Showing posts with label personal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label personal. 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 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!

Friday, July 1, 2016

A Midpoint Check-In for 2016

Hello, reader/runner friends!  Today marks the first day of the second half of 2016, so I thought it would be fun to check in with how I'm doing on the reading and running fronts so far this year.  I have also been admittedly absent around here lately, so it serves as a way for me to let you know what's going on in my little corner of the world these days.

Let's start with Reading:

So far I've read 25 books this year, not bad!  I didn't set a goal for 2016, but I've read a LOT of great books in that group of 25, and as such the reading has been easy.  It's nice when you don't feel like you're getting hung up on a lot of slow reads or DNFs.

It's hard for me to pick favorites, but a few contenders for the "best so far" of this year would be What Alice Forgot , Everyone Brave is Forgiven , and Alice & Oliver.


I went back in my Nike+ history and found that I've run 426.5 miles this year so far--woohoo!  I have never kept track of my yearly mileage or set a monthly/yearly mileage goal, but I went further back to 2015 and found that I ran 364.2 miles in the first 6 months of that year.  I think this Four Seasons Challenge is definitely helping me stay motivated!  Last year whenever I finished a big race, my 70-100 mile/month frequency would plummet down to 25-40 miles/month if I had nothing to train for.  Now that there's always a race on the horizon, I'm getting out there more often and am feeling more consistently race-ready.

Two of the Four Seasons races are done...the next is in just a few weeks (Shoreline Half on July 16), though I'm using it as a training run for the September Rochester Marathon.  Marathon training is going REALLY well, but the July training schedule amps up the mileage quite a bit, so check in with me again in August to see if I'm still so enthusiastic.  ;)
Me at the 19K finish line back in May...yeah, hoping I can look like that at the marathon finish too!

My most significant news of late is that I am going back to school.  Yup, again!  A bachelors and a masters didn't seem like enough, so I decided to add an associates degree (haha).  This fall, I'll be starting classes to get my degree in Fitness and Recreation Management (with a concentration in Personal Training).  The eventual goal is to get a job as a personal trainer once Tater Tot is in school full-time.  That's not for several more years, so it gives me time to spread out the coursework.  You can get a personal trainer certification without going to college for it, but doing it that way does not require any hands-on experience, which I would like to get before heading into the workforce.  The degree requires an internship, so I'm pretty stoked about the opportunity to gain experience in the field before I (hopefully) get a job!

This is a huge career change for me (you may remember I was in higher ed administration before), but one that I am extremely excited about!

That's where I'm at these days.  I know I post less frequently, but I do so love my blog and all my bloggy friends--I hope that, as always, you'll stick with me through this new busy season in my life!  :)  While I know I'll have to trade some pleasure reading time for textbook reading time this fall, I have such a long list of excellent TBR books that I know I won't be ignoring it completely!

How's your 2016 going so far??

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Well-Read Runner needs your help!

Hello, friends!  Today, I'm not recapping a race or talking about training.  Nope, today I'm asking if you want to help a sista out, and I'm not afraid to beg!  :)

On October 18th, I am running the Monster Scramble 10K in Rochester, NY.  As soon as I heard about it, I was like, YUP, sign me up!  Because the proceeds from this race go to the fight against multiple sclerosis, which is an important cause for me.

My good friend Liz was diagnosed with MS last year, at the age of 31 and just weeks before her wedding.  What a suck-fest, right?  When she shared the diagnosis with me a few months later, I was devastated for her.  I knew very little about the disease before her diagnosis, but what I've since heard from her and read about myself shows that she has a lifelong battle ahead.  There is no cure for MS.  Luckily, Liz caught it early and has a great team of doctors to help her out along the way.  And hopefully, as research into the disease continues, better treatments (and maybe a CURE!) could help her even more in the future.

After I signed up for Monster Scramble, I was surprised when a few of my Facebook friends came forward (privately) and told me that they, too, were diagnosed with MS within the last few years.  This disease is more prevalent than I originally knew, and makes me even more motivated to assist where I can.

So, as you may have guessed, runners of the Monster Scramble race are encouraged to fundraise for the event, and I am indeed doing so!  My original goal was $500, but I've gone above that (yay!) and am now shooting for $1000.  Any little bit helps!  $5, $10, $20, whatever you've got!  That money is going to an important cause and will help the millions of people around the world who are battling multiple sclerosis.

If you'd like to make a donation, you can do so HERE at my fundraising page (just click the gray button on the left that says "Donate to Me").  And please feel free to share this with any family or friends who might want to help out.

Thanks, readers!!  I'll report back next month with my final fundraising totals (and a race recap, of course!).  :)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Tour My Bookshelves!

Hello, reader friends!  You've heard me talk often of my need to periodically purge my bookshelves, because they run out of room.  So today, I thought it would be fun to give you a little peek at said shelves.

I have 4 bookshelves in my house.  Some of you may be appalled at that (ONLY FOUR??), others may be left yearning (if you only have one, or maybe none, at your disposal).  And I look forward to hearing about your shelf situations after reading mine!  (I should note that this doesn't include the bookshelf of kid's books in the boys' toy room, or the shelves that they each have in their bedrooms...luckily they don't have any purging to do yet...)

