Sunday, December 30, 2012

Old time photos

We are in Branson for a few days of R&R. Unfortunately, there is no rest for a group fitness instructor as we have the month of launches coming up soon. So Zumba, Body Flow and Body Pump DVDs all came with me as well as my barbell set. Yes my dear husband was thrilled when I walked out with that at the last minute. But hey I need ton prepared for the onslaught of new people who will be attending my classes in January.

Day 1 in Branson was nice and relaxing. After my workout was completed we wet to the pool for a while. No, I didn't get in. Still haven't been in the water since August 26....uh-oh. Later we spent some time at the arcade playing laser tag and various other games followed by dinner at Montana Mike's Steakhouse. We went to the Clay Cooper show that night. My girls were not thrilled as they are not country fans but the show was more of a variety show than anything and very entertaining.
On Sunday we visited two different wineries. At Mt. Pleasant winery, I found an apron I wanted to buy which said "Zero to Naked in 1.5 bottles". I would have bought it but..... It was an apron. What would I do with that??? Seriously
Maybe it pertains to me. Maybe not. 

For the afternoon we went to the Landing for shopping. We had many laughs at the Old Time Photo shop I'll post pictures later once I get the pictures uploaded. Instead you'll have to enjoy this lame picture I took of Abby and I before getting out of our old time clothes.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


From our home to yours.....

2012 - What a year!
Wishing you the Merriest Christmas and hopes for the happiest of the new year. Bring on 2013!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Traditions

Sometimes I like to shock the world. Every once in a while I can be domestic. I know it's hard to believe, but when given the right inspiration I can bake.

I found a recipe on Pinterest (with my 504 followers just so you know) for Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cheesecake. When I pulled out my spring form pan, Samantha was confounded. Obviously, in her 17 years of life, I have not used this archaic tool for baking frequently.

Peppermint Cheesecake
My dear husband says I just need the right motivation. So he mixed my motivation up in a brown jug: Peppermint White Russian.

Said MOTIVATION in a bottle
Now I know some people need alcohol to help them through the holidays due to too much family time; however, I truly love spending time with my family. Mainly because they make me laugh so hard I end up with tears streaming down my face. 

Sandy & Ruth
When I was younger, my sisters were stuck with me at various times and believe me I'm sure I was not always a pleasure to have around. I was one year old when my oldest sister, Ruth, got married and her daughter was one of my best friends growing up. Now that I am older my relationships with my sisters are so incredible. I feel as if I carry a piece of each one of them inside of me. They helped to form me into the person I am today. My sister, Ruth, has an incredible gift of laughter. My sister, Sandy, taught me the gift of conversation. My mom used to say she could talk to anybody. My sister, Sus, taught me about the gift of true friendship. I can spend hours in silence or deep heartfelt discussions with her. My sister, Pam, taught me the about true love and acts of service. Pam married her high school sweetheart and she's still madly in love with him. I love watching the two of them together. It fills my heart with joy. My sister, Dera, is the one I have been close to throughout my entire life. We've shared so many stories and cried so many tears together. When her life changed, my life changed.

Corey learning about Santa. Don't ask. 
Sometimes people are shocked when I tell them I am the 8th child of 9. Coming from a large family, the holidays have always been hectic and crazy. When I was young, Christmas Eve was the one night when we all try to be together. My dad would order the $5 pizzas from Little Caesar's. In order to work it all off, we'd all go to the basement and play ping pong.

Run, Run as fast as you can GO!

We'd usually start out with a round robin tournament until someone realized they got stuck with the "bad" player. After a few rounds, we'd switch to Run Around the Table Ping Pong playing round after round until we were down to the final two. Then the competition got serious.

Fortunately, the tradition of Cheap Pizza and Mean Ping Pong still continues with my family. Only now we meet at my sister, Sus', house and like this year it's not always on Christmas Eve. Jeff spends the evening talking with my brothers-in-law and I spend my time catching up with my sisters, nieces and nephews. On the way home, we swap stories catching each other up on all of the family news and highlights.

No matter what I am thrilled to spend time with the people who know me best and love me the most. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Issues in my life

I have issues. 

