Suz's love for COWS + Allan's work with LASERS = one unique blog name! Welcome to our blog filled with race recaps, pictures of our labs, and everything else we share with blogland!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Life Without Limits Half

Life Without Limits Half Marathon in Florence, AL, was my 11th half for the year and the 2nd in the Birmingham Triple Crown Series that I'm participating in. Florence is only a little over an hour away so I drove over on Friday to pick up my packet and then drove back over on Saturday morning for the race. The drive was beautiful and it was all I could do to concentrate on the road and not look at all the leaves changing colors.

start and finish at the Marriott Conference Center

To say that Saturday morning was a less than ideal start would be a huge understatement. I was up sick all night long and felt like I had hardly slept when the alarm went off at 5:30. It was cold, dark, and rainy and the winds were gusting around 30 mph. Doesn't that sound like wonderful race conditions? Luckily by the time I got to Florence the rain had stopped.

running across a bridge in the wind is not the fun you might imagine it is
When the race started I was feeling much better and felt like racing so I decided I was going to try to PR. What was supposed to be the first 13 miles of a 17-18 mile training run turned into a race. I had a feeling after running in the cold and the wind the likelihood that I would run 4-5 miles once I drove home after the race was slim to none so I decided to shoot for a PR.

View from the first bridge
The first ten miles of the race were mostly flat and the course was nice and quiet. I had taken off my gloves but my arm warmers ended up staying on the entire race. I warmed up but the wind cut straight to the bone from start to finish. My 10 mile split time was 1:52:55 which is my fastest 10 mile run EVER!

The nature trails we ran on were so beautiful
By this time I was off the paved nature trails and onto the road again and that's when my time slowed down A LOT. Allow me to introduce Exhibit A below. The wind was horrible and I was freezing. I also hate heights so I was doing my best to keep my eyes forward instead of looking at the water below me on the right. I ran most of the bridge but I felt like I was using all of my energy and getting nowhere.

I am not even lying when I say this was an entire mile long
When I got off the bridge I only had 1.5 miles to go and I was thinking it would be mostly flat and I could still push myself and PR. I was wrong. The last 1.5 miles contained hill after hill all the way to the finish. The most cruel part of it all is the hill right before you cross the finish line. There was no sprint to the finish on this one and I missed a PR with a finish time of 2:30:13.

This shirt is the biggest medium I've ever seen!

I can't be upset since this was my third fastest half. Making excuses is something I won't do so I'm proud that I ran as fast as I did with the cold and wind and running off little sleep. It probably didn't help that I wasn't able to eat anything before the race. Would I run this one again? Possibly so but only if there isn't anything else I'd rather run that falls on the same day. With a price tag of $50 and the fact that it's within driving distance it will probably end up on my race calendar again in the future.

Are you afraid of heights?
What's the windiest race you've run in?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Meet Our "Family"

The crazy thing about blogging (in my opinion) is remembering that most people who read our blog only know us from the blog world unless we've met in real life. Therein lies the problem. I talk about people, events, and things as though you guys all know exactly what I mean. After a few comments and questions about some things I decided to explain some things starting with our family.

Rachel (my sister) and I
By now I'm sure you all know our immediate family consists of myself, Allan, Sasha (Allan's dog), and Lucky (my dog). My mom and dad still live on the farm I grew up on and I have one sister (pictured above) who is expecting a little boy in January. She and her husband (AF pilot) live in FL.

Jodi, Adam, and Ali
You guys probably also recognize Allan's younger brother Adam, his wife Jodi, and their daughter Ali. They blog here and are expecting their second baby in April. Allan has two older brothers (Andrew & Austin). Andrew's wife Tanya is the one we run in memory of each year for Liz Hurley. We have two nephews who I just love. Andrew and the boys stop and stay with us on their way to the beach in the summer and I look forward to their visit every year!

we took a walk around the neighborhood during their visit this past summer
Allan's other older brother Austin is married and he and his wife have two little girls. They live in NC so we don't see them very often. Allan's mom is only an hour and a half away and is on the way to my parent's and my sister's so we see her more often than any of our family. She and I are very close and I feel so fortunate to have her in my life! Allan's dad and stepmom live out west and Allan sees them as often as he can when he is on that side of the country for work.

