Cranberry Sauce Waffles

This year I may have gone a bit crazy in my Thanksgiving preparations. Last year we didn't have much leftover besides the turkey. This year, I have leftovers of everything. Even before dinner last night darling daughter told me she was already turkey'd out but once she got her turkey and cranberry sauce, she cleaned her plate with a smile. Thing is, if I keep doing the same over and over my family may revolt...myself included.

I spent the early morning hours dreaming of what I could make for breakfast with leftovers. I had a few ideas but decided upon this....Cranberry Sauce Waffles....as I figured darling daughter might embrace them....if they turned out okay. And yes, she LOVED them! Better than any other waffle I have made. I loved the hint of nutmeg and they are indeed dairy free! Plus, they were so light and fluffy and we joked that I was becoming a waffle master. Dear hubby has yet to sit down and give any of our waffles a try. I don't take it personally...we freeze the leftovers wrapped in wax paper for easy breakfast treats on other days.

But let's delve in and start creating some yumminess!

1 egg
1 cup flour
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup almond milk (mine is vanilla flavored)
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup cranberry sauce (homemade - my recipe is below)

Put all into a mixing bowl. Mix well with a spoon. Put about 1/2 cup into your waffle iron (or whatever your iron holds) and brown to perfection!

Yields approximately 4 waffles. Feel free to double if you have a larger or hungrier family!

The Cranberry Sauce
4 cups cranberries
1 cup blueberries (frozen is okay)
1 1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
Cinnamon to taste...sorry, I just sprinkle a lot
Nutmeg to taste...once again, I just sprinkle away but not as much
Cloves...just a touch

Put all into a large saucepan (I use my pasta pot), bring to a boil, and boil gently until cranberries start popping and the sauce is as thick as you like. Pour into a glass storage container. Cool at room temperature before moving to the refrigerator.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for the 40% off everything sale today at Old Navy.
Daily Affirmation: I am setting a good example for darling daughter by donating food to those who are hungry.


Gratitude: 700 Days and Still Counting

I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving. As much as I was tempted to get online and write a blog post wishing you well, I was more drawn to time with my family, cherishing a holiday, and celebrating a milestone in my life. Yesterday marked day 700 of my running streak. How awesome is it that this milestone fell on Thanksgiving? I ran outside and truly felt thankful for each running step I have taken and will continue to take.

Running every day is what I do and even though sometimes it may drive dear hubby a bit crazy with my "obsession" it is a very real part of me. It is one of my secrets to be a happier, healthier mom and person. My other secret - daily gratitude. And yes, that may drive dear hubby equally crazy as I point out the blessings in our lives.

Running daily takes care of my body and soul. Daily gratitude takes care of my mind and soul. Both are so important to me and I am not saying I don't feel down, overwhelmed, or frustrated but with my two tools in my tool kit, I am better prepared to overcome those feelings and find the joy in life. It works for me. It makes me happy. And I strongly feel it sets a good example for darling daughter who graciously took this picture for me while telling me to smile bigger, no bigger, bigger Mommy! Is that big enough?

Yesterday I refused to not be happy and to not celebrate Thanksgiving. I was determined for the day to not be just another day and I had a bit of an uphill challenge with darling daughter being sick. Fortunately she is on the mend but yesterday she wasn't 100% and I wanted to continue building those wonderful Thanksgiving memories that I hold dear to my heart.

I alway cry hanging this for my Dad
Yesterday I missed my family and Dad tremendously. I would have done anything to be able to untangle Christmas lights or figure out what color the tip on the branches the artificial tree was so we could put it together right. Yes, I grew up with an artificial tree and as I got older, the colors got paler, but it was fun. It was a tradition. I loved it. In fact, I still love it.

And yes, our house got decorated with Christmas cheer and it brought huge smiles to darling daughter's face. She was completely into it and somehow convinced dear hubby that yes, we could decorate. And she got him to fluff our artificial tree some and even put an ornament or two on. Don't get me wrong, he isn't a Scrooge, it is just that it is traditionally the girls that do the decorating in our house.

In terms of feasting, we enjoyed a wonderful turkey dinner, which I aimed to make as healthy as possible. Besides the turkey we had butternut squash roasted with apples, cinnamon, and nutmeg, stuffing made with mushrooms, onion, sausage, potatoes, craisins, sunflower seeds, and homemade chicken broth (okay, that may have been a bit indulgent but I am proud of it), steamed brussels sprouts, homemade cranberry-blueberry sauce, and a cinn-ful apple cake (which dear hubby calls healthy and perhaps healthier than other desserts with all the apples inside but there is still some sugar in there).

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for the warm sun.
Daily Affirmation: My heart is full of love and I have plenty to share.


It's Just a Hill, right?

