Friday Five

I’m feeling mighty perky over here! It might be the Frappuccino I just drank or the fact that I’m only one week away from a two-week long fall break. (It is taking all my power to not brag about fall break incessantly, but I’m resisting.) Regardless, it’s all smiles and tail wags over here at Case de Army Amy these days. With that, five things on my mind lately:

1. I really, really love chips.

los cheeeps

I love them so much that I put “chips” on my grocery list twice and with only a few items in between. Apparently my subconscious was deeply concerned about me getting those chips. Rest assured, chips were gotten, chips were eaten.

2. Barnes and Noble gave me a free book. Did this happen to everybody else or just me? Randomly a book that I did not order (The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau) was delivered to my front door with my name on it. The receipt has no price and simply says, ” We hope you enjoy Chris’s new book. After you’ve read it, please take a moment to leave a review at…” Does this mean I’ve been accepted into some secret free book club or something? I’m confused but I’m also really happy because, free book!

3. Dillard’s thinks I should buy a yellow romper.

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Ever since opting to get my receipt e-mailed to me, I get periodic suggestions like this via e-mail. Dillard’s, however, did not mention where I might wear a yellow romper. I think that’s because the answer is nowhere.

4. It’s my almost big brother’s second wedding anniversary!

Ste and Me at the wedding!

Ste and Me at the wedding!

I’ve loved my sister-in-law since I first met her, and I’m overjoyed that she and my brother are still happily married. (Not that I thought they wouldn’t be, but I’m just generally happy that they are in love.) That weekend also turned out to be the last time we saw Ben healthy before he passed away. Such good memories.

5. In other family-related news, my mom is coming to visit next week! I’m over the moon about giving her a true taste of El Paso. I already have a ton of stuff on our EP To Do List, and I’m sure it will only grow and grow. I need some serious Mom time. Fingers crossed that the weather cooperates. (It’s been rainy as all get out lately!) Bonus, this is the last big thing on my “things to look forward to before Stephen comes home” list. Eeep!

Three cheers for Friday, y’all!

German American Oktoberfest Night Run Race Recap

How’s that for a mouthful of a race name? Well, it is exactly as the name promises – an 8k and 5k hosted by Fort Bliss and the German Air Force Air Defense Center that takes place in the evening. Eager to check off a new race distance, I signed up for the 8k a while back and marked it as a step back week on my training calendar. The forecast called for buckets of rain, but instead, Saturday afternoon was sunny skies and cool temperatures.

Hey, Finish Line! I'll BRB. Just gotta go run 8k.

Hey, Finish Line! I’ll BRB. Just gotta go run 8k.

I couldn’t stop myself from obnoxiously commenting over and over again how we lucked out with the weather. (Have I mentioned yet how over the summer heat I am? Haha!) Per-Amy style, I showed up way too early and spent nearly an hour pacing around the race site feeling anxious. Eventually, my Wear Blue buddies started to show up. We gathered together briefly, took a few pictures, then squeezed into the start line with over 500 fellow runners.

My partner in crime – Julie! – wasn’t there, but another Wear Blue friend – Jennifer! – said she’d run with me. Less than ten minutes before the race was to start, she asked me what the plan was. Ummm. I had no plan! She suggested aiming for 9:00 minute miles. I agreed, glad that she was taking the reigns. At last, the starting gun went off and we all jostled our way through the starting chute.

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Mile 1: 8:52

Jennifer and I have run together a few times before, but I know she’s a lot faster than I am. (She did a fast 6 miles at Wear Blue one week, and I’m pretty sure her legs were a blur the entire time a la Road Runner and Coyote.) I, on the other hand, have been finding my weekly runs to be difficult and tend to drag later in the day. Instead of my usual chattiness during running, I kept my mouth shut. I needed all my energy to go to running and breathing – not talking! I probably overcompensated a little that first mile by going a tad faster than planned.

Mile 2: 9:03

The first two miles of the course run through Main Post and along the tree-lined street where the biggest of big wigs live. It’s one of my favorite places to run in all of El Paso. Green grass, beautiful homes, the Franklin Mountains close by – what’s not to love? Plus, we had that fabulous weather that I can’t stop raving about.

1.5 miles in, near the 5k turnaround, a lederhosen-clad group of tuba players provided entertainment for everyone. I’ve been to races that have live music but never tuba players! It made me feel a tad wistful for our days in Germany.

The tuba troup playing on stage before the race. My race pictures of them came out blurry.

The tuba troupe playing on stage before the race. My race pictures of them came out blurry.

Mile 3: 9:03

The entire race I had worried that I’d burn out, but I think the 9:00 miles were just right. By the halfway point, I had settled into a steady rhythm. Even stopping at a water station didn’t mess with our pacing. The further into the race we went, the more energized I felt. (Ahh, see, that right there tells me that I’m more of a long distance type girl.)

