Thursday, February 26, 2009

Green Smoothie and NEW SHOES!!

Last night didn't quite turn out as planned, as my beloved TERPS fell to the Blue Devils. We'll get them next time...when it really counts...the ACC Tournament or better yet, the NCAA tournament! (If we make it there...)

Rest day today, which is perfect because it's been raining on and off all day. I decided to try something new today...a green smoothie! Lots of people in the blog world eat (drink?) them, and people in general seem to like them, so I figured I might as well give them a try. I like smoothies..after all, I did get a blender for my 16th birthday. (Thanks mom and dad!) Sooo I got some spinach, threw in a trusty banana, added some milk and ice cubes because that seemed like a good idea, and blended away. Here was the result:

It looks alright...and at first taste, I actually thought it was pretty good. I mostly tasted the banana, but about halfway through I couldn't bring myself to eat anymore! It seemed like I was chewing it more than drinking it, and I'm not a fan of the gritty-little-bits-of-stuff-in-my-mouth feeling. Maybe I needed to blend it more? Add more fruit for sweetness? Drink it through a straw? Any suggestions? I might just stick with the old fashioned way of getting my vegetables...eating them with a fork! We shall see.

Anyway, the other exciting news is that when I got home from work, there little babies were on my doorstep!

Yay! I'm so excited to try them out! Like I said previously, I'm currently on my fifth pair of Adrenaline 6, so it'll be fun to have a new color scheme on my shoes! I added in the picture of the side of the box because I like Brooks's "Run Happy" slogan. They certainly make me happy to run in! har har.
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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

MARYLAND vs Duke a big night. It's MARYLAND vs Duke basketball. I was introduced to this rivalry during my freshman year of college, as prior to this, I was unaware that such a rivalry existed. Little did I know that submitting my deposit to the University of Maryland actually meant that for the rest of my life, I would hate Duke under all circumstances. Being from the lovely midwest, we actually like Duke. High schoolers wear Duke clothes to be "cool." The tricky part is, Maryland fans see this as a rivalry, while Duke fans are more like "Pish posh, what rivalry? We look down on you." And then we beat them, and the stars realign.

Anywayyy, this game was always a big deal when I was at school, and an even bigger deal with it was a home game. I was part of a group of students that "did big things," namely for football and basketball. Annnnd pretty much only for the Duke game. Here are some examples:
Sophomore Year

This was on the "student wall." Each seat had a posterboard on it, and the students held them up when the lights came on after the teams were announced. It was on ESPN, and it was glorious.

We also spray painted a plywood wall on the bridge that most students have to walk across to get to the basketball arena. We aren't really artists, but we did the best we could.

More pictures can be seen here.

Junior Year

This year, we got a little more creative with the student wall, and we created the Maryland flag out of posterboard. I can't take credit for the design, but I think it looks quite impressive.

We also put one of these newspapers on every seat in the arena. It's tradition to hold them up when the other team's players are announced. You know, to show that we're ignoring them. Obviously.

We got some help from the art school on the wall this year. Much improved.

Last, but not least, we attempted to recreate the "Hollywood" sign, but doing Maryland instead. It looked quite spiffy until it got windy and our supports didn't hold up as well as we thoughts. Oops.

More pictures from junior year here.

Senior Year

The bridge, again.

We did the newspapers they are in action!

I guess senior year was kind of a low-key year...and I don't have more pictures online because this was about when facebook put up their picture application, so pictures went on there instead of webshots...oops!

So that was the glory of my time spent at Maryland, learning to hate Duke for the rest of time. I am currently decked out in my Maryland gear and will be all set to watch the game tonight on a giant TV. Not exactly the same as my glorious spot next to the court (I was in the band...that means we got excellent seats!), but I might wave a newspaper in the air, just for old time's sake.

Running, of course. I did NOT want to run yesterday, but like 99% of the days, I felt great once I was out there. I never feel really good on runs until I'm about 2.5-3 miles in, so I just have to remind myself that I will feel better once I'm out there...and even better once the run is over! Today was nothing to write home about, but it is in the 40's and sunny, which is quite fantastic. It's supposed to be warm-ish for a couple more days, and then the weatherman says winter will return again. Can't say I'm excited about that.

Tuesday, February 24
8.03 miles in 1:02:30, avg pace of 7:47

Wednesday, February 25
4.05 miles in 33:47, avg pace of 8:20

Time to prepare for the big game tonight! GO TERPS!!!
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Monday, February 23, 2009

New Shoes!!

In general, I hate spending money...I would rather walk two miles than pay two dollars for a bus. My most impulsive buy ever was purchasing all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls, but to my defense, they were $15 per season, which is an extreme bargain if you've ever bought a season of anything on DVD. Anyway, despite my admitted frugality, I have absolutely no problem spending money on running shoes, and I will buy them at a drop of a hat. Of course, I usually buy the previous season's model, as they are generally much cheaper this way. I've heard rumors that running shoes have a "shelf life" and that it's not a good idea to buy "old" shoes, but I generally get the same mileage out of them anyway, so I figure I'll save myself a buck (or forty) and get last season's.

