April 29, 2011

Financial Friday - Epic Fail

I anticipated it last week, and as suspected we've gone over budget in all the categories I'm posting here.  Apparently I really need the accountability!

Let's just skip right to it shall we?

Brooke Personal Spending: $125 budgeted - $144 actuals

I have plenty of excuses for this.  I purchased an audio book for the Mountain Man Memorial March.  I found the perfect Halloween costume on eBay.  I had to eat breakfast out on the way to my volunteer gig Friday/Saturday morning because I had to get up too early as it was.

The bottom line is that $125 is plenty of money, and had I used it wisely earlier in the month I could have done all of those things and stayed in budget.  As usual, it all comes back to my fast food habit.  One of these days I'll break it, or just throw my hands up and give up.

I'm helping a friend move tomorrow, so I'm not sure if they'll be anything added to this one or not.  Whatever I go over this month, will be deducted from my starting total next month.  Although I was under last month, and that extra money didn't get credited to this month.  Hmmm.

Jay Personal spending: $100 budgeted - $124.65 actuals

He typically spends about $80 a month on dip, so I'm guessing the rest of this is beer.  Looks like we definitely need to discuss repercussions of going over.  We're both spending willy-nilly and obviously not caring that we're going over.  This must change.

Groceries: $150 budgeted - $154.04 actuals

I did pretty good on this one if I do say so myself!  This will be the monthly total so we're good on it.  I went on one big shopping trip at the first of the month, then did weekly fruit/veggie/can't pass up sale runs the rest of the month.  That also takes a load off of me time wise, because it means I'm only doing the "my night is screwed" trip once monthly.

Eating out: $75 budget - $81.86 actuals

The volunteer event put this one over too.  Friday and Saturday I woke up at 5, drove for an hour each way to volunteer 12 hours daily of my time for a benefit sporting clays tournament put on by my boss's charity. 

Since my husband is unwilling to prepare dinner for us, that meant either I had to get home at 8 in the evening and start dinner or else snag fast food on the way home.  My choice is obvious, although the situation frustrates me.

I suppose I should plan better and have frozen meals on standby, but if I can be honest it just irritates me that I'm the sole provider of meals for us.  Sure he'll fix himself a frozen pizza or pizza rolls if I'm having dinner elsewhere, but beyond that its all on my shoulders.  I know this has nothing to do with money but I'm putting it out there any way. 

So there.

Moving right along...I'm looking forward to the fresh start of May.  I really think that knowing that I'm reporting in to yall is going to help me stay on track. 

How are you doing moving toward your financial goals?  If you want post then I'd love for you to leave your link in the comments! 

April 28, 2011

Praise Him Through the Storm

All is well here.  We weathered the storm last night and came through unscathed.  The most I can complain about this morning is being tired because I wasn't able to go upstairs and go to bed when I would have liked. 

Given the property damage people in nearby towns experienced, I'm not going to complain.  Given the loss of life in our neighbors in Alabama and Georgia have suffered, I'm am thankful to have woken up to the sun shining in my window this morning.

I am thankful for a sturdy home.  It always breaks my heart to hear the Emergency Alert System tell people in cars or mobile homes to abandon them and seek "sturdy shelter" or else lie in a ditch.  How scary/sad must it be knowing a ditch is safer than staying in your home?

I am thankful for a husband with a level head.  He doesn't get all bent out of shape about storms.  He doesn't let a little thunder or lightning get to him.  We even sat out on the front porch for part of the storm.  I also know that when he gets concerned, there is cause for it.  It scared me a little to see that part of him, but I know I can trust him to keep me safe (or as safe as he can).

I'm thankful for a God who is with me through it all.  Bad things happen.  To Christians.  To non-believers.  To good people.  To bad people.   He's promised to stick with us through it all.

What are you thankful for today?

April 27, 2011


I did so well last challenge with stick with my goals, I decided to stop tracking them.  Surely they had become habit and I would keep them up right?


I even started slacking on my Bible reading.  I decided to reinstate the weekly goal checklist because I want to stay on top of these.  I don't know that I ever hit any of the goals all 7 days, so I need to focus on doing just that.  Also, I'm going to rotate goals off and replace them with something new as I succeed in doing the goal for 7 straight days.

It'll probably take a few weeks, but when the time comes I'll need some ideas from yall as to what I new goals I should set for myself.

So far I've done well with not weighing, its been 2 weeks since I've stepped onto the scale.

That's something I suppose.  With all the wallowing in self pity I've been doing here lately I'm sure the scale would have provided excellent fodder.

Also?  Its allergy season here in the allergy capital of the world. Thankfully my allergy shots and OTC pills help me ward off a stuffy nose and sneezing.  I do, however, suffer from anxiety during allergy season.  My allergist insists that its not possible and the two aren't connected.  Anxiety comes in the spring and leaves in the summer, not sure how that can't be connected.  But other than deal with it what's left for me to do?

Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans

So far my workouts this week have felt really good.  I got up early (not on purpose I promise!) to get my run in Monday morning as well as restarting the 100 push ups challenge.  I did week 5 column 2, but wasn't able to complete my last set - I'm dropping to column 1 today for day 2. 

Yesterday I switched back to high weight/low rep in the weight room on my own, choosing not to go to the total body class (high rep) that the gym holds every Tuesday/Thursday.  I even took on the squat rack and my quads are feeling it this morning!

I hope to check in next week with at least one 7/7 goal met.  How'd you do this past week?

April 26, 2011

Meal Plan Mon...Tuesday

So I'm a little late to the game.  Typically I like to plan out my meals for the coming week on Saturday, but this was a crazy busy weekend.  When I finally got home on Friday and Saturday nights I just wanted to fall into bed.  Sunday wasn't much better.

Yesterday I sorta winged it, which resulted in waffles with peanut butter and honey for breakfast, Pizza Hut buffet with the girls for lunch, and spaghetti for dinner.  (I had defrosted the sauce some time last week.  I couldn't remember when so the fact that it didn't smell/taste bad went it was good enough for me.  Jay thought it was heavenly.)

Here is my plan for the coming week.  In posting it, I hope that you keep me accountable.  My temptation to run out and grab a burger wins too often.

Breakfast: Waffles with peanut butter & honey
Lunch: shells & cheese, rotel, and black beans
Dinner: ??? 
I don't have any meat thawed, so I'm not sure what I'm going to do.  I'd love to borrow a meatless recipe from you!

Sketti leftovers
Chicken Fajitas

Waffles, PB & honey
shells & cheese, Rotel, and black beans

Ham & cheese sandwiches

Lunch out w/mom

What other suggestions do you have for using up white bread?  I purchased it for the race a couple weeks ago and we're not big bread eaters.  I still have half a loaf left.

April 25, 2011

Mantra Monday - Accept Nothing Less Than The Best

Okay before you think I've died and gone to perfectionist hell, let me clarify my mantra this week.

Mantra Monday

I will accept nothing less than my best effort for house work.

Right or wrong, a dirty house stresses me out.  However when I get in that cleaning superstar mood?  I'm able to clean the house thoroughly in almost no time.  10 minutes spent properly sorting the mail is well worth it in the long run.  Also?  Clean sheets are their own reward.

I will accept nothing less than my best in workouts.

I took last week off.  Well unless you count walking, which I don't.  If I can do it and not workup a sweat it hardly seems like exercise.  I needed a few days to let my blisters heal, but then I took a few extra because my pride was hurt. 

As a result I carried around extra stress and sadness that I didn't deserve.  A quick run or a good weights class would have fixed that quickly, yet I chose to wallow.  Nothing good ever comes from wallowing.

This morning I got up early and got my first run in over a week marked in the books.  It felt great.  I may crash come 8:30 tonight but emotionally I feel great.  Also?  My pace wasn't too far off my 5K PR.  I think I've finally taken the "I'm just slow" stamp off my forehead.

I hope that means great things for the upcoming 5K I'm registered for, but since my training hasn't been what I would have liked I'm fairly certain I won't be getting the sub 30 min time I wanted.  I'm okay with that because quite frankly I haven't earned it.

I will feed my body nothing but the best.

This is not a call for strict calorie counting.  I'm not in a place to deal with that right now, and I'm honestly glad that's the case.  This weekend was a hard one, busy every moment practically with very little time to consider good food options.  My energy has suffered as a result, as well as just overall giving me a blah feeling.

Does that mean I won't enjoy the bag of twizzlers I bought this weekend that my sister promised me she'd help me eat then left w/o her fair share?  Of course I'm going to partake and enjoy, but I'm not downing the whole bag.  In one day at least.  :P

I will give my family nothing but the best of time I can spend with them.

The people I love most in this world deserve to get more than my crankiness and hatefulness.  Although I maintain I was right when I told Mother she needed Jesus.  She'd obviously left Him at home the day we met for lunch.

God gave up The Best (Jesus) for sad little sinful people like me - He deserves my best daily.

Despite my rotten mood last week, I was able to read and glean knowledge from a book I was reading.  While my best is like filthy rags compared to the righteousness of the Lord, Easter proves that He can take the worst scenario possible and turn it into something beautiful.

April 21, 2011

Financial Friday

I get that its not Friday, but tomorrow's gonna be a bit crazy for me so I figured I might as well get this habit started.  Today is going to be a bit painful, as we're not doing too well at all on the budget, but here we go...

Eating Out: Budgeted $75 - Actuals to date $60.31

This has been a lot of casual dining. I wish we would go on one or two really nice out to eat excursions, but we that tends not to be our style.  With the Easter holiday this weekend and nothing else planned, we should come in under budget on this item.

