Monday, November 21, 2016

Weekend Snapshots: Concerts, Craft Fairs and Thirteen Point One Miles, Oh My!

I missed my deadline last week for Weekend Snapshots. I was busily preparing for the holiday boutique at my gym. Every year I have tried to think of a way to participate, and a few months ago I came up with an idea to create edits of my photography -- specifically, photos I've taken with my iPhone during a run. I created a line of homemade cards called #SeenOnMyRun. My cards were well received, so it gave me the confidence to enter another craft fair the first weekend in December. I'm also toying with the idea of creating an Etsy account.

Kauai: Where even the garden snails are stunning.
 This is a sample of one of my photo edits.
I was in LA all day yesterday for marching band championships, so all of the photos are from the prior weekend with my bestie from second grade: 2 concerts, 13.1 miles, a theme park, and an evening spent playing Cards Against Humanity. It was a very, very good weekend. 

I'm almost finished writing up my Veteran's half marathon review, but I will share my 'Flat Babydoll' (for those unfamiliar, it's race tradition to lay out your race day outfit to recreate a 'flat' version of yourself and take a photo):

Saturday night, we went to see Mr. Doll and his band cover Neil Young songs in a birthday tribute concert, Forever Young. It was an incredible concert, and my favorite Claude show to date. 

The bass player in Claude Hopper is so dreamy!
We took in a view on Sunday morning at my favorite hilltop spiritual retreat, and then drove south to spend the night with a friend from our junior high school days. It was a treat staying with her family, particularly her adorable son. We surprisingly don't have any photos of our evening together with Jax, but check out these views from the seminary:

Pretty red picnic bench under the shade of the oak tree.
Beautiful views all the way to the islands.
We also squeezed in a visit to the beach. I did mention it was an epic weekend, right??

I'm a sucker for piers and photos of piers. 

When you tryna take a selfie and your dogs
shove you out of the frame to make a cameo.
We spent Monday at Universal Studios. It was my second time at Harry Potter World, but it was equally as fabulous! The weather had been unseasonably hot throughout the month, but we lucked out small crowds and with mild 70 degree temperatures.

Dee and Marilyn Monroe deep in conversation
Jazz hands: frog choir at Harry Potter World
All the joy!
Such a pretty fountain!
We had a harrowing drive from Hollywood to Inglewood, but Dee handled it like a champ: 90 minutes to travel 24 miles. We made it to the Forum just in time to see Temple of the Dog take the stage. Totally worth it.

Chris Cornell is my favorite male vocalist. Ever. 
We got home at 2am last Tuesday morning, which made for an interesting day since I had to get up four hours later and take Boydoll to school. Dee and I packed in so much fun over the four days that it felt like a dream. She truly is one of my very favorite people. I have the honor of being her son's godmother, and I am beyond grateful for her friendship.

I'd love to hear about your favorite band! Tell me about the last band you saw in concert in the comments. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

TOL #8: Work Anniversary, The Chocodiles, And Mandatory Dance Routines

This week's edition of Thinking Out Loud is going to be a quick one. I typically write my posts 1-2 days before, but I have been slammed this week. I'm not opposed to staying up late to write, but this week I just didn't have it in me.

Chocodiles. I'm an ambassador for Fit Approach, and their latest campaign on Instagram is for Whistle Pet Tracker. The prompts this week have me posting five consecutive days of dog photos, which got me thinking about how rich my life is for having dogs. They are frequently the bright spot of my day. 

I adore our youngest dog, Cooper. We got him as a companion for our older dog almost four years ago. Cooper is talkative, bratty, and stunningly handsome.  

Cooper is the Jeremy Renner of dogs.
Speaking of Jeremy Renner, here is a photo of Hawkeye wearing a pink Hello Kitty outfit. I love this way more than I should:
Hello Hawkeye!
Riley is our older dog, and he recently celebrated his 8th birthday. He is my best friend. Riley seems to get younger as he gets older, if that makes any sense at all. Part of that is the breed...but he also has way more stamina than Cooper, who is five years younger. No matter how excited Riley is to go somewhere, suiting up into his harness is very serious business: he will always stand very quietly, like the gentleman that he is.

