Sunday, November 22, 2015


Yesterday I had the pleasure of...umm..eyeballing Iron Chef Mario Batali.

You see, I had a ticket to his event at one of our new local upscale grocery stores. He was there to promote his new Farm to Table cookbook by doing a meet and greet with his public. The tickets were free but you had to sign up for them. He had three sessions, 30 minutes each. Session 1 went from 12:30 pm - 1:00pm, Session 2 from 1:00 pm to 1:30 pm, and so forth.

My daughter was in Carmel that morning dancing. This would be followed by her "Nutcracker" rehearsal at 2pm. Yesterday was parent observation day - the day the parents get to see the full rehearsal run of the show. Since G is dancing the lead of Klara this year I planned to be there early to get a good seat and take photos.

So... plan was to go see Mario at Session 1 then drive the 15 minutes over to the studio with plenty of time left over.

I got to the store 15 minutes before the event started. I was worried about parking. The event was "sold out". They had released 400 tickets per 30 minute session and all 1200 tickets were taken.

Since Mario was promoting his new book you could buy the book there for 25% off and he would sign it. The first thing you saw after turning your ticket in was a table loaded with his new cookbook. It was a beautiful book. Hardcover with wonderful photos. I thumbed through it and decided I didn't need another thing in my life. I bypassed the line of people buying books and took my place in the meet and greet line. There were maybe 100 people in front of me...

Mario showed up promptly at 12:30 pm. He gave a short talk about the goodness of fresh quality seasonal ingredients. He told everyone to go buy a vegetable you've never eaten, cut it up, put a bit of oil on it, season to taste, and bake for 30 minutes. He guaranteed it would be wonderful. He also stressed that there was no "right" or "wrong" in cooking. If it tastes good to you, it is "right." The meet and greet started after that.

There was a professional photographer taking photos of everyone with Mario. We were told when we entered that we could not take any personal photos but that the professional photos would be available free of charge at their website. As people started filing through, Mario would talk to them, thumb through his book and autograph it if you had a book, and then take a photo. He took at least a minute with everyone.

The couple behind me asked me the time. They commented that they had been to book signings before where there was a "prepper" at the table that would open the books for the author as soon as you got there so the author could sign his name, shake your hand, and then move on. Mario, on the other hand, was chatting and thumbing through his books, conversing, and then taking photos. They thought the man was wonderful for taking the time to do this but they had another commitment that afternoon.

By now I'm sure you've done the math...

There was NO WAY Mario was going to "meet and greet" 400 people in 30 minutes. Regretfully, I couldn't stay either. At 1:00pm there were still at least 30 people in front of me. The open rehearsal was more important. I got out of line and left.

Today I got an interesting email from the bookseller Barnes and Noble. On Black Friday they were releasing a variety of books that had been signed by the author. Part of the emailed stated:

All told, participating Signed Edition authors each signed close to 4,500 books, averaging 12 hours’ worth of signing at a rate of 400 books per hour, and used over 3,150 pens in total.

Hmmm... so if it takes one hour to just continuously sign 400 books I wonder how long it took Mario to see all those people yesterday. Truly he was overbooked. I wonder how long he was there. Did he have another commitment that he had to rush off to too or did he stay to satisfy his fans? Surely they didn't spend the night at the grocery store (a minute a person X 1200 = 20 hours!)

Looking at our own lives, how often do we overbook ourselves? I know I'm guilty far too often. Then, do we disappoint or do we gut it out in misery? I'd rather not do either. Perhaps the answer is to just say "no". Get over that Fear Of Missing Out.Yesterday was another nudge of a reminder to me. Be more present in what we are doing now. Have the time to sip some tea and enjoy more peaceful sunsets...

My cold November sunset... it was actually raining but the sky was beautiful!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Taking the Christmas Pledge

Life seems so much easier when you have a plan. This year I have taken the "Christmas Pledge." It's a concept I read about on another blog I follow called "The Art of Doing Stuff." Basically you plan to get all your Christmas related things done by December 1st so you can truly enjoy the season.

In my head I think about doing this every year. Don't we all? However, writing it all down in black and white makes it all so concrete. It's a plan to follow, similar to what runners do with a training plan. Here is mine. Christmas items are in red.

I don't put up decorations until a month before Christmas. The only challenge will be that I am planning to get new carpet for the living room. The tree will have to go up after the carpet is installed. Otherwise I hope everything will be done by December 1st.

