Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry {Day After} Christmas

I hope everyone had a merry Christmas! My Christmas ended up being extremely quiet, but still wonderful.

Christmas Eve started out with an easy 6.25 mile run on the treadmill at the gym. Needed to get in a good run before any Christmas goodies! Plus, I needed to keep the Runner's World Holiday Streak alive! After my run, I showered, got ready, packed up the car and headed up to my parents' house.

The moment I walked into the house I was told my dad had the flu. Every instinct in me wanted to turn around and go back home! I take every precautionary measure to not get sick on a daily basis and being around someone who had the flu sounded horrible!! But, my dad stayed upstairs most of the time (poor Dad!) so my mom and I could enjoy Christmas Eve together. We ate delicious crab legs and a salad for dinner, took silly pictures on the puppies and just got caught up on life, then watched a cheesy Christmas movie. It was a great night!

On Christmas Day my dad woke up feeling a little bit better so he could enjoy the festivities a little bit. I got in a quick mile and a half run on my parent's rickety treadmill (works great for walking, a little shaky for running!) to keep the streak alive, then my brother showed up and it was present opening time!

Honestly, I had asked for very little this Christmas, and everything had a running theme! I wanted needed new shoes, a Garmin and protein bars instead of candy. Well, I got everything I wished!! I got my shoes a few days earlier - I decided to go with the Mizuno Wave Riders since everyone raves about them - and my parents got me a Garmin. Yes!! My mom also did a great job of putting together a bag of protein bars to try, homemade almond butter and some peanut butter - perfect gifts for me! It was definitely a runner's Christmas for me!

The rest of the day was spent visiting with my family, eating a delicious ham dinner, playing with the dogs in the snow and, of course, eating Christmas treats. Overall it was a wonderful Christmas with my family!!

Until next time~

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Why I Run

As I enter day 25 of my personal running streak and day 21 of the Runner's World Holiday Streak, I know there are some people who think I'm crazy. I take no offense to that ("you're crazy" = a runner's favorite compliment!). I've covered over 100 miles already during this streak and I'm not slowing down anytime soon. But that brings to me a question I'm asked often ....

Why do I run??

Each and every day (well, now at least!) I put on my running gear, lace up my shoes and hit the pavement or treadmill for some sort of run. What drives me? What keeps me going mile after mile? 

I run because it's my therapy.
Running clears my mind. It relieves my stress. It can make headaches disappear. It takes my frustration and with each foot strike, leaves it on the pavement, even for just that moment in the run. I don't have any deep, meaningful thoughts when I run, just the letting go of things weighing on me. Even just for that run, I feel lighter and happier.

I run because it makes me feel alive.
When I'm running outside, it's just God, nature and me and I just love that feeling, that connection. 

I run because it takes me out of my comfort zone.
Running has taught me to reach past my boundaries, step out of the quiet, comfortable life I'm building for just a bit. And it's in those moments outside of my comfort zone, the moments where I've felt discomfort, where I have really found strength in myself.

I run because it's a challenge.
I'm not the best or the fastest runner. When I started back in May, I honestly thought I wouldn't be able to do it. But I've improved so much in these past seven months and will continue to improve with each run, and each new distance and speed I attempt. It's all still so new to me and is never really easy. Running is a slow and sometimes painful process that is teaching me to be the best version of me.

I run because I love it. 
Plain and simple. There is no other way to describe it. I know many people don't understand that; they think running is painful or a punishment. But for me, it's not that. Running is freeing and a place of happiness. 

I don't run for weight loss or donuts or cake. Those aren't BAD reasons to run, they just aren't what drives me. I run for the pure joy of it. Even through the bad or hard runs, I can find something good. Every run is a blessing.

Why do you run??

Until next time~

Monday, December 16, 2013

Always Being the "Strong" One

I couldn't even begin to tell you how many times I've been told to "stay strong" or "be strong" since my husband passed away. It's what everyone tells you to do or how to hold up in the face of tragedy. Not that there's anything wrong with telling someone that; it's words of comfort to some people. And really, it is a good choice when dealing with tragedy; the best choice (in my opinion) is to let the tragedy strengthen you. However, I also think it's okay to NOT be strong some times. To break down, to cry, to yell and for once, not be the strong one.

