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, June 20, 2013

Downhill at Dawn Half Marathon

A few weeks ago Allan and I made the drive to NC to stay with Courtney and her husband and their adorable chocolate lab Riley. I also ran a half marathon. I'm not sure why the name Downhill at Dawn didn't tell Allan that the race would be super early but apparently not. He was shocked to hear we would be waking up at 4 AM Eastern time which is 3 AM our time. Getting up that early was well worth the gorgeous views on the course!

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Beautiful start to a morning!

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Probably one of my favorite spots on the course

On race morning we picked up Dawn on our way to the race. Nothing like meeting someone for the first time at 4:00 in the morning! When we got to the start area we sat in the car for awhile before making a trip to the bathroom. Our late bathroom trip nearly caused us to miss the start. When we came out of the bathroom everyone had disappeared so we took off running for the start. I did a terrible job of stretching pre-race and my hip did not appreciate this! Allan tried to tell me to spend more time stretching but do I listen?! NO!!!

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We might have been running late but there's always time for a pre-race photo!

The first mile is entirely downhill and the next couple are mostly pancake flat. After that there are some uphill sections, downhill sections, and lots of flat running. Nearly the entire course is picturesque with numerous breathtaking views. I stopped to take several pictures but I still don't believe they do the course justice!

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This was around Mile 10 or so and I thought it was beautiful with the sun shining through the trees

I will say that there are some steep uphill sections on the course and while there are several long downhill sections I believe a majority of the course is flat. If you're a numbers person I'd estimate the course is 60% flat, 30% downhill, and 10% uphill. That's just my opinion though! Obviously I don't have a nifty course elevation map to back that theory up. I'm sure somewhere somewhere does though!

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We ran on a good amount of gravel which as it turns out I really liked

While the race didn't go as planned as far as my time (2:39:11) I couldn't have asked for a more wonderful experience or a more beautiful course. This is certainly a course to PR on and I only wish my hip hadn't started to hurt so bad causing me to walk much of the last 4 miles. I plan on running this race again next year and getting that sub-2:20 if I don't have it before then!


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We were having a discussion about my lack of sweat since I had just crossed the finish line

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Our strong runner pose apparently!
This race marked my 20th half marathon in 20 months and I couldn't be happier hitting this milestone at the race that I did. Running in North Carolina takes my state total to 6! I don't know if I will try to run a half in all 50 states but we will see. Never say never...

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20 half marathons in 20 months!!!!


How many half marathons have you run?
Are you racing the states?
What's the most beautiful course you've run?

(Sailing, Sun, & Salvation) Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter

Besides the fact that Barefoot Summer is a wonderful summertime read it's also filled with sailing, sun, and more than one story of salvation. This is the perfect book to curl up with in a big chair with lemonade or sweet tea and spend the afternoon getting lost in Madison & Beckett's world. I thoroughly enjoyed soaking up this wonderful story in one sitting!

Madison has been struggling with nightmares since losing her twin brother and she believes if she fulfills his dream of winning the regatta she will find the peace she's been searching for and the nightmares will go away. After winning sailing lessons with Evan, the winner of the regatta the past two years, she shows up for her first lesson to find Beckett waiting for her. Beckett is responsible for the best kiss of Madison's life that took place in high school and she's convinced Beckett hasn't thought twice about that night since it happened. Madison and Beckett are both shocked to learn that there's more to appearances than meets the eye and what they believe they know about each other turns out to be far from reality. As the regatta draws near Madison finds herself distracted from work, still having nightmares, and battling her growing feelings for Beckett. Will his secret ruin what they might have? Can Madison find peace by fulfilling her twin's dream?

I really hope you all enjoy this book as much as I do. A fear of water is something I've struggled with my entire life so her swimming lessons were something I could personally relate to. Madison's search for peace is something I've witnessed in friends and quite often people wait until they are at the end of their rope before turning to God to find the peace they've been searching for.


 Book Info 
About Barefoot Summer:

Madison's heart has been closed for years. But one summer can change everything.

In the years since her twin brother's tragic drowning, Madison has struggled with her ability to trust God--or anyone else, for that matter. It was her brother's dream to win the annual River Sail Regatta in their small harbor town of Chapel Springs, Indiana. And Madison's determined to honor his legacy by making his dream her own. Maybe then she can finally find closure.

But learning to sail means learning to swim. And her instructor is Beckett O'Reilly, a man who already has two strikes against him in Madison's eyes. Being on the water terrifies Madison. But Beckett's calming presence and unwavering confidence eases her fear. And as much as she'd like to deny it, the chemistry between them is electrifying.

As her feelings for him grow, a fledging faith begins to take root in her soul, as well. With Beckett, Madison feels alive for the first time in years--carefree and confident she can win the regatta, maybe even find love.

