April 25

This is my first post as a 26-year-old! Somehow the birthdays lost their ring after 21…. However, my 26th birthday brought me this lovely piece from Aaron…

And a totally awesome hair day… This won’t happen again until maybe Christmas or something.

I’ve logged 11 miles this week so far! I took Missy to McKelligon Canyon on Monday morning and we walked about 2 miles. She did better than walking around our neighborhood because there were less distractions. The car ride, however, was not so great. After dinner I went out and ran 2 miles in the neighborhood. So many people were out walking their dogs and playing outside. After 7, the sun’s behind the mountain and therefore not burning my flesh off. The temp goes down and it’s perfect “summer evening” weather. In April.

Yesterday I met Jess at the gym and did 4 miles of intervals, all uphill. Man, I kicked that treadmill in the butt. Later yesterday instead of driving to her house for dinner (it’s only 1.3 miles), I walked.

Today I rested. I’ve been watching my carb and sugar intake. I am trying to eat less refined sugars and carbs and more protein. It’s kind of my own version of “eating clean”. On my way home from “work” I stopped at the gas station to get gas and totally resisted the urge to get DQ. Go me. Even after just a week of watching my refined sugars and carbs, I want it less.

This whole waiting-to-have-kids thing is making me be waaay more accountable to getting and staying fit. One of the big reasons I lost weight in the first place was to get healthy before we had kids. Well, now that we’re waiting longer than we expected, I need to keep up a healthy lifestyle for longer. I want to run and workout when I’m pregnant, have a healthy delivery, and bounce back as soon as possible after giving birth. Anyway, I try not to think about it too much as it’s in the future, but it’s definitely a motivator for staying healthy.

This is kind of random, but… I’M GOING TO HONDURAS!!! I went to the meeting at church the other night. We’re going at the end of August to help with an orphanage and school we support as a church. I’ve had the itch to travel internationally for.. well.. since my last trip (Honduras in 2008), so I’m really excited. (I never got the chance to visit Aaron in Korea….silly Army… and $1700 plane tickets.)

Anyway. Life is good. I can’t imagine going back to such a stressful job… ever. Unless it were absolutely necessary. Missy and I only have a week left to party like there’s no tomorrow before Husband Man comes home… we might even do some yoga or POP Pilates.

Bataan Training: Week 5 :: Sighhh, and other stories.

This week definitely wasn’t glamorous, running or otherwise. Thankful I got in my three runs [3 mile recovery, 5 mile pace @ 11:00, 2 mile interval training]. We opted to do our long run tomorrow morning. Yes, that’s nine miles before the sun even comes up.

It’s been an emotionally stressful week.  Work has been no less than stressful. People, I have tried as I might to have a positive attitude. I’ve dove into Bible verses and listened to worship music… needless to say, my discontent has lit a fire under my little runner’s rear and I plan on doing something about it soon. (Graduate school?? Maybe??)

Since going to the doctor and getting some medication for my migraines, I have found relief. Yesterday at work I felt it coming on so I took a pill and did not have a headache for the rest of the day. We ended up checking out Costco, except not really checking it out because we don’t have a membership. So we walked around one of the four huge malls here and got cheap meals at IHOP for dinner.

I felt so distracted at dinner… I feel distracted in general. I have a really hard time just sitting and relaxing. The Husband can sit and watch episode after episode of Smallville (our fave show) with no problem. I’m either Facebooking, or knitting, or Skyping. I get home later than he does Monday through Thursday, so we usually eat dinner, or even just an egg sandwich, and end up doing our own thing. That means we’re both on our computers… last night, it was for hours.

I found Little Women on TV and was wrapping gifts. After that was done, we were both sitting on our laptops, do absolutely *nothing* until 11:00 pm. Silly, just silly. With the stress of work, the stress of not having quality time together just about did me in. Welcome to life, Elizabeth.

This morning we had every intention of going to church. However, I think we were emotionally spent and I hadn’t felt very well. I haven’t had any palpitations, but I’ve felt some pressure in my chest. Don’t know if it’s heartburn, a figment of my imagination, or something new my heart is doing. Who knows. It’s not accompanied by any other symptoms so I’m not concerned at this point. Believe me, I could work myself into a panic attack.

My dear runner-Army-wife friend Natalie posted this on her blog.. it’s the Running Resolutions from the latest issue of Runner’s World.

