboard!)
Source: Uploaded by user via Missy on Pinterest

The same trick works for other small containers of liquid, including packets of soy sauce, salsa, and those single-servings of peanut butter you sometimes find at breakfast buffets.

That said, I avoid soy sauce and salsa on the airplane if only because I'm clumsy under normal conditions. Give me a stain-inducing liquid and a bumpy flight, and both I and my neighbors will be wearing more food than I eat.

What's your favorite snack - in flight or on land?

Sunday, September 23

Autumn love

Autumn is here!!!

Ok... ok... Jamoosh is right. No one from Texas to Georgia is safe from heat waves until Thanksgiving, but now it's in the 60s at dawn - not the 80s. I'll take what I can get.

I love this season for so many reasons:
  • Running is more pleasant (read: faster and less sweaty).
  • I no longer get the stinkeye when I order a pumpkin spice coffee or an Oktoberfest beer.
  • School is in session and I again love at least one of my jobs.
  • Summer crowds are gone from the beaches, leaving them wide open for locals like me.
  • Hiking in Florida in the autumn feels more like hiking, and less like swimming. (Full disclosure: I mostly avoid hiking and trail running here between May and September. Between the bugs and the heat, it can be a miserable experience. But fall and winter months? Bring on the trails!)

What is your favorite fall tradition?

Friday, September 21

Weekly roundup: Friday potluck

Welcome to another installment of the weekly roundup we all know and love: Friday potluck!

Act your age, not your shoe size

When I was younger, my mom used to tell me:
"Act your age, not your shoe size!"
Well, mom, I still don't act my age. And based on this list of age-appropriate clothing, I'm pretty sure I never will. (Is there really an age at which ponytails become a bad thing?)

Rest really is best

This article came along at a time when I probably most needed to read it: Bernard Lagat is beginning his annual cycle of 5 weeks of complete rest. Five weeks! I had no idea that any world class athlete took that much time off of training. But I like the concept.

Maybe I'll start calling my injury-recovery a "Lagat training interval."

Laughter is the best medicine

10 reasons running doesn't suck.

Message in a bottle

A Scottish fisherman found a 98 year old message in a bottle. Imagine his surprise when he read the note and discovered that it was set adrift as part of a scientific study of ocean currents, and was not a love letter or a message tossed into the ocean by hopeful castaways on a deserted isle... Still, a pretty neat catch, no?

Speaking of message in a bottle, I got a kick out of this modernized version:

I apologize in advance for what's about to come next...

Source: via Beth on Pinterest

Quotes of the week:
"When I was young I was called a rugged individualist. When I was in my fifties I was considered eccentric. Here I am doing and saying the same things I did then and I'm labeled senile."
George Burns
"As we grow older, our bodies get shorter and our anecdotes longer."
Robert Quillen
"Age is strictly a case of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."

Happy Friday, friends!

Thursday, September 20

Thursday thanks

Just when you thought I had skipped Thursday thanks...
I'm back with a big, toothy grin!

Today I'm thankful that my dentist appointment wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it would be. My filling was just a filling and did not turn into an emergency root canal. (Overly anxious, indeed. But better to prepare for the worst, and wind up pleasantly surprised, no?)

In fact, my face is now only half numb. Life is good!
Image source
I am also very thankful that my dentist is a master.

Proof of this fact: I'm only one of dozens of his patients who moved away... but still return to Mr. Master Dentist to get a cavity filled.

If that's not something to be thankful for, I don't know what is.

What are you thankful for this week?

Mama told me not to talk to strangers

Midnight CST, Wednesday September 19th: As I begin typing, I'm so tired my eyes are shutting of their own accord. But I'm also ravenous, so I'll type long enough to finish my room-service salad.

A little voice in the back of my head suggests that maybe typing will keep me awake so I don't faceplant into my sesame-dressed mixed greens and grilled chicken...

Awake at 6am Central Time, I managed to jam office hours, teaching, half a day at the day-job, last-minute packing, and a cross-country flight into my day. I checked into my hotel at 10 local time (midnight CST).

Source: via Beth on Pinterest
On the move for more than 16 hours, I'm too tired to form truly coherent sentences... but if Hemingway is right about "write drunk. edit sober." then maybe "write delirious. edit well-rested." also applies? (If so, this post is going to be effing brilliant when I get through editing in the morning!)

