>Marathon Training: Week 9

>Okay, people, I think this is the point where the women are separated from the girls. This week was good, though I was sore most of the time. But it’s the kind of sore where you know your muscles are growing back twice as strong.

Let’s see…

Sunday: I went to the gym after a two-hour nap and did light cross-training and resistance machines. I did 15 min on the bike and 15 on the elliptical. Then I worked on my arms and shoulders mostly and they hurt for a good three days! I haven’t worked them out like that in a long time.

Monday: Rest! Had Becca over for lunch, then we went to a movie, and then I went to Bible study. It was a good day off. πŸ™‚

Tuesday: 4.37-mi “tempo” run… did a warm-up, 3 mi @ 8:57, and cool down. I was thinking about my workout all day and that my goal was to run three miles at a 9:00 pace. Yes, sometimes I fantasize about running. Get over it. I did it!! I say “tempo” because I didn’t do a full mile warm-up and cool-down.

Wednesday: 8-mi pace run. Heh. This is the day I was making excuses all over the place for not wanting to go. I’m tired, I’m sore, I don’t have enough time, my running clothes need washed, it’s rainy… blah blah BLAH. But I turned myself on autopilot and after I got home from work, I changed and headed out the door. Not really sure what I expected with this, but happy about the pace (10:45). That’s what the calculators say I will do on the marathon.

Thursday and Friday: Rest! Gabriela suggested a 16-miler for Saturday, and my schedule only said 11. I figured we could do the 16 miles. We needed to at this point since we’re only two months away.

Saturday: 16-mi long run. Obviously it was long. Our pace was 10:55, which is great considering it’s the longest distance so far and there were a couple unforeseen hills. Great course though, with hardly any cars and deer. It snowed a little bit last night and so the trees were white.

This morning I woke up at 5 having only had four hours of dozing. I had a latte yesterday in the afternoon and I knew I’d be up all night. Amelia, her mom and I had a fun girls’ night with dinner and shopping and it was much needed for all of us. I got a lot of good deals and only spent $110. At VS I went to ring up my purchase and the associate asked me if I had a VS card. I told her not anymore, and she smirked. It was great.

I had a mental block this morning about running 16 miles, even though it was only two more miles than last weekend’s run. That’s a long way! I knew that I wanted to keep a good pace, but also to relax and enjoy it. But on my way over I teared up a little thinking about how far I’ve come in just a year! This time last year I was struggling to run three miles at a slightly faster pace. God is good!

Next week’s “long run” is only six miles. Yessssss. Then we bump it up to 18. Oh my. I will handle that when the time comes.

It’s quite possible that I will take a long nap today. πŸ™‚

>A prayer for today


“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 
because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 
Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” 
James 1:2-4

I absolutely love the book of James. He writes with such a passion and conviction that I can only imagine is magnified when read in the Greek. Pastor Rick included this verse in his sermon yesterday entitled Attributes.

Let’s do a quick word study, since Elizabeth is fascinated by the real meanings and translations of these words into the Greek. (My Hebrew/Greek Key Word Study Bible [NASB] was one of the best investments I’ve ever made.)

pure, or all (G3956) – each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything
testing (G1383) – the proving
perseverance (G5281) – steadfastness, constancy, endurance; a patient enduring, sustaining, perseverance
mature (G5046) – brought to its end, finished; perfect, complete

In order to reach maturity in our walks with Christ, we have to endure trials.. it’s not an option. We will be thankful for them in the end, for whatever doesn’t kill us has to make us stronger, right?

Anyway, I had to include a little blurb on this verse because it’s been racing through my mind in the past 24 hours or so.

