Note From the Universe

Thoughtfulness pays big dividends. In more ways than one.


Double Sad

Sports injuries are the worst! Not only are you sad because you hurt yourself, you're sad because your body is having widthdrawl from all the endorphins you were once getting from exercising.

A.K.A. I'm injured, and I am really bummed out about it.

I hurt myself plenty as a kid/teen while playing softball, soccer and the like. But I haven't hurt like this for this long in years - probably since senior soccer season (that was the year they discovered my tendons weren't connected to my feet properly, but that's another story for another time). I was running 16 days ago and I decided to take a different path (mistake 1). I wanted to start looping back on my normal path, so I cut through a side street (mistake 2). It was a big hill, but since it was the day in my workout when I was supposed to be running hill intervals, I thought - no big deal! (mistake 3). I booked it up the hill and around the corner and after a couple more blocks, my knee hurt. And worse.

I ran through it (mistake 4) and got home, iced it and went to bed. The next day, it was still bothering me so I stayed off it and iced it again. Day 3 was better, so I ran on Day 4, and I only made it .75 miles. I had to walk-run for the rest of my 3-mile loop and call it quits.

Fast forward 12 (!) running-free days, and I thought I would be nice and well-rested. I went for an easy run and made it 1.71 miles before I had to walk. I did a couple short intervals after that and had to walk the last .7 home. Today, I'm back to not being able to go down steps.

I serioiusly almost cried last night becuase I am so frustrated - my race is in five weeks and there is just no way I can do it. I know I've done it before, but I won't be able to do it this time, I don't know how it's even possible. And that makes me feel like a quitter. A quitter becuase of something I can't control.


Note From the Universe

Rarely does one find the quick fix, the big win, or a home run looking forward on the horizon of time. Yet when they do their best, one day at a time, while thinking of their dreams and not the "hows," looking back they find that the quick fixes, big wins, and home runs found them.


Note From the Universe

A heartfelt compliment given for no other reason than because it's meant, is never, ever forgotten.


Note From the Universe

Go ahead want it all. Just learn to be happy before it arrives, or you may not notice when it does.



I've known the term DINK (dual income, no kids) for quite some time, but I guess I never really thought of it as something to describe James and I. Maybe because we're young or maybe because there's a posibility of us having kid (yes, singular). But the truth of the matter is, we're in our late 20s, we both (some of us more than others [; ) have paying jobs, and we've been married for (23 days shy of) 5 years. We are DINKs.

So I recently joined a site called DINKlife, and while I'm not fully active and engaged, I am at least reading the reports of active discussions coming into my email. One of today's top forums is "What do you say when someone asks you when you're going to have kids?" My dad has a good response to this when people ask when they're going to be grandparents - he tells them that only old people are grandparents - but I don't have a good retort. I typically say "We'll talk about it when I'm 30." But I may adopt some of these...

"We tried to raise some plants, but they died, so we didn't think it was a good idea to move on to something more difficult."

"Who knows, but we are having fun practicing!"

"Oh? Is there a shortage of children somewhere?"

"We don't have the budget for it. We've maxed it out on airline tickets."

"Why do you want to know?"



I realized I have a habit of starting a blog post and not finishing. Watch for updates on my first half marathon (March) and the State of James Address (May).

HM 2.0 - Day 3

While I didn't exactly sip water at Night Owls (happy hour for you non-Chi Omegas), I did enjoy just enough cab sav to still be up for my three-mile trek to make up for Tuesday's mishap. AND I knocked it out in 26 minutes, which isn't too shabby considering my lack of running lately and the intense humidity. Enough with it, Mother Nature!

I didn't do intervals after my run (tsk) because it was too dark for the track in the park. I cannot believe I didn't think of using the treadmill until Ryan said that's what he did. Duh. (I blame the still-present jet lag.) At any rate, we'll continue these intervals (speed training, as Hal calls it - it helps you increase your pace in long races by building endurance, I believe) throughout the next eight weeks, and Hal wants you to run at your 5K pace. I know that I can easily do a 5K in about 25 minutes, and I'd like to use this training to get that down to about 24, so I'm targeting an 8-minute mile. I found some music that helps keep that pace, and while I'm starting off with just Eminem, Gaga, MIA and Black Eyed Peas, jog.fm has a whole playlist to help you keep pace. It's amazing how much music can help you - iPods and iPhones once again make me wonder how people did anything without technology! I'll let you know how it goes today, and I mapped out how far 400 meters is from my front door so I can't make excuses in the event that I can't get to the park AND both treadmills in my gym are broken.

Until next time!