12 more sleeps until the Honolulu Marathon and that means one major thing to me, it is time to wrap my head around my race plan. My coach gave me an awesome outline of paces to hit. I dream of making a cheat sheet to tuck away but in all reality, I will probably end up just sitting down and really digesting the plan and commiting it to memory.

One thing he did point out were those couple of little hills along the way.

Yep, those hills. I seem to forget about them on this course. Well, not really forget but I don't pay them much mind. They seem so doable in comparison to the Maui Marathon. Check out that profile.

Is one any better or any worse?

Yes, as my coach pointed out and reminded me, there are some steep climbs at the Honolulu Marathon. In all reality, I did have this tucked away in the back of my mind and it is the primary reason I chose to do my long runs upcountry on the hills versus down on more level ground at sea level. I wanted to get my body adjusted to the demands of running up and downhill. Here are the elevation profiles from my last two long runs.

I think I am okay. Yes, the profiles look very different and yes, the Honolulu Marathon hills look steep but I ran them last year. I don't remember death. In fact, the first one I was packed like sardines with other runners and didn't realize I was running up until I was almost to the top. I anticipate the same scenario with congestion slowing my pace and making the uphill climb somewhat aligned with my race plan and me so distracted on where my feet are going that I am not thinking up, up, up. And that final climb, I remember thinking last year that yes, this is the final climb and then it is downhill to the finish. The "end is in sight mentality" should come into place nicely here.

But I am not naive. Running a marathon is just as much mental as physical and there are a lot of elements that are out of my control. I cannot sweat the small stuff. I cannot control Mother Nature in terms of weather, vog, or what she gives me and when....although I can keep my fingers crossed. My plan has a bit of wiggle room with target paces so if Mother Nature does give me a present (darn Aunt Flo) I will just have to manage but once again, I am keeping my fingers crossed. It is just another "hill". I have had some training experience but in those cases, time wasn't as imperative. I typically run without pit stops....typically. I would like to keep it that way if at all possible and seriously gals, sorry guys, I would prefer to do this race without cramps, etc.

I have big goals. I want to achieve them. I have trained very hard and my training started way back in July when I started up'ing things with the Maui Marathon. My training includes the Maui Marathon and the choices I made that day when my dreams slipped away. I had the bigger picture in sight and in just 12 more sleeps I get to see how far my dreams will carry me. I am ready. I am strong. And most importantly, I am cautiously optimistic. I will break a 4:20 marathon.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for my co-worker who starts a daily pot of coffee.
Daily Affirmation: I have what it takes to break a 4:20 marathon even with the hills!


FLEXR Sports Bottle: Product Review

The post is a sponsored post. I received product at no cost from FLEXR Sports to try and review. I am receiving no further compensation for this post. The opinions expressed are solely my own and I did not promise a positive review.

There are a ton of water bottles and hydration vests out on the market and every one is a bit different. When I was contacted to review the FLEXR Sports bottle I did confess that I am a hydration vest loving runner. I can't imagine my longer runs without one these days; however, there are those mid-length runs that don't necessarily require a vest and a bottle may be best. Plus, dear hubby is a bottle carrier and the insides of his bottles can get quite grungy. The idea of a liner that can be changed appealed to me.

The thing is, I am a conservation-focused mommy. Being green is of utmost importance to me. Yes, the liners are biodegradable but still, changing one for every run...is that green? I asked if a liner had to be changed each time and the company assured me, no, they don't. Okay, one plus there. And the more I think about it, wouldn't it be lovely to give dear hubby a clean inside bottle every now and then? This is sounding good to me after all!

I did my test run with the bottle and yes, I liked it. It was easy to drink from and I loved that the nozzle is a sip nozzle and not one you need to open and close to avoid drink splashing out on you. Not only is that annoying it is a waste of precious fuel. When I tested the bottle I felt a bit of sloshing or perhaps just a minimal amount of movement of water in the bottle. It didn't bug me but I figured why not have the main bottle carrier give the bottle a test?

Dear hubby gave it a whirl and said he liked the bottle. His only complaint was that it didn't carry as much sports drink as what he is used to carrying. If it did, he would probably be reaching for it for each and every run versus his old bottle. The thing is we tested the 16 oz bottle. Yes, that is less than 24 oz. The good news, FLEXR Sports has a 21 oz or 28 oz bottle too. All of those too big? No worries, FLEXR Sports has a little 8 oz bottle as well. The bottles range in price from $9.95 to $10.95.

We haven't changed the liner yet and yes, we are cleaning it out and letting it dry between uses. I love that we have the ability to change the liner and will do so soon. I just haven't determined how many uses I want out of one liner. Remember, conservation is important to me. In all reality, if I reach for it next I will change the liner to ensure there is no Gatorade residue aftertaste as I am a VegaSport kind of gal. Oh and those liners, you can buy replacement packs of 25 for $2.95 or $4.95 for the 28 oz bottle.

An added bonus: the bottle comes with a little plug that you can insert into it if you want to go sans liner.

