I've started this blog to document my journey running while balancing motherhood, and eventually if I'm lucky enough, my next pregnancy.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I Heard the Universe Today

I think the universe was trying to tell me something today. Twice today I somehow ended up on the Happiness Project blog (and I ignored it). Maybe I'm behind the times, but I had never heard of it. And somehow at just the right time tonight, I was magically taken to this minute long short. I have no idea how I got there. You HAVE TO WATCH IT, especially if you are a parent.

I have off this week and have been spending all my time with Pickle. Sometimes my sweet little guy can be a bit of a handful, as he was tonight while I cooked dinner. After dinner, Pickle wanted to watch WALL-E (for the 400th time!) and rested his little head on my lap. He fell asleep about 10 minutes in to WALL-E, and I could hear his little snore. I figured I'd sit and chill for a few minutes before moving him to bed and risking him waking up for another hour.

And that's when I saw The Years Are Short.

It was a great reminder that soon enough, Pickle won't want to cuddle with me.

Soon enough, counting lemons, apples, potatoes, and bananas and playing I Spy at the grocery store won't be fun for Pickle anymore.

I needed that little minute reminder to cherish every moment with Pickle, even the most challenging of moments (or days).

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What Should I Buy??

My local running store rewards its customers with $25 gift certificates each time $250 is spent. Over the past year, I have earned 3 (and am $30 away from a 4th $25 GC). I think it's safe to say that running is not a cheap sport (especially if you run outdoors during all seasons), despite what all the fitness magazines say.

I currently have one $25 GC I need to use, and my husband's grandmother gave me $50 for Christmas. So now I need to decide what to buy. I already have 2 pairs of running tights, several running skirts, plenty of tops for all weather, socks, compression socks, jackets, a half zip, a vest, a running hat, and two pairs of running gloves. My running shoes have about 140 miles on them.

So what should I get? Regardless of what I decide to do with the $50, I will still have a $25 GC to spend at the running store. Should I just put the GC and the $50 towards a new pair of shoes that I know I'll eventually need?

Or should I just spend the $25 GC on something little at the running store and use the $50 to buy clothes I can actually wear to places other than the gym and races. I used to buy tons of cute clothes before I started running. Now everything I buy is for running (but hey, at least I look cute when I run).

Or should I use the $50 towards a massage-- this will of course require I spend more money because a massage where I go is at least $60, but not only do I get the massage, I get to spend 90 minutes in the Tranquility Room, which has a pool, a sauna, a eucalyptus steam room, and a swiss shower.

All of this sounds good to me. As my hubby knows, I'm no good at making decisions when I have too many options. I get a little overwhelmed (which is why it takes me FOREVER to order at restaurants with many paged menus). So help me decide.

What do you vote I do with my GC and $50?

Monday, December 27, 2010

What I Learned This X-Mas

1. It's not all about the present. Every time I asked Pickle what he wanted, he'd tell me he wanted a pair of slippers and to go to Santa's house. Well, the slippers were doable, but Santa's house? I wasn't sure how to create an imaginary home in the North Pole filled with happy elves and a jolly, fat, red man. Needless to say, Pickle didn't get what he really wanted for Christmas. But he did get a few things he really loved-- a doctor's kit and a music playing song book. Below is a picture of Pickle as Dr. Ellis (his pediatrician-- he doesn't want to go by his name. He wants to be like Dr. Ellis) Looking at him reminds me that any holiday is about what's most important, family and love.

2. Morning chores are much easier to do with a large Irish coffee (or several. Again, don't judge me). My husband and I were so busy in the weeks leading up to Christmas that we weren't able to keep up with cleaning (and let's face it; with a toddler, once a room is clean, it is inevitably going to get messy as soon as he blows through). We absolutely HAD to clean on Christmas morning because all my family was coming over for Christmas dinner. While cleaning the pantry a few days prior to Christmas, I noticed we had an obscene amount of Bailey's Irish Cream left from our former pre-Pickle life. And thus, the best new Christmas tradition was born. Cleaning has never been more fun. We jammed out to some good tunes, talked while we shared cleaning the kitchen and living room (yikes... they were scary), and felt warm and toasty. Don't worry. We aren't bad parents. Pickle was with the babysitter WALL-E (I'm kidding... we don't use TV as a babysitter, but he was remarkably chill and enjoying watching his DVD). Don't believe me? Here's proof. And for those of you who know Pickle and are familiar with his activity level, we didn't dose him. Swear. He just happens to be this cool when we really need it.

3. Being with family is what is most important. Christmas Eve is a little stressful. We hop between two places which sometimes causes me to get a little on edge, especially when I haven't had time to run all week. Let's just say it's a miracle I didn't start spitting pea soup at everyone while my head was spinning around. I don't do well when I can't run. But once I had a mimosa and relaxed a little, I had a blast. (I swear I'm not an alcoholic...) Being with the people who I know love me and know me best is the greatest gift I could receive.

4. I know this contradicts what I said earlier, but sometimes it is all about the present. My dad, bro, and hubby all got this hilarious and weird fish from my uncle. It is by far the strangest present any of them has ever received, but it is hilarious. We all couldn't stop laughing at it. Not sure what we're going to do with it though...
5. And... if you do get a bad gift (I know... it's the thought that counts), it could come in handy. I won a Run Like a Mother book from Kelly over at Secrets of a Running Mom for receiving one of the worst and oddest presents ever on a consistent basis. Check out her blog if you are one of the few not already reading it. She is hilarious. Thank you SO much, Kelly!

Friday, December 17, 2010

You're It.

Well, this is the first time I've been tagged in a meme (I had to look that word up. I thought everyone was mistyping memo... haha), so thanks Liz. Obviously she's great... I mean, just look at the name! I needed this because I really haven't had the motivation to write this week. Preparing for the holidays has been wiping me out! And by the way, thanks for all the lovely comments about our family photos. I'm so happy to show off my guys. :) Before I answer the questions Liz sent me, I have a few questions for all you readers and a few people to tag.

Erin at Making of a Runner ,Teresa at Jog Blogger, and Dawn at Running: The Dawn
And I would really love for all readers to feel free to pick a question or two and answer in the comment section. It's going to be a long week for us teachers-- if you have children, you know how off the hook nuts they get before break and Christmas-- and I could use a little pick me up.
And here are your questions (I guess I'm supposed to write 7, but I like the number 5 better):

1. What is your most embarrassing moment (or your funniest story)?
2. What is your all time favorite running song (or workout song)?
3. If you could chose your last meal, what would it be (my husband and I had a LONG conversation this weekend about this. I know it's kind of morbid, but you learn a lot about a person based on this answer)?
4. What is your greatest guilty pleasure?
5. What is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen?

And now for the questions Liz asked:
1. If you could go back and talk to your 16 year old self, what advice would you give?
I would tell myself to not take everything so seriously. I was constantly worrying about how I looked physically and what people thought of me. And really, who cares now? I did laugh a lot as a teenager, though. And I would tell myself to laugh and enjoy life even more.

