Food For Thought XI

I got a couple of new plant-based cookbooks for Christmas last month:  Thug Kitchen and Chloe’s Kitchen.  If you’re not familiar with Thug Kitchen, go check them out.  NOW.  Even if you’re not plant-based.  Yeah, their food is good, but you don’t even have to cook anything to appreciate them.  They’re HILARIOUS.  In case you missed their book release trailer, here it is.  Do yourself a favor and watch it immediately.  Unless you’re at work.  In which case I’d advise waiting.  Or putting on your headphones.

Okay, now to the food.

Potato Leek Soup – This is the only one I’ve made from Thug Kitchen yet.  It was super easy and really good.  I would definitely make it again.  This is the first version of a potato soup I’ve had as a vegan, so although it wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for, it was still good.  I just read “potato soup” and had a flashback to the thick, chunky, dairy-laden potato soups that I used to know and love.  If anyone has a tried-and-true nondairy version of that, hit me up!

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Best Ever Baked Macaroni and Cheese – This one (and the rest of them in this post) is from Chloe’s Kitchen.  Guys, the name freaking says it all.  I’ve tried several macaroni and cheese recipes and they’ve all been disappointing.  THIS!!!  THIS is what I’ve been looking for!!!

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California Chipotle Chop Salad – I admit I’ve always thought it was kind of stupid for salad recipes to be in cookbooks.

“Ingredients:  Whatever the hell you want.  Instructions:  Toss that shit in a bowl.  TAH-DAH!!!!!  Salad.”

And this one really was no different from that except for the dressing.  I left the oil out and just used the agave and lime juice and OMG it was delicious.  I’ve never dreamed that combining those two things would create such an amazing flavor.

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Peanutty Perfection Noodles – (Full recipe here!)  This stuff was crazy good.  I must have either not made enough noodles or made a touch too much sauce because mine ended up creamier than I think it was supposed to, but I didn’t care.  The author says this is her favorite recipe in the book, and I can see why.

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Jalapeno Cornbread Poppers – Fail.  Nothing about these worked the way it was supposed to.  I couldn’t get them to roll into balls no matter how dry or wet I made them.  I knew they wouldn’t hold together to fry, so I dropped spoonfuls of the batter on a sheet and baked them thinking I could salvage them.  I ate one and was disappointed.  And then I ate another one hoping that it would miraculously be better than the first.  It wasn’t.  I threw the rest out.  I’ll probably try them again sometime to see if I have better luck with them.

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Updates on Running and Other Related Stuffs

  • I’m really working on getting my mileage back up.  Last week I ran 13 miles Monday, 6 on Wednesday, 8 Saturday, and 6 Sunday for a total of 33 miles.  Which is my highest weekly mileage in… well shit I don’t even know how long!  It’s been a LONG time.  As of right now I’m 18.7 miles away from hitting 100 miles for January.  First time hitting that number since December 2012!
  • I know from past experience that when my mileage gets this high I had better start doing some cross-training or my ass will be injured and sidelined.  So in the last week I’ve dusted off the ol’ spin bike and started doing the Jillian Michaels Shred workouts.  It still amazes me how little you use your glutes while running.  GAAAHHHAH my ass is sore!

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  • I have ulterior motives for adding in the extra workouts too.  I gotta shed some fat, y’all.  I was really working on getting my body fat percentage down early last summer and then things got crazy when D’s mom went from battling cancer to being terminal.  I put on several pounds by the time she passed away.  I’ve taken them back off for the most part, but now I need to pick up where I left off last summer.  It was mostly out of sheer vanity until Tiina stole this from Runners World and posted it on her blog a few days ago.

Running-weight

I WANT THOSE TWO MINUTES!!!!