Last Sunday my grandpa had a massive stroke. It definitely wasn't looking very positive for awhile last week and although he's making progress, he's far from being back to where he was and things change day-to-day so quickly we don't what to expect. Once again, I heard encouraging words of "stay strong" when I finally told people about it. I felt like I was pressured to visit him because I'm the "strong one" who can handle seeing my grandpa in that condition.

My honest reaction? Why do I always have to be the strong one? 

I've survived and stayed strong through losing Rod, losing a friend to cancer earlier this year and always, always was the strong one so everyone else could feel better, could grieve, could cry and break down. When is it my turn to NOT be strong? When is it okay for me to break down?

I'm trying. I promise I am. Trying to be strong even as my grandpa looks scared as I approach him. I don't know if he doesn't know who I am or what, but that look of fear on his face was heartbreaking. 

I'm trying to stay strong for my family because that's what I'm expected to be, but the stress and the pressure of being strong for everyone else is weighing on me. I know I'm fiercely independent and have survived a nightmare, but I'm also a little fragile. I know I'm supposed to be unbreakable, but I don't know if am. I know I'll get through this; we all will. Sometimes though, I want it to be okay to not be strong, to break down, to cry, to have someone take care of me. But I will figure it out, how to be the strong one now as we figure our way through this with my grandpa.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Holiday Streaking Update

So who is streaking this holiday season? 

And by streaking, I mean doing the Runner's World Holiday Streak, silly. This is a challenge the magazine puts forth to run at least one mile daily starting on Thanksgiving Day until New Year's Day. Sounds fun, right???


So today marks day 10 of the running streak, and day 14 of my personal running streak. Woot woot!! I can proudly say I have not missed a day!! Nor do I plan on missing any. No matter what, I will figure out how to get a run in every day!

Figuring out how many miles to run each day/ week will be a test for sure. Today I woke up extremely tired, with a headache and achy legs from all the running. I'm starting to foam roll and stretch a lot more after each run! Here is a recap of this last week ....

Sunday: 6.38 miles + squats and ab work
Monday: 1.12 miles (rest day!)
Tuesday: 6.02 miles + free weights, squats and planks
Wednesday: 4.05 miles + ab work and squats
Thursday: 3.3 miles + 5 miles bike + cable weights and planks
Friday: 5 miles + leg day and stability ball ab work and planks
Saturday: 5 miles + planks

Total Miles: 30.87 running + 5 miles bike = 35.87 total miles

I'm definitely covering a lot of miles! The week before I did 36.33 total miles, but less running miles. I did a few shorter runs, plus cross training on the elliptical and bike. I'm really starting to like those cross training days with the bike and am going to try to add more of those in next week! I like doing something different!!

This week I also fell on the ice after my first run in the snow on Wednesday. That slowed me down on weight lifting and Pilates. I really need to get those added back in because I miss them when I don't do them as often as I want. It's all about finding the right balance for my body.

I'm really looking forward to continuing with this streak. I'm hoping it will help make me a better, stronger, faster runner! I'm planning on tackling a few half marathons and my first full marathon next year so I need to become a better runner and am hoping this will help. 

I do wish the weather would get nicer though. Currently our temps our subzero and near 20 (or worse!) below with the windchill, which means I've been having to take too many runs on the dreadmill treadmill. Seriously, how do people do the treadmill daily? What I love about running is being outside, feeling my feet hit the pavement, enjoying the quiet nature and solidarity, and clearing my head. That just doesn't happen at the gym. Too many people and always some creepy old guy staring at me! Please get warmer weather!!

Covering the display really helps me get my miles in!

If you're streaking, I hope it's going well! If you're not and think I'm crazy, you can follow me on my journey on Twitter or Instagram. I try to post on those two daily about my runs and for support!

Until next time~

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Weighty Issue

About two months ago I was out with a "friend" who asked me how much I weigh. Now, I normally don't tell people how much I weigh. I don't think it's anyone's business other than mine, my doctors and maybe my parents. However, I'm also not embarrassed by it. I figured this person was a friend and wouldn't judge so I told her.

Her response? 
You weigh that much?? I feel so much better about myself now if you weigh so much!

To a person who has lost over 50 pounds and maintained that loss for about a year, I don't think I weigh "too much", but I found myself defending my weight.

Well, I lift weights three times a week, too so I'm not just "skinny."
I workout six days a week and eat pretty clean so I think that's healthy.
I wear the smallest size jeans they sell in women's sizing!
I've lost over 50 pounds, what's wrong with what I weigh? 
Am I supposed to weigh less??

