Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Finding peace. . .

It seems to me that my legs should be all powerful at this time of year.  I've learned to not have my last race in October,  whereby my training then goes kaput just in time for the holiday(s) feasting.  This year I've learned that sometimes, you can't train all the time and take what you can, when you can, when it comes to living life. .  . 

However, this year, November and December have just gone by in a blur--so much more so than usual.  Weekends dashing (is a five hour drive ever dashing??) home to see my parents, see my mom with her limited time left with us, and trying to stay healthy in order to maintain the body.  I think my training was pretty on course through the beginning of Thanksgiving week and then it just fell apart.  Since then I've been trying to get sleep, trying to get enough to function and train when I can.  I got a run in Thanksgiving Saturday (when we did the holiday at my parents' place) and some during that next week. Two of mom's sisters came to visit, along with one of my cousins and her daughter.  It was a huge family feast. . . and no matter how much you try "not to stress" you're always going to stress at the holidays  am I right?  How many people really manage to never stress over anything at the holidays. . . I'd like to meet those who can!  Really, I'd like to know their secret!   Did I mention dad acquired a thirty pound turkey. Yeah, I was freaking on that a little. . . and then just decided to de-construct the thing to bake it, in two separate roasters.  Then it was done at 9am and we just put it in two crock pots with all its juices soaking in and making it sooo good and juicy. It probably helped a lot that it was a locally raised turkey (by one of dad's sister in laws). YUM!!!

Then a run on December 1. I know that for sure. . . then I went to my sister's in her town, where we had a volunteer function to do at 'high noon' so it really split up the day.  Then we "dashed" to my parents. Visited mom in the nursing home. Oh, how dad was trying to tell us on the phone, but he just couldn't say the words that would make what we saw so real.  if only. . . the two words whispered throughout the world probably more often than anything other, including, i love you. . . if only we had known what daddy was trying to say when he called us.  If only my sisters and I knew he had all called us within twenty minutes of each other on Friday. . . if only. . . .I'm so glad mom's other sister came to visit her that day, December 1.  It was the last night of normal sleep I'd have for quite some time. 
The mama, April 30, 2011.
 Six days after heart surgery, four days before her massive stroke,
and she was kicking my patooty at Boggle.
You want to play the board. . Go ahead,  your three minutes start NOW!.   

5:20am, the phone rings. I get up to answer it and it disconnects. . . get back in bed, phone rings again. not good news to be had my mind tells me.  I answer one line, my sister the next. I tell dad we have the phone. . . then I go tell dad that we'll drive with him to see mom, that she has little time left. It was so foggy outside it took all three sets of eyes and our brains remembering the route to know where we were.  Fog thicker than pea soup. . . visibility only fifteen feet in most areas. Dad came to a complete stop on the road and inched the truck forward to the intersection so we'd know where to turn.   Oh, I know there were those above watching out for us that day (and my mind goes to a 4-H friend who was killed in a car accident on a foggy day like this, I think of S often, and more so on these foggy days].   

We had forty minutes or so with mom before she passed away. Her suffering from cancer,  that came out of nowhere, and a diagnosis less than three weeks before,  was at an end. Our pain of going on without her was beginning.  

A whirlwind day this day,  then driving to my sister's house in the fog late at night. I woke up at 3am, after less than three hours of sleep, and drove home.  It wasn't very foggy on my drive home.  I was able to get a doctor's appt changed to Monday instead of Tuesday. Tuesday I went for a run, longer than I had planned, but my body was so in need of an outlet. I'm sure I looked a sight to those passing by as the tears came. The next days were a whirlwind, more travel, meetings, etc. . . and nights of three or four restless hours of sleep. 

Not surprisingly, I got a cold/slight congestion of some sort and then took the running easy (read, nonexistent) and started hitting the Zinc vitamins.  Mike got bit by a dog out riding his bike Saturday (first time ever, and sadly, the dog's shots were expired by seven months), and we went to the ER when we got back home. . . at 1am, so yoga on Monday was out (at 5:30am) last week. Yoga at the end of the week felt so good and relaxing and just what I needed in a small dose.  

Sunday evening I went out for a run just before dark.  I took my headlamp and ankle reflector (from Road ID) and wasn't too scared of the darkness at it fell, the peacefulness of the evening, contemplating the universe, why things happen, letting the mind wonder here and there. . .and then the geese came swarming into the lake and the quiet was extinguished. I went to yoga yesterday morning, and thought I'd go back in the evening to make up missing four classes. Today, my body is thanking me for NOT doing that. . .the yogi pushups have my arms in a tizzy today!  Back to a run tomorrow. . . . and I wonder how I'm going to do a 17k on December 30. . . in the hills, mountains, of Cal-i-for-ni-aaaaaaaaaa

2009 the mama and me. . . we went to a baby shower, then did some road tripping to this
nature center (which was later flooded in the big one of 2011,
and then went to the big city of KC, MO for more shopping. . . the mama, she loved to road trip:-) 

In the words of my wise papa. . . travel and see the sights while you can.  

Bless all who have come before us, who have taught us so much while sharing their lives with us. No matter the length of time they were with us, we learned something from them each and every day. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Running for my sanity

Disclosure:  This will be a sad post.

I started running in 2009 and felt so free, something that I'd been missing for a long time with my health problems.

Last year, April 2011, The Mike and I were in the central part of the state for a bike race for him, a 320 mile  journey, with a couple checkpoints and his wallet for food at convenience stores.  . . I saw him off at 4am (or is it 5am?) and then went back to the hotel and got up later for a run.  It was a great run too, some hills, some crushed limestone walking path gravel, and some concrete.  When I got back to the hotel I had a missed call from dad:  Mom had another heart attack, a pretty bad one and was going to have open heart surgery.   He suggested we not come home, since surgery was going to be soon-- the next day on Easter Sunday. . . mom is never one to want to "announce" she is ill.  I called my siblings and then waited, went shopping, went to church to pray and then went back for the vigil that evening. I even called the race coordinator to see how The Mike was doing.  The next weekend was nephew's confirmation on Sunday and we drove to see my mom on Saturday. She was still in the hospital due to a blood clot in her left arm.  She was looking great and perky. We played BOGGLE. She kicked my butt in those matches!

The Mike took some pictures of this, which is fabulous, since ten days later she had a massive stroke leaving the left side of her body without movement.  We headed over to see her again (we keep telling her she doesn't need to go in the hospital for us to visit!), running for relief, for thinking, for meditation, for release, for sanity . . . 

