Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Thirty Five. (yikes)

Today is the thirty fifth anniversary of my life on Earth.

I haven't yet decided how I feel about the number.

It doesn't sound as cute as twenty five....let's think back to that year for a moment, shall we?

I was 25 when Randy and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary, when we bought our first house and when we rescued our first dog.  I had a fun job teaching second grade, with a great principal (hard to come by in those days, trust me on that).

Life was pretty darn good.

And it got better.

When I was 26, we rescued our second dog.....and third.  Twenty seven, I had Ellie.  The joy in life just exploded and then the explosion doubled at age 29 when I had Aleena.

Every year, life gets sweeter and sweeter.

Age 35 comes with
  • a new job, which will be way more fun than the job 25 year old me had, 
  • a fourth marathon, an idea that 25 year old me would have laughed at,
  • 8th birthday for Ellie, it amazes me that I've kept her alive for so long,
  • 6th birthday for Aleena, I don't even know how that happened, she was just born a few minutes ago
  • eleventh wedding anniversary for Randy and I.  WHAT?!  It seems like yesterday and a hundred years ago all at once.
Not a bad line up for such a scary number.

Time seems to be speeding up, so I better pay attention.

Bring it on, thirty five.  Let's see what you've got.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Random Thoughts: July 10

It's been a long time since I've ridden my bike alone in the predawn hours and it was 2012 the last time I wrote my random thoughts while biking.  So here's a treat, y'all.

Random Thoughts from a Runner on a Bike

It's nice and cool out here.  I wish I was running...
The birds are singing.  They're cheering me on, "Go, Jamie!"
Thank you, Birds.
Yikes.  Those people left their garage door open all night.  They must not have an awesome neighbor like we have to tell them when the door is open.  Poor people.  I wonder if they have any friends at all....
Bunny.  Get out of the road.  You belong on the grass so you don't get run over.
Hey, look!  A cyclist on the main road.  I'm too chicken to ride on the main roads.  I'll stick to neighborhoods.  This is why I'm not a real cyclist.  Just a runner on a bike.
Don't let the sun go down on me, although I search myself, there's always someone else I see...
Seriously?  Elton John this morning?
I think my butt has gotten bonier...I need shorts with thicker padding...and while I'm at it, gloves with thicker padding.  Let's make everything nice and cushy.
Freaking kamikaze bunny!  He ran right out in front of me!  Get out of the damn road!  What is with these bunnies today?
Pew.  That car in front of me....the one without the muffler....someone in it is smoking.  Stinks.  Don't they know that's bad for them?  And it stinks?  Pew.
Stop judging, Jamie.
Hey.  Paper Guy.  You stay on your side of the road and I'll stay on mine.  Deal?
Another open garage door.  It's an epidemic.
I'd just allow a fragment of your life to wander freeeeeeee..
Shouldn't I have a more "hip" song in my head?  I'm old.
Dark animal in the road.  Crap is it a skunk?
We're good.
Something is clicking every time I press the left pedal down.  Irritating.  Randy needs to fix that.
Two bunnies.  Conversing.  IN THE ROAD.  How 'bout you bunnies take your little powwow to the grass?  Where is your mother?
5:40am...I suppose I should go home. butt hurts.

Have a great day, y'all!

Avg speed: 13.6mph

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

More Fun

I've mentioned that the theme of 2014 is FUN (and badassery).

When I wrote those words on January first, I had no idea how true they'd be.

I'm having so much FUN this year.

My predawn runs are growing and even forming satellite groups in different areas of Columbus.  It's rare, so rare, that I ever run alone.

National Running Day in early June
5at5ers a couple of weeks ago
5at5ers earlier this week
All of the racing events I've done have been a blast.

The ORRRC Half Marathon was amazing.  I chucked all time and pace goals and just ran.  Sure, it was hard, but the lack of pressure was awesome.  I had no idea what my finish time would be.  I didn't even know what pace I was running!  Seeing my finish time was...I don't even have a word for it.  Only a smile.

Marcie and I at the finish.
Then there was the Ragnar Trail Relay in West Virginia.  I touched the damn nature, fell in the mud and camped in the rain.  So.  Much.  Fun.  I mentioned in the second part of my recap that I'm now a relay girl and there will be more in my future.

Finishing my third leg after playing in the mud for 6.8 miles.
Guess what?

