Blowing through the Windy City

Last Thursday, the girls in my family flew up to Chicago for the Windy City National Qualifier.  Alli and her teammates were looking to get a bid to Nationals in the 12s division.  Luckily, I was able to meet some Twitter running friends and squeeze in some sight-seeing and drink A LOT  of beer before the whirlwind trip was over!  The weather was so cooperative and beautiful – it was *almost* like Texas!!

The Important Stuff: Volleyball

After a series of unfortunate events, we finally opened the door of our hotel room at 11:30 PM Thursday night.  (Hint: this was NOT the way to start a weekend of virtually non-stop volleyball.)  Luckily, Alli was asleep before midnight.  Those few extra moments of sleep didn’t help much, though, because the team was meeting for breakfast in the lobby at 6:45 AM before heading to the convention center to start day 1 pool play.

We were at a disadvantage, as our first 2 matches were scheduled back-to-back.  Our girls played like zombies, as if they had never seen a volleyball before in their life.  We lost the first match in 2 sets (should have easily won) then had to go right into the next match, which would be the most difficult team in our pool.  The girls still didn’t have their wits about them because they had not recovered from the first shocking loss and lost in 2 sets….again.  Me?  I was in my own zombie-like state court side, too tired to care that we had just screwed ourselves for THE ENTIRE TOURNAMENT.

Alli has....defensive issues. I get SO EXCITED when she digs the ball!
Alli has….defensive issues. I get SO EXCITED when she digs the ball!

After a break, we played again and this time, won easily (LIKE WE SHOULD HAVE THE FIRST TWO GAMES!!).img_8001

Saturday proved to be much better and we easily won all 3 matches, even though they still didn’t play up to their normal level.  Sunday play was the same – the competition was a tad bit more difficult but we still pulled off wins easily.img_8007

When it was all said and done, we ended up 9th.  Not too shabby, but still disappointing because we know how much better these girls can play – how much better they actually do play!!img_8029

Running Friends are THE BEST

I have some Twitter friends in Chicago that I was hoping to connect with and…..it worked out!!

Jenn came up on Friday after the tournament and drove me all around Chicago showing me the city.  She even brought me some protein balls so that I could have healthy snacks for the tournament!  She is just as fun and sweet as she comes across on Twitter!  We made it back just in time to have dinner with Alli’s team.  I enjoyed visiting with her so much and am so thankful that I was able to get that opportunity!img_7946

On Saturday, Elizabeth and her husband, Steve, drove in and actually spent the afternoon stuck in the convention center with me!  I am so glad that I was able to meet them both!!  I LOVE Elizabeth and would have been so sad if meeting up hadn’t worked out.  She came bearing gifts as well.  She definitely knows the way to my heart!  (I feel the need to confess that we also had a beer in the hotel bar that is attached to the convention center! LOL)

I shared Jenn's protein balls with Elizabeth :)
I shared Jenn’s protein balls with Elizabeth 🙂
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SO. GOOD!!!

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Wisconsin beer. Pretty damn good.
Wisconsin beer. Pretty damn good.

I am SO LUCKY that my running pal, Rebecca, came along on this trip.  I actually met her through this team and am SO THANKFUL that our paths crossed.  We are actually very compatible runners (or at least I think so), and we had the most wonderful time running along the lake and river fronts early Saturday morning.  This was the highlight of my trip (besides meeting new friends), for sure!!img_7954

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Beer, Beer, more Beer and Other Things

I am not going to lie – I drank quite a bit of beer in Chicago and it was all DELICIOUS!!!  In between my beer breaks, I managed a little sight-seeing.

I downed this in the airport before leaving Texas. It just seemed appropriate.
I downed this in the airport before leaving Texas. It just seemed appropriate.
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The Poet Oatmeal Stout. You can never go wrong with an Oatmeal Stout.
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Eh. I drank this one because it was Easter weekend and this was called Messiah.
Left Hand Milk Stout - my new favorite!
Left Hand Milk Stout – my new favorite!

I took Alli to Dylan’s Candy Bar on Saturday….not surprisingly she claims this as the most treasured part of her trip!img_7979

Sunday included a MUST – deep dish pizza at Giordano’s.  It was SO GOOD.  If I lived in Chicago, I would have to work out a lot more because I would be eating ALL THE FATTY FOOD!img_8044-1

Taylor and I managed to get to “Cloud Gate” in Millennium Park on Sunday before leaving for the airport.  Most people call it “The Bean”, because of its kidney bean shape.  Whatever you want to call it – it was cool!img_8054

And, of course, couldn’t resist a pic of the famous “L”!!img_8031-1

I still haven’t recovered from the trip, but it was so worth it!  We had a great time!!

