Time and Effort

Guess what the meaning of Kung Fu is?  It means time and effort.

This month Ron turns 59 and we also celebrate our 28th year of marriage.  For all 28 years and 4 months (yes we only dated 4 short months), Ron has had a dream of becoming a black belt.  And, I learned from his family and friends when we went to California this past summer, this dream is something that Ron has held for as long as they can remember too.

When we were first married and we lived in Greensboro, NC, Ron dragged me to Tae Kwon Do with him.  We didn’t live in Greensboro long and we were young and just getting started in our careers.  Tae Kwon Do didn’t last.

Then when the girls were little, Ron dragged the whole family to Karate.  We all loved it.  Well mostly.  I’m not so sure about Andie.  But again, we were a young family and Ron had to work a huge amount of on-call shifts and overtime back in those days.  Karate didn’t last.

Next came a movie that I dragged Ron to last year.  The movie was Cowspiracy.  It was about how hard factory farming is on the environment and was sponsored by the Triangle Vegfest Community.  After the movie they gave out door prizes.  Ron and I didn’t win a single cookbook or vegetarian dinner out or any of the other amazing veggie prizes.  Then it came to the very last door prize.  It was for 1 month free at the Chines Shao-Lin Center.  You guessed it!  Ron won!  That prize had Ron’s name written all over it!  I knew before they called out the winner that it would be Ron!  I didn’t even have to look at our ticket numbers.

In Kung Fu, the instructor is called Sifu.  Our instructor is Sifu Mo Seyam and he happens to be vegan.  (hence the door prize at the Vegfest sponsored movie)

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Ever since Ron started last year he has been bugging me to join him.  I kept telling him no.  I had my CrossFit and running and I just couldn’t do any more.

However, he didn’t give up.  Each time he progressed from one belt to the next he kept asking me when I was going to go to class with him.  Well as you all know, Ron loved running way before me.  But now, I love running the most.  Ron is such a trooper though and goes with me to all my races and has just as many medals on his medal hanger as I do.

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Since he is so good to me to keep running like he does, I decided that this year for Christmas, I would tell him that I’d start going to Tai Chi with him.  I wrote a pretty hand made card with those words on it and wrapped it up.  He was all smiles!

Well on New Year’s Eve this year I attended my first Tai Chi class with him.  Then he had me signed up for Kung Fu too before I could blink an eye.

We go on Tuesday and Thursday nights and then again on Saturday afternoon. On Tuesday and Thursday it’s just the Tai Chi and Kung Fu but on Saturday, Ron takes a class called Wooden Man as well.

Today was a big day at our school.  Every year the Elder Master travels from Colorado to each of the schools in our network around the country.  Today was our school’s turn.

Ron tested for Wooden Man and his Brown Belt and I tested for Yellow.   We both passed!  In our style of martial arts training, you can get to Brown Belt pretty quickly but there are 3 levels of Brown Belt.  It will probably be about 2 more years but with time and effort, Ron’s dream of becoming a Black Belt will hopefully be coming true.

I was a testing student today so I couldn’t get a lot of pictures.  When we were on a sort break, I got Ron to pose doing some of his Wooden Man moves.

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He really is amazing!  I am so impressed with his form.  Ron is a natural.

All the other students are great too and everyone is very friendly and supportive.  Kung Fu is so fun.  I am really excited about all the weapons that we will get to learn.  I got to see so many cool weapons in action today by the other students.  Some of them were the Monk’s staff, the broadsword, the spear, and nun chucks.  All I have learned so far are 4 staff spins but now that I’m yellow, I get to add nun chucks.

Next on the agenda is our one and only race that we have signed up for in 2016.  Ron and I are running the half marathon on March 6th in Chattanooga, TN.  I’ve been doing really good on my Tuesday and Thursday runs but my long runs on the weekend have been hit and miss.  I’m hoping to get a good 10 miles in tomorrow and then a 12 and another 10 over the next 2 weeks.  I’m also shooting to get some Iron Strength Workouts in.  Since I haven’t been going to CrossFit, this is crucial or I will lose everything that I have gained over the last year.  I’m writing it on my bathroom mirror  in a dry erase marker and making this solemn promise that I will do 3 Iron Strength Workouts for each of the next 4 weeks until Chattanooga.

Spend a little time and effort and cook for yourselves this week.  Spend some time on exercise.  Make an effort to be kind.

Ron carried a rock in his pocket for years that had the words Black Belt written on it.  Here’s wishing you have all the time you need to put the effort into your goals.  May all your dreams come true!

