December 31, 2014

Top 14 of 2014

Just a few hours left of 2014. As much as I hate to say this, I'm glad it's over. This was a really difficult year for me, in many aspects of my life, and I didn't handle it so well: Sarah died, Mark died, I had to have Paolo euthanized, I battled bad depression and anxiety, I gained 20 pounds, and my running pace slowed back to what it was in 2010. BUT, today, I am putting all of that past me, and focusing on the good things that happened in 2014. And there were a lot of good things! 

At first, I thought, "How am I going to come up with 14 "top" things for 2014? I don't think I could come up with even 5..." But once I started going through pictures of the year, I realized that I had been so focused on the bad things that I hadn't truly appreciated the good things. Before I knew it, I had over 20 things on my list! I spent some time narrowing it down to the top 14.

1. Spending the last five months of Mark's life trying to make him as happy as possible. I was devastated that Mark wouldn't live long, and I did everything in my power to try to make him happy during the last few months of his life. The very best moment was when he got to go home to his group home and throw a party for the residents--complete with pizza and cake--which was his last wish. I don't think I've ever seen anyone so determined as Mark was to make it home before he passed away. 

2. I was in RUNNER'S WORLD MAGAZINE. Need I say more? It's mind-blowing to me that in 2009, I was 253 pounds, miserably unhappy, and couldn't even bend over and tie my own shoes without holding my breath. Then in 2014, I was featured in Runner's World magazine?! Ever since I started running, RW has been my favorite magazine, and I couldn't even believe it when I was asked to be a part of it. That led to some other great opportunities as well. As cliche as it sounds, sometimes I feel like I'm dreaming!

3. Pacing my friend Audrey for her first half-marathon. She was nervous about it, and it was so fun to be there to see her accomplish such a big goal! 

4. Vacation in Punta Cana with Jerry, the kids, and my sister. When my sister asked if she could tag along on our family vacation, I was excited that she wanted to. She planned everything out for us, which took a ton of stress off, and having her there to help out with the kids so Jerry and I could have time to ourselves was awesome, too. The five of us had a blast sipping drinks by the pool all day for an entire week ;) AND, I wore a bikini for the first time in my life!

5. Crossing the finish line of my sister's first marathon with her. Just like I never imagined I'd be a runner one day, Jeanie certainly never imagined she'd run 26.2 miles someday, either. She trained really hard for it, and I loved seeing her progress. It was an honor to run the last leg of the marathon with her (I was on a relay team). And I can't even describe how proud I was to see her finish!

6. Getting much closer with my younger brother, Nathan, this year. I've mentioned before about his PTSD, and how I've always worried about him; but this year, he started taking charge of his health and fitness, which gave us something in common. We started running together about once a week in the spring/summer, and I loved spending that time with him! It's been amazing to see the difference that running has had in his life. 

7. Walking around Boston with my friend, Caitlin. I'm grateful to have met Caitlin through my blog, and when I was going to be in Boston for a Runner's World event, it was awesome to be able to spend some time with her! She picked me up from the airport, and we went downtown to walk around. Even though it was raining, it was a lot of fun!

8. Meeting "the mayor of running", Bart Yasso! Despite the fact that I was totally nervous, Bart was SO kind and chatted with me like we were old friends. He signed "my" issue of Runner's World, and I listened to his presentation "My Life on the Run", which was fascinating. If you ever see Bart at a race, make sure you say hello to him!

9. Taking an impromptu road trip with Jerry to Lake Cadillac, Michigan, and run a 10K. Not only did we run it, but we each won first place in our age groups! (Granted, we were the only ones in our age groups...)  The trip was a blast, and we went wine tasting afterward in Traverse City. It was really fun to do something so spontaneous with just the two of us. 

10. Running my kids' (and mom's) first 5K with them! I was so proud of all of them for completing it, and the kids finally got to see what the big deal was when I do my races :)

11. Meeting up with my "Sole Mates" for the Ragnar SoCal in April! These are all people I met through my blog, and we spent quite a bit of time chatting on Facebook before the big event. I wasn't sure how we'd all get along in person, but it was even better than I imagined! I made some life-long friends from this adventure, and I couldn't have asked for more!

12. Being invited to the Runner's World Half (and Heartbreak Hill Half). When I first started blogging, I never dreamed it would open up such opportunities; but this year, Runner's World magazine invited me to their race events as a guest--how many people get to say that?! I am so humbled and honored to have been a part of it. I learned some amazing things and met some fantastic people. 

13. Getting to cheer on my little brother, Nathan, as he ran his first full marathon! "Team Nathan" ran around Detroit to cheer him on at several different points along the route. We were all so very proud of him! Afterward, we all met up at a local pizza place to celebrate.

