Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday Book Review

For the past week I have been reading Geraldine Brooks's novel People of the Book. This book was first recommended to me by my aunt, then by Meredith, and then my friend Lauren. All of them were right and now its my turn to recommend this book to you.

Quick plot summary: an ancient, illustrated Haggadah (Jewish prayer book) is discovered in war torn Sarajevo in the mid 1990's. Hanna Heath, book conservationist is called in to examine the rare and beautiful find. She finds several items in the binding of the book that give clues to the book's 500 year history.

This book weaves seamlessly between modern day and ancient history. It is well-researched and informative, but not at all stuffy. We get to discover the past of the Haggadah and meet the people who helped form and create this work of art. I don't want to give too much away, because I want you all to read it so from here I'm going to tread as lightly as I possibly can. If you're worried about spoilers just stop at the end of this paragraph!

Here's a picture of the cover:

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks: Book Cover

  1. Since finishing the book about an hour ago, I've been thinking a lot about the title. Its really so clever - not only is this a book documenting Jewish history (the people of the book as in the literal Haggadah) but its also about the individuals whose lives somehow interacted with this book. Its about Jewish history, but its also about the actual literal people of the Sarajevo Haggadah. (...and time for a tangent, the coolest book I own is an old edition of Sir William Scott's Ivanhoe. I bought it at a thrift store in the Outer Banks and I have never read it, but just a few minutes ago, I opened up the front cover...its from 1911...how cool is that?!?!? Think of all the lives that book was a part of, even if only for a fleeting moment!)
  2. The story felt really natural. Even though I didn't know a lot about what they were talking about, I never felt lost when it came to the story.
  3. The women in this book are strong and well thought out. They reject a lot of typical conventions, which I like.
  4. It wasn't too long, which was a breath of fresh air after reading my pal Owen. I didn't have to dedicate huge chunks of my life to reading in order to finish this book in a week...and
  5. (to make this seem more round) Its based on a true story. For real! Look it up! I haven't had time to do any research on it (I was busy watching re-runs of The Office on TBS, trying to remind myself that Jim is a fictional character), but I will definitely look more into it. I love historical fiction, its just real enough that whatever happened in the book could have happened in real life.
Ok, I think I geeked out enough there. I can't wait to check out Geraldine Brooks's other books Year of Wonder and March. Find them at a bookstore near you!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

My 30 Day Bender

For my birthday this year, my BFF, Meredith gave me the Bender ball. I was so excited to get this gift! I think Meredith was worried that she might be sending me a bad message by giving me some workout equipment for my birthday, but I don't think so at all!

Here are a couple of reasons why I loved getting the Bender ball:

1. I am just starting to be able to see some tone and definition in my abs, and I think that the Bender ball can really help me tone up my tummy - just in time for bathing suit season!

2. It is featured on an infomercial. And I love infomercials. I have the Magic Bullet food processor, gave my dad ShamWows! for father's day, and am really Jones-ing for Bare Essenstials (the mineral make-up)

Anyways, this is what came with the kit: the Bender ball and three dvd's filled with ab workouts, as shown below:

So I decided to use my Bender ball every day for 30 days, or My 30 day Bender. I took measurements and before photos so I'll have something to compare to at the end of the month.

I did my first day yesterday. The first level was just intro on how to use the ball. So I decided to also do the second level. I did feel my abs working deep down, but I wasn't sore the next day.

Today (day 2) I decided to skip levels one and two of the first dvd and just did level three. It was definitely a more difficult work-out. We'll see how my abs are feeling tomorrow!

So far I like it. The work-outs are short but feel like they are effective. The ones I've done are only about 5 minutes long. I still have 6 more work-outs that I haven't tried, so those might be a little longer. I like that you only need to take a few minutes out of your day to get a work-out.

I'm not exactly sure how well its working my abs yet. I do crunches at the gym, so its not like I'm all of a sudden working out my abs so they'd feel really sore. I have a feeling though that the other workouts are going to get harder and harder as they sculpt my back and core.

