Mylan Summit 2014 (and My Trip to Washington, D.C.!)

I’ve created a new Disclosures page to cover in greater detail what Mylan Specialty covered for the trip I’m about to discuss as well as other benefits I’ve received related to this blog.  Their provided disclosure is as follows but I didn’t think it covered everything a reader might ask about so feel free to scroll to the bottom of the disclosures page for more detail (though there is a spoiler in there about the DC leg of my trip that I covered myself):

I disclose in any communication made by me about EpiPen® (epinephrine) Auto-Injector and/or the Mylan Specialty Blogger Summit that such communication is at my own discretion and based on my own opinion.  I also disclose that my travel expenses were compensated by Mylan Specialty in exchange for evaluation and feedback on information presented during the meeting.

It is odd to say on the one hand my opinions are my own (they are) but in reality I do think I left the summit with a more favorable opinion of Mylan Specialty than before.  I don’t think it was because I had my travel covered as much as the act of traveling there and meeting with people passionate about food allergy awareness and advocacy in conjunction with their product (the “EpiPen”) did impact me.  I can see now why Jenny‘s story of starting the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference began with her experience gathering with other bloggers at a prior incarnation of the summit.  When she approached me about helping her bring the conference to life, she even said that she wanted the experience of connection and education to be available to not just the invited few but a broader audience.

It was such a boost to visit with some wonderful advocates on April 10th and 11th.  They say much of business is conducted before or after actual business hours in the form of relationship building but like true multi-tasking food allergy moms we made every minute together count.  Studious notes were taken, suggestions were made, and there were more than a few laughs thrown in for good measure.

So!  My husband points out to me that there’s the regular, concise way of saying things and then there is the “Homa” way.  I’m going to go with the latter though never fear, I won’t be pasting my type-written notes from the summit for readers to get through.  Thank heavens for small favors, right?  I won’t overload any of my e-mail subscribers with this full post because it is l-o-n-g so here’s the debut of my first ever “read more” tag on the blog, something I really can’t stand on other sites but I’m hoping you will click through and I promise it isn’t a pageview grab or anything.

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Food Find: Enjoy Life Decadent Bars

Enjoy Life Decadent Bars

It is always a happy occasion when a box bearing the Enjoy Life Foods sticker arrives at our door, though I did hesitate briefly when offered these bars to review (I was not compensated in any other way) because it had been hovering at 105 degrees Fahrenheit of late.  Vegas summers don’t kid around.  Luckily, putting the entire shipping box into the fridge the minute these arrived seemed to have protected these sweet treats.

In the interest of full disclosure, this was not my first taste of the new Enjoy Life Decadent Bars.  I ordered a Gluten Free Saver special a while back and though the kids adored them from the get-go, my husband and I were disappointed because of our own high expectations.

Speaking of our high expectations, I was at work the day the initial box arrived and my husband sent me this picture with the suggestion that I hurry home:

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…followed by this picture to assure me that our children “wouldn’t suspect a thing.”  It still cracks me up with the parenthetical:

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At any rate, my husband and I weren’t planning to buy Decadent Bars again because we still preferred Chewy Bars.  I think it is like when your favorite musical artist puts out an album that is good compared to other music in general but isn’t your favorite compared to their own previous work.  I know I feel disloyal when I don’t adore a song by Morrissey but sometimes it does happen.  I love Enjoy Life because they are not only top 8 allergen free but oat free which is a specific allergy my daughter has (her allergen list is currently: oat, peanut, tree nut, and sesame).

