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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2 Speeds

Lately I feel as if I only operate on 2 speeds.

and

I can’t seem to find a happy place in the middle.

I think it is all the change going on…but my body is confused.  I am either running around like a crazy person or cuddled up with a pillow.  Where is normal, in the middle, balanced?

I need a plan.  With everything going on, I feel like I’m letting my life direct me instead of the other way around.  I am no fool to think I can control everything in my life, BUT, I have to at least take part in the course of direction.

I haven’t been eating right.  I don’t mean McDonald’s every day, but just inconsistent – no breakfast, skipping meals, going to bed hungry, over eating.  I either run a few miles or do nothing – what happened to a nice walk?  I skip my vitamins too often and my sleep is interrupted (ok, work is playing a BIG part in that, and that is changing soon!)

It’s time to do something about it.  I help people all the time balance life and health and now I have to do it for me.  It starts with you, right?

Today I make a promise to myself to start taking better care of me before I have a HUGE hole to dig out of.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend…and start with me, won’t you?

P.S  Tune in on Monday for a fabulous guest post from my dear friend Terri – beautiful and inspiring!!!

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My New Life

Maybe this will sound a bit over dramatic to those of you that have moved around within different fields of work, but for me, this is a BIG deal.

I’ve been a Biologist for the past 16 years.  I have a bit of a work-a-holic disease, so I’ve poured my heart and soul into my career and I’ve identified myself by it.  I may have pushed it beyond what is normal, but when something is so much a part of your life, it becomes part of who you are.  I will never regret these past 16 years as they have shaped me significantly, I grew up within them and I have met some of my dearest friends during them.

But I’m throwing caution to the wind and jumping into a whole new career!

I quit my job (of course I agreed to stay on part time for a while to help…see, my sickness)!!!  It still doesn’t seem real even as I type it.  I know it will sink in when I’m not regularly getting up at 4am, running in to work in the middle of the night, and being on my feet for 10 hour surgeries or trying to analyze data in a cramped plane seat on my way to a presentation.  I have one more full week next week, then it is off to a new chapter in my life.

Funny thing is, I don’t feel worried.  I’m not sure exactly why, but I feel at complete peace about my decision.  I guess that’s when you know it’s the right decision.  I have caused quite a stir with my decision, and I have huge concerns for my employees I am leaving behind, but I know this is the right path for me.  There comes a time when you are maxed out and need to spread your wings.  I have ensured my employees (I’m like mom to them even though I’m not older than all of them) that I will always be available to them – I have made such great connections and that is what I will miss the most.

Wish me luck.  Hopefully this won’t be me next Friday as I’m driving away…

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Father’s Day

Dads are different.  And I don’t mean in the ha ha funny different (although they can be that too!!).  The impact a father has on a life is just different than any other.  I am blessed with many great relationships in my life and all of them inspire me in different ways,       impact my life in different ways.

Now maybe I’m biased, but I think I have the best one…sorry to the rest of you, I know your dads are great too, but mine takes the cake 🙂  There’s is something very special about a Dad’s love that I am happy to say I have in my life.

We spent Father’s Day over some delicious steamed crabs at the Cracked Claw in Frederick..yum.  It’s been ages since I’ve been out for crabs and that definitely hit the spot.

Happy Father’s Day to all of you dads out there – please know what an influence you have on your daughters’ lives!

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You Have to Love Jamie Oliver

Anyone else watch Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution?  He is great!  He is all about saving the health of the next generation.  Obesity is affecting children to the point that there will be children regularly dying before their parents if it continues on the path that has started.

The problem as I see it…fake food.  No, not the kind that you buy to play pretend kitchen (that stuff is cool!!), but food that is being sold and served around the country.  It’s not real anymore, it’s all processed and full of chemicals.  We are deceived so often by pictures and descriptions that sound healthy…READ the label.  If you can’t pronounce it, it’s probably not real!!

I’m not the perfect eater, by a long stretch, but I’m not easily fooled into believing the marketing hype either.  I eat crap like everyone else once in a while, but I know it’s crap (maybe that’s worse…knowing and still doing it, but I’m working on that!).

I love the movement that is springing up all over to return to whole foods.  Speaking of Whole Foods…LOVE that place!!

A lot of people think that eating whole foods, especially organic, can be so pricey.  It can be.  But it doesn’t have to be.  If you eat seasonally and rely on a mostly plant-based diet (lean meat is fine, I just don’t eat it anymore for personal health reasons) and fish, you can actually save money.  Believe it or not.

I’m going to start featuring some recipes that do exactly this – help you take better care of your health AND save you money!

Happy Tuesday!!

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