The Rest of the Fun

Now that I’ve told you about all our cruise excursions, you’d think I’d be done talking about this vacation. But nope. We had three full days at sea that I haven’t even mentioned. I had two more posts drafted, but I felt like that was a little excessive. So instead I’m going to sum up the main points in one post. One. long. post. See? You don’t have to hear about my vacation any more after this. Unless you want to… (call me!)

1. I bought two books before the cruise in anticipation of reading by the pool for hours on end.


That didn’t happen. I never even went in the pool. I walked by it many times to get to the bar but actual relaxing by it didn’t happen. We spent most of our time eating (so, so much eating) or hanging out at a pool deck table chatting with Linda and Jimmy.

2. OMG. The eating.


That’s our waiter, Anthony, posing with us. He helped us all eat five meals a day. It was ridiculous. Even when we tried to be good, it was impossible because he was hell bent on feeding us. If one of us didn’t order a certain course (like a second appetizer or meal *gasp*), he’d bring out what he thought we might like so we wouldn’t be “lonely” watching everyone else eat.

3. I ate something I said I would never eat. Snails, dude.


I’ve been saying no to trying escargot for 10 years. I cannot deal with little, black, slimy things that look like hot garbage on a plate, but Linda insisted. So I gave in. The verdict: I ordered them every day for the rest of the cruise. Damn those things are good. Where have you been all my life you delicious, butter-drenched delights? If cruise escargot is that good, I can only imagine what non-cruise escargot tastes like. Also, that picture should explain why I’m not going to do a food post.

4.  At the Belly Flop contest, I captured this amazing shot of a man giving birth to a leg.


5. This is Deck 5.


Deck 5 is important for 3 reasons: Irish Pub, 24 hour pizza, and cupcakes.


We spent a lot of time on Deck 5. The cupcakes were not included with the cruise food which did not deter me. I still bought many of them.

6. Linda and I worked out five out of the seven days on the ship since we pretty much stuffed our faces for all seven days. It is unusually hard to eat that much. That it something I never thought I would say. I mean, I wasn’t so hard that I didn’t do it. That would just be ridiculous.


7. Our stateroom was on Deck 2.


That means hubs and I were climbing a ton of stairs daily to get to Deck 11, which had the breakfast and lunch buffets, and Deck 12, which had the pools. By the time we climbed nine flights of stairs, we were panting and sweating. I have never worked so hard to get to a buffet. We did this at least three times a day. All the Crossfit and running do not prepare you for stairs. Stairs are the devil.

8. We went to four shows while we were on the ship. We saw a variety show, a comedy act, an ice skating show, and a dating game type show that was pretty entertaining. I didn’t take any pictures of them, so here’s a picture of Linda and I instead.


9. We spent most nights at the bars. Although, I feel like that goes without saying.


10.  Speaking of bars, hubs, Jimmy, and I all got the Premium Inclusive drink package.

Premium Package ($55 per day): includes house and premium cocktails (up to $10 value), frozen cocktails, beers, premium wine by the glass (up to $12 value), nonalcoholic cocktails, bottled still water, fountain sodas with a souvenir Coca-Cola cup and a 20 percent discount on wine bottle purchases.

Not cheap, but I still thought it would be cheaper than paying as we went. The package equaled about five drinks a day from my online research estimation. I didn’t plan to drink every day, but I’m no lightweight so I thought I could easily average that and make up the difference with bottled water.

Turns out drinks were way cheaper than I expected (and they had happy hour drink specials). So the package is worth it if you can drink eight drinks a day. Drinking eight drinks a day is hard, ya’ll. Of course, we didn’t want to lose money, so it became a challenge to drink as much as we could to get our monies worth. So yeah. Bad idea with the drink package. It would have been way cheaper to pay as we went. Live and learn, I suppose.

11. If you go on a cruise, bring cold medicine just in case. NyQuil was nineteen dollars on the ship. NINETEEN! Dying was cheaper, so I drank orange juice and suffered.


12. I saw Frozen. We all watched it on the big screen at the pool the last night which was a fun way to watch. So now I’ve caught up with the rest of the world.

13.  Our last day on ship, we went to Johnny Rockets.


We needed a break from the buffet and dining room but I think our JR waiter was friends with our regular dining room waiter because he kept bringing food we didn’t order too. We wanted a burger each and chili fries to share. We ended up with chili fries, regular fries, a bowl of ranch dressing, onion rings, four shakes, apple pie, and an extra burger. I ate all that in a bikini and felt extra sexy afterwards. Try that out if you want to feel super sexy too.

Our vacation was so fun. I’m sad it’s over. Although, I may have convinced Linda and Jimmy to join us on next year’s vacation to *fingers crossed* Ireland. My passport is lonely for its first stamp. :-)

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Wandering Around St. Maarten

Our last, and most favorite stop, was in St. Maarten.


St. Maarten is an island divided by two nations: a French side (Saint Martin) and a Dutch side (Sint Maarten). They are so split in two, they don’t even want to spell it the same. We visited the capitol, Phillipsburg, which is on the Dutch side.

Our visit to St. Maarten didn’t really go as planned. We tried really hard to book a snuba tour but there were only two spots left and we needed four. We even tried the wait list with no luck, so we decided to cancel our original tour (to a butterfly farm) and wing it since I really wanted to watch planes land at Maho Beach after hearing about it from my friend, Kate.