2. When you see yourself having reached your goal, what do you see?
Hmmm... I'm not sure here. I guess my next goal is my 3rd half marathon, the National Half Marathon, on my 33rd birthday. I know I'm going to reach this goal (barring any injuries) and will cross the finish line at my goal time of 2:30. And I know my husband will be there cheering for me as he always is (and this always give me the extra energy I need to cross the finish line. There's nothing like hearing him scream my name and smile at me as I pass by him). I ran 5 miles of this same race last year for the Relay, and I couldn't help but get teared-up as I ran past all the monuments and famous buildings. Our capital is so beautiful; I guess I see myself tearing up again. What can I say? I'm a history dork and a sap.

3. What is your favorite book?
I'm an English teacher, so this is a tough one. My students make fun of me because each time I introduce a book, I tell them it's my favorite. Really, I have a lot of favorites for different reasons, and they're like children to me-- I can't choose between them. These are just a few of my faves.
Frankenstein- Mary Shelley is brilliant. Every time I read it, I'm amazed that she was only 17 when she wrote it.
Siddhartha- When I was in college, I read this book several times in a row. And I read the first page over and over. Ah... simply beautiful.
The Art of Happiness- I want to be more like the Dalai Lama. I need to learn to accept my life as it is-- a blessing-- and to not wish for something greater because my life is perfect just the way it is.
Dante's Inferno- I absolutely love teaching Inferno. And I'll be honest. Reading these horrific punishments reminds me to be a tad bit nicer.
Glamour magazine: Okay, I realize this isn't a book, but I have to read it every month. Flipping through the pages reminds me to dress up so I can feel like a woman. As a mom of a toddler and a runner, I spend a lot of my weekend in running clothes or stretchy pants, and really need a little motivation to look hot sometimes.

4. What is your best organizing tip?
Haha. That's a funny one. Anyone who knows me knows I'm not organized. If you take organization tips from me, you just might end up lost in a pile of papers or clothes never to be seen by the light of day again. I have spurts of being organized but then I end up falling apart. One thing that's working out well for me and my family lately is a family workout schedule. We share a calendar on Gmail; I mark how many miles I need to run each day, and my hubby marks what days he wants to go to the gym. We also mark what we're going to eat for dinner. It has made our lives a little easier (when we remember to do it...).

5. What is your favorite thing about where you live?
I love being close to three amazing cities-- Annapolis, Baltimore, and Washington, DC. There's always something to do. I'm surrounded by our nation's history in Annapolis and DC. And Baltimore is a lovely little city. Between the three cities, there's always something to do, and if it's in DC, it's free. I certainly don't take advantage of this as much as I should, but I really love my cities.

6. What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?
Skiing. I chaperoned a high school ski trip once. Long story short, it was a disaster. I ended up spending the evening with ski patrol (albeit a very hot ski patrol medic-- sorry, honey. This was before I even met you) and had a concussion. It was even more a disaster that I was supposed to be chaperoning 45 kids and no one really knew where I was. I can only imagine what they were up to while I was MIA. I got a nice little get well note from the medic. And since I've always been terrified of broken bones, losing a tooth, or really just getting hurt at all, I've never tried skiing again.
7. What would your theme song be?
I really have spent too much time trying to figure this one out. I really have no idea. I'm just going to go with Carole King's "Natural Woman". I'm really diggin' my hubby lately. He's pretty freaking awesome.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Family Photo Time

Last weekend, we got our family portrait done with a wonderful photographer, Lisa Marie. If you live in the Baltimore Metro area, I highly recommend her. She was great with Pickle. He took her hand and was talking away with her for the first 30 minutes or so. And I should tell you, it's virtually impossible to get photos of my kid. He makes a weird face before each click. Or he runs from the camera at lightning speed. And then on this occasion, Pickle had some serious melt downs towards the end of the shoot, but she somehow still got breathtaking photos.

Not only did she do an amazing job, she's fast. We just got our pictures done last Saturday, and she sent me the proofs yesterday! And for such a skilled photographer, she really is a steal. Check out here site to see her pricing info and her gallery HERE. If you're getting married, she even has a deal for that-- an unheard of deal... $800 for the whole wedding (she's trying to build her wedding portfolio).

I thought I'd post some of Lisa's photos of my little family. Having these photos will always remind me how happy my two guys make me and will remind me how truly blessed I am to have both Pickle and D in my life.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Three Things Thursday...


1. Last Saturday, I missed my long run with my lady running buddies at the NCR trail. I decided to instead do my run on Sunday, at the trail, and at our usual time early in the morning. And here's what I realized: I do not do well running on trails alone, and not for the reason you might think. I do fine motivating myself and keeping myself occupied. In fact, I love running alone. But I have decided I am far too paranoid to run on the NCR trail alone in the morning. I had no problems when male or female runners, walkers, or bikers were near me, but for the most part, the trail was deserted, with the exception of two seemingly creepy men walking the trail at 8 a.m. wearing jean, hoodies, and scarves covering their faces (I'm sure they are very nice men and were totally innocent). While I was running, all I could think was that they were up to no good. I mean who walks on a trail MILES from their car in jeans? I know, I'm sure lots of people do. In fact, I could see my father-in-law just deciding to go for a stroll the same way, and he's the nicest man on the planet (there's a reason my hubby is such a good egg), but in the moment I got myself all freaked out. The problem is that I watch far too much Law and Order: SVU and Dexter (especially this season-- wow), and unfortunately I have an overly active imagination that seems to imagine all possible scenarios involving me being dragged off into the woods. So lesson learned: No more running alone on trails. The insane and unjustified paranoia totally takes away the calming effect of running. And I feel really guilty for thinking horrible things about strangers who I'm sure are just nature lovers bundled up to keep warm.

2. I need to plan my races better. I have the Jingle Bell All the Way 10K in DC this weekend. I was really excited for it, until I saw the weather. It's going to be raining/snowing/sleeting in the morning and about 30-35 degrees when the race starts at 7:30. There's no where to park near the start (according to the race site) and the Metro doesn't open until 7, which makes it impossible for me to take mass transit. Packet pick up tomorrow is during my work hours, and packet pick up on Saturday is in Virginia, which is hours away for me. And Saturday my running buddies are doing a trail run, and I haven't seen them for a while... So is it bad that I feel like backing out of this race (and I'd instead get the miles + some extra in on Saturday with the ladies)? Has anyone out there ever done the same?

3. My little Pickle is staying with my parents all this weekend. My wonderful dad picked him up tonight. Pickle was ecstatic and couldn't stop talking about MiMi and Papi (and Lucky the dog, of course) all day. My parents are taking him to his first movie at the theater, to learn about Bald Eagles at a nature center near their house, to a train museum, and to walk the dog at the playground. Pickle is going to come home thinking we are the most boring parents ever. I know he is having and is going to continue having a great time. I am so thankful my parents are close enough to give Pickle this experience. But I already miss him SO much. I need to keep reminding myself that him being away makes me a better Mommy and certainly makes both D and me better spouses to each other.

Well, happy trails, all.

And here's to tomorrow's HIGH FIVE FRIDAY! Give someone a little high five. I'm telling you; it feels great and instantly makes everyone happy. I think I am very much in need of my high five tomorrow. :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

High Five Friday

Today I needed a wake up call. I got in a tizzy of a bad mood after waking up cold and tired, getting stuck in traffic, and getting told off by a teenager, all by 7:20 a.m. By the time lunch rolled around, I was in a mood, a really foul, negative, and angry mood.

