Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cupcake Container Rec's Needed

Dear Santa,

Hey buddy. How's the weather up there in the North Pole? Cold? Okay, sorry for bringing it up. Anyway, for the past few years I've hinted that I would really like an airtight cupcake carrier type contraption for Christmas. Now, I'm not naming names, but thus far I have yet to receive one. I don't know if there is a miscommunication between your various departments, but I know I'm on a the nice list, so please send one my way.

Red Head Bakeaholic

P.S. I'll even leave out some cupcakes for you... again.

In all seriousness, I need a cupcake storage contraption. I bake a treat for every one in my office on their birthday and cupcakes are just so easy to divide up in the office. There's no need for plates, utensils, and zero arguments about someone taking a bigger slice of cake than necessary. However, transporting cupcakes an hour to work on a train can be a bit dicey. Especially if the weather is bad and I have to juggle a laptop bag, cupcake tray, lunch box, and an umbrella.

Can anyone recommend a good airtight container that's easy for carrying? Preferably would like something that is made in the USA. I know, it's weird, but it's a thing I'm going for in the kitchen.

It's 10:30pm and I just finished up the mocha chocolate with vanilla meringue frosting cupcakes shown above. The hubs just had one and he said it was amazing. I hope the frosting holds its shape overnight.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Honey! I'm home!!!

I don't know about your house life, but my house runs on a fairly tight schedule. There are so many standardized times in my work day that any major deviation from the schedule could cause a catastrophic risk to my day. Okay, most of my times focus around food or commuting, but that's normal, right?

5:45am - wake up

6:43am - leave for work

7:00am - park car/kiss hubs goodbye if carpooling

7:05am - catch train

7:45am - arrive at work

8:00am - drink coffee

9:00am- eat banana and yogurt

12:00pm- eat lunch

2:30pm- eat snack

4:40pm- leave work

4:51pm- catch train

5:24pm- get off train

5:55pm - arrive home

5:57pm- get mauled by two dogs!

Seriously! I try to come in the house all nonchalant and low-key, yet if the hubs is home already he gets the dogs all riled up and they go nuts. If I get home first or we come home together then they usually leave me alone and attack him.

Tonight I had to pin Jax to the ground and give him a serious belly rub before he would let me get out of my boots. I was terrified he was going to rip my hose or worse cause a drag in my favorite silk duponi skirt!

Other days, it's rather hilarious to come home "early" and catch the dogs by surprise. I got out of work early last Wednesday and when I came home both dogs were still asleep upstairs and it was hilarious to see them stretch themselves out and sleepily saunter down the stairs to greet me. My absolute favorite "trick" was taking a half day at work and coming home hours early and seeing Jewels' little head pop up in the window upstairs and look at me like, "what the heck are you doing here?"

Honestly, I think after a four-day weekend in which the normal schedule was thrown out the window both dogs were ready for the hubs and I to go back to work. They had 20 hour sleeping days to get back to!

How about you - do you have a fairly tight daily schedule? More flexible? Any pets that like routine?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

It's beginning to look like Thanksgiving!

What? That's not how Thanksgiving looked for you?

Oh. Maybe someone in the house has a problem. I swear it's not me. All I did was finish a bottle of wine and then two stiff vodka and cranberry drinks to polish off that bottle of Ketel One. That took me the entire four-day weekend to accomplish!

Honestly, I'm just prepping for Christmas because that's when I'm around my family next and I need to be consuming an alcoholic drink at every moment to cut down on those, "when are you going to have a baby," conversations! I hardly ever drink and now that I'm done training to run a marathon I need to train to run the marathon of baby questions that are aimed for my almost 29 year-old self!

For the record, I'm an old fashioned black label type of Jack girl. The single barrel stuff almost burned a hole through my throat. I can't believe the hubs bought himself the "whole Family of Jack" as a Thanksgiving present. Actually, buying it I'm not surprised by, but calling it a "Thanksgiving present" threw me for a loop. Who gets presents on Thanksgiving?