14. Going to Brian and Becky's wedding in Minnesota (Brian is my older brother). The timing was rough for my family, and we almost weren't able to go (it was the weekend after Punta Cana, and just a few days after my kids started school). I'm so glad that we went, though! It was a very intimate ceremony (the picture below shows everyone in attendance at the ceremony--just immediate family). And the reception, at Becky's parents' house, was so much fun! 

Some fun facts for 2014: 
  • I ran 1,151.86 miles (down from 1,558.5 miles in 2013)--a total of 188 hours, 31 minutes, and 52 seconds. If I was to run 24 hours a day straight through, it would take nearly EIGHT DAYS. 
  • My longest run was 14 miles.
  • The month that I had the highest mileage was March, with 138.3 miles.
  • My average pace for the whole year was 9:51/mi (up from 9:06/mi in 2013).
  • I burned 108,690 calories from running... that's equivalent to over 31 pounds of fat (or 1,358 chocolate chip cookies)!
  • I completed 20 races: nine 5K's, four 10K's, one 8K, four half-marathons, one Ragnar, and one marathon relay. 
  • My most memorable meal was a piece of carrot cake in Boston. I can't describe it, so here is a photo (OMG!): 

  • My current favorite breakfast is sourdough toast with coconut oil, and a piece of fruit.
  • My current favorite lunch is tuna salad on Dill Triscuits and fruit.
  • My current favorite evening snack is a glass of wine and a Weight Watchers peanut butter brownie.
  • The thing I am most looking forward to in 2015? Visiting Portland in March! (Closely followed by going to Indy for the 500 Festival Mini Marathon in May).
Bring on the new year! :)

December 30, 2014

Pyramid hill workout

I had hills on the running schedule today. Surprisingly, I don't hate doing them. I generally run them at a slower pace than normal (because going uphill is hard, and it gets my heart rate higher than if I was running at a fast pace on flat road), and I think that's why I don't mind them so much.

Since we don't have hills here, I have to do them on the treadmill. And because I'm training for the Shamrock 15K in Portland, hill training is pretty important. Thomas likes to remind me of this every day of my life. This morning, for example:

This is for all of 2014--I had 9,243 feet of elevation gain, and he had a ridiculous 70,495 feet! 

I set up a hill run on Garmin Connect (the workout that I did last time), but for the life of me, I couldn't get it to show up on my Garmin. It was driving me crazy, so instead of doing that workout, I just decided on an impromptu "pyramid"-type workout. For that, I would run a steady pace (today I decided on 6.0 mph), and then increase the incline every minute by 1%. Go all the way up to 12% incline, then reduce the incline by 1% each minute until I was back at 0%. (No rest between--just a steady pace the whole time). That would take 25 minutes, and I knew it would be crazy-hard, but mentally, a pyramid workout is nice--you think once you get to the "top", then it'll just be smooth sailing to the end.

It totally didn't go as planned ;) First of all, I should have chosen 5.5 mph, but I was cocky and thought I could handle 6.0 with a ridiculous amount of incline. The first few minutes weren't bad at all--0%, 1%, 2%, and 3%. When I hit 4%, it started to get a little tougher. At 5%, I thought, "Hmm, maybe I should just go to 10% and then back down, and skip 11-12%..." At 6%, I thought, "Eek! Maybe I should just do the even numbers..."

At 7%, my lungs were burning. This was only 8 minutes in! I knew there was no way I could go up and back down the "pyramid". I decided to try to make it to 12%, and then call it quits. At 8%, it was all I could do to make it through. At 9%, I knew I was toast. It was all I could do to finish out that minute! I called it quits before increasing to 10%.

All-in-all, I climbed a total of 238 feet over 1 mile. That's tough! But I'm going to have to get used to it before March. My first goal is to make it all the way to 12% at 6.0. Then I'll try and work my way down the pyramid. Again, even though it was hard, I kind of liked it! Tomorrow is a rest day, so that was my last run of 2014.

I got good news today from Angela, the producer of the From Fat to Finish Line documentary! That's the documentary I took part in during 2012-2013 (which seems like a million years ago now) about my Ragnar Relay team, From Fat to Finish Line (that was our team name as well as the name of the film). I haven't had much (if any) news to share, but the producers and film crew have been working like crazy on it.

Anyway, Angela let my team watch the beginning of the film today (just the first 9 minutes or so) and I am SO excited for the rest! She said they have a deadline of January 6th for a rough copy in order to submit it to the Tribeca Film Festival. It's really coming along now. Angela couldn't give me a date of when it'll be available to watch, but of course I'll share that as soon as I know anything! You can watch the trailer here, if you haven't seen it. 

