Monthly Archives: July 2012

Unplugging…finally!

You may not have noticed it, but I’ve been absent from the blog world for a while.  The last blog post I made was one I quickly typed up on my cell phone from a hotel room in Colorado, in the dark while my two older children slept in the next room (yay for suites!) and my youngest tried to fall asleep in the pack and play at the foot of the bed.

Yep, I was on vacation.  And it was wonderful.

I literally unplugged.

I turned off my work emails to my cell phone and set up an out of office auto reply that told everyone who emailed me that they wouldn’t get a response until I returned.  I spent 12 days not thinking about work at all.  Except the one weird dream where I somehow teleported back to work from Colorado…

Note: I returned today to over 300 emails…and spent most of the day just getting through them…such is the price we pay for our vacation time!

We traveled to Colorado for a wedding and family reunion, and so we spent the first few nights at a hotel near Denver for the wedding.  Afterwards, however, the extended family drove up to Estes Park to stay in condos literally a mile from the Rocky Mountain National Park entrance.  It was gorgeous.  A small river ran right behind the building, so every night we got to go to sleep with nature’s perfect white noise generator.  Mornings were cool, in the low 50’s, and daytime temps were in the upper 80’s, but never felt hot.

This was the view from the back deck of our condo.

Oh, and it rained every day, for no more than an hour.  For those of us who are stuck in the “dust bowl” drought-stricken Midwest, rain is something that we haven’t seen in a long time.  I have to admit I felt like looking up at the sky in disbelief, wondering just what that wet stuff was coming down from the clouds.

Rocky Mountain National Park
See the rain forming over the mountains?

So if you were wondering where I was (which I highly doubt you were), the mystery is solved.  And yes, I did get some running in (not nearly enough, given the almost perfect running weather).  The road that our condo was on had about a 3 inch shoulder.  I didn’t feel comfortable running on it, although others did, and there were many bike riders who braved the twists and turns to climb into the park.  So I drove down to the city of Estes Park and ran around the lake.  There was a perfect recreational trail around the lake that made a nice 3.5-4 mile loop.

I got to run around this. Yep, it was pretty nice.

The only issue with this trail (and it’s not an “issue” really), occurred the one morning I got up early, around 6:30 am, and went for a run.  I was about a half mile into the run and had reached the point where the trail forms a “Y” – one way takes you clockwise around the lake, the other counterclockwise.  Directly in front of me, spread out over both forks of the path, was a herd of at least 20 elk.  I slowed down, then stopped.  I looked over to see a sign posted that said “Caution:  Dangerous Elk Herds,” “Wild Animals” and “Do not approach.”  Then I saw the note that said “Avoid disturbing or coming between a mother and her calf.”  What was in the center of the herd, between the two forks of the path?  A baby elk.

I wasn’t going anywhere near them.  And they weren’t interested in moving quickly.  I didn’t have my camera or cell phone with me, so I couldn’t take a picture.  And I didn’t want to get closer to them, so I turned around and ran back to the car, and then headed back, making another “warmup loop.”  Sure enough, when I got back to the fork in the trail, the elk had moved up the hill a bit and cleared the trail.  Ever cautious, I looked around one more time, and sure enough, one lone straggler jumped over the fence and ran to join the group.

Comfortable that the elk had moved on, I continued on my run.  It was a beautiful start to my run, and the extra warmup loop made the 3.5 mile trail into a 4.25 mile run.  And it was 52 degrees that morning, so my hands went numb and I could see my breath the whole time (maybe it was actually colder?).  I was loving the temperatures!

It was a great vacation, topped off by the fact that I was able to see a bald eagle while we were there.  The eagle soared right over our heads while the family was enjoying the lake.  Only once, then it flew off.  The only eagle I saw the whole time.  🙂

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For those who are reading this blog to keep updated on my possible bone marrow donation, don’t worry.  I am still on the list.  I’m in the “wait and see” part of the journey – while my bloodwork is reviewed by the patient’s doctor and they decide how to proceed.  I’ll definitely post here when I hear back or know something new.

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The waiting game

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it, but I’m horrible at waiting. At its most extreme, I get anxious, nervous, nauseous, the whole gamut. It doesn’t matter if I’m at the start of a race, waiting to leave for a trip, or just waiting for a bus. I get antsy.

In fact, my stomach is doing somersaults right now. But, in all honesty, it’s been doing that a lot lately.

If you’re following this blog you know that I’m in the process of becoming a bone marrow donor. I’ve been waiting for a week since having bloodwork done last Thursday.

I finally got an email from my donor coordinator:
Dear Anne,

On behalf of the patient and her family, we deeply thank you for your willingness to have your blood drawn for Confirmatory Typing and infectious disease testing. Your samples were delivered to the appropriate lab to be analyzed. It may now take up to two months for the patient’s doctors to determine if they would like you to donate. Once we hear anything, we will let you know.