Groceries: Budgeted $150 - Actuals to date $123.18

Yesterday I spent $18 on strawberries, feta cheese, orange juice, and laundry detergent.  Two tiny little bags. It made me sick to my stomach, but also very thankful that I have a pretty good size food stockpile.  I like keeping a good base of meats and staples, then shop the sales as they come around.  The food budget is so low because I do stock up on those months that ground beef or another commonly used items are on sale.

Jay and I have discussed buying an organic/grass fed cow from my boss, but I don't think we could use that much meat before it went bad in our freezer.  We also can't find anyone here locally willing to split it with us.

Personal spending (Brooke): Budgeted $125* - Actuals to date $123.14

So it looks like I'll be going over budget this month.  Oops.  Personal spending includes clothing, lunches (or fast food purchased when alone), race registrations (if not to a charitable cause, when its for a charity it goes in the "giving" category), books, fitness equipment - pretty much anything that's not a necessity that doesn't benefit the whole family.

*If I decide upon an IPhone, this will come down to $100 so that our phone budget can be increase by the $25 monthly service plan it requires.

Personal spending (Jay): Budgeted $100 - Actuals to date $99.59

I've offered to let him bump his spending up to $125 but he likes to keep it at $100.  That won't stop him from going over this month.  He mostly purchases beer and tobacco with his money and I know that he won't go the rest of the month without buying more dip, so he'll be over by at least $20.

April 20, 2011

Checking (and Savings) Wednesday

Since I've decide to give the scale a break for a bit, I've decide to shift gears a bit.  I don't plan on complete abandoning the healthy life.  Yall know I wouldn't be happy without my training schedule and races.  I have grown a bit bored with it though.  I mean does me eating a snack sized piece of chocolate really worth a blog devoted to beating myself up?

I promise to continue with race reports, training updates,  and "on the horizon" race information.  For now though, the best way I can live healthy is to do it more and think about it less.

In that gear shifting, another aspect of my life gets my OCD attention.  I've let my financial life sorta cruise by this last little bit.  Jay and I built up a decent sized cushion and were enjoying living a little more relaxed than normal.

Then our tax bill came.  Followed by a cabin (to be put on a nightly rental program) that was too good of a deal to pass up.

Our savings has taken a major hit these past couple of weeks.  Goals that seemed to be in sight feel like they are slipping away.  Its time to buckle down and I'd like for you to help keep me accountable.  Hopefully we can trade ideas for smart financial living - something I'm sure most of us need as we watch the prices of gas and groceries rise before our eyes.

The first Friday of each month I'm going to share our budget with you.  Not our entire budget.  I'm not as open as a lot of personal finance bloggers who don't care to put all of the income/out go out there for the world to see.  But I do think it would be helpful for certain categories to be out there like personal spending, eating out, and groceries.  Then I can weekly post a recap of our spending in those areas for the week and really take a moment to review them.

What do ya think?  Is this something that you'd like to read about?  Be a part of?  Or would you rather me lament having to pass up that chocolate?  (If "no thanks" is your answer to both - I'm open to other ideas too.  Just share them with me!)

I want to end each post with a review of my goals.  As Dave Ramsey often says the "how" isn't anywhere near as important as the "why" - the why is the driver behind all hows.

  • Fully fund Roth IRA for 2011
  • Pay off the house
  • Start college savings for Princess (niece) & Little Man (nephew)
  • Give to those in need
Talk to me!  What are you financial goals?  How do you plan on reaching them?

April 19, 2011

Maui Day 2

Our day 2 itinerary was a bit shorter than the previous day’s but it wasn’t short on excitement. We tackled our first hike of the trip. I think it goes without saying but I’m gonna say it any way, but the mountains of Maui are much different than the mountains back home. While we have our share of elevation change, we rarely have a constant up. And most always a good mountain hike is well shaded. Not so when the mountain is a dormant volcano.

We parked the trusty Jeep and headed toward the trail head. One advantage of staying with friends? We didn’t have the token rental car that screams “rob me – I have valuables”. We frequently left our windows down when starting out on hikes – that way we didn’t have to worry about getting into a sweltering car after a tough climb.

The Ridges hike was hard yo. The first part was straight up. Sure it was paved, but that didn’t really help. Jay ran off and left me and waited where the trail started into the woods.

There were lots of beautiful sights along the way, but unfortunately when we got to the top the clouds had rolled in and the view was nonexistent.

Once again we lunched in Wailuku, but this time we found a local Italian restaurant to enjoy. I had the lasagna plate – with salad, at this point I was desperately craving one – and Jay enjoyed a Philly cheese steak. Not exactly traditional Hawaiian cuisine, but very tasty.

The weather had held out, so we headed to the Swinging bridges trail. We’d be cautioned about flash flooding problems that came with a rain storm, but since it hadn’t started raining yet we thought we were in the clear.

Pulling up to the pay gate, we noticed rescue vehicles at the trail head. “Flash flooding?” Jay asked. Turns out a woman had hurt her leg on the trail and was being airlifted out. I had seen a helicopter at a baseball field at a nearby school, but I assumed they were running a drill.