If you missed yesterday's post, make sure you check it out--sign-ups for the annual Runs for Cookies Virtual 5K! :)

December 29, 2014

2015 Runs for Cookies Virtual 5K sign-up

Sadly, there were NO Motivational Monday submissions this week! :( So there won't be a MM post today. Hopefully I'll get some for next week.

I mentioned last week that I'm collecting submissions for the 100th Motivational Monday post--I thought it would be fun to share stories of people who have lost 100+ pounds! So, if you've lost over 100 pounds and want to share your before/after photos, feel free to email them to me (along with a short description of who you are, how you did it, or whatever you'd like to share). Here is the MM submission info. If you are submitting for the 100th post, then just use the subject "100" please.

This year has gone by SO fast. I meant to get this posted several weeks ago, but it feels like I blinked and it's already Christmas! Sorry for the late notice...

In January 2013, for my 31st birthday, I thought it would be fun to host a Virtual 5K--3.1 miles for 31 years old. It was a huge success, and I can't even describe how much fun it was to read through all of the Facebook comments, blog comments, tweets, and Instagram posts! There were so many inspiring stories, and I loved seeing the pictures from people all over the world (literally) who ran "with" me on my birthday. Because it was so successful, I chose to do it again in 2014--and again, there was an awesome turnout!

I've been debating whether to do it again in 2015. I feel guilty for not having announced it several weeks ago, so everyone could have plenty of time to train. But I think I'd be sad to not do it again--I love reading through all the stories after everyone does the virtual race!

Therefore, in keeping with tradition, I'd like to announce the 2015 Runs for Cookies Virtual 5K. The "race" will take place on my 33rd birthday--Sunday, January 25th, 2015. I hope you all will join me for a run or walk on my birthday :)

Last year, several people asked me about giving out medals this time. I think medals are fun; but after giving it some thought, I decided I'd like to keep it simple, just as the last two years. This way, there is no cost to anyone, and it's something everyone can participate in. I'll still have a downloadable bib and t-shirt transfer, for anyone who wants one. I really just want the race to be all about having fun, sharing our stories (whether it's your first time doing a 5K or if you do them every weekend!), and congratulating each other on a job well done.

Basically, here is how it works:
  • Sign up on the form below.
  • Train to run or walk the 5K distance.
  • On January 25th, run or walk 3.1 miles (indoors, outdoors, treadmill, whatever you want!). If you can't do the exact day, any time that weekend will be fine.
  • Fill out the finisher's form that will be posted on my blog that day.
  • Post a photo on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter with the hashtag #RfCVirtual5K (Most people posted a photo and description on my Facebook page, and that made it really easy to scroll through and read!)
I've had (self-funded) prizes each year, and I will this year as well. I have a few ideas in mind, but before I post them, I just want to be sure--so I will announce those later. But for now, I just wanted to make sure I get this sign-up posted so that you can train! Again, I'm sorry for the short notice, but I hope you'll all join me :)

The purpose of the sign-up form is to state your commitment and your goal (if you have one--I know that when I state my goals in public, like on my blog, I am much more likely to follow through). I thought a fun way to give away prizes this year would be based on whether you reach your goal. You can choose your goal for the race to be whatever you'd like (even if the goal is just to complete it!). Then, if you meet your goal, regardless of what it is, I'll enter you in the drawing for a prize.

So there you have it! (I can't believe I'm going to be 33 in less than a month...)

December 28, 2014

A date with my little man

I had this all ready to post yesterday, and forgot to hit "publish", apparently! Oops :)

Last night, Noah was invited to go to his friend's house to spend the night. Since Jerry was working, Eli was stuck at home with his mom on a Saturday night. He always gets jealous of Noah when Noah is invited somewhere, so I decided to have a little "date night" for just the two of us.

I told him we could go out to dinner, and that he could choose where we went--anywhere he wanted to go! He immediately picked Hawaiian Island, which has amazing Chinese food. It's not exactly the best "diet-friendly" place to go (well, I guess it could be, but not when you order sweet and sour chicken!). Eli was really excited to go.

When we sat down, we read the placemat that listed all the different animals that represented people based on what year they were born. I was born in 1982, which makes me a dog; and Eli was born in 2006, which makes him a dog also. Jerry was born in 1980, making him a monkey; and Noah was born in 2004, which also makes him a monkey. I thought that was kind of interesting ;)

Eli got almond chicken, and I got sweet and sour chicken. I was careful not to eat too much, because I hate feeling super full when I leave a restaurant. Eli was stuffed, and you can see he didn't even make a dent in his plate! (Their portions are huge.)

