Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving Break Part 2

Wednesday, November 30, 2011  at 8:32 AM
Thanksgiving break was a lot of fun!  Not only did we get to do a race, but we got to see family and eat good food.  Here's the rest of what Thanksgiving break had to offer.

After running the Atlanta Half Marathon on Thanksgiving day, there was only one thing to do...EAT!!!  And that's one thing the Smith family knows how to do!  My mom, sister and wife are three of the best cooks I know, and they didn't disappoint again, because the Thanksgiving meal was AWESOME!  Here's what we had:

  • Candied Sweet Potatoes
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Winter Salad (It has apples, nuts, cranberries and feta cheese...Everything is betta with feta!)
  • Pear Jello Salad (We actually forgot to put it on the table and had to eat it the next day. Haha!)
  • 2 Kinds of Dinner Rolls
  • Mock Turkey Loaf (Here are the ingredients)
    • Celery
    • Onions
    • Chicken Seasoning
    • Eggs
    • Oats
    • Vege Chicken
    • Sour Cream
    • Bread Crumbs
    • Walnuts
As some of you already know, I'm a vegetarian, so that is why we had Mock Turkey instead of a big bird sitting on our table.  I always get a kick out of people when they hear that I'm a vegetarian and say things like, "But you eat fish and chicken right?" Nope, that would declassify me as a vegetarian.  I've actually never had any meat (other than an accidental bite of a "bean" burrito at Taco Bell that actually was beef).  It's just how I was raised and it stuck.

Here are a few pics of the food and its preparation:
I love me some Jello!

My Mom
My Sister-Mindy with the Mock Turkey Loaf

After stuffing ourselves and downing some delicious Apple pie and Pumpkin Cake, it was nap time and go-on-a-walk time with the dogs.  Once again, Thanksgiving was a winner

On Sunday, my dad said, "Matt, want to go see the Falcons play the Vikings?"  Well, I'd never been to a football game, so the answer was an obvious, "YES!"  We snagged some nose-bleed cheap seats off for $9 and headed to Atlanta.  As we approached the Georgia Dome, we drove through a sketchy neighborhood and watched a group of about 25 people get ready to brawl.  One guy ran over to a house and busted out the railing slats to use as weapons.  Needless to say, we got out of there really quickly!

The game was fantastic...especially because the Falcons won 24-14!
What do Falcons do?  Rise up!

Then, Monday morning, Jenn and I started the LONG drive north back to Michigan.  We like to leave at the butt-crack of dawn to get home and still have part of the day left.  We actually had enough time to set up the Christmas tree.  All the ornaments are from Jenn's mom who has given her (and me) one every year.  It's pretty cool.

Last night, we drove to South Bend to get another trainer.  We basically ride the trainer every day, so there's a big chunk of time that we can't hang out while we separately ride.  We had to remedy this, so we picked up a Cycleops trainer off Craigslist for $75.  I think that was a pretty good deal.
It's nice to have a basement to just sweat it out any time you like!
This is the last week of class for me with finals next week.  It'll be a bit crazy getting everything finished.  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Atlanta Half Marathon Race Report

Tuesday, November 29, 2011  at 8:50 AM
After 10+ hours in the car through nasty weather yesterday, it's good to be home!  The long drive to Georgia and back is such a toughy, but it was well worth it.  I'll be posting two blog posts pretty close together about my Thanksgiving break.  The first will be the Atlanta Half Marathon Race Report, and the second will be about the rest of my Thanksgiving.  So here's how the race went.

