Balcony People and Allergy Panic!

I want to take some time to brag on my coworkers.  I don’t think it is any secret that teachers are some of the most compassionate people on Earth, but they get little thanks for it.

A couple of weeks ago, we started something at our school.  Using a blank wall near the teacher’s lounge, we started writing notes about the good things we are noticing each other doing….and it has been SO MUCH FUN!!  In addition, when a person writes something about their coworker for the wall, they are able to give that person a pass for free jeans.  And EVERYONE loves a jeans day, right?  So this is the wall after barely a week…balloon wall

Spring is such a stressful time in education (in Texas, anyway) and this little wall has lifted everyone’s spirits.  Having your peers notice the great things you do, day in and day out, is a wonderful thing!!

The cafeteria ladies know how much I LOVE cantaloupe.  And when I see that there is cantaloupe in the lunch room, I make a BEELINE to get me some.  Every time, they tell me that they put some back just for me!! (Yes, I still pay for it.  It’s public school – we have no money! LOL)  But it is so kind of them to save it for me 🙂canteloupe

Back to my teacher friends….  There are so many things that happen in a school every day that parents never know about.  Like last week when one of our teachers arranged for cupcakes to be delivered to celebrate the birthday of one of the kids in her classroom, because things at home are not going so well right now.  We have one teacher that buys birthday gifts for some of her most needy (and usually difficult) students…..even after they have moved on from her classroom.  It is not uncommon at all for our teachers to buy shoes for a child in their classroom.  One of my good friends is planning to bring lunch to one of her students from last year because no one ever comes to eat with him.  All this to say that I am proud to work with such amazing and compassionate people!  These are the balcony people – the ones trying to change the world with one positive action at a time.

Now, on to running!  Running has been going REALLY well lately….well, since I’ve been running with John.  John is a really good sport, because I curse at him A LOT during runs.  Thankfully, he has a thick skin and a good sense of humor.  Running at a slower pace actually works…who knew?!?  He assures me that after we have built a good base, that speed will come.  Our long run last weekend was 7 miles and I joked (sort-of) that the run was slower than the labors of all 3 of my kids combined.  It wasn’t quite THAT slow, but certainly felt like it.  I was tight in my hips the next day, but I figured that was to be expected, since it was the longest run I’ve managed since the marathon.  The tightness worked out quickly enough, though.  I feel lucky and blessed to be improving at this rate!  (OK…and thankful for a partner that calls me on my BS and has the discipline to hold me accountable to this training plan.)7 miler

Sunday was a rest day from running, but I had the green light from coach to ride my bike.  I have slacked on cross training on the bike….I had last ridden the trainer on March 5!!  I was able to ride outside and ended up with a 15 mile ride.  I enjoyed every minute, but between the distance, the hills and the head winds, I was worn out by the time I got back home….but it was a good worn out 🙂

For my political history buffs, I live about 1.5 miles from this house and pass by it every time I go for a ride.  Sam Rayburn House

It belonged to long-time Speaker of the House, Sam Rayburn.  He got quite a bit done in congress and I have no doubt that he would be disgusted with today’s politicians.  He died in 1961 and Kennedy, Johnson, Eisenhower and Truman all attended the funeral….in Bonham.  So for those of you who say nothing ever happens in Bonham – here is proof of our moment of fame.  four-presidents-at-speaker-of-the-house-sam-rayburn-s-funeral

So this happened Sunday evening:allergy vial

Those are my vials of allergy serum.  The new ones I picked up a week ago.  At a cost to me of over $600.  The ones that *should* have lasted me 6 months.  Yeah, the one on the right?  BROKEN!!!  Somehow they fell out when Bobby opened the refrigerator.  First, I held my breath.  Then I started hyperventilating.  Then I had to fight the urge to throw up.

So half my allergens are in one vial and the other half are in the other.  I have to take a shot from each vial every 10-14 days.  And reordering generally takes 4-6 weeks, because it is mixed especially for me.  If I were to extend much past 14 days, I would be required to start injections over from scratch.  Which means starting with low dose and driving to get them IN  the doctor’s office until they could be sure I wouldn’t go into anaphylactic shock.

