A Wild & Wonderful Weekend

In the midst of everyday stresses and stressors, it’s always nice to have a little break from the things that are just…making you feel so BLAH about life and what you are doing with your life.

For me, this week, it was having my beautiful sister, Karla, drive up from Birmingham, Alabama, with her eldest son, my nephew, Landon.  I didn’t know how much I needed her and the distraction of having her and Landon here to really just allow me to relax, smile, and be me again!

Family, especially my sister, is, apparently, the cure to what ails, troubles, and bothers you.  I’ve been having…a not so amazing time these past few weeks…and, unfortunately, it’s something I am not really allowed to discuss.  Censorship sucks, yes?  YES!  But…just trust me…the type of personality I have and the person I am…it’s been bothering me on a fundamental level, which, has added a lot of added stress to my already chaotic life.

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Suckage.

But this weekend…was amazing.  I love spending time with my sister…and it doesn’t happen often enough.  So, her texts and calls that ask what I’m doing on certain weekends means…she’s coming to visit.  And I LOVE when she comes to visit.  She and I are best friends and sisters and just…have always been close.  So, me living this far away for 11 years (YES…11 years as of Friday)…has not been easy on either of us.  But here is some of the mischief that we got into this weekend, helping me to not even think about the bad and sucky things that have made a certain portion of a time of my day…a thing I have resented and even loathed at times over the past couple of weeks.

Here’s to sisters…and nephews…and family…and general FUN!  They make the world right again.

1.  Fish in the Water

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One thing Karla and I had discussed for Landon to do while here was to go to the new water park in New Albany.  Unfortunately, Friday left us with thunderstorm warnings and the threat of pop-up storms.  So, at around 3:30…when she arrived and we left the office…the lifeguards were being sent home and the park was closing.  So, Plan B…go to the YMCA and let him swim.  He was swim tested and given permission to go to the life guard chair in the lap pool and to go down the slide in the kids pool.  So, for a good portion of the afternoon…about an hour and change, that’s what he did.  Cathy, Karla, and I all sweltered to death in the humidity of the pool area of the YMCA while he played and cooled off in the pools.  It was worth it to see the smile on his face!

2.  SUSHI TIME!

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My sister commented a week or so ago about how delicious my vegetarian sushi looked when I Instagram-ed it and posted it to Facebook.  And then…I had a brilliant moment of brilliance.  My nephew, Landon, is a very, very, very picky eater.  BUT…he does love cheese things.  Cheese quesadillas, cheese sandwiches, mac & cheese….ALL THE CHEESE!  With the excitement over sushi on my post, I thought of the perfect place for us all to grab dinner, that even Landon couldn’t turn his nose up and refuse to order anything.  Dragon King’s Daughter to the rescue!  For those of you who are not local, Dragon King’s Daughter is an Asian-fusion restaurant with two locations…one in New Albany, Indiana, and one in Louisville, Kentucky.  The menu includes traditional fare from the Far East, as well as contemporary fare with a unique twist.  They offer classics of Japanese dining such as lemongrass miso, vegetable, and sushi rolls, as well as a multitude of new creations including a mixture of East and West forms and flavors.  On the kids menu…a cheese quesadilla…and for the adults…we all went sushi.  My sister and I figured we could get a roll each and split one…so I got the Vegetable Roll, she got the Buffaroll, and we split the Green Acres Roll.  Cathy went for the fishies…and got the Shrimp Tempura Roll and the Dragon King’s Daughter Roll.  And after that…a trip over to the Comfy Cow for an ice cream dessert.  What a great first few hours.

3.  Playtime at the County Fair

It just so happens that the Floyd County Fair happens across the street from where I life.  Convenient, yes?  After dinner and dessert, we came home and walked over to the fairgrounds to scope out some rides and the barns with Landon.  He went on three rides (he had 4 tickets, but he wanted his mom to ride with him on one he wasn’t sure about).  He loved going to see the animals.  And one of the highlights for me was seeing my sister crack up every time the goats bleating.  Her laugh is so contagious.  We all shared lemon shakeups and just walked around.  After that…it was time for showers and then we were all down on the couch to watch Zootopia and then…they took over my room and went to bed and I crashed out on the couch so I could get up early and head out for my 12 mile run and get it done before too much of the morning was passed.

4.  It Runs in the Family

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One of the best things we decided to do, was to go for a short run together.  After my 12 miler, I got home and Karla and Landon put on their running clothes.  We hiked up to Sam Peden Park and ran a loop.  It was hard for Karla, as she hasn’t run in a long while…and she’s not used to the crappy air quality of the Ohio River Valley, but she was a trooper and pressed on.  I ran right there with her to encourage her…and Landon…he was busy chasing down the Army men who were running there.  He beat quite a few.  It was awesome.  Landon has amazing speed and gorgeous running form.  He’s a natural and I love watching him run.  Needless to say, it was a great way to start the day as a family.

5.  Wild Eggs

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Breakfast was the next most important stop on Saturday.  We stopped off at Highland Coffee for some coffee first…and then took the drive over to Westport Road to go to Wild Eggs.  Landon already knew he wanted pancakes and BACON.  He made sure to tell me that if I got an omlette, he wanted my BLUEBERRY muffin.  Since I can’t eat the muffin, I was totally cool with this.  It had been forever since I went to Wild Eggs for breakfast…but it was a nice return.  They even have gluten-free bread and a gluten-free menu now.  LOVE that.  Yes…it even includes gluten-free pancakes, French toast and the like.  That was exciting.  But after 13 miles of running and a hike to and from the park…I wanted some protein.  So I ordered the Surfer Girl Omlette (fresh spinach, wild mushrooms, tomato, cream cheese and onion and topped with diced fresh avocado, pico de gallo, sour cream and fresh alfalfa sprouts. Served with skillet potatoes).  I got mine without the cream cheese and sour cream.  My sister got the same thing, just without the mushrooms (she hates mushrooms).  And Cathy got the Kalamity Katie’s Border Benedict (green chili cheddar corn cakes,topped with chorizo, two poached eggs and queso fundido, pico de gallo, sour cream, green onions and avocado. Served with skillet potatoes and an Everything Muffin).  And, yes, I got a blueberry muffin for Landon.  He was pretty full after eating the two pancakes that were as big as his face and the bacon he ordered…but he took a few bites.  The rest…came home with us and then went home with them today.

6.  Pierced Ears

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Okay, here is something that I didn’t expect to happen this weekend.  My sister and I got to talking about earrings…and she brought up how her daughter (she’s 16 months) had her earrings work out perfectly…and how my mom (whose holes closed because she stopped wearing earrings) had just gotten her ears pierced a few weeks ago.  I said that I keep saying I need to get it done but just haven’t pulled the trigger.  I think a part of me thinks it will fail again.  As a kid, I gave the pierced ears a try about 5 times, but always and an allergic reaction to them.  My sister was the same way, but it worked for her as an adult.  So, she told Cathy to pull into somewhere that could pierce my ears.  We did.  And now I sit here with beautiful 4mm white gold studs in my ears.  Karla taught me how to clean and turn the earrings every day (3 times a day)…and the rest is history.  So here is hoping that they work out this time around…because I have wanted to have pierced ears for a long, long time.  Leave it to my sister to get me to do something like this on a short weekend visit.  HA!

A shopping trip to a few of our favorite stores followed up that little adventure.

7.  Putt-Putt

Because you can’t just spend the day shopping when you have a 9-year-old boy with you, we took Landon to the Renaissance Fun Park.  We had discussed Go Karts…but opted, instead, for putt-putt.  It had been ages since my sister and I went putt-putting.  It was a lot of fun.  The easy holes on the course they put together there are actually quite challenging.  But we had a blast.  Afterwards, Landon and I took on some air hockey…which he won…and then he played a few more games after that…until the money on his card ran out.  It was worth every moment to see him out there laughing and being a competitive little boy.


8
.  SOCCER!!!

One of the main reasons my sister aimed for this weekend was that the local professional soccer team, Louisville City FC, was playing on Saturday night.  And, since Landon is a HUGE soccer fan, and soccer player himself, we thought it would be fun to take him to a match.  I said I wanted to get him a replica jersey for him to wear during the match and she picked him up a hat and then got a t-shirt for Chace.  I made sure Karla wore the logo t-shirt I owned to the match as well.  They got some pizza for dinner and we settled into our seats at midfield to enjoy.  I have never seen Landon so into an event as that soccer game.  Seriously, he was shouting at the players and the refs…and it was just magical and fun and amazing.  I bought him ice cream at half time because…it’s my job as Auntie…to spoil him and get him hyped up on sugar.  HAHA!  In the end, after a horrible call by a ref, we ended in a draw of 1-1…and Landon had hoped that some of the players would come over to the midfield (they usually do) so he could get pictures and some autographs, but they all returned to the locker room without coming over.  He was bummed, but he still had a fantastic time, and I loved seeing him light up the way he did when Louisville City scored the first goal of the match!

9.  Home-Cooked Breakfast

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I gave my sister and Landon the option of grabbing breakfast out at a restaurant before they hit the road…or having me cook breakfast for them.  Landon really wanted waffles (with powdered sugar, which he now LOVES thanks to Wild Eggs putting it on his pancakes), scrambled eggs…and bacon.  So, my sister and I hit the grocery store for bacon (this vegetarian does not have bacon on hand), eggs, and a gluten-free waffle/pancake mix.  And then, this morning, I got to cooking.  I started the waffles first, knowing that would take the most time.  He wanted the Mickey Mouse shaped waffles…so I made that happen for him.  And, because we adults weren’t too sure we wanted waffles, we had gluten-free avocado toast with our eggs.  I started cooking the bacon before Karla emerged from the bedroom, but she took over that so I could focus on toasting the bread, doing the waffles, and scrambling the eggs.  It all finished up at the right time…everything done when it should be.  Breakfast was served.  And I didn’t take a picture of it, but Karla and I cook epic breakfasts together.  And Cathy now has lots of bacon in the fridge for this coming week.  Which makes her happy.

After that…they had to hit the road and get home…

It was hard to let them go, but I know Karla’s husband and other two kids were missing her and Landon like crazy.  I just was having such a good time and all the time together went by way too fast.

