Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Big Boy!

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I officially do not have anymore babies in the house. It was riding the line there for a while. I mean Rhys was talking and feeding himself, not nursing and running around like a nut. But now, it's official. Ugh. I have a little boy. I mean I always had a little boy, but he was more like a baby boy to me. Now he's a boy.

Aint he cute?

Of course he's here looking at these pictures saying 'A baby!  A baby!'  Oh well.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Favorite Bread Recipes -Tips and Advice

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After many many requests for the recipes I use when I make bread I've finally posted some!  These are just a sampling of what I use.  I think I have somewhere around 5 or 6 cookbooks devoted just to bread.  I love it. Because I am not adept at moving this dumb thing around, the video on forming dough to make a nice loaf goes first.  I would add one thing to her video.  Before you put it in the pan slam it down as hard as you can on the counter, especially if you are working with whole grains.  This will rid your loaves of tunnels and holes. It helps to push out the air pockets.  You don't need to do this so much with the white loaves, just the whole grains, it seems.  

How to form a loaf

Whole Wheat Bread Recipe - 2 Loaves
This is my usual, go-to whole wheat bread recipe. I use this for sandwiches, toast, buttering and snacks for the kids. My husband just downed 5 slices here at supper. It is very good. It's even better if you can grind your own berries. But just as good with store bought flour.

6-7- cups whole wheat flour
1 T - dry yeast
2 TBS - gluten flour
2 TBS - Dough enhancer
2 cups - warm water
1/4 cup - Applesauce or vegetable oil
11/4 cup - honey
2 t – salt

Place 3 cups fresh flour (depending on desired batch size) into mixer equipped with dough hook. Add dry yeast and gluten flour. Pulse to mix well. Add water, and mix for 1 minute. Turn off mixer, cover bowl, and let dough sponge for 10 - 15 minutes. (Sponging makes lighter bread and reduces kneading time). Add applesauce (or oil) honey, and salt. Turn on mixer, and quickly add remaining flour, 1 cup at a time, until dough forms a ball and cleans the sides of the bowl. The amount of flour needed may vary. Knead 7 to 10 minutes (by hand 12-15 minutes) or until dough is smooth and elastic. Let rise in oiled bowl till doubled covered with plastic wrap. Divide in two and shape into loaves. Place in lightly oiled pans and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until double. Bake in 350 degree oven for 28 – 35 minutes

Note: If you want a lighter wheat bread, just sub 2-3 cups of white for the wheat and you have half white/half wheat bread.  Easy.

Dough Enhancer - Miserly Meals
This ingredient is essential for those 100% whole grain recipes.  You can find it at a local health food store, but it tends to be very expensive.  This is a fraction of the cost.  This is a large batch and will last you for a while.  Use one tablespoon per loaf of bread.

4 C Powdered Milk
.75 C lecithin granules
3 heaping T vitamin C powder (ascorbic acid)
2 T powdered ginger
3 T cornstarch

Mix well.  Store in airtight container.  You should be able to find vitamin C powder and lecithin granules at your health food store.  If not, Barry Farm Foods is where I get a lot of my stuff.

White Mountain Bread - The Bread Bible - Makes 2 loaves
This is a great basic white bread.  A great bread to learn how to make bread on.

.75 C warm water
1 TBS yeast
Pinch of sugar
1.5 C milk warmed
3 TBS melted butter or oil
3 TBS honey
1 TBS salt
6-6.25 C white flour/bread flour

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water till it bubbles and grows.  Combine the yeast milk, butter, honey and salt and one cup of flour.  Add remaining flour a bit at a time until it forms a ball that cleans the sides of the bowl.  If you want some therapy, bang it around a bit on the counter till your husband and children come running to the kitchen wondering if mama has gone off her rocker (that part is not in the book.) When the dough is smooth, shiny and springs back when pressed place in oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave it alone.  You just beat the tar out of the poor thing, it needs time to get over that.  About 1.5-2 hours till doubled.  Divide in two and form into two loaves.  Place in greased pans and cover with wrap.  Let rise for about 30-45 mins.  Preheat oven to 375 and bake for 40-45 mins.  Cool on wire racks.