Thank You, Lord, for Your goodness, for Your mercy, for your abounding love. I come to You in absolute thanks of what You have done in my life. You have protected me and raised me up with Your right hand, all in love and all for love. You desire me to live a satisfying and joyful life, and for me to walk with You all my days. Now that I’ve been through many trials, with many still to come, I can attest to Your great love and patience that dwells in me.
Thank You for my husband, for our marriage. Thank You for your grace and mercy and your forgiveness for our sin. You have restored and redeemed us. By the world’s standards, we would have gone our separate ways long before now. Because of the adversity we’ve walked through together, I know that You have something amazing for us… some plan that we could never have dreamed up ourselves. You are preparing and molding us for the future, whatever it is, and I know You go before us.
I want to take life day by day, drinking in all that is before me in my job, my relationships, in nature. Thank You for health, for these legs that run farther and farther, and this heart that pumps so strongly. Running has made me see just how amazing our bodies are, and how You are the great scientist and engineer of all we see. Thank You for the feeling of being so alive.
Thank You for my job. You literally placed it in my lap and I can’t describe how satisfied I am in helping this particular student. Thank You for your gift of teaching that You’ve given me.. looking back I knew my calling a very long time ago, even as young as seven or eight. You are a good God, who fulfills and satisfies and restores.
Thank You for Your promises for future generations that come from Aaron and me. We have both overcome difficulty and generational issues and we know that our children and their children and even up to one thousand generations will be blessed because of our obedience!
Thank You for all these things and so much more.
I love You, Jesus. 

>Marathon Training: Week 8; and crossing the finish line

>I seriously can’t believe training is halfway done. Only ten more weeks until the marathon! That means only nine weeks until my birthday. The next several weeks are crucial, as there is hard-core mid-week training as well as long runs on the weekends.

Monday: I rested since I did 12 miles the day before.
Tuesday: A difficult 3 miles (30 min) on Grandview. Took my running clothes to work and changed before I left. I knew if I went home first, I wouldn’t go back out. And besides my run I planned on just getting some things done at home (cleaning, cooking, baking bread.. yum!)
Wednesday: 6.58 mi (9:49 pace) at Mt. Hawley. Got home after work and was seriously contemplating “resting” again. I had a snack, messed around on the computer, and got my butt outside. It was so nice to run in a t-shirt and capris, and to have slightly warmer air fill my lungs. It was a fabulous run!! I had never run that far with such a good pace, and I sprinted the last half mile or so. It was heaven.
Thursday and Friday: rested… and I’m glad I did. I’m not sure that running four days a week is the best thing. If I had run the 4, 7, 4, 15, that would have put me at 30 miles again for the week. Not sure my body is ready for that. Really.
Saturday: 14 mi (10:30 pace!!!!) all around the Heights. Gabi and I went with her friend who’s much more experienced than we are. I can’t believe I lobbed off a minute per mile for a longer run! Last weekend if you recall I ran 12 mi with a 11:25 pace. It definitely makes a difference to 1) eat a little something beforehand, 2) run with friends, and 3) take something to drink (I mixed one of those vitamin packets into some water). I am seriously so proud of myself.
Sunday: Did some easy yoga poses and stretching in the morning; went to the gym and did 15 min on bike, 15 on elliptical and upper body resistance machines… I feel energized and my muscles aren’t as sore.

I think I cleared a major mental hurdle this week. I am such a perfectionist, and it’s something the Lord and I have been working on for a long time. It’s even worse when I’m new to something like knitting or running. I get down on myself; even if I got off my butt and ran, it’s not good enough unless I beat my previous times.

I also get easily intimidated by other runners who I perceive are better than or more experienced than me. I have a broken record of all the things they must think of me.. and I know it’s ridiculous and probably not even true.

I have to remember that God is in control, that He gave me these long legs, this strong heart and this curvy body for a reason and my times don’t matter to Him. He did give me a brain that loves logic and numbers, and I want to enjoy watching myself improve. But ultimately what matters is that I’m treating my body as a temple of the Holy Spirit and that I’m taking care to make it healthy and strong so I can fulfill His work in my life. I got a shirt made for the marathon that says “I run for His glory” with “Let us run the race of endurance, Hebrews 12:1” on the back. It will help me remember why I can even finish 26.2.

Running could so easily turn into a punishment for eating too much, or an addiction. I joke around about being addicted to running, but I assure you, I am not. I absolutely do not have to run every day, and I looooove food so much. (Yes, I know, I should just marry it!) I am, however, proud of my weight loss and maintenance, and I strive to be an inspiration to others, especially those who were never athletic before. Even in high school I couldn’t run to save my life. In fact, on our midterm running test I got a D. I only ran 14 out of 20 minutes, just to get by. And I was skinny then!

