Friday, November 18, 2011

Training Update!

I am officially two days away from my first ever half marathon...yikes! 

I told you last week about my progress and goals for as promised, here is the update of how my training went this week :)

Last Friday was my last day of Boot Camp. I really enjoyed it, but I decided to not sign up for another 4 weeks (at least for now) because I knew I needed to work on my running this week, and next week I am going to be gone for Thanksgiving...not to mention eating WAY too much, and probably NOT working out. haha. 

Saturday - I was a slacker. I just sat around my house and watched football all day. Who can blame me? :)

Sunday - Outdoor season is over, but I did go to my indoor soccer game that night...which involved running :) Well...kinda. We almost mercy-ruled the other team in the first half, so the second half we decided to play keep-away and not shoot the ball at the goal. haha.

Monday - I woke up and did one of the Insanity DVDs - Plyometric Cardio Circuit to be exact. Whew! I've decided that no matter how good of shape I am in, those will always make me feel like I am dying. I survived though...

Tuesday - I was a slacker. I really have no excuse. Just had a really bad day.

Wednesday - I have a confession to make. I did not complete my 9 mile goal this week. I had good intentions though, really. Let me explain:
Wednesday was the annual chili cook-off in the chemical engineering department at school...which means I had lots of chili for lunch. Hello...who wants to run after they just ate chili? Well...I still had really good intentions, because I knew I didn't want to do my 9 mile run at later than Wednesday because I wanted to have time for my body to recover before the actual race this Sunday. So I go home, I piddle around, clean the house some, catch up on some recorded TV...and then I finally convince myself that the chili has settled and it's time to go for a run. This was at about 4:45pm. So I get my gear ready...Garmin watch - check. iPod + armband + search for/locate headphones - check. Running pants (because it's cold out there...) - check. Long-sleeve T-shirt - check. Earwarmers and gloves - check (my hands and ears are always what gets the COLDEST when I run in the cold weather, so these were a necessity). Running shoes - check. So here I am, all set to go, and it's right about 5pm. Great right? So I take off from my house, and just decide to run until I've gone far enough that I could turn around and run home and only have to do one or two smaller circles  around my neighborhood to complete the 9 miles (I like scenic routes...I don't like to run the same route over and over). Genius idea, right? Well I thought so...

So here I am...jogging along, listening to some good Jesus music to keep me motivated along my little trek...and I get a little over 3 miles from my house in about 29 minutes, down this curvy, two-lane, country road. I decide it's probably a good time to turn around...I'll still be able to avoid boredom, and can make it home at a decent time to have something for dinner. I'm still enjoying my run...not feeling like I'm dying yet...and these cute little family of deer run across the street in front of me. At this point, I'm really loving the scenic route, right? 

Until about a quarter of a mile later, I realize it is almost completely dark outside. I'm running in the country, on a two-lane, curvy road...still about two and a half miles away from my neighborhood...and it's going to be pitch black in about 5 minutes. Awesome. 

By the way, in case you were wondering...when it gets really dark suddenly, it also gets really cold suddenly. And then it also gets really windy suddenly. So imagine my panic when I'm freezing, it's dark, I'm running uphill into the wind, and a car flies around a corner of this road I'm running on....

Yeah. I was pretty much terrified. My Jesus music is really just not getting the job done at this point. By this point, I'm pleading with God himself to rescue me and get me home safely. So I basically start "sprinting"...or at least it felt like that. My Garmin still says I was only running at an 8:38 or so per mile pace, but by golly I was going uphill into the wind and I'm on mile give me a break! Cars are still flying around the curves, causing what I think might have been multiple minor heart attacks...

I manage to make it back to my neighborhood with about six and a quarter miles under my belt, calm down a bit, and tell myself I can keep going. So I start zig-zagging through the streets of my neighborhood, thanking Jesus for his protection, and back to enjoying my Jesus music. I get to about 7.25 miles, and I realize I can no longer feel my legs...and I'm pretty sure that means I'm going to face-plant on the pavement at any given moment. I think I'm going to have to give the credit to the adrenaline rush - and then the sudden crash that usually happens after an adrenaline rush. That, and the fact that I was, in my mind at least, sprinting for the 2.5 miles before I got back to my a ravishing 8:38 pace. Again, give me a break...I normally run a 9:30-10 minute mile pace...

