Wednesday, October 30, 2013

5 easy & clean breakfast options

I've been back on the eating clean train for about 2 weeks now.  Choo choo!  I had been in a rut of eating whatever drive thru crap I could get my hands on before and after clinical but finally forced myself to grocery shop for some decent food.  There's no way I can do everything I need to do without putting good fuel in the tank.  

Here are some easy, clean eating breakfast options I've been doing lately.  
Note: I try to stay gluten-free and dairy-free since my digestive track seems to appreciate it. I realize that may not be suitable for everyone out there. To each her own!

1 - Cereal

When I went gluten-free and dairy-free, I realized that I missed cereal.  It's a great breakfast but also makes a good study snack.  I buy Unweetened Almond Milk and pour it over a bowl of Nature's Path Organic Sunrise Crunchy Maple with banana slices on top.  This cereal is awesome. Not some cardboard tasting junk.

2 - Smoothie

My girl Jesi recently posted on her new blog (hey girl!) about the benefits of cherries in smoothies.  As intelligent as I may be, I never thought about adding cherries.  But now I've been experimenting with frozen, pitted cherries and I like what I'm tasting! Plus, smoothies are pretty much idiot proof and I appreciate that.  Combine almond milk, handful of spinach leaves, hefty scoop of chia seeds, frozen fruit (blackberries, cherries and strawberries are my fav) and one banana in a blender. Blend until smooth. The Magic Bullet is my favorite blender because you blend in the cup you drink from which means less clean up!

3 - Eggs & Beans

Last week I youtube'd how to fry an egg.  I wish I was kidding.  Turns out, the trick is to use low heat and a little butter in the pan. Now I am an egg-frying machine.  Except I use coconut oil in the pan (just a smidge).  Here, I fried two eggs together - time saver! - and then served it with black beans and salsa.  I happen to think black beans are one of the tastiest things on Earth so the more the merrier.  I often use black beans at dinner and then put the rest in the fridge.  Super easy to heat up in the microwave.  Then smash up the runny yolks and eat the salsa/beans/eggs all together.  Delish!

4 - Waffles

I don't have the time to do made-from-scratch waffles healthy so I substitute with Van's Gluten-Free Frozen Waffles.  Instead of syrup, I top them with fresh fruit preserves or jam and a sprinkling of chia seeds.  Serve with whatever fresh fruit you have or a scrambled egg and voila!

5 - Toast Two Ways

Toast is often underrated, in my opinion.  It is easy to fix and there are a million ways you can dress it up. One of my current faves is toast is with poached eggs and avocado slices.  If you have the Salton Great Eggs Cooker, then poached and hard boiled eggs are a snap.  B makes fun of me for it but it is painless! Another way I fix toast is with PB2, banana slices, and chia seeds with a side of scrambled eggs topped with salsa.  Bonus: our Oster toaster has a retractable cord which makes me love it even more!  

Check out Jesi's suggestions for 5 Healthy Fast Food Options!

What do you eat for breakfast?  I'm always looking for new ideas so I don't get burnt out and return to fast food!

Don't forget about the giveaway I'm participating in at Just Jacq! Head on over and enter to win:

Tea & Crumpet size ad space from Amanda at Rhyme & Ribbons 
200x200 ad space and a guest post spot from Danielle at A Writer in Love 
200x200 ad space from Ginny at A Modern Commonplace Book 
200x200 ad space and a $10 Starbucks giftcard from Caitlin at Your Favorite Girlfriend (that's me!)
Ad space and sunglasses from Raewyn at Be a Warrior Queen 
Small November ad space and earrings from Jacquelyn at JustJacq

Giveaway runs through November 3rd. Tweet about it daily for extra entries!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

happy birthday, my love! (plus a giveaway and more)

Happy Birthday, B!

Even though you don't read this blog or really get blogging, you love me and support me in everything I do... which is a lot.  We know that I tend to overcommit myself! We may go days without seeing each other despite living together (damn you, night shift!) but you're always there for me.  You love our pups and me unconditionally.  You're irrationally obsessed with football but all I see is the passion behind it. You can always bring a smile to my face, even when I'm being a total grump. You dance in the bathroom, sing to our pups, call me beautiful every day, kiss me when I've got lethal morning breath, and make me feel like a million bucks. I can only hope I'm as loving and entertaining as that for you. I cannot wait to marry you and celebrate the next 60 birthdays with you.  Love you, babe! MWAH!