Bikini season here I come!

Here Comes Peter Cottontail!

On Friday night, I went over my BFF, Meredith, parents' house to make and decorate chocolate Easter eggs. Meredith's mom makes these eggs every year. And they are goooooooooooood. Mere's family is basically my surrogate second family, I love getting invited to be a part of their family traditions.

I was tasked with the especially gross job of making the peanut butter egg filling for the peanut butter eggs. Even though it was really gross, I had fun making the stuff, especially since you mix it by hand.

It got less gross the more I worked with it and it got more delicious too!

After we made the filling and chilled them, we dipped them in chocolate. Then when they cooled, Judy and Meredith put pretty flowers and leaves on them.

They are as yummy as they are pretty!

It was a really fun night. I'm glad I got to spend the evening with some of my favorite people!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Traffic Cam

So I realize that its kind of late to posting to my blog on a Friday night, but whatever.

On my way home from work I ran into some TERRIBLE traffic. Since I was by myself in the car and practically every radio station must have had some kind of agreement to play only Ke$ha, disco, never-ending commercials, or some combination of the three, I decided that it was time to pull out my camera. Which gave me an even greater idea of taking random pictures while I'm stuck in traffic and blogging about my commute (so exciting right?).

DISCLAIMER: Before you yell at me for taking pictures while driving, let me assure you that each picture I took on my commute was taken at a very safe cruising speed of 0 mph, as shown below. Pinky swear. So there.

Anyways I just HAD to take a picture when I saw this lovely window cling:

What does this even mean? "Kick it if you don't like the Saints"??? Its like it was trying to copy those window clings of Calvin peeing on your rival teams mascot, but this one failed miserably. Its just so ambiguous - what exactly is getting kicked? are they kicking it old school? say I'm kind of wishy-washy on the Saints, do I deserve to have "it" kicked? Anyways it made me laugh for one of two reasons 1) its as funny (read: lame) as I think it is or 2) by the time Friday rolls around I have absolutely lost my mind.****

As soon as I got over "Kick it if you don't like the Saints" I realized that I was behind a car from none other than.....

Quebec! I had to take a picture because this car is first of all an international traveler but also because I took six semesters of French in high school and cannot for the life of me remember what "Je me souviens" means. I will remember me? Anyone?

So that was fun! I might do this kind of regularly.

Well that's all for tonight! My alarm will be going off in less than 8 hours, so I need to hit the hay! Early spinning class tomorrow, which will hopefully help me burn off some of the chocolate I ate tonight while making Easter eggs with by BFF and her real/my surrogate family, but I'll blog about that later.

Good night and thanks for stopping by!

****I pretty much just realized that I read that whole bumper sticker wrong. Way to go, Andrea. I think confirms my theory that by the time Friday rolls around, I have completely lost my mind...

Weekly Weigh In

Alright, confession time. I did not weigh in last night, as is my usual Thursday routine. Why you may (but probably won't) ask? I have a bunch of reasons including but not limited to the copious amount of alcohol I consumed Saturday night at a wedding and the broiled seafood platter and half bottle of wine I devoured at Mahi Mah's Wednesday night with my UVA pal Rob.

So excuses/reasons/logic aside, there was no scale for Andrea last night.

But I still went to my meeting. And let me tell you, I totally geeked out for the occasion. We can all scroll down a few blog posts and read about my awesome victory Saturday when I kicked the Shamrock 8K's ass and ran the whole thing (even if I probably could have walked faster than I was "running" that last mile). I'm still amazed by that accomplishment, so I wore my I heart (or Shamrock with little running feet) VB t-shirt and brought my victory medal for being awesome and finishing the race.

Let me just take a moment to say how much I freaking love my meeting. No one laughed at me when I strolled in there wearing my geeky shirt and even geekier medal (well they didn't until I made some hysterically awesome joke about it). They all clapped for me and told me how great it was that I finished and discovered this enjoyment in running, even the woman in my meeting who finished the half marathon. Now that's a huge accomplishment! They are all just so supportive, of everyone and of every problem. I couldn't do this without my meeting.