1) Race Farther. Considering I ran a marathon last year, I think my goal will be to exceed the number of total miles in 2012. To date, I’ve run 617.42 miles in 2011. I had a tentative goal to run 700-900 miles this year. 2012? Hmmm… h0w about 1000?

2) Try Yoga. I love yoga. There are so many videos on iTunes and YouTube I can still try. If my schedule allows, I’d like to attend more classes at Soto on post.

3) Lose 10 Pounds For Good. Hmm. Well, I’m at 158-160 right now. For my height (5’10”), that’s a healthy weight. I’ve maintained this weight for two years now after my weight loss journey in 2009. The highest I’ve been since November of 2009 is 165. The lowest, 152. I would like to tone up more and build more muscle. As long as I can fit into my dress pants and skinny jeans, I’m good. At 152-155 I was able to fit in more size 8’s that I have, but I almost felt too skinny.

4) Be More Consistent.  Getting up early with The Husband has helped… a TON. I plan on having a pretty consistent race schedule this year, especially since races on post are pretty cheap.

5) Try A Triathlon. Uhhhh. I dunno about this one. There’s a sprint tri on post later in 2012. I need to learn how to swim correctly first.

6) Win A Medal. This would be pretty sweet, but unless the age group is 25-29 instead of 20-29 and I’m having a super-fast day with not many competitors, I don’t know if this will happen. I’m not a fast or slow runner. It’s always a good goal, though.

7) Try Real Trail Running. Ahhhh. I am so doing this when we go home to Illinois for a visit. Forest Park Nature Center has been calling my name and pining for me in the midst of my absence. We need to find some trails around here that we can actually run on. One of our goals is to hike to the top of North Franklin Mountain. That, we can’t run. It’s too rocky.

8) Stop Giving Up. I have gotten over The Great Running Slump of 2011, thank the Lord. If I can run in the desert at 4,000 ft, I can run anywhere! I don’t want to give up on training, on races, on healthy living.

9) Figure Out My Watch. I have the Garmin Forerunner 405 with GPS. I’ve figured out the virtual training partner, but I know there are so many more capabilities. I use the GPS on a regular basis.

10) Give Back to the Sport. I should volunteer. I am always so grateful for the amazing people that take time out of their schedules to hand out water (and probably get splashed!), work the gear check, whatever..

11) Find More Partners. I want to find some running buddies. It’s hard with my schedule. There’s a running group but they have no runs in the Northeast, the part of town where we live. I have my husband, who is a good running partner, and honestly I LOVE running alone. It’s how I got my start.

12) Beat My PR. I totally plan on beating my PR’s. My 5K time is what I like to see go down every time I race… currently my PR is 27:56. I know with some training I can do better than that. My mile time is 8:15, I think. Not quite sure. I run my first half in January so that will be a brand new PR. I won’t beat my marathon PR at Bataan because it’s simply too different of a course. My goal is 5:30-6:00, but that’s the “optimistic” goal. I really just want to finish.

A life fulfilled.

This morning was great! We ran our first race together, in the same zip code, in the same country! It was the Ft. Bliss Holiday 8K Run on post.

We don’t have official times yet, but Aaron ran around a 40:40 (8:05 mile! SO PROUD) and I ran around a 48:30. My goal for this first race in Texas was 51:00… pretty conservative considering my last 8K was a 46:18. I guess I just didn’t want to be disappointed.

The gun went off. It had the feel of a small hometown race, with about 200 participants. It was cool outside with a crisp breeze. However, when the sun comes out in Texas, it warms things UP! I could have run in shorts and a t-shirt and been fine.

I always try to save energy at the beginning. I looked at my watch and was starting out at a 9:00 mile… WAY too fast. So I ran between a 10:00 and 10:20ish mile throughout until the last mile, and I kicked it into gear. I ended up passing several people I was contending with the whole time; always feels good to do that towards the end of a race! It was a silly fear, but I was worried I’d be towards the end. My slowest split (I have the Garmin set to .5 mi) was at 10:16 pace… sweet!

Aaron met me at the finish line… that was great to see him! So many times I’ve had to call him and give him a report. We recouped for a second, then grabbed Starbucks and headed back to the gym for the awards. I was disappointed that the age groups were so large… there was no way I was gonna get an award when the group is 20-29. Maybe someday….

I feel elated, like I usually do after a great run, an appreciation and an attitude of I. Love. Life.

