Monday, April 30, 2012

Run Like A God!

"But those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."
- Isaiah 40:31

My first 10 mile race, along with Tony and I's five year anniversary, was this past Saturday! It was a long, tiring, but one hell of a fun day.

Tony and I woke up at 6:20am, got dressed, ate our protein bars and drank our Gatorades to amp ourselves up for this race.

I was ready to go!! 

Tony and I before the race! Our first race together!

The race was called the Cleveland 10 Miler, but you could also sign up to do a 5 mile relay with one other person. Tony and his sister, Alicia, did the 5 mile relay and let me tell you, THEY KILLED IT! They finished 7th out of 21 teams! 

I was so incredibly proud of Tony! :o) 

This race took everything inside of me to keep pushing on to set new goals. The theme of the race was Run Like a God... and by mile 8, I may not have been running like a god, but boy was I sure praying for my feet to keep moving. I could begin to feel the searing pain in my hip and I could feel blisters growing on my feet, but I was so determined to set new personal records that I just didn't care about the pain. I wanted that medal and I wanted a feeling of satisfaction once I crossed that finish line. 

So did I set new PR's, you ask? HECK YEAH I DID! 

I ran like a god!

I set a new PR for my 5k, a new PR for my 10k and a new PR for my 10 mile! Can I get a high five?

My Nike+ app was a little off and told me that I finished when I still had .3 miles left to go! The lady came on and told me, "Congratulations! You have just reached your goal of 10 miles!" I wanted to yell "LIAR!" but remembered that I was surrounded by people and would have received funny looks. So instead I just focused on the finish line in the near distance. The app told me that I ran 10.3 miles in 1:39:43 with a 9:39 average mile pace. 

HOWEVER, my chip time from the race's website told me that I finished in 1:38:55 with a 9:25 average mile pace. I'll take the second time over the first... 

So after the race, not only was I so thankful that I finished in one piece (sort of), but I was so thankful that it was finally over. It was now time to celebrate all of our accomplishments, hard work, PR's, and earned medals!  
 Alicia, Me and Tony with our medals! 
 Me with my first running medal!
 My medal up close! 
Happy Anniversary, Tony! :o) 

It was then time for Tony and I to head back to his sister, Rachel's, house to get ready for the Indians game! Rachel, her husband Jeff, Tony and I, all had plans to go to the Indians game followed by dinner at Wasabi, a hibachi-Japan type restaurant. 

As I was getting ready to hop in the shower, I was quickly reminded of my injuries. My foot had a blister about the size of a quarter... 
Sorry for those of you that hate feet...

...and I noticed that I had chaffing burns on my chest area due to a new tank top that I had never ran in before. (That picture is too gross to post but it looks like a Hunger Games wound.)

Despite my injuries and how painful they felt, I wasn't going to let them ruin the day. We all got ready and off we went!

Whelp, once we left for the Indians game, it started to rain. Figures. The game ended up having a 3 hour rain delay... but did that stop us from going? Nope! 

No bad weather, nor pain, was going to prevent me from enjoying this day...
Yeah it was 40 degrees & rainy... but my 24 ounce Christmas Ale, yes, in April, warmed me up just fine! 

Everyone was is good spirits and we laughed and joked the entire day! 

 We were all smiles! :o)
Me just being facetious! ;o) 
Rachel and I!
Tony and Jeff! 

So Jo(W)anna know what? Your attitude and outlook on things is the true determination on whether or not you achieve a goal or have a good day. There were so many things that could have held me back in my race along with so many things that could have prevented us from having a good day. But a positive attitude, along with not having high expectations, made Saturday one of the most fun and memorable days I have ever had. I ran, ate, drank and laughed like a fool, and I don't regret any of it. I can't wait to run more races and plan more eventful days with the people I love. 

So here's a little word of advice to having more fun and memorable days... 

Well said, sign. Well said.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What Women Wish Men Knew About Them

As I was doing my daily news/article reading today, I stumbled across an article titled, "Six Things Women Wish Men Knew About Them" written by Shaunti & Je Feldhahn and Jim Burns.

Now usually, I just bypass these articles because it's typically the same old stuff you hear over and over.. but for some reason, I was intrigued to read this one. I was intrigued not only because I am a woman and have all those mushy gushy feelings, but because as I witness so many relationships around me blossoming or deteriorating lately, I think knowing things like this are critical to maintain a happy and healthy relationship with the person you love. 

If you're a guy, you're probably like "oh brother, another woman ranting about their feelings" and you've probably already stopped reading this. But if you're still reading, please just take 5 minutes out of your day to sincerely read this and learn a little more about women and why we are the way we are. 