No really. I do. 

Jeff tells me about it all of the time. I'm not trying to be difficult - in this case. I'm just a little oblivious sometimes. I really thought he was making it up until I saw these pictures from IMLOU.

Once you see it, you actually have to believe it. Oh. My. Gosh. I am pathetic.

YEP, This is me.

Pretty much, I could be the entire graphic. I have helmet issues. New goal for 2013: PUT YOUR HELMET ON STRAIGHT. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's Launch Time!

January is again the month of launches.

January 5th at Tremont Parks & Recreation Center.
January 12th at Illinois Central College.
January 19th at Parkside Athletics.

Time to study, but look who made the ICC Launch poster.
OK, I am a little bit blurry, but I am there!

ICC Launch

And yes my dear husband is thrilled that I am taking a barbell set on our mini vacation. Thanks hon!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Benefits of Cross Training

"Everyone has limits on the time they can devote to exercise, and cross-training simply gives you the best return on your investment balanced fitness with minimum injury risk and maximum fun." - Paula Newby-Fraser

When I look back at my incredible day at IMLOU, I can attribute my success to one thing: CROSS TRAINING. During the training period leading up to race day, I taught 3 classes a week each of Body Flow and Body Pump as well as 2 classes of ZUMBA. Some days my legs were so tired I didn't think I'd make it through my workouts. Instead I had to rely on my mental toughness to find a way to get through the endless hours of exercise. Could that be another form of cross training? Well, I definitely think it helped to prepare me for my Ironman.

Now that we are in off season it's time to discuss some serious cross training. Not only does cross training help prevent injuries, it also rejuvenates you allowing you to focus on some activities which are actually fun. By focusing on activities which do not feel like work, your motivation can soar according to an article by Runner's World.

The goal of Strength Training? Muscle definition
We can all benefit from some strength training especially during the off season which is why I love teaching Body Pump. Ladies!!! I don't want to hear it! Strength training is not going to turn you into a bulky body builder. You do not have the testosterone for it. Building lean muscle mass will make you a stronger swimmer, cyclist or runner and rev up your metabolism. Can't make it to the gym to attend a Pump class? Try this cross training program for cyclists. Google cross training programs. You have tons of resources at your finger tips.

In addition to strength training, I believe yoga and stretching are keys to your fitness. So many times I watch runners finish their daily training and then plop their butts down on the nearest seat. My muscles tighten up just watching! Instead use a stretching program to wind down your heart rate as well as trying to lengthen your muscles. I always tell my Body Flow classes we have to do our hamstring stretches in order to prevent us from shuffling as we enter old age. We want to take nice, long confidant strides in order to get from point A to point B.

Strength training and stretching are just two options for cross training. If you are tired of running, take up cross country skiing. If you are tired of cycling, start a pick up league for basketball or volleyball. Just be active and challenge your body in a new way.

You won't be sorry.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

2013 Race Calendar

My 2013 Race Calendar is quickly filling up. I believe someone once said running is our cheapest sport. Well, they haven't met me. For some reason, I like the most expensive races the most!!
Ugh - morning eyes! Wake up!!!!

May - Indy Mini-Marathon (4th), Peoria St. Jude Marathon (19th?? - If I have my ducks in a row since Samantha will be graduating on this afternoon as well.)

June - Tri-Shark (1st), Tremont Turkey Festival 5k (8th), Tremont Sprint Triathlon (22nd)

July - Ironman Muncie 70.3 (13th)

August - Disneyland Half Marathon (TBA)

September - Pumpkin Classic (14th)

October - Chicago Marathon (13th - Time for a little birthday celebration!)

November - Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon (9th - completing my coast to coast bucket list item)

I'm sure this will need to be updated. It seems I'm on a roll this week with registering for races. I seem to think I need to do them all this year!

Let's start training!!!!

Monday, December 3, 2012

More Christmas Cheer

Tonight we attended the high school band and choral concert. I'm so proud of my daughters who have musical talent whereas I have none. Don't even ask me to read a sheet of music. I couldn't tell the difference between a treble cleft and a....what other note is there??

