Saturday, December 31, 2011

#reverbroads11: A Week-Long Catch Up

I'm participating in #ReverbBroads11, a month of blog prompts promised to be silly and reflective. Given the craziness of the holidays, I have happily been away from my computer for the week... but am paying for it now. So, here's the shortest versions possible of all this week's posts. Enjoy!

December 25 - Silent Sunday - Just post a picture that represents your day.
Christmas dinner on the back patio - only in 70-degree Southern California! Merry Christmas!
December 26 - Write about the things you collect, include photos, tell why these items are cherished by you. (via Catie)
I've gone through some crazy wave of random collections. As a kid, I collected rocks (not just backyard rocks, but like gemstones you can buy at campground gift stores and such), keychains (I was once that girl who walked around sounding like a wind chime because I had all 47 of them on my backpack), and gosh knows what else. I think my favorite collection(s) are: Christmas ornaments and magnets. They both represent all the places I've been and visited (and in some magnet cases, places others have been). My family has collected Christmas ornaments from our vacations for as long as I can remember, and when I started doing a lot of my own traveling in grad school primarily, I kept up the tradition for myself. My Boston ornament is a wreath with lobsters in it, my Hawaii ornament is Santa surfing and posted next to a palm tree. I love being able to look at them each year, when I put them up, and remembering all the amazing places I've been lucky enough to go! Magnets are the same, they're just a daily reminder, which is sometimes just as great!

December 27 - What does your office/home/bedroom tell others about you? (via Kristen)
My office is still only about halfway put together, but I think for what it is (currently) and what it will be, it says a lot. My office is a daily reminder of where I've been and what I've done - and helps me remember that each day. I think it says about me that I try and remember that, to know that I've been lucky enough to love what I do, and have had the opportunities that have crossed my path! I'm a lucky one! This is right above my desk in my office, and yet to be hung are my diplomas and some other miscelleneous wall art. I'm reflective, love knowing others personally, and that's why I love having pieces about me all over my office walls. It's important.
And thanks to my uncle, I can finally add my NAU penant! Yay!
December 28 - Do you consider yourself a romantic person? Do you prefer fancy dinners, roses and chocolate romantic, or are you more non-traditional? (via Kassie)
I think I consider myself a romantic person, and while I love the sweep-me-off-my-feet stories, I like things to be personalized to me. While roses are pretty, they're not always my favorite. I can be won over with ice cream over a box of chocolates. So romantic in the sense of knowing me and my taste and not just going for the stereotypical.

December 29 - What was the soundtrack of your year? Of your life? Which songs most strongly represent the various eras of your life? What songs were playing for the most crucial, formative moments of your life? Or, if the chronological approach doesn't work for you, which songs best capture the different facets of your life? (Childhood, Love Life, Adulthood, Loss, Growth, Career, Happiness, Sadness, etc.)  Please elaborate. (via Bethany/Katie)
This is SO hard. I can't even being to think about songs that represent my life. However, for the year, it was a lot of up and down, and while the end of my year featured a hard dash back into running and making that my life again, I think all the songs on my running playlist are there for a reason - peppy, upbeat, (with few exceptions) and keep me going. Favorites? Neon Trees (1983 & Your Surrender), Young the Giant (My Body - new fave!), Rihanna (We Found Love) and some random others. I love anything that keeps me on my toes, up and moving.

December 30 - If you could go on a trip regardless of cost, where would you go and what would you see? (via Dana)
Easy. Everywhere. No, really, like a round-the-world cruise. South Africa, New Zealand, Egypt, India, Russia, Sweden, Portugal, Greece, Brazil, Chile. Take me everywhere, please!

December 31 - What is your "one word"? One word for this year, one word for next year. (via Amy )
I know I set a word for 2011, but I couldn't even tell you what it was. Something related to job-searching, surely, but... clearly it didn't hold that much value to me this year. For 2012, however, I've narrowed my word to focus. I wanted a word that I could apply to personal and professional life, that would allow me to keep moving forward, growing, and taking in all that I could. Focus. With running, it's focusing on my goals (half-marathon January 29 and hopeful for others!) but focusing to be sure I don't hurt myself again (two knee surgeries is enough, thank you) and to listen to my body when it tells me to mellow out. With my personal life (or current lack there of in Athens), it's finding things I like doing and making a place for myself in a new community. Professionally, it's remembering why I do what I do and making sure I am doing what I can to make the best for myself in this position. It's been a rough transition and I know I just need to allow myself to settle in a little more and make the best of it. If I focus, I know I can do just that. Bring it on, 2012!

And there you have it. Many thanks to all those that contributed to Reverb Broads, it's been fun!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Training: 5 Weeks Away!

This was supposed to be posted yesterday, but I figured I'd spend the day off the computer. :) So you get it now... enjoy. As of yesterday (Christmas Day), we are 5 weeks away from the big day!

