Saturday, April 26, 2014

Earth Day 5k ~ The Comeback Race*

*Not for me

I needed a comeback race, and since I've been running about a 5k distance without too much irritation a 5k would be great. The weather has been getting better. It's tolerable to be outside, and people have actually been mowing lawns, like my neighbor's whose lawn service comes at 7 am. Awesome.

The Lindenhurst Park District had a free Earth Day 5k on Saturday morning, and many of my running buddies were going. I thought I could run it and then be back in time for soccer games. A great plan. On the morning of the race two of my girlios woke up early, and as I was getting ready they asked what I was doing within 15 minutes of me walking out the door.

Me: "I'm going to run a 5k."

Thing 2: "Can I run?"

Thing 3: "Me, too."

Okay, here's the thing about wanting the family to be active. When they want to be active, you have to let them. Like offering them vegetables, you offer and offer, and when they take the bait, you reel them in. Letting them in my races is a sacrifice.

Me: "You have 15 minutes to get ready, and you still have to show up on the soccer field later"

Thing 2 and Thing 3: "Okay!"

Thing 1 wakes up during the getting ready time. When asked if she wants to go she emphatically says she's tired and hates 5ks.

25 minutes later we are all ready to go.

When we arrive, we find we are all under-dressed. It looks warm, but it is windy. The girlios cling and whine. I rub goosebumps away and cuddle them. I suppress my whining because I am cold too. I love meeting and greeting my running pals that I haven't seen in so long.

The race starts, and it is not long before the whining begins. I was hoping to run the first mile. We didn't make it that far before fatigue set in on little legs. Cramps and tight tummies. These girlios have run races before, but this is early in the season. We have had a rough winter inside, and they are not in the condition that they normally are in Spring. Mentally, they remain in end of the Summer, but physically they are in the dead of Winter.

Thing 2 wanted to cry. I could tell. She chose to whimper and didn't break down into full sobs. Huge self control for her. She held it in looking rather dismal. I walked at a brisk (for me) steady pace reminding them to keep pace. I had calculated the time to get to soccer with my slow race pace not girlio walk pace. We had some time limits. Thing 3 bounced along because she's my Tigger.

It was hard to be supportive. It was a gorgeous day on the trail and dragging the girlios was not fun. We have done some excellent hikes in the same area, but we were not limited by time. We play. We look at stuff. We dawdle. This day we had to get to the end in a timely manner. I tried so hard to play it cool.

As we approached the end Thing 2 who had been looking pale and pained, took off running. We ran to catch up, and then Thing 3 pouted out. A.R.G. The tired talk transferred from girlio to girlio. Thing 2 ran all the way to the finish. When asked later why she started running she said, "Because I wanted to be done." She's such a runner. When I suggested to Thing 3 that we run to the end, she took off sprinting. We crossed the finish line in 51 minutes. Just enough time to go home, get changed and head out to soccer games.

This is not a clear representation of her race face. 
It wasn't my comeback run. It was a comeback run for my girlios after a long winter. I'll have mine soon, but today was their day. To their credit, they played hard at soccer. They showed up, and both girls scored goals. From the looks on their faces, they are going to sleep well tonight. That's my reward.

Finishing Strong! Stick a fork in us; we're done.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

T'was the Night Before Easter Cookies and Devotional

Long ago in my MOPS group we got a newsletter that had a recipe for resurrection cookies in it. I tried the recipe and kept it. I loved the idea, but there were a few things I didn't like about the cookie. Like the nuts. And that there was no chocolate. Nice idea, blah cookie.

I can't be the only person with candy canes left.
In our house we try to emphasize Easter as much as Christmas. Birth, death and resurrection of the same Jesus. We do have an in-house egg hunt and give a bigger gift in our yearly recycled Easter baskets. Easter, much like Christmas, has been ridiculously commercialized. Ridiculous. It's easy to be sucked in. I've already put away a fun sized bag of Reese's Eggs. This recipe/devotional is a good reminder of what Easter is about, and if you forgot to start the Resurrection Eggs on the right day you can still cram it in the night before or even during the week.

My adaptation has a Christmas twist. It's good to read the "Legend of the Candy Cane" too while they are eating them on Easter Sunday. The recipe begins Saturday night.


