Thursday, October 31, 2013

It's The Most Wonderful (???) Time of the Year...

So in case you missed the bulletin, or the fact that your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds have blown up with pictures of strange people in weird costumes, jack-o-lanterns, and more candy than a person could eat in a lifetime, today is Halloween! And what that really means is that it is the "official" (okay, not really OFFICIAL-official, but un-official official???) kickoff to the Holiday Season. I remember that Once Upon a Time - also known as When I Was A Kid - the official kickoff to the Holiday Season was Thanksgiving Day. But I actually think that if we wanted to get really technical, the true kickoff isn't even Halloween - it's when Starbucks starts selling Pumpkin Spice Lattes, or PSL as they are now calling it because #PSL is so much easier than #PumpkinSpiceLatte, amiright or what???

Okay, so if we all take this as the Official Kickoff to the Holiday Season, then that means it is now "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year", right? Well, not so much many times. Sure, I love the holidays as much as the next person, but this time of year also signals the time to freak-out, stress beyond belief, go for broke, and stuff our pie-holes with anything and everything.

Funny Thanksgiving Ecard: This year, I'm secretly stuffing the turkey with Prozac . . . so we can finally have a stress-free holiday!

I go into every single holiday season vowing that this year - THIS YEAR - I am not going to let all the stress get to me. I'm going to quietly sip cider by a lovely fireplace while I daydream of a peaceful Christmas morning and a Turkey dinner that comes together flawlessly and is served precisely on time with everything still hot and the family reverentially sitting there in awe of the amazing spread. I say I'm going to take more time to treasure the moments. I'm going to hand-craft lovely gifts that I'm proud to give away.

And guess what? It NEVER goes as I planned! HA! I am usually that fool running around a week before Christmas trying to figure out what to give the co-workers because I completely screwed up the lovely handcrafted gifts I had planned on giving. Thanksgiving is usually absolute and total chaos. I never seem to find time to sit and enjoy cider by the fire and Christmas morning is like being in the middle of a feeding frenzy at the zoo after a week of no food. If you can survive one of our Christmas mornings then you could probably survive just about anything. And I'm usually so stressed out I am a total Grinch until, well, sometimes until the holiday is over. And the thing is that I absolutely DO NOT want to feel like that. I truly do want to enjoy it.

Funny Cry for Help Ecard: My stress level is such that you have two choices. Either leave me the hell alone or write me a hit list.

So this year, I'm just going to go into the season wanting one thing and one thing only: to enjoy all of it! Enjoy the stress, enjoy the shopping, enjoy the chaos, and even enjoy (and be proud of!) the ridiculous handcrafted gifts I'm going to be make and give out no matter what they look like. That's my plan. We'll see how it goes!

...if you let it be! 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Someday I Will...Do a Daily Tay Link-up!

The Daily Tay

Someday I will...
Run a Marathon

Okay, okay - I know it sounds cliche and it probably seems like everyone and their brother says the same thing, right?

And you know the thing is that I used to be the person that said NEVER. I will N~E~V~E~R run a marathon. No desire, none whatsoever. Zip, Zero, Zilch, Nada in the desire to run a marathon category.

But then, something happened.

That up there happened. I never thought that I COULD run, much less that I could run for a ridiculously long period of time. But as I became a runner, I realized that I was so much stronger than I ever gave myself credit for!

And then a crazy idea happened...who says I can't run a marathon? Maybe I can...And just like that I went from saying never to saying maybe to saying I will.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fall Racing Schedule

So this is actually a somewhat momentous thing because here's the deal - this is the FIRST TIME EVER that I've actually had a "racing schedule" whether it was a fall, spring, summer or winter schedule makes no difference. See what I mean? Momentous Occasion!! It really makes me feel like an actual true-to-life runner!

Never mind the fact that I've run two half-marathons, three 10k's and countless 5k's; a lost toenail; an injury; my box of energy gels; more running shoes than regular shoes in my closet; and lots more that says I'm a runner...having a race schedule is the defining moment. Silly, right? Sometimes it's the little things...

See, the way I usually go about this whole running thing is I just train for one or two races a year. Let's take a stroll down memory lane...