But Beckett harbors a secret that will test the limits of their love and the depth of Madison's faith. Will their love survive summer's challenge? And will achieving her brother's dream give Madison the peace she desperately seeks?

Purchase a copy:

Meet Denise: 
Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

Learn more about Denise at http://www.denisehunterbooks.com

 Blog Tour Schedule

**Note: Schedule is now included on the landing page!**

Denise Hunter is celebrating her new Chapel Springs Romance series with a Summer Fun Giveaway. The first book, Barefoot Summer, is already a favorite with readers. “Hold-your-breath romance, heartache, and laugh-out-loud moments. It’s more than a good read. It’s a delight.” -- Lisa
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Summer: it’s all about sunny skies, star-gazing, swimming, spending time with loved ones, and living as if a small part of the weight of the world has been lifted off your shoulders.

Get ready for some serious summer fun with Denise’s 12-Day Summer Sun giveaway. From June 10-21, keep your computer near as you head to the lake or your friend’s barbecue because Denise will be giving away a summer essential each day!
 
I received this book free of charge from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Catch a Falling Star by Beth Vogt

Every time I have seen this book lying on an end table in our den I can't help but think of the lyrics "Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket. Save it for a rainy day." To this day I can still hear my Mom singing that song when I was a little girl. Anyway, on to the story! When I first read the synopsis I was taken back to a conversation I had with a friend over four years ago. At the time I had finished grad school and I was figuring out my next move which just so happened to be getting married. My friend was nearly done with three years of vet school and he said he felt like everyone was moving on with their life and entering a different phase and he was left behind. In a way I felt that was the central theme of this book.

Kendall has a successful medical practice focusing on patients with asthma and allergies but feels like she's never going to find the right man. On the night of her 36th birthday she saves a teenage boy's life when he has an allergic reaction in the restaurant she and her friends are dining in. It's during that dinner that her friend announces her engagement leaving Kendall as the only woman in the group not married or engaged. That night gives us an introduction to Ian (the teenager Kendall saves) and his older brother Griffin who has recently been appointed Ian's guardian after the tragic death of their parents. Griffin is going through his own struggles of feeling as though a chapter of his life is being closed and the course of his future forever altered. He questions his ability to care for Ian and wonders if his parents were wrong in appointing him to be Ian's guardian. Griffin is also wrestling with some demons in his past and growing more and more concerned that "flying a desk" is going to be the only action he will see after being grounded nearly two years ago.

As Kendall and Griffin both come to terms with the paths God has chosen for them they each experience a few more bumps along the road that dredge up memories of their pasts. For Griffin he needs God to show him that the door has been firmly shut in an area of his life before he is ready to follow where God leads. Kendall, on the other hand, just needs a gentle push in the right direction. Sometimes the fairy tale of an ordinary person's life doesn't involve a knight in shining armor or a princess but just an ordinary man or woman waiting to see who God has in store for them.

I really loved this book and feel that it speaks to the notion that life usually doesn't work out like a fairy tale or how we see it play out in the movies. Quite often how we envision our future isn't how it turns out and until we take the time to come to terms with living God's plan rather than our own we will continue to struggle and ask why things aren't how we hoped they might be.


     Book Info 
About Catch a Falling Star: 

What does a girl do when life doesn't go according to her plan? 

At 36, Kendall Haynes has seen some of her dreams come true. She's a family physician helping kids with severe allergies and asthma achieve more fulfilling lives-a childhood struggle she knows all too well. But the feeling of being "the kid never picked" looms large when romance continues to evade her and yet another one of her closest friends gets engaged. Are Kendall's dreams of having it all-a career, a husband, children-nothing more than childish wishing upon a star? Should she hold out for her elusive Plan A? Dust off Plan B? Or is it time to settle? God says he knows the plans he has for her-why can't Kendall figure them out and be content with her life?
Griffin Walker prefers flying solo-both as an Air Force pilot and in his personal life. But a wrong choice and health problems pulled him out of the cockpit. His attempts to get out of "flying a desk" are complicated by his parents' death-making Griffin the reluctant guardian of his sixteen-year-old brother, Ian. How did his life get so off course? Can God get his life back on track ... or has there been a divine plan all along?
Catch a Falling Star reminds readers that romance isn't just for twenty-somethings and that sometimes letting go of your "wish I may, wish I might" dreams is the only way to embrace everything God has waiting for you.

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/kUDLa
Meet Beth: 

Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author and editor who said she'd never write fiction. She's the wife of an Air Force family physician (now in solo practice), though she said she'd never marry a doctor-or anyone in the military. She's a mom of four, though she said she'd never have kids. She's discovered that God's best often waits behind the doors marked "Never." Her contemporary romance novel, "Wish You Were Here", debuted in May 2012 (Howard Books), and "Catch a Falling Star" releases May 2013. An established magazine writer and former editor of Connections, the leadership magazine for MOPS International, Beth is also the Skills Coach for My Book Therapy, the writing community founded by best-selling author Susan May Warren. 