1/2 cup of mints - or leftover candy canes
1/2 chocolate bar
1 teaspoon vinegar
3 egg whites
pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
zipper baggie (freezer)
wooden spoon/meat tenderizer/hammer
masking tape

Directions and Devotion

1.Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

2. Place the mints and the chocolate bar in the zipper baggie. Let children break them apart using spoon or tenderizer into small pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested he was beaten by Roman Soldiers and read John 19: 1-3.
In bag pre-meat tenderizer
Delish chocolate and peppermint
3. Let you children smell the vinegar. Put a teaspoon of vinegar into a large mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross he was given vinegar to drink and read John 19: 28-30.

4. Add the egg whites to the vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life and read John 10: 10-11.

5. Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand and let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl. Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus's followers, and the bitterness of our own sin. Read Luke 23:27.

Salty sweet hands
6. So for the ingredients are not very appetizing. Add the sugar to the bowl and explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know and belong to Him, and then read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16.

7. Beat with mixer on high speed for 12-15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed. Explain that the color white represents the purity in God's eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus. Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3: 1-3. This is a good time to have them get read for bed, clean up or read the Legend of the Candy Cane. The egg whites have to be stiff.

Whip it.

Whip it good.
8. Fold in the chocolate and mint pieces.

9. Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheets. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus's body was laid and read Matthew 27: 57-60.

10. Put cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF. Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door. Explain that Jesus's tomb was sealed and read Matthew 27: 65-66.

11. Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus' followers were in despair when the tomb were sealed and read John 16: 20, 22. Send the kids off to bed and eat the other half of the chocolate bar as you prepare for the rest of the possible chaos on Easter Sunday.

12. On Easter morning, open the oven door and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies should be hollow. He has risen! On the first Easter morning, Jesus's followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty. Read Matthew 28: 1-9.

A Christmas Easter cookie

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Spring Roll, Sweet Chariot

I can't help it. As soon as I say "Spring Roll," I want to sing..

Spring roll,
Sweet chariot
Coming forth to carry me home...

Tasty bundles. Easy to make and made to order. As a gluten free gal these days, I've been looking for more meals everybody in the house can and will eat. Making multiple meals is a hassle.

I ate way more than this. This is just the pretty picture.
I bought circular and square spring rolls wraps. After looking at a few recipes, I decided to use some of the vegetables I had in the house. We didn't have Thai basil or lime. We'll try those another day.

Our ingredients:
 -strips of carrots
 -strips of cucumber
 -strips of orange pepper
 -romaine lettuce strips
 -an egg omelet cut into strips
 -rings of green onion
 -leaves of cilantro
 -brown rice vermicelli soaked in boiling water for 5 minutes and drained. A tablespoon of hoisin sauce added and cut up to fit easily into the rolls
 -cut up cooked chicken (We added this tonight)

It took some prep, but it was worth it.
Really, add whatever you want and will eat. I made the sauce in a pan whisking on a low heat until smooth.

The Sauce:
 -a tablespoon of peanut butter
 -two tablespoons of hoisin sauce
 -a tablespoon of soy sauce
 -water to thin

Easy for little hands
With clean hands the kids can make them to order. Soak the wraps in warm water for 5 seconds or so. We had to replace the water every once in a while because it got cold. Place wrap on a plate and working quickly add your filling. The wrap will get soft on the plate. Fold, wrap and roll. Eat, dip and enjoy. Repeat until everything is gone or everybody is full.

Soaking, eating and enjoying

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Standing at the end of my longest run of the year

I finished a 5K today. Not a race, a distance and a hurdle.

Last weekend was the Shamrock Shuffle. This week was the Lincoln Half Marathon. The South Shore Half Marathon was today. The Cary Half is over. Four weeks until the Wisconsin Half. I won't be able to run the Wisconsin Half like I wanted. It's coming too soon and I am recovering too slowly. I normally gauge my year on the race calendar. I've been a little taken aback about how fast it has passed me by. I found myself sad about it.

This winter I have been in PT, and I needed to be there. How I was running was not sustainable. Weaknesses in some places were showing up in others. My feet and ankles were locking. Tight calves. Painful tendons. Picking up marbles with my toes was difficult and painful. Little muscles I willed to work did not move.

