A Little Girl Finding The Perfect Christmas Tree

As a couple, Bill and I have never gone out and cut down a Christmas tree.  For several years, we purchased our Christmas tree from a nursery, but then we started buying them from our local volunteer fire department.  I reasoned that the fire department would surely sell the freshest cut-trees in town.  Looking back, I’m sad that our sons didn’t get to experience Christmas tree “shopping” in a forest like I did as a child.  As I reminisce about my childhood experience, I’ll share those memories with my sons and readers with a post that I first shared last year…

As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up on a dairy farm.  The wooded acreage was mostly made up of deciduous trees, but there were evergreens sprinkled throughout.  Every year, my dad took my brother and me with him to find the perfect Christmas tree.  Sometimes my mom came with us, but usually she stayed home and had hot chocolate waiting for us upon our return.  We didn’t have a sign to follow, but my dad knew every nook and cranny of his farm, and he always knew which direction to head to find the best pine tree.


Bundled up in my heavy winter coat, mittens, hat, and cowgirl boots;  I would pick out a twenty foot tall tree and then pout when Dad said that it was too big.  I was convinced that our ceiling was way taller than the trees that Dad was trying to direct me toward.  I wanted a tree that touched our ten-foot-tall ceiling, and even though every single year Dad had to cut some of the tree off so it would fit, I was convinced that the tree was tiny… until we got it in the house.


Pines native to our family farm are the Eastern White, Shortleaf, Pit, Virginia, Pond, and Table Mountain. I thought I remembered Dad calling the pines on our farm, black pines, but I just learned that they are only native to coastal areas of Japan, so it’s safe to say that’s not what we cut down.


As soon as we got the tree home, Dad would measure the tree and saw some of the trunk off so it would fit in our house.  Next he would whittle the trunk down so that it fit in the old cast iron wagon wheel he used for the Christmas tree stand.  It was very heavy and was the perfect weight to keep the tree from floating and falling over in it’s tub of water.  A big red tub that Mom used for gardening during the summer became the lifeline to our tree when it was filled with water, and kept full during the week the tree was up.  Our tree was not going to dry out!


Dad cutting the tree trunk to fit the wagon wheel stand (Dec 1976)

Dad would save the extra branches that he cut off the bottom of the tree for my mom to use to decorate the mantel, making our house the smell like a pine forest!


Once the tree was up, Dad strung the big old fashioned lights so we could decorate it (only they weren’t old fashioned at the time).  We were only allowed to have the lights on for a half-hour or so at a time because the bulbs got so hot.  I hated having to turn the lights off when our time was up!

Of course my brother and I had a blast decorating the tree with our mom.  Like all children of that era, putting on the icicles (tinsel) was our favorite part!  We would start out carefully placing each individual strand on one at a time, but as we got bored with the process, we would start tossing handfuls at a time leaving glittery clumps randomly placed on the tree.

We never had our tree up for more than about a week because my parents were concerned about the fire hazard, and quite honestly, I think that was the norm back then.  One year our tree came down a little early thanks to me.  When I was in first grade, I had the mumps during my Christmas break.  While checking out my favorite little elf decoration, I managed to pull the whole tree over on top of myself!  Since I had the mumps, and therefore swollen jaws, my dad said that I looked like a chipmunk crawling out from under a tree in the forest!


Infamous Elves on Circa 1980 Purchased Tree

My grandmother always had white pine Christmas trees since she had a grove of them that my uncles had planted as part of an FFA project, and she had a nice little selection to choose from.  I always loved how soft the leaves on the white pines felt when you brushed up against them, and how wonderful the tree smelled when you walked into Grandmother’s living room.  In addition to the decorations, my Grandmother taped envelopes of money onto the tree for each of her grandchildren.  There were 17 envelopes, each with a twenty dollar bill in it.  On Christmas night we could take down our envelope.  My brother’s was always closest to the top since he was the oldest and the tallest.


My Papaw always cut down cedars for his Christmas tree because he had a lot of them growing on his farm.  They were extremely fragrant, but I didn’t think they were as pretty as the pines; and to a little girl, beauty is everything!


By the time I went off to college, my parents had started buying trees from a lot in town.  For a few years they bought live trees with root balls to plant in their yard after Christmas.  One of those trees is still thriving in their yard and is about 50-feet tall.


Eventually my parents purchased an artificial tree simply for the convenience.  No matter the tree, it always brings back a wealth of memories whenever I see the tree decorated with all of my favorite childhood decorations standing in my parents’ home when I return for Christmas…

  • Questions:
  • What are your earliest memories about helping your family pick out a Christmas tree?
  • Did you buy your tree on a lot or go cut it down at a tree farm?
  • Was hot chocolate a part of your day?

Favorite Christmas Traditions

It’s time for Friday Five linkup with DC area bloggers Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!, and Mar at Mar on the Run!  Be sure to stop by their blogs and say hello!

The DC Trifecta chose Holiday Traditions to be this week’s Friday Five theme.  If you’ve read my blog for very long, you know how important family is to me, and how sentimental I can be…


When I think of Christmas traditions, I base my favorites on whether or not my memories elicit warm fuzzies.  I know that’s not a very sophisticated way of choosing my favorite memories, but it works for me.

1.  My very first Christmas memories are of my dad waking me up on Christmas morning while it was still dark outside.  The hall light would be on, but my bedroom would be pitch black.  I’d wake up sleepy-headed, but gain my bearings quickly once I remembered that it was Christmas morning. You see, Dad would wake my brother and me up before he left the house to milk the cows because he wanted to see us find our Santa gifts. We would play with our new toys while Dad milked the cows, and Mom made a huge Christmas breakfast.  To this day (even in July) if I wake up in the middle of the night at my parents’ house, and the hall light is on, I’m instantly flooded with fabulous memories of Christmas mornings so many years ago.


Circa 1963

2.  By the time I was in high school, my mom and I had started a tradition of baking a few batches of Christmas cookies every weekend starting in early October.   By mid-December we’d have enough cookies in the freezer to make elaborate trays of cookies and fudges to give to everyone we knew.  My teachers, mom’s hairdresser, the mailman, and elderly neighbors were just a few of the lucky recipients of those delicious trays of calorie-laden goodness.

In later years, I’d dedicate a weekend with my mom for a cookie baking marathon.  I think it was my dad’s favorite weekend of the year since he always assumed the role of quality control manager, tasting a sample cookie from every batch.


3.  Book Night has become a favorite holiday tradition of our sons.  We started it back when they were very little, and it’s been an annual staple ever since.  We used to start the night at Barnes and Noble next to Reston Town Center, but since the store closed last year, we had to go to McLean to find the nearest book store still open.  In the future, we may all need to be logged onto Amazon on our laptops and iPads for Book Night, but I certainly hope not.  After everyone purchases as many books as they want (within reason), we head to RTC for dinner.  One year we went to Morton’s, one year to Jackson’s…  We go wherever meets our fancy, and this year we’re going to Il Fornaio, were we had Joseph and Julie’s rehearsal dinner.


4.  These days we go to the 8 PM Christmas Eve mass, but when the boys were little we went to the earlier children’s mass.  We were founding parishioners of our parish (meaning we attended church in a local high school auditorium until our school/church was built).  Once St. Theresa’s had a building of its own, we just happened to be the family chosen to take the gifts down for the very first Christmas mass in our new home.  Daniel was a pre-schooler at the time, and got to carry Baby Jesus to his crib for the very first time.  After mass, our friend and paster, Monsignor McMurtrie reminded Daniel of what a special honor he’d had during mass.  I will never forget how serious Daniel took his job, and how pleased we were that he got to carry Baby Jesus while Bill, Joseph, and I presented the gifts.


5.  Now that our sons are young adults and we have a daughter-in-law, we have a new tradition after Christmas Eve mass.  We’ve always driven around our neighborhood admiring all of the beautiful Christmas lights, but now instead of putting the boys to bed when we get home so Santa can come; we have a delightful evening of snacking on sausage roll, homemade sweets, and wintery cocktails.  It’s family time, and a pure delight for Bill and me.


