Friday, June 27, 2014

T minus One Day!

In less that 24 hours my little family will be on a plane, making our way to Florida. Words cannot express how excited I am!

I can't wait for a whole lotta this:

Some good food from Boston's, only one of the best beach side restaurants to ever exist. Fish dip and bacon wrapped scallops, yes please!

Two George's as well. Right on the intercoastal, you can eat on the dock!

Basically, I want to eat and go to the beach. Or the pool. We'll probably throw in a trip to the zoo and the aquarium as well. Emily has told me several times that she wants to see an alligator because "Daddy held an alligator in Florida". There is an old picture on our computer from when Travis and I were first dating where he, indeed, is holding a baby alligator. We went to the Everglades for an air boat ride and alligator show. Typical Florida tourist stuff.

So tonight I have to
- clean the bathrooms
- finish packing two carry-on's
- finish packing the diaper bag
- get food ready for the trip
- make sure all electronics are charged, and then remember to grab the chargers in the morning.

Our flight leaves bright and early at 6 am, so we'll be getting up around 4ish. Thank God for our rinky-dink airport that is 10 minutes away!

I probably will not be blogging while on vacation, so...see ya on the flip side!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Finish This (25)

I saw this on another blog and thought it would be fun. Zero points for creativity!

I have 25 cents to use a payphone, so I husband, most likely. If I'm stranded somewhere without my cell phone (hello, why else would I need a payphone? Do those even exist anymore?) then he's who I would be calling.

I found $25 in my pocket, so I buy... food. Most likely at a restaurant. I love to eat out, so that's where a lot of my fun money goes. $25 isn't enough to buy anything running related that's on my wishlist right now.

I have 25 minutes to watch anything on TV, so I turn on...the news. I'm so boring! We really only watch Netflix shows now, and 25 minutes isn't long enough to what one of my shows. Top picks include Orange is the New Black, Bates Hotel, American Horror Story, and Walking Dead. We've finished Dexter and Breaking Bad, so AHS and Walking Dead need to hurry up!
 A meal I can prepare from start to finish in 25 minutes or less is... spaghetti, tacos, RJ's, mac n' cheese, quesadillas, sandwiches...I am not a stellar cook...

At the age of 25, I wish I had known...
 that everything would be alright. God has a plan. 

If I drove 25 miles from my house, I'd be in.. the town of Virginia, Minnesota or Side Lake. I prefer Side Lake over Virginia. We have to stop at Bimbo's for their famous wings!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Runners Tell All Link Up: Proudest Racing Moment (or...The Half that WAS!)

"Runners Tell All" is a monthly linkup for runners of all ages, skill levels, and experiences hosted by Sunshine to the Square Inch and The Lady Okie. Each month is a different topic, and you can find all the topics listed here.

This month's topic is favorite or proudest running moment. Since I'm still on a runner's high from this weekend's race, that is definitely my favorite and proudest moment.

Here's the back story. I wrote about the race last weekend that was supposed to be a half marathon for me, but wasn't. I was really disappointed in myself, and the race itself. I had joked pre-race that if things went south, I would be looking for an entry into the Garry Bjorkland half marathon (affectionately called "Grandma's" by all the locals. Grandma's is the full marathon, and everyone refers to the entire event as "Grandma's weekend", etc.). Low and behold, a male friend of mine offered me his bib since he wasn't feeling up to it. I really wanted to take him up on it, but was worried about having a male bib and possibly getting caught. It's not exactly "legal" to sell or give away your race bib for Grandma's.

I did a little searching, and found a woman in my town that wanted to sell her bib. The best thing was that she already had it because she paid the $25 to have it sent to her early. Awesome! That very same night, a friend that lives in Duluth offered me a bed to sleep in so I didn't have to get up at 2am to make the drive down there. Sweet!

The very next day, I get a message from the same friend saying that he was concerned that I may have a fake bib. What!?!? I hadn't even thought about that! Long story short, and a lot of googling later, I was 99.9% convinced that mine was real. Come race morning, there was still that 0.01% of me that was worried, but I made it through the bib check gate with no problems.

Race morning was foggy and misty, and only about 50 degrees at the start. A little wet for my taste, but a good temp for running. Because I was supposed to have run a half the weekend before Grandma's, I wasn't really sure how things would turn out. My original goal was to run a sub-2 hour race. But I was willing to set that aside and just see how things went.

