I Feel Famous And Random Thoughts On Running

I was invited to participate in a Today Show Google + Hangout. The book we discussed is The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon.

It was so cool to be able to interact directly with an author and get questions answered that were bothering me about the book answered. I need this to happen for every book I read because I am the worst at not knowing anything (please don’t ever tell me you have a surprise for me or that you know something I don’t, it will make me crazy.)

I have actual proof that I am getting faster.

Track Comparison

The workout was for a ladder:

2×400 1×800 1×1600 1×800 2×400

The first set of splits is from this week and the second from the first track workout of this training season. This week is slightly faster but the main difference is how much easier it felt. A huge takeaway from this training cycle, is that hard workouts do payoff. Especially when you are willing to do anything to get faster, doing track and tempo workouts will give you gains.

I am not getting lost as much on my runs. After running these new (to me) Lakeland routes, I am generally able to get to my car without pulling out my phone and having it direct me. For someone who is as directionally challenged as me, this is a huge relief.

Futurama Running

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Recommend A…

The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy #1) by Jennifer A. Nielsen

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

THE FALSE PRINCE is the thrilling first book in a brand-new trilogy filled with danger and deceit and hidden identities that will have readers rushing breathlessly to the end.
In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point — he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.
As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.
An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats.

I am working on a review for this one for my book blog (All The Stacks) but to sum it up, this book knocked my socks off. If you like Middle Grade Fantasy, this book is for you. Plus, book two, The Runaway King, just came out so there is no wait on that.

The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1) by Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.
Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.
When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.
When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

Do you like Young Adult Dystopian books that are really dark and creepy? Please pick-up The Darkest Minds. This is a debut that you will be unable to put down. (To read all of my many thoughts on The Darkest Minds click here.)

Read any good books lately?

All cover images and summaries taken from goodreads.

The Fault In Our Stars By John Green

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

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“Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumors in her lungs… for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumors tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.”

This is my first John Green book and if the others are as good as this one, and I suspect they might be, then the wild popularity and best-selling status is much deserved. The ability to write a story centered around teenagers who have cancer, one being undeniably terminal, and not allowing the reader to feel bad for them is a rare talent.

Death and dying is such an uncomfortable topic for most people that they usually can only deal with it in platitudes. One of my favorite parts are the expressions all over Augustus’s house (home is where the heart is and such.) It seems so lacking in light of the real life drama that Hazel and Augustus are living with.

The Fault Of Our Stars is filled with characters that feel very real. The dialogue throughout was perfect, witty and quick. The kind of conversations you remember from your teenage years when you could talk on the phone for hours.  I loved that the characters themselves deconstruct death in such a way that the reader is left knowing the hole left is with the living. Referring to the dying as a grenade which wreaks havoc on the survivors is such an interesting way to think about it.

The love story was beautiful without being cheesy. It is nice to read a Young Adult novel where the characters themselves are not so overly dramatic as to make their romance more akin to that of a harlequin novel (I’m looking at you Twilight.)

I loved everything about The Fault In Our Stars, especially the ending. It was perfect without wrapping the story in a neat bow. It is sad,  but you can believe that the characters are all the better having known each other.

Half Marathon Training Week Thirteen

If you would like to follow my other weeks of training, they can be found on my Workouts page. I break my half marathon training down by week to make it easier to follow.

Half Marathon Training Week 13

Key Workouts:

Easy Run: 1/3

Speed Work: 1/1

Long Run: 1/1

Cross Training: 0

Strength Training: 0/2

Total Miles: 26.9

This week life got in the way of working out. It is amazing that when I am out of work, I can still be too busy to fit in a run. Spending more time focusing on political organizing and job finding is important right now, so I will have to make it work.

I finished two books this week.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me And Other Concerns Mindy Kaling.

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(Review found here.)

Speak by laurie Halse Anderson

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(Review coming soon but this book was amazing and a must read.)

I ran my longest run so far on Saturday. 14.02 miles! I feel more confident for Sunday after this run. I ran the entire run Celebration which was just beautiful. The tree-lined streets, the wide sidewalks, and a great breeze came together for just a wonderful run. Typically, I run with my phone so I can listen to talk radio on Sirius. Of course on my longest run ever, my phone decides to cut my battery life in half, and leaves me with no entertainment for the vast majority of this run. I did learn that I much prefer to have the radio than not. (Also, that being alone with just my thoughts for hours is interesting.)

This graph excited me. February was my first month to go over 100 miles.

Monthly Miles

Seems like an accomplishment. I just wish there were more hours of cross training and strength training in there. When I think about my new goals after this race on Sunday, I will be reevaluating fitting more of those two key components in. It is important to do more than just run.

As my runs get longer, and I don’t know how often I would run farther than 14 training for half’s, but I may need to make an adjustment to my FuelBelt. I now run with this model.

FuelBelt Revenge R20

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I have the FuelBelt Revenge R20 with a larger pouch to fit my pepper spray and Cliff Shot Bloks. As the weather gets warmer and my runs potentially get longer, I am running out of water with only the two water bottles. There are times when I can refill but it is not always practical.

FueldBelt Revenge 4-Bottle Belt

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Going with a four bottle model may be more practical for the summer. I use plain water with GU or Shot Bloks, maybe using a sports drink like Nuun or Hammer Endurolytes Fizz might help. My plan is to start experimenting to see if a water bottle full of water plus sports drink is helpful.

