Monday, October 31, 2011

Half Marathon Training: Week 2 Report

Happy Halloween! :) 

Last week was good. I technically had two long runs in one week, since I had to postpone the long run in week 1. So I sort of combined my long run with what was supposed to be a 6-mile run.. but I should be back on track now. This week's mileage should hold steady and come out to be around 24 miles as well. 

I decided to move around some things in my plan. I had my bike day on Monday before, but I decided that doesn't really make sense since Sunday is a day off. Bike day should be a rest/cross training day. So I switched the Monday column with the Friday column.

I got my pace tat for the Seattle Half Marathon. Omygoodness I'm so excited. I'm going for 1:57:30. That's a 8:57 mile. I ran an average 9:06/mile at the Chicago Half Marathon. So basically I only need to run 9 seconds faster per mile.. but it's on a hilly course. And the Chicago Half Marathon was totally flat. Hmm. My wonderful hubby said that he might run with me to help make sure I'm hitting my times. 
Well.. I'm about to go run outside. Because it's sunny and 55 degrees out. I kinda feel like I'm missing out on the whole snow storm thing, but I don't envy those without power. And I like running outside. Anyone out there trying to run in the snow? 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Wearing Blue & More Waiting

On Saturday morning, James and I went to the Wear Blue: Run to Remember running club. I had actually first heard of this club in an article in Runner's World, back in February. It started off as a club for Army wives and widows and now has expanded to anyone that wants to be a part of their mission to run to remember soldiers that have fallen for our country. 
Photo by Ingrid Barrentine, source
We gathered together and were each given a slip of paper with name of a soldier that had died on the dates of this week over the last couple years. We each said the name of our soldier and then were invited to call out the name of any other solider that you were running to remember. We ended with a prayer of protection for the soldiers and their families that are currently deployed and for those preparing for deployment.

I found a friend to run 9 miles with me and we got a really great run in. There were several water and Gatorade stops that someone in the group had set up, and someone had even marked turns of the 14-mile course with sidewalk chalk. The lady I ran with was a transportation officer that was married to a Special Forces soldier. She is preparing for her husband's deployment as well.

I was really excited to finally meet this amazing running club that I had known about for months, but I realized that it wasn't just a running club for "fun" like I had been apart of before; it really was a running support group. One woman cried for the her whole 6-mile run, but was joined by another one of the ladies who ran with her and hugged her at the end.

As much as it made my heart ache for her, I couldn't help but feel a sense of awe at how much God was at work in this group. I'm definitely going to keep going each Saturday for as long as I'm here.

Afterward, I felt sore but good. My achilles is still a little iffy but not too bad. I'm doing ice and ibuprofen to be careful. Also, I decided to finally take a pic of this.. my cat thinks me icing is the most entertaining thing she's ever seen. It looks like this every time I ice.

In other news,  James's whole brigade has been put on hold in preparation for the deployment because it might get changed. Meaning that it might be delayed as late as April and become a 7-9 month deployment (instead of 12 months), or it might stay exactly the same. Or pretty much anything in between. I'm trying not to get my hopes up. Hopefully we will find out what the plan is soon. 

Much love, Amy

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Running Goals for 2012

  • Join a running club once I move back to IL
  • Finish Chicago Marathon (my first!)
  • Finish at least 6 Half Marathons 
  • 1:50 Half Marathon PR
  • Train Mocha to run with me
Moka as a puppy. 
What's that? You thought I had a cat? Well, that's correct. I have a cat. Mocha is actually my parent's dog. But since I'll be living with my parents while James is deployed, I decided I would try to train her to run with me. She is about three years old now, so now is a good time to train her (according to Runner's World anyway). 

Perhaps it's a little soon to be thinking about New Year's resolutions, but since I know I'll be on my own, I figure it would be a good time to start thinking about what I would be doing with my time that year.  

I'm thinking about an Olympic-distance triathlon too.. which is about twice the distance of a sprint. But training for a triathlon is a lot trickier since you have to fit in good swimming workouts and biking as well.. It would be a relief to myself if I decided to only focus on running and getting a decent time in the marathon. But we'll see. 

Anyone else have goals yet for 2012? 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Preparing for Deployment.. part 2

Well, I've got some good news and some bad..

