Flabbergasted Friday (but it’s a RUN day!)

common senser

Lately, I have been bewildered by the amount of common knowledge that doesn’t seem so common.  So why not share just a few of my findings?

  1. 4 (or all) way stops:  This seems a simple concept but every time I stop at one that is occupied by 2 or more cars, confusion seems to ensue.  Is it that difficult to notice who got there first?? Or is it just our society where, after giving everyone participation trophies as a child, a chunk of the population is living under the delusion that they are ALWAYS in first place, giving them the right to ‘cut’ in front of everyone else?
  2. Greater than and less than signs.  I wonder if anyone really knows which is which and how to use them.  But, it is my personal quest to educate the masses.  Remember, the alligator eats the biggest (greater) portion.  And less than always points to the left.  For example, I ❤ NY < Texas (in your mind read I heart New York less than Texas).
  3. Keurig etiquette:  OK, people, Keurigs have been around long enough that etiquette has been established.  In the office (or any other ‘public’ place), it is customary to dispose of your K-cup when you finish brewing your cup of whatever it is you just brewed.  To be honest, I don’t really want to dispose of your K-cup just so I can brew my own cup of coffee.
  4. Fast lane:  PLEASE do not drive in the fast lane if you are going to observe the speed limit.  The fast lane is for people like me, who are always running behind and feel like the speed limit is more of a guideline, open to interpretation.  You make me want to ram you with my car!!  Same goes for the people on one lane roads who won’t pull over on the shoulder to let me by.
  5. Kid drop-off:  I have noticed parents (mostly cheer ((sorry to stereotype)) – there is a cheer organization RIGHT next to volleyball) take up the going AND coming lanes in order to let their kids out at the door.  I understand not wanting to just drop your kid off in the parking lot to be run over by another parent who isn’t paying attention, but MUST you take up ALL the space?  Most people with common courtesy try to park in a manner that creates the least amount of disruption to traffic.

End of today’s observations.  Must talk now of happy things.

TODAY IS A RUN DAY!!!  Last Saturday was my first post-marathon run.  It was OK.  As you know, I had some issues with my right side.  To be honest, I wasn’t expecting the run to be that great, so I went in with the mindset that I needed to gather information….and I did!!  But this week, something changed.  I think the visit to the myofascia guy cleared up some lingering issues (for now, at least), and I am finding that I am giddy with excitement about today’s run.  I am planning to stick with the 5 min run/5 min walk intervals.  If things go well, I’ll add 1 minute to the run intervals on my upcoming runs.  If things don’t go so well, I’ll stick to this workout for a while.  Never in a million years did I expect that I could be OK with run/walk intervals.  I’ll chalk it up to maturity.  I am getting old, after all!walk break

Just kidding (kind-of)!  Now, there was a time (not too long ago) that I would have considered a walk break to be downright cheating and would have had to have been on the brink of death to even consider it.  I am now embracing walk breaks for all the positives that they bring.  Taking walk breaks will help me rebuild my running muscles without the risk of reinjury.  Walk breaks decrease fatigue in a runner.  Form suffers when fatigue sets in, so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to perfect that before taking on longer distances again.  And, as I learned Saturday, walk breaks provide nice opportunities for snapping pics! 🙂

Happy Friday!

Jen

Everything is connected

I haven’t run since last Saturday because my right ITB bothered me during my run.  I was waiting to see my myofascia guy before I made the decision of when to run again.  At my session last night, I was reminded how true it is that everything is connected.  He immediately found that my hips were off….AGAIN.  I don’t know WHEN I am going to learn that everything is connected to my hips, but recently my left foot has been striking the ground weird.  All the time….walking or running, it just felt….off.  To the point that I was beginning to think that I had become an over-pronator.  (OK I realize how ridiculous this thinking is and WHY don’t I immediately assume my hips are to blame?!)  When I got home after the visit, I noticed that my foot was striking the ground normally again.  Whew!

Back to the visit.  So I really went in because my right ITB was angry during Saturday’s run.  (It was also VERY angry with me the rest of the day on Saturday.)  I couldn’t help but laugh when he agreed that it was indeed very tight.  But the best news of the evening came when he went to work on my left side.  He felt that my ITB was in a better place than last week, and remember I ran on it Saturday!!  That left me very hopeful that I can and will make a glorious comeback!

I love my myofascia guy and seriously learn something new every visit!  Last night, I learned that your fibula (the bone on the outside of the shin) is supposed to move 1/4 inch in either direction.  And guess what??  Mine didn’t move well on either side.  So he fixed that, too.

Looks like my next opportunity to run will be Friday afternoon, so look forward to a full report!

I’m not sure if I mentioned this, but last week my myofascia guy STRONGLY recommended that I find Ab Ripper from the P90X series and start doing it to strengthen my hip flexors.  So I mentioned it to some of my Twitter peeps and my friend, Earl, from New York IMMEDIATELY volunteered to lend me his copy.  I breifly wondered why he was so excited about sharing…..until the package came in the mail and it’s contents held more than just some DVDs.

I love NY (< Texas)!
I ❤ NY (< Texas)!

So Earl thought it would be funny for me to post a pic in this I ❤ NY outfit to our group.  But, I HAD to add some Texas flair!  What I’ve learned:  Texas folks have reason to be suspicious of New Yorkers and the general population has NO idea what the < and > signs mean, or how they are to be interpreted.

