Monday, June 24, 2013

Monday's Memory

More randomness while I am out of pocket (hopefully) enjoying myself on vaca...

Hard to believe she's already 9 years old!!
 Hopefully we've all been spared meltdowns on this family trip.

Since one of our stops is the Grand Canyon,
I suspect there will be lots of shenanigans like this ^^^ where Jay and I get too close to a ledge (read: about 6 feet away) and my dad almost has a heart attack. 

Despite temps projected to be in the 100+ range, we're looking at evening temperatures in the Grand Canyon into the 30s.  Hopefully we've all packed the right cool to warm clothes ratio.

Its been several years since my sister and I have went on vacation together. 

Traveling with a 9 year old and a 5 year old...what could go wrong???

Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday Confessions

Every friday on her blog Live Simply-Live Well, readers are treated to Friday Confessions.  Ranging from her "Whore foot" to wearing socks with sandals to making her dog pee on-the-run, she's always good for a laugh.

Don't forget to leave your confession!  What happens Friday on her blog, stays there!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Cooking Thursday

One of the sweetest blog ladies I know is Mari.  She is a proud mama, grand mama, and wife.  The stories she shares about the residence of the nursing home where she works are always fun.  Also, every Thursday, she tempts my diet by sharing a cooking Thursday recipe.

Head on over and see what she's got cooking today.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Training Tuesday - Version B&J.2

Today is the start of my vacation, so instead of a standard training Tuesday post I thought I'd give a shout out to my other training Tuesday posters.  Bari, Jaime and I met online courtesy of the Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans.

I was thankful to host them in my home town for the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon last year.

If you don't already follow them, check out their blogs and give them some love.  They are 2 awesome chicas!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Summer Solstice 8 - Race Report

I started the summer with this in mind as a goal race.  Then Kelly chatted with Joe...and it quickly dropped back into a "for fun" position.  Not sure in who's mind "fun" = running in almost 90* heat with some of the toughest hills this area has to offer. 

Okay so I confess - I was in it for the post race beer.  Sure I could sit at home in the comfort of my a/c and drink 24 bottles of my pricey imports for the cost of the race.  Pesky little details.

Kelly & I attempted speed work outside on Wednesday - she partially completed hers.  I ran/walked trying not to die.  I knew at that point it wouldn't be a stellar race, but I'd already dropped the $$$ so what was I to do?

Then I heard via twitter there were dogs on the course.  I'm afraid dogs.  I was bit as a child.  My dad has a scar on his face.  My cousin got bit pretty badly just a few years ago.  I tend to shriek and run when they come near me.  Big, small, it doesn't matter.

Over the years my running buddies have helped out.   Lisa actively positioned herself between me and any dogs we would encounter training for Covenant.  I've jumped behind Bob.  I've pushed Kelly toward the dog.  Racing, I knew this wouldn't be an option.  I wanted to bail.  I'm thankful I did not.

I felt decent the first couple miles.  A gradual uphill registered in the first mile, only because I knew we'd be returning and I could enjoy it as a downhill in mile 5. 

Mile 1: 8:59

I had my headphones in, but I heard a dog just past the 1st mile marker.  I couldn't see it, so I had no clue what breed.  The bark didn't seem like a "how awesome - runners" but rather a "grrr - strange people I don't know" kinda bark.

I started reciting one of my life verses.  Out loud I think.  Or at least as a mumble.  "For God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.  power, love, and a sound mind.  power, love, and a sound mind.  power, love, and a sound mind." 

Victory #1 - I didn't get bit by the dog.

Victory #2 - I didn't quit because of fear.

Victory #3 - I didn't cry (Although this was a close one.  Thank God for sunglasses)

Mile 2: 9:52

Due to the out and back nature, I knew the 2nd portion contained a difficult hill - dubbed "puke hill" by racers.  Someone had even spray painted a bull's eye on the road with "puke here" or some such written. 
*Next time I do this race, I'm going to carry my camera/phone.

Mile 3: 10:10

The scenery for this race is gorgeous.  We saw horses, pasture fields, and Natty Ice cans in the ditch.  Okay so maybe the beer can liter isn't pretty, but you get the idea.  The major problem with open grass/hay is pollen.  I could smell it the whole time and it did a number on my breathing.  Not that my un-heat trained lungs would have functioned well any way, but this made it extra rough.  Worth it though, for the prettiness and the shade of the trees along the way.