One more added bonus: FLEXR Sports donates 5% of their sales to charities. Currently, they are supporting The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, National Military Family Association, The Nature Conservancy, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Team in Training, and Global Down Syndrome Foundation. How cool is that?!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for the opportunity to try a new sports bottle.
Daily Affirmation: My heart is open to love.


Managing the 4 am Wake-Up Call

Gotta love big, bright moons!
Marathon training takes time and dedication. Working in those long runs and higher mileage weeks while holding down a full-time job and being a Mommy can make it even harder. And I haven't even mentioned squeezing in quality time with dear hubby, errands, or other hobbies in my life. This brings me to the point of my post today.

Waking up early.

That is a key secret to my success of getting my weekly miles in. In all reality, waking up early means I can run on an adjustable treadmill at the gym and nail my workouts better than I would on the set incline treadmill in my house. And yes, on the weekends I strive to do my long runs outside and yes, I wake up early for those too....but not as early.

The benefit is that after my work day is done and over I have more time in my afternoon. I feel a burden fall off my shoulders as I can be there 100% for darling daughter. We have more fun but she does support me when I do need to do a run after work. We still have fun but there is that added weight of one more thing Mommy needs to squeeze into her schedule.

So how do I manage to wake up at 4:00 am? It is hard. It will always be hard. But here are some of my tips for successful early morning wake-up calls.

Be Prepared

Don't give yourself more to do first thing in the morning. The night before I have everything set and ready to go. In fact, I do all my next day preparations before I even start dinner to ensure I get it all done. This includes making lunches for darling daughter and I as well as packing a breakfast in my bag. I also prep my recovery drink by putting the scoop of Vega Sport into my Shaker bottle. I add water after my run at the gym. Yum! Yum!  Plus my gym bag is packed with toiletries (always kept in there), my work clothes, and my running gear. Last thing I do, turn my alarm on. It is set at the same time each and every day 99.9% of the time. I am ready to go!

Have a Routine

My mind is in a fog when I drag myself out of bed so I don't want to think. On autopilot I grab my gym bag, head out of the bedroom, and to the kitchen. I pull out my running clothes, get dressed, and then return to the kitchen to start a cup of coffee. I finish putting my lunch together, which is an easy as putting the lunch bin into the bag with my ice blocks. Everything is kept in the exact same place so I could do this with my eyes closed. I toss a washcloth and my phone in my purse along with my Shaker bottle. Zip. Zip. Zip. The coffee is brewing. I put on my socks and shoes, pour the coffee from the mug to a travel mug, set the mug int the sink (thank you dear hubby for washing it for me every morning), and out the door I go.

Darling daughter did go through a spell when she was waking up before my first toe even touched the ground. I had to add in some time with getting her settled in front of the TV with a bowl of cereal. It took a few more minutes and I am glad that phase is over....I hope for good. She doesn't need to be up that early but it was nice to see her and get some morning love and kisses.

Too early for non-blurry pics!
Early to Bed, Early to Rise

The downside of early wake-up's is that I am tired earlier in the evening. And recently that tired feeling is hitting me even earlier. I blame the increase in weekly mileage. And unfortunately for dear hubby, I listen to my body. When it wants to crash, it is time for bed. Even if it is barely 7:30 pm. That was last night. As much as I wanted to be with him and watch the show I found on Netflix (woo hoo, Netflix streaming actually worked) I couldn't keep my eyes open. I went to bed. I slept well. The best I have in a couple of nights as I was going through a crazy dream spell. And in all reality, going to bed at 7:30 pm only gives me 8.5 hours of sleep. It isn't too crazy.

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

What is my worm? A good run in before work. It makes me feel good to start the day right. I wake up on the treadmill, literally. As I step on you can see me still rubbing sleep out of my eyes but in that run I can reflect on the day or ponder whatever it is that I want to ponder. As my heartbeat increases my body wakes. I get to work feeling good about myself and energized. I feel happy that when I get home I have my run done and know I won't be feeling grouchy because I need that run and time for me. I have taken care of myself right away and now I am better prepared to take care of others. And with how crazy work is right now, it does me some honest goodness to head into work feeling strong and capable!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful I can make sun tea in November.
Daily Affirmation: I am in tune with my body.


20 miles to cautiously optimistic

I have read that a rule of blogging is to never apologize for not blogging. Hmmm....but I must. I am sorry I have been out of sync with my blogging recently. I feel I must tell you I will get back on the ball. The thing is, I have been running. Running hard. Running long. And last week I ran 48 miles. That takes time and the time must come from somewhere. And by not telling you that I feel I am not being honest in my story of juggling life as a running mom.

Just this past Sunday was long run day and my goal was 20 miles. I had another goal to run half of those miles at GMP (goal marathon pace). I had my third goal to hit the halfway mark at GMP...or better yet, 9'40". Sorry coach, but for some reason I feel determined to aim for 9'40" versus 9'50". I have no good reason at all for that. 

