The Silver Lining

Is it summer yet?

Seriously, I am over this weird winter and all of the nastiness that comes along with it. This includes being sick…..it sure seems like everyone I know has had some kind of awful illness since 2014 entered our lives.

I am no exception, only my illness stayed with me for an entire month. 30 freaking days. Yes, February, you were an absolute delight.

Yeah, pretty accurate in my case.

Yeah, pretty accurate in my case.

I am not exaggerating when I say I was sick for an entire month, which seemed like an eternity to me….probably longer to the loved ones who took care of me and had to deal with me on a daily basis. It started with a little bit of nausea and loss of appetite….then extreme dizziness….then a headache that felt like someone was using a jackhammer to drill into my brain…an off and on high fever…super strange rash…..extreme dehydration….total weakness of the body….overall a blast. I got to spend lots of time in hospitals, lots of money on prescriptions and orange jello, and way too much watching Gossip Girl.

Sick and in the hospital? Still able to be textually active!!!!

Sick and in the hospital? Still able to be textually active!!!!

Being down and out really ticked me off. I never like my routine being disrupted, especially when the disruption means I can’t work out, go to work, or do the things I like. My sickness also forced me to make two decisions I didn’t want to make: I had to cancel my tattoo appointment, and I had to withdraw from the full Pittsburgh Marathon in May and opt to run the half marathon instead.

Regardless, I still did what I always do: looked for a silver lining. Now I know this may be a surprise to those of you who think I am cynical, but you should know that below the consistently wicked sense of humor and constant sarcasm lies an extremely optimistic human being (yes, I am discussing myself). What is a silver lining? It’s some element of hope and optimism in a difficult situation, not just a movie starring Bradley Cooper, and I look for them in every less than desirable situation. In this particular instance I found several.

THE SILVER LININGS OF BEING SICK

1. I learned a lot about myself. No, this had nothing to do with quiet reflections or affirmations. It has everything to do with one of my favorite sites, Buzzfeed, and the quizzes it pumped out to allow me to learn who the true Katie is. Thanks to Buzzfeed.com, I determined the following:

-If I was a food, I would be sushi.

-If I was a wrestler, I would be the Macho Man Randy Savage

-If I was one of the  Mean Girls, I would be Regina George

-If I was a character in Orange is the New Black, I would be Taystee

-If I was a rock band, I would be Fleetwood Mac

-If I was a member of a high school club, I would be in the drama club.

-If I were to die a Game of Thrones death, I would be decapitated.

If I was a Batman Villain, I would be Mr. Freeze.

If I was a pie, I would be Strawberry Rhubarb.

And now, thanks to Buzzfeed, I have a better understanding of who I am. Can’t believe I lived all these years not knowing this information.

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 10.44.11 PM

2.  I got to spend a lot of quality time with some very handsome fellas. Three of my best nurses were four legged attentive little men who brought me many laughs and kisses during my illness.

Bubba and Murphy took their role of nurse very seriously.

Bubba and Murphy took their role of nurse very seriously.

3. Orange Jello is even more delicious than I imagined.  I am not even embarrassed by the fact that I walked into a Walgreens and bought every single four pack of orange Jello they had in stock. I also am not embarrassed by the fact that I purchased them to help me digest the horse sized pills my doctors prescribed. Yes, I am a grown adult. Yes, I trick myself into taking my medicine by hiding it in Jello. No shame here.

My daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner while sick.

My daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner while sick.

4. I learned a creative new way to rock a heating pad. Like I mentioned, I had a headache that literally felt like a midget was tap-dancing on my head wearing football cleats. It was awful. While the medication the doctors prescribed me helped a little, laying on a heating pad and then using a headband to hold it in place around my cranium really did the trick. Did I look like a mental patient? You bet. Did I care? Absolutely not.

This may look ridiculous, but it sure helped with my headache!

This may look ridiculous, but it sure helped with my headache!

5. Sometimes it is fun to have others poke fun at your age. Kyle enjoyed giving me drinks in cups that said things like “Grandma” or “Sexy at 60.” I have to be honest, it did make me laugh quite a bit.

Hahahahahahaha.

Hahahahahahaha.

6. You get addicted to new television shows. During this month, I got addicted to Glee. Once I wrapped that up, I got started with Gossip Girl. Unfortunately, I am still trying to make my way through GG, but am proud to report that I am close to finishing the fourth season. Getting addicted to a new show is like starting a new job…..you feel like you have to put in some serious hours. I don’t mind though, but many questions have been raised. Does anyone else notice Chace Crawford’s eyebrows never move?  Who else wants to punch Georgina in the face? I have so many comments and questions.#teamchuckbass

7. You save money on shampoo and makeup. Seriously, it was kind of nice being a bum. I won’t lie. Don’t be thinking omitting showers took place, that wasn’t the case, but I didn’t feel the need to spend much time on my out of control mop top. Speaking of omitting, I did avoid pants as much as possible. We all know how I can’t stand them.

8. Others overlook your grumpiness. To those of you who were fortunate enough to interact with me while I was sick, thank you for letting my grumpiness slide. I am well aware that I could be compared to a toddler while I am sick, so it means a lot to me that no one attempted to suffocate me with a pillow during the month of February.

9. When the moment comes that you can exercise, you jump for joy. Literally, I did. Fitness is not just something I love, but it is a career of mine. Not being able to do ANYTHING was awful. The moment I was cleared to resume a normal workout routine, I took full advantage of it. This did include jumping around.

Yes, I was that excited.

Yes, I was that excited.

Thank heavens I am back to normal FINALLY. Turns out that I didn’t have Parvo, Meningitis, Vertigo, Mono, or any of the other illnesses suggested during my little bout of fun….it was just a really, really bad virus. While I am happy that I can resume my normal routine, I am also happy that I could find the silver lining.

Always look for one, they are there.

 

Found this on another favorite site of mine, the berry.com

Found this on another favorite site of mine, the berry.com

 

I’m a Psycho….and I’m 100% okay with that.

