Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Welcome to the World

I am so very excited to announce that I am an auntie!Again! My nephew, Max Jacob Mendoza, was born on February 28th. He came into this world weighing 6lbs, 14 oz. Already he is smiling just like his beautiful mother always does!
I really am a very lucky girl to have two nieces and now three nephews! I love each of them so very much and wish I could be in their lives every day.
As I blog about this, I have to wonder how Max or any of my other nieces and nephews will be digitally communicating when they get older. Will blogs still exist? How will people be sharing information? Or writing about their life experiences? I know when I was born, letters were still written and stamps were still used.
I love thinking about what my nieces and nephews will get to experience as they grow older.  I can't wait to watch them grow, take part in their life experiences and be their biggest fan!

I am not sure if blogs will still exist when Max is able to read, but just in case, here is my letter to my new born nephew.
Dear Max,
Welcome to the world! We spent 9 long months, patiently awaiting your arrival and we could not be more excited that our family has now grown! It will be a few weeks before I get to meet you and hold you, but for now, know that I already love you more than you will ever know and can't stop thinking about how happy you have made our entire family.
Even though your parents took a very long time to decide on your name, I think your personality and charisma are going to match perfectly with the name Max. You will probably be sassy like your sister, intelligent like your mother, and optimistic like your father.
Now, the bad news...you are a second child. I am too, but let me let you in on a little secret....you will find many ways to use it to your advantage! Just when you think your older sister is getting all the attention, you start crying and your Nana will drop everything to help you. I am sure you are already giving this a try!
And about that sister thing, you and I will talk long and hard about this in the future, so don't worry about handling the situation, I will tell you everything you need to know. Your sister is one of the most intelligent 2 yr olds that I have ever met and I am afraid it is only going to get worse. She is crazy cute and knows just how to wrap you around her finger. My sister is the same way. When we weren't fighting with each other, I would be admiring the amazing person that she is and always trying to emulate everything she did. So be tough and take the abuse that your sister is going to throw your way, but remember just how lucky you are to have a sister in your life. She will be there everyday and in ways you don't even realize.

I am so very excited to meet you and get to know you better. You are a very lucky person to be born to two amazing people that will love you very, very much and you have grandparents that are going to spoil you like crazy! Your aunts and uncles will support you and cheer for you in everything you do.
As you aunt, it is my duty to embarrass you with hugs and kisses at every opportunity, but I promise there is a cool side to me as well. Ask your sister about smoothie happy hours...they are all the rage in 2012!

I may not say it enough, but always remember how much I love you and how special I think you are. Your life is going to be filled with a  loving family that will support you in everything you do. I can't wait to hear about the adventures of Max and watch you grow to be an amazing person.

Love always, your auntie missa.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Instant happiness

Anyone that knows me, knows that I love food! All food! Healthy food, indulgant food, home cooked food...you name it..I will probably at least try it.
So to branch out my awareness of all great things food-related, I started following and reading several food blogs. While there are hundreds of food blogs out there and I, myself, would love to one day have the time and discipline to write a food blog, there are a few blogs that I follow daily. The blogs that I tend to revisit and get great ideas from are those that mix a good dose of food indulgance with some kick-butt fitness tips and workouts. So natually I find myself loving the blog The Lean Green Bean. Lindsay is studying to be a registered dietitian and provides great receipes, nutrition tips, motivation for reaching your goals and some great workouts that you can do at your gym or home. She is also the genius behind, Foodie Penpals. Lindsay started the program in Sept 2011 and now there are over 200 members enrolled! Basically, you sign up to be a penpal, get paired up to with someone that either has a blog or is a blog reader and you fill a box with goodies and send away! I love this idea! Not only does it give me an excuse to do some fun food shopping but I get to come home to a package of goodies waiting for me!

Foodie Penpals

I think it is instant happiness to come home to a box with your name on it and you know there is probably going to be some good stuff in it! My package came all the way from the great state of Wisconsin! Angie of Pint of  Goals (love the name!), did an amazing job of packing up some of my favorite, healthy items! Angie is also training for her first marathon, so she knows some of the best stuff that the blogging community shares for workout fuel!

