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I'm on hiatus (in case you hadn't guessed). Sorry! I miss you guys.

29 March 2009

The Sunday News

We don't take the paper. Not even on Sundays.

But there are people who sell the Saturday & Sunday papers at intersections all over town every Sunday morning. And my usual thing is to buy one if I get stopped by a red light on my way to church.

Today was one of those days. I love the smell of a newspaper, and the feel of it-- there is something a bit nostalgic & old-fashioned about reading the Sunday paper in this era of instant Internet news.

And I often find a comic to clip for our refrigerator.

28 March 2009

Everyone needs a challenge, I guess

So it's been a bit of a challenging week over here at Cheekyness. To begin with, my work week was one of those that makes one think that taking in ironing for a living has got to be better than being stuck in corporate America. Thank you, Lord, for the weekend.

We had a race this morning that was supposed to be my 3rd half-marathon in five months. However, last weekend I had to acknowledge what my body has been trying to tell me for weeks-- I was physically & mentally tired of half-marathon training. After all, I started the training for the first one in July, for goodness' sake, so I've been at this for 8 months. My legs were not happy and I mentally wasn't into it, either. So, Monday morning I sent an email to the race organisers to ask to switch to the 10K.

I love 10Ks. I have now raced 10 different distances: 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 miles, 5, 10, 12 & 15Ks, and the half-marathon. 10 K is my favourite distance by far. It feels like just the perfect test of my speed (such as it is) and endurance (ditto). Plus, it is a good distance to set goals for; currently, my goal is to run a sub-hour 10K. I have to take three minutes off of my PR to do it, which means paying attention to the speedwork.
Speedwork! The speedwork for the 10K is fun, too! I do a lot of 800-meter intervals, with a faster time to shoot for each session, and it is So. Much. Fun! My only grief about these intervals is that I can only do them once every three or four weeks.

Anyway, all week I've been looking forward to having a go at my favourite distance, while wearing my new gear. (The shoes were great, by the way. If you are in the market for new running shoes, try on a pair of Mizuno Wave Rider 12s and see if you like them.) Then, someone finally broke the news to me that we were supposed to get a cold snap just in time for the weekend. Okay, so the whole country, pretty much, got the same cold snap. That doesn't make me any happier about it. But, I decided to grin (or at least not frown), bundle up, and bear it.

This morning, we got in the car to go & had a dead battery. Grrrr! I was just about to give up on our race altogether, when Chad apprehended a neighbour who was innocently going to leave and asked him to give us a jump. So, we got going-- 45 minutes later than intended. The race started at 9, we left the house at 8:03, and it's a 1 hour, 20 minute drive to Lamesa (according to Google Maps, anyhow). Let's not discuss by how much we violated the speed limit between here and there, but we arrived in time to join the race already in progress. :) They had just barely gotten started, so we figure we had less than a 5-minute gap between us and the pack. Even for being a few minutes late, we still had a reasonably good finish. And Chad got an age group medal!

So, a good race helps to even out a cruddy week. A bit. Here's hoping next week is better.

26 March 2009

Things I keep meaning to share...

... but I kept forgetting to charge up my camera batteries. Oops! However, on Sunday I was (optimistically!) putting away the cold-weather clothes, and it was a "do it now" kind of thing. So, here we have it, the 66-Mile Club t-shirt that I worked for throughout 2008:
I admit it is not as cool as the 2007 shirt, which was blue with white lettering and had "66 Mile Club" on the sleeve, but this one is at least somewhat better, because it belongs to me! :) I do love the Route 66 logo.
And here is the Austin finisher shirt:
I love the runner in the middle. Also, I feel like I add several degrees of cool to myself when I put this shirt on. (Most of my friends feel that I add several degress of crazy. Close enough.) You may notice that natural-coloured seems to be in vogue with running people this year. Austin, in particular, was anxious for us to notice just how eco-friendly they are, so most of their stuff was natural-coloured with green on it. Meh.
Speaking of Austin and green things:
The finisher's medal! The ribbon is really pretty, I think, and the green buildings on the medal are coloured plastic or something; anyway, when you hold it up to the light, the light shines right through. Chad hadn't noticed this until he saw me holding his up a couple of days ago.
I had some trouble getting a pic of the medal lying on the bed, so this is what I did when I finally got annoyed:
Try not to notice the crow's feet. (I'm much too young for that kind of wrinkles.)

