Not Your Typical Obstacle Course: Reebok SPARTAN Race Entry Giveaway! {closed}

Have you heard of the Spartan Race?

I hadn't until last week! I'm just a simple long-distance runner but, I have to admit, it does appeal to the farm kid side of me.

Growing up on a farm is like living on an "impromptu obstacle course". What kid doesn't love to run around in the pasture, clean barn, and climb anything and everything? And then there are the less enjoyable obstacles... running into the electric fence, excessive dirt (aka manure!), and hauling square alfalfa bales that are a bit too green. Now that I'm off the farm, I push myself through running (well... and through parenting).

In whatever physical activity you do, there is a thrill in pushing yourself beyond your limits.

The Spartan Race is a hard-core obstacle course designed to do just that. They even have barbed wire! What a treat. Make the wire electric and I'm sure any farm kid would feel at home!

Dirt, fun, sweat, and no couch. What's not to love!

Spartan Race Mission

Spartan Race is on a mission to get you active, healthy, excited about change, and return to our ancient roots where running through woods, getting dirty, and facing adversity was part of everyday life. Our events are all about challenging today’s perception of normal.

Our events challenge the familiar, today’s perception of normal living and getting you out of your comfort zone! At Spartan Race, we do this everyday and it shapes everything we do.

Having experienced many different racing events, we wanted to make adventure racing more accessible to everyone, but do not be fooled by the word ‘accessible’, as our events have a challenge for everyone’s needs.

Spartan Race now introduces a level for everyone beginning with the entry level Spartan Sprint, intermediate level Super Spartan, the advanced Spartan Beast, and the ‘99.9% need not apply’ extreme level Death Race.

Whatever your level, SPARTAN RACE will test your strength, stamina, and sense of humor. (Source: SPARTAN RACE Obstacle Racing)

Learn more about the Spartan Race here.

Enter the SPARTAN RACE Entry Giveaway!

***This giveaway is now closed*** Kasparbauer Family is the free race entry winner!

Are you ready to accept the challenge and take on the SPARTAN RACE? Enter below for your free SPARTAN RACE entry!

The winner will be chosen by The deadline for the giveaway is April 8th! The winner will be notified and also be listed on this post after the giveaway closes.
  1. Leave a Comment: Which race would you enter? See event map below. (required)
  2. Follow Life to the Full on Facebook.
  3. Follow Spartan Race on Facebook.
  4. Share this Giveaway on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram.

Even if you do not win the free entry, click here for 15% off any Spartan Race!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way for this giveaway all opinions are of my own. Reebok SPARTAN Race was kind enough to offer a free race giveaway in exchange for this post!

Linking up at Fit Tip Tuesday and Healthy Tuesday.

Goal-Setting, Pizza, and a Movie

I've got a sick little boy at home today and, though I am thankful for his extra napping, I really don't like seeing him sick! Despite not feeling well, he still manages to smile for a picture... I love this kid.

During nap-time #1, I did today's 30-minute tempo run and finally crossed the 100-mile mark for #FFMarchMiles! I guess I can quit training for the race in May now... Kidding :)

Setting Finish Time Goals

While running, I was thinking about my time goal(s) for this race and the different approaches of goal-setting. Setting multiple goals works really well for me.

The A-Goal for me is a finish time where everything in training and the race would have to go perfectly; no sickness near the peak of training, no injuries, nice weather on race day, pace well during the race, and, who knows, maybe even a full night's sleep before the race!

The B-Goal is a finish time that is very realistic to hit but it gives me a little margin to work with depending on how race day goes. This approach worked really well for me in the Boston Marathon. I never could have anticipated the heat in April to be that extreme! I missed my A-goal by 13 minutes but was still a ways under the B-goal. Mainly, I was just thankful to survive!

For the Fargo Half, my A-goal is 1:30 and my B-goal is 2:00. I would like for the weather to be nice on race day, but then again, if the weather is bad, Leo may be able to watch! Well, we'll see how the rest of training goes. I'm all about setting goals but I don't want them to take the fun out of training and racing.

