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mother. marathoner. blogger. reader.

Monday, April 27, 2015

it takes a village

On Friday morning, my family & I are traveling from Georgia to Pennsylvania.

On Saturday, we're going to a family wedding.

From the wedding, we're heading to Ohio to stay at my in-laws and the next morning driving to Pittsburgh so that I can run my 8th marathon. 

As with most things, when I planned this little excursion, I didn't really think it through.

The conversation with my husband went something like this, "OH! We'll already be in PA why not run a marathon while we're there?"

God has blessed me with an amazing man who just smiles at my crazy ideas and goes along with it. He's the one who now has to drive a gazillion miles all over the Eastern seaboard just so that his wife can cross Pennsylvania off her #50marathons50states list. 

God has also blessed me with amazing best friends who are driving 5 hours, with two kids and one in utero, to watch my kids so that I can run said marathon. They are also bringing homemade cookies and muffins. Am I not the luckiest girl ever?

And if that wasn't enough, my husband's amazing Aunt & Uncle agreed to drive to Pittsburgh to pick up my race packet for me and deliver it to my in-laws.   

Clearly, it takes a village for a runner to run a marathon. 

And I couldn't be more thankful for my village. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Runner's World Classic Log is shutting down and I'm freaking out

I have a serious first world problem.

I have been using this running log since 2009. That's SIX YEARS of running data. Races. Shoes, Post baby comebacks. Basically, my entire running career exists on this log.


I don't even know what to do with myself.

I hate change.

But unless the internet rises up, May 11th will be a dark day, and on May 12th, I will need somewhere else to log my runs.

Right now, I have three options.

1. Training Peaks. Last year, in a moment on insanity I imported my data to this log. You can read about my reaction here. Needless, to say it was not positive. Now, that I have no choice and have to use another log, I'm going to try it again. Some very nice. kind people on Twitter have reached out and made offers to help me sort through everything and figure things out. Poor people. They have no idea what they're getting themselves into.

2. Map My Run. I have the app on my phone and have started logging runs starting from January 2015 but I'm not a fan. First of all, I don't run with my phone so a lot of the features are useless. Secondly, I know we live in a world where everyone tells everyone everything but no I DO NOT want you to post to Facebook for me thank you very much. I can assure you no one cares about how many miles I run in a week or how fast I run them.

3. Old school paper log. My only issue with this is the math. I would spend way too much time trying to figure out totals when the distances are wacky. But considering this is now the second online log that has shut down on me since I started running (I used Nike's log before they got started with all that sensor on the shoe nonsense) this might be the direction I'm headed.


Have I told you how much I hate change?

previous post: Race Report: Chick-fil-A Half Marathon

Monday, April 20, 2015

Race Report: Chick-fil-A Half Marathon

On Saturday, I ran my 9th half marathon.

I never intended to run this particular race, the Chick-fil-A Half Marathon, due to a somewhat already loaded race schedule.

However, one day on Twitter, the Chick-fil-A Connect race series (@cfaraceseries) reached out and suggested that I sign up for their half marathon in Athens, GA. I told them that I would love to but I had already blown my race budget for the year (I have the world's most understanding husband). They kindly offered me registration in return for writing a race report. How could I say no?

I ran a CFA race last year and was impressed by how smoothly it was run, how accessible and easy the website was to use, and the kindness and excitement of its volunteers. This race was no different.

Registration took minutes and there is no additional service fee that you often have to pay with other races. There was both expo packet pick up and same day pick up - which is awesome and so helpful for a Mom of 3. Parking was right near the start with lots of bathrooms and the race actually STARTED ON TIME. The course, although ridiculously hilly, was clearly marked and loaded up with upbeat and encouraging volunteers. It takes you through both residential sections of Athens and through the UGA campus, By the stadium, volunteers were throwing parachuting stuffed cows down upon the runners. I caught one and didn't even break my stride.

The only negative thing I can say about this race is about the finish. The finish line was located inside the Classic Center, and I continue to be confused by this phenomena. I'm not sure why races do this. It's usually so loud you can't hear yourself think, let alone figure out where the post race food is or why your running partner wants to take another sweaty picture of you. Plus, it smells. Runners smell. Especially after running 13.1 miles in very humid and sticky weather. It was downright nasty in there by the time I crossed the line. Anyone have any insight into this new trend?

Overall, though, it was a great race. How could it not be with cow mascots, bits of chicken on a stick, iced coffee, gels, and oranges on the course? Basically, it was a party.

And here's the best part...

Funds raised by participants, sponsors, and partners went directly to Athens' own Habitat for Humanity to help build their 82nd house in the Athens area. So not only did I get a stuffed cow, an awesome medal, but I helped make our community a little better. #winning.

Disclaimer: although I received free registration in return for this blog post, all opinions and views expressed are my own. 

previous post: napping: its what all the cool kids are doing

Thursday, April 16, 2015

napping: it's what all the cool kids are doing

I have a new favorite thing.


I've always been a big fan of sleep. I was definitely one of those teenagers that slept until noon on Saturdays. When we were first married, my husband would lurk in the doorway, waiting for me to get up. I'm pretty sure I threw a pillow at him and told him to leave me alone.