Bad news first? Okay. Well, hubby's battalion is going over for a 12-month deployment, starting in December. You may have heard in the news that they are starting to switch over to 9-month deployments. Well they are.. in January. So another battalion in James's unit is leaving in January and they will be there 9 months. James is leaving a month earlier and he will be there for 12. Dang it. I really hope something changes while they are over there.

The good news? James almost got sent over mid-November to go with a team that goes over before everyone else. The only reason why he didn't is because his vaccines weren't ready yet. He's in the middle of the small pox vaccine (which takes 30 days) and he has to wait to get the TB test until the 30 days is over. So that's the only reason why he's not going sooner. Also, if he had left sooner, he wouldn't have gotten back sooner. It would have been a 12 1/2 month deployment. Phew.

So anyway.. we're going to have to celebrate Christmas and our anniversary really early this year. And I'll get him back (hopefully) in time for Christmas next year. A friend of mine suggested that when he gets back, we should splurge take a trip to Hawaii or something. Since we're saving so much money while he's gone, I think that's a good idea.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Half Marathon Training: Week 1 Report

Well, I would love to tell you that things are going smoothly, but it's been a little rough. Here are a few changes/notes about it so far:
  1. I totally forgot that we had the Zombie Dash 5k on Saturday. So I didn't do my long run. Zombies don't run long. They only run short, fast distances.
  2. I'm trying to keep Sundays totally free to relax with hubby and have a sort of Sabbath.
  3. Because of points 1 and 2, I did my long run on Monday (yesterday). It went well, except that I miscalculated on distance so I didn't get the full 8 miles in.
  4. My achilles has been acting up again. So I'm biking today instead of running 6 miles.. then getting back on schedule.
Gah. Not really a good report of the first week. I'm running with a club at Fort Lewis on Saturday, which is their long run day. So I shouldn't have a problem getting that run in this week.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Running Dead

James and I did the Zombie Dash 5k in downtown Olympia this afternoon! Runners could register as either a human or zombie. Humans got a 2 minute head-start. Humans had these tails like in flag football and if a zombie got it, the human was then "infected." There was a prize for the first uninfected human to finish, the first zombie, and for the zombie to infect the most humans.

So of course, we registered as zombies.

I'm proud to say that James caught to most humans (26 total) and won a voucher for free running shoes! Yay!! I'm such a proud zombie wife.

There was actually only 4 humans that finished uninfected I think. There was also a protest going on in Olympia (this happens a lot, since it's the capital) and the race route went right by them. I think we were the most entertainment of their whole day.

Scary faces!

James, that's not scary enough. One more.

Okay in that one, I look like tired zombie. Oh well.

Anyone else doing a fun halloween/thanksgiving race?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pumpkin Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling

I found this Carrot Muffin with Cream Cheese recipe a little while ago online. It's probably the most amazing recipe that I've discovered to date. I'll never be able to appreciate carrot cake from a box again. So I started thinking.. why not try this with a pumpkin muffin? Pumpkin and cream cheese? Yes, one of the best combinations ever.

A visual of what you need:

This recipe has three acts.

Act 1: The Muffin (courtesy of Will Run for Food)

1 package (18.25 oz.) spice cake mix
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
3 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Paper-line or grease 24 muffin cups.

Blend cake mix, pumpkin, eggs, oil, water, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. I decided NOT to beat with a beater because I wanted them to be a little denser and moister, a little more like a muffin and little less like a cake. Pour batter into prepared muffin cups, about 3/4 full.

Act 2: The Cream Cheese Filling (courtesy of The Delicious Life)

4 oz. softened cream cheese
1 egg yolk
½ cup sugar
½ tsp. vanilla

Mix ingredients together with a wire whisk.

Act 3: Marrying the muffin and the cream cheese
Now here's the tricky part. Create a well in your first muffin and add a spoonful of cream cheese filling. Do the same thing with the rest of your muffins. Work quickly, because your well will close up fast. I recommend doing one muffin at a time.

I used the back of a spoon to make my wells.

Here's the ready-to-bake products. Bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out of the muffin clean.

I may have overfilled them just a tad.

