Thursday, April 17, 2014

Your friend, JJ, starring in: "Pick Me for Ragnar!"

I don't typically enter those contests on the interwebs - you know, the giveaways on Facebook for liking and sharing photos and pages, and the blog giveaways for leaving a comment... I guess I feel I have had more than my fair share of good luck in life and all, so power to the people that do enter and "may the odds be ever in your favor!!!" (Imagine accent of Effie Trinket from The Hunger Games here...)


Much my surprise, though, I recently entered such a contest. Dimity and Sarah from Another Mother Runner (who I consider my running friends, though they don't know me yet...) were looking for 2 wannabe first-time marathoners. I didn't think I would ever want to run a marathon when I started running 9 months ago (never say never...You can read more about my running journey and my recent Half Marathon experience on my blog post "Why I Run"...)

Alas, the competition was crazy good, and I was not chosen as a winner, though it was hard to feel too terribly sorry for myself since the two ladies that were chosen are remarkably fabulous. I am so excited to follow their journey to Philly and their first 26.2...

But I still really wanted to run with D&S. I listen to their podcast on iTunes (Get episodes here...) and since I'm fairly stubborn and stuff... I decided to enter an equally cool contest to run with the BAMR Ragnar Relay team in San Francisco this fall.  September of 2014 (the time of the Ragnar Relay) is not only my runniversary, it's also just after my one year Cancerversary.  I was declared cancer free late last summer and officially in remission!  I want to celebrate that in a BIG way - I know that running as a BAMR at Ragnar would be a wicked cool way to celebrate...

I am worthy. But now I have to convince Dimity & Sarah that I am worthy. How am I going to do that???

As a trial attorney in my non-running hours, I make every effort to prove my case, beyond a reasonable doubt. To introduce evidence in a trial, attorneys can't just "say" this is the evidence, they have to call witnesses to testify. I thought perhaps those who know me would "testify" in the case of "JJ vs. AMR Ragnar Contest"... If you are reading this, consider yourself under oath and answer the following question:

"Why should JJ be chosen as a member of the Another Mother Runner Relay team?"

I am calling on you, best-running-friends and mother runners and father runners, family members, facebook friends, twitter followers, my Momfia and Moms RUN This Town peeps... and anyone and everyone who happens to believe in me.

If you are reading this, please leave a comment here*** and TESTIFY on my behalf as to why Dimity and Sarah NEED me on their Ragnar Relay team. (Please leave your first name and how you know me in the comment.) The contest ends on 4/28, so please share this blog link at will on social media... Running, and the friendships made therefrom, has changed my life. I hope to be an inspiration to others like my runner friends (including Dimity and Sarah) have been to me. I am crossing my fingers and holding my breath. Thank you!!!!

***Apparently Blogger comments left via mobile phone vanish into the black hole of the internet.  Thank you to those of you whole love me enough to type a comment on your phone - but note that it will likely not show up here - thus, if possible, please leave a comment from a computer or use the desktop site...and verify that you can see your comment when the page refreshes.  It wasn't supposed to be this complicated!***

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Hump Day Hilarity

What a weird week, y'all! I'm still recovering from my half marathon a week and a half ago. You may know I fell the week before and really pulled something in my left thigh/quad/groin... No fun. Been seeing my chiropractor and broke down to go to the doctor today. Muscle relaxers and anti inflammatories - crossing fingers. 

So, lots of people have asked me lately how much weight I have lost. I started running in September. Here's a little before and after:

It actually looks like I have lost a lot looking at it like this (I am being way super brave about this with my nasty white belly hanging out...). I was surprised because I didn't think I looked different and..... Drumroll please.....

I have lost a grand total of 2 pounds!

Amazing, right? Only 2 pounds but man I feel different. 

Ok, so moving along, check out my cute friends. I started a running club called Moms RUN This Town and somehow we are up to 160ish members. Wow. Some of us got together for a run on Saturday. Love this crowd. 