The gun went off and the mass of crowds got started. Grandma's is one of the biggest races in Minnesota, and draws a lot of elite talent. There were over 8000 people in the half, alone. I tried to start further up than normal so that I wouldn't have to do a lot of weaving through the crowds. That worked pretty well, and soon I had settled into a good pace.

I was running about 8:40-8:50ish for most of the time. I was concerned that may be to fast, but I felt good and decided to just go with it. Most of the race course is along Lake Superior, and it's pretty flat. Everyone warns about "Lemon Drop Hill", which is really a glorified highway overpass right around mile 9. I was still feeling pretty good there, but one of my calves started getting a little tight.

Right at mile 10, a girl passed me in a bright pink shirt. On the back of it read "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Phillippians 4:13). Hey! That's my mantra! I kept repeating it for almost the entirety of mile 10. Then once I got to mile 11, it was a breeze from there! I cruised through 11, and found another gear for 12. The crowds were huge and loud, they really helped carry me to the end. Here's a pic right around 12.5 miles:

The best part was my finishing time:


I still cannot believe my time. I would have been perfectly happy with 1:59:59. Or heck, just finishing the race! My first half marathon time was 2:03:01, and I feel pretty awesome about shaving 7 minutes off my time by my second half marathon. So yea, I'm feeling proud as a peacock right about now. My legs are sore and I'm still tired, but I'm proud!

Go check out all the other runner's stories!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

More Sour Grapes

I had to share this picture that the Sour Grapes group posted last night.

Two thumbs up for torture!

I have to laugh at it. Here I am, trying to look happy and positive, when really I was dog tired. I think this was only about the 3 mile point, too. I was still considering doing the whole 13.1. The girl behind me in red said that she was going to do the loop 3 times (total of 19.65 miles) because she's prepping for the full marathon that coincides with my half-marathon this weekend. Nutty!

I'm a little miffed because I hammed it up for 3 different photographers, and the race only posted this one. I want to see those other pictures!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Half that Wasn't

This past weekend my husband, daughter, and I traveled 2.5 hours away so that I could run a half marathon. I'd done all my training, felt like I'd properly tapered and carb loaded during the week. I was feeling ready!

But then, there was rain. The whole state is getting a record amount of rain. But I thought "Alison, suck it up and just do it."

But then, it's a trail race. In my head, I knew this. I  knew it signing up. But I never really thought about how different a trail race would be. I talked to my trail-running co-worker, and he just said I'd be a bit slower than normal. Ok, I can deal with that. Already though, I was coming into this race in a bad mental place. It started to look completely different than how I was envisioning, and that was ticking me off.

At packet pick-up the night before, one of the race volunteers talked to me about the footing. He said "most of it is like sugar sand, so it shouldn't be muddy!" Sand? Seriously? I do not live in Florida anymore; I do not run on beaches. Ok, now I'm praying for some rain to harden the pack. Another volunteer also told me about the first hill being a "doozy", but then it was nice and rolling the rest of the way.

The morning of the race we awoke to rain. Of course. But that was ok! As long as it stopped by race time, which it did. This was such a grass-roots type event. It was chip timed, but the start line was just a spray painted line in the sand. The race director said that the starting signal would be a siren, and then the siren went off! We all started a little confused, but took off all the same.

Let me tell you what: I felt like I had been lied to. LIED TO! The footing was really terrible. It wasn't all sand, but there was a good quarter mile stretch of straight sand. Most of it was grass/dirt with the occasional tree trunk or rock to twist your ankle on. And that first hill? Straight down and straight back up again. It was so steep that there were 2x2 wood "steps" every five feet so you could get your footing going up the hill.

But I was trying to be positive. I thought "ok, we're done with that hill, just one more time and the rest is easy!" The course was two loops of the same trail, one loop being 6.55 miles or basically a 10K. However, that first hill was not the only one like it. There were so many dang hills! "Rolling hills", my butt! By about mile 4 I had decided that I'd had enough and I was dropping down to the 10K. There was no way that I was doing another loop. Plus, the weather was starting to turn again.

By the time that I turned the last corner towards the finish line, I was actually in a good mood! I thought "Hey, there's the finish line! We can stop in like 30 more seconds!" I saw my husband and daughter and yelled to them "I'm going to be done! Meet me at the finish!" And that's exactly what I did.