Happy Hump Day!

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Wilderness Adventures and Guinea Pig Murders

I have really good intentions of posting more often, but life is really getting in the way!

Last week, I found out that I DO NOT need bifocals….or corrective lenses, for that matter, which obviously made my week!!  That was until 15 minutes later when I drove through to grab Logan a hamburger and couldn’t find my wallet.  No worries….it was safely in my purse.  Why didn’t I look there first?  LOL

Wilderness Adventures

Ok, I didn’t really go on a “wilderness” adventure, but my sister, brother and I went out on Saturday afternoon to survey my mom’s 113 acres.  I haven’t been over there in AGES and it has really changed….changed in the fact that it is completely overgrown with thorn-producing trees and plants! IMG_5261

Somehow, I managed to escape the situation without poison ivy or poison oak, which is nothing short of miraculous.  I am extremely allergic to those terrible vines.  As soon as I got home, I stripped, threw my clothes in the washing machine and immediately took a shower to wash off any plant oil with which I may have come in contact.  At this point, I think I am good, since 4 days have come and gone and I have no sign of an itchy, red rash! *whew*

Since the “roads” were overgrown and practically impassable, we were on foot for much of the tour.  I felt like Bear Grylls – all I needed was a machete!

Yes...we worked our way through this!
Yes…we worked our way through this!
An area rooted up by feral pigs, literally the biggest menace in Texas!
An area rooted up by feral pigs, literally the biggest menace in Texas!
The cabin my oldest nephew built for high school weekend campouts has definitely seen better days!
The cabin my oldest nephew built for high school weekend campouts has definitely seen better days!

Guinea Pig Murder

In my ONE post last week, I mentioned Alli’s new pet guinea pig.  Turns out, she didn’t really like the guinea pig so I advertised the Great Guinea Pig Give-Away on Facebook Sunday evening.  Almost immediately we had found a new home for Bevo and the new family wanted to pick him up that evening.  Bobby put Bevo in the cardboard box in which we brought him home and placed it on Alli’s desk.  I took the cage outside for a cleaning.  When I came back into the house, Sophie was at the end of the hallway WITH Bevo in her mouth!  I have NO idea how a miniature dachshund was able to get that box off the desk in the first place.  In any case, Bevo was dead within minutes and I had to call the family back to tell them they would be getting an empty cage.  So far, no one has spilled the beans to Alli.  As far as she is concerned, we gave the guinea pig away! LOL

Bevo's last pic...literally less than an hour before his untimely demise!
Bevo’s last pic…literally less than an hour before his untimely demise!

Time for Cupcakes

It’s been a while since Alli and I baked cupcakes.  Monday evening we whipped up a batch of Red Velvet and last night we made my favorite, Kahlua.  Alli even tried a new fancy frosting decoration on some of the Red Velvet!IMG_5309

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Hitting My Stride

As I look back through my recovery journey since August 3, I am absolutely amazed at the progress I have made.   In August, I somehow managed to run 59 miles.  That number is incredible to me, considering I started with a 30 min 2:1 run:walk interval my first time out!  Last week, I ran 23 miles!!  I stopped focusing on mileage as a number quite some time ago, but I feel incredibly blessed right now because those 23 miles last week were the most amazing miles I’ve run since last year’s ITB injury.  The actual running has felt effortless – my runs would have been completely effortless if not for this stubborn, humid heat!  I am not currently having any of the post-run stiffness that I was experiencing before my stress fracture occurred, which I have also been battling as I have been rebuilding my strength and my running base.

Soul Sister 7 Mile Race

My friend Jenn and I signed up for a virtual race hosted by GoneForARun.com – Soul Sister Run which was 7 miles and to be run 8/28-30.  However, Jenn ended up with stitches in her foot so we postponed in order to run the race “together”….virtually. 🙂

Sunday morning, I set out on the run and it was amazing!!! And HOT!  I didn’t “race” it, because I am still building base and I will be racing Plano Balloon HM on 9/20.  I ran it at my turtle long slow run pace.

This will be the ONE and ONLY time I wear a race shirt on race day!IMG_5281

The funny thing is….you can’t tell that this shirt is completely soaked with sweat.  It was a hot one, but a good one!

Happy Hump Day Friends!

Jen

 

Taco Libre…Street Tacos….and Rum!!

