Saturday, December 31, 2011

Out with the Old

It’s after 10 pm on the last day of the year – Saturday, December 31, 2011.  Facebook and Twitter are BLOWING UP with new year well wishes, resolutions and thanks that 2012 is around the corner.  Apparently, 2011 was a terrible year for people.  I didn’t have a bad year, but it definitely had it’s ups and downs.  I watched my husband and friends complete a Tough Mudder with a determination in their eyes – a deep look I had never seen from any of them; I gave birth to my second angel, thought to be a boy in utero, but proved everyone wrong.  I enjoyed a wonderful summer off of work and handled myself well when going back.  I almost lost a person so very dear to me.  That entire experience seriously put me in check while it knocked the wind out of me. 

As we turn the calendar on another year it’s customary for people to evaluate the immediate past and look towards change in the near future.  It’s the time for resolutions which are typically ridiculous expectations aimed at failure.  Most resolutions focus on some aspect of healthy living, whether it’s losing weight or eating better.  Of course, I have these resolutions.  I don’t jot them down because they generally become the framework to my lifestyle.  They’re a part of me.  This year, this coming year in about 90 minutes, I decided to do something different.  I WILL jot down a few resolutions.  Here goes:

Listen to more Foo Fighters – I had the opportunity to see them this year.  Watching the documentary pretty much sealed the deal that they’re my second favorite band.  Must hear more.

Watch more movies – I don’t really watch newly released movies anymore.  Most movies I want to see aren’t child appropriate, so when the kiddies go to bed I don’t have enough energy left to get through a half hour.  Maybe I’ll go to the theater once, too.  Haven’t seen a movie there since August 2007. 

Make a quilt – I’d like to take some of my race shirts and make a tee shirt quilt.  Sounds cool, but I’m not crafty.  AT ALL.  I don’t hem pants, stitch up holes or even iron well.  It’s time to do something out of my comfort zone.  I’ll start with a quilt. 

Read a book that has nothing to do with running – I like to read.  I like running.  I like to read about running.  I should probably change it up.  I charged my husband with buying me a non-running book. 

Write more – I like this blogging thing.  I should do it more often.

Breathe more.

Sleep more. 

Love more.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tis the Season for a Challenge

Each year that passes yields another twelve months of good intentions.  Thanksgiving approaches with a focus on family, friends and humbling offerings.  Most of us cheer the high life and vow to not take anything for granted.  A few days pass and this mantra fades only to be rejuvenated mid-December as Christmas quickly descends upon us.  Again, we hope to live up to the hype of generous, selfless giving, but we're swept up in the unbelievable holiday sales; we spoil ourselves and our children instead of paying mind to the true spirit of the season.  It's a vicious cycle that kicks off every year.  
Now, too, is the time where we shift our attention to the gluttonous behavior that tipped the scales and left us feeling lethargic.  We are aware that these holiday's bring family and friends together with food...and lots of it.  Work parties, happy hours, brunches and early buffet style dinners litter our calendar.  We are aware that most people, indulging at these social events, pack on a few pounds within a two week period.  But, alas, we continue to belly up.  I'm not writing to preach.  I camped out with a pint of Karamel Sutra just the other night (ahem, but I didn't eat the whole thing - teehehe).  A wise doctor once told me that an occasional indulgence is okay, if not healthy.  Sure, I'll buy that for a dollar!  
As another year comes to a close we're immediately smacked in the face by reality.  The reality is that we didn't take care of ourselves, nor did we accomplish everything we thought.  The close of 2011 shouldn't be a time to focus on perceived failure, rather, these last few days give us the opportunity to start fresh and move forward.  There's no looking back.  The past is just that.Twenty-twelve gives us a clean slate to challenge ourselves whether we hope to lose weight, eat less fast food or focus on family.  I said it before: This is an opportunity; don't let it pass you by.  Before you know it, Thanksgiving will be around the corner.  

Monday, December 26, 2011

Stupid app

I wrote this awesome blog only to have this crap app erase it. - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Summer I Lost My Best Friends

If I didn’t write it, I definitely said it: music is my foundation.  Music played a huge role in forming who I am, good or bad.  Most anyone can relate to a song or album bringing back memories, again, good or bad.  Just last week, with my music collection on shuffle, I happened upon a song that brought back memories from the summer of 1995.  Ah, summer.

I graduated from a local high school in 1995, WITHOUT honors.  I begged my parents to let me go to Senior Week in Ocean City, Maryland.  Begged is probably a tame word for the shenanigans I was demonstrating.  Within hours of my Mom reluctantly granting her permission I hurriedly packed and waited for my girlfriends.  The week was eventful, but too much unnecessary detail for this blog.  The trip ended with some drama and a near tragedy that left the four hour car ride home full of sarcasm, gossip and spite (if I remember correctly…I was on some prescription narcotics for the pain).  My three girlfriends helped me into the house, as my parents helped me onto the couch.  I collapsed in exhaustion while I watched my friends say their goodbye’s and walk out the door.  Two of those girls I never saw again. 

After a few weeks of recovery, I resumed my pre-college summer vacation, preparing for the ‘best years of my life’.  I spent as much time away from home causing some trouble in my town.  I can’t remember how, but I met a nice guy.  We instantly connected with stars in our eyes.  We spent our time together driving around smoking cigarettes and frequenting diners to drink gallons of coffee with cream and extra sugar.  Occasionally, we’d venture to his parents house and sit in his room listening to music.  We talked about mature things because, ya know, at seventeen you’re all grown up…educated…wise.  The music set the scene.  We could not get enough of two Smashing Pumpkins’ albums, Gish and Pisces Iscariot.  Great albums, great songs, great memories. 

As I referenced earlier, I was on my way to work a few weeks ago when my iPod selected a song from Gish.  Suddenly, my car turned into a surprise party of flashbacks.  I could smell the summer air and stale cigarettes in the car masked by incense.  The warm breeze flowed through my long dark hair and ruffled my few-sizes-too-big tee shirt.  I felt untouchable; I WAS untouchable.  The summer of ‘95 was the start of something big for me.  I couldn’t wait to leave this deadbeat town to start anew.  My overly large and open heart sucked up everything in it’s path.  This was the summer I fell in love with music, coffee, smoking, rebellious attitudes and a boy.  But, the first and last thing I remembered was that I lost my two best friends.             

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mountains for Breakfast

Since I was cleared to start running, six weeks after giving birth to my little cupcake, I threw myself back into training and racing.  And, please don’t misunderstand my use of the word ‘race’.  I enter races.  I’m not fast, nor will I ever be a contender.  I compete against myself…oh, and talk a lot of shit through the process.  July 14th marked the day that I got back on the saddle so-to-speak.  I continue to train, when time permits, and I happily enter races – six races to be exact.  I recently ran the South Mountain 10 miler.  Yup, the words ‘mountain’ and ‘miler’ are married with the number ‘ten’.  This race proved to be a milestone (no pun intended).  I never entered a ten mile race before, nor had I ever entered a race with as much elevation.  I bullied a new friend into signing up for the October 30th race. 

Strangely enough, a slow moving front clobbered the East coast with ten-plus inches of snow.  Unsure of the road conditions and staying mindful of freezing cold temperatures, the race director decided to postpone until November 13th.  Thankful for the change, I stayed snuggled in my toasty home while I fought off a nasty cold.  During this time, I struggled with the possibility of having a wheat allergy.  What a lifestyle change!  Ordinarily, I embrace the pre-race pasta dinner; it’s ritualistic.  The food impossibilities consumed my thoughts and I barely ate much of anything for dinner.  I did get some good options for the morning, so I felt confident that fuel wouldn’t be a problem.