One of these runs was near the hospital. I went out early on Sunday morning for a run, beautiful weather.  As I headed out, I realized I had left my whistle/flashlight in the hospital hotel, but figured I'd be fine. . . I ran to the Old Market and was almost back to the hospital when a car drove by, stopped in the center of the five lane road and street harassed me. The car went on, I went back to running and then the car came out from a side street, did a U-turn in the road. I sprinted across the road and then we were at a standoff. I realized exactly where I was then and I took off sprinting for the fast food places just over the top of the hill.  I also picked up some gravel rocks in case I needed weapons. . .I've never gone for a run without my whistle again!

Last fall, dad broke his leg in a freak accident.It would be the first time in thirty years he was not on the combine at harvest!  He had been visiting mom every day in the nursing home and this break (through the high waters of the 2011 Missouri River flood, through road construction, through miles separating them) and him being in a rehab unit meant that they wouldn't be seeing each other for a while.
Dad was able to drive on this road, before the flood, an hour each way to see mom in her rehab unit;
after the flood the detour took an hour and half each way.
I was blessed one weekend with springing mom from the local nursing home (only half an hour from their place) and delivering her to dad at his rehab unit (an hour away). Oh my, the sweet love on their faces at being reunited was amazing.    Even though they weren't suppose to be left alone, I left them alone in dad's room. He had the call button nearby if needed and I was outside the room.  Mom was so perky after seeing him. She had to have been frantic in the nursing home knowing but not knowing what was going on with him.

Picture a photo here of a woman in a wheelchair leaning forward grasping the hand of her husband she hasn't seen in weeks, the husband laying in bed with his leg bandaged all up, grasping her arm. [I forgot to ask dad for permission to post the photo, so I won't, even though it's a very sweet photo].

Dad brought mom home in May.  He's been caring for her every day. They have had drive-in date nights with DVDs as they retire for the evening.  They have excursions to the big city for treasure finds at the one of a kind stores.  He's always been a pretty good cook, and he's become a master at the crockpot and loves it.

Three weeks ago mom was eating less and sleeping a lot more, so he called the doctor and they said to keep an eye on her and to call in a week if she's not better.   They admitted her last Monday for tests and sent her up to a city hospital (one they hadn't been to in the last year or two!) and did more tests there.  Run, run, run for some understanding and peace and thinking and .  . . .

We drove over and saw them this weekend. Dad had said things didn't look good, he didn't know everything yet, but that she has advanced metastatic cancer.   Dad's a mess, of course.  Mom is eating like a bird, maybe a quarter cup of food at a meal, maybe a cup of food if she's feeling good.  I went for a run that morning, it wasn't a good run in time at all, but it was for the body and to help it deal with this stress.  

Last week one of my siblings called. It's not good. The doctor said of one hundred people, only fifty might live to see the Christmas season. Obviously, not a good night, nor a good sleep.  I woke up at 3:30 and could not get back to sleep. I thought of how I could get ready and leave the house without waking The Mike and where I'd leave a note so he'd know where I was.  In the end, I didn't go for a run then.  I got up at 6am with my alarm and got ready for a run, but I was so lethargic and tired and it was wicked foggy outside, that I decided to do some yoga instead.  I didn't do a lot of yoga, but I did some. .

The fine line between exercising and working out and maintaining one's health.  Exercising after four hours of sleep or so with stress on top may or may not be a good decision. Today I decided against it, since I was feeling pretty worn down already.

Love the one you're with, love the ones you have in your life while you can, honor their wishes and memories after your face time is over.

I wrote this last week and have to say that I haven't run that much in this last week. Part of this is due to wanting to get my sleep in order to keep my body healthy. I know, I know, running will help too, but my body needs quality sleep. It finally started getting it on Sunday, after a week of three or four hours of sleep nightly.  The Mike now has a cold and I'm trying to avoid that with vitamins, teas, and sleep.

Run happy and run for sanity. Get out and RUN. . . tomorrow for sure, maybe tonight after errands.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Race, Meatballs and pumpkin pie, not together of course.

November 3rd I entered the local Veterans Day event.  I've done this race the last two years as well and it's a great event put on by the local race director. He is awesome at what he does, and has over a decade of experience behind him in directing, and more as a racer. . . plus, he uses common sense when organizing a race.  

This race brings out many people from the community, although only about three hundred participate.  We even have the high school NAVY and Marine ROTC join in the fun. 

I was so very excited when I finished under 30minutes, with a gun start. When I got home, my watch said 29:09 so I may have actually been a sub-29 had it been a chip timed race (his 13.1s are chip timed, the 5ks aren't)

I was so excited with that information that I didn't even look, until The Mike pointed out, that I was also in the TOP HALF of the racing group too! It was quite wonderful to be in the top 50% for a change! 

This past weekend I made meatballs. .  Half cup meatballs that I bake on parchment paper. YUM.  I didn't have any bread crumbs on hand, so I used rice krispie cereal. Now that they offer the gluten free variety (they took out malt to make it GF), it is less sweet, so it's almost like bread crumbs/rice crumbs!  I smashed those in the package with my rolling pin and then continued to make the meatballs.  1 pound each of hamburger and pork sausage, 1 onion diced or minced (depending on how much work you want to make it) 1 egg, parlsey, pepper and parmasean cheese. Sometimes I add some garlic too, but not this time. 

These are great put on top of spaghetti, sliced for layering in lasagna, slicing for a sandwich, or for eating by itself.  

After I found this recipe, I found a 'meatball' scoop at the local kitchen shop.  I figured a half cup scoop would be good for meatballs or ice cream scoops!

Sunday I attempted to make an egg-less refrigerator pumpkin pie/custard.  I used the recipe on the back of the evaporated milk tin.  Let's say, um, it wasn't to the liking of the people in this household. I tossed out the custard and, still craving a custard NOW and not next week for Thanksgiving, I made pumpkin custard last night.  

I just use the recipe off the pumpkin can.  I was following the recipe for a two pie batter, and I remembered to halve everything except the eggs. I still put in all the eggs. Oops. 

Curious as to what would happen, I peaked in the oven.  I had made a souffle of sorts! 

IN the heat of the oven.
After dinner of pasta, marinara sauce and meatballs, we had our mini custard containers of pumpkin custard. I completely forgot to take a picture before we ate those. . . MUCH better than the no-bake. I think this is definitely the way to have pumpkin "pie" without the fat from a crust in between the holidays.

The pie after cooling.  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Gluten free travel weekend: Success again!

This weekend we went north again. The Mike had a 100mile bike race to do and the guy he was going to go with somehow did a face plant of some sort, scrapped up his face and got staph infection. (gee, I'm not sure why J didn't want to go do this ride?, (groans)).  The fabulous Mike had already taken off the afternoon thinking they'd leave early, so he ran some errands, brought me lunch from one of my favorite places (a steak salad with pico and corn salsa, cheese and guacamole), then went to renew his passport for his epic event next summer. 