HM 2.0 - Day 2

Day 2 and I already fell off the wagon! I picked wine over running (could you blame me? The James-and-Leslie-favoriteOyster Bay Sauv Blanc was 1/2 price for a bottle at Mellow Mushroom!), so it looks like I'll be sipping water during Night Owls and doubling up tomorrow's workout...


HM 2.0 - Day 1

I know, I know, I said I wouldn't do it again... but, as Britney says, oops! I did it again: I signed up for another half marathon!

This time, I'm doing it, hopefully, right and following a real training program via Hal Higdons. I have a handy dandy spreadsheet of workouts, signed up for three training races (Atlanta's Finest 5K, Celebrate Freedom 10K and Iron Horse 15K) and enlisted a training buddy, Ryan.

Today is Day 1, and it's weird to me that Hal has you start with stretching and strength. I don't know much about strength, so I just started with my normal 23-minute Jillian Michaels 30-day Shred Level 2 routine. I'm going to have to step it up and find something else to do for the rest of the eight-week program, though.

What do you do for strength training?


Note From the Universe

Life's magic is a lot like a swift flowing river. No matter how long you've overlooked it or unwittingly swam against it, the instant you stop struggling you're back in the flow, hat down low, coolest cat on the block.


Best Dinner (Almost) Ever

I just made the best dinner that I have made in a l-o-n-g time, and it was definitely one of the top five meals I've ever made. It was made even better by the fact that I made up the best part of the meal myself!

It started out with the fact that I needed to use up a half a head of cabbage before it turned. I'd seen a recipe on Pinterest that seemed simple enough, and we love roasted kale, so I decided to give it a shot. It was so simple - chop the cabbage, brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and caraway. I have a convection oven, so I only roasted it for 20 minutes - a regular oven should take 40 - and it came out soft, slightly browned and delicious!

Call us crazy about our leafy greens, but next on the menu came spinach salads with a variety of veggies. Our favorite salad topping of late, however, has been pickeled beets. But new to us are homemade salad dressings, which have saved the pocket book and our waistlines. My current favorite is Ceasar from Jamie Oliver. I'm still working on the Ranch.

The star of the show came when I was stumped about what to make for a protein. We've been eating a lot of fish and chicken, and many days I find myself unenthused about another seasoned grilled chicken breast. With a salmon filet staring me in the face, I knew I had to get creative. We experimented last week with egg rolls (hence the leftover cabbage), so I knew I had extra wonton wrappers and wondered if I could find something to do with the two. Failed Pinterest and Google searches turned up little more than a lox bagel wrapped in wontons, so I was left to fend for myself.

First, I seasoned my salmon generously with Old Bay (love that stuff) and threw it on the George Foreman grill. I've been partial to oven-baking lately, but he was out, so why not? While the fish cooked (almost all the way - take it off when it's still slightly rare in the middle so it doesn't dry out when baked), I mixed a quarter cup of chopped sweet onion, a quarter cup of chopped celery, a tablespoon of capers, a tablespoon of lemon juice and two ounces of goat cheese. When the fish was done, I flaked it into the cold mixture. It was warm enough to melt the cheese, which coated the fish like a light sauce. My two servings of salmon with the fillings split evenly among eight wonton wrappers, which I folded, as recommended by several egg roll recipes, like an envelope. The best way I've found is to position the wrapper like a diamond, then add the filling horizontally, from corner to corner. Fold the top corner down, then each side in, then roll and place on foil or a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray. Spritz the top of each with nonstick spray (or olive oil, if you have one of those handy spritzers), and bake at 400 for 4 minutes(5-7 if you have a traditional oven). Flip, spray and repeat.

The result was delicious - flaky, moist salmon, a light cheese flavor and a nice tang from the capers. The wontons crisped perfectly, contrasting with the warm, tender filling. Surprisingly, it did not even require a dip, as you would often want from an egg-roll-type dish. And the eight rolls nicely fed both of us. It was so easy and so delicious, I know this dish will be making a repeat appearance at our house!


Note From the Universe

No matter how things seem, hope is near and love is present.


Getting Back on the Wagon

Following my half-marathon adventure, I have NOT been motivated to get myself to the gym. It's a valuable lesson I've learned twice in the past year - if there is a hard-and-fast threat in my future, I'll be there, no problem. Without said motivation... not so much. I saw SUCH good results physically and emotionally the two times I stuck with it, I shouldn't have a problem getting myself in gear. But I do anyway!

Although, my snazzy new post-half shoes (Mizuno Wave Inspire 8 in White/Anthracite/Prism Violet) help a lot - they're wonderful!

How do you stay motivated?


Words for Thought

Just because this wasn't in your life plan, doesn't mean this isn't exactly where you're supposed to be right now.