At any rate, though these aren’t the revelation Plentils were in our household, I’m so glad I gave these another chance as I now have some tips for getting the most out of the experience.  My husband and I agreed they were much better with the following caveats:

1) Don’t expect the flavors to match the names exactly – Chocolate Sunbutter is the most accurate of the four varieties, with Cherry Cobbler coming in second.  The Chocolate Sunbutter has a drizzle of chocolate and isn’t as sweet as the other flavors but in a very good way.  It lets the Sunbutter shine through.  The Cherry Cobbler seems to have other reviewers split about the strong fruity/tart flavor but it ended up being my favorite the fist time around because of the white glaze and the cherry notes offered something unique.  That said, the S’mores and Cinnamon Bun Decadent Bars weren’t what I expected.  Still a nice treat but they both had a strong date flavor that hides any intended marshmallow-esque (that’s a word, right?) or cinnamon ingredients.

2) Refrigerate the bars before enjoying – The first time I bit into the S’mores variety it was not what I expected but on the second go-around I found that the graham cracker texture comes through much better upon refrigeration.  This may not be a problem where you live but our house is always about 80 degrees.  The drizzles on the bars are more noticeable when they are refrigerated as well.  

3) Share with a friend (these are too sweet for adults to eat in one go) – When I initially heard the new line to follow the awesome Plentils from Enjoy Life involved more snack bars I wasn’t sure why.  We love the Chewy Bars so I worried the Decadent Bars meant the Chewy Bars may be phased out, however, once we ate these I realized they are very much a candy bar and therefore in a different market niche.  Colette Martin remarked in her own review of these bars that these fall in the treat category and I agree.  It seems that kids across the board love these, while I find kids are usually split 50/50 when we share Chewy Bars with the kids’ friends.  Something to consider as you decide on the right mix of snack foods to keep on hand.

Overall, these are a great option to add to your arsenal but see how you like each flavor on its own merits and make sure they’re kept on a refrigerator shelf out of reach of certain small individuals (who will remain nameless) that have figured out how to open candy bar wrappers.

Enjoy!

Calico Racing’s 2013 Running from an Angel 50 Miler, Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K, and 5K Race

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I ran my first 10K race!  Since my last running update when I ran Calico Racing’s Recycled 5K, I’ve been increasing my running distances to get ready for the half marathon in March.  On December 8, 2012 I ran my longest distance, 10 miles, in 1:59:27.  Having broken the double digit barrier I decided to scale back and run 5Ks for my two weekday runs and 10Ks for my long run on the weekend until the Running from an Angel 10K on January 12th.  The weather was gorgeous on my last weekday run before the race, 52 degrees instead of the 32 degree temperatures I’d been running in – I was excited for a repeat of the weather on Saturday but alas, it was a lot colder in town by then and especially by beautiful Lake Mead (pictured above).

The race start was a little later than I’m used to: 8:50 a.m. (I usually get up at around 5 a.m. to gear up for a run before the kids wake up).  I broke my own rule of not doing anything new on race day and ate a little breakfast at 7.  Sure enough, I wasn’t feeling great on the drive down to the Lake Mead National Recreation Area but by the race’s start I felt fine.  The race takes place in the fee-based part of the park (usually we’ve parked by the trail for the Six Tunnels hike and didn’t make it to the fee area) so we paid our $10 (my husband remembered cash, I would have forgotten) and drove to the parking area.  We debated walking from the free parking but I’m glad we didn’t try.  After packet pickup we were able to warm back up in the Subie, and pin our bib numbers on without fumbling with our gloves on.

We’d registered for the race way back in August 2012 so I’d requested a Medium shirt and my husband had requested a Large – both were too big for us!  I was able to swap for a Small but he didn’t mind hanging on to his Large though I have to mention he’s now lost almost 70 pounds in the last 8 months.  I am so amazed and proud of all of his hard work.  We’ve both been using MyFitnessPal.com and have had a lot of success with tracking our exercise and calories.  I reached my “30 before 30 goal” right before the new year so I’m down 30 pounds myself – it is so important to us that we’re healthy so we can be there for our kids.  I think they’re a big part of why we decided to get healthy.  I digress, but I know many people start running for the weight loss benefit but even with losing the weight I think what really makes me feel good about myself is putting my shoes on and running distances I never thought possible (for me).  I never even ran in high school P.E., I was always in the straggler group around the track still walking.

