Archive | December, 2011

Happy New Year!

31 Dec

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Playing Wii, enjoying lots of desserts, and time with friends.

Hope you have a great night and a happy new year!

Looking Back and Ahead

31 Dec

I don’t really do resolutions but I do like how the new year prompts a look back and a look ahead, and I like setting goals. So here ’tis the obligatory New Years post…

In 2011, I…

…ran 276 miles (from May to December – I didn’t keep track before that. Stupid!)

…biked 458 miles.

…swam 16.4 miles.

…raced in 3 sprint triathlons, 1 Olympic, and a 5k.

…started a new job.

…started writing a nonfiction book.

…read 26 books (beat my goal of 25!)

…combined my running and spiritual blogs into Life, Really

…went on my first trail run and loved it.

…adopted a new dog, Charlie, found on an Indian reservation in New Mexico.

 

It was a very good year – like I mentioned in my Best of 2011, this year could be summed up as Busy, but Fun.

 

In 2012, I hope to: 

…get pregnant.

…run 700 miles.

…finish writing my nonfiction book.

…read 50 books.

…consistently track my workouts so I have accurate totals on 12/31/12!

…grow in being a loving, supportive wive to my amazing husband.

…accept who God created me to be.

 

And because I like cheese, here are 12 more goals for 2012, one for every month:

  1. January – Forego sweets for an entire month.
  2. February – Read or listen to the entire Harry Potter book series.
  3. March – Try Bikram Yoga.
  4. April – Finish a memory book about our first 5 years of marriage.
  5. May – Make a time capsule for our 5-year wedding anniversary.
  6. June – Run a marathon… in Alaska (more on this coming soon, hopefully!)
  7. July – Bike 50 miles in one ride.
  8. August – Climb a 14er.
  9. September – Complete at least one big home project in preparation for moving in 2013.
  10. October – Make Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread with Buttered Rum Glaze
  11. November – Make our own Christmas stockings.
  12. December – Watch the movie classic, It’s a Wonderful Life

I will try to do those goals in order but the Harry Potter series might take me longer than a month to get through. I have already requested the first audio book from the library though!

I also posted these goals on my new page, 2012 Goals.

 

I am excited for 2012. Bring it on!

New Running Gear!

30 Dec

Even though my family is wonderfully generous and I got lots of great presents for Christmas, I didn’t get any running stuff (which was secretly what I wanted the most, but it’s also the hardest to buy for someone else so I totally understand why they bought other things).

So after thinking long and hard about the running gear that I would most like right now, and shopping around for the most reasonable prices (I think I can only handle spending $100 on running tights once in my life), I bought the following:

Underarmour Coldgear Compression Tights – $49.99

For every run I’ve gone on that’s been colder than 40 degrees, I’ve worn Smartwool long underwear under my regular running pants. It works but the long underwear doesn’t stretch at all and I don’t like having to wear 2 layers. So hopefully these will solve my dilemma.

I bought a medium because that’s almost always what my size is, but according to my waist/hip measurements and their size chart, I would be an XXL. So I’m crossing my fingers that they’re the ones on crack, not me.

Nike Windproof 1/2 Zip Jacket – on sale for $29.23!

I’ve been wanting a running jacket for a while but am so cheap that I almost pass out every time I look at their price tags. {Side note: What happened to me?!?!} This jacket is cute, on sale, windproof and water resistant (which is all I need because I don’t usually run when it’s pouring outside). I also bought a medium in this.

I’ll let you know how I like them after they come and I have a chance to try them out.

I haven’t tried out my new shoes yet because I was a big lazy butt last night and this morning. I watched Sweet Home Alabama on TV (love that movie!) and then slept in until 7. I’ve just been so tired this week – I don’t know what my deal is. Usually, I’m wide awake once I get up but this week, I get up late after getting 8+ hours of sleep and still want to go straight back to bed.

Anyway, I’m going for my run after work today. And I’m actually excited because it’s supposed to be about 45 degrees and almost all of the snow we had has melted, which means no more slipping, sliding and accidentally stepping in ankle deep puddles.

What is the most important thing for you to have/wear on cold runs?

The Day After Christmas

30 Dec

If you can believe it, on Monday, we did even less than we had on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We moved from our bed to the couch to watch Little Fockers and DVRed episodes of Bones and Desperate Housewives and there we stayed. Glorious.

