Chasing a Dream

Since middle school, there are very few proud moments in my life that are not directly tied to running. In high school under the direction of Coach Silvia Torres, I chased personal bests across rugged terrain and all weather-tracks for four solid years straight. Sometimes injuries and losses hampered my dreams of making it to state or cinching the win, but my losses always taught me invaluable lessons about humility, commitment, and sportsmanship.

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In college, my running aspirations continued as a Division I athlete at Texas A&M. Joining the ranks of other runners with similar if not more accomplished running resumés, I quickly learned that running at the collegiate level would take even more grit, dedication, and tenacity than any other running venture I’d toed the line for before.

Over the years running has continued to be a constant source of inspiration for me. It has been a faithful friend I can always count on to pull me up by the bootstraps after one of life’s moments knocked me flat on my rear. Accomplishing new running milestones offers such a sense of pride and accomplishment for me. I run because it is something that brings me so much joy. This year coaching at the high school level offered me the opportunity to share my love of running with others and inspire greatness in them.

 

Yesterday at the age of 35, I ran the fastest mile of my life (5:17); even bettering my high school state track meet personal best of 5:19. I bravely toed the line with a group of open males as the only open female competitor entered in the mile race. Training all season with a group of strong and speedy high school boys, I knew I was in the best shape of my adult life. With high aspirations of running a sub 5:20, the gun went off and I sprinted out with the field of runners. From the very beginning, I fell into second place and maintained that position for the remainder of the race. As I circled the track, I found myself overjoyed by the opportunity to chase down another dream. My heart swelled with pride as I crossed the line with my fastest time to date.

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In life, we are never too old to chase down a dream. It might require more effort and more strategic planning than it did when we were teenagers but nothing is impossible. I say strategic because while I can still run incredibly fast, I need more recovery days than I used to. We can’t be spring chickens forever! Even with all of that said, a “can do” spirit, faith in our abilities, and a heart of gold are the key ingredients for a recipe for success.

After last night’s race, I’ve set my sights on a loftier goal- racing the 1500m this July at the USATF Masters Outdoor Championships in Spokane, Washington. The next two months of training will be difficult as is to be expected in Texas heat, but armed with a positive attitude and a solid training plan I’m ready to reach for the stars.

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That Time of Year

The end of the school year is plagued with a long list of to do’s that make the last few weeks feel like a frenetic race in a hamster ring that spins incessantly without a definitive end in sight. As my twelfth year in education is winding down, I find myself in this familiar rat race. The one difference, however, is that now being a counselor in a high school setting the amount of paperwork I’m trying to manage far outshines any end of year duties I’ve performed at previous schools. With all of that being said, it’s that time of year, and I have had very little downtime to attend to my blog.

In between proctoring AP tests, preparing for final exams, and managing course selections, I’ve managed some time for the most important thing in my life- my family. Last weekend the boys and I trekked to Waco for an adventure at the TAPPS State Track Meet. Friday rain brought incredibly muddy conditions and the boys relished in the opportunity to frolic in the mud. Thank goodness for hotel bathtubs to help remedy the dirty work of boys being boys.

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Our Saturday morning started off early as usual, so I decided on an impromptu trip to the Cameron Park Zoo since running events weren’t slated to begin till later in the day. The rain from the previous day brought gorgeous weather for our zoo adventure. The animals loved the cooler temperatures and put on quite a show for us.

The afternoon brought warmer temperatures with beautiful blue skies and bright sunshine. The level of student talent was high as they raced their hearts out around Panther Stadium. Harrison toed the line with seven other competitors poised to finish this season out on a high note. Seeded 8th going in, he knew he would have to run a strong race. The four laps of his mile race demonstrated dedication, perseverance, and heart. Racing alongside the best 6A milers in the state, he secured a 7th place finish with a strong showing in his final lap. I couldn’t be more proud of his efforts and look forward to watching him chase down PR’s in the next three years at St. John XXIII.

