Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 Years

I haven’t posted in a bit. I didn’t post for our anniversary. Or the weddings of good friends we’ve been to in the last few weeks.  But today is a day the country takes a deep breath and comes together, everyone with the same day on their mind.

I posted Never.Forget last year.  Rereading it, every word still rings true.

It’s the 10 year anniversary of 9.11.01, a day that has helped shape the lives of entire generations, for better or worse.  This year, there have been endless documentaries, examining the events from every angle.

For a lot of people, it’s hard to watch and they’ve done their best to avoid it.  I can understand that.  Me, I’ve watched several.  I’ve cried at least once during each of them.  For children that found out that day they would never see a parent again, for the spouses that received goodbye phone calls, for the fire fighters who risked and gave everything.

One show I watched talked about the fire station that is located next to Ground Zero.  For the last ten years, people have stopped by the fire station everyone single day to thank the firefighters for their work.  The narrator went on to explain that the firefighters are too polite to bring it up, but it has forced them to relive that day, everyday, for the last 10 years.

B and I watched the specials on the building of the 9/11 memorial, and new world trade center towers.  We may not enjoy visiting cities, but plan to make a trip to New York City to pay our respects within the next few years.

Never Forgotten. Forever Grateful.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Look Baby, I’m a Rockstar…*

I read something once that someone’s pet peeve wasn’t just people who don’t update their blogs very often, but people who don’t update their blogs very often and then proceed to make a million excuses about it.

So I’m not going to make excuses. But I will say my life has been hectic, nonstop, and wonderful lately.  Roadtrips, concerts, long weekends, family, friends, weddings… everything a summer should be.

And a photo shoot?


No, I didn’t have a career change.  But I did play model for a day with my good friend Kristin.

Kristin is one of those rare friends you find that you immediately click with, and it’s like you’ve known each other your whole lives.  She’s also become quite the magician with her camera.  Check out her website (and post about yours truly!) at Kristin Hardwick Photography.  She’s posted the best pictures from our cornfield photo shoot there (the first one there is the current favorite), but I wanted to share some additional ones I love.


If you haven’t had photographs taken of yourself since the classic high-school-senior-against-a-tree photo (you all had that one too, right?) I *highly* suggest indulging.  Hire a professional, find a friend with a nice camera and good eye, or you could always borrow Kristin.  I would not consider myself vain nor do I tend to care what others think of me. I rarely wear makeup and just had my haircut for the first time in a year and a half… my split ends were as old as my niece. That has to deserve some kind of award.


To see yourself through someone else’s eyes is, well… eye opening.  She made me feel like a gorgeous rockstar, even tolerating my uneducated strumming on my guitar (yes that’s mine. no I don’t really know how to play it. someday I will.)  Anyway… morale of the story, go schedule a photo shoot and give your ego a little boost.  Vanity may be a sin, but self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings** (Samuel Johnson)


All photos are copyrighted to Kristin Hardwick Photography 2011

*Quote from Brantley Gilbert’s song ‘My Kind of Crazy’. If you like country music and don’t know this guy, you have no idea what you’re missing.

**quote from Samuel Johnson, that I found here from random googling.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Don’t Ask Me How I Know: Poor Race Prep

When planning to run a race, do not also plan to donate blood the day before.

The typical donation is about a pint of blood.  We have about 10 pints of blood in our body.  Therefore, in donating blood you are losing 10% of your blood supply.  It takes approximately 24-48 hours to replenish the volume, and four to eight weeks to replace the red blood cells.

If your race is 30 hours after your donation, it’s probably not going to go well.

A pre-race meal, approximately 3 hours before the run, should not consist of fried dough and a root beer float.  The fruit salad will not make up for it.

You may spend the entire race hoping and praying you do not throw up.  Because really, it’s a 5k and that would be embarrassing in itself, but this happen to be the biggest 5k in the state with over 6,000 runners and walkers that the news not only covers, but many of their employees run as well.

And lastly, if you’re planning to run a race, actually training for it, even in a minor way, will help.

I fully support blood donation – its one of the easiest ways anyone can help save lives.  Being uncomfortable for ten minutes to a half hour (yea, sometimes my blood doesn’t flow quite so fast) and maybe enduring a bruise for a week is nothing compared to what someone in need a blood transfusion is likely going through.  But I will never do it within a week of a race again. Ever. Ugh.

I fully support fried dough and root beer floats at appropriate times.  Post race would be a good choice.

Pretty sure fruit salad is okay in almost all situations.

Blood donation facts taken from : the internet, per Google. kthanks.

5k Fail.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sun, Dust, and… Airplanes?

Last Thursday night I braved the heat and set out to run my 3rd 10k.  I headed into the ‘big city’ and over by the airport where the race was being held.

I’m pretty sure parking was like a mile away. And it was an airport parking lot, so there was pavement EVERYwhere.  Meaning it was even hotter. (Ok, that may not be fact, but I theorize it’s true.)

I’m not sure why races think giving you your tshirt before the race is the best idea.  I guess most people have people that come with them, but cut the rest of us some slack. What am I supposed to do with it!?  Even if it was a tech shirt, I can’t wear it during the race… that’s like wearing the band tshirt for the concert you’re doing to see. Totally lame.

So, I got my bib and shirt and had time to kill, so I make the trek back to my truck to drop off the tshirt.  I guess it was a pretty good warm up?

The starting area was small. And they started asking us to line up 10 minutes before the race started. And told the 5K runners to just line up behind the 10K runners, their race would start 5 minutes after the 10k. Oooookay.

I lined up in the middle of the pack.  There were some obviously *confident* people around me, some of which were obnoxiously yelling back and forth.  I kept checking my watch, just hoping it would finally start so I could turn my music up, find someone to pace, and ignore all the hooplah.

The first 2.5 miles where around the airport, which happens to be under construction. And offers no shade.  I was so tempted to turn around at the 5k mark, but I have too much pride and continued on.  Luckily there were plenty of water stops at least.  When I finally reached some shade, it smelled.  No idea. Not pleasant.

The last mile was fairly awful and tried to wish it away as much as I could, which involved some walking.  I guess it happens to everyone right?

Anyway, I didn’t really except anyone to show up.  I walked/ran the last mile and made no attempt to hide my disdain for the fact it wasn’t over yet.

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See told you, disdain.

Needless to say, since there are photos, obviously my wonderful parents came to watch!!

I wanted to break 60 minutes, my previous 10k PR is 1:02:54, and that was last October.  I came so, so close.

