Tag Archives: running

Watermelon Salad with Avocado, Feta, Mint and Pomegranate Dressing

2 Jun Watermelon Salad with Avocado, Feta, Mint and Pomegranate Dressing

Whew!  The blog has been silent for quite sometime, but I have a good excuse…

We packed up Baby Bird for her first international jaunt to Paris and Ireland (Yes, I realize that it sound weird to list a city and then a country as separate destinations, but I figured it was easer than listing every town we visited in Ireland!) where we all ate entirely too much bread and cheese for 15 days.  But we ran it off…

The Hubs on a morning Paris run

The Hubs on a morning Paris run

The Hubs completely dominating The Cliffs of Moher

The Hubs completely dominating The Cliffs of Moher

International travel even has a way of making ME look like a competent runner

A little run through The Burren- International travel even has a way of making ME look like a competent runner

So I guess we sort of had baguette immunity since we were running.  That’s a thing, right?

We’ve only been home a few days- we are currently struggling to get a toddler back on the correct time zone… YIKES!- and I’m trying to keep things simple, so when we got an invite to a friends house for dinner* I went with my very favorite, super simple summer combo of watermelon and feta for our addition to the fete.  Just to be fancy, I jazzed it up with avocado, mint, and a pomegranate simple syrup that were still all very easy but felt slightly elevated.

To be clear, this is the salad that will accompany me to all gatherings in the next few months.  So if you invite us over, don’t you add this to your menu and then expect me to arrive with a berry crostada embellished to look like the American flag.  You’ve been warned!

Okay, okay… if you ask really nicely, I’ll still show up with a patriotic dessert.

But you better have plenty of watermelon salad!

 

*If you invite people over for dinner after they’ve been out of town with a toddler for awhile, you are totally awesome.  Chances are anyone traveling with kids is exhausted and looking for any excuse to not have to cook a meal at home… and then clean it up!

Watermelon Salad with Avocado, Feta, Mint and Pomegranate Dressing

Watermelon Salad with Avocado, Feta, Mint, and Pomegranate Dressing

  • about 1 lb watermelon, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 avocados, cubed
  • 6 oz solid feta, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 2 sprigs of fresh mint
  • 1 cup unsweetened, pure pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 cup organic sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

In a small saucepan, bring pomegranate juice, sugar, and maple syrup to a simmer and reduce to form a thin simple syrup.  Set aside in a container to cool.

Layer watermelon, avocado, and feta in a large serving bowl.

Pick the mint leaves from the springs and chiffonade.  Sprinkle leaves across the top of the feta layer.

Serve with dressing on the side (the most attractive presentation) or toss with simple syrup dressing just before serving.

 

#BetterGoodThings- Marathon Lasagna Rolls

28 Apr #BetterGoodThings: Marathon Lasagna Rolls- a healthier and easier lasagna with bison and cottage cheese

#BetterGoodThings: Marathon Lasagna Rolls- a healthier and easier lasagna with bison and cottage cheese

 

Yikes!  The disorganization of my mind is spilling directly over onto the blog.

Guess what day it isn’t?

It isn’t the third Thursday of the month.  That’s the day that Better Good Things is supposed to grace the headlines on the blog, but this month that day rolled by long ago in what was a haze of Boston Marathon prep for me (and STAAR test madness for Evin).  Just to be clear- that didn’t mean that I didn’t create and share this recipe with my family in time for my deadline… it just meant I forget about y’all.

*hangs head in shame and looks up with endearingly sad puppy-dog eyes*

I am sorry.  I’m the blogging equivalent of your super flakey friend this month.

You know the friend who always makes really ambitious, elaborate plans with you to go on a fabulous girls’ trip in the not-too-distant future and then becomes vaguely busy the closer the date grows?  Yeah.  That one.  (Which reminds me- I think I might be slightly committed to trips to both the Amalfi Coast and Vegas that I need to start side stepping out of pretty soon… because I’m totally busy… with things.)

For April, Evin and I chose to “better up” lasagna- a beloved favorite in many a kitchen- which launched us into a great philosophical debate.  Are we “easying up” healthy things or “healthying up” easy things when we are engaged in our “bettering?”  And really, how do you define healthy?  And what is actually considered easy?

Too many questions.

Honestly, who knows!  I love that we went with Better Good Things in place of Healthier or Easier because it just means that we can make it whatever the heck we need it to be that month.  Whenever we want for that matter as we’ve so proved a good 10+ days late.

As luck would have it, this month better means both healthier and easier in my book.  I created lasagna rolls that make portioning easy (hooray!) and that cut back on the fat while upping the protein ante with cottage cheese in place of obscene amounts of ricotta and mozz as well as bison in the place of beef.  It’s pretty amazing, it packs well for lunch, and it can be frozen in the pre-bake stage for later use.

To make matters even better on my end, this became the only non-bland pre-race meal my husband could stand in the week leading up to Boston so we have dubbed them Marathon Lasagna Rolls.  They will definitely keep their place on our pre-race menu from here on out!

Looking for Evin’s lasagna take?  Standardized testing for elementary students really sucks, so she hasn’t gotten around to it because cheering her son through an unnecessarily stressful testing situation is way more important than getting creative with lasagna noodles.  Everyone say a prayer, light a candle, or rake your Zen garden for The Boy over at Food Good Laundry Bad as he braves the testing gauntlet!  When she’s got hers up I’ll update and share the link.

 

*UPDATED*  Evin rocked this month with Slow Cooker Lasagna which she claims is “not a recipe.”  Part recipe, part how-to, it’s 100% genius and definitely an idea that I’m glad to have in my arsenal for busy days!

 

#BetterGoodThings: Marathon Lasagna Rolls- a healthier and easier lasagna with bison and cottage cheese

Gimme a break- Rolled up pasta isn’t inherently gorgeous… but it is really yummy!

Marathon Lasagna Rolls

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tbs dried oregano
  • 1 tbs dried basil
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1 lb ground bison
  • 12-15 lasagna noodles
  • 10 oz ricotta
  • 2/3 cup small curd cottage cheese
  • 2/3 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 jar organic marinara
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Directions: Heat 1 tbs of oil over medium heat.  Saute the onion and cloves until soft and fragrant.  Add the bison to the pan.  Over medium/medium-high heat, break up bison into large pieces.  Add spices and cook through, breaking up into small pieces as you cook.  Season with additional salt and pepper as desired while browning meat.  Set aside.

Bring a pot of water to boil.  Add lasagna noodles, along with a dollop of olive oil, and boil for about 6 minutes.  Drain.

