Friday, May 30, 2014


I wasn't able to get any great photos at the Dolly Parton Concert on Wednesday, but this certainly was a great moment! Dolly singing Coat of Many Colors live made me tear up, of course the song always has that affect on me.

Jay has been dealing with hella bad allergies this week, so my friend Kristi went with me to the show.

We clapped, danced, and sang along where appropriate (Apple Jack, 2 Doors Down, 9 to 5, and Islands in the Stream.)

She also sang some songs from her new album. I didn't know any of the words but she was still fun to hear (and watch!!)

She ended the night with I Will Always Love You, and of course we swayed along.

I need to do better about keeping my real camera charged for moments like this. The phone is all well and good for selfies and goofy race photos, but being on the 30th row I have no excuse for not getting better pictures than this!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Expo 10K - Race Report

Like with SMARM and Law Enforcement 5Ks, I wanted to run KTC's Expo 10K this spring to see how I stacked up to this time last year. Unfortunately for comparison sake, this year's course followed a different route. The start/finish was in the same location, but were in opposite directions as last year.

Equivalency calculators helped me arrive at a 52:25 goal time, and a few running friends confirmed it to be a good solid goal given my strong runs. This time last year, I hadn't trained for the race but this year I was dedicated. In 8 weeks, I only missed 3 workouts - each a cross training, never missing any planned runs.

As with most races these days, I carpooled with a couple of friends. Then we met up with other buddies and teammates near the registration tables. I lined up at the start with Brad, my marathon training partner, but knew his goal would be difficult for me to achieve.

The race started with a beast of an uphill climb, made more intimidating by the double loop nature of the course. This hill split me and Brad up in the crowd, and I tried to hold back and run my own race.

Mile 1 - 8:19

The next couple of miles were uneventful. The course was full of short, steep hills. I tried to run the flats and downs quickly enough to make up for the slowed pace on the ups. At least for a little while the strategy worked.

Mile 2 -  8:21
Mile 3 - 8:23

The temperature was only 60ish, but it was incredibly muggy. After completing the first loop, I was already regretting not carrying my own water. The aid station was at the base of that first big hill, so on my second passed I walked through and took some Gatorade.

My race became mental as I walked up the hill, thinking about how difficult the course was and how I had to attack it a second time. I had given up when I felt a hand on my back.

It was my "run husband" Johnny. He encouraged me up the hill and he and I stayed together for the next couple of miles. No doubt I would have lost all my work if not for him.

Mile 4 - 8:55

Mile 5 - 8:52

He stopped to walk at the last water stop, and I pulled ahead. On the Henley Street bridge a daily mile buddy (Super Dave) passed me. After exchanging words of encouragement, I picked up my pace and attempted to keep him in site. With so many turns along the course, that didn't happen but it did get my feet moving a little more quickly.

Mile 6 - 8:42

The finish line situation sucked, if I'm honest. The 10Kers had to go an additional 0.1 past the 5K finish, which was confusing for some. Mostly it was just discouraging finishing on an uphill. 

Final 0.2 (.38) - {8:10}

My finishing time was a full 2 minutes off what I had hoped. I'd be lying if I said I was completely happy with it. I went out too fast, underestimated how much the hills took out of me, and allowed myself to become mentally defeated.

HOWEVER I still managed a 45 second PR on a more difficult course (according to Garmin elevation profiles.)  Add to that the lessons learned to aid in future racing and I definitely count this one as a win.

Chip Time: 54:30
Age Group: 13/41

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Investment, Security, Trust

Back in the olden days, I blogged about my family finances. Without providing detailed figures, I shared about our quest to become debt free. These days, our goals have changed a bit and we're working to find what our differences mean for our financial future.

Before I met my darling, I had 2 major financial goals: to become debt free and accumulate a million dollar net worth by my 40th birthday. These days, pushing my 34th birthday, the feeling behind the goals are still present but the specifics have changed a bit.

The core motivation behind both of these goals is security. Each represent, in their own way, power and control. A lack of fear when it comes to money seems to be the path to freedom. 

Are these feelings sinful? That's something I've wrestled with a bit. Is my drive for these things a lack of trust in God to provide for me? Is it an assumption that I'll be around indefinitely and need the funds? Both of those are very dangerous view points.

Almost 6 years ago, I became the wife of a realtor. I didn't realize real estate was less a profession and more a way of life. Success transactions for others has led to success for ourselves, buying and selling property on a very small scale. 

If I were comfortable taking on investment debt, my husband would be thrilled to find that success on a larger scale. My gut (or is it my Dave Ramsey indoctrination?) says not just no, but hell no. There is too much risk. However when I break it down into a trust issue, I waiver.

