2011: Looking Back

“It’s been an awful year, but it’s been the best awful year of my life.” So says one of the characters on the tv show Brothers & Sisters. (Since SoapNet started airing two episodes a day, I’ve been watching it. I watch everything on that damn channel.) That pretty much sums up my year. I’ve said more goodbyes than hellos. I’ve spent 10 months apart from my husband. It’s been a hard year. But even so, I can’t deny that there have been many wonderful moments. My year in review:

January -

Stephen left for Basic Training not long after the first of the year. I felt immense pride watching him swear in, and utter suck-itude riding the DART train home alone. We barely spoke that month, (noobs aren’t given phone privileges) but we did write each other every day. I checked the mail religiously. Never has a letter elicited such joy as when I’d get one from him. Other highlights: We got our first snow of the year, I tried out a few crock pot recipes, I ran a 5k, and I went with my mom to watch her get her first tattoo!

February -

Flashing that bling (aka my new Army ID card)

AKA the month that punched me in the stomach. We had a week of snow days. Some people like snow days, me, not so much. It meant a week home alone. My apartment flooded, and I spent a week without internet or TV. It was a really lonely month. My brother-in-law almost had his lung transplant (the lungs were deemed no good at the last-minute). Other highlights: I ran a 5k and got my Army ID card.

March -

The socks that helped me PR.

Things started looking up. I ran yet another 5k and earned my current PR of 26 minutes flat. Stephen finished the first portion of BCT, and had a weekend off. I didn’t go see him, but we were able to talk on the phone all weekend. Other highlights: spring break. I didn’t do anything, but then again, I didn’t have to!

April -

I ran the Big D half marathon and earned my current half PR. I also got to watch Stephen graduate from Basic Training. I have never felt so much pride in another person as I did that day. It definitely stands as one of my top 10 favorite days of all time. Not to mention, I got to bring Stephen home. It was only for a short time, but we tried to make the best of it. Other highlights: I ran two 5ks that month, one before Stephen came home and one that we ran together afterwards.

May -

My brother-in-law

In May we learned that Stephen’s unit was preparing to deploy and that I’d visit him in Germany, but I wouldn’t move just yet. (Up until this point I had assumed I’d be quitting my job. Guess not!) I kept Stephen company while he got his tattoo, and we ate a ton of food. When time was up, we said another goodbye as he flew to Germany alone. Not long after he left, his brother got a double lung transplant, for real this time!

June -

Brandenburg Gate

School ended and I spent the month in Germany, a week of which was in Berlin. It was an incredible experience. Despite the cost, the time spent with my husband was priceless. Other highlights: I made the flight all on my lonesome and survived changing planes in Frankfurt.

July -

A Florida sunset from my vacation.

I flew home at the beginning of the month. It was the most painful goodbye I’ve ever said, knowing that my husband would be leaving for war and having no clue when I’d see him again. I started this blog to help us keep in touch and to fill my time. Other highlights: I spent ten days on vacation with my dad in Florida.

August -

Hottest Half finish line photo.

I ran the hellaciously hot Hottest Half. I definitely did not PR, but I did throw up. That’s pretty memorable in my book. The next day, it was back to work. I met my wonderful crop of new students and my student teacher. Other highlights: I sold my car, and Geronimo started running with me.

September - No races in September, just a lot of eating out, moping around, and worrying about my soldier. I trained for the Tyler Rose half marathon, but didn’t run it.

October -

Stephen came home for R&R. I took a lot of time off of work so that we could be together. We ate every delicious food known to man, visited his family and friends, and got in a lot of cuddling. After he went back to Afghanistan (boo) I threw myself into running. I ran a 5k and a 10k at the end of the month. Other highlights: We celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary and ten years of togetherness.

November -

Another month, another race. I ran my first 11k. I also DNS the Turkey Trot despite having a baller turkey costume made by my mom. Thanksgiving was a very difficult day for me. The deployment blues hit hard especially after Stephen relocated to a line company. Other highlights: I picked out all my spring races and got a tattoo.

December -

My student teacher finished up his time with me. I ran my 7th 5k of the year. I focused all my training efforts on The New Years Double. I ran with other people and I walked a very rainy half marathon. Hanukkah and Christmas were surprisingly enjoyable. I spent a lot of time with family and friends. Other highlights: We paid off our credit card debt, and I was featured in the sports section of the Dallas Morning News.

I’ve faced some very difficult challenges this year, but I feel like I’ve also proven myself. I have done things that I never would have done if I could have avoided them: Traveling alone, dealing with car rentals and hotel reservations,  racing my tooshy off, calling up my apartment complex and giving them a piece of my mind, saying goodbye to the man who I love again and again and again. All things that I thought I couldn’t handle, but I can.