But then I just stopped. Why do I need to defend my weight? My weight is in the healthy range, and I know there are plenty of people out there who say I'm too thin, so why was she shocked at my weight??

I tried talking with her about why she thought I weighed so much, and what I thought it meant to be healthy, but her only answer was that we should aim to weigh around 100 pounds. Women are "supposed to be" super skinny. Seriously.

I think some people just put too much pressure on that number of the scale. They let that number define them. I know I struggle with it when my weight fluctuates, but after a year of maintenance, I'm finally realizing that my weight is going to fluctuate occasionally. And it usually has nothing to do with how I'm eating or actual weight gain. It's hormones, water weight, etc. It always levels back out at my "normal" weight. 

Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves, or others, to weigh a certain amount? Why does that matter so much? And why would someone who is 5'8 want to weigh 103 pounds? That isn't even a healthy weight for my 5'4 frame! 

I'm trying not to put so much pressure on myself for what the scale says. I know that I'm healthy. I run every day (because I'm doing the Runner's World Holiday Streak!). I eat healthy and stay away from junk most of the time, but also allow treats. Although I do weigh myself often, I try not to let that number define me. I go by how my jeans fit. And honestly, once you have to start using a belt on your size 00 jeans and you're buying your running clothes in the girls' department not women's, you don't think you need to lose anymore weight! You actually start to think the opposite.

Now, this "friend" hasn't talked to me since that dinner date. Apparently I did my job of making her feel better about herself and I was promptly dumped. Which is okay, because I don't need people making me feel bad about myself just to make themselves feel better. Friendships shouldn't be based on that.

So, my question is, how do you respond to those who want to bring you down because of your weight? Or something similar? Why aren't we lifting each other up rather than tearing each other down when we know how hard we can be on ourselves when it comes to weight??

Until next time~ 

Monday, December 2, 2013

MIMM: Thanksgiving and Birthday Weekend!

So I took a week off from blogging. I'm sorry! I wrote a couple of week's ago that I was in a crazy funk and it just got worse, I wasn't sleeping and I figured I shouldn't blog when I was in a place like that. However, I think I've gotten through the worst of it and am feeling much happier! I took the afternoon off work today and I think that, along with sleeping through the night last night, really helped. I felt happy today and even put up some Christmas decorations! My tree looks so pretty!!

Obviously last Thursday was Thanksgiving. I started the day off with the Turkey Trot in Minneapolis. It was so much fun!! I didn't run at a super fast pace. Actually I was supposed to run with my friends, but I lost them in the crowd of other runners! I just kept a pace that felt comfortable and enjoyed the run!

I then headed up to my parents' house for dinner (yum - turkey!!). It was a good day. I do have to say my favorite part of the meal was the peanut butter pie I made for dessert. It was heavenly!! I could eat that every day. I'm such a peanut butter addict!! I used this recipe except I used a graham cracker crust because I'm not a huge pretzel fan.

Thanksgiving was also the start of the Runner's World Holiday Streak. I did lots of running over the weekend. Turkey Trot on Thursday, 4 miles on Friday, 5 on Saturday and 6.3 on Sunday. Friday and Saturday were different since I was at my parents' and they live in the middle of nowhere on a dirt road. Dirt roads feel different than my usual paved trails! But it was fun with a nice change of scenery. Today I only did one mile since my body needs a rest day. I actually started the running streak early since I haven't had a day off since two Saturdays ago! Lots of running last week!! And I wonder why I'm so tired and worn out??! Ugh... my pace is so slow lately!!

My birthday was on Saturday and it was a quiet day spent with my family. I kicked the day off with a five mile run. I chose running over birthday pancakes! My mom, grandma and I went to see Frozen that day. Great movie and I highly recommend it! My mom made one of my favorite meals for dinner, chicken enchiladas, and my grandpa came over for cake and ice cream. The awesome necklace in the photo above is what my lovely parents got me for my birthday present!

That was my weekend. Lots of running, eating (wish I still had some of that peanut butter pie!!) and spending quality time with my family. It's all I needed! Now onto the rest of the week! It's going to be cold and snowy, but I WILL get my runs in for the holiday streak. No skipping out for me!! 

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Anyone else participating in the Holiday Streak?

Linking up for Marvelous in My Monday!! 

