Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Weekend Adventures...

This past weekend my hubby and I fled from our crazy-hectic-full-of-kids abode and went to El Segundo to visit the oldest kid and his wife; Robert and Auxi. Robert is enlisted in the US Air Force and is stationed at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo - it's a super tiny base and most people don't even realize it is there! I've been on a couple different bases between him being in the Air Force and our other son being in the Army previously and this is definitely the most unusual base I've ever been to - nestled in with a bunch of aerospace corporate buildings it looks more like another corporate compound than a military base.

Anyways, they live near the base and we are happy when we get the opportunity to visit them. We live in a small(ish) town so we don't have a lot of the fancy-schmancy stuff like real malls, stadium movie theaters and a large variety of restaurants. So our shopping and dining experiences are pretty limited...and I'm a girl through and through so I love me some shopping!! So it never fails that me and my daughter-in-law have to go to the mall, Kohl's, Road Runner Sports or other such places to get a required* item. So, oh darn, this was no different! Hubby needed to refresh his wardrobe and there was no better time or place to get a little more variety so off we went...and hours later we came back and let me just note for the record book that neither of us girls came home with a single thing for ourselves!!!!! Yep - that was a shock to us too. Of course you can't count the Cinnabon that came home in our bellies...hahaha

*not really "required", but you know how it goes...everything can be justified as a need instead of a want. Right?? LOL

Then Sunday morning we got to have our movie-going experience totally ruined taken to the next level. I will NEVER be able to watch a movie in a regular theater again!!! Let me just state for the record that I absolutely love the cinema. I really enjoy watching movies both at home and in the theater, but I think we can all agree that watching in the theater is the best way to watch most movies. However, my hubby does not agree with me. He's never been really big on watching at the theater - he'd rather watch in the comfort of his own home. But since hurting his back in that motorcycle accident several years back he finds it really, really difficult to sit in the regular seats for the entire duration of a movie. We tried going twice last year - once to a stadium theater for Oz and then again to our local theater for Catching Fire. Both times he had to get up and leave the theater to walk around for several minutes because he was so uncomfortable. So when our son said we should go see a movie at the AMC Dine-In Theater in Marina Del Rey we were all over that experience!

So how it works is that you reserve your seats in advance (we were going to do a Saturday night show, but they were completely sold out, so we did a Sunday matinee instead) and then you show up to your assigned overstuffed recliner chair and table. You have menus and a call button to summon your server and a table for your food and drinks that swings out of the way when you don't need it. Check out this picture to get an idea of what I'm talking about:

Oh. My. Goodness. All of us were so comfortable the entire time. I almost forgot several times that I was actually in a public theater and not at home. Well, except I don't have a waiter bringing me fresh drinks or food on a regular basis at home. The food was comparable to Chili's or Applebee's in both quality and price. Same with the drinks. And yes - I'm talking about drinks...not just Coca-Cola; you can actually get cocktails, beer and wine. But you can still get popcorn and candy too. And my hubby? He got up one time to use the bathroom and came right back. He was totally comfortable the entire time. Success!!!

The tickets are actually only slightly more than a regular theater - $12.75 for the matinee. And considering that the food is comparable to a family-style restaurant you know they are getting you in the drinks, desserts, and snacks. But if you were already going to do dinner and a movie, and want a premium experience, then this type of movie theater is well worth it!

So what did we see?

IMDb Page
We all really enjoyed the movie. I won't lie - the violence was pretty brutal at times. I recognize that many people may not like war movies and I know a lot of people have basically complained that it was almost like propaganda because the SEALs in the movie are so heroically portrayed. But whatever...I have a whole lot of respect for those guys that go out and fight. As mentioned above, I have two sons that have, or are currently, serving their country, and my father and grandfather both also served. Like I already said - I have a whole lot of respect for the men and women that serve. It's not an easy job at all.