When I imagined my summer, I imagined lounging around by the pool and having wads of free time with which to do whatever I wanted.  I have made the point to lounge by the pool at least a few minutes each day, but as far as wads of free time?  Pretty much non-existent.  Still, I am enjoying not having a schedule set in stone.  Probably the most enjoyable part is getting up each day and enjoying my coffee without obligations hanging over me.  I am managing to get things accomplished and having a little fun along the way.

This weekend Alli played in the All-Star Tournament with our local softball league.  The fact that she has barely practiced or played (due to volleyball obligations) and still manages to make key plays and contribute good things to the team speaks to what a great athlete she truly is.  I enjoyed watching her success on the diamond.  As a third base player, she was able to tag several out, she threw players out at home a couple of times and even caught a couple of pop flies!  Her batting was decent, and she managed to get on base most at-bats.  The team ended up getting 2nd place, which would have earned a bid to the State Tournament had we been able to field a full roster.  However, we were playing with a 10-man roster and the rules state a full roster of 12 is required to advance.  Honestly, I’m glad because I don’t want to travel for another sport right now!  LOL!!

I rushed from the Saturday morning softball game to meet my friend Erica (@anotherhalfpls) to head to the Taco Libre Festival in Downtown Dallas.  Another friend, Dara (@daralem) was meeting us at the venue.  Erica noticed almost immediately that we were shoe twinkies!! TOMS twinkies

Apparently I am famous for my love of street tacos, because when this festival was announced in the Dallas Morning News, I was tagged on Facebook by MULTIPLE people.  I appreciate all of them trying to keep me informed, as this festival did not disappoint.  The tacos were delicious!!  And YES, I ate MEAT!  But just as important…..I had RUM!!  And I’m still trying to figure out the secret ingredients in this sweet elixir!RUM

The turnout was more than event organizers had expected, as they were nearing capacity when we finally arrived around 3 PM.  The lines were long for tacos and drinks, but divide and conquer was the Order of the Day.  We strategically sent one person for drink refills while another would get the next round of tacos and yet another would save our spot in the shade.  Teamwork really does make the dream work! pineapple pork tacos

Note to self:  drinking too much rum can inhibit your ability to remember to take pics of your food!  This is just one of the delicious tacos I consumed.  The live music was good – my favorite band was Pinata Protest, a Mariachi/Heavy Metal band from the San Antonio area.  In addition to live music, there was also the show of Lucha wrestling….and it was as corny and terrible as you would expect.  However, now I’m compelled to watch the TV show on Spike!

Not a clue what the referee did/was supposed to do.  I think they were required to have someone in a striped shirt in the ring!
Not a clue what the referee did/was supposed to do. I think they were merely required to have someone in a striped shirt in the ring!

When we had our fill of Rum (Vodka, in Erica’s case), tacos and wrestling, we made our way to Dara’s car.  Erica brought along her brother’s selfie stick and had TOO MUCH FUN with it.  I never thought I would say I had my pic taken with a selfie stick.  A good reminder to never say never.  erica

selfie stick

why

Ok….I’ll admit it was more fun than I had expected.

Dara was the ultimate trooper, since as she was shuttling Erica and I back to our cars and never complained when we would yell out for her to exit RIGHT NOW!  We made a couple of important stops.  First, we stopped at Trailercakes, because no outing is complete without cupcake goodness.  Our last stop was Total Wine, where I had to exercise self-control I didn’t even know I had.  Otherwise, Dara’s car could never have carried all the yumminess I wanted to buy!trailercakes

Until next time,

Happy Hump Day!!! (and Happy Canada Day for all my Canadian friends!)

Jen

 

Skyline Half: Race Recap

This will be my second (feeble) attempt at blogging a race recap.  My first time was fitting as it was about my first marathon.  I have remembered so many things since from that race that, during the race I wanted to add to the blog, but didn’t recall when I was writing the post.  I sat down after this race to jot down some notes, but I already know I will pale in comparison to my seasoned, more-wordy blogger friends. 🙂

Pre-Race

 I was up at the butt-crack of dawn (which is to say that I was up at my usual wake-up time) aka 4:45 AM.  Luckily I had prepared my coffee the night before so all I had to do was hit the start button.  (Yes, I have tried the timer and NO, I don’t use it.  I just don’t trust myself to set it correctly.)  So I started my coffee and while it was brewing, showered and got dressed.  I was so worried that I was going to forget something even though I packed my bag the night before.  I’m going to spoil it for you now and tell you that I did not get out of the house with everything I needed.  The good news is that I only forgot 2 things.  The bad news is that both those items were food/fuel-related.  OK….back on track.  So I got dressed and grabbed my first cup of coffee (fittingly out of the coffee cup my Twitter sole sister @karaokejennjenn sent me!) and finally started to wake up.  As my English muffin was toasting, I checked my bag and set everything by the door.  Then I inhaled ate my usual breakfast of cinnamon raisin English muffin with peanut butter, honey and cinnamon.  (This seriously makes me soooooo happy every morning!)  At 5:45, I was out the door and had all my bags (and coffee!) in the car.

