Running Progress!

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I’m on vacation this week with the kiddo so what do I decide to do? Run.

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Yesterday was my first attempt at running the route I plan to use for the 5k race in April. I wanted to see if it really was the proper distance and yup, it really is.

My plan was to walk out the first mile and a half then walk/run back. The first part of that worked out great! The latter half was more like walk/run/limp/curse/run/walk… But I did it. I cannot ignore the fact that I DID IT.

I had planned to run again today but my knees hurt SO BAD, I did more of a power walk/light trot:

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And to be honest, with the way my legs are I probably should have just stayed off my feet for the day. This time I ran with braces on both knees and one on my right ankle. It was easier but I had to stop for every five seconds to pull the braces back into place. What a giant pain in the ass.

To put a little history on this, I started running using the C25K app in September of last year. Back then, a 30 minute light run would leave me feeling like I’m gonna die. I was 220 pounds (and I’m 5’7″). Now I’m 210 and it takes me 2 miles to make me feel like I’m going to die. I’ve been steadily getting faster and stronger.

To be clear, I am not doing this to lose weight. Completing a 5k has been something on my bucket list for over a decade but I could never get it done. During my marriage, my self-esteem was in the shitter and I was continuously sabotaged whenever I tried to improve myself. Now that that toxic person is out of my life, I made a promise to myself to be everything he tried to keep me from becoming. Skinny is not one of those things. I want to be strong and healthy.

The first run I did with the kid (who is signed up for the race with me) and both of us barely made it. Today, I did the run alone and yes, my knees are killing me.

But it does feel great that every day, I put miles on these knees and I can tell I’m getting stronger.

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I Did It: Zombies Run! Virtual Race 2017.

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I post a lot of stuff on Instagram that doesn’t get posted here (and visa versa) so if you have been viewing my activity there, you may have noticed I have been posting my workouts. I got into running and found that not only do I enjoy it, I’m not half bad at it for a big chick. Since I started; I’ve been able to go from taking 40 minutes to do a mile to my best time of 14:55 to do a mile.

I don’t know what it is in my brain but on my bucket list is to run a 5k; even back when I hated running. But the logistics of registering for a race, getting to the race, parking, getting home, or even making sure I don’t have work and all that stuff seemed like a nightmare.

Then I discovered Virtual Races.

The gist of that is, you log in (in this case, into the Zombies Run! app), switch on your GPS, and run wherever you want. You even get a shirt tag and a medal for the race! Seeing as how I’ve been using this app for awhile, I decided to go for it. I signed up for the race on April 8th.

And you all get to hear about me training, you lucky ducks…

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you are already familiar with the fact I’m no skinny person. Currently, I’m 210 lbs and I lost weight to get there. I’ve had shitty knees and ankles for most of my life because I was always a pretty active person and I’ve torn, sprained, and strained them several times. Despite this, I not only started running, but kept at it.

I started my training and right now it takes me 40 minutes to do 2.11 miles if I walk the first mile (at 3 mph) and walk/run the second mile (running at 4 mph). I am slowly working my way up to the full 5 km (which is 3.1 miles).

I am pumped and TERRIFIED to finally attempt this. I know if I fail, I’ll be crushed. I have surprisingly found many people online who are plus size and do enjoy running so I don’t feel as self-conscious as I thought I would. I even roped my kid into doing this with me.

To hold myself accountable, I’ll be posting my progress. I really hope I can do this…

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Finally Watched It: “Over The Garden Wall”

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Since the episodes are so short and I had some time, I decided to just binge the rest of this show.

My favorite types of shows are the type where you can tell the creators had real love for what they’re making and the freedom to explore their creation. It’s also another show where even though I wish it was longer, I wonder if it’s better off being short and sweet the way it is. You gotta give props to any story that can hook you quickly and leave you wanting more. But anyone who follows a story in any medium –  be it movie franchises, tv shows or book series – know how a series can go sour as it goes on.

Also, this is another show that can be enjoyed by adults and children. I think those types of cartoons are the best these days; especially speaking as a parent who it frequently trapped by horrid media that has me fleeing the room (I’m looking at you, Teen Titans Go). I would rank this show right up there in quality and storytelling with Avatar, Steven Universe, and Gravity Falls. Even Star vs The Forces of Evil. At first you think you’re watching something bright, colorful, and silly but then all of a sudden you’re dealing with some really mature, scary, and intricate situations. And seeing all these different styles of art is very inspiring and I will freely admit the songs have me tapping my toes.

Allow me to take a short mental minute to rant at why most mainstream movies these days can’t make me care about a character in an over 2-hour movie and yet a 20-minute cartoon can make me tear up aaaannnd, I’m done.

To sum up, I think if you like darker fairy tale stories like Secret of NIHM, or if you’re into the above-mentioned cartoons, I think you would enjoy this show. In fact, I think I’m gonna give it another watch just to make sure.

For research purposes, of course.

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February Birchbox

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My exact thought process upon opening this box was “Oh, this looks ni- OMG THANK THE FUCKING GODS! DRY SHAMPOO!”Having really gotten in to running (separate blog posts for that to come) and yet wanting to maintain straight hair on the rare occasions I do flat iron it; dry shampoo has been a miracle for me. I have the Amica shampoo and conditioner and I’ve tried Klorane (the tint is strange) and I’ve tended towards the Amica brand right now. It leaves the least amount of strange smell and residue and actually makes me feel cleaner without losing all that work of straightening my hair. Not to mention as I have mixed chick hair; frequent washing turns my hair in to straw. This made me SO happy.

Yeah, I don’t have much of an opinion on the rest… I’m all about that dry shampoo.

