Tuesday, September 22, 2015

What's Kristine Reading? September Edition

   My selection for this month is "Under the Tuscan Sun" by Frances Meyer. I know, I know...the book came out in 1996. A little late for a book review, huh? But I had two reasons for reading it now: 1) I'm pretty sure this is one of the few of the book group books that I've missed in the 17 years I've been with the group and I wanted to catch up (I'm a little obsessive like that) and 2) it was something like 99 cents on Bookbub, so I went for it.

   As I probably have mentioned, I don't really want to have any kind of advance knowledge of a book prior to reading it. I like diving into a book blind and letting the words lead me where they may. A general idea of a book is all I need. "It's funny" or "It's about a girl growing up in World War I" is enough for me. Sometimes this works out well, like with "The Name of the Wind", but other times not so much. Example: I didn't realize that "The Time Traveller's Wife" was supposed to be this epic love story. I kept waiting for the time traveller to be a serial killer or something. Needless to say, I didn't have the same reaction to that book as most people.
   But I digress. My point of the previous paragraph was to highlight that I had very limited knowledge of this book prior to reading it. I knew that it was about a woman who bought a house in Italy, that it had been made into a movie starring Diane Lane, and that there were recipes in it. That's it. I kind of figured it would be like "Eat, Pray, Love" where the author made a lot of mistakes while renovating the house, but learned something deep and profound about herself in the process. I also assumed that since it was made into a movie, it had to be decent, right? They don't make movies out of bad books, RIGHT?
   Yeah - not so much. While beautifully written, this book has absolutely no plot whatsoever. None. Long story short, a rich professor / writer purchases a historic home in Italy with her professor boyfriend and they spend a lot of money fixing it up. They also took a lot of walks and described how beautiful the countryside was. Sure, there were some mishaps with the contractors (aren't there always?), but nothing out of the ordinary. For a book to be of interest for me, it has to actually have a story and some character development. "Under the Tuscan Sun" has neither. It's basically a 300-page travel brochure for the Tuscan countryside. And for that purpose, it does quite well. I really want to go to buy a million-dollar, remote farmhouse in the middle of Italy where my biggest worry is not being able to find the proper mill to press my home-grown olives into olive oil. Yes, that was one of the big dilemmas the author faced. And how about this for a plot line? The author met another rich expat who was downsizing from her mansion and gave the author a bunch of antique furniture. OH, THE HORROR! Seriously - who lives this life?
   After I finished the book, I was wondering how in the world this got made into a movie. Turns out - they changed the plot so, you know, it actually had a plot. While I understand that this book was a memoir and that sometimes our lives aren't that exciting, I think this book would have been best served with a little bit of embellishment to maintain the reader's interest. It wouldn't have been an exact memoir, but it would have been a much better read.
   Next up? I'm not 100% sure, but it'll be from this decade. Promise. Happy reading!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

23 days...

   The countdown has begun! 23 days until the Chicago Marathon!! Woo Hoo! I'm not exactly sure how I'm feeling right now. I'm excited, because I think it'll be a really fun experience. But I'm not nervous. At all. And I feel like I should be.
   I think I'm not nervous now because I was so nervous before I did Ironman Chattanooga and I survived it. After IMCHOO, it's kind of hard to faze me race-wise. However, I also know better than to disrespect any long-distance race. Running 26.2 miles is going to be hard and hurt no matter what the speed.

   Of course, I get to look forward to the Marine Corps Marathon two weeks after Chicago. That's right. Rather than being logical and dropping out of one race, or deferring to next year, Dudley and I are going to race both Chicago and MCM back-to-back. Because that's what we do. 

    I hate to say this as to jinx myself, but training has been going pretty well.  In fact, I had my longest training run to date (even for IMCHOO) last Sunday and it rocked. 18 miles at a 9:36 pace. If I could keep that up for Chicago, I'd be thrilled. However, I know many, many things can go wrong on race day so I'm not really thinking about a goal finishing time right now. The plan for now is to go and have fun. Maybe if my final few long runs go well, I'll allow myself to set a goal finishing time. But for now, it's just to show up and finish with a smile on my face. 
   Of course, my goal for MCM is just to survive.  We'll see how that goes!    

Friday, September 4, 2015

Five Years

   Last week, I hit my five-year anniversary of racing triathlons. That's just crazy to me, as I still feel like a newbie sometimes. Even yesterday, I kind of felt like I forgot how to swim. Anyone else get that feeling? You're in the pool and you just kind of feel like you're just flopping around out there? It's a joy, let me tell you.
   As with joining East Nasty, I have to blame my friend Holland on my interest in triathlon way back in 2010. While I had been toying with the idea of doing a tri for a few months, it wasn't until Holland planted the seed of signing up for Ironman Augusta 70.3 that I really started taking the idea seriously. (Sidebar - I love crazy friends who encourage me to do crazy things with them.) I soon registered for the Cedars of Lebanon sprint tri as a training race, which was held in August at that time. It was a 300 meter swim, a 16.5 mile bike and a 3 mile run. I had three goals for this race: 1) Don't die, 2) Run the entire run portion, and 3) Finish under two hours. And though it was incredibility hot and really hard, I accomplished all three and finished in 1:41:55.
   Since that August day, I have finished a full Ironman, four 70.3 triathlons and numerous Olympic and Sprints tris. I have crossed a finish line on a red carpet to thunderous applause from spectators, and I have cried alone in the middle of a park because I just couldn't run another step. I have questioned my sanity and life choices many, many, many times. I've learned that nothing tastes better than a cold Coke after a 80 mile bike ride in 95 degree weather. I can tell you the location of every bathroom and mini mart in all of Nashville, because you never know when you're going to need one during a run. I have had fish nibble on my toes during an open water swim, and thankfully, have avoided any run-ins with snakes, leeches or alligators. I can talk about races, training, paces, swim sets, heart rate and my favorite flavor of Gu (Salted Caramel) for HOURS. I know who Chrissie Wellington, Mirinda Carfrae, Andy Potts and Craig Alexander are. I have looked at a workout and thought "there is no way I can do this," but then go do it anyway. I have pushed myself further than I thought I ever could and now dream bigger because of it. I've gained strength, support and inspiration from the amazing friends I've met along the way, and hopefully have given some of that support back to them.
   It's been a wonderful journey so far, and I'm looking forward to where else it takes me.
First finish line to Ironman.