Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas: Sweet Soddy Acres Style

Our fist Christmas tree as a married couple.

Manger (Andy built) and Nativity from my parents

Atreyu cozy by the fire

All our fire wood

Ahhh Christmas lights...

This Christmas is going to have many "firsts" to it. This will be the first time Andy and I are able to put up a tree. Our house in Bloomington was too little for 3 dogs, furniture, 2 people, AND a Christmas tree. This will be our first Christmas when we BOTH are living in TN. Finally, it will be our first Christmas in OUR home.

Yesterday, Jacqueline and I made Christmas cookies. They all turned out great. I used my Kitchen Aid mixer for the first time in 2 years. I don't know why I didn't use it before. That mixer is AMAZING! I am going to have to find ways to use it more. Love it. Jacqueline and I had so much fun. I hope we do this every year. Next year, I want to make more cookies and maybe cook all day. :)

I realized that one year ago today I was driving down from my parent's house in Aurora to Chattanooga. The weather was horrendous. The wind was gusting up to 45 mph winds in IL. The wind chill was so severe that I had the heat on full blast and poor little Payton was shivering with the seat warmer on! I am pretty sure I posted a blog about it then, if you want more details scroll back. ;-) The weather today was great! Chilly, but awesome. We had a light dusting of snow last night. I woke up to a very fine layer of snow on the deck. I was walking around with a t-shirt and a fleece...that is it! I love the weather in Chattanooga.

I have 3 days of work and then off for a 4 day Christmas vaca. Christmas Eve Andy and I are going to go to midnight mass (@ 10:30 pm) with Deni Stockburger and Lois (Deni's Mom). We have been invited to an Italian Christmas dinner with the Stockburger's (our neighbors). On Christmas day Andy and I want to go on a ride or go rock climbing, depending on the weather. I also want to get some hiking in this weekend. With all the leaves off the trees it is so much easier to see the mountain and go exploring.

It is so amazing to look back on the past year and think about all the things Andy and I have gone through. This time last year, I just put the Bloomington house on the market and had not a clue what was happening next for us. I feel so blessed. People say that all the time, but it is really hitting me this season. Andy is an awesome husband, we have a great house, we are in great health, good friends and neighbors, and wonderful family.

Miss you all. Hope you have a great holiday. We will be thinking about you. Take care, Heather

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

St. Jude Marathon 12/5/2009

I am going to preface this post with, this is NOT going to be a race report. The more I race and read race reports the more I realize they are a HUGE long list of excuses. I have tried to make my race reports funny and entertaining. Not sure if I have succeeded, but as Andy says, "You are the funniest person you know." Thanks babe, I think ;-)

I drove to Memphis to meet up with my best friend Candace Crawford and her friend Megan Dombrowski. I got there a little early so I unpacked, went to Walgreens, and watched a movie. Candace and Megan got there and we went out to dinner at Club 152 and picked up our packets. It was good to reconnect with Candace. I haven't seen her since I moved from IL. We got back to the hotel (which was SUPER DUPER scary...strange stains on the box springs and a bathroom that needed to be sprayed down with bleach). Candace didn't want to take her shoes off all weekend ;-) I started to put my race things together for the next morning. I started to slowly realize I was underdressed. The weekend before I ran in tights and a short sleeved tech shirt. Thinking that would be adequate attire, I packed the same outfit for the marathon. Come to find out, Memphis is colder than Chattanooga! Who would have thunk it? Candace let me borrow a warmer pair of her tights (btw...when traveling with Candace, she packs her ENTIRE closet ;-)) and a fleece. I thought I was going to be a little overdressed because I get hot really fast. But it was a good, if I would have been smart and brought a lighter fleece of my own, it would have been perfect.

Race morning: We woke up before our 5:30 am alarm and went and got some food, while Megan slept in a little. When we got back to the hotel we were ready to go! We walked down to the trolley. Downtown Memphis has these awesome HEATED trolleys that took us to the start. The temperature was a balmy 29* race morning. That is the coldest I have felt since leaving IL. Yikes! We got into our corrals. I found the 3:50 pace group leaders. 2 really cool guys. I think one of their names was Ben, not sure who the other guy was, but very nice guys.

Race: When we got up to the start I was worried I was going to loose them in the first couple of miles. It was my first time running with a pace group. The first 2 miles felt slow, so I started to relax. The next 6 miles felt amazing! I looked at the mile marker and was shocked to see that 8 miles were already in the bank. I got a smile on my face and new that I was going to run a marathon in under 4 hours. I really appreciate those pace runners. A couple times they would tell us to slow down 'cuz we were ahead. So nice. The other thing I noticed in those first 8 miles was the amount of technology that surrounded me. In triathlon, it is really comical when you get to a hill and you can hear everyone know there is something up a head if you can't see it yourself. In the marathon last Saturday, every mile marker you could hear a handful of beep beep beep. All the GPS watches were calculating and telling their runners what they were doing. It gave me a little smile. I was wearing a GPS watch too. It was amazing, every single mile we hit the 8:41 pace on the money. I felt great! I was able to talk to the other pace runners. I had so much left in my engine. Then it hit me. Uh Oh. Porta potty break. I knew we were coming up to a mile marker, so there were sure to be porta potties there. I started to speed up, so that hopefully, I would give myself some cushion room to catch back up to the pace group after I was done. Check. Found a porta pottie, got in and got out. Sped up and found the pace group again. The half-way split came and went. I looked at my watch and it read 1:45, whoo hoo! A PR at a half! I was initially going to do the half marathon, but it filled up too fast. So instead of being a bandit, I ran the full. Right after the half split... my potty emergency hit again. So I sped up and jumped into a porta pot -- got out and caught back up to the group. I was feeling a little whooped by this time. Not as much spring in my step. I visited every porta potty from mile 14-19. Not sure what happened, what I ate, or why for the first time EVER I had digestion problems, but I did. With all the stopping and starting and being dehydrated, I had a lot of trouble running. I think I pretty much walked most of the last 6 miles. I finished in 4:23:46 (10:05 pace). I will say that was the hardest marathon I have EVER ran, inside or outside of an Ironman.

In the end, I am happy with my decision to run the full. It taught me a lesson that I had not gotten the opportunity to learn until now. Long distance running hurts. It really does. I guess I have had it so easy for so long that I didn't understand when people would tell me about their issues during a race. I couldn't empathize. In my 5 years of racing I have never been injured (except for an inflamed bursa sac on my heel from putting my feet on the coffee table watching TV-opps!), had digestion problems, or during race injuries. This marathon taught me humility and the importance of preparation. So to end my rambling, this was my 5 marathon, but not my last. I will go under 4 hours in my next marathon...just not sure when I want to wake the 26.2 mile beast again. ;-) Thanks for all the support and advice. Mostly, thank you to Andy. He did get fired as my coach once, but he gracefully let me hire him back after a heartfelt apology. He is amazing and he really helped me train to be a better runner.

I am taking some time off this week and re-evaluating my race schedule. I really want to start climbing and doing yoga again...but then again there is a half marathon here in Chattanooga at the end of February. Hmmmm. Tune in next time to see the super-fabulous adventures of Heather and Andy Sweet. Same bat time. Same bat channel.

PS-As soon as Candace and Megan send me pictures of the weekend, I will post them.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Sweet's Bird cont...

The darn picture upload thingy went bonkers on the last here is a photo of our cooked bird. I think Andy just found himself a permanent job for all the holidays. hehehe

Sweets: 1 - Turkey: 0

I have always enjoyed the holidays, but this year I am more excited than ever. Thanksgiving was great! We really missed seeing everyone back home. I guess that was the big conundrum of the day. Missing family and having a great time. It was awesome Jacqueline could be there before she flew home to IL. (yea - yea I know, her arms must be tired--had to head someone off at the pass ;-)) Amongst all the people there, only 3 from the Schaidle Clan were present. Such a flip from holidays past.

At about 9 am we started prepping and cooking the bird. Wow. A 20 lb. turkey is huge! Andy did a spice rub and put a can of Guinness with espresso in the pan. Cooked it at 350* for about 4 hours covered under aluminum foil. For the last hour we took off the cover and basted it for 1.5hours. Delish! It is the juiciest turkey I have ever had. I also made some Jalapeno deviled eggs at the last minute. I think everyone loved my apple pie (thanks Teresa for the crust recipe).

Ok, so I loaded the pictures...not my best, but oh well. :) The picture above is one view of our table (blurry 'cuz I had some wine already ;-)) The below picture is from the other way...

The others are pretty much self explanatory.

Andy with his Guinness/espresso turkey

We are so looking forward to decorating for Christmas. We already know where we are going to put the Christmas tree. :) Hope you all had a wonderful turkey day and are as thoroughly stuff as I am. I had pie for breakfast. Yummmm. TTFN, Heather

Chattanooga, TN-- Sunny 48* Wind: WNW 9 mph Humidity 47%
Bloomington, IL-- Sunny 34* Wind: Calm Humidity 76%
Aurora, IL-- Partly Sunny 37* Wind: WSW 5 mph Humidity 63%

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Recap of the week...