A post shared by Babydoll's Bloggie (@babydoll_brea) on

ElectionIt's been an interesting 48 hours, to say the least. It was also my daughter's first time voting for a president. I was proud her for driving home from college to exercise her right to vote.    

Image result for election memes
I think all candidates should be required to perform 
a dance routine, a la Napoleon Dynamite. Just saying.
Eleven. This month marks my 11th anniversary teaching cycle at the Y. I am so honored for the incredible members who join me each Tuesday and Thursday during their lunch break (or the wee hours of the morning on Wednesday at 5:45am). My spin class closest to a holiday is often a themed event with prizes for the members. There is a sense of community at the Y that I haven't found at other gyms, and I love being part of a non-profit that focuses on health and fitness. 

Crafty. My photo cards are coming along nicely. I am about a third of the way into assembling them, and I will work on spreadsheets and pricing tomorrow. I am such a nerd for this kind of stuff! The craft boutique is next week, and I may do another one depending on the success of this event. The money I earn will go towards my 2018 trip to Japan :) 
Edit of one of the photos I took of a garden snail in
Kauai last August  
Veteran's Day Half Marathon. Yup! It's that time already. I'm hoping my hip (and now my knee) will be good to go this Saturday. One thing is for sure: I am going to TEAR IT UP with my girl, Dee. She gets here tomorrow and we'll run drive over to the expo to pick up our race packets and bibs for Saturday's race. I'll have lots of great photos to share for Weekend Snapshots this Monday! Here's a photo collage I made of our races together:

How frequently do you race? Do you have any events planned in 2017?

Monday, November 7, 2016

Weekend Snapshots: Meetups, Chaperone Extraordinaire And My Babygirl

This weekend was Busy. That's right, people…with a capital B. It started off with a sunrise walk with my friend Smitha (I can call her that, right??) who was in town for a work conference.

Smitha writes the blog Running With SD Mom and frequently hosts fun giveaways. She hosted a Run Lites giveaway in October...and I won!
RunLites Glove (Purple Flecks) Half Length 216NF-F3
Super lightweight and cute, these handlights have such great visibility.
They're perfect for camping and morning runs!
I'm a nerd about all things fitness related, and Smitha and I started chatting online about everything from RX Bar flavors to her favorite hydration recommendation (Orange Mud brand, in case you were wondering). She is always quick to reply and has been nothing but kind. I started seeing photos of Smitha at various spots around my town in my Instagram feed. I hope I didn’t fangirl too hard and freak her out! Smitha is a fabulous social media presence and truly the nicest person. When she learned I had been having back issues -- despite being an avid marathoner -- instead of going for a run, Smitha suggested we meet anyway and go for a walk instead. Runners really do make the nicest friends!
It was such a beautiful sunrise along the waterfront.

Later that morning, I went to the chiropractor for another adjustment and physical therapy. This made a significant difference and tipped the scale in favor of being able to chaperone Boydoll's marching band competition afterall. Thanks to my portable TENS unit, I was able to work on my craft project during the bus ride, too! 

The band won all three categories in their division on Saturday: Best Overall Score, Best Auxillary (drumline), and Best Color Guard. Go Chargers! 

Uniforms and instruments
Horns and hats. 
Boydoll warming up in the bass line. #notreble

I saw this bumper sticker on a parked car, and it was too cute a photo opportunity to pass up. I'm a bunny Auntie, so I know a thing or two about the awesomeness that is this bumper sticker. #bunnyfamilyftw

I took this photo for reasons. So cute!
After a long day down south, we were pleasantly surprised to come back and find Girldoll at home from college for the night. I'm certain that I say this (every...single... time), but I am so glad my girl is an only hour away. I offered to wash and fold her laundry, and made her favorite homemade mac and cheesies for dinner. It was a toss up as to who was happier to see Girldoll, me or The Browns:
Lots of happy sneezes and wrestling. These boys love their girl!  
I was reflecting yesterday about the past few months leading up to this election, and that tomorrow will my daughter's first time votingIn 30 years, this is by far the craziest election cycle I have ever seen. It's certainly one for the history books. 

By this time tomorrow, we will have a new president. I am ready to elect a new POTUS and move forward. To quote Forrest Gump, 'That's all I have to say about that.'