I ordered a carryout so I could drop it off to Jerry at work, and then we headed home. My mom wanted me to stop by and help her highlight her hair, so we went to her house first. I had never done the highlighting before, but it looked simple enough, so we worked on that for a little while. It turned out good! (Whew--I was nervous about that).

I asked Eli what he wanted to do when we got home, and he said he wanted to work on his Lego set that Aunt Jeanie gave him for Christmas. It was a huge set of about 900 pieces, and he had a couple of big chunks left of it. We got to work and about 45 minutes later, it was finished.

It some sort of Star Wars thing. I'm not a Star Wars fan, so I have no idea! I just love putting Legos together. It ended up being a fun night hanging out with just Eli. It's not very often that I get one of the kids alone.

I haven't been sleeping much at ALL the past week or two. I went to bed at a decent time (10:30 ish), but I was wide awake at 1:30, and even was texting a friend because I couldn't sleep. The only thing I can think of is that maybe it's because I haven't been running much the past couple of weeks?

I had plans to do a long run today (not long-long, but about seven miles) to test out my foot and see how it felt. When I ran the Santa Hustle Half, the problem started at around mile 6.5, so I hoped that I'd feel good through mile 7.

I had finally fallen asleep at around 2:30 and slept in late, until 8:00! (I usually get up between 5 and 6). As soon as I woke up, I got dressed to go for a run. Again, it was pretty warm outside (considering it's almost January). I just wore running tights and a long-sleeved shirt--no gloves or hat needed.

I chose to do an out-and-back route that was really familiar to me, so hopefully my foot wouldn't have any surprises in terrain. While I didn't want to put any pressure on myself to hit a certain pace, I was secretly hoping to be able to do a 9:30-9:39 pace. I'm thinking about trying a new running plan for the Indy Mini, and the long run paces are pretty specific...

When I was at the Runner's World Half in Bethlehem, Matt Frazier (No Meat Athlete) and I rode back to the airport together, and we chatted for a bit about running. He said that he followed the "Run Less Run Faster" plan, with a big modification, and he qualified for Boston with it. That plan has you do just three runs per week, and I've said several times I'm not a fan of those plans (I've known a few people, including myself, to get injured from them). He said that he followed the plan as written, except that instead of the cross-training, he did easy (very easy) runs. When I got home, I bought the book to read, and I liked Matt's idea, so I wrote up a plan and I'm thinking of trying it.

The plan has the long runs at goal pace +20 or +30 seconds (meaning if my goal pace is 9:00/mi, then I would run my long runs at 9:20 or 9:30 per mile (depending on the day--it varies on the schedule). To run a sub-2:00 half, my pace would have to be 9:09 (although I'd like to say 9:00, just for a little cushion). So today, I figured I'd aim for 9:29-9:39, and just see how I felt. If it felt way too difficult, I'd nix the whole idea.

The first mile was tough. At about 0.9 miles in, I saw my pace was 9:59, so I almost decided just to forget about it. But then I thought I should at least get the first mile down to 9:39, and then decide after that what to do. So I picked up the pace a bit, and managed to hit 9:39 on the nose. That pace actually seemed to get easier the farther I ran, too. I never felt like I had to slow down or quit, so I think that pace will actually work out.

I almost managed to get negative splits, too--I don't know what the deal was with mile 6, but if I had known, I'd have picked up the pace to make it a negative split ;)

My foot felt great! I had a tiny bit of residual pain in my calf, but that only showed up when I was running on a slanted shoulder. I'm going to take it easy on building up the mileage--increasing just a mile per week on my long runs.

It was probably due to the weather, but today was a really great run! I felt good the whole time, and my foot held up. I keep forgetting that it's December. It's so weird that on January 7 (Eli's birthday) the temp was 30 below 0! We've been going outside with no coats all week, and it feels awesome. I would love it if the whole winter is this mild!

Don't forget, tomorrow is Motivational Monday! If you have a submission, you can check out the details here.

December 26, 2014

Christmas mouse

I hope everyone had a great Christmas! We had a nice, relaxing day at home. On Christmas Eve, we went to my aunt's house for dinner. I did well with counting my Points there, and even skipped dessert (a pecan pie cheesecake that my mom made). When I got home, I went through a ton of my childhood photos, and took pictures of the pictures so that I'd have them digitally (I didn't want to take the time to scan nearly a thousand photos, so the picture-of-a-picture was just fine!).

