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Archive for November, 2011

Black Friday used to be a noble tradition.

You would scour the circulars leading up to Thanksgiving so you had a game plan. Play the odds and plan a route. Forget Risk (which I never played); Black Friday could be its very own strategic board game.

Getting out the door by 4am was a challenge. You had to really want it. Because, sure, the easy option would be to sleep off Thanksgiving dinner, but if you wanted to be a hero, you got your butt up early and were back in time for brunch.

(And maybe you left your bags in the car so your dad wouldn’t see exactly how much money you’d actually saved by buying so much on sale.)

Regardless, these were the rules of engagement.

And now the rules have changed.

It’s like a whole new world out there. I thought it was crazy two years ago, when stores opened at midnight. Only a couple hours to digest all that turkey? And what about all the wine that’s still in my system? Now we need to plan a DD for Black Friday?

I didn’t love it, but I did it.

This year? I refuse to participate.

Black Friday now officially starts on Thursday – on Thanksgiving, with several stores opening at 10pm. It’s too much.

There’s a piece in the LA Times that quotes a retail industry analyst: “Retailers recognize the importance of being convenient, and one of those conveniences is opening earlier so people don’t have to wait in line at 4 in the morning in the cold.

Here’s some advice: don’t be a baby. And bring some gloves.

The waiting, the freezing, the pushing, the getting separated from your mother and lost in Circuit City surrounded by crazy people just so you can get your brother a flash drive that he never uses – that’s all part of the Black Friday charm. It’s part of the challenge, part of the thrill.

And so, in protest (that I’m so sure will be noticed), I’ll sit this one out. It was a good run. Black Friday has been good to me. And it’s been a hell of a bonding time with Mama.

But I refuse to play by these new rules.

Thanks a lot, Wal-Mart.*

*And everyone else who changed the game.

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Leading up to Sunday, I told myself that Philly should be a fun marathon. No pressure. I’d already PR’ed twice, and I really just wanted to enjoy the run. That was my intention.

Photo Credit: Mama

But then, around miles 8 through 10, I realized that I was keeping a fairly steady average pace of just under 10:00. And I started wondering if I could keep that up for the entire race.

Photo Credit: Mama

The short answer is no. I couldn’t. I kept it up until about miles 20 to 21, and then I hit the wall. The weather was great; the course was beautiful (albeit, hilly); the spectators were loud; and the signs were creative. But my body knew that it was almost done for the year and it decided that it wanted to be done NOW.

So I pushed. I talked to myself. I sang out loud a little bit. I promised my body that we’d be done in just a few more songs.

Around mile 24, I wanted to cry, because every inch of my body was in pain, but I couldn’t. There was simply no moisture left.

Around mile 25, I turned off my music and let myself be propelled by the cheering.

And as I crossed the finish line, I acknowledged that the pushing was worth it, as I saw my third PR in three attempts.

Official time: 4:26:34

Once I’d finished my bottle of water, I did cry. But they were very happy, very exhausted, very proud, and very relieved (that I don’t have to do this again for a long time) tears.

Philly’s tag line was “Best:Time of Your Life.” And it was.

Literally.

Photo Credit: Harry

*Before the race started, BNF saw a guy with a sign that said, “On a scale of 1 to 10, you’re a 13.1.” As the sign guy saw him appreciate it and saw BNF’s marathon bib, he told him, “You’re a 26.2!”

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  • Tonight: we leave for Philly.
  • Tomorrow: we pick up our running packets at the expo.
  • Sunday: I run my third marathon in six weeks and officially qualify for Marathon Maniac status.

I have to admit, my body has surprised me these past couple months. After Chicago, I found myself thinking, how in the hell am I going to do this again in three weeks? But my body rallied. It recovered quicker than I remembered from past marathons, and performed consistently better.

Maybe because I didn’t coddle it quite so much.

I’ve now seen a new city; gotten two new PRs; become a CamelBak convert; and realized that body glide is worth every penny (if I remember to use it).

I am ultimately glad that I pushed my body this year, and that I know what it’s capable of. I’m glad that I did it now, and that there’s no reason for me to do it ever again. (The maniac part, not the the marathon.)

And I’m glad that we’re ending the maniac run in Philly. At home. With friends and family and Wawa to celebrate.

Who says mimosas don’t go well with hoagies?

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There’s always something satisfying about crossing an item off a to-do list. But there’s something especially satisfying when that item is #1.

On Saturday, we went Bang Bang. I’m pretty sure that’s what everyone at the shooting range was calling it. Or maybe it was just me, but that’s neither here nor there.