And some more new stuff... the new short-sleeved running shirt (in my favourite colour) :
The new long-sleeved running shirt (in my sister's favourite colour) :
And, the new running shoes:
Do not be fooled by the photo; those bits on my shoes that look red are, in fact, pink. Really, really pink. But these were the most comfortable and best-fitting shoes I found in the store, so it's just a bummer that they have so much of my least favourite colour. But, I decided that I couldn't buy running shoes based on the colour; there are more important things to consider in shoes. I'm just hoping that my aversion to pink will make me run faster in an attempt to get away. :)
(Just skip this paragraph if you aren't that interested in running shoes.) These are Mizuno Wave Rider 12s, which is the latest version of the series. They were Editor's Choice by Runner's World magazine, and as such were on my list of shoes to look for when I went to the store. And, as already mentioned, they are super-comfortable and fit beautifully; no sliding around or anything. These are also gender-engineered shoes, meaning that there are significant differences between the men's and women's versions. Good news for women (hey, that's me!), since that means they aren't just a smaller version of men's shoes, but they are designed with a woman's body in mind. #11 in the series were blue (I tried them on, too, but #12 won me over), so I'm hoping that the good people over at Mizuno will see the light when making #13 and go back to blue. Or at least just lose the pink. I'm running my first race in these shoes this weekend; so more news on how they do later.

It was just good luck that I got so much new stuff these past couple of weeks; I had a gift card from work to a local sports store as a prize from our Biggest Loser contest (yay!), and then I won the most recent Bible verse contest (double yay!), so I went and bought waaaay more stuff than I normally would. Plus, the new tops (which are nice wicking shirts, by the way) were on sale. Booyah!

23 March 2009

Hee Hee Hee.


Now I readily admit that ReverendFun is cheesy more often than it is outright funny. But as a runner, this one delights me to no end. Of course, I am wondering: Where is Adam's bib number? Is he planning to be a bandit in the human race?
(Also, I don't think Adam was pasty-white and blonde. But nothing is perfect.)

21 March 2009

The Most Important Holiday of the Year

Not to overstate my case or anything, but Wow! do I love this season!

You can have my birthday, take away Valentine's day, and recall all holidays that allow postal and bank workers to stay home while the rest of us work. I'll even give you the first day of all the other seasons. But do not-- DO NOT-- mess with the first day of spring. It's sacred.

I admit that for the life of me I cannot understand how the entire world gets a 12-hour day, all on the same day, twice a year. Seriously, I don't get it. (I am happy in my ignorance, though, so please don't try to explain. Science is not my subject, and you'll just be throwing your pearls before swine, as it were.) But it happens, and by gum, bring on the celebration.

I refrained from buying balloons and making a cake to express my delight (although Chad did ask for a cake!). And thus far, I've spent most of my spring sitting inside (something I intend to remedy shortly). But my joy at my favourite time of year FINALLY making an appearance is not to be mistaken. (Even my coworkers noticed that I was unusually happy yesterday. Don't worry, I won't make it a habit.)

And, since this week seemed to be chock-full of holidays, let me add one more for your reading pleasure: March 19 was the two-year anniversary of my lacing up my running shoes once again. Well, my shoes anyway. I didn't buy proper running shoes for about 6 months. I have been an on-again/off-again runner for most of my life (started when I was 12!), but I have never kept it up steadily for two years. And I only plan to stop when I die.