Well, not anymore!  One of the coolest things was that I wasn’t nervous before the race as everyone lined up.  I had worked a long day the day before so I didn’t have the energy to toss and turn that night and I ran into several friends that have been my running cheerleaders.  Jodymarie was doing the half marathon (it had been her first half marathon last year so she was running it again!) while my friends Angie (check out her awesome first half marathon recap here) and Kristi (who most recently ran the Rock and Roll 1/2 Marathon here in Vegas for the second year in a row) were doing the 10K.  It was a surprise to run into all of them, I even saw a few familiar faces from law school on the course as I ran, which all went to making me feel at home.  I have to also mention my friend Kacey, who ran the 2012 Running from an Angel race as her very first half marathon at 5 months postpartum – her recap is part of why I thought I could try running myself.

I was so excited to be chatting with my friends that I didn’t notice my husband line up near the starting mat.  Our plan was to use the delay start on our Run Keeper app so we could get our phones into our tune belts (amazon affiliate link) and gloves back on.  I started my app right before I crossed the mat so my tracker didn’t kick in until a minute later.  In a way, it was good because I would see a mile marker and then get the confirmation about a tenth of a mile later that I’d done that distance (the reverse is usually more discouraging).  My initial pace was fast, even uphill, so my first mile came in at about a 9:20 minute/mile pace.  Too fast, but race starts will do that to you.  By mile 2 my split was almost 11 minutes, my mile 3 and 4 it was almost 12 minutes per mile.  I was trying to attack the hills, not get injured, and have some energy left at the turnaround point.  With a 5K you know as soon as you start that you can push yourself and still finish but with a 10K I think there’s more planning involved, especially on a course that isn’t flat.  I saw my husband already heading back when I was about 26 minutes in and not near the turnaround point.  I had lost sight of him early on because of the hills.  The crazy thing is that I then did something I’ve never managed, even in training: getting faster at the end of a run (“negative splits”).  Mile 5 was at an 11:15 pace, Mile 6 at 10:59, and the .2 bit at the end was a downhill 8:58 minute pace.  I think that last bit had to do with seeing my husband at the finish line waving me on.  I love running races with him but also hope someday I can return the favor and cheer for him at a finish line.

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Official chip time: 1:08:00.8 for a pace of 10:58 minutes per mile.  Not only a record for me since it was my first 10K race, it beat my best training run by almost half a second and was at a faster pace than my 5K race in October.  I can’t believe it!  I knew my GPS tracker was off because of my glitches at the start so the official time was a real surprise to me.  So encouraging to do that well on race day and on a trickier terrain – you can see the elevation in green on the image above.  I also included a shot of the course so you can get an idea of the beautiful views we had with the lake right there.  I got the exciting news that my husband finished 12th overall which is fantastic – he really rocked the course and we’re both excited for the half marathon we’re doing the day before our 6th wedding anniversary in March!

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Here’s a picture of me (on the left) with Angie (middle) and Kristi (right) wearing our medals.  I got cheers from both of them when we would pass one another on the course!

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This is a shot of the finish line from where they had refreshments laid out.  Someone was making fresh pancakes for people which I thought was so indicative of the kind of outfit Calico Racing is – very personable!  I made a cup of tea (best idea ever for after a cold race, though by the end of the race I’d shed my gloves and panda hat) and grabbed a banana and applesauce for the car in case I needed them but I never like to eat after running so I ended up giving those to the kids.  E and R were most excited about the medals but the race banana comes in a close second (we even had bananas at home already!).

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The wing theme was pretty cool – I saw people wearing wings on the course and our race tees (long sleeve tech tees, very nice) have white wings printed on the blue shirt.  I will wear my shirt proudly.