And as I've seen friends post training, races and successes, I felt left behind. I'm not looking for pity. I'm just emoting. This winter has been a winter I really needed running. It is one thing to do a litany of exercises in your living room and another thing to run outside under the open sky. I do have some degree of SAD and running through the winter has always helped. The snow-cold-snow sandwich all winter long took its toll.

We've also been in the process of an adoption. The flurry of paperwork, the hurry up and wait, and the bureaucracy is numbing. I can't tell you all the details at the moment, but we are on the roller coaster portion, and I don't think I'm strapped in tight enough. Off balance and queasy. I've needed the run.

There is other paperwork from classes to grants to applications to more classes that have bogged me down. I go to bed thinking about what I still have to do and wake up with a list in hand. A run has typically cleared my head. This post came together on my run. I work through stuff on my run.

Our homeschool group temporarily dissolved this Spring. We no longer meet three times a month. I miss my running friends. I can't run with them. I work most nights, and I hate the phone. It's been a lonely winter. I see friends, but not with the same regularity. It takes more effort, and I'm already tired.

Somewhere along the way, I've also lost trust in myself as a runner. I feel weak and soft. I gave up gluten this year too. Then I went back on and discovered I should probably stay off. On the plus side I have a lot of new recipes and can drink coffee for the first time in my life. I haven't gained much weight, but I've lost muscle and endurance. Doing my large muscle exercises now after working on my small muscles shows me how much I've lost.

I sound depressed. It was depressing at times. For so long, running, not just physical exercise, has been my body's balance. Being physically tired as well as mentally tired helps me sleep. Being truly hungry rather than emotionally hungry helps me distinguish between the two. The outdoors reminds me that the world is bigger than the one I've constructed inside my head. Starting back at the beginning of anything is humbling, and if it teeters on humiliating it is even harder to begin again.

I've been encouraged along the way too. Matt Long's book, The Long Run, is so very inspirational. The president of our running club, Lupe, was nice enough to get me his autograph when she was at the Boston Marathon a few years ago.I keep it by my bed. It says, "Long May You Run." Matt was one of the first responders at 911, and he was also was in a horrible horrible accident. He scars are real, and his journey to a new normal was raw. I love it when people chose to be amazing.

During another point where I was throwing myself a pity party for healing so slowly I read about Sally Kipyego, the 2012 Olympian, and her slow but steady recovery. She won the Silver medal in the 10,000 meter and when she started back from her foot fracture she ran one minute and walked 10 minutes. Like in Chutes and Ladders, she went down the big slide and had to start the long slow steady journey back. Her quote. "You let your body tell you. It will let you know exactly what's happening" encouraged me to listen and lay low until the time was right. To be a better listener.

Running is different now. I can't relax and enjoy it. I pay attention to my foot fall, almost every strike. My feet have to roll differently now. It takes time to build muscle memory, to break old habits and to build new ones. How about my calves? Are they too tight? What are my ankles doing? Knees? Quads? Back? Push off? I realized I couldn't run very long because I can't hold my form properly for any more than a short distance. I am constantly listening.

Next week may be my last week of PT and my physical therapist, who is great, told me I could do three miles. I wasn't sure I could do it. What if I couldn't? One step forward and two steps back. Sometimes the fear of success has to be overcome. I texted two friends to see if they would run with me. Running with other runners would be another victory on the journey. However, they were unavailable. I had to put my shoes on and prove myself to myself.

It was a beautiful day. The sun. The wind. My focus on my stride. Occasionally forgetting about my stride. Focusing again on my stride.Wondering about my stubbornness to do some exercises. My tunes. Enjoying Beck's "Loser" and Journey's "Don't Stop Believing". Skipping Pink's "Let's Get This Party Started." This run was no party. Around mile two I heard fatigue getting closer and had to work on keeping proper stride. Katy Perry's "Roar." A friend on a walk tried to start a conversation with a quarter mile to go, and I had to wave her off. This run was important, and it was important for me to finish. I've been contemplating signing up for a 5K, but I had to prove to myself that I could run that distance. A comeback race. This was a comeback run.

I finished my 5K in about 34 minutes, and I cried. I cried in my cool-down walk. I have to do those now as well as a warm-up walk. I must have looked like a hot mess walking home. I was a hot mess with my chin up. It was a cry that bubbled up from a place that was healing too. A victory. A renewed trust.