Then and Now: December

Happy New Year's Eve! I hope that wherever you are, you are having a great weekend! Have a wonderful time tonight and I will see you next year

The holidays are often very similar each year. There are holiday parties, get-togethers with friends and food to be eaten and presents to open with family. This December was no different. There were many people to see that I see every year, and many holiday traditions that were observed this year, just as they were last year. There were also a few things that were different. Here is December 2010 vs 2011, The Who, The What and The Where.

The Who:  Every year I get together with friends in San Francisco for a snackapalooza. This year was no different, except we got together in November instead! So we met up in Sacramento for some carb loading before the marathon instead. Also, I get together with my old HS buddies on the day after Christmas each year. It's great fun and I am glad we have kept the tradition alive!

2010: Snackapalooza, San Francisco, 2011: CIM carb loading

2010: Hail, grey skies and a large group, 2011: Sun in the eyes and less people
The What: Last year I did many of the same things as this year. I went to see the birds; I ate cheese platters; I make cookies. The only huge difference was the running. Last year I took lots of walks; this year I took many runs instead (mileage last December: 0 miles, this December: about 100 miles).

2010: Walks, 2011: Runs

2010: Birds + great reflections! 2011: Birds but no reflection

2010: Small cheese platter, 2011: large cheese platter! (2012: Cheese table?)

2010: Pumpkin Choc Chip, 2011: Macaroon
The Where: Last year I went on a road trip from California to Iowa, where I met up with my friend Red at her new house. This year, I have been in California all month.

2010: Iowa


What were you doing last December? Do you do the same thing every Christmas or are your holidays varied?


Run Like The Wind

When I first started running, it was difficult. The miles went by slowly; it was hot outside; the work days were long and the last thing I wanted to do afterwards was suit up and go for a run. If you have ever run a mile, you know that in every run, the first couple of miles are hard. Your breathing is strained; your face is burning; your legs are screaming; your mind is wondering why you would do this to yourself. Then the endorphins kick in and it becomes, not necessarily easy, but tolerable. Easier. After that, you get through the run and when you are done, you feel good.

Snowy run on Christmas Day

Lately, I have not had that dreaded feeling of the first couple of miles. The runs have started out, dare I say it, fun. Even though my heart and lungs still need to get used to the activity, it’s not as bad as it could be. It doesn’t feel horrible. It doesn’t even feel okay. It feels good! This is a little strange to me, since I have been running trails lately, which are hilly, and also I am running at about 2500 feet elevation, which although is not high, is higher than the 400 in Missouri or the 49 in San Francisco!

It’s still hard to get out the door sometimes. I am comfy in my pajamas or I’ve had a long day or it’s too cold outside. But once the run starts, all those feelings go away. Today my Dad and I ran 6 miles, with a total elevation gain of about 2500 ft. It was hard. The hills were tiring. It felt great though. As I was running back down the trail with the wind flowing (literally) through my hair, I almost giggled with glee because it felt so good! Who knew, running CAN be fun!? 

Trail running with Dad
I know it’s great when I feel stressed and need something to calm me down; it’s a nice way to get out of the house; it’s good for an energy kick, for fitness and for health. But I never really did it for fun. I always heard other people say how much they liked running and I never really got it. I tried to think back over my time running to figure out when it switched from being a chore to being something that I like doing. I am not sure when it was, but it’s happened. After all this time running, I think I like it. I really like it.  

** I am still participating in the HBBC, hosted by Run to The Finish! There is only one more week! Here are the totals for the week of December 24 – 30: 25 miles / 7 days freggies (I took this from Elle of Eat, Run, Sail) = 31 total points** Don't forget to pop over to Jill's to see other participants of Fitness Friday! **


A Month at a Time

Okay so I finally decided to jump on the year recap bandwagon! I was fighting it for a while, but since I love making lists, why not take this opportunity to do another one? Here is a list, by month, of some of the great moments of 2011.

January: Celebrating New Years in Hong Kong. 

February: Hanging out at the Beach in Thailand (and getting pretty sunburned!)

March: Cutting off all my hair for Locks of Love.

April: Scuba diving in Bali.

May: Helping my parents with some home improvements (hard work, but feels good!)

June: Goingback to work after a long hiatus.

July: Going to my first rodeo!