  • To aid with this, I’ve started food journaling again.  I’m using MyFitnessPal.  I fucking hate food journaling, but it’s effective.
  • I’ve been curious for a while now, and I’ve finally taken the plunge.  I ordered some Hokas.  I’ve strayed from my Brooks Ghosts a few times and have always come crawling back, but I haven’t talked to a single person who didn’t like them, so I’m giving them a chance.
  • I am starting to form a real game plan toward completing a half marathon in every state.  It’s stressing me out.  I’m not a patient person, so the fact that I haven’t registered for 43 half-marathons over the next 6 months is a total win.  I’ve got a few picked out between now and June and have been researching potential contenders for several states, but it’s killing me that I can’t do them all RIGHTFUCKINGNOW!
  • I’ve always thought that people that run full marathons “for fun” were a little bit unhinged, but I think I’m becoming those people.  There’s a girl here in town that’s running a local marathon in March and I’ve kind of committed to running her remaining long runs with her.  She asked me recently if I was gonna run the marathon.  I guess it’d kinda be silly NOT to, right?  It’s super tiny and won’t sell out or anything, so I won’t register in advance, but there’s a very good possibility that I’ll be running a marathon “for fun” in less than two months.

Workdays Like Today Are My Reward for the Shitty Ones

I had to go back to Nashville today, but this time the main reason was for a training class for work.  We don’t have to do that often, but I always kind of enjoy it.  Not so much the class as just the opportunity to do something DIFFERENT!  To get out of the office!  And an excuse to dress in something a little cuter than uniform khakis and a company tee.

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The class only lasted slightly over two hours, but when you factor in the drive there and the drive home, that made it a 6-1/2 hour workday.  After the class was over at lunch, I checked in with my office to see if they needed me for anything.  They assured me everything was fine, so I took the rest of the day as personal leave and hung around Nashville a while!  Woohoo!

First thing I did was head to The Wild Cow, another vegan restaurant I’d heard amazing things about.  I ordered a chickpea salad wrap with a side of garlicky kale.  OMG, that kale.  I’ve never had it that way before.  Must. Copycat. Recipe.

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With a full belly and time to kill, I headed to one of my most favorite shopping spots and hit up a store that I’m often too cheap to shop in–LULULEMON!   But thanks to my travel pay for today, I was feeling a little less frugal.  haha  I’ve had to toss out a couple of running bras lately.  My favorite running bra that I’ve ever owned is a lulu, so I wanted to get another one like it, and try to find another pair of versatile, comfortable, black running shorts.  My favorite go-to Under Armour shorts have seen better days, so I wanted to scout out their successor.  I found a pair that I really like–the Run Times.  They are super comfortable and flattering… in the dressing room anyway.  Let’s hope for the same when I take them for a run.

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From there I went around the corner to Trader Joe’s!  I LOVE that damn place but so very rarely get to go!  I got a few grocery things hat I needed anyway plus several Trader Joe exclusives.  The jalapeno cilantro hummus alone is worth the trip.

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And I couldn’t leave without hitting up the beer aisle for a “build your own” six-pack!

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I’ve never tried any of those before, so I’m excited.  Especially so about that chocolate one.  Color me intrigued.

Pretty good practice for all those vacation days I’m gonna take this year, huh?!  🙂

My Weekend Mini Vacation

Okay it wasn’t an actual vacation, but it was definitely a much-needed break!  I was off work for MLK day today, so I had a three-day weekend!  Woohoo!!  I started it off right with a nap when I got off work Friday afternoon.  We’ll say it was for the sake of health, trying to rest up and finish kicking that cold… but really it was just because I stayed up too late Thursday night.  haha  (In my defense, I wasn’t up late doing anything fun–our damn heat had gone out!)

Saturday my sister and I went to Nashville for a belated birthday celebration day.  Although it occurs to me now that she called most of the shots Saturday and it was supposed to be for MY birthday…. hmmmmm… I think I got swindled!  On our way into Nashville, we stopped at McKay’s because Kim is a book/DVD/CD whore.  While she built up an armload of stuff, I’m not much of a reader, so I perused the DVDs and found these.  Total impulse buy, but maybe they’ll get used.  Eventually.  A little bit.  Maybe.

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Then we headed over to Blackstone Brewery for some lunch and brews.  (HUGE thumbs up to Blackstone’s pumpkin ale and St. Charles porter, a regular size thumbs up to the nut brown ale, and thumbs down to Stephanie’s Dubbel, and their APA.)  They had their pumpkin ale on sale half off for $16 per case as it’s going out of season, and just as my luck would have it, they sold their last two cases shortly before we got there.  DOH!  Then there was lots of shopping.  Mostly window shopping for me–all I bought was a new pair of black boots, a MAC mascara, and some body spray from The Body Shop.

