Thursday, May 29, 2014

Tick Tock

I think I've finally hit the wall. The wall of being sick of training for a race and just wanting to do it already. I feel like I'm just waiting and waiting, and I just want to race already! My half-marathon is a short 15 days away.

I was feeling pretty on top of my game, until I skipped a run this morning. It was just one of those mornings where I could think of way too many reasons to get back in bed versus hitting the road. I know it's not the end of the world, but runner's's a real thing.

We're also planning on visiting my parents in Florida at the end of June, so I suppose I just want everything to hurry up. I can't wait to hit the pool, or the beach! I want to sip beverages and eat some yummy seafood by the ocean! My mom sent me this picture of their community pool over the weekend.

I think it's safe to say that she's just rubbing it in my face at this point. I mean, look at that water! Those palm trees! The cloudless sky!

We've had our fair share of gorgeous days lately too, so I'm really not trying to complain about the weather. I'm just totally ready to be on vacation.

But first, I have to run this dang trail race I signed up for. I wonder if I run 13.1 miles this weekend, if I can count a training run as a PR? One thing I am looking forward to is the waterpark at the hotel we're staying at. Even if it is inside.

There's a lazy river, a splash pad, and water slides! Not quite as relaxing as I want, but should be lots of fun! I've stayed here before, and I don't remember the water park being so big. I bet to my little almost-3 year old though, the park will feel huge! I can't wait to see her reaction!

Do you have any fun summer plans yet? Are you enjoying a pool/beach/lake already? 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend

Hello friends! I hope this finds you well rested after a long weekend. If you had to work this weekend, I apologize.

Memorial Day is obviously an important day to remember our fallen soldiers, POWs, currently deployed soldiers, and those others that are currently in service (like my nephew!). Without their sacrifices for our freedom, who knows what the good ol' US of A would be like?

Luckily for most of us, it's also a paid day off from work. After nearly 5 months of 40 hour work weeks, I know that I sure welcome the long weekend! We had gorgeous weather all three days, opened the windows, and played outside!

Travis started pulling out all the summer toys for Emily to play with, including her pool and water table. The pool is still a bit too cold to swim in, although we put swimsuits on and tried. At one point, Emily slipped and fell in. The water must have been pretty cold because she jumped up and said "I want to put my clothes back on!"

So we settled on just playing with the water table for most of the weekend. She's also become obsessed with these new jelly sandals, but likes to wear them with socks. There must be a little 80 year old in that body somewhere...

Sunday I finished my second-to-last long run before my half marathon on June 14th. 12.5 miles in 1:51:57. I'm pretty confident that I can finish 13.1 in under 2 hours, I'm just not sure if that's going to happen at the actual race. It's a trail race, most likely with softer footing which may slow me down a bit. But, hopefully if I just pace myself, I'll get in under my self-imposed wire.

After burning 1100+ calories on my run, I felt it was more than necessary to seek out ice cream on Sunday evening. We had a lovely dinner al fresco at home, courtesy of Travis and the grill. Steak, potatoes, and grilled zucchini. Emily only ate the steak. Eh, what can you do?

So, off we went to a local place that still has car-hop type service. I'm not sure what that's called exactly? You know, where they come out to your car, take your order, and then you eat in the car? Anyway, that doesn't really appeal to me with a 2 1/2 year old, so we chose to have our ice cream on their deck. Emily definitely enjoyed her first ice cream cone.

I didn't capture the little dance that she did while eating her ice cream. But I know it all to well, because I do a similar dance when eating sugar. It's a happy dance :o)

Yesterday we visited a local greenhouse to get some flowers and vegetable plants. We picked pumpkin, zucchini, and two varieties of tomatoes. It's so late in the season already, so we chose starter plants over seeds, except for beans and peas. Hopefully those come up and are fruitful (err, veggieful?)!

I almost came home with this little gem, but I wasn't sure where exactly he would call home so I left him.

Who wouldn't love a unicorn planter in their backyard?

We topped off the weekend with a nice BBQ dinner at Trav's grandparents house in Side Lake. They live right on the river and have a shady backyard with a screened in porch. The mosquitoes were out in full force last night, so we were thankful for that porch! Burgers, brats, beans, potato salad, beer...what more could you ask for?