This week has been going pretty well. Work, like I said in the last post, is going really well. We have re-branded and changed our name to AREA203. It is really exciting to be working for such an up and coming advertising agency. We had our launch party last night. Very cool. I got my business cards and all kinds of other cool "official" AREA203 schwag. I am feeling more and more part of something bigger and better. We are now opening our doors to new clients and vendors. This is such an exciting time for AREA203. I know I included our web-site in the last blog, but it has changed a little bit since our official launch. Check it out. (BTW, I am trying to resist the urge to create a Twitter and a Linkedin account...thoughts?)

Running this week has been going pretty well. I had to skip one workout because I wore heels to work one day and I was on my feet for most of the day. Ugh. Misogynistic sexy shoes...why do I wear you???? Not to worry, my workout the next day was awesome. I have a 2 hour run tomorrow. Last Sunday I did a 90 minute run at just faster than race pace and got in 10 miles! There was a hellacious climb in the middle. If it was flat, I think I could have gotten in at least 10.5 maybe 11 miles. Seriously, this hill was huge! For those of you from Chattanooga, I ran the Moccasin Bend loop (with the climb). It is not a very difficult biking loop, but for running, I think it is the longest steepest grade I have EVER run. So for tomorrow, I think I am going to leave out the climb and run the loop for 2 hours and see how many miles I can get in. Jacqueline is going to run with me. She had an awesome race this morning...(spoiler alert) She text me this morning ( is not texted, it is text); and in the Jingle Bell 5k here in Chattanooga she was 8th overall, 1st female overall, and had a time of 21:08!!!! I have never won anything overall. I have placed in my age group, but to be the first female in an entire race is so cool! Consequently, tomorrow could be very interesting. Hopefully, Jacqueline will be really tired from her stellar race today ;-) just kidding. I really love running with her. It is so awesome when you find a great running partner. They push you, you hopefully push them, you have great conversation, they understand when you can't talk it is because you are about to die -- and they know it is not because you don't want to be social. I really do love the simplicity of running. I didn't think I would like running with my new Garmin GPS watch, but I really do. It is sorta like when I started biking with my Saris power tap. I get to actually see my improvements in numbers afterward/during. Before, running for me was based all on "perceived exertion." Now running has definition and purpose. I still am a little nervous about running 26.2 miles, but I think after tomorrow, I will be one step closer to feeling more confident.

We bought our 20 lb. turkey for Thanksgiving last night. Whoo Hoo! The other night Deni and I sat down and planned out our menu. It is pretty similar to most traditional Thanksgiving dinners, I guess. Turkey, ham, green bean casserole, fruit salad, mashed potatoes, broccoli casserole, sweet potatoes, rolls, pies, and corn bread stuffing. I think the corn bread stuffing might be the only "southern" dish we have. Deni and Lloyd are bringing over some wine and sweet tea. I have made sweet tea at Hennen's, but I have not made it at home. I am going to trust the real southerners with the tea. As far as seating for our almost 20 guests, Andy and I have yet to get the 2 benches from his Uncle that match our dining room table. No worries. Today we are going to our church to borrow chairs. Gotta love small town churches. :)

We are going to have dinner at about 6pm. After dinner, I think we are going to either play games or start a bonfire or both :)

The weather down here has been beautiful. I think that has been what has kept me in such great spirits the past couple of weeks. When we wake up it is a little chilly. Starts out at 35* and misty. By the time I go out for my run over lunch it is usually 70* and sunny. Ahhhh the south. :) Although, Andy and I were thinking the other day...the weather down here was not this nice last year. Andy moved down to Chattanooga on November 8th and went out on his first bike ride with his new team (Motor Mile) on November 15th. Andy remembered there was snow on top of Lookout Mountain on his first ride in Chattanooga! So I am pretty sure we are having a very mild fall compared to previous years. I am NOT complaining. I hope the trend stays. I heard a rumor the Midwest and Northeast are supposed to have one of the most bitter winters in history. The Southeast is supposedly going to be sparred. Hopefully, the rumor about the Southeast having a mild winter is true ;-)

Well I am off to clean the house for Thanksgiving this week. I hope all is well for y'all. Much love and catch you on the flip side. Heather

Weather 12:37 pm (EST)
Chattanooga, TN - 60* Sunny - Wind: ESE 1 mph - humidity 53%
Bloomington, IL - 50* Partly cloudy - Wind: SE 8 mph - humidity 77%
Aurora, IL - 51* Sunny - Wind: SE 6 mph - humidity 62%

Saturday, November 14, 2009

TN Fall Extravaganza 2009!

I know it has been a long time since I put something up on the blog. Totally unlike me ;-) Things have been crazy. Some good some bad.

Let's start with work. Work for me has been good. There was a couple weeks in there when I was unsure of myself and my abilities. But things are rolling now. I have been there 74 days! Like most things, sometimes it feels like I have been there forever and other times it feels like I started yesterday. We have changed our name from Logic Marketing to AREA203 Marketing. Here is our new web-site, please check it out!

Work for Andy has been a little different. On September 19th the owner of the Trek Store of Chattanooga informed Andy that the store was having serious financial difficulties AND could no longer afford to keep their Sales Manager (Andy). The Trek Store went onto explain to Andy that it was a business decision and they were extremely happy with Andy and his performance. Initially, I wasn't going to say anything in a public forum about our situation. I thought it would be in poor taste to be bitter about something we had no control over. Unfortunately, over the past couple weeks, we have discovered the Trek Store Chattanooga has been bad mouthing Andy and spreading a ton of rumors about the situation. To set the record straight-- Andy did NOT receive a severance package. He was informed on Saturday the 19th that he would be paid through the end of his last week (September 25th). Additionally, Andy's last "week of work" was Interbike in Las Vegas. The Trek Store refused to let Andy go to the biggest bike expo on company time. If Andy wanted to go to Interbike (for the Trek Store) he was going to have to use his vacation time AND it was an out of pocket expense for us. We thought it would be a good investment for the Trek Store and good PR for them as well. We bought a plane ticket and a hotel room; only after it was too late to get our money back, they informed Andy he was going to be laid off (the day before he flew out to Las Vegas). Second, unemployment is something EVERY employer pays into when you hire an employee. An employer does not START paying unemployment when the employee has been laid off. There is a "bank" of money where unemployment is drawn from. Not that it is any of Trek Store's business, but Andy is on unemployment through IL, not TN. Finally, I find it to be rather arrogant and asinine to have a previous employer keeping "tabs" on your after they have laid you off. If they were that concerned about how Andy would support our family, they should have kept him on as an employee rather than laying him off. Maybe they should spend less time trolling the Internet for Andy and more time trying to repair the damage they have caused. This is the last thing I am going to say about this subject, I do not think Trek, as a parent company, is bad or makes poor decisions. I think the Trek Store Chattanooga has made bad decision after bad decision and has not taken into account the southern market/southern mentality like they should have. The Trek Store Chattanooga has driven away business because management (excluding Andy) is rude, arrogant, and short-sighted.

Ok now that is said, back to the fun stuff :)

Marathon training is going really really well. Andy has always coached me for triathlon, so I asked him to train me for the St. Jude Marathon (that is coming up in 3 weeks :O). The training I have been doing is much different from the training I have done for marathons in the past. In the past, I would build up slow over 18 weeks to long steady runs and then finish the training with a sense of "being prepared." The way Andy is training me is very different. First, I get my week's schedule 1 week at a time. Second, the workouts I am doing are based around heart rate and are shorter and more intense. Finally, each workout makes me feel stronger and stronger. Before I would get a schedule for the full 18 weeks, long workouts (that I would usually skip 'cuz they were boring), and every other workout would seem like a failure. I got a new pair of shoes last night too! They are so cool. I ran in them today for the first time and LOVED them. So excited. I am running in a pair of Saucony Progrid Triumph 7. Our friend Zach Winchester recommended these for me. Check out his blog...

Our friends Shawn Watson and Courtney Bartels came down last weekend for a killer climbing trip. Courtney flew into Nashville from Boulder, CO and Shawn (on his way down from IL) picked her up at the airport. They drove down to HorsePens 40 (just outside Birmingham, Alabama) for 1 day of bouldering, before heading back up to Chatta-vegas to hang with us. We met them at Rock Town on Pigeon Mountain in Georgia. It was Courtney and my first time in Rock Town. We had a blast. Headed back to our house for some wicked awesome steaks Shawn cooked on the coals of our grill. The next day we went to LRC for some more bouldering. 2 days in a row of climbing for me = raw red fingertips. ouch. But we LOVED every minute of grimacing about our bloody tips. :) After climbing we grabbed some awesome Mexican food in Soddy and had a HUGE bonfire at our house. The last day we hiked off our back yard onto Flat Top Mountain. It was a first for me. Andy has drug his Dad and Wes on this hike before. Very cool to see what our back yard really looks like. We got back to the house and said our good-byes. We were really sad to see Shawn and Courtney go. They are our closest friends and miss hanging out with them so much.

