Monday, November 18, 2013

A Reminder

Little reminders
A few weeks ago, I was randomly thinking about if and how I make a difference in my children's lives. My husband thinks I do. I wanted to stay home to raise our kids and he fully supported my decision.  But there are days that go by and I wonder if I have made a difference. Do my kids know that I love them? Will they appreciate that I chose to stay home and raise them?  And hello, pity party, is there more to me than washing laundry, washing the dishes, putting things away, and making meals?  Have I lost myself in the process of the redundancy of being home to 3 smallish children?  I don't write as much as I would like, however, I make up for my lack of writing by running more often. Not that running as replaced my passion for writing, but the endorphin rush makes me a less frustrated mama.  And time. Seriously, where does the time go? I have so much I would like to accomplish and I'm hoping I'm accomplishing the most important thing...loving my husband and children and raising a family of responsible, kind, loving people who learn to help others, share the light of Jesus, and become independent adults.

I guess God knows when you need a little reminder that you do matter.  Mine came in the form of a letter a couple of weeks ago. I was in the midst of putting away laundry waiting for dinner to come out of the oven when we received a surprise knock on the door. It was one of our Flipper coaches who stopped by to give me a thank you letter for my help in looking over his college essays.  He could have easily sent me an email, a text, or a Facebook message. But instead he took the time to drive to my house and hand deliver it.  It wasn't long, nor did it need to be.  He had given me a little reminder that I make a difference. It came at a good time for me and I am grateful. I think it's very easy to get lost in the everyday tasks and to forget about one's dreams and aspirations while helping your children attain theirs.  I think it's very easy to get lost helping everyone else that you forget to help yourself or remind yourself that you make a difference.  

I really enjoyed looking over the college essays and writing my notes on the side. I enjoyed taking the time to get to know this coach a little better through his writing and to be once again be reminded that my children are surrounded by good people.  I didn't help him because I was looking for any kind of recognition and in reality I was hoping that I was indeed helping. It's been awhile since I've had to look over someone's writing and make suggestions and edits. I was afraid I was a little rusty and that it wouldn't be college worthy. But as he just received his first acceptance letter, I think, "Heck, well maybe I did a better job than I thought."  But as I turned in my last edits I continued with my everyday tasks of being carpooling, cooking, volunteering, and just being mama to my beautiful kids.

And then, then when I needed that reminder, it came. It's nice to know that I still make a difference and to be reminded to do everything I do with a cheerful heart. The reward is not in the recognition, but in doing something with a joyful heart.  

I decided the letter was a keeper and it sits on my bookshelf next to the thank you card that I received from my Flipper coaches this past summer.  Little reminders that somewhere along the line, I make a difference.  Mother Teresa reminds us to continue to good no matter the outcome. I love her quote "Do it Anyway."

Friday, November 8, 2013

One on One Time

The day after Halloween was quiet, drizzly, dreary day. A perfect day for sleeping in. Boogie did not have school that day, but Buggy did. I debated whether or not to wake the children and bring her to school. They were all sleeping so soundly I did not have the heart to wake them.  However, I did need to go to Mass that day and the question was do I bring 2 or do I bring all 3?  I posted on Facebook about whether or not to wake the kids to bring Buggy to school. The consensus was to let everyone sleep.  Of course, right after I posted, Buggy woke up.

I still debated and she and I talked about the benefits of staying home.  We chatted about the benefits of going to school.  She and I enjoyed a leisurely morning. I made her a nice hot breakfast and told her she could have anything she wanted. We made omelets and tea and enjoyed an hour together before the boys woke up.

After the boys woke up I fed them and made everyone get dressed. I drove Buggy to school an hour late and took the boys to Mass.

I reveled in the quiet morning with my girl. We spent some nice one on one time, which is becoming rare because she attends school 4 days a week now.  We chatted, made breakfast together, and enjoyed have a "girls" morning. Just us.

As each of my kids become older and attend school I find that I covet these rare days that I get to spend with any of them one on one.  I know I say it all the time, but time flies and it goes way too quickly.  There will be a time that they won't want me to kiss them in front of their peers, volunteer at their school, or just be around.  I hope that's not true, but it may be. So I treasure this time. To sit, to talk, to sip tea, and to just be. May I never forget my time with them and may they always look back remember that I love them and that I treasure my time with them. Even if I am a little grumpy when I'm trying to get them all out the door on time ;)

Just the Girls

My Sweet Buggy

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

May the Force Be With You (Halloween 2013)

Leia, Yoda, and Luke
After a couple of years of having a theme for Halloween, I think it might be this way a while longer. Especially since my oldest began plotting next year's costumes soon after he came in from trick or treating.