I will probably cry my eyes out when I cross the finish line in the U of I stadium in April. It’s not just an athletic achievement, but a culmination of everything I have been through spiritually, emotionally and physically in the past two years.

Two years ago I couldn’t even run a lap on the treadmill. I was fifty pounds overweight. We were $20k more in debt. I had no idea that we would be spending 26 months apart (ironic, right?). Two years later, we are both successful in our careers, I am fifty pounds lighter and more fit than I have ever been. We have paid off over $20k in debt and have no money worries because we know from experience that God will provide! My husband and I have a fabulous marriage and relationship that easily could have crumbled under all the worldly pressures. But in the eight years we’ve been together, we’ve never been more in love or more devoted to accomplishing what God has for us.

My personal goal is to break five hours, but regardless, I will be crossing the finish line for the both of us. For our growth, for our relationship, and for our future.

>Fresh air never smelled so good

>And I don’t mean the fresh air that stings your nose and freezes your lungs! Spring is almost here in central Illinois and I can’t wait!

Lately my life has been work, eat, run, sleep, and whatever other activities I’m involved in. Work has been keeping me sane. I can have a horrible morning and get all worked up about something, and then I get to work and I just relax. Running has been interesting this week, and I’ll blog more about that in my weekly training blog.

I’m to such a point in my walk with Christ that I have to choose either the wide and common path or the straight and narrow. There is no in between; He wants me fully committed.

I’ve really been evaluating my purpose on this earth for the next few years. Going back to school for my Master’s is not an option as we are not taking out more loans. Being a mom is not an option right now, either, and I’m slowly but surely coming to terms with that. We were just discussing the benefits of being “older” parents (~30 & 32) last night. I’m glad we’re on the same page with that.. it will make the next several years less resentful I think.

I’m anxious to get orders to our next duty station, but I’m not sweating it. I learned my lesson really well, first with Texas and then with Korea. I’m going to go with the flow as far as my ridiculous lists are concerned, and look for a job with patience. I know it will all work out.

We’ve gotten back a piece of our “gazelle intensity”, as Dave Ramsey calls it. I haven’t been eating out hardly at all for the past three weeks (except for going out with my in-laws and out with my dad for his birthday) and I’m happy but not surprised by how much extra money we seem to have. I’ve also been using only cash for things. We filed our 2010 taxes and will be using our return to pay off the first school loan, put some in savings and we’ll each get a little chunk to spend. We’ll be putting an extra $500/month down on the second school loan and hopefully get at least a third of that paid off by June. We are determined!!

I was listening to people in the lounge talk today about school loans and how they’ll be paying on them until they retire. It’s sad that people think that they’re destined to live in debt for such a long time. I held my tongue but I wanted to say that I’ll have mine paid off, Lord willing, in just a few short years… and I went to private school! My BA cost as much as some BA+MA’s cost!

Anyway. About this fresh air. Almost all the snow is melted and my apartment smells like spring. It’s soothing, and I’ve been sleeping harder. For some reason I’ve been getting to sleep by 10 o’clock, sometimes earlier if I’ve been reading my Kindle (loooooove that thing!). Then I wake up some mornings at 4, but usually at 5 and my body seems ready to get up. Maybe I will start taking advantage of that and get my run or Bible study in before work.

I started a book club this week with some fellow Army wives online and we’re reading The Memory Keeper’s Daughter. It’s a great book so far, and I’m actually almost a fourth of the way through it. I joined a book club so I’d be forced to relax and read!

This weekend I declared for rest. Besides my long run Saturday morning with Gabi and church on Sunday morning, I will do what I feel like, when I feel like. I want to get totally caught up in our Daniel study and clean out my car. But naps and baking cookies are definitely on the schedule!

>My first trail "run", and Marathon Training: Week 7

>This week has been strange. I’ve really been missing Aaron. We haven’t been able to talk on Skype or on Facebook chat, just the phone. Every couple minutes we lose the call. So incredibly frustrating. And after having three days off last week, it was challenging to get back into working eight hours a day with my friend at school. I had something to do every evening this week, which is almost always the case, but it was exhausting.