I was determined to make it to 8 miles just because I would feel like a loser if I didn' as soon as the Garmin beeped and told me I had completed lap 8, I stopped that sucker and crawled my way back to my house. 

So...I did not make it to 9 miles, but I did do 8. And I'm fairly certain that I almost lost my life. haha.

Thursday - I got up that morning, a little achy from the night before, but I still managed to do an Insanity DVD. This time I chose Cardio Recovery. It just seemed appropriate after my near heart attack the night before. But can I just say this...just because it gave my heart a rest, did not mean that it did not kick my butt. Literally. My butt hurts today.

Friday - So here we are today, and as promised, I am relaxing and letting my body recuperate. I also had some bowtie pasta for lunch...getting my carbs in :) And tonight I plan on going to my favorite sports bar in town, Louie's, to watch the Pokes play Iowa State and get their yummy Ultimate 3 Cheese Macaroni Bake with Chicken..ahh...I can't wait! :) 

Do I think I am ready for my half marathon? Not really. haha. But I do know I can do at least 8 miles, which means I can probably do at least 10...and then the final 3 I might have to walk...or crawl. haha. We'll see :) But I am looking forward to the challenge and think that whether I run the whole distance or have to take a break and walk a little bit off and on the last 1/4 of the route, I will still feel accomplished and proud of myself for trying! I will let you know how it goes!

On a more somber note, please send your prayers up for the families of the coaches that were lost in last night's plane crash, as well as for the Oklahoma State Cowboy family as a whole. The loss is devastating in and of itself, but it is compounded by the fact that the just recently commemorated the loss of the entire Cowboy Men's Basketball team in another plane crash that happened 10 years ago.

Pistols firing...let's go Pokes!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Warrior Musings

This post is LONG overdue, but hey, better late than never...right? I actually can't believe I never posted it. I actually forgot :(

Remember how I told you about the Warrior Dash that was coming to Tulsa? And I told you all about the craziness leading up to it and then finding a Groupon for it in Warrior Dash...Resurrected!? Well, the weekend after I got home from California in September, I became an official Warrior. I know you're jealous. And you should be.

I ended up recruiting a couple of friends and we signed up for the 4:00 wave. My sister and all her friends were signed up for the 1:00 wave. BUT...we got wind that they didn't really check that closely to make sure people were in the correct wave, so we cheated and jumped waves so we could do it with my sister and her friends. Nobody noticed :) And really...if they would have, what were they gonna do, mess with this?

Warrior Dash Pre-Game at Brett and Andy's House
 And that was only about half of us! haha. And don't ask me when rakes and shovels became warrior weapons... :)

My sister had worked very hard to make us all matching T-shirts...and she did such a good job! Our team name was "Balls and Dolls"...she's so clever :) Our small group drove to Tulsa to meet up with the rest of the group. We parked in a giant field behind some fancy house and had to take a bus to the Warrior Dash location. There we found the rest of our crew. Here is the before picture :)

We were clean...but not for long!

We got checked in, got our chips tied to our shoelaces, and checked our bags in so we didn't have to carry them around during the race and get them covered in mud. Good choice by the way.

For 3.26 miles, we crawled through barbed wire, climbed over the top of dead cars, hopped through tires, climbed up giant wood walls and jumped off big ledges, crawled up and over rope webs, swam through muddy water over spinning logs...and the in-between was filled with lots of running through the woods on a rocky "trail" up and down a giant hill (what we Oklahomans like to call Turkey Mountain)...and at the end we had to leap over FIRE! haha...okay, so the flames were kinda small, but still...this course was intense.

It was totally worth the $30 I paid for the Groupon. I hope it comes back to the area next year so we can do it again! It was so much fun that I might even consider paying full price for it next year. haha.

