Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year's Eve!

I've been struggling with writing this post, mainly because I usually do a recap of my year around this time but my life was so running-centric in 2015 that I feel like my last post covered it. However, my life is more than just pounding the pavement, so I feel like I should recap the rest of my life too. You know, the important stuff. So here's a little of our adventures in 2015!

January - Travis and I danced the night away at my company Christmas party. This is noteable because it's the one and only time we went dancing this year. Sad!

February - Our house got the stomach flu, and I was in a wedding! Ignore that last bit of that post that talks about running.

March - We went to the North Shore for a family weekend, and had an adult getaway for our 6th anniversary in Duluth. World travelers!

April - My parents had an epic journey to the Great White North, but after a few bumps we had a great time with them!

May - Travis turned 31 and we had another adult getaway in the Twin Cities. We went to a Twins game, and found a new favorite live-music joint.

June - We celebrated Father's Day with my first rhubarb pie, and the weather started feeling a little beachy!

July - Emily turned 4! The weather turned HOT, so we started spending a lot of time at the lake and in our backyard pool. Maybe we could upgrade to a bigger one in 2016?

August - We had a 3rd adult weekend in the Twin Cities (!! Who are we?!!), and spent a weekend at the Bear River Fair where Emily won her first ever blue ribbon for carrots out of our own garden!

September - Enjoyed some time at my company's annual picnic, and we got to see some big trucks. Ignore that last part about running. Again.

October - I turned 31, and we drove to Michigan for a little vacation. There may have been some running involved. But it was really about the trip...

November - A 4th adult getaway for Trav and I (so spoiled!) where we attended our first UMD Hockey game, and a great Thanksgiving spent with family.

December - A month filled with Santa visits, making wintery memories, cookies and sledding lessons, and Christmas!

Whew! What a year! I feel so blessed to enjoy the life I have with my little family, and I am looking forward to all that God has planned for us in the coming year. I wish you all happiness and health for 2016!

Happy New Year to you and yours!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Running Review of 2015

I had originally planned to post this on Wednesday, but then I remembered that today is the last Tuesday of the month, which means it's time for the Training for Tuesday link up! Hosted by Tracy and Alyssa - go check out their blogs and link up with us!

2015 has been a huge year for me! Running-wise, anyway.

I ran a 10k PR

2nd Place Women 30-39

I ran a 5k PR, and maybe would have even bettered it here if the course hadn't been short.

and won 3rd place Women 30-39

I overcame not one injury, but (almost) two. Getting there. So close.

I went to a running camp and met some really cool people. This is so out of character for me, but I'm eternally grateful that I got to go and had the courage to do it on my own.

I ran 1120 miles. Ok, well as of this writing, it's 1110.83, but I have 4 & 5 mile runs planned for the next two days. Come hell or high water, I am running those miles! I keep a spreadsheet to track the mileage on my shoes. This number could be off slightly, but I'm going with it. One THOUSAND one hundred and twenty miles. On my legs. This year. That's a lot of miles, folks.

I'm hoping that 2016 is kind to me, and maybe even better. I have not one but two full marathons in my sights for next year.

May 21st

October 9th

I'm hoping that my body holds up enough to do it. I keep hearing that the miles get easier the more you do them. We'll see, right?


How was your 2015 running year? What's on tap for 2016?

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas in Pictures

Hello friends! Since a recap in words would be long and probably boring for you, here's our Christmas in pictures. Enjoy!

Christmas Eve service at Trav's childhood church

We had to wake Emily up on Christmas morning. Zak the cat helped.

Santa came! He even left Rudolph behind!

I got an immersion blender. It is awesome.

Emily's favorite present by far - Elsa boots!

Trav's favorite gift - a new guitar. Yes, I am an awesome wife. Well, my parents chipped in too. It was hidden in our house for like 3 months without him ever knowing. 

We made a goose. It took forever, and yielded about 2 pounds of meat. Good thing we had ham too!

Emily got ice skates from Grandma and Grandpa! Also, this is how she looked for most of the night: Anna dress, Elsa hat, and her new Elsa boots. 

I burned off Christmas dinner the next day by running 7 miles in the snow. It kind of sucked.

