Monthly Archives: May 2014

5 things….in my Gym Bag

I have seen a lot of really cute posts over the past few weeks especially about ‘five things.’  This week I decided to play along!  I am at the gym a few times a week, and I do outside workouts a few times as well.  For all my workouts I pretty much have the same essentials!
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1. Running shoes – Feet are unique.  One of the few brands that actually work with my feet are New Balance.  I have been running/working out in this style for the last 14 months and they have been great! And of course I am sporting my Sweat Pink shoelaces 🙂
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2. Heart Rate Monitor – I have been a faithful HRM wearer since 2004! Wow, that is 10 years 🙂
This is the one I have now.  I have been through a few over the years but I really do like the Polar ones.
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3. Energy Bits – These little tablets have made workouts and runs so much better!  I am still amazed at how they give me so much energy, keep me alert, focused and on track.  Since I started using bits back in January, I can see a huge difference when I forget to take them or if I run out.  Thankfully this little tin is a convenient way to grab what I need and have my energy source ready for me to use.
If you have never tried bits, or would like to place an order, you can go to http://www.energybits.com/ and use code RUNCHOCOLATE for 25% off any order! (Ps, a giveaway is coming soon…so stay tuned)
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4. Injijni – A few years ago I tried the Vibram 5 finger shoes for a bit.  Although they are not a shoe I wear often, they did lead me to my all-time FAVORITE sock! They might look a little strange, but to me they are so comfy and since I began wearing them back in 2010, I have not had ANY blisters!  That is coming from the girl who had them ALL the time, even from small races!
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5.  Headbands – Since I discovered cloth headbands a few years ago there has hardly not been a day that I did not have one at at some point!  I LOVE headbands!  I have a few brands that work well with my head and the different activities I do.  From work, to the gym, to running around town to dressing up, I am a headband girl!
My fav brands are Bondi Band, BAMR Bands, Sparkly soul Inc, and MyBand headbands.
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A mix of my headbands and hair ties…I know I have more than are probably scattered around my house 😉
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A few of my FAV Bondi Bands!

There you have it!
What are 5 of your favorite things in your gym bag?
Do we have any of the same items?

Esther
-Chocolate Runner Girl-

Spicing things up ;)

A few months ago (well 6 if you are keeping track), I saw this post from Lindsay over at The Lean Green Bean!  She talked about making her own salt-free spice mix!  It got me to thinking about how there are a certain number of spices that I mix together for the foods I tend to cook the most.  Then it dawned on me that I should get some more of those spices and pre-mix the spices that I use the most.  I even had a set of these jars from Crate and Barrel just begging to be used!
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My plans got thrown a bit of track when the hubs ended up needing heart surgery, then it was the holidays, and life just happened.
I finally sat down recently and got to work!

The first step I took (after washing the jars) was painting the top with chalkboard paint! I did 2 layers of paint and let them dry for about an hour between each layer.  Then I let the jars sit overnight.
Then I decided what items I make most frequently, and what pre-made spice mixes would benefit me the greatest. I came up with chicken, guacamole, eggs, veggies, sauce (tomato), and taco.  I labeled the lids of the jars with some chalk then worked on creating my mixes.

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I am pretty simple when it comes to my cooking, so I kept my spice mixes rather simple also!
All spices are equal parts except for any salt.  That was 2-3 twists of pink Himalayan salt the grinder per jar.
As you can see my main staples are pepper, garlic and paprika!

Chicken: Minced garlic, pepper, salt, basil, paprika, thyme, rosemary, oregano. IMG_2940
Guacamole: Garlic powder, pepper, paprika, salt.
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Eggs: Pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, basil, garlic. IMG_2948
Sauce: Oregano, parsley, basil, pepper, salt, red pepper flakes, thyme, rosemary, garlic powder. IMG_2942
Taco: Cumin, pepper, red pepper, oregano, salt, garlic. IMG_2949
Veggies: Oregano, minced garlic, thyme, pepper, paprika, garlic powder.
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I have them all on a cute little turn table on my counter 🙂

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There you have it!

