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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Monday, May 12, 2014

Whole30, Take 2 (Kind Of)

Hello friends!

I apologize (again) for the irregularity of posting lately. Ever since I got back from Atlanta, it has been so hard to get into a routine -- for blogging and, more importantly, for working out and eating healthfully.

First, I have been traveling quite a bit (to Nebraska for a weekend, to Ottumwa and back one night for tennis, to Jefferson and back for a race the following weekend), so it's been tough planning meal plans and grocery lists. Second, I have been busy with tennis meets every single day after school, so cooking has been the last thing that I've wanted to do.

In actuality, those reasons are both excuses.

I could have been eating much better than I have been: I could have planned my weekly meals, I could have gone to the store, I could have cooked easy and fast things. But, I didn't.

And now I feel like crap.

So, it's time to get back to a mostly Whole30/Paleo diet.

I say mostly, though, because I know there are going to be times in the near future (as I alluded to in my last Five on Friday post) where I am going to choose to eat non-compliantly. For instance, Eric and Alicia's wedding is coming up in two weeks. Also, summer is coming, and I am going to want to have some cocktails while lounging by the pool. And, a boy is cooking me dinner on Thursday night, and I don't want to be picky.

Um, say what?!

Yes, a boy is cooking me dinner on Thursday. This is the first time in years that a boy will have cooked for me. I am stoked.

And, I'm really, really, really excited about this guy. He is so smart, he cracks me up, he is extremely thoughtful and sweet, he is pretty darn smoking hot, he is motivated and driven and successful, he is active and has varied interests, he and I share a ridiculous amount of similarities, and I could go on and on and on. I am fairly confident in saying that this was the best first date ever.

Suffice it to say that I am very hopeful, and I would appreciate it if you could all cross your fingers for me. K thanks. :)


But, let's get back to the topic at hand: Whole30.

I pretty much restarted my healthy living at dinner tonight. I had no food in my fridge this morning: literally, there were a few condiments and some cans of La Croix, but that was it. So, I went to Bruegger's and got a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast and the smoked salmon salad for lunch. So, I ate a lot of carbs and gluten today.

(And then I ate the leftover gummy bears from yesterday's race. Oops.)

But then, I went to the grocery store and spent $100 on delicious, super-healthy eats. And tonight, I cooked dinner in the first time in far too long:

I took this recipe and made a Balsamic Mustard sauce, and I took this recipe to pan-sear a ribeye. It turned out amazingly well; I'm seriously super pleased with how delicious it was.

I also sauteed some green beans in olive oil and rosemary sea salt and sided the whole meal with some fresh grapes that were oh-so tasty. And, I had a La Croix (of course).

But on that note, friends, I have to head to bed. I am still so, so tired from Market to Market on Saturday. (And speaking of M2M, expect a recap tomorrow morning!)

I hope y'all have been well!

What's the best recipe you've made recently? I'm totally looking for some inspiration.

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Friday, May 9, 2014

Five on Friday

Look! Two posts in two days! It's almost like I'm back on track with regular posting. Just you wait: give me a few more days, and I'll be back to two-a-days for y'all. You're welcome. :)

For now, though, since it's Friday, I will follow along with The Good Life BlogHello! HappinessCarolina Charm, and A. Liz Adventures for a little "Five on Friday."


Since I'm hooking you up with nothing but randomness today, make sure to hook me up with a little random from your life in the comments.


We got some weather last night! I was a smidge nervous about driving to Ottumwa (for a tennis meet) due to the weather we were supposed to be getting in Des Moines. Luckily, we made it back safe and sound, and aside from a few sprinkles right before starting the matches, Ottumwa was a-okay weather-wise.

And, we had some gorgeous views on the way home:

I wish you could've seen it in real life: this photo, even with the filters, does not do it justice.

In addition to the gorgeous views, it was a really fun trip. I absolutely love the girls, and Shaw's okay, too.


I'm not going to lie: one of the main reasons I was a bit hesitant about heading two hours away with pending storms was because of my cats.

I know: crazy-cat lady alert.