Jerry was off work on Christmas Eve and Christmas, which never happens, so it was nice having him home. I got up at around 6:00 on Christmas morning, and the kids were still sleeping. I fully expected them to wake us up by 5:00 ;)

I went into the kitchen to make some tea, and all three cats were crowded around the kids' backpacks, which were leaning against the wall. Jerry, who had been up since 5:00, said that the cats had been there the whole time. I thought that was weird, so I picked up the backpacks, and immediately saw a tiny little rodent run behind the trash can in the kitchen. The cats went nuts, and I shoo'ed them away while watching the trash can like a hawk. I freaked for a minute, wondering if maybe the gerbils got out; Jerry checked the gerbil cage, and they were fine, so I knew it was a mouse.

I didn't want to kill the mouse, so we very carefully set up a barrier around the garbage can, and then I lifted the can out. The poor mouse was crouched in the corner. I set a small bucket over him, and then we slid a magazine underneath to trap him inside. Jerry took him out to the woods to let him go :)

Poor little thing was probably scared to death, with the cats all torturing him. Three cats, and we still manage to have a mouse in the house? They're useless! ;)

Noah woke up at around 7:30, so we just decided to wake up Eli. The kids opened their gifts. Their "big" gift this year was an iPad Mini--of course they were super excited about that. They had asked for a Kindle so they could read books on it, but the iPad Mini wasn't all that much more expensive, so I got that instead.

Jerry and the kids got me a new electric throw blanket, which I'm thrilled with! My old one wasn't getting very warm, even on the high setting. The new one is pretty hot, even on the lowest setting. Not that I've used it much, because the cats have been hogging it!

Phoebe and Estelle hate each other, and you never see them this close together unless they're fighting; but they set aside their differences so they could enjoy the warmth of the blanket ;)

The gift we got Jerry was a Star Wars hoodie. He loves Star Wars, and he's been wanting this hoodie for a while:

After a lazy morning, I asked Noah if he'd want to go for a run with me. His Uncle Nathan (my brother) bought him a Garmin 10 for Christmas, so I thought he'd want to try it out. It was super nice outside--warm for Christmas! We ran around our neighborhood, which is a mile, and he did great. He hasn't been running much, so I was really impressed that he could actually go the whole mile, let alone a sub-10!

After I dropped him off at home, I headed out for two more miles on my own.

After a shower and putting my pajamas back on (yay, Christmas!) Jerry and I played The Game of Life with the kids (one of their Christmas gifts). I hadn't played that game in a long time! The new version is quite a bit different than the older version I was used to.

Jerry and I spent the rest of the afternoon watching Breaking Bad. We finished the series. It's funny, I had watched the entire series already, but I had forgotten everything that happened, so it was like watching it for the first time again.

It was a good couple of days with the family. The weather was amazing today--45 degrees and sunny. I am hoping for a mild winter. Last year was all the snowy/icy weather I could take! I've been thinking about my goals for 2015, and I'm super excited about them. I'll write a post about that this week!

December 24, 2014

Old friends!

This morning, I woke up feeling a little hung over, but I have to say--it was totally worth it for the fun I had last night! Once a year, at Christmastime, my childhood friends come over for a get-together. I grew up in a neighborhood that had a lot of kids my age (mostly boys), and we were all very close friends. We used to play sandlot baseball every morning at 7:45 during the summers when we were kids.

There was my best friend Sarah (now living in Arizona) who lived just a couple of houses down from me; Lance, who lived behind me, and who Sarah and I used to fight over; Spencer, Lance's brother; Joe, Sarah's younger brother, who was always in some sort of trouble; Mike and Brian, who lived next door to me (Brian now lives in L.A.); Chris and Matt, who lived a block over; and of course, my brother, Nathan.

Joe is sort of a "drifter", and since Sarah and Brian live out-of-state, it's rare that we all get together. Mike and Lance recently bought a bar together, and unfortunately, Mike had to work all day yesterday, so he wasn't able to come. Chris's son had the flu, and his baby-sitter canceled, so he wasn't able to make it yesterday, either. It ended up being Sarah and her husband, Ne; Nathan and his girlfriend, Kendall; Joe; Lance, and his girlfriend, Amanda; Jerry; and me.

Joe, Sarah, Lance, me, and Nathan
I really need to dig up some photos of us when we were little, but here is the oldest one I could find on my computer:

Christmas, 2000

We had dinner (pulled pork sliders, cheesy potatoes, Caesar salad, and buffalo chicken dip), and then did a white elephant gift exchange. We'd never done the gift exchange at our get-togethers before, and it was totally last minute, but it was fun! I wound up with Sarah's gift, which was some suckers with worms and scorpions in them--I knew my boys would love those.

Then we got down to business and played Apples to Apples, followed by Guesstures. My cheeks hurt from laughing so hard--that game never gets old! My friends always hate playing games with Sarah and I on a team, because we can pretty much read each others minds. (I will never forget one time when we were playing a game where Sarah had to describe a word to me, and she said, "Falling off a cliff..." and I shouted out, "MacGuyver!"--and it was correct. Hahaha, everyone thought we had to have cheated, but we just know each other very well ;) Anyway, I never stay up late, but before I knew it, it was 1:30 in the morning when everyone started heading out. I went to bed at 2:00, and then woke up at 7:00.

