Sunday, January 15, 2017

Who's Got Goals? I Do, I Do!

Three weeks into January and I'm finally sitting down to write out goals for 2017.

Yes, I'm going to DO THIS! I'm a goal-happy kind of person but this year it has been harder to articulate them and to narrow it down to what is most important.

1. Live Confidently in My Calling

I turn 30 this year and this new decade will be one of living boldly, confidently and unapologetically in my God-given calling. The 20's decade was crazy! So much change — single college student, grad, career woman, new wife, first-time homeowners, first-time mom, stay-at-home mom, moving to a new town and mom to two — I hardly recognize my 20-year-old self. My twenties were full of newness and huge life changes.

This year I am sharing more about my struggles in person and in writing on this blog. Sharing opens up a door to encourage and band together with others who are riding the same struggle bus. (Sidenote: I love to say "struggle bus". Got it from my youngest brother!)

It's easy to feel like "I'm the only one that struggles with _____" but it's never true.

The exhausting months of raising a tremendously sweet but very high-need baby, making time for God's Word and prayer in unpredictable life seasons, judgement of homebirthing and extended breastfeeding, worries of a new homeschooling parent, victories and crazies of toddler parenting, uncertainties of TTC (trying to conceive), the unique challenges of a marathon running mom, the balancing act that is life. Those are a few of the topics I haven't been able to put to words over the last couple years.

This year, I will share more in hopes of spurring on those who are wearing similar shoes.

2. Find a Routine That Works for Now

What I'm learning in life with little ones is that a certain routine works for a while and then something (or someone) changes and the routine needs to adjust accordingly. I think it should be call "season fluidity".

For example, now that our youngest is 19 months old and IS sleeping through the night — finally, praise the Lord! — the early morning wake-ups are getting easier and the kids are both becoming more predictable. My body still feels so tired but I know it's time to establish a stronger morning routine again. It's like I have a "tired hangover" from being so sleep deprived for the past year and a half!

The goal is a 10:00 p.m. bedtime and 6:00 a.m. wake-up. I have done it before in past seasons (actually 5:30) but it's a habit I need to re-form. Funny thing... now that I have a smartphone again, it even tells me when to go to bed. A tad bit ridiculous but effective as well :)

3. Build My Lifetime Running Base

Last year I ran three full marathons and this year I have zero on the year's schedule. I have dropped obvious hints in past posts and since I'm becoming more vulnerable officially today (see Goal #1), I will tell you that babies are on my mind, not marathons.

While I really enjoy training and especially racing, I'm exercising for now to maintain basic fitness and add bricks to build up my "lifetime running base". Greg McMillan explains that we all experience seasons in life when we need to take a planned or unplanned break from training. The key is to do what you can in your current season.

After my past pregnancy and postpartum experiences, my thoughts about these "slow down" periods have changed. Though I may not run as fast or as much mileage as I do during training periods, I am still gaining running experience and knowledge... and I may pick up a few spontaneous races here and there.

Each workout is a "penny" added to my lifetime fitness "piggy bank".

"You (Only Faster)" by Greg McMillan, p.252

That's a wrap! I'm already loving this new year and look forward with excitement for the year ahead.

And I can't wait to break in my new journal — I'm kind of a journal-writing fanatic :)

Weekly Wrap: 01/09-01/15

01/09 MON: (Treadmill) 4 mi, 00:36 @ 09:05 pace.

01/10 TUES: Runner's Yoga (25:28)

01/11 WED: (Treadmill) 4 mi, 00:31 @ 07:51 pace. 400m speed intervals.

01/12 THURS: Vinyasa Yoga Flow (17:55) and Bowflex plank/push-up video on Youtube.

01/13 FRI: (Treadmill) 7.22 mi, 01:00 @ 08:18 pace. If the weather stays like this, I'm never going outside again!

01/14 SAT: Out of town with my parents and siblings. We stayed in a hotel the night before and pretty much everyone slept terrible. Felt like a zombie the rest of the weekend!

01/15 SUN: Off.

What is one goal you are working toward for 2017?

Linking up with Wild Workout WednesdayHolly and Tricia's Weekly Wrap Up and Mommy Moments.

Monday, January 9, 2017

A Quick California Catch-Up

Last week was a nice catch-up week after being gone for so long.

Catching up on the house, laundry and big-time catching up on the time zone change! Even the kids slept in til 9:00 am on numerous mornings last week - which was fine, but getting to bed before 11:00 pm was tough. We were all about two hours off our usual but this week has been much better.

To keep myself from going all picture crazy on this post, here are just a few memories from our two weeks in California.

