Happy 1 Year!

…to my blog!

Yesterday, September 23rd, was the one year anniversary of the very first blog post on Cait Strides. I had the idea to start this blog as a way to keep me accountable for marathon training and [as a picky eater] trying new foods. It has turned into so much more than that and has truly been a pleasure to write nearly everyday. It’s been a pretty crazy year with so many up’s and down’s. Of course, it’s impossible for me to share every aspect of my life on this blog, but I thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane and share a few highlights from the past year:

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The First Post - chronicling a bit about my life and how I became such a picky eater/my desire for change (Sept 2011)

Life of a runner - explaining my love-to-hate relationship with running (Sept 2011)

Hawaii Trip!! - when I went to visit a good friend who is living in Hawaii (Oct 2011)

Graduating from the kiddie menu - my first Chipotle experience (Oct 2011)

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse - Run For Your Lives post race report (Oct 2011)

Experimenting in the kitchen - first time making pizza dough (Nov 2011)

On Life, and Death - serious contemplation on life and what it means to fully live (Nov 2011)

Ran Philadelphia - marathon #2 in the books! (Nov 2011)

Truly becoming a Maryland-er - making the most delicious crab pizza (Dec 2011)

Discovering my inner hipster - I’m even too cool for this post (Dec 2011)

New Years Eve in NYC - easily one of the craziest nights of my life and one I won’t forget any time soon (Dec 2011/Jan 2012)

Weight - announcing my struggles with weight and committing to lose weight (Jan 2012) – for the record, I’m 15 lbs lighter! WOO!

It’s not always rainbows and butterflies - sometimes life is hard (Feb 2012)

Things I love - a different kind of Valentine’s Day (Feb 2012)

Shamrockin’ the races - Post race Shamrock Half and PR report (March 2012)

Monument Ave 10k - another race recap (March 2012)

Kristina’s visit! - my BFF from Washington came to visit for a weekend in DC, we had a blast (April 2012)

It’s a BOY!! - my sister and bro-in-law find out they’re having a boy! (April 2012)

Livin’ the Sweet Life - hanging out at the Sweet Life Festival (April 2012)

Memorial Day Weekend - Instagramming my entire life away (May 2012)

USA vs. Brazil Soccer game/vacation #1 to Myrtle Beach - kicking off summer the right way (June 2012)

Lindsey’s Bachelorette Party - girls just want to have fun (June 2012)

Erin’s baby shower - spending the weekend with my family celebrating my sister (July 2012)

4th of July - a low key 4th of July celebration at my parent’s house (July 2012)

Myrtle Beach Vacation #2 – Post 1, Post 2, Post 3 my family is crazy and I love them (July 2012)

Debating chicken and teal pants - in the same post, impressive! (August 2012)

Mumford & Sons and Kyle is born! - best weekend of summer, easily (August 2012)

Rockin’ and Rollin’ in VA Beach - Rock ‘n Roll VA Beach sweeeeaty post-race recap (Sept 2012)

Remembering 9/11 - never forget (Sept 2012)

Thank you so much to everyone who has continued to read and support Cait Strides. I have appreciated each and every one of your messages, comments, and feedback! Writing this blog has truly been a pleasure; I hope you enjoy reading my ridiculous quips as much as I enjoy writing them.

I’m looking forward to blogging another crazy year of my life: more races, running, cooking, new foods, and general fun with my favorite people. Get ready.

Thank you!

Rainy Days on the Beltway

Funny story but people in the DC area can’t drive in the rain. Really, every time the wet stuff comes falling from the sky people around here get driving amnesia and completely forget what they’re doing. It’s the strangest thing.

It was torrential downpouring yesterday after work (just in time for rush hour) so, of course, traffic was crawling. This is how I feel about that:

I know I complain about traffic a lot on this here blog, but that’s because I waste so much of my time in it. Did you know that DC has the second worst traffic in the USA? Second only to LA. No joke! I truly have to plan my life around when traffic will be the worst: forget about going anywhere Friday between 3:30pm and 6pm. Just forget it!