Anyway... I'm writing in this delirious state because my flights were actually... FUN. And I don't want to forget any important details. Ok... ok... The flights themselves were cramped and mildly uncomfortable, but I met some characters during my travels today.

I know mama told me not to talk to strangers, but chit-chatting with fellow travelers was the highlight my day yesterday.

There was the older man, returning from a trip to Vegas, who pulled up a chair next to me at an airport bar in DFW.

In the (very brief) time it took him to finish his pint, he told me all about his preference for aisle seats so he doesn't have to worry about climbing over sleeping passengers when he needs to hit the head.

He also informed me that he's a huge New York Giants fan and was worried that he would "turn into a pumpkin" if he got too close to any of the Cowboys fan gear stores in the airport. (For the record, I'm not entirely sure what he meant by the pumpkin comment, but it didn't sound good. Clearly he's not a Dallas fan.)

Mr. Giants Fan was amiable and entertaining, and I sincerely hope he got home safely and that his puppy didn't tear the house up too much in his absence.

Then there was the gent from Boston who sat next to me on the airplane and with whom I share a geographic history: Born in New England, Moved to southern California a little over a decade ago, On a plane on a regular basis for work (though his 10,000 miles per month far exceeds my measly few-thousand).

In typical New Englander shooting-the-breeze fashion, his tales all seemed a little too tall to be completely true, a little embellished for effect. Did he really go swimming in the Bellagio fountain? Is he really on a first-name basis with the best chefs in San Diego? Maybe he is, but even if he isn't, the conversation was delightful.

Salty old New Englanders can spin a good yarn, even if we haven't lived there in years.

It was nice to spend a day with almost no news headlines and lots and lots of plain 'ol chitchat.

Do you talk to strangers?
When you travel, are you a chit-chatter or do you prefer peace and quiet?

Morning editor's note: the number of typos I found in the morning was breathtaking. On the level of confusing "to" with "too." But... edited... I'm glad I sat down to type.

Tuesday, September 18

Itchy feet and favorite travel blogs

So... in case you missed the memo, I'm sidelined from running. Again.

The past six weeks have been an oddly stationary period in my life.
I haven't been running or flying.
My right calf is recalcitrant.
Not flying makes "travel Tuesday" posts a little more difficult to write, and not running makes maintaining a running blog a particularly interesting challenge!

Fortunately (or unfortunately?) I found a new pool for pool running.
(More on that later...)

And fortunately (or unfortunately?) I'm nearing the end of almost six weeks on the ground before a whirlwind of autumn travel begins that will keep me in the air or on the road every other week - sometimes every week - from now until the end of the year.

My upcoming travel is a very good thing. I have a serious case of itchy feet - and not just because of PF and my cranky calf.
Noun: itchy feet - a very strong or irresistible  impulse to travel; wanderlust
Give me a backpack and an e-ticket, and I'm a happy girl. (Yes, I carry a backpack even for work trips.) So this "travel Tuesday" I'm happy to say that I'll be traveling again soon.

Indeed I'll be traveling enough that I'll want - and need - a rest when the winter is over. I'm looking forward to being travel-weary three months from now the way I look forward to the being exhausted and taking a good long nap after a hard race.

But that doesn't start 'til tomorrow...

In the meantime, here are a few of the travel-ish blogs I've relied on for a fix while I've been resting.
  • Travel Spot is one of my go-to blogs. I particularly enjoyed the recent "signs" post, especially "beware of alligators" and "things found in tires."
  • I See Trails is my way of enjoying hikes up majestic mountains when I can't get away from flat (*cough*) Florida.
  • (Just) Trying is for Little Girls is a favorite of mine. You're probably thinking "this isn't a travel blog!" But hear me out on this: Kim is racing her way through 13.1s in all 50 states. For the past few weeks I've been living vicariously through her miles (both running and frequent flier).
  • I found Mo Travels through Running Trip. I found Running Trip when I was looking for places to run in Barcelona a year ago. I enjoy both.

Do you follow any travel blogs?
Feel free to leave recommendations - including a plug for your own blog if you are a travel writer - in the comments!

Saturday, September 15

Heartbroken (expletives redacted)

Today Hubby and I packed our towels and goggles and headed toward the pool. The weather was perfect for pool time: warm, dry, and sunny. I was looking forward to swimming laps the way I normally look forward to happy hour on a Friday evening.

When we arrived, the parking lot was ominously empty. This sign was posted on the locked gate:
Closed for the season

This is FLORIDA.