Fullscreen capture 832011 93710 PM.bmp

Yes, that’s a measly 38 seconds I missed it by.  Although, you might notice I ‘lapped’ my Garmin at 6.2 (split 7), and THAT was under an hour. So, I’m blaming the race for being more than 6.2 miles. HA.


Well, another race under my belt and I can’t complain.  68th out of 96, and 6th out of 11 in my age group.  I was admittedly ill prepared for this race, having not put in the miles, and certainly not the miles necessary in the heat we’ve been having.  Next up? 5k next week... bring it!


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The best things in life are…

Free. Spontaneous.

Ok, that's probably a lie, since Diane Sawyer informed me last night that most people get more pleasure out of the planning and anticipation of a vacation than they do on the actual vacation.

Go figure.

Despite the Nightly News report, spontaneous nights with a random collection of friends are fantastic.

A few weeks ago I woke up on a Sunday morning and the weather was just right for a BBQ.  But it was a Sunday, and we're still in our mid-twenties and have full time jobs.  BBQs typically include quite a few alcoholic beverages in our circles, so I wasn’t sure a Sunday was going to work out so well.  But I guess we're growing up a little because we got several responses from our mass texts and suddenly we had an event to host!

Spontaneous BBQ/Dinner Party/[Insert Other Event Here] Guidelines:

AKA: How I Totally Fake It And Just Hope People Have A Good Time:

1. Delegate.  Provided you hang around with even a slightly refined group, the questions of "what should we bring?" or "do you need/want us to bring anything?" will come up.  Although you might think you're being nice by saying "We've got it, don't worry about anything", be honest - you don't have a money tree (and if you do, I'm taking applications for BFFs, kthanks) and you probably need to spend some of that would be shopping time cleaning up the designated event area - yard, porch, dining room, kitchen, etc.  Pass things off - salad, chips & dip/salsa or other appetizers, veggies, hot dogs, dessert, etc - and of course "and bring whatever you'd like to drink" can be tagged on the end.

2. Use what you have.  Especially once you’ve lived on your own for a bit, you’ll start have *things*. Like table clothes and vases.  Maybe left over from a holiday you bravely hosted or were given to you as gifts.  I know a lot of blogs are all “OMG I <3 GOODWILL AND I BUY ALL MY COOL HOUSE THINGS FOR $2”, and more power to them, seriously. I wish I had the time and patience, but I don’t. And I was lucky, the previous owners left us some sweet vases, so those cost me $0, relatively speaking.  And, we have an incredible yard that used to be meticulously landscaped before we lived here.  We’ve managed to not kill or weed whack all of the flowers, so those come in handy in a pinch as well.



3. Maintenance.  Not my strong suit.  When motivated, I can get stuff clean and organized (I swear!). But it doesn’t usually stay that way long. I’m not sure why. I think gnomes come in when I’m not looking and mess everything up again. But regardless, I can imagine having spontaneous events would be a lot easier if it didn’t mean a mad dash to clean everything before your friends come over and realize how lazy messy you are on a daily basis.

Obviously I had way too much fun chasing the dogs, playing ladder ball, stuffing my face, and laughing about who knows what with some good people to take any pictures of the actual event.

Anyone else something think the best get togethers are the random spontaneous ones?  Any delicious last minute recipes out there I should know about for next time?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Never Regret

It’s been almost unbearably hot around here – high 90s and into the 100s.  My Grandpa told me he was day dreaming us sledding when I was younger just to try and cool down.  For New England, it’s been unpleasant.  Obviously the last thing I’ve wanted to do was sit around with a hot lap top heating me up further. I’m sure you understand.

Today it’s cooled down. A lot.  And it rained all afternoon.  It was the kind of day you want to come home from work and curl up on the couch and take a nap.  Maybe snack and watch a movie.  Be lazy.

But I had ‘scheduled’ myself to go to Zumba after grocery shopping.  There’s nothing forcing me to go – it’s all a mental scheduling. Sure, I pay good money to be able to go to Zumba.  But I paid for unlimited classes in the month, and as usual, I’m way over the break even point for if I had paid per class – so I already feel like I’m getting a deal.  So, see, nothing making me go.

I skipped last Wednesday because my knee was feel wonky (technical term) and thought it best to lay off for a day.  Plus I had some things I wanted to get down around the house (don’t ask if I got them done…).  It would be easy to again tell myself I’d go tomorrow, or Wednesday, maybe just do a workout video at home – that’s always an option – and be able to relax and get some housework done (but let’s be honest, do I ever actually do that?).

Driving home from the grocery store in the pouring rain, I thought about what I would do if I skipped Zumba.  Take a nap?  Read?  Do some laundry?  All tempting in their own ways, I mean there’s always something else that could be done, that needs to be done.  But something I read in the last few weeks has really resonated with me.


You’ll never regret a workout[run] you did,

but you’ll always regret one you didn’t do.


Something like that.  A play on the “never regret what you did, only what you didn’t” quote.  I can’t recall where I heard this related to workouts or runs, but a quick Google search shows quite a few versions and origins.

This concept got me to Zumba tonight.  And guess what?  I don’t regret it.  It’s gotten me to the gym, races, on the road, and out for walks of the last few weeks.

I won’t sit here and say “Workouts always make me feel amazing and wonderful and life is so good after a run no matter what!”  Because I’d be lying.  Through my teeth.  Sometimes they suck and are no fun at all and I can come up with 1,001 different things I’d rather do at that moment.

But, no matter my mood, I’ve never come out of a run or workout more upset, angry, or sad than I was when I went in.  It doesn’t always fix my mood, funk, or situation, but it’s never made it worse, and the majority of the time I come out at least a little better than I went in.

The last seven months – yes, all of 2011 – I’ve spent time, energy and money on making staying active a priority even when I didn’t want to.  And I’ve been successful, at least in my own eyes.  Exercise and deliberate activity has become a part of my almost daily routine.  And now, I think I’m finally rounding the corner where it no longer has to be viewed as just priority on the list, it’s becoming a necessity to my day.  Just like brushing my teeth, taking vitamins, or eating breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Sure, maybe you miss your vitamins on occasion, or you’re running late and don’t have time for breakfast before work every few weeks.  And, I think we can all admit, there have been times we’ve fallen asleep at night before brushing out teeth.

But one day of missed vitamins, breakfast, or teeth brushing does not undo all the work you’ve done, and the habits you’ve formed.  The same goes for running and working out.