  • I started my running journey in June 2009 when my sister and I decided to run the Disneyland 5k in September, so we embarked on the Couch to 5k program and successfully ran that 5k and then we just kind of kept on running but without any real plan except to get better at it.
  • Then in early 2010 we began training for a local 10k race that would be held in June and we just kind of put our own plan together that gradually built up mileage and even though I successfully ran that very difficult mountain 10k, without any formal hill training it kicked my rear!
  • After the 10k we decided to tackle a half marathon so we began training immediately after the 10k for a November half (2010). I think, if I remember right, that I just kind of put my own program together for that one too creating a hybrid out of a bunch of different plans. The main point of the training was to build mileage, but I will admit that we skipped some key workouts in there and I went into the half not really feeling fully prepared for it...and it showed as it was a miserable experience for a variety of reasons including an overly warm day, overdressing, underfueled, undertrained, wind, boredom and I could actually keep going. It was one of those races that had every "don't" possible marked off. 
  • After the half, I decided that I wanted to do the mountain 10k (2011) a little more prepared the next year, so I added in hill training and I'm so glad I did as I was able to shave minutes off of my previous time and I was much better prepared. That training cycle was another one created by me by bastardizing multiple other programs.
  • Prior to running the 10k mentioned above I had already signed up for the Tinkerbell Half in January 2012 so I started training for that in early fall 2011 and I think this was the first time I actually somewhat followed a plan as I used the one created for the race by Jeff Galloway. It was an easy plan that didn't incorporate a ton of various speedwork sessions and even though it helped me get a PR, I still can't say I felt fully prepared for it.
  • I ran the same mountain 10k again in June 2012 and didn't do any formal training for it and it showed because my time was back to what it was the first year.
  • Then I signed up for a January 2013 half marathon that was closely followed with registration for a May 2013 half marathon so I really went into that training cycle wanting to improve my speed and endurance. I began actually following a REAL plan with the Run Less, Run Faster book and was feeling great about 1 month in, but then the knee debacle hit, followed by the races getting cancelled, and I was back to not only having any races but having to go through physical therapy and the gradual rebuild of my body.

And here we are at present day! I didn't go into the fall planning on having a "racing schedule" but it all just snowballed into one. I started off just thinking I would do a winter/spring half marathon, but then we found out that the half marathon we had picked was part of an inaugural race series where we could earn a special medal, so a few more races were added on to the couple that we registered for several months ago when it was still just a hope for me that I would actually be able to run them and not just hobble through. So here's my Fall Race Schedule (drum roll please...)
  1. Hometown Heroes Honor Run - 5k: This one actually already took place back on October 12 and you can read all about it here. This is the first of the Run Riverside Series.
  2. Awesome 80's Run - 5k: This is just a fun one in San Diego where there will be no goals whatsoever. We registered for this one what seems like eons ago and is one of those that it was just a hope that I'd actually be able to run it.
  3. Riverside Mission Inn - 10k: This is the same as my first horrific half marathon, but I have high hopes for the 10k version as it doesn't spend 6 long miles on a dusty, windy, and dry riverbed. This is also the second of the Run Riverside Series.
  4. Holiday Half - 5k: I know it says half in the title, but we are doing the 5k's just the name of the whole event. This is my first time doing this event and will be the third for my mom & sister. It has an awesome finishers medal and is a large event. The other one that was a hope back when registering for it!
  5. Citrus Heritage Run - Half Marathon: This is the culminating event of the training cycle AND the Run Riverside Series. If I can make it through all of these and still feel pretty good then I'll make a go for a full marathon in early summer 2014 (Rock N' Roll San Diego). If I'm completely shredded after these I'll look for a fall marathon instead! :-)
I'll talk about what plan I'm using to accomplish all these races in the near future. I'm super excited to not just have a racing schedule, but to actually be able to race again! During the issues with my knee earlier this year I truly did wonder if I was ever going to be able to again. And here I am, one race down already and 4 more to go!

Happy Fall Racing Season!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

P31 OBS - A Heart Surrendered

This post is part of the Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study for A Confident Heart by Renee Swope. You can find out more about P31 here, the book here, and my previous blog posted on this here (Excited Newbie) and here (#PerfectLove).

