Saturday, February 28, 2015

Shamrock Marathon Training - Week 15

Time once again to bear my soul, or at least the superficial surfaces of my brain to link up with Jaime and the gang for Stream of Consciousness Saturday.

Writing this Friday evening, in prep to be totally wiped out and not to much of anything on Saturday. 

Tomorrow morning, I have my 20 mile training run scheduled. For my last marathon 30K was my longest run. This time around I want to follow the plan and see if it results in increased fitness, so 20 miler it is!!

In some ways, I feel ready for the taper. Weekends of forgoing housework in order to get up early and run have started to get wearisome. More from a mental perspective than a physical one.

From a training viewpoint, I don't feel like I've done all that much. Just my standard lunch runs and a bit on the weekend. Of course that's just not accurate. Wednesday evenings for the past 15 weeks have been dedicated to a "medium" distance run ranging between 5 and 8 miles. I've never done those prescribed miles before, and am interested to see if they make a difference.

Am I ready to tackle 26.2 in less than a month? I don't feel like it. Then again, I also think I'm more than capable. I'm not sure how to reconcile these feelings in my brain. Am I under trained? More than adequately trained for the task? I suppose I'll get a glimpse in the morning, and better still in 3 weeks.

Starting tomorrow around lunch, taper madness will set in. The mileage will be dialed back and I'll let my body heal from the past 15 weeks of training. Funny thing, I'm not sure I need it. Easy to say now, I suppose; sitting on this side of the 20 miler.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Snow Day!

We've had more snow these past couple weeks than we have all "winter" here in east Tennessee. I love some snow, and I have a handy-dandy husband who can get me where I need to be come-what-may. So when the forecast calls for the white fluffy stuff I say bring it on!!

I took the above picture Wednesday morning - this snow in our yard/driveway was leftover from Monday's overnight storm. When I awoke Thursday morning, even more snow greeted me.

I let my boss know I wouldn't be coming into work, and headed back to bed. These days, I've been catching up with last decade by reading the Harry Potter series. I've been slogging through Goblet of Fire for over a week now, so I quickly came up with my first snow day objective - finish the book.

After my morning coffee and Bible study time, I did just that. I finally reached the part explaining why everyone said that book 4 was where the action really got started. Jay had some work to do, and said he couldn't go out and play in the snow until the afternoon. I was glad to hear that our goals for the day were lining up just perfect.

Goal 2 for the snow day - walk to the nature path in our subdivision.

We hadn't even made it to the first of 5 bridges when Jay got a text. He had to go place a phone call, but professed to only be 2 minutes. Being honest and putting it all out there - I was ticked. How dare he put my snow day on hold. Then a stroke of e-vile genius hit me. No need in ruining the afternoon with a bad mood.

Instead of pouting, I spent the time finding cover and making snowballs. When he finally headed back to the trail, the poor unsuspecting soul didn't know what (almost) hit him.

I stuffed a few more in the pouch of my hoodie for later. When I was at point-blank range, walking behind him on the trail, I pelted him in the head and the back of the neck.

We went back into the house, and I napped (goal #3) while he did some more work. He wanted to build a snow-cabin, but I was more interested in attempting to sled. Last year we regretted not having one, so I'm not sure why we have yet to acquire one. Instead, we were stuck using our big trash can lid from the garage. It took some hard work on Jay's part pushing me, but I still give us credit for achieving sledding as objective 4.

My fifth and final item on my agenda was to take a hot bath whilst starting a new book. Despite living in our house over a year, I had never used the jetted tub before yesterday. We've always just got in the hot tub rather than taking the time to run up water. Yesterday, however, the hot tub cover had a big ole pile of snow. Jetted tub to the rescue!!

I put baked potatoes in the oven, lit a scented candle and cracked open this book. About 80 pages later, my water got cold and I finished the evening wrapped in my heated blanket, devouring another 100 chapters.

Long story short: the perfect way to spend a snow day!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Captain's Log: Day 3

Catching up for those who are late to the party. Friday I awoke to frozen pipes in the house. Saturday, thanks to a bit of freezing rain and ice, I was stuck at the house all day with no running water (save Jay running to the creek to fetch another bucket for flushes). 