Just beyond the halfway point, we managed to catch up to one of the guys in our Wear Blue group who had passed us early on in the race. Apparently he had slowed down to make a pit stop and was having tummy trouble. I enjoyed getting to talk to him during the race (he’d usually be way ahead of us!). He took the rest of the run easy and we took off!

Mile 4: 8:58

We merged with the 5kers during this mile as we all headed to the finish on the same stretch of road. That kept things interesting as we worked to maintain our speed. There was plenty of zig-zagging to avoid other runners, walkers, and the uneven footing. But it also made for excellent people watching. Jennifer would point out to me, “Look at that kid! Look at those people!” She also waved to spectators and thanked volunteers – a kindred spirit!

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Here we come! Looking good, feeling good!

last .92: 8:28 pace

I heard some fellow runners say during this portion, “There’s only 2k left! Let’s do this!” They weren’t talking to me, but I took it upon myself to follow their lead. I pushed myself to go hard. The end was near, and I wanted a strong finish time. In the last stretch, we managed to catch another Wear Blue guy and pass him in the sprint to the finish. (In all fairness, he was pushing a double stroller into a headwind. Still, we totally passed him, and I’m totally bragging about it.) Jennifer surged ahead in the final few meters, and I followed close behind.

My stats:

  • 4.92 mile finish time: 43:47
  • Average pace: 8:53

Jennifer asked me afterwards if I’d do the race again. Absolutely! I loved the course, the weather, the energy, the distance, all of it! I had so much fun, and I wouldn’t change anything about it. Hopefully next year Stephen and I can run the race together and join in the German merriment afterwards.

The view of the mountains post-race. Doesn't get much better than this!

The view of the mountains post-race. Doesn’t get much better than this!

Next race on the docket: my first El Paso repeat race! I’ll be once again tackling the McKelligon Canyon Challenge, a very hilly 5k, with a goal of beating last year’s time.

In My Lunchbox

One of the joys of going back to work is packing my lunch.

My lunch bag! It's from Thirty-One.

My lunch bag! It’s from Thirty-One.

Sarcasm! I actually hate packing my lunch. Even though it’s a delicious meal that I look forward to all morning, the act of putting all those foods into my lunch bag the night before feels like such a burden. (I realize this makes me sound like a huge baby; I’m okay with that.) To add another layer to the lunch time saga, my school is peanut aware, meaning nobody can bring peanut anything in. PB&J has been an Amy staple for decades. Decades! So I’ve had to get creative.

Let’s take alooksee inside:

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Maybe it doesn’t look too thrilling to the untrained eye, but there are so many goodies in there! The star of which is the…well..wich!

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One of my coworkers brings a deconstructed sandwich (aka fixings in bags), and I started copying him. It’s been a big step up for me. In separate baggies/containers, I pack:

  • Bread (sandwich thins in this case)
  • lettuce/spinach
  • cucumber slices
  • cherry tomato slices
  • hummus
  • cheese

I assemble everything on site to keep it from getting soggy. Voila! (Genius, I tell you!) And this combo is filling enough to keep me going all afternoon. Janelle very kindly passed long this recipe to me (chickpea/avocado combo), which I very much like. The hummus sandwich is (not surprisingly) tasty and (suprisingly) filling, but I like having options. I also occasionally swap out the sandwich for a salad. (I use a container from Wal-Mart that has a salad dressing container and fork that snap into the lid.)

For my sides, because a girl needs sides!, I always pack an apple and some kind of salty snack (pretzels, cheese-its, that sort of thing). I’ve recently gotten into a kick of ‘making’ my own trail mix.

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‘Making’ is used loosely because it is really just me mixing up dried cranberries, granola, and seeds. Perfect for afternoon snacking when I just need a handful of something to tide me over through the end of tutoring.

I’ve yet to try any of these, but I saw this article in Parents Magazine when Mary Beth was visiting. Most of the ideas don’t have nuts (huzzah!) and are already or could be easily made vegetarian (double huzzah!).

What are y’all lunching on these days? Anything non-nutty and non-meaty that you’d suggest? I’m all ears!

The Truth About Deployment

As my husband’s second deployment inches toward a conclusion, I’ve been reflecting a lot on how I feel about war, being an Army spouse, the civilian/military chasm, and so much more. I taken this jumble of thoughts and put it into a loverly list format for ya. These are my opinions and mine alone. If you want the truth about deployment from a soldier’s point-of-view, well, I guess we can beg Stephen to write a guest post. Otherwise, you have to look elsewhere. I’d also add that these feelings are, in some cases, much different than how I felt during the first deployment. Now that disclaimers have been disclaimed; lets get to the list:

I don’t know any more or less about war than I did in 2010 (life pre-Army). It’s interesting that people will sometimes ask me when the war will be over or why we are fighting it in the first place. As a lowly Army wife, I’m not privy to any more information than the average citizen, nor do I have any more wisdom. I’m not sure why we are fighting, I’m not sure how much longer we’ll be fighting. I’m tired of war, but I also know that my husband enjoys his role defending our country and doesn’t want those opportunities to end. I guess, war and I would be in an “it’s complicated” relationship on Facebook.

