Monday, July 30, 2012

DIY Paracord Nametape Bracelet

I made myself a paracord nametape bracelet.

I've had a lot of people ask me about it, so I thought maybe it would be cool to show how I did it. Yeah, it's a little cheesy. That's okay with me. Maybe when I'm living near base and I'm a more sophisticated Army wife, I won't wear such things. Maybe. But for now, I'm living in an area with hardly any other MilSOs (I've looked) and I'm proud to wear this.

This one that I'm showing for the tutorial says "U.S. Army." The one I wear actually does say his/our last name. I think it's a bit more affectionate that way. But since I'm trying to remain a bit anonymous here, I made a U.S. Army one especially for this tutorial. And I think this one is pretty cool too.
Things you need:

  • Nametape
  • Paracord. You can get all different colors on amazon. And you think you won't need 100 feet, but you can pretty much use this stuff for anything. Otherwise, you can get it by the foot at most military surplus stores.
  • A cute button. I got mine at Cupid's Cottage on Etsy. If you are interested in really cool paracord bracelets (minus the nametape) check out her store. 
  • 1/4 inch eyelets. The ones I got are a kind of bronze color that I thought looked nice with the green. Got them at walmart. 
  • Pliers
  • Matching thread
  • Matches/lighter
  • Hammer
  • Exacto knife
  • Pen (not shown in pic because I forgot) 
So start with your nametape. 

I got my nametape off of some old uniforms that my husband's family were using for paintballing. I have no idea how old this is, but I kind of like that it looks a little worn. So since I just seam-ripped it off a uniform, it was already nicely ready for a bracelet with the folds on the side. You may have to iron it so it looks like this:
If you want to put a couple stitches in it so it stays, that wouldn't hurt. I didn't on mine. The eyelets will do a pretty good job holding the folds in place.
Next, make a mark where you are going to place the eyelet. Then, very carefully, start to make a hole with the Exacto knife.
Seriously. Be careful.
This is what happens if you aren't careful. A trip to the ER and a scar. 
Making the hole for the eyelet is the most annoying part. I also use a pen to round off the hole and make sure the eyelet would fit.
There is a more correct way to place an eyelet. I kind of just used the pliers and a hammer because I don't own an eyelet tool. Here is a good tutorial on how to do it correctly.
This is what it should look like after placing the eyelets. 
Next, use the tread to tie the button to the eyelet. It might go faster to loop it around a bunch if you use a needle. I used about 2 feet of thread so it was looped around a lot. Yes, you could just stitch the button directly to the nametape. That works fine too. I liked the symmetry of having two eyelets so that's why I did it this way. I also stitched it into the nametape a couple times toward the end to secure it. 
You can also see how the eyelet is not placed very well, but no one will ever see the back when I wear it. 
Next, measure a loop of paracord to finish off the bracelet. It's going to be different for everyone, depending on the length of your nametape and your wrist size. I used about 4 inches here. 
 Remove the insides of the paracord. This is optional. It makes the bracelet here a little less-fat.
 Hold the ends of the paracord together with the pliers. If you can, twist one end and stick it slightly inside the other end (remember it's hollow) and burn the ends together. Make sure you have it looped through the eyelet of the bracelet as shown. The idea here is to make a loop without knots. It's hard to hold the ends together with pliers and strike a match so you may either want to hire a friend to help, or you may have better luck with a lighter.
It's also hard to take a picture at the same time. 
Measure one more time to make sure it fits your wrist and goes around the button. Then move your burned part down as shown below. It's going to get covered up. 
Start your square knot. If you are unfamiliar with paracord bracelet/macrame knots, there is a really good tutorial here. Make sure the loop on top has enough room to go around the button. 
Now, depending again on how long the nametape is, you might now have very much room here. I had a little more room on my actual nametape because our last name is shorter than "U.S. Army." 
US Army on the left, the one with his/our last name is on the right. 
So I couldn't tell you exactly how much paracord you would need here, but I think it's safe to say you'll definitely need less than 2 feet for this part. Next, cut off the ends.
I know, it looks bad. Bear with me. 
Hold the ends together with pliers on the back of the bracelet. Then, while holding it with the pliers, burn those two ends together.
This is what it will look like when you are done. 
You could stitch this part too. I kind of like playing with matches and burning things, so I did it this way. Just be really careful.