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We ended our weekend off on a high note with a belated cinco de mayo celebration on Sunday at Gringo’s. Sean and I enjoyed our celebratory margaritas and the boys enjoyed ice cream and some playground fun while we were there. Our spontaneous dinner also included Jim (Grandpa Dodd) who we had the pleasure of sharing our evening with.

By Monday the work week was in full swing and the nonstop to do list continued to build. Riding out these last few weeks, I know how important it will be to make time to unwind with the boys. Monday marked the first day I didn’t have track practice since March, so the boys and I capitalized on the gorgeous afternoon with an impromptu trip to one of the neighborhood playgrounds after school.

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I hope that when the dust settles and the school year officially comes to an end, I will have more time to dedicate to sharing my thoughts, adventures, and life with you through my blog. In the meantime, the adage, “this too shall pass” is a rather comforting quote I’m carrying with me.

A Tough Act to Follow

God blesses us with infinite opportunities in life to selflessly give our time to others. My high school cross-country and track coach modeled this selflessness with the grace of an angel. She dedicated countless hours away from her husband and family to lead workouts, call splits, and encourage her athletes to reach their full potential. When I reflect back on this time, my heart swells with joy as I think of how incredibly blessed I was to have her in my life as a coach, teacher, and mentor.

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This year marked my first year as a high school track coach. Armed with a stopwatch, a composition notebook full of workouts, and the wisdom of many years of running, I stepped into Coach Torres’s shoes to impart a love of running and the importance of sportsmanship, hard work, and dedication. My field of runners brought so much light to my afternoons as together we ticked away lap after lap around the track pushing each other along to greatness.

All season long one of my freshman boys continued to impress me with his raw talent and competitive spirit. Every week he shaved seconds off of his mile time and ended his final lap with the speed and tenacity of a runner far beyond his years. Last week at the district meet, he went into the meet seeded 5th place overall. In the final lap, he executed a flawless kick that allowed him to surpass enough runners in the field to garner a 3rd place finish. I welled with pride as he crossed the finish line and beamed from ear-to-ear knowing we had another week and a half of practice to prepare for regionals.

On Thursday afternoon, under a cloudless, bright blue sky, he toed the line with eight other competitors. Going in to the race, he was ranked fourth. We’d spent all week strategizing how this race needed to play out with him finishing in the top three to secure his spot to compete at state. In the final moments before the gun went off, I did the sign of the cross and offered the race up to the Lord. My prayer was simple, “Lord please bless Harrison today. We’ve done everything possible to get him ready for today. Let your will be done. Amen.”

With my stomach in knots, the gun went off and the runners set out on a mission. The race played out like a movie in slow motion. He led for most of the first lap, rounded out the second lap in last place, and then in typical Harrison fashion, he put it all on the line in the final lap and put every last ounce of his energy into the last 150 meters of the race. With his head tucked down, his arms pumping with determination, and his crimson red singlet swaying in the wind, he was poetry in motion in the final straightaway of the 1600. Cheering him on at the top of my lungs, my heart swelled with pride as he sprinted past two runners to secure his place as the 3rd place finisher. His finish earns him the opportunity to compete next week at the TAPPS 6A State Track Meet in Waco next Saturday.

In that moment when he crossed the finish line, I wished with all of my heart that I could pick up the phone and share my victory with you, Coach Torres. In that moment, it all came full circle for me. I remembered how overjoyed I was the first time I qualified to the state track meet. I vividly remember the joy I saw in Coach Torres’s eyes as she recognized what my second place regional finish meant for both of us.

Coach Torres, you are an incredibly tough act to follow, but I have tried my absolute best to lead by example just like you did at every single practice and meet. Next week at the state track meet, I know you’ll be watching us from your front row bleacher seat in Heaven. A great coach motivates, inspires, and brings out the best in their athletes. Thank you, Coach Torres, for bringing out the best in me. Your leadership and selflessness are a shining example of the kind of high school track coach I aspire to be!