They got home late this afternoon…and she said that they missed me as well.

I hope we do it again soon.

Sisters really do make everything better!

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Eight Blessings for Eight Miles

I have said it numerous times since once again striking out on the road and attempting to come back from the torn hip labrum, the injury that has plagued me now for a year.  Exactly a year.  I noticed my Facebook memories showed where I posted that I had “pulled a muscle in my back…”  That was where this all started.  The beginning of the downward spiral.

EVERY RUN IS A BLESSING!

While my weekday runs have been kept short and easy, my mileage is slowly increasing.  By about 1-2 miles a week.  Physical therapist approved.

Last week, I ran 5 miles.  This week…I gave 8 miles a go.  And I finished it.  Around Mile 6, my hip flexor started to twinge, which made me evaluate my running form, and do exactly what my physical therapist instructed to do.  I kept my footfalls as light as possible and brought that knee up, so that the right hip and leg wouldn’t get lazy.  My Bambi leg will get stronger.  It has to.

So…with 8 miles down, I thought I’d share 8 blessings in my life these days.  Here goes:

1.  My sister and nephew coming to visit me next weekend.

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We are a fun-type of goofy when we are together.  Seriously, there is never a dull moment when the Brady sisters get together.  And her youngest boy is a ham…as you can tell from this picture.  HAHA!  I have been dying to have her come back to visit, and this time we get an added bonus of Chace.  Karla, seriously, I can’t wait to see you and spend some time with you!!

2.  Annie May, Ashley, and Laura – and the rest of the crew at Annie May’s Sweet Cafe on Frankfort Road in Louisville, Kentucky.

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If you live in the Louisville area, or are visiting, or passing through…make a point of getting over to Frankfort Avenue and stopping in at Annie May’s Sweet Cafe.  This place feeds me 3 times a week (Soft Pretzel Wednesday, Saturday Breakfast, and Sunday…with the take-home breakfast goodies).  Amazing gluten-free eats.  Most are vegan as well.  The Apple-Cinnamon French Toast…is amazing.  And right now…heart-shaped doughnuts.  Oh…hell yeah.  This place has been giving me a variety of foods, all safe for me to eat…for almost 5 years now.  I am so lucky and thankful to have this place in my area.  If you have food allergies or not, if you love good food, you gotta stop here.  And if you don’t see yourself coming to the area, check out their site, because they do ship some items nationwide!  And while there, go ahead and peruse the menus.  BTW…I highly recommend the vegan mac & cheese (OMG), the chocolate chip cookies, the COOKIE CAKE!, the toaster pastries, and…well…EVERYTHING, really.  I do think I’ve had it all.

3.  Sales.  Sales.  Sales.

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It’s not that I’m cheap, but I like to buy things and not spend a lot of money.  I am a sale-seeker, a bargain-hunter.  I love me a good sale.  And today, after my run and breakfast, I went to the mall and bought about 7 items…for less than $30.  LOVE a good sale.  And good (and cute) clothes to boot.  Oh yeah…retail therapy.

4.  MyBread Gluten Free Pita Bread.

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You know what love is?  Love is never having to be without pita bread.  And that’s not easy when you are a Celiac.  Not only does MyBread Gluten Free Bakery make gluten-free pita bread (and sell it….at stores…I get mine at the Whole Foods in Louisville, Kentucky), they make it deliciously good.  It’s gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, and soy-free.  And they are SO SO SO good!!  I’m making Italian nachos tonight for dinner…and these will be the nacho part of said dinner.

5.  Tea.

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Specifically…Dryad Tea, based out of Denver, Colorado.  I discovered them at the sci-fi convention, StarFest a couple of years ago.  I’ve been ordering ever since.  Their artisan teas are hand blended and all inspired by music, mythology, geekery, and works of literature.  AND…my roommate, Cathy, had a blend made specifically for me for Christmas.  It’s called “In Summer” (like Olaf) and contains green tea (my favorite), strawberry, ginger, chamomile and mint.  It’s fantastic.  My favorite tea…and it was blended specifically for me.  All teas are vegan and gluten-free friendly.  Check out their site…place an order…for real!

6.  Swimming.

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I. HATE. SWIMMING.  Okay, technically, I really don’t hate it.  I just haven’t learned to embrace it yet.  There is something about the water that makes me anxious.  Maybe it was my near-drowning experience as a child.  I can swim.  I’m a good swimmer (just ask my coach), I just have some weaknesses. One of which is convincing myself I won’t drown if I put my face in the water.  I’ve gotten better about that, but, UGH, I get worn out.  Endurance in the pool doesn’t happen if I have to breathe out in the water.  I hate it because this makes me feel nonathletic and weak.  Top that off with the fact that I don’t like not being good at something.  So, whenever I have to get into the pool, it’s a struggle.  But I keep doing it.  Even when I don’t want to.

7.  Disney.

Disney_LogoWhether it’s the parks, the movies, the races, or just the store…I’ve always had a soft-spot for Disney.  And now that they pretty much rule the world…

Don’t hate…I used to dream of becoming an animator for Disney.  I could draw every Disney character.  I probably still can!  I love visiting Disney World and Disneyland.  I never went as a kid, but I think that makes me appreciate the trips now more than ever.  I love RunDisney events.  They’re always amazing and fun.  And I love Disney Movies.  I’m still working my way through all the animated films in order…but, progress is being made.  This weekend…Toy Story 3.

8.  The X-Files.

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Anyone else out there an X-Phile?  I was beyond elated when The X-Files returned to television.  Sure, it’s only for 6 episodes, and they are halfway through them, but it’s like hanging out with old friends again.  I was the biggest X-Files fan in Big Flats, New York, I believe.  And I was okay with that.  This show was life-changing.  And being able to hang out with Mulder & Scully again has been a nice treat, for sure.  I can’t wait to start the entire series from the beginning…which is happening soon!

~*~*~

Little things and big things…everything and anything can be a blessing.

Life is like a box of chocolates…

Please don't ever break again!

Please don’t ever break again!

…you never know what you’re going to get.

Life has been a roller coaster ride for me this year, unfortunately with more downs than ups.  And it’s been an emotional, physical, and mental ride for me.

If you’ve been following along, this year started with a fantastic marathon finish in the (slightly long) Charleston Marathon in Charleston, South Carolina.  I thought I was gearing up for a great year of running…but then…while not even doing any running, but in my cross training, something went wrong.

My hip labrum tore.  A small tear…but it took a little bit of time to get around to the actual diagnosis.  There were other problems with my body…like a tight lower back that was practically immobile…but the hip was the kicker.  I had an MRI the week I was heading to the Boston Marathon…with no running since February when this all happened.  No joke.  And just days before, the diagnosis of the tear.  And then the Cortisone shot…and a trip to Boston to make some sort of attempt on the marathon I worked my ass off to qualify for.  Had it been any other marathon, I would have skipped it.  But it was Boston…I earned this.  Needless to say…the weather was cold, rainy, windy and just MEH.  The hip felt good at the start, but at Mile 6, it all started to fall apart.  That left 20 miles of misery that I hobbled through, mostly walking, always crying, and just falling apart.  Boston broke my already fractured mindset, confidence, and my heart.

I returned home and immediately began an new physical therapy session.  Unfortunately, all the PT appointments I had prior to the hip labrum tear used up most of what my insurance would allow.  I had seven appointments with the new facility…and they went by way too fast.  But, at least we could target the problem properly this time.  And, slowly, I felt like things were getting better.  I could move a bit more.  Things didn’t suck as bad.  And soon, I was back to (slowly) running.  First on the treadmill for 5 minutes…then outside for 5 minutes…then 10…then 15…then 20…then 3 miles…then 5 miles.  Soon I was doing 5 miles 3 times a week.  My coach and I decided 3 days a week would be torture for me as a runner used to running 5-6 times a week, but would be best for my body.  I was also slowing down my training runs.  Not going over 9:00/mile.  It happened a few times, but not intentionally.  My running was uncomfortable…but I could manage and not be laid up afterwards.

I ran my first 5K race back from the hip injury in August…the Kicking Butt 5K to raise money for colon cancer research.  It was not anywhere near my fastest 5K, but it was on hills, it was hard, and I felt good the entire way. I came in 4th in my age division…a bit of a disappointment, but good for such a long time away from the sport.  I ran a 16 miler the following weekend in preparation for an upcoming marathon in Hawaii a week afterwards.

But then…I fractured my leg.  Stress fracture.  Just above the ankle.  The doctor said it was probably brought on by overcompensating on my left leg for my right hip.  UGH!  I was put in a boot, told I couldn’t run for 6-8 weeks while in it…and to have fun in Hawaii.

I behaved.  I never ran once while stuck in the boot.  I did go to Hawaii…and missed the marathon.  I struggled through 8 weeks of being stuck on weight machines and in the pool at the gym.  I discovered the sit-down elliptical, so that I could feel like I was getting my sweat on while working those running muscles in the process.  And then…the boot came off.  October 21, 2015…I had full use of both of my legs again.

Two (painful) miles one Tuesday

Two (painful) miles one Tuesday

I waited until November 1 to go on my first run.  I was out of town, but my friend lives in a very flat neighborhood.  I took it slow and steady, for just 2 miles.  And when I stopped and went inside, the hip flaired up.  It was NOT happy.  And for the rest of that day, I hobbled and limped and worried now over my hip…and the leg because I could tell I was overcompensating in just my walking stride.  I stretched.  I rolled.  And the next day I went to my spin class…and things started to feel better.  Then, Tuesday, I figured I would do the second (of three) runs of the week…at night.  Two miles.  In my neighborhood.  Small hills were involved.  Nothing big.  I got home, already feeling a bit of a twinge in my hip. And when I stopped, the same thing that happened in Columbus, Ohio, happened here.  And my hip has been hurting the rest of the week since.

