Off-Season Planning

Being deployed has really shown me how important smaller goals are in breaking up the long slog and helping the time pass. I’ve gotten to a point where I just focus on the present and the next small milestone, kind of like a long run.

Every year with the cooler weather I find myself staying indoors more and doing more cross-training and always, planning for the upcoming year. Now that it’s getting cooler here in Afghanistan, I’ve been thinking more about what races I want to sign up for next year. I deferred the Marine Corps Marathon this year so I will probably run it this coming year.

Since the Disney races are pretty expensive and the MCM involves a plane ticket and hotel, I will probably try to keep my other races closer to home. That being said, Alaska is the biggest state in the US so “close to home” can still be anywhere from 8-14 hours away and still in the same state. I am still considering another destination race, though.

Some also depends on when I get home since traveling can take a while and I have to go through a brief re-integration period on the backside and that may mean I miss some races in the area I’d like to do.

So far my tentative schedule looks like:

January 6-10 – Disney World 5K, 10K, Half and Full

January 12 (?) – Castaway Cay 5K

February 25 – Town of Celebration Virtual Marathon

June 18 – Either Mayor’s Midnight Sun Marathon or Midnight Sun Run

August – Santa Claus Half Marathon

August 21- Moose’s Tooth Marathon

September 17 – Either Equinox Marathon or Ultra. I want to do the ultra, but it depends on where I am with training at that point.

October 30  – Marine Corps Marathon

If I had unlimited funds and could get the time off from work, I’d love to run the new Disneyland Paris Half Marathon this next year. I love Disney races and I think it’s going to be so pretty and fun to run. As expensive as Disney races are, and this would be combined with a flight to Europe, I would absolutely love to do this. Maybe as an end-of-deployment gift to myself?

Five Things for Friday

I can’t believe it’s already Friday.

Here’s what’s been on my mind this week.

1. BackBeat Fit headphones

I couldn’t take running with earbuds anymore so I took the plunge and splurged on bluetooth headphones and boy, am I ever glad I did. No strings attached.

Kind of like this

2. Fighter Diet Whey in Natural Chocolate flavor

I was looking for a protein powder that was clean without a lot of added fillers, artificial flavors, and without added sweeteners. I decided to try Fighter Diet and I can’t tell you how GOOD it is. I have a big sweet tooth so the chocolate flavor was a must. It’s made from grass-fed cows and has NO artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, no artificial colors, and no preservatives.

It mixes very well with liquids and while it doesn’t taste amazing with water (it tastes like chocolatey water), if mixed with soy milk it is absolutely delicious. I usually drink it with vanilla soy milk but tried it with chocolate yesterday for a double chocolate experience and man, was that good.

It does now, however, taste as good when mixed with shelf-stable milk

It does now, however, taste as good when mixed with shelf-stable milk

3. TP Massage Ball

I picked this up back home on sale at REI. Um, amazing. I like to roll it against my back while leaning on the wall and it really digs down into my sore muscles in a good way. It’s small enough that it’s easy to take along while traveling. Some people use tennis balls but I think this one is a little more firm and up to the job than a tennis ball would be.
tp ball4. Any kind of hip stretch

I’ve been doing more running and more lifting more consistently and my hips are constantly tight. One of my new favorite stretches to relieve their soreness is the “Pigeon Pose” from yoga. You cross your leg in front of you with the opposite leg stretched back and then gently fold your upper body over the bent leg in front and feel the glorious stretch.

Hurts so good

Hurts so good

5. Constantly changing goals

The fluidity of things out here makes it hard to plan. Sometimes I think it’d be easier to nail Jello to a wall.

So it doesn’t look like I will be running the Air Force Marathon and my trip to Japan may not work out, either. Instead, I’m changing my focus to an entirely new goal (with less variables to mess it up) and I signed up for the Dopey Challenge!

What is the Dopey Challenge? It’s four days and four races. A 5K, then a 10K, then a half-marathon, and on the final day, a full marathon for a total of 48.6 miles. It’s also at one of my absolute favorite places – Walt Disney World!


I am beyond excited for the challenge and am going to register also for the Disney Castaway Challenge. After I’ve completed the Dopey Challenge, P and I will be on a cruise to the Bahamas where we will stop at the Disney-owed private island, Castaway Cay, and run a 5K there.


