Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tuesday Ten

1.  I'm about 99 % better from that awful cold. Now Mr. Helen has it so I hope there's no relapse for me.

2.  Sometimes after dinner I like to have just a bit of something sweet.  I usually keep Dove Dark Chocolate bites on hand and have a couple but they've been so overpriced lately I've refused to buy them.  I was at my warehouse store the other day and found these Mad Minis, which are ice cream sandwiches about the size of an Oreo cookie.  They are 60 calories and delicious!  A nice little treat.

3. On our way to DC we went via Maryland on Friday and spent the night with my friend Miss T. and her family.  People reading this will enjoy the fact that she is among my first internet friends, as we met through Sparkpeople 9 years ago.  We were talking about how in those years we've had weddings and babies and various other life and death events in our small group that has stayed in touch - and there is no way that is less real than other friendships.

She was a newlywed living in an apartment back then, and now has a beautiful home and 3 of the cutest kids you'll ever meet - ages 3 1/2, 5, and 6! The kids just love Mr. Helen and have called him pop-pop ever since they could talk. If you ever want to be highly entertained, go watch soccer games with little kids.  Their coaches pretty much stay on the field with them and keep putting in the right spot, they stop for snack time, some of them do great, some of them have meltdowns and leave the field, it's hilarious.At the end of the match, all the parent line up and make a tunnel for the kids to run through and high five each other.  It was a fun way to fill some time before we headed to DC to the race expo.

4. You know what's interesting?  Now that my ankle is not swelling all the time, it actually hurts a little depending on how I turn it.  It's like all that swelling was cushioning it. I feel like I need to be extra careful, which is just odd since I hadn't felt that way at all.

5.  Michelle Obama for Queen.  Between her class and her badassness, I'm just going to miss her so much.  I know it's selfish of me but hope she doesn't disappear into private life. Most everyone probably saw her gorgeous State Dinner dress, but have you seen the video of her workout routine?

6.  We enjoyed our visit to the new Smithsonian African American museum immensely... BUT let me just say we feel like we glossed over the thing and there were parts we never even got to.  Our passes allowed us to enter at 2:00 and we got kicked out at 5:30 when it closed.  I'd like to go back in a couple years when the fuss has died down and go through it thoroughly.  If they're still doing timed entry I will definitely pick a morning time. Plus I never even got to the gift shop because there was a line for that too!

7.  My dishes are Corelle dishes that I've had for 30+ years I'd say.  As is with all things, over the years a few have broken and/or gone missing and it had gotten to the point where we would run out of plates before the dishwasher was filled up.  The pattern is called "Lace Bouquet" and is a discontinued pattern, which is disappointing because I really do love my dishes.

I've been searching on EBay and other sites for a couple years trying to find replacement pieces but each time they were listed, I wouldn't buy them because people were asking $10-$20 per plate, plus shipping.  I had given up and have been looking at new dishes but hadn't found anything I liked.  Then I got notified by EBay that there was a new listing.  I can't even describe my excitement when I found it was a brand new set for 4 and was priced at only $32, including shipping!  You know I bought it right away.

8. After two unintended weeks mostly off of exercise, I'm inching my way back in.  Now that I don't have to really concentrate on only running, I'm putting body weight exercises back in (we won't discuss the soreness I'm feeling only a couple days in) and I'm running more for time than mileage. It's a nice change to think about running for 1/2 hour or 45 minutes rather than thinking I've "got to" run ___ miles to keep up with my training.  I only really trained for 10 weeks and was getting tired of it by the end - I just don't understand how folks can stay in training nearly year round for race after race.  I'd rather just run because I love it.

9. Though we've got some chilly weather headed our way this week, it really has been an extraordinarily mild fall.  When we had the bit of heat up two weeks ago, my knockout rose shot out some blooms.  I don't ever remember it blooming this late!

10. As our first real taste of cold weather and an actually freeze hit and knock out my knock out rose, this is my plan while I wait for summer to come back around:

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Perfect Storm

Sandra Boynton says it better than I ever could.  Seriously, I cannot believe how sick I am.  I really think it's a "just" a cold, but it has hit me hard.

