Two Weeks In

Two Weeks In….a lifetime to go!!!

The first two weeks back in training mode have gone really well.  I’m consitent with 3-4 miles 3-4 times a week.  The plan is to keep that up for the next 4 weeks, then jump on a more structured 1/2 marathon training plan for the San Diego Half Marathon on March 11, 2012!!

But I have EXCITING news…after my begging and pleading (and strategically placed mugs of hot chocolate and truffles), I did not succeed in convincing Katie that the Hot Chocolate 15K (on her birthday) was something we just couldn’t miss.  BUT, the San Diego Half, she is in!!!

This is my prediction of our smiling faces at the finish!!! (my apologies to the lady in all her glory in the background…)

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The Need To Get Back On Track

How is it that you train so hard, have so much drive and determination, then reach your goal and decide to take a month off????


ok, this turned into 6 months…

I opened this blog tonight to start again and the above Post Title and first question were waiting for me as a draft (since June)…interesting.

I thought this would be the perfect place to jump right in.

What better way to motivate yourself than to sign yourself up for another 1/2 Marathon?  That’s what I did…the San Diego 1/2 on March 11, 2012.

But I want this time to be different, not just a start to a training program for a race, but the start to REALLY taking care of myself.

Today I ran the first 3 miles of my San Diego 1/2 marathon training, but it’s also the 1st 3 miles.period.

Here’s to working hard to take care of me.

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Something to make me smile…

I’m a bit frazzled.  I didn’t think switching to a new career was enough stress, so I decided it was time to move too!!  Needless to say, I’m a bit overwhelmed at the moment.  It’s all positive energy going on, but wow…I’m like COCOA PUFFS!

So, to make me smile today, I decided to share how very weird my dogs are…enjoy!!

Gotta love ’em!!

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Gabriella Rose

She is my new precious little niece..isn’t she adorable???

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Cats and Birds and Rats, Oh My!!!

My weeks are always full of animals…I live with 3 large brown dogs, so there’s no escaping that.  This week was a full on immersion in animals (and most of it wasn’t pretty!)

The first one is….my new office pet.  I go into the office 2 days a week and it’s a very energetic, fun place to be.  BUT, the best part is ALWAYS…an office pet.  Meet Boo.

Yes, he is as mischievous as he looks…worse in fact!

Then came lunch at Panera later in the week.  I was running around to appointments and errands and I thought it would be nice and relaxing to go have lunch, read a book, just take some down time for me.  Well, didn’t quite work out for me.  Have I mentioned that I’m not a fan of birds?  Some of you might recall my bird incident from earlier this year.

These were considerably smaller, but JUST as feisty!!

They approached me as a group, then their leader tried to come in for the kill.

Notice the closeness of my sandwich…which is a reflection of the closeness of ME!  Not Happy!!

But it all seems trivial next to my biggest disaster of the week.

I took Emma for a bath earlier in the week and bought her a turtle baby at the check out (those of you that have kids…dog store check out lines are JUST AS BAD!).  Anyway, when Emma has had enough of a toy, the boys claim it.  Levi typically prances around the house showing it off.  He doesn’t like to play with toys, but he wants you to think he finds them to be wonderful (or he’s just saying na na na na na na to the others since he knows they want it!!

Picture this.  I’m sitting on my couch in my pj’s drinking my vitamins waiting for the dogs to finish carrying on outside after eating their breakfast.  Levi rushes in and goes past me to the bedroom.  He sometimes misses me sitting somewhere and goes to search for me, so naturally I thought that’s what he had done.  I called for him and he ran to the living room, mouth full of “turtle baby”…or so I thought.  He jumped up beside me and proceeded to drop his present into my lap.  If my memory serves me correctly, it looked something like this:


Ok, maybe not QUITE that bad.  But bad.  Really, really bad.  Dead rat.  Just dead.  Still warm.  Heavy.  Did I mention dead?

I screamed. And then I kept screaming.  And then I jumped up and my vitamins (16 oz of PURPLE vitamins) and a rat (a dead rat) flew in the air.  The vitamins went all over the couch, the rat flew into the air and landed with a thud on the hard wood floor.  Heavy. Dead. Warm. Rat.

