Road Warrior Safety

I’ve recently discovered Freakonomics, and it’s safe to say that I’ve fallen in love. I have really enjoyed all of the books, and I listen to the podcasts while walking with J. The authors definitely make me look at the world in a different way.

One of the podcasts I listened to lately was about motor vehicle accidents involving the death of pedestrians. Data from 2012 show that there about 4,500 pedestrian deaths in the US annually. That’s a huge number, and far too big.

When I heard that, my mind quickly went to my friends and family who love to run, walk and bike this time of year. After long Northeast Ohio winters, we can’t wait to put on our sneakers and hit the pavement. But it’s the reality that we share the road with vehicles – lots of them. I’ve had some closer-than-I’d-like experiences with cars while biking, running and walking, so I wanted to share safety tips for all users of our roadways – whether you’re in a car or not.

Safety Tips for Runners and Walkers

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– I hate this one, but it is recommended that you do not wear headphones, especially if you’re going to be running or walking on the road.

– Remember to run/walk against traffic, so you can see what is coming. Never run down the middle of the road.

– Carry your ID and a cell phone. I love these Road ID bracelets. You never know what could happen, and in case of an emergency, having your ID information could be life-saving.

– Stop at stop signs to ensure traffic yields to you. Never assume cars will stop for you, even if you are in a cross walk.

– If you’re running at night or early in the morning, be sure to wear bright, reflective clothing. Avoid head-to-toe dark clothing.

– Running with a friend or group is great and can be very motivating, but be courteous – and safe: don’t run more than two abreast.

Safety Tips for Bikers

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Keep in mind: Bicyclist on public roads have the same rights and responsibilities as car drivers. They are also subject to the same state laws and local ordinances.

– Ride with traffic, not against it.

– Obey all stop signs, yield signs and traffic lights.

– Use hand signals for turns. This alerts drivers of your directional intention and helps keep you safe – and it’s the law.

– Don’t weave in and out of parked cars, even if they are in the way. Motorists may not see you when you try to move back into the flow of traffic.

– When riding at night or early in the morning, be sure your bike has good lights. Front light, wheel and pedal reflectors are a good idea – and often required by law. A rear red light wouldn’t hurt either. Again, as with running and walking, wear light-colored and/or reflective clothing.

– Always ride in a single-file line.

– And of course, always wear a helmet!

 

 

Be safe out there, friends!

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Tips to Start Off a Healthy Week

Last week, I got the OK from my doctor to start exercising again (yay!). I haven’t been able to work out at all since October, so I’m anxious to get back into my running shoes and back into shape. I’ve signed up for the Bike MS Pedal to the Point, I’m going to play in the Blondes vs. Brunettes Powder Puff Football game to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association, and I’m considering doing a duathlon in late July. Is it obvious I’m trying to make up for lost times? 🙂

Of course, being excited about getting back into shape and actually getting back into shape are two very different things. I’ve heard time and time again that planning is key to starting a healthy lifestyle, however, this is where I always fall short. If the best intentions got a person in shape, I would be running a marathon every weekend. Unfortunately, that is not the case. So in honor of the first Sunday of operation “Whitney Gets Back Her Fitness Mojo”, I wanted to share a list of must-do steps to kick off a healthy week (via Fitsugar).

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1. Plan your meals. What do you mean a glass of wine and a bag of chips isn’t a healthy dinner? Planning meals in advance is key for me: I’m too often tempted to grab take out or eat junk food for dinner, especially when life gets hectic. Before I go grocery shopping, I scour my Pinterst boards (here and here) to pick some recipes I want to try and then fill out my meal planning template (here: Meal Planning blank). I also like to prep as many meals as I can on Sunday – this decreases the likelihood that I won’t skip making a healthy dinner because I’m too tired.

2. Prep your kitchen. I love this article’s tip about putting smoothie ingredients in individual bags. Part of the reason I don’t make smoothies as much as I should is because they take some work, so I’m definitely going to prep these bags in advance. Now if only someone would invent a self-cleaning blender…

3. Stock up on work snacks. If you’re like me, you tend to fall victim to the 3:00 slump. Low energy makes me grab for the nearest candy dish or vending machine snack. Bad news for fueling a healthy body. So prepare for this and make sure you have nutritious snacks at the ready. Just make sure they are snacks you actually like, or you won’t be satisfied and end up reaching for that brownie anyway.

