Monday, February 27, 2012

Still counting even when it is hard

Counting the gifts is not always easy.  They may be under my nose, but there are days that I cannot see them.  Days when I am living the hard eucharisteo and it is hard to feel the love.  Everything is grace. Everything is a gift.  But, it does not always feel like that.  So, today, I make a conscious effort to find the gifts and write them down.  To look at my list and type it here. A reminder of the gifts that surround me.  The blessings all around.

 the smell of chicken noodle soup cooking
eating chicken noodle soup from the SAME bowls I did as a child
getting my long run done on a Saturday
date night with my hubby
cuddling with my 3 yr old
my 8 yr old wanting to change the world
talks with family
Superbowl party
homemade pizza
a good homeschool day
birds sitting in trees, so pretty
a huge red-headed woodpecker
talking with another runner/a stranger while on my run
time with friends
iced tea
boy laughter
a great conversation with an adoptive mom
reading scripture with my boys
J having the Morning Offering Memorized
K carrying A around the house
still dancing to "all God's Children"
a friend's exciting news
an unexpected dinner with friends
a really helpful, knowledgeable, employee at Lowe's
building derby cars with my boys
saw dust on the kitchen counter
the support and advice from Tough Chicks
felling like I am not alone
a babysitter at the last minute
dinner with friends
yummy food
knowing that God is here no matter what
a holy hour
my boys' smiles
a great 12 mile run
the run/walk method
a workout with my Sister-in-law
my legs feeling good after 2 good workouts
optimism for my marathon
my "men" loving me so well on Valentine's Day
a conversation with a friend
Valentine's Day balloons
pink, heart-shaped pancakes
dirt bombs
J  completing Timez Attack
A saying "Happy Valentine's Day K-bub"
A, spontaneously, telling J that he loves him
Audrey Assad's new album Heart . . . speaks to mine
heart shaped-strawberries
heart shaped veggie pizza
a good morning of school
K reading another book
a quiet car ride because all the boys are reading/looking at new library books
my 5 yr old who grabs his school books and does school  on Saturday when not asked
my 8 yr old getting a grilled chicken sandwich because it is healthier
how my back feels after a good chiropractic adjustment
a good 15 mile run
running with my boys
my family meeting me at mile 6 and running with my a little
my hubby doing the grocery shopping so I could run
mass on a Saturday night
a Veggie Tales Movie Night
a boy who loves to write in cursive
popcorn made on the stove
our new fridge for the garage
pinewood derby
knowing our own limitations
a nice run and "speed work" with my boys
holy hour
the smell of scented paint markers
(Gifts 549-620)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

An Open Letter to Jeff Galloway

Dear Jeff,

I am writing you today to tell you thank you for developing the run/walk method.

I started running in 2009 and have been plagued with injuries.  Last April I ran my first marathon.  Fearful of another stress fracture, I thought the Jeff Galloway method would be the only way I could get to the start, and finish line, uninjured.  And, although I had some IT band issues while training, I was able to complete my first marathon with no injuries other than being sore.

But, this year, I knew better.  You see, even though I used your method to complete my first marathon, I still, secretly thought it was a bit wimpy.  I felt wimpy for having to take regularly scheduled walk breaks.  Yes, I got through the marathon and still felt great at the end.  I was not alone. There were MANY runners that day that were using the run/walk method.  But, I secretly felt that to be a real marathoner, I needed to run every minute of the marathon.

Now, I am 23 days away from the my second marathon.  I spent most of the weeks training for this marathon running EVERY step.  I refused to run/walk.  And you know what? I was miserable.  Several weeks ago I ran a 16 mile long run and I struggled at the end.  I wanted to give up.  I was miserable. I was going slower with each passing mile.  I was miserable. And I was sore. Did I mention I was miserable????

But, the following week, I got to the morning of my long run and I decided to go back to the your run/walk method.  I ran 4:30/walked 0:30 and I got to the end of the run and I felt great!  My legs felt great the whole time.  And I ran that run faster than my previous long run.  Most importantly, I ENJOYED the whole run.  Since that day I have been using your run/walk method on all of my long runs and my confidence has come back. I feel ready to tackle the marathon again.  And I do not feel like it is so wimpy to run/walk anymore.  I have accepted that this is what my body needs to preform at its best.  And, at the end of the marathon day, I will still have traversed 26.2 miles . . . . and probably faster than if I had tried to run every step.