I shelve my books alphabetically by author.  I wish that I had a higher threshold for chaos so that I could shelve by color, because how boss is this:
However, I am way too type A for that venture.  Can you IMAGINE separating all the Harry Potters because they're different colors?  I get itchy just thinking about it. #perfectionistproblems

Of course, the downside to shelving alphabetically is that anytime you get a new book (especially by an author at the beginning of the alphabet), it requires the shifting of every.single.shelf.  Not my favorite activity!

Anyway, my 4 shelves.  The first two are in the living room:
Books among the chaos. And Elmo.
The one on the left is roughly A through G.  The one on the right is G through R.  These are my two biggest bookcases.  They are also under ceaseless attack from Tater Tot, who just loves to rip apart the bottom two shelves on the left bookcase.  I adore my children, but I endure the let's-rip-covers-off-Mom's-books phase very grudgingly.  (LOVE YOU, BOYS!!!)  :)

The third bookcase is in my basement:

This is R through W.  The top shelf is reserved for the shot glass collection that my husband and I have been amassing since we started dating.  I know, I know, potential additional book space!  But the shot glass collection is dear enough to earn its own spot.

The fourth case is in our bedroom:

The middle shelf is W through Z (vertical), as well as books that I am looking to give away (horizontal).  (Lots of pregnancy and baby books there, if anyone is in need!!)  The bottom shelf consists primarily of random reference books (an English-to-French dictionary, my husband's old psychology textbooks, the texts from the class I used to teach online, etc).  Oh, and the top shelf is admittedly underused, consisting of my mishmash of jewelry boxes and a jar of change.  Hmmm...more books may need to move in there...

That's what I'm working with here in bookshelf land!  I dream of one day having a true library (with all the shelves in one room), but for now, this will do.

Tell me about your bookshelves, friends!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A life of lovely LIBRARIES.

I've wanted to do this post for a while, because in case I haven't said it enough, I LOVE THE LIBRARY.  I thought it would be worth highlighting the various wonderful libraries that I've had the pleasure of living near throughout my life.

Let's take a trip down memory lane, shall we?

Some of my very earliest memories are of going to the local library with my mom.  My first local library was the Bill Memorial Library in Groton, CT.  Up until we moved at age 10, "the Bill" was an easy 5 minute walk from our house.  How great is that?
Bill Memorial Library, Groton, CT
I went to countless story times there as a tyke. I remember following my mom through the stacks of the adult section as she picked out books, spending many hours browsing the kids section, and I volunteered there for a period of time in middle school.  This library is super cool, because it's quite old, very small and cozy, and has a lot of history behind it.  There's even an interesting-slash-creepy butterfly collection in the attic.  If there is a place where my love of books began, this is likely it.

We moved across town when I was in 5th grade, and even though we made the drive back to the Bill often, the move put me closer to the Groton Public Library , which is bigger and has quite a few more resources for visitors.  Not as cozy as the Bill, but a great place for studying...I remember spending way too many hours here doing AP English homework and researching colleges in my junior/senior years.
Groton Public Library, Groton, CT
After high school, I headed to college at UConn and had 4 years of visiting the Homer Babbidge Library on campus.  The place is impressive--UConn is a Research 1 institution, so naturally they have a library to match.  However, my memories of this place are less filled with pleasant, literature-filled lazy hours, and more filled with OMG MY FINAL IS TOMORROW HOW DID I FORGET WHAT A COVALENT BOND IS ALREADY (yes, my first all-nighter took place here).  Even so, there are two locations that have more lighthearted memories for me in UConn's library: the Bookworms coffee cafe on the main floor, and 3 North ("study" area on the 3rd floor, north side of the building).  3 North was affectionately nicknamed the Dry Bar.  No work gets done there.  I'm pretty sure that's still the case.
Homer Babbidge Library, University of Connecticut
After college, I moved just north of Albany, NY, and the now-husband and I lived in that area for the next 8 years.  In the first apartment we lived in, the local library was the William K. Sanford Library in Colonie.   These were my early post-college years, when I first re-connected with the library after living in textbooks for 4 years.  I wanted to read ALL THE THINGS and would spend ages just wandering the stacks in wide-eyed wonder.

Then we moved to our first house a few years later, and our new library was about 15 minutes north, the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library .  When we moved to Clifton Park, I realized something wonderful: the Sanford Library is part of the Upper Hudson Library System, which encompasses over 30 libraries around Albany.  And the Clifton Park library is part of a different system that covers 8 counties north and west of Albany.  For two years, my library cards at both places were active.  DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MANY BOOKS I HAD AT MY FINGERTIPS?  The power was great.  I could interlibrary loan literally anything you could think of.  It was amazing.  **geek moment**
Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library, Clifton Park, NY
Nerdy stuff aside, I will always have very fond memories of the Clifton Park library, because that is where I took Small Fry to his very first story times as a baby (only 3.5 months old for his first one)!  Awwww, love of libraries coming full circle.  CPH really does an amazing job with their children's area and activities.  Plus, this is where I got attend my first author event, as they hosted Dennis Lehane there in 2012.