I hope that I am able to channel this strength into 2012. There’s still a ways to go in this deployment and a lot of challenges to face in the new year. (Command sponsorship, hopefully a move to Germany, and many more races to name a few!) I hope 2011 treated you right. Here’s to a kick ass 2012!*

NYD: Race Goals

Day one of the New Year’s Double is tomorrow. (My gag reflex activated at that thought.) I have run plenty of races, but this will be the first time I have ever run back to back half marathons. I’m nervous!

I’ve had some goals floating around in my noggin’ for a while, but I like to wait until a race gets close before I make them official. (You never know how training will go, if injuries or illnesses will pop up. Those things effect my goal making!) Drumroll please, my NYD Race Goals:

1. PR on the first day. My current half marathon PR is 2:13:04. I’m aiming for a sub-2:10 finish. According to my calculations, I need an average pace of just under 10 minutes for each mile. I know I have that in me. It’s just a matter of execution.

2. Go full throttle on the second day. I don’t think a time goal is realistic for day two, but I don’t intend to take it easy. I want to see what my body can do. Barring injuries on day one, I plan to leave it all out there on the second day.

3. Run my race. I always make this a goal because it’s always hard. I need to ignore people going fast out of the gate. I need to restrain myself from passing people just because I can. I need to focus on my first two goals and run in a way that will help me achieve them regardless of what the other runners are doing.

4. Finish strong. This is another goal that I make for every race. No matter how bad I’m feeling, I like to run the last half mile full steam ahead.

I’ve been drinking gobs of water and taking it easy the last few days. I intend to do some stretching and carb load tonight. Doing my usual pre-race routine takes the edge off and helps get me in the right mindset for the big day. How do you mentally prepare for races? Do you have any goals that you regularly set for races?*

The Inaugural Blend

My husband went above and beyond with my Christmas presents this year. (Makes me feel really bad about that slinky I sent him. Oh, well.) The crown jewel of all my gifts: The Vitamix!

(Can you hear the angels sing when you look at it, too?) I’ve been ogling this baby for a while. I could watch the Vitamix demo at the state fair for hours. I just get a kick out of watching the guy put a whole carrot into the blender. And It blends! Or ice. You can fill it to the top with ice, push the ice down, and it still blends! Basically, unless I find out that the Vitamix people kick puppies or they spit in my face, I will go on thinking that they walk on water.

That said, my love of the Vitamix also made me a little bit scared of the thing. It’s like a new car; I don’t want to mess it up! I read the entire instruction manual and poured over the recipe book for the first few days. Yesterday I was ready to whip something up.

The recipe: Banana Blueberry Orange Smoothie.

I choose this recipe because I had almost all of the ingredients. I also felt pretty confident in my smoothie making abilities. My fear was that I’d over blend and end up with fruit soup. Blech. I followed the recipe (if you can really call it that) to a T.

Pre-blend:

The result:

Ta-da! Not too shabby! The smoothie is a little tart for my liking, courtesy of the orange, but in thirty minutes time, I had consumed all that fruity goodness! I feel healthier just thinking about it! Not to mention, the Vitamix is ah-mazing! Thankfully it’s easy to clean because I foresee this baby getting used daily.

What’s your favorite thing to blend? Any blending tips for this Vitamix noob?*

War Horse in Review

I mentioned earlier that my mom and I saw War Horse on Christmas Day. I had seen lots of previews and thought that the movie looked right up my alley. (A kid forms a deep attachment to his big brown pet, sounds like someone I know – me!)

I knew going in that the movie was feel-good and family friendly, but I didn’t think very much about what that means. It means that geese provide comic relief. It means that when someone makes one slash of their sword they are able to kill the enemy, but there’s no bloodshed or suffering. It means that a British soldier and a German soldier can meet in no-mans land, have a nice conversation, and cheerfully part ways. None of these things are bad or need to be changed (it is a feel-good family friendly movie after all), but I should have expected this kind of thing.

My complaints: I wish the soldiers would have had better accents. Everyone sounded British, even the Germans. The movie is essentially Black Beauty set in World War One. War Horse doesn’t bring anything else to the table, so the plot felt a little stale.

My compliments: the costumes and cinematography were both beautiful. There are rolling hills, big skies (we know a lot about big sky in Texas, and I approve), and gorgeous countryside throughout the movie. Even the parts of the movie where they are in the trenches are visually attractive. Not to mention, I liked the horse. He really reminded me of Geronimo, and I could easily appreciate the connection that people felt for him.

