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Monday, January 20, 2014

Tinkerbell Half Marathon

Some days are good running days while others are not good running days. It is the nature of the beast. This is why a runner trains. You hope to get out those bad runs during training and be at peak performance during your race.

I started training for the Tinkerbell Half Marathon sometime in October. I was excited. BUT, the deeper we got into the holiday season, the harder it became to train. In the month of December I had a whole 7 days off. I was able to get a run in here and there but that was about it. I was able to get up to 7 miles. That was a painful 7 miles. Inconsistency in training aided in that pain. Add a cold on top of that and we've got an interesting road ahead. My cough kept hanging on and I was starting to worry I would have coughing fits during the race.

Mentally and physically I didn't feel prepared for this race. I was nervous. Really nervous.
My friend, Jamie, and I walked to and from the expo to pick up our race packets. When we got there I could feel a blister forming on the bottom of my foot. I was surprised. I was wearing shoes I've worn plenty of times. I didn't walk all that far. By that evening, there were blisters on each foot.

The race started and I stayed with Jamie for the first 2 miles or so. We got separated around the first water station so I was on my own after that. With each step I could feel the blisters getting worse. It is the most uncomfortable feeling!

I was actually on pace for the first 6 or so miles. At mile 7 the large blister on my right foot popped. First of all, that's a really gross feeling. Secondly, it stings! I knew it was only a matter of time before the ones on my left foot popped.

I was really starting to feel the fatigue and muscle pain. I tried doing a walk/run combo. 5 min run, 2 min walk. I really started struggling to finish those 5 minute segments. I walked most of miles 9-13. I didn't care how long it took me to finish. I just wasn't going to give up. During those last 4 miles I was really wishing Jamie was still with me. I needed the encouragement to keep going. There were moments when I started getting frustrated and disappointed with myself. I started to cry but quickly stopped myself. I was going to finish, no matter what.

I ran the last 1/4 mile into the finish line. I wasn't going to walk past the hundreds of people lined up. I was going to run. I was going to dig deep and have a strong finish.

This was , by far, the most difficult race I have ever done. My body was rebelling against me and reminding me that training is a necessary part of a long distance race. I learned that no matter what my body is going through, my mind will not give up. I learned that I can push myself to my very max, mentally and physically, and still reach my goal.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

My "Expertise"... 911

Today's Elf4Health Challenge is "Share your expertise". I thought I would educate everyone on the 911 system. I am continually shocked by the number of people that really don't know how it all works.

I've been a 911 dispatcher for almost 7 1/2 years. This isn't a job I ever pictured myself doing but about 8 years ago my brother gave me a nudge in this direction. I am forever thankful that he was so pushy encouraging.

So here goes... the good, the bad, the how to and the funny...

How it works: 911 is the universal emergency phone number in the North America. Other countries have similar 3 digit emergency numbers. Some even have a different number for each service requested (i,e, ambulance, police, fire. ). I strongly encourage anyone that it traveling to look up the emergency number for place in which you will be traveling. Better to have it and not need it.

When you dial 911, the call goes to your local Police Department. Some agencies have fire and police in the same building while others are separate. The initial Call Taker will transfer the call if necessary or stay on the line and query the caller.

I find it amazing the number of people that call that do not know their location/address or phone number. When dialing 911, take a minute to look around at your location. Here are a few tips:
1) Look for any street signs or highway mile markers
2) Find a piece of mail with address on it. This is very useful if you're at someone else's home etc.
3) Go outside and look at the numbers on the building.
4) Look for land marks that might make the area stick out. A big red barn, stores, businesses etc.
5) Teach your children their address, and your home and cell phone numbers

As a dispatcher, I have to know exactly where you are even when you don't know where you are.

Dispatchers have to ask questions. It is our job. Please don't yell at us or call us bad names. We are doing what we can to help you. When we ask "tell me exactly what happened" please feel free to leave out the part about being naked, just having sex, or anything related to bowel movents. You can save those gems for the folks that show up to help you. ��

There you have it folks, the basics. I love my job and I'm always willing to answer questions about how it all works. I hope someone out there learned something new!