My parents came over to see the kids in their costumes
This year my kids were Star Wars characters. The theme was kicked off when a friend gave Buggy a Princess Leia costume. After that, the boys had to be Star Wars characters as well!  I ordered costumes for the boys and Bananas was Yoda and Boogie was Luke Skywalker. We procured light sabers from our next door neighbors and the costumes were complete.

Halloween started with a Halloween parade and party at Boogie's school. I dressed the younger kids and Buggy jumped right into the parade before the kids left the classroom.  Boogie was stuck holding his brother's hand and it made him very grumpy.  Bananas is little so it takes him more effort to keep up with the group and it made Boogie frustrated that he couldn't keep up with the group.  However, all was forgiven after the parade and once the sugar rush kicked in from the party.

We came home and I rushed to finish up straightening the house before our neighbors came over for dinner. I invited several families over to our house and I ordered pizza for the group. We ended up with 12 kids and 8 adults at our house enjoying pizza, salad, and juice boxes before we put on glow bracelets and necklaces and went out trick or treating. Along the way a few more neighborhood kids joined our group and we ended up with a large group of 15 walking around the neighborhood. I know from running in our neighborhood that the complete loop is a mile.

Getting ready to go to Boogie's party and parade with our neighbor Spider Man
The younger kids were getting tired halfway through, but the big kids hit just about every house.  I think Boogie led the way most of the time and had a blast.  Halfway through the neighborhood, Bananas began rubbing his eyes and he and Hubby headed home. I continued with the big kids. We were blessed with 70 degree weather and only a light rain.  Hubby and I truly enjoyed our trip around the neighborhood with our neighbors.  It was so nice to watch the kids have fun and chat with our neighbors.  Our schedule is so busy and jam packed that we rarely get a chance to see our neighbors and spend time with them.  Our night was so much fun and most importantly the kids enjoyed themselves.  By the time we came home, the rain came down harder and we didn't have a lot of trick or treaters. I'm glad the rain held out while we were trick or treating.

He's make a pretty good lookin' Luke Skywalker
We've done a theme for the last few years.  Two years ago the big kids were characters from the movie "How to Train Your Dragon." Last year all three kids were characters from the Narnia series:  King Peter, Queen Susan, and the Dragon. This year was Star Wars. Boogie is already thinking ahead for another theme...I'm thinking Firefly...Can't you see Bananas as the Hero of Canton?

Class picture

A Grumpy Luke with an oblivious Yoda and Princess Leia.
Fortunately, he lightened up once the party started :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

5 is Fabulous!

Buggy turned 5 years old last week. I still can't believe it. She has always seemed grown up that I think she has always seemed older than she is.  Even at ages 3 and 4 she was a big help to me.  Her height also makes me forget that she is younger than I think she is.  But no, she is only 5. Thank you goodness! I don't want her growing up too fast!

Cousins celebrating being 5 years old!
We celebrated my sweet girl with an annual family party with her cousin who is 3 weeks older.  The two of them have celebrated every birthday together.  This year we celebrated the family party much earlier than we usually do and this time we celebrated it at her cousin's house.  It is usually at our house in late October. This time, we celebrated in early October. Poor Buggy thought we were not including her in the birthday celebration because it really wasn't her birthday, yet.  She wondered aloud if her cousins would think to give her presents. I had to assure her that it was a celebration for and for her cousin, and yes, she would receive presents.  She had a wonderful time and the weather was perfect. The cousins spent most of their time playing outside and soaking up the sun.

Buggy and friends cheering for the yellow knight
The weekend before Buggy's birthday I took her and two of her friends to Medieval Times.  She has been wanting to go ever since her big brother went earlier this year.  I wish we could have invited more people and included her friends' families, but tickets are expensive so it was a little party.  The girls had so much fun and I have to admit I did, too.  Buggy's eyes went wide when they announced "Princess" with her name during the royal announcements.  She whispered, "I'm a princess!" Yes, Sweetheart, you are!  The girls cheered for the yellow knight and were most excited to see the jousting.  While the yellow knight did not win, he did throw his last carnation to Buggy just after he kissed. It's still sitting on our dining room table, still a brilliant pink.  We ended the evening with cupcakes and at our friend's house where we were able to include the rest of the families in the celebration.  It was wonderful and fun and Buggy was happy to be with her friends.

The Princess caught the flower from the yellow knight
We ended the month long celebration on her real birthday, October 22nd.  Buggy brought cookies and juice pouches to her preschool for snack.  Her teachers made a big deal about how much they think she's grown.  She felt special the whole day.  We took her out to dinner to our favorite family restaurant. We were joined by my parents and we were waited on by one of my former students. (I'm starting to feel my age when I meet my former elementary and middle school students outside of school and they are waiting on me at a store or restaurant!).

Family photo!
We ended the evening with opening presents on mommy and daddy's bed where they were waiting for her.  Her brothers helped and she "ooooohhhhhed and ahhhhhhhed" over each present.  We took a selfie family picture and I reveled in the miracle that is my daughter.  She amazes me and I feel so blessed to be able to call her mine.  She and her brothers are truly God's gift to me and their father.