Despite not having a ton of extra money…

Despite unexpected bills…

Despite not going all-out for Christmas…

Despite not being with family for the holidays…

My life is fulfilled. If you’ve been reading my blog for two seconds you probably know that I’m Christian. Thank you for continuing to read even when you don’t agree with my views or how I got there. I never want to sound preachy; my goal is just to tell the good things God has done and let you take it from there.

I just want to tell you that these past couple months of trusting God for our needs have been some of the most rewarding. We’re seeing things happen, opportunities for relationships arise, and of course, all of our needs met. We are committed to giving sacrificially to missions. I was listening to KLOVE radio the other day (not generally a huge fan of “Christian” radio…) but I heard a song by Matthew West with a line that goes like this:

“I throw a twenty in the plate but never give till it hurts.”

Wow. When I heard that, I didn’t feel conviction but confirmation. We are giving sacrificially, even when it looks like we can’t afford it. Even a lot of Christians will say it’s foolish to do this… what about the bills? Food? Gas? Saving? What about retirement? Saving for kids’ weddings and college tuition?

And I counter that by saying… Have we ever gone without? Have we ever run out of gas? Food? Nope. As far as savings and retirement, we’ll get there.

So… trusting, living to the end of ourselves (physically, financially and spiritually), looking ahead to the future with unbridled anticipation… these are the things that make my life fulfilled.

Bataan Training: Week 3 :: Running is spiritual

Thanksgiving was this week, if you can remember through your turkey and pumpkin pie comas. A total of 13 miles were run, which is definitely not spectacular; HOWEVER, I personally had two amazing runs, and that in my book beats running a couple more mediocre runs.

Wednesday I ran 5 miles on the treadmill at Soto Gym on  post. It was a progression run, which means that I got progressively faster as the run went on. I started out at an 11:00 pace and finished at a 9:13 pace with a final time of around 53:00. I. Felt. AWESOME. Like I conquered the world. If 5 miles is all it takes….

We were supposed to get up early-ish yesterday and run an 8-mile loop around the neighborhood. Well, in all laziness, we decided that we’d run today after church. Harvest Christian Center is on the west side, and is located among a few long roads with either sidewalks, a paved trail or a nice wide shoulder that connects with Transmountain Road.

These photos do not even do it justice. At the bottom of the mountain you’re at about 4,000 ft, and climb to 5,280 at the top of the road. There are still 2,000-3,000 feet to go as the peak is about 8,000 I believe. Anyway, since I forgot to take my camera today, this will have to suffice.

Our climb was about 554 feet over four miles. It was a nice, slow, gradual incline. On the way up, we had views of the bluest sky I’ve ever seen (maybe it just looks so blue because of all the desert deadness flora and fauna). We could also see Transmountain Road stretching out before us, cars speeding past at 60+ mph. We had a wide bike lane, though, so I felt pretty safe. I also ran on the rocky shoulder of the bike lane since Bataan will be rocky in some places.

I never liked hill training before we got here. Now, I don’t have a choice. I wish I could describe to you the exhilaration of coming down the mountain. Sure, you’ve sped down a hill on your bicycle, or ridden a roller coaster. But until you’ve propelled your own body with your own feet and your own strength, there’s no comparison (though I’ve been told skydiving is quite a rush…..) Now imagine that with uninterrupted views of Texas, Mexico and New Mexico and you’ve got it made. Ahhh. It was perfect.

At mile 7, I fell. On concrete. I must have tripped over a crack or something… but it hurt. I almost started crying. It’s been quite awhile since I skinned my knee. Aaron was already a little ahead of me since I gave him the OK to kill the last mile. He stopped, came back to help me up and I told him to GO! So he did, and I finished out my last mile really strong.

It was an amazing run.

I was thinking about this blog pretty much the whole time I was running. Running is spiritual. I don’t mean in some weird new-agey way… though it may sound that way to some.

When I run, long distances especially, I am completely aware of all my physical failings. My chest hurts, my lungs burn, and my legs feel stiff. Going up inclines only exacerbates these symptoms. But I also am paradoxically aware of how fearfully and wonderfully we are made. I know that we are made, by an all-loving Creator. In case you’re wondering, yes, I’ve been on the other side, weighing  evolution and its plausibility. I never used to think science and the Bible could go together, much less complement one another so perfectly.

Something that stuck with me from a podcast is that the world is always going from order to chaos, not the other way around. Even in science, order does not come from chaos. If you let your yard grow and grow, it becomes chaotic with weeds and unruly grass. If you let yourself eat whatever you want and never exercise, your body inside and out becomes chaotic. If you don’t manage a relationship, it gets chaotic and can possibly end. How does it make sense that order, meaning humans, plant life, animals, the food chain, the water cycle, everything could come from complete chaos?? It totally defies laws and theories of science, not to mention the principles of the Bible.

