Showing posts with label beach. Show all posts
Showing posts with label beach. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Reading and Running (& more) in the OBX

Hello, reader/runner friends!  Yes, a long absence around here, but for good reason.  If you saw my Instagram post the other day, you know that the Well-Read Redhead family recently returned from a 10ish day long summer vacation.  Woohoo!  Add in the time required to recover from said vacation (because all vacations with children require substantial recovery periods), and wait a minute, when did August get here...?

Let me fill you in on the trip, especially the reading and running highlights!

(I'll warn you that this "brief" update post turned into a rather long vacation review, reading discussion, and race report, so...just read the highlights that interest you most, I guess?  BEAR WITH ME PEOPLE, I'M STILL IN VACATION MODE.)

Our first stop was at Sesame Place down in Langhorne, Pennsylvania.  We added Sesame on to the front of our summer vacation last year as well, because our kids are at PERFECT ages for it (2.5 and 5), and it's a fun way to kick off a big trip.  This year, we broke family records by staying at the park for NINE HOURS.  My kids are serious troopers for hanging in there that long!!  We had a great day, then hopped in the car and let the kids sleep while we drove to a hotel in Maryland.
The Happiest Place on Earth (for kids who have not yet been introduced to the actual Happiest Place on Earth)
The next day, I impressed myself by getting up at 6:30am to work out in the small, but well-equipped, hotel gym.  I had the place to myself, and ended up doing 30 minutes of cycling, plus a bunch of core/strength work with the free weights and BOSU.  I thought about trying a treadmill run, but one running step told me my right leg was still not okay (more on that later).  Boooo.  Still, this was good for spending 9 hours running around a theme park the day before!
Up in the gym just workin' on my fitness. Pretty sure someone famous said that.
After checking out, we headed to our final destination: the Outer Banks in North Carolina.  We vacationed here in 2012 as well, and fell in love with it.  A return trip was most certainly in order.  We shared a beach house with our 2 good friends and their 2 kids in Corolla, and had an absolutely AWESOME week.  We managed a beach trip (or 2 or 3) every day, as well as a side excursion to the aquarium on Roanoke Island.  It was fun, relaxing, exhausting, and rejuvenating all at the same time.  :)
More of this please.
Reading highlights...well, there aren't too many.  You do a beach trip with two young kids, and you don't end up with much reading time (see: Reading with a Toddler, an old guest post on the blog from 2013...very appropriate here! Sorry for all the broken pic links though. Too lazy to fix right now...).  I packed my book into my beach bag on day 1, and promptly removed it that evening, knowing that the oceanside reading of my 20's was just never gonna happen.  However, after the kids went to bed and during their afternoon downtime, I did often get some pages in on the deck.  My book of choice was Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter.  Full review to come, but WOWZA, this was an enthralling mystery, albeit an extremely, horrifically graphic one.
View while reading. Not sad about it.
Running highlights...again, not many, this time because of my injury!  (I still don't have a name for said injury, but I'm finally seeing an orthopedist tomorrow, so stay tuned.)  Other than my hotel biking/strength session, I also got in some sunrise yoga on our deck (AMAZING!!) and on a whim I decided to run a local 5K on the 27th.  I knew it would stir up my injury, but how could I resist a local race along the ocean?  I mean, just one little 5K, right...
My sunrise view during yoga on the deck. Seriously? Stop it.
The Brindley Beach Lighthouse 5K is run every Wednesday during the summer months in Corolla.  I was afraid that a race that is put on every single week would be kind of shoddily done (like, are they going to go all out for something they do over and over?), but holy moly--OBX Running Company has a pretty amazing thing going on!!  Every race employee I talked to was super friendly and helpful, the entire race was smoothly executed, all the little details were taken care of...it was great.  Very nice finisher medals and race tshirts for all participants, plus an email later that day with your official race results, finisher video, and pictures.  Seriously awesome.  They also do a 5K every Thursday in Nags Head, so I highly recommend checking one out if you are ever vacationing down there!

I got to the race site near Currituck lighthouse early to register, then spent some time stretching, warming up, and exploring the area.  The race started a little after 8am, which in Corolla means HOT HOT HOT.  It was 81 degrees with 96% humidity, to be exact.  YEAH.  For an upstate New Yorker, that is literally trial by fire, because I can't remember the last time I ran in those conditions.  Between the heat and my leg, I decided to keep myself going no faster than 8:30 pace, and just push as comfortably as I could.

