14 December 2009

Lazy...

I'm stretching out the off-season even further. I'm still recovering from last week's marathon of 6 almost-all nighters in a row and the few days after the end of the semester are traditionally the few days where I do nothing but rot in front of the computer and tv. After two days of doing this, I feel absolutely gross and am more than happy to get back into a routine, but today was only day one of laziness. I don't think I'm going to the pool in the morning. Maybe I will run, but it's more likely that I will sleep.

I wasn't a complete waste of space this weekend though. I did an indoor triathlon up in Maryland with my old co-workers and came in 7th overall out of men and women and 2nd for women. I did surprisingly well on the bike. In the spin room they were showing the 2007 Hawaii Ironman and that was enough motivation right there - the 30 minutes on the bike flew by. The run and swim were not so painless, unfortunately. Brunch after the race made it all worth it. This was truly the last triathlon of 2009. Besides Ironman France and Ironman Wisconsin, I don't have anything else on my schedule. Better start planning!

Off to bed, I've watched 5 straight hours of tv. GROSS!

A Love Story


Wedding photo - 8 Sep 06


I am REALLY good at remembering dates - it's one of my odd talents. I'm even good at remembering the day of the week those dates occurred on. For example, Mark and I first saw each other on Wednesday 6 Oct 04. And it took over a month for us to actually first talk. And today marks five years to the day that we first said we loved each other. Monday 12 Dec 04 in the Harris Teeter parking lot - it may not sound romantic, but it was perfect. We were heading into the grocery store to pick up something to cook for dinner, and we both just had an overwhelming urge to say it.
Perhaps you'd like to hear the story of how Mark and I met? I think it's very cute, but I may be a little biased.

So, Mark and I may have seen each other for the first time
on 6 Oct, but we didn't actually have a conversation until 11 Nov. Instead, during that whole month of being too shy to say anything to each other, I would just walk by his office about 5 times a day, hoping that he'd notice and we'd eventually have a conversation. I guess he did notice me and was trying to slyly figure out my name and such, because one day I walked by his office when he was talking to a co-worker and that co-worker chased me down, asked me who I was, and then said, "Follow me, you have an admirer down the hall that I want to introduce you to." She walked me down to his office, introduced us, and then just walked away. We were both blushing like mad, ended up chatting for about 20 minutes, and had our first date the next night, and got engaged exactly 8 months after that. Until I met Mark, I never believed it when people said, "when you meet the right person, you just know." But it's true, I knew there was something special literally from the moment I first saw him.

And so, to the best husband in the world, thank you for making these past five years wonderful and I can't wait for many, many more!

Here are a couple pictures from the early years, heehee!
First photo together - SAIC holiday party 2004. I think it looks like we're going to prom.


Engagement photo from fantastic photographer Lara Woolfson!




A little karaoke the night before our wedding.

12 December 2009

Homestretch... just like the Ironman finishing chute

I realize that I've spent the past 4, well, 7 months griping and fretting over my Substantial Research Projects (SRP), the capstone to my graduate school career. Back in May when I finished classes, I got a bad case of senioritis. Since I had no more classes to attend, it was practically like I was out of school, right? And unfortunately, my actions reflected that attitude ALLLL summer long and I was smacked with a big dose of reality when September arrived. I scrambled to write my SRP proposals in time to get them approved, I hemmed and hawed about exactly what angle I was going to take with the papers. [note - it is papers PLURAL. I was young, naiive, and stupid and felt I had to get my money's worth of my education. I chose to do two SRPs than just one SRP and have my job count as an internship (I would've had to pay for the credits and saw no sense in paying for something I do every day). NEVER AGAIN]. And then I put my procrastination skills to work, as buying a new house, training for and doing Ironman, and changing jobs all took precedent. Until all of those changes/activities were behind me and suddenly my very sorry-looking SRPs were staring me in the face, with a looming deadline hovering over us all. I had no choice. Do or do not, there is no try. I needed to get my academic cap on, and fast!

So anyways, here I sit at 2:30am on a Friday night/Saturday morning writing the last few paragraphs of the last paper of my graduate school career. This past week has been a frantic scramble to do some serious editing of both papers, essentially giving them each makeovers that lasted well over 12 hours apiece. I've eaten little and drank buckets of coffee (I NEVER drink coffee. Ever.) and slept maybe 4 hours a night, never going to bed before 3am. I'm on record to keep that streak alive tonight as well. But that's okay because tonight is the last night I have to work on this paper. You see, I submitted one of my papers yesterday and I've reached a point with my other one that I feel it isn't a total piece of crap or a disservice to my 2+ years of grad school. I will be done with graduate school in a matter of hours and I am SO EXCITED. And, oddly enough, a little nostalgic at the same time. It has been a long two years and I've learned a lot, grown a lot, and started to figure out where my professional interest and passions lie. I'm happy to say that International Peace and Conflict Resolution was the right degree program for me. These last few paragraphs are a little like the finishers chute at Ironman. You slow down a bit, think back to everything you've accomplished, take it all in and feel a swell of pride. You know that the loooonnngggg journey is almost over and you are just moments away from eternal relaxation. And that's why you feel like you are floating in those last few minutes and you are actually enjoying yourself. [disclaimer - I was too hungry to actually feel those feelings at my last Ironman; all I cared about is food. But this description does accurately describe how I felt during my first Iron Distance race.]