Barely made it Arrived at Race!Bridge

After a couple of “set-backs” en route, I arrived at the race with roughly 30 minutes to spare.  Normally this would stress me out, but this time wasn’t as big of a big deal, since this race was such a small one anyway.  However, I really needed to pee.  So my first order of business (after pinning my bib on) was to find a port-a-potty.  I was able to find a couple and got in line, only to have a race volunteer shoo us away because 2 of the 3 were out of toilet paper.  (Looking back, it might have been best to drip dry in the paper-less potty.)  We were sent down the hill to the main potty location, which also had a long line by this point.

The actual potties are in the top left of the pic.  Terribly long when you are about to wet your shorts.
The actual potties are in the top left of the pic. Terribly long when you are about to wet your shorts.

When I had arrived, I texted my Twitter friend, Erica (@anotherhalfpls) because we were planning to meet up and celebrate Dara’s (@daralem) birthday with tacos and (my) cupcakes after the race.  Would you believe that they arrived after I did, found a port-a-potty, used it and found me STILL in my potty line?  By the time they found me, I had to pee so badly that my mouth was watering.  Seriously it was nearing defcon 5!  Luckily, I made it before I had an accident AND made it to the start with 5 minutes to spare (even if the 5 minutes was courtesy of a late race start ;).

The potty wasn’t my only pre-race problem, though.  I had intended to grab a banana at the house to eat just before the race, since it would be almost 3 hours since eating breakfast by the time the race started.  Sadly, I did not remember the banana (the first of 2 forgotten food items), so I was basically starving at this point! But, oh well.  Couldn’t change anything, so I decided I wouldn’t stress over it (SOOOOO not me).  PLUS, when if things went awry, I would have a great excuse because everyone knows improper fueling can derail a race!

The Race

 This was the inaugural running of the Skyline Half Marathon.  It was a small race put on by Run Project in the Dallas area.  There were around 850 runners total, with roughly 350 of those running the half marathon.  Even though this was a small race, the numbers seemed high for the trails that we ran beneath the bridge.  The start was crowded and it seemed to take well over a mile before the crowds started to thin.  race start

My partner was running the race with me to pace me so that I didn’t run lights out until I passed out on the sidewalk (don’t laugh – it could have happened).  Seriously, though, he has come to know me very well and knows that I wouldn’t have been able to resist the urge to run full-throttle from the start, which could have led me right back into another injury.  As I stated last week, this was to be executed as a “training” run, although I knew from the start we would run a bit faster than our usual slower-than-a-turtle long slow run pace.  He had told me that the first 10 miles would be run around 11:15, with us increasing speed the last 3 miles to 10:30 or so.  (Please know that I protested this in full-blown toddler tantrum mode, even though these paces were much faster than our turtle long slow runs.)

For those of you who have the Garmin Forerunner 620 and have always wondered what the “Race” activity profile does, you’re in luck because I used that profile.  If you are someone who runs a race purely on “feel”, then this setting will work for you, as the only thing displayed is distance and time.  (You will get the usual mile split notification on each mile.)  If you are like me and look down at your watch only to realize you’re going 1:30 faster than you thought/should….this is not the profile you should use on race day.  At race start, I wasn’t too concerned about this, since I wasn’t to worry about pace anyway….that was the partner’s job.  LOL

Mile 1 came in at 11:16, much to my dismay after he had announced that we had gone out too fast and rattled off a 10:45 pace (I had gotten a bit excited that he was going to let us run faster than planned).  Of course, he is nothing, if not steady and our next 4 miles came in around 11:20-11:35 – all slower than I wanted, but he assured me it was well within his race plan, within his “fudge factor” as he called it.  My legs felt really fresh and everything felt so good.  I was able to get into a good groove early on and even tried to run off and leave him several times (not on purpose…just me in my ‘zone’)…until he asked where I was going.  I reminded him that the rope around my waist might have been a good idea.  Around mile 5, he told me that he was going to cut me loose at mile 7.  I seriously nearly screamed. (I have a feeling this may have been his plan all along.  I’m glad that he waited to tell me, though!)  I was sooooo excited!  I found it hard to contain my excitement and still kept trying to motor off.  I was feeling so strong at this point.  However, in the back of my head, I wondered what the second half would bring because of the second food item I had forgotten at home: my gel.

