Saturday, October 25, 2014


When we first rented this house, we had no idea that the tree in the backyard was an apple tree.  We just thought it was a crabapple tree, because there were a profusion of small green apples all over it.  And then we moved in and got the surprise of a lifetime:  those little green apples were destined to become real apples.

I had every intention of thinning the tree heavily, so that we got a sold crop of large apples come fall, but with work, school, moving, and marathon training, my attempts at thinning out the apple tree were rather limited.  Suddenly, it was fall, and the branches on the tree were literally bent to the ground, they were so heavy with fruit.  And thus began the state of appletopia.

The apple tree is entirely organic, and so little critters have had their free reign to nibble on apples to their hearts' content.  At first, I thought this would mean that 80% of our apples would be headed directly for the compost bin.  Imagine my surprise when one day, I picked all of these apples that were fit for human consumption:

Then 2 days later, I was able to pick these as well.

We still don't have all of the apples off the tree, either.  Most of the ones left are really high up on the tree, and we don't have a ladder yet, so they are out of range.  The ones that are lower are pretty much no good at this point, and headed for the compost bin.  I'm not sad about it, though.  This is a lot of apples to find good uses for.

So far this Autumn, we have made 2 batches of apple crisp, 2 batches of applesauce, 5 loaves of apple cinnamon swirl bread, and an apple galette.  We've also been eating apples like they're going out of style, and giving them away.  It doesn't seem to make a real dent in our supply.  Hopefully tomorrow I'll be making some apple butter and more applesauce, which should (fingers crossed) dwindle our supply... just in time for us to buy a ladder and finish getting all those apples off the darn tree.

Seriously, it's like an apple orchard threw up all over my house.  I'm not sad about it.  I just wish we had an applejack press so that we could be making cider with all of this goodness.

What is your favorite way to eat an apple?  We keep hearing about the same apple recipes over and over... I need some fresh ideas!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

For my best guy

As I sit here typing this, it's his birthday eve, and he's fixing my driver's side window on my car, which randomly broke on my way to the store on Monday.  Tomorrow, on his actual birthday, when you all are actually reading this, I'll be going to class, and won't get home until late.

But it would be super, duper, uber rude of me if I didn't take the time to tell the cheese in my nachos (metaphorically speaking, dear), how how I puffy heart love him, and think that 31 has never, ever looked so sexy.

Yes, even when you're creepy, or you make the strange faces that I don't like so much.

Basically, you're just my favorite, end of story.  And you keep walking in while I'm writing this, and it's getting kind of weird, so I'm just going to be done now.

Oh wait, Happy birthday, love of my life.  There, now I'm done.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Marathons: the upsides

I really feel like my recap of the marathon was kind of a downer, which is sad to me, because while the day overall wasn't perfect, I actually had some really spectacular moments on Sunday, and some outstanding days of training over the last 10.5 months.  So today, I really want to celebrate the best parts of the marathon with you.  Does that sound good?  Yes?  Great.

1)  Doing the race with my childhood best friend.  I legitimately would not have shown up to the starting line were it not for her.  She's the best.

2)  Seeing people who clearly get the senior discount at Denny's kicking my hiney when they were at mile 18 of the marathon, and I was at 13.5.  That was indescribably cool.

3)  This one takes a little back story.  Long time readers may remember that Ammon and I went to the zoo for my birthday a couple of years ago.  While we were eating lunch, we were sitting next to these guys in their mid-20's who looked like meat-headed frat boys.  We kept hearing them saying "solid" and "Dude", and looking up stuff on their phones, and at first we thought they were really into the St. Louis Cardinals, because we kept hearing weird phrases like, "That Cardinal, he's a great guy, totally solid".  No no, it turns out they were both in seminary to become Catholic priests, and were debating the finer points of their favorite religious leaders.  Using words like "Bro", and "solid", and "dude".  It is by far one of the best and funniest things to have ever happened to me.  Until Sunday, when I SAW THEM AGAIN!  We ran by a Priory, and standing out in front were 3 priests in Cassocks, totally decked out, and cheering on runners!  As I jogged by, I could hear them, and it was obviously them, and it was the best thing ever, because they hadn't changed one bit, and still seemed as meat-headedly frat-boyish as ever.

4)  The signs that said "If running a marathon was supposed to be easy, it would be called your mom."

5)  As I was running through the winding park that never ended, I passed a guy who'd made his own shirt.  It said, "If Britney Spears could survive 2007, you can survive this race".  It was amazing, and when I told him that, he said that he was glad it could give me hope.