I still have never experienced a “runner’s high” but I was left feeling like a real part of this community.  I spent my childhood moving from place to place.  I moved to Las Vegas in the summer of 2000 but going to an event and getting to connect with friends we’ve made here and to not feel like an outsider makes me feel like I really love this place.  I think the change happened a little after our brief foray to Winnemucca, Nevada for almost a year.  We never thought we would move back, but when we did we knew we had to make an effort to make this our home.

“Bloom where you’re planted,” as a friend once told me.  I think in the last three years especially we’ve done just that.  I can still voice things I’d like to see improved here, like education or access to justice, but Nevada is our home and it really feels like I’m home.  I know it is already a little after the new year but if you are feeling unstuck or out of place where you are, please consider taking up a hobby or connecting with people in your community.  Resolve to reach out in real life (the internet is a great facilitator but I quit Facebook a few months ago and am glad I am focusing more on making time to meet people for lunch or playdates instead of just sending greetings out into the ether) and the results may surprise you.

2012 was a rough year.  We had many scares and struggles but reaching out for happiness is never a mistake.  Every day is another chance to start something and before you know it you’ll be looking back and seeing that you made a positive change in your life.

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Favorite songs during the race:

Imagine Dragons – On Top of the World (amazon affiliate link)

Tidal Wave – Sub Focus (amazon affiliate link)

Taylor Swift – Red (amazon affiliate link)

Ed Sheeran – The A Team (amazon affiliate link)

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Also, I made a page to gather my running posts: Couch to 5K and Beyond

Calico Racing’s Recycled 2012 Half Marathon, 10K, and 5K Race

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Earlier this year I decided I’d set myself the goal of running the Vegas PBS 5k on October 6, 2012.  When the FAAN Walk conflicted as it was that same morning, I decided to find another October 5k to try.  Mind you, this was all before my spontaneous decision to run the Terminal 3 5K in the middle of my Couch to 5K plan.  I finished One Hour Runner at the end of September so I probably should have signed up for the 10K race for October but I had no idea I’d be able to be at a 5K distance at that point, let alone a 10K one!  We surprise ourselves sometimes…

Calico Racing is a local outfit with founder Joyce Forier at the helm.  I’d heard from other runners that Ms. Forier puts on great races and they were right!  I saw her at the start and at the finish cheering folks on and being genuinely happy to be there.  Her volunteers were fantastic as well.  Even though the theme of the Recycled race was that the shirts and finisher medals offered in exchange for a discounted race entry fee would be recycled, I never felt like the race was an afterthought.  Plus, the chosen charity of Calico Racing benefits cats so how could it be anything but an awesome race?  My husband and I arrived early at the Railroad Pass Hotel and Casino and were directed to the parking lot near the registration table.  It was windy and cold on October 27, 2012 and we grabbed our packets, Calico Racing themed tech tees, and sat in the Subaru for a while to warm up before going into the casino to wait for the race to start.

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I hoped that things would warm up when the sun peeked over the mountains but the wind had other plans.  The half marathoners started first, then the 10K runners (pictured below getting ready to head out), and the 5K group (the largest contingent) went last.  Our loop was 1.55 miles out and back, though I had read in advance that there would be hills I don’t think I anticipated an uphill stretch right away.  The first incline began after the start line you see below, we turned left into an almost U-turn and were off!  My husband was very quickly a red blur in the distance but I am nowhere near as fast as he is so we had not planned to actually run the race alongside one another.

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When I ran Terminal 3’s 5K the majority of the crowd was ahead of me as I walked the first 5 minutes or so, but running from the get go was a different experience in crowd management for me.  I got into my pace for a little bit before weaving around walkers to find my own running spot on the course.  I ran the whole thing non-stop!  It was a goal of mine and I was really pleased about it.  Another goal was to beat my Terminal 3 5K time (43:53) and the hills made me nervous about accomplishing that.  A few weeks back a 12 minute mile was “pushing it” for me on a flat course but with my continued training I was shocked to realize that I was keeping an almost 11 minute mile pace the whole way out and back!

