Monday, March 26, 2012

Big News!

Hey guys!

Our little family is about to make some BIG changes.

[Not in the pitter/patter of little feet way. I promise this is not a pregnancy announcement!]

Shane and I have decided [after a whole lot of talking/soul searching/thinking/stressing] that he will not be re-enlisting in the USMC. He does plan on joining the Reserves, but will no longer be active duty.

We’re also moving. To Orlando. In June.

I plan on starting school and getting us established in a new city while he finishes up his contract. It’s a pretty huge step for us, but we’ve decided it’s the right one for our family. So, Orlando, here we come.

I’ve been researching apartments in the area, and I think I may have found the perfect one…


So! There it is, our big news. I’ll be sure to share updates on the process as they happen. Hopefully this goes smoothly, though… moving rarely does for me.

Have a great day, y’all!

Monday, March 19, 2012

My Experience With Mighty Mo’

Hey guys!

I was just looking through old photos, and it made me very nostalgic. I realized I’ve done some pretty cool things, especially during my military years. I figured I’d take a moment and share some of them with you guys. (in other words, I’m taking a trip down memory lane, and I guess I’ll invite you on the journey!)

I went underway with the USS Missouri. Twice. (Underway is a Naval term meaning a ship is no longer at port, or in layman’s terms: out to sea.) The USS Missouri (nicknamed “Mighty Mo”) is the USN battleship that is most famously known as the site of Japan’s surrender during WWII, and was the last battleship in the Navy to be decommissioned. It is now located at Pearl Harbor, and serves as a memorial museum.

Needless to say, since 1992 when Mighty Mo was decommissioned, it’s been pretty impossible to go “underway” on her. However, in 2009, the ship needed to transfer to dry-dock for repairs. Several units in Oahu were contacted asking for volunteers as line-handlers to help the historical ship cross the Harbor to the Naval dry-docks located at Naval Base Pearl Harbor. I immediately volunteered. This was, after all, a once twice (once for the journey into dry-dock, and once again for the return) in a lifetime opportunity!

So my best friend Ally and I got up long before the sun and made our way to the ship. Obviously I have issues with caking on makeup when getting ready that early….


We arrived at the USS Missouri, and had some time to meet up friends and chat for a few minutes before they broke us up into line handling groups and gave us instructions. (These were sorely needed, since the last time I had any line handling training was in boot camp, almost 5 years earlier!)



Once we were away from the pier, we were pretty much on our own to entertain ourselves. They had some of the museum tour guides on board, so we got a free tour (although the artifacts usually on display weren’t on the ship, for preservation reasons!). I had been to the USS Arizona memorial before, but never the USS Missouri. It was a beautiful day on the water, and even though the trip across the Harbor was quick (30-45 minutes if I recall correctly.) it was an amazing experience. Once we arrived at the dry dock, that’s when things went down hill.

It took about 8 hour (I think, though it may have been longer) for the ship to get settled into the dry-dock and for the water to be pumped out, and we couldn’t leave until it was finished. We were extremely unprepared for this, since we had only about 12 hours notice we were even doing this. (Literally, my supervisor had called me at home the night before!) We had no food, no drinks, nothing to sit on, no shade. There was a small portion of the inside of the ship we were allowed, but most of it was deemed off limits, since there was no electricity, and it was deemed a safety hazard. We did manage to entertain ourselves. Adapt and overcome, right?! ;)

They did send up some chips and bottled water from the pier at one point, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. Basically, we all got a nice lesson in the Navy’s unofficial motto:


All in all, it was a fantastic experience that got this Sailor out from behind a computer screen and on a ship. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Luckily, it was only a few short weeks (or months…) until they were requesting volunteers again for the return home. I didn’t even hesitate before signing my name up! :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

St. Patrick’s Day Fun

Hey guys! I hope everyone had a fun (and safe!) St Patrick’s Day! Our friends invited Shane and I to go to the St. Patrick’s Day festival on the Emerald Isle yesterday morning. We originally had plans to stay home and clean the house, but those flew out the window. Next thing you know, we’re decked out in green and ready to go!


The festival was okay, lots of carnival-type food and local businesses who had set up shop. My biggest complaint was there were so many people packed into such a small space, but it wasn’t that big of a deal. Honestly, I was just so glad to get outside and enjoy some beautiful weather! I even found this gem at one of the stands.


Yeah, I can’t wait to hang that sucker up! Lol. I was also on a mission to drink green beer this year, since I’ve never done that. Yes, I know it’s just food coloring in beer, that’s not the point! I’ve always wanted to, but every SPD since I’ve turned 21 I’ve either had duty, was working, or was deployed. So I decided this was the year. We went to a local bar/restaurant here on the island because our friend has been raving about its food since we moved here, and they had a bagpipe player.