6)  Seeing Shae still going strong when she was at mile 24, and I was right around 20 (I think).  I yelled loudly for her, but she was in the zone and didn't hear me.  Everyone around her did, and they all told me that they were glad I was so enthusiastic.

7)  The people who are suffering as much as you are, and their attempts to help you make it to the finish line in one piece.  The number of times I heard, "let's just shuffle together for a little bit," was humbling, because that was all we could do at that point, shuffle together for a couple hundred yards until one person fell back to walk again.

8)  The strangers on the patios of bars and restaurants that dutifully cheered for all of us as we trudged along.

9)  Hearing people along the course reminding us runners that our marathon was just the victory lap to all of the training we had done to get to that moment.

10)  When an ambulance driver cheered for me at mile 17, and told me that I looked strong.  Out of anyone, I believed him the most.

11)  At mile 25.8 when I had to slow down to let an ambulance come through the intersection, and the race photographer right in front of me told me, "they aren't here for you, obviously!"

12)  When I got into the world's longest finishing chute, and I could see Ammon waiting right by the finish line for me with the biggest smile in the world on his face.

13)  When I stopped running, and I was sobbing, and the nice lady put the medal over my head, and told me that I had truly earned my medal.

14)  When Ammon actually hopped the barrier in the finishers only area to give me a hug and congratulate me

15)  Getting to take my shoes off after running so many miles.  It was a special moment.

Have you ever had a really random and awesome thing happen to you in a big event?

Monday, October 20, 2014

How do you follow up a marathon?

I feel like whenever you accomplish a huge feat, there's this kind of... sadness.  Mystery.  Looming question.  You work so hard for something, and suddenly, it's all over.  What the heck are you supposed to do when that all ends?
 Other than lay face-down sideways on the bed for a long time.  That's a given.

The natural answer is to find a new metaphorical mountain to climb.  It's certainly not a bad answer, I do have some big fitness goals on the horizon, and I am excited to get a jump on those.  But at the same time, those big physical goals take up a lot of time, and require sacrifices in other areas of your life.  Less time for schoolwork, less time for friends and family, it all takes its toll, and then it's over, and it's so easy to fill that void with the next obvious to grasp for goal.  Obviously, it only makes sense to rest for a few weeks, and then start off-season training, so that when February comes along, triathlon training can begin in earnest.  It makes sense.  It is what I have said all along that I was working toward, and I truly believe that.  There is a butterfly in my stomach, the tri-butterfly, and it just won't quit fluttering around in there until I give it what it wants.

There are other goals, though.  Goals like finishing school, finding a grown-up Accounting job, becoming financially stable, moving across the country (have I not mentioned that in a while?  Yeah.  We still want that), and the big goal, the one that has been too scary to even mention.  The goal that I think about each and every day, and wonder if I'm a big enough woman to handle.  They're all worthy goals.  They are all things that I want, but they are less tangible than an athletic accomplishment.  Sure, with school I get a piece of paper, but with a marathon I get a big heavy sparkly medal, a t-shirt, and awkward race photographers taking my picture as I hyperventilate my way across the finish line.  You don't get that when you become financially stable, which is probably why so many Americans never attain that particular milestone.

But what about that goal that has REALLY been too scary to reach for?  That goal that changes everything about life?  The one that makes running a marathon seem absolutely insignificant.  THAT GOAL.  There's a tangibility to it that nobody can deny.  More so than almost anything I will ever do in life.  It's terrifying to me.  I don't feel "grown-up" enough yet, which is funny, because for years I thought I was plenty grown up enough to go for it, when I most certainly was not, and now the people around me seem to think that I'm ready, and I'm suddenly facing doubt.

It's a confusing time to be me right now, that's for sure.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Running a marathon: How it all went down

GUYS:  I ran a marathon today!

Holy crap that happened.  ALL of the feels happened.  It was not a sunshine and roses race, not by a longshot. I didn't anticipate that it would be, though.  Just as the half marathon was once a worthy opponent, now I turn to larger ways of getting my behind handed to me on a platter.  It did not disappoint.

The first thing you should know is that this was not the race that I wanted to be my "first" (and possibly last fora very long time) marathon.  There is a smaller marathon that goes right through the best parts of Boulder County that I wanted to use to pop my marathon running cherry, but the above pictured childhood best friend was on a cruise, so we picked this one.  And it's a good thing, too:  the awesome race in Boulder County was cancelled a few weeks before it was supposed to go down, and the organizer is looking at fraud charges.  Cool stuff.