That was our Christmas!  I hope you all had a lovely holiday whether you celebrate Christmas or make other plans.

What was your favorite gift to get this year? To give?

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you peace, joy, and love this holiday season! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

What running has taught me

On Monday, I ran my first real workout since running the Detroit marathon.

You know, 2 months ago.

You see, I injured myself right after which really slowed things down for me. Or, I guess it would be more correct to say that I had an overuse injury. Long miles will occasionally do that to you.

I've been resting, cross training, and running easy miles since then. I had attempted a few harder workouts here and there, but pain and discomfort would often either force me to stop the workout and finish the miles easy or would cause me ongoing pain for the next day or two.

Finally (FINALLY!), I started feeling back to normal last week. Still kept things easy, but I finally started feeling like maybe I could get back to training.

So, on Monday, I tested the waters for the first time. My schedule had a farlek interval session - 8 x 600m repeats at 7:50-8:00 pace with 2 min rest periods. When I first saw the workout, I said "EIGHT intervals?!? That sounds like way too much." Plus, I was going to attempt this outside on our snowy roads. I had tried a speed workout on my treadmill, and it was way harder than I thought necessary.

But I decided to just give this a try. Who cares if I didn't hit the paces? As long as the effort was there, I would be satisfied.

Imagine my surprise when I started that first interval, and it felt...easy?

No no, not possible. Not easy. Is my Garmin wrong? Maybe the satellite isn't working well. Ok, well this is the first interval. You have seven more to go. Let's just see what happens.

Despite some slushy spots, some uphills, and some traffic issues, I'm happy to report that I nailed this workout!

8:02, 7:57, 8:01, 8:06, 7:56, 7:59, 8:03, 7:56

Yes, some of those are slightly over 8:00. But not enough to even concern me. 4 of those intervals were sub-8! The best part? My foot never bothered me. I even kind of forgot about it.

So, to the point of this post, here is what running has taught me.

Patience - I will get there. The miles will come eventually. My body will fall into place eventually. I just need to put in the work and let things happen.

Perseverance - Yes, it's hard. Yes, sometimes it sucks. But you know what's even harder? Quitting. Well, quitting and doing nothing is easy. But the guilt and mental anguish that comes with knowing I let myself down - that part is hard. So I work through the hard stuff. Because that outcome is so much better than quitting.

Strength - I'm stronger than I give myself credit. Every time I doubt that I can do something - a workout, a race, a long run, I just put my head down and get to work. And you know what? I get the job done! I may be tired as a dog afterward, but that experience is just making me stronger for next time.

I never thought when I started running that I'd get to this point. The point where I want to run marathons, and do speed workouts, and call myself a "runner". But running has taught me so much about myself and life, and it's become enmeshed with my identity at this point. If I could never run again, sure I'd be sad and there would be some angry/depressed days (weeks), but I'd find a new sport and use the lessons that running has taught me to keep going. Because that's what distance runners do - keep going.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Earn Those Cookies

As promised, this weekend Emily and I made our Christmas cookies! Well, Emily helped with the sugar cookies, abandoned me for the nutter butter truffles, and napped while I made the chocolate covered cherry cookies. But after 5 hours of mixing, measuring, stirring, baking, (breaking for lunch) icing, and melting chocolate, we have cookies!

Emily actually iced and decorated quite a few of her own sugar cookies this year, which made me pretty happy. I was afraid that I had traumatized her last year after she almost splattered my white walls with red frosting. But we were successful this year!

Saturday started off very early for me, as I wanted to get my run in before we started baking. You know, to bank some calories for the taste testing and quality control portions of baking. Plus a trip to Walmart and the grocery store. What can I say? I'm a glutton for punishment.

I've been participating in the run chat hunt sponsored by RunChat on Twitter. Basically, it's a monthly scavenger hunt where you find certain items while out on your run, and post them to twitter with the tag #runchathunt. I managed to get 2 in the beginning of my 6 mile run, but when I went to snap my third pic of a bridge at the end of my run, my phone froze and died! It was only about 3 degrees, which I guess iphones cannot handle. I put it on the charger when I got home, and all is well.