I look at my blond haired daughter with her wide blue eyes and I am reminded to find the good in all things and people, to be kind, to be thoughtful, to be grateful, to love, and to be loved.  Buggy came at a time in my life when I was struggling with bullies at work, feeling let down, and feeling frustrated with so many things. She is God's reminder to me that even through great challenges, good things can happen.  She is the sunshine in my life. She has my heart.

Happy 5th birthday, my sweet Buggy!  I love you to the moon and back. Love, Mama

Just Born!

One is Fun!

Two is "tu-tu" perfect

Three is thrilling

"Four" ever Daddy's girl!

5 is fabulous when Daddy is a super hero!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Like Daddy

He looks so scholarly holding a ruler in his hand
Recently Mr. Bananas has been asking for a tie to wear on Sundays. I have to say that we dress somewhat casually for church. The boys wear polos or sweaters, Buggy wears a dress (she's probably the most dressed up), Hubby wears a polo or a button down shirt with dress pants, and depending on the weather I'm wearing a dress, skirt, or even jeans with a nice top. But no heels for this lady. A nice pair of flats does nicely.

So it was funny when Bananas started asking for a tie. We have two toddler sized ties. I don't know the location of one, so all we have been able to find is a red Christmas tie.  He's worn it two Sundays in a row and has started asking to wear it during the day over his t-shirts.  He says he wants to be "like Daddy."

 "Daddy wear tie?"
"Yes, Daddy wears a tie for work."
"Bananas wear tie, too. Wear, tie, too!"

It's pretty stinkin' cute. Especially when he runs down the aisle at church to catch up with the big kids and walk down to Children's Liturgy with them.

"Yes! I get to wear a tie!"

Friday, October 18, 2013

Exercising with the Kids

I can't always get in a run, but I try to keep up with a monthly challenge featured on the Women's Running Community Facebook page. This month it's a tricep challenge which also included planks.  Of course, without fail, anytime I am on the floor, my two year old decides it's the best time to climb on Mommy.  Have you tried to do planks with a two year old on your back? He was having way more fun that I was :)

I love that my kids see me exercise.  I want them to know that Mommy exercises so that she can be strong and healthy and I try very hard to not to mention weight or losing weight. I want them to equate exercise with being healthy and strong, not weight loss.  But let's be honest, I am constantly fighting the battle of the bulge.  I still have 6 pounds to lose to bring me to my pre-baby weight from my last pregnancy. I also know that I really should lose about another 20 to bring me to a "healthy" weight according to BMI.  While I struggle with my weight, I also know that I am more fit than I have ever been in my life. This year I completed TWO half marathons.  I run longer and farther than I ever have and I now eat to fuel my body for the next training run or work out.

I find great pleasure in going for a walk or run with my kiddos or have them join me in doing planks...even if I am the only one actually doing it while they are along for the ride ;)

Looks like fun, doesn't it?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Run Like a Mother Party

Hanging out at the Run Like a Mother Party
 On my last birthday my BFF gave me the book Train Like a Mother by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea. For all the mama runners out there, I highly recommend this book. It's written as if you are hanging out with your best girlfriends talking about running, training for races, and how to maintain a running lifestyle while maintaining your "family, job, or sanity."  It's a must read.

I used the half-marathon "finish it" plan for my last half marathon. I cranked out a lot of miles while working on my speed and preparation for hills.  Um, it is not for the faint of heart.  I haven't even attempted the "own it" plan.  I'm using the "finish it" plan once again in the hopes to PR for my next half.

Shortly after receiving this book my friend m00se, an ultramarathoner recommended the "Run Like a Mother: The Book" Facebook page. I "liked" it and and now get daily inspiration from these witty, fun, and "I totally get you" mother runners.

m00se and I had the awesome opportunity to attend one of of their "Run Like a Mother" parties that was happening locally. I think we signed up 6 months in advance and we were both looking forward to it. It did not disappoint.  It was filled with other mother runners of all shapes, sizes, ages, and seasons of life.  The authors read snippets from their Train Like a Mother book, awarded some amazing giveaways (jogging stroller, anyone?), and took their time to meet, greet, take pictures, and sign books for their fans.

A pic with the awesome Dimity McDowell
I brought my brought my birthday present and they each signed my book. Admittedly, I was too shy to ask for pictures and did not get one with SBS, but Dimity saw me taking candid pictures of her and my friend and offered to take a picture with me. Uh, yes please!

The best part of the night was watching m00se and Dimity connect and of course, hanging out with my friend. m00se and I knew each other in college and we were friendly, lost contact over the years and reconnected through Facebook.  Running has brought us to a new level of friendship.  Over the course of the last year or so we have gotten to know each other better, cheered for each (or at least texted) for races, talked training plans, and moved towards talking about family, marriage, children, and life in general. There's nothing like a friendship of that of a sole sister. It is a friendship that I value.