Here are some crazy facts about traffic:

  • The individual cost of congestion exceeded $900 per driver in 1997, resulting in more than $72 billion in lost wages and wasted fuel. (Source: U.S. Dept. of Transportation)
  • Drivers in one-third of U.S. cities spend more than 40 hours a year (an entire work week) in traffic that is not moving. (Source: Center for Transportation Excellence)
  • Congestion results in 5.7 billion person-hours of delay annually in the United States. (Source: U.S. Dept. of Transportation)
  • If one in 10 Americans regularly used mass transit, U.S. reliance on foreign oil could decline by more than 40 percent, or nearly the amount of oil imported from Saudi Arabia each year. (Source: Center for Transportation Excellence)
  • A regular rush-hour driver wastes an average of 99 gallons of gasoline a year due to traffic. The average cost of the time lost in rush hour traffic is $1,160 per person. (Source: Center for Transportation Excellence)

Dang.

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At least I have my Kelly Clarkson CD in there to pass the time when I’m not yelling at other drivers. I’m a really awesome singer, for the record.

What ways do you pass the time in a traffic jam?

Remembering 9/11

Eleven years ago today a tragedy occurred. The unimaginable happened when the Twin Towers collapsed that morning, changing the New York skyline forever. For our nation, this marked the end of our naïveté thinking we were invincible. For me, it marked the end of any childhood innocence I had inside of me.

Everyone remembers where they were the morning of September 11th, 2001. I still vividly recall details like they happened yesterday. My family was living on the west coast in a suburb outside of Seattle at the time, I was a freshman in high school. Every morning, my mom rode her exercise bike while watching the morning news. My typical routine was to wake up, come downstairs, eat breakfast, then go and chat with my mom for a few minutes. This particular morning, my mom called me into the room as soon as I came downstairs slightly after 6am.

All she did was point to the TV. All I could do was stare. I remembering seeing the images of a plane inside the world trade center with smoke billowing out the gaping hole it left. I was so confused.

As we sat watching, suddenly we saw the second plane crash. My mom and I audibly gasped, our only words repeating “oh my god!” I couldn’t even believe what I was seeing. I remember thinking, WHY is this happening? Who would want to do this to so many innocent people? I had so many questions.

It was hard to pull myself away from the TV that morning. I didn’t want to go to school, and I was terrified that another attack was going to happen. The bus was eerily quiet except for a few choice kids whom I assumed hadn’t heard the news yet. As word spread like wildfire around the school, it’s all anyone could talk about. Half of my classes had lessons for about 15 minutes until we could no longer focus and had to see what was going on in New York.

I remember coming home that night and watching coverage until the wee hours of the morning. I felt so many emotions: sad, confused, worried, angry, scared.

In the days that followed, our nation pulled together for the victims of 9/11. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so patriotic in my life. Every house in our neighborhood hung their American flag, people made signs in support as more and more stories began to be told nationwide. It didn’t matter if you were black, white, Asian, Republican, Democrat, WHATEVER- the point was, we were all American. It’s hard to believe that was all so long ago. I will never, ever forget. America will never forget.

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Where were you on September 11th, 2001?

5 Things Friday

1) I totally fainted at the doctor’s office yesterday. I went in for a routine check up when, suddenly, they decided to draw blood. I ran early in the morning and didn’t eat much before the appointment, mistakes #1 and #2. I’d never had my blood drawn before, so I was surprised when they did it this time. Needless to say, I was dismissed by the nurse and headed into the lobby when I started to feel super dizzy. It was almost like I was riiiiiidiculously drunk and couldn’t get my bearings. I walked over to the water fountain to fill up a cup and sat down next to some dude on an ottoman. The next thing I knew I woke up in a sweat, not able to feel my arms or legs, with four doctors huddled around me.

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I’m not sure how long I was out for, but I was totally confused when I woke up. Apparently, I turned ghostly white and passed out onto the lap of the dude next to me. Embarrasssssssing. It took me a minute to figure out what had happened, and a nurse was already on her way with some apple juice to get my blood sugar levels up. I immediately felt better after that, but they made me stick around for another 30 minutes and checked my vitals twice before letting me go. I had never fainted before, and let me tell you, I wouldn’t want to do it again…holy crap.

