Sunday, August 17, 2014

Round Two

I thrive on routines.

I am sad that summer is over. I mean, I love sleeping in, bumming around the house, reading a book a day, traveling extensively, etc.

However, I'm not sure what it is about oodles and oodles of free time, but there is just something about it that does not lend itself to productivity for me. For instance, other than a few races, countless bike rides, and a week of boogie-boarding, I had a hard time exercising. And while I did not eat greasy fast food every day, I did not necessarily eat (or, let's be real, drink) super healthfully either.

As a result, I have gained back a lot of what I lost during my Whole30 days, and I am feeling not so wonderful.

So, now that school is starting again (and hence a routine is back in place), I have decided to give myself an extra little healthy-lifestyle boost and start another Whole30.

Tomorrow, friends, Whole30 Round Two starts.


There will be a few differences between this Whole30 and the Whole30 (or Whole57 or whatever it ended up being) that I completed a few months ago. First, as many of you know, I discovered that I am allergic to many of the frequent-flyer foods. The one that I am most worried about with this go-around is sweet potatoes, as that was an easy carb to add to dinner. I am going to attempt to simply omit those from my diet, but if I find that I need a little extra something with my evening meal, I am going to substitute rice, even though that is technically forbidden on a true Whole30.

In addition, I am not going to be as strict with some of the meat. For instance, I bought chicken sausage at Trader Joe's today, even though it has minute amounts of brown sugar. It was only $3.99 as opposed to the $7.99 I would pay at Whole Foods for completely compliant sausage. I will be doing the same for bacon: I will try to find the least non-compliant type, but if it has a trace amount of sugar, I'm not going to say no.

I obviously wouldn't recommend making these substitutions during your first Whole30, but since I've already done a couple months of eating wholly compliantly, I am going to do a variation of the program that will work for me.

So, who wants to play along with me? A good support system is paramount to Whole30 success.

How were your healthy-living habits this summer? Any amazing recipes you think I should try for Round Two?

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Five Favorites

This is the tenth edition of Five Favorites, which means that over the course of the past three months, I have shared with you 50 of my most favorite things. I hope you've enjoyed reading these posts as much as I've enjoyed writing them!

1. Old Navy Active

I know what you're thinking: Emmy, you've already professed your love toward Old Navy workout clothes 1,000 times over. And you'd be correct. However, I wanted to tell you about my new favorite find today.

Normally, I purchase these workout tops:

The Knotted Racer-Back Tank

This particular cut is my absolute favorite because it isn't skin-tight (hello, muffin top with spandex capris), and it's a bit longer than most workout tops.

But, the hotter it gets, the more I realize that because the tank is 65% polyester and 35% cotton, it tends to soak up the sweat and get really baggy, really fast.

So, I decided to try one of the new tops:

The Cut-Out Mesh Tank

This particular tank is also a bit longer than most, but it's more fitted and less flow-y. It's 91% polyester and 9% spandex, so it doesn't get bogged down and bagged out by sweat. Also, the whole tank has a cut-out pattern (almost lacy), so there's great ventilation. And as an added bonus, it's super cute: wearing this top, I rode my bike down to a pub to watch the World Cup match last weekend, and I saw one of my sister's friends who commented on how much she loved my top and how she couldn't believe it was a workout tank, as it was something she'd wear to go out.

So yes, I will be wearing this (in one of the three colors that I have already purchased) all summer. I'm going to have some sweet tan lines. :)

2. Maybelline Define-A-Lash Waterproof Lengthening Mascara

Mascara is the one cosmetic item that I always wear: whether I am going out on a date or running a race, I throw on a coat or two of mascara before I head out the door.

Also, I hate spending money on make-up. I want the best product for the least amount of money, and I want items that are going to last a while.

Enter: Maybelline mascara.


I love this mascara because it is good-to-go after one application, it goes on smoothly and doesn't clump up, and it seriously does define my lashes. And because I always buy the waterproof kind, it doesn't smudge, even when I tear up, wipe my eyes, etc.