4. Schedule exercise. Any trainer will tell you that the best way to fit in a workout is to treat it like a meeting or date. Actually writing a workout down in your calendar makes it much more likely you will keep your commitment. I’m horrible at this. Simply terrible. I too often treat exercise as low-priority – I fit it in after I’ve done everything else, so it doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should. For me, signing up for a race and setting a training schedule keeps me on track. I also follow the girls from Tone It Up! – they put out a weekly exercise schedule with toning moves and training tips.

5. Pack your gym bag. This all but guarantees you will have everything you need to get your workout on, which means you’ll be less likely to skip a workout. Plus, by packing your bag in advance you can make sure you look totally fierce for your workout. Looking good = feeling good.

6. Take time for yourself. Most of us are probably thinking, “Yeah right.”  But seriously, taking time to re-energize and relax is important. It makes us better friends, spouses and parents. I really like to read, catch up on my DVR or chat with a friend. With a glass of wine, of course 🙂

Here’s to a healthy week!

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Nashville Half 2013

I can’t believe it – but the Nashville marathon is over. For nearly five months, I was looking forward to the weekend I would get to spend in Nashville, and boy, that city did not disappoint. The weekend was filled with the good, the bad and the ugly. Fortunately, most of it was good, so the bad and the ugly are easy to forget.

We got to Nashville on Friday evening and headed straight to the expo. After we picked up our packets and got our beer garden bracelets, it was off to dinner. This is how we felt about McFadden’s, where we ended up for dinner:

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Horrible service. Terrible food. Good beer, though, from what Ryan told us. Not our best decision of the weekend.

Saturday morning was race day! I woke up feeling nauseous, which was due to a combination of nerves and McFadden’s food.

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Sleepy – but ready to run!

The morning only got worse when we saw it was raining pretty steadily. Since we had to walk about a mile to get to the race shuttles, we asked the hotel for large trash bags to wear. This game-time decision ended up being the smartest thing we could have done, because the rain did not stop. The entire race. In fact, it got much worse. We even saw lightening and heard thunder at one point. Not exactly what you want to be going on at mile 9.

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On the shuttle to the start line. Look at those smiles – so innocent

Unfortunately, I was miserable the entire time. The weather only compounded my hurt knee and lack of training. I can never thank Katie enough for sticking with me the whole time – and somehow smiling throughout. Despite the rain, there were a few things that made me happy during the race:

1. The people watching the race. I mean, WOW – you all deserve some sort of medal. The runners chose to be out in weather like that, but the spectators did not. I could not believe how many people were out there cheering, soaking wet with smiling faces. You all kept us going, and for that, we say THANK YOU!

2. The fact that Danni Allen was running the race too. That’s right: the winner of last season’s The Biggest Loser ran her first half-marathon in Nashville. And you know how big of a fan I am. I didn’t get to see her – but just the thought of maybe bumping into her kept me going. You can read more about that (and the marathon in general) here.

3. The spectator signs. I’ve run in and been a spectator for marathons in several cities, and I’ve noticed that the signs just keep getting better and better. We saw the usual (“Worst parade ever” and “Run, Complete Stranger, Run!”), but there were a few that I had never seen before that made me smile when I wanted to cry. Here were some of my favorites:

Chuck Norris never ran a marathon.

Don’t stop – people are watching.

Free bacon for runners.
(Katie didn’t see this one, but when I told her about it after the race, she informed me she would have stopped for that free bacon had she seen it.)

Your pace or mine?

Running: cheaper than plastic surgery.

There were many more that I can’t remember right now, but the fans of the Nashville marathon did not disappoint. I will say it again: THANK YOU!