And that's it! You're done!

And now you have a cute paracord nametape bracelet.

I'm going to help my friend Sam make a Navy one. She ordered a button that says "I love my sailor" from the Cupid's Cottage Etsy shop. Since the Navy nametapes are blue, I think it would be super cute with blue paracord. Have fun! 

<3 Amy

PS: Let me know if I wasn't clear about something. This is only like my second tutorial ever. 

Past 13.1 and Into Marathon Territory

I ran 14 miles yesterday. My longest run ever. Cray cray! I was thinking to myself, oh it's only .9 miles past what I've run before. But since I ran it much slower than my usual half marathon pace, it actually ended up being a good 20 minutes longer than I've ever run. And I decided to pick a trail with zero shade. Good idea, Amy. Next time, I'm gonna make the drive out to a better shaded trail. It was such a good feeling to get done with it though. A little over 2 months until Chi Marathon. I'm gonna be ready!

The other day was officially 3 months since I said goodbye to James at the end of R&R. Another month down. Thank God. The past month or so has been especially hard for me. It's kind of just a hard spot in the deployment. It's been 3 months since I've seen him, but we've still got over 4 months until he comes home. Dangit.

But I've been incredibly blessed over the past couple months. A navy girlfriend in my area started a Military Significant Other Support Group. So far, we are the only two members, but it's been really refreshing to talk with someone in person that understands what I'm going through. (PS: If you know someone going through/about to go through a deployment in Chicago area, let me know! I don't really want to publicly post details, but I could email you if you are interested).

Also, someone randomly left fliers for something called "Team Salute" at my work. I have been wanting to run for a cause, so I looked some more into this one and I'm convinced that this is it. They help military families in financial need. I'll probably post more about it later, but I'm officially going to join their Chicago Marathon team!

So yeah, it's been kind of tough lately. But God matched it with some pretty cool things as well. Also, track and field is starting up with the Olympics soon and, yeah, I'm pretty dang excited about that. If anything is gonna help motivate me, it's gonna be watching those awesome speedy Olympic runners. :) 

<3 Amy 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fitness for America Half Marathon Recap

Well. I have been posting race recaps for all my races, but I am not as excited to write this post. The good news is that I finished the race without passing out or dropping out. The bad news is that I had to walk a couple times, which is the first time that has happened since my very first cross country race during my freshmen year of high school when I totally didn't know what I was doing. Yeah.

What I did wrong:
  • Sleep. I went to the midnight Dark Knight Rises showing on Thursday night. Then I didn't sleep well on Friday night because, well, I never sleep well before a race. Something I need to work on, I know. Honestly, I was exhausted. I knew it was a bad idea to go to that movie, but I did it anyway.
  • Water. It was hot, hilly, and humid. I was sweating like crazy. There was water every 3 miles and I got some at every stop, but I think I should have tried to drink more at each stop, because I felt a little better each time I drank. I think I should have brought my camel bak. 
  • Heat. I have made sure to do all my longer runs outside, but I have been either getting up early or running on the treadmill. I just wasn't acclimated for the heat and I paid for it. Also, I'm probably never signing up for a July half marathon again.
  • Hills. There were hills in this race and I haven't been training for hills. 'Nuff said. 
Also, Friday was a very emotionally taxing day for me. I've joked with people before that I should never go to midnight showings, because I always end up crying over something because the lack of sleep screws me up so badly. It's kind of funny in retrospect, but this last one was no exception. I had a pretty bad misunderstanding with a family member and even though it was resolved with hugs in the end (praise God for that), there were many tears before we got there.