So, Mr Galloway, thank you for your wisdom. Thank you for the run/walk method.  And thank you for helping me to become a happy marathoner!


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lenten Plans

Lent is my favorite Liturgical season.  I really like to set specific traditions for each season for the family.  This year, our plans are very similar to what we did last year.  I loved the prayers we prayed and the books we read last year, so I want to continue with that.

- Prayer: At the start of the school day the boys and I will light the Way of Light Wreath that is pictured above and can been seen at Ann Voskamp's blog. We will read from A Family Journey with Jesus through Lent (which is perfect for younger children). And then we pray the stations of the cross using The Story of the Cross: The Stations of the Cross for Children.

I have been working hard to make it to daily mass once a week so far, but will do so this Lent.  It is a great habit to be in.  

Fasting: My oldest has decided to give up Legos for Lent.  This is HUGE since he spends lost of his free time building Lego creations.  So, we boxed them up this morning and they have been put away for the next 40 days.  The other boys, by default, have given up Legos too!

I am giving up chocolate for Lent.  It is such a huge weakness for me and I love to splurge on eating chocolate after a long run.  This will be especially hard since our neighbor brought over chocolate suckers for the whole family yesterday (and mine is milk and dark chocolate. I LOVE THESE!!).  But, I packed them away and committed to saving them until until after my marathon (which, thankfully  is on a Sunday).  Other than that Sunday, this is a fast I will maintain even on Sundays.

I have also decided to give up bread/gluten completely.  Although I eat significantly less of it since the beginning of the year, I still splurge and eat gluten while eating and friends' homes or out at a restaurant.  But not, this Lent.

Finally, my hubby and I have decided to give up TV.  We do not watch much as it is, but the TV will not be on during Lent.

Alms giving: Although we have not talked about this a lot as a family, my heart is leading toward giving to groups that work with orphans around the world.  They just have a special place in my heart right now.  I would also LOVE to find an age-appropriate service project for the whole family . . . . we will see.

Have a blessed Lent!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Never Ending Derby

This past Sunday was the Pinewood Derby.  J is a Bear Cub Scout and this was his second derby.  Last year, his car did, surprisingly, well.  And this year, J was really hoping to place. 

We got to the Derby about 30 min early to get the cars checked in (K and A had made cars to enter into the Open class).  We got the cars cheked in and anxiously waited for the derby to start.

For the last several years a "professional caller" has called the derby, brought the track and handled all the heat logistics for our pack.  This year, he was unable to do our derby, so our Pack bought a track and had to handle all the details by itself.  The derby started about a half an hour late.  All cars first race by "level." So all Tiger scouts race against each other, followed by Wolves, Bears and Webelos.  The Tiger heats started and there was a delay between each heat.  There was way too much time between heats as those running the derby tried to figure out the new computer system.

J's car is the second from the left

Not the best pic, but you can see J's car is taking the lead.

By the time the Bear heats began, K and A were done!  They were hungry.  A missed his nap.  K repeatedly asked to got home.  But they got excited to see J's car race.  J was quiet, but I could tell he was anxious.  First Bear heat.  Lane 3.  He won.  Second heat. Won!  His 3rd heat he took a third against the two cars that ended up going 1st and 2nd.  And his 3rd heat he took a 2nd (again to the car that went #2).  Overall, his car took 4th.  And I really think his car could have come in 3rd if it weren't for the fact that two of his heats had the two fastest cars in them (placements go by total points and the least # of points wins.) 

What seemed like an enternity later, the open round began.  K and A's cars did well.  A's car was NOT built for speed . . . he wanted a police car.  In his first heat he came in 3rd (out of 4) and kept on yelling, "Yes, I beat THAT car!!"

The derby end up lasting 5 hours!  Our pack is the biggest in the county and with the technical issues that occurred throughout the derby, it just made for a long, slow derby.  I was very happy when it ended.

At the end, J's car won the award for Scout Spirit.  He was so excited.  Another Derby down in the history books for our family.  I have three little boys that are already planning their designs for next year!