2) Wednesday night was the official start of FOOTBALL SEASON. Which, in my opinion, is the second best season of the year only slightly nudged out by that whole holiday season thing. It pretty much means that every Saturday and Sunday I will be attending or glued to my couch watching games all day. This year, I’ve joined not one, but TWO fantasy football leagues. I’m hoping to avenge my abysmal 2-11 record from last year.

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I swear, I’m not a boy. I just like sports.

3) I don’t drink coffee all that often, and when I do I usually get a caffeine rush that gets my heart beating faster than the time I went skydiving. But I saw Wednesday’s Livingsocial deal for Starbucks and I couldn’t pass it up. Apparently pumpkin spice lattes are back for fall along with…salted caramel mochas? To my dear co-workers, I’m sorry in advance for I cannot be controlled with caffeine in my system.

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4) I’ve realized recently that I’m so apathetic when it comes to politics. Like, I will inform myself enough to make an intelligent, educated voting decision come November, but all this extra bullshit? Not interested. My politically charged friends get so riled up about [it seems like] everything and I sort of wish that I could block anything on facebook that has to deal with politics from now until election day. Maybe it’s just me, but I seriously don’t care about your opinion on everything from birth control to which flavor of gum is best.

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Why can’t we all just get along?

5) It was a short week and I loved it. On Tuesday I tweeted something about it being Monday. I promptly deleted it 3 hours later when I realized it was not actually Monday. Now, it feels like Thursday, but is actually Friday. Does it get better than that? I guess it does since I’m going back to my alma matar tomorrow for a football game. Bring on the weekend!!

Have you ever fainted? Do you like football? Do you care about politics?

You Sneaky Half-Marathon!

The title of this post is a play on this Jimmy Kimmel video:

Observe the kids at 2:45, sassiest children EVER!

Anyway, I looked at the calendar today and was shocked that there are only two days left in August. September, you snuck up on me! With all my MCM Marathon training, it totally slipped my mind that I signed up for a Labor Day half marathon. Oops!

It’s a good thing they sent me this confirmation e-mail because it definitely had slid under my radar. I haven’t been in much of a running mood this week. I blew off yesterday’s morning run because it was raining, but I made up for it today. I’m hoping that Thursday and Friday’s runs will launch me into race mode. It really is a mindset, huh?

With that said, I have to admit that I’m not all that worried about this race. I’m probably in better shape now than I was for my last half where I PRed. However, I’m not trying to break any records this time around. My goal is to run the whole thing at my marathon race pace (between 8-9 min/miles), we’ll see how that goes. Rock ‘n Roll races are notorious for being super overcrowded, and I can tell you from experience: that’s true. This year will be my third time running this particular race:

2008 – my first half marathon (1:58:17)

2010 - 2:00:12

2012 (I guess I only run this race on even numbered years, weird?)

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Errr…there’s no photo for 2012 yet, so I put up a picture of the first thing that came to mind.

SPEAKING OF *NSYNC, my middle-school BFF (who was equally as obsessed as I was) had a dream come true when she met Joseph A. Fatone last week. Don’t know who that is? You need to brush up on your 90′s boy band trivia, brah. It’s Joey from *NSYNC. Like a true friend, she texted me minute-by-minute live updates.

My inner 13 year old wept tears of elation when I saw this picture of them. Oh, and that CD in her hand? Euro *NSYNC circa 1997. No one is as hardcore as we are. No one.

But in all seriousness, if she meets JT next, I’m demanding that she hold him hostage until I can hop a plane to Seattle. Then we can meet, he can fall in love with me (obvs), divorce that gross Jessica Biel, and we can have copious blue-eye, brown-haired babies.

…WHAT? It could happen.

Have you ever met a celebrity? Who?

‘Cause You Had a Bad Day…

Because you had a bad day, you’re taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around

Does anyone else get that Daniel Powter song stuck in their head when they’re having a bad day? I swear, I actually hear it on constant loop.

 

I didn’t just have a bad day, but rather an entire bad week which rolled with me right into the weekend.

I swear, I couldn’t catch a break! Everything that could possibly go awry, did. No joke. In the span of two days I got into a tiff with a friend, slept through my alarm, was late to work, electrocuted myself with a computer chord, felt sick and had a fever, broke the charging unit on my Kindle, hit massive amounts of traffic at inconvenient times, and busted a headlight in my car. Needless to say, I threw myself a mini-pity party and ended up crying on three separate occasions. Very rare for me, but sometimes it feels good to just let it out.