Don't let the dates confuse you, each blog was posted about the previous day. So that brings us to Sunday, day 3 of no water.

I've solved for the coffee issue. Jay solved for the toilet issue. Dishes, laundry, and showering were the dirty trinity for the weekend. Winter running gear is expensive, so I only have a week's worth. Thankfully, I spent most of the week on the treadmill. I've got tees and capris running out my nose.

Paper plates, plastic bowls, and Styrofoam cups allowed Jay and I to have meals at home without creating too big of a mess. I even fixed salmon and roasted red potatoes with very little of a mess - God bless the inventors of aluminum foil to line baking sheets!

I've tried to be grateful for all I have through this, but its very difficult. I've been snippy and short tempered. Sunday morning, I struggled to focus on what the pastor was saying in service. My 16 mile long run was cut to 12 due to my bad attitude alongside the hardship of ice-covered bridge sidewalks. A girl can only play chicken with so many cars before deciding to pack it up.

Jay had a fire blazing when I got home from my run. I love the coziness of a fire and his efforts to brighten my day (and lower our electric bill) did not go unnoticed. My parents had invited us over for a steak dinner - talk about a win/win/win. A yummy and delicious meal with no mess for clean-up? Yes please!!

The sky was dropping more moisture as we got set to leave my parents, but we couldn't specifically define what kind. I grew despondent. Forecasts called for the highs the next day not to top 30* degrees. If 40*+ hadn't done the trick, we were in for a long wait. We filled up the 5 gallon water jug my dad had loaned us, and headed home. Jay parked my car in the garage, and carried the jug up to the deck.

I waited as he typed in the number code to unlock the house. 

He turned the handle, pushed open the door.

As I walked through our front door, the sound of angels singing greeted me. 

We had left the kitchen faucet on, and it was flowing freely!! Never have I been so excited to run the dishwasher or do a load of laundry. The Lord heard my cry and delivered me!! 

Of course I don't believe that God unfroze my pipes merely because I requested my Bible study group to pray for me that afternoon. I do, however, think He attempted to use this experience to open my eyes to the things in life I take for granted:
  • an able bodied husband
  • parents who love me
  • parents who enjoy spending time with me
  • a Bible study class who accepted me as I was, prayed for me, and a precious lady who offered to let me shower at her place
and last, but of course not least:
  • running water
 My cup runneth over.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Captain's Log: Day 2

As I previously blogged, we're currently without water. Since I spent most of the day at work, I wasn't all that inconvenienced. Excluding living and dying by "if its yellow let it mellow, if its brown send it on down."

Today, however, has been a bit more of an adventure. I attempted a mess-less breakfast of oatmeal in the microwave, but it overheated and spewed oats all down the side of the cup and into the microwave.

My Keurig had only 1 cup of water left for coffee, but thankfully yesterday my dad brought a 5 gallon bucket of water for us to use. They have well water, and it makes incredible coffee.

Our heat is working just fine, but I decided to build a fire and attempt to melt snow for flushing. I suppose that's a good idea if its your only option. But Jay, when he arrived home from meeting a client, he quickly went to the creek and filled a 5 gallon bucket. within 5 minutes he'd bested the work I'd done all morning "thawing" snow.

StreamI started to freak out right about when he arrived home. After all - if if the snow was that slow to melt in a 65* house (made warmer parked by the fire) how long would it take our pipes to unfreeze. We quickly decided to start drinking our way through some whiskey samples and a build-your-own 6 pack in the fridge.

This afternoon is marked by a fire, Bobcat basketball on the TV, a wide variety of drink options, and of course, blogging the fun.

What have you been up to this weekend? If you link up with Jaime, let me know so I can check out your post.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Captain's Log: Day 1

This week we - like a good portion of the country - have had severe winter weather. Of course living in the south-east, please know that our severe is different than those living in the New England area. However, considering our roads (hilly, curvy, and with steep hillside banks) and minimal snow fighting power (plows, salt, and such) a layer of ice topped with snow really does debilitate our area.

I am incredibly thankful that, unlike many in the area, Jay and I never went without power. We do have an alternate heat source, but I'm so glad we've only used the fire place for ambiance and enjoyment this winter.


