Golden birthdays, comeback runs and grand-dog sitting

My middle child, Logan, is now 16 – and it is an extra special day because it is his Golden Birthday.  Even more special is that he will <hopefully> get his driver’s license tomorrow.  THAT will be cause for celebration!!

So many of my parent friends with kids Logan’s age are nervous and concerned about the transition to driving.  I have to admit, I am a little anxious about Logan being out there on his own.  However, they don’t have the same perspective as I do, because almost all of Logan’s friends are the oldest children in their families.  These parents don’t have a clue how wonderful it is to have a kid with a license living in your house….it’s like having a mobile servant!  Even if you don’t ask them to bring home milk from the store or pick up the little sister from gymnastics, the fact that they can drive themselves to and from school and soccer practice makes you feel like a prisoner that has just been set free!  I joke (well, people think I joke) that the hardest part of transitioning Taylor into college life was losing an extra driver’s license in the house.  I think you get the idea that I’m ready for Logan to take this next step in growing up!!

On Saturday, we gathered some of our family together to celebrate Logan’s day and surprise him with his truck.  Logan isn’t the usual Texas boy, in that his only prerequisite for a vehicle was that it “rides smooth”.  He wasn’t even that interested in going with my husband, Bobby,  to look around for cars, which caused much disappointment for Bobby.  Logan has been increasingly nervous, though, because his day has been drawing close with NO word of a vehicle.  Bobby hid his truck in the shop and sent Logan out for some ice, while I waited for him to snap photos of his reaction.  When he burst through the door, he noticed me, standing behind the truck, but didn’t even notice the truck for a couple of seconds.  It was priceless!

I use this photo, because after posting on Facebook, Logan made me take it down.  He says it is the "worst picture ever". I kind of like it :)
I use this photo, because after posting on Facebook, Logan made me take it down. He says it is the “worst picture ever”. I kind of like it 🙂

I know it is cold everywhere in the continental US (except for Florida), but guys, it is COLD in Texas!  I planned my run for Saturday afternoon, because I didn’t have time to run early morning with all the family lunch preparations. (That’s my story and I am sticking to it.  I am NOT a cold weather wimp.) I have chronicled my ITB problems of late, and, to be honest, have felt so weak mentally and physically this week.  I HATE that feeling.  I prefer the invincible feeling that I generally have in regards to my running. (A good friend told me yesterday that for ME to admit fear it had to have been BAD!)  Anyway, I ran my 22 last Saturday and did not run again until Thursday.  Thursday’s run was decent as there were no ITB or calf issues, but I felt sluggish; not myself.  I was NOT looking forward to my longer Saturday run, because I felt beat up; defeated.  I tried to find any and every excuse to post pone or cancel, but thank goodness I kept my wits about me and ran as scheduled.  When I finally got out on the road, I felt GREAT!!!  During the first mile, I thought it was a fluke, but when I was still feeling strong in mile 9, I breathed a sigh of relief and started believing that I CAN finish this marathon training strong.  I originally had planned 12-14, as this was a drop-back week, but decided before the run to hold the run to 10 to help my body ease back into the beating it will take this next week in my last long run of training.  The important thing, though, is that I feel great this morning on all fronts, and that is a RELIEF!  My biggest challenge at this point is to train smart, and I thank my lucky stars that I have several running friends who will hold me accountable.  We all know I can’t maintain “smart” training for any length of time.

One thing I have noticed about running without a partner is that I can’t always tell when I get my high.  My partner was my pacer (we all know the troubles I have with proper pacing) and as a result, always felt I was holding back. When I would get my high, she would literally have to grab my arm to keep me from taking off in a sprint.  I do love that feeling, as if you could take off and fly.  Ahhhhh.  These days I can vaguely tell during the run, but generally notice it later in my splits as that is usually my fastest mile.  All this makes me wonder if any other runners experience this as well?