Do I trust my husband to be good at his job? To be smart when it comes to investments, returns, and calculated risks? Yes, he has proven this over and over.

Do I trust God to care for me as He does the lilies of the field?  Yes. He has proven Himself over and over. Not just in my life, but also in the lives of family and friends.


These choices come with pressure. What if he's wrong? What if being broke is His best will for us? What if this really isn't a trust/sin issue, but rather the Holy Spirit trying to protect me from a harmful path?

I have no answers, just lots of uncertainty. Please feel free to share thoughts, struggles, or ideas. Otherwise, I'd just appreciate prayers.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Little River Trail + Cades Cove

After moving closer to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park,
Jay and I are enjoying some of the shorter hikes it has to offer.
This past weekend we hit the Little River Trail in Elkmonk,
and Jay spent the whole time wishing he had his fly fishing rod.

Elkmont is one of the more unique places in park. 
Its typically hailed as the best place to watch the synchronized fireflies in the summer. 
(Yes it does sound lame. However, it is actually cool.) 
It also was a summer retreat back in the day. 

These cabins are now owned by the park, vacant with "no trespassing" signs up. 
(See the red, white, and blue sign below.)

Its kinda cool to see what rich-folk considered vacation homes 100 years ago. 

On to the hike!! The trail connects with other parts of the park, as many do, 
but the Little River trail itself is just 2. miles

Cucumber Gap is a wide, gravely dirt path which follows the water for most of the trail. 
Most of the trails this wide were once logging roads, so that's my guess for this one as well.

Compared to Ramsay's or Rainbow, this falls isn't very big, 
but definitely worth the stroll back to see it. 
Of course Jay and I had to make the hike a bit more epic by hiking up the sides.

Please don't judge me wearing make-up. 
I went to church earlier in the day, and it was picture day for me.

 I'd officially joined the class the week before 
and the teacher warned me on Facebook she'd be coming after a snap of me. 
I'm normally a make-up-less worker outer.

At the Cucumber Gap trail intersection, the path loops around a different way to get back to the trail-head. Jay and I continued forward to the Huskey Gap junction and were treated with another water crossing for our trouble.

I tried to get all artsy-fartsy, but my lack of skill paired with a Walmart photo will only take me so far.

With plenty of daylight left, we decided to head to Cades Cove to see some wildlife.

The bear-jam on the way into the cove was the most exciting part of the afternoon.

The cub in the tree was hard to spot, even harder to snag a picture of.

Even without much to see once we hit the loop, 
a day in Cades Cove beats a day pretty much any where.

So far, these day trips into the National Park have been the only taste of vacation I've had all year. Are you planning any thing fun or exciting for the summer?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Reflections - A Guest Post by my Mama

My mom wrote this after walking her first (and so far only) 5K of the year. She originally wrote it as a way to work through her thoughts, then typed it up to consider sharing. Showing true bravery, she allowed her English major daughter to edit it with the red pen of doom. To say I'm proud of her would be understating an obvious truth. I'll shut up now, and allow you to read just a glimpse of why.
March 6, 2014
Life is a series of events, emotions and choices. We learn or grow when our faith is stretched. Sometimes in the middle of a trial we beg God to hurry His process so that we can get to the “end” of the learning pains. In His wisdom, the growing pains come at the proper timing to enhance our spiritual walk.
In February, Sam and I wanted to do our first 5K since his knee replacements and my knee scope. We decided to participate in the Wounded Warrior Benefit Run. As the date approached, we were not sure we could actually finish. However by the day of the race, we were ready to go! After a fantastic start, we were, for us at a good pace. Encouragers were pushing us to kick it up a notch without knowing our limitations. 

We aspired to finish, hopefully before the first 10 miler crossed the finish line. My desire to speed up my pace remained strong with the finish line in close view and the leader of the 10 miles in our rear-view, coming closer. But after careful reflection, the hurried finish was not worth the potential cost. Re-injury would have only put us on another long recovery.
Do I do the same with God? By hurrying to get to my “finish line,” do I rush headlong into a choice? Do I ignore my faith and make the journey more difficult and painful? I see what I think is the answer and rush head-long without waiting for God to give me directions. Without His guidance, I am insecure and inpatient. Anxiety, emotional hurt and depression are abundant. My mind is filled with insignificant thoughts and my spiritual life is non-productive. 

Saturday, Sam and I had patience and approached the finish line at a comfortable pace. With no injuries, we will continue to exercise for a better life. In life, let us have patience for God’s guidance so that we may strongly finish not only for our benefit but, also for the sake of others. Dear God, I pray that when I have a closed heart and ears that I will visualize the “finish” and wait on You.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Once in a Lifetime?

