It Will Change Everything: A Race Recap of Sorts


Four years ago, I watched as my friend picked up her race packet for the Oklahoma City Memorial half marathon. "That's so cool," I said. "I could never do anything like that." 

I'd never run longer than three miles at a time, and thirteen sounded so incredibly, insanely far. Half marathons were for real runners. People who were brave and adventurous and had really nice calf muscles. They weren't for people like me.

Six months later, I ran my first half marathon, and it changed my life. I know that sounds dramatic, but it's true.

Since then, I've gotten most of my family to start running. In 2012 I ran the OKC Memorial half with my dad, and I did a mud run with my brother Daniel. Last year, my dad and I both ran the full marathon, and I finished the 2013 Texas Cowtown half marathon side by side with my brother Austin, whose pacing and encouragement helped me finally hit my goal of a sub 2-hour half.

This past weekend, my mom and I ran the OKC Memorial 5k together. After four years of watching the rest of us, I thought my mom deserved a chance to join in the racing fun. So I signed both of us up and gave her the registration as a Christmas present.
[Side note: The race start was delayed 2 hours due to thunderstorms. 
We were forced to hang out in a parking garage. Comfy.]
- - -

She started out using the plan I highlighted in part 1 of my "How to Start Running" series: 10 minutes of walking + 1 minute of running. Over time, she decreased the walking minutes as she increased running minutes. 

On Sunday, we crossed the finish line in just under 42 minutes with only two short walking breaks, which means she went from 1 minute of running to over 40 minutes of running in five months.

She was so nervous at the start, that her hands shook as she pinned her bib to the front of her shirt. "My goal is to finish," she told me. I laughed. "That's a good one."
- - -
"Look! There's the finish line!" I said as we turned the corner, our 3.1-mile journey almost complete.
"Where? I can't see it!" she said, craning her neck around the tall guy in the gray shirt who was right in front of us. We switched sides so she could run on the outside and get a good view of the green FINISH sign.

[photo credit to my friend Jenna!]

"We're not stopping until we cross the finish line," I said.
"But I think I'm going to die!" she cried.
"I know it feels like you are," I said calmly, "but you're not. Hang on. We're almost there."

With the finish line just steps away, she gave it a final push and crossed in 41:57.
"I think I'm going to start crying," she said.
"That's okay," I replied, patting her back. "That's okay. You did awesome. I've definitely cried after races before."
She leaned into me then, and her shoulders shook with sobs. "I can't believe I did that."

On Sunday I basically sat in front of my computer hitting "refresh" on my Facebook page as my friends continued to post pictures from the race. I'm just so freaking proud of them all. 

Jessica ran her first marathon; Marisa and Stephanie ran their first halfs; Scott, Natalie, and Sabrina finished half marathons; Ashley and Beka ran in marathon relays; and on Saturday one of my college friends (and maid of honor) Justine ran the 6.9-mile leg of a marathon relay in Illinois, beating her time goal by 15 seconds/mile. Months and months ago she originally started running on the treadmill for 20 seconds at a time, and she just ran nearly 7 miles. There are no words. Shoutout also to Abbey, who ran her first marathon last weekend.

Listen: If running isn't your thing, that's okay. It's not for everyone, and I get that. I don't like volleyball. It's all good.

But if you never start because you don't think you can do it, then you're only cheating yourself. When it comes to running, you can absolutely do it. 

At the end of the day, it's not about the medal or the t-shirt. It's about getting out there. Being healthy. Achieving goals for yourself that you never thought possible. 

And if you take the chance, I promise it will change everything. It certainly did for me.

Congrats on your race, Mom. I'm so proud of you.
And to Sarah, my dear little sister, you're the only one left. I'm coming for you.

5 Foods I Shouldn't Buy Because I Have Zero Self-Control and Eat It All


I like to think I'm a healthy eater. Yes, I like meat. I like the occasional box of mac 'n' cheese. I like Doritos. Still, I cook at home most nights, we rarely eat out, and in general we do pretty well in the food department. Lots of fresh veggies and chicken and such things like that.