Sunday: 3 miles
3.23 miles = 24:35 minutes / 7:51 minute miles
After a day of laundry, errands, and cleaning, the last thing I wanted to do was run, but it was an absolutely gorgeous day outside and I knew I couldn't pass it up. Well, apparently a gorgeous day and running in just leggings and a short sleeve shirt does a body good! I cut another 55 seconds off my PR, the one that I had just run like five days ago! Awesome.
Monday: Rest
That's just what I did.

Tuesday: 5 miles
4.85 miles = 41:56 minutes / 8:38 minute miles
I cut it short this morning; this run wasn't hard, but I need to find a good 5-mile route for all these 5-milers coming up the next few weeks. This was a good run, though; it wasn't as cold as it's been, so I got some great outdoor time. After this run, and looking at my mileage and timing, I realized that I slowly but surely am getting into shape! It's feeling good to see all these sub-9 miles, even if they are only on 4 mile runs.
Wednesday: 5 miles
5.02 miles = 46:06 minutes / 9:10 minute miles
I knew since I didn't make it to 5 on Tuesday, I knew I needed to push it and make it happen today! I was feeling a little sluggish, stressing over everything I had to get done before I flew home on Friday. I've also learned that the days I don't run, I don't sleep well -- however, Tuesday night seemed to be different and I slept terribly, so I think that contributed to some of the sluggishness on Wednesday. But made it work and kniocked out the 5.
Thursday: Cross-Train
My cross-training was running all over town and finishing my errands before I got on that plane Friday morning! I sprinted store to store in what added up to be 6-minute miles... just kidding. But I did do lots of running around!
Friday: Rest
Travel day! I was so excited to be going home, but this day was quite busy before I even headed to the airport! By 7:45 am, Molly was already at her kennel (I hate dropping her off; I know she's fine, I know she'll be fine, but I hate it); at 8:10 am, was dropping off the car at the body shop so she could get fixed while I was gone, and they took me to the hotel where the airport shuttle was picking me up. 9:15 am, was on the road to the airport. So, mind you, I figured it was December 23, Friday before Christmas, and well Atlanta is very wishy-washy in its busy-ness levels. So I got to the airport almost 3 hours before my flight, only to get through security in 10 minutes. Boo. So I got to chill for a while, which was actually kind of nice. My side of the terminal wasn't busy at all, so it was a mellow few hours, thankfully, before a long flight.
Somehwere over West Texas... or New Mexico. Take your pick!
Got home, into the madness of LAX, where my sister picked me up! I had all plans to get In N Out on the way home (personal tradition) but I was so hungry and tired, I just wanted to get home!
Los Angeles!
So I did, and was promptly greeted by the whole fam and my favorite Hungarian comfort food. Glorious. And then, my favorite silly tradition: the Chino Hills Boat Parade! Mind you, we're about 40 miles inland, so yes... boats are paraded down the street, towed by their trucks, decked out in lights... and it's awesome. It's only a few years old, but has become one of my favorite silly things to do.
Chino Hills Boat Parade!
Saturday: 6 miles
6.03 miles = 53:54 minutes / 8:56 minute  miles
I knew if I could handle last week's 8-mile run pretty easily, I should be able to handle these 6 miles. I wish I would have timed it for a full 10K, just to see where I'm at! But this run was fabulous - it was so great to able to run in 40 degrees instea of 30 (it makes a big difference!). I snaked down from my  parents house, down to my old high school, all the way around it, up through some neighborhoods, back into my parents' track, figure-eight through the blocks to finish off the 6. It was a great morning run and a great way to start off my Christmas weekend. Next week is 7-miles, which I may push up a bit since I did 8 miles last weekend, I might be able to push it a little bit.

Christmas Eve run.

Merry Christmas from Southern California!
'Twas glorious. Oh, and I got my In N Out on Christmas Eve. Perfect. Hope you all had a great holiday, later this week I'll do my Christmas-shenanigans post! Hope your weekend and days were filled with love, laughter, and those you love.

Total Week Mileage: 19.2 miles! Score!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

#reverbbroads11: Memorable Holiday Moments

I'm participating in #ReverbBroads11, a month of blog prompts promised to be silly and reflective. I'm actually doing today's post on time. December 24 prompt:  Name your top 5 best holiday gifts given or received. Who gave it to you? Who were you giving it to? Why was it memorable? (via Kassie)

There are some Christmases I feel that I've put way too much thought into some gifts, while some people always have come easy. This Christmas was tough, both financially and in terms of coming up with ideas, so I'm excited so many of my gifts are homemade this year and I can only hope my family loves them. I've actually beeen pretty stumped by this top 5 prompt, so they may be a mix of gifts givena and received, in addition to a few traditions.

1. I'm laughing as I type this one (my mom apparently didn't know the whole story, and I just shared it with her across the table. She says it's a sad memory, I think it's funny). Picture this: fourth grade, I'm 10. It's Christmas Eve, and there's a pretty, shiny, teal bicycle under (er, next to) the Christmas tree at my aunt's house, where we spend every Christmas Eve and have for as long as I can remember. I see the bicycle, it has my name on it, and I am crushed. Why? Because now it's been declared official to me that Santa isn't real. You see, my older cousin and I had been goofing off and snooping (as every good kid does) the week or two before, and found the bicycle in the stable. We knew it was probably for me, but I was happily in denial. Well... bicycle under the tree, you confirrmed it.
Mom and Dad with their book!