I was raised Mormon and even though I'm no longer a member of that religion, pretty much my entire family is. And I'm certainly not knocking anyone that has a fulfilling relationship with God regardless of what "religion" it is, this is simply MY experience.

Growing up there were always rules; don't drink caffeine, don't smoke, don't drink, don't say certain words, wear a dress to church, go to church, go on a mission. Not that those are necessarily BAD things to live by, I just never really understood why except for 'because we said' and because that is how I felt like God loved me. If I could follow the rules, then God would love me. If I didn't follow the rules, then I wouldn't get to live with my family in Heaven forever, I wouldn't be allowed in the temples, I might even get kicked out of the church! So can you imagine as a kid how I might have felt when I didn't follow the rules?? Which was, quite honestly, often. I felt like I was unlovable by God and those in my religion and I didn't really have a firm understanding of why those things were "bad". So needless to say, when I coupled my constant guilt of not being a "good Mormon girl", like all the rest of them seemed to be able to do so effortlessly, with the feelings of abandonment due to a Dad that hightailed it out of our lives, it was a recipe for disaster and a cocktail of guilt.

And I struggled and struggled. I did a lot of the things I wasn't supposed to on the weekdays and then went to church on Sunday feeling unlovable and unworthy and never feeling like I belonged in either place. And then I got pregnant at 15 and good Mormon girls don't have sex outside of marriage and good Mormon girls definitely don't get knocked up at 15. But I continued to go and the shame grew and grew with every sideways glance from the "good" people. Now, I recognize that some of this I may have built up in my own mind...they may not have been judging me, and some definitely went out of their way to let me know I wasn't un-savable. But it was like putting a black sheep in the middle of the regular ones...they kind of stand out as being different.

So instead, I just drifted away from God. For a long time.

Then our kids grew and my husband and I wanted to establish a better relationship with God. My husband had been raised in various non-denominational churches and we often had major debates on religion. We were definitely not equally yoked and it put many a strain on an already strained family. But at a particularly low point in our lives he ran into an older couple that he knew from his childhood church days and they invited us to join them at church. So we did and I thought it was the most ridiculous thing ever!! If you've never been to a Mormon church they are very reverent people. Music is accompanied by a piano or organ and there may be laughter, but you definitely aren't hearing shouts of praise during a speaker or seeing folks raising their hands in worship. And talking in tongues? Oh goodness gracious NO WAY! It's just not the way they roll, in my experience. So as someone that was coming into it from that perspective and upbringing it was pretty crazy and I just had the hardest time wrapping my brain around it - a BAND for worship? People raising their hands and shouting amens and hallelujahs? Rowdiness in church?? A Multimedia Presentation?? Where were the folded arms, bowed heads, and soft hymns?

However, my husband really enjoyed being there and the kids all survived...and honestly, our little family needed some grounding in faith, so we kept going back.

And little by little I let the voice in my head, the one that said this was the WRONG way to sing, the WRONG way to pray, the WRONG way to be, to just quit being so judgmental all the time. After all, one of the things that I felt growing up as a Mormon was constantly judged, so who was I to decide that the way these folks were worshiping was wrong? I eventually even allowed myself the occasional "amen" and a slight hand raise during worship. And then one day it just happened. God hit me like a freight train in the middle of worship and I felt like I was completely FULL. So full that my tears of joy could not be contained. All of the judgment that I had felt, all of the times I felt like I was "bad", all of the times I felt like the black sheep, they just lifted away. My heart SANG like it had never sung before. I finally felt like God wasn't this far-away, unknowable figure, but that he was my friend. Someone that wasn't judging me, but someone that was there to pick me up when I stumbled. Someone that wasn't shoving rules or religion in my face, but was asking me to have a relationship with Him. Come close. Listen deep. Feel loved.

And on that day my heart surrendered and I have been His since then. I walk with Him, and talk with Him, and feel His warm embrace as he guides me; always reminding me that he is my Yahweh. It doesn't matter that my real Father abandoned us, because I have my Father who will never leave nor forsake me.


Monday, October 21, 2013


Last week when I was out for my Thursday morning run with my Mom & Sister I made an off-hand comment to Sis that really got me thinking. I had asked her how her training was going and she had kind of said "meh" and so I, in a totally motivational-non-threatening-or-bratty-kid-sister way said "you do realize we are training for a half marathon, right???" My point being that we weren't going to be able to run a half marathon without putting in the effort...and I've been thinking about that since then.