Maho Beach is a 30 minute cab ride from the port and right in front of an airport runway. Because the runway is so short, planes have to fly really low over the beach to ensure the wheels hit the runway as soon as possible. That makes plane watching extra interesting, especially when signs like this are posted.


We hung out at the café on the beach all morning sipping Pina Coladas. I was starting to get a cold so I rationalized that those were the only things that felt good on my throat. Vacation logic. Hubs, Jimmy, and Linda ate lunch but I wasn’t hungry so I had more Pina Coladas to help my cold.

A lot of smaller planes land at the airport but the big ones are the most fun to watch, so the bar has a daily flight schedule posted so you know when they are coming in.


After watching planes all morning from the beach café, we decided to get a little closer.


See the plane approaching in the background?

This should be where I explain to you what Jimmy is doing. He decided at the beginning of the trip that he was going to pose like this for as many pictures as possible. He calls this pose “the erection.” So it was a delight when Linda would ask before someone took our picture, “are we going to do “the erection?” Always a crowd-pleaser.

Anyway, standing under those planes as they are passing over is a way different experience than watching from the café. It is freaky and cool. I took video of one of them but the video does nothing to capture the sound level and jet blast of a plane flying that close over you.

If you can’t see that video, you can click here too.

After watching planes all morning, we found a guy selling coconuts (illegally, because he ran when the cops drove by) and bought some.



Well, everyone did but me because I hate coconut water. But it was still cool to watch this guy machete a coconut like no one’s business.

After that we caught a cab downtown for some shopping.


St. Maarten is known for its shopping. There were a ton of cute shops selling all sorts of touristy stuff. It was fun checking them all out. Plus, fun fact about St. Maarten – you can walk around outside with alcohol like in Vegas and New Orleans. Basically my dream.

Downtown was about two miles away from the ship, so we just slowly made our way back stopping in just about every store on the way. I was hungry since I didn’t eat lunch, so I made everyone eat lunch #2 with me. We stopped at this awesome little beach restaurant.



I wanted a cheeseburger in a bad way. So I ordered one because I’m an uncultured American. But I’m telling you, the burger was freakin’ amazing. (Hubs agreed.)  I was a little worried the waitress didn’t ask how I wanted it cooked, but apparently they only cook it one way: delicious.

Hubs, Jimmy, and Linda got this awesome beef plate so I ate that too because I like to eat off of other people’s plates.


After lunch, we did some more shopping. I bought a bathing suit top and hubs bought some coconut rum with actual coconut pieces floating in it. Also, cigarettes were really cheap. (No, I didn’t buy them.) They were $17.99 a carton and $3.00 for a single pack. I think if I lived in the St. Maarten, I’d take up full-time smoking since it’s so cheap.

Oh, another interesting thing is that cigarettes had these giant warning labels all over them that we do not have in America.



I was explaining to the lady at the store that our warnings are very small and she was like, “so that’s why everyone points out those warnings out to each other.”

Anyway, we all loved St. Maarten. Jimmy was already planning his trip back while we were there. We commented on how nice all the locals were when we noticed on the license plates that St. Maarten is called The Friendly Island. They definitely live up to that. I would really recommend visiting if you have the chance.


I can’t get over hub’s face in that picture. He INSISTED on being the goat.


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Jet Skiing and Stingraying in the Bahamas

Now we’re gonna back up to our first port stop in Coco Cay, Bahamas. I’ve been to Coco Cay before and it’s meh if you ask me. It’s Royal Caribbean’s private island and it’s pretty because it’s the Caribbean but it’s small and boring unless you like sitting on a beach chair for 8 hours. So, I was a little bah hum bug about going back. We ended up booking two excursions for this stop and it was a lot of fun and I got to eat my words.

Our first excursion was jet skiing. Or Sea Dooing. I guess those are the same thing.


Holding on for dear life.

Jet skiing has always been on my “too scared to try” list because falling into the water at high speeds and dying (in my scenario, I die) does not sound like a good time. So I made hubs drive and I hung on tight enough that if I was going in, he was going in with me. #thatslove. Once we started jumping waves, I starting dropping expletives. It was fun and scary and besides feeling the need to crap my pants, it was awesome!


We followed our guide to a few spots where we stopped and waited for everyone else in the group to catch up. She’d tell us a few things, probably about the island or the ocean, that I didn’t hear because I was too busy trying to stay alive. Then we’d do it all over again. It was a good time. There was even a 70-something couple with us that hadn’t jet skied in 40 years. That’s the couple I want to be when I’m old. Smile  So overall, I didn’t die, which I like, and I’d do it again.

After the first excursion, we had some time to kill, which we did with many rum and cokes under a shade tree on the beach. We ate lunch after our morning boozing and then met up for our second excursion  – swimming with stingrays. After a briefing on what not to do around stingrays, we took a five minute boat ride over to the stingray area.




We got into this big fenced in area where there were tons of stingrays swimming around our legs.



It was kinda freaky and cool at the same time.

Then we got to feed and hold them which was just…omg.


If anyone wants to style their hair like mine, send me an email and I’ll tell you how. It’s a delicate balance of wind, water, and not looking in a mirror.


