Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Soup's On: Lasagna Soup

I have a binder where I keep a good number of my recipes. I want to properly cite where I got this recipe because whoever gave it to me deserves a thanks, but I can't. In the binder it's on a copy of an editorial page from the Chicago Tribune next to a recipe for coffee syrup. It's an ink jet copy, and I must have carried it with wet hands because some of the instructions have been penciled back in. According to the editorial the recipe has been adapted from the lasagna soup in the Windsor's Lounge at the Palmer House Hilton.

My husband can make it look so pretty.
It tastes even better than it looks.

It's a great soup. I served it a few years ago at my church's women's retreat. It got rave reviews, and there were no leftovers. It really tastes like lasagna.

Lasagna Soup

4 oz Italian sausage, removed from casing, or ground beef
1 small onion, diced

It appears I have no brand loyalty.
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 can (28 oz) tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 can (15 oz) tomato puree or spaghetti sauce
3 chicken bouillon cubes
1 beef bouillon cubes
4 cups water
1 tsp each; dried basil, dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
crushed red pepper flakes
3 lasagna noodles, broken into little pieces
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Crumble sausage into a 4 quart nonreactive saucepan or Dutch oven. Cook until browned. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion begins to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato puree or spaghetti sauce, bouillon cubes, water and seasonings. Heat to a boil; simmer, uncovered, for 25 minutes.

2. Add lasagna noodles; continue cooking until noodles are tender, about 15 minutes.

3. Taste and adjust seasonings; serve with a dollop of ricotta cheese and top with mozzarella cheese.

I've made the soup with both puree and spaghetti sauce. It's equally as good. I tend to use two cans of diced tomatoes because I almost always have them on hand. I also tend to use ground beef because it it's in the house. The hardest part of this soup is breaking up the lasagna noodles. It hurts my hands because the noodles are hard to break into small enough pieces. The pieces expand quite a bit when cooked so they have to be about quarter-sized or smaller to fit on a spoon after they are cooked. I have contemplated putting them in a bag and using a meat tenderizer but haven't tried it yet. Enjoy.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Running My 'But' Off

Look over there to the right. See my dailymile mileage. I'm 50 miles shy of my 1000 mile 2012 running goal. I've got 14 days, and I think I may just make it.

In September, when I posted about being amazed at hitting 700 miles and being sad that I didn't think I would hit 1000 miles, my friend Sandy asked a great question. "Do you think you can still make your goal?" So I sat down and did the math on how many miles I would have to do a week in order to hit my goal. It was about 30 miles a week. That's big weekly mileage for me. I guess I could still hit my goal, but...that's a lot of work.

Thanks Sandy, for asking the question.

I talked to my husband about it. 30 miles a week seemed like a lot to me. My husband asked me how many I was doing currently. Between 25-30. "Why let up? " he said. Normally I take it easy after my fall marathon. "You might as well try," he said.'s going to take commitment, discipline and time.

Thanks B, for pushing me forward.

In the past few months, I've finished my math class. I've home schooled my girls and worked part-time. Occasionally, I've slacked off on making dinner. And I've run my 'but' off. My husband has been so supportive. I've gotten up early to put in miles. I've run two-a-days. I still do a long run every weekend. I got sick one week and couldn't run the requisite miles so the next week I ran to make up for it. I've topped out at almost 40 miles a week. It's been crazy. And it's been rewarding to see the goal get closer and closer.

50 miles to go. Better get to bed, I've got an early morning.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Soup's On: Pumpkin Chicken Chowder

This recipe is adapted from a recipe that my friend Becky used when we went Trick-or-Treating. I say adapted because I helped her put it together, and I make it from memory. My friends, Becky and Jodi, and I took our kids out Trick-or-Treating this year together. It was windy and bitterly cold. Really, what do I expect? Most the girls' costumes are cold even if you are standing inside. My girlios all wanted to be fairies, princesses or some other form of magic royalty with no sleeves. I couldn't talk them into being a bear or an eskimo. The soup was lovely to have when we got back, and the adults even got a chance to sit around and talk like adults. It was such a nice time.

This is a gluten free crockpot soup. I cooked two chicken breasts which came out to 12 oz. The original recipe calls for red pepper. However, red peppers were three times the price of green, and I went with the green pepper. I also used brown rice so it takes a little longer in the crock pot and makes the soup thicker.

Pumpkin Chicken Chowder:

Pumpkin chicken chowder ingredients
1 can (14.5) pumpkin
3 cans chicken broth
8 oz cooked chicken, cubed
1 onion chopped
1 red pepper chopped
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/4 cup rice
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Put all ingredients in slow cooker. Cook for 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low. Enjoy!

Seriously, this soup is so good. I can't wait until lunch for leftovers :)

Soup's On: RW Clam Chowder

Crock pot soup! This recipe is from the February 2010 Runner's World. It's a low fat but still creamy clam chowder. It's very light and gluten free. The first time I made it we didn't have any fat-free evaporated milk so I put in two cups of 2 % milk.

Low preparation. Yummy tummy.
Slow-Cooked Clam Chowder:

1 onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 8-oz cans of clams
1 8-oz bottle of clam juice
2 tsp garlic, minced
3 russet potatoes, cubed into bite-size pieces
1 12-oz can fat-free evaporated milk

In a skillet, saute the onions and celery in the olive oil. Transfer to a slow cooker and add other ingredients except canned milk. Cover and cook on high for three hours (or low for six hours). During the last hour add the milk. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with hearty whole-grain bread. Makes four servings.

Calories per serving: 385 Carbs: 56g Protein: 28g Fat: 5g Zinc: 36% DV

I confess I've served it without the whole grain bread, and it's still delicious. I don't drain the clams. They just get dumped right in. I'm not a big fan of potatoes, but my husband is. This is a recipe makes us both happy and full. Instead of putting the milk in the crock for the last hour, I'd suggest putting it in at the end. The girlios have trouble with the curdled look.

Wicked cup of chowda'

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Thanksgiving Weekend Run Around

I'm spoiled Thanksgiving weekend. My parents host. I don't cook, and I don't clean. It's been this way for a few years, and I love it. My dad is a fantastic cook, like bring your drawstring pants good. My stepmom is a fabulous hostess. Everyone is home, and I get a chance run when the sun is out. Having a cold and a heinous lingering cough the week before worried me a little. My daughter and I were doing her first 2-miler race on Thanksgiving. Now looking back, I posted big miles.

My eldest daughter and I did the Kenosha Mayor's Turkey Day Run. Actually, a lot of family members did the race: my nephew, my nieces, my stepmom, my stepsister and her family. There were plenty of family spectators too. My daughter was pretty nervous, and my nephew's wife said the best thing to my daughter before we started. She said, "I'm already proud of you." My daughter ran the 2-miler in 23:18, with an 11:38 mm. She stopped 3 times to catch her breath. When her lungs catch up to her legs, she will be unstoppable. I (and everybody else) was so proud of her. She said she was tired, but she was willing to do it again.

She rocked it!

Before the race, I went on a long run with Bobbi and Kate. My schedule has prohibited me from running with people lately so it was awesome to catch up with them. My cough was almost gone, and I really needed the run. They both were cooking that day so we were out at 6 am. For the record, there is no one out at 6 am Thanksgiving morning. It was almost post-apocalyptic out on the roads. We met up with other members of the running club at 7 am and ran 7 miles total.