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Then after all the shopping had closed down we met up with a friend of Kim’s that lives in Nashville for appetizers and desserts, so that put us about 1:30am getting home.  That was a rough two-hour drive home for this early bird!  There was lots of driver’s seat singing and dancing and one stop about half an hour from home to get out and wake up!

The “vacation” continued yesterday as I slept in until nearly 9(!!!  except for one feline “FEED ME” wake-up call at the usual 0500).  I didn’t get in any hurry about getting dressed or doing anything, but I finally made it out the door around lunch for an eaaaassssssyyyyy 5 miles to gauge how I was feeling to see if I stood a shot in hell at hitting the 15 miles I had planned for today.  I do try to run through stuff above the neck, but I’d only run 5.5 miles during the week to that point because I was getting dizzy on the treadmill.  Just fluid behind the ears I’m sure.  Well, I must have blown all that fluid out during those 5 miles Sunday.  Good Lord, I was disgusting.  haha  But I felt great at the end, so I let my planned running partner know I was a go for our run date Monday morning.  After my run, I grabbed the pups and drove them to a town about 30 minutes from here that has a dog park.  It was a simply GORGEOUS day, and I couldn’t let it go to waste for them.

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So many butts to sniff!
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Harley checking in with me
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Back at home, resting from their dog park shenanigans, and milking the sun for all it’s worth on this very spring-like January day!

Right after the dogs and I got home, D had to leave us to go to Nashville for a couple of days for a paint certification class.  All painters are required to have the certification, but effective this year all body shop owners must also attend the class too.  The weekend already felt like a vacation but with D gone now too???  WHOOOOBOY, Katie bar the doors!  Shit got wild up in here!  Snoring dogs, fleece lounge pants, Maleficent on DVD (LOVED IT!), vegan mac n cheese and smokey sriracha kale for dinner… LIVIN’ LARGE, I tell ya.

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What’s a vacation post without a sunset pic? Beautiful end to a beautiful day.

Today wasn’t quite as vacationy.  I met another local runner with plans of getting in a long run with her.  I was going for 15, and she was going for 16.  It was a pretty hard run.  I feel comfortable saying that because she’s a much stronger runner than me (unless something goes terribly wrong, she’ll be going sub-4 at her marathon debut in March) and she even cut it a mile short.  We ended up with 13 and 15 miles.  It was another beautiful day, but that gorgeous sun drained us.  We were both dressed for the 37-degree start rather than the 62-degree finish.  Oopsies!  But we came away from it with another long run under our belts.  And I had the lovely added bonus of a sunburned face (I guess I sweated off all my 50 SPF!) and a jacked-up pinkie toe.

You're welcome.
You’re welcome.

I had just enough time after we got done to run home, make a smoothie, hose off, and get back to town for my 1:00 hair appointment, so I did manage to get a little pampering in on the last day of my “vacation”.  And then I bestowed a little pampering on the dogs.  haha  They got kind of dirty at the park yesterday, but there was no time for anything more than a wipe-down with a wash cloth after we got home, so they both got their full-on baths today.  I was again grateful for the warm sun so that they could go dry off outside!  And so I could leave the doors open to let fresh air in.  It’s amazing how a clean wet dog still makes the house smell like… well… wet dog.  haha

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Squeaky clean, dry, and smelling like roses.

So now my little three-day break is almost over.  I’ve done some grown-up, responsible adult things today like laundry, sweeping, vacuuming, dusting, blah, blah, blah, and now I’m sitting here enjoying a glass of wine, just winding down and relaxing.  Maybe this weekend is over, but I’ve come to a realization recently.  I NEED to do this more often.  I have so much vacation time banked at work.  Like 14 weeks worth.  Now that I’ve got my new clerk, I’m really going to be getting my money’s worth from her.  I’ve got a lot going on between now and the end of February, but come March I’m gonna be burning the hell out of some vacation days.  But between now and then–President’s Day in four weeks!!!  Woohoo!

Five Things Friday

1.   Back during the summer, I bought a few winter things on clearance from Road Runner Sports.  One of them was this shirt.  Of course it didn’t get cold enough to wear it until November, and then it sat in a heap on the laundry room floor with all my other running gear waiting to be washed until sometime in December.  And it came out of the wash like this!  It disintegrated!  I know it was just a fluke as I’ve ordered tons of stuff from RRS, but WOW.