Those things weigh 100 lbs and they are all slippery and weird and interesting. They are all like, sure, hold me, it’s cool.


There were all sorts of other things to see while we were there like sea cucumbers (so gross), starfish, and sea urchins, which suck on your hand while you’re holding them. *shudder*


I did not hold that thing for long.


sea cucumber



After about an hour, we headed back. We wanted to see the pictures the guides took of us but we only had about 20 minutes left to catch the last tender back to the ship, so we skipped it. Boo.

We all loved both excursions and of course all the rum, so my second trip to Coco Cay was much better than the first.

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Snorkeling in the Virgin Islands

I’m going to talk about this cruise for a bit because it was awesome and there’s a lot to talk about. So get ready for my vacation shenanigans. I might even be able to talk about it in less posts than this girl talked about her Cuba vacation, but I doubt it.

Anyway, like I mentioned before, hubs and I went on a 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise with our friends, Linda and Jimmy. The cruise had port stops in Coco Cay, Bahamas, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and St. Maarten (in that order). I was a little apprehensive about going on a 7-night cruise. I’ve been on two cruises previous to this – both only three nighters – and both times I was bored half of the time and ready to GTFO by day three.

bored to death

Well, I had nothing to worry about. I had an awesome time and I was never bored. I wasn’t too excited about our stops at first. I wanted to do the Western Caribbean cruise but Linda and Jimmy had already done that one last year which kinda bummed me out. But, the fact that I LOVE vacationing with friends won me over so I got over my snobby Eastern Caribbean ways and decided to go anyway.

If you’ve been reading this blog since the beginning of time (or 3 years, whichever), you might remember that Linda was our personal trainer for several years (that’s how we met). This is the second time we’ve been on vacation with her and her husband. The first time was a Carolinas road trip about four years ago, so we already knew we could spend a lot of time with them and not want to shiv them in the kidneys. We also knew they liked to have fun.


See? Fun!

Anyway, our first stop was in Coco Cay, but since I’m waiting to get few pictures from Linda, I’ll move on to stop #2 – St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

Lots of ships ported at St. Thomas.

Can’t take him anywhere.

Originally, we had planned a snuba excursion in St. Thomas. Snuba is apparently a thing and I had never heard of it until we got on the ship. It’s not quite snorkeling and it’s not quite scuba diving. When you snuba, you explore 20 feet below water and the oxygen tank floats above you. All four of us were more psyched for snuba than any of the other excursions we had booked. So of course it was cancelled because the ship was an hour and a half late into port because of heavy wind.

We booked another excursion, our distant second choice of snorkeling. We picked a tour with Cool Boats USVI that went to Turtle Bay. We sailed there on an actual ghost ship called Blackbeard’s Revenge. The ship sunk in the 80’s and then was resurrected six weeks later and refurbished. It looked like a bad ass pirate ship.

There’s nothing like the feeling of sailing on a ship that once sunk.

The trip started out pretty well other than the fact that the water was super choppy and there were at least two people barfing into buckets and two others that didn’t look so hot. Those people were not us, by the way. Other than that, it was a good 30-minute sail.

I can’t say enough good things about the tour guides, Shy and Amelia, and Capt. Jim. They were amazing and funny and told stories like they haven’t told them 1000 times before. They did things like scale the boat to open the sails while the boat was in motion.

See Shy up there? You could not pay me to do that. He didn’t even use the ladder. He climbed up by one using one of those thin ropes. Crazy mofo.

We got to Turtle Bay and I was happy the boat had finally stopped. I was starting to feel a little sea sick even though I was sitting in the middle of the boat, which moves the least. We all jumped off the boat and started our snorkel.

The snorkeling selfie.

The water was beautiful but it was so congested with people that I couldn’t swim without hitting someone with my flipper or someone else’s flipper hitting me.

See what I mean?

I bought a GoPro camera right before the trip and I’m an absolute idiot using it. I thought I was taking pictures when I was actually taking video for half a day. Then I had it set on 10 pictures per second for another part of the day and ended up with tons of the same picture. The jury is still out on that camera.

Ok, so back to snorkeling. Besides being congested, there wasn’t much to see except a lot of flat sea floor and a fairly lame coral reef.

A few others saw some turtles and a stingray but I wouldn’t have been able to get there to see them unless I started taking down little children, which normally I would do, just not with that many witnesses. So I saw nothing unless you count the shadow of a turtle in the distance, three fish, and then a turtle once I got back on the boat that mocked me with its frocklicking.

So basically, the snorkel portion of the trip was a bust and I didn’t use much of the free snorkel time after we went on the “tour” where Amelia told us about parts of the reef.

We got back on the ship and our guides started serving us many of these fruity rum drinks called Painkillers (for FREE) and that significantly improved our moods. I was looking the other direction at one point, holding my drink, and felt Capt. Jim filling up my cup. Man after my own heart right there.

Also, our guide Shy memorized all FIFTY people’s names on the boat. He went around, asked everyone their name individually, and did some weird pneumonic thing in his mind for a few seconds each time. Then, after he asked everyone their names, was able to call everyone out in order. He even knew our names when we swapped positions on the boat and were coming out of the water wet and unrecognizable with our snorkle gear on. Crazy. That dude was pure entertainment. I’m sad I didn’t get a good picture of him because he reminded me of Aaron Paul. (Hubs said he reminded him of Dominic Moynahan.)