Not on the actual ballot, although nothing surprises
me anymore during an election year.  
Thank you to Katie for her weekend linkup! Have you ever won a contest or any online giveaways?

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Thinking Out Loud #7 and Why My Back Better Get With The Program

Wassup, friends? This week, Thinking Out Loud has me thinking about my back, and other things. But mostly my back. 

Podcasts. Why am I so late to the podcast party?? This is HEAVEN. It started with listening to a podcast interview with runner and Instagram personality, Runnermarx. Currently, I am on my third podcast in a series called Manic Rambling Spiral, which features blogger Heather B. Armstrong and her co-host and freelance writer, John Bray. Heather's blog inspired me to finally start writing my own (albeit semi-regularly) seven years ago. I can't wait to listen to more!

Manic Rambling Spiral
I'm hooked on podcasts! 

Good grief. I’m writing this at the library while my son is meeting with his French tutor. I’m in agony.

Sunday night, my back started hurting. My final long run before the half marathon was on my training schedule last Monday. Everything felt like it conspired against me to get out of the house sooner, and I didn’t start running until almost 10:30am. The long and short of it was that I ran out of time; we were driving to USC for a jazz concert that afternoon. I had to get cleaned up and run a few errands before we left. I was only able to complete six of the twelve miles I was supposed to run. My back didn’t feel great while I was running...but it didn’t feel terrible, either. Once I warmed up, my back actually felt a little looser.

After teaching my spinning class on Tuesday, I managed to squeeze in a quick visit to the chiropractor. He was able to make an adjustment to my lower back on the left side and after some physical therapy, I was feeling pretty good...until this morning.

I taught my spinning class Wednesday at 5:45am, and felt really good. There was a small pinch on the left and I was a little sore - but it wasn’t terrible. After I took our dogs to the off-leash park, I brought them home and decided to head back to the gym to bust out a few treadmill miles before meeting my friend for lunch. When I changed into my running shoes, pain shot up the left side of my lower back. All I could say was, ‘Oh no. Oh no. Oh no.’

So what did I end up doing? If you guessed that I acted a fool and went running anyway, you guessed right. 

You guessed right.
I had another chiropractic appointment today after my spinning class...but honestly, is there ever an convenient time for your back to go out? I’m starting to worry about allthethings: 
  • Sitting in a staff meeting tonight on hard plastic conference room chairs.
  • Teaching my spinning class.
  • Chaperoning the marching band competition, which means a bumpy school bus ride this Saturday almost three hours each way.
  • Running a half marathon in 10 days.
I can only do what I can do. If that means I have a DNF at the half marathon, then that's what has to happen. I'm hoping at a minimum I can run/walk the race because one of my best friends is coming to run the race with me. If I'm completely honest, I'm too prideful to scratch the race. #fomo

Segway. So, have you ever heard a word and seen a word...but not realized it's the same word? I was writing a post a few weeks ago, and yeah: segue looks all kinds of wrong, but I had a suspicion that segway wasn't right either. Derp.  

Do you listen to podcasts? If so, tell me some of you're favorites in the comments. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Weekend Snapshots: Pixies, Hill Repeats and The Lactose Intolerant

Happy Halloween, everyone! Can you even believe the first day of November is tomorrow?? Another busy weekend come and gone! It started out innocently enough and then things accelerated to a fever pitch through Sunday. [Do you like how I worked in that baseball reference? And how about Eddie Vedder at the world series last night??] #fangirl

I was working on my hill repeats on Friday, because the wicked switchback and subsequent climb at mile 11 of my half marathon is going to suck be incredibly challenging.  I thought it would be fun to use the timer on my phone and get an action shot to share on Instagram. It didn't go very well.

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Here are some of the outtakes from my hill repeats.
I'm not entirely sure what was going on in the bottom left photo since the hill was in the opposite direction, but...okay? I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to get a photo, and ended up running twice as much as I had planned. 

Friday night was spent with my best girlfriend. She originally invited Boydoll to see the Pixies with her, but he had a pep rally at the rival high school's football game. I generously offered to step in for him and take one for the team. I'm a giver like that. 

