Thursday, October 27, 2011

Happy Trees & Running Buddies

I've been so consumed with trees for the painting I was commissioned for this week, that I've completely tapped out all of my usual wit and charm (ha) for a blog. Honestly, blogging has been the last thing on my mind and the only reason I'm writing this is so you all don't think I hopped on the crazy train after my 90+ laps on the gym track.

My fellow rats
Ever since I got the request for this painting, happy trees are all I can think about. I've youtubed all kinds of tree painting videos and watched them over and over. I've practiced painting trees, I've painted trees on my elbows (oops), and finally, I got up the courage and started the actual painting. I will be soooo happy when I finish this thing. Why oh why did my first commissioned painting have to be of a far-away picture full of trees! I hate trees! Ah well, its forcing me to learn them so that's a plus.

Anyway, before I lost my mind to Bob Ross, I painted a duplicate of "Savannah Sunset" (yes mom, I changed the name just for you). A friend had mentioned they were interested in buying it, and since the original is going to the auction, I made another one. Painting a duplicate, particularly right after painting the original is kind of a pain. Its like, been there, done that, time to make something new. But I think it turned out pretty good. One day when I'm famous, I'll be able to have copies made of my paintings made straight to canvas...just like Disney does.

This one is a bit more sunsetty...put them together and it kind of looks like a time lapse photo of the sunset!

The one on the left is the duplicate
And this Saturday, I get to run with my running buddy from back home for the first time since April! Seems I'm not the only one having an injury-filled year. I can't wait! Before I moved away, he was my personal Dr. Phil, surrogate father and insanity enabler. He's dragged me through swampy trails, run with me through fire alarms (if its a real fire they'd tell us to leave) and even let me get mascara all over his shirt when I had sweat in my eyes. Even now, when I have an awesome (or crappy) run, I call him to dissect it.  Though it will probably be an indoor run of rat circles, I can't wait!

Headlamps are the new black

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pumpkins & Painting

This weekend was so busy,  passing out on the couch to Dr. Oz sounded much better than my 9 miles plus lifting and crunching plans for this afternoon. But, I sucked it up and got chased by every dog in the neighborhood, at a 7:44/mi pace, without pain. I wish it were faster, but I have to keep reminding myself that taking it easy was all part of my recovery plan, and I've barely really gotten back out there. And it was windy today.

Saturday was the Pumpkin Festival in Circleville. After 1.5 hours to get there, 2 hours in traffic (with an Escalade in the backseat the whole time), only to wade through hourdes of people, we have decided that no pumpkin waffle or fudge is tasty enough for a return visit. And that waffle was no waffle, it was a chip!

Award winning pumpkins
Sunday was our annivesary, and what better way to celebrate one year of wedded bliss than by painting in your pjs and greasy hair while your groom watches a Storage Wars marathon? We did end up cleaning ourselves up and went to a nice dinner last night to celebrate (followed by an over-dressed grocery run).
Ok, dinner's over, time for sugar!

And the best news? Friday I got commissioned to paint not one but two paintings! My first commissions! One for a friend at work, another for a friend at The Turtle's work. I'm so excited I can hardly stand it! And this weekend I worked on one I'd been wanting to do for awhile. I call it 'Everything the Light Touches'

My Rafiki drawing, to be traced onto canvas
the process

"Everything the Light Touches"

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Happily Ever After

Once upon a time, a fairy met a turtle...
They don't call me Tink for nothin!
I fell for the hair

It was love at first sight and they spent the next  years watching Ghost Adventures, frolicking on Hawaiian and Ohio beaches, driving through the Metroparks and falling more madly in love with eachother. Until finally the Turtle got up his courage (or was still out of it from running his first ever race, the 2010 Disney World Half Marathon), and asked the fairy to be his forever...

01/11/10 Polynesian Resort, Walt Disney World
And one year ago today, October 23, 2010, the Fairy and the Turtle started their Happily Ever After

lucky race shoes

Happy Anniversary Turtle, I love you.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Madness Continues...

I know its not a full moon, so what's come over me? I have had crazy bursts of inspiration this week! First, I painted the 'Hawaiian Night' painting in 2 hours on Monday, and then Wednesday I completed yet another painting!

And if that wasn't enough, I ran 10 miles yesterday! Yes, 10 miles. Because I didn't take a lap counter with me on the track and counted laps on my make sure I got miscount, I did an extra mile. (Am I absolutely sure I did lap 64?) Have to be safe, you know!