August: My little niece’s first birthday party.

September: Finally being in shape enough to run a half marathon, and break the 2 hour mark!

October: Conquering another High Point (Taum Sauk, MO)!

November: Pigs and Turkeys in Massachusetts.

December: Running my first marathon, with my family there to cheer me on. 

What a great year! 
How was your year? What was your favorite thing about 2011?


Shhh, It's a Secret

A while back, I signed up for a blogger gift exchange at Run With Jill. Just in time for Christmas, I received my gift in the mail! My secret Santa, Kim, must have peeked at my blog, because she got me exactly what I needed!

First, she got me this great necklace made of a scrabble tile with my initial on the front and a world on the back. Perfect for me, since I love to travel AND play Scrabble! How did she know?

And an Amazon gift card! Which I totally asked for on my wish list. I can't decide whether to buy a book or this!

I went and checked out her site, Life in the Twin Lane, and she seems like a great girl. Not only did she find the perfect gifts, but she is training for several races, is a reader AND quoted Tommy Boy on her blog. So Thanks Kim! 

If you want to see what I got my Secret person, you can read all about it on her site!

Did you do any gift exchanges this year? How do you exchange gifts with your family? Do you give everyone gifts, pick names, or only give the kids gifts?


Three Days of Christmas

This year, since Christmas fell on a weekend, it meant that the whole weekend was packed with fun Christmas things!

Every Christmas we give out tons of cookies to the neighbors. Otherwise we would eat them all!

This year, for pre-Christmas-Eve dinner, we had dunganess crab!

We always open one gift on Christmas Eve. This one was a big one, so rather than carry it (we have Christmas at my Aunt's house) I opened it! It was just what I wanted, a new hiking backpack! 

We watched the old standby, The Muppet's Christmas Carol.

On Christmas Eve, we all headed up to my Aunt's house for a feast! Around 1 o'clock we put out hors d'oevres: 7 types of cheese, several dips, veggies, chips, bread, and a few kinds of meat. After that, we are not really very hungry, but we still manage to put out dinner (and put down some of it!) around 5. We had turkey, mashed potatoes, a stein full of gravy, real cranberry sauce and the kind shaped like a can, stuffing and broccoli!

Next up, dessert! Lemon meringue pie, pumpkin pie, and tons of homemade whipped cream! Somehow I managed to have a little bit of each one.

After all the food, a walk is in order. We take a half an hour or so to mosey around the neighborhood, looking at the lights, trying to stay warm and trying to work off (or pretend we are working off) a little bit of the turkey!

After that, it's Wii time. We like Wii bowling and Wii frisbee golf. I am pretty bad at all of them! The next morning we got up early and opened our stockings! We still have stockings and we stuff them with little things such as soap, undies and pens. The only non-adult at our party had fun playing with the wrapping paper more than the presents!

After stockings, we eat a huge breakfast. My brother made biscuits and gravy, eggs, bacon and hashed browns. Even though I did not need any more food, I managed to eat 4 pieces of bacon. I am not sure how. They just kept sliding down my throat. Gobble, gobble.

After that, the boys went out to shoot their guns (yes, I live in the woods) and I went for a really nice and much needed run (through the woods). Then we came back and relaxed, played games and checked out our new toys before having a nice dinner of turkey sandwiches.

running trail
We ended the night with a bang.

The day after Christmas, I always get together for a nice breakfast with all my highschool friends from home. Each year we add a few kids and the moms have started to come as well. It's always nice to see everyone and to catch up on what has been going on in their lives.

And then, just like that, it's over. It always feels a little strange to get back to real life again after the holidays.

How was your holiday weekend? Do you eat real cranberry sauce or the kind shaped like a can? Do you overeat as much as I do?


A-List Monday IV: What I Learned

**I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and a great time with friends and family!**

When I was a child, my family used to eat dinner together around the table every night. My father used to ask us every night what we had learned that day. At first I was reluctant. I thought I hadn’t learned anything. I had gone to school just like every day and played with my same friends and talked about the same math problems that I had gone over the day before. He explained to me that even if I didn’t learn a new math problem, there are hundreds of things every day that show themselves to you that you may not have known about before. Maybe you saw a new butterfly or a new way to tie a knot. Maybe you met a new person and they ate different food from you or lived somewhere you’d never been. He taught me that every day no matter where you are or what you are doing, there is something to be learned.