At one point in the race, we were on a road going straight into the sun. Of course, I forgot my sunglasses. It was really hard to see and really hot running on the pavement. I think I started to get pretty dizzy at one point because I thought to myself "I wonder if I just closed my eyes, I would pass out and someone could just come get me and I could be done."

Then at that moment, Needtobreathe's song "Keep your eyes open" came on my iPod (these are the parts of the song that stuck out):

If you could soldier on
Headstrong into the storm
I’ll be here waiting on the other side
Don’t look back
The road is long
Keep your eyes open, my love
So tell me you’re strong, tell me you see
I need to hear it, can you promise me to
Keep your eyes open, my love
Keep your eyes open, my love
So show me your fire, show me your heart
You know I’ll never let you fall apart if you
Keep your eyes open, my love

Some of my friends will call that a happy coincidence, but I really do think that God used that song to help me finish. As I said before, I didn't drop out or pass out and that was the victory of the day. Also, the popsicles at the end were brilliant.
the good: post-race popsicle that matched my singlet
And I got my third Chicago Half Marathon Series race in. So I'm officially getting a shirt now and I'm eligible to win something for my age group. There are prizes for the top 3 and only 2 people from my age group ran enough of the races to qualify last year. So it might not even matter that I ran a bad race. Gotta count the positives! 

<3 Amy

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Happy Picture Wednesday

Kissy picture! Sorry, I couldn't help myself. The sun kind of sensors it a little bit though. 
This is from our honeymoon. Sorry, this is pretty late but it's still technically Wednesday in Chicago. One more week down! Thank goodness, it's been a tough one.
<3 A

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Happy Birthday to "Running Army Wife"!

It's been exactly 1 year since I started this blog while James was at Ranger School (and actually, I think that most of my hits still come from Ranger School searches). But holy cow, has it been that long?

So I want to take this opportunity to say..
I have to say that I feel honored that people out there read my ramblings. Whether you found me because you're a runner, a military significant other, both, or neither, your comments are so uplifting and I really do appreciate you.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Born to Run

My husband finally got a treadmill at his location in Afghanistan. FINALLY. We're over half way through the deployment now. He's a runner and he's gone over half a year without being able to run, with the exception of a few times during R&R.
Running a race pre-deployment.
I know that my husband is having to do without a lot of things by being over there. Although I'm not sure he actually expected to be able to run while he's over there, it's been really wearing on him that it's been this long.

That's why I was so so excited for him when he told me that they finally got a treadmill! Goodness, he deserves these little pick-me-ups. My mom told her friend about this and she had a hard time understanding why my husband is so excited about a treadmill. It kind of made me laugh. Apparently she is not a fan of running herself.

I recently finished "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall.  It's now one of my favorite books ever. He talks about how man is a perfect endurance running machine. Yes, that's right. Endurance running. I was always under the impression that we ran in modern running shoes because God didn't create us to run 26.2 miles. Not so. Thousands of years ago, we actually used to hunt animals by "persistence hunting" them down. We're able to cool off by sweating and they aren't. So back when we were better at tracking, we were able to slow-run them down until they collapsed from heat exhaustion. And that sometimes would cover as much distance as a marathon.

The problem is that people have learned how to run incorrectly (heel-to-toe). I read this book and thought to myself.. Am I doing people a disfavor by selling them modern running shoes with tons of stability and arch support that's apparently just gonna weaken their feet? In the end, I decided that I'm not. We're so used to modern running shoes that unless you are super-careful and slow about switching to barefoot/minimalist style, you're gonna hurt yourself.  Most people aren't going to be willing to put in that much work to change. So modern shoes still make sense for their lifestyle/ running style. If someone wants to try changing because their starting to get injuries or because they want to put in that work, then they may be a candidate for barefoot shoes.

So yes, man was "Born to Run." Even if some people don't like it and even if the majority of American's have learned how to run the wrong way. God made me to run and it makes me really proud to be a runner and really proud that I'm married to one.