Look at all this goodness....
Of all the blogs I read, a majority of the authors start their day with slow cooked oats, topped with sunbutter! YUM! I am so excited that I now have the good stuff to make this for my next breakfast!
And while there is little communication between penpals about preferences or requests, Angie managed to send me my FAVORITE energy bar. Larabars are great and she included some flavors that I have not tried yet!
And this my friends is gold in a jar. At least according to the food blogging community. I have read countless posts about how good this stuff is! So I am ready to experience my first ever sunbutter tasting! I think I have a banana waiting to be covered in this....or maybe I will just eat it straight for the jar.... no harm in that. Right?
Angie also must have known my new favorite snack is good dark chocolate. And boy, is this stuff delicious! It is the one thing that got opened immediately. I have tried to be disciplined and only sneak a small bite every time I am in the kitchen, but I was finding myself in the kitchen all the time and the chocolate slowing disappearing! That's weird...
Of course, I was not the only one that was excited to get some treats in the mail! The fur children were just as thrilled! What you don't see clearly in this picture is the cat putting on her boxing gloves and preparing for the fight with the dog's nose. No one is coming near her dates! NO ONE!

Angie did an amazing job of finding some of my all time favorite items and introducing me to new things that I have been wanting to try. Thank you Angie!

To see what I sent my foodie penpal, check out Maria's blog at A Life to Bragg About

I can't wait to do this again next month. If you are interested in participating email Lindsay at theleangreenbean@gmail.com

Thank you Lindsay for introducing me to my new monthly obsession! :)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Be Here Now

I recently attended a training for work and one of the mottos for the entire training was "Be Here Now". They were stressing the importance of all the attendees focusing on the topic and not checking emails and rushing out to answer every phone call that came in. This really stuck with me and got me thinking about how much I need to be reminded of this concept in all aspects of my life.

I think everyone is guilty of trying to multi-task and fitting in as much as possible. With smart phones that can do just about everything, you can have a conversation, surf the net, answer emails, and check Facebook, all at the same time! While you may feel very accomplished that you caught up on email and returned all your phone calls, were you really able to listen to what that other person was talking about? Did they really have your full attention and focus? Most likely not.

And the more I thought about it, Be Here Now applies to much more than just my bad habit of multi-tasking, it applies to how I should be living my life. I often find myself planning ahead, looking toward the future and counting down until what is next.  "only 4 more days until the weekend..." "only 20 more minutes until this workout is over" "only 5 more weeks until my next day off".....

I am constantly doing this and I have realized how much of life I miss out on by living this way. Instead of being here now, I am planning for what is next or complaining about how bad things are now. Unfortunately,  it isn't until you lose something that you realize how much you wish you would have been there then rather than looking to the future.

The planner in me will always look to the future and will always want to know what is coming up next, but I can change my outlook on life and be more present in life around me. Life isn't what you plan next week or next year, life is what is happening now. Life isn't guaranteed tomorrow or the day after, happiness will come and go, health gets better and gets worse, and mistakes are made and lessons are learned.  If you are not present for your life, you may miss the best things that are right in front of you. You may lose out on the happiest of moments and you may miss your opportunity to be the change that you wish to see around you.

While my marathon training is going well, I am already looking ahead and worrying about my next long run and what race days brings. Instead, I should be keeping my head high about completing 18 miles and bask in the glory that I have come that far! I should embrace the fact that I can get out of bed tomorrow and run 18 miles or 1 mile. I am injury free and I am in the best shape of my life.  Am I taking in all these accomplishments? No...I'm worried about completing 26.2 miles, I am on the scale and using the measuring tape, and I am thinking about how I will fit in all my workouts next week.

It is my wish that I could just breath in the moment, realize how far I have come and have confidence in myself that as long as I work hard and give it my best, I can be proud of my accomplishments and proud of this period of my life.

And I challenge you to be here now. Whether your now is good or bad, feel it and remember it. The moment will go away and life will continue with or without your presence.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Confidence Booster

As race day lies only a month away, I was in serious need of a confidence booster. So Saturday, I layered up the winter running gear and make the early trip to join my TNT team in their weekly long runs.  I have been staying away from long runs and focusing on interval/strength training due to some knee issues, but was in desperate need of some serious time on the trail and completing at least 10 miles. I started out telling myself I would run as much as I could and not try to push to the 18 miles that the other full marathon runners were going to run.  My last long run was in November when I did the Annapolis Half Marathon and since then, my training has been short high intensity running intervals and strength training, with a few 8-10 mile runs sprinkled in during the weekends.

So while I set my expectations low and told myself to be completely satisfied with completing 10 miles, I had a small voice in the back of my head that said...GO FOR THE 18!!

