Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 in Photos

2010 is almost over! As I think about this year, I'm proud of all I've accomplished and how much fun I've had along the way. It all started back in January...
When we had some friends over during winter break and I just couldn't get enough of Bigcat.
In February, I traveled with my friend Kyla to visit our two friends who live and work in Washington, DC! We had a great time ice skating on the National Mall.
In March, Sam and I hopped on a plane for San Francisco. It was both of our first time visiting the city and we loved the gorgeous views and redwood forests. Later, we presented research at the 2010 National American Chemical Society Meeting.
April saw the return to Earlham (my undergrad university) to work hard and finish up. I worked especially hard on the student-run dance show, Dance Alloy and celebrated afterwards with friends.
May meant only one thing-- graduation! 4 years of hard work and the most life-changing experiences of my life all culminated in one shiny diploma.
In June, Sam and I and another friend road-tripped from Ann Arbor to Vermont and Massachusetts to visit our college friends. We had an awesome time and I fell in love with the Green Mountain state.
For the 4th of July, Sam and I headed up to his grandparent's house in Northern Michigan and took advantage of the long weekend of sun and relaxation.
After finishing up my summer lab rotation and class, I took a trip again to DC to visit my best girlfriends and we celebrated the end of summer with a rooftop BBQ with friends.
In September, classes and lab work started full-force at Michigan. We still found time to have happy hour celebrations and take it easy though :)

October brought the proudest moment of my life. I had been running since March and stuck to a training plan all summer. On October 17, 2010 I completed my first half-marathon in Detroit in 2:20.53.
November brought lots of school work, but most importantly I visited my mom in Wisconsin!
Finally, in December I finished up my first semester of graduate school and came to Florida for vacation. It's been a beautiful time and we've seen the Lions win in Miami, birds fly in the swamp and generally beached around.

It's been a truly amazing year! I can't wait for 2011.

Yesterday and today I squeezed in my last workouts of 2010. Yesterday was a speedy-mile session:
Mile 1: 8:57 (!!)
Mile 2: 12:15 (recovery)

and today I ran to the beach!
Mile 1: 9:35
Mile 2: 9:34
Mile 3: 9:58

I love running and am so glad I have the capabilities of doing so. That being said, these past two workouts were HARD! I think it's part sun, part heat, and part just lost fitness from my 2 week running haitus but I'm looking forward to picking up the pace again!

Happy New Year's Eve!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Birding Roundup: Corkscrew Swamp

Today's Florida adventure all started with this man:
This is Dr. Phil Hanna, and when I was meeting with him two weeks ago to discuss my upcoming rotation, I mentioned I was spending winter break in Florida. Upon hearing this, he leaned in close and said intensely, "Corkscrew Swamp. That's all you need to know."

So today we went to the swamp. Ever since I spent a semester studying abroad in New Zealand I have been hooked on nature walks and especially birding. South Florida is a paradise for birds and I was excited to check it out.

Armed with our binoculars, bird books and peanut butter cups, Sam, his grandma and I took off down the boardwalk. We saw an incredible number of birds I had never seen before, and some I had. Highlights include:
Black and White Warbler
and a Red-Shouldered Hawk.
Also added to my life list:
-Magnificent Frigatebird
-Little Blue Heron
-Great Egret
-Cattle Egret
-Black-crowned Night-Heron (so awesome!!)
-White Ibis
-Turkey Vulture (first time I've seen one landed on a branch)
-Osprey (holding a mouse!)
-White-tailed Kite
-Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
-Gray Catbird (hilarious call!)
-Pine Warbler
-Palm Warbler

-Painted Bunting (amazing!) [Photo Source]

Also seen around Florida:
-Brown Pelican
-Boat-tailed Grackle
-Cattle Egret
-Rock Pigeon

It was an awesome day! One of the funniest things we saw were tourists clamoring to take pictures of this little guy:
Funny because we have plenty of these in Michigan :)

I had a great time at the swamp today! Any other birders out there?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Detroit Lions vs Miami Dolphins

Yesterday I got to do something I've been waiting years to do-- go to a Detroit Lions game and see them WIN!

