Thursday, February 27, 2014


Yesterday as I was running in the frigid cold, I did a lot of thinking.  I had a recent conversation with some friends about influences and the impression we give youngsters about body image and our health. It got me thinking about the way I portray health to my kids and even to the adults around me.

 My goal in life is to always be an encouragement, to never make someone feel bad about themselves or the way they present themselves to this world, but to also be a good example of healthy living and hopefully inspiration to those around me.  Now I'm not giving myself some big pat on the back or acting like I have to all together.  I. DO. NOT. have it all together. :)  My eating is the worst on some days. If you know anything about me then you know that I am addicted to sugar, I love sweets, chocolate is my favorite food group, I drink soda some and could live off of baked goods I'm sure. Don't get me wrong, I love fruits and veggies and make lots of home made healthy foods too, but if you gave me the choice between fruit salad and chocolate I'd pick the latter every time. That being said, I try my hardest to make good food decisions and feed myself and my family a balanced diet as often as possible. 

I am a running fool as many of you already know, and I hope that my kids and those around me see this as a passion and not an exercise obsession.  When I finish a run I don't think about how many calories I burned (most calorie counters are incorrect anyway), I don't go weigh myself to see if I sweated off some pounds.  I run for miles and miles and miles for the love of it.  I go write down my miles in my log, I blog about it, I add up my miles for the week, the month, the year.  I am constantly in a race to better myself, to get faster and fitter, for the love of the run, not for my physique.  I hope that is apparent and I hope my children never think of exercise as a chore or a necessity to be accepted.  My hope is that they find some form of exercise that they love and they are able to enjoy it for a lifetime.  I have been so lucky to find running at a young age and to have people around me that support my "habit" and allow me the time to continue pursuing my goals. 

I have caught myself worrying about weight, what woman doesn't?  As a runner, now training for a marathon, I am often reading articles about "racing weight" and being light for race day.  If you're going to run 26.2 freaking miles you want to carry less weight over that distance if possible.  However, this isn't what is really important.  Being 5'7" and weighing 120 pounds is unreasonable for me, to get there I'd be a crabby ass and surely weaker as well from restricting what I eat so much.  The articles on Runner's World that talk about body fat and being as lean as possible can tear down anyone, even someone who runs 18-20 miles for fun.  It just isn't helpful. One of my favorite runner girls, Lauren Fleshman, recently blogged about being truthful and Keeping it Real. In her blog she talks about how hard it is as a woman to focus on the important things and the high standards we are always held to.  She is a very wise professional runner and I was so happy to read her honest take on body image. I try to fuel my body and provide my muscles with everything they need to keep going at a reasonable pace without bonking out, and for me that includes chocolate sometimes.  Chocolate makes me happy; I could live off of broccoli but I'd be much less pleasant.  My point is I'm not going to count calories or worry about every pound and conform to the suggestions of some article I read in a magazine.  Maybe they encourage some people, but for me they are just a discouragement.  If my times are improving and my legs are feeling good that's what matters most to me.  The numbers on my stopwatch are much  more important to me than the numbers on the bathroom scale or my pants size.  Whew, I'm really getting on a rant here! 

As a mother to two beautiful little people, I here by solemnly vow to focus on being healthy and happy and not worry about what the outside world thinks of my body, my skin, my hair or my makeup.  I hope you all will do the same. 


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Life is expensive

This is not a running post, I repeat this is not a running post.  Today I want to talk about debt, and how life can bring on lots of it, and how life is so gosh darn expensive! 

As a young couple with two kids it was easy for the husband and I to rack up bills and continue adding to our list of debt each month.  Credit cards, car payments, student loans, house payments, it adds up so fast and before you know it you're scraping by each  month just to pay these bills.  Every month we dreaded balancing the checkbook, writing all those checks and then being left with little to last til the next pay day.  I know that plenty, probably most people, that I know end up dealing with this at some point in their lives, and sometimes for a large majority of their lives.  It stinks.  So two years ago we decided to try and change that. We knew it would be hard and we knew it wouldn't happen over night. Most things that are worth it take time and patience.  Just like in my running life, I can't expect results over night, I have to work for every step and know that in the long run it will be worth it!  So back to the money business, the husband read a book by Dave Ramsey, most have heard of his theories on erasing debt.  I am in no way affiliated with the Ramsey theory other than we read the book and followed SOME of his suggestions.  We didn't hide money away in envelopes or any of that business.  What we did was focus on our debt and set a long term goal of two years to pay it all off.  When it started it seemed like it would take FOREVER!  24 months of scraping by, 24 months of seeing little change?!  It was daunting to say the least, but we did it.  Here we are, 26 (yeah it took a couple extra months) months later and we did it.  I'll tell you how. 

