Tuesday, August 26, 2014

22 Weeks and Definitely Counting

I'm 22 weeks pregnant tomorrow and I'm already impatient with this whole pregnancy thing.  Which is horrible and ungrateful and I'm working on changing my attitude from one of complaining to one of gratefulness and joy.  Is it all just hormones?  I have no idea how much they play into this. Supposedly a lot, but I don't like using hormones as an excuse for bad behavior or bad thinking.

I'm tired of being tired. I wish I could stop fixating on it and just be.  I'm working on that too.  I have no idea if I'm bigger or smaller or just the same as my last pregnancy, I'm not sure how my exercise and running is stacking up, and I'm not sure why I have to fixate on that either. I am slowly (but hopefully surely) letting go of mileage goals and turning them into time goals. I'm trying to focus on time spent exercising instead of reaching a certain amount of miles and being content with what I get. That's hard when my workouts have always been mileage driven. Watching my weekly totals dwindle (even for a really good reason) is not always easy.

I don't like gaining weight. I wish I could do it all gracefully, but I hate it.  Friends and family tell me I'm small and cute, but it is so hard to hear what they say and believe it.  When I look in the mirror I do NOT see small and cute. I see a tired old chubby lady. An ungrateful one, at that (which certainly doesn't add beauty to the current situation).

So. Deep breath.  I'm changing my mind about all of this. Starting now. Remember that song by Sister Hazel, "If you wanna be somebody else, change your mind.  oooooo yeeeeaaaah..."  That's what I'm doing and I know I can count on my amazing God to help me. He has given me so much and I don't want to be a sour old pregnant lady. I want to be a joyful old pregnant lady who looks forward to another precious little one. And I do. When I start to really think about what I'm getting out of all of this, it really is quite amazing and quite worth it. And when I take my eyes off myself and look around, I see women wanting to be pregnant who can't. I see women having much harder pregnancies than I can imagine. And I am reminded to be grateful to be healthy and happy and having another little one to add to our family.

I've started another 1000 Gifts list to help me focus on my blessings. I want spend more time in prayer about the things that are bothering me than whining about them to Jason or my mom and sister. They are great listeners and supporters, but lack the power to help the situation like God can. I saw something on Facebook the other day that read, "Have you prayed about it as much as you've talked about it?" and I thought, "Nope. Not at all."

Other than the usual pregnancy fun, I'm doing great. And Eloise is so much fun and such a hoot.  I love being her mama. There are, of course, hard parenting days where I wonder if I'm doing any good at all, but then I see the little proofs that a difference is being made. And it is quite wonderful.  As is pregnancy if I look for it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Spring, Summer, and Big News

Good morning, friends!  It has been a while!  I have intended to sit down and write a spell a thousand times and every time (until now) I've spent those moments doing something else. Back when I was a working woman, I used to think when I stayed home with my kids I'd have SO much more time to write. I'd be a writing fiend. And now... now I laugh.  I had lunch breaks at work!  Now I have nap breaks but I usually use those to clean, workout or nap.

Let's do a little recapping.  Spring leading into summer was wonderful.  Many fun races, good half-marathon times, planting flowers and veggies outside with my girl, trying new recipes, hanging out with family and friends, discovering the local splash pads, building a new swing set, raising butterflies, making cookies, and the list of fun goes on.  Everything seems exciting with a 1.5 year old who is doing so much of it for the first time and who is so very curious and interested in it all. It makes me feel like a kid too as I watch her play, explore, discover, make huge messes, laugh, run, jump, and learn.

Splash pad love. This girl can ROCK the splash pad!

Picking strawberries...okay, I was picking, she was sampling.

Jason and my dad built Eloise this swing set in our backyard. It has been a HIT ever since!