I've been running in Brooks shoes, namely the Adrenaline, since my junior year of high school. I just went through five pairs of the Adrenaline 6, and I LOVE them. Carried me through both of my marathons. Running Warehouse has awesome deals on shoes right now, including the Adrenaline 8, so of course I jumped right on that! Two pairs are coming my way on Thursday...woohoo! (Running Warehouse offers free two day shipping, which is also a good deal)! I normally might be a little wary about ordering shoes online (I'm "that girl" who runs in the shoes back and forth in the store for half an hour), but these shoes have been consistent in their fit, so I'm pretty confident that they will work out.

I have about 220 miles on my current shoes, so I'll definitely need two more pairs to be set for marathon day, since I usually get about 350-400 miles out of each pair. I don't rotate my shoes, but I'm going to try that to hopefully stretch them a little longer.

Do you have a favorite pair of shoes, or do you switch between brands/shoes within brands? Sometimes I think about trying something new, but then again...why fix something that isn't broken?

Anyway, run for the day!

Monday, January 23
4.05 miles in 33:20, avg pace of 8:14

Cold, cold day again! It was about 8 degrees when I ran this morning...March is around the corner and I couldn't be more excited for a glimpse of spring. Mileage is starting to bump up this week, as the 3-milers turn into 4-milers and the 7-milers into 8-milers. I need to remind myself to slooooow down, which is something I need to have on repeat because it's hard to slow down when you feel good!
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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Auto Show!

Fun day today! Well, at least the second half was fun. I woke up to a winter wonderland (of sorts), as it snowed about two inches overnight. It continued to snow on and off throughout the day, which wasn't too bad, but the WIND. Oh the wind. It could definitely push you over! I headed out for my ten miles this morning, and I saw tons of people out with their snow blowers, but only one other person out running. That's when I feel accomplished...when I'm out there, but no one else is out there braving the weather! It was sooooo windy on the way out, but on the way back I could totally feel the wind pushing me along, which is a definite help! Legs felt awesome as well...good end to my cut back week, and hopefully next week will be a fantastic jump in mileage!

Saturday, February 21
10.16 miles in 1:22:16, avg pace of 8:06

After lunch, my dad and I headed down to the Chicago Auto Show, which is a huge event every year. There are rumored to be about 1,000 cars there, which just goes to show how big the convention center is! The real stars of the show are the concept cars, which are prototypes to display new technologies, styles, and designs. The Corvette Stingray was quite fantastic, probably the best at the show! We also saw Lamborghinis and Ferraris, just to name a few! I love Porsche, but for whatever reason they didn't come to the Auto Show this year! Probably a result of the economy, but I was still disappointed. At least I got to see a bunch of other cars, and sit in a few cars that I can only dream of owning!
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Friday, February 20, 2009


As you may (or, more likely, may not) know, my first college degree was a Bachelor of Science in dietetics. When I started college, I wanted to be a doctor. However, I didn't want to be a biology/chemistry major like every other doctor in the world, and I've always been interested in nutrition, and since nutrition is kind of a big deal in medicine (or at least it should be), I decided to major in it. This lasted almost the whole first semester when I realized that "nutrition" was more about the science-y stuff and "dietetics" was more about teaching other people about nutrition/eating right (still with plenty of science to go around, don't be fooled!). I switched my major and 3.5 years later, I have a piece of paper that would make it seem that I know what I'm talking about.

Which I do, for the most part, but that's not to say I didn't continuously eat brownies while reading my nutrition books. I'm a huge fan of irony.

Anyway, I've always pretty much been able to eat whatever I want and have my weight be fairly stable...whether that's due to running or just a fabulous metabolism is yet to be determined, but it's probably a combination of both. I eat pretty healthy in general, but I confess that I eat way more sugary food than I should. Namely: M&M's, Twizzlers/Swedish Fish/Sour Patch Kids/any gummy candy, and ice cream (!!!). Oh, and if I make chocolate chip cookies, I guarantee that I will eat at least eight per day. Life could be much worse, but I realize this isn't the best nutritionally. Therefore, starting yesterday, I've been trying to cut my sugary food intake, and I've done pretty well so far, I like to think.

Yesterday I had one fruit roll up and a small bowl of ice cream. Today, I had one Twizzler and one fruit roll up. I'm definitely all about moderation, so I don't feel bad about eating a treat every day, but I think it'll be good to cut down on the sugar food and eat more real fuel. Instead, I've been having yogurt, granola, cereal, fruit, or some combination of those. So far so good, so we'll see how this lasts. Reading food blogs has definitely been a motivator/inspiration for this change.

Back to running! It was cold (20-ish degrees) and windy when I went out for my 7 miles at "pace," so naturally it took me a little while to drag my butt out there. On my out-and-back run, the "out" part is into the wind, which makes it nice for coming "back." I realize how much more I have to work running into the wind, because the pace seems difficult on the way out, but on the way back, the miles just fly by! Case in point:

Friday, February 20th
7.07 miles in 54:07, avg pace of 7:39

First half: 3.5 miles in 27:38, avg pace of 7:54
Second Half: 3.5 miles in 26:00, avg pace of 7:26

What a difference...just goes to show what effect the weather may have on running. We're supposed to get snow tonight...anywhere from 2-10 inches depending who you ask, so that should make it interesting on the roads this weekend! My big plans for the weekend include a 10 mile long run (cut back week!), and going to the Auto Show with my dad to check out some awesome cars. Should be fun. :)

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Snow, Round 462

After the first warm days of the year, I always expect it to be continuously warm. This, of course, never happens and it always is cold again and I'm always disappointed. You would think I would learn after 17 years in Chicago, but one can always hope, right?? Anyway, it was raining/misting this morning when I went for my run, and I just looked out my window, and it's SNOWING. I can't say I'm surprised since it snowed in May last year (last year was a TERRIBLE winter...even by Chicago standards. Not that this year is much better. Anyway.), but part of me always hopes that winter will bow out early. I don't think it's cold enough for the snow to stick, but I still see the flurries.