Austin & his family
The only other group of people that I think need explaining are our Auburn Wrestling/Mat Cats family. Allan and I met through wrestling at Auburn. He wrestled during college and I was president of the Mat Cats, our hostess organization, for three years. During our years at Auburn we became very close with several people involved in the two organizations and they made up a big part of our wedding part. This is the group we did the lake trip with earlier this month and for the most part these are the people we've remained closest with after college. Every week we had Sunday night dinner for awhile we rotated houses but for a long time it was always at my house. I'm not sure what we would do without these people who became our family.

Our wedding party
To our family that reads this-hope you guys know how much all of you mean to us. We love you all!

Do you have family that isn't actually related to you at all?
What's the craziest thing about blogging in your your opinion?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Liz Hurley Ribbon Run 2012

In our house there are two races that are on our calendar each year and they are Cotton Row and Liz Hurley. This is our third year running Liz Hurley and as always things were run smoothly from registration all the way through to the post-race celebration. This is one race where I enjoy all the outfits and shirts because several teams design their own shirt and you will have everyone from moms, dad, kids, and dogs outfitted head to toe in pink!

I'm convinced Ali's favorite part of the race had nothing to do with running and everything to do with dogs
Allan and Adam planned to run together for the men's race but Allan said he couldn't keep up with Adam from the start and he hoped to catch him by the end. When we saw them running through the finishing chute Allan looked pretty good and Adam looked like he had given everything he had on the course. They sprinted across the line at 25:33. Adam said something about running the first mile in 6 minutes and I was blown away. Never have I ever run a 6 minute mile! Congratulations on your first 5K Adam! Be ready-I'm going to have you running half marathons soon!

Lead runners and that's Adam on the right in a white shirt and blue shorts
While initially my plan was to set a new PR and run a sub-30 5K I changed my mind and wanted to run with Jodi. The races are all about having a great time for me and I've never been one to get wrapped up in being fast so a sub-30 5K will have to wait for another day. Jodi ran a great race and I couldn't have been more proud of her. Not sure if we have spilled the beans on the blog or not but Jodi is pregnant with their second child and she ran a 37: 34 at over three months pregnant and without any training to speak of. I am crying right now just thinking about how grateful I am that we were able to run this race together as sisters (technically in laws but I don't use that word).

We are right behind the boy and the girl with the pink headband
With the race over we got in line for massages and attempted to find Adam, Allan, and Ali. Once we were all reunited and everyone had their fill of pizza and other post-race goodies we took off to the house for the Auburn game. If you are in the Huntsville area I highly recommend running this race. It's a lot of fun and for a great cause! I would like to think that the four of us made Tanya proud. I know she and the other wonderful women in our family that breast cancer has taken from us too soon were smiling down on us today as we ran and thought of them.

I ran for Tanya, Debbie, Peggy, Barbara, and Sherri
Thank you all so much for your support. I'll be in touch with those who donated so you can pick your prizes today!

Do you have any races that you run each year?
Do you run for breast cancer or another type of cancer or disease?

A Merry Little Christmas


A Merry Little Christmas by Anita Higman  is such a sweet story that takes place in Oklahoma leading up to Christmas. Franny, a sweet farm girl used to running the farm alone, is quite taken aback when a handsome, well-dressed man shows up wanting to buy the farm. It had been for sale for over a decade and Franny had kept the selling price high. I believe she knew the farm was worth every penny she was asking but I also believe she thought a high asking price would keep it from selling so she could pursue her dreams of being a radio deejay. Regardless of her reasons the farm now had a new owner and Charlie wished to hire Franny to teach him what he needed to know to be a farmer in a very short three weeks. What began as a little spark between the two of them had grown into something more when Franny drove away after Thanksgiving to travel to the city and start a new life.

What happened within those next couple of days was something neither of them saw coming. Soon Franny found herself back on the farm and Charlie found himself caught between a rock and a hard place with his father. It was wonderful to see how two people having been raised in such different homes were able to learn from one another and discover the true meaning of family and find love once and for all.

