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Dream Big.

On a chilly Friday night, in Downtown Charlottesville, while waiting for Obama to give a speech supporting a Democratic Candidate for congress, I made a pact with a new friend to complete an iron man in the next 5 years. And now, it is written!

One (LONG) day, Ā I will swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles in succession.

I think as a total n00b at all 3 disciplines, this is a great thing to have in the back of my mind. Because in working to accomplish this goal, I will push myself and bend the rules in my head that dictate what I’m capable of. One day at a time. Just in beginning this journey this year this has already happened. Whenever I’m stuck I’m like: “Karen, you totally conquered hills bigger than this one, just keep putting one foot in front of the other.”

It’s also just fun to crack a smile and tell people, “Hey, I’m training for an iron man (COUGH in the next 5 years COUGH).

Ehhh, I’m a planner šŸ˜›

Speaking of pushing yourself, yesterday I ran with an actual living human being! I’ve become such a gym loner – one who enjoys the temperature regulation and solitude of running on indoor tracks. But yesterday I risked it, and ran with someone far about my cababilities. I had to deal with things such as chilly temps, HILLS, dust, and chit chatting while working out. It was a little sad because I thought I was letting him down the whole time. And, when we eventually stopped, I was pissed….thinking….I didn’t even Ā make it 2 miles!!! GRRR!

Umm, little did I know we actually ran more than I’ve ever run in my life. I mapped the work out as a 3.5 mile run and 1 mile walk. Dude! Once I looked at that map I was so proud and excited – I had trouble focusing on anything the rest of the night.

It’s great having fitness buddies – especially ones that can push you further than your mind let you go before without being a jerk-face. I definitely would have stopped at two miles…..But now I know I can do more . Yay.

Maybe this Charlottesville 10 miler in April isn’t a crazy pipe dream.

What are your fitness dreams that seem unattainable right now?



Hot Tub Time!

As of today I am officially training for the Charlottesville 10 miler in April! Yes, that’s a long way away. But, hopefully if I start thinking about it now I’ll be a BOSS by the time it comes around. And I’ve sort of gotten used to the fact that I’m really bad at following a training schedule when classes are in session. After seeing Pham’s video of the Chicago marathon, it made me really want to do a race that is full of cheering people and entertainment along the way – and everyone I talked to around here assured me the 10 miler is a blast!

I’ve really had issues getting the workouts in lately. Thankfully, former swim school buddies thought of the ultimate workout motivation:

Haha, I guess what really went down was something in the middle of those 2 extremes. We ran, we swam/cooled down/splashed around in the kiddie pool at the gym to get the body temp down a bit, and then it was hot tub time!

My run was pretty ruff, but I managed to run the 2 mile minimum I set out to do. I’m definitely out of shape though. It’s been a while since a run got me out of breath like I was today. But, one can endure most things for half an hour…especially when a group of friends is waiting in a hot tub for ya!

After I FINALLY (Finally finally finally! Yes, it had been way too long!) went to the grocery store. I’ll actually have stuff to eat for breakfast tomorrow! They had a lot of sales on Amy’s prepared foods, and I shamelessly stocked up. I’m ready and armed for busy schedules.

Then I made some pizza and watched the rocky horror episode of Glee on Hulu. It was pretty awesome – I especially enjoyed (guilty pleasure!) the version of Touch-a Touch-a with Will and Emma. And Rachel and Finn made an adorable Brad and Janet. It was great hearing those songs sung by Good singers, unlike Rocky Horror. But, both have their place :).

MMMM, it’s 10 PM, and I’m exhausted. I think I’m going to go with this and pass out : )


Cure for the common funk part 2

If you’ve noticed, the blog (and by extension, my work-out schedule) has had quite the dry spell.

After my last post, I was hit by a lot of crap all at once. End of summer funk…a couple heart aches…school work…and preparing for a conference in Texas for work. Now that I’ve dealt with the primary impact of a lot of that, it’s time to figure out how to fit some activity back in.

Last thursday I went on my first run in over a month! That day I had felt like complete Sh*t. Headache. Groggy. Dead inside. The works. So, even though a lot of people were over at my house to play poker, I decided to go out and run instead. And I came back feeling alive again.

And that, my friends, it WHY I make an effort to work out regularly. Because when I don’t the FUNK sets in. And when I get burried in the funk like I was I forget the simple cure to climb out of it: sweat, activity, and endorphins.

I continued the momentum this weekend and went on a 20 mile bike ride on saturday. I was not overly excited about it because it had been 3 weeks and I knew it was going to hurt. A new pain I experienced was heavy breathing (going up hills) in the cold autumn air. It really burns your chest.

