Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Well hello, my bloggy friends. It's been too long! Since our last visit I have been battling the crud that just won't leave me alone, Baby Munchkin had his first ear infection, Big Brother and I have been hard at work on his big Literature Fair project, we've planned and hosted a little carnival party, and...

my sweet baby boy turned 1.

In fact, he's been 1 for almost a week now, and I can't believe I haven't sat down to tell y'all a little something about this special little guy. Let's fix that.

Daddy-o and I always wanted at least 2 kiddos. When the oldest was about 2 we learned that we would likely have a tough road ahead if we wanted more babies. All of this made us really appreciate the miracle that our first baby was, but we definitely wanted our family to grow. Our particular issue causes early miscarriage, and we experienced 5 losses over about 5 1/2 years.

During much of this time, I put lots of things on hold, waiting for another child and planning and preparing for that day. I didn't want to return to teaching because my plan was to stay home until both of my kids were in school. I thought about more kids when we were making big purchases, like our house and cars. Gotta make sure they're big enough for when we have another baby. And I put off losing weight and getting healthy, saying I'd do that after my next pregnancy.

About 4 years into this journey, I finally realized that I had, in some ways, been missing out on the joy of my many blessings because I was waiting for this one more thing. I surrendered my plans and chose to trust that whatever God had for our family was what I wanted.

This was the beginning of my journey to health, when I decided to stop putting it off and to live each day the Lord gave me, with all of its joys and challenges, to its fullest.

So, you see, my baby boy is not only an amazing, long-awaited, miraculous answer to prayer, he also represents a journey that truly changed who I am. As we waited for him, I grew closer to God, gained a greater appreciation for the miracle that is my first baby, grew in my relationship with my husband, learned to surrender my plans and my will, and became a healthier, happier me.

Both of my kids really are my inspiration when I run. It means the world to me to see them on the course and at the finish line. And although it's not an easy, stress free job, I am forever thankful that God has made me a mommy.

My 2 high energy boys certainly keep me busy. My house stays messy, and I'm not at all sure I'll always be able to afford the grocery bill it'll take to keep these boys fed.

But they keep my heart full, and I am a proud mommy.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Warrior Dash Recap and an Unbelievable Announcement

O.K., I know I'm, like, days overdue for a recap of last weekend's Warrior Dash. I promise I've tried to sit down at the computer everyday this week, but it just wasn't happening, y'all.

Better late than never and all that, so here it is...

We headed down to Florida on Friday morning, arriving at my sister-in-law's house around dinner time. She had graciously agreed to watch Baby Munchkin so Daddy-o and I could both race. After a sleep filled with dreams of leaping fire and scaling walls, we got ourselves together and headed to Lake Wales to meet up with the other warrior hopefuls.

My little sis and I donned our costumes (custom made just for the occasion), while Daddy-o and my sister's friend Jess were sporting plain ol' athletic shorts and shirts (BORING! Although they did unintentionally match. Hee hee). My dad, step-mom, and my oldest munchkin tagged along to cheer us on.

As we arrived on the scene, we were greeted with LOTS of, ahem, "colorful" costumes. As we watched those who had already finished the race, we knew we were in for a good (albeit dirty!) time. We found a place to set up camp, watched a few folks go through the 2 obstacles we could see from the viewing area, and then it was our turn to line up. Here we go...

We started off slow, everyone trying to stay within sight of each other at least. We were there to have fun, not race for time. Daddy-o and I don't get to run together very often at all, so I wanted to stay with him. I run a lot more than he does, so my pace is a bit quicker. We ran at his pace as we moved along toward the first obstacle, a watery mud pit about shin to knee deep. As we hit the water, Daddy-o zoomed past me! Apparently he has mad skills when it comes to muddy water running! Who knew??? I had to step up the pace to keep up with him! Someone find us a race completely run in mud, and he will be a contender!

To summarize the rest of the course... We climbed over cars and ran through monster tires, jumped over 4 foot (ish?) walls and crawled under fences, walked across narrow beams, climbed cargo nets, waded through a pool of water while a massive fan blew in our faces, climbed over hay bales, crawled through thick, black mud in a dark pup tent, scaled a 15 foot (ish - I'm not always great with the height estimations) wall, jumped over fire (twice), and crawled under barbed wire in waist-high muddy water before we crossed the finish line. (I'm sure I'm forgetting some stuff, but you get the gist.) It was such a blast! I really thought it was over too soon!

