Happy Mother’s Day

I will start by start by saying my mom has always been there for me but even just typing that doesn’t do it justice.  As many readers know, I’m extremely close with my mom.

Growing up in a military family, my mom took care of my brothers and I while my dad was deployed.

She moved 3 children under the age of 6 plus 2 dogs and 2 cats across the world when dad had to be at work.

As I went through middle school, my mom was there. Like most middle schoolers, I can’t say I was best behaved or pleasant to be around.  She took care of us.

She was there for me through my ups and downs of the teenage and high school years.  Like many teenagers, I never appreciated my mom as much as I should until I left for college.

high school prom

During college, I began missing my family and went through quite a bit of rough patches. I always knew I could call my mom and chat.  She helped when I switched majors, ended a relationship and quit swimming all within a month of each other.

Graduating college

Later, as I made my next big life step and moved in with my husband she helped plan and pack for that.  She helped plan and coordinate my wedding while we were several states away.

Mom and I

Now as a 26-year-old adult, I feel so lucky to be close with my mom.   Last week, she drove up from Virginia, and we hung out.

My mom has always been supportive of everything I can, and I could never ask for anyone better.

My mom has truly always there for me. Every year when I reflect upon everything she has done for me, it has made me more grateful.  She is supportive, and I could never imagine it any other way.

I am also grateful to have married into a wonderful family and be very close with my mother in law, Greta.  I could not be any more fortunate.

So Thank You, Moms.

Thank you to all of the moms out there!

Question for you: Tell me something about your mom. 

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A Week with Family

For the last week, both my parents and my in-laws visited New Jersey.

Last weekend, my dad and in-laws came up for Broad Street.  Both my dad and father in law ran.  My mother in law and myself spectated.  We had a lot of fun.

Just posing with an Alpaca…NBD

We went to a couple of new diners (sadly neither were amazing) and just hung out.

My mom had other commitments last weekend but decided to drive up that Monday and keep me company for a few days.

I rarely post personal posts anymore, but we had a lot of fun spectating and exploring Philadelphia.  I guess since I’m not running, I need some sort of content right?  (Just kidding).

Even though I’ve lived in New Jersey 3.5 years now, I don’t spend as much time in Philadelphia as I would like.

One thing mom and I were excited to do, was tour the Eastern State Penitentiary.  Prisons have always interested me, and I watch a lot of crime and prison television.  Eastern State Penitentiary philadephia

Eastern State Penitentiary has a headphone guided tour which was fascinating. Eastern State Penitentiary philadephia

We got to see Al Capone’s cell, as well as a, learn a lot of history about the prison system.  It was one of my favorite museums to date, and I’m glad they chose to preserve it.  

It’s only half a mile from the Art Museum in Philadelphia if you are ever in the area.

Eastern State Penitentiary philadephia
We made it!

After getting lost and walking an extra mile, we ended up settling on lunch at the Marathon Grill.  I haven’t been there since I reviewed it a few years ago but it didn’t disapoint.  Their food is fresh.  I ordered the kale and quinoa salad and I have no complaints.

kale marathon grill salad

At lunch at Sabrina’s Cafe another day, I decided to try tofu again.  Tofu isn’t my favorite food, but every year I try it again to see if I’m missing out on something.  While the Tofu dish at Sabrina’s was prepared well, I can’t say I like tofu anymore.  Perhaps better luck next year.

tofu sabrinas cafe

The rest of the week was spent exploring South Jersey.  As many readers know, my mom sews various baby gifts and American Girl Doll Clothes and we found a local store that sells the vintage and retired dolls. I didn’t think it was possible to find somewhere with as many American Girl Dolls as she has at home… 

I am very close with my entire family so having both sets of parents up here and visiting was definitely a relaxing treat.  It has been nice to be away from running and just relaxing and enjoying life.

Questions for you:

Have you ever toured a prison?

Did you have an American Girl Doll? 

 

Two Years of Marriage

Two years ago was the best day of my life because my husband and I got married.  Everything went perfectly, and there is nothing we would have wanted differently.

As most people know, he is in the military and has been gone for almost exactly one of those years.  While his deployments aren’t long (about 2 months), they are frequent and so are his other trips.  I won’t say it’s been easy and there have been plenty of hard days. I will say we are still as happy as the day we met.

