Thursday, February 3, 2011

Total Money Makeover

Jessica is usually right about everything; sometimes it just takes me a while to catch on to ideas that she comes up with.

For the last few years, she has brought up Dave Ramsey, and we even went so far as to DVR his show on Fox Business. From viewing the show, we eventually got to the point where we knew what advice he would give to almost every caller. We had watched long enough to realize we were not likely living financially wise. Though we knew we were not necessarily doing things correctly, we still never really committed to doing anything about it. Until now.

Jessica got The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey for Christmas, and she has been a woman possessed since. I have slowly, but surely come around and have read most of it in the past few days, as we have been trapped indoors due to Snowicepacalypse. We started our Financial Peace University class and have decided to develop our "gazelle-like" intensity towards being debt free and becoming financially fit.

With our tax refund, we will have our first part of our emergency fund in place and will start working on our debt snowball. It will be fun to blog about our small victories along the way, like when we start paying off these dumb credit cards. So, here we go...debt free, here we come!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Adios, Facebook.

In an effort to return more attention to my blog, I have once again deactivated my Facebook account. I spend an obscene amount of time on there and noticed recently that you have more things to respond to the more you're actually on there. When I refrained the last few weeks, there was usually not much to catch up on when I went back. I like putting my thoughts into this blog, so hopefully I can be consistent with it again.

Oh and Happy Groundhog Day!

Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 - A Year to Remember

So much has happened in 2010. Right off the bat, we moved into our new house in McKinney (though we should've been moved in mid December 2009, but that's another story, and hey, it started this year off right!)

We loved our new house; great location and just the right size...until...

Right as we were settling into our cozy, new, adequately sized home, we discovered our family was going to be expanding once more, and we were expecting Baby Allen #2 in September, just like we had planned!

The spring semester was the end of my second year at Lovejoy, and track season had a fantastic finish. I coach the hurdlers on the track, and our goal on the girls' side was to sweep the district meet. When it was all said and done, they finished 1-2-3 in both the 100 and 300 hurdles, helping the girls' team to a district championship! At the regional meet, all three girls qualified for the 100 hurdles and finished 4th, 5th, and 6th respectively. Two of them made the finals in the 300s, including a 2nd place finish and a state qualifier. We also qualified a 3200 & 1600 meter runner and a shot thrower. After a gold medal in the 3200 and bronze in the shot, I got to watch my first state qualifier in the 300 meter hurdle final. She had the 2nd fastest time going in, and I told her she should go in with the confidence that she could win. One of my proudest moments as a coach was as she took the lead on the homestretch, on the way to the gold medal! 300 meter hurdle state champion! I had tears in my eyes as she crossed the finish, and I was so glad that Jessica, Dwayne, my dad, and my uncle were there to share the moment with me. Another gold medal in the 1600 helped the girls secure a 3rd place tie at the state meet; not bad for 3 girls! Should be an interesting 2011 season with all the gold medalists back!

Our angel, Cecelia grew up so much this year, too. Being a father is such a blessing; I'm constantly amazed by her! I'm so proud of the person she is already. She's just so sweet. This year, she became a big sister, and I know she will be a good example for Vivienne (who we haven't talked about yet, but we'll get to that major event soon).

This blog post is going to be all over the place, just what happens when you go a full year without a post and have to recap everything.

This summer, Jessica went with me to Taos, NM for the cross country altitude training camp. We had a blast; it was a nice getaway for us and though we love our Cece girl so much, it was nice to just have some "us" time. It was also during the "Beard Experiment" summer, in which I discovered that I like having a beard much more than not.

We had a great trip in Taos. I enjoy each minute with my wife and best friend. I remember growing up with her in middle school and high school. She was a girl that I always thought any guy would be lucky to end up with. I never imagined I would be that guy. I still have to pinch myself sometimes; I'm so blessed that she's my wife, and she's also the best mother in the world! So many more memories to come!

We celebrated four beautiful years of marriage in August, and we're planning a big extravaganza for our 5th in the coming year. It just gets better and better!