I'm sure it makes me look exactly like this:


Oh, and it's also less than $8 at Walgreen's. Done and done.

3. My Road Bike

I talked about this road bike nearly a year ago, but I have to talk about it again this year since I have been on it at least three or four times a week this summer.

I love my bike and think that I would be lost without it. It could probably use another tune-up, but I absolutely love everything about this bike -- even the clip-in shoes that have caused a couple of embarrassing moments this year.

Also, I have been doing a lot of work on my bike this summer -- all by myself. I figured out how to attach a pump, another cage, how to adjust my seat, etc. I wholly understand that these are "basic" things, but since I am pretty much the furthest from a fix-it kinda gal, I feel quite accomplished.

I'm pumped (and terrified) to take 'er out on a 50-mile ride later today.

4. Report Sandals (Ryella)

I wear a lot of flip-flops during the summer. But, since I've been a little fancier this summer than ever before (read: going on dates and trying to dress to impress), I decided I should buy some big-girl shoes to match the dresses that I've been living in.

I must have walked the aisles at DSW a dozen times before settling on these bad boys. I really liked them from the get go, but I was also nervous that they would get too hot and sweaty on our super humid days, that I wouldn't like the enclosed heel, etc.

But I am so glad that I settled on this pair. They're so cute, they go with everything, and they totally dress up a plain ol' dress very nicely. Since they only cost $35 and considering I've worn them every day for the past two weeks, I'd say I've already gotten my money's worth.

5. Orange is the New Black

You guys: I binge-watched this show. And when I say "binge-watched," I mean binge-watched. I'm pretty sure I made it through all 13 episodes in a matter of three days.

And now I'm in withdrawal.

I love so much about this show (while also acknowledging its faults). I love that the cast is 95% female and that there are strong, well-written characters for the actresses. I love that it shows varying relationships between women. I love that it shows the stories and lives behind incarcerated individuals. I love that episodes can make me laugh and cry, can shock me and touch me.

Seriously, I need Season Three a lot sooner than June 2015.

What are some things that you've been loving lately? Are you an OITNB fan? What TV shows hook you for hours on end?

Find previous "Five Favorites" here:
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Friday, June 20, 2014

Five on Friday

Good morning, friends!

It's Friday, and since I'm back to semi-regular posting, I thought I'd once again follow along with The Good Life BlogHello! HappinessCarolina Charm, and A. Liz Adventures for a little "Five on Friday."

Enjoy the randomness of my life. :)


Yesterday, I ran for the first time in nearly three weeks.

You see, I had some major knee issues that had been accompanying me for a couple of weeks, and then I foolishly ran a half marathon at the end of May. Because my knee was (obviously) bothering me after those 13.1 miles, I wizened up and decided to take a much-needed break from running -- and focus on cycling for exercise and to maintain endurance.

So yesterday was my first measly two miles in quite a while. I was fully prepared for the run to suck since it was in super hot and humid weather and since I had not run for a while, but I was pleasantly surprised at how good I felt.

And then shit hit the fan. Endurance-wise, I was great: I could've gone forever. Pain-wise, not so much. I made it nearly a mile around the lake before deciding that I should take a quick break due to the fire poker jabbing the outside of my left knee.

Unfortunately, that was just the beginning. The second mile included much, much more walking, simply because I was in too much pain to run.

And even more unfortunately, the pain did not subside when I stopped running and instead continued through the rest of the day.

My long-distance-running career may be quickly coming to an end.

Soooooo pretty. Also, helloooooo boobs.


I know you are all well aware of my obsession with love toward La Croix. Well, have you heard the news?

Yep: La Croix is feeding my addiction with three new flavors. Since I was at Target this week (and La Croix was three for $9), I succumbed. I picked up a case of mango and a case of apricot (and my tried and true favorite, lime), and both are absolutely delicious: clean, crisp, refreshing.


This past month my book club read The Orphan Master's Son.

This was the first book-club book (out of nine or ten) that I did not read. It was supposed to be absolutely amazing (I mean, it won the Pulitzer Prize), but I just could not get into it; I tried countless times, and each time I tried, it felt like I was just staring at words. I mean, I would make it several pages, but I would have zero idea as to what was happening.