Cole's pinewood derby car won best in show! 
Here is a close up of his car and his sister's (girls get to race our pinewood derby, too!)
Here are all the cars:
Today I had lunch with my kids at school. There is no bad day that cannot be made better by lunch at elementary school. Just sayin':

Love my kiddos - my Irish Twins:

And to celebrate hump day:
Think about my friend Melissa (and me and my friends and her family) because we have lost Melissa's mom - a true fighter and crusader against Cancer. I will be traveling to celebrate her life well lived with my sweet friend and her family. <3

We will miss you, Linda. 







Saturday, March 29, 2014

Why I Run

This was the forecast on Friday night - for Saturday morning.  The morning of my very first half marathon.  The half marathon for which I had trained for 4 months...
But, I soldiered on with my pre-race preparations. I have run a number of 5ks, a 10k and a 12k, but this was almost double my longest race yet. I was nervous but really not too bad. I set all my stuff out. My husband made spinach pasta with light Alfredo sauce and I drank a gallon of water (well, not all at once...but still).

My BRF (best running friend) Molly, who conveniently lives in my neighborhood, picked me up at exactly 6:45am after my pre-race coffee, bagel and banana. It was raining. I was ready with my visor and my trash bag...

Then, it was almost time. 

And off we went! The first 5 miles were kind of a blur. I apparently took the above photo on the stretch road out to mountain campus... Where we passed Swan Lake.  (Warning - some photos that follow are blurry. It was rainy-ish, yes - but they are mostly blurry because of my very technical method of carrying my phone when I run. I shove it under the strap of my sports bra. So it gets humid and sweaty and the lens fogs up. Sorry...)

(Yes that is a real swan and I was probably 25 yards away...)

This is just after mile 6 at the old mill...

Then we ran up past Winshape and at the Normandy Inn (?) - at this point, it was 9:30. Still no real rain to speak of! It cleared when the gun went off. 

The volunteers were my favorite part of the race. And they liked having their photos made:






This girl (who is bound to be my real life friend soon) was super into encouraging all the runners. Thank you!!!

And then, gloriously, Mercifully, I was at mile 12. Phew!!!

(See? I was really happy about mile 12...)
And then I saw the finish line! And my friend Molly was at my last turn. She ran the 5k and then waited in the windy weather for me for like an hour and a half. True running friends are hard to beat!!!

And as I approached the finish line I saw my husband. He had been waiting patiently for an hour and a half, too! His jeans and jacket were soaked.... I saw him before he saw me and I busted into tears. 12 seconds later I realized there was a photographer at the finish line and an ugly cry finisher photo was not what I wanted so I sucked it up!!!  
I had to use the facilities (my running buddies know I used the port-a-johns THREE TIMES between 7 & 8 am. But I refused to stop during the race. ;)

Here I am post-potty with my medal!

So. Here are my thoughts. 1) I did it. I really did it! 2) it was worth it. All that hard training was totally worth that busting about-in-tears moment. 3) the race was beautiful and an awesome run. My time was not super fast but I wasn't last and I felt great. 4) post first half-marathon if you sit or lay down, don't plan to get up for a while. Not worth the effort. 

I had a lot of people encouraging me in my journey to this achievement. Yes, I am the one who actually laced up and sweated out all those miles. But, I have had a lot of outside inspiration from all of my running friends, my non-running friends, my family, and sometimes even strangers - like the little 6 or 7 year old boy at mile 5-6 that handed me water and told me I was looking good and he was proud of me because I was almost halfway!

In this journey, I have also had people tell me that because they saw what I was doing with running, they were also inspired to get up and move. My heart is full of gratitude for those of you who have decided to make your own journey. I want to be very careful about this next part.... I have also had a billion questions about running. I am not an expert, nor am I a very experienced or fast runner.  I don't know the answers to nutrition and fueling questions, or about plantar fasciitis, or whether static stretching is good or bad. So, I usually just refer those people to the interwebs. 