Guess not.

When we came to the first bridge, we ran into some of the rescue personnel. They advised us to not proceed because of the flash flood threat. Chad had told us that as long as it wasn’t raining we were fine. We smile politely and continued on our way.

We made it safely across the 2 swinging bridges as well as the creek crossings that required us to take off our shoes and socks.

 I had learned my lesson the day before and had my bikini conveniently under my clothing.

We enjoyed ourselves at the final pool until it started to sprinkle. Definitely our signal to head back. At this point the trail was deserted and I started to get worried. Then I heard the first thunder crack. I started to get annoyed that Jay insisted we push on.

The real rain didn’t start until after we made it across the last creek crossing. I don’t know if God was holding back the storm or what but I was very much relieved to be on the right side of the trail. Once we made it back to the car Jay checked in with Chad. They discussed potentially going out to eat but I was tired and drenched so I just wanted to go home.

A showered and a wonderful homemade hot meal rounded out our 2nd day in paradise.

April 18, 2011

Mantra Monday - In the Footsteps of a Remarkable Man

My heart still aches despite everything in my head telling me to get over it - its just a silly little race after all.  My head keeps telling me how proud I should be of him. And I am. Deep down under the hurt and self doubt. The awe at my remarkable husband is there.

Mantra Monday
When he was little, he chronically got injured.  Every picture his mother has shown me of him as a little feller he has a big red bump on his head.  He would fall into the fireplace or something and get a giant knot.  The knot took forever to go away.  At one point the doctors thought it was a clot or a tumor - surgery to remove it would be necessary.
I thank God (literally - I don't say that casually) that he was tested and diagnosed with hemophilia before the surgery ever occurred.  Thankfully we only have to guess if he would have made it through the operation - cutting open someone with a blood condition, especially an undiagnosed blood condition, could be fatal.
His mother has told me that in the days that followed, she forced him to sit on the couch and do nothing - her fear of him being injured was to great to allow him to live life.  She sat opposite of him on the couch, crying and eating her favorite comfort foods.  How could they possibly make it through this?
The hard times for him came when he was in middle/high school.  His natural athleticism drove him to competitive sports, but he couldn't find a doctor to sign his medical release form.  There would be no football, basketball, or baseball in his future.  If he wanted to compete, they'd only allow him to join the swim team.
In college, he finally talked them into allowing him to compete in crew - some yuppy rowing sport - surely he couldn't injure himself too badly sitting in a boat rowing? 
Only he did.  The yuppy in him calls it his iliopsoas, we regular folks just call it a hip flexor.  Not one to whine or complain, he never brought it up.  His mom, however, told me of all the painful rehab they did to aid in healing and range of motion.
As with any injury, scar tissue can build.  They were told that he'd probably walk with a limp for the rest of his life.
Stop and think about that for a moment.
He's supposed to be walking with a limp right now.  A decade ago a doctor told him his gate would forever be marred by this injury.
My husband is a walking miracle.  Quite literally.
There is no reason he should have been able to finish a sub 30 5K, much less the difficult 26.2 mile trek we completed Saturday.
Life hasn't been fair to my husband.  He has blood condition that's supposed to be hereditary, yet no one in his family has it.  He's a product of a genetic mutation. 
He shouldn't be walking with ease, much less competing in marathons.
He shouldn't be able to beat me in a race of any distance, but he does.  Every time.  Except that time he had to poop and had to walk for 2 miles of the race.
He could have went into a bubble upon diagnosis, but didn't.

He has every reason to not get out there and live life, after all life will eventually kill ya.
Yet he refuses.  "Don't tell me what I can't do!"   A popular quote from the TV show Lost, but the mantra my sky-diving husband lives by. 
When life knocks him down, tries to dictate his course - he spits in its face and pushes the obstacle out of his way. 
My lack of athleticism isn't fair, but it only wins if I give in.  If I succumb to the temptation to sit on the couch and eat Cheetos.  Damn my lack of athleticism AND the horse it road in on.  I'm going to prove to myself that I'm better than this.
I'm going to train these next few week (after the blisters allow me to wear trainers again) with all my heart so that I can shoot for a new 5K PR on May 7th.
Then I'm going to hop in the pool and on my antique mountain bike to prove that I can conquer the hills of West Knoxville, crappy bike or no.
After that I'll race in two half marathons in back to back months.  Come winter, I'll start my marathon training.  Because the only way to conquer fear is to look it straight in the face.  Training on the hills of Gatlinburg will prepare for the brutal Knoxville Marathon.
I refuse to let fear tell me what I can't do.  I refuse to let it limit me. 
I refuse to allow myself to believe the lie that I'm not good enough.  If this race has taught me anything its that hard work and determination can take you far - especially when you have someone taunting you telling you that you can't do it.  Be it a wife or that hateful voice inside your head.

"Max on Life" by Max Lucado - Book Review

I love a good book review - especially when it allows me to catch a sneak preview of the new Max Lucado book.  This time Max on Life was the selected volume.