It’s Sunday and, besides being Logan’s Golden Birthday, that means that Taylor is coming to pick up our grand-dog, Izze.  We kept Izze for Taylor because her roommate was in a terrible wreck and had reconstructive knee surgery this past week, so she isn’t at their house to watch after “The Iz”.  Taylor was to be out-of-town most of the week, as she and her team were playing in their conference tournament. (This is the “official” reason we kept Izze.  The REAL reason we kept Izze is because my husband missed her and wanted to get her nails trimmed.)  Izze is a short-hair, piebald mini dachshund and is the most nervous, spastic, ADHD dog I have ever seen, but we love her anyway!  Seriously, she barks incessantly!  I will go to my bedroom and when I come back, Izze will bark at me like a stranger that just burst through the door.  We have learned to just shake our heads, because there is nothing else to be done!  She WON’T stop barking! Sophie (our long-hair, piebald mini doxie) enjoys Izze’s company, but dislikes Izze treading on her turf.  Sophie has REFUSED to sleep under the covers this week, because Izze was also asleep under the covers.  I get so tickled, because the only dog/person Sophie is hurting is herself!  Doxies have to be the most passive-aggressive dogs on the planet!

She is a MINI, for sure, but cute as a button!  She has to be, for us to put up with all that barking!
Izze is a MINI, for sure, but cute as a button! She has to be, for us to put up with all that barking!

Happy Sunday!!

Jen

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Major Award?? ME??

OK, maybe this isn’t a major award, but I’ve always wanted to use that phrase since I first watched A Christmas Story. 

My friend over at Running Lonely nominated me for the Liebster Award.  The name implies that there might be some sort of prize attached, but I quickly learned this is not the case.  Upon further examination, it seems more akin to those chain emails back in the 90s where you would answer questions and forward to everyone in your address book.  You know, the ones where you were instructed to COPY and PASTE so that those irritating forward symbols weren’t littered all over the email, but no one ever did it so you had to delete all those before forwarding (at least you did if you were OCD like me).  In all seriousness, I am honored that M would take the time and effort to tag me in his blog.  The only problem I see with this is that I can count the number of people I know that blog on one hand, so this limits the number of people I can tag to keep this thing going.

The obligatory inclusion of the Liebster logo.
The obligatory inclusion of the Liebster logo.

Now we get to the issue at hand.  Answering all the prodding personal questions.

  1. What is your current health related goal?

I’m not sure this is “health related”, but my current goal is to keep my ITB reasonably happy until December 14, the day of my first marathon.  At my current training juncture, this is a lofty goal.  I have considered moving in with my MFR guy until the marathon in order to accomplish this.

  1. What is your biggest irrational fear?

Runners trots.  Wait – maybe that is a rational fear, especially if Tex-Mex has recently been eaten.

  1. Do you enjoy wrapping presents?

I would enjoy wrapping presents if I had the ability to make them look presentable and cute.  But I can arrange tissue paper in a gift bag like a pro.

  1. What’s your favorite cross training activity?

People cross train?? I thought that was just an urban myth.  I enjoy cycling, when I can squeeze it in.

  1. If I came to visit you, what would we do? 

The most exciting thing to do in my town is watch the cattle graze.  But after all that entertainment, we would most likely go to Dallas and hit all the touristy places like, where President Kennedy was assassinated.  Because I think that may be our only claim to fame.

  1. You have 2 weeks off of work and 2 round trip plane tickets to ANYWHERE. Where would you go and who would you take?

Scotland or Spain.  Maybe I could spend a week at each and would most likely take my oldest daughter, Taylor.

Speaking of Taylor, here she is, having recently turned 21, on the beer isle.
Speaking of Taylor, here she is, having recently turned 21, on the beer aisle.
  1.  What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you during a run or race?

Thankfully, I have no answer to this question.  Check back, though, because I’m sure something embarrassing will happen sooner or later.

  1. Tell me the 3 best days of your life. Or at least the first 3 that pop into your mind.

Let’s go with events, because they aren’t necessarily “days”…

1) Volleyball with my girls.  We live so far from the Dallas area that playing club volleyball means a one hour drive each way for practices and tournaments.  I cherished the time spent with Taylor (and now, Alli) in the car because the conversations brought us closer and allowed us to talk about a wide range of subjects.  The volleyball part has been a lot of fun as well. 🙂    2) Deciding to “get healthy” before I turned 40.  Acting on this decision was the BEST thing I’ve ever done for myself.  I cleaned up my diet and started running, which has yielded much, much more than just benefits to my health.   3) My friendship with Allison.  Most of you don’t know about Allison, but she was my soul mate and best friend.  She died 10 years ago, but I am SO THANKFUL for being blessed by her friendship.  Most people live a lifetime and never experience a friendship as rich as the one we shared.