Later that morning I started thinking about that comment and being in training for a half marathon and was just kind of "whatever - it's just a half marathon" about it...but hold on a second; last time I checked a half marathon was 13.1 miles. That is absolutely no joke. That's pretty far if you stop and think about it. So I realized right then and there that even though I was semi-chastising my sister for not taking the training seriously, I wasn't giving the distance the respect it deserved either. Then I realized that I'm not giving a lot of aspects the respect they deserve.

RESPECT...The Distance: Even if it is a mile, or a marathon, or something in between you have to respect the distance. Chances are no matter what it is, it is further than a majority of people would plan on running just for "fun". And especially once you start getting up into the higher distances, you most definitely have to respect the distance. I know not everyone will get this reference, but if I left Disneyland traveling down the 5 freeway I would run all the way to IRVINE in 13.1 miles. I would travel through Orange and Santa Ana and Tustin - basically through three cities. If you were running 13.1 miles on a track it would take you FIFTY-TWO times around the track...and then just a little bit more to get that point one. Think about how mentally grueling it would be to travel around a track that many times. You ready to jump on out there yet? No???? hahaha Me Neither!!! You have to respect the distance.

Respect...The Training: You use a training plan for a reason, right? It is designed to gradually build your endurance so that when race day comes you are semi-prepared. If you don't respect the training and only half-ass it you are going to either feel like you half-assed it come race day or your time is going to prove you half-assed it, or it could be a combination of both. My experience is that it is usually the last option there. You feel it and your time proves it. When you are planning on either running a longer distance or going for a time goal, you have to put a training plan in place that will get you there, but that isn't enough. No, you have to then respect the training and actually get it done consistently.

Respect...The Fuel: My biggest problem is that I never respect the fuel. I run long and I run hard so I then "treat" myself to junk. I don't respect the fact that I'm fueling a body and instead I pour in the cheapest ethanol that is available and then I wonder why I am bogged down and sluggish and falling apart. It's because I didn't respect the fuel and give myself healthy carbs and fats and loads of protein to rebuild strong muscles.

Respect...Your Abilities RIGHT NOW: Yes, we all want to improve in anything that we are training for which is why we do it, but you have to respect where you are at right in that moment. If you don't, it is quite possible that you will be setting yourself up with unrealistic expectations that you could never attain or that you might kill yourself trying for! I would love to run an under 2:30 half marathon and I would absolutely love to run a marathon in 4-5 hours. But the reality is that I'm not there...yet. I have to respect where I am at and work within those confines. Will I ever finish a half under 2:30? I don't know. All I can do is keep pushing my limits and see how much I can stretch beyond. But I can't train for a 2:30 half when my body is at a 2:40 half. So as much as I want it, and will continue to push to achieve, I have to respect what I am capable of in the here and now.
Respect...The Active Recovery: You get in a training groove and are doing great and then you hit your "active recovery week" where you are supposed to step off just a little bit and allow your body to gear back up for the next several weeks of hard training. But if you're anything like me you then use that as an excuse to mellow waaaayyyyyy out and just totally slack off. Or if you're like most running or fitness bloggers it seems you just ignore active recovery and keep pushing through at the same pace because slacking off is for lazy people. Right? Well, you have to respect the active recovery because if you don't, eventually something is going to have to give and most likely that is going to be your body in one way or another. So respect the active recovery.

So you see, and it really isn't all that different than other goals you might be trying to achieve, you can't get there if you don't first respect the different things that go into it. In my case (and my sister's too - I hope you're listening! hahaha) you have to respect the distance, your training, the fuel, your active recovery, and where you are at right now. If you're doing that then you are most likely setting yourself up for success!!