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I'm not sure about the 'majestic' part,
but it is an intimate little theater.
Two things worth mentioning about our pre-game strategy: 
  1. I wore adorable boots that are really only intended for wearing in brief intervals that involve lots of sitting. #fail
  2. The mocha that I ordered with almond milk had been accidentally prepared with regular milk instead. I should have know better when it tasted creamy, but there was just too much going on. THANKS A LOT, STARBUCKSSigned, A Lactose Intolerant Patron.
We had dinner before the show, and got in line at 6pm for general admission. Shortly after 7pm, we were the first of about 20 people in the door and we rushed for the rail above the main floor. My best girl doesn't play, people -- she had a plan. We had a perfect unobstructed view of the stage, and we were well out of moshing range. #winning

The opening band came on around 8:30, which was also right around the time my feet fell off and the milk lactose began to wreak havoc on my stomach. I was seriously questioning whether I was going to be able to stay. Somehow, I white-knuckled through the next hour and a half. Four words: It was worth it.  

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Such an incredible show! #pixies
The following day required Mr. Doll and I to divide and conquer. He took Boydoll to a jazz event a few hours north, and I headed south to attend family day at our daughter's university. My attempts at cloning have proved fruitless.

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Fresh out of the shower and into dress clothes for the jazz festival.
My boy looked so handsome! (Pay no attention to the photo bomber...)
I brought the boys dogs to visit their beloved girl, and we went for a hike in the hills above the university. It was very muggy...but still a gorgeous afternoon. We enjoyed lunch afterwards at The Lazy Dog. It was an especially sweet visit on Saturday. My daughter seemed happy and relaxed, and I loved catching up with her. I'm so grateful she's not going to school out of state. It would be more than my heart could bear, I think. 
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This one has my heart.
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Views for days and my crazy dog.
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Yummy lunch with my girl and the Browns. Riley approved!
I spent most of Sunday puttering around the house and hydrating for my 12 mile run today. It's my last long run before my half marathon in thirteen days. [gulp!] We got a little bit of rain on Sunday and it was HEAVEN. Things are already really tough from the 5-year drought, so we gotta get some rain this winter - please and thank you!

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Finally some rain!! 

Thank you to Erin for hosting Weekend Snapshots and Katie at Healthy Diva Life for their weekly link-ups! 

Do you have any Halloween plans for tonight? We're kind of missing it all because we have concert plans with my FIL. I'm really excited to see him, even if it means that I don't get to pass out candy. The littlest first-time trick or treaters are my favorite because they're just so blown away by the whole process, 'Knock on a door and get free candy?? SIGN ME UP NOW.' 

I did dress up as Hermione Granger in my spin class last Thursday. I always host a giveaway during my class closest to a holiday, and the members love it. I'm not sure how any of that went down without any pictures to show for it. It was a bit of a challenge working out wearing a dress shirt and tie, but still great fun nonetheless. Will you be passing out candy tonight? Do you get a lot of trick or treaters?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

TOL #6 Weight Loss: It's Not You, It's Me

Things are gonna get real, k? For this edition of Thinking Out Loud, I'm going to be frank about body image and my struggles with being 30 pounds overweight. I know, I know. Stop the presses: a middle-aged woman is going to talk about food and weight loss.


There are weekly nutrition and weight loss facts posted at the gym where I work. One fact that I read several years ago has stayed with me since: the average person gains tens pounds with each decade. I was like '10 pounds every 10 years? That's not a big deal." Well. That happens to be the exact trajectory I'm following...and I'm not happy about it one bit.

Jennifer Lawrence is my spirit animal.

When I was a little girl into and into my early 20s, I had a very fast metabolism. I was rail thin and self conscious, and I had to drink protein shakes to maintain my weight. I ate poorly and had no sense of good nutrition or proper portions.

I weighed around 135 pounds when I was 25, and was 'skinnyfat'; I was in terrible shape with poor eating habits. I joined a gym and started really getting into fitness and nutrition, and my weight dropped down to 123 pounds. It was the least I have weighed as an adult, but I was physically in the best shape of my life.

