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20 Mile Madness…COMPLETE!!!

As most of you know I have been struggling all week with a sinus infection, therefore unable to run any of my short runs.  But this morning I KNEW I needed to get my 20 miles in, mentally, and physically.

I attempted to go to bed at 9 last night, and tossed and turned for 2 hours.  I wasn’t feeling well, and was nervous to say the least.  But my clothes were set out, and my alarm was set.  Nothing was going to stop me from finishing this milestone with my running group. 

I arrived at Dick Pond promptly at 6:15 a.m. and was greeted by other runners.  I met up with my new running buddy and friend, Kyla, and we decided to head into the store to browse for a few minutes.  She forgot her compression sleeves, so she bought a set and let me use the extra one for my right leg.  I am not sure if it made a difference or not, but we looked pretty darn cool with matching sleeves. J
Kyla and I at the start!
 

We started out strong with the 11 minute mile pace group and held strong until about the ten mile mark when we stopped for a pottie stop.  After refueling with my second shot blok and salt and suddenly felt like I was going to lose it.  Yes, lose it as in throw up…so we slowed down, walked some, and I regained my composure. 

Most of our runs have been filled with laughter, singing, and just all around fun.  But this run was different.  We were both focused, and hurting (me so more than her) and by mile 18 I wanted to give up.  Mentally I was screwed, and physically I was just wanted to crawl on a park bench and cry.  But Kyla cheered me on through my near tears, and although we had to walk the last ¼ mile, we finished.  20:05 miles in 4 hours and 3 minutes. 

WE DID IT!!!  Am I mentally ready for 26.2?  Gosh, don’t ask me that today…I wish I could say YES…but I know once I feel better I will regain my confidence. 
Us, at the finish, 92 degrees and HOT!
 

Lastly,

The race coordinators of the Fox Valley marathon and all of these training runs have completely changed my life.  They’ve renewed my love for running more than I ever thought imaginable, and they’ve given me the support I needed to get this far in my training. 
The best group of runners I know!!!!!
 

Thanks to you ALL who continually support and cheer me on through this crazy journey…I love you all dearly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Sunday FUN-day!

I went to bed early last night in preparation for today’s long run…well, early for me at least as it was before 11 p.m.  I was lucky enough to spend a fun day with my family, spread out between shopping with my eldest for school and watching a movie at night with the family.  We watched Hunger games (my youngest only watched before the ‘fighting’) and ate popcorn…couldn’t get better.  I ended the night with some conversation with my husband, trying to squeeze in that last bit of time before he leaves for the week due to work. 

The kids are ready for school which starts this week…wow, I have a 1stand 7th grader…where has the time gone?  Sigh…

I had an amazing run today with Kyla…we met in downtown St. Charles at 7 a.m., and I was able to meet her friend, Christine as well.  Sadly Christine had to bow out around the 2ndmile due to IT band issues, but Kyla and I pressed on.  We had 12 miles on deck, and we wanted to finish strong.  We hit the trails running, and had a great plan.  Every 4 miles we’d fuel up, stretch, and move forward. 

My splits were as follows…10:51, 10:47, 10:43, 10:18, 10:29, 10:25, 10:38, 10:17, 10:24, 10:10 (!!!), 10:33, 10:10.  We could’ve ran 13 miles, but we were tight, and decided we’d walk the last mile to stretch things out.  We had a blast, truly…and were blessed with seeing Carolyn twice and getting sweaty hugs, LOL!  The running community truly is amazing…

We were welcomed with chipmunks, birds, and the beauty of the Fox River along the way, as well as great conversation and wondering why the heck people don’t say hi when you say good morning.  REALLY?  If you are going to be out there in the beauty of these trails, by gosh ENJOY IT!  We had to laugh…

Around mile 10 I broke into song singing Sugarland, and got the goofy stares from people…LOL! 

I came home afterwards, showered, and made myself 2 eggs for breakfast…look what I found! 

I tried to settle in and take a short nap, but after nearly 2 hours of tossing and turning I wondered if I’d be able to sleep.  Thankfully I was able to drift off, and my awesome husband did laundry and took care of the kids.  I woke up feeling NOT sore.  YAY! 

Side note, my sis and I decided to be “matchy matchy” for our next two races.  Check out our outfits!  LOVE!

We will be wearing this skirt, with the orange top, my favorite color, YAY!!! 