The idea is to put as much money towards one bill as possible, choose your smallest bill if possible, that way you can get it paid off fast and move on to the next one.  So we focused all of our extra money, little as it may have been, on the smallest bill we had, Jordan's truck payment. We started by paying an extra $100 towards the truck, we made it a point to write out a budget every month and stick to it, cut the wasteful spending on fast food or that extra crap at Wal-Mart that always ends up in the cart somehow.  Then on the chance months that we made extra, worked overtime, got some extra cash, we put it towards this bill.  We were able to pay the truck off a year early.  Then, since we were able to payoff the truck, we used what we had been putting towards the truck and added that to the amount we were paying on our next bill, Jordan's motorcycle {he is well aware that he is spoiled :)}.  So now we have the truck paid off, and we're paying the usual motorcycle payment, along with the $$ that was going towards the truck.  We paid the motorcycle off that August.  On to the next bill, student loans. We paid both of my student loans off by April 2013.  It seemed to take forever!  They were big bills and sometimes we got behind, thanks to the holidays, taxes, etc.  But we kept at it.  We kept making a budget each month and trying to stick to it.  We kept putting all the extra we had into those bills.  So the truck payment, motorcycle payment and the original amount towards those loans was all going into paying off that debt.  By April 2013 we were left with my car payment, the biggest of the payments.  We rolled all of those previous bill amounts into one big bill and diligently paid a large sum of money towards my car payment every month.  Again, we had set backs, but the next month we went back to paying the big debt off.  We had to borrow from our savings some months, but we always paid back the savings the next month and included that in our budget.  As of February 2014, we have paid off all of our debt, aside from our home.  The idea was never to have the house paid off right away, but all of the rest of the big bills are now gone.  Now all of that money can go towards our house, or our savings/retirement.  Something other than bills and interest and debt!  We are beyond excited to have the weight off of our shoulders.  Those bills could have lasted well into our 30's and instead we have it all paid off.  Of course there will be new cars in the far off future but we hope that by relieving this burden we can save better for those cars before we have to actually buy them. 

I realize it all sounds easier said than done, and that's true, it is easier to write it all down.  But we have the budgets saved on our computer desktop to prove it.  We did it, and you can too.  If you're in need of budgeting advice or advice about debt relief look up the Ramsey method.  It worked for us. I hope this rant helps someone to realize you don't have to be stuck under all of those bills forever.  If it helps no one then so be it, but this is my proclamation to the online world, the Beard's are finally free! :)

Have a great day.  Get out there and do something to make your future brighter!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Clean(er) eating

Seeing as my usual preference for food involves chocolate, my diet could use a little tweaking. :)

So yesterday I downloaded the Runner's World cookbook on my Nook and made myself very hungry. We headed to the produce section of the grocery store and I bought foods in every color. I also bought rice and oat flour for baking and more quinoa. I'm not a total doofus to healthy eating, I just have a hard time resisting sweets.

So when we got home I made some paleo style chocolate chip cookies, substituting oat and rice flour for the almond flour my recipe called for. They turned out okay, nothing like the real thing but they are a lot better than no chocolate!

Today I enjoyed some spaghetti squash with red sauce for lunch after my run and a homemade oatmeal protein bar as a snack.

Supper was a delicious spinach, sweet potato and bacon salad along with pan grilled tilapia and egg noodles topped with stewed tomatoes.

Overall it was a good day of food for me, which is a much bigger accomplishment than any run I do. But of course the running counts too. I got in 7 miles through the horrible wind. My legs are worn out from this week so I cut my 10 miler a little short. Happy to get a little rest and recovery in.

Hoping for more sunny days soon!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Longest long run

Yesterday I told myself I was going to run 18 miles and through rain, sunshine and wind I continued to remind myself what I set out to do.  At the end of my 2:32:40 run I had covered 18 miles, my farthest run in 10 years, probably the farthest I've ever run without walking in my entire life!!  The training plan I am using for the Christie Clinic Marathon is based on time intervals instead of distances.  I run for 2 hours, 1.5 hours, 1 hour, etc.  Yesterday was a 2.5 hour day for my long run, I usually cover about 17 miles in that time but I told myself I wasn't stopping until my watch beeped for the 18th time, thankfully I only had to run an extra couple of minutes to reach that goal!  8:29/pace for the run overall, which I felt pretty good about considering I ran some mega hills, had to stomp through plenty of snow and ice, and it rained for the first 10 miles!  Here are my splits. Mile three includes a big hill that is 0.8 miles long that I run almost every day, but it gets me every time.
I feel like I stayed pretty consistent, which is always the goal on my long runs.  I want to be used to running even paces so that on race day I can keep up with the pace group until near the end and then I hope to push ahead so that I'm well under my goal pace. 
This marathon training has taught me so much about myself this winter. 1. I whine a lot (haha), especially when it's below freezing and I have a two hour run to do, or if I get sick! 2. Aside from my whining, I have become extremely dedicated. I may take a break for a week but I always come back the next week with the same goal in mind, I haven't given up. 3. I am much stronger than I give myself credit for and my training and paces have proven that to me. 4. I LOVE the long runs.  I have loved running for as long as I can remember, but the long runs give me the biggest thrill.  After this 18 miler I couldn't stop telling people about it and posting it wherever I could find.  My poor family can only hear so much. :)   
Today my legs are sore and heavy!  The weather is a gorgeous 57 degrees out today, but I don't have anyone to keep my Sweet Caroline while I run, so I headed to the YMCA to get in my run.  I rode 4 miles on the stationary bike to loosen up my legs some, and then stretched and ran 3 miles on the cushy indoor track.  So far it has been a great week of training.  67 days til race day!!!!!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Long time running

