Monday, May 31, 2010

Digging for Bones & New 5K PR!!!!

I apologize for my lack of posts, but this weekend I have been trying really hard to work on my candidacy.  I have to admit that I am finding it especially hard to focus, although I do feel like I have made significant progress.  I am taking a short break from writing that in order to post a blog then go for a little break in the hot tub.

Last Thursday Caitlin and I ran 2.15 miles at an easy 11:24 pace.  Her knee was still bothering her unfortunately.

Friday was a pretty exciting day.  First let me give you a little back story.  It is known that pigs are very similar to humans in the way they decompose, and that they have skin and teeth that are very similar to humans.  For this reason, about three or four years ago, our lab buried a pig (fondly named Napoleon after the book Animal Farm) for a decomposition study.  The research for that particular decomposition study lasted I'd say about a year.  Since then, Napoleon has rested in peace.... until this past Friday.  You see, our lab is now working on another research project and those involved in the project felt it may be helpful to study Napoleon's bones. 

When I started my undergraduate degree in forensic science, I was very excited about a forensic anthropology class that was offered.  In the past, the professor of that class would bury pigs (after they were dressed up and planted with "evidence"), and the class would have to go out and look for signs of a "grave" then proceed with setting up the "crime scene" and digging for the "body".  While I realize many of you will find this completely disgusting, as a forensic science major I was really looking forward to the famous "pig dig".  Unfortunately, beginning the year that I took the class, funding was cut and we ended up digging up fake skeletons.  While it was great to not have to deal with any smells, it was also disappointing.

This is why I was excited about Friday and digging up Napoleon.  While I am not working on the new project, I was able to tag along to dig up Napoleon since I assisted in his burial a few years ago.  Caitlin (my running partner, friend, and co-worker), our adviser, an undergraduate, and I set out with shovels, bug spray, gloves, and bags.  The area where we buried Napoleon was overgrown with all types of plants including blueberries.  We initially dug in the wrong spot, but we eventually found Napoleon's grave.  After a lot of digging and laying the dirt, we eventually found our pig.  I was quite shocked that we still found skin and lots of fat (and quite a disgusting smell).  I honestly thought that the pig would have been reduced to nothing but bones by this point, especially in Florida.  We were laying on our stomachs in the dirt, pulling out bones that were rather spongy and other remains.  Luckily I was wearing gloves, when I accidentally stuck my hand into his skull.  We collected several bones, including the skull, and filled in the hole before heading back to the lab.

Caitlin and I had packed a change of clothes, but neither of us had remembered to pack the necessities for taking a shower at the gym.  We drove to a nearby Walgreens and picked up the essentials, only Walgreens happened to be sold out of towels.  We ended up purchasing $2 extra large t-shirts to act as towels.  It was actually pretty amusing.  That was about all of the excitement for Friday.

Saturday morning Chris and I woke up very early to meet with Caitlin, Ryan, and my office mate, Bala, to run The First Baptist Church Greater Oviedo 5K.  Since we signed up early, we got awesome bright red tech shirts!  This was Bala's first race, and I was excited for him.  I have not been training for speed, so earlier in the week I was pretty bummed about the idea of not setting a new PR.  That morning I was feeling especially great, had just downloaded some new songs to my iPod, and started to think that I just might be able to PR.  I knew what pace I needed to keep (my last PR had a pace of 8:53), and I kept an eye on Garmy the entire time.  Just after mile two, I was starting to pass a gentleman who clearly was having a great time and looked like a marathoner to me.  He joked around with me and was very encouraging when I told him my goal.  Sure enough, I beat my old 5K time by just over 30 seconds!  This was the same race where I got my last PR, and this year followed the same route.  This race does not use chip timing, so I am basing my times off of my Garmin.

