Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Eve

Tonight Adam and I are at a hotel in Lafeyette, Indiana. It is the hotel we always stay at when we road trip to see his family up in Wisconsin. I'm pretty tired tonight after a day of work, hurried packing (that I could not find a minute to do earlier in the week), and 7 hours in the car (not that I drove, I dozed in an out, and I read the Andy Cohen Diaries).

I've thought a lot this week about how this time last year I said goodbye to my beautiful grandma. I feel like I miss her more now, than I did right when she passed away. But I am relieved to have a holiday free of tradegy this year. And I wanted to take a minute to list what I'm grateful for this year.

I have so much gratitude for good heath this year. This is the healthiest I have ever been in my entire life. I am happy that I am reaching my running goals, and that the Disney Princess Half-Marathon gives me a concrete goal and a reason to keep on training. And I'm grateful to be employed, because one bad day at a job is worth five good days unemployed. And I can not even begin to say how thankful I am that we are homeowners now.. For my nieces, planning to drive to Alabama in a few weeks for a pre-Christmas celebration with us. For bubblebaths, hot chocolate in my new Minnie Mouse mug, and all the new clothes I got at the thrift store. 

And of course, I am happy for my husband, my partner, and my road trip sidekick extraordinaire.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

The Sweetest Things Tea Room

Last Friday, I had the day off because Adam and I had appointments at the Dentist. So after we finished with our cleanings, my mother picked me up to have lunch at one of her favorite places (and now one of mine) the Sweetest Things Tea Room

The tea room is in a smallish house, and you would never imagine how beautiful it is inside from the outside. It is all very Victorian. And very nice and cozy. We started our lunch by ordering some tea. We both chose the creme brulee tea, which was seriously the best tea I have ever had. I have given up the fancy starbuck frapichinos I used to love so much. So lately I've been doing more hot teas to mix it up (usually trying to find the caffeine free). I only wished I could get this tea in packets to take home. Or they had a drive-thru window.

After we got our tea, I ordered some quiche and salad for the entree. I figured quiche would be the best option for me (eggs are protein). I had a few bites of both of the salad and the quiche, are they were both amazing. For dessert, my mother order some coconut cake. I had a bite of it, it blew my mind. I love that nowadays one bite is nearly enough to stomp out most cravings I have.

Although everything was sublime, I would go back for the tea alone. 

What I loved about going to the tea room was it was an experience. We were there much longer than we would have been at a regular restaurant, but we got to chat, have a delicious meal, drink our tea, and soak up the "girly" atmosphere. A great mother/daughter date!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Lucky Duck Huntsville Scavenger Hunt Part 2

Now it is time for part two (read part one here) of our Lucky Duck Scavenger Hunt adventure. I will start this installment by sharing with you the top secret location of the hardest duck to find ever! It took us two outings to find this one, and it nearly escaped our grasp. But alas, it could not allude us forever.

This clue seemed simple enough. I am fairly familiar with Big Spring Park after all. It is where my first boyfriend picked me up for our first date (he was dumb in the way first boyfriends typically are).  But we wandered all over this park, each time coming up empty handed (by the way, the picture above is Adam apologizing to the ducks for not having a quarter to buy some duck food, they kept hounding us as we walked around fruitlessly).

When we got home from that first hunt, I did some online sleuthing. The only thing I was able to gleam from the sparse blog posts on the hunt is that there is another side to the park that I had no idea existed (it is across a busy street from the main park).

Even though we now knew where we had to go, it didn't make it much easier to find it. There is indeed a bluff area, but we didn't see a thing. It took climbing to a nearby parking lot that looked down over the bluff area, before I even thought it was possible I might have spotted it! But I did spot it (not Adam, HA). You can't even really see this duck due to the quality of my phone camera, and the distance it was from me. My only advice would be to look for a man-made ledge near the rocks.

If you were wondering, we did stop to feed the ducks on our second outing.

I knew the answer to this clue was the First National Bank in Huntsville, because I remember on the trolley tour, the tour guide told us the whole "Jessie James robbed the bank rumor" was untrue. But his brother Frank James was charged with a robbery in Huntsville, so there is that. When Adam and I read this clue, we headed toward the bank on the square.

At a little pavilion next to the bank,  the duck is hanging upside down. My eagle eye spotted this one way ahead of Adam. Making me super proud of me.