I promise you that this article is not some feminist ranting on and on about why men are dogs. If you're in a relationship, would like to pursue a relationship, or wonder what happened to your relationship, I can assure you the answer you are looking for is most likely in this article. 

This article is written for husbands and wives, but I reworded it below to make it applicable for all relationships; single and pursuing, dating, engaged or married. 

So here we go... I promise this won't hurt.


As the authors state in the article, it is no surprise that God has wired women and men differently. We all recognize some of these differences, but others often hide in plain sight. 
There are six things women wish men knew about them and I think you’ll find that understanding these issues will help you be more equipped to lead a happy and long-lasting relationship.

1. Women need reassurance that they are loved. Men often think that their love should be assumed, that they “closed the deal” when they married their wife or has been in a long-term relationship. But, to women, it’s not that simple. Most women have a fundamental insecurity about their significant others' love. They want to know that their significant other loves them – today! Men will do well to make it a top priority to reassure their women that they love them … and not just when things are going well, but especially during times of conflict.

2. Women can’t just turn off thoughts that concern them. Think of a computer 
desktop, with windows open. To close the windows, one just clicks the close box and the
window disappears. When it comes to thoughts and emotions, men just click the “close”
box and move on. Women, on the other hand, may attempt to click the “close” box, but
the window won’t close. Their thoughts and concerns about bothersome past and present
issues are not easily dismissed. What’s a man to do? Telling your woman, “Just don’t think about it anymore” doesn’t work. Men should be good listeners and help their ladies
process their concerns and if possible to help them identify ways to resolve their 

3. Women value emotional security more than financial security.
Everyone knows women are concerned about the need for financial security in their 
homes. What many men don’t realize is that women value emotional security more than  financial security. Women crave the emotional security that their men's presence and connectedness creates. In practical terms, women want their men around them more and will likely be willing to downsize their lifestyle to make it happen.

4. Women want men to hear and validate their feelings, not just the problem at 
hand. Most men know that their women don’t want them to “fix” their problems. They 
want their men to listen. So, why is it that men can listen to their women talk, and still be accused of not listening? It’s because of the difference in the way men and women handle emotions. Men want to discard the clutter of emotions and focus on the problem. But, for women, how they feel about the problem is the real problem. When men listen with an ear to hear, validate and empathize with their woman's emotions about a problem, women feel that they have been heard.

5. Most women are wired to desire sex less than men. (This still applies if it is the other way around) But, not being “in the mood” doesn’t reflect a lack of desire for their man. When men think about sex, they process everything through the grid how desirable they are. So, when women aren’t “in the mood,” it feels like rejection to men; that they aren’t desirable enough. Most women on the other hand, find that their man's desirability has almost nothing to do with their own sex drive. Most women are wired with “receptive desire.” This means that while they typically enjoy sex as much as men, they just aren’t wired as heavily to initiate sex. Women need time for sexual anticipation. Further, for most women, sex is more about emotional connectedness than it is for men. Men would be wise to cultivate closeness and emotional security with their women outside of the bedroom.

and last.. but certainly not least...

6. Women need reassurance that they’re beautiful and that they rock their
man's world! God has wired women with an emotional need to know that their 
man still finds them beautiful. In our culture that promotes scantily clad women in all
forms of media, women subconsciously compare themselves to these images and often 
find themselves not measuring up. So, when a woman asks her man, “Do these pants
make me look fat?” she’s not really asking about the fit of the pants. She’s wondering if 
her man still finds her to be the apple of his eye. Men should make an intentional
effort to regularly remind their woman that they find them beautiful!


So Jo(W)anna know what? There you have it! You wanted to know what really goes on inside a woman? There are your answers. We as women probably know you think we are beautiful, but expressing your feelings and reminding her how you feel is desired by women. It's not always easy expressing your feelings, and we as women might not always understand that because we are always a bowl full of emotions. But by just simply telling your significant other she is beautiful, well, it can make all the difference in the world.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Dark Ages

If you are a follower of my blog and enjoy reading it, you would truly enjoy reading my long-time friend, Carrie's, blog. She is a beautiful and humorous writer that talks about a wide variety of topics ranging from religion, to weekend festivities, to her love for her dogs, to literature, and to much, much more!

Today she decided to tackle a blog post about "The Dark Ages" and asked if her fellow Hudson alumni bloggers would join in on the fun! I always enjoy a good challenge... so here goes nothing! 

What exactly are the dark ages you ask? Good question! Take... 