So, I ran the Army 10 miler on Sunday the 9th.  Monday the 10th we walked all over DC sightseeing. Tuesday we were in the car for 7 hours driving home and during that drive I kept saying my throat felt funny, but I also felt some seasonal allergies had flared up while we were in DC so I wasn't giving it too much credence.  Wednesday, I did my first short run after the race and just felt "off" the whole time.  By Wednesday night my throat was so sore I was beginning to wonder if I actually had strep but I know to wait these things out.  Thursday I went back to work and the first words out of my bosses mouth were "Are you feeling OK, you sound funny." I took a walk after work, just because my body was craving movement. By Friday, the sore throat was dissipating but I still didn't feel well.

Saturday morning, I woke up feeling really lousy and to the news that two people I love had passed away.  My favorite brother-in-law's father died and also my longtime running partner.  When I got that news, even though I wasn't feeling great, I just wanted to run to honor Pete, and so I did.

When I got home from that run, I was coughing like crazy and things went downhill from there.  I spent the entire weekend feeling lousy both physically and emotionally.

On Monday, I got up and made myself go to work.  Honestly I hate calling in on Mondays or Fridays - people tend to snark that you're trying to lengthen your weekend and even though I never abuse sick days, I really didn't even want someone to joke with me about it.  I dragged myself through the day, and then I went to calling hours for Pete. I needed to formally say good-bye.

But last night, I never slept as I spent the whole night coughing and so today, I called in and I'm making myself rest.

Last weekend when I told Mr. Helen I was in a perfect storm to get sick, little did I know.  I can't even recall the last time I was this sick.  It sucks because we are in the midst of record breaking temperatures and it's like summer has come back to visit - and though my brain is telling me to get out and run, I just feel lousy.

I'm pretty sure I didn't even take this much time to recover from a full marathon although I don't remember getting this sick either. You know I'm hoping this resolves itself soon so I can get back to a regular routine before my left brain convinces me I've lost all ability to run or eat healthy lol!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Running DC: The Army Ten Miler Expo and Race Report

FAIR WARNING:  This is a long post.  If you're not a runner it may eventually read like "blah, blah, blah, blah, blah."  But I wanted to document the experience thoroughly.  Enjoy!


On Saturday morning, we drove into DC from Maryland (more on that in next post) and went to the Army Ten Miler race expo which was held at the DC Armory.  This was an excellent spot to hold this expo as there is a lot of parking and a metro stop, since it is located right next to RFK Stadium where the Washington Redskins play football.

We walked from the parking lot to the expo where there were mobs of people waiting to get in due to 100% security check.  Unfortunately, it was raining but we had the foresight to bring umbrellas with us and while cool, it wasn't outright cold.

Once inside, I went straight to packet pickup to get my bib, and my t-shirt, which turned out to be a long-sleeved wicking shirt, that I will enjoy wearing this winter.

I'd forgotten how fun a big race expo can be and had also forgotten that lots of the vendors offer expo-only discounts.  I was thrilled to find the type of Thorlo that I prefer, which have been in short supply for some reason - and they were buy 1-get 1 50% off. As I excitedly grabbed two pair, my sweet husband told me to get two more and consider them an early Christmas gift.  Yay for nice new socks!

Pretending I am leading the race lol!

I also purchased a pair of Running Lites gloves.  These are gloves that have a compartment to slip an LED light into to help light the way when running in the dark.  As I've gotten older, I just don't see as well in the dark so I'm looking forward to trying them out.

We came upon the Honey Stinger booth, which was offering free samples.  I have been wanting to taste their products and was happy to find they make an organic chew, so I bought a package of the grapefruit flavor to try.  Hopefully if I am able to use them without stomach issues, I'll be able to find them around here.

The Loot

The gloves - can't wait to try them

Brooks was running a huge booth where you could have gait analysis done, but the line was so long I didn't do it as I didn't want my family to have to wait for me.

Another great thing about the expo was that they had Army soldiers stationed throughout showcasing their fields of expertise.  I talked for a while with a medic and got to see his supplies, etc. Mr. Helen was fascinated with the guns and grenades and so on.

Our favorite non-retail booth was the one with the Army Olympic athletes.  I got to meet USA's 5000 meter silver medalist, Paul Chielmo - and I got a photo, plus he signed the back of my bib.  As he won the 10-miler last year with a time of 48:19 (yep, ten miles in under an hour), I was hoping that signature would speed up my legs.

Mr. Helen took this shot of Little Helen & her hubby taking photos of me

After a couple of hours I could tell my non-runners were starting to feel a bit dazed and we needed to check into our hotel, so we left and the wait for the race began.