Our next big adventure is Thanksgiving dinner. We invited Jacqueline and our neighbors for dinner. Guest list: Me, Andy, Jacqueline, Deni, Lloyd, Brent, Marissa, Brittany, Brent, Kelsey, Jodie, Lois, Jerry, and 4 other friends. Whew 17 people! We are going to do the turkey and a couple apple pies. Everyone else is bringing a dish to pass. I think Andy is going to do his famous Guinness basted turkey. I am so looking forward to Thanksgiving. :) I am sure we are going to go climbing/biking that weekend too.

Much love and thanks for all the thoughts and prayers over the last couple weeks. It really has meant a lot to us. Heather and Andy

PS-I almost forgot! Jacqueline and I had an awesome hiking/camping trip 2 weekends ago. We hiked in the Smokey Mountains in North Carolina. My pack was 30 lbs! We hike about 6.5 miles the first day, camped over night, and hiked out about 5.75 miles the second day...although my GPS watch said we hiked over 9 miles that first day, hmmmm. We saw some awesome fauna and had a really enlightening weekend. Check out my pictures on Facebook. (hope the link comes through...)

Weather -- 2:16 pm (EST)

Chattanooga, TN -- Mostly sunny 71* - wind: calm - humidity 47%

Bloomington, IL -- Sunny 65* - wind: SW 10 mph - humidity 60%

Aurora, IL -- Partly cloudy 62* - wind SSW 10 mph - humidity 60%

Monday, October 19, 2009

Random thoughts

Long time no see...

Well, Andy and I have been busy.

My parents came down for a visit the first week in October. They were here 9 days. That is the longest house guest visit we have had to date ;-) It was a really good visit, but I didn't get to spend too much time with them during the week. Work has been really busy and I was having to stay late, almost every day. We were able to do some really cool things. We went to Lookout Mountain, Raccoon Mountain, did some hiking on the Cumberland Trail and Raccoon trails, cooked out with friends, and went to a fundraiser for our neighbor's daughter. BTW, our neighbor's daughter broke her neck (C1 and C2) a couple of months ago...she is recovering well. Her name is Brittany Stockburger, if you could keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

Andy had his 28th birthday this past Friday. We had a great night. I made ginger/wasabi marinated pork chops with broccoli and baked sweet potatoes. For dessert, I made him an apple pie. With some money I have been saving, I bought him a tool belt. He does have quite the "honey-do" list going, so I thought he could use a good tool belt to help him in his activities. :)

We are coming up on our 2 year wedding anniversary. I have been doing a lot of thinking about the last 2 years. Things have gone by so fast! Some days it seems like yesterday and others it seems like we have always lived in Tennessee. I really love being married to Andy. He is such an awesome husband. He really is my best friend and the first person I want to talk to or see when something comes up. I never thought a relationship could be this great. We were talking the other day about how when people say, "Relationships take a lot of work." Andy and I had 2 different opinions on the subject, but in truth we agreed. They don't take a lot of work. They take a lot of trust. You can't always be right. You can't always be heard. You can't demand your opinion to be the best. With all that, you then have to trust your partner won't take advantage of you giving them your trust. I know it is more involved that that, but in truth I think it really comes down to trusting your partner with your feelings. I am so happy Andy lets me be me and vice versa.

On Tuesday, for our anniversary, we are going to the Bald Headed Bistro in Cleavland, TN for dinner. Our friends Wes Young and Carrie Hertel are going with us. (Yes, Wes was the MIA groomsman). Since they couldn't be with us 2 years ago, we wanted to hang with them that day. The Bald Headed Bistro is having an October Fest...

On another note, I have signed up for the St. Jude Marathon in Memphis, TN December 6th, 2009. I only have 7 weeks to train, but I think it will be a good race and I hope to do well. My best friend Candace Crawford is doing the 1/2 Marathon, so we will be rooming together and celebrating afterward. I am really looking forward to seeing her and racing. Not sure what, if any, my goals for the marathon will be; but I will keep you posted as my training continues.

Take care,

Chattanooga, TN -- 55* Sunny Wind ESE 1 mph - Humidity 46%
Bloomington, IL -- 59* Sunny Wind SSW 19 mph - Humidity 53%
Aurora, IL -- 59* Partly cloudy Wind SSW 15 mph - Humidity 57%

Looks like IL is warmer, but give me 1 mph winds vs. 19 mph any day ;-)

Friday, September 25, 2009

JoyStar Handmade Originals

My best friend, Candace Crawford, has this killer handmade purse business. I am so proud of her and want to share her talent with all of you.

With the holidays coming up and budgets being tight...this is a great opportunity to get a one of a kind piece for a REALLY great price.

I have 4 of her bags and I get compliments all the time. I will never carry a bag that has not been made by her. She is a real artist. Please check her site out...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Andy updated his blog!

Andy is out at Interbike in Las Vegas this week. This is the coolest bike show EVER.

The first 2 days are the "dirt demo" Andy gets to ride any bike he wants and put it through the ringer. He said the last time he went he totally demolished a cross bike and kindly handed it back to the rep without flinching. The rep said thanks and handed him another one!

The third day of the show is at the Expo (I think this year it is at the Sands convention center). Also on the third day is Cross Vegas. One of the most exciting and popular Cyclo-cross races.

The rest of the week is a regular expo. Andy is much better at loading pictures. So his blog is full of them. Warning: Vegas in September will make you jealous! (hint: it is not raining there).

PS-Andy has not set up the "instant e-mail" thing I did. So you actually have to click on the link. I would save it to your favorites or bookmark it or something.

later taters, H

Chattanooga, TN -- RAIN RAIN RAIN

Bloomington, IL -- I don't care 'cuz it there is a monsoon in Chattanooga

Aurora, IL -- see entry for Bloomington, IL

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I finally know what my J-O-B is!

Yeah! After 2 weeks at my new job I have finally discovered what Affiliate Marketing is. Well, sorta...

Affiliate Marketing is an Internet-based marketing practice in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought about by the affiliate's marketing efforts.

There are 4 core players at it’s heart:

1. The Advertisers ( /
2. The Network (LinkShare / Commission Junction)
3. The Affiliates (the person with the blog/website)
4. The Consumer (the person buying stuff from Amazon/Zappos)

Affiliate marketing—using one website to drive traffic to another—is a form of online marketing, which is frequently overlooked by advertisers. While search engines, e-mail, and website syndication capture much of the attention of online retailers, affiliate marketing carries a much lower profile. Still, affiliates continue to play a significant role in e-retailers' marketing strategies.

I know that was a little technical. Here is another way to put it... If I wanted to make a little extra money I would put up "advertising banners" on our blog here. Most likely they would be put out to the side bar. I would pick companies that would reflect our blog, like REI or Performance Bicycles. When "guests" visit our blog; you have immediate access to REI or Performance directly from our blog. You buy something from REI, on that visit (from our blog), and REI gives me money. It is a free investment on my part and there is no added expense to my "guests." If you were going to buy something from Performance Bicycles anyway, then you just come to my blog first before googling "Performance Bicycles" and using a search engine. Win-Win.

Now my specific job does not involve super cool companies like REI or Performance. My company works with Pay Day Loans. I know what you are thinking...Ewwww. But after some thought and research, I am not making these people take out a pay day loan. They are doing it on their own. Therefore making their own poor investments and making the company I work for wealthy and able to pay my salary. Who am I to financially advise people not to make poor financial decisions? They should know better, but when you are in a jam and need money, pay day loans are there.

After I sat in the call center listening to people take out loans and then on the collections side our company trying to get our money back, I realized no one should EVER take out a pay day loan. They are intended for a 2 week small loan (no more than $1000). The people that need small loans typically can't pay them back in 2 weeks. There is not an APR, per se, because the interest is incurred daily. So the interest works out annually to be almost 400%!!!!! I repeat do not take out a pay day loan. But let's keep that between you and me ;-)

So as the Affiliate Marketing Coordinator for Logic Marketing (our new web-site will be launched next week :)) I track how many affiliates (people with financial blogs/websites that host our ads) have gotten traffic from their sites to our the pay day loan site. There is a lot more involved with what I do exactly, but I won't bore you with the details. ;-) I will say it is FUN and innovative.

I am so excited to be working in the area of advertising and marketing. The Internet is the way people are shopping, connecting, researching, and living. Affiliate marketing is so new they don't even teach it in college when you get a degree in marketing (right Meredith?) At least that is what I have been told. My degree is in Psychology. If I had to do it all over again, I would have picked a different major. My advice to all the fresh new college students, pick one of these majors and you will be sure to be marketable and have a job when you get out of school.
  • Computers IT (Building / software development)
  • Advertising / PR / Marketing
  • Teaching
  • Accounting
  • Finance (Banking/Investments)
  • Computer assisted design/Art
  • Law
  • Foreign Language
If you pick something vague and intangible like Psychology, be prepared to be in school for a very long time. One degree after another will be the only way to be on the upper echelon of your field. Because a bachelor's degree in Psychology, Biology, Math, History, or Philosophy will get you no where. Skills are required. Tangible functioning practical life skills.

Ok, I am done with my soap box. :-) Just wish I had someone tell me exactly what I should do in school.