Until next time~

Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! This week has been a quiet week for me as I've been dealing with a funky mood of sorts. However, I'm glad it's Friday and that Thanksgiving is less than a week away! I'm looking forward to running my first Turkey Trot, spending time with my family and, of course, the food! Since, it's Friday, let's recap some of the good things of this week ....

How cute is this Santa pig? I want him so much!! I spotted him at Target this past weekend and wanted to take him home, but sadly I left him on the shelf. I might need to go back after Thanksgiving and pick him up though. He's just too adorable!!

I'm addicted to holiday blend coffees. Last week it was Starbucks Thanksgiving Blend, this week it's Caribou Reindeer Blend. I need to stock up on these two amazing coffees!! I love that they're both dark roast coffees and each has their own unique holiday taste.

I would love to make a cheese ball for Thanksgiving that looks like this. How funny!! I wouldn't use the recipe that it links to, but I'm sure I could figure something out. But I would feel bad eating him!!

I signed up for two challenges this holiday season that make me feel excited. First, is Jamie Mendell's The Good Life Holiday Challenge. This one intrigues me because I suffer from a LOT of food guilt lately, and I could use some guidance on making it through the holidays. Each week will have a different theme to focus on overall health and help guide you through the end of 2013 feeling your healthiest. Sounds great, doesn't it? The second challenge is the Runner's World Holiday Streak. I'm going to be running at least one mile daily from Thanksgiving to New Year's. I'm not a daily runner, but this challenge, although intimidating, sounds fun!

Lastly, just need to share a photo of my baby, Mercedes. She's just too cute not to share photos! 

I hope you all had a good week or can look for some good in the week. Every day might not be wonderful, but there is something good in every day. You just need to search for it sometimes!

Thanks for hosting the awesome linkups Lauren and Clare!

Until next time~

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

This Crazy Funk

This past week and a half I have been in a funk of sorts. From the outside, I've been trying to hide that. I post my gratitude posts on Facebook, post how happy I am with my runs on Twitter and put cute pictures up on Instagram. However, that's just part of the story. 

There's so much more going on personally. I haven't been feeling unhappy necessarily, but more unsettled, on edge and critical. Very critical of my body, the food I'm eating and my workouts. On edge about everything. Unsettled with where I am in my life. 

Here's the truth - my life isn't always happiness, rainbows and butterflies.

So what's brought this funk on? 

Next week will be the start of the holiday season and Saturday will be my birthday. Last year at this time, I was planning an amazing birthday with someone special. Or something that I thought was someone special. 

I was so busy planning my birthday, shopping for a beautiful dress and planning future holidays with this someone special, that I never took the time to focus on the fact that it was my first holiday season alone because I didn't feel alone. I saw a future with this person, and that was a great distraction from facing my first holidays as a widow.

This year is the complete opposite. I am very much alone. This holiday season will just be Mercedes and me putting up the tree, shopping and wrapping presents, and traveling to my parents' house. Now, this isn't necessarily a BAD thing. It just means that this is the first holiday season that I'm truly facing alone. 

And that puts me in a funk. I don't know how else to describe it. I know I just need to shake myself out of it and I'm trying, I really am, but I don't know what it's going to take to fully get out of it other than time. Embracing that I'm single and alone, and that's okay. 

My life might not be perfectly happy right now, and I know that I'll get through this. 

Until next time~

Monday, November 18, 2013

MIMM: Back to Running and an Upcoming Challenge

Happy Monday! I know it's difficult to be happy on Mondays, so I'm glad there's a linkup to assist with finding the marvelous in it - Marvelous in My Monday. So many great bloggers join and I'm happy to be a part of it!

So what's marvelous this Monday? Well, first it's this. Just because I love coffee and minions!

Also marvelous? This past week I was finally able to get back to running!!! Woot woot!! After dealing with crazy ankle pain no matter what I did, it finally went away. So what did I do? Simple - I changed the insoles in my shoes before Wednesday's run. Seriously. That is all I did and it made a world of difference. I did take it easy for mileage and pace last week just in case that actually wasn't the issue, but every run just got better. By Friday, no pain at all. I am a very happy runner!