Oh, and I can't forget my special "P-Goal"! If we're pregnant by then, I'm going to shoot for my P-goal, which is the walk/run combo and just taking in the race atmosphere :) Leo and I ran a 10k while I was 13 weeks pregnant with E, but we had no time goal and I was feeling really good (unlike in the earlier weeks). Pregnancy and competition don't mix for me.

Back when E was still in my belly!

Do you set a specific finish time goal or just wing it on race day?

Pizza and a Movie

We won't be going to E's ECFE class tonight since he is sick. Instead we're having a homemade pizza party and our "own" baby class! Which means the usual chaos, roughhousing when dad gets home, and maybe we'll watch Eli's "SuperBook: Noah and the Ark" movie.

P.S. Making homemade pizza crust with yeast is the easiest thing ever! A friend walked me through making homemade bread and I made my first pizza crust last week. There is hope for me and my cooking skills after all!

What is your favorite kind of pizza?
Have you ever watched any of the "SuperBook" movies?

Linking up at Heart-Filled Fridays and Fat Fridays.

Who Inspires You?

Motivation Monday's topic this week is such a short and sweet question yet it has been one of the hardest ones for me to write about!

Inspiration in my life has varied in the different seasons and I wanted to pinpoint that one true Source. People who don't make excuses inspire me. My favorite books inspire me. My family inspires me. Nature inspires me. Really, when I dig down to the actual root of it, God is the One behind my inspiration.

He gives me the motivation to live for each day. There is no doubt about that. Whether it's waking up early to make breakfast for my husband and son or lacing up my shoes to run a few miles, I don't have the power within myself to be motivated each day. (Not to say I don't hit the snooze button or think up excuses for skipping a long run from time to time!)

Yes, God even cares about running! Isn't running a shallow concern? Does He care about the daily, mundane things we do? Yes, God cares about everything we do and He is the One who has given us our unique gifts and interests! My life verse is 1 Corinthians 10:31 and it says just that. Whether you eat or drink - or maybe you underwater basket-weave or run or paint or climb mountains or whatever you do - do it all for God's glory!
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 CORINTHIANS 10:31

The Best Part

This is my favorite. We don't need to be a "big deal" to glorify God! God is THE Big Deal and He can work with us just as we are. Thank God for that! I am an average person - not rich and famous or insanely popular and by no means am I a professional runner - but God still chooses to use me for His purpose and I can still glorify Him through what I do. In the past and still today, God uses simple, plain old people to accomplish His awesome plans.
Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him. It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 CORINTHIANS 1:26-31 (emphasis added by me)
Let's talk running in particular.

I started running on a whim in 2008 and running one mile down the gravel road was a big ordeal for me! I continued running, nervously entered my first 5k in 2009, tried out the 10k in 2010 and ran my first marathon that September. In 2012, I ran the Boston Marathon and was blessed to fellowship with other Christians at the pre-race prayer meeting with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Running 6 miles for the first time and then jumping to 26 miles doesn't make a ton of sense and there is no way I would have survived without God. Running long distance has brought me to places where my body had nothing left but I kept pressing on but not in my own power. That state of physical depletion is something that actually draws me to long-distance running. It is freeing to have no power left in yourself and to keep pushing on in the power God gives us.

My First Marathon: We made a quick lap around the track before hitting the trails and it didn't take too long to wipe that smile off my face!

As I said before, I am just an average person but God has blessed me with these wonderful opportunities and a passion to run. My goal is to use whatever I do in life and the opportunities He places in my life to bless other people and glorify God through that. The key is giving the credit to God and recognizing that what I do is not through my own power but solely through His.