Bring on the week and my 20 miler on Saturday!!
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Monday Musings and such

I got home Saturday night from our wonderful Disney trip.  It was hectic, chaotic, but most of all MUCH needed time with my family.  We didn’t get home until nearly 8 p.m. but after feeding the kids and starting laundry I knew what I needed to do.  I set my running clothes out for my long run Sunday.  Could I really accomplish running 18 miles after only walking for a week?  I had hoped so…because thankfully I tracked my miles, and we literally walked our tails off in all of the parks. 

Let me back track just a tad, although I won’t overwhelm you all with pics of my trip.  Feel free to check out my Facebook page, it is loaded with pictures. 

Let’s just say there is nothing better than seeing your kid’s faces light up when they meet their favorite characters, or go on their favorite ride.  It truly was worth every penny we spent.  I got teary several times during the week; admittedly…I’ve learned throughout the years that my family and close friends truly are my constant in life.  And I do my best to cherish them all the very best I can.  But even I, well, make mistakes.  Lose my temper.  Raise my voice.  Bah…I constantly work on being a better mother and friend…but more times than not, I fail.   

With that, I also learned today that you should always have hope in life.  But sometimes your hopes can get shattered.  We can’t always be the best at our jobs, be it career outside the home, or life inside the home.  But with each shattered hope comes a new found drive to be BETTER, to DO BETTER. 

So back to my long run…

My clothes were set out, Garmin charged and playlist updated before I went to be on Saturday night.  My husband doubted I would get up after our week’s travels…But I got up, dressed, and drove to the meeting spot for the Fox Valley Marathon running group’s spot. 

I was nervous, but excited to hit the road.  Funny how we long for that run in order to clear our minds, bodies, and souls of the stress that gets built up without that ‘release.’

Mile one I was trying to find my groove, and around mile 2 I met a wonderful fellow runner named Kyla.  Her running partner had to bail, and she asked if we could run together.  I warned her I wasn’t the best running partner as I am so used to running alone but she was happy as long as we stayed on pace.  By mile 4 we were laughing and joking and the miles seemed to effortlessly fly by.  We hit our water stop at mile 6ish, and took our fuel and she gave me some salt tablets which helped tremendously.  At around mile 9 we hit our turn around and we were excited we were halfway done.  Mile 10 came and went, and I started to struggle around mile 12.  My right front ankle has been very tight, I assume to do my Achilles tendons being VERY tight, so I stopped to stretch a couple times.  I truly didn’t want to walk…but after mile 14 and some treacherous hills, I knew I needed to walk just a bit.  We hit mile 16 knowing we only had TWO miles to go, and by mile 17 we were giddy…singing songs, being silly, and just excited for our distance PR.  Once we turned the bend to where our group tent was set up, we picked up the pace and finished strong.  18.23 miles, COMPLETE.  To say I felt good today would be a lie and more so I look like an old woman that lost her walker.  But tomorrow will be better, and I will get back out there and run. 
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Friday. Yeah. :-)

1.       I am going on vacation with my family.  TOMORROW.  To Disneyworld.  I am so excited I can’t sleep.

2.      I have packed, cleaned, and even thrown in some running clothes just in case I get some extra time. 

3.      My youngest baby turns 6 on Sunday.  My heart breaks, and is filled with joy at the same time because she has a heart of gold. 

4.      Each day is something new…this week I feel like things have finally started to fall in place after nearly a year at my new job.

5.      Did I mention I can’t sleep?

6.      Spent the night in front of a lovely fire with drinks and good conversation with my hubby and my good friend, Anna.  I truly am blessed. 

7.      My long run didn’t happen tonight.  My knee kept me up most of last night, and I figure I will get miles of walking this week.

8.      Ultimately I am blessed.  Time to go water my flowers. 
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Seven things SUNDAY!

Seven things, Sunday…

1.       I won my chopped challenge given to me by my husband and daughters tonight.  Check out my FB page to see pics.  (Sausage, Daikon, Dragon fruit, and queso fresco cheese were my ingredients).   

2.      I started staining my base boards and all the wood accents in my house.  Sadly the house is nearly 30 years old and needs some love.  And yes, I love my home. 

3.      I LOVE the Olympics…how can you not? 

4.      Looking forward yet nervous about this week at work.  We have a big inspection coming up and I’ve been doing everything I can to get our lab ready!  Praying it goes well!

5.      I.  Am.  Sore.  Holy crap 16 miles sure takes its toll on a body.  I wanted to ride my bike tonight, but my body told me otherwise.  OWE!!!