When our watches alerted us to mile 7, my partner told me to go run my race, that he knew I was ready and I would do great.  And as I ran ahead of him, he reminded me not to run it as hard as I could and to try to hold myself back a little.  Mile 8 came in at 10:30, roughly 1:00 faster than our previous miles.  I spent some time trying to get into a rhythm without running full-out.  I wanted to post negative splits, but I knew that I needed some extra strategy to navigate those end-of-race miles without any fuel.  I’ve never run that far without fueling and my breakfast had been sooooo long ago.  Mile 9 came in at 10:52.  I’m not quite sure what happened to cause that, because even though I made all these mental notes during the race…..I can’t remember!  I’m sure it was ALL due to lack of fuel.  LOL!!!  I did realize after mile 9 that I needed to start accelerating my pace.  Mile 10 came in at 10:02 and at this point, I was around the 1:50 mark and knew that I would really have to push it to finish before 2:30.  (A slower than 2:30 finish was really bugging me.  I just didn’t think I could live with that.)  At the mile 10 water stop, I decided I should probably drink Gatorade to give me something resembling fuel.  I didn’t chase it with water, however, and pushing the pace, along with the blazing heat caused me do develop some nausea.  I’m certain it had NOTHING to do with the big-ass bridge I had just climbed in the blazing sun.  (For the record, I still LOVE hills….and I won against that bridge!)  I kept pushing, though, and miles 11-13 came in at 9:53, 9:40, 9:47.  I could tell the heat and lack of fuel were taking a toll because I could feel my quads and was starting to feel a little fatigued.   There were 2 more water stations and I walked through both of those, but this time I chased the Gatorade with water.  It was just enough to keep me going.  Miles 12-13 were brutally hot and it wasn’t made any better from the way I was pushing myself.  However, I still felt SO STRONG!  I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t had any issues at all, and I began to realize that I could finish the race in a good physical and mental state.  The last .10 came in at 9:16 pace, but that was an easy push as I was under the bridge and in the shade by that point.  My official finish was 2:23:50, which is almost 8 minutes off my half marathon PR of 2:14:00 (which isn’t to be confused with my training PB of 2:04 :).  I’ll gladly take it, though, because the run was amazing!

Yes, Marci, I am keeping this medal! ;)
Yes, Marci, I am keeping this medal! 😉

Race Lessons

Every race teaches some lessons and this one is no different.

First and foremost, this race gave me back my confidence and swagger.  That may sound funny to a lot of you, but I am completely serious.  My spirit was almost broken with that ITB injury and I didn’t trust my body.  I still didn’t fully trust my body coming into this race, even with some of the amazing strides that I had made during training.  I owe all of that to my partner and coach.  Without his guidance to train smart, I can almost guarantee I would be injured again.  I appreciate his help so very much.

Second, Jen shouldn’t use the race profile on her Garmin.  I need to be able to adjust my pace more often than every mile and I felt like I was running blind when I was finally cut loose on my own.  Until I gain the experience to know the feel of each pace, I need to keep my watch out of race mode!

We walked through every water stop.  My partner is a big believer in this and I just shook my head at him.  However, it was WAY better than carrying my own water and it really didn’t affect my time.  I really enjoyed not having all that “stuff” to carry.

This was my first race without music.  I haven’t run with music since my partner and I started running together in March, so this is the farthest distance I’ve gone without it.  I really don’t miss it at all anymore, and I can even handle solo runs without it.  I do think that it is helping me listen to my body and stay more in touch with myself during the run.

This isn’t really a “lesson”, but I MUST work on my mental game during races.  On the races where the course loops back around, I have difficult time dealing with seeing the other runners passing by the other way.  It just seems like I will NEVER get to the turn-around point and in this race, there were two!!

Post-Race Party Time!

Personally, I was disappointed with the post-race support provided by the race organizers.  There was a water station just past the finish line, but then runners were herded up to street level to get medals.  So up to street level we went.  There was a tent with breakfast burritos and bananas….but NO WATER!  So of course we headed over to the beer tent and tried out a new lager that a local brewery was sampling.  Lakewood Brewery out of Garland was giving away their newest brew, Lakewood Lager.  I’m not a big beer drinker, but it was decent and it was wet and cold.  Wet and cold met all the specifications I needed in a beverage at that point.  After the beer, I headed to change clothes and meet Erica and Dara after their finish.