Interestingly, it turns out that most of the other women felt the same way. I think eight of us were at the meeting on Monday, and two of us had finished the book, and one of us was halfway through.

This month we're reading The Interestings, so I'm much more excited about that.


Speaking of books, I decided that since the crazy storms had rendered me without power on Tuesday, I should reorganize all of my books. For most people, this would likely be a small task; I, however, have a lot of books and a little OCD, so this took me all morning.

First, I piled all of the books on my dining room table. Then, I sorted them according to genre: for instance, Latino literature, African-American literature, African literature, Asian literature, general literature, young-adult literature, memoirs, poetry and anthologies, non-fiction, education books, etc. Next, I alphabetized them within their genres. And finally, I put them back on their shelves.

Apparently I ended with more books than with which I started, so...that was another challenge.

While it took me forever, my anal-retentive self is very happy with the end result.


My sister has been begging me for months to head down to her town for trivia at Peace Tree Brewery; unfortunately, I have had bowling league obligations each time she has asked. But, since they're continuing trivia through the summer, I am thankfully able to attend.

On Wednesday, I headed down south, and my sister, brother-in-law, two of their colleagues, and I formed The Kids' Table team.

After the first round (Classic Album Covers), we only had a measly two points. (We knew a lot of the bands and music but did not know the album covers. Ugh.) In the second round (Random Trivia), we killed it with nine out of ten. And then in the third round (June Trivia), we earned another four points, which left us in first place!

I am so ridiculously competitive, so I loved that we won. And, check out the sweet prizes:

We each received a mini growler (I think they're actually called "stumpy growlers") and could have filled it with beer for 10% off that night. Pretty sweet, right?!

It was such a fun evening, and I am so happy that a.) my sister lives close, and b.) that she wants to hang out with me. I already can't wait for July trivia. :)

What's been going on in your life lately?

Have you read any good books? Hook me up with some recommendations, please!

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Three Thanks

It's been a while since I've seen y'all. I knew that a couple of you (Mom and MB in particular) would get on me about it, but I didn't realize just how many of you actually read this little blog o' mine.

Ask and you shall receive, friends. I am back today with the regular Three Thanks and will be back (at least semi-regularly) with some new posts.

Please join me (and hopefully Aly) with our link-up, Three Thanks. If you don't have a blog, please jot down what you are especially grateful for in the comments section below.


I am grateful for my dad. I am thankful for him for many reasons, but today I am going to mention just one: a week ago today, he drove over from Omaha and attended a swanky fundraiser with me.

He arrived just before the event and left shortly after, so he spent more time in the car than he did in Des Moines. And it meant so much to me that he would drive all that way to and from to spend the evening with me.

I had such a wonderful evening being silly with him, chatting with him, showing him off to all of my friends, and having him all to myself. It was an absolutely awesome father-daughter night. 

He is pretty amazing, and I am 100% certain that I had the best date at the event.


I am thankful for Shaw.

Here we are in the middle of a 32-mile bike ride. (Please disregard my massive head in this photo.)

And here we are at one of the Market to Market exchange points.

He and I have spent a lot of time together over the last several months. We obviously coached tennis together so were forced to hang out nearly every evening and then the three days that we were at state, and now that school is out, we have still been getting together nearly every day to go on a bike ride, to watch soccer, to grab patio drinks, etc.

Shaw is one of my best friends in the entire universe. He is one of the people I can be my absolute true self with -- silly jokes, poop talk, and all. And he is one of the people that I can rely on no matter what; I know that he sincerely cares for me and wants the absolute best for me. I can count on him to tell me when potential dudes are being stupid, and I can count on him to tell me that I need to stop over-analyzing things.

I love him so ridiculously much and am indelibly grateful that he's in my life. (And, I'm super stoked for all of the shenanigans we are going to get ourselves into this summer.)


I am thankful for the most fabulous friends' night in the history of ever.

On Friday night, Eric, Alicia, Katie, and I went to Malo, a new restaurant downtown, for dinner. We had so much fun just chilling on the patio, catching up.