Photo credit: Bill


  • Questions:
  • What are your favorite holiday traditions?
  • Do you have an triggers that cause a flashback to your childhood? ~ For me, it’s waking up in the middle of the night and seeing the hall light on – it always takes me back to my childhood Christmases!
  • Who’s racing this weekend?

Why Not Run Instead Of Driving During Your Christmas Lights Tour?

Every year after Christmas Eve mass, our family drives around our neighborhood admiring all of the beautiful lights, and at least once during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve Bill and I try to fit in a evening run to enjoy the lights again.  During my early morning runs in December, however; I’m disappointed that most of the lights have been turned off overnight (ours included), and my run isn’t as beautiful as it could be.

Last week while on one of those early morning runs, a great idea popped into my head!  Why not organize an evening run with my MRTT friends, where we could take a leisurely run through one of our neighborhoods?  Why not, indeed!

Eleven of us met at the same place our group meets super early one morning a week, and I was surprised to see the parking lot was almost full on a Tuesday evening at 7 PM.  It’s a huge parking lot, but it’s also a very large and extremely popular restaurant.  Before we started our run, we asked someone to take a few pictures of us in front of one of the two giant nutcrackers in front of the restaurant.

Being the bossy person that I am, I asked for a second picture taken a little closer.  The poor guy just wanted to go into the restaurant to eat.  He probably needed a stiff drink after he left us!


We took off for our run, decked out in reflective vests, headlamp, and tail lights to make sure drivers could see us.  We headed down each side street, admiring the Christmas lights as we ran; and if we saw something extra pretty or unique, we snapped a picture.


A few times we posed for a group picture.  That would be me on the left who forgot to turn my headlamp off!


A little farther along, we saw another particularly beautifully decorated house.  I suggested that we take a picture standing on the sidewalk, not on the lawn, but was overruled.  Unfortunately, the decorations are blocked by runners, but trust me, they were cute!  Luckily we weren’t arrested for trespassing, and were free to continue our run.


As we neared the end of our run, we saw Santa waving us over, so we decided to oblige him, and take some pictures.


Erin gave him a high-five…


And then Santa got a little too friendly with us when we posed with him for this picture.   Where is his right hand anyway?


Before we returned to our cars we passed Santa on a motorcycle.  Had I seen him earlier in my run, I might have hitched a ride!


We completed our 4.5-mile run maintaining just under a 10:00 pace, stopping our watches often for pictures.

If you’ve never gone on an evening run to admire your neighborhood Christmas lights, I highly recommend that you do.  Be sure to take all the safety precautions you can, and make sure you’re lit up as much as the Christmas lights before you head out.  Have fun!


  • Questions:
  • Do you put up Christmas or Hanukkah lights in your yard?
  • Do you prefer morning or evening runs?
  • Do you and your family go to any of the huge Christmas light tours?

Year of Running 2014

For several years, Amanda over at Miss Zippy has encouraged her readers to linkup with her and share their “year in running” recaps.  I participated in 2013, and I’m back again for 2014.


2014 was a huge (eleven races), and really good racing year for me.  It all just clicked.  Of course, the fact that I decided to dedicate all of my races to my dad, and actually trained hard for the first time in several years didn’t hurt.  Finding a new group of speedy running friends with similar goals who pushed me, didn’t hurt either!

Best Race Experience…

Without a doubt, participating in Ragnar DC was my best race experience of 2014.  Pushing myself through exhaustion along with my husband and ten other teammates to cover 200 miles in less than 31 hours was pure satisfaction!


Best Run…

In early November, Bill and I stopped for a trail run up to Mcafee Knob on our way to Blacksburg for a Virginia Tech football game the following day.  After about 4.25 miles of climbing, we were treated to gorgeous views of the Roanoke Valley, and snapped our picture on the iconic Mcafee Knob rock that juts out into open air.


Best New Piece Of Gear…

For my birthday I got a Garmin watch, and a GoPro camera.  Both top the list of favorite new pieces of running gear.  I’m loving the ease of tracking my miles with my Garmin versus using my RunKeeper app on my phone tucked away in a pocket.  I’m just now starting to learn how to use the GoPro, so stay tuned for even more pictures on my blog!


Best Piece Of Running Advice…

I was overloaded with running advice after completing a 3-D Gait Analysis at George Mason University’s Smart Lab.  The grad school staff analyzed my results, and prescribed exercises and stretches to keep me in top running form.  Most of the exercises and stretches suggested were to increase my core strength, the mobility and stability of my knees and hips, and overall balance.

Most Inspirational Runner…

Last year, Laura from Write The Happy Ending ran the Thunder Road Half Marathon blind-folded to honor her sister Taylor who suffers from Batten Disease, a fatal disease with no known cure. This year while working toward her goal of running a race in every state for Taylor, Laura returned to run Thunder Road again, only this time untethered for the last 1.25 miles.  Not only did Laura successfully complete the race, but she and her guide PR’ed with a time of 1:44:37.  There are a lot of other very talented runners out there, but Laura’s love for her sister, and determination to help find a cure for Batten Disease while bringing it to the forefront through her running, inspires me.

Briefly Summing It All Up…

Hard work pays off, and I ended 2014 with five first place age group wins, one second place, two third places, a half marathon PR, and a 20K PR.  More importantly than the PR’s and bling, was finding a whole new group of friends who don’t mind running super-duper early in the morning!


  • Questions:
  • How would you grade your year in running?
  • If you’re a runner, what was your favorite run or race?
  • If you’re a blogger, consider linking up to Miss Zippy with your own 2014 recap!

Cruisers Christmas Celebration, And A BAMR Bands Winner!

Last night the Cruisers had their annual Christmas party.  Each Cruiser who wants to participate in the gift exchange brings a wrapped gift.  I stopped by Potomac River Running on Wednesday and picked up two mugs and two Christmas ornaments for Bill and me to give away.  I paired them like you see below, and secretly hoped I’d win the “I Love Running” mug, because one can never have too much running stuff!



In the past we’ve always gone to Nagoya Japanese Steakhouse for dinner first, and then returned to Bill’s and my house for dessert and gift exchange.  We added a new stop this year for added fun, though!  We congregated at Joe and Suzanne’s house first for appetizers and drinks.  I was so blown away by the delicious assortment of food that I failed to take a picture, but trust me, it was amazing!  Oh, and did I mention that they served chocolate martinis?

With so many holiday commitments, we had Cruisers coming and going for different parts of the evening.  Beth was able to join us for appetizers, but couldn’t stay for dinner.  Amanda joined us for dinner, but couldn’t stay for dessert.  Jerome…  You get the point.  It was so fun seeing everyone, and we really missed our friends that couldn’t attend.


Amanda, Shawn, and Alan


Bill and Deb

Half of the fun of going to a Japanese steakhouse is watching the food being prepared…


The other half is enjoying the delicious food!  And catching the shrimp that the chef tosses toward your mouth!


After dinner, we headed to our house for desserts and after dinner drinks, but we were so full that hardly anything was touched.

The gift exchange was loads of fun, and I ended up being able to steal the “I Love Running” mug and ornament from Shawn, and was lucky enough not to have it stolen back from me!  Expect to see a picture of it filled with hot chocolate the next time it snows!


Keri was the winner of the two BAMR Bands headbands in my giveaway last week!  I have contacted her, and look forward to her feedback on these cute and functional hair accessories!  Thank you again, Katie, for donating two of your adorable headbands to my giveaway.

Don’t forget that you can get a 10% discount through the end of the year by using coupon code DebRuns when you checkout!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • Questions:
  • Have you attended any holiday parties so far this season?
  • Do you like lobster? ~ I actually prefer shrimp, crab, and scallops over lobster.
  • Who raced this weekend?

My Favorite Winter Activities

It’s time for Friday Five linkup with DC area bloggers Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!, and Mar at Mar on the Run!  Be sure to stop by their blogs and say hello!

The DC Trifecta chose Favorite Winter Activities to be this week’s Friday Five theme.  Of course, I equate winter to snow, and only mention snowy day activities in my post…



1.  Running – I love running in freshly fallen snow…  It’s like running on a cloud.  It’s rare that we get that perfect snow to run on, but when we do, you can bet that I will be slipping on my trail shoes (and Yaktrax when necessary), and hitting my favorite trails!


