Friday, April 27, 2012

The Lottery Results Are In......

After much funfare on Wednesday morning/afternoon, I was left not knowing whether I was IN for NYC marathon or not.  What I gathered from the at replies to @INGNYmarathon, there was some sort of major failure with the announcing, as we were to "check back later" yet the NYC marathon page said our profile logins would be down until Thursday at 10a.m.  Hmm... ok, so much for all that hoopla I guess!

I started to see that people were "finding out" via credit card charges so I logged on to mine a few times to see if there had been a charge.  Nada.  Interesting enough a few times the Capital One site stalled out on me.  I had to laugh thinking that hundreds of thousands of NYC marathon lotto peeps were probably doing the same thing.  (if not, whatever, just let me have my laughter!)

Later in the afternoon I got an email from Tom saying HE WAS IN! And that the login pages were back up and functioning.  I logged in, and wasn't surprised to see this:

Not sure what I expected the lottery process to be like, but with all of the hype surrounding the announcement I got pumped, and then royally bummed, without even knowing if I was in or not.  I'm sure the huge amounts of lotto entrants and then the number of people that flooded the site didn't help, but I feel like they should have a good guage on that based on previous years, right?  Hmm..  Anyway, by the time I found out I wasn't in.  I didn't really care anymore.  Hohum.

I emailed Jenn and Megan, that this was a dark sign for our Nike Women's Marathon selection that was to occur "sometime the end of the month."  Way to keep it vague Nike.

Imagine my surprise when I woke up to several texts from Megan to "OPEN YOUR EMAIL!  WE'RE IN!!"

HOLY CRAP!  That was the kind of lotto selection excitement I was looking for!  Too funny that they'd come within ~15 hours of each other.

I swear I didn't even ask that they do the graphics in green and gold... but I like it.  :D  So I'll be heading out west for the fall.  I can't wait for a re-do of Philly with two of my favorite girls in the world.  If I could've only gotten in to one of these races, things worked out just the way I wanted.  :)

Now that I have some answers about these two races, I'm left to decide the rest of my fall race schedule.  Suggestions?  Couches for me to come stay on??

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Book Blunder

My manager at work is a reader, so frequently we'll update each other on what we've read lately and what we think the other one would enjoy.  The other day I came in to work, and she asked if I had read Fifty Shades of Grey.  I said that I hadn't been had just added it to my "to-read" list when I was at Barnes and Nobles the other day.  It looked good, but like it could be a really heart-wrenching read.  She said it was good so far, but there were some definitely "dirty" parts to it.  Which confused me... a lot.

So I looked up the book that I thought she had recommended:

Between Shades of Gray (Goodreads synapsis)
It's 1941 and fifteen-year-old artist Lina Vilkas is on Stalin's extermination list. Deported to a prison camp in Siberia, Lina fights for her life, fearless, risking everything to save her family. It's a long and harrowing journey and it is only their incredible strength, love, and hope that pull Lina and her family through each day. But will love be enough to keep them alive?

and realized it was not, in fact, Fifty Shades of Grey:

(Goodreads synapsis)
When literature student Anastasia Steele is drafted to interview the successful young entrepreneur Christian Grey for her campus magazine, she finds him attractive, enigmatic and intimidating. Convinced their meeting went badly, she tries to put Grey out of her mind - until he happens to turn up at the out-of-town hardware store where she works part-time.

The unworldly, innocent Ana is shocked to realize she wants this man, and when he warns her to keep her distance it only makes her more desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her - but on his own terms.

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey's singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success – his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving adoptive family – Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a passionate, physical and daring affair, Ana learns more about her own dark desires, as well as the Christian Grey hidden away from public scrutiny.

Can their relationship transcend physical passion? Will Ana find it in herself to submit to the self-indulgent Master? And if she does, will she still love what she finds?

Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.

Yes, definitely not the book I was thinking of....

But now, of course I have to read it immediately.

Finding Your Next Book

This isn't going to become a book blog, but reading is one of my passions and a lot of you runners are also readers and having reading related questions, so if that's not your cup o' tea click "mark as read."  :)  You won't hurt my feelings.  But my book loving soul may cry just a little bit... just to be clear.

One of the biggest questions I get asked is "How do you find the next book to read?"  So I thought that'd be a fun topic to discuss.  I've always been a reader.  Interesting fun fact, my family thought I was a child prodigy when I was reading my books to my grandma and parents at the age of 2 1/2.  Turns out I was just read to so much that I had the books memorized and knew when to turn the pages.

I have several strategies for finding my next read, and they've changed over the years.