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Back
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Front

2.   On a similar note, I ordered some really cool bookends from Amazon to use in my kitchen with all my cookbooks.  They arrived broken.  Heavy-ass wrought iron and UPS broke it.

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3.   I’ve had a nasty head cold this week.  I had fever with it the first couple of days, so that kind of cut into my running a bit.  I’m all for running through anything above the neck but not when fever is involved.  Thankfully it seems to be subsiding pretty quickly.  Usually when I get a winter cold it hangs around for freaking ever.  I attribute its early exit to my recent discovery and use of essential oils.

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4.   Work is reallllllllly looking up right now.  I’m finally getting a replacement for the employee that was reassigned back in November, so my life is about to get a LOT simpler.  You know.  Once I get her trained the way I want her.

5.   On the running front, I’m on par for 100 miles this month for the first time since December 2012!  I was on the road to it in November and then work happened and derailed me a bit.  Starting The Goofy Runner has given me the motivation I need to keep moving!!!

Imagine Vegan Cafe

I’m way behind on posting this, but while I was in Memphis for the St. Jude Marathon weekend, I was finally able to check out this awesome little restaurant that I’ve heard so much about.  It’s located in a cute little renovated home in the Cooper-Young neighborhood.  I loved the quaint, personal feel to the place.

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This was only the second time I’ve been to an all-vegan restaurant.  I’m so used to having to carefully read the menu and ask for modifications… it was so refreshing to have a whole menu full of stuff to order!

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This was printed on the front of the menu.  Sums it up!  An herbie’s dream come true!

After scouring the menu for a long time because EVERYTHING sounded amazing, I decided on the buffalo chicken sandwich.  Because if buffalo anything is an option, I’m almost always gonna take it.  It was reeeeeally, really tasty!  As was the slaw and ranch(? bleu cheese?) dip for the sammich.

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But my favorite part of the meal came as an impulse buy at the counter as I was paying when I left.  VEGAN. CHESS. BAR.

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Dear sweet baby Jesus, that thing was delicious.  And HUGE!  It took me all day to eat that thing, but by golly I did it.  haha I nibbled on it the entire drive home and polished it off after dinner that night.  Hey, don’t judge.  I’d run 13 miles.  I’d earned it.  I’m a little too far away for this to be a place I’d make a special trip back to, but it’s nice to know it’s there when I find myself back in that area!

Race Recap: Mississippi Blues Half Marathon

Half Marathon #14
State #7
Time 2:13:19
Pace 10:11

Even before I decided to give this whole “50 half marathons in 50 states” thing a whirl, I had registered for what would be my 7th state–Mississippi Blues. It was within driving distance; it was on my birthday; and I had just heard great things about it, so why the hell not?!  The hubs doesn’t usually come with me to races, but since this was my birthday weekend, I didn’t give him an out this time.  He and I both worked until lunch Friday and then headed out on the 5-hr drive to Jackson, MS.  We drove straight to the convention center for packet pickup, and we were in and out of there in just a few minutes.  We arrived at about 6:30, so I wasn’t expecting to find the expo still set up because the web site said the expo ended at 6:00 but that packet pickup would be available until 9:00.  But there were still LOTS of people coming in, so I guess the vendors decided not to pack it up as long as people were coming in.  I made a quick round through the expo but didn’t buy anything even though it was pretty hard not to go wild at the Gypsy Runner booth.  So much cuteness!!!

We were staying at the Marriott, which was just a few blocks from the expo, and on the way there we saw where the start line was set up for the next morning.  It was super close to the hotel, so I was pretty stoked about that.  It was CRAZY cold, and I wasn’t looking forward to walking a long way to the start.  I knew it was supposed to be pretty close to the hotel, but I didn’t realize exactly how close it was.  I’m usually more frugal when booking hotels for races and stay a little ways out where it’s cheaper, but I splurged a bit on this one since it was my birthday and all.  🙂

So we got all checked in and the first thing we noticed when we walked in the room was how cold it was in there!  The heat was set to 73, but it couldn’t have been over 60 degrees in there.  We assumed that they hadn’t had the heat on in the room long and just cranked it up and called in a pizza for delivery because we just really didn’t feel like getting back out.  When the room still hadn’t warmed up by the time we were ready to go to bed, I called the desk and complained about the room being so cold.  Turns out they knew that was a problem for that room and a few others as we were directly over the parking garage.  They said they try not to put people in those rooms when it’s that cold, but they were sold out that night, and since we were some of the later people checking in, we were among the lucky ones.  They brought us a space heater and extra blankets and even knocked $50 off our bill for the night without me even asking!  Awesome customer service.  Anyway, that space heater made all the difference in the world.  I thawed out and was asleep by 9:30 with my alarm clock set for 5:30 to give me plenty of time to get awake and functioning before the 7:00 start.