Today I knew today I wanted to post about our anniversary but had no idea what to post.  I finally settled on a “how we met post”.  I’m always interested to see how other people met their significant other so I thought I would share.

So How Did We Meet?

My husband and I met during college cross country season in 2011.  We met at a scrimmage race between our respected two universities.

Tim ended up winning the scrimmage race for men, and I won for females. After the scrimmage, we talked for a while and went on a run a few weeks later.   Cross country season went by, and we still chatted after the season.  During this time, I was coming back from my first serious running injury a tibial stress fracture.  Tim did multiple sports and was getting ready for ski season.  Since cross country was over, and he was no longer running competitively, running at a slower pace didn’t matter.  I was running easy after my injury and he was running easy just to run.

YAY an old school college picture.

Eventually, after several runs, we hung out outside of running. When the semester ended, we both went to our hometowns for winter break. Tim drove down to Virginia Beach and visited for New Years.

Later in the spring, we officially started “officially dating”.  I was blogging at the time, and I don’t think I even mentioned on the blog: OMG you guys, new boy in my life”.  It’s been a theme of the past 6 years, we’ve been happy but he isn’t a large part of the blog.

In May of 2012, we both graduated college and decided to try doing a long distance relationship.  Our options at that point were to try and do a distance relationship or break up.

Tim went to Air Force pilot school in Texas, and I began working in Oswego, NY.  During that time, we both learned a lot about ourselves, interests and hobbies.  We went just over 6 months without seeing each other.  It was one of the hardest times of our relationship but worth it.  The first time we saw each other again was that Thanksgiving, and it was as if nothing had changed.

My first visit to Texas

After Thanksgiving, we saw each other again for Christmas, then in March and in May. It was a lot easier than the first few months.  After nearly a year of distance, we made the decision I would move to Texas. As much as I enjoyed my job in Oswego, I wanted to continue my relationship with Tim and we had to eventually move (he did not have that choice with me).

In Texas, they have these for decoration…
Winning a growler at a half marathon in Texas

Tim graduated his pilot training, and we were told we would be moving to New Jersey. Neither of us knew anything about NJ (except people drive very quickly on the Turnpike) in October 2014.

We’ve now lived in New Jersey 3.5 years and I truly say I love it.  I’ve made incredible friends, I enjoy my job and there is always something to do.  We are only a few miles from Philadelphia and short drive from both of our parents, New York City and Baltimore.

On April 1, 2014, Tim proposed to me.  It was exactly what I wanted, low key and at our house.  We are low key, and I could not have asked for a better proposal.  To be honest, as much as we love running, proposing at a race or in front of hundreds of people is not either of our scene.

 

Engagement photo

Even though we lived in New Jersey, we made the decision to get married in my hometown area in Norfolk, Virginia.  We spent a year wedding planning and got married on April 12, 2015.  While planning a wedding further away was more difficult, it wasn’t as stressful because we both have such supportive and helpful parents.  We couldn’t have dreamed for a better day.

After our wedding, we took a few days to relax and went straight on our honeymoon.  We decided to spend a few days in Key West and go on a cruise in the Carribean.  It was a great vacation, and it was perfect.

Then a few days after we got home, he was deployed for a while.  For the first 6 months of our marriage, he was gone for just over 4.  Afterward, he was home for a bit more, but in the past 2 years, he has been gone for over a year.

Throughout the first two years of marriage, we have learned a lot about ourselves and each other.  Even though I grew up as a military child, being a spouse much different.  It’s not always easy, but the time we do have together makes it worth it.  I’m also thankful for my family and friends who help me get by.

As most people know, he is away now.  We might talk today, we might not.  It doesn’t mean I love my husband any less.  I could not ask for a better person in my life.

Flying together
Hiking Bear Mountain and when we actually saw a bear

Here are some other posts about my husband and I (or just my husband): 
Wedding Post
Honeymoon
Flying Together
Tim’s Recap of the Mercedes Marathon

Enjoying the Holidays

This Christmas, my parents, came up from Virginia to visit.  Even though I’m 26, I’ve never actually spent a Christmas at my own home. We’ve either gone to my husband’s parent’s house or my parent’s home for the Holidays.  It was the first time we spent it at our house.

family shot

I enjoyed seeing my family, and we had a lot of fun.  As most people know, my father was in the military, so we moved around quite a bit.  We never adopted a lot of traditions for Christmas.  We open gifts, have a turkey and spend most of the day relaxing or driving around looking at Christmas lights.  That is exactly what we did this year as well.