During the movie there were many times I was thinking "wow this is so intense" and then I would remember that it was based on a true story and it would remind me how horrific war is...for both sides. To realize that both groups of people are fighting for their beliefs/standards/whatever and that there really isn't a wrong or a right side - it's just different sides. It often felt like watching a documentary because the actors in the movie did such a great job it was easy to forget that I was watching Marky Mark or John Carter. And I was able to hold back the tears...until the very end. Because wouldn't you know that they showed pictures of the real men that lost their lives. Not just their standard military picture either - pictures of them with their wives and children, pictures of them living life and you see them up there on the screen so full of life and realize that they were taken way too soon from this world. It's actually a movie that continues to haunt me to some degree as I continue to think about it. I'm hoping to read the book in the near future as well. I can definitely recommend it if you like war movies. One of the best I've seen and on par with Black Hawk Down or Saving Private Ryan.

Alright - that pretty much wraps up my weekend of fun! Have you ever seen a movie at a dine-in theater?? Thoughts?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Stream of Consciousness...

I have been doing a lot of reflecting lately because it is coming up on one year since my surgery and one of the most horrific times of my life. I feel like it happened to a different person because it just seems like a million years ago. I remember being frustrated at the increasing pain and swelling and the speed, or lack thereof, in getting through the medical hoops process to even diagnose what was going on. I remember being angry about not being able to walk, much less run or do any type of exercise. I remember thinking that it was going to end up being no real big deal and that I would go through a possible surgery or physical therapy and be back to normal in no time flat.

But the reality ended up being SO different from what I had been thinking. And I guess now that I have that year as perspective what I find myself reflecting on more and more often is how life can change in the BLINK OF AN EYE. No really!! I know we hear it all the time, to the point of it being a trite expression that is easy to write off. But it's so freakin' true. Friends, it really is!!!!

And you know, it's not my first dance with that devil, but yet I still forget all the time how fragile this life we have been given is.

In early 2005 I crashed on my quad while out riding with my husband and a group of friends. The quad flipped on me while I was driving up a hill and basically came back and landed on my face. I had to be flown out on the helicopter to the local trauma center. I broke my ocular bone, suffered facial nerve damage, had a quarter-sized puncture wound on my forehead (hubby loves to remind me that you could SEE BONE), and a broken wrist that needed additional surgery months down the road.

I could have died. Lots of people do. I could have been unable to live a normal life due to injury. I could have been maimed. Lots of people are.

But I was, for the most part, okay after healing. And I had a new appreciation for life because of what I had gone through. For a period of time anyways, but then life just became normal again.

In the summer of 2005 I had to have that wrist surgery that I mentioned earlier. It was a very basic surgery of  grafting a little bit from my hip bone, fusing my wrist, and adding a small screw. And the surgery went as expected except I developed a large hematoma at the hip surgical site. Internal bleeding. Emergency surgery. This one wasn't life threatening, but as you know, people die from this stuff all the time.

But yet again, I was shown that life is precious and I woke up and began living.

In late 2007 my husband crashed his street bike when a car pulled out in front of him. He had to be helicoptered to the local trauma center (yes, the same one!!). He had a punctured lung, a very large laceration on his leg near the groin, a broken collarbone, and a broken back that required spinal fusion at 5 (FIVE!!!!) levels.

He could have died. Another guy in the ER on the same day as him that was also in a motorcycle accident did. He hasn't been able to live a normal life due to his injury. BUT he could have been paralyzed. He might have been maimed beyond repair. He was lucky to be alive, quite honestly.

And as much as I know he is glad that he didn't die, I know there are some days when he wonders if that wouldn't have just been better. Days when his pain is unbearable and there's nothing to do but ride it out. On days like that I'm (selfishly) glad he didn't get a choice. When he was getting somewhat better and the early part of the holiday season began, he went across the street to Walmart and came back with those lighted deer lawn ornaments and put them up - it was early November and way too early in our holiday book of etiquette. But you know what he said? He was just happy to be alive and he wanted to celebrate. He didn't care that it was early!!! And I agreed completely.