I think it will be a perfect blend of my favorite things as well as give me some much-needed relaxing time. Plus, I’ve never been to the Bahamas before so that will be really neat!

These Are a Few of my (Least) Favorite Things

Now that I’ve been here almost a month (really, how did that happen so quickly?) I was thinking of a few things that I wish I hadn’t brought with me.

Doxycycline. I really don’t like this stuff. It makes my skin more sensitive to the sun, reduces the effectiveness of my birth control, which although is not a priority out here, I use to keep me regular, and it gives me really scary dreams if I take it anywhere close to bed. It makes me queasy in the morning which is when I take my birth control and vitamin and I don’t come back here during the day. Also, I haven’t seen a single mosquito here.

What I wish I’d brought instead: Ibuprofen. I had to order some online. Meanwhile, for headaches and muscle aches I had to ask around for some pain relievers. I’m usually really good about bringing Vitamin I with me, I just forgot this time.

NoRinse Shampoo. I loved this stuff and the body wash when I was at NTC. However, I really don’t need it out here. I have a shower maybe 20 feet from my room and it’s inside. I think I used this once in traveling here to freshen up, but I could have just as easily taken a full shower.

What I wish I’d brought instead: Some sort of hair mask. It’s dry out here and my hair is falling out like I’m starting chemo. It’s depressing. 

Baby Wipes. Again, not sure where I thought I was going. I haven’t touched these at all. They’re currently living in a bag under my bed. I guess I’ll use them to help clean the dust that accumulates inside my weapons?

What I wish I’d brought instead: Some sort of exfoliating scrub. I don’t like loofahs but my skin was pretty itchy for a while, especially on my feet. 

Mascara. For real. Why on earth did I bring this? I think I wore it twice. I forgot it was on, I rubbed my eyes at some point during the day, probably to get the sweat and sunscreen out of them, and when I got back at night I looked like Raccoon Girl.

What I wish I’d brought instead: Queen Helen’s Mint Julep Mask for deep cleaning beyond my CeraVe daily cleansing formula. 

For One More Day

I’ve wondered for a while what I would do if I knew one day would be my last. Would I jump on a plane and go somewhere I’ve always dreamed of seeing? Would I call my family and friends to talk to them one last time? Or would I spend it quietly at home, going for a run or going fishing?

Yesterday was about grieving. Sadness held me in a big, cold hug. It felt oppressive and gray.

Today was about business.

I went for my last run here.

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I ran down by the river and into downtown.

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I ran through the park one last time. It was one of the first places I went when I moved here and I think it’s so cute.

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I finished my cross-stitch project that I wanted to get done before I left. I think the K could be a little more left but the pattern was very vague there so it’s probably fine. Either way, I’m not changing it.

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Finally, I finished packing. I hate packing. I put in a pair of socks and Zane came and took them back out and walked away with them. Eventually I put them in a plastic bag and he was sad.

I also watched Star Trek: The Next Generation pretty much all day, The Butler (which made me cry because I’m a big sissy sometimes), shipped my saddle off to the woman who bought it, and sometime later P and I will go to my favorite sushi restaurant in town for our last meal. I ate there right before NTC so now I feel like it’s my good luck ritual.

I thought I’d have liked to go fishing, or spend all day at the movies, or reading a book but as it turns out, there is no other way that I would have liked to spend my last day here than with the things I love most in all the world.

Last Weekend, First King

In addition to running, I also really, really love riding horses, skiing, and fishing. The salmon are running so last weekend we drove down to Copper Center and camped and went fishing. It was so much fun.

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I caught my first king salmon ever, saw bald eagles, gulls feasting on leftover salmon carcasses, moose tracks, and the scenery was just beautiful. It was so relaxing and peaceful there too. My phone had no signal down there so we were really off the grid. We packed in our own water and food for some dry camping. The mosquitoes were fairly rough and at one point I woke up to a spider crawling next to my face, but I still had such a good time. It was the best time I could have on my last weekend in Alaska.

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I already can’t wait to get back next year. I’m already planning a multi-day fishing trip to fish for salmon, go dip netting and go down south to do some deep sea fishing.

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