Via Whitney.


Note From the Universe

Always, kindness prevails. No matter how things appear, nor how humbling a task, nor how unkind they've been.


Money-saving Diet Tips

1: Why buy overpriced microwave popcorn when you can throw some kernels in a paper bag and zap it. Cost: pennies.

2: Peel & freeze a bunch of bananas. When you’re craving soft serve, whirl one up in the blender and top with a spoonful of chocolate chips. Cost: 25¢.

3: Spare yourself the expense (and fat) of certain fast-food breakfasts by scrambling an egg in a mug, nuking it, and slipping it into a pita. Cost: 50¢, maybe.

4: Make insta-soup from wilted veggies and a Parmesan rind. Throw in the carcass of a picked-over roasted chicken and Grandma will applaud. Cost: a buck.

5: Why buy pricey pre-frozen fruit? Just wash, bag, and freeze your own for smoothies, yogurts, muffins, and breads. Cost: priceless!

via Daily Worth


Note From the Universe

It's not as if one could be bored enough, feel frustrated enough, or complain enough that their life would suddenly turn around. Doesn't work that way.

Whatever anyone "is," they become more of. And anyone's is'ness is whatever they say it is.



Half Marathon, Day 35

30 minutes
That's all I've got - used the treadmill today!


No Running for You!

Just getting home from a 15.5-hour day at the office. I wish endurance working counted as endurance training, but alas, it does not. And I do not have the energy for 6 miles today...

Contraction Humor


Half Marathon, Day 33

So, I shouldn't have taken Sunday off since I rested so many days last week, but I did so much on Saturday and my back still is not anywhere near 100 percent, so....

Back at it today, and once again, the first two miles were the hardest. Once I get to about 3, I know I can make my self-set minimum of 6.5/60 minutes, but once I get going, I don't want to stop! Endorphins are great, eh? But, with only two weeks to go, I feel like these longer runs are needed!

10 miles
9'14" pace


Half Marathon, Day 31

I had to take another two days off due to my neck/back. More on that later - you won't believe what my X-rays looked like!

Today, I took to the streets with my friend Brittany to see what the race course looks like. She was SUCH a trooper - she runs 3-4 miles a day, but has never run more than 4.5 miles at a time. She ran a whole 6.6 miles before she wanted to stop to walk! While we didn't keep my normal pace and walked about 4 miles, it was nice to have some company, espeically because the first part of the course goes through some kind-of sketchy neighborhoods. Safety in numbers!

Overall, the course wasn't as hilly as I expected. There's a killer hill around mile 5-ish, but just enough to give you a good burn and keep going. I feel a lot better having done it, and may go out again this Saturday.

11.6 miles
11'26" pace (not bad considering we walked more than 2 miles)

+ (I accidentally turned off my GPS when we stopped for water. But, thanks, Starbucks App for allowing us to purchase a beverage!)

1.79 miles
15'05" pace


Note From the Universe

When you finally get that call, meet that person, walk that walk, and live that dream, do you think you'll even care that there were a few dark and scary moments in a journey that made them all possible?

Trust me, you won't even remember. And won't you be glad you never settled for less?


Half Marathon, Day 28

A slow day, due to neck pain. Went to the chiropractor though - hopefully this helps!

1.94 miles
9'51" pace

+ a 3 mile brisk walk


Half Marathon, Day 26

8.5 miles
9' pace

Fastest 1k, fastest mile, fastest 10k! Woot!

Also, today I hit 100 miles on the streets of the ATL, not to mention the 1 day I used the treadmill and one on the elliptical. They count for something, right?


Half Marathon, Day 25

I'm embarrassed to admit that I injured my neck... while using my garlic press. It happened yesterday morning while I was making James' chili for the Chi O Stew & Brew cook-off, and I feel like such an idiot! I mean, it was a lot of garlic, and I guess the repetitive motion got to me at 8 a.m., but still! I ran ok yesterday, and I actually thought the running loosened it up a bit, but I was w-r-o-n-g wrong. I woke up this morning in such a massive amount of pain that I had to use my hands to help support my head when getting out of bed. After three hours of not moving and taking the heating pad on and off, I finally felt like moving again. But, by the time evening came, I knew I didn't have it in me to run, so I did 60 minutes on the elliptical. I figure low impact elliptical is better for the neck and better than not exercising at all, right? So no mileage or pace, just time:

60 minutes

Half Way! Plus, Mapping the Race

The race website has a PDF of the race map, but it's so abstract, I wanted to know where all I will be running. Many of the streets are close to home, and I'd like to start trying out some of the course, so I mapped it out on Google. It's not quite perfect - over by .2 miles, but it should help as I am planning my ever-growing runs!

