A post from the past…my first 1/2 marathon

I have been a writer since, well, I could form letters and words together to form a sentence.  I have poems, posts, and stories from over 20 years ago…

Yet I found this blog post tonight, and found it fitting in my goals here.  It was the blog post I wrote when I completed my first (and only) 1/2 marathon in 2007. 

Also note, my main picture is from this very race…

…goal number 1 of many on my “life list”…yes, I finished the 1/2 Marathon that I’ve been talking about for months now.
Many wondered why I chose to run the marathon so “out of the blue” so to speak. And I guess only I know why I chose to run this race when I did.
But let me bring you back to yesterday…just a quick overview of a beautiful day. I wish I could say I got a good nights sleep the night before, but I think my nerves got the best of me. Thank goodness for my undying need to prepare for everything, I set out my clothes, IPOD, shoes, pinned my number on my shirt, and even put my chip on my shoe the night before. I went to bed early, 9 p.m., which for those of you that know me – know this is VERY early for me…but tossed and turned all night in anticipation for the race.
Brian woke me promptly at 0445, and I got ready and came down stairs to have coffee and a breakfast bar and some Gatorade. The girls also were woken up (unhappily-poor Sophia is teething, LOL) and Brian swiftly made sure they were all taken care of so I could concentrate on “me.” Once my friend/neighbor April who was riding with us showed up at 0545, we piled in the car and headed downtown.
What a sight! Once we arrived there were thousands of people walking towards the Alamo, which was the starting point. Brian dropped us off and we quickly headed towards the bathrooms knowing full well the lines would be long and we wouldn’t want to fight them later. Then it was time to merge in with the crowd and wait for the gun to sound…and once it did, let me tell you…what a rush…it took a minute or so to actually cross the starting line because of the massive amounts of people, but once you did and saw all the people cheering for you, I can’t explain the feeling…it was truly amazing. The race had finally began! The first few miles I had a hard time finding my groove. April and I were still running together at this point, and we were running at about a 9 minute mile pace. I had a cramp in my shoulder, I was worried about the people passing me, and the pace we were going at was just a bit quick for the distance we had to go. But then we rounded the corner after mile 4 and I saw Brian holding Sophia, and Jordyn holding up a sign she made saying “Go Mom Go!” and I got tears in my eyes and a sudden burst of energy. It was awesome to see them, and it truly gave me the energy to keep going. At about mile 5 I stopped quickly to use the restroom, and then around mile 6 or 7 I just got a sudden burst of energy. I took off…I looked back at April, she smiled and waved, and I just booked…we were in a beautiful residential area and the scenery was breathtaking. I got lost in my “zone” and it was great…this is why I love to run…you just escape…I stayed there for a couple miles, going at about an 8 or 9 minute mile pace. April and I met back up for a while and we started to see the people headed back after the turn around. We started to get excited…only to realize the turn around was still a couple miles up, LOL…she stopped to use the bathroom, and I kept going…the turnaround was at around mile 9 I believe…and it was awesome to see her on my way back, we high fived and I kept going.
Mile 10 I hit my “Wall” and slowed down…I knew if I stopped it would be over so I kept running, but literally every muscle in my body hurt. I could barely lift my legs. I had talk myself through it…I had to remind myself why I chose to run this race…that I needed to complete this for ME, and no one else…that this was a dream of MINE, and only I could make it come true…
Mile 11…only 2.1 to go…water stop and some Gu (nasty stuff by the way) and I kept going…my feet felt like bricks but I didn’t care…I saw people walking and it literally appalled me. We only had 2 miles left!!! Run people…Run! And then we hit mile 12.
One mile to go…I could see the Alamo Dome…I picked up my pace even though I felt like my knee was going to give out. I saw the turn into the parking lot and I couldn’t help but to smile. And then it was my turn…I turned left into the parking lot…and I ripped off my headphones…I wasn’t going to miss this for the world…people were cheering on both sides and all of a sudden I didn’t feel any pain. My shoulders straightened, my pace picked up, and I ran with everything I had down into the tunnel…and then I heard my name being called…”Michelle Dragoo”…I FINISHED…

