Saturday, January 30, 2016

What's Kristine Reading? January Edition

   It's hard to believe the first month of the year is over. It's crazy how quickly time passes. The good news is that I read five books in January so I'm starting off the year a book ahead of schedule! That never happens!
   The most recent book I read (finished it last night), is called "The Bookseller" by Cynthia Swanson.

   Based in the early 1960's, "The Bookseller" is the story of Kitty Miller, a single thirty-something who runs a bookstore with her best friend Frieda. Kitty starts having vivid, and strangely realistic, dreams of what her life would have been like if she went the (then) more traditional route of marriage and kids. Have you ever seen the Gwyneth Paltrow movie "Sliding Doors?" "The Bookseller" is kind of like that. Two parallel stories of one woman's life, one of Kitty, the single bookseller, and the other of Katharyn, the married homemaker. As the book goes on, the lines between the two worlds of Kitty / Katharyn blur, and it's up to her to figure out what is real, and what isn't.
   While not great literature, I enjoyed this book. I had a bout of insomnia last night and was able to knock it out in about four hours. It's a very easy read, and it kept my interest the entire time. It also kind of makes you stop and think about how little things can change the trajectory of your entire life. Example: what would have happened if I didn't go to the party where I met my husband? I almost didn't go. Where would I be now if I chose to stay home that day? 
   I do have a few issues with some points in the plot, especially in Katharyn's married-life storyline, but as I said, it's not great literature and I'm not expecting perfection. And considering this is Ms. Swanson's first novel, I'm willing to overlook a few plot holes. If you're looking for an easy, interesting read that isn't your stereotypical beach read, I think you'd like "The Bookseller."

Friday, January 29, 2016

Life on the Trails

    I started trail running about a month so ago. I've toyed with them in the past, but I've never been a regular on them until now. I started running them for a few reasons: 1) It's something different.  Always good to shake things up sometimes. 2) A lot of my friends run them and love it. 3) Dudley and I are going to Vegas at the end of February and I, of course, looked for a half-marathon to run. The only one I found the weekend we're going to be there is a trail run. So, on to the trails I went. I even got a fancy new pair of Montrails for inspiration.
    I'm fortunate to live a few miles from some of the best running trails in the area - Percy and Edwin Warner Parks. Well, I say they're some of the best - I really have no idea. I've only run trails there. But that's what others have told me, so I'm going with it.
   The Warner Parks have several different trails, but up until recently, I'd really one run on one of them - the White trail, which is a 2.5 mile loop. While it has some good hills, it's one of the shorter trails in the system, so it's pretty poplar with other runners and hikers. The kicker is though - when you have a two hour trail run on your schedule, even doing a really pretty 2.5 mile loop over and over again gets old after the second loop. So, I decided to put my big-girl panties on and run the 4.5 mile Red trail.
   I had avoided running the Red trail previously mainly because I didn't want to get lost on an unfamiliar trail, but I was also concerned about getting injured and not having anyone around to help. And, I admit, being a single female, I was a little concerned about being attacked by a crazy person out in the middle of the woods. But, my many friends who run the trails assured me that I'd be OK out there alone, so I decided to go.

   And it was great. Harder than the White trail (longer with steeper hills) but still manageable for someone with limited trail experience. I ended up running one lap of Red and one of White, and my legs were dead by the end of the run. FYI - don't take my term of "running" literally.  I'd kill myself if I tried to run the entire trail. Not only am I not fit enough to run up the hills, I'd kill myself if I tried to run down some of these descents.

Pretty little waterfall.

Little Charlie Brown Christmas Tree still hanging in there.

Parts might have been a little muddy.

   When I first started the run, I was a little freaked out because I was the only person out there, but after a while, I started seeing other people going both ways on the trail. I soon realized that if I got injured, it wouldn't be very long before someone passed by. I did get creeped out once though. Some guy was walking on the trails wearing a tan overcoat. Like the kind of overcoat flashers wear. I mean, you're in the middle of the woods - who wears an overcoat? While I'm sure he was a very nice man, he looked completely out of place and it freaked me out. So I ran faster until I lost him.  
   While I can't say that I'm turning into a committed trail runner yet, I do enjoy the trails and it's been a nice change from the roads. I'm still pretty uncoordinated and feel like I'm going to fall frequently, but hopefully that will change with practice. And I just signed up for my first trail race - the Dry Creek Trail 10k. Should be good practice for the Vegas Half if I don't kill myself! If any of you experienced trail runners have any words of wisdom for me - please share! 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Adventures in Travel

   I've been in Memphis for the past few days for work. It's always interesting to try to train while traveling. Generally speaking, the only thing I can do is run while I'm away. Sure - most of the hotels I stay in have pools but they're too small to actually do any swimming. And forget about cycling. That's way too much of a hassle. So - running it is.
   I did a few runs on the treadmill for the sake of time, but I really wanted to take my Saturday long run outdoors. A quick internet search showed Shelby Farms Park was only about 10 minutes away. In theory, they had a few miles of greenways. Sweet! I bundled up for the 25 degree weather and was on my way!
   I found the park easily thanks to the GIANT signs they had along the road. Pretty hard to miss these things.