Jennifer and I drove the seemingly endless drive from Michigan to Atlanta to make it in time to go to the expo and get our packets.  I have to say that this is such a well-organized event for being so large.  There were 10,000 runners, but the packet pickup was a breeze.  Maybe it is because we were within the last hour before they closed or something, but we were in and out in no time.  I signed up to run with the 1:50 pace team as that was my ultimate goal.  They gave me a separate number to pin on my back to identify what my goal was.
The race shirts are pretty cool, but mine was a bit too big.  Maybe I'm not a Large anymore...  We headed over to our hotel which is right next to Turner Field where the Atlanta Braves play.  This worked out perfectly, because the start/finish line is basically in the parking lot of Turner Field.  We were probably a half mile from where everything was happening.  After checking in and laying everything out, we went to sleep for the big day.
I always like it when they put your name on the number
We woke up at 5:50 to get something to eat and make our way over to the race.  Again, everything was well-run.  There were plenty of porta-potties.  The lines weren't too bad.  It was obvious where we needed to be.  I was starting in the "B" corral and Jenn was starting in the "D" corral, so we had to say goodbye and get ready for the start.
Another crappy Iphone 4s picture...
There were SO many people there!!!
This was in front of me..(notice the 1:50 pace group)
This was behind me.  They stretched on forever.
After the national anthem, the "A" corral started, and then 5 minutes later, we started.  I was thinking I'd take some video to show, but it was too much of a hassle to get my iphone out.  My goal was to start out a little quick, as I do on every long run, and then fade towards the end.  I hardly ever get negative splits, so going out quick seems to be the only way to get a better time.  Maybe this is something I need to work on!  I was hoping that when the 1:50 pace group caught up to me that I could just hitch on the back and they'd take me to the finish line.  I had been pretty pumped about this race, so it was go time.  There were so many people out there running, but I was doing alright weaving through them.  The first few miles went by pretty quickly.  The course was pretty flat with only a little bit of rolling.  It's always fun to run downtown in a big city.  We ran right by the capital building twice.

I was feeling good through the first 5 miles, and then came some hills.  I had looked at the elevation chart for the course, and it didn't look too bad, but running it sure sucked.  They kept running us up hills and then turning corners up another hill!  It was annoying.  Of course, I slowed down a bit, but I started to fall a part at about mile 7.  

I wish I could give an excuse like, "It was too hot" or "There were too many hills," but I hate excuses.  The REASON is that I slacked on training.  I know I didn't train hard enough.  Yes, I had some good long runs that showed that I could hold my 8:24 pace or better.  But when it came down to race day, I didn't have it in me. 

The 1:50 pace team went by me like I was standing still around mile 8.  I tried to hang on, but there was no way, so I had to pick out another goal for the day.  I had previously set a "sandbagger" goal of breaking 2 hours, which would be a PR for me, so that's what I aimed for.  My sister called around mile 11, and it was so nice to have her talking to me for the next mile or so.  Those were some tough miles!  At 12, I latched on to a guy going my pace, and we chatted it up to the finish line.  I crossed the line at 1:59:10 to get my PR and BREAK 2 HOURS!  It's not exactly what I wanted, but it was a PR for me.  The course was actually 13.22 miles, so I did 13.1 in 1:57:54 for an average of 9:00min/miles. 

As usual, the medals are super rad.
 Jenn did really awesome!  Although she thought it was a tough run, she got her goal of under 2:15 with a 2:14:50ish.  Way to go, Jenn!!!!  By the way, she gets a pukie award (5 or 6 of them actually).  Way to suck it up and get your goal, babe!

My dad, mom, sister, brother-in-law and neice all came to walk the 5k.  They had a good time and even GOT MEDALS.  Have you ever done a 5k where they give finisher medals?  If I had known that, I would have done the 5k.  :)

 Here's little Brynlie with her first race medal.  Way to go, Little B!
All in all, Jenn and I had a great time at the Atlanta Half.  Although I didn't reach my true goal, I got a PR. It'll just be easier to get a PR next time!  Thanks for all the encouraging comments, text messages, facebook comments etc.  You guys are great!  Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for a recap of Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Last Long Run and Pic Dump

Sunday, November 20, 2011  at 10:17 PM
As I write this, my legs and calves and knees and everything associated with running is still sore from our last long run this morning.  This Thursday will be the big day as Jenn and I run the Atlanta Half Marathon for our pre-Thanksgiving-meal-calorie-burning run.  But, today, as we ran 10 miles, there was a distinct difference in the outcome.  Jennifer smoked her run with the fastest average yet of 9:56's/mile.  That was a huge jump from a few weeks ago when she ran the same route and averaged 10:10's/mile.  She's pretty awesome and is totally going to dominate her goal of finishing in under 2:15.  I, on the other hand, was a perfect example of poor and lazy training.  I wish I could say that I have a good excuse, but I'll have to chalk it up to laziness and bad weather.  Well, another reason would be that I'm carrying around a little more weight than I did this summer due to eating too many of these babies:
There's nothing like some good chocolate chip cookies!