Then, of course, we made our big move to western New York in 2013.  First, we had a brief 6-week stint in Batavia, NY as we waited for our house to come available.  Even though we were only there a short time, our rental was just a couple blocks from the Richmond Memorial Library .  Small Fry and pregnant-me took many, many summer walks there in the few weeks that we lived in the area.  Richmond library reminds me an awful lot of "the Bill", with it's older exterior, though it has gotten a facelift in recent years.  This library is smaller in size, but offers a surprisingly large number of programs given the size of the surrounding community (Batavia is fairly rural).  I didn't love living in Batavia, but I will say that the Richmond library provided some of the best memories we have there!
Richmond Memorial Library, Batavia, NY
Finally, on to Rochester.  I was quick to figure out my library options when we got here.  I live on the western side of the city, but my library card is good at any of the 31 libraries in Monroe County, which rocks my socks.  We actually have several of those libraries in close proximity to our house, and make a point of visiting at least one of them each week.  Our current favorite is the Chili Public Library (affectionately referred to by Small Fry as the "train library", thanks to the awesome Thomas the Train table in the children's room).
Chili Public Library, Rochester, NY
It's a small-ish library, but the staff is SO nice, and they put on a ton of fun programs for kids.  (And yes--this is where Tater Tot got to attend his first story time! Memorieeeeees.)  Plus, I suspect that Small Fry has a crush on Miss Jill, one of the children's librarians, so chances are he has an ulterior motive for all our many, many visits here.

Quite the litany of library experiences I've had in three decades!  I look forward to many more years of literary memories, and new libraries to explore.

(And if you haven't gotten the subtext of this post yet--VISIT YOUR LIBRARY!!  So much to see and do...not just books, but often craft programs, book sales, free museum passes, book clubs, etc.  Most of it free, too.  BONUS.)

Tell me about your favorite library memories, reader friends!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Well-Read Redhead's 2015 Resolutions

Sorry about the long hiatus here, reader friends!  The holidays were fun but busy, and honestly, I've been ruminating over this resolutions post for a long time, so it's taken a while for it to come to fruition.
Without further ado...

The Well-Read Redhead's 2014 Resolutions: Pass or Fail?

1. Read at least 40 books: PASS!
I made it to 46 this year.  Woohoo!

2. Complete the TBR challenge: FAIL!
I failed at this last year too.  However, I did do a LITTLE better this year, as I read 8 books off my at-home TBR (vs the 3 that I read in 2013).  I did enjoy the TBR book baggie idea though.  So instead of doing the TBR challenge again next year, I think I will just keep picking books out of the baggie whenever the mood strikes.  And I will have to learn to accept that my shelves will forever be full of unread books...

3. Run at least one 5K by year's end: PASS!
I blew this one right out of the water, as I ended up running not only a 5K (during which I earned my personal best 5K time), but I also ran my first half marathon.  WOOT!  I am looking forward to more running goals in 2015.

4. Be a patient momma: HALF PASS!
This is probably the resolution I focused on the most (like, every single day) this past year.  I am not a patient person in general, and age 3 is a particularly trying age for a mom who lacks patience.  I did well for the most part, but I could do better.  I'll admit that.  I will keep working on it, as moms do!

And now...

The Well-Read Redhead's 2015 Resolutions
both book-related and not

1. Read for tours and read for fun.  That's it.
For the first time in MANY years, I am not giving myself a numeric book-reading goal for the year.  I'm also not signing up for any challenges (which is SO HARD for me, because there are so many fun challenges out there!!).  Nope.  This year, I am signing up for a few ARC tours here and there, and in between, I am "free-range reading"--just picking up whatever book strikes me.  Maybe from my at-home shelves.  Maybe from the library.  Maybe from my endless Kindle TBR.  WHATEVER I WANT.  Because as I learned last year, if I want to do blog tour books, I don't have enough time to do those AND a bunch of challenges on the side.  I need to make my non-tour reading time more fluid.

Also, I am not going to choose my "free range" books based on length.  So often, I have skipped chunky novels since I started this blog, because they require more reading time and thus lead to fewer blog posts.  I really don't want to do that anymore, because I feel like I'm missing out on a lot of great stuff!  I'm actually reading Moby Dick right now, and it's taking forever, but I am enjoying it and happy for the time I'm taking to dive in (no pun intended).  :)

2. Write more non-review blog posts.
Longer books + low-pressure reading time = probably fewer books read by me in 2015.  However, that doesn't mean I want the blog to dry up.  I'm hoping to make time for more non-review posts (even if it's just a weekly Sunday Salon or something similar) to keep my bookish musings active.

3. Run at least one race above 10K distance.
More specifically, I am looking to do at least one half marathon or 15K in 2015.  The half marathon last year was a pretty major time commitment for training, so a 15K would be slightly more manageable.  However, I am really dying to try to beat my half marathon time from 2014 soooo...we will see.  One of the two.

Part of me really wanted my running goal for 2015 to be to do a duathlon (run/bike/run...basically a triathlon without the swimming), but I don't have the cashola for a road bike this year.  Maybe 2016??

4. Cut down on phone time.
No, I am not talking about phone time like I'm a 14 year old chatting with her BFFs all day long.  I mean smartphone time...Facebook, Instagram, Words with Friends, etc.  I've found that when I get stressed, I tend to pick up my phone and idly flip through it for stress relief.  However, I hate that because 1) it's so mind-numbingly pointless, and 2) yes, I sometimes do it in front of my kids, and I don't like being on my phone a lot when I'm with them.  I need to find other ways to zone out and de-stress.  You know, like reading?