2.  Taking Pictures – After a fresh snowfall, Bill and I enjoy heading out for a hike or run, taking pictures along the way.  I took this picture behind our house as we headed out for a run one morning.

3.  Reading – Whether it’s curled up on the sofa with a book or my laptop, there’s nothing like reading while keeping one eye on the gently falling snow outside.

4.  Shoveling Snow – Please don’t hate me, and please don’t ask me to shovel your driveway….  I look at shoveling snow as a good workout.  I enjoy shoveling the light fluffy snow, but not the heavy wet stuff we usually get on the east coast.  If it takes me longer than 20 minutes, it’s no longer fun.


5.  Drinking Hot Chocolate – After a good workout shoveling snow, there’s nothing more rewarding than a cup of hot chocolate… with whipped cream, of course!

Bonus:  Skiing – I haven’t skied in years, but when the boys were younger, we took them on a winter skiing vacation every year.  We taught them to ski (Alpine) when they were three or four years old. I first learned to ski (Nordic) when Bill and I were first married and lived in Utah.  We’d head up into Logan Canyon on the weekends and ski into the back-country.  That’s Bear Lake in Idaho in the background.



Don’t forget to enter my BAMR Bands giveaway by following the directions below, and if you’d like to order headbands for yourself or as a Christmas gift, use coupon code DebRuns for a 10% discount (until the end of 2014)!

Rules to enter my BAMR Bands giveaway:

  1. You are allowed to enter every day during this period.  The more times and ways you enter, the greater your chances of winning.
  2. Shipping is available only in the continental United States.
  3. Winners will be selected by Rafflecopter at midnight on Saturday, December 13, and announced by Monday, December 15.
  4. Once the winner is announced, that person will have until Wednesday, December 17 to claim the prize.  If the winner fails to claim their prize, another winner will be chosen.
  5. Relatives of Deb Runs are not eligible to win.

To enter for a chance to win two BAMR Bands,
please use the Rafflecopter link below.


a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclaimer:  I was given two free headbands to review as part of the giveaway.  All opinions of BAMR Bands are my own.


  • Questions:
  • What are your favorite winter activities?
  • Have you tried cross-country skiing?
  • Who is racing this weekend?


2014 Run With Santa 5K Race Recap

Last year I ran my first Run With Santa 5K in softly falling snow, and couldn’t have been happier!  Just before the race started, snow started falling and it snowed throughout the entire race.  It was glorious, and I dreamed of a repeat this year.  The day before this year’s race brought pouring rain to our area, and I was so thrilled when the rain stopped and the sun shone brightly over the runners, that I forgot all about snow.

My MRTT running bestie, Erin, was kind enough to pick up my race packet while I was driving 325 miles across the great Commonwealth of Virginia.  When I stopped by her house to pick up my packet, we had a good laugh over the color of the shirt, and decided it was the “ugly sweater” of race shirts.  Later that evening I texted her, and asked if it was so bad that the color was really growing on me!


Each =PR= Race Series race has a commemorative pin to go along with the race.  They’re cute and I attach them to my running bag.  If you notice in the picture above, we also got a race medal with our packet.  Last year the medal didn’t have a ribbon attached, so I tied a pretty red and green ribbon on it and hung it on our Christmas tree.

Sunday morning bright and early, Erin picked me up at my house and drove us to the race.  Our friendship came full circle with this race.  Last year after the race, Potomac River Running shared my race recap on their Facebook page.  Erin, who had just run the race, saw it and started following my blog – we had never met.  In March she saw my posts about running with my local Moms RUN This Town (MRTT) chapter, and decided to look into joining her local MRTT group.  As fate would have it, we were in the same chapter!  Since we have similar paces, we became great friends, and have run several hundred miles together since!  I can’t even begin to tell you how happy sharing this story makes me!


Erin converted Target slippers into running spats!

Once we arrived at Reston Town Center, Erin and I went out for a one-mile warm-up run… to keep from freezing.  The temperature was 34°, but with the wind chill it felt like 22°.  I perform much better when I get about a mile under my belt just before a 5K, but this time, I knew that if we stood around too long waiting for the race to start, we would freeze.  After our run, we meet our fellow MRTT friends for a quick photo, and then we were off!


I left my friends, and made my way to near the front of the race to secure a place where I wouldn’t have to dodge too many children and walkers at the beginning of the race.  Many =PR= Races are family oriented, and they don’t have pace signs for those races.  I’ve learned to self-seed myself near the front of the race pack to make the first quarter mile of the race easier.  Please don’t get me wrong; I love seeing children running races with their parents.  It’s just that it’s frustrating getting behind someone that’s running along, and suddenly stops or darts sideways directly in your path.


With about 2,000 racers, the sea of runners spanned back to the office buildings, and I was satisfied with my place in the pack.


After mentioning a few of the frustrations of running races with lots of children, I want to share some of the joys. I ran along side a father and his son that couldn’t have been more than ten years old.  After about 1.5 miles, the father told his son that he could pull ahead and run his own race.  The little boy took off, and I didn’t see him again!  I caught up with a few other very young children as I approached the finish line, all holding their own, and running much faster and farther than I could have dreamed of at their age!

Since this was a course that I have run several times (and really enjoy), I decided to see how I could do compared to previous races.  I haven’t been doing tempo runs lately, but my training runs have been quality runs for the most part.

  • 2013 Firecracker 5K – 25:58 (8:23 pace) 7th place age group
  • 2013 Run With Santa 5K – 27:35 (8:54 pace) 7th place age group
  • 2014 Firecracker 5K – 24:19 (7:50 pace) 3rd place age group
  • 2014 Run With Santa 5K – 25:18 (8:10 pace) 3rd place age group

My Garmin showed a total distance 3.16 miles and an 8:01 pace.  My split paces were:

  • Mile 1 – 7:59
  • Mile 2 – 8:02
  • Mile 3 – 8:10
  • Last .16 mile – 7:06


After the race, Cindy came up to me, introduced herself, and said hello.  She mentioned that she remembered running next to me during the Run Your Heart Out 5K back in February, and that PRR had gotten a picture of us near the finish.  After talking for just a couple of seconds I remembered her, and I asked her if she had been wearing deely-boppers during the race.  Yes, that was her, and as soon as I got home I went back to my race recap and found her in two of our pictures, once with Bill, and once with me.  If you scroll up, you’ll see her in my finish line photo for this race as well!

Erin and I reunited with our MRTT friends, and compared race notes.  We had lots of goals met, and a few PR’s.  Overall, it was a very good day for our chapter!


While hanging out, we saw this Christmas jester, and asked him for a photo.  He readily agreed as long as the ladies posed with him!


And then Erin and I found another tutu wearing jester, and of course we couldn’t control ourselves…  A picture was absolutely mandatory, and our new friend obliged!

Just as we were heading back to the car to get our coats, we stopped these beautifully dressed ladies and asked for a picture for my blog.  Christin (on the right) recognized us from pictures we post to our MRTT Facebook page.  She’s also a member of our chapter, but with 405 members, we hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting her yet.


One of the things I love about the =PR= Races at Reston Town Center is the children’s fun runs just before the awards ceremony.  This time, it was fun to see Santa racing with the youngsters!

My third place age group finish earned me a gift certificate to Potomac River Running Store!

And as soon as the award ceremony was over, Erin treated me to a hot chocolate – skimmed milk with whipped cream…  Just the way I like it!


Back home after the race, Bill asked me if I’d had a fun time.  I think he already knew the answer, because I was still beaming from ear-to-ear, and chattering away about the morning’s events.  I truly love running in =PR= Races because they always do such a great job.  Their races are well organized, well attended, and they allow you to download your race pictures for free!


  • Questions:
  • Have you run in a Christmas themed race?
  • Do you like running on repeat courses?
  • How do you like your hot chocolate?

