Stretching your dollar

I get it moms, running a house on a budget is tough. Way tough! I also told myself many times what I hear many of you saying, I just get afford to eat healthy. I can't afford that shake or that fitness program. I have no money for stuff like that.

Perhaps you are like me and do have the money lurking in places you just don't know. And I have found that my shake that I once felt cost way too much is indeed affordable as I am no longer buying generic supplements for women and probiotics as both are contained in the shake AND I am snacking less (and that saves the cost of that food) and I am no longer running to the general store for an afternoon pick me up (and that costs an arm and a leg on Maui).

But sometimes even that doesn't feel like enough when darling daughter's hobby and other necessities in life seem to pile up. I have been taking a good hard look at our budget and how we spend things the past couple of years. I have cut out cable but we do stream Netflix, get the DVD's (although that may be cut out again), and stream Amazon through Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime in itself has saved me money because if I need to buy just one thing, I do. No longer am I buying more just to get free shipping.

I shop smarter. There are things I can get online at the same price, or even better prices. Many of these online retailers are part of UPromise so when I shop through the UPromise link at many retailers, a portion of what I spend goes into a college savings for darling daughter. No, I am not saving thousands of dollars, I don't shop that much, but every penny counts and she already has more saved for her college than I did when I started college. Win-Win. Another way to look at this, having pets is paying part of her college expense every time I buy them food and supplies!

And my Amazon shopping makes a difference beyond me as I have signed up for AmazonSmile and a portion of my purchases goes to support Immaculate Heart Radio. You can set it up to support the charity of your choice and once it is set up, it is there for you every single time and you do not spend more. Your money just goes more and is stretched to help a charity you love. How cool is that?!

As much as I want to say I have no credit card debt, I still have some I am working on getting rid of mainly due to trips to the mainland each summer to see my mom and extended family. It is hard to say no to those annual trips when it is the one time of year we can see everyone. But once again, I book them through UPromise so darling daughter's college savings builds up a bit more and I use credit cards that give me rewards I need and value without annual fees. Sorry airline cards, I would love your miles but I am not willing to pay extra for that privilege. I love the Amazon dollars I earn, cash back, and now Costco rewards. These are things I need and use. Not wasted stuff.

On that note, I will use a credit card, say the Costco card, and immediately pay off the balance just to add in the extra rewards. Those rewards often go to treats during the year or holiday/birthday gifts. It helps a lot to go into the Christmas season and have rewards, gift cards, etc to turn to to cover a good portion of gift giving.

And I pay attention to online specials and free offers that many companies have. I know the value of items and can judge if the value is outweighed by shipping costs.

My strategy involves awareness and diligence. I can't leave things to the last minute. I already have Christmas gifts for some family and focus more on the kiddo's versus the adults. Darling daughter and I celebrated that we already earned our free turkey reward at a local grocery store and are trying to earn just one more so we can get a second turkey for our Christmas dinner but I won't spend just to get the reward. We will only buy our needs so if I don't earn the reward, no worries, I have a plan B.

I buy in bulk and prep many freezer meals and keep the freezer stocked...although I am working on unstocking right now to make room for the turkey. This is a good way to get those veggies at a better price and when they are in a freezer meal, you are not wasting food by it rotting. We buy what is on special and strive to grow some of our own food. It is working. We are doing great with beans, carrots, tomatoes, celery, and a few herbs. This keeps not only us, but our pets, happy. P.S. The last time I harvested my celery I just got the tops off and it is growing again! Did you know that could happen?

We compost and that eliminates the cost of fertilizer and we don't buy much soil for new pots as we are making our own. We reused a cardboard egg carton to start need seedlings in too versus the seed starter cups I used to buy. We are getting smarter!

We live simply and hardly ever go to the theater. I mean, maybe twice a year and I think both times in the past year we had free movie vouchers. I make dinners 99% of the time and this includes making many things that come in mixes from scratch such as pancakes, biscuits, tortillas, rolls, etc. I think the food is better for us and I am certain cheaper in the long run.

