Life: I am a Tough Mudder!

Most of you have been following me through my running journey over the past few years... from marathon's to Ultra distances to becoming a Tough Mudder.  So you earned this with me! 

Thank you for all your support.  For letting me bombard you with running summaries, photo's from the trails.. etc.. You have been my cheerleaders. 

It's about twenty four hours after the run - I'm happy to say I'm feeling great!  I'm black and blue, my knees are a hot mess (black & blue, bloody, tender).... but I did get in a run today.  Which is a big success. 

It will be a few more days before I have photo's to share but let me tell you... it's tough!

Here's a recap:
We started in waves of 100, every twenty minutes.  To get to the starting line I had to scale a ten foot wall.

With two obstacles in the first mile, my knees are bleeding from the muddy/rock crawl (under barbed wire) and I'm wet from the ice bath.  Does it help if I tell you the water is blue, and smelled horrible (I wonder if there was manure in the water)... ICK! 

Most of the mileage was on a trail and the mile mud run was one mile straight up!  Try running a mile up the side of a mountain, in 6 inches of thick, wet, slimy mud.... super tough and slippery.  People who have completed other TM runs were telling us this was the most difficult one yet.  Usually the runs take place on flat surfaces like race tracks so natural terrain adds another level of difficulty.  

I ran through fire, scaled walls, climbed ropes, carried a log, crawled, ran in mud pools, walked balance beams, I even made it through the one I feared the most... the long tunnel filled with swamp water. 

So... what was the toughest obstacle for me? A thirty foot jump into murky water that was so cold my lungs compressed.  Followed by a short swim and rope climb out of the murkiness... I never need to do that again!

Twelve miles and about twenty military obstacles later, I did it. I'm a Tough Mudder!

Review: The Lola Quartet

Why I picked it: The Omaha Bookworm's read Mandel's first novel - we even had the opportunity to discuss the book with her over the telephone thanks to Lisa from Lit & Life (for setting up the call).

I have continued to read her novels, she has a very interesting writing style.

Synopsis: Gavin Sasaki is a promising young journalist in New York City, until he’s fired in disgrace following a series of unforgivable lapses in his work. It’s early 2009, and the world has gone dark very quickly; the economic collapse has turned an era that magazine headlines once heralded as the second gilded age into something that more closely resembles the Great Depression. The last thing Gavin wants to do is return to his hometown of Sebastian, Florida, but he’s drifting toward bankruptcy and is in no position to refuse when he’s offered a job by his sister, Eilo, a real estate broker who deals in foreclosed homes.

Eilo recently paid a visit to a home that had a ten-year-old child in it, a child who looks very much like Gavin and who has the same last name as Gavin’s high school girlfriend Anna, whom Gavin last saw a decade ago. Gavin—a former jazz musician, a reluctant broker of foreclosed properties, obsessed with film noir and private detectives—begins his own private investigation in an effort to track down Anna and their apparent daughter who have been on the run all these years from a drug dealer from whom Anna stole $121,000.

Type: Fiction

Quick Take: As mentioned above, Mandel's writing is amazing.  She knows how to write a story, keeping the reader guessing, leading us on. This novel is part personal story, part mystery.  Her readers have come to appreciate the many twists and turns she includes in a story.

I don't normally read mysteries, who dunnit's, where are they books.... but if you like this genre, please try reading a Mandel novel.  If I'm going to compare her work to a movie, The Fugitive comes to mind.  The Lola Quartet is an interesting story that leaves the reader thinking.

Rating: 3 stars
Source: Review Copy

Review: skinnydipping

Why I picked it: Like many of us, my family first discovered Bethenny Frankel on Martha Stewart's version of The Apprentice.  I appreciate her honesty and what she's willing to share.  I love that she's willing to show that life isn't perfect.

Do you watch her show on Bravo? I can't believe I'm going to say this... I hope she signs off from reality TV soon. While I enjoy watching her show I think her family deserves some time away from the camera, to live a normal life.  I just hope to see a peak of her new apartment first!