It is so frustrating.  Aggravating.  Heartbreaking.  My confidence in myself, my abilities, my body, and my potential is shot.  Honestly, I just feel like I get one problem fixed and another one arises or comes back.  And it has left me in tears more times than I care to admit this past week.  I have been continuing some non-impact activities…including my spin classes…but I’ve stopped running.  I called my doctor’s office on Wednesday, even when my roommate did her usual thing that makes me feel stupid for wanting to see someone about a problem when it comes to my body and running, and managed to snag an appointment for the following Wednesday.  One week.

And now, the ankle is fine…but sometimes I get a bit of twinge and I panic.  I’m gun-shy now when it comes to any ache and pain.  The hip has been bad since Tuesday night.  And I am just trying to tell myself that one day I’ll wake up and not be in pain.  Because I have hurt in some way, shape or form since early February.  I have missed out on so many races I signed up for, and have been angry at myself over the money that I have lost.  Money I didn’t really have to waste.

Comebacks are hard.  Comebacks mean struggles.  I’ve been struggling for almost a year now.  And I’m tired of struggling.  I’m tired of working my way back only to be thrown back down and having to start over.

But the thing is…I don’t give up.  And I hope that on Wednesday we take some better steps toward getting me back to where I used to be.  My run on Tuesday is definitely showing a problem…my cadence is way down from where it usually is when I run.  I’m just tired of hurting, failing, and having to make these comebacks.

Notice the difference in the Cadence on my Garmin's from my 16 miler and to my 2 miler I did on Tuesday...

Notice the difference in the Cadence on my Garmin’s from my 16 miler and to my 2 miler I did on Tuesday…

Think of me as Wednesday comes around…and hope that I finally get some sort of a solution.  I miss running.  And right now, all I want to do is get out there and run freely.  Run like the wind.  Feel like I’m flying.  But right now I can’t.

And that’s the hardest part right now.

I just can’t.

Turn a setback into a comeback!

Turn a setback into a comeback!

Have courage...

Have courage…

One day soon, I will remember what it’s like to wear TWO shoes…

This is my life...for almost 8 weeks...Bootsie and my random shoe of choice.

This is my life…for almost 8 weeks…Bootsie and my random shoe of choice.

…but today is not that day.

Sadly, I have 8 more days left in Bootsie.  It should have come off tomorrow, but my orthopedic doctor was on emergency medical eave until next week, when he’s on a condensed schedule.  So…the big day is October 21…and I might have been counting down since that appointment was made.  I’d much rather have it off tomorrow…but this just gives it a little more healing time, so as much as I want to kick and scream and be rid of this cumbersome beast that’s been Velcro-ed to my leg since September 1…I’ll behave…for now.

And, of course, getting rid of Bootsie does not mean that I can immediately jump back into training.  This fracture was actually pretty big.  2.6 centimeters.  YIKES!!  So, it will mean easing back into things.  As much as I just want to hit the road again, I know I can’t.  Well, I can, but gradually.  Slow and steady…

Don’t get me wrong, while a downer and a burden, I haven’t let Bootsie slow me down too much.  I still go to the gym.  I weight train (even though I hate it) and I’ve found a sit-down elliptical that allows me to get my much-needed sweat-fest on and work my running muscles without my body weight being applied.  I love and hate that freakin’ machine.  But…I feel so good when I get off it.  Like…I’ve accomplished something.  And…I even hit the pool.  A LOT.

So…aside from my already blogged about trip to Hawaii just three days after being booted up with Bootsie…a few other things have gone on…some good…some depressing…but all of it helping to shape me to be a better, well-rounded individual, athlete, and the like.

Upon my return from Hawaii, I unpacked and dragged out another suitcase in order to prepare for the big event I was looking forward to the most in September…my best friend from high school’s big day – her wedding!!  I was her maid of honor, and while I was not there to do a lot of the maid of honor duties…I was assured that I did more than enough from halfway across the country.  I was leaving for my old stomping grounds and hometown of Horseheads, New York on September 23…

2015 Air Force Marathon...the birthday party that wasn't...

2015 Air Force Marathon…the birthday party that wasn’t…

…but before that…I had my own event to endure.  And by endure, I mean it…because I had, for over a year, planned out exactly what would happen on my birthday when I turned 35…and moved up in an age division.  The plan was to run the Air Force Marathon…because it’s my favorite distance, the race is not too far away, and what better way to celebrate moving up in an age division than to run a marathon, right?  When the hip labrum tore, I thought to drop down to the half marathon.  And when the fracture happened…it all went to hell anyway.  Needless to say, I was beyond upset that my plans were all going awry on my big day.  I didn’t even want to celebrate, and I LOVE my birthday.  I mean…it falls on International Talk Like A Pirate Day (September 19th…so you don’t have to Google that!).  What’s not to love?  But I just felt unexcited about it after all my planning fell through and I was out the race fee anyway.  Happy Birthday, right?

My allergen-free cookie cake from Annie May's Sweet Café. Yes...that's the She-Ra crown. Frickin' awesome!

My allergen-free cookie cake from Annie May’s Sweet Café. Yes…that’s the She-Ra crown. Frickin’ awesome!

But then my roommate (Cathy) and my downstairs friend/neighbor (Michelle) conspired to give me a surprise party.  The guests were Cathy’s family and my neighbors downstairs…and it was perfect.  I was so surprised.  There was a princess theme (I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again…I am a princess!)…and Michelle even created a Skeletor (from He-Man) to go along with my She-Ra obsession…and the design I unknowingly had on my gluten-free cookie cake (compliments of Annie May’s Sweet Cafe).  The cake…was amazing.  The wine was good.  The decorations were all over the living room and it was awesome!  And the company was just what my broken heart and body needed.  The laughter was unstoppable.  I even got a big shopping trip to Jungle Jim’s International Market where I stocked up on all the crazy gluten-free things I haven’t seen anywhere else.  Still trying to find the Rudi’s Gluten Free Texas Toast.  It still eludes me.  I thought if anywhere would have it, it would be Jungle Jim’s.

So…I turned 35.

And then I went back to my roots…back home…to see my friend Jen Wright get married.  My flight left here around 3 pm and took me to Chicago O’Hare.  Once there, I went over to Garrett Popcorn and picked up some yummy treats for the way.  I ate one of the bags for dinner…haha.  Well, it was a good thing I had some comfort food on hand because we were put on a ground halt due to there being too many planes in Detroit, which was my next stop and had a very tight connection.  I was starting to panic a little and was contemplating getting off and finding another route…when the ground halt was lifted and we were able to take off.  This still took awhile and in the short flight from Chicago to Detroit, I was on the Delta app tracking my connecting flight.  As we were beginning our descent into Detroit, it was boarding.  I didn’t think I was going to make it.

It was a near thing.  I was trying to move as fast as possible through a crowded airport for 20 gates.  Technically 10…as they are on both sides.  Thank God I was in the same terminal.  This would have been easier if there hadn’t been a big shopping center in the middle of the gates of this terminal.  AH!  I manage to weave through there and as I’m nearing the gates, from down the way at my very empty gate I hear a small voice shouting my name.  I wave my hands.  “THAT’S ME!”  She told me to hurry because she couldn’t hold the plane any longer.  AH!  So I hobbled over and then they couldn’t get my ticket to scan.  She told me to just get on the flight.  I asked what seat I had (it hadn’t been assigned yet) and she told me to find an empty one.  Okay…so I hobble down the jetway to the plane, the door being closed behind me.  I get on the plane and my carry on luggage is stored with the flight attendants…and I am put in an exit row on the aisle.  Blessed leg room.  I agree to help out in case of an emergency and we were off.  Whew.  Close one for sure!  But I was on a plane and bound for the Elmira-Corning Regional Airport…at last.

Jen and me at the wedding reception. We've been friends since middle school and I was so honored to be her Maid of Honor!

Jen and me at the wedding reception. We’ve been friends since middle school and I was so honored to be her Maid of Honor!

Jen was there when we landed and we hugged the instant we saw each other.  The next few days were going to be a mad whirlwind of things that needed to be done for the wedding…and then the wedding itself.  It all got done, albeit it, not always as efficiently as we hoped.  She had a newborn baby boy as well, so that does take some planning around, especially when it comes to feedings and naps and the like.  But…we managed.  We got our nails done, helped set up the garage for the rehearsal dinner and even decorated.  We got the last few things on the shopping list crossed off.  We had ice cream and Frosty’s…because we were reliving our childhood together, HAHA!  And we got our hair done and then…the big day arrived.  And I was there with her through it all…getting her in the dress…the ceremony…the reception.  I wanted the day to be perfect for her…and it sounds like it was.  I might have made a lot of people cry with my speech. Everyone complimented me on it…so there is that.  And…Bootsie didn’t make me miss a step as I danced the night away on the dance floor.  Major thanks to Nils for being the best dance partner ever!  It was a beautiful wedding and a great day.  So many new memories.  Cathy had driven up with my dress and wedding essentials, so I drove back home instead of flying.  Long trip…and we got home straight-up at midnight.  Go figure.  Back to work the next morning.

Kentucky History Half Marathon...which my dear friend, Kelsie, ran for me!

Kentucky History Half Marathon…which my dear friend, Kelsie, ran for me!

With October now here, I had a few events I had been looking forward to also get knocked off the calendar due to stupid Bootsie.  The first was the Kentucky History Half Marathon.  It was the inaugural run of Frankfort, Kentucky’s very first half marathon.  I really wanted to be a part of it because I really love my Frankfort runners.  But…it wasn’t happening.  The race director, however, was kind enough to let me transfer my bib to someone who could run it…free of charge.  I immediately thought of my friend Kelsie, who loves the half marathon distance.  She is an amazing runner and an even more amazing friend, one who I met through this very blog.  The day I told her about my ankle…was pretty much the day I asked if she wanted to run the half marathon…(back in September, people…I’m not that cruel!)…and she called and said that was not a conversation to be had over text.  How many friends do that anymore?  She’s one in a million…and she took my bib and ran for me.  She even had the announcer say that as she crossed the finish line.  You can read about that in her blog here.

Matthew Fondy, baby!! My fav!

Matthew Fondy, baby!! My fav!