BAMR Bands Review And Giveaway

I’ve recently become a huge fan of BAMR Bands.  There are so many fun and pretty designs and colors to choose from, and they don’t slip like other headbands.  My MRTT friends turned me on to these cool headbands during the summer when they showed up for our runs all color-coordinated, and I showed up with hair clips holding my ponytail in place.  I was oblivious to headband companies, but then things started falling into place…

I can’t remember exactly when I met Katie, the founder of BAMR Bands, but I do remember that it was online, and before I had the pleasure of meeting her in person at one of our MRTT runs.  Perhaps I found her blog, Healthy Heddleston, first; or maybe it was on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter…  Whatever the case, I noticed her because of her fun online presence, not necessarily because of her headbands.

You see, I was never much of a headband wearer for several reasons.  When wearing a headband, I occasionally got headband headaches, and I’ve lost more than one when it popped off the back of my head like a rubber band being shot by a naughty school boy.  I gave up on wearing those cute little bands of color in my hair almost as quickly as they became popular, and didn’t give it another thought.

And then I met Katie – in person.  After our initial meeting in June, I didn’t see her again until our MRTT Fall Open House.  She had her BAMR Bands for sale, and I watched as several friends purchased new headbands to match their running outfits, and wondered if these just might stay on my head like my running friends insisted they would.  But being a skeptic, I assumed they weren’t any different that the others I’d tried, and chose to continue using clips to help keep my hair back in it’s ponytail.


Kim and Katie

Even though I was a skeptic, I’m no dummy, and since so many of my running friends love BAMR Bands, I knew my readers would, too! I reached out to Katie to see if she would donate a couple of headbands for me to give away on my blog.  She readily agreed, and even offered to give me two to try out for myself.

Katie and I met at a playground a few weeks later to talk about how she started BAMR Bands, and even went for a little walk on the nearby W&OD Trail.  As an added bonus, I got to meet her two little cutie-pie sons!


During our walk, I asked Katie lots of questions, took copious notes, and then couldn’t read my writing when trying to write up this post.  Katie was kind enough to answer my questions again when I sent them to her via email…

Deb:  When did you start BAMR Bands?
Katie:  In January 2013.

Deb:  How did you decide to start a headband business?
Katie:  Well, I had always been a headband lover, so when I became a ZOOMA Run race ambassador for Annapolis in 2013 and saw their charity program, I immediately knew how I would raise money: make my own headbands, sell them, and donate a % of proceeds from each headband to the charitable race program.

Deb:  That’s really cool.  Do you still have a charitable aspect to your company?
Katie:  Yes, I do!  The same organization that ZOOMA had partnered with in 2013, Every Mother Counts, is still the company  BAMR Bands donated to.  One dollar from every headband sold goes directly to EMC.

Deb:  How did you pick the name BAMR Bands?
Katie:  My husband actually came up with it! We were going for a drive and just talking about how I wanted to continue making headbands past my fundraisers and BAM! The name hit him. (Hi John! Thanks babe!) Later I came to find out that BAMR was already a runner term that some people at heard of!

Deb:  Where did you learn to sew?
Katie:  My mom taught me. I grew up watching her sew as a kid, so it was only natural for me to want to learn from her.

Deb:  How did you perfect BAMR Bands design to keep it from slipping?
Katie:  Since I was already a headband lover, I had my own arsenal of brands to try out, making it easy for me to realize what worked and didn’t work. I knew a velvet backing to the headbands was a must for BAMR Bands and tweaked the sizing for universal fit.

Deb:  With two little boys, how do you find time to make the headbands?
Katie:  I sew when they are napping, and use an assembly line process to be as efficient as possible. I also do “powers hour” on the weekend when my husband is home to have boy time and I have work time.

Deb:  How do you get team names written on the ribbon?
Katie:  I mock up the design or use a logo provided to me, and send it to my printer lady :) It is a heat transfer process and she is awesome. Getting my own press to make my own designs on ribbon would be something to consider down the road, but for now, having this help makes the process more streamlined.

Deb:  What else makes BAMR Bands stand out from other headband brands?
Katie:  I use matching colored thread to make the headbands look more finished (many brands use a clear elastic thread that is more prone to breaking than the material of my thread). I also make sure the ribbon I select is a high quality grosgrain. If you know anything about ribbon, you KNOW there are quality differences haha.

Deb:  What groups have you designed headbands for?
Katie:  Cross country teams, MRTT chapters (including a chapter in Japan!) Skechers, Sweat Pink ambassadors, and Jamberry consultants. I even get small businesses that just want a few headbands with their logos for their employees. Those are fun to make, too.

Deb:  Do you have many individual customers?
Katie:  Yes, definitely! They’re the heart of my business! The last half of 2014 is when my group ordering really began to take off, so I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for all the individual customers who place orders… And repeat orders!

Deb:  What else would you like to tell me about BAMR Bands?
Katie:  I will be launching (think: expansion) something new in the first quarter of 2015!! Be sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook to stay up to date!!  I appreciate you taking the time to interview me Debbie!

Readers:  And what do you think of your BAMR Bands now that you’ve had a chance to try them?
Deb:  I love them!  They fit firmly, yet don’t give me a headache.  I’ve had no slippage, and they look great!  I can’t wait until the spring when I can ditch my ear-warmer headbands and start color-coordinating headbands to my outfits!

Here are just a few samples of BAMR Bands that Katie sells, or has sold in the past.  For a complete selection, be sure to check out her website!



Thank you, Katie, for sharing a little bit about your home-based business with my readers, and for your generous donation!

You can enter the BAMR Bands giveaway by following the directions below, and if you’d like to order headbands for yourself or as a Christmas gift, use coupon code DebRuns for a 10% discount (until the end of 2014)!

Rules to enter my BAMR Bands giveaway:

  1. You are allowed to enter every day during this period.  The more times and ways you enter, the greater your chances of winning.
  2. Shipping is available only in the continental United States.
  3. Winners will be selected by Rafflecopter at midnight on Saturday, December 13, and announced by Monday, December 15.
  4. Once the winner is announced, that person will have until Wednesday, December 17 to claim the prize.  If the winner fails to claim their prize, another winner will be chosen.
  5. Relatives of Deb Runs are not eligible to win.

To enter for a chance to win two BAMR Bands,
please use the Rafflecopter link below.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer:  I was given two free headbands to review as part of the giveaway.  All opinions of BAMR Bands are my own.

  • Questions:
  • What do you look for most in a headband?
  • Have you tried BAMR Bands?  If so, what is your favorite feature?
  • Who raced this past weekend?


Favorite Vintage Christmas Decorations

It’s time for Friday Five linkup with DC area bloggers Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!, and Mar at Mar on the Run!  Be sure to stop by their blogs and say hello!

The DC Trifecta chose Friday Favorites to be this week’s Friday Five theme…  Basically that means we can pick five of any of our favorite things to share with our readers.  The timing couldn’t have been better, because I’m spending the week with my mom helping her decorate and shop for Christmas.  As soon as I saw the prompt, I thought, “vintage decorations!”

When you’re as old as I am, the Christmas decorations you had as a child can be considered vintage!  I wandered through my parents’ freshly decorated house, picking out my favorite childhood decorations.  I hope you enjoy seeing the pictures, and learning about the story behind these “special to me” Christmas decorations…


1.  These four candles go back as far as I can remember, and I always remember them being on display in the kitchen window.  I distinctly remember the first year Mom put snow under the candles.  I thought I’d died, and gone to heaven!


2.  When I was little, my papaw occasionally spoiled me with cute little gifts when he went to town.  One year when I was about four, he brought home this little elf.  His legs have been broken off  and glued back on many times, once by my first grade teacher when she dropped him during show-and-tell.  Many shades of red nail polish have been used over the years to cover up those break lines, and that just adds to his whimsical character.  What exactly he’s doing with his right hand – I’ll leave that up to your imagination.


3.  Our family always went into town to shop, and look at the lights on Main Street one evening before Christmas.  One particular year, Mom and Dad bought Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, the lamb, and the donkey.  There were made in Italy, and were 19 cents each.  I know this because each of these figurines has 19¢ written on the bottom in pencil.  We bought the angel, shepherds, wise men, and camel a few years later when we found them for sale again at the local five-and-ten cent store (either Roses or Ben Franklin).  Years later, but still 27 years ago, I bought the manger to add to my parents’ nativity display.


