Friday, December 30, 2011

2012 To Do List ...

I am goal-oriented. When I decide that I want to do something, I find a way to make it happen. Yes, there are roadblocks at times. And yes, sometimes my timelines don't work out. But, it is extremely rare for me to set out to do something and NEVER accomplish it. I'm just not a quitter. It's not in my nature.

With that said, I am not feeling 100% focused right now. I feel like other than knowing that I will finish my first 70.3, the rest of the things that I'd like to tackle are kind of vague. Or maybe I'm just not sure what steps I need to take to get there. Either way, I've decided to approach my goals a little differently than I have in the past. More of a to do list. Something that I can add and subtract to as my vision changes.

So, as of today, December 30th, here is my 2012 To Do List:

  • Take 70.3 training day by day. Don't get caught up in what is coming, but rather focus on what is. Trust that it will get you where you want to be.
  • Find the strength to NOT add races to your schedule during 70.3 training. That is your focus, don't screw with that because of FOMO (fear of missing out).
  • Cross the finish line of your first 70.3 in less than 6:57:59.
  • Maintain at least one day of cycling and one day of swimming per week, post 70.3. Give J some proof that a new road bike would be a good investment.
  • Run 1,500 miles.
  • Race a 10K with a finish time much faster than your very dated current PR of 53:17.
  • Set a new PR in the Half Marathon, currently 1:57:06 (or 1:56:18, if the half split from the NYC Marathon counts).
  • Race a Fall Sprint Triathlon. Actually train for the event, unlike in years past.
  • Eat like an athlete. Be mindful of the nutritional value of your food.
  • Consume no more than 18 desserts from either Shyndigz or Two Sweet Cupcakes (approximately 1 dessert/3 weeks)
  • Cut out snacking on the girl's leftovers. Just because they don't eat it, doesn't mean you have to.
  • Only say yes to the projects you REALLY want to work on.
  • Throw away the credit cards. Stop repeating history.
  • Ignore your impulses. Take time to process the true value of the things you are filling your space/life with.
  • Declutter and Organize using this calendar.
  • Continue to balance family life, training and now, work.
  • Prioritize and be a good example for the people in your life.
  • Help and support J and the kids in reaching their goals. We are a team and that must always be the primary focus of our lives.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Three Things Thursday ...

70.3 Training - Despite my early hesitations about the swim portion of my half Ironman training, things have been far from a total fail. Sure, I really don't know anything about the sport (including that you should be fitted for goggles, who knew?), but I am finishing my workouts, swimming only freestyle (huge, since I swam breaststroke in all of my previous triathlons) and on Saturday, I have my longest swim to date - 1300 meters. And in case you didn't know, that's like a super big deal.

Looking Ahead - I've made it clear that Ironman 70.3 Texas is my #1 goal for 2012. But the thing is, the race is on April 1st, leaving the last nine months of 2012 wide open. For some people, this might be an OK thing, but I don't really work well with a lack of structure. So, I am looking for suggestions (and don't say Ironman). How are you going to challenge yourself in 2012? What do you think I should attempt?

Tough Chik - As you probably know by now, I am part of Team Tough Chik for 2012 (registration is open for 9 more days if you want to join us). But, what few people know is that I am now working for Tough Chik as well. A few weeks back, I pitched the idea of putting together an East Coast expo schedule with myself as East Coast Event Manager (like that title? I've had no objections so I'm going with it.) Fortunately, Shannon, the original Tough Chik, had been considering expanding the company's reach and she agreed to my proposal.

Let me tell you, I could not be more excited. Our first event will be the Shamrock Marathon, Half Marathon and 8K in Virginia Beach in March. So, if you're racing it or are in the area, be sure to come and see us.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 Year in Review ...

OK, I'm just going to say it 2011 was kind of epic for me. Like total awesomesauce. And honestly, I am kind of concerned that 2012 is going to have a hard time competing. I mean, how do you top your most fabulous year yet? It could be really hard.

Oh wait, I know, turn 30 and rock out your first 70.3.

But first, let's rehash 2011. In the past 12 months ...
And those are just the highlights. So, what do you have for me 2012?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Our Disney Christmas 2011 ...

J and I have started the tradition of taking our children on vacation in lieu of gifts on Christmas morning. Thanks to a canceled flight to San Diego, we ended up at Walt Disney World for the second year in a row. And although it wasn't our original plan, it couldn't have been more perfect. Here's the good, bad and ugly of our Disney Christmas 2011 ...

The Good:

Disney Rocks: I'm not quite sure if you've caught on yet, but we are kind of Disney obsessed in this house. The girls love it, J REALLY loves it and I have to admit, even I get all excited by the sight of Cinderella's castle.

Since March 2010, J, Dizzle and I have each visited the most magical place on Earth four times and this vacation marked Doodle and Dilly's third visit. In fact, we love it so much that we finally sucked it up and purchased annual passes. And our next trip is already on the books for February. (I'm running the Disney Princess Half Marathon.)

Bonus: Now we have the perfect excuse to race every runDisney event.

The Weather: Can you say perfect? 80 degrees and sunny. EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.

My Princesses: The girls could not have been better behaved on this trip. They rolled with the punches, sprinted through the parks like champs and smiled the entire time. If they behaved that way all the time, they'd get anything and everything that they ever wanted.