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Elf Boot Camp

This year I am participating in the Elf4Health Challenge again. I had a great time doing it last year and I was so excited to be doing it again. We started 2 weeks ago but since I have been slacking with my blogging... I am sure you can fill in the rest ;).

These two weeks I am going to try my best to blog about my experiences. Yesterday's challenge was a circuit workout. Normally I just find one online and do what it says. I was feeling particularly "elfy" and creative yesterday so I put a little twist on it. I decided to call it "Elf Boot Camp". I don't know if there is any particular requirements for a circuit workout so I just did my best. I made this one up all on my own. I'm not going to lie... I am pretty proud of myself.

I did 3 sets of the workout last night before I started cough. I hope this cold goes away ASAP! I am over it. It is a pretty decent little workout.
 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Labor of Love

"You're Crazy" is something I hear pretty often. Usually followed up by "you're so busy".
I do my best (and usually fail)not to let those statements hurt me or annoy me. My life is my life and no one else really needs to be concerned with my schedule.
I will admit that I sometimes take on a little more than I can handle. I've learned over the years how to juggle my schedule.  I think I am getting pretty good at it!
I am currently working on a fundraiser project that has earned a lot of "you're crazy" comments. I developed "Cookies For A Cure" a number of years ago. It's not an actual business. No business cards or business bank account. It is simply a title to mass cookie making and selling to raise money for something I care about.
I believe in God. I believe He gives each of us talents and we are given a choice on how to use them. Do I believe God has given me the talent of baking? It may sound ridiculous but I truly believe He did. It is a skill I have learned over time and I believe He has placed the desire in my heart to use it for a bigger purpose.
My current "Cookies For A Cure" project is definitely a labor of love. Although 80+ dozen cookies seem overwhelming to others, I find it exciting and humbling. I am thankful I am able to help a deserving family. I spend hours and hours baking, making royal icing, coloring royal icing, thinning the icing, filling the cookies with the icing and waiting for them to dry before I add the details. I absolutely love every moment of that. But the dishes... I don't love the dishes. I simply deal with them as quickly as possible.
Do you have a project that can you consider a labor of love? Surely I cannot be the only "crazy" one out there...



Sunday, June 2, 2013

Rock N Roll San Diego 2013

Today's race marked one year since I ran my first half marathon. I cannot believe it has already been a year! The days leading up to the race have been full of reflection.

We started the morning off with some laughs. When a hummer limo pulled up in front of the hotel just after 5am, Kari says "oh our ride is here". Funny enough... that was our "shuttle" to the start line.


This morning I found myself even more emotional that I was on the day of my first half. It has come full circle and I simply couldn't be more thankful.

Just before the national anthem there was a moment of silence for Boston. Sitting here now, I have tears in my eyes thinking back to April 15th. Terrorists tried to strike fear in our hearts. They tried to take the innocence of our sport away. They didn't. Today 28,000 runners united and ran. Nothing was going to stop us. I proudly wore my "Run 4 Boston" ribbon, "Beat Cancer" ribbon and "Boston Strong" head band.


There was a quiet reassurance before the race today. A large law enforcement presence. Look outs on rooftops and all sorts of dogs and handlers walking around. I was so thankful for that presence today.

About 5 weeks ago I was plagued with shin splints so I backed off on my training. My friend Chris gave me a great recovery plan and pep talk. I am so blessed by the people God has put in my life. My legs felt strong and ready for today. My mind? Not so much.

If anyone tells you running is 100% physical, they are very wrong. You see, there's this little voice in your head that doesn't want to shut up. It wants to tell you how tired your body is after 3 miles, how the twinge you once had in your foot it going to come back, how you "only" ran 9 miles to get ready for this race and that wasn't enough. Around the 3 mile mark, those were the things going through my head. So I did what I normally do... rebuke that inner voice. I tell myself to snap out of it and to keep pushing. I pray and thank God for giving me His strength to run this race. I remember that this is something that I love and I was ready for. That inner voice lost today, as usual.

