NaNoWriMo Ends & Reverb 10

As of last night, I completed the 2010 NaNoWriMo challenge and became a winner. It is so great to know that I took on the challenge and made it all the way to the end. I also “won” last year, so this was my second year hitting that glorious 50k mark.

Tomorrow is December 1st, the start of a new month and of course the final month of 2010. It is also the beginning of a month long project called #reverb10. It allows reflections on the year that is ending as well as thoughts into the future year that will be here very soon. I will be participating in this event and am looking forward to what the prompts and creativity will bring.

November is almost here!

Looking a few days ahead to the coming month, I see that November will be quite a busy one. Not only do I have NaNoWriMo (which I hope I am ready for since I haven’t been doing as much prep as I should have), but I have at least two 5k races, a family member coming for a visit, biking and walking goals, and a number of local events I plan on attending. It’s going to be both an exciting and a busy month!

Now that I’ve got my bike up and going, I have goals for cycling. This includes riding on a regular basis, increasing mileage and trying to bike outside of the neighborhood when possible. Of course, the just getting out there on my bike and riding 2-3 days a week to start is the initial hurdle to cross. I know that the more I ride, the better cyclist I’ll be. It’s just like any skill, the more you do it, the better you’ll be. I’ve already discovered that I can easily do 4 miles in less than 30 minutes time, so I know that I can easily build up from there. Finally, I want to take my bike outside of my local neighborhood to other areas of Orlando to experience riding in other parts of the city. This of course requires a car bike rack, so I’m hoping to get a hold of one soon. Also, there’s a group of cyclists who do rides once or more a month that I’d like to join in on when I can.

My speed walking has been going well. I seem to be increasing my speed just a bit each time as well as my heart rate which are two of my goals. So, I’ll be continuing with both of those goals in mind for the immediate future. As far as races go, my next race will be the Florida Hospital Founder’s Day 5k on November 14th in Celebration. I’m looking forward to an event in Celebration, as I really like that area a lot. I’ve walked there a few times when I was able to get up that way. Also, a few co-workers are planning on doing the race with me, so that will be nice. After the Founder’s Day 5k, next up is the Turkey Trot 5k on Thanksgiving. That race takes place in downtown Orlando at Lake Eola. After that, I probably won’t be doing another race until December.

I’ll do my best to blog a few times between this post and the end of November updating on how things are going with NaNoWriMo and my fitness goals and races. I’m also still working on my comic book series, for those curious. More soon!

One-Year Anniversary of Being Vegetarian!

Today marks a special date for me. One year ago today, I gave up a meat diet and became a vegetarian. I remember that time pretty vividly, two of my friends from Asheville were down visiting for a few days and something at that time had made me consider trying a vegetarian diet. These two friends are vegans, so their eating habits did have an affect on my decision to go veg.

Originally, I had wanted to try the vegetarian diet to take my healthy living to the “next level.” Having lost most of my weight that I wanted to drop, I had hoped changing to a vegetarian way of eating might aid in getting the last five or so pounds I wanted to lose off. I read a few articles online about omnivores going vegetarian and losing weight, so hey, why not, right?

At first, I recall going veg being a bit difficult. My first day at work as a veg, I remember that I was very hungry all day. No matter what I had eaten, nothing seemed to calm down the growling in my stomach. Don’t get me wrong, I was eating the same amount of calories that I had been eating, but it was all non-meat. So, I suppose that baffled my system a bit at first. Once I made it through a week or so, things did seem to even out in that regard and I was doing well.

At the end of October of last year, I attended the Central Florida Veg Fest. This was where I began to question my reasoning for being a vegetarian. Not in the way that I was questioning my choice, rather my reasons for choosing to be a vegetarian. At the event, I spoke to a few people who explained that it wasn’t enough to just be a vegetarian, that drinking cow’s milk and eating eggs weren’t necessarily any better than eating meat. This made me think more about my choices. I took home literature and spoke with a vegan friend about being a vegetarian versus being a vegan. She told me that while she was happy that I had taken the leap to go vegetarian, I needed to further educate myself. So, after a couple of days of wondering about the animals and my choices, I made the decision to not be in the dark anymore. I did my own research online and watched videos that clearly showed the brutal honesty of the life of farm animals. What I witnessed sickened me greatly. I had considered myself an animal lover all of my life, but how could I proclaim such a thing when I still consumed cow’s milk or eggs? I couldn’t. Within about a month of choosing to go vegetarian, I became a vegan. Thanksgiving 2009 became my first Tofurkey day.

A year later, I feel nothing but happiness with my decisions. In my mind, there is no other way to live. After all the things I’ve seen and learned, I could never eat an animal again. I am now a compassionate vegan who believes the animals deserves as good a treatment as human beings. I also feel healthier and better than ever inside and out being a vegan. I attribute my new found peacefulness to my healthy vegan lifestyle.