Emily and her Great-Grandma - who makes the best jelly.
Just ask Emily!

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend!

How did you spend your Memorial Day?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Runners Tell All Link Up: Share a Running Photo

It's that time again for the monthly link up hosted by The Lady Okie and Sunshine to the Square Inch. Each month, bloggers like me post about a running related topic. They also host a giveaway each month, which is fun! Check out more about it here:

This month's topic is to post a running photo, whether it may be your favorite, funny, or horrible. Unfortunately, I do not have that many running photos. (How am I just figuring out that I could do screen shots of the professional photos? I am so lame at technology.) But there a few I have that are precious and make me proud! 

This photo was taken just before I crossed the finish line at my first half-marathon, the WhistleStop Half in Ashland, WI. I was so tired, so ready to be done at this point, but the fact that I did it still gets me pretty excited. I remember the few weeks before the race when I was feeling so sick of training at that point, just wanting to race already, and swearing that I'd never run that far again after this race. Now I'm kind of giggling at that since I'm registered for 2 more half's this year, plus the Ragnar Relay. 

This was right after the race. I can tell you, for certain, that I have never been more tired in my entire life. I even had more energy after giving birth than I did in this photo. But I was also pretty dang happy with myself.

Red Ore Run 10K - July 2013

This quick snapshot is one of my favorites, simply because of what it means to me. I run for a lot of reasons, but some of the top include to be healthy so that I can experience as much of Emily's life as possible, and also to set a good example to her about setting goals, following through, working hard and being determined. I love seeing her little face at the end of a race. As she gets older, she's "getting it" a little more - what this whole running this is about and just what exactly Mom is doing. Hopefully she'll always be my little cheerleader. 

Got a running pic to share? Link up and show us!

Monday, May 19, 2014

New Beginnings

Hello blog friends!

I am having a bit of a rough morning because Emily started at a new daycare today. Of course, she barely gave me a backwards glance once the teacher scooped her up and started chatting about earrings and purses. But for me, it was a little difficult.

Emily has gone to the same daycare since she was 7 weeks old. So, to even consider switching was a difficult decision. But her old daycare was in the next town over, a 15 minute drive, and we rarely go there anymore except for daycare. We used to drive through that town when we were both working at our old jobs. Now, we're both in our town. So there's that.

Also, old daycare was an in-home. This has been great and wonderful for such a long time. Emily got to experience a small group of kids, all different ages, and I really feel that this has helped her grow and learn in every area. She is super chatty, has great motor skills, and picked up on things earlier than if she would have stayed at home. No doubt in that. But ultimately, she will be going to school in our town and needs to make friends here. Also, she loves "school" on Monday nights through the Early Childhood & Family Education program, so we felt that she was ready for more of a "school" type setting. This new daycare offers preschool as well, which will be great next year.

So, we pulled the trigger and made the switch. All weekend long we've talked about going to the new school and how it will be different, but fun! She got a special new blanket and backpack to keep there, and mom now has to pack her lunch so she got a new lunch box. She was pretty stoked.

Here she is, ready and rarin' to go. I'm so happy that she is excited! Being a mom, though, leaves me wondering if she'll cry at some point today, or be scared when she wakes up from nap and is unsure where she is. I'm sure she'll be fine, but there's still some nagging thoughts!

In packing her lunch, I realized that I have no idea how much she eats at daycare. Sure, I know what she eats at home on the weekends, but how she acts at daycare is sometimes very different that how she acts at home. So here's what I packed her:

Some sliced turkey, cheese, crackers, mini cucumbers, carrots, blueberries, and some apple juice. We'll see how much of it comes home. I've found several neat blog links on Pinterest for toddler lunches - easy, finger food type things that are healthy, fun to eat and manageable for a toddler. It may be more than she needs, but I figured I'd rather err on that side than not enough.

So, hopefully she has a great day and can't wait to go back tomorrow! I'm anxious to pick her up this afternoon!

Friday, May 16, 2014

This Guy

Today is my husband's 30th birthday. 30!! He's so old! But not really. We both kind of feel like "yea, 30. I already feel 30". Let's see if I really feel that way when my birthday rolls around...

So, this post is dedicated to him. Travis is the best husband and father to my daughter that I could ever ask for. He is my biggest supporter in too many ways to count.