Bobbi, Kate and Me

The temperature dropped 30+ degrees from Thursday to Friday. I don't like shopping on a regular day so Black Friday is a great day for me to sleep in. It was windy enough that Seamus wanted to cuddle, but I decided to get out and do a few. Yes, that's a doggie drool spot. That may have been my motivator. It was a windy 7 miles. Sometimes I felt like I wasn't moving, and sometimes I felt shoved.

My snuggle buddy

On Saturday I met up with Carrie. I haven't talked to her in a while, and I thought 10 miles would be a great time to catch up. When we met at 9, she had set up her Christmas tree, had coffee and eaten. I had rolled out of bed and grabbed a granola bar. We ran the Des Plaines River Trail, which runs for 20+ miles along and around the river. She said that a potty would be good. I said, "Let's go north because it's prettier." She assured me that there was a potty 4 or 5 miles up. The potty going south is less than 3 miles away. In fact, the potty was 6.5 miles north from our start. Oops. We called our run "The Potty Half Marathon." We did complete 13.1 miles. It was an awesome time with Carrie, and she doesn't mind when I periodically complain about how tired I am, loudly.

We made it to the potty!

Sunday morning was cold but peaceful. I decided to sleep in and do my run in the afternoon when it was above freezing. Actually I went out after church, the Bears game, the tree trimming and making a boat load of soup. I got a chance to see the sun set and the lights people had put up in the neighborhood. There are a lot of nice displays. 7.5 miles. I'm getting closer to my 1000 mile goal for the year.

I hope your weekend, like mine, was filled with an attitude of gratitude.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Soup's On: Pasta Fagioli

As the weather gets colder, I crave a warm bowl of soup. If I feel sick, I instinctively make chicken soup. Last week I tried two new soup recipes. I love soup. People ask me for my recipes somewhat regularly so I have decided to put them on the blog. I posted the my Curry Butternut Squash soup recipe back in March. That's a great winter soup too. We were blessed early on in our marriage to get a stand up freezer. This time of year I like filling it with soup so other days I don't have to cook. I also like crock pot soups where I throw the ingredients in and let it go. My husband will make biscuits, or I'll will make bread in the bread maker. An easy cooking day that is comforting too.

Last week my eldest daughter asked if I could make the soup that makes her nose run. Pasta Fagioli. I make this recipe once a year, and I double batch it. A single batch is huge. A double batch is gigantic. I freeze it leaving out the noodles. When I reheat it I make the noodles at the same time and then combine them. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. This year I had a helper to cut, pour and measure. She's souper.

Pasta Fagioli Soup:

This is for a double batch, but add two more spaghetti sauce cans I forgot.
1 lb ground beef
1 lb Italian sausage
4-5 celery stalks diced
3 carrots julienned
4 cans of diced tomatoes
6 cans beef stock
2 large cans of spaghetti sauce
1 can dark red kidney beans
1 can light red kidney beans
5 tsp parsley
3 tsp oregano
2.5 tsp pepper
1 to 1.5 tsp Tabasco sauce
8 oz pasta shells

Brown beef and sausage. Drain. Add celery, carrots and cook for 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, stock, spaghetti sauce, seasonings. Cook about 45 minutes. Rinse beans and add. Add pasta shells and cook until tender.

Just enough room for the beans.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Goodwill Jeans

I'm a thrift store diva. My favorite skirt from when I was a kid was purchased at a thrift store with my mom. It was ankle length, pink and white with flowers and lace. There was a little rip in the lace, and Mom fixed it. I've been a thrift store lover ever since. And it's a sweet memory of my mom as well.

They opened a Goodwill down the street from me. Sometimes the car just veers there. I get some incredible buys there like name brand running clothes, books and small appliances. Here's me in my new-to-me Levis. I also got a Moving Comfort running jacket. Both were 5$ a piece.

I'd rather giggle than model.

There are a few reasons I prefer to buy jeans from the thrift store. One, I'm a tree hugger. Keeping another item out of a landfill is important to me. If the clothes have more life left in them, let them be used rather than dumped. Recycle it. Pass it on.

Jeans at the thrift store are already broken in. They don't need to be stretched or softened. It's already done.

As a woman, the thrift store, especially the Goodwill, reminds me that people come in all shapes and sized. I equate pant shopping to painful dental work. Like many women, I am not often pleased with my shape. When I go to a store and there are one or two styles, I'm easily discouraged. I feel fat, my butt's too big or my thighs are too wide. Crappy self-talk. At the Goodwill there are racks and racks of 8s and 10s. That's where I reside. I have to look at both sizes because the jeans are all sized differently. Some 10s I can barely get my leg in, and some 8s are way too big. Thrift store jean shopping is fabulous on my self-esteem. Women come in all shapes and sizes, and you can see all the possiblilities there in one place, at the thrift store. It makes pants shopping a lot easier.

And it's cheap. Enough said.

I've made a few changes to my blog cover. Thought I'd change it up. Let me know what you think. Follow me here or on my new facebook page.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

This is a test...This is only a test...

I'm between tests. I just finished a differential equation exam that really tested me. I can't tell how it went. In a day I'll be taking my math exam to be endorsed as a math teacher in Illinois. Honestly, I was more anxious about the dif eq exam than for the next one, but I still have anxiety.

Anxiety. It's stressful. I don't like what it does to me. I've had a bad relationship with anxiety for a long time. Clinically and thankfully, it isn't disabling. However, it augments my IBS and aggravates my TMJ. It makes me grumpy and impatient.

I know it's a waste of my time and energy. As I meditate on nobler things and verses, I think I can get it out of my mind, but I can't seem to get it out of my body. It gets hold of my temper and my intestinal system. Sometimes, it breaks up my sleep.


Anxiety, let's break up. It's not me; it's you.

I know. You'll be back.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Pusher, the Pacer and the Monumentally Bad Small Talk Maker in Indy

I'm sick of the car. However, this past weekend was not about me. It was about my niece, Christy. She ran her first half marathon (insert cheering and whistling here) at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon (IMM). In short, she rocked it. For the long version, read below.

Right now in my life, I've been in need of help more than I can offer it. People have served me more than I've served them. It's been very humbling. This weekend, I wanted to be helpful. I wanted to serve. Running is so selfish for me. My runs are my me time. I'm not fast, though I am competitive, particularly with myself. I put that all aside. It was Christy's first half marathon. The IMM is a big race, twice as large as the race I had run two weeks earlier. Seasoned runners and newbies get nervous at a big race. I gave suggestions to Christy about when to go to the expo (Thursday rather than Friday), what to wear (wicking layers) and what time to leave (before 6). Trying not to sound so know-it-all-ish, the info was received well and appreciated.

Christy and I before the race

We left just before 6 to get down to the race, which started at 8. It took about 40 minutes to get down to the start. It's hard to explain the hurry up and wait of race beginnings. Our timing was perfect. We parked at the farthest lot from the start, which was the closest lot to the finish. It was shivery cold outside. I forgot to pack an extra sweatshirt in my gear bag. Oops. On our way to gear check we found a line of open portas. Score!