Everyone being entertained by Shy.

We left a good tip because we loved, loved the guides but the tour itself was meh. I would have preferred a snorkel trip that carried less people and had something to look at. You go to Turtle Bay, you expect to see turtles. Amirite?

We had a little time when we got back to shore before all-aboard, so we stopped at a cute beach pub called Fat Turtle and had a few more drinks and appetizers (to prep our stomachs for dinner, of course). We asked for a local rum suggestion and the waitress recommended Cruzan which is made in the Virgin Islands. We have that all over the place in Orlando, so no. No Cruzan rum for Paula. I went with a Moscow Mule instead (my current favorite drink). I didn’t take any pictures toward the end of the day, so imagine me enjoying many more adult beverages. Pretty much like you imagine me on any normal day.

St. Thomas wasn’t our favorite stop, but we still had a great time. We heard from the locals that if you’re going to go to the Virgin Islands, that you want to take the ferry over to St. John. Apparently St. John is amazing. St. Thomas was beautiful BUT super touristy, which isn’t my thing since I already live in the land of tourism.

Ok, so that was our second stop. I’ll be back with more in a few days. :-)

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Back to Real Life

It’s been a little quiet on my end for a bit. Hubs and I got back this morning from a 7-day Eastern Caribbean cruise with our friends Linda and Jimmy.

Middle of the ocean means no internet which was kinda nice. There’s nothing like going back to the olden days of using lobby phones and needing a watch to tell time. We had a lot of fun and I so needed a vacation in a bad way. More on that goodness later.

Today has been hectic with getting off the ship, driving home from Pt. Canaveral, unpacking, doing laundry, going grocery shopping, picking up Jon Hamm from the hammysitter, and picking up Pants from the bunnysitter. I always worry about Pants when someone else is watching her. Apparently I had nothing to worry about as she was feeling right at home.

I got that picture from our friend who was watching her. I’m glad she put her best foot forward. Thanks Pants. Way to represent us.

Hubs and I are still playing the game, “Am I drunk or is it the ship?” because everything is moving and I’m pretty sure I’m sitting still. It’s a super freaky feeling. Anyway, it’s time to finish some chores and watch all the season finales I missed while we were away.

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Storm the Campus 10 Miler

Sunday, I ran the Storm the Campus 10 miler at the University of Central Florida.

It was my last race of the season *sniff* and now I’m all alone and raceless until October. In the meantime, I’ll need to find another use for my treadmill.

The usual happened race morning – woke up, got ready, ate a PB&J for breakfast, and picked Michelle up. Ok, picking M up is not the usual. She always picks me up because I am spoiled. But Sunday, M got to be spoiled because, for once, the race was on the way to her house instead of the other way around.

Once we arrived, we immediately ran into our new race friend, Tyler.

That’s him vogueing on the ground for Michelle. (Do you drop the e in vogueing? These are things I’m too lazy to Google.)

I think Michelle finally found a pace twin in Tyler. We met him at Best Damn Race, then saw him again at the Winter Park Road Race. Now, we’re Facebook friends and meeting up at races intentionally. So yeah, it’s getting pretty serious.

We also ran into my insanely fast friend, Brian, at the start. He was so fast, I didn’t get a picture of him. (He ran the race in 1:01:09 and came in third overall because he’s a super badass.)

This was an inaugural race and a lot smaller than I expected – only 229 runners, but that’s cool with me because I love small races the best. This is what the start line looked like pretty much until someone yelled “go!”

The start wasn’t clearly marked so I was a little worried about the course markings. M and I even made a joke about having 16 miles on our Garmin at the end. Turns out, it was one of the best marked courses I’ve ever run that included signs for all upcoming bathrooms. All races should have signage for bathrooms. I zone out so easily that someone could be stabbed to my right and I probably wouldn’t notice so the signs were appreciated.

The race started at 7:30, which is late for a March race in Florida. We really lucked out with some cooler weather, but I think  it should start 30 – 60 minutes earlier in the future. Anyway, the race winded around the UCF campus, so it was really pretty.


And because the race was on a Sunday, it was nice and quiet.

I ran one other 10 miler before this and that was a year and a half ago. I ran it in 1:45:52, so I was using that as my basis. I was pretty sure I could run a 1:40. I would have loved a 1:35, but I hate having goals. If I’m being honest, I suck at reaching them and I just end up letting myself down unless that goal pertains to alcohol or cupcake consumption. So, I was cool with a 1:40. Which I guess is a goal, but one I thought I didn’t really have to work for that was still a PR.

Just like my last two races, I felt like I was putting in a good amount of effort. It was manageable, but not exactly enjoyable. There was some nasty wind, and a couple turn-arounds that really screwed with my pace – one just after a water stop in which I almost ran into an oncoming car because I thought the last cone was the turn-around point and not a separating-runners-from-traffic cone. Everyone else was doing the same, so a cone for the turn-around would have been good. Or maybe a chalk marking.

I saw Michelle (and Tyler) three times during the race, which was fun. Usually I don’t see M at all, so I felt like I must have been keeping up pretty well. She even snapped a picture of me just before the finish.

Right in front of the burger place which seems about right.