Puke hill did a number on my average pace (I was walking up at at a 17:XX) and for my mental game. I checked out and didn't bother to push through the discomfort. I forced myself to run at the top of every other song, although I didn't make myself run the whole song. 

Mile 4: 11:52

Around the 4 mile marker, I finally saw the source of the barking.  It was a little yappy dog (unattended) on the side of the road.  He neither looked friendly nor scary, and at this point I didn't have enough energy to freak.  I just kept pushing, without letting him out of eye sight until I went up over the hill.

Finally I got back on the downhill and I knew I was almost done.  Beer just around the corner!!

Mile 5: 10:41

Finishing Time: 51:16 (chip)
Age Group: 12/21
Overall: 104/176

I love the 8K and 10K distances.  They are each long enough to not be a sprint the entire way, but short enough to post some fast times.  While this definitely isn't a race or PR course, I enjoyed it.  Next year I'll know what to expect.  Until then, I've got a couple of other 8K races in my sights for the summer.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

God's Provision - Jabez Style

This past week, God did something huge in my life.
A few days ago, we received potentially life-changing news.
My heart is anxious with worry regarding a letter we received in the mail.

I don't know how to write this blog.  I have an incredible story of God's provision in my life, but don't feel as if I can share all the parts.  Hardly any of the parts really.

I don't want to be the blogger who teases the reader with a few details, leaving them wondering more about what was left out rather than getting the point of the story.

I don't want my blessings in life to be seen as a point of bragging.  Praying for wisdom, I know I can say:  Life is hard.  God is good. 

I don't know where to begin the story.  I suppose the beginning is as good a place as any.  "In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth."  Just kidding...but seriously.  I've blogged about God's provision before.  He vetoed my mother's choice of curtains, sending her something better.  He provided me a training buddy when I was in need.  Then there was the time He showed me a safe place to ride my bike.

Earlier in the week, we received a letter in the mail from a bank.  A creditor of ours had went under, and been bought out by a new institution.  Immediately, I saw God's hand at work.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel just a bit scared by the news, but mostly I just saw my Provider.

Last year, Jay "just so happened" to fall in love with a property he was researching for potential clients.  The cabin was love-at-first-sight for me as well.  We wrote out a pro/con list.  I prayed for wisdom.  I asked God to put up road blocks if the cabin wasn't for us. 

Months later we were the proud owners of 2 mortgages/tax/insurance/electric & bills.  Through it all, God provided.  I thank God for giving my husband the means, ability, and work ethic to support our family.  After one contract fell through, we were able to very quickly get another contract on our farm house.

The house met the couples needs and desires, and was in perfect timing for them to get settled before their baby is born.  For us, the timing was also perfect.  The sale of our farm house plays heavy into my current topic of provision.

If we hadn't purchased the cabin...
If Jay's hard work hadn't combined with real estate luck...
If our farm house hadn't sold when it did...
If we had chosen to invest our money differently...


God knew.  Last year, He knew this week would come.  Like a farmer tilling the ground, He began working; preparing us (financially) for this moment.  We are still in the planting season, but I am assured He is at work. 

When I think about it, I'm speechless.
When I think about it, I tear up.
When I think about Him, I get chill bumps.

"Praise the Lord, oh my soul - oh my soul.
I worship His holy name..."

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Epic Birthday Weekend - Part 2, the Gift Edition

The weekend had been so busy, Jay couldn't find time to give me my gifts. Sunday evening, while I whined about it on Facebook, he was busy setting everything up.

First came the note in a mostly-empty bag of potato chips.

Hints got me started on my scavenger hunt to find 2 gifts he'd hidden in the house. He does this so he doesn't have to wrap anything or buy me a card, but its fun so I let him get by with it.

The first gift was a message in a bottle - not sure if you can see it, but the beer bottle even has a picture of a ship on it.

GIFT #1 - Jay being responsible for dinner for the next 14 days! *Disclaimer at the bottom advising that the coupon has no cash value and cannot be redeemed for any other services.*

The next gift was hinted at as being an "approximation" of the first gift. (First gift being a message.) The location hint was "in an area designed by Jay" - meaning the closet. I knew that right away, however finding it was like a needle in a hay stack.

This is my side of the closet.  I assumed (hoped) he hadn't hidden it on his side amongst his thrift store t-shirt collection.  I felt each of the stacks trying to find something lumpy.  Finally Jay gave up on me and started saying "hot" or "cold" depending on how close I got.
Turns out, my gift was flat, thus making it difficult to find.  Eventually I stuck my hand under my KTC Socialites race jersey.
And pulled it out to find...