The run felt pretty good, only a little sore on my upper thigh today. I tried to take it slower, but I couldn't resist whipping by the Air Force guys doing their PT time.

So, I finished this painting that I'm really excited about. I think I finally found my "thing": silhouettes contrasting with bright, colorful backgrounds.

Getting some love from my giraffes
 This time I sketched my silhouettes on paper and cut them out to trace on the canvas first, to avoid the paint covering them up on the canvas like last time.

And after stressing all day about how I was going to make that tree......

Savannah Nights

That's it for the auction. I already have a ton of ideas for other paintings I'm going to do to add to my collection to one day sell/show.

Don't forget, if you're interested in this or the 'Hawaiian Night' painting, or just want to help out with a good cause, the Bring Eli Home Auction is Nov. 5th, in Akron.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bring Eli Home Auction

If you're like me and get your news from E! and TMZ, you might not have heard the story of a little boy from Akron, Ohio who was abducted by his father to Turkey (read Eli's story) . His mother, Sarah Edwards, has been fighting hard to bring him back home. On Nov. 5th, there will be a Benefit Art Auction held in Akron to raise money for her efforts. A friend of mine asked me Monday if I would like to donate a painting for the auction. I immediately said yes!

Then I realized one small, teensy little detail. I'd have to pick one! Just a minor detail for an artist trying to make it big. Suddenly, each and every one of them seemed too precious to part with. What if Disney finally finds my email and comes calling for one of them? What if an empty wall sprouts up and I have a place to hang them? How can I part with my Little Mermaid piece which resulted in a pink TV remote (Nick really under appreciates its beauty).

I started attaching sentiment to all of my canvas babies...Hmmm, this is starting to sound like my failed attempts to donate stuffed animals as a kid. Now I completely understand why Wyland (my favorite painter) asks interview questions to prospective purchasers! It's not to see if they can afford his steep prices, no no no! It's to make sure they're going to a good home!

After flat out shooting down my mom's suggestion of just painting a new one (I have no time, I whined), I raced to Michael's like a bat out of hell, and bought a new canvas. In what has got to be a personal record, I completed 3/4 of a painting in 1 evening of Dancing With The Stars, finishing the last bit last night.

So much for being able to see the black paint thru the colors

All in 1 episode of Dancing With The Stars


I was so impressed by my own speed, that I started another painting for the auction last night while this one was drying! I don't know what's come over me! Now all I need to do if come up with a name for the piece, I'm thinking Hawaiian Night?

And of course, all of this is for a good cause. Hopefully my painting will make a difference in bringing Eli home!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sangria, Sweaters and Ice

Everyone have a nice weekend? I adore my 3 days off from working out. Doing a 2 in-a-row at the gym for Wed. and Thurs. is rough, but it is so worth it when Friday after work I can simply go home. Priceless. However, those who know me know I never truly take a day off from working out. Besides my endless amount of crunches, pushups and weights at the gym on workout days, every morning I do 75-100 ab rolls on my ab wheel (After breaking my 7th Ab Roller, I’ve switched to the Ab Wheel. So much better!). And on my non-running days (or lately, non-biking days) I do 5 minutes of the hula.

That’s right. I do the hula. It’s completely embarrassing and I forbid anyone from watching my hip-swiveling display (well, except the neighbors up at 6 am because I hardly ever shut the drapes. I have no shame with strangers).

With my collection of broken ab rollers

I'm fairly certain I can't break this one

TMI, I know! Anyway, it was a nice weekend full of new sweaters, Sangria (practice for the Hoop Dee Doo Review in Disney this January), and some painting. I even squeezed in a nice 3 mile walk into hurricane winds on base and some icing of my hip/thigh. I feel some definite improvements!

So worth dismantling the mannequin for!

After reading up on hip flexor strains (thanks, Morgan!), I am fairly certain that that is my problem. The good news is I only have the Level 1 severity. I’m frustrated that I’m still a little sore from last week (only a little though!), but I’m really hoping that its just because I tried to do too much, too soon, too fast. 

So, even though I feel well enough that I could probably do all 9 miles today, I’m going to play it smart and ride the bike. It kills me because it’s so gorgeous out and probably the last semi-warm day of the season. But, I’d rather not set myself back anymore and just get this over with. I may try to run at a slooow pace on the gym’s indoor track Wed. or Thurs.