Since I have no actual weight-loss victory to report this week, I thought I'd share some non-scale victories that I've discovered along the way with Weight Watchers. First, I've learned that I will not die if I eat a vegetable. In fact, most of them are pretty ok, except broccoli *shudder.* And, bonus, since they're really healthy, you can eat a ton of them for absolutely zero Weight Watchers points. Second, all of this exercise I've been doing has really helped tone me up. Alright well, not like really tone me up, but when I flex my arm you can see that I do indeed have biceps and when you look at my stomach you can tell that I really do have abs, they're there, I promise! My stomach is no six pack, but not a keg either. Maybe its a 40? Who knows.

I've been having this mental battle pretty much all day with myself: after work do I go for a run or do I take a nap? Most of the time I pick the run, which is good good for me and gets my endorphins pumping and makes me all happy and relaxed, blah blah blah, and I would do in a second if it was sunny. But sadly its raining and the thought of running outdoors in the rain and in the cold is enough to drive me to my warm, cozy, cuddly bed. So the struggle continues.....

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Possibly the Greatest Invention Ever....

...and no, I'm not talking about the iPhone or electricity. Right now I'm pretty convinced that the greatest invention the world has ever seen is, without a doubt, Pandora Radio.

For anyone who doesn't know, Pandora Radio is radio on the web. Go to Pandora.com, type in your favorite song/artist/genre, sit back, and enjoy. Pandora creates a commercial-free radio station *just for you* that plays songs that are similar to what you originally typed in. I'm pretty sure it used to be called the Music Genome Project. Pretty cool, huh?

Pandora and I have had an off and on thing for a few years now. I'll rediscover her and listen to her anytime I'm near a computer for a month or so. Then all of a sudden, I dump her again. Its a vicious cycle, but she's always willing to take me back. :)

Last night I was having dinner with a friend when The Temptations "Ain't to Proud to Beg" came on the radio at the restaurant. I love The Temptations. I love that song. I was singing and dancing in the restaurant, luckily my friend did too. Yeah, that's right. We're cool like that.

That's what brought me back to Pandora this time. I heard The Temptations and game over. I'm on a total Motown kick. Thanks to Pandora, my computer has been pumping out Motown hit after Motown hit. I've been rocking out to The Supremes, The Jackson 5, Ray Charles, and Otis Redding, just to name a few. It sure makes a Thursday go by a heck of a lot faster!

As a side note, in Greek mythology Pandora was the first woman, the gods gave her a jar or a box filled with all of the bad stuff in the world (war, disease, etc) and told her not to open it. To make a long story short, she of course opens the thing and lets all of this crap out of the box and that's the reason why there's anything bad in the world.

First of all I don't think its fair to give anyone a special box, tell them not to open it, and then think for even a second that the person is going isn't going to open the box. Second, its pretty unrealistic that everything bad in the world could fit into a box, but I digress.

So in conclusion, if you haven't already, check out Pandora Radio. Its awesome and totally worth it!

Monday, March 22, 2010


This weekend I ran Virginia Beach's Shamrock 8k with my friend Kathryn. The race started at 8am so we left just after 6 to make sure we could get a parking spot. We were there so early, I got to see the sunrise over the beach.

This was the first "big" race I've ever run in. Not only was it the longest that I've ever ran at one time, but there were also 9,000 other runners. The race kicked off at 30th Street right near Neptune park.

As we were waiting for the race to start, I was getting pretty nervous and excited. We were back in Corral 4, so we had some time for a photo-op.

Once I started running, I felt great! The weather couldn't have been more beautiful. It was about 65 and sunny and not at all windy, even though we were on the beach. There was a slight cross-breeze at some of the cross streets on the Boardwalk, but it was refreshing and not at all difficult to run into.

The only time I stopped was to take my long-sleeved t-shirt off because I was so warm. I was surprised at how much energy I had. This is me about half way through the race. I felt like I could have run for miles. The sun was shining, my iPod was blasting, and my legs felt awesome!