I’m pretty sure my entire neighborhood heard me screaming.  I couldn’t stop.  I finally mustered up the strength to unravel an entire roll of paper towels and cover it in them.  Then I used the corn on the cob tongs (yep, that’s right…don’t say you wouldn’t do it to…they were on the outside of 3000 paper towels!!) to transport him to a trash bag.  Then I spent the next 20 minutes cleaning the couch (and regaining my composure).  Then I spent the next 30 minutes trying to convince Levi that he was not “bad dog” as he seemed to assume my screaming at the top of my lungs and throwing things all around the living room meant when all he tried to do was bring me a present.

My heart rate is up just writing this!

I’ve never even seen a mouse or a mouse dropping for that matter anywhere near my house.  I guess he’s a hunter, so he went out there and hunted him out.

Every time Levi comes in the house now, he goes through a proper mouth check.  New rule: (that I didn’t know we needed at the house) Nothing that lives outside (ESPECIALLY A RAT) is EVER to enter the house.

I think I am finally recovered, but it didn’t help to see this commercial tonight:

Have a good weekend!!!

Stay tuned for pictures of my new baby niece!!!

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My Saturday Breakfast Date

This past weekend was a series of running here and there and back again…you know the kind.

But, in the middle, I was able to enjoy a breakfast date in York with Chloe and her mom 🙂

Monica and I rarely have time to catch up (and in this case, it is not always my schedule…it’s usually hers!!)

It was nice to sit outside on a beautiful sunny morning and just touch base about the “happenings” in our worlds.

An update on taking care of me….

I have completed a FULL week of vitamins every day.  I wasn’t too much of a slacker here, but it was an easy way to cut out a few minutes in the morning, skip the vitamins and just get to them later.  Later didn’t always come.  So, week 1 down.

I also started back to Yoga (and boy could I tell it had been awhile!)  I was practicing regularly when I was training for the 1/2 marathon but have fallen COMPLETELY off the wagon since.  So, yesterday was day 1 back…yay!

I watched an old Tivo’d Dr. Oz this weekend about energy and I loved the simplicity of it.  I need to focus on better sleep (which is already WAY better due to the new job!).  A suggestion given was to turn on “background” soothing music ~45 minutes before bed.  It would be when you’re washing your face, cleaning up the dishes, preparing lunch for the next day, whatever.  That is supposed to help prepare you for sleep.  I’m going to give it a try!  On the other end of that, the suggestion was to wake up slowly.  Take deep (6 seconds each) inhales and exhales, then stretch when you sit up.

A step at a time, then one more.  That’s what it takes to achieve anything.

Have a great week everyone!!

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Emma’s life

A lot of people ask me what’s involved in caring for Emma now that she is an insulin-dependent diabetic.  So, I thought I would put it together for you.

Consistency is the key.

She gets her glucose level checked twice a day, gets insulin twice a day, and eats twice a day.  At approximately the same time.  Every day.  There is a window, but it’s not very big, so I have become much more schedule-conscious.  I was always regular, but that has improved twenty-fold!

So, twice a day I get out the suppliesAs soon as I open the “hospital drawer” where everything is kept, she makes her way over to me.  I sit on the floor and she gets herself ready.


Then I flip back her ear to locate a good “spot” to prick for blood

Then the part I hate, I have to prick her. Every day. Twice a day.  I hate it…she doesn’t seem to mind so much!

I collect the blood and get a number.

There is an ideal range – I keep her a little higher than normal so I don’t risk her bottoming out (that could cause seizures and, well, death, and we DEFINITELY don’t want that!!).

Then she gets to eat!

That’s her FAVORITE part!!  I give her the appropriate amount of insulin based on the number, and record it all in a log.

Then it’s off to relaxing when the whole process is over.

Then repeat.  Every 12 hours.

I think she secretly loves this because she gets a TON of attention that the boys don’t.

She’s worth it of course…my little brown dog!

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First Day of School

Today was my first official day of school work.  Ok, so it felt like my first day of school.  🙂

Don’t laugh too hard…you know you all have one like this!!!

My hair isn’t too different, I might want to consider doing something about that 🙂

Anyway, I had a really great day and I’m really excited about this decision!

This is following a great holiday weekend as well…

Saturday – Golf!

Sunday – cookout at Katies!

(Beach picture from a few years ago – I forgot to break out the camera Sunday!!)

Monday – 4th of July celebration at Baker Park with BATHTUB RACES!!