Sometimes I wonder why I didn't push my boyfriend to consider Stanford with a little more interest. Sunny California instead of smelly Jersey? What was I thinking? (No offense to Jersey...I don't actually think it smells!)

Moving on...I got up to run before work this morning, mainly because I'm too lazy to shower both before AND after work, so if I run before work, that's only one shower! Fantastic.

Wednesday, February 18th
3.06 miles in 25:52, avg pace of 8:27

I was up and out the door within ten minutes, which is probably why my legs were like "Whoa! Susan! Do you really think this is a good idea?" Luckily, after about 1-1.5 miles, my legs woke up and remembered how to put themselves one in front of the other, which I consider handy while running.

Work was fairly uneventful...I was hosting, which isn't my favorite (less $$$!!!), but when we're slow we just stand around and talk so I can't complain too much. One of the managers said something about me getting my exercise at work, and I was like "Oh don't worry, I ran before I came in this morning." And she replied, "Oh yeah? How far did you run?" Me, "Only three." Because to me, three miles isn't far at all, but I forget that some people think that running one mile is a journey. What different minds we runners have!

Finally, go check out Caitlin's blog, Healthy Tipping Point, for a fantastic Road ID giveaway! Even if you have a Road ID, you should check out the blog anyway since it's an awesome read!
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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Chicago with Mom!

Fun day today! My mom goes to a doctor in downtown Chicago, and she had an evening appointment, so I went with her and then we did some shopping and went out to dinner! I haven't been to Chicago to do anything non-school related in a long time, so it was quite fun. I LOVE Chicago and think it's (one of) the greatest city(ities) in the world, so it's exciting whenever I head down there. Michigan Ave is THE place to be for shopping in Chicago, so we walked around there and my mom told me stories about when she used to work in the city a loooooong time ago. Apparently Walgreens (a drugstore!) used to service lunch, so they would go there for a lunch a couple times a week, which is kind of a foreign idea to me since their grocery items are rather limited now. We walked past a Garmin store, so I wanted to go in and looks at the watches, of course! Garmin also has devices for planes and boats, which I didn't know...kind of crazy, if you ask me. They also have a dog tracking device, which I think is funny...and definitely something my sister would buy!

After shopping, we headed to the Grand Lux Cafe on the recommendation of my mom's coworker. Everything reminded me of The Cheesecake Factory, who apparently owns them, so that made sense. We got an awesome booth that overlooked the intersection of Michigan and Ontario, so it was fun to people-watch while eating! I had a tasty pulled pork sandwich, and my mom had a burger...both were excellent! Dessert looked tempting, but we were both full so we passed. I think you have to go to places like The Cheesecake Factory ONLY for dessert if you want because the desserts are meals in themselves...but oh so yummy!

I was definitely hungry for dinner tonight after my run this morning, and the craziness of work yesterday. When we get busy at work, it's non-stop and time flies...but we're running the entire time! Definitely exhausting.

Monday, January 16th
3.05 miles in 23:58, avg pace of 7:52

I tend to run a little on the faster side if I run after work. I think my legs are all warmed up from being on my feet all day, so I don't have to spend the beginning waking up my legs.

Tuesday, January 17th
7.25 miles in 55:13, avg pace of 7:37

I did NOT want to run this morning! However, like 99% of the time, I felt much better once I got out there. My mile splits were: 7:54, 8:00, 8:01, 7:39, 7:32, 7:11, 7:04, 1:48 (7:07). Those were some flying miles at the end, which was possibly a little too fast, but it felt good! Definitely made me feel better because my legs have been tired the past few days.
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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Happy Valentine's Day, blogosphere!! I don't have anything planned date-wise since my boyfriend is in New Jersey, but I did get Valentine's Day love via the postal service! I'm not really into the whole Valentine's Day thing (probably stems from my younger years spent boyfriend-less), but if everyone else is getting presents, then I want some too! haha. I got upset last year because he didn't get me anything because he interpreted "I think Valentine's Day is dumb" as "I don't need to do anything," but we all know that's girl-speak for "You better do something anyway!" We're so confusing, we females.

Anyway, these arrived on Thursday, and for anyone who knows me well, knows that they are PERFECT:

Fruit roll-ups! I LOVE candy ('s terrible how much I eat it!), so it's an awesome present for me. However, these aren't just any fruit roll-ups...they're customized!!

You can't see the pictures too well, but there are two pictures of us on all the fruit roll-ups! So good.

These arrived today. :) My mom thought that they were for her, so she kept thanking the delivery man...haha.

Picture from above because they're so pretty!! The card with the flowers read: What did the guy with the broken leg say to his nurse? "I've got a crutch on you!" Too funny.

I'd say it's a pretty successful Valentine's Day! I'm definitely going to snack on some M&M chocolate chip cookies I made earlier this week to get a chocolate fix...I deserve some after my awesome long run! It snowed about an inch last night, but it never got much colder than about 30 degrees, so all the streets were pretty much dry by the time I ran this morning. I mapped out a 14 mile route that had limited stops (I only ended up stopping to try and take some gels...more on the later), which is good since some I get all the red lights and my runs end up way too stop-and-go for my liking.