The waitress comes and takes our drinks order, lo and behold, I guess it’s illegal here to put food coloring in beer, so no green beer. Boo. Oh well, Shane and I just ordered melon-tinis to get our festive on. I ended up drinking both of them, since he wasn’t a big fan. Our friend was right about the food, though. It was phenomenal! We plan on going back for one of their trivia nights.


We came home and relaxed the rest of the evening. All in all, a pretty great day! Today we’re cleaning the house and grocery shopping. I’m also going to squeeze in a run, I mean, how can you say no to this?!


Have a great weekend everybody!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


It’s official, I’ve been bitten by the obstacle race bug. (Also any race involving the undead!) I have two more races this year to sign up for (though neither are obstacle courses), the Zombie Buffet 5K and the Never Quit 5K.

The Zombie Buffet 5K is a road based 5K in downtown Jacksonville where you start at one location, the zombie horde starts at another, and then you meet in a contamination zone. You then try to escape the zombies from taking your life (another flag based event) and get this! If you are ‘killed’ early enough, you are able to go through a transformation and start chasing down survivors yourself! Ellie said it sounded like a big game of tag, lol. I think it sounds fantastic, so I’m definitely signing up for that.

The Never Quit Beach Fest 5K is a beach 5K on Jacksonville Beach that I did last year and had a blast. It’s an out and back course on the sand, and I’m going to try to PR with this race. My current PR is 28:59 (from Africa!), and I think I can beat that with training, especially since I live in the perfect location for beach run training! :)

Last year’s Never Quit Beach Fest

I am also going to try to incorporate some barefoot running training in, since running on the sand is perfect for my Vibram 5 Fingers! (Speaking of shoes, I need to go purchase some new running shoes, mine are done for!)

I want to do more obstacle races this year, but Shane and I decided that would be ‘our’ thing to do together, and he is deploying, so I don’t really want to do them without him. Not to be all sappy, but he’s also my best friend, so things are just not as fun without him anyway. Road races are totally ok, though. ;)

For next year, we’re looking into another Run For Your Lives (or two, hopefully they pull out more SE stops than just Atlanta, Florida would be ideal!), the Animal Kingdom obstacle race at WDW (missed being able to do this one by 2 weeks, boo.), a Warrior Dash, Swamp Romp, etc. All of these are obviously dependent on times/locations/$$$/where the USMC decides to move us next.

Well, I’m off to do some laundry and immerse myself in my new book. (I’ve so been slacking on reading lately! Too much reality tv/XBOX, not enough reading. This morning I started Delerium by Lauren Oliver… I foresee this being finished by tonight!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Run For Your Lives Race Recap Pt II

Hey guys! Time for the rest of the race recap for Run For Your Lives! I left off right as we were starting to run. I’m going to be honest here, the run gets kind of blurry in parts, so I’m going to remember it the best I can! We took off in a group and it felt like FOREVER until we hit our first zombies (which was probably a good thing, since I was more focused on the muddy ground than my surroundings!!) but in all reality it was probably only a tenth of a mile!

We came across some huge hay bales, and at first I just started to run beside them, but ran into a zombie, so I panicked and climbed up onto the hay bales! I t was crazy! We passed the hay bales and a few more zombies and re-grouped. We ran into another group of zombies (basically they were placed in a stagger on the trail) and we sprinted and twisted around them, all while trying to not fall on our faces! Shane and I got split up from Ellie and Ryan at this point, so we just kept going to the next obstacle.

Next we came up to two pools of water with huge logs going across them. You could climb over them, swim under them, or try to run on the mud between them. I ended up going over some, and between others, depending on where a zombie was placed. (I was trying to not go underwater…. little did I know.)

We made it through this, and regrouped with El and Ryan. Ellie had lost a flag by this point, but we were pretty much whole. Here is where it gets slightly fuzzy! We slowed down to basically a walk because the mud was so slick we were unable to move quickly without losing our footing. I lost my first flag RIGHT before the first water station and I was so disappointed! We stopped for a water break and by this time Ellie was infected!

We moved on, and right after the water station was another infected area, with about 10 zombies. The strategy was to run through in a group, and then scatter. Well, I started with a group, but one zombie was coming after me, so I doubled back and ended up with 5 zombies on one side, and five zombies on the other, and I was ALL ALONE. We all kind of stood there, and I let out a few expletives. Finally I decided to just sprint through, and while I was trying to evade a girl zombie, I fell.