So I called my doctor’s office first thing Monday morning.  They are able to reorder from a new lab that can get all my allergens into one vial (HOORAY!!!) AND turn around is only a couple of weeks.  Plus, the vial that didn’t break has the allergens to which I am most allergic and I can continue taking shots from it until the new one comes in.  #crisisaverted #SOrelieved

 

Make the choice today to be a balcony person. 🙂

Happy Tuesday!

Jen

 

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Spring confessional

Back at the first of the year, I pledged, in my New Year’s post,  to do all the things that I needed to do to get myself back to healthy running again and KEEP myself there.  Publishing it was a way of holding myself accountable.  For the past 3 months, I have not skimped on strength training.  I’m extremely proud of myself, because this is the area in which I had the least discipline prior to my injury.  And, let’s face it: running is much more fun than strength work or cross training, so this is no small victory.

Back to my pledge.  So I was looking back at my activities on the Garmin site yesterday and noticed that I haven’t ridden my bike since March 5!  I was a little surprised and disappointed by this.  During Spring Break, I skipped a bike ride because my SI joint hurt SO badly that week.  And now that I’m running more I am having trouble fitting it in, but even so, cross training must go on!  I do strength work M-W-F and yoga on T-Th.  So the question of the day (maybe even the year): is yoga strength or cross training; or is it either, or both?  My gut says strength training, but if it can be considered cross training, then I’m not slacking as badly as it seems on my Garmin account.

 

Something happened this morning….my FIRST run without intervals!!!  It was chilly and about as windy as Winnie The Pooh’s Blustery Day, but IT.  WAS.  AWESOME!!  windy run

Due to time constraints and schedule conflicts, my partner and I chose to run at 5 AM.  And yes, the wind was AT LEAST 20 mph.  But who cares about the wind?? I can’t even describe the elation and excitement I am feeling!!  Running is awesome again! 🙂

I am known far and wide as the Food Nazi, but I have often talked about how I indulge myself when I want.  For example, I had a leftover cupcake (maybe a couple) and HAD to eat it so it didn’t go to waste.  And last night, Bobby wanted fried taters and hamburgers, so that is what we had.  And just in case you are one of those people sitting there in disbelief, here is your proof: red meat

It was delicious and definitely hit the spot!

I had “that feeling” yesterday.  The one I sometimes refer to as “the itch”.  I REALLY wanted to run.  My brain (and my gut) NEEDED to run.  But it was a rest day.  Crazy Jen would totally have gone for a run, trying to hit a 5k race pace.  Sane Jen knows that rest days are important, so to ensure nothing stupid happened, I did this when I got home: pink moscato

No, the irony of using alcohol to avoid doing something stupid isn’t lost on me.  But, hey, I have to keep Crazy Jen in check somehow!

Happy Thursday!

 

Honored to be honored and sunny runs!

I’m not one to toot my own horn.  I’m the type of person who is happy doing my thing, whatever that is, without needing any attention or accolades.  Having said that, I was given the honor of being the Paraprofessional of the Month for the school district in which I work (which is layman’s terms for non-teacher employee of the month! LOL).  Most of you know that I am an introvert at heart, even though I’ve adapted to life enough to pass as an extrovert.  Having said that, I was as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof!  Before accepting the award (at the school board meeting!), my principal read what my co-workers wrote when they nominated me.  (And then added, “Jennifer does all this inbetween running marantons.”)  I was BLOWN AWAY.  It is a wonderful feeling to be appreciated.

My loving sister posted this terrible picture on Facebook.  I figured, why not extend the humiliation to my blog?  I was laughing about something....

My loving sister posted this terrible picture on Facebook. I figured, why not extend the humiliation to my blog? I was laughing about something….

And in case you didn’t realize how talented I am; I ran between work and the board meeting.  Used a shower wipe to clean up (in my office), along with copious amounts of deodorant and perfume.  Can you believe how great my hair looks??

My award, right next to one of my favorite pictures!

My award, right next to one of my favorite pictures!

So I ran Monday and Tuesday.  I just thought Monday’s run was hot at 77 degrees.  Yesterday’s run was 82!  I am NOT complaining.  It has been AWESOME!  However, running in the sun with compression socks on Monday already gave me a bit of a tan?!?  By the way….Monday’s run was longest since injury – 5.75 miles!!  And my body is handling the increases just fine!  SO EXCITING!!!