“Break” is a Relative Term

For those of you who know me well, I very rarely slow down. Whether I’m running, working, or being a Mama Bear, I am a busy bee buzzing from one flower to the next. So naturally when Spring Break rolled around, the word “break” proved to be a relative term. Yes, I did enjoy a much needed break from work however I found many other projects, activities, and outings to keep me busy from the very beginning of the break to the very end.

The break kicked into gear on Monday morning with Liam and I hustling around the greater Houston area for plants. With our multiple freezes and snow days this winter, my potted plants bit the dust despite repeated efforts to cover them from the cold temperatures. We perused Target, Wal-Mart, H-E-B, Lowe’s, and Ikea for a multitude of different plants. Later in the week, I planted and rearranged our outdoor living space. My favorite takeaway from this project was repurposing Liam’s sandbox into an herb and vegetable garden.

My mom drove in midday on Monday, so the two of us enjoyed some much needed mother- daughter time shopping, eating out, and catching up. Liam and Sean ventured out on Tuesday afternoon for a father-son snowboarding trip in Colorado. Between the shopping and late night conversations with my mom, Atticus enjoyed quality time with his DeeDee (my mom’s grandma name) and also enjoyed walking just about everywhere his little legs would take him.

After my mom headed back to the Valley on Thursday morning, I enjoyed some extremely long lunches catching up with good friends. The food was great but naturally the quality time in good company was even better. In the afternoons, Atticus and I enjoyed some quality time exploring the neighborhood playgrounds, and I also mixed in a little work by reorganizing my closet. Purging and donating several bags worth of clothing to Goodwill proved to be cathartic. With some of my new finds from my shopping excursions with my mom, it also felt good to make room for the new and pass on some of my clothes for someone else to enjoy.

While at lunch on Friday with my friend Anna, she convinced me to run the 5K at the Bayou City Classic if I could find a babysitter. Thankfully, one of my go-to babysitters who works at Atticus’s daycare was willing to babysit starting at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning. Exactly a month out from my Steps for Students win, I toed the line again with a goal of improving my 18:40 time. I was incredibly happy to better my time by 20 seconds and cinch the overall female win. The icing on the cake was catching up with my favorite Bayou City Road Runners and savoring my victory with an amazing iced coffee compliments of Katz coffee. I rounded out a wonderful day catching up with a dear friend of mine and enjoying a glass of wine and a charcuterie plate of amazing olives, cheeses, and prosciutto.

As if I didn’t squeeze enough into my “break”, I also devoured another great psychological thriller (Trespassing by Brandi Reeds). An absolute page turner I stayed up way past my bedtime reading on multiple occasions because I was desperate to see how the book ended.  I also made time to cook because it always brings me so much joy. One of my favorite dishes from the week included a savory white chicken chili with white beans, white corn, and fire roasted tomatoes and a fresh batch of homemade cornbread.

All in all, my Spring Break was anything but a break but proved to offer bountiful opportunities to enjoy some of my favorite past times, catch up with some of my favorite people, organize and declutter, and feel productive and proud of my accomplishments. With a few hours remaining of break, I plan to enjoy a glass of wine with my husband, try a new creamy chicken soup recipe for dinner, bond with my boys, and sneak in a little quiet time reading a new book. For me, the word “break” truly is a relative term!

Off the Radar

Since my last post, life has been a whirlwind of beautiful moments and amazing milestones. To catch everyone up to speed, I’d like to showcase some of the highlights that have had me flying high for the last two weeks.

9 MONTHS LATER

After nine long months of waiting, the State Board of Texas finally granted me licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor Intern. I can now start seeing clients under the supervision of Tiffany Priska, LPC-S. I am eager to expand my experience in private practice and look forward to learning the business side of private practice at Serenity Counseling of Cypress. As I continue my work as a school counselor at St. John XXIII College Preparatory, I will slowly start to build a list of clients until I’ve earned the 3,000 hours required by the state to drop the “I” and be fully licensed as a Licensed Professional Counselor. I know I have my work cut out for me, but I look forward to the opportunity to grow professionally.