When I was packing for the trip, the initial forecast for Sunday was 66 and sunny.  Then Matthew and its outer bands came along and it changed to overcast with sun breaking through later in the day. When we went to bed Saturday evening, it was still pouring rain but was supposed to stop.  You can imagine my dismay when I got up and it was still raining and only 48 degrees, with wind gusts from 20-40 mph. I found an online forecast (Mr. Helen was still sleeping and I was trying not to wake him up) and saw that the rain was supposed to stop by 9:00 and be sunny and warmer by noon.  But I had to figure out how to stay warm in my wave corral while waiting.  Then I remembered that I had a throw-away style rain poncho in the emergency kit in my car, and that thing saved me!

While I was waiting, and drinking coffee and water hydrating, I ate a package of Belvita breakfast biscuits.  Normally I wouldn't even eat, but also normally I would have been running by 6 am and my wave didn't even go until 8:48. I had practiced doing that the week before and knew my stomach could handle them and I could get them down, which is generally a challenge what with pre-race jitters. In the end, they fueled me so well, I never ate the shot bloks I was carrying.

The other thing I did specifically for this race was to buy a Flip Belt.  I don't care to wear a Fuel Belt when racing nor do I like having anything in my hand or attached to my arm and this turned out to be the perfect solution to carry my phone, some shot bloks, my metro card and the hotel room card.  It is made of stretchy material that you step in to then pull up and has slots to slide things in to. (For illustration purposes, this photo shows the water bottle that I did not carry.)

I carried my phone in the zipper pocket and put the other stuff in the slots.  Worked great!

There are so many roads closed around this race in both Arlington and DC that they recommend use of the metro to get there, as there is a stop right at the Pentagon, where the race begins and ends so I chose our hotel in Arlington based on that.  Eventually Mr. Helen woke up and when I told him it was raining, he offered to drive me to the metro station.

I got there and headed for the platform only to find THOUSANDS of other runners!  I started texting photos to my family so they could see how nuts it was. And right then was when I started feeling excited.
All the colored dots in the photo on the right are runners on the escalator

Once getting off the metro, we had to go through security to get to the runners wave corrals, and more importantly, the porta potties!

The Army 10 Miler has 8 waves plus wheelchair and wounded warrior starts.  Runners line-up behind the colored balloon arch that matches their bib color. Runners can move back a wave but not forward to a faster wave.

From the official rules: "Runners moving up a wave are subject to disqualification. All runners must maintain a 15 minute mile pace or better, complete the entire course and finish the race in 2hr and 30 minutes to receive an official race time and be listed in the results."

Here's my corral - purple - one of the latest waves.  I have to say with the wind gusts I felt bad for the people having to hold those balloons. If you look closely you'll see several runners wearing their race shirts - most of us were not prepared for the wind and cold.  I was so thankful for my rain poncho as it really did keep me warm.

The announcer sets up the wave and when your balloons move, you march with it to the starting line and wait for your wave gun to go off.  I wore my poncho right until the last minute then ripped it off and left it on the side of the road with all the other discarded items. Army soldiers actually come through after the race and pick up clothing items which are then donated to homeless shelters.

Even though I was in a "slow" wave, we actually got the thrill of seeing the winner run past us to the finish line.  Actually it was a pack of four Army elite runners and the winning time was 48:20. I can't even imagine!

The race runs down Route 110 past Arlington Cemetery then loops over the Arlington Memorial Bridge into Washington, DC where you run miles 3-7 then back into Arlington over the Arland D. Williams Memorial Bridge for miles 8-10. You get to run along the National Mall and by some of the monuments.  It's not very hilly but does have some inclines.  They have water and Gatorade every 2 miles, and there are several Army bands that play at various places along the course.  In a race this size, (24,000+ this year), you are never alone, not even if you're slow as molasses. This has its pros and cons as I was reminded of as I ran through the course.

My personal goal was to try to maintain between 12:30-13:00 per mile.  I wanted to go out very slowly, so when my Garmin beeped my first mile and it was 13:03, I was pretty happy.  Then I got to mile 2 and it was 12:30 and my thought was, that was too fast!  Soon, I settled in to the run and wasn't paying attention to my Garmin because, unfortunately, I guess my wave had a lot of folks who had signed up to walk.  I have no problem with walkers, or run-walkers, I just wish they would move over to the side of the road instead of just suddenly stopping.  Basically what this means is that if one wants to run, you are expending a lot of energy trying to get away from walkers who are blocking your way.  By the time I got to the 10k split I could see I was losing pace.  Instead of letting myself get discouraged I started chanting my running mantra (in my head) "JUST KEEP RUNNING!"