Christmas dinner

christmas turkey

My husband and I went out for a morning workout while the rest of the house was sleeping. After getting ready for the day, we opened a few gifts for each other. Of course who doesn’t like to give and receive gifts but seeing family was even better.

Dad

A tradition my husband and I do have, is cleaning up during the holidays and donate things we haven’t used in a full calendar year.  We were able to donate 5 bags of appliances (goodbye George Fireman grill), running shoes, random trinkets and everything in between.  Moving around so much (this is the first year we haven’t moved in 12 months), we don’t like to accumulate things.

tim-and-i-1

Believe it or not, this year I did not get any new running gear! I did not need any new running gear either.  My inlaws sent this beautiful Kate Spade purse I’ve been wanting (to match my Penguin wallet and sweater…and life).  I also got a few new pairs of pants to update the wardrobe.  It was a perfect Christmas.

 Kate Spade Penguin Wallet

We also went to view Christmas lights at the Shady Brook Farm in Yardley, PA.  If you’re local it’s a great place. You get to drive through and look at the festive Holiday lights and it’s an incredible layout. Yardley Christmas Lights

My photos don’t do it justice, but I would highly recommend going.

Yardley Christmas Lights

Questions for you:

How were your Holidays?

Do you typically travel or stay home?

Mini Trip to Upstate New York

Last week, my husband and I went on a mini vacation through Upstate, New York.  Those who have been reading LOLZ blog long enough, know we both went to college in Upstate. While we have both been to New York since neither of us had been that far north since graduation. When we left last Sunday, we had no plans and played everything by ear.  After getting home from the Run the Bridge 10k, we just packed the car and drove north.

First, we drove to Lake Placid.  I hadn’t been there since January of 2011.  Last time I went to Lake Placid, it was -30 (not an exaggeration).  This time it felt like the Caribbean and was between 30-40.me running lake placidLake Placid and the Adirondacks are beautiful.  My husband and I both miss it so we spent a day hiking.
hiking in the adirondacksWe went to the Adirondack Loj and spent time hiking there.  It was much colder in the mountains, and I was glad to have mittens, a hat and winter jacket.  We even saw snow on the ground.  hiking in the adirondacksAfter spending a couple of days hiking in the Adirondacks, we headed west to our alma maters in Potsdam, NY.  It’s crazy to think over five years ago, I started LOLZ blog in Potsdam.  potsdam new york

A day in Potsdam was enough.  Honestly, I’m four years out of college, and my friends have graduated, so there isn’t a whole heck of a lot up there for either of us.  A day was enough.hiking in the adirondacks tim and i

We headed down to Syracuse and spent the day enjoying that and meeting up with one of my closest friends (and well known “interneter” (is that a word?) Heather.  We met up at one the local breweries, Empire.  I’ve been to Empire several times and have had a positive experience every time.Heather and IFrom there we relaxed and ran in one of my favorite Upstate, NY parks, Onondaga.  I’ve run several races there, most noticeably, the Lake Effect Half Marathon where I was able to raise 2500 dollars for Ophelia’s Place as well as win.  That race still holds a lot of memories for me and is one of my favorites.  I’ll eventually get back there to do it one year.

The trip was such a great time.  My husband and I enjoyed visiting.  Upstate New York will always have a special place in my heart. It’s where I went to college, met my husband, began to love running and made many of my adult friends.

It feels like such a blur since living in both Potsdam and Oswego.  Even though it has only been three years, it seems like a different lifetime ago!
Questions for you:
Where did you go to college? Have you been back to visit?
Has it snowed yet where you are?

Life as a Military Spouse

While this is (mostly) a running blog, it’s also a personal blog too.  After a long conversation with a friend, I realized where

I find myself constantly going back and forth of being: 

A “proud military spouse.”

To finding my own identity…

To being frustrated with the military because everything changes so rapidly…. 

I’ll always be proud of what my husband does, whether he is in the military or not.