The greatest time of year has officially kicked off in my world, and I am ELATED!

This time, of course, would be the time of year where I can say goodbye to the treadmill and indoor track and take my running outdoors.

Hi, spring! So glad to see you!

Hi, spring! So glad to see you!

Earlier this week I had my first run outside with my running pals, Steve and Gary. Not only was it my first run outside in lovely weather, but it was my first run in over a month and a half since I was sick and out of commission for so long.  While it was a little more challenging than I had hoped, it lifted my spirits and gave me the motivation I had to keep pushing forward. As most of you know, being sick for such an extensive period of time forced me to make a really difficult decision: I had to drop down from the full marathon in Pittsburgh to the half marathon. It did deflate me for awhile, but after my run on Monday, I actually felt okay with it. True, it is something I really wanted to do, but if I have learned anything from the past year it is to adapt…..so that is what I am doing. My new full marathon plan involves running in Columbus in October.

The fact that the greatest time of year is here also means something else…..race season has officially started! The weekend is my beloved running club’s Shamrock 5k/15k, which unfortunately I am not participating in this year. Since I was unsure health wise where I would be on race day, I figured it was better to be safe than sorry. Still, I hate missing any opportunity to wear my leprechaun tuxedo.

Maybe I will just wear it to work Monday…..

Maybe I will just wear it to work Monday…..

The Shamrock run is one that will always hold a special place in my heart. Why you ask? It was my very first race as a member of Summit Athletic Running Club (SARC for short) and the beginning of some very wonderful friendships. I made many decisions and changes over the last few years, but one of the absolute best was joining this running club. SARC is an awesome organization, and for those of you in the area that are considering joining a club, let me share a few details about it.

-Clearly, we run. There are various running groups within the club where members meet to run daily, weekly, or monthly based on varying paces and availability. If you are a beginner, there are runners who can help you prepare for your first 5K. If you are a seasoned professional, you can meet up with the Phylers and throw down an easy 20 miler on a Saturday.

-When it comes to club sponsored runs like the Shamrock, many of us participate. If we can’t run, we volunteer. Volunteering is such an important part of the club, so if you aren’t a runner but would like to meet new people or be involved in the running community without actually running, volunteering is the way to go. Our club honestly could not function without the volunteers….plus it is a lot of fun! This morning I volunteered at the Shamrock packet pickup, which is always a good time. It also pays to volunteer and participate in the club. For every activity you participate in, you receive Reach for the Summit points. Those who earn enough are invited to a special dinner after the year ends, plus you can cash those points in for cool stuff at the end of the year. Look what my points helped me get this year….you know these are totally Kate-tastic shoes:

New running kicks in two of my favorite colors….and the bottom is reflective, too!

New running kicks in two of my favorite colors….and the bottom is reflective, too!

-Once a month, we have a club meeting where we eat, socialize, and listen to a guest speaker. I always am amazed what I learn from the speakers the club brings in. This past week we learned about some common running injuries and ways to prevent them….and I found a stretch that makes my entire body feel great after a workout.

I borrowed this picture from SARC's Facebook page…our speaker, Dr. Leo Kormanik, sharing a stretch known as "The Bretzel". I love it.

I borrowed this picture from SARC’s Facebook page…our speaker, Dr. Leo Kormanik, sharing a stretch known as “The Bretzel”. I love it.

-We make awesome friendships. While I have made so many wonderful friends of all ages over the past year, there is a special group of people who I have grown to love dearly. We choose to call ourselves “The SARC Psychos”…..because we tend to get a little psycho about running races together. I always love running with these people…we all run at different paces, but it is always fun to compete with each other and motivate each other along the way. There were a time during the Home Run for a Homeless race on Thanksgiving that I was absolutely struggling, and Steve (who had already finished because he is quick like the wind), turned around to run the last half mile with me. Running friends push each other. That’s why I love having them in my life…they make me run better every single day. Plus this group is an absolute blast, and I always find myself smiling and full of laughter when I am with them.

Andrea, Me, Sarah, Sharon, and Gary. Only one missing is Steve!

Andrea, Me, Sarah, Sharon, and Gary. Only one missing is Steve!

I love being a part of this club year round, not just this time of year where the exciting races and chip parties and fun stuff kicks off, but even during the down time, too. It’s the best $20 I’ve ever spent.

Want to be a part of this cool club? We always love new members! Check out our website for upcoming events and information http://www.summitathletic.com!

Brunettes Do It Better.

Last year I was fortunate enough to be a part of a really cool event that involved football, the color purple, and charity. It was the very first year Akron was able to hold such an event , and I was lucky enough to be a part of it.

What in the world am I talking about?????

Blondes Vs Brunettes Powder Puff Football, that’s what!!!!

This super fun event was created with one purpose in mind: help raise awareness for Alzheimer’s, a disease that I, unfortunately, know way too much about first hand. As most of my readers know, my grandmother Bubu has been fighting a losing battle with this disease for over a decade, and while it has been crippling to her, it has also been very crippling to our family. Each one of us has been forced to deal with this disease in our own way, yet we all have been able to come together to volunteer and participate in the events that the Association has to help raise funding toward research and to help find a cure to such a nasty, nasty disease. Each year we have one of the largest teams at the Boardman area Memory Walk, an event that raises thousands and thousands of dollars every single year. It is an honor to be a part of such a cool event and to walk with Bubu’s Bunch. We also are active participants in the Forget Me Not Gala each spring…an event where my mother was honored as the Inspiration Award Winner a few years back. Still so proud of you, Mom!

When I was approached last year about participating in the newly created Blondes Vs Brunettes football game, I didn’t think twice about signing up. You’re telling me I get to break out my competitive side AND raise money for a charity that means so much to me???? Yes, please! The game was an absolute blast….not only did the Brunettes win, but the Association raised over $10,000! Yeah, buddy!

Team Brunettes with the Win!

Team Brunettes with the Win!

