Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winner winner!

Thanks to all who entered the giveaway for a month's supply of vitamins and minerals from Enduropacks.

The lucky winner is KIKI!!!!  Send me an email at fullhousemom at gmail dot com and I will get you your awesome prize!!!! Congrats!! :)

You can read my full review here If you didn't win and you are ready to see what EnduroPacks can do for you and your training, you can shop here and use the code "FULLHOUSEMOM" for 15% off your order. :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Staying Healthy

I do not do a whole lot of product reviews and giveaways on this blog, and when I write about a product it is because I truly use it and believe in it and want to share about it with my readers.

Last month I was sent a one-month trial pack from EnduroPacks and I think that this is a fantastic product and company. I have already ordered my second month and plan to continue using EnduroPacks after my trial experience.

So what is it? EnduroPacks is a daily system of vitamins and minerals that are designed for endurance athletes to help keep us healthy and to help us recover faster from our training. EnduroPacks include four products which are sold as a set in one month supplies. The four products are a liquid multi-vitamin, a concentrated electrolyte spray, Essential Amino-Acid patches, and L-Glutamine Recovery Complex. All four products are all-natural, gluten-free, and GMO-Free products, manufactures in the U.S. with only Organic and 100% Vegetarian ingredients.

 I have used all four products religiously the past month, and it turns out that there really could not have been a better month to test out a product that claims to help you stay healthy and recover faster. For the past four weeks I have run 82, 86, 86 and 86 miles AND in the last three weeks we have had two different "bugs" go through the house and leave kids sniffling, sneezing, coughing, feverish, and grouchy at varying levels. Let's not forget too that it is Christmas-time, which for a mom of 12 involves a whole lot of extra "to-do" on the to-do list.

I can honestly and truly say that I am feeling awesome. I have handled the mileage better than ever. I am recovering more quickly from tough workouts and long runs, handling the mileage well, handling the workouts well (and nailing the paces), and am having decent energy throughout the day too. In the past there have plenty of times where running this kind of mileage leaves me feeling pretty zombie-ish for much of the day, but that has not been the case at all. AND, (knocking on wood) I haven't had so much as a sniffle, even though I have been coughed on, sneezed on, had my water bottle "shared", been hugged, been kissed, been cuddled, etc.  by sick kids, and basically have spent all day every day with my crew.

I am a believer in EduroPacks.

You can find more details about the EnduroPacks system here, but in a nutshell you take the liquid multi-vitamin every morning, you add the concentrated electrolyte spray to your water or sports drink, you wear one Amino-Acid patch (which helps replenish muscles, increase lung function, and boost immune system performance) for 4-8 hours each day, and you take the Glutamine Recovery Complex (which replenishes nitrogen loss due to intense muscle training, speeds up recovery and reduces soreness) each night. I thought it might be complicated, but it was very easy to get into a routine and I had no trouble remembering to use my EnduroPacks products. (I also take additional Iron, which I have for some time).

The only negative I could come up with is that they are not cheap, BUT, for a month's supply of four high-quality health products, I think the cost is very reasonable. 

With eight weeks to go until the Tallahassee Marathon, I will definitely be continuing using EnduroPacks to help get me through some high mileage and high intensity training which is coinciding with the busy holiday season (and peak sick season!)

I will be GIVING AWAY a one month EnduroPack system to one lucky reader!!! To enter the giveaway leave a comment below telling me you want to enter and telling me one tip you have for staying healthy while training hard and/or through the winter. For additional entries follow EnduroPacks on Twitter here and like them on Facebook here and let me know in the comments that you did.

I will randomly draw one lucky winner on Saturday, December 20.

If you don't want to try your luck and are ready to try EnduroPacks now, you can shop here and use the code "FULLHOUSEMOM" for 15% off your order. :)

Good luck to those entering the giveaway!!

* I was sent a free trial pack of EnduroPacks to try, but this review is my own honest experience and opinion. I was not compensated in any other way for this review.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Progress and Pride

This morning I finally had a great workout!!! I have had some decent runs and workouts this training cycle, although it was a slow and somewhat cautious start because of the Achilles that I hurt during the Hartford Marathon. ***PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT - Don't injure your Achilles. It is a dirty booger of an injury that takes forever to heal.***

This morning was the first time that I really could FEEL that I was making progress this cycle. My leg turnover was fast, my breathing was controlled, and it felt smooth to run fast. I felt strong which felt really good. Yay! It was a pretty mean workout too...

3 mile warm up, 12x400 with 400m rest jogs, 2 miles easy, 3 mile tempo, 2 mile cool down. 16 miles total.

