Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The goat

I've been very amused by a house up the street for some time. It had been on the market or for rent for quite some time. Someone finally bought it not too long ago and started doing some improvements along with taking out a tree from the garden in the front yard. It's important to say that I live in a neighborhood that is on the outer edge of Buckhead in Atlanta. Certain parts of Buckhead are pretty upscale and fancy. While our neighborhood is not the super fancy part of Buckhead it's still a nice family section of town. Some people have pretty glass globe in their gardens, stones, or statues. Landscaping is taken seriously by some and there are some pretty fancy yards and gardens.

One day I was driving to work and I saw this in the garden of the afore mentioned house:

Yes, that's right. It's a goat. I had no idea that such things were used as garden decoration. It is rather funny. And then I started to notice that it wasn't always in the same place everyday. You see, the goat moves!

(he was a little shy today)

I'm so glad I have picture proof now so that I don't sound crazy. And so it is, the continuing saga of the plastic goat. I wonder where he'll be tomorrow (there was a suitcase blocked by the pillar. If he's going on vacation I hope he has a good time!)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Desserts for a cure

Whose Dessert is Best?   
Dessert cook-off

Do you have what it takes?
Do you have the best cookies in three states? Or a cake that’s to die for? Come show off your cooking talents in our dessert cook-off. Or perhaps your skills lie in eating. We need tasters! Because we have to know who has the best cake, cookies, etc. Bring the whole family and enjoy an evening of dessert sampling, beverages, and fabulous raffle prizes while helping us find a cure for cancer!

What:     Dessert cook-off benefiting Bonnie & Katie for Team in Training
When:      Thursday July 22, 2010
Where:    515 Overbrook Dr., NW
     Atlanta, GA 30318
Time:     7:00 - 9:00 pm
Other:     with a dessert $10
    general admission $20
    kids $10, 3 & under free

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I have never been a big fan of running in the heat and humidity of the summer. I over heat really easily. One year on a mission trip I over heated so badly that I spent the evening in the bathroom unable to even keep a salad down. There's a similar story from soccer conditioning in high school. I feel silly carrying water with me on 3 mile runs, but at this point in the year I get nervous of what might happen if I don't. Funny we were talking about just this very topic on dailymile yesterday (sign up! it's free and awesome!). Here are a few of my tricks for the summer heat & humidity:
  • I always carry my own water on all of my runs in the summer, even for Team in Training runs that have waterstops. As a former girl scout I'm always prepared. Plus, you never know what might happen during a race. Best to bring what you need. Plus, there are these fabulous sugar free electrolyte drink tablets called Nuun (since I'm cavity prone I don't do Gatorade also known as a sugar bath for your teeth. Plus I went to Florida State. We're not big fans of gators...). Just drop one in your water and it creates a fabulous electrolyte beverage to carry along!
  • Salt - I'm a heavy, salty sweater (that might be a little more than you wanted to know). I learned after my first marathon that salt was going to become a very good friend. During the summer it's a salt packet 30 minutes before a run, 1/2 way through, and coaches have suggested after the run. It's not unusual for me to take additional salt packets during the run. It just depends on the day.
  • Dri-fit -  "cotton is rotten" is a favorite phrase of out TNT coaches. Dri-fit is your friend. Love it!!!
  • visor or sweat bands - got to keep the sweat out of the eyes. Plus if you're dumping water over your head the visor keeps it out of your eye with a better chance of getting more of the water where you want it. This often makes me look like I've jumped in a lake (my mom has asked upon my return home if I just took a shower. No mom I just went running...)
  • Ice bath - seriously, there is nothing better after a long run in the summer heat (I know I'm weird. I like ice baths). Not only do you cool off, but it helps your legs recover from all of the hard pounding.
One positive, my pores are nice and clean :-). Sadly the summer often means I have to run slower, but then running slower helps your endurance. Maybe it's mother nature's way of helping me finish my marathons in good shape. Dear God, please let it be cool and not humid for Chicago!