For the first part of our trip, we traveled to Newport Beach, California via a smooth (a.k.a. happy kids) flight to Las Vegas followed by a VERY LONG drive to the beach. It was a Sunday night and the Las Vegas to Las Angeles traffic was insane.

Once we arrived at the beach, the weather was perfect for us - around the 60-70's during the day - and the ocean water was SO cold. This must be the off season for beach goers because we had the place nearly to ourselves all day.

My sister-in-law and I discovered that the "Eat Chow" restaurant made the BEST espresso! Their espresso con panna (espresso with cream) was absolutely delicious!

We spent a lot of time at the beach building sand castles, running, watching the kids and searching for shells. I walked in the water only up to the tops of my feet (yes, I'm a baby). The brave ones boogie boarded in the chilly waters and drew the attention of a few dolphins. And a sea lion!

We stopped by a tide pool in Corona Del Mar and explored for a while before hitting the road back to Vegas.

The shore was loaded with beautiful sea shells!

The drive back to Vegas took 7 hours (instead of 4) because of a fatal car accident and crazy traffic. Surely, the city life is NOT the life for me!

My parents and siblings flew home the next day and we flew on to Oregon, making our way to the most northern parts of California, which strangely feels a lot like northern Minnesota (minus the mountains). I was so happy to be back to small town life again.

It snows there but the snow easily melts in the sunshine and the temps were in the 30's and 40's. I love the California sun!

And I love the view of Mount Shasta. Someday, just maybe, my husband and I will climb that mountain. It's funny how close the mountains seem, when in actuality it is over an hours drive away.

For now, I'm content with watching it while I run by.

After enjoying a week with my in-laws, we took the three flights and an hour drive to get us home. It felt good to be home in this flat, cold tundra-like place! Just in time for another blizzard.

Home sweet home!

{Weekly Wrap: 01/02-01/08}

01/02 MON: 2 mi, 00:19 @ 09:30 pace. It wasn't THAT cold but the wind made the blowing snow feel like needles piercing my face. Then the storm later that day. Brr!

01/03 TUES: Vinyasa Yoga Flow (17:55)

01/04 WED: (Treadmill) 4 mi, 00:33 @ 08:13 pace. 400m speed intervals

01/05 THURS: Runner's Yoga (25:28)

01/06 FRI: (Treadmill) 3 mi, 00:26 @ 08:37 pace.

01/07 SAT: 6.26 mi, 00:52 @ 08:19 pace. 0 degrees and sunny.

A photo posted by Amy W (@creativeaim87) on

01/08 SUN: 6 x 1:00 planks.

Did you travel over the holidays?

Linking up with Wild Workout Wednesday and Holly and Tricia's Weekly Wrap Up.

Monday, January 2, 2017

2016 Running Year Review

Happy New Year!!!

As I was just getting the hang of writing "2016" at the end of the date, we're switching to 2017.

I can't believe how this year has blown by. The past twelve months have been full of memories, lessons learned and lots of pictures. I looove pictures (in case you can't tell).

We've been off in California beachin' it and visiting family in the northern parts so I'm behind in the blogging world. More on our travels will be coming next week!

In the meantime, here are my 2016 running year highlights to follow up on last year's running review:

Best Race Experience

Running 2 marathons in 2 weeks. Finishing first female was an extra perk! "Breaking" (or running through) the tape was an addicting experience and I hope this won't be my first and last time doing it! Running two marathons so close together was actually a great experience. Two races for one training cycle. Definitely going to try that again!

Best Run

With the Fargo Marathon being my worst run of the year, my best run followed soon after at our local 5k. This race was redemption of some sort after the trouble in Fargo and I ended up setting a new 5k PR of 20:55!

I didn't realize I could maintain a 6:41/mile pace until that race and it is a glimmer of hope that I can break into the 19:xx's someday.

Best New Piece of Running Gear

Same thing as last year. My Scott T2 Palani shoes! I loved my last pair (and their Amazon price) so much that I bought the same shoe style again.

Most Inspirational Runner

It's too hard to pick just one. From runners in the blogosphere - especially all of the #WeeklyWrappers - to those that I have raced with this year, each one has their own story and it is truly inspirational. Thank you, Tricia and Holly, for bringing together such a great group!

Favorite Picture from a 2016 Run or Race

High-fiving my cheering section at the Grand Forks Marathon. My husband, kids, brothers, sis-in-law and parents were all there to cheer me on. It was the best!

Race Experience I Would Love to Repeat

I would love to run through the finish line tape at the Blue Ox Marathon again... and keep my eyes open this time!

The local paper interviewed me after this race and they published a really nice interview that didn't water down my faith in God, my "why" for everything I do. That's what really made the experience the best!