Mean girls


Awkward girls

And what do you get? Dun Dun Dun... Middle school (AKA the Dark Ages)

Yep, that would be me in the blue hat and blue shirt in that picture. While most middle school girls would try to impress the high school boys by dressing up as hairless kitty-cats or sexy witches for Halloween... I myself, along with some other really cool people, dressed up as a Mexican thug.

Like my goatee?

Middle school was definitely not my time to shine... and I wish my 24 year old self could tell my 13 year old self to just not care what other people thought... considering I don't even keep in touch with 98% of those people now. (Hey what's up 4%, see you at my wedding!!) 

While the popular girls in middle school were too worried about which boy they should date next because the other one was becoming a stage 5 clinger.. I was too worried about making friends and making sure my wardrobe wasn't last year's hand-me-downs!  

In August of 1999, my family moved from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Hudson, OH. Although moving in 6th grade is a terrible and awkward time to start over and make new friends, my sisters totally had it worse. My middle sister, Kim, was in 8th grade when we moved (the grade where girl's claws grow in out and cliques become too strong to break) and my oldest sister, Jen, was a freshman in high school (the grade where people notice that you're new, but fail to say hello). 

My first class was Science with Mr. Gross (how ironic) and I sat at a table of girls who seemed intrigued, yet hesitant, to befriend me. Some of the girls were immediately nice to me and instantly became my friend, while others picked on me for my style of clothes. News flash Joanna, overalls are only cool in Oklahoma.

Oh yes, we were the new, socially awkward Larkin girls who were just trying to find our place in that white picket-fenced city called Hudson.


A few months went by and I was beginning to make some pretty fun and cool friends. 

One brisk Spring day, I had two of my friends over to roller blade in my neighborhood. I'm not sure who's idea it was to play dodge-ball on roller blades, but at the time it sounded exhilarating! Again, if I could go back in time to tell myself that dodge-ball on roller blades was a bad idea, I would... but then again, if I knew back then what I know now, I wouldn't have such a great story to tell.

As I was rollerblading away from my opponent holding the dodge-ball, I saw in the corner of my eye that she was getting ready to pound me with the ball. In my attempt to escape her throwing the ball at me, I ducked. At this very moment, my roller-blade got caught in a pot-hole and I flew forward, face first, into the concrete of the road. I attempted to catch and save myself with my hands, but that only resulted in me breaking both of my wrists. 


Yes. It's true. So now I just wasn't the new girl from Oklahoma who wore overalls, but I was now the new girl, who wore overalls, with two broken arms. And to make matters worse, I had glasses, had to have my mom wipe me after I used the restroom (TMI? Sorry), and since my clothes didn't fit over my casts, I had to wear my mother's clothes. GASP! Say it ain't so! Yep... and no offense to my mother's wardrobe, but at that age, the last thing a middle school girl going through puberty wants to do is wear her mother's clothes.

I was the definition of awkward. 

I could dig out a picture of those (no exaggeration) horrid, awful, awkward days, but I'm sure those pictures are buried in a very safe place... for a reason. Plus, I wouldn't want to Google "awkward girl with two broken arms" someday and see my picture all over the internet... like this girl:

So yes, 6th grade was not my year, and 7th and 8th grade got a little better. I think I maybe had one boyfriend (which lasted about 3 days, but felt like 3 months) and I think I maybe danced with two boys total at all the middle school dances combined. I was the wallflower. I had a ton of guy friends, but I was never considered the "girlfriend" type. I was always the funny friend who passed along the word of who likes who. I was the middle-school match maker. 

I was determined that it would all change in high school. 

Well, surprise, not much changed in  high school. In all reality, high school is not much different than middle school. Sure you grow older, learn how to drive, develop physically and discover beer, but the cliques remain the same and well, the immaturity of boys remain the same. Although I tried to be more girly by being a cheerleader...

...maybe I didn't try hard enough. I was still the "funny friend that is a girl" to guys. I only had two boyfriends in high school, and although breakups seemed like the end of the world then, boy am I glad those relationships didn't last. 
So Jo(W)anna know what? College, and life after college, were/are my years to shine! I graduated college, have a successful career, a fiance who would do anything for me, best friends that could pass as my sisters, and no broken bones (knock on wood). 

So as my favorite musician, Jason Mraz, would sing, "I'm letting myself off the hook for things I've done, I let my past go past, And now I'm having more fun". "The Dark Ages" have passed and, if anything, they have made me a better and stronger person... even though I did hate those days with a strong passion. So this year may not be your year, heck, even today might not be your day, but there is always next year, there is always tomorrow and there is always hope. So just keep living in the moment and never change who you are! :o)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bring on the Races; Bring out the Advil (and beer)

Yep. That's a screen shot of my iPhone after my run yesterday. 