Running is a amazing gift from God and I am thankful for the gifts and the passion that He has given me! I pray that God continually shows me how I can bless others and glorify Him each day. As the FCA Competitors Creed says;


How to Glorify God Through What You Do

  1. Keep an Eternal Perspective. Remember that your identity is in Jesus Christ, not in what you do. Running is a wonderful gift but it isn't who I am. I am a follower of Christ, wife, and mother before I am a runner.
  2. Encourage Others. Whether you are on the run or doing other daily tasks, focus on building others up. Every day can be a witness of what God is doing in your life.
    Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 THESSALONIANS 5:11
  3. Point to God. Give God credit for the wonderful things He does in your life!
    Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 CORINTHIANS 1:31
  4. Ask God for Direction. God gives us each our specific gifts to fulfill His purposes. Ask God how you can use the gifts He has blessed you with to bring Him glory. God gives us His Holy Spirit that lives in us and can give us direction through everything in life - we just need to ask!
    Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? 1 CORINTHIANS 6:19
  5. Just Be Yourself. We don't need to be a big deal, super famous, or popular to be used by God. He just needs us to be devoted to serving Him! In the past, I have felt that I am not a "good enough Christian" to share what Jesus has done in my life. That is a lie from Satan! Thank God for all of my weaknesses because they are opportunities for God's strength to shine through. Generally, I don't have the right words to say or write but I can count on the Holy Spirit to speak through me.

Who inspires you?

Enjoying the simple beauty of a gravel road

Half Training Week 3:
MON - 1-mile easy run. Didn't feel like running today, so I cut it short.
TUES - 6-mile run, 8 x 400m hill intervals
WED - DVD Workout: 30-Day Shred Level 3 and 3-mile easy run with the family.
THURS - 5.5-mile tempo run at 7:52~7:42/mile
FRI - 3-mile easy run
SAT - 10.16-mile long run. My legs felt really good throughout the whole run.
Be encouraged and bless others this week! And have a "Hat Party". E loves those...

Almost bought a giraffe today

After E's doctor appointment today, we stopped by the pharmacy and he fell in love with a stuffed giraffe. It was love at first sight! I'm usually a "saver" and impulse buys are rather unappealing. But when I saw how much E loved that giant giraffe, the crazy thought of buying it ran through my mind. That is, until I read the price tag... $99.99!?

Here's a scenario: You find a $100 bill in the middle of the street and no one claims it. Would you....
A.) Go on a really fancy date night with your spouse.
B.) Buy a fancy new pair of running shoes.
C.) Or buy a giant stuffed giraffe.

No thank you, $100 giraffe. I opted for a picture of E attacking the giraffe instead of actually taking it home. I'm so glad he didn't drool all over it or break it so we had to buy it! Leo would not be too impressed.

When we got home, I looked away for one second and E already ripped off his band-aids and decides to eat them. Kids are goofy.

What's the craziest impulse buy temptation you've ever had?
What would you do with your $100 bill found in the middle of the street?

Hills make me cry

My favorite chapter title ever: "But Exercise Makes Me Want to Cry", Chapter 8 of Lysa TerKeurst's book. I love her honesty! Doesn't everyone have one of those days (or a lot of those days) where the thought of exercise makes you want to cry?

When I first read the chapter title, I thought perhaps I couldn't relate. Running is my favorite form of exercise, but also one of my favorite past times. How could something I actually enjoy doing make me cry?

Later that day, I did my 6-mile hill interval run and it was a solid reminder. The idea of exercise itself doesn't make me cry, but certain workouts definitely do! Hill intervals are one of those workouts. I didn't exactly "cry" but the sweat rolling down my face easily could have been mistaken for tears!

Today's Hill Intervals:
1 mile: Warm-up
4 miles: of 8 x 400 m repeats (with 2% jog recovery in between) at 4% incline, 5%, 6%, 7%, 8%, 9%, 9.5%, 10%
.5 mile: Marathon Pace (8:16/mile) at 2% incline
.5 mile: Cool-down
E can't wait for his chance to run on the treadmill! Not sure what the age limit is but I'm sure he has a few years yet :)

What workouts challenge you the most?

An Undivided Heart

In Chapter 8, Lysa talks about her past excuses for not exercising, her desire for an undivided heart that is devoted to God, and why we should fight through our lame excuses. In desiring an undivided heart, Lysa said "I can either be loyal to honoring the Lord with my body or loyal to my cravings, desires, and many excuses for not exercising."