I've added the Ohio Market to Market Relay to my 2014 race calendar!

I've had a few runner friends ask me about doing this relay earlier this year, but three of my 4 events this year will take me out of town for a whole weekend.  I'm not pushing my luck and adding another so I declined and didn't mention it to Randy.

Fast-forward to last Sunday evening.  I received a tweet from a RagnarTN teammate asking about participating in the Market to Market Relay.  Randy inquired what I was tweeting about so I gave him the run-down.

"That sounds fun and it's only one day.  You should do it."

Wait.  What?

See why I think he's so awesome?  He totally *gets* my crazy.

On September 6, I will join the Princesses and the Peas and run from Cincinnati to Dayton, Ohio.

I'm super excited to run another relay.  I'm not completely sure if this one is roads or trail...I think it might be both.  The course map isn't really clear, so for sure, it will be an adventure.

Let the fun of 2014 continue...

Have you ever run a Market to Market Relay? 
Care to shed any light on the terrain?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Ragnar Trail WV Recap: Part 2

The storm is over.
If you missed Part 1 of my Ragnar Trail WV recap, read it here.

Just before 8pm, Stuart was released into the wild to run the Red loop.  His goal was to be back in a hour and a half, so I got myself ready and hoped I'd have some daylight left for my run.  Stuart was back within his goal time, but I was out of daylight.

Friday, 9:23pm.  I headed into the woods to run the Green loop.  Luckily, the Green was the shortest loop, 3.5 miles.

First, I have to tell this story....

Before we started running on Friday morning, we all had to attend a safety briefing where were we told what to do in case of a wild animal encounter: bears, mountain lions, etc.  We were told to make a lot of noise and "get big", spread our arms out and make ourselves appear as big as possible.

When Sarah came out of the woods after her first leg, she told us that she was startled by a noise nearby and she "got big"....then a chipmunk ran out of the ferns and crossed the path in front of her.

Oh, how we laughed.  We teased her all afternoon (all in good fun, not maliciously).  Sarah got big on a chipmunk.  I had tears.

Fast forward to 9:23pm.  I'm on the Green loop, scared to death and praying that I don't get eaten by a bear.  I ran along, randomly clapping and humming "Let it Go" to hopefully scare the bears away.  I saw something move on the edge of my headlamp light.  I panicked, let out a little shriek and "got big".  I moved the light over to see what was moving: a fern blowing in the breeze.  I laughed hysterically and couldn't wait to get out of the woods to tell Sarah.

I ended up joining two other ladies running the Green loop.  It was nice to not be alone and three headlamps are better than one.  The Green loop was very rocky and there was one stream crossing with strategically placed boulders to jump across.  I found myself wishing I could see it.  I'll bet it was pretty.

Around mile 3, I tripped on a rock and went down.  Luckily, I fell on soft ground, but dammit, I had mud on my hands.

Damn nature.

My running buddies stopped, made sure I was OK, then we continued through the woods.  Soon I found myself crossing the bridge and passing our team bib to Sarah.  Before she left for the Yellow loop, I told her the fern story so she could laugh at me.

Leg 2: Green Loop
3.5 miles

By this time, it was after 11pm and I was sweaty, cold and exhausted.  I went back to camp, changed my clothes, climbed into my sleeping bag and passed out for a while.  I heard Sarah come in, change and lay down next to me.  Then Kate came in, changed and laid down in between Sarah and I.  When Andrea came in around 3am, I got up and gave her my spot on the air mattress.

I wandered around the village and found other teammates in time to see Kerri take off for the Green loop, then Stuart head out for the Yellow loop and then it was my turn.

Saturday, 8:07am.  I took the team bib from Stu and took off for the Red loop: the longest and most challenging loop.  I estimated that it would take me about 2 hours, depending on the severity of the mud and Sarah said she'd start watching for me around an hour and fifty minutes to be safe.

By this time, about a thousand other runners had been on the trail before me and with all of the rain the day before, it was pretty muddy in some areas.  The Red loop is the most technical of the three with lots of rocks and roots to jump and several large, mossy boulders to climb over.

I had so much fun with this one.  I chatted with a ton of people; some ended up passing me, some were passed by me.  I never stuck with the same person for long and I smiled and laughed (mostly at myself) for this entire run.