Seriously, though, I appreciate Earl letting me borrow his P90X DVDs!  I can tell that I will enjoy them and, hopefully will get a little stronger in the process!same kind of different

Last night I finished reading Same Kind of Different as Me, which is a book that has been on my “To Read” list for quite some time.  Originally, I had it on my list because I remember Allison telling me that I HAD to read it.  (In all honesty, I haven’t read much since her death, because she was the main person who kept my my list of books to read completely full.)  Anyway, I decided to get back into the habit and have been reading each night before bed.  So when I downloaded this book and opened it up, I noticed that the date it was published was 2006, 2 years after Allison passed away.  I SWEAR she is the one that told me to read it.  In fact, over the years, each time it has been mentioned I have responded with, “oh yes, Allison was insistent that I read that one.”  And I am quite convinced she told me that I needed to read it, although I’m just not exactly sure of the way she told me.

The book was AMAZING.  It is how the paths of a homeless black man and affluent white man cross, and the life-long friendship that developed as a result.  It was raw and honest and totally up my alley (and it had Allison written ALL over it!)

Happy Thursday, all!

Jen

The weekend from which I am still recovering!

This weekend was fast and furious, to say the least, but it was one of the most fun weekends that I have had in quite some time!

Saturday morning I was up, bright and early, for my first run since my marathon on December 14.  Six weeks of no running.  Needless to say, I was excited, but I also went in with the mindset that it would be an information-gathering run – more of a state-of-my-recovery kind of assessment, if you will.

This was the first run with my new watch and I absolutely LOVED the change.  I had created my workout and synced to the watch ahead of time, complete with my targeted heart rate zones.  I planned a 5 min walking warm-up followed by 3 repeats of 5 min running in heart rate zone 3 (130-148), then 5 min walking in zone 2 (112-129) with a 5 min cool down.  Now, I realize these zones aren’t completely accurate for me, since I am unable to figure my threshold at this point, but I think they will work until I am able to perform all the diagnostic tests.  My first running interval was 10:21/average per mile.  The second was at 10:54 and the third at 11:24.  Since my watch only showed my heart rate and the countdown to the next interval, I had NO idea of my pace (which was a VERY good thing).  I knew on the 3rd interval that I had slowed considerably, and as a result I kept trying to speed ahead but my watch wouldn’t let me!  Believe me when I say that I wanted that thing to quit beeping at me, so I did as I was told! LOL!!  Overall, it was a very good run, except the crankiness in my right ITB on the 3rd interval.  I am not all that surprised or all that concerned, as my myofascia release has been focused on my left (gimpy) side.  I will be going this week for a full body release so hopefully we can take care of some of the right side issues.  Bottom line, though, is that the run gave me hope that I CAN come back and I WILL come back strong!

The old train depot was a beautiful sight on frosty Saturday morning!
The old train depot was a beautiful sight on frosty Saturday morning!

The walking intervals, coupled with using a watch instead of my phone, gave me opportunity to snap some lovely pics!
The walking intervals, coupled with using a watch instead of my phone, gave me opportunity to snap some lovely pics!

After the run, I dashed home to stretch, foam roll and shower in an attempt to make it to Logan’s 9 am soccer game on time.  I’ll just kill the suspense and tell you that I did NOT make it to the game on time.  I made it to the soccer game just before half-time.  The morning was BEAUTIFUL!  Sun was shining, light breeze and temps warmed quickly so that I didn’t even need a jacket!  Logan even played right midfield as opposed to his usual defensive position, barely missing heading the ball in on a cross in the second half.  A fun twist was our 2-student spirit section.  They brought their drums and played the entire game.  All would have been complete, if only we had brought our vuvuzelas!  The boys ended their tournament on a win and have gone to 3-2-3 on the season, which is about 3 wins and 2 ties better than last season already!

A long-time friend of mine owns an online newspaper in town, the North Texas E-News.  He is a phenomenal photographer (well, it helps to have a high-dollar camera) and he is so supportive of ALL the surrounding schools.  I can’t tell you how many amazing pictures he took of Taylor over the years.  Now that we have home soccer games, he is braving the elements to capture those moments as well!

A pic of Logan from Saturday's game.
A pic of Logan from Saturday’s game.

Another amazing Allen Rich photo!!
Another amazing Allen Rich photo!!

After the soccer game, I rushed home to pack.  Alli’s team was playing in a tournament at the Dallas Convention Center and I had made a last-minute decision to spend the night.  I scurried around the house like a mad person packing, rushed to catch the last half of Alli’s basketball game, and we were off to downtown Dallas!

As a refresher, Alli is setter on Madfrog 10s National volleyball team.  Even though the 10s age group is growing in USA Volleyball, our girls will end up playing in the 12s division in almost all of our tournaments, and it was no different this weekend.  However, our girls have been well-trained and our coaching is impeccable.  They rolled through pool play, with a 6-0 set count to clinch 1st place in our pool and end the day.  Sunday morning we were back, bright and early, at 7:15.  We easily won our first three matches of the day to secure our spot in the finals.

I knew that the team in the finals would be difficult to beat.  Our girls don’t take into account the age of the opponent.  Or their size.  Or how well they can serve.  Collectively, as a team, they never seem to get rattled.  Of course, there are times when our serving is off.  There are times when our serve receive is off.  There are times when the pistons aren’t all firing.  But they never look defeated.  The team they played was very good, but our girls kept playing their game.  They ended up losing the first game 25-22, but still battled in the second set.  The teams traded points (point runs, to be more accurate), until the opposing team was able to clinch a 25-23 victory.  The coach of the other team even came over to congratulate our girls on the way they played and added that he hoped to never face them again.  Even so, the girls were devastated!  And I giggled a little bit inside because they were sad about 2nd place….in a 12s tournament!!  There were several moments of tears.  While all of us parents are in awe of their accomplishment, they truly believed they could win and believed that they should have won (and they were right!).  I LOVE that attitude!