Typical Tuesday

I am still getting used to this single parent gig.  Although sadly having done it dozens of times it should be old hat…yet, sadly, it isn’t.  My husband is my supporter, helper, friend, Dad, and the best husband I could ask for in life. 
So I have gone back to my roots in this running journey and life as a whole.  Preparing meals ahead of time the night before even though school work is calling my name.  My nights are short, and days even longer, but knowing my strength I know I will plug along.  Laundry, chores, mopping, cleaning, homework, kid’s homework, and oh yeah, my job all have their place in my life.
While trying to keep on our frugal budget I have made a menu that although some may say boring, is health full and provides me with the sustenance I need to get through each day.

I start by boiling a hand full of eggs (oh and the bacon from my previous post).  I bring 3 eggs whites with me, along with a piece or two of bacon to work for breakfast.

I make sure to discard the yolks, knowing I have a family history of high cholesterol.

Next I season with some wonderful seasoning we bought at a local spice store, in Geneva, IL.  Salt free!

Now it’s time to assemble my sandwich.  I use whole grain mini rounds I bought from Costco, that are super healthy with fiber and vitamins.  I also use fresh romaine lettuce, red onions, dijon mustard, colby cheese, and hard salami.  I know all of these elements are NOT fat free, but collectively make for a healthy meal. 

Romain lettuce, trim the ribs off!
red onions give a bit of zip to this sammich, yeah, sammich
Hard salami and dijon mustard are a winning hit!

colby cheese!  my favorite, and easy on the tummy!

whole lotta YUM!

Add in some fresh baby dill pickles and your meal is balanced and complete.  I also enjoy munching on baby pea pods for a healthy snack!

My goal this week is simply to surpass my mileage from last week by a mile or so.  Finals are looming, single Mom duty is in full force, but I can at least try to eat healthy, and exercise for me, and my girls. 

love and blessings to all that take the time to support me.  I couldn’t do this without those who keep me close. 

My "Passing" on Superbowl Sunday (and how we filled the day instead)!

Most people look forward to Superbowl Sunday, I on the other hand had mixed feelings this year. 
By most Sunday’s, Superbowl, and every other Sunday we plan on watching football, our fridge is packed full of snacks and goodies to enjoy during the game.  We’ve done this every year for the last 8 years.
But today, well, I just wasn’t feeling all festive and game like, so I passed.

Instead the girls and I decided on a yummy yet easy brunch.  To start off with, we preheated the oven to 400 degrees because I bake my bacon to reduce some of the fat, or at least it helps my conscience. 

Next I got my baking rack and pan ready by double lining with foil.  (Makes for an easy clean up!)

Lastly I sprayed my pan with non-stick spray, another helpful tip for quick and easy clean up!

Now…it’s time for the BACON!!!  I always buy the thick cut type, as it seems less fatty…
Spread in side by side in the pan, not worrying if the edges touch because it will shrink…

Bake for around 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through.  Remove from oven and pat with paper towels.

When this perfection of yummy slightly crunchy yet not rubbery bacon is done, it will look like the photo above.  (Sadly I could eat this whole pan, yet refrained…keep reminding myself of the 5 lbs I just CAN’T lose…hmm, wonder why?)

While the bacon is cooking we worked on the eggs.  We are “fried hard” egg girls all the way, so it’s quite easy.  Preheat your non-stick pan (I’ve had the one pictured for nearly 20 years, and it’s my favorite for eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches!) for a minute or two on medium, and add non-stick spray.  Crack in two eggs, breaking each yoke carefully.

Add a pinch of kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cook until almost done.  Flip only once. 
Once cooked all the way through add a sprinkle of shredded cheese and voila!!!

Brunch is served!!!  The girls and I love this simple go-to breakfast. 


Once brunch was eaten and the dishes were cleared I puttered around the house, and thankfully got a call from my neighbor to help me fix our broken door handle.  It looks great!

The sun was out, birds chirping, and I got the itch to run outside in the beautiful 45 degree weather.  I wanted to complete my ‘long run’ (4 miles for this beginner), yet my quirky knee started to get pissed at around the mile and a half mark, so I stopped at 2.26 miles. 