I checked my watch periodically and knew I was a bit slower than I had wanted to be but I was ok with that. There were a few more hills than I had anticipated. I normally walk hills. Not today. I powered up those hills. I wasn't going to let that little voice back in. I walked way less than I have in the past. I can't run and drink water at the same time so I try to pair the two so I am not taking extra breaks.

My favorite memories from today (in no particular order)

1) A marine running in full gear. Back pack, helmet and all. I made a point to tap him on his shoulder and tell him thank you. I actually saw a lot of runners do that. One lady might have misjudged her shoulder "tap" because it almost looked like she shoved his shoulder. I know she didn't. She was just running fast.
2) A US Navy fire fighter running in full bunker gear (the big heavy turnouts they wear on structure fires), helmet and BA (breathing apparatus they were on structure fires). I also tapped him on the shoulder, high fived him and said thank you.
3) Around mile 9.5-10 I was struggling a little. The race benefits the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. I turned the corned and it was lines with purple banners and white signs. Signs saysing "thank you" or who we are running for etc. One purple sign stood out to me. "Remember why you're running". It was at that moment that I thought about Kayla and all she has been through. At that moment I dug deep and remembered this was yet another celebration run because she continues to be cancer free. I also thought about a fire captain that works for CAL FIRE and my cousin Joshua that have both been diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphona. It was for them that I ran. It is for them (and me) that I will continue to run.
4) I love seeing people on their porches, coffee cup in hand, cheering for all of the runners. They don't have to. They could sit inside with the TV turned up and be angry that their street is occupied for half of a day. There were people on every.single.street. Amazing.
5) I am a runner. I am still shocked by this. I am even more shocked that the farther I ran, the better and stronger I felt. I wonder if I all of that will every fully sink in!
6) Seeing Jimmy, Jessica, Justen, Alissa, Ali, Preston, Asher and Ansel screaming and cheering my name as I ran toward the finish line.
7) Running a major race with Michelle. She asked me if I wanted to do a 5K with her and Preston back in 2011. I have loved being on this running journey with her. We have different goals, training styles, paces etc but she "gets" me when it comes to running,among other things. 
8) Ali was here!
9) Free Jamba Juice at the fnish line. It was the bestest smoothie I've ever had!
10) Finishing my 4th Half Marathon in 1 year.
11) Being there to witness Veronica's first half marathon and Kari's second full marathon
12) Petting the black lab puppy after I picked up my gear :)
13) The enormous amount of support from my family and friends. You are all priceless
14) Riding to the start line in a hummer limo
15) Inspiring my brother Jimmy to start running. Who knew a baby sister could do such a thing?

I ran this race 12 minutes, 35 seconds faster than I did last year. My time was 2:32:34.
It was not my fastest half marathon (2:28:50 in Feb) but I am ok with it. I thought I would be disappointed but I'm really not. The course in Feb was completely flat. This one... was not. I think being only 3 min 44 sec slower than my fastest time while running hills is pretty darn good. I am proud of myself. It will just keep getting better from here!


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Street Preaching

Something really bugs me every time we go to an Anaheim Ducks game. There are always people out front with signs and bull horns preaching. I've also seen this at most of the races I've run in.

I am a Christian. I love God and Jesus with everything in me. I *hope* I show God's love in everything I do. I am not even close to being perfect. I am, however, honest about my faith. People who know me, know I have a relationship with the Lord and that it comes first in my life.

All that being said, there is something about street preachers that really bothers me. Perhaps its the signs that say " God punishes sin" on one side then "Jesus loves you" on the other. To me this sends a mixed message. You're telling people that God is going to punish them while in the next breath you're telling them that Jesus loves them.

Are there consequences for sin? Yes.
Does Jesus love you? Yes.
Does God want people to be alcoholics, druggies, liars, adulterers, greedy, etc? No.
Does God still love you despite those sins/imperfections? Yes.