And so now I sign off, ready to finish off the last few paragraphs of my grad school career! Hooray! Bring on the sleep and the triathlon training!

09 December 2009

Trading workout clothes for pajamas

For the last I-don't-know-how-many-days I have gotten home from work, immediately changed into my pajamas, pink sweatshirt, and ugly brown sweater (much cheaper to layer up than turn up the heat now that our living space has expanded beyond two rooms), and sat down in the guest bedroom and written my SRPs (substantial research project - code for capstone papers) for HOURS. I am itching (literally - thank you school-induced hives) to reach the day where I again put on my workout clothes after work and let a swim, bike or run royally kick my butt. And you know what - this day is literally hours away. Like, less than 48 hours away. I gave a presentation on one of my SRPs today (Community role in reintegration of youth ex-combatants in Uganda and Sierra Leone) and it went fairly well. The questions people asked pointed out some items I may want to expand on/improve on my paper. And while waiting for Mark to get out of class and pick me up from campus, some of my alt-break Nepal buddies and I got together and reminisced about the amazing trip we took six months ago. Everything from the jungle dance party (awesome) to carsickness during 9 hour van rides on mountain roads (not so awesome) to our Nepali guides and friends Soucil ("I have nothing negative to report"), Sanu ("This is the best ever time of my life), Hari and Krishna (yes, those are really their names and they were awesome), Rajan (Fantastic, OK?!) and Prakash (always on the search for a wife; he was in heaven surrounded by 9 college girls). I'm looking forward to having alot more time to devote to volunteering with the International Commission for Dalit Rights, Nepal was definitely a life-changing experience. Here are some pictures of the people who made our trip amazing.

DB, Soucil and Hari at a Buddhist temple in Lumbini.

Rajan and Prakash at Krishna's birthday dinner

Sanu, looking beautiful, says goodbye

Soucil and DB looking debonair in Kathmandu

Krishna and Prakash at the orphanage in the Terai

06 December 2009

I Love this City

So this morning I headed out to Pacers in Pentagon City with my friend Brad (Look Brad, I figured out how to hyperlink - thanks!) to partake in a little group run/autograph action with Ryan Hall and his wife Sara. I'd heard about this event via a Pacers e-mail a few weeks ago and definitely wanted to go. I still have work to do on my papers, but how often do you get to go for a group run with an Olympian? Obviously paper writing was set aside for this morning. Brad brought a Runners World with Ryan Hall on the cover to be signed. I brought my 2009 Boston Marathon bib with me to be signed (hey, I was going to frame it anyway, now it just has a little extra bling).

The Halls arrived and we were all out the door running within five minutes of their arrival. They seem to be really nice and down-to-earth, they were chatting with everyone during the run, Sara staying near the front of the pack and Ryan mingling in the back. He and I were both wondering if these sort of events were enjoyable for them. I mean, it really must be kind of awkward, you walk into a store and there's a crowd of people who immediately start taking pictures. And then they just bombard you with questions while you are trying to run. And there were a few that were kind of creepy/geeky/and stalkerish that I would've told to just buzz off, but the Halls are much more gracious than I and were polite and engaging with everyone, even the creepy ones.

The run itself turned out to be great. It was a six mile loop, the longest I've run since Ironman 29 days ago, and even though the weather was cold, it was also beautiful and sunny. We ran from Pentagon City, past the Pentagon, over the Memorial Bridge, past the Lincoln Memorial, along the reflecting pool, past the WWII Memorial, and then did a turnaround at the Washington Monument and headed back the way we came. I haven't run through the city in awhile and I forget how cool it is that we live here and all of the monuments are within running distance of my house. At the reflecting pool, we passed by a very enthusiastic group of tourists from somewhere in Asia - they began hooting, hollering, and waving as we blew through. While we were running, I was thinking to myself, "I wonder if any of these pedestrians we are running by know that one of the best, if not THE best, American distance runners is in their midst." For the most part, the celebrity of the great runners seems to be confined to the within the bounds of the running community. They really aren't national sports figures, they don't appear in the major Sports Illustrated-type magazines, and they probably don't get mobbed walking down the street or going grocery shopping. They do their training on quiet back roads, most of their races aren't televised and receive very little printed coverage. It just struck me as funny when compared to other sports figures. I'm sure that any Redskins or Capitols player would get run over by a crowd of people if they were ever out for a jog around the Mall.

Anyway, the run went surprisingly well. I didn't wear my Garmin or HRM so I have no idea what speed I was going or what zone I was in. The first two miles were uncomfortably fast and I was definitely feeling the fact that I haven't done a good, hard run in awhile. But then I loosened up and by the end, I felt like I could've kept going. It was a great way to start off the day.