It’s totally amazing to me that our bodies even have the capacity to run long distances… the stress we can put on our bodies is amazing, and yet all our systems work together to sustain us. I’m no science expert, but I know that the skeletal, muscular, cardiovascular and many other systems have to work properly and in some sort of order to sustain movement and stress for that long. It’s incomprehensible to me every time I complete a long run. I guess that’s one reason I absolutely love long distances.

The other thing that makes running spiritual to me is the community of people it involves. People from all walks of life, races, backgrounds and ability levels can come together for one sole purpose (no pun intended). We wave at each other while running opposite directions, but it’s much more than a wave. It’s a mutual understanding of the time, preparation and physical sacrifice one makes.

I haven’t been posting things I’m thankful for every day in November, but I have a couple for you for today.

  • I’m thankful for my healthy body. This morning during service I was feeling my heart rate go all over the place and was a little worried about my run. But as the morning went on, I felt better and felt my best while running those eight miles!
  • I’m thankful for all of my running partners, ones I’ve met (Gabi, Regina, Karen) and ones I haven’t (Darcy in Germany and Natalie in Washington State). I have been so blessed to get to know these amazing ladies, and also blessed that they too love the Lord. It’s so amazing to share these parts of our lives. I hope to meet Darcy and Natalie and run with them someday, though they’d both probably leave me in the dust. 😉

I have so much more that I could write about concerning running and the Bataan Memorial Death March… but I’m going to carb up with turkey and noodle soup and ice cream. 🙂

Marathon training for 2012 starts NOW!

Before I had come to El Paso, I’d done the research on the longer distance races (half and longer) and when they were. There’s a half marathon in Las Cruces, New Mexico, on December 3. However, we might be going back to Illinois around that time (my sis-in-law is due late October with our nephew!) so I don’t want to commit to that race. The El Paso marathon is in February, but I just wasn’t sold on it. It looked like fun (and probably has free beer as it’s sponsored by Michelob) but again, just wasn’t feeling it.

I had heard about this race called the Bataan Memorial Death March that’s held in White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. I scoffed and chuckled when I first heard about it… any 26.2-mile distance around here is a death march! I laughed at my ingenuity… until I realized that the race is actually to commemorate the horrific 85-mile march thousands of POW’s captured by the Japanese started on April 10, 1942 in Bataan, Philippines. Here’s some more history about the race itself.

Last week, like a good little voracious reader, I went to the nearest El Paso Public Library branch and got my card. I’ve been on a war/history/non-fiction kick lately, what with reading War by Sebastian Junger. (It should be known that I was hooked to books on war since my mom gave me Killer Angels by Michael Shaara.)

So I checked out a few books, including Bataan Death March: A Survivor’s Account by Lt. Col. William Dyess.  I started reading it and have been blown away by this part of the war that I personally tend to forget about. Pearl Harbor is about as far as my knowledge goes when it comes to the Pacific theater of World War II.

I did some research on the race and came to find out that it’s on March 25, 2012. Chances are good that Aaron will be able to do this one with me, and he’ll probably carry the heavy ruck (35 lbs). Me? Well, I’ll be carrying whatever I need to get through 26.2 of sand, wind, hills and desert sun.

For once, I’m not interested in this race for a PR. This is a big step mentally for me. I’m always competing with myself, but this is one race where my time is not my goal. The site says that 25% of runners fall out due to injury or inadequate preparation.

So… that means there will be marathon training for the marathon training. I’d like to get a leg up on weight lifting, cross training, and a few long runs, and then in November really hit the pavement hard. Training will include long hikes in the Franklin Mountains and runs up Transmountain Road.

Reading about war really makes me look at my life with gratefulness… I have freedoms because of these valiant soldiers who put their lives on the line. In reality, what’s 26.2 miles compared to the 361 days Lt. Col. Dyess spent in captivity? Not a whole lot, but at least it’s something.

>My body is happy

>I’ve been abstaining from caffeine for three weeks. It’s been great! I love still being able to have coffee in the morning.. I think the simple ritual wakes me up more than the caffeine did. And when it comes to fountain drinks, the decision is a lot less stressful because there’s less to choose from! Haha. I feel more-clearheaded and awake for a bigger portion of the day, as opposed to a daily crash in the afternoon.

