I’ve sat at my computer and pulled up a blank page to write something several times in the past few weeks, especially the past two days, but I couldn’t think of anything. As I watched the aftermath of the Dallas attack, despairing, I finally figured out why no words would come:

THERE ARE NO WORDS for the terrorist attack that not only killed 49 innocent civilians in Orlando, but also specifically targeted those who already frequently endure hardship due to who they are.

THERE ARE NO WORDS for the murder of a man in Minnesota who was shot because he had a legal firearm, which he told the police he had and had a license for – but he was shot in cold blood because he was black, while a 4-year-old watched from the backseat.

THERE ARE NO WORDS for people deciding to seek revenge, not justice, return hate for hate and darkness for more darkness, and killing police officers in cold blood. This does not help the cause. This does not help anything.

THERE ARE NO WORDS for the systemic racism that permeates our law enforcement and judicial systems, and even everyday lives, that perceives black men as more threatening, arrests black men at higher rates, and gives them much worse punishments for their crimes than their white counterparts. (If you’re going to argue this point, read this first. And then don’t.)

THERE ARE NO WORDS for why we immediately jump to our sides – “He shouldn’t have been resisting arrest!”/”If he were white he’d still be alive!” “Without guns this wouldn’t have happened!”/”With more guns this wouldn’t have happened!” – rather than first mourning for lives lost, and listening, and trying to understand the other side. Even if your reaction is true, compassion does more than knee-jerk pontificating. 

THERE ARE NO WORDS for how broken, lost, and utterly hopeless this world is and always has been. God didn’t mean it to be this way. Sometimes I wish He had never given us free will, but He did – and this mess is the result of millennia of terrible, sinful choices – of ignoring what He told us.

THERE ARE NO WORDS that can stop this more than Mark 12:30-31:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Love God – put His ways and His will above your own. (Even if those who aren’t Christians did this by more closely following whatever reasonable standard of morality they hold to, it would make a huge difference.) Love your neighbor – put others before yourself.

If your black coworker is heartbroken because black lives don’t seem to matter? Do not counter with statistics of black-on-black crime or by saying “#alllivesmatter”. Listen. Try to understand. Have compassion.

If your friend married to a police officer is freaking out because of the Dallas shooting? Do not respond by pointing out that “they brought this on themselves by unfairly targeting people of color”. Listen. Try to understand. Have compassion.

Get off your reactionary, defensive soapbox, and instead use it as a table to bring people together. In the immediate aftermath of a tragedy, the world doesn’t need more right people; the world needs more good humans.

Review: Allegiant Airlines (budget airline) – with gifs!

This post is an extension of my P.A.A.M.A. post about flying budget airlines. My first trip on Allegiant just concluded, so here are my thoughts on Allegiant specifically. If you’re in a tl;dr mood, you can skip to the conclusion and find out whether or not I personally recommend flying Allegiant.

When Allegiant announced in January that they were going to offer nonstop service between Jacksonville and Memphis, my Memphian friends and I rejoiced! Previously there was no such thing as a direct flight between JAX and MEM, and there was also no such thing as getting between the two for under $400.

Friends started throwing Allegiant horror stories at us immediately. They were mostly internet hearsay (“One time, my friend’s mom…!”, etc.) or people who didn’t read things before booking, so I disregarded them. But since our booking, Allegiant has been in the news a lot – and not for good things. No one has died or been hurt because of Allegiant, but I’m pretty sure they’re basically next to Chipotle as the exceptions to the old saying, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.”

My Allegiant Experience

After booking I received emails that my flights’ departures were to be altered by twenty minutes. A few days before departure I went to my Allegiant upcoming travel page and found out that my departing flight had been changed to five hours later! I had not received any notification of that. I contacted Allegiant and three days later they responded and said their records indicated that I had been sent an email about it. I figured the internet ate it, since I’d gotten the other emails, until I read the following review:

Flight to Memphis was changed with no notice (same day, five hours later). Called customer service and was told an email was sent day after booking regarding the change in flight times. No email was sent and another customer verified he received the same story when he called.
– K. Miller, May 2016