5. Clean up my diet/cook healthier.
I am at a healthy weight, and I work out a lot.  But my diet is ATROCIOUS.  Honestly, if I didn't run so much, I would be a Biggest Loser candidate of the highest order.  I ate so healthy during my pregnancy last year, but then Tater Tot was born...first, I used new motherhood as an excuse for all the junk food.  Then I started training for the half marathon and told myself that I needed extra calories.  (True, just not from ice cream.)  Now, it's the holidays and COOKIES ALL DAY.  I need to rein it in, especially with the sugar.  And I should drink a lot more water, too.  )Though I make no guarantees about lowering my wine consumption.)
Related to this, I want to get back on the healthy cooking bandwagon with my family...there have been far too many fish sticks and chicken nuggets around here lately.  Time to get reunited with Weelicious and other such meal ideas.

6. Be more present.
I have struggled mightily with anxiety issues in the last few years.  Without going into all the specifics, I'll sum it up by saying that my constant state of worry leaves very little time for me to just BE in the moment.  I am always planning ten steps ahead and stressing out about every disastrous "what if" scenario.  Meanwhile, my kiddos are growing and changing at an alarmingly fast rate, and I worry (see? see how I'm worrying?) that I am missing out.  This resolution is going to be my hardest to keep, because "anxious" is pretty much my natural state of being, but it is the one that feels most important for me to achieve.

Okay, that's it!  You heard 'em here first.   Now, what are YOUR resolutions for 2015??

Sunday, November 2, 2014

BOO! October 2014 in Review

This recap will be short and sweet, because life is just crazy up in here lately.  First, sadly, my aunt passed away on the 31st after a long battle with cancer.  This is obviously very upsetting for our family, and we are in the midst of figuring out all the arrangements, so I may be MIA a bit around here (as I'm sure you understand).

Also crazy for good reasons though.  Of course, Halloween came and went, which was much fun for our kiddos, especially Small Fry.  It's fun to see how trick or treating has progressed with him over the years.  At age 3, he is really starting to get into it, and he had a blast going door to door that night.  I had a blast too, especially when he got to the house giving out full size Snickers bars.  Because that's probably a little too much sugar for a three year old, right?  So Mommy and Daddy might just have to confiscate that...
The firefighter puts out the fires that the dragon starts, of course.
Anyway, let's talk reading!

In October I read 5 books:
Larger Than Life by Jodi Picoult
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Man V. Nature by Diane Cook
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

In addition, we did a little Six Degrees of Separation with 1984, and I gave two thumbs way up to the Gone Girl movie.

November is now upon us, and I am SUPER PUMPED for Nonfiction November!  Post about that coming tomorrow.  Definitely going to get my nonfic groove on this month.

How was your October, friends?  Any fun Halloween costumes to share?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Back in the groove! September 2014 in Review

September, a banner month!  On the home front, it was good times for so many reasons.

1. Our 7th wedding anniversary...which was celebrated with a dinner out BY OURSELVES!  No kids!  At a not-very-kid-friendly restaurant!  It was amazing!  We ate too much and drank too much responsibly (we did have to parent when we got home) and just generally enjoyed each other's company.  It was wonderful.

2. My 31st birthday, which was celebrated with a dinner out as well, though this was with the kiddos and involved eating my weight in hamburger meat at Red Robin and listening to Small Fry sing to me.  Also wonderful!

3. Finishing my half marathon, which as you well know by now, was quite the saga, but I am rather proud of myself and licking my wounds more quietly.  :)

Plus, I feel like I made a bit of a comeback around here, which is exciting.

In September I read 5 books:
The Three  by Sarah Lotz
Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen
The Blonde by Anna Godbersen
Go Ask Alice by Anonymous (which included a celebration of Banned Books Week!)
The Memory of Love by Linda Olsson

In addition, I did a new Small Fry Saturday review for My Bus by Byron Barton.

I also talked about my issues with e-books vs paper (the struggle is real), and told you about my new tattoo and love for Jodi Picoult (though those two things are not related, which is probably a win for Jodi Picoult).

As I mentioned earlier this week, I'm hoping for some spooky reads in October, plus possibly snagging a copy of Picoult's Leaving Time, and I do have one TLC Book Tour coming up as well.  I know, I took the whole summer off!  But it will be nice to review some new releases again.

How is fall treating you, friends?  Are you pro- or anti- the pumpkin spice craze?  (Personally, I think the Pumpkin Spice Oreo is an insult to humanity.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hey, who wants to talk about running?!?

We interrupt your regularly scheduled book blogging for this special feature, titled:

Kelly's Absolutely Treacherous Half Marathon Story!

Okay, it wasn't that bad.  I mean, it FELT that bad for the first 36 hours after it happened, but I'm nearly done with the pity party now, so we can talk about it.  For a little while.  Until I tear up again, then I'll need a break.

I wanted to share my half marathon story here, because a) I've mentioned it on the blog several times and many readers have asked me about it, and b) this is my only written "outlet" on the interwebs these days, so I figured it was worth chronicling my journey here.