Family Bonding: Since Dilly is now over 40" tall, she can go on pretty much everything. And since we don't really give our children a choice (if you are tall enough for the ride, you must go on), this was the first trip that we got to stick together the entire time. It was so awesome to do everything with our kids and not have to split into two groups (riders and non-riders).

Plus, it was pretty epic to take a two year old on Tower of Terror, Big Thunder Mountain and Dinosaur.

The Food: I already knew from our past trips that the food at Walt Disney World is delicious and um, calorie dense. We ate well (and by well, I mean we binged) all week long. And I loved every glorious minute. Especially those two chocolate dipped, candy coated rice crispies treats and the Ghiradelli Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. Delicious.

The Characters: For the first time, we waited in line (or snagged a fast pass) to meet the Disney Characters. The girls loved it. Dilly danced with Phineas and Ferb (her favorite part of the trip) and they were all struck with awe by meeting the princesses.

As for J and me, our favorite character was Prince Eric. Talk about hilarious. Trust me, if you are going to wait in line to meet one character make it Ariel and Prince Eric. It will be well worth your time.

Having a Plan: The thing about the Disney Parks is that unless you are visiting on a non-peak week, you need to have a plan to navigate successfully. Knowing how you are going to attack the park can mean the difference between hitting every attraction (without waiting in crazy long lines) and missing everything and waiting two hours for Toy Story.

We executed perfectly. Despite insane crowds, we hit every attraction at the four parks in our first five days. Sure, we had to get there before the parks opened to beat the crowds, but we rode rides 2 or 3 times while we watched people wait for HOURS to just get on once. We kind of crushed it.

Happiest Place on Earth: Seriously, Disney is the Happiest Place on Earth. We had the best time ever ...

The Bad:

Tired Feet: We spent 11-13 hours at the parks each day, which left all five of us we really tired feet (we didn't have a stroller with us). Every night, I was convinced I wouldn't be able to walk the next morning, but somehow, we kept at it.

The Crowds: We knew that we were visiting during one of the busiest weeks of the year, but I don't think we really knew how busy it was going to be. My advice, visit in September when the parks are nearly empty.

The Ugly:

Oddities: The crazy people at the gym. Still can't quite figure out what was going on with them.

Nutrition Fail: Remember that food I was raving about? Well, all that indulging didn't come without a price. The scale isn't my friend right now.

Monday, December 26, 2011

resort gym oddities ...

During our fantastic trip to Disney (which I will recap tomorrow), I was given the honor of using our resort's state of the art fitness facility (Note: By "state of the art" I mean that at some point in time it was state of the art. Like in 1982.)

When I first walked in I was psyched. The place was totally empty. I looked around.

Hmm. No bathroom?

OK, I'll just have to hold it.

TVs? Check.

Wait, why are the TVs positioned BEHIND the front of the treadmill? (As in you had to look over your shoulder to see them)

Views? Kind of.

I mean, I could almost see the pool through the blinds, which were broken and couldn't be opened, making for dizzying effects while running.

Equipment? Check.

Two treadmills, two recumbent bikes, two stepclimbers, an elliptical and some weights. Perfect, I have to run and ride. I mean, really, who cares that there were no displays and the buttons were limited to start, stop, faster and slower. And I mean, who needs a functioning incline? Not this girl.

Joking aside, and I'm only kind of joking, the oddest thing about the place were the people I encountered while getting my sweat on.

During my first run, a group of five men with ages ranging from mid-20's to late 40's crashed my quiet gym for an evening workout. Except they were obviously drunk, not wearing workout clothes and just trying to prove their manhood to each other. They held some sort of weight lifting competition and fumbled on the cardio equipment. I was confident that someone was leaving in an ambulance. Fortunately, after about 20 minutes they had enough of the gym and left.

The next day, while riding the bike, a man in his 30's joined me for my workout. Things started off well. I pedaled. He lifted. But then, about 10 minutes into his workout, he noticed the television which I had tuned to my workout standard, NCIS. Apparently, the show was so enthralling that the man never returned to his workout. He just sat on the lat machine staring at the television and texting on his phone. When the episode ended, he got up and left.

The last time I used the gym, I was about two miles into my run when four people came to workout - three teenage girls wearing Uggs (they used the weights and elliptical) and a man in his late 30's/early 40's, who jumped on the treadmill next to me.

When the girls entered, they barely noticed I was there, but the man gave me the "once over" and the eye roll, a typical male response to my skirt and sock combo. I kind of wanted to punch him in the face and say, "I run freaking marathons, sometimes two in one week. My 5K PR is 22:04 and I know my sh*t."

But I didn't. I just turned back to the nausea inducing window and kept running. A few minutes later, he started running next to me. Then, he must have realized the pace I was running, because he picked it up to "catch" me. But, the thing was that I was in the middle of a progression run. So, every half mile, I was picking it up too.

He tried to keep pace. And then it happened. He bumped it up too fast and he nearly wiped out. It was freaking awesome. I kind of chuckled and finished my run. He slowed the pace and stopped trying to prove something.

Let this be a lesson to you all, don't let the skirt fool you.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Ahnu Boots Winner ...

Thanks to, one lucky reader will win a sweet pair of Ahnu Monte Vista boots this morning.Kind of hope it's you, right?

Well, it might just be - if you happen to be the number that spit out at me. And that number is ...#216 - Trinity @ Running Mother

Congrats Trinity! Please email me at racingwithbabes (at) yahoo (dot) com to claim your boot!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Three Things Thursday -

Cupcakes - At Doodle's preschool, each parent has to be on one committee and handle one party. For the last 4 years, I have been on the hospitality committee. We handle all the food, drinks and door prizes at the co-op meetings. We are in charge of meals when families need help and welcome baskets when families grow.