On Sunday, we went sledding after church. I haven't been sledding since I was probably 12 years old, and Emily has never truly been. We had a baby sled that we would push her down a tiny slope in our yard, but I don't think that counts. This time, we went to the "big" hill down the street from our house.

It was so much fun! Trav and I took turns going down with Em for awhile, which was quite the workout because she wanted to be pulled back up the hill in her sled. Definitely earned a few cookies there! But then she got brave and started going down the smaller end of the hill on her own.

So funny! She was hiding her face in her jacket for the first few trips, but then she earned pro-status. I think she went up and down the hill 10-15 times. Oh to have the energy of a young child! However, we all took long naps after lunch that day.

Tonight, Emily is performing in her first school Christmas performance. Travis said that makes him feel old! I can't wait to see her sing her little heart out!

How was your weekend? Have you ever been sledding?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Runner's Survey

I saw this survey over on Run Eat Repeat last week, and thought it would be fun to do too!

1. Would you rather run along a beach path or a mountain trail?
     Beach path, for sure.

2. If you could choose the flavor of Gatorade at your next race's aid stations, what would it be?
    Lemon lime. I never understand why some races offer RED drinks. Inevitably, it's going to get on you, and then you have to deal with red stains on your running clothes.

3. If I gave you a $100 gift card to a running store, what would be the first thing you would purchase with it?
    Probably some new running tops. Mine are getting pretty ratty. 

4. Do you prefer to follow a training plan or wake up and decide then how far/fast you want to run?
    Training plan. I usually run so early in the morning that it's nice not to have to really think about the run. Just do what's on the plan.

5. Would you rather start your run uphill and end on a downhill, or start downhill and end uphill?
     Start uphill, finish downhill. Or just stay flat. That's good too!

6. When you can't run, what type of cross training do you chose to do?
    Lately, biking. I've also started doing Pilates as my strength training, and I love it!

7. What's your preference - out and back or point to point or loop runs?
    Loop runs on days when my motivation is seriously lacking, because then there's no temptation to just turn around and cut it short. But usually my long runs are out and back.

8. If you could recommend ANY running related item to a new runner, it would be...?
    Good shoes are a must. But probably also non-cotton running clothes. No one likes chaffing.

9. Do you ever see any wild animals while out on runs?
    I've seen rabbits, colorful birds, a few deer, and a baby bear!

10. Ever gotten lost while out on a run?
    Not truly lost, but recently I did overshoot a block on a run in town and had to think for a second on where exactly I was. Luckily, not too far off course.

11. If you could have one meal waiting and ready for you each time you got home from a run for the next 30 days, what would it be?
      Hmm, this one is hard. I typically don't like to eat something big after a run. A banana with peanut butter is my go-to. But I do love having a big, juicy cheeseburger for dinner after a long run. And sweet potato fries!

12. Capris or shorts...what do you run in most often?
     I am a capri girl, all the way. Unless it's supppppper hot and humid, but even then - capris don't seem to bug me or make me hotter. 

13. At what mile (or how many minutes) into your run does your body start to feel like it's warmed up and ready to go?
      It usually takes me a mile or so to get into a groove. 

14. What do you do with your key when you run?
     Since my family is usually still home when I run, I typically don't take a key with me. But if I drive somewhere to run, I usually stow it in my fuel belt. 

15. If you could relive any race you have done in the past, which one would it be?
      Another hard one! Probably my second half marathon (Garry Bjorklund Half @ Grandma's Marathon), because it was my first sub-two hour and I definitely did not think that was going to happen!

Feel free to copy, paste, and add your own answers!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Circle: Christmas Tours & Traditions

I'm linking up with Kiki from In Its Time again this month. The topic is Christmas Tours & Traditions.

I'm kind of cheating though - and linking you here, to the tour I did of my decorated house last year. I don't change things up much, so all of those pictures are exactly how my house looks this year. Decorating rut - that's me.

One tradition that I'm really looking forward too: holiday baking! Now that Emily is getting older, she likes to help a bit and I can actually bake with her instead of trying to get it done during nap time. We're planning on baking cookies this weekend. Why so late, you ask? Well, I have ZERO willpower when it comes to cookies, and I need some for when we host Christmas dinner. Plus, Santa needs his share, you know?

Last year, we made 3 types of cookies and I think I'll be making the same this year.

