Monday, January 31, 2011

2011 Race Calendar

Not long ago I was invited to be on a relay team to participate in this year's Frostbite Marathon Relay held in Holland.  I was all set to suit up in my Kinvaras and team spirit when suddenly I had to opt out.   Yesterday was the relay and I thought about my teammates ALL morning.  Thoughts in my head went something like this...

"Wow...they certainly have a gorgeous morning to run"

"Go (Insert team member name here) Go!"

"I bet they've got 4 legs done by now"

"That beer has got to taste NICE."  

I ended up being one of the days that I actually "heart" facebook.  I got to see pics and read race recaps within a few short hours.  After looking at all of the pics I know that everything turned out just as is should have.  An eight man team, consisting of 4 couples dressed in tu-tus, pink sprinkle hats, and pink gloves supporting one another to the next hand off....Amazing.   Did I mention the team name was Frosted Flakes...Perfect!!!  They totally rocked it...everyone running like the wind....finishing in at 3h30mins.  So proud of all of them!

Even with all of the updates and warm fuzzies I felt for them, I'm not gonna lie...I had a few moments of sadness for myself.   It's just part of it, right?   Being that my hiatus isn't so much by choice but by necessity has helped, but my patience were wearing thin.  I allowed myself to feel the emotions for about...30 seconds, and then I thought....I can sit and be a pouty pants, or I can count down the days until my first workout and get flippin excited!   It's amazing the blessing a changed perspective can be.  I believe in my heart that this experience in the grand scheme of things will get filed in the "Things that make me stronger" category, both as a runner and a human being.  It will push me to further care about my health, it will strengthen me to allow my body to heal, and it solidifies why I'm so passionate about supporting important causes.  I could go a whole lot deeper....ramble more, but I won't.  It didn't take long for that feeling of sadness to be replace with pure jubilation.  Sit down ego, I have shit to do!  I spent the rest of the day dissecting the Playmakers Event calendar to line up my spring schedule.

With that, it's official...I have the racing bug!!   Here it is.....

April 2nd....Martian Invasion of Races Half-Marathon
I'm officially signed up for this one...Woohoo!  This will be my FIRST, and I have a slew of friend's and family that will be participating also.  Jess (this will be her first as well), Morgan and Spike, Jeff, Mike, Tim, and perhaps my sister-in-law and bros.   Not everyone is doing the half, but those that are running shorter distances will sure come in handy supporting us the last few miles.  It's going to be a great day...I can feel it!

April 17th...Komen Race for the Cure 5k. 
This race is held downtown Lansing, and as much as I despise this course I totally support the cause...It's always an emotional and humbling experience.

May 6th...Mason State Bank 5k. 
This race will be a last minute decision since it will depend on how I feel a week before Fifth Third.  I love this course, it's a nice change up being a night race, it's on a Friday leaving room in the weekend for a long run, PLUS it's in my hometown.  Seems to me that the pros really outweigh the cons.

May 14th...Fifth Third Riverbank Run 25k
I joined the DetermiNation Endurance Program.  I will write more about it in a future post, but in short it is a team that the American Cancer Society is piloting to help people train for longer distances while raising mad money.  It will be my longest race to date.

May 21...Capitol Bancorp 1 miler
This race will again be a last minute choice.  I'm not sure what that 25k will have me feeling like, but I've ALWAYS wanted to go balls out for one mile!  This is the first time they are offering a 1 mile race on the race series.

May 30...Lest They Be Forgotten 10k. 
A yearly tradition out in Webberville.  The course is along gorgeous country roads with rolling hills.  My kind of gig.

June18....Michigan Brewing Company 5k.  Out of all the years I've attended this thing, I have yet to actually run it.  Even it's for fun I'm getting myself a free mug of beer.

Beyond this I'll re-evaluate as the season gets going.   I hope that I'll have a bike by then and might start working in some swimming to keep up fitness.  This will allow me to skip running in 85*/80% humidity.
F-that!  This could be a great time to do some race volunteering also.  I'm so appreciative to those who give their time to "work" race's time I do my share.

Races that I'm keeping my eye on for late summer and fall are....

Hall of fame 10k, Mint City 10 miler, St. James 8k, Women Working Wonders 8k, Capital City Half-Marathon, Autumn Classic 8k, Detroit Marathon Relay, Westside YMCA Booalthalon, Silver Bells 2-miler, Turkeyman Trot 5k, and Jingle Belle 5k

Phew...that's a bunch of racing if you ask me.   Writing down goals has always humbled me, as I am reminded that there is more to life than a missed race.  There is sure to be more than a few fun times this year.  My first run is Friday, four days from today.  My training schedule will be revised due to my time off, and can I guarantee one thing....I won't be looking back!



P.S.  What's your strategy to staying positive after missing out on a day of fun?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Is It Summer Yet?