But! Monday was officially the start of my marathon training (kinda, sorta, more on that later) so I had to get in a 3 mile run and strength training. We had also talked about going to buy new running shoes at Boulder Running Company, since Travis was in dire need. And we had a 15% off coupon so I figured I might as well buy a new pair too – even though I don’t need them right now, I will soon! I think I’ll start rotating my shoes when I run on consecutive days.

Finally, we got motivated at 2:45 to get running. Unfortunately, my pre-run fuel choice of nachos and caramel corn set off my acid reflux and I hadn’t drank enough water so I had a headache for the entire run. At mile 2.5, I decided to walk the rest. It just wasn’t worth it.

Ok, not quite the start to marathon training I had envisioned…

But no biggie. I know that bad running days happen and I have gotten acid reflux on enough runs that I know it’s just plain stupid that it continues to happen. I need to stop eating tomato-based foods (like salsa!) on days I’m running and start taking antacids before every. single. run. Even when I don’t think I need them. At first on this run, I thought it was the caramel corn attacking my esophagus. It seemed a little weird but the combination of chocolate and coffee once sent me to the ER – so why not caramel corn? But then I remembered the salsa-laden nachos and that made a lot more sense. Even ketchup gets me. It’s so sneaky!

After our failed run, I did 15 minutes of strength training, wiped myself off with a fancy cleansing towelette, and we headed down south to BRC and to get us a juicy burger and some fries for dinner (after all that candy, I was craving something hearty… but still not healthy).

At the running store, I stuck with my tried and true Nike Zoom Structure Triax:

It’s been so long since I bought running shoes that I actually skipped a version, going from the 13 to the 15. Sad. These feel less squishy than past pairs so I’m going to try them out at the gym first, just in case I don’t like them (please, don’t let it be true!).

Travis went with the Brooks Ravenna:

He had ran in the Racers for several pairs and while he liked them, he wanted something with a little more support, since we run on concrete 95% of the time (hey, it’s convenient and free of traffic). Plus, these aren’t horrific colors like the new Racers:

I told Travis that he would look like a Kenyan in those. He didn’t buy it.

After a quick stop at JCPenney to do an exchange, we went to Red Robin for some juicy deliciousness. As we sat there debating menu choices, I had the grand idea to sub a beef burger for a Gardenburger – I mean, I’m not a huge fan of meat so would it really make that much of a difference?

Big mistake.

It did make a big difference. I was craving a juicy burger and while my veggie burger was tasty, it didn’t have the juiciness (ahem, fattyness) I wanted. At least my heart thanks me.

On our way home, we got a call from my family – we were planning a conference call for that night so that we could all talk together a bit, since we were in 3 different locations (Colorado, Indiana and Minnesota).

After we talked for about 30 minutes, we hung up and Travis and I watched Hall Pass. It was a bad, dirty movie. Which made me sad because I really Owen Wilson and Jenna Fischer as actors.

Anyway, this has been so true this week:

Cheers!

Christmas Day

29 Dec

Christmas morning wasn’t as relaxing as I had hoped… I woke up extremely tired and practiced my math skills while lying in bed trying to figure out the latest possible time I could get up.

Nevertheless, I was still able to make our special Christmas breakfast:

Monkey bread and fruit salad. I LOVE monkey bread and could eat the entire pan all by myself.

Then we went to church, where we thought we had to do projection and lights. But silly us, we were confused. So we got to hang out for an hour before church started. Bah! That could have been sleep!

My church outfit:

After church, we went home and bummed.

Worked on the puzzle, which we finished!

Called our parents.

Ate a lot of mini Snickers bars.

Walked the dogs.

Made our Christmas dinner and devoured it – chicken wild rice soup, green beans and crescent rolls. (There was also supposed to be Watergate salad but I used the cool whip to make the Christmas Trifle, which we ate for dessert.)

Watched Red Dawn – the classic from 1984 with Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen.

It was a very low-key Christmas – just what I wanted.

Christmas Eve

29 Dec

Travis’ and my main goal for the Christmas weekend was to be bums. That’s the only upside of being without family on Christmas – you get to lay around in your pajamas watching movies all weekend and no one can tell you not to.

So Saturday morning, I slept in until 8:00, then got up, made coffee, fed the dogs and read the Christmas story in Luke. Then Travis got up and we opened presents.

First up was our stockings stuffed lovingly by Travis’ mom.

Katy said she wanted to open my stocking.

Charlie just wanted to sniff things.