Saturday afternoon involved eating pizza and napping. Then it was time for Jimmy Buffett! We went to Rippy’s, a bar on Broadway, before the show. There was a live band playing, and as soon as I saw the fiddle player I about squealed: it was Brad Paisley’s fiddle player, Justin! Brad Paisley has been my favorite country artist for 10+ years, and I’ve seen him and his band in concert enough to know what they look like. I was so excited! When the band took a break, one of the braver souls in our group went over to him. I’m not sure what he said, but somehow he got Justin to come over to talk to us. He was seriously so nice, and genuinely flattered that we knew him. He was nice enough to get a few pictures with us:

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And if one celebrity spotting wasn’t enough, the next day we walked out of our hotel to this:

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Filming an episode of “Nashville”

The crew of the show “Nashville” was filming some scenes RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET from our hotel. I danced when I saw this. Seriously. Unfortunately, no one else with me at the time likes the show, so they only let me gawk for a few minutes. How cool is that?!

I had so much fun with my cube-mate and fellow blogger, Amy. I’m going to miss spending too much time talking about Nashville, but I’m sure we’ll find something else to keep us busy. 🙂

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I spent most of my time with this pretty lady:

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This post would be obnoxiously long if I wrote about everything we did, so I’ll spare you all. Which is a shame, because we sure had fun!

And of course, I enjoyed the weekend with Ryan. Seeing him on the sidelines of the marathon is the only time I actually cried during the race. I would like to say they were mostly tears of joy, but that would be a lie. Thanks so much for your love and support these past months, babe!

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The day we’ve all been waiting for…

Or should I say, the day me, several of my co-workers and Katie have been waiting for!

That’s right – the Nashville marathon is this Saturday. Oh, brother!

I’m so excited!

I’m so pumped!

I’m so nervous I could throw up.

This past month has been a mix of emotions, to say the least, and this week has been no different, so my nerves are all over the place. I know on a scale of 1 to borderline panicky, I score pretty high when it comes to being nervous (and blowing things out of proportion). But I can’t be the only one who gets anxious before a race…right?

True to form, life threw a few curve balls at me during my training. So unfortunately, I won’t be running the 9:30 pace I was pushing for. However, I made COMMITMENT my word of the year, and I am still committed to this race. And no matter what my time is, I still have Jimmy Buffett to look forward to, where, to borrow a phrase from a Florida Georgia Line song, I’ll be worrying about nothing except what’s in my glass!

See you later, Ohio! I’m on my way to Tennessee.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day (Almost)!

I’m not Irish, but St. Patty’s Day will always make me smile. While I don’t participate in the craziness like I did when I was in college, I still remember those days vividly. Cleveland has one of the biggest St. Patty’s day parades / festivals in the country (over 500,000 people were there last year!), and I got to spend several with some of my best friends from the ‘Berg.

St. Patty's Day 2006 - our senior year of college!
St. Patty’s Day 2006 – our senior year of college!
St. Patty's Day 2007 - freezing weather didn't stop us from celebrating!
St. Patty’s Day 2007 – freezing weather didn’t stop us from celebrating!

These days, March 17 is extra special to me, because it’s the day my darling Sarge was born. Happy 3rd birthday, Sargie!

Smile, birthday boy!
Smile, birthday boy!


I spent today working (not fun) and then running (again, not fun), so I’m off to celebrate with my friend and fellow CPA (and blogger), Amy. Are martinis Irish? Well, they are today!

Hope everyone has a safe and happy St. Patty’s Day!

My latest obsession and other randoms

Are you all tired of reading about races, signing up for races and training for races? If so, I apologize. I know running has taken over this blog lately, but it’s very hard to not blog about the things going on in my life right now. My world is mostly revolving around taxes, sleeping and running (in that order), and since I’m pretty sure blogging about taxes and sleeping would make you all run away screaming and/or bore you to death, I’ve chosen to post about running. So…here’s another. 🙂

While I was reading my usual blogs the other night, I ran across one post about an e-newsletter called Blood, Sweat and Cheers (BSC). As the blogger put it:

“BSC is a fun-loving email newsletter packed with off-the-wall activities, fitness events, workouts, and other ways to make the everyday more interesting”

I was immediately interested, so I signed up for the newsletter. It didn’t take long until I was sucked into the site. I swear, almost every article intrigued me. And once I’m intrigued, there’s no turning back. The articles I read included “Wine Country Races”, “5 Worst Fitness Myths” and “The Best Ale Trails”, among many, many others.