The last time I wrote in April, we were in the midst of all of it. I had just run the Seaside Half-marathon, finishing in 1:48 and I was on to Scottsboro in April and then Bridgestreet in May.  I had planned to take a minute off of each race and I succeeded in Scottsboro. It was hilly and rained on us the entire time, but I had a good run, finishing in 1:47 and winning first place in my age group.  Bridge street was in May and I was on target for my 1:46.  My PR was a 1:44, but I thought it too soon to make that big of a leap. Well, not only did I not leap to my PR, I leaped 9 minutes backward, finishing in 1:53.  I was so aggravated!  I knew I was trained, I knew I was ready!  The course was flat, the day was warm, but not too bad...  And it was in my hometown!  I knew it was all just a part of running and racing, and I knew I needed to let it go, but it took me a while.

And that seemed odd. Not only had I fallen apart in a race where I should have done well, I was overly upset about it.  The next day I made myself run sub 8 pace on the treadmill as a sort of... punishment...?  Now, I love running, training, setting and reaching goals as much as the next runner, but I'm usually able to have a moment of disappointment, shrug my shoulders and move on.  But this time I was frustrated!  Angry!  And I couldn't understand why I hadn't been able to make my 1:46 time.

Well. I got my answer a few weeks later when I took a little pregnancy tests.  Positive!  Of course, in the half marathon it was just a wee little tiny spec, but it was there. Or should I say HE was there.  Yep.  We are expecting a baby boy in December. I AM SO EXCITED!  I can hardly stand myself, I am so excited.  Secretly I had hoped the reason for my slow half marathon would be a baby, but I didn't want to get my hopes up. I actually took a pregnancy test too early and it was negative. But all the symptoms were there. Not only was the half marathon slow and hard, ALL of my runs were. Maybe once a week I'd have a good run, but most were slogs.  I was hoping, but not daring to hope too much.

Jason knew all along. He even knew when the first test was negative.

We succeeded in keeping it a secret until that first 8 week appointment (where I was actually 9 weeks). After that we told our families and once I reached the second trimester, we told close friends and then anyone.  I'm almost 18 weeks now and I'm starting to show a little. I feel good mostly, and I'm glad the morning yuckies are gone. I never really got sick, but I usually felt yucky after eating breakfast each day.

Beach trip/work trip with Jason at 13.5 weeks preg

I had some good runs though!  We ran several races in which I did well and it was fun being the only one to know I was running with a little passenger. We ran a 4 mile race in Fayetteville, which was so gorgeous and fun.  I pushed Eloise in the stroller and it was HILLY!  Crazy hilly.  But I managed 4th female overall and 1st in my age group (it wasn't a super big race, but still.  A pregnant, stroller pushing win is a win!).


We ran two 10 milers, both in June.  The RC Cola Moonpie in Bell Buckle and the Firecracker Chase in Fayetteville. I won first in my age group in the Firecracker Chase, which was a huge surprise. I was taking it super easy in the heat, just enjoying being able to run 10 miles and feel good doing it. We ran the Firecracker 5k here in Huntsville on July 4th and I pushed Eloise in the stroller. We announced that day we were pregnant.

Just a family of 4 having fun on the 4th!

These races would be fun to recap, but for now I'll have to settle with a few pictures and a brief summary.  I can't believe it is almost August.  My girl will be turning 2 on the first and we are planning a little family cookout to celebrate. I'm looking forward to summer ending and cooler temps arriving so I don't have to get up so early to get in the miles (that is getting harder!), but I also don't want to wish away these golden summer days with just me and my girl. She is a hoot, and she brings me joy and laughter every day.  I'm pretty sure I have never done anything so satisfyingly wondering in this life as be her mama. And to be blessed with another little one of our own...well, I am so hugely grateful every day for such a gift.

That's all for now, my friends!  I'm going to try to be a bit more regular with my writing, but we shall see how that goes. Have a GREAT day!


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Jogging Stroller Races and Records

There's been a lot of racing going on this spring, since the Seaside half-marathon!  While the weather has been a little crazy with the back and forth of cold and warm, we've managed to have some great days for racing mixed in, and my little girl got to participate as well.