Do you have any tips that you use to make cooking go faster?
Esther
-Chocolate Runner Girl-

 

Long overdue…

This is probably the most belated post ever… and I apologize for that….Writing blog posts has not been my top priority….In my head I write them all in the moment, but actually sitting down to type them out is a whole different story….So here is a general RACE RECAP from a few races in March/April!

March 29 – I signed up to do a 10k with a friend.  On race morning I was not feeling it so I switched down to the 5k.  It wasn’t really that big of a deal since we didn’t even get race bibs or timing chips for the race.  It was pretty much as simplistic as you can get with a race.  I ended up running the 5k through a parking lot, over a grassy field, through neighborhoods and back again.  My friend kicked-butt while pushing a double stroller!
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The fancy start/finish line
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Before the race
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After the race, and shockingly, we got a medal (and a t-shirt, not pictured.)

Overall it was a so-so race.  Without my friend where I would not have made it through as well as I did.

April 6
The next weekend I headed to DC for the Cherry Blossom Race!  I was lucky enough to gain entry to this race via the lottery system back in November.  It was even more exciting that my family and some awesome twitter friends were ALSO going to be there!
After traveling and hanging out with my family for a few days I was ready to run.  Despite my efforts, my training did not go as planned, and so instead of doing the full 10 mile race, I opted down to the 5k!  I was really glad I did, as I know I would have been nicely picked up off the course for the 10 miles.
The race was really beautiful, and the weather was pretty much perfect.  It was chilly at the start but warmed up to perfect racing weather.  We ran around the area near the Mall, and over one of the bridges.  It was an out and back course.  I was hoping to PR this race, but was a 2 min over my best time for this year.  After the race I got to hang out with my Elfie, Lauren, (from the Elf for Health challenge), Lauren’s husband, mom & friend Kate, plus a few other twitter peeps (Patrick, Mandy, Natalie and Chelsea)! That was the true icing on the cake!! You can read about Lauren’s awesome race recap here!
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It was a great day, and I am so thankful that I was able to participate in such a great race!  I hope I can get in again next year and finally rock a 10 mile race!

April 12
I returned from DC and a few days later I headed to Austin for the Zooma race!  It involved a bit of driving since the race was not really in Austin, but a little ways outside the city.  It was held at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort which was BEAUTIFUL! I was fortunate enough to stay with some wonderful friends when I found out that the resort was totally booked.
Race day I spent more time in a car or bus than the actual race took.  I drove from my friend’s house to the airport which was where the shuttle area was (about 30 min) and then another 25 min on a bus to the resort.  Once at the race I had about 90 min to spare so I just chilled out for a while.  As it got closer to race time I put on my proper gear and took my bag to the gear check.  I walked around for a few min to loosen up my legs and get ready to run. It was a really humid day so I already knew it was not going to be a stellar race.  Add my horrible allergies to that and I was hardly able to breath!  As we rode into the resort I realized the race routes were pretty much ALL  hills! Something I certainly had not prepared for!  But I figured I would just walk when I needed to.  I am glad that I again only signed up for the 5k!  I really don’t think I could have finished the half marathon course with my allergy craziness and all those hills!
As I suspected, the race was a bit rough.  Instead of running a 3:1 ratio, it was more like a 1:3 ratio…I was a little disappointed but thankful I was able to finish!  The post race picture op and the massage helped a lot!

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Cool map and some of the race swag!
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Oh hey there Texas Longhorns!      Race bib 🙂
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Ready to run!
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So slow, but I finished.  And the medal was cool!
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Fun pic with the animals! And the post race food area.

April 15
This would have been my 8th weekend in a row with a race, but I got one week off when my race on March 8th was canceled.  So this ended up being my 6th race in a row!  It was a nice little local 5k sponsoring several local foster care agencies.  It was a beautiful day to run and I happened to run into several of my friends from the gym who were running the 10k.
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Overall I had a great run with all the races!  I got to be with some really amazing people, see how much I was able to push myself, and knock some time off my previous 5k time for 2014.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed hearing a little about my races!
In case you missed it, you can read about my must recent race here!