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Lenni Reviews: “One Saved to the Sea” by Catt Kingsgrave

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*This book is rated for 18+

Mairead is the keeper of the lighthouse now that her father has gone mad, her brothers are away at war, and her mother is gone. She has always watched the selkie dance on the shores even as a child but one night, Mairead catches the town idiot trying to steal a selkie’s skin. If you steal a selkie’s skin and hide it, you can keep the woman as your wife. Mairead is determined to keep the magnificent creatures safe.

At it’s core, this is a F/F romance with a fairy tale twist. It is quite steamy but lyrical and other-worldly. It was a quick read with Mairead being the oddball of her community searching for some direction in her life. For as short as it was, I did enjoy it. If you need a bit of saucy whimsy in your LGBT fiction, you could do a lot worse. 3.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Frostbitten Hearts” by Arial Burnz

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*I got this book for free and it’s rated for 18+

Jack and Aideen are prisoners in a nursery run by vampires and need to breed so the vampires can use the powers from their blood and get them to breed a spirit elemental to overthrow a tyrant king. Jack organizes an escape but Aideen gets left behind.

First off, 11% in and they drop the little gem of “since the age of fourteen, he’d been forced to bed each female in the nursery who was of child-bearing years.” That’s a pretty squiky little gem to have in your supernatural erotica romp. I had to mentally delete that information to get through the rest of this.

This story is supposed to be a stand alone but it’s painfully obvious this comes from a larger universe and would be better understood if you read the other books. Despite how original the world it, the expositional elements meant to get this story to be separate end up feeling terribly clunky. The ideas are there; separated lovers trying to get back together in the face of slavery and magic but reading it was like watching a TV show or movie on fast forward where you can hear things, see things, but not process things or get invested. All in all, it’s just OK. 3 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Sweet Lullaby” 1-4 by Al Scherkenback and J. Briscoe Allison

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is cross-posted at Otakus and Geeks.

Lullaby is an assassin working for an organization run by her father. To get to their targets, they go deep undercover; calling the operations ‘dreams.’ Lullaby is swift and precise but also in love. She wonders if a normal life is even possible and is torn between her loyalty to her father and the possibility of a civilian life.

The story is told by jumping back and forth between Lullaby’s childhood and her present day assignments. We get to see why she decided to become a killer, how she works, and what her usual targets are like. The entire organization uses sleep terms as monikers (Catnap, Z, Forty Winks, and the like), which I’m still on the fence about if that’s clever or silly. But it wasn’t enough to be distracting to the story. As for the art style, it kinda reminded me of Gen 13 in style and the lines, color, and lettering are well done and fun to look at.

The way the narrative is structured, I found it hard to really sink into the story. The moment I felt engaged, the timeline switched again. Not to say the story is bad at all. Interesting if a bit scattered; I give this a 3.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “A Girl on the Shore” by Inio Asano

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*This book is rated 18+

Ok, first off: this manga is pretty damn graphic and I am SO squicked out by that given that these are high school kids.

Sato has a crush on Misaki; the class playboy. When he offers to hang out with her, Misaki uses her and tosses her aside. Obviously hurt, Sato hooks up with Isobe; who actually likes her. Isobe offers himself up to her so use him so they have a purely sexual relationship but the longer it goes on, the move serious and complicated it becomes.

This is a pretty nihilistic book about kids trying to learn who they are in a sleepy town where nothing much really happens. They meander and float through life just like floating on a sea current and not having any plan where to go. It is absolutely a downer and can get gross in some parts but… OMFG they are so young and the graphic nature of this made me REALLY uncomfortable. I know the legal age in Japan is different (thirteen) but ew, ew, EW! I could have gone along in life quite happily without this burned into my eyes. I give this a 3 out of 5 and please pass the Brain Bleach.

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Lenni Reviews: “Counting to Zero” by A. J. Quinn

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

*This review is cross-posted at Otakus and Geeks.

The NSA orders Dr. Emma Thorpe to put together a team of hackers – off the books – in order to help the US government fight cyber terrorism. One of the people tapped is Paxton James, currently in an Indonesian jail because she was set up for a crime she didn’t commit. Paxton is willing to deal as long as it gets her out of jail and it doesn’t hurt that Emma is hot. But trust won’t come easy to the betrayed Pax or the hardened agent Thorpe and they must learn to deal with their mounting attraction and fight a cyber criminal with ties to Pax’s criminal past.

If you like your romances a little slow, this is a good example of the main couple having an instant attraction but not the insta-love so many romance novels tend to use as a trope. The situation these characters are in gives them some real issues to deal with so the real focus of this novel is the cyber crime. Quinn has created some smart, interesting, and fun characters who are a pleasure to get to know but somehow, it all comes off a little rushed. Granted, they’re chasing a cyber-criminal trying to kill people so it’s not like they have time to sit around and have tea to discuss their feelings. There is enough here to enjoy a quick, romantic thriller with some strong female characters. If I had one real gripe, it’s that Pax must be part terminator because every ten seconds she’s getting injured and recovers unrealistically fast. 3.8 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Orange: The Complete Collection” Vol. 1 & 2 by Ichigo Takano

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 On her first day of 11th grade, Naho gets a letter from herself… From 10 years in the future. She thinks it’s a joke until events in the letter happen exactly how they were written. The letter warns her about a new student in her class, Kakeru; with cryptic instructions to do whatever it takes to save him.

I had trouble putting this book down, which is why this is a combo review. Originally intrigued by the premise, I was stunned by how fast and how deeply I sank into this story. All the characters are written and drawn with so much genuine emotion, you really feel their pain and admire their courage and determination. At times they’re almost TOO selfless and nice but this collection takes an unapologetic and tearjerking dive into the nature of loss, regret, love, and the impact kind words can have on someone hiding their pain. Insightful and endearing, a highly recommended read. 4.7 out of 5.

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