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Never thought I could be one those people.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Trying Something New…

I’m trying out a new way to make posts to the blog – Windows Live Writer.  Amanda over at 5 Miles Past Empty asked what services people use to post to their blog and mentioned that she USED to use Windows Live Writer and *loved* it.  Now, call me blog sheltered… but I never even thought that I could use anything other than what is provided by Blogger.
So yea, this is an experiment.
And those are some flowers that I cut from the garden to decorate for a random cookout. Because apparently I’m domestic like that now. Not sure where that came from.
And there’s a side-by-side before and after of the deck staining (which I plan to post about soon – I swear!)  M in the after is just bonus.
So far I’m liking this Writer – so here we go – hopefully this works out…!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Balloon Festival 5K

I ran another 5K last Friday.

I couldn't help it.  It was small, cheap, and based on last year's results - I had a chance to place in my age group.  So I went for it.

The weather didn't seem like it was going to cooperate, but it mostly just stayed cloudy and the rain held off.  The race was part of a hot air balloon festival a few towns away which included food vendors, crafts, rides, and of course hot air balloons!

Somehow I convinced B to join me.  He's only been to two of my races - my first 10K, and my half marathon - so I was excited, even if he wasn't overly thrilled.  (Don't worry, while I was running he got a sausage and talked to the air national guard people that were there.)

It wasn't a chipped race, which always annoys me because I like accuracy.  But, since it was small, getting over the 'start' line wasn't really an issue.  I lined up with everyone, probably in the front of the middle of the pack.  The race was started with a "ready, set, go" through a bull horn, and the course guided by a guy on the bike.

I knew it was going to be somewhat hilly, and I haven't exactly been *ahem* keeping up with training, so I was nervous.  I felt good for the first mile and finished it with a split of 8:44, which is pretty fast for me.  There were a few woman around my pace so I stayed with them for a while before passing several of them.  Mile 2 was out through farmland (aka manure smell) and was mostly flat, except for the uphill turn around that included a water stop.

At this point, I was just pretty ready for it to be over. I wasn't feeling it and just kept pace with a girl next to me through the up and down hills.  Mile 2 split was 9:01.  There were rolling hills the last mile and I was grateful to see the dirt road that lead to the finish line.  As I ran towards the finish I saw B on the sideline with the camera.

I know, I look so great when I run, huh?  Sidenote: the girl behind me in the green shirt was the one I ran with almost the whole time.  After I got home and went to log my miles onto, I realized she was a girl I had recently friended on the site.  We're also running a few more of the same races this summer. Small world!

Mile 3 split was 9:08.  My official finish time was 27:55.  It wasn't a PR, but I'm still really pleased with it.  There were more hills than the one I PR'd on a few weeks ago, and this one was 3.13 whereas that one was 3.01.  So, yea, I was okay with my time. It was still well under 30, and it was in the 27s, so I can't complain!

Oh, and then there's the minor fact that I got 2nd in my age group again. Woo hoo!!! So, I call that a WIN.  2nd out of 15 in my age group, and 68 out of 154 overall. Not too shabby for a Friday night.  And it didn't even start to sprinkle until the awards.

I felt alot better than I looked here, I swear. So sloppy looking!

Anyway, now I've got myself $15 to spend at RoadID, which is what I chose from the table for my award :)  I'm probably going to get a wrist or ankle sport ID.  For those who aren't familiar, they're similar to the medical ID bracelets people with certain conditions tend to wear - only they have personal and contact information available in case anything where to happen to the wearer while running (or biking, or whatnot).  Gives the wearer and their loved ones some piece of mind.  There is also room on them to include an inspirational quote.... so now I need to decide on a running mantra.  And of course which color I want.

Ugh, decisions!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Stars & Stripes

Hope everyone had a wonderful and safe 4th of July weekend.

I wanted to buy a flag, be patriotic, etc.  B vetoed it when we were at Lowe's.  Not sure why.... we already have the bracket on the house, just need the pole and the flag.  I will probably just go buy one by myself anyway, even though its late.  But hey, its okay to be patriotic year round, isn't it?!

We had a great long weekend - getting things done on the house and spending time with friends and family, setting off fireworks, and eating waaaaaay too much food.  I've got a ton of pictures - maybe I'll post some another night, I'm not in the mood to fight with the photo uploader tonight.

I really wanted to post something, because I don't want to keep neglecting this blog, but I can't really think of much to say.

I ran 28 miles last month.  Pathetic compared to 62 I ran in March and April, even the 47 I ran in May.  But, it's more than none, and that's what matters.  I'm having some trouble motivating myself to get out there as much these days.  I have a 5K this Friday, and a 10K at the end of July... and the last time I ran over 6 miles (a 10K is 6.2) was....oh you know, that time I ran a half marathon... back at the beginning of May.  So yea, I need to pound the pavement the next few weeks to survive the 10K, never mind PR it.

I'm also struggling with the decision to sign up for another half marathon.  I really want to... it's just a matter of squeezing the race itself into my schedule AND the training.  I've got a few picked out that look promising but  I haven't made any decisions yet.

We'll see....

Friday, June 24, 2011

Don't Ask Me How I Know: Soda Cans

Do not leave a soda can (particularly a store brand one) in the center console of your truck for an extended period of time, especially when it's warm out.

Because you might be driving innocently through a new neighborhood to check out a house for a friend and suddenly hear a loud pop. And be covered in warm liquid.  And wonder if you've been shot.

And you probably won't be shot. But the interior of your new vehicle might be splattered with fizzing, warm soda.  You'll pull over and look around, shocked, dripping fizz, and be completely unsure of what the eff to do next.  Eventually you'll drive home.  And it'll probably be about 90 degrees out and of course you're wearing a long sleeve shirt from work, so you'll have to try and clean the mess up before you even bother changing, because OMG can't let the stains set in! So obviously you'll be sweating profusely.  And miserable and cranky.  Other people will probably find it hilarious - including the person who left the soda in your vehicle in the first place (who was probably your husband *ahem*).
Don't ask me how I know

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Race That Almost Wasn't

But I'm SO glad it was.

This was the Rush Hour 5K Road Race at my work.  Around 11am this morning, people started noticing that the toilets weren't flushing and the faucets had almost no water pressure. A friend and I walked over to the other building on our company's campus and found the same situation.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I drink a lot of liquid throughout the day - water, coffee, tea - pretty much constantly.  So, without working toilets there was a bit of panic that sent in with many of us.  Shortly after, a company email went out that there was a water main break and by noon our management team decided to let us head home for the day.