The run started out slow and dear hubby was trying so hard to not pull away. Or at least I will give him that credit as he was kind of pulling away here and there. It initially annoyed me since he was saying he didn't know if he could do the 20 miles, I was feeling tight and sluggish, and darnit! I need to do this run according to plan. Geeze oh my! But instead of getting frustrated I closed my eyes (just for a bit since I was running on the side of a highway), centered myself, and told myself to go with the flow and to trust myself. Starting slow is okay. And my first mile was indeed slow. I aimed to pick up my pace just a bit knowing that it would slow again around mile 5 with another long steady climb. I came up with a plan. 5 easy, 5 harder, 5 recovery, 5 do the best you can speedster. Don't all runners plan their running during their run?

Somewhere around the start of mile 6 I needed a pit stop but then I got focused on hitting my goal of reaching my halfway point at GMP...or better. I wasn't there yet. I needed to pick up the pace. I did. Dear hubby didn't. I didn't know what was up but knew he may run a different plan and didn't focus too much on it. He knew where I was going and was in all reality just a bit behind me. I wasn't going to turn back and look. After a few miles my stomach started bugging me terribly and I slowed down some. That helped my stomach and looking at my splits I figure it was the miles close to 8'00" pace that were getting to my tummy. Good to know.

The end to a tooth brushing battle.
The 10th mile was tough. It is on an uneven road with rolling hills and the inclines always feel so darn tough. I felt like a slug especially on some of the inclines. As I approached the turn around I felt even more sluggish and dear hubby was catching up to me. I was dying and as I got closer to the turn I really felt spent and all I could think was "Can I turn yet???? Please!!!"

Score 1: I was dying. Felt like a slug. How is this a score? I just wanted to turn and start my recovery 5 miles on the return. I never doubted I couldn't finish the 20 miles. I just wanted to turn and make the halfway point goal. I did. My phone told me 9'32" was my average pace and I was shocked! Imagine my shock now as I see my pace for that 10th mile when I was dying was 8'42". Yes, I may have slowed down a bit but that is still a stellar mile in my books.

As I made my way back over those rolling hills I didn't care much about pace. I was allowed to run easier now. I love that my easier pace was still rocking it at 8'59". I also love that my easy recovery miles were all below GMP. Yes, I was beginning the return of an uphill climb but the major downhill segments come later in my run. I feel this pace here is a true pace.

When I did hit that downhill segment I resisted the temptation to fly as I liked hearing how my overall pace was remaining pretty steady since the turn. It was ranging between 9'29" and 9'32". For me, that was cool. And I didn't need to race this run. Part of me wanted to finish the 20 miles feeling good. My hamstrings and glutes felt a bit tight here and there and I focused on relaxing those muscles during my run. Let go of the tension. Relax. Run. I can't say how successful I was at it but it seemed to work okay.

In the final two miles I decided it was okay to pick up the pace. At one point I told dear hubby that if he wanted to go ahead, go ahead. He did. I didn't race him. It didn't bug me that he was leaving me behind becasue 1) He is a much faster runner than I am. He is. His marathons take about an hour less than mine. Why would I set myself up for failure even if he says he feels he can't do a run? 2) I was setting my own personal record for a 20 mile run.

I am very happy about this run and I can't stop being very happy. 20 miles in 3:04:04. My overall average pace was 9'13". To reach my big dream come race day I would have about 1 hour and 15 minutes to run the final 6.2 miles. Sounds completely doable, right?

As I enter taper I am feeling pretty confident but cautiously confident. I know a marathon is a big race and I don't want to be overly confident but right now I am feeling better about my training for this marathon than any other one.

If you like the data portion of runs check out the elevation/pace profile and splits for my 20 miles.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for my coach.
Daily Affirmation: I am getting stronger each and every day.


Treadmill Blues

I am just like anyone else in the fact that somedays the prospect of a run on a treadmill can get me down and feeling blue. After all, how exciting can it be running in place getting no one at all? Don't we all just want to run outside?

So far this week the treadmill has been trying to get the best of me. It has been trying to knock me off schedule and get me down. Well, Monday wasn't too hard. Just a mile. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. It is easy to do a mile with the wonderful idea of stretching and rolling afterwards. It is the longer runs that can bring out the blues. Like 8 miles with intervals tucked in.

That was Tuesday. Intervals. As much as I felt I didn't want to run the darn intervals and spend 8 miles on the treadmill, I knew deep down inside I really did want to run the 8 miles and have the joy of doing so before work. That is a good feeling. Mission accomplished but I did have to cut the 1 mile warm up to a 0.5 mile warm up to get to the meat of the run earlier in order to move past the blues. I was very fortunate that in the final 3 miles after all my intervals were done that good tunes kept popping up on my play list to keep me entertained. I had a blast! And to think before I started I felt blue and not into it. You see? What you feel isn't always what you really, truly feel or want.