You can't see Samantha here because she's on the far left and this video was shot by another set of parents. This is the madrigals group singing at the concert. The Madrigals dinner is in just a few weeks. I can't wait.

A little Christmas cheer

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....even though we are just past the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. We spent Thanksgiving in my hometown with the people who love me best:- my sisters, their children and grandchildren. Thanksgiving at its finest. A day spent with family.

For our Thanksgiving dinner, everyone contributes at least one dish. After my sister sent me the menu listing items such as: Corn, rolls, Oreo bites, apple crisp, devil eggs, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, Oreo dessert, rice Krispy treats, pizza casserole, taco roll ups, mash potatoes, cheesy potatoes, taco salad, noodles, and broccoli cheese rice casserole, i knew I was in trouble. When I read the Dishes off to Jeff, he said "And you wonder why diabetes runs in your family?" Haha ding ding ding. Ya think???

Butternut Squash
It was at that very moment when I knew my inner Martha had to come out. 90% of the food being brought for Thanksgiving was carb laden. What's a diabetic to do? I decided to make a butternut squash dish to provide some type of vegetable dish for the meal.

Smoked Turkey by Jeff
Thanksgiving morning started early with Jeff smoking the turkey out on the driveway. A delicious 18 pound turkey surrounded by lots of carbs and a token vegetable? Oh well. Once the meal was over, we spent most of the pouring over the ads looking for the best deals. By 7:30, we were on the road to our first stop: Wal-mart. We shopped and shopped. We even ate at Bakers Square about 3 am. I'm pretty sure the last time I ate at Bakers Square I was traveling with the WIU volleyball team. It was nice to eat at the restaurant without meal restrictions!

Samantha and Breah
We started our evening waiting in line for almost two hours so Breah could get an iPad. The Wal-Mart employees couldn't believe it when 5 of us walked by without collecting an iPad, but what's the point in having one person stand in line alone? We had lots of fun talking with each other as well meeting the other suckers people in line. We even sent Samantha out on mini-missions to find items for the people waiting behind us. Need a movie? We'll send Sam to go get it. She doesn't have anything else to do except spend my money!! We finally wrapped up our holiday shopping at 7 a.m. - tired and ready for a nap.

The front entry with our small tree
As is our tradition, we decorated the house for Christmas over the Thanksgiving weekend. The last few years I've been a bit of SCROOGE when it comes to decorating. Not because I don't enjoy Christmas, but because it takes a whole weekend and no one wants to help. This year, however, Abby was excited to help and I explained to Samantha and Annelise that if they wanted presents with their names on them under the tree they needed to help as well.

I saw Santa Claus!
We usually put up at least two trees on the main floor as well as two smaller ones upstairs. This year I explained to Abby that I wanted to have our big tree in the living room to look elegant. Abby responded by saying, "I don't want it to look elegant. I want it to look like us." What did that mean? Well according to her, she likes randomly placing the ornaments mixing colors and themes...and so that's what we did.

Our living room tree - meant to look like us - disheveled? 
Each year I give the girls an ornament which represents something significant which  has happened in their lives in the last year. Opening each ornament box is like reliving 19 years of memories beginning with the "Our First Christmas Together" ornaments, to "Baby's First Christmas", to the cell phone ornament which we purchased as a way to let Samantha know we were finally going to let her have a cell phone. While I had fun reliving the memories, I was also saddened to think that someday soon Samantha would probably have her own apartment, her own tree to decorate and take some of those memories with her. That was always the plan, but having the date loom closer and closer does make it all a little bittersweet. 

But in the end, I have to remind myself that we have one more Christmas together before she goes off to college which means another opportunity to create new memories. As our lives evolve, I cherish the little moments with my girls more and more knowing that someday they will venturing out on their own to create their own family memories.   

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Jingle Bell Run

One of my goals for 2013 is to do some races which would take me out of the normal racing box. I have several wish list races I'd like to do. One of the races I've wanted to do for the past few years is the annual Jingle Bell Run for the Arthritis Foundation.