By the end of the evening I was the proud owner of Run Like a Mother, a signed copy of Train Like a Mother, and two shirts with running slogans. Yeah, I totally geeked out over going to a running party.  It was energizing and empowering to hang out with other mother runners, the authors, and my friend who is a running inspiration.  It was awesome.

Keep running!

They signed my book!

S. and Dimity bonding over tattoos, running, and running coaches.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Can I Pencil You In?

I'm still here. I'm still running. I'm still being a mommy with a lot on my to-do list. Lately, I have felt that I haven't been a good friend to any of my friends. I have so much I do with and for the kids that I haven't made the time to get together with anyone else. I'm sorry.  Really I am. It's not you, it's me.

I've been working on my own time line and if you've asked me for a date and I haven't gotten back to you, it's that I am working on one thing at a time and that thing you asked me for...well it's behind several other things.

I know. It's awful.  I should make time for my friends. All the magazine articles, MOPS meetings, tv commercials tell me I'm missing out if I don't make time to get together with my friends.. But can I be honest? That's it. I'm just tired and crazy busy. Not really discombobulated or overwhelmed, just busy. I'm not doing anything super exciting or crafty. I'm just being mom and every hour/day is filled with one thing or another. There are times that I have scheduled a get together months in advance. No lie. Months.  Just last week I went to a Another Mother Runner event with another running friend. I think we had this on our calendar for months. I was really looking forward to it and last week between the PTA Book Fair, potty training the 2 year old, figuring out whether or not I'll run in a half marathon next week (I'm not), and trying to plan a family party for my middle child's upcoming 5th birthday, I completely forgot. If my friend hadn't messaged me and told me she was excited about getting together and going I might have missed it altogether. As it stood I was lucky to get a last minute babysitter!

I feel bad. It's not that I need help with this or that. It's just I'm always in the midst of doing one thing or another.  And Hubby's new schedule has just thrown me off. I should be used to it by now, I mean it's been 3 months now, but we're still flitting by on the seat of our pants. Things get done. But if I have any extra free time, I'm spending it with my Hubby, whether it's date night on the sofa eating Thai food and watching Netflix, or I'm in the middle of folding laundry while he's doing his back exercises.

I know this whole not able to make time for my friends is going to bite me in the butt sooner or later.  It's ironic really. The first few years of staying home with my kids I was desperate to find friends. Somebody to hang out with to help me fill those oh, so lonely days where I didn't have any adult interaction or conversation until Hubby walked in the door after a long day at work. Now, I crave the solitude. And yes, most of the time I run solo so that I can just be alone and not have to answer to anyone for at least a half hour or so.  I also get to squeeze in a good book by listening to it. It's all about the multitasking, Baby.

I miss my friends. I miss seeing them. The thing is I know we are all busy, so I don't ever try to schedule anything. I'd much rather someone call me and throw out some dates and I do mean dates as in the plural so that I have a better chance of having at least one of those days free-ish. It's trying to find time between the soccer games and practices, potty training, being the room parent, or helping out at the book fair. I promise I'll do better. Really I will. Just after we finish with the book fair, plan the middle child's birthday, and the Halloween/harvest festivals at the kids' schools, finding costumes for the children, oh, and my sister-in-law's baby shower, and hosting Thanksgiving for the extended family, and preparing for advent and Christmas, oh, and while your at it, throw in a 5K or two. So like in January? Call me? Maybe?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Almost Wordless Wednesday--Chester

Chester has been with our family for about 6 years.  He was given to Boogie as a party favor when he attended a birthday party when he was about a year old. Little did we know that this party favor would be a beloved animal friend and best friend to our oldest. He sat unnoticed for almost a year before Boogie fell in love with him.  We think he's a Cheetah and when Boogs asked me his name I suggested Chester.

Chester has been Boogie's best animal friend. He has sparked an interest in anything that has to do with animals. Boogie wants to be a animal biologist or a zoologist when he grows up. He loves studying anything that has to do with animals, especially African cats.  He has become known as the "animal expert" with his classmates. I love that this simple little gift given as a party favor has inspired my son to read, explore, watch documentaries, and learn about animals. What a great gift for him.

Chester usually finds himself abandoned in various rooms in the house. There have been nights where he sleeps alone because Boogie has forgotten about him, but Chester always finds his way back to Boogie.  Just the other day I found Chester propped on the bannister waiting patiently for his buddy to come home from school. And tucked underneath Chester is Boogie's yellow blankie, the same blanket in which Boogie was swaddled when he was infant.  Chester and Yellow Blankie are reminders that even though my sweet Boogie is growing up, he is still my baby.