Oh... and since the track is still covered in multiple inches of ice and crusty snow... it was on the treadmill. In my opinion, speed work on the treadmill is twice as hard as speed work on a track. (I drove around to check out two different tracks yesterday in hopes that one would be ok to run on this morning but no such luck). So yeah... this workout was physically challenging AND extra mentally challenging.

I had a good 20 miler on Saturday too. The roads were clear so it was awesome to be outside (and NOT on the treadmill!!) It was cold and I was bundled up, but it felt great to run outside. I ran it at an easy pace and then ran the last mile at race pace effort. Here is a quick video clip from the last mile.

My Achilles was actually a little bit grouchy after this 20 miler. I did a 20 miler last week and it was fine during and after, but I think that since this was a very hilly route, the uphills stressed it out a little bit. It has been perfect ever since and handled all of the speed work perfectly too though so I am not worried about it anymore.

Under 9 weeks now until Tallahassee Marathon!

Now for the pride part...

This weekend Shane (my 15 year old) WON the freshman race at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships in California!!! He ran the very hilly 5k (the course had switchbacks!) in 16:41 and won the race by over 20 seconds. Pretty dang awesome!  He went with some of the kids from his team and some kids from some other schools in Idaho. They took a bus from here to Las Vegas, then Vegas to California and then back home. They got to swim in the Pacific Ocean and had a wonderful trip all the way around.

Here is a pic from the race. Shane is in green (and ended up putting a good amount of space between himself and these two).  Cool picture right? One of the girls on his team snapped it. :)

And here he is afterwards...

Yup... I am a proud mama. :) And I like to think he gets his speed from me.  :)

There was a sign at Mt. San Antonio College Cross Country Course (where the race was) that quoted Romans in the Bible. It says, "We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope and hope does not disappoint us."

There aren't even words for how much I love that. That's why we runners embrace the suffering... we are building endurance, character, and hope. :)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Flashback Friday

Happy Friday!

This morning I was at home, minding my own business and being productive, when I got a text from a friend with this picture.

This was in late May 2009. That is me in the blue hoodie. Crazy.

This was taken shortly after my first 5k... my first race ever. It was just over a month after I went for my very first run, and a few months after I had decided to change my life and get healthy. I had already lost about 25lbs when this picture was taken. I pulled out my old running journal and looked up my time and it was 32:02. I remember being completely AMAZED that day that I had run a pace that started with a 10:xx. At that point in time, running just over three miles was still a major accomplishment for me. I never imagined that a couple of years later I would be winning this race, multiple times over (this year I won the 10k), running marathons, living like an athlete, and dreaming big dreams.

I showed the picture to my kids and it took even the older kids a minute to realize that it was me.

Coach said he had to compare the above picture with this one (from August this year) -

In a lot of ways I barely remember what it feels like to be that girl, mentally and physically. It is easy to look at that first picture and have a really negative knee-jerk reaction... to be disgusted at what I used to look focus on the fat and the red face. But that is not what I see when I look at that picture.

What I see is the beginning of a journey. I see the "me" that was five months in to eating healthy and exercising, and was sticking with it. I see the "me" that was not getting discouraged, even though the weight was coming off slowly. I see the "me" that had progressed from exercising in my living room with the Wii Fit, and was brave enough to go for that first run. I see the "me" that had the courage to sign up for a race and do it. And I see the "me" that loved it... that was already hooked on running even though it was crazy hard... that knew I wanted to get better and to run further and faster. I see the "me" that had started to find my inner strength and determination and was starting to realize I was stronger and more capable than I had ever imagined. I see the "me" that had started to feel good about myself. I see the fire. Even though it was just a tiny little flame at that time, I look at that picture and I can see the fire starting to burn and I know what it has grown in to. I see the beginning of the "me" I was meant to be.

Sometimes it can be pretty dang encouraging to look back and see how far we have come.

After chatting today about my running, racing, training, goals, etc. a good friend said to me, "You always do the impossible things" (and then mentioned things like having 12 kids, losing 80lbs, 22 milers on the treadmill, etc.) Obviously those things aren't really impossible, but I love that thought and am going to hold on to it. Yay for doing the impossible things and being crazy enough to believe that we can.

Dream big. Work hard. Don't give up. Believe.

Oh, and for the record... I still get the red face. :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


I am definitely way more of a "Cyber Monday" shopper than I am a "Black Friday" shopper. I have never once gotten up early on the day after Thanksgiving to wait in a parking lot or on a line in the cold to then fight my way into a Walmart, Target, Toys R Us or any other store. (The only reason I get up early on Black Friday is to run!) Truth be told, I hate shopping. I am MORE than happy to sit and shop on my laptop and never set foot in a store, or even worse... a mall (shiver).

