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!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Nairn's Oat Cookies

Last month I received two boxes of Nairn's Oat Cookies (AKA Oat Biscuits) from the lovely people at Nairn's. The package also included a coupon, recipe, and complete nutrition facts on their products. The first thing I noticed that I really liked was the packaging of the two boxes of oat cookies. Inside each box the cookies aren't in one big package (like you see for most cookies) but in four small packages so it's easy to keep them fresh and just take out one small package for a snack or dessert. In my opinion this also makes portion control easier since we are all tempted to eat more than what we say we will when we are eating straight from the package of cookies.

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Yum, yum, yum!
As far as the taste goes I am in love with the stem ginger! They are basically a healthier ginger snap with a bit more bite and are absolutely delicious. If you are looking for something a little more sweet then the mixed berries will be right up your alley. They have a sweet berry taste that I also liked but I haven't really craved sweets lately so that box hasn't been completely devoured. Allan also doesn't know they are in the pantry so that's probably why they haven't disappeared! I'm anxious to try the Dark Chocolate Chip variety to see how they compare to chocolate chip cookies.

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The rest of the goodies in the package
The reason I waited so long to post my review is that in the weeks leading up to the marathon my appetite was all over the place (can we say taper crazies?!) and I really wanted to enjoy these cookies so I saved them for a treat post-marathon. While I liked the mixed berries variety the stem ginger are my favorite and will be in my pantry again soon! I'm also anxious to try their other products since these cookies were so delicious!

Have you ever tried Nairn's Oat Cookies or Oat Crackers? What did you think if so?

I received these cookies from Nairn's in exchange for my honest review of their product in a blog post.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Post-Marathon Festivities and Thoughts

If you are a little late getting to the party then take a moment to read about pre-marathon festivities and the marathon recap and you will be all caught up!

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Hooray, I made it!
A couple of hours after leaving the awards ceremony we were back at the host hotel for the post-race dinner. After sitting at a table by ourselves and eating our salads we were invited to move to another table and sit with three other couples (one being the race directors). We spent the next hour in conversation discussing the race, running, wrestling (one of the couples has a daughter who is wrestling and Allan wrestled from middle school through college), and the holidays. Oh, and dinner was delicious!

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Thank you Allan for your creative idea for this photo
We got to hear from each of the race directors, the race winner, a man who has run this race for all 36 years that it's been in existence, and another man from Florida who has been trying to work it out so he could run this race for several years. They shared stories from the day, memories from races past, and more than one took a moment to encourage us to appreciate our health and to be sure we are doing all that we can to stay healthy so we can continue running for years to come.

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36 years of running Rocket City for this man
The man who won had quite an interesting story and he made me laugh. This was his first marathon (and he finished in 2:25:18) and to hear his thought processes throughout the day and his thoughts on the race itself made for good entertainment. I believe this was his first experience with Southern humidity (he lives in Colorado) and to hear him try to describe that was hilarious! This dinner was the perfect way to cap off a great couple of days surrounding the marathon.

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I'm pretty sure this is when he was describing humidity
Several of you have asked about whether or not I intend to run another marathon and I'll get to that but first let me share what Allan said when we pulled into the driveway that afternoon, "I'm starting to think I may have to run Rocket City. We could train and run it together next year." After laughing (thinking he was kidding) and giving him a death look when I realized he was serious all I managed was a maybe. Truthfully I can't imagine anything more exciting than running Allan's first marathon with him so it looks like we will be running Rocket City together in 2013!

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I loved the back of the medal just as much as the front
With that said I don't want to run a marathon anywhere else. Being able to sleep in my own bed and drive 20 minutes to the race was perfect and I honestly can't imagine there are many other marathons out there that I could race for $60 and have the experience that I did. Plus there's something to be said for having the dogs waiting at home for me after the race. As a side note, I know family and friends would have driven up for the race but I asked them not to since we were hardly at home for those two days. I do appreciate their love and support so much. I feel as though this journey has involved so many people and the joy of running my first marathon should be shared with all of them!

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This was the only way we could get the dogs to sit still and I was determined to take a post-race photo with them
I do feel like I should back up and talk about my training since I didn't really talk about that much leading up to the race. Thanks to the awful chafing issues I've had this fall (athletic tape is my savior and why I didn't think of this before I don't know) my long runs were my only runs  for several weeks and all of them went great. I would have liked to have had at least one or two shorter runs each week but that just didn't happen every week. Do I think that slowed me down and hurt me in the second half? No I honestly don't. I believe I prepared myself well (with the exception of racing that 5K the week of the marathon) but do I think I have a faster marathon time in me? Heck yes I do! I never felt out of breath and never felt tired during the race. If my legs hadn't hurt so bad that it made me want to cry I believe I would have been able to run a 4:1 the entire race and finish much faster than I did.