2nd place overall, 12s Division American Volleyball Challenge
2nd place overall, 12s Division
American Volleyball Challenge

Taylor’s team was also playing in this tournament, so I was able to watch her team play when Alli was off.  She is such a good coach and I am very proud of her!  She is the type of coach that finds something to say about every single play.  That kind of coaching is what develops great athletes.  I have no doubt that she will enjoy many successes in her volleyball coaching career!Coach Taylor

 

Now for the non-sport activities!

Taylor stayed in the hotel with us Saturday evening.  On our way to the hotel after our afternoon of volleyball, we stopped at Klyde Warren Park in downtown Dallas (to eat from the food trucks – don’t judge!).  This is a beautiful space that was built on top of a freeway.  Klyde Warren park

 

The REAL reason I wanted to eat at the food trucks was because I saw the Trailercakes truck.  How I have managed to live this long without having one of their cupcakes still boggles my mind.  Sadly, they only had coconut left, and we all know I have sensory issues with food – shredded coconut included, so I had to pass.  We finally decided to place our order at Butcher’s Son.  (OK, YES, the name grossed me out, as I couldn’t shake the vision of all the meat chopping going on in there, but the girls’ votes over-rode me.)  I ordered chicken quesadilla.  Safe, right?  WRONG.  THIS is what was inside:sausage quesadillas

CHICKEN SAUSAGE!!!!  I thought the meat poking out the side looked funny.  Then I thought the meat tasted funny and had weird/wrong texture.  Then I looked at the meat.  In case you don’t know, I have minor issues with meats that have been ground up and shoved into some sort of casing.  Yes….me.  I know it’s difficult to fathom, but go ahead and fathom it.

When we made it back to hotel, I stretched and rolled my ITB out with my trusty, portable friend, The Stick. (And then I read my Kindle 🙂stick

By the time Alli and I started making our way home Sunday afternoon, it was 3:30.  We were both starved and exhausted.  But, I had promised her Buffalo Wild Wings, so BWW it was.  Normally, we wouldn’t order appetizers and our meal, but, hey, her team had just ended up in 2nd place and she worked hard!  So we did order appetizers and when she had finished eating this happened:BWW

She actually laid down in the booth while I finished eating.  Winning wears you out.  Literally.

I am still dragging this morning, but she woke up refreshed and ready to conquer the week.  Oh, and she expressed the need for a medal hanger – like mine that I hang my running medals on, except volleyball.  Apparently she is planning on earning many more medals!

Happy Monday!

 

Watch out World, Jen is back!

Wednesday was a BIG day in the World Of Jen.  But, before we get to that, soccer.

I know I have said before how proud I am of our soccer team, but I REALLY mean it!  Remember, our second-year program is in its infancy and we live in an area removed from the metro area which means we have ONE player who plays club soccer.  One, out of the 21 on our roster.  Logan has played since 4th grade, but I could never talk him into club (he was only interested in playing with his friends).

The #1 ranked team in our region came to town on Tuesday.  Honestly, my only hopes for the game was that we could contain them defensively (somewhat).  Our boys played AMAZINGLY!  We actually kept possession of the ball for a good chunk of the game, AND we scored TWO goals on them!  One was a beautiful shot from 35 yards out.  Logan said that on the field it looked to be going out, then curved into the goal.  It really was a mouth-watering play.  Our next goal came off of a corner.  There was a disputed play in which our fans (and coach) felt a goal was made, but it wasn’t acknowledged by the official.  And then there was that missed Penalty Kick.  The score ended up being 2-6, but the level of play that our boys displayed still has me beaming with pride.header

Logan headed this ball in the right direction (can you feel me smiling?).  I was beyond proud of the way he played Tuesday evening.  He played all 80 minutes of the game and did a great job at defense!  I do think my camera may be sick, however, after using it in the freezing cold last week.  I’m going to see how it acts during the daylight and decide if I need to take it to the camera doctor or not.

I think we all know by now that I have a serious peanut butter addiction.  I bought a 40 oz jar and opened it on Monday.  It’s 1/4 gone already.  In 3 days I have managed to consume 10 oz of peanut butter.  (That’s not much, right?)  I bought this recently but didn’t crack it open until yesterday (mainly because it required stirring). PB crack

OH. MY. GOSH!  I have admitted my weakness for all things caramel.  This combination is just unfair.  The only thing that may save me from devouring the entire jar in one sitting is the sweetness of it.  It is VERY sweet.  (I may or may not have dipped into it twice yesterday.)

Now for the News of the Day!

Yesterday was a BIG day for me.  I had my appointment with my myofascia guy.  We always talk beforehand….he wants me to give him my personal assessment of where I am and let him know what has been going on.  Then, the real test is if I have managed to interpret my body’s signals correctly.  Well, folks, I PASSED!!!  Maybe I actually DO listen to my body?  He agreed that my ITB was much better.  He agreed that my glutes were not as tight.  My tissues released MUCH easier and more quickly than in the last visit.  I know I still have a battle ahead of me to get things working smoothly again, but there was something even MORE exciting that I didn’t even expect….

He always tests my glutes to see how they are firing, since the glutes tend to “go to sleep” in long distance runners.  And….mine are usually “asleep” when he checks! LOL!!!  (He has this resistance thing that he does to “wake them up” and wants me to do it at home but it requires a partner.  So far, Taylor is the only person in my family who has been able to do the partner part correctly…and she is usually away at college.)  Back to the glute test….  I have never seen him as excited as he was after the test.  He said that my glutes were stronger than he has EVER seen them!!  Do you know what that means?  All this strength work IS making a difference!!!