2. My mom and I both said this one out loud as soon as I asked her and my sister about this prompt -- 2008, again, Christmas Eve. We all open presents in one mass flurry of red and green paper, ribbons and bows... this one was different. My sister asked us all to open ours ("us" being me, my parents, each of my cousins, and my aunt and uncle) all together. Obviously, it was the same thing. My sister had made photo books (on Shutterfly, I think) capturing the memories and silliness of our years and years of Christmas Eves. To this day, it sits out on my coffee table during the holiday season and every year as soon as I unpack it, I flip through it for some chuckles and reliving.

Me, my sister, and her quilt.
3. I feel like all these awesome gifts are lately (minus the bicycle). My sister was a senior in college Christmas 2009, and having been active in her sorority since her freshman year, I wanted to capture that some how. How best? A t-shirt quilt, of course. I asked her to send me some of her favorite Phi Sig shirts that she never wore but couldn't get herself to get rid of. A few weeks before Christmas, I had about ten shirts in my mailbox and was so excited to get to work! A co-worker of mine taught me how to piece them and sew them all together and on Christmas Eve, she got her t-shirt quilt. I was really proud of it, having put it all together myself, and hope she cherishes it as much as I think she does in my head!

4. Christmas 2006 -- I was smack in the middle of the ACUHO-I internship process. I had just finished my applications, was getting ready (and really nervous!) for interviews after Winter Break in January, but was excited for some really cool opportunities. For Christmas, my parents know how to pay really close attention to things I'm big on that year, or things going on around my life. That Christmas, they got me a brand new, beatiful navy luggage set. Growing up, I had dozens of soccer duffle bags and random other suitcases, but never a pretty 5-piece set of my own! I was SO excited. I'll never forget look on my dad's face as he came around the corner of the hallway, around the tree, and wheeled the set practically straight into my lap and said, "For the internship I KNOW you'll be doing this summer." I  had never (okay, maybe not never) felt more set on setting myself up to do something my parents were proud of me for! (Side note: I didn't get an internship, and was totally and utterly crushed. However, this 5-piece set has gotten more than its fair share of air mileage in the last five years, between trips home, conferences, and other random adventures. I still hope I make my parents proud)

5. I'm stuck. Seriously. Can I come back to this one?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

#reverbbroads11: The Game of Life

I'm participating in #ReverbBroads11, a month of blog prompts promised to be silly and reflective. I'm actually doing today's post on time. December 22 prompt: If someone made a board game of your life, what would it look like? What pieces would you need to play? (via Jessica)

This one has been hard for me! There are so many games I would tailor mine after, of course with my own Megan-esque adaptations. Favorite games? Monopoly, LIFE, Candy Land, Yahtzee! I'm what you might call competitive. So really, any game where I can duke it out with someone else and actually be declared winner, I'm all about it.

I think my board game would look like a US road map; it would incorporate my love of travel, but also my adventures in moving around the country and all I've been able to do! I think the game pieces would be various replications of things I love - a running shoe, soccer ball, dog, jewelry!

Other than that... no rules yet. Maybe I'll devise a mock-up.

Happy Holidays!

Today is my last day of work for 2011 - tomorrow, I am off to the land of sunshine (not really, lately), palm trees, and most importantly... all my loved ones! I am so excited to be home for Christmas. Normally, I'm antsy/anxious, but I will say this year, I'm truly excited. I think that partially comes along with a tougher-than-expected adjustment to the new state, job, and way of living!

With that... I leave you with this. This is my first project when I get back in January. Super excited!
 She's gonna be super pretty - I'm thinking white legs and a new, sharp black fabric. It'll go perfectly in my all black-and-white bedroom, at the foot of my bed! Better yet, she was only $10 from CraigsList (it had been posted for almost two months at $15 and I finally emailed the woman and asked if she'd take just $10 for it just to get rid of it. Win!). I may actually need to finally invest in a staple gun for this one, there's some tricky parts to her.

And since I don't have a tree of my own this year to show off...
University of Georgia Tate Student Center Christmas tree!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

#reverbbroads11: Doing My Education Over

I'm participating in #ReverbBroads11, a month of blog prompts promised to be silly and reflective. I'm actually doing today's post on time. December 21 prompt:  If you returned (or went, if you've never been) to college to study anything you want, what would you major in, and why? (via Matt

Obviously not from my years!
This is a super easy post for me because I've pondered this over and over since I graduated. Haha. Well, the story... I was a journalism major in college. I was involved in my high school newspaper, QUEST, Editor in Chief my senior year, yadda yadda. My journalism teacher and I had a deal, you  know, unofficially: I get my journalism degree, get my master's in English, teaching credential, then he'll retire and I'll get his spot. Naturally. And, well, I liked writing, I had fun, so that's what I did. And truth, I liked my major until about halfway through when I realized I wasn't sure it was what I could do for a living. I liked writing on my own time, at my own pace, and making it work for me, not the deadline. Yep. It's okay, though, because that's when I learned of student affairs as a professional so I had a real back up plan anyway. So I continued with my degree plan and finished it on track in three years. Yeah. I was crazy.

