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Dear Clemson,

All during my time as a student, I cheered for your football team. I was either at the game or watching it on TV, and through thick and thin, I was a diehard fan. I bled orange.

When I moved to Pittsburgh, I was pretty distraught that I wouldn’t be able to make it to any games and would only be able to watch a few on TV due to a limited cable plan, but I faithfully followed Game Tracker online when only ESPN-U was covering the games.

Through our six year relationship, dear Clemson, I’ve suffered a number of heartbreaks. They’ve come in the form of missed field goals (from short distances), fumbled hikes, and huge upsets–even losing at home in triple overtime. You sure know how to ruin a tiger’s day.

Yes, you’ve given me some great times…some wonderful victories, and truly, up until this year, those have been enough.

But I’ve moved to Savannah–UGA country–and put my reputation on the line for you. For Saturday’s season opener against Alabama, I wore orange along with 10 other Clemson fans to Wild Wings to watch you, ranked 9th, triumph against a team ranked 24th. I had so much excitement and so much faith.

Then you managed to let Alabama stomp all over you, and ultimately, me. Losing 34-10 in an upset on ESPN’s gametime show is no way to kick off a season.

You broke my heart, Clemson.

I want our relationship to work out, but unless you win against the Citadel, NC State, and SC State, I’m not sure that it will.

I want to have faith in your abilities. Help me believe!

Sincerely,

A dejected, but hopeful fan

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So it’s been 20 days since my last post. In the past few weeks, David and I have kept plenty busy:

1. 1, 2, 3, 4…1, 2, 3, 4…C L E M S O N T I G E RRRR S! – with football season right around the corner, the alumni group in our area is starting to have some functions, and we’re planning to go to as many as possible. Clemson fans around Savannah are few and far between–I’d say the ratio is about 15:1 in Georgia/Georgia Tech fans to Clemson fans. Too much black and red and black and gold. Yuck! We’re planning to represent in our purple and orange soon enough.

2. Hotel Mertens – just shy of nine months away from getting married, Jo and Craig came down after visiting family in Hilton Head. It was great to play host, and we look forward to doing it again. If you’re going to be in the Savannah area, just give me or David a call; we’d love to set you up with free lodging!

3. Faitha little over a month ago, I started a Beth Moore Bible study called Believing God with a group of gals on the islands. It’s been pretty incredible so far, and through the study, I’ve decided to start attending BSF in September. “BSF” stands for “Bible Study Fellowship.” It’s an international, non-denominational Bible study that meets weekly from September to May of each year. In the course of seven years, you make it all the way through the Bible, analyzing scripture line-by-line. It’s not for everyone, I’ve been told, but it sounds like it’ll work really well for me. Can’t wait!

4. Run, Mertens! Run! – David and I are about three weeks into our half marathon/marathon (respectively) training, and it’s going so-so right now. It’s still so hot in Savannah that we either have to run on the treadmills at the gym or run at 4:00am before there’s even a glint of sunlight (and yes, we now have a headlamp so that I don’t fall down…again). The heat is showing signs of breaking, though, as this whole week our highs are in the mid to upper 80s with the heat index in the 90s. In previous weeks, that index has been in triple digits. So glad that fall is on its way!

5. I only burn what in a day!? – In the past six years since I started working out with rowing and ultimately running, I’ve never really gotten a handle on what I should be eating to fuel the amount of activity I do on a daily basis. I opted to go to a nutritionist, but before my appointment, I had to get my resting metabolic rate (RMR) taken. Essentially, the RMR is the amount of calories you burn when you are completely at rest. I was in a reclined comfy chair for 15 minutes while the test was going on–definitely relaxed and at rest. Based on my height, weight and age, the doctor administrating the test estimated that I burn around 1400 calories at rest. Wrong! I only burn around 850. I couldn’t get to the nutritionist fast enough after that to figure out how many calories I could eat in a day and not gain weight over time–around 1300-1400. So much for that “based on a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet” note on every packaged product’s nutrition label. It’s been an interesting adjustment so far, but it’s going well. Getting my RMR checked really opened my eyes to what I’m up against. If you have struggled with weight gain or knowing what you should be eating, definitely pursue a nutritionist and get your RMR tested.