Things That Are Awesome

Regular readers know that I have a lot going on with recently being laid off. I am working so hard at keeping positive. This past week, I have had a lot of good news and wanted to share.

Fame

(Just kidding, I do not think I am famous now.)

I got my picture in the paper. (I am in the pink. The sign in the foreground, is the sign with my story on it.)

Jobless_Rally_In_Lakeland

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I spoke to the reporter and was quoted in the article.

Lakeland_Ledger_Article

I had so much fun and was glad to be able to participate.

Books

New Books Speak Emma Pretties The Rules of Inheritance

One $50 gift card to Barnes & Noble and lots of browsing in store. I love to read and love to buy books. Book stores are my favorite of any kind of store and I can spend hours in one. (I do know that my choice in books is all over the map, no need to judge.)

Having more time on my hands and a goal of reading 100 books in 2012, I am digging right in. It’s a great way to spend time when you are avoiding spending money plus it takes my mind off my present lack of employment.

Ironman 70.3 Florida

I saw on a local blog that not only is Ironman Florida moving to my small town in Central Florida but they will be here for the next five years. This year, Lance Armstrong will be competing. My first thought is how can I volunteer for this?

I am just so proud that so many athletes will get to enjoy how beautiful Lake Eva is. I feel so lucky to run there regularly.

Ironman Haines City

Ironman 70.3 Florida

Anything awesome happen to you lately?

Love At First Bark: How Saving A Dog Can Sometimes Help You Save Yourself

Love_At_First_Bark_

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Julie Klam takes the stories of dogs she rescued and gives us glimpses into the life that occurred around them. We learn about her marriage, which hints at some strain in the opening but is clearly full of love. The adventures she shares with her husband over rescuing dogs, is funny and often touching. It brings them together but it also drives him a little nuts. The relationship feels very real.

We meet a pit-bull who is abandoned in NYC and the lengths Julie goes through to get her placed. This story was particularly touching as someone who grew up with pit-bulls and the experience that J and I had this year with our very own pit-bull rescue. We also live in an area where stray pit-bulls are put to sleep by animal control if they catch them. With the economy in the state it is and having such limited funds, it is difficult to find places that are willing to take these dogs. Luckily, J came to the rescue and was able to place the sweet dog we found into a forever home. This experience really allowed me to understand why the author is so enthusiastic about recues, the feeling when you know you saved a dog from certain death, is an amazing one.

The author learned how brave she was when chasing a puppy with a pickle jar on her head through the swamps of New Orleans and how much she would rather rescue dogs in NYC. She learns through one rescue named Clemmie, who had a pooping problem, that sometimes all you can do is make someone happy and comfortable at the end. That even if you cannot solve every problem, just trying and offering what you can, can be good enough.

I really like Julie Klam, she is funny, tells great stories, and is very likeable. For animal lovers who like to peer into the lives of others, you will enjoy Love At First Bark: How Saving A Dog Can Sometimes Help You Save Yourself as much as I did.

I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own.

Have you ever done any animal rescue?

Do you have any cute dog stories?

Lunch Wars

Lunch_Wars_

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We have an epidemic in this country. From children going hungry to childhood obesity, there is one program that can make a huge difference and that is the school lunch program. Lunch Wars by Amy Kalafa is a comprehensive reference for parents, educators, and other concerned citizens who know we have a problem but are unsure how we can fix it. The book was inspired by the movie that Amy produced and directed called Two Angry Moms. Her journey begins with Amy, on assignment for Martha Stewart Living Magazine, interviewing chef Ann Cooper who was running the Ross Schools wellness program in Long Island. She knew then that she would be back to do a documentary on school food.

Lunch Wars reads like a manifesto for school food activists. The information ranges from government policies from the USDA and the historical place the school lunch program has to combating hunger, to how the government subsidies free or reduced lunches. It is peppered with stories of real activists that were able to make changes in their communities whether through community gardens, eliminating vending and snack foods, or serving meals family style to reduce waste and encourage a communal atmosphere. These stories are very inspirational and you can see the various ways people are able to get real food into schools, even while maintaining a profitable lunch program.

I particularly liked the chapter on working with farmers to get local produce into schools. It helps the local community, it is good for the environment, and nothing is fresher than farm to table. This book is great for a group who knows we have a crisis but does not know where to start. Lunch Wars can be their blueprint.

Please join me over at BlogHer to discuss Lunch Wars.

This was a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

Do you think we need a school food revolution?

What are your memories of school lunch?

Slow Love

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I read Slow Love as part of the BlogHer Book Club. Slow Love is a memoir by Dominique Browning that begins when she is laid off from her job as an editor for the magazine House & Garden. The book is broken into seasons and the pacing has the feel of seasonal change. It is very tactile and expressive, like a rich tapestry you see hanging in the store and ache to reach out and touch.

After the initial shock and mourning, she starts to find joy and passion in former pursuits. She rediscovers playing music, discovering the Goldberg Variations and the genius of Bach. In it she discovers a love for simplicity and simple beauty. There is eventual loss, the loss of her home and her relationship with an ambivalent man she calls Stroller.

Ultimately, Dominique learns how to live a life that is full, rich, filled with love, and eventually slow. It is a lesson to us all to pursue our passions now,

not waiting until we have the time. Find peace and learn how to let go.

I enjoyed this book and felt it had a quiet, ethereal quality. Browning’s rediscovery of music was particularly poignant. The hunger for beauty and quiet in this fast paced, digital world really spoke to me.

I was compensated for my review and provided with a copy of Slow Love. All opinions are my own.