Buttermilk Honey Bread - The Bread Bible - 2 Loaves
This is a wonderful little loaf that is great for potlucks or gifting.  It is a beautiful bread and tastes just as great!

.75 C warm water
1 TBS yeast
1 tsp sugar
1.5 C buttermilk, warmed
2 TBS melted butter
3 TBS honey
1 TBS salt
6-6.5 C white flour/bread flour

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water till it bubbles and grows.  Combine the yeast, buttermilk, butter, honey and salt and one cup of flour.  Add remaining flour a bit at a time until it forms a ball that cleans the sides of the bowl.  If you want some therapy, bang it around a bit on the counter till your husband and children come running to the kitchen wondering if mama has gone off her rocker (that part is not in the book.) When the dough is smooth, shiny and springs back when pressed place in oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave it alone.  You just beat the tar out of the poor thing, it needs time to get over that.  About 1 hour till doubled.  Divide in two and form into two loaves.  Place in greased pans and cover with wrap.  Let rise for about 30-45 mins.  Preheat oven to 375 and bake for 40-45 mins.  Cool on wire racks.  (Yeah, I copied and pasted it, but I changed the important parts.  You'd do the same thing too.)

Classic 100% Whole Wheat Bread - King Arthur Flour bag recipe - 1 loaf
*obtained from here
I've made this before and it does turn out very nice.  They sure do know what they are talking about.  

  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water*
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey, molasses, or maple syrup
  • 3 1/2 cups King Arthur Premium 100% Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast dissolved in 2 tablespoons of the water in the recipe
  • 1/4 cup Baker's Special Dry Milk or nonfat dried milk
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • *Use the greater amount in winter or in a dry climate; the lesser amount in summer or a humid climate.

1) In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir till the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple. (You may also knead this dough in an electric mixer or food processor, or in a bread machine programmed for "dough" or "manual.") Note: This dough should be soft, yet still firm enough to knead. Adjust its consistency with additional water or flour, if necessary.

2) Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl or large measuring cup, cover it, and allow the dough to rise till puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.

3) Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and shape it into an 8" log. Place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan, cover the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for about 1 to 2 hours, or till the center has crowned about 1" above the rim of the pan. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

4) Bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes, tenting it lightly with aluminum foil after 20 minutes to prevent over-browning. The finished loaf will register 190°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center.

5) Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. If desired, rub the crust with a stick of butter; this will yield a soft, flavorful crust. Cool completely before slicing. Store the bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.

Oatmeal Bread - More with Less - 2 Loaves
This is an awesome bread. My inlaws request this when they visit and is loved by most who eat it. It rises big so watch out!

Combine in large bowl:
1c. quick oats
.5c whole wheat flour
.5c brown sugar
1 TBS salt
2 TBS margarine/butter

Pour over:
2 C. boiling water
Stir in to combine.

1 TBS yeast in .5 c warm water
When batter is cooled to lukewarm, add yeast.

Stir in:
5C white flour (or as much as you can till it forms a ball and cleans the sides of the bowl.)

When dough is stiff enough to handle, turn onto flour board and knead. Place in greased bowl, cover with wrap and let rise till doubled. Punch down and let it rise again. Shape into 2 loaves and place in greased pans. Bake at 350 for 30-40 mins. Cool on rack.

