Monday, December 31, 2012

December Running and Recap 2012

It has been one of the strangest holidays I've spent at home in a long time.  Everyone has been sick with something.  Anyhoo- so I'm spending my New Year's Eve eating a few frozen appetizers, going between Despicable Me, bowl games and Dick Clark Rock'n New Year's Eve and finishing my posts for 2012.  Here are my favorite quotes from "The Runner's Book of Daily Inspiration" by Kevin Nelson for December.  I've thoroughly loved reading this book and am sad that the book is finished.

December 1- "To make life living, we must descend to a more profound and primitive level.  The good of seeing and smelling and tasting and daring and doing with one's body grows and grows."- William James, philosopher

Kevin wrote..."Every day is good for running.  But not every day is the same, nor every month.  We tend to lump the days together because of the dreary familiarity of work... If you view this calendar year in terms of a race, you're on the final stretch drive.  Bring new energy to it, and finish with a bang."

I thought this was just what I needed to read at the start of December. 

December 3- :Freud was 36 before he began to do the work that made him famous". - Lionel Trilling, literary critic and writer.

Kevin wrote..."Often people do not begin to take risks- that is, do the things they really want to do and damn the consequences- until their 30s and 40s.  They've lived a little by then, and they're more willing to take chances.  They're less concerned about what others think and more interested in what they think."

This is how old I am until next October.  I'm 36 and I agree with Kevin's take on age.  I think I started running and became a runner at the right time of my life.  Looking forward to being adventuresome and running more and taking more chances as I age. 

December 5- "Be yourself.  You are the things you grew up with, the things your parents taught you.  For years I tried to figure out who I was, where I came from.  Now I just feel it's important to be Dan O'Brien."- Dan O'Brien, Olympic decathlete

To add onto the great quote above Kevin wrote, "Use what you have.  Use everything you have, and that includes your past and who you are as a person... You are who you are.  And who you are is unique.  No one else has your individual experiences, past, knowledge.  You're a resource even larger than the Internet, and you're all there, available for the taking.  Tap into those internal resources, and make yourself the runner you want to be."
I need to look back on this quote and remind myself to utilize all my "chattynattyness"!

December 12- "We all die.  Not living is the failure."-Sidney J. Winawer, M.D.
Enough said, don't you think!

December 13- "If I were to wish for anything I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible.  Pleasure disappoints, possibility never." - Soren Kierkegaard

December 14- " Where the unaided intellect fails, the body now reveals.  As I run up that hill, I am a pupil, an observer.  My body is my tutor." - George Sheehan, philosopher-runner

Kevin wrote "You know more at the top of every hill you run than you did at the bottom.  You know more at the end of every run than at the start.  You know more at the end of every marathon you finish than at the beginning... Running teaches you something every time you run."
I definitely agree with these remarks.  I don't think you can ever regret a run you've gone out for.  You always learn something or gain something.  Not every run is easy or enjoyable, but when you finish your run you have added mileage onto your running log, but more importantly you've gained time away from reality, time for yourself, quiet, and sometimes a good book :).

December 15- "You gotta hang in there. You don't know what's ahead.  You don't realize the potential you have.  you keep asking yourself, 'Is it really worth it?' But you gotta hang in there." - Brenda Morehead, sprinter

Kevin's take... "No one knows what lies ahead for you.  Nor do you really know how much potential you have.  But you're not going to find out the answers if you don't hang in there.  Keep the dream present in your life, and never give up on it."
Another good reminder to me that I'll never know what I'm capable of in life, not just running, unless I get out there and give it my all.   Try, try again!

December 22- "Little by little, in the long run, aspirations can realize themselves. Work for that".- Ruth Benedict, writer

Kevin had some great ideas in regard to the above quote: "Small smooth movements.  That's today's mantra: small and smooth.  People think in terms of fast or slow when they run.  Instead: think small and smooth.  You may be running 15 miles today. But the way you're covering that big distance is by small, smooth steps."
I could use the mantra "small and smooth" in my life again not just in relation to running, but also to being a mom- I need to take smaller and smoother steps and I think I'd go a lot farther in both running and parenting.

December 24- "Personally I am always read to learn, although I do not always like being taught." - Winston Churchill

Kevin took the above and described what I feel on an almost weekly basis... "One day you go out and surprise yourself at how fast you run and how good you feel.  The next day you go out, and you just don't have it.  Your legs feel like lead, your intervals are terrible and you can't understand why.  There is still so much to learn...I keep my mind open, and I keep learning".
I love this about running.  It keeps you humble and teaches you almost daily.

December 26- "Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.  And great things are not something accidental, but most certainly be willed." - Vincent van Gogh

Kevin's addition..."You stuck to your guns, and you did it.  And it wasn't easy to do.  Is there a more satisfying feeling in all of life? You did all the small things, which added up to a great big thing.  there were times when you felt like quitting, and yet you didn't.  There were times when hope seemed lost and yet you stayed with it."
O.K. running isn't tragic, but it can be extremely challenging and I felt like this last month of running was pretty hard, maybe even harder than my longest month of mileage when training for Chicago this past year in running.  The goal of 1,000 miles for 2012 couldn't be completed if I didn't run in December.  Not just some 3-4 milers, but longer mileage to get almost 80 miles total in for December.  It is a great thing to accomplish something and I agree with Vincent "great things are not done by impulse".

December 28- "Work hard. Be dedicated.  That's all." - Charles Foster, track hurdler, on the secret of success

Kevin's first line in this day's reading was excellent: "You want inspiration? Do the work.  You'll find plenty of inspiration then." Love It!  Another great quote for my bathroom mirror to keep me on task/focused on the finish line, etc.

December 29- "Once he started running, he never stopped." - Quote about Steve Prefontaine, from the move Prefontaine

Kevin- "You may not have much in common with distance legend Steve Prefontaine, but let there be this: once you start running, never stop." I hope I don't because I truly believe it makes me happier and I'm just a better person when I'm happier.  It's free therapy too!

December 31- "If you are doing something you would do for nothing, then you are on your way to salvation." -George Sheehan, philosopher-runner

Kevin's response: This is it, the lat day of the year, the grand finale...Here's the main question, in my mind: are you enjoying yourself?  If you are- if the act of running fills you with joy, from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet- you've got the thing wired.  Records and times are mere marginalia; the reason you run, what motivates you, is: you love it.

I feel this way right now about running and don't want to lose it so I will continue giving myself goals/races to train for, but I don't want to lose the bigger picture- "am I enjoying myself?"  As long as I am enjoying life then running is genuine and honest and joy that I can't go wrong with. 

