Taking the Plunge into Ultras…

Well, not so much of a plunge as it is a baby step. If you didn’t catch it on Instagram or Twitter, yesterday I signed up for my first Ultra! 

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If you haven’t heard of the Bullet Creek50, I highly recommend checking it out. You can visit their website, sign up on Ultrasignup, or find the latest info on Facebook.

There are three distances – half marathon, 50k, and 50 miles. I signed up for the 50k! The swag at this race is unbelievable. .. at the packet pickup they’re giving ALL runners a Camelbak hydration pack, Petzl headlamp,  and Under Armour tech tee!

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Bullet Creek50 swag

With such awesome “goody bags,” the hubster even decided to sign up for his first half marathon!

I signed up for the 50k thinking I just may not be ready for a 50 miler so soon from now (I have about 3.5 months to recover and train), BUT there is NO CUTOFF time, AND if a runner can’t finish the distance they signed up for, they WILL get a belt buckle if they finish one of the shorter distances! So, I’m seriously considering emailing the race director to see if I can pay the extra $20 to upgrade to the 50 miler. If it turns out I’m not fit to finish it, I’m confident I can finish the 50k.

Is giddiness normal after completing a marathon? I’ve been overwhelmingly giddy ALL WEEK LONG. My very soul is sparkling and bubbling, like overflowing champagne! Is it due to the completion of an enormous goal? Is it due to how well I felt during, and after, the run? Maybe getting an awesome deal on my first pair of trail running shoes? (Used my REI dividend to partially pay for them, AND my order qualified for a $20 gift card! That deal is going till April 29 – check it out!)

Or maybe it’s due to the fact that the completion of that goal was not an end unto itself, but rather one big step towards a series of goals. I’m on my way towards making my dreams a reality, and learning that I am so much stronger than I ever believed possible!

What are you learning about yourself as you work towards, and beyond, your goals?

I AM a Marathoner

Well, hello there! It’s been a long time, I know. How long? Oh, let’s see… about a month and a half, maybe a tad longer. You see, between sickness knocking the whole family out for a solid month, work consuming so much of my time, struggling to keep the marathon training going, struggling to maintain that whole “work, family, running” balance, and then, well, Spring singing her siren song, calling me outside, let’s just say I have been uninspired to do any writing lately.

However, there have been recent developments that are most wonderfully noteworthy, and worthy to be chronicled.

First of all….

I DID IT!! I finished a marathon!!!

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Jumping for joy at mile 20!

This past Saturday I finished the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon in a chip time of 5:22:50!

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Finishing strong!

And I did it in a tutu!

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So proud to be a Marathoner!

I just LOVE the Kentucky Derby Festival marathon and miniMarathon. I did the “mini” two years ago. Both times to run in the KDF have been a joyous delight. Between the fun expo, the nice goody bags, the “scream teams” and music tents along the course, and the energetic crowds that line the course, how could you not love this great event? The crowd kept me going, kept me pumped up…. well, the crowd and the tutu. Yes, tutus ROCK! They DO give you super powers – because they just make the run twice as much fun. Don’t believe me? Wear one in your next race. I dare you! 😉

Midnight Mommy Tip #10

Forget what the professionals say… If the only way she’s going to sleep is flopped out on your pillow on top of your head, LET HER. Trust me, that’s the only way ANYONE is going to get any sleep!

FUEL THE FIRE: PocketFuel Review & Giveaway Preview

I had talked myself out of running before I even rolled out of bed. My first alarm went off and I got up just long enough to silence it. Two hours later, my “for real this time, get your butt out of bed” alarm went off. I dragged myself towards the kitchen for a cup of coffee and noticed the sun was shining oddly bright this day. Letting the dogs out to do their business, I was shocked at the absence of cold. Sun? Warmth? What is this voodoo?