Here's to an amazing 31 years and many, many more!

I'm guest posting on JustJacq today! Check out my attempt at self-timer photos and fashion blogging!

Don't forget about the giveaway I'm participating in at Just Jacq! Head on over and enter to win:

Tea & Crumpet size ad space from Amanda at Rhyme & Ribbons 
200x200 ad space and a guest post spot from Danielle at A Writer in Love 
200x200 ad space from Ginny at A Modern Commonplace Book 
200x200 ad space and a $10 Starbucks giftcard from Caitlin at Your Favorite Girlfriend (that's me!)
Ad space and sunglasses from Raewyn at Be a Warrior Queen 
Small November ad space and earrings from Jacquelyn at JustJacq

Giveaway runs through November 3rd. Tweet about it daily for extra entries!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pretty Little Beauty Swap reveal

Before I start anything, just watch this video. I promise it will brighten up your day. Someday I hope to have as much confidence and pizzazz as her!

Alright, on to the goodies!

About a month ago I signed up for the Pretty Little Beauty Swap that Justine and Chelsee hosted. I was paired up with Rachel at Rachel's Country Roots who is such a sweetheart!  We're both pretty busy gals so we didn't chat as much as we would have liked, but everything I know about her I love. Her blog is real and funny, plus she runs the most adorable online boutique - in her spare time! Be sure to stop by her store, Country Couture, and check out her great fall sale.  Just click on her button in my sidebar. Personally, I can't wait to get my hands on one of her infinity scarves.

Backstory: I signed up for Ispy a few months ago because I saw that one month they had the most adorable leopard bag.  I didn't care about the makeup, I just wanted that bag.  I was put in a waitlist or something (not a fan of that) and by the time I was approved, I realized that there was no way I'd get the same leopard bag from months ago so I cancelled my account before ever receiving anything. 

And lo and behold, what did I spy when I opened my AMAZING beauty swap package from Rachel?

That's right ladies - LEOPARD! Ignore my study mess in the background. Girl's gotta caffeinate! Then I practically clawed my way into the package to see what other goodies were in there because I knew it was going to be fantastic.

BB cream, dry shampoo, and leopard? Seriously, this package could have stopped right here and I would have been thrilled! But there were even more goodies inside the fabulous leopard pouch.

Mirenesse glossy Kiss
Leopard Ipsy bag

For the record, as I unpacked all the items I just kept saying to myself "She knows me so well!"  I didn't even know that BigSexyHair made humidity resistant spray but I was just complaining the other day about how the humidity in Galveston wrecks havoc on my hair.  Hello, little angel, you're going straight into my school bag!

And I LOVE dry shampoo.  I've had big hits and some awful misses on various brands so I cannot wait to try out this new one.  And the blush? The color not only looks perfect for me but I actually just lost my blush this week. How does someone lose their blush when they always put on makeup in their bathroom? Who knows. But it is gone and my cheekbones will be oh so grateful for this new replacement.  As for the various lip/brow/eye pencils, I cannot wait to give them a try and update my look.  I'll be sure to report back on everything!

On a more serious note, Rachel experienced a horrible family tragedy this weekend.  If you could find it in your heart to leave her a kind word or just say a prayer for her and her family, I know she would appreciate it while they navigate through a difficult time.  She is a kind person with a beautiful soul who doesn't deserve this kind of heartbreak.

Do you subscribe to any beauty bags? Any favorites you've discovered along the way? 


Friday, October 25, 2013

5 on Friday

Red quinoa has changed my life. I never realized how wonderful gluten-free could be until I discovered this stuff.  Plus, it is filling! Look for some recipes with it next week.

Advocare cleanse is going well.  My days and nights are hella mixed up from working night shifts so I'm sort of on day 7... I think? I'll post on it when I'm done but already down 4.5 lbs.  However, that may not be the case after last night which leads me to...

A big, fat, cream filled cookie sandwich.  Didn't take a pic because I was at clinical but you can imagine it looked like this.  And I ate the whole thing around 3am.  There was a party for a night nurse who is transitioning to days and the nurses brought amazing homemade food, most of which I resisted for healthier options. But at 3am I have very little will power and even though the cookie wasn't nearly as good as it looked, the sugar rush certainly helped out.