Around mile 7, my right foot started hurting badly.  Over the summer while training, I developed a Morton's neuroma in that foot.  (Lucky me I already have one in my left foot.) I had been considering getting a cortisone shot before the race and just didn't get around to it.  Also from mile 7-8 we were going over the second bridge and the wind, which had been relentless was now gusting so hard people's hats were flying off their heads.  I was hurting, tired, and starting to feel discouraged as I had to start doing some walking to try to get that foot nerve to stop stabbing me.  Throughout the race I had been seeing people stopping at the mile markers to take selfies so I started visualizing myself at Mile 9 taking a selfie and texting it to my family so they would know I was almost done.  Honestly I think that is what got me through mile 8-9 as I worked out my foot issue.

By the time I got there, I knew I would beat the cutoff pace, so I did what I'd visualized for a solid two miles:

See that "never quit" on that sign?  That became my mantra for the last mile and through to the finish line.

This race has one of the best organized finish lines of all the races I've participated in.  Once you cross, there are volunteers who immediately hand you a full bottle of water.  Then you walk through an area where you are handed your finisher's medal.

Lastly they put you through the food tents.  Each runner received a sealed box of snacks and a bag with two bananas.  The box had nuts, a granola bar, a cup of fruit, a package of pretzels, and a chocolate chip cookie.  I had so much appreciation for the way this was done because I have done races where, as a slower runner, the only thing left for food when I got to the finish was an orange.

Once through all that, you can go to the family meet up area or if you are with a special group, they have their own tent area. From there, you can choose to take a shuttle or walk about 15 minutes back to the start area where the metro is. (We walked).

My family met me and I stopped to take a photo to commemorate my first organized race in 6 years.

Final thoughts on my race:

This was a good race and one I'd be willing to do again, hoping that I could be in a faster wave maybe.

I wore my Garmin and started it when I crossed the starting mats.  When it reached 10 miles, I shut it off but was nowhere near the finish mat.  To me, this showed how much jogging around walkers I had to do, as races are usually measured on tangents.  In fact, my Garmin time showed 2:12:39 and my official time was 2:15:59.  I sort of wish I'd left it on to see just how much further 'I' actually ran.

The wind gusts really wore me down, particularly towards the end of the race.  I just wanted it to stop for a minute.

It's hard to race away from home as you're completely off your normal schedule of eating, drinking, and sleeping. I did fine with the eating, but felt dehydrated for most of this trip, even though I had taken a 24 pack of water bottles with us.  Plus we spent almost all of Saturday in the pouring rain and I told Mr. Helen I was in a perfect storm to get sick since the immune system weakens during hard training.  Not to mention my fall which I think shocked my body a bit. I was correct, as I've been nursing a very sore throat and what seems to be turning into a head cold since Tuesday.

Fall injuries: my ankle held up well but my shoulder started aching around mile 8.  Since I was walking a lot to fix my foot, I tried to relax and whirl my arms around but it didn't help much. I'm probably going to need to give up and go to a PT to fix it.

I normally never wear a hat when running in these temps but I needed it at first because of the rain. I had left my wicking hat at home so this was an ordinary cap.  It got really hot, but I had nowhere to put it and I didn't want to throw it away, so I sweated and suffered. Next race I will make sure to have both a throwaway shirt and a throwaway hat.

I found out I still get annoyed with everything once I'm hurting or tired. (Remember I did all my long runs alone.)  Between miles 7-9, I actually let a group go past me because I couldn't stand the sound of the guy's voice who was giving history lessons about Washington DC to the people he was running with.  I was also extremely annoyed with a guy who kept running backwards and making jokes with spectators.  He was obviously a faster runner who was helping some people about my pace, but I truly wanted to strangle him.  This was when I wished for headphones, which are banned on this course.

All in all, I'm really proud of myself for digging in and doing this.  I may not be the runner I once was, but I'm still a runner who can do an organized race.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Running DC: Training for the Army Ten Miler

This past spring, shortly after I set up my $5 bet with Mr. Helen and was having some weight loss, and around the time I was thinking I wanted to increase my running mileage, the thought popped into my head that the only race I'd never run, that I said I wanted to back when I was racing all the time, was the Army Ten Miler. It was my unfulfilled bucket list race.