It wasn't until I had kids that I fully appreciated the wonderfulness that is a full night's sleep. I pumped exclusively for my first two children - every 4 hours, AROUND THE CLOCK, for months. I was a walking zombie. It was ugly. 

With our third child, we used formula and it was a whole new world. *cue Disney music*

Splitting up the feedings with my husband, I was sleeping 4 or 5 hours at a time. I was deliriously happy.

And now, 13 months later, I have a wonderful baby that still naps twice a day.     

so true so very true

Which means I get to nap!

Since I started this little experiment of napping for an hour or so in the mornings while the girls are at school, I've noticed a few changes. For one, I've been sleeping better at night; less tossing and turning and I've been falling asleep faster. I'm also less cranky in the late afternoon/early evening hours which in our house is the witching hour. Cranky Mommy + cranky kids = chaos and pandemonium. Rested Mommy + cranky kids = much less chaos and no screaming.

Everyone wins when Mommy naps.

previous post: feet only Ryan Gosling could love

Monday, April 13, 2015

feet only Ryan Gosling could love

After 6 months of training and two marathons, my feet are a hot mess.

Both big toenails are DOA and the joints are achy. My second toenail on my right foot is not long for this world.

I'm convinced I have knots in both arches. Did you know you could get a knot in your foot?

At about mile 11 of a 16 mile run, I seriously considered calling it a day. Both feet were killing me, like mile 25 of a marathon killing me, and I could feel every nerve in my toes as they slammed against the front of my shoes.

It's never been like this before.

I've lost toenails, dealt with achy toe joints and tired feet, but NEVER at the same time.

As soon as the run was done (of course I couldn't give up) I took my sneakers off, took a shower, got dressed, got in the car to go to my kids' swim lessons, and ordered a new pair of shoes in a bigger size. They should be here today. Thank you Amazon Prime.

In the meantime, I'm soaking my feet in a bucket I found in the basement and giving my husband pathetic looks until he gets the hint and rubs my feet.

The struggle is real.

previous post: anyone want to run a free race?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Anyone want to run a FREE race?

I signed up for another marathon.


During my brief stint as a possible Marathon Maniac, I came across a post about Mainly Marathons.

I had never heard of this group that holds 5 and 7 day, multi-state series all over the country. It's a 50 State Marathoner's dream come true.

Basically, they stage a week's worth of races, in different states, all within drive-able distance. One day you can race in West Virginia and the next in Virginia. It's a great way to add states in a short amount of time. You can race any day in a series or do all of them. Their races pride themselves on being low key, do not have time limits, and everyone from walkers to elites are welcome.

And did I mention registration was FREE!

This year, as a part of their 3 year anniversary, they are giving away 1 FREE registration to any one of their races.

There are a few stipulations (nothing tragic) that you can read about here on their website.

I signed up for the Appalachian Race series Day 1 in West Virginia. The thing that's making me slightly nervous about this one is that it's a lap race. The course is 2.184 miles and it will take 12 laps to complete it. 12 laps. The same 2.184 miles x 12. I have NEVER done anything like that before. It's either going to be totally awesome or it's totally going to suck.

Either way I'll be hanging out in West Virginia on an October morning if anyone would like to join me!    

previous post: Book Review: The Porcelain Thief

Friday, April 10, 2015

Book Review: The Porcelain Thief

I was bouncing around the interweb one day when I came across Blogging For Books. It's a nifty little site that will send you a physical copy or an ebook of a book of your choosing in return for a published review.

I didn't even have to think about it - I was signed up within minutes.

For my first book, I picked Huan Hsu's The Porcelain Thief, because I like the occasional memoir, and - having just read The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo - I was interested in reading more about China's history and contemporary culture.

Hsu was born here in America and always eschewed his parent's attempts to teach him about his Chinese heritage. He grew up in Utah and struggled with being different in such an homogeneous environment.

"While all other Chinese parents in America appeared to have given their children 'American' names, my parents - born in China, raised in Tawain, and educated in the United States - neglected to do so for me and my brother, for reasons they never fully explained. [...] Whenever I complained to my parents, they told me I was free to change my name to anything I liked when I turned eighteen. That felt like light-years away in my mind, and my parents always said it in a tone that suggested such an unfilial act might cause them to die of disappointment." (36)

In 1938, Hsu's great-great grandfather was a wealthy landowner, who, in the face of the invading Japanese, buried "[...] the family's heirlooms: intricately carved antique furniture, jades, bronzes, paintings, scrolls of calligraphy, and finally, Liu's beloved porcelain collection" (4) in the family garden. Over the course of decades, as his family's land was ravaged by the Japanese, the Nationalists, and then the Communists, no one knew if the goods had survived.

70 years later, Hsu moves halfway across the globe to discover the truth about the porcelain and in the process discovers more about himself and his Chinese identity.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. Hsu points out that understanding Chinese history can be difficult and there were moments when I had to ask my historian-husband questions to straighten out timelines and players in my head. His family tree is complicated, and littered with relatives whose names are practically the same. It's like reading a Chinese version of a Dostoevsky novel.