It's 80-something degrees outside today and will be hot until Thanksgiving. What "season" are they talking about?

But these are first world problems. I'm bummed, but I'll survive.

Trying to make the best of the situation, Hubby and I went home, changed clothes, grabbed our Speedminton rackets, and headed to another park.

We were both feeling sort of stiff at the start, so we did some dynamic stretching to loosen up. We sent a couple of volleys back and forth, and just as I started thinking "it's a gorgeous afternoon, maybe Speedminton is more fun than the pool anyway..."

I felt a pop.

**string of expletives redacted to spare sensitive readers' eyes**

My right calf feels like someone is jabbing a knife into the soft part.

My pf-ing foot had finally started to feel better. I was going easy on the return to running (which is partly why I was headed to the pool in the first place). I had even started to plan for two fall half marathons.

But clearly something is still wrong in my southern hemisphere.

Now if you'll excuse me...

I have some more cussing to do, and I am incapable of writing more at the moment without including the F-bomb. So I'll spare you the expletives and yell where only Peanut and Hubby can hear me.

Friday, September 14

Weekly roundup: Friday potluck

Welcome to another installment of the weekly roundup we all know and love: Friday potluck!

This week's theme: musical chairs.

Stupid people tricks

This week in the "don't try this at home" files: tourists in Yellowstone taunt a bison.
The shocker? The tourists are somehow shocked when the 1,800 pound animal charges them.

This isn't the first time I've talked about "vacation brain," but I'm still stupefied every time I witness another example. (Insert Harvey Danger lyrics here...)
As close as I ever want to get to a bison (Yellowstone, summer 2010)

Soulful tunes

Are you tired of hearing the same five songs on the radio? Do you like deep tracks and unique not-on-the-top-40-list discoveries ranging from R&B to Funk, from Gospel to Psych to Soul, and anything else you can think of?

Follow Coffeepot Records on Facebook for spam-free samples of music you won't find anywhere else.

I've got sunshine on a cloudy day

For every runner who complained about this summer's hot and miserable running weather: you weren't just being dramatic. This summer was the third hottest on record.

Toe-tapping good time

After the intro, this video shows the Dirty Dozen Brass Band performing a song any runner should appreciate. I love "My Feet Can't Fail Me Now" for so many reasons, not the least of which is that my toes start tapping as soon as I hear it.

So... the video is probably NSFW, but only because your co-workers might frown upon dancing in your cubicle. Here at my home office Peanut doesn't seem to mind that my... feet... can't... fail... me now! My feet can't fail me now!

Rockin' and runnin'

If you're thinking of running a Rock 'n' Roll race in 2013, there are some discount codes you should know about. Try code LUCKY13 on the 13th of any month to get a $13 discount off of your registration.

Speaking of discounts on races, for those of you in my neighborhood, the Gulf Coast Half Marathon Series is offering two races for (almost) the price of one. Normally $55 each, you can register for both the Gulf Shores Half and Pensacola Beach Half for less than $90. This is well worth the price IMHO - I loved Gulf Shores last year and Pensacola Beach isn't a bad race either

One last reminder

Tomorrow is International Coastal Cleanup Day.

If you can spare the time, spend a couple of hours picking up junk. It counts both as good karma and a good workout!

Oh, and the musical reference? Florida's sand sings.

I've heard the siren song of the sand, but didn't realize what it was until I read Lauren's tweet.

Quote of the week:
"My feet can't fail me now"
Dirty Dozen Brass Band

Happy Friday, friends!

Thursday, September 13

Thursday thanks

This week I'm thankful for a couple of treats...

First, I stopped in at a coffee shop yesterday to get my first pumpkin-spiced beverage of the season. (Cliche, I know. But I love 'em. There are worse habits to have...) When I ordered my drink, and handed over my re-usable coffee mug, the barista started a chatty conversation that kept me smiling for a good hour after I left the store.
Thank you coffee lady!
Second, my friend Miss M pinned a recipe for oatmeal peanut butter cookies.

I noticed the pin, thought "I love peanut butter and I love oatmeal cookies. Why not?!"

As soon as I wrapped up my work for the day, I was in the kitchen whipping up a batch of peanut butter goodness. And I am not a baker by any stretch of the imagination.

The recipe was easy to follow and the cookies were delicious.