STEPPING OUT FOR A GREAT CAUSE

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Training alongside the high school boys I’ve been coaching for track has clearly paid off. I was grateful for an incredibly strong showing at the Steps for Students 5K, an annual race and fundraiser for Catholic schools in the Houston area. Race day conditions were humid and drizzly, but these conditions didn’t slow me down. I finished the race in 18:40, placing 5th overall and crossing the finish line as the first overall female. The silver lining to an already great morning was discovering a stack of 50 Chick-Fil-A gift cards in my swag bag for being the overall female. It looks like I’ll be enjoying a sandwich or 8 count nuggets on them for the next year!

100 DAYS OF AWESOME

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Last Friday, Liam celebrated the 100th day of school with a number themed party in his classroom. All kindergarteners made their own shirts beforehand to showcase their creativity. Using his index finger and an assortment of acrylic paints, he created a colorful rainbow and his name with 100 personalized finger prints. He beamed with pride about getting to wear his shirt to school. The day included games, activities, and arts and crafts that all centered around the number 100.

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Tomorrow he has his first field trip to the Oil Ranch. Tucking him in tonight, he told me how he wished it was already morning so that he could go on his trip. Clearly our little kindergartener is an eager beaver. This year it has been such a joy watching him grow academically and socially. I look forward to hearing all about his field trip adventure tomorrow after school.

VIVA LAS VEGAS

Last weekend, my parents drove up to watch the boys, so Sean and I could enjoy a long weekend in Las Vegas. Between the amazing food, shows, and people watching, there was never a dull moment.

The highlights of the trip include a relaxing stay at the Bellagio, an impromptu dinner at Hell’s Kitchen (a cancellation opened the door unexpectedly for us to get a table as walk ins), and amazing entertainment (Cirque de Soleil’s O, Aces of Comedy featuring Ray Romano & David Spade, and The Million Dollar Piano Man: Elton John).

A getaway with your spouse is always a wonderful way to reconnect. Vegas proved to be the perfect opportunity for just that!

ON THE MOVE

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Today our Baby Bear celebrated his 16 months of life with a new milestone- walking. This sweet boy has been trying to embrace this feat for a few weeks now, but I can say with confidence and certainty that he is officially on the move now. This Mama Bear couldn’t be more proud seeing him walk across the floor towards me beaming with pride. He’ll be running alongside me before I know it!

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I appreciate your patience and understanding about my temporary hiatus from blogging. I’m eager to share some new recipes and blog about other new adventures very soon. Until next time…

One Track Mind

My mother jokingly says that from the moment I could walk, I chose to run instead. In elementary school my grandfather gifted me my very own starting blocks that he purchased at the flea market. Most evenings, I laced up my shoes and sprinted around the front yard letting the imaginary gun in my head send me on my way. By middle school, I ate, slept, and breathed cross-country and track. And so began the miles upon miles of strength and speed workouts that helped me develop into a distance athlete with a one track mind.

My life on the run shaped me into the woman I am today. A life of high mileage required stamina, strength, speed, skill, and spirit. In shaking the hands of my competitors, demonstrating sportsmanship through winning and losing, and forging friendships with my teammates, I developed a level of character carved out of perseverance, faith, and heart.

This year I have the privilege of sharing these life lessons with a group of high school distance runners at my school coaching the middle and long distance athletes. I hope to impart some of the wisdom I learned along the way both on and off the track from influential coaching mentors like Sylvia Torres, Melba Barreiro, Meme Garza, and Gary Staley.

STAMINA

Effective distance running requires stamina. This can only be achieved through a well-established base of mileage that allows you to find that third and fourth wind when you need it most. Success in life also requires stamina; the ability to sustain prolonged physical or mental effort. True to the adage, “life is a marathon; not a sprint.”