I was surprised that I was able to run the whole thing, all 5 miles, but I did! The longest training run that I had done was 3.8 miles. I think all of my excitement kept me going. I really wanted to walk around the four mile marker, but I told myself that I had made it this far, I could finish the race.

It took me one hour, five minutes and seven seconds, but I did it; I ran and I felt great when I crossed the finish line! The race ended right where it started, at Neptune park....I don't think he looks as scary when its sunny.

We got these super cute medals for finishing. They're Shamrocks with little running feet. Here's a picture of Kathryn and me with our medals:

Then it was time for the best part - the after party! The run was sponsored by Yuengling, so you know that that means...FREE BEER!!!

They also had a guy there who was making this giant sandcastle - it was still a baby when we were done with our race, but I'm sure it was awesome by the time the full and half marathons were done the next day.

It was an awesome, great experience! I am so proud of myself! I even brought my medal and race bib into work today (they're now hanging in my cubicle)! I think I caught the running bug!!! 10K here I come!!!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Weekly Weigh In!

Last night was my weekly weigh-in and I was surprised to find out that I lost 1.4 pounds!!!! This week was crazy busy and there were a TON of opportunities for me to fall way off the weight loss wagon: my birthday, meeting Jennifer in Williamsburg (and eating out for lunch and dinner), dinner out with Meredith and Garrett Friday night, and St. Paddy's Day just to name a few.

It was a great feeling! Looking back I honestly think that I deserved to lose this week. Even though I had fun and ate things I normally wouldn't, I made MUCH better choices than I would have pre-Weight Watchers. Like my birthday, we went out for Italian and I had Chicken Parmesan (my favorite), but I only ate half of the chicken (not a huge piece either) and only some of the pasta. Then I had a small piece of cake. All in all, it was great. I got to have my favorite foods in moderation and still saw success on the scale!

Now to update those stats!

This week's loss: 1.4 lb
Total weight loss: 17.6 lb

Here's to sticking with it, even when life gets in the way!!!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patty's Day!

Happy St. Patty's Day to all of the Irish out there!!!!

If you are looking for a two-minute way to celebrate being Irish, check out this video, I promise if you like the Muppets it won't disappoint!


And a quick Irish Blessing before I go:

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
May the rains fall soft upon your fields,
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!!

Running Against the Wind

Do you ever feel like you are constantly running against the wind? That's how my entire run went tonight. All 3.8 miles of it. If I was running north I was running into the wind, same as if I was running south. I think part of it had to do with the fact that I like to run the "scenic" route along my neighborhood and run past all of the "lakes" near my house and that all of the wind was blowing off of the lakes. I don't know. It was hard.

Last night was my last "long run" before the Shamrock 8K on Saturday. I had hoped to run a full four miles, but I was just shy of it. I hope I'm ready for Saturday. Its 4.97 miles on the Boardwalk in VA Beach. Its supposed to be warm and sunny, I think it'll be good. Apparently a lot of people walk this race, which I think will help me out. I should finish before a good portion of the walkers, not like in my 5K where walkers had a different route and I finished nearly dead last.

Running this time of year makes me miss playing soccer like nothing else. Its cool and brisk in the later afternoons. When I run in shorts, my legs sometimes have that warm but numbish feeling to them. There's something in the air too that makes my mind automatically go to the soccer field. I wonder if I put on my cleats if my evening runs would be any easier....I could run for miles and miles and miles when I was playing soccer in a way that I have never been able to run any where else. That feeling is starting to slip away, just like it does this time every spring. I know I'll get it back in the fall and then again next spring, but until then, I'll just keep running on....

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesday Book Review - A Prayer for Owen Meany

Lately I've been reading John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany. I just finished it last night, so I don't think I've fully made up my mind about everything that happens in this book yet. Plus I finished it at about 11 pm which is way late for me. Plus I was reading this book for me, not for a class, not for a book club, nothing; so I don't think I read it as closely as I should have. I was a lazy reader.