Look how white those calves are! LOL

Look how white those calves are! LOL

Tuesday’s run was so gorgeous.  I love running at this park near Alli’s practice facility.

I.  LOVE.  TEXAS.

I. LOVE. TEXAS.

Alli LOVES Panda Express. Honestly, I die a little bit inside every time I take her there.  For one, there is NOTHING nutritious about their food, in my opinion.  Secondly, they are AS SLOW AS CHRISTMAS!  I tweeted this yesterday while waiting in line.blog

But, I DO eat the fortune cookies and this was mine:Panda Express

I translated this to mean that I will get my HM goal by then! 🙂 #winning

And in the words of my friend, Carmen: Happy Hump Day!!

Jen

Alli loves Gold!

 

I don't cry over spilled milk, but I do cry over spilled coffee.

I don’t cry over spilled milk, but I do cry over spilled coffee.

Sometimes life gets in the way of blogging….and that is exactly what has happened to me the last few days!  I’ve barely stopped to sleep since Friday….quite frankly: I’m exhausted!!

I was lucky enough to find ripe avocados at the grocery Friday evening.  What else would I do?? I made guac!!!  Now, I’m not one to brag, but I probably make the best guac in Texas…..maybe even the US.  And, just like with my cupcakes, it is ALL from scratch.  You won’t find me using a guacamole seasoning packet! (Yes.  I am a guacamole snob, too)  I start with fresh ingredients….

The limes were a bit camera-shy and failed to make it into the pic.

The limes were a bit camera-shy and failed to make it into the pic.

First, I make pico de gallo from the onion, tomatoes, jalapeno and cilantro.  Then I mash the avocado with a potato masher.  guac

I add pico until it “looks right”, then I season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and fresh lime until it “tastes right”.  It was soooooo delicious!

This weekend Alli’s 10s team played 11s division in their tournament.  Generally speaking, they usually play 12s division because there aren’t always enough 11 and under teams to warrant having a separate division.  Knowing they were playing 11s, I assumed that they would win the tournament, but you never know until you have that medal!  winning

The girls played amazing, as usual!  They went 3-0 (6-0 set count) in Saturday pool play, then rolled through the Gold bracket 3-0 on Sunday, not dropping a set!  They came close in the championship game, however.  They won the first set of championship 25-7, which made them a little cocky, I think.  Set 2 started out disastrously; they were on their heels the entire game!  They were down 8 or 9 points at one point, but kept chipping away at the deficit.   Finally, when the score was 18-23, they got on a roll and closed out the match 25-23.  This is their 2nd tournament championship this season.  They also have a 2nd place finish and 2-5th place finishes (5th place is our lowest finish….can you tell I’m a proud mom?)medals!

Alli was so proud of her medal that she wore it ALL DAY LONG!  She also informed me that she needs a medal holder, since she plans on winning LOTS of gold bling! LOL!!mr sunshine

Luckily, we got home from the tournament early enough that I spent some QT with this lovely ball of fire in the sky.  It was a great day for pool maintenance.  I CAN NOT wait until it is lounging by the pool time!

And: no post would be complete without a run update!!

My last run was Saturday evening.  We ran intervals: 20:1×3.  Felt great the entire time! I had some hip tightness afterwards, but I didn’t freak out!  (Noteworthy!)  I foam rolled and stretched a little more than usual, slapped some KT on it and it feels pretty good!  Next run (TODAY!!!) will be 25:1×3.  We are getting closer and closer to the 30 min intervals <read: FREEDOM from intervals> which means I will be actually TRAINING within a week or two.  My biggest challenge right now is letting go of the “injured” label.  I must shift my thinking and realize that I am recovered, because intellectually I know I am recovered!

 

 

Squashing that “voice”

Stolen from my cohort in crime, Carmen, who posts Hump Day pics EVERY Wednesday!

Stolen from my cohort in crime, Carmen, who posts Hump Day pics EVERY Wednesday!