So I close out 2012 with 88 miles in December.  This is double what I ran in December 2011 (41 miles).  I ran several races this past year (2 1/2 marathons, 1 sprint tri, and one marathon).  I PR'd 1/2 marathon (1:59:08) and marathon (4:23:11).  Lastly, I ran 1,001 miles in 2012.  I've started thinking about 2013 running goals and surprisingly I'm thinking of continuing my goal of 1,000+++ miles for 2013 but I don't think I will be signing up for Chicago this year.  It hit me on my long run this past weekend.  I thought "I'm not going to run Chicago this year."  It is not because I'm burned out, but it just came to me and I think it was a sign.  I plan to find some races to sign up for- maybe even try to become a 1/2marathon fanatic ( 3 1/2 marathons within 90 days).  I also want to focus on really enjoying my running life.  So cheers to a New Year and all the accomplishments of this past year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012


This morning I ran my last run for 2012- a 6 miles in 12 degree warmth :).  It was a tough run due to the elements.  I found out that my ipod doesn't like 12 degree weather and stopped working a mile into the run.  My legs were like frozen tree trunks trying to get started.  My gator kept on frosting over at my mouth area due to my breathing.  However, no music or podcasts and chilly toes and I finished the 6 miles in 1 hour and 5 minutes.  So drum roll.....
My mileage for 2012: 1,001 miles.  It feels good to accomplish this small feat for me.  I'll do my full end year review of running in a day or two.
Also, another milestone- yesterday I finished Anna Karenina.  It took me about a month and 2 weeks to read.  I enjoyed it, but don't really think I'll recommend it to anyone.  It is a tough book and somewhat confusing if you let all the Russian names/nicknames, etc bog you down.  I thought it was interesting that I actually enjoyed reading about the story line of Levin and Kitty more than Anna and Vronsky.  Anna was not a woman I look up to or plan to have my daughter or niece want to emulate.  I know I didn't get all of the political undertones and topics either, but sometimes I just need to read a book "as is" meaning just a good old fiction story reading and not as a book club analyst.  It felt good to get this book read and one of my motivators was the kids and I and my mother in-law went to the library two days ago and I picked up the 4th Armand Gamache mystery by Louise Penny- only two chapters in, but enjoying it immensely.  I too will have my book list of "wish to reads" for 2013 in upcoming post.  
So now onto a hot shower and two days of no running and eating and drinking whatever I so choose- it is the end of 2012- I hope to send it out with happiness, relaxation, family time and some more good books.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

What a Christmas

I think someone is trying to tell me that i need to stay low this Xmas. The picture above could be our family's symbol of this past Xmas. My daughter got sick Xmas eve night and it was a long night and early Xmas morning. She rallied on Xmas day and I thought all was on the mend. Then last night illness hit her again. Then hubby got ill and so I'm exhausted. I'm tired from just lying around, bleaching everything, and doing laundry.

Last night when my daughter was crying about being sick again it struck me how I don't know how mom and dads do it with chronically ill kids. It made me stop and think that this minor bump in the road is just that a minor bump. I'm trying to be more patient and let life be and not force a certain life- like if my family is sick we need to hang low: play with our Xmas toys, watch movies, and read books.

It has been an interesting Xmas. I'm ok with it though because I'm with those I most love and think I'm doing what I've needed to do for awhile- a whole lot of nothing.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My year in reading- 2012

I "read" a total of 50 books (well I have two almost done that I've counted in my 2012 book list- Anna Karenina only has 150 pages left- If I don't get it done I'll let you know :)- and the Runner's Year of Running daily book that I'll finish on December 31st).  Six of the books were audio books, and 44 "real" books. 
This was a true year of reading for me because I really felt like I spent quality time reading.  I read different genres and even found I didn't dislike "books on tape".  I need to write Pat Conroy a "thank you" note for introducing me to "books on tape".  I had tried them in the past but could never focus on the story.  I tried his book "My Reading Life" out when training this past year for the Chicago Marathon.  I soon found that "books on tape" make great reading company on runs.  If not for Pat's voice reading his own book I don't know if I would've tried the "books on tape" again. 

I also need to write Pat Conroy a "thank you" note for justifying my love of reading.  He stated in his book that he tries to read about 1,000 pages/day.  Now I likely will never read that much but it made me think about making a priority for reading time in my everyday life.  His book also introduced me to authors I had never read before.  Soon after his book I listened to a book by one of his friends Anne River Siddons "Islands".   This was another great running companion and I looked forward to the runs so I could meet up with "Islands" and hear more of the story. 

Since I enjoyed this book so much I decided to try another book by Siddons.  The next book made me realize just how hard "books on tape" can be to sell to the reader.  The second book I just didn't like and I realized that I couldn't get into the story because I didn't like the reader's voice.  Hence for "books on tape" it is not only the story line or character development it is also the reader's voice that can make or break the reader's experience listening to the story.  I'll likely never pick up that second Siddons pick to read in a "real book" because I'll be reminded of not liking listening to the story.  I know totally unfair to Ms. Siddons.  However, her "Islands"  book was one of favs of this past year's reading. 

I moved on to other books and truly feel like I stumbled upon my next running buddy- "books on tape".  Many of the books I listened to then motivated me to read other books.  For instance "The Paris Wife" by Paula McClain was about Hemingway and his first wife Hadley.  After listening to this great story I went on to read two other books by Hemingway (The Sun Also Rises, and Movable Feast).  This book was another book that made it easy to go out to run because I got to hear more of the story.  This was a longer book and it did a great job keeping me interested helped whittle the miles/time away training.  Just the other day I was doing a run at a nature preserve I've done several of my long runs this past year and was specifically remembering listening to "The Paris Wife" and running the trail at the nature preserve.  Great memories! 

This past reading year I also tried to make an effort to actually read some books on my "to read list".  Some of them I liked a lot "The Good Earth" by Pearl S Buck and "The Bonesetter's Daughter" by Amy Tan .  Some I didn't enjoy as much as I thought I would based on the reviews that triggered me to put them on my "to read list".  Many of the reviews or clippings of books I want to read come from the Sunday NY times Book section- my favorite part of the Sunday paper.  However, for every book I don't like there are so many I do like and am glad I've read.

One of the books I didn't finish this past year was my book club's January Book "John Adams" by David McCullough.  I just didn't enjoy it and found that if I am doing everything but reading to avoid picking up a book then it is time to put the book down.  I don't regret putting that one down.

I also had books and authors that I came into contact with for the first time and just couldn't put down.  Here they are in no particular order of importance, but would be on my "must read" books list for friends and family of book I read in 2012.
1. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins ( ended up reading the whole trilogy)- my favorite book club book of 2012
2. Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruis Zafron (the sequel is on my "to read" list for 2013)
3. The Giver by Loist Lowry (after I finish "Anna..." plan to get my name back on the hold list for the 2nd in this trilogy).
4. The Paris Wife by Paula Mclain (my favorite audiobook from 2012)
5. Still Life by Louise Penny (the first in the Armande Gamache mystery series- I've read three total- #4 will be another book on my hold list after "Anna...")

One thing I did realize this past year was I haven't been keeping track of all the different chapter books I read with my kids this past year.  So that will be another addition for 2013 "to do's".  I hope to come up with a list of 12 books "to read" in 2013.  I always do better when I have a set goal out there.  My goal for 2013 would be to continue to keep up with "the bookies" and be an active participant in our monthly book club meetings, read the 12 "to read" books on my 2013 list, to continue to enjoy my new running buddy - Audio books, and to keep track of the chapter books I'm reading with my children.    I'll keep you posted (no pun intended) on my 12 "to read" books for 2013.  Happy reading in 2013!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

What does running in 12 degrees feel like?