But eventually life just became normal again; and that happiness at being alive waned.

And then last year on Super Bowl Sunday I came down with the worst sickness I've ever experienced. I know now that the staph infection that had been growing in my knee had become septic and had spread to my blood and was now running wild through my body. But at the time, we had absolutely NO CLUE what the heck was happening. And it was terrifying. I'm just really glad that the medical process had already been started even though we were operating under the assumption that it was a simple meniscus injury. I often think about WHAT IF the MRI hadn't already been taken the Friday before Super Bowl. They may not have been able to identify the problem or handled it as quickly as they did; which still took 8 days from diagnosis to surgery. And even after the surgery, it still took the better part of almost 4 days to identify the infection and begin effective antibiotic treatment.

The reality is that if it had gone unchecked, I might have died.

So you see, as I said, this isn't my first dance with the "could have died" devil. But a year later and I find myself losing sight of the wonder and amazement at being given another day of living. February of last year I knew in every fiber of my being how special this life is. I knew it was fragile and that it could be gone, or drastically changed in a heartbeat. Today it is just a normal life. Get up, go to work, come home, eat, wash, rinse, repeat.

The thing is I don't want to forget how special this life is!!! I don't want to forget what a gift it is to be given each and every single day!!! I don't want to get caught up in the day-to-day minutia while waiting for another wake-up call that might not end as well as my previous ones.

At my half marathon earlier this month one of the songs that really struck a chord with me (very apt metaphor, true?) was "I Lived" by OneRepublic. When it came on I was probably at about Mile 11 and it just reinforced for me not just what that run was about for me on a personal level, but what LIFE is about.

Hope that you spend your days
But they all add up

And when that sun goes down
You raise your cup

Don't forget that life is precious, life is fragile, life is a gift. Don't forget that what you have today could be gone tomorrow. Don't wait for a wake-up call to tell people what they mean to you. Don't lose sight of the true meaning in a lot of trite expressions about "living life".

Cheesy? Yes. True? MOST DEFINITELY!!!
But I've got to go back for just a moment to the Oscar Wilde quote above. You know how he talks about how most people just "exist". Well, that's true. But there is LIVING in the EXISTING too if you open your eyes to it. Every day I come to work and sit at my desk and...EXIST. Reality is there's not a lot of living to be done in pushing papers, answering phones, and menial tasks. But there is LIVING in the relationships, the people I encounter, the blue sky out the window, the emailed pins from my friend, a well-written blog post, a smile. Find the life in the everyday. 

I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places
The things that I did
Yeah, worth every broken bone
I swear I lived

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

We Be Jammin...

For my third Half Marathon on January 11 - the Citrus Heritage Run in Riverside, CA - I knew that music was going to be a HUGE aspect to my running endurance and strategy. When I ran my first half marathon in November 2010 I didn't really know what to expect. I had been training with some basic music podcasts that primarily consisted of snippets of popular songs or house-type music; which was working great for the training runs! Without having songs played in their entirety I was able to just get somewhat lost in the beat without boredom. But oh goodness...once I got to the race environment it was a very different story!!

That half marathon consisted of about 6.5 miles of absolutely NOTHING entertaining - it was down a paved bike path that ran parallel to a dry riverbed. So it was 6.5 miles of dirt, shrubs, the other occasional runner, and a far away view of cars on a freeway. And that was it. Well, that and the hot, dry wind pelting me with sand from that dry riverbed. It was during that time of my own personal Exodus that I realized that the type of music that had been so helpful to me on my training runs was going to kill me drive me crazy now. I actually turned it off because it was just too much thumping in my head.

So I learned the really hard way how important music can be when it is playing in your head for several hours of what may, or may not, be excruciating pain and suffering. Okay, I'm just a *tad* overly dramatic. So when I built my Tinkerbell playlist in January 2012 I knew I wanted something that would keep me going if the going got tough. And I had a pretty good playlist then too and it made a world of difference.