Synopsis: Faith is an aspiring actress just out of college, who moves to L.A. determined to have it all—a job on the most popular TV show, a beach house in Malibu, and a gorgeous producer boyfriend. But when reality hits, she finds herself with a gig as a glorified servant, a role that has more to do with T&A than acting, and a dead-end relationship. Finally, Faith decides she’s had enough of La La Land and moves back to New York with just a suitcase and her dog, Muffin.

Five years later, Faith has finally found her groove as an entrepreneur and manages to land a spot on a new reality TV show hosted by her idol—the legendary businesswoman and domestic goddess Sybil Hunter. Diving into the bizarre world of reality TV, Faith’s loud mouth and tell-it-like-it-is style immediately get her in trouble with her fellow contestants—the delusional socialite; the boozy lifestyle coach; the moody headband designer; and her closest friend, the ambitious housewife who eventually betrays her. Even Sybil is not what she appears.

Type: Fiction (chic-lit)

Quick Take: I'm happy I'm writing my review after watching her interview on The Today Show.  In the interview she mentioned this novel is a palette cleanser, and that she had so much fun writing it.  For me this is important... let me explain why:

If you are familiar with Bethenny, this novel is so close to the life we observe on television.  It's a super light, fun book that follows Faith's journey on a 'Martha like' reality show.  While reading the book you will try to put a name to the characters. 

A super fast read, funny, and left me wondering what bits happened in real life.

Rating: 3 stars
Source: NetGalley (review copy)

Books I can't wait to read!

Summer is almost here!  You can tell by the great summer reading choices that have recently published, and books to be published over the next few months. My iPad is full (plus a stack of real books)... I'm ready for time to relax on the deck, book in hand.

Here are a few new summer releases that I'm planning to read. 

Do you have any books you can't wait to read this summer?

Four Sisters, All Queens (May 2012):  With Provence under constant attack, their legacy and safety depend upon powerful alliances. Marguerite’s illustrious match with the young King Louis IX makes her Queen of France. Soon ElĂ©onore—independent and daring—is betrothed to Henry III of England. In turn, shy, devout Sanchia and tempestuous Beatrice wed noblemen who will also make them queens.

Yet a crown is no guarantee of protection. Enemies are everywhere, from Marguerite’s duplicitous mother-in-law to vengeful lovers and land-hungry barons. Then there are the dangers that come from within, as loyalty succumbs to bitter sibling rivalry, and sister is pitted against sister for the prize each believes is rightfully hers—Provence itself.

Shout Her Lovely Name (Jun 2012): Mothers— both reluctant and euphoric — ride the familial tide of joy, pride, regret, guilt, and love in these stories of resilient and flawed women. In a battle between a teenage daughter and her mother, wheat bread and plain yogurt become weapons. An aimless college student, married to her much older professor, sneaks cigarettes while caring for their newborn son. On the eve of her husband’s fiftieth birthday, a pilfered fifth of vodka, an unexpected tattoo, and rogue teenagers leave a woman questioning her place. And in a suite of stories, we follow capricious, ambitious single mother Ruby and her cautious, steadfast daughter Nora through their tumultuous life—stray men, stray cats, and psychedelic drugs—in 1970s California.

The House of Serenades (June 2012): In 1910 Genoa, an Italian port city of divided classes and ancient power struggles, the Berillis are wealthy, powerful, and respected—until the day their darkest secrets begin to surface. Once the police intervene and the gossip grapevine is set in motion, the Berillis' demise is unavoidable.

But love lives on, and there's a mandolin player in town who is not giving up on...more In 1910 Genoa, an Italian port city of divided classes and ancient power struggles, the Berillis are wealthy, powerful, and respected—until the day their darkest secrets begin to surface. Once the police intervene and the gossip grapevine is set in motion, the Berillis' demise is unavoidable. But love lives on, and there's a mandolin player in town who is not giving up on the girl of his dreams. Never underestimate the power of music.

The House of Serenades is a brilliant portrait of the Italian upper class at the turn of the twentieth century, its habits, and its ways of life. At the same time, the story denounces the abuse and repression of women (sisters, daughters, wives) that was so common in those years.

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