May 30, 2016

Sunset run with Jerry

Yesterday morning, I had been hoping to go for a sunrise run, but with Jerry's work schedule, it didn't work out (I don't want to leave the kids home alone). So, I just decided to call it a rest day and I showered and got ready for the day.

Even after my seven-day challenge of doing my hair and make-up every day was completed, I'm still doing it! The only two days I skipped were when I was painting and working on my bedroom--otherwise, I've gotten dressed in decent clothes, done my hair, and my make-up daily. I talked to my therapist about it, and she loved the idea. It's kind of amazing how much better my mood is when I take that extra 20 minutes or so (15 minutes for hair, 5 minutes for make-up) to get ready, even when I don't have plans that day.

Me, now, as I am sitting comfortably on my bed typing this post ;)

Anyway, I really didn't do much at all yesterday, which was nice, because I'd been so busy lately. I spent a long time working on yesterday's blog post about my favorite health apps. I had leftover rice in the fridge from when I made Beans and Rice, so I decided to make fried rice for dinner. I found a recipe for Pineapple Fried Rice on Pinterest, and that sounded intriguing.

It was really simple to throw together! I used coconut oil instead of olive oil (coconut and pineapple go together so well that it was an obvious substitution); I also used a bag of frozen mixed vegetables (peas, corn, carrots, and green beans) instead of the mix of fresh and frozen called for in the recipe. The veggies had been in the freezer for a while, so I wanted to use them before they were freezer burned.

(By the way, several people have mentioned to me that they don't understand how I could go without fresh produce for a month--but like I said in my post about the challenge, there are three exceptions to our "no grocery shopping" challenge: eggs, milk, and fresh produce. Since my goal is to use up what we have first, I don't mind using frozen veggies. But we ARE allowed to buy produce!)

The recipe was SO simple and SO delicious! I will certainly be making it again in the future. My kids were at my parents' house last night, so it was just Jerry and I for dinner (I don't think the kids would have liked the recipe). Jerry loved it, too.

I never would have thought to use ham in fried rice, but it was great. I even ate leftovers for breakfast this morning.

I was really bored yesterday evening, so I suggested taking Joey for a walk. Jerry and I walked Joey, and then we decided to do a sunset run (starting before sunset, which was at 9:00, and finishing after sunset). We brought Joey back to the house, and headed out a little after 8:00 for a five-miler. It was still 81 degrees, even that late! We'd just had a thunderstorm a few hours earlier, so it was really humid as well.

Jerry is training by heart rate, and his easy pace is in the mid-11:00's when keeping his heart rate under 145 bpm, so we ran at the guidance of his heart rate. It felt extra easy for me, which made for a more enjoyable run ;) There is something about going for an easy run together that makes us have some pretty good conversations! When we sit at home, a lot of times, it doesn't feel like we have much to talk about; but as soon as we start running, we get chatty.

As we were approaching our neighborhood at around mile 4.5, Jerry asked if I wanted to race. I laughed and said no way, but then I thought it might be fun. I haven't raced a friend like that since I was a kid! I actually got nervous--my heart rate, which had been in the low 130's the whole run, shot up to 148 as soon as I agreed to the race. Haha!

After we turned onto our neighborhood street, I counted down and then said Go! and we shot off. The street is about a quarter mile long, and we were neck and neck the whole way. I kept expecting to see him blow past me any second. We stopped at the street just before ours, so the whole race was only 0.15 miles. I won by about two steps ;) I was pretty impressed with Jerry for keeping up with me! Our pace for that little segment was about 6:05.

When we got home, we were both drenched in sweat because of the humidity. My heart rate was really low (131 average for the duration of the 5-mile run), but I looked liked I was running in a sauna. We sat on the porch for a while drinking ice water to cool off, then took this "Jerry face" photo:

Interestingly, it was taken at 9:15 or so, after sunset, but it still looks pretty light outside. I need seven more sunrise runs, and eight more sunset runs to earn my badges on Smashrun. After I earn these badges, I may try for one called the "Two by 33 by 10K"--you have to run 10K every other day within a period of 33 days. My runs lately have been short (about 3-5 miles) so it would be a lot of running! But I'll keep the pace easy, and I think it'll be a fun badge to earn.

Hope you all had a nice long weekend!

May 29, 2016

My Favorite Health Apps

People are always asking me what apps I use for this or that when it comes to running, weight loss or maintenance, and habit tracking. I decided to put them all in one place on this post!

