And that's a wrap!

December Goals (Recap)
  • Continue running twice a week outside racing. Unlike last December, I promise to NOT take two weeks off from exercise. Coming back in January after a 10 day vacation in California was BRUTAL. SUCCESS!! I didn't miss a single training run. And of those training runs, I did two super long runs (One just over half marathon distance, and a 15.33 mile run on Christmas Day).
  • Try for another PR (of course)... but I have three races in 8 days! I'd love to keep all races sub 2:10, but I think I'll make the goal for VA sub 2:15 (It's day 2 of a back to back weekend and the course profile is INSANE)... Race #1 - Vegas! Race #2 - Thunder Road! Race #3 - Blue & Gray! SUCCESS!!! I got a PR at Thunder Road on December 11... the middle race of the 3 in 8 days. I took about a minute off my previous time, for a 1:58:54 finish. Even with all my trouble at the Blue & Gray, I still finished in a very decent 2:06:02. I'm INCREDIBLY pleased with how my December races went.
  • Start working on Yasso 800s again... at least a few times a month. Gotta do it or I'm not gonna get faster. FAIL!! I was feeling healthy enough, but I just didn't do it.
  • Stay healthy. SUCCESS!! I've been taking it easy, and have been feeling pretty good. Had a minor cold, but that didn't even cause me to miss one trip to the gym.
I really have the same goals each and every month. So I'll continue to do a recap at the end of each month, but I think I'll only set annual or individual race goals from now on. The only monthly goal I'd like to add is to start doing planks. I have the weakest abs in the UNIVERSE. Across the board a lot of my fellow bloggers set a goal for number of minutes. I like the sound of 150 minutes. That roughly means that three times a week I'll need to hold a plank for a minute. I'll start there and see where it goes. And as for the month of December in general? I was actually pretty surprised to tally up the number of miles I ran (143.13) and see that it was the third biggest mileage month of the year for me. Didn't really seem like I ran that much. Is that a good thing?

2011 GOALS

I'm just going to put them out there. I think this is all VERY reasonable :D
  • Run 1300 miles.
  • Beat that PR I have in the 10k distance. 1:01:47??? I can TOTALLY kill that.
  • Run 20 half marathons
  • Run a half marathon in under 1:56
  • Run 2 full marathons
  • Run a full marathon in under 4:35
  • 150 minutes of planks
  • STAY. HEALTHY.
See? Nothing crazy at all there... right?

Christmas Drawings

As I mentioned in my last post, the days leading up to Christmas saw a frenzy of creative activity here in the Half-dozen household. I was forever getting out the glue and scissors.

"Do you promise to pack all the mess away when you're finished?" I asked Kitcat/Teddy/Mousie/Ducky or whichever combination of the four was currently wanting to make something.

"Yes, I/we promise," she/they would answer with what seemed like complete sincerity.

You'd think I would learn.

Inevitably, when it was time for lunch or dinner I had to call her/them to the table to finish packing away glue, scissors, textas, pencils, paintbrushes, paint, and approximately 57,392,781 tiny little pieces of paper all over the table and the floor.

A lot of these craft sessions were to churn out wonderful mess Christmas gifts for HB and me. Others sessions produced some beautiful artwork with a Christmas theme. Here are a few of them ....

This was Teddy's drawing to give to Santa with the mince pies and milk on Christmas Eve. It's Santa and his reindeer flying across the night sky.Kitcat was the most prolific of artists. This is her Christmas tree drawing.And this is Kitcat's drawing for Santa. It's another picture of Santa and his reindeer. (She and Teddy did their drawings at the same time.) There is also our house with Rudolph standing outside, showing Santa where to stop, and what seems to be flying turtles? Or maybe black stars?Kitcat currently has a fascination with envelopes. When we were doing Christmas cards for school friends and teachers she insisted on writing 'from Kitcat' inside each one. Then she had to write it again on the envelope. And then because she still wanted to keep writing, I had to show her how to write all her friends names on the front of the envelope. Between the four of the little girls, Christmas Card writing time became a very tedious affair. I hope they learned something from it, although I am sure patience wasn't that something.