So I braved the elements this morning and ran 5 miles. I had forgotten what it was like to run in winter, since we have had such a mild winter. So I pulled out my Nike running outfit from about 10 years ago. It is not stylish but keeps me warm. I had my hat, gator and two pairs of gloves on my hands. My legs felt like tree trunks and halfway through I was thinking I need to invent some type of toe cover for running shoes in the winter.
It was a little humbling to be back running in real winter weather. I hope to get back out there tomorrow for a longer run. Trying to get miles in before snow flies.
So I'm not a running model but as usual I'm getting it done.
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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Where does the time go?

I can't believe it is almost a week until Christmas Day.  Where has December gone? Where has 2012 gone?

I've been trying to take some time this week to really enjoy the things I love about x-mas or things that are a tradition or comforting.  One of my favorite Christmas decorations is this stained glass Christmas Tree I had in my room growing up.  it is about 8 inches tall and 6 inches wide.  There is a votive candle that sits behind the tree and lights up the green and red stained glasses of the tree when lit.  When I was little I remember asking my parents to light it when I went to bed at night.  I know- living on the edge- with a fire hazard burning while I slept, but I loved the reflection of the tree shadow on my bedroom wall growing up.

Last night and the night before I made and effort to light it while getting ready for bed and let it burn as I drifted off to sleep.  Seeing the shadow of the tree on the wall was so comforting.  Where did the time go?  When did I grow up and become an adult, a mom, a provider?  Seems like just yesterday I was lying in the bed my son now sleeps in at my old house with my green bedroom furniture (remember it was the 70's when I was born).  These memories impressed on me in living in the here and now, because time will fly by and I'll lose those memories if I don't recognize them.

 Every morning I get up and look at a two sayings I have taped to my bathroom mirror "You Must Be Present To Win"- reminder to live in the present, and below it a quote my friend told me awhile ago- "Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% what you do about it".  Now if only I could figure out how to live both these sayings daily.

So we are 7 days from one of my favorite days of the year.   I'm trying to stop and really enjoy this time, because life is to short and unpredictable and I just don't want to look back when I'm 88 and say "I regret" or "I could have done this differently".  I have a couple of ideas how to accomplish this goal- live every day to its fullest- no really- make sure I'm doing what I want professionally and personally.  If not than I have to change it.  Surround myself with my "peeps" and avoid or remove those that are toxic to my life.  Lastly- really be "present" when with my loved ones (son, daughter, husband, family, and friends).  I'll keep you posted on how I go accomplishing these lofty goals/ideas.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The season upon us...

and it is just flying by.  I found out that my Picassa Album is full (the free album is full) so I will be putting my money in so I can get back to bringing you fun pictures with my posts.  I always enjoy pictures with the posts.  I tried to share these pictures with you a few weeks ago so here I try again...

A few of my Christmas favorites...

 My snowman village- some of these snowmen are mine, some are ones I inherited from my mom.  I love putting the snowmen up every year. Plus- snowmen can stay up through January right!

My husband and I get each other ornaments every year and this one (not the Elmo)- the greenhouse reminds me of my love of plants/gardening.

 O.K. this one is good.  I made it in 1980 when I was four years old.  This horse ornament makes me smile and remember all the good times during childhood.

 A few years ago Hallmark came out with Fisher Price Ornaments.  This one depicts my favorite doll house I played with growing up.  The cool thing is this ornament's doorbell works when you ring it.  Another good childhood memory ornament.

Last, but not least my 1976 Christmas Bell.  I love these kind of ornaments.  Reminds you of your birth and all the years of putting the ornament on the tree.  

I hope you are taking some time to reminisce about Christmas this season.  I'm starting to learn that Christmas is not a happy time for everyone and there are not always "happy" memories that go along with Christmas.  I of course want everyone to "love" the season, but I also need to be o.k. with the fact that not everyone will feel the way I do and Christmas is to each of us really our own feelings/memories.  

I'm exhausted from this past week- the emotional loss of my friend, worrying about other friends and the added sadness of the Connecticut shootings.   However, amidst these bad emotions I find solace in the good ones: my friend's annual Christmas party, having my parents visit this past weekend and letting them be a part of our kid's Christmas Program at church this morning.  Also, loving that a few of my friends joined in the  viewing of the program and getting to meet my parents and be a part of not only my life but the kid's.  Those kind of memories along with an afternoon visit to one of my favorite places: the Library followed by a run will hopefully get me through my emotional exhaustion and continue enjoying this holiday season.  

I've missed writing lately and so hope to get back into it again.    

Monday, December 10, 2012

What is a blog for?

For some of us it is like our own diary/journal.  My hubby says he won't read my blog because he feels like he is reading my diary.  I think of my blog as a way to be creative, practice my writing, and put down my thoughts, dreams, and conundrums.

I'm pretty fried right now and this isn't the normal happy- running or reading focused post- this post is about LOSS.  I lost a friend this past weekend.  She was one of the strongest, most independent, funny women I've ever come across.  She was a "go getter" and she was an awesome mom.  When I found out about her death it caught me fully off guard. I didn't believe it.  I couldn't believe it.   I believe it was not expected by her family and friends.  She left two beautiful girls behind and the one thing I can be sure of- those girls will never stop hearing about how great their mom was and how she touched so many people's lives. 

Strange how LOSS always makes me re-evaluate my life, my being, my goals, dreams and really take a look at all the wasted time and energy I spend on things that don't really matter in the grand scheme of things. I always find it sad that it takes LOSS to kick me in the rear and truly appreciate all I have.  LOSS hurts, its confusing, and really doesn't always make sense.  LOSS also makes me just want to hug my friends and family and tell them "you are not alone", "there is always another way", and "you are loved!".  This friend I LOST was all about giving to others.  She has given me more than she'll ever realize, as she has done for so many other people.

I will never forget her laughter, her jokes, her work ethic, her ability to keep up with my "chattyness" and her love for her girls.

Good night my friend- I wish you everlasting peace.

Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in Heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.- unknown author

Sunday, December 2, 2012

November Running Recap

First off, no pictures in my posts for awhile, until I figure this Picasa Album stuff out.  I just was notified that I used up my whole allotment of free album space and thus have to decide whether to purchase a monthly fee/coverage to have Picasa continue to post my pictures on the blog.  Anyways, I'm waiting to hear back from my techy friend to figure this out.  So moving forward...

November Running: Total Mileage- 80 miles.  Miles I have left to run to finish my goal of 1,000+++ in 2012= 76.  So about 19 miles/week until the end of December.  I feel like this is pretty doable if my "old bod" doesn't fail me.  So here are some of my favorite quotes from "The Runner's Book of Daily Inspiration" by Kevin Nelson  Of course you also get my take or explanation on why the quote or Kevin's take on the quote struck a cord with me.

November 1: "There is something healthy and invigorating about direct action" - Henry Miller, writer

Kevin's take: Time is running out.  Winter is on its way.  Get off your duff, and get going.  What, you wanted subtlety? Subtlety, schmutlety.  Sometimes what a person needs is a good, stiff kick in the rear, and this is it...Don't stew, don't fret, don't pine, don't try to work it into your schedule.  Just get out of bed, and get going.  

I thought this was perfect considering I only had two months left to reach my goal of 1,000 +++ miles in 2012.  Instead of over analyzing the mileage I needed to do to reach my goal I just needed to get out there and get running.