In front of gear check as I was stooping down to grab something from my bag, and the race director asked us if we wanted to be interviewed. Umm. Sure. We did not realise that it was a live television interview with Fox 59. Very exciting. Most newbie half-marathoners don't get to do that! If I do get my hands on the clip, you will understand why I don't leave messages without scripting them first.
Good Morning Indianapolis!
Before the start, we got in a second potty stop and lined up. It was a beautiful sunrise and a great start. The first few miles went really well. She wanted to keep under a 12 minute mile. I started my timer on my watch as we crossed the start. Christy kept the pace, and I tried not to push. The IMM is a nice flat course. I reminded Christy to look up, pointing out shops, the guy in costume, and the pretty trees. I made a habit of saying what mile we were at every time a mile marker came in view and congratulating her on her accomplishment.

At mile 5 she was doing great. She was high-fiving, thanking the volunteers and looking good. At one point she mentioned, she could keep this pace for a long time. That was a signal to me. I have found that when that thought crosses my mind I get tired in a mile or two. I watched for signs of fatigue in Christy. We crossed the 10k mark around 1:10 and kept on. Since it was cold, and we both had a lot of water that morning, we kept an eye out for an open porta with no lines. That didn't happen until mile 10. Even then we had to wait a little while.

Shortly after we had a gel at mile 7, Christy told me to talk to her until mile 10 when we would walk for a little. I'm not a great small talker. I'm terrible at it. I babble, don't get me wrong, but I like to be the one throwing the questions out there. We had been talking since 6 am, and I had a particularly boring week. I got nothing. I threw out some random boring stuff from my week, and then started pointing out things I saw. Her face was getting tight, and there were signs of fatigue.

Christy ran cross country in high school. It was obvious on the course that she had done races before. She's got a competitive spirit. She did not complain. She did not give up. I repeatedly asked her how she was doing. Is this okay? How's the pace? She was either silent or said okay. As her weariness grew more evident, I was impressed by her perseverance. She could have stopped or let up at any time. She didn't.

At mile 10 we walked a little bit. She said the race was hardest for her from 10 to 12, and it looked like it. Christy dug in and kept pace. As a race gets longer it's very easy to feel the same while pace gradually decreases. It takes work and energy to keep the same pace. Those miles were pretty quiet as her jaw tightened, I was out of conversation, and we kept passing people.

There were a few people on the course who particularly impressed me. One was an older woman wearing some loud pants and kicking our butts. Another were two couples. Three of them were taking turns pushing a man in a running stroller. They were sharing the load, running the race and helping the man experience the race when he couldn't run it. And they were having a ball. What great friends and companions to have.

There were a variety of smells on the race too: cinnamon rolls, sewage, meat, fried something, and a long long stretch of exhaust due to the cars backed up by the marathon. That was bad for both of us. Nauseating. We were so glad for fresh air.

At mile 12, I told Christy that we were looking good for a 2:35 finish. As soon as I said that she took off. Apparently she wanted to finish sooner. We passed a lot of people, and for the most part kept  up the faster pace. When we saw the finish line just after mile 13, she sprinted. I am not a sprinter. I tried to keep up with her, but she beat me to the finish by a second with a 2:33:37 as her new half marathon PR. (For the record, she did her 11 miler in 2:27.) She rocked it, and she's still taking to me.  I was so glad I could help.

Christy, the Capital, heavy medal, and me

On the way to the car, she did almost hit me for saying that I could do a few more miles.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Indianapolis Marathon: Slow Me and the Bandit

So this past weekend I did my 5th marathon in my 5th state, Indiana. My nephew, his wife, and their four kids live outside Indianapolis. All the kids get along, and we have a good time. I chose to do the Indianapolis Marathon because of its reviews and the small field. My niece was supposed to do the half with me, but she signed up for the larger more well known Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in two weeks. I will most likely pace her for the half. Considering my race this past Saturday, I'll just be paying it forward.
Finishing Strong!! 4:58:58

The Indianapolis Marathon takes place in Fort Benjamin Harrison Park in Lawrence, Indiana. The trees are full into fall and look fantastic. The race caps out at 5,000 for the full, half and 5k.  This is perfect for me. I like a small marathon. The first half of the course is hilly and loopy. The second half is a flat out-and-back.

It was a cold windy morning. I gear checked at the last moment and got in the long lines for the bathroom. It was another National Anthem that I missed and didn't stand up. I managed to sneak into my corral as it was creeping toward the start line. Each corral started a minute or so after the last one headed out. So wise. I started 9 minutes after the clock start time. I met some nice ladies at the beginning. One was doing her first full and wanted to finish in 5.5 hours, and another doing the half said that the trees were prettier this year than last year.

I had downloaded a bunch of new songs on my Ipod for the second half of the course. I figured that I would get tired then and need the motivation.There were times in the first half I wanted my music badly. As it happened I didn't need my Ipod at all. The first half was great and brutal all at the same time. There were some nice hills and beautiful scenery, and I even saw a deer. I felt as good running as I did for the Omaha Half Marathon, but my time at the half was 13 minutes slower. It was that hilly. I enjoyed the half greatly. The top of my thighs were warm by mile 10.

I ran every hill, and as I ran up the long hill to the half I ran along side a gentleman. We kept pace. When the full split from the half, he was next to me again. He said, "You're a good pacer." I asked, "Is this your first marathon?" He responded that he was out for a training run. A bandit. His son was running the marathon, and he was going to run to the 17 mile mark, turn around and then meet his son at the finish. In the next 14 miles, I got to know John. I didn't know his name unril we had run three or four miles together. He is 69 and has run 40 marathons. He had retired from Target and had been instrumental in having Target sponsor Grandma's Marathon. He was trying qualify for Boston in a marathon a few weeks later with a 4:25 in the 70 year old division. He also volunteers as a cross country and track coach at a small high school in rural Indiana. If a bandit angel pacer could drop out of the sky just for me, John was it.

At mile 17 he looked for his son but could not find him. He worried that his son had dropped out at the half. I had mentioned halfheartedly at one point that he should run the whole thing with me. In the running club, I have been know to "talk" people into running a few more miles with me. I really don't feel that I'm that influential, but John decided he would run the whole marathon, five extra miles, with me. I showered one liners, and he showered encouragement.

Here's some of our dialogue:

Me: Have you run this course before?
J: Yes. And you don't PR on this course.
Me with relief: Oh.

J: I think you have some more in you, and you can go ahead if you want.
Me: If you can find it, you let me know.

At mile 22 I hit the wall hard. My abs were cramping, and I was tired. He mentioned but didn't complain about his hip and stomach.

Me: I'm going to cry.
J: No. Don't do that.

Me: I want to stop.
J: It won't make you feel any better.
Me: True.

At mile 24 I took a longer time drinking water. John waited for me. I told him I was coming and ran again. Although I didn't listen to my Ipod, a song that I didn't download was running in my head for the last two miles. It's called Good to Be Alive by Jason Gray. The lyrics, "I want to live like there's no tomorrow, Love, like I'm borrowed time. It's good to be alive," kept pace in my head. I need to download that song. It's good perspective.

The last mile is uphill with turns. I was so tired. John kept telling me the finish was just around the corner. When the clocks showed our time with half a mile left, he pushed me to pick it up and finish under 5. I finished at 4:58:58. John finished and got a medal too. He knows that he didn't pay his dues, but he definitely earned it. We shook hands at the finish, and I didn't see him again.