Here are some after pictures:
We were a little muddy...
Me and my sister modeling our Warrior helmets and medals...and the photo bombers :)

Sister and me showing off our last names :)
I actually had a couple of guys on the course make comments about us because we were "named for the course"...they were just jealous because we were ahead of them the whole time :) 

The girls...Cassie and I apparently wanted to show off some leg. haha.

Some random guys with mullets...

Me and my friend Dee riding the bus back to the cars :)

Me and Liz...she's kinda a stud :)
We had such a great time! I can't wait to get a group together to do it again in the (hopefully) near future! :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Half Marathon Training Update

In my last post, I briefly alluded to the fact that I have been a downright SLACKER in my training for the half marathon I signed up for on November 20th. And by that, I mean I seriously have been lucky if I go for a run once a week...I think that might be pushing it. About a week and a half / two weeks ago, I did a 4 mile run, and I told myself I would increase that by 2 miles in the remaining weeks I had left before the HM. Didn't quite happen. I did a 6 mile run for the first time EVER yesterday. I had actually never ran that far before, so I was excited :) And I kept my time under an hour...I finished in 58:27 to be exact. I was happy with that, because I usually make my goal to run each mile at under a 10 minute, barely, but I succeeded :) I am officially down to a week and two days before the half my new goal is to try to do a 9 mile run early next week, and maybe a couple of short runs between today and next Thursday. I am taking Friday and Saturday off completely to rest, and Sunday, November 20th, is the big day!

In my defense, although I haven't been running as much as I would have hoped, I promise I haven't been completely lazy. I play in a women's soccer league for the City of Fayetteville on Sunday afternoons, and about a month ago, I also started playing in an indoor women's league at All-Star Sports in Springdale on Sunday nights as well. So for the past month I have been playing two soccer games every Sunday. That definitely counts as running. We had our final game in the outdoor league this past Sunday (we got 3rd place! haha), but I think indoor goes through the first week of December, so I have a few more of those games, and then I think another league starts up shortly after that, so I plan on playing again :)

In addition to the little running I've done and the soccer games, I've also been taking a Boot Camp class for the past 4 weeks. I told you here about my LivingSocial coupon I bought for 4 weeks of Boot Camp. Today was the final day of my 4 weeks :) I have really enjoyed it, and I can definitely tell a difference in my strength. It was nice to have a little break from the running too because I had gotten to where I had lost enough weight that I really didn't want to keep losing any more...I just wanted to stay fit and tone up a bit. Here are a few pictures of me at Boot Camp that Suzanne (the trainer) took and posted on her Facebook page:

I promise, I wasn't as miserable as I appear to be in this picture ;)
I am pleased with this LivingSocial purchase, and feel like the class was worth it. I really enjoyed it. If you are in the NW Arkansas area and are interested in trying out Boot Camp, let me know and I will give you more information!

Hopefully by this time next week I will have completed my 9 mile run goal and be resting and drinking lots of water in preparation for the big day. I am also going to try to work in a couple of Insanity DVDs between now and then. I will keep you posted on my progress :)

Also, I am going to try to get caught up on some other group coupon reviews in the next week or two, so stay tuned :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Frugal Clothing Finds and Christmas Shopping on a Budget!

It has been a little while since I've posted, but I wanted to give you an update on some things I've been up to lately...Shopping! I honestly don't like shopping. I know, I'm an abnormal female. But I just don't. I hate spending money, I hate trying on clothes...and on top of that, I'm really indecisive, so it's usually quite the chore.

But two things have caused my recent shopping sprees to be a necessity:

1 - After losing about 50 lbs over the past year and 3/4, I was in desperate need of some new clothes.
2 - I've set out to get all of my Christmas shopping done EARLY this year.

I've mentioned in previous posts about how I've lost weight by (mostly) running and (somewhat) eating more healthy. I started my weight loss journey in January of 2009. At my highest, I weighed between 175-180 lbs...and I'm 5'3 3/4", so needless to say, I didn't carry it well. Since then, I have lost about 50 lbs, so I'm down to around 125 lbs now. Which is awesome. I still have some areas that could definitely use some work, but overall, I am happy with my results. I feel much more confident about how I look, and most importantly, I FEEL so much better.