I'd had several beers last night, and my stomach was feeling kind of icky when I woke up, but I decided to go for a run before heading to Weight Watchers. Jerry got up and went with me. It was kind of crazy--I wore capris and a t-shirt, for a run on Christmas Eve in Michigan!

It was SUPER foggy outside all day. When we ran past the lake, you couldn't even see the water:

Normally, you can see the lake really easily right there, and looking across, you can see the peninsula, but it was so foggy we couldn't see anything. You could tell both of us were pretty tired, because we didn't talk much, but it was nice to get out and run off the beer (well, a little of it, anyway).

We just did three miles, because I had to get home and shower before going to Weight Watchers.

I took a quick shower and then went to my meeting. I wasn't expecting much from my weigh-in, especially after yesterday's eats/drinks, but I managed to lose 0.7 pounds this week. April was at the meeting today, and I was so glad to see that she's still going! She said right before I walked in, she and another member were just asking about what happened to me and where I've been. This coming week should be better as far as being on-plan, because I don't have much going on. Tonight, I'm going to my aunt's house for dinner, but I've planned out my PointsPlus ahead of time.

Tomorrow is going to be VERY low-key, and I'm super excited! The kids will open gifts in the morning, and we aren't going to leave the house at all tomorrow. We'll stay in pajamas all day, maybe watch a movie or two, play some games with the kids, and just have a very relaxing day.

I probably won't write tomorrow, so I hope that you all have a very merry Christmas! Enjoy the day, however you spend it :)

December 22, 2014

Motivational Monday #92

Happy Motivational Monday! This week has been super busy with Christmas stuff going on. Hopefully everyone is having a great holiday week!

I chose to go back to my Weight Watchers meetings on Wednesday, and I'm really glad I did it. It was hard to go and weigh in after so long, knowing that my weight was up quite a bit from early this year. But I'm proud of myself for sucking it up and just doing it. I wish I'd have done it a long time ago, because my leader made me feel so much better!

This week, I've been doing pretty well with counting my points. My PointsPlus are in the negative for the week, but I'm okay with that. I'm still tracking everything, and regardless of how my week ends, I'm going to go to my Weight Watchers meeting on Wednesday morning and weigh in. Tomorrow is the last day that will be really difficult for me (I'm having friends over, and there will be food and drinks).

Today, my dad, my sister, and I went to see Mockingjay. I'd already seen it with Jerry, but my dad and sister hadn't seen it yet. I've gone with my dad to see The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, so of course I wanted to go with him to see Mockingjay. We saw a 9:20 AM show, so it actually wasn't even tempting to get popcorn or anything. I'd just eaten breakfast ;)

Only a couple of stories to share for MM today--but good ones! Enjoy.

Leona (on right in photo) has lost 63 pounds since March! She's been doing 5K's throughout her journey, and at the SeaWorld Reindeer Run, she clocked 36:05--a full 4-minute PR from a month earlier. She was feeling frustrated because her weight had plateaued for about a month, but seeing her 5K time improve so drastically was just the encouragement she needed to keep going.

Cassie ran the Santa Hustle Half this weekend! After becoming single early this year, she searched for healthy ways to be social. She met some women through her running community in Austin, and now they are her "sole sisters". They ran the Santa Hustle together, and had a blast!

As you may have noticed, I'm getting close to the 100th Motivational Monday post. For that post, I thought it would be super fun to share stories of those of you who have lost 100+ pounds. I've gotten lots of emails from readers who have lost huge amounts of weight, and it's always so fun to see the before and after pictures.

If you'd be interested in sharing, please send me an email at MotivationalMonday (at) runsforcookies (dot) com, with the subject "100". Along with your picture(s), please include a short bio--who you are, how you lost the weight, maybe something that you can do now you couldn't before, etc. Whatever you'd like to share! Today is MM #92, so we have 8 weeks to compile the stories. (If you've already been on a MM post for your weight loss, feel free to send it again!)

December 21, 2014

Running again

Thank you so much for the kind comments on yesterday's post. It's nice to feel things turning around in the eleventh hour of 2014.

My foot has been feeling really good, and yesterday, I didn't feel any twinges of pain at all. I know I said I was going to wait until next year to start running again, but I was really in the mood to try it out today. The weather was nice (cold, but no wind), so as soon as the boys left for church with my parents, I headed out for a run. I wasn't sure how far I would run--it just depended on how my foot felt.