Friday, February 17, 2012

7 Quick Takes

1. My strong desire to give up on the marathon has subsided.  I had a great long run last weekend and I am looking forward to another good one this weekend. Next weekend is my 20 miler and then TAPER!! So hard to believe it is only 29 more days till the Shamrock Marathon!

2. And, I have never been one that wants to stand out.  I am an introvert and really have preferred it if I just blend with the scenery, but for this marathon, I am looking to have fun with my marathon outfit! If I will run my way through 26.2 miles on St. Patrick's Day weekend, I might as well get into the holiday spirit!  I have it all planned out and we are still 29 more days away  . . . The only time I have planned my outfit that far in advanced was my wedding!

3. Speaking of Love.  I had a great Valentine's day.  There is something special about getting to love four "men" and having them lavish love on me all day.

4. On Valentine's Day, Audrey Assad, a Catholic singer, released her second album Heart.  I had pre-ordered it on iTunes for an amazing price and I listened to it non-stop on Tuesday.  It is beautiful!  I have her first album too and just lover her song Restless (watch below).  Go Buy her music and support an amazing Catholic artist.

5.  The Pinewood Derby is this weekend.  Only one of my sons is old enough for Cub Scouts, but they have a siblings division, so we have been working on cars non-stop.  We are NOT one of those families that spends hours building a car.  So it amazes me at the sheer number of websites out there devoted to making a FAST car for the derby.  I cannot imagine spending that much time on the cars and having all the power tools needed for it! I just want the boys to help make cars they design and have fun that day.  The boys cannot stop talking about it. They are so excited for the Derby!

6.  Thanks to Maurisa at Half A Dozen and More Productions, I made Chocolate Cobbler for dessert on Valentine's Day.  Ooey, gooey, chocolaty, warm goodness. All I can say is YUM (and totally worth eating gluten and going off my diet for a night)!!  Just a hint:  all you need is a little of the cobbler with vanilla ice cream. Perfection!!

7.  The Pinterest craze.  I am not on Pinterest and am trying not to jump on the bandwagon.  Visually, it draws me in.  I see pictures of food, homes, beautifully decorated living rooms, fun crafts and I want to join.  But, I am still not sure of the purpose of it. Anyone out there who loves it want to enlighten me?

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Law of Diminishing Returns

I remember learning about the Law of Diminishing Returns in a high school economics class. Want to know what it is?

In economics, diminishing returns (also called diminishing marginal returns) is the decrease in the marginal (per-unit) output of a production process as the amount of a single factor of production is increased, while the amounts of all other factors of production stay constant. (from Wikipedia)

And, as much as I would like it not to, it applies to my running as well.  And I know the exact point where I hit the diminishing returns.


35 miles per week.  I can run 6 days a week, add speed work or hill work and my legs and body are happy.  But, the week my miles get above 35, things start to fall apart.

And this is a problem when you are training for a marathon.

Have you read the book Born to Run?  I have, and as much as I would like to think I was born to run, I do not think I was born to run marathons. At this point my legs are on the verge of shin splints and knee problems. I am frustrated and upset.  And there are days I want to give up.

I went into this marathon training cycle fairly optimistic.  This is my second marathon and I wanted to crush my last marathon time.  I had a good base.  Legs felt great. I had PR'd in a half marathon right at the beginning of training. But now my average pace is getting slower and slower because my legs just cannot seem to handle the faster paces right now.  I am afraid that I will go into the second marathon no better off than I did in my first. I did not want to just finish another marathon. I wanted to run it well.  But, at this point, I am hoping I can get to the finish uninjured.

 Is this normal? Does every marathoner go through this? Am I doing something wrong? Am I just not meant to run marathons?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Join the Mamma Support Swap at The Big White Farm House

Such a great idea! Click on image below to find out more information!

Our trip to Patuxent Wild Life Refuge and the list that keeps on growing

Last week Tuesday was incredible.  The Sun was shining. The temperature was in the 60s.  So, I took J and A to the Patuxent Wild Life Refuge (K was sick and stayed home with my hubby, who was also sick!).  We had a great time walking the trails and taking in nature's beauty.  God's gifts abound there and it is not difficult to see all His gifts displayed in a place like that . .