Biking in Virginia can really test your will when going up some big hills. It’s amusing to hear the stuff I say to myself. It alternates between manic cursing and chanting affirmations about choosing to finish what I started and that I can do anything and that I should do something I’ll be proud of in an hour. And on a road bike, giving up is a bigger deal than slowing down on a run. Because if you don’t do it right, you fall down.

The ride was beautiful though. I wish I wasn’t such a biking n00b and could balance and take pics along the ride. I saw tons of horses and pretty farms and colorful trees. It made me not hate fall so much for a little bit : )

And sunday, I swam. And I thoroughly exhausted myself.

Hopefully I keep up the momentum! I don’t like being funky Karen (unless it’s on the dance floor?) What are some of the things you do to get yourself out of a funk?

Arrrr and Arrrr

Hey – Before we get to the rest of this post…Remember VEDA?! Well, we decided to start doing Vlogs every week and the first topic is QUESTIONS. In order to do this I need you ALL to ask me some. Don’t be shy. Ask whatever you want! The more interesting and random the questions the better my video will be. Leave some in the comments or email me at Stayingsunny@gmail.com if you’re shy : ) Ā It’ll make my day (for serious).

Love you, now on to the blog:


If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’ve been having interpersonal angst out the wazoo for the last week. Thursday night I really thought I had hit my own personal rock bottom. I allowed myself to be vulnerable-accept-no-substitutes Karen, and, I got a totally surprising heart wrenching outcome. That with all the stresses of being in class again…well, I needed to get the HELL out of C-Ville.

So, away I went on a church retreat a couple hours away with a couple church friends. I’m reluctant to say much about religion on here. While, I’m open and accepting with what other people believe, I know some people get uncomfortable even when the topic is mentioned. But, finding what I believe again has been an important (though unspoken) part of my Staying Sunny mission this year. In college I let everything I believed in High School fall away. I never had any religious friends, so it was hard to stay motivated in that department – and very easy to just stop trying.

The camp! It was very motel-like.

But, coming back, I definitely feel like I made a semi significant stride on this journey, and I feel like a stronger Amazonian Karen. I have this weird better perspective over what happened the last couple months.

And, despite being away enjoying camp food, I managed to stay pretty Vegetarian. I did have to pop antacids like a BOSS after every meal though. It was sooo greasy compared to standard issue Karen fare.

Replaced the chicken with a Boca patty

We also went on a mini hike on Saturday. It was a total misadventure because the trails were so random and kept ending in forks. Good thing we had 3 iphones in the group and managed to make it back!

Not the best views on this excursion. And one of our turns ended in a barbed wire blockade!

And now, I’m back in the Ville, and hitting the ground running. I’ve been a busy bee getting some work outs in and also getting lots of lab and school work in. The getaway definitely was a fabulous mental tidy for the Kare-meister.

Now LEAVE ME SOME QUESTIONS : ) !! (Please!)

Dead Batteries and Tour De Cville!!

This weekend was epic in a lot of ways despite a rough start (LITERALLY) on Friday night / Saturday when my car battery died. Situations like these really make me remember fondly how awesome it was to have a Daddy around to help you through these things. If nothing else, it’s convenient to have people on your side that will help rescue you with some battery juice. Thankfully, I’m not totally alone here in Cville – and I know an amazon woman who was willing to drag my butt around town looking for batteries, jumper cables, etc.

And she knows 80 thousand times more about cars than I do – all while looking pretty in a sundress.

Unfortunately, my car’s compactness got the better of us and we decided to run back to the car shop and use our feminine charms on the employees there so they’d change the battery for me. I did not have the right tools for the job. The VW beetle does make everything more difficult under the hood. Luckily I don’t have to deal with it that often and….she’s cute! So, I get over it :).

And while it would have been nice to have my Dad help me out with this, it is immensely satisfying knowing I can figure it out on my own. It may have taken me 5 times as long, but I did it.

Today I had one of those awesome days where you are a tourist in your hometown – doing things you never would unless you were showing out-of-towners around. Today I tagged along with my roommate’s family for a few hours and we were lucky enough to be at King’s Family Vineyards on a harvest day! We even got to try some of the Merlot grapes. During most tours, you just hear them explain the process, so it was sweet getting to see the people in action.

And, got to sample some delicious wines ; )

It smelled so good in there……

After the winery, we checked out a nearby peach orchard and gathered up some of the last peaches of the season.

And, just when I thought this day couldn’t get any more eventful I met up with some fellow graduate students to go on a leisure bike ride around town. A couple had very little road biking experience so it was great to help introduce them to the open road. As I heard one guy complain about a hill – I remembered that being me just 2-3 weeks ago and am happy at how quickly my endurance has improved. I mapped out our route as about 20 miles – a distance that usually tires me out good and plenty – but today I still feel ready to rock and roll!