Esther
-Chocolate Runner Girl-

Foamthing New Race Recap

Last week I mentioned that thanks to my ambassadorship with Fit Approach, I received a free entry into the 5k Foam Fest race.
The race is designed to release in waves and I originally signed up for the 8:50 wave.  After finding out there was at least one person from my MRTT group running at 8:00, I emailed the race director and he instructed me to call Round House Racing to switch my time.  It was about a 45 second phone call to switch with no issues!

Friday night before the race I got really scared.  I have never done any sort of obstacle race before, and I was doing the race without a team so I was nervous about completing all the challenges by myself.  I talked to the hubs about it a little bit and he encouraged me to just do my best.  He also decided last minute to come with me!

We got up at 5:30 on Saturday morning.  I am still not used to that wake up time, even after doing it so many times this year for races. At least there was a really pretty sunrise!

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We drove about 45 min to the race and arrived a bit early.  The instructions said to be there an hour before your wave, so I wanted to arrive by 7, and we arrived about 6:45.  The parking was all in a large grassy field, and they were charging $10!  I am sure they made a small fortune off of parking for the race.  We had to walk for about 10 min to find the start of the race.  As we were walking we passed one of the obstacles, the Rope Wall.  I looked at it and said there was NO way I was doing that.  The hubs thought that was a good idea.

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Welcome to the FOAM FEST!

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We found the check in stations which were arranged alphabetically by last name.  I signed my waiver, picked up my race bib, pins, got my hand stamped and got my ‘I’m over 21’ bracelet.
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We walked around a little and checked out some of the activities that were available for people to do!
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I saw THIS Death Drop slide and I thought NO WAY am I doing that….
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After we walked around I decided to get my bib and fake tattoo on 🙂
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Then it was about time to start.  While I waited at the start line some of the foam started to fly away!  It was pretty funny and really captured people’s attention.
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Start Time

The 10 second countdown happened and we were off.  Right away it was really muddy and slippery so I started out slow.  I decided not to wear any of my normal race gear (heart rate monitor, GPS, phone, water belt, etc) as I had no idea what was in store for the race.  Looking back I could have worn my watch to at least see how long it took me, but my only real goal for this race was to finish!
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The course was at a motocross race track so there were LOTS of hills, and it was like a trail run with dirt, roots, narrow passages and lots of trees.
We ran for maybe .25 miles before the first obstacle. The Chamber of foam. It was a pretty simple one.  It looked like an inflatable wrestling arena filled with foam.  We had to climb up into it, cross over, and climb down.  One down.  Yes.
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Then I ran for a bit before I got to the Cargo Climb.  This was the obstacle that I thought I would NOT do as I saw it on the way in….Well I get there and figured I would at least try it.  The course description said it was 12 feet, but it looked (and felt) more like 20 feet to me.  I was half way up and this younger teenage boy came and tried to climb up super fast!  It made the entire net shake and I held on tight till he was on the other side.  He tried to slide down the other side and got stuck on the ropes.  He did not have very good race etiquette.  (I ran into him a few more times on the course and he was just really wild.  I was a little disappointed that none of the volunteers said anything about his behavior.)
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(After the race I got a few pics)

On the other side of the Cargo Climb there was a small trail to run on to the next obstacle, the Electric Mud Crawl. This was a very wet obstacle.  I was not sure how deep the water was going to be, but it was only a few feet deep.  It was COLD, but I managed to get under the ropes and shuffle my way though!
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The next obstacle was just around the bend from the mud crawl.  It was a set of Lily Pads.  I was nervous about running across these pads and was sure I was going to fall flat on my face.  There were 3 options to cross the small pond, and I wimped out and took the shortest one.
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The next mile or so was a pure trail run through the woods.  Some of it was on rough roots and parts got really narrow.  I was thankful in those moments that my wave only had about 50 people in it and there was not any congestion.  Along this path I came across the Spider Web Forest.  It was just a bunch of rope threaded back and forth between the trees.
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The next obstacle was the Trip Wire. It was a bunch of wires woven back and forth about a foot off the ground.  I attempted to speed my way through, but ended up slowing down a little bit.
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The next set of obstacles were pretty much all together with about 200 feet in between them.  They were foamy, muddy and wet!