The Lions were playing the Miami Dolphins in Miami, and since we're in Florida it was a perfect opportunity to catch a game. The weather was beautiful, although a bit chilly for Florida.
We bought our tickets on StubHub, and ended up getting great seats in the 'club level'! It was insanely nice and had a 'club' that had bars, restaurants, fancy bathrooms and even a live jazz band! After lounging for a while, it was time for the game.
Miami's stadium is gorgeous! Huge and tall, so from our seats we could see the action on the field.
Like I said, it was chilly and super windy! We bundled up and settled in for the game.
The opening ceremonies were great-- including an American flag shaped like the United States and lots of fanfare over the teams.
It was soo windy! Here you can see the flag holder guys struggling against the wind!
But then, we got down to business-- football! The Lions played really well and pulled through for a 34-27 win! We also got to see Chad Henne, #7 for the Dolphins, previous QB for Michigan!

All in all, we had a wonderful time! It was a great family outing and totally awesome to see the Lions win in person :)

Today we woke up to another blustery cool day. Sam and I took off for a run and it was incredibly windy! Sam left after about a mile, then came back and joined me on his bike. It was so hard to push through in the windy gulf sections, but I'm glad I did.

Mile 1: 9:41
Mile 2: 9:44
Mile 3: 9:45
Mile 4: 9:44
Mile.75: 9:42

Love to see those steady splits! Afterwards I came back and inhaled lunch that Sam and I prepared-- he did the quesadillas, I did the salad!

My quesadilla contained:
-2 tbsp pine nut hummus
-half a small tomato
-shredded mexican cheese
-grilled onions/garlic

So yummy! Now we're off to shop in the sun. Have a good day!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Back on the wagon

Greetings from sunny Naples, Florida!
We arrived here on Wednesday and have wasted no time enjoying the sun. For me, that meant outdoor runs!!

I'm here with Sam's family, and his younger brother Max decided to join me on my runs this week. On Thursday, I ran 2.5 miles to the beach while Sam and Max biked, then Max and I ran about 0.75 (he ran more later) on the beach.
Man does that beach make your legs sore! It was a great workout.
Mile 1: 9:44
Mile 2: 9:48
Mile 3.25: 10:49 (mega workout!)
Afterward I dived into this huge veggie sub Sam's parents got from the deli. It had roasted peppers, olives, mushrooms, pickles, banana peppers, lettuce, tomato and onion. Absolutely amazing. With a Bud Light Lime in a can for vacation's sake :)
Beach lounging commenced. (these are Sam's feet).

Yesterday we spent time with the family and celebrated Christmas eve. We got traditional pajama sets for our long winter's naps...

and later I tackled the Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls (details soon!)

For Christmas, we celebrated by dining on cinnamon rolls for breakfast and opening presents. Later, Max and I took off for a 4 mile run. It was fun but really hot at the end! We were running in the sun at 12:30pm in Florida. Truth be told it was only 75 degrees, but we were HOT. Still, we pulled out solid splits.
Mile 1: 9:40
Mile 2: 9:25
Mile 3: 9:38
Mile 4: 9:40

We were so happy to be done we jumped into the unheated freezing pool. It was deliciously cold. I climbed out and settled for dipping just my head in. Pure bliss.

Gift highlights include an incredibly bright running jacket! I'm so excited to take this back to cold, dark Ann Arbor and give it a whirl.
Also, Sam gave me this great micro-organism 'field guide' that gives details and identification information for human pathogens!! Scienceloveee :)

Now we're settling in for a family game and movie night. It's been strange but nice to be in a warm place for Christmas but I'm so glad we're here. I'm much more excited to run when it's sunny out! Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays to all !

Thursday, December 23, 2010

2 weeks without running

Apologies to all first, for the long blog hiatus.

Here's what I've been up to:

The Big House Big Chill hockey game took place a few weeks ago and covered a hockey game between Michigan and Michigan State. Michigan pulled out with a 5-0 win! Also, this game broke the world record for most people in attendance at a hockey game with 113,000 present.

My favorite part though was the sponsored curly fry goalie who helped out with rink events during commercial breaks.

Back in the world of science, I took two final exams and finished up my lab rotation. A good friend of mine defended his thesis and graduated from the PhD program! Congrats, Dr. Brian!

My desk during finals week looked like a tornado had run through it. It was my home base though, and I finished up the semester very nicely.
Finally, Sam finished up his internship in Tennessee and came home. We spent time making delicious gingerbread cookies. So fun!

But something I didn't do for 2 weeks? Run! After the Holiday Hustle 5K, I got sicker and realized I had probably pushed my cold into a sinus infection. Antibiotics and a week off of exercise helped immensely, but then it was finals week. I didn't have any time to exercise and couldn't prioritize that over my classes and research.