The short story is that I absolutely loved it.

The longer story starts with the observation that shooting ranges are surprisingly (to me) popular. We ended up waiting nearly two and a half hours for a lane to open up…then spent about an hour shooting once it was our turn. No wonder the line moves so slowly.

Between BNF and me, we shot 150 rounds using a 9mm. For a first-time user, I have to say the 9mm was pretty user friendly. I adjusted to the minor recoil fairly quickly and didn’t even mind when the casings bounced back and hit me in the head.

I realized, though, that this whole “aiming” thing is harder than it seems. For instance, take a look at this photo:

I felt like I was doing it right, but after I’d shot, we pulled the target back and BNF inspected it, then turned to me. “Wow! Almost all your shots landed right at the zombie’s head!

That’s great,” I told him. “But I was aiming for the girl!” (Not because I’m pro-zombie or anything, don’t be ridiculous. I just thought she was presenting a bigger target.)

Regardless, I did manage to get a few good shots off…

A combination of my shots and BNF's

…and I only knocked the target off once!

The blue guy on the ground was ours. Luckily, we had another blue guy to replace him with.

Next time – yes, there will be a next time – I’ll try something new. Maybe something a little bigger, with a little more boom. And maybe I’ll even aim for the zombie, though that doesn’t mean that his victim will come out unscathed.

Bottom line – I think the gun shop employee said it best, after seeing my reaction to initially being handed the weapon:

Congratulations. It looks like you’ve just started an expensive new hobby.”

Indeed.

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Wedding planning has taken a little bit of a backseat in favor of school (boo, priorities), but one of the things that I keep thinking about is what I song I want to dance with my dad to for our father-daughter dance.

At first, I wanted to surprise him with the perfect suggestion, so I did a little snooping via Mama regarding his favorite music. “Good luck, honey, ” she told me. “He mostly listens to Sousa marches.”

Not exactly something you can dance to.

So I went to the source – still trying to be sneaky.

Hi Daddy –

Do you have a favorite song or artist? Or a favorite movie? (And if the answer is yes, what are they?)

*Side note: 1) I thought the movie might have a soundtrack. 2) If I hadn’t added the last part, he might have just said, “yes.” That’s Daddy.

His response:

Sousa marches/The Platters; The Man Who Would Be King.

I had to look up everything except Sousa marches.

And after realizing that The Platters aren’t quite what I’m going for, and The Man Who Would Be King doesn’t exactly have a danceable soundtrack, I finally asked the blunt question.

Do you have any song in particular that you’d like to dance to for the father-daughter dance?

I received a response just a few minutes later:

I will think about it and let you know. I guess “Stars and Stripes Forever” is out of the question, but I need something slower anyway.

I’m sorry to say that yes, Daddy, it is out of the question. I need something slower, too. We both know how (un)graceful I am. Someone’s toes are getting stepped on.

But I do appreciate how consistent you are. And how well Mama knows you.

Maybe I’ll even ask the DJ if he can remix a Sousa march. You never know.

Or maybe not.

*Modern Family

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This morning, bright and early, I registered for classes for my very last semester of grad school.

The current semester will be over in just 5 weeks, and in 5.5 months I’ll be completely finished and able to add “M.A.” after my name. That doesn’t seem so very long in the grand scheme of things.

Of course, that doesn’t account for the final papers, the presentations, or the foreign language exit exam (anyone want to practice speaking French with me?), which I’m sure will make the months feel longer, but there is an end in sight.

I never have to register for classes again!” I told BNF triumphantly this morning (or, at least, as triumphantly as I could muster before I’d had my first diet coke).

Yeah,” he said. “Just wait until you decide to get your PhD.

No way. I don’t even want that.

You say that now – but, that’s just 26-year-old Elizabeth. Who knows what 36 or even 46-year-old Elizabeth will want?

Now, I’m sure that he’s wrong. I’m sure that I’ll remember this feeling of being so close to done, and I won’t want to go back. But, just in case…

Listen up, future-Elizabeths:

You do not want your PhD. You do not want to be a professor or an academic. You don’t want to write a book that some poor future grad students are going to be forced to read. It’s not for you.

And when you think, oh, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to go back to school…just remember how much you love your free weekends.

Plus, think how OLD you’ll feel trying to pull an all-nighter at 46. If you can’t even do it now, there’s not a lot of hope for you 20 years down the road.

Stay sane.

Love,

26-year-old Elizabeth

There. That ought to do it.

Now – is it April yet?

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