As I trudged on into the kitchen and started sipping my coffee, I noticed a package on the counter. I LOVE getting packages in the mail. It always feels like Christmas when I get packages in the mail. It REALLY felt like Christmas when I looked in the box to find a huge hunkin’ handful of PocketFuel! These folks are crazy generous with their sample sizes!

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As I flipped through the packets, looking at the flavors and ingredients, my mouth began to drool. I HAD to test these babies out STAT! Oh yeh, I was going for a run!

Since I was skipping breakfast, for my first trial I went with the most breakfast-y flavor – Banana Blueberry. I didn’t really taste banana OR blueberry. What I did taste was creamy, nutty deliciousness.

It was such a beautiful day I even got baby girl out in the jogging stroller.

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She napped most of the run.

I was scheduled for 6 miles of intervals, but the stroller slowed me down (can someone say FEEL THE BURN! I mean SERIOUSLY – my arms were BURNING a mile in!) especially on the hills. I ended up going a slow 3.24, powering up the hills to try to make up for the decreased distance.

I never felt an energy spike, nor did I ever feel a crash – just a steady flow of energy.

Later that night, at work, instead of being forced to choose between eating or working out, I got to get in a yoga session AND eat some yummy PocketFuel – coconut cherry, this time…

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And this time, I could definitely taste the coconut AND the cherry. Mmmmm mmmmmm good!

On my second day of Christmas, I mean PocketFuel testing, I hit the mother load – CHOCOLATE ESPRESSO. Oh my sweet deliciousness.

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Hello. My name is Jennifer. I’m a coffee addict. I love Starbucks, dark chocolate, and all things espresso. I have been clean for zero days.

Oh yes, I’m sure you guessed it – this is by far my favorite flavor. The only bad thing about this flavor is that I don’t have a one gallon ice cream tub filled with it. Except, well, that’s probably a good thing.

This choco espresso goodness got me through another lunchbreak (that’s actually supper time for most folks) yoga session, and was a nice pick-me-up to get through the rest of the night shift.

I parted ways with Vanilla Haze, gifting it to a co-worker who suffers from Celiac disease. He had never heard of PocketFuel before. I’m happy to report he now likes these little packets of whole food deliciousness much as I do!

For my long run test, I drizzled Chia Goji & Honey over a sliced banana on bread which was a yummy pre-run snack.

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The only thing I didn’t like during my run is that I had to carry a sandwich bag to put my packet in once I emptied it – to keep my pocket clean. This is an issue with gels, too. PocketFuel actually makes reusable pouches, though, eliminating the issue altogether.

Long story short, PocketFuel is a wonderfuel whole food product that has many applications for my (and I’m sure your) life. Whether I’m trying to squeeze too much into one day or cranking out a long run, I don’t have to sacrifice my taste buds or my nutritional well-being on the altar of time. PocketFuel is the rocket in my pocket that keeps me in orbit! 🙂

In addition to providing me with these tasty samples to review here, the awesome folks at PocketFuel have also offered to provide samples for one lucky reader in an upcoming giveaway. Its coming very soon, so stay tuned for a wonderfuel giveaway!

The Long Run, Week 10: Any Which Way But Loose

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As you can see, my long run didn’t go as originally planned… and even the new plan was continuously edited. Between working too much overtime, having a sick baby AND a sick husband (and now am sick again, myself), there was just no way I could dedicate a solid chunk of time to the 16 mile long run that my training plan was calling for. I just didn’t have that sort of time available. What I did have were several short blocks of time. So, I got my run in however, whatever, whenever, wherever possible.

Ultimately that meant three runs during my three breaks at work, and one run, at home, after work. I didn’t get to eat as much as I would’ve liked but I did get to scarf down enough to keep me going.

I PR’d three times – actually probably not a good thing for what was supposed to be a long, easy run, but that is what it took to get the mileage in during my allotted time for breaks. I paid the price for those PRs in three days of IT pain. My legs were tired Sunday and dead Monday.