This Year in Three Words

MOM'S - MENTAL - BREAK. Long runs have never been as enjoyable as this year's.

Though it's tempting to stay in bed, heading out to run early on Sunday mornings was wonderful. It went from being a "chore" to an enjoyable reset. Our youngest is such a sweet boy but was very umm... "high need"... for his first 18 months of life. Running on my own was a lovely break.

Best 2016 Running Advice Received

Run with purpose. I have been running marathons since 2010 and it took six years for this concept to take hold. My workouts blurred together and lacked specificity in the past but after reading Greg McMillan's book, "You (Only Faster)", I'm seeing much more improvement.

Easy runs need to be easy (that's seriously the hardest for me!) and each run should have a goal in mind. Once I'm back in racing and training mode again, I'm excited to see how much time I can cut off with this method.
"You must know exactly what the purpose of each type of workout is and exactly what pace range and effort level is appropriate for you." (p. 98)

Looking Forward To Most in 2017

New memories and the adventures to come! I may race here and there this year but nothing is on the calendar as of yet. I really should be honest and just tell you that my brain is on babies right now. Yep, there you have it.

Here's to the new year! I'm excited to see what God has in store.

What is a highlight of your 2016?

Linking up with Wild Workout Wednesday and Holly and Tricia's Weekly Wrap Up.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Blustering Blizzards

The snow. It's here!

Today is a whopping 0°F but I can't complain. The snow and cold are just a reminder that I do in fact live in northern Minne(snow)ta! I was starting to wonder on those 40 degree November days.

Besides Monday and Tuesday morning last week, the weather has been too cold to play outside with the little ones. We have managed to keep busy and burn their energy while indoors. Our basement is what I call the "rec room". We run, play hockey, have ball wars and run some more. Anything to burn off toddler energy.

We have baked TWO batches of "birthday cookies" for Jesus (you know, because I only have birthday sprinkles in the house!) and the sugar rush is running strong here.

Pinterest rejects on the left. Pretty cookies on the right.

I ran on the treadmill during the blizzard days last week and only made it for one outdoor run. As boring as it may be, I'm thankful to have the treadmill as an alternative to freezing my tail off.

Before I weekly wrap it up, I highly encourage you to stop by my gift guide post and enter to win a $100 Swanson Health gift card! And, don't worry, Swanson ships all over the country, too :)

Have a very Merry Christmas! 

I'm going to be away from the blogosphere for a couple weeks but keep in touch by following me on Instagram. Here's to my last #weeklywrap of 2016 and we'll be in touch next year!

{Weekly Wrap: 12/05-12/11}

12/05 MON: (Treadmill) 5.03 mi, 00:45 @ 08:56 pace. We're all about the Christmas specials in this house. Watched "Rudolph's Shiny New Year" with the kids while running.

12/06 TUES: Runner's Yoga (25:28)

12/07 WED: (Treadmill) 4 mi, 00:32 @ 08:02 pace. Still blizzarding. 400's on the treadmill while watching Veggie Tale's "Little Drummer Boy".

12/08 THURS: Runner's Yoga with Adriene (30:30)

12/09 FRI: 3.11 mi, 00:26 @ 08:13 pace. This was my "frozen 5k" before supper. -2F wasn't terrible but I am not used to the cold yet.

12/10 SAT: Runner's Yoga (25:28)

12/11 SUN: Off.

Do you love or hate the treadmill? Winter running - yay or nay?

Linking up with Wild Workout Wednesday and Holly and Tricia's Weekly Wrap Up.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

12 Healthful Stocking Stuffers for Her + $100 Gift Card GIVEAWAY

December is here, snow is flying and the days 'til Christmas are counting down.

Christmas is such a wonderful time of the year! I love making memories with family and friends, reading stories to the kids cozied up by the Christmas tree and remembering to be thankful for these special relationships and for the ultimate gift of all, Jesus Christ. We've been baking "birthday cookies" for Jesus this week and the kids love it!

Maybe you have all of your Christmas shopping finished OR perhaps you're scrambling for a creative gift idea. Wherever you are in that broad spectrum, finding the perfect gift to bless someone special can be a daunting task!

Today I want to share a list of my favorite Swanson Health products to help you on the "perfect gift search". I love Swanson Health's variety of health products and their affordable prices.

Simple, thoughtful and health-minded gift ideas that don't break the bank!

Plus, Swanson Health is spreading the Christmas cheer by generously giving a $100 gift card to one of my readers! Enter at the bottom of this post after checking out this stocking stuffer list.