4.  When I was about seven, a little neighbor got very sick with Rheumatic Fever, and had to be taught at home for several months.  In addition to teaching her third graders in the classroom, my mom taught the little girl for several hours each week.  That Christmas, her family gave my mom a gift to show their appreciation.  I have absolutely no recollection of what was in the gift, but I will always remember that these little faded blue elves were attached to the bow on the package.  They were the cutest things I’d ever seen.  We attached them to our Christmas tree that year, and they’ve held a place of honor, front and center, ever since.  They’re faded and stretched, but still are magical in my eyes.

5.  When I was in fifth grade, the high schoolers on my bus were selling various items to raise money for their senior trip.  As soon as I saw this beautiful candle, I knew I had to buy it for my mom for Christmas. I had saved my allowance for something special, and this was it.  Mom still puts it out every year, and it still makes me proud to remember that I spent my hard earned allowance on something she still cherishes.

I hope you enjoyed your walk down my Christmas memory lane; and next time you’re at your parents’ or grandparents’ house, stop and reminisce as you look at their special decorations!


  • Questions:
  • Do you have a special holiday decoration from when you were a child that you cherish?
  • Did your parents save your hand made decorations?
  • Who is racing this weekend? ~ I’m running in the Run With Santa 5K



2014 Ashburn Farm Thanksgiving Day 5K Race Recap

I have a tradition of running several miles in the early hours of Thanksgiving morning before running in the Ashburn Farm Thanksgiving Day 5K; however, this year Mother Nature had other plans.  It snowed most of the day on Wednesday, and even though the main roads were fine, the side roads and trails were still wet when I went to bed.  With the risk of encountering black ice on an early morning run in the dark, I decided to skip my pre-race run.  I had planned ahead, and anticipating the foul weather, I ran six miles the day before in the pouring rain.  Normally, I would take the day off before a race to rest my legs.

If you remember back to last year, our family has slowly been adding costumes to our entourage.  In 2012, Julie’s brother David wore a turkey costume for the first time.  Then in 2013, Julie wore the turkey costume, and our son Daniel wore a pilgrim costume.  Not ones to miss out on fun, I decided to wear a pilgrim costume in this year’s race, and Julie and her sister Meredith wore Indian headbands and feathers.

Packet pick-up was a breeze because I’ve started going right at 2 PM on Wednesday right when it starts, so I can beat the post-work crowds.  Packet pick-up is held in the main hall at Crossroads Methodist Church, the race’s founder.  Race proceeds go to support education for children in Uganda.

Join Crossroads UMC and the Ashburn community for the 21st Annual Ashburn Farm Thanksgiving Day Race. In this annual fundraising event, hundreds of people have gathered for a time of fun, fellowship, and a good cause. All proceeds from this race support needy and vulnerable children in Uganda Africa. Crossroad UMC’s mission in Uganda has fully funded 51 elementary children, 68 secondary and 6 vocational students with needed school tuition, uniforms and casual clothes, all school supplies and transportation plus medical care.

The shirts this year were long sleeved cotton as they have been in past years.  Each year I hope for technical fabric, but so far, no luck.  Perhaps some day!

Before the race, Julie’s family gathered at our house (the staging area) to get dressed for the race, and take pre-race photos.  Once photos were complete, we headed to the church so Ellie could register for the race.


My first order of business once we got to the starting line was to get a picture with my MRTT buddies.  Even though Bill was officially on our MRTT team (the race required at least one participant of the opposite sex per team), the turkey and pilgrim were chosen to join in on the team photo instead of Bill.  He did get the honors of taking our picture, though!

Since I was running in the 5K, I was able to take pictures of the 10K racers before their start.  Front and center are four of our runners who rocked the race.  It was Kelley’s (in blue shirt) first ever 10K, and she totally owned it with a 49:00 (7:53 pace) official time.


As soon as the 10K runners took off, I ran about a half mile to warm up (and to go to the church’s restroom – of course), and got back to the starting line with about five minutes to spare before the 5K started. I joined our group for a few pictures Bill took with our new GoPro, and then headed closer to the starting line since I planned to push myself.  Up front I found Joseph, and my Cruiser friend Alan.


Bill had some fun snapping pictures of the very concerned turkey posing with the pilgrim (it was Thanksgiving after all).

Just before the race started, Bill snapped this picture looking toward the starting line as final instructions were being given by Leslie, the race director.


And he got this picture of the runners behind him just after the race started.


While running along, Bill, the turkey, pilgrim, and Indians were passed by our friend Katie and her daughter.  After the race, Janet (Julie’s mom) told me that she’d just heard a woman say that she had beaten Bill.  I went back inside to see our friend Katie bragging to her husband about beating Bill!  Katie and I go way back – We used to work together at The Health Club of Reston, and we rode together to our first marathon!  Congrats, Katie!


Not concerned about being passed by a second grader, Bill continued running with, and filming his entourage.   I love this picture he got of David and Julie, brother and sister, running together on Thanksgiving morning.


I crossed the finish line with an official time of 24:23 (7:51 pace), and won my age group.  I didn’t realize I’d won until my BRF Susan texted me later that morning to tell me.

Once I finished, I walked over to the church to grab a water bottle and saw Joseph who had finished in 19:53 (6:24 pace) and placed second in his age group.  I returned to the race to watch for the rest of our group to finish, and snapped these pictures as they crossed the finish line.


Bill carried the GoPro on a hand held stick and shot a lot of footage over his shoulder behind him.  You can’t see the GoPro in this picture, but you can see that he’s holding it in his right hand.


Looks like the pilgrim finally got the turkey!


Susan ran in the 10K, so I didn’t get to see her except for just before the race, and after she finished.  I was thrilled that she was not embarrassed to be seen with me, and even suggested we get a picture together!

As I mentioned earlier, Susan was the one to tell me that I’d won my age group.  She stayed for the awards ceremony, and was kind enough to pick up Joseph’s and my medals and drop them off to us on Friday evening.


  • Questions:
  • Have you ever run in costume? ~ It was my first time!
  • Have you set any fitness goals for 2015?
  • Did you run in a turkey trot this year?

Hyper-Focusing, Not Multitasking (November 24 – 30)

If cooking counted as a workout, I would have been an over achiever last week!  But, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a good multitasker, and always let other things go when I’m hyper-focusing on something.  I know – not a good trait to have…

I had a busy work day on Monday with lots of clients who wanted to get their workouts in before the long holiday weekend, and I managed to get a really good strength training session of my own in between clients.  Boom – great start to my week!

No one from my running group was able to meet me on Tuesday morning, so I headed out by myself and decided to push it on the loop that I’ve been running for years.  I ran 6.38 miles at a 8:50 pace.  While running, I mentally planned my hour-by-hour schedule for the next few days.


As I mentioned in my race recap, I met my MRTT friends on Wednesday morning for 6.05 miles in the pouring rain.  We ran at a 9:33 pace, and when we finished, we were so soggy that we hopped in our cars, and took off for home.  We didn’t want to ruin our phones by getting them wet while taking a picture, soooooooo……… since there’s not picture, did we really meet for a run?

After my run, I only had one client to train, before starting my marathon cooking day.

Following our family tradition, I ran in the Ashburn Farm Thanksgiving Day 5K on Thursday morning.  This year I decided to race the course just to see how I could do, despite the fact that I was wearing a pilgrim costume!  My official race results were 24:23 (7:51 pace), and won my age group.  My Garmin makes it appear like I pulled a Rosie Ruiz!


Rest, unless you count the millions of trips I made up and down the stairs carrying boxes of Christmas decorations as exercise...

I didn’t get to bed until after midnight after watching Friday evening’s Virginia Tech football game against our instate rival UVA in the Commonwealth Cup.  Despite just over 5 hours of sleep, I couldn’t wait to get up and run with my buddies.  We ran 8.04 miles at a 9:20 pace; and when I got home, I started my marathon Christmas decorating day.


