Friday, April 30, 2010

I hate driving in the rain

What a crazy drive to Madison!  The wind and rain were horrible.  For a time, between Wausau and Stevens Point, we were driving less than 40 miles and hour and the visibility was next to nothing.  It seemed like forever, but we finally made it to Madison and got to Fleet Feet to pick up the race packets for tomorrow's race.  I am bummed that Holly won't be running it with me.  I have been looking forward to running with my sister, but she needs to take care of her back and heal well so that she can keep playing volleyball.  And, hopefully, she can run with me another time.

After picking up the registration, we drove over to my aunt's house.  And, as per usual, she had a feast ready for us.  There was chicken in gravy, couscous, broccoli, green beans with almonds, veggies and dip, yummy rolls and a chocolate cake to die for!  I think I have definitely loaded up on calories for the race.

Now we are getting tucked into our hotel for the night.  The hotel is great (I'll have pics later) and I am hoping to sleep like a baby and be to the chip pick up at 8:00 tomorrow morning.  Wish me luck!!

And, good luck to my friend Bryon who is running the Illinois marathon this weekend; Becky and Rob who are running the Illinois marathon relay; Liz, Becky and Beth who are all running the Eau Claire half marathon. 

Coffee date

I had a great coffee date this morning.  Liz and I decided to meet up and check out the new coffee shop in Colby.  I say 'new' but I think they have been open for about 8 or 9 months now.  I guess I'm a little late.

I had a latte and it was pretty good.  But it was great to catch up with a friend and just get to know each other better.  :-)  I hope we will do this again.

Then it was time to come home and pack for the weekend.  Fortunately, I had help.

I also got distracted by some flowers.

Okay, now I must finish packing for the weekend and clean the bathroom
 I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend, especially those of you who are also running races.


Finally, here are some of the 'real' photos from last weekend's Crazy Legs race.

I'm smiling.  I actually look like I'm having a good time.  That picture was taken just before the halfway point.

Crossing the finish line.  And I'm taking a photo at the same time!  :-)

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Isn't she cute?

Why do I run?

I often get asked why I run.  Especially from people who have known me for many years; people who know of my long standing eversion to running.  I am not even sure what the turning point was, what event or series of events transformed to into a runner.  But, in the past few months, I have gone from saying "I run" to "I am a runner."  And it is a great feeling.  But why?

I'm not sure that I can answer that question fully.  Just as there are millions of people who run, there are also millions of reasons to run.  Some people run purely for the exercise, others are running from something, or to something.  Some have been given a gift of talent and run to capitalize on that gift.

I run because I have to.  Now, I know that sounds strange.  I have been running for less than a year, and before that, I spent more than 30 years avoiding running at all costs.  So for me to tell someone that I need to run, is strange indeed.  But it is the truth.  There is something inside me that drives me forward, pushes me when I am tired, motivates me when I would rather not run.  I don't know what that force is, but I know that if I could sell it, I would make millions.

I run because it is my time.  It is a chance for me to refocus, to recenter, to regain.  Some people run in groups because the love the commaraderie of running.  They use the time to connect with friends and talk about what is going on in their lives.  I would do that.  I certainly love running with people.  It makes the time go faster and offers a distraction from the repetitive miles.

But I prefer to run alone.  I don't know if that makes me a loner or not.  I just know that I use that time to think and to pray and to talk to God and to talk through my own issues.  Sometimes I will listen to music, or podcasts, but a lot of the time, I just listen to my breathing and the sound of my feet pounding the pavement.  There is peace in the repetitive sounds and movements.  There is joy in pushing my body and feeling it respond. 

I run as a way to show my appreciation to God for giving me the ability to run.  I run to revel in His creation; both nature, and my body.  I guess that in a way, I run as a form of worship.  It sounds grandiose and I understand that, but running is so much more than putting one foot in front of the other for endless miles.

Running helps me to be a better person.  It gives me a chance to evaluate myself.  A time to work through personal struggles and decide how I should respond.  I think about what I've done and how I've reacted and I try to learn from those situations.  And there is no better way for me to do that than in the middle of a two hour run.

Some people like to talk through their difficulties with a trusted friend, and I see the value in that; I've done that.  Some people pray or journal or meditate or do yoga or drink or do any number of other things.  I'm certainly not saying that running is the only way to enlightenment.  Or even that running will ever get you to enlightenment.  All I know is that for me, the world is a clearer, better place after a run.  I am able to deal with what life throws at me.  I can think more clearly.  I can problem solve more effectively.  I can understand better and this makes me a better person.