What's that? Is that camouflage muffin paper? Yes. Yes it is.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Rise & Run

I was recently re-inspired to run in the morning by Runner's World "Rise & Run" article in the October issue. In college cross country, we had to get up a couple times a week and be at the track by 6am. Thankfully, I never had to run 400s around the track for being late, probably because my roommate was also on the team and didn't seem to have as much trouble getting up as me (thanks Bekah!).

But I did love running in the morning once we started. The getting out of bed and the shivering bike ride on the way out to the track were not fun. But once I warmed up after the half mile or so, the morning runs were bliss. I still remember doing an out-and-back run with another girl from the team. We ran out in the dark, chattering along. When we turned around at the half-way point toward the sunrise, we both gasped at how beautiful it was.

But holy cow, it's hard to wake up without that accountability. I told myself I would get up at 7:30 this morning to go running. Hubby had to be at work at 6:30 this morning, so 7:30 would really be like sleeping in. Then I would have the whole day to be productive. But then of course, the alarm went off..

Mmm I'll just reset it to 8.

But, much to my surprise, hubby came home at 7:45. He had forgotten something so he had to come home for it.

You're still in bed? I thought you said you were waking up at 7:30?

Dang it. He caught me.

Then I was forced to get up because he put the cat in our bed. Who will without fail, begin attacking my feet whenever we are in bed together.

But I can't be too mad, because I got a great run in. I signed up for the Seattle Half Marathon, which is in 6 weeks. This is my plan (blue means I've already completed that workout):

I'll let you know how it goes. Now on to do some laundry.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Preparing for Deployment

I haven't wanted to think about it, much less prepare for it. But it's happening. Sometime in December (we think). The Deployment Ceremony, which is an official "goodbye" to the unit that normally happens a few weeks before the first plane, is toward the end of November. I got the email from his unit telling me that it was strongly advised that I attend workshops in preparation for deployment. One of the workshops will cover "Red Cross, Casualty Notification Process, and Operational Security." My stomach kind of dropped at that one. Casualty Notification Process. Of course, I need to know how that works, but it just makes the danger all the more real, when I think I've been conveniently trying to forget about that part.

We still haven't received the orders in our hands that he is leaving. Because he is still so new to the unit, I don't think they know exactly what they are going to do with him. But he's not gone yet, and so I refuse to let myself stress too much about it now. There will be plenty of time to stress after he is gone. And when that time comes, I will come up with some other excuse for why I shouldn't be stressing.

I heard on the radio a story of a woman that survived cancer. She said that chemo wasn't that hard, because she kept on telling people that Jesus was taking care of her. I mean seriously? Chemo wasn't hard? If Jesus can't make chemo not so bad, then I think He can take care of me and James during this deployment.

So for now, I'm just taking a deep breath and enjoying pumpkin spice marshmallows (yes, I know.. I just discovered them) in my chai tea latte. Jesus will take care of us.

Orange-Chai Poached Pears

(my adaption of Rachel Ray's Citrus-Caramel Poached Pears)

I decided I had to try this. But I couldn't resist adding Chai. This might be my new favorite way to eat Pears.

2 Pears, pealed
1 tbsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Nutmeg
1 to 2 cups of Orange Juice
1/4 cup Sugar
1 shot of Triple-sec
1 scoop of Chai Latte mix

Combine all ingredients in saucepan. Cook on low heat, covered, for 30 minutes or until Pears are tender.

Carefully remove the pears (they are going to be really soft). Continue to boil liquid for another half hour, or until syrupy.

Drizzle pears with syrup. Sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg, and chai mix.

Seriously. Try it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fall & Fruit Desserts

It's definitely Fall. I'm so excited. I'm making pumpkin cheesecake cupcakes tomorrow night. Tonight, I'm trying out these caramel poached pears. OMG. I can't wait.

I gotta say one of my favorite things about living in Washington is the fresh and cheap produce. We're also in wine country, so you can get a decent bottle of wine for like 2 or 3 dollars. Because you know.. we're not stuck-up about our wine, so we don't mind the cheap stuff. So guess what we had last night for dessert?

Mhmm. Sweet red wine and red raspberries.