I use a refillable coffee cup for my coffee maker versus K-Cups....again 99% of the time. Sometimes I splurge for a nice flavor.

Like an eating plan and all things in life, it is all about balance and not being too restrictive that you can't enjoy life and share what you have with others.

There are some expensive ticket items on our shopping lists from time to time such as my vegan cheese. I don't eat it very much at all to save that cost and strive to buy it, and my vegan butter, when it is on sale. I am looking forward to my vegan cheese enchiladas for my birthday though! That will be my birthday present. And peanut butter....I will pay more for freshly ground peanut butter versus buying the highly processed peanut butter and just eat less of it to stretch out the purchase. And hey! Darling daughter will even eat the "good" stuff. I am looking forward to trying to make my own one day too but I question how big of a savings that would be versus using the grinders at Whole Foods. P.S. Did you know they have a treat bin for kids 12 and under to get a piece of fruit to keep them peaceful while you shop?

What dollar stretching tips do you have? I would love to learn more!!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for the rewards in life.

Daily Bible Verse: Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  ~ Hebrews 13:5


Maui Marathon Race Recap

Last Sunday I ran my 10th marathon and my 5th Maui Marathon. It was a day I will always remember. It was an AMAZING race and no, I did not PR but what I did find was something even better than a PR.

Here's my story.

I started training for this marathon in perfect timing. I ran 20 miles on the treadmill in mid June before going on summer vacation. To be exact, that 20  miler was on June 18th. I was on track, focused, and committed. I ran on my vacation as planned and even created my plan to include less mileage during those three weeks on vacay to account for airports and cruising. I ran a beautiful 13.25 mile run in Texas and was happy getting that done. Like I said, I was on plan.

Then I came home and everything changed. School started back up, I may or may have not experienced some post-vacay blues associated with leaving my entire extended family on the mainland once again. You would think with school back in session, running would have got back into my normal groove but it didn't.

School started and so did more mommy duties, mommy duties I am unwilling to give up. Darling daughter joined the cross country team (yay!) and our weeks and weekends got more hectic. Plus, I shifted her weekend horse lessons from Sunday to Saturday to make Sunday's less hectic and more family and God focused. All things I do not regret BUT it left me trying to squeeze in long runs Saturday before horse lessons (and then before cross country!) and I was getting irritable and stressed and realized, I did not want to do this anymore. I decided to NOT run the Maui Marathon. I knew my long run training was off and I didn't want to stress about it any more. I wanted to be a better, more present mom.

I found my happy again and was still running daily and cross training like a champ. I was having fun and feeling so much better about life. I wasn't taking it easy as some of my cross training was intense! I did 21 Day Fix, 21 Day Fix Extreme, Cize, Country Heat, Insanity, and more. I kinda was insane...insanely happy!

But then it hit me...I wanted to run the marathon and give my cross training the true test; after all, I am a Beachbody coach. I wanted to really tell you more about this training and maybe part of me wanted to show you how it does make a difference.

I went into the race with the mindset, it it okay to walk. Do your best. Have fun. And I knew something BIG was going to happen. I didn't know what. I didn't expect a PR but I hope my human frailty didn't block out the BIG that I felt in my heart was on the verge of happening. I believed this to my core and was shaking with excitement on race day morning wondering what it would be.

After chatting a bit with friends and hubby, I parted and found my peaceful corner to reflect, pray, and center myself before the race start. I enjoyed the fire dancer and couldn't wait to get this show on the road. Everyone was saying it was a bit chilly. I felt it was muggy and warm and wondered if my thermoregulation was already out of whack due to hormones but hey, I can't control hormones so I let that go.

And then....the race started and off I went. I realized I once again started a wee bit fast and focused on easing up my pace and continued to run happy. I felt strong and my legs were happy. The miles seem to fly by and I knew I was running a good pace for me at around 9'30" miles. I knew I could go a bit slower but definitely did not want to go faster. I sipped on my SOS at aid stations. I prefer this over the Beachbody Hydrate just because it has  more sodium in it. I am a salty sweater and know I need that extra sodium to avoid taking salt tabs and having salt-related issues.

