Kara's First Carefree Vacation

Growing up on a small family farm in Central California, my family didn't take many vacations.  Most of our "vacations" were day trips to Sequoia, Yosemite, Disney Land, or to the coast.  Okay, I typed that, and realized I probably took those things for granted.  Not everyone lives in a state where beautiful mountains and the beach are both day trip options (I appreciate that now that I live in the Midwest).  Still, one day of bumming around downtown San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay always left me wanting one more day.  Alas, we always had to head home just before it got dark, so we could throw some hay at the livestock and make sure everything was still in tact (livestock have a way of getting up to no good when you're gone... at least, ours did).  As an adult, I really appreciate that my parents made the effort to get away every once in awhile, and even though Morro Bay isn't the hip kind of hopping California beach most people think of --- it was often overcast, windy, and sometimes foggy --- it's my favorite beach of all.  We'd peruse the shops, laugh at the seagulls who would hang around the outdoor fish shack and beg for tasty morsels of seafood, pester sea anemones during low tide, and every once in a while, we'd go to a neighboring beach and watch the sea lions' antics there.  Hands down, those are my favorite childhood memories.

So, it should come as no surprise that I'm "vacation challenged" as an adult.  I don't know where I should go or what I should do, so if I go anywhere, it's to the nearest big city.  I'll bum around town, window shop, and make sure to grab a bite of something delicious, and I call it a vacation.  Back in October, my boyfriend asked if I'd be interested in going to the Florida Keys with him and a few other couples for New Year's (he lives in another state, which is why it might seem odd that he asked me if I was "interested").  We were going to take boats, rent a house with canal access, boat up to restaurants, go offshore fishing, snorkel... um, yes!  What is this brilliant thing called a vacation?  Teach me!  Teach me!

Well, that man taught me.  We got to do all of those things.  And I loved every minute of it.  I was so relaxed the entire time... except for when we went offshore fishing, and I spent the majority of the time hurling over the side of the boat.  It's fine, I predicted it.  I did get to catch a couple glimpses of the sailfish he caught, though!  That was exciting!

We stayed in Key Largo and took an evening to go check out Key West, which was a nice change up up from just lounging by the pool and taking the boats out.  My only regret is that I didn't think to make time for the Hemingway house tour.  I really enjoy Hemingway, so when we walked past the house, I kept trying to tip-toe high enough to see over the stone wall that surrounds most of the property.  Despite not getting to enjoy that (I have a feeling the rest of the group would have been the opposite of interested in that tour), I really enjoyed our evening in Key West.  After the disappointment of finding out that our intended dinner spot on top of the roof of a fancy hotel was no longer in business, we found a neat place on the docks where we bought a couple drinks, watched the boat tours on the water, and listened to a couple of old men rock out on a stage.  Afterwards, we enjoyed an amazing dinner (woof, fresh seafood is expensive!) and headed back to the house in Key Largo.

As all good things do, vacation came to an end, and I flew back to Kansas.  And single digit weather.  And snow.  So sad.  Thanks for everything, Florida!


Insert Wizard of Oz Joke Here

Oh, hey there.  Remember me?  I made it to my new home which, as you may have guessed from the title of this post, is Kansas!  Did you know Kansas is just about smack dab in the middle of the country?  You probably did.  California public education didn't do a very good job of acquainting me with maps, so it was a surprise to me.  Either way, here I am.  Moving was every bit as stressful as I thought it would be, and then some.  Like, a lot some.  Sooo glad that's over, and you should be sooo glad I waited a few months to update, because I'm far enough removed from the moving trauma at this point that you'll be mercifully spared all the details.

This move has been such a great thing for me in so many ways, I don't even know where to begin. Just know that I am more secure, more carefree, and more optimistic about the future than I have been in a long time.  The dogs love it in the new place, and I love it, too.  I also love my new town!  I definitely miss working a normal 8-5 work schedule Monday-Friday, and I miss the friends I made while in Ohio, but even still, everything is super peachy.  I've rediscovered the simple joys I used to find in fitness and nail polish (that could be part of the title of my future autobiography), and low key weekends with my pups and some Netflix.

I don't have any exciting photos to help portray how well everything is going here.  I'll try to start being intentional about documenting good things going forward.  Maybe a few "basic millennial" shots of good local beer, meals... BBQ.  Oh my word, you guys, the BBQ in and around Kansas City.  You need it in your life, believe me.  Do yourself a favor and go to Joe's of Kansas City if you're ever in the neighborhood.  It'll turn you into a total BBQ-head if you aren't one already. It's like the culinary version of Yosemite.  It's a beautiful and mind-blowing experience.

Hope all is well with you, wherever you may be!


Pro Football Hall of Fame Half Marathon

I'm a few days late with this, but I wanted to document my second-ever half marathon, which came something like 4 years after my first.  At least this one was planned.  I ran my first half marathon when I was stationed in Alaska, and I pretty much only did it, because I woke up and a few friends wanted to run it, so I said, Why not?  I'll tell you now: training is why not.  I hadn't trained one bit for 13.1 miles.  The most I had ever run at that point in my life was something like 7 miles, and that wasn't on a regular basis.  It was more like 3-4 mile runs, three times a week.  The pain the week following that run was a little scary.  I was worried I had done permanent damage to my body (drama queen, much?).  Luckily, I know little about the human body and was pleasantly surprised to find that my human body recovered juuust fine.