Rest, and continued Christmas decorating

Total weekly workouts:
Running – 23.57 miles
Lifting – 1 hours


  • Questions:
  • Were you able to keep up your workouts over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend?
  • Did you travel or stay home?
  • Who raced on Thursday or over the weekend?


t’s time for Friday Five linkup with DC area bloggers Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!, and Mar at Mar on the Run!  Be sure to stop by their blogs and say hello!

During this busy Thanksgiving week that jumps right into the busiest and most festive time of the year, the DC Trifecta chose Gratitude to be this week’s Friday Five theme…


I am abundantly blessed, and so very thankful for so many things, but in accordance with the rules, I will limit it to five things for which I am grateful.


1.  My family is so very important to me.  My parents taught me the importance of a loving family; and I am thankful to have found a husband with similar values who has created a happy, loving, and fun family with me.

2.  I am very grateful for my health.  In the grand scheme of things, I am a very healthy person, and don’t take my health for granted.

3.  I love my country, and I am so very grateful to our military for their role in protecting our country, and giving us the freedoms that we enjoy.

4.  I have the best friends, and I’m so appreciative of every single one of them.  Some are fun-loving and carefree, some are serious, some are runners, and some are not; but they all enrich my life in a way no other person could, and for each, I am grateful.

5.  I am very thankful for my passion for living.  I wake up happy, and I go to bed happy.  Life is good, and I want to enjoy every single moment I’m gifted with living on this magnificent earth.


  • Questions:
  • If you could thank one person for making the biggest impact on your life, who would it be?
  • Which of my areas of gratitude do you share?
  • Who raced yesterday or is racing this weekend?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a blessed Thanksgiving, my friends!

While running in our local turkey trot this morning dressed as a pilgrim (yes, dressed as a pilgrim), celebrating post-race by hosting our annual champagne breakfast for the Cruisers, and then busily putting the finishing touches on the food for our Thanksgiving dinner, I am ever thankful for my many blessings…

  • Questions:
  • What are you thankful for?
  • What’s your favorite Thanksgiving memory?
  • How are celebrating Thanksgiving today?

Let’s Try This Again: Ten Quick Thanksgiving Questions

Let’s try this again!  If you get email notifications of my blog posts, you either saw the imcomplete version of the post below, or something like, “Gnarly Dude, that’s a 404!”  I started this post last December and dated it for this November.  I thought I had it scheduled to run on Wednesday, but it wasn’t until Bill saw it yesterday morning that I realized I had goofed.  I pulled the post down quickly until I had a chance to actually answer the questions!

Last Thanksgiving I saw this on Runs With Holly, but not until mid-December…  She played along after seeing it on Shut Up + Run and thought it was a cute idea.

1. How old do you have to be to move up from the kids’ table?  95

2. Stuff the turkey or cook stuffing separately? (aka salmonella or not?)  My mom didn’t stuff the turkey, so I don’t stuff the turkey.  Isn’t that the way it usually works?

3. Who sits at the head of the table?  My hubby does since he’s clearly the head of our house and I jump to his every command, and bow to his every wish.  HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa!

4. Pumpkin, pecan, or apple pie?  I love pecan, but it’s so rich that I can only eat a bite or two.  I’ll eat pumpkin if there’s enough ice cream or whipped cream to cover up the pumpkin flavor, so apple it is!

5. What the hell is mince meat?  I think it’s chopped up nuts, fruits, and mice.  Oh wait, it’s mince meat, not mice meat?  I guess I should Google it.

6. Is it okay to play Christmas music on Thanksgiving?  No!  Football games and family arguments should be the only background noise during dinner.

7. In five words or less, worst Thanksgiving memory?  Sandy’s liquid mashed potatoes.

8. Speaking of leftovers. Who gets dibs on them?  It depends on whether or not the hostess likes said leftover!

9. Worst Thanksgiving food?  Green bean casserole; however, that particular dish is banned from my house.  My grandmother, who was an amazing cook, always served green bean casserole at Thanksgiving; and if I remember correctly, I loved it back then!

10. Best Thanksgiving quick joke?  The first year I bought a turkey, I was horrified to find a bag of disgusting turkey parts inside the bird.  I called Bill’s mom to see what to do with them, and she said she cooked them in the gravy, but that she threw the neck away.  I asked, “What neck?” and she told me to look in the other end!  I promptly threw all of the “turkey’s accessories” in the trash, and have done that with every turkey I’ve ever prepared. 


Your turn!  Answer any/all in the comments, or copy & paste onto your own blog.

  • Additional Questions:
  • Did you fall victim of yesterday’s premature-post debacle?
  • What are your Thanksgiving plans?  Are you hosting or traveling?
  • Is anyone running in a Thanksgiving morning Turkey Trot?

Patient Running Friends And Porta Potties (November 17 – 23)

My last week before the craziness of the six-week long holiday season was pretty good – training wise.  We’ll see how focused I can stay as the weeks get busier and busier…


Tuesday was one of those days were I was very thankful to have a very patient person running with me.  Little did I realize at the time, but I had a 24-hour stomach bug that reared it’s ugly head during my run.  About a mile into my run, I realized I’d better find a bush or a porta potty immediately!  Luckily for me, at that very moment we were running past a nature center that I knew had a porta potty on the grounds.  Kelley was kind enough to wait for me while I stopped then, and another time later in our run.  We finished our run after 6.25 miles at a 9:44 pace.  For the rest of the day I had a very upset stomach.


Photo taken after the run

Lifted, but skipped my run due to lingering stomach issues…

On Thursday morning I celebrated Hug A Runner Day with my MRTT peeps after running 5 miles at a 9:27 pace.  The trail parking lot is right across from a little country furniture store, and provided the perfect backdrop for our picture!


On Friday I lifted, then enjoyed a few lemon drop martinis with my MRTT girls later in the evening.  We had a little reunion of our Tempo Tuesday and Thursday Hill group, AND celebrated Kathy’s and my birthdays.  We hardly recognized each other without our ponytails, and I love that we all traded our running shoes in for boots!  I’m not, however, loving the boot that Kathy is wearing on her right foot.  She’s been side-lined from our runs due to a stress fracture, and we can’t wait for her to get back out on the trail with us!


Our Saturday morning group run started out at 18° but we’re tough, and didn’t let it stop us from getting 8.75 miles in at a 9:10 pace.  I was also running my RunKeeper app, and I was glad that I had it as a backup since I couldn’t get my Garmin to find a signal for .24 miles into my run!  I had my RunKeeper on since I’m running both GPS’s for a few weeks while gathering information to compare for a future post.


Shortly after getting home, I went out for a run/walk with a client for 2.4 miles at a 16:54 pace.  Note to self:  Change out of your sweaty running clothes as soon as you get home, or you’ll freeze when you go back out into the extreme cold (especially during your walk breaks).

I just love my recovery runs on Sunday mornings with my BRF.  Yesterday we ran 6.2 miles at a 10:04 pace.  I always like tacking that .2 onto the end to get a read on my 10K pace.

Total weekly workouts:
Running – 26.2 miles
Run/walking – 2.42 miles
Lifting – 3 hours


  • Questions:
  • How was your training week?
  • What did you do over the weekend?
  • Who raced this weekend?  Give me details!

My Biggest Running Fans

I’m linking up again this month with Amanda at The Lady Okie and Becka at Sunshine To The Square Inch for their Runner’s Tell All monthly linkup.  Be sure to pop over to their blogs to see what they are up to, and to see who else is linking up.

This month, Amanda and Becka’s cue was…

Who is Your #1 Running Fan?It’s not as much fun if there isn’t someone waiting for us at the finish line. This post is a nod to the family and friends who get up early to chase us around the city, make signs, and cheer us on to the finish. Who is YOUR #1 fan?



When I saw the prompt Who is Your #1 Running Fan?, I immediately thought of two people; and then I thought of a few more…

My dad was always such a big fan, and supporter.  Even though he didn’t make it to watch any of my marathons, he was so proud of me.  I’d call him after every single race, and tell him all about it.  He told everyone that his daughter was a runner, and had run the Boston Marathon.  After I ran my first Boston, and got a jacket, Dad took this picture of me – from the back of course, so that he could see the race logo.