Chester and Yellow Blankie waiting patiently for Boogie to come home from school

Monday, September 23, 2013

Wedding Celebration for a Former Student

The Bride and I at her wedding reception
Last March I had the honor of attending the wedding ceremony for one of my former students. I first met her when she was in the fourth grade and it was so long ago, she knew me by my maiden name.  Thirteen years later, this young lady became a bride.

I reconnected with E. about four years ago via Facebook. I usually keep to a rule about not friending former students on Facebook until they are at least 18 years old.  But E. friend requested me and I was delighted to catch up with her.  She offered to babysit and she began babysitting for us. I found her reliable, dependable, hard working, and diligent. She was wonderful with my children and they loved having her over.  At one point she even became my mother's helper when I was put on modified bed rest when I was pregnant with Mr. Bananas. She was a life saver taking care of the children and helping me with the housework.  But all good things eventually come to an end and when E. became pregnant with her first baby I just could not ask her to keep taking care of my children as it was time for her to take care of herself and her little baby.
The Bride with her Maid of Honor and Bridesmaids

However, we stayed in touch. I attended her baby shower and I was able to visit her in the hospital after she had her baby. We stayed connected through text messages, Facebook, and phone calls.  I had watched her over the last four years to grow into the woman she is today.  She has juggled a job, a baby, and home life.

I was honored when she asked if we would not only attend her wedding but also include my big kids in the wedding party. I was happy to share in her excitement and be there for her. I have watched her grow from an elementary student to a young woman who attends college, takes excellent care of her young son, be a wife and create a family with her husband, plus work full-time. Not an easy task as all of us wives and mothers know!

My big kids and the Bride
E. has done an excellent job and it has been wonderful to be a part of her life. Just yesterday I was able to stop by and bring her a belated wedding gift.  I saw her beautiful home, saw her beautiful son, and we were able to catch up for a few minutes.  It has been a gift to be a part of her life. E. I am so proud of you and all that you have accomplished. It's not always easy, but always worth it. Love you!

The blanket I made for her and her husband.
Another view of the blanket

Monday, September 16, 2013

Bonking at the Half Marathon

Dad and I before the race
Last Sunday I ran in a half marathon with my dad. His first, my second.  I have been too frustrated and embarrassed by my performance I haven't written about it.  But of course I have to write. It's the only way I can let go of the frustration.

I will admit that it wasn't until the last month or so was I feeling it on my training runs. The first four weeks I think I was tired and I realize I hate running in hot and humid weather.  I was debating on whether or not to run the Parks Half Marathon. I was going to use it as a training run for another half in October. But when no one else was interested I decided to bag it until my dad showed interest. We decided to run it together and I put it back on my racing schedule. I was very excited to run with my dad.  I have always (and still do) looked for affirmation and approval from my parents. I was excited to be doing something that my dad enjoys doing. My dad enjoys running. Over the last 9 years I have asked him to run a race or two with me, 5Ks or 5 milers, and he kept saying how his knees hurt and wasn't up for it.  I kept running and I kept racing.  He ran with the wounded warriors at work and paced them through some 10 milers.  My dad is a life long runner and has never run in a half marathon. It's kind of crazy that I ran one before he did, but he was never interested until now.

My friend ran her first half and totally kicked my butt coming in 24 minutes ahead of me.
It's cool, I'll catch her next time ;)
I struggled through a lot of my training runs and was finally refitted with a new pair of shoes. The new shoes were amazing and I was able to run without knee, hip, and ankle pain.  As the date loomed closer the more excited I became. For the first time ever I ran 13 miles and then a week later 14.51 miles for training runs. They were slower than race pace, but everything I read said that was to be expected. I was just working on endurance.
Just happy to be coming in under my own volition
For this half marathon I added hill training and interval training. I participated in a run clinic to work on my form and I ran more than I ever have in my life.

The day of the race I was excited and nervous. I made sure I had everything ready. In trying to prepare for getting out of the house I realized I didn't have time to make my usual running breakfast of rice and beans in a tortilla and went with almonds and a bagel. I've eaten that before and thought it would sustain me. I also drank a small bottle of water and I was ready to go.

My dad, friend, and I made it to the race start. It was in the low 60s and cloudy when we started. It even started to drizzle just a tiny little bit just as we passed the race clock at the start of the race. It was still a little too warm for me, but manageable. I've been in races where it was 80 degrees and sunny at the start.