I think my return to running is going to be a lot more gradual than I had anticipated. Maybe 1 slow-paced 9 miler with 2 bike days a week, then increase from there. I’m afraid of ultimately losing my super-fairy speed, but try to keep thinking that I’d rather be able to run period, than not run at all. And my 7:28/mi pace after 3 weeks off gives me some hope.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Birthday Brownie Points

My mother in-law's birthday is on November 1st, so to earn some brownie points I decided to paint her a picture. My usual rule is to never ever paint a picture as a gift for someone. Ever. When it comes to a painting or any sort of decoration for a home, you can't really give it to someone in case they hate it (Merry Christmas, you get socks!...unless its running socks. In that case, bring 'em on!) Instead of it being a gift it turns into a burden because now they feel they have to display it somewhere and its just a big old mess. I'd rather avoid that.

But, I decided to take a gamble this time. Originally, I had wanted to paint the island in Greece that she's from (Kefalonia), but I couldn't find any decent pics of it, so I settled for a pretty postcard.

Then on to the sketching. I didn't have to do a lot of sketching with this one because of the water and I never sketch out small flowers.

Then the fun part, painting sky and water. I looove doing this. I just spread a light sheen of water on the canvas, then squirt paint directly on it and swirl away with my brush until I'm happy with the results.

I decided to stipple the house and windows to give contrast to the water and make it seem closer to the observer. Also, I like giving the painting some texture. And ok, I just really love to stipple.

further along...

Last night, to the soundtrack my husband killing zombies (its guys' night) I finished! Now it just needs a coat of color-protectant and it's all set to be wrapped.

Score one for the daughter in-law!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Grumpy Thursday

Maybe it’s just the gloomy day but I am feeling negative today.

Makes it sooooo hard to go inside

I ran again yesterday, making it 9 miles Saturday (7:27/mile), 9 on Mon. (7:48/mile) and yesterday(7:45/mile).

But I almost didn’t make the 9. Once again, the pain has started up again. 2 miles in, my upper, tippy top thigh (that little indent area where your leg joins your torso) started to just feel off. It didn’t hurt, it just felt like something was out of place and needed to be popped back into the right spot. Kind of like when you get up from sitting and your knee locks then weirdly pops back in to place.

So I decided to play it smart and started walking home, figuring I’d just finish off on the bike at the gym. Well, home just seemed too far away to walk to, so I started to run. When I started running, whatever was making my thigh/hip/groin feel weird must have lodged back into its proper place because it felt fine. So of course I passed the turn towards home and kept running the rest of my 9 miles.

Which brings me to today, feeling sore and grumpy. I’m so frustrated! I’m thinking all these negative thoughts like, is this my running future? Am I now destined to have to take a week of biking to recover for every 2 runs, while I watch my pace get slower and slower as the months go by?

Am I just being super grumpy because I’m overtired from sleeping on the couch to TLC shows  while waiting for my husband to get home from work at 2am everyday this week (and being woken up by licking possums)?

So cute!
At this point, I’m torn. The OCD half of me is freaking out and chewing the inside of my mouth (nasty habit) thinking about my fast pace slipping away. But then there’s the other half of me that just wants to enjoy running for running’s sake. One nice thing about this week was I didn’t dread my runs like I normally do, because I knew I had to take it easy.

Usually, I am so stressed and anxious before my runs because I put so much pressure on myself about speed. I work myself up so much before each run because truthfully, I do treat every single one of my runs as if it’s a race. Because to me it is a race. Racing to make sure I keep my pace at race speed or better, otherwise I’m just not good enough as a person. Horrible and ludicrous thinking I know, but that’s runner’s OCD for you.

Yesterday, I talked to the girl at the gym (she's the base nutritionist) about the running groups around here. There's a group who runs trails for 3 hrs. on Saturdays, and another group who does speed training for 2 hrs. on weekdays. I’m not sure what I think. Listening to her, half of me thinks I’ll join them (I'm a such a sucker, she raved about my speed). But the other half of me was just looking at her like she was crazy, thinking ‘3 hours? Really?’ That’s a lot of time and miles to invest for a girl like me who has no interest in running more than a Half. I may end up going to the speed workouts a time or two, but just because I want to make some friends (curse you inability to say no!)

So, that’s the long of it. I’m probably just being cranky and over-dramatic about everything. Maybe the crappy weather is just making everything seem so much worse than it really is. After all, the soreness isn’t that bad. In fact, sometimes when I get up I don't feel anything at all (maybe something is out of place. Can you dislocate your groin?)