This year I have been lucky to experience many things I never knew about, to see things I had never seen before. Some of them were basic, a new food, a new word or a new hairstyle. Others were more elaborate: a political opinion, a poverty level, or a way of life. Every day I looked around and saw something I had not known about before. I learned something new every day.

Here are eleven things I learned in 2011:

{1} People eat these. What they are, I am not really sure. I ate one. It was slimy and tasted of the sea. It was a stomach of some sea animal. I learned the taste of it, but I still have not learned its name. 

{2} In Missouri, tractors have the right of way.

{3} No matter where you go, the cheap beer pretty much all tastes the same.

{4} December is the WORST possible month to fix a roof. When it’s raining out, it’s the worst possible TIME to fix a roof. If it’s December and it’s raining, and you are fixing a roof, you might be a redneck in trouble. But at least you get to play with nail guns. {Kids, don’t try this at home!}

{5} Never squat with your feet ON the toilet.

{6} If you lick one of these, your tongue will go numb. They used to use it as an anesthetic. I didn’t try it, I swear. A friend told me! It was a friend!

{7} If you ever go to China, bring a book with the kanji translations into English, because this is what the train timetable looks like. Little hat with a cross and two vertical stripes = Nanjing.  Also, nobody speaks English. If you go up to the counter and say, “Nanjing! Nanjing!” the lady at the counter and all the people in line behind you will just look at you funny until you get out of line, perplexed and confused.

{8} This is a butt warmer. Really. They put coals in the little bowl under your butt and you sit on it to keep warm. This is the only source of warmth in this room. Otherwise you put 17 blankets on and keep your head under the covers at all times.

 {9} Sometimes happy hour lasts all day.

 {10} My boyfriend likes to go to the highest building in every city that has a relatively high one. It is has a lot of floors or is many feet (or meters) tall, he is on the elevator in a heartbeat. I guess I have a similar fetish with high mountains, and luckily, he will sometimes join me in conquering them as well.

{11} Gas prices have gone down a lot since May!

What have you learned this year?


A Year in Races

This year has been a good year, running wise. After not running very much last year (1 race and probably a few miles a week on average), I am glad that I made the time this year to run more and to be healthier. I feel better overall and I like having goals to strive for. Here is a quick recap of the races from 2011.


City of Roses Half Marathon, Cape Girardeau, MO: Thanks to my friend G-man, who backed out of this race but was the one to suggest it, I had a reason to train through the hot summer in Missouri. I started running 2 miles and worked my way up to half marathon shape. This race was a big PR for me. I finally broke the 2 hour mark!

Women Run the Cities 10 Mile, Minneapolis, MN: Thanks to Lisa, this was a fun weekend! We toured around Minneapolis before doing the run on Sunday. I had never run a 10 mile run before, so it was an automatic PR! Gotta love that!


Green Stride Half Marathon, Newburyport, MA: I met up with my friend M, who lives in Boston, and we drove up to Newburyport (with Mr. L, who was our complimentary cameraman) for a beautifulrace through the New England fall colors.


Almond Bowl Half Marathon, Chico, CA: My mom accompanied me to this race and took photos of my struggles. It was a chilly morning run, and part of it was on a dirt (rocky) road, but it was not too hilly and therefore netted me another PR.

Turkey Trot (5k), Fairhaven, MA: I roped Mr. L into doing this with me and we both had a great time! I think no matter what distance races you normally do, you should throw a 5k in from time to time in order to remind yourself how fun it is to run shorter distances!


California International Marathon, Sacramento, CA: This is the big one, Elizabeth. I am so glad I finally buckled down and signed up for a marathon. It has been on my life list for a long time and I admit to putting it off, year after year, because I was afraid that afterwards I would be done with running. Quite the contrary, I am ready for the 2012 season! With gusto!

So, all in all, it was a good running season. I can’t wait to see what next year brings!

Also, here is a quick recap of the HBBC activities for the last week.

Week of Dec 10 – 16: 30.6 Points total (23.6 miles run / 7 days of veggies)
Week of Dec 17 – 23: 30 points total (23 miles run / 7 days of veggies)

Did you run any races this year? Which one was your favorite? Are you having any success in keeping your cookie weight off?