This guy is a little goofy, but I love him for it. He puts up with my craziness, my moments of "high demand", and helps me laugh at myself.

This guy is the best father to our little girl. He never complains about having to get up and make breakfast so I can go running. He never bats an eye when I say that I have an event after work so it's just the two of them. He's always game for playing outside, taking her to the library, or building a fort in the living room.

I love this guy because he helps around the house. Seriously - that's kind of a big thing. He vacuums, or helps with laundry. He also cooks dinner 99% of the time. For that, I love him forever and ever, amen.

This guy is my adventure partner. He is always willing to go along and see something new, just to explore. He understands that I get a little stir crazy. Even if it means hanging out at a race for 2 or more hours, he's always willing to go along. I hope to always experience what life has to offer with him by my side. 

Happy Birthday Travis, I love you!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Brain Food

Last month, my Running Times magazine had this article about foods that help your brain. More specifically, foods that can help your mind overcome fatigue when running (or in any sport); when your body is telling you it wants to stop but you know you can do more. 

Food for Thought - Running Times

Shamelessly stealing this from the Running Times website

It was a really interesting article that made me kind of reevaluate my diet a little. Mainly, because out of all the foods they listed, basically none of them are in my diet on a consistent basis. 

So, one of the first things I did was buy a bag of walnuts. A big bag of walnuts.

Walnuts are said to help with cognitive function because of their high levels of vitamin E and fatty acids. They're also a good source of Omega-3. 

From Running Times: "Research in the Archives of Neurology & Psychiatry suggests that the antioxidant [Vitamin E] can help maintain mental function until the final mile by protecting the brain from oxidative damage. "Blood-boosting fatty acids are prone to oxidation, leaving them ineffective," Ruxton says. "Vitamin E prevents this process." The result is that blood cells carry more nutrients to the brain, improving focus."

I'm all for anything that is going to help improve my cognitive functioning. Who couldn't use a little help there? You'll notice that the bag is over half empty. I've been eating about 10 a day (10 pieces, not always 10 exact walnuts) and while I've not noticed that my IQ has increased at all, walnuts are definitely a better afternoon snack than pretzels or popcorn. 

I've also been trying to eat more avocados, filled with tyrosine which decreases levels of 5-HT neurotransmitter that induces fatigue, and eggs - a good source of DHA which increases concentration and focus. This has not been going so well. I'm not 100% sure that I like avocados at this point. I've tried eating them alone, and mixed in various salads and I'm still not convinced. But I do like guacamole like nobodies business. So that probably counts, right? Eggs are not a favorite of mine either, but I'm trying to eat more of them anyway. 

In general, I'm just trying to be more aware of what I put in my body and to make better choices. There are always going to be days when I eat to my heart's content (like last night when we made tacos), but just making a couple of better choices every day is certainly a start. 

Do you eat avocados? What do you like them in? 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

A day late and a dollar short - should be my name but that's a really long name.

Anyway, I had a fantastic Mother's Day weekend. On Saturday, we took a spontaneous trip to the Lake Superior Zoo, and then ate lunch at a lovely little neighborhood restaurant called Sara's Table. Delicious, fresh food with lots of vegetarian and gluten free options. Plus wine! That's got my name all over it. Yesterday I woke up early and got out the door for 11.5 miles. A little better than last weekend, but still kind of a hard run. Not sure what's up with that. We spent the rest of the day just hanging at the house, playing outside, and napping. Then we went to my in-law's house for dinner. Mother Nature blessed us with beautiful weather all weekend - it was truly gorgeous!

Now, to the pictures. Because I know you don't care about the words ;o)

 Trying to woo the donkey to come see us. The donkey was having none of that. We forgot our stroller at home, so we rented one at the zoo. Surprisingly, Emily loved their strollers and wanted to be in the majority of the time.

Not to sure about that bear behind me...

The bear's name is "Trouble", which is interesting to say the least. He had half of a large, blue plastic barrel that he was just sitting with licking and biting. You can see my reflection to the side. I was trying, as nicely as possible, to tell one of my bosses that I could not call him back because I was with my family. It's Saturday, hello! Huge pet peeve....