It was a 5k course, and, like I said earlier, we were there to have fun, so we all hung relatively close together. When we finished and saw our times, I realized that, even with the obstacles and the waiting around we did on the course, and with all of us trying to stay together instead of running our "best" race, we finished in a time very close to the time it took me to run my very first 5k! Our time was 45:04, and I completed my first (very flat) race in somewhere around 43 minutes, with Daddy-o a couple of minutes behind me. Unbelievable how far we have both come since that race last May.

If there's a Warrior Dash in your area, sign up and give it a whirl! It's so much fun, there's a great party after (well, all day really), and you really do feel like a warrior in the end!

Oh, what's that you say? You want to know about this unbelievable announcement? I'm getting to that...

Let me just first tell you something I'm sure you've heard many, many times before -- NEVER SAY NEVER! Wanna know some things that I said I'd NEVER do?
  • "I'll never be a runner."
  • "I'll never run a mile in less than 9 minutes."
  • "I could never exercise early in the morning."
  • "I could never run a 5k."
  • "I would never run more than a 10k."
  • "I'll sign up for the half marathon, but I'll never be able to run it all. I'll just train to run-walk, I guess."
Guess what? I've now done every single one of those things I said I'd never do. And those are just the fitness-related ones. Don't even get me started on the things I said I'd never do as a mom! We'd be here all day.

There's one more NEVER I have said over and over again since I started this journey:
  • "I'll never run a full marathon."
Well, I am now officially registered for the 2011 Chicago Marathon!

Unbelievable. Most of all to me! I can't believe that I'm going to do this. Here's the thing, though. I know I can, and I know I will! I'll be training and travelling with a group of 15+ from my boot camp and running group. 15 of the most supportive, most inspirational, most fun, craziest people you will ever meet.

I can't wait.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Favorite Things Friday: Laundry

O.K., so the title of the post may be a little misleading. Laundry is most definitely NOT one of my favorite things! And we have SO much of it! This past year, within just a few short months, we added a new family member (Baby Munchkin) and I became a daily exerciser and runner. Now, those are two things that generate a ton of laundry, y'all! Babies and daily workouts = more changes of clothes and piles of stinky, messy clothes. I do not love it.

I have, however, recently come to love the "homemade" laundry detergent I have started to use. My sister posted about it on her blog awhile back, and to be honest, at first I was a skeptic. I had most of the ingredients already, though, so I thought I'd give it a shot. Well, I have really been wowed by this stuff!

Here's why I love it:

1. It's a HUGE money saver! By my best estimate, about $10 worth of supplies should last my family of 4 at least a year! And, remember, we have LOTS of laundry. Did I tell you that already?

2. It's earth-friendly. I will admit that I don't always do my part in this area, so I feel really good about taking some steps toward more green living.

3. It works! Since I started running, I have tried several different laundry detergents because some had a hard time dealing with the, um, odor that a super-sweaty runner like me can leave behind. (TMI? Sorry...) Anyway, no such problem here! And it does a great job dealing with baby stains and the dirt and grass I tend to collect at boot camp, too.

So how do you make it? I'm glad you asked!

Here's the recipe I use (copied from my sister's blog):
Liquid Laundry Detergent (2 gallons): 2 quarts hot water
1/3 bar Fels Naptha Soap, grated (I've read you can use other vegetable-based bar soaps - several suggest Ivory or Zote.)
1/2 cup Washing Soda (Arm and Hammer, NOT baking soda though!!)
1/2 cup Borax
1 quart hot water
Additional Hot Water to make 2 gallons

Mix grated soap in a saucepan with 2 quarts hot water and heat on low until melted. Stir in Washing Soda and Borax until dissolved and remove from heat. Add 1 quart hot water to 2 gallon bucket. Add soap mixture, and mix well. Fill bucket with additional hot water, and mix well. Set aside for 24 hours, or until mixture cools and thickens. It will separate and gel a bit as it cools. This is normal. Mix well when cool – I use a wand mixer to really smooth it out - and transfer to tightly covered containers (like gallon milk jugs) for storing.  Mix/shake well before each use. Use 1/2 cup of mixture per load.

I prefer liquid for my HE machine, but the powder variety is even easier to make:

Powdered Laundry Detergent 1 cup grated Fels Naptha Soap (again, the other options should work, too)
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup 20 mule team borax

Mix and store in airtight container or bag. For light or small loads, use 1 tablespoon.  For normal loads, use 2 tablespoons. For heavy loads, use 3 tablespoons.

You may need to tinker a bit to get the right recipe for you.  Washing Soda and Borax are water softeners and help boost the effectiveness of the soap. You may need to bump those up if you have really hard water or step them down if you have really soft water. You can also add essential oil if you like scent.