I saw my husband on the return loop when I was 15 minutes in so I knew he was going to get his goal of a sub-25 minute 5K – he achieved a 24:24 time to be 7th overall, I’m so proud of him!  I managed a time of 34:19 which was a huge improvement since June and you can tell by my smile in the official race pictures (1, 2, and 3 – I put my bib number on the back of my jacket because I worried about needing to unzip it during the race, the pig tails were just for fun) that I felt awesome heading for the final stretch.  I think downhill is the perfect way to finish a race, by the way, but my favorite moment was in the first mile when I reached the top of a hill and saw Las Vegas’ skyline stretching out in the distance, framed by the sandy colors of the mountains by the Lake Mead area.  Running somewhere so beautiful certainly gave me a boost.

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At the finish I loved seeing my husband waiting for me, he’d already had a snack and recovered considerably from his run.  I realized that my leg was shaking a bit when I was stopped for the removal of my timing chip from my shoe (thank you to the volunteer who stopped me, by the way, I would have forgotten to return it otherwise).  My “Recycled” medal was from Calico’s 2012 Once in a Blue Moon run and it had a recycled sticker on the back so I held that side up for my post-race photo.  My husband got the same medal so it helped when we came home and let the kids wear them.  E was all over the idea of wearing a medal but R was more interested in the banana I had brought from the finish line food.  There was a great selection of food and drink after the race but not much seemed vegan (though I think it all was vegetarian) so I opted for the banana.  Then it was time to head home, my mother in law was watching E and R (who both were awake when we left the house for some reason) and we had an event at the park to get to that morning.

I am excited for my next Calico race in January (a 10K!) and finally registered for the one after that: the Red Rock Half Marathon in March 2013.  My goal for the 10K is to run the whole way and finish smiling.  I think I can finish it in around 75 minutes but it is supposed to be hilly and it will be my first 10K race so I want to just do my best.  In January it will have been a year since I started on my journey as an adult-onset runner which is exciting.  I know you don’t have to race to run but I think the Recycled 5K boosted my spirits after the rough time I’ve been having just with life in general so I like having another race to look forward to when I need to stay motivated to train and exercise.

One Hour Runner Review and What I’m Doing Next

I finished Couch to 5k at the end of July 2012 and followed up with a 10 week training plan called “One Hour Runner” (see my previous post for more details about why I chose One Hour Runner over Bridge to 10k).  Half an hour of running had seemed daunting at the start of Couch to 5k and starting 10k training was just as daunting.  How could I run an entire hour without walking?

The other issue with looking ahead and thinking about that hour run was that it was still really hot here in Vegas despite being 4 or so in the morning when I’d head out.  Many mornings the night air never cooled below 90 degrees before it started ticking up again for the new day.  The mental game for me with running seems to occur at the start of my runs.  I have read that for some people it is the getting out the door that is the trick but I viewed that as a practical matter.  Long nights with little children make you no stranger to early wake up calls, after all.  The first five to ten minutes for me are usually the hardest.  That is when I have the whole distance ahead of me and I am not feeling my best.  Then the minutes start to tick by and with each one that I’ve put behind me the run is more manageable.  After 15 minutes into a 30 minute run, for example, I just think to myself, “I just have another set of 15 minutes left and I just showed myself I can do it.”

The moon and I had some nice times together on my runs, with the right music and the sky to look at I can see now why people are able to run longer distances.  It doesn’t get boring and sometimes you get zoned out enough that it breezes by.  I don’t mean to make it seem like this is something I count the minutes to the end of, I think there’s that right mix of feeling challenged but also hoping you have enough energy to finish strong with each mile you get under your belt.