(If you're reading this and thinking, "Ummmm, I just want my books back," please tune in tomorrow, because it's Banned Books Week and I'm doing a giveaway.  WOOT!  Yay, books.)

This story is rather lengthy.  You've been warned.

So, this half marathon.  Specifically, the Rochester Half Marathon that occurred here in lovely Rochester, NY last Sunday.

This is the first half marathon I've ever attempted.  The longest run I did before this was a 15K (9.3 miles) in 2008.  Even though a half marathon is "only" 4 miles longer, I took the training much more seriously and really tried to work towards a time goal (my only goal for the 15K was to make it over the finish line not on a stretcher).  I spent 12 weeks busting my butt, trying to eat right, waking up at 5am for runs, and not drinking wine on Friday nights before Saturday long runs (I KNOW) in order to get in top shape for this thing.  I had the incredible support of my husband (who often handled bedtime routines and Saturday morning breakfasts solo so that I could run) and many friends along the way.

Come Sunday morning, I felt SO READY.  I was going to KICK THIS RACE'S CANDY ASS.

I woke up at 4:45am and made my first mistake: I ate breakfast too early.  I thought this would help me out, because it's recommended that runners eat breakfast 3-4 hours before a big race.  However, in the end, this was a negative, probably because I never did that before any of my long runs during training (I was not going to wake up at 3am for a 6am training run).  So my body was not used to getting the majority of its food so long before the run.  More on this later.

I drove over to the race site and was at the start line by 6:45am (starting time was 7:45am).  This gave me plenty of time to get rid of my drop bag, set up my running tunes, have a snack, use the porta potty, stretch, and warm up.  I was feeling GOOD.  Today was my DAY.

For those curious, my race goal was to finish in under 2 hours 15 minutes.  I actually felt like this was my "high end" goal and that I could potentially come in closer to 2:08.  My initial plan was to start off around a 9:50 pace per mile (which would mean about a 2:08 finish time), but join up with the 2:10 pacer if I started to slow down and hopefully follow them in to the finish.  (For the non-runners...a pacer is a runner who volunteers to run the race at a specific pace, so that other runners can follow them at that consistent pace and finish at a specific goal time.)  This was a great plan, because it had a built-in backup: if I really started to flag, I could join up with the 2:15 pacer instead, and still finish at or under my goal.

I took off with the 2000ish other runners at 7:45.  I felt great!  I was pacing myself well, I could feel it!  I passed my friends Mandy and Emily at the half-mile mark and I was on top of the world!

Then I got to the one mile 9 minutes and 3 seconds.  Uh oh.  Way too fast.  Every runner knows this is a big no-no in a long-distance run.

Second mile I still felt fantastic, and came in at a 9 minute 34 second pace.  Okay, still too fast, but getting better.  Third mile, pretty much the same.

The fourth mile, two things happened.  One, we started hitting some hills...never a good time.  The 2:10 pacer passed me at 4.5 miles, which was not encouraging.  And two...I had to pee.  Ugh, SERIOUSLY??  Never once in training did I have to stop to pee.  And TODAY?  TODAY WOULD BE THAT DAY?

Apparently, yes.  At 5.5 miles I could take no more and I had to duck into the woods to pee.  I know, glamorous.  The whole thing took maybe 45 seconds, but by the time I made it back out on to the road, I was mentally kicking myself.  With steel-toed boots.  All I could think was that I was blowing it, I was wasting time with stupid things like bathroom breaks, the 2:10 pacer was long gone, and wow did I suck.

Things escalated quickly after that.

I started taking walk breaks just before mile 6: MAJORLY discouraging because I did NOT take walk breaks during even the longest of my training runs.  During one of them, the 2:15 pacer came up on me.  No!  Not my high end goal!!  I forced myself to start running again.  I was able to follow her from about the 6 mile mark until just before the 7 mile mark.  Then I had to stop and walk again.  As the 2:15 pacer ran ahead, all I could think was "There it goes.  I'm watching my dream die right now."

Here is where we see Kelly hit rock bottom.

Walk breaks continue.  I feel like I have no fuel left, no matter how many energy gels I consume (remember that early breakfast?).  Every hill makes me feel like my quads have simply disappeared from my legs.  I very seriously consider having my husband come pick me up at the 8 mile mark.

Then, around 8.5 miles, it started to POUR.  I cannot overemphasize the complete and total drenching that ensued.  This may sound miserable, but honestly, it lifted my spirits a bit, because it was so outrageously wet that all I could do was laugh.

At 9.5 miles, I passed my friends Mandy and Emily again.  They were like little course ninjas, popping up all over the place during my run!  Later, Mandy told me that she could see the despair written all over my face at this point.  She yelled out, "It's one day of pain, Kelly!  ONE DAY!  You can do this!"  And that rang through my head for the next 3.5 miles.  I NEEDED that push right then.