In a large bowl, combine ricotta, cottage cheese, shredded mozzarella, grated parmesan, and the ground bison mixture.

Grease a 9×13 baking dish with olive oil.

Working with one lasagna noodle at a time, lay out each noodle and spread with a generous 2 tbs of filling.  Roll up and place in baking dish.  Once baking dish is full, top lasagna rolls with sauce and cover with foil.

Bake at 400 for 30 min.

To freeze in individual portions: Follow the recipe directions through assembly but instead of preparing it in a 9×13 baking dish, spread them out on a cookie sheet to flash freeze them. Once they are mostly frozen (30 minutes to 1 hour), place them into freezer bags and freeze. When serving, place your preferred number of frozen lasagna rolls in a baking dish and top with sauce. Put foil over baking dish and bake at 350 for 60 minutes, or until heated through. The time will vary based on number of rolls.

Let’s Eat All the Carbs!- Cherry Chocolate Bock Bread with Cherry Cabernet Jam

15 Apr Cherry Chocolate Bock Bread with Cherry Cabernet Jam

Cherry Chocolate Bock Bread with Cherry Cabernet Jam

So… when I last left y’all (a short five days ago, none the less) we were on the nutrition plan of champions in this household bearing down on Boston Marathon and leaving nothing to chance- or lack of micronutrient consumption.  To hell with “if the furnace is hot enough, it will burn anything” we said.  We’re going to burn the best of the best in this house!

Until The Hubs got norovirus (which, apparently, is the stomach virus of champions) and created a bonded association between quinoa and nausea. Now the only thing that sound appealing to him is ultra-refined carbs.  Ugh!

I’ll admit that this is tough for me.  When he injured his achilles and we decided it made sense for him to healthfully and safely drop some extra race weight I invested myself into the task with gusto.  It meant extra market trips, extra late nights prepping meals and snacks, and extra adorable/neurotic texts about dining decisions.  It meant sometimes prepare separate meals for he and Baby Bird.  And it meant tossing out all our standard taper menus I’ve become familiar with to recreate the wheel.  When he steps on the scale and is on track for the race weight we’ve been targeting, I feel like it’s a win in my column.

So tossing it all out and saying ‘Totally, eat all the refined carbs you want!’ seems pretty cray at this point.  There are SEVEN. DAYS. TO. GO!

Would a cold pressed, green juice IV line be an unreasonable thing to invent?

Admittedly, eating refined carbs is far better than eating nothing- the only other alternative for my poor patient who turns pale at even a mention of kale right now- and so my kitchen has become an artisanal bakery with hyper-obsessive portion control.  That is… until I DNF out of a half marathon, down a quarter of a bottle of Cab, discover a cherry chocolate bock in the outdoor fridge and need a more sensible way to finish it off…

Then it’s “Forget it, y’all!  Let’s eat ALL THE CARBS!” time in the most awesome way possible.

Like… seriously awesome.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

No, wait…

When life gives you 3/4ths a bottle of Cabernet, a lonely bottle of chocolate cherry bock beer, and the thumbs up on ripping into a new bag of all-purpose flour- make boozy jam and bread!

Cherry Chocolate Bock beer is in its heyday during winter months, but a cherry wheat (or even cherry chocolate stout if you’re feeling bold) would work just as well.  Spread your warm bread with a simple, good-quality chevre, slather with jam and enjoy.  You might even momentarily forget about your DNF, your stomach virus, or the A race you have looming on the horizon.

Carb blinders are sometimes a good thing.

Cherry Chocolate Bock Bread with Cherry Cabernet Jam

 

Cherry Chocolate Bock Bread with Cabernet Jam

Bread:

  • 1 package Rapid Rise yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Cherry Chocolate Bock + 1/4 cup water, heated to 120 degrees F
  • 1 1/2 cups dried tart cherries, roughly chopped
  • olive oil
  • coarse sanding sugar

Jam:

  • 3 cups of Cabernet
  • 2 cups frozen cherries, thawed, drained and roughly chopped
  • 2 pouches liquid pectin
  • 4-6 cups of sugar

To make Jam: If you will be canning in a water bath, prepare jars. (This makes 2 16 oz jars + some additional for immediate use)

Add cherries and all but 1/2 cup Cabernet to a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat, slowly adding sugar cup by cu and stirring to dissolve (amount of sugar depends on your preference for sweetness).  Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes until cherries are softened and wine has begun to reduce slightly.

Add the liquid pectin and remaining half cup of wine and stir throughly to disperse pectin. Skim off any foam and continue to cook over medium heat until jam mixture will coat the back of a metal spoon of mixture spooned onto a chilled plate will firm up and gel on the surface.

Ladle hot jam mixture into prepared jars and waterbath can (15 minutes at sea level) or store in fridge for 3-4 weeks.

To make bread: In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, whisk together the flours, yeast, sugar, salt, and cherries.  Add the liquids and knead the bread until it forms an elastic ball.

Oil a large bowl with olive oil.  Form dough into a ball and place in the bowl.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise undisturbed for an hour until doubled in size.

Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

Gently deflate dough.  Reform into a ball and place on baking sheet to rise once again undisturbed until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Gently slash the top of the bread with a sharp knife, taking care not to deflate it.  Brush top of bread with olive oil and sprinkle with sanding sugar.  Bake bread for about 35 minutes until brown.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Beef and Quinoa Taco Bowl with The Mother of All Taco Seasoning

25 Mar The Mother of All Homemade Taco Seasoning

Beef and Quinoa Taco Bowl- Perfect for endurance athletes!

Here we are y’all… a month past Austin Marathon and I’m still avoiding writing about it.  I’ll get there, but there are so many other things going one and the fact that it doesn’t really count as a race because I basically strolled through the second half makes it feel pretty unnecessary to even recap.  Besides, I’m SO BEHIND on recipes right now it seems the recap will have to be squeezed in amidst far more interesting and yummy topics.

And, since I’ve currently got a backlog of recipes half written and ready to post, this is the perfect time to delay them further to write about what I’m making a this very moment in my kitchen.  Obviously, that makes perfect sense!

Boston Marathon is just a month away, so logically The Hubs is facing an achilles injury with less than four weeks before he has to line up in Hopkinton.  No bueno!  Luckily, we’ve got a little time and a lot of awesome resources so we aren’t concerned.   Who needs long road runs when you’ve got access to an AlterG and 3 hour aqua jogs (in a 25 meter pool none the less… The Hubs has deemed it the “actual insanity workout”)?  Dedication and hard work trump perfect circumstances every time, mostly because perfect circumstances don’t exist.