- Traditional Sugar Cookies
- Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies - a recipe I used to make with my mom when I was little, and this is pretty much the exact same thing.
- Nutter Butter Truffles  - make these. You will thank me.

The loot from last year

I'm not a super baker that can make 12 different types of cookies in an afternoon, so this seems to be just about right for me. Plus, I don't need hundreds of cookies on hand - my sweet tooth wants that, but my waistline sure doesn't!


What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? How do you decorate for the season? Link up and tell us about it!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Wintery Weekend

Happy Monday, friends!

This Monday, I am dragging a bit. I'm feeling a little under the weather, so no judging if there's a typo here or there, okay?

Saturday morning I woke up early to get my grocery shopping in before heading out for a group run. I did 7 miles, which is my longest run since the marathon in October. My foot felt fairly decent for most of it, and ok after. The inside post tibial tendon wasn't happy though. Seriously - can I get an upgrade on this body? Maybe switch for a titanium model?

Anyway, Travis and Emily were supposed to finish up their Christmas shopping and get some wrapping done while I was gone. I was a bit disappointed to only see 2 presents under the tree for me when I got home. I'm not being materialistic here, I just happen to know that the hubster got me more than 2 presents. However, he said wrapping took a lot longer than he thought with Ms. Emily. So that explains things.

That evening, we drove around town to look at Christmas lights. We got in our jammies, brought a Christmas CD with us, and even had hot cocoa! It was a fun little outing.

No judging my nighttime-car-selfie. That overhead light is just not very flattering.

Sunday we woke up early for church. Accidentally wayyyy to early. I'm not sure what happened there, but we were all sitting around with nothing to do for a while there. It was raining when we left for church, but started snowing while we were there. I was trying to protect Emily's hair with her hood, and her sweater also had a hood, so she ended up looking like a little Eskimo.

When we got back from church, Emily and I put together a gingerbread house. It was one of those kits that comes all pre-cut and with the candy, so it was relatively easy. Although, Travis is the artist in our family and he sat this one out. So, I'm pretty proud of the way our house came out!

While we were constructing our house, I was trying to make 2 different batches of cashew butter with the load of cashews I got from a vendor at work last week. I did this vanilla cashew butter recipe, and this salted dark chocolate one. For some reason, the cashews took forever to grind down into butter. Like - over an hour to get both these done. My mixer was one hot little appliance when I was finished. The kicker? Neither recipe is that outstanding. The vanilla needs more vanilla, the chocolate needs more, live and learn.

Also, I'd like to confess something here to all my blog readers.

I have bought way too many Christmas cookies to count. Which means that I've been eating way too many cookies. Plus, we're baking cookies this weekend. You know, the kind you can't really buy in stores - family recipes and sugar cookies for Santa. More cookies for me to eat! You're welcome, Waistline.

Have you made a gingerbread house? What's your favorite Christmas cookie?

Friday, December 11, 2015

Creamy Curried Cauliflower Soup

This time of year is always so busy with holiday events, shopping, decorating, baking, etc., etc. I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for new, exciting recipes that are easy. Not like the butternut squash mac n'cheese I made last night. 1.5 hrs from start to finish. Beginner foodie tip: read the recipe well before you plan to start dinner.

Or, just listen to me and make this soup:

Creamy Curried Cauliflower Soup from the kitchn.

Photo from the kitchn

In my attempt to reduce our grocery bill every month, I mix in vegetarian dishes. Also, bonus points if they're chock full of veggies. Which this soup is since it's made out of cauliflower and onions. I'm glad my daughter can't read, because she doesn't think she likes onions. However, these onions get sauteed first, then blended in with the cauliflower so she never knew they were in there.

Although this is supposed to be curried, there's not actually any curry powder in the soup. Cumin, tumeric, and coriander give it that "curried" vibe. Alone, it's not spicy. But you can add some red pepper flakes to give it a little zest. We also really loved topping it with cashews. Not the most obvious paring, but kind of different and tasty all the same.

From start to finish, I think this recipe took me 35 min to cook. I don't always listen to cooking times with onions, rather eyeballing it until I think they're done. But you do want the cauliflower to be soft enough to blend well.