I wanted to push for a total of 18 miles, but between time constraints and feeling flu-ish, it wasn’t looking like a likely scenario. When I found myself surrounded by singing coyotes with nary a house (safety) around, I turned back early and did my best to keep my fear at bay as I jogged towards home. Considering how my legs felt in the days following, I’ll consider it a good thing I decided to stick to the training plan’s distance instead.

Regardless of not meeting my desired distance goal, I’m proud of powering through a difficult situation and getting my run(s) in. Have you ever faced a situation where you had to break your long run up into smaller runs? Did you feel like it was physically harder than one single long run?

Fabulous Friday: Confession Time

I’m spilling the cats and letting the beans out of the bag.

Wait. I think something’s wrong with that statement.

Never mind.

In this fitness-crazed world, filled with buzzwords like “clean,” “paleo,” “vegan,” “plant-based,” “whole food,” and on and on, I feel like a cheap hooker, hawking my health for just a taste of the comforting deliciousness I was raised on. Maybe its just the rebel in me, but from soul food to fast food, heat ’em up meals to the sweet stuff, being bad never felt so good.

So what are the comfort foods that tickle my fancy and satisfy my soul? Here’s just a sampling of what I’ve eaten this year alone…

10. BACON. You will never persuade me to believe that bacon is bad. Bacon is pure happiness. I am convinced that if we could get the Jews and the Muslims to eat bacon, world peace would ensue.

9. KFC Chicken Tender Go Cup… the potato wedges remind me of the local grocery’s “tater logs” I loved as a child.

8. Fried chicken and mashed potatoes with gravy. Just like mama used to make. Well, actually she did make it. Mr. Incredible’s mama, that is. It was finger lickin’ good!

7. Big Mac. Well, just make it a meal deal. Gotta have those McD’s fries! And, while you’re at it, order a coke… Water is NOT the proper pairing for a meal such as this.

6. Beer. Not just any beer. I’m talking dark lager – the kind that is a meal unto itself. That’s my recovery drink of choice.

5. Red Baron Special Deluxe Pizza. I can eat a whole one by myself in one sitting. I did eat a whole one after my last Half Marathon…. along with two of the aforementioned lagers.

4. Venti Caramel Macchiato. How many calories does it have? Don’t know. Don’t care. All I know about it: that’s a 20 ounce trip to Heaven.

3. Italian Creme Cake. It was actually just a bite, but, OH what a bite. The rest of the honking huge slice is waiting in my work locker… I was gonna share with Mr. Incredible, but am reconsidering. It’s just that good. Yeh, I’m stingy with my food sometimes.

2. Chicken and Waffles. With syrup. LOTS of it. Not the sugar-free kind either. Afterward, I ran my fastest 2 mile run to date. Need I say more?

1. Bologna sandwiches with, dare I say it… REAL mayo. Not just any bologna – THICK cut bologna. There’s just something about Springtime, honeysuckle and bologna that takes me back to the golden days of early childhood where my days were filled with blissful play. I wouldn’t trade that for all the quinoa in Kentucky.

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*Disclaimer: I actually DO like quinoa. I enjoy the healthy stuff, too. 😉

MOM TALK: A Few God-given Promises

I received another gem in my email and just had to share…

Mom Talk

So, I took this online quiz which informed me that I should only have one child because I’m “just not cut out for this motherhood thing.” Apparently, the makers of this quiz were unimpressed with my “go to meal” of boxed macaroni and cheese and my inability to hold someone’s hair back while they vomit. They would probably be horrified to know that I am expecting my fifth child!

What I found amusing is that the makers of the quiz pretty much touched on all of the areas in which we moms tend to compare ourselves to each other. You know how it goes. You see some kid at church with the cutest outfit. You ask the mom where she bought it only to discover that it was handmade. Meanwhile, you don’t even own a needle and thread. Or, maybe, you’ve never made a meal that was Pinterest worthy and no one has ever asked for the recipe for your end of the week Leftovers Casserole.