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STRENGTH

It takes great physical and mental strength to be a successful distance runner. Sometimes a distance race will try to break you if you let it. There are moments in life that will try to do the same. It takes great strength to overcome adversity. The challenges we face in competition force us to push through the pain, refuse to accept failure, and chase our dreams until we cross the finish line. True to the saying, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

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SPEED

Although speed in the 1600 meters looks a little different than the speed demonstrated in the 200 meters, don’t discount the level of effort it requires. In life and on the track, it often comes down to the last stretch of the race. Stamina and strength will only carry you so far. You have to find that last gear and sprint with every ounce of speed you can reign in to chase down your opponents.

In life, there will always be a winner, and the winner is always the person who trained the hardest and refused to settle for anything but a first place finish. In life, there will always be a loser too. The positive side of losing, however, is the takeaway. What did you learn from your failure that will make you better?

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SKILL

Success on the track and in life requires a high level of skill. Developing and honing these skills takes time, effort, dedication, sweat, and grit. You can’t be afraid to fail, to fall, to hurt, and to face disappointment.

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SPIRIT

All of the stamina, strength, speed, and skill in the world are not enough to break a world record or shatter a glass ceiling. The most important part of pursuing a dream is the human spirit. Believing in yourself and putting your whole heart into your work, truly are the foundation for achieving great success in life. Humility, grace, and faith together with spirit will light the fire in your heart that propels you forward.

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Oftentimes, the phrase, “a one track mind” carries a negative connotation. But in the pursuit of a first place win, you will need to pull from all of your resources and chase down the gold with blinders that block out anything that might stand in your way and prevent you from cinching the win.

Off the track, the same mindset dictates success. Harness your spirit, muscle up, find the speed and stamina to persevere, and hone your skills so that even in the face of adversity, your one track mind refuses to back down until you successfully summit your mountain. Carpe diem!

An “Egg”cellente Kind of Week

Between our holiday Monday for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and then two consecutive  “Snow Days”, this week has included a lot more play than work. On our snow days, the boys and I lounged around the house in our pajamas without a care in the world. I got so caught up in the ease of no makeup and messy hair that I had to mentally psyche myself back into the idea of going back to work last night.

Another highlight of my week was plated and served the last three nights for dinner. Let me just say each of these recipes was incredibly fresh, easy, and simple to orchestrate from start to finish. With the wintry conditions, I didn’t venture out for my typical midweek grocery store run. Grateful for my standby kitchen staples, I whipped up three amazing egg dishes I highly recommend. Every single one of them was vegetarian friendly too. From my kitchen to yours, enjoy!

HUEVOS RANCHEROS

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground comino
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • cherry tomatoes (not pictured), quartered
  • eggs, # depends on how many you’re serving
  • corn tortillas, again the quantity depends on the # of people at your table
  • sea salt & pepper to taste
  • salsa

Directions:

In a skillet on medium high heat, sauté the garlic in one teaspoon of olive oil until fragrant. Add the black beans and ground comino and stir until well blended. Allow the beans to warm through. While the beans are warming, in a separate skillet fry an egg in one teaspoon of olive oil. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste. As the egg is frying, warm the tortillas on a comal until slightly charred. To assemble, place the tortilla on a plate, top with a fried egg, black beans, tomatoes, avocado, and salsa. Continue frying eggs and assembling until everyone at your table is served.

The only ingredient I didn’t have on hand was fresh cilantro. Next time, I’ll make sure to have an extra bunch in my fridge to enhance the flavor of this dish even more.

This recipe is truly a simple, delicious, and healthy option that is ready in no time flat. The only skill required is the ability to multi-task in the kitchen!

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AVOCADO TOAST

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 12 grain bread, # depends on your dinner party and/or how hungry your guests are
  • fresh spinach
  • cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • eggs, again this will vary
  • sea salt & pepper
  • avocado (not pictured), smashed to create a spread
  • hot sauce- our new favorite is Yellowbird Sauce Jalapeno Condiment

Directions:

In a toaster, toast the bread to your preference. Set the toast aside.

Cut an avocado in half, squeeze into a bowl, and smash with a fork. Spread evenly on each slice of toast. Then evenly layer the spinach leaves on top of the avocado.