The number one question I do get though, as a runner that started running at 36 years old is - WHY? Some want to know why because their motto is "I don't run unless I am being chased..." (For the record, that was also my motto before last summer/fall...) Others want to know because they want to start running, but need to know how to start; or, they have tried to run, but have not enjoyed it. As a technical matter, I didn't really love running for the first 2 months, but I did love that I found myself pushing for further and faster each time I went out...and, if you never love running, it's ok. I think you have to find your own reason to run. 

Maybe my story will help you find your reason. I know exactly why I run. I don't tell everyone often, because it seems sappy and overly emotional and ... Well, too deep. But, deep down I know why I take every step, even when it hurts, even when I don't want to, I don't feel like it and any other chore would be preferable to lacing up and hitting the pavement. 

I run because I can. I run because when I do, I feel more alive than I have ever felt before. And "alive" is the one thing I want to always *remember* to count as the most profound gift I have ever been given. 

It's not complicated. I can run. So many people can't run and will never even be ABLE to think about running. So, when I run, I remember to be grateful for my legs that carry my body. My heart pumps blood to my brain and my muscles and my brain tells everyone - keep going, guys. My lungs draw in the oxygen that keeps everything fed and healthy. My skin sweats and cools my body temperature. What amazing machines we are. 

This next bit is probably the most profound part, for me; this is also the part I am not so great at spouting off when people ask me why I run. I run because it helps me remember I am ALIVE. My legs hurt. Bad!!! It's hard to breathe (but I keep doing it...) I have to use my brain to get un-lost on an 8 mile unmarked trail (and yes, I use my smartphone, too...) The pain of running, the physical sensations and difficulty - they make me FEEL ALIVE. And yes, I feel alive most of the time, but when I am running, there is not a lot else to feel... I become very focused on the physical capabilities of my body - my amazing aliveness. 2 years ago this month, I started radiation treatment for a really weird type of cancer called Anaplastic large cell lymphoma. After like, a bazillion tests, it was determined that my prognosis was really good and I was going to be fine. I was lucky to never have been particularly ill, and that I had the best care ever. But it changed me. It changed how I feel about my body. Instead of being irritated about how my hips don't fit into the size I want, I embrace that these very hips carried two other lives into this world. 

So, when I run, I remember that I am so very very very lucky to be able to feel the blood pumping and the muscles straining and the lungs squeezing. This makes me alive. Alive is what I strive to stay...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Life gets in the way of 40 days (But Lent goes on...)

So, I have admittedly slacked this week on the 40 bags challenge. The way I see it we still have 25 days left in Lent. I am pretty sure I am well over 25 bags already, so... We'll call it good for now. 

I have cleaned the following areas (with no true photo evidence):
Under the couches and coffee table. (This produced a whole bag. Don't judge...it was mostly dog hair.)
The front hall entry way and hooks. (Our hooks breed jackets, hats, bags, and the junk in those bags breeds more junk. Srsly. And, in this winter-that-never-ends, please Jesus let us have clean hooks with no more coats hats mittens!!!) 
Oh my goodness, I have never looked at my house like I have in the last 18 days (or however many) - there is dust on everything. And I dust!!! also, where do cobwebs come from? And how do they keep coming back? Are they just collected dust in the corners? Aren't true "webs" supposed to be circular intricate weavings of silk with a big fat spider in the middle? Actually I googled this random thing because of course in my house with an 8&9 year old we have random such questions 47 times a day and employ google regularly. http://indianapublicmedia.org/amomentofscience/cobwebs/

Alright, so I rid the house of cobwebs, at least for a day. And I pledge to remain vigilant. 

Moving right along...
I ran a 5k last Saturday and got my best 5k time yet... (That's me in the middle. In the grey...)
And also, my alma mater (14 seed) beat Duke (#3 seed and bracket pick favorite for final four!) 78-71 in the NCAA tournament. 