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Race swag-I've worn all of it and love it!
As far as recovery went, I felt good as new by Tuesday morning. I probably drank four cans of Coke by that point and I relished every little sip. I lived in my Tommie Copper calf sleeves from Saturday afternoon until Tuesday morning and they worked their magic as usual. I didn't even feel like I had run a half much less a full marathon by Tuesday. If we are doing Rocket City next year you better believe there will be some Tommie Copper compression shorts and tights in my closet next year!

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Love my TC calf sleeves and my compression shirt!
Goodness, that reminds me to talk about what I wore for the race. That pink Under Armour shirt is one of my go-to race shirts and will continue to be a favorite. The capris are from Gap and I have them in gray too. Both pairs are equally amazing and have solidified my love for running in capris versus shorts. I never run without my Wrightsocks so that's what I had on my feet and of course my Mizuno Wave Rider 14's were my running shoe choice for the marathon. They have seen me through several races this year and I can't say enough good things about them and how great they are for long runs!

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Pretty sweet medal I think, I like how the word marathon stands out since it's in a different color
I feel like thank you isn't enough for all of the support and encouragement that you all have given me. I appreciate each and every one of you so much!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Jingle Bell H-E-Double Hockeysticks 2012

For this year's Jingle Bell H-E-Double Hockeysticks hosted by XLMIC I opted for the treadmill since it was raining. Yes, I know it would be dreadful to run in the rain (which is the point of this) but it's also cold and I don't wish to spend my birthday week sick so treadmill it is.

I actually really like the Grinch even if he is a meanie

I'm convinced that most of the time the treadmill is actually worse for the dogs than it is for me and that brought about the mandatory laughing. Yes, call me terrible but I laughed when Lucky stood in the door whining and Sasha was panting and sprinting up and down the hall. Poor dogs, they saw running shoes and assumed I was taking them somewhere not running on the dreaded treadmill. Silly dogs, it's raining!

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Lucky: "Mom, not the scary machine again. I'll never be able to rescue you if I can't move these tubs!"
  Sasha: "I said take me outside NOW!"
What made the run my own special H-E-Double Hockeysticks is a combination of running a week post-marathon and the fact that today is two years since my grandmother passed away. In the back of my mind I knew today was the anniversary of her passing but I really didn't think about it until I was running. Throw in the rain and the fact that I'm home alone and you've got a recipe for one heck of a day.

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Slow and steady is the name of the game
So there you have it-my Jingle Bell H-E-Double Hockeysticks 2012 performance in all of its incredibly slow glory!

Tomorrow I'll share my post-marathon thoughts and if I can get organized there's a giveaway coming up soon!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Rocket City Marathon

On Saturday morning I woke up at 6 and got ready to leave for the race. We arrived a little after 7 and that's when I ran into Yo Momma Runs in the lobby. We chatted for a few minutes, walked around, and parted ways around 15 minutes before the start. She was so nice and I honestly felt like we had known each other for years. If you'd like to read her recap of the race then check out her post here. You can see a hilarious picture of the two of us, Allan, and Kathleen if you read her post!

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The two of us seconds after meeting
Allan and I walked over to the start and I stretched and made sure I was ready to go. Honestly I wasn't nervous at all. I knew I could do this and I didn't set any time goals (not that I normally set time goals for many races) so there wasn't any pressure to do anything but enjoy the run and do my thing. The race started right on time at 8 and we were off!

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I decided to wave instead of look serious
The first few miles wove through the downtown area that many of our 5K's go through so I was pretty familiar with those streets. Once we headed away from downtown into the residential area it was all new to me. I was doing great using the 4:1 and doing my best not to run so fast during the 4 minute intervals I ran.

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One of the gorgeous houses downtown
The minutes of walking gave me time to check my phone for texts from Jenny and Allan. Those two did a wonderful job encouraging me throughout the race and I can't thank them both enough! Walking also gave me a chance to take pictures during the race which was fun. I normally forget to take pictures until I've passed something or the race is over.

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I run by this all the time during races and never stop to take a picture but today I did
Around mile 8 my legs started feeling very angry. They hurt like they were tired and all I could think about was the 5K I ran on Monday and how I pushed myself so hard during that race. Now I know what I'm about to say is going to sound crazy to some of you but what works for me doesn't necessarily work for you and vice versa. I don't run at all the week of a half and that has proven to be what works best for me. My legs need the time off to feel rested and ready and my second fastest half of the year came after not running at all for two weeks prior. With all that said, it didn't take me long to realize that running the 5K was a mistake and I would pay for that mistake for the next 18.2 miles. Lesson learned!