Love ya all, Heather

Weather: @ 10:30 am Eastern time 9:30 am Central time
Chattanooga, TN 69* feels like 69* partly sunny-- 90% humidity -- Wind "CALM" (not sure what that means)

Bloomington, IL 65* feels like 65* sunny -- 87% humidity -- Wind "CALM" (I think the peeps are smoking some grass)

Aurora, IL 65* feels like 65* FOG -- 94% humidity -- Wind NE at 2 mph

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ah the Midwest...

I knew at some point I would miss the Midwest. Last summer on almost every bike ride I tried to soak in as much of the big sky flatlands as I could. I almost got misty eyed knowing the majestic fields were no longer going to be my "home." I kept telling myself how much I was going to enjoy the mountains and the rivers. I knew I would enjoy the Tennessee Valley just as much as I had enjoyed the heartland. Truth be told, I have. Today my sister Heidi and I drove to the Ocoee River and was amazed that I actually get to live here in Tennessee. Gorgeous. Truly beautiful (post pictures soon). And then our friend Brad Weaver posted these amazing pictures of Bloomington, IL on his blog and I got all kinds of homesick...

Can you blame me? Even if you have lived in the Midwest your entire life and HATE corn and soybean fields and can't wait to get out of the Midwest, you have to admit these pictures are truly amazing. (Thanks Brad ;-))
I will post more tomorrow about the rafting on the Ocoee River today. I will say one little thing first, it was A-W-E-S-O-M-E. I am totally ready to lean how to kayak. =)

Monday, August 31, 2009

weather 8/31

Chattanooga, TN -- 80* feels like 81* humidity 54% -- wind N 7 mph @ 1:16 pm
Bloomington, IL -- 62* feels like 62* humidity 60% -- wind N 9 mph @ 12:16 pm
Aurora, IL -- 66* feels like 66* humidity 47% -- wind NNE 7 mph @ 12:16 pm

Whoa! Chilly up there?

love ya all,

BMW River Gorge Bike Weekend

This past weekend was the BMW River Gorge Omnium. For those of you not familiar with a biking omnium it is broken down like this...

There are 3 components. A bike race, a time trial, and a crit. Some bike races are different but this weekend the bike race (40 miles) was Saturday morning, the time trial (4 miles) was Saturday night, and the crit was Sunday morning.

The bike race (which I did) is really different than anything I had ever done before. During a bike race you start out in one big pack divided up by categories. Cat 4 for women is the "beginner" and Cat 5 for men is the "beginner" categories. It goes up to Cat 1/2 Pro for men and women. Since there are so many more men doing the race than women they started the men off at different times depending on their category. For the women, we started off all together (1/2 Pro, 3, and 4). There was a "neutral zone" for about 1.5 miles. During this time you are trying to jockey for a good position in the pack. It is sorta like driving into Chicago or Atlanta. You gotta fight for getting in and not letting someone get into the pack. If you get a good position, then when the speed picks up you are not on the end trying to fight the constant Yo-Yo effect. The Yo-Yo is when the front of the pack makes small changes in speed it trickles back on the back of the pack in big changes. When you are an inexperienced rider, you will find yourself on the back more often than not. Just like I did ;-)

I thought I was doing ok, until the neutral zone was over. Whoops. I didn't have the guts to push up into the front, so when the first attack/climb happened about 10 miles into the ride, I got dropped like a sac of potatoes. I fought to catch my teammate that also got dropped. I caught up to Jennifer and we drafted off of each other for a bit and then I was pulling her up a climb and thought she was on my wheel, but I lost her after the last part of the first climb. Darn. Sorry. One of the course marshals said I was only 1 minute off of the pack and if I sprinted I could catch them. It is so much easier riding in a pack than by yourself, so I sprinted. And sprinted. And sprinted. I kept seeing car traffic slowing in front of me and figured they were JUST up there and I could maybe catch them, but unfortunately one person trying to catch 10, just isn't going to work. So I time trialed (TT) for the next 25 miles.

The race ends on one of the hardest climbs I have ever done down here. Remember my first bike post? That climb on Raccoon Mountain? Yup. That was the climb. In a race. At the end of 40 miles!!! UGH. I did better on the climb than I have ever done. I got some great numbers from my power tap. Which was AWESOME. Ok, I will try to break down power. Back home when I did the TT course for 40 kilometers (~ 26.4 miles) my average power output was 135. On Saturday for 40 miles, not 40 km, my average power was 160!!!! My power to weight ratio is approximately .67! Most pro riders have a power to weight ratio around or above .80. I am so happy. So all in all, I got spit off the pack early, but have proven to myself that I am a decent rider down here. I just have to work on hills and getting into my "pain cave."

The TT was Saturday afternoon. Since Saturday was my last day at Hennen's I didn't want to TT and lose face/money at Hennen's. The TT was only 4 miles. Andy and I are used to time trialing for a lot longer distance. 4 miles is not even enough time to blink, let alone redline for a decent time. Wish I could have seen/done it. Next year for sure.

The crit was Sunday morning. Sorta the same thing as the road race. They break you up into your categories 1/2 Pro, 3, 4, and 5. You get 40 minutes to go around a 1 mile loop in downtown Chattanooga and the guy/gal that goes around the most wins the crit. Very very fast paced and very hard effort. I didn't do the crit this year, but just like the TT; it is on like Donkey Kong next year!

Here are some pictures from the weekend...

Below: race morning with Lookout Mountain in the background all misty/cloudy

Below: Krystal Chiks Team
(Left to Right: Jennifer, Kristi, Ashley, Meghan, Me, Barbie, & Stephanie)

Below: Andy and his teammate Ricky warming up for the crit

Saturday, August 22, 2009

"Big Girl" job for Heather

Oh my gosh! My last post must have been an omen, sign, evil trick from the powers that be, Karma. I posted that exactly one week ago today/tonight and less than 3 days later I got an awesome job offer! Crazy how this world works. I mentioned before I had applied for a job and had a job are more details.

I am guessing about three weeks ago I checked my "business" e-mail. I had a bunch of e-mails from Career Builder,, etc. I selected one from to humor myself. Low and behold, there was a job posting for a Chattanooga based marketing firm. Here is the job post, pretty catchy... (I changed the name of the company to "New job" Last time I blogged about Hennen's they found my post. Will post title of company after I actually start working ;-))

Job description: "New job" needs someone to help us with reconciliation. What? No, our relationships are just fine, thank you. But what we really need is an Affiliate Marketing Coordinator to help us provide reconciliation, tracking and communication support for our affiliate channel. This’ll involve monitoring affiliate activity and documenting and updating procedures and processes. Hey, that’s got to sound better than sitting down with two warring spouses who’ve lost that lovin’ feeling. We offer a competitive salary (cha-ching!), paid time off, company matching 401k and health insurance. "New job" is looking for an Affiliate Marketing Coordinator to join our quickly expanding team. We are interested in hiring an experienced individual who will provide reconciliation, tracking, and communication support for the affiliate channel. This person will answer directly to the Affiliate Marketing Manager.

Company Overview: Making sense of the interactive marketing landscape requires a unique combination of analytics and creativity. We offer a multidisciplinary approach to finding effective strategies among an ever-changing competitive environment. In a medium where the only constant is change, "New job" is in the business of making the good…great.

After reading this, I thought it was too good to be true. It sounds like a super fun company to work for. Almost exactly what I did at Chestnut and a solid foundation to build upon. I sent in my resume and waited. Andy and I have a friend down here that is in PR, so I gave her a call to see if she knew anything about the company. She said that she had a friend over there and for me to send her my resume too and she would pass it along as well. Thanks Amy :)

Well, I got a phone call for a phone interview a couple days later. A week later I got the opportunity to have a face to face interview. After the face to face interview on the 14th of August, I got a tour of the building and filled out some paper work. I thought that was pretty promising. :) The tour of the building was awesome! "New job" is a subset of a larger computer company. "New job" only has about 25-30 employees right now. They said they are looking to grow quickly over the next year (good for me to get in on the ground level). The building is so cool. It is under some face-lift reconstruction, but nonetheless still pretty wicked. Everyone had double monitors (a 17 inch and a 13 inch), very cool cubicles (wood and glass), there is a workout facility, shower, locker room, ping-pong table, Foosball table, and an air hockey table (I am guessing for "relaxation" purposes). The kitchen is a full size kitchen with a gas stove, full size fridge, oven, and granite counter-tops! They have this giant fish tank in the cafeteria as well. Very cool fish. Not that all of this is more important than the actual job itself, but not knowing too much about what I am going to be doing, it gives great insight into the type of company they are.

I am really excited to be working at "New job." Andy and I have already talked about commuting into work together. My hours are going to be M-F / 8-5 with an hour lunch. So Andy can workout for the couple hours he is downtown before the shop opens and I can workout on my lunch hour or for the couple hours after I am done and waiting for the shop to close. We are going to be able to spend every dinner/night together. I really didn't think it was all that important for our relationship to have time together like that, but when it is gone for 8 months (3 months in IL and 5 months working at Hennens) can really put a strain on a relationship.