A couple in our group was even on a tandem bike!

I try to improve something new on every ride – today I worked on timing my shifts a little better and being able to signal left without wiping out. That last one still needs quite a bit of work!

After the ride we had dinner and beer and enjoyed the beautiful weather!

Things I loved about today’s ride:

1. Being a part of introducing new riders to the sport.

2. Meeting new people.

3. Doing something active with friends – I need to work out so I might as well have a great time doing it.

4. Slowing down compared to my usual rides and appreciating the beauty of where I live.

5. Noticing improvements in my comfort level on the bike. I so much more steady, so cars passing don’t phase me much any more.

I hope this becomes a semi-regular thing, because I’m so much more likely to work out when it has a social component to it as well. I need as many people as I can to keep my on track, especially now that classes have started again (though, I’m still in homework denial on that one!).

5K’s and Mockingjays!

Friday afternoon, I finally got that long long long (looooong) standing goal of running a 5K over and done! Even though I finished, I definitely didn’t run under optimum conditions. My lunch was too acidic, and I got a sharp pain in my stomach halfway through. I can also say I gave it everything I had at the moment. I was a little out of training…hadn’t had a decent run in a couple of weeks. So, when I finished my left knee hurt and I might have strained a muscle in my calf. But, even though I’m a little more sore now than I should be, I’m glad I got that milestone behind me.

I hope my little success can show some of you out there that anybody can turnĀ themselvesĀ into a runner with the right supportive shoes and determination. It’s all about initiating habits and pushing yourself a little further each time. I recommend the couch to 5K programs because they start out so easy that you don’t feel overwhelmed and the success in the beginning keeps you with the program and on to the end goal of 5K-dom.

But honestly, the whole process was a lot harder than I thought it would be….overcoming a knee injury early on, battling through a million colds and post-cold asthma-like crud for months afterwards, and times when busy schedules would delay training for a while and I felt like I was starting over again. But, in the end, I did it. I kept focussed on my goal….which is all I wanted really. And I think I knew all along that I’d get there EVENTUALLY! The next plan is to get a little more comfortable with 5K distance and then work towards 10K!

Me in all my post 5K glory, hehe

And as for my Sunday, it revolved entirely around the third (and final :/) book in the Hunger Games series: Mockingjay.



Coffee Shop:

And dinner:

I’m done now and totally have a head-ache from cabin fever and reading in the dim light. But, at least the book had a perfect conclusion. I won’t say any more because no one likes spoilers! Just read it, K? : )

Also, if you want to stay posted on my workouts, check out my dailymile account by clicking on the ‘Work Outs’ tab above. There I post all my running, biking, and swimming work outs since I don’t always get around to blogging them all.

Off the grid….

Hey all! It’s been a crazy week here in Karen-land. I’m off the grid, schedule wise!

Tuesday, the local electric people cut off the power in my apartment because the bill didn’t get switched over to my roommate’s name when she moved in a bit ago. It wasn’t totally tragic, but I did end up crashing at a friend’s place for 3 nights and had to get a lot of take out. My eating and exercise routines ended up getting mixed up.

Couch surfing, indeed! I recommend this couch though! Twas comfy!

Now I’m chilling in West Virginia at my parent’s place for the weekend. Saturday I went to a beautiful wedding of a girl I’ve known since 4th grade, I believe. She’s the first person MY age that I was friend’s with to get married (that I know of…). It’s kind of weird….apparently I’m of marrying age if I so desire to do so?? When did that happen?

Me ready for the wedding!

My hot companion for the day!

The ceremony was actually my favorite of all I’ve been to. It was outside in a nearby state park, which satisfies my inner hippie. And overall, it was just short, sweet, and simple which I thought made it feel more endearing and genuine. It was about getting married and being in love, and celebrating that with friends and family.

After I had a long catch up day with a dear friend, where we spilled our secrets and current life dramas to each other over ice cream and (later) soup! I seriously could eat all my calories from soup. I love the concept of throwing lots of flavorful things in a pot and seeing what happens.

Today I did more relaxing, catching up with friends, and squeezed a mini run in a park near my house. The run didn’t go as well as planned due to the humidity…After 2 miles I just kind of felt like I was drowning and couldn’t get productive breaths in. It was not the 5K of my dreams. I think I might have to do it inside the first time. This Southern humidity is killer. Well, hopefully I don’t let today’s failure get me down for tooo long.

It’s really hard being a vegetarian in West Virginia compared to Cville, Virginia. I struggled all weekend to eat properly- and I’ve been sneaking a lot of granola bars and cashews to get through the day. I’m kind of impressed I stayed strong for the most part. My tummy is glad we’re going to be going home tomorrow though, fo sho!