My girlios and cousins were at the end cheering with posters. I was so happy to have them there, and I am so thankful to have had John as my pacer. I've recovered well and have no injuries. I am ready to run another day, probably tomorrow.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Omaha Marathon: A happy place & my happy pace

Let it be said that I hate long distance driving. Anything over an hour or so, I really don't want to do. I'll be your co-pilot. I'll stay awake the whole time you're at the wheel, but I really don't want to drive. There is too much responsibility with gnawing anxiety. So this weekend I took my longest solo drive, just me and the girlios. It took me two years to put on my big girl pants and drive out to see my dear friend, Chris, who moved to Omaha. Chris has taught me so much about being a mother, friend and a Christian. She taught me that my brain is unusual but not alone. And she speaks fluent snark too. Her two girls are the same age as my two oldest, and when they lived here, we spent a lot of time together hanging out, doing life. I treasure that time.

It's an eight hour drive to Omaha without stops. Four girlios have to make stops, frequently. Did I mention that I don't like to drive? To add to it, my littlest girlio spiked a fever the day before we were going to leave. Stressful. With a new set of tires and some Tylenol, the girlios headed across I-O-W-A to Omaha. I wish I could write Iowa longer, like it felt. It's really not a bad drive; I barely had to turn.

I was a little worried about how everybody would get along after not seeing each other for two years. When we arrived, my worries quickly dissolved. It was almost as if no time had passed. The girls played well all weekend. Yes, little things came up, but overall it was lovely. Chris and I talked the first night until very late, catching up. The only think we did on Saturday out of the house was to pick up my bib. The expo was small and welcoming. There was also a balloon animal maker, which was perfect for five girls. The girls came home with headbands as well. I did go to bed early the night before the race. Sleep was not optimal the whole weekend. A sick flailing kid can be disruptive when sharing a bed. The last night I decided to sleep on the floor. It was marginally better.

The race started at 7 am. Despite my desire to just get up, run the race and come back, Chris drove me to the race and stayed to cheer me and others she knew during the race. The race went through the ConAgra complex at mile 7 and 11, and Chris was there cheering. It's nice to see people on the course. The complex was one of the prettiest parts of the course. There was another section that looked onto the Omaha skyline. The race has a 10k, half marathon, and marathon. Everybody started together. The course looped back to the start/finish line. The first loop took the 10k to their finish. The second took the half to the end, and the third took the full to the finish. The field was small, between 3-5 thousand total participants. That's perfect for me. I totally scored on a short portapotty line.

We look cold. Don't we all look cold?
It was about 40 degrees at the start of the race. I ran in my Ruu-Muu running dress. I love running in it, especially half marathons. I can put my Gus in the back, and I'm on my way. I am contemplating wearing it for my full marathon in three weeks, but it scares me to not have water with me. I had to borrow gloves from Chris. I stuffed them in the Ruu pockets when it got warmer and my Gu count went down. I also wore my arm warmers, compression capris and my race shirt over my Ruu. I had my race shirt made at Running Banana a few years ago. It says, "Take Everything in Stride" on the front. On the back it says, "Please pass me. I don't mind. I didn't come to start; I came to finish." People in Omaha are nice, super nice. A woman asked if she could take a picture of my shirt at the start. There was further discussion about my shirt at the start, but I was a little OCD about the wedge I had. I couldn't run with my undies in a bunch.

My race shirt. I always look better at the beginning.

I didn't run with a watch. I expected there to be a few clocks on the course, perhaps at the 10K cut off. There weren't. I had no idea how fast I was going. I ran purely by feel, finding my happy pace. When I did see my time at the end (2:18:52), I didn't know how long it took me to get to the start line (4min). The first mile was crowded, and my legs were cold. The mile markers were little sandwich signs like those that tell you not to use the bathroom because they are cleaning. I almost missed it. During mile two there was a great discussion about 'running tourettes.' The runners started dropping f-bombs to demonstrate and I decided to kick it up a notch to get ahead of the bombardment. Around mile 3 I started thinking about how much I hate running and complaining about being out here. Looking back, I was having running tourettes. It passed. Many people talked about my shirt. "Love your shirt." "Best shirt on the course." "I took a picture of your shirt." Super nice people. It was almost too much attention for me.

By the 10K I was feeling good. I looked at my times yesterday. I ran a 10:29 pace for the 10K, and a 10:08 pace for the rest of the race. I guess I was feeling spunky. There was a great uphill at 7.5 and a great downhill at 9.5. I find downhills more taxing than uphills. I know I missed a few mile markers. I had a few nice conversations along the way. A woman in front of me had run 18 miles the previous day. She still beat me. Rock star. When I turned the corner into the finish, I was pretty happy with my time. When I got an email later for my official time, I was even happier (2:14:49).

Look at the medal. Don't look at my hair.

There were fully dressed Marines handing out medals at the finish. I normally keep my medal in my purse for a few days to remind me of what I did when I go back to 'real life.' The medals from the Omaha marathon are made out of glass. The half marathoners get clear recycled glass, and the full marathoners get colored glass. I had to take the medal out of my purse when I got home. I have small children, and my purse takes a beating.

After the race it took me a while find Chris and head out. We went to the Omaha Zoo later in the afternoon. It's very cool, and we spent the rest of the time hanging around. We could definitely use another day there.
Hanging out at Omaha Zoo (and random woman)

It was sad to go home the next day. It was a fantastic time and a good run. Chris tells me that there is a marathon in Lincoln in the spring. Hmm. I made the drive and we made it home. I even saw someone else sporting the race shirt at a gas station in Iowa and I found that encouraging. In a couple weeks I head out to Indy with the girlios for a full. It's half the drive. I think I can make it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Courage: Moving from Discouraged to Encouraged

So I haven't been blogging lately. I don't feel like I have time. I've fallen into fall and am still waiting to hit bottom. Every week since school started something new has been added on to the schedule. Piano, soccer, homeschool group, college class, work. One huge balancing act. It's the tyranny of the urgent until we get the rhythm down of the fall schedule.

And I have to say I am feeling discouraged. Even now as I am surrounded by a messy house and the girlios are just one phrase away from another fight (or weeping), I feel guilty about sitting down to type. The to-do's call, plead and scream. I've spent most of the day mulling over homework problems for class tonight, and two of them still elude me.

I have a lot to be encouraged about. This weekend during my 20 miler (I only had to do 18) I passed the 600 mile mark for the year. My pace was awesome for me. I am pretty sure the Garmin lies (in my favor). My girlios are healthy and doing well in homeschool. My husband and I still love to cuddle and talk late into the night. We just got a new bed and after a few nights of adjustment, I sleep solid. The weather is cooler. The praise list could go on and on.

I find it amazing, the power of one thing, to undermine my confidence. I am taking another math class this semester. It's a doozy. It's uncomfortable. The material (differential equations) and the classroom environment are uncomfortable. Why can't it be as easy as calculus? Why isn't there another gal in class? Why do I have to be the oldest? Why does it seem to be so cryptic? Why do the problems take so long? It's exhausting. And it's discouraging. You may be saying, as I also say to myself, that the other people in class shouldn't matter. Unfortunately, environment matters. Blocking it out is tiring. For many years, I would have told you that there were no differences between girls and boys. Then I had girls.

Anyway, I've been processing my discouragement. Yesterday, I taught my first day of 5k running and fitness class at our homeschool group. We are doing the couch to 5k plan, and yesterday was day one. I have 17 kids in class. Some are already runners, and some have never run before. My pace puts me near the back of the pack. I am okay with that, but it has to be discouraging for some of the newbies. I am so proud of all of them. So excited! They did awesome, but they may not be feeling awesome. I can think of a few people that may be very discouraged with how it went. I want them to stick with it, see improvement and be encouraged with themselves. I want them to make the move from discouragement to encouragement. Have courage. Do their best and forget the rest. Advice I should take to heart.