Saturday, February 14th - Valentine's Day!
14.13 miles in 1:53:28, avg pace of 8:02
Splits: 8:11, 8:16, 8:04, 7:57, 8:11, 8:08, 8:19, 8:05, 7:53, 7:59, 8:00, 7:47, 7:50, 7:40, 1:01 (7:55)

After the first couple miles, I decided to play the "don't look at Garmin" game because sometimes I am too dependent on the watch slash freak out if I'm going to slow. However, this resulted in some miles that were probably too fast for the long run, but I felt fine and ended strong so life is good. I actually ran on streets that I'd never run before (I'm not big on change, so I run the three same routes all the time), and I realized that actually made the time go faster...the miles just clicked right off! That's the way long runs should be.

Everything about this run was fantastic outside of the gels. Oh, the gels. I just don't think they're going to work for me! I had my route planned to take one at mile 5 and one at mile 10 (how's that for planning?), so I dropped off water and gels at this location. I psyched myself up as I reached the drop point, telling myself that, this time, the gels were going to work. No dice. I'd take some, and then as I went to swallow, back out it would come (sorry, TMI?). I got maybe 1/4 of each one down, but the rest is on some poor soul's sidewalk. I'm going to reevaluate the situation and perhaps try out solid foods or give the Shot Bloks another go. Unless anyone has some brilliant suggestions for the gels? I just can't seem to get them down.

Haha so, on that lovely note, I'm off to enjoy the rest of my Valentine's Day, and I hope you are too. Remember, significant others don't have to be can tell your friends and family that you love them too!

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th...I don't really believe in superstitions or anything, but nothing bad has happened today. Nothing overly exciting either, but oh well. I spent my rest day yesterday applying to more jobs...woohoo! It's really quite repetitive at this point since I pretty much copy paste my information into little boxes, adjust my cover letter (does anyone actually read those?), and then sit and wait. My father, trying to be supportive, emailed me this anecdote from when he was job searching many, many moons ago (as in, pre-children. Pre-thought of children, actually.):

"If you recall - when Mom & I moved to Chicago, I just took out the yellow pages and spent days going door to door - I would map out the architectural firms on a street map and just go up and down the streets - it was in a recession too, and many times they would tell me that the week before the company had just laid off X number of people. It was not much fun - finally, the job I got was due to a fellow having just leaving the company I got a job at because he was mad at the bosses.

Shows that something can pop up at any time."

Yes, I suppose so. Maybe I'll cross my fingers that some nurses will be upset with their bosses? Sounds like a sticky situation to get into.

Anywayyyy, I ran seven miles this morning, after it took me and hour and a half to get out the door. (That's one glory of not really doing anything all day...I can stall all I want!) Pace was supposed to be easy, in moderation. This worked out okay for a little bit, but then the run kind of turned into a progression run, and I was zooming by the end. Felt pretty good since my legs have been kind of dead all week. Here are some numbers to crunch:

Friday, February 13th
7.04 miles in 54:01, avg pace of 7:40
Splits (since they look cool): 8:01, 7:53, 7:49, 7:42, 7:30, 7:31, 7:14

So that was exciting. Fourteen miles tomorrow, and another chance to try out some gels! Fantastic. We're supposed to get some snow tonight...I heard rumors of up to three inches, but I'm hoping the weatherman is wrong. We shall see, I suppose.

Hope everyone has a freaky Friday the 13th (hahah), and a great Valentine's Day tomorrow!

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I need a job...

I'm not going to lie...this whole "job search" this is absolutely terrible. Nursing jobs are extremely limited in the Philadelphia/New Jersey area (at least in the parts I'm looking!), especially for new graduate nurses. The biggest lead I had was an interview in January, and I was supposed to have another phone interview with them after I got home from my cruise, but despite three voicemails, they have yet to return my calls. I was in contact with a nurse recruiter at another hospital, and I emailed her to update about passing the boards, and she replied to inform me that they are only taking internal applicants for their new-to-practice positions. Alright then, sorry I didn't have $90,000 to attend your school of nursing (where I REALLY wanted to go...but honestly, nurses don't make THAT much money, so I couldn't justify it). I've also gotten multiple, "Although we were impressed with your qualifications and experience, we decided to go with someone who more closely fits our employment needs." I love generic rejection letters, especially when they end with, "Please continue to check our employment website for future opportunities!" Will do, buddy.

I'm possibly expanding my search to nursing home type places, which I really don't want to do. My sister is a nurse at an assisted living facility and she loves it, but it's definitely not my cup of tea. This is mostly frustrating because part of me just wants to move and get some random job (i.e. another waitress job, etc.) while I search for a nursing job, but then I'm like...well...Do I get an apartment in Philly and hope some hospital in Philly has openings? What if I don't get a job in Philly?...I don't want to commute OUT of the city. Should I move somewhere in Princeton? Opportunities are limited there as well, and my license is in Pennsylvania, not New Jersey, although I could always get a NJ license. Such questions...

Now you know what I think about when I run! Today was a rainy, easy three miler.