My minor was Spanish - I had taken Spanish all four years of high school, finished in AP IV, it just came easy from day one. So easy, in fact, I earned myself the nickname of Mexican Megan by my teacher and peers. So, again, I followed suit with what made sense for me, minor it! Had I stayed at NAU one more semester, and taken probably three classes, I could have finished with the double major. I'm glad I didn't (I was SO done with school at that point), but I wish I had at the same time.

Now that you know that history, if I went back to school, I'd do the follow (I'm partially cheating because these are also on my life bucket list):
  • Finish my Spanish degree - obviously.
  • Bachelor's in Social Psychology - after my three years in Res Life and now mixed with my student affairs background, I'm fascinated by the connections our students make to each other and how those interactions influence (oftentimes) their day-to-day behavior. I am truly just fascinated. So one day I actually very much want to go back to school and do a psych program just for curiosity's sake.
And there you have it! 


#reverbbroads11: Artsy Fartsy

I'm participating in #ReverbBroads11, a month of blog prompts promised to be silly and reflective. I seem to be following an every-other-day pattern, so I apologize. I'll try and get better! December 20 prompt: Life is a work of art, or so they say.  What beauty do you regularly appreciate/revere in your life? (via Neha)

I've never been the most artistic person. And honestly, with that, I can say I didn't really have a true appreciation for any sort of artistic talent - paintings, dance, song, whatever. I like(d) songs, I like(d) watching people dance, but couldn't say I honestly appreciated it. I played the clarinet for four months in the fourth grade; I kind of refused to practice, so that was the end of that. I grew up playing soccer, but was part of a dancing/singing group for a few years in elementary school. Couldn't tell you I was any good at it, but I knew the choreography! I would say now, that an accurate statement for me is that I appreciate talent. Mostly because I still have none.

Like this: such a random, but SO COOL, talent. How do you discover/learn you can do this?!:

When I saw the Rockettes a few weekens ago, I was truly in awe at some of the skill of these women. And made me sincerely jealous, since I have not a single ounce of dancing gene in my body:

So, while I wish I had a talent of my own, I can appreciate others. Moreso than ever before, mostly because I wish I had my own. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Just wanted to send you all a little holiday love from the pup and me!
Happy Holidays! <-- link! Enjoy! :)

(& Molly)

#reverbbroads11: A Photo Entry

I'm participating in #ReverbBroads11, a month of blog prompts promised to be silly and reflective. I seem to be following an every-other-day pattern, so I apologize. I'll try and get better! December 19 prompt: Post a picture of you that you like, write about yourself, post a video - what do you want your self-portrait to say about you? (via Kristen)

I have a few photos I'd like to use. I wish I had more from when I was a kid, but unfortunately they're almost all at my parents' house (guess I'll have to steal a few when I go home for Christmas), so almost all of these are from the last few years, but I think still contribute to painting an accurate portrait of myself. 

Give me sweets. And I'm yours. And I always happily cheeseball it up for photos to show you I'm excited for something. (Magnolia Bakery, NYC, March 2011)
See last statement of above caption. Fun-loving, silly, will sometimes happily make a fool of myself. (Magic Square, SWACURH 2010)

Animal lover to the core, but particularly with my own fur-baby. Also, adventurous -- willing to live (almost) anywhere for a while, just to try it out! Who knew there was snow in Texas?! (Not I.) (Molly & I, San Marcos, February 2011)
Kid at heart. I love Tigger, always have, always will. And yes, I stood in a very long line and was the oldest by far of said kids in line. Happily. Kid at heart, and I love to embrace it! (Disney World, June 2010)

Monday, December 19, 2011

#reverbbroads11: Weekend Catch-Up

I'm participating in #ReverbBroads11, a month of blog prompts promised to be silly and reflective. I'm playing catch-up after a weekend of no-computer-ness (it was glorious) so this is the weekend's worth all in one. Pardon me - I talk fast.