Today. Today, my friends, feels like a fresh start. New week, new attitude. Positivity is contagious. I’m going to try and focus on things that make me happy.

There’s no problem that this little guy’s face can’t cure:

Kyle had his first outing to my parent’s house last night for dinner. He was so well-behaved. He slept pretty much the entire time I was there, but my mom said that he was super alert and awake earlier in the day. He let everyone hold him and play with him without even fussing. Check him out with his Great Grammy! She said that she could just sit there and watch his face all day. He makes the funniest faces when he sleeps, kind of makes you wonder what he’s dreaming about. A big bottle in the sky?  Reminiscing about the good old days back in my sister’s belly? I don’t know, but I’m curious!

Other things that make me happy? Check out this deal on livingsocial:

You know I had to buy it. I sure do love my school, and I sure do love football! The game is their first of the season and is being played at FedEx Field, which is essentially in my backyard. Sign me up! I actually realized when I went to buy the tickets that I have not missed a season opening game since my graduation year.

2009 at UMD:

We almost won this game, but lost in overtime. :(

2010 at Virginia Tech:

If you are a JMU Football fan, this game will go down as the biggest in history. It was cold, wet, raining, and we had absolutely no chance of beating Virginia Tech. Then, suddenly, by some kind of miracle, the rain stopped and our game started. We came from behind to beat Tech 21-16 in the final few minutes. It was beautiful, magical even. And I didn’t have a voice for a week.

2011 at UNC:

We got crushed. Also, after the lone touchdown we did score, our cheerleaders came out waving school flags and instead of spelling out JMU, they spelled out JUM. Embarrassing. But, visiting UNC and tailgating with my JMU friends was fun!

Can’t wait for this year.

Whoa, tangent. Back on track. Something else I am totally diggin’ right now:

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This book. It was recommended to me by my boss at work, and I know a lot of people have been reading it lately. Holy guacamole! It has captivated my attention and I seriously cannot stop reading. I was up until after 2am the other night because I couldn’t put it down! There are so many plot twists, I feel like the author is playing mind games with me. I’m about 75% done and will likely finish the rest tonight. If you’re into mystery novels, I’d highly recommend this one.

I think that’s all for now. Here’s to hoping that this week is better than the last.

How do you turn around a bad day?

Abusing the Taper

Wanna know how I know I’m not a “real” runner? Because my legs aren’t aching to run 18 miles a day during taper weeks. In fact, my legs are perfectly content laying in bed while my eyes read a book. Perfectly content.

My Marine Corps Marathon training program has me building up miles and tapering back down a few times for the next couple of months. This week was a taper week, so all I had on the schedule were two 5-milers on Tuesday and Thursday. I totally abused the privilege and used this taper week as an “easy” week. In reality, I should have been gearing up for a 20-miler this weekend, but I have absolutely zero intentions of actually completing that. Instead, I used my taper week to goof off. I ditched my 6-miler (because “missing a 6-mile run isn’t going to set me back” <- WRONG!) last weekend and, instead, made up for it in the number of beers I drank. I was too tired lazy to do my 5-miler on Tuesday and instead made up for it on Wednesday.

With all of these factors, I ended up taking 5 whole days off from running and my body hates me for it. My legs felt heavy and were dragging during both of my short 5 mile runs this week. It’s amazing how quickly I lost leg strength and it’s no one’s fault but my own. Instead of totally disregarding my 20-miles this weekend (like I want to), I plan to split it up over two days – running 10 miles on Friday, and 10 on Monday. I’m worried about getting hurt if I try to do 20 all at once without rest because I know my body isn’t strong enough. Remember my plantar fasciitis? It’s back and it’s giving me some pain. I don’t want to overdo it too early and risk injury. But at the same time, I need to get my butt in gear. No more slacking.

In summary, I took too much time off; my legs want to fall off; I’m an idiot.