I wore my Paradigms, and my feet were feeling good. I had no idea what my pace was going to be, but I just kind of ran however I felt like running. I was hoping for an easy sub-10:00 pace, and kind of surprisingly, I was managing 9:15-9:30 ish. I didn't feel a single twinge of pain as I ran down my street, so I hoped it'd stay that way.

I ended up deciding on a five-mile route that goes around the four neighborhoods on the peninsula. The miles actually went by rather quickly... before I knew it, I only had a mile left to go. I thought it would be a big confidence boost if I ran that last mile at a sub-9:00 pace, so I worked at it. It wasn't easy, but I didn't feel like I was dying, either ;)

After I ran just past my house, and hit the five-mile mark, I stopped my watch. I was really happy with my run! I didn't have any pain at all, and I ran a decent pace the whole way through.

Just because I ran today, I'm not going to jump right back into training; I'm going to take it very easy the rest of the year. If I feel like running, I'll run; but if not, I won't. I don't want to risk overtraining again, so I'm going to take it very easy. But it felt good to get out and run, instead of feeling lethargic and lazy!

When I got home, I went to Sam's Club to buy some stuff for Tuesday. My childhood friends (Sarah, Lance, Joe, and Chris) as well as my brother, Nathan, and their spouses/partners, are coming over for dinner, drinks, and games. I decided on pulled pork sliders, so I bought the ingredients for that, as well as drinks. We get together once a year at Christmastime, usually, and I always have so much fun! My friends are way more extroverted than I am, so they have some interesting stories to share ;)

Tomorrow is Motivational Monday, and I meant to mention that I added a tab at the top of my blog for "Motivational Monday". There, I explained how to submit a Motivational Monday if you'd like to share something. I love reading about your accomplishments! I set up an email address that is specifically for Motivational Monday, to help keep things organized (for me, anyway). So if you have anything to share, please just click there and it'll explain it better.

Tomorrow, I'm celebrating Christmas at my parents' house. Should be fun! :)

December 20, 2014


Last night was so fun! I hadn't been to my wine club meetings all year... mainly because I've been battling with my depression/anxiety SO much this year. I haven't written much about it on my blog, because it's so personal, and even one hurtful comment can really upset me, but I've been in a bad funk ever since Mark died. I'm not blaming Mark's death for causing it; but Mark was the closest person to me that I've ever lost, and I had no idea just how tough it was going to be.

I've been carrying around this guilt about all the things I feel I could have/should have done before he died. I never really wrote about his funeral or the details surrounding his death, and someday, maybe I will; but for now, I've just been dealing with all of the coulda-shoulda-woulda statements floating through my head.

 I sort of turned into a hermit this year, even though I may not have shown it here on my blog. I attended a few blogger events, and went on a few trips--but aside from those, I spent a lot of time alone. I neglected my friends, and I think that was partly because I couldn't understand how everyone could go on as if nothing had happened (in their world, nothing had happened). I didn't realize it before Mark died, but I think everyone probably feels that way when someone close to them dies; they feel the world has crashed down around them, and nobody should be happy.

My friend John called me when Mark died, and he understood very much what I was feeling. He said I was probably wondering how people could be so happy when Mark just died. And that, for example, how people could post such positive status updates on Facebook like nothing had happened, when I'd want to scream, "Mark just died! How can you be happy?!"

Talking with him made me feel a little better; or at least not alone. He said that pretty much everyone has those thoughts when someone close to them dies. Since I had never lost someone very close to me, I never really understood it. But the whole point is, due to my depression and anxiety, I was having a hard time being "normal".

A little over a month ago, I was feeling exceptionally down, and I told my Sole Mates Ragnar team about it. They're my "safe place" when I really need to talk. The next day, Dean asked if I wanted to get together for a run or lunch the following Wednesday. Immediately, I wanted to tell him "no", and come up with some excuse (not because I don't like Dean, but because I'd become used to saying no to everything). But I thought about how awesome it was that he reached out to me. When I told my team about how I was feeling, it wasn't to get sympathy or anything like that; I just really wanted to talk about it. Before I could change my mind, I told Dean yes, that going for a run would be great.

As promised, Dean drove nearly an hour to go for a run with me, and it ended up being really great to run with him. I started to feel like I wanted to get back to my "normal" self. That run with Dean was when I started to feel things change.

I started setting goals again, and making plans with friends. I tried to stop thinking about how my weight is over goal, and started thinking about a new beginning--that I could get back to goal before it got totally out of hand. I went out to dinner with my friend Renee, and I felt a million times better after that. She was one of the friends I'd neglected all year, and the guilt of that was eating me up inside. I apologized for being absent, and when I left the restaurant that evening, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

Yesterday, Renee asked me if I wanted to drive to her house, and then ride with her to Winers; that felt so normal. I'm sure she didn't think twice about it, but to me, it made me feel like things are really okay again. I had NO intentions of turning this post into such a confessional--but going to Winers last night made me feel like things are finally back to normal (or getting there, at least).