Finish time: 1:31:15.  A fourteen minute and 37 second PR. And 7th in my age group! I’ve never been 7th in anything. (There were not seven women in my age group by the way. There were 29. That was my first question too.)

I loved this race and I’m so happy with the way I ran it. It gives me warm running fuzzies. If it were a half marathon, I would have had my sub-2:00. #bittersweet. Three PRs in a row is more than I ever thought I would get so I’m happy to end the season here and look forward to working hard to make next season even better.


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Five for Friday

Time for a little catch up of all the things I’ve been meaning to talk about but somehow haven’t found the time for. This would normally be a couple posts but I already forgot what I had for breakfast so I should probably get this out now.

1.  I ran the Winter Park Road Race 10k a couple weekends ago.

I didn’t want to run it this year even though Michelle was already signed up. I’ve run this race the past two years in a row and each time I was so burned out from racing all season that I hated it. So this year, I was going to skip it and avoid the agony. But, I’ve run half the races this season that I normally do and wasn’t feeling the burn out, so I knew I could PR. So I caved in and registered a week before the race solely for the PR I thought I could get.

And I got it!

Finish time: 57:23 (for a 5 minute and 23 second PR)

The whole race was an effort, just like Best Damn Race, and I can’t say I enjoyed it but I never felt like I was going to die so I kept going. It’s nice to have a couple PRs under my belt this year. I seriously thought it would never happen. I have one more PR attempt at a 10 miler on Sunday. So, we’ll see how that goes.

2. I saw Divergent last weekend. That guy that plays Four? Ugh. So gross.

He’s 29 and 6’1” and English and plays the guitar and sings not that I looked that up directly after the movie or anything.

I liked it. A lot. It was a long movie but I think it did the book justice. I also liked Shailene Woodley a lot more than I thought I would, so now I’m looking forward to The Fault in Our Stars movie even more. (She’s the lead and the dude that plays her brother in Divergent plays her boyfriend in it. Wrap your mind around that one.)

3. Last Friday night, I went out for drinks with Lisa (the bestie) and this happened at the table behind us.

The guy fell asleep so his friends stacked beer bottles and silverware on him. I was about three beers in so I  found it extremely entertaining at the time.

4. On Monday, Hubs and I went to the Miley Cyrus concert.

Throughout the whole thing I kept thinking, did I just see that? Yes. Yes I did.

Hubs scored some tickets from work that are in a fairly nosebleed section but they include free parking downtown, a buffet dinner, and free beer and wine. So basically everything I love and nothing I don’t.

When we walked in, the woman at the door searched my purse, saw my sweater in it, and was not going to let me freaking bring it in because “extra clothes” were not allowed. I told her not to worry because, you know.

I guess they were worried about people throwing clothes on stage? I don’t think I could have thrown a baseball on the stage from where I was sitting, but whatever. Anyway, say what you will about Miley, but I like her crazy ass and she puts on a great show. Hubs and I both said we’d easily pay to see her next time.

Is it even possible to hate a show in which she enters the stage on a tongue slide coming out of her mouth?

Or where she dances with a giant wolf?

Or when she shares the stage with a giant floating space kitty?

I say no.

5. Because I’m sure I burned some of your corneas with #4, here’s an adorably pathetic picture of Pants after she flopped.

We’ve been trying to get video of her flop for years. The only warning we get is when she starts licking the carpet. It only lasts for about five seconds, so we pretty much need our phone in hand and ready. After the carpet lick, she goes from a standing position to flopping on her side in about two seconds. Afterwards, her ear is slicked back and she looks so pathetic. It’s the best time to get the good pets in too.

Who do you love that everyone else hates? For me, it’s Miley and Ke$ha. Although, I’m sure I could come up with an even longer list.

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Out of Retirement

You might remember my friend and former blogger, Melissa.

She lives in DC and wrote Hungry, Healthy, Happy for awhile. We met through our blogs, decided to take our online stalking relationship to real life stalking and the rest is history.

Well, Melissa just finished her first marathon and because I’m selfish and wanted to hear all about it, I asked her if she wanted to guest post. She totally fell for it. I don’t normally accept guest posts. In fact, this is my first one. Probably my last one. But I love hearing about this kind of stuff and I was thinking you might too.

So without further adieu…

Out of blogging retirement to tell you all about my marathon?!?! Yes, please! After all, the only real way to validate my achievement is to toot my own horn via the internet, amirite? 😉

So, those of you who read my little old blog back in the day may remember the following chain of events:

  1. Run a 20 minute PR in the half marathon (1:34:38) to my complete and total shock. Qualify for the NYC Marathon.
  2. Train for a different marathon (because NYC couldn’t possibly be my first <eye roll>). Become horribly, debilitatingly injured to the point that I could barely walk. Cease marathon training. Avoid the doctor because: uninsured.
  3. Rest and (sort of) heal injury. Train for NYC Marathon.
  4. NYC Marathon cancelled due to devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy.
  5. Be salty about NYC Marathon cancellation.
  6. Run Richmond Marathon the following weekend only to have my bastard knees soul-crushingly give out about 8 miles in. Fight through until mile 20. Hobble off the course feeling extra super sorry for myself.
  7. Continue to feel sorry for myself and not run again for 4 months.
  8. Run another (slower) half. Get injured again.
  9. Get insurance. Go to PT. Have my body beat into submission so it will work as designed.
  10. Be HEALED!