This morning I got up around 7 and left the house by 8:10-8:15 for the trail run at Wildlife Prairie Park. I parked and got my packet, which included a CITRA (Central Illinois Trail Running Alliance) hat and a couple of gift certificates to a chiropractor’s office. Gabriela didn’t run today because she’s been sick. 😦 Not sure she would have wanted to listen to my attitude though! πŸ˜‰

They sang the national anthem and with the gun we were off. The first third of a mile or so was on a paved service road. Then we turned onto the Flood Plain Trail. They had said we’d be running in ankle deep snow. Try twelve inches of snow, not the least bit packed down. Most of us ended up hiking it.

It was rough. My attitude was horrible. I was looking forward to racing this thing, and here I was doing 18-20 minute miles out in the middle of nowhere. Whine, whine, whine, I know. But srsly.

The last probably half mile was decent to run, so I ran it and finished in about 1:09:10. Not sure on the seconds. According to my Polar watch, I burned 840 calories, and my heart rate hit 185 as a max but for the average was 161. Not bad if you ask me for a cross-training workout.

Mainly what I thought about the whole time since I purposely didn’t take music with me, was “If I get injured because of this I will be so mad!”

So anyway. Here’s what my training looks like from this week:

Monday: 4 mi, 9:13 pace (my fastest yet!!)
Tuesday: 7 mi, 10:31 pace
Wednesday: cross-training since I forgot some of my very important running gear (read: a specific undergarment!)
Thursday: 3 mi, 11:09 pace (got my tush outta bed at 4:50 and went before work)
Friday: rest
Saturday: 3.7 mi, 18:35 pace
Sunday: 12.37 mi, 11:25 pace… can’t seem to shake that darn 11 when running a long distance like that. I was also trying to not douse myself in yucky melted snow and dodging cars. The sky was so blue and it was warm-ish out (45 for Illinois in February is a heat wave!). I wore long pants, a cami, a long sleeve tech shirt and an ear band. The wind was at 15 MPH, so I knew my ears would probably get cold. And the ear band helps keep my headphones in (Aaron accidentally packed my iPod ones and they’re now 6000 miles away). My Nike+ iPod thing kept screwing up, but I think I got the mileage right. I’m so glad I went and got ‘er dun.. I feel a lot better physically and emotionally.

So, I pride myself on having nice feet. I looooove sandals and being barefoot. But I got my first big blister… ever… from running so darn much. And it was a water blister. Hopefully my toenails don’t fall off; I’ve heard of that happening to long distance runners. I like to keep them really short, so I hope that doesn’t happen!

Calories burned for the week according to sparkpeople.com: 4800!! and 30 miles!

And a good thing too since I ate a lot.

I’d say I had a pretty successful week of training. My apartment is a mess, but my head is mostly clear. I’ll take it.

Oh, here’s a map of the trail we ran.

>Marathon Training: Week 6

>I really shouldn’t kid myself – weeks 4 and 5 were nonexistent. Ah well. I jumped back on the running train anyway.

Monday: 3 mi at the gym. Yuck.
Tuesday: thought about the gym and didn’t do yoga even though I said I would.
Wednesday: actually wanted to workout, but dug my car out of 15″ of snow instead. Burned around 300 cals.
Thursday: 6 mi at the gym; so proud of myself. There was a TV in front of me, but I hate watching TV while running. So I kind of ran to the right side of the treadmill so I could people watch. But there weren’t that many people there so they probably just thought I was a creepy stalker. But hey! got my six miles in.
Friday: rest; my body was not happy with me as I sat around for the better part of three days and then ran
Saturday: 10 mi run with Gabi. Got ‘er dun before 9:30. Sleeping in on Saturdays is overrated, I say. It was a good solid training run.
Sunday: I’m supposed to cross-train. I’m thinking yoga to stretch out these already-sore muscles, pushups (still girly ones) and abs. Do you know how much I hate ab workouts? Because I do. They always remind me of gym class in junior high and Mr. Norman yelling at us, specifically those of us who were not athletic. In my mind I think he was just ticked at me because I was tall and not using it for basketball, or my long legs for track. πŸ˜‰

I was supposed to have included another three-mile run, but I think 19 miles for one week following a two-week hiatus (and I hadn’t run a long distance for a month!) isn’t too shabby. Next Saturday we run the Winter Wildlife Trail Run, and that’s a 6K. I’m slightly nervous as I’ve never run a trail race before.