I almost always get to drive on our journeys and this time was no exception.  As we neared the large metro city limits, the Mike was using the phone and/or findmeglutenfree app to find a place to eat (I'm not sure what he was using, I was driving!).  He picked Wildfire.  This place was a really cool place, easy to find near/at the mall and it had great ambiance: it was a 1940s themed restaurant. Different areas of the place were named different historic rooms.  

What made it awesome for me? The waiter arrived with bread for the Mike and then he said, "your GF bread will be out shortly" Say WHAT?  I get gluten free bread in a restaurant?  The last time that happened it was a Brazilian restaurant and they use tapioca flour, and it was about four years ago!  WOW. I am hooked on this place! Thank goodness it's several hours from us, otherwise our wallet would be looking quite sad.  

My apologies for the dark photo, I didn't want to use the flash in the place!
Photo left: Parmesan crusted fresh Alaskan Cod for Mike, with asparagus.  Middle of photo:  Butternut squash with pecan butter;  Bottom of photo:  Salmon cooked on cedar plank with mashed potatoes.  Sorry, the bread round didn't make it into the photo.   Mashed potatoes were part whipped and part chunky. They must mix the two together to get this fabulous texture. Mike said his fish was quite flaky and definitely fresh.  The squash was really good (when isn't butternut?) and my salmon piece was quite large and very yummy.  We didn't save room for dessert, but they did have GF chocolate cake (flourless). 

On we drove and finally arrived at the hotel.  The clerk let us know there was soup on for arrivals (how sweet is that!, though we weren't hungry at all).  He use to run Ultras. ULTRAs EEK.  Wow. I was in awe of the clerk already!  He said he'd never run a marathon, but he enjoyed half marathons the most and he just liked to run and run and run, so he ran ULTRAs!   He said he gave it up because of back issues, but misses the freedom of running. That's pretty much a great way to describe powering one's own body and having the fresh air hit one's face. 

The Mike 27º temps!
Saturday was bright, sunny, and cccold.  Thankfully, the wind had died down and it was only about 5mph, so not bad at all.  The Mike's race/ride started at 9am. He was thinking to finish around 4pm, so I had most of the day to myself. :-)  YEAH.  

I went out on my 9 mile run [prepped to go in my mizuno breathe thermal top and over coat, smartwool neck gaiter and hat, my whistle/weapon and long running pants for the chilly weather] . . . there was a short paved trail beside the start area, but it only went about two blocks further. Luckily, there was a wide gravel shoulder along the roadway and I ran on that quite easily.  The surface was frozen, so I didn't have to worry about sinking into the soil!  I love rural areas. . . pretty much every vehicle I passed, even though I was on the really wide shoulder, gave me at least half of their lane, putting more distance between me and the autos.  Quite nice. The roadway had a big of a short climb, steady work, and then a descent, then a climb again.  At the top of the second climb, I turned onto a gravel roadway. I was getting freaked out by running on a roadway that paralleled the interstate system! Especially when there was an off-ramp from that not too far away.  The dirt roadway was pretty hard and compact, more sand than just clay and dirt like we have in my state.  It was definitely easy to run along and made enjoying the great wide countryside so much better. 

The only scary part of my run was when I was passing the area of the road with a dead skunk in the center of the lane and the oncoming car was unable to move over because of an oncoming car for it. . . I was freaked it might have hit the skunk, but PHEW, it didn't and I was safe from the smell. 

1737 calories burned Midnight to 11:08am and 18,385 steps taken!  Phew.  

After getting back to town, with no water left :-( , I made up my protein shake, changed clothes at the nice facilities (which is rare to have such nice facilities for such a bike race!) and headed to the outlet mall for COACH sales :-)  . .. and Nike sales and New York & Co sales :-)  Amazingly, I didn't find a pair of shoes or boots I wanted. Did I say I was sooo glad to have gone with Mike this weekend?  

After shopping, I headed back to the town, headed to the grocery store and picked up some ham and cheese, along with Pecan crackers for lunch.  I read for a bit and then took a well deserved nap.    

After that, the Mike enjoyed some chili and breads people had provided and then got headed back home.  We stopped at a camping supply store and he picked up a camping/sleeping mat for his expedition next summer. . . For $20 more he bought the THIRTEEN MONTH warranty on the mat!  Wow. He's going to be sleeping on this thing for three weeks straight.  Definitely purchased that warranty!  

Seriously large food!
We were both getting hungry, him from burning sooo many more calories, and me for not having had much of a lunch. . . We stopped at Jason's Deli.  I had seen this before and thought it was more like a subway. . . oooh, how wrong I was!   This was more like a deli, (duh moment) as the name suggests.  The Mike had a spicy chicken wrap with soup and I had a sandwich from their GLUTEN FREE menu!  YEAH!  UDI's whole grain bread, thick sections of turkey and ham, spinach and avocado.  I didn't ask for chips, but it came with them anyway. The manager assured me that yes, they make it gluten free, including protecting the sandwich from the normal work surface.  I know this is a chain and I highly recommend them for GF dining! 

Seriously! HUGE!

Yes. I got a to-go box for half of it! 
End of the day, and drive home!  3,169 calories burned and 26,887 steps taken (must have done a lot of walking at the outlet mall!)  

Home finally Saturday and had a fabulously lazy Sunday. . . Made bacon (Beeler's, nitrate/nitrite free) and from scratch pancakes for breakfast, with a little bit of yard work tossed in for a day!  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My Gluten Free change

I've been asked questions about when I went gluten free, how the testing was, and whether the diet is horrible and disgusting or painful or difficult. 

I was raised on a farm and for the most part we had a pretty good varied diet.  We only had fast food occasionally.  We didn't eat a lot of processed food (sloppy joes were usually made from scratch, not Manwich; mac and cheese was made with real american cheese and cheddar, not a dehydrated box; white bread was a treat in our house, we had whole wheat bread or processed wheat bread (roman meal) for the majority of the time; my favorite food was beef liver and mushrooms; breakfast was sausage or bacon or scrambled eggs, cold cereal was also rare. 

I went off to college as a shiny eyed 18 year old who had lost weight my last year in high school by diet and exercise.  My first year in college, I gained that weight back (working in the dining hall and catering (with wonderful food) plus odd hours of sleep and college nightlife didn't  help my body). By the next summer I was having some medical issues, and before the start of my sophomore year in college I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder (there are hundreds of these). For some reason, my body started to fight itself and this manifested with an autoimmune disease/disorder.  

What is an autoimmune disease/disorder?  My description: An autoimmune disease/illness is when your body has a stressor or trigger and your body starts to fight your body.  This stressor can be anything. Sometimes it can be simply the act of being born, it could be a shift at work that is contrary to what your body's natural needs are, it could be having a very stressful job and not having an outlet, and the like. 