Then, we hooked up with Shaw, and the five of us headed to Gray's Lake for unWINEd, an event put on by Jasper Winery. Again, we had so much fun just being together.

After we each finished our cocktail, we decided to walk the trail to Confluence, a great brewery about half a mile away. And that, my friends, is when the shenanigans started.

We goofed off like little kids the entire way to the brewery, and then as soon as we got a table inside, we started the most competitive game of UNO that the world has ever seen. I think we sat and played cards for nearly two hours, essentially until the taproom closed and we were kicked out. And then we proceeded to act like fools (again) on the entire trek back to Gray's Lake.

It was the most perfect night and, I think, just what each one of us needed.

I love those goofballs more than I can even express.

What are you especially thankful for this fine Thursday?

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Three Thanks

I cannot believe that I missed last week's Three Thanks! You'd think that -- as one of the creators of the link-up -- I'd actually write a post for it.


But, the past is in the past, so let's focus on the here and now and get to this week's Three Thanks now! If you have a blog, please link up with me and my sister-in-law, Aly, with your very own Three Thanks post, and if you don't have a blog, please fill us in on what you're thankful for in the comment section below.


I am grateful for painless, injury-free running. Interestingly, I am not currently experiencing said painless, injury-free running, but because of that, I appreciate such running even more.


During Market to Market, I noticed that my left hip and left knee were hurting quite badly. Interestingly, my left foot was the one with the huge blister. I believe I was over-compensating or adjusting my gait just a smidge -- but enough so that I somehow injured the rest of my leg.

The Monday after Market to Market, I tried to run with See-Us Run Des Moines, but I quickly realized that was a horrible idea since my muscles started hurting almost immediately. So, instead of running with them, I did some cardio conditioning (high knees, butt kicks, jumping jacks, etc.) and strength conditioning (squats, lunges, etc.). On Tuesday, I played tennis with the girls, but again, my muscles were quite sore. So, I took Wednesday through Friday off and then ran with the kids again on Saturday morning.

We had four miles on the docket, and I started off feeling great -- so great that I was running ten- and 11-minute miles, which is pretty darn good for me. Pretty much right at mile two, however, the pain really set in with my knee, and I pretty much gimped it (at a 13-minute pace) the rest of the way back. (I was able to run on downhills and flat surfaces because I could put less weight on my left leg, but it was nearly impossible to run that way uphill.)

Then, my knee continued to hurt the entire weekend, despite icing and Ibuprofen-ing.

So, this injury is making me really, really appreciate that I am usually able to run injury- and pain-free (as much as I like to whine about it sometimes).


I am thankful for good guys.

It has been so long since I have been excited about a guy. It has been so long since I have been super comfortable in front of a guy. It has been so long since a guy has made me feel special. It has been so long since a guy has tried to impress me. It has been so long since I have felt like a partner in a relationship. It has been so long since a guy has made me feel not crazy.

I know that there are good ones out there -- and that it is possible to find a guy who truly complements me (in all of my goofiness, in all of my nerdiness, in all of my craziness).


Let's go with something a little less serious for this one: I am grateful for patio weather.

I mean, just look at the forecast for the next few days. I envision a lot of sundresses, bike rides, and patio-drinking.

Honestly, probably my favorite thing about 70-degree weather is a good patio. I don't think there's much better than enjoying a refreshing drink (a good Moscow Mule, perhaps) in the sun on a patio with some good friends. (How about that for some prepositional phrases? And how about that for being a huge nerd?)

We're supposed to get a bit of rain on Sunday, which is why I cut that screen shot a bit short, but after three glorious days -- and the amazing weather we've had thus far this week -- I can deal with a few storms on Sunday.

Yay, summertime.

What are you most thankful for today?

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Allergic to Whole30

Hello friends!