I realized today that I haven't had a long run or ANY run at the pace I'm shooting for in about three weeks.  That's pathetic!  Yes, I've gone on some shorter runs with Jenn, but the problem is, that even though they are way more fun with her, they don't help me work on the speed I need. So today's run was a pretty good sufferfest.  My goal was to average anything under 8:24's/mile, which is the pace that I have to run in order to beat 1:50.  My average after 10 miles, you ask?  8:23's.  Yes, I made it, but it was really tough, and I think that from the way the average was hemorrhaging, I don't think I could have held that pace for the last 5k.  That being said, I do think that with the adrenaline, the crowd support, and the pace groups, I'll be able to beat my goal and not FAIL!

On to other things...

On Friday, I spent all day working on our car.  It has 130,000ish miles, and the struts and shocks had NEVER been changed.  From the unusual wear pattern on the tires, it was obvious that everything was shot and needed to be replaced.  So, I ordered the struts and shocks from a business that I totally recommend for anything auto,  They have amazing prices, free shipping, and my parts arrived so quickly!  In fact, I ordered them on a Wednesday afternoon, and they were sitting on my front porch by 11am the next day.  That's amazing!  Anyway, I had never done this job, but after renting a spring compressor from Autozone, I had everything off and replaced in no time, like 6 hours!  Here's a picture of me in the middle of it all.
You can tell I was doing this for the first time as you see my laptop open to a forum with picture to help.
Everything works, and it is SO MUCH better than before.  I bet our tires will wear much better and last much longer now too.

Yesterday was a whole lot of fun.  After church and eating with some friends/family, Jennifer and I decided to get our Christmas cheer on.  We drove to Michigan City, IN to hop on the South Shore Line train that goes from South Bend to Chicago.
Jennifer had taken the train a couple times, but I was all giddy as this was my first ride.  It wasn't too bad at all.  It took about an hour and a half that included several stops to pick up passengers.  It was pretty comfortable, and I really have no complaints since we didn't have to drive or pay for parking!
I was messing with Instagram on my phone for this pic.  Can you tell we're not really looking at the lens?
Finally, we arrived in Chicago for the Magnificent Mile Christmas Lights/Parade.  We had to walk a couple blocks to the corner of Michigan and Wacker where the parade would pass by.  All I can say is, we weren't the only people that thought this would be a great way to welcome the Christmas season.  There were TONS of people there, and to top it off, they were all cranky and pushy.
Jennifer was pretty awesome and "pushed" us to about 30 feet from the front.  It would have been a great spot to see the parade, but as soon as Mickey Mouse came by, all the parents popped their kids on their shoulders, and we got a great view of their backs!  Why should the kids get to see the parade?  :)  We spent the next hour right underneath this streetlight with shoes.

The only way to see the parade was to raise my phone and take a couple pics.  I'm not too sure about the iphone's camera.  Sometimes the pictures are great, but other times they are pretty weak.  Here are a few pictures from the parade.

After the parade had ended, there was a ten minute fireworks display that was a little lacking.  Here is a little video of what it was like.

Once everything was done and the crown began to disperse, Jenn and I were starving!  We tried to eat at Giordano's pizza, but the hour and 20 minute wait was a little too much for us.  We ended up eating at one of our favorite places, Noodles & Co.

After some delicious noodles, we decided to walk down Michigan Ave. to see the shops and lights.  It was a lot of fun!

We made it to our train on time and got home around 1am.  All in all, it was a blast.  The parade wasn't all that great.  The fireworks weren't all that great.  But to have a fun night with your best friend is always terrific!

I leave you with one last picture of Maglee to wish you a good week.  She's a huge fan of clean laundry, especially if it is soft!

