Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas Fun

Saturday, December 31, 2011  at 6:13 PM
I hope each of you had a wonderful Christmas and are excited for 2012 to begin at midnight tonight!  I've really enjoyed reading so many of your "Best of 2011" posts with all the exciting achievements that you accomplished this year.  One of my accomplishments was growing a three-week-old beard.  Jennifer wanted me to grow it out, so I allowed it to happen for just a few weeks.  Here's what I got.
Complete with "sleepy" hair in the back
My Christmas was a whole lot of fun!  Usually there is a ton of family drama that makes it less enjoyable, but this year, it seems that the drama all happened before Jennifer and I got there.  That's AWESOME!  Jenn and I drove to Dalton, GA where her parents live.  We always flip-flop the holidays between our families to make it "fair."  We got to grab a bite to eat with my dad, mom, sister, brother-in-law and niece at Lupi's pizza in downtown Chattanooga which is possibly one of my favorite places to eat.  That was fun, and then it was on to Jenn's family.  We actually got to celebrate twice, once with her mom's family, and then once with just Jenn's family.  I did score some sweet stuff including some swiftwick socks (my favorites!) and this little gem...
Since I've been doing so much riding on the trainer, I really wanted to see speed and be able to record my mileage as well as have a computer that recorded cadence.  Previously, I had this computer minus the cadence.  The biggest difference is that you mount the magnet on the rear wheel so it'll work on the trainer. It is amazing!  I am really enjoying seeing all that info while I'm sweating.

I also got a sweet little number that I've been wanting for awhile.  It just came in the mail today.

It is so sweet!  I've read the manual and can't believe all the functions it has.  It has "slap technology" so I can just touch the screen, and it'll split/lap.  I'm pretty stoked!

But, I wanted to share my favorite part of Christmas vacation with you.  It happened on Christmas morning, and I can't really take any credit for it.  My mother-in-law, Kathy, decided that she wanted to do something as a family to help others this year.  She works with the community a lot and has quite a few connections, so she hooked us up with Providence Ministries which is a place for men and women that are abused, addicted or just need help.  They were planning a huge Christmas present giveaway for the city of Dalton, and they needed help.  We got up on Christmas morning, and Trevor, Jenn's brother, and Wyntre, Trev's girlfriend, and I busted out a nice 6 mile run which was really awesome.  Then, after showering and eating, we drove over to Providence Ministries.  As we pulled into the parking lot, I about lost my composure because of the huge line of people that were outside in the rain waiting to go inside to have a Christmas.  I was so choked up, and I wondered if I could make it through the whole thing, but we went inside and put name tags on.  We walked into a really large room that was filled with tables surrounded by people eating a special Christmas meal.  Then, we went into another room where all the families that had children were.  They were seated in rows that faced three rows of tables piled high with presents.  Here's what it looked like.
We got a few instructions, and it was go time.  Basically, our job was to take one kid at a time through the tables and allow them to pick out a present from each table, a stuffed animal at the end, dig through a box of miscellaneous items, grab a bag of candy, and then take them outside to where their parents were waiting.  It was so incredible to just meet these little kids that wouldn't have a Christmas present to open without this ministry.  I had a hard time controlling my emotions throughout the couple hours that we were there.  There was a news man from Chattanooga that was there with a video camera, and he asked to interview me for the news.  Sweet!  I'm famous!  :)  I never saw the interview on tv, so maybe they thought I wasn't good looking enough.  :(  Anyway, I felt like a stalker, but I snapped a picture of the last kid before we left.  His name was Kevin, and he was super cool just like all the other kids.
Here's a picture of the four of us siblings after we were done.

I haven't yet completed my 2012 goals/resolutions, but I do know that helping more people will be on that list.  It was so rewarding and such a blessing.  I am so blessed in so many areas, and I don't deserve it.  It's nice to stop from our busy lives to just see how amazing everything is around us when others are struggling at life in so many ways.

May 2012 be the greatest year you have had yet.  I look forward to meeting many of you bloggers at different races.  Have fun and be safe at your New Year's parties wherever you are...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Random New Things

Sunday, December 18, 2011  at 6:23 PM
Thanks for the votes for the gingerbread houses.  I'm pretty sure that Kevin and Jennie won with the one on the right, although I did get several comments about the roof on the Smith's gingerbread house.