November 2: " Who promised love should be happiness? Nature may have some other end." - Mark Rutherford, poet

Kevin's addition I thought was beautiful.  Here it is.
You can't keep it inside you; you have to let it go.  If you keep it inside, it will tear you up. 
     Sometimes it seems as if loss defines life.  Certainly it's part of it, but it's not all of it.  Joy is a part of it, too, a big part.  
     Though it may not seem like that right now.  you're upset, angry, shocked.  Those are all understandable emotions.  You have a right to feel the way you do.  What happened is unfair it's not right...
     Go for a run.  That will help a little bit, though of course it won't change the situation.  But while you're running you'll be able to think.  Or maybe you won't think about it at all, which might be the best thing that could happen to you right now... Loss is part of life, to be sure.  But joy is part of it, too. And running will help you find it again.  

I haven't truly experienced the above loss as of yet.  Yes, I've lost some dear relatives (grandparents, etc), and lost friendships of friends at the time I didn't think I could bear to lose, but life moves on and the above loss sounds so deep that I hope when I do experience this kind of loss I will be able to reflect back on this post and "Go for a run."

November 7: "I changed my belief from an external focus- beating others-to an internal focus.  My self-worth was based on doing my best.  I would compete only with myself." -Henry Marsh, steeplechaser

Kevin's last line on this day is great: Define success based on what others are doing, and it will always be elusive to obtain.  Define success based on your own goals and aspirations, and you may yet find it."

November 11: "In our ever-more mechanized society, marathoners want to assert their independence and affirm their individuality. Call it humanism, call it health, call it folly. Whatever it is, our ailing world could use a lot more of it. " - Eric Segal, marathoner and novelist

Kevin's response: "Running is an expression of freedom, an assertion of independence and individuality.  For a very long time, long distance runners were branded as crazy eccentrics.  Only in the past two decades have the sport and its participants moved into the social mainstream.  But running's essential nature remains unchanged.  When you run, you separate yourself from the masses; you step away.  This is an American quality.
     People who run are often also passionate about self-improvement- another uniquely American characteristic.  

If running helps me improve my self than it can't be that selfish of an act or time away from my kids, my husband, my housework, etc.  If I am a better "self" maybe then I'll be better to my kids, to my husband, to my work.

November 26: "Hell is a full of talented but Heaven of the energetic." - Saint Jane Francis de Chantal

Kevin wrote "Perhaps you feel sluggish and uninspired today.  run and you will feel better instantly.  
    That's the way it is with this amazing activity.  Whatever your mood, running will put you in a better one.  It creates energy...Let running create energy for you.  And let that energy carry you to great places in your life."  

I totally agree with this.  Running for me is like reading.  I don't think it could do me wrong.  Like reading, running, inspires me, gives me energy, makes me happy, takes me away from real life.  I'm so thankful to have found running.  I may not be getting any faster or going any farther, but I think it has made me better- better in the sense that it forces me to be by myself- no talking, just listening to music, podcasts, audiobooks, but really sometimes I'm not really listening to that stuff I'm listening to my clarity/ my ideas in my head- my breath.

November 27: "Clouds today-great archangel wings across the sky." - Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Kevin then used this quote to look at how sometimes as runners we run despite the "clouds" and we make it and beat the clouds before they break open.  I liked this quote above because it was written by Anne Morrow Lindbergh and she wrote "A Gift from the Sea"- one of my favorite books- book is about things she learned/observed during her time at one of my favorite places- Sanibel Island.  So I couldn't not add this one in.  In general I don't get put off by the "clouds" and many times I do just miss them from "breaking open" and if they do "open" sometimes  it makes for an even more fun/exciting run.

Well onward to December.  Happy Holiday Running!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Annual long run with x-mas music

On the first day of December I decided to do a long run, 10 miles ( so not a real long run for me, but for this time of year a pretty long one), listening to Xmas music. I didn't make a playlist but just set out running while listening to one of our local radio stations playing Xmas music. I love Xmas time and so adding two of my favorites: running + Xmas music= good run. It was also nice not to have to get up at the butt crack o'dawn for run. I slept in until 7:40 am ( side note- you know you are a mom when you  consider sleeping in anytime pass 7 am).  I didn't have to wear my head lamp, so much more enjoyable to be able to run without artificial lighting. The 1 hr and 42 minutes really flew by.   I like long runs because it really gives me time to think and relax. The added bonus of listening to Xmas music only made the run that much more enjoyable. So if you have some running you plan to do in the month of December utilize the easy access to some festive music- and added bonus for runners this time of year- unless you are a bah humbuger!  Happy Holiday Running!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving Vacation recaps

So I had such a good time over the holiday with my family I just had to share some more pictures.  I can't believe Thanksgiving has come and gone.  This year is truly flying by.  Does that mean I really am getting old?
Pre- Turkey Day Family Fun Run/Walk Stretch session

 Look at these runners- ready for the day.

On your mark, get set, go!

Grandma fun Turkey project!

 Finished Product

Day after Thanksgiving Cookie Bake Off- My daughter was the butter cutter all day long.

Spritz Gun fun with Aunt

One of our best years yet- 1, 163 cookies (if you don't count the 300 pretzel rings we did too.)

We don't eat them all- we donated about 400 to our local homeless shelter.  

Well that is just a bit more of the weekend.  It was a great time and totally what Thanksgiving should be about: relaxation, reading, food, baking, and family fun!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

We started the morning with our 2nd annual family fun run/walk. Some did 1 mile and others did 5K. This year we stepped it up and had bibs. The weather is perfect and everyone had a great time. Now time for some mimosas and brunch after the run. Hope everyone has a wonderful time with family and friends and some yummy food today!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

We started the morning with our 2nd annual family fun run/walk. Some did 1 mile and others did 5K. This year we stepped it up and had bibs. The weather is perfect and everyone had a great time. Now time for some mimosas and brunch after the run. Hope everyone has a wonderful time with family and friends and some yummy food today!

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The mother of them all...

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

My next book I'm opening is one I've wanted to read for awhile, but have been intimidated by this work. It is known as one of the world's greatest novels. The one I picked up is the translation by Richard Peaver and Larissa Volohonsky.

I'm intimidated by the size (817 pages), the fact that it is a translation, and lastly because it is known as one of the world's greatest novels. My track history with books that are hyped up or known as literary masterpieces isn't good. I normally don't get why it is so hyped or I can't follow the plot line or just think it is too slow.

So I figure if I post that I'm going to read this novel I will then be held to finishing it, or at least getting as far as I did with "John Adams"- 300 or so pages. I'll let you know how it goes. Happy thanksgiving break reading!

By the way the one pic is me holding the book between my thighs. Suppose to give you perspective for how big book is because it could ewual half of one of my "gymnast thighs" :).


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Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Giver by Lois Lowry

I'll give you Wiki's take on it first and then add my 2 cents.