Unlike his typical "Max on a topic" books, this work isn't a straight read.  Instead of chapters of God's truth flowing from page to page, Max on Life answer direct questions from readers - one page at a time.  These answers aren’t just Lucado’s opinion on spiritual topics, but rather a topical look into the scripture for answers.

While I love Lucado’s writing style, this book was a little difficult to get into.  The 1-2 page discussions made this, not a book readers pick up and devour, but rather one to be selectively studied and considered. 

The book is divided by question topic, making it easier for the reader to find the precise subject that (s)he is looking for.  His responses are thoughtful and insightful.  While many of the questions are ones most every believer has heard (or wondered) before, the answers aren’t the trite “Sunday school” answers we’ve all heard before. 

To answer one question, Lucado in some places sites a variety of scripture.  This gave me confidence that rather than cherry picking verses to suit his own personal opinion, the author thoroughly studied scripture and pondered the question before responding.

I would recommend this book to anyone with questions about the Bible and its application for today.  It’s also good for those who don’t have time to read a “chapter book” as my niece calls them.  Its short response gives it more a magazine type feel – readers can pick up and put down this book at their leisure.

isclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com http://BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Disclosure: Amazon Affiliate links included in this post. If you click through to Amazon from Smart + Strong = Sexy, any purchase you make supports this site.

April 17, 2011

Mountain Man Memorial March - Race Report

Over a year ago I trained with a group of friends to compete in the Mountain Man Memorial March – 26.2 miles of walk/jogging/hiking through downtown Gatlinburg, going into the country and hitting some pretty steep, hilly roads.

At the time Jay made fun “You don’t have to train just to walk that race.” I insisted that doing anything for 26.2 miles required some sort of training. Then and there the bet was made – in one year’s time we’d enter the same race. He’d prove to me that training wasn’t necessary. And I’d sit back prideful knowing I was right, and that the distance couldn’t be completed without the proper preparation.

The night before I went out with some girlfriends – I had the teriyaki steak, peppers, & onions with mashed potatoes and green beans. Fairly healthy for a meal out. Jay made himself 42 pizza rolls and washed them down with 6 bottles of Natty Ice.

I was a lock to win.

The next morning it was still storming as I got up and dressed Jay lay in bed “I think I just forfeit now.” For some reason I talked him out of bed. We got a later start than I wanted, but we still stopped for breakfast on the way and made it in time to pick up our race numbers.

I got teary eyed looking at the people surrounding me. A host of military & ROTC personnel in full uniform. Most would be making this trek wearing 40 pound back packs. I’m sure there is some good reason for those military boots, but mostly they just look uncomfortable.

Once the race got started, we headed down the streets of Gatlinburg. On the sidewalk and looking from hotel balconies on River Road we were showered with cheers and well-wishers. “Thank you for coming out this morning.” I said to a couple as we passed.

“They aren’t cheering for you – their cheering for the military people.” Jay snapped.

“I don’t care who they are here for, it was sweet of them to come out and I wanted to thank them.” I bit back.

He and I stayed together for the first mile or mile and a half. “I hate to leave you, “ he said “should we try to stay together?”

“It’s a race – do what you need to do.” As he pulled away I assured myself I’d be able to reel him back in later. I trotted down the hills, as was my strategy, but he just kept getting further and further away.

As we turned down 321, I started to get bored. Putting in my IPod for the first time I realized I’d made a mistake. Downloading an audio book with head phones with no volume control = bad mistake. As the cars zoomed past us I couldn’t hear the author as she was reading. Thankfully we’d be on back roads soon and I’d be able to enjoy the book then.

In the mean time, I struck up conversation with some Boy Scouts, given their age they had to be Eagle Scouts or higher up in the ranks. I chatted with them for a bit as I munched on my Teddy Grahams I’d packed for the race. I felt like class mom or something when I offered them some.

I could tell I was an old lady cramping their style so we split company. At the half marathon turn around point, I caught up with a crew from the University of Dayton as well as a civilian marching in memory of a soldier killed in action. I’d seen a member of his team carrying a Purple Heart flag. The back of his shirt had a picture of a young man and Dec 2006 date. Underneath the date the shirt read “It can’t always be someone else’s son.”

As I spoke to this man I explained how I was racing my husband. About how last year I did it in honor of a friend’s husband who was overseas but this year it was a competition. How the hubby didn’t realize how hard the middle portion of the race would be.

He told me that he was a nearby local, but not from this county. How his son asked him to hike Mt. LeConte with him and how difficult it was when he did it without training. He said the next year his son mentioned hiking the Appalachian Trail (the Smoky Mountains portion), so he trained to prepare for it. When he asked his son when they would hike it, his son informed him that he had joined the military and there wouldn’t be an opportunity.

This gentleman never got to hike the AT with his son.

