Wednesday, December 9, 2009


My readers (all 4 of you) this is a post to let you know that I am going into hibernation. The weather in Akron sucks so I will be spending most of my time indoors working on my still yet to be completed thesis. If i do blog, it will like be about middle Byzantine churches and fresco decoration. Anyone out there well versed who would be willing to give a hand? (I'm talking about "provincial"/Rhodian middle Byzantine architecture done under Nicaean rule with a fresco program similar to the churches in Lysi, Cyprus??)

*Sound of crickets chirping.*

I will likely still be running here and there, and most definitely will be yoga-ing as that is one of the few activities that can truly center me. But overall, I fear my blogging will suffer. (Not that I've been so on the ball lately, you know - life and stuff.)

And seriously, any Byzantinists out there - help.....

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Real Life...

I have been running, seriously. I just haven't been blogging about it. In the real world I am a master's student and a part-time art history professor. It is the end of the semester and I've been crazy busy working on lectures, writing exams, grading exams and the most dreaded of all - grading papers. My thesis needs to get done and it's being sorely neglected. My "I'll work on it tomorrow" logic is staring to bite me in the ass as I see my deadlines fast approaching.

With Christmas break around the corner I am resolved to dedicate part of every day to thesis work. With this said, I wonder if I can find a balance between running and working? I am hoping I can come up with a kick ass schedule that involves running, thesis-ing and yoga-ing. Wish me luck... I'll get working on it tomorrow...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Turkey Day!

Go for a run tonight or tomorrow morning to stave away the guilt, make it a sweaty one so you don't feel bad about about the second piece of pie with whipped cream. Drink nogs, wines, spirits or beer - whatever your poison. Enjoy the designed gluttony of the day.

Me, I'll be in the back yard practicing my sprints. Why you may ask? I have one word for you, SHOPPING. Yes, I get up at the crack of dawn to stand in line to save $5.00 on something I don't need. I will be sucked into the spell of the "Free Tote with Purchase" and "Buy One Get One Free" signs. My day will start at 4 a.m., I will shop - go home to loving grandparents who will cook me a fantastic breakfast - then I will go out and shop some more. With my mother at my side no deal will go uncovered and/or unpurchased. This is my vow to you readers: I will shop as though I am running a race, I will go hard, I will aim for the negative split (second half is mall shopping- gotta hit that hard!) and I will PR!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New Kicks = Sore Legs

My enthusiasm for running has increased, so much so that I spent all day Saturday searching for a new pair of running shoes. My old shoes (rest their soles -HA, get it?!) weren't handling the increase in my mileage very well. In fact they were letting me down, more specifically - letting my arches down. They were a simple pair of neutral cushioned Nike running shoes I bought at Kohl's on sale a couple of years ago. They have served me well in my running infancy and have gotten me through two 5k's. But, I knew after the hellacious arch pain I was experiencing that I needed a shoe with more arch support. So, off I went to Aurora Farms! I tried on a few pairs of shoes of various brands, got super pissy with the one shoe salesmen when he wouldn't let me go outside for a quick jaunt, I take it he was not a running enthusiast, definitely not a runner. So finally I decided to do things right and head to Second Sole. Luckily, a friend of mine was working (so I knew I wouldn't get hosed) and I got to business trying on fancy running shoes with good arch support. I ran around the store and outside feeling super cool and finally decided on these beauties:

The Asics GT 2150's! I put them on and they fit like a fancy pair of Italian calfskin driving gloves! Needless to say, after dropping a Benjamin on running shoes I have felt compelled to use them, and so I have.

I have done a few miles here and there, did my first back to back days of running, and needless to say now my legs are very sore. They pain is worth it though, I look at my shoes daily with admiration and have even decided to give them names: Greta and Gerta. I feel if my shoes are in fact two stern German ladies, I'll run harder, faster and further. Makes sense, right?

Monday, November 9, 2009

I'm Awesome

I haven't been running that much. Here and there a mile or two, but that's it. The most I have ever ran is 4 miles and I've done it a few times. This past week I've been stressing out over real life issues. Part-time professorhood depends on courses filling up and I have been shamelessly selling my classes to students as of late. With the holidays fast approaching I've been out shopping (trying to be one of the early shoppers this year) and lamenting the minuscule size of my pocketbook. I still have to finish my master's thesis, and let me tell you- those things don't write themselves! I stress easily and sometimes the thought of getting a run in puts me damn near the edge of a breakdown.