[copied and pasted the following: 

Autoimmune disease: An illness that occurs when the body tissues are attacked by its own immune system. The immune system is a complex organization within the body that is designed normally to "seek and destroy" invaders of the body, including infectious agents. Patients with autoimmune diseases frequently have unusual antibodies circulating in their blood that target their own body tissues.

Autoimmune diseases are more frequent in women than in men. . . . Furthermore, the presence of one autoimmune disease increases the chance for developing another simultaneous autoimmune disease.]

I generally try to stick with Mayo Clinic or Cleveland Clinic webpages, but neither described the generality of autoimmune diseases, so I went to another website where I found the above. Source 
If you are interested in a fairly comprehensive list of various autoimmune diseases,check out this Wikipedia link.   

After my diagnosis, one of my siblings sat me in the college library and retrieved medical books for us to read about my illness. Basically, I was thankful to still be alive and I saw that I would be at risk for other autoimmune disorders. I had lost a drastic amount of weight in the summer months. I had multiple blood transfusions.  My thick hair, which had reached below my shoulder blades, had thinned drastically. I had gone to a salon to have the hair cut, but I couldn't face cutting it off completely.  The stylists there made the 19 year old me feel like such an anomaly, which is just so lovely.  It was amazing how many people came up to me, when I came back to campus how many women said, "Wow, you look GREAT. What diet did you use." It was quite disturbing that even after I said there was no diet and that I was deathly ill over the summer, how many women continued to gush on about the weight loss, even saying, "I wish I could get sick like that".  O__O.  Yes. people actually said this. Yes, repeatedly they would say this.  I truly hope these women have grown over the years and they no longer would say this to anyone. Some of them, I doubt.  

Fast forward six years or so and I started to get a rash on my lower back area. I had literally scratched myself with bruises; eventually, I cut all my fingernails back so I'd not have talons in which to scrap my skin.  I went to the doctor and he prescribed a drug to combat the "itchiness".    

Sometime after marrying in 1999 I noticed I couldn't stomach french fries from the golden arch. I had no problem with the ones from other places. Same doctor said, "don't eat them, they're not good for you". Insert sarcasm-->Wow, what a truly brilliant doctor<   I wasn't trying to eat french fries every day, just occasionally.  My autoimmune care was transferred to another doctor, thanks to health insurance. My new doctor was very nice and continued me on these medications.  The new doctor loved having a patient who educated herself, who took notes in the office, who asked questions. One day I noticed some redness on my sides; I literally had stretch marks appear over night from a medication I was on long term due to this first autoimmune disorder. It would be thirteen years since my original diagnosis before I would be able to go off the medication completely.  In part this was due to a) flareups every time doctors had tried to taper me and b) no other drug being approved by the FDA to assist with my illness. Oh, there were drugs the doctors KNEW would help, but the FDA--for whatever absurd reason-- would not give the okay to be dispensed to people with my exact illness (a handful of these drugs were FDA approved for illnesses quite similar to mine, but not exact to mine). 

Around 2004/2005 one of my siblings finally received answers to plaguing heath issues. After more than ten years (the average in the USA to be diagnosed), she was diagnosed with Celiac.  Around this same time, one of my aunts was diagnosed and another had the DNA test done, but the doctor told her she "couldn't have Celiac since it is a children's illness and adults don't get it" (which is not true).  

What is Celiac disease?  Mayo Clinic has a great description on their website. Here is the primary explanation from that site:  "Celiac (SEE-lee-ak) disease is a digestive condition triggered by consumption of the protein gluten, which is primarily found in bread, pasta, cookies, pizza crust and many other foods containing wheat, barley or rye. People with celiac disease who eat foods containing gluten experience an immune reaction in their small intestines, causing damage to the inner surface of the small intestine and an inability to absorb certain nutrients" 

What are consequences of Celiac disease? Again, I think the Mayo website is good with this (weg page description here) One of these is:  "Loss of calcium and bone density. With continued loss of fat in the stool, calcium and vitamin D may be lost in excessive amounts. This may result in osteomalacia, a softening of the bone that in children is also known as rickets, and loss of bone density (osteoporosis), a condition that leaves your bones fragile and prone to fracture."

I recalled the information that I had absorbed after my diagnosis in college wherein I was more likely to have another autoimmune disorder/disease.  I asked the specialist if we could do a Celiac test when I would have another procedure and he said yes. As the time got closer, my care was switched to his nurse practitioner.  When I asked her about the Celiac test she said there was "no way"  I could possibly have Celiac.  I said, 'even with risk factors of multiple aunts with a DNA and Celiac diagnosis and even with a sibling having Celiac" and she said something to the effect of, 'correct, there is no way you could have Celiac'.  

I did part of what any person should do, but not all of what a person should do. I went around this medical provider by going to my primary care physician (PCP) who administered the blood test for Celiac. It came back negative.  Not shocking, since I was on immune suppressant drugs for my other illness. I asked the specialist again and was told no again.   [I also have had the allergy test for food allergies and it came back negative in everything, even the "control" which is suppose to cause a problem in everyone.  This is because of the immune suppressant drugs I take.   As a result, I just avoid foods that I don't think agrees with me]. The part that I didn't do was pushing for the biopsy tests that would have shown whether gluten was impacting my digestive system, the esophagus and the small intestine.  

I sulked, I wondered, I pondered and I started experimenting with baking/cooking gluten free. . . thinking, I need to know how to do this for when my sibling comes back to the state.   

Finally the FDA approved a "new" drug for my primary illness. In order to get onto this medication, I had to be off the the medication I'd been taking for almost thirteen years. [While that RX is good generally, my body had started to have issues with it. After seven years or so, I started to have a lot of side effects that 'may occur'; however, the doctors didn't want me off the RX for the good outweighed the bad]. However, before committing to this new drug instantly, we discussed other options with the doctors. They offered a couple of different options on medication. One was a "Class D" drug, meaning that it definitely results in birth defects.  Another was a drug that has "some" success and that is much like the drug I'd already been on for thirteen years.  The last drug was the one Mike and I decided to go with, the one that had been recently approved.  In discussing the care and transfer from one medication to the other,  I told the specialist and NP that I would be doing a very slow taper to try to limit a major flare  of my illness. This is also when I decided to go gluten free full time.  I lost forty pound that summer.  Combined with the new drug and eating gluten free, the painful episodes I use to have were gone. 

After being completely gluten free for three months, I ate pizza when we were out with family. I ate it to be "normal" and to "not cause a scene" or fuss.  I was in agony.  The Mike came up with "is it worth it".  Is eating that gluten product worth the pain and agony for the next week?

