Running: my cape is in the wash

Hello friends,

Last weekend I ran the Morristown Superhero half, dressed in something fun, embracing the superhero theme, but run friendly.

There were four of us running the event: my running friend, her husband, his brother, and me.  Batgirl, Batman, Green Lantern, and me… Supergirl.  

Race day:
I stepped out the door to 78F, 90% humidity, no clouds. 2:10-2:20 was my BRF's goal.  The humidity would drop to 50% within an hour of the start, and the pace wasn't an issue.

Note… the weekend before we added one last long run to our schedule.  My usual weekend run, the yellow trail.  A five mile loop that we ran twice. She paces us on the trail, running single file. During the last mile, I tripped and rolled my ankle.  It was bothering me all week but only for the first few minutes of the day.  This let me know it wasn’t serious but to be gentle all week.  Saturday the pain was worse, on race day I couldn’t put weight on it as I climbed down a flight of stairs.  After 5-10 minutes, the pain is gone so I self diagnosis a strain. I will run and then take some time off to let it heal.

I got this.

The starting line:
To get to the starting line, we had to walk through the racers lined up at the front.  I guess something happened last minute to cause the situation (strange right?). We just stood off to the side and waited for the 2:15 pacer to run by, and then joined to crossed the start line.

Here we go!

The first six miles offer several hills and no shade.  My 10:30 miler BRF surprised me by running fast.  I remember thinking to myself that we will slow down, she doesn’t run this fast.  I was fine with the pace but my body wasn’t happy the hot/sticky start.

Looking back I wonder if having her husband running (his goal was 1:40) brought out a competitive spirit... which I totally support.  Of the four miles we ran together, we didn’t talk so I knew she was demanding a lot from of herself (she talks, I mostly listen).

I separated from her at mile four.  My ankle didn’t feel great, I was mentally prepared for 2:10, and the heat was draining. I dropped back to a pace that felt good and kept running.

For me personally…. this was the best decision.

At mile seven I heard a woman behind me let out a whimper.  We had been running straight into the sun for about a mile, just minutes away from three miles of shady trail.  One look at her told me that she was having a bad day, so I decided to stay with her for a few minutes.  She told me that she was struggling with the heat.

I learned that her name is Rachel. She started running a few years ago, after the birth of her fourth child. She held a tiny pink t-shirt in her hand, and her feet were on fire. I wasn’t leaving her side.

My costume didn’t have pockets, so I decided to run with a handheld water bottle. I had 2 GU, gum, and SPF lip balm in the zipper pouch.  I gave her a GU and had her drink my water.  I refilled the water bottle at the next water stop. 

With no medical in sight, I ran silently next her, asking for a thumbs up/down every few minutes.  It was a terrible day for runners.  I saw at least six people on stretchers, all with issues much more serious than Rachel’s.  We walked. We jogged.  My goal was to get her to a water stop outside the wooded trail, hoping there would be medical care.   I couldn’t leave her in the woods.

She told me she had to drop her daughters pink t-shirt she held for ten miles.

I stayed with her until mile 11, handing her off to medical. She kept apologizing for slowing me down, and I replied ‘thank you for letting me run with you.'

My BRF had a personal best, finishing with 2:03, I finished 2:15.  These three miles will forever be on my short list of running experiences. 

The next day:
My friend called to see how my foot was, the pain now an all-day dull ache.

She told me, in a kind voice, “you’re a better person than me. I don't think I would have stayed with her.”  I understand what she meant, there were plenty of people around us but I wasn’t trying to qualify, was running alone, and this was a fun run for me.  I just know how much I would have appreciated the kindness of a fellow runner. Something you experience in the 10 miler group of a marathon.  It starts around mile 18.

What's next? 
Local 10K's this summer, and I have entered the lottery for the 2016 London Marathon...

Life: Hello May!

Hello lovely friends,

Can you believe it's May?  It was 84 degrees on Tuesday, will be 80 today.  Warm weather has me running at 6AM, a trend that will continue until fall.

I have been so busy, wanting to catch everyone up on life, how I'm spending my days, what I'm planning, etc... I write posts in my head while running, or walking the dogs, but haven't found a way to translate my thoughts into a post. So here's a quick update.  

April highlights:
- re-entry from Europe... three weeks of laundry, mail, etc.
- construction is done in the basement, shifting to decorating, buying bar-ware, etc...
- with the pool table moving downstairs, I claimed the empty room as my workspace. I painted it in two days and decorated it with a collection of old favorite items gathered from within our home (translation... free).
- an old friend came to stay for a week, lot's of laughter, shopping, eating
- NYC day trip to shop
- a day trip to explore the streets of my hometown
- I'm training for a half marathon
- hosted a party for 75, planning, cooking everything from scratch, including homemade potato chips(!)
- the world traveler was in the hospital just days before the party
- many days/nights socializing with friends, attending lectures

After photos: 
Here are a few photos from the project that consumed my free time, over the last three months.