    Tuesday, June 15, 2010

    Another Year

    I always seem to get nostalgic this time of year. It seems like so many things happen at the end of May or in June. May marked 4 years since I graduated from grad school in Milwaukee. It was marked 4 years since my Dad's stroke. I remember him coming home from the hospital and watching the World Cup 24 hours a day while I cooked, cleaned, took care of the dogs, worked, practiced, and took care of both parents. I have to admit that I'm not really excited about the World Cup this time around. As a former soccer player myself I find that kind of sad, but I can't help thinking back to what was going on the last time the tournament happened. I'm sorry World Cup, it's me, not you. (thankfully things are better now. My parents still need help. There are ups and downs, and I'm here to help)

    Two years ago this week I went out for a Saturday run with a good friend who helped me discover my love of running. Nothing fancy, just a nice moderate run to get ready for the Peachtree Road Race. When I got home my parents were on the phone with my Uncle Clyde who lived in San Diego. At first I didn't realize how odd this was until I started to hear some of the conversation. (calling the east coast around 10:00 AM was odd considering the time difference) He had pancreatic cancer, and in 48 hours was having surgery. He wasn't expecting to make it through the surgery, but if he did he was going to fight. At first I thought that it wasn't a big deal. That is until I started doing a little research on pancreatic cancer. Then I started to get worried. It's hard to catch because there aren't symptoms specific to it. They present as symptoms that could be a dozen different things. It's an incredibly fast growing cancer, and is the #1 leading cause of cancer death (99% fatality rate in the 1st year alone). I went off to some teacher workshops the Monday of his surgery with my phone in front of me the whole day. By lunch time he had made it through surgery and was recovering. Everything had gone well, and everything looked good. I wish I could say that it stayed that way. Everyone was on edge. There were frantic and hysterical phone calls from other family members early in the morning. After a second surgery we thought we were good. There was even talk of what his chemo treatments would be and when they might start. Sadly, things went down hill. In three weeks it will be the 2nd anniversary of my Uncle's death.

    As one of my friends says "it's best to make lemonade out of lemons." Which is why I was in a Team in Training information meeting 4 days after my Uncle's death. I was tired of cancer. My Aunt had beat breast cancer. My grandmother survived colon cancer. There have been other cancer scares as well. There had to be something I could do to make a difference. Team in Training presented the perfect opportunity. My friend was running the San Antonio Rock-n-Roll Marathon, Team in Training was participating, and my Uncle's sons lived there. It was the perfect fit. The best part of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is that they share their research. All of the drugs developed by LLS through Team in Training dollars have been FDA approved. Gleevec has been approved for treatment in several different cancers including stomach and certain types of breast cancer. The others have started or are starting research and trials for treatment in other cancers

    This year I'm taking on the Chicago Marathon, and continuing to raise money to find an end to cancer. I want to raise $3000, and I'm 10% of the way there. Maybe you can help me get there. Check out my fundraising site for more information.

    Thursday, June 10, 2010

    When an injury can be a good thing

    Until Wednesday I hadn't had a violin lesson in a week and a half. It has been completely frustrating. Never mind that I had not even touched my violin until this past Sunday. I played for a whole 5 minutes, and then put the violin down in pain. It was one of those "yay I played for 5 minutes!!!" wrapped into "holy crap does this hurt." Why? Well it all goes back to the finger smashing that occurred two weeks ago. Even after taking a day off and feeling better the combination of smashed fingers and repetitive motion of pounding away on the violin was too much for my poor second finger. There have been a lot of tears, and frustration. For a whole week I did not touch the violin. All that hard work of the past several weeks went down the drain.

    After a little experimenting I figured out that I could indeed play my violin again. It meant being super careful. I have to work super hard to make sure I wasn't pressing too hard, something I needed to work on anyway. It's forced me to be more aware of several things I needed to work on. So, with great trepidation I went my my violin lesson Wednesday night. In past experiences teachers have not always been very supportive the first lesson back after an injury. It's always my fault for not practicing enough despite the pain. That didn't happen Wednesday. If fact my teacher actually noticed that I was using the injury to my advantage by slowing down, and paying much more attention to what I was doing. Plus he encouraged me to continue doing the same thing as the injury healed. I felt like he was jumping up and down saying "yes, yes, yes, this is the right way." And, to top it all off he actually said this was a very good lesson despite the fact that I had only really practiced for three days. Keep it slow, and then challenge yourself with a faster pace to see if the skills continue, then slow down and fix any form problems (sounds eerily like speed drills in running if you ask me). That's how things would continue to go in the right direction. My biggest struggle has always been the balance between speed and technique. I often sacrifice the technique to have the speed I need in a piece. Once again my violin and running worlds are colliding with each other.