Being a teacher and a student at the same time has many privileges. I learn about both sides of the relationship. In November, I will be taking the state certification test for math and if I pass it and this class, I'll be submitting my 24+ hours of math to add a math endorsement on my teaching certificate. Although I am struggling in this class, I am trying to be the student I would want my students to be - asking questions of the teacher, making connections in class and seeking out other sources for a better understanding. I remind myself that it is good for me to empathize with future students that I will have and even current ones. This feeling I have, discouragement, is not foreign to many people regarding math. I really do want to be part of the solution.

So if there is anything in your life right now, like me, that is causing you discouragement, may I encourage you, as I am trying to encourage myself.

Have courage. Be strong and courageous.

On that note I have to go; I have two more problems to wrestle with.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Kids & Mud

So a few weeks ago, a gal from the running club asked if anyone could take her spot for the Dirty Girl Mud Run. I took the spot and 'ran' with a stellar group of gals through the dirt. Our kids came to spectate, and my girlios were hooked. Playing in the mud is a kid's dream. They asked me to find a mud run for them. The Columbia Muddy Buddy race was today, and there was a special race just for the kids, the Mini Muddy Buddy.

The starting line

I've been trying to get my girls involved in running for a while. My oldest thinks it's just too much work. My girlios did a kids run a few years ago after one of my first half marathons, and my oldest said, "I'm never doing that again." My girlios love biking. My youngest, at four, can put in a couple of miles. My oldest has paced me around the neighborhood for 7+ miles with just one gear on her bike. Why would they want to run?

Mud changed everything.

They've been talking about the Mini Muddy for weeks. "Is it today?" "Can we get our stuff ready?" Since we've signed up my oldest has even asked to do a 5K with me. The girls have run as well as biked. They ask if the runs I am looking into have a kids race. The power of mud.

I do a lot of races during the year. I decided to volunteer us before the Mini Muddy Buddy. It was nice for me to be on the giving rather than the taking side for an event. It takes about an hour to drive down to Gilberts, Il, and after arriving at about 8:30 we made our way to the volunteer tent. We were put right to work in the registration tent handing out shirts and bags. My two oldest rocked. They kept up with the long lines handing out bags for almost two hours. And they took pride in their work. My youngest was tired and got clingy early. She did help me hand out the Mini Muddy shirts. One-by-one the girlios' blood sugar dropped, youngest first and then each older girl got glassy-eyed. They had bagels on the way, and we had protein bars still in the car. After two hours the registration line died down, and I was given permission re-energize the girlios. Before their race the girls had time to piddy, hydrate and snack. They were ready.

It was hot by noon. Really really hot. The kids were lined up by waves. The 4-to-6-year-olds had to have a parent with them so the littlest girls and I were front and side. The course is small for older kids, but just right for the little ones. There were saw horses, tires, a ground crawl, a climbing wall and the mud pit. My oldest started late enough that we were able to see her off as well as see her finish.

My youngest who does sand angels at the park stepped in the mud pit and flipped out. What?! I was crawling through the mud watching my two youngest walking through the mud. They had no desire to crawl once they put their hands in it. It was not going as planned. My middle child tried kicking mud on me. Um? No. If you're not crawling, you don't get to fling. My youngest started crying in the mud pit and didn't stop until we got in the lake to wash off. The mud in her shoes wigged her out. And she wailed. The mud dried on her legs. And she wailed. People were looking at her. She looks strained in her picture. However the moment she got in the lake she wants to go swimming, virtually erasing the mud memories. By the time we got home, she wanted to do another mud run.
This is not the face of joy

My other two girls loved the race. Everybody had a great time walking and washing in the lake. I almost lost my shoe. And a sock. We were some happy wet dirty girlios.

Still some weeping but the lake is just steps away...

The ride home was long, and we were on the hunt for a shake, which sounded fabulous. We had been outside for six hours. A shake sounded fabulous. Doesn't it?  There was great rejoicing when we finally found a McDonald's nearly an hour later, and my youngest finished a whole medium strawberry shake in no time. She may have been hungry. I finished mine pretty quick too. Everybody perked up.

The girlios wore their shirts all evening. They want to wear them again tomorrow. My oldest wore her medal for the rest of today too. She said that this was her first real medal.

They're hooked. Mud is powerful.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Minding the Gap

It's been quiet on the blog lately. We've had a big spring here at home. I've just had the chance to start to process. So join me if you will on working it through.

If you can't feed a hundred people, then just feed one. ~ Mother Teresa

Just about three weeks ago we dropped off our first Safe Family placement. We had the little girl, S, here for four months. It was a wild ride. The last couple weeks has been bittersweet. There's a gap in our house, and we can feel it. One of the girlios misses nap time, the quiet time in the afternoon. Another girlio has reminded me that S is her best friend. The house has also been quieter and calmer and less stressful.

She turned three here. We had a birthday party for her. She grew and flourished in our home. In her young life she has been seen homelessness, food uncertainty, mental illness, poverty, abandonment and addiction. It's a lot for a little life to carry. She has a great survival instinct and overall a very cheery personality. She's a fighter, for good and for bad.

I wish I could say that it was fantastic. It wasn't. It was hard and great at the same time. To their credit, my girlios were amazing. They loved, flexed, showed grace and took her in as a sister. S missed her mom and was angry about it. She felt comfortable enough around us to show her feelings. It was good for her growth because she could vent and learn to control some of her emotions. It was hard on us because of the physical nature of her emotional outbursts. I don't think she was used to boundaries. It's hard on everybody to catch up on those.

She came in February. It was cold and snowy. My girls love snow. S didn't exactly know what to do. We taught her how to play, that it was okay to play, and that it was okay to get dirty. The first time we took her to the park I took for granted that kids play at the park. She didn't want to step in the mulch. She didn't play in the sand. She didn't climb or slide down the slides. When she left in June she did all the things kids should do at the park. She slid, climbed and played with sand. I believe strongly that kids need to play for development. She loved being outside.

She tried new foods. She tried new things. She had new experiences. We took her on vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains. We took her to Pittsburgh to visit my sister. She loved going to soccer practice, and we got her her own ball. She showed some delays, but she also showed that she was capable of catching up. She could carry a tune better than all of us in the family combined.
She is highly verbal and often it made my eyes twitch. She couldn't track with all the words in a sentence that was said. It was hard. It took us a while to figure out that if she repeated the sentence after us she could understand what we were saying. She wanted to be prayed over every night. I still pray over her, and I think of her everyday.

My sister-in-law recently adopted her 24th placement. After walking in her shoes just this one time, I admire her even more. She's my hero. Talking through some things with her was so helpful.

So what did we learn?

We learned that sharing, really sharing, especially the things we love the most is hard. We love our family, so much, and sharing them was difficult. We learned to dig deep. And at points we learned we were pretty sucky at sharing. More than once we prayed for strength, grace and help, sometimes in tears.

We learned about love as an action word. We want to love and be loving. That takes action and faith to step out. So many people have encouraged us and told us what an amazing thing we were doing. I don't feel amazing. I do feel we made choices to live as we believe. Taking those steps of faith, day-in day-out loving is hard. We were blessed but growing involves stretching, tearing and healing. We learned about love.