Erica, Dara and I were planning to meet another Twitter friend, Maegen (@MtotheG7) at Rusty’s Tacos in Plano to celebrate Dara’s birthday and our completion of the race.  Erica was in rare form, still angry at Mother Nature for blessing us with another blazing hot race day and causing her face to be ‘white with salt’. (STILL laughing over that remark)   (She had melted in Plano Balloon Half last Fall and I think she still has flashbacks of how terrible it was.)  This was my first time to eat at Rusty’s and I was not disappointed.  I am Texan, after all, and ALWAYS game for street tacos.  I was SO HUNGRY that I almost forgot to take a pic!! Rustys

We sat out on the patio and, surprisingly, it was so lovely and breezy.  It was NOTHING like the race course! The girsl

And after we were stuffed with tacos, everyone got a box of birthday cupcakes!Dara's bday cupcakes

 Have I mentioned how much I love making cupcakes?

And now, two days post race, I am feeling FABULOUS!!  I have zero soreness in my muscles and minimal tightness.  I even ran an easy 30 min this morning and it felt amazing!! The race was a win all the way around!

Have a terrific Tuesday!

Jen

When the gods of running (and volleyball) smile upon you

 

I think this was me this morning.
Nothing to do with the post except that it is Monday after Spring Break.

Last week, the gods of running smiled down upon me.  Most of you are probably already laughing, since you already know that the gods of running rarely smile on me.  That, or their sense of humor is extremely warped.  OK, their humor is probably extremely warped.

First, I’ll give a bit of the back story for those who may not know.  For 2 years, my friend, Amy, was my trusty running partner.  She was the navigator and the pacer.  I was the trainer (go ahead and laugh) and the water/fuel girl.  Amy LITERALLY held me back – but that was a good thing.  When I would get in “the zone” and start to speed up, she would grab me and tell me to slow down!!!  I embraced training without her, though – and when I had to run without her I did my own thing when I wanted and how I wanted (which, I admit, wasn’t the SMARTEST approach I could have taken….note running gods’ warped sense of humor.)  And unless you’ve been living under a rock, or this is the first time reading my blog, I ran my first marathon on a bum ITB and had to take 7 weeks off before I could start slowly running again (which was, no doubt, directly related to the way I trained without a partner).

Training post-marathon/ITB rehab has been going fairly well.  I have occasional aches and pains; of course at least one of my muscle groups is ALWAYS tight, but I have been dealing with the issues as they arise in a surprisingly smart fashion, especially for me.

Last week, I crossed paths with another runner….in my hometown.  That is noteworthy, people.  That’s not to say that there aren’t runners in my hometown (because there are plenty).  I just don’t know of any that consistently run the distances that I like to run <read: not as obsessive as Jen>.  It just so happens that he recently moved to town and needed to know places to run (and wouldn’t mind having a running partner).  We exchanged numbers and were able to coordinate running together last week.  If you are a runner, you know that finding a running partner that is compatible with you is…..well, difficult.  (And if you are an introvert, this is very reason that you never seek out running partners in the first place.)  I think we both felt that it is a good fit, and since he is a good pacer, it’s a GREAT fit for me! Our first run felt a lot like Crazy Jen going to confession.  Clearly he needed to know what a running nut he was dealing with (to make an informed decision, of course), so I rehashed all the stupid things I have done in the name of the run.  But the good thing is that he doesn’t care that I’m crazy, or is just THAT desperate for someone to run with, so it looks like it’s going to work out for both of us! 🙂

This weekend was a whirlwind of volleyball (I know….what’s new??) First, the team that Taylor coaches was playing in the Mid-East Qualifier in St. Louis.  USAV sanctions a handful of qualifiers across the country and the WINNING team (singular) per division is awarded a bid to USAV Junior Nationals in June.  Taylor’s team was playing in a division with 100 other teams and her team made it into the Gold bracket, which was the top 16 of the tournament!  They ended up losing the first match of the Gold bracket to the eventual winner of the division, which effectively ended their hunt for a bid, but she was so proud of how her team ended up.

Taylor is back row, far right.  Yes, she is shorter than ALL her players, even her liberos.
Taylor is back row, far right. Yes, she is shorter than ALL her players, even her liberos.