Jason and I participated in two 5ks in March, the first of which was the UAH Shamrock 5k on his birthday!  This was a small, laid back, community event to support abused children.  Jogging strollers were welcomed, so we took ours along with us and I pushed Eloise in the race.  Well, I got a jogging stroller PR with a 25:35!  I realized I was on target after the first mile (which was mostly downhill) and so I tried to really push the rest of the way.  It was a sunny but cool day and Eloise was trooper.  She pointed out the ducks and a dog that was also in the race.  She occasionally said, "Weeeee!" causing any runners in front of us to glance back to see the source of that funny sound.  Many people cheered us on as we ran and Jason came back to get us about half a mile out.  He offered to take the stroller, but I told him I had to run the whole way with it. So he ran beside us and taught Eloise to say, "Goooo Mama!" (which she now says all the time at random moments even when we aren't running).

I was excited about my finish time and Jason ran a good race as well.  I think he finished in 17 minutes or something crazy like that.  We followed up our birthday race with a birthday donut from Dunkin Donuts, and I got in 5 more miles later that afternoon.

The next weekend we ran the Lead Me to the Cross 5k to support a dear friend and the local fire department.  I was aiming for another jogging stroller PR, planning to push hard from the beginning, but I met with some obstacles.  First of all, this race was much bigger than the Shamrock, so the start line was really crowded. When running with the jogging stroller, I always try to be super courteous and not get in other runners' way, so I stayed behind runners until an opening appeared instead of the usual weaving in and out until the crowd thins.  It got sort of annoying at times because runners would run side by side all the way across the road, but the road eventually widened and I was able to pass them.

rounding a corner in the last mile (I think)

 This course was also HILLY!  And usually I try not to let hills slow me down too much, but when pushing a stroller with a 25 lb baby in it... that is harder to do! I gave it all I had, though, and finished in 25:55.  Only 20 seconds slower than Shamrock, so not too bad!  

I had one guy say as I passed him in the race that it wasn't fair I had help. I thought he was joking until he came up to me after the race and said (with a smile, but still) that I cheated having all that "propulsion" in front of me... WHAT?  I smiled at him and just laughed, but I wanted to offer him a mile behind the stroller to feel the benefits of all this propulsion he thinks I had.  I think it might have been sour grapes because he got passed by the stroller lady or he's just... well... dumb.

Jason duked it out with a 12-year-old who beat him by 2 seconds. They finished in 17 something and the 12 year old set a state record for his age and in the 5k. 


It was an exciting finish for race supporters, and we had a good laugh about it when one of my friends said it was so nice of Jason to "let the kid win."  That's not how Jason runs.  No mercy!  But we had a blast running this 5k and seeing so many friends out there too!

Our team!  Everyone in this pick one an award (except for me).  ;)

Two great 5ks in two weekends, and we had a blast!  I love easy-going race atmospheres where they welcome jogging strollers. It allows Jason and I to both participate with no baby sitters or organizing schedules. We just hop in the car with our bright yellow stroller and our girl, and we run! 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Delight, Trust, and Pay Attention

A few days ago I caught sight of the 30/30 Challenge by Joyce Meyer.  I have never read any of her books or participated in her devotionals, but my heart was immediately drawn to the challenge to study my Bible for 30 minutes a day for 30 days and see what God would tell me.

The reason I wanted to start this study was because I was feeling like a bad friend.  It is so easy for me to forget the world around me, to lose focus on people in my life, and to focus only on what is immediately before me (usually Eloise and running).  I am not sure if that is my introverted-ness, laziness, or just part of being a mom, but it isn't good.  It is selfish and self-centered.  Relationships need to be nurtured.  Friendships require attention.  Same with my relationship with my Lord.  And I knew I was falling short.

I started my study in Proverbs because I remembered a verse in there about being a friend.  I used Jason's Bible because mine was in the car.  I found an unused journal and began my study, believing I knew what God would show me and that it would be related to what was currently on my mind.

Well, I'm on day 3 now, and while the Lord did get around to addressing my weakness, He did not start there.  He started by giving me a word each time I opened my Bible.  The first word was, "delight."  My study in Proverbs 1 and 2 led me to Psalms 1:16 - "his delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night."  Proverbs 2 said I should look for his word as I would for silver and hidden treasure.  I should seek him with all of my heart and delight in him and in his word. I should, quite possibly, delight in him MORE than my training, my workout routine, my fitness or a race PR...

