Parker Want A Cracker?

Well, it finally happened. Parker’s mastery of speech has progressed enough that he can now repeat almost everything that we say. Consequently, I am now aware of the phrases that I use most often. Here they are in no particular order:

“Oh my!”

“Oh no!”

“Geez.”

“What happened?”

It’s quite comical hearing grown up phrases coming out of my almost two year old’s mouth. Thankfully, they’ve all been G-rated so far, but with the football season here, it’s only a matter of time before Parker is in the room when the Irishman is watching a Steeler’s game. I don’t know what possesses him, but when the game is on, he’s incapable of censorship. It’s as if he’s mentally in another dimension and loses all concept of the fact that our living room is not Hines Field.

I think that the only solution is for the Irishman to watch games at a sports bar until we can introduce the concept of “ear muffs” to the little man.

Double Digits

Well, I finally did it! I completed my first 10 mile run this morning. There was something completely daunting about entering into the double digits, but I was determined to run every step of the 10 miles simply out of principle.

My alarm went off at 5:30am and I stumbled across the house bleary-eyed to get dressed. Luckily, I laid out all of my gear ahead of time so that I could just mechanically put it on. I grabbed my phone, keys and water (also strategically placed ahead of time) and hopped into the car to drive out to our rendezvous point.

We decided to run two 5 mile loops. Kasey set out water ahead of time at the 4 mile point so that we could hydrate at 4 and 9 miles. I was also heartened by the perfect weather. The digital clock outside of the bank that I pass on my way over read 61 degrees and there was virtually no humidity.

We set out at a nice, easy pace and the first 5 miles seemed to fly by. We’ve been running together for a while now, so we fluctuated between easy conversation and comfortable silences. I am happy to report that I didn’t feel any discomfort in my legs at all in the first 5 miles. Actually, that limber leg feeling lasted until about mile 8 when I started noticing some tightness in my calves and ankles. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel winded at any point in time (there are some decent uphill stretches) and once we hit pace, my legs seemed to carry me of their own accord with very little encouragement needed.

I think a big part of that was that I had completely committed to having a strong run this morning. The marathon is just over 3 months away and these long runs are really important for making sure that my legs are conditioned enough to make it. It took us about 1 hour and 40 minutes (that’s including two water breaks and two bladder breaks) and we ended going faster than our training plan wanted us to, which was a nice confidence boost.

As I was driving home with the knowledge that the vast majority of people I know (my boys included) were probably just stirring in bed, I was filled with a sense of accomplishment. I still had the entire day ahead of me to organize, clean and decorate…and ice my poor battered feet.

Fall Is Here!

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This is without a doubt my favorite time of year. On the first day of fall, North Florida got the memo that cooler weather was supposed to arrive and I’ve been enjoying it all week. I had no idea when I left Chicago that the 50 degree mornings would follow me home, but sure enough, it was 52 degrees for our Thursday morning run and we were loving it.

The last couple of years, I haven’t been able to fully enjoy the fall holiday season. Two years ago, I was very pregnant and was more into decorating the nursery than the rest of the house. Last year, I was working from home with a 10-month old while finishing my dissertation and my sleep-deprived self had not an ounce of attention to spare for anything else. This year, however, I am bubbling over with excitement to decorate for fall. I’ve dedicated five hours of my schedule tomorrow to making the house festive.

It’s not just the cooler weather and my favorite color palette that make fall my favorite season. I’m mildly obsessed with all of the fall rituals like baking, shopping for Christmas presents, carving pumpkins and picking Halloween costumes. I always want something to look forward to and this season is bursting at the seems will fall festivals and holidays. We jump from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas without missing a beat. It feels a little frantic with all of the preparation and planning, but I like feeling busy and mildly chaotic.

Plus, Parker is just getting to the age that he can knowingly participate in picking a costume and unwrapping his presents. My secret reason for wanting a child is that I now get the chance to pass on traditions to him. I have so many wonderful memories of baking with my mom and listening to Christmas music with my dad that I can’t wait to give Parker the same kind of carefree childhood that I had.

On second thought, I don’t think that I can wait until tomorrow to decorate. I think that I need to go shopping right now to get started! Oh, and I promise to send all of you cookies when I get to the baking portion of the festivities.

Detoxification

I woke up yesterday feeling slugging and lethargic. Being a morning person, that is not normal for me. Usually, I’m disgustingly cheerful and productive from the second that I open my eyes. However, considering all of the junk that I consumed in Chicago, I shouldn’t be remotely surprised. The downside to eating a healthy diet is that your body lets you know the second that you deviate from that course. Last week was particularly horrific – I had a coke for the first time in like a year! Ack!

So, I decided that it’s definitely time to detox. Sort of like a pre-marathon cleansing. I’m also putting the skids on alcoholic drinks until January 12, 2009 (with the exception of my professional conference in mid-November) because I can’t afford any more late mornings. Plus, I kind of feel like I’m wasting my money on all of the organic produce that I buy when I’m chasing it with vodka.