My desire is to live "all in" for God and to give Him every part of my life. I want an undivided heart with all of it available to Him. We often try to shove God into one area of our lives and we give Him our attention only on Sunday mornings or during our devotional time. How would our lives look if we gave Him everything?
Teach me Your Way, O Lord, and I will walk in Your Truth;
give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your Name.
I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify Your Name forever. PSALM 86:11-12 (emphasis added by me)
We all make excuses from time to time, whether it's choosing not to exercise, not to make healthy food choices, or not making time for God everyday. We make time for what we want to make time for.

Lysa wrote about her excuse-making, "However, if I were really honest, I'd have to admit I made time for what I wanted to make time for. I wasn't giving careful thought to my ways."

If you really want to pray and read the Bible every day, make time for it. Want to exercise every day? Make time for it. Want to make healthier meals for you and your family? Make time for it. Give careful thought to your ways. We all have the same 24-hours and we can't change that, but it is possible to form more beneficial habits by giving careful thought to your ways.

For me, making time to read the Bible and pray means a little less sleep. Making time for exercise means no time for TV. Making time to plan and cook healthy meals for my family means less time on social media. Living on one income means making more frugal choices.

Everything has a trade-off but it's worth it! Nothing beats spending my days with this little stud muffin. He's such a great helper that he even wants to help me stretch after running!

Are you working on forming any new habits or kicking any unhealthy ones?

A Reason to Write and Motivation Monday

Leo was gone for another weekend so E and I headed up north to hang out with Grandma and Grandpa. My mom was digging through some of my old papers from school and the random stories I wrote. Those old stories were quite entertaining to read!

Recently I've thought about the purpose of writing. What's the point? Is it just a waste of time? This gem is reason enough to take a little time to write, blog, or whatever it is you do to save your thoughts:

My first official journal entry written by the ten-year-old me

I had just returned from a hospital stay after a severe concussion and two skull fractures due to a horse-related accident. I remember parts of the accident vividly and other parts don't exist in my memory at all. I feel for my parents and how stressful that must have been on them!

Anyways, my point is that it's worth your time to write down your thoughts. My writing style has changed significantly since then and I mainly write Scriptures in my journal, but I'm still doing the same old thing - just writing.

When our kid(s) get older, I would love to share my random thoughts with them and, when we pass away, writing is a way for people to know you who didn't get the chance to meet you. I've been writing a journal for E to have when he gets older because I want him to know how much I love him and tell him about our time together when he was just a little man!

Do you write a journal or have you in the past?

Motivation Monday: Weight Lifting Tips

For Motivation Monday this week, we are sharing weight lifting tips. I'm not the most experienced person when it comes to weight lifting so I a sharing some lessons I've learned in running; some of which can apply to weight lifting.

Be Confident Enough to Rest.

Rest is one of the most important aspects of training and still one of the least-emphasized. This is when your body's physical adaptations are taking place. In Ryan Hall's book "Running with Joy", he wrote this about rest: "Many people are simply not confident enough to rest - I know I wasn't. Even now, when I am feeling insecure about my fitness, I press harder in workouts and on easy runs."

E is clearly confident enough to rest; I could learn a lesson or two from him!

If the Shoe Fits, Wear It.

If the shoe is a bit too tight, it's super worn out, or just doesn't fit your foot's build don't wear it! Running in the right shoes will save you some pain and frustration, prevent potential injuries, and possibly save a few toenails. The general rule is to replace your shoes every 300 to 500 miles. Honestly, I don't count my mileage that close but I pay close attention to how the shoe feels.

On this weekend's 10-miler, I had a little problem. My current shoes fit well except for one small worn spot in the back left heel that I didn't notice pre-run. These shoes definitely haven't covered 300 miles yet! That unnoticed worn spot in my shoe ended up digging a hole through my sock and into my heel. Little shoe issues turn into big issues when running long-distance.

Switch It Up.