What does this have to do with food?  Major changes in training intensity this close to a race coupled with an injury mean we need to keep a careful eye on his weight and nutrition- even more than usual.  Every calorie has to count big time in terms of nutrient density.  Which means bye bye to refined carbs and the sugary treats that he loves to sneak!  I have to make sure he is satisfied and nourished enough that he doesn’t have the desire to snag a candy treat when I’m not around.

It also means making dinners that can be packed up as lunches for the next day because I’ve got my hands full at night ensuring I pack the right combination of snacks to keep him full… but not too full.

Last week, I brought a tray of my made-over mac and cheese to my friend Laura’s house for a lunch playdate, and she served me a quinoa side dish very similar to the one I feature here that I promptly mixed in with my serving of mac- and it was delicious.  I quickly realized that the concept of her quinoa side dish would be a versatile one that I could draw on for years to come.  As I made my menu plan for the coming week, the memory of that little quinoa side kept shouting at me in my brain “Top me with ground beef and serve me over salad!”

If you’re a distance runner or endurance athlete, you’re probably pretty familiar with skillet style meals- brown some meat, dump in beans and tomatoes, and serve over rice.  While easy, I’m not a huge fan because skillet meals lack texture or color interest- they are meals of necessity and not enjoyment.  This beef and quinoa taco bowl is just as easy, but far more flavorful and offers levels of interest for your eyes and your palate.

I make my own taco seasoning, and you should too.  Mine is spicier and smokier than the one my friend Laura makes and serves mixed straight into the quinoa , but that’s the beauty of making your own spice mixes- you can make them perfectly to your liking.  I served the beef and quinoa over mixed baby herb greens, but you can just as easily use it to stuff an tomato, a pepper, or an avocado… or wrap it up in a spelt tortilla.  Top it according to your nutritional needs and taste preferences- plain kefir (instead of sour cream), queso fresco, or diced avocado.

The Mother of All Homemade Taco Seasoning

Homemade Taco Seasoning

  • 2 tbs chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp organic sugar
  • 1 tsp Chihuahua de Mexico wood smoked salt
  • 1/2 tsp smoked tomato powder

Directions: Mix all spices in bowl to combine.  Store in an airtight container.

Beef and Quinoa Taco Bowl- Perfect for endurance athletes!

Beef and Quinoa Taco Bowl

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water or veggie broth
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbs+ of homemade taco seasoning
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 a small red onion, finely diced
  • 1 lb grassfed, lean ground beef
  • grapeseed oil
  • serving options: plain kefir, queso fresco, mixed baby greens, avocado

Directions: Rinse quinoa well and drain thoroughly.  Bring veggie broth or water to a boil in a small saucepan.  Add quinoa and I smashed garlic clove to the broth.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes until most of liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat, uncover and fluff with a fork.

Thinly slice remaining garlic clove. Saute sliced garlic in a dollop of grapeseed oil for 2 minutes until fragrant but not browned.  Over medium/medium-high heat, add ground beef  and break up into large pieces.  Add taco seasoning (add seasoning to taste, I like to start with 2 tbs) and cook through, breaking up into small pieces as you cook.  If desired, season with additional salt while browning meat.

Line a colander with paper towels and pour in ground beef to drain off/ absorb any unnecessary fat.

In a large bowl, toss together quinoa, corn, onion, tomatoes, and cilantro.  Squeeze lime juice into quinoa mixture and toss to mix thoroughly.

Serve quinoa on a bed of greens, topped with beef and additional toppings of your choice.

 

Loriana’s Inspiration Miles… And A Call For A Marrow Match!

1 Feb I'll Be Your Strong- Loriana's WIn

My friend Loriana Hernandez began an aggressive dual chemotherapy protocol yesterday that will last 72 solid hours.  Being the warrior that she is, she immediately set a goal to walk the halls of her floor at John Hopkins 26 times each day.  0.04 miles in each lap.  26 laps in a mile.  I know that mile is 100 times more difficult than any distance race I’ve ever run- without question.

Inspiration miles... And A Call For Marrow Donor!

Think running a marathon is tough?  Walking a mile through the hospital ward while toting the machine that is obliterating your immune system is more extreme than any ultra marathon on my bucket list.  Yet Loriana remains dedicated to seeing this goal through, and in the past two days she has fallen only 6 combined laps behind her mile a day goal.

Just .25 miles short.

I think we can make up the deficit for her!

On my running plan this weekend is just six little miles, but I told Loriana that each mile would be filled with positive and intentional thoughts for her victory:

  • Mile One is for HOPE
  • Mile Two is for STRENGTH
  • Mile Three is for RESILIENCE
  • Mile Four is for PATIENCE
  • Mile Five is for TENACITY
  • Mile Six is for ENDURANCE
  • + another .25 miles for good measure

As you strike out on you weekend long run, keep Loriana in mind.  Donate a mile (or six) of your mental miles during your run to intentional throughs for her victory and healing.  Run an extra quarter mile to help her close the goal in her gap.  Or heck, log a PR with her in your heart…. and then take a moment to let her know via social media (see below) that we’ve got her covered.

We have the great privilege of being the running legs for a true warrior right now; don’t take a footfall of your run for granted!

How can you help Loriana’s battle?

I’ll Be Your Strong

29 Jan I'll Be Your Strong- Loriana's WIn

There is a story I’ve never told, and honestly I never intended to tell it.  It was just going to be one of those little things I kept inside to call upon in the moments I needed it.  It’s a story of struggle and strength.  It’s a story that simultaneously breaks me down and builds me up.  But it’s a story that I was satisfied to keep inside until this weekend.

But now it needs to be told.

I ran my first marathon in October of 2012- Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco.  When I registered, I only had one half under my belt at which I had scored a pretty severe IT band injury, but I told myself I could do it.  I could do anything because I’d made it through the bumps and challenges of conception, pregnancy, and childbirth and beyond as a mother.  26.2 miles of hilly terrain would be a worthy celebration of all the peaks and valleys I had triumphed through on the road to motherhood.

As I trained, I steeled myself with those thoughts.  I was powerful, determined and equipped with the greatness of unconditional love for a tiny little being.

That was enough.  That got me through.

I could do this.

When The Hubs and I made it San Francisco for the race, he had to go into the office to do some work so I ventured over to the expo myself.  I was immediately overwhelmed.  I was there alone… doing this big thing…  all for me?  Up until that moment, every step I had run was about me- which was fine- but it just didn’t seem like enough anymore.  And though I was venturing into my first marathon with my Team Victorious sisters, that suddenly didn’t seem like enough either.  It wasn’t a feeling I could understand or explain- but later I would understand it as my inspiration paradigm shift.  An understanding that my moments within my miles were far bigger than myself and my little world.