Find out more about Beth K. at http://bethvogt.com.

 Blog Tour Schedule

Celebrate the release of Catch a Falling Star (Howard Books) with Beth K. Vogt by entering to win a Romantic Weekend Getaway and RSVPing for her June 4th Author Chat Party.


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  One "lucky" winner will receive:
  • A $200 Visa Cash Card (Perfect for a weekend stay at a hotel or B&B!)
  • Catch a Falling Star and Wish You Were Here by Beth Vogt (Swoon-worthy!)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on June 3rd. Winner will be announced at the "Catch a Falling Star" Facebook Author Chat Party on June 4th. Connect with Beth for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Beth will also share an exclusive look at her next book and give away books and other fun prizes throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of Catch a Falling Star and join Beth on the evening of June 4th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, 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 4th!

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

Monday, June 3, 2013

Brief Weekend Recap

It's not even dark and it's almost my bedtime so I'm going to recap the weekend (and today) in bullet points but I promise to say a lot more tomorrow!

  • 14 hours of driving
  • Had a blast with Courtney, Brad, & Riley
  • No sub-2:20 half marathon
  • My hip hurts
  • Slept 16 hours over the course of 3 nights
  • Saw our nephew get blessed at church
  • Put Allan on an airplane 
  • Spent 4 hours today cutting the grass, weed eating, and edging
  • I'M EXHAUSTED!
Back tomorrow with a recap from the race and our weekend in NC!

The Offering by Angela Hunt

The Offering by Angela Hunt is a novel that I had high expectations for since she has written so many novels and is such a popular author. Unfortunately I was disappointed. The back cover gave away the plot and left nothing for the reader to figure out. Yes, there's a twist at the end but by the time I got there I had known for awhile what was going to happen so it came as no surprise to me. I do feel that this a very well-researched novel about being a surrogate and I don't know that I've ever seen another fiction novel written on the subject. The story did suck me in and I couldn't stop reading even though I knew what was going to happen. With that said I don't enjoy reading a novel knowing how things will unfold so if you are like that too I don't recommend this novel. If you don't mind that then you'll probably enjoy reading this or if surrogacy is something that appeals to you then you may enjoy this novel. Honestly this book speaks to such a small target audience and I believe many people will have a difficult time relating to many of the topics covered in this novel.


   Book Info 
 
About The Offering:

From bestselling author Angela Hunt, the heart-wrenching story of a young mother who unknowingly gave away her own child after serving as a surrogate for a childless couple.
After growing up as an only child, Amanda Lisandra wants a big family. But since she and her soldier husband can't afford to have more children right away, Mandy decides to earn money as a gestational carrier for a childless couple. She loves being pregnant, and while carrying the child she dreams of having her own son and maybe another daughter. . .
Just when the nearly perfect pregnancy is about to conclude, unexpected tragedy enters Mandy's world and leaves her reeling. Devastated by grief, she surrenders the child she was carrying and struggles to regain her emotional equilibrium.
Two years later she studies a photograph of the baby she bore and wonders if the unthinkable has happened---could she have inadvertently given away her own biological child? Over the next few months Mandy struggles to decide between the desires of her grief-stricken heart and what's best for the little boy she has never known.

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/l6HiW

Meet Angela: 
With over four million copies of her books sold worldwide, Angela Hunt is the bestselling author of more than one hundred books, including "The Nativity Story". Hunt is one of the most sought-after collaborators in the publishing industry. Her nonfiction book "Don't Bet Against Me", written with Deanna Favre, spent several weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Angela's novel "The Note" (with sales of over 141,000) was filmed as the Hallmark Channel's Christmas movie for 2007 and proved to be the highest rated television movie in the channel's history. Angela's novels have won or been nominated for several prestigious industry awards, including the RITA, the Christy Award, the ECPA Christian Book Award, and the Holt Medallion. She often travels to teach writing workshops at schools and writers' conferences, and she served as the keynote speaker at the 2008 American Christian Fiction Writers' national conference. She and her husband make their home in Florida with mastiffs. In 2001, one of her dogs was featured on Live with Regis and Kelly as the second-largest dog in America.

Learn more at http://www.angelahuntbooks.com
 Blog Tour Schedule



Angela Hunt is celebrating the release of The Offering with a Nook HD Giveaway and an Author Chat Party on Facebook {6/5}.

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  One winner will receive:
  • A Nook HD
  • The Offering by Angela Hunt 
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on June 4th. Winner will be announced at the "The Offering" Facebook Author Chat Party on June 5th. Connect with Angela for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Angela will also share an exclusive look at her next book and give away books and other fun prizes throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of The Offering and join Angela on the evening of June 5th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, 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 5th!


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