Motherhood was never meant to be a competition sport. We are all on the same team. We have different strengths and weaknesses. We have all been equipped for good works – just equipped differently. We are to do everything to the glory of God utilizing the gifts that we have each been given.

So, don’t be intimidated by that crafty mom who makes unbelievable treats for her child’s classroom party. Applaud her for her efforts because I promise she struggles in another area. On the flip side, don’t judge the mom who always signs up to bring the paper goods because she probably rocks at kissing boo boos and telling bedtime stories.

I’m going to leave you with just a few promises that you can claim, as a mother, regardless of your sewing or culinary skills.

1. You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14.)
2. You are thoroughly equipped (2 Timothy 3:17.)
3. You have God-given gifts (1 Corinthians 7:7.)

We need to learn to appreciate each other’s gifts without devaluing our own gifts. What you do, fellow mom, is amazing. The day in and day out of it all takes commitment and hard work and it is not for the faint of heart. I’m proud of what you do – whether it’s homemade treats or store bought cookies. Whether it’s chicken noodle soup from scratch or Ramen noodles from a pack. There is no condemnation for those up to their necks in motherhood.

So, serve that boxed Mac and cheese with pride. Hold your head high when you deliver those paper goods to your child’s classroom. I know that’s what I’m going to do.

Carry on, moms. We are all in this together.

Meet the author:

Stacy Edwards (@sjedwards) is a trucker’s daughter and a pastor’s wife. She is married to Michael Edwards, the Evangelism and Recreation Pastor at Living Hope. She is a freelance writer and a homeschooling mom to four little girls. Stacy blogs at Servant’s Life where she uses her words to point others to the hope and encouragement found in Christ. If you need her, she’s probably hiding in the bathroom.

Do you know a mom who needs encouragement? Why don’t you pass this on to her?

The Long Run That Didn’t Happen: A Bye Week

So last week ended up being pretty much a total bust. We were all sick, out of it, and, to add insult to injury, the weather was G – O – R – G – E – O – U – S.

I can’t remember the last time I was sick. I also can’t remember the last time we had sunny, warm, break-out-the-shorts-and-blind-everybody-with-my-pale-as-a-Cullen-legs weather. To have nearly a solid week of both at the same time was enough to make me absolutely miserable.

Though the week ended with a hacking wheeze, I’m thankful I at least kicked it off with a good start. Since I had pretty much settled into my new work routine, I instituted “Mommy-Daughter Monday.” Normally, during the workweek, since we work opposite shifts and I go to sleep a mere three hours before her usual time to awake, Mr. Incredible drops Baby Girl off at his parents’ house on his way to work. Mondays, however, are easy for me to wake up early since I’m able to go to bed at a decent hour the night before.

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So, this past week, for our first “Mommy-Daughter Monday,” I took Baby Girl to Toys ‘R Us and got her a playpen and foam mat. She has recently gotten VERY mobile and hard to contain! She’s liking her new play space, but I have a feeling we’ll need to expand it before long – she likes to be on the go!

Tuesday, the beautiful, warm weather arrived. Thankfully, I did get a run in this day, despite being sick. Baby Girl was feeling good, and it was warm enough for her, so I left the house with the jogging stroller, picked her up along the way, and got her out for about 4.5 miles of my nearly 6 mile run. I think she pretty much napped the whole way.

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It was all downhill from there. That night, I left work an hour early. I called in sick the next day. I would have done so again the next day, but don’t want to use all of my sick days so early in the year. I just loaded up with DayQuil and Pepto and prayed for the best.

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Friday came and went and I don’t even remember it. Saturday… sweet Saturday. By then I was finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I really wanted to get out for a run, and it was nice enough for Baby Girl to go with me… Awwww, but I didn’t go. Mr. Incredible wasn’t making such an incredible recovery, so I stayed in to hang with him.