17 March 2009

O' the Green

What's not to like about a day during which you can add, "o' the green" to pretty much anything you say, and people will nod as though you just said something intelligible?

Anyway! I just listened to a quite hilarious song called "St. Patrick Didn't Drink," and if you'd like to get in on the teetotalling action, skip yourself on over to Celtic Music Podcast to hear more. Seriously. I was riding down the street on my bike when this song came up, so I spent the last half-mile of my bike ride laughing.

I quite like St. Patrick's day (although in my mind this very green holiday is overshadowed by the one coming at the end of the week: The First Day of Spring. More on that later.), though I am perennially curious as to why, of all the countries of the world, we in the US celebrate Ireland's patron saint. I have concluded that it is because we collectively will grab hold of any excuse to drink.

I was particularly amused by President Obama's statement that Ireland has had as much a contribution to the US culture as any other country (or something like that). I thought, Yeah. Not like that little place just to the east of Ireland-- what's it called?-- oh yeah, England.

I may mock, but I do not dispute the love for Ireland that exists in the US. And if we start celebrating St. George's day with the same sort of reckless abandon, I will probably join in the protest march. So, continue with your wearin' (and eatin' and drinkin') o' the green. And I will, too.

16 March 2009

Shouting, Jumping, and Whispering

Just to be clear: Jason did all the jumping.

I took the morning off to go hear Jason speak at Camp Adventure. This is about the only time of year that I turn up around aimland, because, well, I am doing other things. If aim ever hosts a 10K, they may see me more than once a year. But, I haven't heard Jason speak in something like four or five years, so I took the morning off.

He had us shout a cheer at each other. He made sure that I will never watch TV again. He was as challenging and thought-provoking as he always is. He used an illustration of someone working out for three hours and following it up by eating an entire large pizza (at which point, I turned to Chad and whispered, "Hey! That's exactly what I did yesterday!"). And afterwards, when I JUST wanted to say hello, he was mobbed by people, at least a couple of whom wanted to take his picture.

I asked for his autograph. He said no.

14 March 2009

Ooh, a new gadget!

I asked our pal Dougle for a review of the Kindle app on the iPhone. I asked because I've thought about purchasing both of them sometime in the next couple of years, and was delighted at the prospect of getting them both in the same purchase. I asked because I had just finished reading his review of a book (or non-review, since he said it wasn't really a review), and wanted to know more about the service he used to read it. I asked with some degree of tongue-in-cheek, not expecting he would actually post a review.

But by golly, that's what I got. Thanks, Dougle!

Also, for those keeping score at home, this is my 400th post. A toast to cheekyness! Actually, just go have some toast.

13 March 2009

Disturbing?

So we watched Criminal Minds on Wednesday night. Now, I like this show (okay, I like the cast; the subject matter of the show isn't my favourite), but whenever the adverts promise a "disturbing" episode, I tend to steer clear. A show about serial killers is disturbing enough without the writers handing us an extra sprinkle of creepy, thanks.

**Spoiler alert: Stop reading if you haven't gotten back to your DVR to watch yet.**
Wednesday night was finally an Emily episode, which I've been waiting for. But the "bad guy" turned out to be a priest who was conducting unauthorised exorcisms, which killed three people. Don't get me wrong, I don't believe in exorcism. I certainly don't believe in killing people in an attempt to "cast out Satan". I do believe this may have been the least creepy, least disturbing episode of Criminal Minds that I've ever seen.

I suppose it's because I have been hearing "church" words all my life that nothing seen on Wednesday night surprised me. Or maybe I've watched enough Buffy and Angel that it's no longer a big deal. Or perhaps my lack of belief in such things insulates me. (On the other hand, I have no problem believing in serial killers.)