But I've learned that there are a few things I should never allow myself to purchase, because I have absolutely zero self-control. I like to think I do, but then I buy them and they're gone within a few days. It's like I come home with my bags of groceries, and suddenly I become unable to control my arm. It reaches out, opens the top, and then grabs a handful and brings it to my mouth. I didn't do anything! In fact, I was standing there telling it to stop, but my arm wouldn't listen.

Meanwhile, Jordan doesn't seem to have this problem and simply shakes his head in shame while I stuff my face.

Here are my top 5 biggest offenders:

I've talked about my obsession with this ice cream too many times on this blog, but it needs to be stated again. THIS IS THE BEST ICE CREAM EVER. I seriously have to limit myself to only buying this never. I think, "I'm fine. It's fine. I can just eat a little at a time." Lies! What I do is eat six small bowls a day, which equals like two giant bowls, but in my head I feel like I'm just eating a tiny scoop at a time. 

Three days later, the entire half gallon is gone, and Jordan's like, "Um, I didn't get any." And I'm like, "You snooze you lose!" Then I run away while spouting maniacal laughter from the ice cream-induced haze that has overtaken me.

These pretzels are so. freaking. good. I bought some last week and ate the entire bag by myself in a few days. Jordan didn't get any because I refused to share. 

Right now you might be thinking, "Okay, that's not so bad for you." But when you're eating an entire bag with a serving size of 17 in just a few days? It's probably not the best. Especially considering the ridiculous sodium count. I try not to think about it.
I can't lie to you. 
I buy the 2.5-pound bag and straight up eat these out of the bag by the handful. The worst part is that I'm like an addict with them. Jordan will walk into the kitchen and be all, "So whaddya doin'?" And I'm all, "Nothing go away. It's cool. I'm just standing here next to the fridge for no reason." But there's chocolate smeared around my lips and on the palms of my hands where it's slowly melting as I hold a handful behind my back. Because apparently I'm five years old. 

Unfortunately, hips don't lie as well as I do.

Let's just say I go through a lot of peanut butter. A lot. Crunchy, obviously. I even go so far as to buy extra crunchy because, well duh. Extra crunchy = extra goodness. Creamy peanut butter is for suckers. Sometimes I even sprinkle some chocolate chips onto my spoonful of peanut butter. But we're going to forget that last sentence ever happened.

You know what? Lucky Charms really ARE magically delicious. And Jordan doesn't like them, so that just means more for me! Plus, see that big check mark on the top of the box? That means it's made with whole grain, so it's good for me. Booya.

*Honorable mention: Chocolate chip cookies, both the dough and cookie itself. (See photo at the top of this post.) Knowing how to bake delicious cookies is both a blessing and a curse. I never realized until I got older how much my mother sacrificed by giving me the batters to lick. This is partly why we're still waiting to have kids. 
You think I'm kidding.

* * *
Okay, your turn to spill. Make me feel better!
What foods can you not resist?

4 Creative Bridal Shower Games


[original background image via]

I've been named Master of Games at three bridal showers now. Apparently this is the job to give out-of-town bridesmaids, but I'm not complaining. It's fun to think of creative games to play. Since it's wedding season and such, I thought I'd share with you guys four of my favorite bridal shower games. These are pretty creative and have really been a big hit with the guests.

* * *
Love Bingo

Click on the picture below for the original post I wrote with directions and such.

* * *
A Wedding Crossword Puzzle

THIS SITE (<--click) has a free online puzzle maker! You can make crossword puzzles or a word search puzzle. All you have to do is enter the clues and answers, and the site creates the puzzle for you. Then, you download it, print, and make copies for the guests.

This is a great game if you have a party where not all the guests are familiar with the wedding details or know much about the couple's love story. Some answers can be easy (the bride's name) and some can be hard (the month the bride and groom went on their first date). 

Everyone will learn a little something and have fun! You can play this as a race, where the first person to complete it wins, or you can just pass out the puzzles and give everyone a couple of minutes and then go over the answers as a group.