Back at Pacers, Brad and I successfully got our running paraphernalia autographed. Again, the Halls were good sports, signing all sorts of stuff and smiling in pictures that everyone wanted to take with them. The main purpose of them being there was to raise money for their foundation to alleviate poverty in Africa, the Hall Steps Foundation (twice in one post, Brad!). So when it was my turn for an autograph, I gave them a donation and told them that I think the work the foundation is doing is really important and it's great that they have committed to something like that. They looked happily surprised that I wasn't trying to talk to them about running and really seemed to take the compliment to heart.

So, all in all, a pretty good day. And all before noon!

03 December 2009

Random Musings...

With my papers still hanging over my head, training isn't going to be happening anytime soon. I'll make it out for a run or two this weekend, maybe hop on the trainer, but I haven't set foot in my running shoes since last Saturday and I'm actually okay with that. Sooooo, that said, there is NOTHING new to report on the training front because, ummmm, I'm not doing ANYTHING!

When taking little breaks from slaving away at my SRPs, I like to surf iTunes for various songs I used to listen to in college. I listen to music on a daily basis now, but when I was in college, I listened to music ALL of the time. My boyfriend at the time was really into music (fortunately we had similar tastes) so I was constantly getting mix CDs and store-bought CDs, and listening to them 24/7. When I think of sophomore year, I think of The Corrs and Dave Matthews; junior year was French pop/rap, Justin Timberlake (thank you Erin!), Nelly and the Corrs; and senior year was Matt Nathanson, John Mayer, Amanda Marshall (I woke up with a snake tattoo!) and a whole bunch of songs from Dawsons Creek (blaming that on the 4 month 3 hour daily marathon of the show in Spring 2003 - thank goodness I didn't have morning classes that semester!). Thanks to Napster, I amassed a ton of songs on my laptop and many of them successfully made it onto various mix CDs I made during college. I had a small travel case for my favorite CDs, which included many of these mixes, and that travel case went EVERYWHERE with me - NH, Vermont, Europe, etc. I had a workout mix, a dance party mix, a sleep mix. My awesome best friend Erin made me a great mix CD for my bachelorette party a few years ago - I think she even put "Breathless" by the Corrs on there twice! Anyway, I listened to that sleep mix EVERY NIGHT when I was lived in Nice, France during the summer of 2002. Anytime I hear any of the songs that were on that CD, I immediately remember my dark, dark little studio apartment with a tiny window that faced a concrete wall, the Old Town, "pasta with lardons" (yup, just as unhealthy as it sounds), 79 cent wine, days at the beach, and my impoverished, yet happy and satisfied existence on the French Riviera. Unfortunately, that CD, along with many of my other great mix CDs that were kept in that travel case, disappeared sometime during one of my six moves in the past 5 years. So now I troll iTunes, trying to remember what songs I had on those CDs, and snatch them up when I'm feeling particularly frustrated or bored with my SRP-writing. I just found a few more long-lost songs, hence the memories and this post.

And back to the paper-writing I go!

Off-Season Means.. Another non-triathlon related post!

This will be quick, I just need a distraction from the schoolwork I am drowning in at the moment. First - I'm feeling super lazy. I have a buddha belly, I'm eating more than my fair share of chocolate, and I already finished off the pretzels and pita chips that were supposed to serve as my work snacks for the week. But school is seriously kicking my butt, the weather has been crummy, and although I miss feeling in shape, it's nice to not HAVE to go work out. In fact, all of this time off is probably beneficial to my overall health, maybe my body will even be thanking me down the road for getting fat and lazy over the past few weeks. Thank goodness the high school reunion is over and I don't have a major race for months!

My papers are chugging along. I'm past the 40 page barrier on both of them - pg 47 on one and pg 42 on the other. I will have NO problem reaching the 50 page mark on either one of them. The REAL challenge will be making my papers into coherent, intelligent-sounding pieces of printed art. I want to be more proud of these two SRPs (substantial research projects - capstone project for my grad program in International Peace and Conflict Resolution) than I ever was about my French thesis senior year of undergrad. And I think I am well on my way. First - they are in English and my English is waaaaayyyyy better than my French. Second - I wrote my French thesis on the notion of "pantheism" in a literary work of Jean Giono. Now I'm writing my SRPs on 1) the reintegration of youth ex-combatants and the role of community in that process (case studies of Sierra Leone and Uganda); and 2) the role of culture in the perpetuation of caste-based discrimination in Nepal. Both far more interesting subjects, as well as far more meaningful and useful, than the notion of pantheism in a Jean Giono novel (no offense, Jean). And although I've felt like I've been in over my head over these past three months, it's getting better. The rough drafts are almost done. I just need to do some serious editing, polishing, and ensuring that I've made the points I want to make and hit on the relevant theories. If anything, doing these two projects sure makes me realize how lucky I am. My biggest complaint is that I don't have enough time to do everything I want/need to do. The situations I'm writing about affect people in such negative ways it's hard to imagine. They work all day because they HAVE to; they can't go to school because there ISN'T a school, kids half my age have seen more violence than I'll ever see in a lifetime, and the list goes on. And when you really think about it, people are resilient. When it gets down to it, when they have no other choice, people have the capacity to deal with trauma, make the best of the situation, and move on with life. We're pretty sheltered here in middle-class America. We're pretty lucky here in middle-class America. I'm thankful for everything that I have. Even my SRPs.