Baker's note: I used half the amount of sugar called for in the recipe, since I'm not a fan of sweet peanut butter cookies. I also used natural you-have-to-stir-it peanut butter. As a result, the texture of the cookies was a little flakey -  more like a scone than a chewy cookie - but I will definitely make them again.

What are you thankful for this week?
Are you a baker, a cook, both, or none of the above?
I normally consider myself a cook, but after many years of prodding by friends, including Miss M, I occasionally follow a recipe and bake something.

Wednesday, September 12

Advice for beginning bloggers

Today's post is "advice for beginning bloggers" but it just as easily could have been titled "Sh*t I wish someone told me before I started!"

Last week a friend let me know that she was thinking about starting a blog. She's not the first person to come to me for blogging advice. I suspect she won't be the last. I've written several versions of my advice-for-beginning-bloggers over the past couple of years, and today I'm sharing my suggestions with all of you.

First and foremost...
Write things that you care about. You'll find your groove over time. But the single most important element of blogging is to be passionate about your subject. Passion shines through.

That said, there are some great posts to give new bloggers a little guidance about what works and what doesn't including Megan's post: Why I read your blog, and The Gourmet Runner's series on good and bad blogger behavior, especially: Why I love or hate your blog and The worst kind of blog post.

Also, while it's completely off-topic for running bloggers, Independent Fashion Bloggers (IFB) post daily tips and tricks on building a blog audience, keeping content relevant, ensuring good blog design, taking good photos, etc... I learn at least one new thing every week from IFB.

There are a few tabs and widgets your blog should have.
  • About. Give a brief background of your blog's purpose.
  • Search box. People will eventually want to go back and search for that post they liked 6 months ago. Do not hide it from them! A "Search Box" widget or gadget should appear somewhere on your blog.
  • A way to follow your blog. You can start with the basic "follow by email" option. You may eventually want to expand into Twitter and Facebook.
    • PS - When I started, I used an existing Gmail account for my Blogger login. If I had to make one change, I would have opened a new account for blog-business-only.
  • A way to contact you. You don't necessarily need to enable this right away, but eventually you'll want to list an email address where companies can contact you for reviews, etc...

Develop a comment policy and a product review policy. You probably won't need either one for the first couple of months, but you'll want 'em in place for those circumstances in which you have to delete a spam comment or you have to politely turn down the $25 that a company wants to pay you to post their pre-written content of a product you've never seen.

The Gourmet Runner provides some useful background on comment policy issues. Runblogger has an extensive and detailed review policy. My simple review policy is:
Companies and Race Organizers: My blog has a loyal following. I also write about fitness at and If you are interested in having me help you get the word out about a race, post a review* of your product, or host a giveaway, feel free to contact me at the address above. *All opinions expressed will be my own, and I will not post a review for a product I have not tried.
You also need to know the rules. For example, you are allowed to accept free products for review, but must disclose that they were given for free. The law also states that bloggers are not allowed to accept payment for reviews.

Another suggestion is to keep in mind that while most people are trustworthy, be a little wary about posting personal info that could be used to identify where you live, work, or what your schedule is. Monica provides a really excellent overview of blogger safety including suggestions on what to post and what to keep to yourself.

I'm happy to answer other blogging questions if you have any!

What suggestions would you give to a budding blogger?
What do you know now that wish you knew when you started?

Tuesday, September 11

moment of silence

today my run is my moment of silence...

Book blogger love

Happy Book Blogger Appreciation Week!

What? This is a running blog?

Well, let's be honest: book reviews are part of the fun here at yes, folks. I read as much as I run, and have written a review or three. So I signed up for the BBAW "interview swap." My partner in crime the interview swap is McKenna, the blogger behind Young at Heart.

McKenna may be young, but puts me to shame with the volume of books she reads. And her review policy is one of the most detailed I've seen!

McKenna (right) with her mom and brother
YF: So, McKenna, I see you've got quite a long list of books you've read already this year. (60!!!) How many books do you typically read each month?

YaH: I try to sit down and read at least 30 minutes each day, but sometimes that doesn't happen due to my hectic schedule. I can usually average 6-8 books a month, but when I have extra time (like around Christmas) I can usually read about 10. By no means am I a fast reader though. It can take me 6-8 hours to read a 300 page book.

YF: What made you want to start blogging about the books you read?

YaH: I have always loved reading and have always been encouraged in my love. My friends and family, though, do not share my love so I never had anyone to talk to about the books I was reading. I had been following a few book blogs for a while when I finally decided that I would take the plunge. I set up a domain and a few hours later I had my first review up!