I realized they just didn’t bother telling anyone about a five-hour schedule change. Well. OK, then.
eyebrowraise-BelleThe check-in process was simple. If you don’t print your own boarding pass or use the mobile app, you will have to pay $5 at the airport, but this is written out for you several times before you get to the airport so there’s really no excuse. (And who doesn’t print their own boarding passes out or use an app these days anyway?!) As I only had my under-seat personal item (a regular-sized backpack, which they didn’t bat an eye at, let alone measure), I proceeded directly to security and to the gate, where I found out that we were delayed another fifteen minutes. A while later I got a text: delayed for four hours. After that, we were delayed yet another hour. I got very familiar with the Jacksonville airport, and tried not to think about how from the original time of departure at booking to when I would actually get in, I could’ve driven to Memphis and gotten there earlier.

Expected travel time including time spent in the airport: 3 hours.
Actual travel time including time spent in the airport: 7.5 hours. disappointed-Hercules

Thankfully, I did indeed make it there the day I was supposed to, and only missed a dinner with my friends. This is not always the case with Allegiant and Frontier. (Nor is it always the case with legacy airlines, although it’s more likely.) I had a marvelous time in Memphis before beginning the trip home to Jacksonville a few days later.

Again: check-in online, security, everything was a breeze. The line to drop bags and/or have them print boarding passes was VERY LONG – not that it ended up mattering.

When I got to the gate, we were delayed for I think it was about an hour. Not really a big deal. Then we got on the plane and sat for what felt like a bit longer than the usual amount of time – and then we all heard a loud THUNK. I could see the “oh, crap” looks on the faces of the people around me, matching my own. A few minutes later the captain came on and said that the plane tug driver forgot to unlatch something before pulling back so he broke the tow bar and we had to wait for a maintenance guy to inspect and sign off on it.

Don't call me Shirley!
Don’t call me Shirley!

To be fair, I don’t actually know that this is Allegiant’s fault. Google has conflicting answers about who the tug drivers belong to: the airlines or the airports. But, let’s be real: it was probably Allegiant’s fault.

After sitting in the plane for about twenty minutes, they deboarded us (never a good sign) and told us not to go far from the gate area. It took an hour before the guy showed up to inspect it and about thirty minutes to inspect it. During the time we were back in the airport, the gate agent brought out sodas and bottled waters for us, for free. Considering their reputation and the lack of any peace offering with five hours of delays in JAX, I was pleasantly surprised.

“Hmm… yep, looks like you should definitely disconnect the tow bar before removing it.

Eventually the plane was given a clean bill of health and we re-boarded and went on our way. The flight itself was uneventful, like the first one, although this plane was nicer. Shout out to my fellow passengers, all of whom communicated their frustration via sarcasm, sighs, and eye-rolling rather than screaming at people. You are good humans.

Expected travel time including time spent in the airport: 3 hours.
Actual travel time including time spent in the airport: 5.5 hours. 

So. All that said, here’s what you really came here for:

Would I fly Allegiant again?

Actually? Yes. Here’s why: this trip only happened because of Allegiant. I would not have even gone if I couldn’t have gotten my flight for $125 roundtrip. $400+ for a weekend somewhere is just not a reasonable proposition. And even with the doubling of my expected travel times both ways, 6 and 8 hours are not that far outside the travel times I’ve had to Memphis in the past (via flying into Nashville and driving to Memphis), or that far outside the typical fly to a hub, sit around for an hour or two layover, then fly to your destination model. You just have to be diligent to read everything, pack light, mentally prepare yourself for frustrations and shenanigans, and your schedule must be flexible. These are all easy things for me.

Would I recommend Allegiant to others?

That depends.

Is it a trip you wouldn’t otherwise be able to go on?
Will it be a big problem if you arrive at your destination or back home several hours or maybe even a day late?
If your answers are yes and no, in that order, then I recommend Allegiant.

Is it a trip you can afford on a regular airline?
Do you have a very tight schedule or get easily upset?
If you answered yes or no, in that order, then I do not recommend Allegiant.

It may be a good idea to ask yourselves these questions when booking any budget airlines in order to save yourself some time and frustration.