I will say, however, that while the book promises a chase into history after long buried porcelain, this story is really about a man coming to terms with the China of the past, and reconciling it with himself and the China of today. A large portion of the book is spent on Hsu's time living in China, experiencing daily life while working for his Uncle's company. I could have done without these sections. They left me feeling antsy and honestly appalled of the picture he was painting of modern-day China. Still, his description of the food left me craving quality Chinese food, something not found easily here in the Southeastern United States.

The stories of the porcelain and the trials that Hsu's great-great grandfather and other relatives suffered during China's tumultuous history would have made a great collection of short stories a la Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior. The lives of Hsu's relatives are rich and moving and were the most fascinating sections of the book.

While I wasn't overly crazy about this book, I still thought it was worth reading. I'm not one to finish something I'm not enjoying - life is too short to read a bad book. Pick it up to read while you're going through the motions of daily life - it will give you a new perspective.

I'm excited to be a part of the Blogging for Books crew and look forward to sharing some more awesome books with you in the future!

Disclaimer: while I received a copy of this book in return for a review, all opinions and views expressed are my own. 

previous post: I might need an Intervention

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

I might need an intervention

I'm a little bit of a hoarder.

Not in a scary, garbage on the floor, piles up to the ceiling way. More like I agonize over getting rid of certain things because I'm convinced 6 months from now I will need it.

Running clothes and gear fall into this category.

I currently have two drawers full of running clothes. One drawer for clothes I'm using right now and then an off season drawer. I have a small pile sitting in front of the off season drawer. They are my winter running clothes. The clothes I wore ALL winter. Which means they should be the only clothes that go into the winter running clothes drawer. Except for the fact that that drawer is FULL.

In fact, that drawer is so full I can't possibly smush anything else in there without hurting myself or breaking the actual drawer.

What in the world is in there?

Obviously nothing that I've used within the last year so WHY IN THE WORLD AM I KEEPING THEM?

I know I need to go through the drawer and be ruthless. I need to get rid of things that don't fit or don't make me feel fabulous.

I"m giving myself until this weekend. If I don't go through the clothes and thin them out then the WHOLE drawer is going straight to Goodwill.

Drastic times calls for drastic measures, people.

Previous post: Recipe Review: Chicken, Cheddar, & Broccoli Braid

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Recipe Review: Chicken, Cheddar, & Broccoli Braid

I don't know about you but I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest.

One one hand, it is a super awesome resource and on the other it just makes me want to quit life and hire a personal chef/secretary/party planner/home organizer person to make all my Pinterest dreams come true.

I'm at the point where I only use it to daydream about my house by a lake, in the mountains, with exposed wood beams, and brickwork and to feed my people. Most of my dinner recipes come from there - I have a board labeled Recipes of the Month so I can find things easily and quickly and when I make that meal (and it works) it gets pinned to a keeper board. That's about as organized and fancy as I get.

However, most of the recipes are ones that my children REFUSE to eat. I try to balance our monthly meals between healthy meals (that I know they won't eat even if I promised them the biggest chocolate sundae ever) and things that I can deconstruct so at least they'll eat something with nutritional value.

The struggle is real.

Yesterday, a miracle happened. I found a relatively healthy Pinterest recipe that my children actually ate! And it was easy to make! And it actually tasted good!

This one is a keeper.

Chicken, Cheddar, and Broccoli Braid
Recipe from Balancing Beauty & Bedlam

What you'll need:
  • 2 cups cooked chicken breast, cubed
  • 1 cup fresh broccoli, finely chopped
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese (or your favorite)
  • ½ cup bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons seasoning salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 Tablespoon spicy or dijon mustard 
  • 1/2 cup regular or light mayonnaise
  • 2 tubes (8 ounces each) refrigerated crescent rolls
*I left out the cheese, onion, and garlic because my husband's tummy is not a fan of onion and I actually forgot all about both the cheese and the garlic. The kids are home from school for Spring Break and I'm operating on fumes at this point. 

How to make it:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine broccoli, chicken, bell pepper, onion, cheese, mayonnaise, minced garlic, mustard and seasoning salt.
  3. Mix well.
  4. Unroll one tube of crescent dough onto an ungreased baking sheet. 
  5. Repeat with second tube to form a 15-in. x 12-in. rectangle.
  6. The two will overlap a bit. Seal seams to form one large rectangle.
  7. Using a sharp knife, cut horizontal strips approximately 2 ½ inches long, but 11/2 inch apart down each side of the crescent dough.
  8. Spoon filling lengthwise down the center third of dough.
  9. To braid, bring one strip from each side over the filling, meet in center and twist each strip once, then seal ends. Repeat. When you get to the end of the braid, tuck ends of loaf to seal
  10. Bake for 25 minutes or until top is golden brown.
On the website there is a handy dandy video to show you how to create the awesome braid effect with the crescent roll. I was using my phone, at the time, and the video wouldn't come up so I had to have my 6 year-old remind me which direction was horizontal. Not my finest moment. But it was all worth it when I put empty dishes in the dishwasher without having to scrape an entire meal into the garbage first. #winning. 

*a special shout out to Lindsay whose Pinterest board, Tried It, I stole this from! Thanks Linds!