* * *
Right Left Love Story

This game I played at a shower for soon-to-be sister-in-law. It's something I'd seen before at Pampered Chef parties I've hosted, but I never thought about doing something like this at a shower. It's called the "RIGHT LEFT" game. 

I bought 2 small presents, wrapped them, and gave them to two random people around the circle of guests. Then, I read the bride and groom's love story out loud. Every time I said the word "right," the presents were passed to the right. Same for "left." Whoever ended up with the presents at the end of the game won the prizes!

Basically what I did was copy the bride and groom's love story that they wrote on their wedding website into a Word document and revised it so it used the words LEFT and RIGHT as much as possible. If you don't have a love story written out, you can definitely write one yourself.

As an example, here's the first line of the story:
This is a story about how bride's name found her MR. RIGHT.

And here's the last paragraph I wrote:

Under the twinkling lights, Mr. RIGHT bent to one knee and asked Amy to marry him. He said he knew it was the RIGHT thing to do and that he loved Amy so much he was LEFT with no choice but to marry her! He put a ring RIGHT on the ring finger on her LEFT hand and made it official. Now all that's LEFT to do is wait! And that's the story of how Amy met her MR. RIGHT.

Everyone had a lot of fun with this game, and they got to learn a bit more about the love story of the couple.

* * *
And the Bride Wore...

This one's easy and fun. 

Before the shower, ask 8-10 questions (or more!) about the bride's appearance. Then, at some point, have her slip from the room without anyone noticing. Maybe while everyone's finishing up from cake or getting ready for presents. Ask everyone to fill out the questions just based on their memory. Then have the bride come back out. You'll be surprised by how much you've missed!

* * *
Have you ever been in charge of games at a bridal shower?
What are some other creative bridal shower games?

Runners Tell All Linkup: Poop


"Runner's Tell All" is a monthly linkup for runners of all ages, skill levels, and experience hosted by Sunshine to the Square Inch and The Lady Okie. Each month we'll have a different topic, and you can find all the topics listed here. We are accepting two sponsorship spots for each month, who will receive a sidebar ad on both blogs as well as entry links in the giveaway. 100% of your sponsorship money will go directly toward running-related giveaways. Find more information on sponsorship here. **May spots are filled. We're open for June!

Before I jump in, I have to tell you something. I promise this is a real story.

When I told Jordan the topic of this month's Runners Tell All and how it was about a bad training run or race story and what I learned from it, he gives me a look and says, "Oh, so are you going to talk about poop?" Holy crap! (Pun intended.) I had just been about to say, "I'm going to write about poop." We are made for each other, you guys.

Okay, now onto my story.
So, yeah. Poop. 

If I had a dollar for every time I had to stop in the middle of my run to sprint to the nearest bathroom, I'd have enough money to buy my own personal Port-o-Potty. Which honestly probably needs to happen at some point. Let's just say that running and my bowels do not get along. This race sign pretty much sums it up perfectly.

The most terrible runs that stick out in my memory are, surprisingly, not the ones where I was dry heaving or the ones where I got cramps or the ones where my knees were hurting. No, my most dreaded nightmare of all runs are those where I feel the inescapable need to find a bathroom as soon as possible. It's pretty much the worst feeling ever. 

You can't run toward the bathroom, because that makes it worse. But you can't walk either, because that takes too long. So you're forced to wobble like a penguin while clenching your cheeks and rating nearby bushes using a scale of "is this big enough to squat behind so on one will see me?" I have problems.

All THAT to say, here is what it's taken me nearly four years of trial and error to learn: I should eat and drink as little as possible before running.

I read an issue of Runner's World once that said before a marathon you should eat, like, 3,000 calories or something ridiculous. Okay, it probably wasn't that much, but it was a crazy high number. I love RW, but no. I'm not a personal trainer or a running coach, so this is probably terrible advice, but I seriously eat barely anything before a run or race. I just can't handle it. Before my marathon, I think I ate a small bowl of oatmeal and maybe half a plain bagel with nothing on it.