The Giver is a dystopian children's novel by Lois Lowry. It is set in a society which is at first presented as a utopian society and gradually appears more and moredystopian. The novel follows a boy named Jonas through the twelfth year of his life. The society has eliminated pain and strife by converting to "Sameness," a plan that has also eradicated emotional depth from their lives. Jonas is selected to inherit the position of "Receiver of Memory," the person who stores all the past memories of the time before Sameness, in case they are ever needed to aid in decisions that others lack the experience to make. When Jonas meets the previous receiver—The "Giver"—he is confused in many ways. The Giver is also able to break some rules, such as turning off the speaker and lying to people of the community. As Jonas receives the memories from the Giver, he discovers the power of knowledge. The people in his community are happy because they do not know of a better life, but the knowledge of what they are missing out on could create major chaos. He faces a dilemma: Should he stay with the community, his family living a shallow life without love, color, choices, and knowledge, or should he run away to where he can live a full life?
Despite controversy and criticism that the book's subject material is inappropriate for young children, The Giver won the 1994 Newbery Medal and has sold more than 8 million copies.[citation needed] In Australia, the United States, and Canada, it is a part of many middle school reading lists, but it is also on many challengedbook lists and appeared on the American Library Association's list of most challenged books of the 1990s.[1]
The novel forms a loose quartet[2] with three other books set in the same future era: Gathering Blue (2000) and Messenger (2004) and Son (2012).

I came across Lois Lowry because I think I was suppose to.  It is kind of like why I read Flannery O'Connor.  I kept on hearing or reading Lois' name.  Her new book "Son" came out this year and so The New York Times had an article about her writing, specifically focusing on the quartet mentioned above.  I had not heard of this book, likely due to my less interest in utopian books/science fiction, fantasy, etc.   However, I kept on coming across her name as an author.  I checked into her writing and found she not only wrote sci/fi or fantasy, but also good old children's fiction.  I read "Gooney Bird Greene" (2002) with my 2nd grader and four year  old.  They thought the book was hilarious.  It helped that the main character Gooney Bird Greene is a second grader like my son.  The book was amusing for adults and children.  Back to "The Giver"- I thought this book reminded me a lot of "The Hunger Games" recently hyped up in our society/media.  However, the premise is less gory/brutal, but parts of the book reminded me of how people could be manipulated by one or a few to live a certain way, behave a certain way, co-exist.  I felt the same way about this book as I did "The Hunger Games" - I didn't really feel like either book was meant for the young "junior high" readers, but more high school readers, but maybe that is because I'm getting old and don't know what junior high readers are reading.  The subject matter was tough at times and although people weren't actively killing each other in a "game" there was still some brutality that tugged at my heart.  

It will be interesting to see when I introduce this book and the other to my children.  Or will they go out on their own and find these wonderful books and be mature enough to get the story and deep meaning.  Lois Lowry is a wonderful writer and I look forward to reading the other three of the quartet.  So if you haven't picked up one of her books and you are like me in your late 30's or older- do so now!  

Thanks again for supporting World Run Day!

Wanted to send a picture of the food that I picked up thanks to you awesome donators for the Coralville Ecumenical Food Bank.  Also raised almost $100 for the food bank too.  Thanks again for supporting my running and charitable giving cause.  I also appreciate all those runners who participated in World Run Day.  Happy Thanksgiving!  Natalie

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Happy World Run Day!

What a great day to honor running and what running can mean to someone personally through bettering their physical and mental health. Also this day allows runners to show how community can be affected positively by running through charity donations.
Thanks to all of you who have donated and/or run today. As a runner I've become aware of just how much running can do for a person and a community. I hope to continue to reap benefits of running for many years to come Happy Running! -----
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Monday, November 5, 2012

October running recap

I'm really not quite sure where October went.  I can hardly believe that about a month ago I was finishing the marathon training schedule and racing in my 5th Chicago Marathon.  No idea where the times goes.  So here is what October was like for me and my running shoes and of course my favorite quotes/comments from that great book " The Runner's Book of Daily Inspiration" by Kevin Nelson.

October total mileage:  53 miles
It was strange to just type that number because I haven't been that low on mileage all year, the closest I came to it was March with 66.  I'm a little disappointed, but I just didn't have the humph to put in more mileage after the marathon.  Part of me really wanted to keep running right after the marathon, but the other part of me was kind of intimidated or scared to.  I've always taken off such a decent amount of time after the marathon I didn't trust myself to be o.k. with a quick return.  I would've liked to have had at least 60 + miles for the month of October, but would've, could've, should've.  I'm moving on and already have 13 miles in for the month of November.

October 5th  "Running is a kind of play. When you are moving well, you feel like a spectator enjoying this movement of your own.  If there is a great crowd with you, you are moved."- Joshua Kimeto, runner
This is why I love Chicago Marathon, because you are definitely moved by the crowd participation.  Some people don't like the distraction, but I do.

October 8th "Records don't mean much.  Racing is about people and not clocks".  Steve Ovett, middle-distance runner

I find it a little amusing that this quote came the day after I did the Chicago Marathon.  I was kind of fixated on if I hadn't taken a pee break I would've been able to get a better time, or if I had done something different in my training could I have cut some time, etc, etc, etc. So it was good to read this quote so soon after the race and get back to reality.

October 9th "athletics, because it enables one to move to a better state of being, can be viewed as a branch of medicine, but one which fortunately finds room for spontaneity, ingenuity and judgement." 
Paul Weiss- philosopher
 More profound was what Kevin, author, wrote in regard to the above quote- here it is:
There is that side of running- the one that requires discipline, will, self-restraint, constancy.  But if you emphasize that side too much, you will kill your desire to run.  You've got to be willing to let go, too.  Take all the "musts and "shoulds" out of it.  Running can't always be associated with obligation, duty, self-denial.  It must feed your soul as well as your body.  There has to be fun and pleasure in it.  When you run, there has to be an element of play to it.  

I think that text could be applied to many facets of life, but the running one hits home.  Sometimes I lose sight in the playfulness of running and the enjoyment I get out of it.  When that happens I need to take a step back and likely take a break.

October 11th "Great dancers are not great because of their technique; they are great because of their passion." Martha Graham, choreographer and dancer

The author I think sympathizes with us and realizes that we may be reaching the end of our running year and start feeling burned out.  This line reminds me to do things I love with passion and that will be a greater life than those who are so "by the book" that they lose sight of the potential to be happy/passionate.

October 23 "Only two rules really count; never miss an opportunity to relieve yourself; and never miss a chance to rest your feet." Duke of Windsor

Yep this is right up my alley.  The author goes onto talk about how if you are preoccupied with the fact that your bladder is full that you are likely not able to run as well and fast and hence "relieving" yourself is very helpful.

October 28th "Breathing is like etheral drinking.  It is a luxury simply to exist." Henry Ward Beecher- writer

Kevin has an interesting take on the above which I found to be beautiful:
Breath is life.  Life is breath.  If you have any doubts about the truth of those two sentences, stop breathing for a moment.  Life ends when breath ceases...It's said that few people really exercise their lungs when they breathe.  They breathe shallow as a rule, never exercising their full capacities.  They never take the gift of breath for granted.  Not runners.  They know its sacred importance... Live life, breath deep and run. 

October 29th "Nobody running at full speed has either a head or a heart." W.B. Yeats

Kevin goes on to talk about how we all are so very busy and how slowing down and using running to "help reset your internal clock. I truly believe in this because on the days I don't run I just don't feel as well as morning run days.  He also talks about how taking time to run, even during very hectic periods in your life it will benefit your body in so many varied ways

So a short running month, but I needed the recovery time and now with  a nother goal in my head (1,000+++ miles in 2012) I move onward to some more great runs.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Blog updates and some things I've found...

while sitting with my mom, sister and dad over the past couple of days. 