At the end of my visit, I asked him if he thought it was time for me to get back on the road.  He said YES!!  Of course, he emphasized to take it easy and I explained my “start-from-scratch” plan.  What does this all mean?  I plan to run on Saturday!!!!  I’m excited, but anxious.  And I solemnly swear to take it easy!

Happy Rainy/Snow Mix Thursday!

Jen

Baby (running) steps and Brussels sprouts

Even though the rest of America had the day off yesterday, I did not. But since I did get off earlier than usual, it had the vague feeling of a holiday.

The weather in Texas has been PHENOMENAL the past few days.  Temps have been in the 60s, with the beautiful sun smiling down on us everyday.  Saturday, I was cooped up indoors reffing volleyball ALL DAY, so Sunday I took full advantage of the weather and did my biking OUTSIDE!!  It.  Was.  AMAZING!!! (Well, except for the cross-winds, but I was so deprived of outdoor activity I welcomed even those.) Texas winterTook this beautiful pic on the ride back to my house.  I know the landscape is brown and dreary, but with the hay bales in the background and the clear, blue sky, it took my breath away.  Even in the midst of winter, I love my Texas!  Later in the day, I went outside at dusk and couldn’t resist snapping this pic.  SunsetAlli has gotten into the habit of making herself hot chocolate every evening.  She loves to pile her mug high with marshmallows.  Sadly, this happened Sunday evening….Marshmallows

Alli forgot or didn’t realize that I had recently used that burner and it was still VERY warm!  And yes, the marshmallows at the bottom of the pile were melted.  Honestly, I’m just glad that she didn’t burn her hand.  There is a joke in our family about me burning the kids….of course, I would have been off the hook on this one! I wiped as much as I could off the burner and let it sit to cool and came off much easier than I expected when I cleaned it!

I mentioned that I had to work yesterday.  I went with the clinic supervisor to Wal-Mart to buy supplies for the clinics at each of our campuses (I work in the school system).  I was tasked with buying a sympathy card for a lady at our campus whose father recently passed away.  I tried to tell everyone that buying cards is NOT my forte, but I was given the job anyway.  When we got back to campus, I dug the card out of the sack and immediately noticed something wasn’t quite right. Card

Ok….the card is on the bottom and the envelope I grabbed is on the top.  See the problem??  I doubt I will ever be given card-buying duty again.

Since Monday was a teacher work-day, I got off earlier than usual and found myself FIGHTING the urge to go for a run.  (In case you don’t know, I have been nursing an ITB injury for the last 5 weeks.  IF things are looking good, I plan to run this weekend.)  The weather was SO BEAUTIFUL and I had that feeling in my gut that I NEEDED to get out and get in a run.  Thankfully, I have good friends who were able to point out the folly in that and with their help I was able to suppress the urge.  As usual, this incident got me to thinking.  At first, I was focused on poor me and not being able to run (yet).  I acknowledged (to myself) that I am suffering some depression as a result of the injury and the fact that my body isn’t able to do what I want it to do.  But I didn’t want to stay in that place.  I was able to shift my thinking from the things that I am unable to do to the progress that I’ve made since the marathon, and ended the day feeling mildly optimistic!  Here are some things that made my list:

  • I can bend my knee without pain and stiffness.  If you had seen me the week of the marathon, you would completely understand.  Plus, I had a few weeks of residual knee stiffness that would happen after sitting for extended periods of time, that is now GONE!!
  • I can sleep on my left (injured) side without pain.  In the beginning, and even before the beginning, sleeping on my left side caused A LOT of stiffness when I got up in the morning.  Problem: I sleep mainly on my left side.  But, every day, when I get up I feel better!
  • My ankle has regained range of motion.  It’s ALL connected, people.  EVERYTHING is connected to the hip.  I had noticed that when my ITB was starting to act up, I would feel some pain in my ankle when I moved it a certain way.  That feeling is gone!!
  • I can’t feel my ITB.  This is a biggie, because my ITB has been so tight that I could feel it when I moved certain ways (well, most ways to be honest).  I personally like it better when I don’t even know it is there!  LOL
  • I don’t have TFL tightness when I get up after sitting.

See?? #winning

I saw my chiropractor yesterday and he was unconcerned about my plan to begin running this weekend AND thinks our weekly visits should be extended to bi-weekly.  But I have one more hurdle.  I see my myofascia guy on Wednesday and that will be the real test.  I haven’t been in 3 weeks and to say that I am anxious would be an understatement!  To me, my body feels like it is in a much better place than when I visited him 3 weeks ago, but I will rely on his assessment to made the final decision about running this weekend or holding off a little longer.  I welcome ALL of your good mojo, because I need some good news!!

I’ll leave you with last night’s dinner.  Grilled chicken, baked potato and one of my faves – Brussels sprouts!!  I recreated a dish that my niece brought to Thanksgiving, by baking the Brussels in olive oil, Balsamic vinegar and dried cranberries.  It was DIVINE.  And I am sharing this photo for my ONE friend who LOVES Brussels sprouts SOOOO MUCH!  This is for you, Jane!Supper

Happy Tuesday everyone!!

 

Philosophical Friday

A few weeks ago I attempted (and failed) to write this post.  I finally scrapped it because I just wasn’t able to get my thoughts onto the page in a way that made sense without rambling on for days.  Here’s to never giving up!

Originally, I began thinking about myself as a runner while I was attempting to come to terms with my less-than-stellar marathon performance. (By the way, I  HAVE achieved peace in regards to the race, accepted it and can genuinely say that I am content.)  It was during this time that I had a little epiphany about perception.