This book chronicles the life long friendship between John Wheelright and Owen Meany. Set in Gravesend, New Hampshire throughout the 1950's and 1960's. John tells us his story from Toronto in 1987. Owen is deeply religious and believes that he was sent here for a specific reason, he thinks he is God's Instrument.

This book concerns itself with several large themes: friendship, family, religion, faith, war, peace, just to name a few.

What I didn't like about the book: I feel like it tried to do too much. Yeah it was a long book, but at the end it felt sort of rushed to wrap up some loose ends. Also, I'm not sure all of the ends needed to be wrapped up, John and Owen were lifelong friends, things that mattered to them when they were 11 aren't really important topics when they're 26 or so. Also, some part of the book dragged. Its not really a plot-driven book; more of a character study, and I think the length of the book took away some of the focus on the characters.

My biggest complaint about the book is its focus on fate. It reminded me of Oedipus Rex at times. Owen feels like he has a calling or a purpose and he'll put himself in harm's way in order to fulfill this calling. The ending of the book would have been completely different if Owen had used some common sense, in a lot of different respects, not even the most blatantly obvious way. I felt like he was looking for his own death, and that that death was completely unnecessary.

What I did like: John Irving is a beautiful writer. Seriously, his prose is gorgeous. I felt like it painted subliminal images in my brain. There was a part of the book that was talking about John and Owen in high school and all I could think about was fall in New Hampshire. Also, I really love the basic premise of the story. I just think it tried to cover too much.

In addition, this book is really funny at times. There is a really unique cast of characters that will keep you on your toes.

All in all, I would recommend this book to a friend. It took me a long time to read, but I think it was a good read. It wasn't necessarily gripping, but it was enjoyable. If you do decide to pick this one up, I think you need to have the proper frame of mind - know that its serious and takes some attention to read, I don't think I paid enough attention to it. I feel like there was a lot more to the book than I got from it. So if you are a patient, attentive reader, I think you'd really like this book. I, for one, know that I will give Mr. Irving another try, I just now know to give him another try when I have a little more time to focus on his beautiful words.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Nobody Likes You When You're 23....

at least that's what Blink 182 says. But I hope they're wrong, because I'm 23 today!!!!!

So far, 23 is good - I got to sleep in, took a great spinning class, and I'm leaving work early. Then I'm heading out to dinner with my family tonight! Kind of low key, but hopefully lots of fun!

And my birthday celebration carries over tomorrow! My boss is going to take me out to lunch and we're going to have cake at work!

So happy birthday to me and any other Ides of March babies out there!

Ok, so my name's not Mary, but this cake is way cute!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Wonderful Williamsburg

Yesterday I headed to Williamsburg, VA to meet my college roomie, Jennifer, for the day. I was dumb and left my camera at home, so I don't have any of my own pictures from our girls day. Jennifer lives near Charlottesville and I'm in Chesapeake, so Williamsburg is half-way-ish for both of us.

We started the day off at Williamsburg Winery. We took a tour of the winery which ended with a tasting. Then we had lunch at the restaurant that's on the winery grounds. I had a yummy ham and turkey sandwich, and of course a glass of wine! After lunch we picked up a bottle to share when we got home.

Here's a picture I found online of the vineyard:

After lunch we headed to Prime Outlets Williamsburg for some serious shopping. If you've never been to the outlets - YOU SHOULD GO!!!! My favorite store is the Gap outlet, but I also love Coach (I've never bought a bag from the Coach outlet, I just drool over everything in the store). Anyways, I got a ton of stuff from the Gap including a skirt for FOURTEEN dollars! I also had some luck at LL Bean, Fossil, Ann Taylor, and Totes.

For dinner, we hit up Chilis (yummy!!!!). Then it was back to my house with Jennifer in tow. We had our our wine, watched some TV, and caught up. It was great! I haven't gotten to spend too much time with Jennifer since graduation, so I was really glad to get to spend some time with her. I have a feeling that we're going to have more of these girl get togethers!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Last night's Weigh In

I lost 0.6, which brings my total weight loss to 16.2 pounds.