I hit the 10 mile mark and told myself there was only a 5K left.  I could do a 5K in my sleep.  I lessened the walk breaks, and though I was going pretty slow (11 minute miles now), I was going.  I was going to get there.  I was going to FINISH this frickin' thing.  I was going to do it for me, and for my husband who did so much for me while I was training, and for my kids that were waiting to cheer on Mommy at the finish.
Coming in for a landing.  Almost at the finish line.
And I did do it.  I crossed the finish line, half-delirious with fatigue, in 2 hours, 21 minutes, and 12 seconds.  Thirteen minutes past my goal time.  I grabbed my finisher's medal from a volunteer just before my husband came running and plowed into me with a huge hug, and I collapsed on him and started crying.  (I'm still not sure if it was from elation at finishing, or relief at it being over.)

I know, not exactly the most uplifting story of athletic achievement.  And I'll be honest--I spent most of Monday in a pathetic, wallowy funk over the entire thing.  The finishing time didn't necessarily bother me.  I would take those extra 13 minutes if I felt like I had given it my all.  But I was bothered that a simple 45-second pee break (plus maybe some mistakes in pre-race fueling) caused me to mentally check out so early on.  I KNEW I could run 13.1 miles without stopping for walk breaks.  I just knew it.  And I was so mad at myself for not making it happen.

I swore off running, and half marathons, and everything athletically related for pretty much all time.  I made grand plans to spend the rest of my life eating pumpkin pie donuts from DD and drinking too much wine.

But you know what?  By today, I made a new decision.

I'm doing another half marathon.


I don't know when exactly I'll do it, but sometime in the next year.  I'm coming for that 2:15.  I'm not going to let this one bad race be my only half marathon experience.  And I can't ignore the fact that I DID complete 13.1 miles, something that a lot of people never do.  I'm proud of it, proud of myself, and proud of the fact that I'm going to give myself the chance to do it again...maybe just a little bit better.

So get ready, running shoes.  I'm not throwing you in the trash with the empty wine bottles just yet.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

August 2014 in Review

Ah, September.  That means 2 things:

1. Summer is nearly over, but that's okay because
2. September is my birthday and our wedding anniversary.  Woohoo!

Yes indeed, September is one of my very favorite months.  Not only for the two reasons listed above, but because I do love the onset of fall.  Cuz let's face it: warm weather is awesome, but sometimes it's nice when the weather gets cooler, you can wear jeans, and you don't have to shave your legs every five seconds. #realtalk

This summer has been pretty great though.  We went to our friends' camp in the Adirondacks a couple weeks ago with the kids, and it was a blast.  Bonfires, smores, kayaking, fishing, boat rides on the lake...YES PLEASE.  It was an awesome way to cap off a summer full of outdoorsy goodness.
Kayaking with mah boy
Plus, I somehow managed to be more present on the blog!  Let's recap August...

In August I read 3 books:
Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl

I also talked about books that I kinda sorta don't want to read, and celebrated my 2 year blogoversary.  WOOP.

September will be crazy, because Small Fry is starting preschool (somebody get me my fainting couch), I have the two super-fun "holidays" that I mentioned above, and I'm running my half marathon.  (Related: if there are no posts here after September 21st, please begin a search for my sore, creaky-kneed body somewhere on the half marathon race course.)  All joking aside though, I'm pretty stoked for it.  Stay tuned for a race report!

Bookishly, I'm planning to read my next TBR Book Baggie pick (Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen), and...I have no idea what else.  Isn't that lovely??  Perhaps I'll attack something on my 30 before 35's in need of some attention.

How was your summer, friends?  What's up next on your reading list?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

April 2014 in Review (and new blog goal!)

This was more relevant yesterday, but it's my favorite internet meme in the history of ever, so...

Happy May, my friends!  Such craziness around these parts last month.  April started out with a trip to Florida to celebrate my stepbrother's wedding.  We had an awesomesauce time, and Small Fry MAY have set the record for cutest ringbearer in the history of ringbearers.
WHO TOLD HIM TO PUT HIS HAND IN HIS POCKET?  Nobody. What a smooth operator, this one.
Then we came home, and it was the best of times (some 80 degree days, Tater Tot's first Easter, Small Fry's first time flying a kite) and the worst of times (I got the worst.headcold.ever, and then Small Fry got it too. Oy).

Also, I registered to run a half marathon in September.  WHAT?  I know, I have been possessed by a demon.  I have to admit I am pretty excited about it though.  I'm going to start seriously training at the end of June.  EEEEKKKK.

OH, and we bought a minivan.  We pick it up today.  I am officially a MOM now!!!
Anyway, to recap bookish stuff: In April I read/reviewed 5 books:
The Martian  by Andy Weir
Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke
Croak by Gina Damico
Crank by Ellen Hopkins
Driving Lessons by Zoe Fishman

And that was it.

The fact that "that was it" leads me to my new blog goal.  I know I have been totally time-strapped lately, and cutting back on blogging has been a necessity.  BUT, I do miss it.  I miss posting things other than reviews, I miss commenting on other blogs, etc.  So I'm setting a small goal for myself: each month, I will write at least ONE substantive post that is not a book review.  A musing on something book related, a Top Ten Tuesday, SOMETHING.  I think it will help me stay excited about my little blog space here...and also keep you all from being bored to tears too.

So, any suggestions for May's non-review post?  I know you're just dying to hear me wax poetic about something!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

March 2014 in Review...

Hello, lovely reader friends!  Time for my monthly wrap-up already.  2014 is already 25% over and totally FLYING by.