Finally, it was time to build my Citrus playlist and I knew that there were going to be some perennial favorites on there, but that I also wanted to "juice" it up a bit (haha - punny, punny!) and add some new music. And I have to say that I absolutely LOVED my Citrus Playlist! So without further ado, here it is!

  • Pompeii by Bastille
  • Should Be Higher by Depeche Mode
  • The One That Got Away by The Civil Wars
  • Team by Lorde
  • Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO
  • Madness by Muse (one of my more recent favorites!)
  • Conquistador by 30 Seconds to Mars
  • All My Life by the Foo Fighters (an always on my playlists fave)
  • Shake the Disease by Depeche Mode
  • Timber by Pitbull featuring Ke$ha (a new favorite just added - love the harmonica as it reminds me of my Grandpa)
  • If I Lose Myself by OneRepublic
  • In the Mood by the Glenn Miller Orchestra (yes, this is old-time big band and it NEVER fails to get me wanting to dance in the streets even though I do not know Swing Dance at all...)
  • One by Metallica
  • Lose Yourself by Eminem
  • I'm Shipping up to Boston by Dropkick Murphys (another perennial playlist fave)
  • I Can Transform Ya by Chris Brown feat. Lil Wayne
  • It's Time by Imagine Dragons
  • We Won't Give Up by The Afters
  • Let's Dance by Vanessa Hudgens (a guilty pleasure)
  • I Lived by OneRepublic (THIS song right here gave me the BIGGEST kick in the pants during the race...I sang out loud and just realized that I LIVED! This is a definite keeper and will make return visits forever)
  • The Rockafeller Skank by Fatboy Slim
  • Shake it Out by Florence + the Machine
  • My Songs Know What you Did...by Fall Out Boy (a most definite new favorite!)
  • Right Now by Van Halen
  • Barton Hollow by The Civil Wars
  • Who's Going to Save the World by Swiss House Mafia
  • Miss Jackson by Panic! at the Disco (another new add that I like a whole lot)
  • Demons by Imagine Dragons (this is also a new add that is a keeper for sure!)
  • Walking on Air by Kerli
  • I Will Wait by Mumford & Sons
  • Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys (how could I not have this song on there?)
  • The Seven Deadly Sins by Flogging Molly
  • On to the Next One by Jay-Z featuring Swizz Beats (a definite favorite, but explicit so be warned!)
  • The Sinner in Me by Depeche Mode
  • Called Out in the Dark by Snow Patrol (not a typical running song, but it really got me focused so it will most likely remain on the playlist for some time...)
  • Like a G6 by Far East Movement
  • Ni**as in Paris by Jay-Z and Kanye West
  • Up in the Air by 30 Seconds to Mars
  • Roar by Katy Perry (another one of those that I just had to include...definitely a keeper!)
  • Sound of Madness by Shinedown
  • The Truth About Love by P!nk
  • Don't Stop Believin' by Journey
  • Soothe My Soul by Depeche Mode
  • Learning to Fly by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
  • Give me Everything by Pitbull

And there you have it! You can see that there are several artists that are obvious favorites as they make multiple appearances: Depeche Mode, The Civil Wars, OneRepublic, 30 Seconds to Mars. And they are bands that just NEVER seem to let me down. I had some new additions and was happy for every single one of them: Roar, Girl on Fire, My Songs Know..., Demons, Timber, Miss Jackson. There were some that usually really give me a boost that I wasn't quite feeling this time so I may need to retire them for a bit: Party Rock Anthem, Walking on Air, Sound of Madness, Like a G6. But all in all I have to say that my playlist was pretty close to perfect for me.

So your turn - what are some of your current, or always reliable, favorites for your activity of choice? 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Citrus Heritage Half Marathon Race Recap - Part II

So I left off yesterday after recapping the first 6 miles of the Citrus Heritage Half Marathon...let's pick back up where we left off, shall we?

From the state park we headed into actual orange groves. We would run down one row, then hit streets for a little before heading down another row. I was really lagging in energy by this point, so I just chatted up folks as I encountered them - gave them a cheer and continued on. I pretty much zoned out a lot and just got lost in the music or the folks I chatted with briefly.