  1. Okay, you HAVE to eat a fast food meal. What restaurant would you choose and what would you order?

Chick Fil A.  I would have the grilled chicken wrap with avocado lime ranch.

  1. Have you ever met a celebrity?

I met Dubya, back when he was governor of the great state of Texas.  Does that count?

  1. Share a picture of yourself in non workout clothes!

    This non-workout pic is proof that a) I own a dress and b) I have actually worn a dress.
    This non-workout pic is proof that a) I own a dress and b) I have actually worn a dress.
  2. If you could choose to have a ‘do-over’ and switch careers, what would you choose and why?

Volleyball coach or an athletic trainer, for sure!  Because, in my mind, I’m already a trainer and a coach.  The fact that I haven’t been formally trained is beside the point.

  1. If you won the Olympic Gold Medal – how do you think you would react?

With shock and awe, because, well, I’m a #turtle

14. What do you want for Christmas?

A tattoo commemorating my marathon.  And maybe a couple of pair of Zensah compression socks.

Now I’m instructed to tag a couple of new bloggers or newly returned to blogging.  This is the hardest part of the entire exercise, since I am completely oblivious to the world of bloggers.  So I’m going to view these instructions as guidelines, open to interpretation, and just tag one of bloggers that I know, even though she isn’t new to blogging:

Jane from Canada and her blog 50 State Canuck

Apparently you can change one of the questions, if you wish.  I didn’t because I’m terrible at interrogating interviewing people.

Happy running, everyone!

ITB probs and my quest to save the marathon

In my last post, I leaked some info that I’ve been guarding pretty closely over the past few days: I have ITB problems.

One reason I kept the end result of Saturday’s 22-miler close to my heart was because giving voice to it makes it real.  OK, I KNOW it’s real, but I’m still kind of in denial about it.  My marathon is less than 5 weeks away and I’ve been walking around with a big lump in my throat, having realized that I’m one run away from not running it at all.  And folks, that scares me!

I have a guy that I see regularly.  He specializes in myofascial release and is THE reason that I have been so healthy and successful in running these past few months.  The word has gotten out, though, and he stays booked!!  I generally book my appointments at least 2 weeks in advance and had previously noticed that he was booked solid for this entire week. After the ITB episode on Saturday, I was planning to call him and BEG for him to make an opening for me.  Sunday morning, as I was limping (literally) around the house, I decided to log on to his online calendar to see if there had been any cancellations.  I almost CRIED when I found that my usual appointment time was open!

So I drove down to see him last night.  He gave me a funny look and said something about how surprised he was to see that I was there, given I just saw him last week and already have the next 2 weeks covered.  I’m not Catholic, but I imagine that going to confession is much like describing to my guy the stupidity that was me, trying to finish my 22-mile run.  And with grace like a priest, he just smiled and said, “We all do that, don’t we?” I LOVE HIM!!!

He worked on my ITB for a solid hour.  At one point, I felt the fibers of my ITB tearing away from my quad.  Then, he KinesioTaped me (do NOT say KT Tape around him, as he will give you an earful on the history of THE Kinesio Tape) literally from my hip to below my knee.

When someone else tapes me, I feel like a 'real' runner.  It's like I have people.
When someone else tapes me, I feel like a ‘real’ runner. It’s like I have ‘people’.

I haven’t run since Saturday.  Part of me is dying because I feel I need to be running.  Smart Jen (I realize that is an oxymoron) is OK with the rest.  I’ll run an easy 5-6 tomorrow to see how things are shaking out.  Also, I feel the need to disclose that I understand that my ITB is still angry and mad and my trip to MFR isn’t going to immediately solve this problem.  But if these sessions can keep me in the marathon game until I run my race on December 14, then I will focus on proper recovery.

In other news, my lunch the past couple of days has made me happy.  I realize that I probably shouldn’t rely use food for emotional purposes, but it was so green and fully of yummy, healthy stuff!

My delicious salad with coconut lime quinoa.  I know you're surprised that it wasn't a cupcake.
My delicious salad with coconut lime quinoa. I know you’re surprised that it wasn’t a cupcake.

Happy Hump Day, everyone!