Unfortunately but with a huge helping of grace and fan loyalty, My bears lost to Tennessee in the next round. Alas, Mercer Madness was EVERYWHERE on the interwebs and I am proud to be an alumnus. 

And...

 My puppy (who is not actually a puppy at 2.5 human years old, but we call him Puppy nonetheless...) is in hospital and has been since Monday. He has (had) a terrible abcess on the side of his neck/face under his ear. Poor baby. Here is a cute photo. 
Hopefully he will come home tomorrow. 

And... I am running my first half-marathon in 3 days! Eek! The Berry Half/10k/5k benefits the Berry College Elementary School and I am super excited (albeit a leeeetle nervous!)
And....since (in addition to my total lack of organizational skills) I have a propensity for being accident prone and, well, totally clumsy, I managed to hurt myself. And of course I had to do it on the Eve of my first half marathon after, you know, 15 weeks of hard training. I had to call my husband on Sunday to come pick me up a mile from home after a stick jumped up and tripped me. Having a massage today to loosen that all up. I'm a wreck. But, you know, I am an entertaining and well-loved wreck.

Anndddd.... I decided to start a running group - a chapter of the national group Moms RUN This Town (www.momsrunthistown.com) - we had our first get together Saturday (pre-tumble)... And I indulged in some retail therapy since my running shoes have 400+ miles. I got the green ones on the left, Mizuno Wave Runners.

Annndddd - I have some friends getting married, so I am attempting to finish their Love Quilt in time for the nuptials. 

All this said, I will get back to my 40 bags. I have a trial calendar tomorrow. My Webelo is camping with his den this weekend, my girl is sewing with her Grandmomma, my sweetie is going to the Braves game (yay baseball) and I am running a half marathon and taking a nap. Next week is spring break, so as soon as I finish my appellate brief that is due next week, I will be able to tackle my income tax return and do some purging. Kids' rooms are impending doom... And I have the front closet:
And the laundry room:
How are you doing with your 40 bags? Or do you have another Lenten challenge? Do you do spring cleaning? Why is your experience with cobwebs?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

40 Bags in 40 Days: days 11 & 12

Happy Friday Eve!
It's been a rough week here. Not any one thing but a whole slew of things are piling on to exhaust me this week. Housework, lawyer work, kid work, and also - I am running my first half marathon in 8 days (ohemgee!) - and I am battling the end-of-16-weeks-of-training slump. I mean, I'm ready for the race, and excited, but the nerves and the "did I do everything I needed to so I can finish strong" worries are creeping in! I did run a 5k last weekend (excuse the screen shot phone photo... I should really download the photo)... It looks like I am busting it and all those folks around me are leisurely strolling along... But it was a personal record best time for me! It was my 5th 5k in 5 months. How's that for alliteration?

Ok - while we are rambling (ok, it's me that is rambling, but you're following along, right?) Another thing I became obsessed with this week is bento boxes. If you don't know about bento (the formal Japanese term is Obento) - you can google it but basically they are compact boxed lunches that, ideally, are nutritious and tasty and usually kinda pretty, too.

Without getting into all the details of my ongoing weight loss struggles, basically I have a thyroid function issue, and vi eat really well and stay within my recommended calorie range every day (accounting for fueling my training runs, too...) - but I occasionally struggle with the 40/40/20 carb/protein/fat balance... So, bento was a good solution. So this happened:
And this was today's:
And then my kids were jealous so they got their own bentos and this happened:
Needless to say, we have had good times eating lunch this week!

Ok, onto the bagging and purging, etc. I actually have gotten rid of 5 bags in the last 2 days. 3 trash and 2 donations, but I only got this photo:
I also cleaned out my antique buffet/sideboard which we use as an entertainment center/ tv stand... It was a mess. I threw away or gave away more than half the stuff, thus freeing up some extra storage space for all the electronic thingamajig we need to keep in the living room. 
Before:
After:
Also, I dusted all the electronic piles on top. Have you ever looked behind your tv??? Oh my holy oats it is dusty back there. The only thing left is getting that tangle of wires sorted down there. That is a husband job. 