Running the same distance, pace, or route every day gets really old and your body will have adapted to the repetitive training stimulus. Switch it up by trying a new route, doing a speed or hill interval workout, or going for a shorter or longer than usual run. Variety is the spice of exercise!

It was a little chilly this weekend and I was lacking motivation to go out for my 90-minute run. I ran by a snowed-in minimum maintenance road and decided to switch up my route a bit. Running that road reminded me of trail running (whic I miss a lot!) and kept things interesting. The 10 miles flew by!

Exercise with Purpose.

When you go out for a run or head to the gym for strength training, go with a plan and purpose. Each week, I focus on fitting in a day of hill/speed intervals, a tempo run, and a long run. Any other runs I can fit in will be easy or recovery days with strength training included. Instead of focusing on running a certain mileage or running every day possible, focus on completing key workouts and going from there.

Even though the treadmill can get a bit monotonous, I still opt to do hill and speed workouts indoors. The treadmill helps me to hit certain paces and it keeps me honest. AND we don't have any hills around here to run!

Eat Simple.

Like I mentioned last week, "friends don't let friends eat bacon before a hard run". If you find a pre-run snack or meal that sits well with your stomach, stick to it! GI distress can be a bit funny, but it won't be if it causes you to end a long run early or drop out of a race.

Keep it simple and don't go overboard on carb-loading before long runs or races. Eating a massive plate of spaghetti the night before a marathon probably won't do you any favors! For me, my eating habits stay the same and I do my best to listen to my body. If you feel more hungry during peak points of training, eat more but make healthy choices.

What exercising lessons have you learned?

Half Training Week 2:
MON - 3-mile easy run with E and the jogging stroller
TUES - 6-mile run, 8 x 400m intervals
WED - DVD Workout: Ripped in 30 Level 2 and 2-mile easy run with the jogger
THURS - 5-mile tempo run at 7:52~7:42/mile
FRI - 3-mile easy run
SAT - 10-mile long run
TOTAL MILEAGE - 29 miles

Best Tip Ever

What a week! I mean that in the best way and in a semi-exhausted way, too.

To start with the AMAZING, God has opened my eyes to a specific part of His Word and given me such a new sense of freedom! Running and training for the half is going really well. E had his first ECFE class tonight. He really seemed to enjoy himself and I got to catch up with an old friend!

For the bad, E has been trying his hand at tantrums. These tantrums aren't horrible, super-long-lasting kicking and screaming; just occasional meltdowns that have been testing both Leo and I. I thought kids were supposed to save their tantrums for the "Terrible Two's"!

The Best Running Tip Ever: Friends don't let friends eat bacon before a hard run. Today's workout was a 5-mile tempo run (7:54~7:42/mile) and I was hoping my breakfast wouldn't make a second appearance. Next week I will write about a bit more serious exercise tips :)

What is your best running tip? Or how about a parenting tip?

About that Epiphany...

My entire life I've struggled with guilt and the insecurity of not being or doing "enough". Before I was a Christian, I never felt good enough for other people. And in my new life in Christ, I have struggled with not feeling good enough for God or His grace (which, really, I'm not without Jesus!). I have been reading through 1 John 3 lately and God made verse 20 jump out of the page and grab my heart (not literally).
Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. 1 JOHN 3:18-20 (emphasis added by me)
This doesn't mean that we should ignore our conscience or rationalize our behavior, but set our hearts on God's love. God is SO MUCH GREATER than our feelings. He even knows our motives as well as our actions. God's Voice of assurance is stronger than the accusing voice of our conscience.

What this means is that when that nagging guilt of my conscience pops up, I need to remember to see myself the way God sees me. If you are in Christ, God does not condemn you (from Romans 8:1)!

After reading through 1 John 3, I feel more freedom than I ever have before. It's hard to imagine that I am a child of God and that God lavishes His love on me (from 1 John 3:1)! Instead of feeling condemned for past mistakes, sinful temptations that still pop up, or comparing our relationship with God to others, we can be free and have rest.