Until one of my students came into the English office for his weekly High Five Friday. Every week, this kid runs all over the building giving anyone he sees-- teacher, maintenance worker, student, friend or foe-- a high five. It brings a smile to everyone's face, including mine. And as soon as I got my High Five, I was reminded of something this student told me after a really bad day for him (his dream girl rejected him and wouldn't got to the Homecoming dance with him after he wooed her all day... he had this sweet plan that took him days to create and was almost Say Anything great). After I told him I was sorry about his bad day, his response was, "No worries. Even a bad Friday is a good Friday, Mrs. J".

How true it that? Thankfully I have this kid to remind me to be thankful for my day, even a bad day (and my day really wasn't that bad in hindsight), because any day is a good day when you wake up and get to see the world, the people you love, and a job that reminds you to love life.

Happy High Five Friday, all!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's Official...

I'm running the National Half Marathon on March 26th, 2011; I'm already registered! It will be my 33rd birthday-- and it just so happens that 33 is my lucky number. I will be running for the Back on My Feet charity, and I can't think of a more fitting charity for my birthday run. Back on My Feet strives to help homeless men and women feel the benefits of running-- benefits I have gained myself through running-- and also provides job training, educational opportunities, and housing assistance.

Running has given so much to me. Through running, I have recognized my strength. Through running, I recognized I have no limits. I've found confidence, health, and most importantly for me, inner peace. I used to have anxiety attacks on a regular basis, to the point that for almost an entire year, I couldn't keep food down. I would get so nervous and upset (and not know over what) that I would throw up. Medication solved this anxiety issue, but the attacks were always present as soon as I went off medication. Since I started running almost 3 years ago, I haven't needed medication and I've only had a small hand full of attacks. And truthfully, the attacks were prompted by situations that might send anyone into a panic. With running, I've learned that when I'm anxious, confused, or need to sort through a problem, a long run is my quiet spot to catch my breath, regroup, think, and come up with a plan. I've also found that the running community is one of the most embracing groups of people I've ever met. Even though I'm not a fast runner, I've always felt welcomed by all runners-- included the fastest. I love feeling like I'm part of something.

I like that Back on My Feet provides these same opportunities to people who need to recognize their confidence, strength, and inner peace the most. So for my birthday this year, in lieu of presents for me, I'm asking my family to make a donation on my behalf to Back on My Feet, which will certainly be a gift to someone who needs it more than me.

If you'd like to make a donation, please check out my Back on My Feet donation page HERE. And no pressure... I know it's the holiday season. And I have until March 26 to keep pestering you. :)

Now it's time to get serious again about training. Yippee!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Married (or at least engaged) to running

Today was my first run with my Garmin Forerunner 310XT. It was my Christmas present, but my husband gave it to me early, probably because I kept coming up with lists of reasons for why I should have it now rather than Christmas Day. After being with me for so long, my husband is almost immune to all my rhetorical strategies, but I am a firm believer in never giving up. So if my persuasive skills don't work, my perseverance will (although I have to admit that usually doesn't work either. My hubby has amazing willpower.)

My favorite attempt at persuading him (but I'm not sure this is what convinced him even though it was the last thing I said)... This Garmin is as special to me as my engagement ring. Not being able to use it is like getting engaged and not being able to tell anyone. And I'm sure he remembers me telling everyone the night he asked me to marry him. I told people walking past me on the street, our waiter, people sitting near us at a restaurant, I called and left messages with virtually all the people I knew. I might have even called people I didn't know... I couldn't stop talking about it.

So when hubby turned to me at 6:38 p.m. last night and said he wanted me to be able to use my Garmin, it was like him getting down on one knee all over again! And today, when I strapped my sweet 310XT to my wrist, I felt my heart begin to race. Too bad I didn't have the heart rate monitor on... I felt such excitement to start running.

And that's when I realized it. I have a whole new level of commitment to running now. After purchasing a 310XT, there's no turning back. This is the moment I have decided to spend my life with running (I mean when else would anyone spend this kind of money?). Running and I have been an item for 2 1/2 years. We certainly have made it through some tough times-- injuries, doubts, training setbacks. But those tough times are all made better by the truly good times-- crossing finish lines at races, setting a PR, making new friends, realizing my strengths. And through it all, we've stuck together. I know I can't live without running now; I'm a total crazed mess when I can't run.

On my first run today, I started to get completely overwhelmed. Oddly enough, just like when I got engaged to my husband, a moment of panic set in (it was a small moment with my hubby though). I was constantly looking at my pace, which was slower than I normally run. More panic (I wasn't taking the hills I was running or my little injuries that needed some time to warm up into consideration). But after a few miles (and a few deep breaths), I got into my groove and started to feel a bit more at ease.

After my first run, and the wealth of information about said run available to me know, I'm really looking forward to building a running life with my Garmin Forerunner 310XT.

I'm not totally set on her name yet (I definitely feel my 310XT is female. And besides, I think my hubby would feel less threatened with me spending my life with another woman (in addition to him, of course)). I was thinking along the lines of a pet name, something like Cupcake. Thoughts? Have you named your Garmin? If so, what's it's name and how'd you get it?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

So Excited!!!

So this is a short post, but I had to share this. My husband is the best... I know, I've said it before, but he just keeps doing things to totally blow my mind! My hubby gave me my gift early- a Garmin Forerunner 310XT. I get to use it for the rest of my races this year! Yippee!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sears Runner's Wish List Catalog

This is inspired by Baby Weight My Ass' post about the Sears Wish List Catalog. And I now firmly believe there should be a catalog for runners full of pages of toys, gadgets, and gear that will make me dream of sugar plums. And just like when I was little, I surely would peruse each page, careful not to miss any possible treasure.

And I would dog ear all the pages that contained the goods I felt I truly deserved for being a good girl all year.

And I would leave the catalog right where my hubby could find it (on his side of the bed? Or maybe on top of his laptop? Oh, I know! Inside his favorite magazine (a silly little allusion to my favorite holiday movie...)! Or I guess I could just post it on my blog which I know he reads...) so he'd know exactly what to get me.

And because my husband loves me so much, he'd understand my secret wish list code- stars next to the items I wanted and hearts surrounding those items I had always dreamed of having.

And so here's my Running Catalog Wish List.

Star- A new running skirt from RunningSkirts. Something girly and fun... maybe the cheetah print? But I'll trust your judgement, honey.

Star- A pony tail hat for running from Bondi Bands. My ears are super cold lately.

Star-I guess I could use some more Cliff Bloks in my stocking. I really like Black Cherry (with a shot of caffine. I need that extra boost).

Heart- Garmin 310XT. I. MUST. HAVE. THIS.

Heart- I really need a new pair of running tights. I love that these are slightly boot cut and look somewhat fashionable (at least compared with my skin tight tapered running tights-- not the most flattering fit for a curvy girl...) I like these No Chill pants from Moving Comfort. And along with the next item, I'd look so super cute!

Heart- This adorable half zip from Athleta. Gush!