Mile 7: 13:13/11:30
Mile 8: 13:54/12:33 (pretty slow here...there was a pretty good hill but I knew the GU aid station was coming up, along with a turnaround so I was just holding out for that at this point

I hit the aid station and was like "SCORE" when they had Salted Caramel GU (absolutely delicious) - and it sure did hit the spot perfectly!! I'm sure it didn't hurt that I also finally got some downhill because I kicked it into gear and I FLEW for a bit!! I passed a lot of people during this time and was just simply amazed at the second wind I was experiencing. I got a lot of "get it girl's" and "whoa, where'd you come from"! But I did eventually run out of gas...and it was probably right about when I hit some more hills. *groan*

Mile 9: 11:09/10:41
Mile 10: 12:10/10:53
Mile 11: 13:19/9:43

ANOTHER hill - they WERE not my friends!
I really had to begin to dig deep. I knew I had less than a 5k to go, and I really, really wanted to just keep flying, but I was simply T.I.R.E.D. Tired of being on my feet, tired of going, tired of hills, tired of GU Chomps. I was so ready to be done. I sang out loud to my music, I channeled some Breaking Bad and said "Yo, B*#%H - get moving!", I told myself to be COURAGEOUS...and I just dug deep and kept going. I promised myself I could take a walk break when I got to that palm tree, or that driveway, or that intersection.

Mile 12:  12:36/10:12
Mile 13: 12:58/11:09

After making me go up one more hill, there was the finish line. I didn't know if I had any gas left in the tank, but I decided to give it a shot and sprinted to the finish with every ounce I had left!

My Mom took several pics, but they came out all blurred...so I'm glad I got at least one even if it is far away!
Mile .1: 12:42/6:02

My official results: I was 32 out of 39 in my age group. I was 281 overall out of 857 and I was 165 out of 241 women. It wasn't a PR, but it was faster than my first half marathon time of 2:57:53!!

I am totally pleased with this race. Even though it wasn't a mind-blowing, PR-achieving, perfect-strategy race, I finished it totally and completely feeling VICTORIOUS. It was my victory lap for the knee! It was a big EFF-YOU to the knee infection, sickness, fevers, vomiting, no running for over 5 months, swelling, pain, surgery, antibiotics, PICC line, showers wrapped in a garbage bag, physical therapy, rebuilding from scratch that was 2013. Whew...That  right there was the real race. All of that nightmare...In comparison, running 13.1 miles was a piece of cake! It wasn't easy by any means, but neither was any of what I went through to get to right here and right now. But I finished that half marathon feeling like I was ME again. I don't know how else to describe it...yeah, I was a slower version of the me before the knee disaster, but I was ME. I was a runner out on the road, soaking in the sunshine and blue Southern California skies, absorbing the smell of dirt and the zest of a freshly peeled orange. I felt like I belonged there.

And the perfect reward for a hard-fought victory? First was fresh oranges at the finish line. Oh my goodness - they had to be the most awesome piece of fruit I have EVER eaten! I wanted to take the whole bowl and just go sit for awhile with it...but I restrained myself. haha Then this went down when I got home:

You'd better believe I had the cheeseburger, fries, AND a strawberry shake!! And it was delicious...OH YEAHHHHHH!

And finally, this was the last race in the Run Riverside Challenge so you can see in the picture above that I got double the bling! I have to say that I immensely enjoyed the Run Riverside Challenge. I felt like I got to enjoy some local areas, and even learned a little bit more than I did prior to running these races too! They were all well-organized events benefiting worthy causes (Police Officers Association, Mission Inn Museum, and the Riverside Road Runners youth scholarship run fund). I am totally looking forward to participating in this set of races again for many years to come!!!!