So how did I do for mileage last week? Well, not great running-wise, but like I said, I took it easy because of my ankle. Total miles covered though, is pretty good. Here's a quick recap:

Sunday: 4.3 miles + stability ball/ ab work, planks and squats
Monday: 3 miles elliptical, 4 miles bike + free weight exercises and planks
Tuesday: 3.6 miles elliptical, 1 mile treadmill run + stability ball/ ab work, planks and squats + Pilates
Wednesday: 3.4 mile run, 4 miles bike + cable weight machine weights and plank
Thursday: 4 mile run + leg day (squats, Bosu ball mountain climbers, lunges, calf raises, etc.), planks and ab work + Pilates
Friday: 5.6 mile run + planks
Saturday: Rest Day

Miles Covered: 18.3 running + 14.6 elliptical/ bike = 32.9 total miles

As much as I love running, I'm also enjoying more gym time with the elliptical and bike. Plus, I'm getting in more weight lifting time. Which I LOVE!! I definitely want to get more toned and feel stronger, and now that I'm not training for a half marathon, I have more freedom to do that. However, I do miss having a plan, a schedule. I'm someone who thrives on a schedule. I feel lost without one! I still want to keep up the basic schedule I had during half marathon training - running shorter distances during the week with a long run on weekends - but I also need a new challenge. Something to keep me going every day. Which is why I'm excited I found this ....

Runner's World Holiday Streak Challenge. Every day from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day you have to run at least one mile. It doesn't have to be outside, but it does have to be an actual run, not a bike ride, swim or elliptical. I saw it in the latest edition of Runner's World and signed up immediately. What a great challenge! I am a little scared not having any rest days, but I get that my "rest days" are supposed to be one easy mile, and I think I can handle that. I can still cross train as long as I do my one mile run as well. I think this will be good to get me outside and acclimated to winter running. I'm not a quitter so every day I will be getting in a run! Who else wants to join?? It will be fun!

Just to post a few tips from the Runner's World website - this isn't for injury prone, injured or newbie runners. They recommend only joining if you've been running regularly for at least six months. Take as many one mile days as you would rest days; don't make every day a high intensity day.

Hope everyone is having a marvelous Monday!

Until next time~

Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! This week has been just one of those weeks. I've been feeling a little down, frustrated with myself and, not unhappy, but unhappy with myself, my body, etc. Does that make sense? It's just a funk, a mood, I know that and it will pass. But I know some good things must have happened so let's see what I can find for my Friday Favorites!

My new favorite coffee is this Starbucks Thanksgiving Blend. It's so yummy - dark roast with a hint of spices. It really is Thanksgiving in a cup! Someone posted a photo of it on Instagram a few weeks ago talking about how awesome it was, so I had to pick it up when I made it to a Starbucks. I should probably buy another one soon before they run out!

Speaking of coffee, how cute are the holiday cups at Caribou Coffee? I stopped there on Friday as I headed up to my parents for a little coffee treat to drink along the way and these holiday cups are incredibly cute!

I made my own homemade peanut butter this week. It's delicious!! I've never made homemade peanut butter before, but felt the urge to try it. I just used unsalted dry roasted peanuts, sea salt, a small amount of pure honey, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Yum! I can't taste the vanilla; I figured next time I'd try vanilla beans or vanilla bean paste for a vanilla peanut butter.

I finally ordered my half marathon sticker for my car. Yup, I'm one of those "annoying" runners who will have an oval sticker on the back of their car now. And guess what? I don't care! I'm proud of what I did, and I don't think it's bragging. I think it's just showing off my interests and lifestyle; showing that I'm a part of the running club of the world. Can't wait for it to come!

Last year for Christmas, my parents bought me a gorgeous white wool winter coat. I love it, but it's not exactly convenient for walking Mercedes, to wear as an extra layer for a run or casual errands. I had been wearing an old coat that I had, but by now it's HUGE on me. I figured it was probably time to find a new coat and I settled on this North Face. I had no plans of buying a North Face, but it was so cozy when I tried it on I couldn't resist. Plus, it's pink! I'm hoping it was a good choice!

Those are a few of my favorites from this past week. Hope you all had a wonderful week and can find things to be grateful for, even the small things!

It's been a quiet, uninspiring week so I only have one other post to check out:
MIMM: Time with My Family

Until next time~

Monday, November 11, 2013

MIMM: Time with My Family

Happy Monday! I just checked the weather and it's a balmy 23 degrees outside, and the weather app says it feels like 6 degrees. Wow. That's cold! I will be sticking to a gym workout today; I'm such a wimp when it comes to running in freezing cold and windy weather!

Since it's Monday, I thought I would like up with Healthy Diva Life for Marvelous in My Monday. What a great way to start this week!