Bill and I picked Bert and Ernie to be Best in Show…and they won! (not the race, they were SLOOOOOOOW)

That’s the quick recap!  Hope everyone had a great long holiday weekend…and wished America a Happy Birthday!

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I had the wrong day

Happy Wednesday!  I hope everyone got a chance to take a look at Terri’s guest post from Monday.  She is such an inspiration to me.  (AND it’s her birthday today!!!  Happy Birthday!!)

I made a sign for her on the day of the marathon with one minor problem (ok, I use minor very loosely):

Had the wrong day.  Yep, you read that correctly.  Wrong day.  Well, I guess it’s the thought that counts, right?  I hope so, since the wrong day is a PRETTY big deal.  Ooops!

Onto the day today…

Today is my last Wednesday at work.  To catch up for those of you that don’t know, I quit my job.  This week has been pretty bittersweet.  I have agreed to stay on part time for an undetermined amount of time to help during what may end up being a lengthy transition.  But, after Friday, however you look at it, this is my last week at a job that has been my life for 16 years.  I know I don’t look that old 🙂

There is A LOT I will miss, but miss it I will – that’s how you know something was meaningful to you.  If I was running and laughing out of the building I may have wondered why I wasted the past 16 years of my life.  But I’m not, it’s been a great part of my life.

But onward and upward…and I’m VERY excited.

Last night, my friend Jennifer took me to Dogfish Head Alehouse in Gaithersburg.  Great ahi tuna sandwich (no pictures due to the distraction of the accompanying margaritas!!).  We had a great time and although I know we will remain friends, it will be in a different capacity – as will all of the relationships I’ve built.  We laughed and talked about the great chapters we could write about Poolesville!!!

This morning, I celebrated my last Wednesday with some Overnight Oats.  I’ve read about them, but never gave them a try.  My new plan of taking care of myself, starting with breakfast, makes these a must.

Before bed, you can mix everything (I wanted until the morning for the raspberries so they weren’t soggy), put into the fridge and in the morning….you have oatmeal.

In the mix:

1/2 cup oats

1/3 cup almond milk

1/3 cup plain yogurt

chia seeds (for omega III!!)

Delicious.  Be creative.  They are very customizable to anything you want to add.  I am much more likely to take the 2 minutes at night and mix up the ingredients to talk myself out of skipping breakfast in the morning when I could really use 10 more minutes of pillow time.

I like them cold, but you could toss the oat portion in the microwave quickly if you want the warm oatmeal experience.

Back to the golf channel…watching a friend attempt to qualify for the PGA championship!!! Bill is caddying for him…fun!!

Yep, sometimes the duties of the caddy include climbing the tree to look for the ball 🙂

Happy Wednesday!!

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My Marathon Experience…a guest post

Hi everyone, my name is Terri McKenzie and I have been a friend of April’s since the first grade.  I am honored that she asked me to write about my marathon experience. By no means am I an expert in running but I hope you are able to gain some insight about the sport and perhaps I can persuade a few to lace up their sneakers and go for a jog.

I started running six years ago with my friend/neighbor Michelle as we were both going through our own personal transitions in life. We both played sports in high school but as we entered our early 30’s we realized running may not be as easy as we thought. We started by doing the walk/run method; we would run for a minute, walk for 2 minutes, until we finished 5k (3.1 miles). Eventually we would find a destination (run to the next stop sign, run to the next mailbox, etc.) until we finished 5k. One morning Michelle came to my door beaming that she finished the course without stopping to walk. Because of my competitive spirit I ran the entire course the next day. I signed up for my first 5k race the following month. I was so nervous! The course was very challenging; more hills than what I was used to around my neighborhood. After mile 2 I needed a walk break and caught up with a 16-year-old girl who I noticed was wearing a knee brace. She proceeded to tell me she ran cross country for her high school team and recently had knee surgery. This was her first race after her procedure. We encouraged each other as we ran the rest of the race. I barely finished ahead of her with a time over 30 minutes and was so proud of myself that I “beat” a 16-year-old girl with a knee brace. I’m sure she was upset that she was bested by an amateur 30-something slightly overweight woman.

I continued to run around my neighborhood and mapped out a 5k course at my parent’s neighborhood too. I competed in other 5k races and increased my time somewhat. I actually was able to place in my age group in some of the races I did. Eventually I worked my up to 5 miles and then 10 miles. After running for 5 years I decided to train for a half marathon last summer. I met my goal of finishing under 2 ½ hours and ran the entire race.  At the end of last year I decided I’d try to pull off what I thought would be impossible-the marathon!