I’ve been successful in tracking my food and exercise this week on sparkpeople.com. As I’ve said before, I’m a huge number-cruncher, so I love analyzing the breakdown of nutrition. I also went grocery shopping at Aldi and Kroger (two different places, and with a list.. oh my!) and got yummy food to make. And I paid cash. Annnd got a few cute Valentine’s decorations for the apartment.

Oh! Forgot to add that I ran the last three miles without music, unexpectedly. For some reason my Nike+ thing decided to stop playing music but kept the mileage going. I didn’t want to mess with the mileage so I just took off my headphones. It was eye-opening, er, ear-opening. I could hear all the cars coming (I usually run with one headphone out anyway) and the birds, and I concentrated on my breathing. I also had some sentimental thoughts about running, but I’ll save that for another time. I know you’re bummed, but you’ll get over it.

Okay! So, now that I’m done talking your ear off (if you made it this far without putting virtual duct tape over my virtual mouth), I’m gonna enjoy the rest of my coffee and chill out today. I think Smallville, knitting, napping and talking to the husband are in order. Β‘Chau!

>Snow day vacay

>How lovely to have three whole days off in a row. I actually got a decent amount of things accomplished, and I rested. A lot. It was great. It’s even better that the weekend is almost here because Aaron has a four-day weekend.

Let’s make a list of everything I accomplished:
-Did two loads of laundry
-Scoured out bottom cabinets
-Cleaned litterpan (one of my least favorite chores)
-Made dinner two out of the three days!
-Made sourdough starter
-Made two loaves of sourdough bread, not the best but pretty good!
-Made chocolate chip cookies
-Made four Valentine’s-themed placemats with old pictures and cards of Aaron and me
-Knitted a good portion of my Kindle cozy
-Sewed for a good chunk of last evening (it’s a gift so I can’t say!)
-Read part of House Rules by Jodi Picoult
-Slept in all three days
-Ran six miles this morning at the gym, shoot me now
-Made and organized my grocery list
-Planned healthy meals for the next couple weeks
-Watched the first two sessions of the Daniel study, am still working on the “homework”
-Watched some more Smallville with Aaron

That looks like an awful lot, and I guess it is. And yes, I want a medal. But I did get my fair share of rest. It was the perfect balance of productivity and rest.

Here are some things I’m very excited about!

a) The fact that it’s already February. In March I can say “Next month I turn 25 and run my first marathon!” Which means that I absolutely have to kick this training in its pretty little arse.
b) The fact that it’s already February. Aaron’s done in Korea in only 4.5 months. Thank You God!… which means we move very soon after that.
c) The fact that it’s already February. Days are getting longer (it was still light at 5:30) and the temps will be getting warmer. Maybe not till April, but whatevz.
d) Getting back on track with my cash budgeting. There’s a sense of power when I pay actual cash for something. I don’t have to worry about if my checking account has enough money or if the card machines are working. And I like dumping all my leftover change into my salsa jar.
e) Getting back on track with eating healthy. Today my body was craving healthy food after my mental battle with the treadmill (I won, in case you care).
f) The possibilities of where our future home will be. Seeing as this is the second year in a row we’re waiting for orders, there’s something pure and fun about waiting to see where we will be stationed. Now that we’ve almost gotten Korea out of the way, anything else is better. Even with a potential deployment. Oh wait. He’s in the Army so he will have to go fight the bad guys at some point. My bad. I’m telling you, even three months of living under the same roof with my man sounds like heaven.

Now it’s back to work tomorrow. Major roads are clear, according to the IDOT Winter Road Conditions map. I still love this job. No lesson plans, no responsibility, no worry. And oh, did I say yet that things are going very well for my friend at school? Because they are. He’s making progress and more than anything I love that relieved look on a parent’s face when they are told that things are better than they thought. I lied. Really more than anything I love the look on a child’s face the moment he “gets it”, or the moment his confidence in own abilities rises.

To conclude, I would post pictures of some of my yummy and artistic-ish creations, but someone took the camera back with him across the pond. Can I go 4.5 more months without a camera? I’m not sure.