Have a happy Thanksgiving!  I'll give you a race report and a meal report sometime next week.  Jenn and I are headed south to my parents place.  Have a great time wherever you will be, and take it easy on the Turkey!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Weekend Recap

Tuesday, November 15, 2011  at 6:52 AM
This past weekend was a whole lot of fun and included some unusual dynamics.  I know it's Tuesday, but better late than never, right?  Here's what I did:

Jennifer and I worked from home for Dr. Kunze.  This job is kind of a side job when Jenn is not doing Dental Hygiene and I'm not working at my other job.  We basically do data entry for a German/English Theological Dictionary.  It's kind of a silly job, but it makes a little extra dough, and it's not that bad when we do it together.  Need a definition for a German word?  Click Here...  :)

After some work, we decided to go for a run.  We decided on just doing a 10k around one of our favorite loops.  It was such a nice run although it was a bit cold.  I'm so blessed to be able to workout and sweat a little with my awesome wife, Jennifer!  It's really cool to enjoy the same thing as your best friend.

Saturday morning, we did the usual...wake up, walk the dog, and get ready for church.  I had been asked to preach for church at the La Porte Seventh-day Adventist church this past Sabbath.  The pastor of that church was going to be gone, so while I did field school, he asked me to preach for him. (Remember what I was doing all last month with evangelism?)  Since I've been up here at Seminary at Andrews University, I haven't had a whole lot of opportunities to preach other than once in Washington D.C. for a special weekend back in January.  So, I was excited to be back in the pulpit.  We drove the 45 minutes to the church and had plenty of time to hook up my computer for some powerpoint action.  Here's a not-so-great picture of the front of the church.

After getting my mic on, it was time to start the service.  It's always a little awkward being at a church where the flow is a little different than what I'm used to.  I had a little head start on figuring out the order of the service because I had seen it a couple times in October.  It was also really great to know a few names and faces to tie in to the sermon.  Speaking of the sermon, I got a copy of it just for you.  Now, there is absolutely no pressure to listen to it, because it is about 30 minutes long.  But, if you've got the time, feel the urge to listen to a sermon, or just want to hear what I sound like, then here it is:

Tower Power from Matthew Smith on Vimeo.

Or, if you just want to see me in "action," here's a picture for ya:

Sunday:  Yesterday was filled with the normal boring things like homework and Nascar. (Don't make too much fun...I'm from the South)  Jenn and I did squeeze a 5k in to our evening plans right before dusk.  We had good intentions of running a long run, but the wind was CRAZY, so that wasn't going to happen.  I spent some time on the trainer too.  I'm really enjoying these indoor rides even though they can get boring.  I'm sure in a few weeks I'll be so sick and tired of the trainer, but what can you do?

We've got a week and a half till the Atlanta Half.  We might try to do one more longer run and a few more shorter ones.  Both of us are feeling very confident about this race. That's scary to me since the last time I was confident, I failed BIG time at the Holy Half Marathon.  Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Iphone Frustration! (Whining Alert)

Wednesday, November 09, 2011  at 5:38 PM

This post probably will have nothing to do with anything athletic, although my blood pressure rose several times during this process.  But, when it's all said and done, I FINALLY GOT MY IPHONE!

Jennifer and I have been behind the times ever since we got our first cell phones.  I've always had the freebie that they give you at the store.  We're both pretty economical cheap, so ever since we've been married, there was no way we were going to pay for a data plan.  Well, we finally caved in, but we got a good deal.  We decided to join my sister and brother-in-law on their family plan.  That way, everyone scores a good deal.  It turns out, we will actually pay LESS by having two iPhones with data plans.

Basically, ever since our contract ended on June 24, I have googled the new iPhone EVERY day.  I was up to date with all the rumors about iPhone 5.  I knew what the cases looked like before the phone came out.  I read everything I could get my hands on.  Can you imagine my excitement when the iPhone 4s was announced?  My sister was totally on the ball and called me asking if we were ready to Pre-Order on October 7.  Oh yes we were!!!  So, Mindy called on October 6 to talk with AT&T.  They said they would call her back the next day.  Well, it just so happened that she missed their phone call, so we technically didn't Pre-Order till October 10.  For all we knew, the phones were to be delivered to her house in Chattanooga on October 14, just like everyone else's!

With eager excitement and anticipation, we waited by our old phones to get the call that our NEW phones had arrived.  That call never came.  In fact, we waited several days.  Finally, Mindy got and forwarded an email to me that said that our phone had been back ordered and would be delivered in 21-28 days!  Are you kidding me?  That is ridiculous!  But we waited...