As you probably noticed, I really only posted book reviews this month, and not too much else.  I have come to the conclusion that time management will just not be my forte for a LONG time...because even though Tater Tot is getting into more of a routine (helpful!), he is getting busy busy busy.  Which is a lot of fun, but you know, busy.  And Small Fry continues to happily run circles around  me (even managed to dislocate an elbow this month...oh THAT was fun!  Slow down, child!!).
Holding up his arm in triumph after the doc popped his elbow back into place.  Trust me, there had not been smiles for MANY HOURS before this!  Oy.
What it really comes down to is this: most days, I have time to read OR blog.  Not both.  And reading generally wins.

So my plan for now is to mostly focus on book reviews.  I AM still reading, and I love to share my reviews (that's the reason I got into this in the first place, right??).  So at a minimum, I will keep up with that.  When I can do more, I will.  I have a long-term goal of *hopefully* participating in the fall Bloggiesta in September, and perhaps I can make that my turning point.  :)

Anyway, to recap: In March I read/reviewed 5 books:
Above by Isla Morley
Sous Chef by Michael Gibney
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Two Sisters by Mary Hogan
Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

And, I talked about my brief bookstore side-trip to Strand in NYC (heaven!).

Last month, I focused way-heavy on did I end up with so many after saying I was taking a break from them??  Part of this is because, as you may remember, my next TBR book baggie pick was Gone With the Wind, and truth be told...I am intimidated.  So many pages!  So much hype!  My challenge for April is to at least start it.  I CAN DO EEEET!

Oh, and in other news, I am leaving for sunny Florida for a few days, as my stepbrother is getting married this weekend.  WOOHOO!!  Looking forward to our first plane trip with the boys.  Very excited to celebrate with family...and experience weather above 50 degrees!!  Probably not much reading to be done on this trip, but who knows...maybe traveling will tire out my two little buggers?  Extra nap time?  :)

How was your March, reader friends?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Book Heaven. I FOUND IT.

First off, I know...I've been a not-great blogger lately.  You've heard all my usual excuses, I won't repeat them, but I promise I am still here, and reading, and loving you (even if I am flippin' horrible at responding to comments right now).

Anyway, a quick post is in order because I have located BOOK NIRVANA and I had to make sure you all knew about it.

This past weekend, I went to New York City for the day for my friend Liz's bridal shower.  It was a whirlwind trip.  Woke up at 3:45am, fed the baby, left the house by 5am, drove 4.5 hours to the train, took 2 hour train ride to Grand Central, arrived 12:15pm.  I had just over 2 hours until the shower, but it was way downtown and I still needed to find some food, so I didn't have a ton of time to sightsee.  Thus, I was left wondering: what cool NYC locale is situated between Grand Central and SoHo, that I haven't already seen, where I can spend maybe 45 minutes before this shower?

And it dawned on me.

I'd never been to Strand Bookstore on Broadway, so I felt a visit was in order.  And OH MY STARS, PEOPLE.  JUST OH MY STARS.

I walked there, and first thing that hit me was the racks and racks of used books lining the outside sidewalks of the store.  Nothing over $2.  I just about died right there.
Just thousands and thousands of this.
But then you go inside, and it's three stories of pure amazingess.
This does not do it justice, but I was too book-drunk to take more pictures.
New books, used books, rare books.  Floor-to-ceiling.  Three floors.  I quickly realized that 45 minutes was not enough time.  NO TIME WOULD EVER BE ENOUGH TIME.

I frantically browsed in the time that I had, and managed to find 5 good discount books for myself, plus a cute new kid's book for Small Fry.  And a Strand t-shirt for me, because swag.

How I long to return here for hours of book-related fugue state.

Readers, have any of you ever been to Strand?  Did you love it as much as I did?  And did your shopping companions have to call NYPD to eventually have you removed from the store?  (I suspect this often happens to truly hardcore book lovers.)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Well-Read Redhead's 2014 Resolutions

Happy 2014, readers!!  Here's hoping for a fun and exciting new year!

It's time to review my resolutions for 2013 and see how I did.  These were the resolutions that I posted at the beginning of the year...both book-related and not.  So, did I meet my goals, or fail miserably?

The Well-Read Redhead's 2013 Resolutions: Pass or Fail?

1. Read at least 60 books, and complete the challenges I signed up for: HALF PASS!
According to Goodreads, I read 72 books in 2013...woohoo!!  Gotta love overshooting the reading goal.  HOWEVER, I definitely did not complete all of my challenges.  Out of the 5 challenges I took on, I completed 3 (Foodies Read, Audiobook, and Keyword).  I half-finished the Around The World in 12 Books challenge (did great until mid-year, then kind of dropped off), and didn't even come close to the TBR challenge.

Lesson learned: 5 challenges is way too many!

2. Mix in some varied content with my book reviews: ehhhh, mostly FAIL.
I did OK with this early in the year, but when life got crazy with our move and the pregnancy, I didn't have the time/mental capacity for much more than book reviews.  Ah well...perhaps when things settle into a better know, in like 2016 or so?