Welcome to our 'Aspen Modern' design: a place to relax and watch a movie, entertain, or take a sauna.  Complete with a full bath (TV over the urinal), a golf simulator and a cigar/poker room for the men. The world traveler's escape.

The second photo is my new office.  Opting for a flat workspace vs a desk for now, with space to store yarn and books to read.  It faces the backyard, replacing the street view for wilderness.  I love it. 

Listening to:
I have been busy listening to a few new podcasts that have led me a slew of new blogs. 

- Gretchen Rubin has a new podcast about happiness and organizing {yeah for me}
- Pure Green Podcast - interviews and all things organic
- One Part Podcast - interviews, recipes, self exploration/improvement stories 

Goodreads: I'm always updating books I can't wait to read, what I'm reading and short reviews.  You can find my '2015 books read' listed to the right, or click here to connect/see what's piquing my interest.

This week I'm listening to Brain on Fire.  A book I want to devour but I'm only listening while walking the dogs.

I'm half way through It's You.   I love how Jane Porter pulls characters forward, a thread connecting several novels.

So far, I recommend both!

Looking forward to:
Like many, I'm getting ready to plant the garden this weekend.  This year I'm adding strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries plants.  I just need to find a home for them, for the best growing conditions.

We will prepare the deck this weekend (stain, plant flowers, etc.) and enjoy a late evening BBQ to celebrate our efforts. We also have a new outdoor space this year,  with the basement finished we are going to set up the patio for the first time.

I'm running in the Superhero Half Marathon in two weeks, in a costume!

In June, I have a girl's weekend planned in Nashville.

Then my focus shifts to planning our next big event.  We have rented an island in October to celebrate the World Traveler's 50th birthday.  Imagine water filled days and starry nights on the beach, a fire pit, good friends, and family.

While I love, love winter... I'm ready to embrace long summer days and cool nights.
Much love, Mari

Books I can't wait to read!

Hello friends,

After a long snowy winter, it's time to dream of summer: gardens growing, crisp morning runs, warm days, cool nights, barbeques, and  relaxing on the deck with a good book.  It's so close!

I have added several books to my TBR list over the last few weeks. Most are titles I'm eager to read but do not publish until summer, forcing me to practice patience.

While I wait to be outside more, I will work on a new design project - my new two room office/workspace.  An office and three season porch.   I can't wait to curl up with a book and enjoy the porch on a summer day.  More on this later... and a wrap up of our basement renovation.

Cheers, Mari

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The Status of All Things: pub date, June 2
Kate is a thirty-five-year-old woman who is obsessed with social media. So when her fiancĂ©, Max, breaks things off at their rehearsal dinner—to be with Kate’s close friend and coworker, no less—she goes straight to Facebook to share it with the world. But something’s changed. Suddenly, Kate’s real life starts to mirror whatever she writes in her Facebook status. With all the power at her fingertips, and heartbroken and confused over why Max left her, Kate goes back in time to rewrite their history.

Kate's two best friends, Jules and Liam, are the only ones who know the truth. In order to convince them she’s really time traveled, Kate offers to use her Facebook status to help improve their lives. But her attempts to help them don’t go exactly as planned, and every effort to get Max back seems to only backfire, causing Kate to wonder if it’s really possible to change her fate.

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The Knockoff: pub date, May 19
An outrageously stylish, wickedly funny novel of fashion in the digital age, The Knockoff is the story of Imogen Tate, editor in chief of Glossy magazine, who finds her twentysomething former assistant Eve Morton plotting to knock Imogen off her pedestal, take over her job, and reduce the magazine, famous for its lavish 768-page September issue, into an app.

A glittering, uproarious, sharply drawn story filled with thinly veiled fashion personalities, The Knockoff is an insider’s look at the ever-changing world of fashion and a fabulous romp for our Internet-addicted age.

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The Rumor: pub date, June 16 
Nantucket writer Madeline King couldn't have picked a worse time to have writer's block. Her deadline is looming, her bills are piling up, and inspiration is in short supply. Madeline's best friend Grace, is hard at work transforming her garden into the envy of the island with the help of a ruggedly handsome landscape architect. Before she realizes it, Grace is on the verge of a decision that will irrevocably change her life. Could Grace's crisis be Madeline's salvation? As the gossip escalates, and the summer's explosive events come to a head, Grace and Madeline try desperately to set the record straight--but the truth might be even worse than rumor has it.

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Summer Secrets: pub date, June 23  
A story of one woman struggling to right the wrongs of her past, with even more complications in the present.