After two weeks of waiting, the money had been taken out of our account.  That email had stated that they would not take the money until the phones had shipped.  Well, I finally called AT&T to see what was going on.  They were of course no help, but said that we would have our phones soon.  Jennifer's white iPhone shipped that very day.  It arrived the next (IN CHATTANOOGA), and we continued to wait for my phone to ship.  Again, after another week, I called AT&T to see what was up.  They said that the black phones were more requested, but we should have it before the end of the week.

In the meantime, we decided to have my sister ship Jenn's phone to us.  I was already planning on driving down to Mindy's house, and I would pick mine up this past weekend.  USPS was supposed to deliver Jenn's this Saturday, but NO!  We again were so frustrated.  I felt like a little kid waiting for Christmas morning.  We were so ready for our new phones!

I drove down to Chattanooga on Sunday, and finally got my phone.  Man, I feel like one of the cool kids now.  Kevin Neumann wondered if I needed some help getting into the cool kid club.  See his Facebook message:

Well, Kevin, I made it, and so did Jenn!  Her phone arrived on Monday, and we've fallen in love with Apple.  I sure was missing out before I got this phone.  I absolutely love it!  It's so much fun and does everything!  Yes, it was worth the wait, and I'm really pleased.  Thanks for listening to me vent and whine.

On another note, we've got 15 days till the Atlanta Half-Marathon.  It's been pretty crazy around here, and I haven't been doing much running.  I'm sure Jenn and I will put in some more miles before race day, but I'm lacking a little motivation.  The best part of running on Thanksgiving day is not feeling guilty about pigging out later!!!  :)

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

10 foot in front of the other (AGAIN)

Tuesday, November 01, 2011  at 10:17 AM
I'm having a lack of motivation, and it affects everything!  Jenn and I both are supposed to be hardcore training for this half marathon coming up in 24 days, but we just aren't that motivated.  This causes issues in the rest of life.  Without the intense workout schedule, I don't burn as many calories and have a tough time maintaining the notches in my belt.  Secondly, I find that I don't have too much to blog about!  :(  Erika @ This Spartan Will did her best to get me blogging more than once every two weeks with the Versatile Blogger Award, but I have a hard time doing those "Chain Blogs."  But today, I am proud to admit that there has been some activity worth blogging!

I left you last time with a picture of my new niece, Brynlie, who I was about to meet.  She's AWESOME!  I got to feed her and hold her and put her in her PJ's.  My sister even let me hold her while she SCREAMED for 20 minutes. (Thanks, Mindy!  Actually, I enjoyed every minute of it.)  Here's a picture of the two of us just getting to know each other.

Jennifer and I had great aspirations of running our long run on Sunday last week, but it turned into a 4 mile jog.  Yay for cheating!  However, yesterday, we finally mustered up the courage to lace up the ole sneaks and hit the pavement.  We decided that since we skipped 9 miles last week that we would do 10 this week to make up for it.  We ran a route that we had run last time we ran 10 in training for the Holy Half Marathon.  As we were about to walk out the door, I realized that my ipod was dead.  What an idiot!  Way to be prepared.  So, Jennifer had a head start on me while I let my ipod charge for about 8 minutes.  As I started running, I was a little worried that Jenn would be a carrot dangling out there in front of me that would push me a little too hard as I was catching her.  But, when I caught her at 4.5 miles, I realized that I was right on track and wasn't pushing too hard.  The run went really well.  It was 51 degrees outside, so I was in shorts and a long sleeve shirt.  The wind wasn't too bad, and the miles just clicked by.  The last 2.5 miles were a little struggle in the sense that I felt like I was going slow and just couldn't find any speed, but  I finished 10 miles in 1:21 at a pace of 8:11's.  That's pretty great for me.  Plus, that means that I would still have 29 minutes to run a 5k to reach my goal of a 1:50 half marathon.  I think it's possible!  Here's the comparison of yesterday's run with the last time I ran it in March.  It looks like I'm a tad bit faster, which is great because I felt like I was in better running shape back then.

When I got home, I was freezing cold and just a wee bit salty.  I thought you might like to see my raccoon eyes of salt.
Jenn had a good run too and is feeling strong and ready to beat her goal.  With only a couple weeks, we're starting to get amped up and ready for some race bling and a new shirt!  Isn't that why we do this?

I hope you all are having a blessed week, and thanks for reading!