Wednesday, February 11
3.06 miles in 25:52, avg pace of 8:28

Nothing too exciting, although my legs felt like they had a little more pep than yesterday, and the easy pace definitely helped with that. Splashed in a giant puddle after about 3/4 of a mile, so I had the whole soggy shoe situation going for the rest of the time, but I figured that gave me reason to splash in the puddles I saw the rest of the way since my socks were already soaked! We must embrace the five year old in us when we can. :)

Time to make chicken fajitas for dinner (yum!)...Thanks for listening (reading?) my blabber!
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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

New name!

As you may (or may not) have noticed, I changed the name of my blog. The web address is still the same, but instead of "susan runs" (how generic...), it's now "nurse on the run." I always wanted to use this name, but I clearly didn't want to jinx myself, so I waited until I was official! Now I just need a job...

It was a BEAUTIFUL day here in Chicago, reaching 60 degrees in February is amazing. It was a bit breezy, but running in shorts and a tank top was fantastic! Seven miles were up for today, as I adjusted my schedule (by skipping cross training on Monday and moving right on into running for the week) because I'm working on Sunday so I figured I should do my long run on Saturday. 14 on the 14th, woo! That gives me free reign to eat extra chocolate on Valentine's Day, right?? Anyway, run for the day:

Tuesday, February 10th
7.13 miles in 56:52, avg pace of 7:59

Not my best run ever! My legs felt tired, especially the last two miles...which were into the wind to add to the fun. I don't think I've recovered from my long run yet and am therefore still feeling the effects of it. I don't have too many runs that don't feel so hot, so days like today are always tough for me. Definitely mental training for marathon day, as those later miles require focus and the knowledge that, hey, I've been there before and made it through! I'm going to work on developing some mantras and positive thoughts that I can tell myself when the going gets tough.
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The Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing has a "license verification" section where you can look up people to, um, verify that they are actually licensed. So, of course, I looked up myself up yesterday, and I verified that I have a temporary permit to work as a graduate nurse. Today, that permit was "null and void" because Pennsylvania has me listed as a


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Monday, February 9, 2009

Nursing is NOT multiple choice

Today I traveled downtown to Chicago to take the NCLEX...woohoo! I commuted via train from my (parents') home in the suburbs all through nursing school, so I got to revisit my public transportation ways. When I got to the testing center, I noticed a few familiar faces, and then a couple more trickled in, so in total five people from my nursing program were there. It was nice to have someone to chat with prior to the test, especially since we spent nearly every day together in 2008 and then we hadn't seen each other since graduation last month! Catching up was good...then it was test time! There was this horrid construction going on next door, and the proctor was like "Don't worry, it'll stop at 8!" Okay, well, it's currently 7:35 and I could potentially be done with the exam at 8 if I'm super fast, but nevermind that. I took advantage of the ear plugs and noice-cancelling headsets that were available, although I could still hear a little pounding.

The exam itself went okay...Not as well as I would have liked, I suppose. We had to take an exit exam (HESI, if anyone has heard of it) prior to graduation, and HESI is supposed to be much harder than the NCLEX. Well, I thought HESI was a breeze, and the NCLEX was definitely more difficult! I think nursing exams in general are weird because nursing is definitely not multiple choice, but all the exams are! Especially when I'm like, "Well, none of these answers seem like a good answer" or "Honestly, two of these would be just fine." Drives me crazy! The exam can be anywhere between 75-265 questions, and it automatically shuts off when it has 95% confidence that you either passed or failed. My exam shut off at 75 questions, so I either failed miserably or passed with flying colors. I'm hoping for the second, and I can get my unofficial results later this week. In the meantime, I will be doing my best to distract myself, and running is actually an excellent distraction, so that's what I did when I got home! Fantastic.

Monday, January 9th
3.04 miles in 24:15, avg pace of 7:59

Short and to the point. My legs felt a little stiff after yesterday's long run, but overall the run went well. The rest of my afternoon was spent having my own Gilmore Girls marathon (a perk of owning all seven seasons on DVD...glorious!), and I'm quite looking forward to The Bachelor tonight. Hometown dates, woo!

Hope everyone is having a good start to the week!
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Sunday, February 8, 2009

"You were gone for a really long time!"

The title of this post is compliments of my ever-observant father, who noted that I had been gone for a long time when I returned home from running. :)

We got a glimpse of spring here in Chicago, which made for some nice running weather. Yesterday it reached 55 degrees...good for running, not food for the breakfast/lunch restaurant business! We were sooooo slow in the morning (I decided everyone was out watching their cars), so two servers were sent home before noon. We then got a huge rush of people (we had a 25 minute waiting list!), which made it absolutely insane for the rest of the time. I thought I was caught up, and then I would get another table. This, of course, is good for my bank account, but I feel bad when my service is lacking because I'm running around the entire time.

The last thing I wanted to do when I got home from running around work was run, but it's too hard to pass up shorts weather...and I like to stick to my schedule! Hal called for six miles at marathon pace (yet to be determined...), and here's what we ended up with:

Saturday, January 7th
6.09 miles in 45:24, avg pace of 7:27

Clearly NOT marathon pace...I blame the weather because I think that paces feel different based on the temperature, not to mention the fact that I only had on one layer of clothing, versus the usual three! Of course, I wondered if the faster-than-usual run would affect my long run today, but it turned out just fine. Here are the states for my Sunday long run:

Sunday, January 8th
13.14 miles in 1:48:58, avg pace of 8:18
Splits: 8:14, 8:17, 8:29, 8:30, 8:20, 8:27, 8:24, 8:29, 8:19, 8:15, 8:08, 7:48, 1:01 (7:25)

I was proud of myself for this long run! The pace felt comfortable, and I ended strong. I definitely added on the last 0.1 mile so I could say I ran a half marathon today! :) The real test of the day was trying out my gels! I only ended up taking one around mile 6.5...I was planning on using two, but I couldn't bring myself to take another one later in my run. I tried the PowerBar Gel in Strawberry Banana, and while the flavor was okay, I really can't deal with the texture. I took about 1/3 of the gel and then swallowed some water...then I spent the next five minutes psyching myself up to take the rest of it. It felt like I was back in college when someone would offer a shot that I didn't want to take (not that I took many shots in college...but just saying). I squeezed a little gel into my mouth and then immediately drank some water before I was able to spit it back out.