 

Ridiculously ignorant running crimes I have committed

The funny thing about English is that many words have several meanings.  Take the word “crazy”, for example.  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary lists definitions for “crazy” as an adjective, a noun and an adverb.  It’s a very functional word.

Definition of crazy (paraphrased, only using the adjective definitions, because listing all the definitions would take up this entire post): Unsound; mad or insane; impractical or erratic; out of the ordinary, unusual; distracted with desire or excitement; absurdly fond or infatuated; passionately preoccupied or obsessed.

I’m reasonably certain I’ve been associated, through running, with all those definitions of crazy.  After I list the ridiculous things that I’ve done in the name of RUN, you will probably associate me with all of them as well.

  • Ignoring my body.  Let’s face it – I could (and should) list this as the reason for each and every running setback that I’ve experienced.  This one, in particular, dates back to my marathon training last year for the marathon that would never be run. (I promise, I’ll explain that soon!) About mid-way through training last Fall, I began to have a numbness in my foot.  At first it would just tingle and would last no longer than a mile during the run.  But it progressively got worse, to the point that my foot would be completely numb for 3-4 miles. I did what every runner in denial does, I tried to find answers on the internet and rehab myself. (Go ahead – ask me how that worked out)
  • Refusing to rest.  There.  I said it and it wasn’t nearly as painful as I expected.  I would like to believe that my bad decision-making in this case was caused by injury-induced stupor, but most likely was caused by my stubbornness.  Giving the body proper rest and recovery time is important to a healthy runner, but even more so when injury is involved.  I *think* I have learned to take breaks in training when necessary.
  • Treating training runs like a race.  OK, I NEVER intend to run my training runs like a race, but, in half marathon distance especially, my PR is always in the back of my head.  So when my running app rattles off current time and distance, I really can’t help myself by trying to beat my time.  This is OK every once in a while, when one isn’t coming off injury or, training for a marathon, for example.
  • Speed work coming off an injury.  This crime is probably obvious to all the sane runners out there, but not to me.  My hamstrings were REALLY angry with me, and my brain didn’t get the hint until the 3rd or 4th interval session! Hamstrings didn’t like the shoes I got for speed work either.
  • Running through pain. I’m still learning my lesson on this one as I ran with my ITB screaming at me this past weekend to the point that I could barely bend my knee after.  This may be the biggest crime I’ve committed to date and I am hoping and praying that my myofascia release guy can undo the damage I did.  I am additionally ashamed to admit that I NEVER considered cutting the run short.  Once again, I’m the Queen of Stupid Sh*t.

There is hope for even the most stubborn among us, as evidenced by my progress.  Even though I routinely make bad decisions regarding my training, I am increasingly making better choices.  Thankfully, I have a community of running friends who try their best to hold me accountable during the times that my brain fails me!

Avoiding another crack cupcake debacle

This post should shed a little light on the “cupcake” part of my blog name, and hopefully explain some of the “crazy” as well.

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I LOVE cupcakes and look for reasons to whip up a batch or experiment with new flavors.  Around this time last year (when I was training for the marathon I would never get to run – I’ll get to that in a future post) I was asked to bake cupcakes as part of Teacher Appreciation at my son’s high school.

Since it was Fall and I am obsessed with all things caramel, the obvious choice was a caramel cupcake recipe I found.  The cake itself was caramel as well as the frosting.

The evening started innocently…as mundane as any other baking of cupcakes had been.  But after I mixed the batter and got the cupcakes into the oven, the insanity began.  I always lick the bowl.  ALWAYS.  You can go on and on about raw eggs and salmonella and I really don’t care.  It’s just too good.  So, I licked the bowl.  OH.  MY.  GOODNESS.  It was so delicious!  There was not a trace of batter left in the bowl by the time I was finished!

After I regained some composure from the batter-bowl licking sugar high, I began making the frosting.  The base of the frosting was butter, melted over medium heat, with brown sugar, vanilla and cream.  After the mixture cooled, powdered sugar was to be added until the right consistency was reached.  Naturally, I licked the pan in which the base was made.  How could I let that sweet elixir go to waste?  (It might be important to note that, at this point, my stomach was a little unsettled.)  I plowed on, finishing the frosting while the cupcakes were cooling.  I wouldn’t have been a very good baker had I not tried the finished frosting, right??  Of course I tried the finished frosting!!

