Friday, December 24, 2010

Santa Hat Run

Me post Santa Hat run. Still smiling. Although I'm not sure how. I took off trying to keep up with the group. Unfortunately it's been awhile since I ran a 9 minute mile so it was a tad bit painful. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Gaylord Opryland Experience

When I was in the fourth grade my Grandma and Aunt took me out of school for a week (unheard of!) for a girls' trip to Nashville. I remember that I had a good time but I don't really remember any of the specifics of the trip or our itinerary. Except The Opryland Hotel. I remember every moment of walking through that big, grand hotel. It was so much bigger and more beautiful than the hotel we were actually staying in. Grander than any place I had ever visited. The gardens were breathtaking. Even the restrooms were impressive. I loved everything about it. In the two decades since I fell in love with the hotel, I have remembered it fondly and dreamed of actually staying there someday.

You can see how my big expectations may have set me up for a fall...

In case you're not up on the Opryland, it is extravagantly expensive. It was a big deal for us to splurge on it. And obviously I had built it up pretty high in my mind. And I looked forward to it for WEEKS.  We showed up at Christmas time where they do it up right.  Perfect for me because I love all things Christmas.  Except, as we found out later, the Opryland takes in 10,000 visitors a day during Christmas...which translated to us sitting in traffic for over an hour just waiting to check in.  And sitting in traffic over an hour everytime we returned to the hotel.  If we ever stay again, it will NOT be at Christmas time!

True to my memory, it was still extravagantly beautiful.

The atriums were just as beautiful as I remembered.  They were huge and there were so many!  They had them all done up for Christmas and there were several huge Christmas trees.

 There were over a million Christmas lights outside, and many of them just happened to be right outside the window of our room so I could look at them anytime from the warmth of my hotel room.  They were, of course, gorgeous too.

I wanted to know if there was some trick to getting the entire tree all lit up like that, so I practically climbed inside one to get a picture:

Now I've shared all the things I loved, let's talk things I didn't.  Namely, our hotel room itself.  Everything in the lobbies and atriums and outside the hotel were wonderful.  Our room was like a Motel 6!  The exterior door didn't seal all the way, so it let in cold air and noise all night long.  Because we were by the Christmas lights, there were tour buses dropping people off every 10 minutes until about 4 AM every night and we could hear the engines and the people talking like we were part of the crowd.

It was freezing in that room!  There were other problems that I could have lived with, but certainly didn't expect: the wallpaper peeling in the bathroom, the carpet not quite meeting the wall.  I expected higher quality rooms, but instead the room quality was really shabby.  I think I would have been disappointed, but not angry...if only I wasn't freezing and being woken up every 10 minutes! 

We called down Saturday morning to complain about the temperature and noise level.  I was expecting that they would offer to move us to a floor off ground level, or at the very least apologize for our troubles.  Instead we were told, "Well, complain to someone when you check out tomorrow."  What?!?! 

Summary: the service is less than you would expect, the rooms are way less than you would expect.  The Opryland Hotel is a great place to visit, but you may want to find somewhere else to stay.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

That Garth Brooks is a Class Act

Way back when (aka October) we went to Vegas. Me for a conference, Dave for a life experience. I wanted desperately to check out the new Garth Brooks show. Dave was unwilling to pay the price for the tickets.

Fast forward to November. Apparently Dave was feeling guilty about denying me the chance to see GB. So for my birthday (the big 3-0) he surprised me with GB tickets for the flood relief concerts in Nashville!!

Well that concert was Friday night and it was phenomenal! Seriously the best concert I've ever been to! And best birthday present EVER!!

He sang all of my favorite songs, including my all time favorite The Dance, which was beautiful and moving in person. Not only did he sing all of his hits for us, but he also told us the year they were hits and anecdotes from the time. He was super personable. He sounded just as good live as he does recorded which is kind of rare these days. And he even brought some special guests:

Steve Wariner made an appearance for a rendition of Long Neck Bottle.

What would a special GB show be without his wife, and my close personal friend, Trisha Yearwood?

They were amazing together and it literally gave me chills when they hit hose harmonies. Really, really great. I sang along to every song, screamed and cheered like I was at a high school football game, and came away with no voice at all. It was such a fabulous time!

For a truly country weekend we did it up right and stayed at the Opryland Hotel. More on that tomorrow because believe me, I have A LOT to say about that.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter Weather Strikes With a Vengeance

Friday I set out to do a long run before we left for Nashville (more on that later).  It had snowed and iced and closed down schools 3 out of 5 days.  I set out to run 1 hour and 15 minutes. 

I took off at a slow jog.  The road looked like this:

What the picture doesn't show you is the 1/2 inch of ice on top of all that snow.  It was crazy slick.