Instead, every year he returns to Gatlinburg to march this course in his son’s memory. He assured me that one day he’d be able to hike again with his son before chastising himself for becoming too sentimental. I assured him that was quite already and he’d earned the right.

He dropped back to check in on his team members and I continued ahead. Except for the portions of the road too close to the river & its rushing water from the night before’s storm, the audio book kept me company.

(i don't know why blogger isn't cooperating - this picture should be rotated left & it is everywhere until I upload it.  grrrr!)
At mile 12 there was a 9% grade. This is why I laughed at the old lady at Disney that called an underpass a “hill”. A 4% grade (and there were plenty of those) is considered substantial for a running course. This one was almost unmanageable.

(for full effect please either turn your computer sideways or view them on facebook)

Once I reached the aid station at the top, I took my shoes off to survey my feet. As suspected, a blister had formed on the insides of my heels on each foot. A medic fixed me up with some mole skin and I was ready to go. As I put my shoes & socks back on I heard a soldier ask for padded moleskin – he said his heels were hot but the balls were just absorbing too much pressure from hitting so hard. The medic advised him to put the padded moleskin between his inner thighs and the soldier just starred at him.

“Um, I meant the balls of my feet.”

Silly boys!

Most of the rest of the race was uneventful. The outsides of my hips started getting sore just past the half way point and I had to stop several times to stretch. At mile 20 I was starting to get discouraged, Jay was still well ahead of me.

In an effort to hydrate, I did too good of a job an around mile 22 I was desperate to pee. Despite being back on the main road, I couldn’t jog because of the state of my bladder. While my legs were crying to run, my bladder was threatening to wet me if I tried as much as a jog. I had to wait until the 24.5 marker before seeing a porta-potty.

It was just me and my thoughts since my Ipod wasn’t cooperating, and they weren’t happy ones. I heard my phone beep at the 6:20 hour point and I assumed it was Jay telling me he was done. It was my mother instead, but I didn’t get it before the call went to voicemail. Shortly after I got the call from Jay – he never said he was done but I knew it by my voice.

Although the sun was behind the clouds, I put my sunglasses on so I could cry. Didn’t want a passing car to mistake me for someone in physical pain.

What a failure I am I told myself. Worked two years to get here and Jay can beat me straight off the couch. I’ve been such a fool, been so proud of all I’ve achieved and in one day he proves that nothing I’ve done means anything. Anyone could walk 26 miles – you don’t even have to train for it, he said, then got out and proved it. I should just give up.

When I reached the last water station I asked how far it was to the finish. I honestly considered calling it quits. It was only another 1.5 miles, so I trudged on. Wogging from point to point, trying to remember the layout of the city and if the finish was just around the corner.

When I saw the guitar on the front of the Hard Rock Café I knew it was time to jog one final time. As I headed down the hill I heard cheering, knowing this time it was for me. I rounded the corner and headed toward the finish line. Jay popped out of the crowd, told me he was proud of me and crossed the finish with me.

I wanted to hit him.

My watch time said 7:50:54 – I think the official clock was a minute slower, but that didn’t account for the time it took to cross the start line. Official results haven’t yet been posted, but Jay thinks he might have placed in the civilian light marcher division. I’m going to do a post about how proud of him I am, but I just can’t stomach it right now.

Yes I’m still pouting.

This sucks.

Out loud.

April 15, 2011

Maui Day 1

We woke our first day in paradise to a delicious breakfast prepared by our hosts. After asking them for pointers, we began our Maui adventure. Some of the roads in the less touristy sections are pretty rough.

 So it was with the north side of west Maui. The road itself was smooth enough, but it was 1 lane wide while accommodating 2 directions of traffic. Thankfully Jay was in the driver’s seat to deal with all that stress.

Our first stop was a fruit stand – but not just any fruit stand – Julia’s. This stop was highly lauded by both our hosts and the guide book. We sampled some taro chips – and the world’s cheapest couple paid $4 for a tiny bag of chips. We also purchased a couple of loaves of banana bread – one for Jay and one for Chad and Caroline.

As we munched on the taro chips, we hit the road again looking for the Nakalele blowhole. It was a tiny hike, but very much worth it when we got down there.

Caroline had told us of a group of kids that got killed getting to close, so I made sure Jay observed from a distance. Thankfully another couple was down at the base to snap our photo.

We returned the favor and snapped their picture.  When we saw their pose we knew we had to play copy cat!!

Next on our list were the Olivine Pools – the footing here was a bit more tricky to navigate and this Dare Devil Diva had to be talked into it.

After pouting and refusing to go down for about 5 minutes, I saw another couple safely make their way to the pools and I decided to give it a go.

Here we learned our first rule of Maui travel – always wear a bathing suit. These pools would have been the perfect place to relax and enjoy the water, but neither Jay nor I had though far enough ahead. We soaked our feet for a bit, and did dare to walk around in the pools that only met our knees.