6. Pedaling like crazy but going nowhere – this time around in marathon training, I’m taking a slightly different approach by cross training more frequently–specifically biking. Problem is, I don’t own a bike. I’ve been using the YMCA’s “spinning” bikes one or two times per week, and it’s been pretty awesome. The spinning room is dark except for black lights on the ceiling, so if I wear all black, I’m pretty much invisible–besides my teeth if I smile and my shoes. I’m hoping that training on a spinning bike with pretty heavy resistance will prepare me for riding on a real bike later on down the road.

7. Clouds and wind are evil – Well, only when the presence of both makes you decide to not wear sunscreen while walking on the beach. Saturday was an overcast day–the first day of no rain since the beginning of Fay–so David and I opted to go out to Tybee Island beach and walk for a bit. We packed a picnic lunch, but opted to walk on the beach for a few minutes first. Well, a few minutes turned into an hour or two. It was in the mid-80s out with extremely strong winds (considering there wasn’t a storm nearby) of around 30mph, so it felt fantastic, and neither of us realized how badly we were getting burned…until about four hours later. We’re recovering and will never underestimate the sun again. Whew!

8. Working hard for the money – I love the Gap. I think that deserves some repetition action: I really love the Gap. My job there as brand logistics expert is fun, a little challenging, rewarding and exciting. Plus! I get a fantastic discount on the clothes, get to work in the middle of downtown Savannah (gorgeous), and get to be a part of a wonderful leadership team. And I get paid to do it. So awesome! I’m still working for Clemson too and have the most flexible boss around. It’s so nice to be able to work right out of the home office. So both jobs have been keeping me busy. David’s working pretty long days right now, but starting in the middle of October, he shifts to 21 days of 12-hour shifts each day with no weekend breaks. Just three straight weeks of work. I still can’t picture what that will be like…intense I’m sure.

9. Livin’ on a prayer – so much is going on in our lives, our family’s lives and the lives of our friends that we’re constantly praying. Some are getting married, some are moving, some are expecting a first child really soon, some are changing jobs, some are struggling in various areas, some are triumphing in areas and on it goes. We love our friends and family dearly and wish we could see them all more often. Know that we keep you in our thoughts and our prayers, truly.

So yes, that’s kind of what’s been going on around here in the past 20 days. We’re looking forward to the holiday weekend as we’ve both got Monday off of work. I doubt we’ll go to the beach, but I’m pretty sure we’ll be exploring Savannah. What a great place to live!

Lou’s a pal of mine from the post office. With most all of my Mary Kay customers in South Carolina, I’m constantly shipping product down south, and Lou is normally the one helping me out. He’s a Jayhawk fan. You know, the Kansas Jayhawks.

At the beginning of March Madness, I talked pretty tough in the post office about how Clemson’s time had come–how they would be going all the way to the final four, etc. Most importantly, I debated with Lou as to whether or not Clemson would beat Kansas in the second round. “Of course!” I exclaimed.

Well, that was assuming Clemson would get past the first round. Nope.

So after Clemson was out, I joined Lou’s side and cheered for the Jayhawks all the way until the end of last night’s game–an overtime victory thanks to Memphis’s inability to shoot free throws. Side note: free throws should be about the easiest thing to do in basketball. When I played for a couple of years, we practiced those shots all the time. Too bad for Memphis that they didn’t.

Anyhow, I hope ‘ole Lou stayed up past his bedtime to watch Kansas prevail last night. It was a wonderful game!

Maybe Clemson will get ’em next year…

Ah, C+C Music Factory. Remember this lovely jam? I thought it was time for a workout entry.

I love the gym. Honestly. Love it.

Did I always? Heck no! I didn’t workout consistently until I walked onto Clemson’s NCAA women’s rowing team during my freshman year of undergrad. As long as someone was yelling at me, I kept pushing. Then I chose to focus more on school than rowing and left the team. Walking off the team meant walking away from exercise too, at least in my mind. So I kept eating as though I were still on the team, and that caused some not-so-pleasant weight gain.

I had just started dating David and decided that it would really make sense to do some regular exercise-after all, I was 18 and wanting to impress my boyfriend. Haha. I paired up with Katie, another gal who walked off of the rowing team; we went on runs together several times a week, and my passion for running was born.

Well, that’s a little misleading. I hated running at first. It was hard to breathe, and I felt like my legs were going to quit on me. But I wanted to spend time with Katie, and with our crazy academic and social schedules, the only real time we had was during our super early morning runs. So, as time went on, the running got easier, and I felt better and better afterward. I read somewhere and agree that the reason I work out is for how good it feels when I stop. And of course the health benefits, etc…but it does feel great to stop after working hard.

