3.28.2011

Rock 'n Roll 1/2 Marathon

It is finished. :) I ran 13.1 miles, and crossed the finish line alive!

The first 10 miles of the race weren't too bad. I ran with my sister, with one potty break. The last 3 miles were a bit difficult. I had to walk off and on the last 3. I started to get some foot cramps in both of my feet. But with a little bit of walking, and a lot of praying, I finished those last 3 miles.

My sister is a rock star. This race didn't phase her a bit. Honestly, training for this race didn't even phase her. She would always ask me how I was doing, if I needed anything, and was even so kind to clean the Gu off my leg, that was splashed onto me by another runner during the race. :)

The million dollar question: will I run another one? The answer: I don't think so. I am not 100% sure the answer is no. I actually had fun on Sunday, but I think I would like to stick to races that are 8 miles or less. :)

Thank you to everyone who encouraged me along the way. Each one of you & your kind words and prayers helped me achieve this goal.

Thank you to Mary, Jacqueline, and Todd (Mary's boyfriend), who came out on Sunday to cheer us on in 3 different places along the race route. They were there with posters, with water, and with a lot of love. It was COLD. It was rainy. Jacqueline is PREGNANT! I hadn't even met Todd before. And they all came out to cheer us on. I am blessed to have incredible friends.

Thank you to my mom & dad. It is because of both of you that I am who I am today. It is because of you that I even have the desire to make goals in my life, and work toward achieving them. It is because of you that I was able to run this race with my sister. You are both incredible parents, and I am so blessed.

Thank you to Rodney, Parker, and Preston for being at the finish line, cheering us on. You are all troopers, fighting the traffic, the terrible weather, and still having enthusiasm at the finish line! You guys are the greatest, and you make my sister SO HAPPY. Which in turn, makes me SO HAPPY.

Thank you to Scott & Jackson who were also at the finish line, cheering us on. Especially, thank you for allowing me the time over these last 3 months to train for this race. Scott, you are so encouraging to me. Every time I'd head out for a run, you told me how proud of me you were. You told me that I could do it. That I didn't need to worry. That I would be just fine. You even rubbed my feet when they were sore from my long runs, and the night before my race! Now that is true love! (They were clean feet...don't be too grossed out!) Thank you for everything, love. I love you!

Last, and certainly not least, thank you to my SEESTER! I would have never done this without her. She was the reason I got excited for my long runs on Sundays. She was always so patient with me when my slow self would slow us down. She would tell me I did a great job, even if I had a poor run. She looked out for me, loved me, and encouraged me. And she was the best coach/cheerleader/running partner I've ever had. I am so thankful I was able to do this with her. Thank you, Angie. I love you, and I am SO BLESSED that you are my sister! I can't wait to run our next race together again. Maybe just a 10k this time?! :)

3.22.2011

Fenugreek memory

As I was finishing up my run tonight, I passed what must have been a maple tree. Or maybe it wasn't, and I just got a whiff of a strong maple smell. Either way, I inhaled a very distinct odor which instantly brought forth memories of Jackson as an infant. While I was breast feeding Jackson, I did not produce enough milk on my own. My doctor suggested I try taking an herbal supplement called Fenugreek, which is said to help increase milk production. So off to the store I go, to pick up a bottle. I took this supplement for about a month straight, and did not notice a whole lot of improvement, so I'm not sure if it works or not. What I do know, is that when you take this stuff, your body smells like maple syrup. I am not even joking. I am pretty sure that when I passed people in the halls at work, they were wondering where the pancakes were. Maple syrup is tasty and all, but one does not want to smell like it at all times. :)

Aren't memories funny? If it weren't for the smell, I wouldn't have thought about that time in Jackson's life today. I am thankful for that memory, and I am thankful for running by that smell (especially now that I don't actually produce it!) And now, I want to have another baby! :) (Scott-if you're reading this...don't freak out.)

1/2 Marathon Training - Week 11

We are almost there!!! 5 days and counting!

The weather has been beautiful lately, and I have enjoyed running outdoors. However, I am praying that the sun holds back a bit on Sunday morning, because it just beats me up when it's out in full force. Cloudy is the way to go...so hopefully that's the case. Either way, we're doing it. We're running 13.1 miles on Sunday. Angie is awesome, and I know she is going to have zero problems. I am praying and praying and praying that it goes as well for me. I just need to focus on having FUN, enjoying the atmosphere, and not worrying about how many miles I've already run, how many are left, etc.