I am so excited. I was looking at all my clothes from Chestnut, and I came to one quick realization. I have GOT to go shopping! All I have from when I worked at the 'Nut are sweaters and frumpy button down tops. All the gals at "New job" had these cute posh outfits. Thank goodness my sister Heidi is coming down for the weekend over Labor Day. Ask Andy, I need help shopping. If I had it my way, I would wear the same khaki mini skirt and tank top that I have been wearing all summer.

Well TTFN (ta ta for now ;-))

Weather: @ 11:05 am Eastern time 10:05 am Central time
Chattanooga- 81* feels like 81* (partly sunny) Humidity 49% - wind NNW at 9 mph
Bloomington- 64* feels like 64* (sunny) Humidity 67% - wind NNW at 13 mph
Aurora- 63* feels like 63* (partly sunny) Humidity 68% - wind NNW at 10 mph

PS-Andy and I don't think he is gonna be able to come up to IL for Labor Day. We are really bummed. His exhaust is about to fall off his car and the tires on the Saturn Vue (Blue Magoo) are almost totally bald. No worries. Once I get my big girl pay checks we are gonna put a kennel out side for the pups and new tires for the Magoo. We will be back in IL for visits very soon!

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Ok it is late. Maybe I should go to bed after this.

The chick in the blog (AJ)... First she was on CW Arkansas NOT Alabama. Second the link changed in like the last week...

Good night. H

After work on a Saturday night...

Ok. Total random post. I JUST got home from work tonight and I am a) royally pissed off that I am working so damn late [got home at 1:25 am] to make an effing dollar and b) stinking frustrated that Andy and I are on totally opposite schedules. He was already asleep when I got home and I felt bad waking him up to tell him I was too wired from working to go to sleep right away. Seriously, ya'll can't go to sleep 20 minutes after you got home from work, can you? Rhetorical. I can't. Whatever. Onto the randomness of this post...

Ummm. What was I gonna say? Oh yeah! Terrapin India Brown Ale. My new favorite beer. Brewed and distributed in/out of Athens, GA. (Home of University of GA). Come to find out... Southerners LOVE their fricken college football. It is crazy. Even if they didn't go to college; everyone, I mean stinking everyone, has a "team." Ok, funny story. The University of GA's logo is a "G" and looks exactly like Greenbay's "G", only in black and red. There are so many cars down here with this stupid "G" on it. Anyway, when I first moved down here I thought all these southerners are really dim. First, they have the color of the Greenbay "G" wrong and also why the H would they like a Northern team all the way down here? Come to find out, they were only freaky because they like college football ;-) Oh yea... back to Terrapin Beer, all I gotta say is awesome. Yum. BTW...I have only had one.

I went swimming in some blue holes a couple days ago. So much fun. There are creeks all over down here and when the water is low in the summer the big creeks have these killer swimming holes. Super duper fun. Never thought I would enjoy swimming in a creek, but I can see my feet because the water is so clear. So there you go. I have pics...gotta get some help from the old man to get these things loaded up on the blog.

I am planning on running the Chickamauga Battlefield half marathon on November 14th. (Pronounced Chick-mou-ga) Since I have only raced 13.1 miles at the end of a triathlon, I think it would be a good distance to really push myself at. We will see how it goes.

Weather is good and hot down here. Heard IL is getting up there too. Pardon the strangeness of this post, without Andy to entertain me after work all I have is you ;-) hahaha.

Oh yea, totally almost forgot. For all those bloggers out there, here is a great blog to read. This chick from Alabama worked for the CW, you know the TV station. Anyway she had this awesome on-line "news" show on the CW home page for a couple years. Well, she got laid off because of the recession and is blogging on her own and making You Tube videos. She is really funny and pretty interesting. The name of her blog is "Blogging with AJ."

Later taters, Heather

PS-I had a job interview on Friday with an Internet marketing firm here in Chattanooga. Hopefully, I will hear some good news middle of this upcoming week. I don't want to get too excited, but it is a really cool company.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Cara's post is Imaginaté to the right and during Chris and Cara's visit I only had to work Monday, Tuesday, and Friday night.

Also, I posted pictures of our house finally. But since I started that post back in the middle of July, they are lower on the blog...scroll down to see.

Sorry. My brain is mush. Not that it is a big deal, but I like these posts to be accurate, at least for journal purposes ;-)

later, Heather

Visitors Galore!

There has been a lot going on for us since I last posted.

First, Chris, Cara, and Jonah came for a 6 day visit. It was really great having them here and seeing how much Jonah has progressed. Since he has gotten his cast off, he is back on track. BTW...Jonah broke his right leg a couple of months ago and was in a half body cast. Check out Cara's blog for more details (link to the right on our blog). Jonah is talking up a storm. He likes to point out when there are 2 of something. Maybe his favorite number will be 2, just like his aunt :) Andy and I were able to get some time off to hang with them, but not as much as I would have liked. Andy had Monday and Tuesday off. I didn't have to work any lunches, so I got to hang during the day all 6 days, but I had to work Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday night. We went to the Chattanooga Zoo. I haven't been there yet. It was cool to see the chimps and raptors (birds of prey), but other than that, it was sorta a let down. It was a little bit bigger than Miller Park Zoo, but not much. I know all zoos are good for bringing awareness to the community about conservation, but it breaks my heart when I see these big animals behind fences smaller than I would like for our 3 dogs. Ugh. Oh well. Cara and I did a trail run and a run downtown. We grabbed Clumpies Ice Cream after our downtown run, for a treat. Yum. Clumpies is a local creamery. Awesome ice cream. Cara and I also got to go on a 33 mile road bike ride. We didn't get to the climb, but we had a great adventure getting back to town on our own ;-) Andy and Chris were able to get a loop of mountain biking in at Raccoon Mountain and a good 3 hour road ride with 2 climbs. One of the days I had to work, Chris, Cara, Andy, and Jonah went a bike ride downtown and went to the TN Aquarium too. On the last day, Jonah had really gotten to "know" us. I guess as well as an almost 2 year old can get to know someone. Cara asked Jonah, "Who's bike is that?" and Jonah said, "Aunt Heather's bike." Awwww. Ok, we all know kids can never ever say my name correctly until they are about 6 years old, so it didn't really come out that clear, but it was darn close. Jonah also gave me a hug when they were leaving. My heart melted. We had a great visit. Cara posted a ton of great pictures on her Facebook page...

Not sure if that will come through or not...

Second, Chris and Cara left on Saturday, and on Monday we got a surprise visit from Andy's mom and her husband. They were up north in Cleveland, TN doing some hiking and white water rafting on the Ocoee River Saturday and Sunday. Monday they came to the house and got the "grand tour" we visited for a bit and then took them on a 3 mile-ish hike on the Cumberland Trail less than 1 mile from our house. They stayed 3.5 days in Chattanooga. We were able to go out to dinner at Big River (local brewery) with Andy's cousin Jacqueline, had a cook out with our neighbors and friends (Deni and Lloyd, and Wes and Carrie), and did a lot of visiting. After the hike on Monday my darn leg cramp came back Tuesday morning. We were supposed to go on a trail run with Elaine and Al, but I knew if I tried I would be stranded out in the woods making Andy carry me back to civilization. I think for all that were involved, it was best we opted out of that adventure. Elaine and Al went to the Aquarium (I did not go, since I have been there too many times to count ;-), they did a trail run, mountain biked (we were unable to go, since I did not have a functioning mountain bike--but I almost do now :), and we did some window shopping. All in all, we had a great visit. I felt bad we were unable to go with them on some of the adventures, but sometimes you can't control everything :)

Now that our house guests and visitors are gone, it seems a little quite around Sweet Soddy Acres. The next visitor planning on coming for a visit is my sister Heidi. She is coming over Labor Day weekend. I took work off for all 5 days! Whoo Hoo. I really want to go rafting on the Ocoee and do some zip lining. Other than that, maybe go to the beach, drink, eat, and hang out. It has been a really long time since Heidi and I really had some time to hang out. I am really looking forward to her visit.

I think that is all for now, oh wait! 2 things...
  • Good luck to all the Steelhead participants doing their 1/2 Ironman in Michigan today as well as those participating in the Canton Sprint distance triathlon/biathlon in IL and..

  • Weather:
  • Chattanooga, TN @ 11:26 am 83* feels like 87* - partly sunny - humidity 67%
  • Bloomington, IL @ 10:26 am 73* feels like 73* - mostly cloudy - humidity 64%
  • Aurora, IL @ 10:26 am 69* feels like 69* - cloudy - humidity 71%

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Waterfront Olympic Triathlon 7/12/2009

I will be honest, I was really nervous about my first tri of the 2009 season. I had a lot of goals and expectations when the year started. But just like racing, things happen mid-way and you need to adjust. I can usually adjust pretty well during a race, but ask Andy, I am not so good at adjusting to changes in life. ;-)

The past 4.5 months have been the most exciting, stressful, & happiest. Andy and I have accomplished what we set out to do and are living the life we wanted. Granted, we would like to be making more money...but who wouldn't, right? All that being said, this triathlon was sort of a test I had for myself. I wondered if I could take a very important part of my life in Illinois and move it to Tennessee successfully. Verdict? Affirmative. The tri was great!