  • Applesauce and oil are interchangable.  Applesauce will make your breads more moist and sweeter, so you can cut down on the sugar/honey if you'd like.  It will also make it lower in fat.  But it will dry out quicker.  I almost exclusively use canola oil, unless I want a deeper taste then I'll use olive.  You could cut out oil and applesauce all together, but the bread would stale within a day or two.
  • You can also use butter in your recipes instead of oil, which just smells heavenly when you are baking it!  
  • You can use milk instead of water in your bread recipes, which gives a nicer texture to your bread.
  • Some sugar is needed to make bread rise, the rest is just for taste.  So if you want to cut sugars, go ahead, but do use a pinch so that the yeast can react.  You will find your bread bland.  But you can reduce the amount of sugar in your bread if you'd like.
  • Sugar/honey/molasses/sucanat/brown sugar are all interchangable and combinable.  I've used honey and blackstrap molasses for a darker, deeper taste in my breads.
  • Salt is also optional.  But the bread will be very bland.  It is nice to leave it out if you are having a very salty meal.  
  • Use plastic wrap in all your rises.  It will keep your dough from forming a skin.  This has made all the difference for me in my bread making.  
  • Make sure you preheat your oven, at least 10-15 mins before you put the bread in.  
  • Rising times really depend on how warm your kitchen or rising area is.  
  • Ideas for rising: on top of the stove with the range hood light on, in the oven with it OFF and a bowl of hot water set beside it, or just on your counter top.
  • When the bread is done baking turn it out immediately from the pans and let it cool on wire racks.
  • Resist the urge to cut it prematurely.  It has to cool down at least 15 mins, or it will get weird on the ends.  
  • Oil your hands and work surface, (if you use flour the bread gets dry), I use spray oil.
A word about Wheat - obtained from here
Hard winter red wheat: This wheat is mostly grown in the Plains states as well as the northern states and Canada. It is a versatile wheat with excellent baking characteristics for pan bread. It is also used for Asian noodles, hard rolls, flat breads, general purpose flour and as an improver for blending. It is moderately high in protein (about 10.5%) which makes it good as an all-purpose or bread flour. About 40% of all of the wheat grown in the United States is hard winter red wheat. This is the usual whole wheat you find in the stores. 

Hard spring red wheat: This wheat is mostly grown in the northern states and Canada. It is considered the aristocrat of wheat when it comes to "designer" wheat foods like hearth breads, rolls, croissants, bagels and pizza crusts. It is also used as an improver in flour blends. It is one of the hardest wheats and therefore has one of the highest protein counts (13.5%). About 24% of the wheat grown in the United States is hard spring red wheat.

Soft winter red wheat: This wheat is mainly grown in the eastern states. It is a low protein wheat with excellent milling and baking characteristics for pan breads, general purpose flour and as an improver for blending. About 25% of the wheat grown in the United States is soft winter red wheat.

Hard winter white wheat: This is the newest class of U.S. wheat. It is sweeter and lighter in color that red wheat, with a protein profile similar to hard winter red wheat. It is great for making Asian noodles, whole wheat, pan breads and flat breads. Only about 1% of the wheat grown in the United States is hard winter white wheat, but it is gaining in popularity. This is what I use in my breads.

Soft spring white wheat: This type of wheat is generally grown in a few eastern states and in the Pacific Northwest and California. It is a low moisture wheat with high extraction rates that provides a whiter product for cakes and pastries. This variety is similar to soft winter red wheat with a slightly sweeter flavor. About 7% of the wheat grown in the United States is soft spring white wheat. I use this in my cookies and pastries.

A lot of my notes and advice were obtained because of solutions to problems I ran into.  Making beautiful bread is possible, but it takes practice.  I've made so many bricks in my day it's not funny.  Trust me.  If I can go from bricks to bread, so can you.  And if you want advice on what to do with bricks, see this post.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


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I'm going through withdrawal. I'm dying to step on that scale!

I took the plunge. Per some very wise persons advice, I am no longer actively dieting. I'm not logging my calories in or out. I am not weighing myself everyday. I am simply continuing healthy living. I am getting 8 hours of sleep a night (which by the way, does help to curb the appetite), I am exercising for at least 30 mins 5 times a week and I am eating healthfully. I think before I eat. If I am hungry, I eat. If it's time to eat and I'm not hungry, I'll just nibble a little bit. And I stop at the end of a meal, even if I'm still feeling hungry, but I know I've eaten enough. Usually, about 30 mins later, I feel very full. I'm still drinking my water and herbal tea. And you know what? Aside from the insatiable urge to weigh myself, I feel at peace. It's nice not having a number dictate my day. The funny thing is, I thought I'd be hungrier, actually I'm less hungry. I have no idea how many calories I'm eating, although I think I'm probably eating less, just because when I'd look at my calorie intake, I'd think "oh I need to eat more, so that I can lose weight" You know, the whole starvation thing. But I find that if I eat mindfully and eat when I'm hungry, I'm not really hungry any other part of the day. Getting more sleep has helped.