That's the good news! The bad news is...losing all that weight can definitely take its toll on one's pocketbook. For about the first year, I had to buy new jeans nearly every 1-2 months. Now that I've finally started to stay at a consistent weight, that's gotten much better. However, I never really went shopping for new tops. I guess I put this off because I am usually perfectly content wearing T-shirts, and I have plenty of those from all the 5K races I've done! haha...but seriously...I needed some nice casual clothes. Something I could kind of dress up with and look nice.

As many of you know, I am super OCD about our budget. Over the past 6 months, I have been even more crazy with the budget than normal, because I am determined to get us out of debt. From April to May, we paid off all credit cards, and after that, every spare dime I could find went towards Walter's truck. While we still have some student loans that we are working on paying off, now that we are finally done paying off the truck and the Kirby (probably the most impulsive purchase I've ever made...and though I would now never recommend going into debt to buy one, that dang vacuum is worth every. stinkin'. penny.), I feel like I finally have some wiggle room to splurge a little bit and actually buy myself some clothes that fit.

I have gotten a pretty good amount of stuff, and every single bit of it I have bought either on clearance or with a coupon. I refuse to pay full price for clothes for myself. Especially when I know I can find some good deals with very little effort. Here are a few of my finds:

Old Navy Active Wear
So I know what you're thinking...this isn't exactly cute casual clothes that I can dress up...haha. But I got such a good deal on this stuff, I couldn't pass it up. Plus, between my Boot Camp class I'm doing right now and the half marathon I am should be training for, I was in the market for some good workout pants. I love their fleeces because a) they are comfy, b) they are perfect for the fall weather when it's a bit too cool for t-shirts, but too warm for full jackets, and c) they are also perfect in winter, because I can layer them and wear them UNDER my coats when it is super frigid outside (I don't do cold...). Old Navy had their yoga pants, compression pants and performance fleeces on sale, AND I had a 25% off coupon that I found on their website and printed off. Here's what I paid:
Performance fleeces: originally $19.94, on sale for $15 each  + 25% off = $11.25 each!
Yoga pants: originally $19.94, on sale for $10 + 25% off = $7.50 each! (seriously...can't beat that!)
Compression crop leggings: originally $26.94, on sale for $15 + 25% off = $11.26! 

This next little lot is not for me, but I had to share :) For those of you who don't know, I am going to have a new niece in March! Walter's little sister, Alex, is pregnant with a baby girl, and I am so excited to be an aunt again :) I have decided to start picking up a few things along the way when I find stuff on sale to give her for her baby shower early next I picked up a few steals while I was at Old Navy with my 25% off coupon:
Old Navy Baby Finds!
 Striped pants: originally $8.94, on sale for $2.99 + 25% off = $2.24
Ruffle polka dot shorts: originally $6.50, on sale for $2.47 + 25% off = $1.85
White skirt: originally $6.50, on sale for $1.47 + 25% off = $1.10
Striped shirt: originally $7.94, on sale for $1.97 + 25% off = $1.48
Jelly sandals: originally $8.50, on sale for $0.97 + 25% off = $0.73...yep, you read that right! 73 cents!
I also bought a couple of other items for my roommate's baby girl, but I can't post those on here because they are Christmas presents ;) ...but I can tell you this much - I did the math, and I ended up getting almost $63 worth of baby clothes for about 12 bucks! I have already decided that when I finally decide to have a child, I will shop like this for their clothes as much as possible! They just grow too fast!