Any tidbits on getting through the holidays? Have a good Jack drink recipe?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Philadelphia: A Tale of Two Marathons

Saturday afternoon my bestie, Bee, and I hopped on an Amtrak train and headed north to Philadelphia, PA. We checked into the Marriott Downtown and were quite pleased with ourselves that we didn't even have to venture outside in order to get to the Convention Center for packet pick up. As soon as we received our packets, walked through the expo we picked up take out for dinner and ate on top of our king bed and watched "The King's Speech." All in all a solid Saturday evening even if it didn't include any wine!

Sunday morning began like any other race morning - up well before the crack of dawn! We left the hotel at 6:10am and walked the mile down to the race festival. It was hilarious because as we were making our way down the hotel hallway Bee asked me if I knew how to get to the start line. "Heck no! But I imagine we can just follow the other runners." Um, yeah, it seemed like 25,000 people were heading in the same direction which meant we were just sucked up into the hive. Except for that one block that the police made us avoid because there was a bomb scare. Not exactly what one wants to hear at 6:20am, but we both work in the DC area so it's not the first time we've heard that phrase shouted over a loudspeaker.

After checking our bags we hopped in line for the port-a-potties and at 6:57am abandoned any hopes we had of making it through the line. Looking back, we could have stayed in line and used the facilities, but we were both fearful of missing the start of the race. The gun actually went off late and the volunteers did a great job of actually walking the corrals to the start line to stagger the start. We were in the fourth wave, so we had an extra 8 minutes that could have been used to take care of business!!! Oh well, we learned a valuable lesson for the next race!

However, we were in great spirits because the weather was absolutely beautiful. I think at the start of the race the weather was 50 degrees, which for a marathon in the third week of November is absolutely pristine conditions! There was barely any wind and it was slightly cloudy. Sure, sunrise didn't occur until 6:51am so it was slightly dark, but it was nice out! I wore my beloved Nike capris (seriously, I don't race without them!) and my short-sleeve Under Armor Baltimore half marathon shirt.

I decided to stay strong and ditch Bee at the start of the race. I started with the gray corral because that's where the four hour pacer was located. Traditionally in long races I go out way too fast and wanted to avoid that problem in this race. I was going to stick with the four hour pace group and that was the end of the story!

Look, running with a pace group isn't for everyone. I actually had difficulty staying close to the group because I tend to wander while running. However, I did like the fact that I didn't have to think about my pace. It was quite comforting to know there was one less thing I had to think about at 7am on a Sunday! A four hour marathon breaks down to 9:10 miles, so the goal was to be close to that throughout the race.

Mile 1 - 8:58.4
Mile 2 - 9:09.4
Mile 3 - 9:03.9
Mile 4 - 9:06.3
Mile 5 - 9:13.9
Mile 6 - 8:49.0
Mile 7 - 8:29.3 (This was going up Chestnut Street and the crowds were amazing! More than one person chimed in that they thought the pace group was going a bit fast though!)
Mile 8 - 8:56.1
Mile 9 - 8:50.4
Mile 10 - 8:54.9
Mile 11 - 9:11.9
Mile 12 - 9:06.1
Mile 13 - 9:36.5
Okay, this is when I lost the pace group :( I really, really, really, really had to go to the bathroom and I'd been eying the port-a-potties at the previous two water stops. Finally I saw a huge line of port-a-potties and almost zero line of runners so I made my way over and took care of business.

Mile 14 - 9:51.3 Crap!!!! Got too slow.

Mile 15 - The wheels feel off. I don't know what happened, but whatever was in my stomach at that moment in time decided it didn't want to be there anymore. The first incident wasn't too bad. However, after a few more minutes of running I had to stop completely and empty the contents of my stomach. That followed a horrible series of jogging for a few minutes, walking, getting sick, walking, jogging, getting sick, etc. It was absolutely miserable. I could muster together a few minutes of jogging before getting sick again.

Honestly, the second half of the race was the worst two-hours and forty minutes of my life. I stared shaking, couldn't feel my fingers, and started to wander all over the course. I was actually thankful there wasn't that much crowd support during the second half of the race because then I could vomit in somewhat privacy. Honestly, every time I saw a medical assistance person I thought about asking for help and then I would notice that the medic had someone hooked up to an IV. Look, there's one thing I hate in this world more than vomiting and it's needles. So that was not going to happen.