I'm kind of disappointed since I was really on plan all week, including the weekend. I know its good to lose and all of those tiny losses add up, but I was hoping for something a little more significant than half a pound.

But for some good news, I took some measurements this morning and I've lost about 5 inches since the last time I measured just over a month ago. Even if the number on the scale isn't getting smaller, maybe the size of my clothes will....

My Weight Watchers Story

Most people who know me know that I've been on Weight Watchers for a while. Since June 2008 to be exact. My weight loss could be described as less than stellar. Well maybe that's not entirely fair. Its been slow. Very, very slow.

Since this is my blog about my life I guess I'll share my Weight Watchers story with whoever is reading. I've been slightly overweight, I guess you can say pudgy, all or almost all of my life. Luckily my parents always encouraged me to play sports, so I spent much of my childhood on the soccer field. I firmly believe that all of that soccer helped me stay thinner through most of high school. After graduating I wasn't playing soccer at all, in fact I was pretty inactive. I gained about ten pounds before I even stepped foot on a college campus.

Then came what I like to call my freshman nine. Cafeteria food including lots of ice cream made a home for itself on my hips and waist. Then came the break-up weight, cue another 9 pounds. A long-term boyfriend and I broke up half-way through my second year. That's right, I put on about 30 pounds in less than two years.

I was surprisingly ok like that for a while. I mean I knew I was overweight, but I wasn't putting on any more weight, but I wasn't taking any off either. The summer after my third year my mom's whole family rented a beach house for a week down in Savannah. I was heartbroken when I saw the pictures. Compared to all of my cousins (who are all teeny tiny) I looked like a giant. I couldn't take it anymore. Plus my best friend had recently gotten engaged and asked me to be the Maid of Honor at her wedding. I decided to join Weight Watchers.

Luckily I found a meeting with a leader, Cheryl, that I love. Between July and Thanksgiving 2008 I lost 21.4 pounds. Then life got in the way. I've always been a stress eater and finals were tough that semester. What started as a two week "break from Weight Watchers" turned into an eating free-for-all my last semester of college. It felt like everyday was "the last time I could eat" this or that it was going to be the last time I could do something or another, always revolving around food, of course.

By the time I moved back home in June, I had gained back 18 pounds of the 21 I had lost. I finally, finally recommitted to Weight Watchers and to myself this past August. Since then I've lost 11 pounds and 16 pounds overall, which is nothing stellar. Lesson learned: once its off, bust your butt to keep it off. I never thought that it would be so hard to take it off again, it had been relatively easy for the first part of my weight loss journey.

But I have learned a lot of important things about myself, life, and food since I've been on Weight Watchers. I know that I never quit, even if there are major set-backs. I've learned that I'd rather run long distances than be overweight. I've learned that I love to exercise. Seriously, I love it. I've learned that I'm an emotional eater and I eat especially when I'm lonely or stressed. I've learned that chocolate doesn't have to control my life (but I am still trying to learn this lesson as it applies to chips and salsa). I've learned that I feel better and more energized when I eat more natural foods.

Losing weight is the hardest thing I have ever done. It takes a lot, and I mean A LOT of hard work and dedication. But its not like anything I've ever done before. This is a lifetime commitment. In school, there is always the end of the year and at work there is always the end of a project; there's always some kind of an end in sight. As for staying healthy and losing weight, the end is....death?!?!?

And in regards to hard work, I can make great, smart, healthy choices all week and my body might not respond right away. I could be retaining water, getting over an injury or illness or have a slip up that throws me off of my game and shows up on the scale. In school, I studied until I knew it. I took the test. I did well. If losing weight was like that, I'd be much closer to my goal weight by now. Its overwhelming at times, and its overwhelming now.