Saturday, December 17:  Instead of a list of your favorite things, write a list of your least favorite things, e.g. Worst book you ever finished, the color you hate, bad songs, bad romances, bad recipes. (courtesy of Amy).
  • Least favorite Christmas song: A Baby Changes Everything (Faith Hill). I'm not even sure you can count it as a Christmas song (until you read the second-to-last stanza), but an Atlanta-based station plays it SO often, and the lyrics just irk me. Signifcantly. So much so that I turn the radio off every time the song comes on.
  • Least favorite color: I used to be able to flat out say orange and brown. However, I will say that while they're not my favorite, they have slightly inched their way into my closet and I will, on occasion, actually wear them in public. :)
  • Least favorite chore: (if you follow me on Twitter, you can guess this one based on yesterday's posts) laundry! Especially with having no washer/dryer at my apartment currently (one of the sacrifices I made to finding somewhere to live quickly), I absolutely despise going to the laundromat. I was in and out in under two hours yesterday and wanted to sing at the top of my lungs I was so excited. Just to avoid it as much as possible, I go probably once a month. Ugh. (Second to that is ironing... bluh)
  • Least favorite movie seen in theatres: Borat. Hands down. I actually went and saw it with my mother and aunt, of all people, and to my surprise, all three of us actually sat through the entire thing, but walked out at the end wondering why we sat through the entire show. We still don't know the answer.

Sunday, December 18: Who would you most like to meet and why? (courtesy of Dana).
I'm going to be seriously cheesy here, but it's the honest truth. I'd really like to meet my #sayr1 group-mates, Jeff & Kevin. Now that we're past that initial point of "Tell me about yourself..." we're planning half-marathons and running plans together! They're two really fantastic student affairs professionals that I'm glad to have been able to get connected with over the last few weeks. I hope, one day, our running plans will actually coincide to being able to run together as Team No-Name (or was it Team Run Like the Winded?) and continue cheering each other on. As Magical Mountain Man, Desert Dwelling Dude, and I (Snow Bunny Princess) have gotten to know each other, it's definitely helped fill a slight void in having some deep connections here and I am thankful for my Thursday evenings with them!
Love my Thursday evenings!

I think I'm caught up for the weekend. Monday coming soon!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Training: 6 Weeks to Go!

So following suit from a few blogs I've been checking out, and a friend from college's blog (shout out to Katy Beth!), I've realized I need to be paying better attention to my runs, how I'm doing. And, as I've said lately, I feel so much more accoutanble when I verbalize what I'm up to. And that way, you know, for fun... you get to follow along!

So my blogging here really begins just over halfway through my training. If you didn't know, I'm counting this as my first official half marathon? Why, you ask? You can read here about my first training experience, or lack there of. This time, I'm taking it a little more seriously. Minus the cross-training, but you can read about that more below, and that fact shall be remedied in January I hope.

Sunday: Run
Omega Gamma ladies!
After the 8K I did on Saturday, the Madison Christmas Rush race, that kind of kicked my butt, I used Sunday to rest instead of throwing in a few extra miles. And, in theory, I was supposed to unpack from New York (yes, still) and clean the house. Neither of which happened. I did, however, make my way down to Atlanta for the Omega Gamma (sorority Atlanta-area alumni group) holiday party and ornament exchange! I haven't been to any of the OG events yet because they're usually on Wednesdays, when my students meet. So I was excited this wasn't on a Wednesday and I could actually go! Re-met and met a few wonderful ladies; I know I've gushed about this before, but it's so great knowing that no matter where I go (with few exceptions), I have a connection in someway, somewhere. Warm fuzzies! After the holiday party, I also met up with a friend from high school who recently moved to Atlanta with her husband and went and saw New Year's Eve. Super cute movies - yes, a lot like Love Actually and Valentine's Day, but still a good see! Go see it!

Poor Jane!
 Sunday also happens to be the day my car was the victim of a hit and run, while I was inside at the holiday party - in the middle of a neighborhood, no less! Weird thing is that I didn't even realize it until it was the movie theatre; it was groaning every time I turned right, so once I parked at the theatre I walked around my car to see what was wrong and lo and behold... there she is. All dented. Poor Jane.

Monday: Rest
3.2 miles = 25:30 minutes / 8:09 minute miles - New 5K PR!
Mondays in my plan are supposed to be rest days, but after resting on Sunday, I decided it was time to get moving. After the 8K and the butt-kicking I gave myself that day, I knew that these next six weeks are going to be crucial - either I'm going to make it to this half-marathon or I'm not! So... hit the road Monday morning. I woke up feeling kind of blah, with a lot on my mind, but apparently running under pressure does me some good! New 5K PR achieved; I definitely got home from this run feeling completely amazing and empowered for the next few weeks!

Tuesday: 4 miles
4.05 miles = 34:16 minutes / 8:27 minute miles
Dragged myself out of bed a little, but that whole concept is getting better! Nothing special about this run, other than it was an amazing 41 degrees! The last few weeks it's been under 35 in the mornings, so this 41 felt SO great.

Wednesday: 5 miles
At this point this week, I was feelin' it so took my rest day instead. I regretted it later; Wednesday and Thursday nights, I slept terribly. Funny how you realize that the exercise and endorphins contribute to a better, more high-energy day and better rest at night. Oh, the things you learn!

Thursday: Cross Train
So here lies my challenge. The last few weeks I've been using cross-train days as an extra rest day, which I obviously thorough regret because it makes my legs so much heavier and blah. I don't have a gym membership right now, but hope to start my campus rec membership in January when I get back, so I've been suffering through the heavy legs. Anyone have any suggestions for at-home cardio/XT things to do? I mean, I guess I could do the stairs of my apartment building... not.