Our baby shower had some excitement this time; we got the sonogram tech to write down the sex of the baby on a card and seal it in an envelope. We took the envelope to the baker and told her we wanted pink cream inside if it was a girl and blue if it was a boy. Aunt Julie cut the cake, and we found out that we were having a girl; Vivienne Armelle Allen was to join the crew!

Late in the evening on September 12th, Jess went into labor and we again made our way to the Birth and Women's Center of Dallas. Our good friend, Carter Rose, was there to capture everything on camera; he has such an amazing talent to help us cherish all the best moments forever. We really can't thank him enough for what he does for us.

It was a relatively smooth labor (I realize that's easy for me to say), and at 12:34 a.m. on September 13th, Vivienne Armelle Allen added another little bunch of love to our family. It's been a blast watching Cece become a big sister. We have so much to look forward to.

Cece loves her Vivi! She always says "Baby Vivi!" and gives her big hugs and kisses. I must be the luckiest man in the world!

I made Jessica a cake on her birthday! Not bad for my first baking, huh!?

November 13th was the culmination of the best cross country season I've ever been a part of; The Lovejoy Boys' and Girls' Cross Country Teams won the state championship!

And my girls were there to share in the bliss!

I can't imagine how any season after this could go any better; it was a coach's dream season but after it was over, I realized that it's not about the end result but how we got there, and we get to start over next season. I really love my job.

The next weekend, we celebrated Cecelia Raine's 2nd birthday! We had a party at the house, and her buddies came over to the house. It was a Minnie & Mickey Birthday, and Jess got the balloons (that lived on almost through the new year) to top off the excitement.
I can't believe how fast she's growing up. She's just the sweetest little girl in the world!

That afternoon, Dwayne and I left to roadtrip to Terre Haute, IN for the NCAA XC Championships. Oklahoma State was the defending champion, and this time they won in dominating fashion to win back-to-back championships. I think there are pictures on Facebook, but I can't find any on our computer. Oh well.

Vivienne's first and Cecelia's third Christmas was fantastic. We had a small family get-together here at the house, and we made sausage balls, just like Nana always did. It was a great Christmas; the girls got a great picture with Santa, too!

All in all, I can't imagine a year being any better; it was full of blessings! I have faith that God will continue to take care of our wonderful family. I truly believe I am the luckiest man in the world. I love my wife so much; she is an amazing friend and the best mom on the planet. Our girls are turning out to be the best of buddies, and we look forward to them playing together more soon. So, cheers to a great 2010, and best wishes to everyone for a prosperous and happy 2011!

Monday, December 21, 2009

20+ mile White Rock day, 16.5 mile long run

Paced a friend of mine through the 1/2 marathon last week at White Rock, ran around another 2 miles or so looking for my ride, who then took me to the 20 mile mark of the marathon to run the last 6 with my boss. All told, close to 21 miles total last Sunday.

Had a decent training week, getting geared back up and then yesterday did a 16.5 mile long run at 6:50 pace. Getting pretty fit, ready for track season!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

DRC 1/2 Marathon!

I felt really great coming into this race. I got some good speedwork in and sharpened up for the last few weeks, so I knew I could race well.

My goal was to run 6:00 minute pace, so the plan was to go out somewhere between 6:10-6:15 for the first two or three mile and then to start rolling after that. The adrenaline got the best of me, though, and my miles were as follows:

1 - 5:59, 2 - 6:02, 3 - 5:53, 4 - 6:01, 5 - 6:01, 6 - 6:08, 7 - 5:57, 8 - 6:05, 9 - 6:17, 10 - 6:15, 11 - 6:20, 12 - 6:25, 13 - 6:21, .1 - :37

After the first mile at the pace I wanted to average, I decided I better go ahead and commit to trying to maintain the entire race at that clip. As you can see, at the end of mile 8, I hit the wall pretty bad and was just happy to finish up at the pace that I did - 6:07 avg pace. The course was hillier than I thought it would be, but I am happy with the overall result.