The way that I detox is pretty simple. I cut out all caffeine, processed foods and most saturated fats. I stick mainly to raw foods (heavy emphasis on fruits and veggies) and I supplement this diet with a daily raw enzyme drink, a detoxifying tea and tons of water. I usually start out doing it for one week, but it almost always extends to two (with the exception of the caffeine, which I add back in immediately). It’s amazing how much better I feel already after just 24 hours.

I’m also happy to report that I had no difficulty whatsoever waking up at 5:30am when my alarm went off to hit the track for some interval runs. (Ok, I had a single moment where I yelled, “turn off the blasted alarm already!” but I quickly came to my senses and got my gear on so that I didn’t leave Kasey hanging in the pitch black morning to run by herself.)

Chicago: Reader’s Digest Version

Man, what a cool city! In case I had any delusions that I would be happy living in a rural town, this past week reminded me how much of a city girl I really am. The scores of beautiful people, the shopping, the Starbucks, the bars…it was everything that we wanted it to be. Add in the perfect weather and we couldn’t have planned a more perfect trip.

Our flight left really early on Tuesday morning and we had an awesome view of the sunrise above the clouds. (Pay no mind to the dirty airplane window).

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We arrived around lunch time and checked into our fabulous hotel. We stayed at the Sheraton on the river, which had amazingly soft beds (I confess to sleeping 12 hours straight our second night there).

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Then, we went straight to the Navy Pier to check things out there since it was just a short walk from our hotel.

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I was being silly and chatted with a bronze statue of Bob Newhart. That’s another thing I miss about big cities – all of the crazy people. I can do things in Chicago that would make me feel completely ridiculous here…like sit and chat with bronze statues.

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We had dinner that night at a local brewery and had fun “networking” at the hotel bar, which was home to a number of conferences.

The next three days, we were all business. We went to the University of Chicago’s Gleacher Center, which was right across the street from our hotel to attend our HLM workshop.

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This was the classroom where we convened for statistical enlightenment (That’s my buddy K in the green sweater).

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I have to say that we both learned a lot of the reasoning behind each step of the statistical technique. More importantly, we’re now on a first name basis with the two distinguished professors who taught the course. In case you were wondering, yes, we did get them to sign our books!

We also went on an architectural boat tour and these are some of the cool shorts that I took during that excursion.

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The week ended with a crazy night out (and a couple of Irish Car Bombs), but we had a great time. All in all, I was ready to come back home and see my boys, but I did so with some great memories, some random business cards and a new pair of designer jeans (of course).

30 Degrees Difference

Greetings from Chicago! I’m saving a full report for when I get back and upload my pictures, but I wanted to post a quick update. We have really lucked out here because the weather has been simply gorgeous. The high has been in the 70s during the day with beautiful blue skies.

This morning, I went out for a run in downtown Chicago. I weaved through the city and headed out to the Navy Pier. The temperature was in the 50s went I left the hotel with minimal humidity. Now, even when I go running at 6am in Tallahassee, it’s usually already in the 80s and sticky. It’s amazing how much difference 30 degrees makes for running.

I had a thin jacket on when I got started and I only needed it long enough to get warmed up. The constant stream of a cool breeze kept my body temperature down so that I didn’t feel like I was going to spontaneously combust (a common feeling in the Tallahassee heat). It did take me slightly longer to warm up, but once I did, I was able to maintain my cruising speed for much longer without having to slow down when I got over heated.

I thought that I would be annoyed by having to wait for green lights, but all of the lights were pretty coordinated so I didn’t get caught at too many. When I was forced to stop, it was a nice little break, before I took off again. All in all, it was the best run that I had in a long time. I came back to the hotel after a handful of miles feeling refreshed and ready to go. Even though Tallahassee is a couple months away from cooling down, I’m eagerly anticipating the cool morning runs that await me in the not too distant future.

I have two more days in Chicago and I can assure you that I will hit the pavement on both mornings.

Chi-Town

So, I’m very excited to report that I’m leaving for Chicago tomorrow. My friend K and I have been anticipating this trip for almost six months now. Today is like Christmas Eve for a couple of die hard academics because this trip is like a trip to the Statistics Mecca. We’re going to attend a three-day workshop on Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) with the two founders of the statistical technique and my palms are sweating with anticipation. (Don’t be jealous, I can certainly share my notes with all of you when I get back.)

HLM was the technique that I used to analyze the sentencing data for my dissertation. While I’ve previously taken an HLM class, there’s nothing like an intensive workshop to help achieve mastery of the technique. Since I’m no longer in school, workshops and seminars are the way for me to keep on top of what’s current in the social sciences. Plus, these workshops totally appeal to the geek in me. I secretly covet them.

While I understand that statistics workshops aren’t every one’s idea of a good time, I’m sure that we’ll get in a lot of shopping, bar hopping and pizza after the class breaks for the day. Randomly, one of my triathlon training partners is going to be in Chicago the exact same days as I am AND staying at the same hotel. That means that we can wake up at 6am and go running through downtown on Wednesday and Friday morning. Statistics and running at 6am…it just doesn’t get any better than that!

As always, I’ll have my camera with me, so I’ll be sure to share all of our Chi-Town fun. We leave on an early flight tomorrow, so I better get packing…