 

 

For the Love of Blueberries

I’ve been making this awesome granola for a while.  It is to die for!  The recipe comes from Heather Crosby’s Yum Universe.  YU is a great source for vegan inspiration.  I love snacking on this granola but just recently I have started putting it in my Coconut Milk yogurt for breakfast.  I get it from Trader Joe’s and I love both the vanilla and the blueberry flavors.

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I got in the habit of eating a pound of greens for breakfast last summer when I was following Chef AJ’s program.  I know that veggies are so important but for some reason a nice bowl of oats or granola topped yogurt is pure heaven to me.

I dove into this bowl after a very hot and humid 6.5 mile tempo run this morning.  Hit the spot!

Go on over to Yum Universe and make up some Easy Blueberry and Cherry Granola.  You won’t be disappointed.  It is super easy and oh so delicious.

Since today is the 31st of December, I was wondering if you have any resolutions or goals?  I do.  I’m shooting to run everyday in 2016.  I’ve signed up for a Run Streak and I just know it is going to be a hoot.  Along with running every day, I’m hoping to hit 1000 miles in 2016.

I also am giving CrossFit a rest and signing up for Tai Chi.  My husband has been after me for a while to join him and he’s finally talked me into it.  I might do Kung Fu too.  You never know!

My big goal for 2016 is to not purchase anything new.  I’ve been intrigued with the whole minimalist movement and this one in particular keeps jumping into my brain.  Last spring I bought 3 new pair of running shoes when they were on sale and I haven’t used one of them yet.  So, I shouldn’t need anything right!?  I’m even paying for our one race for 2016 tonight so I won’t have those expenses in 2016.  Maybe I can even go the whole year without even setting foot in a store?  I could by our fruits and veggies from the farmer’s market and I could make a list of other necessities (dog and cat food, laundry detergent, toiletries, etc.) and get Ron to pick them up for us.  Who knows?  Wouldn’t that be cool if I could make it?

My huge fitness goal is to of course to try and get faster and I am going to work on it.  However, flexibility is what I’m going to really focus on.  I am so  horribly un-flexible it is pathetic.

Happy New Year Everyone!  I pray 2016 is all you are dreaming of and more!

 

 

 

 

 

OBX Half! Best Race EVER!

I’m late getting this review up but for historical sake, I have to publish.

On November the 8th I ran my very best half marathon ever!  2:06:48!

OBX results

Outer Banks Marathon was my very first marathon back in 2010 and I’ve also done the Flying Pirate there in 2012.  The Flying Pirate course follows the 1st half of the full marathon.  The OBX Half is the 2nd half of the full marathon.

When I went into this race, I didn’t have any goals other than having fun.  I’ve had a good year and I had actually taken a little time off from so much running since my 50 miler I did back in September.  I still ran during the week.  I just didn’t make all my weekend long runs.

It was a cold, windy morning and I hung around with Ron as we waited for the race to start.  He was in one of the corrals near the back and even though I knew we wouldn’t stay together, I didn’t want to stand all alone in one of the corrals closer to the front.

When we took off, I kissed Ron goodbye and made our plan of where to meet up at the finish.  During races lately, I have started running without my phone and I love it.  I actually have also stopped carrying water and GUs.  Most of the races I go to have really good water and aid stations and I’m not as afraid of different GUs as I once was.  My stomach, (knock on wood) has been behaving.

I was careful in the beginning to not weave in and out of runners when we took off.  It was my choice to start out near the back and I didn’t want to be discourteous.   When my Garmin buzzed and it showed a sub 10:00 mile I could not believe it.  I was being careful and had no idea I was running at a good clip for me.

After miles 2-4 also showed sub 10:00 miles, I really began to question what in the world was going on.  Then after mile 5 I was floored.  I hit a sub 9:00 mile.  I never do this in races.  At that point I decided to give it my all and see if I could come in under my previous PR of 2:12. I started praying for a 2:11.

I felt great the whole way except towards the end my feet (bunions) started hurting. I didn’t care. I kept thinking of that running slogan, “Your feet are hurting because your kicking so much Assphalt.” There’s a  bridge at mile 10.5 and it was a beast but not terrible. I had 2 miles of 10:15s right around that.

The only thing that I can think of is that these results are due to my CrossFit trainer, Liz Brozowski.  The week prior to this half I went to CF 4 times.  I’m usually a 3x a week CF girl but my coach has just opened a new Box and I’ve been trying to go more.

From mile 6 on, my mantra was, “This is easier than burpees. This is easier than walk the floors. This is easier than slam balls. This is easier than wall balls.” I heard Liz’s words in my head, “You’ve got this Melissa.”