If you’d like more information on the vegetarian and/or vegan way of living and eating, please check out these links:
http://www.vegsoc.org/info/goingveg.html
http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/multimedia/goodies/green-guide/green-lifestyle/go-vegetarian/
http://www.vegan.org/going_vegan/index.html

NaNoWriMo 2010!

It’s about that time of the year again…the time of year when thousands of writers spend countless hours day and night tapping away at their keyboards and downing cup after cup of coffee or tea. That’s right, NaNoWriMo 2010 is just around the corner. As I write this, the event kicks off in 28 days.

Of course, I’m excited. I love Nano each year since I started doing the event back in 2007. I can even recall the excitement that came over me in 2009 when I hit that 50,000 word mark and claimed victory. It made the insanity of that month all worthwhile. Definitely a high point in not only last year for me, but in my writing “life.”

This year, as of yet, I have not a clue what I’m going to be writing. Okay, so I know my story is going to be a quest plot, but what that plot is going to be is anyone’s guess. The idea for the plot type itself came to me this past weekend. Something about the idea of a quest, a journey really hit home with me.

I’m not worrying about the actual story idea. Not yet, anyway. I feel that it will come to me very soon. Then, I can have at least two or three weeks to pre-plan and get my mind into things. Sure, it would be great to have more time for the planning phase, but I also think there’s such a thing as too much. As writers we can spend too much time and effort on planning and research. Doing so can potentially take away from actual writing intervals. I don’t know about my fellow scribes, but I can use all writing time allotted and still yearn for more.

Celebration of Running 5k Race Report

This past Saturday was Florida Hospital’s Celebration of Running 5k event in downtown Orlando. This race signifies the first of Track Shack’s Grand Prix Racing Series each year. Since injuring my back at the end of March, I can no longer run the races, but I was looking forward to walking the event. I made a goal going in to try to walk the 3.1 miles in 50 minutes or less.

I woke up at 5am to have breakfast and to get myself ready to go for the event. I’m definitely not a great morning person, but I can get myself moving at such an early hour if need be. Once I was dressed and ready to go, I headed out the door. It was 6:30am at that time (I need time to really wake up, thus the setting the alarm that early) and I knew that I could get to the Florida Hospital parking garage by 7am.

Once I arrived at the parking garage and parked, I quickly gathered my iPod and bib and went down to the race check-in and starting area. There were lots of people everywhere. Track Shack’s races always seem to be well participated in which is great. I secured my bib onto my shirt and got in line for the restroom. This is the only really bad thing about the races. The facilities that are available are port-a-potties. Not my idea of a fun experience in the slightest. I know from speaking to others at the events that I am definitely not alone in that line of thinking.

Spotting the race walkers table, I went over and spoke with the guy manning the table about competing as a race walker. The only rule that got me for this race is that you cannot have headphones on. This would have meant that I couldn’t utilize my iPod during the 5k. I’m used to always walking with music, so I told him that I’d have to practice sans the music and see about competing maybe at the next 5k.

A voice announced that the race was set to begin in about three minutes, so I immediately headed over to the starting line. I found the “Walkers” sign and got behind it with others who were going to be walking the event. From what I could see, there were quite a number of participants who were going to walk at least part of the race. In previous races, I would start before the walkers, but enough behind a lot of the runners that I wouldn’t get run over or in their way. I tended to do the run-walk-run thing, so the just walking the entire three miles is still a challenge for me even after the I-Drive 5k back in May.

The race started like a bottle rocket shooting off. Everyone got moving. I knew being a bit back in the pack would have me starting about a minute or so difference from the official clock, so I kept that in mind as I got going. I always get a rush of adrenaline during each race, and this time was no different in that regard. I had a smile on my face as I went over the starting line.

By the time I hit the first water stop, I was feeling pretty good. It was hot and humid out, but I was okay. I even opted to pass the water by this time and wait for the next one. Hitting the first mile marker, the clock time was 17:29. This brought a smile to my face. I was making great time!

With a PodRunner mix on my iPod and pride in my step, I kept moving as fast as I could walk. The terrain varied a lot throughout the course. We went over road, brick and gravel. Quite a difference from the conditions I normally encountered during my walks. I’m used to roads and sidewalks, but not brick roads. The varying terrain is a nice up to the challenge of the race.

The water stop for mile two was where I took up the offer of water from the volunteers. The heat and humidity was brutal by this time and even just a bit of hydration was a help. I hit mile marker two about 32 minutes and change into the official time clock. I knew that I was doing well and that if I kept that pace, I could easily finish the race in my goal time of 50 minutes. Keep going! I told myself, you can do it!