I'd like to do this for a month, then step on the scale, just to see. But there is such freedom in this. Secretly I am hoping I will lose more weight because I'm not stressing over it. They say that stress makes you store fat. I dunno, but if that's true then I can see why I've not lost weight.

We'll see how it goes. But at least this: I am more at peace and that's got to account for something!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I don't have a snappy title, can't think of one

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I never know how to title my blog posts. I've been sorely lacking on the blogging bit, so that means I've got a bursting heart right now. Bear with me. I also just woke up from a nap and my fingers don't quite remember how to type. Why is that? Gee wizz.

I am obsessed with loosing weight. I can't help it. I am. Every waking moment I think about how I can loose weight. Everything I've ever done in the past year has been so that I can loose weight. Ok, not every thing, but almost. Such as, I had surgery two weeks ago (I'll tell you about that later.) that is, indirectly, a result of going to the doc to find out why the heck am I gaining weight! It consumes my every waking hour. I cannot stop thinking about it. It's driving me mad. People I am struggling here. I've researched everything, ate less, ate more, ate more protien, less protien, more carbs, less carbs, ran more, ran even more, did weight lifting. All of those things they tell me I should be loosign weight, but I'm not. And I'm frustrated. I even went to the doc had my thyroid tested and it came back clean. In fact, my whole blood work was great. Cholestrol, blood pressure all of that stuff was great! The only thing I've learned so far from all of these experiments and tests is that to run I cannot do low carb, I need carbs to run. And that I still gain weight whether I eat more or less. But all of that doesn't matter right now, what does is that I want to stop thinking about it. It consumes me. And I don't know how to stop. I want to think about God and His word, because I love that. It fills me, it makes me feel better. Thinking about how to loose weight only makes me feel worse. Please pray for me. I write this to feel better, not because I have answers.

I had surgery 2 weeks ago. Gentlemen, if you are reading, fair warned. I have, the techinical term for it is menorrhagia, which just means I bleed too much or two often. For me, that's both. I thought it was normal, really, because I was that way ever since I've started having periods. The top end of what is considered healthy is 2 oz total in a given period. I was loosing on average 6 oz a period (I know this because the Diva cup I use has measurement marks in it. I would loose sometimes an ounce in an hour, insane). No wonder I'm always tired! No wonder it takes two iron pills in a day for me to be able to simply keep up with the house. No wonder I take two naps a day when I'm on my period. Gee wizz.  That was one of the reasons I went to my GP to find out what was going on.  Not only was I gaining weight but my period was very weird and I was tired all the time.  When she couldn't find anything out, I went to my OBGYN and she tried her bag of tricks (drugs) and that didn't work so she suggested an endometrial ablation ie, Novasure.  One of the caveats about that is, it kills your lining, so a pregnancy would be extremely dangerous to the mother and baby.  We had to make sure we were done having babies and we had decided that two years prior, just given my tendency to PPD.  Surgery went well, I took about 2 weeks off running and just got back to it the other day.  It felt good.  I'm feeling good.  I won't know for about 3 months my regular bleeding pattern, but from what I hear, some women never have another period, and some just have a few days of spotting.  I can't imagine!  Oh to dream!  So I'll keep you updated on that.

About a year ago, actually it's been longer than that, but I hadn't started until last year, I felt the Lord moving me to cover when I preach.  Lately, though (ok more like months ago) I've felt the Lord prodding me to cover every sunday.  I put it off.  (I guess it would be more accurate to say I put the Lord off.  Big no no.)  Here's why.  I like my hair.  I like going to church, it's my weekly outing.  I like doing my hair and showing off my hair at church. I'm vain.  A head covering would cover up my hair and I couldn't have my big, beautiful, model hair at church.  There, I said it.  I'm terribly vain.  But I've been whining at the Lord about wanting to preach and desiring to speak.  After He brought up the whole covering my head thing, I whined about doing it and He brought up this verse
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. Luke 16:10

Ouch.  Ok, Ok.  So I brought it up with Andrew and he is a very faithful man.  He didn't want to cross the Lord and said sure!  So there I went today with a covering.  It was humbling.  But it was good to obey the Lord.