Impressed? You should be. Haha just kiddng... I thought about quitting about 70 times... especially after mile 1. I wasn't even planning on running 11 miles until I asked my roommate, Cristina, how far she was running this weekend and her reply was "11 miles". 

My immediate reaction in my head was, excuse my language, "Damn it".  

My immediate reaction out loud was "11 MILES?!" like I was hoping for a "Just Kidding" to come out of her mouth. She wasn't joking though. 

No, I am in no competition with her. In fact, I am not even the competitive type. Even if I was in a competition with her, I wouldn't stand a chance. She belongs in the Olympics. But it's just that we (Cristina, Tony, myself and many other of our friends) are training for our first half marathon which takes place on May 20 and I know that I have to stay on top of things if I want to finish without injuries. All in all, she acts as my motivation more than anything.

This would be me without Cristina.


This coming Saturday, April 28th, is Tony and I's 5 year anniversary of dating. The more and more I think about us getting married, and don't get me wrong.. I am STOKED to get married, it just kind of makes me sad that this anniversary technically won't count anymore once we are husband and wife. But with everything else in life, better and greater things come along and the past becomes nothing more but sweet memories! 

So guess what we are doing for our anniversary...   

Can't guess? 

Ok, I'll tell ya. 

We are running a 10 mile race! Awwww so romantic.....  We really know how to plan our dates. I can't wait to get all sweaty, gross and sore with the man I love. 

That sounds incredibly dirty... but you know what I mean.

This is my first 10 mile race however, and the fact that we have both come so far with running and are doing it together, well, it is kind of cool.  

But to be  honest... I am not looking forward to actually running it... I actually am only looking forward to getting my t-shirt and my medal once I finish... I will do whatever it takes to get my first real running medal.

This will be me if I don't get my medal...

I'm not joking.

But don't think that our anniversary fun ends there! After the race, we are, believe it or not, doing something relaxing and fun. We are going  to the Indians game and drinking a nice cold beer(s) while enjoying baseball in the sunshine. :o) 

After a 10 mile race.. that is EXACTLY what I'll want to do. Instead of laying down and popping open the Advil bottle every 3 hours... all I'll want to do is sit, drink and watch some Tribe. 


So Jo(W)anna know what? Even though I will be spending my 5 year anniversary running a 10 mile race and watching some baseball... I wouldn't want to do it with anyone else. Yeah that might sound a bit cheesy, but isn't the truth about your feelings typically cheesy? That's a rhetorical question, so don't answer that. But I do honestly love that Tony and I share similar interests, with running being one of them. If anything, our recent love for running has strengthened our relationship with not only ourselves but with each other as well. (Barf, I know). 

And thank god for such motivating roommates too. Without them, I would for sure be sleeping in a bed of cake batter and cookies. I cannot wait to cross that half marathon finish line with the people I love. 

But until that time comes, please pray that I finish this 10 mile race in one piece... 

I do not want to end up looking like this guy...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter Made me MIA

I've been super MIA lately... I blame it on Easter festivities and my hesitation to pack more than my necessities. 

What are my necessities you ask? Clothes, toiletries and my DSLR camera. My laptop got left behind.. therefore preventing me from blogging.

Thursday night began my fun-filled four day weekend. Thursday night I polished off a bottle of wine while baking sweet, sweet, delicate, delicious treats for Sunday with my roommate, Jenny. Since I gave up sweets for lent, baking was the hardest thing EVER. No exaggeration. There was no spoon licking and no sample tasting... Thank God for that bottle of wine.

My Easter Cupcakes! 
Mini Easter Cupcakes!
My roommate, Jenny's, Easter cake ball creations!

Friday morning, I woke up with a slight headache but got dressed and nonchalantly ran 10 miles. 

Hahaha just kidding, I was seriously stoked that I actually ran that far. The little voice inside my head kept telling me to quit after mile 2 but the cheers I get from my Nike+ app made me feel like I couldn't let myself down.


 After my run, I showered, packed for the weekend, and then Tony and I drove off to Cleveland to spend the Easter weekend at his family's.

Saturday, Tony and I had our engagement pictures in Cuyahoga Falls! Mother Nature must have been feeling generous because the weather was unbelievably beautiful! It was a high of 60 and sunny!

Just a sneak peak!