   While the signs outside of the park were great, I was a little lost once I got in. I think this is because there was some construction going on. I figured I'd drive around until I found a greenway and then just run from there. It didn't take me too long before I found a little parking area right near a trail. Great! Unfortunately, when I pulled in, almost every parking space was surrounded by broken glass from previous car break-ins. Not cool.

Never a good sign when broken glass is everywhere.

   I pulled into the parking area and wondered if going for a run here was really a good idea. Sure, this was a park, but was it a park where normal people went to exercise? Or was it a place where junkies hung out to get their fix? I had no clue. The broken glass definitely didn't make me feel like this place was 100% safe. But I noticed several people who were running by, and none of them looked like axe-murderers (one was pushing a stroller). As I stated, it was 25 degrees out with a wind chill of stupid cold, so if the hard core runners were out here, it was probably a good place to run, right? So, I got out of my car and headed down the greenway.
   And I'm glad I did! It was a nicely paved trail of a three mile loop. Well, I'm assuming it was a loop - I didn't actually go around it. I tried, but the signs weren't exactly clear as to where I was to go once I got to the campgrounds, so I kind of made up my own route and then double-backed a few times to get in a little over six miles. It wasn't as tree-lined as our Nashville greenways are, but it had a few pretty spots. I've heard there are also some off-road trails in this park, but I couldn't find them. Maybe the next time I'm in town. 

   If you're ever visiting the Memphis area, and need a place to run - check out Shelby Farms Park. They also have a dog park, horseback riding and BUFFALO!  No, I didn't see any buffalo and yes, I'm bummed about it. Maybe next time. See you soon, Memphis!


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

2nd Annual Hangover 5k - The Run Down Rodney

   On New Year's Day, Dudley and I hosted our 2nd Annual Hangover 5k - The Run Down Rodney. I've been locked in my work cave since New Year's and kind of neglected to write this recap. Sorry.  But the gist of the run is this: A bunch of running friends come over on New Year's Day, we run a 5k through our neighborhood and then eat a bunch of food. Then everyone goes home, sits on the sofa, and watches football in a food coma.

Before a very hilly 5k.

   It was a great way to kick off the New Year and I feel so fortunate to have such a wonderful group of friends in my life who share similar passions for exercise and eating! We're already looking forward to next year's run. If you're in Nashville next New Year's Day and want to join us- please do! Have a great 2016, everyone!  

Monday, January 11, 2016

New Year / New Goals

   2016 is already in full swing! In fact, January is almost half-way through! It's about time I set some goals for the year. So here they are, in all of their public-accountibility goodness:

1) Entertain more:  I'm not going to set anything specific like "Host something once a month," but I would like to have people over more. Our previous home was such a parking nightmare for guests that we never entertained. I got out of the habit of inviting people to the house.

2) Learn to knit / crochet:  I'm a wannabe crafter. Seriously. I would love a sewing machine. I'd be making the heck out of some throw pillows if I had a sewing machine . But for now, I would like to start with knitting. Surely, I can make an infinity scarf, right?

3) Refinish the dresser in the guest room:  Sticking with the crafty theme for this one. I see a refurbished armoire on Pinterest and am all "I can do that," but never do. I even have a dresser that needs to be refinished! This poor dresser just sits in our guest room all sad and pathetic. I should strip the paint off, restain it and add new hardware. I even already have the hardware!  I just haven't done it. But in 2016 - it will be done!

4) Take a cooking class:  This one is left over from 2015. Completely forgot about it.

5) Do something scary:  I haven't fully defined this one yet. I'll know it when I do it though. If anyone has any ideas, let me know. And no, I'm not jumping out of an airplane. Ever.

6) 2016 - The Year of Trails:  I know that next year, I'd like to do Ironman Lake Placid. So for this year, I'd like to shake things up a bit athletically and hit the trails. I'm not very good at them yet- I just got my first pair of trail running shoes about a month ago and my mountain bike is a tank. I'm toying with the idea of hitting several trail races this year and maybe even an off-road tri. We'll see.

7) Listen to more David Bowie:  I didn't realize how much this was lacking in my life until today. I recommend everyone have this goal. May he Rest in Peace.

Ongoing: Read 52 books. I signed up for the Goodreads challenge again. Fourth year in a row. We'll see how it goes!

Ok - these are out there now! Y'all need to keep me accountable!  And if anyone would like to join me for any of the above - let me know!