I've been at home with my mom and dad since Wednesday in prep for my dad's hip replacement that took place yesterday.  He is doing great and I'm totally impressed with how fast you come back after getting your hip replaced.  So since I've been spending a lot of time sitting I'm catching up on one of my favorite past times: blog reading.  I know so many of you are just as busy as I am and keeping up with all those blogs/posts can be well- unreasonable- so to save you some time here are some great posts I've read over the past two days: This one is so insightful.  Gives you a picture of what running can do for one person, but really for so many of us.  Awesome story.

Remember back this summer when I went to that running store in my home town and ran with that girl who was running across America BAREFOOT well here is her most recent post : .  I'm amazed that she only has 18 days left.  Super impressed and she is so right that it is so much more mental than physical.  Maybe she'll write a book about her adventure.

Plant Springs Bulbs Now This post written by my friend Skeeter's (nickname- not her real name- she reminds me of Skeeter from "The Help") sister.  She has a great garden blog, but has a lot more than just gardening in it- check it out if you like to read well written posts. 

Book Marks by Kim Baker  This is a great post reminding me that I'm not the only weirdo out there who gets all teary eyed or loves to walk down memory lane when thinking back to all those books from childhood.  It makes me all warm/fuzzy inside to think of those great "book memories".  Plus you have to click on this post just to see the picture of Kim as a child in her library- the shag carpeting is like a flashback from my own childhood. 

Well that's all for now.  Happy reading!


This coming November 11, 2012 I plan to run 8 miles in honor of World Run Day! Now I know that 8 miles isn't 26.2 miles, but taking a little break from the longer mileage and thought 8 miles sounded reasonable.  I recently read about this "day" and was intrigued to see it had so many things about running/life I love.  It is all about promoting running, raising someone's awareness of a charity in need and helping get running into the community.  The charity I've chosen to run for is the Coralville Ecumenical Food Pantry. World Run Day comes at a perfect time of year- the month in which we GIVE THANKS.  So if you would like to GIVE THANKS and join me in my fundraising RUN you can do so by doing either one or all of the following:

1. RUN with me or by yourself in honor of World Run Day (You can run as little or as much as you want) on Sunday November 11th 12 pm- 8 mile run total out and back from my house
2. writing a check and donating funds to the Coralville Ecumenical Food Pantry- address to send check to noted below or I'm happy to take checks in when I drop off donations.
3. Donate food noted on the "Food Pantry Wish" list.- I will pick up food from your home or you can drop off donations to my house. I will drop off donations the week following the run.   

The following is a little more information about the Coralville Ecumenical Food Pantry and also World Run Day.  If you have any questions about the RUN or the food pantry donation please don't hesitate to email or call me.  Hope everyone has a wonderful November full of GIVING THANKS!   Natalie

The Coralville Ecumenical Food Pantry (CEFP) offers temporary food assistance to residents who live within the Coralville city limits. Comprised of a group of volunteers from six local churches and members of the community, the CEFP focuses on meeting the needs of the local hungry.  These volunteers have been serving the needs of our community since September 2009.  It is the mission of the Coralville Ecumenical Food Pantry to engage our community in feeding our neighbors.  Our goal is to foster collaboration with all Coralville residents, businesses and organizations to end hunger in our community. We are thankful for a community which stands by this mission by providing ongoing support.  Those in need of food assistance know they can always depend on the Coralville Ecumenical Food Pantry.

Facts and Figures:
  • CEFP has helped more than 500 Coralville families in need of food assistance
  • CEFP had a total of 3646 client visits in the last 12 months*
  • 150-180 different families are served each month
  • 1227 unduplicated clients (433 children) were served at least once at CEFP in the last 12 months*
  • CEFP distributes between 7,000-9,000 lbs. of food per month, with almost 85,000 lbs. distributed in the last 12 months*
  • The average family visits CEFP twice a month and receives about 46 lbs. of food per month
  • The number of families served each month has increased 50% in the last 12 months*
  • 94.1% of CEFP annual expenses are food purchases
*12 month period from 7/2010—6/2011

You can send a check made payable to: Any size donation welcome!
Coralville Ecumenical Food Pantry (CEFP)
P.O. Box 5523
Coralville, IA 52241
$50 Contribution allows us to help a family of four with groceries for one week
$100 Contribution allows us to help that family for two weeks
$500 Contribution helps purchase meat/chicken for all families for two weeks
$1,000 Contribution buys fresh vegetables for all families for four weeks

Food Pantry Wish List:
We would appreciate all donations, particularly:
  1. Monetary Donations
  2. Canned meats or fish (tuna, chicken, beef or sausage)
  3. Peanut Butter (creamy or chunky, any size)
  4. Stews Or Meals In A Can
  5. Beans (canned Black, Pinto, Chili)
  6. Beans (dried)
  7. Rice (all sizes and varieties)
  8. Hearty Soups
  9. Canned Fruit
  10. Canned Vegetables
  11. Crackers (all types, saltines, oyster, snack crackers)

World Run Day was founded to celebrate the sport of running worldwide. Our mission is to broaden and promote the health benefits of running while also encouraging runners to donate to their own favorite charity on this special day. We support our mission by providing free tools to either individuals or groups who are interested in hosting a World Run Day event in their community. Through a combination of communications to members of the running community, the running industry, and various media outlets, we plan to bring awareness of the event internationally. Our belief is that by gaining attention through a worldwide celebration, we can educate others of the health benefits of running and secure a healthy future for both young and old. World Run Day’s programs and activities are guided by the following goals:

Promote Running — World Run Day works with partner organizations to promote the health benefits of running for all citizens young and old. Recent emphasis has been placed on running as a solution to end childhood obesity. Partnering with running organizations, schools, corporations, and charities occurs throughout the year.

Promote Charitable Giving — World Run Day is committed to having an international day of charitable giving as part of its running event. In many instances there is a lack of funding to help unfortunate people in their circumstances. The running community can help others who are the victims of natural disasters, disease, or any worthy cause embraced by the runner. We specifically request charities to partner with us to celebrate the run-for-charity concept.

Mobilize the Running Community — World Run Day reaches out to partners in the running community that hope to elevate the sport of running in their community while also promoting the benefits of running and providing locations for people to run locally.

Create Event Director Tools — World Run Day creates tools for local event directors to use (free of charge) which help produce a World Run Day event in their location. World Run Day also provides links to other resources that can benefit the event director.

Inspire and engage college students to become running leaders — World Run Day’s campus outreach program is intended to inspire members of a younger generation to lift the torch for youth runners around the globe. Getting runners within colleges and universities to participate is a goal that can combine the efforts of community service with local charity.

Support World Run Day Celebrations around the World — World Run Day November 11, 2012.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Goals: they are good for me...

It is the 1st of November and I only have two months left to finish my 1,000+++ miles of running for 2012.  I really have done a lot of running, for me, in this year 2012.  However, when I look at other mother runners I follow- blogs or daily mile site I really don't run that much.  Now granted one of the women I follow is likely 10 years younger than me and not married or with kids, but a couple of these ladies are moms with kids and some even full time jobs and yet their mileage weekly blows my weekly mileage out of the water.  I know, I know, I'm just having a 20 second pity party. But lately I've been starting the prep for next year thinking what else can I do, should I do, could I do better or different to help me a. stay healthy b. continue running races and c. maybe, just maybe get faster- every runner's dream :).  Before I move onto next year big plans I need to finish this year's goals.