But, I was nervous for two cat reasons: first, the Today Show mentioned that Des Moines could be expecting tornadoes this evening (it's never a good thing when a national news show says that). And, I was worried that if a tornado hit Des Moines, my cats would be all by themselves, without me to cart their little butts down to the basement.

Second, one of my cats is a little weenie when it comes to storms:

Yep: the little prissy princess who likes to help me with everything cowers under the bed, in the closet, inside the couch -- pretty much wherever she can cram her tiny little body into the smallest space imaginable -- the minute thunder hits.

This one, on the other hand, could care less about storms but is absolutely certain that the vacuum cleaner (even when it's not turned on) is going to kill him:

Thankfully, both cats were fine (albeit one of them being hidden) when I got home.


Starting the Thursday before the Lincoln Half Marathon, my Whole30/Paleo plan kind of went down the toilet. (Interestingly, that happened quite literally.)

It has been so bad, in fact, that I have eaten cookies, pasta salad, cinnamon bears, pizza, and more.

And you know what? I feel absolutely awful. I feel like I weigh 400 pounds. I feel like my tummy is no longer flat. I feel like my face is poofy and no longer slim. I just feel gross.

So, on Monday I am going to for real for real start back on a Paleo plan. However, I am going to make a few exceptions with this Paleo plan. I am not going to worry about compliancy for Eric and Alicia's wedding at the end of the month, and I am not going to cut out alcohol 100%, only because I have not been over-indulging anyway. I will mostly stick to a Paleo plan -- and mostly stick to a Whole30 plan.

I just want to get back to feeling good. And good for me means taking control of my nutrition.

My new Costco purchase should help:


I have wanted this cookbook for a really long time, so when I saw it for relatively cheap at Costco, I bit the bullet and just bought it. I'm pumped to look through it and start meal-planning again.


Ironically (after discussing how Whole30/Paleo is the way for me), I just have to mention my summer drink of choice: 


Seriously, the Moscow Mule just might be the most refreshing drink in the history of ever. The mix of lime, vodka, and ginger beer is simply heavenly.

I see a lot of these happening in my future.

If anyone would like to buy me a copper mug so that I can make my own, that'd be great. K thanks.


I have a date on Sunday. I cannot even tell y'all how stoked I am about this one. We have exchanged several (thoughtfully-written, correctly-punctuated) emails and have texted back and forth a ridiculous amount in the last few days.

He is super smart and well-educated, he is driven and motivated, he is well-rounded and interesting, and he cracks me up, even just through email and text message. We share tons of similarities, so many, in fact, that it's unbelievable to both of us.

Hopefully he's pretty darn cool in person, too.

I'm trying not to get too excited about it (because, as my mom says, I love jumping into everything head-first), but let's be real: I'm really freaking excited.

Finally, I had to include a freakin' funny picture. I was searching for "first date" images and was bored by everything I saw, until I came across this one:


It absolutely cracked me up. It's not necessarily true for this date (which part is untrue? I'll leave that up to you), but I literally laughed out loud when I saw it.

So anyway, wish me luck. :)

Tell me about the best/worst date you ever had. I have some doozies -- that I'll have to save for another day. :)

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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Three Thanks

Good morning!

I apologize for the lack of posting this week, but it's been a pretty busy week, and it's been kind of tough getting back into a routine while recuperating from the Lincoln Half Marathon. However, I thought that today would be a perfect day to get back into the swing of things with Three Thanks.

Please link up with me and Aly at Here Comes Happiness to share the three things for which you are most thankful this week. And, if you don't have a blog, please share at least one piece of gratitude in the comment section below.

Also, please stop over to Aly's blog and send her some positive thoughts. She tripped while running yesterday and fractured her elbow! She is one hurting unit (who is trying to take care of a nearly five-month-old baby with one arm), and I know seeing a lot of happy, healthy, healing thoughts on her blog would make her feel just a smidge better.


I am grateful for warm weather. This week has been absolutely gorgeous.