In a skillet on medium high heat, fry an egg in one teaspoon of olive oil. Place the fried egg on top of the spinach. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper to taste. Add the tomatoes and top with hot sauce.

My brother and sister-in-law gave us this amazing new hot sauce for Christmas. It’s made and bottled in Austin and apparently is in high demand in all of the local restaurants there. My brother said Austinites have dubbed it their local Siracha. The flavor and heat bring a lot to the palate, and it definitely harmonizes well with eggs.

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BAKED EGGS IN TOMATO SAUCE

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I discovered this recipe while perusing the internet. A blogger after my own heart Recipe Runner (reciperunner.com) encourages her readers to “eat well and run happy.” A mantra I’ve been living by for years. This recipe is hands down the easiest thing you could make on a weeknight. I was blown away by the combination of flavors and will definitely be serving this one again very soon.

Ingredients:

  • 1 jar of tomato sauce
  •  6 eggs
  • parmesan cheese (not pictured), grated
  • fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • sea salt & pepper

Directions:

In a large cast iron skillet, pour a jar of tomato sauce and spread evenly with a spatula. I used a jar of H-E-B’s Tomato & Basil. Feel free to use whatever sauce you have on hand. Next evenly layer the grated parmesan cheese over the sauce. Then carefully break six eggs over the cheese. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.

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Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. You will know when the dish is ready when the tomato sauce starts to bubble and the whites of the eggs set. Remove from the oven and garnish with fresh basil. Serve warm with fresh bread.

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Seriously, “egg”cellente!

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A Tortilla Soup State of Mind

This afternoon heavy rain and strong winds blew in a cold front. On my drive home from work, I was awed by an unbelievable, beautiful double rainbow. As the sun set and the winds continued to howl, the temperature plummeted quickly. This evening prepping for my run required an extensive amount of apparel- gloves, a long sleeve tech shirt, athletic tights, a down vest, and a ski hat.

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Most of the time as I run, I reflect on my day or formulate a blog post in my head; using the miles for inspiration. With the wind chill, tonight’s 43 degree temperature felt about ten degrees lower. My thoughts drifted to warm sandy beaches, extra hot chai lattes, and a boiling pot of homemade soup. Warm thoughts propelled me through the miles and windy conditions I encountered on tonight’s run.

What better way to kick off the weekend than with a pot of tortilla soup that warms the core and soothes the soul. On Christmas Eve my family shared bowls of savory soup and stories about life. A few days later, my friend Jenny hosted a soup exchange party and again a pot of homemade tortilla soup brought friends and family together. Then for New Year’s Eve, I made another batch of soup to share with our NYE guests. 2017 ended and the new year began with this simple and delicious recipe that I now share with you.

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INGREDIENTS:

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  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cartons of chicken broth; sub with vegetable broth to make it vegetarian
  • 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, stems trimmed
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 store bought rotisserie chicken, remove the skin and roughly chop; nix the chicken if you’re a vegetarian and consider adding zucchini or yellow squash in its place
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped; remove the seeds if you want to tame down the heat
  • 2 bags of frozen corn
  • 2 cans of fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground comino
  • 1 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder

GARNISHES:

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  • Sliced jalapenos
  • Grated cheese; my favorite is the Mexican blend
  • Cojita cheese
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Sliced avocado
  • Tortilla chips; I love Julio’s because the seasoning adds another layer of flavor to the soup

DIRECTIONS:

On medium high heat, sauté the garlic and onions in olive oil until translucent. Add the chicken, jalapenos, canned tomatoes, and spices and bring to a boil. Then allow the soup to simmer for several hours until you are ready to serve. About 45 minutes before you are ready to serve the soup, add the frozen corn and bunch of cilantro. Garnish with grated cheese, sliced avocado, cilantro, and tortilla chips. Serve with warm flour or corn tortillas and a side of Mexican rice.

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Savor and enjoy your tortilla soup state of mind. Buen provecho!