That very night, I went over to Slugger Field for the last home match of the night for the inaugural year of Louisville having it’s very own professional soccer team.  In the USL Eastern Conference, Louisville City FC hosted the Charleston Battery in the USL Playoff Semifinals.  It went into double overtime…but my favorite player, Matthew Fondy, scored twice, giving us the 2-0 lead…and the win that night.  Hell of a match.  We went up to Rochester, New York to play the Rochester Rhinos for the USL Eastern Conference finals…and lost 0-1, ending our season.  Which sucks…but I couldn’t be prouder of the team.  And the fan support has been amazing for this soccer team.  Makes me proud to fly the purple and gold of Louisville City FC.

I pause briefly here to say…sometimes ugly medals make missing a race worthwhile.  Another one gone by and me still locked into a boot.  UGH.  Yeah…this year has been rough.

BUT…instead of racing, I got to spend Saturday afternoon with my parents who were visiting Lexington, Kentucky, for a work function of my dad’s.  So…that was fun.  I walked around this big trade show.  Got to catch up with my parental units.  And it was a good day.  We did a little bit of shopping after the show closed and went and got dinner at my favorite Italian trattoria, which has a huge gluten-free menu.  I always get the Pasta Arrabiata though.  LOL!  It’s spicy good!  I hated to say goodbye to my parents, but they had the drive back to Birmingham to make and I needed to get back up to Louisville.

Mom, Me, and Dad in Lexington, KY!

Mom, Me, and Dad in Lexington, KY!

And this week…just as crazy.  Saturday I have a couple of events I’m hitting up…one of which involves hitting up the Fleur de Flea in Louisville with my neighbor, Michelle (YAY!).  I love flea markets…and on top of that…my favorite gluten-free crepe food truck, Sweet ‘N Savory, will be dishing up some deliciousness.  That, my friends, makes me happy.  They are nearing the end of their season which will leave me crepeless until April.  The other big thing is the amazing Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Iroquois Park in Louisville that night with Amanda!!  So excited.  We did this event last year and had a blast.  How people do all of that with a pumpkin is beyond me!!  It’s awesome.  So, if you live in the Louisville area, make a point to go while it’s there.  TOTALLY worth it.

And Sunday…I have my first official appointment with my swimming coach I hired.  Why hire a swimming coach?  Well, it occurred to me that, despite having spent the better part of this year in the pool due to various injuries…my swimming is not improving.  It all comes down to technique and I have 5 sessions with him, which he says he can easily fix the issue.  He’s a 2 time Olympian in swimming too.  Which…is really kind of cool.  I’m a bit nervous though, as our first session is going to be a double…2 hours in the pool.  Whew.  I’ll be one tuckered out little mermaid for sure.  But, I really do think this will help in the long run, as I intend to keep swimming as part of my cross training.  Might as well get all the kinks worked out so I can perform more efficiently.

NuttZo Organic 7 Nut + Seed Butter (Available in Smooth & Crunchy in all 3 flavors: Original, Power Fuel, and Chocolate)

NuttZo Organic 7 Nut + Seed Butter (Available in Smooth & Crunchy in all 3 flavors: Original, Power Fuel, and Chocolate)

On top of that, yesterday I found out that I was selected to be a NuttZo Ambassador!  Oh yeah!!  If there is one thing I love more than cookies and sweets…it’s peanut butter.  And NuttZo is more than peanut butter.  It is, quite honestly, the next big thing in nut butter.  NuttZo is a gourmet 7 nut + seed butter, which the creators have deemed “the healthiest, most unique superbutter on the planet.”  And it’s true.  NuttZo is quite unique in their own way, offering up three flavors, in both crunchy and smooth, all of which contain 7 nuts + seeds in each blend.  It was love at first taste for me, and my jar didn’t last long.  My nut-butter loving self has never tasted anything else quite like this.  To say I’m in love is an understatement.  But, I am quite proud to be an athlete ambassador of this amazing product.  If you haven’t tried it yet…DO SO!  I first discovered it shining down from the very top shelf of the Louisville Whole Foods…the upside down jar with the right-side-up label.  You can’t miss it.  You can also order online…and I highly encourage this!

And in two weeks, my mom and dad are coming up to visit and we’re going to venture up to Indianapolis together for the Gluten Free Food Allergy Expo.  As my mom and I are both Celiacs…this is an exciting venture.  I’m pretty excited about it because my parents haven’t actually come to visit me since Thanksgiving 2010.  So, it’s long overdue.  I’m taking them to a city they’ve never been to.  And my mom and I can share all the knowledge we gain from this event.  I went last year and LOVED it.  Spent way too much money, but used every single item I bought.  I will also be out of the boot by then, so that’s a huge plus!

And…from there I just work hard at full recovery and getting back into running…this time minus the injuries.  I know my hip will never heal, but I was just getting used to it when the fracture happened.  So…back to square one.  Literally.  I’ve done SO little running this year it is beyond depressing.  That being said, I’m going to focus a lot more on the half marathon distance and…as far as marathons go…I’ll focus more on quality rather than quantity.

As you can see, since being booted I’ve done anything but just sit around and feel sorry for myself.  That’s not to say I don’t have my fair share of meltdowns.  Usually on what was to be a race day.  The biggest one being the night before my birthday.  Thankfully, I have a lot of great people in my life who help me get through even some of the rougher days.

So…eight more days to freedom…and we roll from there.

Here goes nothing!

Hawaiian Hau’oli

Aloha!

So, last week, for a wonderful week, I was fortunate enough to spend some time on the two of the Hawaiian islands.  The original purpose – to run the Kauai Marathon.

But then…I fractured my ankle.

Trying to start a new trend in footwear, perhaps? This is Bootsie, my new friend for the next 6-8 weeks. MEH!

Trying to start a new trend in footwear, perhaps? This is Bootsie, my new friend for the next 6-8 weeks. MEH!

Yep.  Fractured my freakin’ ankle three days before leaving for Hawaii.  SUCK!!  I tried to put a positive spin on things…I really did.  At least I was still going to Hawaii.  Yeah…it didn’t really work for me then either…but I was trying.  To help make this painful adjustment, I started a Twitter account for Bootsie (the boot I’m forced to wear for 6-8 weeks) to document traveling adventures.  I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason…so there better be a damn good reason for this.  That’s all I’m saying.

The first leg of the trip was flying out to San Diego.  This gave us pretty much a full day to adjust to a bit of the time change (West Coast = 3 hours behind EST; Hawaii = 6 hours behind EST) and break up what was already a long ass flight to the islands.  We’d depart San Diego before it was bright and early to get to Kauai by mid-morning.  It was a plan.  The ankle just meant we had to depart from the hotel sooner because I wasn’t moving anywhere very fast.  So…my traveling companions, Cathy & Jenn, were both very helpful and very, very patient with me.  And, I didn’t complain much.  I mean, complaining won’t change the situation.  I just apologized…a lot…for being slow.

The first order of business after getting to San Diego and checking into the hotel to drop off luggage was…lunch.  Not having prepared for lunch, I ate a protein bar, while my fellow travelers ate tacos from a local taco stand.  SO cool.  But after that, I required my morning cup of coffee…so we sought out and found a great local establishment called…

Lestat’s Coffee House, San Diego, California

Lestat’s is one of those places that is open 24/7, 365 days of the year.  YES…it is always open!  Holiday?  No worries…they’re open!  Lestat’s Coffee House has a few signature drinks on their menu…and as it was pretty toasty in San Diego, I wasn’t feeling the hot coffee that day.  Neither were my traveling friends.  So, they each got coffee freezes (think blended drinks!) while I opted for one of Lestat’s Signature Drinks done up all refreshing and cold.  Jenn got the Winter Raspberry Freeze ($5.25), which is a ice blended raspberry mocha.  I took one little sip.  WINNING!  Cathy had me pick for her, and I choose the Arctic Squirrel Freeze ($5.25) for her, which is an ice blended hazelnut mocha (similar to the Hazelnut Turtle drink she loves at our local cafe…just…blended and cold).  As for me…I went with the Iced Arctic Joey ($4.55)…which is coconut, almond and chocolate.  I had mine made with coconut milk as well (+$1.00).  In essence, it was a liquid almond joy.  And it was delicious.  There were bits of coconut floating in it.  I think I was just starting to get in the Aloha spirit by getting something with coconut.  Needless to say…smooth, creamy, delicious.  Nothing overwhelmed the drink, and it wasn’t heavy.  It was pure liquid gold.  And refreshing.  And tasty.  And in the end, coffee should always be tasty.  I was beyond happy with this decision.

Lestat's Coffee House Iced Almond Joey with Coconut Milk

Lestat’s Coffee House Iced Almond Joey with Coconut Milk

Upon arriving in Hawaii…after the rental car debacle…wherein we learned…convertible is fun…but not when you have a fractured ankle.  We got it sorted…and switched out the fun and stylish convertible for…a Ford Fusion.  Yeah…definitely not the way we had envisioned traveling, but it gave us more leg room and some more storage space for our big-ass luggage.  LOL!  After checking into Pono Kai Resort in Kauai…coffee was needed.

It’s always coffee with me.  LOL!

So, we scoped out and fell in love with a local café called Ha Coffee Bar.  And we went back every day we were on the island of Kauai…save for Sunday, because they are closed.