Browsing the Shelves
One of my favorite things to do is walk up and down book shelves.  In libraries, there will usually be a shelf of "new fiction" books displayed, or even a "librarian's favorites" shelf displaying recommendations.  My favorite "me" time activity is to head to Barnes & Noble, get a latte, and browse the shelves for my next great read.  I have the handy dandy goodreads app for my droid, so I can scan the barcode and add the books that I want right to my "to-read" list.  Pretty freaking handy.

Reading Other Books by An Author You Like
Once I find an author that I adore, it becomes a mad rush to read anything and everything they've ever written.  This is probably a given, but still notable.

Searching Amazon
This used to be one of my older "tricks."  I would search amazon for my top 10 favorite recent reads, and find books based on their recommendations towards the bottom "if you read this, you may enjoy this...."  I found a lot of great books this way.  Haven't used it for awhile now.  Now whenever I log in to Amazon it suggests library and information science textbooks since that's all I've bought from them in the last year.  :)

Checking out Goodreads
Goodreads is one of my favorite sites.  Top 5 for sure.  I don't know how many "book lists" I've started and abandoned over the years.  I have a book journal that I recorded books read and summaries for approximately 9 months before I got bored of it, and thousands of scraps of paper floating around from my previously mentioned Barnes and Noble trips.  To be able to consolidate these in to one convenient place that I can literally access from anywhere (provided I have an internet connection), yes please!  I love to view the feed to see what my friends are checking out.  I'll add what they loved, and possibly remove what they hated.  Plus it's fun to interact with those that are reading a book that you ZOMG loved or hated.

Goodreads find a book

Goodreads also has a new feature built in to get book selections based on your library "shelves."  Since I don't sort my books in to shelves very frequently, I haven't used this very much.  The few times I've ran it, some of the books they suggested were books on my to read shelf, so it appears the algorhithm they use is legit.  I know there was a huge buzz about it prior to its release.  Let me know if you use it and it's grand!

Book lists
There are so many book lists out there, top 100 classics, top ten novels of 2010, top ten YA novels of 2011, etc.  Always a great place to get an idea.  

So now you know why my "to-read" list is 200+ books long.  I clearly have no problem finding my next great book to read.  Problem is finding enough time to read them at the rate that I'm adding them.   BRB taking a mental health month to catch up on my reading for fun!

Beeteedubs, I'm not in anyway affiliated with goodreads or barnes and noble, and am getting no compensation of any kind for my tips and tricks.  Just to be clear.  But if they wanted to hook a sistah up with some free books, it would be a nice thank you.  jaaaaaaaaykaaaaaaay.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Headed Back "Home"

If I run the race again, the Packers are sure to win the Super Bowl again right?  That was solely my reasoning anyway........

Hopefully there's a lot of this:

(heel strike?  What heel strike?!?! jk)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bit By the Bug Yet Again

Perhaps admitting I was in a funk was the cure to getting me out of the funk.  Or perhaps I just admitted I was in one on the tail end of it.  Regardless, no more than a week after admitting to my running friends that I was burned out, and likely taking 2012 off from any marathons, I found myself entering two lotteries....

Nike Women's Marathon

New York City Marathon

The way these things work, is that I'll either get in to both, and have to start selling my body to afford the trips (jk mom!  kinda...) or I'll get in to neither.  And I'm kind of ok with both options.  At the same time that I was being wreckless with my precious monies, I was starting to l-o-v-e running again.  In my second to last week of school of the sememester, I found myself caught up on projects, and even ahead of the game.  Combine that with Kyle being out of town for almost two weeks, and I have SO MUCH FREAKIN' TIME ON MY HANDS.  I've been contemplating doing double days just for funsies (and then I remember that I break... a lot, and put that idea on the back burner).

And as if on cue, my hip hurts this evening after penning this post this morning.  Go figure.  Perhaps some ice cream will cure it.  BRB rehabbing.

Monday, April 16, 2012

May, The Light At The End of the Tunnel

When the students in the cohort ahead of us spoke to us at orientation last August, they weren't kidding.  "Your spring semester.... be prepared.  It's not easy.  You will lose your mind."  (Rough quote, of course).  The amount of major papers and projects that I have to complete during this month are kind of terrifying.

I'm currently counting down to May when I have an entire month off from school.  Every time I think of something I really want to do, read, see, watch, etc. I put it on my list for "To-Do in May."  Based on my list, you'd think that I didn't have to work in May, but you'd be wrong.