I got 15th place overall, out of more than 3,000 runners, including 2nd place in my age group (25-29).

This has been a great year of training, giving me a good base going into the winter and spring track season. Next up, 10 days of rest and relaxation before getting back at it with some extra speedwork for my mile race indoor at Arkansas in January. I'll definitely run the turkey trot (8 mile) in Dallas on Thanksgiving and then the White Rock 1/2, but those will be more of easy runs instead of hammering.

I'm really excited about revving up the speedwork for track season.

I'd be more excited if we can win a state championship in XC in two weeks, though!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Longest training run ever, ready to sharpen up for Nov. 1st...

I was excited yesterday because I went 7 miles out and back for 14 total, hitting the first half of the run in 51:04 and coming back in 47:48, an average of 7:03 for the whole run. This is the longest run I've ever done, which felt great.

I ran the 1/2 marathon in March in 7:08 pace, so it's fun to see the benefits of hard training. Today, I was on a 6 miler and thinking that maybe my mileage may have been off. So I got on the USATF "Map my run" page ( charted out my 7 out to make sure. It was actually 7.25, so my run yesterday was 14.5 miles, averaging 6:49 for the whole thing, 7:03 pace for the first 7.25 and 6:31 for the last, including a 6 flat last mile.

I am starting to think that progressive runs are really great workouts and should be a part of any distance runner's workout regimen. They start out easy, but you always feel sharp and fast at the end.

2nd to last mile repeat workout tomorrow; countdown is at 19 days until the DRC...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mile Repeats, 10 milers and the DRC 1/2 Marathon

My training has really progressed as well as I could have hoped for when I started getting serious about running again in January. From 10-12 mile weeks at 8:00-8:15 minute pace to 45-55 mile weeks pushing sub 7:00 pace for the majority of the miles, I really feel strong and ready to run some fast times.

One of my goals was to be fit enough to run the varsity workouts with the guys on the cross country team. I started out doing mile repeats at just under 6:00 pace with 5-6 minutes rest in between. I am able to consistently hit sub 5:30s on the repeats now with under 4 minutes rest, helping our #5 runner close the gap to our frontrunners in the process.

Something else that I really missed in these years of fitness limbo was the ability to run 10 miles at a decent clip, reasonably comfortably. This past weekend, I ran the OSU Jamboree 8k in the University division. It was a painful experience but also a fun one. I wanted to run somewhere in the 28 minute area but ended up running 30:15 (6:03 pace) after drastically underestimating the course. That was the most difficult, demoralizing course I've ever experienced. In the end, I really wasn't too disappointed with the time. The soreness set in directly afterward, despite a good 3 mile cool down. We got back home late Saturday night, and I planned to get a 10 miler in on Sunday morning. I was really sore as I set out, but I made it a point not to look at the watch until the run was over. I ran as comfortably as possible, finishing up in 74:14, a clip just under 7:30 pace. I was excited, specifically because I never picked up the pace at all and stayed in my comfort zone the entire way.

At this point, my confidence level is at a high going into the DRC 1/2 marathon November 1st. The goal is to run sub 6:00 minute pace, which would be a shade under 1 hour, 19 minutes. That would put me over 14 minutes faster than the 1/2 back in March, which was 1 hour, 33 minutes. If I get 8-10 miles in and feel great at pace, I would love to be able to put my foot on the gas a little bit and dive a couple of extra minutes under 1:19.

The summer base and fall training will give me a decent background for a spring season that will see me attempting to run the mile/1500 at various track meets. I think the whole project is really a two year plan leading to the spring of 2011 to really run a fast mile/1500. After that, who knows? I am most certainly not going to be lucky to hold on to any speed I might still have for much longer, and I'm definitely not getting any younger. The next step would be to really get serious about the 1/2 marathon and focus on that year-round.

I heard a great quote the other day from Mark Wetmore, the coach at Colorado. He said, "If you are not enjoying the journey, chances are you're not going to like the destination." That's probably an accurate assessment. I'm really enjoying the journey, so I hope I am content with the destination.