Ha Coffee Bar, Lihue, Hawaii

It was love at first “Aloha” when it came to Ha Coffee Bar.  I have nothing but warm fuzzies when I think back to every stop at Ha Coffee Bar, each morning, first thing, while on Kauai.  It was a bit of a drive from the resort, but always worth it.  I tried three different things on the three days we were there that they were open.  And, not once, was I ever disappointed in my choice.  Ha Coffee Bar is a café that is built to resemble an old-school bar.  No joke.  Their iced drinks are even mixed in martini shakers.  LOVE.  This set-up allows them to showcase and sell products and items, such as pour-overs, that might not typically be served at a café.  Ha Coffee Bar primarily serves espresso coffee, cold brewed coffee, pour-over and French press coffee.  The variety in the types of coffee they serve allows for different origins and price points, which also helps minimize waste as they don’t have coffee sitting and going stale…high quality coffee and flexibility that allows customers to explore different blends, flavor profiles and methods of making coffee.  Coffee love.  And boy…did I LOVE this.  On the first day there, I stayed pretty basic.  I got a Salted Caramel French Pressed Cafe Au Lait with Almond Milk.  I loved that they added the flavor to the steamed milk itself, and then gave me the pitcher of leftover almond milk in case I needed more of it in the drink.  But it was perfect the way they gave it to me.  And the French pressed coffee…OMG…so good.  Jenn got a simple Iced Hazelnut Latte and Cathy got an Iced Peppermint Mocha.  So, on the next morning, I noticed they had signature drinks hanging up near the register…so I decided to give one of those a try.  I had it narrowed down to two…but opted for their drink the Bee Sting.  The Bee Sting is simply Espresso, Coconut Milk, Honey and Cinnamon.  I got it iced…as the humidity was killer that morning.  Cathy got their take on an Iced Black & White Mocha (Zebra).  And it was, absolutely, hands down, my favorite coffee drink of the trip.  I wish I could have had it again.  I would have gotten it again.  The coconut milk gave it this rich flavor, the honey sweetened it, the cinnamon lent a hint of spice…and espresso…got me moving for sure.  Simple…yet SO good.  SO very good.  In fact, on our last day there, this is the drink that Jenn opted to get after trying mine.  With Ha closed on Sunday, we had to go elsewhere, but on our last day on Kauai…we were there in the morning and I was getting another signature drink…Liquid Sunshine, which was cold brew coffee, coconut syrup, and coconut milk.  DELICIOUS!!  Not Bee Sting delicious…but delicious.  I was quite happy with it.  Not something I can get here…anywhere…so that was most of the draw for this drink in particular.  The last morning there, Cathy got the Iced Hazelnut Mocha and a Pineapple Cream Cheese Scone to enjoy for breakfast.  I still say it today…back in Louisville, Kentucky…that I miss Ha Coffee Bar.  It made that much of an impression.

Ha Coffee's Salted Caramel Cafe Au Lait with Almond Milk, Iced Bee Sting, and Iced Liquid Sunshine

Ha Coffee’s Salted Caramel Cafe Au Lait with Almond Milk, Iced Bee Sting, and Iced Liquid Sunshine

 

Skinny Mike’s Hawaiian Ice Cream, Lihue, Hawaii

I have KONG Radio to thank for the discovery of Skinny Mike’s.  As we were driving the island of Kauai on Saturday, just enjoying beaches and the like…an advertisement for Skinny Mike’s Hawaiian Ice Cream came on.  And it advertised ice cream, sorbets, and vegan ice cream.  They had my attention, and the attention of both Jenn and Cathy too.  I looked them up…and took note of where it was located.  And we vowed to go there and check them out.  At least once, yes?

And so, Saturday evening, after splitting a gluten-free pizza at a local chain…we headed over to Harbor Mall, where Skinny Mike’s is located.  We parked and marched up the stairs to the little shop.  Online I had taken a peak at the flavors, and sort of had my heart set on the Pineapple Cream.  However…they didn’t have that flavor.  So…I was left to look over the offered flavors while Jenn & Cathy made their choices.  We each got regular scoops ($3.49) of our flavor choices.  Cathy went with the Mint Chocolate Chip as it is one of her favorites…anywhere.  Jenn won with their signature flavor…a local classic…Macadamia Nut.  Hers was so good, we went back the last night there and each got a scoop of the Macademia Nut.  That’s how good that was.  For my first trip there, without the Pineapple flavor being available…I went with the suggestion of Coconut Cream.  The Coconut Cream ice cream was the perfect level of coconut flavor.  No bits of raw coconut…just the flavor infused in a creamy scoop of ice cream goodness.  It was delicious.  Smooth.  And melted fast.  Ah…coconut based things…I didn’t mind though.  Not one bit.  I eat frozen desserts rather quickly regardless.  LOL!  We were so impressed with the ice cream there that, as I said, we all went back to get the signature Macadamia Nut flavor on our last night on Kauai.  Worth it.  That was some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had.  Just…delicious.  I miss it.  I want some more of the Macadamia Nut flavor…it’s a craving that hits now.  Now that I know it exists…but can’t get it anywhere else…but there.

Skinny Mike's Hawaiian Ice Cream's Coconut Cream and Macadamia Nut Ice Cream

Skinny Mike’s Hawaiian Ice Cream’s Coconut Cream and Macadamia Nut Ice Cream

 

Java Kai, Kapaa, Hawaii

What happens when  your favorite Hawaiian coffee stop on Kauai is closed on Sunday?  You have to find a new place to get that caffeine hit.  And this was what we were left to do on Sunday morning.  Sunday.  When I should have been running a marathon.  When, instead, I was hobbling around Kapaa in search of coffee.  The stop at the little food truck-like coffee place was…not going to work for everyone.  No one was really happy with the menu options…so…we backtracked to a spot that Jenn spotted and had looked up online.  It wasn’t far from the resort.  It was a worthwhile stop in the end.  And, in the end, we all ended up with a bit of breakfast with our coffee as well.  How?  Because this place had some gluten-free options on the menu and in the bakery case.  SCORE!  This meant we could have something a little more substantial at the start of the day, instead of the meager protein bars or yogurts back at the resort.  It would mean eating better now and not making poor choices later.  And so…Jenn got one of the bars from the bakery case…the Aloha Bar ($3.75), I think.  For her caffeinated goodness that morning, she got the Iced Macanut Latte ($4.50).  Cathy went for the Breakfast Burrito ($10.50), which includes eggs, roasted potatoes, caramelized onions, and cheddar cheese, which she got with the mango-chipotle salsa.  For her drink, she got the Iced Hazelnut Mocha ($4.70).  She at hers there at the café as she was the driver.  As for me…they had gluten-free English muffins.  HELLO!  So I ended up getting the Gluten Free English Muffin with Cream Cheese ($3.95), which they kindly toasted for me…looks like in a pan…no cross-contamination.  And for the drink, I got the Iced Macanut Latte ($4.50) with Almond Milk (+$0.75).  Jenn and I had ours to go and I happily noshed away on a Glutino English Muffin with a light spread of cream cheese.  The Macanut Latte…macadamia nut flavor…espresso…nutty goodness.  And it was just the perfect drink that morning.  It was supposed to be marathon morning…and I needed a distraction.  This food, while simple and basic…was just what I needed.  The drive along the coast helped too!

Java Kai's Gluten Free English Muffin (with Cream Cheese) and Macanut Latte with Almond Milk

Java Kai’s Gluten Free English Muffin (with Cream Cheese) and Macanut Latte with Almond Milk

 

Hanalei Bay, Hanalei, Hawaii

We visited a lot of beaches while visiting Hawaii.  I mean, that’s part of the point when you visit an island, right?  But, I think, above all others, my favorite one we stopped at, and spent the most time at, was Hanalei Bay.  This beach is stunning.  A beautiful 2-mile long crescent of white sand, nestled beneath a breathtaking range of mountains.  The water was relatively calm that day, with some small waves crashing against the shore.  Despite my new friend…Bootsie…being on, we were determined to get away and enjoy the day.  Anything to keep my mind off the fact that I should have been running.  Hanalei Bay is a great beach for walking and body surfing.  Calm waves, lifeguards, and a great coast line.  I managed a few solo ventures along the waterline of the beach, just needing to at least move a little…minus the boot.  I took it off for beach time.  Strange tan lines were not on the agenda.  I was very careful of where I stepped and the movement of the sand…and would pause if a wave came up and rolled over my legs…because that undertow could be a bit strong and throw me off balance.  It was here that I realized my surf lessons the following day were not going to happen, as much as I wanted to give it a try.  It was just not going to be physically possible for me to get up on a surf board.  I was brokenhearted over this…but shrugged it off as no big deal.  These were the cards I was dealt.  Suck it up, cupcake…you’re in Hawaii!

Me and Bootsie at Hanalei Bay

Me and Bootsie at Hanalei Bay

After some walking and some laying on the beach…we got dressed and headed off for the next venture.  Which tunred out to be a good thing.  Heavy rains started soon after we had changed…and soon, Jenn and I realized just how sunburned we had gotten.  I don’t think Jenn slapped on any sunscreen.  I had…but the burn was in those places where clothes met skin or that strings were located.  I was trying to avoid strange tan lines…and yet…that is what I ended up with in the end.

That being said…for a moment, I forgot about the ankle…and the boot…and I just enjoyed the perfect afternoon at the perfect beach.

JoJo’s Shave Ice, Hanalei, Hawaii

I have my good friend Harry Cooke to thank for the journey, while in Hanalei, to JoJo’s Shave Ice.  He had mentioned it to me in a message on Facebook…and we were right there!!  And with the rain pouring down now, it gave us a good excuse to not sit in a car and try to avoid the flooding roads.  It gave us some time to hope the rain would pass and we could do more exploring.  The rain didn’t pass.  It was with us the rest of the time on the North Shore.  However, after a bit of a short (hobbling, for me) spring from the rental car to the little storefront that the Hanalei JoJo’s Shave Ice operates out of…we knew we were in for a treat.  The original JoJo’s began in Waimea in 1992, the same year that Hurricane Iniki landed on Kauai.  That store is stil there today and still has the original JoJo’s sign.  The goal of JoJo’s…to offer the ultimate in Shave Ice on Kauai…which is a true Hawaiian treat.  When they expanded into Hanalei, they took the JoJo’s traditions and secret recipes along…and introduced the smaller “junior size,” which closely matches the normal serving size of other shave ice venues throughout Hawaii.  JoJo’s doesn’t use commercially made syrups.  They, instead, carefully make up their own syrups, with a lot less sugar and more flavor than the commercially used ones by other shave ice businesses.  And…no corn syrups either.  They also have upgraded all their locations with the best ice machines on Kauai, making for an unmatched, fluffy shave.  LOVE.  The three of us each got the Junior Sizes ($4.50).  And they let you choose up to 4-5 flavors.  I don’t remember what Jenn got…but it had cherry…and perhaps lime?  I can’t recall.  Cathy got Root Beer, Lemon and Grape Shave Ice.  And I opted for two of my favorite flavors…Watermelon and Strawberry Shave Ice.  Of course, now looking back, I wish I opted for something more…local…like mango or something.  Next time.  But the shave ice at JoJo’s was huge…filling…and amazingly packed with flavor.  I can see why it’s been open for 23 years.