The PT really worked. I got back to running in November of last year and joined P and Michelle (among many lovely others!) for the Celebration Half Marathon in January. When I mentioned to my co-worker that I was thinking of running the DC Rock n’ Roll Half in March, he asked, “Why not the full?” I didn’t have a good answer, so I signed up. Seemed like a well-thought-out plan.

I proceeded to tell myself my goal was simply to finish–not for time, not for glory, just for the achievement of actually RUNNING A MARATHON (<–yes, that requires all caps in my world). Running a marathon is a pretty sweet accomplishment, and I wanted to be part of that club.

If you followed me in the past, you know I was militant about my training. This time? I was so un-me, it was mildly baffling. I made a training plan, but if I missed a workout, I didn’t really think about it. (It was a long, cold winter, yo.) I slowed down my runs to 9ish minute mile pace (instead of the 8 minute insanity that likely caused all my injuries) and did exactly 2 speed workouts. Not 2 speed workouts per week. Two speed workouts TOTAL.

HOWEVER–in typical Melissa fashion, I fell. A lot. Well, twice. Once on the ice just one mile in to my 18 miler. I got up and finished the run, then went to urgent care for a pretty seriously sprained right arm. It was really fun not being able to feed myself or fasten my bra for the two weeks following that. The second fall, sweet baby Roo (that would be my dog) got under my feet, and I fell on my face. Because I have no shame and needed to be coddled, I took selfies of my scraped fat lip and posted them on Instagram. The world needs to see that kind of thing. I also tore my favorite running tights and made mincemeat of my knee in that fall. I actually had to sit down and put my head between my legs because I was seeing spots and thought I might pass out. So that was super fun. Oh, and that happened just a week before marathon day. Naturally, I went out the next day and blew through 11 miles like I had something to prove. I know that if you don’t post it on Instagram, it didn’t happen, but I took a picture of my Garmin, which is almost the same. Also, running fast miles less than a week before my race might not have been the smartest move, but since when do runners do smart things?

Roo sees me taking selfies and needs to get in on it. I understand.

After serious taper crazies (I have never had so much nervous energy in my life), I woke up on race morning completely terrified but also strangely ready. I was able to meet up with Steph, an old friend from Michigan and my training partner, before the race, and seeing her calmed my nerves a tiny bit. I still felt like I was going to throw up, but felt better that a friendly face was nearby to hold my hair back.

When my corral finally set off, I was so cold/nervous that my teeth were chattering. I know–I’m not dramatic at all. But after about a half mile, I settled in and just felt excited that I was RUNNING A MARATHON.  I tried not to run too fast and reminded myself that my primary goal was to FINISH. Still, I did have a secondary goal in mind of finishing in 3:45–Chicago qualifying time–so there was a fair amount of people dodging going on. In general, though, I tried to enjoy the energy and not lose sight of the fact that we were running along the National Mall, which in itself is pretty cool.

About 6 miles in came a killer hill. I’d run it before and knew it was coming, but we’re talking at least a quarter mile of steep incline, so I basically hated my life for those three minutes. There was a ton of crowd support, though, so that ensured I wouldn’t wuss out and walk or anything. Around mile 8, I spotted a co-worker who’d come out to cheer me on, so that made me pretty happy, and shortly after that, I caught up with the 3:40 pacers. While I said my primary goal was to finish, and my secondary goal was to qualify for Chicago, my tertiary goal (I’m so annoying) was 3:40. Or–more specifically 3:38. I have no idea why I picked that number, but I wanted it. I wasn’t going to be heartbroken if I didn’t hit it, but I knew I could, and I was going to try for it.

Mike and Tim, the pace group leaders, introduced themselves and made me introduce myself to the group (Melissa, from Michigan, Project Manager, first time marathoner). Now, I have never been a particularly social runner–or person, if we’re being honest. I’m a little shy and usually feel awkward and like I’m talking too loudly and saying stupid things. But this group felt different–safer somehow. They were supportive and interesting and actually super helpful. Mike and Tim told us when to ease up on the pace, gave us tips about the course, and were generally entertaining throughout. Miles 8-20 flew by. I’m not even exaggerating. I was smiling obnoxiously the whole time.

I also saw my parents a few times and a couple other co-workers who’d come out to cheer, which was the best. I got so excited when I saw them, and it was really nice to have people there for me–I’ve never had that before, and I was surprised at how much it helped! I also pointed out to my spectators that I was “running with the fast people!!!” I am so embarrassing.

About mile 21, we headed out to a long and lonely loop around a park, and my legs started to get tired. I kept up the pace, but I started to feel a new kind of pain around my upper thighs that I’d not experienced before. This is where it got pretty mental, and I really had to talk myself through. The pacers were about 20 yards ahead of me, so I told myself to run my own race. That I knew it was going to be hard. That if I wanted to hit my goal, I was going to have to work for it. That I could slow down, make it easier, still finish in 3:45, but I wanted that 3:38, so I kept pushing.

Then, it got hilly. I was displeased. After 3 rolling hills, I figured we had to be leveling out. Nope. Another hill loomed a half mile ahead as I crested what I had hoped was the last hill, and a rather loud expletive escaped. Pretty sure I just shouted what everyone else was thinking. While the hills were probably good for my body because they forced me to change pace, they were not good for my mind, which didn’t want a challenge at that point. I wanted to be done.