What about you? Have you ever had a bad experience with Allegiant, or were you just fine with it? Would you ever fly them again? What about other budget airlines? Was it worth it to you? Let me know!thankyou-Katniss

I feel the need to add to the English lexicon.

It’s 2016. 47 Million people in the USA have Netflix. (Let’s be real: more like 94 million thanks to account sharing, amiright?) And yet, according to a few Google searches I did when I was reeling from the iZombie season one finale and letdown of expecting episode 2×01 to begin, we apparently have no term for when you’re watching through a series on Netflix and you hit a season finale cliffhanger and are ready to automatically cycle to the next one – and then you realize the next season isn’t on Netflix! The shock! The disappointment! The utter lack of humanity – or, as the case may be, zombies!

We have the term “show hole” thanks to the Amazon Fire commercial. Show hole refers to the feeling of despair when you finish a show and have no idea what to watch next. I just had that as I finally watched through Parenthood; six seasons of Bravermans leaves quite a show hole. Then I found iZombie, which is basically Veronica Mars with zombies, and got very into it. I went through the first season in a week or so (this is fast when you have little kids), was reeling from the finale, and then to my dismay instead of cycling to another episode, Netflix recommended an entirely different show. NOT COOL.

So, my friends, we are tasked with the weighty burden of inventing this term. I’ve thought of: ‘flixhanger, netdown, and Impatient Seasonal Disorder. Any other suggestions? Opinions? I think I kind of like ‘flixhanger, even though I know the apostrophe will never last.

People Always Ask Me About: Flying Budget Airlines

Today I’m beginning a new series called “People Always Ask Me About” (PAAMA). Unsurprisingly, each PAAMA post will address something I’m frequently asked about. In addition to hopefully serving as interesting reading, next time I’m asked – and there will be a next time – I can just give people the link.


Ah, budget airlines. The mode of transportation that people love to book on major sale and then love to complain about. The reviews for Frontier and Allegiant, two of the most recognizable budget airlines in the USA, are pretty dismal: they have an average rating of 2/10 and 3/10, respectively. That’s – well, that’s not good. You should definitely avoid them at all costs, right?

Wrong. Well, at least, it’s wrong if you can read, pack light, and be flexible.

If you look at those negative reviews, you notice that most of them are complaining about being nickel-and-dimed for everything: carry-on bags, checked bags, food, choosing your seat, and so on. They say that by the end of their flight they had paid more than they would’ve on a traditional airline, and suggest that you save yourself and just go straight to Southwest. Now, Southwest is my favorite domestic airline, but it has never come close to getting me to Denver and back for $90 or to Philadelphia and back for $56.*

Every single one of those fees people complain about on the internet is laid out for you before you pay for your flight. Every. Single. One. And you don’t even have to go through the motions of booking to find out what they are; you can just go to their sites and look at their fees (Frontier, Allegiant) whenever you’re bored. (I’m not claiming that reading those will make you less bored, but hey, at least it’s something to do, right?) But when you do actually go through the booking process, you’ll see that all those fees are completely optional.

I’ve flown Frontier twice, will be flying Allegiant in May, and have flown RyanAir (European budget airline) once and WOW Air (Icelandic budget airline) roundtrip – and I have never paid for bags. N-E-V-E-R. For all but WOW you are allowed a regular school-sized backpack, and it doesn’t matter what that sucker weighs when it’s full as long as it fits under the seat in front of you. WOW also limits you to 5 kg (about 11 lbs) for your free personal item, and they do enforce it and weigh all hand luggage. I’m not the least bit ashamed to say that my husband and I were wearing so many layers when we went to Iceland in October that we looked like the kid in A Christmas Story.

We look totally normal, right? Why are you so sweaty?

But it was worth it: we spent six days there with minimal luggage to deal with (this came in handy since our rental car was a Prius!) and didn’t have to pay extra for luggage.

Here are some tips on how to pack for budget airlines:

This is all that we brought for two people and three weeks in Europe!