Damn, it was cold.  It seriously took me two years to figure out appropriate dress for the four seasons.  Again, I got this one right.  I met Kevin at the starting line and within five minutes we were off and running.  The 5K and 10 mile race started together in what seemed like a flash mob, but Kevin and I stayed in the back of the pack just chugging along.  Five minutes, or so, had passed and I noticed a woman in front of me with these huge, gorgeous chandelier earrings.  The purple and pink stones, matching her knit hat, bobbed with her stride.  I couldn’t imagine running with all that hardware.   I can be a little chatty during races, so I picked up my pace to compliment her on the earrings. 

Just before I caught up, she yanked off the handmade hat to expose her freshly shaven head.  She stood even taller to display the pink ribbon printed on her shirt.  I pulled along side her and commented on her beautiful earrings.  She responded, “I wear them to accentuate my bald head.”  She continued the conversation by telling me about her chemo treatment for breast cancer – she’s about halfway through.  “Today is a good day for me, so I’m running the 5K.”  She’s a runner.  She’s a fighter.  She runs a mountain every single day.  We soon parted ways and I wished her luck – luck in the race and luck in the fight.  I ran up Mountain Drive thinking of her. 

I’m honored to have run along side that woman.  The short conversation we shared put me in check.  I worried extensively about my dinner options while she pushes through every day, fighting for her life.  Unfortunately, there are too many people like her, but they’re the strong ones wearing their hearts on their sleeves with determination to beat the disease.  The fighters are my heroes.  They are hardcore.  Keep fighting – I’ve got your back.    

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Muffin Madness 2?

For the new readers you’re probably wondering what defines ‘Muffin Madness’.  Well, ya see, I’m Muffin and I can be a little crazy.  Sometimes I can be a lot crazy.  What’s more nuts than ‘a lot’ crazy? Sheer madness.  And, since I enjoy words, the alliteration was like icing on the cake, or maybe glaze on the muffin?  The term ‘Muffin Madness’ came into being in June of 2010 as the name for my solo marathon – all the credit goes to Jeff Browne.  Good thing he doesn’t get royalties; the man would be rich!

I’m not a leader – anything from it.  I’m a follower that takes it to another level.  The solo marathon wasn’t my idea, but I went for it.  This proposed challenge wasn’t my idea either, but I have been giving it some serious thought.  I accept most dares and challenges with a glimmer in my eye.  I enjoy bringing people along for the ride and this next event will be no different – if I choose to embark on the journey.  Help me out here.  First, some background information.

A few of my friends, just new to the running scene, expressed interest in signing up for a half marathon.  Runners who live in the Lehigh Valley run the St. Luke’s Half Marathon (formerly know as the Lehigh Valley Half Marathon).  I ran it twice and hoped to have run this year, but I was too pregnant for it to be an honest consideration.  While perusing the LV Running Scene website I noticed that the registration for the April 29, 2012 half marathon would be approaching.  I e-mailed the newbies to alert them of the sign up date with all intentions of signing up myself.

Just a few weeks ago I created a Tough Mudder team, Will Beer for Run (yes, I stole that from someone else, too), thinking that I’d be the only female in the group.  It’s still early in the game, but there is only one girl with mild interest.  Eh, whatever, another event in which I’m the only chick.  It’s all good, I guess, taking one for the team…representing…girl power and all that crap.  Originally, the Mudder was scheduled for April 21/22, 2012 at Bear Creek.  The date and location change didn’t deter me, so I registered and updated my buds. 

‘Rut-roh, Shaggy!’  (this phrase also isn’t mine)  My friend Chris advised me that we would be doing the Mudder, in the Poconos, on April 28, 2012, one day before the St. Luke’s Half Marathon.  My heart sunk.  I wanted to race the half again and hopefully beat my 2010 PR, but I needed to conquer the Mudder.  Besides, I plunked down $100 for it.  Sheesh.  “Who says you can’t do both?”  Really?  Did Chris really say that?  C’mon, you know me.  This IS a challenge.  This IS Muffin Madness.

Here’s what I’m thinking -

I do the Mudder on April 28th AND the St. Luke’s Half Marathon on April 29th. 

Simple statement, lots of Madness. 

Of course, I don’t want to do this alone.  I want to bring people to the funny farm with me.  I think it’ll be a hoot.  I’m thinking big…t-shirts, more cowbell, fans and I’d like to raise some money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation.  I ask you (the five of you out there who read this crap) for your opinion, your ideas, your thoughts.  Whadda think?  Yea, I’m mad, that’s the point. 

Comments welcome.  Leave ‘em on Facebook, my blog or e-mail me at

Monday, October 17, 2011

Just Another Sunday Run

I found myself with my toes on the starting line feeling free.  Almost too free.  I lowered my head and caught a glimpse of my shoes.  Ah, the Puma ballet shoe, in pink; beautiful choice.  WAIT A MINUTE!  Where were my running shoes?  And my bib number – I was holding three pins with no number to affix to my shirt.  And what’s this, no sport bra?  Hmmm, this spells trouble.  I quickly woke in the Hershey Lodge’s king sized bed with a headache to accompany the darkness of the early morning.  Crap.  I left my ibuprofen behind.  Hrumph. 

Since I showered the night before I had plenty of time to change and feed Allison while getting myself race ready.  Today was the day of the Hershey Half Marathon – a race I spontaneously signed up for while I was nine months pregnant.  Allison cooperated and went back to sleep after her bottle.  Within thirty minutes I was almost ready to roll – contacts in, mascara check (never leave home without it), running clothes, sleeves, watch, sneakers…yup, yup, yup and yup.  I found an uncomfortable spot to sit at the end of the tub and balanced a bottle of blue nail polish in my right hand.  I focused on painting my left finger nails like it was my religion.  For some reason, I have made it a ritual to paint my nails a funky color for every half marathon.  Weird, yes, I know.

I kissed the hubbs goodbye and headed to the lobby to catch the shuttle.  I sat alone on a bench inhaling the cocoa in the air.  I really wanted coffee, but didn’t want to risk it.  Maybe one day I’ll tell you the story about a training run post-Mocha Latte.  Hmm, maybe not.  Moving on.  I hopped on the shuttle and sat next to a petite blonde wearing a trash bag.  I never figured out the deal with the bag; I didn’t have the balls to ask.  We chatted about past and future races and questioned the course.  “Do you know if there are hills?”  I had no idea and no person within ear shot jumped in on the conversation.  How bad could it really be?

We chugged off the shuttle and marched into the arena like a herd of cattle.  The wind picked up which sent a chill through my body.  I needed to keep moving, so I walked up and down the football field.  Up and down; up and down.  Four guys, maybe in their mid-thirties, collaborated at the fifty yard line.  They were a slender bunch wearing black, some sporting Mohawks.  They appeared to be the hashing type (yes, I think I’m judging here) – not that there’s anything wrong with that.  As I approached them on my third lap (remember, I’m pacing), I heard one of them ask, “is it an issue that we’re not making a big deal about this?”  The super cool one with the better Mohawk answered, “dude, it’s just another Sunday run.”  Interesting perspective.