So, at this point you're probably wondering how I have managed to stay sane as it takes very little to pull me down into the depths of craziness. Well, I will tell you: I have these moments of pure resolve. I go into a cave of thoughts (quite literally I don't respond to the outside world) and I find my resolve to, erm, GET SHIT DONE. Well I had one of my cave moments this weekend. I spent all of Friday and Saturday in my mind cave, much to the dismay of the people who interact with me on a daily basis. I came out of the cave on Sunday when I went for my run.

I geared up for a nice Ohio fall day, high near 67 and mostly sunny. Perfect for a run really. I went down to my beloved towpath and thought to myself "You need a challenge missy!" So I ran past the first mile marker, then the second, and then... I KEPT GOING! I thought to myself I could turn around at 3, run back 2 and walk the last as a cool down. And - I did it. I don't run fast and I don't run far, but yesterday I ran 5 miles in 1:00.44. A 12 minute mile pace works for me and lord have mercy, did it ever feel good. (But let's just say, now I know about chafing.) Right at the fifth mile when my body was screaming at me Viper (I have such a hard time calling him that, but yes- a person from my real life) came up behind me with some words of encouragement. He volunteered to finish with me, but he had his Brooks T6 Racers on, and when he does that you know he means business. I told him to go ahead, besides - I truly felt like this needed to be between me and the towpath.

Needless to say I've been out of my mind cave since then and come to a few conclusions about real life and running.

1) I need to run to keep me sane, so I can't dread getting out there or I'll go insane!
2) I need lasik surgery, running in glasses sucks (I can't wear contacts)
3) I need to get back into my yoga practice... it helps keep me sane, too.
4) It's good to have people in your life to help you celebrate your small victories (thanks Viper!)
5) My thesis won't write itself, so people who read this - harass me shamelessly to get it done :-)
6) I ran 5 miles yesterday for the first time, I am awesome.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

And I Ran...

I ran so far away...

Ok, not far away, just a couple miles around the neighborhood but it sure felt good! I'm getting faster (even after my running hiatus) and that makes me eager to run some more. Ahhh, running: the self-rewarding sport.

So yesterday I geared up for a run on a normal Ohio fall day and walked out my front door only to confront warm sunniness. I guess I wasn't thinking about the actual temperature as I started my run, because about 5 minutes in I realized it was frickin' hot outside. My running t-shirt was plastered to my back and my black capris were soaking in the sun's rays -- IT WAS HOT. Hell, I don't think I truly understood what was going on until I got back home, took a shower, stepped out of the shower and was still sweating. Finally I gave in and checked the internets - it was 71 degrees. SEVENTY-ONE DEGREES. This is Ohio, it is the end of October!! WTF!?!? Part of me still has a hard time comprehending what happened yesterday...

The lesson learned, if you live in Ohio - always check the weather before you leave for a run. Other lesson learned, excuses are indeed lame (thanks for the reminder Carolina John) and I do just need to hit the pavement.

Oh yes, and HAPPY HALLOWEEN to all out there who celebrate!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Best Plan is no Plan

I totally set myself up for a whole lotta nothing. Last blog I waxed and waned about wanting to increase mileage in this cool Ohio fall weather - HA!! I don't know when I ran last. It seems since the root canal I've been hit with a barrage of health issues and lame excuses that have kept me off the trails. It looks like tomorrow might be my chance to get out there. I don't know how far I'll go, hell I don't know what my body can handle right now. (You know those Mucinex commercials with the mucus partying in some human organ? Well that party is happening right here baby.) And the craziest part - my inspiration to get back out there came in the form of perusing the web for new running gear today. Oh, retail therapy -- somehow it always works.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My Plans

I've been off enjoying life south of the Mason-Dixon line for a while... and now it's back to reality.

My tooth is all better now - I had to have an emergency root canal. The thing is: the root canal felt soooo good after dealing with all that pain. What was not good was having to cancel my classes thus pushing back my exams a week. (Lord knows I'm not going to re-write a whole exam!!) Being a professor can be hard work ;-)

I wish I could say I got in a great run once I got back from my mini-vaca, but I didn't. I have come down with some sort of illness - no, not 2009 H1N1, it's likely just an upper respiratory infection. I brought box of tissues to work with me today - my students looked at me like I was a whack job when I set it down on the podium. I was up there hacking and sneezing and wheezing while talking about sexuality and reproduction in art. This wasn't one of my note worthy lectures, that's for sure.