This race has renewed my belief that I can BQ someday. 5 years ago I ran my first full marathon. I’m not the same person I was before running. I am so grateful to God for this hobby. Thanks to all my running and CF buddies. Thank you to my family. My cup runneth over!

For a race review here are my opinions:

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I’ve sworn off racing so much for now.  I love it and we have a ball but it can get expensive.  My husband’s really good friend has been encouraging us to run the Chattanooga Marathon in March of 2016.  I guess we’ll do that but hold me to it – not many more at all next year.

A few of my running friends and I have joined a new running club at LifeTime Fitness.  We run on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and have been learning more about hill repeats and fartleks.  Coach Jennifer is the bomb!  I’m hoping this 16 week class will help me come in under 4:30 in Chattanooga!  A 4:30 is a huge goal for me but I’m up for it!  Wish me luck.

I wish for you one and all the merriest of a Christmas and the happiest of a New Year!

Happy Running!

 

 

Best Book in an Eternity of 10,000 Fairy Tales

Many of you know that I drive a lot for work.  Well, my sister, Rosa, does too.  Actually she drives way more than me.  Because of this, we opened an Audible account to share.  I pick one month and she picks the next.  Her daughters and our other sister, Tammy, are huge real readers and they often give us suggestions.

Sometimes we happen upon a great novel on our own.  Sometimes we get some duds.

But oh my!  Was this month ever a winner!  We loved A Man Called Ove from last month so much Rosa picked this beauty from the same author for this month’s selection .

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My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is a story of a young girl and her grandmother.  It’s a story about life and death and the right to be different.  It’s a Christmas story.  It’s a fairy tale.  It’s a mystery.

I loved this book so much and immediately started listening to it again after I finished.  It has references to Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Spiderman and all the other superheros, and The X Men.  It has made me want to reread all the Harry Potter’s and watch all the Marvel comic movies and such.  The story is told with such passion and love.

If you are looking for a different type of book (the author is Swedish and has a great sense of humor) then look no more.  I highly recommend “Granny”.  It has been my favorite book of the entire year.  Well maybe second to Unbroken but still very very good.  Rosa liked Ove better so either one I promise you won’t be disappointed with.

Happy Reading!

 

Gratitude

Wow what a great Thanksgiving!  We have had an absolutely wonderful day.  Gorgeous weather.  So much love and laughter. So much good food.

I started this beautiful morning like I do every morning.  Lily and I went for a walk.

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Then I got my turkey trot on and went for a quick run around the neighborhood.

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That toboggan came off quickly because even though it was a little brisk at first, I warmed right up.  It really was a spectacular day.

Next I created this fruit turkey that I saw on Pinterest.

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The beak was a little piece of cheese but can you guess where I got the eyes and feet?

Lydia and Mario work at Target and since they had to work tonight, I served a Thanksgiving breakfast.  We dined on waffles, sausage, eggs, and the fruit turkey.  Andie and Daphne came too!

We had a blast watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and visiting.

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After breakfast, I did a lot of cooking and cleaning and then at 5:00pm, Andie, Jonathan, Daphne, and Mason came for dinner.  Jonathan’s mom, Peggy came too and had a great time but she does not like pictures.

Daphne does though.  She loves her giraffe too!

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I am so thankful for our family!

I forgot to get a picture of our table but here’s what we had:

  • turkey breast made by Ron in the NuWave Oven
  • barbeque meatballs in crockpot
  • homemade bread with honey spread
  • corn pudding
  • broccoli casserole
  • cranberry sauce
  • beets
  • stuffing
  • Pioneer Woman mashed potatoes and gravy
  • Peggy’s cherry cheesecake
  • brownies and ice cream

When we went around and told what we were thankful for, Mason said he was thankful that I made the meatballs!  LOL

I’ll close with my favorite Thanksgiving Day quote.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast,
a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
Gratitude makes sense of our past,
brings peace for today and
creates a vision for tomorrow. -Melody Beattie

I’m heading off to finish the dishes and then I’m taking Lydia some corn pudding and maybe doing a little Black Friday shopping.

Much love and happiness!

xx00

On My Bookshelf

I enjoy my books on Audible so much.  I do read real books occasionally but mostly I listen to the Audible versions.  I drive a lot for work and these books help me pass the time.

My book for last March was Unbroken.