Fast forward to today: 
Our house is mostly gluten free. The Mike has some gluten products. I do not allow gluten flour in my house. Any thing I need to bake for a gathering is going to be gluten free. Usually people rave over the fresh taste, the homemade flavor, etc.  I think this is mostly due to the fact that gluten free food is basically preservative free.  Our bread will become moldy if left out, etc.  Take a gluten snack food or sack of bread and you could leave it out for weeks and it will not become moldy! The Mike knows there is no 'double dipping" for mayo or butter or anything if he's already touched something with gluten.  

The years since I have been dedicated gluten free have been a fabulous life.  Three years after telling me that there was no way I could have Celiac disease, my specialist's NP asked me to be tested for Celiac. I asked, quite seriously, if she was going to pay for me to be off work for me to ingest gluten for  multiple weeks and then for more weeks while the gluten is flushed from my system.  The healthcare providers blinked and they were shocked I'd ask such a thing, and then they told me I'd only need to eat gluten for a few days in order to have a valid test.[Most experts agree that you have to have gluten regularly for at least a few weeks for the test to be accurate]. I refused to take the test. I know I'm Celiac--or at least gluten intolerant-- and I refuse to poison my body in order for the healthcare professionals to cover their past ignorance on the matter.  

There are those in the Celiac community who think that no one should ever go on a gluten free diet if they don't have the proper diagnosis.  Sometimes, it's not as simple as obtaining the diagnosis. Those I met at a conference a few years ago had all been lucky enough to be diagnosed within a year or two of having problems.   I, however, am left to wonder if I've been Celiac a very long time (whether it was primary) and whether my autoimmune disorder diagnosed in college was a result of already having an undiagnosed autoimmune, or whether the Celiac is the secondary and the other autoimmune is primary.  I'll never know.  I do know that by eating gluten free, eating a healthy diet, and with exercise and the fabulous drug the FDA finally okayed, my other autoimmune disorder is kept in "remission". 

How has eating Gluten Free/Celiac made a difference for me:  There are so many different symptoms for Celiac in people that it makes diagnosing the illness based on symptoms difficult.  In Europe, doctors often screen for Celiac, in the US  doctors largely ignore Celiac, it is not discussed much in medical school, maybe only a small paragraph or one page in a book, or a blurb in a lecture (per various doctors to whom I have talked).   For me, I no longer am in agony after eating, I no longer have awful pain in my joints. These are the things I primarily notice. The Mike can tell sooner if I have had gluten. I get louder when talking (as if that's even possible!), I get the fog head.  We tend to eat more "pure" food, as I did when I was a kid. Little of our food has preservatives in it. Also, I have found MSG is a migraine trigger for me (I'm one of the few hundred thousand the FDA doesn't believe exists with this phenomenon).

The reality:  At least one out of every one hundred thirty three people  is Celiac.  More may be gluten sensitive, or gluten intolerant, meaning they should abide by and learn to live with a gluten free lifestyle as well. Some people have symptoms and there are a few people who never show Celiac symptoms of any type. They get tested due to low Vitamin D levels, or because a family member was diagnosed. For these people, they'd never know they had an issue with gluten except for some outside force in their lives. Alessio Fasano, MD of the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research is one of the premier researchers of Celiac.  I had the pleasure of hearing him speak at a conference. 

The sad reality: Many people who do have a Celiac diagnosis refuse to eat completely gluten free. They may not be able to suffer the increased price in food, they may not be able to find gluten free substitutes for pasta, breads, pizza, etc.  Some people may brush off crouton crumbs from their salad, while others can't tolerate and refuse to accept gluten on their food in restaurants.  

Dining out and why it petrifies Celiacs:  It's always *delightful* (note sarcasm) when dining out at a restaurant and ordering a gluten free salad, then having it presented with a giant gluten breadstick across the whole salad. Another favorite is requesting a gluten free hamburger, no bun, and having it served with a bun.  Then sending it back and having it returned within a minute with magically no bun, only to find bread crumbs under the hamburger or around the plate, highlighting that the wait staff or chef only removed the offensive material and tried to re-serve the same contaminated product. Another time we went to a restaurant on a non-busy day.  I asked for a gluten free menu, they had none. The waiter said they don't have anything that is gluten free. I asked, 'Do you add flour to your hamburger, or can I have a hamburger with no bun as that would be gluten free', along with a baked potato and a side salad, no croutons, no dressing.  He came back from talking to the chef and said what I requested was do-able.  Sometimes, it is that the place has no concept of what dining gluten free really means. I realize that maybe their kitchen area wasn't gluten free, that maybe the chef was concerned, but I figure that any time I am not preparing the food myself, I am taking a chance on what I will be served. 

This is why we generally stick to a cooler of packed food for our road trips, or heading to restaurants we know have gluten free menus and these places tend to be a little harder on the wallet.  

Celiac FAQs from the University of Maryland Celiac Center.   

What I've learned:  I have learned to embrace things that are not considered "normal" to mainstream people. I eat exotic foods like Quinoa (keen-wah) grain, bread made from tapioca and brown rice flour, along with fruits and vegetables.  (though I do try to limit the starches/carbs from gluten free flours). I've learned to have fun with my food in preparation and to embrace the fabulous foods I may never have tried otherwise. Finally, I always try to have snacks in my purse, whether it's a Tanka Bar, a Larabar, or a applesauce packet. I know that if I need some food, it's going to be easier to go to what I know is GF than trying to find a GF product available at a convenience mart.

Do you have any questions or comments or concerns, I'll be happy to answer them, or attempt to do so!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Duluth "Up North"

The end of September took us to the "up North" country of Duluth, Minne-snow-ta.  We missed out on snow (they had some just a week later), but we did get to be leaf peepers with the beauty nature provides for us.  We stopped at  Milltown Cycles in Faribault, MN and got some tips for dining and things to experience in Duluth from Ben.  One of the first recommendations was At Sara's Table, or Chester Park Cafe and then he said, 'it goes by a third name, too'.  It did, had "Tahran's" on the outside of the building, but we found it with no problems. It is fairly cloes to Chester Park, though not across the street as one might expect from the name.  They offer gluten free bread for $1 more with the meal. 

This fabulous omelet is the Vegetarian, and I asked them to add ham to it as well.
Small zuccini, peppers and even julienned carrots!

After breakfast we decided to walk to Chester Park.  We got to the edge of the park and went back for the car and then drove through here. Parts are still a work in progress/recovery from the June 2012 devastating rains and fierce flood waters.
Beautiful tree we peeped at Chester Park.
Next we  drove north to Two Harbors along the old highway with a gorgeous view of Lake Superior. About two miles from Two Harbors I realized this is the road along which Grandma's Marathon is run! It was a very nice highway. We went to the old train depot and then to the lighthouse at the harbor. A very cold day with temperatures in the 40s with enough of a breeze off the lake to drop the temperatures for this non-'Up North' person!