These are the apps that I use daily, or almost daily...

(I have an iPhone, so I'm not sure of the availability of these apps on other devices.)

Fat Secret (Free)
This is the app that I use for calorie counting. I used to be a fan of My Fitness Pal, but once they integrated ads in the middle of my food log (causing it to lag as it reloaded after each addition), I decided to look for a new app. I tried Fat Secret, and I LOVE it--I even like it much better than I did My Fitness Pal. I have mine set up so that the only thing I see is calories, which is the only thing that I focus on, and I love how clean looking it is. It has a bar code scanner, a weight log, a recipe builder, and other features that are important to me.

Garmin Connect (Free)
This is one of a few different apps I use to log my runs. My Garmin watch uses Blutooth to upload my runs to Garmin Connect as soon as I finish running. On the app, you can easily view the stats that your watch logs--your pace, distance, splits, heart rate, etc. You can also add "Connections" ("friends") on Garmin Connect, so you can view their activities as well, and leave comments on them. Seeing my friends' runs always motivates me to get out and run myself! You can also keep track of the mileage on your shoes--since I rotate four different pairs of shoes, this feature is really important to me.  (This app is great for anyone with a Garmin Forerunner or activity tracker)

McRun ($4.99)
This is a mobile version of the McMillan Running Calculator. I mainly use this when I write running plans for my family and friends, but it's fun for myself as well. I can plug in a recent race time, and it will tell me what my training paces should be, as well as what I could expect to run a race of a different distance.

Using my current 10K race, it predicts
my times for other race distances.

Using my current 10K race, it gives me
suggestions for my pace on other workouts.

Footpath ($0.99; $4.99 for Elite)
Footpath is an app that allows you to plan running, hiking, or biking routes. You simply use your finger to draw a rough outline of your route, and the app "snaps" the line to the path or roads (you could also disable that feature if you're "off-roading" it). This app is super useful for when I want to run a new route. I also like it when I travel, because I can map out a route where I am. You can also switch to satellite view, so you can see what the surroundings are like. This is the 5K route I like to run at the State Park:

ConnectStats ($1.99)
This app gives me all the info that the Garmin Connect app does, but also includes a LOT more detail. It uploads automatically from Garmin Connect. I like using this app for detailed running data.  If you're a numbers person, or you like looking at graphs, this is perfect for you.

Overview of the runs (I like that it
includes heart rate on the overview)

You can click on each of those graph icons
to see a lot more detail about each particular stat.

Running Pace (Free)
This app is nice for when I'm setting my running goals. For example, I wanted to run 49:22 (or better) for my 10K race in April, so I plugged in the distance and time goal, and it calculated the pace I would need to run. It also calculates your mile (or kilometer) splits--so, in that example, I would know that I should hit mile three in 23:50, mile five in 39:43, etc. A simple, but helpful calculator!

Happy Scale (Free; Deluxe edition $4.99)
I wrote in detail about this app recently, which you can read about here. This is a great app for keeping a weight log!

Momentum (Free; Premium option $4.99)
This is the app that I use to track my binge-free days and some other goals that I set. It's very simple--if you do what you're supposed to, you just tap the box and it's marked as completed. It keeps track of your streak. You can choose how many days per week or month you want to do the task, too.

Period Tracker Lite (Free; Deluxe version $1.99)
I thought I'd throw this period tracker app in here as well. While this has a lot of features, the only one I use is to track the days of my period. It's nice to be able to look ahead and see if I'll be on my period during vacation or something important. You can also track PMS symptoms, ovulation, and other things if you wish to.

At a glance, you can see the countdown
until "dooms day". 

The little pink triangles are period days; and
the gray ones are projected period days.

Relax Melodies (Free; Premium version $9.99)
This is totally random, but I use this app every single night and I love it. Jerry and I have always slept with a fan running in the room, simply because we needed the white noise to fall asleep. When I found this app, I decided to try it, and we have since stopped using a fan. This is just a compilation of dozens of sound effects--you can play just one at a time (wind, for example), or combine several (wind, crickets, and campfire). You can have it stay on all night, or shut off after a specified period of time. This has really helped me to fall asleep at night.

And now, please tell ME--what are some health apps that you love and use on a regular basis?

May 28, 2016

Sunrise run

I completely forgot that Noah had a track meet yesterday, so our evening was kind of rushed. We always eat dinner early (4:00 pm) and Noah's meet was from 3:30-5:30--which kind of throws off our routine. By the time his meet was over, we were STARVING.