Wednesday. Hump day. 6 miles day. I had the added push that I had a long work day and plans after work to force myself out of bed dark and early to hit the treadmill before work for 6 easy miles. Oh man, this is going to suck is how I felt. 6 easy miles in place?! Once I got on the treadmill I had to do something to get the fun factor building up....or at least quiet the boredom factor. And then the proverbial light bulb went off. I had written an entire post on Conquering Boredom on the Treadmill. I have a whole page devoted to TM Running. You would think with that much blogging focus when the blues hit me I could overcome it. I was motivated and determined to turn this trend around. Hello game play! Hello a new TM Running Workout to be introduced to the world! Okay, it probably isn't all that new. I have done it many times. I am sure you may have too but still, here it is in all its glory!

I ended up doing this workout for about 2-2.5 miles of my treadmill run and then I was fully in my happy running mode and didn't need to play along anymore. It is a great techique to get your mind off of what is bringing you down as you are focused on the songs and doing a certain pace for the duration of the song. I make it a rule that once the song as started and my pace selected, I can't change it. And I draw on my faith that the song that pops up next perfectly represents the pace I should be running at that time. You can make this as easy or as hard as you want it. For an easy run, I set my pace range within my easy range. However, if your goals are bigger and you need more intensity one day, just make the upper ranges higher and really push yourself. Most importantly, be safe and have fun!

How about today? The blues are still trying to get the best of me as I have a treadmill run at home after work waiting for me. But I will have fun....one way or another!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful that my work computer can print again. Woo-hoo!
Daily Affirmation: I am kind.


Time to put my #bestfoot forward! Join me!

I have been meaning to tell you about this for quite awhile but it just kept slipping to the wayside. In all reality, I am blogging less as I put more hours into sleeping and crafting some holiday gifts. Those are two great elements to build upon to be a better me but today I am talking about something different.

The Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge at Run to the Finish or just HBBC. You may have heard about this before or perhaps not. It was all new to me in 2011, the first year I joined in. That was one of the best decisions I made in my life. I got to get to know some wonderful ladies a bit more and some I can lovingly refer to as friends today. In 2011, I was a new blogger with only 9 months of blogging behind me. A virtual support group seemed uncertain but enticing. It was more than I ever imagined and went beyond friendly competition.

Last year my goals were different but the challenge was still a perfect fit. Amanda made changes last year that converted counting miles to counting minutes. I loved that change as it leveled the playing field but don't get scared, competition isn't the primary focus. The focus is support and striving to incorporate healthy changes in your life. One change at a time is usually a good way to go since it is easier to stick to and to adopt. Last year I wanted to round out my fitness routine to go beyond running. I did. Some of those elements I added in have slipped away so it is time to refocus. The perfect time to join in again.

You may often hear me saying nothing is one size fits all. And that is true. We are all different. But the HBBC does fit us all due to the way Amanda designed it. There are different activity levels so you can pick the category that fits you right now. There are also different levels of participation: HBBC, Clean and Lean (HBBC plus a clean eating element), and Complete Plan (Clean and Lean plus an 8 week training plan). I selected the Clean and Lean. I really do want to incorporate cleaning eating into my family meal plan but juggling a full time job, marathon training, mommy duties, wife/hubby time, etc. can make it really hard. Amanda may just have some tricks up her sleeve, or perhaps her experts, to make clean eating easier to do on a tight schedule and limited budget. I can't wait to find out!

Last year I mentioned I joined in on HBBC to be motivated. Amanda questioned whether I needed motivation since I was running daily, and still am by the way. Today is day 684 of my running streak. Perhaps motivation isn't the right word. Inspiration. That is a better word. The ladies that get involved in this are inspiring. Amanda inspires me. I loved checking in daily and seeing how our HBBC group was doing not only to say where I was and what I was up to but to hear what hurdles you are overcoming. It is awesome! And you know ladies love to chat and runners LOVE to talk running!

Yes, there is a cost to join in but as Amanda points out, it is less than a gym membership. And it is worth giving up a purchased indulgence here and there if necessary. Amanda works her butt off organizing and managing this. She has secured over $3,000 in prizes and I can state from personal experience that takes time and effort. I do it in my full time job - ask for donations to a great cause for door prizes, etc. It is hard. You get alot of no's or perhaps no replies for each yes. And she cares about you. Her forms even allow you to input if you have any special dietary restrictions. She cares. She will not be giving whey protein to a lady on a no dairy diet - I have faith in that.

I care about you too.
I can't wait until this challenge begins! It runs from November 17-January 5. What are you waiting for? Why not join me today? And if you do, can you please let Amanda know I sent you her way. Thanks a bunch.