So my takeaways from the race?
  • Hills - they are still my Achilles...I am going to be focusing on more hill training this year because I don't want to let them continue to beat me.
  • Race Pace Workouts - I need to be more comfortable running at my race paces. I find it interesting that training plans don't have you actually spend a significant amount of time at a race pace, so how do you improve in this area?? The reality is that I don't feel like I could ever run an entire 13.1 miles (or 6.2 or even 3.1!) at my race paces. Any thoughts, ideas, suggestions are welcome here!
  • I still really need to work on fueling strategies. I don't feel like I've come close to mastering this at all
  • I'm really bad at setting race goals because I never seem to meet them! But I do need to have some kind of pacing expectation in place, especially in the early miles to keep myself steady instead of heading out too fast and paying for it.
I had an awesome rest of the day and then woke up Sunday morning feeling like I'd been run over by a train more than once! But it is now Wednesday and I'm pretty much feeling back to normal. And the best part? My knee hasn't hurt even a tiny bit. 

Later this week I'll share my music playlist because I happen to think it was pretty awesome! Until then...keep running (or walking, or skipping, or dancing) friends!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Citrus Heritage Half Marathon Race Recap - Part I

Well, hellooooo!! Judging by the fact that I'm writing a post, I survived my half marathon this past Saturday! WooHoo!!! hahaha I kid, I kid...of course. Seriously though, I think I just ran my new favorite half this past weekend...and that says a lot because I can compare to the Inaugural Tinkerbell in 2012! Don't get me wrong, the Tink was an awesome experience, but as far as race scenery goes, I guess I'll pick the orange groves over Sleeping Beauty's castle. Go figure! So let's take a look...

This was a small local race - they were estimating about 1,000 runners and I think it was probably a fairly good estimate. The 5k had 481 participants (as listed at Active.com) and the Half had 857; so a total of 1,338. That doesn't include the kid's 1 mile race either...so they probably had about 1,500 people including volunteers and vendors, which is not too shabby for a local race. This was the first year that they had a half marathon; previously they had offered a 5k and 10k, but judging by the comments and participation rate (both races sold out!), I'm pretty sure they will continue offering the half into the future.

This was taken from the event's Facebook page and 1) I thought it was a really cool picture; but 2) you can actually see my sister in it! She's wearing the bright green shirt as she's making her way with the 5k participants!
We got there plenty early so there was no rush getting checked in, finding the start line, making a potty stop, etc. There were some booths set up at their "expo" but the focus definitely wasn't on that part of the event. There were only a smattering of tables which was fine by me. Less to get distracted by, right? Another major benefit to this race was that it was staged at a Sports Park that also includes a pretty awesome playground. So my sister's kids got to play to their heart's content instead of being bored out of their minds waiting for hours on end. SCORE!

I knew going in that I didn't have a time goal, but I really do wish in hindsight that I had set some kind of pace expectation because I went out too fast and paid for it with tight shin/calf muscles. There was a somewhat downhill start and I got caught up in the excitement, and I'm still kind of getting used to my new Garmin, so it caused me some unintentional walking and stretch breaks early in the race. The first three miles were probably the hardest of the entire race for me.

Mile 1: Average Pace of 11:56, Best Pace of 10:16
Mile 2: 13:29/10:36
Mile 3: 13:14/11:47

Because I was so tight and knew I needed to slow down and let my body try to loosen up a little bit I was near a group of ladies that was doing a timed walk/run and I could hear their timer going off, so I just followed along! It actually worked really well for that period of time and definitely helped me loosen up a little. I finally passed them about mile 3 and just continued on with my own thing.Here's a picture at just about mile 2 if I remember right. We spent probably at least half of the race in orange groves and it was amazing!!!

I finally started to feel good about Mile 4. It was actually pretty cool because at about Mile 2.5 we joined up with the 5k runners that started 30 minutes after we did. It did cause a little bit of congestion as my timing had me hitting more of the 5k walkers than the runners, but it was totally manageable. About the same time we started seeing the fast runners as they headed back too so that was pretty inspiring. I have to say though - the fast runners are WAY too serious! You can cheer them on but they just have the serious face...absolute focus! One of the big reasons I finally mellowed out and felt good instead of just okay was I stopped for a bathroom break in one of the several REAL bathrooms along the course. Just taking that moment to sit down and then splash some cool water on my face made a big difference. Yay for real bathrooms along a race course! I was also able to see my Mom & Sister and give them both a high-five!