I fell and busted my knee, and the girl walked up to me, knelt down (took a flag!) and asked if I was ok. I was trying to stand up, and I think I said yes, and started running again. The rest of the zombies made halfhearted attempts to capture me, but I think they just felt bad for me. I made it through with one flag left, and Shane was yelling “Are you ok?!” I wasn’t. My knee was busted up pretty badly, but I didn’t want to stop. So I kept going.

Next we came up to a very large puddle and Ellie kind of… face planted. Someone in our group shouted “You ok R2D2?!” (She was wearing a crocheted R2D2 beanie.) She was, and just jumped up and started running again (with much more grace than my fall, I might add!) and we were off again. We came to a rectangle pool of water about 3 ft deep we had to cross. That’s where I did my own face plant. I was expecting the depth of the pool, and kind of slipped/belly flopped into the pool. Whoops. It was like a shock to system because the water was SO. COLD. No zombies at this obstacle, but unfortunately there were some right before the second water station… and I became fully infected. So I made it right before the 2 mile mark.

By the time we got to the 2 mile mark my knee had swollen up to resemble an egg… but it wasn’t really hurting so much anymore. We did the rope ladder climb, this was the worst obstacle for me, because I’m not a big fan of heights and the rope was super muddy and slippery. So I took it a little slower than most, but made it through no problem.

The boys ended up running ahead since they needed to stay with the group to increase survival chances, but Ellie and I couldn’t run anymore. We came to a hill, and trying to climb the hill was an adventure. Think of it like this: take a Slip-N-Slide on a hill, cover it with dirt and KY Jelly and orange dye. Then try to run up it. That’s pretty much how slick this hill was. Even the zombies weren’t running after you, they just sort of reached. The mud was CRAZY!

Then we saw the lake. First thought in my head was: Alligators? Cottonmouths? It’s the Florida girl in me… what can I say! So I start to walk into the lake/pond/orange body of water and WHOOSH! Drop off into the coldest water I’ve ever been in. (Slight exaggeration, but that’s what it felt like at the time!) I lost my breath, and the only thing I could manage was a doggy paddle (and I’m a swimmer!!). Once I crawled out of the lake the first thing I said to Ellie was “There goes any idea of a polar plunge!”

Honestly though, I think the cold water shocked my system, because there was no pain for the rest of the race. We made it to the maze, which unfortunately some people before us had torn down part of it, so we didn’t get to experience it to it’s fullest, though Shane and Ryan did (they were pretty far ahead of us by now!). Major shout out to the zombie cat lady with the zombie cat! <3 <3

Then there was a wall to climb with a slide on the other side, landing in saw dust. Thankfully this was near the end, because sawdust and running do NOT go together! Major chafing! Then came the gauntlet. Basically a whole bunch of zombies. Ellie and booked it (or at least thought we did… Shane said he and Ryan were watching us, and we were walking. I think he’s crazy!) through them, and slid down the mudslide to the finish! Collected our medals and we were done. Here is a video (not mine!) I found on the RFYL Facebook page, it’s long, but it’s awesome!

[Just making sure you know, this is NOT my video, nor do I appear in it… though it might have been my wave, not sure. Here is the link to the video.]

Whew. I’m not done. <3

After collecting our medals there were showers provided, but alas, they ran out of water! So we just sucked it up, walked the very long and very cold walk back to the trucks  to change. We got some pictures first! Sorry I look like a total jackass, I swear I don’t have to pee, I was SO COLD, and honestly just wanted to change!

Ellie and Ryan!

Shane and I


Birthday girl!

We walked back to the Apocalypse Party hoping to find Iron E. Cummings and grab our free beer! We lucked out and ran right into him, he was super nice and totally cool about taking more than one photo! We forgot all about asking for autographs, not that we had anything for him to sign anyway!



Totally off topic, but I now have met and taken photos with TWO cast members of The Walking Dead! The other was with Norman Reedus (who plays the character Darryl) when he and the cast of The Boondock Saints 2 came to Africa on a USO tour for the Troops. He (and the rest of the cast) were absolutely wonderful, BTW. Super friendly and said such wonderful things in support of the military.


Back to RFYL! We got our beer, grabbed some food, but honestly… we were ready to go. We had already ruined two sets of clothes and shoes, and I really wanted to shower and take care of my knee. They had medical services on site, of course, but it wasn’t that serious, I just am dramatic and have a low pain threshold, haha.

We took a few more photos, like with this zombie we found strolling around.