Sounds easy, right? It really is, and notice that the liquid variety makes 2 gallons. That'll last you awhile, so you don't even have to make it very often!

My sister has several other awesome green ideas on her blog, too. Be sure to check her out.

The fam and I are jumping in the car now to head to Florida. Tomorrow Daddy-o, my little sis, and I will be doing a little of this

at Warrior Dash, Florida. Minus the tutu... No worries, though. We have our own special costumes. :)

(Disclaimer: I do not know the person depicted above. Just found a cool Warrior Dash pic on the good ol' Internet)

See y'all on the other side...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Weekend Training Recap

Well, here we are only 5 days away from Warrior Dash and 8 weeks away from my next half marathon, so of course we had some training going on around here this weekend!

The weekend began with Daddy-o killing a hill suicide that I created for him. We have a little Suicide Hill situation going on at boot camp this month (which is SO not little)! It's been kicking my booty, but I can already tell how much it's benefitting me. My knees do not always agree, but I'm working on convincing them that it's good for us. This inspired me to present the challenge to Daddy-o on an uphill street in our neighborhood. His suicide ended up being even longer than ours, and he finished it at a great pace. I was so proud!

Daddy-o also tackled some core work in the living room, and The Oldest decided to join in the fun.
Father-son partner plank/sit-ups...

Yeah, I have no idea why he thought it was necessary to shed the shirt before the workout, but whatever...

*Please excuse the bad cell phone pics and the mess of baby toys everywhere. And, yes, we have a baby jail in the living room. It's a must around here. For his own good. Moving on... 

Saturday morning it was time for my weekly long run. It was cold (about 26 degrees), and it was my longest run since Thanksgiving, but I met up with the group ready to roll. I had decided that I wanted to have a strong run and told myself that I was going to push my pace on the 2nd mile and then alternate between a comfortable pace and an "outside my comfort zone" pace each mile after that. My goal for this next half is basically to PR, and I hope to take off some fairly significant minutes. I ran my 1st and 2nd half marathons as a proud turtle, and I am thrilled to have crossed those 2 finish lines at 2:30 and 2:32.

I have now, however, decided to start on the road toward turtle recovery, and I'm proud to say that I completed step one of the process! When I reviewed my Garmin after the run on Saturday, I was so excited to find that I had indeed maintained my fastest pace to date at that distance (7.2 miles at a 10:55 pace -- like I said, it's step one. Progress!).

I did struggle in the last mile, and my faster intervals slowed some over time, but here's what I learned -- pushing my pace to the uncomfortable at intervals during the run made even my "easy" miles faster than they've been in the past. That last mile, when I even stopped and walked a bit, was faster than many miles I've run in training before and in past races. YES!

That's good news for this recovering turtle, my friends!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Favorite Things Friday: Finding the ONE

Yes, my husband, my one and only, definitely qualifies as a favorite thing, but he is not the ONE we'll be discussing today...

Several friends have asked me for advice about how to start running. Now, being that I am quite the newbie myself, I am certainly no expert. However, there is one piece of very important advice that I have for anyone who is or wants to be a runner: find the right shoe FOR YOU! You are a wonderful, unique creation, my friend, and your running style and gait are just as unique. The shoe that is right for me may be very different than the one for you. So although I have found a shoe that I love, I don't necessarily recommend that one for you, but I do highly suggest that you go through the process of being fitted for that perfect shoe.

It's not always easy finding a sole-mate (HA!). Let me tell you a little something you might not know about me. I like stuff, especially clothes, shoes, etc., but I do not like to pay a lot for my stuff. When I was prepping for my first month of boot camp, I found some cheap shoes at T.J. Maxx that felt pretty comfy in the store. Big mistake! As I started to have problems with my knees, I decided I'd try some different shoes. Long story short, I went through another "cheap" pair before I decided to be fitted, bite the bullet, and pay the dough for a good shoe. I started off in one type of shoe, and then as I lost weight and ran more, I had another analysis done and switched to a different type.

I went to Big Peach Running Co., and they were so fabulously helpful! They do a video gait analysis as you run on a treadmill, as well as a foot scan, and then they bring out different shoes in the category that is best for you. The best part is that they encourage you to try the shoes before you buy them. If you're an outdoor runner, you can go outside and run! I love that!