On the fight into St. Louis, Taylor said the guy next to her kept bending over and talking to his feet.  She wasn’t quite sure how to react, so she asked if he was talking to her.  He said no…..he was talking to his Dachshund, who was IN his carry-on bag!doxie

She got the biggest kick out of it!

Alli played in a tournament this weekend as well.  Before we left, she whipped up some cupcakes all by herself!Alli's cupcakes

Too bad that she left them on the counter, which means we didn’t get to share any with her teammates.

On Saturday, we were in a terribly weak pool.  Even though we were seeded 2nd in the pool, we easily won every game.  No one scored on us more than 16 points per set all day.  Alli served at least 50 points, which is CRAZY!  She was on a roll and her serves were smokin’ hot!  Since the facility was 1.5 hours from home, we reserved a hotel room for the night (because I KNEW we would be back at the gym by 7 AM!) and ate dinner with one of her teammates.

Celebratory dessert for earning 1st in our pool!
Celebratory dessert for earning 1st in our pool!

I wish my camera could have captured how wide their eyes got when the server brought out the apple pie.  First, she poured cream onto a hot plate, then added the apple pie and topped it with a scoop of ice cream.  They enjoyed every bite!

I knew that the bracket would be tough for us on Sunday, because were some decent 12s teams in the tournament.  We easily beat the first team we faced, but met our match in the second round.  This team attacked every ball, played great defense and tough serves, but the thing that threw us off was the way they worked the net.  We haven’t faced many teams that are good at blocking and working the net, so we had some adjustments to make in that regard.  Our little Frogs hung tight and battled for every point, played great defense and attacked the ball, but we eventually dropped the first set 22-25.  The second set was a nail-biter, with each team trading points, keeping the game basically tied until it was 14-all.  At that point, the wind blew out of our sails and we started struggling, making mistakes that I have never seen from this team.  The loss put us at 5th place in the tournament of 21 teams, which is pretty good for a bunch of 10 year olds! 🙂volleyball mom shirt

I saw this shirt at the tournament and joked that I NEED it!  LOL  No…..I wouldn’t actually wear it.  But it was fun to joke about it!!

Happy Monday everyone!!

Jen

The “Spring Break” Break

Soooo….I’ve been off for Spring Break this week.  And even though I’ve not done much, I haven’t had time to do much, if that makes any sense.  So I haven’t had time to post a blog entry OR clean house OR do any of the things on my to-do list.

Aaaaand, I haven’t felt quite myself.  I haven’t slept well and although my stomach isn’t upset, it isn’t normal either.  I’ve also had some nagging soreness in my left SI joint…..an after effect of officiating 16 volleyball matches over the weekend, I suspect.  I have gotten a couple of runs in, though; my last one was yesterday and THIS happened.HR

You read that right.  Max HR was 149!!!!  AND that was on 15:1 intervals!  Even better, that sore SI joint doesn’t hurt at all during runs.  So even though things aren’t perfect, they are pretty darn good right now.

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably already know that I found an egg in my silverware drawer Sunday morning.  egg

Before you make any assumptions or comments; yes, this is strange for even my household.  My biggest concern was that I was responsible for this, because I hadn’t gotten eggs out in days which would have meant the egg was there all that time and I never noticed it.  But, after an investigation that would rival the FBI, I uncovered evidence in the form of witness testimony.  Taylor spent the night at home on Friday and Bobby cooked her breakfast before she left Saturday morning.  Still not exactly sure how the egg got into the silverware drawer, but I know that I’m not the cause which means I’m still hanging on to my slither of sanity.

My friends at work affectionately call me the “Food Nazi”.  People ask me all the time about running and how I maintain my weight.  My approach is pretty simple.  I try to avoid sugary drinks (except wine….wine is delicious!) and I want my food as close to the way it came from the Earth as possible.  I don’t eat fried foods very often, but I don’t deprive myself either.  Believe me, I eat PLENTY of cupcakes!  Anyway, I’m always happy to help hold people accountable, because I think the biggest problem is that people just eat….without any thought going into what they are putting in their body, or how much they are putting in their body.  Within the last 2 days, I’ve gotten ALL these comments!  Josh

First, one of my friends sent me this.  I don’t see him much, but I do know he has adopted my English muffin with peanut butter and honey for breakfast. 🙂carmen

Then, my friend Carmen, tagged me in this Instagram pic and even called me the food nazi!  LOL  Carmen is one of my dearest work friends, and she works so hard to eat healthy, although I’m proud of her for indulging herself when she wants!  Then, Donna commented on Carmen’s Facebook post.  donna

I’m not sure I’ve ever knocked food out of anyone’s hand…..but I do know Shannon HID from me one day when she brought back a bag of FRIED everything from Sonic! (Of course I caught her!)  Seriously, I think that when you start to view food as FUEL for your body, you want to put GOOD fuel in your body.  And putting less than great fuel in every once in a while is OK.  It’s all about balance.