Heart- The most amazing shoes ever. The Asics Gel Noosa Tri 6. I have no idea if this shoe would work for me, but I want it. Bad.
So happy Black Friday all. May all your running wish list dreams come true.

And I should be honest... my husband is sending me out to buy my X-mas present today-- a Garmin 310XT! See why I heart him so much!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turkey Trot 5K Race Recap

Okay, so this will have to be a fast one... I have exactly 20 minutes before I need to get back into the kitchen to work on my appetizer for dinner. At least I'm not making the entire dinner this year!

So this morning was the Annual YMCA 5K Turkey Trot in Towson. My plan was to attempt to finish in 31 minutes or less so I could use this race to qualify for the National Half Marathon. My fastest ever 5K race was 32:56. That's a lot to shave off in 3 miles.

I woke up at 6 to hear rain pounding on our sky light. But I thought, "Hey, I've woke up to rain on a race day before. No need to worry. 1: it's just a 5K. And 2: Lots of times the rain stops before the start. And sure enough, once I got into my car, the rain stopped; well, for a little while, anyway. When I got to Towson, the rain started up again. I thought, "No big deal; I've run in rain before."

I spotted Katye of Long Legs on the Loose with her family. To make it to 31 minutes, I thought I'd keep up with Katye for as long as possible. I figured with her speed, if I could cut it with her for at least a mile, I'd get a lot closer to my goal (look, she's not called Long Legs on the Loose for nothing! This girl if FAST, especially for a penguin like me). She's such a sweet bubble of positive energy. She always makes me feel like an amazing runner. And I really LOVED starting with her and her family.

So long story short... Well, I didn't qualify today. In fact, I had one of my worst 5K times ever (with the exception of the race run in 100 degree temps). But I am totally and completely cool with this. In fact, I'm pretty happy with how I did today.

And the biggest reason why I am okay with what would normally be considered a begin to sob bad time: I kept up with Katye for a whole mile. And I kept her in my sight up until about 1.25 miles into the race. When I was finally brave enough to look at our pace, we were running a 8:30 mile. Just so you know how much of a big deal this is for me, the fastest I've ever been on race day is 10:30. After that 1.25 miles, I just couldn't cut it and ended up slowing down, eventually walking with a cramp in my side. But I started back up eventually, just no where near as fast as the start.

And the second reason I'm feeling pretty good about this race: Not only did it rain the entire run, it also sleeted. Yes, I ran with sleet slapping me in the face. I just had to laugh. This was a tough race; it was seriously hilly, blisteringly cold, and raining and sleeting the entire time. The rain did stop, however, just in time for me to get in my car and turn on the heat. Too funny!

So today, I ran a 37:00 minute 5K, but I'm cool with that. I get to eat that pecan pie I've been drooling about for two days, and even better, I realized I am capable of being fast. Even though I could only do it for 1.25 miles today, with a little extra training (and maybe slowing down just a tad), I can make it to the running time of my dreams, which will hopefully be a reality in time to qualify for the National Half Marathon!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!

PS: I am so very thankful for my little family. My little guy joined my husband and I in bed this morning. What a lovely way to wake up, to absolute and unconditional love.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dante's Infernal Guide to Running

I'm a total dork and absolutely love Dante's Inferno. And I love teaching it even more-- call it torturing children if you may, but my kids always end up loving the Inferno. This year, I assigned them to create their own guide through whatever "hell" they choose and to use Gustave Dore's illustrations. I made a model for them called "Mrs. Jones's Infernal Guide to Distance Running". I'm including it for you viewing pleasure... (one of my favorites from my students- the Infernal Guide to Surviving Your English Teacher-- too funny!)

So here's the Infernal Guide to Distance Running. Enjoy!

Waking up early in the morning to get a run in before work can sometimes be Hell.

Running hills with a jogging stroller and a 35 pound toddler can seem particularly difficult, but all hills that go up, must eventually go down.

Running in inclement weather can sometimes be a struggle. Support from a running group can help you finish.

Never run from stray dogs. Unless you want a little adrenaline rush. A dog nipping at your heels is a sure way to PR.

Watch out for the wildlife when running on nature trails. It is not uncommon for deer, fox, or other such animals to jump out, or even worse, for a skunk to make its presence known. And for those running in grass, snakes may be underfoot.

Running in the sweltering heat of summer can be particularly dangerous and can seem to make your blood boil. Be sure to stay hydrated. (Just in case you don't get the joke (if it really is one, this is the river of boiling blood- my students LOVE this Canto in Inferno.)

For races with thousands of runners, it can sometimes take an eternity to cross the start. Be patient.

Watch out for those who might crash at the finish line of a long distance race. You don’t want to trip over them. No need to hurt your ankle.

Near the end of your race, it may seem as if your legs might fall off. No matter what happens, get to the finish line; crawl if you have to. You trained too hard to not finish for any reason.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Just what I needed...

with my BFF at a wedding this summer

I drove to just outside Philly this weekend to spend some time with my best friend, Marianne, who has known me since I was 13. I have had almost 20 years of friendship with her. No one knows me the way she does, and I am so thankful for this weekend with her.

Only Marianne would buy tickets for me to the Cleopatra exhibit at the Franklin Institute... and go with me (unlike my hubby, lol) because she knows I'm the only person in the world who would "dork out to Cleopatra" like her. And I absolutely adore her even more for not making total fun of me when I got a little too excited before we walked through the entrance to the exhibit. I was acting as if I was really going to meet Cleopatra. In my defense, it was a very dramatic entryway, and I am prone to being swept up in the moment. (If you're a history dork like me, go see this exhibit before it leaves in early January! If you're going to the race in Philly next weekend, it'd be a great activity.)

Only Marianne would encourage and inspire me to dance with total abandon in a bar where we were the only patrons. I guess the DJ felt like we should get the full experience and turned on the disco ball just for us...

And only Marianne would encourage me to invoke my inner rock star and sing Tina Turner's "Proud Mary" while attempting to dance like Tina at karaoke. And then when I didn't sound so rock star (or dance so Tina), only Marianne would convince me I danced and sang like a pro.

Spending time with my best girlfriend was better than any mood boosting medicine on the market... just what I needed.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Yes, my shirt works...

I'm back on track. I had a great run this evening. I got home a tad late so my run didn't start until a little after 5. By the time I got home, it was pitch black. I hadn't taken into account the time change and how it would affect my after work running. (Opps! Thank goodness for my see me from space orange reflective shirt!)

Anyhoo, I started out really slow. Why is that first mile SO hard? I took a little 20 second breather at the end of the 1st mile (which is at the top of a hill), but then didn't need to stop for the rest of my run. In fact, I could have finished all 5 miles without a single stop. That didn't exactly happen though (but I'm super happy I didn't have to stop on account of my body pleading for rest). I guess I was so excited to run I didn't think logically about my route and the impending darkness of tripping/falling doom. I decided to run the route with sidewalks that were pretending to be on the San Andres fault. I mean seriously, this is Maryland. It doesn't get any further away from earthquakes. What's up with the side walks here? The last mile I had to walk or full out stop a lot due to my inability to see. In most cases, it was because a vehicle decided to flash their high beams at me. I guess they wanted to test out my super reflective shirt. I can assure you, and the multiple drivers that blinded me (I actually stopped and had to laugh because I was so blinded. I might have well have been running with my eyes closed) that my shirt's reflective strips works-- well.