On race morning I dressed methodically, carefully adjusting each item.  When I reached my bib I paused, overwhelmed.  Without much thought or understanding of what I was doing I took  pen out of my bag and scrawled one word on the back before pinning it on my shirt.

One word.

A name.

Carter.

Carter was the husband of a mama acquaintance of mine.  We weren’t exceptionally close, but our children were in the same play co-op and she and I had run together several times with a mutual friend.  Over these runs, I learned a lot about her, her family, and her astounding love for her husband.  We had connected through facebook after that and in the two months leading up to my race I gained miles of hope- and shed buckets of tears- over the raw beauty in her status update about Carter’s battle with stage IV metastatic sarcoma.

For a moment I considered snapping a picture of the back of my bib to send to my friend one day but I quickly shook off the thought feeling simultaneously self conscious and confused- I hadn’t really even fully considered why I had so unconsciously written Carter’s name inside my bib.  After all, I had never even met the man.

I didn’t give it much thought for most of the morning.

At mile 21 I discovered why it was there.

The half marathon runners had peeled off 7 miles before and the course was quite lonely, greatly compounded by the solitary trek around Lake Merced with no spectator encouragement.  The air was heavy with chilly fog, my legs ached, and I had already exhausted all of my “I’m a mom and I’ve done things much harder than this” pick-me-ups because at 21 miles into my phenomenally hilly first marathon I hadn’t done anything harder than that.  And when you’re by yourself and in pain by a drab lake in dense fog you realize really quickly that you aren’t enjoying yourself anymore and you just might start to doubt that you even had the strength to complete such a silly task.

And that’s when I thought of Carter.  Carter was fighting a battle that was far more physically strenuous on a daily basis.  And regardless of his prognosis, he was winning.  He was winning because he kept fighting.  He was winning because his fight gave those he loved hope.  He was winning because that hope inspired the most transparent love and devotion in his family.  He was winning because that transparent love allowed his wife to share her soul with the world in a way that sent this inspired spirit into the world like a floodlight.

It was certainly bright enough to cut through the fog on a desolate stretch of road beside the Pacific Ocean.

And that got me around Lake Merced back to the Great Highway where The Hubs- glowing with encouragement and his own transparent love- waited to help pace me to the finish.

As I packed to fly back to Austin after the race, I kept my number with the intention of sending it to my friend after sharing how her family so inspired me from afar.

I never really got the chance.

Carter passed away on November 10, 2012.

Then it seemed strange to send such an insignificant thing to her so the bib found a place on my desk and it became my own private story of inner strength derived from the most graceful pain I’d ever witnessed from afar.

How do you tell someone “I didn’t know your husband but your authentic, beautiful expression of his strength has inspired me to keep moving when things are difficult”?

Maybe you say it just like that.

Or maybe you just keep it to yourself until someone needs you to help be their strong.

I'll Be Your Strong- Loriana's WIn

This weekend, I was visiting my parents when Baby Bird spiked a high fever that we couldn’t control.   As a child with a history of febrile seizure, it meant a trip to Children’s Medical Center and- as is always the way in motherhood- my phone was near the end of its battery life and I had no car charger.  As we checked in at the hospital and I went to switch off my phone, the screen opened up to display my facebook feed topped by a post from my friend Loriana Hernandez.

Loriana and I became friends when I brought Bump Club and Beyond to Austin in 2011.  She did a segment for the news called “Get Fit for Free” in which she connected the community with complimentary opportunities to stay fit and, since she was pregnant at the time, she did a segment about BCB’s monthly Beautiful Bellies and Beyond the Belly fitness classes at lululemon.  As likeminded, healthy mamas we hit it off and became friends.  I even invited her over to my house so she could see me do a load of cloth diapers and learn the in’s and out’s- that’s committed green mama bonding!

I'll Be Your Strong- Loriana's WIn

Loriana, Jamie Grayson, and me at a Bump Club Austin event

Loriana recently left her position as a news anchor for Austin’s Fox News station to finally join her husband on the east coast, and I knew she was thrilled to soon get on a plane to permanently have her family in one place so I grazed her post quickly expecting a little pick-me-up of happiness as I situated Baby Bird for what could be a long night at Children’s.

The news was very much the opposite.  From a blood test for an embryo transfer surgery, Loriana received the news that she has acute leukemia.  And she had to start treatment immediately.

Instead of getting on a plane with her son to join her husband in her new home, she now found herself scrambling to book a solo flight to check into Johns Hopkins in 48 hours time.

The news sat like a rock in my stomach.

Shit.

I texted Loriana to see what I could do.  I may have limited funds, but there is no limit to my positive intentions.  And, as I’m continually discovering, there aren’t many limits on the miles in my legs so I asked if I could run my races during her treatment in her honor.

OMG Yes.  Please help me.

I was choking back huge sobs from a 5 word text.

While Loriana is in chemo, I’m going to wake up everyday knowing that I’m keeping myself moving in honor of an active woman who is currently out of commission.  I’ll gladly be her legs.  I’ll run with joy for her.

I’ll harness all of the Carter strong I’ve saved in my heart and share it with her.  I know she will replace it tenfold with her own brand of tenacity that will help to fuel me for my next thousand miles and beyond.

Regardless of the work I might put in in her name, I know that she is fighting a battle that is far more physically strenuous on a daily basis.  And she is going to win.

Loriana, I’ll be your strong.  Just like everyone else who loves you and is championing your cause.  Because your strength and humanity are already giving us more than we could ever repay in any other way.

Friends, cancer is expensive.  Beyond treatment itself, Loriana is fighting for her life in a city with no friends or loved ones and her family will incur considerable expenses as her husband joins her as her support.  If you are able, please consider donating to help fund her treatment.  If you are unable to donate, please share Loriana’s story through your blog or social media.  If you’re a runner, please consider running a race in her honor.

Race Recap: Houston Half Marathon 2014

24 Jan Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

Last May I encouraged two of my closest friends to throw their names in with mine for the Houston lottery.  At the time, I imagined myself toodling along the course with my friends for an easy run in between target races.  Fast forward to race day- “easy” pace, yes… toodling, not so much.