I was starving, so I made Jay stop in the nearest city (Wailuku) for lunch. Typically we prefer Mom & Pop restaurants, but we couldn’t spot any and Jay knows better than to make his wife go hungry for very long. McDonalds would have to do. After a successful refueling stop (both body and vehicle) we headed toward the ‘Iao Needle. This site was geared more toward older folk and families as far as the trails were concerned, but the view wasn’t disappointing.

On the way to our temporary home, we stopped at a beacon I read about in the guidebook. The lighthouse fixture itself wasn’t anything impressive, but our stop was well worth it. While there we saw our first whales of the trip.  We also kicked back to relax a bit at a nearby beach park, but since we didn't have our swimming gear we just enjoyed it from the beach.

A brief trip to Lahaina (a touristy area similar to Gatlinburg near where Jay & I live in Tennessee) for ice cream and shaved ice, as well as a pop into the used book store (I can’t pass one by without stopping) and our first day in paradise was almost complete.

We dined on the first of many dinners prepared by our expert chef/hosts then called it a night.

Check back in a month or so to read/see all about day 2!  I kid (hopefully).

April 14, 2011

The Parable of the Lost IPod Charger

There once was a girl who was training for a very important, very long race.  As she began to prepare the week before, she wouldn't located the charger for her IPod shuffle.  Her battery was getting low and certainly didn't have the 7 hour life left she'd need to get her through the race.

Also?  The charger was necessary to transfer the audio book she'd hoped to purchase/listen to during the race.  She frantically searched for the lost charger. 

She looked in the first aid zippy pouch where she normally stored it - not there.

She looked in all her luggage, wondering if she'd forgotten to unpack it - not there.

She check all her gym bags - not there.

She took every item out of her desk drawer at work - not there.

The girl began to panic.  What would she do for 7 hours if she had no music or book plugged into her ears?  Sure she could talk with the best of them, but the course was long and she anticipated find herself alone much of the way.  Also, her cell phone being an older model, she doubted if it, fully charged, would last the whole race if she had to use it to talk a good portion of the way.

She began to ask strangers for advice.

She begged off coworkers.  "Do you have a charger to fit my shuffle?"  Person after person had their own MP3 player, but none that fit this girl's tiny little IPod.

Finally a coworker offered use of his IPod.  Sure it was different than hers, but it was better than nothing.  This comforted the racer, but she realized she would be at his mercy.  What if he forgot it?  What if it wasn't full charged?  What if she couldn't figure out how to use it.

One last time she searched her house.  When was the last time I saw it?  She asked herself.  Maui.  Okay where did I have it in Maui?  She re-searched all the same bags, then stopped to consider that she hadn't searched some of the smaller cosmetic bags she had packed for Maui.

Looking in the linen closet, she found the charger - hidden in the pocket of her toiletries kit.  Excited, she return to the gym bag in order to retrieve the IPod and charge it.

Only the IPod was no where to be found.  After searching the whole house (yet again) she came up empty handed.  Where was the last place I had it? She (yet again) asked herself.  She decided it must have been left one of two places.  She either had it in her lunch bag (that was at her desk at work) or else she'd accidentally left it in the locker room.

Were it in the locker room she knew her IPod - a treasured gift from her sister - was long gone.  She resolved to look first thing when she got to work the next day.

She arrived at work to her normal routine: checking email, arranging the paperwork on her desk, making her "to do list".  About an hour into her day, she remembered the IPod.  The bag was two feet away.  She grabbed it, but hesitated in anticipation. 

She reached her hand into the front flap.





Pulled out the IPod.  She had found it!  Both pieces were reunited and set to charge.  Much rejoicing was done by all her. 

What does this have to do with you?  I think we could all stand to learn the following lessons:

  1. You are unique (just like everyone else :P).  There is only one you, so don't assume you can slack off and someone else can do your job.
  2. The borrower is slave to the lender.
  3. Fulfilling half the requirements still leaves the task completely unfinished. 
I hope you're living a story of rejoicing and redemption today.

April 13, 2011

Does the Hamster Wheel Every Really Have an End?

First off - if you missed my Operation Priceless post pop over and check it out here.  And if you see me on twitter I could sure use a #teamBrooke shout out.  The closer to race day (3 and counting) gets the more nervous I become!

Today is the last day of the

Spring In2 Action

challenge.  As much as I've enjoyed teaming up with Ashley for this one, I have to admit that I'm glad its over.  Just another hamster in a wheel not getting anywhere.  Which is cool if your goal is to not go anywhere or just to stretch your legs, but when you're trying to get on down the road its totally not cool.

(Once again) I've decided to change up the way that I weigh.  I'm not willing to restrict myself enough to see significant weekly progress.  Who knows if a 0.5 pound here or there is water or actual fat loss?  But to have lost 2-3 pounds for the month?  That's progress.

So, I start end this challenge just as heavy as I started, but with new resolve.

I will weigh myself the first week of every BC pill pack.  Every 4 weeks.  I'm thinking no more Sisterhood challenges for a bit, but I'll probably say that and they'll post a super cool new challenge that I desperately want to be a part of.