But the biggest thing we do each year is give our Directress a Christmas gift and an end of the year gift. Like last year, it was my job to coordinate this. And once we have a gift idea worked out, it's actually quite a simple task. Except when things go awry. Like they did this year. Normally it wouldn't have shaken me, except I am also in charge of the Holiday party today. I had like a bizillion things to do. Like making these ...

I just didn't have the time for hiccups.

Vacation - We leave tomorrow for our Christmas vacation to Disney (which also means this blog will be on vacation until further notice). I have nothing packed. And I will be at Doodle's preschool all day today. And I missed my run this morning. I might be freaking the freak out by this afternoon. But, all should be alleviated when we surprise the girls with where we are going later today. I'm sure their excitement will help me chill out.

Last Chance - Remember, I will be announcing the winner of my Ahnu Boots Giveaway HERE tomorrow. So, if you haven't entered yet, do it now.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Winnings

I won.

And it was delicious. Thank you!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

an entry for me. an entry for you.

Since Sunday at 2 p.m., I have swam 650 meters, run 11 miles and biked 23.34 miles. Oh, and at some point today, I will bike another 18 miles and run 3. Needless to say, I'm burning a lot of calories.

Well, I know how to make up for it.

With a cake from Shyndigz (You know, that place that made my Cake Shake last week).

Right now, until 5 p.m., they are running a contest for a free cake on their Facebook page HERE. I would love to win. But I need your help. I'll get one entry for each of you that goes to their page HERE, "likes" it and posts on their wall that I, Tonia Blanchet, sent you.

Super easy, right? And if you do so, I will give you a bonus entry in my Ahnu Boots Giveaway HERE. Just leave me a comment on the giveaway post to let me know.

Both me and my stomach thank you in advance.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Part One ...

Since we don't live near our families, we have traditionally had three Christmases each year. First we celebrate with my mom and sisters. Then, we have Christmas morning at our house. And finally, a day or two after Christmas, we open gifts for a third time with J's family. Oh, and somewhere in there we take our annual week-long Christmas vacation (we take our kids on vacation in lieu of gifts).

As you can imagine, this makes for a very hectic December.

This past weekend was Christmas Part One for us. Everyone met at my little sister's house for a weekend full of food, gifts, baking, laughing and crazy Christmas shirts. The festivities began with dinner out. Afterward, we decorated the Christmas tree.

And posed for pictures (some not as successful as others).

In the morning, we opened gifts (which I failed to take a single picture of) and started our baking marathon,

while wearing these shirts (Note: that is Dizzle's finger in the picture).

And over the course of 24 hours, my hair went from this,

to this,

and finally, to this.

Yeah, no one said we were normal.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Ahnu Boot Review and Giveaway ...

Recently, the amazing people at gave me the opportunity to review the Ahnu Monte Vista.Prior to this, I had not hear of Ahnu, a footwear company that focuses on outdoor performance and convenience, with men's and women's styles ranging from water sports to casual exploration, but I was eager to try the Monte Vista, which retails for $199.95.

(Note: Check out the story behind Ahnu in their fall newsletter HERE).

The Monte Vista boasts a waterproof oiled leather upper with contrast stitch detailing up the ankle and calf for a sleek, flattering fit. The eVent waterproof bootie and 200 grams of insulation offer cozy, dry comfort in cold conditions. The Vibram® outsole of the Ahnu Monte Vista Waterproof boot ensures reliable traction on slippery surfaces. Plus, it's mid-calf design gives me the ability to rock my knee highs. And I am sure these boots would look epic over your pants as well.
There is a lot to like about the Monte Vista. Here are just some of my favorite features:
  • Waterproof - We don't get much snow here in VA, but we do get a ton of rain, especially in the Fall and Spring. I felt that I could stomp through the puddles and mud with my kids and not be concerned about ruining the shoe.
  • eVent - I just loved that my feet were always warm (a big selling point for this perpetually cold individual) but NEVER overheated or sweaty. I am attributing this to the eVent feature of the shoe which while offering durable waterproof protection, the eVent membrane allows moisture from sweat to pass directly through millions of tiny open pores and to the outside of the fabric. Outside water is unable to enter, in turn keeping you dry and comfortable.
  • Numentum Hike Technology - I have really bad feet. I can't wear unsupportive shoes for more than an hour or so and I can't ever go barefoot. This usually means I have to wear sneakers. But the Monte Vista's Numentum Hike Technology, which creates the comfort of an athletic show with the heal stability of a rugged hiker, allowed me to be comfortable even after 10 hours of wear.
  • Function vs. Fashion - We all know that I value style and function in my apparel and shoes are no different. I love the brick red color of these shoes that elevate them from your typical hiking boot.
With that said, there was one thing I'm not a fan of about this boot ...

I had the hardest time getting it snug enough. The lacing system didn't allow me to keep the lower part of the laces tight as I moved up the shoes. I wish it had the lace hooks, which are located at the top of the boot throughout the entire shoe.

Do you want to try a pair of Ahnu Boots? Thanks to one reader will win their choice of either the Monte Vista (women's) or the Mendocino (men's). Here's how to enter (one comment for each entry please!):

REQUIRED: Become a follower of this blog.