Mikes Hard Elemenator was first.  You had to run through 3 sets 4 huge blow up lemons.  It was really slippery and hard to run very fast.
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Next came the Log Roll.  It was a huge tub of water with about 5 ‘logs’ across that you could climb over or go under.  I opted to go OVER the logs.  I did not want to put my face in the muddy water with who knows what else was in it!
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The last of the 3 that were close together was the Wall.  I think this was the hardest one for me.  It really showed me that I really need to work more on my total upper body strength.  Climbing up the first few rungs was ok, but as I got close to the top I was not sure how I was going to swing my leg over!  Then the first rung on the back side was lower than the front side which was not fun for my short legs!  I heard a few other girls talking about that as they did the other wall. Glad to know I was not alone in that!
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The last 3 obstacles were super muddy!  I am SO glad I was in the first wave! I can not imagine being in a later wave and how it was probably even more muddy and slippery!
Next up was the Slip-n-slide.  The hubs was able to get a few pics of me on this one.
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I am really attractive when I run…Ha
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Next up was Body Washer.  There was a short little run and then the hill leading up the body washer was SO slippery.  It was harder to get up the hill and down the next hill than the body washer itself.  You can see the guy (blue shirt) next to me pretty much slid down the hill.
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At this point I thought I was finished….and then I came to the LAST obstacle…the Death Drop.  I really did not think that I would ever do this obstacle.  I am not super afraid of heights, but this slide was 40 feet up!  As I passed by it the volunteer said persuaded me to try it!!! AHHH
So I got on and started climbing.  The rungs were pretty muddy from all the people before me.  Every few rungs there was a warning sign to hold on tight and use your hands to climb up!
When I got to the top it was hard to breath!  I did not know how I was going to get down!  The guy at the top was really nice and let me take a minute to settle onto the slide.  Then I laid down, crossed my arms across my chest, held my breath and went!! I almost hyperventilated on the way down!  I did not open my eyes till I was at the bottom.  Then I slid a little more on my back before I sat up and plopped into the pool of water!!!! I was SO glad to be at the bottom!  Both the hubs and the photographer said I had the best slide they had seen so far.  Others before me had sat up too early and did not make it to the end of the slide.
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FINISHED!!!

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I proudly accepted my medal!
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And I also happily accepted my Mike’s Hard Lemonade! I needed it after that course!
After I went through the finishers line and received my medal, shirt, drink and a sponge to clean off with, I got my bag from the hubs and went to change my clothes!! Changing in a port-a-potty was the most challenging obstacle of the day…haha

I am not sure of my exact time since I didn’t wear any of my gear, and the race was not timed, but a few min after I was finished I asked the hubs what time it was.  It was about 8:50.  So I did the course in close to 45 min.  I was a little shocked it was that fast!  Go me 🙂

Overall it was a well organized race, it was fun, and the order of the obstacles were done well.  A few of the obstacles looked a bit different from what I saw on the website, but I guess it all depends on the location and what they have access to.
A few other details that were different from the website was the look of the shirt and the medal and the number of obstacles.
Even though I got a shirt in a larger size than I normally wear, it did NOT fit right.  I tried it on and it was like a crop top!  Ha, I guess It will look great in my future running shirt quilt 🙂
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Added another medal to the rest of the bling from this year!
Race 13 of 33 finished!
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Besides this being a really different course for me, the race also benefited a charity that build orphanages for kids in third world countries!  That made me really happy that I was able to do something for a great cause!  If you want to find out more about A Child’s Hope Foundation check it out here.
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*Disclaimer* While I received a free entry for this race, all opinions are my own!

Have you done an obstacle course race of any kind?  What did you think?