This came up when I Google image searched and it links to a pretty awesome sounding recipe.  You're welcome.

Last night was a pretty great night at clinicals, cleanse-fail aside.  I didn't have an opportunity to redeem myself at trying to insert an IV but I did put in my first Foley catheter.  It wasn't hard but it seems like the first time you try anything on a patient, you're going to be nervous.  We learned this skill way back in Adult 1 this summer and I had yet to have a patient that needed one inserted so I was thrilled to have the opportunity last night.  And, I'll spare you the details, but that is probably the last time I will ever be thrilled about inserting a catheter!

I just got home and had a very healthy breakfast (dinner?) but followed it up with a cookie.  Damn these sugar cravings!  Hopefully when I wake up this evening all my sugar cravings will have magically disappeared.  And while I'm at it, I wish for all those damn cookies at the hospital to be gone too by the time I return tonight.

Have a great weekend everyone!


Thursday, October 24, 2013

binge shopping

We all do it.

You set a budget for yourself and stick to it.  No shopping for X time - in my case, it's been a few months.  But then I had to go to Target to get some birthday supplies and it's all downhill from there.  I'm pretty sure I blacked out and when I came to I was surround by bags.

The good news? I've got some deals for you in there too.

Let's assess the damage, shall we?

Object of my affection. Subject of an intense love/hate relationship.  If you don't already have the Cartwheel app, then you need to get it. It doesn't cost anything but you can "save" deals on your app and then there is just one barcode for the cashier to ring up - straight off your phone.  Anything you purchase that meets the requirements of the deals are automatically discounted.  So easy! No printing coupons from the site, no clipping.  And the best part is you can search for the items you've picked up to see if there happens to be a deal on them.  That's like free money!

I scored 20% off on Women's Fashion Boots and picked up some low booties that I've been eying for a while now. I love the trend but wasn't sure if I could pull them off.  So, like any intelligent woman, I purchased 3 pairs and will be trying them out at home with various outfits over the next few days to decide which pairs I'll keep. (My money is on all of them.)
New Booties

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

As you can see, there may be even more shopping in my future. I was also able to snag a fabulous faux fur vest from the children's department for just $22.99 and some excellent tights to wear with the booties.  Try Xhilaration Opaque Juniors Fashion Tights for good quality and fun colors at a price you can't beat.

It is no secret to my friends and family that I'm having a moment with loose, longer shirts that are fitted in the sleeves. It started with the super soft Piko tops and then I saw that The Southern Wife ordered some fabulous long-sleeve options from Tobi. I love wearing them with pants, crops, shorts and accessorizing with long necklaces, bangles, scarves and soon my new vest!  But I've been a bag blogger and haven't taken too many any #ootd pics lately.

The best part about Tobi is you automatically get a 50% code when you sign up - FOR YOUR ENTIRE PURCHASE.  No limit.  No minimum. No gimmick.  Just sign up and they email you the code.  No, they are not paying me to say this (but I would love to do a sponsored post for them!).  And if you can get other people to sign up, you can earn more discounts... so please consider using this link to sign up! Shameless plug :)

1 // 2 // 3

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, then you already know that I was at LOFT last night doing some damage with Roxy.  If you don't follow me, then what are you waiting for? I post cool stuff on IG and I'm still learning about the twitter. But LOFT tweeted me back today so... I'm pretty much famous.

I got an email from them yesterday about 50% EVERYTHING in stores and online.  Then I got another email today saying that online is still 50% off everything! I was aiming to get a pair of ankle length skinny jeans to wear with my new boots but I found so much more.  (Sidenote: this sounds like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.  If you buy a blogger boots, she's going to want new jeans to go with those boots.  And if she gets new jeans, she's going to need some accessories as well.) I honestly didn't expect to spend anything but the deals were too good to pass up.  I also purchased a $25 LOFT Cares Card.  90% of the cost of the card goes to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and it will save you 20% off all purchases over $100 between now and November 15th.  I probably won't use it again, but it saved me an additional $40 on top of my 50% savings - meaning it paid for the card itself plus $15.  Savings + good cause = win win in my book.