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You can never be fully prepared for this experience. Deployment is a lot of holding your breath. Even with all the advice, support, and experience, each deployment is different and presents its own challenges. People love to say, “you knew what you were signing up for.” I don’t find that too helpful, nor do I consider it to be true. How could I possibly have known that we’d end up with two deployments (and two moves!) in less than four years?

I don’t begrudge people who miss their spouses after only a few days. I’m no stranger to comparisons of deployment to spouses who travel for work or people complaining about how lonely they are while their honey takes a three day trip. But it doesn’t make me mad- I feel the same way! When Stephen is in the field for a week or a month, I miss him. Your lover doesn’t have to be gone for months at a time for you to be entitled to feelings of loneliness. I also like that it’s something we can commiserate on. Deployment can be alienating enough as it is; it’s nice feeling like everyone else, lamenting the fact that our dudes are gone (for however long), and eating ice cream straight out of the carton.

Sometimes deployment isn’t that bad. There are days when my life feels utterly normal, especially now that I’ve returned to teaching. If I close my eyes, 2014 feels a lot like 2010. I do the same tasks I always did, I watch the same shows, Stephen shoots me a message or two, and life carries on like nothing has changed.

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Sometimes deployment is so much worse than I could have ever imagined. I occasionally feel sad, really sad, which is hard. Those episodes seem to pass pretty quickly these days, though. What’s harder is when I feel scared. My chest tightens, I’ll get a random inkling, and I become paralyzed. Someone says something in passing that I take some kind of sign or premonition. Stephen doesn’t get in touch for far longer than usual. I hear a car outside and my gut tells me it’s someone coming to notify me. I wonder if the hugs we exchanged on the parade field back in February will be our last. I’ve seen how life can change in an instant, and some days I’m unable to steer my thoughts elsewhere.

Skype kind of sucks. I know, I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth or whatever. We’re living in the future. Millions of military spouses of yonder years would have killed for Skype. Etc. etc. etc. True. And yet. Skype doesn’t make everything better. It’s fantastic seeing my husband’s face and hearing his voice, but I also deal with having to call him back 10 times in a 2 hour conversation. (Not an exaggeration.) I’ve dealt with Stephen looking like a blob, not being visible at all, being impossible to hear. There was the time that I could see him but not hear him, and he could hear me but not see me. Often times, it’s just disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take it, but it just isn’t as glamorous as it seems on TV.

astan

Deployment helps me realize how good my life is. And not just in the “it will be good when he comes home” kind of way. In the “all the time, every day, things are really okay” kind of way. I have my health, my dog, an amazing job, sweet friends, an awesome family, and a husband who is one day closer to coming home. I really can’t complain.

Flying Horse Half Training

With the 10 Miler in the Heat firmly behind me, I’ve got my eyes on the next big race: The Flying Horse Half Marathon.

flying horse

According to the website the race:

Flying Horse Half is a 13.1-mile road race that begins and ends at Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino.  The run takes athletes on a flat course in the Upper Valley area of El Paso.  Half marathoners will run the final mile on a racetrack, where they’ll be captured on live video. The 5k Run offers an abbreviated course.

Fellow EP bloggers Jen and Farrah have both run this race before and have only good things to say about it. Not that you ever really have to twist my arm to sign up for a race anyway, but the combo of their praise and the race description (flat!) had me eager to sign up. When it came up in conversation with battle buddy/running partner Julie, she was interested, too. (In fact, I think it might have been her idea! I can’t remember!) Looks like we’ll both be lining up on the track on October 25th!

We decided to stick with Run Less, Run Faster for our training with an ambitious time goal of 2:05. I did a half at the beginning of November last year and finished in about that. After all the running I’ve done this summer, 2:05 seems achievable, but it will take work. Here’s the plan:

flying horse training

Can you read my chicken scratch? (I feel it is necessary to quote Steel Magnolias here: “You’ve got the handwritin’ of a serial killa!”) Click on the picture to see it larger.

Like all RLRF plans, the training is made up of interval runs, tempo runs, and long runs. You’re also supposed to do cross training twice a week.

