Thursday, May 31, 2007

Guilty Pleasure: Workout

I've been doing pretty well working out this year. My New Year's resolution was to do strength training at least 6 times every month and, as of the end of May, I've managed to stick to that. Yay, me!

What has really helped is finding my guilty workout pleasure show on Bravo. It's called, quite simply, Workout, and is a reality TV show about a gym in Los Angeles. There's not a whole lot going on here. Some relationship angst, co-worker fights, etc. But mostly it's beautiful trainers, helping beautiful people stay in shape. But, for good measure, they do throw in a few out-of-shape (aka normal) people that they're rehabilitating.

And even when it drives me crazy, I still love to watch it while I work out. It's not quite the same as having my own personal trainer, but until I have that best-selling novel, this is probably the closest I'll come.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Return to Sender

Before I start my rant about our U.S. Postal Service, I have to add a disclaimer: my father-in-law is a postal carrier. I know that many--probably most--are wonderful, dedicated people who do a fantastic job and make our everyday lives a little easier.

However, that is not the case with our mail carrier. I was always taught that, under certain circumstances, the mailbox is a two-way communication device. If the mail has been delivered to the wrong house, or if you have a package delivery slip that needs to be signed, you can leave these items in the mailbox and your postal carrier will respond appropriately. He or she will take away the incorrect mail, or deliver the package.

At our house, this does not happen. When we leave mail in the mailbox, that's exactly where it stays.

Does our mailman think that we're too lazy to bring in all of our mail? Or maybe, because we don't get a lot of mail, he thinks we like to leave some in the box for the next day. To tide us over, as it were.

So now our dilemma is that, if mail is incorrectly delivered to our house, we have absolutely no way to get it back to its rightful owner without excessive time and effort on our part. The other week, I walked a piece of mail a block over and dropped it in their mailbox. Even though I had to walk the dog anyway, I was still irritated. I spent the whole time thinking, "This isn't my job! I shouldn't be delivering mail!"

We've tried leaving the mailbox open, with the mail sticking up so he notices it. We've tried folding the mail over the edge of the box, so it's hanging halfway out. If anyone has another other ideas of how we might convince our mail carrier we actually left that mail there for a reason, I'm open to suggestions.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Quiet Homecoming

Well, we're back. The trip to New York was sad and good, if that's possible. Obviously the wake and funeral were hard for everyone, but it was also good to spend time with Keith's family, and hear so many wonderful stories about his uncle.

The next time we'll see them will be under much happier circumstances--at Keith's sister's wedding in early July. That seems far off, but I'm sure it'll be here before we know it.

I'm happy to report that our animals have not forgotten who we are, and actually seemed to miss us. I was afraid that, between cat treats for Gomez at my parent's house, and a rambunctious doggie playmate for Beckett at Erin and Josh's house, they wouldn't want to come home. But they seemed glad to be back at the house, investigating every corner to ensure nothing had changed in their absence. They both slept with us last night, and Gomez even curled up on my lap this morning for a few minutes before work.

I'm really looking forward to walking Beckett when I get home from work, and just getting back into the routine of things. Of the past 6 weekends, we've been gone for 4. I'm excited for some quiet, uneventful time at home.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Sad News

Unfortunately, I have a very good reason to go MIA the rest of the week. Tomorrow morning we're flying out to New York for the wake/funeral of Keith's uncle. He was a wonderful man, and he'll be truly missed. Please keep Keith's family in your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Nefarious Influence of the Roaming Gnome

While we were in Cincinnati this weekend, the kids stayed with Aunt Erin and Uncle Josh. We were pretty excited about it because Erin and Josh have two large, rambunctious dogs, and the only time I've ever seen Beckett worn out is after a visit to their house. So we were looking forward to picking up a tired puppy and content kitten on Sunday.

One thing we hadn't counted on was the nefarious influence of their Roaming Gnome. As the picture below shows, he had quite a bad effect on our previously angelic dog. Before meeting the gnome, Beckett was perfectly behaved.

He wasn't the kind of dog to steal an entire package of margarine off the counter, leaving only a chewed corner of the box as evidence of the deed. He certainly wouldn't be caught standing in the middle of the dining room table. And assuredly he wasn't the sort of animal who would be on dog bed #3, because he'd ripped the first two to shreds when our backs were turned. Not our baby!

So take this perfect, precious puppy, introduce him to a Roaming Gnome, and see what happens. Beware--it could happen to you, too! (Pictures and storyline courtesy of Erin and Josh.)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Weekend without Running

Yay! For the first time in a few weeks, I don't have a race this weekend. Instead, we're heading down to Cincinnati for my sister-in-law's wedding shower.

I'm looking forward to not running at all on Saturday. I'll be sitting comfortably at the shower, eating cookies and cakes and drinking Coke, working hard to regain any calories I've expended recently during my races. And loving every minute of it!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Parking Etiquette

It doesn't happen often, but sometimes when leaving work, I end up walking to the parking lot with another employee.