I heard something today on the radio (yay I can get LOCAL Christian radio station now!) about pleasing the Lord.  I don't remember what they said, but it struck me.  Is what I do pleasing to God?  Does He like what I'm doing?  Do I think before I do something 'Does this please the Lord?'  Something to think about.  

And how am I doing on my goals?  Well, I'm reading my bible everyday, trying to do that asap in the AM and am doing my posts on Tammy's Blog.  I've been praying for my honey and lots of others.  You know, I love praying for others?  I REALLY feel like prayer does something.  I mean I did before, but I really do now.  I don't know if it's the bible reading or what, or maybe it's becoming more submissive or something.  At any rate, I'm enjoying that and taking it to heart!  I love these people I'm praying for and I want to see their lives changed positively!  Doing better with the kids, been thinking before I act and speak, although it's still a stretch to where I want to be, but it's on the up.  And my running?  Well I've got a ways to go.  Two weeks off is two weeks off.  It's amazing how you can spiral down in conditioning in that short time.  But it'll come back.  :)

Thanks for listening to me ramble.  I feel better now.  Please, any words of advice or prayers?  They are all welcome!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

2011 Goals

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I said I'd have them for you, so here they are.

My goals for myself, after much prayer and thought, for 2011 are:

  • In my relationship with the Lord, my goal is to read through the bible in a year, again.  I did that last year and it was so beneficial!  I learned so much!  I also am going to post every Wednesday on the reading on Tammy's blog.  See this post to learn more about what reading plan we are doing and her blog.  
  • In my relationship with my husband, my goal is to pray for him everyday, with intention.  To aid in this, I am going to use The Power of a Praying Wife.  It has short readings and a written prayer to help you pray for your husband.  I will use this, at least at first and then if I feel I've created a good base, I'll move on.  I figure if I pray for my husband I'll become the wife he needs and the Lord will work through him, rather than me nag him.
  • In my relationship with my kids, my goal is to think before I speak, speak softly and model the behavior I want to see in them.  This is a doozy for me.  I've tried to change this, but it's hard!  I've already gotten in a pattern of negative behavior and I want that to change.  
  • In my relationship with others, my goal is to pray, immediately, as someone comes to mind, or when someone asks.  One of my spiritual gifts is intercession and I do believe the Lord brings people to mind to pray for them.  I fail miserably at this.  I want to be a praying person, every moment of every day.  
  • In my relationship with myself, my goal is to speak positively to myself.  (that is so self help I can't stand it)  But I am so negative and down on myself.  The Lord doesn't talk to me like that!  And so, with that in mind, I am making a goal of being able to run a 10 min mile in my training by years end.  Because, like a dear friend said to me, I don't know what I am capable of.  
I've got my work cut out for me, but I've also got a year to do it.  Lets see how it goes!

Twilight 5K Race Report

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This is my first real race report, but my second race.  After having read some others I know what people expect, so this should be a more comprehensive report.  I actually sat down last night and typed notes out so that I wouldn't forget.  We'll see how this goes.

The Twilight Race was set to start at 4pm in the park.  This is a sports/amusement park that houses rides for the kids and a sports arena for the local baseball team.  During December they decorate for Christmas and play Christmas music as people are driving through the park looking at all the lights.  It's very nice.  It was a nice day for the end of December, around mid fourty and partly cloudy, a great day for a race.  Most of the snow and ice on roads had melted, so I wasn't worried about getting too cold or slipping on anything.  It would take us about 45 mins to get there and I wanted to arrive at 3:30 to be able to pick up my packet and prepare.  Everyone was going.  On the drive down Nadia started to complain of an upset stomach.  Oh great.  You see my daughter has gotten my husbands sensitive stomach.  And the ride down is up over a mountain and can be very windy turny.  When we got the bottom of the mountain we stopped at a gas station to get gas, snacks and water for her.  She has a tendency to look out the side window and get motion sickness.  So the rest of the ride was 'how's your tummy?  Are you going to throw up?  Look out the front window!'  It was not a good way to ride to a race.