My dad could easily have come in an hour before we did.
He looked great the whole time.
Dad and I decided to start with the 2:40 pace group so that we would start slower in the beginning and go for a negative split.  We planned to pick up the pace around the halfway point.  I had the beginnings of plantar fasciitis and foolishly (?) took an Aleve before we left the house.  I usually stay away from aspirin and whatnot for long runs, but I knew that I would be running faster and I wanted to stave off any unwanted pain.  I spoke to the 2:40 pacer and she said she would keep a 12:12 mile. I thought that was more than doable and followed her when it was our turn to start. It was crowded at the start and it took some time to move beyond the crowd of people. When my Garmin went off at mile 1 I realized we were starting way too fast for what I thought would be a comfortable pace.  We hit the first mile in the low elevens and the next three miles we were in the high tens and low elevens. Now my dad naturally runs about 3 minutes faster per mile than I do.  He was more than comfortable with this pace. I was concerned that it was too fast. I even stopped to walk to fix my gait a few times. My gait was off because of the plantar fasciitis.  At mile 4 I decided to walk up the hill known as The Silencer. I was warned about it and decided with my nagging pain to take it at a fast walk versus a run. It was a good decision. We were up and over in no time. However, between mile 4 and 5 I looked up into the sky because I thought it was raining and when I rubbed my hand over my face I realized that I had small salt balls coming off my face. That's not a good sign.  I was a little concerned but we kept running. After an hour of running I refueled with sport beans and got a little pick up at mile 6 and I was feeling better. Dad estimated that we would finish well within our goal of 2:30 and 2:40. The pacer was still quite a ways ahead of us, but we were fine.  We saw my mom, my husband, and my kids around mile 8 and it was so nice to see them. Hubby even had some fresh orange slices ready to give to me. I thought it would help pick me up. But it didn't. It began to unravel for me at mile 8 when I felt the need to pee and couldn't when I got into the port-a-potty.  I tried again at mile 10 and was becoming really concerned that I couldn't go.  I had been drinking water at every station which were stationed just about 2 miles apart. I should have taken in some Gatorade, but it makes my stomach hurt so I just kept to drinking water and pouring it down my back.  My dad didn't seemed concerned about my inability to urinate so we kept running.  By this time the 2:45 pacer had passed us and I couldn't keep up. I kept falling further and further behind.  I just couldn't do it. We saw Mom, Hubby, and the kids just before mile 12 and that was nice. They cheered and gave us fist bumps and I loved them for that. They are the best!

At the mile 12 aid station the medic saw me as I passed her and said, "Get water NOW!" I must have looked terrible. I didn't tell her my concerns because I only had a mile to go. It was the worst mile of my life. I kept thinking I run a mile at least once a day. I just have to keep going. But I couldn't. I was doing a lot more walking than running. I kept telling Dad to go on ahead because he was feeling fantastic and I just wanted to suffer alone. I remember looking at the path at mile 12.3 thinking I could just lie down right now and not get up. I could curl up and be content to not finish this race. Running sucks.  And then I remembered my friend m00se saying, just enjoy the run. I tried. I really, really tried. I had not only hit the wall, I had slammed into it and it knocked me on my butt. I had bonked.  I saw the minutes on my watch tick by and knew then I had blown my goal and I was not even going to come close to my first half marathon time.  I was beside myself. I knew my dad was frustrated. I was very frustrated and all I wanted to do was lie down and sleep. I had never felt that way before.

In retrospect I had bonked. I looked it up later and all of the signs of wanting to just curl up and lie down and of not being able to move clearly indicated I had bonked. I spoke to my spin instructor who is also a distance runner. I told her what happened and she told me I had bonked. She said that salt balls coming off my face and my inability to use the bathroom showed that I was dehydrated. She also thinks that my kidneys were starting to shut down and that I should have gotten IV fluids after the race. My neighbor, a nurse, did not think it had gone that far, but that I was definitely dehydrated.  Come to find out, I was not only dehydrated I was also way under fueled. I found my mostly uneaten bagel in the car when we returned from the race. I had forgotten to eat. I guess I got caught up in the excitement of running with my dad and the thought of getting a PR, I had forgotten to finish my breakfast. I was running on a handful of almonds and a few bites of a bagel. I am the first to tell people to fuel up before a run and what to eat. I have run so often I know exactly what will carry me through each distance. And for this crucial race I did not follow my own advice and simply did not remember to eat. Ridiculous! Frustrating! Irritating! I could have done so much better.

Completing our first half together
I did finish the race by sheer determination. It took every ounce of strength and energy I had to cross that finish line running. My dad and I crossed at 2:51:47. It was not my best time and it was by far the worst running experience I have ever had. It took most of the day to recover. I cried when I got home. I cried for a few days after.  The worst part of the race was disappointing my dad. And I know I did. I could see it on his face and I could hear it in his voice. And it was pretty much confirmed when we had talked about doing another one in the future and after the race he's not really sure he wants to do another one. He was feeling good and looking forward to this race. And now, he doesn't really want to do another one.  It's a bummer. It should have been a good experience for him and it wasn't.