I've never been an "in your face" kind of person or Christian so the bull horns and giant signs are a big turn off for me.

I understand their intentions. Especially at sporting events because there are thousands of people in a concentrated area so you can, potentially, reach more people in a short amount of time. I get it. You want to see people come to Christ and serve a mighty God. Do you really feel yelling at them is the right tactic?

The other night Jared and I were waiting in the security line at the Honda Center and one of the street preachers was arguing with people in line. Arguing. Not exactly the way to "win" someone over for the Lord. Neither of us disagreed with what the man was saying but we definitely disagreed with how he was saying it. He wasn't the first one I've seen acting this way. He won't be the last.

You can be passionate. You can be excited and bold and honest. Jesus was a patient teacher. He loved people. He loved through His words, His actions, His life and His death. How many times did Jesus take simple things like a mustard seed and turn it into a story. Jesus sat amongst the people and talked with them. Jesus loved the unlovable. I wish those with the bull horns focused more on the love of God than on the wrath. There is so much negative, anger, hurt, fear in this world. Why make God look like this angry God that just wants to punish people. Have you forgotten that sin breaks God's heart? Have you forgotten that God is merciful and loving? We are His babies. He wants to hold us close and calm our fears. He wants to give us an abundant life. Offer hope to people out in the world, not more fear. Think before you preach.

Monday, May 6, 2013

I Made Salsa!

Have you ever had a recipe looming in the distance? One you've wanted to make but you're just a weeeeeeee bit intimidated by it? No? Ok, I have issues...

We had a salsa contest at work for Cinco De Mayo. I love me some mexican food so I was all in. Here's the recipe I made. I took ideas from a couple recipes I found online and added my own little twists to it. Enjoy! Make it a day ahead so the flavors really jive together. It is WAY easier than it sounds. Don't let the multiple step deter you.

Shannon's Salsa:

8-12 Roma Tomatoes
1 medium white onion
2 Pasilla Peppers
1 Yellow Chile
1 Jalapeno Pepper
4 Cloves Garlic
1/4 C Cilantro
1/4 Apple Cider Vinegar
Juice of 2 limes
2 tsp Ground Cumin
3 tsp Dried Oregano
Ground pepper
salt

1) Preheat the oven to 450
2) Cut off the top of the tomato and slice in half length wise
3) Peel and cut onion into quarters
4) Peel garlic
5) Place tomatoes (cut side down) on a baking sheet (One that has a rim around the edge)
6) Please peppers, onion, garlic on the baking sheet with the tomatoes
7) Roast in oven about 30 minutes or until skins of peppers and tomatoes get some black spots and start to bubble a little.
8) Remove from oven and place another cookie sheet over the vegetables for about 10 minutes.
9) Remove skins from the peppers. Now is a good time to remove the seeds if you don't want hot salsa. The more seeds you have, the hotter it will be.
10) Place tomatoes (with skins) in a food processor and puree them to your desired consistency, pour into a bowl
11) Add Oregano, cumin, onions, cilantro, peppers, garlic to the food processor and puree to desired consistency. Add to the tomatoes and stir together.
12) Add lime juice and vinegar and stir until well combined
13) add salt and pepper to taste (about 1 tsp of each)
14) allow to chill over night.

It has a sweet side to it and a tiny little kick at the end. I don't like really hot salsa so this is perfect for me. I don't think anyone "won" the contest so I will just give myself 1st Place (just kidding... kind of). Enjoy!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Ragnar Relay, My Team

My favorite part of Ragnar?

Our team.

Abby, Katie, Melissa and I have known eachother since High School. We've shared our running and weight loss journies for a while now but this was the first race we've all done together. It was the perfect opportunity for a reunion.

Jamie I knew from work and Ramon I knew from mutual friends.

Ron, Jill, Heather, Chris, Catie, Ahman were all new friends.

The dynamic of this team couldn't have been more perfect. I cannot put into words how much fun it was to experience Ragnar with these people. We took care of each other during every leg of the race, cheered for every runner, made jokes and goofed off.