LOFT fall 2013 essentials

tops: 1 // 2 // 3
bottoms: 4 // 5 // 6 // 7

doing what bloggers do (from roxy's instagram @grrfeisty)

What are your fall essentials? Any good deals out there I should know about?


PS - If you ever want to know what size I got, just ask! I like to play with proportions so I sometimes purposely size up or down in an item :) 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Taking a break

I'll be silent on the Internet for the next few days, possibly up to a week. Working 4 night shifts in 5 days was rough and as a result my life is in shambles. 

So I'll be taking this time to study, complete care plans, interview for a job, run, grocery shop, clean my house, and spend time with B and our pups. 

Looking forward to reading all your blogs, checking your tweets, and stalking your instagrams when I'm back! 

See you all soon. 


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I love engagements

I really love engagements.  And not just for the sweet story or seeing the rings.  It's for the hope and promise that is wrapped up in the engagement. It's the start of a pledge to live your life together with one person, through the good and the bad, sickness and health, whether rich or poor. Wedding vows really begin with the proposal.

So while I try to figure out what day it is (nightshift is going a little better) enjoy these sweet engagement videos  If you're anything like me, make sure you've got some tissues nearby.

Read the original article here.

Read the original article here.


Monday, October 14, 2013

(Half) Marathon Monday #6

I'm also guest posting today over at Simply Sami - go check it out!

I am officially half way through the training plan.  How did that happen??  Where has the time gone?  Since I didn't do a training update last week in lieu of the Tough Mudder recaps (read about it here and here) we've got two weeks to catch up on!
Week 5
Monday // 4 miles // Rest
Tuesday // 2 miles or cross // Rest
Wednesday // 4 miles + strength // Rest
Thursday // rest // 2 miles (11:45 pace)
Friday // 40 min cross // Pure Barre
Saturday // 6 miles // TOUGH MUDDER (9 miles)
Sunday // stretch & strengthen // Rest
Week 6
Monday // 4 miles // Pure Barre
Tuesday // 2 miles or cross // Rest
Wednesday // 4 miles + strength // 2 miles (11:21 pace)
Thursday // rest or easy run // Pure Barre
Friday // rest // Pure Barre
Saturday // 5K race // BCM 5K - read the recap here!
Sunday // stretch & strengthen // Pure Barre
Scheduled workout is in gray and actual workout is in pink.  Rest days are orange.
Total Miles // 29 miles // 16 miles

In looking at my progress, it's evident that I need to up my mileage.  Not sure how I'll fit it in but it has got to become a priority or else November 23rd is going to be rough embarrassing horrible ugly.

I want to hear what songs you can't run without.  I've been losing myself in my music lately but my one running playlist is getting predictable - even when it is on shuffle.  My current faves are:

Miley Cyrus - We Can't Stop
Britney Spears - Work B*tch
Victoria Justice - Gold
Ariana Grande - The Way
Katy Perry - Roar
Lorde - Royals
Sara Bareilles - Brave
Maroon 5 - Lucky Strike
Britney Spears - Piece of Me
Avicii - Wake Me Up

Leave me your favorite workout songs! And be sure to stop by tomorrow for a special 5K recap!


PS - Milli and Harley "helping" me workout:

 Aren't they adorable?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

some good news

I mentioned yesterday that Thursday's night shift was less than stellar, which is putting it lightly.  After sleeping the day away I had a slightly better outlook and then some good things came my way.  Doesn't life have a funny way of working out?  Just when you think things are down and out, some good comes your way.

It made me step back and realize that even in the struggles I am incredibly blessed and these challenges are just part of the journey.

So on to the good news...

(1) I made the Dean's List for the summer semester!
Don't judge - I study in my Beats and without makeup.
This wasn't on my radar at all and it just showed up in the mail last week.  It reminded me that the hard work does pay off and now I'm more determined than ever to keep it up.  Plus, I'm halfway done with the fall semester which means I'm also halfway through the program! CRAZY!

(2) My loans were forgiven!