Here's my point: In terms of fueling, you have to decide what's right for you. No one else can decide that for you. Just because someone else stuffs themselves doesn't mean you have to. Conversely, just because someone doesn't eat anything doesn't mean you shouldn't eat a lot. This is a process of trial and error.

If you're really having bathroom-related trouble on training runs or at a race, you might consider keeping a food log. Write down what you ate, when you ate it, and when your workout was. Then, after your run, ask yourself: How did you feel? Sluggish? Energized? Did you have to pee or poop in the middle of your run? Over time, you'll be able to see a pattern and know what kinds of things to avoid so you can train and race your best.

I still have issues every now and again, and before a race I usually have to poop like five or six times (it's the nerves!), but it's gotten much better than it used to be. Thank goodness.

So that's my advice! I hope it helps. If nothing else, you probably learned something you didn't know about me and my bathroom habits. You're welcome.
And if you have ANY questions about this topic, feel free to ask. Don't be shy!

(Wednesday, May 21)
Share a running picture. It can be from a training run or race.
Just show us a picture of you running and tell us about it! This should be fun.

April Giveaway

This month's winner will receive $35 to spend on They have some great gear you should check out, one of which is these ID bracelets you can get personalized with your information to wear while you run. A couple of people mentioned these during last month's linkup sharing favorite running gear. I'd like one myself. We need to be safe while we're out on the road, and RoadID is the perfect place to get fixed up!
Be sure to check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

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Runners Tell All Linkup Rules

  1. You MUST leave a comment on the person’s blog who linked up directly before you. This is not a linkup for the sake of linking up. This is a linkup to build community and spread the love and encouragement to your fellow runners! Don't be lame.
  2. Only link up posts related to our running prompt. Do not share links to unrelated running posts or to your blog’s homepage, or we will have to delete your link. (I've done it before too, so I'm not joking.)
  3. Please link back to either Beka or Amanda in your post so others can come here and join in! Or grab the button below and add it to your post.



Before marrying Jordan, I had no experience with boys who played video games. My brothers didn't play video games, and I never dated any boys who played (I also hardly dated, but that's a discussion for another day).  It was strange at the beginning, but over the past three years of marriage, I've gotten more used to this rather odd (to me) hobby. Now, understand: I'm not completely used to it, but I'm getting better. At least, I like to think I am.

But one thing I don't know if I'll ever get used to is the randomness of a startling eruption of shouting followed by a strange sequence of dialogue as Jordan and his friends try to avoid the calamity of certain video game death. (The dialogue, in case you didn't know, occurs because they all have microphones and talk to each other during the game. Jordan wears  headphones, though, so I only ever hear what he says.)

The following is a verbatim transcription of one such exchange (at least Jordan's side of it). I was sitting calmly in the living room answering emails, when all of the sudden I heard...

The ghost. THE GHOST. (<---He seriously shouted this so loud that it scared me, and I choked on my sip of water, which is when I decided to open up a Word doc and type out everything else he said after that.)

You've got to shoot him, man. Well, he teleported. All right, we've gotta go get our crap.



That's good. 
We've gotta run and get them. 
It's gonna take all three of us. We're gonna have to do it one at a time. 

No, wait. Three at a time.


He's down.

I need help.

We gotta hurry! Come on.

Oh crap there's a lot of them.

There's another one over there, but I'm almost out of ammo.

I have five rounds left.

Out of ammo.

I'm getting tased!
The taser, dude! He's three feet from me!

I'm down.
This is over.

The end.
So... I guess he died? Those boys and their video games. Am I right?

P.S. 5 Funny Things I've Heard Jordan Say
P.P.S. Are you linking up for Runners Tell All on Monday? Get all the details here.

A Currently Coffee Date (Where I Order Tea)


Some scenes from our trip to the zoo on Saturday!
It was giraffe feeding time.

If you and I were meeting for a cup of coffee, I'd say, "Heck no! Coffee is gross. Chai tea for me, please!" Then we'd get our drinks and find a cozy spot where we could have a nice chat, and I'd tell you what's been on my mind lately...