A gift certificate to my favorite spa!!
I get to have a manicure, pedicure, and a 50 minute massage!! My man knows me well.  I love the time and effort he put into the scavenger hunt, not to mention the work he's going to be doing the next few days cooking me dinner!! 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Epic Birthday Weekend - Part 1


My birthday weekend started pretty low key.  Of course I had to get up at normal time to head into work, but since I {most} enjoy my coworkers the actual waking up is the hardest part.  At lunch time, I met my mom and the weather was nice enough for us to eat on the restaurant patio.

She had made my favorite cake for me - strawberry, with fresh berries mixed/drizzled into the cake and a cool whip based icing.  I decide to be greedy and only share with the dudes in my office (who are afraid of getting fat).  More cake for me!  I'm allowed to be selfish on my birthday right?

After work, some friends came over for a gourmet dinner of hot dogs, chili, and potato chips.  Birthday cookie cake and watermelon drinks (after a failed attempt to make vodkamelon) were enjoyed by all.  Jay was our manservant for the evening, but eventually grew tired of me ringing the cow bell.  He hid it in the freezer and retreated outside.

Two of the girls watched as Melissa and I battled it out on the Wii.  I'm awesome at Just Dance.  I swear my remote needed new batteries or something.  I NEVER lose.  It must have been rigged or something.  That's the last time I ask a guest to bring the games!

We enjoyed the hot tub, then moved to the back patio to watch a movie.  The movie was short lived due to a nearby skunk making his presences known.


 Unfortunately, we're old enough that a late bedtime did not equal sleeping in. We were up by 8, and enjoyed a pancake breakfast before heading to the pool for a couple hours.

Thankfully I was able to snag a bit of a nap before Jay and I met up with my parents to go see the fireflies in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 
We had a picnic, Jay did a little fishing, and we planned our upcoming trip to the Grand Canyon & Las Vegas.  The mountain air was cold crisp, the fireflies were scarce, but we had a good time any way.


After 2 late evenings, I was excited to be able to sleep in Sunday morning.  Jay and I were late to church (watching a Knoxville service at 10AM on TV) because I was in the kitchen getting my stuff ready for that afternoon's family reunion.  Luckily, I remembered in time to get the TV on and Jay awake by the scripture reading/preaching.

Beyond just the usual feast (which was present and accounted for) someone had brought several boxes of old pictures and family heirlooms for everyone to go through.  I was excited to snap a picture of a picture of my great uncle Ray, who died during the World War II Normandy invasion (on D-day).

Ray wasn't married when he was shipped off, so the flag which draped his coffin went to his mother (my great grandmother).  Upon her death it went to one of the sisters in the family.  As the biggest living advocate to keep his memory alive, my mother yesterday got the flag and a large framed photo of him.

Old deeds, letters, wills, and pictures were fun looking through, and anyone who was interested took home a few pieces of family tradition.


Friday, June 7, 2013

Kicking it Old School

A. Attached or Single?
Attached.  Hence the "wife" in the blog name.
B. Best Friend?
Kelly.  Both my sister and my training partner are named Kelly. 
Both listen to me rant far too often. 
Both would do anything I asked them. 

C. Cake or pie?
Cake. Depending on what kind. And who made it.

D. Day of choice?

E. Essential Item?

F. Favorite color?
Purple. Always.

G. Gummy bears or worms?
I'm a gummy wh*re.
I'll take whatever I can get.

H. Hometown?
Sevierville, Tennessee

I. Favorite Indulgence?
Pizza.  Wings.  Beer.  Cheesecake

J. January or July?
January - we might get snow. 
 I get several days off work. (New Years Day, MLK Jr. Day)


K. Kids?
um, no.  not if i can help it.
L. Life isn’t complete without?
Pausing to give thanks.
M. Marriage date?
November 8th

N. Number of brothers/sisters?
The best sister in the world. (See B.)

O. Oranges or Apples.
So hard to compare the two...both are good in their own ways :P

P. Phobias?
Enclosed spaces
Nuclear Radiation

Q. Quotes?
Bridget Jones "I believe that happiness is truly possible, even if you have a bottom the size of 2 bowling balls."