This was probably one of the easier clues to figure out. I love the cute little Historic Huntsville Depot (I posted about it here). Adam and I got a little lazy and drove to the Depot instead of walking to it, in fact, I think we drove to the rest of the clues (ha).

We found this little guy perched on the front side of the main, yellow building. I found it way before Adam did, but then again he was driving and could not look from the car. But I will take a victory in whatever way I can.

One of our next clues ended up being in a location we had never heard of. The lumberyard? I thought that might mean an actual lumberyard, which would be a weird place for a clue. After a google search, I uncovered the A.M.Booth's Lumberyard. This is an event venue in downtown.

We had some difficulty finding this duck (Adam found it, of course). We felt a little silly wandering around the place, as they were setting up for a wedding. So here is a hint, don't go inside the lumberyard! It is outside the building in an nearby fountain. Do you see it peeking through?

This was for sure the easiest of the clues. Not only does it give you the street name, it pretty much flat out tells you it is the Visitor's Center.

I again spotted this one from the car before Adam even had a chance to park. I'm a dirty, dirty cheat, and I don't even care! We are a competitive couple, what can I say?

The last clue led us to Bud Cramer park, where I had never been before.  This was the last clue we needed to check off, so we were hoping it would be easy. But we struggled with this one. We didn't think it would be in the middle of the playground, as it would be a tripping hazard, but the clue seemed to be leading us to the center of the playground.

It ended up being by the little bridge, tucked away almost out of sight. And with this find, we had completed the hunt.

I was so happy that we were able to successfully find all those ducks, even though both of the park clues almost defeated us. I have been wanting to do this simple activity for quite a while, and it wasn't a half bad way to spend two Saturday mornings.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

10 Month Surgiversery

I am about a week and a half late when it comes to posting about my ten month surgiversery. It seems to me after Halloween that time just started flying, and I have so many things I want to blog about, yet it feels like I have no time to sit down and write it all out.

Instead of posting a new picture, I decided to repost my picture from the Viva La Diva 10k. Because after the race, I was looking at this picture, and for the first time I didn't even recognize myself. The girl in this picture looks healthy and dare I say skinny? I can't even believe it.

I wouldn't see this girl on the street and think she looks so unhealthy. I wouldn't look at this girl and think she must sit on the couch all day eating pints of ice cream. I would not see this girl working out/running and think, "I can't believe that fat girl is actually running." I look at this picture, and I see myself as "normal." Which is all I ever wanted to be. I never wanted to stand out in the crowd because of my weight.

To be clear, I'm not at the weight yet I need to be. I am at 203, and I'm hoping in a few weeks I will finally reach Onederland. I have about 45 pounds left to lose before I am in the upper range of what I should weigh for my height. But the truth is I feel so good and content where I am right now. And if I only lost a few more pounds, I would be pleased. My only goal is to be under 200 pounds for the rest of my life.

That feels doable.

So far weight loss surgery has been the best choice I have ever made. For once, I made my health a priority, and I think feeling healthy is the best part of this whole transformation process.

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Viva La Diva 10k & Disney Princess Half-Marathon Training Week 7

Yesterday was the day of the big 10k race, and I had a lot of nerves leading up to it. First, I had never ran more than 5 miles, and now I had to go 6.2. Second, my first and only 10k in Auburn two years ago (when I wasn't training at all) was very difficult for me (although rewarding). Third, I had two semi-mediocre 30 minute training runs this week, where I just felt somewhat sluggish. Fourth, I read on the internet that the course was somewhat hilly,  I hate hills, and I rarely train on them. I didn't even know if I could run a big hill or how much they would slow me down.

My running buddy Jana came into town Friday night to do the race with me. We went to bed at a reasonable time, but I slept fitfully (maybe I had some jitters). So I didn't feel the best when I woke up that morning.  Regardless, Adam, Jana, and I piled into the car and drove the hour up to Franklin, Tennessee, where the Viva La Diva 10k was taking place.

My heart sunk when we got to the course, I saw this big ole hill that the 5k runners were in the process of running up. I did not think I could run up a hill that big and my confidence was shaken by it.  Even the race start line was at the bottom of a hill. I thought I would be drained before we barely even began running. My husband tried to be comforting, but there is not much people can say to me when I get super anxious, I just have to ride it out.