Before unpacking my stocking, I decided to give the dogs their Christmas present: a big bone for each. That kept Charlie occupied for 4 hours and Katy occupied for 4 days.

The contents of my stocking (plus a Target gift card, unpictured).

The contents of Travis’ stocking (plus candy, unpictured). Man stuff. The rolls are hockey tape.

This was part of what Travis got from my brother Jeremy (my side of the family draws names). It’s a hound dog that sings and makes farting noises with his armpit. Let’s just say that this was a very fitting gift, for both the giver and the receiver.

Wearing my new pajamas that I got from my sister-in-law Jen.

And my awesome reindeer slipper socks. Thanks Jen!

This was my gift to Travis – Big Buck Hunter Pro that he can play on the TV without a game console. I tried playing it a little and got so frustrated that I had to quit. It’s not my thing. But Travis likes it!

The new dinnerware from my parents – we love it! Can’t wait to use it.

And I got an immersion blender and new bath towels from Travis’ parents – which are great! Now I need to get to work making soup. I’m not sure about the deal with the hat though…

Katy still chewing on her bone. Charlie actually finished hers by noon and grabbed Katy’s when she wasn’t looking. We grabbed it back for Katy, who then went and hid it in the backyard. Charlie made one small move toward the bone and Katy attacked her. We broke up the fight and Charlie left the bone alone after that. For the following couple of days, every time Katy was  outside, she was chewing on her bone, butt in the air. Hilarious.

After gift opening, we worked on a puzzle and watched the Broncos lose. Then I decided to end my week of inactivity by going on a 3.57 mile run (40:33, 11:21/mile). And I discovered that while the side streets and sidewalks don’t get plowed or shoveled (sometimes making it near impossible to get out of your neighborhood), the greenway (bike trail) does. That’s Colorado for ya! But I am a big fan, since that meant I was able to run on a fairly snow-free surface for the majority of my run.

I got back, stretched, took a shower and we headed over to our friends’ house for dinner with their family. This is what we did last year too, and it was a lot of fun. This year was just as fun – we drank some wine, ate a lot of good food (including a deep-fried turkey that I actually liked!), and played lots of Catch Phrase. Once again, the females dominated the males. I tell ya, we’re just smarter. 😉

We stayed there until about 8:45, then went home to feed the dogs, put my slipper socks back on and work on our puzzle.

It was a great Christmas Eve!

What was your favorite Christmas gift this year? Mine was my slipper socks. I love that they keep my feet warm and I don’t have to worry about them falling off. All my other presents were great too though. We have very generous families.

A Christmas Trifle

28 Dec

I got to start my Christmas weekend early by leaving work at 1:30 on Friday – there was hardly anyone in the office and I had nothing to do. So why stick around?

I stopped by Walgreen’s on my way home to buy ingredients for what I prefer to call Triple Decker Brownies (call me old-fashioned) and happened to see the cutest sparkly pink nail polish (called A Cut Above). So I spent the afternoon watching Lifetime Christmas movies and painting my nails.

That manicure lasted a whole 6 days.

Friday night, we had dinner and played Catch Phrase with our friends D and Doug. D and I dominated Catch Phrase by winning every single round.

For dessert, we had lefsa (a Norwegian tortilla made out of potatoes – we warm up them up and top with butter and sugar) and Chocolate Angel Food Trifle. I had attempted to make Chocolate Rolled Angel Cake… I even took pictures of combining the ingredients (box of angel food cake + cocoa 😉 ) and whipping the angel food batter into a poofy mess with my pretty white Kitchenaid mixer. I had the parchment paper in the pan. I had the baked cake upended onto a towel dusted with powdered sugar and rolled up all pretty. I had my whipping cream whipped, with what I would imagine were stiff peaks.

But then I made my crucial error. I was making this cake the day before we were going to eat it. The recipe said that you could only refrigerator the assembled cake for 6 hours so I decided to wait to assemble it until the next day.

The next afternoon, after I had painted my nails sparkly pink, I unrolled the towel and found that the cake was stuck to it. I tried to gently unpeel it and the innermost curl broke off. No biggie, I thought. I’ll somehow reassemble it. I painted a white stripe of melted whipped cream down the biggest chunk. But it wasn’t going to work. I couldn’t even get the big piece of the cake off the towel.

Ok, on to Plan B. I knew that the combination of the delicious angel food cake (I had sampled it), raspberries and whipped cream was going to be delicious, no matter what way I served it. So I decided to make a trifle instead.