Unbroken

I’m sure by now everyone knows that this book was about the life of Louie Zamperini.  I loved every minute of this book.  In fact, I caught myself listening to it not only in my car.  I listened before bed.  I listened while I was getting ready for work.  I listened while I was making dinner.  I couldn’t stop!  I didn’t want it to end.

When it came out on dvd, Ron and I watched it and the movie was good.  But man!  The book was so.much.better.  The movie leaves out so much.

Over the summer, I followed Scott Jurek’s epic Appalachian Trail speed hike and The Iron Cowboy’s 50 Ironmans in 50 Days.  These were awesome feats of human endurance.  However, they pale in comparison to what Louie and many, many, others have endured.  Holocaust survivors and prisoners of war have endured so very much more.

Whenever I come upon hard thing in my life, I think of Louie and suck it up and know that I really am so much stronger than I think I am.

April’s book choice was The Girl on the Train.  Hmmm.  What can I say about this?  I liked it and I remember eagerly getting in the car so I could tune in.  However, this wasn’t one that I listened to outside the car.  This book provided a good mystery and I thought I had it figured out.  I didn’t.  The end was a super surprise.  It wasn’t as good as last year’s Gone Girl, but it was good.

The Girl on the Train

May’s choice was Ruby.  This book was one of Oprah’s top choices.  Boy was it scary!  I had to turn it off one time I was so scared.  I didn’t really like Ruby very much.  Too much pain and suffering.  It reminded me of something my mother told me once.  She told me that man had the power to be the kindest, most loving, most caring creature on the planet but also the power to be a creature of unthinkable evil.  Some of the characters in Ruby were evil through and through.

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June’s book was Lies You Wanted to Hear.  I liked this one ok.  Made you really think.  As bad as that mother was, she never deserved what happed.  And as good as the dad was, he was very wrong in my opinion.

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The Power of One was my Audible selection for July.  Powerful!  It was a long one but I really loved it.  I learned so much!  I was crying not 2 chapters into the book.  Who would have ever thought that I could fall in love with a rooster.  Grandpa Chock rules!  I catch myself thinking back to different scenes from this book every now and then.  I highly recommend this one.

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Next came Euphoria, The Red Tent, and Us.  Loved Euphoria.  Disliked The Red Tent so much that this is the only book all year that I didn’t even finish.  And as for Us, I liked it just fine.  It wasn’t over the top great but it was a good book.

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A Man Called Ove was last month’s choice.  Now this one was the very best of all year.  I get the Sunday paper and over the summer they had a selection of books that they recommended.  Ove was one of them.

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Wow!  This was a short one but oh so good.  Ove loved Saabs.  Ove loved his wife.  Ove really loved life.  This was a feel good story and I took away many things that I hope to make a part of how I live my life.  My sister Rosa listens to books with me and we both loved Ove.  We liked it so much in fact, we are now listening to another book from the same author, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry.  This one is pretty good so far too.

The 2 real books I’ve actually read this year are both by Jennifer Pharr Davis.  Jennifer held the record for the fastest hike of the Appalachian Trail prior to Scott Jurek.  Scott only beat Jennifer by a little over 3 hours.  Scott is my hero and for this legend to only beat Jennifer by a mere 3 hours, I became intrigued with this woman.

I read 2 of her books so far and I literally devoured them.  I read Becoming Odyssa in about 2 days.  I read Called Again in about a day and a half.

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I’ve only hiked about 25 miles of the AT but after watching Scott’s adventure this past summer and after reading Jennifer’s books, I can’t get to retirement fast enough.  I know I’m going to hate the rain and the bugs and the snakes and the rain and the bugs but now, I just have to hike the entire AT before I meet my maker.  Ron is on strict orders to stay healthy and strong until we make it to retirement and can head off to this adventure.

What’s on your bookshelf this year?

My Medoc PR

Back in 2012 I ran the Medoc Trail Marathon and I loved it so much.  The hilarious and awesome race directors have kept me on their email list and this was the year for me to do a repeat.  And best of all, Ron signed up for the 10 miler!  I was so excited that he was coming with me to experience first hand how much fun this race really is.

We actually signed up for their 1st annual Twilight 5k and went up to Hollister, NC on Friday night.  It’s only 1.5 hour drive from Clayton straight up I95.  The race started at 6:00 and didn’t end up getting dark until just as we were finishing the 5k.  We had our headlamps with us but we didn’t really need them on the trail.

Here Ron is rocking his Twilight 5k shirt and his 10 miler medal.  You can’t really tell in this shot but the shirt has hints of purple in it.  The ladies version has a V-neck and is a little longer in the back.  So unbelievably AWESOME!

