jenjoandpaleo

Seasoned Ground Beef/Chicken/Turkey – Easy MEALPREP Recipe!

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It certainly has been awhile. Not simply days or weeks… but rather months since our last post. My apologies. I wish I could say that we were incredibly busy and had no time to even think about blogging, but that isn’t true at all. Yes, there were times when we were quite busy (doesn’t everyone have those busy seasons?), but we most certainly had SOME time to blog something. So shame on us! We will try not to go too long between posts in the future.

I will have a LITTLE bit more time on my hands as I am forced to take a small hiatus from running or anything high-impact really. Stupid me, I decided to train too hard last week for my half-marathon. I started speed work last week, and I pretty much overexerted my feet. After a couple of days of pain in my left foot when I walked, I decided to go to my foot doctor. He told me it wasn’t the fact that I was unfit or incapable of running longer distances, I just put too much pressure on my feet too quickly when I tried to do speed work. I don’t have any symptoms of a stress fracture (thank goodness), but I’m being prescribed an anti-inflammatory medicine, need to take rest the foot, ice it twice-daily, and NOT DO ANY HIGH-IMPACT WORK OUTS. WHOMP WHOMP.

I only do high-impact work outs (running, Insanity, etc.), so this poses a dilemma for me. I guess after resting for a week I’ll get back to PiYo (a more low-impact workout that blends pilates and yoga) to lean out and tone out my muscles.

This is such an unideal time for me to be out of commission! 1) I have a 5K this weekend that I was planning on running with Joseph and my StuCo kids, so now that’s a bust; 2) I NEED to train for my half-marathon coming up in January (Aramco Half anyone? Anyone?); and 3) Joseph is being featured in an P90X Live video on Beachbody on Demand TOMORROW, and I wanted to check out the video and work out with him! #supportivefeyonce (Shameless plug – sign-up for Beachbody on Demand for FREE for 30-days and check him out! Seriously. Go. goo.gl/AbWFOT)

Okay, back to the purpose of this post. Recipe. Summer is usually the time when I cook the most, and this summer was no different. I’ve learned the art of meal-prepping for not just one, but TWO! Joseph eats like a monster, and I’ve been trying to find a variety of ways to not only whip up something that’s somewhat palatable but also something that be made in bulk. This is where ground meat comes in. I like this recipe because it’s so versatile. Honestly, me posting this isn’t really useful because I’m sure anyone could come up with this on their own and/or it’s already something you make. Maybe I’m just late to the game.

Let’s begin! Gather the ingredients!

FOUR (or five) INGREDIENTS NEEDED FOR THIS ONLY! EASY PEASY! Love it!
FOUR (or five) INGREDIENTS NEEDED FOR THIS ONLY! EASY PEASY! Love it!
  • 1-2lbs ground meat (can be ground chicken, beef, turkey, etc., and the amount depends on how much you want to cook)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 diced onion
  • 1-2 minced cloves of garlic (optional, sometimes I’m lazy and give up on the mincing)
  • 1-2TBSP fat of choice (I tend to use extra virgin olive oil over ghee, I’ve found that when you refrigerate ground meat cooked with ghee, it hardens and looks nasty. But if you’re eating it immediately after, ghee gives the meat a better flavoring)
  • Flavorgod Seasoning of choice (if you don’t have this yet… GET IT. I use it for everything!)
  1. Turn stove on to medium heat and place a large pan on top of the stove. When the pan is sufficiently heated, add your fat of choice.
  2. Add your diced onions and garlic. Cook onions a few minutes until it’s slightly translucent.
  3. Add your ground meat to the pan and begin cooking until meat is half-way cooked. Season meat according to your taste
    Season accordingly. This is the CAJUN seasoning of Flavorgod. It looks like I may have over seasoned, but you can honestly barely taste it!
    Season accordingly. This is the CAJUN seasoning of Flavorgod. It looks like I may have over seasoned, but you can honestly barely taste it!

    buds, but don’t be afraid to add a good amount of seasoning! I tend to season things with a lighter hand, but ground meat actually needs a good amount of seasoning before you can begin to taste the seasoning. I wish I could tell you exactly how much to put in… but I honestly eyeball it. Sorry, I’m useless.

  4. Continue cooking until meat is thoroughly done!

I honestly might be completely off in how to cook this. It is possible that I overcook the meat. But Joseph is such an easy eater that I wouldn’t know if I was doing something wrong. So please use your best judgment in cooking this, haha. 🙂

When you’ve cooked this enough, it can easily take under 15 minutes to prep AND cook it. I love to pair this with fresh cucumbers and if I’m feeling particularly naughty, eat it with BROWN RICE (dun dun dun!!!).