Yesterday morning, I awoke to every germaphobes nightmare - our pipes were frozen. Last year, we had a landscaping sprinkler (which we didn't even know we had, much less known to winterize) exploded and made us water-less for a day. In the process, we added insulation and an electric heat strip.

So when the temps threatened to dip below zero (farienheight), we thought we were covered.


StreamToday is day 2 without water. Day one wasn't very difficult. I had water in the Keurig, so my coffee experience wasn't compromised. I headed to work, same as always. After work, I ran on the treadmill and showered at the gym before going home. Taco Bell for dinner meant no dishes to linger in the sink while we waited for water.

Looks like my 5 minutes of free-writing is up. Perhaps I'll do both Stream of Consciousness Saturday AND Sunday this week. Linking up with Jaime, and I can't wait to read your posts!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Bad Weather Pending - Gatlinburg Trail & Cataract Falls Trail Report

On all minor holidays, I try to hit the National Park for a hike or some other such fun. Yesterday, our plans to hike Ramsay's Cascade were thwarted due to a pending storm. Given the mountains are the park, they typically get snow and bad weather when town is completely clear. Unfortunately (for Jay and I at least) the park roads started shutting down hours before any weather hit .

The trail along the Sugarlands Visitor Center was the only one open, so Jay and I set out to see the sites, log a few miles, and hopefully be in the Park when the weather hit.

Depending on perspective its either fortunate (or not) that the Gatlinburg Trail from Sugarlands is close enough to town for cell service. This meant Jay heard his phone notification and took a business call while we should have been hiking.

I ended up trail "running" a half mile back and forth around him whilst he talked to his client. This trail would be excellent for real trail running (in proper gear, not carrying a pack), assuming it doesn't get overrun with tourists in the summer.

Cataract Falls was a short, level hike - probably less than a half mile. Jay remarked about how wild it was we'd never done this trail, despite having done some of the most difficult in the park.

While not wheelchair accessible most of the trail was level enough to facility a jogging stroller.

I very much was glad I wore my mittens rather than gloves. This trail was a bit more easy than I would have liked, and the scenery much the same along the way. I used the flop open part of the mittens to take lots of pictures along the way.

We circled back and hit another trail, not sure where it would lead. We didn't really care, we just wanted to hold out for the winter weather so we took every path we found. The second trail mostly just had signs designating trees and shrubbery. I'm sure it would have been much more interesting during spring/summer/fall when things are in bloom.

 The other cool part of this path was the old log home we found. My first picture was a Frugal-Family classic: a picture of someone taking a picture.

Once we got inside we just goofed around with more pictures before continuing up the trail.

The beams were low enough for even me to touch by raising my arms up and keeping my feet flat on the ground. (For reference I'm 5'4")

This particular trail just loops back to the starting point of the Cataract Falls trail, so we just had a few hundred feet of walking to get to the Gatlinburg Trail-head. As we headed down the road and toward the path, there still was no precipitation in site.

While most of the path follows the creek, there are parts which are not-so-pretty. Like the home of the work trucks for the National Park. Jay and I joked about how pretty the orange barrel "flowers" were.

The trail is just under 2 miles and leads to a park entrance sign as well as a gorgeous bridge covering the creek. Most people access these two places from the road side, instead of walking on the trail we travel on. I think this summer we are planning to go back for him to fish and me to get a bit of trail running in.

As the name would suggest, the trail dumps out in Gatlinburg - putting us less than a quarter mile than one of our favorite spots in town.While we most often find ourselves in the Pigeon Forge location, Jay and I never pass up an opportunity to stop in the Smoky Mountain Brewery - even in Gburg.

I enjoyed my standard Black Bear ale and a house salad. They have some of the best salads - the house salad includes green peppers, banana peppers, olives, and mozzarella cheese.

Jay, however, hadn't made weight for the day, and found himself barely sipping the glass of ice water that our server brought him. (I made weight first thing, so I was kind enough to finish it off for him.)

We had encountered some sleet on the way out, but not much. We could hear it hit better than we could see or feel it. The way back to the car wasn't much more exciting.

A few pictures of old foundations and fireplace chimneys, and some more shots of the creek were about it for points of interest on the way back.