We headed back to the hotel and showered and honestly… went to sleep. We were exhausted. Such an amazing day, though. I can’t wait to do it again next year, and I really want to look into (and may have already done so…) more obstacle like races.

I HIGHLY recommend this race. It’s fun, messy, and totally worth the bruises. I’m off to eat some BRAINSSSS now.

PS we finished in 1:17 and were a part of the 1 pm wave!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Run For Your Lives Race Recap Pt. I

You know, I really thought I loved zombies before yesterday. Well, I can honestly say it’s nothing compared to how much I love zombies right now.

Before I get started on the race recap, let me throw a huge shout out to my best friend, Ellie. HAPPY BIRTHDAY BUFF!!! I love you so much, now let’s go eat some BRAINS!!!!

Ellie is a Sith Lord and I’m an Eskimo. (There’s really no doubt as to who is the cooler one in this relationship. She wins by a [muddy, slippery, full of infected undead]landslide.)

In celebration of El’s birthday (and our love for anything zombie related) we (Ellie, her boyfriend Ryan, Shane, and myself) signed up fpr the Atlanta location of Run For Your Lives on March 3, 2012. It’s an oostacle ridden 5K with a very fun catch. Scattered throughout the course they have zombies who try to take your life!

Your ‘life’ is actually a flag belt with three flags on it, and if the manage to grab all three flags you are then considered infected. Finishing with even one of the three will label you a survivor. (I was under the impression there were separate finisher’s medals for survivors vs infected, but they were the same. No big deal of course, just an observation.)

We stayed at a hotel about 40 minutes away on Friday night, with plans to camp on site Saturday night. (Those plans did not workout, but more on that later!) Friday night a rather large Thunderstorm rolled through the area, but the weather on Saturday morning was not awful. It was overcast and raining slightly, but since we were expecting more thunderstorms, we didn’t think it would be too bad.

It was however chilly (only in the 50s so for a lot of people that’s not chilly at all… but it is for us, especially when it’s raining!) and I wasn’t expecting that (thank you early spring for giving me a false sense of warmth security!) so I didn’t pack any jackets for us. The only reason I even had my warm coat was because I wanted it as a cover during the drive and grabbed it last minute. (Thank God I did! Poor Shane didn’t have a jacket, so we shared it a lot!)

We were registered for the 1:00 pm wave, they recommended arriving around 2 hours early to allow for parking and packet pick-up. Parking was super fluid and easy, but I was worried about a snag when it came to packet pick-up. I had registered under my maiden name, and all of my identification has my married name on it!!

Luckily they were cool with it, as long as the name on my waiver matched my id. (No lawsuits from me!) Bag check was a super easy also, though I think that depended on what time you went there. There were super busy times and really big lulls. We got lucky! I did make the mistake of checking my camera as soon as we got there, though! So I have no pre-race photos at the actual event. Here is one from before we arrived though!

Don’t worry. I put that hair in a ponytail as soon as we arrived!

So we walked around and watched the waves before us go (they were in 30 minute increments) and the finishers cross the finish line (and slide down the mud slide!). Honestly, though, we were mostly trying to stay warm. The temps were in the 50’s, and it was raining and the wind was blowing pretty fierce. Also, both men didn’t have jackets. They may be from Washington, but that wind had some bite! We shared jackets as much as possible. Lucky for Shane, one of my favorite activities is snuggling that boy!

When it got closer to our heat time we made our way over to the starting corrals, which were broken up into three lines.


We decided to go with the EntrĂ©e because we had trained at a 10-11 minute mile pace. While we were waiting, we decided to use the mud as face paint. (Yeah it’s probably gross, but we ended up with it all over our faces anyway!) I wish we could have gotten pictures of our face paint, but mine was hand print on the lower half of my face, Ellie had claw marks on her cheeks, and Ryan had his entire left side of his face painted. Shane opted to remain clean for as long as possible.

When it was finally time to line up, we started to walk down the tunnels, or tried to at least!! The mud was so sticky that our shoes created a vacuum with every step, so we fought every single step we took! I was wondering how on Earth we would be able to run when we couldn’t even walk!

I just want to take a second to point out that Iron E. Singleton who plays the character T. Dogg on the television show The Walking Dead was at this event. We lucked out, and he actually came over to us and opened the corral gates for us! I absolutely love that show, and it was such a trip to have that happen! Once he pulled back the gate and said to “Run For Your Lives!!!” we were off.

I’m going to take a breather there, because this is a long post already and I don’t want it to become a tl;dr. I’ll finish up with the race recap tomorrow, and I promise it won’t be more than that. It was only a 5K after all!