Houston isn’t foreign to me as a former resident (it’s where The Hubs and I met).  The course topography wasn’t foreign to me because my urban nomad of a husband- then boyfriend- had uprooted me every six months to move somewhere newer and more interesting within a 5 mile radius in the city (so, as you can imagine, the course just became a guided running tour of “places Jenn used to live” for my running partners).  What was foreign to me was actually running the terrain since when I lived there I avoided running at all costs because I thought it was horrible… and painful… and boring… and crazy.

So at 4 am on Sunday morning, The Hubs and I got up to do something that I had previously deemed horrible, painful, boring, and crazy ( and have since classified as sanity saving, painful, euphoric, and crazy)- we were going to run around it while most of the people we still knew who were living there were sound asleep or nursing killer hangovers after celebrating at a friend’s going away party.  Guess who didn’t make it to that party… Any guesses? Yes, the couple with the long flowing locks and adorable little toddler who had a race to run.  That’s me and The Hubs for the sake of clarification.

By 5 am we were joined by my brother in law Derek (running his first half marathon), Rachel (looking for a PR at this race), Casey (running her first half marathon and who I have already established is no freaking joke), and Casey’s husband Jasen (a former steeplechaser who is also, as you might expect, no freaking joke) ready to make the trek from where we were all staying in the ‘burbs into the city.  If you were doing mental math, you may have noticed there were six of us.   So we logically took one car.  What else would six full grown adults do?

Jasen, Casey, Rachel and I folded ourselves into the back seat before I had a chance to actually put my shoes on which quickly became problematic for me because it was far too packed in the back for me to put them on en route but wearing no shoes in the car dramatically interfered with my habit of checking my shoelace tension from the third to the last eyelet obsessively every 10 minutes only to untie them every third time to try to fix a nonexistent wrinkle in my sock having to reboot to entire process and start over from the laces once again.

I have a few rituals I like to adhere to- the shoelace thing, peeing at least three times before a run, and wearing an unnecessary number of “backup hairbands” around my wrist.  It’s a process of self soothing.  Calming nerves.  Obviously I know nothing bad is going to happen if I don’t do those things.  Yet I didn’t check my shoelaces multiple times and The Hubs ended up with an untied shoelace less than two miles into his run so obviously the universe was punishing me.  Not really.  But it’s not a totally crazy thought…

Houston Half Marathon- Go Running, Mama!

Meet Team Clown Car- the focus is just as blurry as my mind felt at the time.

When we made it into Houston- and the four of us unfolded ourselves from the origami chain of slightly antsy arms and legs we had inevitably created in the backseat- I got a moment to focus on my shoes.  Unfortunately, in the process of testing the tensile strength of my laces, I forgot to put an assortment of items I was carrying in the trunk so later I would have to deal with the fact that I was holding onto ear warmers (it was not cold) and enough chews to fuel the entirety of B corral.

While I’m making fun of my unnecessary pre-run habits, it’s worth mentioning the major score of hanging out in the lobby of the Westin pre race since we had arrived downtown so early.  I can’t even begin to describe how much better this was than standing in a windy line for a porta potty.  Three times.  It also provided us all a place to sit and decompress momentarily before heading to our corrals and getting a nervous energy contact high. Thanks, Westin!

Houston Half Marathon- Go Running, Mama!

Relaxing in the lobby of The Westin prerace

This would also be the perfect opportunity to own up to the fact that I broke another cardinal rule- “Nothing New on Race Day”- by wearing and entirely new outfit that I had picked out at lululemon with Casey the day before the race.  I’m continually on the hunt for the perfect sports bra and, although I’ve found several almost perfect options, I haven’t married myself off to anything as of yet.  Lulu recently introduced the Bitty Bracer which is an awesomely fitted and supportive sports bra for those of us who are… ahem… modestly endowed.  I was pretty obsessed with the Ta Ta Tamer when my DD nursing boomies kept me in the appropriate size, but once I wasn’t exclusively breastfeeding anymore I shrunk out of the size range of my fave sports bra.  I had a Christmas gift card to burn and was itching to give the Bitty Bracer a try (Thanks, Bro.  You unwillingly bought me a bra for Christmas.  Sorry!) so I decided to go ahead and break the race day apparel rule and wear it to run. After all, what’s one more broken rule for a girl who forgot to train for a race?!

Around 6:35 we all parted ways for our corrals.  The Hubs was in A, Jasen and I were assigned B, Casey and Rachel were in C, and Derek was in D.  I corralled myself back with Casey and Rachel and the three of us began a game of “beef spotting” to pass the minutes until gun time.  The Texas Beef Council has a team of ambassador runners that all wear shirts that say “Fueled by Beef” which always cracks me up.  Maybe it’s the former raw vegan in me, but I just end up picturing someone blending up a steak smoothie post race every time I see that shirt.  It’s funny- omnivore or not- and it’s a slogan that sticks with you so that marketing team has earned its gold star.  It’s also one of those things that can help break you out of long run delirium- there were several times when one of us was mentally withdrawing and hearing your friend shout “Over there… Beef!” was a welcome distraction.  Beef spotting.  It’s a thing.

With Rachel wanting to better her 2:24:55 half time, Casey claiming to only care about running the whole time and staying under 2:30, and the fact that my training has been laughable the plan was to run with the 4:45 marathon pace group until the turn off at mile 8 so I could take it easy without having to think much until I took over pacing duties for the group.  No such luck.  We discovered that the 4:45 pace group were run/walkers which meant my dreams of a mindless early 8 miles were shattered and I’d actually have to think the whole time because staying consistent requires thinking for me.  Because we don’t walk. And because I’m consistently inconsistent when running.  Realllly inconsistent.  Like, this is my most consistent run in my history as a runner until Houston…

Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

Yay! Look at the pretty curvy green line! Wait… what? It’s supposed to be a straight line? Crap.

Houston Marathon did a great job with the corral organization, and the three of us passed over the starting line only 13 minutes after gun time which seems pretty quick for a large race.  Even though the first four miles aren’t very scenic or interesting, the streets were nice and wide and the pavement was even at that point which was a good way to start so I only had to focus on being consistent.

Looking back at our 5k, 10k, etc splits after the fact makes it seem like I did a pretty good job of pacing this one… like we almost pulled off negative splits until the 20k mark.  Seems pretty consistent:

Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

Pretty good attempt, huh?

Knowing Rachel’s goal, I wanted us to start super easy and keep it under 10:55 per mile to get us in at 2:23 or better.  Looks like I did a great job, right?  But this is what it really looked like mile by mile:

Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

Yep… that’s more like it. It looks far less consistent.