I definitely took advantage of some of the online shopping deals this week. I have seen countless posts and articles on "great gifts for runners" so I won't do another one, but I have one great product and sale to share with you tonight.

I am a huge fan of Generation UCAN. I was first introduced to it by Meb (yes, that Meb... winner of the Boston Marathon this year, silver Olympic medalist in the marathon, etc.) when I ran on his charity team for the NYC Marathon. Meb uses Generation UCAN and believes in the product. I started using it consistently at the beginning of this year and it has drastically helped my fueling.

UCAN is made of SuperStarch, an all-natural, slow-releasing carbohydrate that provides steady energy and blood sugar levels. UCAN products are backed by patented and proven science to help you sustain energy and burn fat the healthy way. The Generation UCAN family of products are gluten-free, low in sugar, and will keep you energized, hydrated and fit.

I like the Tropical Orange sports drink as fuel for before my workouts, long runs and races (I struggle with any solid food before a run). I also use it during super long runs and marathons. After all of my runs I recover and refuel with the Chocolate protein drink.  You can find out more on the Generation UCAN running page.

I have a discount code that will give you 30% off and free shipping on all UCAN products from now through December 7. It's a great chance to stock up on your favorite products or to try UCAN for the first time. To link to the store with the code automatically entered at checkout you can just follow this link or you can email me at fullhousemom at gmail dot com and I will email you the code.

How about you? Do you love shopping in the stores or are you an online shopper like me? :)

Monday, December 1, 2014

World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day. That probably does not mean much to most of you, and I get that, because being totally honest... nine years ago it did not mean that much to me either.  Here is my story.

In December 2005 I was planning a trip to Ethiopia. We were going over a few months later to adopt and bring home our son, Benjamin Bekalu, who was a healthy five year old. Through my connections with other adoptive families online, someone asked if we would be willing to carry over a suitcase of donations for an orphanage for children who were HIV+. I of course said yes, but I also told Josh that I would never be able to go to that orphanage, and that he would have to deliver the donations when we were in Ethiopia. I imagined a building full of sick and dieing kids and did not think I could handle that.

After being in Ethiopia for a few days I had been through the emotional ringer. We had gotten Ben and he was adjusting amazingly well. We had met many incredible people and had life-changing experiences, and yet we had also experienced and seen many truly sad and heart-breaking things. I don't think I have ever laughed and cried so much all in one week. When the time came to go to the orphanage for kids with HIV, I decided to go.

It was not at all what I had imagined. The orphanage was very much like the one that Ben had been in. It was filled with kids running around, who looked no different than any other kids. They laughed, played, pulled on our arms,  sang, posed for pictures, sat in our laps, fought over candy and our attention...they were kids. I sat down on the floor to play with some of the kids and a little toddler girl caught my eye. She had been shaved bald and her clothes were tattered, but she was still the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I smiled and put my hand out to her and she tentatively walked over and then sat down in my lap. As she settled in, she melted into my arms in that special way that my other kids have... in a way that said, 'I am yours, and this is where I belong." I started to cry.

To make a long story a little less long, that was the start of a ton of research and work to get my baby girl home. I educated myself about HIV/AIDS. I talked to doctors, experts, and people living with HIV. I educated myself, then Josh, and then our families.  I found out that the orphanage we had visited (AHOPE) had been started as a hospice to make life as comfortable as possible with kids for HIV/AIDS while they died, but that they recently had gotten access to the life-saving anti-viral medications and all of a sudden the kids were living. And they weren't just living, they were thriving.

I learned that with medications and routine medical care, a child that is HIV+  can have a normal or close to normal life expectancy in great overall health. I also learned that HIV is NOT transmitted in any casual, household contact and that an HIV+ child would not be a risk to our family or anyone else.

Plenty of people thought we were crazy to adopt a child that is HIV+. I didn't care. The paperwork and process to adopt her and get her a visa was complicated and timely and very frustrating (she was only the third or fourth HIV+ adoption ever from what we could find) but at the end of 2006 I was back in Ethiopia to bring home my Belane.

Through my efforts to educate myself and others and to improve the process of making it possible and timely to adopt an HIV+ child, I became a "go to" person for others with questions. I also started advocating for the rest of the beautiful children in Belane's orphanage. There were adoptive parents lined up and waiting for healthy young children, while this orphanage was filled with beautiful young kids with no hope of family.  I wanted to change that.

Eventually I was hired by the adoption agency and was made the coordinator for HIV+ adoptions and then all special needs adoptions. (I only stopped working that job because the agency came under new management which led to the special needs program being eliminated and then the agency closing). From 2006 to 2011 things changed drastically. Awareness and education spread and more and more HIV+ orphans found loving families. Lots of other families became passionate about the cause and started/supported organizations to advocate and educate. In just the program I worked in, well over 250 HIV+ orphans were adopted (from babies up to teenagers). I got to the point where I had families paper ready and waiting for young, HIV+ children to be available.