Dad and I post race
As I was finishing up that mile I kept thinking there is no way I can ever do another half marathon, much less a marathon. This run is killing me. But I have run 13+ miles before and never felt that way. But now I know what I did wrong. And now that I have come to my senses, of course I'll run another half marathon. I actually have my eye on another one next month and another one scheduled in April.  If the plantar fasciitis in my left foot can heal in the next few weeks I'll sign up for the one in October. If not, well, this certainly won't be my last half marathon.  I'll just keep running, because that's what I do. I just keep running.

I wish I had the following verse with me on the last five miles of the race:

Our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! (2 Corinthians 4:17)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Almost Wordless Wednesday--Fun Run

Lolo and Lola with the kids before the Fun Run
My son's school holds an annual 1.5 mile fun run. They've been doing it for about 6 years now. We participated last year. I pushed a stroller while running with Buggy and Bananas in it while Boogie ran the course.  Hubby was out of town for work that week and it was just me and the kiddos. This year, Hubby was unable to get home from work in time and my folks stepped in to run it with the big kids while I ran it with Mr. Bananas. I'm pretty sure he was the youngest participant.

The big kids did really well and ran most of it with very little walking. I never saw them once they passed us.  I stayed with Bananas the whole time and he did really well. He is the most excited about running and may very well be my running buddy when he is older.  He ran most of the course and walked very little. He never asked to be carried. He did ask for his shirt to be taken off halfway through. He had his own cheering section any time we passed a group of people. At the halfway point we passed the table of volunteers who were recording times and they cheered him on.  Throughout the run he kept saying, "Go Big Boy! Go Big Boy! Go Mommy! Go Yem, Go Yen! Go Big Boy! Go Yo-Yo, Go Yo-Ya!" He cheered on each of us as he ran along, even if no one else was near enough to hear him.

Me with the next generation of runners
It was fun evening followed by DJ and dancing on the school grounds.

Mr. Bananas on the first loop of the Fun Run

Second loop of the Fun Run

Hey You! You should be running!

Dancing at the After Party

Big Kids Dancing Together

Playing in the dirt after their run

Friday, September 6, 2013

My First Half Marathon

Packing for the race
I am two days away from running my second half marathon and for some reason I have avoided writing about my first half marathon. There is no reason for it. I finished faster than I had hoped, it was a great run, my kids and husband were there to cheer me on, my friend A. ran the 5K portion of the race, and my friend S. ran the half-marathon and cheered me on to the finish. It was an awesome day and an awesome race for a first time half marathon.  It was also a women's only half marathon and for my first, I liked that idea. I had read on various blogs and reviews that a women's only race is different from the co-ed races. The women tended to be more encouraging while running.

I was really lucky that my first half marathon was just a few miles away from my best friend's house.  My family and I attended Saturday evening mass at a church that was at the halfway point between our house and her house. We met her after for dinner for some yummy mexican food and then I loaded my stuff into her car, said my goodbyes to my kids and husband, and spent the night at my friend's house.  I was nervous and fidgety.  The night before the race I prepared everything I thought I would need for the race.  I had a horrible time trying to fall asleep because of nerves. Hubby texted me around 10pm and told me to get some sleep. I finally fell asleep and slept well and then woke up trying to figure out where I was.

Buggy getting a high five from a runner with Mr. Bananas watching from the side.
A. and I gathered our stuff, ate our breakfast and made our way to the race. The weather was so, so cold. It was in the 50s. I didn't want to wear too many clothes and be too hot, so I did my best to keep moving. Since A's race didn't start until after mine she graciously took my stuff when I went to the corral to get ready. I was so nervous and thought I would puke before I even started.  I ran into another woman while waiting in line for the bathroom. She looked equally nervous and asked me if this was my first half marathon. I could tell by her nervous demeanor, the fact that she wore her race shirt, and the new hydration belt we got in our goody bag that she might be a new runner. As a note, most veteran runners won't wear anything new on race day.  They like to run with what they already know...running outfit, hydration system, etc.  No one likes surprise chafe on a long race.  We chatted with each other and wished each other luck.

A., me, and S. after the race.
When I got to the corral I decided to follow one of the pace groups. After one last trip out to the port-a-potty and the national anthem we were off. And then I moved to the side and out of the way and stopped. My running app on my phone was not starting and I really, really wanted to keep track of my time since I don't wear a Garmin. I wanted to analyze my running splits after the race.  After about a quarter mile or so I finally got it to work.  And I was off, but much further behind the pace group than I would have liked.  The weather was perfect and I ran. After the first 3 miles I told myself that the next 10 were nothing but a training run and I could do that.  My brother-in-law later pointed out that my "training run" was after I had run 3 miles.  Yeah, yeah.  By mile three I could feel a large blister forming on the bottom of my foot and all I could think was I can't stop, I have 10 more miles to run. I powered through and tried to ignore the incessant rubbing on my foot.