Did I mention it was 33 degrees out? It was so cold! I ended up running in a t-shirt, long sleeved t-shirt, old navy jacket, headband, and gloves! It was that cold. Better cold than hot I guess!

We did our race preparations, snapped some photos, and then it was time to line up for the race. I had set my running app prior the the race so all I would have to do was press a button to start. But of course, it failed me for the first time ever once the race began. So I spent the first little bit of the race fooling with my phone and not paying attention at all to where I was running. I finally got the music/app started, and perhaps the malfunction was a godsend, because by the time I was done fooling with it I was at the top of the first hill, and I had barely noticed the incline!

Soon, I had done my first mile in 13:38, not the optimal pace for me, but I knew the hills were slowing me down some. I tried not to focus on my time, and I just kept truckin' up and down the hills. Yes, I got nervous every time I saw a hill coming, but I was just determined to keep my feet moving. I hit the 3 mile marker, and it was a cruel trick they played on us runners because you actually have to run past the finish line, when you are only half-way through. I briefly wanted to just run through the finish line then and get an awesome finish time. I kid, I kid.

Around mile 4, I started to feel that I would be able to finish with no breaks in running. Although mile 5 was my slowest mile by far (14:28), due to having to run up the biggest hill ever! Plus, by then I was starting to feel somewhat sore and pretty exhausted. But I just thought to myself I will be done so much sooner if I run and not walk, so I kept running and running and running.

I hit mile 6 with the finish line in sight. I saw Adam jumping up and down and cheering me on. He ran with me the last .2 miles. Seeing how happy he was for me made me feel amazing. Once I crossed the finish line, he was actually teary eyed because he said he was so proud of me. Later he told me, " It was pure joy watching you come running down that hill." He is seriously THE BEST. 

I crossed the finish line at 1:26:57, that is an average of 13:43 per mile. That was under my 90 minute goal time! I do think I could have been faster without the hills. But conquering those hills and still finishing at a decent time, gives me a lot of confidence that I can do well at the half-marathon.

After Jana finished a little after me, we headed out to lunch. We had just burned 1,300 calories according to my app, and it was time to refuel. Adam's favorite fast food place in his hometown is Culvers (he lives for their butter burgers). They aren't popular in the South, but they happen to have one in Franklin. So we went there. We just ordered a mixture of burgers, fries, cheese curds, and ice cream concretes. I loosened the reigns a bit, and I had one or two bites of everything. Which still figures into very little calories due to how little I can eat. But it tasted sooo good.  

Once we got back to Athens, we headed over to my mother's to jump into her hot tub. That helped with the soreness so much. I'm super stiff today, but it is the good kind of stiffness. The I kicked serious butt kind of stiffness/soreness.

I submitted my time to the runDisney website, and I'm hoping that will bump me up a corral or two. But we will see! I'm just happy to have my first full running 10k in the books!

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Happy, Little Week

This week was filled with so many happy, little moments that I felt like sharing a little bit. I'm really trying to notice and appreciate the small things in my life lately.  I get so caught up in planning for the next big thing, and I miss out on the present.

It all started Monday when I got a wild hair to go into Old Navy to see if I could get some active wear more appropriate for fall/winter running. It is getting super cold out there (the other night when I did my five miler I lost all feeling in my hands for about a half hour after I came inside.  (Gloves are so needed, and yes, I bought some).

I really didn't know if I would fit into any of their stuff as I haven't been able to wear Old Navy in years and years. I thought it might be possible that I could squeak by in their XXL. So I took a whole bunch of XXL clothes into the dressing room. I was pretty sure they wouldn't fit, as I'm used to not being able to fit into the largest size at most stores.  But when I put them on they were too big!! I had to downsize to an XL. It felt so great.

I bought so many clothes. My two favorite pieces are these super cozy polar bear pj pants and the boots. I have never been able to wear boots, as my calves were too big. I was always jealous of girls in their boots. So to have a pair is the best feeling. I feel so good about myself in them.  Also, I fit into a size 18 now. That is 10 whole sizes down!

I've been dying to go see Big Hero 6. The million and one Disney podcasts I listened to kept talking about how good it is. Adam wasn't really into seeing it, so I took myself on Wednesday night. Wednesday nights are usually spent relaxing at home, so it felt fun to mix it up a bit. I had the theater nearly all to myself. I got to curl up, prop my feet up, and enjoy the movie. The movie was fantastic, I loved every minute of it! And the short before it was so precious! Go see it now. 

