Monday, January 30, 2023

Mini Book Reviews: January 2023

Disclaimer: I received ARCs of Central Places and On the Savage Side from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links.

What a great start to another year of reading! Instead of being overwhelmed with library holds all coming in at once, I was able to pick and choose what I wanted to read without rushing through them all. I was lucky to read a hot newish release by Barbara Kingsolver, an author whose epic novels never disappoint. NetGalley has been very generous this month, offering limited time reads that I didn't have to apply for. One of them was by Tiffany Daniel, another author who I am familiar with and who also never disappoints. Interestingly, both the Kingsolver and Daniel books were very different variations on the same theme, poverty and opiate abuse in rural Appalachia. Do yourself a favor and read both. Not only will they make you count your blessings, but they both will give you a lot to think about. 

The other three books were also excellent. I hope this is the pattern for the rest of 2023!

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Shifting My Focus

This is the week that SJ and I discussed my goals for the upcoming year. We finished up that heavy strength cycle and challenged my 1 rep maxes on the back squat, bench press, and deadlift. Now it's time to move forward. After coming off of that strong trail race a few weeks ago, I pulled the trigger (thanks Catrina!) and signed up for that Earth Day 15 mile trail race in April, the one where I hit the wall on the last loop. My goal is to not have that happen again. I also signed up for a 15 mile trail race in July in Leadville, Colorado with my youngest son. That is really going to be a challenge as the altitude is over 10,000 feet. It's going to be difficult to train for that!

What I want to do with SJ is work on building strength for climbing the hills in both these races. I climb a lot of hills on the IAT in Wisconsin, but I think I need to also build trail-specific strength in the gym. We got to it this week!

Thursday, January 26, 2023

January Runfessions

Here we are at the first Runfessions of 2023! Do you runfess? Every month, Marcia opens the runfessional to allow us all to cleanse our souls and soles. Oddly enough, I always have things to runfess. So let's get to it and let the absolution begin!

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Race Recap: Frozen Gnome 10k

Recently, I ran my 3rd Frozen Gnome 10k on the local trails at Veteran's Acres Park in Crystal Lake, Illinois. In 2021, I ran this race virtually, on the course, and returned in 2022 for the live event.  This has become one of my favorite trail races--I love the location, the distance, the swag, and the fact that it is in January! The race organizer puts on great events and I was excited to rerun it!

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Are You There Sunshine? It's Me, Wendy

This may be the gloomiest January I can remember, and that's saying a lot because January around here is always gloomy. According to local weather icon Tom Skilling, we've had 20% of our normal sunshine so far this month. Even though it's been warmer than normal, it's pretty rough waking up to gray skies every morning. I was fortunate to catch a little sunshine on my runs on Sunday and Wednesday! It's something you really appreciate when you live in the Midwest. I'm making plans to go out to California in early March to visit my sister again and I cannot wait to soak up the sun.

For now, I have to make my own sunshine.


How many of you remember the book Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume? Reading it was a rite of passage for so many of us growing up in the 70s and beyond. My copy was so worn out! The title of this blog post is an obvious take on that book title, but did you know that the eponymous movie is being released on the big screen in April? How can it even be as good as the book? The trailer looks pretty cute. The 1970s are having a moment and I for one cannot wait to see this movie!

Sunday, January 15, 2023

No Harm, No Foul

This week, the universe reminded me that I should never get too comfortable when things are going well. On Wednesday night, I woke up with a throbbing pain in my back molar. I didn't recall biting down hard on it or anything, so I took some ibuprofen and went back to sleep. The pain returned the next morning and worsened when the day went on, so I finally broke down and called the dentist. Worst case scenario? I have a cracked tooth (there's a crown on it, so she wasn't sure) and will need an extraction. A better case scenario would be that I need a root canal. Either way, it was abcessed and she started me on antibiotics. I continued on around the clock ibuprofen.

By Saturday, the tooth was feeling better, so I was able to run my race (see below). I'm still taking ibuprofen but not as often, and I have an appointment with an endodontist on Thursday. I've never had a toothache until now and I have to say that it is a pain like no other. I think we runners are pretty darn tough and I really had to dig deep to get through the past couple of days. But there was no way I was going to DNS my favorite race!!! My dentist didn't tell me I couldn't run, but I know she wasn't thrilled about it. No one gets us runners, am I right?

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Kicking Off the New Year on the Right Foot

Cue the music... I'm thinking of the Black Eyed Peas' Let's Get it Started and if that song is now going through your head, you can thank me! I hit the ground running with a race on New Year's Day and that set the tone for how I want this year to go. Strong, happy, positive. I'm going to work on controlling what I can and the rest will just be background noise. That includes my job, which will take a back seat to prioritizing my mental health. I've set a goal of retirement in 2 years. The light is at the end of the tunnel, my friends!

With regards to fitness, I haven't set any goals for the year except to have fun. I'll continue to work on strength. Maybe I'll work on speed and race some short races. You know I'll be running the trails this year again!

I also got good news on the RA front. I saw my rheumatologist this week and my blood work was the best it's been since my diagnosis 6 years ago. I get to cut my medication in half. We'll see how it goes, but wow! What a nice way to start a new year.

You get what you pay for with free race photos!

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Coffee Talk

Disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link.

Let's catch up over a cup of coffee! What are you having? I'm drinking a cup of Philz Julie's Ultimate, a new-to-me brand that the hubs gifted me for Christmas. With a scoop of GLG collagen and a splash of half and half, it's like heaven in a coffee mug. 

What would you tell me over coffee?

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Mini Book Reviews: December 2022

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

I wrapped up 2022 with a total of 77 books read. I don't set reading goals--that's just too much pressure! Reading books is one of my guilty pleasures and I don't want to feel bad if I can't get through one to meet a goal. It's hard enough when all my library holds come in at once and I only have a few weeks to read them all!

Everyone has been posting their favorite reads and after reading so many books, I can remember only a handful of them. Tops on my list are Lessons in Chemistry, followed by Unlikely Animals. These 2 books checked all the boxes--they grabbed me within the first couple of chapters, I didn't lose my interest, I didn't want to put them down, and they've stuck with me for a long time after finishing them. The characters were interesting and quirky. The stories weren't clich├Ęd. And they were different.  A couple of other books are worth mentioning as well: What Could Be Saved, Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance, Remarkably Bright Creatures, Carrie Soto is Back, Hurricane Girl, Now is Not the Time to Panic, and Tomorrow, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow.

I also read a few non-fiction books, most of which were really good. Non-fiction November gave me an excuse to explore some books that were on my TBR but just couldn't find the time to read! I continue to refer back to Next Level, which validated and educated me about how to train after menopause. It's also on sale for kindle for $2.99 right now! Other favorites include Good for a Girl, Corrections in Ink, Solito, and Running While Black. 

This is just an observation of mine, but it seems to me that many of the books I read this year were unnecessarily long. I don't mind a long book if the story cannot be condensed--in fact, I'm reading an amazing one right now--but there's nothing worse than reading a book that just meanders on and on. Just get to the point! It reminds me of a hair stylist I used to go to who took an hour to cut my hair but mostly spent her time fluffing it. Chop chop! Good editing is a must to make a book crisp and interesting.

Over the holidays, my sister and I were comparing favorites and it was a good reminder that not everyone likes to read the same thing. Multiple times this year, I read highly recommended books only to be disappointed. People always ask me how I find the books I read and mostly, I pick books that are recommended by a couple of the book bloggers I follow. I hope that you will find a couple here that you might like!