We headed down to the lobby shortly after 6:30 but stood around chatting and prolonging heading out into the cold (starting temp was 23 and felt like 18).  About 6:45 we started the short walk to the start line.  As soon as I walked outside I noticed how quiet it was.  I kind of panicked at first thinking I had missed it or we were farther away than I thought, but I looked around at all the other runners around me and thought we surely didn’t all make the same mistake.  I guess I’m just spoiled to a lively race start.  I don’t think I’ve EVER been to a race that didn’t have a band or piped-in music or SOMETHING at the start.  There was absolutely nothing here.  A guy played the national anthem on the electric guitar, but that was it.  Just an emcee on the megaphone announcing how many minutes to start every so often.

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I seeded myself around the 4:20 full marathon pacer and moved to the edge of the corral so I could hang with D until the start.  When it was almost time, I handed my coat over to him and he headed back up to the room to go back to bed.  Yeah, races just aren’t his thing.  haha

There was absolutely NO energy to the start at all.  And that set the tone for the entire race.  Before I bash it too much, let me start by saying that it was very organized and the volunteers were great.  They were very friendly and helpful and just the fact that they were out there braving the cold for us was very much appreciated.  They were amazing and I thanked every one I saw.  But the race itself?  The race kind of sucked, y’all.  It was just…boring.  There was exactly one band playing on the 13.1-mile course.  The course was extremely challenging with constant hills, but that’s not why I wouldn’t do it again.  I don’t mind a challenging course.  I enjoy it actually.  But there just wasn’t anything to look at.  Several miles of it were right by the interstate, for Christ’s sake.  There was virtually no spectatorship.  I get that it was cold, but I’ve run cold races before where there were tons more spectators than this.  When we came up on the college campus I thought, “Yes!  This will liven it up a bit!”  Not a soul in sight.  I was so disappointed!  The other races I’ve done that have gone through a campus, that’s been the liveliest part!  At Murray State, I think every frat boy on campus was out there acting a fool.  I know all of this stuff is just personal preference.  I know there are a lot of people that take running more seriously than I do that think these things aren’t important (and think people like me who enjoy these things shouldn’t be taking up space on “their” course), but that’s just my subjective take on it.  I’ve run small races before too and was fine with it because I knew ahead of time that it was a small race with no frills and extras.  I guess in my mind I just had this event built up to be more than what it was.  It certainly seems to me like it was advertised that way.  Like I said… subjective.

Now the objective… This was a super challenging course!  Although I do prefer a hillier, rolling course over a pancake-flat one I was kind of over the hills by the later miles of this one.  I only have 11 miles worth of data from my Garmin because my dumb ass forgot to turn it on when we walked out of the hotel.  It was only when I took my coat off right before the start and saw my watch on my wrist that I remembered.  Of course it didn’t find a signal before the start.  When it finally found a satellite, I could see the Mile 2 marker ahead, so I just hit the start button when I reached that marker.  Since I didn’t have a watch for the first couple of miles I just tried to concentrate on not letting myself start out too fast.  I have a tendency to do that–especially when I’m cold!  I did a pretty good job of pacing myself I guess because I never really bonked.  I did get tired of the hills and started walking parts of them toward the end.  I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt not to expect a PR at this race, but I was kind of hoping for a second best.  As I watched my time during the race I knew that was possible but it was going to be close because I didn’t know my time from the first two miles.  At mile 12 I decided to give it what I had left.  Lucky for me there were no major hills during that last mile.  haha  When I crossed the finish line, my watch said 1:53 something, but I still didn’t know my time or if I’d hit my goal of second-best.  I was hoping for anything below 2:13:20, which was my time from the Shamrock Half back in 2012, but I’d have to wait to find out.