Thursday, October 17, 2013

P31 Bloghop - #PerfectLove

This post is part of the Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study for A Confident Heart by Renee Swope. You can find out more about P31 here, the book here, and my previous blog posted on this here. And can I just add a little disclaimer that I had a really hard time using that hashtag in the title as I am so completely burnt out and O~V~E~R hashtags. But, I'm following there. ;-) hahaha

I know what we all probably think of when we hear the words "perfect love" - we most likely think of the love a parent has for their child, right? That's about as perfect as love can get. We would die for them, we would take their pain and bear it ourselves for them, we would sacrifice all that we are if it meant happiness for our child. Am I right? Many would say that the definition of that kind of love is "unconditional".

And for the most part, a parent's love is unconditional; however, think for a moment about parents that have turned away from their children or cause them harm - it happens. It's not something anyone really wants to think about, yet it does happen and more often than any of care to admit, I'm sure. However, God's love for us truly is UNCONDITIONAL. Even when we act out or turn away from him, His love endures the same today, tomorrow and forever. He continues to love us and truly did sacrifice all for our happiness. After all, He sent us His Son to suffer the most cruelest of fates so that we could have a relationship with him. There is no greater gift to our Heavenly Father than to be joyful and find confidence in the perfect love and promises he has given us.

I know that I love my children and husband more than I ever thought was possible. I would say that I love them unconditionally. But I know that it pales in comparison to the kind of love that God offers us. His love truly is the #perfectlove.

If you want more check out the blog hop and see what the other ladies had to say! And what do you think is perfect love? Tell me in the comments as I would love to hear what you think. Be blessed, friends!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Race Recap - Hometown Heroes Run 5k

This past Saturday I had the opportunity, somewhat last minute (registered within the last week!) to run the Inaugural Riverside Hometown Heroes Run 5k in Riverside, CA. I live about 45 minutes from Riverside, so I consider this a "local" race and the best part is that this is the first in a series of three races to get the Inaugural Run Riverside Challenge medal! Cool, right?!? Three races, four medals, all local! Which is the reason we jumped on board with this one so last minute. We were eyeing the Citrus Heritage Run for our half marathon in January 2014 and my sister discovered that it was the final event in the series, so we just had to jump on board with the other two...thankfully we didn't find out about it after the fact. That would have just stunk.

The other great part about this race? It is put on, and benefits, the Riverside Police Officers Association, so it was a GREAT cause. You may not be familiar with Riverside, but if you watched the news at all earlier this year you heard plenty about the Christopher Dorner case and the police officers that were shot and/or killed during his brief reign of terror in Southern California. Several of the police were Riverside officers so this hit really close to home. Here's an except from their website about it:

The inspiration behind establishing the RPOA Hometown Heroes Honor Run is Officer Andrew Tachias.  Andrew and his partner were attacked in early 2013, the injuries he sustained will require long term care and he is still in the early stages of his recovery.  While he has a long way to go, he will continue to fight to improve and get healthy.  We as a community owe it to Officer Tachias and others like him to honor them and care for them in their time of need, especially when the situation they find themselves came during the course of serving their community.

So, instead of doing the planned 6 miles this past Saturday we met up and took the short drive to Riverside to run the race. It's a really good thing that we were meeting up at our "normal" time of 5:00 AM because my Mom showed up at the house and I thought it was a little odd when she brought her purse in since we were leaving, but first, right? So I dashed off to the make a quick pit stop and when I came back this was the exchange:

Mom: No, Heather today? (my sister)
Okay, not too scared yet...
Me: We're picking her up, remember?
deer in the headlights look from Mom
Me: For the race?
more deer in the headlights look from Mom
Me: Hometown
Mom: That's TODAY?!?!?

You see, this one was last minute so apparently Mom registered and then wiped it from her brain. Thankfully she didn't wipe it before telling her boss that she needed to take a couple hours off that morning! HA! Crisis averted and we were back on track...Alright - let's discuss the actual race!

The race was held at the Arlington Sports Park in the "citrus" section of Riverside, You see, Riverside was one of the pioneers in citrus growing in the late 19th century and even though the citrus farms have diminished over the years, it has a rich citrus history and tradition. Because of this tradition, Riverside has worked hard to preserve the citrus heritage, rightfully so, thus, the unofficial "citrus" section of Riverside. The park is nestled next to the California Citrus Park - a State Historic Park (which I've never actually gone to...hahaha); perhaps I should someday, but you know how it goes, the history closest to us is the one we always ignore, right? So I think you can kind of get the idea that in this area, the course was most likely going to be somewhat in some orange groves...and you would be correct!