Once I got to a wider road and was able to run on pavement, I was grooving. I have no way of knowing how fast though because my Nike+ Sports band decided to erase my run before it was loaded. I'm going to be so happy when Christmas comes around. Oh, did I tell you? My hubby and mom have decided to split the cost of a Garmin 310XT. I will be so happy to throw this sports band on the ground and jump up and down on it (okay, it hasn't been that bad, but it isn't doing the job I wish it would and I can't wait for a watch that says "Yeah, I'm a runner" to everyone who sees it).

So was my time all that great tonight, no. But it would have been if I didn't have to contend with the pitch dark. And I'm elated about how I felt. I really felt my legs come back on this run. No more fighting all the way through. No more disappointment in myself that all the hard work I'd done to finish my last half was lost. That high was back and I really needed it (tonight my husband is actually happy to spend time with me. I haven't been the sweetest wife since I've been having running issues. Let's just say that I was one step away from Linda Blair Exorcist crazy).

So here's to the runner's high. May we all get a little tipsy to a great run. Cheers

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Lace It Up and Run's Birthday Party Virtual Race Recap

Okay, so this has been a really rough two weeks for running. It's not that I don't have the desire to run, I do. It's just once I get out there, I don't have any energy to finish or to even keep running. It seems after all the hard work I did to get a PR for my half marathon 3 weeks ago, I can't seem to push myself. My body and legs just kind of fizzle out and I'm having a hard time finding my rhythm. And I seem to come up with a lot of excuses for why I can't run. I guess they're valid excuses (planning Pickle's 3rd birthday party, a sick Pickle, having to finish college recommendation letters for a number of students-- and College Park has a no late policy on rec letters, so it's always a mad finish), but before the half I just didn't let life get in the way. I forced life to work around my running schedule.

Last week, I skipped my long run and said I would do it on Monday, thinking I'd be finished with my grades early. My grades took forever and I wasn't finished before 3 p.m. and I hadn't had any lunch by that point. So I put off my run to the next day. On Tuesday I ran 4 miles; I should have run at least 6 to try to catch up, but I didn't have time before it got to dark. So on Thursday, I had 3.1 miles or more scheduled for Christina's birthday. I wanted to do them before my personal training session, but I only had time for 2.3 miles; I ran those at an 11 miles pace. So I had to finish up on Friday, and was a lot slower. All added together, I spent about 36 minutes running my 3.1, pretty slow, but I got it all in.

So last week and Christina's birthday run didn't go as planned, but hey, I'll get back in the groove. I'm a little bummed that I've lost the speed and distance I had under my belt before the race, but as my trainer, Becky, has told me a few times after I have a bad running week, if we didn't have bad weeks or bad runs every once in a while, we wouldn't work as hard to get better. And besides, a bad run (or a few over a couple of weeks) makes a great run all that much better.

I hope you had a very happy birthday, Christina.
Here's to many years of great runs ahead of you (and us all)! I'm eating the most delicious cupcake in your honor-- White Chocolate Cranberry. Yum! I meant to only eat half since I didn't get my full run in, but I couldn't stop myself.

If I can't convince you - - I'll at least confuse you.: "300" - Soul Coughing [+ giveaway]

I absolutely adore this blog. She is amazing; her posts are funny, insightful, a little zany, and I never know what to expect. She just hit her 300th post. Run on over and congratulate her (and she's giving away a few cool shirts...)

So in honor of Emz, I thought I'd make a list of why I love her blog so much (and why I want to be like her).

1. Her abs. Seriously. I've never seen anything like them. They put Jean Claude Van Damme's to shame.
2. Somehow her blog is always stylish and her posts are unique. I keep trying to figure out if there is a method to her madness in playing with font size. Is she choosing certain words on purpose (you know the English teacher is always looking for the hidden meaning). I don't know how she comes up with these things. (And she herself is pretty stylish.)
3. She recently ran (and finished) a 50 mile race, and probably faster than it would take me to finish a marathon.
4. She really loves her kid... you know I'm a sap and get teary eyed at that.
5. I always get ideas for music to add to my playlist.

I'm sure there's more, but she's so cool I'm just not doing her justice. Seriously. Go and read her blog. I can't get enough of it. If I only have time to read one blog each day, this is the one.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Positive steps to a healthy diet

I'm on the right track to achieve one of my new half marathon goals. I'm making an effort to eat better, to make sure every bite I take is nutritious for my body and provides the fuel I need. Basically, I want to eat to run and not run to eat as I have been in the past. So I've made three major changes that seem to be working (and I've discovered my healthy eating doesn't work when I don't follow this plan).

1. I make my breakfast and lunch the night before. I'm a zombie when I wake up. I commute almost an hour to the school where I teach and I have to be there-- and back to the land of the living-- by 7 a.m. I've been using Ellie Krieger's cookbook So Easy for a while. I got it as a present for Christmas last year. (It's a great book and is organized for busy people to cook healthy and delicious meals. Check it out HERE... I know. This is probably the 4th time I've mentioned it, but seriously, it's a great cookbook!) I'm posting my favorite breakfast recipe from her book below. It's so tasty and satisfying and takes no time to make. Before, I'd eat breakfast and be hungry in 2 hours. Now, I have at least 4 hours before I need to eat lunch (which helps me cut an extra 150-200 calories out of my day since I don't need a mid-morning snack).

2. My husband and I have been planning our dinners for the week when we grocery shop. We also talk about what we're going to have for dinner the following night. This way, we make sure the meat (or in most cases for us fish-- we've been eating a lot of salmon and tilapia) we need is defrosted. This has helped us cut back on our last minute meal planning which usually consists of fast food, delivery food, or processed box crap. While sometimes the calorie count is a little higher for our dinners-- 550-700 calories-- we're eating healthy foods and I feel good about that.

3. I've been trying to track my calorie count each day. I've done this in the past and found it to be very successful for losing weight. If I had an Iphone, I'd use the Lose It app, but alas, I do not have an Iphone. This time I'm using the Calorie Count (see it HERE) website to track my diet. It's wonderful! Not only does it have the best database for foods, and not only does it track my calories for the day, it tracks my calorie output which includes my activity for the day. And this site gives me nutrition information about my diet that no other site I've found does. It tells me if I've had too much, too little, or just the right amount of sodium, potassium, calcium, Vitamin C, protein, carbohydrates, fats... basically it tells me EVERYTHING (and give me a grade for my daily diet). It is incredibly thorough, but the most wonderful thing about it, it only takes a minute for me to enter each meal. Oh, and I forgot to mention... IT'S FREE!