Tough Mudder and The Color Run move over – this site has some of the craziest (in a good way) races I’ve ever heard of! And the fitness tips and resources are great.

Are you a fan of having fun, enjoying adult cocktails and challenging your body (separately or all at the same time)? Me too. So, if you’re interested, you can sign up for the newsletter here.

And while we’re talking about crazy-themed races, I want to give a shout-out for a race happening in Central Ohio this summer. The brother of one of my best friends, Katielynn, is one of the organizers of the The Run of Nightmares, happening August 17, 2013. I support my friends in anything they do, so I told Katielynn I’d run it with her. I’m already having heart palpitations thinking about this race; it sounds exactly like the stuff my nightmares are made of. But anything in the name of friendship!

You're lucky I love you, Katielynn...
You’re lucky I love you, Katielynn…

And finally, can you all make a little wish that the weather for Northeast Ohio improves before Sunday? My running buddy / dear friend Katie and I are running a St. Patty’s day race, and right now, the weather is looking pretty brrrrrrrr:

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If not for us, I hope the weather improves for the hundreds of thousands of people who will be in downtown Cleveland on Sunday. It’s not as fun to celebrate the day when everyone is Irish in the freezing cold. Fingers crossed for 40+ degrees and sunshine!

I’d be lying if I said…

1. … I’m not at all grateful for my awesome co-workers.

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As any citizen of the U-S-of-A knows, tax season is in full swing. For those in the CPA world, that means spending more time with co-workers than family and friends, in a very stressful work environment. When things are at their worst work-wise, sometimes the only thing that can make it better is being surrounded by others who just GET IT. And it helps when those people are fun, witty and cool. I’m very fortunate to have a good group of co-workers who fit into that category. This week, a small group of us left work at 6:00 (gasp!!) to celebrate one of our own becoming an official U.S. citizen. We waved miniature flags through dinner, drawing many looks from other dining patrons. To welcome Remo as a citizen, we got him a “survival” kit, complete with a red, white and blue skull-cap, a box of knock-off brand Twinkies (Hostess, we miss you!), a trucking magazine and a tall can of Busch Light. Welcome to America, Remo!

And can I just say how awesome the people at The Rail were on Wednesday? Several other diners came over to congratulate Remo and shake his hand. That’s the America I know and love!

2. … I didn’t shave off 5:30 minutes from my previous 5K time.

That’s right: I have cut my 5K time to 5:30 faster than my first one of 2013. How happy does this make me?

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VERY HAPPY!

To be fair, my first 5K of the year was just a “let’s see where I’m at with this running stuff” test run, since I hadn’t run in over 8 months. I am not the kind of person who can just run 3.2 miles right off the bat, so that first 5K including some walking. I still did it in 33 minutes, so I was happy with that. But today, I did a 5K in 27:29, so I was SO VERY VERY VERY HAPPY about that. So happy that I don’t even care that my hair looked like that when I was done (scary). More so, I’m proud of myself for sticking with my new year’s resolution to become the gym rat I once was. Now that I’m seeing results, I’m extra motivated to stick with it. Nashville will be here in just over 9 weeks (ohmygosh)!

3. … I’m not going celebrate National Margarita Day.

Because you can bet your bottom dollar I am. It’s cinco o’clock somewhere!

4. … I’m not going to miss these two sweet faces like crazy next week.

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Ryan and I have decided to send Sarge and Gunner to a trainer for a week to get Gunner all squared away with obedience training and to work on some social anxiety issues my little Sargie has been having. Being dog-free for a week will be nice (No midnight potty breaks! We’ll have the whole bed to ourselves!), but man, I am going to miss those little guys so much. I’m sure my husband will have to deal with a weepy Whitney when we drop them off tomorrow morning.

5. … I’m not looking forward to the Oscars on Sunday.

YES! The Oscars are here! This is a big night for movie fans. I wrote about how much I enjoy this particular awards show last year, and we’ll be doing the same ballot contest in the Bowers house again this year (Here is a printable ballot, if you want to get in on the fun). I have no idea what the winner will get this year – but I’m going to make sure it’s good, since I don’t plan on losing. 🙂