The race started, and a minute or so in, I looked at my watch to see 7:45 pace.  Nope nope nope.  I dialed it back and fell pretty comfortably into the 8:30 range.  I finished mile 1 at 8:35 and felt surprisingly good.  Mile 2, I encountered the one water station and decided to walk through it.  I knew I NEEDED the water, and the thought of choking down 1-2 mouthfuls while I ran was not appealing.  I still managed to complete the second mile in 8:55.

As expected, the heat was getting to me badly by the third mile, but I still finished it out at 9:03 pace, for a final result of 27:27, good enough for 2nd in my age group.  Not bad!!  Only about 1 minute off a PR in fact, and that's damn good for those conditions.  I attribute much of it to the fact that my legs were very (very very?) well rested from no running lately, and that I put zero pressure on myself, since I did this race at the last minute anyway.
Sweaty me + medal + Currituck Lighthouse
So glad I participated in this race--the whole experience was so fun, and it ended early enough that I still had enough time for a long, fun day with the family on the beach afterwards.  :)

(I did pay for it with my leg afterwards though.  OW OW OW.  Le sigh.  Damn injured leg.)

Anywho, after that 5K, all my other working out for the week went out the window.  I will admit that I had MORE than my fair share of wine last week, participated in a lot of late nights laughing with our friends and playing ridiculous rounds of Cards Against Humanity, and ate a lot of not-workout-friendly foods like Duck Donuts and cookies and ice cream sandwiches.
In case you've never met Duck Donuts. LET ME INTRODUCE YOU.
But hey--no regrets!  Honestly, I'm starting to feel like this injury was "meant to be", as cheesy as that sounds, because it would have been hella hard for me to continue marathon training last week and still have the fun, carefree vacation that I enjoyed.  Plus, it's saving me from heavy training in the hottest months, and I gotta tell ya, all you runners with the hot-weather-running Instagram photos are NOT making me miss it.  ;)

Does taking a running break suck?  OH YEAH.  Watch my face turn green with envy every time a runner goes past my house.  I find it mentally painful to open my newest edition of Runner's World right now.  If it's possible for a Garmin to rust, I'm sure mine is currently doing it.  But if I have to find the bright side, then I will, because I can't let a speed bump get me down.  (More on this in a later post...)

Oh man, are you loving my rambling today, or what???  I have lots of upcoming posts for you though, and I promise they will be better organized!  I owe you a Shoreline Half race recap, I have a bunch of mini-book-reviews to publish, and I have some deep thoughts about running to share in the wake of this injury.  STAY TUNED!

Monday, February 16, 2015

GIVEAWAY! The Last Good Paradise by Tatjana Soli


Title: The Last Good Paradise
Author: Tatjana Soli
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Source: copy received for honest review through TLC Book Tours

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

On a small, unnamed coral atoll in the South Pacific, a group of troubled dreamers must face the possibility that the hopes they’ve labored after so single-mindedly might not lead them to the happiness they feel they were promised.

Ann and Richard, an aspiring, Los Angeles power couple, are already sensing the cracks in their version of the American dream when their life unexpectedly implodes, leading them to brashly run away from home to a Robinson Crusoe idyll.

Dex Cooper, lead singer of the rock band, Prospero, is facing his own slide from greatness, experimenting with artistic asceticism while accompanied by his sexy, young, and increasingly entrepreneurial muse, Wende.

Loren, the French owner of the resort sauvage, has made his own Gauguin-like retreat from the world years before, only to find that the modern world has become impossible to disconnect from.

Titi, descendent of Tahitian royalty, worker, and eventual inheritor of the resort, must fashion a vision of the island’s future that includes its indigenous people, while her partner, Cooked, is torn between anarchy and lust.

By turns funny and tragic, The Last Good Paradise explores our modern, complex and often, self-contradictory discontents, crafting an exhilarating story about our need to connect in an increasingly networked but isolating world.


My Review:

First things first: how can you pass up a book with such a beautiful cover?

The Last Good Paradise is a unique read.  I initially wanted to try it because it seemed to bring together many of my reading interests: complicated family relationships!  Travel!  Food!  Yup, can't go wrong with that.  I got all of those things in spades throughout the book.  But that makes this novel sound rather simplistic, and simplistic it is not.

Soli has taken some risks in terms of the narrative style.  As the description implies, there are 7 different protagonists, and the storyline moves quickly between them throughout the book.  The POV is always third person, but the focus changes from one character to the next quite often (and rather quickly at times).  Those shifts in focus are not signified by a change in chapter (as I often see in other multiple-perspective novels).  When I first noticed this, I was afraid that it would quickly become confusing and muddle the story.  However, despite having so many primary characters, it came together surprisingly well.  Probably not my favorite POV choice for a fiction novel, but Soli made it work.