I moseyed to the starting line and found a home with the 1:50 pace group.  I can do this, yes?  After the second mile, I saw the 1:50 page group trudge ahead and into the distance.  Fine.  No worries.  I can still obtain my personal best.  By mile four, I felt as if I got punched in the face with my own legs.  They didn’t want to work, but I pushed through to make it to the next water stop.  And stop I did.  I grabbed a cup of Gatorade and walked to the last trash can before I forced my legs into a jog.  I figured that the rolling hills would eventually even out, but there seemed to be no relief.  At the split, I was consumed by a cacophony of indecipherable sounds.  I glanced over my left shoulder and exclaimed, ‘Oh, Shit.’  There it was, like a kick in the gut, the 2:00 pace group.    I broke two hours in my last half marathon…at my leanest…on a course that wasn’t peppered with hills.  As the 2:00 marker bobbed away from me I let everything go.  I thought about Mohawk and his now insightful comment.  It’s just another Sunday run.  That’s it.  It wasn’t about a race, it was about letting go.  I struggled through the rest of the course, but kicked it up at the last mile.  Once I entered the stadium I practically sprinted to the finish.  I tracked down Marcus and the girls to get a much needed hug.  I learned a lot on that Sunday.  I finally realized that it’s not about the amount of time it takes, but it’s about the quality of time that I spend on the road.  It’s a purifying experience and I need to enjoy it.  Maybe I should get a Mohawk.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Ready, Set…

It’s been a month since I returned to work.  I can’t believe it’s been a month already.  Today is the first day that I’ve had the opportunity to sit down and relax with my words.  I do have time to write, but honestly, I’d much rather be absorbed in the TV or melting in my bed.  I think I’m managing the juggling act fairly well.  Correction…WE’RE managing the juggling act.  I have a team mate in this routine. 

I haven’t had the time to figure out a regular schedule to crank out some writing, nor have I had regular time to get in some good training runs.  I’ll be running the Hershey half marathon in three weeks.  I’m not too worried about it.  Maybe I should be.  Eh, whatever, there are more important things to worry about.  And I’m doing a good job of that.  My head is spinning and I could use another coat of nail polish.  I’d love to have a nice drink, but I’m too lazy to mix anything.  I’d jump at the opportunity on my running shoes and take off for a few hours.  It’s dark out now, and a little chilly, though.  I’d probably spend too much time figuring out what to wear.  I’ll just grab a snack and stuff my face in the pillow.  

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Running with Two: My First 5K

For me, training for a race is like preparing for a graduate school final.  I go through all these emotions during the process.  I sign up for the race with confidence (“I’m gonna kill this.”); I start training with authority (“I am definitely gonna kill this.”); I may encounter a road block such as a missed run or a less than desirable run (“Oh, boy.  I don’t think this is going to go well.”); and, finally, just before race day, I’m filled with doubt (“Yea, I’m not going to do well.”).  Since history repeats itself, I went through the same process after registering for the Alburtis 5K.  I signed up a few weeks after having my daughter in the hopes that this goal would kick start my training and get me prepared for a 10K at the end of August. 
Because I maintained somewhat of a running schedule while pregnant, it did not take long for me to get back into the swing of things, which also included getting acclimated to a double jogging stroller.  The majority of my training runs took me through surrounding neighborhoods, peppered with inclines.  I focused on keeping my upper body in line with my lower body (“…relax your shoulders, abs in…what’s left of them, breathe, RELAX YOUR SHOULDERS!”) especially while running uphill.  I prepared myself both mentally and physically for the landscape I may encounter on race day. 
The race was scheduled on a Saturday, but my heart sank Thursday morning after realizing that I had been training with a twelve pound baby.  My three year old daughter did not go on any training runs with us.  Oh, boy!  After freaking out, unnecessarily, I took a deep breath and got comfortable with the thought of walking.  There’s no point in worrying about my performance, or lack of, in a 5K.  Everything was going to be okay.  Early race morning, I got both girls up and ready to rock.  Thankfully, I picked up my packet the night before, so I could arrive with enough time to put the girls in the stroller and walk to the start.  I carefully pinned my bib number to the front of the stroller, handed Ava a water bottle and put a pacifier in Allison’s mouth.  Here we go. 
I met a friend at the start.  My nerves were settled by the excitement I had for her first 5K.  Within a few minutes the horn sounded and we were off.  Alburtis is a cute little town nestled outside of Trexlertown.  We were led to the bumpy trails of Lock Ridge Park, out towards the end of town, then back again.  Bumpy trails and hills.  Bumpy trails and hills.  At one point the hills were so steep that I felt like kissing the ground - it was virtually impossible to stay upright.  I stopped to walk twice while the peanut gallery (Ava) noted that I wasn’t going fast enough for her.  Allison, not knowing the difference, maintained a steady snooze.  It felt like an eternity before I made it to the flat stretch leading to the finish.  I sprinted, as best as I could, to the chute and crossed with a respectable 33:16, my two-child PR.  The Alburtis 5K was my initiation back into racing.  I knew I’d have to work harder to get in the game again.  I believe I passed this test.
At times it can be a challenge to stay positive in the face of adversity.  Pick up your head, pull your shoulders back and move those feet.  Relax, you’re in for the ride of your life.  Keep breathing and happy running!            

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Perfect Job: An Open Letter

Yup.  I think I found the perfect job, but it’s not mine.  Sure, I applied and believe that I’m close to qualified.  I feel that I crafted one hell of a cover letter and I’m sure that I won’t get a call for an interview.  History repeats itself – twelve years of rejection.  Here’s my story:
In 1995 I left Allentown, PA to embark on a mission – a college mission.  Unsure of my academic path, I oozed confidence in my social journey.  On a sweltering August day my family helped me move into a college dorm on Staten Island, NY.  Oddly enough, I was assigned to a room on the thirteenth floor (I thought they didn’t ‘exist’) of a building appropriately named Harborview Hall.  It stood tall on the northeast side of the grounds, overlooking the New York Harbor and a skyline that was home to the Twin Towers.  My five years on that campus (yea, I spent an extra year to focus on my social journey) gave me more knowledge and experience than I ever asked for.  After grappling with an ideal major for a few semesters I settled on a focus in the English Arts.  The program focuses on the development critical reading and creative writing.  We read A LOT: African American Literature, American Literature, every Shakespeare play and sonnet (twice, since I had to repeat the class), classic fairy tales (ruined forever) and volumes of poetry.  I wrote A LOT: micro-fiction (ultra short stories), stories, poetry and papers – lots and lots of papers.  My final paper was for an independent study surrounding the works of the late poet A.R. Ammons.  I wrote a thirty page thesis on Ammons’ use of bird imagery in his writings.  Sure, sounds boring, but I was in love. 
I returned home after a few dead end months post-graduation.  I lacked guidance to get my buns in gear to obtain a real job in which I could apply my knowledge.  I crammed all my belongings into my childhood bedroom and started applying for local jobs.  All the while, I spent two weeks living on the couch watching the 2000 Olympics.  Damn, I can’t get enough of the swimming!  Unfortunately, most places did not find me qualified for much of anything, let alone a job that paid more than $10 an hour.  I had no experience.  No publishing experience, no retail experience, no writing experience, no! no! no!  I eventually interviewed for a secretary job at a health network and was hired on the spot.  Fast forward eleven years – I’ve grown to love healthcare (even got a master degree in health care administration – ahem, with honors), but I would love the opportunity to showcase my writing in a more professional forum.  Don’t get me wrong, I love all five of you that read my stuff. 
Aside from the technical requirements I need to have energy (check) and be passionate about fitness (check).  Being a runner is a plus (check).  I was not in the market for a new job; I like what I do. I might not have the experience that they’re looking for, but I think I’d be the perfect candidate.  Take a chance on me.  I’m up for the challenge.  After all, this is the perfect job.           