As I have mentioned the past few posts, I am sorry for the absence as of late: life has been busy! Get ready for my list of excuses:

  • School is winding down for the semester, and as a result, I have been insanely busy trying to plan lessons, write final assessments, contact parents of failing students, grade papers, etc. It's been crazy.
  • Tennis has been keeping me busy until fairly late into the evenings, rendering me too tired to do much of anything once I get home.
  • Other activities -- judging a talent show, going on a couple of dates, heading to doctors' appointments, and running races -- have taken up a lot of my time.
Essentially, I'm trying to tell you that in three more weeks -- as soon as school is over and summer hits -- my blogging will become much, much more regular.

But, enough with my excuses: let's get to the meat of this post.


I have mentioned several times that over the course of the last two months, I have had some really horrible allergic reactions. I cannot remember, however, if I actually showed you photos. So, let's take a trip back in time:

This is the rash that has cropped up pretty much all over my arms, torso, abdomen, butt,
and back over the last couple of months. It's really, really pleasant. Also, I'm not sure what's
going on with my tummy in this picture; it's lumpy, for sure, but I swear it's not this lumpy.

This is the reaction I had at school one morning -- the one that finally prompted me to
call a doctor. This was also the reaction with which the doctor gave me an EpiPen -- and
the one where I was certain I looked like Sloth.

This is where I got collagen injections in my lips my mouth swelled up and became
super painful after eating Chipotle.

Interestingly, these reactions occurred when I finally started taking care of my body, especially nutrition-wise. I had cut out all preservatives/processed foods, all added sugars, all gluten, all alcohol, all dairy, all legumes, all white potatoes, etc. I was eating nothing but good, clean, whole foods.

And my body rejected this lifestyle.

Starting about halfway through my Whole30, I had major allergic reactions. When my Whole30 (or Whole56-ish) ended and I started adding in "non-compliant" foods, I stopped having reactions: my body was back to normal.

And, I had five doctors' -- dermatologist, family practice, and allergist -- appointments during that time as well. Finally, on Friday, I received some answers after the allergist tested me for food allergies (which included lying on my tummy for 15 minutes while the nurse poked me with 72 different potential allergens).

Here are the results, friends:

Let's review in more detail:

Cantaloupe: Interestingly, I hated cantaloupe as a kid. I have two theories on this: either my body knew I was allergic to this fruit so automatically disliked it, or I became allergic to it because I was not exposed to it. Either way, I'm not too disappointed. I mean, I like cantaloupe now, but oh well.

Grapes: I bought a bag full of grapes on Thursday, the day before my test. Awesome. I'm not too bummed by this one -- aside from the fact that the doctor also reminded me that this meant no wine! Say what?!

Milk: And yes, this also means no cheese, no sour cream, no ice cream, no yogurt, no cottage cheese, etc. I don't eat much dairy at all, but I do enjoy the occasional ice cream or fro-yo (and who doesn't like cheese?!), so this is kind of a major bummer. Interestingly, my tummy doesn't react super well to a glass of milk or a slab of cheese, so it could be somehow related? 

Lamb: I like gyros, but other than that, who cares?

Pork: No bacon?! Ugh. This is yet another interesting one to me: I have disliked pork (with the exception of bacon) almost my entire life. Hmm...

Onion: I'm allergic to onion?! I didn't even know this was a possibility!

Potatoes: Unfortunately, this includes both white potatoes and sweet potatoes. This is the worst for me: I eat at least one sweet potato per day. And now I can't have any?!

Raspberry: Yep, I am allergic to my favorite fruit. Wow.

So, it's no wonder that I was so allergic during my Whole30: I mean, all I was eating was food that I was allergic to! Seriously, I ate more pork, onions, and especially sweet potatoes than I have in my entire life. When I introduced non-compliant foods into my diet, my body had more to work with and wasn't just being inundated by allergens.

On Friday, I thought this was absolutely hysterical: I was cracking up at the fact that I was allergic to all of this stuff. I posted on Facebook that the whole "no wine" thing was going to kill me, I called my mom and my sister-in-law to joke about what a freak I am, etc. It was hilarious.

Now, however, I'm thinking it's a heck of a lot less funny. And, I'm thinking that meal-planning has gotten a heck of a lot tougher.