In my heart of hearts, I’m a realist.  When I assess situations, I see them pretty much as they are, mainly because I view the situation without allowing emotions to weigh in.  Even so, in most situations I try to lean toward the side of the optimist.  I want to see the good in the situation and focus on the positives.  Life is too short to dwell on the negatives…..and the negatives depress me. But sometimes I give more lip service to the positive side than I actually feel internally.  Say it long enough and you’ll believe it, right??

I haven’t been completely honest with everyone about how I have felt coming off my injury.  I wanted SO badly to be well.  I wanted so badly to be brave about it.  I wanted so badly to beat that voice in my head kept telling me I would NEVER be able to run long distances again.  But I didn’t feel “well” and I didn’t feel brave at all and I COMPLETELY bought what the voice in the back of my head was telling me.  And while I am mostly glad that I was injured in the dead of winter, being injured in the dead of winter was also a curse. I have a tendency to lean toward depression in the winter.  There is too much darkness and not enough sunshine to feed this Texas girl’s soul.  Add being injured on top of that and it’s mentally hard to dig your way out.

The Texas sun is shining on me again and I love it!

The Texas sun is shining on me again and I love it!

Having said all that, I have seen great improvements with my fitness and running.  The strength training has definitely made me stronger which, in turn, has made me feel better.  Slowly and surely I have made progress with my running.  All this gave me hope, but in the back of my mind the voice was still telling me that I couldn’t do it (and I was listening to it).  Plus, I was still having nagging issues (on my left side, mostly) and those issues gave the voice credibility.

But if you keep saying it, sooner or later you might buy into it.  So I kept saying it (but not believing it).

A week ago Friday, I ran my intervals (TOO fast).  I even pushed the pace on the last  interval.  (I know: stupid.  I guess Crazy Jen found the damn key.)  Then, I worked a big volleyball tournament over the weekend.  By the last game, I was really hurting from my hips down – dull, constant pain.  (The voice was screaming at me, “I told you so!”)  I knew that the Friday evening run plus working all weekend was not a good combination.  Monday I was tight and sore and when I did my strength exercises, they were so much harder than usual but I chalked it up to being exhausted.  By Monday afternoon, my left SI joint was burning and I barely slept that night because the pain was so bad.  This REALLY frightened me, because even with my injuries, I had never hurt this way.  I continued foam rolling and stretching, but decided not to do any lower body strength work until I started feeling better.  I did hop on the TM mainly to see if running made things worse. Thank goodness it didn’t!  Wednesday morning I was better but still not feeling great but went ahead with the first scheduled run with my new partner.  The run caused no issues but walking after a period of inactivity was still painful.  Thankfully, my myofascia guy was able to accommodate me for a 2-hour appointment and things felt better….for a little while.  I was diligent with the foam rolling and stretching.  And I decided that as long as running didn’t make it worse, I wouldn’t skip any runs.

After our first run went so well, it was kind of assumed that we would continue running together.  (Maybe I should tell you that my partner’s name is John….for future reference;) )  Upon John’s recommendation, I decided to try a pair of Newton’s.  (I’ve had a nagging feeling for quite some time that I needed to make a shoe change, but I wasn’t sure exactly what change needed to be made.)  He suggested that I take some time to transition to them, because they are different from the Asics Nimbus and Kinsei that I have been wearing.  He still didn’t think transition would be difficult since I already had a midfoot strike.  OH.  MY.  GOSH.  The first run in them on Saturday was AWESOME.  And since I didn’t have any issues with my calves or my feet, I wore them again for Monday’s run.  Still no issues, so I ran in them again yesterday!!

"The" shoes: my Newtons

“The” shoes: my Newtons

With each run in these shoes, my body feels better and better and better.  By the way, I do realize that a large part of this is directly related to having a running partner who isn’t afraid to make me run slower than I’m used to, but I think switching to the shoes is going to go a long way in keeping me on the road injury-free!

All this to say that I think I may be FINALLY putting the voice to rest.  During the last 10 days of running, I have begun to genuinely believe that I CAN run distances again – healthy and free of nagging pain. (I am confident enough that I signed up for my first race post-mara: a half marathon on 5/3!)  Three things happened:  I now have a partner who can pace me appropriately; he recommended a shoe change that has been nothing short of amazing and I realized that I have what it takes to deal with issues as the arise.