View Larger Map

Also, I didn't notice that Friday marked an important day in my training. It was the half-way point - 22 days in, 22 days to go! If training is anything like actually running, the worst of it is over -- do you always feel like the first half of your run or race is the hardest? The good new is that I feel like I've made a lot of progress, but I also know that I have so much more to do. I have only run 65 percent of the total race distance (8.5 miles) at one time thus far, so I know where my biggest opportunity is. I think I'm going to try to do start doing longer runs every other day to build up. I did three longer runs last week, 65, 80 and 80 minutes, and if I can do that again this week but maybe 80 , 80 and 100 (trying to hit 10 miles!), I will be happy with my progress. Just have to keep mentally ahead, that's the hardest part! :)


Half Marathon, Day 24

80 minutes
8.55 miles
9'22" pace

Note From the Universe

It may seem a bit backwards for some, but the first step one might take towards rearranging the present circumstances of their life is to stop dwelling upon the present circumstances of their life.





Half Marathon, Day 20

65 minutes
7.01 miles
9'24" pace

I obviously didn't run the last three days, and I have no reason other than pure exhaustion. My body really started fighting me last week -- shin splints, blisters, a sore foot -- and I rested all weekend. Unfortunately, I just do not have the luxury to keep doing that! Instead, I really need to step up my runs this week or I'm never going to make it all 13.1 miles. I am getting comfortable at my pace, so I think I need to start adding time - even if it's only five more minutes a day. Wish me luck!



Half Marathon, Day 15

45 minutes
4.61 miles
9'45" pace

Another first today! I ate a bug.


Half Marathon, Day 14

50 minutes
5.61 miles
8'54" pace

I am starting to feel like a real runner, complete with shin splints and ridiculous blisters UNDER the calluses on my big toes (thank you, deformed tendons!). Today, I thought I was going to get two miles from my house and have to call my husband to pick me up because my right shin hurt so bad. It's been aching for a while, even when I am sitting at my desk at work, but it hasn't impacted me like that at the beginning of a run before. I pushed through and made it home after 35 minutes and then decided to at least make it to 45. I actually did 50, and was on pace to set more PRs, but I want to make sure I can run again tomorrow so I called it quits. Now I am contemplating wearing flats to work for a few days to let my leg chill out. I didn't know this race would impact my fashion choices, too!! :)


Half Marathon, Day 13

60 minutes
6.61 miles
9'06" pace
Home > Peachtree Circle > Home > Alliance Theatre > Home

What a run! My best 1 mile, 5k and 10k times - 8:13, 27:58 and 56:22 - AND my longest run at 6.61 miles. Love it!


Half Marathon, Day 12

60 minutes
6.14 miles
?? pace (darn treadmill!)
The treadmill on the left...

After a f-f-freezing Saturday, I was hurting yesterday and didn't run. I knew I couldn't take two days off, so I sucked it up and ran inside today.

It was terrible. I hope it gets warmer soon!

A whole lot of whole wheat

With James' recent high cholesterol diagnosis, we're making some big dietary changes. Not just eating healthy, but making the absolute best choices about everything we buy, make and order. Thankfully, Kroger is helping us out - they now have whole wheat tortillas AND whole grain bread in their store brand. Good for the pocketbook as well!!


Technology-enabled Training

I'm not sure how people used to determine how far they'd run when training for a race. Drive your car around the block? Count your steps and multiply by your stride length? It sounds like a tedious, imprecise science, and I'm glad to have technology on my side. But even that has proved challenging.

When I moved to Atlanta, I at first depended on Google's walking directions to map out a path and figure the distance. They're quite reliable and the site is obviously easy to use. My only complaint is that it can get messy if I decide to deviate from what I researched because 1) the path is obstructed 2) something/someone seems sketch 3) I had the walk symbol in another direction or 4) I was feeling spontaneous.

Lucky me, when I, for the first time ever, went to get fitted for running shoes (I went to Phidippides in Ansley Mall, and they were fabulous. I highly recommend a visit!), I ended up with the Nike Air Max Moto, which featureds a built-in nook for Nike + iPod. It wasn't compatible with my iPod Video, but six months later, I scored an iPod Nano and was off to the races ... sort of. The product itself is great - it's like a souped-up pedometer that tracks your steps, time and distance, it compiles your running over time and can be synced with Nike.com. I have three complaints. First, the physical design is lacking. You have to plug a sensor into the iPod to talk to the sensor in your shoe. The sensor is so small, it's hard to keep track of/remember to take to the gym with you. Plus, tracker in your shoe has a battery that cannot be replaced, so when it dies, you have to go drop another $40 on a new set (reviews said it lasts about one year, but I have had mine for three with very limited use). Second, no iPod armband (at least that I could find) is designed to work with the sensor, so I actually had to turn my armband upside down so my Nano wouldn't fall out since the case no longer closed. Third, the calibration never seemed to get my pace down so I never trusted the accuracy of its end-of-run report.