30 ounces of Watermelon and Strawberry flavored goodness from JoJo's Shave Ice

30 ounces of Watermelon and Strawberry flavored goodness from JoJo’s Shave Ice

 

Kalaheo Coffee Company & Café, Kalaheo, Hawaii

I know that technically Kalaheo Coffee Company & Café should have gotten a full review, as it was our place to catch a bite for lunch…on Monday afternoon.  However, it was a hot day…and the humidity was really doing a number on me.  And while there were a few options for a gluten-free vegetarian on the menu, what sounded really, really good was the Spinach and Kauai Greens Salad ($10.95).  And the reason that this didn’t warrant a Restaurant Review post was…it was a salad I could have made at home.  Honestly.  But this was what I wanted.  The Spinach and Kauai Greens Salad is a blend of fresh grown Kailani Farm greens, served with crisp spinach and topped off with strawberries and candied pecans.  I kept the feta cheese and held the side of warm flat bread for obvious reasons.  It came with a simple balsamic vinaigrette.  And it was delicious.  Light, but filling.  And cooling.  And just flat-out what I was really wanting that miserably humid day.  But…it was a salad I could make…and therefore…it garners a mention here…but the restaurant itself is cozy and has a lot of great, fresh-made, delicious sandwiches, salads, soups, etc, to choose from.  And I loved sitting in there, listening to runners who had run the day before discuss the marathon and half marathon…looking at the different food items coming out of the kitchen to each table.  Beautiful setting, beautiful food…and tasty too.  For the record, Cathy got the Hot Pastrami Sandwich, which contained grilled onions, mushrooms, and melted Swiss cheese on toasted bread.  She got it with the much raved about Garlic Cilantro Fries…which after seeing her and Jenn devour…made me really wish I could have had those.  Not safe though…not for me.  Darn it.

Kalaheo Coffee Company & Café's Spinach & Kauai Greens Salad

Kalaheo Coffee Company & Café’s Spinach & Kauai Greens Salad

 

USS Arizona Memorial – Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii

This was one ONE place that I had to visit while in Hawaii, and the main and primary reason we even island hopped over to O’ahu instead of just hanging tight on the beautiful island of Kauai.  Honolulu is definitely a hopping city and much more urban…think LA and NYC.  But this…this stop was…important.  To all three of us.  The USS Arizona Memorial is the number one visitor destination in Hawaii, drawing millions of people from all over the world to see where World War II began for the United States on December 7, 1941.  Visitors are free to explore the grounds of the Pearl Harbor Visitor’s Center, which was recently expanded from the original 3 acres to 17 acres, and is now operated by the National Park Service.  Admission and parking is free to all visitors.  Over 2000 tickets are given out free per day on a first come, first serve basis.  We had to check our bags before entering the historic site, so Jenn and I did that while Cathy went to get the tickets she reserved online for us.  We were set for the final shuttle out, at 2:45 pm.  It was the hottest day in Honolulu…and with all the metal and concrete, we were literally melting out in the sun while walking around the ground.  We ducked into the museum, but it was even hotter in there.  Bottles of water were purchased and Cathy and I downed ours before we were put on an earlier shuttle, the 2:30 pm, to head out to the memorial.  A US Navy boat taxied us out to the USS Arizona Memorial, which is built over the remains of the sunken battleship, the final resting place of the 1,177 crewmen killed on December 7, 1941, when their ship was bombed by the Japanese Naval Forces.  The memorial itself was relatively quiet upon disembarking and walking over to it.  You can still see the oil leaking out of the actual ship that is buried beneath the waters of Pearl Harbor.  It is moving and touching.  And the memorial is beautiful and humbling.  And I am so glad that we went.

USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor

USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor

 

Dole Plantation, Wahiawa, Hawaii

Two words…

DOLE WHIP.

DOLE FREAKIN’ WHIP!!  That was the primary reason to venture out to the Dole Plantation in Wahaiwa.  It was a bit of a journey…a long drive, but well worth it.  The Dole Plantation originally operated as a fruit stand beginning in 1950, before opening up to the public as “Hawaii’s ‘Pineapple Experience'” in 1989.  Another one of O’ahu’s most popular visitor attractions, the Dole Plantation provides activities for the entire family, including the Pineapple Express ($8.25/adult), the Plantation Garden Tour ($5.00/adult), and the Pineapple Garden Maze ($6.00/adult).  None of which we did…due to the cost that was associated with each one and the warm, humid weather that made us want to stick to the air conditioning.  What we did do, however, was shop at the HUGE gift shop, which carries a wide variety of Dole Plantation Gifts, local favorites, foods, and refreshments…including DOLE WHIP!!  You can even purchase a fresh pineapple to take home.  I wish I had.  The pineapple in Hawaii is freakin’ incredible.  I did some shopping, buying a few minor things like Dole Pineapple hard candy and a magnet.  Easy to transport and all.  And then, we went over to The Plantation Grille to purchase a bowl each of the world famous Dole Whip ($5.25).  It was a large serving, which I loved, and devoured enthusiastically.  Better than Disney, which is one of the few places Dole Whip is available.  This was…amazing and I wish I had gone back for seconds.  Dole Whip, by the way, is vegan and gluten free.  LOVE!!  It’s just pure frozen treat love.

Dole Whip from The Dole Plantation's Plantation Grille

Dole Whip from The Dole Plantation’s Plantation Grille

 

Panalu’u Beach Park and the Random Pineapple Roadside Stand, Hauula, Hawaii

Welcome to two of the most random stops we made on our trek around the North Shore of O’ahu.  Panalu’u Beach Park is located on O’ahu’s windward coast and has this strip of narrow, sandy beach.  The nearshore ocean bottom is shallow and has a reef, so swimming conditions here are poor.  This was a clam day at this particular beach when we pulled over to check it out.  Cathy went wading…and the water looked so refreshing (another humid and hot day!), that I took off Bootsie and kicked off my flip-flop to go wading in the surf myself.  My friend Jenn snapped my favorite picture of me on this entire trip here…with the gorgeous blue water and the white sand on the beach.  As I said on my Instagram…”Make only memories…Leave only footprints…Kill only time…”

Me on Punalu'u Beach Park (THIS IS MY FAVORITE PICTURE!)

Me on Punalu’u Beach Park (THIS IS MY FAVORITE PICTURE!)

From there, we went hunting for a shrimp place, Romey’s Kahuku Prawns and Shrimp, that the lady at Enterprise told Cathy about after we first arrived in Honolulu, when she mentioned we would be heading up to the North Shore.  Along the way, I had been hunting for mangos and we found a stand that advertised them.  We pulled into this dodgy little roadside stand, only to learn that they were out of mangos.  The weather had ended the season early.  I was bummed.  BUT…we did purchase a fresh pineapple there, so we purchased one for $5.00, and watched as this little old lady had it peeled and sliced in less that 2 minutes…bagged…and ready for us to take away.  We wasted no time, after climbing into the car, trying it out.  So fresh…so juicy…so amazing.  Hands down, the best pineapple I have eaten in my life.  Anywhere.  And I’ve had a lot of pineapple.  We did find Romy’s…and Jenn and Cathy split a plate of the Garlic and Butter Shrimp.  They ate that and I ate a good 2/3 (if not more) of the pineapple.  They helped a little after they were done with their fresh seafood.

Best.  Pineapple.  Purchase.  EVER!

BEST PINEAPPLE EVER from a random roadside stand along the North Shore of O'ahu! They peeled and chopped it right there!

BEST PINEAPPLE EVER from a random roadside stand along the North Shore of O’ahu! They peeled and chopped it right there!

 

Chief’s Luau, Waimanalo, Hawaii

Okay, again, this would generally get a blog of its own, despite not being a restaurant.  I couldn’t go to Hawaii and not do a luau, even if it is one that is so tourist-y…it’s funny.  We chose Chief’s Luau ($82.00+) due to the fact that it is the best ranked luau on O’auh AND that it had an allergen menu on their Web site.  And, yeah, it’s tourist-y, but I actually had a lot of fun at the luau.  I finally got a lei (made of shells as we had the cheapest package), had my picture taken with Chief…learned how to hula dance, watched Cathy throw a spear (rather poorly), watched Cathy make a coconut leaf headband (which she left behind), listened to great music, enjoyed the history of the dances that are native to Hawaii…and just…kicked back, laughed, and enjoyed my final night in Hawaii…with a Mai Tai and everything.  Aside from the free drink…the luau package also included dinner…and as a gluten-free vegetarian, this left only a few things for me to pick from.  Cathy was there for the meat…the pork…cooked in the ground with banana leaves…but for someone like me…I got the food that was catered in.  And that’s fine…but because it was catered, I didn’t review it.  I was left with the Seasonal Fruit Salad (more pineapple!), the Poi (GROSS…it looked like Barney’s (the purple dinosaur) snot…kind of gelatinous and goopy and YUCK.  I didn’t want to try it, but peer pressure had me at least take a taste.  NEVER AGAIN!), the Steamed White Rice and (my personal favorite) the Sweet Potatoes.  My first plate of food was not really full, and as this was all you can eat, I ventured back for more of the DELICIOUS sweet potatoes and the fruit.  Because…fruit and sweet potatoes are actually two of my favorite foods in life.  For real.  The Mai Tai’s were delicious…and I had a great time at the luau.  If you are in O’ahu and want to go to a luau…go to Chief’s.  They are #1 for a reason!