Naturally, when I was approached this year about not only hopping back into my wide receiver role on Team Brunette, but serving as one of the two captains, I was all in. I mean, I even participated in a flag football league this fall to help me prepare! The big game is May 31st, and I hope all of my readers mark that on their calendar and plan to attend! We also have a big kick off event coming up on March 21st at Gone Country Bar in downtown Akron….if you come and hang with us, you get lots of pizza, mechanical bull rides, and a ticket to the game for only $10! Yahtzeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Come to the game to have a good time, but know that your attendance means so very much to all of us. Yes, I am playing for my Grandmother, who I wish desperately could be there cheering me on and yelling my name like she used to at my high school and college games. I am also playing because I never want a family to feel what my family and so many families have felt due to Alzheimer’s. It is a disease that breaks your heart every single day, and it is a helpless feeling to not be able to find a solution. Fortunately, my Blonde and Brunette pals and I are working extremely hard to raise money to help find a cure. The game will no doubt be a blast, but the strides we all are making toward an end to this disease is really what calls for a celebration. We may enter that game as two separate teams wanting to win that shiny trophy, but we all end up as winners with your support.

Ahhhh….victory is so sweet.

Ahhhh….victory is so sweet.

If you would like to make a donation to me or if you want to read more about the event itself, please visit http://www.bvbakron.org. You can also find out more information about other fun events, like the kick off party I mentioned earlier!

Thank you all so much for your continued support. You really have no idea what it means to my family and to me.

I look forward to seeing you all at the big game on May 31st!

Holla Holla: My Obsession

***Disclaimer*** This is a total girlie girl post. Any male reading this probably won’t want to read any further.

I have many girlie obsessions, and I am upfront and honest about them. I like shoes, baking, 80′s music, tutus, glitter, unique pieces of jewelry, Mac lipstick, aprons, trashy television,scarves…..I can go on and on…..

However, something has catapulted to the top of my obsession list recently. My EOS lip balm.

One of the many

One of the many

It is a rare occasion where my lips are without lipstick. I can’t help it…I like when I look put together, it’s kind of my thing. When that moment comes when the lipstick comes off….that’s when the lip balm goes on.

I first purchased this amazing little lip treat awhile back, and I bought it strictly on its appearance. Since I was over the age of 16, I felt it was time to retire my trusty Bonne Bell and move onto something a tad more mature. While checking out Walgreens, I saw a colorful little egg calling my name….and you know me….something colorful and a fun shape…..I was sold. The only thing that could’ve made it better would’ve been if it was covered in glitter.

Such cuteness in such a tiny little package!

Such cuteness in such a tiny little package!

Since that first purchase, I have taken my obsession to another level with EOS to another level (learn more about them by clicking here.) I presently own every flavor, and I rotate them based on my mood. My favorite is the Mint (so freaking great!). Yes, they look a little funny, but they are the best lip balms I have ever purchased…and I’ve tried pretty much anything.

And then…just when I thought my mind couldn’t be blown more….EOS made this:

Whhaaattttt?????!!!!!!!

Whhaaattttt?????!!!!!!!

I can assure you I do not own stock in EOS, I just really love their stuff, and I had to share with my lady followers who also love great things.

Your lips…and now your legs…will thank me.

You’re welcome.

RANT OF THE WEEK: Old Man Winter

I know what you guys are going to say….I live in Ohio so I shouldn’t be complaining about the cold, right?

WRONG.

Because I live in this state and have to deal with the ridiculousness known as winter ever year, I feel I am entitled to complain about it a little bit. Especially this week. Let’s get one thing clear: I don’t always hate the cold, snowy weather. I like it on Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. I also like it on days when I can remain at home under a warm blanket or next to a fire. I even like snowboarding, tubing, sledding, and ice skating.

I'm ready for beaches and bikinis!

I’m ready for beaches and bikinis!

What it comes down to is…..I hate winter when it interferes with my life. This week it has done just that.

REASONS WHY I AM 100% OVER WINTER.

1. It drastically impacts my wardrobe. Do you know how difficult it is to look super cute when you go out and have to wear clunky boots? We all know I have kind of a shoe problem, but even though I have some cute boots, sometimes it is too slippery to wear even those. I do rock out my Uggs as much as possible, but sometimes they just don’t work with the outfit I have in mind #whitegirlproblems

2. The amount of times I cuss increases. This usually occurs when I am driving. Do people in this area forget what to do when it snows? Learn to drive…..or let’s get your driver’s license revoked. (Dude driving the Toyota this morning on 77, I am talking to you). Also, why do people park like absolute idiots?

Truth.  Gosh, I love some cards.com!

Truth.
Gosh, I love some cards.com!

3. Running outside is difficult. I don’t necessarily mind running in cold weather or getting snow in my hair, but I do not like running in sub-par conditions where I could injure myself. This weather means ice in weird places and also trails that have not been cleaned off for runners. Some days I will brave the run, most days, I will opt for a treadmill.

4. Why are there animals left outside? If it is cold enough for my Shakeology shaker to freeze in my car overnight (happened last night….whoops), then your animal should not be outside. If you are too much of a jerk to bring your animal inside when it is cold, you should not have animals. You also shouldn’t have kneecaps, and I hope someone crushes yours.

5. Playing the Game happens a lot more frequently. If you have the pleasure of knowing me in real life, you have most likely heard me refer to “playing the game” more than once. When I say this phrase, it means I am refusing to stop and fill up my gas tank because I absolutely despise doing it. That empty fuel light will go on and I will push it and push it and push it until I am pretty positive I am running on fumes. The cold weather doesn’t help the cause…my poor little hands don’t like getting all chapped!!!! And speaking of hands….

6. I feel like I am constantly slathering my hands with lotion. Seriously. I should invest in stock with Bath and Body Works and Jergens because when winter rolls around, I know I am giving those companies a lot of money. My hands feel like elephant trunks, and quite frankly, I hate it.