And, there is a part of me that runs to set an example.  I am not the fastest, or the best, or the most graceful, or the most anything, but that is what gives me the opportunity to show people that anyone can run.  I want my son to run.  I want my husband to run.  I want my friends and family to run.  For way more than the physical benefits. 

So, now that I have waxed philosophical and you probably still don't understand why anyone would find joy in running for more than 2 hours (let alone 5!), I just want to let you know that the next time you see me on the road, and I neglect to wave back, please remember that I am probably doing a whole lot more than just running.

And I'm loving every minute of it.

Shave and a haircut

Chocolate for breakfast?  Yes, please!

I couldn't believe it when I saw Greek yogurt at Walmart!  I was amazed.  This morning I had some chocolate Oikos with Bear Naked Banana Nut granola.

I have to say that this ranks right up there with my oatmeal creations for breakfast nirvana.

Today, Penny is getting a haircut.  She has been getting a little scraggy and it is time to get rid of all that excess fluff before it gets too warm outside.

Poor Jedi goes crazy when he gets put in his kennel without Penny.  They don't seem to have any idea what is going on.
Check out this video.

Those are the before pictures.  Stay tuned for the after!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

You're a nut

After the wonderful success that was my homemade peanut butter, I decided that I had to try other nuts.  I started with almonds, because I found a bag of raw almonds at Aldi.  It really is as simple as that.  :-)

The almonds must have been a little more dry than the peanuts, because it took about 1/2 a teaspoon more oil than than the peanut butter.

It was delicious!!  I am thoroughly enjoying my foray into homemade nut butters and I can't wait to try more.  I think I will be adding my almond butter to my ice cream tonight.  I can't wait!

In other news, this is why Tim is excited to have a son.

Welcome Tyler Matthew

My cousins had their baby boy the other day!  I am beyond excited for them.  Poor Anne has developed this habit of getting to the hospital about an hour before she delivers, and because of this she has never experienced the wonder of an epidural.  Tyler was born less than an hour and 20 minutes after their arrival at the hospital.  He is doing well; eating like a champ.  He was 20 inches long and weighed 6 pounds 13 ounces.

That's big brother Brady giving Tyler a kiss.

Personality test

I like to take personality tests.  I like to see how each measuring device displays my perceived strengths and weaknesses.  The latest test I discovered was the Enneagram Personality test.  I heard about it on a podcast on How Stuff and I had to take it for a test drive.  I actually took the test three times.  The first was a shortened version of the test, the second was a more comprehensive one, the third was a sample test from the official website.  Not surprisingly, my dominant personality type was the same in both tests.  My secondary types were different, as was my 'variant.'
I was not at all surprised when primary type was the Perfectionist, also called the Reformer.

Ones are conscientious and ethical, with a strong sense of right and wrong. They are teachers, crusaders, and advocates for change: always striving to improve things, but afraid of making a mistake. Well-organized, orderly, and fastidious, they try to maintain high standards, but can slip into being critical and perfectionistic. They typically have problems with resentment and impatience. At their Best: wise, discerning, realistic, and noble. Can be morally heroic.