I still plan on running on Monday (I'd already planned on riding the bike today anyway). Maybe I just did too much too soon. And maybe I should try ice, as I haven't at all since this started.

Hot date tonight!

Anyone else ever get down in the dumps about their running?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Are You Indoors?

Are You Indoors? Yes or No?

I hate when my Garmin watch asks me that! It inevitably leads to the next question of 'Have you moved 100 miles since your last use?', followed by my favorite "Is today's date __ __, ____?", (I know what it really wants to say is 'Are you suuuure you're not inside, you moron?!').

Well, now I know what happens when you answer ‘yes’ to that question: It doesn’t record your distance.

Monday afternoon I flipped on my Garmin, put it on the window sill, like always, to locate the satellites. 8 years later, it was still searching. Ok, fine, I’ll just go through my half-ass stretching routine. No problem. It’ll be done by then.

1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi..ok done!

2 minutes later (I would never have patience for yoga), my watch was asking me my favorite question of whether I was inside or outside. (You'd think it would be used to the trip to Cleveland by now)

Well George (my Garmin is named after my very first running buddy, a 70-something yr old man), technically yes, I am inside. So what the heck, lets enter ‘Yes’. It finished loading instantly! Why hadn’t I ever tried this before!?

Oh, I’ll tell you why.

6:26 minutes later, when I reached the fence where I drop off my water bottle, I looked down to see my pace and noticed my distance was 0 ft. 0ft? 0 FEET!?!?! What do you mean 0 ft, you crazy worthless watch? I just ran that stupid block, dodging goose poop in the sun! Trust me, I remember!

Then it dawned on me. THIS must be what happens when you tell your watch you’re inside. Crap. After 5 minutes of trying to figure out how to let George know I was now outside (I swear the squirrel in the tree above me was snickering), I finally got it up and running. Luckily, I knew that the block I’d just run was .85 miles (though, to be safe I rounded it to .8…ya know, just to be safe ;-) ).

The rest of the run was spent trying to do math. If you ever want to keep a runner busy, make them do simple math. I can't even count the number of times I've tried (and failed) to figure out how many miles I had to go in a Half Marathon when I reached mile marker 11 (runners can't do math while running, I swear, look it up!)

For the life of me, I could not figure out what mileage my watch would have to be at for me to head back home and have 9 miles when I got there. I tried adding, subtracting, rounding, drawing math problems in the air with my finger. It was a lost cause from the start, I might as well have been trying to figure out cold fusion.

Somehow I figured it out and did 9.04 miles. And aside from the watch debacle, I had fun! The leaves have started to change colors  and I got to crunch obnoxiously on the ones that had fallen (and of course I sought out the biggest bunches of them on the ground)

How I miss you Cleveland Metroparks

Anyone else ever have watch/math issues on their runs?

Monday, October 10, 2011

I'm Baaaaaaack!

I’m baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

And I'm happy to say I didn't lose an ounce of stupidity in my 3 weeks off! Saturday I threw all logic and sense out the window and ran my 9 miles not at a nice, slow, recovery pace but one second over my Air Force Half Marathon race pace of 7:27/mile! Which might have caused my frequent potty trips for the 4 hours following the run (it could have been the Chicken Teriyaki Subway I’d wolfed down the night before, but I'm sure the 9 mile sprint didn't help)


We’d driven back home to Cleveland Friday evening and, after rescuing my puppy, Teddy from the kennel, took him on a 2-mile walk. Since he’d been cooped up for the last few days, he was extremely excited and wanted to run the first part. And who am I to discourage running, whether man nor beast? I didn’t have any pain for my little ¼ mile flip-flop run and it got me pretty pumped for the morning.

The aftermath of the walk
Saturday morning dawned crisp and bright, and as Teddy and my husband quickly reclaimed my spot on mom’s futon, I changed into my running gear (already neatly laid out the night before, of course). I drove passed many runners on my drive down to the towpath, and for the first time in weeks, didn’t glare at or curse any of them! “I’m one of you” I wanted to shout from my car!

As I made my descent down to the path, I watched my car thermometer drop 12 degrees from 58 to 46 (and also nervously watched my brake light keep dinging on my dash…) The sun was trying to burn through the morning fog and I anxiously tried to pick the best song to start out my victory run (‘True Love’ by Angels & Airwaves, also the intro song for my wedding party at our reception!).