Seasonal Fruit Salad, Poi (GROSS!), White Steamed Rice, and Sweet Potatoes - my gluten free and vegetarian dinner at Chief's Luau

Seasonal Fruit Salad, Poi (GROSS!), White Steamed Rice, and Sweet Potatoes – my gluten free and vegetarian dinner at Chief’s Luau

 

Barista, Portland, Oregon

The flight we took back to the mainland went through Portland, where we disembarked and stayed an entire day, so we could explore.  Cathy and Jenn had Voodoo Doughnuts for breakfast.  We hit up the food pods for lunch, we did a gastropub for dinner.  But after the stop for doughnuts, it was vital that we got caffeine.  And I chose Barista, out of all the different coffee shops in Portland.  I chose wisely…of this I am certain.  Being a former barista, myself, I not only liked the name, I liked everything I read about them.  Barista was established by coffee legend, Billy Wilson, who now has four (4) Barista cafés open in the Portland area.  Let me tell you, this cofee delivers!!  Barista is one of the first multi-roaster shops in the Portland area, showcasing Heart, Coava, and another roaster on bar for espresso or drip.  Barista is known for serving exceptional coffees from the world’s finest roasters, prepared by the most skilled baristas in the Portland area.  No joke.  Jenn skipped out on this amazing experience, but both Cathy and I partook of the opportunity to try the coffee at the Downtown Barista location.  Cathy ordered the Semi-Sweet Valrohna Mocha ($4.50).  I went for the Bittersweet Valrohna Mocha ($4.50) with Almond Milk (+$0.75).  It was delicious.  Strong…but smooth.  There was this perfect balance of chocolate and espresso that just…melted together.  The milk softened up the bite of the espresso itself, cutting through the dark chocolate.  OH MY GOD…one of the best coffees I have ever had.  If you are in Portland and love coffee…you are missing out if you don’t swing by one of the Barista locations.  For real.  I loved every sip.  Even better…finally a coffeeshop that gives me an 8 ounce cup of coffee for a small!!  THANK YOU!

Barista's Bittersweet Valrohna Mocha with Almond Milk

Barista’s Bittersweet Valrohna Mocha with Almond Milk

And that was it.  It was Portland to Vegas to Louisville from there.  And my 10 day vacation came to an end.  Back in Louisville, it’s hard for me to ignore Bootsie.  It’s a depressing reminder of everything I’ve had to cancel for the upcoming weeks leading into November.  I tried not to fuss much over it on the trip.  And, I ate whatever I wanted…whenever I wanted…as long as it fit into my dietary restrictions.  And despite limited mobility and really lack of much movement at all…while continuing to stuff my face with local eats…I lost 3 pounds.  I’ve put it back on since coming home though…so no worries.  LOL!

It was a beautiful trip to paradise…and I’m already dreaming about my return.  Next time…to actually run the Kauai Marathon!!

The Comeback Kid

“It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.”
-George Sheehan

I am a beautiful work in progress.

Right?

I try to keep telling myself this, but there are moments of the day, when the doubts about my ability to run…run like the wind…run like I used to…they all just creep into my brain and it’s hard to get past that negativity.  I guess I got so used to people telling me as of late that “I can’t” do this and “I shouldn’t” do this…and those little bits of negative talk are really starting to take hold in my brain.  The fighter inside me has been struggling.  I’m starting to hear those “can’ts and “won’ts” and…you know…I’m starting to really believe that any sort of comeback…isn’t going to happen.

This…is it.

For anyone who has suffered an athletic injury (or an injury of any sort), you may know what I’m talking about.  I get discouraged so easily these days.  I go out for a run, and at the slightest inkling of pain, I slow…I stop…I don’t push.  I don’t want to be where I was 2 months ago.  I don’t want to be able to only lift weights and swim.  I don’t love weights or swimming.  I love to run.  But, right now, it’s hard to love something when most everyone tells you that you’re going about it wrong or that you just shouldn’t be doing it.  I should be running…because I can run.  My podiatrist gave me permission to run.  I’m building into it via an altered training plan from the NYRR…with much slower paces and much easier distances/runs.  And I thought I was okay with this…until I was told I wasn’t being smart about my comeback.

Lately, every post I have made has been followed by the simple sentiment of “#comebackkid.”  Because, honestly, this injury warrants its own hashtag.  In a sense, it’s not even an injury.  My foot became inflamed.  No stress fracture, like originally thought…just pain.  Enough that I couldn’t run and sometimes could hardly walk.  I’ve never been off running for that long and it was hard.  I felt like I was losing fitness, because any cardio save for laps in the swimming pool was not allowed.  I was placed on an anti-inflammatory and after a week…I was told I could resume running.  It was painful.  Every single run for 30 days was still twinging and hurting.  I wasn’t running as fast…or as hard…or even really following the altered plan.  I was just…doing some miles.  And this past Friday, as my prescription was coming up for refill, I called my podiatrist and told him the prescription wasn’t working.  I was still hurting.  He gave me samples of a different medicine to try.  I started it on Saturday morning.

Saturday morning…

I was meeting up with my friends Matthew, Patrick, and Brant for a 13.1 mile run.  Birthday half marathon, woohoo!  No medal…just a run.  A simple…easy…run.  I had purchased new shoes…because so many people said that when they had foot pain, this particular brand, Hoka’s, helped.  I wore them out…my feet felt unwieldy and…rather clown-like.  I tried to ignore the Bozo-factor and just see if these did anything to help my foot.  The four of us set out…and I immediately fell behind.  Matthew was gracious enough to stick it out at my pace.  By Mile 5, I told him I was ready to stop and call my roommate to come and pick me up…but he talked me through it and in the end…with only one walk break around Mile 11, he got me through all of those miles.  Honestly, I couldn’t have finished that run without him.  Sweaty hugs followed.  I was so glad he was there.  I would have been left in the dust by Patrick and Bryant.  I’m not there yet.  I hope to get there soon.

Saturday morning was heart-wrenching.   A half marathon used to be nothing for me.  And here I was, struggling to make it.  Fighting my own thoughts that were telling me to quit and give up.  Two months off from running does take a toll on your fitness…it does.  Regardless of how active I managed to be and the cross-training I worked in…it wasn’t the same as running, so running has naturally felt harder as I’ve gotten back into it.  I don’t know what it was about Saturday…but the level of accomplishment for running 13.1 miles in 1:51:36 was completely shadowed by the fact that I wasn’t running it as I felt I should be.  I felt like I was making excuses.  I wasn’t.  I was stating facts.  I have been injured.  I haven’t run for 2 months.  I can’t immediately hop into a sub-8 minute pace.  But, runners are so numbers oriented.  We’re perfectionists.  We base so much of our training on those numbers…and the numbers I am now assigned are back to the paces I would have run three years ago…back when I started.

It’s like starting over.  And that’s what has been nagging at my mind.  I have a marathon coming up…and I’m struggling sometimes with 4 miles.  Not because I hurt…nope…because in my mind, because so many times I was told I can’t…I am starting to believe…I can’t.  And that’s what hurts the most.

For the record, I came out of the run with no foot pain…just a little stiffness in the quads.  I figured that was from new shoes.  I took all of Sunday off to recover (no gym either!).  And this morning, I laced up the Hoka’s again for my three mile easy paced run.  By Mile 2, I was done with them.  I love the soft landing they provide and the stability…but they feel so heavy and my steps and stride and feet feel so clunky.  I paused my run, went up to my apartment and switched into my Newton’s for the final mile.  I felt so much better, lighter, and confident in those.  So…guess what’s getting sent back for a full refund?

Bye, bye Hoka’s.

My goals have definitely shifted since this injury, but that doesn’t mean that I’m okay with them.  I’m disappointed…naturally.  And I think it’s only right that I feel this way.  I’m upset at my body…for not only not being in marathon shape, but for betraying me like it did.  I’m mad at myself…because, despite having done everything right…everything I was supposed to be doing…I, mentally, am a mess.  Physically, I’m getting there.  Well…some days are better than others.  But…it’s a slow process.  But those voices…the ones that have told me all this time that I can’t and that I shouldn’t…they’re winning.  The proof came in my last two runs.  I’ve tried to shake it off, but when I can feel tears in my eyes, not due to pain, but due to that little voice in my head now echoing those can’ts and shouldn’ts…I realize…they’ve won.  And all those negative thoughts are now my own.  I can ignore the voices of others to a point…but when their words start to become my own…confidence takes a nosedive…and I start questioning my own abilities.

Comebacks are hard…but I’m a fighter.  Right now, the important thing is to put one foot in front of the other.  The perfectionist in me…that competitive voice…it looks at my numbers and I immediately want to compare them to where I was last year…and I know I can’t.  But I do.  Like I said…runner’s live their lives off of numbers and statistics.  It’s hard to separate myself from the statistics I recorded last year.  It’s hard not to compare myself, not just to where I was last year, but to others, who are getting stronger and faster…where as I feel 3 easy miles at a pace that would have been easy a year ago…now feels hard.  It messes with the mind…which then messes with the confidence…which then only leads me down this path of depression and low self-esteem.  And a definite drop in confidence.

A change in goals doesn’t always make for a happy runner.  But it’s necessary.  The hard part is wrapping my brain around it…and understanding that it’s time to focus on myself…not on others.  It’s time to tune out the negativity…from other people, but mostly from myself.  It’s time to take charge…and just focus on building myself back up.  The confidence will come back…as will the speed.  Patience and positivity is what I need most.  Because it will help get me back on track…even if that road is a little rocky along the way.

It’s called a comeback for a reason, right?

#comebackkid

Life is a marathon…

Me, holding my niece Baileigh Kendyl, and with my nephew Chace Tanner

Me, holding my niece Baileigh Kendyl, and with my nephew Chace Tanner

It’s Sunday morning, August 31, 2014.

I should be out on the course, probably around Mile 16-ish of the Tupelo Marathon in Tupelo, Mississippi.

I should be logging a finish this morning…in just slightly over an hour from the typing of these words…of my 7th marathon this year.

I should be tired, slogging through heat and rain (it is SO raining there), my mind focused on that finish line.

I should be putting all my hard training over the past few weeks to work to accomplish a goal that I signed up for and got myself in shape for, right?

*crickets chirp*

Well…I’m not.

I’m not doing any of those things.

Instead, I am sitting in my room at my parents home in Birmingham, Alabama.  I have an exercise mat spread out on the floor and a cold bottle of water at my side.  I just completed a set of some of the things that have been my day-in-and-day-out for the past month and a half.  Push-ups, crunches, squats, and some ab toning exercises.