I got pregnant with our daughter a few years later, and then had our son four years after that. By this time, I was in my early 30s and took up running. I fell in love with it, and I was able to lose the baby weight I had gained with my son within about 6 months. I started entering 5k and 10k races, and ran my first half marathon. Shortly afterwards, I began training for a full marathon. I was 36 years old, and I had started working for the Y as a spinning instructor. I picked up three classes, and I was offered a job at second gym. I became certified as a personal trainer and had a dozen clients.

Working in the fitness industry made me aware of my own nutrition. Some bad habits had started creeping in, and I made the decision to give up sugar. It was starting to feel like sugar had been running my life, similar to when I was doing drugs or drinking. Even despite cutting sugar out of my diet and working out 5-6 days a week, I began slowly gaining weight and was experiencing intense fatigue. My doctor ordered a blood panel, and we discovered that I had thyroid issues. Unless I'm eating clean, my weight quickly pops up.

Pretty much on point. 

The funny thing is that I don't feel overweight. In my mind, I look slender. It's like some bizarre reverse form of dysmorphia. Maybe that's just called denial? I'm always unpleasantly surprised at how heavy I look when I see photographs of myself. And I'll tell you, it's a total serving of humble pie to have slowly put on 30 pounds and work as a fitness instructor. Here's the important part, though; it's not worth disparaging myself over. The person who is bothered by my weight gain most is me.

It makes zero sense to compare my fitness journey
to someone else's. 

I've never really done a timeline in this matter and looked at my history with food and my weight before. It's certainly been cathartic. I'm getting back to the basics of what works for me: small frequent meals that include protein, keeping track of my food and drinking lots of water, and avoid watching TV or mindlessly looking at my phone while I'm eating. Thank you to Amanda at Running With Spoons for hosting her weekly linkup. It always gets me motivated and thinking about writing!

What are some of the things that have contributed to your successes in weight loss or maintaining fitness?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Weekend Snapshots And What I'll Never Live Down

Another weekend come and gone. What do you think about that, Monday? Yeah. Pretty much me, too. 

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The bird is the word, Monday.
This weekend was broken up into three parts: Friday night football game, marching band competition, and my nephew's birthday party. 

Friday was the 50th anniversary of my son's high school, which is my alma mater as well. There was much hoopla around this historic milestone, including a parade of past homecoming kings and queens, and the high school Hall of Fame inductees. The football team played a rival high school, and we lost by one point. Even for someone who knows so little about football, the game was a total nail-biter.

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May the odds be ever in our favor! 
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My boy at pep rally! He was also flipped upside down and
played the quads, but I missed it. [sad face]
When I recounted the game to my husband, I instead of saying field goal, I accidentally said field 'gold'. I know squat about football, but even I know they're not called a 'field gold'. I just misspoke, but I will never hear the end of it. Mr. Doll said, 'I'm totally telling my brother that you called it a field gold.' *sigh*

Earlier in the day, I went stopped by the 'funk zone' to buy a birthday gift for my nephew at the new skate shop that recently opened there. I couldn't resist taking a few photos of doorways along the alley. I haven't been inside the surf museum, but this might be worth exploring some day!

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Surfboard museum: Funk Zone is funky fun!
We headed down south, and I'll share a little inside joke that you may or may not find funny. There are about a dozen car dealerships along a stretch of the freeway. In the middle of them is this tiny casino, which makes zero sense to me. Maybe they think that someone will win big, and then run next door and buy a car? One day when we were driving by I announced, 'You know what I don't understand? Why would they put a casino right in the middle of all those car dealerships??' My family found this hilarious. Now if the boys are on their way to LA, I always receive a text of a blurry photo with the caption, 'YOU KNOW WHAT I DON'T UNDERSTAND?? 

In terms of never dropping it never, I made things worse by suggesting that we should stop in and at least see what kinds of gaming they offered in such a small establishment: Slots and roulette? Blackjack or craps? It's a total mystery.

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Players Casino: Get lucky, buy a car.

Southern California doesn't typically see fall weather until early November, so it was crazy hot in LA. It was a gorgeous day, though. The marching band's field show included a new second movement at this competition, which I loved.

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The weather was beautiful on Saturday at the
marching band competition.
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Looking sharp!
My son quickly changed out of his uniform, and then we headed out to my nephew's birthday party after the field show. We surprised everyone by stopping off and picking up Girldoll from her university.