Finally on Monday, I got into the gym for a 2 mile run. It went well, and from this break I can say I learned the following lessons:

-The world will not end if you can't work out
-It's hard to motivate yourself if it's 20 degrees and snowy out
-Don't run when you're sick
-There are other ways to stay active. During this break I biked to work almost every day (~2miles) and did some stretches and calisthenics
-Stopping running will result in a 5lb weight reduction-- likely dwindling muscle mass

Ultimately though it was reinforced to me that weight is just a number. After being so successful this year with weight loss, I was getting annoyed that I had flatlined when I was still eating healthy and running a lot. Now I realize that I was fueling my body properly and it was maintaining itself in a healthy, fit state. As soon as I stopped doing that, I lost weight, muscle and fitness. I'm glad I have reached a healthy outlook on weight loss-- the number doesn't matter!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

holy mega blog haitus batman

whoa, it got away from me there.

it's finals week! hooray!

took my biochem exam tonight and it's now OVER.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Yesterday I was freaking out about a lot of things. This protein won't precipitate, my phone is broken, I have a cold. I left lab later than I wanted to and was angry. I biked out into a snowstorm in the dark and was NOT happy.

But as I was biking I began to realize how beautiful the world is. I've been reading The Varieties of Scientific Experience by Carl Sagan. Carl Sagan was arguably one of the best scientists and philosophers of our time and in this book he outlines his unique perspective as an astrophysicist contemplating God and death.

What he says overarchingly is this-- the world we live on is amazing, but is nothing compared to the cosmic perspective of the rest of the universe. Our place in the cosmos is quite small and the entire Earth and all who inhabit it and have ever inhabited it are just a 'pale blue dot' as he outlines in one famous speech below.

After this revelation I came home happy, refreshed and not caring about the little things that stress me out, but instead in awe of the great wonder that surrounds us.
And then I had some hot tea and hot soup and all was well :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Holiday Hustle 5K Recap!

Yesterday I woke up with a cold. That's a bad sign for a day when I have a race in 30degree weather. I spent the morning eating oatmeal, tea, and soup to prepare for the race. Once my running buddy and I got to the park where the start and finish of the Holiday Hustle 5K was, we got our bib numbers and complimentary jingle bell bracelets and we were off!
The race was pretty hard for me. I didn't feel very well but strived to maintain a good pace. My splits:
Mile 1: 9:09
Mile 2: 9:25
Mile 3: 9:15
0.1 mile: 7:15

I lost some energy in the second mile, partly due to hills and partly due to a point in the course where we had to run single file up a sidewalk! Not fun.

All in all though I absolutely smashed my 5K PR of 33:22 and raced a solid 28:26!!! I'm so proud and happy with my time, and it was a great way to end my first year of racing.

So I came home, showered, and grabbed some post run fuel-- TJ's gingerbread coffee and a huge sweet potato with toppings. I used to be so lost in the kitchen but Caitlin shows just how easy it is! From her I learned that you can pop a huge sweet potato in the microwave for 5 minutes after washing it, poking it a bunch with a fork and wrapping it in paper towel.

So easy, and so delicious! I topped mine with a little bit of butter, brown sugar, almond butter and pecans. YUM!

After dinner I hopped on my bike and biked into campus to hear Handel's Messiah. It's a body of work from the 1700's that Handel wrote taking passages exclusively from the KJV of the Bible. The piece is written for orchestra, opera singers and chorus, and did not disappoint. The picture above is taken from the Hill Auditorium, one of 3 'acoustically perfect' auditoriums in the world! It was outstanding and absolutely beautiful.

Post-concert, I came home and crashed hard. Yay for Saturday!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Biochem, baking and bigcat

This has been a crazy week for science. Luckily I have Bigcat around to help me study.
I can haz RNA structure?

I knocked out a few runs this week preparing for the Holiday Hustle. Monday I did 3 miles:
Mile 1: 9:38
Mile 2: 9:32
Mile 3: 9:37

and Tuesday I did a speed workout on the treadmill:
0.5 at 9:29
0.5 at 8:57
0.5 at 8:27
0.5 at 10:00

Additionally, to take some of the stress away from this week, I baked some wheat germ and honey bread. It turned out wonderfully, but needed more honey. What doesn't need more honey?

Yesterday I presented my final report on what I've done this semester in my lab rotation. I still have about 3 weeks left and another huge experiment to do, but it was nice to catch the lab up with what I've been doing.

Finally, I'm doing my last training run for the race on Saturday tonight! Can't wait to smash my 5K PR!

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