It was not the best day for a long run. The weather was in the low 30s and the were intermittent rain/snow showers all morning. Thankfully, I have mastered the art of layering and I was sufficiently warm throughout my entire run. I am so thankful for the warm winter we are having and thankful that I did not decide to train for a marathon during the humid months of a DC summer!

The other thing that made this run a little bit harder for me was not having any music. I am a fan of really loud, fast music to pump me up during my runs! For me, it helps the miles go by faster and I find it a bit easier to pick up the pace when one of my favorite songs starts to play. I am so in love with all the Pandora workout stations that now exist.  They are great for running! Since this run was with TNT, they encourage you NOT to wear headphones while you run.  Not only is this a safety thing, but part of the experience of group training is getting to know your fellow runners! I have never been one to talk to someone while I run, but I found it quite enjoyable to chat with the coaches during different sections of my run. Not only did it give me access to some one-on-one time with our running coaches, but talking while you are running is a great barometer for your pace. If you find it hard to catch your breath and talking is difficult, you are likely running too fast for a long distance run.  So I was a bit worried about not having my music to zone out to, but it ended up working out just fine. I had some miles of just quiet time with my thoughts and a few miles running with coaches and fellow teammates. GO TEAM!

The first 10 miles really flew by and I kept a great 10 min mile pace. I took a short break at mile 11 to grab more water and stretch and started up again.  I rarely felt the need to stop and take a break, so I was confident my pace was just right and my legs were just cruising along. I kept anticipating the knee pain to start but as I watched mile 13 tick by on my garmin....no knee pain to be found! All those squats and lunges were paying off.

As mile 15 came, I started to feel a few aches and pains. Both knees were feeling a bit sore, but not hurting and my ankles were starting to bother me. None of the pain was enough to stop running, rather just looking at my garmin in amazement of how far I had already gone and that was enough to push myself to just try one more mile! Before I knew it, I was at mile 17 and knew it would all be over in 10 mins. I am always so amazed at the energy I am able to summon up for the last mile. The last mile is my favorite! Not because it is the last mile, but because all the pain seems to go away and I get this burst of energy to run as fast as I can! And when that mile is finished and I can't breath and I can't feel my feet,  I know that I had a good run!

So there you have it...my first 18 mile run! It felt fantastic to finish and gave me the confidence booster that I need to stay focused for the remainder of my training. Plus, it was a great rehearsal for me to gage how I will fuel myself for race day. I have never worked out for that amount of time, so having a few workouts that last 3+ hours will help me determine how to hydrate and keep enough calories going in me!

The next long runwill be a 20 miler and than I will start to taper my long runs down while still keeping up high interval and strength training during the week.

I know I have said this before, but running really is an incredible thing. It may not be the best or most efficient workout but it is something that anyone can do and something you can work at to get better. If you would have told me 5 years ago that I would be running 18 miles in preparation to run 26.2, I would have laughed at you! Me??! No way! Now, I find myself itching for my next workout.

So training is going well and fundraising is going well too!! Thank you to all for your support and donations! Please help me get to 100% by donating today!
Click here to make your donation NOW!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Doubt

Only 40 days until race day! With February being such a short month, the calendar is starting to scare me. With only 6 weeks left, that means only 5 long runs/workouts left. While my focus has not been on long runs, my last two attempts at running have ended badly.

While there are many reasons why my runs have not been going well and logically, I know how to fix those reasons to improve on my next run, doubt has begun to set in.
Doubt that I am not training enough, doubt that I am not eating the right foods, doubt that my runs are not fast/long enough and doubt that there is no way that I can make it through 26.2 miles. (oh and doubt that I won't raise enough money!!)

Running is such a intra-personal sport.  Even when running with a group, running is something that is fueled by only your mind and body. Only YOU can get your feet to move faster and farther. Only YOU know when too much is too much or when enough is not enough. And this is one of the many reasons why I love to run. It is only me that I have to depend on and only me that will responsible for failure or success. There is also no better feeling than lacing up my shoes, finding a good Pandora station and hitting the pavement for 1 mile or 10 miles.

So while doubt is building up as race day comes closer, I know that only my actions can crush that doubt. Only my ability to use what I know to prepare myself will improve MY runs. And while time is of the essence when training for a marathon, tomorrow is another day and another training opportunity. While today wasn't as great as I would have hoped, tomorrow will better and I will be one step closer to my goal.

Donation update:
I am getting so close!! Thank you so much to those who have donated! I am at 61%! Click here to get me even closer! A special thank you to my latest donors:

Steve Berrones
Olivia Mendoza
Aida and Henry Berrones