The temptation hit near the end of the program, I think I had 3 or 4 weeks left in the training plan, to push myself to longer times than I was required to.  At the end of week 7 or 8 I ran 1 hour 15 minutes and 15 seconds to accomplish my first ever 10K distance.  It felt empowering to figure out I was capable of so many miles.  Knowing I could do an hour helped me not stress about the rest of the program.  The temptation hit again the next week when I wondered if another 15 minutes (90 straight minutes of running) could carry me even further.  I was able to do over 7 miles that day!

For the final “graduation” run I actually only did another 10K but the big thing was knowing I had decided what training I was going to tackle next: a half marathon.  Now, I wanted to try for one in December of 2013 but my husband was looking into sprint triathlon training and wanted to get a half marathon in during March of 2013.  One day before our wedding anniversary at same area where we got engaged, to boot.  I wasn’t going to miss out on that one even though we’ll probably be running at our own respective paces.

So I have about 23 weeks to train for my first half marathon.  I have a 5K this month, I had planned in January that my goal 5K would be in October so it is funny that I am way beyond that distance 10 months later.  I also have a 10K race in January 2013 even though I hit that distance sooner than I thought as well.  So why not a half?  Besides, so many inspiring people I know run them all the time.  I can do this…right?

My goal is to complete the 13.1 distance with little to no walking.  All my upcoming races are pretty hilly so I will be trying to get better at handling runs uphill which is a weakness for me.  My husband has been out on some of my runs at the same time which is great, especially since I haven’t been feeling too great about running in our neighborhood this past week.

The above shot I took while running and played with some Instagram filters a little bit.  I like how it just looks like a random texture.  All these photos are ones I’ve shared along the way as I worked to complete the training program.  I can’t compare it to Bridge to 10K because I didn’t go that route but the 10 week gradual increase worked out great for me.

With cooler weather I just felt better all around but I am glad to know I got through the entire summer, start to finish, getting out there and running at least three mornings a week.  I haven’t been cross training but I’ve been continuing to count calories and am about 20 pounds down now!  I was a size 14 when I started and now I am a size 8 pant and even that is getting loose on me.  My initial goal was to lose 30 before I turned 30 in February 2013 and I’m on track to do that and then some.  I believe my new weight loss goal will be 40 pounds total but I’ll see how I feel at each stage.

My husband and I were able to run in San Diego while on vacation and the cool air was lovely even though the humidity was something I could have done without.  During our stay the San Diego Triathlon went by our hotel which was very neat and I believe sparked my husband’s idea to do the Las Vegas Triathlon next September.  We also had some treadmill time which was new to me – I discovered that my pace is way over what it should be – you’re supposed to run at a conversational pace heart-rate wise and I have been pushing too hard when I run.  I need to work on a more measured pace but luckily with more running my pace has improved anyway.  12 minute miles used to be much more of a struggle and now 11 minute miles feel the way 12 minute miles once did.

With Couch to 5K included I have run for 19 weeks straight and before that I was running off and on without a training plan since the end of January 2012.  Time passes so strangely – it feels fast when I just rattle off that I started in January but it took a lot of work to get where I am right now.  At the same time I wonder what other goals I can set and look back on.  55 days ago (I am 155 days into tracking everything I eat on My Fitness Pal) I committed to not eating potato chips at all.  I couldn’t be trusted to weigh them accurately.  Other chips I was fine with but not potato chips.  Here I am and I am still going strong.  I want to make more resolutions to be healthier, I am so pleased with just feeling better about life when I am active.  I don’t feel like I was just dealt this hand where I am the out of shape one, I can make my own destiny (to a point, of course).

The other thing that has struck me is that I need to run for those that can’t.  I think about people I care about a lot when I run, I also compose blog posts in my head which is odd considering how September only had one post here but I promise I think about how I am processing life in general and how communicating that may be of use to someone, somewhere.