The texture is what really gets to me, so maybe I just need to adjust to it or try a different brand. I never felt tired during the long run, which I suppose means that the gel did its job, and I definitely want to use some kind of energy food, but I'm still working on which one. Next weekend is another opportunity to experiment, so hopefully I can work on getting the gels down.

Upcoming this week: NCLEX! (Board exam for nurses!) Wish me luck!!
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Friday, February 6, 2009

Gel Shopping

On my rest day today, I headed over to REI to go gel shopping! When I was in college and preparing for my first marathon, the closest place I could find with energy food was REI, and I remembered that they had a large selection...or at least larger than the mini-kiosk that Dick's has. So to REI it was. I don't purchase anything without thinking about it for at least half an hour (the reason why I only go shopping with my mom...I feel bad taking up so much of my friends' time!), so I stood in the gel aisle pondering flavors and brands for quite awhile. Here's what I made out with in the end:

I got one PowerBar Gel in Strawberry Banana (my boyfriend's favorite), one Hammer Gel in Raspberry, and one Gu in Tri-Berry. The Gu brand has caffeine added...not sure what effect that will have since I've never used any energy foods with caffeine, but it can't hurt, especially since I consume a fair amount of caffeine anyway (Diet Pepsi addict...admittedly). I also picked up a LUNAbar, which I've had previously, and I thought might make for a good snack while serving. Sometimes it's tough to get food in while working, especially since we get busy during prime eating hours!

In other news, I've been on the job search like mad, and I've come up with nothing. I've applied to sixteen jobs since I started keeping track, and at least ten prior to that. I've had one interview, and I'm supposed to do another phone interview with them, but they have been impossible to reach and haven't returned my messages. I'm applying in both Philadelphia and New Jersey, but I would rather be in the city. Pennsylvania allows you to work as a nurse with a temporary permit, which I recently obtained, but most places would prefer an actual license. I'm taking the NCLEX (nursing board exam) soon so hopefully that will help with the job hunt, but the other obstacle is that 99% of the job postings want nurses with experience, which I don't have since I just graduated! It's one of those you-need-experience-but-no-one-will-give-it-to-you situations, which is rough. I'm not jealous of anyone hunting for a job right now!

Time to make some dinner...I'm trying out this tangy pineapple chicken recipe, but I'm adding some peppers and onions to it. Hope everyone has a great weekend and some great weekend runs!

Be sure to look for my report on the gels this weekend!
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Thursday, February 5, 2009


A few weeks ago, we received a door-to-door solicitation saying that our household could potentially be selected to participate in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Well, we were selected, and since I was in the age range that was being selected, I was able to participate in this survey! The survey is "the Federal Government's primary source of national data on the use of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit substances. The survey also contains questions on health, illegal behaviors, and other topics associated with substance abuse." About 70,000 people, ages twelve and older, will be survey this year, and I represent about 4,500 people who are similar to me. That's a lot of pressure! The information gathered is used to determine a need for drug treatment facilities, drug use prevention programs (such as D.A.R.E., which you might remember from elementary school), and to monitor drug control strategies. The results from the survey will be posted here near the end of the year, although last year's results are already up. I admittedly am rather naive when it comes to various illegal substances, so I didn't even know what some of the questions were asking about. However, I did my duty to society...and received monetary compensation for an hour of my time! Good deal.

This morning included my lovely three mile run, where I tried to embrace the idea of running s-l-o-w. A speedy three mile run isn't going to help my marathon at all, and instead could leave me tired for the weekend long runs, especially now that the mileage is climbing. I need to remember not to panic when my garmin tells me that my pace is 8:30...that's not slow at all! I definitely should be doing more of my runs around that pace anyway. So, the run for today:

Thursday, February 5
3.02 miles in 25:22, avg pace of 8:25

Tomorrow will be a rest day before gearing up for a 13 miler on Sunday! Awesome.

And, of course, don't forget to check out chic runner's blog for her GIVEAWAY. Everyone loves free stuff, so go check it out.
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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Long Run Nutrition

Not too much to report today...another cold, cold six mile run. It was sunny so that made it at least feel a little warmer, although I'm totally over winter. Run for the day:

Wednesday, February 4
6.05 miles in 48:12, avg pace of 7:58

It took me nearly an hour and a half to actually get out the door to do this run...I was not feeling it today, but once I got there, it was perfectly fine. The hardest part is always getting out the door!

Now for a question...Despite running two marathons, I'm still a novice when it comes to nutrition/energy intake during long runs and the marathon itself. I know what I need to take in, but I haven't found something that works for me. It seems that gels are the most popular, but I tried them once and had a whole gag response to them. Maybe I just need to adjust to them, so I will probably give them another try. Any suggestions on which brand or flavor? There are so many different kinds out there, and I'm sure it depends on personal preference, but any suggestions would be much appreciated!