R. Reasons to smile?
Grace & Mercy daily
S. Season of choice?
Fall.  The temps  of spring without the pollen!

T. Tagging 
 YOU! You know you wanna...

U. Unknown fact about me?
I'm a pretty open person. 
For better or worse there isn't much I haven't already shared.

V. Vegetable?
Cucumbers (must be fresh from my dad's garden,)
 otherwise red peppers

W. Worst habit?
Being critical.
Of myself.
Of strangers.
Of family.

X. Xray or Ultrasound?
No thanks, I'm good.

Y. Your favorite food?
Mashed potatoes

Z. Zodiac sign?
Linking up with The Miss Elaine-ous Life

Thursday, June 6, 2013

On Hot Tubbing, Gray Hair, and oh yeah, The Meaning of Life

Tomorrow is my 33rd birthday.  I won't pretend I'm old, or wise.  Sure I have a few "crowns of glory" poking their way through my scalp (Kelly does an excellent job plucking them as she sees them pop up), but I'm far from the rocking chair on the front porch.
Having said that...
For the past year, the faster my running becomes, the more I respect people who run slowly (including Super Boo, who ran her first half marathon in 2:44:5X).
Similarly, the more money Jay & I acquire, the more stuff we have, the more I realize life isn't about those things.  While its certainly fun to have luxuries, the people with whom they are shared define the quality of life.
Its not the hot tub, but the friends who bring their suits when they visit.
Not the cupcake, but the family who joins you on the after-dinner dessert run.
Not the king sized bed, but the husband who spoons you while sleeping in it.
As Suze Orman puts it "People first, then money, then things."  Here are just a few thankful items 1151-1220 for the past two weeks. 
1159) Running group members cheering me on at Expo 10K
1167) Friends to help w/the move
1178) New owners of the Farmhouse understanding
re: our needing trips finish up after closing
1181) Letting the Princess spend money on silly items at Dollywood
1190) Downhill @ Dawn - beautiful sunrise
1202) TV church Sunday morning w/Jay
1208) Co-worker's veggie steamer
1211) Surprise lunch plans w/the 'Rents
1217) John & Courtney's Yellowstone slide show.
How has God blessed you in your relationships this past week?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

How much?

I'm currently reading the book Enough by Will Davis Jr.  In one section of the book, he asks his readers to consider what they would grab if told their home would be destroyed in 30 seconds.

I know its a question Jaime has blogged. (Although in a quick look through recent posts, I wasn't able to find the link.  Too lazy for more than that.)  The author suggests the things we would grab in the heat of the moment (figuratively or literally as the scenario may be) are that which are most important to us.
Thinking this through for myself netted an unsure answer.  I've always thought I would grab a the dirty clothes hamper - practically speaking its the quickest way to ensure you have clothing to wear in the days to come. 
My jewelry box is also high on the list.  Most of my jewelry is costume, save a few pieces Jay has purchased for me.  However, the value isn't found in the amount paid for the items.  I have quite a few necklaces and broaches that belonged to my great grandmother.  Every time I wear them, I think of her, and my heart smiles all day.
Living in 2 houses at once (with only some of my things at each house) made me reconsider what items I use daily.  I've already taken several boxes of stuff that we can live without to the thrift store.  Another large box (full of pants Jay no longer needs) waits in the closet to be taken to the Knoxville homeless ministry.
On several occasions, packing and unpacking has felt like a chore.  Material things I would have once considered blessings began to become burdens.  I wasn't eager, excited, or even desperate to unpack those items.  It was just stuff.  Junk even. 
I'm not even close to answering the question "Just how much is enough?" Heck - I'm not even finished with the book! Davis has confirmed my conclusion in my surpassing "Enough" into the land of "Too Much."  Not because I want to wear a potato sack or eat dinner on the floor, but because I don't want my life to revolve around acquisitions.  I want to experience adventure, and if I'm honest, sometimes stuff just gets in the way.
How do you define "enough"?
Have you purged your house for rarely used items recently?
How often do you clean out your closet?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Downhill at Dawn Half Marathon Race Report

When Jaime first told me about the Downhill at Dawn half marathon near her neck of the woods, I immediately wanted to run the race.  As a kid, my church’s youth group had attended retreats at Ridgecrest, NC.  I knew the scenery would be gorgeous; the early morning weather would be mild for June, and downhill?  This had all the makings of the perfect race.

We arrived at the race at 5, as per their instructions.  We had plenty of time to hit the bathroom a couple of times, stretch out, and just relax a bit before the race.  I ate a whole packet of shot bloks (along with having a Lara bar for breakfast) and drank a bottle of nuun enhanced water waiting for the gun. 