On Tuesday, Shaw and I were outside from 3:00-4:15 for tennis practice, and then we picked up Kate and headed to the boys' soccer game, where we were outside from 5:00-6:30. And then we took advantage of the Teacher Appreciation Day deal at Chiptole (buy-one-get-one-free), and ate outside on the patio.

Yesterday, it was like July weather! The high reached the low 90s, and the humidity felt like it wasn't too far behind. It was the kind of weather where you're in a constant sweaty state. It was awesome.

And as a result of the glorious weather we've been having, I am already rocking a pretty sweet sports bra tan line. I. love. tan lines.


I am grateful for the new restaurant that opened in my neighborhood: Eatery A.


Ingersoll is my favorite neighborhood in Des Moines. Aside from it being the neighborhood in which I live, it is also full of really super-fun restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. Until recently, however, the only "classy-ish" place to eat/drink was Star Bar (which, as you know, I love).

Enter: Eatery A.

I went there for the first time last night with Emmy Jean, and I loved it. Had it not been so busy, I would've taken photos of the beautiful refurbished barn wood, the spacious patio, the eclectic fixtures and decorations, and more. In addition to the ambiance being pretty awesome, the food and drink were great, too. First, there is a killer happy hour from 3-6 p.m. every day -- seven days a week. During happy hour, pizzas, draft beers, and wines are half off. This means that you can get a pizza for $5, a beer for $2.50, and a glass of wine for $3.50. Yes, please.

We opted for the fig and prosciutto pizza (omg), and I had a Moscow Mule (not on happy hour but on my list of cravings). Both were amazing.

I can already tell that this will be a regular hangout for me.


I am grateful for the thoughtfulness of students.

Three years ago, I had a student in class with whom I strongly connected -- or, to put it more accurately, who strongly connected with me. She had a lot of issues and, essentially, just needed someone to listen to her. Basically, over the course of the next couple of years, she became like a little sister to me -- one who made me angry and frustrated a whole heck of a lot, but one for whom I cared unconditionally.

In October 2011, when I ran my first half marathon, this particular student surprised me by standing at the finish line. I totally broke down in tears when I saw her. Shortly thereafter, she made me a beautiful gift in art class:

It is a box (obviously), but it's decorated beautifully and so incredibly thoughtfully. The lid and the sides are a mosaic of glass shards and beads, and the top has purple (my favorite color) pieces of glass that form a large E. The side panels of the box have inspirational quotes mod-podged onto them. And the inside lid, as you can see, is absolutely beautiful. "And miles to go before I sleep" is a line from one of my favorite poems, a line that I hope to have tattooed on my foot at some point in the near future.

As you can see, I keep all of my race memorabilia -- aside from my medals -- in this box. It is packed to the brim with race bibs and more.

On Sunday, I texted this student and told her how I loved this box, how I still used it, how I still remembered her standing at the finish line of that first race. She responded such a thoughtful message: "Aww, this is the sweetest text I've ever gotten! You are so nice! :) Just remember I'm always with you during every race cheering you on even when I'm not actually there! I'm so proud of you and I love that you still use that box! Miss you! :)"

It's a good reminder that while teachers are supposed to be making an impact on students' lives, students make such a huge impact on ours.

For what are you especially grateful today?

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Lincoln Half Marathon Race Recap

As I mentioned last night, we had a 4:00 a.m. wake-up call on Sunday morning.

Let's talk about why we opted for such an early rising for a 7:00 a.m. start time. First, Lincoln is about 45 minutes from Omaha, and we were unsure of the traffic situation in downtown Lincoln, near the start of the race. Second, we wanted enough time to digest our food, poop it all out (I apologize to all of you non-runners who read this blog, but runners like to talk about the gross reality of the sport), and get in as much last-minute hydration as possible.

It turns out that we could've slept in a bit longer: even though the race started at 7:00 a.m., my corral didn't end up crossing the start line until about 7:49 a.m. That was a lot of standing around in the cold.

But, in that time I was able to have some pre-race poopies (in the field house, not the porta-potties), which was nice.

You're welcome.

Around 6:30, we decided to head outside and scope out the starting area.