Finding my own identity is a post by itself.  In conversation, I don’t care to talk about myself a lot (ironic since I’ve been blogging for five years), but I find myself questioning my identity.

Am I Hollie, military spouse?  Hollie the runner? Hollie the volunteer? Hollie the blogger?  To be honest, I don’t have an answer to that, and I find myself lost in my own identity.

And of course, the last frustration component makes up most of this blog. 

You know what?

Life has been hard.

Not in a whiny sense but in a talk real sense.  My husband and I are preparing for another deployment soon.  By “preparing”, I mean the Air Force needed him for another last minute trip, and he is currently away doing something else.  The trip was only supposed to last four days but four days turned to 5…6…7…and we are still counting upwards.

In the next 16 days, there is a lot to do before the deployment.  None of these things, he (or I) can do while he is away doing something else.  Sure there are goodbyes, but there is a lot of paperwork and misc tasks that have to be done beforehand.

These tasks are done on top of working a normal job.  What most people don’t realize is that also with the military, you don’t just “fly some” and come home.  When you’re not flying you’re back doing things on base too.  So it isn’t like a vacation when he is back. Not that he has been back to do that.

Essentially neither of us work regular hours.  Today (Friday) was our only day off together for the next 16 days, but that didn’t pan out. With my job, I must request days off a month in advance.  Working in retail that is what happens.  You can’t call in sick because if you do, the store can’t function. It ultimately strains the store.

I love my job but to give you an idea of how August played out, I asked for four days off to spend with my husband.  All four of those days he had emergency missions.  All four of those days off were wasted for me.  If I hadn’t requested off, I’m sure he would have had off.

With the military, your plans are always changing.  Your needs can often come behind the needs of the AF and the county.  I love my husband, and we are in a happy marriage but this month has tested both my stress and anxiety.  I would by lying if I said I hadn’t cried when several plans were canceled. Is it the end of the world?  No, but it’s frustrating.

I’m not a perfect wife, military spouse or person.  I do know that if he could, my husband wouldn’t cancel plans.  

So where does this leave me now? 
The same place I started.  Unfortunately, my plans are often dependent on what the needs of the military.  I’ll keep trucking on and we will make the best of the situation as we normally do.

Blood Test Results

As I mentioned last week, I opted to try Inside Tracker.

InsiderTracker

After my injury, I had no answers about how my ankle fracture occurred.  It blindsided me. I received a DEXA scan which came out normal (not even flagged for osteopenia).  I also got my calcium and Vitamin D levels which both came out normal.  Just like my blood test with at my doctors, my blood test with Inside Tracker indicated Vitamin D and Calcium were both normal too.  Even though I don’t believe I got answers about my fracture, and do believe the information I obtained from Inside Tracker is beneficial.

So after essential nutrients from my first blood test came out, why did I decide to go further with Inside Tracker?
My quality of life is fine, and I live my day to day normally.  I live a pretty balanced lifestyle and enjoy cake, cookies, salad and meat.  I don’t have any health red flags such as exhaustion or loss of period.  While most signs of my fracture point towards gait or a rolled ankle, I wanted to at least get a full picture of my health.  Thinking out loud, I would rather rule out any problems then the question, “what if.”

Unfortunately, my insurance is great but doesn’t cover the cost of a blood test, “just to know”.  If I were dying or going through something serious my insurance would cover the test (as they covered it to check my Vitamin D and Calcium levels). They do not include a test just check key nutrients.  Heck why not throw in an MRI just to get some photos too? If only health care worked like that…

Due to the price, my husband and I went back and forth with Inside Tracker.  For a full blood analysis, the cost is $499.  In the medical world that is comparable for blood work, however, without insurance it’s steep. Do I want a blood test or do I want Louboutins? Decisions of the month…(kidding).  I was fortunate Inside Tracker gave me a discount but even if they did not, we decided the price would be worth it to have the knowledge.

Since I don’t give blood well, I opted to pay the extra fee for the White Glove Service.  This meant a registered nurse come to my house and collected my blood.  Another thing I don’t deal well with is the test also requires you to fast for 12 hours.  Even after eating directly before and after, I’ve passed out the majority of time giving blood or getting shots.