There were a lot of hills though; a lot more than I really realized. I had done a basic Map My Run map using the course map that was provided so I knew that there were some elevation changes, but it is never as "gentle" or "rolling" as they seem on a map. HA! It seriously felt like almost the entire thing was uphill.

Mile 4: 12:49/4:08 - HA!!! that has got to be a glitch...
Mile 5: 13:00/10:20
Mile 6: 12:48/11:59

After the bathroom break we went up a bigger hill, but then we got some amazing views before we dropped down into Mockingbird Canyon on a dirt trail surrounded by citrus trees. Miles 4 & 5 took place in the California Citrus State Historic Park and was probably one of my favorite parts of the race. There were great views, nice paths, and was early enough in the race that I was feeling pretty darn good. The weather was absolutely amazing - a little warmer than I would have liked - but clear blue skies and not even a little bit of breeze. Perfect running weather!

Taken in the California Citrus State Historic Park
This post has already gotten to be pretty long and there is still so much I want to say about this race and my experience, so I'm going to spare you all the mini-novel and break this into two posts. *Is that cheering I hear?!?* hahaha Come back tomorrow for the conclusion...

To be continued...(here)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Race Day Preparations...

The day after tomorrow will be my first half-marathon post-knee surgery AND my first race of 2014! My last half marathon was all the way back in January 2012 at the inaugural Tinkerbell and I had an awesome time, earned a HUGE shiny medal, and went home with a brand-new PR of 2:41:02. But that was all before I knew what was coming for me in 2013. At this point, I'm not going out to better my current PR, I'm just doing this to prove that I am back to "normal", even if the new normal is at speeds slower than before.

I've been back to running for 6 months (started back up on June 3) progressing through 5k training via Couch to 5k, then 10k training (the 10k update is towards the end of that link post) with the Lolo Jeff Galloway app, finally getting back to where I was before by training for a half marathon. There have been many times through the past 6 months that I've experienced a lot of deja vu. I started my running journey back in 2009 with Couch to 5k, and I was in half marathon training - for a January half no less! - when I was sidelined with the injury. Several times I realized that I was doing a similar workout, or was at the same place in training or time of year when the medical issues began last year. And I would be lying if I didn't admit that I was scared many times during this process that I might experience another nightmare and not be able to get to the half marathon yet again.

But here I am...a day and half away from my third half marathon. I feel like I've been waiting for this day for a very long, long time.

Since I started from scratch when I was cleared for running again I haven't been focused on getting faster. I've had speed workouts, but they were set to be a very moderate pace using my current fitness, rather than past race times, to build on. But you know what?

This race is my victory lap because I already did the hard part!!

I already went through pain, sickness, physical therapy, recovery and more. The actual race...that is the EASY part. HA!

So you won't hear anything from me about time goals. My goal is to:

1. Enjoy every mile
2. Spend time in reflection being thankful for the ability to run again
3. Slow down if needed, but not stop except for during aid stations and when taking fuel, as needed

And that's it - that's the plan!! I do have to confess though that I've had to beat back down the time goal thoughts a lot this week. I keep thinking in the back of my head "maybe you can...", or "maybe you should push..."; but I know that what I NEED is to just focus on those goals above. And whatever time I get is almost like a PR because I'm not the same person that raced Tinkerbell in January 2012. This is the recovered me and I've been through a lot and lived to tell the tale. :-)

I have created my Citrus Half playlist and I think it is going to be pretty epic! I'll share with y'all in the near future after I put the finishing touches on it. I have a pretty good idea of what I am going to wear and did a run-through (pun intended!) this past weekend in the clothes with all going well. I have my GU Chomps all ready to go. I think I'm as ready as I'm going to get at this point!