Week 1 is next week, but I'm not going to weigh.  I weighed today for the last week of the challenge and we'll just let that ride for the next 5 weeks.

Also?  I've got this picture on the desktop of my computer.

I want to get back there.  I'm leaps and bounds from it now.  It'll either encourage me to stay on track.  Or make me crazy.  We'll see 'eh?  So far its just helped.  Yesterday I chose to eat a Greek yogurt for afternoon snack and fore go the Texas toast with dinner. 

Today?  The office next door brought over omelets, hash brown casserole, biscuits, and muffins.  I made myself a small plate for lunch and moved on.   Then she brought over gravy for the biscuits and I caved.


So now I am 24 calories over goal (dinner & spin class taken into consideration, but not lunch). 


Moving right along...

Challenge goals:

For fun reading daily:
6/7 - this could have easily been 7/7, as the only day I missed was Saturday.  What was I doing Saturday?  Sitting on the couch being Miss Pouty Pants.  Not cool.  The upside is I did great the other days.

Daily Bible reading:
6/7 - see above.  Mz Pants needs to take a hike.

6/7 - Knocked this one out of the park drinking 9-10 glass of water every day.  Except, you guessed it, Saturday. 

(The biscuits & gravy are starting to give me a belly ache already.  Not cool.)

5/7 - This one was doable, but I sorta gave up on the push up challenge.  So Saturday and Sunday I was exercise free.  I averaged 27 minutes daily (186/7), so I'm counting this one as a win. 
Veggies & Fruits:
4/7 - My weakness, and I know it.  I failed on this goal the days that I ate like crap.  Easy way to fix that - stop eating crap!

Is it really too much to ask for 7/7 on all of these things just one week of the challenge?  Heck 7/7 on anything for a week would be great.  I'm considering keeping this up for another few weeks beyond the challenge because I'm a perfectionist just to see if I can improve.

April 12, 2011

Operation Priceless Countdown

The Mountain Man Memorial March is only 4 days away.


I'm starting to get scared.  We didn't do nearly enough hikes together to prepare, nor did I go out by myself and do long walks like I ought to have.

I have no doubt I can do this distance.  I've done it before and in worse physical shape.  I'm only starting to doubt my ability to do it well.  Last year we finished in over 8 hours.  This year I was hoping for a sub 7 time.  Right now I just don't see it happening.

For all my trash talk, I'm also starting to waver in my confidence that I'll beat Jay.  I know he'll be ahead of me at the half way point.  Will I let this wear me down?  If I let this get under my skin, I could end up letting it beat me.

I decided last week that I need to download an audiobook to my Ipod for the race.  I enjoy listening to books and all my music is just too fast for the walking I'll be doing most of the race.  (I do plan on jogging downhills, but that's about it.)

Only I can't find my charger/usb connector.  Its not in my desk drawer at work (where I normally charge it).  I looked in the first aid bag at home where I normally stash it for trips and it wasn't there either.  Tonight I'm going to do a thorough search of all workout bags and luggage.  Not sure if it ever got unpacked from the Hawaii trip. 

This is a must.  I'll get too bored on the course without something in my ear.  Sure I'm gonna pack my bluetooth and make calls like I did for Disney, but no one is going to talk to me over 7 hours straight!

I need your help. 
  1. Is there a place (in person) that replacement chargers can be purchased.  Online wouldn't get here in time.
  2. What audiobooks (around 6-8 hours in length) would you recommend?
  3. I'm looking for a race verse.  The one below seems somewhat appropriate, but I doubt hoping to beat your husband in a race is what God had in mind.
  4. Any words of wisdom for race day?

Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) - “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

April 11, 2011

"Final Summit" Book Review

First off - if you love to read and have a blog - have you joined Book Sneeze yet?  Its an excellent way to get free books, as well as get to read some stuff before its even released yet.  Now for the review...

The Final Summit by Andy Andrews is a sequel to The Traveler’s Gift.  This time the main character, David Ponder, joins his fellow travelers – some that he met in the previous journey as well as others he meets for the first time – for a summit to save humanity.  The world is in trouble and it’s the travelers’ job to come up with the two word solution that will put the world right.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the first part of the book. Partly due to confusion having never read the first story, but partly because the character sketch seemed so closely based on the life of Dave Ramsey (even sharing a first name) his character felt cheap.

As the story progressed, I began to see David for the hero that he is. I also enjoyed the history lesson provided in meeting the travelers. Many were people we are familiar with from times past. We’re also introduced to someone who is just as historical as the other characters, yet certainly not as well known. My history teacher sister had never heard of him!

Just like Andrews’ other books, it was an easy read. Light reading, without being inconsequential. Andrews writes fiction that doesn’t beat the reader over the head to teach a lesson, but valuable lessons are learned in the process.

I very much enjoyed this read.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com http://BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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/stuffy legal disclosures