A Different Kind of Marathon

In my running circle of friends, this week marks an important part in marathon training- the taper. They’ve logged in countless miles, foam rolled and stretched out sore muscles, and balanced their training between speed and recovery runs to prepare for Sunday’s Chevron Houston Marathon. It wasn’t that long ago that I too found myself physically and mentally preparing for the long and arduous task of running 26.2 miles.

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With a fourteen month in tow, these days I find myself training for a very different kind of marathon better known as motherhood. It requires all of the mental and physical stamina of distance running along with a few other tricks of the trade. Without a doubt, my years training and competing in marathons and ultras prepared me for this new marathon I run every day. My 24/7 training schedule as a M-O-M!

Oops, I Fartleked!

A fartlek workout is a well-known part of the vernacular in the distance community. This is a workout that includes periods of fast running intermixed with periods of slower running. This workout can be a great endeavor to take on in a group and is an excellent way to enhance speed and agility.

In mommy circles, a fartlek usually starts with a fart and ends with an incredibly foul-smelling, dirty diaper. Extra points are awarded if it’s an exploding one. This workout also enhances speed and agility as you work as fast as your hands will allow to clean the sh*t storm in front of you and keep your toddler from going into full blow meltdown mode. Because let’s be honest, he’d much rather be playing with his blocks than lying on his back covered in poo.

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LSD- I’m not referring to the hallucinogen!

In either circle, LSD is not an acronym for the hallucinogen most popular in the 1970s. Among marathon runners, LSD stands for Long Slow Distance. This run is typically completed on the weekend and gradually builds to almost the entire length of the marathon. The intention is to improve endurance and maximum oxygen uptake through a constant pace of low to moderate intensity over an extended distance or time. Most marathoners will train up to a LSD of 20 to 22 miles about three weeks prior to a marathon and then begin to taper.

This Mama Bear fondly refers to LSD as Lethargic & Sleep Deprived. This occurs as a result of several key factors. One you have a toddler who’s an early bird and rarely sleeps in past 6:30. Two, you run yourself ragged most days juggling work, managing a house and children, and making time for your spouse. Three, you don’t sleep through the night even if your youngest now does because every little cough, cry, or sigh you hear in the monitor rouses you awake and send you instantly into worry mode. Thank goodness for the invention of coffee. It’s a miracle worker in almost all of the mom circles I have the pleasure of being a part of!

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There’s Carbloading, but it doesn’t involve pasta!

Two nights before a big workout or a big race, distance runners carbload to maximize the store of glycogen in their body. This carb frenzy, free-for-all includes stuffing your face with assorted pastas, pizzas, and breads in an attempt to prepare your body for everything 26.2 miles will take out of you.

On the flipside, most mommies utilize a similar training strategy to maximize the store of patience in their body. It’s called wineloading. This free-for-all includes sipping wine, binge watching Netflix, and finally putting your feet up after a long day of “momming” so hard. Like a marathon, motherhood will take a lot out of you!

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Speedwork- You have to run fast to race fast!

In running circles, speedwork is a critical part of increasing speed and achieving a new PR (Personal Record). There are a multitude of training options including but not limited to Yasso 800s, mile repeats, tempo runs, progressive runs, and track workouts. All of these workouts when paired with recovery runs and cross-training create a perfect recipe for a stellar race.

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Ask any mom about her speedwork and she’ll tell you it’s accomplished while their children are napping. It’s amazing how much you can get done while they nap if you maintain focus, utilize speed, and never slow down until naptime is over. True to the expression, “no rest for the weary,” my speedwork usually includes laundry, meal prepping, general tidying, and incessant organizing!

Cross-training- Building strength and flexibility in muscles to supplement running!

For runners, cross-training helps build strength and flexibility in muscles and is often completed on rest days during a training cycle. Popular forms of cross-training include yoga, weight lifting, swimming, and cycling.

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For most moms, cross-training includes having a baby or toddler attached to your hip at almost all points of the day. You’d be surprised the kinds of muscles you develop from lifting and carrying said baby all around the house with you. Because multi-tasking is already a strong suit of mine, I’ve learned how to load a dishwasher or a washing machine with a baby on my hip. Holding Atticus, I can squat down to retrieve things from the floor. Lifting him in the air overhead to make him laugh and smile has also done wonders for my biceps. Who knew carrying and lifting a baby would prove to be a new form of cross-training for me!