So all I can do with this blog is plan. I am going to let the blog world in on a little secret of mine: I'm thinking about running in the Cleveland Half Marathon! I really want to get my mileage up and the thought of running through my hometown excites me. (I live in Akron now, but I was born on bred in the west-side suburbs of Cleveland.) I have a long way to go, but this is something I really want to do. I figure I have until February to work on getting up my weekly mileage then I can begin a training plan. The only flaw - this means training in northeast Ohio during some seriously shit weather.

This was last November... and if you can imagine it was worse in February. I don't have an indoor track to go to, so I guess I'll just have to learn to like running in sub zero temperatures with snow and ice.

It can't be that bad... can it?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tea Bagging

Still in a world of hurt. This damn tooth is going to be the end of me.

Determined to go out for four today. I know you're not supposed to run while in pain, but what if the part that hurts isn't a body part used for running? I'm saying it's ok.

Resorted to checking out home remedies for abscessed teeth on-line. Apparently putting a tea bag on the infected area is supposed to help...

Yes, there is a tea bag in my mouth right now.

For the record, any type of tea bagging thus far in my experience is not pleasant.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A World of Hurt

I am sidelined. I could say that I hurt myself running. I could say that I took a fall while biking. I could even say that I am in a body cast after chasing down a runaway stroller only to save a small child's life. But, I won't.

I have an abscessed tooth. It hurts like a motherf*@ker. The painkillers from the dentist are starting to wear off and today's run just ain't gonna happen.

Let's hope tomorrow brings me a less painful mouth and some more blissful painkillers.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


As The Enthusiast I like to show my support and enthusiasm for the fine state of Ohio. The buckeye state has been my home for most of my life and at times I can't help but gush - this really is a great place. Why, you may ask? Well, for lots of reasons. But today I just want to focus on the towpath in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Yesterday I went for a run. I intended on doing 3 nice miles - but then the walnuts happened. I went back to the hills (glutton for punishment I guess) and started out on my nice jaunt. Right around the half mile marker I was going along nicely, enjoying the blustery weather, when I noticed a large patch of fallen walnuts on the trail. I specifically remember thinking "Look at me go! I can dodge any obstacle... " And then reality hit in the form of my foot landing funny on said walnuts and my right ankle rolling at an exorcist-like angle.

(An example of walnuts on a trail)

Needless to say, I cut my run a mile short and prayed my ankle would be normal sized when I looked down. Luckily, the ankle was fine. I RICE'd properly and I am now good to go - as a result I fear the fallen walnut much like I fear stepping on chipmunks.

This morning I decided that I needed to make up for that lost mile, and what better way than by dusting off my trusty bike! It has been a long while since I've taken the bike out for a spin. I figured a nice 1o miler would be a fantastic start to my day. I geared up for the 42 degree weather and hit the towpath. Not even a mile in my legs were screaming at me. They were tired and not used to pushing along the two wheeled contraption. The 10 miler was NOT going to happen- so I decided to bust out my fancy phone with a super duper camera and photo document my favorite stretch of the towpath.

This is the goose. He's a large, very vocal goose that likes to hang out on the towpath. The first time I saw him he scared the living bejesus out of me waddling onto the path as I was zipping by on my bike. I look for him every time I'm in this area and get quite excited when I see him. Why? I don't know - just like white geese I guess. I decided to give him a name today, it's Fester. He needed a name. (Note: After I took this picture he starting honking at me, it was kinda scary.)

Here is Beaver Marsh/Turtle Pond. I've heard it called both, though I've seen more turtles here than beavers. I'm not a betting woman, but I would bet my bike that in daylight hours there is always a photographer on this planked area. This morning there were three.

This is Szalay's Farm. They have the best sweet corn EVER. I kid not. They have a good selection of produce and most of it is locally grown, even better! Now that it's fall time there are pumpkins, gourds and haystacks all over the place. It's quite pleasant.

And a nice view after my turnaround point. It was a good morning for a bike ride, it was cool out but refreshing. If you're even in the Akron area I would suggest hitting this place up! And if you're super into running - like a marathoner, the Towpath Marathon is this weekend. It's quite scenic from what I understand and it's also very flat.