I found D right out of the finisher’s chute.  I really didn’t even realized I’d walked out of the finisher’s area until I was out of it.  When I crossed the line, I was handed my medal and a bottle of water and was offered a space blanket, and I kept walking to where I thought the food would be.  But there WAS none.  That was where I found D.  I asked him if I missed the food, and he said he hadn’t seen any.  I looked around to ask another runner where to get whatever they were eating, but… NO ONE had anything.  There was nothing!  I’ve run $15 5Ks that at least had fucking bananas and Oreos at the end.  Again, I guess those are just my personal expectations.  I didn’t read anything that promised finish line refreshments, so my disappointment was unfounded.  I just kind of assumed there would be something because I’ve never been to a half marathon where there wasn’t.  Another major strike against this race in my mind.  Had I known, I’d have brought something to MS with me to make a protein shake.  As it were, we walked back to the hotel and I ducked into the hotel restaurant and asked if I could just buy a banana.  They graciously just gave me three… I think probaby just to keep me from coming in and sitting down. haha

Aside from the awesome volunteers, I have to say the only thing I liked about this race was the medal.  Yes, I’m that shallow runner.  Bling size matters.

2015-01-10 17.51.04When the results were posted in the afternoon, I found out that I have a new second-best time by ONE WHOLE SECOND!  hahaha

2015-01-10 19.42.48Closing thoughts:  Did I enjoy myself?  Yeah, I did.  It was a great quick trip away with D, and we just don’t get that much anymore since we bought the business last year.  I gave a solid effort on a difficult course and I’m happy with the results.  Would I recommend this race to anyone else?  No.  Not by a long shot.  If big races are your thing, you’ll be disappointed.  If small races are your thing, you may enjoy this one, but you’ll pay more for registration than what it’s worth.

The Goofy Runner

I mentioned yesterday that I had a goal for 2015 that I hoped you guys would help me with.  So let me elaborate a little bit!

I have two loves:  running and animals.  For a long time I’ve been trying to find a way to combine those passions.  I started a local group a couple of years ago where me and a few other folks would go get some of the shelter dogs and take them out for runs.  That fizzled out pretty quickly.  Everyone thought it was a fabulous idea when I first pitched it, but then when it came time to start doing something, everyone was suddenly very busy.  It was just me and the same handful of people for a while and then it got to where they were available to help less and less.  And that’s just not a chore that someone can take on by themselves, so I nixed that program about a year ago.  I’ve volunteered and transported for several different rescues from time to time, but I’ve never really found my place.

Now on the running front… I’ve recently decided to give this 50 half marathons in 50 states a real shot.  I’m not sure that I’ll ever complete it, but I sure as hell won’t if I don’t ever start, so right now we’ll say that I’m officially going for it.  I knew there had to be some way to turn that into a fundraiser of sorts, but I just wasn’t sure how.  When I was searching the interwebs for ideas, I found an organization called Running for Rescues that does something sort of like what I was wanting to do, but their participants solicit donations for one key race and their proceeds are spread out all over the country.  I wanted to do something spread out over a broader time frame, like all of 2015, and I wanted to be sure all of my proceeds were kept local because GOD KNOWS this area needs all the help it can get.  The south in general is pretty irresponsible when it comes to companion animals, and we live in an area that is particularly bad.  So after mulling it over and getting advice from a few friends, I came up with a plan.  For all of 2015, I’ll be hosting a pledge-based fundraiser to benefit Goofy Foot Dog Rescue in West TN.

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Even though they’re based out of a neighboring county, a lot of their rescue efforts are focused here in my home county, so I’m satisfied that I’m keeping it as local as I can. They are an amazing organization founded by an amazing woman, and I am excited to be able to help them help more animals.  The plan right now (and this is a new plan, so it’s still subject to some tweaking) is to do this a month at a time so that potential donors don’t feel like they’re on the hook for an entire year.

