Monday, December 06, 2010

My Tiny Dancer!

Kylie danced in The Nutcracker this weekend.  It was put on by her dance studio, Curtain Call Dance Academy.  This was their 5th year.  Kylie had two parts - she was a mouse in the Battle Scene and a nymph in the Lemonade Sea. 
Practice started in September and was nearly every Saturday for several hours.  Kylie really put a lot of time into it but never complained.  She seemed to love every minute of it.  And it showed in her performance. 
I was working backstage during the second show and wearing headphones which allowed me to get directions from the director and stage hands.  While Kylie was finishing her Battle Scene, I heard the owner of the company who was working in the sound booth tell the director how cute Kylie was.  And the director said "Yes, she is.  And she's a good listener and hard worker.  She's the perfect triple play."  So nice to hear other people talk about how great your kid is!




I think Kylie's eyes were really opened to how much goes into putting on a show like this.  On our way home, she remarked that the dancers are just a little part of the show, that the director, backstage crew, parents, sound and lighting people do so much too.  It was nice to see her start to understand the bigger picture and appreciate what others are doing to make it such a good show. 
Well, enought writing about it, here are the videos!

Battle Scene

Lemonade Sea

Nutcracker Finale

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Age Group Awards for me AND mom!!

Yup, couldn't be more proud of my mom. She started running this summer to lose weight and improve her cardio health.  She got hooked and let me talk her into running this small 5k today. 126 people ran/walked/rolled it (it was a fundraiser for the Indianapolis wheelchair rugby team).



Weather was perfect, low 50's and sunny. Mom took my advice and wore short sleeves and capris but was complaining at the start that she was cold. I kept assuring her that she would warm up fast. Countdown started and we were off. She wanted me to run my race and then double back to bring her in. So I did that. I can tell that I have raced in months because I was struggling pretty fast at my normal 5k RP of 7:30. So I slowed it down to 8:00 and held on to that. Finished with my worst 5k time ever, 25:18. Oh well, not bad for only putting in about 20 miles TOTAL since my marathon in September.

I turned around and jogged back up the course to find mom. Found her about 1/2 mile away and ran back with her. She was hold on to a steady pace but was working really hard, didn't want to chat at all! She finished strong with a time of 39:30! Her goal was to break 45:00!

We cooled down and enjoyed some post race apples and cookies while we waited for the awards to start. I figured I was out of awards contention since I bonked so bad and saw a few ladies pass me. Last year I had a 3rd place overall finish here and the year before won my age group so I was feeling a little bummed. But I knew there was a chance that mom could pull out an award.

So I was surprised when they called my name for 2nd place in my AG (got a key chain). But the thrill of my day was when they called my mom's name! She was so shocked that she actually jumped out of her seat. She won a pumpkin pie. But the huge smile on her face was the prize for us all.

As we were walking through the parking lot, mom was proudly holding her pie. And she asked me "Do they have 5k's in December?? Because I want to do another one right away." So I think we're doing a Jingle Bell run next month together. She's hooked.

Proud of you mom!!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sunday, September 19, 2010

USAF Marathon Race Report


Short and Sweet Story: I planned for a 4 hour marathon but some injuries reared their ugly heads and I finished with a 4:58.45.

Longer, more entertaining story:

This was it, the starting line of my first full marathon. I’m surprisingly calm considering everything that I have gone through to get to this starting line. Background: I had signed up for a Full last fall but had to injury default after suffering a hip and pelvic stress fracture last summer. I was on full rest, no exercise at all for 8 week, then allowed to slowly build up my mileage. I also developed Achilles Tendonitis within a few months of running again followed by torn cartilage in my hip in January. These injuries were healed pretty quickly but my sports doctor recommended that I not run more than three times a week to stay healthy. It took time but I built my mileage up and did a ½ in May and then started a training plan for a full. Training went exceptionally well, even considering the endless heat and humidity we had this summer. Since I was only able to run 3 times a week, the highest mileage I got in during a week was 36 miles. But since my speed work and long runs had gone so well during all my training, I had high hopes of finishing the marathon under 4:00. Then in August, I suffered the beginnings of ITBS on my left leg. I took time off to heal, did plenty of yoga and foam rolling, which for the most part, kept me either pain free or moderate pain during my runs. Two weeks before the marathon, during a 14 mile taper run, I felt what seemed like a knife stabbing me in my foot, Planters Fasciitis. I rested the entire next week, then ran an easy 6 where I had some discomfort. I pushed this aside and thought that my training and mental attitude would pull me through. I took the week prior to the marathon off again and rested. So the 2 weeks prior to my marathon, I had run a combined total of 20 miles.

My husband and I had committed to running my first marathon together so we picked the USAF Marathon in Dayton, Ohio. We heard It was a smaller marathon with lots of pageantry plus it was only 2 hours from home. Both our fathers are AF vets so we thought that would be a nice way to honor them as well. Brett’s parents (IL’s) came along with us which allowed our two children were able to experience the marathon atmosphere as well.

We started off Friday night by having dinner at PF Changs and meeting up with a RWOF friend, Maria – 13.1RunR – and enjoyed some runners fellowship and good food. IL’s had already been to the expo and picked up our packets. Our other friends were coming in later that night, they were running the HM, as was Maria. I would have liked to have been in bed earlier then we were but it just didn’t happen. I did sleep well so I was thankful for that.