Hitting the mile marker sign for mile three about 16 minutes later, I pushed myself harder. You’re almost there! Sweat was dripping down my back, arms and legs, but I kept moving. That beautiful Finish line was in my sights! I crossed the line with a big smile on my face and raised both of my arms in the air. I had done it! Official clock time was 50:36. My D-Chip time was 49:01. Not only had I met my goal of 50 minutes, but I had exceeded it. Finishing a race is a feeling like no other. No matter whether you are a runner or a walker. Already, I can’t wait to get back out there for my next 5k.

Final shot day

Today was the day of my third and final lumbar steroid shot. I couldn’t have been happier to be finally done with it all. Of course, I was nervous just like the past two shot days, but the doctor did the procedure fairly quickly and it was over almost before I knew it.

The staff at the surgery center have been very awesome during these three weeks. They have been very sweet and doing their best to keep me at ease. They really made the experience a lot easier for me. That is appreciated when you have to go through something so stressful and painful as a herniated disk injury. I just hope the results of the shots is great and that it lasts for a good long time.

Asheville NOT A Top Veggie City?

PETA, The People for Ethical Treatment of Animals has named their top ten vegetarian/vegan cities. Those cities are Albuquerque, Washington D.C, Portland, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver and Olympia. So, where is Asheville, North Carolina? It is found no where on PETA’s list, not even on the smaller city list.

I see this as an oversight on the organization’s part. Asheville is quite a veggie-friendly city. The Paris of the South understands it’s vegan and vegetarian residents and visitors. You can go into almost any eatery in the town and get a veggie friendly meal. The people of Asheville actually know the meaning of a vegan, unlike folks in Central Florida.

Also, most of the food served in Asheville’s restaurants is local, coming right from farms and growers practically down the street. The mountain town prides itself on organic local fare. Just look at the window to any downtown cafe or shop, “Love Asheville. Put your money where your heart is. Buy Local.” Asheville truly is a top veggie city in my book.

Weekly Workouts

At the beginning of April, I injured my back. This caused my weekly workout regime to become sporadic at best. Since then, I have been getting an average of 2-3 days a week of workouts in. As of this week, I’m attempting to up that number to 4-5 days a week again.

This morning, I got myself up an hour earlier than usual and got myself going for a walk. In all honesty, I really do miss running. The morning workout time symbolizes the time I spent running. So, having to knock things down to a walk or cycling does at times feel discouraging. However, I know that as long as I am working out in some way, I am accomplishing what in the end I want to do. Of course, seeing other runners do their thing does give me a feeling deep down that I miss it a great deal. I don’t know if that will ever completely go away.

I did feel as though I got in a decent workout this morning walking for the most part. Since I went out about 8:30am, it was pretty darn humid. Florida is way too hot for my taste anymore. Granted, I’m sure it’s hot elsewhere in the country, but this state just never seems to really cool down enough in my opinion. I’m very much over temps in the 90s that feel like you’re in the desert. I burned about 170 calories by the end of the walk, so I was pleased with that.

Tomorrow will be another morning walk. I am going to get my bike finally going again by the weekend so I can begin biking in the morning as of next week to mix things up. If I can’t run, I shall bike! I have gotten great results on the stationary bike at the gym, so we shall see how I do biking on the road.

Judge Rules Red Light Cameras Violate State Law

An Orlando judge ruled today that the city’s use of automated red light cameras to catch red light runners is a violation of state law. The state of Florida alone can make the determination on the usage of red light cameras per Orlando Circuit Judge Lauten. This means that thousands of drivers may be able to claim a refund if they were issued a ticket because of a red light camera.

Personally, I’m not against the use of red light cameras to catch those drivers that speed through red lights. It is not only a violation of the law, but it is dangerous. Many people have been injured or have died from crashes due to red light runners. It seems to me that this issue will end up going before the state very soon. I’m sure the Orlando city officials will be bringing it to Tallahassee for a higher ruling. This could cause the cameras to go up not just in Orlando, but in any city that requests them in the state if passed.

What are your thoughts on red light cameras? What do you think about the Circuit Judge’s ruling on the matter?

The Artist’s Way: Week 2

Check-in time! Week 2 went well! I wrote my morning pages seven out of seven days. I’m not writing them first thing in the morning as Cameron recommends, but I do get them done by mid-day or early evening. Just as I experienced the first go around, I believe doing the pages is helping my writing and life.

My Artist Date was a success as I posted yesterday. Any time alone with my camera makes a good time in my book. I do need to vary things up a bit in the future though, do some other creative outings. I’ll have to come up with a list for myself of possible Artist Dates that I’d enjoy.

I did a number of the weekly tasks Julia Cameron lists to do. They did aid me in my journey for the week I believe as well. I only wish I had more time to get all of them done. Sadly, there are only so many hours in the day. Never enough time to get all the things I’d like to get accomplished done.