3. Manage my computer/phone time better: mostly PASS!
My big goal here was to stop letting technology time cut into my family time.  For the most part, I think I've done a good job with that.  I make a very strong effort not to check my iPhone every 2.4 seconds while I'm home with Small Fry and Tater Tot (and for the most part, I only check it during the day when they're sleeping or otherwise occupied).  And at night, I am rarely doing blog stuff on the computer anymore, because I try to save it for naptime.  I'd like to keep working on this (I have my days where I don't do as well with it), but overall I'm glad I made this a goal for the year.

4. Eat (and cook) with more variety, and more healthfully: PASS!
I'm still no Escoffier, but I did make a really concerted effort to try lots of new recipes and cook healthy meals for my family.  We eat takeout almost never, which I'm happy about, and the food we eat at home has had good variety for the most part.  I'm hoping to keep this up this year...especially as I try to lose baby weight.  Haha.

5. Print photobooks of our past family photos: FAIL!
I was going to make photo books on Shutterfly from 2009 on (I already have printed photo albums for our years as a family before that, 2005-2008).  I made the 2009 photobook last January and then never ordered it.  LOL.  It's just so darn expensive!!!  So maybe if I fall into a few hundred extra dollars this year, I'll finally get a few ordered...yeah, probably not.

6. Work on my upper body and ab strength: LOLOLOLOLOL
I obviously did not take possible pregnancy into account with this goal.  What are abs again?

And now...

The Well-Read Redhead's 2014 Resolutions
both book-related and not

1. Read at least 40 books.
I'm going way easy on myself and lowering my goal by 20 books, thanks to Tater Tot's arrival.  I really have no idea how much reading time I'm going to have this year, so I'm hoping not to pressure myself too much.

2. Complete the TBR challenge.
Five challenges was way too many for 2013, so I'm limiting myself to one this year.  I have soooo many books on my shelves at home, and it's time to tackle them!  I'm also planning to cut back on ARCs this year, so that should help me fail less miserably.

3. Run at least one 5K by year's end.
I really, really, REALLY can't wait to start running again once I get exercise clearance from my OBGYN.  However, I know my running time is going to be limited, and I was less physically active during this pregnancy than I was with Small Fry's.  So, if I can complete one 5K race by the end of the year, I will be happy.  More than one is a bonus.  Long term goal: to complete the Boilermaker 15K in July 2015.  I ran it in 2008 and it's such a fun race, I'm hoping to be back in shape for it by then.

4. Be a patient momma.
This is not just because I have a new kiddo in the house (though that is part of it).  This goal is actually more inspired by Small Fry than Tater Tot.  I have never been the most patient person in the world, and Small Fry is in full-scale toddler mode.  Parental impatience + toddlerhood = disaster.  For the most part, I do a good job keeping my cool when SF tests my patience, but I could do better.  So this year, I am going to make a really concerted effort to be more level-headed when he starts grinding my gears.  :)

Okay, that's it!  You heard 'em here first.   Now, what are YOUR resolutions for 2014??

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Sunday Post #1: Christmas book haul!

The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba @ The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  It's a chance for book bloggers to share what's going on with them this week, any new book-related news, etc.  Since my life has been rather crazy lately, I figured I'd participate this week to catch you up on life here at the Well-Read Redhead.

So here's me right now as I type this post:
Yup, looking super hot and unshowered but snuggling a very adorable sleepified baby.  That pretty much sums up life these days!  This morning my husband took Small Fry to the grocery store, so Tater Tot and I are chillin' while they're out.  Tater Tot seems to be going through a bit of a growth spurt, so I was up every 60-90 minutes last night feeding him.  I love you, little one, but it would be super cool if we could finish up this spurt and get some sleep soon!  Consider this a gentle request from yo' momma, kthx.

Beyond my current status as a 24/7 milk bar, life has been good as we adjust to being a family of four.  I had my first few half-days at home with Tater Tot and Small Fry this past week, as my husband's paternity leave is wrapping up.  They went surprisingly well, and we even did our first daddy-free outing to (where else?) the library.  Small Fry was very well-behaved and Tater Tot slept through the whole thing, so I think we're on the right track.  Granted it took an act of Congress to get us out of the house in less than 3 hours, but we're getting there.

So, what about book-related news?

I have been pleasantly surprised with how much reading I've gotten done lately.  It's important to have something to keep you awake during a 2am feeding (because dropping the baby is not recommended), and Kindle reading has been just the ticket.  I've got a new review for you tomorrow, and possibly one more before the year is up...we shall see!

Also, I received $150 in Amazon gift cards for Christmas.  OH EM GEE.  I am aware that Amazon sells things other than books, but I really don't care much about those things, so I've been spending the last few days staring at the Kindle e-books department in wonder.  $150 goes a very long way if you plan your pennies right.  So far I've gotten:

-5 books by Dennis Lehane: Moonlight Mile, Sacred, Live By Night, Darkness Take My Hand, and Prayers for Rain (his books were the Kindle Daily Deal the other day...$1.99 each!  YES PLEASE!)
-Tampa by Alissa Nutting
-The Bat by Jo Nesbo
-Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
-And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
-The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
-The Nasty Bits by Anthony Bourdain
-and I just bought NOS4A2 by Joe Hill and The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates...both are Kindle Daily Deals today...less than $4 each!!

All that and I still have $100 left.  OH MY.  What else should I buy, readers??

That's all for my Sunday Post this week...enjoy your last moments of 2013!!
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