  • Follow me on Twitter HERE.
  • Like Racing With Babes on Facebook HERE.
  • Follow on Twitter HERE.
  • Spread the word about this giveaway via your blog, Facebook or Twitter (include @tmbrunnerfirst and @onlineshoes_com in your tweet).
Entries will be accepted until Thursday, December 15. Winner will be randomly selected and announced on Friday, December 16. Only entries submitted correctly will be counted. Contest open to U.S. citizens ONLY.

Disclaimer: I was provided this product for free to review. The opinions stated here are solely my own.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

vulnerable ...

Yesterday afternoon, while I was washing dishes, Dizzle asked me a question completely out of the blue,

"How did your daddy die?"

It hit me like a ton of bricks. First of all, she had never asked me that question before and I didn't know how honest I wanted to be with the answer. And second, she asked on what would have been his 56th birthday, a fact she was completely unaware of.

I thought for a moment and decided to tell her the truth without giving any detail.

"He died of a heart attack."

Which of course, opened a can of worms.

"Well, what is a heart attack? How does that happen? Why did it happen to him? How old was he?

Trying to compose myself, I answered her questions.

"A heart attack is when your heart stops working. It happens for lots of reasons, sometimes doctors can get it to work again and sometimes they can't. They couldn't help my dad. The reason why is not important. It just happened. He was 46."

At some point, I was crying more than I was talking. I'm sure I was freaking her out. No, I know I was freaking her out. I could see it on her and her sisters' faces. I don't think that any of them had ever seen me cry for any reason other than physical pain. They didn't really know what to say.

Once I got it back together, I took Dizzle aside and tried to explain why I had gotten so upset, which, of course, caused more tears. I wanted her to know that I wasn't upset with her or her question. I wanted her to know that it's OK to be vulnerable. And I wanted her to understand why I was crying.

So, I told her the truth.

"Dizzle, I'm not upset. It's just that sometimes when you really miss someone it can make you cry. Not because you are mad or hurt, but because you are sad and you know that nothing you can do is going to change your situation. Imagine you were never able to see me or Daddy ever again. Wouldn't you want to cry about that? That's why I am crying."

And she, being wise beyond her years, said, "Well, but it gets better, right? You don't always cry. But, I bet Mimi's really sad too."

With a new onslaught of tears, I told her, "It's not that it gets better, it just changes. You always have a bit of sadness with you, but you learn to think less about the sadness and more about all of the happiness. But you always remember."

Then she started crying too. I just hugged her and told her I loved her, and that I always would.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

dental woes ...

When I was a kid, I always wanted braces. For some odd reason I thought they were cool. Unfortunately, well perhaps fortunately for my parents, I had straight teeth (aside from one slightly turned tooth, which was fixed with a retainer).

The healthy of my teeth is another story.

As a kid, I remember getting fillings in my baby teeth. As a teen, I got a clean slate when all my adult teeth came in. I had zero cavities. Every checkup was a breeze. I gloated about how well I took care of my teeth.

Then I went to college. And I stopped going to the dentist. For like 6 years.

Can you see where this is going?

Finally, after having Dizzle, we moved to Virginia and I found a new dentist. Over the course of two years, I had 14 cavities.

I tried everything. Brushing more. Flossing more. Fluoride treatments. Nothing helped.

I had minimal plaque buildup and healthy gums, but my teeth kept failing me.

Yesterday, I had another five cavities filled (with two more next week). I couldn't feel my face for seven hours. Now I am sore enough to make eating anything that requires chewing a challenge. Oh, and cold isn't exactly my friend right now.

So, I asked my dentist what else I could do. And do you know what she said, "Just keep doing what you're doing. And we'll just keep checking. But, honestly, I just think you have genetically weak teeth."

Are you kidding me? At this rate, I'm not going to have any natural surfaces on my teeth in two years. In fact, if nothing is going to prevent these cavities and subsequent drilling sessions, maybe I should just have them all pulled and replaced with fake teeth. At least those don't get cavities.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

decorations ...

Christmas is not my favorite holiday. Thanksgiving is. I think Christmas has too much hype. Too much pressure. Too much stuff.

Until this year, our holiday decor consisted of stockings, a tree, and two strands of lights around our door. I was cool with this. The girls? Well, not so much.

They protested and I tried to get crafty.

I sewed ribbon garland.

I made a wreath (or two).

The girls decorated "trees."

We made salt dough ornaments.

And figures.

Plus, my fridge got a makeover.

And of course, we decorated our tree.
Which Dilly, then decided to undecorate while J was napping 10 feet away from her. She's lucky I was feeling festive.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Blue Ridge Marathon Entry Winner ...

Thank you to everyone who entered my Blue Ridge Marathon Entry Giveaway. There were 29 entries and thanks to, the winner is ...25 - Rene @ The Amherst Shuffle. Congrats! Email me at racingwithbabes (at) yahoo (dot) com to claim your prize.

And if you didn't win, you can register HERE. But hurry up, rates increase on January 1st.

strength ...

Strength can manifest in a lot of different ways.

You can be physically strong.
You can be mentally strong.
You can be emotionally strong.

On some days, I am all three. On others, all strength eludes me.

Right now, I am mustering all of my strength to stay sane. I'm having a hard time focusing. My stomach is in knots. And the worst part is, my rock is feeling the same way. Uncertainty will do that to a person.

Maybe that's why I've been sick for what feels like an eternity. I'm using my strength elsewhere and my body can't fight back. Eventually, something has to give or you'll crack. Today, my run was the thing that ruptured.