Having done two marathons in Washington, D.C., I had an idea of what the race course might be like. I also knew that October in DC is generally pretty good weather - neither hot or cold, or snowy or wet.

As an added bonus, I have a friend who lives right outside of DC and of course, my daughter and son-in-law are in DC so there would be support and camaraderie if Mr. Helen couldn't get the time off.

All of this meaning that with those nearly prime conditions, if I was ever going to try to race again, now was the time.

So, when the race opened up, I signed up for it with the proviso that if anything at all happened and I ultimately could not, or did not, want to run I didn't have to.  I also knew I'd have the out of bib transfer which this race allows for a few weeks in August - i.e., I could transfer my race entry to someone who wanted to run but was unable to get in. So, I kept the fact that I was planning on running it a secret.  The only people in the whole world who knew my plans were Mr. Helen and Little Helen - and they were sworn to secrecy. Ultimately, I think all of this helped free me of a lot of agony over "race performance" and just allowed me to plan to run it.

While I have been running consistently for all my non-racing years, I knew I should approach it a bit more strategically, so I put together a ten week training plan and got to work.

The first hard thing was remembering that training for a fall race in summer heat and humidity is freaking hard - and we had an extra warm, extra humid summer this year. While I love that kind of weather for the beach, it's tough for running. And when you are facing a long run in those conditions, it sure is easy to want to give up, especially when you're running alone - no group, no friends.  The only person I had to be accountable to was me.

The next hard thing was my weight loss stalled at the end of June, and suddenly I knew I wouldn't be anywhere near where I thought I'd be physically by the time the race rolled around.  I'd be lying if I didn't admit that really messed with me mentally.  It's hard to explain but I just know from experience, the lighter I am, the faster I'll run, and I was facing the reality that I probably wouldn't run this race at the pace I'd originally thought. When you haven't raced in many years and therefore are not in racing shape, every little advantage counts.

But I managed these things and just kept running, always giving myself permission to not participate in the race if the time came and I was truly unhappy. Even with getting up early to try to get my longer runs down before the sun was beating down, I was feeling pretty good about my running and had eased into acceptance of my pace.

August came and went and so did my chance for a bib transfer so now I was looking at either running, or simply giving up the $70 race fee and not running.  But I'd also committed to visiting with my friend and my kid so I knew at the very least I was going to have a very nice trip to DC.

What is that saying about the best laid plans of mice and men?  I think it should be the best laid plans of runners and racing....

On September 24, exactly 2 weeks and 1 day before the race, I rolled my ankle on a chestnut hidden under a leaf and body surfed a sidewalk.  My ankle and shoulder took the brunt of the fall and were bruised and swollen.  The untold story here is that when I got home, I cried for about an hour because I just made up my mind that it was a sign I shouldn't do the race, never mind if I could do the race as I had no idea how bad it was - bad enough that I couldn't even run?

I rested for a few days then walked, then ran, and by the following weekend was able to run 10 miles with minimal swelling so I knew then that I could at least get through the race.  At this point my mindset had changed from maybe I shouldn't even do it to DAMN IT, I did all this training all summer, and I deserve to take part in that race!

Then Hurricane Matthew formed and the race began sending us alerts that they would update us on Friday as to whether or not the race was even going to happen - rain yes, hurricane no.  Perfect.

So, I actually left my house Friday morning to drive to DC not evening knowing if I would be running or not.  Honestly, at that point, I figured it was in the hands of Someone Bigger Than Me.

Finally Friday late morning they announced the race would be held and I decided that was a sign that I should be running.  And so, I did.

Next post: The Race Report from Expo to Finish Line.

Monday, October 3, 2016

And the Next Thing You Know, It's been a Month

I can't say for sure why I haven't been blogging regularly but I have some guesses.  First and foremost, most of the folks who actually read and interact with this blog have become friends with me on other social media, so unless I just want to write something down, I really have no need to blog anymore.  I mean, how many times do people want to see the same pictures?

The other thing is that September is always a really hard month for me.  As someone who loves summer and everything about it, we are suddenly plunged into cooler temperatures, and more than that, DARKNESS.  We lose daylight so rapidly in September that it's discouraging.  Not to mention that all my patio flowers die and well, it makes me sad to have to dismantle everything.