Monday, August 1, 2011

Ahhh, Summer…

I love everything about summertime: sunshine and heat, grilling and swimming, day trips and good friends.  But the food.  I have to mention the food.  This time of year yields some of the most delicious fruits and vegetables that you will ever taste.  I’ve been fortunate to have this entire summer work-free while staying home with my newborn daughter.  I have seized the opportunity to hit up many of the local outdoor farmer’s markets in search of good produce and delicious treats. 

Last week I visited the PPL outdoor market and, although the vendors were sparse, I found a goldmine of heirloom tomatoes.  I happily handed over my cash for a few pints of the colorful and unusually shaped fruits.  I barely made it in the door before I was washing and cutting those beauties.  There’s something so refreshing and comforting about a sliced tomato sprinkled with kosher salt.  I don’t even need an olive oil drizzle, just a bit of salt.  Delicious!  With more tomatoes on hand I cut a few into bite-sized pieces and let them marinate with cubed farmers cheese in olive oil seasoned with kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper, oregano and crushed red pepper.  I finished the last of that glorious salad this afternoon.  Magnifico! 

Today marks the start of my training for the Hershey Half Marathon on October 16th.  I have a few more pounds of baby weight to shed, so I’m incorporating cleaner eating for the first few weeks of training.  ‘Clean’ can be defined in a myriad of ways.  I decided to make my own interpretation of the word.  I’m going to focus on cutting out some (not all) of the red meat in my diet while increasing the volume of fruits and vegetables.  This should be an easy task considering all the fresh food markets during the season.  To ensure that the rest of last week’s tomatoes didn’t spoil I decided to make a delicious salsa to accompany the grouper I plan on making for dinner. 

Roasted Tomato and Black Bean Salsa

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Quarter four medium/large sized tomatoes.  Quarter a red onion.  Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper.  Toss together and place on a baking sheet.  Bake for 15 – 20 minutes.

Let cool.  Remove tomato skin and rough chop.  Place in bowl.  Rough chop softened onion.  Season with garlic powder (or use fresh garlic), kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper.  Add one 15 oz. can of rinsed black beans. 

I used ingredients that I had on hand.  Next time I will roast some fresh garlic and add cilantro.  I wonder what grilled peaches could do to this.  Hmmm…  Ahhh, summer!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Running Partner

For most of my running ‘career’ (if you call it that) I would hit the road solo at the wee hours of the morning.  This caused minimal to no disruption to my family and I returned before anyone opened their peepers.  I enjoyed the time alone without the pressures of holding anyone back or having to wait for someone.  Now those times have changed.  I have a running partner.  But it’s a good thing.

1). She’s ready to go when I am.  I don’t have to wait around for a phone call, or meet at some remote location. 

2). She’s okay with the fact that my shorts don’t quite fit well enough for prime time or my shirt is too clingy around my midsection. 

3). I don’t need to worry about my post-race stench.  I’m not sure she even notices. 

4). I’m not pressured into keeping up the small talk, but she’s open to any discussion I have to offer. 

5). My pace is perfect, no matter how slow or fast; My distance is perfect, no matter how short or far.  She does, however, seem to notice when I cash in that much needed walk break.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I’ll Have What She’s Having

With everything going on in the world, media spent some time a few weeks ago focusing on Michelle Obama’s meal choice at a newly opened diner.  Reports state that the First Lady indulged in a burger, fries, milkshake and a Diet Coke.  Experts estimate that the First Lady consumed roughly 1700 calories.  Back in the Clinton era the media wasn’t necessarily kind to the President when it came to his fast food habit.  After all, his chubby physique screamed lazy American until he got off his duff and went for a few runs.  Mrs. Obama, on the other hand, launched the Let’s Move! initiative back in February of 2010.  This program was started to examine the problem of childhood obesity and introduce strategies to create a healthier future for all kids.  President Obama created the first Task Force on Childhood Obesity to accomplish a few things such as: creating healthier lunches in schools, creatively increasing physical activity and educating not only children, but their parents in the development and maintenance of a healthier lifestyle.

So, the First Lady ate 1700 calories in one sitting.  Who cares?  She looked good doing it.  Moderation, right?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Looking Back, Looking Forward

The past twelve months have, as always, moved faster than these words can explain.  This type of reflection reminds me to take appreciation for the little things throughout the day.  Sometimes, though, the speed of time blows that intention out of the air.  About two weeks ago I started seeing advertisements for the Tour de France.  Ah, yes.  The Tour.  I don’t bike, I don’t know the terminology and I certainly am not familiar with some of the leading cyclists.  I do, however, casually follow the progress of the Tour.  It’s an amazing event that’s mentally and physically challenging.  So, the Tour reminded me that July 3rd was approaching.  This would be the first anniversary of Muffin Madness.

The Muffin Madness Marathon was an idea, introduced to me in June of 2010, that would satisfy my personal goal of running a marathon.  My husband encouraged me (I like to think of it as a double-dog dare) to create my own 26.2 mile route and run it.  After hours of planning and freaking out, I set forth on my journey at 7 am on Saturday, July 3, 2010.  This Madness was everything I expected and more.  I ran, trotted and sometimes walked a beautiful course that incorporated some of my usual routes.  I paid homage to the road that has led me to that day.  Maybe next time I’ll be smart and map out a point-to-point with less hills; the loop of elevation was killer, but I crossed the finish line in my driveway on that 87 degree day at 5 hours 3 minutes and 24 seconds (not bad for the lack of training).

Enough about me.  The plan leading up to Muffin Madness could not have been accomplished by one person.  Friends and family volunteered to be a part of the day assisting with each of the hydration stations (12 total).  Not only did I have people wanting to run part of the race with me, but I had a friend willing to be my ‘lead bike’ for the duration.  Tee-shirts were made and sold with any profited money going to the Lance Armstrong Foundation; a local company, Digital Trust, LLC, purchased shirts for most of my hydration team.  The support leading up to the Madness was overwhelming; the support on race day would top that. 

To Karen – you have always proved to be ‘Mamma Hen’, rounding up the troops and getting people off their buns to help out. 

To Jeff, my traffic cop – I felt like a celebrity with you leading the way for me on your bike.  You saw me from start to finish; best to worst; fresh to spent.  I couldn’t imagine doing it without you.

To my runners: Steve, Bortzy, Dawn & Olzy – I loved having the company and conversation through the entire route.  Starting the race with a skinny Olzy and my crazy neighbor Steve made for great conversation which moved the first 8 miles like it was a walk around the block.  Dawn and Bortzy…Amazing.  You guys are amazing. 

To my Anchorman: Giggles – Seeing you at mile 20 put a spring in my step.  I knew I picked the right man to spend the last six miles with! 

To my Hydration Team & Spectators: KariAnn, Jenny, Mikey, Liesel, Bruce, Bob, Rick, Margie, R.B. and Joey – I love you guys.  Seeing your faces along the course was as welcoming as the bottles of water and Gatorade you filled for me!  Your screams and signs helped me put one foot in front of the other.  Gotta have more cowbell! 