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Happy legs at the start!
I completed the first half in 2:37:50 (not adjusted to chip time) which is right around what I was shooting for. I hoped to be able to maintain 12:00 miles or so for the first half. Once I hit 3 hours I stopped using the 4:1. I had to walk more often and running the hills just wasn't happening. My calves felt like they were tearing when I tried to run up a hill. At one point the pain was so bad that I nearly cried but I didn't. When I called Allan he told me that in addition to stopping to stretch I needed to try shaking out my legs after a walk break and that did help.

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I knew Allan would love this so I had to take a picture!
I don't want my leg pain to take away at all from this experience because I actually enjoyed the entire race and looking back the pain was terrible but honestly I expected that with a marathon. Pain is a part of life and nothing easy ever comes without a little suffering or at least for me it doesn't! I met a lady during this part of the race and we termed this part the "Death March" where we ran until the pain was too much to handle and then we walked until that was too painful.

Allan thought the funniest part about my thought process during the second half was how long I spent thinking about drinking a Coke. I thought about how delicious a nice cold Coke would be, how the first sip is always the best, and the difference in taste between Coke from a plastic bottle, glass bottle, or can. Allan's note to self: Be at mile 15 with a Coke next time!

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The tunnel we ran through twice
By the second half of the race the sun was starting to peak out here and there and the temperature was close to 70 with humidity nearing 80%. It was yukky. I wanted to run this marathon because it was here in Huntsville and in December it should be cold. Cold it was not! Aside from a complaint about the weather I can't say anything but good things about the course, volunteers, expo, packet pickup, post-race offerings, race swag, etc. and for $60 you can't beat that!

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I was sooo excited to see this!
I got a second wind somewhere around mile 24 and started running more. I knew at Mile 25.7 my friend Melissa would be there and I would almost be done so I ran and ran and finally I could see her. When I passed her she gave me a high five and I may have said I was never running another marathon in my life! I took one more break to walk before I approached the finish. Even though my time was going to be super slow compared to many others I knew I had a sprint left in me so I sprinted to the finish and crossed with an official time of 5:46: 54. My second half was 3:09:57 (not adjusted to chip time) so much slower than the first half. My goal was to finish and I did so I'm happy!

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Sprinting at the finish!
When I first decided to run a marathon I assumed I would be so overcome with emotion at the finish that I would cry but I didn't. I was proud of myself, don't get me wrong, but I just wasn't emotional about finishing the marathon. I got my medal, finisher's hat, and space blanket (not that I needed one) and we went inside to get food. Not sure why but I ate two ice cream sandwiches (I don't even really like those!) and grabbed a couple of bananas for later. I drank an entire bottle of water and we sat out by the pool. We went to the awards ceremony because anyone who registered for the race was eligible to win one of two $500 prizes and my chances were pretty good since only around 100 people were there for awards.

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This was right around mile 3 and I should have put it closer to the top but I love this one because I look so skinny!
I didn't win $500 but I did get to meet Paige (she is so sweet!) and Geno which was exciting. Geno took 6th overall and won the Master's Division. You can read Paige's recap here. We talked until the ceremony started and discovered that Delta (Paige and Geno's yellow lab) and Sasha (Allan's yellow lab/border collie mix) are practically twins. They are both a little sassy and have funny ways of getting their point across. I really enjoyed talking with both of them and hope to see them at races this next year.

I'll stop here and pick up with the rest of the post-marathon festivities in the next post!

Still Lolo

 

A little over a year ago Lauren and her family's life was turned upside down and in this book we hear her story from her viewpoint as well as the viewpoints of her parents and twin sister. It's amazing to see how one event experienced by the same family can be seen in so many different lights. The accident with the propeller may have taken Lauren's left hand and eye but it didn't take her desire to impact others in a positive manner or her determination to fight. You can read the first chapter here if you want a sneak peek!

 http://www.tyndale.com/authorphotos/amazon/1516/pic_full_scruggs_lauren.jpg

There are a couple of quotes that resonated with me that I wanted to share:

"I'd developed my definition of everyday courage---Even when life hits you hard, you keep on going---then lived by that definition. That's all I'd done."

"Maybe my mistake had been assuming that warriors are fearless, tough, and unbeatable. I've come to realize that warriors aren't invincible; they're just strengthened and energized by hope."

 http://mediacenter.tyndale.com/downloads/press_kits/ScruggsFamily.jpg

It's impossible for me to begin to understand how painful this time was for Lauren and her family but yet in spite of everything she came up swinging with her family in her corner. I can't say enough good things about this book and how uplifting and inspirational it is from beginning to end.

 http://mediacenter.tyndale.com/downloads/press_kits/PushUp.jpg

I received this book free of charge from Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pre-Marathon Festivities

I'm breaking this up into three posts: pre-marathon, marathon, and post-marathon festivities or this would be forever long and filled with 20 pictures! On Friday I was anxious to pick up my bib and make sure everything was good to go so I arrived at packet pickup right at 11. Apparently 100 other people had the same idea because I was not first to arrive. There's a guy that comes for the Cotton Row 10K/5K and Rocket City Marathon expos and sells brand-name athletic apparel for practically nothing. We rack up every year at Cotton Row and I came home with several items I had to have as well as some little gifts for Allan. Notice what I did right there, I may have found several things for myself but I also came home with presents for him so he can't complain too much. Works every time!