 I relate to a lot of this description.  I am definitely afraid of making a mistake.  I am well-organized, I try to maintain high standards, but I certainly have the tendency to slip into criticism and perfectionism.
  • Basic Fear: Of being corrupt/evil, defective
  • Basic Desire: To be good, to have integrity, to be balanced
    I'm not sure how accurate these two statements are.  I don't think my basic fear is corruption.  I would relate more to feelings of failure or inadequacy.  And I think the basic desires are a little off, as well.  While I certainly do strive for integrity, I think I am more driven by the desire to accomplish my goals.
    Key Motivations: Want to be right, to strive higher and improve everything, to be consistent with their ideals, to justify themselves, to be beyond criticism so as not to be condemned by anyone
    These key motivations are pretty spot on.  I am always trying to improve things.  One of my mottos is: "There has to be a better way."  And I hate criticism.  I know that it can be good and constructive, but I am always nervous and anxious when receiving criticism of any kind.
    Famous Ones: Hilary Clinton, Al Gore, John Paul II, Eliot Spitzer, Sandra Day O'Connor, Mahatma Gandhi, Bill Moyers, Martha Stewart, Ralph Nader, Katherine Hepburn, Harrison Ford, Meryl Streep, Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, George Harrison, Celine Dion, Joan Baez, George Bernard Shaw, Micheal Dukakis, Margaret Thatcher, Rudy Guliani, Kenneth Starr
    That seems like a lot of politicians!  I'm not sure it is the company I would like to keep.
    There is a huge, long description of what typical Type Ones are like, but I won't bore you with the details.  I am just fascinated by these tests and what they can point out about how we habitually behave.  You can read detailed accounts of the nine different types on the Enneagram official website.
    In each version of the test I took, my secondary type was different.  In the first one, I scored the second highest score in Type 7.  This type was also listed as the 'growth arrow' for Type ones.
      Type 7: The Enthusiast.  Busy, productive, extroverted, optimistic, versatile, spontaneous, playful, high-spirited, practical.  Also: over-extended, scattered and undisciplined.  Constantly seeking new experiences, can become distracted and exhausted.  Problems with impatience and impulsiveness.
    In the second test I took, my secondary type was Type Three
     Type 3: The Achiever.  Adaptable, success-oriented, self-assured, attractive, charming, ambitious, competent, energetic, status-conscious, highly driven for advancement.  Also: diplomatic, poised, overly concerned with image and what others think.  Problems workaholism and competitiveness.
    The third test listed Type 5 as my secondary type.
     Type 5: The Investigator. Perceptive, cerebral, alert, insighful, curious, able to concentrate and focus on develping complex ideas and skills, independent, innovative, inventive.  Also: can become preoccupied with their thoughts and imaginary constructs, detached, hig-strung, intense. Problems with eccentricity, nihilism and isolation.
    So, those of you who know me, what do you think?  How accurate do you think these descriptions are? 
    Do you take personality tests?  Do you think they portray you accurately?  I'd love to get your ideas on this.

    Tuesday, April 27, 2010

    Goals and an adjustment

    I seriously have the best chiropractor in the world.  I really wish she had a website so I could link it up.  I really feel that she has listened to me and considered all that my running does to my body.  After the training that I have put in lately, and the race last weekend, I was in desperate need of an adjustment.  And boy did she deliver.  I think I walked out of there two inches taller!

    She spend some good time on my knees.  My right knee has been giving me some occasional problems and we also noticed that I only have blisters on my right foot.  Then I brought up that my right arch bothers me in the morning when I first get out of bed.  She said the two words that every runner dreads....plantar fasciitis.  Naturally, I freaked out.  She calmed me down (I told you she was amazing) and said that I should be able to treat this with stretching and that I shouldn't even worry about it.  Whew!

    Back up to this morning.  I got in my 7 miles and felt really good about it.  Then I talked to my cousin about his new baby.  Welcome to the world Tyler Matthew!!  I can't wait to meet you.  Anyway, jason and I discussed my Crazy Legs race and my upcoming 20K this weekend.  We talked about goals that we each have....I want to run 33 races before my 33rd birthday.  He wants to do 20 half or full marathons before he turns 40.  I like his goal.  I might take it on as my own.  However, he has a considerable head start.  First, he has already done at least one half marathon.  And, he is two years younger than I am.  Maybe doing three halves and a full isn't such a bad idea this year.  We'll see.  I'm going to be looking for your help to decide what I should do on August 21st.  Expect a post about it soon.

    What are your goals?  Long-term?  Short-term?

    I remember when my goal was to run a 5K.  Now look where I am!

    Monday, April 26, 2010

    Bangkok Curry

    How wonderful is my husband?  He met me over in Wausau for dinner and ice cream and he brought the camera along in case I wanted to take a picture of my food!  He really is amazing!

    And I did want to take a picture.  We went to Noodles and Company, one of our new favorites, and I order the Bangkok Curry with extra asparagus and snow peas.  I was paying for it and I heard the guy in the back tell another employee that this was an "epic Bangkok Curry.  Good call on the snow peas."  I smiled and yelled back a heartfelt thank you.  And it was epic.  It was so good that I actually told Tim that it was almost as good as the Thai food place we used to go to when we lived in Arizona.

    Jaden had a blast with his big bowl of mac and cheese.

    He is such a ham for the camera.