Anyway, Kitcat drew a special picture for Mrs Santa and decorated the front of the envelope.This is the picture that was inside the envelope, made very carefully by Kitcat. She drew, cut and pasted each of the different parts of the picture. It is Santa, his sleigh empty of toys, taking a Christmas tree home for Mrs Santa. The other reindeer have been put out to pasture and Rudolph is doing the home stretch of the journey by himself.Lastly, this is Ducky's drawing of the Nativity scene. The donkey on lower right side of picture had a mishap with some water, which made his head a bit blurry. I like the rooster in the middle, near the wise man. I'm surprised there isn't a duck in there as well. If you're wondering what all the black squiggles are, it's meant to depict the night sky (and the yellow dots are the stars.) Great job, Ducky.And that's all the Christmas drawings I can find to share with you. I think Santa must have taken the rest because there sure were a whole lot more of them all over the house before Christmas.

Midnight Mass and Candy Cane Cupcakes

On Christmas Eve, I went to midnight mass.  I abandoned Catholicism long ago, for a variety of reasons, but there's something about the solemnity (or potential solemnity, anyway) of Christmas midnight mass that strikes a chord in me, and reminds me of my old-world Catholic father, who died eight years ago this February from stomach cancer.  Though "midnight mass" when I was growing up happened at 9:00 p.m., I can still remember him singing Christmas carols in French and Latin in his booming baritone, burying his head in his hands as he knelt in prayer.  

There is a Catholic church just a block from where we live, so since I was awake anyway, I walked up the street, listening to the silence, looking at the stars, tasting the crisp wintry air, and feeling the quiet in my soul.  When I got to the church, I sat in the back, watching the parishoners filter in, looking for friends and family, admiring each others' Christmas finery (and four inch spike heels).  I was wearing my ratty green maternity sweater and clogs, looking very pregnant.  No one greeted me, and few people looked my way.  But I had to laugh as I thought to myself, sitting there, that in a strange way, I was physically the closest person in that church to Mary at that moment.  I smiled, thinking about the difference between this church and the UU fellowship that we attend, where everyone greeted everyone with hugs and kisses at our Christmas celebration, and no one was looking at what anyone was wearing.  A 20th century Mary and Joseph would have been welcome in our midst, and would have been offered a cup of coffee.  Still, though I didn't make it all the way through the midnight mass --I lost steam about halfway through, I was glad to be reminded of my father, for all of his faults, and the way he embraced the spirit of renewal and possibility that was Christmas.

In that same spirit, I finally got around to a baking project I'd intended to try for weeks, inspired by a blogger friend who'd had a dream, while she was still pregnant, that she was eating candy cane cupcakes.  Melissa was originally due to give birth to her third child just after I was, but had her baby girl at just shy of 30 weeks, 3 lbs. 11 oz.  Kiari has been doing remarkably well in the NICU; she's been a fighter since before she was born.  I've been wanting to send them something; I'm in charge of what's fondly referred to as the "casserole brigade" in our fellowship (though I refuse to call what I make "casseroles"): when there are new babies or illnesses or other crises in life, I organize the group of people who bring food and comfort to the doors of our friends.  Candy cane cupcakes sounded like they might offer some promise of traveling well, if I sent the frosting separately, and I knew that a part-buttercream would keep with no trouble in transit, given the weather out this way lately.

So I made my standard vanilla cupcake using half peppermint extract in place of the vanilla (if you're going to try this, don't just settle for something called "mint extract," which is half spearmint, and really won't work at all) and tinting half of the batter with red food coloring, layering the two colors of batter, and swirling them around just slightly with a toothpick before baking.  I packed a standard vanilla buttercream, made with crushed candy cane bits, and included some extra small candy canes in the package for decoration.  (Here, in the picture, I put some crushed candy cane bits on top.)  Before we sent them off, we tested one to make sure that it was fit for human consumption.  While it was good, it wasn't exactly as good as I was hoping; I think next time I'd be less sparing with the peppermint extract (which I was afraid would be too overbearing), and possibly alternate two kinds of batter, red velvet and white chocolate pappermint instead of vanilla with peppermint.  Still, the end result was pretty, and the stripes inside were even more or less what I'd envisioned.


The best part of this story, though, is that the cupcakes arrived on Melissa's daughter Kelsi's birthday.  Kelsi was one of the three smallest living babies born at the hospital where she entered the world six years ago, and sadly, she didn't survive.  But every year Melissa and her family remember Kelsi's short life, and celebrate the effect she has had on so many people.