For my first marathon (Marine Corps 2006), I used Clif Shot Bloks (Cran Razz, I believe). They were okay, but I had to cut them in half to chew because they were so big, and even then I had to spend a lot of time chewing them. I also tried some Sharkies during training and had a few with me during the marathon, but they also required a lot of chewing!

For my second marathon (Chicago 2007), I had a mix of Shot Bloks, Sport Beans, and your normal run-of-the-mill Gummi Bears. I don't actually like jelly beans, so naturally Sport Beans weren't my favorite, but they were smaller and went down a little better than the Shot Bloks. However, I lost my bag of goodness around mile 9...I had a plastic bag pinned to the inside of my shorts, and it must have fallen off without me realizing it. Around mile 10 I knew the marathon wasn't going to be an all-star event anyway, so I wasn't that upset about it. I concentrated on getting liquids in at the water stops, and I took bananas when the aid stations offered them.

With my first longer long run coming up this weekend (13 miles!), I want to start practicing/trying out different nutrition types, so if you have any suggestions, I'll take them with me when I go shopping! Thanks!
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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Towel animals are AWESOME

It was back to a frigid 8 degrees for my three mile run, but I guess it warmed up to the teens later in the day. I went to a baby shower/housewarming party for a server at work, which was fun. She pretty much has her entire house all decorated and it looks so good! She painted a couple rooms in a deep red color, which looks awesome even though people say it makes the room look smaller. We all brought baby gifts, and I prior to going shopping at Babys R Us, I never knew that babies had so much stuff! Baby wipes warmers, twelve different kinds of's really crazy, but all the stuff is so cute! My kids will be decked out in Bears and Cubs clothes (and "Run Mom Run" onesies!), that's for sure. Run for the day:

Tuesday, February 3
3.02 miles in 24:55, avg pace of 8:14

It was so cold again! Just your typical three mile run...nothing fancy, kept the pace in check. I'm ready for it to be warm again...I probably sound like a broken record, but it could at least be in the high 20's...that's not too much to ask!

I think we all need some warm fuzzies (with the cold and the economy and all), so what better way than to check out some towel animals! Cruises are famous for providing guests with towel animals, and we got a different one with turn down each night. They're so cute!

Our first night, we got this walrus guy...complete with boyfriend's sunglasses!

Nassau brought us this dog, who looks all chill in my sunglasses.

Half Moon Cay...Sooo, I'm pretty much obsessed with elephants, and that little guy in a tux is named Gatsby. He has a tux because he went to prom with me, and yes, his cummerbund is a scrap from when I got my prom dress altered, so we matched. I left Gatsby out in hopes that our housekeeping guy would make us an elephant...success!

Thanks to the glory of self-timer, we got a picture of us together with the bear in Grand Turk!

I am terrified of snakes, and I saw the people across the hall from us had a snake towel, so I was hoping we wouldn't get one...but we did. At least I made the best of the situation during our day at sea!

Okay, I hope you all got some warm fuzzies out of that! You could always learn how to make your own towel animals....could be fun!!

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Monday, February 2, 2009

Cruisin' - Take Two

Just finished watching The Bachelor...I'm sad about the girl he sent home, but I really never saw anything between them, so I expected her to be gone at some point. Not that I really see anything between him and any of the girls, but that's another story.

Back to the cruise!! Some more pictures to make you jealous:

This is the view of Grand Turk's "cruise town" from the ship. The pool there belong to "Margaritaville," of the famed Jimmy Buffet. I don't know if you can tell a different in the water here, but we went snorkeling again and it was a MILLION time better. The first snorkeling location in Grand Turk was at "the wall" where the ocean floor suddenly drops 7,000 feet. That was awesome to see, and the water was unbelievably could see forever! The fish were pretty too. The second location was much shallower, and we were able to see a nurse shark, so I can say I went swimming with the sharks!

The entrance to Margaritaville!! Had to snap a picture with the parrot.

Poolside margarita with the boy! I never did "spring break" per se (always travelled with the pep band for March Madness!), so this was the closest I could get.
Our last day on the cruise ship was spent at sea on our way back to Miami. Of course, that meant we had lots of time to eat! Naturally, we had to take a picture of the eating that occurred!

We had nearly twelve hours to kill between getting off the ship and catching our flights, so we decided to hit up the Miami Seaquarium. I thought it was going to be more aquarium-like, but it really was just a bunch of shows to go and see. Our first show featured Lolita, this killer whale...she was huge!

Being silly on the way to check out the crocodiles...

The dolphin jumped through the hoop...I was impressed, and I was only ten feet away!

That's the end of my mini-cruise recap. It was TONS of fun, especially since I've never been on a cruise before. It was so nice to just relax and all I had to worry about was making sure I put on enough sunscreen. Sounds like vacation to me! Some highlights also included:

1. Trying to figure out how to get to South Beach from our hotel in downtown Miami, we wandered into the Marriott because our hotel wasn't helpful at all. We got some directions from the limo driver and the concierge and were on our way. While walking to public transportation, some guy pulls up next to us and says "Hey guys! I'm the limo driver from the hotel...I just got off work and I live over towards South Beach so I'll give you a ride!" Sooo we got our own personal ride/tour on the way to South Beach, complete with tips on where to walk around and eat. Awesome.