Currently my list o' fun includes:
  • Reading Stephen King's 11/22/63.
  • Watching Modern Family from the start.
  • Pack my apartment for a move.
  • Watching MadMen from the beginning.
  • Volunteer at the library.
  • Vampire Diaries?  (uh... maybe I accidentally started watching this while procrastinating a school project....)
  • Pretty Little Liars?
  • Watch Downton Abbey
  • Attend a book club meeting.
  • Run with friends as much as possible (May is usually the most awesome month for training, and lucky for me I won't be injured from a marathon this year!)
  • Get in some biking miles.
  • Hang out with all of my friends. I don't now how many times I've said, "sorry I can't, but get ahold of me in May I'll SO HAVE TIME TO BE YOUR FRIEND AGAIN!!"
Any other area of pop culture I should quickly catch up on?!?!  Get me caught up on 2011-2012 you guys!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Fighting It....

Burn out.

Finally... I'm admitting it.  Saturday I met up with a local group run for my recovery run, and while running found myself saying, "yes, I'm sooooooo burned out."  Wait... what??  I am?!?!  Uh yeah.  I've been fighting it for awhile.  February maybe?  And I'm sure everyone knew it before I did.  Or at least before I was willing to admit it.

When my mom and I were driving home from the race last weekend (yes, the race that was so poor and not fun I didn't even bother writing a race report for) she said, "Do you remember after you did the Philly Marathon with your friends?  You said it was the most fun you had ever had running.  Why don't you just run for fun and quit putting so much pressure on yourself??"  And she has a point.  I long for the days when I first started running where every long run was a new personal distance record.  And 99% of the races were PRs because you were still in the green stage of running.

And then I thought about why I love to run:

  • I love to be competitive with myself.
  • I love to push myself to a point that I see improvements in my race times.
  • I love seeing what I am capable of.
So sorry mom, doesn't look like "running for fun" is anywhere on my list.  It's the accomplishments that make it fun for me.  I know everyone is different.  And everyone is motivated differently, so I suppose it's important to come to this realization.  

Instead of ho-hum-woe-is-me'ing it anymore, I've decided to try to de-funkify my running to the best of my abilities.  This is what I've come up with so far.

Run with Friends
I had a great long run with a friend Friday night.  Sometimes I'm too type A with my training paces and HR zones to give up control and run with someone else without being able to dictate and control everything.  For the most part it's impossible to link up my current schedule with my friends.  One busy person + one busy person = no overlap in training.  I definitely need to make it a point to try to run with a friend once a week.  Gives you something to look forward to, and helps to calm the training brain crazies when you have someone to discuss crazies with.

Plan New Goals
One of the things I miss about no longer being a "new" runner is training to complete a crazy endurance goal.  Now when I line up for a race, I know that barring anything catastrophic I will cross the finish line.  Some ideas I've been toying around with are a 100 mile endurance ride, a sprint tri, or possibly an ultra.  An ultra would be fun, and I essentially volunteered Krista to run with me when I finally decide to do one, I know that until I get my injury issues worked out that would be a bad idea.  Also I can't imagine finding time for long runs on both Saturday and Sunday.  But definitely once school is done.  A sprint tri would be fun, Megan almost has me convinced on this one.  And in return, I might have her convinced to join me for that century ride.  Friendship is give and take no?

Run for Fun
On my shakeout run pre-race last Friday night, I took along my phone and snapped some pictures.  I didn't worry about time. I'm not sure if I stopped my watch on my photo ops.  And got to snap some fun pictures.

So tell me, what are your cures for burn out?  

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Books By the Quarter: 1/4

I meant to start a monthly book review on the ol' blog, but before I knew it, it was halfway through January, then the end of February, and now it's April.  What in the world?  Where is my time going??  Despite having zero free time, I have still managed to keep up on my reading "for fun."  Usually it's just my hour lunch break (the ones that I'm not reading text books), but I figure it's time spent on my future, right?

I set a goal of reading 52 books yet again this year, and am currently at 23.  Um... oops.  Apparently I could've aimed a bit higher.  Part of this is due to some time spent listening to audiobooks.


I started The House of Night series (Marked: A House of Night Novel ) at the start of the year.  I've heard it reviewed as Harry Potter meets Twilight.  Well... not quite, but it's fairly entertaining, about a young vampire fledgling who attends vampire finishing school.  While I enjoy the series (so far) I would NOT recommend the audiobooks.  The horrible teen slang imitations and whiny tones are almost unbearable.  I'd imagine reading with your own voices in your head would be much more endurable.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian was such an amazing re-canting of a young Native American's tale of growing up, narrated by the author himself. Found myself laughing outloud many times.
Rating: *****

Still Alice is not necessary a book I would recommend on audiobook vs. reading, but it was a great book regardless.  The main character is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's, and it was truly a heart-wrenching tale.  I found myself not wanting to listen to it, because I was scared as to where it was going to progress.  I really really enjoyed it, despite the sad topic.