I've been "relaxing" you could say for the last week or so.  On restrictions from running or working out, vacuuming or mopping, and even lifting my children has left me spending lots of time in front of this computer.  I've been enjoying myself reading blogs of all sorts...from Moms to athletes to foodies.

Thanks to blogs like  Dietitian On the Run and Athlete's Plate , I've been inspired to get back to cooking with fresh food and eating well.  I know this will help the healing process post-surgery, but also keep me from eating everything in sight.  Not sure about you, but when I'm training my diet is spot on...when I'm not, I'm a grazing nervous mess in the kitchen.  So, I've been diligent about watching my carb and sodium intake, and have been making amazing nutrient rich vegetarian meals.  There's only one problem.....

The produce section of my local "one stop mega mart"
is absolutely depressing. 

I literally spent 20 minutes debating over which tomatoes to purchase the other day.  I realize that at this time of the year there is no getting around a tomato traveling to me from anywhere north of lets say...the equator, BUT that doesn't mean I can't set some reasonable limits right?  I can dampen the pesticide load by choosing organic varieties....I can get them from the health food store or market, to support our local folks.  Well wouldn't you know that when I picked up the plastic container holding two seemingly identical organic tomatoes from Mexico to look for a price, a nasty watery rotten mess ran down my arm...Gross!!  Follow this up with mold growing around the stems of green peppers, oily cucumbers (what is that stuff), and the sad state zucchinis and yellow squashes are in (no people, you shouldn't be able to bend them in half), I thought....Awesome, now I've completely lost my appetite. 

What the hell am I going to eat!!!

As a gardener I have been spoiled with homegrown veggies straight from the vine, stalk, and stem.  I know too much now...I've tasted the best, and nothing can compare!  I get pretty pissed talking about our industrialized food system and what a total fucking sham it is (see...), but I have to do something.   I have to come to grips with the fact that it could be JULY before the first tomato ripens in my garden. 

FACT:  My choices are limited.  Damn....

So today I sat day dreaming about my garden...scoured the seed catalog I just got, and enjoyed looking at pictures I took last summer.  I'll share a few...

I couldn't wait for this baby to get ripe.
My first tomato!

The day I made my first batch of marinara. 
Just used the last jar...sigh 

Salsa day...hoping to can a bunch this year.

After I was done, I closed my eyes to envision that summer was upon us.  I thought of how absolutely amazing the hot sun will feel on my skin.  The soil, with it's richness will be nourishing my plants, and the sounds of cicadas will be in the trees.  When the wind blows, the smells of sweet basil and mint will invigorate my senses.  All of the work watering and weeding will be the least I can do.  

I have a renewed appreciation for the harvest season
and all of it's blessings. 

So for now, I will find sustaining produce by shopping without a list.  I will enter those local markets and co-ops with an open mind  I will make my food from the staples I can get anywhere, and the fresh foods that look the best on that particular day!  I know the day will come when I can sit and savor those gorgeous tomatoes again.  Til then, this is my plan to keep me excited in the produce isle and in the kitchen.



P.S.  What do you do to keep yourself inspired when a pantry full of summer's bounty runs low?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


As I'm about to reek of newbie blogger nerdness....Hi, I'm Jen!

Thanks for stumbling upon my new project....Solitude Stew.  I thought of the name awhile ago because the older I get the more I feel like my life falls into categories. Some relate to others while some stand alone. Keeping them straight in this noggin of mine in a manner that nurtures and respects what they do for me in my life is another story.

Its not easy to get together with friends when the responsibilities of taking care of my family are front and center. There’s dinner to make, kids to bathe, and THEN all the clean up that follows. Or maybe you’ve experienced this….standing at the kitchen sink wishing to be anywhere but here as your children relentlessly whine for more juice and a snack. Ring a bell...anyone??  Sometimes though, meeting with friends or escaping out the door for a 30 minute run is exactly what I need to unwind and remind myself that life doesn’t have to be so serious ALL of the time.   In other words, I need solitude....and sometimes I just feel like I'm swimming in a big bowl of thick stew.

So I am embarking on this journey into blogging with the hopes that I can better enjoy the possibilities of how these different categories cross lines and can ultimately bring more joy to my world. Is it cliché to say I need to better “balance” things? Is it too much to ask to have happy kids and a fulfilled husband, a clean house, a huge garden, oodles of time to train for distance races, good health, and the uninterrupted time to make a five course meal? Clearly I have work to do!!! 

I’ll be writing about things that I enjoy doing including running, cooking, and gardening. I will write about people that I love….my husband, my two daughters Ella and Paige, and my girlfriends (too many to list here). I’m sure I will be including a bunch of random stuff about myself too, a given…I hope. Thanks for following if you so choose, and feel free to give your two cents. I can’t promise I’ll take the advice, but it will surely give me a new perspective!

Aaah, and my very first blog post is in the books!!!