    I wonder who he gets it from?  :-)

    St. Claire's ER

    This afternoon I will be working in the ER over at St. Claire's hospital.  I need to get some patient contacts for my EMT class and the pager for the Colby Ambulance Service never seems to go off when I can actually go on a call.  I will be the first to say that that is a good thing.  I know a lot of people in this community, and I am glad that they are mostly healthy.  But, since I do need to get some experience dealing with people who are sick, I'm going to head over to Weston today for a few hours.  I am hoping to get some hands-on experience and to learn a lot.  I'm certainly nervous and I don't know what to expect, but that is part of the excitement of working in EMS, right?

    I hope you are all having a wonderful Monday. 

    Training plan anxiety

    Yesterday I was working outside, doing some planting and cleaning up of the flower beds, and I noticed that my shins were a little tight and sore from Saturday's race.   I am usually not sore after races, but I knew that I pushed myself pretty hard.  I was interested to see how my legs would handle today's three mile run.  I am very happy to report that while I can still feel some tightness, there was no pain during today's run.  And I have no reason to think that tomorrow's 7 mile run should give me any problems.  I hope that the weather is nice enough tomorrow to do my 7 miles outside after I drop Jaden off at preschool. 

    I am really struggling right now with following my training plan.  I had some very qualified help when I put together my training plan, so I (intellectually) believe that it is a good plan and that it will adequately prepare me to accomplish my goals.  But, I haven't had a double digit run in over two weeks and I am getting nervous.  Granted, last week was a scheduled light week and it corresponded to my minor taper leading up to Crazy Legs.  This weekend I have one of my big races for the season.  I am running a 20K (12.4 miles) around Lake Monona in Madison.  I know that I need to take it easy for a bit before a long race like that.  But, as I was running today, I realized that I have never run 12.4 miles.  I did 12 miles on my birthday, and I know (intellectually) that my body is conditioned to be able to complete the distance, but I like to KNOW that I can do something before I do it.  Usually this means that I will have already done it at least once.  My training plan has me running a 14 mile training run prior to my half marathon in a few weeks.

    I know that it is not recommended to run a training distance equal to a marathon, prior to racing that distance.  And my training plan only takes me up to 22 miles.  But for some reason, I think that is okay.  I'm not worried about going from 22 miles to a race distance of 26.2.  Why?  I have no idea!  If I can rationalize that, I should certainly be able to rationalize going from a training distance of 12 miles, to a race distance of 12.4 miles.  I realize that you may think that I am insane.  You would be close to the truth.  I am just trying to learn to trust my body and to trust the training that I have put in.  If I were training to be competitive in this weekend's race, I probably would have skipped Crazy Legs and focused on another long run prior to the 20K.  But I wouldn't have given up the experience of Crazy Legs for anything!  So, instead, I will continue to worry and ponder and anxiously wonder if I have adequately prepared myself for 12.4 miles around the lake. 

    Sunday, April 25, 2010


    Jaden and I had to do some grocery shopping after church this morning.  He said that he wanted me to get some strawberries.  It always makes me happy when he asks for fruit so I was more than happy to oblige. 

    When we got home, he stated that he wanted a bowl up cut up strawberries for his snack.  Fine with me. 

    He finished it very quickly and asked for some more.  Ok.  Glad to give him some more.

    After that bowl, he said that he wanted a few more.  For a second snack.  The first two bowls were his first snack.  Whatever.  Four-year-old logic rarely makes any sense to me.

    He finished his 'second' snack and came to tell me that he was still hungry for strawberries.  I was a little curious as to how he could possibly still be hungry, but I wanted to respect him and if he said he was hungry I was willing to believe him.

    Within an hour of getting home, he finished the entire one-pound container of strawberries.  I didn't get a single one.

    Just a note to you parents out there, a pound of strawberries will do quite a number on your child's digestive system several hours after eating them.

    Ruminate on that.  :-)

    I hope you all had a great weekend.

    Madison in Bloom

    It seemed that everything in Madison was blooming this weekend.  It was really beautiful.  Here are some of my favorites.

    If I ever moved to Madison, I would have to live on this street.

    After this weekend's rain, Madison should be even more beautiful next weekend when I am down there for my 20K.  Hopefully, the sun will be out and I can get more pictures.

    Saturday, April 24, 2010

    More Madison

    After passing my CMA exam, I decided that I needed a treat.  I found this amazing Gelato place in a mall and fell in love.  I got a small with half Tiramisu and half Amaretto chocolate chip.  Oh, my goodness.  It was amazing!