The only bad thing I can say about the book is that I wished more of it had taken place around Christmas. Other than that it was a great story!

About A Merry Little Christmas: 

Fall in love with this cozy story about two people from different worlds.
Franny Martin is an Oklahoma farm girl who's preparing to spend the holidays alone...again. Then Charlie Landau shows up one day, all wealth and polish, and offers to buy Franny's farm. Franny has no money to speak of, but she is clever and spirited, and she's more than happy to sell the farm and move to the city.

As Sinatra croons from the radio and Christmas descends upon her charming farm, Franny teaches Charlie the curious and sometimes comical ways of country life. In the process, they unearth some discoveries of the heart-that sometimes love comes when you're least ready for it. Will the holidays bring their most impossible dreams within reach?

Meet Anita:
Best-selling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has over thirty books published (several coauthored) for adults and children. She's been a Barnes & Noble "Author of the Month" for Houston and has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Anita loves good movies, exotic teas, and brunch with her friends.

Find out more about Anita at
 Author Anita Higman invites readers to kick off the season with a spirited holiday tale.
Anita is spreading the Christmas cheer by giving away FIFTEEN COPIES of the book.
To enter to win A Merry Little Christmas, just head over to THE CONTEST PAGE at Anita’s website and fill out the short form. Be sure to put BLOG CONTEST in the Subject Line. That’s it.
Winners will be announced on the Litfuse blog (and notified by email) on 11/9.
I received this book free of charge from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, October 19, 2012

What to Run in 2013?

I've been working on my 2013 race calendar and although I haven't registered for anything I do have several that I've been reading about and I've got 3 pages of race names and dates scribbled in a notebook.  The race below was cancelled in 2012 due to tornadoes in the area and the opportunity to run a half through Auburn is one that I can't pass up so more likely than not this one will make the cut for 2013 and will probably kick off my races for the year.

Oak Barrel is hands down my favorite half marathon I've run to date and after running 10 half marathons this year so far and 11 total I've gotten a pretty good feel for what I like and don't like in a half and what I want to pay. This race is going to be a group event next year and I'm more excited about this than I am about any race I've run to date. Our college friends are going to get together for the weekend and several of us are planning to run this half. I think it's going to be a great race for all of them and a wonderful weekend in general. My half PR is on this course so unless I run a fast half before then I've got my sights set on a big PR for this race.

In late 2011 I committed to running 12 half marathons in 2012 and at the time I thought it would be incredibly difficult to do but now that the year is winding down I'm thinking 13 in 2013 isn't completely out of the question. Last year Jill organized the group of us that would be running 12 in 2012. I didn't take part in either of the corporate sponsorships because this challenge was more about proving to myself I was capable of doing this rather than anything else. A year ago I had not even run my first half so it's amazing what a difference a year makes especially for me as a runner.

Like I said I'd love suggestions from all of you for races to run in 2013. While I would mainly like to focus on half marathons if there are any shorter (or longer) races that you think are outstanding then feel free to throw those out too. Good luck in planning your 2013 race calendar! Is it sad that I already have a race on my calendar for 2014? 

**Today is the last day for our Team Tanya Raffle & Virtual Run and as it stands right now we have way more prizes than people to give them to. Thanks for all of your support with March of Dimes, Wounded Warrior Project, and the Liz Hurley Ribbon Run this year. You all never cease to amaze me with your generosity!

What races would you recommend for next year?
Would you run 13 half marathons in 2013?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Last Two Days for Team Tanya Run & Raffle

Today I picked up our race packets for the Liz Hurley Ribbon Run on Saturday and I couldn't be more excited. I'm normally not a big fan of wearing pink but I always make an exception during October and wear pink as often as possible. On Saturday I'll be racing in pink and running for Tanya. I can't promise I can convince Allan to wear pink but maybe he will sport a pink headband if I ask very nicely!

Our first year running Liz Hurley I convinced him to wear an Under Armour headband and to Sharpie tattoo his arms!
If you haven't already donated then please don't wait too much longer. There are some great prizes up for grabs and everyone who donates is going to win one as well as be in the running for a $50 gift card of your choice. Please check out this post for all the details and please consider supporting Team Tanya and help us raise money for breast cancer awareness.