So happy birthday, Kelsi ... may 2011 bring us all hope and the human connections that make us better people.  Thank you, Melissa, for letting me be part of such an important day in your family's year.  The bloggers and friends I've met on this journey have inspired me, humbled me, and helped me to keep putting one foot in front of another.  And as much as I wish I was holding a live child in my arms right now, instead of worrying about these last few weeks and all of the things I know could still potentially go wrong, I will take comfort in the fact that I have a community of amazing people rallying around me, cheering me on to my own small miracle.

Three Things Thursday - I'm having a bad day...

1. I got "laid off" at work today. All over a day off that my boss knew about when she hired me.

2. The day that caused me to get laid off (for travel to MS/AL races):

  • Delta has delayed departure, which therefore delays arrival. Landing us in AL (180 miles from the expo) with 3 hours to get through the airport, rent a car, and drive there (MapQuest says it is a 3.5 hour drive).
  • Meaning we won't have enough time to drive to the expo to pick up our packets.... which is a problem because...
  • They REQUIRE expo pick-up and their website specifically states not only is there NO late or race day pick up, but they do NOT allow friends or family members to pick-up.

3. Oh, the irony.

2010, you were *this* close to being pretty damn awesome. I'm disappointed.

A New Recipe

Banana Custard Pie

Today I was faced with some extra ripe bananas....
and my dilemma was...banana bread? or....Banana bread!!!
But...I got to thinking...Pumpkin pie is a custard pie...why not bananas??? So here it is!!
Banana PIE!

3 Medium or 2 Large RIPE



bananas


1/2 cup evaporated milk


5 eggs


3/4 cup packed brown Sugar


1 tsp cinnamon


1 large deep dish ( or two shallow 10 inch)


pie shell (s)






Throw main ingredients in a blender.


Whip on high until liquid.


Pour into prepared pie shell (s)


Bake at 425 for 15 minutes..then drop


down to 350 and continue to bake until


done ( when and inserted toothpick


comes out clean)



Chill and serve with whipped cream.


(can be garnished with sliced bananas)
EASY AS PIE!!!

Cheers!!



Throwback Thursday - The Day I Was Born

My First Day Alive
Throwback Thursday - The Day I Was Born

See I was cute at one time in my life!!  This is a picture of the day I was born.  I am not sure if I am yawning or crying.  More than likely I am yawning because that is the face I still make.  I wish the photo was in color because you would see my rooster red hair which quickly turned to blond in a few months.  Caution Redhead Running would have been jealous. 

The Year of Awesome

I've had an exceptionally great few years since I got divorced. I wasn't sure I'd be able to top 2009, but let's do a quick run down of what happened in...

2010 - THE YEAR OF AWESOME

RUNNING

I ran a ridiculous amount in 2010. I technically won't post my running stats for another few days, but I beat my goal of running 1000 miles. This was a little intimidating considering I'd never run more than 643 miles in a year! Also a little scary since I spent the first 6 weeks of the year nursing an injury to my left quad (so there is no confusion that was NOT an awesome part of 2010 :D )

I had never run more than about 7.5 miles at one time when 2010 started. I had never raced longer than a 10K. I had never run for longer than 70 minutes.

After entering a few 5Ks at the end of 2009, my older sister convinced me and L to sign up for the Canyonlands half marathon lottery. The lottery results were posted in December, and shortly before I injured my quad, I found out I would be running my VERY FIRST HALF MARATHON. And I was terrified. I had no training plan. I had a good base but I needed something more...

Here are some of my favorite running moments of 2010:

A stretching with me before the Sweetheart Classic

Bright colored outfits, running skirts, knee hi socks!

A's first run with me

A sprinting!!


Not only did I run a lot, I raced a lot... here we go!!