To my parents: I am me because of you.  I like me. 

To Allison: Yes, you were just a thought in my mind…a plan for the future.  In due time you will see the Madness.

To Ava: There’s nothing like rounding a corner to see you hold a ‘Go Mommy!’ sign.  I hope that I continue to show you how important fitness is to the quality of life.  One day we will run together.

To Marcus: You brought the Madness out in me.  Thanks for believing in thinking I could do this. 

I’ll never forget the highlights of my marathon and the people who helped my dream become a reality.  So now I’m looking forward to resuming my regular running schedule with my sights already set on a 10K in August, marathon relay in September and a half marathon in October.  I will run another 26.2 miles again.  It’s just a matter of when. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

I Took a Shower Today

Actually, I have taken a shower every day since I had my little girl on June 2nd.  I believe that’s a major accomplishment.  Some of you are laughing and some of you are nodding your heads.  It can be quite a challenge to squeeze in some personal time with a three week old.  I had major challenges with my first daughter, now three.  I felt like I couldn’t even put her down for five minutes to make a sandwich, but I have lived AND I have learned.  This time is different.

I now realize that it’s important to take care of myself, in addition to my family.  I try to refrain from camping out in front of the boob tube and fill my ‘spare’ time with more mind expanding things, like catching up on my reading.  Sure, I might only get through three pages of my latest book (Born to Run), but it’s something.  Right?  My morning walks keep my body moving and lungs clear.  It’s also a joy to see the baby’s visual reaction to a passing car, or a bird flying overhead.  I make meals for me to enjoy – today I even used a pan.

So I showered today.  I might even put on mascara.  Ha!  Who am I kidding?  Of course I’ll put on mascara. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Last Night

Two Thursday’s ago I sat on the couch timing my contractions.  I believed it was the real thing.  I had downloaded this cool app to help me keep track of the activity.  I needed the extra assistance because I was terrible at giving a recount when asked ‘how often are they coming?’  Ava and I went though the usual routine to prep for bedtime, with one exception – I cried my eyes out.  We snuggled on the couch as I twirled her long, blonde pig tails through my fingers while she drank her milk.  Tears poured down my face.  I was a wreck.  Ava looked up at me and asked, ‘What’s wrong, Mommy?’  I stared into her blue eyes, but couldn’t answer the question.  It would have started with some blubbering words, followed by audible sobs and perhaps some drool – not a pretty sight.  As I put my baby girl to sleep that night I thought it would be the last time she’d sleep as an only child.

When Ava turned two, people were already asking when we’d have another baby.  Life was essentially perfect with one.  Both Marcus and I got into a great rhythm of parenting which also incorporated a great balance of time for us to do ‘our’ things (whether together or solo).  It took time to find that balance, but once we discovered it everything fell into place.  And besides, how is it possible to love another child as much as your first?  I couldn’t imagine my heart growing any larger to accommodate another little person.  It has to happen, right?  Lots of people have more than one child.

It’s in my nature to be moved by something and I must act upon it.  So something happened, sometime within the past year and a half and I wanted another baby.  Also, in my nature, I already had it set in my head to ‘squeeze in’ a marathon, so the baby trying would be put off until I accomplished that.  Check and check.  Sitting in that first ultrasound back in October of 2010 was great.  I felt the same excitement as I did when we saw Ava on the grainy monitor. 

The experience of being pregnant brought Ava and me closer.  She showed (and still shows) the anticipation of becoming a big sister.  From telling me that she’ll get the baby bottles to having already earmarked one of her ‘babies’ to go to the little addition.  She named the being in Mommy’s growing belly ‘Baby Cookie’ and continues to kiss and hug my belly.  We gave her a picture of Baby Cookie which she brought to school for Show and Share.  Touching…just touching. 

With this growing bond between us, comes an inner sadness.  She’s getting older.  Gone are the days in which I will cradle her tiny frame in my arms, put my nose to her head and smell her baby hair.  She won’t need me as much as I will need her, but there is a bright side.  We paint our nails and brush each other’s hair; we giggle at Daddy’s silliness; we make up songs to popular children’s tunes; we run around like a bunch of screaming girls waiting for Daddy to tickle us.  Life IS good (while I wipe the mascara streaming down my cheeks – let’s face it ladies, waterproof mascara isn’t as good.  I’ll have to remember to educate Ava on this; in a few more years, of course.).

So, here I am, almost a week and a half after that Thursday of false labor.  Waiting for this coming Thursday, June 2nd - baby day.  I’ve been preoccupied with getting some of the necessities in place (clothes washed/put away, bottles organized, painting my and Ava’s nails) that I haven’t had much time to dwell on the next stage of our lives.  I’m sure I’ll do that Wednesday night. 

Friday, May 13, 2011


I’m pretty stubborn – I rarely back down for the sake of saving face.  When I’m wrong, which is rare – by the way, I will admit it…well, maybe.  This past weekend I had a moment of realization.  I was about one mile into a hilly 5K when I discovered that I was nine months pregnant.  My legs couldn’t carry me at that speed anymore so I had to cut the pace back to a brisk walk. 

There was something to prove, to myself, these past nine months.  I did not want to fall into the gluttony of my last pregnancy.  I wanted to maintain a decent level of activity to keep my weight down, keep the baby healthy and give me the opportunity to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight sooner than later.  I worked so hard to lose sixty pounds; I didn’t want to go through that process again.  There were some unmentioned people that were looking forward to me gaining weight.  This wasn’t an assumption – THEY TOLD ME.

At first I felt defeated when I started to walk, but I continued to pump my arms and move my legs.  I decided to chill out.  The weather was gorgeous and Marcus was by my side pushing Ava.  I took a deep breath, followed by a slow release which relaxed my shoulders.  Yeah, this was good.  This WAS okay.  I have been on an amazing journey and I needed to just enjoy. 

Ava had her own moment of realization.  She did notice that I wasn’t running and called me on it.  I wasn’t upset; I actually laughed.  Towards the end of the race, we were close to pulling up the rear.  I didn’t want to be the last person crossing the finish line, so I picked up the pace to a jog.  Ava, in her inquisitive tone, asked me where the rest of the people were.  I let out a much needed laugh as I told her that the other people were faster.  “Why?”  Because Mommy is slower.  “Why?”  Because of Baby Cookie.  “Why?”  I just let that last one go.  As I did everything else.

Baseball 5K - Mother's Day

Saturday, May 7, 2011


I’m not lazy, but sometimes I enjoy procrastinating.  I think that I work better under pressure; maybe this is just an illusion. 

So I typed those two sentences and moved on to transferring some music to my iPhone, got lost in Facebook and then attempted to blow up a Toy Story beach ball.  I’ve been meaning to blog about something, but I just decide to do something else…or three somethings else. 

The latest, large procrastination is getting ready for baby.  The baby is scheduled to arrive on June 2nd.  I have less than four weeks to get everything in order which includes sifting through Ava’s neutral gender newborn clothes (need to find that bin), wash the clothes and blankets (need to buy that baby detergent), pick up the second car seat adapter (must remember to call that friend), clean the nursery and get the crib set up again.  Sounds like a lot of stuff.  About two weeks ago it sounded like an afternoon of hard work; lately, it feels as if I’m not going to make it.  Oh, yeah, I need to find those bottles, too. 