You'd think after so many hours together, little to no sleep and tight quarters; someone would get snippy. No one did. Not even once.

Every time Van 2 caught up with Van 1 at an exchange it felt like a family reunion. It was usually only a few hours between major exchanges but we were always so excited to meet up.

Running into the finish line with them was incredible. Over a course of 48 hours, they became more than friends. They are now family. It has been a week and I miss them. I am ready to pile into a van and run along side them again.

SDC-FEST... thank you for making this one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Thank you for taking care of me on the course and encouraging me when I wasn't happy with my performance. You hold a very special place in my heart.

Ragnar Relay, Run #2 & #3

I forgot to mention during the first leg of my race (5.4 miles in the heat) I was having technical difficulties withmy iPhone and the music I had planned for that leg of the race. It played the same song over and over. For 5.4 miles. Not annoying at all.

Second leg of the race was at night. Approx 230AM or so. It was a beautiful night. I had a short race of 3.8 miles. My teammates didn't have to stop. They could've gone straight to the next exchange. Much to my surprise, they pulled over just in front of me. ALL of them cheering for me as I powered up a hill. These people are amazing.

I killed that leg of the race. My fastest pace and fastest 5K time ever.

When we were done we headed to Torrey Pines to get some rest. We sprawled out in various parts of the van and "slept". Abby and I couldn't sleep so we were texting back and forth, planning the next portion of the day.

My stomach was not happy for the entire morning on Friday. I was extremely nervous about my final run of the day. It would be the longest and most difficult. 7.4 miles in the middle of the afternoon. It included a lot of turns, a steep hill and my team wouldn't be able to stop for me. Not to mention only having about 30 minutes of sleep in 36 hours. It was all part of the Ragnar fun though.

About 3 miles into the race I passed an adorable black and white puppy. I HAD to stop and pet her. I actually wanted to take her with me but I have a feeling her owner would've said no. I texted Abby when I was half way and I was right on pace. Then I got to Newport Ave.

I didn't see a sign to turn so I started up the hill. I could see another runner in front of me so I thought I was good. Until I got to the top. Here came that other runner. "This isn't right way" she said. Great. Anyone who knows me knows I am slightly directionally challenged. Long story short, I found the right hill. I ended up doing 8.6 miles instead of 7.4 miles. At the start of the second hill (the correct one) I met a woman named Linda. She wasn't sure she could make it so I told her we would do it together. We made it to the top and took a picture together. I remember thinking "this is what racing is about". Her teammate handed me a gatorade then I was off to finish the rest of the race. Later I handed another runner the rest of that gatorade when his legs started to cramp. I stayed by him and his teammate for the remaining mile and a half.

After I handed off to Abby, we headed for the finish line. The entire team met up so we could run into the finish line together. We wore Boston FD t-shirts to honor the first responders in Boston and pay tribute to everyone effected by the bombings. The finish line was emotional. I know Abby got choked up. I did as well. I am sure others did. We accomplished so much more than running a race. We pushed ourselves physically and emotionally. We stood for Boston and against terrorism. We survived Ragnar.



Monday, April 22, 2013

Ragnar Relay 2013, Run #1

I haven't blogged in nearly 3 months. Life has been good. Busy, mostly.

I am sure friends on Facebook got really sick of my posts about Ragnar. Oh well! Most people were probably thinking "What is Ragnar". So here you go:

Over a course of 2 days and 1 night, a team of runners run close to 200 miles between Huntington Beach, Ca to San Diego, Ca. The teams are either 12 person "Regular" teams or 6 person "Ultra" teams. The race is broken up by "legs" aka portions of the race. Each runner does 3 legs of the race.
For example, my team was a 12 person regular team. I was Runner 11. I ran legs 11, 23 and 35. Clear as mud? Good.

We, The San Diego County Firefighters Endurance Sports Team (SDCFEST), had 2 teams. A 12 person Regular team and an Ultra Team.