Noah's been doing really great with track this year! He'll never be the fastest on the team, because he just doesn't want to commit to the type of training that would take, but he's certainly improved a lot since last year. Yesterday, he did the 70-meter dash and came in second place. I'm not sure where he placed in the long jump, but he is one of the best out of probably 25-30 kids that do it.

He also participated in a 400-meter relay (four kids run 100 meters each, passing a baton, around the track). He was the "anchor" on his team, meaning he was the one to run the final 100-meters of the race. I was super nervous for him, because that's a lot of pressure!

His team was in the lead, and then the baton was passed to him. He kept first place until the last 10 meters or so, when someone pulled in front of him. But he gave it his all, and he did so great!

Judging by the shorts he chose to wear, you would have no idea that his mom is a running coach ;) (He has running shorts, I swear!)

On the way home, I was trying to think of what I could make for dinner that would be super fast. I ended up making homemade macaroni and cheese. It didn't use up many ingredients from the pantry, for the no-grocery-shopping challenge, but all I could think of was eating at that point. (I was too hungry to stop and take a picture.)

Our challenge has been pretty tough for me the past few days because I don't have my daily "treat"--typically, I buy what I'm going to have each day, so that I don't have a stockpile of junk food in the house. Since I'm not buying groceries, I don't have any treats to look forward to each night! I will probably end up making a batch of cookies or something this weekend. I'll just have to be very careful not to eat more than one or two each evening. Yesterday, I ended up eating three single serving bags of Skinny Pop popcorn (300 calories total) but I still just didn't feel satisfied. I need my dessert! (As I typed this, rice pudding popped into my head--maybe I'll make that. I haven't had that in forever!)

This morning, I went out for a sunrise run. There is a badge on Smashrun that you earn for doing 10 runs during sunrise (the run has to start before sunrise and end after sunrise). Sunrise was at 5:59 this morning. I woke up at around 5:40, and decided I didn't want to get up and out the door, so I closed my eyes to go back to sleep. About five minutes later, I was still awake, so I made a split-second decision to go run.

I leapt out of bed, threw on my clothes and Garmin, gulped down a cup of water, and headed out the door. I ended up starting the run at 5:53, so it was just in time. Instead of doing an out-and-back, I decided to run back home on the marsh trail. It's only half a mile of trail, unfortunately, but it sounded good for an early morning run. And I wasn't disappointed!

The trail has gotten very narrow with all the grass and weeds growing in. (You can see it toward the right side of the picture.) It was humid this morning!

When I got home, I saw that I had spiderwebs all over my legs--one of the downsides to running the marsh trail first thing in the morning, I guess. But that was nothing compared to what was waiting for me on the porch!

I've been seeing this spider every night on our door, and I'm always careful to avoid it. This morning, he certainly caught himself a big breakfast in his web. Spiders gross me out.

I now have 3 runs out of the 10 needed for for the Sunriser badge on Smashrun. It's kind of fun to work on earning the different badges! It gives me something to think about that's not related to pace or distance--just the time of day. (There are badges that focus on pace and distance, but there are a ton that aren't.)

I'm not sure if I mentioned this, but I decided not to do the Michigan Ragnar this fall after all. Captaining a team is a TON of work, and I'm just not up for it right now. Maybe I'll do it next year. Several readers asked about joining my team, which is why I wanted to make sure I posted here that I'm no longer planning to do it. If anyone else is forming a team, however, and you need another runner, I may be up for that! I just don't want to do the planning ;)

Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend! Don't forget about the reason behind Memorial Day. Every Memorial Day, I am so thankful that I get to see my younger brother on a regular basis; it breaks my heart that some families of veterans aren't so lucky.

May 27, 2016

The bedroom is done!

So far, so good on our no-grocery-shopping challenge--of course, it's only been two days. I forgot to mention that the challenge also includes dining out, so we can't do that, either. Eli asked yesterday if we could get milkshakes from Sonic (we've only gotten them once or twice before, but they were insanely good, and he remembers that). I told him that if we make it through the whole no-grocery-shopping challenge (through June 30th), we can reward ourselves with a milkshake from Sonic. Big incentive!

Last night, I made Beans & Rice for dinner. I used to make this a lot when I was losing weight in 2009-2010. It's a super filling, hearty meal for very few calories, and it tastes great! We had some corn muffin mix in the pantry, and that actually sounded really good to have with the Beans & Rice, so I made a batch of those as well. As far as putting a dent in our pantry food, this meal used up the muffin mix, two cans of beans, some rice, and a can of tomatoes. From the freezer, the rest of a bag of frozen corn. (I love using up the last of something!)