Back to the topic at hand.  I have run 831 miles this year and with just two months left  I need to run another 169 miles over the next two months.  So- 84.5 miles in November and 84.5 in December.  I don't know why but this is kind of freaking me out.  That means about 20 miles/week and that just sounds like a lot to me right now. 

So why would 20 miles/week sound like a lot to a runner like me- not quite sure.  Maybe without having a race I'm training for that makes me less efficient with my running and feeling a little lost.  Maybe it is the post marathon blues and feeling a little like I've done it, I want a break.  However, I haven't really felt like I want a break I really have been wanting to run, but that first 1-2 weeks after the race I just didn't feel "right" running.  I felt sore, dead legs, and like parts of my legs hurt inappropriately- shin pain, hip pain, ITBand tightness.These pains made me think I was trying to come back to soon and was causing injury.  Well throw in a couple of trips/travels and my running has been off. 

So- you know me, well maybe you don't, but likely you do and know that a goal is a goal and so I will move forward.  I will plot a plan/schedule to finish my goal for 2012.  I'll keep you posted on how it goes- maybe that will give me more incentive to finish. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

In the opening pages of Jamie Ford’s stunning debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle’s Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.

This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry’s world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While “scholarshipping” at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship–and innocent love–that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept.

Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel’s dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family’s belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice–words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago. 

Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history,Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope. In Henry and Keiko, Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us of the power of forgiveness and the human heart.

The above synopsis taken from "Reading Group Guides"

We, the bookies, recently read this for our October book club.  I wasn't able to be at book club due to my travels this past week, but I started and finished the book during the Vegas trip.  I thought I was going to get more than one book done, but I enjoyed Vegas and hence wasn't reading a whole lot.  However, this book was a good one.  It has some serious subject matter: love, family, racism, World War II- just to name a few.  However, the story flowed very easily and the author did a wonderful job with character development.  I was amazed to find out that this author didn't live in Seattle where the majority of the book takes place, but instead lives in New York City.  This amazed me because I felt like he wrote about the environment around the main people in his story like he knew them, knew the places, knew the architecture of the building's, etc.  I highly recommend this book.  It was a great read!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Las Vegas- definitely more than drinking and gambling

I traveled to Las Vegas this past week.  Husband had a conference for 1 1/2 days and we enjoyed the other days together.  One of the nights we visited the Bellagio Fine Arts Gallery.  They are currently hosting an exhibit called Claude Monet Impressions of Light.  This exhibit was organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.  First off I think this is the first time my husband and I have ever been to an art gallery/exhibit together.  He's not a big classic art fan, but knew that I love Monet and impressionism so we went and viewed the exhibit.

It was GREAT!  I have known Monet's works since late junior high, early high school years.  I used to have a print of his in my college dorm room and then college apartment.  Alas I moved it on when we started having kids and needed to change the "guest room" into a children's room.  Anyways, the exhibit was great just because there were so many works of Monet's I've never seen.  Other French Impressionists were also highlighted in the exhibit: Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Camille Pissaro, and Eugene Louis Boudin.  It also was a GREAT exhibit because a free audio tour came with the price of entry, which I didn't think was bad ($16).  With almost every painting there was an audio description which was somewhat abbreviated or different than what was posted next to the art work.  So I felt like I was getting a full docent tour of the gallery.  As we were leaving my husband and I went around and pointed out our 1-2 favorites.  He surprised me further when he said we should get a print of one of the exhibit pieces.

Then the next day I had all to myself and so decided to look at more art and took the City Center Fine Art Collection walking tour.  We stayed at ARIA, which is a whole other post because of how beautiful it was, but quite a bit of the art on the tour was housed on the ARIA grounds.  At the concierge desk you can pick up your own walking tour brochure.  I started at 11:35 a.m., Midwest time, and finished 1:05 pm Midwest time. The tour was a little challenging because other than the name of the piece and brief description along with looking at the Map I had no real idea what I was looking for.  Most of the pieces did have a plague next to the piece with further information about artist, etc, so I did good by looking for those plaques, but some of the art work was too massive etc to have me find the plaques. So then I just asked for help.  Everyone was super nice and one of the employees of ARIA had a great idea- they should have placed pictures of the piece next to the description so people would know what to look for.

So the following are pictures I took with Iphone, sorry didn't take the chance of packing the "good camera" for this trip, but next time I should because there were so many great pictures to take while in Vegas.  The following pictures will have the name of the piece, year, artist and brief description taken from the brochure(words in italics) along with my take on the piece.  Enjoy the virtual tour.

Silver River, 2009 by Maya Lin
A recreation of the Colorado River, this commission was created entirely of cast reclaimed silver.  Considered to be one of the most important public artist of the 21st century, May Lin's work maintains a balance between art and architecture, including large-scale, site-specific installations,... such as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
This piece was awesome and my little phone picture doesn't due it justice.  In front of this piece is the registration desk at the ARIA.  The first time I saw this piece I thought it looked like a lightning bolt, but the river is definitely visualized.

LUMIA, ARIA Resort Main entrance
Twisting ribbons and large arcs of streaming water create bold, captivating "waters sparks" at their intersections.  Lumia is the first fountain to be lit so the vibrant colors are visible during daylight.
I just wasn't into this fountain.  It was neat at night with the light though.

FOCUS, ARIA Resort outside of lobby
Ever-changing choreographed patterns effortlessly sweep across this expansive, curved water wall, made of highly textured stone.  The all-enveloping flow creates a calming, ocean-like  timbre.
Probably one of my favorite pieces from the tour.  This wall was amazing.  It was very long at least a block long and at night the white flowing water was even more stark.  The sound was amazing too.

Bolt, 2007, Bent of Mind, 2008 and Untitled (Tall Column), 2008 by Tony Cragg
Cragg's biomporphic forms investigate the physics of materials and spark a dialouge between man, material and the world.  These three towering columns exemplify how the sculptor uses a material such as stainless steel to it fullest extent, pushing the boundaries of the material, while creating exceedingly graceful works of art with substantial presence.  
Sorry only took a picture of the one.  They were amazing pieces.  The material reminded me of liquid mercury.

New Walken, 2006 by Julian Schnabel
There were 9 pictures total, but these three were my favorites.  Christopher Walken has been captured in these pieces as the way in which I envision him to be: mysterious, serious, and keeps you guessing.  Beautiful pieces- art/photography, totally fascinating conversation pieces.

Champagne Supernova, 2009 by Tim Bavington
I had to go in the High Limit Slot room at ARIA to see this one.  I think this piece is vibrant, gorgeous, sexy, and anything with the name Champagne in its name is all right by me.  

Feeling Material XXVIII, 2007 by Antony Gormley
Over the last 25 years, Antony Gormley has reinvigorated the human image in sculpture through a radical investigation of the body as a place of transformation, using his own body as subject and tool.  this suspended reinvention of hte hum form interacts with the space on multiple levels.
Not my style, too abstract.

LATISSE Fountains ARIA North Lobby
Latisse soars as a series of two-story- high water falls composed purely of thick, textured glass.  Brilliant white lightning illuminates the sloping glass planes, producing the illusion of an elegant floor-to-ceiling chandelier.  
Another one of my favorites.  Again these pictures don't do the art justice.  The walls of glass were beautiful and watching the water flow down them was like art in an of itself.