Like I mentioned before, I’m abstaining from sweets for Lent. I’ve been tempted quite a few times, with treats at small group and a “food day” at work welcoming our new janitor (yes, we love him that much!!). I have cravings, no doubt about it, but again, there is no stress in the decision about what to eat. I don’t use so many calories on foods I shouldn’t be eating, so I can use more towards good fats like almonds, peanut butter and olive oil. I can just eat more good food overall.

I’m interested to see how it will affect my fitness without being weighed down with all that junk. After Lent is over, I wonder how my body will react to sugar.

I feel like I have so much control over my body and food intake. I don’t feel a slave to my cravings and horrible habit of overindulging. I feel less bloated. I feel good. And the best part of any fast is the increase of intimacy with one’s relationship with God. When I have my other cravings in check, I am much better about not only fitting in my study/prayer time, but wanting to fit it in.

>Marathon Training: Week 11, and Lent

>Monday: 4 miles at the gym, worked on arms/abs
Tuesday: 7 miles at the gym, worked on legs/abs
Wednesday: 3 miles at the gym, worked on arms/abs again.. decided to retire my first pair of Asics after an achy run that should not have been achy
Thursday: rest
Friday: yoga with a Yogamazing podcast
Saturday: 18 miles allllll around Peoria. Seriously. To get 18 miles out of the decent parts of town I combined all my normal routes.

Gabi is out of town this weekend so we did this one on our own. It was the biggest mental battle I’ve had to fight yet. I had dreams about it the other night, and last night after work I just couldn’t relax. I was so anxious! I made myself get out of bed around 5:30 and was out the door by about 6. I was able to watch the sunrise.. so pretty. It was windy, though – 20-30 mph. My hands froze as I didn’t wear gloves. Honestly, I was lazy and didn’t want to look for them this morning.

My Camelbak didn’t come this week, so I took a 24-oz bottle with G2 with me. It wasn’t bad carrying it, as I’ve done it before. I also took two gels and my cell phone in my belt. Normally I don’t take my cell phone, but when I’m out and about for that long I figured it was a good idea. I used one gel and drank all the G2.

I don’t think my HR topped 165-170. I felt great in my heart and lungs. By mile 10, though, my legs started aching. Knees, thighs, hamstrings, hips. Ouch. But I pushed through and still finished with a decent pace of 11:00. That’s really good for such a long distance! There were times, especially towards the end when I felt like I was literally hobbling down the sidewalk. It’s amazing I made it up the stairs.

I’ve drank three glasses of decaf iced tea. I took a bath and used my Tub Tea I got at Walnut Street Tea Co. in Champaign last time we were down there. I think it really helped, too! It was called “Soothe the Muscles”, a blend of lavender and sea salts. They’re about $6 each, but oh so worth it.

Now I’m enjoying a yummy breakfast, and later I’m going to catch up on Biggest Loser and do some knitting.

One thing I’m really trying to break out of is totally gorging myself on carbs the day of or after a long run. It doesn’t take that many carbs eaten to replace what I lost (2200 today), and I should still keep a good, balanced diet.

I made a commitment to give up sweets for Lent this year. For those of you who are not familiar with it, Lent is the 40 days preceding Easter beginning with Ash Wednesday that signifies the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert fasting and being tried by the devil. Growing up, we always celebrated it and gave up something. Normally, giving up a food doesn’t help me in my walk, because I become so legalistic about it and stay focused on not eating that one thing.

This year, though, I have recognized the role that sweets play in my emotional health. If I’ve had a rough day, or feel sad, I eat ice cream at home or go through the DQ drive through. When I want to relax, I equate that with eating sugar. This practice adversely affects my walk with God because in those rough times I should be turning to the Word for “food” so to speak. A pint of Ben and Jerry’s really won’t bring long-lasting results. It only brings guilt and lots and lots of calories!

I’m sharing this with you not to say, Oh, Look how great I am!, but to make myself accountable. I’ve spent too much time overeating and casting my cares on sugar and it’s going to stop! I’m also trying to balance out my diet and make it as healthy as I can. I’ve been making most food at home and trying to shop around the perimeter of the grocery store.

The Bible is just as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago when it was written and spoken in the synagogue and early church. Fasting can still play an important role in your spiritual walk. I’m excited to see how this commitment will affect our preparations for moving and what we will be doing in El Paso. The last thing I need to do is get caught up in innumerable lists and worries.