Packet pick-up began at 6:00 AM and we were actually there a few minutes before so we got speedy service and the ability to really check sizing on the shirts. We got our bibs and then picked up our goody bag and it was a nice surprise! For being a small race, they really had a great bag - it was a drawstring light material not just a plastic bag which is what I was expecting. They had some biofreeze samples, jelly bellys, sunscreen, and a water bottle with the logo printed on it. Pretty nice! The t-shirts were grey and also had the logo on them and really look nice. If you signed up early you got a nice dark blue tech shirt, but we obviously missed that cut-off. We walked our goodies back to the car and then did a nice warm-up walk...I don't know how much we actually warmed up our muscles, but the movement helped us warm-up our body temperature because it was quite chilly out.

Goody Bag (Also available in Black)

We had a little bit of downtime so we checked out the vendor booths - the vendor section wasn't huge, but this was a small race so I wasn't expecting much. But it helped us kill some time. And before we knew it, it was time to get everyone from the field over to the starting line. And this part was actually really cool because it wasn't just "Okay - head on over"; it was a bagpipe player and a military Color Guard that led the group over. Apparently that is the perks of doing a police run!

Bagpipe Player - Played during the entire registration/check-in; then led the Color Guard
Orange County Sheriff's Dept came out to support and ran the entire course together while doing the little chanting-singing thingy that units do.

The race course was a basic rectangle which was really nice because once you turned the third corner you knew you were on a straight shot back to the finish! My plan was to keep a fairly steady pace and to start off sensibly. Many times I get caught up in the excitement and end up having to take a walk break or stop and stretch stiff muscles, so I wanted to avoid that this time. I wasn't going for a Personal Record (PR) so I knew I could just take it easy and get into the rhythm. Which is exactly what I did. Nice and slow and I just let people pass me left and right knowing that many of them I would probably end up passing later...and I did!

So the first stretch was fairly short and then it was onto a long stretch that started off with a nice downhill slant which allowed me to pick up a little burst of speed. About 1 mile in we got to pay back the downhill at the beginning with a gradual, not steep, uphill. I was able to run the entire uphill and felt strong the entire time. Hit the first (oops - the ONLY) water stop and considered walking through it but felt so good I grabbed a cup and took a quick drink then continued on. I will say that I really have NOT even come close to mastering drinking on the fly because I ended up splashing water all over my face. I get the whole pinch and make a spout but it just never seems to be the smooth process I imagine it to be!

I continued running along and then hit the final turn and was doing some serious fishing by now - picking out a runner up ahead and then gradually passing them. I have definitely found that the fishing strategy works really well for me as far as keeping me mentally distracted because I continued to feel really good and picked up the pace just a bit. And wouldn't you know that just as I knew I was getting close to the finish line there's the other hill to match that downhill at the start! I knew I could run it if I wanted to, but I also wanted to reserve a little bit of energy to have a strong push at the end, so I walked this hill then put it into gear heading for the finish line. I wasn't paying attention to my Garmin and I knew I was at least a little off of what the finish line clock was going to read because I walked for a few before passing the timing mat, but recall that I wasn't going for a PR, so I didn't really care what my time was at this point.

Crossed the finish line strong and collected my medal and after a moment remembered to hit my Garmin - the time there was 34:22 and my previous PR was 34:21 so I just barely missed it. I thought for a moment that if I had just run that hill I could have PR'ed! But then I reminded myself that the point was getting a baseline for how I felt.

Here's where I would have at least one suggestion for the race organizers - have some water at the finish. They didn't have any water and they only had the single water stop on the route and by then I was quite thirsty. BUT what they did have was the Boy Scouts troop out there serving a pancake breakfast for NO CHARGE. Just tips!!!! And they had O.J. so that worked for the moment. I got a couple pancakes and sat on a curb to eat before heading back out to cheer in my mom & sister. Along the way I stopped at the race results table and looked up my bib:

Notice the Chip Time? Oh my gosh - that's a PR!!!! By a whole whopping 7 seconds...LOL. But hey - I'll take it! The thing is, when I got my previous 5k PR was at the Fearless 5k in San Diego way back in October 2011 and I remember that it felt really, really hard. I remember having to stretch a couple of times and I remember feeling towards the end like I didn't have anything left to give so getting that 34:21 was hard earned. This time? Well, really, it felt GOOD! I was very proud of myself for starting slow, managing the uphills, keeping a consistent pace, and not having any pain or body issues. My knee felt awesome the entire time. I wasn't even sore the next day, or today. So all in all, I think it was a very successful race and I had a blast! I rode that Pain-Free PR high the rest of the weekend, that's for sure!