Obviously, since it is the "off season," I haven't been doing a whole lot of actual training.  For the most part, I have been spending 4 or 5 nights on the trainer downstairs as my workouts.  Don't jump on me too bad; I go HARD when I'm down there.  But, there hasn't been much running or swimming going on.  I do have to take a second to brag on my awesome wife.  She has been on the trainer just as much and probably more than I have been, but this afternoon, she switched it up a bit and went for a quick 5k.  I was out washing our car, but when she came back she reported to me that she had just run her fastest 5k at 8:57's!  That's so stinking fast from where she was at the beginning of the year.  Jenn is definitely the Most Improved Athlete!  Way to go Jenn!

Now, on to the random newness...

#1: "The Stick"
At the Atlanta Half Marathon, Jennifer and I got introduced to a sweet little item that might be the best weapon in the recovery arsenal.  Say "hello" to "The Stick."
This baby is amazing!  I'm sure many of you athlete followers of this blog have one, but we didn't.  If you don't know what it is, it is basically a bendable muscle stretcher that you rub on your muscles to get rid of soreness and pain.  I actually went to the expo with some tightness in both of my legs, but after 2 minutes with "the stick," I felt so much better.  We actually didn't buy it at the expo, but did the day after the race for some instant pain/relief.

#2: Maglee's House Coat
Our little pup, Maglee, is a short-haired dog, and this means that winter isn't her favorite part of the year.  It could be 80 degrees in our house, but she will still sit on the bed and shiver.  We've tried to buy her jackets and sweaters, but because she has such a big chest and tiny waist, they never fit really well.  We decided that we were just going to have to make a custom house coat for her that would really fit, so here's how it went down by way of pictures...
I had to make some measurements...  Doesn't my "model" look more like a Dachshund?  
I used some scraps to make a test jacket to make a pattern
After drawing the pattern onto the fleece, it was time to cut the real jacket
Using my mom's old sewing machine, I started stitching it all together
It was obvious that Maglee was already enjoying the soft warmness.  She was excited!
Finally it was done and ready to be worn.
Perfect fit!
It even has velcro to keep it tight.
#3: My new ringtone
Now I know some of you might be thinking, "Personal ringtones are so 90's.  That is lame!"  But hold your horses, because you haven't heard mine.  My good buddy, Donnie Keele, is gifted in so many ways, but he's really good at mixing some pretty sweet beats too.  I had asked him a couple times to make me one, and so when he got some free time over Thanksgiving break, he made me one.  Here it is!
I's pretty amazing and hilarious!  He does it all: the rapping, the singing, the mixing.  I told him that he needs to make a website and start selling personalized ringtones for everyone.  You could just tell him about yourself and your personality, pick from a couple different beats, and then he'd make one just for you.  In fact, if you think he should turn this into a business, shoot him an email at to let him know you want one!

So, although my blog is going from being about training to more of a blog about life, I've been staying in shape and dreaming about triathlons and other events in 2012.  Actually, I made a new page at the top with some possibilities for next season.  Tell me what you think.  Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011  at 6:59 PM
Sunday was the great blogger gingerbread house decorating competition.  Here's how it went down.

Kevin and Jennie Neumann were nice enough to invite us to come play with them.  And I have to take a minute just to say that they are some of the greatest people in Michigan.  They are so generous and kind.  I can learn so much from them and their caring way of life.  They seem to always be cheerful and upbeat.  I just like hanging out with them as much as I can.  Kevin probably will record his side of the story on his blog HERE.  But, to make this day epic, we needed a plan.  I came up with the bright idea to do gingerbread houses.  The problem was that I'd never done them before and had no idea how much work it was.  It wasn't till Saturday night when I got a picture message from Kevin that I realized that he had spent much of his day in the kitchen building our houses.  Here is the picture:
His text: "Are you ready?"
What a great guy to get a suggestion from his guest and then buy gingerbread cookie cutters, find a recipe, and then spend hours building and baking.  Thanks, Kevin!

Once Jenn and I arrived, we first had to have a blogger-puppy meet up in the back yard.  Bailey is such a good dog and was happy to chase Maglee around as they both nipped at each other.  They are about the same size and seemed to like each other, at least Bailey sure "liked" Maglee if you know what I mean.  ;)
We all just hung out for awhile, but then it was go time on the gingerbread houses.  Kevin made a batch of "glue," and we began.
Jennie helped out too.
We had a great spread of candy to decorate with, so there were plenty of options.  Jennifer and I were rookies, but I think they turned out pretty great.  But here is where you come in.  You get to decide who wins!  Which one is better?  Who did a better job decorating?  The one on the left or on the right?
So you could see the whole house, I decided to take a little video, so here it is...

Who is the Gingerbread House Decorating Winner?