Friday: Rest
Yep, again. Told you I was going to regret this. Molly and I had a beautiful 30 minute walk in the morning before work, though, so at least I was up and moving before going to work all day.

Saturday: Long Run Day!
8.07 miles = 1:14:29 hr/mins / 9:13 minute miles
So, naturally, after the 8K last weekend, I was nervous about this long run. I wanted it to be strong, but also a good test of where I really was in this training. The last (truly)  long run I had done (aside from the casual run in Central Park while in New York two weeks prior) was about six weeks back (told you I was/am behind!) - that run was 7.62 miles in 1:17:58. So that was my goal - I verbalized 8 miles to a few folks, just to see if I could push myself a little bit. And push I did.

Actually, no, it wasn't that terrible of a run! I made a loop up and around the huge block to the north of me - it goes up 2 miles to the Walmart, over 2 or so past the dog park and the residential area, back down south by the fire station, and the last 3 miles were snaking down the hill back towards my side of the block. I made an extra jut out to the next stoplight over from where I could have turned right, just to make sure I hit that 8-mile mark. The first two miles, as usual, were all about my finding my pace - I always chug out way too fast and too hard and then lose my stamina for the next few. My first two miles were just about an 8 1/2 minute-mile and mile 4 was at 10 minutes, so you can see my problem! I did maintain a pretty good pace throughout though, which I was pretty proud of for such a long run. I walked, in total, only about 0.80 miles of the whole thing, which was also quite the accomplishment.

Saturday also was a new experience for me - Brunswick stew. Move to Georgia, stew in the backyard! The things I learn! So this is an event, if you will, that the folks I tailgate with do every (?) year... and oh my, so glad I got to go! Six, seven hours of drinkin' and backyard stewin', complete with stirring with a paddle and campfires and most importantly, S'MORES! So basically chuck 30 pounds of chicken and pork, and then add tomatoes and onion and potatoes and ketchup and some other secret concoction, throw it in a vat and stew for like, fours hours. Delicious.
Don't you stir your stew with a canoe paddle?

Megans(cubed) stirring!

S'mores while we wait... yummm....
Final product, Brunswick stew... om nom nom.
Week Total: 15.32 miles
Second longest week yet!

After this weekend, I feel good. Five weeks to go and I feel ready for the next few long runs to see what I'm really capable of now. I know it'll be a challenge, since I leave for California and the holidays on Friday, but now knowing that I can do this... more power to me!

Friday, December 16, 2011

#reverbbroads11: You Annoy Me

I'm participating in #ReverbBroads11, a month of blog prompts promised to be silly and reflective. I seem to be following an every-other-day pattern, so I apologize. I'll try and get better! Today's prompt: What are your biggest pet peeves courtesy of Emily at

I have a few pet peeves, admittedly. I know there's m ore that I'll think of once I see people do/say them, however, for now, this is what I have from thinking about it (all morning). 

Number One: Grammar
I was a journalism major. I had a semester's long class over grammar -- correct spelling, punctuation, usage, tense, commas, contractions, you name it. Being the nerd that I am, it was easy and I loved it. That being said, it's simple, really:

Number Two: People who leave their car blinker on for forever
Yes, I am one of those people who gets thoroughly annoyed and will go around you just to find out what's wrong and why you're not turning your blinker off. I don't care if it doesn't make noise inside your car, turn it off after you turn! And, for that matter, it equally annoys me when drivers don't use their turn signal at all - hello, that's what they're there for. So you don't get rear-ended when stopping all of a sudden.

Number Three: Blacks and browns
I don't care that apparently it's a trend that you can wear a black shirt, jeans, and all brown accessories. I think it looks silly... while I am not always totally mis-match, black and brown will never, ever mix for me. I just don't see it! It bothers me when a necklace has brown AND black beads together, I like the black shirt/brown boots idea... just don't follow. Try convincing me otherwise. 

Number Four: Dog-less Dog Parkers
This has come up a lot lately. Our dog park here in Athens shares a parking lot with a playground, all part of a larger city park. The playground and dog park are on opposite ends of the parking lot. So, on occasion (and as I said, a lot more frequently lately), parents will bring their kids over to see the dogs running around; these folks obviously don't have a dog to bring to the park, or at least not with them at the moment. The smart parents will stand outside the fence with their kids and if a dog comes up to them, will teach their child how to hold up their hand so the dog can sniff them and then say hi. The more aggravating parents, lately, however, march their children straight into the park and let their kids run (yes, run) around the park, squealing anytime a dog comes near them. Yes, I see it as important to teach kids to not be afraid of dogs (see the smart parents statement; that's what a fence is for) but must you let your kids run around, waiting for a dog to chase them? Obviously these dogs are socialized, otherwise they wouldn't be at the park, but you never know what kind of dogs are inside that fence! Maybe a dog is great with other dogs but is terrified of children and may all of a sudden snap on your kid? Yep, then what. (end soap box) (Arlington County even went as far as banning children under 8; I wouldn't go that far, but agree that supervision is necessary and if you don't have a dog... stay outside the fence!)