Our long run on Sunday was great, and the best one I've had yet. I feel encouraged. I am excited to see my friends and family on the sidelines cheering me on. What a blessing it is to have loved ones take time out of their schedules to come support me and my sister. I am so thankful. I know it will be the encouragement I need to keep going.

I will end w/ a few quotes I've kept above my computer at work during the last 3 months of training. I read them daily. They motivate and encourage me to keep going.
"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start." - John Bingham, Running speaker and writer
"If we all did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves." - Thomas Edison

3.20.2011

DEE-LICIOUS!

My sister bought me a new cookbook for Christmas. Ever since, I've enjoyed trying tons of new recipes. There is one in particular that I've made a couple of times, and it is DELICIOUS! Even Scott and Jackson are fans, and there is a GREEN vegetable in it! :) I cooked it again tonight, and decided I should share. Do not be intimidated by the long-ish list of ingredients. This is a pretty simple recipe, and it takes about 20 to 25 minutes until it is on the table, ready to eat.

CHICKEN RICE DISH (Really creative title, eh?)

Ingredients:
2 cups water
2 cups cut fresh asparagus (1-inch diagonal pieces)
1 package (6 ounces) long grain and wild rice mix
1/4 cup reduced-fat butter, divided (I use regular butter, b/c i don't want to buy both kinds...I imagine it tastes even better this way. But if you're seriously watching calories...go for the reduced-fat, and let me know how it tastes)
1 pound chicken breasts or tenders, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 medium carrot, shredded
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel, optional (I do not add the lemon peel)

1. In a large saucepan, combine the water, asparagus, rice mix w/ seasoning packet, and 2 tbsp butter. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the water is absorbed.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute the chicken, garlic, and salt in remaining butter until the chicken juices run clear (a.k.a until the chicken is cooked through). Add the carrot, lemon juice, and lemon peel if desired; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until heated through. Stir into rice mixture.

Yield: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts: 1-1/4 cups serving equals: 247 calories, 7 g fat, 54 mg cholesterol, 668 mg sodium, 29 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 20 g protein.

3.19.2011

Grateful

Today was a very special day for me. My mom and sister put their heads together and decided to spoil me for a day. My mom made an appointment & pre-paid for me to get a pedicure. She also asked me to bring Jackson over so she could watch him while I was getting pampered. That was a nice treat for Scott as well, because he was able to sleep in today.

So this morning, I dropped Jackson off at my mom's house around 9 am. I headed to get a pedicure, and enjoyed a nice 45 minutes of relaxation. It was SUCH a nice treat, and I am so thankful and blessed to have a mother who is so thoughtful and giving. What an amazing surprise!

My mom & sister headed over to Grapevine Mills Mall while I was getting pampered. They took the 3 boys on train rides and carousel rides, and ended up at the Rainforest Cafe. When I got finished with my pedicure, I headed to the mall to join them. My sister was sooo generous to treat us all to lunch. Jackson had a great time with Aunt G, Nanna (which he calls Neena), Parker & Preston. And I had a wonderful day, feeling special, and so very loved by these two incredible women.

My sister and my mother are two of the most giving people I know. My sister is honestly the greatest big sister anyone could ever have. She is always looking after me, taking care of me, helping me with this or that, and making me feel so very special. I love you, Angie! My mother is the most selfless woman I know. She is always quick to offer her help when she sees that I'm under stress or have a lot going on. She knows just what to do, and just when to do it.
Mom, thank you for the pedicure today! It was the perfect timing for some "me" time, and the best gift and surprise. I love you!

Here are a few pictures from our fun times at Rainforest Cafe:

Jackson loves his Aunt G

Trying to take a picture ourselves...this was the best I could get

2 seconds before I took this picture, Jackson was right next to Nanna, kneeling down exactly like she is...they were checking out the gorillas making noise. It was precious, and I'm so sad I missed the shot!

My adorable nephews
Parker on the left, Preston on the right

Cool dude

We love the park!

The weather has been beautiful lately, and we are definitely taking advantage of it. We have a little park right down the road from us in our neighborhood, and we visit about 5 times a week. Jackson loves being outdoors, and having a good time at the park.

One happy boy :)


As he slides down, he yells "backwards, backwards!"

A bouncin' good time!