I slipped in the mud and fell twice and once I had to touch a mossy boulder to climb down from a larger boulder.  There I was.  Touching the damn nature.  Smiling.

(Although, if I'm honest, I did let out a little "Ew!" when I touched the squishy, spongy moss.)

Mile 4 was entirely uphill.  About 400 feet of climb.  I was so thankful for my Wednesday morning hill repeats.  I ran a lot of this hill, some of it wasn't runnable because it was too steep and some because it was too muddy.  I swore a lot on this hill and then the trail started to level out and I felt triumphant.
Photo taken and owned by Stuart.

Soon after, I came across the One Mile To Go sign, checked my time and got a little nervous.  One hour and 24 minutes had passed.  I told Sarah to watch for me at one hour and 50 minutes.  Whoops.

It turns out that I had nothing to worry about.  When I got to the bridge...

Side note: the ramps and bridge were a bitch to run after that Red loop.  My calves and hips were about done, thank you very much.

...I could hear Sarah, Terri and Josh cheering for me.  They were ready.

Leg 3: Red Loop
6.7 miles
Get a load of that hill from mile 3.5 to 5.3ish.

Our team ended up doubling up runners for the rest of the legs so we could finish in time.  Everything was thrown off a bit because of the lightning delay.

I think it was around 2pm --but I could be wrong.  Honestly, I have no idea what time it was-- when our last runner came through and we all ran across the bridge together to the finish.

We stopped on the bridge for this photo-op then ran down to get our medals.

Team Dolls and Balls about to finish!
Photo taken and owned by Tory.
The medals were not metal at all.  They're made of wood and leather, completely different from the Ragnar Road medals, which were metal bottle openers, but the wood and leather work with the naturey theme of the weekend.

I love it.
I knew this weekend would be fun.  With my friends, it would be pretty impossible to not have fun.  I was a little concerned that I'd feel whiny about the damn nature, but it was an absolute blast.  You can read this recap and it's obvious that I had a good time, but really, you have no idea unless you've done it.

I've been asked if I liked the road or trail Ragnar better and, honestly, I can't decide.  Before last weekend, it would have been a no brainer.  Of course I like roads better.  I'm a road girl!  Now, the line is a bit fuzzy.

I like different things about both:
I like that my feet stay where I put them on the road.
I like that the whole team camps together on the trail, we're not split up in two vans.
I like the road because some of the surroundings are absolutely breathtaking.
I like the trail because some of the surroundings are absolutely breathtaking.
I like running past our team van with my friends cheering on the road.
I like the physical and mental adventure of climbing over rocks and jumping over roots and staying upright in the mud on the trail.

I like spending the weekend with my friends in (too) close quarters, running at all hours on any terrain.

There will be another Ragnar Relay in my life...probably many more.  I don't know when and I don't know (or care) where, but I'm so not done with this relay thing.

"8 friends, 3 trails, 1 billion stars, unforgettable stories."
We didn't have the 1 billion stars, but we've got more than enough stories to make up for it.

Special thanks to:
~ Team Dolls and Balls - Andrea, Josh, Stuart, Kerri, Terri, Sarah and Kate, the people on the team can make or break the weekend.  Thanks for making mine.
~ Our volunteer Tory - pregnant, flooded tent, sleeping in a van...there was a lot to scowl about this weekend and you never lost your smile.  Thanks for being awesome.
~ The love of my life - not only do you take days off work to hang out with our ladies so I can do my crazy running thing, you remind me to pack the cowbell to scare the bears away.  You, darling husband, are a special breed of amazing.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Ragnar Trail WV Recap: Part 1

This past weekend was the Ragnar Trail Relay in West Virginia.  I knew it would be fun...I was pretty sure it would be fun, but I had a few concerns.

I don't like nature.

That's not totally true.  I like nature as long as it doesn't touch me.  I had a feeling that I would be assaulted by nature this weekend.  Plants...bugs...with a possibility of spider webs...and bears.  Hold me.

Porta potties.

I hate them.  "Normal" runners see porta potties as some kind of oasis.  Not this girl.  I gag and have to pull my shirt over my face so I can breathe my own stink instead of fecal fumes.  I'm most certainly not a "normal" runner.

Clearly this trail running relay was not my idea.  After our road Ragnar in 2012, my friend, Andrea, said she wanted to try a trail Ragnar.