I just love this dish because it’s SO easy to make and you virtually only need to go out to the grocery store to buy two to three fresh ingredients if you don’t have it at home already (meat, onions, garlic). Two pounds of this is more than enough protein to meal prep lunches for almost an entire week for two people.

Almost cooked! You can see the light coloring from the cajun seasoning. :)
Almost cooked! You can see the light coloring from the cajun seasoning. 🙂

If you make something similar, what do you like to season your ground meat with? Any other tips and suggestions?

Until the next meal,

Joseph + Jennifer

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Sautéed Butter Mushrooms – RECIPE

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Oftentimes, when I’m cooking for the both of us, I have an idea for the main dish of the entree, but I get stuck with what side dish to complement it. My go-to side dish always consist of MUSHROOMS! I love mushrooms because they are so versatile, and they pair well with almost virtually any main dish component (chicken, beef, fish, pork, etc.).

Gather the ingrdients!

  • 1-2 cups of mushrooms white OR brown (I typically buy pre-sliced mushrooms to make my life easier)
  • 1/2 a large white onion (or 1 small white onion)
  • 1TBSP of paleo butter, ghee, or fat of choice (I always go for paleo butter or ghee!)
  • 1tsp garlic powder
  • 1tsp thyme
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • Other seasoning as needed (have fun with it! I play around with thyme, oregano, basil, asian 5 spice, etc.)

Directions:

  1. Slice onions (or don’t slice them if you were lazy and purchased them pre-sliced like I did)
  2. Set heat of stove to medium-high and place a large saucepan on the stove. Wait for the saucepan to heat up before doing anything. You want the saucepan to be proportionally hot all around to really get that saute going!
  3. Add your butter/lard to the pan
  4. After the butter has melted, add onions. I like to caramelize my onions and get them to brown a little. I’m not a huge onion fan, but man… the smell of caramelized onions… YUM.

    The smell of onions, ghee, and mushroom in the frying pan.... yummy!
    The smell of onions, ghee, and mushroom in the frying pan…. yummy!
  5. After onions are sufficiently browned and cooked through, add the mushrooms. After a few minutes add your seasoning. This is where you can play around with the seasoning. Most seasonings pair really well with mushrooms, but be sure to season your mushrooms with a light hand. Heat tends to intensify flavors, and you don’t want to overpower the taste of the mushroom itself.
  6. Saute for about 6-7 minutes until mushrooms are cooked through.
  7. Voila! Done!

Really simple and you can do so much with this! Hope you enjoy 🙂

Until the next meal,

Joseph & Jennifer

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts With Bacon – RECIPE

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Our engagement day! Blog post to come soon!
Our engagement day! Blog post to come soon!

I know, shame, shame, SHAME on us for the… oh, you know, 4 month delay in a new post. I attribute it to… life happenings, being busy, but also being lazy at the same time. A lot has occurred between February until now. I (Jennifer) wrapped up my second year teaching, Joseph has added multiple group fitness formats under his belt (P90X, PiYo, and TCX), I finally PR’d a 5K in March, we got engaged, I turned 26, oh wait… what? WHAT? WHAT?! Yes, we got engaged. Most of our readers are our friends, so it’s kind of old news to y’all whomp whomp, but I think we have a few readers who aren’t as familiar with our personal lives, so yes… WE GOT ENGAGED!!! I plan on posting a FULL BLOW-BY-BLOW POST of my emotions and what happened and all that wonderful jazz. Because everyone loves a good proposal. And boy… did Joseph do good. (Yes, I know. Incorrect use of good, but stylistically it works for the purpose of my sentence. GET OVER IT, MS. NGUYEN’S KIDS)

But we’ll save that for a later post. And we’ll save wedding planning woes for later posts as well. But let’s get back to the true purpose of this blog. Paleo-friendly recipes. But hey, I DID mention in our original post that this would include life tangent posts. And I think wedding stuff is a pretty big life tangent and will include those posts for other current and future brides that would like to know more about planning a wedding. Everyone loves a good (or bad) wedding planning story!

So, to be perfectly frank, we’ve been pretty bad at trying out new recipes. It’s been a whirlwind couple of months for us, so we’ve just been sticking to our usual tried-and-true recipes (i.e the recipes we’ve already posted). Sometimes I’ll throw a random mishmash of ingredients together, but I never find them worthy enough to post because I don’t think they taste that post-worthy. I’m also really bad at actually measuring out ingredients (insert Joseph sighing loudly because he’s all about measuring), so I don’t even know how much of everything I put in… Oops.