Burl-ly trees near Lake Superior at Two Harbors lighthouse walking path.

After a day of cold and walking, we did more walking, down from the hotel to Pizza Luce.
Pizza Luce downtown Duluth
Dinner at Pizza Luce in downtown Duluth. They have a gluten free crust and about half their pizza offerings are GF. A very yumming evening. I had the Spanish Chicken pizza which their menu describes as "I’m a renegade on a Western front; where the dust never settles…I’m topped with mushrooms, smoked gouda, red onion, marinated chicken, toasted garlic and mozzarella cheese on red sauce. Some call me the Spanish Chicken, and others, well, they run…”"

The appetizer we ordered the sampler, spinache-artichoke dip, marinara, olive tapenade, and bruschetta. It was served with two hot gluten free rolls that reminded me of Schar's brand, but we didn't find out what brand they were.

Mike's race, Heck of the North, started at 8am on Saturday. It was a free race with a huge turnout!  This is a view of most of the racers, but I still couldn't get them all in my photo.  My photo perch was on a pile of woodchips. . .

Heck of the North start
After the race started, I talked with Bob whose son was racing and tests bikes for Salsa.  I need to find his blog. . . his dad said that Tim's writing was really great and even non-cyclists are reading it.  After an hour of great conversation, we parted ways and I headed back to the hotel to do my three mile run.  I was suppose to have done this on Friday, but we hiked and hiked and I decided to run on the day Mike would be racing too.  I am ecstatic to say it took me three hours to finish my run. Okay, okay. It only took me the time it should have to do the three miles. However, I had run to the pier and stopped a few times to take some photos, then hung out at the pier area and visited more areas, shopped a bit and then walked back to the hotel, at which time three hours had passed.

One of the many lighthouses at the Duluth Pier area.
I ran both sides of the canal area---fascinating history on the building of the canal. Perhaps you'll visit one day, see the museum and the sign of how the canal was finished.  It is amazing. . . or if you ask, I could answer.

Not at Grandma's restaurant near the aerial bridge, but near the shopping area is the finish for Grandma's .   One runner/cyclist told me that it's hard as you're running the highway because you see the bridge every five miles or so as the road twists and turns, but you still have a ways to go to the finish.
Does this count as a Grandma's finish?
After the race, we went to the Zeitgeist Arts Cafe for the after party event.  This was an amazing place we went to and, sadly, we had walked by it many times and didn't realize what it was exactly. The name Cafe isn't quite right. They have a full bar and a couple of dining areas, plus art and a theater attached as well.

The photo isn't too good, as I didn't want to use my flash.  I asked for a burger with no bun as I eat gluten free and the waitress says, "we have gluten free buns" ooooh, okay, give me some of that goodness I haven't eaten for a while!  Then she says that the fries are gluten free too. Double YUM!  I hadn't seen anything but fries on the menu that would contaminate the oil, but I did ask as well.  Mike had a Guyere ased mac and cheese.  For dessert, we shared a gluten free/flourless chocolate cake and whipped cream. It was good, but we told the waitress, who agreed with us, that it needed raspberries to help cut the decadent chocolate cake. It actually reminded me of the America's Test Kitchen raspberry chocolate torte recipe, minus the raspberry and almonds. I highly recommend this place!
The amazing GLUTEN FREE dinner at Zeitgeist Arts Cafe
Mike suggested watching a sunrise over the lake.  I agreed and with one night/one morning left in the Up North country, we decided to get up at FIVE in the morning and drive north to Split Rock Lighthouse.  On our drive we could see red highlighting the morning sky through clouds and thought we might end up missing the sunrise.  We drove up and up and up and watched the car thermometer drop drop drop to 35º and the window instantly fog over as we neared one of the two road tunnels along the route.  Definitely reminded me of being out West in August.

We got to Split Rock area, paid the park fee and drove down to a picnic/hiking area to watch the sun welcome us to the new day.  It took a long time for the sun to finally gain the horizon, but once it did, it reminded us of how quickly the sun rises or sets over the ocean. A blink and then two of the eye and it seemed the sun had completely come above the horizon, making it hard to look at the lake.
Sunrise over Lake Superior at Split Rock lighthouse (which is to the very left of the trees in photo).
Split Rock Lighthouse is amazing. It has beautiful hiking paths around the base of the rocks/cliffs and a 171 step staircase from the lake to the lighthouse grounds where they use to bring in supplies. 

We drove around trying to find a place for breakfast early on a Sunday morning. . .  . driving Southy, we ended up  at the Rustic Cafe in Castle Danger, MN area near, Gooseberry Falls State Park. Mike was smitten with the piping hot Rhubarb Coffee Cake.  I had an amazing omelet and hashbrowns to his breakfast skillet.  Afterwards, we went north the few miles to Goosberry Falls State Park. This is a beautiful water fall area, multiple falls areas. Not so bursting with water this dry drought year/time of year. However, there was a photo in the gift shop of the raging waters and swollen ravine areas that came with the June freak floods. From the photo, one could not even see where the ravine would have plummeted for the falls!

Lastly. . . a selling point in the gift shop:
Really? Beavers have hands????
I had heard my friend from Soroptimist talk about her home area as "Up North". . . I didn't realize it was a term like the UP/upper pennisula of Michigan until being up in the are "Up North" area of Minnesota and seeing all the items with those two words. 

Beautiful area of America.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Beef Stew

Yesterday was an twelve hour day for me, and so I put together a beef stew in the crockpot to cook away all day long.  It was inspired by the chilly morning and desire to have something quick when I got home in the evening. The Mike's been busy at work and I knew he'd not want to do much of a prep time either for dinner.

Thankfully, when I opened the freezer I found inspiration in the form of stew meat from the local grocery.  I think in the future I should have a smaller package of stew meat frozen up, but for this I had a one pound package and I found a can of corn in the cupboard, that's about all the incentive I needed to make a quick dish.

We have the medium size crock pot. I found with the large size there was too much waste with left overs that turned out to be too plentiful, and then the small one is for dips!
Delicious beef stew. Fabulous as leftovers for lunch, too.
Crockpot (obviously!)
Crockpot liner (yes, I use these, my sense of preserving the environment and not adding to pollution is ruled out in favor of easy clean up after a long day at work).