What a great picture! stillnessmeetsme.tumblr.com

What a great picture!
stillnessmeetsme.tumblr.com

7. Sometimes I fall victim to socks.  I CAN’T STAND SOCKS!!!!! Other than while running or working out, I don’t wear them. They annoy me and make my feet feel strange. However, on those super cold nights, sometimes I have to put a pair on. Ironically, I end up in a state of grumpiness within minutes. Coincidence? I think not.

Just say NO to socks!!! www.google.com

Just say NO to socks!!!
http://www.google.com

8. My shows are between seasons. Hello, Scandal! I can’t handle the suspense. These long breaks between seasons are just killing me softly.

9. I drink more hot chocolate than I should. I’m cold, and I like it a lot, what can I say. I especially like orange flavored hot chocolate…special thanks to Kyla for buying me a huge tin of it yesterday…..I will be ingesting that heavenly goodness like I am going to the chair.

10. Every day at work I tiptoe a fine line of getting third degree burns and staying warm. Yeah, that’s right. I have a heater under my desk that I practically sit on top of, and it runs all day long. Really, it is a lifesaver, but my life is in jeopardy every day due to me wanting to stay warm!

I could keep going, but it is too cold for me to keep going with this.

At least scarves are cute...

At least scarves are cute…

(The silver lining: winter allows me to wear fun scarves, crazy earmuffs, and act like a bad ass in my 4 wheel drive vehicle. )

Get out of my face, winter, I’m ready for warm weather and the chance to stare at some sunflowers and daisies!!!!

Is there anything more beautiful??????

Is there anything more beautiful??????

Source

2014: The Year I Will.

One thing can be certain so far in the New Year: I haven’t been writing much……

Fourteen days into 2014, and this is my first blog entry of the new year. It’s not that I haven’t sat down to write. It’s not that I didn’t have anything to say. I knew the first entry of the year was when I would share what my goals were for the upcoming year, and to be honest, I wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted them to be. I always have goals…I have them each and every day. Sometimes they are something small like completing the five things on my to do list. Other times they are more involved, like my Big 31 was last year. 2013 was a year I focused on improving myself as a person…..and while I always strive to be a little better than I was yesterday, I wanted 2014 to be different. After all, I’m looking at life a little differently these days.

...

I was one of those scribblers.

Those who know me best can tell you am ridiculous…all over the place…artsy…creative….and someone who thinks outside of the box. I love art and have always had a strong interest in all things related to art. I’ve painted, done pottery, watercolors, pencil drawings….you name it, and I have given it a try. I idolize Andy Warhol. My obsession with art started at a very young age, and like many other small children, I loved to color. The picture above made me laugh when I found it because it is exactly me. I was one of those kids who scribbled and colored violently with reckless abandon. In fact, if you see my dad, make sure you ask him to do an impersonation of me coloring back in the day. Just thinking about my weird childlike ways makes me smile….but it also got me thinking about my life. Somewhere between that quiet little girl and the person I am today I lost the importance of coloring outside the lines with the same reckless abandon I did as a child.

Sometimes it is important to scribble outside the lines in real life.

Sometimes it is important to break the rules and face something that terrifies the pants off of you.

Thus, I determined what I would be doing in 2014: Conquering some fears and crossing some things off of my bucket list with the same reckless abandonment I had as a child.

My 2014 Bucket List

1. Get a tattoo. My friend Michael, my tattoo accomplice, will be going with me in February to get some ink. I’m excited, nervous, and scared…but it is time to just do it. I finally decided on a design in December, and now I am finally ready to follow through. I am kind of a big baby though, so this will be interesting. Someone should do an over/under on how many times I cry.

2. Run a full marathon. Last year I made the decision that I was going to do this in 2014. My biggest motivation for wanting to run a full: I wasn’t sure if I could. I never had a desire to run a full marathon…mostly because part of me didn’t think I could do it. I’m not sure what got into me, but something just happened,and I signed up for the full Pittsburgh Marathon. I chose Pittsburgh specifically because it was where I did my first half marathon and a city that will always mean a lot to me, and if there was one place where I wanted to destroy a full marathon, Pittsburgh was  it. I am extremely excited that on May 4th I will be running this full with one of my best friends, Jodi. We ran our first half marathons together; it is only fitting we run our first full marathons. I’m terrified I will pee my pants when running (you runners know what I’m talking about), but you better believe we will have cool outfits.

The medal that started it all: Pittsburgh Half 2011

The medal that started it all: Pittsburgh Half 2011

3. Carve my initials in a tree. I’ve always wanted to do this, but never have. I guess I was worried about harming nature or destroying the actual tree, even though it won’t actually do either. I’m going to find a beautiful tree somewhere, carve my initials into it, and remain a part of that tree for all time. There’s something exciting about making a permanent mark on something, even if it is only a tree, but there’s something scary about me handling a knife to carve them!

4. Be a part of a flash mob. Yes, I’m being serious. I have always wanted to be a part of one, so I figured this year would be the perfect time to do such a thing. Don’t worry. I’m going to want all of you to be a part of it, too. You know I love ridiculousness and most things that usually embarrass others, but I am a little worried it won’t be well received….or that no one will participate.

5. Successfully walk through the Rainforest at the Cleveland Zoo. I am pretty sure everyone and their mother knows that I have an intense fear of frogs/toads. Because of this, I’ve never been able to walk through this exhibit and look at all the critters. 2014 is the year I am staring this fear in the face, and I sincerely hope I can do this without passing out/hyperventilating/crying, etc. Kyle has already agreed to go with me and help me get through it, and if my 6’6 man of steel can’t protect me from the little frogs, then I really am doomed. Everything about this terrifies me….I have goosebumps just thinking about it!

6. Ride a horse. I hate horses, always have. This stems back to when I was younger and had to go to a local horse ranch with my church youth group. One of the other girls was thrown off a horse and broke her leg, and I have been scared of them ever since. I also am not of a fan of their huge nostrils (seriously, they are freakin ginormous…….). Sooooooooo……..let’s ride a horse in 2014.

7. Cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner. I love to cook and bake, that is pretty obvious, but I have always been afraid of making the entire spread for this holiday. While it most likely won’t happen on the actual holiday (I like my family traditions), I will make it sometime in the Fall….and will need to invite a ton of people over to help me consume it. Maybe I’ll even get crazy and make a turducken. Cooking such a huge amount of food items entirely by myself will be overwhelming, and I am scared that everything won’t turn out to be delicious.

8. Chin Ups. I WANT TO DO NOT ONE, NOT TWO, BUT FIVE CHIN UPS. Yes, this may be silly to most, but I have very little upper body strength. While I have many fitness goals for 2014, a big one for me is strength. I will make this happen, and I will make sure I capture it on video when it does, but I am scared I won’t be able to do it. I’ve tried for quite some time to master a chin up, and still no go.  Once I handle the chin ups, I am going to nail this move below.

I love Jillian Michaels!

I love Jillian Michaels!

9. Drive a stick shift. Many people have attempted to teach me how to do this over the years. Many have failed. However, I would like to learn for me….just in case I ever get in a pinch and have to drive a stick shift….or if I want to buy my dream car: an old school convertible bug! Feel free to volunteer to teach me…but beware, you need patience. And a lot of time. And me possibly ruining your car, which I am terrified of doing.

Oh gosh this car excites me!!!!!

Oh gosh this car excites me!!!!!

10. Make sushi!!! I am obsessed with sushi and could literally eat it every single day. I’ve wanted to try to make it for awhile, but I just haven’t this year I will make it…I will eat it all….and I will freaking love it. I don’t doubt that I can do it, but I am worried it will take me so long to create it that I will give myself salmonella once I can finally enjoy it.

11. Log 1,000 miles. Last year I had a number of races I wanted to complete, this year it’s all about miles. This equates to about 20 miles a week, which I totally can do. Am I fearful of this part of my bucket list? Not really…just a little worried about waiting until the last minute to wrap things up like I did with my 31 races in 2013.Bring it, miles. And speaking of running and miles…..

12. Finish ahead of my dad in our annual Star Trax 5k showdown in August. Running against my dad is, by far, my favorite race of the year. How cool is it to run against the person who actually motivates and inspires you to run????!!!!!! I love the competition, the challenge, the fact that it’s a night race, and that the race itself ends inside a stadium where I used to hurdle, long jump and sprint back in high school. I’ve never been able to beat my dad….he is super fast and has smoked me every year. August will be here soon, Papa….I’m chasing you down this year! Sure, I am afraid of losing again, but really, when you get to run a race with someone so important to you, doesn’t that automatically make you a winner?????

This man is why I run! So proud of the fact that I get to run with him…..even if I lose.

This man is why I run! So proud of the fact that I get to run with him…..even if I lose.

I’m excited for these challenges, but it’s obvious….something about each and every item on this bucket list terrifies me a little bit. I guess if they didn’t they would just be a part of my real bucket list…the one that includes lots of fun and zany things that I want to accomplish over the course of my entire lifetime, not just this year. I’m looking forward to proving to myself that I am one tough cookie who can take on any challenge that comes in my way…..and doing some fun stuff along the way. Oh, 2014……you will be the year of Katie.

An item from my super long not so scary Bucket List…. Going to Paris and placing a lock on  Lover's Lock Bridge! Thanks, Pinterest for this beautiful photo.

An item from my super long not so scary Bucket List…. Going to Paris and placing a lock on Lover’s Lock Bridge!
Thanks, Pinterest for this beautiful photo.

525, 600.

For those of you in my life who know about my love of Broadway musicals, you know that is a part of one of my favorite songs in the musical Rent called “Seasons of Love.” For those of you who don’t get into musicals, you may know that those are the number of minutes in one year. For those of you who didn’t know either of those facts, congratulations….you just gained some new knowledge.

With the new year fast approaching, I can’t help but think about the past year. I really think it is important to be reflective…how else can one grow as a person????? If I have learned anything this past year, it is how important that is.

Most of you know that throughout the year I have been working toward the goal of completing my Big 31 of 2013. If you are reading this blog entry, but haven’t read anything about the Big 31…I have to ask..where have you been living??? Under a rock! Catch up on your Katetastic information.

If you read my entry entitled It’s My Birthday Month , you learned more about why I set the goals I did for 2013. As written in that particular entry: ” The point of this has been to improve myself as a person…to be in better shape…to be a better cook…a better photographer…a better friend…a better person……After all, it’s all about being a little better than I was yesterday.”

Earlier, as I was running errands to get some items I needed for this evening,  I did something I rarely ever do. I made the entire drive in silence….no music…no phone calls. Silence. And I started to think about how fast 2013 has gone and how I had changed as a person.

The truth is, when 2013 started I was in a really bad place….I was unhappy…I was unhealthy…and I really felt like I was being a selfish person. In my opinion, my life started to unravel toward the end of 2012 and 2013 had picked up right where that had ended. I knew that things would spiral out of control if I didn’t change things. So I chose to change the direction my life was going. I chose the belief that my life once again would be full of happiness and love. Thus the Big 31 was born.

For those of you who didn’t click the above mentioned click to view the initial entry, The Big 31 took the place of any resolutions and became a “to do” list of sorts that I wanted to accomplish by today, the last day of 2013. The To Do list had different areas…with my goal being to complete 31 tasks in each area. It seemed like a lofty challenge, but I was up for it. Here is a breakdown of what I did (and didn’t) do:

KATIE’S BIG 31 OF 2013

- Run 31 Races: Of all the things included in the Big 31, this was one of the two that I was hell bent on completing. Of course I wanted to complete everything I had goaled myself to do, but this one was different. Running is an important part of my life for a lot of reasons, but so is pushing myself to new limits. I knew trying to run 31 races would be a serious challenge. I am happy to report that two weeks ago I successfully ran my 31st race! You can read all about the races that I did and check out pictures  by clicking here! And just to show this part of the challenge who’s boss, I’m running the Great New Year’s Eve Race this evening with about 700 of my closest running pals. GOAL SHATTERED + 1!!!!!