It feels great being a grown-up runner!  And it feels great to really believe what I’m saying 🙂

Happy Hump Day!

Jen

When the gods of running (and volleyball) smile upon you

 

I think this was me this morning.

Nothing to do with the post except that it is Monday after Spring Break.

Last week, the gods of running smiled down upon me.  Most of you are probably already laughing, since you already know that the gods of running rarely smile on me.  That, or their sense of humor is extremely warped.  OK, their humor is probably extremely warped.

First, I’ll give a bit of the back story for those who may not know.  For 2 years, my friend, Amy, was my trusty running partner.  She was the navigator and the pacer.  I was the trainer (go ahead and laugh) and the water/fuel girl.  Amy LITERALLY held me back – but that was a good thing.  When I would get in “the zone” and start to speed up, she would grab me and tell me to slow down!!!  I embraced training without her, though – and when I had to run without her I did my own thing when I wanted and how I wanted (which, I admit, wasn’t the SMARTEST approach I could have taken….note running gods’ warped sense of humor.)  And unless you’ve been living under a rock, or this is the first time reading my blog, I ran my first marathon on a bum ITB and had to take 7 weeks off before I could start slowly running again (which was, no doubt, directly related to the way I trained without a partner).

Training post-marathon/ITB rehab has been going fairly well.  I have occasional aches and pains; of course at least one of my muscle groups is ALWAYS tight, but I have been dealing with the issues as they arise in a surprisingly smart fashion, especially for me.

Last week, I crossed paths with another runner….in my hometown.  That is noteworthy, people.  That’s not to say that there aren’t runners in my hometown (because there are plenty).  I just don’t know of any that consistently run the distances that I like to run <read: not as obsessive as Jen>.  It just so happens that he recently moved to town and needed to know places to run (and wouldn’t mind having a running partner).  We exchanged numbers and were able to coordinate running together last week.  If you are a runner, you know that finding a running partner that is compatible with you is…..well, difficult.  (And if you are an introvert, this is very reason that you never seek out running partners in the first place.)  I think we both felt that it is a good fit, and since he is a good pacer, it’s a GREAT fit for me! Our first run felt a lot like Crazy Jen going to confession.  Clearly he needed to know what a running nut he was dealing with (to make an informed decision, of course), so I rehashed all the stupid things I have done in the name of the run.  But the good thing is that he doesn’t care that I’m crazy, or is just THAT desperate for someone to run with, so it looks like it’s going to work out for both of us! 🙂

This weekend was a whirlwind of volleyball (I know….what’s new??) First, the team that Taylor coaches was playing in the Mid-East Qualifier in St. Louis.  USAV sanctions a handful of qualifiers across the country and the WINNING team (singular) per division is awarded a bid to USAV Junior Nationals in June.  Taylor’s team was playing in a division with 100 other teams and her team made it into the Gold bracket, which was the top 16 of the tournament!  They ended up losing the first match of the Gold bracket to the eventual winner of the division, which effectively ended their hunt for a bid, but she was so proud of how her team ended up.

Taylor is back row, far right.  Yes, she is shorter than ALL her players, even her liberos.

Taylor is back row, far right. Yes, she is shorter than ALL her players, even her liberos.

On the fight into St. Louis, Taylor said the guy next to her kept bending over and talking to his feet.  She wasn’t quite sure how to react, so she asked if he was talking to her.  He said no…..he was talking to his Dachshund, who was IN his carry-on bag!doxie

She got the biggest kick out of it!

Alli played in a tournament this weekend as well.  Before we left, she whipped up some cupcakes all by herself!Alli's cupcakes

Too bad that she left them on the counter, which means we didn’t get to share any with her teammates.

On Saturday, we were in a terribly weak pool.  Even though we were seeded 2nd in the pool, we easily won every game.  No one scored on us more than 16 points per set all day.  Alli served at least 50 points, which is CRAZY!  She was on a roll and her serves were smokin’ hot!  Since the facility was 1.5 hours from home, we reserved a hotel room for the night (because I KNEW we would be back at the gym by 7 AM!) and ate dinner with one of her teammates.

Celebratory dessert for earning 1st in our pool!

Celebratory dessert for earning 1st in our pool!