Glad that’s out of the way. Instead of running, I used this week to catch up on my social life! I got dinner with a friend who I haven’t seen in awhile (and ate a pound of queso), I watched the closing ceremonies of the Olympics, I got to meet the adorable Kyle,

Gratuitous picture for your viewing pleasure

I was finally victorious in my battle against my fingernails,

Check out that paint job. First try, BITCHES!

and the biggest factor taking up 90% of my time this week?

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As fun as Shark Week sounds, when you actually work for Discovery it takes on a whole new meaning. That meaning = logical nightmares, last second schedule changes, fibers to air, you know the drill. Or maybe you don’t. Either way, enjoy your Shark Week because a lot of people worked REALLY hard to make it happen!

What’s your favorite part about SHARK WEEK?

Mine is Chompy, the massive shark that they hang on Discovery HQ.

Sons

Oh my gosh, I have so much to share with you guys. The theme of this post is SONS, because that’s what the last few days have been all about.

Let’s rewind to Saturday when I went to see Mumford and Sons! Marcus, Lindsey, Jim, and I headed down to Bristol, VA/TN for an all day music festival. Bristol is one of the coolest small towns I’ve ever been to. It sits directly on the state line, so half the town is in Virginia and the other half is in Tennessee. The funniest part to me is that smoking is banned in Virginia restaurants, but not in Tennessee, so you’d walk into a bar on one side of the road and there were ashtrays and people smoking, but right across the street that was illegal. So weird!

Mandatory tourist picture, standing in two states at once!

I’m guessing that not too many bands make pitstops in Bristol, because the town went all out. All of the shop windows on State Street were decorated, there were tents set up with BBQ grilling and beer on tap. It was awesome! The festival itself was held in a massive parking lot. There were 2 stages set up with about 10 bands playing, plus lots of food and entertainment. We enjoyed our time eating food, drinking beer, sitting in the perfect 80 degree shade, listening to bands, and trying to blend in with hipsters.

Did we succeed? Hipsters love fedoras, for the record.

The highlight, of course, was Mumford and Sons. They played an amazing set and really got the crowd into it! I didn’t know too many of their songs (other than their hits), but I enjoyed every single one that they played. At the end of their set, they brought all of the bands from the day on stage for a grand finale ditty. Sidebar: does anyone still use the word ditty? If not, we should bring it back in style.

We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day, seriously. What a blast!

Yesterday, “sons” took on a whole new meaning as my sister, Erin, and my brother-in-law Robert welcomed their first-born son into the world. I’m officially an aunt!

Kyle Robert Studer was born at 11:38am on Monday, August 13th weighing in at 6 lbs 4 oz. Mom and baby (and dad too!) were doing great when I went to visit them last night.

Aren’t they a cute little family?

Everything about him is absolutely perfect. He’s the most adorable baby I’ve ever seen, ever. Between my mom, his mom, and me this kid is going to be so spoiled. All of our hearts were overflowing yesterday, I think my mom and sister cried tears of joy about 8 times. Even I choked up a bit when I received a picture text from Robert with the details. I feel lucky that I live close enough that I could go visit him on his first day. He is already loved by so many people.

I can’t wait for Kyle to get old enough where I can start corrupting him. Oh, and Erin and Robert, if you ever need a babysitter…you have mom’s number. :D

Is it possible for a heart to explode from being so full of love? Because I love the crap out of this guy already!

What makes you supremely happy?

Nail Tales, Pt. 2

If you are one of my male readers, you may as well just skip to the end of this post now. I can almost guarantee that nothing I say in the next few paragraphs will be of interest to you.

Let me first explain how un-girly I am. I pretty much refused to wear dresses through high school and the color pink was my least favorite color in the world. I was into sports and wearing jean shorts (what? It was the 90′s). It hasn’t been until recently (read: the last 6-7 years) that I’ve really begun to embrace my femininity. With that, there have been some growing pains when it comes to things most girls learn when they are younger, when I had no interest. Think: putting on make-up, doing hair, etc.

My most recent adventure has me delving into the world of manicures. I’ve been doing pedicures for a few years now, but manicures have been lost on me. I’ve always kept my nails super short and unpainted, but recently I’ve started noticing manicures…EVERYWHERE! Even the American Olympians have their nails painted red, white, and blue. And I thought, I bet I could do that too!

You may remember my first abysmal attempt with a manicure pen:

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Errr, FAIL!

