Thursday, March 8, 2012

My First Half Marathon, Meeting Newt, and Other Happenings...

Hello, all!

Wow, where do I BEGIN with the last week? I guess I'll go in sequential order, starting with last Friday.  I was working in Columbus, so I headed to work early knowing that I hoped to get an early start to New Orleans for my race and also that I would be fitted for my pilgrimage dress over my lunch break...I know that I have mentioned this "pilgrimage" thing, which may sound a little weird, but let me enlighten you.

Some really interesting trivia about Columbus: during the Civil War, when the northern army came though the south, Columbus was one of the few towns that provided medical help to both southern and northern soldiers.  As a bit of a "thank you" gift, Sherman decided not to burn down everyone's homes (how kind of him, haha).  Therefore, Columbus has one of the largest (in fact, I've heard many people say the largest) collection of Antebellum homes in the country.  They truly are fantastic.

So once a year, for two weeks in the Spring (in this case, the last week of March and the first week of April), Columbus hosts the Spring Pilgrimage, where the historic homes are open for visitors and tours.  Many of these homes, if not most, are lived in by people or occupied by bed & breakfasts.  Some of them are open as event venues.  To add to the authenticity of the event, volunteers...such as myself and many of the other women on base...dress up in old-south type dresses, complete with hoop skirts, and give tours.  Oh, I am just so know this is right up my alley! It's going to be just like Scarlett O' Hara in my favorite book, Gone With the Wind...except no corset...

If anyone is interested in coming, let me know! Here is some more information...there are some other fun things going on during the week, too.

So Friday night I began my journey to New Orleans (hearby referred to as "Nola").  It was only about a 4 hour trip the way there, but I had the pedal to the metal the whole time because I was running from some baaaad weather.  Luckily, I got there safely and met Hannah and Sara.  Hannah ran with me in the race, but Sara just came to spectate and hang out.  Here are some pictures from the weekend...

The first couple of days we did some sight-seeing since the race wasn't until Sunday.  Here is a statue in a public park that pays tribute to Hurricane Katrina. 
Hand grenades are a staple on Bourbon St.!

It was nice to have some girl-time.

While we were sight-seeing, we saw some beautiful things...such as this cathedral...

And we saw some not so beautiful things, like New Orleans restrooms.  Can anyone tell me WHY there are two toilets next to eachother?? I mean, I know women are known for going to the restroom in groups, but I feel like STALLS would have been a nice addition!!!!

The race was a COMPLETE blast! I finished the 13.1 miles in 2 hours and 4 minutes, which was about 11 minutes better than my goal time (about an average of 9:30 per mile).  It was so fun, because since it was a "Rock N' Roll Marathon", there were local bands set up at every mile marker and a big concert at the end.  20,000 people ran in the race. I got a medal and a T-shirt for running. I am definitely going to be doing another 1/2 Marathon.  I don't know if I will ever make it up to a full, 26.2 mile marathon...that's not really in my goals right now.  I guess if I ever get bored with 13 miles (doubtful), I might consider it.  Meanwhile, I am wanting to do another Rock N' Roll marathon in Savannah this November, so if anyone wants to join me, let me know!

"Before" picture...when I signed up for the race, I didn't know I'd be waking up at 5:30 am on a Sunday in order to report to the start line at 6:30 so I could be running 13 miles at 7!! But as it turned out, that's exactly what we signed up for.
"After" glad to have finished!!
Surprise! Race participants got free "baby" (8 oz) is actually a good choice to drink after running.  A lot of marathons give their runners beer after the race because beer is predominately made up of water and carbohydrates, both of which are necessary to recover after a long run.  Also, the sugar, salt, and bubbles allow your body to absorb the water more quickly than just drinking water.  A little running trivia for 'ya!

We stayed in Nola for a couple of days extra just to hang out and have some fun.  The only thing I would have changed would be for Chris to have been able to come with me.  I know he would have had fun in Nola, but his schedule just won't allow for him to take weekend trips, at least not for the moment until he gets used to his new schedule.  Also, he definitely wouldn't have been able to take the day off on Monday like the rest of us did.  At least we know that Nola is close enough to go back to together.  Chris says he has absolutely no interest in running 1/2 marathons (can you imagine that? haha)...but maybe next time he can at least come cheer me on!