And just think...this weekend I will actually be coming home with TWO medals as this is the final race in the three-part Run Riverside Challenge!

I'm also going to mentally dedicate miles for the first time to help me meet my goals of reflection, gratitude, and enjoying every mile.

Mile 1 - My husband, Pat - words cannot express how much he gives to me
Mile 2 - My bestie, and biggest support outside of family, Rebecca
Mile 3 - My mom, Barbara, that made this race, and many others, possible
Mile 4 - My sister and BRF, Heather
Mile 5 - My oldest son and his wife, Robert and Auxi
Mile 6 - My place of work and weekday family, MSJC
Mile 7 - My younger son and his wife, Brandon and Tasha
Mile 8 - My other friends and support, both virtual and real-life!
Mile 9 - My older-by-three-minutes daughter and her significant other, Melissa and Curtis
Mile 10 - My younger-by-three-minutes daughter, Michelle
Mile 11 - My two beautiful grandkids that keep me running - figuratively and literally - Joshua and Angie
Mile 12 - God
Mile 13 - My husband again because he is the beginning, the end and everything in between
Mile .1 - It's ALL ME, BABY!!!!!

I'll be back to let you know how it all goes; wish me luck!! (I very well may need it! hehe)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Several years back now my bestie introduced the concept of selecting a single word to represent your coming year and we both jumped in with both feet and ran with it. For me, I liked that it provided focus and direction of where I wanted to go, while also being like a single-word resolution. When we both jumped in, we will admit, neither of us really recognized just how powerful it could be. But we learned soon enough...oh yes, we did. My word for that first year was Peace (2010). And I had high hopes of how it would bring me an inner contentment with where I was at and who I was. Instead it brought me a lot of challenges...almost a "be careful what you wish for" because you won't find it without working for it. But it was a powerful word and it definitely transformed me; which is kind of what I was looking for, right? It didn't fail to deliver that's for sure.

2011 - Quality: This was a boring word and I know that I chose something that was safe because I was so rocked by Peace. I didn't want another challenging year!

2012 - Strong: I know that this word chose me but I thought it was for different reasons. I wanted to build a stronger body and relationships, but life needed me to just be strong in every facet of the word. It was another challenging year. But I ended the year feeling like my word lived within me during 2012.

2013 - Light: Again, I went with an easy word because I was scared. And instead of it being about getting lighter and finding lightness in life, it became about finding the light at the end of the tunnel! With the knee issue and surgery starting off my year my word wasn't a real focus and I feel like I took the easy way out on that one.

2014 - Courage

I had lots of words bouncing around my head as I began the thought process of choosing my word - but really, I have to admit that my best words chose ME - and I even semi-chose one early in the thought process, Enjoy; but I knew that wasn't supposed to be my word. I felt it in my gut. So I switched to discipline, but when I read the definition it didn't ring any bells for me.

Yeah...kinda harsh, eh? Definitely not what I was looking for. But then I couldn't exactly say how or where Courage jumped out at me and like I knew in my gut that Enjoy wasn't the right word, I knew in my gut that courage was the right word for 2014. And it scared the heck out of me...this word - Courage. I knew that it was going to be one of those words...like Peace and Strong. I knew that it was going to take me on a ride and I seriously considered letting it go, but I knew that I would be disappointed if I did. So guess what? I found the courage to accept that this was my word and that it was going to bring me challenges, but I also found the courage to accept that it was going to bring me good things and that it would help me be the person that I want to be. I know it won't be easy, but just like the definition says, it is "the ability to do something that you know is difficult...". Talk about living my word!!

Click here to visit my Pinterest board for Courage that I'll be adding to throughout the year.

So today and throughout this year, I will be breathing in my courage and exhaling my fear. I know it won't be easy, but I'm ready.

Do you choose a word to represent your year? If yes, please share! I love hearing about others experiences with their words. :-)