Saturday, November 19, 2011

Garden Love

Now that there's snow on the ground I am really missing our garden. Not the weeding or the work, but the fresh tomatoes. Store bought ones just do not taste good. And we're a good 7-8 months away from that luxury again. My husband is the visionary in our house. He killed half our back lawn in order to put in a big garden. And while I was the skeptic, I love it just as much as he does. Our kids really enjoy it as well. Not so much the weeding, but all the great produce. And they like running up and down the rows playing games.

We had quite a few lover carrots this year. And even a three some. It was fun pulling them all out before it got real cold and seeing all the different sizes and shapes. We need to do better about thinning them next year.

I peeled them all, diced them, blanched them, and then froze them for the winter use.

We got 32 quart sized bags full. They're great to throw in soups or just to eat. And they taste so much better than store bought.

This picture does not really do justice to the size of this bowl. These were what were left over after making spaghetti sauce and salsa. I chopped them up as well and threw them in the freezer. They're great added to eggs or soups as well.

My awesome neighbor gave us some grapes last week for juicing.

He let me borrow one of his juicers so it went twice as fast!

There is nothing like fresh grape juice. My favorite after workout snack is grape juice mixed with 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder. So good!

We also grew an abnormal amount of basil so I could make pesto sauce. It really doesn't take as much as I thought it would. And toasting and peeling pine nuts sucks.

But the efforts were so good on homemade pizza!

It was my husband's idea to get chickens as well a couple of years ago. It was so nice to be able to go out back and get breakfast.

Spaghetti sauce. I think we're stocked up for the winter.

My favorite way to eat tomatoes is bacon and tomato sandwiches. We grew a lot of different kinds of heirloom tomatoes as well. The yellow ones were so sweet!

And that sweet corn on the cob was delicious! Unfortunately we ate all of it and didn't get to freeze any this year!

Peaches from our tree

More spaghetti sauce. So good with lots of garlic and basil.

These little cherry tomatoes were better than candy. So sweet and everyone's favorite snack!

And beans. Truthfully, I let these go to waste more than I should have. If you keep picking them, they will keep growing. I let some go too long and the plants died at the end of the summer. Next year I will keep on top of them and try to freeze them once a week. We did eat a lot of them during the summer. I just didn't put much away for the winter.

And it's nice that the kids will help too.

Do you garden?
What is your favorite vegetable?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Why do we keep running?

What does running do for you? Why do we all keep running? We don't make excuses (well, maybe sometimes we do) but rain or shine and even wind, on treadmills, or roads, or trails, we run.

We all run for varied reasons. We run to improve our health and to be a good example to our families. We run so that we can eat whatever we want. We run to clear our minds and to have a mental release. We run for the sense of accomplishment. We run for time alone or time to be with friends.

In the relatively short time that I have been running, I have run for each of these reasons. Some have taken priority over others because of what's going on in my life. But there's something that has been the main reason why I run.

I didn't know it when I first started but it's always been there in the background, if no where else, giving a constant beat to every other reason. I learn life lessons through running. But it goes deeper than that. It's a spiritual connection to God. Lessons about who I am and what I am capable of doing with His help. I learn that we make self imposed limitations but through God nothing is impossible. Running has taught me that. And I don't know if I would have ever learned that lesson any other way.
I was not athletic growing up. I was more interested in boys and dancing with boys. I was NOT an athlete. I still don't consider myself an athlete, but what I have accomplished is more than I could have ever conjured up.
Things changed when I decided to run a marathon. Even when I was running consistently, this seemed so far out of my reach. But once I made the commitment and started training, I was surprised each week as I was able to do more than I thought was possible. I also had an ulterior motive. I needed to change something about myself. I didn't like who I was. But I was scared. I thought it was going to be too hard. So I bargained with God and told him that if I could run this marathon that I would change and be better. As the weeks leading up to that starting line got closer, I was nervous for the race, but was increasing worried that I'd actually be able to do it and then I really would have to uphold my end of the bargain. In fact, I KNEW that I was going to be able to finish because He wanted me to finish so that I'd change. Sure enough, I finished, felt like I could do anything, and then I upheld my part of the deal. I was able to do something that was harder than I thought possible. And the rewards have been far greater than I thought were possible as well.
Since that time, each marathon has been a race to beat that time. And it has not happened. I have not been faster than my very first marathon. Do I think it will happen someday? Yes. Otherwise I might have given up a long time ago. But all 6 marathons following that first one have taught me valuable lessons about gratitude, faith, trials, patience, friendship, courage, strength to overcome and enduring to the end that I don't think I could have tangibly have learned any other way. In fact, I don't look for that runner's high anymore. I know it will be there eventually. You run long enough and you'll find it. Nope, I'm looking for that runner's low. We've all been there too. That point where you don't feel like you can take another step... and then you do. The power to overcome. To do what you didn't believe was possible. To break those bands of self limitations.