All told, I logged 6 miles in 2 hours of walking time. That's about a 20 minute mile - fast for hiking, but slow (for me) walking. I certainly would have enjoyed one of our standard "epic" hikes better, but we made the best of the situation.

I hope that we are able to make it back and the trail isn't too crowded this spring/summer (with people or bear activity) so that I can gets some miles on my trail running shoes!!

Do you have to seek out snow, or do you get plenty by your front door to play in?

Friday, February 13, 2015

My Friday the 13th Meeting w/Jason

On this, our 100th monthiverary, I wanted to re-share our first date story. I can't begin to express how much I love that this specially milestone also falls on the ever-lucky Friday the 13th.

Jay and I had decided via MySpace messaging that we would meet on Friday the 13th of October at Johnny Carino’s.  When I got home from work that day, I started getting ready.  I had selected a pink corduroy blazer and a tan camisole.  Unfortunately, my good booty jeans were dirty, so I had to go with a back up pair.  I proceeded to straighten my hair and leave my apartment 30 minutes before I was supposed to meet up with him.  I grabbed a book on the way out because I knew that it wouldn’t take me that long to get to the restaurant (which is about 10 minutes away), but I didn’t want to make a bad impression by being late.

I still own the booty jeans, and they are still one of my favorite pair.

Half way to the restaurant, I began to question if I had unplugged my straightening iron.  The more I considered it, I was convinced that I hadn’t.  With visions of my apartment going up in flames, and thinking I still had plenty of time, I turned around and went back home.  Of course when I arrived at my apartment my straighter had already been turned off and unplugged prior to my departure.

I still get paranoid about this, just the other day I had to call Jay on my drive to work so he could double check for me.

As I got into Pigeon Forge, traffic began to back up and I realized that I had need 30 minutes to get to the restaurant, only I wasted about 15 going back home.  Thankfully, he was stuck in traffic as well.  At a couple of minutes to seven, he called and let me know that he was running late.

Jay: Are you there yet? I'm running a couple minutes late, I can see the Johnny Carino's sign, but traffic is ridiculous and wont be there for a few minutes.
Brooke: No, I'm running a couple minutes late myself.
A couple minutes passed and he called me back again.
Jay: I'm here, are you here yet?
Brooke: Nope, still in traffic.
Jay: That's what I figured, I didn't see any cute brunettes waiting around the parking lot!

Smooth buddy, very smooth.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to stress about being rudely late because he was too.  When I finally arrived at the restaurant, I found him waiting on a bench outside.  I was pleasantly surprised that he was even cuter than in his pictures.  He had already been there for a few minutes and had put our name down for a table.  I joined him on the bench and we chatted as we waited to be seated.

that same bench, 2 years later at our rehearsal dinner

The number one rule of first dates is never plan to extend the date until you know for sure you want to spend more time with this person.  Never arrange for post dinner festivities until you are comfortable with them.  While we were waiting for our table, he asked if I wanted to go bowling with some friends of his afterward.  Then he called them to set it upIn less than 30 minutes we both knew that the other was someone we’d be interested in spending more time with.  He’s since confessed that he had his friends on reserve for if the date was going well. 

Thankfully I was comfortable with him, because what happened next freaked me out.  When meeting guys on the Internet, I’ve always been very careful to not give them too much information.  I never told them where I worked, my last name, or any other information that could potentially be used to stalk me in the future.  Out of the blue he asked, “Is your last name J-----?”  I said yes, and then proceeded to ask how he knew.

 What if he had done the same type of scary research on me that he had done on the Cheezmania cheese balls?  Turns out he was talking about this brunette named Brooke that he was going out on a date with and a family member of the couple we were going bowling with suggested it could be this girl that she knew.

Not surprisingly, I dominated the conversation.  I began to worry that I wasn’t giving him an opportunity to talk and that he would be very put off by my chatty nature.  I kept reassuring myself that he was encouraging me to talk, asking question about something he knew that I love—the television show Lost.  He had just recently started watching and had quite a few questions about the plot and what was happening with some of the characters.  Being the geek that I am, I knew the in-depth answers to what was going on with each of them.

Being the intelligent wife I am, he was just being a savvy conversationalist and didn't give two craps about the show.