Running in the snow will not be fun today!

Running in the snow will not be fun today!

- Cook 31 New Recipes: It was really important to me to broaden my cooking abilities this year. I’ve always loved to cook and bake, but sometimes I fall into the habit of making the same things over and over simply because I like them so much. Throughout the course of the year I posted a few recipes of what I made,  and I am happy to report that every recipe I made turned out beautifully….well…except for the butternut squash soup I attempted that exploded all over the kitchen (and dog). My favorite recipe to date: my friend Sharon’s protein ball recipe…..Super easy and delicious! Here’s how you make them!

Protein Ball Recipe

-1 cup instant oats

-1/3 cup honey

-1/2 cup natural peanut butter

-1/2 cup flaxseed

-1 tsp vanilla

-2/3 cup coconut

I also add in 2/3 cup mini chocolate chips and 1/2 protein powder.

Other than the protein balls, the remaining 30 recipes I made include: Banana Oat breakfast cookies, stuffed crab rolls, monkey bread, lemon monkey bread (yes two different kinds), turkey taco bake, black bean and spinach enchiladas, pink chocolate chip cookies, granola bars, cauliflower mac and cheese, pumpkin spice lattes, zucchini parmesan crisps, OMG chicken, goat cheese stuffed peppers, peachy keen bars, caprese pasta, lemonade dip, mexican sweet potatoes, egg breakfast cups, guacamole, butternut squash soup, baked pepperoni zucchini boats, peanut butter frosting, fish tacos, tomallito scramble, egg avocado pizza, bacon guacamole grilled cheese, truffle fries, buffalo chicken sliders, and baked fried pickles. I also made about 25 different Shakeology recipes, too. My friends and family definitely enjoyed this part of the Big 31 since they got to try the majority of these items out. GOAL MET!

-Complete 31 Acts of Kindness: This one was right up there with running 31 races. I’ve always done nice things for others, but coming into this year I just felt I needed to step it up a notch. Like I mentioned before, I felt like I was in a bad place and was being too selfish. It was important to me to help those in need and try to do things to cheer up those around me. Throughout the year I donated items, paid for strangers’ food/coffee, wrote letters to soldiers, did kind things for my students without them knowing it was me, volunteered, planned and executed successful fundraisers…..after awhile I actually stopped keeping track because doing these things had become a part of my lifestyle. I really hope that everyone who reads this blog decides to pay it forward and be kinder in the new year. Sometimes the smallest of gestures mean the world to someone. GOAL MET!

I love livelifehappy.com.

I love livelifehappy.com.

Read 31 Books: My main goal for wanting to read more books was to challenge myself to step away from my hectic life to have some ME time. I’ve always been a big reader, but sometimes I get lost in the hustle of my crazy life to remember how much I love curling up under a blanket with hot chocolate and reading. I went through periods of time this year where I read like a maniac, then didn’t for weeks. I only ended up reading 15 books this year, however, I am in the middle of 6 different ones. Now that my schedule has simmered down a little I am hoping to finish those and start some new ones. I also plan on getting a library card (I know, exciting big girl stuff) in the next few weeks. You can see what I have read and plan to read  by clicking my Shelfari shelf! GOAL NOT MET!

-Complete 31 Photo Shoots: Well, this one didn’t go quite as well as I had hoped. When I started the year and the challenge, I was enrolled in school full time pursuing a photography degree to supplement my many talents and interests. When March hit, I decided I needed to take a break from it for some different reasons, and while I still continue taking pictures to this day, I didn’t pursue many photo shoots throughout the course of the year. Many of my subjects were animals, but my favorite photo shoot of the year was the one I did for my roommate, Kyla, and her brother, Max. They wanted to recreate photos from their childhood for their parents, and I couldn’t have been happier with the end result. Overall, I only completed 15 photos shoots throughout the course of the year. GOAL NOT MET!

Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 12.40.10 PM

- Share 31 Stories of Awesome Friendship: Initially when I came up with this part of the Big 31, my goal was to share stories about the important people in my life with all of my readers. I truly feel I am who I am because of the amazing people I am lucky to call my friends. While I did share stories involving some of my closest friends throughout the year by way of blog entries, I also shared many stories and moments via Facebook and in real life by reliving them to others. So many amazing memories with my friends this year…I am so thankful for each and every one of you! I decided to share a few of my favorite moments of the year in this blog. GOAL MET!

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-Make 31 Crafts: Oh, those crafts! Something else I had planned out with the intention of completing and then life happened…..I only ended up making 14 different crafts. However, the ones I made I absolutely loved, and I did repeat a few. I made my first tutu back in June for the Dirty Girl Mud Run and ended up making two more tutus throughout the year, but I didn’t want to count those multiple times. My crafts included items from costumes to dog bones to dinnerware to business cards. My favorite craft of the year was the box of Sunshine I made for Whit this fall. I had a fun time making it for her, and I know that it brought her some cheer, which was the point of the craft. I guess Martha Stewart wins this round…..GOAL NOT MET!

-Buy 31 New Pairs of Shoes: I don’t really have to elaborate on this one. I think we all know I met this goal about two months into the year. I did donate a pair of shoes for every pair I purchased…I’m not a hoarder! My favorite shoe purchase of the year was a no brainer: the bad boys listed below. GOAL MET!

So many memories and personal goals were met this year thanks to these shoes.

So many memories and personal goals were met this year thanks to these shoes.

I know some people thought that trying to complete all of these things was a crazy notion, but I am so glad I did the Big 31. Not only did this force me to think outside of the box and try some new things, but it helped pull me back among the living. As I write up this blog I can’t believe a year has passed since I came up the idea and started planning. I think about where I was in my life a year ago and where I am now, and I can’t believe how much things have changed. All in just 525, 600 minutes.