    Then, I hit up Borders to find a book and did some Operation Beautiful posting.  It has been too long since I have left behind some post-it notes and I think book stores are a great opportunity.

    This one was my favorite!

    Where to begin?

    I have so many things to tell you guys.  I'll start with Crazy Legs.  It was madness!  I have never seen so many people in one place all lined up to run in the rain.  Actually, the rain held off during the race.  (Thank you, God.)

    I left my Aunt Sharon's house a little after 8:00 because I knew that it would be insanity trying to find a parking spot.  And it was.  Sharon and I had talked about the two free parking spots near Camp Randall.  Well, both of those were full.  She had also mentioned to me that there was a school on Mills that a friend of hers was going to use to park.  She told me that I should go down past the Eye Clinic to find it.  Well, as soon as I saw the Eye Clinic and it's empty parking lot, I knew that my search was over!

    But, let me start from the beginning.  I told you guys yesterday about my CMA exam and that I passed!!  Yippee!  On the way to the testing site, I stopped by the Kohl Center to pick up my race registration packet.

    I got there about 20 minutes before the doors opened and there was a line.  There weren't that many people in front of me, but people kept showing up.  By the time they opened the doors, the line was around the corner and up the block.

    The CrazyLegs people do a really good job of organizing.  I really have to had it to them.  There were more than 20,000 runners and everything about the entire event was pretty easy for me to navigate.

    You know it is a big race, when they have to subdivide the runners whose last names start with 'O.'

    There was this cute older couple who was volunteering at the T-shirt area.  They were really adorable and seemed to be having such a good time talking to everyone and just spending time with each other.  Of course, I was one of the first ones in the door.  I hope they were still enjoying it 8 hours later. 

    So, fast forward to race morning, I am dressed warmly, parked at the Eye Clinic and heading to Camp Randall to catch one of the many shuttle buses to the Capital Square.

    Once we got dropped off at the Square, I was amazed at all the people.  And, again, at the organization.  Oh, and for my NY friends, here is Madison's version of the Flatiron Building.

    The Capital Square is beautiful and I just couldn't stop looking at the gorgeous pink tulips!  I wasn't the only one taking pictures of them.

    I was in Wave Z, which was right in the middle of the pack.  There were 52 waves....A-Z and aa-zz. 
    Looking ahead to Wave Y.

    And back....

    I even noticed people in the windows of the hotel who were watching all the commotion.

    And this guy had one of the best seats in the house.

    We even had some pre-race entertainment.  This guy was very talented.

    I knew that my friend Jeremy was somewhere in the sea of 20,000 people.  I didn't know where, but I was silently wishing him well.  I haven't seen him in quite a few years.  So, imagine my surprise when I turn around to see....

    This was the coolest surprise ever!  What are the odds that we would wind up in the same wave and get to start the race together?  What a great day!

    We finally made our way to the starting line.

    And, we're off!!
    A nice steady climb to start the race.  It didn't seem to faze me much because I (characteristically) started much faster than I wanted to.

    There was a nasty hill in the second mile that just about killed me.  I totally wasn't prepared for it and at one point I looked down at my Garmin to see that I was running at about a 14:00/mile pace.  Yikes!

    But, I just kept truckin' along.  I saw my Aunt Sharon out on Observatory Drive and was thrilled to be able to ditch my jacket and leave it with her.  I would have been fine to leave it around my waist, but I was afraid it was covering my race bib and I wanted to be able to search for pictures of myself later and I knew that I would need my bib to be visible.

    The race finishes inside Camp Randall Stadium.  We actually run onto the field and finish at the 50-yard line.  Pretty cool.  There is a band and tons of cheering fans.  It was awesome!

    I would definitely run this race again.  The energy was incredible.  The race was very well organized and it was so much fun.  I just hope that the sun comes out next year.

    Here are my stats from the Garmin:
    Mile 1: 8:47  (wow!)
    Mile 2:  9:23 (including killer hill)
    Mile 3:  9:34
    Mile 4:  9:26
    Mile 5: 9:16

    My Garmin recorded the race distance as 5.01 miles.

    Official total from CrazyLegs officials:  20,450 participants!  Wow!

    Jeremy finished in 48:27.  Great job.  He crushed his goal time.