I have a friend who suffers with rheumatoid arthritis. Over the years her joints have fused together making mobility and exercising in general very difficult; however, you'd rarely hear her complain. She's a co-owner of my favorite hang out joint, Perdue's. I wanted to participate in the Jingle Bell Run in honor of my friend, Tracy, but I needed to wait and see what my teaching schedule for December would be.

The quick change in the car
As luck would have it, I was scheduled to teach Flow at 8 am. With luck and good traffic, I could get downtown to the Riverplex in plenty of time to find a parking space and meet up with my T3 teammates. So I registered for the Jingle Bell Run on Monday evening.

T3 Members at the Jingle Bell Run
T3 registered as a team for the run. As a part of the team registration fee, we received some awesome red and white striped socks. With a quick change in the car (hahaha don't tell anyone), I was ready for the run. I met up with the T3 team looking for someone to run with. I figured the Jingle Bell Run was a fun event and a chance for me to run with my T3 family.

Lots of Santa's helpers waiting for the race to start
The event had approximately 1,300 runners with a goal of raising $90,000 for the Arthritis Foundation. I haven't heard the final numbers yet to see if we met that goal.
TMS Running Club
In addition, the Tremont Middle School Running Club had about 20 participants running in the event. Parents, siblings and teachers lined the route cheering on the middle school runners as they started to enjoy the sport of running.

Jen crossing the finish line
I ran the race with my friend, Jen, hoping we'd put her on the path to a PR; however, I think we spent way too much time talking and enjoy the 60 degree weather. It was a beautiful day to be outside running. When we came to the final half mile, I told Jen to find a rabbit and chase him down. I took off after mine which enabled me to capture a picture of Jen crossing the finish line.

Crystal pushing to the finish 
Jen and I waited and cheered on the rest of the T3 members as well as the middle school runners. Everyone seemed to really enjoy being outside - and running without 5 layers of clothes. Instead, I was almost too hot in the long sleeved shirt and vest I decided to wear. Unfortunately, neither Jen or I achieved a PR; however, we enjoyed the fabulous December weather and raising money for a great cause.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


As I sat here this morning reading the Disney Park Blog, guess what headline captured my attention??? Yes, it involved my tall, dark and beefy handsome Gaston who walks with a swagger full of his own self confidence.

Gaston: You Stud!
The New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom previewed yesterday. One of the new locations is Gaston's Tavern in Belle's Village. Belle did tell me when we met that if I still wanted to see Gaston with his lack of brains and good character I could find him at Magic Kingdom, but I did not make it over there to see him. I guess I will have to add seeing Gaston to my Disney Bucket list for our next trip to the happiest place in the world! And really, I can just put some duct tape over his mouth so I don't have to listen to what he says. I just need to see him.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Wine & Dine Half Marathon

When I first started running in races, I never imagined that I would enjoy running amonst 15,000-35,000 people. However, one of the biggest advantages of  participating in a large event is the expo. Not only do you get to sample various products, you also get to see what are the latest and greatest products on the market. 
Wine & Dine Expo
One of my missions for this expo was to replace my iFitness race belt since mine died this summer during IMLOU training. The expo is a great place to check out compression socks, recover drinks and purchase lost of funny t-shirts. I found one shirt I wanted to purchase for Abby. The logo for the company was "Where we celebrate the athlete in every Princess". I love it! Who says a girl can't be strong and feminine all at the same time? The shirt said "I run Fairy Fast" and had pixie dust on it.  It seemed perfect for my little mini-me.

Coast to Coast
At the RunDisney booth, I got to see the Coast to Coast Medal in person. Did I ever tell you I pick my races based on the bling? If they have a cool t-shirt or awesome medal, you can count me in!! How many people could say they have a medal with Walt Disney & Mickey Mouse on it? According to my Fitness Bucket List, my goal was to complete Disney's Coast to Coast Challenge in 2014. Now I started to feel the desire to move that goal up on the list...and it would only get tougher throughout the weekend.

Catching the bus
 The biggest disadvantage of a Disney race is the logistics of getting all of the runners to the start line. Due to obvious safety concerns, cars are not allowed back at the ESPN Complex where the Wine & Dine Half Marathon begins.The only way to get to the ESPN Complex is to take a bus from EPCOT or one of the designated resorts. The buses only run from 6-7 pm which means lots of time standing around waiting for the start of the the race.