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After the 5k we dined under the shelter on some delicious spaghetti, salad, and desserts.  We were  both really hungry and went back for seconds.  By the time dinner was over it was very dark so we drove over to the group camp area and set up our “camp.”  We camped in our van!  Our van has stow and go seating and we’ve always wanted to see if we could camp in it.

Our queen sized air mattress was just a little bit too wide but it seemed to work okay when we tested it.  We were wrong.  We ended up rolling towards the middle and Ron and I were literally human hotdogs!  It was very cold.  Somewhere around 40 degrees.  I slept in my Hinson hoodie with the hood up to stay warm.  Below is a shot of our van and me in modeling my hoodie once we got home.

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The bad part was we had gone to bed around 8:00pm and didn’t get up until around 7:00 am Saturday morning.  We rolled around and slept cuddled up on and off for 11 straight hours!  Just when we’d get warm and cozy, I’d get a hot flash (boo menopause) and then I’d have to pull away and kick off all our covers.  It was a VERY long night.  I think we slept more than we realized though because neither of us were tired at all.   That was a good thing!

The marathon and the 10 miler were so fun!  I didn’t remember how technical this race really is.  You cannot take your eyes off the trail.  It is filled with Roots, Rocks, and Hills.  Notice the words on the hat we got for “doing the double.” (the 5k and the race the next day)  We also got the cute shot glass.  Medoc swag is the very best!

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The marathon is a 3 loop course.  I completed the 1st loop in 1 hour and 54 minutes.  The second loop took me 2 hours and 14 minutes.  The 3rd loop took me 2 hours and 12 minutes.  That brought me in at 6:20!  (18 minutes faster than back in 2012 woot woot!)

Check out this image of the elevation I found on Google images:

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I ran most of the 1st loop with Carley from Coral Springs.  She’s 15 years old and is totally amazing.  This was  her 2nd Medoc and last year she earned the record for the youngest to complete Medoc!  She’s a triathlete and is on her school’s cross country team.  Her mom and brother ran the 10 miler today and her dad ran the marathon.   I loved listening to all her stories and her cheerful attitude.  She was faster than me and she ended up pulling away and I didn’t see her again until the middle of the 3rd loop.

I ran with Heather at the end of the 2nd loop and almost all of the 3rd loop.  She remembered me from 2012.  This was her 5th Medoc!  When I came upon Heather I had been alone for a while and I was getting so discouraged.  Heather cheered me up and gave me the inspiration to keep going.  She told me about how this verse from Hebrews came to here this week just when she needed it.  Little did Heather know that I needed to hear this so much today!

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I had a goal of 6 hours and after that 2nd loop I knew that I wasn’t going to make it.  I was getting so sad.  Well after I ran with Heather for a while I was a new woman.  Each mile marker I would see I was like Party On!  I was so enthusiastic.

Before long we hooked back up with Carley.  Heather knew Carley from last year.  All 3 of us were doing so amazingly well on our last loop!  Here’s a picture of Heather  and me at the finish.

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Then, right near the very end, I ran into Jordan.  Jordan is my friend that I met when I volunteered at City of Oaks.  We see each other every now and then at races and fun runs around Raleigh.  Jordan had fallen 2 times and was having a rough time finishing.  Well, I decided to run it in with her and was so happy to be able to offer support to my good friend.  Here we are at the finish.

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Ron and I loved Medoc so much.  Check out the marathon shirt and the finishers surprise.

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I adore the shirt.  It is a V-neck too and has that longer back to it like biking shirts.  LOVE LOVE LOVE.  The finisher’s surprise this year was a zippered pull-over.  LOVE!

Here’s the amazing medal.  It is the best ever!  I love the bridge on the back and the beautiful fall colors.

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I guess I should give you a few more running details before signing out.  I chose to run without my Garmin or my Fuel Belt. With all the trees in Medoc, we were warned that our Garmin might not be very accurate.  I remembered from 2012 how much my fuel belt bothered me so this time I didn’t even try to wear it.  3 weeks ago at Hinson, I drank a cup of water or Gatorade every 1.5 miles.  So this time, I drank one cup of water AND one cup of Gatorade at each aid station.  The stations were approx. 3.2 miles apart.  It worked out great and I never got thirsty.  I ate 3 Honey Stingers.  One on each loop.  I also had 2 cookies and a few M&Ms and one cup of Pepsi.  I think I fueled the best in the race of any race I’ve ever run.

Don’t be afraid of the roots, rocks, and hills.  Give Medoc a try.  I promise you will not be disappointed!

Happy Trails!