So here's that promised recipe:
Cinnamon Raisin Toast with Honey-Walnut Spread

1/2 c. walnut pieces
1/2 c. plain Greek-style nonfat yogurt
2 tsp. honey
8 slices cinnamon raisin bread
1 peach, pear, or apple sliced

Toast walnuts in a dry skillet over medium-high heat stirring frequently until fragrant, 3-5 minutes. Allow them to cool slightly and then chop them finely. (I have been just leaving them as is to save time.)
In a small bowl, add walnuts to the yogurt and honey and stir until well combined. This spread keeps in the fridge for 3 days. Just stir well before using.
When ready to serve, toast the bread and cut the fruit into small slices. Spread about 1 tbsp of spread onto each piece and top with fruit slices.

YUMMY and perfect for fall.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Reasons I Love My Son

Pickle, this is you 1 day after you were born resting in your Daddy's lap.

1. Pickle, you inspired me to write this post tonight by combing my hair and saying it was beautiful (or boo- tiful in your words). You also told me I was pretty and cute. It should be known that my hair looks like I just styled it for a Bride of Frankenstein remake and I haven't showered today. I don't think I look pretty, cute, or boo-tiful, but I do feel amazing, thanks to you.

2.You're letting me breathe a sigh of relief tonight by finally eating vegetables and a protein (at least for today). Tonight you ate half a cucumber, 2 carrots, and a bowl full of homemade baked beans. You refused to eat the ham in the beans, but hey, I'll take two out of three. I've been wondering if it was possible for a toddler to choose to be a vegetarian. Even so, if you are a vegetarian, we're going to have to work on your diet. Oatmeal, raisins , milk, and yogurt are not a well rounded diet. For those of you who aren't Pickle, check out the baked beans recipe HERE. It's a delish and healthy recipe by my fave cooking show host, Ellie Krieger.

3. I was really worried about how you were going to do last night trick-or-treating with your peanut and tree nut allergies and our neighbors giving out the good candy-- Snickers, Reese's cups, and other nutty yummies. Lately, Daddy and I have been talking with you about food that would hurt your belly and require you to get another shot (I know you didn't like that EpiPen shot; it was not pleasant for any of us, but especially you. The needle was insanely long!). I told you last night that you would have to ask permission to eat anything. I got a little nervous when your little friends were nibbling on their treats every few houses, but Pickle, you did exactly what you were supposed to. I am so proud of you.

4. After a long day, or even after a horrible day, cuddling with you, Pickle, just sets my mind right. I love holding and hugging you just before bed while listening to you breathe as you fall asleep-- there is no better peace in my day.

5. Giving birth to you taught me how strong I really was, which in turn gave me a new love, running. I would have never realized I was strong enough to run had I not made it through 12 hours of labor without drugs.

6. Watching you play with Daddy reaffirms all the reasons I love him. And no one makes you laugh like Daddy.

7. I was always annoyed when people said this before I became a mother, but here goes. Becoming a mother changed everything for me. A lot of things that used to upset me just aren't as important anymore. Instead of hanging on to anger like I used to, I vent and complain for a little to my girlfriends and I'm okay. That's thanks to you.

8. I feel like being your mom has taught me to be a little more patient (although I'm sure Daddy might disagree-- hehe) and has taught me to laugh a little bit more.

9. Being your mom makes me want to always be a better person. I want to do good deeds; I want to be fit; I want to eat better. All of this is to teach you how to become a good man.

10. Being your mom has made me realize the unfathomable and unlimited amount of love that exists for one's child (I get it now Mom and Dad).

I could go on forever with this kind of list making, but I'll stop since you're only three (well, almost. You'll be three in 5 days) and can't read yet. So Pickle, thank you for letting me be your mommy. It's the best job I've ever had, and it is a job I am happy to do for eternity.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


So I've had an insanely busy week and didn't have time to post, but I have been reading a few here and there. Here's a run-down of the craziness (most of which has been awesome!).

1. Last Friday- in Annapolis w/ hubby to eat a full 7 course meal prepared by our chef friend Danny. Holy moly... I've never been so amazingly over the top in heaven over food. Nor have I been so stuffed before but somehow managed to continue eating because I was afraid of what I was missing or afraid of never eating anything that good again. Check out his restaurant, West End Grill if you live in the Maryland area or are coming in for a visit.

2. Last Saturday- still in Annapolis. I forgot all my running gear except clothes and shoes. I had 6 miles planned and since I had no idea how far I was going without a way to track it, I just ran for however long I wanted. I was out for about an hour; it was amazing. I ran through St. John's College campus which was founded in 1697 and all through historic Annapolis. I can't believe I was running on sidewalks that were over 300 years old! I ran around the Gov. mansion and attempted to run through the Naval Academy but was chased down by a security guard... Opps! I forgot my ID. :)

3. Last Sunday- dinner with the in-laws and Pickle. Delish.

4. Tuesday- check up with Doc. He said I was in great health and was pleased with my blood pressure and overall fitness level. After I brought up my concerns with my nutrition, my family history of diabetes and obesity, and my outside body not matching my activity level, he referred me to a nutritionist who specializes in nutrition for endurance athletes! Score! I have an appointment for 2 weeks from now.

5. Thursday- Pickle got sick on his daycare providers doorstep. Gross. Thankfully the hubby was in charge of drop-off. I was supposed to go to my personal training session to work on my core, but didn't due to the little man being sick and the big man being exhausted from cleaning up throw-up all day.

6. Friday- took off of work to stay with Pickle in case he was sick. He wasn't. By 9 a.m. he was jumping all over the couch and yelling/singing "10 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed". He was also screaming out the front door about being a Superhero. Glad Pickle is better. :) So I went to the gym to make-up for my missed training session. My awesome trainer emailed me the whole routine so I could do it. I did her workout and the killer leg/butt workout from several weeks ago. Bad idea. I should have stuck to one or the other. My butt still hurts.

7. Saturday/yesterday- We went to the Rally to Restore Sanity. Wow! I have lived in the DC/Baltimore Metro area my entire life and have been to a number of large events/protests/rallies. I have NEVER seen anything like this. I had to wait in a line for about 45 minutes just to get to the Metro (subway) platform. Again, I have never seen this before. People were jammed shoulder to shoulder from 3rd to 7th street on the National Mall and as we were leaving at 1:30, people were still coming in droves. Despite all the people, the crowds, the lines, somehow people were still polite, considerate, and generally friendly. If anyone bumped into me, most turned around to apologize. People made friends/small talk in the 45 minute line to get on the metro. And it took about 45 minutes to travel the usual 15 minutes into the city.
People made jokes and kept a sunny disposition (especially about the couple making out in front of everyone... We were so packed in like sardines that I couldn't look anywhere but in their direction. My mother-in-law and I giggled about it the entire ride into the city). And even though I couldn't see or hear any of the rally, I had a great time.

8. Today Pickle and I are going out trick-or-treating (it's a football day for hubby. We have an understanding during football season...). I had to include a few pics of him in his costume. He's a fireman... Oh sorry. Fire Chief (his words). Pretty cute, huh?

This should be interesting given his food allergies to peanuts and tree nuts, but I don't want to punish him for his allergies by taking away trick-or-treating. I'm going to use the opportunity to teach him about his allergies and that he needs to ask a grown-up to make sure he can eat the food (until he can read labels himself). We're also going to visit Mrs. Christine at Icedgems for a cupcake. Little ones get a free cupcake if they come in costume. Score!

Happy Halloween everyone!