Trying my best not to get discouraged, and keep on plugging along.  I have a few WONDERFUL supporters who read my blogs, fb posts, and texts about my current mileage.  I am very grateful…
So tonight, with the Superbowl in full force, and my husband in Ft. Lee, VA (thankfully watching the game with his buddy), I will nurse my glass of wine, and apply even more Blue-emu to my crying knee. 

Love and blessings to you all!  May next week be all you hope for…


When in doubt, let there be FOOD!!!

As many of you know, I have a love for food, wine, and most of all COOKING whenever time permits.  Although work, school, and the house and kids often keep from REALLY creating I try to find as much time as possible to COOK, even the smallest of meals.
With age I have come to despise fast food (ME?  Yes, scary eh!!!), and even dining out at every day restaurants.  Why?  Because I feel between my cooking, and my husband’s grilling we can make BETTER food, that is better for us and our family’s health.

Today was an off day for running, so the girls and I went to their annual appointments, ran a couple errands, and came home to quietly relax and watch “Tangled.”  This is one of our family favorites so we snuggled in quickly.

Sometimes, normally I fall asleep while lying on the couch.  We joking call it the “couch of death” because it sucks the life out of you in a matter of minutes.  Yet I didn’t fall asleep this time…and found myself missing my hubby quite terrible when the Lantern scene came on…

As sappy as it sounds, well, this is how I feel about my husband.  He’s truly opened my eyes up to so many things in life I once kept my eyes and heart closed off to see. 

So with teary eyes and a heavy heart I climbed the stairs to my kitchen to COOK, because cooking makes everything better…

The girls requested quesadilla’s, so I got the chicken and steak marinating, and started prepping the garlic, mushrooms, and onions.  Of course my girls all requested different ingredients, but I didn’t mind…cooking is my other release besides running. 

I heated up two pans, one non-stick and one stainless steel.

To the stainless steel pan I added my garlic, onions, and mushrooms and let saute’ until the onions were translucent…

make sure not to salt until the mushrooms start to brown!

Did I mention it already smelled amazing in my house at this point?  YUM!!!  I added salt, pepper, and cilantro flakes and let simmer.


After the chicken/steak is done marinating (I added cumin, smoked paprika, chili powder, salt, pepper and cilantro with some hot sauce) cook one at a time in the non-stick pan. Mind you, this can be done as the same time as the veggies. 

After you cook off the chicken, remove from the pan but DON’T wash it out.  Simple reheat it and add in the steak!  Made for an amazing flavor!!!!

Cook until your desired temperature.  I am a medium rare fan, so cooked it just a few minutes longer than the picture until the outside was brown, and inside was still tender.  YUM!

Next it’s time to start assembling and cooking your quesadillas.  Clean out your non-stick pan unless you have 2!
Spray the pan with light cooking spray, and add just a touch of extra virgin olive oil  and place one flour tortilla in the pan.  Add desired ingredients!  Flip once, when light golden brown and wait another 5 minutes or so before removing from the pan.

I made one cheese and veggie quesadilla for Sophia-

cheese and veg

Jordyn wanted one with chicken and cheese-

And I of course had everything in mine!  They were all delicious!

Many thanks to my wonderful helpers…

My Sophia, in her favorite hat
My Jordyn, pretty and full of attitude!!!

And dinner thankfully, was a great success…


Hope you all had a blessed Saturday.  Hoping to get in some core exercises tonight!  Tomorrow I’ll be ready to run!!!

Moving forward on this Monday…

I wanted to be lazy today…revel in the fact that I only have 4 days left with my husband.  I wanted to just curl up on the recliner and have a nice conversation with my best friend.  Yet I walked in the door, and upon asking him what we were doing for dinner, he reminded me I needed to go to the gym.  I needed to stay motivated, and he supports me 100%.  I held my head in brief guilt, and knew he was right.  I stole a couple bites of food of my daughter’s plate, took my daily meds, and swiftly went upstairs to change into my work out clothes. 