Jaime had given me a bottle of G2, which I poured into my hand held.  Gatorade wouldn’t be available until mile 8 on the course, but water would be more prevalent.  My hydration plan was a success, and will be repeated in warmer races.
(from here on out the pictures are taken from Jaime, with permission)
We lined up at the start beside some friends of Jaime’s.  We realized too late that we were practically the front row, but we were too close to gun time to migrate backward.  The race was small enough (just under 400) to make passing easy.  In the first few miles, I felt like I did a lot of being passed and a lot of passing.

 Mile 1 - 8:10

True to the name, the first mile was downhill.  The first half was in the 7s, which is crazy fast for me.  I tried to hold back, knowing that there were some uphills coming.

 Mile 2 - 8:32

This mile was mostly flat, with a bit of a decline.  The only out & back section of the race, I started seeing the top runners coming towards me.  This meant that Jaime & I had the right direction in mind when driving part of the course the day before. 

Mile 3 - 9:22

At this point I could see the slight incline and settled into a steady pace in anticipation of what was to come.

Mile 4 - 10:20

This mile was hard yo.  Downhill my @$$!!  This was the first point where I wondered if my sub 2 goal was attainable.  I hadn’t trained much for this race (no long runs since my last half) and I knew it could easily catch up with me.  As I rounded the top of the hill, I was reminded why I was running this race.

Mile 5 – 9:33

Turns out, Jaime and I were wrong when we assumed we knew which direction at the fork the race would take.  Instead of downhill, we went up.  Again. Hurrah!  Or something like that.  Thankfully the incline was brief and took us to the trail portion of the course.

Around this point I realized I hadn’t taken Gu yet (I normally take one every 3-4 miles), so I quickly took one, turned on my music, and got after it.

Mile 6 - 8:51

The serious downhill section is on a dirt/gravel road.  There were some big rocks which required me to keep myself alert, but weren’t painful as I had feared. 

Mile 7 - 8:40

I very much enjoyed this whole section, and not just because of the downhill.  The foliage was a gorgeous green; there was a waterfall, and a stream.  It reminded me of running in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 


Mile 8 - 8:51

My paces were good, but not great.  I regretted changing my watch from average pace to lap pace.  I wasn’t sure they were good enough to pull up that slow mile 4.  Thankfully the downhill portions didn’t hurt, yet.  My calves were starting to tighten up, but nothing I couldn’t push through. 

Mile 9 - 8:53

Around mile 9, we went off the gravel road and headed for the pavement.  I noticed my Garmin started to read short on distance.  I had read other race reports from previous years that this was a short course, although the web page shows the course certification information.  I started rounding the corners to try to add on more distance.

Mile 10 - 9:06

Heading into town, this mile straightened out.  Still gorgeous surroundings, only now we had fans cheering along the side of the road.  Nothing like in the big city races, but just enough to get me down the road until I saw the next set.

Mile 11 - 9:33

This mile had the final uphill.  After all that down, my quads were screaming.  I didn’t want to go this fast.  Honestly, I wasn’t sure I was going very fast.  Once again, I found myself thinking “downhill  my @$$”.

Mile 12 - 8:55

I was thankful when we finally started running downhill again.  I did the math on the run (knowing that math-in-my-head skills are sketchy at best), knowing I’d really have to screw something up to not finish under 2 hours.

Mile 13 - 9:27

Turning the corner off the road we’d be traveling, runners were directed toward a sidewalk.  The race finishes in a small town.  There was very little shade and I’m fairly certain it was an incline.  When I saw the finish area, I tried to push but found nothing left to give.  The uphill turn into the parking lot was brutal (and very typical of Asheville area races per Jaime). 

Finishing Time: 1:57:47
12.9 my garmin read.  A short course? Seriously?

I grabbed some water, and then headed around the church to finish my race on a side street.  When I came back to the finish to cheer Jaime and her friends in, I found them already done.  She had used both her Garmin and her phone to track her paces/distance.  Her Garmin read short (and she noticed at several points along the course it had lost signal) but her phone showed the full 13.1 distance.  Thus explaining how a certified course was short.  It wasn’t, but satellites and tree canopies don’t always get along.

(total garmin time 1:59:14)

Not only had I met my goal of running the race in under two hours, I also met my 8:XX average pace goal.  Just barely! 8:59 was my average over the 13.1 miles.

Overall standings: 134/398
*top 1/3

Age group: 10/42
*top 1/4

In hindsight, I wish I would have taken training for this race more seriously.  Who knows what I would have been able to do.  Also, downhill races, while fun, aren’t easy.  My poor quads & calves still hate me today.


A Sub 2 Hour Half Marathoner