A little over a month ago, Andy's cousin Jacqueline (she moved down here about 2 years ago) asked if I would be the swimmer on her relay team for the Waterfront Triathlon. I said yes. I also thought that since I would be swimming, why not just do the darn thing myself. I e-mailed the race director and asked if I could do a relay and an individual entry. Come to find out, they don't do that a lot down here. Back home I hear of people doing the swim on a relay and individual race all the time. Well, "Team Magic" a.k.a. "Team let's mess everything up" never heard of this concept before. They let me, but there was a lot of confusion prior. I was the ONLY person doing a relay and individual amongst 1300 participants. Every time I mentioned I was doing both to ANYONE (race staff, participants, or spectators) they thought I was doing the race twice...ugh.

Race morning: Anthony Brown (Andy's friend from high school who moved to Knoxville, TN) was doing the race too. He came down Saturday night for some homemade lasagna and a place to crash before the race. He and I headed downtown @ 5:00 am. After some sprinkles on the commute, we got into Chatt early and ready to race. We unpacked our gear and headed into transition. I lost Anthony pretty quick amongst all the people, but I did find Jacqueline (our team runner) and Crystal (our team biker) pretty quick.

Swim: Since there were 1300 participants and we were swimming in the Tennessee River, they had a TT start (time trial). Pros went first @ 7:30 am, oldest age groupers next, then age groupers, and finally relay teams. Since I was doing the swim on a relay, I had to start at the very end. I got in the water at 8:45 am. Honestly, I think there were only 40 people that got in the water behind me. I had done some swimming in the months prior, so I was feeling ok about the swim. It was a point to point going down river. My fastest Olympic swim was in MIM 2 years ago. I think it was around the 26 minute mark, but everyone says the swim at MIM is notoriously short. For this, I was shooting for just under 30 minutes. Personally, I didn't feel the "current" everyone said would help me "float" down the river. I think I was swimming too close to shore to be in the current. Also, the water temp was 80* -- so no wet suits. I also forgot to start my watch when I got in the river. Ugh. Even with all that, the swim felt good. My shoulders were burning, so I knew I was pulling pretty strong. I got out of the water and ran up my first set of stairs of the race, hit the landing and then up the next set of stairs. There were 4 sets of stairs on the race course. I think I picked off some people in the swim, but not sure. I ran into transition gave Crystal our team timing chip and off to my bike. Swim time: 26.29 (individual) 26.33 (relay) that happened, no clue. Maybe my right ankle was 4 seconds slower passing over the timing mat than my left?

Bike: As suspected, my bike was almost the ONLY one left in transition. Not too big of a deal when you are doing a tri of about 500 people; but when you have a transition for 1300 people, your bike looks pretty lonely out there all by itself ;-) I grabbed my bike and headed out. I felt pretty good. Turned my power tap on and put the metal down. The course was an out and back up highway 27. They shut one lane of traffic off for us. It is a nice rolling course. No mountains, thank goodness. I picked people off and almost never got passed. Nice feeling. I guess starting DFL has its perks. The wind in TN stinks. You never really get a tail wind, but you always seem to have a head wind. Darn mountains. I caught up with Crystal (our biker on the relay) with about 3 miles left to go. That felt pretty good. She rides a lot and is on a team. But then she found that "hidden" gear and got me back with 2 miles left. I thought if I kept her in my sights I would still be in pretty good shape. Bike time: 1:21:04 / 19.2 mph (it was a 26 mile bike, not a 40k).

Run: Trying to catch Crystal took a little out of my legs, but I got my running legs under me pretty quick. The rain started just as I was pulling into T2. Running in the rain is awesome. The only evil part of the race is the first mile of the run. They stuck this horrible hill at the very start of the run. Once you are done with the hill, you run UP a long set of stairs. UGH. After that, we were running on the River Walk. Very similar to the Constitution Trail back home. Nice and flat. Whew. I knew I would never catch Jacqueline, she is really speedy. With the swim and bike over, my only goal was to run and not walk. I didn't care what my finish time was going to be. I thought I had a decent swim. I knew I had a nice bike. So I just tried to pick people off one at a time. I actually caught some women in my age group. That felt great, especially since they started their swim about 30 minutes ahead of me. I saw Jacqueline on her way home and my way into the turn around. She looked amazing. Run time: 56:22 / 9:06 pace.

Finish: I saw Andy on my way into the finish. He rode his bike down from our house into downtown. I always love seeing him cheering for me. It really lifts my spirits and gives me a boost. I found Jacqueline and Crystal right away. We all looked like drown rats because of the rain. Thankfully the rain stopped 5 minutes after I finished. We got some food, changed, and waited for awards. Our team got 2nd! We got to stand on a podium and receive some cool gifts. It was an awesome race. I got 16th out of 60 women.

Finish time: Individual-2:48:49 / Team-2:39:18

Individual -- Swim: 26.29-T1: 3.10-Bike: 1:21:04 / 19.2mph-T2: 1:46-Run: 56:22 / 9:06 pace
Team -- Swim: 26:33-T1: 2:24-Bike: 1:21:35 / 19.1mph-T2: :39 -Run: 48:07 / 7:46 pace

All in all, I am very happy. I did my first tri in TN at a pace a little faster than my PR for a similar course. Not sure what race/goal I have next. I will have to put my thinking cap on and get back to you on that.

Well, that is all for now. Take care, Heather

Chattanooga, TN @ 11:15 am 81* feels like 85* (sunny) Wind S @ 5mph - Humidity 69%
Bloomington, IL @ 10:15 am 74* feels like 74* (cloudy) Wind SSW @ 14mph - Humidity 90%
Aurora, IL @ 10:15 am 75* feels like 75* (cloudy) Wind SW @ 11mph - Humidity 79%

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Double Leg Quad Cramps

I am sure you all are eagerly awaiting pictures of 'Sweet Soddy Daisy' but you will need to continue to wait. Ahharg! I took some really great pictures last week, but the internet at the house is really slow. It took over an hour to load one picture. So I am trying to find a faster internet connection to load the rest. Oh well. Part of living in the sticks ;-)

Things have been going pretty well. I have discovered that waitressing is something to be left for the younger generation. Not that I physically can't do my job. That is not the problem. The real problem lies in the fact Andy and I are on opposite schedules and never get to see each other. A "younger" person usually doesn't have a) a house b) husband c) life plans... For instance, when I am ready to do something he is tired and when he is ready to do something I am tired. I am putting my resumé out there and pounding the pavement again. Maybe with a TN address it will come out better.

I went out for a 4 hour ride yesterday. Typically a ride like this doesn't immobilize me anymore, but yesterday was different. For those of you who ride 650c wheels (because you are a small person--like me), the idea of riding a 700c bike is totally out of the question, right? Wrong! Andy had a 50cm frame with 700c wheels -- WSD (Women Specific Design) at the shop and wanted me to try it out. I was a little concerned it wouldn't fit me because the wheel base was too big and I would be stretched out. Not a problem with women specific design. Andy left the house for downtown first. While I finished getting my things together, I missed his text message that asked for me to measure the saddle height on my old bike before I left. Whoops. Big whoops. I get to the Trek store and all is well until Andy asked, "Did you get my text?" Nope. Ok, we can eye-ball this pretty close before I leave on our ride in 30 seconds, right? Ha ha ha. Andy wasn't too sure I was fit on my bike correctly, but I reassured him it felt great. Off we go...

It was great. Being on a 700c wheel base from a 650c wheel base is TOTALLY different. I guess the only way I can describe it is I am one of the "big kids" on a 700c bike. I didn't have to work harder to keep up, like I usually do. I was able to draft and BE drafted. The climbs seemed shorter with only a little more effort. The only problem I had was my saddle was a little off. On the first climb I could tell something was wrong, but I didn't know what and didn't want to make it worse by lowering my saddle or raising it. So I endured. It wasn't that bad at all...or so I thought. After riding up Lookout Mountain (my first time on this climb) and descending on Burkholter (sp) I felt great. I got up over 45mph on the decent! Whoo Hoo! We rode though Lookout Valley for a while and then did the stair steps on some highway, not sure where we were, but thank goodness Kym was with me. We did that climb at a pretty easy pace, and then it it me. My saddle position was killing me. It felt like I was sitting on 2 searing hot stones that were zapping the power out of my legs. Ugh. I mentioned something to Kym and she said we were almost home only 35 minutes or so. I figured I could muster up the houtspa and get around the base of Lookout Mountain and head into downtown Chatt. Well my quads had another idea. Halfway around the base of Lookout (short climb...Illinoisans would call it a big hill ;-)) my right quad was starting to twinge. I turned to Kym and mentioned something, but I thought I could rub it out while on the bike. Then my left quad started to go. Trying to rub out both of your quads while climbing a hill, doesn't work too well. Consequently, we pulled off to the side and then BAM! Double BAM BAM! Both of my quads seized up. I looked down and my legs looked like they belonged to a body builder! I could see every muscle contracting AT THE SAME TIME! I then looked up at Kym (while standing over my bike) and said, "What do I do? I can't move." She came over and held my bike and I some how got off my bike and sat down with bent knees and rubbed out my legs. Ugh. That was awful.