Group runs- A group is defined as two or more, right?

Prior to pregnancy, group runs were a regular part of my training schedule. It was the ideal way to blend the physical needs of training with the social needs of friendship. Wednesday evening runs at Rice and long runs on Sundays at Memorial Park were the highlight of my week.

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Today, however, a group run typically just includes Atticus and me. I push a bright yellow jogging stroller through the neighborhood at a rather brisk pace while an adorable, babbling toddler kicks his legs excitedly and takes in the fresh air around him. While the social aspect has waned significantly, I do find the physical benefits of pushing a jogging stroller to be an ideal way to improve my overall fitness. These runs have quickly become the highlight of my week too!

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All joking aside, long distance running is still one of my favorite pastimes even if my priorities for the sport have shifted significantly. I still run five to six days a week, but it’s more about maintaining fitness, carving out some solitude for myself at the end of a busy day, and recognizing that this new marathon I’m running offers so much to be grateful for.

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Best of luck with weekend to all of my friends running the Houston Marathon. Weather permitting, I will run through Memorial Park with Atticus and be on the left hand side of road at the intersection on Memorial just past the Living Bridge. I look forward to cheering you on with my new training partner in tow. Have a great race. Run fast, enjoy the miles, and kick some serious asphalt!

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With a Grateful Heart

On Friday, the boys and I drove down to the Valley for a long weekend with my parents. The main purpose of our trip was to participate in the Mega Memorial 5K in Harlingen, a memorial run for a dear friend and former training partner, Meg Jorn. For a woman who dedicated most of her life to distance running, it was a touching tribute to a life tragically cut short. Family, friends, former competitors, and training partners all rallied together for a 5K race in her honor.

Race participants released purple balloons in her honor and her best friend, Dayna, read a beautiful poem and released twenty-six monarch butterflies into the clear blue sky. Moving speeches by both her husband and Dayna brought all of us to tears as we celebrated the incredible life she lived and how she had such a profound impact on her family, friends, and community.

Meg lived a “mega” life. She pushed herself professionally and athletically inspiring so many along the way. Her spirit will live on for years to come, but it does not make her loss any easier to bear. A quote on her Facebook page truly sheds light on the kind of life Meg tackled with gusto and strength, “Life is precious…..let us try not to waste it!”

Meg lived by an exceptional mantra. Life truly is an incredibly precious gift. The threads that make up the tapestry of our lives give us so much to be grateful for. In life, we never know how much time we have with the ones we love. Living each day to the fullest surrounded by the ones we love is such an amazing blessing.

Coming home this weekend allowed me the opportunity to bid adieu to a woman who taught me so much as we shared the road and miles and miles of words of encouragement, laughter, and joy sharing something we both loved- the pursuit of athleticism achieved through training and achieving PR’s. It also reminded me how important the little things truly are. Happiness is seeing your grandparents light up when they see their great-grandsons, catching up with your godmother and clinking glasses as we sip on prosecco, and witnessing the powerful love a big brother shares with his baby brother through a simple kiss and a hug.

My mother made an incredible Thanksgiving spread for us while we were home this weekend. Savory, comforting, and truly delectable, she put all of her love into the preparation and presentation. My mom is my rock, and a woman I derive so much strength and inspiration from. Who I am today is a tribute to the amazing things she has done for me all of my life to help me grow. I am truly grateful for the love, kindness, and grace she encourages me with daily, and I don’t know where I would be without her unconditional love and friendship.

Thanksgiving offers us an opportunity to pause and reflect on the profound blessings God has graced us with. Our health, happiness, family, friends, and all of the other infinitely beautiful blessings we call our own. Wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with delicious food and family and friends around your table. Even after tomorrow, let us remember that we have the opportunity to start each and every day with a grateful heart!