We were so far back in the corrals that we actually had to turn a corner before lining up.

We listened to the National Anthem (and got a bit teary), an invocation (first race I've been to where that happened), a cannon to signify the start of the race, and lots and lots and lots of witty remarks by the announcer -- as we waited nearly an hour to get the heck out of the corrals.

Good thing there was ample time for pre-race selfies.

I was going to listen to my pre-race get-focused playlist (more on that at a later date), but instead, I found myself chatting up the people around me. I was in a group of first-time marathoners, and they were all super nervous. It was awesome hearing them talk about the marathon -- and being able to reassure them that they would do great, that it is such a great accomplishment regardless of time, etc. It made me super pumped for them. I hope their races went well.

Finally, I turned the corner!
Getting closer!

Finally, at 7:49 a.m., I was off.

I had my beats bumpin', my Garmin going, and iSmoothRun telling me when to run and walk. And interestingly, I ignored iSmoothRun for quite a while -- 3.5 miles to be exact. I just felt so good.

For quite a long time (up until the first water stop, actually), I was with the 2:25 pace group -- and, I was feeling good with the 2:25 pace group. After huffing and puffing up a little hill, though, I decided that if I wanted to keep feeling good, I should probably start occasional one-minute walk breaks. So, I did. But, I did not walk every time that iSmoothRun told me to; instead, I gauged how I was feeling and responded appropriately. And that worked very well.

Around mile four, I felt a pretty sweet blister starting to develop on my left arch. I could tell that it was going to be quite the doozy since I had to run another nine miles on it, but I kept on truckin', knowing that if I stopped to treat it in anyway, getting my shoe back on was going to be quite the disaster.

I knew that my family (my dad, my brother, my sister-in-law, and my nephew) was going to be cheering at mile five, so I ran quite a while from miles four to five so that I could look strong and amazing when I saw them.

Pic stolen from Aly @ Here Comes Happiness

Unfortunately, they weren't right at mile five and were in fact about half a mile later. I spent that time feeling very annoyed, thinking that I missed them or that they missed me. Then, when I saw them, I got super excited (and likely cut off 18 runners trying to get over to say hi).

Pic stolen from Aly @ Here Comes Happiness

There's not much better than seeing your loved ones on the sideline of a race. I am so incredibly thankful for them.

I also have to say that the crowd support on the Lincoln course was quite possibly the best of any race that I have ever run.

First, there was not one spot on the course that was not lined with people. And absolutely everyone was cheering, often using individuals' names since they were printed boldly on our bibs. Because it was the National Guard Marathon, there were many uniformed men and women along the route, and each time I saw them, I got a little emotional. (Race days are killers for those darn tear ducts, I tell you!)

Second, the spectators were so kind: people had everything from Kleenex to Vaseline to water (between water stops) to oranges. It was so much appreciated.

Third, there were some amazing signs: "Smile if you're not wearing underwear" may have been my favorite. Another sign that followed said, "Or swap it out here" and had about five pairs of whitie-tighties taped to it.

But I digress. Let's get back to me running. :)

After I saw the fam, I headed down a bike trail. Here, a man in front of me took a nasty spill, likely due to walkers.

I need to get on a little tangent here. I love marathon walkers: my mom and my sister are marathon walkers, and I am so incredibly proud of them. And, I know that they have race etiquette. There were so many walkers on this course that walked right in the middle of the road as opposed to on the right side, so runners were constantly having to dart between them. There were also many walkers who walked two or three across so that it was very difficult to pass them, especially in a narrow area like the bike path. (There were two that walked two-across but with one just a bit in front of the other so that it was nearly impossible to get around them.) And third, there were several people who were doing a run/walk like I was but who would stop in the middle of the road/crowd to walk.

This is not okay!

And, I'm pretty sure this is why the poor old man stumbled: he likely tripped over a walker. Anyway, he had a couple of people assisting him, and I ran ahead to get a police officer.