At mile 7 I ate one of the dates I packed. I didn't feel I needed it but felt I should consume something. I was still feeling strong and happy and was about to approach the hilly part of the course. I made the choice to run the hills and fuel again (beyond my drink) after the tunnel when the course flattened out. I was carrying food I need to chew versus gels due to me thinking I wasn't going to race and hadn't practiced much eating on the run on land versus the treadmill and did not want to choke. Not a good thing.

The half marathon point arrived and I ate a graham cracker and another date on the run. The graham cracker was a bit harder to consume but I knew it was a good fuel for me as I often eat them on long runs on the treadmill. It was just harder to manage on the roadside. My pace was on target for a 4 hour 20 minute marathon but I knew this could change. The hills slowed me down a bit but not much.

Before I knew it I was at 16 miles, still holding a happy pace, and then it hit me. I just ran the longest run in who knows how long. I turned off my music and started saying the rosary with the idea to complete it and then fuel some more. I made it about halfway through and at 16.25 miles it came to my heart to walk a bit and fuel now. I ate my second graham cracker and a couple of dates while walking, texted my friend where I was on the course for her timing purposes, heard some drums, and started running again. I was feeling good but felt now was the time to incorporate a run/walk plan.

And I did. I walked when I wanted to and tied it into eating another date or just walking to stretch out my legs. It was all under control and I wasn't walking because I had to but because I wanted to.

At mile 21 I was still feeling amazingly strong and it dawned on me. My core and upper body strength were strong. I always felt weak at this point with an aching back wishing the CamelBak wasn't on me. Not now. It didn't bug me one iota. I stretched my arms a couple of times and kept on going.

The walking breaks were slowing down my overall pace and in marathons, I am always slower the second half. I plan to work on that. Trust me, I do.

The final mile came and I was still feeling in control of my body. Yes, I was slower but I felt strong and capable if that makes any sense. The final half mile was in sight, an amazing song I love came on, and I flew to the finish line one happy runner.

My time, 4:47:51. My slowest and strongest marathon. I finished strong and had more energy in my reserves. I was hesitant and at mile 16 decided to stop racing and turn my run into a training run. My gut knew this was my longest run in who knows how long and I wanted to be smart. Perhaps some may say I played it too safe but I am happy with my race.

I found that my cross training paid off. My last three long runs in the double digits prior to race day were the 20 miles on June 18th, 13.25 miles on July 2nd, and 10 miles on July 23rd. I should not have been able to run a marathon like I did. Not based on my running alone. As a running coach, with that running prior to race day, I am not sure I would tell the client to go ahead and race. In the almost two months heading up to race day I did not have one single double-digit run. Worse, very few days were over 5 miles. It was purely the cross training that I did that carried me to the finish line....not faster, but stronger. That means something, y'all. Something HUGE.

And something BIG did happen. God touched my heart and revealed Himself to me in an AMAZING way. As I prayed along the course I thought of all the people I have prayed for and felt their presence alongside me too. I was not alone. I am never alone. None of us are. I can't even begin to express this experience in words but it still does, and will always, bring me happy chills whenever I reflect on it. I am so lucky to be called to run for God, to run for Toby, and to run to make a difference in this world that seems so messed up at times with so many people hurting.

What is next?

My 11th marathon on January 15th. As of today my marathon training is back in full swing with runs getting longer and cross training staying a central focus. Imagine what I can do when I keep God central in my life, run my long runs, and cross train like a champ. Now that will be a fun story to tell but we are all going to have to wait a wee bit for that ending.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for my 10th marathon and my very quick recovery post race.

Daily Bible Verse: For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. ~ Jeremiah 29:11


3 sleeps until the Maui Marathon

What a crazy time it has been. My training is completely unconventional and I seem to have caught a bit of a cold bug BUT taking today off of work and resting, resting, resting seems to be helping big time. I didn't sleep much but I did stay lazy on the lounger per darling daughter's instructions and binged on NCIS. And I think she will approve of my warm Epsom Salt soak in the tub doing my personal development reading for the day. I strive for 10 minutes a day and today I did a whole whopping 30 minutes....pretty much until the water got too "cold" for me.