Good running and biking to all as I relax and enjoy my Thursday off! :-D

Monday, October 5, 2009

Not Sucking

I have been know to sport an inferiority complex. No, really? Yes, really. My type A personality may lend in part to that. My thought process "Oh, I just ran 4 miles, but other people run 18. Wow, I must suck." I know it's horrible, but hell, I know I'm not the only one out there who goes through similar thought processes. As you could imagine, venturing into the world of running with a mindset like that could kill a person dead in their tracks (or on their trail...) So the question: How have I overcome my self-deprecating brooding nature?

1.) Being Realistic. Being Patient.

I know you can't just leap up to double digit mileage overnight. I am not superwoman, I am not an Olympic athlete, hell - I'm not even a runner. :) I do, however, have a nothing but months and months of run-able days ahead of me. I have nothing but time to cover all manner of distances.

2.) My Kind of Running

When I started to run a about year ago my goal was a 5K and after I did it, I didn't do much else except indulge in holiday feasting. My inspiration was a seasoned runner and all I did was emulate his habits. I had never ran before so I didn't know how many different approaches there were! My running spree lasted about 3 months. I didn't do much research, I didn't log onto Runner's World religiously, and I didn't take walk breaks. I thought walk breaks were a sign of weakness - guess what, they're not. This time around I've learned what type of running method works for me. I want to feel good about my runs, and in order to do that I embrace the walk break. Again, I cannot sing the praises of Jeff Galloway enough. And another new addition to my running - MUSIC. Sometimes you'll even catch me dancing on the trail. Hell, why would I do this if it weren't at least a little bit fun?

3.) Celebrating all Accomplishments. (No Matter How Small)

I ran hills for the first time yesterday. They weren't huge hills, but they were more than I've ever done. I was nervous, on the way out to the trail all I kept thinking was "What if I can't do it?" Failure scares me. But, I found my resolve and was determined to attack those hills. In the end, I had a great run. I'm getting faster (apparently even on hills) and it feels damn good. I clocked one of my fastest miles, and even though I ended my run with a sock/shoe full of blood. (Still working on the finer points of toenail clipping) I was all smiles. I let myself be proud of my accomplishments. Running up and down some hills may not seem a point of pride for some, but for me, yesterday, it sure as hell was.

In the end I just tell myself, "You don't suck!" Even when I'm thinking that my mileage is measly compared to all of the marathoners that must be surrounding me on the trail; Even when I'm taking a walk break and what's sure to be a stellar triathlete passes me; Even when a high school cross country team whizzes past me and surely thinks, "HA! What is that girl doing running out here?!" -- Even when all those things happen - I mange to force myself to say "YOU DON'T SUCK." I am out here and that's enough- even for me.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Yesterday I ran. I did nothing else all day, unless you considering napping and watching movies something.* Around 1 pm I checked the local weather - 49 degrees, chance of rain 50% (looked out the window, 100%) and WINDY! Being from northeast Ohio this revved me up and I thought to myself "What a perfect day to run!" Crazy, I know. There's something about autumn in Ohio, the slight (to moderate, to intense) chill in the air, the dampness that seeps into the core of your bones, it's all part of that wonderful Ohio experience. In honor of the weather I decided I would run on the towpath. As I was gearing up a wave of panic came over me, what should I wear?! Up until yesterday the weather had been mostly moderate and pleasant. What does a running enthusiast wear in chilly/rainy weather? Luckily, I had Women's Complete Guide to Running by Jeff & Barbara Galloway on hand. According to their chapter of attire I should have donned a long sleeve light weight shirt, shorts or tights, and mittens or gloves. Not to shirk the advice of real runners, but I had to tweak the suggestion. I have long sleeve running shirts, but they're all meant for some serious cold (this is Ohio after all...) and mittens??!! For serious? I'd look like a pansy ass on the towpath with mittens when it hasn't even reached freezing yet. I decided upon tights with a skirt, a t-shirt (the fancy kind that makes your sweat not stick to you), and my fleece vest. Since I am a dork and have to wear glasses, a ball cap was also necessary.

I decided to start at the trail head that has the most hills, granted they are small and sloping, but hills nonetheless. I parked the car, stretched out the ITB (coming off some not so fun injuries) and I was gone! The run was pleasant, I pushed myself for some much needed speed. The towpath was covered in downed twigs, branches, walnuts, buckeyes and leaves. I almost took a spill trying to maneuver between the walnuts, but I manged to stay upright. The rain had turned into a mist, that was refreshing when it wasn't annoying. The end result, a good run.