To the year 2013….you were a real bitch….not only to me, but to my family and friends. I think I speak for everyone when I say you will not be missed.  Our relationship started out rocky, and I was not excited about the 365 days involved with you. However, I was determined to not let you bring me down. Despite your attempts to kick me when I was at my absolute lowest, I somehow managed to show you who was boss and end up on top. I’m closing the door on you with a smile because you did not beat me this year, nor do I hate the trials you let me face throughout the year. After all, I’m ending the year the happiest I have ever been in my entire life. Bring it, 2014! I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

LifeLoveQuotesandSayings.Com

LifeLoveQuotesandSayings.Com

RANT OF THE WEEK: Parking Lot Creeps!!!!

Yay! It’s the holiday season…which means lots of exciting holiday get togethers, delicious food, beautifully wrapped presents, mistletoe…..

and creepy people in parking lots!!!!!!

One of my favorite places decorated for Christmas…. Love Park in Philly!

One of my favorite places decorated for Christmas…. Love Park in Philly!

Before I get into that, let me state that I really don’t have many complaints around Christmas. I love the holiday! I plan ahead so I don’t really have any issues with the mall crowds since I usually have things taken care of before that madness begins. I’m okay with the chaos that occurs if I do have to stop by the mall or any other retail store. I love get togethers, even if they include hanging with strange people. I find humor in the ridiculously written egotistical Christmas Letters bragging about accomplishments and all that jazz. Really, there are only three things that ruffle my feathers at Christmas:

1) The Elf on a Shelf ( I already went off about this last month, but if you missed it you can read it HERE! )

2. Paul McCartney’s “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time”…worst song ever. I literally go insane when it comes on the radio.

3. Parking Lot Creeps. This brings me to this blog entry.

I am aware that shopping around the Christmas is a little intimidating to people and that many wait until the last possible second to shop, nor do I not dispute the fact that parking lots are beyond ridiculous. However, I get super annoyed when I leave somewhere and attract one of these creeps.

For those of you unsure of who I am calling a creep, let me share my definition. A parking lot creep (aka PLC)  is not a scary looking individual that could potentially kidnap me or hide me in a van full of tear stained mattresses. A PLC comes in many forms. It could be a young teenager blasting Justin Beiber from their Dodge Neon. It could be a soccer mom driving a mini van. It could even be a sweet little old lady. How do you know if YOU are a PLC? Easy. Say you decide to go to the mall and in an effort to secure a parking space near an entrance, you decide to drive around slowly to stalk down any shopper that you see exiting the mall and heading to their cars. You then drive even slower following them to wherever their car may be parked with your turn single on to call dibs on said space. It doesn’t really matter where the parking space may be….I’ve parked in Narnia before and had someone stalk me down for the space.

I get extremely annoyed by these kinds of people. For my readers who unfortunately don’t know me in the real world, I should share with you the fact that I am a little bit of an asshole. However, when I choose to be an asshole, it is intentional, and I am very aware of what I am doing. When a PLC decides to creep on me in a parking lot in an attempt to steal my space, my asshole-meter kicks into high gear. I will walk excessively slow to my car, sometimes do some hamstring stretches before entering my vehicle, seat belt my packages, re-apply lipstick, or simply sit in the car while letting the heater fire up while Snapchatting photos of me laughing to my pals. I WILL NOT give in to anyone stalking me down for my space.

Some of you may think that I should be a little nicer since it is the holiday season, but I can assure you I am a kind soul. I just prefer pulling out of my space and letting some unsuspecting patron who just pulled into the parking lot snap it up. I don’t know about anyone else, but I feel like a rock star when I unexpectedly come across a fabulous parking spot on my own. It’s nice to pass a feeling like that on.

To debunk any myths, no, I myself am not a PLC. If I can’t find a close spot on my own, I have no problem revisiting the parking spots out in Narnia and walking a ways to the entrance of wherever I am going. After all, that’s exercise, and I love any form of it.

Parking Lot Creeps. Don’t be one!

If all else fails, I could always park like this.

If all else fails, I could always park like this.

Tagged ,

Take that, Gump!

It’s been awhile since I have blogged….hey, I’ve been busy!  This time of year my social calendar is full of events and holiday functions, making it quite difficult to get anything done unless I pencil it into my calendar. Thank heavens for my iPhone. I would be lost without its calendar function…..seriously.

One thing I have been busy doing: SMASHING GOALS!!!!!

Those of you who are faithful Katetasticans know that I started out 2013 with some lofty goals, of which I have been blogging about throughout the course of the year. These goals, which I titled “The Big 31 of 2013″ included various things I wanted to complete ranging from new recipes to books to shoes.  For me, the start of a new year has never given me the desire to have a resolution…it’s always been about goals. I am a competitive person by nature, but the person I am most competitive with is myself. If I set a goal, I’m doing it, and I won’t stop until I’ve done everything in my power to accomplish it.

Of all of the items that make up my Big 31, the one I was most worried about completing was one of the most important to me: Successfully running 31 races. We all know I love to run, and even though I do it all the time, fitting races into my schedule has proven to be difficult for many reasons. When I first mentioned this was something I was going to do, I remember my dad telling me I was crazy. “There are 52 weeks in the year,” he said, “Do you realize you will be spending 31 of those weeks with a race scheduled?” I told him I did, and that even though it would be insane, I was going to do it.

Throughout the course of the year, I strongly questioned my goal setting with this particular task. I tend to run myself down and get sick easily, and this interfered with my race schedule several times. I wasn’t able to run my first race until March, and then I was sick for about a month the end of August, which is prime race season for me. Several races that I had registered for ended with me not being able to participate, which is always upsetting to me. I remember having a moment of reflection on this the end of September as I prepared to run my leg of the Akron Relay. I hadn’t run for nearly a month and knew there weren’t many weekends remaining until the end of the year, and I knew I wanted to avoid as many winter races as I possibly could. I just didn’t know if I would be able to fit them all into my schedule based on race availability and my life.

Today I did it. I ran my 31st race of the year!!!!