I tore the sticky, gooey angel food cake into bite-sized pieces and placed them at the bottom of a large decorative bowl (I don’t have a trifle dish). Then I sprinkled on half of the raspberries and a layer of cool whip – I had discovered that my whipping cream was more of a liquid at this point than a cream so I used a small tub of cool whip I happened to have on hand. I repeated those layers one time – cake, raspberries, cool whip. And I topped the trifle with a few reserved raspberries. Voila! A Christmas trifle. And it was absolutely delicious, even if it wasn’t was I had initially planned.

Have you ever had a recipe go awry? How did you salvage it?

The Passion of Christmas

24 Dec

I love listening to Christmas music – not just because it puts me in the Christmas mood, but also because it floods my heart with the meaning of Christmas. This year, I am captivated by the passion behind historical Christmas hymns. The authors of these songs exhort us to adore Christ, fall on our knees before Him, and praise His name forever. They write of a world, weary under the burden of sin and guilt, that sees a new day, filled with hope, dawn with the birth of a simple babe. The Savior has come, the catalyst of God’s plan of redemption.

I like to imagine what it would have been like the night Jesus was born. Four hundred years had passed since God has spoken to His people. But God had promised a Messiah, a Redeemer. All of Israel was waiting for the Christ. And on that night in a little town of Bethlehem, a town “too little to be among the clans of Judah,” the long-awaited Messiah was born. Humble shepherds were at work in the field, watching their flocks in the moonlight, straining to stay awake. All of a sudden, they are blinded by “the glory of the Lord” and an angel tells them,

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord…”

So what did they do? They went “with haste” to where the angel had indicated – to Bethlehem to find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. This is what I find interesting: the Bible doesn’t say anything about them locking their sheep up first, or arranging for their care, or one of them staying behind. It seems that they just leave their flocks in the open field because they are so amazed and excited about what they were just told.

Does that go against common sense? Do I doubt that’s what actually happened?

Yes, because it seems so impractical, so irresponsible. I am challenged – what would I have done in that situation? Would I have been so consumed with responsibilities and practical concerns that I would think it foolish to abandon all and sit at my Savior’s feet? Would I be so captivated by Christ’s coming that I’d be willing to drop everything – abandon even my livelihood – and seek Him?

It’s easy to rest when there’s nothing pressing, nothing urgent. It’s easy to take a moment to breath when life’s tight grip on your schedule relaxes for an hour. But what about resting and breathing in the midst of the chaos? That’s what Christ came to bring us – His rest, a deep soul rest that can’t be touched by circumstances. What does it mean to have a deep soul rest in Christ?

Embracing the messiness of being human. Jesus Himself was born in a stinky stable surrounded by loud animals (not the serene night of perfect harmony pictured above). He slept on itchy, pokey hay and grew up as a pretty normal kid. Christ didn’t just experience what it meant to be human during His ministry. He lived his whole life as a human. He grew up with brothers and sisters as a human. He learned to walk, to talk, to laugh. He loved, he cried, he gave. “In every way he was tempted just as we are, yet without sin.” I love how Jesus embraced humanity – not just by becoming a baby (though that was big enough) but by also engaging in life. He wasn’t just alive – He lived. He didn’t view the basics of human existence as beneath Him – rather, He embraced those constraints. Instead of them getting in His way, He turned them into a source of blessing.

And all this, when He was the Son of God, the Most High, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, Author of Creation.

Pondering these truths, how can your heart not fill to bursting with the truth of Christmas? Christ is the Lord! O praise His name forever!

These wonderful songs celebrate that truth:

“O Holy Night”

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O’er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His name forever!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

“What Child is This?”

What child is this who, laid to rest,
on Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
while shepherds watch are keeping?

Chorus:

This, this is Christ the King,
whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
haste, haste to bring him laud,
the babe, the son of Mary.

Why lies he in such mean estate
where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
the silent Word is pleading.

So bring him incense, gold, and myrrh,
come, peasant, king, to own him;
the King of kings salvation brings,
let loving hearts enthrone him.

“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King,
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
join the triumph of the skies;
with th’ angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King!”

Christ, by highest heaven adored;
Christ, the everlasting Lord;
late in time behold him come,
offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail th’ incarnate Deity,
pleased as Man with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King!”

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
born that we no more may die,
born to raise us from the earth,
born to give us second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King!”