Yesterday, it was someone I didn't know. So we didn't really talk, just walked a few feet apart to the lot and got into our respective cars.

Particularly in a small parking lot such as ours, I think there's a certain parking etiquette. Similar to how you don't bowl when the person at the lane next to yours is already up, I think it's impolite to pull out of your parking spot at the same time. But if I get in the car first, and she turns her car on first, who has right of way?

I wasn't in a big hurry, and she seemed like she was further along in the process since her car was running, so I made a show of grabbing my cell phone and calling Keith, clearly yielding to her the right of first exit. But she didn't go! We ended up both sitting in our running cars for a minute or so until she finally pulled out.

Next week: How to politely pass an 80-year-old woman on the sidewalk when you're riding your bike.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Writer's Block: Officially Ended

Life is funny sometimes. I met a Cleveland person on the boards over at Woxy a few months ago. We actually even met in person when Woxy 2.0 went silent last fall. A month or so ago, it came up that we're both writers. She casually mentioned that her writers' group is looking for new members, and asked me if I'd be interested.

I've never really been part of a writers' group before, but they always sound like a good idea. Like-minded, creative individuals, coming together to improve each others' work and also give encouragement. Plus, if you're in a writers' group, doesn't that automatically make you a real writer? For me, that distinction can be a little fuzzy at times. Along the lines of "If a tree falls in the forest....", if I write but no one ever reads it, does that make me a writer?

I said I'd love to join and sent off a piece for their consideration. My Internet buddy made it clear, in the nicest way possible, that you're not "in" just because you're interested. They have to like your work and you have to mesh with the group's personalities.

So last Wednesday, the group + me gathered at one of the members' houses. I thought it went really well. I spoke some, but hopefully wasn't overbearing on my first time. I handled the criticisms of my piece with dignity, I thought. But even better was hearing them talk about the parts that they liked. They said my writing had style and tone! Who knew?!?

After the meeting, I knew I definitely wanted to be in the group. But I had to wait until yesterday to get the official invitation. I'm in!

Hopefully, joining this writers' group will do for me all the things I've never managed to do on my own. Be motivated, write regularly, actually revise my pieces and submit them places. And think of myself as a real writer.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Post-Race Relaxing

Okay, last post about running for quite some time--I promise.

Saturday morning's race was really good. I was glad that Monica and her younger sister Maya could join us, because Mon and I run about the same (tortoise) pace, and Maya could actually keep up with Keith, so everyone had a pace-appropriate partner! I think everyone was happy with their times--I was happy with the doughnut, smoothie (x2), popcorn, and mini-muffin I had afterwards.

My parents came to cheer us on. This is only the second race we've run in Cleveland, and it was great to have them there. After the race we all wandered around the zoo for a bit, but it was a lot colder out than it looked. If you stood in a patch of sun, and the wind was calm, it was a beautiful day. But as soon as the sun disappeared behind the cloud or a breeze blew, you wanted to head inside to warm up.

So I made it through two races in two weekends, and I believe both my legs are still attached and functioning. If that changes, I'll be sure to let you know. I'm looking forward to sitting around all Saturday afternoon at my sister-in-law's wedding shower this coming weekend. A nice change of pace!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Race Day: Part 2

Now that I'm nearly recuperated from the 10k in Cincinnati last weekend .... we have a 5k race tomorrow morning at the Cleveland Zoo.

Normally, we don't run races on back-to-back weekends. When we plan ahead for the summer, we try to get in one race/month. But we like to do the Flying Pig, and after signing up for that we realized that UMDF Run Wild for a Cure was the following weekend. Because the race benefits mitochondrial disorder research, and my sister has a mitochondrial disorder, we decided to do the race despite the timing.

It wouldn't be so bad, except I decided that I've been slacking on the weight-lifting lately, and really needed to get back on that. I did a lower body work-out Tuesday night .... and have been walking funny ever since. My legs are sooo sore. Much more sore than they were after race day last weekend.

I thought I was getting over it. By this morning, I figured most of the soreness should be gone. So Beckett and I ran a few miles to work out the last of the soreness.

Um yeah, that totally backfired. It's worse than ever! Is it possible my 5k time this weekend will be slower than my 10k last weekend? I guess we'll find out!

Maybe I just need to look at this race as laying the foundation for the rest of the summer. The baseline, as it were. So if it's really, really awful, there's no where to go but up!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Running Playlist

Usually, when I'm running around the neighborhood with the dog, I listen to audiobooks. But for races, good, fast music can be a lot more motivational.