The DJ kept everyone dancing and grooving during the wait.
Fortunately, even though we had a 3 hours wait until the start of the event, the Disney DJ was outstanding getting every to dance and move during the long wait. Electric slide, conga lines and even a Thriller dance to help pass the time.

Jeff & I before the race
Since we had plenty of time before the start of the race, we took advantage of the time to get plenty of pictures. Yes, I started out the evening bundled up since the temperatures were only in the mid-60s and obviously no sunshine for a night race.

Chef Mickey
We waited OVER two hours to Mickey Mouse, but how could you come to Mickey's house and not see him? Waiting in line - standing - for two hours may not have been the best decision. Most race insiders would suggest standing on your feet for almost 3 hours prior to a race is not a good idea; however, we all knew we weren't going for a PR. This race was about fun, friends and the after party!

Iron Family
For some reason, I didn't see many Ironman tattoos at this event. As a matter of fact, other than mine and Cheryl's I actually didn't see any!

Signs you are at the Wine & Dine Festival
Instead of Ironman tattoos, I did see someone trying to sleep off her wine. Hahah. So glad I'm way smarter than that...finally.

Ready to Race
We finally made our way to our corral. Luckily, all four of us were in Corral B together...Well, actually Cheryl was in Corral A because she's awesome like that, but she chose to start with us instead. The corrals started 10 minutes apart each with their own set of fireworks. How awesome is that? You've got to love Disney.
2012 Wine & Dine Race Route
The official race description from
Start at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex running down Victory Way and then west on Osceola Parkway toward Disney's Animal Kingdom® Theme Park. Make your way past the Tree of Life, Expedition Everest™, Dinosaur® and then race back to Osceola Parkway and head toward Disney's Hollywood Studios. You will enter the park in the shadow of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™, run down Sunset Boulevard through Pixar Place, past Toy Story Mania!, then through the Costuming Tunnel in the Backlot on your way to Lights Motor Action! for your big debut! Race through the Streets of America, past Star Tours and Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular on your way to Epcot®! The course will wind through the idyllic village of Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resorts and lead you to a finish just outside of Epcot®!

First stop at Animal Kingdom
As we entered the Animal Kingdom, we run through rows of dinosaur teeth which stood 7-8 feet tall. Soon after entering the park, we made our first character stop. Who could pass up sharing the wisdom of Rafiki and the silliness of Terk? I know I couldn't. Why do I have a shoe off? Oh yah, that's the other reason we had to stop. I had a small pebble which kept shifting around in my shoe and it was just enough to be annoying. A quick shake and we were back on the course.

Merry Christmas!!

It may be November 10th, but Frosty the Snowman was the only sign I saw of snow all weekend. Once we started running, I was glad I shed all of my longer layers. Heck, Cindy & Cheryl even wore capri length running apparel, but not me. I can't stand to have my legs covered when I am working out. They need to breathe!

Our main man..err, dog, Pluto
A quick shot with Pluto was our 2nd stop. Luckily, the lines were not long. The only character we wound up skipping was the very first one with Goofy because that line seemed extremely long and not worth the wait.

The Fairy Godmothers
As we left Animal Kingdom, we stopped to take a picture with Sleeping Beauty's Fairy Godmothers. I know we've all wished we could have our fairy godmother at one time or another. Someone who could grant you your every heart's desire. Unfortunately, they didn't seem able to help me with my greatest wish. So I guess I will have to continue to plot and scheme instead.

Chip & Dale
On the way toward Disney's Hollywood Studios, I thought I heard someone say, "It's Chippendale". I was so excited!! I thought I was finally going to get to see my Gaston, but alas...what they actually said was, "It's Chip...and Dale." I was a little bummed, but found a way to put a smile on my face for the picture.

Green Army Guy
The Green Army Guy was waiting for us as we ran up the final hill before entering Disney's Hollywood Studios. Using his military methodology, he motivated runners to "take the hill".