Last year's PR:   27:37

My new 5K PR:  27:05 average pace of 8:43
Mile 1:  8:33 (there was a lot of downhill)
Mile 2:  8:52 (was fending off a small cramp)
Mile 3:  8:48
Last 0.1 (which of course is uphill):  8:02

I was soooooo excited!  I even beat Chris (only because he hasn't had much time to run)!  My new goal is to be sub 27 minutes!  Caitlin also ran a great time, and naturally her boyfriend Ryan beat us all.  He is fast!  Bala also did great!  I was really impressed with his time!  After the race Caitlin, Ryan, Chris and I went to IHOP.

Between all the digging for the pig and the race, I am feeling sore all over (and itchy from some killer bug bites).  Chris and made a trip to the hot tub yesterday, which really helped, and we are going back in a little bit.  I love hot tubs!  For the rest of the weekend, I have been working at a leisurely pace on my candidacy.  As I mentioned, I have been having issues trying to focus.  Last night we went out to dinner at The Cheesecake Factory for our friend Tonya's birthday (two years ago we went skydiving for her b-day).  After dinner, we went to see the movie Ironman 2.  I love Robert Downey Jr.  I have loved him since the movie Only You.

I hope you all are having a wonderful weekend!  I am afraid I am very behind on blog reading, but I plan to catch up a bit this evening when I can no longer write.

Now for some pictures (if you do not wish to see pig bones, do not scroll down):

Caitlin and I digging

I had a crappy shovel

The mandible

The skull

Jes, Caitlin, and Liz

Caitlin, Ryan being silly, Myself, and Chris

Love the pizza guy!

Caitlin, myself, Chris, and Bala
My favorite part of the race is the kids fun run!  They all wear the number 1 and get medals at the end.
Dinner at Cheesecake Factory for Tonya's Birthday
The Birthday Girl at right

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Stop stressing! Question for the marathoners out there, please help!

Monday night I attended my youngest sister's final chorus concert, as I mentioned previously.  It was absolutely wonderful!  After the concert, I briefly met up with some family friends before heading back to Orlando.  I did not get home until after midnight, then I had to be at work early in the morning.  Needless to say, I was pretty tired yesterday! 

After work, I went to meet with a Natural Health Educator who was recommended to me.  I had spoken with her on the phone previously and hoped that she could point out areas where I am deficient in vitamins and minerals in hopes that something will cure my tinnitus.  I have to admit that I was disappointed by the appointment.  Her methods of determining my deficiencies were not as scientific as I had hoped.  I did however walk away with some useful knowledge about different vitamins, minerals, and their effect on the body.  I  learned that the ridges on my finger nails mean I am deficient in vitamins and minerals.  While taking supplements of vitamins and minerals may be best by purchasing them separately, since not everyone needs the same amounts of every vitamin and mineral, I cannot afford to spend the $100+ that was quoted to me for a month or two supply of recommended products.  What I am going to do for now is purchase a good multivitamin and actually take it every day.  I am embarrassed to admit that I have not been very good about remembering to take a multivitamin daily, but I intend to change that starting right now.

The number one lesson is that I need to stop stressing!  She said she could sense a lot of stress in me, which I have to say is not uncommon.  I am usually quite stressed.  While part of this comes with being a graduate student, I do tend to worry about little things more than most people.  I am going to make a conscious effort to relax more.  Since I have very recently been plagued with poor sleep, I decided I need to really help myself relax before bed.  Last night I took a warm shower, sipped a cup of warm chamomile mint tea ,and did a 23 minute yoga video from ExerciseTV.  Then I did some extra stretching and deep breathing.  It really helped!  I slept much better than I have been! 

I think that the combination of a daily vitamin, more yoga and relaxation meditation, and allowing myself to not stress over the little things (easier said than done, but I'll work on it) will go a long way.  I would love to take all the supplements she recommended, but it does not financially work for me right now.  And honestly, I want a more scientific determination of what I am missing.  I plan to regularly take the vitamins for a month then go to my doctor for blood work to determine in what I am deficient. 

Oh yes, on Tuesday my Operation Beautiful hoodie arrived (I had it shipped to Caitlin's since she ordered one as well), along with a beautiful handwritten thank you note!  I love personal touches!  I encourage you to check out other times and to support Katherine in her effort to raise money for her 3 Days 60 Miles adventure.