  • I ran a total of 29 races in 2010. I set PRs in all distances EXCEPT the 10K... I've got a score to settle with THAT (Compare that with 6 races in 2009 and only 3 in 2008)
    • 5Ks - I ran four with a PR of 26:58
    • 3.3 Mile Race - Warrior Dash - Dirtiest but most fun in 39:22
    • 4 Mile - Ran in 40:56 (First race after recovering from my injury)
    • 5 Mile (Mountain/Trail race) - Ran in 54:07
    • 9.9K - Ran in 1:03:19 (suffering a hangover)
    • 10K - Ran in 1:05:06
    • 10 Mile - Ran in 1:49:55
    • Half Marathons - I ran 18... yes... 18... with a current PR of 1:58:54!!
    • Marathon - Just one (and it was AWESOME) in 4:42:14
Here are some of my favorite race (or race related) pictures:

Me and A before the Sweetheart Classic 2/13/10

L and Me - Snowman Stampede 2/27/10... First double digit run ever!

Team Bee Rad right before starting my FIRST half marathon - Canyonlands in Moab, UT 3/20/10

L and Me before Deadwood Mickelson Trail half marathon - 6/6/10

J, Me and L before Warrior Dash - 8/21/10

Jumping over the fire - Warrior Dash - 8/21/10

Kauai Half Marathon - 9/5/10

L and Me - You Go Girl! half marathon - 9/25/10

Maine Half Marathon - 10/3/10

L and Me in NKOTB shirts for Boston Half Marathon - 10/10/10

L and Me before the Zombie half marathon in Anchorage - 10/23/10

Athens Classic Marathon - Greece - 10/31/10

Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll half marathon - 12/5/10

Thunder Road half marathon 12/11/10
Whew... I could go on and on and on about racing and running, but you all hear that on a regular basis.

A

I have a pretty awesome kiddo. We had a great year! She is now in her last year of preschool and is PSYCHED about starting kindergarten. Here are some of my favorite A pics:

J and A - getting ready for first time skiing

Day on the slopes

Easter



First time bowling


Road trip to South Dakota




Fishing

At the water park

First baseball game

First day of school

First Day of School


At the Circus


3D movie on her 5th birthday

Build-a-Bear


TRAVEL

A lot of my travels were because of racing, but some wasn't... I got to go LOTS of places in 2010. Here are some of my favorite pics:

Road trip with my awesome sisters to Moab, Utah for our first half marathon:

Prom? Yes, please


L and I went on a NKOTB celebrity cruise for my 31st birthday... I am a dork, I know it, but it was SO much fun:




Trip to California to visit my awesome friend at 365 awesome days:

Universal Studios

Disneyland!

Beach
Stopped at Mt. Rushmore on the way back from the Deadwood Mickelson Trail half marathon in South Dakota:


Spent an afternoon in Red Wing, Minnesota:


My second trip to Kaua'i:

Best running path EVER

On the Chocolate Farm

Hiking in New Mexico:


Visiting the Lobster Shack in Portland, Maine (yep, as seen on Man V. Food):


An awesome family trip (with kids and grandparents) for a week in ALASKA!!






A week in Greece!





Visiting the Hall of Flame fire museum near Phoenix, Arizona:


Running in Atlanta, Georgia:


Crazy happenings on the strip in Las Vegas:


All in all, I think I visited about half the states in 2010. Huh. It all seems like a blur.

LIFE IN GENERAL

L and I still did our "concert series" - seeing NKOTB, BSB, Green Day, Third Eye Blind, Daughtry... probably more that I can't remember. We got season passes to Elitch's (used to be Six Flags) and we took the kids there once a week. They LOVED it. I learned how to snowboard... and if you can imagine, my snowboarding outfit/board is as obnoxious as my running gear:



We had a super fun weekend in the mountains for my older sister's birthday. We went skiing/boarding, tubing... SO FUN!! There were gymnastics classes and swimming lessons, birthday parties and trips to the park. Always something going on!

I finally got a new job... sort of by choice, but not really. I had my old job for about 6.5 years when my hours were cut from full time to part time (due to the economy). Not being able to afford to work part time, I gave my notice of about 6 weeks. I was unemployed for about the same amount of time (also not so awesome), but I landed at a job that keeps me super busy, and of course is full time. So that rocks.

J and I have been together about 1.5 years now. He has been super awesome fantastic with helping me out with A when I am out of town for races.

Mother's Day
Camping
At the Broncos game
So... if you have made it to the end of this blog post (I know, I know, I went a bit overboard with pictures) then to sum up 2010... AWESOME.

Life is not a spectator sport. Get off your butt and get moving.

CAN'T WAIT TO SEE WHAT'S IN STORE FOR 2011. 
STAY TUNED.