1 can of corn, drained
1 can no salt diced petite tomatoes
Diced/sliced carrots. I diced up about fifteen of the thicker snack size ones.
1/2  to 1 diced onion
Schar Anellini pasta, about 1/4 cup
3/4 to 1 quart of beef broth. I used Kitchen Basics by McCormick's.
2 bay leaves
ground fresh pepper
1 Tablespoon or more of  Worcestershire. I use Lea and Perrins  as the USA version is gluten free
Small diced red potatoes. I used about five of these which were 'golf ball' size
Diced/sliced celery for your taste. I added about 1/3 cup.

By this time I was worried it was all going to fit in the crockpot!  I put the meat in first, then diced the celery and onions and added that directly around the meat, and two bay leaves. Next I sliced the carrots and potatoes and added those around as well, then cracked some pepper, added the drained corn and the undrained tomatoes and stirred that together a little bit to mix it up some. I added the dried pasta into a "well" I made in the veggies, I wanted it underneath the broth for sure. I then added the cracked pepper and the broth. I added just enough broth that it came to about 1 1/2 inches from the top of the pan. I didn't want to add too much, since the veggies would breakdown and more liquid would come from that too.  Then I added the Lea & Perrin's to the top, put the lid on , made sure the crock pot was on to low and I headed to work.

I'm "lucky" enough to own one of the crockpots that tends to run a little hot, so even on low everything was going to come together quite nicely.  When The Mike got home, he turned it to "warm" and it was still plenty hot by 8:30. A little bit of cracked pepper on top and a bit of kosher salt added and it was fabulous.

I used the Anellini knowing that any GF pasta was going to basically dissolve/melt over twelve hours in the crock pot and that it wouldn't matter what was really used. Since this is a smaller 'soup' pasta to me, I used it.--Plus, my sisters and I scored about a dozen boxes half price this spring in D.C. at Safeway. I think I brought a lot of food back from that trip. I only have managed to use up my first box! We tend not to have too much grain/pasta at our house, so a little bit can go a long way.
Photo source
I have been trying to get canned things at the store that are "salt free" since we tend to add kosher salt at the end of cooking and it also helps us control how much we're adding to the diet too.

Happy winter cooking!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Marathon #3

Wow, time sure can fly. It seems like just last month I signed up for the Omaha Marathon instead of waaaay back at the start of February.  It seemed like I had all the time in the world to train for my A race. The year started out so positively, but then things happen and it seems like you're saying, "another run" and sometimes you have to fight the mental monster that says, "go for a long run" when all you want to do is nothing and hang out on the couch watching movies. . . but, that's what DVD/tv is for set up in front of the treadmill on rainy and lightning filled days!  Here's my write-up from my second marathon this past March. That day was hot, hot, hot and so not in a good way that early in the year. Even for spectators, it was too hot.

This September race day promised to be beautiful.  The forecast was calling for near freezing temps, in the mid 30s with a high of 70 and the sunshine.  Even though I had PR'd in June for my hilly half, I haven't kept up with yoga this summer and my core was suffering. I wasn't sure about this run, even though I was trusting in my training. I know the last few long runs I've had have been a mix of good and bad.

Friday night we arrived at my parents' after they had retired.  Headed to bed and hoped for a good night's sleep--which was accomplished! Saturday, I made mom and dad an apple cobbler. I don't have a photo of it (sorry), but I peeled and cored apples, then sliced them and tossed them in a mixing bowl with 3/4 cup sugar, about a tablespoon of apple pie spice, plus another dash or so of nutmeg and cinnamon.  I poured these into a pyrex pie plate.  Next I mixed about a cup of tapioca flour with about 1/3 cup of quinoa flakes , tossed in some brown sugar (about 1/2 cup) and then butter (about a 3/4 a stick) and mixed together. I had a bit much of this mixture, so about 1/4 cup of it went into the freezer.  I poured this mixture over the top and then moved around some of the apple slices so the topping would fall into the apple mixture.

Mom and dad had some for Sunday "brunch" and they said it was really good. Dad mixed up the whip cream for it, since I had to dash out of their house for O-town and didn't have time to make that for them.

In addition to whipping up this fabulous dessert for them, I also killed a "cricket" for mom. . . Thanks to her stroke last year, she can't see out the left side of either eye and she's in one of those electric wheelchairs.  She had come into the house via the ramp and thought she'd seen a 'cricket' by the outside door and asked me to get it.  Cricket it was not. It was a gigantic spider reminiscent of a tarantula in Iowa. Okay, okay, I have some arachnophobia issues.  Mom always use to kill the spiders for me as a kid and now here I was doing it for her.  I got out the extra hold hairspray and opened the exterior door and, yeah, I killed that spider with a lot of heebee jeebee dancing afterwards.  Killed the dang thing dead as a driven nail.   (shudders).  Hubby said it was "character building". I think it also means he didn't want to be the one to smack the thing. ;-)

I headed to Omaha to get my race packet and to ride the bus on the race route.  They were providing three different times for this, and all free to the racer ($5 each for add'l family members, support). I haven't been on a school bus in a couple decades:  what a trip down memory lane!  I also took a front row seat so I'd have an excellent view of the "hill" which turned out to not be 'a' hill, but rather three separate jaunts.  Up one for about three or four blocks, then it leveled off a bit and rose another block and a half.
"The Hill"
Then we would turn the corner, go a block on even ground and turn the corner and increase in elevation some more. It actually didn't seem quite so bad as what I had envisioned, so I can only assume that meant my training was paying off and I'm not quite so petrified of hills any longer.  

Getting my race number in and of itself turned out to be difficult. Having worked and helped coordinate bicycle races and been at plenty of packet pickups, I can say that having a number misplaced is quite rare, but does occasionally happen. Thus, I wound up with a different number than I was suppose to have.
Gear is ready
All ready the night before.  Tights, ifitness fuel belt, tank, long sleeve throwaway shirt (which I've never managed to actually throw away), visor for sweat-line and keeping the sun out, GU and I'm ready to go!  . . . or so I think.
Race Course
Race Day: As I had said, race day was suppose to be ideal running weather, but one also had to prep for standing around at the start waiting to go.  The Start was in front of the fairly new TD Ameritrade baseball stadium, home to the college world series now that Rosenblatt stadium was demolished.
Photo from "Rosenblatt Stadium" page on facebook  

Thankful I was that I ran a 5K in this area back in June, so I had an idea of the first few small hills in the Old Market area of Omaha.  The Mike suggested we stay at a hotel the night before the race and for that I am thankful.  I don't think I'd have had an issue with getting up at 4:30am instead of 5:30 for a drive in, but figuring parking, etc with the road closures and all it was definitely easier to just spend the night.