Will your husband, boyfriend, brother, dad, etc. wear pink?
*Allan doesn't wear pink but my dad does and he is always proud to wear his pink Under Armour polo with the breast cancer ribbon the sleeve. Honestly I love nothing more than to see a man brave enough to wear a little pink!

A Wreath of Snow

A Wreath of Snow was such a wonderful Christmas story. I couldn't help but feel for all of the characters as you see how much their lives were changed after an accident ten years ago. It seems as though no one involved has moved on as much as one might expect after that much time has passed. When he boarded the train I knew that Gordon, the young drunk man who threw his curling stone and injured a boy on the ice, was torn between leaving and going back to find the family whose lives he felt sure he had ruined ten years prior. Within a few moments he discovers that the beautiful young woman across the aisle is none other than Meg, the young boy's sister. In the evening when the train derails, Gordon finds himself assisting Meg in helping a young mother and her little boy. During their long walk back to the train station Meg opens up to Gordon believing he is a stranger. He reveals his true identity and in a crazy turn of events finds himself spending Christmas with Meg, her parents, and her brother. He follows the promptings of God and confesses his true identity to the entire family without admitting that Meg already knew. What happens after that wasn't what I expected at all and made the story quite intriguing.

I received this book free of charge from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review.

American Tapestries Review-Oregon Trail & Titanic

Where the Trail Ends by Melanie Dobson is the first book I've read that takes place during a time when many Americans were selling everything in order to head west on the Oregon Trail to start a new life. Samantha's family had planned to travel west to Oregon where her mother could regain her health but unfortunately she died before they left. Samantha, her younger brother, and her father made the trip anyway and found themselves in a group of fellow families and individuals who went from strangers to family rather rapidly as they fought to survive the trip. Samantha found herself attracted to Jack, a young single man traveling alone. Unfortunately when things get rough and a decision that could divide their group takes place Samantha finds herself unable to trust Jack. Their relationship as well as their journey west takes a different route and tragedy strikes. Samantha and her brother Micah eventually make it to Fort Vancouver but not before capsizing a borrowed canoe and finding themselves at the mercy of a man who came to their rescue. Alex, Samantha's rescuer, is the second in command at Fort Vancouver and next in line to be president of Hudson Bay Company. He has promised to marry Lady Judith but the more time he spends with Samantha and Micah the more he finds himself thinking of her and contemplating what it would be like if he stayed instead of taking the ship in the spring back to London to marry Lady Judith. Everything changes when the ship arrives with Lady Judith on board. I highly recommend the book to anyone who enjoys reading stories set during this time period.
Where the Trail Ends - Melanie Dobson


Link to buy the book: 

About the Book: 

A young woman traveling the Oregon Trail in 1842 must rely on a stranger to bring her to safety. But whom can she trust with her heart?

For two thousand miles along the trail to Oregon Country, Samantha Waldron and her family must overcome tremendous challenges to reach the Willamette Valley before winter. Together they weather autumn storms, hunger and thirst, and the dangers of a wild and unfamiliar country. But when their canoe capsizes on the Columbia River, they must rely on handsome British exporter Alexander Clarke to rescue them from the icy water.

Alex escorts Samantha and her young brother, Micah, to Fort Vancouver. There Samantha is overwhelmed with men vying for her affections, but the only one who intrigues her-Alex-is the one she cannot have. When his betrothed arrives unexpectedly from England to escort him home, Samantha becomes determined to create a home for herself and Micah in the fertile valley far away from the fort. But how will an unmarried woman support herself and her brother in the wilderness alone? 

Then Micah disappears into the wilderness one rainy night, and Samantha must rely on the man she loves-the man she’s trying desperately to forget-to rescue her brother before it’s too late.