Truth be told, I drank 60 ounces of fluid, but on a 4 hour ride in the south east summer... that doesn't cut it. Plus my position was a little off. Not that a 50cm / 700c bike was the problem. It was a great bike and I am so happy I can ride a "big girl" bike now. It think we are going to sell Beatrice (my road bike) and get me a new 2009 4.7 Madone road bike.

Although, my (future) bike would be a different color. With the compact crank and an 11-28 cassette in the should be pretty close gearing to my 650c road bike.

I am planning on keeping my tri-bike as a 650c. I think I would be too stretched out in aero position. Plus 650c wheels have some serious get up and go. I like that feel in a tri. Very aero and fast.

Sorry that was a little bike gear saturated, but when you are married to comes with the territory ;-) love him.

This weekend Jacqueline and I are doing the Waterfront Triathlon in Chattanooga. I am doing the swim, Crystal Galloway is doing the bike, and Jacqueline is running. There are 6 female we might have a shot at some hardware. Jacqueline is a running stud and her friend Crystal sounds like a bomber biker. I am also doing it on an individual basis too. Not sure how that will turn out, but we will see. I will post something after I get slaughtered ;-)

Much love, Heather

Chattanooga TN-- 83* feels like 85* wind out of the NE 1 mph with 58% humidity--Mostly sunny @ 12:00 pm

Bloomington IL-- 69* feels like 69* wind out of the ESE 8 mph with 77% humidity--Cloudy skies @ 11:00 am

Aurora IL-- 73* feels like 73* wind out of the ESE 4 mph with 65% humidity--Cloudy skies @ 11:00 am

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Sweet Soddy Acres (pictures)

Pictures of Sweet Soddy Acres...
(It took a really long time so I only loaded the "important" ones)
Above: from Jones Gap looking back at the house

Above: front of house

Above: back deck
Below: side deck and kitchen windows

Above & below: kitchen

Above: front living room

Below: entry into the great room

Above: great room (part of)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

oops almost

Chattanooga, TN at 2:15 pm 95* feels like 100* humidity-43% wind-N 6mph

Bloomington, IL at 1:15 pm 79* feels like 79* humidity-36% wind-NW 16 mph

Aurora, IL at 1:15 pm 81* feels like 81* humidity-34% wind-WNW 27 mph

Woah! Aurora is the windiest and Chattanooga is Blazing HOT! Must be nice to have pleasant weather in Central Illinois right now ;-)

Sweet Soddy Acres

We have a winner! "Sweet Soddy Acres" has won!

More good news...I am composing this blog from our home! We have internet access. The Dish Network installer didn't come on Friday. We had to reschedule for today (Sunday). Ugh. I had to miss Andy's mountain bike race to sit here while the dish installer hooked us up. Oh well. We are on-line and the kitchen is clean and the laundry is done :) Not too bad for a Sunday.

All in all, Andy and I have had a productive week. Between working and finishing putting the house away, we have actually gotten some workouts in this week! I signed up for the Waterfront Olympic distance triathlon here in Chattanooga on July 12th. Andy's cousin Jacqueline asked me to be the swimmer for a 3 person team she is running on for the triathlon as well! Hopefully, my minuscule swim workouts will get me out of the water in a decent time. This is the first time I am going to be the swimmer on a relay team and also competing individually. Hopefully, I remember to pass along the right timing chip ;-) Andy and I did a 60 mile ride up Flat Top Mountain, down into Dunlap, TN and up Mobray Mountain. Over 3100 ft. of climbing! Since I am doing a tri soon, I wanted to do it on my tri-bike. Poor Zoë (yes, I named my tri-bike) has not been on the road since IM Florida! This was a big ride for us. Especially since I had my "flat land" gears still on her from Florida. In the end, I was pretty happy with it all. My power was where it was at the end of the season for time trialing and I had a huge confidence boost because I did better on both climbs than I did on my road bike 2 months ago. I did a 5k race a couple weeks ago and got 3rd in my age group. Since the short distance is not my forte, I was shocked and really happy. I don't have any big races planned yet. For sure I am doing the Olympic tri on July 12th and then a super sprint tri also here in Chattanooga at the end of August. I am thinking maybe a half marathon in the fall, but I am not sure. Right now, I am just so happy I am feeling like an athlete again and have my biker tan back. ha ha ha.

We are expecting some visitors from Illinois in the next couple weeks... Chris, Cara, and Jonah are coming for a visit! They are going to be with us from July 21-27. I am so looking forward to seeing them. It has been so long since Andy has seen his brother, sister-in-law, and nephew. It will be almost 9 months since they have seen each other. I am really excited to show off our town to them. :) My sister Heidi is planning a visit with us in September over Labor Day weekend. That will be a treat too! So if you want to come down, just let us know... Sweet Soddy Acres will be "open."

Well, I guess that is it for now. In the next couple weeks, we are going to post pictures. I promise! We are so excited about our house and property, we want to show it off to ya'll. Take care and catch you later, Heather

Monday, June 22, 2009

Name the Sweet house...

Looks like we have a winner! But then my Dad threw a monkey wrench into the whole thing and came up with some really good alternatives...

Sweet Soddy Acres seems to have won the first round, but with the addition of Team Sweet Acres and Sweet Holler we may have to have another round of voting. So here goes

  1. Sweet Soddy Acres
  2. Team Sweet Acres
  3. Sweet IM Ranch
  4. Sweet Holler
We will soon be back on line in the house. The Dish Network peeps are supposed to show up between mid morning and mid afternoon on Friday... same as the cable company ;-)

Will post more after the internet hook up :)

Much love, Heather

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Please Vote!

With Mike Hannah's help we have come up with a couple names for the new Sweet homestead...
  1. Sweet Soddy Acres
  2. Sweet Mountain
  3. Sweet Mountain Estates
  4. The Sweet Hillside
  5. Sweet Wispering Pines
  6. The Sweet House
  7. Camp Sweet

Please give us your vote...

I got River-faced at Shit-bend...

So the party was good. I made a ton of food and the bonfire was AWESOME. Only bummer was the last night of Riverbend was Saturday night too. Some peeps didn't make it out :( FYI--Riverbend is a music festival where ALL the rednecks from the mountains come down for a "good ol'time." They make a pig-stye of our town and clog up the streets with their giant stupid trucks and drive wickedly drunk everywhere. *Suggestion: do not come to visit Chattanooga during the second week of June. The horror. The horror.

Even with the attraction of Riverbend, there were a lot of people that came out to party with us. The one that wins the prize for farthest traveled is my father-in-law Larry! He drove all the way down from Kappa, IL to hang with us. He also helped us with some major "honey do" projects we had on the list. Larry power washed the deck, fixed our air conditioner, cut down a tree (with Loyd's help), and put together Andy's new wheelbarrow...I think Larry will need a vacation after his "vacation" with us.

We still don't have internet! Ugh. If I have to talk to another customer service representative I am gonna go out and buy me a big a$# gun! After over 1.5 hours with these "experts" I came to the same result. They don't have the equipment to install satellite dish internet. I wonder... let's play a little game... if someone were to come into the restaurant I work at and give me $100 would they wait over 3 weeks for their food? Hell no! They would bitch and moan in less than 30 minutes. Why the F should I be expected to patiently wait for a service I have ALREADY paid for????? Double Ugh. Living in the sticks, you are at the mercy of many many others.

I have thought about doing this for sometime, but I think I am actually going to implement this into each blog I post. In the old days, you know when people actually used to write letters to each other? With a pen and paper? Use a stamp? No? Ok, modern day correspondence is the blog/e-mail/text. Back to my point, sorry. It is weather. We are dialed into all day, but we don't take the opportunity to tell each other what is happening in each other's "neck of the woods." So here goes...

Chattanooga, TN at 5:45 pm it is 92* feels like 96* wind from the WSW at 13 mph with 46% humidity.

Bloomington, IL at 4:45 pm it is 85* feels like 87* wind from the WNW at 7 mph with 51% humidity.

Aurora, IL at 4:45 pm it is 78* feels like 78* wind from the NW at 6 mph with 63% humidity.

Looks like Chattanooga wins for the most "hot" but Aurora is the most humid...strange.

Much love y'all,

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Home Sweet Home.

We moved into our house on Jones Gap Rd. on May 25, 2009 and closed on our house June 3, 2009. The seller was kind enough to let us "pay rent" to her until we closed. Good thing because we were supposed to move out of our rental house on Love Lane on May 8th...we got an extension until the 25th. Whew.

So we have been in the house for almost 3 weeks. In that time we have discovered a couple things:

  • The dogs LOVE the back deck, and so do we ;-)

  • There are A LOT of critters in the woods--so far I have seen a ton of butterflies/bees/wasps/carpenter bees, 1 black widow spider (she was eating a moth-very cool), 2 toads, a bijillion rabbits, 5 blue tailed skinks (lizards), and a multitude of insects. More to come for sure. I have heard the coyotes, but thankfully we haven't seen them.

  • Our neighbors are really cool

  • The house is perfect for us and we are so happy

  • We have a big yard
Which brings me to my next story...