(and if any of you have ideas about how to teach a 3 year-old about food allergies, please pass them along... run4cupcakes at gmail dot com. Thanks!)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

New Goals

I am a firm believer in goals. Since I started running 2 1/2 years ago, my first goal was to run 1 mile without stopping. I never imagined I'd run and finish a half marathon (let alone two!). I now realize that all I need to do is set little goals to help me reach larger aspirations, aspirations that let me become the woman want to be. The woman who is strong and proud. Fierce and bold. Determined and ambitious.

I had three goals to accomplish with the Baltimore Half Marathon:
1. Get a PR. Check.
2. Have NOTHING left once I cross the finish line. Check.
3. Get faster and get as close as I could to a 2:30 finishing time. Ehhh... not exactly met, but I don't know if I could have reached that goal Saturday. I really did my best, so I'll cut myself some slack.

I was thinking it might be time for some new running goals. Here they are.

1. I want to run the National Half. It will be on my 33rd birthday and I can think of no better way to spend my birthday than running and celebrating my health. Okay... spending time with my family is great, too, but I'd like to combine them. If I get to run, earn a medal, and spend time with my loved ones, that's a great day. Plus, I plan on eating two cupcakes for my birthday, so I'll need to burn quite a few calories. To run the National, I will need to finish in 2:30. This means I will need to shave a minute off each mile. I know I can do it. I just need to come up with a plan. I took a few extra walk breaks that what I needed. It might shave a couple of minutes off my time if I only walk during my water breaks (I hate drinking and running at the same time! What a mess!). I will also need to qualify for the half. I was thinking I'd run a 5K, and will have to finish in 31 minutes. I've never gotten below a 32 minute finishing time, but I know how hard I can push myself now.

2. So this is kind of part of the last goal, but I want to make it it's own category. I want to start running faster. I want to push myself to run a 10 minute mile for longer amounts of time. Sure, I can already run a 10 minute mile, but I can't keep the pace for any more than 2 miles. After 2 miles, I slow down to 10:30 or 11 minute miles.

3. Take my nutrition more seriously so I have better fuel for running. I don't really pay much attention to what I'm eating other than carbo loading. I want to focus more on veggies and lean meats and limit (almost excluding) all processed foods. My hubby says he's been thinking the same thing about his diet. I think if the two of us come up with a plan for our meals, we should be able to do better.

4. Lose 10 pounds by the National Half through eating better. This will make it easier for my body to carry me at a faster pace.

5. Strength training. I need to do it. My muscles are weak. I can feel a potential injury coming in my knee if I don't take this seriously. I'm already in a small personal training group focusing on the core that will start today, and I'd like to add one more day of strength training per week using this deadly leg workout. And this is the same workout I tried a few weeks and nearly killed myself. I'm determined to do this workout so much that I don't even feel any pain.

I'll keep my goals at 5, which might be too much. So I'll simplify.
1. I want to get faster.
2. I want to eat better to lose weight.
3. I want to get stronger.

There. Now I just have to figure out how to achieve these goals. I'm going to take it slow. Nothing great happens over night. I need to do some research about our meals. We need quick and healthy meals during the week (if anyone has any good standby recipes, please share!).

I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My first race recap!

Baltimore Half Marathon Race Recap in Photos (and a little extra...)

I felt like I prepped well for this half. I was well rested and hydrated and finished packing everything for the race by Friday afternoon, which alleviated some of my anxiety.

I woke up really early on Saturday morning, 5 a.m., which was far earlier than what I had planned. But I was pumped up, so I decided to get up and give myself a little time to chill out. I loved having a 9:45 start time! I had my coffee at 5 and had lots of time to hydrate before my hour before race cut off time; I decided to cut off my water an hour before the race so I would have enough time to... well... flush out. (Remember, my Thimblelina bladder...). I'm happy to say it worked like a charm! I didn't have any pee jitters through the race. In face, oddly enough, I didn't have too many jitters. I think it had a lot to do with my peaceful morning and not facing any traffic on the way in (it was odd... I think it was a good omen).

Omari, Erin and I met at Camden Yards with an hour to spare before the start. Here we are before we got all gross!

We started strong and I was feeling really relaxed and energetic while running. All three of us stayed together for about the first 1 1/2 miles. Omari and I left Erin (who also got a PR!) and I really pushed myself. I didn't even feel like I had gone too far after my first six miles. I was having a great time. I think those tights really helped. I was getting a lot of crowd support ("Crazy Legs", "Rainbow Bright", "Tie Dye Girl") and it was pushing me along.
After those first 6 miles, I started to feel energy draining from my legs. They definitely weren't feeling fresh (and understandably so!). But one of my goals was to finish with NOTHING left in my tank. So I pushed on without walking too much. I only walked at the water stops. (I can't seem to run and get the water in my mouth yet.) Each time I would start to slow up or if my breathing got out of control, Omari would talk me into speeding up or calming down my breathing. He really is a great running partner (especially given that he can finish these in a little over an hour and a half and he chooses to run with me to give me support).

By the time I got to mile 9, my hamstrings were on fire. Omari asked me not to look at my watch anymore (any runner knows how impossible that is.) I told him he was crazy, and he asked me, "Do you want that negative split?" So I trusted him and stopped looking at my watch. He told me to keep at his hip and given that he's about a foot taller than me, that was tough at points!

For the last three miles, we ran about a 10:00-10:30 mile, and he made me sprint the last half a mile. I thought I was going to collapse. My quads hurt so bad I was sure I was going to get a cramp at any moment (but I didn't). I told Omari I needed to stop; he told me no... so I punched him in the arm. Thankfully he forgives me. I really thought I wasn't going to make it. And then I saw my hubby D near the finish cheering for me. He made me so happy I wanted to cry, but instead I felt a little more wind pushing me (which was all metaphorical because somehow the wind, which was strong, never seemed to be at our back even when we looped back around. How is that even possible?). This is the picture D took; you can see Omari yelling that I'm not at his hip.

My form is horrible. But I'm still plowing through. In fact, I think I ran faster than I ever have to the finish line. I'm not even sure my legs touched the ground. I couldn't feel anything other than pain in my quads. I got through the finish line (alive) at 2:42:54 and I got a negative split. I was totally psyched. Can you tell? I shaved off 22 minutes from my last half marathon time.
And I LOVE that Omari is such a good friend that he always lets me run just a tad a head of him so it looks like I'm a bit faster. That's a good friend! Thanks, O!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Finishing the Baltimore Half

I'm stoked. My official time: 2:42:54. I got a PR by 22 minutes! I'll post a race recap tomorrow, but I'm tuckered out and need a nap!

I stole this photo from Erin. Thanks Erin!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Race Day Outfit

Inspired by my running partner Erin for tomorrow's half marathon...

I decided to tone down my race day outfit a little. So now instead of wearing the florescent orange shirt, and risking people yell, "Oh my god! Here she comes! Put on your shades or shield your eyes!" as I run by, I decided to wear my pink shirt and the other running skirt Erin let me borrow. Now, I look a little more like, "Haha. Look at that runner. Those are some crazy tights."

sorry about the bad photo quality...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Running and Peace

This has been a rough week. One of my former students was killed in a car accident this weekend. Many of my thoughts have centered around his family, what it must be like for his parents, the other students I taught who I know are in pain and suffering at the loss of their good friend. I can't stop thinking about my student's mother and what she must feel like. On top of that, I've been having a little anxiety lately about the half this weekend.