Maurice's Clearance Rack Finds!
 I absolutely LOVE Maurice's! Their clothes fit me really well and I like the style. Every time I go in there, I head straight back to the clearance rack to see what kind of goodies I can find. I love that they put stuff on sale, and then they have different clearance racks where you can take an additional percentage off the sale price. I also had an old coupon that I received in the mail or something a while back for 15% off my total purchase. Here is what I found last week on clearance:

Flowery spaghetti strap dress: originally $29.99, on sale for $24.99, on the 75% off clearance rack + 15% off = $5.31
Gray tee: originally $16.00, on sale for $12.99, on the 50% off rack + 15% off = $5.52
Marble looking cocoon shirt: originally $29, on sale for $24.99, 50% off rack + 15% off = $10.62
White 3/4 sleeve overshirt: originally $29, on sale for $24.99, 50% off rack + 15% off = $10.62
White shirt with purple swirlies: originally $24, on sale for $21.99, 50% off rack + 15% off = $9.34
White shirt that fades to blue: originally $22, on sale for $19.99, 50% off rack + 15% off = $8.49
Blue and brown tanks: originally $14 each, on sale BOGO 50% off + 15% off = $11.90 for the first and $5.95 for the second
Black wedge sandals: Regularly $34, on sale for $9.99 + 15% off = $8.49! haha I was excited about those :)
I also bought the brown belt in the picture wasn't on sale, but I really liked it...haha. It was $15, so with my 15% off coupon, it was $12.75 :)

Today @ Maurice's BOGO Sale
Maurice's periodically has a promotion where they do buy one get one 50% off...typically they do this for a particular group of items, such as tops, jeans, sweaters, casual, dressy, etc. But currently they are doing BOGO 50% on everything, which I love :) I also found a 25% off coupon I printed online that could be used on any non-sale items, and used my military discount to get another 10% off my entire purchase. Here were the totals for these three items: 

Sweater dress: originally $44, + 25% off and 10% off = $29.70
Hooded sweater: originally $34, 50% off + 10% off = $15.30
Red cardigan: originally $29, 50% off + 10% off = $13.05
I also bought one other item at full price, minus the 25% and 10% of course, to get the cardigan at 50% off, but it is something I am going to give as a Christmas gift, so it doesn't get to go on the blog :) 

As I was on my way out of the mall from Maurice's, I decided to make a quick stop at American Eagle to browse their clearance rack, and I found this shirt:
American Eagle Clearance Rack
 This was regularly $15.50, but on sale for $11.99, then on the 40% off clearance rack, so I ended up paying $7.19 :) I really love that color!

It has taken me a long time to accept the whole boots inside the jeans style. I still can't do the Ugg boots or fake ones that look like it....I think they are hideous (no offense if you like them...just not my thing!). But I found these cute little boots that I could pass off as cowboy boots just in time for the Reba concert, so I had to get them! And I have been wanting a pair of skinny jeans for a while that I can wear with boots and heels and stuff like that, so there you go:

Boots - Charlotte Russe; Skinny jeans - Wet Seal
 The boots were regularly $40, but on sale for $19.99 - AND Charlotte Russe has their boots on sale right now at BOGO $15. So my sister and I joined forces, and I bought a brown pair and she bought a black pair, and we split the cost of the two, so they ended up being $17.75 each before taxes. The jeans I got on sale at Wet Seal - regularly $26.50, on sale for $19.50 :)

Next up - Halloween sales at Target! 

I have no idea why this picture won't rotate the correct apologies.
I love raiding the after holiday sales at the store to see what I can find for dirt cheap! I normally am against dogs wearing clothes, but last year on Halloween, I decided to dress up my Pit Bulls in Halloween costumes. Koda was a football that I found on sale for $6 at PetSmart and Aspen was a hippo in a tutu that I found for like $9 at TJ Maxx! But this year, when I looked at Halloween costumes for them, everything was more expensive than I was willing to spend on something that my DOGS would wear only ONCE (although I'm not gonna lie, Koda has totally worn the football again a time or two...I just love it :) So when I went to Target this year the day after Halloween, they had all their costumes marked down 50% off - so I stocked up for next year :) Koda is going to be a cow ($6.50 on clearance!) and Aspen is going to be a witch ($3 on clearance!)...I will probably make her a home-made tutu to go with it :) I also got a little My First Halloween onesie for baby Emma for $2.49 (regularly $4.99) - don't worry, I planned ahead and got the 9 months size :)

I went back to Target today to pick up a Christmas gift for my soldier, and they had all their Halloween stuff marked down to 90% off! So I really couldn't resist...I also picked up a ghost and pumpkin T-shirt for Koda and Aspen...regularly $6.99, so they were only 69 cents each! haha!