I also decided I needed to make some caramel apples. I had been craving one since we saw some amazing-looking ones at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory downtown Seattle. But alas, they were all over $7 and I just couldn't spend that much on one apple, no matter how beautiful they looked.

I ate the rainbow sprinkled one first. And then I ate the chocolate sprinkled one. I have no regrets. The chocolate one was James's. He's actually eating it right now. But I was tempted to steal his too.

Well, it's raining (again). So now I might go run on the treadmill again because I'm lame and don't really like running in the cold rain. I've got a 5k coming up on the 22nd. It's the Zombie Dash 5k. It's pretty much the most excited I've ever been about a 5k because I'm going to be a zombie. So I gotta train so I can try to catch some humans. hehe.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Adventures in Washington

We went hiking this weekend. James picked the location. Ranger Falls. Of course. :) The woods here are absolutely gorgeous. We hiked over 9 miles. I'm pretty sore, but it was fun. I think I'd like to officially add "hiking" to my hobbies.

Then we went to the city. And searched Pike Place Market for the first starbucks. Which is trickier than you would think it would be when we both were too embarrassed to ask for directions (only tourist ask for directions and we are now locals!) and there are like 6 starbucks in Pike Place. But we finally found it. It was the one with a line of tourist going out the door.

So now we can say we've been there.

We also got a huge blessing: James was able to get permissive TDY. Which means he got more time to move us in. And we totally were not expecting that. Usually soldiers can request time off to look for a place/move-in. But James was hearing that a lot of guys that were reporting weren't getting it. But he did! Woohoo. So he's got the whole week off. So hopefully we will be all comfortable moved in by then and maybe I'll show off some pics of my apartment.

We also visited a church on Sunday. And we loved it. I don't even know if we will visit another one. We loved it that much. I also ran with the Olympia Running Club and I'm now looking into the Lacey Running Club. So I'm starting to meet people.

God is good.

Gnite, loves.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Moved In!

We've moved in, we're drinking lots of coffee, and we even have some plans to meet some fellow runners (/friends?).

Well. I say we've moved in, but that only means that technically all our stuff is in the apartment. In boxes. Our address is Olympia but we are in the middle of of a town called Lacey. We actually go through Lacey to get to downtown Olympia. I haven't figured that out yet.

Have I told you I love our apartment? We found one through this Army off-base housing program. Basically, the Army has a list of apartments that they have relationships with. It's kind of nice, because it's means that they have looked over the leases, so we know that they don't take advantage of military people. James was told in a housing briefing that sometimes apartments will offer "move-in specials" but if a military person has to break a lease (which he/she can do by federal law if it's because of deployment or change of station), then they can technically ask for the "specials" back without breaking the law. So if the move-in special was $200 off/month for the first year, they can't charge the fee for breaking the lease but they could ask for all that "discount" money back. So there are stories of people getting this huge charges at move-out..A little scary. :/ It also means we don't have to pay for the background check, we get 5% off rent, and the Army automatically deducts the rent from James's paycheck and pays the apartment for us. But it doesn't take all of his housing allowance (like it would have if we had lived on base). So we're still saving about $300/month by living off-base. Pretty sweet.

Ahh Washington. They drink a lot of coffee here. There are Starbucks everywhere, plus these little coffee stands all over the place. Although we haven't made it to too many other coffee places besides Starbucks. His mom gave us a bunch of coupons for free drinks before we left, so we've been having a lot of Starbucks lately. After the coupons are gone though, we will for-sure start trying some more of those little coffee stands. Maybe we can ask some of the runners tonight what they recommend..

Yes, so tonight, James and I are meeting the Olympia Running Club for their Wednesday night 5 mile run. Hopefully I am able to keep up and meet some nice people. I haven't been so great about running with all this craziness. This weekend, we are hoping to start looking for a church too.

Btw, I went on a bike ride yesterday. This was my horizon:

Whenever the sky clears up, we can see that. We moved here right in the rainy season, so it's rained at least once a day since we got here. We did go check out our complex's hot tub last night though. In the 50 degree rainy weather. It was actually quite lovely. The only bad part was having to finally get out and scurry back all the way across the complex in a towel, soaking wet in the cold. Then we watched some Scrubs while drinking Chocolate wine in front of our new electric fireplace. God is good.