In my circle of acquaintances, there are some Christians who tell me to never say anything negative because "Satan can capture that and use it against you". There are those who believe they have to "cleanse" their house in case there are demons lurking. There are some who probably think the priest on Wednesday's episode had the right idea (apart from that whole killing-people thing). But the Lord clearly says that Jesus defeated Satan, disarmed his forces. Satan is a conquered enemy, who can no more use my words against me than I can play in the NBA. I hate for people to give Satan that much credit; they allow him to disrupt their lives just by being afraid of what he will do to them.

Watch out for the devil's schemes, certainly. Guard yourself against temptation. Don't think that by your own will or godliness that you can single-handily defeat Satan. But don't go around cowering in fear-- Jesus has already defeated Satan for us! The work is done!

And that's why I was sad about Wednesday's episode, but not disturbed.

Once Lent is over,

just to keep in the spirit of things, I may try this.

12 March 2009

Numbers. Lots and lots of Numbers.

So, it just happens in this second week of Lent (or third, if you look at it that way), I've had Numbers and Deuteronomy on the iPod. And in the course of listening, I've heard a lot of how seriously the Lord takes vow-making. And when you talk about the Creator of the universe taking something seriously, that's about as serious as you can get.

How timely that I should hear the Lord's view on vow-taking a week after I made a couple of hurried Lenten resolutions. And what a sharp contrast to my own view of "resolutions": If someone takes us out to dinner or invites us to a birthday party, those are acceptable exceptions to a Lenten fast. Or, having a large mug of caffeinated tea, with milk, the day of a half-marathon. And perhaps a celebratory frozen custard afterwards. (Okay, I won't really do that, because I'll be too tired and really not into eating anything that rich.) But God says, A vow is a vow and if you choose to bind yourself, you're bound by your words!

So, I'm working on it. I want to be more intent and less haphazard. If I'm going to continue my practise of Lent (and I do intend to do so!), I want to spend more time planning, more time praying and more seriousness of purpose before Ash Wednesday. For this year, I am considering myself bound by what I've determined to do, even though the next four weeks seem long indeed as I think of all the Cadbury eggs and chicken sandwiches I could be eating. (Not at the same time, mind you.) Even my middle school self knew this was but a small sacrifice, and my adult self is doing her best to follow Jesus in all ways.

And when I think of all that Jesus sacrificed, from the moment he put on flesh, through the sleepless nights and the demanding crowds, facing all manner of hostility, doubt and pride in his followers as well as his enemies, up to the moment when he laid his life down-- suddenly it is easy to forgo a few luxuries in an attempt to follow him more closely.

Because I willingly bound myself to following him.

11 March 2009

I innocently visit my own blog

And the next thing I know, I've spent nearly two hours reading other peoples'. I know you're all chomping at the bit to hear what I have to say next, too.

So, Timbra brought up an interesting point, that I had intended to address but forgot. So, now I'm back to it. I am not Catholic. I do not attend a High church. So, my Lenten celebrations have been pretty much on my own for almost 20 years. Here's the rest of the backstory:

I started celebrating Lent when I was in middle school, because I had a lot of Catholic friends. It went something like this.
I: Want a Hershey bar?
Friend: No, thanks. It's Lent.
I: No, it's chocolate.
F: No, Lent. The time before Easter when you give up something.
I: Huh?
F: I decided to give up chocolate this year.
I: Huh?
F: (Gives the middle-school explanation of how we give stuff up to be more like Jesus, who was beaten half to death then crucified the rest of the way, only we don't go to those extremes, we just give up stuff we like. Like chocolate, for instance. (Sorry-- I'm not trying to be completely irreverent, but I was in MIDDLE SCHOOL.))
I: So, to get ready for Easter, you voluntarily suffer like Jesus? Just not as much?
F: Yeah.
I: Cool. I already paid for the Hershey bar, though, so I'll join you after I eat it.

And that's how I got started practising Lent.