– Wear your largest clothing items and shoes (and heaviest, if you’re flying WOW)
– If you’re bringing extra shoes, stuff them with socks and underwear
Roll your clothes!
– Plan to wear things more than once. We packed three outfits each for six days in Iceland and wore them all twice. For three weeks in Europe I think we each had four or five shirts and three bottoms. We alternated them out and also did laundry once, plus washed underwear and socks in the sink as necessary.
 Don’t forget that most of those layers you’re wearing have pockets!
– If space is an issue and weight isn’t, get some roll-up Space Bags (NOT the vacuum ones!)
– If you think you’ll be traveling budget airlines a lot, consider clothing with lots of pockets like those made by SCOTTeVEST**
– Don’t forget a water bottle to fill at the airport water fountains and some snacks; you know they aren’t included in your fare!

To this day the only extra expense I’ve ever paid on a budget airline – and I knew it was extra because I can read – is to choose seats. This only mattered for Iceland because that’s a semi-long flight and I wanted to be with my husband (in addition to being awesome, he’s a great pillow), and for Philadelphia because I was with my kids, who are young. None of the budget airlines will guarantee that families will sit together unless you pay for it – yes, they will stick your kids with strangers just like Southwest will if you’re in boarding group C – so be sure to factor that into your budget if it matters to you. When I went to Denver with two introverted friends we ended up all over the plane, but dangit, we flew from Florida to Colorado and back for $90!

. . . . . . . . .

Now that I’ve tackled 90% of the complaints about flying budget airlines, let me address the other complaints I’ve heard/read:

1. “The seats are uncomfortable.” Well, yes, they are. But I’ve flown in coach probably a hundred times and only flown in not-coach twice, and every single coach seat I’ve sat in is uncomfortable. Frontier is interesting because their seats really are no less comfortable than your average coach seat, but people see that they are different – a space-saving design that has less padding but I swear is not less comfortable for me – and it automatically makes them grumpier. This is just anecdotal and potentially more than you wanted to know, but my butt has never gone numb on a Frontier plane, including the four-hour flight to Denver. It has, however, gone numb on several traditional padded coach seats on flights half the distance.
2. “The customer service is terrible.” I haven’t flown Allegiant yet, but Frontier and especially WOW had great customer service for me. They were very friendly and helpful. I don’t remember actually having any interaction with employees on RyanAir (it was 7 years ago that I flew that airline), so clearly they weren’t bad either.
3. “They canceled my flight and there were no other flights till the next day!” Now this is potentially a legitimate concern. One of the ways these airlines save money is by running fewer flights, full to capacity. (Try saying that five times fast.) If there is only one flight from Orlando to Philadelphia each day and your flight home gets canceled, you’re going to be spending some unexpected quality time in the airport. But here’s my (admittedly also anecdotal) answer to that: I’ve traveled a lot of places on a lot of airlines, and only spent the night in an airport once. You know who canceled my flight, wasn’t the least bit apologetic about it, and made me sleep on the floor of Chicago-O’Hare on my birthday? United Airlines. And you can bet I spent a lot more than $50 on that ticket!

. . . . . . . . .

Obviously, whether or not budget airlines are worth the hassle to save lots of money is an individual choice based on individual priorities. There is no right or wrong here. If you’d rather take one trip a year and bring as much luggage as you want and get “free” peanuts, that’s no better or worse than packing light and paying peanuts to go four different places in a year on Frontier. If travel is important to you and you don’t have a big budget for it, don’t write off the nickel-and-dime airlines because you’ve heard the horror stories from the people who didn’t pay attention. Take a look when they’re running their sales and maybe you can swing a long weekend at a far-away friend’s house after all.

Speaking of which, Frontier is offering me $19 each way to Houston. Oh, Houstonian friends…!

Places I’ve gone thanks to budget airlines:

One more thing: If you like the idea of saving money on travel but don’t like budget airlines, consider following TheFlightDeal. They post good prices on flights from anywhere in the USA to anywhere in the world, and do not usually post budget airline sales. Some TFD finds are better than others, but they only post them if they’re better than average. You can watch for a specific place, or you can just up and go anywhere that sounds interesting. Often these deals are out of places that budget airlines like Frontier fly to, so you can combine a great sale fare on a budget airline with a great sale fare on a legacy carrier and still come out ahead. Now you have no excuse: go see the world!