Yes, I probably should have stopped, but I'm a stubborn individual so I didn't. I planted myself on the yellow line of the road and forced myself to move forward, even if it was in a drunken slumber type motion. For the record, I wasn't drunk. I had a beer Thursday night and that's all the alcohol I've had in the past 10 days!

When I crossed the finish line I was miserable. I wanted my gear and to get back to the hotel ASAP. As I told Bee, I wanted to have the dignity of getting sick in a proper bathroom. Also, I wanted to brush my teeth. It's the little things in life that keep me going :)

Bee, on the other hand, KILLED IT! She did so awesome and I was so happy for her! Her previous PR was 4:01 at the Cleveland Marathon. She started off Marine Corps last year with the 3:40 pace group and was absolutely devastated when she bonked in the second half and finished in 4:06. On Sunday morning she started with the 3:50 pace group and stuck with them until mile 8-9. Then, she had to use the bathroom and fell behind the pace group. Once she started up again she had to remind herself that she didn't had to catch up in the next mile or two, rather she would just pick it up little by little and catch up. However, she just clicked. Things fell into place and she passed the 3:50 pace group and finished in 3:45. She was so happy! She suffered a terrible fall last month and had a nasty cut on her knee that required quite a bit of down time. So she's felt like she's been tapering for a month and was worried her endurance would suffer. Even in my sick state back at the hotel I kept mumbling to her, "you did awesome and I'm so happy for you."

While we came back home with completely different races, we both have verbally committed to a spring marathon, yet for completely different reasons. I want to get that horrible time off of my mind as soon as possible! Bee wants to see if she can add in more speed work and qualify for Boston. The game plan is to run a spring and fall marathon next year.

It's kind of crazy because on Saturday I was actually thinking of taking next year off from a marathon and instead do more half marathons. Then, one horrible day came in the midst of months of training and it lit a fire under me to do better. I know I'm better than that time and I'm not going to let that time sit out there for too long without crushing it.

Yet, the whole weekend wasn't a complete and total lost. I got to spend two solid days with my best friend. That's worth the price of any race fee right there.

Or, as so many signs proclaimed during the race, "You've been training for this marathon longer than Kim Kardashian was married!" So yeah, it's on to the next one. Marathon that is, not fake showmance.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

No Excuses!

Old soccer t-shirt from college that says, "No Excuses" on the back. I've had this shirt for so long and will keep it until it literally disintegrates.

Just Do It

That's probably one of the best sports marketing campaigns of all time. Seriously, shut up, stop whining, and just do it!

Ah Nike, how I love you.

Tomorrow morning I'm going to continue on my journey to find my inner runner. I know that person is in there somewhere. While I haven't trained for this next marathon like I would have wanted to that's the last time I'm going to say it. I'm going to hop on a train in a few hours, head to Philly, and enjoy myself for the next two days.

Tomorrow morning it's on like Donkey Kong!

While I run another 26.2 miles tomorrow morning I know I'm going to have to dig deep and pull out some mental toughness to finish the race. With that in mind, I'm going to blow through these excuses and tell them to shut up.

Excuses for not running: (in no particular order)

  • It's dark outside.
  • It's cold outside.
  • It's raining.
  • It's hot.
  • I'm tired.
  • I worked all day.
  • I ran yesterday.
  • I just ate dinner.
  • I need to make dinner.
  • I need to take the dogs for a walk.
  • My foot hurts.
  • My back hurts.
  • I have dodgeball, softball, or football.
  • I have work to do.
  • The _______ needs to be cleaned.
  • The hubs won't go running with me.
  • I'm in ______ city and don't feel comfortable running outside.
  • I hate treadmills.
  • I just don't feel like it.

It's kind of funny, but thinking of all of the excuses I've thrown out there usually ticks me off and drives me forward in a run. It's that mental push I'm counting on somewhere around mile 20 to get me through that last 10k.

This year I have a leg up on my mental toughness because I've done this once before. I've run 26.2 miles before. Been there, done that! Whereas last year there was 6.2 miles where I thought to myself, "this is the farthest you've ever run! I hope you can handle it!"

Tomorrow when I'm running I'm going to remind myself of all those people out there in the world who have serious excuses for not moving and yet they do it anyway. The cancer survivor, the wounded warrior, the paraplegic, the asthmatic, etc. Basically, just anyone who has been told in life more than once, "you can't run a marathon."