What are your pet peeves? If you don't have any, here. Borrow some.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

#reverbbroads11: Giving Back

I'm participating in #ReverbBroads11, a month of blog prompts promised to be silly and reflective. Today's prompt: Is volunteering something you do regularly? If yes where do you volunteer? If not, why not?

 I smile very wide at this question. But it also forces me to stop and think about the truth: the truth is, I did regularly volunteer. Do I regularly still? No, but I take the opportunity when I can. Here's my explanation:

My first semester of college I joined a sorority. I had decided, or thought, early on that Panhellenic wasn't for me and that I just wanted something more low-key. At my freshman orientation, wayyyy back in the corner, was the table for Omega Phi Alpha, National Service Sorority. For some reason, they just stood out and I feel like I clicked. So anyway, pledge process, activation in February, and from then on it was history. Our sorority focuses on six areas of service - the community at large, the sisters of the sorority, university community, the nations of the world, President's project (a new topic each year, ranging from education to breast cancer) and mental health. Six projects a semester, which provided me more than a few opportunities to do things around NAU and Flagstaff - sure, it ranged from a campus trash clean-up to holding a Senior Prom at the retirement community in town, to Relay for Life and doing drunk-driving presentations with the local police at area high schools. But there were so many opportunities just to get out there.

Working the 2005 NAU Homecoming parade!
During grad school, all I could talk about was wanting to do more. As is the case with so many, I spent all my time on my assistantship and classwork and didn't give myself the chance to keep doing things. Live, learn.  The same continued into my first professional position though - as a hall director with regular 40+ weeks, it was hard to be able to commit 10 hours a month to the humane society or some other local cause. 

And here I am today, in a position where 95% of my weekends are mine, and I have time to do things I love - like volunteering and serving my community again. In October, I volunteered and worked the Athens Half Marathon, serving as part of the kick-off crew and helped take down the whole starting gates. I signed up to work with the Athens Area Humane Society, and despite that not going as planned, am waiting to hear back from  another local county's humane society to continue work with them. I also regularly look for opportunities through Hands on Northeast Georgia for things to do - it's a great way to meet people, especially since I'm still so new here!

And, true to nature, I still volunteer with my sorority. I participate in projects with my local chapters when I am able, but have spent my almost-6-years since graduation regularly taking up national or regional positions, aiming to still give back to the sorority that gave me so much. As some may know, and as lots don't know, I give full credit to my sorority for keeping me at NAU and helping me graduate from there; that was the connection I had longed for, and though it took awhile to realized I'd found it, my organization is my everything!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

#reverbbroads11: I'm Awesome. The End.

I'm participating in #ReverbBroads11, a month of blog prompts promised to be silly and reflective. Today's prompt: What are three things you are better at than most people? via Catie at

This one had me stumped for the better part of this morning, no lie. I even went as far as consulting a few friends, because while I had some ideas, I wasn't sure I was that good at them. I felt validated when they suggested a few of the things I was thinking! Here we go - I hate bragging. But I do commend myself on a few of my skills. 

Photographic Memory - My parents have always poked at and commented on my ability to remember what I wearing the night we went to dinner on vacation in South Dakota, or other very minute, seemingly small details. I think it goes along so well with my learning style - I'm a visual learner to the corner. I couldn't tell you what the answer was on that history test, but I can tell you it was in the verbiage that made up the caption for the photo in the top right corner in the middle of the chapter. It's worked well to my advantage at times, and sometimes it's just fun to yank out the memories and make people wonder how I remember that I was wearing that purple flowered tank top with black shorts that night in South Dakota.

Empathy - If you know me well at all (and let's be honest, even if you've just met me), you probably know I wear my heart on my sleeve. And, more than that, I wear everyone else's hearts, too. It's in movies, when I connect to the person with a 2-second role who comes back later in the story, or a character in a book. The tiniest, smallest emotional disaster that hits them becomes the biggest, emotional roller-coaster to me. It's imagining that pain, the tears, the agony that someone could go through; I feel that I've been pretty lucky in my life to not deal with some of the worst emotional and personal disasters out there. I think my ability to feel so much for others, at times, contributed to my successful relationships with students and my staff as a hall director; at times, I know it definitely contributed to the stress and emotion I put on myself - especially when it came to letting a staff member go (Could I have done more? What did I do wrong? How is she/he really taking this?) or after a judicial conversation. I think it really is part of what made me a great staff member in working with so many first-year students who were faced with so many more emotions than they often knew what to do with.