Cannot believe it's been 6+ months since I updated this blog!  I am a horrible slacker in the world of blogging and social media.  A lot has gone on since my last post in JULY so I'll try to update a little.

End of July I got another high hamstring issue going on, along with a neck/upper back injury that sent me to the chiropractor for the first time.  I was already signed up to do the Fenton Sprint Triathlon on August 3rd so I mustered on, icing and resting a lot in hopes of still finishing the race. We started our Festus Fun Runners group in July also, and had quite a turn out the first couple meetups.  :)

August 3rd was the Fenton Sprint Triathlon. 300meter swim, 13.5 mile bike ride, 3.1 mile run.  The race started out fine, got a FLAT TIRE on the bike and was going to DNF for the first time but an awesome young triathlete named Zack had gotten lost on the course and was so far behind he knew he wasn't going to finish well so he gave me his bike (that I didn't know how to shift because it was quite old) and he walked my bike back to transition! So I finished the bike on a borrowed bike and then hauled some ass on the run to try to make up for lost time.  I ended up still getting 3rd in my age group and would have probably won my age group without the darn flat tire!  My run split made up a lot of lost time, woohoo.

After the Fenton race I decided to take some time off and let my hamstring heal.  We stayed a couple nights in St. Charles near the Katy Trail and rode our bikes a lot and I did a lot of cross training for the month of August in hopes of still running the half marathon at the end of September.  Also in August my little man started Kindergarten, turned 6 years old! and my Caroline turned 2!  I am so blessed.
In September I met my sweet Josee Hope from Australia through a Facebook page called "I run for Michael".  Runners are paired up with buddies with special needs so that they can dedicate their training and racing to their buddy and raise awareness about these special needs.  Josee has T21 or Down's Syndrome. She is the most beautiful little girl I've ever seen and has the most wonderful family.  I asked if I could dedicate my 21K (half marathon) race to her and her mother agreed.  We weren't officially matched because there is a sign up and waiting list but I wanted someone to race for so we did this unofficially.  The BAJA race went beautifully.  I got 1st in my age group and ran a 1:48:10 for my 2nd half marathon, killing my previous PR of 2:06!  It was a beautiful sunny day and I got to run for my sweet girl.
In October I upped my miles a TON and decided to hit a new training plan guided by Arther Lydiard, an old time coach from New Zealand.  I have a book of his that my super speedy brother let me borrow and based my training off of his plan.  Basically, run a lot!  I was mostly injury free through October and won my first 5k in Ste. Gen in a time of 22:46.  It was a Halloween race, Jordan dressed as Forrest Gump, hilarious times were had.  I ran 132  miles in October!
November was another month of heavy miles, but it brought about another hamstring injury and a sore calf after a race at the end of the month.  I time trialed a 5K by myself in 21:45 one morning before work, and time trialed a half marathon by myself in 1:45:15 another day on my long run. :) The Great River Road Run was a 10 mile race. I finished in 1:15:11 or 7:29/pace for the 10.05 mile course. I was the 11th female finisher out of over 700+ people.  But this was the race that would make my leg ache.  I rounded out the month with 149 miles and a plan to rest in December to gear up for my 4 months of heavy training for my spring marathon.

December was a rest month, although I won another 5k at the beginning of the month.  My time was slower than usual, because it was in the snow!  Only 103 miles in December.  We had a wonderful Christmas and lots of time with family. It was a good month to take a break.
January brought on horribly cold temps and lots and lots of snow to derail my training. I was shooting for 145-150 miles for the month and I almost made it. 136 miles ran, and injury free!  I ran in 15 degree weather, snow and rain.  It was a long month and I wasn't always super positive.  Thankfully I have good support via social media and some friends were able to remind me why I was out there trudging through the weather to get in my training.  I managed to run an impromptu time trial half marathon by myself in 1:39:45, for a 7:30ish paced run.  I was quite proud and on a runner's high for the rest of the week!
February has been cold and snowy as well and has brought on lots of sickness in our house.  I'm at 42.2 miles for the month, which is no where near where I need to be for my marathon training, but it will be okay.  April 26th is race day in Champaign, Illinois and it can't come soon enough!  Actually it's spring time that can't come soon enough, I'm over this winter! 
Alright, update completed.  I will try to post more often!  Sheesh! 
(if you read all of that, you rock!)  :)
And a little motivation from the gals over at Distant Runners.