But wait… it get’s worse.  Check out our first mile broken down by half mile:

Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

Here is the first mile as it played out in my brain: ‘Why are we running this pace…Quick… Slow the sprinter down… Wait… Now why are we going so slowly!?’  Clearly the kind of thoughts you want the person pacing to be thinking instead of being in some overrated Zen-like state in which your feet simply propel you forward at the correct speed.

So I think we have established that the fact that Rachel refers to me as her “pacer” is completely outlandish.  Moral support… just call me moral support.  It wasn’t a perfect even run, but it was a fabulous improvement for me which was my personal goal- to run more consistently.  And look y’all, I’ve got a new “most consistent” race…

Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

Yay! Only teeny squiggles.  (See the aforementioned dip in our pace early on)

Run wise, this was a pretty good race.  The miles were well marked and , although they were manned by volunteers shouting out “current” paces based on the gun and corral start times which is totally useless and distracting if you don’t start on the gun or at the front of your corral, I appreciated that the flags and clocks were so easily visible.  The water stops were also well manned by a surplus of friendly and supportive volunteers and there were lots of spectators- all in all a great showing for the friendly people of Houston.

Being a remarkably “average” runner who spends the bulk of her time amongst the cattle drive that is the median speed distance runner on race day, I’m pretty used to having to navigate around others with poor running etiquette.  Tutu runners jogging arm in arm who corralled themselves ahead of where they should have been, mid-race mid-course instagramers and tweeters, walkers on the left, and the shoelace tiers who dead stop in the middle of the course with NO VERBAL WARNING.  Houston?  You had no problems!  Congratulations for hosting a race that attracts people who are more interested in running than marathoning through a town dressed as a condom or some such nonsense while live tweeting photos of themselves with spectators at every mile marker.

The three of us ran a relatively quiet race aside from the beef spotting, momentary outbursts of song, and my half mile check in’s with Casey.  “How we doing Casey?  You okay?”  When she said nothing, I knew she was fine; when she said she had a side stitch or the like, I knew she was surviving; and when she answered with “good…good…” I figured she was hating me for convincing her to do this.  I know her code.  I mostly got silence and a nod, so I knew things were going really well.  Then I got quite a few good’s in a row so I started to get a little concerned.  And that’s when the hip flexor talk started… a very dangerous game.

If you’ve given birth without a c-section, your hip flexors are a constant problem.  Even sleeping with your hips stacked incorrectly can lead to a miserable day, so when three moms start checking in with their hip flexors at the midpoint of a half marathon things can get dicey.

Luckily, we were due for a pick me up at mile 9!

Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

Yes, sir. Your Mommy is insanely fast!

At just the right time we heard a happy little voice… “Go Mommy!  Go Miss Jenn!”  Casey’s son and parents were there to cheer her to through the end of her first distance race- which for me is always tear inducing.  There is nothing that can motivate me the way that my child can and knowing the impact her love has on my well being makes me feel warm and fuzzy anytime I see a kiddo cheering on a parent at a race.  I can still remember vividly how sad I was on the marathon leg of last year’s Goofy each time I passed a point where I just might have seen my little one but she wasn’t there.  Main Street Magic Kingdom?  No.  Polynesian Resort? No.  And I remember even more clearly how overwhelmed with happiness I was when I rounded the bend into Epcot World Showcase at mile 25 and I heard an unexpected, exuberant “Mama… How is your run!?!”  So when we passed Casey’s son I may or may not have shed a tear… and picked up the pace just a bit.

By mile 10 our group seemed steady once again so  I made the mistake of mentally checking in with myself to see how I was holding up with my lack of of training and I realized that my IT bands had quickly trumped my hip flexor pain.  It’s something I should have expected because for me under training = immediate IT band problems.  I decided to hyper obsess about our pace to take my mind off of it, but I needed an outside push.

As we reentered downtown at mile 12, Rachel stared inquiring about where we were in terms of her goal time.  I reported that we had been running slightly slower than our actual pace because I knew what would happen and that it would give me the push I was looking for that everyone else could totally handle- Rachel instinctively picked up our pace with her PR in question.

And just like that I wasn’t leading anymore, thankful to pass off motivation duties to a friend.  When my watch rolled over to 12.5 miles, I let everyone know and all of a sudden we were pulling 8:38 per mile.  Then, for some stupid reason, I let them know when we were 2/10ths of a mile out (as though it is some important milestone) and Casey took off.

Awesome.

The choice at this point was chase the fastest white American female sprinter in history for .2 miles or miss the opportunity to cross the finish with my two dearest friends.  She knew which one I would choose, because she wouldn’t have picked it up otherwise.  We worked our way through an insanely narrow finisher’s chute, weaving our way to the finish through a difficult to navigate maze of slowing runners.  Casey was all smiles and Rachel looked happy but still hadn’t realized her finish time.  2:19:12.

We made our way into the reunion area to find mine and Casey’s husbands who had finished long before us (1:23:27 and 1:28:50 respectively) and to wait for Derek to cross the finish as well.  Everyone felt good.  No injuries.  And my new sports bra was still feeling amazing.  You can’t ask for much more than that!

Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

And I’ve received a gentle reminder of why we continually train in the form of a slightly achey IT Band.

Excuses are uncomfortable.  Continual effort feels so much better in the end.

Hooray for the return of race season!

Aramoco Houston Half Marathon

Race/Course Highlights:

  • The corrals are organized and efficient.
  • Water stops were well staffed with friendly volunteers.
  • Great race etiquette from the majority of runners.
  • Shady course.
  • Finishing beside Discovery Green is a lovely ending.
  • Well organized post race and reunion area.
  • Well known race with well know elites- a great dose of inspiration!

Race/Course Challenges:

  • Several water stops at course narrows leading to excessive bottlenecks.
  • The pavement is harder here than elsewhere.  (All six of us felt this way- there is no way we are all crazy.)  Plan your footwear accordingly.
  • Volunteers at most mile markers were shouting out “pace times” in an attempt to be helpful… but those paces only hold true for those who started with the gun.  While this isn’t a problem for people with a pace group or using a watch, it could be very misleading and discouraging for novice runners.
  • Quite a few stretches of course with uneven pavement and potholes.
  • The finish line chute is WAY to narrow for runners who come in at the median finish time- it felt a little unsafe trying to maneuver around those who had slowed down.

Following the Leader

17 Jan

Following the Leader- My first run back after a break; Go Running, Mama!

Sunday I’ll run my first race for the year- 13.1 miles through the flat streets of Houston.  In my short time as a runner, this is the longest I’ve gone without running an organized race.  It’s also the least I’ve ever trained for a race.  It’s incredibly disappointing.