2. Running into a couple at the airport who was on my post-Maryland graduation trip to Europe. They live near me here in Illinois, and they were flying back to Chicago from the Dominican Republic. I'd been looking for someone I knew all trip, and I found them on the way home!

3. Melting chocolate cake, a dessert that they had every night on the cruise. I don't even like chocolate cake (I know, I'm not female!), but this was AMAZING. It tasted like a brownie that was slightly undercooked and straight out of the oven. Served with vanilla ice cream, it was soooo good.

4. The sun. Enough said.

The cruise was a wonderful time, although I'm not sure I would go on one again. It was definitely a good thing to do once, but it was a little too much about the food, and I like to actually check out different places versus just going to "cruise towns" as I like to call them. That being said, I would definitely recommend it to people who want to relax and have pretty much everything planned for them.

Of course, marathon training doesn't stop just because you're cruising! We took our shoes with us like good marathoners do, and we got to run in the sun in Miami! The cruise ship had a gym with treadmills, so we used them for our runs on the ship. It was wayyyy too windy (for me!) to run on the ship's deck, plus weaving in and out of everyone didn't sound like much fun. I (barely) survived the treadmill, but boyfriend did part of his runs on deck.

Monday, January 26
3.11 miles in 24:51, avg pace of 8:00

We ran from our hotel in Miami to this little island which is pretty much filled with high rise condos. Garmin was NOT a fan of downtown Miami, and when it was looking for signal, it actually asked, "Are you hundreds of miles from the location of last use?" Why yes, I am.

Wednesday, January 28
6.0 miles in 48:40, avg pace of 8:07 (ish...I think that's what the numbers were!)

My first run EVER on a treadmill. I survived, but I stared at the distance the entire time...doesn't exactly help the time pass! I never spend time in a gym (obviously...I don't belong to one or anything), and it was funny to watch people...grandmas walking on the treadmill in sandals and people using the elliptical while reading...they couldn't possibly be working that hard!

Friday, January 30
3.0 miles in 23:40, avg pace of 7:53

Such a short distance seemed so long on the treadmill! I purposely increased the pace so I could get it over with, but it seems to me that the "treadmill pace" doesn't feel like the same pace when I run on the road...Is that how it is for other people? I felt like I was running faster than the treadmill was telling me.

Sunday, FEBRUARY 1 - woohoo, February means it won't be bitter cold!!
6.27 miles in 47:17, avg pace of 7:33

Back on dry land, and luckily it was a toasty 38 degrees in Chicago! This was supposed to be at "marathon pace," but I'm still deciding what that is. 7:30 miles are definitely going to be too fast, at least for this marathon. 7:50-ish will probably be much more likely.

Monday, February 2
8.05 miles in 1:04:25, avg pace of 8:00
Splits: 8.07, 8:24, 8:12, 8:20, 7:55, 7:50, 7:41, 7:28, 0:23 (7:18)

Long run on a cutback week. I'm feeling a bit under the weather, but my cold is "above the neck," which is what I've heard is the deciding factor on whether to run or not. (Note: This is not based on any medical evidence or could be, but I don't know about it.) The run actually helped clear my nose out a little, at least in the short term. It was really windy on the way out, and I could definitely feel a difference on the way back. If you check out my splits, it is really easy to see the difference the wind made:

First four miles: 33:05, avg pace of 8:16
Second four miles: 30:56, avg pace of 7:44

Back to reality now...Job hunting and studying for the NCLEX! (NCLEX = board exam for nursing) Hope you all enjoyed my vacation recap!
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Cruisin' - Take One

I am back safe and sound from my FANTASTIC cruise in the Caribbean! It was warm, sunny, and I've never eaten so much food in my entire life! A picture says a thousand words, so here's a little photo journey of my relaxation time!

Palm trees in Miami!! There's no snow on ground, and I'm wearing shorts! This definitely isn't Chicago...

One of the features of the cruise was all-you-can-eat ice cream. We were told it would be an "ice cream parlor" complete with toppings, etc, but it really was just soft serve ice cream and frozen yogurt. Luckily, I brought along some spare M&M's. Please note how white I currently am.

Our first stop was in the Bahamas! We were greeted by a marching band, which was exciting for the boyfriend and me because we met thanks to our college marching band/pep band. I played trombone, and he played mellophone/trumpet.

Boyfriend and I after our first snorkeling adventure! We did an excursion called "Catamaran Sail and Snorkel," so we were on a catamaran boat which drove us around, and then they dropped us off at a snorkeling location. The water was freezing, the waves were kind of choppy, and you couldn't see too far around you in the water, but it was fun and we were able to see some fish.

Our boat, the Carnival Destiny! It was huge, but yet so small in the ocean...

Most dinners on the ship were "Cruise Casual," but one night was "Cruise Elegant," so we got all dressed up!

Next stop was Half Moon Cay (pronounced "Key"...we were confused too), where we got to swim with stingrays! I was admittedly a little freaked out by them. After all, the Crocodile Hunter died from a stingray sting!

I like my water much better when it's clear blue and without stingrays! And that's our ship in the background.

With the boyfriend on the beach in Half Moon good!

Back on the boat, leaving Half Moon Cay!

It's time for the Bachelor, so I'll be back later with the rest of the trip! I'll be thinking warm thoughts, hopefully you will too!
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