A Bit Out of My Comfort Zone

I recently asked a stranger if I could take his photo, an act outside my comfort zone. I gave myself a mental pep talk before mustering up the courage to ask - I knew if I didn't ask, I would regret it later.

Meet Robert, our highly animated, funny and super knowledgeable server at a local BBQ establishment, The Black Dog Smoke and Ale House.

We Had a Great Lunch Thanks to Robert

It was my first visit to this restaurant, known for its burnt ends, double baked potato casserole and long wait times. Case in point - the restaurant opens for lunch at 11, we arrived at 11:05 and found all the seats taken. The facility is indeed tiny, which, of course, adds to the experience. We ended up waiting 25 minutes, but the food was worth it.

Robert made our experience even more special and he graciously agreed to have his photo taken a couple times - yup, his grin says it all.

That Grin

If you are ever in the Champaign - Urbana, IL area (home to the University of Illinois), be sure to check out the Black Dog for a great BBQ meal.


Along My Run | 13 - Cold, Snowy February

Even though I really enjoy running in the snow, I've officially had enough after last month. I thought the 2014 winter season was pretty challenging from a running standpoint, and 2015 has come very close to at least matching it, cold for cold, snow for snow. Since this winter started off mild and snowless, I was lulled into a false sense that an early Spring was eminent.

At the end of January, I thought, if we received some snow, that would be nice - it would be fun to get some more snow runs in.

It snowed on February 1, and as I ran in the falling snow, it was bliss.
Then the relentless, bone chilling winds came one Saturday, during an 18 miler and I thought I was going to die.
The last two weeks of the month were a challenge - I ran in four snowstorms, negative windchills and had to re-route most of my running routes as my normally traveled sidewalks are ice / snow covered.

I think I'm ready for spring.

Captured While Running - Cold and Snowy February
1. Today's Run Brought to You By the Letter S. Sunday snow, and yes, it was lovely out there., 2. On the Backside of the First Eight Miles , 3. A New Perspective, 4. Rain off the Roof, 5. Their Idea of Hanging Out on The Sandy Beach?, 6. Unexpected Snow And It Was Hill Day, 7. Frosted Selfie , 8. Our Group Run Was Officially Cancelled but We Ran it Anyways. 5" of snow on the ground when we started and big, soft flakes fell throughout our 13 miler. It was amazing., 9. Making Our Way Down Peabody, 10. Unspoiled Stillness, 11. The Post run running group Selfie - Couldn't have gotten through today's 13.1 miles without them!!, 12. Over the River, 13. Pretty Much Done With The Snow. Spring can come any time now!, 14. More Snow Fell Last Night so I Ran in It, 15. Ended Up Going Back to Get the Shot Of The Path We Ran This Morning

And here we are, over a week into March and there's plenty of the white stuff on the ground. A big warm up is expected later this week, with temperatures into the 50s and hopefully it will stay that way.

My monthly running stats:
Total Miles - 116
Average Pace - 9:30 minute / mile

Marathon updates: I entered the lottery for the NYC marathon, but my entry wasn't selected. There was an 18% acceptance rate through the general lottery, so I'm not too surprised. This means I will enter the Chicago Marathon Lottery which opens on March 10. I am currently training for the Illinois Marathon, a mere 8 weeks away! That weekend will be fun - my daughter signed up for the event's 5K and my husband signed up for the half marathon (his first!).

This month's running quotes:
It's about staying fit and pushing yourself to achieve and surpass goals, sure; but it's also about personal and spiritual growth, creativity, mental clarity, and emotional stability. I find these things in running.
– Jamie Quatro

At first, I liked running because it got me into a routine and gave me a chance to think. Eventually, I realized this is my therapy, my time to make sense out of life.
– Alan Peterson

Simply by not quitting, you'll succeed.

– Stephanie Rothstein Bruce

It's important to know that, at the end of the day, it's not the medals you remember. What you remember is the process - what you learn about yourself by challenging yourself, the experiences you share with other people, the honesty the training demands - those are things nobody can take away from you whether you finish twelfth or you're an Olympic champion.