Our Team:
Runer #1 Ron
Runner #2: Jamie
Runner #3: Heather
Runner #4: Jill
Runner #5: Catie
Runner #6: Ahman
Runer #7: Chris
Runner #8: Melissa
Runner #9: Ramon
Runner #10: Katie
Runner #11: Me
Rummer #12: Abby (Team Capatin)

Thursday we picked up our vans and headed to J's house to decorate them. He was the captain of the Ultra team.

Our team was broken up into 2 vans. Van #1 had runners 1-6 and Van #2 (my van) had runners 7-12.
Poor Van #1 had to leave San Diego at 2am to be at the start line by 4:15. Van #2  left San Diego about 5:30am and got to our starting point about 8am.

I didn't start my first leg/ run until about 2pm. I was running along Temescal Canyon Road in Riverside. It was about 88-90 degrees outside. There was very little shade along my 5.4 mile route. It was very hot and dry. The course itself was mostly uphill. I was struggling. I've done 5 mile runs more times than I can count but this one was so different. Even running hills on a regular basis, this one was different. Our team vans were able to stop along some of the route so they could support their runner. My team stopped a couple of times but I was still doing ok. When I first started  running I had a guy behind me and I was determined to stay ahead of him. When you pass another runner and they stay behind you it is called " road kill". He was my one and only kill for that leg. He'd get close and I'd pick up my pace. I finally told him " I'm not letting you pass me". He laughed and told me it was ok because I was pacing him (helping him keep a steady pace). We talked a little, joked around. We finally hit a small shady spot under a freeway. I walked that portion to savor the cooler temp. Thanks to my job I am aware of symptoms for heat stroke, heat exhaustion etc. I got a quick chill just before the shady spot so I capitalized on the other teams' offer for water or gatorade. It helped and I continued on. I had water and energy gels with me but I knew my body needed sodium.  The last 1/2 mile or so was the hardest. I was really hot and the hills zapped my energy. I could see my stopping point at the top of the hill. I took a deep breath and dug deep. About the time I wanted to quit, a lady came up behind me, wrapped her arm around my shoulder and said "Let's kill this bitch. We've got this". I laughed. We powered up that hill and I handed off to our team Captain, Abby.

I was disappointed with my run. My mile pace has been in the mid 10's and sometimes dropping below 10 min/mile. For this leg I had an average of 12:40/mile. I cried once I got back in the van.
1) I completed a very difficult run that I never thought I could do.
2) I was really doing the Ragnar race
3) I felt like I let my entire team down because my pace was SO much slower than it should've been. I wanted to do better.

My amazing friend, Michelle, sent me many encouraging texts right after that leg of the race. I cried harder but my heart wasn't as heavy. Sometimes I need to remember that I don't have to be perfect. I don't have to have the fastest pace of my life. I simply need to give my all and leave it on the pavement. I absolutely did that on Friday afternoon.

Once Abby was done, van #1 was back on the course and we were off for a few hours. We grabbed dinner at IHOP, changed and headed to our next meet up spot. Lawrence Welk Resort was packed full of people waiting for their runners and/or their other van.

Friday was so much fun! We screamed, cheered, shook a cow bell and honked the horn for as many runners as we could. One guy was powering up a hill so we were cheering for him. Another team had a miser and sort of put mist on him. A second later he looked at all of us like we were absolutely crazy. Soon there after we realized he wasn't wearing a race bib. He was just some guy out running. haha oops!

 We blasted music and joked about anything and everything. We supported each other. We asked each person "what do you need when you get to the exchange" and we had those items waiting for our runner when they arrived.

I talked to random people at the exchanges. Weather, courses, life, running... we talked about everything then went on our merry way to the next portion of the race, never to see eachother again.

Friday night we arrived at Lawrence Welk Resort to wait for Van #1 to finish. We attempted to get some sleep but it was just too loud. Sleepy conversations and a giggle fest broke out in the van. Everything and nothing was funny. I was so tired, I don't even remember what we talked about. Soon we were off on our second portion of the race.