So would we do it again? Yes and no. More to come. Our story isn't over, but you'll just have to wait.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Comeback Queen and her Merrython: Grandma's Marathon

I was injured. I didn't think I would be able to even run Grandma's Marathon. I didn't think I would even be able to run the Pittsburgh Half Marathon in May. I was way undertrained. I didn't run more than three days a week for training. More often than not I ran two days a week and when I put in my 20 miler, that's the only run I did that whole week. My top weekly mileage up to the marathon was 24 miles. That's less than the marathon itself.

Just call me the Comeback Queen.

When all was said and done, I finished the marathon in my worst time (5:17:22), but I had the best time. Several things contributed to this. I resest my goals, I went with the best people and I let myself walk.

My goal was to make the marathon my merrython. That involved letting my competitive side take a rest. It's hard for me. I'm slow and normally end up as road kill on a regular day, but I'm still competitive. I knew I had to go easy with my groin pull. That just sucks to write. Nobody wants a groin pull. I have IBS too. Irritable bowel syndrome. I attract illnesses and injuries with embarassing names.

On my first marathon, I kept to Hal Higdon's training plan like glue. On this marathon I trained by feel. If I hurt, I rested. Life had exploded anyway with the extra child and taking classes. Time and health were not on my side. After my first marathon my body hurt so bad. I knew from doing several half marathons that my body gets used to the distance and the run doesn't hurt so bad. I wanted to finish this marathon feeling good or better. On my last marathon in Milwaukee I was injured during the run. I felt pretty crappy for a few weeks. Stupid porta potty. Can't you make them for short people? I digress.

Girls weekend! Loved it.

Bobbi invited anybody and everybody to Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Mn. She talked up the course. Originally, my friends Carrie, Chris and I were going to stay about an hour and a half away in Hayward. I was going to bring the family. They were going to come and watch. In the end it was a girls weekend and our friend Yvonne came up too. Chris was course marshalling. Carrie and Bobbi came to break 5 hours and Yvonne came to qualify for Boston. I came to finish. You don't get a shirt until you finish the marathon. I wanted that shirt, and the medal to go with it.

We had so much food in the room we could have lived there for a week. I told hubs I would eat wisely before the race. I did have fries. I got chastised later. Early to bed for race day.

Marathon morning - Chris took the picture before we headed to the buses.

Duluth takes its marathon seriously. The whole town of Duluth seems to support the marathon. Retailers and restauranteers wear shirts. The spectators are out in full force. The race is very well coordinated. The buses are well coordinated to take you out to the start. The porta potty line was ridiculus but we all made it through. I was in the stall during the National Anthem ("What?" you say, "you didn't stand?!" and missed the airplanes flying overhead. It did rock the porta though, felt totally X-Files.

Grandma's is a point to point course. The fans don't really come out until mile 18, which is really when you need them. The weather was really up in the air. We had gotten an email earlier in the week about possible red flag conditions, which pretty much says prepare for death but not as much as black flag which says death is running behind you and gaining. When the race started it was a green flag start, but it was still hot and muggy. The course opens up to the lake every once and a while, and it is very soothing. I loved the scenery. I didn't love watching so many people pit stopping on the course sans portas.  I carried a lot of stuff on this race. I had my just-in-case water, gu, stinger gels, electrolyte tablets, and my ipod. I didn't want to bonk, and I have found that B vitamins help me a lot. I even took an electrolyte tablet at the finish, and I think that it helped me recover.

The hubs and I worked out a plan to keep my legs from giving out. The first water station was at mile three. I had a watch with a time and would rest for one minute at the water stop. There were water stations every two miles until mile 20 when they were every mile. We planned to spend the first three water stations taking a minute rest, two minute rest for the next three stations, etc every two miles. If I needed more rest later, I would take it resetting my watch for a minute longer. It would mean I would get the rest I needed when I needed it, later in the race.

The first half went really well for me. The rests seemed long. I gu-ed starting at mile six and planned to have a gel every five miles. The temperature during the race dropped. The front came through and a strong breeze pushed us forward every once in a while. It actually got cold. I love running in the cold. I was surprised to find out the my hands were cold because at the time I hadn't mentally put together that it was cold. It took me while to figure out. It sunk in when one of the runners had her arms in her shirt and was looking on the side of the road for stray long sleeve shirts. When she found one, she put it on. Spectators were wearing heavier clothes. I figured it out.

At mile 15 I thought I might need some tunes to help me through. However, after digging out my tunes the ipod said that the battery was dead. I checked it the previous night. I've been having some trouble with it lately when turning off. It must have drained itself out. I was mad but resisted the desire to throw it out. I really wanted to. I had to reenergize myself.

I was doing really well. Somewhere in my mind I got ambitious. I thought perhaps I could break five hours again. Competition reared its head. Then at mile 17 I saw people crowding around a man. He was wrapped in foil blankets. Someone is holding his legs, and he was seizing. As I passed him I saw that he had an oxygen mask on, and I started crying. I could hear ambulances for the next mile. Nobody signs up for a marathon to get taken away in an ambulance. It spooked me. I had done three previous marathons and been fine. It still spooked me.

By mile 20 I was still on course for a 5 hour marathon. However, I had to use the facilities at mile 21. Putting my compression capris on after the pit stop was like Ross putting on his leather pants in Friends. It took me a mile to get readjusted, and I could have easily strained myself. There is only one large hill on the course at mile 22. After seeing the guy at mile 17, I gave myself permission to walk it. I generally am not a walker. I love a good hill. Seriously. The hill was long, and I did feel a little guilty especially when the spectators were trying to encourage us on.

I was hitting the wall. I knew I was going to finish, but I didn't care how long it took me to get to the finish. What I didn't know until later was that I forgot to take my mile 21 gu. My sugar levels were tanking. I was doing a lot more walking. Around mile 23 I took my last gu thinking it wouldn't any good. It did. I was able to run in the last mile and felt good about it. Chris was course marshalling at 25.5 mile. I missed her. I've never needed the foil blanket before after a marathon. At Grandma's I did. It was crazy cold. In fact it started raining, hard. Blah. I felt bad for everybody left on the course.

At the finish I found out that Carrie broke 5 hours, Yvonne was just shy of her Boston goal, and Bobbi's tummy didn't want to race that day. She didn't finish, but the following week she kicked some bootie at another marathon.

We didn't stay long at the end of the marathon. It was cold and yucky, but they had a whole tent for blister relief. It was awesome. People who wanted to take care of my oooky feet. The rest of the weekend was nice too. We had the best pizza - a baked potato pizza. We watched random bad television, had facials and chillaxed. I ate a disproportionate amount of chocolate. Overall, a great weekend with great people and a great race.

Now I can really start running for the year...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fresh Mango Salsa

Get a recipe. Get a story. Feel free to scroll down to the recipe. I'm not offended; this recipe is yummy. As in, it doesn't last 24 hours, yummy. I'm going to have some just as soon as I finish this post. Since it's mango season, we have had it several times in the past few weeks. Enjoy it for Memorial Day!

Here's how the recipe found its way into our life. My nephew, Joe, and his wife live outside of Indianapolis. He's about eight years younger than I am. It has taken us about a decade for our lives to intersect. He and his wife have four kids. We brought our four kids with us on the way to the Great Smoky Mountains. We stayed two nights on the way down and a night on the way back. On our first night, Christy and I made this salsa. And we talked. It was probably the first time we have ever really talked. It was a spark for many conversations together. Along with motherhood, our faith and fitness, her mother had just passed away, adding to the things we had in common. We got to know each other.