My husband has always been a huge fan, too.  He brought Daniel (Joseph had a soccer game), and his mom to my very first marathon to cheer me on from a couple for different spots.  Bill was such a big supporter that he even joined me for training runs of up to 16 miles, before he started running marathons with me!  Now that’s dedication and support!


2000 Marathon in the Parks

Now that Joseph and Daniel have grown up, they always check in to see how my races go, and have even joined me for a few races.  It’s so fun toeing the starting line with a supportive family!

And of course, the best part of being a member of a running group is the support that we give each other.  I’m fortunate to be a part of two running groups, the Cruisers and Moms Run This Town (MRTT).  Being there for each other, pushing each other during training runs, traveling together to races, and cheering each other on at the finish line is so very rewarding.  In addition to having many fans in my running groups, I hope they realize I’m a huge fan of theirs!


  • Questions:
  • Who’s your biggest running fan?
  • Who do you support as a runner?
  • Who’s racing this weekend?

Favorite Fall Foods – But Not Necessarily Healthy

It’s time for Friday Five linkup with DC area bloggers Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!, and Mar at Mar on the Run!  Be sure to stop by their blogs and say hello!



Thanksgiving is less than a week away, and quite appropriately, this week’s Friday Five theme is Favorite Fall Foods… 

Thanksgiving is without a doubt my favorite holiday, and I love roasting the perfect turkey, and making all of the traditional side dishes.  But I don’t love the food…  During dinner, I eat a token piece of turkey, a tiny bit of sweet potato casserole, dressing, a dinner roll, gravy, and a huge salad…  Of course, I go into dinner a bit stuffed from nibbling on our antipasto platter!

Since today’s prompt is Favorite Fall Foods, not Thanksgiving, the following five foods aren’t necessarily on my Thanksgiving table.  And as a healthy living blogger, I feel that I need to add the following disclaimer:  After the first two entries, I’m throwing healthy out the window, and it all goes down hill from here!

1.  One of my clients told me about Honey Crisp Apples years ago when they first made an appearance in the US.  At the time, I could only find them in the grocery stores in the fall, but fortunately I can now find them year-round at Wegman’s and Safeway!

2.  A couple of years ago I found a recipe for Smoky Black Bean Stew in Runner’s World.  I tried it, and we loved it!  It’s a definite cold-weather comfort food, but with a healthy twist!

3.  My Mom found a recipe for Apple Betty Crisp when I was little, and it quickly became a fall treat.  Bill absolutely loves it, and I just realized that I haven’t made one for him this fall…

  • Apple Betty Crisp
  • 4 cups peeled and sliced tart apples
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • Mound apples in buttered 9-inch pie plate, and sprinkle with orange juice.
  • For topping, combine sugar, flour, spices, and a dash of salt.  Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly, and scatter over apples.
  • Bake at 375° for 45-minutes, or until apples are done and topping is crisp.
  • Serves 6

4.  Last Thanksgiving, my son Daniel suggested we try a new side dish for dinner.  I asked what he had in mind, and he said macaroni and cheese.  We decided that it couldn’t be just any mac ‘n’ cheese, so we turned to Google, and it didn’t take us long to settle on Smoked Gouda and Bacon Macaroni and Cheese.  I mean seriously, anything with smoked Gouda and bacon?  How could it not be fabulous!  Let’s just say that this year I’m doubling the recipe!

5.  Ummm, this isn’t a food, but it’s something that I’d never even think of drinking in the summer, but enjoy occasionally once fall hits.  Any guesses?  It’s a Toasted Almond!  This has become our traditional post-Christmas Eve Mass cocktail.  We come home from 8 PM mass, enjoy a few Toasted Almonds, a slice of Sausage Roll, and bask in the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree.

  • Toasted Almond
  • 1-1/2 ounces Khaula
  • 1-1/2 ounces Amaretta
  • 4 ounces half-and-half (I usually use milk)
  • Pour over ice, enjoy


  • Questions:
  • What are your favorite fall recipes?
  • Do you like traditional Thanksgiving foods?
  • Who’s racing this weekend?

Happy Hug A Runner Day!


Long before the blog, and possibly even before I was on Facebook (yes I’m talking about the olden days), I somehow heard about Hug A Runner Day.  On that cold November 20th morning, I hugged my favorite runner goodbye before he left for work, and left my house for a solo run around our neighborhood in hopes of running into at least one other runner to hug.

First I saw Lorraine out walking her dog.  I’d gotten to know Lorraine through my BRF, and we’d even run together a few times, so even though she wasn’t running, she counted!   After a quick explanation and hug to Lorraine, and a pat on the head of her little white dog, I was off to find another person to hug.

Just a couple of streets away, I saw my Cruiser friend Shawn waiting at the bus stop with her daughter.  I gave her a quick sweaty hug and continued on my run.  Soon I noticed a car slow down beside me, and saw my Cruiser friend Alan (Shawn’s husband) smiling out of his open car window.  After leaning inside his car and giving him a big hug, I finished my run, satisfied that I’d accomplished my fun little goal!

Today, I met friends at 5:30 AM on the trail, and didn’t have to run all over my neighborhood to find runners to hug!  It was especially sweet to get to run with Amanda, my fellow Cruiser and MRTT running buddy!


And before I leave you today, I just have to share this again.  I saw my all-time favorite picture of a runner getting hugged, last fall on Sue’s recap of the Marine Corps Marathon…  Ooh Rah!



  • Questions:
  • Have you hugged a runner today?
  • Who’s your favorite runner to hug?

Yes, I’m A Running Gadget Geek (November 10 -16)

Yes, I will admit that I am quite the gadget geek, and I do love my running toys.  Just this past weekend I got two more, but more on that later.  First, here’s my week in review…

I started Monday back on track with lifting weights.  I don’t mean to whine, but I just haven’t been able to get back into my three-times-a-week-pre-arm-surgery-disciplined-self with my weight lifting routine.  Perhaps I need to hire a trainer.  ;-)

I met my MRTT friends for 5 miles around a neighboring community’s trails.  We parked at a popular restaurant, and hit the well-lit trails.  We finished in 47.32 (9:24 pace), and Kelley and I decided to tack on another mile on the hill where we did repeats during the summer.  Can I just say that the hill must have gotten much steeper because I was sucking wind trying to get up that thing!  Kelley was loping along beside me like a graceful gazelle, and I was stomping like a mad elephant!  We finished the round-trip mile in 9:55 which was faster than it felt.


I met my BRF for the first run together in several weeks on Wednesday.  Our focus is always on conversation rather than speed.  It’s girlfriend time, and we don’t care how fast or slow we’re going This week it happened to be 5.5 miles at a 10:47 pace.  I needed a couple of short walk breaks, and girlfriend obliged.

Later on Wednesday I got in another really good weight training session, but unfortunately it would be my last of the week…

Erin met me at my house for 3 miles on the trails in the woods behind my house on Thursday, right after I finished 3 miles by myself (9:25 pace).  She was tapering for her half marathon on Sunday, so I gladly split up my 6-mile run for her company in the second half.  We ran at an easy shake-out pace (10:28).  It worked beautifully!


Friday was my birthday, and despite my plans to lift, I got side-tracked when I accidentally deleted both last year’s and this year’s birthday letters to myself.  I was able to retrieve them eventually, but what should have taken 15 minutes to write that day’s post, took two hours to fix.

I did spend quite a bit of time near my basement gym later that evening when we had friends over to help celebrate my birthday.  During happy hour, and I could see my gym while standing behind the bar!  Does that count?


I started off Saturday bright and early with a great run with friends.  It’s easy to get up early when you have friends to meet!  We had six in my pace group and we finished 7 miles in 1:04:48 (9:15 pace).


Saturday evening our family went out for dinner together, and I got to open my presents!  Yay for geeky-gadgety running gifts!  Joseph, Julie, and Daniel gave me a Garmin, and Bill gave me a GoPro!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!