I used to never understand what people meant when they said, "There just aren't enough hours in the day." I always thought that was kind of silly. There are enough hours if we just use them wisely. 

I mean, I prioritize everything I do, so if I don't get something done, it's because I chose to do something else first. I can't blame the fact that I don't have enough time. I need to just be okay with the decisions I made about how I spent my time. Right?

But I think I get it now. Lately I've been feeling like there really aren't enough hours in the day to do everything I either want to do or need to do.

I want to go running and do my arm exercises.
I need to work on freelance editing projects.
I want to write blog posts.
I need to cook dinner.
I want to read books for fun.
I need to go to sleep.
I want to watch TV and crochet.
I need to do the dishes.
I want to hang out with Jordan. 
I need to go to work.
I want to respond to blog comments.
I need to respond to work emails.
I want to read other blogs.
I need to read my Bible. 
(And I want to read it too.)

Each of those things are valid needs and wants that realistically do not all fit into a twenty-four-hour period. And I don't even have a baby or a dog to take care of! Although I do have a husband, which some might say is the same thing. (Just kidding, Jordan!*) 

I also used to wonder why bloggers quit their blog. But I think I get that now too. As my list of needs and wants gets longer and longer, I find that blog-related ones are the easiest to set aside for another day. Most of the time I'm going to choose sleeping over blogging. Running over blogging. Hanging out with Jordan over blogging.

At this point in the conversation, you might set down your cup and eye me suspiciously. "Just where are you going with this?" you might ask.

And I'd say, "Don't worry! I'm not quitting my blog." And you'd say, "That's so good, because if I couldn't read your blog there would be no point in waking up in the morning." Or, you know, something equally as dramatic.

But, I would tell you, I have noticed myself slowing down a bit. I've never been a seven-day-a-week blogger, but I feel like lately I'm slipping into more like a two-day-a-week blogger. I'm not apologizing for it, because it is what it is. But then again, maybe I am apologizing. I do wish I could have more content for you to read lately.

So I guess this is me not apologizing.

After I got that off my chest, I would realize that I've just rambled on for a while, and you haven't gotten to say anything. Then I'd give you the long story short of what's been going on in my life currently.

Listening to the radio on my drives to and from work, and I am annoyed as can be by the insane number of repeated songs. Let's get some variety in here, people! I try to switch stations, but it's the same song again. What is happening? Do people even listen to the radio anymore? How about CDs? Maybe don't answer that.

I need to get another audio book from the library. After The Help, I picked up Lauren Graham's Someday Someday Maybe (narrated by the author) and finished it just last week. It was pretty good!

Reading The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss, the second in his trilogy. You can read my review of book one by clicking here. Basically, these books are good, and you should read them.

Wearing jeans to work EVERY DAY. Hashtag my job is better than yours. Also wearing $80 worth of clothes from my shopping spree at Banana Republic outlet. That store is my budget's kryptonite. 

I mean seriously. Check out this shirt I got last weekend. Originally $60. Got it for $17!
In a word: holler.

Eating all the ice cream. ALL OF IT. I bought a half gallon of Breyer's mint chocolate chip on Sunday, and it's already half gone. It's Tuesday. I don't want to talk about it. Why do people snort crack when a bowl of creamy mint goodness is just a short walk to the kitchen away? One of life's great unanswered questions.

Loving my Saturday morning run with the OKC running group! Is there anything better than watching the sun rise on a morning run? I really think not. Although when my alarm goes off at 5:30 on Saturday, I do wonder what the heck I was thinking.

Anticipating so many awesome things coming up this year. Running a 5k with my mom, my brother's wedding, missions trip, our anniversary, our birthdays, Tough Mudder... Those are just a few. 

I have a sneaky feeling my time is going to get squashed even more. I hope you guys stick around with me for all of it! And just bear with my random posting frequency. I'm way too deep into this blogging thing to quit now.

*But seriously.

What's one thing you're anticipating?
What would you tell me if we met for a coffee date?