Farm fresh brussel sprouts from one of Joseph's fitness clients! UGHHH BRUSSEL SPROUTS.
Farm fresh brussels sprouts from one of Joseph’s fitness clients! UGHHH BRUSSEL SPROUTS.

This recipe is for brussel sprouts. Ugh. Brussels sprouts. I hate brussel sprouts. Even when I cook them, I hate them. I hate the way they look. I hate their texture. I hate THE NAME. Brussels sprouts. It even sounds disgusting. But Joseph gets batches of brussels sprouts from some of his fitness clients, and I have to do something with them to make them palatable. And I discovered the magical ingredient that transforms brussel sprouts into something I can handle. BACON. I don’t know what it is, but there is something about bacon that helps ease the pain of brussels sprouts. So here’s my recipe… ENJOY!

GATHER THE INGREDIENTS!

  • Brussels sprouts
  • Applegate Uncured Sunday Bacon – PALEO FRIENDLY BACON! THIS IS THE KIND YOU GET! APPLEGATE!
  • 1 tsp Sea salt
  • 1 tsp Ground pepper
  • 2 tsp Garlic powder**
  • 2 tsp Onion powder**

**To be honest, you can season as you’d like. I kept it simple. I also don’t know the measurements… I just eyeball it. You can leave out the garlic and onion powder if you’d like!

Brussel sprouts - de-
Brussels sprouts – de-“stemmed” and halved – removed a few outside leaves that still looked dirty as well.
  1. Wash brussels sprouts well and then cut the “stems” off. I like to pull off a layer or two of the brussels sprout for sanitary reasons. I am possibly wasting a lot of good brussels sprout leaves, but I like to be clean!
  2. Cut brussels sprouts in half and then set brussel sprouts to the side.
  3. Slice your bacon into small pieces or however big your bacon pieces you would like to be (the world is your oyster)
  4. Turn your stove to medium. Take a big skillet and throw in that bacon! No need to use any ghee/oil because that bacon will create its own fat.
  5. When bacon is sufficiently fried/browned, spoon out the bacon into a small bowl. LEAVE THE FAT IN THE SKILLET! Lower the stove heat to LOW or OFF.
  6. Add the brussels sprouts to the skillet. MAKE SURE YOUR BRUSSEL SPROUTS ARE DRY, or you will get some painful oil splash back (learned this the hard way). Once you’ve added all your brussel sprouts, turn the heat back up to medium.
  7. Season your brussel sprouts accordingly. Cook for about 7-10 minutes stirring occasionally. Some of your brussels sprouts will brown. That is good (in my opinion). I’ll add a cover on top sometimes to give the brussels sprouts some steaming action. Helps bake the brussels sprouts a little more tender.
  8. After 10 minutes, turn the stove to low and add the bacon bits and stir around until everything is fully integrated.
  9. VOILA! YOU ARE DONE! I hope it tastes good for you.

    Brussel sprouts with uncured bacon pieces - bacon flavor is nicely infused into the brussel sprouts especially when cooking with bacon fat!
    Brussels sprouts with uncured bacon pieces – bacon flavor is nicely infused into the brussel sprouts especially when cooking with bacon fat!

Hope you enjoyed the recipe! Again, you can ALWAYS play around with the seasonings! I still don’t like brussels sprouts in the least. But now I know what to do with them! I might try roasting them next time, but I’ve had roasted brussels sprouts before, and they are not my cup of tea. We promise to try and not laze about before posting another recipe/update!

Until the next meal,

Joseph & Jennifer

My First Marathon! (Joseph’s Story)

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To quote the great Barney Stinson,

“Here’s how you run a marathon: Step 1: You start running. There is no step 2.”

If you have no idea what I’m referring to, watch the video above. All jokes aside, I completed my first full marathon yesterday. 26.2 miles. Yes, that 0.2 miles is important. If you’ve run 26 miles, you didn’t run a marathon.

I finished the Houston marathon warm-up series a few months ago and figured, “I might as well run a marathon.” I had already trained and ran up to 18.6 miles so the full marathon was my next step. I decided to sign up for the USA Fit marathon in Sugar Land. The race seemed to offer quite a bit when I had signed up. A finisher’s shirt, jacket, and medal would all be provided, as well as access to all the race photos for free.