* Without using credit card points, that is. An upcoming PAAMA post will be about travel hacking!
** None of these links are affiliate links. I should probably work on that!😉

My First – and Only – Marathon Experience (a gifstory)

Last year about this time some friends of mine were talking about doing the Walt Disney World Marathon in 2016. I was new to enjoying running, but they said: “Disney races are magical!” “We’re going to wear costumes!” “Self-torture is so fun!” and I was convinced. In April, we sealed our fates and registered to do the marathon on January 10, 2016.


The training plan I used started in July. It seemed pretty doable until about halfway through. My 15-miler was OK. My 17-miler was really bad. My two 20-milers were utterly horrible. “Well, that’s to be expected,” I thought. “Training runs are supposed to suck! Race Day Magic is legit [no, really, it is], and surely it must be tenfold at Disney World!”naive-Leslie

Race day was this past Sunday. First things first, and I knew this going in (yet still signed up for this?!): for a race on Disney World property you have to wake up so early that it’s actually late for some people. In this case, our alarms went off at two freaking forty-five a.m. 2:45am, people!alarmclocksmash-groundhogday

The race itself started at 5:30 so even if you could just magically appear there, it’s still pretty dang early. Instead we had to walk about a mile from our bus dropoff to the pre-race area, then another 1.5 or so before we even hit the starting line. Yes: we had walked 2.5 miles before the marathon even started. Our corral didn’t start till about 6:00am, so if you’re keeping track, it was three hours from wake-up to actually starting the

Finally – finally! – the race started! Hooray! Excitement! Fireworks! At first it was crowded, dark, and just on regular roads, but time passed quickly and we reached Magic Kingdom! Running down Main Street and through Fantasyland and Cinderella’s Castle and Frontierland was fantastic.20160110_07275312562542_10207781279508480_2089959165_o 20160110_073439

But shortly after we left Magic Kingdom it got bad. Very bad. We had trained properly, we had tapered properly, we didn’t go out too fast, we had eaten and fueled and dressed properly, but still it was awful. Instead of having sore feet around mile 14 like in our training runs, we had sore feet beginning around mile 8. Rebecca left us around then because she’s a fast person and couldn’t take it any longer. (We wanted her to for her sake!) Kelly and I wanted to stay together unless the sweepers were an immediate threat, so we did a lot more walking early on because of sore feet and because, did I mention, she’s pregnant… with twins?! Although it was probably easier on my muscles to walk that much, I think that extra time on my feet made them worse. By mile 14 they were on fire.


When we got to mile 16 and had been hurting for eight miles and realized we still had ten miles to gocrying-jackLOST

Interestingly though, thinking of it as five miles to five miles instead of ten straight did help mentally. And I pointed out to Kelly that we had already been pushing the stupid wall for five miles at least by that point and we could push it another five more, and then another five more. Quitting or giving into the pain was not an option, and neither was being swept, because there was no way I’d ever do 26.2 again.never-harrypotter

In the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, around mile 18, Kelly recognized Emily from a Facebook running group we’re in and called to her. She ended up hanging out with us for the rest of the race, and she was awesome. Turns out we have a lot in common, including kids who were born in Ethiopia! Having friends to talk to definitely made this thing slightly less horrible.

[Intermission: I should take a minute here to say that runDisney puts on a great race. There are tons of water/Powerade/fuel stops, plenty of medical tents, lots of character photo ops, bands, and distractions, and the crowd/spectator support is fantastic. Apart from the absolutely ungodly wake-up time and the 2.5 mile walk before the starting line, it was not the race’s fault that my experience was so bad. Actually, I’ve already signed up or another rD race! Spoiler alert: it is NOT a marathon! /Intermission]

I’ve never been excited to leave Disney’s Hollywood Studios before, but this day I was thrilled; the sweepers were closing in and once we got past the buses outside that park, between miles 23 and 24, even if they passed us we were safe and would be allowed to finish the race no matter how long it took. The bus drivers cheered as we passed them; we had made it! safenow-Anastasia

And, admittedly, a little sad. Because 2.5 more miles and it had already been almost seven hours since the race started for us.