I want this December to enjoy. My younger daughter is dancing the lead role of Klara in a local "Nutcracker" production the first weekend in December. I want to have time for all the Christmas crafts I've wanted to do. I want to enjoy baking Christmas goodies. I want to sit by the Christmas tree at night with a cup of tea and just gaze at the lights.

If you want to read more about the "Christmas Pledge" you can find it HERE. Karen, the woman that writes this blog, actually started doing this in 2011 and there are posts every year about it. The link is to the 2014 post that I think has everything in a nutshell. I really like her blog because, well, she's kinda like me. It's a little bit of everything...

For example, since I have the attention span of a gnat, I read about the DIY Cat Scratching Pad next and ended up making this...

Let the Holidays begin!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Week of November 8, 2015

Sunday 11/8 - zero; ridiculously sore from Saturday's trail run - like afraid-to-go-down-the stairs sore!
Monday 11/9 - zero. Worked 6:30 am - 3 pm then worked the IU-Bellarmine Basketball game. Got home at 10:30 pm. Still sore.
Tuesday 11/10 - zero. Worked 6:30 am - 3 pm. Still sore.
Wednesday 11/11 - zero. Just didn't get it worked into my schedule today.
Thursday 11/12 - 1 mile. My hearts been doing a weird pounding all week. Not fast but I can feel it just pounding in my chest as well as in my upper abdomen. Not painful but bothersome and distracting. Very windy so I tried the hamster track but felt winded after a mile and stopped. Didn't feel good overall. Still coughing.
Friday 11/13 - 5 miles. Still very windy out so went to the safety of the hamster track and did OK.
Saturday 11/14 - 6 miles. Nice easy run on the Monon. Weather was great and I finally felt good.

Total for week: 12 miles


Stuff has been taken to Goodwill.

Did quite a bit of grocery deals this week.

Took the "Christmas Pledge" and plan to have all Christmas things done by December 1st except maybe getting the tree up because...

Got around to ordering new carpet for the living room. Room will be measured on Tuesday and install date will be determined after that.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Owen-Putnam State Forest Fun Run - Was That Running?

My friend Sue talked me into this one...

I haven't raced at all lately, mainly because I'm cheap and I'm not a "social" racer meaning, usually when I sign up for a race, I'm either running for time, place, or a training purpose. I love hanging out with my runner friends at races but I usually don't sign up for races just to socialize.

The big race in central Indiana on November 7th was the Monumental Marathon. I was originally going to run it and had asked for the weekend off at the beginning of the year but didn't register because I'd learned my lesson last year. This was originally going to be my fall marathon but I decided over the summer not to do it. Everybody was running it this past weekend. I kinda sorta wanted to be a part of it but I certainly wasn't in any marathon shape. Heck, I'd hardly run in a month since I got sick. I had thought about doing the half but I didn't want to pay $70+ to do it when I could just roll out my front door and run 13.1 miles for free. I guess that's the downside to having the ability to do that; running 13 miles is no longer an event. I batted around the idea of volunteering to pace the half as I was sure I could pace anything slower than 2:10 but then found out that there were no half marathon pacers. Oh well, I resigned myself to not doing anything that weekend.

Then... Sue talks me into doing this trail run. She was going to do it with her brother and her niece. Her brother Jed is a really good ultramarathoner with multiple Boston runs under his belt. He was doing the 50K trail run. Sue is pretty fast too and also has multiple Boston runs under her belt. (Thinking back, she was the one that was supposed to run the Monumental Marathon with me in 2013 in my first try at a BQ but ended up not being able to run that day). She thought she'd do the Fun Run. The Fun Run is 14.1 miles. Kinda funny how perspective changes when you hang out with ultra runners. The other race going on that day was a 50 miler - hence the OPSF 50/50.

This was perfect. I was going to have fun. No pressure. There is no way to compare trail running times to road racing times and you can't even compare trail races with each other because every trail is different. I'd never run a long trail race so there were no expectations. I'd get a long run in, hang out with some friends, and get some hill running in too. A training run with a purpose. For $35 I was in.

Race morning rolls around. My car says it's 39 degrees. Perfect running weather once you get moving. Me, Sue, and her niece Jill are all huddled in Jill's car half joking about a 1-2-3 finish. Jill's never run more than 13.1 miles but she's been training. Sue and I on the other hand have hardly been running. We're gonna just run on our "old lady muscles."

We amble over to the start at the 5 minute call. The 50K/50 milers started an hour before us. I think there are about 20 runners. No corrals, chips or timing mats. The starter says "go" and off we go.