When I got back on Monday, I was really looking forward to spending some time with Chris, knowing that I would be coming back to Birmingham to work on Wednesday.  Instead of cooking, we decided to try out a Japanese/sushi place that we found in Columbus that we had somehow never been to before.  We got a great deal on this monstrosity (not to mention a 10% military discount!):

YUM!! I think it goes without saying that we will be BACK at Little Tokyo! We have an UMI Japanese Steakhouse moving to Columbus that is supposed to open any day now.  There was one in Starkville when I used to work there, so I know it is going to be very good, and it has been voted "Best Sushi in Mississippi" (take that however you see fit).  However, it's a good bit pricier than Little Tokyo, so I'm glad we found a place where we can get our sushi fix affordably!

Tuesday was the wives social, and we played Bunco.  I'd never played before, but I'm glad I learned how because I know lots of people who play it.  I didn't win anything, but I still had a great time! Chris went over to Jon's while Autumn and I were at the social and worked on their beer, which hopefully will be ready by our St. Patty's Day party.

Wednesday, I came to Birmingham to work and got a surprise invitation to volunteer with some fellow former AU College Republican members for the rally being held for Newt Gingrich supporters in Birmingham.  Without getting too political with all of you, I just want to say that I was undecided about who I would be voting for in the Republican primary, but now I'm going to follow what my head was telling me all along, and that is to vote for Newt, who I believe represents the kind of attitude toward foreign policy and the government's role in the economy that I hope (and pray) our next president has.  I will support whichever Republican candidate wins the primary, but I hope that any of you who are reading this realize how important this election is.  If you don't concern yourself with politics much, then just vote in honor of me...I have always had my political opinions, but being a military wife and and working woman have made me realize how important it is to have a strong leader.  So no matter who you vote for, just make sure you VOTE, and at least educate yourself enough on the issues that you know who will best represent what YOU believe in.

Okay done with my sermon!

ANYWAY, I don't care who you are voting for...a political rally is something everyone really must attend at some point in their lives.  It's so cool to see a presidential candidate (or governor, mayor, whatever) in person, hear their ideas straight from their mouths, and witness politics in action.  And no matter who you vote for, you have to admit...meeting someone who could potentially be the next president is pretty awesome! No matter what you think of them, you have to have respect for someone who doesn't just talk about what they wish would happen in America...they actually set out to try and be the next president! I don't think I would ever have the nerve to do that!
So that's what we got to do...we got to meet Newt, AND have our pictures made with him and his wife, Callista! SO cool!

Heather Whitestone introduced Newt...she is just amazing! For those of you who aren't familiar with her, she was Miss Alabama in 1994, and she won Miss America! Oh, and by the way...she's deaf.  It's so incredible what she has overcome.  She met her husband while working on a campaign for Newt back in the 90's.  

Speaking at the rally.

Me with Newt and his wife, Callista.

Auburn ladies with Newt: Me, Rebecca, and Meredith

Auburn girls again with Callista

For those of you who don't already know this, Chris can't talk negatively about the president or really get into politics since he is in the military.  So don't take any of this as his words.   I think we all know that I personally will not be voting for Barack Obama in the next election, because I believe his policies have weakened America's ability to defend itself, obviously a concern of mine.  There are a lot of other reasons, too.  But to be clear, these are MY opinions, and Chris' opinions are for him to know, and he alone!

We have more excitement ahead for the weekend...Friday night, Autumn and I are putting together a bonfire for the guys' class, so hopefully the weather will be nice.  Saturday, Greg and Tammy are coming to visit (staying til Sunday), and it's Career Day again.  Remember a few months ago when I posted about the last Career Day where we were able to take pictures in all the planes? That is coming up again Saturday, so it should be interesting for Tammy and Greg to get to see the planes in person, I know it is for me.

Chris has been continuing to work hard in the academic phase of his training.  Last week, he had his "Systems 1" test, and today he has his "Systems 2" test.  He has been passing all of his tests so far without a problem, so I am really proud and know he will keep up the good work.  He's had two simulations so far which consist of going over what the cockpit layout looks like and it's basic functions.  Right now he is in what I call the "dinky" simulator, which has no visual effects.  The simulators he will eventually use are really cool (and very, VERY expensive) training tools that basically look and feel...well...for lack of a better word, they simulate the flying experience pretty realistically.  Over the next couple of days he will move on from learning the basic functions of the plane inside the simulator to actually starting and taking off the plane. 

The month of March has so much in store for us, and I can't wait to keep you all updated on what is going on.  Thanks for reading!!

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