Huge bonus points for this recipe: my 4 year old ate her entire bowl (sans red pepper flakes). Also? This is pretty low in calories and carbs, so it pairs well with some crusty bread...or some Christmas cookies, if you're so inclined.

How my bowl turned out.

The red pepper flakes and parsley gave it a nice little bit of Christmas cheer. The recipe makes a big batch, so I've been enjoying this for lunch all week, too. 

What's your go-to easy meal to make during the holiday craze?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


I'm linking up again this week with Deb Runs for her Wednesday Word.

Deb Runs

This week, our word is Celebrate.

What a great word for this season! It seems like there's so much to celebrate this time of year, between Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year's, and everything in between. There's office parties, school parties, neighborhood parties, family parties. Party party party!

It can kind of get overwhelming. Right? Who's with me here?

Sometimes, it's nice to dial back the celebration a little. This year, I'm trying to enjoy the little things that go into the season.

Like cuddling up on the couch with my husband after a (very) long, (very) hard day to enjoy a glass of wine in my Spode glass, with a Christmas cookie or two (or three - who's counting?).

Or relishing in fun traditions with my daughter, like baking Christmas cookies and pulling out a new ornament each day on our Advent Calendar.

This year, we're even skipping the big, huge family party at great-grandma's house. Instead, we're opting to stay home with my husband's immediate family, and enjoy a relaxing, quiet evening on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Well, there's still nearly 10-11 of us, but you get my drift.

Some years it is fun to Celebrate - capital "C", but this year seems like a good year to cozy up, simmer down, and celebrate - little "c".

How do you celebrate the holidays? Big and lavish, or small and comfortable?

Monday, December 7, 2015

Holiday Shenanigans

Hello! This weekend was chock full of exciting things for my little family.

Saturday morning I woke up early to get our grocery shopping done at 7:30am. I love shopping early! There's no one in the store, I can take my time, and I bring my coffee with since the carts have cup holders. Best thing ever.

I had good reason to go that early though. I was driving out to a group run that started at 10am, and I wanted to hit up a holiday bazaar at a local school before I went. I managed to buy a few cookie trays at the bazaar, plus a new pair of mittens and I ordered a hat to be made. Hopefully to match the new jacket I have on my Christmas list.

Our group run was great. 14 people showed up! The majority ran 10 miles, but since I'm still nursing my dumb foot injury, I ran 6 with one of the slower members of our group. Then I had to race home to change because we were off to Duluth!

Our plan was to see Santa, go out for dinner, and then tour the lights at Bentleyville. It's becoming our annual Christmas tradition.

Emily told Santa that she wants Rudolph for Christmas. Hopefully she means a stuffed one - I don't think Santa can do without his star reindeer!

We invited my in-laws to come since they've never been to Bentleyville before. We had a great evening! Everything took longer than normal because of crowds and holiday shoppers, but it was still a great night. Great weather too!

We didn't get home until pretty late Saturday night, so we ended up going to the later service at our new church. I thought there would be more people, and especially more young people. I was surprised to see that not only was there less people at this service than the early one, but almost no families! Emily likes to keep occupied by drawing or coloring during the service. They have little sheets of paper in the pews for kids to draw on - I think I'm going to have to buy the church a ream of paper. Or two.

Her Snowman has a little...extra...going on.

Our weather has been unseasonably warm - high 30's during the day, 20's at night. Yes, that's warm for us. Also, we've had barely any snow! I kind of love it, because it's better for running, but I know the rest of my Northland friends are unhappy. No ice fishing or snowmobiling like normal. I will say that I hope we have a little more snow by Christmas. That just makes it festive.

I shot this pic while out on my run this morning. You can see how clear the streets are, but we did have a little frost this morning!

You can see grass on the side of the road. Dead grass, but still - that would normally be covered in snow by now!

How was your weekend? Are you having warm weather?

Friday, December 4, 2015

Meatloaf, smeatloaf

"Meatloaf, smeatloaf. I hate meatloaf..."

You know that scene from A Christmas Story? The one where the little kid won't eat his dinner, and the mom gets him to eat like a pig?

Well, his sentiments about meatloaf could not ring more true with me. And yet, I'm sharing a meatloaf recipe with you today.