It's been a gorgeous Indiana fall... but it rained the two days before the race. A guy in a cut off T-shirt darted to the front and was gone. After him were two guys running together with gaiters on. I followed these two. I had no idea who anyone was or how fast anyone ran except Sue. We had gone maybe 400 meters... it was really muddy so I had been watching the guys in front of me to see where they were stepping. We went over some leaves when, suddenly, what the heck!!! I found myself standing ankle deep in soft mud in just my socks! My shoes were 5 yards behind me. The mud had literally sucked my shoes off my feet. F***! Here I was, a quarter mile into a 14 mile race, feet soaking wet and muddy. It actually took some effort to tug my shoes out of the mud. Then, I had to cram my muddy feet back in the shoes, tying them as tight as I could to prevent a repeat episode, all the while it felt like the whole world was passing me by.

OK, so I lied. I did have a little expectation going into this run... I had looked up the times from the year before (I know, I know... I can't help it...) The first woman had crossed in 2:59:40. I say "first woman" as there are no awards in this race. I thought I could run this in 3:00 or less. I had run 10 in Morgan Monroe in just under 2:00 about a month earlier. Surely I could run 4 more miles in an hour. However, this was billed as "the toughest race in Indiana." Really? How much tougher could it really be. We're in Indiana. Not Colorado or California.

Anyhoos... I get my shoes back on and take off running. I caught up to a man and woman running together who told me to pass. It was a single track trail now. I caught up to another man and ran behind him until there was a wide spot and then went around him. I caught up to a second man and did the same thing. Soon I saw Sue's pink shirt up ahead of me and caught up to her. We ran together for a couple miles.

It was crazy. It was so muddy it was like trying to run on a huge Slip and Slide. In some spots you just had to pick your way through and try not to sink too deep in the mud. We were both cursing, swearing we would never do this again...and who's idea it was...

We got to the first Aid Station 5.5 miles into the race. I stopped to drink a couple cups of water but Sue went on. I left the Aid Station and the trail sloped down to a road. I crossed the road but couldn't find the trail on the other side. The Aid Stations are just off the forest access roads so the volunteers can get to them. I ran back up to the Aid Station to ask where the trail went. Do I cross the road? One guy said "yes" and another said "no." Just then, I saw some of the Ultra runners coming back from the other direction. There was a trail off to the right just past the Aid Station. This was the correct way. It paralleled the road for a bit and then you crossed the road and picked up on the other side.

Once I crossed the road, it was hillier but a bit drier. This was supposed to be the out and back portion of the trail (from Aid Station B to Aid Station C, and then back to B). The race map looked like this...

I started seeing more Ultra runners coming back the other way. "Good Job" was the common greeting amongst all. The footing was still treacherous. The course was marked with pink flags but to see them, you had to keep looking ahead and then you couldn't watch your footing. What was so treacherous was the thick layer of leaves. Often, like where I lost my shoes, there was thick mud underneath. I started up a hill when I spotted another runner below me on the hillside. "Over here, the course is over here." It was Jed yelling at me. I was totally going the wrong way. If he hadn't crossed paths with me in that instant I'd probably been lost for quite some time.
I ran alone for another stretch. I then came upon two guys coming towards me, but from the side of the trail, who asked me if I had reached the turnaround yet. They said they had gotten lost, then went by me the other direction. I couldn't tell if they were Ultra runners or some of the Fun Run runners that had passed me. Alone again but still seeing pink flags. I hadn't studied the course map very closely so I had had it in my head that the next Aid Station was at the halfway point. I passed 7 miles on my Garmin and I was still running alone in the woods. I started getting concerned.
The guy in the cut off T-shirt then came running towards me. Phew! I knew he was the Fun Run race leader. I wasn't lost. Jill came flying towards me a short while later. I looked at my watch. 7.5 miles. She yelled that Sue was "just up ahead" of me. The two guys in gaiters came past me after that. Then, I felt like I ran and I ran and I ran. Nobody. Again I was seriously concerned I was lost. Finally I saw Sue's pink shirt coming towards me. "Oh good, I'm not lost!"
Sue pointed out the Aid Station on the road just behind her. "Remember where the trail is!" was her advice. She had lost the trail where it met the road and had just now found it again. This was an unmanned Aid Station. Just jugs of water on a picnic table. Just jugs. No cups. I guess all the Ultra runners were carrying bottles. I found the lightest jug and poured water in my mouth. Then I hit the port-a-potty. Second time ever that I've used a port-a-potty in a race but it's not like a couple minutes were going to matter at this point. Garmin read 8.5 miles. I figured Jill was at least 2 miles ahead of us. Might as well be comfortable.