But even though I was tired and even though the pacers were closer to 40 yards ahead by now, my Garmin told me I was still running in the 8:–teens, which was PLENTY fast for me. And while the last few miles should’ve felt long and endless, they weren’t. Before I knew it, I was rounding the bend to the stadium with the finish in sight. My Garmin clocked the course about a half mile long (running through a tunnel confused it), so it was just slightly infuriating when I thought I should be done, but still had a half mile to go. When I realized where the actual finish was, though, and how close I was to it, I bolted. I have never been so happy to see a finish line in my life. Evidence: last mile: 7:21. I may have been a tiny bit excited. I saw my parents as I entered the chute, too, which made me even more excited, if that’s possible. I think I yelled to them, “I RAN A MARATHON!!!!” So much cheese.


When I crossed the finish line, I was handed my medal. I saw my pace group leaders right away and went over to them to give them hugs and fall all over myself with gratitude to them for helping me through. Mike took my medal from me and put it around my neck and told me I’d earned it. I kind of got all weepy, but recovered quickly when he revealed that he was actually a Secret Service Agent. I guess that makes sense given the horrific events in Boston last year and the fact that we were in the Nation’s Capitol and all, but still. Took me right off guard. Oh, and his name wasn’t Mike, either. Heh.

Official finish: 3:38:06.

What’s next? Not sure. If I never run another marathon, I will always be happy with the one I did run. The fact that I did it is enough. Reaching my goal is the icing on the cake, and honestly, I don’t know that I can top this experience. And after several (ahem, three) false starts in the marathon distance, I’m just so freaking proud of myself that I finally finished one.

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The Day Before the Best Day Ever

Now we’re back to last Tuesday, which isn’t going to be as exciting as last Wednesday. Nothing will ever be as exciting as Wednesday ever again. Life has peaked and now things will never be the same again.

Hubs and I arrived at LAX and took the shuttle over to the cluster that is Budget Rent-a-Car. Seriously, they do not have their shit together. Every seat was taken on the shuttle and it was packed with standing people. People had luggage on their laps because the luggage rack was full yet the driver kept stopping to pick up more people. Then we waited in a line for a half hour to get our car, which may not have been as annoying as it was if it wasn’t for the shuttle situation. Anyway, we got our car, a Chevy Impala to be exact, also known as the least fun car ever. But whatever, it got us from point A to B.

We stayed at the airport Hilton and had a pretty nice view of the pool and the airport from our room. Oh hey there four jacuzis!


We only enjoyed the pool from the room. We napped instead because sitting for a 4.5 hour flight and then standing in line for 30 minutes is hard and we are old. After nap time, my brother picked us up at the hotel.


He drove up from San Diego to visit once he realized I was in town for fun instead of work. We met up with one of my brother’s friends in Manhattan Beach (where he lived before he moved to San Diego) and walked from his friend’s house to Shellback Tavern. We admired all the multimillion dollar houses we can never afford along the way.

That was a two mile walk. Good thing it’s scenic because I’ve never put in so much effort for a beer.

Later on when the hunger set in, we walked over to Manhattan Beach Brewing Company for more drinks and food. I ordered the most amazing Mediterranean Chicken Kabob. I mean, it was unbelievably delicious. Just look at it in all its low-light glory.

It looks like a hot mess in that picture but if you are in LA, you need to eat at this place. Everyone loved what they had.

After that massive platter, I needed the two mile walk back just to make room for more beer. We dropped my brother’s friend off at his house and then went to another bar, played some pool (which I am horrible at), and had a few more drinks but our livers had enough and we were tired, so we called it a night. My bro walked back to his friend’s place and hubs and I caught a cab back to the hotel where we passed out hard by 11:30.

Wednesday morning, I wanted an omelet. A spinach, tomato, and mushroom egg white omelet from IHOP specifically. Sorry to all you haters that only love fanci breakfast, but IHOP is delicious and I will forever love them.

Omelets are especially delicious paired with those cheesecake pancakes in the background.

Normally I hate eating at a chain when I’m in a different city, but eh, it happens sometimes. Hubs must love me because he did not want IHOP. He didn’t even want what he ordered but toward the end of breakfast, half of my pancakes went mysteriously missing and hubs was in a surprisingly better mood.

After breakfast, we had a little time to kill so we wandered around Westfield Mall for awhile. I love that mall. It has every store I love but really, all I need is an Express and a Mrs. Field’s in a mall to make me happy.

You all know what happened next. And if you don’t, read this. We were only in L.A. for two days, but we packed in so much fun that it felt like we were there a week. We had a really great time. It’s hard to be back to real life.

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That Time I Went to a Hollywood Movie Premiere

So, this happened.

Tuesday, hubs and I flew out to Los Angeles to attend the Veronica Mars premiere in Hollywood. If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile or know me personally, you know that Veronica Mars is my favorite TV show. And you probably also know that Kristen Bell is my favorite person. And you may also know that both of those things combined make me giddy like a school girl so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I contributed enough to the Kickstarter a year ago to score tickets.

The Kickstarter had options for the premiere in LA, NYC, and Austin. Austin would have made the most sense financially (and I super love Austin) but helloooo?? Authentic Hollywood movie premiere? No-brainer right there.