Our kids played well together, and then later in the night all four adults ate way too many chips and salsa while talking, getting to know each other for the first time. Let it be established that I can eat chips until I vomit. I stopped myself. Our visit was one of those sweet sweet times, almost magical, when family becomes friends. And you know what? I like Joe, Christy and fam. I like them a lot. I can't wait to visit them again. (Calling, I've already established, is terrible for me) Christy and I made fresh mango salsa. Brandon and Joe made a large hunk of grilled meat. Good times.

Warning! This salsa smells up the fridge. You better eat it fast :)

Mango Salsa

4-5 ripe plum tomatoes chopped
1 small red onion chopped
2 ripe mangoes cubed
2-3 cloves minced garlic
2-3 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
juice of one lime

Chop it up, mix it up and then let the ingredients mingle together for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Sometimes the salsa needs friends. I suggest these...

The twist of lime is a bit strong; add more salsa.

Getting a plate right now! Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Hot Stuff at the Pittsburgh Half Marathon

We were left for Pittsburgh on Friday morning. It's 9.5 hours without breaks. With four kids in the car, it's eternity. My stepmom and my sister were in the front. I am so thankful that my stepmom drove. On Thursday night I had my last exam for calculus. I have found over the four exams that I'm stressed the week before the exam. I do well on the tests, but I'm stressed about it. It's a bummer. What's an even bigger bummer is having to finish packing after the exam. It's a night class. The kids were so excited that they didn't go to sleep until I came home, and they woke up early. Did I mention that the car ride is an eternity? Overall, the kids were good both there and back.

Ran with my new Ruu Muu - loved packing just two Gus and tissues into back pockets
Last year I did the Pittsburgh Marathon with my stepsister, Heidi. This year my stepsister, her husband and I ran the half. It was Andy's first race and Heidi's first half. She skipped right to the full and tapered to the half. There is no shame in the half. I love that I can finish a half and be almost my normal self. Stairs, picking up the kids and playing with them is all doable. This time I got a nap in. Tee hee. When asked in the afternoon my little one said she wanted me to lay down with her. Total win.

Picking up our race packets was uneventful. The race shirt is a very nice white V-neck, definitely wearable. The expo is small, and there's an ice cream sampling table. Yes, I stopped, and it was good. I don't care that it's before noon.

We left for the race at 5:30 am. There was a bright full moon, and the weather was cool. The previous Saturday morning in Illinois at soccer it was 44 degrees. Cold. There was a frost advisory. We had been checking the weather forecast periodically for Pittsburgh, and it was oscillated between 60 and 80. Not weather I was prepared to handle. Thankfully, I went on a short run earlier in the week when the weather was on the rise. It was 77 degrees and it was also my only run in two weeks. I had pushed run frequency from two times per week to five too early and my groin pain resurfaced. Rest is best. In the days before the race, I was finally able to pinpoint my pain. Thankfully, I also had looked up some stretches for that area because I used them during the race, and it saved me.

Last year, there was 20,000 people in the half and the full. When the two races split at mile 10 last year, the roads were clear for the full. This year the race magazine said that 25,000 people were in the half and the full. That's a pretty big increase, and I'm betting most of them were in the half. We got parked and were able to walk to the start easily. We waited in the lines for the potties. There were ample potties and ample people. Lines moved slowly. The girl behind us in line asked her friend why the lines were so slow. "What is taking them so long?" Um, I could draw you a diagram. Or you could just wait until your turn and see for yourself.

Gear check was more organized than last year. I decided to put my sunglasses in my gear bag and regretted it pretty early on in the race. I also wished I brought my visor. I put my jacket in the gear bag and was just cool.

Heidi and Andy all finished

It was then time to make our way to our start corrals. Andy was in corral B. I was in corral D and Heidi in E. I guess I was a little cocky when I signed up. I decided I would start with Heidi in E, the last corral. It was packed. We met some very nice people on our way to the corral. We didn't make it to our corral by the start of the race at 7:30. People were gate jumping into corrals. Volunteers were not to happy about this. It was packed. And then I got hot. The sun was up, and there were people everywhere. Sun heat and human heat. We entered the corral at the very back and walked slowly up to the start. We were behind the 2:30 half pacer and the 5:00 marathon pacer. The 5:00 pacer Marie is awesome by the way. She's the neatest lady. If it wasn't so stinking hot and long, I might have paced with her.

It was 15 to 20 minutes for us to walk to the start. My goal was simple. Finish with a smile. With my injury, I knew I wasn't PRing. I also didn't know if I'd have to walk part of it. Under 2:30 would be nice, but first goal was a smile. Enjoy it. Heidi took off pretty early passing the pacer. Since there were so many people and it being hot, walkers were all over the road. It didn't feel like there was room to run. It was like frogger. It was shady at the start, and then the streets opened up. The sun came up, and the heat began to radiate from the roads. At the first water station, I worried about the fluid situation. The had run out of Gatorade at the first stop, and there was only water. Were the race directors ready for the heat? It got better. Both Gatorade and water were available at each station after. They did have trouble keeping up with the volume. Sometimes, people were just taking their cups to refill them from Gatorade to water.

There were some great bands on the course. Some picked great racing songs. One band I remember played a dirge piece. Really? Not super helpful. The spectators in Pittsburgh are great. So many people came out to cheer us all on. The bridges, which are really man-made hills, had people cheering at the crests, some with music of their own. To go along with my goal, I decided to high-five as many people as I could. I high-fived an entire ROTC group. I crossed a road to high-five two guys during a stretch when I was tired. They commented happily about how I came across the road. I also wanted to be the runner on the course who thanks as many volunteers as she passes. I even got a chance to cheer on the first woman marathoner as she finished (as I finished the half).

The only time I felt as though I was going to lose it was along the road by the Duquesne Incline, which is in almost every trig/alg 2 math textbook as a story problem. There was very little shade and the sun was beating down on me. I wish I had my visor or sunglasses. That was right about mile 8.

The miles flew by to me. I had to stretch out my leg between mile 7 and 8. I was so surprised by how good I felt. I didn't realize I was slowing down. Between mile 9 and 10 the 2:30 pacer caught up with me. I had passed her at mile 2. I made the choice to not let her out of my sight. It was a struggle to keep up, and then boom, it was mile 11. If you have run a half marathon before, you know that if you get to 11 you can get to the end. It's a mental milestone. I couldn't believe it was almost done. Thankfully the last mile is almost all downhill. I could actually see the finish line at mile 12 and couldn't believe it. Wow! I was going to finish running the whole thing, except the water stops.

It was eerie to finish listening to the sounds of ambulances echoing through the streets. Heidi said that 100 people were looked after by the medics and 20 taken to local hospitals. It was crazy at the end. When finishing a 5 hour marathon, there are not very many people at the finish. There were tons of people at the end of a respectable half marathon time (2:27:32). It was a mad house. The finish was organized but very full.  I found Heidi and Andy after some shuffling. I tried to get a bag of ice, but that proved too difficult so we headed home. The kids had a great time playing while we were away, and we all got a chance to enjoy some family time before the long drive home.

Sweet Medal - Met My Goals

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Catching Up

In reading other people's blogs, I've learned that I'm a terrible blogger. I have several posts floating around in my head. The time it takes to get them out of my head is longer than the time I have. I have great respect for the bloggers that post every day. Right now, it's not me. So I'll blog as my schedule allows. And honestly if it's a choice between blogging and running, I tell you about the run later.