Are we passing muster? 
I look like I'm sticking my chest out for the camera, but really I was only following orders: "Chin Up! Chest Out!" He should have reminded me to suck my gut in as well. Grrr....

Whenever we take the kids to Disney, we always know if you want to see characters Disney's Hollywood Studios is the place to go. Naturally, the park did not disappoint during the half marathon either. Our first stop was to see Woody.

Wreck-It Ralph
Our second stop was for the newest Disney character, Wreck-It Ralph! Jeff just took Abby to see the movie prior to our Wine & Dine excursion. So naturally we had to stop....although it kind of looks like Wreck-It Ralph is mauling Cindy & Cheryl. He's trying to wreck our picture! Oh well, Abby sure did enjoy the picture when I sent it to her.

Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights
I stopped to take a couple of quick shots of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. The annual light display has over 3,000,000 lights on Residential Street and takes over 22,000 man hours to install beginning in September of each year. Of course, Disney being Disney they have now incorporated over 40 Hidden Mickeys into the display as well.

I am your father
I'm not sure what the photographer must have said to us at this point. Jeff looks like he's still posing with the Green Army Guy. Cheryl looks terrified and Cindy looks like she's checking herself out. Hmmm.

13.1 ALL DONE!!!!
In 2010, the Wine & Dine Finish Line was at the International Gateway at the back of EPCOT. This year the the finish line weaved through the backlots of the World Showcase and crossed into the park at Future World out the front of the park - weaving around several times - until you FINALLY found the finish line. I was so happy to see that finish line. I knew I hadn't been running enough, but  running  13.1 miles at someone else's pace and stopping frequently to get pictures or stay with your group can be tough on the body. For the first time, I ran most of the race with my phone in my hand in order to be prepared to stop and take pictures whenever I wanted. By the time I crossed the finish line, the outside of my right knee was tender to the touch. My knee locked up almost immediately. I probably couldn't bend my knee more than 5 degrees which made walking around the park for the after party difficult.

After crossing the line, we were immediately shuffled into a line to get our one free drink...a choice between Bud Light and Sangria. As I reached out with my left hand to get my sangria, the volunteer knocked my iphone into the ice filled drink barrel. Ugh. The horrific look on his face was priceless though as he dug into the ice to retrieve my phone, but I'm not sure Jeff was laughing. For some reason, I seem to be abusing my phone ever since we've returned home from Louisville.

At the after party
After changing our clothes, we finally made it to the Wine & Dine After Party. My knee was still pretty tight, but I was confident it would loosen up by morning. Our picture with Geppetto and Pinocchio turned out kind of blurry and while a bummer, it also seemed kind of appropriate for the night. With the half marathon behind us, it was finally time to enjoy the WINE part of the Food & Wine Festival.

As we walked around the parks, I nearly mauled a "Cinderella" who was wearing her three Disney medals signifying she had completed the Coast to Coast Challenge. My competitive spirit started to rev into overdrive. By the end of the night, Cindy, Cheryl & I were all ready to sign up for the Coast to Coast Challenge in 2013. I think that item just got bumped up on my Fitness Bucket List.

Amazingly, with the exception of my knee, my body really did not hurt at all. My running has not been consistent since completing IMLOU. I've had a hard time figuring out when to work in my runs while teaching 12 classes per week. When we returned to our resort around 4 a.m., I started applying the BioFreeze hoping it would help. I've never used any type of pain relief product before so I was pretty skeptical. Waking to pain in the knee at 9 a.m. did not make for a very happy morning. At that point, I truly began to worry.

With my minimal mileage leading up to the race, I was worried I hadn't kept those muscles strong enough and had torn something. Since I knew everyone was going to be moving slow that morning, I took the morning to try and loosen up my knee bending and straightening as much as I could. By the time everyone was ready to head to the park around 1 p.m., my knee felt much better and I felt like I could walk with a nearly normal stride again. We had just one more day at the parks to enjoy all of the incredible tastes and flavors, but most importantly the Disney Magic.

I think we'll be back again next the final race in the 2013 Coast to Coast Challenge and then I will be strutting all three of those medals around the park making everyone else jealous instead. Look out!! 2013 Race Calendar is already getting full!