6.      My Husband’s birthday is tomorrow.  FINALLY he will be 39 just like me, LOL.  God blessed me with a wonderful, (yet grumpy) husband.  hehe

7.      Lastly, I’ve realized that no matter what you do in life, someone will always discredit you, put you down, or not support you…those ‘someone’s’ suck…so leave em in your dust.  I’d rather not have support, than have half assed fake support.  You all know what I mean…

I did 23 miles last week, so am pleased.  Bring on this WEEK of training.  Gotta get ready for Disney so hope to get my long run in on Friday night after work…
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Sixteen miler on Saturday!

My last post, well, was a downer, and for that I apologize.  Darn funks suck…LOL 

So last night I committed to running with the Fox Valley marathon running group this morning.   I told myself, YOU WILL, and YOU CAN do this…so I set out all of my clothes, gear, and items needed for an early morning run.  I had doubts I could finish 16 miles, but told myself I would run smart and go with the 10:30 pace group vs. the 10:00 pacer in order to give myself some slack…

I set my alarm for 5:15, knowing I was set and ready to run.  I snoozed twice, and nearly jumped out of bed because I didn’t want to be late.  Got dressed, ready, and had my protein bar on the way to the trail.  Although I am not a morning person I will admit watching the sun rise of the Fox River was truly breathtaking. 

I started strong, keeping at the head of the pack with the pacer.  Thanks goodness for my newfound friend, Jim who was leading the group.  We hit the trails promptly at 6:30.   I had drank too much water so needed a bio break around the 2 mile mark.  I still felt good, although the nagging knee pain and Achilles tendons pulling caused me to slow down around mile 10.  I tried keeping with the group, but decided I needed to stop and stretch things out.  I tried keeping the group in my sites, but by mile 12 I had lost them from my consequent walk breaks.  But I was still in it…

I met up with a couple girls near the water stop and was blessed a girl named Carla wanted to stick with me.  We pushed through to mile 14 and stopped for a quick bio break.   I took a cliff shot block around mile 8, and another at mile 12.  I NEEDED to finish this run. 

We came around the bend at mile 15, and I knew I could finish!  My feet hurt, my knee was screaming, and my breathing wavered…but I finished…

16.05 miles, in 2:55…not my best run by far.  But a success because I completed it none the less…I wasn’t excited about the 10:54 pace, but still thankful I completed my mileage.  Now with aching feet, a blister the size of Texas on my “abnormally long second toe” as my sister’s friend commented, I will settle down with a cocktail.  J

Can I really do TEN more miles?  Ack!

I got home around 10:30, and noticed I had the chills pretty bad so took a warm Epsom salt bath to warm up, and relax.  After which I iced my knee for a good hour, and slept peacefully on my recliner. 

The day then transformed in to going to my sister’s kids birthday party.  What a blast to hang out with family and friends. 

Life.  Is.  Good.
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Mini-vaca and Empanadas…

 So let’s start by saying my training last week, well, sucked to say the least.  But I managed 2 runs, 2 LONG walks, and 2 swims so I guess that is better than nothing.  My mileage spoke otherwise, but this is a new week, RIGHT! 

I spent 4 days in Minnesota, and had a complete blast seeing my family.  We got to MN late afternoon on Thursday, and just HAD to hit the Mall of America.  The kids loved it!  We had dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp (great atmosphere for fun, but food was overpriced for the quality) and rode rides and walked the mall. It was a wonderful evening. 

Friday we of course went BACK to the mall for a few hours, and my husband surprised me by getting me my DREAM ring.  We got quite the deal for shopping at Ben Bridge jewelers, as this is where we bought our original set 8 years ago.  They gave us full value for my original engagement ring, and although I hated to give it up, I know my band is the original band and that my husband helped pick this beautiful piece out for me!

After shopping we went to my Uncle Ron/Aunt Barb’s house for dinner and a boat ride.  It was just awesome to be able to see both sides of my gi-normous family, and the kids had fun playing with their cousins. 

Saturday was the reunion, and I saw people I hadn’t seen in nearly 10 years, if not more.  I am blessed and reminded that my family is my constant whether or not we live near each other. 

We got home late Sunday, and after over 1000 miles in the car over 4 days, my legs and knees were aching.  So I took a nice long hot Epsom salt bath which helped tremendously, and settled in to getting the house cleaned and laundry done…well, started anyway, LOL…

Today I took the day off knowing we’d get home late and a ton of housework needed to be done.  I kept Sophia home instead of taking her to day care and was woken up with her cooking me breakfast on her play kitchen.  TOO CUTE!!!