Ok, end long, rambling, overly-detailed post! Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

All About Books: The Thirtheenth Tale

Last night my book club met to talk about our most recent read, The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. Even though we didn't talk a lot about the book last night, I really have to recommend this "modern Gothic" novel.

Here's a picture of the cover just in case my review inspires you to head to Barnes and Noble to pick up your own copy:

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield: Book Cover

Now for a brief synopsis: Margaret Lea, biographer and rare book dealer specializing in the 19th Century, is employed by Vida Winter, Britain's most famous and secretive author, to write Miss Winter's true biography before Miss Winter's impending death. Upon her arrival, Margaret learns that she and her newest employer have a lot in common: a deep love of reading as well as the fact that they are both twins. I don't want to say too much because the story is gripping and I don't want to ruin the story for anyone out there. I had a hard time putting this book down; I even stayed up late into the night (ok, 11 pm, which is pretty late for me!) to figure out what happens next.

The book draws heavily from other Gothic novels such as Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and (at least I'm told) The Woman in White. I particularly enjoyed seeing how The Thirteenth Tale connected to the stories of the Bronte sisters.

Happy reading! And thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Second Wind

Within the last few months I've picked up running. I try to get in three or four runs a week, so my running adventures will probably be a pretty common theme on here.

I'm currently training for the Shamrock 8K in Virginia Beach, VA. Its in ten days and I feel nowhere near ready. Just so you don't have to go look it up like I did, 8K is just barely under five miles. The furthest I've run is 3.7 miles, but I think I could easily do 4 if I tried.

Last night I went for my first run in about a week or so. I've been fighting this head cold that's left me with a nasty, nasty cough. I tried to go for a run on Saturday to take advantage of some warmer weather, but I was a wheezing mess in about a half a mile.

So last night I decided it was time to hit the road again. Before I left, I told myself that I would do what I could do, it didn't matter how far or how fast I ran, or if I needed to take a break to catch my breath.

Off I went. All in all I covered 2.4 miles. The first mile and a quarter were nearly impossible. I couldn't breathe or stop coughing, I had a stitch in my side, and my form was all over the place. I felt like I was slowly waddling/trudging to what would certainly be agony.

As awful as the first part of my run was, the second half was as good. It came all of a sudden. I could breathe, my cramps went away, and my form was back to normal. I felt great. It was a second wind.

Even though I didn't set a PR and I certainly fell short of that elusive 4 mile mark, I learned an important lesson. Just because the run starts out crappy, doesn't mean it needs to stay that way. As almost any runner will tell you, lessons in running can easily be transferred to life. Everything we do is what we make it, there is always the opportunity to improve and to make up for a disappointment. I think this was an important lesson for me to learn: I'm in control and things can always get better.

Well, that's all for now. Thanks for reading!

My first post

My entire life I've been on the A-list.

Let me just say, that I know that I'm no A-list celeb. So let me tell you a little story, my parents, way back in 1987, decided to name me Andrea. Since both of my parents' names start with the letter M, and since they decided to name my brother Matthew a few years later, I grew up as the only A in a house full of M's.

Flash forward to my last two years of college: all three of my roommates names started with the letter J. And they weren't the same 3 roommates both years either.

I used to hate being the "odd man out." I remember my brother teasing me about all of the "M-club" meetings he and my parents used to have; that I couldn't go to.

But I eventually accepted the beauty of being the odd man out. It was a simple, easy way to carve out some individuality for myself. I was the only A. Alphabetically I came first and foremost. It has other perks too: whenever I leave a note I can sign it just "A." Do you have any idea how much time that saves? I'd be willing to bet that it adds up to a few extra minutes a year.

This idea also applies to labeling my stuff. I've never had to write "AR" on something that I wanted to be just my own; its simply A.

But I think the biggest and best perk is that, as the only A, my name stands out. Who are you going to remember when you're introduced to Benjamin, Bonnie, Billy, and Andrea?

So that's what this blog is going to be about. Me! And my life being a wonderful, beautiful A. The things that make me happy, the things that make me sad, and everything that makes me, well me!

Thanks for reading!