I should compile list, but I need to make the grocery list first.  I’ll ask Ava what we’re having for dinner tonight.  I’m hungry.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Over the past three years or so, I have been a part of an amazing journey.  I made a personal commitment to improve my fitness by incorporating some running.  This ‘some running’ has turned into a passion that I want to share with everyone around me.  Most of you know that I love to train, I love to race and I love to show my pride for all the accomplishments.  One of my goals is to motivate people around me.  I preach the goodness of fitness and make a solid attempt to encourage my friends.  Some people listen with both ears, others just humor me.  Regardless, I believe that I have made an impact. 

Something happened to my husband a few years ago.  I’m can’t define that ‘something’, but IT happened.  He joined a gym and started going…regularly.  His diet changed, his outlook changed and the weight was coming off.  Maybe I helped get him off on the right foot, but the credit is not mine.  NOT EVEN CLOSE.  This was all him.

He signed up for a 5K last summer, mostly because he bet me to raise $1,000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation.  A few months later, he signed up for another 5K.  I’m not sure if it was the lure of running another race, or the fact that he would be wearing a mullet wig, but regardless he kicked asphalt.  Two months later he signed up for another 5K.  At this point, I was already beaming with pride for him.  I didn’t think that he could take it any further.  Mark my words: I WAS WRONG.

Starting January of this year he and some buddies from work started training for the April Tough Mudder at Bear Creek.  Last year these guys, dubbed Team Mustachio, signed up for the military style muddy obstacle course.  Oddly enough, this event is on my ‘list’, but considering I would be eight months pregnant at that time, I held off on signing up.   Almost every Sunday most of Team Mustachio met in the morning to run/walk ten miles.  As the intensity of training increased so did my husband’s motivation.  He had is eyes set on killing the Mudder and nothing seemed to get in his way.

This past Friday night we opened our home to the team for a pasta party.  In my mind, this was a celebration of their accomplishments to date and a preparation for the day ahead.   As always, I made too much pasta and we enjoyed a great evening.  The guys discussed their morning plan along with some obstacle tactics while digesting the meal.  After the company dispersed, the hubbs and I spent a few extra minutes getting our things together so we could turn in. 

We both got up earlier than expected Saturday morning and started moving.   In what felt like a matter of minutes he was all dressed and ready to go.  Ava went to Grandma’s and I headed out to meet a friend for our spectator duties.  I can barely describe everything I witnessed that day.  Barely.  I’m sure some people that saw an eight month pregnant woman trudging through suctioning mud, hobbling over snow packed hills and navigating through wooded areas around obstacles can barely describe that scene.

The day was long and the weather was fantastic.  I had the opportunity to see Team Mustachio at a large majority of the obstacles and I noticed something – something I have never seen before.  Each guy had this look in their eye.  It was a look of determination, drive, PRIDE.  Their eyes said ‘BRING IT’.  I wasn’t scared by their look; I was intrigued.  I wanted to know what got them to this point, but I already knew the answer. 

So, cheers to you, Team Mustachio, you kicked some mud on Saturday and made me proud to know you, be friends with you, and train with some of you.  Next year baby, I’m all in.  And to that guy who married a crazy girl like me – damn. 



Sunday, March 27, 2011

Is There Anybody Out There?

No, I’m not referencing the Pink Floyd song.  I could see the possibility of people thinking that I would be blogging about music again, in lieu of the last post (Mixed Tape).  Not today.  I’m wondering if people even read these posts.  Perhaps there is a period of self-doubt that I’m going through.  Maybe I just hopped on another pregnancy hormone roller coaster and the exit appears to be no where in sight. 

I planned a vacation day this past Friday to get a much needed massage and run a few errands.  On my way to Bethlehem I thought about the next article I needed to write for Lehigh Valley Running Scene, which then spiraled into thoughts about my next Muffin blog post.  I must have just come off the first drop in the coaster since I was doubting my audience.  Does anyone even read this crap?  Is there anybody out there?

I’m not doing this for my health.  Well…sure I am.  It helps to clear out the mental garbage which should provide some clarity, right?  I’m doing this because I love to write.  I’m doing this because I enjoy sharing stories about myself with people.  I am doing this in the hopes that some of my stories will motivate the reader.  BUT IS ANYONE REALLY LISTENING?  Part of me hopes to be ‘discovered’ by a someone who will pay me to share these stories, and more, fwith an audience.  Ha. 

I can’t be discovered unless there are people out there.  Are you there?  Let me know.  Follow my blog, leave a comment, SAY SOMETHING!  I need to know that there are more than four or five people reading this.  I’m open to your feedback, opinions, likes/dislikes…  What do you want me to write about?  Maybe it’s my lifelong passion to obliterate every opponent I encounter in a heated game of Monopoly.  Maybe you’re interested in why I downloaded a Justin Beiber song.  Maybe you want to know weird things about me like why I don’t use conditioner, my barriers against sharing dairy products with people, and why I can’t walk into a new restaurant (or other public meeting place) ahead of everyone.  Maybe you just want me to stop writing.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Mixed Tape