Last but not least, I had a few good runs this week on my lunch break. I'm soaking up the vivid, bright, fall colors on the trees right now. They take my breath away daily. I know soon they will all be dead. So I'm just trying to take them in every chance I get.

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Disney Princess Half-Marathon Training Week 6

Week 6, Run 1
Tuesday just was not my day. I couldn't get myself out of bed that morning, and I decided I would just run on my lunch break. And then when I went to change into my workout gear, I realized I had left my running shoes at home. And then when I got home and went to run, I realized I left my work out clothes at work. Like what the heck? I had no choice but to put my run off till Wednesday. I ended up having to do a treadmill run Wednesday night due to the rain. I set it on 4.5, and I ended up doing 2 miles at a 13:03 pace. It felt really hard, but I was able to finish it!

Week 6, Run 2
The challenge of running on Wednesday as opposed to Tuesday was I would have to run on Thursday as well.  I was concerned I would be too sore. But I got up Thursday morning, and I knocked it out. I did feel somewhat sore, but it didn't seem to bother me much. My 2 splits were 12:59 and 13:28. But I was most proud to be able to say I did my two weekday runs in the span of 12 hours!

Week 6, Run 3
I had 3 miles on the schedule for Saturday. It's funny, I don't worry over 3 miles now at all, it feels short and doable. I enjoyed running at night last week, so I went out for my run around the neighborhood about 9 p.m. I was so proud of my times for this run. My splits were 12:39 (a P.R), 12:43, and 13:04. That makes my average pace 12:56.

I am running a 10k next weekend for my 6 mile day. I'm so nervous/excited. I want to be able to run it all and get a good time!  My goal is to just finish it all running. My secret goal is to finish it in an hour and a half. It would be such a big accomplishment for me.

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Lucky Duck Huntsville Scavenger Hunt Part 1

Two weekends ago, I talked Adam into doing the Huntsville Lucky Duck Scavenger Hunt with me. The Lucky Duck Scavenger Hunt gives you clues to Downtown Huntsville locations, and when you follow the clues, you find a little bronze statue of a duck. I thought it would be a fun and free way to spend a Saturday morning. And it was.

So I guess I'm going to have to give a spoiler alert with this one because if you want to do this hunt, I'm totally giving away all the answers. Also, I'm presenting this not necessarily in the chronological order of how we found the ducks. You will see why as we go along, we really struggled to find some of them! So we had to extend our scavenger hunt into two weekends (which was also due to the cold, we were soooooooo cold the first weekend, and we just wanted to head home and get WARM).

When I read this clue, I immediately knew they were talking about Alabama Constitution Village. That is where the papers were signed to make Alabama a state, and now it is a place you can visit and pretend you are living in 1819.

We found this Lucky Duck sitting on top of this brick column. This is the only duck that I knew the location of before starting the hunt, as I had seen it a few weeks back when I did the trolley tour.

I knew this clue was the Howard Weeden house. As Ms Weeden was a famous poet and artist, who had the name of a fellow. Adam spotted this duck so quickly, I couldn't believe it! This also kicked off a competition between us. The winner was the one who found the ducks the fastest. 

The next clue took us up to the  square. Right, in front of the historical Harrison Brothers' Hardware store. We didn't go in to look around, but from the windows it seemed like they carried some really interesting items!

Adam found this duck on the lamppost outside the store so fast, it was sickening, and if you wondering, he  won the find the duck the fastest contest almost every time!

I have never actually been in the Early Works Children's Museum, but I was familiar with the fact that it had a talking tree, which allowed me to figure out to head toward the museum. 

Adam literally took off running to beat me to this duck, I was taken by surprise, so I couldn't catch up (I may be the runner of the household, but he is the faster sprinter). So he found it first, WHAT A CHEAT.

I had never ever heard of bicentennial park, but since the clue said it was behind Earlyworks, the park was pretty easy to find. However, the duck was not. We walked around this park forever and could not find it. We finally figured it was probably covered in leaves, and we could not see it. 

When we got home, I did some online sleuthing. I was able to figure out from a picture where the duck was supposed to be. So when we went back the next weekend, we were able to find it hidden under a pile of leaves.