Here's me and my Mom after the race:

I so thoroughly enjoyed this race and it is definitely one that I will be looking to do again next year. The course was beautiful and it is at the perfect time of year in SoCal - chilly in the morning but once the sun came up it was quite pleasant. The medal is seriously one of the best I've gotten outside of runDisney races...I'm sorry I didn't snap a picture of it, so you'll just have to trust me on that one. If you're in the Southern California area, definitely keep your eye out for this one in 2014!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study - Newbie and Excited!


I'm a regular reader of Through Heather's Looking Glass (formerly known as Running With Sass) and she participated in this thing called a "Blog Hop" as part of an online Bible study that she was participating in with Proverbs 31. Okay, I'll admit right here and now that I didn't fully pay much attention to her posts each week that were specific to the bible study. I kind of skimmed through them and then continued on, but not necessarily because I didn't care - but I was skimming through a lot of the blogs I was regularly reading due to time constraints.

But then I found myself thinking that I needed to find a really good devotional because I was feeling like I needed that deeper connection and inner peace that comes when I'm walking the path with God and not by myself. Call it a lot of life stress or whatever, it was just the place I was. So I went online, of course, and started doing searches on Amazon and Barnes and Noble but wasn't really finding that anything was jumping out at me. Then I read a few blogs and Heather's was one of them and it was the final post in the study that had been going on. And the light bulb went off. Maybe I should have been paying better attention or checked them out earlier, but whatever - I finally decided to check it out and a even though the current study was ending, a new one would be beginning in just a couple of weeks, so I signed up - FOR FREE (best part)!

Buy It For Yourself Here
Now, I'm not new to bible studies, but I'm definitely new to an online bible study. I'm not new to online education either, and I've always really enjoyed virtual learning. So it seemed like a great thing to try!! I've actually been really excited and anxious for it to start. I purchased the book via Barnes and Noble on my Nook so I can easily carry it around and make notes as needed.

*I guess a side note is that I consider myself a Christian and I feel like I have a pretty darn good relationship with God even though it took me a long time to feel like that. I don't care about denomination, religion or what brick and mortar church a person goes to. I think that each person's relationship with God is theirs and theirs alone and it will look different for everyone. For me it means that I don't go to church on a regular basis but that doesn't mean that I don't have church in my car, or my home, or in a random field somewhere all by myself. I don't think any of that really matters, but I wanted to give at least a little perspective for anyone that follows along during the study. :-)

I'm not sure what to expect, but I'm really hopeful that I will just draw closer to God through this study. It's interesting that this particular study is about overcoming doubt because there's a lot of that in my life right now. So as a reader, you may not even believe in God or whatever and that's okay. But I truly do believe that God led me to this study because it's what I need to be more confident in Him and His plan for me and my family. So I'm hoping that at the conclusion I will have A Confident Heart - which, hey what do you know, is the name of the book we will be studying! Coincidence??? hahaha

Anyways, I'm going to do my best to participate in the Blog Hop each week and if you're not interested in following along on that part of my journey, then feel free to skip those posts each Thursday. No harm, no foul! Or feel free to do what I did and just skim through it. You never know when something might hit just the right note in your own life.

The study starts this Sunday, October 13, and the blog hop will happen each week which means that they provide us a couple questions and we choose which one to answer on our blog and then we hop to the others. Oh, and if you want to get in on the bible study there's still time to sign up!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Summer Bucket October.