Marvelous is definitely spending time with my family this weekend. It was hunting season opener in Minnesota this past weekend, and although I'm not a hunter, my dad and brother are so my mom asked me to come home for the weekend to spend time with everyone. I, of course, said yes since it had been awhile since I'd been up there with my half marathon training. It was so refreshing and relaxing to spend time with my parents, my brother and nephew, and to see my grandma and my grandpa. We visited, got caught up in each other's lives, made some delicious food and just relaxed.

My mom and I went into the local craft fair they had at the high school. We didn't buy anything, but I really wish I would have bought a turkey hat for the upcoming Turkey Trot. I need to find them again! I found these ones on Etsy, but I need to find ones a little less expensive!

Marvelous is also my new workout tank my mom bought me as a present for finishing my first half marathon. I feel so loved!

Yesterday I got out for a run, which is definitely marvelous after having to take some time off of running. I didn't go super far or fast, but I got to run! The weather was perfect yesterday afternoon for running (unlike today!) and I felt so happy running. Although I did feel some twinges in my ankle, it didn't bother me too much. We won't talk about how my ankle feels this morning though ....

How was your weekend? I hope it was marvelous, too!

Until next time~

Thursday, November 7, 2013

This Runner's Frustration

These last two weeks after my first half marathon have been extremely frustrating to me. I didn't want to cut back on my running, but I've been forced to from sore legs (expected), bad weather and, the most annoying, my ankle. I did expect the sore legs for a few days after the half and planned for that. I figured I would cut back my miles for a few days, then get back into my usual routine. 

However, my ankle has been starting to bother me more and more. Last week I managed a few runs, pushing myself through the pain, and also spending some time on the elliptical. This week, however, has been worse. Monday night I ran a quick three miles on the treadmill at the hotel gym where I was staying. After, my ankle really started to bother me. My plan was to get up early Tuesday to squeeze in another run prior to my meetings, but my ankle had another plan.

I ended up taking Tuesday off, and during the day the uncomfortable feeling just got worse. Wednesday I could only manage two miles before I had to stop and move to the elliptical. Today, I didn't even try anything other than the elliptical. My ankle hurts when I walk, go down the stairs or move it wrong so running wasn't even an option.

I'm just so frustrated. All I want to do is run and clear my head; feel good again. But I'm not going to do anything that will further hurt my ankle. The pain started in my Achilles tendon and now the left side hurts as well. It's not a constant pain, but sharp pains while walking or running. 

I'm definitely feeling sidelined right now. Luckily I don't have a race until the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot, but I really miss running! I feel lost without it! Every time I see a post about running or how many miles someone ran, I feel jealous. Honestly, I also feel like I'm a failure because I'm not out there, too; that I'm being a wuss or something for not pushing it.

So that's where I am .... frustrated and lost without knowing how to work out without running. I'm hoping a few days off from running is all I need and I can get back into it soon. Sunday I'm hoping - send positive vibes! I've done so well not getting injured up until now. At least the worst of the pain waited until after the half marathon!

Me too, running shoes, me too. I miss you.

Have you ever hurt your ankle like this? 
Would you go to the doctor or try rest first? 
How do you work out if you can't run?

Until next time~

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Count Your Blessings

Yes, I am one of those people who post what I'm thankful for during the month of November. I think it's great to count your blessings, remember what you're grateful for in your daily life, for a whole month. I think we lose sight of the good things sometimes and giving thanks is a great reminder that even through the tough days there is always something to be thankful for, even if it's something small.

However, lately I've noticed that there are posts all over social media poking fun of this practice or hating on it. People are annoyed by other people being thankful.

This saddens me. Why are we taking something so good and pure, and poking fun? Why do we need to turn something that's meant to be positive into something negative?

I think it's so important to be grateful. Yes, we should be grateful more than just during the month of November. And I think many people are. However, I do think that sometimes we need a month of thanksgiving and gratefulness to be reminded of all that's good. We get so wrapped up in the negative, in the daily struggles of life, that it's good to take a step back and think of the positives. 

I've done the month of thanks for a few years now. Last year I found it incredibly beneficial. It was my first holiday season as a widow and it was important to focus on the good things happening rather than the sadness of what could have been. 