We cleaned, painted toe nails, and then my cooking escapade ensued.  I made homemade chicken empanadas, fresh out of my neighbors garden roasted squash with garlic and shallots, and re fried beans from a can-dressed up! 

Here you can see step by step what I did…

Cube 4 chicken breasts rather small and add salt, pepper, lime juice, chili powder, adobo seasoning and fajita seasoning.  Let this sit while you prepare the diced red onion, garlic, capers, and olives.

Mix these four ingredients into a bowl, and then saute’ over medium heat until slightly translucent.  Next, add your chicken that has been marinating. 

Once cooked, take off the heat and let cool completely. 

The dough was rather easy, and I DON’T do well with baking…Simply at 3 cups of flour to 1 teaspoon of salt in a bowl.  In a second bowl, whisk 1 egg, and 1 egg white with a teaspoon of vinegar. 

Cut in 3 teaspoons of shortening, and then mix the wet and dry mixture together, being careful to not over knead.  Once a nice ball is formed, wrap in plastic and place in the fridge for an hour.  While this was chilling and my meat was cooling, I made my famous dipping sauce that my whole family loves. 
Three spoonfulls of mayo, 2 spoonfulls of sour cream, 2 cloves of garlic grated on a micro-grater, kosher salt, pepper, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper and 2 green onions finely chopped make this sauce a WIN!

Next I prepared my squash by simply peeling, cubing, and adding salt, pepper and a touch of cayenne as well as minced garlic and shallots.  I roasted the squash for about 35 minutes at 350 degrees.  At 25 minutes, I added half a can of diced tomatoes as well as chopped green onion and cooked the remaining 10 minutes.  YUM!

Now it was time to roll out the dough and start assembling my empanadas!

(I used a martini glass to cut these out, worked perfectly!!)

Make sure not to overstuff, and crimp with a fork to keep your stuff from pouring out!

Brush with an egg wash, and sprinkle with chili powder and ciliantro for color!  I baked for about 35 minutes at 350 degrees!

Here is the complete meal (apologies for the paper plates, after 2 hours of cooking I didn’t feel like doing more dishes, LOL), with doctored up refried beans…added some smoked paprika, garlic, salt, pepper and cilantro for awesome flavor!!!

Thanks for hanging in there for this long post!!!  Hope you all have a wonderful week!!!

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Mid Week musings…

Life has a funny way of working itself out, even when we aren’t sure of the path that’s been chosen for us…yet often times I find myself questioning this path, I have to be confident I am exactly where I am meant to be. 

I am still struggling with ‘things’ and I have found myself a little out of sorts lately trying to find my way.  Yet I try to use my commute to and from work to think, reflect, and plan for my future-even if it’s just that particular day.  Yesterday I thought I’d try a new “quicker” way to work, which led me to hit every red light, construction, and traffic up the wazoo…and that was the start of my ‘clears throat’ wonderful day. 

So today I knew I needed to take my comfortable route, and one that gives me beautiful scenery and time to think…My only stretch of interstate is highway 88 for about 8 miles, and as I made it through about my 6th mile on the interstate I got a text from my husband…”Look to your left…”  I was confused, and looked over to see him driving along side of me…CRAZY coincidence as we take a very different route to work minus that stretch of highway.  I smiled, waved, and prayed my day would be better for having been able to see his smile. 

I’ve been emotional lately…maybe just me being confused in my role at work, or maybe the specific instances that tend to happen too often.  So driving home today I was listening to “Red Rag top” by Tim McGraw and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t choked up…yet there on the corner of Rt. 31 and 3rd street in Geneva I just happened to look to my left, and there was my husband smiling, AGAIN.  WOW…Yup, although times may be hard, I am where I meant to be…

Yesterday I needed to get my run in as I know I’ll be out of town this week for our family reunion.  Did I want to remain on the recliner and just close my eyes?  Heck yeah…I waited an hour and no relief in the temperature so at 7:30 I hit the trails near my house.  I don’t like these trails, but they get the job done…

I have a new found love affair with ‘Nathan’…who is Nathan you ask after I’ve just gushed about my husband?  Nathan is my water bottle that I loath to carry with me on runs, but who keeps me hydrated at the same time.  I brought him with me, and he gave me the extra fuel I needed to get my 4.25 miles done, and with an 8:44 mile to wrap up my run.  Average 9:10 pace.  I love pushing myself on these short runs, and it’s improved my long runs tremendously.   HELL YEAH.  I’ve logged almost 500 miles since starting my training, so I am pretty proud of that!