Overall: I’d give the movie an 8 out of 10. I don’t think I’d see it again or buy it, but maybe if I had a kid, I’d feel differently. For me, a war movie (it does have war in the title) with no blood isn’t my kind of war movie. I wouldn’t be surprised of many people see it and enjoy it, just not my cup of tea.

Have you seen War Horse? What’d you think? Do you like movies that revolve around animals? I do – Homeward Bound was one of my faves when I was a kid.*

Our First Deployed Christmas

I shudder a little when I think of this as our first deployed Christmas, but considering it’s still early in my husband’s contract, it’s silly to think that there won’t be other deployed Christmases. The day really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. And it wasn’t nearly as bad as Thanksgiving. I felt more emotionally prepared this holiday.

I woke up nice and early for an 8 am Skype date with my husband. We talked for over an hour. He watched me open all the presents he sent me. He got me way too much, but honestly, he buys me too much every year!

I’m thankful that Stephen puts so much effort into making me happy. (Lets be real: the only thing that would make me really happy is to be with him, but that’s not an option, so I’ll gladly accept a Vitamix and assorted other items in the mean time!) When we hung up, I futzed around eating my tamales and playing with my new gifts. Stephen called me again and we talked some more. (You can never talk too much.) We discussed all the places we want to travel after the deployment. (There are big plans for a Mexican vacation in the works.)

When we were finally done talking, I headed to his aunt and uncle’s house. That was the place to be! Everyone was there: Stephen’s aunt and uncle, his cousin Jonathan, his cousin Jessica and her son, Pa (Stephen’s grandfather), Stephen’s mom and two brothers, our nephew, and Stephen’s dad, stepmom, and half-sister. Oh, and me! We watched the Mav’s get slaughtered and we stuffed ourselves silly. Well, I stuffed myself silly. Two words: sopapilla cheesecake. I never knew such a thing existed!

I’m really glad that I was able to join everyone. As much as I hate to admit it, it helped to be around other people. There were lots of distractions and lots of laughs. Not to mention, a few presents.

My last stop of the night was to see my mom. Our plan was to celebrate the day after Christmas, but I still wanted to see her. We talked and hung out for a while, then we went to see War Horse. (I’ll be back with a full movie review tomorrow.) I couldn’t believe that it was 9:00 pm by the time the movie was over. The whole day seemed to fly by!

When I got home, I realized that I hadn’t done the Hanukkah candles for the day yet. Whoops! While I was waiting for the candles to burn down (you can’t blow them out!), my little brother called me. What a nice surprise! We talked for a good long while. In fact, we hung up right about the time that the candles burned all the way down, so I took that as my cue to hit the hay.

That means that I made it the entire day of Christmas without a freak-out or break-down, and almost no tears. (I cried when I opened up the Vitamix, but those were happy tears, so they don’t count.)  Things that helped me have a successful holiday:

  • Skype (something about seeing my husband is way better than just talking to him.)
  • Getting out of the house and spending time with family.
  • Being prepared to feel sad. (I always end up feeling worse when I’m feeling down out of the blue. If I expect to feel down, I actually usually don’t feel as bad.)
  • Keeping some traditions and ditching others. (I video taped myself reading The Night Before Christmas and sent it to my husband. I also had our traditional tamale breakfast. I like carrying the banner on the things we always do, but I didn’t do everything. No big tree, not many Christmas decorations, no looking at lights, or Christmas music for me. I only took on the things I could handle and didn’t feel bad about skipping the rest.)

I’m looking forward to spending Christmas with my husband next year. I have the feeling that we’ll do it up really big to make up for this year.

NYD Training: T-Minus 1 Week

It might be the holidays, but that doesn’t mean that training stops! (Training stops for no man. “I am no man!” LOTR, anyone?)

My stats:

  • Total miles for the week: 22
  • Total minutes on my feet: 215
  • Geronimo’s total miles: 10.5
  • Longest run: 6
  • Shortest run: 5
  • Fastest pace: 9:27 (on Saturday)
  • Days until New Years Double: 5

The countdown to the NYD is down to single digits! Yee-haw! I’m ready to do this thing already! I feel like I’ve been training for eternity. Because I ended up skipping Tyler Rose, that training blended into NYD training. I’ve been doing a lot of races, but my last half was in August, and that’s just too darn long ago. I have some pretty high hopes and expectations for this race. You just never know how things will shake down on race day.

We wants it! (The Chicago marathon medal was included in the picture for a size comparison.)*

My training goal for this week: take care of my body. That means taking my runs easy, avoiding injury and colds if possible, and hydrating like a fiend. Knock on wood, that should be doable!*