Now onto the Christmas goods! I think budgeting is very importantly all the time, but I think it is especially important to create a Christmas budget. I also think planning ahead and shopping early can make a HUGE difference. If you know exactly what you are going to get someone, you can shop around and try to find the best deal. I have tried to compare prices online for a lot of my gifts, as well as checking for sale items. Even if I don't have a specific gift in mind, I have decided on a set amount that I am willing to spend on each person on my Christmas list, and I am determined to stick to it. That way I know exactly how much I am going to need, can plan ahead for it, and not worry about overspending to buy things for people. I have already gotten a lot of shopping done, and I have found some really good deals :)

Obviously I cannot post all of the Christmas gifts I've found, because I can't risk people finding out what their gifts are early, but I'm going to hope my sister keeps her kiddos away from my blog, because I just really wanted to post these! 

TJ Maxx Toys!
My adorable niece, Brooklynn, asked for some FurReal Friends this year. TJ Maxx just happened to have some great ones! I found this little lion cub that you can pet and he lays down, sits up, purrs, and you can feed him his bottle and he gets the hiccups. haha. Perfect for a 4-soon-to-be-5-year-old! I think she will love it. I found that little guy for only $19.99. I can't seem to find him at Target or Wal-Mart, so I don't know the exact price to compare...but I do know this - they sell FurReal Friends Newborns that are similar to him, only about half the size for $15-17, and I have seen the big FurReal friends - like the dogs you can walk on a leash - for around $46 on I feel like 20 bucks for this was probably a pretty good deal! I also got her a Furry Frenzies Playset, and I am certain that I got a STEAL on it! Again, I can't find this exact one in other stores, but I found others that were similar, just a little smaller, for around $25. This one was at TJ Maxx for $14.99, but it was on sale for $10! She will love it! See the little bunny rabbit in the lower right-hand corner? I actually looked at Wal-Mart tonight to see how much some of the other little animals like that are - they were 10 bucks - just for the animal! Without the playset! I was pretty proud of that find :) 

My nephew, Jaxon, is 8 years old. He has recently decided he wants to be a scientist when he grows up, just like his Aunt Lauren ;) So I found this little at-home science kit at TJ Maxx for $12.99 and picked it up for him. He can do fun things like make fake ice cubes and create green goo! haha. I had looked for kids science kits online prior to finding this, and all of them were really expensive. I did manage to later find one exactly like this for around the same price online, but I like this one better because I didn't have to pay for shipping :) I hope he likes it! I also got him an Xbox Live points card - he asked for that specifically. I am cheap, so I could only afford the smallest amount, which was 1600 points - they normally sell for $19.99 at Target and Wal-Mart, but I found one on for $18.96 with free Site to Store shipping! I know it's only a dollar off, but hey, I'll take whatever I can get :)

I also found some great stocking stuffers at TJ Maxx for the puppies! I got Koda a rope and Aspen a tennis ball dumbbell rope thing - each for $3.99 - which I felt like was a good deal, because my little terrors destroy the cheap crappy ropes in record time, so I normally have to spend at least $6-8 when I buy them a new tug-of-war rope (their favorite!) that will usually last them 2-3 weeks...haha. These were good quality, and for 4 bucks, really can't beat it! We'll see how long those last after Santa comes for a visit! haha

Aside from sale prices and clearance racks, I have also found sites like eBay and Amazon very beneficial this Christmas season. I would specifically recommend these for things like video games, CDs (you can sometimes find some cheaper than on iTunes!), and movies. Hopefully some of my gift recipients don't give a crap that their gift is not still wrapped in the plastic...haha. The way I see it, if you can get something that's been very gently used for so much cheaper, why not?! If I can find something for cheaper, it means my money can stretch further and I can get more gifts for the amount of money I have in my Christmas budget. Sounds like a win-win :) 

Do you have any frugal shopping tips or and ideas for planning for Christmas spending?