-Chocolate Runner Girl-

Saying Goodbye to Papa…

While I was at work on May 7th, the hubs called me to let me know his father, Papa Mac, had passed away.  It was a bit of shocking news and I was really glad I could take a few minutes to process and cry by myself.  It took a few days for the arrangements to be made.  Thankfully the hubs and I both have jobs who graciously gave us the time off that we needed for traveling for the funeral.
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Last Thursday we left early in the morning and headed to San Antonio.  The traffic leaving Houston was a pain (not shocking) so we felt a little stressed with the drive.  I was able to safely make up some of the time we lost and we pulled in to town at 10am.  That gave us a few min to settle down, I had a few min to change and then the funeral home had a limo that picked us up to take us to the church.

The service was really nice.  It was wonderful to hear about how many lives Papa Mac had touched.  Through his service in the military, and as a minister for 30 years, his life impacted many others!
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After the service at the church we headed to the cemetery for the military honors burial.  It was a very formal service with the flag over the coffin, the 3 volley salute, and the playing of Taps.  It was very well done.  After the flag ceremony, they gave it to the hub’s sister along with the casings from the rifles.
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The military men were so sharp.
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Rest in peace Papa!

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Siblings

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Love this man!

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Cousin Omar, me, the hubs

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Frat brothers!

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The Family 🙂

We all then headed back to the church where Papa Mac had been a minister and all had lunch together.
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It was a emotional day and I needed a nap.  The hub’s sister graciously opened her home to us and we went back there for a bit of a break.

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Chilling at the River Walk

 

After taking one cousin to the airport, getting some rest and a little dinner we headed to meet up with some of the family who had come from California for the services.  We ended up heading down to the River Walk area of San Antonio.  We all walked around for a bit then decided to all take a horse and carriage ride.  So 15 of use all squished into a carriage and had a little ride.  I felt bad for Jake, the horse.  At the end of a long day he had to pull us all around.  As the ride went on Jake walked slower and slower.  It was a little nutty, but we had a great time and I know all the kids loved it!
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On Friday we kept it low key.  I got more sleep than usual, which was really nice.  The hubs and I just rested for the morning, then got ready to meet the family for lunch.  We met at a local place (Mrs. Kitchen) that is owned by a friend of ours!  The food is always outstanding along with the service.  Mrs. Kitchen has grown a lot over the past few years.  It was packed for lunch when we arrived about 1:15 and it stayed that way the entire 2.5 hours our family was there.
{If you are ever in the San Antonio area, I highly recommend you check out Mrs. Kitchen!}

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Come on in 🙂
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There is a wall of family pictures on one of the walls, and our wedding invite is part of the wall! We are famous 😉

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All sorts of yummy soul food!

IMG_5746This cake….Words can not explain how amazing it is!  It took me 2 days to eat this one slice!

IMG_5730We got a chance to chill for a few minutes with the owner/chef!  Garland has been a friend of the hubs since childhood!  I am so glad he was able to make his dream of owning a restaurant a reality!

After lunch we headed back to the house.  I needed a nap and a run!
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I got a small nap, and went on a walk with the hubs.  Near the end I did a little running, but it was slow, hilly and hot.

We enjoyed the rest of the evening spending some time with more family and resting.

Saturday morning we packed up the car, hung out with the family one last time and then headed back to Houston.
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We had some BBQ before we hit the road.

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My attempt at finding something I could eat at a gas station.  Too bad they were stale and tasted like cardboard….

We made it home safe and sound and both fell asleep quickly.

Papa, you are missed by all of us here left on earth, but we look forward to the day when we will see you again in heaven!

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Foamthing new!