I don’t run (or trot) with tunes for a few reasons: 1). I like to hear the sound of my feet hitting the pavement, 2). the rhythm of my breath keeps me within a comfortable pace, and 3). I have not been able to find a set of ear buds that will actually nestle into my ears.  On the other hand, a workout on the dreadmill can be so mundane that I find music almost 100% necessary.  
The other morning I peeled my body out of a snuggly position to hit the dreadmill.  I’ve started to put some music on my iPhone and had a few choice albums to keep me moving.  I hooked up my phone to the speakers and started on my way.  Of course, there was at least one full Beastie Boy compilation and after I heard the first live song I took the player off of shuffle and just played that entire album. 
Beastie Boys – my favorite artist.  Their music has pulled me through some darkness and kept me in the game.  They’ve been a part of my life for over twenty years (damn, I’m getting old).  So many of their lyrics can spawn personal stories and reflections.  Well, that’s what I’m going to do right here.
“I feel like a winner when I make a mixed tape.”  Great lyric which can be found in the first verse of the Flute Loop.  If you’re never heard the song from their Ill Communication release back in 1994 (!) I highly recommend a Google on this one.  Even if you’re not a fan of their flowin’ prose* the repetition of the flute riff (hence the title of the song) is enough to get your body movin’*.  I couldn’t get that line out of my head - I started to think about mixed tapes. 
Being in my cold, dank basement reminded of me sitting in the unfinished basement of one of my childhood homes.  My Dad had his weight bench all set up in a small corner and he would jam out to Aerosmith, Journey, the city bands (such as, Chicago, Boston), Styxx, The Police and of course, his all time favorite, Bob Dylan.  Dad can’t hold a tune to save his life, but man, can he play a mean air guitar!  I remember hanging out while he lifted, admiring the mix of music blaring from his new boom box (which, I believe, just died a few years ago).  I picked up each tape case to see the name of the artist, the song and it’s accompanying album thoughtfully printed on the insert. 
The release of blockbuster movie soundtracks like Rocky and Top Gun proved that these compilations were not only key for jamming out, but they became the ultimate mixed tape.  Seriously, folks, who hasn’t worked out to classics like, “Danger Zone”, “Eye of the Tiger”, “You’re the Best” etc.  As time passed, newer bands, such as U2, Bon Jovi, and Van Halen were introduced into this melting pot of sounds. 
I vaguely remember Dad creating his mixes and I soon applied the same methodology when making my own.  Damn, it took a lot of time and research.  And back then, for the younger kids out there, we made mixed tapes from tapes, or worse, from a record.  Do you know what a record is?  In most cases, I was in my bedroom, sitting on the floor, surrounded by a large grouping of tapes.  Some of these tapes were mine, but most were Dad’s.  After all, he had one hell of a collection! 
My first few batches were all for my enjoyment until I started to branch out into the art of creating mixes for my friends and then my beaus.  In some cases I needed the assistance of the radio to capture a song – talk about time intensive!  The sound was never the way you envisioned it, but the point was made.  It became another jam on your menu of tunes.  The start and end of every song sounded like a hiccup or a made a ‘bluurrrrppp’ due to your quickness of pressing the record/pause button simultaneously or the pause button to end the recording.  CD’s made the process SO MUCH EASIER!!!!! 
But, as technology advanced, the time and thought behind the creation regressed.  A lot of the mental motivations behind the music were repressed since there is more capability at our finger tips.  We shared music with Napster (before the legal intervention), emailed songs and purchased our favorite one hit wonder from iTunes.  All this without discovering the ‘B side’ of things; honestly, folks, how many times did you buy a record to tape JUST FOR ONE SONG?  In this era of digital music we don’t need to make a mixed tape, even for ourselves.  Create a playlist and put it on your MP3 player, or throw six CD’s (closer to being obsolete) into your car changer and put that bad boy on shuffle.  Six CD’s isn’t enough to feed your focus?  How about you put your entire collection on your MP3 player, plug that into your car and you’ll be entertained for 45 days 13 hours 45 minutes without any interruption?  OR BETTER YET, check out Pandora and create your own radio station based on an artist preference.  See where that takes you.
Insert breath here.
Skipping ahead to today.  I’m sitting in my office importing some CD’s into my music library so I have them on my phone for my dreadmill workout.  I’ll definitely happen upon some songs that stink and I’ll just advance to the next song.  After writing this post I don’t think that I’ll look at my music collection the same.  Here’s what I do know, the Beastie Boys are due for another release.  It was supposed to be last Fall, but was pushed back to the Spring.  If they actually release a hard copy I’m all over that. 
*Beastie Boys. “Flowin’ Prose”. Hello Nasty. Capitol, 1998.
*Beastie Boys. “Body Movin’”. Hello Nasty. Capitol, 1998.
Kenny Loggins. “Danger Zone”. Top Gun Soundtrack. Columbia, 1986.
Survivor. “Eye of the Tiger”. Rocky III Soundtrack. EMI, 1982.
Joe Esposito. “You’re the Best”. The Karate Kid Soundtrack. Casablanca, 1984.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Today is Ash Wednesday.  One of the only reasons why I remember this is because yesterday was Fat Tuesday.  Growing up, Ash Wednesday meant starting the day with Mass and walking proudly afterwards with the ashes imprinted on my forehead.  As Catholic pupils we were charged with identifying a sacrifice, something to give up for the period of Lent.  I typically gave up candy (which I wasn’t allowed to have as a kid), talking back to my parents or fighting with my brother.  Ironically, the latter two were common themes in confession. 

I finished eighth grade in a Catholic school and made the jump to public high.  This break from religion gave me a chance to spread my wings, so to speak, and even though I challenged some of the teachings I lost my spirituality along the way.  I gave up on the church and didn’t attend for years.  For some odd reason I always observed Lent; I needed the sacrifice. 

When asked about my religious affiliation I smirk and joke about being a recovering Catholic.  I don’t ‘practice’, but I have a desire for that spiritual structure.  Over the past fifteen years I’ve set foot in a Catholic church maybe four times.  Each time, it’s as if I haven’t missed a step: I dip my right fingertips in holy water and make the sign of the cross, I can recite the entire Mass (call AND response), I stand, sit, kneel, stand, kneel, sit, etc. like a good student, I make a donation in the basket and I even get up for Communion. 

I digress.  So, today, I think about a sacrifice, but decide that ‘sacrifice’ isn’t the correct word.  That sounds just too negative.  I don’t need a sacrifice, I need a change.  I’m going to try to ‘give up’ some of my negative thinking and focus on positive change.  I’ve recently mentioned incorporating meditation into my life.  This does not mean that I’ll sit in lotus pose, staring at a candle for hours while the worries of the world escape my mind; this means that I will put my mind into the present and focus on positive change within my life – positive change that will affect those around me. 

I won’t sacrifice one thing, but I will make a change. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Friendly Reminders

I can’t take credit for the title, but I do take credit for the thoughts surrounding it. 

I’ve actually been reminded a few times, both personally and by friends, that I haven’t blogged in some time.  I’ve been writing a pregnancy series for Lehigh Valley Running Scene and put all my ‘creative’ energy into those articles.  I don’t want to copy those articles into this blog for fear of repetition with my hybrid audience.  I guess it’s just laziness.  Nevertheless, I discovered a myriad  of other gentle reminders the past few weeks that I’d love to share with you.

  1. My Dorney Park thermal mug has a slight taste of lemonade; a perfect reminder of summer.
  2. Amazon e-mailed me yesterday informing me that my pre-ordered book by Kristin Armstrong had shipped.  Already forgetting that the book was on the way, I was reminded today of my purchase when I discovered the package in my mailbox!
  3. I am pregnant; six and a half months to be exact.  Lately, I have been reminded of the following:
    • some people don’t ask to touch your belly
    • some people are afraid of pregnant women
    • some people look at you funny
    • some people look at your belly first, then look into your eyes
    • some people won’t permit you to lift ANYthing
    • some people have no problem telling you how big you look
  4. My daughter just turned three, solidifying the fact that time really does fly.
  5. Pizza gives me heartburn, yet I had it for dinner tonight. 
  6. My last book prompted me to investigate meditation…again.
  7. Little children are amazing. 
  8. Non-alcoholic beverages are overrated.
  9. This morning’s treadmill program was a reminder that I am not that fast anymore.
  10. I need to call my long distance friends to catch up and check in.
  11. One of these days I’m going to take a deep breath and completely unplug…just for a little. 
  12. I don’t need a vacation – a different perspective will do just fine.

What have been your gentle reminders?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Quieting the Noise

Everyone needs an outlet for their stress.  I’ve found multiple outlets through out the course of my thirty-three years: food, boys, partying, yoga and running.  Some, as you can see, were healthier than others.  Since I discovered running I used that as my outlet to release my stress.  I can be ready in less than ten minutes to unplug and hit the road.  You may think that I’m running from the problem, but the time is used to clear my head and oftentimes, sort out the situation. 

If I need to embark on a decompression run the distance matters; three miles won’t do the trick.  I need at least a good hour to get my mind in the game.  I’m baptized in my sweat, a cleansing feeling, while my ocean-like breathing sets the rhythm for my pace.  I focus on the horizon, briefly glancing at the landscape in my peripheral. 

The recent weather prohibits me from running outside.  Quite honestly, I’m fearful that I will fall.  I’d like to think that I’m still fairly balanced at five months pregnant, but I shouldn’t get too cocky.  There’s no way I can put in a good hour running on the DREAD-mill, so I log what I can, wishing for better weather.  But the junk inside my head is starting to cloud my vision…I need an outlet. 