In my next study God told me to trust.  And that was the word he gave me.  Trust. Proverbs 3:4-5 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.  Verses 23-26 of that chapter spoke to me also, and to the fears I have had for a long time.  "Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble.  When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.  Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be your confidence." I am to trust in my Lord because he is my confidence.  I never realized just how powerful a request that would be until I had Eloise.

And today my words were to, "Pay Attention."  It was a loving rebuke and it dealt with the feelings I had when I started the study.  In Proverbs 4 it says, "Pay attention and gain understanding... pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words... guard your heart..."  These phrases jabbed me in the ribs a little and so did the study in Jason's Bible that corresponded with that chapter.  It said we should live a "thoughtful life."  We should pay attention to our spiritual health, our relationships, our passion for the Lord.  These things require focus and attention, and I knew it was this I lacked.  I knew it when I started the study.

It is so easy to look at myself sometimes and say, "Well, that's just the way I am."  I'm an introvert.  I'm not crazy about people because they complicate my life.  It's okay not to have a lot of friends.  They probably don't need me, they have plenty of friends already.  I don't have the right words to say to help them... And blah blah blah, the list of excuses and reasons not to try goes on and on, convincing me I'm just fine the way I am.  Words like "selfish" and "self-centered" aren't welcomed into my descriptions because they aren't desirable or acceptable when claiming to follow Christ.

I'm not sure why it took a 30/30 challenge to get my attention, but I am thankful I started this and I don't intend to conclude it in 30 days.  I intend to make it a habit.  I intend to yearn for it like I do for a good run, for a quiet moment, for sleep, for food.  I intend to fill up on God's word and to put spiritual health above all other forms of it.  In several places in Proverbs, I have read how God's wisdom is "health to the body."  It makes me smile.  It is what I have been seeking, only I haven't been looking in all the right areas.

Join me!  Give this a shot.  I'm only on day 3 and I have already been so blessed!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring is Here!

Spring has always been my favorite.  I love all the green coming back into the world, the warmth after so much cold, shopping at local nurseries for all the plants and flowers I'm going to enjoy all spring and summer.  And these days, spring seems even sweeter now that I have Eloise. That girl LOVES to be outside and LOVES to explore nature, and with these warmer days finally upon us, we do just that every day.  Whether we play in my sadly naked (for now) back yard, go for walks in the neighborhood, play at a park, visit my sister's... we spend a good portion of the day outside and she loves it.

Playing outside in shorts for the first time!



I've been eying our raised bed, day dreaming of vegetables we will plant.  I've been envisioning hanging pots overflowing with flowers, and planting parsley and cilantro to welcome the caterpillars back so we can watch them cocoon and become butterflies.  My knock-out roses are showing new growth, my pansies have finally had a chance to bloom after all the snow and ice this winter.  My naked front porch begs for geraniums and marigolds...

Yes, this girl is ready for spring!  And Easter... just don't get me started!  I LOVE Easter!  It is my favorite of all the holidays and I always want a baby bunny around this time of year. Seems like everyone should celebrate with a baby bunny... but few seem to share my view, although I bet Eloise would be on board. 

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Let me update you on the previous blog post... 40 Bags in 40 Days was a fail by day 2.  Ha!  However!  I HAVE been cleaning out drawers and getting my nicer things ready to give away to a local Helping Hands. The not nice things (like Jason's shirts with holes in them that he tries to wear to work), went into the trash.  I can successfully open and close my winter and summer running drawers.  My closet... it still needs some time, but I'm getting there.  It may sound odd, but I like everything inside my home to be neat and tidy when I start working outside.  So while I have not done a bag a day, I have been working on that project since I mentioned it.