Earlier this week, Jay & I looked at a cabin we are interested in purchasing. On the back deck, I snapped this picture.

The property overlooks a river, and has beautiful surroundings. My intention was to make this my "best shot" I shared this week.


Odd as it may seem, I've owned more real estate than cars in my life. Heck - I've owned more houses than cars!! (That is assuming that my car that I brought into the marriage is mine and his cars are his.) 

Yesterday, I had to pull over on the side of the road and take a picture of something so rare, I've never seen it in my lifetime. Discussing it over dinner with my parents, its not anything they have ever seen either. Not to say, of course, that I'll never see it again, but Quinn will always be my first.

The first car I ever paid for,
My first brand new car,
and now
My first car to ever hit 200,000 miles.

Thanks for the memories babe! 
And cups up to another 100,000!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Lesson in Hospitality - Trophy Wife 101

A gift for some, a chore for others.

For this trophy wife it can often seem like a second job.  Most of his sales are rental properties or second homes, so when the clients-turned-friends come back into town, they often want to meet up with us for dinner.

Last week was one such opportunity. But first, some back-story.

Picture it - 2008. A new married couple return from their honeymoon early and attend a real estate auction. A 5.55 acre lot is their first piece of real estate and also their first joint debt. They planned to build their forever home there.

Skipping to the point, we ended up selling it. Only shocking to those who don't know about the nomadic life we've had the past 5+ years. We are currently living in our 3rd house, and have a date scheduled this evening to consider a prospect for #4.

The couple who purchased it from us is from out of town, but visit the area often. Whenever they are in town, they let Jay know and we try to get together. This past week was such a time. They have built a gorgeous home on the land and invited us over for a champagne toast to celebrate.

Okay now I'm really to the point - they don't have furniture in their home yet. Their grill isn't hooked up. . The burgers were cooked in the oven, we sat in lawn chairs, and used a 5 gallon bucket for a table. Yet I've never felt more warm hospitality than I did that evening.

I experienced another example over the Mothers Day weekend. I offered to take my mother and grandmother out to lunch, but neither wanted to bother with the crowds. Instead, my mom hosted us at her house. We ate burgers and potato chips off of paper plates.

Hospitality has less to do with fine china and a perfectly set table, and more to do with the heart of the host. Opening up my home shouldn't have to be a big presentation, but rather a time of good conversation. Enjoying friends and family, even if the house isn't spotless.

I'm slowly learning that its okay to say "don't take off your shoes, my floor is too dirty" when guests arrive. Chances are, their house isn't spotless either and my admission will make them feel right at home.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Law Enforcement Memorial 5k - Race Report

As with the SMARM 5K, the Law Enforcement Memorial Run 5K is one I try to participate in every year. With a time so close to my personal record last week, I knew the terrain of the LEMR would allow me the opportunity to best it.

And what fun a race without a costume? Kelly made us each a convict tank with "Inmate No." on the front - just above our bib number and "Out for Good Behavior" on the back.

Kelly has been doing a lot of reading about proper warm ups and cool downs, so after pictures she and I headed out for 20 minutes of warming up pre-race. Once again we ran a bit, walked a bit, ran some more, did 3 strides. The plan was to do more, but we realized we were pushing it a bit close to race start.

Kelly's husband Bob was also racing, and he lined up at the start with me. He and I ran most of last year's Crazy 8's race together, successfully for us both. He stuck with me well the first mile. We went out a tad fast, but the hill at the end of the first mile kept us very close to the 8:10 pace we were trying to hit.

Mile 1 - 8:08

My race plan called for negative splits, and I was able to pick my pace up for the 2nd mile. Bob fell behind by a hair but I felt fast and strong.

Mile 2 - 8:01

By the 3rd mile mile, I was starting to feel it. My pace struggled at the start of the mile, including the one little bump of a hill. In this mile, Bob caught up to me and passed me. Thankfully I was able to pick it up enough to stay just behind him. I think seeing him motivated me to keep on pushing.

Mile 3 - 8:07

I tried to kick it up the last tenth of a mile, but didn't find much there. There was a dude just a few steps in front of me, and I heard my buddy Joe yell at me to pass him. Unfortunately, I just didn't have anything left. (Or maybe that means I raced smart?)

Final 0.1 {8:13}

I found it very amusing dude picked up his pace when he heard Joe, and ended up just past the finish line heaving over the guard rail. If he's gonna beat me, at least he had to work for it!