We hobbled by Kelly’s family. We hobbled by the Boardwalk and Yacht Club resorts where Emily’s friend gave me the best Coke I’ve ever tasted. We hobbled into EPCOT and I laughed because I was so happy to get to EPCOT and since it’s my least favorite of the four Disney World parks I’ve never had that reaction before. We hobbled around the World (Showcase) and pondered why EPCOT had to be so freaking big. We hobbled by the big golf ball. We hobbled by the gospel choir at the long-awaited mile 26 sign. We hobbled till we could see the finish line. And then we used the last of our strength and ran it in!

L-R: me, Emily, and Kelly. (I will be buying some photos but I’m waiting to be sure all my pics are up before purchasing.)

And this one.

Rebecca had to wait for us for about two hours, but she’s used to waiting for me after races. Heh. My blood sugar dropped after the race and I had to lie down a while. They made me get up to get this group shot, and I’m thankful that we have a finished shot of the three of us. (My face, though, was actually because my husband said, “Say ‘can’t wait to do this again someday’!”)12544867_10207781346230148_866926820_o-crop

My Garmin almost went kaput at the end of the race, so I have no record of my steps from after about 3:00pm, but even without that I’m legit thinking about getting a 50K sticker for my car because I ACTUALLY RAN/WALKED 50K in just race-related distance.Screenshot_2016-01-12-21-07-16

We hobbled about half a mile toward our much-too-far-away bus before spotting courtesy wheelchairs. I was in way too much pain to have any pride, so as my husband wheeled me toward the bus (and Rebecca pushed Kelly) I just whimpered because my feet hurt that bad and I wasn’t even using them at the moment.

But, y’all – we did it. I DID IT. People say that doing a marathon is 90% mental, and they’re right in two ways: 1) I finished this out of mental stubbornness and refusal to quit even though my feet were screaming for me to do so, and 2) you have to be 90% mental to attempt it. Heh.mental-harrypotter

The thing with doing a marathon is that supposedly everyone hates it while they’re doing it and for a day or two after while the memories – and pain – are still fresh. Then they change their mind a few days after the race, for a few reasons. I’ve seen this happen with my own friends a few times.

Well, it’s Wednesday now – three days later, and I am pain-free – so what about me? Have I changed my mind? Do I want to do it again? Do I hate having my only marathon experience forever be that terrible? Do I wonder how much faster I could do it on my own?michaelscottfreakoutawhellno-emersoncodneveragain-JackHarkness runaway-montypython And if you keep smugly saying, “Mm-hmm, sure, we’ll see”?hateyou-Gina

Year of Running, 2015

The other day I stumbled upon this wonderful post. I fell in love with the idea and decided to do my own. So, I present to you:


2015 was my first full year of running, my first year of not hating running, and my first time really doing a race. I did three 5Ks, two 5-milers, a 15K, and three half-marathons.

Best Race Experience

It seems bizarre that it would be this race, because I injured my knee around mile 2 of 9.3 and had to limp most of the way to the finish, but the Gate River Run 15K was my favorite all year. 15K is a great distance – challenging, but not brutal – and this race is a beautiful route, has great crowd support, has a nice expo and good bling, and is just all-around a great race.

Celebrating post-race with the most encouraging running friend in the world, who doesn’t even seem to mind waiting for me at races. (She’s much faster than I am!)

Best Run

Gotta go with the Marine Corps Half-Marathon. In addition to being my half-marathon PR, I felt really strong for most of it and even had negative splits early on, including in the first mile or two, which included going up one of the bridges! My goal was sub-2:45, and when I crossed the finish line at 2:41:21, with my friend (in the GRR photo above) screaming at me in happiness for crushing my goal, I was just a little happy.02MCHM

Best New Piece of Gear

Almost everything was a new piece of gear for me since I just started running. Ha! So I’ll choose a few.

First, I would have to say any GPS running watch. I have no natural sense of pace, so without one I go out too quickly, and when I’m tired I think I’m running reasonably fast but it turns out I’m not. I started with a Polar M400, which was great, but when my husband started running long too he needed a GPS watch, so I gave him that one since he already knew how to use it and got myself a Garmin Vivoactive. I have no complaints about either, but the Vivoactive definitely looks better than the M400 if you plan to wear it all the time!