I did enjoy the touches of wanderlust in this book.  You can't go wrong with a story set in a beachy paradise.  Plus, the many references to Moby Dick, Robinson Crusoe, Mutiny on the Bounty, etc. added a nice literary element that played up the setting (though I will admit they got a little much sometimes--if you are unfamiliar with any of those texts (and Shakespeare, for that matter), you're sure to miss a lot of the literary allusions that Soli goes for).  All of the characters are ultimately trying to find their version of happiness, and despite the idyllic setting, they all come to realize that the happiness of their dreams might not be exactly what they want (or need).

The narration, the setting, the quests for happiness--all good things.  But the characters themselves?  That's one part of the book that I didn't roll with.  I had a hard time finding any of them likeable, even though I'm pretty sure I was supposed to, as I was privy to their inner struggles to find peace and love.  I'll admit that part of it was likely because they all regarded infidelity with such a ho-hum attitude.  So many of the couples cheat on each other in this book, with the expectation that forgiveness is right around the corner.  I didn't find this realistic or sympathy-inducing in the least.

The other character issue for me was that they all made very abrupt changes in personality and decision-making throughout the book.  One minute Wende is Dex's mindless hottie, the next she's a politically-minded revolutionary who wants to leave Dex for film school.  And that's only one example of many.  It was enough to make my head spin.  I appreciate that these people were all going on a bit of an emotional journey, but at times their sudden metamorphoses were rather hard to process.

Ultimately, The Last Good Paradise is a very ambitious novel.  If you're like me, and want a solid piece of contemporary fiction that delves into some intriguing relationship issues, you're sure to get a lot of that!  And the atmosphere of this book can't be beat--that is probably what will stick with me the most.  However, I had a tough time building sympathy for the characters, and that makes me hesitant to rave about it too hard.  Even so, an enjoyable read that gave me a lot more than what I initially bargained for...and I do enjoy surprises.

As always, much thanks to Lisa and TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour!
Want to find out more?  Check out the other blogs on this book tour HERE.  And connect with Tatjana Soli on Twitter.

GIVEAWAY TIME!
I have two copies to give away to 2 lucky readers!  One is a new copy (delivered to you from TLC Book Tours) and the other is my gently-used ARC copy (delivered by me).  Winner #1 will get the new copy, Winner #2 gets the used ARC from me.  Just use the Rafflecopter below to enter!  US/Canada only.  Ends 2/23.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Honey, I'M HOOOOOME

READERS!  HI!  I'M BACK!


First off, I hope you loved The Well-Read Vacay.  I pretty much go Internet-Silent when I go on vacation, but while I wasn't responding to comments/tweets/etc I did see all the lovely interactions happening on the guest blogs.  I hope you all adore Katie, Cari, Shannon, and Jennifer as much as I do, and continue to frequent their awesome bloggy blogs!

Second, where was I?  I don't usually post about the specifics of my vacation plans on the Interwebz beforehand, because I am a paranoid superfreak, but I will gladly share them with you now.  We rented a condo down in Cape May, New Jersey, and it was fantastic, though admittedly also hectic.  I actually had to leave last Saturday (with Small Fry in tow) without my husband, which was NOT the original plan. 

(**Potential buyers of our house should stop reading this post now and go do something awesome...like read a book!  WOOOO!**)

Okay, are they gone?  My husband had to stay home because the downstairs of our house FLOODED 3 days before we left.  And did I mention that we are trying to sell said house, like ASAP??  We have never, ever had flooding before, but Mother Nature chose THIS moment to gang up on us.  So dear Hubs stayed behind to dry out the house and replace the carpet so that the Open House and showings we had scheduled could go on.  Luckily, he did a fantastic job and was able to join us in Cape May on Tuesday.

(If any buyers DID accidentally read that, please rest assured that we fixed everything...AND it's all written up in our property disclosure now...nothing but honesty here, people!!)

Despite that hiccup, we had an awesome time playing on the beach, going to the zoo, eating too much candy/fudge, and hanging out with my brothers (who are in the Coast Guard and stationed in Cape May).  Oh, and stalking Tina Fey.  She was vacationing there last week too!  I was on a mission to make us meet, share witty banter, and become BFFs, but sadly our stars did not align.  Next time, T...next time.

In reading news, I actually managed to read 1.5 books, plus most of an audiobook during the drive (though I did take Cari's advice and left my Kindle in the condo during beach trips with Small Fry...very helpful!!).

So now I am off to unpack, and hopefully get these latest reviews written up for you soon.  Hope everyone had a fantastic week!

 
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