I wish my camera could have captured how wide their eyes got when the server brought out the apple pie.  First, she poured cream onto a hot plate, then added the apple pie and topped it with a scoop of ice cream.  They enjoyed every bite!

I knew that the bracket would be tough for us on Sunday, because were some decent 12s teams in the tournament.  We easily beat the first team we faced, but met our match in the second round.  This team attacked every ball, played great defense and tough serves, but the thing that threw us off was the way they worked the net.  We haven’t faced many teams that are good at blocking and working the net, so we had some adjustments to make in that regard.  Our little Frogs hung tight and battled for every point, played great defense and attacked the ball, but we eventually dropped the first set 22-25.  The second set was a nail-biter, with each team trading points, keeping the game basically tied until it was 14-all.  At that point, the wind blew out of our sails and we started struggling, making mistakes that I have never seen from this team.  The loss put us at 5th place in the tournament of 21 teams, which is pretty good for a bunch of 10 year olds! 🙂volleyball mom shirt

I saw this shirt at the tournament and joked that I NEED it!  LOL  No…..I wouldn’t actually wear it.  But it was fun to joke about it!!

Happy Monday everyone!!

Jen

The “Spring Break” Break

Soooo….I’ve been off for Spring Break this week.  And even though I’ve not done much, I haven’t had time to do much, if that makes any sense.  So I haven’t had time to post a blog entry OR clean house OR do any of the things on my to-do list.

Aaaaand, I haven’t felt quite myself.  I haven’t slept well and although my stomach isn’t upset, it isn’t normal either.  I’ve also had some nagging soreness in my left SI joint…..an after effect of officiating 16 volleyball matches over the weekend, I suspect.  I have gotten a couple of runs in, though; my last one was yesterday and THIS happened.HR

You read that right.  Max HR was 149!!!!  AND that was on 15:1 intervals!  Even better, that sore SI joint doesn’t hurt at all during runs.  So even though things aren’t perfect, they are pretty darn good right now.

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably already know that I found an egg in my silverware drawer Sunday morning.  egg

Before you make any assumptions or comments; yes, this is strange for even my household.  My biggest concern was that I was responsible for this, because I hadn’t gotten eggs out in days which would have meant the egg was there all that time and I never noticed it.  But, after an investigation that would rival the FBI, I uncovered evidence in the form of witness testimony.  Taylor spent the night at home on Friday and Bobby cooked her breakfast before she left Saturday morning.  Still not exactly sure how the egg got into the silverware drawer, but I know that I’m not the cause which means I’m still hanging on to my slither of sanity.

My friends at work affectionately call me the “Food Nazi”.  People ask me all the time about running and how I maintain my weight.  My approach is pretty simple.  I try to avoid sugary drinks (except wine….wine is delicious!) and I want my food as close to the way it came from the Earth as possible.  I don’t eat fried foods very often, but I don’t deprive myself either.  Believe me, I eat PLENTY of cupcakes!  Anyway, I’m always happy to help hold people accountable, because I think the biggest problem is that people just eat….without any thought going into what they are putting in their body, or how much they are putting in their body.  Within the last 2 days, I’ve gotten ALL these comments!  Josh

First, one of my friends sent me this.  I don’t see him much, but I do know he has adopted my English muffin with peanut butter and honey for breakfast. 🙂carmen

Then, my friend Carmen, tagged me in this Instagram pic and even called me the food nazi!  LOL  Carmen is one of my dearest work friends, and she works so hard to eat healthy, although I’m proud of her for indulging herself when she wants!  Then, Donna commented on Carmen’s Facebook post.  donna

I’m not sure I’ve ever knocked food out of anyone’s hand…..but I do know Shannon HID from me one day when she brought back a bag of FRIED everything from Sonic! (Of course I caught her!)  Seriously, I think that when you start to view food as FUEL for your body, you want to put GOOD fuel in your body.  And putting less than great fuel in every once in a while is OK.  It’s all about balance.

Many of you know that I traded cars recently.  Of course, I immediately ordered replacement running stickers, but the weather has been so bad that Friday was the first chance for this to happen. TX runner

Isn’t that beautiful!!! ❤

Happy Thursday!!!

Jen