I also noticed a big difference in long run pain and recovery once I switched from neutral shoes to stability shoes made for long hauls. My favorites are Asics GT-1000 3, which is bad because they’re discontinued and the GT-2000 series don’t work as well for me. I’ve also tried Adrenalines, Ravennas, and other stability shoes, but they hit my toes wrong even in a half and full size large, so I’m kind of tempted to buy all the GT-1000 3’s I can find.

Finally, I picked up one of these New Balance running belts at Ross for $5, and it’s the best one I’ve used. It expands to a surprising capacity, doesn’t bounce, and has flashing LED lights for visibility, which is awesome if you run at night. I bought another one on Amazon in case I lose mine or the battery dies.

Best Piece of Running Advice You Received

Every runner I’ve ever met thinks they’re slow. I do, too. But…



Most Inspirational Runner

Definitely my friend Rebecca. Honestly, if it weren’t for her, I don’t think I would’ve ever thought to try running again. I hated it – no, utterly despised it – for so long that it never would’ve occurred to me. (To be fair, this has also caused me to curse her – in jest – mostly – toward the end of long runs.) She loves running and she is truly the most encouraging runner friend ever. When you look at a lot of my race finish pictures, you see her, because she waits for me after she finishes and then, when I get close, she runs me in.

Also, she started out slow, like me, but through years of running, including several marathons and a 50K, she is now one of those awesome fast people! And you can’t even hate her for it one little bit because she worked for that for years. It didn’t come naturally or quickly. Her progress is so inspiring to me!

Yeah, I was sweaty. July morning in Florida = 99% humidity.

Favorite Picture From a Run or Race This Year

I don’t buy any race photos from our main race photographer here in town because their prices are ridiculous. Like, you can buy a photo download or two, or you can enter another good race for the same money. As such, I don’t have many good race photos to share here. So, let me use a finish picture with said inspirational friend Rebecca, as well as my friends Kelly and Esther. We four have been friends for almost a decade now, but they caught the running bug while I still hated it. Eventually they and Rebecca formed a sort of virtual running support group, and they let me in when I did my 180 on running. We challenge and encourage each other. Last May, Rebecca and I joined Kelly and Esther in eastern TN for a half-marathon (Esther’s and my first). It was a hard one due to rain and giant hills, which are especially challenging when you live in a very flat part of Florida! But we all finished, and had a great race weekend together.

Color coordination with each other and the race logo was totally unintentional.

Race Experience You Would Repeat in A Heartbeat

Disney’s Castaway Cay 5K… but that’s mostly because it means that I’d be at Castaway Cay, which means that I’d be on a Disney Cruise.


But really the only race I did in 2015 that I didn’t love was the Faxon Law Half-Marathon in Connecticut in October, which sprung a 3-hour time limit on us after registration. That was a big deal for my SIL who did that as her first half-marathon and is slower, like me. We may not have registered if we had known in advance that there was a relatively strict time limit. (Every other half I’ve done or seen has a 3 1/2 hour time limit.) My husband and I stayed with my SIL for the first half so we finished just over 3 hours, and not only was all the food and post-race stuff almost completely packed up by then, but there was no water left for finishing runners, meaning probably the ten or so people who most needed it did not receive water at the finish unless we had some in our cars. Also, they used volunteers rather than signs for course directions, and toward the end there were a lot of turns. When the volunteers left at the end of their three hour commitment, the back-of-the-packers had no idea how to get to the finish line and got lost, extending their already long run. (If they had not gotten lost, my SIL and her race-day friend would’ve likely finished in a normal half’s 3:30 time limit.) Also, they had no race photography. Even though I don’t buy the photos, I like to see them, and we had great costumes for this race because it was on Halloween!

Olive Oyl and Popeye after the race.🙂 We actually had full costumes but because there were no race photographers, don’t have a full-length picture.

If you could sum up your running year in one word, what would it be?