Chip time: 25:16

I ended up with a race time 34 seconds faster than my PR! I also walked away with some bling - taking home the 2nd place medal for my age group.

Overall place: 60/397
Age group: 2/26

Friday, May 9, 2014

Landscaping Laziness

Since neither Jay nor I have the patience to deal with the maintenance of landscaping, he came up with a genius fix that still allows us to have curb appeal.

Instead of mulching and weeding, he ordered a truck-full of rocks to spread around the perennial bushes which came with the house.

He laid it all (with a bit of help from a buddy and my father) over weed barrier to help save on labor costs.

I'm pleased with how well it turned out! He had quiet a few rocks left over. Next week I hope to share pictures of the creative ways he finished up the pile.

If you'd like to link up, hitting us with your best shot, check out Nancy's blog.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Root of My Problems

In college, I was an English major. My high school classes centered around my honors level history and literature classes.  I graduated top 10% of my graduating class, a member of Beta Club, National Honor Society and all those other smart kid things used to fluff up my college application.

Math, however, was never my strong suit. 

Okay let's skip all that. I'm struggling blogging these days because I set out to write one thing and end up going down a tangent. Like and episode of LOST, I feel like everything should be a back story. I end up spending an hour or so carefully crafting my paragraphs, until the blog doesn't resemble my thesis idea.


The point of this blog? I was going to do a "Thankful Thursday" blog about how I'm so close to 3,000 gifts I can almost taste it. My last entry was number 2804, so I planned to pick a dozen or so from the 2700-2800 range to post.

I turned a few pages back to find the start of 2700, only turning back one page took me into the 2900s. What? This trophy wife doesn't do math, but something about didn't add up. Somehow in the course of my entries, I skipped from 2956 down to 2756. 

this has nothing to do with anything but its my view on the drive home
and its gorgeous - trophy life indeed!!

So this evening, I'll be updating my 1,000 gifts journal, but not in the traditional way. I'm just thankful a 7 can easily be made into a 9.  And that I didn't get too far into the 2800s (again).

What unconventional something-or-other
 are you thankful for this week?

Monday, May 5, 2014

SMARM 5K - Race Report

As I've mentioned in the past, the portion of Veterans Boulevard where the SMARM 5K is held yearly makes for a challenging race. I wasn't sure quite how to set a goal for it - beyond the standard PR goal.

Given the "Superheros and Princesses" tag line, the girls and I decided to dress up for the occasion. Who am I trying to kid - these were costumes Christal had lying around. She would have wanted to dress up even if no one else had!! As the only brunette in the crew, it went without saying I would be Wonder Woman. Kelly went as Batgirl with Christal as Robin.

I've never done hair and make-up before a race, but this time I made an exception. Big hair comes very naturally for me, and this day and age I try to fight it. Saturday morning, however, I just went with it.

The weather was a bit chilly, making it perfect for running. Kelly and I did an easy 15 minute warm-up before heading to the start line.

I made the choice to go watchless for this race. Kelly & I had done some reading about 5K racing plans. One suggestion called for ditching the watch and pacing by feel instead of time. I wasn't sure how to wear the watch AND the wrist cuffs, so I decide to try to race naked. (At least electronically speaking)

The first mile of the race, I kept Kelly & Christal directly in front of me. They are each a bit faster than me. Trusting Kelly's pacing plan, I ran a comfortable first mile behind her. We started to separate just a bit on the big hill, about a half mile in. Give her lap paces, I'd guess my first mile to be an 8:20.

The second mile was mostly down hill for the first part, then the turn, then back up the way we came. I started to feel my breathing in this section. Kelly pulled away quite a bit at this point, so I have no frame of reference for this mile. I know I passed a few people on the up, though, and I was feeling strong.

In the last mile, I didn't feel as strong as I probably should have. Its a significant downhill followed by a flat. I'm not sure if my mind wandered and I didn't focus as I should. Or I could have blown too much on the 2nd mile, not leaving me with steam to finish hard on the 3rd. Without Garmin splits, there is no real way for me to know.

By the time I got close enough to see the clock, I knew I would be dangerously close to a PR. I gave that last little stretch all I had, but it just wasn't enough. Gun time was 25:54. My 5K PR is 25:50, so it was kind of painful to see my chip time of 25:51. I feel like had I known, I could have found 2 seconds out there somewhere.

I was happy for Christal and Kelly to each place in their age group. (I was 4th in the 30-39 category, but far enough from #3 to be okay with it.)

Its hard to stay disappointed for very long though, in a fun race environment. Especially with the promise of another 5K next weekend - significantly flatter - giving me another go at besting my PR.

Did I mention there were post race pancakes?