I have now found my ONE perfect shoe, and it has made a world of difference for me! This is my ONE...
Mizuno Wave Rider 13. (*Note: This is not my actual shoe. Mine are just a bit more worn than these. Hmmm... maybe an upgrade soon? There is now a Wave Rider 14, and it comes in a purty black/purple combo which I love, if anyone needs an idea for a birthday gift.)
Listen to me, people. Go out and find your sole-mate! You will not be sorry!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Field Trips

Yesterday The Oldest and I embarked on a field trip "Tour of the Big City". We've had a trip to the Capitol on the calendar for quite sometime, and because of last week's ice craziness, Homeschool Academy at the zoo was rescheduled for the same day. As a result, here is the breakdown of my workout yesterday...

1 - Sprint through the streets of Atlanta, dragging my 8 year old behind me, trying to get to the Capitol on time for our tour. This after hyperventilating in panic thinking about the email that stated *3 times* that we must not be late! (For the record, we made it to the exit with about 25 minutes to spare only to sit in traffic and circle around the Capitol building 3 times trying to find parking. Arrrgh!)
2 - Push the pedal to the medal to get back to the southside to pick up Baby Munchkin while The Oldest is in his zoo class.
3 - Walk around the zoo pushing stroller.

I had brief thoughts of trying to fit in a run last night, but once we were finally home, the day really caught up with me, and I decided to give myself a break. We have to do that sometimes, ya know? Mamas carry around a lot of guilt, and we certainly don't need to add to that by beating ourselves up about it when life gets in the way of our workout plans.

That said, I was back at it this morning. I enjoyed a lovely pre-workout jaunt up "suicide hill" at boot camp, a little bonus for missing yesterday. Then we worked on our "guts and guns". I'm thinking the suicide hill added some leg work in there, and I'm feeling the burn everywhere, so I'm naming today's workout "Guts, Guns, and Gams"! Good stuff.

Oh, and I have had a little inspiration for a new workout to add to Daddy-o's routine as he preps for the Warrior Dash. He can't wait to try it tonight! Hee hee...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday Musings

I have a lot going on up in this noggin' of mine right now, so I'm resulting to the good ol' list post today, my friends. Think of it as Variety Hour, or think of it as "someone can't focus long enough to string together one cohesive post," whichever you prefer.

1. I am so thankful for my running friends! I can honestly say that I never would have even given running a try without major encouragement from my pals at Operation Boot Camp, and now I wouldn't do half of what I do without them. I truly admire those of you who train on your own. If I were attempting to train myself, hill work would probably be non-existent, I would struggle to get through the miles, and I would find myself ill-prepared on race day. With this wild and crazy bunch, I don't worry about that, and it's such fun to get out there with them. Last week I got in some extra miles with friends while it was too icy for 5:30 AM boot camp, and then we had an awesomely tough training run on Saturday. 6 miles of hilly, woodsy, icy fun in 22 degree weather with over 20 friends. How great is that? Oh, and the other fabulous thing about my running group? Everyone is truly welcome and encouraged to come out and run with us. Everyone! Awesome.

2. Mom moment: I'm feeling a bit on the overwhelmed side these days. It turns out that homeschooling a very active, eager to learn 2nd grader only gets harder as my littlest munchkin gets more and more mobile (aka finding all kinds of stuff to mess with, put in his mouth, knock over, break, hurt himself with, etc.). More often than not, at the end of the day I worry that I didn't do all I should have with either one of them. Then I look around my house and see all that didn't get done in that area (again), and I end up frustrated, tired, and wondering if we made the right choice to homeschool this year.

Every morning, though, I remind myself of why we are doing this, and that even though it's not perfect, I will never regret the time I'm spending with my kids and the valuable conversations and experiences we have everyday. I have no doubt that we will all look back on this year and be thankful for the memories we are making. Hopefully we will forget the mounds of laundry and dirty floors...

(EDIT: Knowing how overwhelmed I've been, sweet Daddy-o got me a certificate for a spa facial or mani/pedi today. Just out of the blue! No occasion at all! Except, of course, that it was today's Groupon deal. Hey, he's a thrifty romantic! What a thoughtful hubby he is!)

3. I am planning my baby boy's first birthday party! The exclamation point there is a little bit, "I'm so excited to be celebrating his birthday, and the party is going to be so cute!" and a little bit, "WHAT? First birthday? How and when did this happen?" Baby Munchkin is an amazing, miraculous, long-awaited answer to prayer (WARNING: sappy post to come soon about this little guy). It really is hard to believe that he's almost one. When do babies officially turn into toddlers anyway? Not sure I'm ready for that... But, seriously, his party is gonna be too cute! Just a smallish party at our house, but super cute and fun!

4. I'm wearing this today...

Because sometimes you just need a little superhero inspiration.