Because of that freedom, we are able to serve the Lord and bless others with all that we are and with full confidence, rather than being stifled by our self-condemnation.

It seems a bit strange that I named this blog "Life to the Full" yet I have been living as a slave to self-condemnation for so long, doesn't it? Then again, maybe this is God's purpose for this blog.

Honestly, if this was my last post, it will have fulfilled an amazing purpose in my life just to simply teach me what it feels like to live to the full in Christ.
"Being a Christian is not about dying to all our passions, desires, joys, and things we look forward to doing. It is about having them to the max. There is a transition period where maybe we do have to clean ourselves from unhealthy desires, passions, etc., but in the end we are supposed to have the most fulfilled life here on earth that we could dream of. We are supposed to be alive, fully alive, in Christ." Ryan Hall in "Running with Joy"
Have you ever had an epiphany that totally changed the way you see life?

Things You Should Try This Weekend!

Try this combo for a snack: Greek yogurt + homemade granola = amazing

Attempt a coffee date with a baby: Fruit & Veggie treats for E and a coffee for me :) About 30 minutes later he had a mini-meltdown in Target. Yay!

Explore the nearest sidewalk: The mundane things (like rocks) in life are so fascinating to E! I adore his passion for life.

Give cous cous a chance: "Cous cous" is that rice-looking stuff. A girlfriend recommended that I try it and it's so good! Usually I make a lot of brown rice, so this has been a pleasant change.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Linking up at #FellowshipFridays13.

Making Progress

This week we're sharing our progress for Motivation Monday and I also want to share the progress God is making in my heart.

God is always answering prayers and half the time I'm not even aware of it! My prayer recently has been that God would search me and point out anything in me that offends Him (from Psalm 139:23-24). This weekend, He pointed out that pride is a struggle for me.

Pride is a vicious cycle. It's everywhere and the cycle needs to stop here and now. I've noticed that I am most tempted to feel prideful when I'm feeling hurt or defensive. How true is that? When I feel secure in who I am in Christ and when I see myself the way God sees me, I want to encourage other people and lift them up. When I feel beaten down and am wallowing in self-pity, my sinful nature wants to make others feel bad with me. Bleh, it just feels bad to even write that.

My old habit was to store up all of the negative comments about how easy it is to have only one child (yet some days I want to pull my hair out), how I just stay at home all day (why am I so tired from doing "nothing"?), and just you wait 'til you have teens (let me survive the toddler years first!). Why do I store such garbage in my heart!? I need to take these thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Feeling prideful or cutting down other people doesn't do any good; it just adds to the vicious pride cycle. When their feelings are hurt, they may go on to hurt someone else. Rather it should be an encouragement cycle.

This week, I'm focusing on humility because Jesus was the champion of being humble and we are to walk like Jesus did! In the past I have had an incorrect understanding of humility, thinking that I need to belittle myself or think lowly of who I am to be humble. To be humble means to be conscious of our weaknesses and inadequacies and quick to give credit to God and others for what we accomplish.

Today I'm focusing on following the perfect example of humility - Jesus.
Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did. 1 JOHN 2:6
What has God been teaching you lately?
Is pride one of your personal struggles?

Motivation Monday: Progress Pictures

Below is a picture from the end of my pregnancy with E and then a picture of him and I, just a little over one year later!

My main goal is to take care of my body and be a healthy example for my family. As far as weight goes, I weigh a little less than I did pre-pregnancy probably because my daily lifestyle has changed so significantly since then. My 8-hour days at a desk have been traded for chasing a munchkin and working at home! That has been a good change for me, as I've never been good at sitting still for long.

End of February 2013 and early March 2014

Progress pictures are a new thing for me, though I have to say it is fun to look back and see the changes over the last year!

Have you taken "progress pictures" before?

Heat Wave!

The weather this weekend (and so far this week) has been gorgeous! We had a weekend with family full of skiing, hanging out, and good food. For the 90-minute long run this weekend, my sis-in-law joined me for 5 miles and then I finished the run with an additional 5-miles. The run went really well and we even ran some of the mileage on snowmobile trails. Our hotel didn't have much for sidewalks or many road options to run on, so we got creative. Running on the snowmobile trails was a great leg stability exercise!