So how does perception tie into all this?  Back to marathon…..I was upset with myself because I wasn’t able to embrace the results and appreciate what I had accomplished.  WHY did I feel that way and WHY did I feel like such a failure?  When I say that I don’t compare myself to others, I mean it.  I am pretty content living in Jen’s little life bubble.  However, most of my online interactions are with other runners and that is where the perception comes into play.  Even though I don’t compare myself to them, I do think this has kept me from fully appreciating MY accomplishments because my “norm” has become what I see my online friends doing.

Gaining understanding of this has helped me in many ways.  Like I said, I now embrace my marathon for what it was.  But, it also helped shape my running goals for the coming year.  I recently shared with someone that often, in regards to running, I feel like a poser.  For one, I feel I don’t run enough, cross train enough, stretch enough or foam roll enough!  And as much as I hate to admit it, don’t always consider myself a “runner”, even though I KNOW I am!  However, my new-found perspective has allowed me to cast away some of these self-imposed standards.

So all this got me thinking about running and how I can create a balanced fitness regime and why do I LOVE running SOOOO much?  I mean, my whole focus this year is to do all the cross training so I can stay healthy….in order to become a better runner.  (I know my focus should be on being fit vs run, but still debating myself on that one.)  Initially, I started running as a way to improve my fitness and lose weight.  I wanted to be healthy by the time I turned 40. But along the way, I discovered the Jen that had been lost for a while (and I may have developed a little addiction to endorphins).Buddy

And the reason Jen was lost?? Ten years ago, my best friend, Allison, died suddenly.  Actually, our families were best friends.  My husband and her husband did almost everything together.  Our children did everything together.  I can’t describe how close we were and how much I treasured her friendship.  She was a soul mate.  That loss changed the lives of everyone in my family, and I had a VERY difficult time dealing with it.  In fact, getting pregnant with Alli just a month after Allison passed away was the best thing that could have happened to me.  But I’m saving that story for Alli’s birthday.

Honestly, I spent the next 7 years in a fog, just going through the motions of life.  I doubt most people realized how deep the grief was for me, but another of my good friends told me once that my sparkle was gone.  I did find enjoyment in my family and in my kids’ activities, but other than that, I was simply existing – going through the motions.

But then one day, I started running.  Surprisingly, I REALLY enjoyed it. The challenge of making it to the next milestone ignited a passion in me that had been dormant for so long.  I still remember the first time I ran a mile.  Then two miles.  Five miles were HUGE!  I said I would never run a half marathon, but I did.  I also said I would never run a marathon….BUT I DID!!

Oh, and did I mention that Allison was a runner?  She always tried to talk me into running with her and I would just laugh!  I know she is so proud and I can feel her with me every time I get out there on the road.

My Allison!
My Allison!

Running has given me so much: it has helped me to find my happiness and self-confidence again (happy Mama means happy family!); it has forged a connection with my kids – I’ve been able to run 5ks with Alli as well as 5ks and a half marathon with Taylor; it has connected me with many wonderful people I would have never met otherwise; and it has shown me that I truly can do anything I put my mind to.  So it’s more than running.  It’s about living.

This little exercise in self-discovery has at least helped me identify some of the forces that drive me to run.  And by doing that, I think that I can control my approach to running more intelligently than I did in 2014.  Plus, it is always good to reconnect with your roots.

So how does all this relate (in my head, anyway)?  As I said before, my word of the year is: Balance.  I personally think that nothing can be achieved without awareness of the goal in mind and what is pushing you toward that goal, or away from that goal.  All these little epiphanies are (hopefully) pushing me toward my goal of living a balanced 2015 (not only in fitness, but in my life)!

Happy Weekend, everyone!!!

Jen

Winning is fun!

On Monday evening, Logan’s soccer team made history.  Well, history was being made one way or the other, but the boys came together and made history in a positive way!  The first “official” game EVER was held on our soccer field (first historic moment of the evening) and then, something magical happened…..WE WON!!!!  The win was historic because: it was the first in program history, the first win of the season and the first win on our field!!  Now, there may not be another win this season, but we have already improved our record from last  year (ALL losses and one tie)!

My ONE action shot that actually turned out.  This was taken before my camera died of frostbite.
My ONE action shot that actually turned out. This was taken before my camera died of frostbite.

Team photo after the big win!
Team photo after the big win!

I was proud of the integrity shown by our coach and our players in the 6-0 victory.  We played a first-year program and had the opportunity to run up the score.  But, we were the recipients of that type of play last season (last season was our first) and it always angered our coach, because he felt it unsportsmanlike and disrespectful.  During the second half, he gave our reserve players most of the playing time.  When our starters were on the field, they were not playing their normal positions.  Logan, for example, usually plays right back on defense, but asked to play our midfield wing for second half.  He ALMOST scored a goal!!  When I asked him about it after the game, he said it was the worst decision he could have made.  He was tired after 5 min at mid and had 15 to go!  When the opportunity for the goal shot came around, he was so tired that he wasn’t able to get a good foot on it.  (And I was ROLLING, I laughed so hard!)  The REAL hilarity in all this is that Logan was ALWAYS midfield prior to high school (and yes, last year I thought Coach was CRAZY for making Logan a defender….maybe one of these days I will tell a funny story from my soccer coaching days).  Of course, the level of play is different, but it still cracks me up that midfield now tires him out!  (And let’s not forget he is my 6 min. mile Cross Country runner!)