And this leads me to my only other complaint about the Lincoln Half Marathon: there was not a lot of course support. There were a few cyclists, but not too many, and none offered to help runners (at least that I saw); in Des Moines, cyclists often ride next to runners to ask if there is anything they need (Kleenex, Ibuprofen, ice, candy, etc.). The water stops in Lincoln were great -- tons of tables at each one -- but there were not enough. For instance, the first water stop was not until mile three, and there were stops about every 2-2.5 miles thereafter. It'd be nice if there were fewer tables but more stops.

While I was on the bike trail, I passed a man who was wearing a t-shirt that said, "For this race, I'm carrying so-and-so (likely someone who had passed away). We all carry something. Who are you carrying?" The emotions were already running rampant, and that sentiment really got to me.

Shortly before mile ten, my iPhone decided to completely shut off. So, I lost my iSmoothRun stats, my music died, and it totally broke my rhythm. I finally got it to turn back on, but like I said, my rhythm was shot.

At this point I was walking quite a bit more than at the beginning, too.

But, luckily I was on a running stretch when I saw the fam again:

Pic stole from Aly @ Here Comes Happiness

All I remember saying at this point was, "I don't like Gatorade right now. All I want is water." Why I felt the need to share that with them, I don't know. But it was true: Gatorade made me want to puke.

That last 5k was really, really hard. I was mentally beat, and my blister was pretty much raging. But, around mile 11.5, one of my super great friends from kindergarten through high school ran into me. Becki and her friend and I ran together off and on for a little over a mile, and it was so nice to catch up with her and to have some company on the run. Thank you, Becki!

During that last 5k, I also passed a Native American man who was holding up a sign that said, "Remember the Trail of Tears. You can do this" (or something to that effect). Again, I got quite emotional and kept on trucking.

Finally, I approached Memorial Stadium, home of the Huskers. The finish line at the Lincoln Half Marathon is pretty amazing:

Yep, the 50-yard line of the field -- with your picture broadcast hugely on HuskerVision. However, I was too delirious to really appreciate this fact at the time.

I was so delirious, in fact, that I didn't really realize I was done running. I stopped across the finish line and really felt like I was not done yet, that I still had more to go.


After I finished being crazy, however, it was hard not to get emotional for the bazillionth time that day. The patriotism was running rampant: it was nearly impossible to not be a proud American at this event. The field was lined with huge American flag, and there were military men and women everywhere -- they lined the chute, too, which made me super emotional (and, despite being utterly out of breath, I was sure to thank each and every one of them on my way to the finish).

I tried to find my family, but they were stuck in traffic, so I sat down on the sideline and stretched for a bit before leaving the stadium.

Oh, and of course I had to take a finisher's selfie:

This is the first Mylar blanket I've gotten after a race. Those things sure make a difference.

Finally, I reunited with the spectators:

Pic stolen from Aly @ Here Comes Happiness
I finally have a picture with my sister-in-law, which means I can stop stealing them from her Facebook page whenever I talk about her! Now we just need one where one of us is not covered in sweat.

We cheered my mom and my sister across the finish line, and then we all headed back to Aly's parents' house for a hot shower and an amazing brunch spread. (Thank you so much, Lucy, for such a wonderful post-race gathering! It was so greatly appreciated!)

My official time was 2:45:20, just 36 seconds off of a PR. Considering I was sorely underprepared for this particular race, I am not disappointed in the least. I know that I will be much more prepared for Dam to Dam (at the end of May), the Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon (at the end of July), and for sure the Des Moines Half Marathon (at the end of October). I'm hoping I can hit 2:30 at one of those.

But, like I said, I'm so very proud of my Lincoln race. I pretty much kicked its ass.

And, now let's talk about that blister, shall we? (Warning: graphic pictures ahead.)

Here's what I looked like at school yesterday (and what I'm planning on looking like at school today):

Not so bad, right? Well, that is until I noticed later in the day that I was both oozing and bleeding through my bandage (zinc oxide covered by gauze held together by pre-wrap).

When I got home, I saw the disaster that was underneath:

Yep. That'll be fun to run 10+ miles on this Saturday.

But you know what? It's a battle wound -- and I totally earned it.

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