>What a Groundhog Day! and other things

>Snowpocalypse, Snowprah.. whatever you call it, it was a storm. Yesterday we had a snow day for the anticipated havoc. It started in the late morning and continued throughout the night. We even had thunder and lightning. It was bizarre. Luthor and I chilled all day. I was on the computer and sitting on my butt most of the day. I read some, knitted, even made dinner. I also got a sourdough starter going for bread. I got the idea from Katie.. who can pass up fresh, warm homemade bread?

This is what we woke up to this morning, and according to the weather service Peoria got 15 inches of snow.

I was absolutely dreading having to dig out my car as we don’t own a shovel. I got out there with my bucket and dustpan, no joke, and then was able to borrow a shovel from a woman who had borrowed it from maintenance. Two guys came around and helped me with the rest of it, and made sure I could back out. I don’t think I’ll go anywhere today because 1) I don’t feel like it or need to, and the gym is closed anyway and 2) I don’t want to risk losing my spot.

I’m excited about my Kindle cozy. This entrelac knitting has thrown me for a loop (no pun intended). I started it when we were in Wisconsin, and Katie was able to help me with it. She’s really good at reading the instructions and knowing what to do. I am the exact opposite and need someone to show me. Anyway. I got a good portion of it started, and yesterday I spent the better part of an hour trying to figure out how to continue. I combed YouTube and Google for videos and finally figured it out.

I think I will put in a zipper and line it when it’s all done, and maybe get some really cute buttons. It really shouldn’t take too long. Then I’ll tackle the socks again. I tried one and messed up within the first couple rows. Let’s just say I lose my patience pretty quickly with newer activities.

Back to school, back to school
On a different note, I’m considering going back to school soon to get my Master’s. But honestly, with moving around in the next five years, I don’t want to risk starting a program on campus somewhere and having to stay behind to finish it. Not happening. And a Master’s in Spanish online would really not improve my spoken skills all that much. That’s where I’m lacking.

With my current job as an aide to a boy with special needs (but he’s above average with most academic skills), I’ve found a niche I didn’t expect. In my two months in this job, I’ve realized that I can be absolutely content teaching any level, any subject. I subbed for almost a whole day a couple weeks ago and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

This leads me to considering my Master’s in Special Education. I thought about getting a certificate, but if I’m going to put in the time and money, I want to have something more to show for it. The other thing is that we would not take out loans and instead pay cash. This is quite a new concept to me as far as education is concerned. But it certainly is making me rethink a lot of things.

I found a program through a university that offers an online program, but also boasts a brick-and-mortar campus too. They are accredited and offer military spouses an awesome discount. They would also let me take up to five years to complete the degree, which is ideal. Financially, I’d be able to take only one class per term. This would allow us to still put money on debt, not let me be stressed out with school work, and I would have time to work full-time if the opportunity arose.

I’m still thinking about it, because it’s a big financial commitment, as it would be about $12k for the program. Part of me just wants to trust that work will be provided. In this time of uncertainty, I haven’t been jobless. The other part of me wants to be more cautious and wait it out. Education will always be there, even after Aaron’s out of the Army (2016). I could still work on an advanced degree when we start a family, so why rush it now?

However, if I pursue it now, it would let me recertify at some point, and land a more lucrative job. I’d also have more job opportunities and some schools might still offer tuition assistance. Hmm. MyCAA, the military tuition assistance for spouses, does not pay for graduate tuition. I think I will start saving money and see how I feel in a few weeks.

Remember when I was working at the fabric store and said I’d be open to managing something like that someday? Yeah, let’s pretend I never said that. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I want to stay in education for a very very long time. Like I said, it doesn’t matter to me if I’m teaching high school, or an aide in grade school, or even subbing for a little while (gasp!). There’s just something that excites me still about influencing and educating young minds. It’s crazy to think that I’ve been teaching/mentoring/tutoring in some fashion for ten years (I started teaching piano in 2000 at age 14).

Back to fitness
I am going to start tracking my workouts and nutrition again on sparkpeople.com. I gained 3-5 pounds since Aaron was home and got off track with eating. Yesterday I ate a lot.. so many different things that I can’t even remember what all I ate. According to SP, I burned about 300 calories shoveling snow this morning. Since the gym isn’t open and I was supposed to do a six-miler, I’m going to do some yoga and strength training today at home. Back on the healthy wagon I go!

Stay safe, everyone.