Score

Game-time temps were brutal and only got worse (brutal by this Texas gal’s standards, anyway).  I don’t even know what the temps were except they were in the low 30s.  I don’t know what the wind speed was, but it was TOO much!!  Even with my handwarmers in my shoes, my poor toes were frozen.  It was so cold that the shutter on my camera wouldn’t even snap properly and the majority of the pics look like those extended exposure pics where figures are moving, but you can see the blur of where they had been.  And then the kicker – when I got up to leave my left thumb was hurting.  Like down in the joint by my wrist!  Tuesday morning it was still hurting so badly that I had to skip my stretching and foam rolling because putting weight on it hurt so badly!  I slapped some KT Tape on it, took Ibuprofen and it became manageable as the day went on.  Thankfully, I woke up this morning and it felt almost normal.

One-handed application.  Not bad.
One-handed application. Not bad.

In other news, I’m STILL addicted to peanut butter (and honey!).  I wasn’t THAT concerned during marathon training, although going through a 3 lb jar every 2 weeks should have been a clue.  I just figured that when marathon training was over, I wouldn’t have such an urge to eat peanut butter with every meal and every snack.  The peanut butter/honey combo goes with anything, everything, really.  I start my day with English muffin, topped with peanut butter and honey.  Banana with peanut butter and honey is divine!  The combo also goes with saltine crackers, Ritz crackers, pretzels…..I could go on and on and on!!!  Just call me the Bubba Gump of peanut butter.  (OK, NOW I need some peanut butter!)

I realized on Monday that I may need an intervention, when my (tiny) 2 lb. jar of peanut butter was half-gone in less than 5 days!  My concern isn’t so much my consumption of peanut butter, but my lack of exercise right now to offset it! I’m not TOO concerned, though, because I’ve only gained 4 lbs since my marathon and I really haven’t worked too hard to control my diet.  A little off-season weight gain is good, right?!?

My 2 lb jar of PB, half way gone in just 5 days!
Approaching emergency status if I don’t replenish SOON!

Happy Hump Day!  Texas is cruising to sunny and temps in the 60s by the weekend! (CAN NOT WAIT!!!)

Later,

Jen

Fighting the imbalance (no snickering allowed!)

First, I highly encourage you to read @RunningLonely‘s recap of his 24-hour race here.  I’m still amazed at how he pushed through, and in awe of his accomplishment!!  (Read my blog first, though, because my post will pale in comparison with his! 😉

At the beginning of 2014, the members of my Sunday school class were challenged to pick one word as their focus for the year.  I never could settle on a word, although I pondered it many times throughout the year.  Over and over, one word, or theme, kept coming up: balance.Balance

I’ve always struggled with balancing work/family/extracurricular activities.  I think it is something that moms just do in our society.  This past year, though, I found myself yearning for a change.  I realized during marathon training that SOMETHING had to give, and the only way to describe it is that visceral feeling that I get when something HAS to be done.  (Well, usually that visceral feeling is the one that gets me injured, but it’s a feeling that is hard for me to shake.)  My schedule was incredibly over-booked yet some how I managed to get most of my scheduled runs in AND wash clothes.  Having clean clothes was the real victory.  One thing (among many) that suffered was my strength training, and boy, did I suffer because of it.  I am quite certain that I would have run Dallas healthy and happy, had I kept up proper strength and cross training.

So this idea of balance had been on my mind, almost constantly during the last quarter of 2014. In rolled 2015 and I STILL couldn’t settle on a word.  Until last Thursday.  It hit me like a brick in a moment of beautiful clarity while Alli and I were driving home from practice.  My one word: balance.  WHY did it take so long for the light bulb to turn on?  I need balance across my life: in work/family and in my fitness between running/strength and cross training.  Balancing my training was even one of my goals for 2015.  What can I say?  The universe usually has to knock on my brain several times for the message to sink in.  (And, OK, we ALL know that I am imbalanced.)

I think one reason that my brain has been hesitant to settle on this word is because committing to it means I have to make some hard decisions and then execute those decisions.  This will push me outside my comfort zone, but we all need to live outside our comfort zones, right?  Still, this will be one of the biggest challenges of this exercise.

Yesterday was a special day in the life of our church, and for my family!  My son, Logan, was ordained and installed as the youth elder on session for the upcoming year.  (The session is the governing body for our local church.) From this point on, Logan will always be a fully ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church, USA.  It is indeed an honor, and I hope he understands just how much so.  The most special part of the morning was the actual ordination, when all ordained elders, deacons and clergy were invited to come lay hands on the person being ordained.  Since I am also an elder in PCUSA, I was standing right next to Logan with my hand on his shoulder.  What an honor to be able to share that moment with him!

Logan, just before the ordination ceremony.
Logan with Pastor Brad, just before the ordination ceremony.

It was another fun weekend as far as sports were concerned!  Bonham High School soccer tied 2 games and lost 1 in their season-opening tournament, a HUGE improvement over last year.  Last year at this same tournament, we got our rear ends handed to us over and over, and we were not able to maintain possession of the ball.  This year, however, we were able to maintain possession of the ball roughly half the time, if not more, and we out-shot our opponents in the games we tied.  Eventually the ball WILL find the back of the net!

Alli played in her first basketball game of the season in our local rec league.  She scored 11 of our 13 points, including a buzzer-beater that put us ahead 1 point, for the win!  I mustered as much excitement as is possible for me to muster for a basketball game.  All I could think about was what a ball hog she seemed to be, although I wonder if it was the coach’s strategy?  (I know NOTHING about basketball.)  In any case, my biggest concern is that throwing the basketball doesn’t cause her to start throwing her elbows out when she attempts to set a volleyball….because elbows out won’t work for a setter.  #obsessivevolleyballmom

Our sweet young ladies after their thrilling 1-point win!
Our sweet young ladies after their thrilling 1-point win!