So on my time off, my mandatory vacation, on the injury list, I did a lot of nothing, for at least a week. The pain localized, felt like a stitch healing and then just became a "feeling." I can still feel it or think I can. I'm very sensitive to it. As a family we hiked through the Great Smoky Mountains during spring break. With little girlios, it didn't demand a lot from me except patience. I ran a few times there. The hills were good for me. Lately, I've been adding mileage.

Last week I ran 23 miles. Five days a week. Too much. I'm back to resting. The previous week I ran 20 miles in just two runs, a 9 miler and an 11 miler. I felt pretty good that week, great actually. Last week's long run left me with "the pain." This week I'm going back to two or three days. I'm feeling it out.

The Pittsburgh Half Marathon is in a week and a half. I'll finish it. I won't be pretty or a PR, but with enough rest, it will be fun. I'm still undecided about Grandma's Marathon in June, leaning toward a DNS. Unlike my last three marathons, which I completed within a 13 month span and adhered strongly to my training plans, sometimes exceeding the mileage, this one, if I choose to do it, will be by feel. It could go very badly. If I push, it could go even worse. My mind has shifted to the Omaha Marathon in September. I'm excited about that one. One of my dearest dearest friends lives there. She's one of those friends that taught me just by being who she is as a person and a mother. I'm a terrible correspondent, really a terrible long distance friend. I don't call, barely write and just wish thoughts were transferable because I think of her and her family often. I'm excited to visit, catch up and see her new town on foot.

So many friends are doing races in these next few weeks. I'm so excited for them. Some are running their first marathons or first halves. Exciting. All healthy or close. It's invigorating. The energy at races makes me smile. For the first time, I'm injured. Injured enough to know that it's going to be a while until I get back to everyday running. Between the excitement are pangs of envy. I feel like the little sister who wants to catch up but can't. My injury doesn't lend itself to riding bikes or walking. Long strides are killer. I'm hesitant to do a DVD with a variety of exercises. It's a very mellowing injury. As the general population would be happy running twice a week, I can't wait for something more. When summer comes, I want to move! Snow in the forecast this weekend reminds me that the weather still has a ways to go, just like me.

One thing I do know about little sisters, with four girlios in the house, is that catching up is possible. It's just a matter of time. While in the Great Smoky Mountains this spring break, I took off down the trail calling my girls to follow. I took my pace easy because I'm injured. G1 and G2 ran with me. There was great crying between G3 and G4 in falling behind with Dad. To my great surprise, G2 surpassed G1 and me. And she sustained it. I would not have made that bet from the previous summer. She had no desire to catch up, and now a season later, her legs stretched.

I hope the same for myself. For this season, I'll watch and heal, readying myself to catch up and hopefully take flight.

Just taking everything in stride, like my race day shirt says.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Journey Woes

The joy is in the journey, right?

Lately I've just found joy in Journey. They play "Don't Stop Believing" on a bunch of stations. It's on my iPod and it's on my Walkman. And it's been good. Really good. Because I need hope.

Actually, I need an endorphin slap.

Dear endorphins, I miss you. XOXO ~Riyanti

Life's full, exploding actually, like a muffin top. That's a good visual. Teaching an after school literacy class twice a week, working one night a week, taking calculus twice a week, teaching a homeschool class, homeschooling my own kids, watching/reteaching an extra kid, doing homework, being a track widow, church/women's ministry stuff, cooking, cleaning (tee hee)...

but very little running.

After about two months of pain, I finally went to the doctor. She suspected a hip flexor strain. I asked for a CT, suspecting a hernia or tear. The pain is very low on the left side. Actually the pain was radiating everywhere and I was swollen so it was hard to pin point. The CT scan said no hernias or hip joint damage. Score one for the doctor. As the swelling reduced the pain was restricted to one area. It hurt to lean against the sink to do dishes. It still hurts to sit for a long time. (Doesn't help to stay an extra hour after a 2.5 hour class to go over homework problems. I wasn't alone. There were many of us, leaving looking like zombies.)

I have fabulous running clothes that I want to wear. A new Nuu-Muu and CWX Stabilix capris. Comfy and cute. I have run in them very slow and very short distances. No pain. But slow and low. It's hard to see fellow runners and not be jealous or depressed. I am happy for them but I'm also jealous of no pain and running joy. Like gazelles. I do find joy in running. It's normally alone time outside. Dream combo.

Sometimes it comes over me in waves or like a blanket. The grief and loss. The stress of the day's schedule without the usual outlet. Sometimes I'm totally fine with it. This is a busy season and I'd hardly have the time. As I sit now icing as I do many times during the day, I remind myself that it's just a "season." Icing is nice by the way during these 80 degree spring days. As I stretch and do exercises, play outside with the kids, say "No, I can't pick you up," I remind myself that rest is best. Admittedly, it's been really hard.

So I may have to lock myself in the bathroom more often or take the dogs on more walks where even they think we are going slow, I'll "hold on to that feeling" as Journey so aptly puts it until the feeling again becomes a reality.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Yvonne's Curry Butternut Squash Soup

My first sole sister gave me the recipe for this soup. Her name is Yvonne. She's amazing. She has six kids with one set of twins. She homeschooled all of them until high school. Her eldest went to Yale on scholarship. She was my small group leader in our church's MOMS group, and she was in my small group when I led. She's smart, funny, Godly and wise. Now she's back in grad school, our worlds have diverged, and I miss her. Oh, and she can out run me any day of the week.

Yvonne introduced me to the tri, the half marathon and the marathon. She was the first person I told I was pregnant with number three while we were training, just a week before our tri. She also ran my first marathon with me. It was her second but my first. We ran the inaugural Fox Valley Marathon, and I, having no idea what I was doing, wanted to finish in under 5 hours. She said she expected to finish in about 5:10. While we were running the race, I did okay until mile 20. I was so dehydrated, and my mood was terrible. I had done a 22 and a 23, but I went out harder during the race. At the aide station at 20, the medic said he could take me back, but I drank my weight in water and sloshed on. Yvonne stayed with me. She walked with me when I needed to walk. She encouraged me. She gave up her time for me. She reminded me around 22-23 that people were praying for us. At 25.2 she said, "We HAVE to run the last mile," so we did. She finished in 5:10 as she expected. I finished a minute or two behind her. I cried dry grunty tears when I was done. I could not have finished it without her.

Yvonne has been with me on each marathon after. I hear her voice in my head during the last six miles. The same encouraging words go through my mind. I have smiled while running the last mile to two more finish lines and broken 5 hours because of Yvonne. Thank you Yvonne.

Yvonne's Curry Butternut Squash Soup
1 stick butter
1 large onion chopped
2 cloves garlic
5 cans chicken broth
4 lbs cooked butternut squash
3 large potatoes cubed
1/2 tsp curry
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp white pepper
2 cups milk

Saute onions and garlic in butter. Add veggies and broth. Simmer until soft.

 Smooth in blender.

 (At this point it can be frozen.)

 Add 2 cups of milk. Serve with sour cream, chives or walnuts.

A day or two before I make the soup, I cut the squash and cook it at 350 deg for an hour cut-side down in an inch of water. Then I scoop it and put it in the fridge. It makes the whole task less labor intensive. This soup is a fan favorite. The girlios all like it and were sad that I froze it yesterday. Joy for another day.