The next thing you should know, or actually remember, is that I've been working away at this goal for 10.5 months now.  Remember this post?  It's amazing how many of those goals I saw come to life this year. 

My marathon morning was carefully planned to be as easy and stress free as possible.  It was mandatory that we pick up packets either Friday or Saturday, in order to avoid race morning chaos.  So I woke up at 5:15 on Saturday morning, and drove an hour to pick up my packet and get a picture that made me look awfully wide.  Professional photographer, my rear end.

Shae and her husband met me at the expo, and it was fun to get to spend some time with them.  The rest of Saturday was kind of a blur of regular errands, chores, and trying to figure out all of my marathon preparations.  You have to be really ready if you're going to run for that long, and I wanted to ensure that I was as ready as I could be.  So I staged all of my things in our office, carefully laid out to make life easy on my brain at 5:00am.  Garmin peacefully charging on the computer, clothes over the back of a chair, socks, shoes, even the headband I was going to wear.

Getting ready for the race is where things started to go wrong.  Why?  Oh, because that peacefully charging Garmin continued to stay plugged into my computer for the entirety of my run.  Oops.  So instead, I downloaded the RunKeeper app (free), and used its interval timer.  I had zero timing or pace data, but some random strangers I met in the port-a-potty line, Shae, and I all agreed that it would probably be good if I didn't spend my entire first marathon stressing out about paces, splits, and goal times, but instead let the race come to me.

So that is what I did:  I let the race come to me.  For the first 16 miles, my paces ranged from 11:30 to 12:45.  I felt really good up until mile 8, when my feet started to hurt, but I determined that finishing a marathon was going to hurt, whether I walked or ran, and one of those would get me to the finish line (and food) much faster.  So I pushed on.  Things started to get ugly around 16 miles, and only got worse from there to the finish line.  Longer walking breaks, fewer smiles and cheers for my fellow runners.  I knew that the marathon would be work, but I was surprised at how alone and isolated I was on the course - Denver Rock 'n' Roll maintains a strict 6 hour cutoff for the marathon, and I think that it discourages a lot of newbie runners or slower runners from even trying.  When we split off from the half marathon at mile 13, I went from being surrounded by hundreds of other runners to being out there with a small handful (on average, I could see 5-10 runners ahead or behind me).  It was okay for a bit, because we could see faster marathon runners going in the other direction, so there were still people to cheer for.  Then we entered the park of doom.

Duhn, duhn, duhn.  Seriously.  Ask anyone who ran about Cheeseman Park, and they will all say the same thing.  It was winding, and it was desolate, and it went on FOREVER (or 2 miles.  It felt like forever).  It was beautiful ,the park separates the Denver Museum and the Zoo, but gosh, it was tough to run by myself in there for so dang long.  Mile 16, the mile that signaled the beginning of the end took place in there.

By mile 19, I felt utterly demoralized and cooked.  That's because at mile 19, you have to run by EVERYONE FINISHING THE RACE.  That's right, there are people cheering, and there's noise, and finishers are being announced, and there you are, with 7.2 miles to go.  I tried reminding myself that that is just "a shorter long run", and easy to put in the books.  But I also knew that I was working multiple blisters, was exhausted, out of fuel (thankfully the aid station at mile 19 had some Gu left - I really needed it!), and over running.  I was trying to text Ammon to come bring me some fuel while I was running, which wasn't working out so well.  He called me at mile 20, as I was walking and feeling like I had made a terrible mistake signing up for a full marathon.  I knew that I could finish within the time limit at that point, and I told him that I was thinking about walking it in.  I then told him that I had to go, because I was "kind of in the middle of a thing".  This, by the way, is the best thing to tell someone when they call you and you're in the middle of a marathon.

The good news was, even though I was tempted, oh so tempted, to just walk my way to the finish line, I didn't give up.  I readjusted so that I walked for 4 minutes, then jogged for 1, a reversal of my usual run/walk interval.  It wasn't ideal, but it was my race, and I wanted to finish it on my terms.  That meant running as much as I could, even if it amounted to hardly anything.  I also set the intention to jog as many downhills as I could, figuring at that point that I needed to take every advantage I could.
 That's the only picture I took on course.  Mile #24 signaled hope for me, hope that I might not die out there.