I considered two main plans for half marathon training, one by Jeff Galloway and one by Hal Higdon.  Miriam over at Sometimes I Veg is a hardcore half marathoner and told me the Galloway method includes walking which is fine but I have been sticking with running goals all this time so her suggestion was to check out Hal Higdon’s plans.  I have noticed that all training plans have gradual increases of weekly mileage so with about double the time to train (Higdon’s plan is 12 weeks) I have a lot of flexibility.  Which is good considering it has gotten cooler and it is tricky some days to get out the door, run, and come back in time so that my husband (who is watching the kids) can go to work.  We’d like to run together more too since the neighborhood feels less safe and it is darker in the mornings.  At any rate, the big plan right now is to do two “short” runs per week of increasing amounts – from each being 3 miles to 4, to 5, etc. as shown in the Higdon plan and then also increase the longest weekly run as well.  Higdon’s book (amazon affiliate link) is one we’ve gotten from the library and though it is about a longer distance, his writing is engaging and has helped focus some of my plans for approaching distance running. I would love to know I am capable of 13.1 before the race out at Red Rock and also do a training run on the actual terrain.  There’s the 5K and the 10K to look forward to as well.

I think what I’ll do is keep track of my runs as I have been all along and check in on the blog at the point of each of the upcoming races leading up to the half marathon.  I’ll have to explore fueling and hydration options as well as phone carrying ideas as my mileage increases.  I also need to get properly fitted for running shoes as my pronation in my neutral shoes is putting stress on my ankles.  I don’t want to get injured, that is for certain.  The other cool thing is that the half marathon is just a week or so after my 30th birthday so I am already excited about what the next few months holds.  I have been seeing an increase in my caseload at work and working on our new firm website so that is taking time and attention but really there’s nothing like going into a court hearing after having run in the morning.  I feel confident and ready to take on the world.  Whether or not that is actually the case, I don’t know, but feeling good is part of the battle, I’m sure.

Favorite running songs of late include:

Sia – She Wolf (amazon affiliate link)

The Script – Hall of Fame (amazon affiliate link)

Passion Pit – Take a Walk (amazon affiliate link)

Of Monsters and Men – Little Talks (amazon affiliate link)

Karmin – Hello (amazon affiliate link)

Demi Lovato – Give Your Heart a Break (amazon affiliate link)

Calvin Harris – We’ll Be Coming Back (amazon affiliate link)

In fact, “Little Talks” is on my playlist multiple times – I have fallen in love with the lyrics.  Here’s a link to the music video but maybe listen just to the music first since the video might be distracting at first.  The song has a male and female vocalist and the female vocalist sings “There’s an old voice in my head / that’s holding me back,” to which the male vocalist responds, “Well tell her that I miss our little talks.”  I really like the idea of treating that voice of “can’t” as if it is just something to talk yourself out of.  I realize this may not be the intent of the writers but in this moment of time it had that particular meaning for me.  My runs are turning into little talks with myself to prove that I can be stronger than I thought possible.  I’d especially like for my children and husband to be proud of me.  Here’s to reaching 13.1 (and beyond)!

The Smith Center – Wicked (Broadway Series) and Mix 94.1 Underground Lounge Event

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When tickets went on sale for the inaugural season of the Smith Center I knew I had to have them not so much for the four shows that were included but for the place in line they would give me for Wicked tickets.  I have wanted to see Wicked for years, ever since I received the soundtrack (amazon affiliate link) as a gift and loved it.  After missing the last minute lottery for tickets in Tempe, Arizona a few years ago I knew I had to get tickets to see it in Las Vegas.  It did not disappoint, and as an added bonus I won tickets to a special private performance through a twitter contest a few weeks after my husband and I saw the full performance!

The story of the musical is based on Gregory Maguire’s book of the same title (amazon affiliate link, as of writing this the Kindle edition of the book is only $2.99) but does diverge from the book (Wikepedia).  Set in the fictional land of Oz and looking at the events leading up to and including the book by L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, it is a lavish and beautiful musical.  There were so many details that I don’t think I ever once wondered how much time had passed as we sat in the Smith Center.  The Review-Journal said that the musical has heart and I agree.