Thankfully, I have found a solution to my problems! I joined the iPhone world last month when I started my new job, and the App Store has changed my life. Nike + GPS takes the Nike + iPod software to a whole new level, and it uses GPS rather than your steps to track your run. The result is more accurate, comprehensive tracking of your runs over time. I'm in love, and it was totally worth the $1.99. One of my favorite features is the map that shows your pace along your route - it is helping me as I learn to keep a consistent pace throughout my now six-mile daily runs. There are features to compete with friends, sync with social media and other items I haven't used - but it is sufficient to say that it's an extremely robust and well-thought app. I'm sure my feelings will change when something new and exciting comes out, but for now, I'm content!

How are you using technology to enhance your workouts?

Image via Apple


Half Marathon, Day 10

60 minutes
6.23 miles
9'38" pace
Home > 10th > Monroe > Piedmont > 10th > Peachtree > Baker > Home


Half Marathon, Day 8

60 minutes
6.03 miles
10' pace
Lake Hearn > Concourse > Northside > Glenridge > Lake Hearn

From that day on, if I was going somewhere, I was running!

Last week, I was feeling a little frustrated because my workout regimen was not providing any (and I mean ANY) results after 10 days of cardio and Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred. The Shred is what pushed me from being fit but plateauing to the best-I've-ever-been shape and confidence last July. But, as has been the story of my life for the last three years, school promptly kicked into full gear and the gym fell down the list of priorities (work, school, husband took precedence, in that order I am sad to say). So within six months, I was back to mushy-gushy and within a few pounds of my heaviest ever. I guess that's why they call it a yo-yo, right?

At any rate, I was feeling vulnerable so when I came across a story on my company intranet about a team that would be running the Publix Half Marathon and Marathon on March 18, I spontaneously signed up. In retrospect, forking over $100 didn't seem nearly as painful as that afternoon's return to sanity and the realization that I had now paid an absurd amount of money to be forced to run 13.1 miles.

With only six weeks to train, I'm on a rather accelerated training schedule - 45 minutes a day for one week, then up to 60 a day for the next five weeks, plus increasingly long runs each Saturday (60 minutes, 10k, 10 mile, etc.). I've recruited a friend to join me, so we can sympathize/support each other through the process, and that's helping quite a bit. I also, upon calming my now yo-yoing emotions (as if the weight wasn't bad enough!), realized that this adventure could be just that - an adventure, a challenge and a test of my will.

I've always thought about running a half, but when I run a 10k, I always think, "I'm crazy, I don't like this, why am I doing it?" and I have no reason to continue, so I don't. BUT I decided this is my year. 2012 is my chance to do the things I want to do, spend my time as I want to and accomplish more than I have been able to imagine while I've been in grad school. This is a new year full of so many new beginnings, challenges and unknowns, and I feel like a half marathon will fit nicely into my year. PLUS, it's three days after my 27th birthday, and I feel there is no better way to ring in my late 20s! :)

I’ll be documenting my training adventures, lessons learned and overall progress here. I figure it’s also a great opportunity to get out my blogging fingers and dust off the ole’ Les Writes More page. Your support and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated!

Note From the Universe

There is perhaps no more empowering belief than understanding you're always in control of how you feel.

Similarly, understanding that just because you're not always skipping through tulips with joy doesn't mean that something's wrong with you.


Half Marathon, Day 7

45 minutes
4.63 miles
9'44" pace
Lake Hearn > Concourse > Glenridge


Half Marathon, Day 6

45 minutes
4.57 miles
9'53'' pace
Lake Hearn > Glenridge > Concourse


Half Marathon, Day 4

30 minutes
3.29 miles
9'11'' pace
Juniper > Piedmont > Myrtle


Half Marathon: Day 3

45 minutes
3.99 miles
11'16'' pace
Chattahoochee River, Roswell
With Melissa


Half Marathon: Day 1

45 minutes
4.36 miles
10'31'' pace
Lake Hearn > Johnson Ferry


Note from the Universe

Did you know that it's perfectly OK, even highly ideal, to claim all is well amongst doubt and confusion? To be happy in spite of challenges? To laugh at problems? Dance without a partner? Sing without a rhyme? Talk to inanimate objects? Oddly, most don't.