I cooked extra rice, so I'll probably use it to make vegetable fried rice (or maybe with some shrimp). We LOVE rice, so you'll probably be seeing it a lot this month (well, until we run out...).

Last night, I made a batch of the English muffins I mentioned yesterday. I followed the recipe exactly as written, and they turned out SO good. I had one for breakfast today with butter and homemade strawberry jam.

The kids loved the English muffins as well, so I'll probably be making several batches of these (the batch yielded 7 muffins yesterday, because I used larger rings). 

Yesterday was my fourth day in a row of not going for a run. Monday was a rest day, but Tuesday and Wednesday, I was working on my bedroom all day, so I didn't run. Last night, I have no idea what possessed me to choose to run in 85 degree weather, but at around 5:00 pm I went for a run. It was really hot, but for some reason, it didn't bother me that much! 

I kind of like running in the evenings; during the summer, I may be doing that more often. Smashrun has a badge you can earn for doing 10 runs after sunset (you have to start the run before sunset, and end the run after sunset), so maybe I'll work on earning that badge. Today, sunset is at 8:59 pm--that just seems so late to go run! But it might be kind of fun.

Thanks for all the suggestions about what I should do with my bedroom windows! I really did like the contrast of the dark blinds, so I went a discount store to see what sort of curtains they had. I ended up finding some light green ones and a dark curtain rod. Once I put them up, I absolutely loved it! I tried getting a good picture, but the pictures turn out so dark that it's hard to see. Here is the best I could do:

(Yes, that is a lava lamp--I got it in 7th grade, and I refuse to give it up!)

My duvet is green (actually, the duvet is the first thing I bought, and I started changing the rest of the room to go with the duvet, haha) so the curtains go with the duvet really well. The whole room has such a bright, cozy feeling to it. Before, I never liked spending time in my room, but now I absolutely love it! (Estelle hasn't moved from my bed in three days except to eat and use the litter box).

The whole room ended up costing about $250 to make over--not bad at all!
Primer for furniture- $10
Primer for walls and doors- $16
Paint for furniture and trim- $30
Paint for walls- $30
Duvet- $12
Pillow cases/throw pillow- $8
Ceiling fan- $75
Wall clock- $15
Drawer pulls for dresser/night stands- $55

I got the duvet at the thrift store; the pillow cases, throw pillow, curtains and curtain rods at a discount store; the primer and paint for the furniture and walls, the ceiling fan (which was the most expensive part of the room), and the drawer pulls from Lowe's. I wish I had done it sooner--it's changed my mood for the better. Phoebs loves it, too ;)

May 26, 2016

A June food challenge

In May 2013, Jerry and I realized we were spending way too much money on groceries. Luckily, we have a pretty big pantry, but we were being kind of wasteful with our food, and we only actually used about half the items in the pantry on a regular basis.

At the time, we had a pantry full of food, and decided to see if we could go an entire month without buying any groceries (milk, eggs, and fresh produce were the only things we were "allowed" to buy). It was actually a really fun challenge! We had to get really creative toward the end of the month (by "we", I mean "I", since I was doing the cooking) and made some interesting meals, but we completed the challenge.

(Oooh, I had forgotten about the homemade English muffins I made until I linked to that post above. They were delicious! I think I'll make some of those soon.)

Anyway, we are back in the same predicament--too much food in the pantry, yet we're still grocery shopping. So, we're going to do the challenge again, starting yesterday! I didn't do "one last shopping trip" at the grocery store, stocking up on our favorites, either. What we have is what we'll be using until the end of June.

This morning, I got up pretty early, so I decided to look through the kitchen and start listing some meals I could make right now without buying a single thing. I was surprised at just how many things we could make!

Baked oatmeal
Meatballs with mashed potatoes
Shrimp fried rice
Black bean enchiladas
Beans and rice
Black bean soup
Navy bean and ham soup
Turkey burgers
Parmesan-crusted tilapia
Fish sandwiches
Chipped beef on toast
French onion meatballs
Grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
Tuna noodle casserole
Cheese grits with an egg
Cereal with milk
Roasted tomato and garlic soup with barley
Egg scramble
Breakfast burritos
Fettuccine alfredo
Homemade pizza
Spanish rice with sausage
Lentil chili
Baked ziti
Gnocchi with vodka sauce
French toast

...that was just what I came up with in a matter of about 10 minutes. Last night, I made Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal for dinner, because I had some bananas that I needed to use before they went bad--it was delicious! (I've also tried her Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal, and I loved that one as well)

Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal drizzled with peanut butter
I might make some banana muffins for breakfast, too. When deciding what to make during this type of challenge, I try to make things that include the perishables first, so we don't waste anything. Toward the end of the month, I can use up the frozen and canned things.