Around mid-day on Sunday, I went out for a run by myself.  I couldn’t wait any longer for my first Garmin run!  Even though I had it recharging all night, I saw that the battery was low around 2.75 miles (I must have done something wrong).  I stopped my watch at 3.1 miles because I desperately wanted to take my first Garmin/feet picture, and didn’t want to miss getting it because my watch died before I got home.  I didn’t take the picture when I hit stop, and didn’t realize that you can’t recall it later in the same format.  Anyway, I finished in 25:08 (8:06 pace).  On my way home, my watch died at 3.07 miles when I was at 26:10 (8:31 pace).  I learned that if your Garmin battery dies while on a run, your run is saved!

I also learned that my RunKeeper (I had it running to compare), clocked my first mile on the twisty trail through the woods 30 seconds slower than my Garmin.  When I ran on the straight W&OD Trail, the two kept perfect time with each other.  I have always questioned the accuracy of my RunKeeper app, and now I know…

On my run, I left the GoPro at home because I hadn’t figured out how to use it yet…  Too bad, because I saw a solid white squirrel on the trail!  Seriously, about one minute after watching a beautiful red fox run across the trail in front of me, I saw a white squirrel!


Total weekly workouts:
Running – 30.5 miles
Lifting – 2 hours


  • Questions:
  • Do you like running gadgets?
  • What’s on your running wish list?
  • Who raced this weekend?

Revisiting My Birthday Letter To Myself

Last year I wrote my first birthday letter to myself, and have decided to update it each year.  Here’s last year’s entry with my 57th year highlight…

Today is my birthday, and I absolutely love birthdays!  At my age I celebrate the whole month of November because I’ve earned it.  To celebrate my 56 years of living on this magnificent earth, I thought I’d write a letter to my many different ages…

Dear 1-year old self…  Keep running, but for heaven’s sake work on your form.  You’re wasting a lot of energy flailing your arms like that!

Dear 3-year old self…  That stuffed monkey that you just shoved back into the birthday gift wrap and said that you didn’t like, will soon become your favorite toy and will even go off to college with you!

Dear 4-year old self…  When strangers comment to your mom that since you have red hair, you must have a horrible temper and must be a very difficult child, kick them in the shins instead of hiding timidly behind your mom.

Dear 5-year old self…  Embrace every second of “daycare” that you spend with your dad and granddad on the farm.  You’ll someday be very happy that you can use a hammer, screwdriver, and pretty much any other tool to fix almost anything, and don’t need to ask your husband to fix things for you.

Dear 11-year old self…  Rock that pixie haircut and those gold tights on your eleventh birthday!  You are too cool for school!

Dear 12-year old self…  Take in every second of watching your mom walk across that stage to receive her BS degree after making so many sacrifices to earn it.  You have no idea the positive impact she is having on you.

Dear 13-year old self… Don’t hate your two different colored eyes.  Even though kids ask you if you can see out of your half brown/half blue eye, gently tell them that it’s only a genetic variation of your iris and move on.  One day you’ll think it’s cool!

Dear 14-year old self…  Thank you for begging and pleading with your mom and dad to let you go out for the track team.  You are about to fall in love with a sport that will stay with you for a lifetime.

Dear 16-year old self…  Don’t be insulted when the ticket taker asks your uncle and aunt how old the little boy in the back seat is when you’re going to see “The World’s Greatest Athlete” at the drive-in.  Someday you’ll be thankful for your young looking skin!  To him calling you a boy?  I have no thoughts on that; just don’t let it eat at you for the next 40 years.

Dear 17-year old self…  Embrace cleaning house, cutting the grass, and making dinners every weekend so your mom can go back to school and get her master’s degree.  Her drive to make herself the best that she can be, will make you the woman you’re about to become.

Dear 18-year old self…  Thank you for deciding to accept Virginia Tech’s admission to their great university.  Even though you were being sarcastic at the time, you had no idea how prophetic your comment to your parents would be when you said, “I’m going to hang out in front of the engineering hall in hopes of meeting a nice young man to marry.”

Dear 19-year old self…  Go ahead and throw that snowball at that dorm window.  In just a few minutes you’ll be walking into that dorm room and meeting your future husband for the first time!

Dear 20-year old self…  Don’t waste so much time lying out in the sun.  You may think your tan makes you look good now, but it’s doing irreparable damage to your skin and setting you up for years of dermatologist visits.

Dear 21-year old self…  Thank your parents for the gift of an education.  Not many kids in your generation have the luxury of graduating from college debt-free.

Dear 22-year old self…  Get a life!  When a 40-something year old co-teacher asks you how old you are when your parents send flowers on your birthday, don’t act exasperated and say, “Ugh, 22 years old!” as if you’re over the hill.

Dear 23-year old self…  I know you love that guy you’re marrying, but he is going to be far more than you think.  He’s going to be your best friend, your partner for life, and a fabulous dad to your future children.  And he’s going to push you to be the best that you can be!

Dear 24-year old self…  Embrace moving out of your comfort zone and moving to Utah.  There’s a whole new world of hiking and cross country skiing waiting for you!

Dear 27-year old self…  As beautiful as Utah and Colorado were, moving back to Virginia from out west to be near family was the best move you and Bill could have made.

Dear 28-year old self…  Embrace your popped collar and big hair.  You’re rockin’ the 80’s look!

Dear 29-year old self…  That 5-pound, 12-ounce little bundle of joy will show you a love that you never knew existed, and will grow up to make you so incredibly proud.

Dear 31-year old self…  Enjoy the easy and relaxed life of being the mom to only one baby.  Your life is about to get very busy!

Dear 32-year old self…  That 8-pound, 3-ounce little cutie pie will steal your heart.  Just when you thought your life was complete, another little man will be vying for your attention, endlessly.

Dear 34-year old self…  Moving into a cramped two bedroom apartment for three months while you’re waiting for your new house to be built will be worth it.  Your new neighborhood will bring you neighbors that will be your friends forever.

Dear 36-year old self…  Thank your in-laws profusely for watching your little boys while you and your husband take your first vacation without children, and spend ten days in Hawaii.

Dear 39-year old self…  You have no idea how your decision to train for and run your first marathon will impact the rest of your life.  Good job!

Dear 40-year old self…  Good call on letting your friend Miles talk you into running your first 50-mile ultra less than a month after your first marathon.  You don’t realize it at the time, but you’ll never have a chance to run it again.

Dear 44-year old self…  Don’t be so surprised to find that first basal cell carcinoma.  You brought it on yourself by getting that “perfect” tan when you were young and stupid.

Dear 45-year old self…  You’re purchasing your third and hopefully final house, and have no idea how much you and your family will enjoy your little piece of country in suburbia!

Dear 50-year old self…  Embrace your “I don’t give a crap what people think” attitude.  You’ve earned it!

Dear 52-year old self…  You’re a badass!  You just qualified for Boston again after two years of less than stellar marathon performances.  Go run it and have fun!

Dear 53-year old self…  Don’t be embarrassed that you just became an opportunist and hogged in on your son’s dermatologist appointment so your doctor could take a look at that odd place on your leg, rather than waiting three months until your next check-up.  Catching that melanoma early was a very good thing.

Dear 54-year old self…  Be nice to that cute young lady that your son has invited to dinner for you and Bill to meet.  You’re going to fall in love with her too, and one day she’ll be joining your family.

Dear 55-year old self…  Enjoy your care-free summer visit with your parents.  You never know when you’re going to lose someone you love dearly, and this will be your last extended visit with your dad before he goes to heaven.

Dear 56-year old self…  Enjoy your Sunday afternoon phone conversations with your dad, and ask questions about your family history.  Be grateful for that last week you got to spend with him, even though he was in the hospital.  After he’s gone, be strong for your mom, and remember that she just lost the love of her life, and husband of 60 years.

Dear 57-year old self…  You’ve always wanted a daughter, and now you have the most amazingly sweet, beautiful, and smart daughter-in-law imagnable.  Welcome her to your family with open arms, cherish her, and be the best mother-in-law you can possibly be.


Photo credit: Anne Lord Photography


  • Questions:
  • When is your birthday?
  • What big things would you tell yourself in a similar letter?
  • What’s your favorite birthday memory?