7/10 of a mile in, I just couldn't do it. My body was screaming no and my brain didn't have the strength to fight it. I stopped and walked back to my car. I probably never should have shown up in the first place. I should have had the strength to take a rest day. But, some days you just need to run, or risk going insane.

Friday, December 2, 2011

November Rewind ...

Eleven months down, one to go. Here's my recap of November 2011 ...

Run Miles Planned/Miles Ran:
81.4/149.09 (recovery month after two marathons in one week)

Bike Miles Planned/Miles Rode: 0/0 (spoiler alert! I rode my bike yesterday ...)

Swim Meters Planned/Meters Swam: 200m/200m

Rest Days Planned/Rest Days Taken: as many as I needed/10

Highest Run Mileage Week: 11/7-11/13: 37.82 miles

Highest Bike Mileage Week: none

Highest Swim Volume Week: 11/28-11/30: 200 meters (be impressed)

Long Runs Planned/Long Runs Completed: 4/4

Current Book: I've read If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, like a 1,000 in the last week alone.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Shyndigz. Thought I loved cupcakes? Well I love Cake Shakes, too. Half a slice of cake, blended into a vanilla shake with the other half of the slice on a plate. Freaking heaven.

Current Colors: Charcoal Gray and Lululemon Currant

Current Drink: Dunkin Donuts Mint Mocha Coffee. I am perpetually cold and it is the only thing that warms me up.

Current Song: Calling All the Monsters - China Anne McClain (yes, I am 12)

Current Triumph: Two marathons in a week was pretty epic. So was devouring 22 munchkins during a 5K. Oh, and I swam 200 meters. I'm kind of bada$$.

Current Goal: 70.3 domination. That is all.

Current Blessing:
I feel like my whole life is one big blessing and I am entirely grateful.

Current Excitement: My new treadmill. Half Ironman training cycle. Disney. Christmas. My 30th birthday. Lots of exciting things happening in the next six months.

2011 Goals - Status Update:

  • Clean up my diet - I am tracking my food religiously at SparkPeople, survived my sugar detox and have been able to add a small amount of sweets back in without causing a total binge.
  • Eat no more than 25 cupcakes - As of December 2nd - 23 cupcakes eaten
  • Pay off our consumer debt by the end of the year - Due to purchasing a new car, our debt repayment has slowed, but we have paid off over half of our consumer debt and are on track to be credit card debt free in 10 months. Plus, we are on track to have our student loans eliminated by February 2013, five month ahead of our schedule. And 10 years faster than if we let it go to term.
  • Spend $0 on clothing - As of December 2nd - $278.50 spent - I caved and bought some stuff from Lululemon and a pair of jeans from eBay when my lone pair ripped.
  • Run 2,000 miles - As of December 2nd - 1805.27 miles run.
  • Run a sub 1:55 half marathon - Next race - 2/26, Disney Princess Half
  • Take 30+ minutes off my marathon - Completed - 11/12, Richmond Marathon, 4:12:52, 36:46 PR.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Three Things Thursday ...

Merry Christmas - For a few months, J and I have debated whether or not we should get a new treadmill. I love our current one (which we have had for 7 years) and it runs fine, but J doesn't fit well on it (he's 6'7, after all) and it doesn't have some of the newer features that treadmills are being sold with these days (i.e. decline, tablet screen, Google Maps).

So, after much debate we decided to bite the bullet and purchase this on Black Friday ...

Isn't it pretty? It's being delivered tomorrow and I pretty much can't wait. It will be like Christmas morning.

Vacation - I am in official countdown mode for our Christmas trip. We were going to take the girls to San Diego this year, but the airline canceled our flight and offered a full refund, so we took it. Rather than rebook and spend a fortune for tickets, we decided to drive to Disney. The girls love it (Seriously, they ask to go EVERY FREAKING DAY) and it's our last chance to visit before Dilly turns 3 and we add the cost of her theme park ticket. Heck yeah for saving money! And a double heck yeah for 15 days!

Quarantined - My family needs to be placed in a bubble and hidden from the rest of the world. In the last month and a half, we've had ...
  • Strep
  • Croup
  • Urinary Tract Infections
  • Bat-Pig Flu
  • Colds
  • Pinkeye
And now, Dilly woke up with some weird itchy rash. Are you freaking kidding me? Back to the doctors we go ...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

6 a.m. wins and losses ...

By 6 a.m. this morning, several things occurred. Some, wins. Some, not so much.

Things I DIDN'T do this morning:
  • skimp on my training
  • sleep in
  • put on my contacts
  • remember my GPS watch
  • run outside
  • drown
  • sink
  • drown
  • panic
  • drown
  • flail
  • drown
  • breaststroke
  • did I mention, drown?
Things I DID do this morning:
  • woke up at 4:30 a.m.
  • more swim training than I've ever done in my life
  • wore a latex cap, goggles and a new swimsuit
  • swam 200 meters (yes, that is more swim training than I've ever done in my life)
  • didn't drown
  • swam freestyle, something I was convinced was impossible
  • ran inside on the YMCA treadmill
  • swam
  • contracted pinkeye
  • swam
  • wore my glasses which are 10 years old and the wrong prescription
  • swam
  • wore a winter hat while running on the treadmill even though the gym was 14 billion degrees just to keep the glasses from falling off
  • did I mention that I swam?
I'm calling today a win. Pinkeye and all.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

supported ...