Running on the snowmobile trails, finishing the last few solo miles.

The best part about training for a half marathon rather than a full? After a 10-mile long run, I would have only 3.1 miles to go until the finish line. Now that's a good feeling!

Leo and I on our "ski date" while E was with grandma and grandpa. Leo is a much better skier than me, but he graciously put up with me wanting to go down all of the easiest slopes first.

Grandma and E in the chalet

Some crazy snowboarders! (a.k.a. my brother's girlfriend, sister-in-law, brother #1, and brother #2)

The baby who didn't want to sleep. EVER. Like the faux hawk? :)

How was your weekend?

Half Training Week 1: (For any of you training geeks out there like me! I get my kicks from tracking mileage)
MON - 3-mile easy run and strength training
TUES - 5-mile run, 7 x hill intervals
WED - DVD Workout: Ripped in 30 Level 3
THURS - 3.67-mile tempo run at 7:54/mile
FRI - 3-mile easy run
SAT - 10-mile long run
TOTAL MILEAGE - 24.67 miles

Linking up at Walking Redeemed.

Greener Grass and Half Training

Do you ever have that feeling that everyone has life figured out except you?

Today I was thinking of that quote, "the grass is always greener on the other side". Isn't that the truth!

God has been showing me lately that the grass isn't always greener on the other side. So often in life it seems like everyone has it all together except for me.

He's shown me that everyone is struggling with something. We're bound to have struggles as long as we're on this earth. So often we strive for perfection, but perfection is only available in Heaven! I've felt convicted about putting on the happy facade myself. Generally I'm a smiley, happy person; I even tend to wear a smile when I'm not-so-happy or just downright upset. A smile works as a mask at times.

Maybe God wants me to share my struggles more often. Now I'm not talking about totally unloading my personal life trials on the random person behind me in line at Walmart! By sharing the struggles in my life and what God is teaching me through them, I may be able to help other people who have the same struggles. The key is following the Holy Spirit's lead when He prompts me to share.

Just some thoughts... It's not that I fake a smile on purpose, it's my default. When I am feeling really down, I try to remind myself where God has taken me from. He never gave up on me when I was completely running in the opposite direction and had no regard for Him. That's enough to make a person smile.

I have to remind myself the worst day as a Christian is infinitely better than any day I had before I knew Jesus (see Psalm 84:10). Now I have hope and purpose. Before Jesus saved me, I had nothing.

We have been praying for Baby #2 for about five months and at times I feel hopeless, like God doesn't hear my prayers. The truth is that He DOES hear my prayers and He actually knows my heart better than I do! God is aware of our needs, troubles, and suffering. He even has a plan for our care, forgiveness, and spiritual growth. That is truly comforting and is really something to smile about! My prayer today is from Psalm 139:
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
PSALM 139:23-24
What or who encourages you on the hard days?

Half Training Week 1

This week, I started training for the half marathon in May. While training for this race, I'm focusing on training with more intensity, more purposeful running and not having as much "junk mileage". Even for the past full marathons, I have really lacked hill training and tempo runs. Fargo is a very flat course, but hill training can do wonders for any race.

Rather than just cutting my last full marathon plan in half, I figured I would go with Hal Higdon's Advanced Half Marathon training plan for this race. Heck, it's even free! This is my slight re-mix of the Higdon plan:

MON: 3-mile easy run + Strength

TUES: Hill or Speed Intervals

WED: DVD Workout ("Ripped in 30"), optional 3-mile easy run

THURS: Tempo Run for time

FRI: Regular or Race Pace Run

SAT: Long Run - the longest run I will do is only 2 hours long! That's definitely a perk compared to the full marathon's 20-milers.

SUN: Rest on the Sabbath
It feels good to be back in a semi-structured "training mode"!