New. New to wanting to run, new to actually choosing to go out in the cold (and to run! What?!), new shoes, new shorts, new singlets, new distances, new to racing, new to racecations, new to figuring out how to pin bibs, new to wearing costumes while racing, and more! Basically everything was new.

Running Goals for 2016

  • Run a marathon! (Disney, this weekend!) Did it. Hated it. Never again.
  • Run a sub-2:40 half
  • Finish the Gate in under 2 hours – 3/12/16 NOOOO. It was hot and I was tired and I missed it by like five minutes.
  • Run a sub-33:00 5K – got 32:30 in training on 4/9/16. I need to sign up for a race to try to get it officially!
  • Run a half-marathon (or longer) each month – 1/10 (marathon), 2/14 (Donna), 3/26 (Tomoka)

You are not a tree.

It’s that time of year again. “The time of pumpkins and peppermint and pie,” you ask? No. Well, yes. But also no, because I’m talking about how every fall people who live in Florida, rather than being thankful to live in a place most people aspire to live in, complain about living in Florida. (Yes. Really.)

This stupidity happens every year, and it annoys me every year. If you are in a situation like this, where you don’t like where you live, there are two things you can do:

1) Move. If you are a legal adult, you can leave any time you want tonot-a-tree

The USA is a very, very big country. It’s three times the size of the European Union! We are very blessed to be able to choose any climate, topography, and even culture that we want, and stay in our home country. We are also blessed to be a rich country where jobs and housing are available just about everywhere.

Moving itself sucks, of course (I know this; I’ve moved 14 times if you count moving back to two places), but getting to go somewhere new, and somewhere you like? It’s worth it.

If you are choosing to stay somewhere you don’t like, even if it’s for a good reason like family being near, well, that’s great, but IT IS STILL YOUR CHOICE. You’re not a tree; you can go away. If staying where you don’t like is what you’ve chosen, then your only other option is:

2) Stop complaining! if-you-dont-like-something-change-it-if-you-cant-change-it-change-your-attitude-quote-1

Whether it’s to be close to family, or because you like your job, or any number of reasonable things – if you’re an adult, no matter the reason, more than likely you are still choosing to be where you are, so stop complaining about it! Jobs are everywhere, and even if you move across the country, family is just a phone call, Skype, flight, or road trip away.

Even if you’re one of the few who actually can’t change your location, complaining serves only to drag your attitude down, and the attitudes of those around you. You are negatively influencing a lot of people. You’re the people addressed in that Maya Angelou quote that need to change your attitude.

I have a friend whose husband is in the military, and a few years ago they got orders to go to a post that is commonly disliked and derided among those who’ve lived there. My friend, despite hearing all that negative stuff, chose to move there and then form her own opinion. And you know what? She liked it there. Of course there were things about it she didn’t like, but she focused on the positives and had a great time living at this almost universally-disliked post. Why was her experience so different? She could not choose to move elsewhere, but she could choose to have a good attitude – and it changed how she viewed that place.


Look: I understand living in a place that you don’t like. I hated where I lived in Illinois from ages 11-18. I hated every single thing about it except my friends there. But I was a kid; I couldn’t change it. I know without a doubt that I would’ve moved to Florida either for college or after college, whether my family was still in Illinois or not. (Thankfully my parents saved me the trouble and moved us all to Florida when I was 18!) It was going to be within my power to move, and I was going to do it.

Did I have a bad attitude living where I hated? Absolutely. I was a teenager! Show me a teenager that doesn’t have a bad attitude about what they don’t like, especially if they can’t change it! But I have long since resolved that if I ever have to live somewhere I don’t like again – and I assure you would take the hand of God writing on my wall or a talking donkey or something equally Old Testament to get me back up north – I would do like my friend and make the best of it. I would look for things I like and try to dwell on the positives rather than complaining about the things I dislike, both for my sake and the sake of those who hear me.

Can we all just, please, agree to do that from now on? It’ll make all our lives much better. But because I know y’all will keep it up, I promise I’ll try to scroll right by your complaining – or at least just post this link or the quote about your not being a tree.

Oh, and to those few who eventually do actually suck it up and move north – well, you’re always welcome to visit me in February when you’re sick of what you wished for.😉