The last several weeks have not been easy. I don't know if I would have believed that I could run a 20 miler followed the next day by a 10 miler. And this week's 22 miler was tough. Really tough. It never felt like my calves recovered from the week before. The last 4 miles were a death march. It felt every bit as hard as a marathon. But the 11 miler the next day was again surprisingly good. Next week is a step down week and I may take the whole week off. My calves are tight. One of my shins is slightly sore. But do I think I can still do it? Yes. Because I'm going to learn a whole new set of lessons from this experience. And by doing so, it will help with life in general. Hopefully I'll know how to deal with tough situations from what I learn while running. Most of all, I know that there's strength beyond my own that will get me through whatever I face.
A couple of weeks ago I was laying in bed dreading my run. It was the day after my 18 miler. I was tired and that run didn't go well. I knelt to say my prayers and after I had finished the first thought I had was that one of my favorite artists (Hilary Weeks) had a new CD that was to be released that day. I went and plugged in my iPhone and found it had downloaded (as I had prepaid for it) and went down to the treadmill. I listened to it during that 10 miler and listened to several songs repeatedly. That run was so good. And I've come away with a couple of new favorite songs. Some would say that it was a coincidence that I remembered it was the day of the release. I know better. I know that it was a tender mercy, help for me to get through what I thought would be a tough run. Because He cares about what I do. He cares that I succeed. It was another lesson that I needed to remember.

Here's some of the lyrics to "Past the Point" and you'll see why it's one my new favorites:

Lock me up, that's what you'll have to do
If you're gonna stop me from getting where I'm going to.
Or try to keep the sun from coming up
Or the tide from rolling in
Now that I know what I'm capable of.
'Cause every time I wanted to stop I kept running
And every time I hit a wall I climbed
I've broken the bands of my self limitations
Gonna go into line
Going past the point, beyond the mark
Further than I ever thought I could
Out of the dark, into the light
Just like He always knew I would
And when Heaven tells me I can,
I believe it.

No more storms
No wave of fear or doubt
No chains of disappointment could ever hold me back now
'Cause every time I wanna stop I'll keep running
And every time I hit a wall I'll climb
I'm breaking the bands of my self limitations
Gonna go into line
Going past the point, beyond the mark
Further than I ever thought I could
Out of the dark, into the light
Just like He always knew I would
And when Heaven tells me I can,
I believe it.

There it is right in front me just a few more steps, just a few more breaths and I'll get
Past the point, beyond the mark...

Go give it a listen here:
and while you're there give a listen to "That's who I am" and "Living Proof" as well.
Then go check out her music video for "Beautiful Heartbreak". You might see some familiar faces!

What are your reasons to keep running?
What life lessons have you learned?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Mantua Spooktacular and this really did sounded like a good idea 4 months ago...

Fall is my favorite season. Not just to run during, but just to enjoy. It's as if the world takes a big sigh of relief from the hot summer and celebrates by changing all the leaves to brilliant colors. I love the cool mornings and evenings and the sunny warm days. I like the occasional rain and snow storms that remind me that winter is coming. I love the smell of damp leaves. That shouldn't be a good smell, but it is. I like kicking the leaves on my runs and hearing them crunch underfoot. I love how it is soup and hot chocolate season. I love that the garden is done. I just really love fall.

Heather and I took my day off and walked the trail. It was simply gorgeous. And I really noticed a lot more things just walking rather than running. It was fun. We parked a car at the top and the bottom to make it a little easier. Heather has been told to take it easy these last 2 1/2 months of her pregnancy. Unfortunately, we left the keys for the bottom vehicle in the top car so we walked back up the canyon to get them. We like to make things exciting.

Last Saturday we both ran the Mantua Spooktacular 5K. The shirts were awesome!

The course was difficult. I still don't know my official time finish but it was 28 something. I was a little disappointed after that great PR a couple of weeks ago, but knew that I wasn't running at top condition. And it really was a more difficult course. But we all had fun!

I was really disappointed that there were very few who dressed up for a Halloween run. I thought that having 8 legs would make me run faster. Ha ha! And I wished I'd had a photographer for this run. I bet all those legs looked cool while I was running. Of course that may just be how I thought it would look in my mind. I probably just looked like a spastic spider.

Have you seen that sign during a marathon that says something like, "This sounded like a good idea 4 months ago!"? I always liked that one. And now I'm starting to think that on a weekly basis. Back in July (when I wasn't training seriously for anything and was reading too many books), I came up with a great challenge for myself. I've always wanted to do a winter marathon. They just don't exist. At least around here. And I don't want to go to Arizona during the winter. I want a cold weather marathon.
So I decided that it would be really "fun" to run 37 miles on my upcoming 37th birthday in December. People could run miles with me instead of buying me presents. I could do all my favorite loops. My husband agreed to be my water boy and aid stations. I found a couple of ultra training plans and tweaked them to fit my date and goal. It basically consists of two long runs back to back working up to 26/10 miles and then 3 other runs during the week that work up to 10 miles.
I've really been surprised at how well it's been going. I was mostly worried about the second longer run immediately after the first one. But so far, that's ended up being the best run of the week. I really haven't been too sore either and have really enjoyed the step back weeks that have occurred every fourth week. Last week and this week however have proved challenging and the 5 weeks coming up will tell me if I can really do this thing or not. Last week's 18 miler was really hard to get through. My stomach was not doing well and I couldn't wait for it to be over. I woke up the next day DREADING my second long run. But that 10 miler was great.

So Monday, in my best RUNNERD fashion, I busted out 20 miles on the treadmill. That's a new record for me by a long shot. It kept my pace in check for the first half and the plan was to go outside after a while and try to keep the pace the same. But after I had finished 12 and could go outside, I didn't want to have to change clothes, so I just kept going and finished it out.

And if that wasn't enough for one day, we still had Halloween that night.

Which meant I still had to be "on" for a doctor's appointment, for our spooky dinner...

And trick or treating. Good thing we only walked about a mile or so. And it was a really great night. Perfect weather and everything!

No downtime at all, no nap (obviously) and I felt o.k. I wasn't until after my 10 miler yesterday day that the calves really started hurting. I sure am glad today is a rest day!