The kiddos at the race and my cheering section.
The course was hilly with lots of ups and downs. I don't think I did enough hill training to prepare for them.  I remember powering up a hill fist pumping as I listened to P!nk raise her glass. One of the older ladies warned me to slow it down, but I was fired up and feeling good.  We ran through several neighborhoods.  After the motivating crowds and spectators at a recent running festival, the lack of spectators was kind of disappointing.  Thank goodness for good music.  I did manage to find my pace group and kept up with them for a while and then I passed them.

I knew my family would be at mile 6 and I kept running. I wanted to see them. When I did, I sprinted towards them.  My husband waited until the elite runners had gone by before allowing the kids to stand and put their hands out for high fives from the runners.  My kids loved it!  They loved the attention and later throughout the race several women told me they loved seeing my kids at the half way point.  It was there that I decided to make my first pit stop and that was a mistake. The good part was that I got to talk to my family for 15-20 minutes while I waited in line for the lone port-a-potty and mile 6. The bad news was that I had to wait 15-20 minutes to use a port-a-potty and it slowed down my pace by a lot. I saw my pace group run by and I never caught up with them again.  I could have kicked myself later. Not half a mile down the road was a set of 3 port-a-potties without a line. I had scoured the website to find info on the facilities. I remember reading it on one email and never found it again.  So I didn't know that  I could have run a few more minutes and then been on my way. Oh, well. It was a learning experience.

After mile 6 I tackled the steepest hill I had ever run.  I knew it was coming and gritted my teeth for it.  On the hill there were some spectators and there was a sign that said, "Make this hill your b*tch." And I did. I ran it and I conquered it only to be faced with a longer, not as steep hill right after.  The cop helping out at the top of the first hill was really encouraging as we all faced that monster.  But I have to admit, by mile 10, I think I was done.  I kept running, walking some, running some more.  At one point, a woman wearing her Boston 2013 jacket called me by name and shouted out encouragement (our names were printed on our bibs). This was just a few weeks after the Boston bombing and I teared up thinking, wow, she just ran Boston and she's cheering me on? Inspirational!  She cheered for each of us as we ran by her.

After mile 10, I ran next to a woman and played cat and mouse for a while. I'd catch up to her when she started walking and tell her to keep going and that she was doing great. I'd pass her, run for a while, lose steam, and start to walk. She would run up to me and give me some encouragement to run again. We did this until I lost her around mile 11 or 12.  There was another woman I used as my pacer and tried to catch up with her. We ended up running the last 2 miles together. We hit another hill at mile 12 and decided to walk up it. We were spent.  At the top of the hill we started running together and talked and encouraged each other as we ran.  We talked about how we started to hate those that shouted that we were close to the finish line, knowing darn well we were still more than a mile way from our destination. It was the longest mile I ever ran.

As we entered the chute to finish the race Hubby and the kids were at the beginning. Buggy and Boogie jumped in to run to the finish with me. Unfortunately, Buggy bit it after a few strides in and everyone told Boogie to go back and help her. I waffled about running back to her or to keep going. Hubby told me to keep going and he would take care of it. Boogie was disappointed to be told to go back to his sister. I think that's my biggest regret in the race. I should have grabbed Buggy and carried her into the finish with me and I should have let Boogie finish the race with me.

We finished! Sporting our medals :)
My racing buddy and I sprinted to the finish and she beat me by several seconds. I heard my friend S. screaming from the sidelines and that gave me more motivation to keep going. I sprinted in and finished the race.  I was given my finisher's medal and someone walked me to the side and took off my racing chip for me. Thank goodness for that, I didn't have the energy to bend down and do it myself.  I met my family and my friends at the finish line, happy, proud, sore, and exhausted.  I finished 45 minutes faster than I dared hope. I finished in 2:44:20.  Not the best time, but I'm still proud, because I trained, I made it to the start line, and I finished.

I found the two women I had been running with for the last part of the race. I told Joy it was a joy to run with her and I thanked for pushing me the last two miles. The other woman Hadley told me that I pushed her to run faster and thanked me and I thanked her for her encouragement along the road. I never found the new runner Deborah whom I had met earlier in the morning. But I saw that she finished with the pace group with whom I couldn't keep up, darn single port-a-potty line. But awesome for her for keeping up!

As I begin to rest for my race on Sunday, I'm a little nervous. I feel the beginnings of plantar fasciitis in left heel.  I desperately want to go for a run kind of like a last minute cram session before a big final. But I've trained hard and I've trained moderately well. My training times haven't been great, but if I rest my foot for the next two days and give my tired legs a rest I should be fine. I'm also running with my dad and he is a great pacer. I look forward to running with him. We decided to run sans music and headphones. Just him and me and 2,000 other runners.  It should be a good race. I have to finish within 2:45 before they shut down the course. Even though my training times have been lousy, I have faith that I'll make it in at least 2:44:20.  Happy Running!