In 2008 we added another child from AHOPE to our family. My Shorty (Solomon) was literally found on the side of the road with a crucifix and a picture of Jesus. I was in Ethiopia when he was brought into the orphanage and he was so very sick that the doctors did not think he would survive the weekend. He pulled through and after a few months of trying to find a family for him, I decided we were it. :)

Belane and Shorty take medications twice a day. Besides that, they are no different than any of my other kids. They almost never get sick, they are healthy and active, and they are thriving in every way. Here are some things we want everyone to know -

 -HIV can NOT be spread through casual/household contact. HIV is not spread through hugging, kissing, shaking hands, sharing toys, sneezing, coughing, sharing food, sharing drinks,  bathing, swimming or any other casual way. It has been proven that HIV and AIDS can only be spread through sexual contact, birth, breastfeeding and blood to blood contact (such as sharing needles).

- People who are on effective HIV treatment, with an undetectable viral load for least six months can not pass the virus on.

- HIV is now considered a chronic but manageable disease. With treatment, people who are HIV+ can live indefinitely without developing AIDS and can live long and full lives.

- People who are HIV+ deserve to be treated with love, respect, support and acceptance as all people do.

Belane in Ethiopia, February 2006  
Belane, Thanksgiving 2014
Solomon in Ethiopia, Nov. 2006
Solomon in Wyoming, 2014
- Check out AHOPE for Children, the orphanage that Belane and Shorty lived at. They are doing incredible things in the lives of children with HIV. 

- Visit and shop Product (RED).

- Educate yourself about the basics of HIV

While tackling the HIV/AIDS crisis is far from simple, to me, it boils down to two main messages that people everywhere need to hear. We need to spread information to help STOP the spread of the HIV pandemic, and we need to spread information to help make the world better for people who are already infected and have to live out their lives with this disease.

People need to understand the importance of safe sex, not sharing needles and having themselves tested for HIV.

People also need to understand that facts about transmission, so that the 33 million people on this earth living with HIV, do not need to suffer socially and emotionally from the terrible stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, on top of having to live with the medical ramifications of the disease.
Education is the key to slowing, and hopefully one day stopping, the spread of HIV. Education is the key to fighting the ugly stigma associated with HIV, which is based in unnecessary fear. People need to understand. People need to care.

That's my message for World AIDS Day. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Treadmill, Turkey, and Thanks

No matter how many times I run 20 miles on the treadmill it is just still a really freaking long run.

This morning's workout was 20 miles with the last six miles at goal race pace. Not an easy run by far, and really extra challenging on the treadmill. But I did it. Another storm is blowing in and the treadmill was the safest option, but I was definitely testing the limits of my "how bad do you want it" this morning. I am chalking it up to working on building mental toughness. :)

That makes 86 miles run this week, and 10 weeks to go until the Tallahassee Marathon.  Most of the week was great running, although I had one terrible 10 miler where I was exhausted from the very start and literally had no giddy-up at all. I put on a few pounds after Hartford and have been working on getting them back off, and fueling enough to have energy for all these miles and trying to drop a few pounds is a tricky balance to find. I bounced back though and the rest of the week went really well.

Thanksgiving was really nice. The Turkey Trot had a small but fun turnout. Four of my kids ran it (Shane won) and a few other kids came and helped. We came home and warmed up while watching the parade on TV. The day was filled with lots of cooking, serving, eating, and cleaning but it was also filled with laughter and a lot of fun. My favorite Thanksgiving food is definitely the sweet potatoes (with marshmallows of course). It was a nice day spent at home with (almost) everyone. My oldest daughter and her friend just hit the road to head back to college and Josh is working, so it is just me and "only" 10 kids now. :)

I have written lots of posts over the years about the things that I am grateful for. I try to live with a spirit of gratitude all the time, but lately I have been thinking a lot about how of all the things I am thankful for, that it is the people in my life that I am thankful for most of all. No matter what I do or accomplish in life, it is the things I do for others that matter the most, and it is the interactions, relationships, friendships, and love shared with others that makes life really matter and worthwhile.

Besides the amazing people in my life some of the things I am also thankful for are my faith, my puppies, warm blankets, getting to travel to races, great movies, my running shoes,  good music,  a pile of books, hoodies, and peanut butter. :) I am super thankful to be feeling good and training well. I am even thankful for the struggles and challenges in life which help me grow and realize my own strength.

Life is good. :)