And no, I wasn't paid to write this post. No bribery was involved either. I am writing this because I truly believe in this challenge and enjoy being a part of it. This is my third year for going back for more. That should tell you something!

Have a beautiful day!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful that Amanda is still hosting HBBC.
Daily Affirmation: My honesty makes me a beautiful woman.



The countdown continues.....29 days until the Honolulu Marathon.

Emotions can start getting crazy at this point in marathon training and let's not even touch on what can happen emotionally during taper. Right now I want to focus on the now and isn't that a good strategy for many aspects of life? Why worry too much about tomorrow? You are not there yet. Why worry about yesterday? It is gone. But that is so much easier said than done and this is where FAITH comes into play.

FAITH: confidence or trust in a person or thing

FAITH. Something I hold dear to my heart even if I may lose sight of my faith from time to time.

There is no point to discuss the myriad of ways one can lose faith. What is important today is to recognize that faith is instrumental in our lives on many different levels. I am in the rough patch of my training. Those couple of weeks before taper where I feel higher levels of stress. The "this is it" phase. There are no second chances right now. Typically, I may fall off of my training during this phase as I feel that race day is so close and what I do makes no real difference at all. Essentially, I lose faith.

I was mentioning to a co-worker the other day that this is the time where I may actually dread a run but don't get me wrong, my dread isn't anything like real dread. I want to run. I am happy to get dressed and ready to go so I am not sure if dread is the right word. It is more of me losing faith that the run I do today will bring me closer to my goals so I feel a bit less confident, less motivated, less optimistic, lost. But what I do today does matter. Every day matters. There is not one run that a runner runs that doesn't matter, no matter how short, slow, or crazy. It all matters.

How it matters to you is a point that can be debated. But for me, it is another day of my running streak, another day of taking some time to take care of me, another day to get my juices flowing to clean out the toxins and stressors in my body, another day to reconnect with my spirituality, another day to set a good example for darling daughter, another day to have fun. Although I would be lying to say all runs are equally fun. Some suck but those sucky runs can feel really awesome afterwards, can't they?

FAITH. I need to hold onto my faith not just in running but in all aspects of my life. It is what keeps me centered and grounded on what really is important in life. I want to break a 4:20 marathon. I have faith I will. I am working on having the same faith that I will come December 8th. That faith is slowly blooming and I need to water it, nurture it, and take care of it. I need that faith come race day. I want that faith come race day.

I was watching a Food Network show last night with darling daughter. Chopped. One participant stated he promised his kids he would win. This brought up a teachable moment. I turned to darling daughter and said, it isn't good to make promises like that. I can't promise you I will have a certain time at my marathon but I can promise you I will do my best. She agreed. A promise to do your best is a better promise. The contestant - he got chopped in the second round and I can imagine his heart was heavy as he would have to relay that information to his kids.

I am a woman of promises. I have faith in promises. When I promise something, I mean it. And come December 8th I promise to run my best. I promise to pace myself as best as I can. I promise to slow myself down if I start out too fast. I promise to fuel smart and wisely according to my plan. I promise to not try anything new. I promise to take my salt tabs. I promise to do everything in my power to stay connected to my faith and my spirituality. I have faith that I will break a 4:20 marathon. I have faith it will happen exactly when it is suppose to. As much as I want to taste that victory in 2013, I have faith in forces beyond me and know there is meaning in all aspects of my life. I have FAITH.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for a functional computer at work.
Daily Affirmation: My faith and spirituality makes me stronger and happier.


Running Races on Maui

If you are anything like me, when I am going somewhere on vacation I am always interested in what the local races are and if any race will fall nicely into my schedule. Granted, I don't go anywhere very often. My last trip was to visit family in Texas. I searched and searched for local races only to go to my sister and say, hey, any running races going on? There was one 5k. I ended up not doing it. But that is besides the point.

Perhaps you even live on Maui and are still wondering what is on the race calendar and where to look. I am happy to say there are two good places to go these days so let me help you find a race to motivate you!

First, you can check out the Valley Isle Road Runners (VIRR). VIRR is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1970 and has a good member base. There is a list of upcoming events on this site that go beyond just running to include swimming or multi-sport events. Currently, the list of upcoming races is short but don't worry. It gets updated and then you will really be able to plan ahead!

Second, you can check out Maui Running. Maui Running is a locally owned event management company and the owner is doing a great job getting the calendar of upcoming events up and posted, with registration links when provided.

The races posted on these sites may overlap but that is perfectly fine and dandy. It helps get the word out and it gives you a couple of places to check. These sites both focus on races on Maui but there are some wonderful races throughout the Hawaiian Islands. You can read about some of my favorite Hawaii races HERE. However, since I wrote that race review the Wahine Half Marathon has left Hawaii. To replace that suggestion, I would strongly recommend the Honolulu Marathon in December.