I sent an email to the organizer to confirm if they would still be holding the race.  Part of me really didn't want to drive back to work once I got home, and a few people in my department echoed similar sentiments and said they might not bother coming back.  A little after two, an email went out confirming the race was still on. I had spent the afternoon walking the dog, mowing the lawn, and finishing up some projects around the house, and headed back to work in time for the race.

Couple of things... it was pretty hot today.  And admittedly, I haven't run that much lately, at all.  Most shockingly, I showed up to this race by myself.  There was no guarantee anyone else I knew would be running, and I hadn't signed up with any one to run with.

There were some familiar faces since it was held at work, but no one I knew enough to talk to.  I was there about a half hour early, so I jogged a little, and walked around, stretching and listening to my ipod.  I started getting nervous, realizing I was really about to do this by myself.  Each race I've run has included at least one friend running with me - and many times had people I knew would be cheering at the end.  But not this time.

I put myself in the middle of the pack.  I know all the advice - don't go out too fast, find someone to pace with, save some for the end, etc etc etc.  And I told myself the only goal was to break 30 minutes.  So imagine my surprise when I look down after a quarter of a mile and I've got an 8:06ish pace going.  I knew I had to back off or I wasn't going to make it.  I tried to keep pace with a few women around me so I wouldn't keep speeding up.

Mile 1: 8:52

Crap. I'm not known for sub-9 minute miles. Ever. I suddenly became very worried I was going to bonk.  I tried to pull back, just stick with the group I was with and not worry about passing anyone in mile 2.

Mile 2: 9:19

I felt good. I had a good cushion left in order to get under 30, and that was the only goal.  It all went by so fast.  I kept checking my Garmin for my mileage and around 2.75 was headed down a windy sidewalk and couldn't believe it was almost over.

Mile 3: 8:52

A woman passed me that I had noticed before the race.  She looked like a runner.  In the half hour before the race, you can bet I was scouting everyone out and making assumptions about people - because what else are you supposed to do?!!?  I wasn't sure if she was in my age group (20-29) but felt like she might be.  But it didn't matter.  I just wanted under 30.

I could see the finish line and timer and was shocked and excited to see a time starting with 27.  I gave what I had left and came flying down the hill.  My Garmin read 27:06.

Total shock. I had thought maaaaybe I could get in under 29, maybe.  Seeing that 27 put a massive grin on my face.  I wandered around a little after, drinking some water and grabbed a clementine.  I tried to decide if I should just go or hang out for a bit watching the rest of the finishers.  I took a seat on the basketball court and ate my clementine, and just kept looking at my Garmin and smiling at the time.  I looked at my splits in awe.

I got up to throw out the rind from my clementine, and noticed they had started printing the results.  I looked at them upside and saw a 2 next to my name.  And then I saw the pile of medals.

Wait a minute... did I just get an age group award?

Yes, not only did I PR my 5K, by 3 minutes and 16 seconds, I received 2nd place for the 20-29 female age group.  And yes, there was more than 2 people in my age group - 7 of them in fact.  Last year,  in this same race, I was 7/9 in my age group.  This year...  I got a freakin' medal you guys!! I love medals.

Embarrassing picture with my medal.  
Yes, I'm in my truck - but don't worry mom, I swear I was at a red light!

I'm so happy and feel very rejuvenated with running.  Like all these miles I've run over the last year have actually helped me accomplish something I wasn't sure was possible.  And now I'm off to find myself another race to run...

Monday, June 20, 2011

No Really, I Still Run...

Approximately a year ago tomorrow (okay, it was actually June 29th, so a little less than a year), I strapped on my first timing chip and stepped up to the start line of my first ever road race.

I ran a 5K in 30:37, without stopping once.  I haven't looked back since.

Tomorrow I'll be running the same 5K at my work, and have high hopes to finally break 30 minutes.  I've run hundreds of miles (wow, that's kind of crazy to say) since that last race, and I know I can run a lot farther than I did then, let's just hope I can run faster!

I've done a few 3.1 mile training races and come in under 30 minutes, so I've got my fingers crossed.  Most of the people that run it are pretty quick (i.e. 102 out of 116 that ran it last year came in under 30 minutes), so hopefully I can find someone to use as a pacer and between them and my Garmin, I can achieve one of my big goals for the year.  I plan to do at least a few more to better my time this summer, and then hopefully I can go off and do a 10k under an hour... we'll see about that.

I haven't been running as much as I probably should be, or want to be.  But I've been doing a somewhat crazy amount of zumba, so I think I'm pretty strong cardio wise.  My plan is to run the first two miles around the same pace... aiming for somewhere between 9:15 and 9:30, kick it up in the third mile, and for the last quarter mile go pretty much all out.  I know the course much better this year, since I've walked and run it several times over the last few months, so I'll know where the ups and downs are and how much I have left.

Regardless of what happens, its crazy to think I've actually stuck with this for over a year.  Granted I took some time off in the late fall/early winter, but I've stayed with it for the most part - more than anything I have before.  Even though I played sports in high school, I don't think I've stayed this consistent with exercise before, ever.  For someone who has claimed many times in her life that she just wasn't cut out to run, I'd say that's a pretty big accomplishment.  I might not be fast, but at least I'm out there.

No matter what my time tomorrow, I'll still be proud of myself.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Well Hello There

I'm sure you all thought I was gone for good this time huh?


Yes, that's right, I am D.O.N.E. done done done done done.

I now have my Master's in Operations and Project Management and my M.B.A. So... who wants to pay me exorbitant amounts of money? No? No takers? Damn.

Life has been a wee crazy the last few... well months.  Frankly, this year is out of control and I'm not sure how we got to June 15th.  But alas, here we are.

I'm banking on the rest of 2011 to make up for the... slightly difficult first half.

And hopefully, this better half of the year will be better documented as well.  But not tonight... I did a Heart Walk for the American Heart Association after work, and haven't really eaten dinner yet... and its oooooo almost 10pm? Yea, I need to eat something.

Oh yea, and GO BRUINS!!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Big Lake Half Marathon Race Recap

*I realize I didn't post anything for Mother's Day. It has nothing to do with my mother - who is my #1 hero - but we have had some other things going on as well, that I will post about later.  Right now, this is what I want to write about, so this is what you get.*

A year ago, I was contemplating starting the Couch to 5k running program.  I had run during soccer practices growing up, and on occasion thought I could hit the pavement and knock out a few miles, but I always ended up out of breath, miserable, and feeling like I never, ever wanted to do that again.  I've been known to make the comment "my body isn't made for running".