After wrapping up my last year of teaching, I found out that I was eligible to have my undergraduate loans forgiven in exchange for completing 5 years at a Title 1 school.  The amount varies based on grade level and content, but teaching 8th grade science put me in the highest category. I submitted my forms this summer, had them returned because they were expired, resubmitted the forms, and then basically didn't hear anything.  I assumed that I would have to start paying on them again come graduation and I had accepted that being in crazy debt was my reality.

Then I got an email on Friday saying something about "thank you for your payment." I panicked thinking that my automatic payments had started back up and I wasn't prepared for that - they've been in deferment since starting nursing school.  However, when I opened the email I saw this instead:

I actually spit out my Spark when I saw the amount.  That's more money than I've ever had at one time.
And my heart almost stopped.  It took me a few hours of checking the email and logging into my account to actually believe it.  I'm still in shock a little bit!

Yup, those loans are actually paid off! I feel like a huge weight has been lifted.

(3) The giveaway I won from Kaara and Jacquelyn arrived yesterday!

During September, Kaara and Jacquelyn hosted the Move It Challenge and for each week you linked up with your fitness you were entered to win an Advocare Cleanse.  And I won! I didn't realize that I would be getting so many amazing goodies so I'll let the pictures do the talking.
How cute are these messages Kaara wrote around the box? Made me even more excited to open it!

Advocare Slam, Bowl Game Berry
Advocare Herbal Cleanse, peaches & cream
blogilates blender bottle
crocheted coasters
Advocare Spark, pink lemonade
Advocare Coffeccino, mocha
crocheted head wrap
adorable card

I've never tried the Coffeccino and I love mocha flavor so I'm really excited about that.  And the Slams are perfect for my night shifts at the hospital.  Plus, I'm dying over the crocheted items. They are so soft!  I love it all and I am so excited about it! Please stop by Kaara and Jacquelyn's blogs to show them some love - they are wonderful girls that I'm so lucky to have found!

I'd love to hear what good things have come your way lately! And I know it's cheesy, but thinking positively about the things that are challenging us really does make a difference. I encourage you to try next time something has got you feeling down.


PS - that blender bottle is perfect for the Fiber Drink that comes in the 10 Day Cleanse. I'm starting on Tuesday with Mel and Holly.  It's not too late to order yours!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

the jury is still out

My first night shift was this past Thursday and... let's just say I didn't know whether to cry or sleep when I got home.

I'm reserving judgment until I have a few more night shifts under my belt scrubs but I didn't realize how hard it was going to be to stay up all night and I underestimated the toll it would take on my body.  There were a few hours in the early morning where there was nothing to do. No patients awake, no orders to complete, no tests to run, no charting, no meds, nada.  Which translated to standing still for hours.
At least I'm putting my twitter skills to use, right?

Do you know how much it hurts to stand still? And I'm not just talking about mentally painful (which it is - I have a perpetual to-do list that contains no less than 7,492,618 items and wasted time kills me).  But I mean physically painful.  Since the end of my shift Friday morning I've been nursing (haha) a very tight, stiff lower back from all that standing around.  

On the positive side, I got to try out a few new nursing skills and didn't suck at all of them.  For the record, blood draws are fairly easy and IVs suck.  Hopefully I'll have better news on that front next time.  Also, my mom sent me this:

Yup, a sleep mask. But not just any sleep mask - the Temper-Pedic Sleep Mark. AKA most amazing sleep mask ever! It is super soft with an adjustable velcro back so it will always fit just right.  There is even padding underneath the eye sockets so that the mask isn't pressed against your eyelashes.  Trust me when I say that no light got in these bad boys, which made them perfect for sleeping the day away after a trying inaugural night shift.

Tweet me some love Monday night if you're up - I'll be back on night shift!


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Tough Mudder recap (part 2)

Check our part 1 of the recap here!
Tough Mudder outfit essentials
Tough Mudder outfit essentials: dri fit tank, sports bra, bike gloves, Adidas trail runners, Garmin Forerunner, socks, spandex capris, energy snacks

TM Outfit
There really isn't anything I would change about what I wore for the Tough Mudder, and I consider that a HUGE WIN.  My Garmin held up fantastically.  It was often so covered in mud that I couldn't read the screen so I repeatedly spit on it (I had no clean hands or clothing to wipe it with!) to make sure the seconds were still ticking away on it. I wore the heart rate monitor and it was super comfortable.  I always wear my HR monitor under my bra and in this case tucked some energy snacks in my bra, so the HR monitor acted like a little shelf (#smallboobsforthewin).  I was pretty proud of myself and my team certainly appreciated it when I pulled out treats from my bra!