You see, growing up, my mom was not the most creative cook. My mom can cook, it's just not something she enjoys. I get it. So we had a lot of the "staples". Meatloaf (dry). Spaghetti (with onions! the horror!). Grilled steak or chicken with canned green beans. Ick.

So you'd understand if, when I moved off to college, I never wanted to eat meatloaf again. Spaghetti is easy and cheap, so I came around to liking that. Grilling is fun and we prefer fresh or frozen veggies in my house.

But meatloaf was just one of those things that I couldn't wrap my head around. It never appealed to me, and the thought of the physical prep involved seriously grossed me out.

Until I saw this recipe from Mother Thyme. Hawaiian meatloaf? Hmm. I like pineapple. I actually do like all the ingredients that go into this meatloaf. Plus, the picture on her website was seriously drool-worthy.

I mean, that looks pretty darn tasty. Right?

So I pinned the recipe to try for later. I kept putting it off because while it's supposed to cook in the crock pot, it only goes in there for 6-7 hours. I like recipes that I can throw together in the morning and let sit for a whole day. 10+ hours. But then I thought "why not just make it in the oven?"

So that's what I did:

Obviously my photography skills aren't on the same level as Mother Thyme. Far, far below. But I'm not a food blogger so I get a pass. Seriously though? This meatloaf was great.

Yes. I said that. THIS MEATLOAF WAS GREAT. It was sweet, and yummy, and my daughter ate all of hers without complaining. My daughter is a pretty good eater - far more adventurous than most kids her age. But she still needs some prodding or encouragement for a lot of meals. When there are no qualms about what's on her plate at all - that's a win in my book.

The only changes I made was using a beef & pork mixture, rather than all ground beef. I baked it at 350 for about 50 minutes, then cranked it up to 375 for another 20 min. So next time, I'd probably cook it the whole time at 375 for probably 60 minutes just to get it a little firmer and well done.

Try this and tell me if you like it!

Do you like meatloaf? What is a food from your childhood that you dislike as an adult?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wednesday Word

I'm linking up again with Deb Runs for her "Wednesday Word". This is a link up for fitness and non-fitness bloggers a like. Just a word to prompt some thoughts and get those creative juices going.

Deb Runs

Today, the word is Tradition.

This time of year is full of all kinds of traditions. From hanging ornaments on the tree, to baking Christmas cookies, to lighting the Advent candle at church or in your home. It seems like you can't do anything without a "we always do X" or "that's how we've always done it".

But I'd like to talk about another tradition that my family has been partaking in for a few years now. Adopting an Angel Tree child from the Salvation Army.

From Salvation Army website

You can usually spot these tags on a Christmas Tree in shopping malls, at Wal-mart, or maybe at a local business. I wrote a little bit about our our experience last year, but my family has been doing this since my daughter was born 4 years ago. 

The premise is pretty basic. The tag lists a child in need, their age, clothing sizes, and toys/interests they may have. You buy the child 2 outfits and 2 toys if possible, although 1 and 1 are ok too. The Salvation Army supplements clothing and/or toys for the child from their other gift drives during December, if necessary. 

Typically, we've always chosen a younger kid. They're just easier and cheaper to buy for. This year though, I felt like we should give a little more. The older kid's tags are always left until the last because their clothing and interests are generally more expensive. Sad, but true. So this year, I picked a 16 year old boy who seems to be interested in art and drawing. He asked for a sketch pad and charcoal pencils. And duct tape - odd but easy enough. 

It's been our tradition to go shopping as a family for our Angel Tree Child. As Emily gets older, she is starting to kind of get the whole idea, but I think we're probably still a few years off from her really understanding that we're shopping for a child in need. A child that we'll never meet, but one that will have a smile on their face come Christmas morning. Hopefully, in part, because of us.

My little family is not rich. If my husband or I lost one of our jobs today, we'd really have to do some scrambling for a bit. But we've been so blessed in many ways. We are comfortable. We have a comfortable home. We have food on our table, love in our home, and warmth in our hearts. Why shouldn't we give to someone less fortunate? 

So while we have the fun traditions to embrace this time of year, we'll also take part in the tradition of giving to others. 

What are some of your favorite traditions? Link up and tell us about it!