Crossing the finish line, finally. 26.2 miles later.
Crossing the finish line, finally. 26.2 miles later.

Before the race even began, the weather prediction for the entire weekend was rain and cold weather. Now I’ve run in the rain, and I’ve run in the cold, but put those two together for 4 hours… my nerves were going crazy all of last week. A few days before the marathon, I received an email saying that the medals would not be there in time. Although I realize a marathon is about your journey and not some medal, I was pretty bummed.

At last, race day was here and I checked my phone. The odds were ever in my favor for the weather. The weather was in the 60s and no rain! As soon as I got to the race, Jennifer hears the sound of medals clanging. She says, “Maybe those are the medals!” Of course I didn’t believe her because of the email, but I later hear a volunteer say “WE GOT THEM!” Happy me.

For my first marathon, I had pretty high expectations. I wanted to finish sub 4. I decided long before race day that I would follow a 4 hour pacer and speed up at the end to get my sub 4. This wasn’t a bad idea. I kept up with the pacer, who was very nice, for about 19 miles and then the clear skies got to me. Now if you’ve ever ran down University Boulevard in Sugar Land, you should know that there is NOTHING to shade you from the heat. By the time mile 19 got around, it was hot. There was a lack of water stations, and I had completely exhausted not only my own water supply but my Honeystinger waffles as well.

Completed my first full marathon #slay
Completed my first full marathon #slay

My IT band started to flare up and so I started to walk thinking, “I have 7.2 more miles…” If you’ve raced long distances before, you know that it sucks to run by yourself, so I befriend a female runner who was pacing with the 4 hour group and was also struck by the “wall.” We start running again and have a friendly chat. Her shirt says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” and I use that as my mantra to push me. All is Gucci until she has to use the restroom. I lose my buddy and trot along, a loner once more. I’ve slowed down so much that the 4:15 pace group is on my heels. Eventually I tag along with them. I get to mile 22 before the pacer has to use the restroom and all hell breaks loose on earth. I am alone once more. The 4:15 pacer was a crazy inspiration. He’d run a marathon in every state. Talk about dedication and a slight case of OCD. I will never be that crazy. Insane maybe, but not crazy.

It’s mile 23 and I start to walk again. Another guy passes by me and starts to walk asking, “How many miles do we have left?” I tell him after looking at my GPS watch and my new friend and I decide to start running again. This guy tells me he’s about to turn 39 and wants to complete a marathon before 40. I say, “Let’s do it. Let’s get you there.” We chat it up as we’re running and we get to a point where I just start speeding up. I’ve found my second wind and runner’s high once again. My new-found friend quickly realizes and by about mile 24.5 he tells me “go for it.” After hearing that, I decide to just do it.

I’m running a bit under a 9-minute mile the rest of the way (gotta make up for that walking). I’ve run down this path plenty of times and know what to expect. I see mile 25 and I’m all smiles. The marathoners and half-marathoners walking see me and start to cheer me on. I honestly start to tear up a bit behind my sunglasses. Maybe something caught my eye in the wind.

The finish line is in sight and I see my beautiful girlfriend waiting and cheering for me. I see the gun time at 4:24: and climbing. I speed up and finish in 4:24:26. I received my glorious medal and all is right in the world. I take some pics with bae and wait to see all my new friends finish shortly behind me. The 4:00 pacer had waited for everyone that initially was with her to finish and congratulate them. My pace ends up being 10:06 min/mile. I can live with that and will use it as a stepping stone for next year’s Houston marathon. I get my finisher shirt and all the food I can get.

My bae always waiting for me at the end of every race. Or running in front of me.
My bae always waiting for me at the end of every race. Or running in front of me.

And so began the road to recovery… just kidding. I taught Insanity yesterday, teaching twice today, and one more time tomorrow LOL. This is why I said I was insane earlier. The motivation to push people past their limits and all that adrenaline really pushes me… even through some soreness. Some tips:

  • Guise, this is all you need: http://www.amazon.com/Rubys-Lube-Natural-Anti-Chafe-Balm/dp/B00MH7G8GO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422926390&sr=8-1&keywords=ruby%27s+lube. I will leave it at that because you know why.
  • Prepare and follow a program. It will help you no doubt. Stick to it. I would say to maybe even over train and go past the usual 19-22 miles suggested in training programs. A marathon is no joke and you need to have adequate training.
  • Hydrate early. Even though I drank a ton of water before and during, you really need to hydrate earlier than you think.
  • Have fun while you’re training. Preparing for a marathon is a learning experience. You will have ups and downs. Roll with the punches and don’t stay down.