The story follows Elphaba (later “The Wicked Witch of the West”), born with green skin and ostracized even in her own family growing up, as she rises to infamy.  I didn’t expect the story to cover the period of time when Dorothy is in the land of Oz or to almost be equally the tale of Galinda (later “Glinda the Good Witch of the South”).  The songs gave me goosebumps and I was worried that being so familiar with the soundtrack I would notice differences with this live touring group of performers but I loved all their voices.  In fact, I preferred many of them over the soundtrack versions, they really made the show their own.

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I was on cloud nine after the show and even my husband had a nice time though I think some of the angst in the friendship of Glinda and Elphaba wasn’t as appealing to him as it was to me.  Randomly I was online in time to enter (and win!) a Twitter contest for tickets to a hear a set of three songs from Wicked live at the Smith Center, sponsored by our local radio station, Mix 94.1 (part of their Underground Lounge series).  We were able to hear the performers for Elphaba, Glinda, and Fiyero sing accompanied by the musical director for the Wicked touring company (I did not write their names down but will update this post with them when I am able to confirm them).

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We had actually seen the understudy for Fiyero perform the day we caught the full performance of Wicked and made sure to let him know during the meet and greet that we had really enjoyed the show.  All three were poised and so talented.  How amazing it must be to get into character and sing your heart out.  The songs we were treated to were: “The Wizard and I,” “As Long as You’re Mine,” and “For Good.”  All three became my new favorites, I don’t know if that makes me easily swayed but I honestly heard so much nuance and beauty in the songs that I sometimes would skip through to get to the more soaring notes of “Defying Gravity.”

Thank you to the Smith Center, Mix 94.1, and the entire cast and crew from Wicked for sharing all this talent with Las Vegas.  Such a treat and worth every bit of anticipation both for the actual show and for the bonus performance.  I first read that Wicked was coming to Las Vegas when our son was still a newborn and I recall doing the math in my head and hoping that he would be old enough to be without me for a few hours by the time the show rolled in.  Sure enough, both the kids were great for Grandma when the big day arrived.  I just realized that I’ve been smiling the entire time I wrote this post just remembering the wonderful experiences.  My favorite Smith Center show to date!

The Smith Center – The Color Purple (Broadway Series)

My wonderful husband got tickets to the inaugural season of the Smith Center for the Performing Arts‘ Broadway Series as my Christmas/Birthday/Valentine/Anniversary/Every-Holiday-in-Perpetuity-Because-Let’s-Face-It-Tickets-Aren’t-Cheap and first up was The Color Purple.  Now, my husband had read the book in high school but I only had a chance to read the Wikipedia summary before we went.  I am glad I got an idea of where the story was going to go because it was intense but in the right sort of way.

The songs were amazing, so many talented people performed, and I was just so enraptured with the building and Symphony Park.  Here are some photos I took.  I know I’m in two of them so feel free to avert your eyes!  A special thank you to my mother in law for watching the kids – it was my first time away from R for four hours – it was splendid.

The building style is meant to echo Hoover Dam and does so with so much style and grace, I was in awe.  The only thing we were puzzled by was the parking set up but I think they’re still working on that.  Arrive 30 minutes early at least!

That’s me in the skirt – I wanted to dress up a little bit even though it was a 2pm show.  Most people were dressed up which was fun! My shirt is one I was wearing the day I met my husband, I remember weird details like that…

Above is a shot of the view as you enter the main hall just after having your tickets scanned.

I loved all the silver, a great nod to Nevada’s mining history.

The same fonts from Hoover Dam, I believe!

Here’s the stage as we were waiting for the show to begin…

I want to thank my friend Janelle for sharing the info about season tickets when she got hers so I could frantically call my husband and ask about getting them too.  She actually saw the show the day before we did and has some great photos up on her blog.  I want to go to shows here for many years to come, you just can’t beat live theater.  Next up: taking E to see Mary Poppins!