So, fast forward five years. Beginning of 2008. I’ve run two half marathons and quite a few 10Ks and 5Ks. Five years ago, I never would have guessed that I could ever complete anything like that. I was just excited to run the road around campus-three miles-without stopping. This upcoming year? David and I are planning on at least one half marathon and one full marathon. We cannot wait!

In the meantime, we’ll be at the gym working out with our personal trainer, Mike. He’s hardcore as far as weight-lifting goes, but he’s also a runner, so it works out. If you’re trying to get going on a workout plan and have trouble staying motivated, get a personal trainer. Our gym provides them for free, but for the training we’re getting, it’d definitely be worth the money, if they started charging.

Our bodies are changing, and it’s exciting. Where I used to be able to do not even one real push up, I can now do sets of 15. I used to only use 8-10lb dumbbell for chest presses. Now I’m up to 25lbs. Etc, etc…It’s exciting to see improvement like that in a short amount of time (started at the gym in late October 2007).

And take my word for it, once you start getting into a regular workout routine that really pushes you, you think twice before eating unhealthy food. You certainly won’t want to undo what you just did at the gym. It’s a great kind of self-accountability.

So, what are you doing in this new year to get your health on track? Just like my fortune cookie said, “Don’t give up. The beginning is always the hardest.” Good luck! You can do it!

Well, ladies and gents, David and I ran in the Chamber Classic Half Marathon yesterday and finished. Just being able to type that makes me happy–especially the and finished part. As most of you know, me knee has given me quite a bit of grief since my NCAA women’s rowing days at Clemson, and training for this half marathon ultimately sent me to a sports medicine doctor less than two weeks before the race. Not enough time to heal, for sure.

Anyhow, for over the first half of the race, we maintained a nine-minute-mile pace or faster, but at about mile eight, something happened. Perhaps I took a poor step or lost focus on my stride or something. My knee began to hurt, thus affecting my form and ultimately causing a severe side stitch, etc etc.

With David encouraging me the whole way, I pushed through the last five miles with him and finished in once piece. Praise God!

Despite the pain, I still want to run another half marathon soon and a full marathon in 2008. So, one post-wedding-day half marathon down and searching for our second.

David’s parents and brother were there the whole way to cheer us on. It was so nice to see familiar faces along the race route, but especially at the end. David’s mom even ran beside us for the last quarter mile pushing us to the finish. Thanks Karon!

We had a terrific time with Karon, Leo and Kevin showing them around downtown Pittsburgh, showing off our wedding album and flaunting our budding culinary skills. How fun!

At the end of our time with the Mertens last night, we ate birthday cake (for Leo) and watched the first part of the Clemson game. Depressing. If you didn’t watch, here’s all you need to know: Virginia Tech had a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown after an 82-yard punt-return touchdown after they intercepted a pass and ran it in for a touchdown. All in the first quarter. Add in a couple of field goals and a lot of poor throws by poor Cullen Harper, and you get another sad, sad loss for Clemson.

I refuse to be a fair-weather fan, though, so I continue to have faith that Clemson will pick itself up and rock it out in the next game. Go tigers!

For today, lots of stretching, relaxing and decorating the apartment for fall…even though it’s nearly 90F outside. Go figure.

So, how did you spend your weekend?

Once upon a time, I thought that any state north of the Mason Dixon line had cool temperatures year-round. Now that I live in a state quite north of that line, I know my childhood thoughts were but myth. With a high of 80F today, it hardly feels like fall–despite the leaves changing.

That said, I’m thrilled that for our half marathon race this Saturday, it’ll be in the 60s! Wish us luck as we aim to finish in under two hours. David’s parents and brother are coming over for all the festivities, so it should prove to be an awesome weekend!

Seems like last weekend was a bad few days for sports. The Pirates lost, but we had a fantastic time at the game. Clemson lost, and I have nothing more to say about that dreadful attempt of a “game.” The Steelers lost, but we didn’t watch; we’re still nothing more than “we live in the area” fans. Several other top-15 NCAA football teams lost to unranked teams. What’s in the water, boys?

Even more depressing? South Carolina is now #11. It will be short-lived, I’m sure.