Here are the races that helped me get to #31!

Santa Hustle 5K: Coldest Run of my life. Ecstatic it got me to 31!

Santa Hustle 5K: Coldest Run of my life. Ecstatic it got me to 31!

As I reflect back on this past year and these photos, I can’t help but get a little bit emotional. I can’t believe a year has gone by, nor can I believe how much fun I had running all 31 races. I am so thankful I took photos of every single race (well, all but one. Gary and I ran the Steeplechase together, but we didn’t get a team photo)….each race brings back a different memory that makes me smile with jubilation or shudder in disgust. As always, I’ve learned an awful lot this year during my races……………these lessons include:

1. I wouldn’t be where I am with my running if it wasn’t for my decision to join Summit Athletic Running Club last January. I had been scared to join a club, but I cannot imagine not having my running club friends in my life. As evident in many of my photos, my friends Sharon, Andrea, Sara, Steve, and Gary were my running partners throughout many of the races. It is hard to believe that I didn’t know them this time last year, but I am so thankful they are in my life now. It’s pretty sweet to be a SARC Psycho.

2. Friendship can get you through any difficult situation, races included. I was excited when Whitney and I decided to run the Rock N Roll Half Marathon in Nashville for many reasons. The day of the race we woke up to a downpour that I cannot even begin to describe…and I know we both did not want to do it deep down. Yet, we lined up at the start, waiting nearly 40 minutes to cross the start line (yes, there were that many runners), and somehow managed to make it through the 13.1 mile storm in garbage bags. Did it absolutely suck running in such weird makeshift outfits in blinding rain? Yes. Was it an amazing feeling to cross the finish line with one of your best friends? A million times YES. I don’t care how much it sucked…we did it together because friends don’t give up on each other and help get one another through anything life throws at them.

3. I run best when it is really cold outside or there is some form of a food prize. This is especially true for pancakes.

4. It’s a really smart idea to look at a course map prior to starting the actual race.Mayor Alai’s 5k comes to mind. The amount of swearing that occurred when I turned the first corner of the course and saw a mile long hill from hell was off the charts. Same goes for Wigs for Kids at the Zoo…..and here I thought that course was actually flat. YEAH RIGHT!

5. You don’t need to shop for running clothes if you run a bunch of races. Running 31 races means I was gifted 31 sweet pieces of running swag. The perks of being a runner. My tshirt and tech shirt collections thank you.

6. Don’t listen to the haters, big sunglasses help. A LOT! Many people make fun of me because I wear huge Jackie O inspired sunglasses for most races. Do you think I do it to be cute? Here’s a shocker….I don’t. I wear them because they protect my eyes from the elements. They also allow me to mean mug people without being caught.

7. Non-runners need to learn proper race etiquette. I get that not everyone runs like I do, trust me, I get it. But if you choose to run/walk in a race, please keep a few things in mind: It is frowned upon to form a barrier of walkers blocking the path for runners. You may not want to be competitive, but others do….get out of the way! This also applies to people run/walking with a jogger stroller or a dog. Just move over to the side. Thanks in advance.

8. Don’t underestimate the power of Under Armour. All I can say is…..worth every damn penny. Is $35 too much to spend on gloves? No, not when you are a runner outside in the cold. Best money I have ever spent.

9. You don’t need a team of people around you to run, but they sure make it a better experience. I can’t begin to share the laughs, inside jokes, or complaints that my running pals and I have had over the past year. Yes, running is an individual sport, but having people there that are pushing you to do better….that is what I love. I was struggling during the Home Run for the Homeless 4 Miler because my toes were frozen, and even though he had finished ahead of me, Steve looped back and ran the last 3/4 mile with me to help me get through it. Moments like that remind me I am not an individual out there on the roads.

10. You CAN run with a donut on your head. I know because I did it, and I looked pretty sweet doing it as well.

I could go on and on and on, but the biggest lesson I learned this year is to never, ever doubt myself. I know I am a machine. I know I am hard on myself sometimes, but deep down I can do anything if I stay focused. I doubted myself this year many times, but I managed to do it, and I am so proud of myself.  More importantly, this year gave me the courage to do something I never thought I could do….I signed up for a full marathon this coming May.

For those of you who have supported me….from the encouraging text messages to cheering me on in the blistery cold to running alongside me….thank you from the bottom of my heart. I could never have done this without you.

Oh, and the year is not over yet….I still have two more races I will be doing…bringing my year end total to 33…my lucky number. Coincidence? I think not.

Wane…..What?????

I love love LOVE the holiday season for so many reasons, but if you are like me, there is one thing you absolutely hate about it: buying gifts for those super difficult people who have everything/don’t need anything/won’t give you ideas. Usually I only have one or two people who I find to be the problem children in the present search, however, this year that isn’t the case. If you are in my family and reading this….. WHY ARE YOU SO DIFFICULT THIS YEAR??????!!!!!! I’d pull my hair out if I didn’t like it so much.

Fortunately a few weeks back I took a little trip down to Columbus for a race and to visit with my brother. While down there his girlfriend, Chelcey, and I started to discuss Christmas. During our discussion she enlightened me to a lovely little app for the iPhone entitled WANELO. Wane….what?

Free in the App Store!

Free in the App Store!

 

I was surprised I hadn’t heard about it yet since I spend a ridiculous amount of time on my phone and think I kind of know what’s going on with the newest applications. Wanelo, as Chelcey described, was like Pinterest to an extent. You gave go on various vendor sites and pin items you want to buy or that you want as gifts. Your friends and family members can all follow you, see what items you want, and purchase for you! This quite possibly may be the best invention ever in the history of life! You’re welcome!

This is also a friendly reminder to all of my family and friends to sign up for your board and start pinning today…I still need ideas for some of you!!! And for those of you who find me difficult, you can follow me on Wanelo….queenkatiemae (as if you didn’t know). Here’s some items I have on my wish list:

Screen Shot 2013-12-01 at 2.33.50 PM

 

 

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