I’ll end this post with another funny marathon video:

Some of these stages are on fleek. Yeah, I said fleek.

#slay

-Joseph

Paleo Waffles Recipe

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I LOVE cooking breakfast foods! I attribute it to the fact that they are so easy to whip up, and you can technically eat them at any time of the day. Breakfast. Brunch. Brinner. 4th Meal. 5th Meal.

One of my concerns with attempting a more paleo-friendly diet was losing foods that I adored. Like bread. And pastas. And rice. And cookies. And cupcakes. But to my pleasant surprise, there are a plethora of recipes out there for paleo-friendly breads, cookies, and the like! Of course, there are SOME things that are just irreplaceable (like beignets…), but many of these recipes offer a close second to the real deal.

Which brings me to our next featured recipe: waffles. Yes, there is such a thing as a paleo waffle! I was just as surprised when I came across this recipe as well. Thank you to the blog, Cherry On My Sundae, for the share! These waffles are fantastic.

Fresh waffle straight from the wafflemaker... NOMS!
Fresh waffle straight from the wafflemaker… NOMS!

Gather the ingredients:

  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 medium apple, peeled and cored
  • 1 cup smooth almond butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot powder
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • coconut spray or melted coconut oil
The steps are pretty easy.
  1. Puree the fruit in a blender and then mix all the ingredients together.
  2. That’s it! Cook paleo waffles as you would regular waffles in a waffle maker.
I literally just throw all of the ingredients in a blender and puree that baby away. When you are ready to make the waffles, you will want to make sure that you are greasing the waffle maker quite well with the coconut oil spray or coconut oil! Otherwise, the batter will stick to the pan. Cook the waffle according to your respective waffle maker.

These waffles don’t taste like your typical waffle, so don’t have that expectation when you go into your first bite. I think that’s the flaw that people have when they’re trying paleo “substitutes.” They expect it to taste EXACTLY like the original, but when that taste doesn’t meet their expectation, they’re let down and decide that there’s no way the “substitute” could ever beat the real deal. But I think if you open your mind to the fact that they simply that, SUBSTITUTES, and not the actual dish, you will come to find that whatever it is you’re trying is quite delicious in its own way. And these waffles… they really are fantastic! Not too sweet with delicious aromas of banana and almond butter. I usually eat them as is with a few sliced strawberries, but you can serve them with Grade A maple syrup if you’d like. The first time I made these is when I realized that I could actually implement and enjoy this “paleo thing” that Joseph got me into.
Paleo-friendly waffles garnished with strawberries. So good that you don't even need syrup!!!
Paleo-friendly waffles garnished with strawberries. So good that you don’t even need syrup!!!
How did you like this “substitute”? Are there any other “substitute” recipes you’d like to see for non-paleo dishes you love?
Until the next meal,
Joseph and Jennifer

Aramco Half Marathon Race Recap – “Her Story”

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Race recap blog posts will be written by the both of us! Here is HER STORY (i.e mine) first. Keep in mind this is coming from a first-time half-marathoner and noob runner to say the least. Next post will be Joseph’s point of view!

WAKING UP: Well, you already know how I was feeling the night before. Needless to say, it took me FOREVER to actually get to sleep. Awesome. I was supposed to wake-up at 4AM, but for whatever reason only my SECOND alarm went off at 4:15AM. By that time, Joseph was already on his way to pick me up, so I needed to haul my butt and get ready as quickly as possibly. Fortunately, I already had everything prepped from the night before, so all it took was to put my clothes on, grab my breakfast, and head out to Joseph’s truck!

ARRIVING AT THE GEORGE R BROWN (GRB) CONVENTION CENTER: It wasn’t as bad as we expected. I was worried about traffic around GRB and finding parking, but I think we arrived early enough (5AM) to avoid the main bulk of traffic. The HouMarathon offered a 5:30AM Catholic mass service, so Joseph and I attended that service before doing anything else. That ending up being an incredibly calming and peaceful way for us to start off our race morning!