I ended up finishing in 59:06, which is slow for a 10K for me, but a decent time for a trail race. I actually came in 4th in my age division. Funny enough, the 1st and 2nd place finishers are two girls on my Ragnar Relay team that I haven't met yet. We only discovered after the fact that we were at the same race.

So, in the end I was pretty disappointed by the whole thing. But at least I tried it, and now I know that I don't want to do trail races ever again. I got my finishers token for the 10K, and can at least be proud that I did that much. Road races for life!

In an interesting turn of events, I managed to get a bib for one of the largest half marathons in the state, which is this weekend! I had previously decided to do the trail race over the large race because the logistics intimidated me. But being frustrated that I didn't get to do a half marathon after training for it was really a motivating driver. So, I'm bunking with a friend the night before, and dragging my butt to the bus pick-ups at 4:45am. Hopefully this race turns out a little better. Although I don't really have a choice - it's one long route where I have to get to the finish line to get home. So off I go!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Book Review: Orphan Train

It's been awhile since I've done a book review, but it's also been awhile since I've read something that I really wanted to share.

My book club picked Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline for their book this month. I was immediately interested in the subject matter. The premise is about an organization that ships orphans from the streets of New York to the Midwest to find "loving" families willing to adopt them. While that may be the case for most of the younger children, the older ones quickly realize that they are seen as nothing but slave labor. The boys are adopted by farmers, and the girls are usually taken to be household help.

In the first few chapters, we meet Molly in the present day. She is a 17 year old who has bounced around from foster home to foster home after being orphaned at the age of 8. After getting into some trouble for stealing a library book, she is sentenced to do community service in the way of helping an older woman clear out her attic. Molly soon discovers that she has more in common with this woman that she thought.

Vivian Daly lives a quite, comfortable life in Maine now, but that wasn't always the case. As a young girl, she was orphaned when her Irish immigrant parents died in a tenement fire in New York. Vivian, then going by her birth name of Niamh (pronounced Neev), finds herself on a train with hundreds of other orphaned children going to Minnesota to find new homes. Because she is older (I believe 8 or 9 at this point), she has little hope for finding a truly good home.

Vivian's story is heartbreaking in so many ways. She too, like Molly, drifts for awhile in this book. Her resilience and strength make her an immediate underdog that the reader will cheer for. I thought Molly's story fell a bit flat, and was actually unnecessary. Kline could have just given us Vivian's story without the fluff and back and forth of Molly's. I often found myself skimming through Molly's chapters to get back to what was happening with Vivian.

The astounding part is that while this book is a work of fiction, it is largely based in fact. The orphan trains did happen. Between 1854 and 1929, nearly 200,000 children were disbursed to "parents" without so much as a background check or home visit. Some papers were signed and off they went into who knows what kind of home. While some of the book fell a little flat for me, I enjoyed reading Orphan Train and learning about a part of our nation's history that is rarely talked about. I had no idea this happened until the book came up in my book club discussion.

This is a quick read at less than 300 pages, and a perfect vacation book if you're looking for something with a little more substance than your typical "beach read".

What are you reading now? Any suggestions? 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Let the countdown begin!

It's Monday, which means I have less than a week until my next half marathon.


Actually, right at this very moment I'm feeling ready. I had a pretty decent 8 mile run on Sunday, and I'm feeling good. I think I've let go of my time goal, and have accepted that as long as I finish then time doesn't matter. Since it's a trail race, I know it will be different than any road race I've done. This is how I'm feeling right now. My opinion may change in the next few days, or few minutes.

We've also started a countdown to our trip to Florida. Emily has been talking about it a lot, and says we're going in "two more sleeps". Not quite...more like 19, but she can't count that high. I told her 3 weeks, but "weeks" sounds like "sleeps", so she's just confused in general. Aren't we all?

On a different, completely unrelated topic - have you ever tried almond butter? It's just like peanut butter, but made from almonds. Never would have guessed that, huh?

Almond butter seems to be all the rage right now amongst healthy eaters. I wasn't so sure about it, but decided to try it. Here is a helpful hint for you: try someone else's before you shell out $5+ for this stuff. It's ok, but nothing spectacular. Also, it makes my stomach hurt. I've tried it 3 times with the same results. I don't know why, but I'm a little miffed that I spent the money and now can't eat this. So I will be sticking with my Jif Natural, which has the same amount of calories and a negligible difference in protein/carbs/sodium. Poo poo on you, almond butter. 