My feet are currently “booted” (it’s the best description) in KT Tape that is being used to stabilize my ankles and my feet in general.  I sort of look like I have racing strips up my calf muscles.  It’s not a good look.  It definitely doesn’t go well with dress clothes.  But it will surely be the look of next spring.  Just…take my word on this, okay?  HA!

Why?

No one and no test can tell me.  Honestly.  I have become yet another marvel to my podiatrist and the radiologist.  But I am, as usual, getting ahead of myself.  Let me rewind to a month and a half ago.  It was a warm Tuesday morning, around 3:30 a.m.  My NYC training plan called for 6×800 meters with a 45 second break in between each one.  I have no track nearby so I was going to just have to do circles in my parking lot and just really watch the distance on my Garmin.  I hated that…but you do what you have to with the circumstances you are given.  In my case – no track…dark parking lot…3:30 a.m. darkness…and a whole lot of hate for speed work.  Let’s face it…these short legs are made for distance and endurance…not so much speed!  But…I set to it, doing my 1 mile warm up and then hitting those intervals the best I could manage and being diligent about that 45 second recovery.  I stopped for water on a couple, because hydration is important to me.  Anyway…I finished those up and went on my cool down mileage to round it off to the planned 7 miles on my plan.

And that’s where it all went to hell.

I was finishing up the last mile, not even a quarter of a mile through it when my foot started to hurt.  It hurt so bad that I could hardly run a few steps without just pain.  My immediate reaction was to stop running.  So…I did.  I think I differ from a lot of my running compatriots in that when something hurts…I don’t “push through the pain” nor “push myself to the point of puking.”  I stop.  I can’t fathom pushing through something and damaging my body further or worse.  My brain can’t wrap around that mentality.  I hobbled home, feeling defeated and more than a little worried about my foot.  That morning, I called my podiatrist’s office and tried to get in for an appointment.  The earliest one they had was 2 weeks away.  I explained my problem and they said that if they had something open up sooner, they’d call me.  I sighed…and said okay.  That afternoon, they called and said they had a 9:00 a.m. opening on the following morning…Wednesday.  I took it.

Long story made as short as I can manage…

The initial X-Rays showed what he called my foot “thinking” about fracturing.  So it wasn’t quite a stress fracture…but the foot was right on the cusp.  I was ordered into 2 weeks of no running, no spinning, no fierce walking…just upper body weights and swimming.  I was going to get fitted for some new orthodics as well…ones that were more flexible so I would be okay running in them.  My feet had changed.  My orthodics no longer fit my feet right.  It was causing problems.  Big problems, apparently.  I took my 2 week running/gym/spinning hiatus with much misery and complaining.  I bought some hand weights and a kettlebell.  I went to the gym every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning at 5 a.m. to swim laps in the pool.  I’m not a strong nor a fast swimmer so my goal began to be to at least get in 1800 yards…or 1 mile…which would take me between 50-55 minutes.  Told you…I’m slow.  After my required time off, I went back in and had my feet molded for the new orthodics and X-rayed again.  The foot looked much better and I was given the okay to start running again…only 2-4 miles. If it hurt…I was to back off.  I could start that the very next day.  It was a Thursday.  That morning, I got out of bed and donned my running and reflective gear.  The foot was still sore, but I chocked that up to being because of being poked and prodded by the podiatrist the previous afternoon.  I put on my Adidas Boosts…I took in some water…and I turned on my Garmin, heading down my apartment stairs to get in 2 miles.  I’d start small and build.  I went about 3 steps before I started to feel pain.  I thought maybe I was stiff and managed to get to the very end of my parking lot before pausing my Garmin and turning around.  Maybe I should put my orthodics in.  Second verse…same as the first.  Maybe if I wore my Newtons instead.  Third time wasn’t the charm.  I managed 1/4 mile of excruciating pain.  Feeling defeated and deflated…I hobbled back inside, cried, and put on shoes to head to the gym and hit the weight machines.  I tried the next few mornings…and couldn’t get more than 10 steps.  After a week of this and no improvement, I called my podiatrist back.  They had me come in on that Thursday in the morning.  Another round of X-Rays were taken…and again showed nothing.  So, my podiatrist taped up my feet again and scheduled me for an MRI.  They were hoping for that very same day…but it wasn’t happening until Monday.  Another weekend of nothing but swimming and weights.  I was not happy.

MRI day came and went and that following Thursday, I was back in my podiatrist’s office to get the results.  The MRI showed nothing…nothing at all.  No fractures.  Nothing wrong with the bones.  When my podiatrist got the results on Tuesday, he phoned the radiologist and they went slide-by-slide through my MRI because, as he said to the radiologist…”I have an elite runner who wants to get back to running yesterday and she can’t because her foot is hurting.  We need to find out why.”  And so…after 25 minutes working together, they decided it had to do with the fluid in my foot and the inflammation it was causing.  Joy.  I was delegated to more rest.  Another week of no running and this new tape job.  I was prescribed Celebrex, which my insurance refused, so 2 days later, that mess got resolved and I was put on Mobic for the inflammation.  I was told I could walk, I could bike, I could (finally) get back on the eliptical, I could swim, I could do more upper body weights…just no running for a week.  I went back to spin class that Friday.  It was tough.  I feel out of shape.  I feel that time off did mess with my fitness despite doing my best to stay active with slower than a snail swimming and weights.  I could tell I hadn’t been sweating it out or doing cardio.  I was happy to be there.  I was happy to be sweating again.

Tupelo Marathon was this coming weekend.  On Friday…I ran 1 mile.  Slowly.  With minimal pain.  It was there…it just wasn’t the stabby ow ow ow I am going to die pain I had been feeling.  It was slow…and steady…and just a mile.

I had already resigned myself to the fact that I was going to DNS my second marathon this year (the first one being Mercedes back in February due to a severely sprained ankle).  There was no way that Tupelo could happen.  I was a month and a half without running.  No.  I wasn’t going to go from 0 miles to 26.2 miles when a mile was still not perfect.

But I also believe things happen for a reason…

On Wednesday, August 27, 2014, at 1:37 p.m., my sister welcomed into the world a beautiful baby girl, Baileigh Kendyl, weighing 8 pounds 2 ounces.  She was beautiful and perfect.  And now that I didn’t have a commitment to be in Tupelo to run a marathon…I could slip down to Birmingham, Alabama and see my niece.  For the first time, hold one of the new babies in my family (this makes my sister’s 3rd child, my brother has 4)…when they were brand new.  The best part was…only my parents knew I was coming down.  I wanted to surprise my sister.  I left Friday after work, the same day she and Baileigh were released from the hospital to go home.  I got to my parents house late…due to Labor Day traffic…around 11 p.m.

The following day, after lunch, I was walking into my sister’s house…no one having a clue I was there…and getting to meet my beautiful and perfect new niece.  It topped packet pickup and trying to find somewhere to get a gluten-free pizza in Tupelo, Mississippi…any day.  I was smitten and in love with the newest addition to the family for sure.  And every chance I had to hold her…I totally did.

I paused there, without you knowing it (which, now you do…because I told on myself) to go out for another slow run.  I managed 2 miles here in my parents neighborhood, but I’m feeling it.  I definitely feel like I’ve lost a good amount of fitness with the 1.5 month hiatus I’ve been on.  My foot still twinges…though not debilitating when it does so.  And I fight for each step more than I normally would have to.  If I feel pain…yes…I stop.  I couldn’t fathom risking further or worse injury to myself and pressing on.  Do I hate that a majority of my friends are running half marathons, marathons, or some semblance of miles this weekend…and I can barely squeak in 2 miles?  Yep.  I don’t hate them for it…I hate my body for breaking on me.  I hate that I can’t be joining them on these hard-earned and fought for miles.

But…my 26.2 miles was not meant to be.  I was needed in Birmingham.  I was supposed to be here…with my family…as we welcome Baileigh Kendyl to our humble, fun, and quirky lives.  I was meant to be loved on and spend a lot of time with my nephew, Chace, who usually shies away from me…because I’m hardly here.  He was all about me yesterday and I ate up every moment he spent clinging to me.  I love him so much.  I loved seeing Landon…ride his bike, play games, and watch the Auburn game.  I loved talking with him…and getting hugs and love.  Yes…this was way better than any race…even if the medal at the end was pretty stellar.

What this brings me to is this…

LIFE IS A MARATHON.

It’s not meant to be a sprint.  So…slow down.  It’s okay to set high standards and goals, but understand these don’t have to be accomplished right away.  Give it and yourself time.  You’re in it for the long run.  Things shouldn’t and won’t happen right away.  There will be obstacles and setbacks…but they will only make you stronger.  Strive for greatness, but be prepared to fall and to fail.  Just don’t give up.  Aim for the stars…you will eventually get there.  Pace yourself.  Don’t overtrain.  Don’t overdo it.  Be bold.  Be daring.  But be kind to yourself.  Don’t miss out on special moments and amazing events because of a training schedule or a diet or a race.  You can hit a reset the next day…or the day after that.  Keep your eye on the prize, but also your mind and heart on the important things in life.  Know that change doesn’t happen overnight.  And, yes…life is hard.  It’s meant to be hard.  We wouldn’t grow or overcome anything if it were easy.  So…take it one step at a time.  You come into this life a perfect baby…but you leave it with imperfections.  It’s okay to have flaws and to fall short…never give up…never stop trying…but try within reason and don’t miss out on life’s most precious moments.  Slow down.  Take it in.  Breathe.  Stretch.  And love.  Love life and everything you do in life.  Don’t obsess and don’t try to control the outcomes of things you have no control over.  If it’s meant to be, it will be.  If not…you will always have other opportunities.  The finish line, regardless of how quickly you get there, is always right ahead.  You aren’t finished yet…because in the marathon of life…you have a lot more than 26.2 miles.  But each step…each breath…each time you push yourself just a little more…you get a little stronger…and a little better.  And when you do reach that finish line, you’ll know it was all worth it in the end.  Even if it took longer than you thought.

Welcome to my world, Baileigh Kendyl Morrow.  I can’t wait to take your hand and guide you through some of it with me.