I can already tell you that I’ve deviated from the plan! See above where I said 2:05 is achievable. I stand by that. I just don’t know if I want to put in the work. I actually really enjoy speed work. The issue is really more one of finding balance in my life. Speed work is less fun when it’s 100 degrees outside and I’m at the end of a long workday. So far I’ve had one awesome speed work sesh, one lack luster session that I cut in half, and two that I skipped completely. We are also taking the long runs slower than prescribed. Deviation!

My thought process is that I love running, I want to keep loving running, and therefore I shouldn’t do things that make me not love running. My new *modified* plan is to do one speed work session each week (alternating a tempo run and an interval run), one easy run, and keep the long runs as they are. That will take the pressure off. Hopefully it will also help me get out the door in my running shoes instead of quitting my runs or skipping them all together.

This modification also means that 2:05 might not happen. I’m at peace with that. I’ve had so many mighty fast races in my day. And who knows, maybe with the flat course and cooler weather, I can still put up a good time. For now, the focus is on running happy. I’ll be checking in weekly-ish with updates on how things are panning out.

Here’s to a great training cycle!

Friday Five

If I can come up with five things to discuss, I’ll be pretty impressed with myself. That should give you an idea of how my week went. (Short weeks are hard!)

1. Badass ladies: I’ve turned into a Ruth Bader Ginsburg fangirl after listening to this podcast. Regardless of politics, I’ve got to salute anyone who goes up against hardcore odds like she did. (Despite graduating top of her law class while being a parent and helping her husband through cancer, she couldn’t get hired because of her gender. For shame!) Another (albeit smaller scale) badass lady high five goes to the late Joan Rivers. Love her or hate her, she did it her way. Props.

Feel free to send a size small directly to my house. Thanks.

Feel free to send a size small directly to my house. Thanks.

2. Getting sweaty: Yoga was amazing this week! I almost didn’t go because I had to be at work late, but I hauled my butt to the gym. (Subsequently, much butt work was done in class.) I’m so glad I went, my body is glad, my heart is glad. Buuuuut my running has sucked this week. Sigh. I get one on fitness area on lock down and the other comes undone. This happens to everyone, right?

3. Chilly: We finally, finally have cold weather in the forecast.

weather

I don’t even care that it is accompanied by rain. Bring it on! I’m just sick of triple digits. I must have been in the desert too long because I’m finding that I can tell a difference between 90* and 100*. That’s a skill I never wanted! Drench me in 65* weather! Do you know how long it’s been since the temperature started with a 6?! Too long.

4. Am I Davey?

newsies

If you aren’t familiar with the 1992 musical/work of genius starring Christian Bale as the rough and tumble turn of the century news boy, do yourself a favor and watch it. It’s one of my all time favorites. It also just so happens that a coworker of mine likes it to. The current on-going debate is which character each person on staff most closely resembles. I keep being told that I’m Davey. This is not a compliment. Davey is the uptight, cerebral outsider who can’t dance or sing as well as the others. I’m pretty sure it’s true, though. (Side note: the director of the movie also directed my favorite episode of Gilmore Girls and all three High School Musicals. The man is a genius, I say!) (Side side note: I tried to convince my middle school theater teacher that we should attempt this play. No dice, but God that would have been amazing!)

5. Hairs: I need a haircut like woah. My hair guru has relocated to San Antonio (just because! who moves ‘just because’?!), so I’ve been putting it off. Alas, I can wait no longer to tame the beast. (You know it’s bad when you see a picture of yourself and don’t realize that you are in the picture. Yikes, right?) I’m going to try out a different salon this weekend. Heaven help my hairs!

Lookie there! I made it to five. I’ve got no brain juice left to cobble together a coherent conclusion. This will have to suffice! Peace out, yo.

Conversations with my Soldier: Dinner is Served

I was wrapping up my work yesterday when Stephen started bombarding me with urgent messages.

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Was he hurt? Was he upset? Was the homecoming timeline changed? (<–Wishful thinking!) What was wrong? What?!

Drumroll please:

Stephen ordered me dinner.

Yeah, not quite as dramatic or life changing as I was expecting based on the number of exclamation points he used, but it is also just about the sweetest, most thoughtful gesture of all time. Or at least in the top ten.

We had been skyping the day before when I mentioned that I wished he could pack my lunch for me. It’s one of those tasks that I loathe and on the rare occasion Stephen kindly offers to take the reigns. Since deploying over 200 days ago, that hasn’t be possible. It’s still not, but he said that since he couldn’t make my lunch, he wanted to do the next best thing: take care of dinner! Stephen ordered my favorite dish from Pei Wei, arranged the pick up time, and paid. All I had to do was show up and give them my name.

Ultimate happiness.

Ultimate happiness.

I know it’s a small thing, but after a long day at work and with a heart that misses my husband, this kind of thing makes me melt.

Don’t worry, I’ll be way less braggy and a lot more whiney (I know that’s what y’all are accustomed to from me) in my next post. :)