Eventually, oh so slowly, the last .5 mile set itself up before me.  There was a bar that had tons of people on the patio, and when I came plodding by, by myself at this point, they started screaming and cheering for me.  I was so overcome that I started crying, and didn't stop.  Those people put some rocket fuel in my legs, because I was able to start jogging again, and made my way to the finish line, where Ammon was waiting for me with so much enthusiasm and excitement, that the Emcee asked if I knew that guy, and when I nodded through my sobs, she added that "It seems like he really likes me".  I think so too, Emcee lady.  

And that's the story all about how I became a marathon runner over the course of 26.2 miles and 5:49:11 today.  I'll take it with pride, because those miles and I fought and battled with each other.  In the end, I won.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

It's obviously taper time.

I am so over running right now.

This girl is faking it, while she just hopes to make it

Oh wait... am I allowed to be saying that with less than 2 weeks to go before my marathon?  Crap.  To be honest, my hear has just not been in it the last several weeks.  I feel tired.  My body is recovering slower.  My hunger is vast and endless one day, and nonexistent the next.  Essentially, the triple threat of work, school, and marathon training have defeated my confidence that any of this is possibly going to end well.

Why do I tell you this?  To tell you that I AM going to trudge through this, and I am not going to let these hard times win.  I'm too close to the finish to not forge ahead at this point.  So even though I had to skip my long run over the weekend, and even though I don't feel like I did a "good enough" (whatever that means) job of training, I'm going to push ahead, and let the outcome be what it is.

After that, though?  I'm taking a good long break from running.  Probably until January, unless I get some crazy inkling to run again, but really, I doubt that will happen.  My current plan is to take 2-3 weeks off after the marathon, and then start PiYo after that.  Yup, another Beach Body program.  I haven't had great results with their programs ever, but I'm hopeful that a low-impact program from them might just do the trick.  Also, I think that the core work is long overdue, especially since...

Once PiYo is done, I'll be starting triathlon training!!!  I've mentioned before, but completing an olympic distance triathlon has been a dream of mine since I was 15 years old.  Even training for one fills me with such joy and anticipation that I can hardly stand it.

I am clearly in taper mode... hating running, feeling anxious, sore, and in need of recovery.  This could not have been better timed had I tried.  Please excuse me as I'm over here hydrating, taking hot baths, and trying to figure out my hunger signals...

Saturday, October 4, 2014


For the last year, I have really felt like someone stole my mojo.  Full on Austin Powers style, just drew it right out of me with a giant syringe.

While it probably is a little passe, I'm just going to come out with my excuse as to why this happened:  I had a VERY creative, labor intensive, crafty wedding.  And it left me feeling drained.

The only thing that we're wearing/holding in this picture that wasn't crafted was my necklace, which is a family heirloom.  However, my mom crafted a coordinating bracelet and set of earrings.   It is pretty magical to look back and remember picking out all of these things, and ushering them through each stage of development.  I'm obsessed with the dresses, even still.  I want to make myself one of the bridesmaids' dresses someday, I had originally picked out the pattern to be my rehearsal dinner dress, but decided that it was the perfect "vintage picnic" look for my gorgeous bridesmaids.  And I'm not sure if I mentioned before or not, but the bridesmaid's jewelry was another of my mom's creations, based on a design that I dreamt up.  The three strands are all able to be worn separately, braided together, or twisted, as shown, and my mom made them all 3 different sets of earrings so that they could mix and match the jewelry in the future.  She is crazy talented.
Truly, I would not have had my wedding any other way... unless it was a destination wedding on a beach somewhere with only 10 guests... but for the big family wedding that was asked of us, it was exactly as I wanted it.  I never would have anticipated though, how long I would feel uninspired after the fact.  Maybe part of it has been how thoroughly I threw myself back into work, and running, and school, or the fact that Gunner came into our lives, and I'd rather chill with him than get out the glue gun and glitter.  I don't know.

I do know that I woke up this morning, and I did some reading and research for my Eastern religions class, and found myself getting inspired again.  I find myself longing to create, to manifest positivity.  It's incredible to feel even a hint of this creative spark again.  I have felt so... dead inside without it.  I kept trying to fill that hole with other things, but it just hasn't worked.  A sense of joy and peace washed over me, just as I felt the urge to paint again.  Painting isn't something I do often, and it's certainly not something I am good at, but it is something that I enjoy doing.  So I'm going to go dig out my painting supplies, browse pinterest for the easiest possible painting project out there, and I'm going to do it.  I'm going to revive my creative soul

It feels so good to finally be re-inspired.