I thought I would get all my household stuff handled on the weekend, and possibly start afresh Monday (if the weather were nice enough for Baby Girl, being that Monday is our day now). Even that plan had a monkey wrench thrown in it when I could not for the life of me go to sleep. The house got clean and I got exhausted. I ended up crashing after Church and lunch. Thankfully I slept that night and was able to have a great Mommy-Daughter Monday. It was too chilly for her to go out for a run, but part of it was spent grocery shopping. Who needs P90x when you’ve got a squirming 20 lb baby strapped to your chest while you squat, lunge and contort yourself through two hours grocery shopping?

So, tomorrow, Thursday and Saturday are looking to be good running days. The weather will be a tad on the chilly side, but nice for solo runs. My health has been regained. The rest did my body good – my foot feels fine again.

Do I feel bad about missing out on training? It would have been nice to enjoy another fair-weather run, but… feel bad about missing out on training? No. Not at all. I actually started my training plan a week early, so I was already trying to decide how to adjust it. A bye week just gave me the rest I needed, time with the family that we all needed, and got my training schedule back on track. Now, let’s see if I can keep it on track! 🙂

How about you? Did last week treat you well? How is this week shaping up? How is training going?

The Long Run, Week 8: Say Hello To My Little Friend

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Morton’s neuroma involves a thickening of the tissue around one of the nerves leading to your toes. This can cause a sharp, burning pain in the ball of your foot. Your toes also may sting, burn or feel numb.

Source: Mayo Clinic

My little friend’s name is Neuroma. Morton’s Neuroma. And he can be a big pain sometimes.

Take this past Saturday for example. After WEEKS of zero pain, Mr. Morton inexplicably decided to remind me of his existence. It started with some soreness on the ball of my foot Thursday, leaving me limping in to work. I tried switching insoles, then took all of the insoles out. The relief was minor. By the time I set out on my long run Saturday, I was prepared for three hours of torture.

Surprisingly, my foot hurt more when walking than running. As a matter of fact, the pain completely subsided for much of the run. Now, AFTER the run was a different story. After 15 miles of pounding the pavement, I had a red sore spot on the topside of my foot… and could barely put weight on it. THAT may have been more from my dropped metatarsals/hammer toes/lack of padding on underside more so than the neuroma, though. I have a veritable cornucopia of foot problems, apparently.

If you would have asked me 6 months ago, all I would have been able to tell you about my foot pain is that I had a very odd callous and a bunion. The first doctor I went to a few years ago basically scoffed at me when I explained I wanted my nearly life-long foot pain checked into since I was making it a goal to run a marathon. After a quick glance at it, he told me I needed to file the callous and nothing could be done for the bunion until it causes unbearable pain.

THANKS. For nothing.

I am so grateful I ended up finding a doctor who, WONDER OF WONDERS, actually took an x-ray! What?! What voodoo magic is this “x-ray” you speak of?

So, my new doctor discovered my little friend, Morton, and his “running” buddies (har har) – Hammertoez, DroppedT, NoPHAT, Buni, and Arthur (that’s my little pet names for what collectively adds up to what I like to call… My Funky Foot).

For the confused, that’s Hammer Toes, dropped metatarsals, no fat to pad my foot, bunion, and arthritis. 😉

So, that made for seven of us out there running. I’m not one for social runs… I’m more of the quiet loner. Naproxen usually keeps my annoying little friends at bay, but doesn’t seem to be doing the trick at the moment. I’m thinking I may need to go back to the doc for another round of shots so I can leave Morton and The Funky Five in the dust.

How about you? Do you live and run with foot issues? What do you do to manage it? Have you ever had a doctor scoff at your running goals?

Midnight Mommy Tip #9

Ever have one of those nights when the baby wakes you up for a feeding and you’re so foggy tired, thinking “I don’t know how long I can keep going like this,” only to discover its not the middle of the night, it’s only 9 pm? Yeh, I got nothing. No tips here. Just pray to God that it doesn’t happen two days in a row… Or more!