But, I am trying to keep it in perspective, too: these aren't allergens that cause me to go into anaphylactic shock, I don't suffer from celiac disease (which would limit a heck of a lot more foods), I don't have an auto-immune disorder (which is what I was fearing after the first round of tests), etc. I just have a few foods that cause rashes and swelling. I can deal with that.

It's going to be difficult, though.

I mean, Katie and Emmy Jean and I headed to Eatery A yesterday for happy hour, and we were trying to order a couple of pizzas to share. Because the white sauce obviously included dairy and the red sauce contained onions, I basically ordered a sauce-less pizza with fig jam and greens. Yum, yum. (And obviously this would not be a Whole30 meal, but that's besides the point...)

Game Plan:

The doctor told me that I needed to completely cut out all eight of those foods for one week. He then told me that I needed to reintroduce each of the foods individually into my diet for a couple of days to see how I react.

So, that is what I'll do: I'm going to start another Whole30 (with a couple of exceptions), and add the above eight items into the "non-compliant" category. I'll add those back in after the fact and see how it goes, I suppose.

Prior to this whole diagnosis, I was reading labels like crazy: that's kind of the point of Whole30, after all. Now, though, I need to read labels even more closely.

While the doctor said that they all reacted with the same intensity, I'm just guessing that sweet potatoes and onions are the biggest culprits.


Do you have food allergies? Any great advice for me to meal plan (especially sans sweet potatoes and onions)?

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Market to Market Relay Race Recap

On Saturday, six days after running the Lincoln Half Marathon, I ran Iowa's second Market to Market Relay.

Market to Market was founded by Ben Cohoon and Jason Bakewell, two guys that I have known forever -- like, elementary school, forever. It started in Nebraska a few years ago, came to Iowa last year, and is heading to Ohio for the first time this year. I'm super excited that the guys are doing well -- and even more excited that they're putting on killer races for me to run. :)

I was a bit nervous going into this race since I was quite injured from Lincoln. You saw my foot a week ago, and I was going to post another pic of it in this post, but I can barely even look at it. You can thank me for sparing you that gruesomeness later. :)

And, let's be real: I ran 13.1 miles after not a whole lot of training, and I had nearly 11 miles to run only six days later.

My nervousness was not without reason.

One thing I was sure of was that we were going to have a freaking blast. My team consisted of seven rockstar staff members from my school: five teachers, a counselor, and our attendance officer.

Are those retro uniforms badass, or what?

We met downtown at 5:30 in the morning to park our cars and load up the minivan that Maggie's parents so generously loaned to us. We then drove 75 miles to Jefferson, Iowa, for the start of the race. (And the further and further that we drove, the more we were thinking that we were bat-shit crazy since we were relying on our legs to get us back to Des Moines.)

Waves started leaving Jefferson at 6:00 a.m., but we didn't have to take off until 7:30. We hung around the starting line for a bit, made sure our gear was ready to go, grabbed some free water, used the facilities, and saw our first runner, Jeff, off:

I love how the trombone-playing gorilla leads the charge.

As soon as Jeff left the gate, my nerves were at a ten. It was my turn to follow him, so I only had about 45 minutes before I actually had to run.

We skid-addled to the first exchange point, where I blasted some Montell Jordan (you know, to get me pumped and ready to go), took care of my normal pre-race porta-potty necessities, and got even more nervous.

Before I knew it, Jeff was in the exchange point and handing me the timing bracelet, and I was off. I had a three-mile stint to start my running for the day, and while it was short, it was pretty much all uphill -- a gradual incline, but a hill nonetheless. And, it started raining almost immediately as I started running.

I started at a pretty good clip (9:30/mile, which is insane for me), so I tired fairly quickly. I took a walk break for one minute at each mile, and that seemed to be a good plan for that leg.

Also, because earbuds weren't allowed on the course, I had to find inspiration elsewhere. For some reason, I thought about my colleague's wife who is battling cancer. I repeated over and over (and over and over some more) to myself, "Running isn't hard: fighting cancer is hard. Running isn't hard: fighting cancer is hard." And I finished those darn miles.