This C9 bra was a last minute purchase from Target and I'm now obsessed with it.  It is super comfortable and the front comes up really high which I actually liked a lot.  I will warm you though - the band isn't that firm so it may not provide enough support for some of my chestier friends.  But for you similarly small chested ladies out there, I highly recommend it!

As a team, we wore matching Nike dri fit tanks that we had printed with a rocket logo on the front and nicknames on the back.  I went with a medium and I'm glad I didn't go any smaller. I can't find the tank online but we got it from Academy last week.  The capris I wore are from Sugoi and I've had them for a hundred years. They've got a drawstring in the waist and are vented behind the knees. I was originally conflicted about wearing them because they are seriously some of my favorite workout gear and I didn't want them ruined, but I eventually went with them because I wanted to make sure I was comfortable. Plus, if they had gotten ruined (which they didn't!) then I already had a few good years of use out of them.

I bought my Adidas shoes a few years ago but only recently started running in them. They've got some good tread on the bottom so I chose to wear those and it turns out they are trail running shoes - I had no idea! They held up great. I had a ton of mud in my shoes and at one point took them off to dump them, but it was a problem most people had.  I noticed that some people wrapped duct tape around their shoes/ankles so maybe that helped keep things out of their shoes.

Finally, my fingerless bike gloves were a huge bonus to have on the course. They provided grip and traction in situations were I normally would have had none while also protecting my hands. I have a few superficial blisters but I am sure they would be much worse if I had gone without gloves.  I did take them off for the Funky Monkey but it didn't help - I still fell!

Tough Mudder
The race started off with an obstacle before the start line! You have to scale a wall that's about 8 feet tall. We tackled the center segment, which was even a bit taller and without footholds, so I felt pretty good after that! Once everyone is over the wall, this awesome emcee holds a pep talk for all the Tough Mudders and the race is off.  

For safety reasons they closed down some of the obstacles which is why my Garmin map (r) looks different from the course map (l). It also cut about 4 miles off of the course.
The mileage below correlates with my Garmin map.
Mile 1
We started with a 3/4 mile run on the drag race track which was HOT. My Garmin claims it was 82 degrees and felt like 89 degrees, but with the heat reflecting off the pavement it was more like 95 degrees.  Thankfully, we were in the grass and mud for most of the race after that.

Mile 2
Our first official obstacle was the Kiss of Mud, followed shortly by Bale Bonds. Kiss of Mud consists of belly crawling through mud underneath barbed wire.  I was terrified that my booty would catch on the barbed wire and snag my pants, leaving me to finish the course with a big hole showing off my bum. Somehow I managed to keep my badonkadonk low enough to avoid this happening.  And the mud felt great because at this point, we were dying of heat.

All the pictures of Bale Bonds that I had seen were nothing compared to what we faced.  These huge hay bales were coated in thick, wet mud that made them nearly impossible to scale.  This is when I knew teamwork would be a huge part of the course!

Mile 3
The third mile brought us to the Arctic Enema and I had never been happier to see a dumpster full of ice water.  Had I given myself a moment to think, I might not have done it. But I was so hot that I dove right in.  The set up is this: huge dumpster full of ice water with a wooden partition across the middle that dips about 6 inches below the surface of the water. The only way to get to the other side to get out is to swim under the partition.  Now, it isn't thick - only about 2". But the key is you have to completely submerge yourself in the water to get past it. Oh, and that ice water? Completely brown from all the mudders that have already trekked through it. So not only are you so cold that you think your body will shut down, but you can't see anything.

Once I was out, I was ready to go back in.  It felt that good in the Texas heat. We even joked that there should be an Arctic Enema obstacle every 3 miles on the course!  Bonus: we were free of mud (for a few minutes).