I've been meaning to read The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1) forever, and finally listened to it on audiobook. It was pretty entertaining and took me back to grade school learning Greek mythology. I'll likely listen to the rest on audiobook as well.
Rating: ****

Young Adult

Another of my beloved genres is young adult books.  I'd like to be a children's/young adult librarian so I suppose it makes sense that I read this (paying no attention to the fact that I'm a sucker for the dystopian/end of the world genre that is all the rage right now).

I vowed to finish all the series I was in the middle of before starting any new ones.  That... didn't last.  However, I did read Specials (#3 in the Uglies series).

 I enjoyed this series. I opted to not read the 4th book because it's technically a trilogy, and it almost seems like the 4th one is an afterthought to cash in on the series. Let me know if you've read it and loved it. Rating: ****

 Continuing on the Pretty Little Liars trend so far this year I've knocked out:
  Pretty Little Liars #7: Heartless Rating: ****

  Pretty Little Liars #8: Wanted Rating: ****

  Pretty Little Liars #9: Twisted Rating: ****

One of the top books I've read in 2012 (and to be honest, in my life) is John Green's The Fault in Our Stars

A truly amazing and heart-wrenching book, but just so beautifully written. Rating: *****

Delirium was one of my favorite YA reads for 2011, so I was thrilled for the follow-up novel in the series Pandemonium (Delirium) , however I felt pretty hohum about it. Wasn't an amazing page turner, but of course it ended on a crazy high note, and now I can't wait for the finale novel.  Rating: ***

I enjoyed the first book in this series on the way home from the Philadelphia Marathon, and I was excited to see where the second book took me Crossed I really enjoyed this book, and it was a great continuation of the first one. Again I'm excited to see where the series ends up. Rating: ****

Breaking my promise to not start any new series without completing my current ones, are Cinder: Book One in the Lunar Chronicles Cinder is essentially a tale of Cinderella set way in the future, only she's a cyborg. Very entertaining. Kinda predictable, but I'm excited to see where the rest of the series goes. Rating: ***

 I was really excited to read Under the Never Sky as it's another dystopian genre book, but it wasn't omg amazing. It was good, but I didn't put it down needing to pick up #2. Which is probably a good thing because this one just came out in January, I think. :) Rating: ***

This was another book that didn't quite live up to my expectations. Why We Broke Up is a novel by Daniel Handler who wrote the Series of Unfortunate Events books, with fun illustrations. I wanted to stop reading it.... multiple times. Ultimately, I'm glad I finished it, because it was good. I was just expecting greatness. Rating: ***

Children's Books

I'm not normally one to pick up a children's book unless I have a kid around who wants me to read to them, but these books by Brian Selznick came highly recommended.

Wonderstruck is the newest book by Selznick and the illustrations were just beautiful. The nice thing about kid's books is that you can read a couple over your lunch break.
Rating: *****

 I managed to pick up The Invention of Hugo Cabret on the same day that Hugo (the movie) came in for me at the library. Not realizing that the movie was based on the book. BAD future librarian! The movie was amazing, and the book was just as delightful. Again, the illustrations are just out of this world. Definitely flip through it next time you have a free moment. Rating: *****

Adult Novels

 The Lover's Dictionary: A Novel is a truly unique book, where the narrator goes through tales of his relationship using each letter of the alphabet as a word that describes a memory or story. I've never read a book like this and it was so good, and left so much of the story to your interpretation. Super quick read.
Rating: *****

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) had me rolling at times. Very entertaining. Mindy Kaling has such quick wit. I really loved learning more about her and her career. I've heard this is amazing on audiobook (I believe she narrates it!) Rating: ****

I think I'm the last runner in the world to read Once a Runner: A Novel but it was so good. After reading on my lunch break, I'd immediately want to take the rest of the day off from work and just run.
Rating: ****

I'm not normally one to pick up a love story (although I am a sucker for Nicholas Sparks books, sue me!) but I thought The Last Letter from Your Lover: A Novel had an interesting take on the typical love story. I don't want to give too much away, but it was two stories woven together and I couldn't get enough of either of them.
 Rating: ****

I tend to read all of Sophie Kinsella's books, and picked up I've Got Your Number: A Novel despite a less than stellar rating. It was entertaining and wholly predictable, but sometimes when your brain is fried from school, that's exactly what you need.
Rating: ***

There you have my book reviews for the first quarter of the year.  Feel free to follow me on goodreads (and send me a message that you read my blog, I tend to not follow those that I don't know on there, it gets overwhelming).  Let me know if you have any good book recs for me as well!  Also, if you click on the links in this post and purchase the book through amazon, I get a penny or two from the sale.  Or you could just support your local library instead.  ;)