It’s disappointing because I’ve basically nullified all of my progress from last year.  It’s even more disappointing because I know that, despite all the challenges, I could have just gotten up one day and said “screw it, I’m doing this for me again.  Now.” But I didn’t.  It’s most disappointing because I encouraged two of my good friends- Rachel and Casey- to run this one with me, confidently assuring them that I would get them through the entire race.

When we put our names in the lottery for Houston in May, I was on a major training binge and doing fabulously.  They both expressed concern that they would hold me back on such a flat, fast course.  Over and over I heard “just run ahead if you need to” and over and over I assured my friends that I would run with them and encourage them the entire way.  That I would sing songs or tell jokes.  That I would keep a slower pace if needed.  That I would pee my pants instead of stopping at a porta potty so that we didn’t run a step apart.

Each time they said it, I know they knew it was pointless.  I would never take off on my own.  I wanted to be there for Rachel’s inevitable PR and the first time Casey crossed the finish line of a half.  But they would say it anyways.  And I knew that they meant it just as much as they knew I would never do it.

Here we are two days before the race and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that they are both now better trained for this race than me.

I’m pretty sure I’ll be the one holding everybody back.

And that feeling sucks.

Rachel has drastically improved as a runner and ran her second half in December pacing a friend at a much slower pace.  I know she would like to put her training to good use at this race.

Casey, despite her insistence that she is slow and undertrained, paced the end of my PR half last year like it was no biggie after running a 5k… and is “undertrained” enough that she ran 10 miles last weekend (which I’m pretty sure is a reverse taper)… and, oh yeah, holds arguably the fastest 100 meter time for a white American female ever (thank you, internets).  So no big deal at all there.

So on Sunday I’ll tell them to just run ahead of me if they need to.

And I’ll mean it too.  But I already know that those words will be wasted words.

They aren’t going to leave me.

They are going to run with me and encourage me the entire way.

They are going to sing songs or tell jokes.

They are going to run a slower pace for me.

And they’ll probably pee their pants with me just so we don’t have to stop running.

But they wont leave me.  No matter how many times I say it.

All three of us are teachers, moms, and runners- it’s a trifecta of humanity that breeds a Soldier’s Creed mentality.  No one is getting left behind.

Until the final stretch that is.

Because Casey is going to smoke us on that last 100 meters.

I’m looking forward to it.

Breakfast on the Run: Baked Egg Cups To Go

15 Jan

The The Hub’s new Team Rogue schedule is a bit of a game changer in our household (not just because they’ve lead him to finally accepting that he has insanely loud feet).  He’s now out the door for the day pre-workout instead of our old routine in which he ran the neighborhood/area, came home to eat breakfast and get ready for work, and then left for the day.  Because it was routine, I found this slightly easier in my mind because the dirty laundry made it in the bathroom immediately and I could worry with his morning nutrition on the spot.  In reality, I’m realizing that it made me less strategic- and also meant The Hubs often made his own eggs while balancing a business call if and when I managed a morning run for myself.  We’re multi-taskers ’round here, y’all!

I’m realizing that pre-prepped breakfast to go is a thing of beauty.  It forces me to be strategic and also means I don’t feel like a lazy bum on the mornings that I sleep in a bit later than I meant… because I was up later than intended… because I took extra time to stop and smell the roses with the little one during the day… (You see the cycle right?)

Last week I created Mango Recovery Muffins for The Hubs to tote along for breakfast and this week I’ve added baked egg cups into the mix.  They are easy enough that you could bake them the morning of if you prefer, but I’m streamlining our morning shenanigans (read as: I’m not waking up at 4:15 am for someone’s track practice until it’s because I have to get up to drive Baby Bird to the track) so I’m baking them the night before and packaging them up neatly for the next morning.

Breakfast on the Run: Bake Egg Cups, fruit skewers, Mango Macadamia Recovery Muffins, and Raspberry Refrigerator Jam from Go Running, Mama!

As you can see- via the beauty that is my late night Instagram snapshot- The Hubs left this morning with two baked egg cups, fruit skewers, a Mango Macadamia Recovery Muffin, and a generous scoop of raspberry chia refrigerator jam.  The kiwi blueberry skewers made it easy for him to eat his fruit quickly without having to use utensils or picking up each piece with his fingers.  A little box of balanced, satisfying, premade nutrition designed for him to consume quickly in the transition from workout to work.

Now that is a productive start to the day!

Baked Egg Cups To Go

Ingredients

  • 2-4 jumbo eggs
  • i slice of thick cut bacon; cooked, fattiest part removed, and diced
  • truffle salt
  • butcher’s cut pepper
  • olive oil

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

“Grease” silicone muffin cups with olive oil.  Place muffin cups on a baking pan or sheet.

Crack an egg into each muffin cup.  Sprinkle each egg with diced bacon, truffle salt, and pepper.

Place baking sheet and muffin cups in oven and bake for 16-19 minutes, rotating pan each 6 minutes.  Remove when eggs are white and yolks still have a slight wobble.

2013: The Rundown

5 Jan

Even though I didn’t have this platform at the beginning of 2013 to share my goals, I thought it would be fun to look back at the year to see the pluses and deltas (the former inner city educator in me still rules my assessment technique vocabulary).  Reflection is a handy tool when setting yourself up for success in the future.

Resolutions

Running/Fitness

  • 2 Hour Half–  I was thrilled to complete a sub-2 hour marathon in March (at Zooma Texas which gave out PR medals last year… totally sweet perk!), which meant I quickly reloaded this goal to a 4 hour marathon.  Leah (my coach) and I set my training sights on a 4 hour finish at the BCS Marathon in December… which didn’t happen.  The 4 hour marathon goal will show up once again in 2014.

2013: The Rundown- Go Running, Mama!

  • 25 Miles a Week– I was hoping to put in enough mileage over the year to average at least 25 miles for the year.  My actualization? 623.71 miles for the year which averaged out to 11.9 miles a week.  Weak.  464 of those miles were January-May.

2013: The Rundown- Go Running, Mama!

  • Take Class–  In 2013, I wanted to commit more to taking dance classes instead of just teaching.  I did a great job during the summer when my training was stalled, but I didn’t come close to the diligence I was hoping for… probably because I didn’t really establish a measurable goal.

2013: The Rundown- Go Running, Mama!

Personal

  • Personal Blog– I enjoy sharing my thoughts with the interwebs, but before when I was blogging for other people’s sites I really only got to share on a limited scope.  I wanted a platform to simply do my own thing on whatever topics and whatever pace seemed natural.  After I had surgery in June, I found the time to start this blog.  Hooray!