Memorial Day weekend Andy was in Atlanta for a friend's wedding. That Saturday I came home from the grocery store very excited to make rice crispy treats for my work buddies. I pull up in our drive and our neighbor Loyd is walking across the yard. At this point, I haven't met him yet, but Andy has. Loyd is a really nice guy, but a little intimidating. He looks like a bald lumber jack/mountain-man with a huge smile. Loyd says to me right off, "Great day today, right?" Of course I agree. I am about to do some pseudo baking. He then says, "It is a great day to cut grass too." Oh darn. Well Andy is out of town so I am off the hook, right? Nope. Loyd escorts me over to his very fancy lawn mower. Asks me to get on it and start it up. Ummmm. Ok. After a very quick tutorial on how to start the darn thing Loyd suggests I go ahead and cut over an acre of grass. Ummmm. Ok. Here is a picture of the beast...

If good ol' Loyd had a video camera he would have made some serious money on America's Funniest Home Videos. Loyd forgot to tell me how to steer the darn thing! I ran over so many things -- that weren't grass! I also ran into a couple trees and Loyd and Denie's rock wall! After about 10 minutes I got the hang of it. Then it was the most fun thing I have driven since I was 16. I felt like I was in a video game. This thing turns on a dime and goes FAST! I was done cutting the grass (over 1.5 acres of just grass to cut) in less than 45 minutes. It would have taken me a couple days to do that with the push mower. Fun times.

We are still without internet access. Bummer. We are planning on getting DishNetwork, but they had trouble getting "a part" this weekend and have postponed our installation until next Sunday (6/14). Once we get our computer up and going, and maybe a new digital camera, the pictures of the house and yard will come rolling out. Our current camera takes great pictures outside, but total blackness occurs when we attempt to capture images of the inside of our beautiful house. Good thing, I guess. We are still unpacking all of our boxes. Hopefully, we can get the boxes sorted out before the weekend because we are having our first party at the house. We are having a "stock the bar" and BONFIRE party! Whoo Hoo. Hopefully someone will have a camera and we can document the carnage for you all.

A small request from you all, we want to name our new home. So far Andy has come up with The Lucky Duck Ranch. That got vetoed right away and for some reason he can't think of anything else. Personally, I think he is pulling my leg. ;-) So if anyone can come up with something cool and fitting, I would really appreciate it :)

Take care, Heather

Thursday, May 28, 2009

This is IT.

Our financing is A-P-P-R-O-V-E-D!
Yup. That's right folks. Andy and I are officially buying our first house! We close on June 3rd. With all the closing extensions we have had over the past 2 months, I still am holding my breath a little. On the other hand, our realtor and mortgage guy says it is a GO. So, for the next 5 days we will be hovering between elation and frustration.
It is so strange, I went on a run today because I am so tired of putting our lives on hold until we find out about the house. Not sure if that is what we have done, but it feels like that. I will speak for myself here, but I have been so preoccupied with THE HOUSE, I have not been able to relax. Not really truly relax. So I figured today, rain or shine I was going to go on a run. A nice easy relaxing run. No watches. No mile markers. Just running...running and praying. I prayed most of the run. I prayed for us and the house, for others, for guidance, & some other stuff.
I got back into the Trek Store and Tyler said, "So Wednesday is the big day, uh?" I had no clue what he was talking about and said so. He was really apologetic and sorry he spilled the beans. I said, "So we are closing next Wednesday? I don't care who tells me, as long as it's true! You better be telling the truth or I am gonna get you!" I have to admit, I think Tyler was a little scared ;-) I found Andy and he confirmed Tyler's babbling. Whew. I am really happy. Tyler is too.
We put an offer on the house at the beginning of April, and it was accepted on April 3rd. We are closing on June 3rd. Only 2 months of torture. It sure seemed a lot longer than that. I guess when you are in the mix of it, it is consuming and overwhelming. I am just so happy it is over and we can start to really unpack, decorate, landscape, and start making our first house our home.
Thank you to everyone for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. I know it helped. Andy and I are very lucky to have such great friends and family. We can't wait for you all to come and visit. I may have to post a calendar of sorts, seems like we have become a popular vacation spot ;-) Thanks again. Talk to you all soon.
PS-If anyone applies for a rural development loan...give your self at least a month and a half for it to go through. ;-)

Friday, May 8, 2009

The House Saga Continues...

I just can't wait any longer.

Andy and I found this great house up on top of Flat Top Mountain in Soddy Daisy, TN 6 weeks ago. Since then, we have been in financing limbo/purgatory/hell -- whatever.

The first hurdle we ran into was the mortgage guy our realtor suggested wasn't really what we were looking for. He did not want to even consider my income because it is commission based and I have been there for less than a year. Then, he was really pushing for us to get a co-signer. Andy and I made the decision if we couldn't get a house on our own, we didn't want to get one until we could. Ergo no co-signer. He also wouldn't consider any other types of loans besides a FHA.

Then we spoke with Dale Whaley here in Chattanooga. He is great. He looked at all of our finances and said the same thing about my income. Total bummer. But then he said that since the house we found was "outside the city limits" we could apply for a federal loan. Specifically, a USDA Rural Development loan (United State Department of Agriculture) not the Department of Drugs and Alcohol ;-)

Dale mentioned, with only Andy's income we would have a really great shot at getting this type of loan. Long story short, when you deal with the government, you get a lot of red tape. Lots of hoops to jump through and longer deadlines.

At this point we are set to close on May 15th. We have extended the close date 3 times previously (First it was April 30th, then May 1st, then May 4th.) If this doesn't happen on the 15th. I think Andy and I are going to be back to square one. Grrrrr. Although, Dale is really really confident we are going to get the loan and we will be able to close on the 15th, Andy and I are a little apprehensive. Below is a link to the rural development loan we are going to be looking at...

I spoke to our current landlord and she said we could stay until May 18th. Whew. We thought we were going to have to move into a hotel/motel until we got into our new house. Not fun with dogs and a "tight" budget.

We are keeping our fingers crossed and our chins up. On the whole, we are trying to stay positive and are thinking this is all going to go through in a timely fashion.

Stress. Stress. Stress. Now onto the fun part...the house.

It is being sold by a Prudential realtor. The MLS listing is 1124781. It is a 2 bedroom 2.5 bath home on 2.4 acres on Jones Gap Road in Soddy Daisy, TN. The Cumberland Trail goes through our back yard and the bike riding routes are amazing! There currently is a fence out back for the dogs, but that will need to be updated in the next couple of months. There is also a HUGE deck for entertaining. The 2 bedroom thing was a concern of mine, but once we got into the house to look around, we realized it won't be a problem at all. The large family room on the east side of the house has a bathroom and a door. When guests stay, they can stay there until we remodel.

We already had our inspection and appraisal. Things are moving right along...we hope.

So there it is. We have been waiting to post something until we had the security of it actually going through, but I just can't wait any longer. I have been getting a lot of interested and concerned family and friend e-mails and phone calls. I didn't want to blow any of you off, but I have been worried I would jinx it if I spoke about it. But oh well, there it is. It is out there. I posted it. It is almost like it is written in stone, right ;-) Just kidding.

Take care and we will post something more "concrete" as soon as we know.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Excuses excuses excuses...

I know I have been really positive about all the fun things we are doing down here, but truth be told I have not been doing what I said I was going to do...

The "plan," back in December, was to be in the best shape of my life going into Memphis in May. To PR at the Olympic distance tri and "go out" on top. Not that I am quitting tris, just thinking about starting a family in the distant future...I will go into that in more detail later. ;-) Anyway, with moving, starting a new job, and all the new obstacles that go along with moving to a new state...I have done less training than EVER. Ugh. I am so depressed.

I was all set (in my mind) to do this sprint triathlon today. Really, I was as of last Wednesday. I thought, ok I am not in the best shape, but it it only a sprint. I can pull that out of my arse any day, right? Then I got to thinking. Ugh. The race was $65. Andy and I have not renewed our USAT memberships, so it would have been an additional $35 to get that up to date. Then I realized that when I packed up all our stuff in February, my racing flats were garbage and I threw them out. Not a big deal right? Wrong. The running shoes I got for Florida were a half size too big (thanks to the sales guy not listening to me and my last minute decision to get new shoes before an IM). So if I ran in sloppy running shoes with out socks then I was sure to get blisters. Waitresses + blisters = unhappy working environment. So I decided not to do the sprint today.

Andy and I were talking the other night, and we are so happy we moved and are starting a new life, but with living in a rental house (poopy), STILL waiting to hear about financing on the house we found (double crap), and trying to stay positive through it all; training and racing have really taken a back seat to pretty much everything. We feel really disconnected from our life. For me, I won't speak for Andy, being active and healthy means more to me than I thought. Maybe if I had an expensive Ironman out there looming in the future... Not sure. I thought MIM would be a good motivator. I have got to dig deep and find a reason to feel good about myself or I am going to be 200 lbs. the next time any of you see me ;-) Just kidding.

All I know is it is a beautiful day here in the dirty south and I can NOT seem to get my butt out there to run, bike, or swim! Grrrr.

Not sure if you all really wanted to hear me ramble on about my poor racing attitude, but thought this was the best way to get this off my chest. Thanks for reading.

Hope you all are having a better day.

Take care, Heather