Believe me, I think about blogging all the time and often write them in my head while I'm out running... and then I just don't blog. So now that I am, I'll note a few things.

We always seem to have one cold snap in September and it happened on the 16th-17th.  Thankfully when the sun came out, it warmed up but honestly, it is depressing to get up and see this.  Besides wanting to run in daylight on the weekends, temperatures like this are another reason to wait for sunrise:

As summer wasn't even officially over yet, you can imagine I was less than thrilled.
My thoughts exactly, Calvin.

Speaking of running, that has been going well.  We are currently in the midst of a drought, which is not good for plants, but means that I have only been on my new treadmill two times in the past four or five months.  It has been nice to be able to run outside all the time.  I've been enjoying my longer runs on the weekend and nearly every week have taken photos of pretty flowers that I see.  I was delighted to see these flowers a couple weeks ago as things are dying off now.

That particular run, which started so well, ended badly.  I rolled my ankle on a chestnut that was hidden under a leaf and ended up body surfing the sidewalk.  I was exactly 7.75 miles into my run at the time.  I know this because the first thing I did when I sat up was to look at my Garmin and make sure it didn't break.  Mr. Helen said that was the dumbest thing he'd ever heard but I know fellow runners understand!  I had 1.25 miles to get home so I walked/jogged to get there.

Besides being covered with dirt, humiliated from publicly falling, some road rash, a sore shoulder/left side for a few days, and what turned out to be a slightly sprained ankle, I was fine. Thankfully it wasn't more serious.

I've been wearing a compression sleeve to control the swelling and I actually did have my doctor take a look at it when I went for a followup on something else.  He said I'd diagnosed correctly: slight sprain with some bruising.

I took a couple days off running, then walked a couple miles, then walk/jogged, then by last Saturday I was outright running again.  I finally made my 10-mile distance!  Sadly, I ended up doing it on the treadmill because it was cool and raining.  But at least I know I've built my endurance back up and look forward to running that 10 miles outside, very soon.

My weight loss has pretty much been stalled all summer.  I'm not sure why, but if it's thyroid related I'll know shortly as my doctor is having me do the bloodwork for that.  It has been super frustrating - to the point where I suspended my $5 bet with Mr. Helen.  I just needed a break because my mind was starting to freak out and I was wanting to do crazy things like fast, or the cabbage soup diet, or other dumb things.  So, I told him I wanted a break until mid October (more on that in a minute).

After my fall I went out shopping and consoled myself with a couple new outfits.  It ended up soothing me in more ways than one, because even though I've been frustrated with my weight loss plateau, I am down one full size from what I was wearing last fall/winter.  Here I am in one of the outfits (you can see the compression sleeve here too).

Still not where I want to be, but new clothes that fit well can make you feel better!

I guess the other news is that I got a new car.  I'd been thinking about it for some time because my old car had pretty decent trade-in/resale value.  I really wanted to get into something with all wheel drive due to having to drive in crappy weather.  I only work about 20 minutes away from where I live but it's all hills in between and winter driving has been stressful.  Once we got Mr. Helen's truck a few years ago, I would drive that but then he had the car.  Even though I wasn't looking forward to a car payment, now was the time as I figure I've got somewhere between 6-12 more years of full-time work ahead of me (barring a lottery win).

I knew exactly what I wanted and researched it to death so it really was just a matter of test driving and getting the best price.  It all worked out and now I own Titanium.  I love her!

She'll get her first long drive shortly we are going to DC to visit with Little Helen and son-in-law. We'll celebrate their birthdays while we are there and because Little Helen is a charter member, we got some of the coveted passes for the newest Smithsonian: The National Museum of African American History and Culture.  I'm really looking forward to that, as well as the other free sights and museums there.  I'm sure it won't be enough time, but it will be fun!  The only part of that trip I'm dreading is the drive.  It is just a very busy part of the US to drive from where we live to there and you really can't determine the time it will take simply by calculating miles.  I told Mr. Helen we'll just get in the car and when we get there, we get there.

Once we are back from that trip, I am going to try to reactivate my eat a little less but don't diet mindset - along with the $5 bet.  Hopefully my head will be in a better place.  I guess the one good thing is that even though I haven't been losing, I haven't gained either so I'm trying to focus on that.