After our pictures, we stopped in Hudson (where I went to High School) and ate breakfast at the ever so legendary Yours Truly restaurant. We drove around the town after breakfast so that I could get my fix of 'walking down memory lane', and then we headed back to Tony's parents house! 

Before dinner, Tony and I went to his old elementary school for some swinging! No... not that kind of swinging... I'm talking about the kind of swinging on swing set! Sounds incredibly cheesy and lame, but swinging sort of has a relaxing vibe to it; It brings out the kid  in Tony and I and we always feel rejuvenated after a swing session. Plus, it was an opportunity, and excuse, for me to use my camera! :o)

Saturday night, we dyed Easter eggs, which is a Giannell family tradition. I forgot to take a picture of mine and Tony's eggs.. so thankfully, Tony's mom sent me a picture of them on her phone! 

Tony's egg says "Tony <3 Joanna" and mine says "11-17-12" :o)

Sunday morning, Easter morning, snuck up on me and before you know it.. I was shoving all those cupcakes I made down my throat. No regrets. It was legit the best day of my life and I completely spoiled my dinner but I was 100% ok with that. 

After church, we took family pictures outside, since the sun was out and shining again!

After pictures, we went hunting for our Easter baskets. Yes, you heard me right, we still get Easter baskets! It was glorious. My basket was filled with chocolate, sour patch kids, skittles... everything heavenly and sweet... and everything a little kid would get excited over. Judge away if you will but it was wonderful and I've pretty much already eaten everything! 

Needless to say, I had an incredible busy, yet fun weekend. But Jo(W)anna know what? It's back to reality.... but only until next weekend! Next weekend will be another fun-filled, busy weekend... Why you ask? Because it's TONY'S BIRTHDAY! WOOHOO!

So until next time (which I promise won't be as long as last time), I hope you all had a wonderful, fattening, Easter like I did! 

And for those of you who were bad during lent... that sucks if you already ate your chocolate...


Monday, April 2, 2012

The Color Run!

It's official! I am signed up to participate in the Cleveland Color Run!!

I have been waiting for this day for what seems like forever! I even had it marked on my outlook calendar with a reminding alert... Judge if you will.

Since running has become a new found love of mine... I have spent a lot of $$ lately for upcoming runs; Cleveland 10 miler in April - $50, Cleveland Half Marathon in May - $65 and now the color run in June. I almost feel like I don't have enough money for groceries... maybe I need to rethink my priorities... nah.

The Color Run just looks like so much fun that, to me, $40 to get splattered with colored corn starch with your friends and family seems like a perfectly reasonable amount.

So what's the color run you ask? Check it out:

Looks incredibly messy, yet incredibly and insanely fun... RIGHT?!

But to go more in detail about the run (since the video just gives an incredible visual of what I am eagerly awaiting to encounter), here is what the Color Run is:

(Per the Color Run website)

What is the Color Run?
The Color Run is a one of a kind experience that is less about speed and more about enjoying a color crazy day with your friends and family. Our events, are all about people of all different speeds, ages, shapes, and sizes toeing the start line. Whether you are a casual morning mall walker or an Olympic athlete, the 3 miles of the Color Run course will be the most enjoyable real estate you’ve traveled in a VERY long time. You will love this Color Dash of fun!

How does it work?
The Color Run pretty much has 2 SIMPLE rules. 1. White shirts (any mostly white T will work great) mandatory at the start line and 2. Color plastered EVERYTHING at the finish! Runner/walkers begin the 5k at the start line like a brand new pristine coloring book, they end looking like they fell into a Willy Wonka… tie dyed… vat of colored goodness.

What is the Color?
Each kilometer of the event is associated with a designated color. 1k is yellow, 2k is blue, 3k is green, 4k is pink, and the 5k finish is a “Color Extravaganza.” As the runners/walkers hit the Kilometer COLOR RUN Zones, they will be blitzed by our volunteers, sponsors, and staff with COLOR. The color is a special “elf made” recipe of magical color dust. All products are 100% natural and safe. You can eat the stuff if you’d like (we have tried it and don’t suggest it, it is surprisingly high in calories and leaves a chalky aftertaste). 

So there you have it folks... Reader, color run.. color run, reader. Now that you are introduced, GO SIGN UP!!

Now that I am registered... I have a new countdown on my outlook calendar for the actual event. June 16th... you are only 76 days away and I am coming for you!!

So Jo(W)anna know what? If you can't already tell... I cannot wait to experience this day of color mania happiness... But to Cristina, E. Smith, Tony, and the rest of my friends signing up... I CALL NOT DRIVING AFTER THE RACE!!