From the time getting off the interstate to actually pulling into the park I was chiding myself "this is stupid, why am I doing this?  This is insane!  I have better things to do with my time.'  I'm not sure why I do this.  Maybe because if I'm an abysmal failure I can say to myself 'well I told you so!'  I can be my worst critic.  I must've voiced some of these ideas and Andrew scolded me 'stop second guessing yourself!'  I reminded him that he does it all the time!  The drive down wasn't a very good one.

We got there and tried to find where to pull in, there were no signs.  We parked and I ran to the registration table.  (I had loads of time, but for some reason when I am nervous I always think I'm late.  But it was some sort of warm up, I guess.)  I got my packet and headed back to the car to help Andrew.  I found out where I was supposed to start at and pinned my race bib on.  I super stoked about that.  The last one didn't have a bib, just a little tag they tore off.)  Time got close and I headed towards the back of the pack.   There were about 250-300 runners and I knew I couldn't handle a whole bunch of people passing me, I am so negative on myself.   I ended up standing beside a woman who was looking for her friend and screaming for her.  I think her name was Diana.  The race coordinator was on the loud speaker giving instructions and here this woman is yelling in my ear.  I was about to sock her.  Finally Diana came over and they were chatty, but then Diana started yelling louder than the previous woman for her husband to come over.  It was so annoying.  One of the things that I don't like about races is running alone.  I hate waiting for the 'go' or the pop to signal the start.  And I actually hate the countdown and the actual 'go' command.  It's very stressful to me.  I dunno I'm weird.  I had so many stressors pre-race, I was sure I wasn't going to do very well.

They hollared go and everyone tried to start running, but no one actually could.  We all just sort of started trotting.  I had someone hit me in my back, I'm sure not intentionally.  We eventually thinned out and got going.  I appreciated the man yelling for us to set our pace, as I was eager to bolt and get out of all those crazy people, but I didn't.  The race consisted of three loops through the park with slight grads up and down, paved the whole way, a very easy race (compared to the last one, ugh!).  I did not run the whole thing, but did run a good portion of it.  I power walked very short portions of it, just enough to recover.  I was encouraged that while running I was actually passing other runners!  I was also encouraged that while there were pros out there (with their garmins!) there were also newbies, like me.  Everyone was running, old, young, male, female.  There was even a young woman in a wheelchair being pushed by her father and brother.  They passed me.  :)  The last half mile I thought I was going to loose it in both ends.  Sorry, but I always get some sort of tummy trouble when I run.

Towards the end I passed a woman and her young daughter.  I overheard say to her daughter that her time was 28 mins (by the way I never want to run a race with Nadia for my time.  I know that would stress us both out!)  and was shocked that I was doing so well.  It gave me a boost and I huffed it even more.  I could see my family standing and wow, is that ever a booster too.  Nadia was yelling 'Go, mama, Go!  or maybe it was Run mama run!"  I can't remember, it was one of the two.  I could see the clock running up to 32 mins and being the OCD that I am, I sprinted so that I could finish at 32 mins even.  I don't know what my actual time will be, as they had trouble tearing it off, but I know what my time was. And the song I finished my run to?  The Hallelujah Chorus sung by an African American choir.  It was very fitting.  

Some things I learned:

  • when I have a late race like this, I need to almost over hydrate the time before.
  • I need to bring fruit with me for when I finish.  
  • Stop comparing myself to others!
  • Bring a friend to run with.  
It was a good race overall.  I did a personal best over my last race of 34.24.  I know it was a good race, because last night I was eager to do another one, once that one was over.  And I got a really cool shirt out of it!  Secretly, when I'd see others with racing shirts, I always wanted one, but not just buy one, no I wanted to be able to wear one with pride.  And now I can, twice!