Have a blessed Christmas!

A New Season

23 Dec

I am very excited for the beginning of a new season: training for a marathon. I spent the majority of 2011 training for triathlons, culminating in my first Olympic distance. While I love the variety of multisport, there’s something about getting out on the road and slogging out a bunch of miles in preparation for a long distance running-only event.

And I was just thinking this morning that if I used my two cross-training workouts a week for biking and swimming,  I could even be in triathlon shape by the time the marathon is over!’

I saw this little “Best of 2011” on RunToTheFinish and liked it so much I’m going to do it:

What I’m looking forward to in the season of marathon training:

  • Mapping out new routes on mapmyrun.com
  • Exploring new areas of Denver on foot
  • Buying cute new running shoes
  • Feeling the good hurt in my legs of running many miles

  • Visualizing myself finishing my first marathon
  • Calling myself a marathoner
  • Eating like a horse and not gaining a pound
  • Developing runner’s leg muscles

  • Listening to books on tape and sermons while I run
  • Seeing my pace get faster (hopefully!)
  • Exercising mental endurance and positive thinking (You got this!)
  • Spending my Saturdays running a crapton of miles and then taking a nap

I tried to take the dogs on a walk this morning and it was more than a little difficult, what with traffic, a foot of snow and a temperature of 15 degrees. I ended up turning around early because Charlie started limping, showing that her paws had gotten cold. Maybe she could wear the Frankenbooties we bought Katy? If we put them on one of them again, I’ll record a video – that is, if I’m not dying laughing.

Our favorite thing to do lately to joke around with our sweet little pooches is this: if we’re watching TV and a commercial or show has a doorbell ringing in it, Charlie thinks it’s real. So she’ll get all excited, bark and even jump up to see who’s at the door. To prolong the hilarity of the situation, we’ll rewind the DVR to replay the doorbell noise. By the time we do that 4 or 5 more times, I’m seriously crying because I’m laughing so hard. Dogs are an endless source of amusement.

Finally, for your viewing pleasure, I took a picture of this car on our street:

 

That car is totally plowed in by 3 foot snow banks on both sides. Our neighbor plows our street (since the city never does it, by law – isn’t that ridiculous?!?!) and I think he plowed that car in because it’s been sitting there (in front of our house, mind you) for weeks now. Both Travis and I had a good chuckle over that.

What do you look forward to when starting a new training plan?

Have you ever been plowed in? I haven’t, but there was one time when I wasn’t able to get out of our driveway in college.

A White Christmas in Denver!

22 Dec

Well, it definitely snowed! Last night, when I got home from my women’s group, I told Travis that we should go on a walk in the snow. So we did.

I love going for walks in the snow.

So do the pooches.

We were very snowy by the time we got back. It’s still snowing this afternoon and so far, we’ve gotten about a foot. It was a little hairy driving to work today (because CDOT only has 75 plows for the entire Denver metro area!) but we made it! I was sooo tempted to call in because there’s hardly anyone here today (and there will be even fewer tomorrow!) but our VP ordered in lunch from Qdoba for us, which was nice and fun. Tomorrow is going to draaaaggg by though.

…………………………………..

On a brighter note, this weekend is Christmas!

I am so ready for some time to relax, hang out with Travis and friends, and eat delicious food! This is what we have planned so far:

  • Dinner and a movie with friends Friday night (Christmas Eve Eve)
  • Dinner with friends and their family on Christmas Eve
  • Special breakfast and dinner on Christmas day, just the two of us
  • Church on Christmas morning
  • Relaxing on the day after Christmas, before we go back to work

We haven’t decided when we’re going to open presents yet, but my vote is Christmas Eve morning – then we don’t have to wait!

Other than going grocery shopping tonight after work, I’m all ready for Christmas, which has meant a very relaxing, enjoyable week. It’s been so nice to drive home, knowing that I can go lay on the couch the minute I walk in the door, instead of running around doing errands or workouts.

I was just thinking yesterday as I drove home, that taking this week off from training was probably the best decision I could’ve made. Instead of stressing out over how to fit all my workouts in and wondering how I’ll ever manage with marathon training, I’ve been building up excitement and anticipation and will start marathon training ready to tackle the beast of 26.2.

The slower pace has also allowed me time to reflect on the amazing-ness of Christmas and quiet my heart, which is what I’ve been wanting! Come, Lord Jesus!

What are your plans for Christmas? Are you done with preparations?