I’ve now packed and gotten ready for our trip to Minnesota tomorrow, and even packed my running gear.  I hope to get at least one run in at the hotel.  I have 12 miles due on Sunday, and hope I am able to get it done after a 7 hour drive. 

Most of all, I can’t wait to see some family members I haven’t seen in years.  Nothing better than family in my book!

Happy Hump Day! 
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Week 6, and 24 miles later…

Last night I decided I wasn’t going to be a wimp anymore and that I would get out there and meet some fellow runners while getting my long run in at the same time.  After several back and forth posts between the Fox Valley Marathon coordinators, and my friend Rob from daily mile, I knew I needed to do this for ME.

Often I say I can’t, quickly followed with, YES I CAN…

So to my husband’s surprise, I set all my clothes out, charged my Garmin and made sure I had my breakfast bar and water bottle ready for the morning run.  The group was running 14, and I had 10 on schedule so my goal was to at least get 10 miles in…

I tossed and turned most of the night…worried I wouldn’t finish…damn those mental devils that sit on our shoulders during training…

I woke up at 5:15 to my preset alarm, and quickly brushed my teeth and hair and got dressed.  Nerves had set in, but I jumped in my jeep and hit Route 31 to meet everyone at Dick Pond in St. Charles.  I read my husband’s facebook post to me, and knew, I could do this…

“So incredibly proud of my wife, who decided to get up at 5:15 in the morning to train for her marathon.  She is my living proof and inspiration that we can achieve anything we want if you just have the courage to follow your passion and listen to your heart. Because at the end of the day… pass or fail… win or loss… you can look at yourself in the mirror, and with smile on your face say… I gave it my all, and nobody can ever take that away!”

The crowd was quiet, and I didn’t really meet anyone at the start other than a quick hello to Rob.  I found my pace group (10:00 mile pace), and promptly at 6:30 we hit the road running. 

I stayed with the group the first hour, and felt good at about a 9:50 pace.  At mile 7 we stopped for drinks and a pottie stop, and I realized I was getting tired, hot, and worn out…I fell back from the group as we continued on to mile 8, but they were still in my sights.  Yet as I saw them in front of me, those mental devils started kicking my ass…”Why are you in a group run if you can’t keep up with the group?”  Bah, I wanted to cry…

But I kept pushing, and at mile 9.5 I took a couple sport beans and kept pushing.  I would stay with the group for a bit, finally chatting a little, but realized I needed to get this done for ME, because I have never been one to quit, well, at anything…So I put in both ear pieces, and tried focusing on the music and trail other than the sweat pouring down my face. 

Mile 11 was better, but by mile 12 I was spent…everything started to hurt, so I allowed myself walk breaks.  A wonderful runner, Tammy, met me at mile 13, and stayed with me until the very end, walking and running that last mile.  We hit the parking lot and I ran my farthest distance to date of 14 miles.  Did it hurt?  Heck yeah…mentally and physically, but I did it!   14 miles…2:25 finish time.  YAHOO!

Thanks to all for the amazing support…xoxo
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Seven (or more) things this Sunday…

1.       I am not a morning person.  I never have been, and although I can say I have tried-it just isn’t in my genetic make-up.  I wish I could get up early and run, but I’d much rather cuddle with my dog instead.  J

2.      For those who have known me for quite some time, you know I have struggled with hair loss for years.  Back in ’07 I had some tough times, and with some major weight loss, my hair decided to fall out…I couldn’t afford to get my hair done so in turn my hair suffered.  This last year I have started taking better care of me, and my hair, and I am pleased to say it is finally growing.  YES, this is huge for me.

3.      I love to cook.  More than nearly anything…yet sadly these last few months when my husband was gone I let that passion go by the way side.  I am happy to say I am SO glad he is home, and am happier to be cooking for him.  One day I hope to either take professional cooking classes or go to culinary school. 
cauliflower mash

Risotto

my first attempt at steaks

4.      I love to write.  But I have let time get the best of me and haven’t been writing as much.  My goal is to regroup and hopefully try to self-publish something in the next year. 

5.      I have struggled fitting in with my new job, yet I continue to keep trying to find my way in the amazing hospital I work for each day.  I have to remember for 20 years I was an Airman…this will take time and I need to allow myself time to pave my new path. 

6.      I find complete peace in my family and close friends.  I don’t need much else in life…nope…

7.      I did my first long run in 3 weeks tonight, and although it wasn’t easy, I pushed myself to finish my 8 miles.  Thanks so much to all of you who support me daily…xoxo