YF: You have a very clear review policy. How did you decide what to review and how you would review it?

YaH: Since I started my blog, my review policy has evolved quite a bit due to events in the blogging world, discoveries of genres I like/dislike, etc. Being a teenager, it was pretty much a given that I read YA books. I am a somewhat picky person, so I knew it was important to state EXACTLY what I liked so the publisher/author knew up front what I liked.

YF: Have you ever received a book to review that you really did NOT like? How did you deal with the review on your blog (and how did you deal with breaking the news to the author)?

YaH: Being a newer blogger, I haven't quite gotten to the point where I am recieving a huge amount of review requests. The requests I have gotten and accepted have been for books that I have enjoyed (so far). I am sure that one day in the near future the day will come when I have to take actions, but for now that has not happened.

YF:& What do you do in your free time when you're not reading?

YaH: I love to hang out with my friends, bake (especially cookies!), play volleyball, and watch trashy TV. Oh, and sleep :) The best time of day is when I can settle down on the couch and relax with and episode of The Bachelor/Bachelorette/Bachelor Pad!

YF: Last, but not least, if you were stuck on a deserted island, what three books would you want to have with you, and why?

YaH: I would probably say the first or last three Harry Potter books. I have been meaning to re-read the series for a while now and they are pretty large so I figure they would tide me over at least for a little while. Plus, I would probably never get bored reading about Hogwarts.
For the record, with an average of 6-10 books a month, I can hardly believe McKenna says that she's not "a fast reader." I suppose, as in running, it's all about perspective. Heck, even Kara Goucher sometimes doubts her speed...

Dear readers, how would you answer these interview questions, especially that last one:
What book(s) would you want if you were stranded on a deserted island?

Monday, September 10

Morning motivation

It's back to school season.

It's book blogger appreciation week.

It's the season of shorter days, and cooler temperatures, perfect for curling up with a good book and a favorite beverage.

So today's motivation is to...
"Read  good books" letter blocks inspirational message from the Fort Walton schoolhouse museum.

What project are you inspired to work on this week?
What are you reading right now?

Sunday, September 9

My weekend (in photos)

This weekend I worked a lot, ran a little, and took some photos.

Rather than rant about working a full day on a Saturday or rave about how good my elliptical-to-treadmill 7-miler was (recovery run!), I figured I'd share a few of the photos.

The photos are a lot more fun.
Rainbow over the bayou on Saturday morning

Spotted an adorable little tree frog (I think it's a squirrel tree frog).
Any critter that eats bugs is a good critter in my book!

Signs of fall? Southern Tier Pumking (Imperial pumpkin ale) and a hard cider
make for-class reading feel less like work and more like a relaxing afternoon
I'd include photos of my Sunday afternoon football-watching, too, but I don't want a cease-and-desist from the NFL...

Friday, September 7

Weekly roundup: Friday potluck

Welcome to another installment of the weekly roundup we all know and love: Friday potluck! Today's smorgasbord is a truly random assortment of tasty bites from the week's news.

Thieves with 'sticky fingers' - literally

Thieves broke into a warehouse and stole... wait for it... maple syrup!
(I suspect Super Troopers had something to do with the crime.)

Food festivals

These international food festivals have me licking my chops, and re-writing my bucket list... well... except the bug-eating one.

Bad news for wine lovers

New research suggests that the blood pressure reducing effects of red wine only work if the wine is non-alcoholic. I should note that the study involved only a few dozen men, so the findings are not exactly conclusive proof in either direction.

Either way... Thank goodness I have the low blood pressure of a lifelong runner. Cheers!

From the pet files

Have you ever wanted an unusual pet?

Beverly of Northwest Florida Outdoor Adventure tells you what you need to know about having a pet flying squirrel.

Image source

A sticky (and sad) situation

Sadly, tar balls from the Deepwater Horizon disaster are still washing up on Gulf Coast beaches.

Yes, folks, I've had my fair share of run-ins with tar balls. (It sticks more tenaciously than tree sap.) No, the oil did not disappear. Gulf Coast beaches are still gorgeous to look at, but the environmental damage from that oil spill is still very real.

Faster than a speeding VP!

Surely you've heard by now that Paul Ryan lied about (ahem "mis-remembered") his marathon time. Regardless of your place on the political spectrum, Nitmos' satire of Ryan's math is knee-slappingly funny.