THE PORT-A-POTTY ADVENTURES: Before the Catholic mass, before checking anything in, and before ANYTHING/EVERYTHING in general, we decided to use the bathroom because we knew that it would become congested as more people arrived. Smart move on our end. Now, I’ve never actually used them before. I’ve seen them, and I understand the concept behind them, but I’ve never had the need to use the restroom so badly that I was willing to use one. So, I go into the port-a-potty, do my thing, and I look around for the toilet flush. Confused. No toilet flush to be seen. Very confused. I quickly text Joseph:

Me: “Babe! Where is the button to flush the toilet?”
Him: “There is none.”
Me: Horror slowly dawning on me… “WAIT. WHAT. THERE IS NONE? But… but… I just… pooped… it’s down there… OMG WHAT. PEOPLE WILL SEE IT.”
Him: “Yea. That’s what happens.”
Me: Shamefacedly opening the door slowly and peering out. Man next in line immediately steps up to enter the port-a-potty. Avoid eye contact and scurry away. Don’t look down into the toilet dear sir. Please don’t.

WOW. Okay, so I guess I never thought about port-a-potties properly. And I hate to be a pansy about it but… OMG EW. EW. EW. And then we had to go again to the port-a-potties around 6-7AM and WOW the lines were crazy. Everyone and their mother was using the bathroom. And by that time since thousands of people had been using the bathrooms the whole area smelled… runners’ bowel movements, y’all. And you really have no option sometimes but to look down into the toilet because the area is so small… but try not to. Seriously… try not to look there!!! Scarred for life. Inside the cavernous toilet bowl, mountains of… wow. Yea. Yea. That was an adventure I’ll never forget, unfortunately.

Random useful tips:

  • Go as early as you can. 5AM was perfect because there was virtually no wait. It’s also when the port-a-potties are the cleanest and have the least amount of waste piling up down below. YUCK.
  • Bring personal cleaning wipes! I felt much better using cleaning wipes over toilet paper in the port-a-potty. Peace of mind.
  • Bring hand sanitizer. They offer hand sanitizer in the port-a-pottys, but 1) it’s weak hand sanitizer and 2) it runs out quickly as the morning progresses.
  • GO TO THE BACK PORT-A-POTTIES. This applies to you if it’s 6AM-7AM and you see a congested line towards the front. There is not just ONE line to the bathroom. There are dozens! So keep walking FURTHER into the port-a-potties to find a good chunk of bathrooms that have shorter lines!

    7AM-7:27AM... taking selfies while waiting for our corral to be released. Gun went off at 7AM... STILL WAITING.
    7AM-7:27AM… taking selfies while waiting for our corral to be released. Gun went off at 7AM… STILL WAITING.

THE START OF THE RUN: Heading out to the race itself was beyond awe-inspiring. There were thousands, literally THOUSANDS of people streaming down the streets DT Houston. It was so cool to see. People of all walks of life, different races, different ages, people running for different reasons. It is quite beautiful to witness and be a part of. But all those people also meant shoulder-to-shoulder crowds in the streets. Really… shoulder-to-shoulder. It was insane. And unfortunately, Joseph and I were in corral D, the LAST corral that is released to run, so when the gun actually went off… because of the sheer amount of people in the race, we were unable to actually move anywhere until around 7:27AM… whomp whomp buzzkill.

MILE 2: Took a pit stop at the port-a-potties for the first time during the race. I wanted to get more out of my system as early as possible, so I wouldn’t break my stride too deep into the race. Smart idea. The lines were not long (they were longer at other stopping points), and again, it was early enough so not many people used those port-a-potties in the first place. Relatively clean and not smelly. HOORAH!

A shot of me waving to Katie and Jay at mile 6! THANKS FOR CHEERING!
A shot of me waving to Katie and Jay at mile 6! THANKS FOR CHEERING!

MILE 5-6: Feeling a little tired and stomach is empty. Losing energy. Took some Honeystingers Organic Energy Chews to boost up the energy. Also passed by my co-worker, Katie and her husband, Jay, who came out to cheer for us! More energy boosting. THANKS KATIE AND JAY!

MILE 7-8: Knowing I still had halfway to go was rough. During the race all I did was play games with myself. “Pass up one person, you can do it! Run more step because you can. Okay, another one. Another one. There’s another person. Pass them up!” I also read the signs that people were waving about, listening to people cheer, looking at all the dogs spectators brought with them, and just pondering about life. I had good moments and bad moments during the run. Moments where I was coasting and feeling good and then moments where I was irritable and grumpy because there was still X amount of miles to go.