My favorite part about doing a challenge like this is making things that are out of our typical meal rotation. There are foods I love that I always forget about making until I don't really have a choice (like grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches).

I wish I could remember the recipe that I used to make bread during the last challenge (I didn't even buy loaves of bread last time--I made bread from scratch every couple of days!). The bread that I made was really good for sandwiches. I'll have to dig around my blog and see if I linked to it somewhere. (ETA: I found a picture of it that I posted, but I didn't link to the recipe... if any of you know of a good white sandwich bread recipe that looks similar to the picture below, please share!)

When I told Jerry about doing this challenge again, he was really excited--until I reminded him of the fact that we didn't even buy alcohol last time ;) We currently have three bottles of wine and a few beers, so we're going to have to save those for special days.

Looking through my blog to find that bread recipe made me realize that I used to post about food pretty frequently! It's kind of fun to browse through and remember the different things I used to eat, or recipes I tried. Like I said, I had forgotten about the English muffins, and they were so good! Kind of a lot of work for an English muffin, but the recipe makes 10, so they last a while.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to our challenge!

May 25, 2016

Week 41 Weigh-in

I had a post about 90% ready to post yesterday, but I literally didn't have a single free minute once the kids left for school. I spent 14 HOURS prepping, priming, and painting my bedroom. I wanted to paint the trim white, and I'd never painted trim before, so I wasn't sure how that would go. Also, our walls were pretty dark (and sponge painted) so I wanted to make sure to get them covered well.

The first couple of hours or so, I spent my time taking the doors off the walls (closet, bathroom, and bedroom); taking the TV off the wall; removing the light and socket covers; moving the furniture to the center of the room and covering it, filling in holes in the walls from screws; sanding and washing the walls. Then, I did a coat of primer, which took FOREVER. I had to carefully prime the trim around the windows, doorways, along the floor, and at the ceiling. By the time I was done with a coat of primer, eight hours had passed!

I had been thinking that I would need two coats of primer and two coats of paint to cover the previous dark color (with a light yellow). Once I finished that first coat of primer, I wanted to just quit the whole project and go back to how it was before, haha. My back was killing me, and my muscles were just aching. Not to mention that I was ravenously hungry (how is it that painting takes so much energy?).

After a quick Google search, I decided to chance it with just one coat of primer. I figured if worse came to worst, I could just use a third coat of paint. Painting the trim white was even more tedious than priming, because I had to be careful not to get the white paint anywhere other than on the trim (when priming, I just covered the walls and trim together). Finally, when the trim was done with one coat of primer and one coat of paint, I decided to do the walls and hopefully be good with just one coat.

The second I brushed on some of the yellow paint, I thought, "Oh, crap, this looks like Easter!" I wasn't imagining an Easter-yellow--more of a sunny yellow. Jerry got home shortly after that (the twelfth hour at that point) and he really loved the color. I really didn't want to change the color, because I was just ready to finish the whole thing, so I continued with the Easter-yellow. The more we painted (Jerry did the rolling while I painted around the trim), the more the color grew on me. I really like it!

I don't have any real "before" photos, but looking back through my pictures on my computer, I found this one that will at least give you an idea of what it looked like before:

And now, partially done (still working on the window treatments, and some pictures for the walls):

Estelle's favorite place is on my bed

I'm trying to figure out what to do with the windows. Before painting, I was thinking we'd have to get white blinds, but I discovered that I actually kind of like the contrast of the dark brown ones (they look black in the picture). I hung one curtain rod this morning, but I'm not sure what my plan is yet as far as window treatments, so I'm going to figure that out before I hang the other rod. Suggestions? Should I switch out the blinds for white?

We finished painting at 10:00 pm (I had started at 8:00 in the morning). Once we moved the furniture back, and hung the blinds back up, I was completely exhausted. I didn't cook dinner, so Jerry had picked up a pizza on the way home. I scarfed down three pieces--it was like I couldn't even eat them fast enough. It's so odd! Even after running 10 miles, I don't feel that ravenous. Painting is exhausting.