[10k Race Recap] Spoiler Alert: I Ran Really Fast


Running marathons messes with your mind.

The moment you start saying things like, "It's only a 10k," do yourself a favor, and punch yourself in the face. Seriously, who says that?

Stupid marathon.

I went into this race (my first of 2014) having zero expectations except the hopeful dream of a PR (personal record, for those of you non-running folk). In my case a PR would be anything better than 56:21, which I clocked during this same race in 2012.

Thanks to the Great Freeze of 2014, I've been running mainly on the treadmill, and when I do run outside, I haven't been taking my Garmin. As I've mentioned multiple times, last year was an intense twelve months of running for me, and I have been greatly enjoying the luxury of basically no schedule at all except that I go when I want to.

That all being said, going into this race I had no idea how fast I should expect to be able to run 6.2 miles. Heck, I'll be honest and tell you that I hadn't run farther than 6 miles since my marathon on December 31. I wasn't all that nervous (it was "just" a 10k, after all), but I did want to at the very least better my time from two years ago.

I was completely alone for this race, hence the pre-race selfie.

I started with the 9-minute/mile group, thinking I could stay with them for sure and have a good chance of a PR. But then the gun went off, and I broke the cardinal rule of running: Don't start too fast. What can I say? It was my first race of the season! I got excited and said to heck with it and sprinted off. (Do not try this at home, people!)

I'm not positive, but I honestly don't think I got passed by more than 2 or 3 people the whole race. I was feeling really good and just kept getting faster and faster, as evidenced by my mile splits. I don't know what came over me.

Mile 1: 8:37
Mile 2: 8:27
Mile 3: 8:21
Mile 4: 7:56
Mile 5: 7:47
Mile 6: 7:36

Around mile 4 is when I really started to feel it, but by that point I was pretty much almost done, so I powered through and kept picking people off one by one. 

Then, around mile 5, the end-of-race shouts started. Have I talked about my shouting yet?

Basically, near the end of a race, when I'm really tired, I yell things. If you happened to be running next to me during a shouting phase, you'd hear a lot of, "LET'S DO THIS!" and "BRING IT HOME!" and "YOU GOT THIS!" I'm very intense. 

When there's a hill, I usually shout something like, "I LOVE HILLS!" This is a lie, obviously, but for some reason I find this encouraging. People are probably staring at the crazy shouting girl, but if I've started shouting then I'm usually just trying not to throw up everywhere, so I don't care what anyone thinks of me.

With the finish line in sight, I started sprinting. I also kept shouting and passing people, because, well, once the shouting starts, I'm unable to control it. 

There was just one guy in front of me, and I decided to pass him before the finish. Except when I came up behind him shouting, "COME ON!" he shouted back, "YEAH LET'S GO! LET'S SPRINT TO THE FINISH!" It kind of startled me, to be honest. I'd never gotten a response before. Then he sped up real fast, and I had to speed up my already fast sprint to keep up. Dying.

So that's how I ended up crossing the finish line almost stride by stride with this guy: 
I love this picture because it looks like I'm flying!
Also, confession: I'm a creepster and looked up that guy on the race results. Dude is 47!
I can only hope I'm still this fast in twenty years.

After we crossed, we high-fived each other, and then I almost keeled over. I saw on my Garmin later that I'd run the last quarter mile at 6:45 pace! Holy speedy. It blows my mind that people run faster than that for an entire marathon.

My official time was 50:20, almost exactly six minutes faster than my time two years before. I finished 8th in my age group and #35 out of 547 females! It really is encouraging to look back and see how much faster I've gotten just with consistent running. I know some runners don't care about time, but I can't lie to you guys. I totally care about the time. No shame.

Even though I've run four times as far before, that does not make this medal any less special. Each race is so different and so fun, and it reminds me all over again what a special community running is and how fantastically awesome it feels to cross that finish line, no matter whether it's 1 mile or 6.2 or 26.2.

Anyone race recently or have any races coming up?
Anyone else shout random crap while they're running, or is it just me?