AND...the weather here as been BEYOND crazy. I am talking thunderstorms, lightning (yes, those are weird on Maui...well, at least until the past year or so and then it has just been weird), flash flood warnings left and right (never knew my phone gave alerts like it does!), a tornado, landslides, road closures, etc etc etc. All I can say is thank goodness I am not the race director of this race as I would be a basket case. There is road work along one segment of the course and a landslide (or two) on another. Cars stuck in water. Stress. Stress. Stress. But he may be more of a chilly type of guy than I am. I hope so. I don't want him overly stressed pre-event.

The good is I hear the weather should be done with its craziness tomorrow, which is good. Darling daughter has the Front Street Mile Saturday, dear hubby and I have packet pick up, and the Maui Marathon is Sunday. Woo-hoo!!!

This is definitely going to be a just enjoy the experience race. Go with flow race. Be happy race. At least, that is my plan because I do have lots of variables coming into play. Obviously the weather and its impact on the course. The new start and finish lines that kinda mess with my race course mindset. That is the downside of running a race for the 4th time (if I am remembering right). You get used to the course and minor switch up's can mess with you but then, they are really minor and I may like them. Female mother nature may also NOT be on my side. I am hoping for the best because I tend to have 10-12 hours of pure torture each month where I can't wander to far from a ladies' room. Those hours on the cruise ship were torture! My poor daughter had to be dragged away from fun so many times for me to tend to nature but all was okay. I just don't want to be hitting the porta potties every hour along the course but good thing I am not striving to PR. And honestly, it is all out of my control. But I do have to ask, why do marathons and female mother nature like to try to collide so many times for me?!

On the bright side, I am itching to run. I have been sticking to just a mile days all week and my cross training has been yoga and one 10 minute ab session yesterday. I was really trying to rest up as much as possible to combat the urge I had to run 20 miles since I decided to go for it and race two weeks ago. That would have been a bad idea.

I have faith I am trained well. I have been working out hard and am in the best shape ever. Really, I am. I have much more upper, lower, and core body strength since like forever and I can't wait to see how that helps on the race course. Plus, if I decide I can use this as a training run and add back in all my cross training PLUS long runs and run the Maui Oceanfront Maui come January.

Maui Marathon, see you in 3 sleeps!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for growing self esteem and confidence.

Daily Bible Verse: When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. ~ Psalm 56:3


If Girls Ran the World Update

It is almost October...kinda, sorta...and I am stoked to be part of this campaign through SweatPink.

I am also stoked that thanks to a wonderful supporter, Jeremy, I have already raised $43.76 of my $250 goal. That is WAY cool but I still have a ways to go and need your help to get there.

I am raising money for Save the Children.

From their website, Save the Children "invests in childhood – every day, in times of crisis and for our future. In the United States and around the world, we give children a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. By transforming children's lives now, we change the course of their future and ours."

They operate in 120 countries, providing support for health, education, protection, disaster relief and so much more. This fit well with my desire to help the whole world....to extend my corporal acts of mercy to all the corners of the Earth.

I am also committed to running 125 miles in October so you can envision it as a sponsorship of $2 per mile. If I raise more than $250, I will run more! How about that?!

The bulk of my running will be done on my treadmill at home but I am hoping to hit the roads some with darling daughter now that she is falling in love with cross country running....although I may need to bribe her with a trip to the coffee house afterwards to get a cup of coffee for me and a nice fresh baked pastry for her. Hey, girls gotta have fun!

But I also am teaching her about charity through the gently used items we donate, contributions to charities, Med Packs, Action Packs, and I am thinking we need to do a "penny jar" with all October contributions going to this cause.

I love running for a cause. Won't you donate today? Every little bit helps! Thank you and may God bless you.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for Jeremy's donation and for yours!

Daily Bible Verse: What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. ~ James 2:14-26