Going back to Aid Station B felt better, mostly because I saw more people and I knew I wasn't lost. I caught back up to Sue but then let her go on ahead. I had tweaked my right ankle four times by now so I just wanted to make it back to run another day rather than all out sprain the ankle. The ground was still so slippery I couldn't stay upright. I felt like I had been on a drinking binge and then decided to go for a run. All the hills were walked aggressively. All the downhills were run with trepidation. All the flats were too slippery to run. There weren't a whole lotta flats either...

Only after I got back to Aid Station B did I realize that the Aid Station wasn't in the middle of the loop. The leg from the Start to the Aid Station was longer than from the Aid Station to the Finish. Garmin read 11 miles. I was ready to get this thing over with!

There was a long uphill going out of Aid Station B. Everyone was walking. I passed two Ultra runners then, thankfully, the trail went to my left and was more runnable. I caught back up to Sue and we ran together for a while. Walked up another uphill. Again the trail seemed more runnable after that so I told her I was going to run what I could and took off running. At about 12.5 miles there was the most ridiculous hill that came straight out of a creek. I literally had to use my hands to get up it. Ran more after that. Then, I turned a corner and boom! there was the finish line. I was not expecting the finish to be there. I thought I'd see or hear it long before I got to it, but there it was, right in front of me. "Second woman" was called out as I crossed. I'll take it. I was happy to be done. Happy to still have my ankles. Happy to still have my shoes. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful fall day. It was a great workout. It was fun. I'm not sure if I could call it running though...

Official time 3:03:57. Not 3:00 but close enough... although... I wonder what I could run it on a dry day?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Last Weeks Steals - Shopping and Reviews on Some Favorite Things

For most of the year I'm purely a grocery deal shopper... but not November.

I LOVE shopping in November. No, I'm no longer a Black Friday shopper. I've got my deal shopping down to where I can get better than Black Friday deals throughout the year. No need to fight the crowds anymore. No, the best thing about November shopping is that it's my birthday month and, with it, come all the birthday presents from the retailers I frequent.

Most of the gifts are small (but Finish Line surprised me this year with $20!) but when I combine them with all the holiday sales that start in November it's a small windfall. (Admittedly, my daughter snorted when she saw the $5 from Buckle...)

So last Thursday was "Me Day." I went shopping. First stop was Bath and Body Works. We are almost out of body wash and, gasp, I hadn't done any body wash drug store deals lately. Time to get the good stuff. I found it a good practice to always have a $25 Bath and Body Works gift card in my wallet. I get my supply from either my credit card points or any number of other rewards sites.

Bath and Body Works currently has out a $10 off $30 coupon as well as a free product coupon that can be used together. They also almost always run "Buy 3, Get 3 Free" on their Signature line. My take...

6 bottles of body wash and one bottle of lotion. Full retail is $12.50 each so $87.50 - that's just insane! Take off the "Buy 3, Get 3 Free" plus the free item and you're down to $37.50. Use the $10 off $30 and you're at $27.50 which is $3.93 a bottle and far more reasonable. I used my $25 gift card and got it all for $2.50 + $1.93 tax ($4.43). These are my current favorite scents.

You can get all 7 for $27.50 too. Search for the coupons online if you don't get their mailers or emails.

Next stop was Kohls. They had sent me a $10 gift certificate for my birthday. I also had $5 in Yes2You rewards to use, plus, they currently have a coupon (you can get it online) for $10 off a $25 purchase. I thought that if I could find a $25 item, I could in theory get it for free.

I rarely just go looking to find something to buy. I know that retailers send you five to ten dollars as the "carrot" to get you in the store. Going into a store just looking to buy something is treading on dangerous ground. My goal was to find something I needed or had been looking for. If all else failed I was going to get Food Saver rolls or chocolate as I can always use these! Luckily, I found something better. Two somethings...

First was a running glove and headband set from Nike. $25 exactly. The only thing that kept me from jumping on it was that I also had $20 to spend at Finish Line and they had Nike gloves on clearance online. Then, I found it! I'd been looking for a cupcake carrier all summer. I'd actually cashed in credit card points for a Bed Bath and Beyond gift card thinking I could get one there, only to find they didn't have any. I'd shelved that project for awhile. Now I found it. A two-tier 24 cupcake carrier from Food Network.

It snaps apart and the cupcake inserts come out.

You can use it without the inserts for cakes or other things. Since the layers snap together, you can carry just one, or if you bought another one, you can snap more layers on.