Finishing time back then at the North Pole Half Marathon: 1:58:some seconds

That experience was why I signed up for the Pro Football Hall of Fame half marathon in Canton, OH with plenty of time to train for that distance.  If you're asking yourself, Well, did she train for it?  I'm ashamed to say yes... and NO.  I started to train for it, so I think that counts for something.  But I pretty much maxed out at 4 miles on any given run and then put my training regimen on an unhealthy pause.  Don't worry, though --- I'm plenty good at learning lessons multiple times over.  My time in this run was definitely slower than my first time, but overall, I'm pleased with the results considering the minimal training.  And hey --- the pain is fairly minimal, too!  Sure, there were some intense joint aches and creaks going on there that first day (and the day following), but by the second morning after the run, the only lingering pain of any note is my calf muscles.  And that's just tightness, so I'll take it.

Time in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Half Marathon: 2:04:40

What got me through this run?  Believe it or not, podcasts.  I'm aware how incredibly nerdy that sounds, but I find that I'm more able to zone out the pain that inevitably kicks in during longer runs if I can zone in to an interesting conversation.  Music doesn't do that for me.  Maybe it's the fact that I know the songs, so there's really nothing to focus on.  But if I'm playing a brand new episode of a favorite podcast or two?  I'm forced to pay closer attention so I can process what they're saying.

Another thing going for me was the weather.  It was a bit of a chilly morning to start off with, but that crisp, cool air sure came in handy after I'd started moving.  It was a beautiful day for a long run.  Also, my decision to wear my Team RWB shirt for the first time was an excellent one.  Other Team RWB members --- and complete strangers --- came up to me before the race just to chat, and they were super supportive out on the race route.  I started to experience some nerve pain in my right hip later in the race, and I decided to work in a few seconds of walking, not realizing how close I was to the 13-mile marker.  An older guy in an RWB shirt, who was running a full marathon, saw me slow down and encouraged me to keep running.  After all, I hardly had any distance left til I finished!  

Anyway, it was a great experience, and I learned a thing or two about well organized races:

  1.  I had never heard of a "gear bag" or "gear bag check/service."  I now know it's a super nifty service where I can hand over a bag with my car keys and anything else I don't want to run with, like a sweatshirt to wear before the race, and volunteers will babysit it for me until after the run.  I mean, AWESOME idea!  
  2. I also learned that it's totally okay, and even advisable, to slow down to a walk when you take a little Dixie cup of water from the volunteers on the side of the road.  I used to practically hyperventilate drinking water during races while trying to run at the same time.  Since I didn't like that feeling, I would forgo hydration altogether.  Which, uh... don't do that.  Duh.  Especially if you're a particularly lackluster hydrate-er like I am, and you do a crummy job of hydrating the day before the race.  Take the darn Dixie cups whenever they're available, walk, drink, and then run again.  No harm done there.   
  3. Plenty of people wear the race shirt you get when you pick up your race packet.  I always want to wear it, but I have this hangup where I think it's akin to wearing the band's t-shirt to the band's concert.  Again, I'm super glad I wore my RWB shirt, because the other RWB people were awesome, but now I don't know when I'm ever going to wear that ridiculous race shirt, haha.
  4. Medals aren't everything, but they sure make finishing sweeter!  My first half marathon didn't have medals, and while I wasn't bummed at the time, I also didn't know medals at running events were a thing (I know, I'm late to the party).  While my first half marathon time was definitely not too shabby, I felt even more accomplished when I finished this run, because there were happy, smiling volunteers at the finish handing me gifts (a medal, a blanket, a bottle of water), haha!
  5. Runners are supportive of each other.  I'm so glad I stuck around after I finished to watch other racers round the corner with the finish line in sight!  There was an older man who raced in his wheelchair for the half marathon.  He was ahead of me for the first several miles.  Dude was bookin' it.  I was standing there on the side of the track drinking my water after I'd finished when I heard a bunch of people start cheering and clapping.  I thought it might be the first marathon finisher coming through, but I looked up and saw that man enter the track, and it was... just awesome.  Hell, even I had other finishers encouraging me from the side of the track as I finished.  The double lesson learned for this bullet is to stick around until at least the first marathon finisher comes through (because that's cool, too; that dude was only 45 minutes behind me, and he ran twice as far).  You get to watch complete strangers cheer on other complete strangers who are accomplishing a goal that not everyone even wants to set for themselves.  Again, to put it as I so eloquently did a few sentences ago, it's... just awesome.
So, there you have it.  I ran.  I enjoyed it.  I paid for it.  I'm proud of it.  And it gave me an outlet to release all my nervous and stressed energy over my multi-state move coming up.  About that move, I'd better get back to it...


These days

Been a minute, eh?  I'll catch you up real brief like.  In the last few months:

  • I've discovered YouTube makeup tutorials.  Life.  Changing.  My whole life, I've been intimidated by makeup and those who wield its magical powers.  No longer!  I used to just smear on some foundation with my fingers, and I used the little eye shadow applicators that came with the eye shadow to apply it precisely per the fool proof instructions on the back of the case.  If you're like I was, you'd be amazed at how big of a difference some makeup brushes (you can find some inexpensive but good quality brushes at BH Cosmetics), a makeup sponge, and some makeup savvy women on YouTube can do for your look.  Oh!  And I discovered that anyone really can wear lipstick.
  • A visitor and I went on a very cold walk through a metro park with Waldo and took advantage of the soft lighting to capture Waldo in all his photogenic glory.
  • Last, but certainly not least... I LANDED A NEW JOB!!  It is going to be such a life changer, and I'll be relocating to even more Midwestern state, so I'm sure I'll have something to say about the new state as time goes on.  Plus, I don't even have to change the name of my blog.  #silverlinings
And that's it for now!  I'll be elbow deep in moving arrangements and whatnot.  It's sure to be a stress-tastic time, but totally worth it, I'm sure!