Now that you have completed this stage, you have become an essential part of this patient’s search for a donor and her opportunity for a second chance at life. We strongly encourage you to discuss this commitment with your friends and family, if you have not already. Please remember that it is important that all possible donors are prepared for more testing and are willing to donate if chosen.

If you are chosen to donate the next steps will be:

1. Participate in an information session: a detailed discussion about the donation
2. Attend a physical exam: a medical exam to confirm that donating will not pose any risk to you or the patient
3. Donate peripheral blood stem cells or bone marrow

So after a week of waiting, I’m rewarded with another few weeks (or months) of waiting. I can handle it, but I don’t know if my stomach can.

For now I will just go on with life, running and training, (at some point I should lay out my fall racing schedule…I have somehow signed up for three half marathons in the next few months), and I will wait for the call or email that tells me what to do next.

If you haven’t yet, please go register to be a bone marrow donor. Or, if nothing else, at least go to their site to learn more about the process. If you do, let me know! Every new registration makes my day – even if you are just thinking about it.

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Kigo Curv Mary Janes

Okay…let me start with this: These are not running shoes. At least I wouldn’t run in them. To me, these are casual shoes.

Kigo Curv (a Mary Jane style minimal shoe)

I’ve been kind of obsessed with finding a pair of these shoes since I first read Barefoot Angie Bee’s review of them.

The more I wear minimal shoes, the more I like them. I find myself not wanting to wear shoes with a lot of structure, or with much of a heel. This has caused me a bit of a fashion dilemma at work. As a 5’3″ short gal, most pants I buy are just a smidge too long (and sometimes, they are WAY too long…). So either I pay to have them hemmed (have I mentioned I don’t like to pay extra for things?), or I wear a shoe with a heel.

That means that when I’m not at work, I want the least amount of shoe possible. And therefore began a mission for reasonably priced comfortable minimal shoes. And when I saw these on eBay, brand new and at a fraction of retail price, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try them. And then, when my first offer was accepted and I got them for $10 with free shipping, it was even better!

I was so excited to get them, but was a bit nervous about the fit. You see, the reviews had said that they run small, and these were size 7. I usually wear a 6.5-7, so I was optimistic that they would fit, but nervous that they would be tight. Luckily, they fit almost perfectly. But there was one problem.

See the wrinkle in the insole?

This seemingly tiny crease in the insole caused a sharp point that dug into my heel. Worse, there was another on the other side of the same shoe. For some reason, these insoles were oversized and wrap upwards in the shoe – shaped (I assume) to cup the heel of the foot. What it did instead was rub, and annoy me.

I tried the shoes without the insole – and actually liked the way they felt. However, I like having the option of a layer, as I’m not quite ready to be barefoot all day, so I needed to find a way to make them work.

The shoes without the insole. The stitching bothered me a little, but not much.

Enter the sewing scissors.

Problem solved!

Yep, I just cut the edges of the “cup” off of the insole, and now – they feel much better! My heels are thanking me. And yes, the blue “kigo” text hasn’t lasted long on the insole – not that it matters, but little pieces of the name were stuck to my feet, and I found one on our living room floor yesterday.

The one thing I’d love to change about this shoe is the insole. I’d rather have a smooth finish on the inside of the shoe, so that the insole wasn’t necessary, and just wear them without. The insole adds a bit of cushion (which admittedly is sometimes very nice), and I’d like to have the option of wearing them without. It just doesn’t work as well for me with the rough stitching on the insole.

In all, I’d say this was an excellent find. My feet do get a bit warm in them when it’s over 100 degrees – like it has been this week. On these hot days I’d rather wear sandals anyway, so it’s not a big deal. But I expect to wear these a lot more when it’s cooler, and for the great deal I got, I won’t mind if I wear them out.

The only other thing – I love the green/gray combo, but that probably makes them less likely for a work shoe – I won’t complain about the color (eBay beggars can’t be choosy), but would have loved to have found them in black or even a solid gray. Then I guarantee I would have lived in them – they’d be cute both with summer dresses and with some of my more casual work clothes.


Blood samples and lost boxes

I wanted to jump on the computer in a quiet moment. I’m sure it will be cut short very quickly, I’ve already had one visit from the 21 month old, so I am not going to spend a lot of time on this post.

Yesterday morning, I went to a local medical lab to get my blood drawn. I needed to provide a blood sample so they can verify whether I am a match for the patient and to check to make sure there are no conditions that would prevent me from being a suitable donor.

I arrived at the lab just a few minutes after it opened at 7:30. I wanted to get the bloodwork done so I could head in to work, plus my donor coordinator had asked that I do it as early in the day as possible so that the samples could be shipped out that same day.

I arrived and told the nurse at check in what I was there for. She looked confused. Not a good thing. “You’re here for what?” she asked.

“I need to provide a blood sample for a potential bone marrow donation.”

“Okay…”

“They should have sent you a sample kit, it would have arrived a few days ago.”

“Oh, I think I remember hearing about that. Let me go check.”