When I woke up this morning, every muscle in my body was groaning. Painting the bedroom was a better strength workout than any other I've ever done. And today is going to be just as challenging--I have to hang the doors back up (and possibly paint them, I haven't decided yet); hang curtains; hang the TV; hang a ceiling fan; and hang a mirror. The final part of our bedroom project will be new carpet, but that will probably have to wait until next year, because it'll be expensive.

Anyway, that's what has been taking up my time this week! I did my weigh-in this morning, and I really like using the average moving weight. Today's average moving weight was 128.6. If I had gone by my actual weight this morning for my official weigh-in, I wouldn't have been very happy--I had pizza last night, and put on two pounds overnight from the sodium! (There are two foods that always make my weight jump by 2-4 pounds overnight--pizza and buffalo wings.)

Not putting on my typical 10 pounds of "spring" weight (I always tend to gain weight through the spring and summer) has been pretty challenging so far. Yesterday, it was 90 degrees outside! As I was working on my bedroom, I was thinking about how good a few Summer Shandies would taste, but I'm going to try and limit the alcohol to just social situations this summer, so I don't wind up with lots of extra calories on a day-to-day basis. Alcohol and ice cream are two things that tend to get me in trouble with my weight every summer.

Jerry and I are starting a food challenge today, which I'll write about tomorrow. I had the whole post about it almost done yesterday, but like I said, I just got too busy to finish. It's kind of a fun challenge that we've done before, and I'm looking forward to it!

May 22, 2016

A visit to the Lego store

Yesterday, Jerry and I decided to surprise the kids by taking them to the Lego store. Eli has been really into building things with Legos lately, and he's been working to earn as much money as possible for Lego sets (he cuts the grass at my parents' house, and they pay him for it). The Lego store is pretty far away, at Somerset Collection (a "fancy" mall), so we let the kids withdraw $100 each from their savings accounts and then we made the hour-long drive to the store.

We stopped and had self-serve frozen yogurt on the way there, too. We hadn't done that in nearly a year, and the kids were totally thrilled. Yesterday was my high-calorie day--and thank goodness for that, because I can't seem to just get a tiny portion of fro-yo with fruit toppings or something when I go to places like that, haha. This place even had mini buckeyes for toppings! It was delicious.

I had never been to Somerset before, and I was kind of stunned at how nice (and huge) it was. We had no idea where the Lego store was inside the mall, so we just parked and hoped we'd be able to find it. Luckily, we found it right away, and we were pretty close to it. Eli's eyes were like saucers and his jaw dropped when he saw all the Lego sets. He said, "The frozen yogurt and Lego store makes this the best day of my life!" Hahaha.

I wish Legos weren't so damn expensive, though. There was a really awesome Ghostbusters Firehouse set that even *I* wanted to buy. I love puzzles, which I've mentioned on the blog several times, but I also happen to love putting other things together, including Legos. I don't really like using my imagination, though--I just like to follow along in an instruction booklet and piece it together. Getting a 4,600-piece Lego set sounds like so much fun to me! But I can't even imagine spending $350 on it. 

Eli has a really tough time making decisions on anything, but asking him to choose a Lego set was like asking him to cut off his hand--he just couldn't do it! But eventually, the boys picked out what they wanted, and they couldn't wait to get home to start putting them together. I love seeing them get excited to do something creative. 

The kids spent the night at my parents' house last night (bringing their new Legos with them) and Jerry and I went out for drinks with Renee and her husband, Dave. We just walked to the local bar, and it was super nice outside! We sat outside and chatted for a long time. Renee and I are going to be coaching cross country again this year, so we wanted to go over some plans for that. I had so much fun coaching last year, I'm really looking forward to doing it again. It was a nice evening, and I think Dave and Renee may be coming with Jerry and me to Cadillac for the race next month! I hope so. Going with another couple will will make for a very fun weekend :)

I was SO tired this morning, and the last thing I wanted to do was a run. Technically, it was my long run, but it was only five miles, so it wasn't that bad. I headed out first thing after I woke up, because otherwise, I could see myself procrastinating all day. The birds are starting to get territorial now, and my heart rate kept shooting up for a few seconds when I thought a bird was going to come at me. No dive bombs today, though!

It got up to 80 degrees today--just four more weeks until it's "officially" summer. This year is flying by way too fast!