BIG congrats to my daughter, Taylor, as her team finished VERY well in this weekend’s ranking tournament.  There are 3 BIG tournaments in our region and this was the first, which is used for the initial team rankings that will be released later this week.  Her finish should put her team in the top 30, which is PHENOMENAL!!  I know she was proud of the effort from her girls.  Taylor is a great volleyball player, but I think her true calling is as a coach!  She is disciplined but fun and could motivate a fence post to greatness, if she wanted!

Taylor's team from last year.  YES, these 14 year-olds were all taller than her ;) (She is back row on the right)
Taylor’s team from last year. YES, these 14 year-olds were all taller than her 😉 (She is back row on the right)

I’ll leave you with an update on my personal quest to get back out on the roads.  For more reasons that you care to read, I decided to move ahead to the next phase of rehab and started Sunday.  In this phase, I add weights to the strength exercises (3x/week), bike for 60 min every other day and walk for 30 min on the days I don’t bike.  So yesterday morning I did my strength exercises and hopped on the bike trainer for an hour in the afternoon.  I’m NOT complaining, but riding for an hour and going nowhere is difficult mentally.  I looked at my watch, literally, almost every 2 minutes.  Today, I have a little tightness in my ITB, but I halfway expected this, since this is the longest sustained exercise I have done since running the marathon on December 14.  Even so, I don’t have any discomfort and the tightness isn’t severe, by any standards.  I am so encouraged by the way my body has responded this last week and am allowing myself to be cautiously excited about my return to running in two weeks!!

It’s Monday….all day!  Make the best of it and drink coffee when needed!

Jen

Earthquake aftermath and Texas is FROZEN!

After I posted yesterday, my preacher’s wife (who grew up in Cali) promptly commented about how she was screaming at the TV when our local news outlets were reporting all the earthquakes.  Because, according to her, after the first one the rest were after shocks.  She was appalled that they were using the wrong lingo!  I hadn’t even thought about after shocks until she pointed them out (she was correct, of course), but the ground WAS shaking, so we Texans don’t really care WHAT you call it – it’s all terrible!  Perhaps I should remind her that she DID move to Texas, where we are ignorant about such things, and are all too happy to remain that way!  (By the way, ONLY in Texas would it be necessary for the news to instruct the public NOT to call 911 in the event of an earthquake, except in the case of a terrible injury!  That really happened yesterday!!)

As I’m writing this, though, I remember when my preacher and his family first moved to town from the big city and couldn’t believe that the weather sirens didn’t sound during a terrible storm.  Apparently in the metroplex the sirens go off in the event of lightening and thunder, but in our little town, the sirens rarely go off unless a tornado is ON ITS WAY!  If you hear them, then you KNOW it’s time to run for cover!  And when they do go off, you must brace yourself for all the Facebook posts about it! Haha!!  I’m glad they are good sports about it and don’t mind me laughing at them! 🙂

Last night, Alli and I did this:

Vanilla on the left and Snickerdoodle on the right
Vanilla on the left and Snickerdoodle on the right

Not sure if I mentioned that one of my Christmas gifts was a KitchenAid mixer, but one of my Christmas gifts was a KitchenAid mixer!!  We have already put it to good use MANY times!  Our assistant coach’s birthday is Saturday and OF COURSE I volunteered to make cupcakes!!  We made my vanilla cake recipe, scooped out 12 cupcakes then added cinnamon to the remaining batter to make Snickerdoodle.  We frosted the vanilla cupcakes with vanilla butter cream and the Snickerdoodle with a snickerdoodle cream cheese frosting, of course!  This was our very first time using a frosting bag, and we LOVED it!  Alli knew all the ins and outs of using one, as I learned last night, because she watches baking videos on YouTube quite often!

I KNOW that complaining about 12 degree temps may just earn me a lynching from my Northern friends, but I DO live in Texas and it is freaking COLD!!!  In addition, my little area had the LOWEST temp in the region this morning!

That's me - 12 degrees at the top of the map.  I'm sure it's Oklahoma's fault!
That’s me – 12 degrees at the top of the map, right on the Red River and Oklahoma border. I’m sure these low temps are ALL Oklahoma’s fault!

Since it dropped below 20, I felt I should wear my coat.  Granted, it probably doesn’t even qualify as a jacket for people living in Canada, but it is a tad warmer than no jacket at all, which is my usual attire.  I figured Alli better bundle up as well and told her to go grab her purple Under Armour coat.  <look of confusion> Alli: “You mean the coat I got from Justice?” Me, “No, your UNDER ARMOUR coat.  The purple one.” <still giving me look of confusion>  Alli, “It’s in the bathroom and Logan is in there.” Me, “No, that is a hoodie.  Hoodies are NOT coats.  I’m talking about the PURPLE UNDER ARMOUR coat that we bought last year at the Under Armour store.  Remember?  The one we got on sale and you never wore, even to play in when it snowed??” Alli, “OH YEAH!!!!”  She wore it in the car.  Took it off before going into school.  <face palm>  We would all literally freeze to death if we lived where it was genuinely cold all winter.

Today marks the start of official games for Bonham High School 2015 soccer.  The boys are playing in a tournament and have games at 11:30 and 6:30 today and 3:00 tomorrow.  Saturday games depend on how they do in these 3 pool play games.  Yes, I will be going tonight.  I’m oddly excited, because I will be armed with my 6 blankets, mittens and hand warmers for my fingers and toes!  I’ll let you know how it goes!