So the point of all of this: I ran. I have been a fair weather running enthusiast for about a year now. A few months ago a day like yesterday would have been enough for me to stay on the couch and not get out there. I feel dedicated this time, I feel excited and eager to keep on running. (In February when there's ice on the ground, the high for the day is 20 degrees and snow is falling - please remind me of my dedication!!)

* I am not a bum. I am in academia with a kick ass schedule where I work only two days a week.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Working the Marathon

This past weekend was the Akron Marathon. I know people who run it and admittedly, the people I do know who run it give me a reason to feel motivated, to feel excited about running. So last week, while perusing the marathon website and checking out the race course I came across the "Volunteer Sign Up" link. I thought to myself "Could I get a free t-shirt out of this?" The answer: YES! It was settled, I would be a volunteer - a beacon of community service, an involved member of my city, a wide eyed and eager running enthusiast ready to meet some real runners... "I wonder: could I snag one of those freebie bags, too?" HELL YES!

I signed up for the Expo. I could register a racer, couldn't I? My assignment: 10:00 - 2:00, Packet Pick-up. I decided to ride my bike to the Expo, I would look soooo cool rolling up in my Giant mountain bike. So super cool. I got there 30 minutes early... and there really wasn't anyone to witness my coolness. Anyways - I arrived at the same time as the blue haired brigade. These four elderly ladies were quite nice and volunteer veterans, I followed them into the very large John S. Knight center. After 30 minutes of folding tech shirts (those are slippery suckers when it comes to folding) I took company with the blue haired brigade and went over to registration. I asked to work the marathon check in, far less complicated than checking in those relay teams (5 bibs, one envelope - that was frustration just waiting to happen.) I stood ready with Amy, a perky recent college graduate and my new friend for the next 4 hours. Every ten minutes the loudspeaker bellowed the countdown to 11:00, zero hour, the opening of the Expo. At 11:00 we braced ourselves, waiting for herds of runner to attack us demanding their bibs. This - did not happen. It was a steady flow of runners. As each person picked up their bib I wondered "What pace do they run?", "How many marathons have they raced?", "Did they travel far to get here?" Hell, Runner's World highlighted the Akron Marathon, I half expected to give Kara Goucher her bib. This did not happen. However, I did check in loads of first timers (they had special stickers on their bibs) and some relatively seasoned marathoners with some seriously hot thighs.

My work ended and I took a couple of jaunts around the Expo -- I left with loads of free goodies, great company and sense of accomplishment. I was part of the Akron Marathon, even though I didn't run in an event. As for the actual marathon the next day, I was on duty yet again. I drove two marathoners into Akron, provided loads of fan support, cheered like the dickens and cried like a baby when the first wheelchair marathoner finished. (Now that's some serious dedication...)

As for next year, perhaps I will be in a relay team, maybe I'll even be trained up enough to do the half. Will I volunteer again? HELL YES! Who can resist the freebies and the sense of community? I definitely cannot.

Here I Go...

The decision to blog has not been an easy one; I know others who do it, I have made fun of their blog world, I have even gotten jealous of their blog "friends." But putting aside my prejudices I have decided to unabashedly enter this blogging world. So the next hurdle (now that the pro-blogging stance has been established) : What to blog about? I like lots o' things, from chocolate pudding to Old English Sheepdogs - but hell if I'm going to blog about those. I like to bike, though I'm not a cyclist, and I like to run but I am not a runner. I am a simple trail biking enthusiast and a slow moving, albeit motivated newbie running enthusiast. Call it a side effect of chubby childhood, book worminess and an affinity for things like yoga, manicures, art history and exploring recipe websites that I cannot call myself anything more than an athletic enthusiast.

With this blog I intend to document my life as a new running enthusiast and a biking enthusiast: I will share my struggles, achievements and the numerous funny stories along the way. (Trust me, there will be plenty - I have the propensity to always take myself too seriously or nowhere near seriously enough, the end result is almost always comedic.)

My other interests (ie, good beer, yoga, crocheting, cleaning hardwood floors (more of an obsession), cooking, traveling, being Greek, and art history) will likely seep into my blogs. I warn you readers now: I am a self proclaimed nerd/dork, this will become evident in subsequent blogs.

So yes - here I go!