Operation Hot Body is still going, albeit slowly.  I had to take a few days after the first "Ripped in 30" workouts to recover because I was soooooo sore.  I can't decide if the point is to do the workout the very next day anyway, or if it is smarter to let sore muscles heal before tearing them up again... so I went with the latter.  I'd prefer to err on the more conservative side and live to workout/run/wrestle Eloise another day.  I have gotten to the point now, though, where I can do the workouts consecutive days... but that's just week 1.

It has taken me a week and a half to get through Week 1 of her 4 week workout series... and I'll admit, I'm comfortable now with Week 1 and I'd kind of like to stay there.  But week 2 is next!  Possibly today!  I'm afraid!

Training is going well!  I'm still hanging in with my speed workouts and I feel stronger on my runs.  I'm doing less mileage, but it is all a bit faster except for my easier days with my girls.  I'm training for a 1:46 half in April but... that is the reasonable goal.  But who likes to stay reasonable all the time?

Until next time, my friends!  And Happy Spring!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Decluttering, Simplifying, and Operation Hot Body

Now that the Seaside Half Marathon is behind me (amazing weekend, 1:48:52 finish, wonderful family time, my girl loves the beach, etc.), I am ready for the next thing and that is what I have (somewhat jokingly) named Operation Hot Body.  What that means is I'm going to quit being a mileage junkie.  It is time to improve my fitness by doing other things.  And this time I'm serious.  Seriously serious.

I had a conversation with myself the other day.  I asked myself, "What do you REALLY WANT out of all this?"  So I thought about it.  And here is the honest truth.  I like running. In fact, I love it.  But more than a personal record in some distance, more than winning my age group, more than running another ultra, I want to FEEL GOOD and LOOK GOOD.  That's it.  Being a mom and homemaker and wife is what I'm in to these days. I want to feel good enough to crawl around on the floor, wrestle and tickle my baby girl, hunt for toys under the furniture, keep a clean house (more on that in a sec), read 25 books in a row, play in the backyard for hours, chase butterflies and baby bunnies, and do yard work.  Sure, running gives me energy for all those things, but on days when I am stiff and sore and creaky I have to ask myself if it is giving me what I REALLY WANT? 

So I'm going after what I really want, which is a hot and happy body.

Now for the decluttering.  I'm going to try this thing I saw on the White House, Black Shutters blog.  It is called 40 Bags in 40 Days and it is a way to declutter (my spell check says that is not a word) and simplify one's home.  I don't think mine is super out of hand, but that doesn't mean it couldn't use this treatment.  And I probably won't take pictures every day and document everything like the blogger who came up with it, but I want to give the 40 day challenge a shot.  Want to join me?  I'll try to status here how its going.

And now to the simplifying. I haven't given this much thought, but then again I have.  Today my last active client with Running Start, LLC finished her training. She's working with a personal trainer and wants to continue that route.  And I must admit, getting to workout and train with someone in person is probably better than what I'm currently offering.

When I started my business, I was working full time and I wasn't a mom. I didn't want to sit behind a desk anymore, I wanted to work in the fitness industry.  Now that I am a full time mom, it has at times been hard to be there for my clients in the way I wanted to be.  I also continue to doubt my knowledge, to change my mind, to experiment with running and training theories and what I think about it... and I'm not sure that makes for a good coach. Seems like most of the coaches I know, know where they stand on all (or most) things running and coach accordingly. I just feel I still have so much left to learn.

I would consider my coaching a success in that all the runners I trained who followed their plans achieved their goals and then some.  They continue to run and they love it.  That was my purpose.  Those who didn't try or who quit were frustrating to me and I felt I had somehow failed them.  I just couldn't figure out what more I could have done, but thankfully there weren't very many of those.

All that said, I'm pretty sure I've decided to dissolve Running Start.  I'm a little sad about that, but not much.  Maybe one day when my kids are grown I can return to it, but now is not that time.  I want to focus on my family and growing it.  I want to focus on my own running and fitness.  I want to continue to learn about it, and experiment.  In the mean time, I am still teaching the Walk/Jog/Run course at UAH which I LOVE, and I think I will work on my ACE certifications so maybe I can teach a few classes at the local YMCA.