Where is a good place to look for races in your community (provide the link with your comments) and tell me about your favorite local race!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for runners love to share information!
Daily Affirmation: My heart is open to love.


Product Review: Clif Bar Seasonal Flavors

This is a sponsored post. I received three seasonal flavored bars from Clif Bar to try and review. I am receiving no further compensation for this post. The opinions expressed are solely my own and I did not promise a favorable review.

I do not turn to bars on a regular basis. I prefer making my own snacks and meals but in reality, sometimes a running mom just needs to grab something on the go that is quick and easy. I was happy to hear that Clif Bar makes some dairy free bars. Now there is a note on the package that it may contain traces of milk so if you have a true allergy, you are warned.

I received the bars in October and with the end of year holidays just around the corner the flavors were indeed seasonal: Iced Gingerbread, Spiced Pumpkin Pie, and Pecan Pie. I was excited to give them a try even though I am not a pie lover. I think it is the crust that I am not 100% keen on but still, the flavors sounded wonderful!

I started my adventure with the Spiced Pumpkin Pie. Pumpkin pie may be one my least favorite things in the world. I love pumpkin. I really don't like pumpkin pie. I don't see how dear hubby can love it so much. I made it once since darling daughter asked and she seems to share my same feelings - the idea of pumpkin pie is delightful, the reality, not so much. She asked me to never make it again. With that said, I loved the Spiced Pumpkin Pie bar! It was delicious! If you are looking for real pumpkin pie flavor obviously you won't find it since I don't like pumpkin pie and I love this bar! Just saying....

Next I moved on to Pecan Pie. Now that would be a good pie! I may avoid the crust but ooey gooey pecan wonderfulness is hard to resist! Who could ask for more? Will I eat a piece? Probably not. Way to ooey gooey to do my body again good. The Clif Bar - I loved! Not as ooey gooey but I am sure it doesn't pack on as many empty calories either. I would love to give you the exact calories but the package is long gone. The Iced Gingerbread has 250 calories. I would imagine the others would be about the same.

And now my confession, I haven't tried the Iced Gingerbread yet but I know I will love it! I am saving it just a bit longer as these are treats or emergency snacking meals for me. And I am only calling them snacking meals since 250 calories is a bigger snack for me.

I am so thankful for this opportunity and I am happy to know there are some yummy bars I can grab in a bind that don't contain dairy. Thank you Clif Bar!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for the blessings in my life.
Daily Affirmation: I have the power to step up to the plate and make a difference.


A Change in Perspective

Weekends are for long runs and recently, my long runs have been an interesting twist of fate. I have had my goals, went out to run my plan, and ended up running a completely different run. A 16 mile run that blew my socks off and an 18 mile run that seemed so tough but yet was just fine were behind me. This weekend I had 16 miles to do. I wasn't sure if I was ready although I knew I should be.

My weekend running started with just a mile on Saturday and as much as I love to run more, I am determined to stick to the plan as much as I can. I then envisioned a wonderful day with darling daughter but I was still feeling a bit grumpy. The run didn't create a cleansing sweat so we decided to find a way out of the grouchiness one way or another. First, let's backtrack a moment. Before my run I stood and looked around our home and pondered the idea of a real dresser for me and moving my cubbies to the living room to create a prettier library for darling daughter. I mentioned this to her with a quick addition of "Oh, forget it. We are good. I don't need to spend money on that." And I ran....one mile.

And then the idea struck that we should just go check out a garage sale and see if we could find the one dear hubby told us about. Some friends were having a big sale. We headed out not sure exactly where we were going but knew the general vicinity. Score! The first sale we saw was theirs. And they had a chifferobe in a box! Now I really had no idea what a chifferobe was but the picture painted a thousand words and after much reflection, we got it. It had never been opened. Two guys moved it into my car and then we immediately brought it home. Getting it out of the car was a challenge. A step by step, piece by piece struggle. And that was just the start. It took me 2.5 hours to put that thing together and fortunately I decided to move it from the living room to the bedroom before putting the drawers in. I still felt like I was moving an elephant but it was worth it. And score 2 was I didn't have to move my medals!

By 3:00 pm I was beat and wondering how on Earth I was going to run 16 miles the next day. I had worked hard - not what I had in mind before a long run.

Come Sunday morning I didn't want to run. I knew I needed to. I knew I would be mad at myself for not doing it. But I felt sick to my stomach (think it was pre-run nerves) and slowly dragged myself out into the frigid air. Okay, just 73 degrees but it felt frigid. P.S. By the end of my run the temperature was 75 degrees. 

It took me a good three miles to feel like my body was warming up both internally and externally, although the air still felt cool. I thought of those who really have cold running conditions and pondered how they did it. Okay, I am sure they put more on then a running skirt and bra top but you get the picture. I also questioned if doing all these "cooler" runs on hills will adequately prepare me for the Honolulu Marathon. Did I need to go down and run the warmer flats? I also tried to ease up my pace with the ever present plan to average a 10'00" pace for the first half and then up the pace for the second half.