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Family is the best.
We likely won't get see my niece and nephew again until Christmas Eve, when we gather for our huge Swedish feast. Everyone is growing so quickly that it's always special to spend time together. I flipping love these kids so much!

And finally, I had to share a bit of random that I saw at the grocery store: I had thought it was a carving at first, but now I'm of the mind that some crazy mold was used on the pumpkin while it was still growing. It was very cool...but this bugger was $60. Thanks, but no thanks!

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I was startled.
Thank you Katie and Erin for the weekend link-ups! Any unique Halloween decorations where you live? Tell me about it in the comments. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

TOL #5 50,000 Words, But Who's Counting?

Thank you to Amanda for hosting her weekly Thursdays Are For Thinking Out Loud linkup! Week five -- I can't believe I've been writing this column for over a month! -- of linking to her blog will all over the place: I’ve been thinking, thinking, thinking. 

Somebody better feed my monkey mind a banana, already! Here’s what’s been on my mind:

Coffee. I recently gave up coffee (sacrilege, right??). Until the last several years, I never drank coffee regularly. I have always liked the flavor of coffee but never really had the habit. In the last three years, I’ve relied on caffeine to get through the day because I’m wiped out so much of the time. I’m not really sure what to attribute the exhaustion to: iron absorption and/or thyroid issues, peri-menopause, not enough Z’s, etc. Honestly, it’s anyone’s guess. 

When we were in Kauai over the summer, I was snobby about the coffee (also sacrilege..who doesn't like Kona coffee??) at the timeshare we were staying at, so I didn’t drink any the week we were there. I kept getting headaches that ibuprofen couldn't touch, until I realized it was caffeine withdrawal. When we came home, I started back up with my coffee habit. I don’t really know why it took me so long to see it, but there is a direct correlation between my caffeine consumption and my anxiety level; the more caffeine I have, the more anxious I am. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Aside from an occasional soda, I have stopped drinking caffeine entirely. I feel so much better!

Prisma. This app is AMAZING. I feel like I’ve shared this before, but I’ll go into a little more depth here: I decided to make edits of the photos I took during our trip to Kauai, and mount them on note cards to sell. Although I’m hardly a professional photographer (I don’t even own a real camera), I like to think that I have an eye for composition. Plus, phones take such incredible pictures nowadays. I’m really excited about my new business venture! Here’s a sample edit from a photograph I took at the Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge:

I love this edit! It gives me the feels.
I have a dozen different photographs (and magnets) with a variety of edits for each. I am going to sell them at a few craft boutiques next month to raise money for an upcoming adventure. [...which is a segue into next item...]

Japan. This will be it's own blog post, but yes. I am going to Japan in 2018! The working plan is to run an event there, but I'll have to see how realistic that is. Mostly, it's to celebrate a milestone birthday and to see MONKEYS (with my best friend, obviously).

Photo credit:
NaNoWriMo. I have to be insane, but I'm considering doing this again. For those of you unfamiliar with the acronym (although it's not really an acronym since there is the second...and even a third...letter included), it stands for National Novel Writer's Month.

50,000 words in 30 days. ::wipes brow::
My submissions from 2012 & 2013
After participating in 2012 and 2013, it's taken me three years to even consider wanting to do it again. With a goal of 50,000 words in thirty days, it is one of the gnarliest things I have done as a writer. However, there are some phenomenal resources that come with participating, and it was a great way to gain novel writing experience. The jury is still out as to whether I have the stamina for this endeavor, but the badges on my blog from three and four years ago are looking sad and outdated.

Veteran's Day Half Marathon. This event is fast approaching and although I'm woefully undertrained -- the wicked switchback at mile 11 can SUCK IT -- I am really looking forward to it. One of my longest and dearest friends (who I ran Bay to Breakers with) is running the half marathon with me. I'm so excited to see her! Running the race together is just half the fun; we're going to see Temple of the Dog at the Forum the following day. Yesssssssss!  

And that's a wrap. 

Edited to add: I wrote this on Wednesday and thought I had set it to publish yesterday. Whoops! 

Any big trips planned for you in the next year (vacation, business, other)? I'd love to hear about it!