May 20, 2016

Notable Race Experiences

Today is the four-year anniversary of running my first marathon. Can you believe it's been four whole years?! I wish it had been a better experience, but if I'm being honest, it was one of the worst race experiences I've had since becoming a runner. It was 85 degrees with 100% humidity that day, and I was on the course for nearly 5-1/2 hours.

I was dealing with a knee injury, and it was causing me problems throughout the whole race. I lost my running partner, Jessica, during the first mile or so (we reunited at mile 20, which was awesome). Due to the heat, I was taking in much more water than normal, and I wound up with terrible stomach cramps in the last 10K of the race--which led to a long bathroom stop in a porta potty that felt like a sauna. Let's just say that I was thrilled when it was over!

Thankfully, I've only had a few races that have been miserable, though. The majority of my races have been good experiences, and a few have been amazing. In honor of the anniversary of my first marathon, I thought I'd reflect back on some more notable races over the last six years.

Most Memorable Races:

1. Shamrock 'n' Roll 10K (3/17/2013)-- This remains my "most shocking" race result. Prior to this race, I'd only run a handful of sub-8:00 miles, and that pace wasn't even on my radar that day. I was expecting to finish the 10K in around 53:00, maybe 52:00 if I was feeling good. The race had pacers, and I started between the 52:00 and 55:00 pacer. I will NEVER forget that heart-stopping moment when I was at mile 4.5, and I saw a pacer ahead of me--and I realized it was the 50:00 pacer! Never, in my wildest dreams, did I imagine running a sub-50:00 10K. I made it a mission to catch up to him, and I finished in 49:23.

2. Rockford Half-Marathon (5/19/2013)-- This race is memorable because I had to keep it a secret until the day before the race! My sister had gotten into running because of my virtual 5K, and after that virtual race, she decided to keep training for longer distances. By May, she was ready to run her first half-marathon. She lives in Illinois, and I'd told her that I wasn't able to be at her race. She was disappointed that she'd have to run it alone, and it was SO hard not to tell her that I was planning to show up and run it with her! Shawn (her husband) and I worked out all the logistics, and I arrived on Saturday morning. The surprise went off perfectly, and I ran the race with Jeanie. She crushed her goal time of 2:30, and I loved being there to see her do it!

3. Lake Cadillac Team Marathon+ 10K (6/22/2014)-- This race was part of an impromptu road trip that Jerry and I took in the summer of 2014. I was looking for a local race, and came across this one (not exactly local, however--it was a four-hour drive). We decided on Friday night to go ahead and make the trip up there on Saturday, spend the night, and run the race on Sunday. It was so spontaneous! This race was unique because it had such a small-town vibe. It was kind of old-school, but that added to the charm of the race. The course was GORGEOUS, and Jerry and I ran the 10K together, without any time goal. It was a blast! (So much fun, in fact, that we're going to repeat the trip this year).

4. Escape to Belle Isle 5K (7/19/2014)-- This was a very special race to me because it was my boys' first 5K! My mom even came with us (Jerry had to work) so we had a fun morning. Eli stuck with my mom through the race, and I ran with Noah. To the kids, a 5K seemed nearly impossible, and we chose to do a run/walk method. Noah did great, and even though it was very difficult for him, I was SO proud to watch him cross the finish line! A few minutes after we finished, we got to watch my mom and Eli finish. I couldn't have been a prouder mom that day, truly. It made me wish I'd started running at the boys' age.

5. Detroit Free Press International Half Marathon (10/18/2015)-- The race that wasn't really meant to be. I'd signed up to run the full marathon with Thomas, who would be coming all the way from Portland to do it. Due to my stress fracture, I had to back out of the full. Since I was still able to walk, though, I decided to drop to the half-marathon and walk it. Jerry, who had been planning to be a cheerleader that day if Thomas and I were to run the full, decided to walk it with me. I don't remember anything that we talked about during the race, but we had a blast chatting and pointing out scenery along the way. It was AWESOME. We even had a shot of bourbon during the race! Even though I was bummed to have missed the marathon, everything worked out well.

6. Blooms to Brews 10K (4/10/2016)-- Even though this was just a six weeks ago, I had to include it as one of my most memorable. I spent half a year working on my goal for this race! It was because of this race that I dropped back down to my goal weight (and beyond) and took my 10K pace from 11:00/mile to 7:54/mile. I busted my ass to get to the starting line of this race, and even though I didn't have a blast during the running itself, I was THRILLED to have met my goal!