Last Saturday, I ran a half marathon.

Friday night I organized everything I'd need to for the next day, and set my alarm for 5:00am, with hopes to be at the race site by 6:30/6:45am - it was a little over an hour away.  I checked the weather, which showed 50s and partly cloudy. Perfect.  Sunrise? 5:30am.

I woke up panicked and looked at my phone/clock/alarm.  4:47am.  I should probably just get up since I'm awake.  But I'll just wait for my alarm to go off.  A bit later, I could feel light coming through my eyelids.  That's strange... sunrise is 5:30, it shouldn't be light yet.  My eyes popped open and I grabbed my phone. 5:40.  You've got to be effing kidding me.  I jumped out of bed, tried not to panic, and started getting ready as quickly as I could.  I was out the door by 5:50.

I promptly swore at every car that got in front of me for the entire drive.  Registration closed at 7:30.  I arrived about 7:10, and panicked again when I couldn't find parking.  Eventually I found my way into the gymnasium, and was glad I had checked the registration the night before, since bib pick up was by number, not name.  198.  I hurried back to the truck and got my ipod, garmin, and clothes ready, trying to text my friend I was meeting up with.

We finally found each other.  I was on edge, nervous.  Anxious to get to the starting area, to get moving.  The group of us (myself, my friend, her friend, her cousin, and her cousins fiancee) made our way down to the start.  I stopped by the Make-A-Wish table to check in there, and received my - extremely tight - jersey.  When I told the organizer my name and she saw I had raised $991 dollars, she was excited.  When I told her it was actually $1,091, and that I also had a matching form they could fill out for another $100, she jumped up and down, shouted "thank you so much!" and gave me a hug.  Incredible feeling.

 Me, in all my tight jersey glory.  This picture was really just to make sure I didn't look too tubby, not so much to share with the world. Ah well.

I thought I should probably use the port-a-potty.  Afterall, I was a 'Wish Racer', and there were some sectioned off specifically for us, ideally to reduce the lines.  I walked over, but the lines were still long.  Do I reallly have to go?  I decided no, knowing I may regret it later.  I anxiously kept checking my watch, suggesting to my group that maybe we should move towards the starting area.  Finally getting them to agree, we made our way over to the starting area.

My goals were simple.... 1) Finish and 2) Don't finish last.  But, I'm too competitive for my own good, and had to put a few other stipulations on myself.  Like, finishing under two and a half hours would be great.  And under 2:20 would be fantastic.  But all in all, if I made it, and didn't have to walk much, I'd be happy.

The first mile was heading into town and towards the lake.  We talked a lot and laughed at ourselves.  The first few miles felt really easy.  Around mile five I ate my package of dried cranberries, since that was what I had used during my training runs.  The first seven-ish miles were made up of rolling hills on a main road, overlooking the lake.  Not a cloud in the sky and mid-fifties, everything felt great.  The course had a total of nine water stops, which was perfect, never feeling like we had to go too long between.

Somewhere around mile four or five, I had it with my race jersey.  I took it off and tucked it into the back of my capris.  The compression wasn't something I was used to and I couldn't deal with anymore.  It stayed tucked well, and after a few minutes I didn't even notice the flapping against the back of my legs anymore.  After mile seven, we headed down back roads, that consisted of much steeper hills, and I made the mistake of letting myself use gravity to get down them - which wrecked havoc on my knees.  But, we kept chugging along at a pace I didn't think possible for myself.

The farthest I had run during training (and ever) was 10.25 miles.  I would say at right about that point, I was ready to be done.  I had my fun, and I would have been totally fine with rounding a corner and seeing the finish line.  No dice.

There were some serious elevation changes up and down during those last few miles, and they really zapped my energy.  My friend was carrying a camelpak and had some energy chews which I yelled ahead for at one point - going up a hill I had dropped back a ways.  It didn't seem to do much to help.

The last two miles were totally a mental game, and 20 (or so) very long minutes.  I told my friend J to go ahead without me, to stay with her friend who was running with us, but she dropped back with me anyway.  I mumbled alot of things those last two miles, including "I don't think I can make it" and "Why isn't the finish line here yet".  I had one older lady ask if I knew my pace, I glanced down at my garmin and told her.  She complained about going downhill, and I agreed, telling her I thought my kneecaps were going to fall off.

Even looking down at my garmin, knowing I had under a mile left, I didn't think I had any push left in me.  We finally started seeing the crowds and rounded into the finishers chute.  I knew my parents and B were there somewhere, but all I could focus on was getting to the point where I could finally stop.  I ducked my head down trying to make those last few seconds go by faster, and about 25 yards from the finish I looked up to see my parents smiling and waving, my mom and B snapping pictures.  I kicked it into gear with the last bit of energy I had left, and crossed that finish line, completing my first half marathon.

I grabbed my medal and had to keep walking around or I think I would have fallen down.  My legs were spent and tight, and even though I'm not sure I managed a smile for a while, I was ecstatic.  I didn't know my official time yet, but I knew it was under 2:20 according to my garmin.  I hit every goal I set out with, even the ones I didn't think were possible.

Splits, according to my garmin:

Official (chip) time: 2:11:25

FYI: Chip time is the actual time from when I crossed the start line, until I crossed the finish line.  There is a timing chip on the back of the numbers we wear.  Gun time is the time from the official start to when I crossed the finish line.

During training, I had a hard time hitting more than 1 sub-10 minute mile in a row.  I hit two in a row, 3 times during my half marathon.  And not a single mile was over 10:24.  I had been sure a majority of the miles would be closer to 11 minutes.  Incredible, once again.

A year ago, I couldn't have run a mile without feeling like I wanted to pass out.  Saturday, May 7th, I ran over 13 miles in a row, without stopping (only to finish a sip of water before throwing the cup away), in a time I honestly thought I couldn't achieve.

I had awesome support throughout my training as well as during the race.  I honestly don't know if I could have done it - at least not as well - without the people supporting me.  But in the end, I did it.  No one else.  Nobody did the training for me, suffering through miles on the treadmill, pouring ran, and the stench of cow manure (a training route I have to seriously rethink!).  Nobody made my legs keep moving during that race, only I kept them going forward, even when I felt like I was moving backward up that hill going into mile 12.  Nobody made me do it.  Nobody ever made me feel like I had to do it.  I didn't have to prove to anyone that I could.