After we finished with the meal I broke the number 2 first date rule.  I got in his car with him.  I have always been super careful to not put myself in the position that a date would cart me off somewhere and hack me to bits.  But from the moment I saw Jay I was so comfortable with him that I knew there was no need for the caution. 
We met up with his friends Brandon and Amanda at the bowling alley.  I quickly learned that the three of them were very good at bowling, and very competitive.  We bowled 2 games and they smoked me in both of them.  My bowling highlight was a frame that I was convinced was a gutter ball.  Dejected, I turned around and headed to my seat.  Only to miss the ball swerve back to take out several pins. According to Jay, his bowling highlight was watching me bowl in my jeans - guess the backup pair weren't as bad as I thought!

100 months later, he's still competitive, only now he's trying to beat me at weight loss.

When the bowling center closed, we figured it was about time to wrap the date up.  He took me back to my car and we chatted a little before I got out of his Jeep.  I was stalling, talking about random crap waiting for him to kiss me.  After about 15 or 20 minutes, I gave up, settled for a hug, and headed home.  Little did I know that he would make me wait even more before we had for our first kiss…

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Parable of the Lost Wedding Ring

Getting ready for church last Sunday, I removed my wedding rings and placed them on the bathroom counter. Typically my rings live two places when I am at home - either in my jewelry box or on my finger.

In a break of routine, I adorned my bling before I had a chance to fix my hair. Not wanting to get gel in the crevices, I placed the set on granite and went about my business.

What happened next played out in slow motion. Something (the hand towel?) hit the rings with a bit of unexpected force. The rings skidded off the edge of the counter - the engagement ring hit the tile floor. My wedding band, however, fell directly into the air vent.

I found myself on my hands and knees mumbling out-loud Please God, let me be able to get it back. Please, please, please.

I had grown so accustom to these rings, I had treated them haphazardly. In contrast, I remember sitting on the subway when our engagement was just hours old worried about the safety of the ring. I knew the value was great and I was terrified of being robbed.

That park bench in Central Park seems like ages ago, rather than the 8 years it will be this April. Our passion for finding epic adventures thankfully has remained, but what about the every day? Do I treat our marriage like the incredible sparkly gift that it is? Do I wake up each day wondering what new wifely adventure will await me with my darling?

Sometimes life has us stuck in a ditch covered in mud. But then, I'm mixing metaphors.

So back we go to the HVAC vent, my dirty bathroom floor, and my precious out of sight. I could use flowery words to describe the experience, but I want to cut to the chase. Everything I did from the moment I heard the clank to the moment I put the ring back on my finger can be used in relationship redemption.
  1. Recognized I'd lost something precious.
  2. Fall on my knees - crying out to God
  3. Delicately taking small, precise steps to bring me closer to restoration
  4. Finally putting my hands around that which I had lost
  5. Putting it back where it belonged
  6. Thank God for His mercy
 When I finally laid hands on my ring, it was right on the edge a breath away from the abyss. I'm not sure what I would have done had it traveled just a few more centimeters. God forbid my marriage ever become so common place I ever run the risk of getting that close to losing it.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Ack-sen-you-ate the Positive

Here are the rules: there are no rules.
Okay maybe there are a couple of rules - set your timer for 5ish minutes and get to writing. Don't forget to link up with Jaime when you are done. I can't wait to read what you decide to share!


Now its my turn - buckle up and let's get started!!!

Does it count as SOC if I keep deleting my text? I mostly want to whine about being tired. Seems like that's all I get done these days. Then I hate that I want to whine about it, because otherwise this marathon training cycle is going great! I'm actually losing a bit of weight, the miles are easy, and I haven't missed any major runs.


Each night I struggle to stay awake to the 9 o'clock hour.

I hate that this is my post though. So many other awesome things going on that I could talk about instead of sleep deprivation. I'm like that annoying mother who dreams of having a baby, talks about how awesome babies are, then complains about a 2am diaper change.

If this is what I wanted, why am I complaining?

So, instead, I'll focus on "all these awesome other things" - like the girls weekend that is my marathon. We're starting to plan who's car we are driving and what-not. We've had our hotel booked for months.

Non-running related, I'm excited that my favorite band - Skillet - is going to be in Knoxville next Friday at the Winter Jam concert.  Also a week from today, my darling and I will celebrate the 100th monthiversary of that Friday the 13th when we first met. Not to mention the 14th - Valentine's day, and the 16th - Presidents day (to be celebrated with a hike).