Do you eat almond butter? Do you think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

National Running Day

If you haven't noticed by your facebook feed (I know you have some running friends in your circle!), today is National Running Day!

I celebrated this morning by running 5 miles. I am having a tough time with the humidity at the moment, so it wasn't the best run but I got it done. That's all that matters!

I know some people are all "oh, I'm a jogger", "I run really slow", or "I can only run a few minutes at a time", and this is their excuse for saying they are not a runner. Listen, friends - if you run you are a runner! I don't think that running 3 miles instead of 13 makes me any less of a runner. Also, what is jogging? Is that running realllllly slowly? Can we please just dump this annoying term? Going faster than a walk = running.

A neat little tidbit I picked up today is that if you use the hashtag #IAMARUNNER on facebook or twitter today, then Timex will donate $5 (up to $20K) to Boomer Esiason Foundation's Team Boomer. Team Boomer is a program that encourages people with Cystic Fibrosis to exercise regularly. They also donate money to CF research, and help start-up events with funding that are looking for a cause to support. So....that's really cool! I hashtagged all over the place, and so should you!

I also found out that Friday is National Donut Day. (Blogger is telling me that donut is not a real word. Blogger, check yo'self) I think I will have to partake in that as well. After I get another run in :o)

How did you celebrate National Running Day?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Over the Loom Giveaway!

Just a quick blog-by to share this adorable dress from Over the Loom, which they are generously giving away to 5 lucky winners! Emily is torn between having a Frozen birthday party or a Cinderella birthday party. I cannot believe her 3rd birthday is less than 2 months away! This adorable dress would really work for either, in my opinion. I'm pulling for Frozen, though, because I can think up of more food options than Cinderella. Hello, tea and oatmeal versus chocolate fondue? I think we have a clear winner there!

Check out their Over the Loom to see how you can enter!

Monday, June 2, 2014

It Comes in Three's...

Bad things, that is. Right? Isn't that what "they" say?

Anyway, this isn't a list of horrible, life-wrecking things, just three annoying things that happened this weekend.

1. Wrong-sized shorts: I went shopping at the "big" mall 1.5 hours away on Saturday. Just me, by myself, because I wanted to try on bathing suits and shorts and not feel rushed. So off I went for a little "me" time, hooray! I did find a bathing suit, a few pair of shorts, and a couple of tops (bonus! don't tell my husband). Unfortunately, I did not notice until I got home that one pair of shorts is a size bigger than the others because I just grabbed the size hanger and didn't check the tags. Boooo. So I will likely return them when we go to Florida this month (O.M.Geeee. I'm so excited!), or keep them in case I'm that size next summer.

Positive: I did find some new clothes and had a nice shopping trip.

2. Run fail: I had planned on running 13 miles this weekend as my last long run before my half-marathon in 2 weeks. It was horribly humid here, and the temperature was about 65 degrees, plus a little rainy so I had a rain jacket on. By mile 4, I was feeling pretty tired. By mile 7, I was starting to feel like the rest of my run was impossible. I'm not really sure what happened, but my body was just DONE. I stopped at mile 9 and called Travis to come pick me up and take me back to my car. The last 4 miles of my run is a little hilly, and that just seemed truly impossible when I stopped. I'm feeling a little down about it, and kind of embarrassed. But, I know that I would not be setting myself up for success if I over did it now. Better to stop and avoid injury rather than kill myself getting to a number in my head.

Positive: I did run 9 miles, and that's not too shabby.

3. Rain: This weekend we have received more rain that any one little town can really handle. Last night, in the space of an hour, we got 2+ inches of water. When the ground is already saturated, there's not a lot of places that the water can go other than my basement and, ultimately, my sewer drain. Cue wet basement, lots of mopping, a little cursing, and wishing we weren't homeowners. I know we weren't the only people with wet basements last night, but it's still pretty annoying. The purpose of a house is to keep you sheltered from a storm and dry. Dry being the key word here, right? We've had this issue since we moved in over 4 years ago, and every year we take precautions to prevent the leaking, and every year it's back to the drawing board. I am really over rain at this point, but it's in the forecast for today, tomorrow, Thursday, and Saturday. Oh, then next Monday and Tuesday, too. I'm thinking it's time to look up some blueprints on how to build an ark.

Positive: I don't have inches of standing water in my basement, just a few puddles. The rest of my house is dry.

So, that was my exciting weekend full of fail. How was your weekend? Better than mine? Please say better than mine.