This weekend I may (or may not) tackle one or both of the childrens' rooms. Maybe not. Maybe I will just do the front hall closet (a big task but not near the overwhelming mess of C&C's living space!)

Now, off to bed, I have court and a lot of weekend to get into tomorrow... Until the next bag...





 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

40 Bags in 40 Days: 10 & 11 - when life gets in the way

So, I'm sitting in my car typing this post on my phone. Yes, I could do it at my office but work is work; that is, when I am in my office (which I organized back at the beginning of the year - see photos below) my head is not focused on fun, interesting, informative and entertaining blogging. I have thoughts of bond reductions, plea negotiations, appellate arguments, probation conditions and motions to suppress. At least, that's what I did in the last hour. 
Here: my office...before and after:
 I could do the blogging at home...but I feel like my home time with my handsome hubs, precious littles and hairy dogs is already limited and throw in swim practice, cub scouts, training for a half marathon and the 40 Bags project and I do not want to sit at the computer when I get home. 

So here I sit. Why am I in my car? Because I have to grocery shop. Grocery shopping ranks right up there on my most exciting necessary tasks with getting a root canal. Except I have to do it roughly every 10-14 days. I am pretty organized about the meal planning at my house - I know, I know - me and organized don't usually show up in the same thought but we don't eat out too much, and I have been meal planning for years now. So, I spent a little while deciding what to cook (between swim and running and scouts and bond motions)...made a list...popped on Publix.com to coordinate coupons and sales...

And I have started taking my lunch in my fancy new Bentgo bento box:
My kids are so jealous of this little set up and its yum factor they have convinced me to order them their own bentgo bentos. 
So my list includes lots of healthy packable-for-lunch things... And I look forward to a stocked fridge and pantry...But I'm stalling the actual shopping, paying, getting home, organizing and putting away part. 

In other news, I have made some minor progress with my 40 bags. Here is our "toy chest" behind my couch. It rarely gets opened...

And I used to use it to corral little kid toys like Duplo blocks, dolls, and FP Little People sets. Somehow , though, I no longer have little kids so we cleaned it out:
There were a couple games in there we kept, and a stash of matchbox cars and 3 nekkid barbies. (Incidentally, I am sure no one ever outgrows matchbox cases. They are the perfect "toy" for 2 year olds and 12 year olds alike, gender neutral, cheap, portable, the possibilities are endless.)
The chest ended up empty:
And we decided it would be an awesome place to keep our family board games and our new collection of beloved jigsaw puzzles. 

I also did clean out the coffee table drawers and the pile of crap on the front entry table, but those photos are not enlightening at all. March onward... Towards semi-organization!!!







Sunday, March 16, 2014

40 Bags in 40 Days: 7, 8 & 9

Sorry it's been a couple days! Thursday night we had swim and I finished sweeping and mopping the kitchen. I can officially say it is completely organized and cleared out of unnecessary stuff!

Next, I tackled the dining area. I have three pieces of furniture in that portion of our open floor plan living area, table & chairs, armoire (that I use for sewing storage) and a china cabinet. 
I cleaned off the tops of the cabinets first and dusted. (Yikes! Super dusty!)
And I cleaned out the inside of the china cabinet and got rid of a lot of extra glasses and things. 
Donations:
Also, our hooks by the back door were out of control. Covered in soooo much junk. Bags and coats and hats and gloves and swim goggles... I didn't take a proper before photo... 
But here is the after:
(Chickfila cow art by Carson, 2011)

I also cleared out the side table between the couches:

Bag/box totals:
Donations: 18 bags or boxes (9 black garbage bags, 4 boxes books, 1 box DVDs, 4 boxes glass vases, drinking glasses and crystal.)
Trash: 13 kitchen bags
Recycling: 2 giant city cans full

I am on track to finish the entire livin area by this weekend, so stay tuned! Thank you all for your continued support - it feels really great!