Welcoming Others - I credit this to a few sources. While I scoff so often at my grandparents' desire to talk to anyone and everyone, I've realized more and more that I do the same. It's that desire for me as an individual to connect to someone, but also to feel that they're connected as well. Whether I strike up a conversation with a new friend at the dog park, or comment on someone's fun socks at last week's 5K, it really is all about anyone just wanting to belong. I feel that when new co-workers come into the scene, or new people come into collaborate on projects, I just want everyone to feel like they belong and they have a purpose in being here. Deep down, it's a feeling I think we all want, so I do my best to make sure it's passed on to others and maybe in the end it'll be passed on to me, too.

This was harder than I thought it'd be. I'm glad I had to think about this one a bit. Thanks for making me think, #reverbbroads11!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Madison Christmas Rush 8K

On Saturday, I had enough nerve to go run the Madison Rush to Christmas 8K (Madison is supposed to be historically significant; Wiki says kind of otherwise). I say 'nerve' because one, I registered on Wednesday. Two, I hadn't run since my Sunday run in Central Park last week, and before that hadn't run in 4 or 5 days. My training's been waning, to say the least, so I figured I'd use this race as a push to see where I'm really at in my training - what am I actually capable of doing?

I considered it mandatory!
This run is actually a 5K and an 8K. 5Kers go first, they finish, generally clear out the area and then it's the 8Kers turn. I mis-read, or only read, part of the race details, and I saw "9 a.m." written there. So, the morning of, I haul myself out of bed at 6:50, hit the road by 7:45 (after stopping by Kroger to get a Santa hat!), and am in Madison by 8:20 am. Only to find out I have to hang around until 10 am to actually do anything. Bummer. It did give me good time, however, to get my shirt, sit in the car warmth for a little while, and then go back outside during the 5K to get used to the brisk (but beautiful!) morning outside. I think it worked in my favor.

At first, I was the only Christmas-spirited fool who made the effort to dress up -- yes, I say dress up. Half the fun is Christmas spirited running outfits, no? So here I am, the only person walking around in red and white striped socks, red shorts, green shirt, and a Santa hat. Got a few compliments, a lot of "Really?" looks, and was generally feeling pretty self-conscious about it. And then... they showed up! These girls (a few of them), had also been at the Jack 'O Lantern Jog I did on October 30 in Athens, at the Nature Center, and they had run the race as nerds; I had talked with them a little at that race, but didn't really make much of it. Well, they were the only ones dressed up here, so I had to make it a point to go talk to them, and am so glad I did!

Race time: I was a little nervous. I hadn't done a good long run (aside from my casual Central Park 6.5 mile stroll) in awhile, but knew that I wanted to make this count to see how well I could push myself. I was talking to another woman as we watched the 5Kers run in, and verbalized to her that my goal was 50:00 -- that'd give me a good 10' mile, which I could handle, surely. That made it real. Could I really do it in 50 after not running seriously for a few weeks? We could only find out in one way.

I stayed toward the back of the starting pack - the first 100 yards or so is all uphill, and I tend to get carried away the first 500 yards of every race I do, therefore wearing myself out. This time, I needed to test my lungs, not my energy bursts! I made it a good pace, but not even before Mile 2 was hitting that mental block. Problem. I wove in a few dashes of walking inbetween my runs, but was having a heck of time. The course was mostly flat, with a few rolling hills, but took us down some beautiful country roads in Madison. It really was a gorgeous morning (at least by 10 am) and I was at least thankful I was chugging down the road instead of wasting it away at home.
Such a gorgeous day!

At the 3.5 mark or so, I was playing tag with another women, and we took turns taking the lead every 50 yards or so - sometimes I like having a rabbit to chase. Sometimes... it just makes me more tired. We ran together a little while, and then I stopped for a stint of walking. She was about 50 yards ahead when she waved at me to catch up and keep moving! At mile 4, I was at 41'58". I actually had a chance to make the 50-minute goal, or at least be really freaking close! I told her the goal: "Can you make it?" "I'm at 42." "Oh, girl, you can totally do it! GO!" And I chugged on -- so fast, in fact, I lost my Santa hat. She picked it up for me (thank you!). In true Megan fashion, I chugged so hard, I was close to out of breath at 4.5 and stopped for a moment to walk and catch up. And then, realizing I had less than a minute to go, took off.

Mind you, I played soccer for 16 years - I sprint by nature, none of this long-distance business! Every race I've done (save for one), I sprint the last 200 yards or so to the finish. That last burst of energy that gets me there and makes me say "YES! I CAN!" And true to my style, I did! 51:13. So. Close. Normally, I'd say I was unhappy I didn't make my goal, but given that again, I haven't ran seriously in a little while, I'm happy I was able to finish under an hour!

I found my elf friends, talked with them a bit more, and they offered to let me run with them. This year, they did one race a month, everything from Tough Mudder to 5Ks to a tri (long-term goal). We exchanged information, got a few photos, and parted ways. Happy day! Athens running friends, hopefullly!

Lessons learned, because there has to be: I'm 48days away from the half  marathon that I would really like to count as my first half marathon. This run, as intended, served as a reminder and a swift kick in the butt that I've got work to do! I can do it. I know it. Just need to get movin'.

Just got a little work to do, that's all.

For now, that's all friends!