I feel that sometimes I take J for granted. He is 100% supportive of me, my crazy goals and pretty much anything I throw his way. I always know that if I want or need something, he is going to find a way to make it happen. He probably just wants me to be happy, but I have to wonder if he just doesn't see the point in fighting the inevitable (either way, I'm fine with it). It's true that I appreciate him and I do my best to make that clear to him, but I often forget that my situation is not necessarily standard. In fact, it might be unique.

To be honest, J and I have never had an all out fight.
Neither of us has ever left angry.
I've never said anything to him that I've regretted. And I'm sure he hasn't either.
We are a team through and through.

It's true that we don't agree on everything and at times we get on each others' nerves, but when it comes to the big stuff, we know that the individual pieces are less important that the end result. We know how to compromise without anyone feeling like they got the short end of the stick. We appreciate what each person brings to the table and we understand that we couldn't do it all alone. We want nothing more than for each other to succeed and to love every step of the process.

This thinking is so ingrained, that I often forget that this isn't the case for everyone. I forget that some people are faced with resistance and resentment. I forget that getting full support from the people in your life is not a requirement. I forget that they can choose otherwise. And it's in those moments that I see how good I've got it.

So J, if I haven't said it recently, thank you for believing in me. Thank you for being my rock. Thank you for never trying to squelch my dreams. And thank you for being my partner in all of this. I can't imagine a better person to navigate this life with.

Monday, November 28, 2011

ready, set, wait ...

18 weeks from now, I will be toeing the line at my first Half Ironman, Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas.

Today is supposed to be the first day of my training plan.

It's not.

I will not swim today.
I will not bike today.
I will not run today.

Because I'm sick.

I've had a fever for two days.
I can barely swallow.
I am a mucus factory.
My head is pounding.
My entire body aches.

Instead of beginning my journey to 70.3, I am fighting the Bat-Pig Flu.

Someone pass the tissues ...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

with a side of thanks ...

It's funny to me that so many people ONLY feel the need to profess what they are thankful for at Thanksgiving. I honestly believe that appreciating and being thankful of the things in your life needs to happen on a daily basis. Tomorrow isn't guaranteed. And things could ALWAYS be worse. We need to take stock in all the good and shift the focus away from the bad. Perspective is the key.

I only say this because I can remember being a child and expecting things to be handed to me on a silver platter. I didn't know or understand all that my parents did to provide for us. And now that I have my own family, I do and I hope I can impart that message to my daughters. To help them see that it is not the material things in life that matter, but rather the experiences and people that fill our days.

In the past year, I have had plenty of moments that I have been thankful for and plenty that I would like to forget. And I am stronger and wiser and better off because of all of them. I have worked to remove negativity and replace it with positive people, experiences and energy. And today, like everyday, I am feeling blessed by all the things that fill my days, including ...
  • My loving and supportive husband. He encourages me to follow my passions, understands my quirks and is there for me 100%. I could accomplish nothing if it weren't for him. We are a team and we do our best to help each other get to exactly where we want to be. In the last year, I've come to realize how important this is and how lucky I am to have him. Not everyone gets this kind of support and I shouldn't take it for granted. (Note: He's also the kind of husband that will buy his crazy runner wife a high-end treadmill just because it's a "good deal." Thanks J.)
  • My three beautiful daughters. They light up my day (even when they are driving me crazy). They give me reason to live the best life I can, to be a positive example and to cherish the moment.
  • My mom and sisters. The older I get, the more I appreciate them. We don't agree on everything and we all have our moments, but in the end I love them more that I can express.
  • My running wife, G. She gets it. Good run. Bad run. And every run in between. She pushes me and lets me push her back, something that should not be underestimated.
  • The Core 4. Runners first, logical thinkers second. They are all crazy enough to sacrifice sleep to run with a friend. They know when to push the pace and when to hold back. We are united by a common love and drive with a little bit of healthy competition thrown in just to make things interesting.
  • My body. No, it's not perfect. But, it has created three of the cutest creatures I have ever laid eyes on. And it proves to me everyday just how powerful it is.
  • A healthy family. Enough said.
  • Patience. My girls can prove to be a challenge. And the one thing that keeps me from complete insanity is patience. And coffee. But mostly, patience.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

21 bits of randomness ...

I was tagged by Jen @ Miles, Muscles & Mommyhood to share 21 random facts about myself and then to tag 10 people to do the same. And since I always love a little bit of randomness, here it goes ...

1. My name is Tonia (Toe-Knee-Ahh). I have always had a bit of disdain for my name, as I have rarely met a person who could pronounce it correctly without hearing it first. Because my name is unique, I wanted somewhat unique names for my children. My plan kind of backfired. Dizzle's name, while unique for a girl was the fifth most popular name for a boy the year she was born and Doodle's name was the 22nd most popular in the year I bestowed it on her. When we found out we were having our third girl, I gave up on names all together and let Jeremy have control. It's was probably the first and last time that that will ever happen.

2. When I met my husband, I thought he had a huge gap between his front teeth. He doesn’t. However, all three of my children do.

3. I got married in the Bahamas. It was one of the best days of my life. One of the most memorable things that happened that day had nothing to do with me. My little sister fainted during the photos. Scary then. Funny now.

4. I don’t like waiting … for anything. I am a quick decision maker. I bought a house, got married and was pregnant with my first child in a matter of four months.