Basically, my hubby told me tonight that I've been in a horrible mood all week. He understood why, but he wanted me to be aware of it.

I didn't get to run earlier this week. I was just so exhausted. I don't know if it was work, or the emotional sadness about my student, or maybe a lack of sleep, but all I wanted to do all week was crawl under the covers and sleep forever.

So this evening, I went for a nice little run. Nothing crazy, just a 40 min run to set my mind right. Wouldn't you know that it turns out my legs do remember how to run. And it turns out that I can still run hills even though my last hill run was two weeks ago.

The weather was perfect; crisp and cool air, chilly enough that I needed to wear a long sleeve shirt. I chose my insanely orange reflective running shirt since it was dusk. I don't really remember what I was thinking about. I just might have been thinking about nothing, which was refreshing. I do remember what I saw though; a whole family of deer ran across the field next to where I run. It was a beautiful sight seeing them leap across the field-- so graceful and elegant. I just made me feel better. I have no idea why. Maybe it was seeing something so beautiful in nature instead of just cars zooming past me. Maybe it was just a connection to other good running days when deer decided to show themselves. Whatever the reason, it brought me a moment of happiness and peace, and for that I am thankful.

Tomorrow I will go to the Expo and pick up my runner's packet. And Friday I will go to my student's viewing. I'm sad to say that I've gone to others and I know how difficult it will be. And Saturday I'm going to run my race. My hope is to do the same thing I did tonight. Take in the sights and find my peace. And just be thankful- for my family, my friends, and my life.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

4 Thoughts 4 days before the Baltimore Half Marathon:

1. Once again, I'm panicking (big surprise, right?). I'm a worry wart by nature and this time I have 1,000 questions racing (haha... corny Dad joke) through my mind. Did I taper too soon? Will my body remember how to finish 13.1 miles? Will I still have this nagging pain/feeling right at the point where my knee and quad meet (I forget what it's called) on race day? Will I make it to the race on time... wait. That deserves it's very own thought.

2. Many of my thoughts are revolving around how I'm getting to the race. The issue is that the half starts at 9:45. The marathon, however, starts at 8:30 and streets all around Baltimore shut down at about 8, which means many of the routes to the race will be closed. I also hear that traffic backs up for miles as people try to get to get into the city for the race. I've been driving my hubby crazy about this for two weeks already. He told me he'd just drop me from a plane so I could parachute in. I considered it. I think he has come up with a better plan that throwing me out of a plan now. We're dropping our son off at my in-laws at 7 a.m. and will then drive to the B-more Metro or Light Rail so we can avoid traffic and parking issues. The problem is that it will be a 45 min to hour drive to the station from my in-laws and then possibly 30-45 minutes to Camden Yards and then another 15 minute walk to the Start Line. I'm totally freaking out that I'll be in a mad rush though and won't be able to use the bathroom. Which brings me to my next thought.

3. I hope I don't pee myself at the race. I know. TMI and what am I? Three years old? But two 5Ks ago, I went to the bathroom 2 times before the race started-- I'm talking 20 minutes before the race started. At the halfway point, I got the overwhelming urge to pee, to the point that I had to stop racing and run across the street to the fire house and beg to use their bathroom. Again, that was only a 3.1 mile race and I was 15 minutes from the start. I'm praying my thimble bladder (or Thimblelina as my running partner Erin calls it) will hold out at least to a port-a-potty that isn't disgusting.

4. I'm really excited to meet my goal of beating my last half time, which I feel optimistic towards accomplishing. I trained hard since July, but I'm worried about the last two weeks. I took a few days off running to heal my knee. I hope it doesn't hurt my race. (And I really hope the race doesn't hurt my knee.)

I'm going to try to take a few deep breaths and keep all this in perspective. I know I can finish the 13.1 because I have before. Keeping calm seems nearly impossible, though. I'm an emotional mess for a variety of reasons, but more on that later.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Loving My Family

My brother, me, and my Aunt B before our run

Today I was blessed with a day that reminded me of how amazing each of my family members truly is. I drove to Joppatowne to run in Mariner Point Park (and it was an absolutely perfect day). My mom, brother, sister-in-law (soon to be), nephew, and aunt all joined me. It was wonderful. I thought I'd make notes on why I love them and am so thankful for them all.

1. My hubby: There are a lot of things I love about him, but without him taking care of Pickle for hours on end on long run days, I wouldn't ever be able to run. Today he took Pickle with him to the gym while Pickle was wearing a full fireman's costume--boots, hat, jacket and all. And even though my man was wiped from biking at the gym (he told me he was a little jealous at the amount of calories I burn on a long run and he felt he should
try to keep up. :)) he went with me to the art festival in Baltimore. And he stopped at the cupcake shop on the way home tonight because he knew I needed to get my Long Run Cupcake. I love that man.

2. Pickle: For being the cutest (and funniest) little guy ever. He
decided to show me a mouth full of chewed up Oreos at dinner tonight (as the picture shows. Don't worry; that's not rotted teeth). Apparently he's still working on table manners.

3. My bro, A: He ran 4 of my 6 miles with me today even though I know the shrapnel in his knee was killing him. He's one of my favorite people to run with, and I love him and his big heart. I kept thinking about what he was sacrificing to run with me (and all the sacrificing he's done in the past, especially as a soldier at war).

4. My Aunt B: First of all, she's a hottie. Second, besides my mother, she's been the most important female role model in my life. She taught me to love classic literature, what it meant to be a feminist, how to cook tofu, and apparently taught me to love running. She's been a runner my entire life and is still running in her 60's). She travels all over the world and her running shoes are the first thing she packs. Being able to run with her made today perfect.

5. My mom: She gave me life (and was a great mom to boot). Nothing more needs to be said, but she's always my #1 cheerleader. After we'd only gone 1/4 mile today, she cheered for while we ran the trail as if we were running a marathon. I wish I had her at every quarter mile for every race I ever run. I also really respect that she walked the 2 mile loop to get some exercise. She has MS and walking can be difficult for her at times, but she's been working toward losing some weight and is doing a great job.

6. Sis-in-Law M: I love my bro, but I know he is not easy to live with. I can safely say this because I lived with him for our entire childhood. (I can also safely say that neither am I, so add another reason to why my husband is awesome). Just for that she deserves an award, but she's also an great mom to my nephew. And she waited for us while we ran and kept my mom company.

7. My nephew, P: Seriously. Does anyone need to know why I love him? Look at how stinkin' cute he is... and he's ALWAYS smiling and laughing. He's just a reminder of why we all should be blissfully happy. :)

8. My dad (no picture...): Well, he wasn't there today. He's in NY fishing for salmon, and hopefully bringing home some delicious fresh caught salmon for us. (Hopefully my dad and I will go fishing soon. He made me a beautiful fly fishing rod and I can't wait to use it!)

Here's to always remembering the important people in our lives.