It wasn't my fastest run ever, but I wasn't too disappointed in myself.

Interestingly, my foot didn't hurt all that bad during my run. However, my left leg (hip and knee) were very, very achy, and I'm pretty sure that's because I was somehow overcompensating for my foot -- and likely running just a smidge differently. And, when we stopped at the next exchange point and I got out of the car, my foot started throbbing. So, I took off my shoe and walked around like this the entire day:

Yep: I was pretty darn sexy. (I also ended up wrapping/re-wrapping my foot for each leg. The ointment -- anti-bacterial stuff and/or zinc oxide, gauze, and pre-wrap only held up so well.)

The course was absolutely beautiful. I loved that we got to see so much of the countryside, including grain elevators, cornfields, cows and horses, trees, gardens, and more.

It was so rural, in fact, that we had to wait for a tractor/combine/something to pass:

I don't know why, but this absolutely killed me. Only in Iowa, I suppose.

After everyone ran his or her first leg and Jeff ran his second, it was my turn yet again: and this time, I had to run 4.6 miles.

I was super nervous for this leg, but it ended up going pretty darn well, even though it was approximately 8,000 degrees, and I was wearing a very unbreathable basketball jersey.

The route didn't seem as far because there were more twists and turns (instead of one straight shot like my first run). However, the jaunt to the exchange point seemed to last forever since I could see it about a mile before I actually got there: super ugh.

But, yet again, I did it. This time my mantra was as follows: "Miles to go before I sleep. You are stronger than you think." I repeated this over and over in the same rhythm that I was running. It was very helpful -- so helpful, in fact, that I got annoyed when people tried to say hi or talk to me because it totally broke that rhythm.

At each exchange point, we hung out with several other teams who were also waiting for their runners. My favorite team by far this year was the Husker Tailgate team. I mean, just look at their set-up:

At each stop, they laid down the turf, set up a game of bags, inflated Herbie, erected (tee hee) the sign, and blasted Nebraska-themed music (which I need to acquire).

And, when each runner came into the exchange point, someone ran alongside him or her with a huge Husker flag, and another teammate released three red balloons into the air.

I loved it.

As we continued running and as it started getting warmer, we tried to relax in between runs:

This particular park was absolutely glorious, and I think we were all able to get a bit of a snooze in. (I especially like Emily (far right) who fell asleep with her Gatorade and open bag of beef jerky next to her.)

Shaw and me -- looking pretty fly.

Unfortunately, we got some weather later in the day: the wind picked up like crazy, the temperature dropped quite a bit, the rain started pelting down, and lightning definitely happened. But, we (perhaps foolishly) kept going.

This is also about the time that we started getting really, really far behind all of the other teams, about the time that only three or four other teams were at the exchange points with us. I don't think we did too horribly bad time-wise, but I definitely think we should've been in an earlier heat: it was hard to stay motivated when it was just us and it was clear that we were going to be the last team finishing.

But, we somehow kept on trucking.

My last leg was only another three miles, and I knew it could've gone one of two ways: awesomely because it is a route I run all the time (Ashworth Pool to Gray's Lake) or horribly since I had already run nearly eight miles.

That last leg was a little awesome and a lot horrible. I loved running a route that I knew, but about a mile in, my knee completely gave out. I was limping like crazy, trying to run as much as I could. But, was super tough.

I ended up finishing (barely) with a not-so-awesome time:

There was no mantra for that last leg. Instead, I kept focusing on how much my knee hurt, how badly I just wanted to be done.

I handed off the timing bracelet to Mags, and the rest of the team and I headed downtown to meet her for our last leg of the day: 0.3 miles as a team.

And we did it. It's pretty remarkable to me -- still to think about it even now -- that the seven of us ran a total of 75 miles. I mean, that's pretty unreal.

It was a super-fun day, and I am so glad we did it. I cannot wait for next year -- and will definitely train more so that we don't come in DFL.

Super pumped to take my finishers' pint glass to the after party for some free beer.

Thanks for yet another great race, Ben, Jason, and the rest of the Market to Market team!

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