Some other notable stuff...

My current personal records:
5K- 24:51
10K- 49:03
Half-marathon- 1:52:07
Marathon- 4:16:38

My Top 4 Favorite Race Courses:

1. Detroit Free Press Marathon- This course is AMAZING. You go over the Ambassador Bridge into Canada, and run along the riverfront, then run under the Detroit River through a tunnel back into the U.S. In Detroit, my favorite part is Indian Village, which has these amazing houses on a tree-lined street (the trees are changing color for fall). This is my all-time favorite course of any race I've done! And I'm not just being biased ;)

2. Lake Cadillac Team Marathon+ -- This race goes around a small lake, and the perimeter is 6.9 miles. It's very flat, and the lake is beautiful. The "team" part of the marathon is due to the race being more of a relay method (not required, but that was the inspiration for the race). Four-person teams run the perimeter of the lake (the first loop is short, and then the other three loops are the full 6.9 miles). Each team member gets to experience the loop of the lake, and the exchange point is at the starting line. I can't wait to run this again next month!

3. Ragnar Relay Great River-- This was the first Ragnar I ran (actually, it was my first road race!) and the course was absolutely gorgeous. It certainly didn't hurt that my first leg was at sunset through some country roads! There are some insane hills on the course, but the scenery is so pretty (it runs right along the Mississippi River) that it's worth it. I've done three Ragnars, and this was my favorite course.

4. Glass City Marathon-- I've done the relay three times, so I've run three sections of this course. It goes through some really nice areas of Toledo (lots of parks/scenery) and it finishes on the football field at the University of Toledo.

My Favorite Race Medals:
(When I first started running, the medals were pretty important to me! Now, I honestly don't care about them, but I have a big box full of medals, so here are some of my favorites...)

1. The 2012 Detroit Free Press Marathon medal. I love this race's medal not just for the medal itself, but also the ribbon. The ribbon has the American flag on one side, and the Canadian flag on the other. Very unique!

2. The 2013 Ragnar Relay Florida Keys medal. There is something about this medal that I just love! Maybe the fact that it is also a bottle opener? ;) It's kind of funny--after I had done Ragnar SoCal, I was at my hotel room for the last night I was in San Diego, and my other teammates had left already. We had a bunch of beer leftover in our fridge, so I was going to drink a few while I packed and got ready to leave in the morning. Unfortunately, my roomies were the ones with the bottle openers, and I didn't have one! I wasn't able to drink any of the beer. It wasn't until the next day that I remembered I had a bottle opener on my medal--doh!

3. The 2015 Kona Chocolate Run medal. I like this simply because it looks like a candy bar with a bite taken out of it :)

4. The 2014 Runner's World Heartbreak Hill Half-Marathon medal. The heart in the center spins around.

5. The 2013 Martian Half-Marathon medal. This one is fun because it looks like an alien head! My kids have been dreaming of earning one of these some day--they love it ;)

My Favorite Race Shirts:
(Like the medals, the shirts used to be important to me, but now I'll usually only wear it if it's cotton--it makes a good shirt to sleep in.) I had so many race shirts, and I never wore them, so I turned them into a quilt! My sister-in-law and her mom helped me, and it's AMAZING. I like it much better than the shirts themselves!)

My very favorite shirt was probably this one from my first 5K--the Detroit Free Press 5K in 2010. It's very simple, but I love that it looks like an interstate sign.

I also like this shirt from the Martian 10K--again with the alien head!

Fun Facts:
  • I've run a total of 62 races over the last 6 years.
  • My shortest race distance was 5K, and longest was a full marathon.
  • My favorite distances is the 10K--not short enough to be a sprint, but short enough that you have to be able to run hard for a good distance. They don't require a ton of training (unless you're looking to set a personal record) and the training is easy to fit into one's life.
  • My favorite races are the ones where I pace a friend.
  • I still get nervous before every single race, even if I plan to run it at an easy pace.
  • I run best with a five-days-per-week training plan. More, and I get burnt-out; less, and I don't get in enough mileage to feel ready.
  • The farthest I've ever traveled for a race is 2,405 miles--to Woodland, Washington for the Blooms to Brews 10K.
This was kind of fun to see all my race history laid out like this! You can see links to all of my race reports (as well as my running story) on my Running page, if you're interested. I'm saving up my Delta SkyMiles on my American Express card right now so that I can go somewhere for a race next year, only I have no idea where I want to go! Any suggestions? :)

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