A few weekends ago we went to the Dallas Family Expo. They had several local vendors with booths, some animals visiting from the Dallas Zoo, and Jackson's favorite: bounce houses. Here are a few pictures and a video from our fun time.



3.15.2011

1/2 Marathon Training - Week 10

My sister and I ran our long run around Andy Brown East & West this week. 10 miles of beautiful weather, people watching, and pretty scenery. Much MUCH better than running on the streets to the rhythm of tires on pavement. I did forget my music this week, as well as my stopwatch, and my GU chews that I had planned on trying out around mile 6. I thought it would be awful w/o music, but there was something nice about not carrying a million items, and not being plugged into constant noise. It was just my sister, the fresh air, and our two feet (well I guess four if you count both of us) carrying us along.

2 more weeks until the big race!

3.11.2011

Daily Devotional 03.10.11

My daily devotional yesterday really hit home. Especially the part where she talks about distinguishing want from need. I thought I'd share. :)
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"If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23
This verse stings like a slap in the face to our "immediate gratification society." Lent can be a large pill to swallow with a dry mouth for those of us who have grown accustomed to indulging our whims and seeking our own satisfaction.
Lent may be a difficult season, but like any challenge, it can also be the most worthwhile. We could all benefit from pausing long enough to distinguish between want and need. As we grow more comfortable sitting quietly in our longing without indulging it, we build spiritual character. We are able, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to learn how to deny ourselves. We can transform our weakness into something worthwhile. Our impatience can become steadfast endurance. Our gluttony can grow into gratitude. Our immediacy can be tempered by eternity. We can build strength over these forty days. We can heft the load of our cross onto our shoulders and carry on.
-Kristin Armstrong

3.08.2011

See ya later sugar!

We, here in the Echols household, are giving up sweets for Lent. We have an unhealthy obsession for anything containing sugar. Cookies, brownies, ICE CREAM, candy, chocolate sauce, you name it. Tonight, for our last hoorah, I am baking a chocolate butter roll. For those of you that haven't heard of it, it is a two-crust pie with the most delicious chocolate filling. We are going out with a bang.

Do not be surprised if, 1. we un-intentionally lose weight over the next 40 days, or 2. we are cranky pants until we get through our sugar detox. :)

3.07.2011

1/2 Marathon Training - Week 9

Long runs are getting hard. 9 miles yesterday. I made it 6 before I felt super thirsty (not quite dehydrated), my legs started hurting, and my mind went all sorts of negative places. The last 3 miles were tough.

I can do this. I know I can do this. It's just getting harder the farther we run. I'm not trying to be the best runner, and I'm not even really shooting for a specific time to run the race in. I just want to finish. Preferably, I'd like to run the whole race w/o stopping, but we'll see how it goes on race day. :)

3 more weeks until the race! I'm excited, nervous, and a little bummed by the way my long runs have gone lately. It's okay though...I know that I'm doing something I've always wanted to do. I know that it is stretching me and pushing my body to it's limits. These are all great things. And best of all, I know that I will be praying every mile of this race, and that God will be with me through it all. He will carry me through to the finish line. I definitely cannot do it without Him!

3.01.2011

1/2 Marathon Training - Week 8

It was suppose to thunderstorm on Sunday, the day of our long run. As my sister was dropping off our water along our route, it started sprinkling. Knowing that the forecast was calling for a thunderstorm, and that rain was beginning to come down, we decided to run our 8 miles indoors on a treadmill. Boo-hiss. It was hot inside the gym. We saw 3, I counted, 3 of the same infomercial on Cindy Crawford's new facial line. Cindy Crawford is gorgeous. Also, did you know that cantaloupes produce some sort of anti-aging collagen gel? Well now you do, and so do I. I learned it 3 times in a row. :) My sister looked over at me during our run, and said "You know you've been running too long when you've seen the same informercial 3 times." Ha.

Sunday was not a great day. I had some serious doubt creep into my head for the first time since I've been training. 8 miles is difficult. We have 5 more to go on top of that to complete this race. When I say difficult, I don't even mean that my legs are killing me, or that I'm struggling for air. I'm bored, and tired of running. My mind is telling me "just stop and walk", but my body is fully capable of continuing on. It's strange, and such a head-game. I need to pray through this, and get my head right so I can keep on keepin' on!

On a related note, today's Groupon daily deal is for RunOn! $25 for $50 worth of shoes/running apparel. I'll definitely be getting one of these!