So for the Flying Pig 10k, I took all the audiobook tracks off my MP3 player and put on some of my favorite running songs instead. For no particular reason, I've listed some of the tracks below*:
"Ping One Down", "Hamoa Beach" and "Fill My Cup" (live version) by Gomez
"Seventeen Years" by Ratatat
"I Will Follow You Into the Dark" by Death Cab for Cutie
"Gold Digger" by Kanye West
"She Wants to Move" by N.E.R.D.
"Bullets" by Bob Schneider
"A Peak You Reach" by Badly Drawn Boy
"Pressure Point" by The Zutons
"Flathead" by The Fratellis
"Sons & Daughters" by The Decemberists
"I Love You 'Cause I Have To" by Dogs Die in Hot Cars
"So Says I" by The Shins
"Yeah!" by Usher featuring Lil' John and Ludacris
"The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" by The Postal Service
"Vegas two times" by Stereophonics
"Do You Want To" by Franz Ferdinand
"Hands Open" by Snow Patrol
"World Wide Suicide" by Pearl Jam
"Watch the Girl Destroy Me" by Possum Dixon
"24" by Jem
"Cold Beverage" by G. Love and Special Sauce
"Heavy Metal Drummer" by Wilco
"The Seed (2.0)" by The Roots
"Lady Madonna" by The Beatles
"Super Bon Bon" by Soul Coughing

* All links are to the albums at

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Finish Line

Sorry I didn't get a chance to post earlier; I actually had to work at work. Crazy!

Anyway, the races this past weekend went really well. My goal was to finish in under 68 minutes, and I finished in 64:23. I breezed handily up and over the first bridge, and I thought the rest of the race would be just as easy. Of course, I was wrong. I crashed after the first bridge, and the third bridge just before the finish nearly did me in. But I got the time I wanted in the end, and also celebrated with rivers of Coke, a calzone from La Rosa's, and then Chipotle Sunday evening. So all is right with the world!

Keith had a fabulous half-marathon, and Karen pushed past the pain of her heel injury to finish her second marathon in the past year.

So, well done to the Lubbers family! May 4, 2008 will be here before we know it.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Wish me luck!

In less than 24 hours, I'll be a very happy person. But at 8 o'clock in the morning tomorrow, I'll be pretty miserable.

Keith and I are headed down to Cincinnati tonight for the Flying Pig Marathon. I'm running the 10k* event tomorrow morning, and on Sunday morning Keith's running the half-marathon and my mother-in-law Karen is running the whole enchilada.

I'm pretty nervous. I can count on one hand the number of times I ran December through February, and that was usually only to get the door when the pizza delivery guy showed up. So even though I ran a 10k on Thanksgiving, come March it was like starting from scratch.

I think I've done okay in my training. Last week I ran 6.5 miles, which is actually longer than the race, so I know that in theory I should be able to go the distance without tragically expiring or exploding into flames. But Cincinnati has hills. Lots of them. And bridges, which I like to refer to as "my nemesis." The bridges get me every time.

Did you know that large bridges typically go up in the middle, so you spend half your time on the bridge on an incline? I didn't know that ... until I started running over them. Then it became painfully apparent.

But other than the hills, and the bridges, and all those miles ... I should be just fine. Wish me luck! And on Sunday, 6:30am, send your good thoughts to Keith and Karen!

* Quick Running Distance Primer
10k = 6.2 miles
half-marathon = 13.1 miles
whole enchilada = marathon = 26.2 miles.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

My Theory on Searching for Lost Items

As I briefly mentioned in an earlier post, I have this theory about looking for lost items. I know you've all been waiting with bated breath, so I'm finally going to elaborate.

Pretty much, my searching theory is a very passive approach. I don't search. Because if something's gone missing, and I search and don't find it, that means it's really gone. But if it's something I can do without for a while, like a necklace ... or the Neosporin ... once I look in one or two places, I'll stop searching.

I'll keep it in the back of my mind and, if I think of another possible location, I'll search there. But I refuse to turn the house/car/office/commute route upside down just to prove that I've really lost something.

I find this technique surprisingly effective. I'd estimate that, 90% of the time, the lost item turns up eventually. And the other 10% of the time, I just forget about it entirely. Which means I didn't really need it anyway. So I think that adds up to a 100% success rate!

For example, a few weeks ago there was that issue with losing the Neosporin. I looked in the most likely spots, and when I didn't find it I gave up. A few days later, Keith pulled open his bedside drawer and viola! Neosporin.

Which also proves that I haven't turned into my parents quite yet.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Is It Really That Hard? 800 Numbers

Not in the same league as the insurance debacle ... but what's the deal with companies whose 800 numbers have more than 7 digits?

I was online today, trying to reserve a campsite at a state park. For help, they suggest you call their 1-800 number: 1-800-OHIO-PARKS. Okay, if you dialed all those letters, you'd end up with two digits too many.

Obviously, some letters must be combined, like the HI in "OHIO" are probably just one keystroke. But why are you making me think about this?

And the actual number, in digits, was nowhere to be found on the website. Anywhere contact information was given, it was always the stupid spelled-out version. So then I'm looking at the phone, trying to figure out all the possible combinations that would give me 7 digits. Ridiculous! That's time better spent at or Ken Jenning's blog.

Seriously people. I am perfectly capable of wasting my time on my own--I don't need any help from your cutesy 800 numbers with that.