2013: The Rundown- Go Running, Mama!

  • Artisan Bread Baking– I wanted to greatly improve my artisan bread baking skills and push myself to try a new type of bread baking each month.  I had visions of bigas, starters, and soakers. Empty visions.  In reality, I greatly improved my bread baking prowess on my go to bread recipe and did a great job at adapting that recipe to high altitude baking, but I didn’t really push myself out of my comfort zone.

2013: The Rundown- Go Running, Mama!

  • Learn Basic French– Knowing that Baby Bird will start French school Fall of 2014 made me keen to start learning basic French in 2013.  We started working with a French tutor weekly in August and my comprehension has greatly improved, but I frequently defer to The Hubs to speak for me… even in a lesson.  I need to get braver.  I’m a big girl.

2013: The Rundown- Go Running, Mama!

Parenting

  • French Vocabulary– So that Baby Bird doesn’t feel overwhelmed by the dual changes of starting school and learning a new language in Fall of 2014, I wanted to help her to learn French in 2013.  She loves her French tutor, sings French nursery songs, and surprises us frequently by incorporating terms into her daily speech so this one feels like a victory!

2013: The Rundown- Go Running, Mama!

  • Number Sense– When I was a teacher, I was shocked by the number of students I would see in middle school who didn’t have a basic understanding of what numbers represented.  It was my goal for 2013 to help Baby Bird develop a basic understanding of numbers and number concepts through play and manipulatives.  I feel that she has an appropriate understanding of numbers for someone with her cognitive development level which she has demonstrated through her basic usage and actions.  Awesome!

2013: The Rundown- Go Running, Mama!

  • Social Skills– More easily put, 2013 was the year of establishing “Don’t be an a-hole” social basics and empathy training.  Obviously, I’m not using the term “a-hole” with my toddler but when we boil it down, that’s what this goal represents.  We worked on empathy, affirmations, and managing and respecting big emotions.  In the end, I have a toddler who can identify and acknowledge many of her emotions, verbalize them, and let me know when she needs a quite time or to have a conversation… most of the time.  And some of the time she still melts down.  Because she is two.  All in all, she is better emotionally equipped for life than I was at 25.  Win.

2013: The Rundown- Go Running, Mama!

Race Recap

The first quarter of 2013 was packed with races.  We kicked things off with a bang at the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend at which my husband ran the half marathon as an easy training run (1:25:42) and I ran The Goofy Challenge- a back to back half (2:33:01) and full marathon (5:23:57).  They certainly weren’t my fastest finish times, but the name of the game was completing each day’s race with enough remaining energy to enjoy the rest of the at the parks with Baby Bird.

Go Running Mama- WDW Marathon 2013

If you’ve never run a Disney race, I highly recommend it.  Disney puts just as much attention to detail into their race courses as they into everything else- fabulous scenery in and out of the parks, character stops (not my thing when I’m running, but a fun break for many), ample aid and restroom stations, great entertainment and music, fantastic crowd support, and tons of little magical surprises.  Once your running, it’s easy to ignore the fact that you had to get up at 2:30 am to ride the monorail to EPCOT to make your corral call time of 5 am or some such nonsense.

The Goofy was my first back to back race and marked my highest mileage week ever.  And it was HOT for a January race- thankfully I’ve trained through an Austin summer.  I was a little tired and a LOT nervous on marathon day, especially since I realized that the only way I would be able to run comfortably would be in my sports bra since I’d packed running gear for a colder temperature.  That was a big move for a woman who had a baby less than two years prior and a major “shirtless” victory for a lady with some lingering post-partum body image issues.

Additionally, I was corralled back further than I should have been and I didn’t want to wait in the corrections line at the expo because we might have missed our dinner reservations with Mickey so I decided to simply run with the corral I was assigned.  This turned out to be a blessing in disguise- since my assigned corral’s start was so delayed I was able to see The Hubs in his final miles as I was within my first five, and two days of having to run around slower people who started ahead of me provided enough of a push to buckle down in my training to start running the paces I was capable of (at least for a good six months).  All in all it was a fabulous experience that I will definitely repeat (next time with a better corral), even if I spent a good portion of down time chilling in Baby Bird’s stroller following the marathon.

WDW Marathon- Go Running, Mama!

One month later, I ran the Austin Half Marathon (2:24:59) pacing my dear friend Rachel through her first race ever (That’s EVER y’all… no 5k or middle school track meet to speak of in her past!).  Her goal was to finish in 2:30 or better, so 2:24 was an awesome result.  I hadn’t had much time since WDW to make any real progress which was fine since that race was about Rachel and not me.  Even better than sharing a personal victory with one of my closest friends was the fact that The Hubs finished the marathon in 3:00:07, securing his BQ for 2014.

Go Running, Mama!- My BRF's Runiversary

Once Austin was over, my amazing coach Leah helped me buckle down and make some serious progress.  My goal was to run a sub 2 hour marathon the next month.  A PR by 23 minutes is totally reasonable, right?  When I joined my girlfriends for Zooma Half Marathon (1:58:34) in March is was ready to make the most of any improvement that could be made from a month of hard work.  My mama friends and I stayed at the Hyatt Lost Pines the night before the race and had a wonderful, relaxing girls’ night out before race morning.  With the support of my good friend Casey who met me on the golf course and paced my last few miles after her 5k, I managed a sub 2 hour finish followed a lot of happy tear and hugs with Casey and a fabulous brunch with the ladies.

Go Running Mama- Run Gorgeous

After my Zooma success, I buckled down ready to try my hand at some night trail races during the summer to vary my training before my fall race schedule, but that didn’t really end up working out as planned.

Bumps in the Road

Once I’d really built up some great training momentum in June, I had a brush with melanoma and had to have surgery.  Total bummer!  My incision was on my abdomen, right where my running shorts rubbed which further delayed my training.  When I could finally start running again it was in the dead heat of Austin summer… pretty oppressive.

In September I was diagnosed with mono and a severe Vitamin D deficiency which once again stopped me in my tracks.  Fall races? Cancelled.

In November, Baby Bird got pretty sick and our family was introduced to febrile seizures.  As every mama knows, the health of your family trumps all “me” time activities so there was no time for stress reliving activities but plenty of stress… which led to some time at the cardiologist for me.  Makes total sense for a marathon running, health conscious (moderately) young woman.

It’s all made it interesting and made us really flexible.  And compared to the hardships faced by multitudes of families these were infinitesimally small challenges.  And they will make the high points of 2014 even sweeter!