Running gives us a chance to escape, relax, and let everything go.  Isn't that exactly what our service men and women need over there? Thank God for treadmills in Afghanistan.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Happy Picture Wednesday

Hiking in Washington
 Something we'll be doing more of when he gets back.
<3 A.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Marathon Training: Week 5 Recap

Just under 13 weeks to go til Chicago Marathon! Here is last week's training:
Thursday was supposed to be a 6 mile day.. I ended up getting a really bad stress headache and just having a pretty bad day in general. So I started my run but didn't finish it.. hence the 2 mile run.

I did have a good run on Sunday though. It's been crazy hot (as I'm sure you noticed) but Chicago got a "cold front" in on Sunday and so the temperature dropped to being only in the mid-eighties. It's kinda funny to use "cold front" and "mid-eighties" in the same sentence but dang it felt nice to run in the low-70s in the morning.

I decided to run on this 10-mile trail loop. It's a little farther away from my house but I had more time than usual Sunday morning so I felt it would be worth it. There isn't much water along the path (and when there is, it's like those stupid pumps that require someone to pump it while you drink and there was just me) so I decided to bring my 1-liter Camelbak.

I have to be honest... I haven't use it since I bought it back in November and decided I didn't like it very much. But I gave it another go and maybe since I was more prepared for the weight of it, I decided I loved it. Besides the water, I also carried my gel, car key, and ipod in it. I wish I had kept track of how much water I put in there, because I had emptied it by the time I got around to 10 miles. I stopped and got more from my car before I finished up the last two.
Me: So happy to be done.
It took me 2 hour and 10 minutes (average 10:48 min/mile) to get it done. Unfortunately, I don't have an easy way to post the mile-by-mile because I can't find the little connector stick thingy for my Garmin. Grr.
My mileage the last 4 weeks.
So there's the mileage the last 4 weeks. You can see where my vacation was. Obviously, I wasn't following the 10% weekly increase rule on that 4th week so maybe it's not such a bad thing that I didn't get the full mileage in. I'm pretty sore today.

This week though, I'm planning on getting on my miles in. Gotta get back on track! Wish me luck.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Marathon Training on Vacation

Well. I tried. Kind of. I will say I tried about as hard to continue train as I tried to relax. I knew I wasn't going to be able to totally keep up with the schedule, but I didn't know what to expect so I didn't have a set mileage goal.

The vaca was just under two weeks long.

Total mileage that I was supposed to do: 51
Total mileage that I actually did: 24

Yikes. Less than half.
The excuses:
  1. It was crazy hot. 
  2. I was staying in close quarters with my family, which made it pretty impossible to go to bed early so I could get up earlier. 
  3. Not all the areas that we stayed at were safe for me to go running by myself. 
  4. I wanted to enjoy my vacation without having to stress about centering it around running. 
  5. One of the two weeks was a "recovery" week with only 6 miles as the "long run." So I kind of just extended the recovery week to two weeks in the plan. 
  6. I still have over 3 months til the Marathon so it's still pretty dang early in the training.
The pros that enabled me to run what I did:
  1. Running with my younger brother on the shorter runs. 
  2. Getting the 8-miler in up the coast from our hotel with some people from my dad's conference.
  3. The scenery.
  4. Motivation to get more sweet running pics like this one:
The Duomo in Florence
Overall, I'm happy with what I did. Sometimes you can't just look at the numbers.

<3 Amy

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Picture Wednesday and Happy 4th!

Happy 4th of July! And of course, a special thanks for all our troops (past and present) and their families. We live in the Land of the Free because of the brave.. and I'm so so proud that my husband is one of those brave! 

Also.. I know you can't see but I'm wearing a stars and stripes bikini in this picture. I just thought the one with my hubby was happier than the one that shows off the stars and stripes by myself. :) 

FYI: In case you're just stumbling across this and don't know.. I am posting a "Happy Picture" (almost) every week on Wednesday during the hub's deployment to help keep things positive despite the separation. And we're over half way there, so less than 26 pictures to go!

<3 Amy