Many of you know that I traded cars recently.  Of course, I immediately ordered replacement running stickers, but the weather has been so bad that Friday was the first chance for this to happen. TX runner

Isn’t that beautiful!!! ❤

Happy Thursday!!!

Jen

 

Fun Friday Q and A

I’ve noticed several bloggers have been doing Q&A posts recently, so I figured now is as good of a time as ever to answer some of those burning questions that I know are keeping you up at night!

1. How long have you been running and why/how did you start?  I have been running for 4 years.  The catalyst for my transition to a healthier lifestyle was seeing my fat arms in a picture that was taken from behind.  Nevermind that I had a muffin top and needed to lose 15 pounds, I was worried about the arm fat!  I started making healthier food choices almost immedately and started running with a Couch 2 5K program within a couple of weeks.  I ditched C25K when I had to walk for 5 min after running 8.  I figured it was easier to keep going….and I haven’t stopped since!  (Except for the stupid ITB injury, but I’m not going to mention that)

2.  Which Jen likes hills?  And why do you name them?  First, both Jens LOVE hills.  (If you are unfamiliar, I have a split personality: Crazy Jen and Sane Jen)  The bigger the hill, the better.  And, for the record, I’ve only named one hill… I affectionately call my “go-to” hill “Old Friend”.  (When I’m on my way to the hill, anway.  When I am 3/4 of the way up Old Friend, I usually say words that I hope other people don’t hear.)

Old Friend.  84' increase in .44 mile.  Making my mouth water just thinking about it!
Old Friend. 84′ increase in .44 mile. Can’t wait until I tackle this ‘friend’ again!

3.  If you could live anywhere other than Texas, where would it be?  I would not, could not live anywhere else.  So, if living in another state is required, I respectfully request to be taken out to the back 40 and put down like a lame horse.  Just make sure I’m buried in Texas!

Ain't Texas.  'nough said.
Ain’t Texas. ‘nough said.

4.  What is this obsession with peanut butter?  Peanut butter is quite possibly the most wonderful substance ever invented by man and is even better when paired with honey (God bless the bees!)  I consumed an inhuman amount of PB & honey during marathon training.  Even though I’m not 26.2 training these days, I still consume an inhuman amount of peanut butter.  This has, no doubt, been a big contributor to the 4 extra pounds I’m carrying around these days.

No caption needed.  This is greatness.
No caption needed. This is greatness.

5.  If you’re from Texas, why the hell don’t you own cowboy boots?!?!  I have owned cowboy boots, just not currently.  Even though I AM a die-hard Texan, I don’t pull off the ‘cowgirl look’ very well.  I can, however, pull off the ‘runner look’ without a hitch.

6.  What do you have against summer sausage?  Basically, if I have difficulty eating meat that has been ground up, mixed with mystery ingredients and shoved into a casing.  I have a similar aversion to bologna, weiners and the like.

Threw up in my mouth just looking at this pic!
Threw up in my mouth just looking at this pic!

7.  Why did you lock Crazy Jen up and throw away the key?  Crazy Jen caused a hitch in my get-along during marathon training.  Crazy Jen does things like: runs every long run at race pace, sets PBs during training, doesn’t strength train, doesn’t cross train, pushes through a run 6 miles after ITB starts hurting.  Just to name a few…  Let’s just hope I don’t lose my mind and go dig through the landfill to retrieve the key.

8.  Are crazy cupcakes for Crazy Jen?  Of course not!! All the Jens love all the cupcakes!  However, even Crazy Jen would prefer to avoid another Caramel Crack Cupcake debacle.

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

9.  What is it with the pink compression socks?  There’s really no color better than hot pink.  I do have to admit, it can be blinding, at times.  Since compression socks are $50/pair, the pink ones were the only ones I owned, for a time (so naturally I always wore pink compression socks).  Santa brought me some black ones, and I have to say that I really don’t like wearing black.  I know my ninja brothers and sisters would disagree, but black is soooooo boring!Compression socks

Yes, Coach Bounds RAN across the field when I came to stretch on the track after my run last August.  And YES, I know he was making fun of me, but I really didn’t care 😉

Happy Friday, Happy Weekend, Happy Spring Break!

Sane Jen