So being the diva I am, I ordered a test for the earliest time possible time of 7 am. The woman who came was professional, timely and done by 7:10. She works with several different but similar companies. In fact, she has been a mobile blood collector for 20 years. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

I got my blood drawn on a Thursday, and my results were available the Tuesday after.  I was impatiently waiting all weekend.  To be honest, I was nervous. I wasn’t sure I even wanted to know the results. I had seen plenty of people shocked by their results. What if they found I had a serious issue?  At least I would have answers I guess.

So with that, what did they find?

Inside Tracker classifies your result from “Optimal”, “Needs Work” and “At Risk”.

Let’s start with my “At a Risk”:
Cortisol Levels:

Cortisol insidetracker

My biggest issue is my cortisol level.  My cortisol level is too high. This definitely plays a role in my stress level as well as bloating.  I’m also a very type A person, and I do stress out from anxiety. I’ve always had a higher than average cortisol level due to stress, anxiety and occasionally depression.  To be honest, I’m getting out of a rough time in my life, so it’s not surprising my cortisol level is rather high.

How am I combating that? Mentally, I am making relaxing a priority.  I’m trying to focus on sleep as well as adding a few more of the nutrients indicated.  A lot can play a role in cortisol levels, and I need to make it a priority to just relax and not overbook myself.  Better said than done right?

Vitamin B12:

Vitamin B12 insidetracker

 

My second risk is my Vitamin B12 is extremely high. This surprised me!  I drink no more than 20 ounces of coffee daily (decaf after noon).  I drink soda once in a blue moon (maybe once every other month?).  I looked at my multivitamin which also has 100% of my daily intake.  A lot of the food I consume is enriched with B12 too.  So for now, I’ll look for nonenriched foods.  I’ll look to find a multivitamin without Vitamin B12 too. I like the taste of coffee, so hopefully, by substituting nonenriched foods, I’ll be able to lower my B12.

Next to my High levels:

Iron: 
I am honestly shocked, but my iron is too high.  I don’t know a lot of runners who have this issue.  I wouldn’t have been surprised if it was too low.  This will be a hard one to work on, to be honest.  It recommends eating less red meat.  I wouldn’t say I overeat red meat, but I do have a few serving a week.

Iron inside tracker

 

Iron inside tracker

Liver Enzymes:

My liver enzymes are too high. I had no idea what that even meant. I had to do more research after getting my results, but it is great information to have.  It recommends taking a probiotic and eating a few servings of nuts, so I’ll be adding those to my diet and monitoring the results.

liver enzymes inside tracker

So What’s the Plan?
  • I intend to focus on my Cortisol and Vitamin B12 because those are most important.
  • It was recommended to take a probiotic.  Is that the band-aid to fix everything?  I’ve been taking a probiotic for just over a week now.  To be honest, I can’t feel any difference, and I feel more bloated, but I think it will take a few weeks to assimilate.
  • I’m still researching how to decrease my iron levels.  I have a feeling my higher iron is inhibiting my calcium and vitamin D,  While I tested in the normal range, it was towards the lower end (and make a huge effort to intake a lot of both).

They are minor fixes and adding a few more nutrients and foods to my diet.  There is nothing drastic or a crash diet.

I’m also going to get retested in 8-10 weeks to see if I am improving.

Would I recommend Inside Tracker?

I would.  While the price is high, the quality of information you receive is worth it.  While I had several higher than average and two “at risk” categories, I didn’t have any major red flags.  That doesn’t mean the knowledge won’t help.  I would have never thought my iron levels were too high, and honestly, I was debating taking an iron supplement because “that’s what female runners do”.

I don’t believe any of these imbalances caused my ankle fracture, however, I’m glad I chose to get the blood work. I do feel as though as I begin running and increase mileage, my body will respond better to the mileage.

Chances are if you decide to utilize Inside Tracker, there will be results that surprise you.  Maybe your blood work comes out in the optimal range.  Or maybe you have nutrients that “need work” that you never would have thought. For me, I didn’t think my liver enzymes weren’t optimal or that my iron was too high.

I like Inside Tracker because the information is high quality and useful for my situation.  It isn’t telling me to completely overhaul my diet or fast on juju juice for eight weeks.  It’s giving me minor tweaks of how I can improve myself and easy to update my diet with.

Question for you: Have you ever gotten blood work done?