I drove over to Renee's, and gave her a birthday present (her birthday was earlier this month) before we left. Our friend Robin rode with us as well. We arrived at Shawna's (she was hosting), where I saw some more friends that I hadn't seen in a long time (probably since the last time I went to Winers--maybe a year ago?). It was really great chatting with everyone!

I'd planned on having just 8 oz. of wine, and no food. It was a little bit tough, because Shawna had some yummy snacks out. She had some mixed berries, so I ate some of those, and tried to pretend I didn't see the chocolate truffles ;) We sat and chatted for a while in front of the fireplace.

We had a white elephant gift exchange, which is always fun. Normally, when I think of "white elephant", I think of really ridiculous, crappy, but funny gifts. But as I learned in the past, the Winers girls always bring "nice" gifts for our white elephant exchange. The girls will find something nice around the house they don't want, and wrap it up. So this year, I played along with that theme--I brought the iFit Active activity monitor. I'd worn it for a few weeks, but I still preferred my Fitbit. Jessica had been talking about getting an activity monitor, so I thought that she'd probably really want the iFit Active.

Jessica, Renee, Stephanie, and I are running buddies, and it's tradition for us to take a picture together; Renee had just gotten an iPhone 6+ (which is huge) so she managed to get a "selfie" picture of all of us.

Renee, Steph, Jessica, and me
The gift I ended up with was pretty fun! A mix of naughty and nice ;)

A cookbook with recipes that use wine, a really nice-smelling candle, a couple of wine bottle gift bags, some cheese labels, a "ball sack" with a couple of golf balls (bahaha! I'm going to use this for a white elephant gift on Tuesday...), and a book called, "203 Ways to Drive a Man Wild in Bed" ;)  I sent Jerry a picture of the book cover, and he said, "Make sure you keep that gift!!" Hahaha.

I was really tempted to eat all kinds of chocolate while I was there, but I managed not to eat anything but some fruit. I really enjoyed spending time with my friends, and I'm so glad that I went!

Like I said, I never meant for this post to be such a confessional. But I am finally feeling like things are getting back to "normal", and I love that. Winers with my friends was so much fun :)

I have a lot going on the next few days, so my blogging may be sporadic. But I sincerely hope that you all have a fantastic holiday! XOXO

December 18, 2014

14 Favorite Photos of 2014

I don't have much to write today, but I was organizing pictures on my computer, and decided to post my favorite 14 photos of 2014. I always do a "Top" post at the end of the year (like "Top 13 of 2013"); but that is more for my favorite events of the year. And I'll post that on New Year's Eve. So here, I'm just showcasing my favorite photos. I like these photos for all sorts of different reasons!

On one of Mark's better days--with a milkshake, of course!
I love that you can see on his face how happy he was.

Basically what we did for seven full days in Punta Cana

I LOVE this pic with my Sole Mates: Paige, Caitlin,
Hilary, Thomas, and me.

Impromptu family photo at my parents' house after Jeanie's first marathon. My dad
was goofing around, and it made for a good candid photo before the "real" pics.

Mid-race selfie with Jerry. We had so much fun that day

Noah's first 5K (Jerry got all of us making that face, haha)

I love this picture of Paolo! This was before his health went downhill.

This was such a strange thing to catch on camera! Here is where I wrote about it

These steel stacks in Bethlehem are AMAZING!

I had no idea just how BIG the head was going to be ;)

I liked this picture... until I realized my helmet was backwards! Hahaha

A rare photo of my entire family together: Me, Dad, Mom, Brian, Jeanie, Nathan
This was taken at Brian's wedding in September

I'd had too much wine to remember this photo being taken, but when I saw it,
I loved it! The orange hat I'm wearing reminds me of what a great time I had
that day with my Sole Mates in San Diego. (That, I DO remember, haha)

Jerry and I had a blast taking pictures underwater with the kids' cameras

I love this picture because I was laughing really hard at the very
end of a race--who does that?! 

This is so funny... just after I scheduled this post to go live at 9:00, I got an email. I saw the subject first, before it registered in my mind who it was from:

I saw "Not Another Best of 2014 List" as the subject, and I was so confused for a second--did my post go live before it was supposed to? How did they know? What? Ohhhh. It's a "Best of 2014" list from Hulu. Hahaha

Anyway, I happen to LOVE lists. So, lame or not, I'm still posting it ;)