Yoga works to weed through some of my stress, but I can’t physically move into the ‘good’ poses.  I’ve been reading Eat, Pray, Love and I plan on giving meditation some serious consideration.  Ha!  Sounds like I’m just wasting time.  But, I want to try this; not sure where to start.  I’ll give it some real thought after I’m done with my small bowl of ice cream. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Marathon to Couch: Guaranteed Results in Six Months

This is not the typical fitness program, but it has become part of my journey.  Six months ago I ran a marathon; today I struggled to run/walk six miles.  My mind wants to push my body, but the body is winning – it’s stronger than my mind, these days.

I’m just around the corner to hitting my fifth month of pregnancy and I can finally tell.  Most of my regular clothing is out the window, with the exception of my overly attractive tighter than spandex running gear, I started to give in to some indulgent cravings (like my Saturday night ice cream float) and the baby has increased the level of kicking. 

For two straight weeks there has been enough snowfall to make a mess of the roads.  The residual slush gets pushed to the shoulder and eventually ices over.  Ordinarily I’d hit the pavement and approach those areas with caution.  Not this time.  I’m afraid to fall, so I haven’t run outside in a few weeks.  I have, however, been introduced to the idea of cross-training.  Prior to being pregnant I never cross-trained; if there was time in the day, running was the only option. 

Today, with Ava in good hands, Gus and I went to the snowy-covered trails of the Parkway to meet some friends for a run.  The guys are training for the Tough Mudder in April and I was just along for the ride…only six miles of the ride.  I started my watch and Gus took off like a bandit.  The remaining three of us filed in a straight line to follow the less-snowy groove in the path.  Once the trail opened up, Dan took off.  And then there were two…

Brian and I stayed together for the entire six miles, finding comfort in dry pavement and our silly stories about work, dating, pregnancy and snot-rockets.  At times it felt as if we weren’t going anywhere, but expending a lot of energy.  The snow didn’t offer a lot of traction when pushing off, so we easily became exhausted.  Just shy of the three mile mark we decided to walk.  The run/walk pattern continued for the rest of the hour and twenty minutes.  

My mind wants to believe that I can go faster, but my body knows better.  It’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to come to terms with this natural progression (although I feel like I’m in a regression), but I’m slowly getting there.  It’ll be difficult for me to accept any time over an hour for the Super Bowl 10K on February 6th, but I just need to deal with that.

In the future, there will be plenty of time for me to fret over race times, losing weight, speed training and running at the break of dawn.  Right now, I’m working harder than ever to create a beautiful human being.  

Monday, January 3, 2011

Closing Out 2010

I was excited for December 31st this year: my employer observed this day as the holiday, I convinced a few people to run the Peeps 5K in Bethlehem that afternoon, the weather was going to be gorgeous and I would be indulging in king crab as my final meal of 2010. 

Since it was a Friday, I woke at 4:30 am to get ready for my 5:45 am yoga class.  It was a rough start, considering I only got a few hours of sleep after nursing a terrible reaction to a Ruben sandwich I had for dinner.  I managed to choke down a piece of bread and have some water.  I tripped back up stairs to try on three different outfits – nothing seems to fit anymore and I haven’t found any worthwhile pregnant fitness wear.  Spandex isn’t as forgiving when you’re 17 weeks pregnant.  Hoping to catch a quick snooze after class I tip-toed into my bedroom, careful to not wake Ava, but as my shoes came off I heard her call for me.  “Mommy?  Are we eating breakfast at Mommy’s house today?”  Awww, man. 

I scooped her up out of bed and headed downstairs.  I was absolutely exhausted, so my idea of breakfast this morning was a few dry bowls of Frosted Flakes.  Yup, it’s a junky cereal that I typically don’t buy.  For one reason or another, it’s hidden in my pantry.  I grabbed the box, two bowls, my decaf coffee (pregnant, remember?), a sippy cup of milk and shuffled to the family room.  Disney Playhouse was kicking off an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse while I poured the first (of many) bowls – one for me and one for Ava. 

Over the next two hours, and in between catching a few zzzzz’s we each housed about three bowls.  Marcus woke around 10 am to find me sprawled out on the couch, Ava in a corner with her hand in the cereal box and bits of Frosted Flakes all over the carpet.  Since we were planning to head out the door for 11:15 am, I hopped up off the couch and headed to the shower.   We dropped Ava off at my Mom’s house close to 11:30 am and hit the road towards Bethlehem. 

Oh, we have plenty of time.  Race starts at 1 pm. 

We picked up a mutual friend and stopped at WaWa for a few beverages…and I needed a snack because all those empty calories were a distant memory.  The most direct route to the starting line was halted by a waste management truck, taking their good ‘ol time, and an eventual road block to the start.  Parking a fair distance from the start (maybe five blocks) we jumped out of the car to get ourselves together.  I handed out pins and started to jog down hill.  The men quickly followed suit and within 3 minutes we were at the back of the starting line.  I found two more friends and two minutes later we were off. 

If you race, you know…it takes a while to get into your groove.  Typically, the first 1/4 mile is spent trying to weave yourself in and out of the herd.  It’s quite exhausting and sometimes frustrating.  Thankfully, the road opened up sooner than I thought and the field spread out.  The temperatures, that afternoon, hovered around 45 degrees, sun SHINING; it was a wonderful day for a road race.  As I kept pace with a friend, just back on the running wagon, I occasionally looked around to see how my husband and other friends were doing.  I love being a bully, but didn’t want anyone to hate me afterwards – just making sure that everyone was okay. 

My friend took off as I caught up to the hubby to check in with him.  The knee was good and he looked great.  Good.  Just pulling up on the right was another friend.  The three of us kept pace until we approached a hill along the back side of Bethlehem’s library.  I pulled my shoulders back, took a deep breath and pushed up the hill.  Once I hit the crest I pulled my pace back and leisurely ran down the gradual decline of Church Street. 

Another friend, a newbie to organized races, pulled up along side of me and we stayed together for the rest of the race.  I’d like to say that I held back to stay with him, but I’m not so sure.  In talking with him, he sounded worn down, but he really looked good.  I talked most of the time, hoping that he’d forget the pain and actually focus on our conversation.  Maybe it worked, maybe he was being nice.  I don’t really care.  At the end of the race, I accomplished my mission.  I have run five races in which I have maintained another’s pace for the sake of having them finish the race.  I’ve told jokes and ridiculous personal stories to bring their mind to another place.  My job is to motivate.  I’d be a terrible motivator if I left my friends in the dust. 

We must have been about 3/4 from the finish when I compulsively looked at my watch.  Wow.  I think this is going to be a good time, a good time indeed.  “We’re almost there,” I said, “you’re breathing, right?”  From previous conversations, I know his goal was to finish at 35 minutes.  At the pace we were going, this was going to be smashed.  I told him that I usually kick it into high gear right at the end to finish strong.  He didn’t wait for my queue on this one.  We rounded the corner and saw the finish line in the near distance.  He took off, close to a sprint and I followed closely behind.  All 5’2” of me, with a 17 week protruding belly (because spandex is unforgiving) chugged to the finish line.  He crossed about a second ahead of me – only because I’m pregnant, yeah.  That’s right.  :)

I reflexively stopped my watch.  The larger than life timing clock read just under 30 minutes and we were thrilled while waiting for the rest of our friends to file in behind us.  With smiles on our faces we high-fived, chatted about the ‘glory’ and walked to the tent for some much needed hydration.  What a great day! 

Oh, I almost forgot, the time on my watch.  29:48  There’s his PR.