Big Edge, 2009 by Nancy Rubins
With hundreds of boats carefully sculpted together, Nancy Rubins' monumental Big Edge creates the perfect centerpiece for the city's greatest architectural achievement.  Rubins a sculptor and artisan famous for grandiose works created from salvaged, industrial consumer goods, was selected for the collection based  on her ability to achieve this scale of work with such grandeur.
One of the most whimsical, funny and "put a smile on your face" art pieces I have ever seen.  The canoes were amazing and all different colors lent to the pieces playfulness.  

Day for Night, Night for Day, 2009 by Peter Wegner
American artist Peter Wegner's installations fuse art and architecture through the creation of towering sculptures made from he most ordinary object; a sheet of paper.  These two gridded stacks of blue and red have both the color balance of a great painting and the physical presence of a powerful sculpture.
The two smaller pictures above high light the overlapping of hues of colors that then form the massive pieces.  Can't even begin to think how long this piece took the artist and where or how you work on something so large.  

Damascus Gate Variation I, 1969 by Frank Stella
Frank Stella's incredibly vibrant art makes the Vdara Lobby come alive with its fluorescent colors and interweaving shaped canvas.  Recognized for more than 45 years for important contributions to abstract expressionism, sculpture and the concept of the shaped canvas.
On the plaque next to this piece there was further information about how this artist had a whole Protractor Series spanning 1967-1971- this piece once I read that is even more visually amusing and enjoyable due to looking for all the multiple protractors in the piece.  This was quite a backdrop for a hotel lobby.

Crossroads of Humanity, 2009 by Doze Green
Both the green and the blue pieces are seen on the outside of the tram at Monte Carlo/Aria and the tram center at Bellagio.  This artist is known for the early hip/hop graffiti movement which started in New York City. 

 Circle of  Chance

Earth, 2009 by Richard Long
Known as one of Britain's best-known sculptors and conceptual artists, the majority of Richard Long's works, inspired by the natural landscapes, are created using natural materials such as wood and stones.  With these two awe-inspiring wall drawings, we encountered his energetic use of mud from the River Avon, which Long applied directly with his own hands.
I really liked the Circle of Chance, but not so much Earth.  These pieces are housed in the two Veer towers, which are luxury condos right in front of ARIA and Vdara.  Amazing tours and amazing art work to grace their lobbies.

Typewriter Eraser, Scale X, 1989-1999 by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen
One of the best examples of celebrated pop artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen is this 24-foot-high Typewriter Eraser.  This playful use of a common everyday object, one that is possibly unknown to recent generations, is a unique experience, meant to elicit humor and curiosity.
 I can't remember ever seeing my mom use a typewriter eraser.  I remember her using a typewriter as a child, but don't remember this item.  It was interesting and did spark some curiosity in my mind. 

 Cactus Life-living with the Earth, 2007-2008 by Masatoshi Izumi
Masatoshi Izumi's graceful sculpture is made of large pieces of intricately poised basalt- a form of lava that has cooled on the surface of the volcano.  it towers more than 17 feet and weighs approximately eight tons.  Izumis' work celebrates harmony with nature by taking existing forms and altering them slightly to reveal an even more beautiful state.
Not my style, but would look cool in an arid southwest cactus garden.

Untitled, Dnago, 2002, Untitled, Triangle Dango, 1996 and Untitled, Dango, 1992 by Jun Kaneko
Japanese ceramic artist Jun kaneko's three works offer the perfect balance of scale and design, allowing the work to unify within the surrounding architectural design.  Made entirely of clay and fired in a giant kiln, the tallest of the three sculptures reaches and impressive seven feet tall, a difficult feat in ceramics.  The name "dango" means "Japanese dumpling".
Not my style, but went well with the motif housed in the entry to the Mandarin Oriental Resort in City Center.  I can't imagine having a kiln big enough for a 7 feet high sculpture.

Untitled (Volcano), 1983 by Jack Goldstein
Jack Goldstein's paitnings focus on imagery of natural phenomena, capturing the "spectacular instant," in this case, a volcanic eruption.  Goldstein is among the most influential postmodern artists of the 1970s and '80s and is widely recognized for his pioneering work in sound, film and painting.
I thought this piece was amazing.  It had a more contemporary/modern art feel, which normally isn't me, but I really enjoyed this piece.  It is housed on the 23 Sky Lobby of the Mandarin and as opulent as this piece is the view looking out the "sky lobby" is just as opulent.

 Rose II, 2007 by Isa Genzken
Isa Genzken's 26-foot rose sculpture rises delicately, infusing a sense of nature and beauty through the surrounding landscape and architecture.  Considered to be one of Germany's most prominent artists, Genzken's work ranges from sculpture to photography to painting that combines personal elements with references to architecture, modernism and art history.
This is a beautiful sculpture, but just felt like it belonged in a garden not in front of a shopping complex along Las Vegas BLVD.  Wonder what she thinks of the placement of her piece right on the strip?

Glacia Fountain in City Center
Galacia "cools" guests with large pillars of carved ice that rise as tall as 15 feet.  As each rises it is magically whittled into intricate patterns while mesmerizing spectral light contributes to a one-of -a-kind sensory experience. These ice sculptures were amazing.  I tried to take a picture of the information to explain further.

These weren't pieces on the tour, but to me they are definitely art work.  These awesome pumpkin sculptures were in the walkway through the City Center.  

The leaves, again not art work on the tour, but art to me when walking through and looking up at the ceiling of the City Center.  Felt like I was surrounded by the best parts of fall: colors, leaves, and pumpkins.

Halo Fountain in City Center
The unexpected nature of Halo's twisting water vortices, tipped as though about to fall, presents a sense of mystique for guests wandering among Crystals' lavish shops.  Stroll through, touch or embrace this maze of spinning water, all the while staying completely dry.
Very interesting and the "water tornadoes" were neat.

Tourterelle, 1997 by Francois-Xavier Lalanne
Best known for his bronze animal sculptures, Francois-Xavier Lalanne is one of the world's most original designer-sculptors.  Solo and with his wife, Claude, with whom he collaborated for the last half-century, Lalanne created sculptures that were reliably whimsical and witty.
These guys (there were two) were found on either side of the lobby doors when walking into the ARIA.  I felt like they were the "gatekeepers" to the Resort.  

Reclining Connected Forms, 1969-1974 by Henry Moore
English artist and sculptor Henry Moore was the most celebrated sculptor of  his time.  Inspired by the fundamentals of the human experience-the primary theme of his life's work- Moore's abstractions of the human figure usually depict mother and child or reclining forms.
Very cool sculptor that is found when you walk from ARIA to City Center Crystals.  It again reminds me of something that should be seen in a sculpture garden.   

Last but not least, this is a funny to end the art tour.  This time in Vegas the big thing were people were dressed up like characters and you could get your picture with them and put some money in their tip jars.  It reminded me of Disney Characters Lines, but just on the strip in Vegas.  The characters I saw during my stay: Spider Man, Hello Kitty, Minnie and Mickey, Caesar and Cleopatra, Ernie, Bert and Elmo, Bumble Bee Transformer, Optimus Prime Transformer, and ...
yep the Hangover Guy with Baby Carlos (he was everywhere and probably had the most tips in his jar).