I LOVE it! Full price was $34.99, on sale for $27.99. Take off $10 off $25, then $10 and $5, and I got it for $2.99 + $0.21 tax ($3.20).

The $10 off $25 coupon is a crazy deal. It's still available online.

Next stop was Wild Birds Unlimited. Picked up my 5 lbs of free birdseed. I got the "no mess" variety but my birds are spoiled and made a mess anyway. There are no shells in the "no mess" variety but my birds won't eat the millet. I usually fill my feeders with cracked sunflower seed hearts.

Next stop was Best Buy. I wanted to check out a camera bag. had a Lowepro sling bag on sale for $16.95. It looked like a steal but I wanted to look at the bag in person before I ordered it. I had been looking for a camera bag that could double as a purse. I actually bought a purse that was large enough to carry my camera but it doesn't offer any protection for the camera. The bag online was the Lowepro Sling II, last years model. The Sling III is out now. I saw absolutely no difference. The retail price at Best Buy is $49.99 for the Sling III. The regular price of the Sling II at Adorama is $39.99. $16.95 AND free shipping sounded like a killer deal to me.

Bag arrived today!
It's expandable.
3 outside pockets
2 way zipper... for some reason I love 2 way zippers.
A look inside.
Bag with my Nikon D90 with 18-200mm lens attached.
 There's room for another lens or flash plus more.
Padding velcos in and out.
2 inner pouches with Velcro closures.
I LOVE this bag! It's perfect for my needs. If you like it, Adorama has been running it at this price quite often lately so keep an eye out. Plus, Adorama sent me a card for 100 free pictures.

 Can't beat that!

Speaking of photos, when I ordered my free prints from Shutterfly on 11/2, I also got a coupon for $10 off and free shipping to Shutterfly always offers a choice of 3-4 different coupons after you complete an order. Most are percent off deals at a store so I always choose the Shoebuy coupons. Many times I never use the Shoebuy coupon but this time I had a need.

I need more running socks. I have no idea why running socks are so freakin' expensive. Maybe I'm just cheap. I nearly destroyed a pair of Balega's on Saturday's trail run...

I was so muddy I had to take off my socks and shoes before I entered the house!
Trust me, they were so muddy they could stand on their own. If they hadn't been $11 (I really paid full price for these!), I'd have pitched them... but I rescued them.
Shoebuy happened to have Smartwool socks on clearance. $12.97 for two pairs. They usually run $18 a pair. YES! $2.97 for two pairs of socks, free shipping... and a complimentary Tide pod (that was a surprise. Are they psychic?)

Even without the coupon, this is a great deal so if you're in the market for running socks you may want to take a look. The only sizes they have left are Women's Small - says fits shoe size 4 - 6.5 but they fit my feet just fine and I wear a size 8 Brooks running shoe.

That's all for now. I'm sure there'll be more deal posts this month. Happy deal shopping!

...and obviously, none of the retailers or brands mentioned in this post paid me anything to write about them :)

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Week of November 1, 2015

Notes to myself to keep track of my running...

Sunday 11/1 - 3 miles
Monday 11/2 - 6 miles
Tuesday 11/3 - 5 miles
Wednesday 11/4 - zero
Thursday 11/5 - zero
Friday 11/6 - 4 miles
Saturday 11/7 - 14 miles

Total for week: 32 miles

Friday was "me" day. Did some deal shopping during the day and then ran 4 on the Monon in the evening. I'll post a deal summary later.

Saturday was the Owen Putnam State Forest 14 mile Fun Run. Ran it with Sue and her niece Jill. We finished 1-2-3, Jill-me-Sue. Plan to post later when the results are posted as I don't know what my official time was or how many people ran as the three of us left soon after we finished and almost everyone else was still out on the course.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

11/4 and 11/5

Wednesday November 4, 2015
Pretty much a lost day.
Woke up at 3 am and couldn't go back to sleep then was tired all day.
Drove out to Owen Putnam State Forest to find the starting location for the trail race on Saturday. Took 1:15 to drive out there so didn't have time to get a run in.
Got back home in time to run errands with J then go out for dinner with the in-laws to celebrate G's birthday.

Thursday November 5, 2015
Woke up at 3 am again. Cleaned the kitchen this time then went to sleep on the couch til the kids woke up.
Finally got all the Goodwill stuff loaded in the car.
Ran 3 miles. Crappy run. Tired and just didn't feel good. Plan was to run 6 miles but I called it at 3.
Not much else got done today.