Sure...why not?  (insert nervous giggle here)

Our team left comfy, familiar Columbus, Ohio on Thursday afternoon and headed toward bear-infested Bruceton Mills, West Virginia.

We arrived at the campground as it was getting dark and we rushed to set up the tents before we lost all of the daylight.  We spent the rest of the evening sitting around a lantern (because we weren't allowed to have individual campfires) eating junk food.  We all went to bed around midnight loaded up with sugar and excitement for our runs the next day.

Our three legs at Ragnar Trail WV: Green Loop, Yellow Loop and Red Loop.
Photo from the RagnarTrailWV website.
Our team start time was 10:30am on Friday. Since we were up with the sun...

Side note: room darkening, sound-proof tents would be great.

...we did some exploring in the Ragnar Village...not to mention a little shopping in the Ragnar store.

Team Dolls and Balls
Photo owned by Kate.

Finally, 10:30am rolled around.

Stuart was our first runner.  I was second.  I had a little self-talk.
          Nature will touch you.  
          This is not your biggest problem.  
          Watch out for bears.  
          Good chat.

Friday, 11:12am.  Go time.  My first leg was the Yellow loop.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  When I got into the woods, the trail ran through ferns.  Some as high as my shoulders.  They touched me and I whined a little, but there was so much to look at and "ooh" and "aah" over, there was minimal whining.

The ground was so soft and cushy.
I made a friend in the woods.  Those who know me in person are not surprised by this.  She was ahead of me but running backward thinking that she missed a turn somewhere.  My new friend, Teresa, and I ran together from that point on.  I stopped to take a picture when we got into the pine trees and she told me that she was glad I did.  Otherwise she wouldn't have even noticed the beauty around her.

Teresa and I chatted as we ran through the woods toward the village.  There were hills and lots of rocks to avoid tripping over.  It was a grand adventure.

Just before we entered the village, we had to run up a steep ramp, across a narrow bridge and down a steep ramp on the other side.  Ragnar is so kind to our legs. (sarcasm)

Teresa and I running down the ramp after crossing the bridge.
Photo taken and owned by Stuart.

Another teammate, Josh, was standing near the bottom of the ramp and caught me crossing the finish line.

Photo owned by Josh.
 Who knew I'd come out of the woods smiling?

"That was so fun!" I told Sarah, our runner #3, as I handed her our team race bib.

As I said them, I couldn't believe they were coming out of my mouth.  And that I meant them.

The Yellow loop was so. much. fun.

I high-fived Teresa, thanked her for the company and we took a selfie.  (Of course we did.)

Leg 1: Yellow Loop
4.6 miles

I knew we had a couple of hours before Sarah finished with the Red loop so I walked to our campsite to change my clothes, have a snack and relax for a while.

The rest of the afternoon was spent walking back and forth between our tent and the Village watching and cheering for our runners finishing and cheering while sending our next runners into the woods.

After Sarah, it was Kate's turn, then Andrea's.  While we waited for Andrea to return, the sky grew dark.  The Ragnar announcer came over the speakers warning that heavy rain was a threat.  The wind started to blow and huge raindrops started to fall just before Andrea came across the bridge.  Terri took off for the woods and the rest of us made it to the dining tent right before the sky let loose.  Terri couldn't have been more than half of a mile away when the thunder and lightning started.

Tory, Stuart, Josh and Kerri ran to our campsite to close up the tent windows and put all of our stuff under the EZ Up to attempt to keep it dry while Kate, Andrea, Sarah and I waited in the dining tent near the finish line.  We assumed that Terri would be sent back because of lightning.  It soon became clear that was an incorrect assumption.

The wind was blowing.  It was raining sideways.  Lightning flashed and thunder rumbled.  It was scary.  We were all worried about Terri in the woods.  We told ourselves that she was probably safer there, sheltered by the trees, than we were in the tent.

Two hours later, Terri emerged from the woods soaking wet and smiling.  Luckily, the weather didn't seem near as severe in the woods as it was for us.

By then, we'd been put on a 2 hour lightning hold so our next two runners, Josh and Kerri would have to skip their legs and Stuart wasn't allowed to run until 8pm.  It was dinner time and kind of nice that we all got to eat together.

This is a good place to stop.  I'll finish up our Ragnar adventure later this week.