    I will admit that my favorite part of my lesson was finding out that MY BOW WAS BACK FROM SPAIN!! All fixed and pretty after a forte night of traveling and repairs (it didn't call, or write, or bring back a present). The bow maker is an absolute genius! He saved the gold winding (gold, by the way, is currently going for $1200 an ounce), and only charged me for the labor. Somehow he managed to rewind the gold backwards starting from the top of the winding, tuck it back under the leather which he didn't touch and secure the top end. All of that is backwards from the way a winding is normally done (usually the metal is applied first starting at the bottom and tucked under at the top. Then the leather is applied on top of the bottom end of the metal winding to secure it). It cost half of what I had saved. Plus, he rehaired the bow, re-cambered the bow, and made it all shiney and pretty. God bless him! I would have paid more, but my violin teacher wouldn't hear of it. Honestly, if anyone is looking for a really awesome bow at a good price I would be more than happy to pass his name along. If I ever win the lottery I'm going to buy 10 more of his bows. They are that good!

    So, now it's on to getting reacquainted with my bow and violin speed intervals. Oh, and lots of ice still...

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010

    Wordless Wednesday - post run walk with the doggies

    Monday, June 7, 2010

    A new beginning

    I don't really talk about where I work on the blog (you never know who is reading), but today, today I am very excited. I took the morning off of trying to practice and most of the things I would usually do because I needed to clean. And not just clean the house, but I needed to clean my studio space in the house. Why? Because tomorrow my home studio officially has it's very first student! (granted they are lessons I donated to an auction, but you have to start somewhere).

    My studio, well technically it's the basement. I have a nice private entrance from the back of the house. The only thing is that I share space with the exercise equipment and the dogs. The desk is now free of tennis balls for fetch and dog bones. I suspect it will work better that way! The space is all clean and dusted. The new area rug is down, and the dehumidifier is now on (it's a basement in the south!).

    I'm honestly very excited. This is something I have dreamed about for years. Last summer after getting incredibly frustrated with my current situation I decided it was time to start setting things in motion. I got my website set up, and did some advertising. I got lots of e-mails from people interested in lessons, but they were only nibbles, no bites. I need to get some things in order this summer to see if I can continue to grow, especially after the schools start back in the fall. Having a studio at home and working for myself is what I've always wanted, and would take care of some of the other things that have been so frustrating in the past year. So, here's to a new beginning. It's starting small, but it's only the beginning. There are more chapters to come to this story!

    Thursday, June 3, 2010

    Oh the joyful bath

    Recovery is a big thing. Recovering from hours of practicing, long rehearsals, and concerts. Oh, and then there are the runs. Most post long run days involve an ice bath, especially in the summer. But what about those days when things are a little sore, but an ice bath is over kill? Enter the Joyful Bath Co.! I found  them on twitter a few weeks ago, and thought I would give them a try. What makes Joyful Bath special you ask? Well, the creator (or chief mixologist is her official title) is an athlete. She gets it! All of the bath salts are made from natural products with no perservatives. Music to my ears!! And, well the bath salts rock! I got a large jar of Ginger snap:

    I love ginger, and these are labeled as releasing bath salts to help perfect for post workout soaks. Plus they come packed in cornstarch packing peanuts. What's so great about that? They dissolve in water, and they are great so people with itchy skin. To be honest I'm not sure which I love more, the bath salts, or the cornstarch peanuts. They both make me one happy runner after a bath!

    Not sure yet? What if I told you there was a way to try them free? Every Wednesday is bathday on Twitter. Just follow Joyful Bath Co on twitter and look for the magic tweets (they usually start after 11am). Rochel gives away 2oz free samples of all of the different scents. It's a win-win if you ask me!

    These will definitely be coming with me on freelance jobs and to the Chicago Marathon!