Except for myself.

A year ago, I scoffed at the idea, thinking it was impossible.  But it wasn't, and it isn't.  And I kind of can't wait to do it again.

Now, I think I can finally admit to being a runner.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Almost Race Day!

Saturday is the half marathon.

The one I've been training for, thinking about, obsessing over, since January.

Something like 1 day 9 hours and 42 minutes left.

I got in as much training as I could. Life got in the way sometimes, but I didn't lose focus.  How could I? I was racing to benefit kids like this:

I set out with a goal to raise $500.  Generous friends and family helped me hit that goal in almost no time once I started asking.  B told me if I was going to keep asking for donations, I had to raise my goal.

I moved it to $1,000, with hopes of being able to hit it, but if not, I still did my part.

As of tonight, I've raised $1,041 with another $25 check waiting for me at work.  Plus, I have a form so that B's mom's employer will match her $100 donation.  Friends, family, and co-workers have all donated.

I'm so beside myself with all the support I've gotten.  Thus far, it has been a pretty difficult year emotionally, but I can't help but smile when I think of the joy these donations will help bring to a child whose life has been difficult emotionally and physically.

I can't wait for Saturday.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Oh, life is busy.

I've got 12 days until the half marathon.  I ran 10 miles on Friday, my first double digit run.  It went better than I thought, and was encouraging for the race coming up.  My knees were incredibly sore for the rest of the day, and I'm not sure my legs have ever felt the way they did when I was finished... I had to have B come pick me up after I hit the 10 mile mark.  My muscles are still sore today, but much better.

M has had a rough week.  Been to the vet twice, and on 4 different pills right now.  Long story short, we're treating her as if she has Lyme disease (she tested positive for Lyme exposure a few weeks ago and 90% of dogs that test positive for exposure never show any symptoms) since there is no way to confirm if her symptoms are from Lyme, and she seems to be getting better - which would make us, and the vet, conclude that's the issue.  Fingers crossed, she'll continue to get better and be back 100% to her normal self.

Work is crazy.  School is ramping up, with only about 7 weeks until I'm D-O-N-E.

Lately it's felt like my brain and body haven't been connected.

Like when I faxed myself 54 blank pages (aka upside-down in the fax machine)
Or when I thought something was wrong with the truck because it was hot on my feet.  It's okay - it was just the heat.

Playing catch up on life is exhausting.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

T minus 1 month

1 month from today I will be able to say I finished my first half marathon. (um, I better be able to say it!)

I'm in surprisingly good shape - as in no real injuries *knocks on wood*.  I have some sore legs, my knees act up, and I get shoulder pains. But its nothing I haven't been able to fight through.

My longest single run so far has been 7.3 miles.  I have an 8, 9, 11, and 10 left before the race.  My highest weekly mileage has been 20, which included two long runs.  Provided I complete my 5 miles tomorrow and 8 on Sunday, this week will be 23.  And the remaining weeks will increase from there.  Hopefully my body can handle it.

I've been using the Garmin B got me for my birthday for all of my runs and its amazing.... I just haven't been able to fully utilize all the features yet (the heart rate monitor, pace alarms, etc.).  Hopefully I'll find myself from free time to figure that out soon, but I'm not holding my breath.

My sneakers have about 240 miles on them.  I got them last July, but haven't been running consistently.  The rule of thumb is 300-500 miles.  Having worked in a sports shoe store (no literally, it was called Sportshoe Center) and knowing how important the right shoe, and replacing that shoe at the appropriate time is, I'm starting to panic a little.  Because I'll be over 300 miles by the race.  But you shouldn't wear brand news shoes (or anything) at a race.  So, I think I have to cough up the dough so I can run in them for a few weeks prior.  And then I can just switch back and forth for a while until my current shoes turn into my dog walking, mud, gardening, everyday sneakers.

Since I'm cheap, and picky, I have to try and find my current shoes in my size, on sale somewhere.  They came out with new ones, and the color choices are all ugly.  Which stinks, because looking good is clearly the most important part of running.

My fundraising is going awesome.  I have some very generous people in my life, that I am very grateful too! (Oh, and if you'd like to be one of them, go for it!) (Is it tacky that I just linked that twice? Yes? Oh well.)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Old Dog, New Tricks

To quote a friend from the other day "I love my dogs more than I love most people."

It's true. M isn't like a part of our family, she IS a part of our family.  She's adorable and fantastic and wonderful.

90% of the time.

The other 10% of the time... she's possessed by some doggie devil.  Like on walks when she slows down, and then runs as fast as she can to the end of her (8ft) leash, flying in the air and yelping.  Or when we have people over for dinner and she's trying to crawl in their laps or barking until someone pays attention to her.  Or, the worst is the mailman.  She has destroyed the trim around our bay window from her daily freakouts when he arrives.

She's been to basic obedience, clicker off lead training, and achieved her canine good citizen certificate.  She took over a years worth of agility classes, and probably could have competed and done well if we had the time, desire, and money.

Yet, she can't walk on a leash. She begs. And she hates anyone that delivers things (this is not limited to the mailman, she hates UPS and Fedex men as well, even if she just sees that brown truck drive by.... and one day she flipped out when the neighbors got a delivery from Lowe's.)

I can't tackle it all in a day, these are learned behaviors we have let go on far too long.  And its time to get this dog in line.  And trust me, it's not her fault - it is entirely ours for letting it happen.  Because you guys, she is SO smart.  Incredibly smart.  As I said, she could have competed in agility.  She knows her different toys by name.  We taught her "paw" in 5 minutes - using peanuts.  Teaching this "old dog" (she's 4... she's not really that old anyway) new tricks is totally possible on her part, we just need to be consistent and make it happen.

My first mission...I hate the thought that the people we walk by in the neighborhood probably think she's some vicious beast, foaming at the mouth with red eyes.  I long to take her for a walk without my arm being pulled out of its socket because a leaf blew across the road.

Today was day one of Mission: Please Walk Normal.  I broke out the 'clicker' we used to use in training.  (There's a whole bunch out there on the internet on clicker training for dogs, and I believe it is also used in horse training.)  And I threw a stick of string cheese in my pocket.

It started out okay.  But the loop we do gets progressively worse - with other dogs, people, and memories of bad experiences.  The first test came when a woman, her daughter, and their dog were walking towards us, but taking a side street.  I made her sit.  It took about 10 tries, and me shoving the cheese in her face to show her she'd actually get something if she listened. (At home, she'll sit on command 98% of the time.)  I used the "with me" command we learned in obedience classes.  I don't know if she remembered or not, but I tried to reward her each time she walked with some slack on the leash.