Meet Melanie: 

Melanie Dobson has written ten contemporary and historical novels including five releases in Summerside’s Love Finds You series. In 2011, two of her releases won Carol Awards: Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa (for historical romance) and The Silent Order (for romantic suspense).
Prior to her writing career, Melanie was the corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family and a publicist for The Family Channel. She later launched her own public relations company and worked in the fields of publicity and journalism for more than fifteen years.
Melanie and her family enjoy their home in the Pacific Northwest. The entire Dobson family loves to travel and hike in both the mountains and along the cliffs above the Pacific.

When Melanie isn’t writing or playing with her family, she enjoys exploring ghost towns and dusty back roads, line dancing, and reading inspirational fiction.

Find out more about Melanie at


Celebrate with Melanie by entering to win a Kindle Fire!

One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • Where the Trail Ends by Melanie Dobson
  • Queen of the Waves by Janice Thompson
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on October 17th. Winner will be announced at the American Tapestries Author Chat Facebook Party on 10/18. Connect with authors Melanie Dobson and Janice Thompson for an evening of book chat, trivia and fun! There will also be gift certificates, books, and a Book Club Prize Pack to be won (10 copies for your book club or small group)!

So grab your copy of Where the Trail Ends and  Queen of the Waves and join Melanie Dobson and Janice Thompson on the evening of the October 18th for a chance to connect with the authors and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the books - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 18th!

Queen of the Waves by Janice Thompson is a book I knew I would love before reading a single page. I'm a huge Titanic fan and for years I've ready anything and everything about the Titanic. That time period makes for a great historical fiction and Queen of the Waves most certainly fit the bill. Immediately I couldn't help but hope that Tessa would escapes the clutches of her alcoholic father who turned abusive in a moment's notice. When I was introduced to Jacqueline in the story I envisioned the youngest daughter from Downton Abbey and in my mind that is how I pictured her throughout the novel. This is a wonderful story of one young woman and her escape from a world of wanting for nothing in order to have one in which marrying for love is a possibility and another young woman who is given the opportunity of a lifetime to sail on board Titanic and begin a new life in America. What neither one of them counted on was falling for someone that a month ago neither could picture themselves with. We all know that the Titanic never made it to New York but you'll have to read the book to see how Tessa and Jacqueline's lives were changed by the maiden voyage of Titanic.

Queen of the Waves - Janice Thompson


Link to buy the book: 

About the book: 

When pampered Jacqueline Abington secretly elopes with the family gardener, she asks another woman to take her place on the much anticipated maiden voyage of the Titanic. Tessa Bowen hails from a poor corner of London but has been granted the opportunity of a lifetime—a ticket to sail to America aboard a famed vessel. But there’s a catch: she must assume Jacqueline’s identity. For the first time in her life, Tessa stays in luxurious quarters, dresses in elegant gowns, and dines with prestigious people. Then a wealthy American man takes an interest in her, and Tessa struggles to keep up the ruse as she begins falling for him. When tragedy strikes, the game is up, and two women’s lives are forever changed.

Meet Janice:

Award-winning author Janice Thompson, who also writes under the name Janice Hanna, has published nearly eighty books for the Christian market, crossing genre lines to write cozy mysteries, historicals, romances, nonfiction books, devotionals, children’s books and more.

She formerly served as vice president of the Christian Authors Network and was named the 2008 Mentor of the Year by the American Christian Fiction Writers.
Thompson lives in Spring, Texas, near her four grown daughters and young grandchildren. She leads a rich life with her family, a host of writing friends and two mischievous dachshunds.

Readers can keep up with Janice Thompson by visiting, becoming a fan on Facebook or following her Twitter.

Find out more about Janice at


Celebrate with Janice by entering to win a Kindle Fire!

One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • Where the Trail Ends by Melanie Dobson
  • Queen of the Waves by Janice Thompson
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on October 17th. Winner will be announced at the American Tapestries Author Chat Facebook Party on 10/18. Connect with authors Janice Thompson and Melanie Dobson for an evening of book chat, trivia and fun! There will also be gift certificates, books, and a Book Club Prize Pack to be won (10 copies for your book club or small group)!

So grab your copy of Queen of the Waves and Where the Trail Ends and join Janice Thompson and Melanie Dobson on the evening of the October 18th for a chance to connect with the authors and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the books – don’t let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 18th!

 Blog Tour Schedule

I received these books free of charge from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review.