But now I had to figure out how to account for my exposed calves.  I need to carry some Vaseline in the overnight bag for occasions like this, but decided to put the "Glide" on my calves and that worked well, it still protected the skin from the 37º weather.  At the start there were military personnel, the anthem being sung, etc, but I couldn't hear any of it. It seemed there was only one speaker system set up and that was near the front; we heard it just fine as we walked on the sidewalk, but we couldn't hear anything in the way back. The Mike was going to ride the course on one of his Salsa bikes and meet me/cheer for me at random places on the course.  It is always fun for me to see someone cheering for just me, rather than "just another random stranger" cheering. You know what I mean, right?

The pace started off jackrabbit fast as always and I was making an effort to reel myself back in and not go out all turbo, as everyone seems to want to do.  I was feeling really good heading into mile 7  and 8 and knowing there was that power hill coming up.  I didn't run the whole thing, but surprisingly to me I managed to keep at it with a job more than I thought I might have and with that behind me, I felt free to let loose :-) though I still had nineteen miles to go.  Around mile 12 my lower right abdomen started hurting something awful. I started freaking out that my appendix was giving me fits.  I had no idea what was happening, but I pushed in on the spot as I do with side aches and then started walking and proceeded to do some walk/running and see what happens. About this time I saw The Mike and he said, "KEEP GOING". What a great cheerleader :-)   I saw him again up almost to mile 16 and I handed off my ifitness fuel belt/holder. It was aggravating my side, I had moved it up to my belly and the bottles were hitting my elbows and ruining my concentration.  I took out my GUs and put them in my pants pocket and continued with the run, in this residential area. Seemed to be going well, then as I moved towards the inner curb on a boulevard I had to do the heebee jeebee dance all over again, fairly recent dead (or was it?) racoon laying against the curb.  Geesh! ick.  heebee jeebees.  I was trying to be good with not taking in too much sugar and energy, but when I got to the park area (mile18) I realized I probably should have had some earlier and I stupidly didn't. [note: I probably should write on my hands the times I should take a GU]!   I took some here and then then headed on.  The hill back up to about 22.2 was longer, but I just kept chugging away at it, like a train going up a hill. . . grinding and grinding and grinding and getting there. I did pause/walk to collect myself and then started up again.  The Mike was up there at the top, enjoying the lively polka band that was playing here. They were playing some stuff that was great tempo for running! It was probably my favorite band of the whole race.

I really wish we could have our own little drill sergeant out here at this point of a race, miles 17 to 22 seem to be mentally the toughest. I could have used some of R. Lee Ermey out there yelling at me to keep MOVING and get GOING.  I wonder if Motoactv could put his voice in there for us. . . or if he has a clip of something I could download to the MP3 player to motivate me when needed.  Seriously, this needs to be investigated! When I was in DC, I walked with an ARMY soldier for part of it. He'd done a few back to back marathons and was getting ready to go back to the desert, and there I was feeling sorry for myself at mile 22 and this man was going to be in serious harms way in a week or two.

Back to the Omaha Marathon, I had to put some laughter in where I was able to.  Heading down to Carter Lake (oxbow lake of the Missouri River and officially part of Iowa within the city of Omaha) the aid station was handing out "fresh water".  Thankfully it wasn't 'fresh from the lake'.  .  I was running on the shoulder at this point, there was so very much concrete and not as much asphalt, my legs were definitely taking a beating.  As I was running along, another running started chatting. She was on her 219th marathon! WOW.   We ran for a mile or so together and then she slowly pulled away from me. (I know, sad right?). Mr. Runner caught up to me and did a run/walk too and then he stayed with Ms. 219.  It was his 89th marathon and he didn't seem much older than myself.

We had one more slight climb and then a straight away for over a mile. I was really hoping for more water in this stretch but none was to be had until just after mile 25. The Alzheimer's aid station was a wonderful sight for me.  Two cups of water and I was ready to knock out the remaining one mile.  As I got up to the last turn, I passed Ms. 219 and Mr. 89. WOOO!   Power was coming to me. . . I was feeling good, even though this last straight away and then the ever so slight turn into the parking lot for a finish was ALL on concrete I just kept plugging away.  . . Near about 25.99 mile spot Mr. intersection police officer literally turned his back on me and started moving traffic across the intersection. I slowed my gait thinking, "he's going to be looking over his shoulder at our progress".  No sireee bob.  Instead, I yelled "STOP" and he stopped the cars, the first one did the whole slam on its brakes and visibly move backwards from the force. [this is the part of the race where I love the half marathon finishers, when I see the 13 miles marker I know I have just a tenth of a mile left!]   I passed a guy walking at mile marker 26.15 or so who had on one of those Marathon Maniac shirts and I just kept going, thinking, I've got to turn into the parking lot and it's got to be HERE!. I turned the corner and put on a little extra and just wanted to get to the finish before another minute was turned on the clock.

Three of the Marine Corps finest were lined up in their full uniform handing out the beautiful recycled glass medals. The medals were much larger than all of us thought, about 3.5 " in diameter and so beautiful, but so fragile as well. Mike wore mine while I stretched and recovered for a bit afterwards.

This  shot is for Carla

How many calories were burned?  From midnight to 1:09pm on 9/23 I burned 4048 calories and took 52,865 steps.

What I learned: 
In looking through my mile times last night, Mike and I realized that I needed to be taking in energy/GU before I actually did in order to maintain the calories in my system that were ready for me to burn. While I had a PR in the first half marathon on this course, I still slowed down by first a minute and then two minutes per mile pace by the finish :-(   It is definitely one of those things of live and learn!  I'm happy with a seven minute PR, I'd be happier with a fifteen minute one ;-)

Am I happy with my time: I am happy that I finally improved my time, but I'm not happy in that I didn't take care of myself when running in terms of my energy source and that my second half time really seemed to suffer for it. However, I know I did improve with my running ability and all and I finished, so I am happy with myself.

the Medal, mine  was purple and blue swirls.

After the race and cleanup, we headed over to meet mom and dad at Sam & Louie's on Cumings street. . . only, it turned out to be closed, contrary to their website, so we then headed to Mama's Pizza on Saddlecreek, a place we discovered when mom was in the hospital, and they have gluten free pizza!!!!! Fabulous pizza, as always. I only managed to get three slices down, but the others never made it over three hours in the car. My stomach just kept digesting the food.

On the ride home, the Mike drove for good reason. . .  . my attention span was worse than a sugar addict in a Christmas candy store!  I decided to take a pic of my toenails. My left index toe nail keeps falling off. Almost a year since my first marathon and it finally looks normal again, but the way it felt at mile 18, I'm sure it will turn black here shortly.  
As the night comes to an end and the Quirky is home for bed, she's up to having burned 4697 calories (at a minimum) and taken at least 55,029 steps over the course of the day (actually a few more, since I didn't wear it all the time). 

Anything else I should add, or answer for you?   I know it's a long post and more photos will come later from the race. 

Hope ya'll had a great weekend.