Yesterday was also workout day.  I was allowed to ride my bike for 30 min and do strength exercises.  Everything was easier than Monday and I have NO issues to report!  I am beginning to get VERY excited about being able to run again soon!  I’m still planning to wait until the end of January, but am playing it by ear.  Just being able to do SOMETHING on the bike trainer has helped my mental state!

It’s Thursday, y’all, which means it’s almost Friday!

Topsy-turvy Texas craziness

I live in North Texas, about 70 miles North of Dallas.  We had NINE earthquakes yesterday.  NINE!!!!  The epicenters of most of yesterday’s quakes were around Irving, which is between Dallas and Ft.Worth.  The two strongest were 3.5 and 3.6, respectively, with the rest were under 3.  No, I did not feel any of the quakes.  I was in the area, just at the wrong time (or right time, depending on which way you look at it).  I have several friends who did feel the quakes and the news is reporting several houses with damage.  We Texans tend to use humor to deal with things that push us out of our comfort zone…

OK...earthquakes ARE serious, but I snickered at this!
OK…earthquakes ARE serious, but I snickered at this!

By the way, I feel much more prepared in the event of a tornado.  I can spot a wall cloud easily, tell if it is rotating and know when to run for cover.  Earthquakes??  All I know is that you’re supposed to stand in a doorway, but am unsure of that because didn’t that change??

A couple years ago, we had a handful of earthquakes in my town.  I felt NONE of them, although I’m not sure they were strong enough to register at all.  I was even awake and on the couch because I was unable to sleep during one when I read about it on Facebook.  Another miss.  I’m not sensitive to spirits either.  Just call me insensitive.

Logan is playing in a soccer tournament Thursday-Saturday.  Naturally, snow and sleet is predicted along with the coldest temps of the season.  This time, I will be prepared!!  My latest purchase was waiting for me when I got home yesterday.  These new mittens, along with hand warmers (for my fingers and toes) and the SIX blankets I have stowed in my car should keep me from freezing to death.

There is even a pocket for the hand warmer to keep my fingers toasty!
There is even a pocket for the hand warmer to keep my fingers toasty!

Yes, these mittens feel HUGE….they ARE huge!!  It will take some getting used to because I rarely wear gloves (I am 99.9% sure I have NEVER owned a pair of mittens).  In fact, I couldn’t even tell you where to find a pair of  gloves in my house.  I don’t wear coats until it is too cold to venture out without them (read: below freezing and/or wind over 20 mph), so gloves aren’t even a thought in my mind. I never wear gloves when running because after a mile, my hands get sweaty and I feel like I need to strip completely.  It’s better for all involved for me to deal with cold fingers for 10 minutes.

Speaking of running……I think I mentioned that I am using a rehab plan in a book I recently purchased.  Monday was the first day I started truly following the plan.  Last week I decided to take the week off and let things calm down, so all I did were the suggested stretches (3x/day) and foam rolling.  Monday I added the strength exercies (3x/week) and bike trainer (every other day) for 15-30 minutes.  I decided not to go ALL out first time and rode 22 min on the trainer.  Yesterday I felt great!!  I had no stiffness or soreness in my knee after sitting for the first time since my marathon!  I will be doing the trainer and exercises again tonight and, for the first time, I am beginning to get REALLY excited about this rehab process and my eventual return to running!

BUT, I still have A LOT of things to work on, one being my arm swing.  One of the first things that caught my eye from the book discussed your arm crossing your body and how that was a symptom of your body being out of sync.  (I think we all know by now that I am out of sync, and not just physically.)  When I posted this pic from the Plano Balloon Half Marathon in September, I commented about that left arm crossing my body.  Other race pics have shown that I don’t cross my body with my right arm.  I think it’s terribly interesting, but scares the heck out of me because I want to be balanced!!

Yes, I wore the SAME out fit in this race AND Dallas Marathon.  #creatureofhabit
Yes, I wore the SAME out fit in this race AND Dallas Marathon. #creatureofhabit

I don’t often do Woman Crush Wednesday, but am doing it today!  I am so blessed with all of my children, but Taylor continually surprises me with her kindness and compassion.  And each time I wonder why she suprises me.  I mean, I raised her and know what a tender heart she has!  Surprised or not, I just love her “never take no for an answer” attitude.  IF it can be done, she will find the way!  And if you tell her it can’t be done – just get out of her way, because she WILL prove you wrong!

This past week, one of her college friends was involved in a wreck in which she was not at fault.  The person that caused the wreck drove away.  Her car was totaled, and since she did not have full coverage on the car, will not be financially able to replace it.  She had a job lined up for the spring to help out until she can get a teaching job next Fall, but without a car was going to be forced to quit.

In true Taylor fashion, she immediately started trying to figure out a way to help out her friend.  When she was discussing the situation with us, she asked if we could help her pay the tax on a car, because she was planning to buy it herself!  As it turns out, Bobby has been wanting to upgrade a van that he uses for work….perfect timing, right?  So Taylor cleaned up the van and delivered it to her friend Monday evening.

Taylor continually reminds me that it only takes one person to make the world a better place.
Taylor continually reminds me that it only takes one person to make the world a better place.

I wanted to leave you with a story that one of the volleyball mom’s shared with me this past weekend.  She was playing a game with her daughter, Blair (who just happens to be one of Alli’s favorite teammates!).  They were to answer the question, “Name a female athlete.”  The mom’s answer was Misty May Trainor, but Blair’s answer was ALLI’S MOM, because she is a RUNNER!   I knew there was a reason I love that kid!!

Blair is the one being held.  These girls were SO excited when they learned they were picked for 10 National!
Blair is the one being held….these 3 played together last year.  This pic is from tryouts after they found out they were all picked for the National team.

Happy Hump Day everyone!!