Have you ever run a Ragnar Relay?  Road or trails?  I've now done both.  I like different things about each and I'd do either again.  In a heartbeat.
Who's with me?  (insert eyebrow waggle)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Reason for Running

Late last year I chose my fourth marathon.  Yesterday, I finally got to register.

I chose the St. Jude Marathon for a few reasons.

First of all... St. Jude's mission:
… to find cures for children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases through research and treatment. And no family ever pays St. Jude for anything.
Certainly a mission worth getting behind.

Second...I have two healthy Little Ladies.  I'm incredibly thankful that I'm not in need of St. Jude's services, I pray every day that I never will be.  I'd very much like to help support the families less fortunate than mine.

Third...(and this is a biggie)  We lost my grandmother on my Dad's side a couple of years ago.  We call her Meme (pronounced MEM-ay).  Meme's very favorite charity was St. Jude.  She donated to them every month.  She never forgot about the kids.

I will run the St. Jude Marathon.  I'll smile.  I'll cry.  I'll high-five all of the kiddos.

I'll run to celebrate those who are fighting, to give thanks for my blessings and to honor Meme's memory.

I've pledged to raise $500 for St. Jude, but I'd love to raise much more than that.  If you have a few extra dollars in your wallet and would like to donate to St. Jude, every little bit helps.  It's certainly going to a worthy cause.
Click Me!

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Friday, April 25, 2014

What's for Breakfast?

I have partnered with belVita and Dannon to help promote the belVita and Dannon partnership. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program, which includes writing about the promotion and product. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

It's no secret that I love Dannon Oikos Greek yogurt.  Oikos was featured as one of my Friday Faves last year.  John Stamos didn't show up when I took the first bite, but the delicious black cherry taste made up for that...mostly.

Lately, I've been putting chocolate chips in my black cherry Greek yogurt for a little added yumminess.  While delicious, the chocolate chips didn't really add to the staying power of my breakfast and I ended up hungry well before lunchtime and wasn't making the best snack choices. (Easter candy, anyone?)

When I heard that belVita had chocolate breakfast biscuits, I heard angels singing the Hallelujah Chorus.

16 grams of protein (yogurt and biscuit combined) with chocolate and cherry was exactly what I needed!

The chocolate flavor wasn't quite as intense as the chocolate chips, but it was chocolatey enough to curb my craving.

I know a lot of people out there don't eat breakfast at all due to busy mornings.  Dannon and belVita have formed a partnership to fuel American's mornings with a quick, convenient and delicious breakfast so they can get the most out of their mornings.

 Laura Stack (The Productivity Pro) has three tips on how you can get the most out of your morning:
  • The secret to a smooth, sane morning is doing as much as you can the night before. Leave as little preparation as possible until the last minute – you’ll thank yourself in the morning.
  • Spend twenty minutes at the end of each day planning your to-do list. When you download the next day’s activities beforehand, you can devote your morning to enjoyment rather than stress.
  • Be sure to start your morning with a delicious, balanced breakfast. Together, the nutritious steady energy of belVita and 12 grams of protein in Dannon Oikos Greek nonfat yogurt along with a piece of fruit will help you get more out of your morning.
I'm not one of those non breakfast eaters.  I'm hungry the second my feet hit the floor in the mornings and skipping breakfast is never an option for me; I'm mean when I'm hungry (my mom is reading this nodding her head).  My mornings are really busy with running at 4:30 or 5am, lunches to make, kids to clothe and feed, the elementary school bus at 7:15am, and preschool drop off at 9am, I need to eat something fast.  The Oikos/belVita combo fits the bill.

Last weekend, I really put Oikos and belVita to the test and ate the black cherry yogurt and chocolate biscuit combo before a 12 mile run.  I was testing the staying power during major calorie burn fest as well as the effect it has on my stomach.  Could this possibly be an easily transported pre-race or pre-long run breakfast?


During the whole 12 miles, I never felt hungry (I fueled at mile 6, as usual) and I had no cramping or any"messy side effects".  Score!

Have you ever tried belVita Breakfast Biscuits?  I've tried the Chocolate and Blueberry--both delicious.  I'm looking forward to trying the Golden Oat next. (Other flavors are Apple Cinnamon and Cinnamon Brown Sugar)
What's your favorite Greek yogurt flavor?  Cherry...always cherry.  Blueberry or Pineapple would be my next choices.

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