This is the pledge structure for January:

Training miles = $0.10
Racing miles = $0.25
A new state = $5.00
A PR = $10.00

Assuming that I average 80-100 miles a month with several races thrown in there, I’m hoping I can get an average of at least $15 per sponsor per month.  I wanted to keep it low enough to encourage participation but high enough that GFDR would actually benefit from it.  I think that’s a nice middle ground.  I started a Facebook group called The Goofy Runner (based on the name of the rescue, but hey, I think it’s a rather fitting title anyway!) where I’ll be posting updates on my progress as well as the rescue’s goings-on so that my sponsors can follow along and see where their money is going.  I went public with the page on January 1st, and so far i have five committed sponsors for January.  I’d love to see that number at least double!  I know I have a lot of animal-loving followers, so please join the group and play along!  And please spread the word!  This is a small, grassroots rescue that depends solely on their founders’ income and donations to do everything they do!  And if you don’t want to do it for the animals, do it to watch a runner push herself like never before to be sure she squeezes every dime possible out of her supporters!  This could be the motivation I’ve been lacking all along!

Aaaaaaaaaaand BREATHE….

It’s no coincidence that I work in the delivery industry and disappeared from The Land of Blog three weeks before Christmas.  This was the wildest season I’ve been a part of during my decade-long career, and I’m SO. GLAD. IT’S. OVER!  For everyone else, Christmas ends after December 25, but that’s just when I’m starting to enjoy the season!  I didn’t get my tree up until the 19th, did the vast majority of my shopping the 20th, wrapped (okay, mostly I stuff shit in bags) the 21st, back to work for three more hellacrazy days the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th, and finally…. FINALLY… when I locked the door to my office at 4:00 pm on Christmas Eve, I was able to sit down, breathe, and allow myself to feel Christmas.  I needed to hurry home to get ready for a family thing that evening, but I literally did just sit in my office for a few minutes to relax and let it sink in.

It turned out to be a really great Christmas for us this year.  I was so worried about how it would be on Dewayne’s side of the family given the recent loss of his mom.  His sister tried so hard to keep things the same as they would have been had she been here, but when she met resistance from a couple of family members who said they just weren’t ready for that, she gave up and we decided that instead of the huge dinner with all of her extended family that this year we would do immediate family only with pizza, BBQ, and alcohol.  hahaha  Seriously, who else’s family celebrates Christmas Eve with shots of Fireball cinnamon whiskey and a rousing game of Bounce Off?  hahaha  (Side note: That stock photo cracks me up.  They make it look so sweet and innocent.  There was a lot more yelling and cussing when we played.  I should send them a photo of us playing to use instead.  It’s just too bad that photo doesn’t come with sound.)

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I think we were better off doing something completely different.  We still felt Debbie’s absence, but not in the same sort of miserable way that I think we would have had we tried to pretend nothing had changed.  This was new, this was FUN, and I know she would have been laughing her ass off right there with us had she been there.  Her favorite thing in the world was always to have all her kids and grandkids there.  She loved a loud, boisterous, happy house, and we sure gave it to her!  It was nearly 1:00 am before we finished with the games and goofiness and presents and headed home.

The next day was spent with my side of the family.  It was quite fun too.  The little ones all kept us entertained that day.  And I don’t mean children.  Well, not of the human persuasion anyway.  haha  We brought our dogs with us, as did my uncle, plus my sister’s dog who lives there.  So we had four rescued doggies celebrating their Christmas Day with us.  That alone made my heart full.

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Pibble selfies
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My sister Kim and her not-officially-fiance-yet-but-we-all-know-it’s-gonna-happen Brandon and their dog Sangria. Sangria was appalled by all the dogs in her house and refused to cooperate and look at the camera. haha
My Uncle Mike's babygirl, Amy
My Uncle Mike’s babygirl, Amy.
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Bella was all Christmased out by the end of the night.

And with that, our Christmas was over.  The new year came very peacefully.  D asked a couple of weeks ahead of time what I wanted to do on New Year’s Eve, and I believe my exact words were, “I don’t wanna do SHIT!”  I was whooped from the last month of work and wanted more than anything to just enjoy a low-key night in, and that’s exactly what we did.  It was pure bliss.  I have a couple of goals floating around in my head for 2015, but that’ll be a different post for a different day.  (Spoiler: One is a pretty big one that I hope some of you will help me out with!)

And in other news…. IT’S MY BIRTHDAY WEEK!!!!  I’ll be turning 35 on Saturday, and I’ll be celebrating by running the Mississippi Blues half-marathon–the first of several that I have lined up for this year.

Maybe it’s just sheer hopefulness and optimism, but I’ve got a feeling 2015 is gonna be pretty great.