Over the past few years I have participated in many races.  From 5ks to half marathons.  They have mostly been road races with a few trail races thrown in there.  I have been asked to do a mud or obstacle race several times…and each time I declined.  Why? Well, I am kinda really scared!  I don’t want to sign up, and then chicken out at the last minute. 
Well last week I officially signed up for a new kind of race that will be in the Houston area THIS Saturday.  Thanks to my ambassadorship with Fit Approach, my registration was free.  Here goes nothing!!
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If you live in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, or Singapore, check out the LOCATIONS to see if there is one near you!  If you are the adventurous type and want to sign up, you can use this handy code FF3548 for $5 off!!! 
Disclaimer: If my code is used enough times I may win some prizes.

National Women’s Health Week

It was brought to my attention from Emily, at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, that this week is National Women’s Health Week!  We have an entire week focused on some of the health issues that face women.  I know I am not always up to date on some of the different health issues that many women face, and I was a bit surprised myself to learn more about one specific type of cancer that is affecting women more and more.
If you are anything like me, you have seen the commercials on TV about how mesothelioma has affected many lives.  If you are like me then you have also probably noticed that the commercials highlight this as a cancer that men face as a result of exposure to asbestos.
I know I have seen the commercials over and over again, but I never really asked myself what ARE asbestos, and am I at risk?
Asbestos is the name given to a group of minerals that occur naturally in the environment as bundles of fibers that can be separated into thin, durable threads. These fibers are resistant to heat, fire, and chemicals and do not conduct electricity. For these reasons, asbestos has been used widely in many industries. (Source)

According to the National Cancer Institute, we are all exposed to asbestos.  However, those exposed to high levels, or who work or live in an environment with high or constant exposure have a much higher risk of getting ill.  People may be exposed to asbestos in their workplace, their communities, or their homes. If products containing asbestos are disturbed, tiny asbestos fibers are released into the air. When asbestos fibers are breathed in, they may get trapped in the lungs and remain there for a long time. Over time, these fibers can accumulate and cause scarring and inflammation, which can affect breathing and lead to serious health problems. (Source)

Here are a few facts that Emily shared with me about mesothelioma.
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To learn more: Mesothelioma.com

So what can YOU do?  First of all, if you feel you have had exposure to asbestos, see a medical professional and get checked out.
If you have any of the symptoms (source), it would not hurt to get checked out as well.

  • Shortness of breath, wheezing, or hoarseness.
  • A persistent cough that gets worse over time.
  • Blood in the sputum (fluid) coughed up from the lungs.
  • Pain or tightening in the chest.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Swelling of the neck or face.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Weight loss.
  • Fatigue or anemia.

THIS story about Janelle’s journey really touched my heart.  It is my hope that spreading the word will help prevent others from going through the same struggles.

Secondly, help spread the word! If we work together, we can fight and win!

For more information you can contact these agencies:

Education and Information Division
Information Resources Branch
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
4676 Columbia Parkway
Cincinnati, OH 45226
1–800–CDC–INFO (1–800–232–7636)
cdcinfo@cdc.gov
http://www.cdc.gov/niosh

Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs
Employment Standards Administration
U.S. Department of Labor
Frances Perkins Building
200 Constitution Avenue, NW.
Washington, DC 20210
1–866–692–7487 (1–866–OWCPIVR)
202–693–0040 (Federal Employees’ Compensation Program)
202–693–0038 (Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Program)
OWCP-Public@dol.gov
http://www.dol.gov/owcp

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
4770 Buford Highway, NE.
Atlanta, GA 30341
1–800–232–4636 (1–800–CDC–INFO)
1–888–232–6348 (TTY)
cdcinfo@cdc.gov
http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
EPA West Building
National Program Chemicals Division
Mail Code 7404T
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.
Washington, DC 20460
202–554–1404 (TSCA Hotline)
202–554–0551 (TTY)
1–800–368–5888 (Asbestos Ombudsman)
tsca-hotline@epa.gov
http://www.epa.gov/asbestos

Office of Information and Public Affairs
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
4330 East West Highway
Bethesda, MD 20814
1–800–638–2772
1–800–638–8270 (TTY)
http://www.cpsc.gov

Disclaimer:  I am NOT a medical professional.  The information presented above was found through my own personal research along with the fact page from Emily at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.  If you have ANY questions or concerns PLEASE see your doctor!