One of my favorite places in Huntsville is the art museum. I have seen some great art exhibits there over the years. Ansel Adams! Grandma Moses! Tiffany lamps! So this clue was a no brainer for me.

This duck was hard to find though. Adam and I were about to go inside and ask where it was, when Adam glanced down in a planter and randomly saw this little duckie head peaking through!

6 ducks down, 6 to go. In the next post, I will share the hardest and almost impossible clue to solve, which I'm super proud of us for finally figuring out.

P.S.-Find Part Two Here.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Month in Review: October 2014

Books I've Read:

1. The Animated Man: The Life of Walt Disney by Michael Barrier
I really enjoyed this read. I knew next to nothing about Walt Disney before picking up this book, other than the movies and Disneyland. I feel like this book gave a fair overview of Walt's life. It didn't make him seem like some perfect dreamer or just a sexiest/racist man. He really was neither of those things, just a normal person, that started a far reaching business that wasn't always that successful in his life time.

Movies I've Watched:

1. Gone Girl
My mother and I went to see this in theaters, I hadn't read the book, so I was shocked by all the twist and turns. I really enjoyed the movie, but I probably wouldn't see it again, as I know everything that would happen. My mom thought it was too long and too raunchy.

2. Chef
I wanted to see this in theaters so bad, but it never came out locally! I was excited when I saw this film on demand. I didn't really know what to expect from this movie, but I just love foodie movies. And while this movie had a lot to do with food, it was more about the relationship between him and his son. This movie was excellent! Loved every minute.

3. Obvious Child
I rented this from the redbox on a whim. The movie was somewhat entertaining, even though it turned out to be about a sensitive subject (abortion, I had no idea it was about that when I rented it).  The main problem I had with the movie was that the actress played stand-up comedian, but her stand-up routine was so gross. I really hate fart jokes, is that just me?

4. Despicable Me
I can't believe I have never taken the time to see this movie. But Jana and I were thinking about dressing as minions when we go to Universal on our big racecation, so I needed to do some research. Loved this movie so much, so funny and so cute!

Fun Things I did in October:

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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Disney Princess Half-Marathon Training Week 5

Week 5, Run 1
There wasn't anything really special about my Tuesday morning run. I manged to get up early, even though I stayed up fairly late on Monday night (and by late, I'm mean 10:30, I try to get in bed by 9 on the nights before my runs). I ran around my neighborhood and the nearby school, blasting the new Taylor Swift CD just because I COULD. My splits were 12:47 and 13:30.

Week 5, Run 2
I had no excuse to not get up early on Thursday morning. I slept well, and when my alarm went off I felt rested. But my bed was just soo gosh darn warm.  So I slept in that extra hour, and I really have no regrets. I decided to run on my lunch break.

The minute I got to the park where I run, 3-4 school buses dropped off children to have lunch outside. I was like really?!? I did not want to run in front of a whole bunch of teenagers, but I didn't have any other options, so I did.

When I started running it felt really hard, I don't know why, just an off day. But I knew I just had to keep going. I felt a little better after a mile, but not by much. I felt slow and clumsy, I was sure my times would be awful. But they were decent, just not my best (13:05 and 14:10). But any run where I don't give up is a great run!

Week 5, Run 3
Saturday was the day of my big 5 miler.I have never ran further than 4 miles. I had been nervous about it all week, and I was really nervous when I woke up on Saturday morning. So I put it off. I spent the day in town with Adam, and then came home and took a nap, promising myself I would run after my nap. Which is what I did. Since it was late, and it was dark, I decided just to run around my block. I knew it would be a little bit boring with no changes in scenery (I would just be rounding my block 10 times). But it seemed like the best option. 

I loaded up some podcasts, did a short warm-up walk, took a deep breath, said a prayer, and then I took off. I figured I would not have the best times, since I tend to slow down a bit with each mile. But I had a secret goal to finish under 1:20, and I ended up finishing in 1:06! It was a hard work-out, but not unmanageable so, and I could have ran further if I had to. I managed not to lose more than a minute from my first mile time to my last mile time. My splits were 12:53, 13:02, 13:17, 13:36, and 13:47.

I was so proud of myself, the only other time I have ever felt that kind of pride was when I completed my first 5k running.

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