25 minutes later, and about 5 phone calls to coworkers later, she still hadn’t found the kit. Then, she made one more phone call.

“Hi. It’s me again. Do you have any idea where that kit is? I just can’t find it. Oh, you mean that box? Really? Oh, there it is! Thanks!” She reached down towards her feet and pulled out a big box (about 20 inches on a side).

“Here’s your box! I guess it was here by my feet this whole time! I thought this was trash…wow, what a big box for a blood sample kit. I would have never thought…”

Within a few minutes I was headed back with another nurse, and 10 minutes later they had 5 glass vials of my blood and I was headed to work.

Once I got to work, I checked email and I had one from my donor coordinator. This email had information about the patient. I’ve matched an older woman diagnosed with a non-leukemia blood cancer. I’ll be honest, in my head I had pictured a child or a young adult. I just don’t think of older adults getting sick with blood cancers, and this is probably because most, if not all, of the stories I’ve heard are about children or young adults. Bean got sick our senior year of high school.

But then I realized that my parents are just about the same age as this patient. Wouldn’t I want them to get a transplant if they were sick? Of course I would. They have just as much right to be healthy as a young child. So it really doesn’t matter how old the patient is. The way I see it, if the doctor feels that a transplant will be the best course of action for the patient, then I will donate.

In about a week I should know how the blood tests went, then will start another waiting game while I wait to hear back what the patient’s doctor wants to do. If I’m learning anything from this process, it’s that I need to work on my patience.

Have you clicked on this link yet to register as a bone marrow donor? It’s easy. I know at least five people who have signed up since I was matched. Do it now. Consider it your good deed for the month.


Firecracker Run 10K and InkNBurn review

A few days ago, Saturday, to be exact, I decided to run the Firecracker Run 10k race.  I’d been thinking about running, but knew it was going to be hot so I had almost decided not to run, until my 7 year old told me he wanted to run the 1 mile race.  So I figured I’d sign up for the 10k, use it as a training run, and then run the 1 mile with him as well.

I also had a new product to review, so I thought I’d go ahead and do that while running the race.

I learned about INKnBURN through my friend Heather’s blog.  She did a product review of theirs a year or so ago, and I have been coveting their funky running gear ever since.  Seriously, I go to their website to drool.  But, I am not one to shell out 65 dollars for a pair of shorts.  I like to run, but I’d much rather spend that money on a race, or on something else.  I honestly have never understood why running gear is so expensive.  So I watched, and waited, and hoped that someday they’d have a deal going (or that I would work up the courage to make a purchase!).

Then, a few months ago, I half-jokingly tweeted to the INKnBURN folks and asked if they would be willing to give me a discount for a blog review.  Much to my surprise, I got a response back!  Even more surprising, instead of offering me a discount, they offered me free gear in exchange for a review.  Of course I said I would do it…I’m not dumb 🙂

I sent them my sizing information and my shipping address.  So, last week, a package showed up at my door with a pair of their new Performance Denim shorts.  I instantly pulled them out and tried them on, and they fit perfectly!  (note:  I found that I was actually a size larger in these shorts than in my “street clothes.”  So definitely follow the size charts, they are accurate!)  

INKnBURN performance denim

really, how cute are these?

The “leather patch” is adorable too.

But, I had to find the perfect place to test them out. I’m usually not one for running in new gear during a race.  “Use what works” has been my motto.  But, what is more uniquely American than denim?  And I had the Firecracker Run coming up.  So, I decided that I would test out the shorts on the hilly, challenging Firecracker 10k.

And they were a dream.  I think now I might understand why someone would pay extra for these shorts.  I spent most of the race soaked in water (trying to cool off, I dumped water over myself and ran through every hose that was on the course).  There was no chafing, honestly!.  The shorts didn’t even feel that wet (although they were dripping at the finish line).  I would have worn them all day if they weren’t soaked in sweat and water. They are that comfortable.

So bottom line?  If you’re willing to spend the money, I’d definitely recommend INKnBURN.  I may go so far as to say the extra cash is worth it.  I’ve already picked out the next few things I would love to buy:

Women’s Sugar Skull Tech Shirt

Dark Forest Tech Shirt

Lust Camisole

(I’ll be honest, I love the Lust print on everything they make).

Oh, and I finished the 10k in just about an hour.  I felt great throughout, although it was crazy hot.  I intentionally took it easy and tried to pick a pace that felt comfortable, but not too easy. I really enjoyed the hills, and this distance – part of what I don’t like about a 5k is the “sprint” aspect, this distance allowed me to slow down and pace myself without feeling like a total turtle 🙂 I even liked the hills. Yes, I said it.

I ran without headphones, just enjoying the whole run.  I talked with some great people on the course.  That’s what I love about racing the longer distances and running slower, I always find someone to talk to.  It was a great morning.  And my son enjoyed his 1 mile race too.  Now the goal is to stay indoors for the rest of the day, it’s going to be 100 degrees here this afternoon.  I’ve had enough sweaty fun for one day 🙂


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