521. Capturing beauty so close, while trying to capture the beauty that is far

 522. Discovering a beaver's handiwork

523. Boy wonder

524. Nature's bright colors

525. Minnows

526. A walk through the woods

527. Swans on the lake

528. A tree adorned with it own ornaments

529. A wooden walk way
530. The warm sun
531. pine needle carpet
532. The sound of the rustle of leaves in the trees
533. My 3 yr old who hiked over 2 miles and NEVER complained

And the other gifts that abounded this week:
534.  A singing at mass
535. ducks feeding in the canal
535. how the sun shone on the Potomac during the 1/2
536. the beauty of the 1/2
537. the old locks
538. running in a new location
539. being able to run long distances
540. not getting sick until AFTER I finished the race
541. a hubby who took care of everything while I laid in bed
542. the warmth of the stove
543. A new Joy Dare
544. a new hair clipper
545. My "men" with new hair cuts
546. a boy excited abut getting to "buy" and ice cream party
547. A eating dinner
548. A quiet morning

Thursday, February 2, 2012

High Cloud Snapple Half Marathon Race Recap

This past Sunday I ran the High Cloud Snapple Half Marathon. It took place along the Carderock towpath which is an old canal towpath next to the Potomac river.

I have wanted to do this race for the last two years, since it started, but have not.  I love winter running and running a half in January seemed like perfect sense to me.

If you had read my 7 Quick Takes from last week, you would know that I was no really "feeling it" for this race.  I had no goal in mind.  I physically did not feel prepared to PR at the race. To make matters worse, my stomach was bothering me on Saturday.  All day, I kept thinking that if my stomach did not get better before the race, I may have a rough run and it might be best if I do not even run the race  . . . it is a small race with a VERY limited number of port-a-potty stops.  Plus, the trail has the Potomac on one side and the old canal on the other . . . no places for an emergency "pit stop".

I woke up Sunday morning and felt OK, so I decided to risk it.  I got to the race about 1 1/2 early (the parking was limited and I did not want to have park 2 miles away from the start).  I brought books to read while sitting in the car, but never got a chance to crack one open because I was in line FOREVER for packet pickup.

Once I picked up my packet, I walked the 10 min walk back to my car, got ready for the race and then headed to the start.  The start of the race was in waves.  My plan was to start in wave 3 ( 2 hr and up finishers), but somehow I started with wave 2.  The trail was packed and it was really hard to go fast at the beginning of the race.  My goal was to stay around a 9:30 pace.  This would keep me close to my PR pace.   By about mile 3, I settled into a good pace.

There is really nothing exciting to share about this race.  It is an out and back on a towpath, so it was not very exciting.  But, I will say that the scenery was beautiful. 

By mile 5, I mindlessly started running . . . this is not good for me . . . when I do not think about my pace or check my Garmin, I slow down.  I noticed that my breathing was too clam for being in the middle of a half marathon.  Mental note: if I am breathing during the race the same way I am when I am doing normal activities, I am not running FAST enough.  So, I picked up the pace.  Then I hit the half way spot and decided it was time to start picking people off.  So, instead of watching my Garmin, I just chose the person in front of me and worked my way past them and then on to the next one.  This worked well for the rest of the race and I ended up passing a good number of people in the second half of the race.

After I passed the half way point and checked the next mile marker, I looked at my Garmin and realized that my Garmin and the miler marker were a mile off from each other.  When I passed mile marker 8, my watch said I had run 7 miles.  I kept thinking that somehow the last few miles of  the race would magically be longer and the race would be 13.1.  but, lucky for me, it was not . . .

By mile 9, my GI tract began to get upset.  I had already passed the last pit stop before the finish, so I just had to push through.  Luckily, there were no emergencies and, although I felt sick, I was able to hold it together until the end of the race. 

I crossed the finish line, 12.1 miles at 1:57:09 (9:40 pace).

 I went up to the after party, got some food and headed to the bathrooms and my car.  My stomach got progressively worse and by the time I got home, I realized that I was SICK.  I spent the rest of the day in bed . . . any movement and my GI tract would act up. Now, some form of the illness has passed on to my poor hubby and my 5 yr old!

I have mixed emotions about this race.  I think, all things considered, I ran well. I was obviously sick before the race.  But, this race highlighted a problem I regularly have in races and running in general. And that is that I tend NOT to push myself too hard.  That would be fine, if I were fine with it, but I really want to get faster and I cannot do that if I do not actively push myself in a race situation.