Last year I saw a guy will himself forward in the Marine Corps Marathon with one arm. I have two legs and two arms, so what's my excuse?

Alright Philadelphia Marathon - let's do this thing!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

One Mississippi

Not to sound like a a broken record, but I'm behind on blogging ... again!

Last month I hopped on a series of planes and by way of Chicago found myself in Minneapolis for a few days. I was out there solo, but managed to have a good time nonetheless.
The first night when I was walking to my hotel I noticed a series of bikes scattered around the city. When I looked up the name online I was pleased to find out there was a cool bike share program in Minneapolis. Score! Thankfully I had a few hours to kill before catching my return flight and I was able to pick up a bike to get around and see more of the city. So I did what any normal person does, I strapped my bag (with laptop!) to the front of a bike, stuffed my camera down my coat, and zoomed around the city. You know, sans helmet and all!
When I picked up my first bike I refreshed myself with the rules and found that if I "rented" a bike for 30 minutes or less it was free. There was a $5 daily rental fee, plus an additional charge for renting bikes for loner than 30 minutes. So for the next two hours I hopped around from one bike station to the next and was able to see most of the city for a whopping $5 24 rental fee on my series of bikes. There was only one 30 minute period that ended with me peddling furiously towards a bike station to return my bike, get a new code, and check out the exact same bike! I got there with 2 minutes to spare! Not too shabby!

Don't let the straightness of this pedestrian overpass fool you! The 90 degree turns at the end proved to be a bit tricky on a bike!

I have to admit, it's been a long time since I've been sharing the road on a bike with vehicle traffic. I was slightly nervous and at first stayed on as many side streets as possible! I also didn't stop very often to take pictures because I was having too much fun peddling around.

There was a really interested and complicated series of skywalks throughout the city. I guess folks there like to have a way to travel from building to building in the middle of winter without bundling up. It took a lot longer than walking on the street, but it was kind of cool to walk from a downtown office building back to my hotel without stepping outside.

I'll search out a baseball stadium any day of the week. Unfortunately, tours weren't given on the day I was there. Maybe next time I'll be back during baseball season.

One of many bike pit stops!

I left my last bike where I began my journey, grabbed my luggage from the hotel, and then walked up to the light rail headed for the airport.

See you later Minneapolis!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Go West!

I'm not quite sure how this topic came up the other day, but one thing led to another and next thing I know I was clicking on states that I've visited. When I was done I had clicked 32 states and was left with the following map.

It really made me think that I need to get my butt out west more often! Watch out Alaska, I see a vacation to your great outdoors happening in the future.

If you're interested, make your own map here:

Any noticeable trends in your geography? Are you a West Coaster? East Coaster like me? Southern? Or is the Mason Dixon Line a line of demarcation that you'll never cross? Maybe you're a central states person and you're sticking in the heartland?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


As I've mentioned previously, we have a giant dead tree in our backyard. We didn't give it much thought when we moved in, but during Hurricane Irene the terrible thought of a tree crashing down on our house forced us to sleep in our living room and has driven fear into our hearts every time there's a drop of rain in the forecast.

Like any rational person the hubs suggested that he could get a few of his "buddies" to "take down the tree." Seriously, it's like sometimes he doesn't even know me. Like I'm really going to let a bunch of his "buddies" come to our house, use chainsaws, and have the ability to leave us homeless if they "mess up" and drop a tree on our house. Trees on houses are not cool!

The next logical sense was to hire individuals who actually take trees down for a living.

Of course, there was one slight problem and I was the problem.

How do I put this delicately?






I drive a Prius, use reusuable grocery bags, re-cycle, take mass transit to work, avoid bottled water, and have 800 additional quasi annoying qualities because I want to "save the environment." Having a tree cut down on my watch drove a stake through my heart. Really, I pushed it off for as long as I could, but I knew deep down inside that the tree had to come down.

So before the "guys" came over to take the tree down, I had one last heart to heart with one of God's most beautiful and life giving creatures. Okay, that was probably a bit much. But I did hug the tree to prove my self-proclaimed "tree hugger" status.