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I already looked up my bib number but I thought I had to take a picture of this
Next I made my way over to the Fleet Feet area and nearly ran over someone trying to grab all the Mizunos they had in my size. I have three pairs of Mizunos right now: Mizuno Wave Rider 14's in an 8.5 and 9 and Enigmas in size 8.5. The WR 14's in an 8.5 fit just right, the 9's are a little too big, and the Enigmas are a little too small. I tried on a pair of Wave Rider 15's in an 8.5 expecting them to fit just right too but no. I had to go up to the 9 which felt like a perfect fit. Anyone else jumping up a size in Mizunos? I also snatched up a pair of Wave Inspire 8's in a 9 which felt like a perfect fit too and I loved the colors. Happy first marathon presents for me!

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So pretty!
On Friday night from 5-7:30 we had a spaghetti dinner and listened to Bill Rodgers speak. He's quite a character and I enjoyed hearing stories from training runs and races that he shared with us. Bill Rodgers is a really humble man and didn't mention anything about his numerous wins at Boston and New York until someone asked him specifically about those races. Afterwards I was able to talk to him and take a picture and he spent several minutes giving me advice about racing my first marathon. He cautioned me to stay hydrated and to stick to my 4:1 plan and I would be fine.

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Such a neat guy!
By 10 PM I was ready for bed and so was Lucky. Allan is so sweet to me. He offered to sleep on the couch so he wouldn't disturb me and so Lucky could sleep in the bed with me. That dog has a calming effect on me that I can't explain. He seemed to know that something important was about to happen and he kept me from being nervous at all. I fell asleep pretty quickly and the last thing I remember thinking is that tomorrow night I would fall asleep a marathoner.

Stay tuned for the marathon post!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

I'm a Marathoner!!!

It's going to take me awhile to process everything but I finished Rocket City Marathon today and it's by far the hardest thing I've ever done. I'll be back with a recap on Monday but for now we are off to the marathon dinner and party!

Thank you all so much for your support and sweet words! You'll never know how much that means to me.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Galaxy of Lights 5K

On Monday night the Huntsville Botanical Gardens hosted the Galaxy of Lights 5K. I registered for this a couple of months back knowing it would be my last race before the marathon this Saturday and giving myself one more shot to run a sub-30 5K before the year ends. Spoiler alert: sub-30 5K DONE! We have driven through the Galaxy of Lights the past two years and I knew it would be a beautiful course to run at night.

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Even Santa made an appearance!
The minor detail I forgot is that not all of the area is paved which means most of the second half of the race was on a gravel road. I must have told myself not to fall 100 times while running on this section because the last thing Allan told me before the race started was not to fall and get hurt trying to set a new PR with the marathon coming up this weekend. Allan is always so wise.

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My outfit for the race (I was actually matchy matchy for once)
The race was not chip timed so I decided to start up front with the speed demons and sprint for as long as possible. Normally I'd say this is a terrible idea but my legs were well-rested and I felt great so I figured if there was ever a time to really push myself now was the time. I ran the first mile right at 8:30 and nearly screamed when the ladies yelling times at the first mile said that. Pretty sure I was in high school the last time I ran a mile that fast! I did my best not to get in the way of anyone running faster than me and honestly I was shocked at how few people passed me that first mile.

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And we are off-I'm in the center

Mile 2 slowed down to 9:15 as we ran into a few hills and the gravel and the last 1.1 miles I completed in 11:48 making my final time 29:33. It's really obvious that the majority of the third mile was all gravel. I'm really happy with my time but I know with the handful of hills and gravel roads that I have a faster time in me so watch out sub-25 I am coming for you in 2013!

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Shirt, bracelet with tiny jingle bells, and my bib
Breaking 30 minutes for my 5K time is a big deal to me because it's the first running goal I set for myself when I started running in May 2011. This year has been all about half marathons so any speed I've picked up on shorter distances has been an added bonus. Thank you all so much for your sweet comments and tweets this week! I can't think of a better way to kick off marathon week than setting a new PR and finally breaking the 30 minute mark!


 This race also doubled as my opportunity to honor Courtney's family and remember her daughter. Thank you Courtney for giving all of us a reason to stop and remember the importance of family.

What's your current 5K PR?
Do you love or hate that distance? (There seems to be no so-so feelings with this race distance.)