First of all, I would not recommend training for a marathon if you have other time-consuming events occurring in your life such as planning for a wedding. Marathon training takes a lot of your personal time. There are many training programs out there and I decided to follow Hal Higdon’s method which is an 18-week program running 3 days during the week and long runs on the weekend. Each weekend, the long run gets longer, peaking at 20 miles three weeks before the marathon. There is a taper period which allows you to recharge before the race. The program also includes step back weeks in order to avoid overtraining. I did not complete the cross-training portion of the training as the running itself took a lot of time and energy for me.

Secondly, not only is marathon training a journey for you physically and mentally but it is also a journey for your support system as well. They have also sacrificed their time in having to pick up more chores around the house, taking on more responsibilities with child rearing, and giving up time with you so that you can train for this accomplishment that only a small percentage of people can say they did.  I know without my fiancée I would not have been able to train for this race.

During the week I would run the courses around my house that I had mapped out. I have 3 mile, 4 mile, and 5 mile courses which I would add in order to complete a certain mileage recommended on a certain day (i.e. Tuesday run 4 miles, Wednesday run 8 miles, and Thursday run 3 miles).  For my long runs I drove to a rail trail that extends from Maryland into York, PA. This was where the race took place. The scenery is so beautiful and it is a flat trail. I had to learn how to pace myself during the long runs that took me past 13 miles. One Saturday I was scheduled to run 15 miles. I thought it would be a piece of cake (its only two miles more than the race I did last year right?) Oh my!  Was I wrong!  After mile 13 I had cramping in my legs and by mile 14 had to walk to finish. Two weeks later I was scheduled to run 17 miles. I ran into the same problems only this time I was crying and had to walk to finish from miles 14-17. Afterwards I realized you cannot go out too fast and still expect to keep that same pace without encountering some problems. After some research I found that I hit “the wall” way too early in my distance running.  Once I found a good pace for myself I was able to run 18 miles and then the 20 mile training runs. I actually started to look forward to these long runs as the weeks went by.

After training for 4 ½ months the day of the marathon had finally come. I was so apprehensive but yet excited at the same time. The comrade was so awesome! Lining up to the start were so many different people at different abilities. Everyone was smiling and ready to begin the journey.

The race began at 6:30am. I waved to my fiancée as he waited with the other groups of supportive friends, families, and partners. My plan was to run a 12 min/mile pace but after miles one and two I was sub-10. I knew if I didn’t slow down the finish would be very difficult. The race had so many encouraging volunteers. At every water station there were cheering teenagers, toddlers ringing cow bells, or adults reassuring you along the way. Close to the halfway point there was a band playing and volunteers were wearing Mexican hats! Even though you were tired just the energy from these people kept you going. Since the course is what is considered a “loop” course runners who were ahead of me started to run by. Even though they were going to finish before me some runners were very encouraging telling me to keep going, you’re doing good, etc.


I was still feeling good by mile 17. In the distance I saw a man ahead taking pictures of me. As I got closer I realized it was my fiancée, Mac. He had Gatorade and a sweat towel in case I needed it. I don’t think he realized just his presence was enough encouragement for me.

After mile 20 I started to get nervous as the training program only takes you this point. (A marathon is 26.2 miles). Questions started going through my head. At this point I started to count down the miles- 5 more miles, four more miles, etc. I started to think of the courses around my house that were these distances. Some runners were starting to slow down and eventually walk. Other than walking through the water stations to ensure proper hydration my goal was to run the entire race.

The course takes you off the rail trail, up a side road, and then into the track of York College. As I was running along the end of the trail which is near a side road, I saw my dad slowly driving past in his car.

He had his window down and was yelling for me to keep going. Tears started welling in my eyes and I thought about all the important people I have in my life who mean so much to me. I knew I was going to complete this race and the training from the past couple of months led up to this. I entered the track and the over the loud speaker I could hear, “Terri McKenzie from York”.

I came across the finish line in 5 hours, 12 minutes. No, I didn’t qualify for the Boston Marathon or place in my age group but at that moment I had never felt so proud of myself. I did it-I ran a marathon!

Congratulations, Terri!  I am so proud of you – thank you for being my inspiration!!!

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