Weekend at Lake Martin with Friends

In the past few years as more and more of our friends have graduated from Auburn and moved to various parts of the country our football weekend at the lake each year has become something I look forward to months ahead of time. My close friend Nicole and I decided a few years ago to make it an annual event so for at least one weekend each year we are all reunited in the town that brought us all together.

Allan's hat for the weekend AKA a WWII helmet from the antique store

This year we lucked out and were able to arrive anytime on Thursday and leave anytime on Sunday. Four days and three nights with many of our favorite people is like Christmas in October! On Thursday when we arrived we unloaded the truck and headed into Auburn. After a trip to my favorite antique shop, a brief stop at Best Buy, and dinner at Veggies to Go we were headed back to the lake with the rest of the groceries for the weekend.

my poor Toomer's oaks
On Friday I drove into Auburn and had a glorious 15 mile run which was followed by an afternoon in the lake playing in the water. That night we watched football and spent a couple of hours outside around the fire pit telling stories and laughing.

The first thing I did when we got to the lake was head down to the dock to look at the water
Saturday was game day and that meant an early wake up since the game was at 11. Allan and I scored a pair of tickets in the end zone that were $30 for the pair so we went to the first half of the game. During the second half we watched the game with our cousins who welcomed twins into the world this past week. As the game went on we were more excited to tour the nursery, play with their dogs, and talk about the twin's upcoming arrival. Needless to say Auburn lost to Arkansas but aside from that the day was perfect.

Thank goodness the Arkansas fans next to us were nice or it would have been a long first half

Later in the evening we had a shower for our friends that are getting married later this month and spent another evening watching football and sitting around the fire pit. I had s'mores for the first time in my life and I'm addicted they are amazing!

I couldn't help but die laughing when I saw this

Sunday morning I made the usual pancakes, bacon, eggs, and mimosas and we called it a successful weekend and headed back home in separate directions. We are planning to get together in the winter in the mountains and next spring in Lynchburg for the Oak Barrel half marathon. We've got several runners in the bunch so I'm excited!

Until we meet again...

Do you get together with your closest friends on a regular basis?
Are any of them runners too?

**Don't forget that our Team Tanya Raffle & Virtual Run is going on from now until October 19. Everyone who donates will win!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Seattle in a Nutshell

Besides several trips to Starbucks we also did some shopping, sightseeing, and enjoyed being together. It had been almost a year since I'd seen Caroline and it had been over a year since I'd seen Jenn so the highlight of the week was being with these two lovely ladies! With that said we still took lots of pictures and if we did nothing else we laughed A LOT!

Space Needle with my lovelies
So many gorgeous views from up top

Space Needle-must do if you go to Seattle
At the Space Needle we took lots and lots of pictures and found ourselves deep in conversation with a couple of locals who were giving us a huge list of places to go and things to see.

Fresh seafood

Fresh fruits and vegetables

Fresh flowers

The pig at Pike's (it's practically required to take a picture there)
On Monday I made a trip to Pike's with Jenn and her friends and on Saturday we went back with Caroline. I was enamored with the street performers and could have listened to them play all day long. The fresh flowers, fruits, vegetables, and seafood were almost overwhelming. There were so many to chose from. I managed to selected a bunch of flowers for Caroline and if I could have figured out how to bring some home with me I would have bought more. They were beautiful!

gum wall

My first trip inside Sephora

my first trip to The Melting Pot

The troll was one of my favorite things we saw in Seattle
At Pike's we also saw the gum wall which was kinda nasty but neat nonetheless. While shopping with Jenn on Wednesday I went to Sephora for the first time. Way too much makeup in one place! I took Caroline to The Melting Pot (one of her favs) as a late birthday celebration and it was my first time to eat there. It was good but it's pricey and the idea of cooking my own food wasn't my favorite. On Saturday we also saw the infamous Fremont Troll. I can honestly say I've never seen anything like that.

Do you visit lots of touristy spots while in a new place or do you search out the obscure, little known spots?

 **Don't forget that our Team Tanya Raffle & Virtual Run is going on from now until October 19. Everyone who donates will win!