5. I had my first child young … I was 23. The second came along when I was 25 and the third, one week before my 27th birthday. This means that I was pregnant or breastfeeding for over five years straight. Despite that sacrifice, having children at a young age was the best decision I ever made, for numerous reasons. Think about it, we are the "cool, young parents", we are past the "baby" stage while all of our peers are just entering it, and I will only be 45 when Dilly goes to college. How epic is that?

6. Two of my biggest accomplishments are graduating from an Ivy League university (I finished in 3 years) and finishing six marathons. But, by far my greatest accomplishment is my daughters. Proof of the first two is hanging on my wall. I would hang my children on the wall too, but I think that is frowned upon.

7. I have never had a real job (i.e. one I could support myself with), but I am working on changing that. With that said, being a stay-at-home mom is more job than I could have ever wanted.

8. I like to do a lot of things, but running is my passion. Strangely, I used to hate running and would avoid it at all costs. Truth be told, I still hate running, but I run at least five days a week and am mildly addicted. Need more proof? I ran throughout my third pregnancy and completed two sprint triathlons, 3 10Ks, an 8K, 2 5Ks and a half-marathon. Four days before I delivered, I ran seven miles.

9. I used to be overweight. That is no longer the case and on more than one occasion have been told that I need to eat something. Funny, considering pretty much all I do is eat. It's just that the people who have known me for more than seven years or so, remember how I used to be and the bad habits I had and they think that my current healthy lifestyle is extreme. (Note: It's not extreme. I'm a pescatarian. I don't eat a lot of junk. I know how to indulge. I run. I bike. I weigh 150-155 lbs and I have for 7 years.)

10. When I was 12 I broke my pelvis and dislocated my hip. I was on bed-rest for two and a half months and gained 70 pounds. Although my doctors were sure that I would never return to sports I did, and I competed through college. The only lasting effect of the injury is that my right leg is an inch and a half longer than my left.

11. I have two tattoos, one is a discus thrower. The other is Chinese symbols, and my sisters have the same one. I want a third and I'm just waiting for the go-ahead. At one point in my life, I had 12 ear piercings, in addition to a belly ring, an eyebrow ring, and a tongue ring.

12. I met my husband when I was 17. I was on a recruiting trip to his school, Cornell. He was my tour guide. After that weekend, I didn't talk to him again for almost three years. We started dating while on the Penn/Cornell Track and Field trip to England. We dated for 10 months before becoming engaged and we didn’t live in the same state until a month before our wedding.

13. If given three wishes, I would wish for wealth for my family, health for my family, and for my father to be able to meet my husband and children. If I was only given one wish, I would wish for my father to meet my husband and children.

14. My father passed away when I was 20. It was the worst moment of my life. It was also one of the best moments of my life. It completely changed my perspective on life and how I approach things. It made me into the person that I have become and that is a person that I am 100 percent happy with, both inside and out. But, I miss him everyday.

15. The last time I had an alcoholic drink was at my wedding. It was an amaretto sour. I don’t plan on ever having one again. For no other reason than I don’t like how it tastes. And speaking of my wedding, the only thing I ate during it was a cream puff and a bite of wedding cake.

16. My weirdest quirk: Whenever I stay at a hotel I always sleep with a hood on. I don’t like my face resting on the same pillowcase that others have used. With that said, I love to travel, yet have done very little of it, mostly because I have either been pregnant or had children for all but two months of my married life, which began less than six months after I graduated. The place I most want to visit: Australia. Yet, if I could live anywhere, at least for a little while, it would be the Pacific Northwest.

17. I am tall for a girl, 5’9" Yet, I am destined to be the shortest member of my family. My husband is 6’7" and most of my family, including my mom, are over 6 feet tall. It’s said that you can double a child’s height somewhere between age 2 and 2 ½ to get an idea of how tall they will be. If I do that for any of my children and it’s true, they will be between 6’ and 6’3.

18. I’m not a sucker for romance. I think jewelry and flowers, while a nice gesture, are a waste of money. Give me a box of donuts and a good pair of running shoes any day. Although I am not a jewelry fan, I never take off my wedding band and engagement ring. Ever.

19. I have a best friend from each stage of my life. Elementary school, high school, college and adulthood. I love them all dearly, although each of our relationships are very different. I've know my oldest friend for almost 27 years. I am about to turn 30.

20. Before we had kids, J and I went out to dinner and a movie almost every single weekend. In recent times this has changed. We haven't gone to see a movie together since DaVinci Code in 2006. We'll be ending our hiatus this weekend when we go to see Breaking Dawn.

21. I am extremely Type A. I like pattern and routine and things have to be done the "right way" (which is usually my way). I write lists for everything, including other lists. I pack two weeks in advance to avoid forgetting something. And I CANNOT leave my house if it's messy. I'd rather be late (and I really hate being late) than come home to a dirty house.

And now for the next in line -

G @ Neurosis of the Stay at Home Marathoner of 3 (Kids)
Mel @ Tall Mom on the Run
Kerrie T @ Mom vs. Marathon
Jen @ Setting You Free
Jess @ Pace of Me
Kim @ (Just) Trying is for Little Girls
Jess @ Blonde Ponytail
Rachel @ Running Backwards in High Heels
Kari @ Running Ricig
Lesley @ Racing it Off

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Blue Ridge Marathon Entry Giveaway ...