Mile 4
The next mile presented us with 3 obstacles: Mud Trap, the first Glory Blades, and Mud Mile. The Mud Trap was just what it sounded like - a huge muddy area to wade through.  We saw quite a few people lose their shoes so the key was to go slow.  Glory Blades required some serious teamwork as there was no way we were scaling these 8-foot walls that were angled toward us.  One of my teammates, Rakel, was a cheerleader in a former life and introduced us to some sweet moves to help boost each other over.  The Mud Mile was like the Mud Trap on steroids. Though not quite a mile long, it was a serious mud trek and there were holes hidden in it.  One second I was navigating the mud fine, up to my shins, and the next thing I knew I was chest-deep in mud and my teammates had to help me out.

Mile 5
Shortly after coming out of the Mud Mile, we encountered Glory Blades #2.  Same drill as the first, except much muddier which made the whole thing much harder to get over. Then we came to the Electric Eel, quite possibly the event I dreaded the most.  In the Electric Eel, you must army crawl through mud and water underneath a low cage outfitted with hanging live wires that will shock you.  I saw so many people go through this and get shocks terrible enough to stock them in their tracks.  Our friends who had done the TM twice before skipped this obstacle - it wasn't worth it to them.  Aaron, my brother-in-law, and B all dove right in and got through the obstacle but I was frozen. I kept watching other people and multiple times I squatted down to get in position.  In the end, I couldn't do it. I waited too long and then was in my head too much. I skipped this obstacle but I won't next year.

Next up was the Berlin Wall, a straight up 12-foot wall.  More than twice my height, I thought there was no way I could do this.  But my team helped me and I managed to get a good enough grip to full myself up and swing my leg over.  I'm assuming the various walls we scaled are where these awesome bruises came from.

(L-R): left upper arm, right forearm, right inner thigh, left knee
All of this was followed up by Hole-y Water which is exactly as it sounds: muddy water that has a lot of hidden holes. The ground was already difficult to walk on due to the mud, but slipping into holes that were nearly 5 feet deep made it almost impossible. Once we realized the extent of the holes, we elected to doggy paddle to the end of the obstacle.

Mile 6
Once mile 6 began, we realized that we were hitting the part of the course where some of the obstacles had been shut down for safety issues.  If you look at the map comparison up top, this is where we lost most of the mileage.  As intimidating as some of the obstacles were, it was reassuring that the organizers were willing to close down obstacles that were deemed unsafe for whatever reason.

So our first obstacle for this mile was Twinkle Toes and only the girls were successful at this one.  You had to balance while walking on a 2-by-4 across an icy water hole. This was made more difficult by, you guessed it, mud covering the planks.  All the guys fell into the water but our friend Aaron had it the worst - he ended up landing on his crotch on his way down!  Ha-Ha Ditch came shortly after and it was another mud hole to cross.  Then we got to the second Berlin Walls obstacle.  By this point, we felt like experts at the walls and even stuck around to help some other Tough Mudders!

Mile 7
By the time we hit mile 7, we thought we were in the clear for a while. We didn't see any daunting obstacles ahead of us and eagerly jumped into the second Mud Mile.  This also cooled us off and I was using the mud as sunscreen on my pasty white skin by this point!  We were even joking when we arrived at Devil's Beard, which was basically a cargo net on the ground that we needed to walk under. What we didn't anticipate was how heavy the cargo net was so we ended up getting all tangled in it and almost collapsing in laughter.  I think our sanity was almost gone at this point!

Soon we got to the Cage Crawl, which was another obstacle that I might have chickened out on if I had allowed myself time to think about it.  I'm pretty claustrophobic and this definitely tested the limits.  The obstacle is set up as a muddy pool that you wade into and then have to swim across on your back. The catch is that there is chain link fence laid out about 6 inches above the water across the whole pool.  Which means that you're face-up, with your nose right up against the chain, while your head from the ears back is in the water.  As if that wasn't enough, there are black tarps covering most of the chain so you're in total darkness.  The trick was to move quickly, focus on my breathing, and just reassure myself that I would get to the other end quickly.  Trust me, I was glad to get out of that water!

Mile 8
Mile 8 was just not my mile.  The first obstacle was a huge fail.  Just the Tip consists of a huge wooden wall suspended over water that you have to cross by gripping a very tiny board with your fingers and inching your way across.  I have no upper body strength so I fell in the water pretty much right away.  In fact, only one person in our group succeed on this obstacle.  Next up was Balls to the Wall.  For this obstacle, you had to scale a 15' wall that had some small footholds and a rope to help you up and to help you down on the opposite side.  I know I could have done this one, but there was 30 minute wait and at this point we could see the finish line ahead. There was no way we were going to stand still for 30 minutes when even a minute long water break was leaving us feeling the soreness set in.  No thanks, Houston TM.  Next year, have more than 3 ropes set up!