June, 1998: At twenty seven, Catherine Coombs, also known as Cat, is struggling. She lives in London, works as a journalist, and parties hard. Her lunchtimes consist of several glasses of wine at the bar downstairs in the office, her evenings much the same, swigging the free booze and eating the free food at a different launch or party every night. When she discovers the identity of the father she never knew she had, it sends her into a spiral. She makes mistakes that cost her the budding friendship of the only women who have ever welcomed her. And nothing is ever the same after that.

June, 2014: Cat has finally come to the end of herself. She no longer drinks. She wants to make amends to those she has hurt. Her quest takes her to Nantucket, to the gorgeous summer community where the women she once called family still live. Despite her sins, will they welcome her again? What Cat doesn’t realize is that these women, her real father’s daughters, have secrets of their own. As the past collides with the present, Cat must confront the darkest things in her own life and uncover the depths of someone’s need for revenge.

Life: a book and a podcast

Hello friends,

May I share a secret with you? Most know I'm a vegetarian, prefer raw food, and if not for baked goods I would be vegan (eggs/dairy).  Several years ago I embraced the reusable grocery bag and try to buy organic/local.

Confession: in 2004 I made cleaning products for our home.  Why? I was curious and while my family doesn't live 'off the grid' it was a small change with good benefits.

But... slowly I ran out of ingredients to make products and started buying mostly organic.  While this is great, it comes with packaging.  My family recycles but we could do better, so we try to bring as little garbage into our home as possible. 

I have been following homesteader/author Ashley English for a few years. Reading her books/blog inspire me.  A few months ago she was interviewed on a podcast for Pure Green Magazine,  my new obsession.  I appreciate the approach to try... simply try and celebrate small changes.  Back in 2004 I tried to implement change too quickly.  Today I'm making small steps.

I bought the book All you need is Less after listening to a podcast.  The book includes strategies/practical tips to live with less, and recipes to make several items from a few shared ingredients. This is right up my alley, right Robin?!

While in Budapest with friends a few weeks ago, I shared some of the ideas and recipes I was interested to try.  A few are curious to hear if homemade laundry soap works, and they are all interested in the two ingredient shampoo and conditioner.

Baby steps... let's start with laundry soap.

First, I purchased two bars of lavender soap (from a countryside Hungarian family selling the soap).  Sounds wonderful right?

I couldn't wait to get home and try making a batch of laundry soap, even though I was a little skeptical.  Saturday I made one batch, four cups that will last for 70 loads of dirty laundry.  Total cost: $3.00 USD. I tried it yesterday and my laundry is soft, and the smell is a non-chemical clean making me want to wash everything right now.  After one load... I'm hooked.

To compare: Vaska uses 5 ingredients, Meyer's lists 20, and Tide doesn't list their ingredients.

I have been using Vaska for about a year, I love it but want to eliminate packaging where possible this year.

Have you tried to make anything homemade?

Book Reviews: 1Q2015 edition

Hello friends,

The first three months of 2015 have kept me very busy. A basement renovation, family and friends visiting, dinner parties and a three week holiday in which I slept, read, ran, explored cities and villages.  It was a lovely holiday. 

One look at my list of books read will confirm that I'm enjoying realistic fiction.  I have read twelve books this year, five while on vacation.  I love the gift of time, to relax and decompress in a foreign city.

1.  The Longest Ride - A good friend loved this book and asked me to read it.
2.  Lies you wanted to Hear - A twisty novel, something I always enjoy.
3.  Sweet Salt Air - a nice novel set in a lovely place. 

4.  The Grownups - A second novel from an author I enjoy. If you enjoyed Maine, you would like this book.
5.  You - I read this after hearing so much about it, and it has been opted for a television series.

6.  The Homecoming of Samuel Lake - BN deal of the day that had been sitting in my Nook library far too long.
7.  A Small Indiscretion - If you like complicated life stories like I do, you will love this one.
8.  Genesis Code - discovered while perusing the shelves at a bookstore, I didn't love this one...
9.  Kaleidoscope Hearts - Goodreads recommended this for me so I bought the Nook version for my trip.  A light, quick, fun read.
10. Handle with Care - One of my favorite Jodi Picoult novels. Loved it! { favorite book read this year}
11. Beyond Belief: my secret life inside Scientology - I enjoy reading memoirs.  I learned so much about a religion in which I knew nothing.  A powerful story.
12. Another Piece of my Heart - I bought this book last fall.  Jane Green has been tackling tough subjects lately.

Goodreads: I'm always updating books I can't wait to read, what I'm reading and short reviews.  You can find my '2015 books read' listed to the right, or click here to connect/see what's piquing my interest.

2015 looks to be a year when many of my favorite authors are planning to publish.  I have a long list of books I can't wait to read... when they publish.

What are you reading?