You know, I've been meaning to do this for weeks now...pretty much since summer officially ended on September 21. Okay, so I'm 2 1/2 weeks late - I guess I won't be winning any punctuality awards anytime soon. Oh darn...BUT you have to take into consideration that I was raised by Mormons and they all operate on their own timeline (15 minutes late is actually EARLY) so really, I suppose you could say that in relation to a calendar year, I'm right on Mormon Standard Time. hahaha What's that? You're not buying it? Yeah, me neither. Alright - let's see what I accomplished on my bucket list, but I'll warn you now that it wasn't much! 
  • Beach Trips - I did one. Pathetic!!! I documented it here.
  • 2-3 Mountain Hikes including the end of summer kicker hike to Suicide Rock - I did one. Pathetic!! We haven't even talked about going back and tackling Suicide Rock. It was supposed to happen on Labor Day weekend, but I think we must have been busy. The one hike I did was also documented at the link above.
  • Beach Hike 
  • Camping
  • S'Mores - With not camping, S'Mores didn't happen either, but we are doing them this weekend in the move this to the Fall Bucket List maybe?
  • Homemade Ice Cream - Made one batch and it was delicious! Mint & Chip
  • Spend time under the stars - heck, maybe even sleep outside under the stars like we did as kids!
  • Reading at least one "beach" read (AKA - a less than serious novel! haha) - I read lots of books over the summer actually...some that aren't really worth even sharing because they were such fluff, but read a fun little series called Rock Chick and talk about a summer read!
Rock Chick
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  • Reading at least one classic - I read The Road by Cormac McCarthy and it was a fabulous, if dreary, book. The writing was simply amazing. My first Cormac novel.
  • Refresh my music playlist - I definitely did that when I got the new 30 Seconds to Mars Album - Love, Lust, Faith + Dreams. AWESOME!!! I am seriously addicted and keep going back to it.
  • Visit a museum 
  • Picnic lunch (or dinner) in the park
  • Take more pictures documenting the fun (I'm horrible about taking pictures it seems...LOL) - I phone sucks. End of story. I need to buy a simple point and shoot camera and really wish I had one when I was in Oregon.
  • and even more! - I have to say that the "even more" was the trip to Oregon. It was absolutely fabulous and I had such a great time with my mom & sister exploring trails and rivers and seeing family I haven't seen in years and years. I mean I ran on Pre's Trail for goodness' sake!!! That was an experience that I'm still savoring on a regular basis...that and the trail run along the Willamette River in Corvallis. Those are experiences that will live with me until the day I die.
So even though a lot of the stuff on my bucket list either didn't happen, or didn't happen in the abundance that I was hoping it would, I have to say that I had a fantastic summer! I really, really hated the 10-hour work days and they took a lot out of me this year, but I enjoyed spending time with the family and relaxing at the air conditioning. HA!

But, alas, it is time to put summer behind us. Especially as I sit here listening to the rain fall outside knowing that when I get home my husband has the first fireplace fire of the season going. Can't wait to celebrate fall and cooler weather, crunchy leaves, baking, turkey, and even more

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Off to a Good Start!

So I have been able to keep the mind games to a minimum this week and am off to a great start training for my third half marathon! Even though I'm only three days in to my training cycle, I am very optimistic that I'm going to be able to conquer the training instead of vice versa. Granted, it might be just a tad early to start declaring success, but I'll go ahead and give myself what credit I can for now!

And the credit I can give has been earned because I've gotten up and done what was scheduled even though there have already been times that sleep would have been oh-so-better! Take yesterday for example - I knew I had 4 miles on the plan and that being the slower runner that I currently am (which is to say even MORE slow than my normal slow thanks to the knee) it was going to take a little longer than the 30 minutes I sometimes give myself when I hit the snooze button repeatedly.

So that alarm clock went off at the un-Godly hour of 3:30 AM and I only hit snooze ONE TIME. Yay me!!

Then I got to it and got-er-done! Four miles including warm-up and cool-down and two miles at 1/2 marathon pace. I kept it at the low end of my half pace because my brilliant plan is to gradually get to the other side of the pace range as I move along in the training cycle. Since this is the beginning, I'm at the slower end (and I'm not complaining, thankyouverymuch)!

But you know what else? I actually enjoyed myself! I had fun and I was able to pretty quickly lose myself in the sound of footfalls on the treadmill belt, fan whirring, and awesome music playing.

So even though I can't declare the training a success yet, I can certainly say that it is off to a good start!