There's a house with two dogs that always, whether they're inside or out, always bark at her.  And she always flips out.  Armed with my string cheese, we were able to get by - them barking away AND a cable guy in the driveway - with minimal incident.  She was very alert and pulled some, but she didn't bark back.  I'll take it as a victory.

The worst is a house about 5 down from ours.  They have these obnoxious little dogs that have chased us down the street more than once, and there were kids out in the driveway today too.  I spent a good five minutes getting her to sit and stay, to try and calm her as we approached.

She gets this crazy look in her eyes, like she's looking right past me, even with cheese in her face.  We struggled on the side of the road for a while, me likely looking like an idiot, her whining trying to see around me and not keeping her butt on the ground like I asked her to.

Eventually she got the sit, and she got the stay.  There was a lot of pulling as we walked by, but no barking, and no crazy weird jumping straight up in the air at the end of her leash like she's famous for around these parts.

We played the sit and stay game while I opened the garage and the house door.  She did great then.

I'm sure to onlookers she still looked crazy.  But trust me, it was a huge improvement for one day of effort.  She's still pulling, and I have to distract her from other dogs/people/squirrels/objects.  But its better, and I'll take it.

One day at a time.  She's lucky she's so darn cute.
(Yes, that's from last summer. It is no where near warm enough for that yet. 
 Yes, her and I are both anxious for it to be that warm again soon.)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

March 2011: Rewind

I'm glad for March to be over.  And for the reason, I'm going to make this a quick post.

B's Gram passed away on the 22nd, after several weeks of being in the hospital.  It's been a very difficult time for the family, a lot of reminiscing, which is painful, but there was laughter as well as stories were exchanged and pictures sorted through.  It's been draining, and exhausting, etc.  She is already greatly missed.


My training is still going well for running.  Have really upped the mileage over the last two months and my legs are feeling it, but I've been able to stay away from any injuries, just the typical aches and pains.  In March I ran 44 miles and did 17 miles on the elliptical for a total of 61 miles (February was 52 miles).  I did miss a few runs last week due to circumstances, but luckily I don't think I lost much, if any, of my endurance from the training I've done so far.  Only 33 days left!!  I've had a few tough runs lately, so just trying to push through the next few runs and hopefully be back on track.

Also, I've started my last term of grad school!  As of today, only 10 weeks until I am DONE with school!

Getting back to routine, which will hopefully include more frequent posts, especially since we're going to be working on some little project around the house that I hope to share soon.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

February 2011: Rewind

Yes, I realize its now halfway through March.  Oh well.

February was kind of a blur to be honest.  There was good, there was bad, there was a lot of work, and more snow.

B and I went skiing with my mom.  The Packers won the Superbowl.  We watched my parents dog for a few days while they went on vacation (which is good, they needed one! but... so do I...)  Taught my sister-in-law to drive stick and sold her my car.

Because... I got my dream car. Kinda.  Meet my new ride.

A 2011 Chevy Silverado Extended Cab 4-wheel-drive pick up.
I say kinda, only because I wanted the blue one.  And I need to have steps and bed rails put on.  Otherwise, perfection :)

I've wanted a truck for a long, long time.  Specifically a Silverado.  It's massive.  And awesome.  And I can run over curbs and even the trash at the end of our driveway without even knowing it! (Ok, that's not so good, but I swear I've gotten better in the last month!)  It was a little spur of the moment, although we had been discussing the fact we were going to need a biggest truck eventually anyway.  And B can't (won't) drive stick, so only having one car we could both drive was getting old.  Plus, B's sister needed a more reliable vehicle ASAP.  And we got an amazing deal.  Everything sort of just made sense.  So now, we're a redneck two truck family for the time being.  We'll see B's (little) truck eventually and get a car or small SUV.  But for now, our driveway looks redneck.

At least mine is the big one.
Also, I turned 26 last month. I feel old.  But, B got a whole bunch of our friends together at a local restaurant a few days before, which was awesome.  I hadn't gotten a chance to see a lot of them in a while, so it was really great.  My actual birthday... I went to the gym before work which was satisfying, but ended up working late, being cranky, and wasn't overly impressed with the day.  Oh well.  Presents?  Yup, I got a few.  I'll post about those someday, I'm all kinds of decked out in electronics and awesomeness these days.

Unfortunately, on Valentine's Day B's gram had an accident and has been in the hospital since.  Prayers and positive thoughts are appreciated.


On a different note, I've been successful in keeping up with my workouts.  I won't post the calendar now, but I assume you I've been doing well!  For instance, in the month of February I ran 52 miles.  52!!  My previous highest mileage months were 37 miles in October and November.  My half marathon training is going better than I thought it would.  (And if you feel like donating go for it!)

I don't think I have too much else to say about February.  Maybe because it ended 15 days ago and can barely remember what I had for breakfast today, so it's all pretty much all fallen out of my head at this point.

I still owe a bathroom renovation summary.  But mostly I feel like talking about running lately, so stay tuned for some a lot of running babbling in the coming weeks.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Lacking Motivation

Sometimes in life, its a struggle to do any more than what's necessary.  And sometimes its a struggle *just* to do what's necessary.

Just to be clear, the current necessities include, but are not limited to:

  • a full time job regularly including 50+ hour weeks
  • two graduate classes
  • 2-4 days a week of zumba
  • half marathon training
  • keeping the house from falling apart
Nevermind the many roles I have with my family and friends... wife, doggie-mom, daughter, granddaughter, daughter-in-law, sister, sister-in-law, aunt, confidant, support system, bridesmaid... etc.

I owe updates.  I have one more post I wanted to do for the house celebration.  I need to update you on my half marathon training (which is going well!).  And I need to recap February.

Now that I have a list... hopefully I can get to it :)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Master Bedroom Improvements

The master bedroom was one of the big selling points for me.  Sure, we don't spend that much time there, but the cathedral ceilings, large amount of space, and windows on three sides make it feel like a little escape.

When we moved in the walls were white with flower stencils around the windows, and an ugly, ugly green carpet. (Can you spot M?)

The flower stencils had to go.  And the white was overwhelming.

Aww, aren't I cute?

We attempted to paint the ceiling. It didn't come out awesome, but better than it was.

The first time we painted.  The walls looked awful with the carpet but decided we didn't care because knew we would eventually get rid of that nasty carpet.