Gifts To Create An At-Home Spa Experience

1. EPSOM SALT: White Egret Lavender Epsom Salt

The perfect excuse to take time for a bath! This blend of certfified organic lavender essential oils and high quality pharmaceutical epsom salt is the perfect way to sooth sore muscles after a hard workout (or just a really long day!).  Lavender Epsom Salt (30 oz.), $12.99

2. AROMATHERAPY: Swanson Aromatherapy Certified Organic Lavender Essential Oil

In case you couldn't tell, lavender is my favorite aroma! I put a few drops of this Lavender essential oil in my diffuser to fill our home with a soothing, floral scent. This essential oil doesn't give me headaches like most candles or air fresheners do. Organic Lavender Essential Oil (0.5 fl oz ), $9.99

Excuse my bad paint job and beaten up nails. The last two marathons destroyed me!

3. NAIL CARE: Mineral Fusion Nail Polish Remover

Though I rarely get a black toenail, runner's feet generally just aren't pretty. Mineral Fusion's acetone free nail polish remover easily takes off the darkest nail polish and preps for a new coat. Darker colors, like this red, work best for covering up that occasional black and/or missing toenail. Nail Polish Remover, $7.34

4. DEODORANT: Tom's of Maine Naturally Dry Deodorant

Tom's natural powder deodorant holds up on the run and the scent isn't overpowering. A simple product and nice addition to the gym bag! Deodorant - Natural Powder, $4.66

Avalon Organics' lotion to put on after an epsom salt and lavender soak.

5. BODY LOTION: Avalon Organics Hand and Body Lotion Lavender

Dry winter air and running outside in the freezing temps dries out the skin so fast! Lotion is great but it's important to find one with quality ingredients that do all good and no harm. Apply this lotion after a warm shower or bath to rehydrate dry winter skin (and smell great, too!). Hand and Body Lotion (32 oz.), $13.92

6. AU NATURALE COSMETICS: Honeybee Gardens Pressed Mineral Powder

A light brush of Honeybee Gardens' pressed mineral powder and maybe a dash of natural mascara are all a girl could need! This powder leaves a natural, not caked on look and feels weightless. Pressed Mineral Powder, $9.34

7. MASSAGE: NOW Foods Tranquil Rose Massage Oil

Massage oil is a sweet gift idea! If a massage is included, it's even better. The rose scent is pleasant, oil absorbs quickly and leaves the skin feeling smooth and fresh. Tranquil Rose Massage Oil (8 fl oz), $6.47

Gifts To Fuel Your Runner

8. ON-THE-GO SNACK: Clif Bars Crunchy Peanut Butter

Clif Bars are a protein-filled snack to grab as you run out the door or while craving something midday. The peanut butter bars are a quick source of energy and are made with 70% organic ingredients including rolled oats, toasted oats, milled flaxseed and peanut butter. Clif Crunch PB (12 bars), $15.14

9. RUNNING FUEL: Honey Stinger Ginsting Energy Gel

This is my #1 favorite runner gift - besides a race entry or new shoes. Gels are key to those marathon training long runs. Honey Stinger's gels are made with... surprise... honey rather than other mystery ingredients. Kola nuts are the caffeine source that gives you a much-needed kick during a long effort! Ginsting Energy Gel (24 gels), $25.99

Enjoying Nuun after a hot and humid run over the summer

10. RE-HYDRATION: Nuun Active Effervescent

Nuun tablets make hydration easier and taste better, too! After a hard workout or even on a non-workout day, I add Nuun to my water and it's delicious. Nuun Tri-Berry, $5.45

Gifts for a Perfect Coffee Date

11. COFFEE ON-THE-GO: Mount Hagen Organic Fairtrade Instant Coffee

If we're out of town or even on an early race morning, this quality instant coffee is the way to go. Instant coffee seems to have a bad reputation but Mount Hagen's Organic is a different story. I would choose its bold flavor over a stop at the coffee shop and one jar makes a whopping 60 cups of coffeeMount Hagen Instant Coffee, $8.96

12. SOMETHING SWEET: Lovely Candy Co. Chewy Original Caramels and Endangered Species Chocolate Dark Chocolate Bar

Delicious caramels and chocolate for a good cause. Who can resist! Both of these treats are a the perfect "just because" gift, in moderation of course ;) Chewy Original Caramels (6 oz.), $4.59. Dark Chocolate Bar (3 oz.), $2.67

Be sure to enter below for a chance to win a $100 Swanson Health gift card!

Life to the Full & Swanson Health Products Winter Giveaway The giveaway is open to US and Canada (excluding Quebec) residents, 18 years of age or older and the offer is void where prohibited. This giveaway was sponsored by Swanson Health Products. The giveaway runs through December 19th.

Which stocking stuffer is your favorite?

Linking up with 12 Days of Giveaways.