The Towpath on a less foggy day
I couldn’t wipe the goofy grin off my face as I started out, pain free, and I’m not sure if it was the cold or pure joy that brought the tear to my eye. I was back. I AM back!  It felt so nice to be back “home” (before I got married and moved, the towpath was my husband!). At one point, I even passed another runner wearing a Disney Half Marathon shirt and
 “Are you running this year?!” I shouted.
“YES!”, he exclaimed.
“ME TOO!!!!!!!”, I rejoiced.
 And we celebrated by pumping our arms into the air. (And he was not the only Disney Halfer I spotted on my run either!)

The run turned out to be really good. I had to take a few ‘shoe-tying’ breathers, which was fine since I hadn’t run in 3 weeks (and even more fine when I finished and saw my average pace!). I’m so excited to be back! Truthfully, now the other side of my groin hurts a bit, but I’m not too concerned. That side I've had issues with on and off for 2 years and am pretty confident I know how to deal with it (the other side was some sort of monster of its own, causing this wretched 3 week hiatus). I’m going to try to remind myself I’m not in a race the next couple of runs and ease up my pace. I might even switch out one run a week with the 800-calorie bike burn (that little machine has started to grow on me).

After my after-run 4 hour love affair with the bathroom that afternoon, I recovered just in time to join The Turtle for an evening of ‘Opa!’ at a family friend’s wedding.

All better!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The End is in Sight

I haven’t run in 18 days (cue the gasps of horror and outrage)!!! Which means, I have been clinically insane for just as many. But my insanity ends this Saturday...and the OCD returns!

This is all your fault groin!

That’s right, while my friends (Jeff and Morgan) are competing in the Towpath Half Marathon on Sunday, I will be participating in my own, personal race on the Towpath the day before. I will be running for the first time in 3 weeks (unless you count running to my car in the monsoon last week.).

I’m so excited at the thought of finally running again! It feels like Christmas! And it kind of will be because the low for Saturday is 57, which means 47 at the towpath (I think 3 weeks of sweating in the gym’s sauna-like temperatures have spoiled me).

I haven’t felt any pain at all in the last week, which is great and I’m feeling positive that I’ll feel good for the whole 9 miles. I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself for pace (ha!), and though I will wear my Garmin (just to keep my wrist warm, naturally) I swear I won't look at it during the run...much.

George, amidst my collection of sweat rags

I can’t wait to just get back to normal and actually deserve my title of ‘runner girl’ given to me by all the gym rats on base. And the old men who do Sudoku and clean under their fingernails while they bike will be celebrating that I won’t be showing them up anymore (more likely they’ll  just be happy that another bike will be available for their geriatric, crossword-puzzling friends). Hopefully, it won’t take me long to get back to my usual 7:35-7:38/mile training pace. I need to get back to it so I can fly like Tinkerbell through the Disney World Half Marathon this January!

Walt Disney World Half Marathon 2010, lets hope 2012 is warmer!

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Donald

I finally got around to painting this piece I'd come up with a few weeks ago.  Even though Michael's is literally within walking distance of my house, I just couldn't seem to get there to buy a canvas until this past Friday (Ok, I was waiting out for a better coupon....Saved $15, score!).

I'd come up with this idea while I was doodling one night. Once I got the sketch to my liking, I made a bunch of copies of it and made them my own little coloring pages. Then, I brought out the colored pencils, flipped on Modern Family, and came up with a color scheme.

Next, I sketched it out on canvas. I hate this part the most. I always get nervous before sketching on canvas. What if I just don't have it today? I don't know why I work myself up about it. So what if I mess up a canvas? They're not that expensive. Maybe it's because they're so big and seem so official that I hate to ruin one. This time it wasn't one of my best days, so I had to drag out the dreaded eraser. Will they ever make an eraser that actually erases instead of smears? I've tried them all, and still I prefer a good old pencil eraser to the "artist erasers"...too bad they only last about 10 swipes before they're down to the knub. Ugh.
I usually get more on me

Before paint, it is never a pretty sight
With a simple concept like this one is, once its sketched out its basically just coloring it in with paint.

And then, ta da!

Deco Donald

This one was pretty easy to do, so it didn't take me much time at all.  Whenever I do the sketching and coloring on paper first, I'm usually so sick of it that by the time I get to painting I just want to get it over with. I don't want to have to look at it anymore! But I'm pretty happy with this one and now I have another original piece to bug Disney with :)