The first time we painted we didn't paint the hall area.  Mostly because by the time we got to the bedroom I was completely painted out, and justified it by saying it provided more of a separation.

This was all done pretty much the first month we lived here (March 2008).  Last March, in 2010, our friend who does flooring let us know about a really good deal on bamboo flooring.  In order to do the bedroom, we needed a deal, because 400 square feet of flooring adds up pretty fast!  So we went for it, the bamboo is still wood flooring like the rest of the house, which is what we wanted, but provides a slightly different look.

In preparation for the flooring we planned to repaint the bedroom a slightly darker shade of green, and removed the carpet and baseboards the night before.  In removing the baseboards, we found what we seem to *always* find in our renovations, MOLD.  (There's a long story about some flooding that happen with the master bathroom that the previous owners never told us about...)

So B ended up having to take a good chunk out of the wall.  These projects are never as easy as you think they'll be...

M loves carpet padding. So gross.

It was a late night of re-drywalling before the flooring was supposed to go in.

It was the first really beautiful spring day, so luckily we could open up all the windows and let the fresh air in for our friends working on the floor.

Welcome to the improved B&S master bedroom.  This is the entry off the hall into the master 'suite'. The bathroom is on the left, and our closets are on the right. Feels cleaner, fresher, younger.

Now if I can just get around to replacing those shades...

Before and after of the closet

And that big hole in the wall?

Would hardly even know it was there.  Also, we replaced the baseboards with thicker ones, and I love them. So much so, we're in the slow process of putting them throughout the house.

And then of course there's the addition of the flat screen TV that B got me for our anniversary, and the electric fireplace we purchased.  It not only looks nice, but also the fireplace helps to take the chill off in the bedroom during these cold, seemingly never-ending, winter months.

Future changes in here definitely include changing the shades.  As soon as I can figure out what exactly I want, and then find it on sale somewhere :)  I've also considered a rug in there... not sure.  And of course, grown up bedroom furniture someday would be nice...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Guest Bedroom "Renovation"

We moved in on a Friday.  And that night, my parents were still at the house helping us get organized.  My mom had brought her steam vacuum and had been cleaning up the carpets in the master bedroom, and the second bedroom.  While, shortly after starting, she realized there was really no hope for the second bedroom carpet.

I don't think we had ever asked the previous owners, but my mom had a hunch there was hardwood under the hopeless carpet.  We started in the closet and pried up a corner - success! Hardwood - in incredible shape, for having been hidden under a carpet for who knows how long - I'm guessing somewhere around 40 years.  So, mom and I decided then was as good a time as any to rip it all up.

It was one of the most disgusting things I've ever done.  Dust, cat hair (which I'm allergic too), and there was at least one instance of a finger and/or toenail. Gag.

Once mom and I had taken care of the carpet, B decided he hated the built in shelves in the far corners.  My mom reminded him it was our house now and we could do what we wanted.  So he grabbed a hammer and knocked them down.  Of course, over the next day or two we had the joyous project of ripping down wallpaper, that had probably been on the wall about as long as the carpet had been on the floor.

I have no good tips for ripping down wallpaper.  We tried all the fancy stuff they sell at the store, but I really think nothing helps much.  My fingernails have never hurt as much as they did after that project.  Regardless of the tools you have, you'll end up using your fingers for the small pieces.  And they will hurt.  And you will swear the next house you buy will not have a single sheet of wall paper in it.

After the wallpaper was down, we found that the bottom half of the room was painted a creepy red, with black markings.  Clearly, we needed to paint, ASAP.  So that's what I did.

For the most part, that's the extend of our work in that room.  We've rearranged a bit, and I've been thinking about what to do as far as decorating goes for quite a while.  Hopefully I'll get around to it one of these days...

Anyway, here's a couple shots of our guest bedroom.  It also acts as B's home office when he works from home, currently houses my exercise bike, and until about a week ago, every gift box from Christmas was still spread out on the floor.  Yea. I'm really organized.

Here's a peak at it these days.

That mirror is supposed to go over the dresser.  Someday maybe it will make it.  The dresser (and mirror) was given to us by B's grandparents - along with a tall dresser that's currently in our master bedroom.  They had used money from their wedding to purchase them.  The bed was B's growing up at his parents.  The lamp and crooked lampshade I think I found at Target.  I decided not to make the bed before the pictures, because I'm lazy.  The curtains were leftover from the previous owners, but they matched the walls, so I've found no reason to take them down.

See, not much has changed. Just more junk.

We do have a new light fixture, we just haven't gotten around to having it changed.  But that should probably be soon, since I realized tonight 2 of the 3 bulbs in the current one are blown.  So might as well just change the whole darn thing.  As I said, I'd like to put a little more love into this room, since it is the guest bedroom, and when we have guests stay over that would be where they stay. And it's not exactly *inviting* in its current state.  I like to think once the basement is finished, some of this will make its way down there.

Ah well, one thing at a time, right?

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Dining Room

Off the living room is our dining room. And wouldn't you have it, that awesome blue carried over in there as well...awesome chair rail, huh?

You can also see the old breakfast bar on the left that came out when we did the kitchen.

There's only so much you can do to a dining room, ya know?  So we've painted, taken down the shade you can see on the right, and replaced the chandelier.  We also added a rug, which was a Christmas present from my parents.  When we took out the breakfast bar the area felt way too open, so the rug was a good way to break it up.

This was by far the best transformation in the dining room.  I wouldn't be shocked if that was the original chandelier from the 1960s, would you?  Glad we brought the dining room into the 2000s...

And here's a look at the full room....

(as usual, excuse the mess.)

The bottom of the room is the same color as the living room.  The top is a lighter shade, and the chair rail is the same color as the mantel, living room window, and trim.

The small brown table in the corner is actually our old entertainment center, that I covered with a brown paisley tablecloth.  It provides storage in the corner, since there's two hidden shelves underneath.  And if I want to change the tablecloth out, its an easy decor change.  Our dining room table was actually made by B's dad, back when his parents first got married, and they gave it to us when we moved into our apartment.  Eventually we'd like to re-stain it, but we'll see if we get to that anytime soon.  There's also the built in hutch in the back left corner, which houses all of our china, wine glasses, and other fancy stuff.

We may replace the window this summer, its almost certainly original to the house, and I think might be the last original one left in the house.  I'd also like to get a curtain/shade for it as well, since we took down the old one that didn't match.  Someday I'll also get around to adding some more pictures to the back wall.