He was right.

I can’t just wallow in the fact that he’s leaving and I’ll be on my own for a bit.  I can’t be sad that I don’t have his voice in the evening and hugs in the morning.  I need to pick myself up; stay motivated my last 4 weeks of class until I achieve my MBA, and KEEP RUNNING. 

I will work through the aches, strains, and quirks that my aging legs are giving me.  Because my parents taught me well.  Never quit.  Finish what you start.  And always, keep, going.  I have been through far too much in life to give up now.   I have goals, aspirations, and a passion that drives me to the bitter end.  I can’t stop now.

So this weekend we had our last HORAAH, and spent the weekend enjoying good food, our family, and even got things done around the house.  We were treated by our neighbors for a home cooked meal Sunday, wishing Brian well on his travels and schooling.  We truly are blessed.  Trials, tribulations, and the like set aside. 
I look a bit old here, but am happy..

So, tonight I went to the gym a bit begrudgingly.  But it was something I needed to do to release all the work stress, home, kids, BAH….I needed release.  I don’t have many friends near, and the close friends I do have are busy with their own lives so talking isn’t an option.  RUNNING is my release.  And so, I ran…only 3 miles, but with passion, heart, and driven desire that makes me want to be better person. 


I surpassed my goal of 2 miles, with a happy 3 passionate miles.  Done on my own accord, and with strength I didn’t think lived within me anymore. 

Only 23 miles to go.  

Only ran twice this week…

I was only able to get in 2 runs this week, but managed to work in IT Band stretches 3 days, as well as some Wii work outs.  It’s a start right?
Been a rather rough week, knowing my husband leaves on Friday, but I’ve tried to channel my emotions with writing, school, and my workouts as in-frequent as they still are right now.  I know I’ll “get there” and I will get my issues worked out, but right now I am doing what I can to hang on to each moment with my husband before leaves.  I am trying to give him his space to play his computer games and wind down before he has so much stress put on his shoulders.  But I do find myself hugging him more often, wishing he was near, more often. 
With this added stress I too am trying to build bonds with my daughters as both are Daddy’s girls which adds to my weight while he is gone.  They “want” and “need” Daddy…so far I am just an afterthought and disciplinarian.  I hope to find a common balance while he is gone.

My little Sophia loves to go to the gym with me, so I look forward to giving her big sister some quiet time while we work out a few times a week.  Once spring hits in a couple months I will be back to running outside. 

I have four weeks left of school.  FOUR.  Four weeks and counting until I finish my Graduate degree, obtaining an MBA in Health care Management.  I started this schooling journey back when my eldest daughter was merely one years old…and I will finish it in her 12th year of life.  It has been a long and tiresome journey, but another I needed to complete no matter how many hours of sleep I lacked.  Once this journey is finished I will venture to my next which is training for this marathon.

My current goals are to get in shape and eat better before my “real” marathon journey begins in a few months.  I want to be able to run more than 3 miles without having to stop and walk, and I want to rid myself of aches and pains so that I can run with peace and joy.  That is my goal.  For today…

Why does a runner, run?

Sheer bliss found in the scenes of nature
Trees tower over head as if to wrap their branches
And arms around me
to push me forward
Feet rhythmically hit the road
With patterned breaths just so
Counting breaths
Knowing steps
Yet amongst this calculation comes peace
A rhythm so calming
It is as if a new born baby is being soothed
On their mother’s chest
The pounding
The blood flowing with each given breath
Each taken step
Every muscle pulsed
Is running
Not for speed
Not for a medal
But for the sheer bliss of escape
although the world traveled to
Is known
And cherished…
For as the sounds of my feet hit the ground
I find my heart beating in sync.
Because my heart knows I am not running away
But TO
A dream I’ve always envisioned.
Crossing that line
Breaking that barrier
No one can stop me now.
Battered legs, shattered knees
But wings that allow me
To flea
I will arrive at a destination only I can encompass
And I will always know the direction I must turn
Because this is my race
The reason, and
The season
In which I run.

Philosophy is all about being curious, asking basic questions. And it can be fun!

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