So I'm going to continue on with my daily be thankful posts. I'm not going to apologize for them. I am thankful every day of the year for the life I live and to God for all that He has done for me, and for 30 days I want to acknowledge those things. I encourage others to do the same; count your blessings. And to those who find this to be annoying, I don't care. Block my posts from your newsfeed if you must. I think it's important to be thankful; to be reminded of the good things in our lives especially when we're struggling. Counting your blessings is such a rewarding and refreshing experience.

Until next time~

Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday Things

It's November 1st - happy November!! The best month in my opinion! ;) It could, possibly have to do with the fact that my birthday is this month, and the holiday craziness begins with Thanksgiving, which equals lots of family time. It's such a great month!!

It's also Friday and I actually see some peeks of blue sky, which hopefully means the sun will come out today. It's been a very gray week here in Minnesota! Despite the gray skies, it hasn't been a bad week (thank goodness!); here are the good things from this week for the high five for Friday linkup!

Of course, my most favorite thing of the week (and all of October and probably fall!) is running my first half marathon. It was such a spectacular experience. I can't explain how fulfilled I feel after accomplishing that goal. You can read all about it here!

Yesterday, of course, was Halloween. I don't hand out candy (a dog who barks every time the doorbell rings + a neighbor who hates me my dog = no bueno), but I did receive a treat! The October Scentsy scent of the month is heavenly; perfect scent for this time of year!

Since my hair is getting longer, I've been playing around with different hairstyles lately. I found a new braid technique on Pinterest that I love - it's so easy and looks so cute! I still need some practice though.

Let's talk about the perfect snack. I love popcorn, peppermint and white chocolate so I HAD to buy this once I spotted it in the grocery store. It's like the taste of the holidays explode in my mouth! If you see it, try it!! It's gluten free, non-GMO and absolutely delicious!!

I've been taking it easy getting back into running after last Saturday's half marathon, mostly because my body is making me, and Mercedes is enjoying the extra cuddle time. I think she would prefer me to never leave the house!

I hope you all had a wonderful week and enjoyed your Halloween! Make sure to check out my other posts from this week:

Until next time~

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Monster Dash Half Marathon Recap

Saturday, October 26th, will easily be a day I remember for a long time. It was a day that I completed a huge goal, reached a dream, proved something to myself ... I ran my first half marathon. That might not seem like a big deal to some people, but for someone who went from 0.0 to 13.1 in five months, it's a big deal.

My excitement began the day before during packet pickup. Lisa, one of my best friends, was running the 5k race so we went together to get our race packets. 

I checked my chip for accuracy, checked out the booths and we stood in line to exchange our hoodie for the super cute zip ups they were offering that day - love the swag (see the pictures below)! After, it was back home to try and rest the remainder of the day, eat some food, pack up my stuff, and visit with my parents who came in that night as my amazing support system.

On race day, my alarm went off at 4:45 a.m. Early, yes, but honestly I was awake before it went off. I slept okay that night, but woke up often with thoughts about the race/ what could wrong, including right before the alarm went off. I easily got out of bed, ready for coffee and to start getting ready for the big day. As I tiptoed around my parents, I knew they would wake up the moment I started the coffee maker. Or when Mercedes came down and jumped on them! But I knew I needed my pre-race routine - I get up early enough to have some coffee, make breakfast, get dressed and just let my body wake up and do it's thing prior to leaving the house.

I checked the weather as normal - temp was hovering around 32 degrees with winds around 15 to 25 mph. Not ideal, but at least no snow or rain. I would survive the cold. Or at least I was hopeful I would!

The drive to St. Paul was pretty uneventful, thank goodness. I was quiet, thinking of what I was about to do. Trying to remain confident that I could do it; thinking back on all the training I've done, the miles I've logged. We arrived in plenty of time, waited to get in the parking ramp, and made the long walk to the race start - the Cathedral in St. Paul. Lisa took off to her race start and I waited in line for the bathroom talking with some other racers including another racer about ready to do her very first half marathon. We both felt the same way - nervous, excited and cold!!

My parents and I made our way to the start corrals. It was at this time that the cold and wind overtook me. I could not stop shivering. No matter what, I could not feel warm. We took some pictures and my dad was sweet enough to wrap his jacket around me, but still, I kept shivering. Dang Minnesota weather! 