Anyway, our little two-day vacation started with a visit from my big(gest) brother but I’ll get to that in the next post. I’m going to work backwards, kinda like the movie Memento. But terrible.

Let’s fast forward to Wednesday when we’re dressed and ready to drive over to Hollywood from our hotel in LA. We had to be at the TCL Chinese theatre to pick up our tickets by 6:00pm but we got there around 3:00pm so we could wander around, get some lunch, skip some traffic (but not really), and not be rushed.

We went to lunch first at a place called The Pig ‘N Whistle. The name got us. Pigs? Whistles? What’s not to like? The menu looked good and the place was mostly empty but they still managed terrible service and mediocre food. We stayed for a few drinks after we ate and the bartender told us she didn’t have any grape vodka. Now, I don’t want to tell anyone how to do their job but…

Around 5:30, we walked over to the theatre and there was already a line at will call to pick up tickets. I expected to be in the line for awhile but we got through and grabbed our tickets in about 10 minutes. At that point, fans were already packing the street across from the theatre.

Once we had our tickets, we walked across the red carpet to the viewing area for all the Kickstarter backers. Now, I’m not saying I had the best spot but…I had the best spot.


Where’s Waldo?

A few people asked how I got such a great spot or if I paid for it. Nope. I just saw it and then I stood there. Pretty technical.

Also, I’ll have to give Melissa and hubs props for encouraging me to wear a pink dress instead of a black one because I stood out like a sore thumb. Being 6 feet tall in heels that night also helped, I suppose.


That’s Tina Majorino taking the picture by the way. If you don’t know who she is, well, then we can’t be friends anymore.

For the past year, I’ve been getting email updates on the progress of the movie, etc. (It’s a perk of being a backer.) A few of the emails said the cast wouldn’t be taking individual pictures or signing autographs so I was just expecting to spectate and drool as my faves walked by. So let me just say, I was not expecting what happened to happen next.


I saw Kristen walking around the corner and got super excited so I asked her to take a picture. While I was getting my camera ready, Jason Dohring (Logan) walked around the corner and it surprised me in that fan girl pee-your-pants kinda way. Kristen noticed and called him over to get in the picture too. I’m pretty sure I thanked them, but one can’t be sure that more than gargling noises actually came out of my mouth.

From there, the night just kept getting better.

That’s Ryan Hansen (Dick) <3  I super love him. He’s in two other TV shows that didn’t last long but are totally worth the watch: Party Down (which has tons of people from Veronica Mars in it and is also created by Rob Thomas) and Friends with Benefits. Who needs fresh outside air when you can sit on the couch and watch those? No one. No one needs that.

Then, Tina Majorino (Mac) rounded the corner. She’s so adorable and tiny!

I also took a picture with Dax Shephard and met Chris Lowell (Piz), which somehow made the Veronica Mars instagram page.


Is anyone else watching his new show Enlisted? It’s pretty funny so far.

Anyway, I. got. to. meet. them. all. It. was. amazing. We saw the rest of the cast as well (Keith, Weevil, Wallace, Madison Sinclair, Cliff (the lawyer), etc) but I’m already doing enough of a photo dump and I’m sure these names mean nothing to those of you who haven’t seen the show. And if you haven’t seen it, what is wrong with you? Honestly. Have I taught you nothing? (Don’t answer that.)

It was so fun to watch the cast wander around the red carpet, talk to the press, and take pictures. They were all so nice. Plus, my front row view made it even better than I was expecting.

Jerry O’Connell

Kristen and Dax Shephard

After a little over an hour on the red carpet, we made our way into the theatre. The theatre has assigned seating so I didn’t have to body check anyone for a good seat. It also had something I’ll never see again in this lifetime: COMPLIMENTARY popcorn and drinks. < —- I die

The theatre is really beautiful inside. It’s more like an Opera House than a theatre. Check out the ceiling. Even that was like a piece of artwork.

The cast was wandering around the inside of the theatre as well. We ran into Lisa Rinna and Harry Hamlin (Logan’s mom and dad) at the concession stand, so we said hello. I’ve loved Lisa since the Days of Our Lives days (I’m so old to know that) and hubs was excited to see Harry since he’s a big Clash of the Titans fan. I also ran into Jason Dohring outside the women’s restroom. I smiled while expelling some incoherant babble and then he said to me, “I heard the best seats are in there.” Heh

Before the movie started, Rob Thomas came out with the cast and thanked us all over and over for making the movie happen.

The movie was great by the way (hubs liked it a lot too), but I was so freakin’ excited from everything that happened on the red carpet that I can’t even tell you what happened in the first 20 minutes. In fact, I even tweeted Kristen Bell a question during a live tweet a few days later THAT SHE RESPONDED TO.

Then, 100 fans kindly tweeted me the same answer all. day. long. The answer is in the first 20 minutes of the movie. The same first 20 minutes in which I was recovering from a fun-induced heart attack. And to be fair, Kristen didn’t know the answer either, so I should get a pass.

So yeah, that pretty much made my year. The trip was not cheap and it killed all my vacation time, and because of that I really considered not going. I’m so glad I changed my mind because when am I ever going to have a chance to attend something like that again? Probably never.

Completely worth it.

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