For those of you who haven't seen it yet, earlier today I had my first guest post by my friend and co-worker, Caitlin.  She and her boyfriend, Ryan, ran the Warrior Dash race in Georgia this past weekend.  You can read her fun race recap and see awesome muddy pictures here.

This morning, Caitlin and I  had an easy run, since her knee was really bothering her.  I hope her knee feels better soon, because we have a 5k this weekend. 2.15 miles in 24:47.

Now a question for all of the marathoners out there.  I am running my first marathon on February 13, 2011.  I really want to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon, but the date has been moved up to February 27 (exactly 2 weeks later).  Do you think I'll be able to run the half marathon?  Registration begins in July, and if I'm going to sign up I will have to do it right away to get a spot.  But I don't want to sign up and pay for it if the odds of my running it are lousy.  I understand that I will not be running it for a record time, but do you think it will be possible to run it for fun?  I would love to know your opinions!  Thank you!

Happy Hump Day!

Guest post by Caitlin! Warrior Dash Race Recap!!!

This is my very first guest post, by my dear friend Caitlin.  This past weekend she and her boyfriend ran the Warrior Dash race in Mountain City, GA. (Note:  The photos at the end are out of order, because the new photo uploader is a pain in the rear.)  Here is her race recap:

Hey everyone, I’m Jessica’s friend and coworker Caitlin.  She asked me to be a guest blogger on her site to tell you all about the crazy race my boyfriend convinced me to do this past weekend.  I have Jes to thank for meeting Ryan.  A year ago we all went on a cruise, he and I were invited on the cruise from mutual friends, and it was all downhill from there.  We just reached the one year mark, and instead of something normal and sweet to celebrate he convinced me to do the Warrior Dash in Mountain City, GA.  So we made a trip up for the race.  Don’t worry it wasn’t all crazy, we did do the gushy one year celebration by stopping at B&B in St. Augustine and Savannah.  From there we went up to Brevard, NC for some hiking before the race.  If anyone gets a chance to make it out to any of these places you should definitely take advantage.  Brevard has beautiful hiking trails and waterfalls, definitely a must see!!!

The Warrior Dash in Mountain City, GA was so popular this year that they had to open up two days for the race.  They had waves of 500 people starting every half hour from 10am -5:30 pm both days!!!!  Needless to say it was complete madness at the site.  Now with a race name like Warrior Dash it is expected there will be quite some characters.  We saw a little bit of everything in the way of costumes and beards.  Some of my favorites included:  a man in a wedding dress with 4 of his male friends in pink bridesmaid dresses; little bo peep (staff and bonnet included); domestic warriors, complete with apron, rollers, and cleaning gloves; and the safety men in yellow safety vests and orange and white underwear.  Those are just some of the costumes that slightly scarred me!!!  Ryan and I dressed up as warriors, but I don’t think we were anywhere close to being in the running for best costume.

The website says the course was 3.22 miles…I can’t confirm or deny since the idea of a Garmin surviving the mud pit was insane.  Ryan and I were in the 2:30 pm wave, so it was a little warm when we started.  The race started with about a half mile run up some hills and around a lake.  The first obstacle was to walk halfway over a muddy lake on planks of wood and then swim (or wade) the rest of the lake.  I was ready to tackle the obstacle…until I took one step to find the plank and nearly lost my shoe in the mud.  From there on it was a slippery, muddy rest of the afternoon.  We made it across the plank and the rest of the lake with little issue.  On the other side of the water was where I took my first and surprisingly only fall.  We went through an obstacle of tires, which doesn’t seem so hard until you consider that a ton of other people have made the tires nice a slippery with mud prior to our arrival.  I am still waiting for the awesome bruise that I am sure is coming from the slip.  We went up and over the three walls that followed the tires without a problem and began running up some more hills.  After the lake, Ryan’s kilt was weighted down and decided it did not want to stay up, so he ditched it after the walls…luckily he had shorts on underneath and was not wearing it traditionally!!!  We scaled a wall with muddy shoes and then went up and over a cargo net wall with minor slips and stumbles.  That led us into a car graveyard where we had to maneuver our way over and through car skeletons.  After a quick crawl through a tunnel, we were off running again through muddy trails and winding hills.  The last three obstacles were in a row leading to the finish line…starting with the mud pit.  If you didn’t come out of it covered from head to toe in mud the crowd was not happy!!!  Ryan and I took waterproof cameras to collect pictures throughout the race, but they were as covered in mud as we were after the mud pit.  A nice romp through the water and over the floating logs cleaned us and our cameras off just a little bit.  The last few meters of the race led us to the part I feared the most…the fire pits!!!  Now if you ask Jes she will tell you just how klutzy I am, I had feared an ill timed trip and fall straight into the fire pits since Ryan convinced me of this race.  Luckily no falls occurred and I finished the race with minimal scratches and no burns!!!  