The guys who came to our house were comprised of a three man team. Really, I didn't think it would take so many people to take down one tree, but what do I know about such things. The one guy was all over the tree. I swear, within 60 seconds of being in our backyard he was climbing up the tree like Spiderman. I was thoroughly impressed!
I retreated inside so that the tree guys couldn't see me cry as they cut down the tree.
Each and every time a cut piece hit the ground the house shook, I flinched, and the pups went nuts. I calmed myself by making scones.

Seriously, these guys knew what they were doing. The two guys on the ground were responsible for hooking up a series of ropes and guiding the various tree limbs down to the ground once they were cut. They placed everything right where they intended for them to go or at least that's how it looked to my untrained eye!

About 90 minutes after starting the process the tree was down, stripped from this earth, and chopped up like old parts at a junkyard. We could have had the crew take the deceased pieces of evidence, but with a fully functioning wood stove in our man cave we knew we would use the wood. The hubs and I were left with two large piles of wood and only one little wood shed. We decided that first and foremost we would cut up the small pieces of wood and store those. I actually suggested not cutting up the huge pieces of the trunk and using them as mini patio tables for our next few summer parties. We'll see how that goes next summer.

In the meantime, the hubs was far too excited to buy an ax and get his Paul Bunyan impression on. I think he needs to add a flannel shirt or else it's like he's not even trying.

The hubs actually presented me with a peace offering knowing that I was really upset by having to have a tree cut down. We're going to plant a smaller tree in our front yard next spring. It'll be kind of nice to say, "we planted that tree our first spring in this house" and get all sappy like that. Any suggestions on what to plant?

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Dreaded 20 miler

The 20 mile run. It leaps off the page of any marathon training schedule and stares you down. "How many 20s are you doing?" or "When is your 20 miler?" are common questions that inevitably come when you're training for a marathon. It's a run that needs to happen, but has the potential to suck at the same time.

Well I did mine last Sunday and it did indeed suck.

1. The weather: Thankfully, it wasn't snowing, sleeting, or raining on Sunday like it was on Saturday. My bestie did her 20 miler on Saturday and I got myself threw a few miles just by thinking, "look it's only cold and you're not dealing with the yuckiness that she did yesterday."

2. Timing: I usually like to start my long runs between 8 and 8:30 am. I don't know why, but at 8am on Sunday it was still below freezing and the frost buildup on my car kept me from venturing outside. So like a whimp I waiting inside until the temperature rose to 35 degrees which meant I didn't start running until 9:30am. Finishing up after 12:30pm SUCKED! At the end of my run I was still saying, "good morning" to people and they probably thought I was nuts.

3. I'm an idiot: There I said it. I'm still not running with much pace these days, but when I started my run on Sunday there was a guy just starting out on the trail. I don't know why I do it, but for some strange reason I tried to keep up with him. Okay, fine - I lied, I tried to pass him. The dude stopped running and turned back at four miles into the trail! As he ran by me he says, "have a good run."

Idiot! Idiot! Idiot! I went out way too fast for such a long run. My goal for my 20miler was to run 9:45 to 10:00 minute miles and I went out in 9:15, 9:10, 9:12, and 9:15. Stupid times four! I ignored my Garmin and just kept up with the guy. Those faster miles did indeed come back to haunt me during my later miles.

4. Running by myself: I know I just complained that I went out too fast because I was trying to keep up with someone else, but it would have been nice to had someone to run with for the entire 20 miles or at least someone to run with during those last four difficult miles. The hubs ran the last four miles with me last year, which was nice, but unfortunately he was out of town on Sunday. Maybe next year I'll actually join a running group!

5. Mental deficiencies: During the last four miles all I could think about was getting Chick-fil-A for lunch. Yes, on a Sunday. Anyone who has a CFA obsession knows that CFA is closed on Sunday! I didn't even realize it until I was driving past the CFA by my house. D'oh!

Post-run I napped and lounged on the couch for most of the day. My legs felt good and I was surprisingly happy post-run. However, on Monday morning I lost my phone (twice!), forgot to pack my toothbrush, and had the attention span of a gnat at work. Clearly that 20 miler got the best of my mental capabilities. Good thing I'm taking off from work on Monday, November 21st!