Compression socks are probably the most awesome piece of running gear ever. I wear them too much: some may think I'm a ninja. Clearly my SmartWool socks are my super-favorite because of the annoyingly large hole in the toe :( Also - notice a couple of E's farming birthday presents creeping in the picture!

Do you have any races planned for 2014?
What is your favorite piece of workout gear?

This Week

Of course I have a few random pictures to share! It's been another joyously cold week, but I'm looking on the bright side. Only 10 weeks til the Fargo Half Marathon, which means 10 weeks until it's MAY and possibly even summer-like weather!

I've been baking again... Leo has been requesting cookie bars lately, so I made him a "healthier" version of Six-Layer bars. These are basically just peanut butter and banana granola bars with coconut and chocolate chips on top. That sure beats the sweetened condensed milk recipe!

I love these boys. I can't believe we have a one-year-old now!

(Warning: Don't read this if you are a hair stylist) I cut my own hair last week and it worked out fairly well. Thankfully, curly/wavy hair is forgiving. I followed this post: 5 DIY haircuts to try today . Obviously I'm not a hair-cutting expert, but it saves $$ when all I want is a slight trim anyways.

Someone is on the prowl for trouble!

Have a great weekend!

One Special Day!

Today is a very special day. One year ago, E made his surprise arrival into this world!

I am much more calm today than I was a year ago (probably because I didn't just give birth today). E was due on April 6th, but decided he couldn't wait any longer.

Having E five weeks early was a scary experience, but God was watching over him (and us) every step of the way. He was born at only 4 lbs. 14.5 oz. and the doctors were amazed when he passed all of the post-delivery tests with flying colors! I was so thankful they didn't send him off to the nearest NICU, one hour away.

Apparently he is still an impatient boy because he woke up at 1:00 am today to remind me that it was his birthday, ate breakfast with Leo and I at 6:30, and now the birthday boy is sleeping in. That means it's mommy's chance to write!

Motivation Monday

Today's Motivation Monday topic is "Top Ten Weight Loss Tips". I really don't have too many weight loss tips, but I will share with you what "healthy tips" works for me!

1. Set Specific Goals.

Races are a great motivator. I'm a goal-setting type of person; goals and deadlines get me moving! I started training for the May half marathon on Saturday and I am using the Hal Higdon Advanced Half Marathon plan.

I'm new to the world of "online challenges" but have found those are great motivators, too! FitFluential had a 1,000 Burpee Challenge in February and now they started the #FFMarchMiles Challenge. Here we go for 100 #FFMarchMiles!

2. Drink More Water!

This one seems simple, but it's not always easy! Simply drinking more water during the day makes it easier for me to make healthy food choices and I just feel better in general!

3. Rest.

Sleep doesn't always come easy, especially with little ones in the house. On top of that, I'm not very good at taking naps myself. If your body feels rundown, take a rest day instead of working out. Pushing your body when it's completely shot will do more harm than good.

4. Check Your Motives.

Think about your motives for eating. Are you a stress or emotional eater? Is it tempting to use food as a comfort, reward, or trying to fill a personal void of some sort? At times, I have caught myself wanting to use food to fill a void that only God can! I want to have a healthy relationship with food by eating to nourish my body and to simply enjoy eating (God made food tasty for a reason!).

5. Birthday Treats

When you are having a birthday party that happens to involve cute little cupcakes and six-layer bars, send some treats home with the guests. I enjoy sweets way too much to have the leftovers sitting around and E doesn't seem to like sweets as much as mom does!

What are your top healthy tips?

Happy Birthday, E!

We had an early birthday party with a few friends on Saturday and it was a blast! This weekend we will celebrate his be-lated birthday with my side of the family. Two birthday parties for a one-year-old?! Lucky boy... maybe we just want more excuses to eat cake!

The first year of parenthood has flown by! E is such an amazing blessing to us and God is using him to shape our character in big ways. We thank God for this crazy little boy :)

E's birthday cupcakes

His eyes got really big when he saw that candle! E wanted to touch the flame more than eat the cupcake. Boys... 

Happy Birthday, E!