In the intervening 18 years (oh, that is disgusting to type), I have run across a variety of reactions to my practise of Lent, including horror (parents), curiosity (some friends), excitement (Catholic friends), rudeness (some acquaintances) and indifference (everyone else). Chad, fortunately, falls into the "curiosity" category; we had been married something like six weeks when I said, "Oh, by the way, I celebrate Lent. It starts next week. I'll fix pancakes for us on Shrove Tuesday." He said, by way of maintaining family tradition, "Huh?"

For some reason, even though our office is packed full of Catholics, I seem to have been appointed the department guardian of all Lenten knowledge; that is, when someone in our department has a question about Lent, she asks me. And this year, they seem more interested than ever. We'll see how this turns out.

08 March 2009

One week down

Okay, so it's one and one-half weeks down. Whatever.

I was going to just post "never mind about that whole Lenten journey thing!", but thought better of it. Truth to tell, there is not much journeying worth telling anyone about yet. Not even Chad, who gets to hear the most boring and minute details of my life.

Anyway! I'm training for another half-marathon, otherwise I would have done the traditional fast. (Next year, I'm going to cut my running down during Lent and go for it.) Since I can't do that, I have instead opted for a variation thereof: I am abstaining from all animal products, but eating my usual six meals a day. (I eat like a hobbit; what can I say?) In addition, I am abstaining from sweets, but that has become such a normal part of my Lenten experience that I hardly feel that it counts any longer. Besides that, I am still eating fibre bars, so I do have some degree of "sweet" in my diet.

I used to be a vegetarian before I got married, but I thought it was unfair to my husband to make him go veg as well (it was not at all for conscience reasons that I went veg myself). Now, I'm doing my best to relearn, very quickly, all that stuff I knew about vegetarian living. With the added bonus that it's actually vegan living I'm after. And, this time around I'm a runner with actual goals in mind, so I have to pay a lot more attention to my protein intake. So, I'm having to put some thought and effort into what I am eating. This does serve the purpose of bringing my thoughts back to God, and I've found it's a lot easier to do something for someone else than it is to just do it for one's self.

This week has been crazy-hectic. We keep our lifestyle quiet and un-busy for a number of reasons, but sometimes our culture's busyness sneaks in our door and ambushes us. Therefore, it's been harder for me to focus on the reasons for fasting, let alone work in extra prayer or Bible reading time (I know, it's my own fault!).

However, there have been some side effects: It seems that making a change in one area of my life does affect the others. Even though I haven't made any conscious decisions regarding my speech, I noticed that I was choosing my words with more care this week. I don't know where that came from, but it is a habit I'd like to pursue.

So, I have a long way to go. Easter is still five weeks away. I enter this new week (and seemingly, this new time zone), with more purpose and intent than I had last week.

Ah! Fixed it.

Now, when GMT does the jump to summer time, I'll have to fix it back.

Daylight, un-saved

My clock in the sidebar didn't update for daylight saving time. I'm not sure what to do about that.

02 March 2009

Dust to dust

So, I went to an Ash Wednesday service on Wednesday morning on my way to work.

I've actually never done this before; when I was still in school (and was anxious to skip a couple of classes like all my friends), my parents said "NO!" quite emphatically when I asked if I could go. I could have gone in Scotland, I suppose, but there's quite a Protestant-Catholic divide in Britain that I really can't get, having not grown up there, so I thought I'd better not even try to get into that. Then, there's that whole thing about me going to South Plains on Wednesday evenings. So, that left me, this year, looking for an early-morning Ash Wednesday service.

I googled and found a church that is between my apartment and my office offering a 7 AM service, but I ran across another church in between here and there, and since it was getting close to 7 by that time, I just stopped off at the first church I ran across, basically.

So, I heard the homily about fasting, got some ashes on my forehead, watched some people take communion, and then slipped out because it was time for me to go. Unfortunately, I did a fair amount of sweating between the church and the office (I was on my bike), so by the time I arrived I had an ashy smudge across my forehead, and when I tried to get the sweat off, the ashes came off, too.

Next year, I'll choose a less-sweaty option for getting to work.

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