Not to be deterred, I tried, tried again. I went out and bought some base coat, quick drying nail polish, and a top coat. The result?

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Whoa, not good! The quick drying polish dried too quick, before I even got my whole nail painted. It started clumping and looking uneven. When they say quick dry, they mean it!

I removed the paint and tried again, this time faster:

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Seriously now, WTF! Apparently you aren’t allowed to pick up cotton swabs while your nails are drying. So I removed the polish and tried ONE MORE TIME (switching out the quick dry for regular and waiting for it to dry completely before doing anything):

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Alright, so it’s not terrible, but it’s far from perfect. I missed around the edges, got some cuticles, and it’s still a little clumpy. Here’s my question to all of you people with perfectly manicured nails,

HOW DO YOU DO IT?! Share your tips.

If you’re a dude and you read through all that, here’s a picture of Optimus Prime to redeem your manhood:

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This weekend I’m putting marathon training on hold for a mini-road trip to Bristol, VA/TN. The town is right on the border of the two states and apparently is the birth place of country music. Mumford & Sons is hosting an all day music festival with bands, local food, and BEER! The temperature isn’t supposed to reach above 80 degrees. <- I cannot tell you how happy this makes me. I am pretty darn excited! This will be my first time crossing the state border into Tennessee.

Updates and nerdy touristy photos to follow.  :)

But for real, please answer the nail question. Thanks!

What’s In Your Wallet?

Let’s start this post the way I start out all of my posts.

I ran 16 miles this weekend. It sucked, but not nearly as badly as I thought it would. Marathon. Running. Blah, blah, blah.

It was hot as balls.

It’s always hot. You can go away now summer. Blah, blah, blah.

Post maniac-run chill pool time. Hey, I have a summer tan to maintain here.

Blah, blah, blah.

So, now that all the typical stuff is out of the way, I figured I’d go in a different direction with today’s post.

The other week, I was at lunch and pulled out my wallet. It was observed how much stuff I carry around in there on a daily basis, half of which I don’t even need. I’m pretty sure that if “Carrying Random Crap in Your Wallet” was an Olympic competition, I’d win the gold medal. This sparked a conversation about all the random things we carry around in our wallets. Strangely enough, I think my wallet gives a bit of insight into who I am, so I thought I’d share.

Meet my wallet. It’s Coach, and I got for Christmas a year ago. I love it!

Here is a broad peek inside. I’d describe it as organized clutter, which goes along with my style perfectly. My room may look a little cluttered, but everything has a place and, trust me, I know where everything is.

You will rarely ever find me with any cash. So, for the most part, this side compartment remains empty. I’m just so poor!

In the front card organizer, I have my most used/most important cards: ID, debit card, credit cards, AAA card, and health insurance card.

In the middle pouch, I have random change (mostly pennies since the quarters, dimes, and nickels typically go into paying metered parking, grrr) and some coupons to Smoothie King. I do looove my smoothies! Oh, and $10 off The Melting Pot which I completely forgot I had. Who wants fondue!?

The back card organizer is where things start to get a little random. I have a Blockbuster card (are they even in business anymore?), my Rockville Sports ID (where I don’t play anymore), an empty (I think) rebate card from Acuvue, my CVS Extra Care Card, 1 expired Disney World Park Pass (from my marathon in Jan 2011), and 1 expired Disney World hotel key (from the same trip).

There’s a mini, hidden compartment in the back of my wallet. This is where everything else goes and the randomness continues. There’s a VCU basketball ticket, an old picture of Brook and me, a Richmond Flying Squirrels baseball ticket, a John Mayer ticket stub, a Foo Fighters ticket stub, 2 JMU Football tickets (one for the Virginia Tech game <– best game EVER!!), a few business cards (including my bartender from Babes, my tattoo guy, a cabbie, and Jim…I don’t know why I have his business card), and finally, a Magic the Gathering playing card. WHO KNOWS why I carry this around with me? It’s been on my person since middle school when a friend of mine gave me the card as a joke, and ever since then I’ve always carried it in my wallet. So random.

Anyway, you should see the card holder I keep attached to my key ring. There are football tickets and flyers in there from 2005, I kid you not.

What’s in YOUR wallet?

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