My parents were waiting with cameras to capture the muddy goodness of us at the finish line.  Ryan was ready for the beer and I was ready for a bath.  We jumped in the lake to clean off, but that didn’t nearly get the mud out of all the many places it managed to get to.  Some very smart people on the way out of the race area were offering use of their hose for a dollar for two people.  We chuckled at people using the hose down their shirts and pants on the way in, but we had no shame at the end and took a turn with the hose.

I strongly recommend this race to everyone, it was lots of fun!!!  Just make sure to take clothes you plan to ditch because I don’t think the mud will ever come out!!! 

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Starting Line
After the mud pits!
Headed toward the mud pit

Tire obstacle = first fall
Water pits, nearing the finish line
Leaping over fire
Finished!!! And Muddy!
Donating the shoes
Arrrg Warriors!
Leaping over walls
Tackling the cars
Scaling the wall
The mud pits!
And the white squirrel from Brevard!

Monday, May 24, 2010

My weekend complete with fantastic art and the meeting of the parents

This blog is going to be short and sweet, since I am about to go to my sister's chorus concert.  I followed my mom back to Jax last night, so I could attend my sister's last chorus concert this evening.  She is so talented!

This past weekend my mom came down to visit, and Chris's parents came up to visit and our parents got to meet for the first time.  We all went to a local Art Festival and Wine Stroll to meet up with one of my favorite local artists, Rob Kaz.  He had a Facebook contest, and I was one of the winners.  I won a free print of one of his latest pieces of art that has that adorable little frog character I love.  The print is called "Piggyback" and has the frog sitting on top a turtle's shell.  So cute!  I also purchased two other prints titled "Hey Me" and "Lazy Rain" to add to my collection

Chris and I had fun showing my mom some of our favorite places as well as just relaxing at home.  It was a really great trip, and I was sad when the weekend ended.  Although I did get to extend my weekend by an extra day in order to go to my sister's concert. 

As far as running goes, I am glad I ran Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of last week, because I could not wake up early on Saturday.  My mom's arrival was delayed due to a terrible accident on I-4, so our plans were shifted, and I did not go to bed early on Friday.   Luckily I did get my three days of running last week.  I decided that I wanted to run on Sunday and really should have set my alarm for early in the morning.  Unfortunately, I did not run until 11 am, and my planned 5 miler turned into a 3 miler.  Despite the fact that I was carrying water, I was so very hot by the time I made it to my three mile stop at a local park that I decided to call Chris and have him come pick me up.  I will not try to run at that hour again, especially not in 90 degree weather.

Mile 1:  10:03
Mile 2:  9:57
Mile 3:  10:32 (included a short walk break... that was when I started to feel over-heated)

Oops, I have to cut this short, because it is time for the concert!  I hope that you all have had a wonderful weekend!

Rob Kaz painting
I get so nervous meeting celebrities. LOL
Aren't they pretty??

More talented artists

Good music

There were lots of cute pups!

Me and my mommy
Me and my sweetie

My mom, Chris's parents, his sister Jessica, and her friend Chris
(two Jessicas and two Chris's!)
This man paints with coffee!
The Florida alligator
Chris's mom picked up some cute accessories for her pups.  Check out Nacho's sombrero!