Do you have your 2012 race calendar planned out? Bored with pancake flat courses? (I'm not, but you might be ...) Are you looking for a challenge? Well, then look no further than the Blue Ridge Marathon in Roanoke, VA on April 21, 2012.

Picture this -- a cool breeze at your back, the scent of blossoming flowers, “purple mountain’s majesty” in front of you…and the SEARING pain in your quads with each and every stride down this freaking mountain!

Don’t come to Roanoke, Virginia to enjoy a relaxing weekend; come to see just how much the National College Blue Ridge Marathon can kick your butt.

Deemed the WORLD'S TOUGHEST ROAD RACE, the marathon course boasts a 7,200+ foot total elevation change (the half course comes in at 2,500 ft of elevation change). That's just insane! But, it's the kind of insane that us runners like to brag about. Here's the race director's take on the race.

Blue Ridge Marathon: America's Toughest Road Marathon from Pete Eshelman on Vimeo.

Intrigued? Here are the details:
  • What: Full & Half Marathon, 5-Person Team Relay, Walking Half, YMCA Kids Marathon
  • Where: Roanoke, VA and Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Date: April 21, 2012
  • Start Time: 7:30 am
  • Total Elevation Change: ~7,234 ft. (full), ~2,500 ft. (half)
  • Most Difficult Section: Roanoke Mountain on Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Beneficiary: Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Magnificent Views: Plenty
I mean, how could you not want to run this?

I'll be there running the HALF. Another marathon is so not on my radar right now. And you can be too. If you register for the Blue Ridge Marathon before December 15th, you can use the code "tough" for 15% off the registration fee.

Or, if your lucky, you could win a FREE entry right now.

Here's how to enter (separate comments, please):
1. Leave a comment to let me know why you want to run this race.
2. Become a follower of this blog. Leave a comment.
3. Follow Blue Ridge Marathon (@BRM26pt2) on Twitter HERE. Leave a comment.
4. Like Blue Ridge Marathon on Facebook HERE. Leave a comment
5. Repost this giveaway on your blog, Twitter (include @tmbrunnerfirst and @BRM26pt2 in your tweet) or Facebook. Leave a comment.

Entries will be accepted until Sunday, December 4th. Winner will be selected at random and announced on Monday, December 5th.

Disclaimer: Blue Ridge Marathon is providing entry to their race for both me and the winner of the giveaway. There was no other compensation for this post.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Dunkin Donuts Munckin Run 5K Recap ...

Location: Midlothian, VA
Date: 11/19/11
Temperature: 45 degrees @ start, sunny
Official Time: 31:25 (with donut deduction)
Garmin Time: 31:55

The Good:

Race Concept - If nothing else, the concept of this race was fantastic. Eating Munchkins while running a 5K is pretty much my idea of heaven. And the vast amount of food I consumed, once again proved that old habits die hard. Without some serious self control, I could easily revert back into my former self.

The Outfits - Seriously, how fantastic do J and I look? And I didn't even have to ask him to coordinate.

Munchkins - Did I mention there were munchkins? Yeah, like tables full of munchkins every mile or so.

Pace - I ran the first 2/3 of this race with J. Just after the mile 2 mark, he asked if I just wanted to finish the race. I did. So, after averaging an 11 minute pace in those first two miles, I ran an 8:50 last mile, which included two Munchkin stops and two photo stops (when I saw J).

My moving average was 7:30 and somewhere in there I was running a 5:26. It's like all that sugar gave me turbo boosters.

Swag - Not only did you get all-you-can-eat Munchkins on the course, hot chocolate and coffee before the start and a race tee, every runner left with a coupon for a free box of 25 Munchkins and a refillable coffee mug. Insane, considering that the race only cost $15.

Extreme Eating Challenge Title - As you know, this race was never about speed for me. It was about donut eating. With no intention of letting J (or anyone on the course, for that matter) beat me, I consumed 22 Munchkins over the 3.1 miles. That's equivalent to 7.33 regular donuts. And I could have eaten more. It didn't bother my stomach one bit.

(empty munchkin cups. had to be carried to the finish for credit.)

The Bad:

The Course - Since the route had to stay on school property at all times, the course looped like crazy over rather uneven off-road terrain. It was sloped. And muddy. And not what I am used to. I was constantly concerned that I might roll an ankle.

Munchkin Fail - So, before the race we were told that each Munchkin would be in a cup. Once you ate the Munchkin, you had to carry the cup to the finish. Each Munchkin consumed would be a 10 second deduction from your time. Fabulous. I figured I had two things to do.

1. Eat more than J.
2. Eat enough to get some serious time taken off.

And I totally did both. But, since I wasn't paying attention well enough to the announcements at the start (which were impossible to hear), runners only got deductions for the FIRST THREE (3) MUNCHKINS. WTF? So the 3 minutes and 40 seconds worth of Munckins (also known as 1,400 calories) were for nothing.

The Ugly:

Organization Fails - I know this was a first year event. And I know it was thought up by a high schooler. But, there were some serious fails for this race coined as an "Extreme Eat-Run Challenge"

1. The 3 Munchkin Cap - On what planet is eating 3 Munchkins EXTREME?
2. No Separate Divisions - There should have been two divisions for this race: Donut-Eaters and Non-Donut-Eaters. There also should have either been a set amount to eat at each donut stop or the ability to get a time deduction for each Munckin consumed.
3. Order of Donut/Water Stops - At each stop the water came BEFORE the donuts. Totally needed to be the other way around.

With that said, I'd totally run this race again.