I made it 30 minutes.  I figured better to get back in one piece than to fall, break my leg, and end my marathon dreams forever.*

The good news is I needed one more 30 minute run for the week and got it out of the way.  And I came home Sunday and did my long run and my running week was saved!

*No, I do not think I'm being overly dramatic here.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Body Machine

Last night I was running intervals on the treadmill (and made it 2.62 miles-take that treadmill!) and an interesting thing happened.

I was obsessing about my body...but in a good way.  I couldn't help but notice how powerful my legs and arms felt when I was doing a quarter mile sprint.  I felt good.  I felt strong.  I kept thinking what an amazing machine the human body is that it can propel us over miles and miles, on all terrains and in all kinds of weather, if only we let it

My body is not something to be degraded for being lumpy, or saggy (babies you know), or too heavy, too hairy*, too wrinkly, too short...any number of derogatory things I've said to myself over the years.  My body should be loved and cherished for what it can do.  I have run two half marathons and countless 5/10/15Ks.  In a few short months I'm going to run 26.2 miles.  My body is not my body is amazing!!

*Seriously.  I shaved my arms for an entire year, all through 6th grade.  I feel a little bit sad for that girl.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bye Bye Vices

I’ve been in absentia from the blog.  I haven’t had much to say this month I guess.  My life has been work, Christmas shopping, kiddos, and running.  Then I sleep and do it all again.  What’s to say about that??

The training is going well, and even with my Cold From Hades I still feel like I’m on track to begin my half marathon training in January.  Yay!  It’s been really cold and snowy around here (the cold I can live with but snowy = falling = embarrassing) so I’ve been hitting the treadmill more than I’d like.  But I’ve managed to get in all my training runs AND still do all my long runs outside – wee ha!

I’ve hit the point in my training where I’m ready to get rid of some “bad” stuff.  I always give up alcohol when I’m 2-3 months out from a race.  That's not really much of a sacrifice, since I drink about 2 glasses of wine a year, but still I give it up!  I try to limit the soda and sweets too.  I just think my body performs better when I don’t put quite as much junk into it.  That’s not to say that all junk gets the axe.  I still have cookies and ice cream, french fries, and I usually swap out some of the soda for sweet tea.  This year I’ve decided to try nixing the sweet tea too, really it’s just pure sugar, and I actually like unsweetened tea too so why not nix the sweet tea and see how my performance fares?  I’m sure I could be a superstar if I had a really wholesome training diet of lean protein, fruits, and veggies and kissed all the fun (read: sugary) stuff goodbye, but I’m simply not at a point where I want to go that wild and crazy!

Tonight we’re expecting half a foot of snow, so I’m in for 30 minutes on the treadmill.  The TM really hurts my hips and knees so I tend to run slooooooooooow on it.  I’m looking for about 2.6 miles in 30 minutes.  It looks a little sadder in black and white.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Creepy Encounters of the Long Run Kind

Yesterday I went for my weekly long run.  Wait…let me back the train up.  3 weeks ago I went on my weekly long run, came home and promptly caught some kind of Cold From Hades, did lots of sleeping and drinking of fluids and absolutely no running for 3 weeks.  The cold finally leaves my chestal area, I give it a couple more days of rest just to be sure and then Saturday hop on the treadmill for a 30 minute run.  So I decide Sunday that I’m good to go for my long run, I scale it back some but decide I can handle a 50 minute run.  And I did, but that’s not the point of this story.

About 20 minutes in, I’m feeling good, and then I see a guy in a hoodie walking down my side of the street toward me.  Now I have a decision to make.  Do I cross the street and show my judgment (which can also be perceived as fear)?  Do I stand my ground and show my “I’m not afraid of you face”?  Do I take a side street thus avoiding an encounter, but take a chance that he will follow and now I will be in a less populated area?  Do I ponder how a man out running wouldn’t have to think through all of these scenarios?

In the end, I stand my ground and stay on my side of the street so as not to seem intimidated, but I give him a wide berth.  Far enough away that he would have to move faster than me to grab hold, but close enough that I can still see his creepy glass eye and hear him say “You lookin’ good”. 

(An aside here: When I hear people yell/cat call/whistle at me while I'm running I am so flabbergasted.  I want to stop and yell back "Really?  I've been running for an hour, my hair is a giant frizz ball, I'm sweating in places I didn't even know I had, and there's a strong possibility that I sharted during that last mile...but really?  I'm looking good to you?"  But I digress.) 

I pass people on the road all the time.  I’ve had all manner of things yelled at me out car windows.  But this guy here, he Freaked. Me. Out.  I had a bad case of the heebie-jeebies and it stayed with me the rest of the way.  I varied my route back trying to keep the right mix of population with “not likely to run into that guy again”.  In fact, I kind of carried around a violated feeling the rest of the night.  You feel like you live in a safe place, you’re out and about on a populated street during daylight hours, but then you get a little reminder of what kind of place the world can be and might be.