ALMOST TO THE END (Mile 10 and beyond): This was rough. Incredibly rough. The hardest part of my race by far. I took another few Honeystingers Organic Energy Chews for more boosts of energy. I felt so close but so far away, and my legs were at this point trying to give out on me. I really wanted to give up. I wanted to just call it a day and walk it home. But Joseph wouldn’t let me. He knew I had more in me and encouraged me to “push past the wall.” And he also kept weaving in and out of people, and I had to catch up. I think that was his way of going, “I KNOW YOU CAN STILL RUN, SO STOP SLOWING DOWN!” I also thought about my friends at the end of the race. I had to at least still be running when I got to them! I couldn’t just have them come all the way out to see me just walk the end of the race! And I knew that deep down, if I gave up, I would be so disappointed with myself. I knew that I wanted to be able say, “I ran the half-marathon. All of it. I did it.” So I kept running. And I kept playing my game, “Pass this person up. Now this person.” And this is when I really took stock of the signs around me. “BRING IT HOME! YOU CAN DO IT! KEEP GOING!” And I used those as mantras to fuel me to the end. That very last mile though… I thought it was almost over. Pain was shooting through my leg muscles, my hands felt weird/tingly (hot? cold? they were confused), I started getting this raging headache… I think I cried out in pain and frustration a few times while running that last mile. Geeze, thinking about it again makes me cringe in pain.

This was the only picture I was capable of taking right after the half. This was after 50 feet of Joseph half-carrying me after the finish line when I realized, "Oh let's take a picture!"
This was the only picture I was capable of taking right after the half. This was after 50 feet of Joseph half-carrying me after the finish line when I realized, “Oh let’s take a picture!”

THE END: Seeing that finish line and the crowds of people surging with their cheers… was breathtaking. I tried to smile at my friends as I ran by… I think it looked more like a scary pained grimace. But finally crossing that finish line and knowing that I DID IT was… an indescribable feeling. I felt proud, empowered, exhausted, relieved, all these emotions rolled up together in one tiny brain. I looked to my left and grabbed Joseph’s hands, both in part because I was happy he was with me but also because I actually couldn’t stand up anymore. Romantic, huh? I think my brain couldn’t handle those emotions so it ended up going with the, “Let’s make Jennifer feel lightheaded and woozy and not capable of walking” reaction. My legs were as wobbly as Jell-O, and I needed Joseph to help me walk back to GRB.

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My amazing friends who waiting for me at the finish line! Appreciative of the support I always have!

REUNION: It was so great being done! Legs and feet were definitely in pain, and I wobbled and hobbled around to grab my belongings and meet up with my friends, Krysten, Karmina, Jessica, Angela, and David at the reunion. I felt so thankful that they were there to cheer me on and support my race! I wish I could have seen everyone else I knew that was running the race, but there were so many people the chances of finding people by chance were slim.

My tips to others (and myself) if I were do another half-marathon:

  • Train consistently. Really try and stick with a training program and don’t YOLO it the way I did during some weeks.
  • Run with someone. Friends, significant other, find a stranger in the race and befriend them. It’s nice to have someone with you during the race.
  • Eat more. I think I didn’t eat enough prior to my race. I had a small helping of potatoes and eggs and a Honeystinger organic waffle at 4:30AM, but I think I should have eaten something small a little closer to 6AM. Maybe another Honeystinger organic waffle?
  • Stay hydrated! One of my biggest weaknesses/flaws in life is not hydrating enough. I definitely did NOT drink enough water the weeks leading up to my race, but on race day as well. Joseph always tells me I never drink enough. I’m just bad about it! I also hate having to go the restroom all the time.
  • DON’T FREAK OUT. I’m a person who freaks out a lot by nature, so I don’t know if I’ll ever not freak out. But I can at least try and be calm and just let it happen.

The Chevron Marathon/Aramco Half Marathon is such an amazing race. The environment is great; the crowds are so positive; it really is one of the best races to run in Houston. It was the perfect race to run my first half marathon in! I feel really proud of myself. I’ve grown a lot in the past year, and I’ve accomplished goals i never thought were possible. Was the training and the pain worth it? Yes. I think so.

I DID IT. Rocking my half marathon finisher medal and shirt. I AM OFFICIALLY A HALF-MARATHONER!
I DID IT. Rocking my half marathon finisher medal and shirt. I AM OFFICIALLY A HALF-MARATHONER!

And, in a strange race-induced haze or something of the sort, Joseph signed up for the Chevron marathon next year, and I signed up for the Aramco half marathon once again. Do I want to do this? I don’t know. I really think that some part of me is a masochist, and I think I like torturing myself. UGH. But will I do it? Yes. I will. Is there a full marathon in my future? That… I don’t know. 13.1 miles was close to impossible for me… 26.2 miles? I can’t even begin to imagine that. But I said that about a half marathon a year ago… who knows.