I know I need to start my marathon race slower and I am trying hard to achieve this in training. To start slow. The initial downhills work against me and trust me, that long up climb at mile 3 helped slow me down but still, I was feeling unsure. I still wasn't running happy. I told myself keep moving forward. No turning early. Just keep running.

Around mile 5 something happened. First, I heard by average pace, I think it was something around 9'51", and I had a new plan. Wouldn't my training be more effective if I could hold my GMP (goal marathon pace) on the harder part of my route? Wouldn't I be better prepared to run well on race day if I averaged 9'50" on the uphill climbs? How effective is it to run faster the second half when that has some downhills even if I am trying to go faster than GMP?

I picked up the pace. I had a new plan for my long runs. My coach wants me running half of my long run at GMP so I want to do those miles first on the harder part. Then I want to see how strong I can remain on the second half when I am getting tired. Isn't that better training? Getting used to run on tired legs while sustaining a solid pace? Yes, I have downhills helping me here and there but still, won't that be good training?

At the halfway point my average pace was 9'21". That I am sure of. I mentally noted that I wanted to commit the pace to memory. I told myself at the halfway point I could take a nice recovery mile before tackling the rest of my run. During this recovery mile I took a salt tab and applesauce. Don't worry, I took a gel at miles 4 and 12 too. And I love that my recovery mile pace was 9'28" since it wasn't on a downhill stretch AND it is below my GMP. And yes, I picked up the pace as my run continued and yes, I did slow down on the uphill stretches and fly some on the good downhill stretches. I am very happy to say my overall pace was 9'06". I managed to still pull off negative splits and put in some hard work in the middle of my run. I am a very happy camper! My doubts may slowly begin to slip away.....maybe.

I finished my run with a slow 0.7 mile walk uphill home and loved the opportunity to take some pictures of Maui to share. Hope you enjoyed them!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful darling daughter enjoyed watching the NY marathon as much as I did.
Daily Affirmation: I balance the important things in my life with grace.


October in Review

With a blink of an eye we have gone from celebrating Halloween to preparing for Thanksgiving....if
we forget the fact that I am in the heart of marathon training with the big goal to break a 4:20 marathon. I will achieve my goals! I can do this. I will do this. This is what I repeat to myself on an almost daily basis. Perseverance pays off!

With all that said and done, how on Earth was my October?

Amazing, invigorating, exhausting, doubt inducing, busy. That pretty much sums it up. Ironically, if you go back and see what was going on in my mind last October some of those feelings were there too. In particular, the doubts.

I haven't talked much about doubts recently on my blog but they are there. Aren't they always lurking in the background trying to peek its nasty head out to attack us when we least expect it? I think the never ending doubts are a natural component to running. As a runner, we just need to learn to push them to the side. One way was me not talking about them this month. Giving them no voice. I am only bringing them up now since I saw I was plagued with them last October as well. It seems a natural occurrence in this phase of my training cycle. The approximate midway point between the Maui Marathon and the Honolulu Marathon. The point where I need to stay focused, strong, confident, healthy, and happy.

And yes, I am striving to achieve all those things. I am reminding myself to smile during my runs and to have fun. Running is fun. I choose to do it because I love it so why not have fun while training hard? And I have been pushing myself. I have been working with a coach throughout October and I am sticking to the plan better than ever. Yes, I juggle days here and there but I haven't not nailed a run yet. And I plan to stick to it to the end.

Marathon Training 2012 vs. 2013

Doubts sunk in on how I was in my training this year compared to last year. Last year I set my marathon PR at the Honolulu Marathon. This year I don't want to just PR I want to achieve bigger goals. I feel I am on the right path. I am trying not to be over confident but realize I need that confidence to stick to my plan when things get tough. To dig deep and find that inner strength that may be covered up with doubt and needs a good dusting off to shine. To believe in myself after not PR'ing in September.

So yes, my October review is a pep talk to myself and anyone else who needs it. I ran 149 miles this October. October 31st marked day 672 of my running streak and brought 2013 up to 1,492 miles (oh that ocean blue). It also brought me to 2,960 streak miles.

What does November hold for me?

More training hard and three more long runs to further build my strength and confidence. I have 16 miles, 18 miles, and 20 miles on the plan. I plan to nail them. Fingers crossed and determination packed! I will probably still be trying to squeeze in a few more zzz's because lets face it, I am tired and my body needs sleep to recover and stay healthy. I am joining in on the HBBC with Run to the Finish and am stoked to do this again this year. I will be writing more about that soon but trust me, it is awesome. Join me and tell Amanda I sent you over!

And I will be running every day because it makes me happy.

Here's to a great November!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for my running coach.
Daily Affirmation: I will break a 4:20 marathon.