Once I acknowledged the desire to dissolve, I felt content with it.  This is all from today, so I haven't taken any action yet, but I'm pretty sure I will.  I like the thought of simplifying my life a little, taking out what doesn't fit right now and keeping all the things that do.  I have tried to take the words "Know thyself" seriously the past few years and to let myself be who I really am.  To let myself like what I like, to let myself do what I love and to really acknowledge what that is.  I'd like to let God do His thing too.  I have a feeling I've been in the way of that as well.  But enough for now.  I've got to go fill my 1st bag. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Overcomer

Back in November I went to a Toby Mac concert with my sister and my niece.  I'm not really a concert person, but when I saw who all would be performing, I was pumped.  I love Toby Mac and I LOVE Mandisa. Before the concert I only knew a few of her songs and that she was on American Idol at some point.  Now I follow her on Facebook and I am regularly encouraged by what she has to say and by who she is.

My favorite favorite favorite song of hers was/is Overcomer and I listened to it often while training for and running the 50 miler in November.  God has been so good to me (why, I'm not sure) and I have not had to really overcome much in my 34 years of life so far.  But as many of you running moms know, getting back into running after having a child is not easy. I enjoyed the challenge, but it was tough and I wondered (and still do) if I'd ever be the runner I was before having Eloise.  Not that I was amazing or anything, but I'd worked hard to get where I was, and after pregnancy, recovery and motherhood... I just wasn't sure how in the world I'd get back there.  I still wonder.

So I approached the 50 miler never really believing I was trained, never being quite sure I could do it, doubting and telling myself untruths like, "You just aren't that kind of runner anymore, Jane."  But I did it.  And I didn't do half bad!

Then a month later came the Rocket City Marathon.  I signed up to run this race with my friend, Shannon, who was aiming for a 4:15.  Well... I was not recovered and Shannon had trained for a much faster marathon than what she'd first predicted.  But I wanted to be true to my word so on race day, I showed up ready to run with my friend.  At mile 16 she left me, as I told her she must if I couldn't keep up.  And then I had 10 lonely miles of tired legs and that little voice telling me, "You haven't trained for this.  You shouldn't be doing it.  You aren't this kind of runner anymore.  You are slow."  Etc. Etc. Etc.

So I replaced that little voice with the words of Mandisa's song, Overcomer.

"The same man, the Great I AM, the One who overcame death - He's living inside of you.  So just hold tight, fix your eyes on the one who holds your life. There's nothing He can't do..."

"Don't quit, don't give in, you're an overcomer.  Don't quit don't give in, you're an overcomer."  

"You're an overcomer.  Stay in the fight till the final round.  You're not going under..."

Sometimes I shake my head and think, "God doesn't care about your silly marathon time.  He's got starving, abused children to take care of!"  But His word tells me that He does and to bring it all to Him.  So I quieted all the doubt with this wonderful song and I finished that marathon strong.  It wasn't an impressive time and it wasn't a personal record, but because I knew how I felt out there and what I'd overcome, I was very happy with it.  And grateful.

That song was my theme for those months of training and racing and doubting and striving.  And any time those voices show up again, I play that song in my head or in my ears.  Being an overcomer isn't always about running, but because I am a runner I have seen that I can overcome.  I can overcome physical discomfort and distress, I can overcome the weather, I can overcome the desire to quit, I can overcome weariness.  So when those voices tell me other things like, "You aren't a very good friend.  You probably shouldn't have another child because you are too selfish.  You are so uninteresting, what could you possibly have to say?  You aren't devoted enough.  Go ahead and have another brownie. You are too tired today...."  I remind myself that I am an overcomer, with the Spirit of the One who overcame the world living in me.   And there's NOTHING He can't do!

I don't know Mandisa personally, but I love that girl.  Here's her song if you haven't heard it.  I guarantee you'll feel like conquering something if you give it a listen (or dancing or both).  Even if that something is just the dishes or the laundry or forgiving someone or being patient in traffic.  You're an overcomer too.