I also still have another half marathon to run in exactly a month! Joseph and I signed up to do the Glass Slipper Challenge at Walt Disney World this February 2015. Saturday will be the Enchanted 10K race and then Sunday will be the Disney Princess Half Marathon. Back-to-back races. Am I excited about the run itself? Meh… slightly terrified again. Am I excited about Disney World and all the characters at the mile stopping points? UM HECK YES. THIS IS THE RUN FOR ME. THE HAPPIEST RUN ON EARTH AT THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH! Stay tuned, we’ll writing recap blog posts for that. And maybe even a video because we’ll be GoPro-ing that race!

Thanks for staying with me this entire post. AND JUST KEEP RUNNING! Who is going to run the Aramco Half with me next year!!!

-Jennifer

NERVES… for my (Jennifer) FIRST Half-Marathon

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My nerves are getting to me. Is running a half-marathon even something to get jittery over? It’s not as though I’m about to perform in front of an audience or take some big exam that will make or break my life. It’s just a simple run, right? I don’t know why I feel so nervous for. It’s 7:24PM, and I am laying here, waiting for sleep to arrive. Which isn’t happening. Because who really sleeps at 7PM? Oh right, Joseph. (Lucky him, he can sleep at any given moment it seems…)

I feel relatively prepared.

  • Cute running outfit? Check.
  • Check-in bag with jacket/sweats/etc.? Check.
  • Alarms set? 4AM. Check. 4:15AM. Check. 4:30AM JUST IN CASE. Check.
  • Carbed up for the week? Double check. Man, I thought I loved carbs… but that was pretty rough, forcing myself to carb up. Joseph carbed up strictly paleo (chicken and sweet potatoes). I was a little more lax by incorporating pasta alongside white/sweet potatoes in my carb diet this week, but I at least chose to cook with gluten-free quinoa pasta and organic no-sugar marinara sauce.

But am I physically and mentally prepared? I don’t know. I’ve been training since mid-October when my podiatrist gave me the clear to begin high-impact exercising. I was technically supposed to follow the Nike app training program for the half-marathon… but honestly, as a teacher, there were days when I just did not have time to run (darn you papers that I needed to grade!), and there were days when I just did not want to run. I tried to run at least three times a week, but to be honest with myself, I didn’t train as well as I could have and should have. And that terrifies me for tomorrow. Thinking about running 13.1 miles… I mean, that’s a pretty long distance and a long time. I’m worried for one of my toenails. I’m worried for my bowel movement (TMI, I know, but it’s a runner thing). I’m worried for my lungs. I’m worried for my feet, the left bunion foot AND the right surgery foot. I’m worried I won’t meet my goal to just keep running, no walking! What if I pass out? What if I collapse? WHAT IF I THROW UP? Embarrassing. Why did I do this to myself again? Oh right, I have no earthly idea.

I do know that I am thankful. Very thankful for supportive family, friends, co-workers, and even students who are willing to brave the cold and stand outside and cheer for me as I struggle across the finish line. What more could a girl ask for, right? Wrong. I am most thankful for Joseph, who has been my number one supporter, trainer, motivator, and everything all rolled up into one. Spending his Saturday mornings running behind me and pushing me to do my best when he could be A) sleeping in or B) running at a MUCH faster pace on his own. Helping me with my running by showing me the proper way to breathe while running and how to properly stretch afterwards. Surprising me with running gear that I didn’t realize I needed (wow, ear warmers and gloves in the winter… LIFECHANGING). Always telling me that I CAN do it. Knowing when to let me be me when I refuse to run. And just inspiring me to continue running because he can do SO much. I am fortunate and so very thankful.

AHHHHHHH!!! I really can’t believe I’m running a half-marathon tomorrow! I know that there are thousands of people who do this all the time, but it’s crazy to me that I am about to set forth and be one of those people! A year ago I could barely run a 5K, and here I am about to complete a half-marathon! Well… hopefully complete. Haha, let’s not jump the gun here. After the past few months, I have so much respect for real runners of multiple half-marathons and marathons. HUGE kudos to y’all.

Well, it really is time for me to try and get some shut-eye or else tomorrow’s run really will be rough. A big GOOD LUCK to all the half-marathoners and marathoners at the Chevron Houston Marathon/Aramco Houston Marathon tomorrow!!!

Half-Marathon ready! Well... at least I'll look ready. :)
Half-Marathon ready! Well… at least I’ll look ready. 🙂