Proof that Emily loved the stroller. She's staring at the lions, whom she said were named Simba and "Fasa", or Mufasa as he's better known. I'd like to point out there was only one male lion and two females. So "Simba" must still be a cub in Emily's eyes.

Here we are in front of a pretty waterfall that feeds the river floating through the zoo. Except my giant head is blocking the view.

Emily feeling a tad bit scared of the giant, stuffed bear, but safe enough with Dad.

 Not having it with Mom though. 

Tired baby waiting for her mac n'cheese at Sara's Table. Which was delicious, as well. 

Lastly, a little fun in the sun playing kickball!

Emily is getting pretty good at kicking. There is only one ball here though, Trav's camera just does fancy things.

I hope you spent the day with your loved ones, whether you're a mom or have a mom to celebrate!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Travel Tuesday...on a Wednesday

I just started frequenting a new (to me) blog called Our Lives are an Open Blog. She and her husband are living in South Korea, and are chronicling their adventure. What fun! On Tuesday, there was a link up and a prompt regarding traveling. I didn't participate in the link up, but I thought writing about it would still be fun. The prompt is:
1. The Places you have most loved
2. The Places you want to visit
3. The Place you live now

So, without further adieu:

Most Loved

Estes Park, Colorado

This is where we went on our honeymoon. Who could beat views like that?

Taken from the porch of The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park. 

Also, Bayfield, Wisconsin

We traveled to Bayfield last October for the WhistleStop Half-Marathon (actually in Ashland). It is the cutest little town! Great downtown with tons of fun shops, restaurants, and a winery! Can't beat it!

Want to Visit 
(in no particular order)

The Grand Canyon - and Arizona/New Mexico/the Southwest in general. Thank you Breaking Bad.

Seattle, Washington

Paris, France
(duh, right?)

Where I live now
If you don't know me in real life or on FB and you can figure it out, kudos!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Sunday Runday 11 miles

Perhaps the alternate title for this post should be "or the run I thought I would die on". For some reason, yesterday's run was really tough. It took every ounce of my willpower to keep going and finish the run. But, I drove to my starting point on the trail, so what other option did I have? Couldn't exactly just stay where I was!

Here's how my run broke down:

The first few miles were pretty easy. There are a few hills along the way, but I was feeling ok. This run follows a paved trail along the highway, then brings me into a little town. I run through the town, pick up the paved trail on the other side of town, then turn around and backtrack to my car. Once I hit the town, I was starting to feel tired. That's right around mile 5, where you can see my pace slowed. 

I ate some energy chews and gave myself a little pep talk. Mile 6 is also in town, then back to the trail. There were multiple times in the first 4 miles where I looked at my watch and thought "Alison, slow down, you don't need to go so fast!" But for some reason, I have a hard time slowing myself down. It's like I only have one gear in any particular run. Honestly, there's also a little bit of pride involved. There's a little voice at the back of my head that says "hey, if you're feeling good at this pace now, maybe you can just keep it up."

Well, I'll tell you what: those last 4 miles were like slow torture. Somehow I kept a sub-9 min/mile pace, even though it was not intentional. I felt like I was running at a slug's pace. My legs were on fire for a short time, and I kept debating whether I should take a walking break or not. But then I'd think that walking would only mean it would take longer to finish, so I should just keep trudging along. 

That last mile was rough. I literally counted down every .10th of a mile. The only reason I finished it was by giving myself a pep-talk, gritting my teeth and just doing it. But it was not fun.

I'm not sure what really happened, given that my last long run was 10 miles and a lot easier that this one. I think there are several factors leading up to this poor run: I skipped a long run last weekend because I ran a 5K instead, I maybe didn't fuel properly the day before, and I may not be using the right kind of fuel during my runs. 

Every training material I've read says that you should have a "rest" week where you run a little less. I thought doing the 5K would be a good "rest" week, and didn't really want to do 4 days of running in a row. That may have been a bad decision. I also may not have eaten enough carbs the day before running; this is something I'm still playing with. Too many carbs: digestive upset, too few and I don't have enough energy. I'm also going to start looking into different options to eat while I'm running, maybe something with a little more salt. 

Also, it just could have been a bad day, or I could have just been running too fast. Who knows, but I'm glad it's behind me!

Have you had a run like this? Did you change anything up to make the next one better?