By the time I had frosted the cupcakes, my stomach was in full-blown panic mode.  However, since I am the Queen of Stupid Sh*t and rarely listen to Rational Jen, I decided that any decent cook would taste test her finished product.  I figured that 1/2 cupcake would be sufficient and small enough not to cause any more problems.  So I ate my 1/2 cupcake and immediately devoured the other half, without any consideration for calories or upset stomachs or anything of that nature.

My "Caramel Crack Cupcakes", as they became affectionately called.
My “Caramel Crack Cupcakes”, as they became affectionately called.

It only took my a matter of minutes to realize the mistake(s) I had made.  I was miserable and sick to my stomach for three days after, barely eating soup and crackers.  As I described the events to my running partner, I told her that I attacked everything like a crack whore.  And that’s how it came to be known as the “Great Caramel Crack Cupcake Debacle”.

I was asked yesterday to make cupcakes, as Teacher Appreciation is tomorrow.  I’m telling this story, in part, to remind myself how horrible I felt so that maybe I can exercise some self control in the kitchen this time around.  But I think I’ll still steer clear of making those Caramel Crack Cupcakes!

First post dedicated to firsts

I’ve been thinking about starting a blog for a LONG time.  At times I would become so excited about things that I could write about.  And then reality would hit and I would remember the problem: I’m not a writer.  But I couldn’t shake that crazy notion.  After a good friend encouraged me to take the plunge, I finally gathered the bravery to step out of my comfort zone.  Here goes nothing…..

My first first…my oldest daughter, Taylor, was born 21 years ago today. SHE IS LEGAL!!! (But her first official drink with me won’t be until Sunday, as she is somewhere in Eastern New Mexico playing volleyball for Texas Women’s University today.) At 5’1/2″, she has proven that dynamite comes in small packages.  Always fun and full of life, there is never a dull moment around her.

One of my favorite pics of Taylor.  Must be ready for snow when you wear your swim suit!
One of my favorite pics of Taylor. Must be ready for snow when you wear your swim suit!

I am introverted by nature, although I have managed to appear, socially at least, to be extroverted.  Small talk is literally painful for me, but I can talk about running or volleyball for HOURS.  Taylor is the opposite of me and the classic extrovert in the sense that she can talk to ANYONE.  I love her spunk, her “won’t take no for an answer” attitude, her genuine love and concern for all less fortunate than her, and the list goes on.  Oh, did I mention she is an amazing volleyball player and coach??  Perhaps Taylor’s Achilles’s Heel is her tendency for collecting speeding tickets or maybe that she is technologically challenged.  Of course, I love her, tickets and all!

Taylor, with her younger sister, Alli.  We were lucky enough to all be at the same volleyball venue!
Taylor, with her younger sister, Alli. We were lucky enough to all be at the same volleyball venue!

And now for my second first….today I ran 22 miles.  My longest run prior was 20 miles. This run was quite an accomplishment – in several ways.  I didn’t feel great heading out…honestly I wanted to hang out at home and drink more coffee!  Temps were upper 40s at start and supposed to be 60 toward the end, so I spent much more time that was necessary on picking my outfit. My pepper spray was empty.  I remember buying a replacement, but could not locate it so I was forced to change my route.  Along my “long run” route, there is one house out in the country with FIVE dogs that are NEVER inside a fence!  They always come full force in attack mode and have attempted to bite me on more than one occasion.  I have gotten quite good with my pepper spray aim and I give them ALL the credit!

Things were pretty good when I finally got out on the run.  I felt sluggish, but found a groove fairly quickly.  The outfit I chose was perfect for the weather.  I chuckled when I stopped at mile 12 at a convenience store and THREE  people commented that they had seen me running on another highway!  They all used the word “crazy” in their description of me.  Again, #compliments !  Then, I had 4 cars honk with people waving and I had NO clue who any of them were!  I struggled from mile 15 on – my ITB was a wee bit cranky and I had saved MY hills, the ones I call “Old Friend” for the end of the run.  I wanted to be tired when I got there so I would have to struggle.  That strategy worked better that I could have hoped.  (Can I say I had hoped that it didn’t work out that well??)  The last 3 miles were made difficult by a very brisk North wind.  At the end of the day, it was a good training run.  And I can now say that I have run 22 miles!!

Happy Weekend!