Quote of the week:
"You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can't know what's coming."
Frank Shorter

Happy Friday, friends!

Thursday, September 6

Thursday thanks

Please pardon the interruption:
This week's Thursday thanks is postponed to bring you a long-overdue, good, long run, courtesy of four weeks of rest and cranky plantar fascia.

Thursday thanks will resume at its regularly scheduled time next week.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some running to do!

Wednesday, September 5

Review of Ripped in 30

Over the past four weeks, while sidelined from running, I completed Jillian Michaels' Ripped in 30.

For the record: Something irks me about the titles of Jillian Michaels' workout videos. I don't want to rip or shred anything! I have spent my entire runner life trying not to tear or pull a muscle! I know... I know... she talks about proper form and injury prevention during the videos, but the titles are so... frantic.

But the workouts are good, so I look past the sensational titles. Honestly, I think being a Ripped in 30 graduate became a good (temporary) replacement for my 5k and half marathon goals while I was not able to run. After all, I'm not a "slacker runner" if I'm doing high intensity interval workouts for a few weeks, right?

Here's what I liked, and what I didn't like...

The Good:

I cannot speak highly enough of the 3, 2, 1 system: 3 minutes of multiple-muscle strength exercises, 2 minutes of high intensity cardio, 1 minute of core.

Even with a less-than-30-minute workout, I would be drenched in sweat and noodle-armed by the end.

The strength exercises are intense, and just when you think you can't do one more rep, you switch to another exercise.

I also appreciate the brevity of the workout. I can crank out a session before my morning classes on busy days.

The Bad:

There were a few exercises that raised my eyebrows.

Full sit-ups and leg lifts are notoriously bad for your back. I often found myself modifying the core work to include equally-tough, but less controversial moves (planks, hollow-man, crunches).

While we're talking about modifications, I am a fan of JM's plyometric cardio exercises, but with nagging plantar fasciitis, I had to modify some of those to lower-impact options for this go-around. Fortunately JM provides several low-impact cardio moves over the course of the 4 weeks. Whenever a jumping routine would come up, I'd either substitute another of her lower-impact options, or I'd add a set of squats or static lunges.

Also I really enjoyed weeks 1 and 4, but week 2 was a workout that I simply "got through" rather than a workout that I "liked."

The Results:

I should have Hubby write this section... I think he has noticed more change in my muscle definition than I have. He keeps poking my biceps and calling them guns.

From my perspective, I had to stop stepping on a scale while doing Ripped in 30 because my weight was going up, not down, even though my clothes were fitting better. (Another reason to kill the bathroom scale!)

The Verdict:

The program was highly effective for me, and I am sure I'll go through the circuits again.

What's your favorite at-home workout? Least favorite?
What's your take on the "Ripped," "Shredded," and "Insanity" naming phenomenon?

Tuesday, September 4

Coastal cleanup

For this Travel Tuesday I'd like to highlight a global effort:
Next Saturday (September 15th) is International Coastal Cleanup Day.
Trash along Santa Rosa Sound
I know... I know... this is a running blog.
But more than half of the U.S. population lives in a coastal county. So it's not a stretch to think that many of us run along the shoreline.
How many cigarette butts can you find in this one photo from Pensacola Beach?

And our beaches need a good cleaning. Consider, for example, the cleanup stats:
  • In 2009 volunteers picked up more than 1 million single-use plastic bags
  • Last year in San Diego County volunteers cleaned up: "146,000 pounds of trash and recyclables from 201 miles of shoreline. Plus, over 2,000 of our friends across the border collected 42,000 pounds in Tijuana, Tecate, Rosarito and Ensenada."
  • In Broward County, FL "Over 34,000 [cigarette] butts were cleaned from the beaches and one site, which combined all the cigarette butts collected by the volunteers, filled a bag that weighed 10 pounds."

Just a couple of hours of work can have a huge, positive effect on our oceans, bays, and waterways. The cleanup makes our environment healthier and our running routes and vacation spots prettier. Few things in life are as clearly a win-win situation.

So if you can spare a few hours on Saturday the 15th, please take part in a cleanup. If you send me your photos or a link to your blog post, I'll highlight the cleanups the following Tuesday.

You can search the online database to find a location near you.
California residents can find a location or contact a coordinator online.
Florida residents can contact their county's cleanup captain.

Have you ever done a coastal cleanup?
What's the oddest item you've found?

If you have information about cleanups in your area, please leave the details in the comments.