Finally, the Funky Monkey.  Nightmares of the monkey bars from elementary school came flooding back to me. At the recommendation of the volunteer at this obstacle, I took of my gloves (and shoved them in my handy bra/goodies holder) and eagerly grabbed onto the first bar.  Then I confidently reach for the second bar, where I promptly fell in the water.  Upper body strength fail, so I swam to the other side and waited for my teammates, most of whom were successful.  It should also be noted that these monkey bars were at the incline - the first half goes up to a peak and then the second half descends. I've also heard reports of the bars rotating when you grab on and being greased up.  This wasn't the case for us, but it's possible the grease had just been rubbed off by the time we got there.

Mile 9
Finally, the last mile! Rakel and I were practically sprinting between obstacles at this point while the boys of the group were dragging behind.  Walk the Plank came up first and I loved it.  You climb up an angled 20' foot wall (with footholds) and then take a flying leap into a chilly pool of muddy water.  It didn't look too high from the ground, but when I was up there, I might as well have been that guy that skydived with Redbull from the edge of the atmosphere.  Damn.  But there are guys up there yelling at you to jump, so I plugged my nose and took off.  I can say this - I went deep in the water and didn't touch the bottom.  It took me a while to come up and I could tell it was dark and muddy through my closed eyes.  But again, the water felt so nice! 

The second to last event was a short jog away.  Everest was a half-pipe covered in mud where we had to run up the curved wall and jump, hoping to grab the hands of some Tough Mudders who were already at the top.  It was really amazing to see the teamwork everyone displayed.  I witnessed quite a few Tough Mudders get up the wall and then lay down at the edge to reach their arms down and help up not 1, not 2, but many other mudders.  I couldn't quite get a hold the first time, but I refused to quit so I got back in line. The second time I successfully grabbed hold of two hands and was able to swing my leg up on the ledge to pull myself up.  I remember giving the guy who grabbed me a huge hug once I was on the platform on the top - thank you, random Tough Mudder!!

Finally, the last event - Electroshock Therapy. Given that I skipped the first electric obstacle, I was determined to get through this one.  Electroshock Therapy is a mud pit with hay bales placed throughout and hundreds of live wires hanging down, just waiting to shock the living daylights out of you.  The obstacles for each Tough Mudder often change, but this one is always the last obstacle before the finish line.  I noticed a path that looked like I could avoid some wires, so without even thinking I just ran and dove.  Literally, I dove.  This is the only picture that I could find of myself from the event photographers:

I see you laughing at me, girl in the background.  Joke's on you - I didn't get shocked!
And I landed HARD on my nose.  My first thought wasn't "am I getting shocked?" but "did I break my nose?".  I don't really remember getting through the rest of the obstacle because my nose hurt so badly. I crawled out and just bent over, head in my hands, and softly patted on and around my nose.  I'm still not entirely convinced that it isn't broken or fractured and it still hurts like hell, but it isn't crooked or purple so I'm just hoping it feels better soon.

Overall, it was an amazing experience. I loved it and cannot wait to do the next one.  We've already looked into doing 2 next year - one in the spring (if it fits around the wedding and graduation) and another one in the fall.  I promise that I am actually wearing pants in the picture below.  And that Dos XX was the best damn beer I've ever had.  The only better beer I can image will be the Shiners that I consume after my half marathon!

Still waiting on the high res version to be sent to us. I'll replace it when it comes in!

never has Five Guys tasted so good

I (stupidly) started time while we were waiting, so it was actually closer to 3.5 hours and a pace of 24 min/mile. But 1130 calories! Woohoo!

Two things: (1) See that mud in my hairline? This was after TWO showers! (2) Holy sunburn, Batman!

How I spent my evening, post-Tough Mudder: bubble bath, TV, hydrating and brews.  It was heavenly.

So... who wants to join me for the next obstacle race? Or for the BCM 5K this Saturday? Registration is 50% off with code "LastMinute" but ends tonight!