– Silken Laumann


March 2015 Desktop Calendar - Free Download

It's no secret - I love tulips, as they signal the transition to spring, rebirth and growth. After February's cold and snow, I am ready to see their green shoots emerge from the awakening ground.

To Download this month's free desktop calendar, click on this link at Box.com:
Free March 2015 Calendar - Tulips


Oh to the Rose

The Rose

The rose is a rose,
And was always a rose.
But the theory now goes
That the apple's a rose,
And the pear is, and so's
The plum, I suppose.
The dear only knows
What will next prove a rose.
You, of course, are a rose -
But were always a rose.

Robert Frost


Some say love, it is a river that drowns the tender reed
Some say love, it is a razor that leaves your soul to bleed
Some say love, it is a hunger an endless aching need
I say love, it is a flower and you, it's only seed
It's the heart, afraid of breaking that never learns to dance
It's the dream, afraid of waking that never takes the chance
It's the one who won't be taken who cannot seem to give
And the soul, afraid of dying that never learns to live
When the night has been too lonely and the road has been too long
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong
Just remember in the winter far beneath the winter snow
Lies the seed that with the sun's love, in the spring becomes the rose

Bette Midler

Oh the red rose, what a pain you are to photograph properly.
The blown out, saturated red, the funky chromatic aberration.
Not what I saw through my viewfinder.
I played with your hue, saturation and luminosity levels and I'm still not sure it looks right.
But your velvet, curved petals, forever spiraling from the center,
Exudes graces and all that is beautiful.




I'm nothing more
than who I choose to be
I will stand tall
I will be free


A Winter's Morning

I passed by the park on my way home from grocery shopping - the sun was shining, spreading a false sense of warmth on the golden, wintered landscape. Yet I knew the reality - I had already rationalized away my morning run, citing a negative 10 degF wind chill was just too cold for me to deal with.

A half mile down the road, I decided to turn around and found myself taking a 30 minute detour from my heavily scheduled Sunday.

From Here to There


It was the right decision and 30 minutes well spent.

Speaking about decisions, my daughter received her acceptance notification at the University of Illinois on Friday (she got in!). In order to make a more informed decision, we will be making a trip to the University of Kentucky in a few weeks. I also went ahead and entered the NYC Marathon Lottery. I place my fate in the hands of the automated system that will pick the entrants on March 3.

Hope you are staying warm this cold Tuesday morning!


Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

My daughter, a senior in High school, applied to four colleges. She’s been accepted to three so far, and the last school (University of Illinois) is expected to release their decision letters / notifications today. Based on her grades and test scores, we assume she’ll be accepted there (but you never know!). Then starts the decision making process. Scott and I would prefer she stay local, but not because we expect to ever see her during the semester. With her horse, Caesar, it makes sense for her to be close by. But it’s not our decision to make.

I am seriously considering entering the New York City Marathon Lottery. This is not a guaranteed race entry – lottery entrants will be picked via the lottery which occurs on March 3. It is estimated that less than 20% of the lottery applications are selected for the race. This is the same process I took last year when I entered to run the Chicago Marathon. The main difference is the percentage picked – for Chicago, 40% of the lottery entrants were selected. I have until Sunday, February 15 to decide!

We decided to book a family trip to Kauai, Hawaii. Scott and I planned to go to the island on our honeymoon nearly 23 years ago, but Hurricane Iniki changed our plans - this hurricane hit Kauai the day before we got married. We spent our honeymoon exploring Maui instead. We always said we would return to see what we missed and we'll get our chance this summer.

I was scheduled for an early workday start on Tuesday morning and I decided to take my phone with me into the plant after I caught pink steam rising above one of the buildings. I think it ended up being a good decision.

Early Bird Day #work #goodmorning #sunrise

The most pressing decision of the weekend will be.... how to spend our President's Day Monday holiday! It's Chinese New Year, so I will be making dumplings. It's going to be great.

Are you off for President's Day? Regardless, I hope you have a great weekend!



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All images on this blog (unless stated) are the intellectual property and copyright of Shirley LeMay Photography and Shirley Behind the Lens (© 2005-2014). Do not steal, borrow or pirate the images here.

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