As they announced to start getting into the start corrals, I lined up right in front of the 9:30 pacer - my goal was to try and keep a 9:20 average pace. I was sad to give my dad his jacket back, but I hoped the huge crowd of over 5,800 racers would help me feel warm. Not so much. It also didn't help that they delayed the start about 15 minutes or so due to backed up traffic. Every part of me was just getting colder! Finally, they announced it was race time! I felt the excitement hit. As we started moving toward the start line, I just kept thinking "you got this, you're going to make yourself and your parents proud." We hit the start line, and off we went!

The first few miles went well. It took until about mile three for my toes to thaw out! Around mile five my hands were warm enough to throw my gloves off. The wind was still chilly and I was thankful my shirt had thumbholes so I could wrap my hands up when running into the wind. 

My biggest issue other than the cold? The other racers. I have never raced in such a big race before and mentally I needed to shift my focus. I found myself being so caught up in passing others, or worrying about being passed. I needed to figure out how to shut my thoughts up about the other racers and only focus on me, my racing, my breathing, my stride. Honestly, I struggled quite a bit until I figured this out; trying not to let others pass me. But in the end, I wasn't doing this to beat them, I was doing this for me, to prove to myself that I can. To overcome that voice inside my head that was telling me to quit.

My toughest miles were miles 7 through 10. I'm not sure why, exactly. I think part of it was taking a slight turn and starting to run directly into that cold, hard wind. My lungs felt like they were on fire. I walked through the water stop at mile 8.5 just as I had planned to take my GU fuel and have some water. At the other water stops, I had taken small sips as I kept going. But I needed this short walk; I needed the fuel.

Right before mile 10, the 10 mile racers diverged off to their finish line and us hard core half marathoners kept going for the final 3.1 miles. I was warned that this would be the toughest part of the race. You would want to give up, and some hills were on the way. I somehow kept pushing through even though I felt at times I was going to be sick. The 9:30 pacer passed me on the hill, and I thought I was going to cry. At that moment, I felt like I was failing. I knew at that point I wasn't going to hit the 2 hour goal I dreamed of; I was a disappointment. Tears sprung into my eyes and my pace slowed down even more. At some point, I pulled my phone off my arm and switched my music to the Christian contemporary station on Pandora. I tried talking with God, asking Him to get me through this; I needed Him to help me run with my heart. By mile 11.5, I felt much calmer and just ran at what I could.

As we got closer to the finish line, I could hear the crowd cheering and yelling. There were so many people. I just kept pushing forward on my tired legs; legs that wanted to give out, an ankle that wanted to quit. But through the pain, I pushed on. I heard my name and saw my friend Lisa right before the finish line. Right at that point, I felt awful, but seeing her gave me that extra wind I needed - so thanks Lisa; I'm not sure if you know that, but seeing you right at that moment helped me so much! 

Crossing that finish line was so amazing. Somehow it all comes together and you no longer feel sick or hurt, you just feel elated and euphoric. I heard my parents cheering and ran to give my mom a hug. I thought I was going to cry as the gravity of what I had just accomplished hit me. I was a half marathon finisher. I did it. 

After collecting my medal and food, I found my amazing support team and just felt happy. More than happy - accomplished, proud and relaxed. Of course, I also felt cold again as my body heat started to regulate and the shivering began again! We didn't stick around the race area much; just took some pictures and headed toward the car. I'm pretty sure the big smile never left my face.

Lisa and me - Lisa ran the 5k in costume!

My medal

The rest of my day was spent trying to warm up from the frigid cold and resting my sore muscles. We ordered a pizza for lunch before my parents left to go back home and I have to say pizza never tasted so delicious! I sat in my compression socks, foam rolled a bit and took Mercedes for a walk before I collapsed on the couch for the night. I was in bed a little after 9 p.m.! Big partier, aren't I?!

The swag - this zip up will get LOTS of use; it's great!

Here are my final thoughts on my first half marathon.... It definitely wasn't easy, but it was 100% worth it. I finally felt like I had found a place where I belonged. That runner high? Yes, it definitely hit me after the race. I finally felt as if I was born a runner; it just took me awhile to figure it out. I am meant to do this .... to be a runner, to run races. This is my passion; something I am meant to do. I can't wait until the next half marathon (and all the other races I need to find)!

I'm sure some of you are interested in my stats so here they are. I had three goals - Goal A was two hours, Goal B was 2:10 and Goal C was 2:20. I finished in 2:07 although the clock did say 2:04 when I crossed. I'm not arguing though and I am perfectly happy with finishing in 2:07! 

Until next time~