Oh, and as you are reading this, I'll either completing my 16th half marathon or celebrating with a nice, long afternoon nap.

Hope you have a great weekend!!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Kickin' it Old Skool

Making: a meal plan and grocery list for next week
Cooking: crock-pot meals, tonight trying a new potato soup recipe
Drinking: bailey's + chocolate vodka
Reading: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I missed the boat the first time around.

Wanting: to go to sleep. I'm finding it more and more difficult to stay away until 9 these days. Marathon training? Or old age?
Looking: for ways to use my spiritual gift. Or at least test it to see if my hypothesis is accurate.
Playing: Trivia Crack - I'm growing bored of it, but I'm in too deep to get out now!
Wasting: time. Playing Trivia Crack.
Wishing: I had the $$ for a cleaning service. I hate daily chores.
Waiting: on my next run. I've had some ups and downs this training cycle but for the most part I feel like it hasn't really been hard. So of course I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Liking: our new MacBook - Jay isn't use to the programs, so he hasn't made the full switch yet. I very much enjoy blogging from it (instead of my iPad mini)
Wondering: How the marathon will turn out - I've invested more time into this training cycle. I'm interested to see how it pays off.

Loving: running. I've already done my 18 miler, yet I haven't reached the burn-out stage yet. 11 weeks down, less than 6 to go.
Hoping: for an exciting 100th monthiversay/Valentine's weekend.
Needing: sleep. Its officially 9:02.
Smelling: sharpie - I got new recipe cards for Christmas and the glossy finish requires a marker to prevent smudging

Wearing: My favorite flannel jammie pants

Noticing: The hum of the HVAC. Our house would be so quiet if that sucker didn't run constantly in the winter.
Knowing: new skills are on the horizon, and I'm looking forward to them.
Thinking: about my study of Daniel and Ezekiel. Dudes had some weird dreams/visions.
Feeling: tired. Have I mentioned how sleepy I'm getting this training cycle?
Opening:a new tab to read other people's blogs.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Couple that Weighs Together

At the first of the year, Jay and I fixed our resolutions in our minds. I decided upon a goal to lose weight, both for vanity and to help increase my running speed. He planned to kick tobacco to the curb. We each lasted about a week before realizing our spirits were willing but our flesh was weak.

Might as well give up, right? 

Being happy with ourselves just the way we are also lasted about a week, until we realized that his yo-yo dipping and my freestyle diet landed us both at our heaviest weights ever. Neither of us are tipping the scales into obesity, but we both carry around more fat than we should. Let's face it, we ain't getting any younger. As 30-somethings, its all downhill from here (at least health and weight speaking).

Thus a challenge was born.

For the first couple of weeks, he and I could stand to lose 2% of our body weight. He's a dude and he weighs more, but I've dieted enough to know I can lose a few pounds of bloat the first few weeks in addition to (hopefully) fat.

I did great all week, tracking in MyFitnessPal daily. That is until my arch nemesis the weekend showed up. My 18 miler from Saturday morning spotted me 1600+ calories when we went out to dinner with some clients/friends, and I used every bit of them.

Then there was Sunday. My sabbath day of rest. Who's bright idea was it to rest on Super Bowl Sunday? Between an excess of calories and food choices only encouraging bloat, my hard work from the week failed to register on the scale.

I only lost a pound.

Normally someone barely overweight by BMI standards would celebrate a pound in a week. Unfortunately, however, I needed a 3 pound loss in order to hit my 2% goal. Now that I type it out, the goal seems far fetched and ridiculous, but I swear I thought it was doable when I originally agreed to the terms of the wager.

The first week's numbers are in, and I lost. Not only a pound, but also the bet. Using some of the same tools boxers and wrestlers use to make weight, Jay was able to lose his 2% despite my lackluster showing.

As a result, I can't darken the door of a liquor store for the month of February, and I can kiss that $60 shopping excursion for new work pants good-bye. Now a new week has begun, with new terms set. I know my competition a bit better, and don't want to have to fold his laundry for a month. Here's hoping I can get back on track hit my goal next week!!