Alarm when off at 5:00 and I was up and ready to go. Brett and I left at 5:45 to get to the start line. All our research said to get there early because traffic was a bear. They weren’t kidding. We took the website’s advice and used an alternate entrance but were still stuck in traffic for an hour. We get packed and hurry to the start line, which was close to a mile away. By the time we check our bags and use the bathroom, the national anthem had been sung and B-52 was flying over (VERY COOL!!). We gave up an chance of seeing IL’s and the kids before starting so we just hurried across the start line, in the very back of the pack. We pass the walkers and start to settle into a smooth pace. Another RWOF found me at this point, kakarot, so we chatted for a few minute and he sped up out of sight. There was a large, long hill from mile 1-2 but I’ve done my hill work (plus ran Hood to Coast in August so no mid-west hills were going to scare me!) so it wasn’t too bad. At mile 3, the 10K runners split off so the crowd lessened. The water stations were all very well staffed and organized, I can’t say enough about how well that was done or how much we appreciated their upbeat, encouraging attitudes. I had my Nathan Hand-held filled with Gatorade so I passed the first few stations. We were starting to get into our planned pace, 9:00, which for some reason seemed harder than it should be. I just shrugged this off as nerves since we had been so rushed to get to the start. This area of the course had some rolling hills but they weren’t challenging at all. There was an overpass that was a little rough but again, nothing too bad.

We left the base at this point and entered into a small town called Fairborn. Now, the USAF Marathon offered shuttle buses at the starting area to take supporters up to this area, mile 9-11, so people could easily see their runners. IL’s were planning on doing this so I was really looking forward to seeing the kids. We enter the town and it seemed like the whole town was on the road! Everyone was cheering, high-fiving, calling out our names and just having a great time. What a rush, I felt like a rock star! I keep looking for the kids but don’t see them. I had my iPhone because I was listening to music (don’t hate me but it was ok per the rules to have headphones) so I called MIL to see where they were. Turns out the buses filled up before they could get on one so they would just have to see us at the finish line. This really bummed me out. About mile 11, I noticed that my left shoelace came untied so I stopped to tie it. I also tore the KT Tape that I had on my foot/calf for my PF off because it was peeling off and I was afraid of developing a blister. Bad mistake, as soon as I stood up I felt a sharp pain in my foot. My heart sank. I watched the 4:00 pace group pass and Brett is encouraging me to hurry up to catch them. We pass a medical tent at this point and I ask if they have KT Tape, which they don’t. Ok, I just have to deal with this, it will probably loosen as I run.

I continue to hydrate well and take my Chomps like I always have in my training runs. Brett refills my water bottle several times so I know I’m staying hydrated as it starts to heat up. But at the ½ way point, I just feel completely defeated. My foot hurts, my stomach was upset and my mental attitude was shot. I stop to walk and Brett is shocked. I explain what was going on and get teared up. I keep saying that I’m not going to make 4 hours, please don’t be disappointed in me, run ahead if you want, I’ll be fine. He gets serious and tells me that I have to stop being emotional because that was messing with my stomach and that I needed to refocus, we’d get to the finish line together. So I do this and actually feel much better. I was concerned about not disappointing him (something that I didn’t even realized I cared about before this) that I was mentally going in the tank. Once I realized that he didn’t care what our time was, he just wanted me to do my best, then I relaxed and actually started to enjoy myself. I turned off my Iphone and started to pay attention to the other runners and the whole marathon environment. And I felt calm.

We started a new plan of walking for a 1/10th of a mile and running 9/10th ‘s. This works good for the next 5 or so miles. I just concentrate on searching for each mile marker (DH was wearing the Garmin so I didn’t have a real since of distance). I saw many, many runners stop and stretch in this area. It was getting hot, we were on a runway without any shade. But I wasn’t feeling too hot. Each medical tent that we passed had a few runners in it, we were also passed by numerous golf carts with runners in the back. I told myself that I wasn’t going to finish like that, I just needed to keep moving. We got off the runway and into some shade, which was very pleasant. We’re passed by the 4:20 group and I just shrugged at DH, like ”I’m sorry, I can’t keep up with them.” I had resolved that I was going to enjoy this race regardless of my finishing time. We pass mile 20 and I realized that every step I take is further then I’ve ever gone before. By this time, we were running ½ mile at a time and walking a 1/10th. I start to feel a little foggy about mile 22 and DH kept a good eye on my gait and face. He’s pushing for me to drink some Gatorade which I do. We’re merged with the back of the HM pack at this point (the ½ started 75 minutes after the Full did). I do remember at mile 23, a lady who had a table of cookies, candy and beer set up. She shouted out “cookies, Mike and Ikes and BEER”. Brett did a double take and shouted “Did you say beer?!?” and ran back to get a glass. The HMers were laughing at him and I just said “That’s my husband!” I also start to pass and be passed by the same few full marathoners. One man in particular was very inspiring, he was quite older and his calves were cramping so badly that he could hardly walk much less run. But he kept going and going.

The last few miles were just a blur, I was out of it and was just doing my best to put one foot in front of the other. Brett was doing great in encouraging me but also pushing me as we both wanted to finish in under 5 hours. We reach the base and know that we’re very close to the finish. I call IL’s to let them know that we were about 10 mins away. We can’t see the finish line because it was behind some large, vintage planes but we know it’s there. I’m running at this point and resolve to not walk again until I cross the finish line. I come around a corner and sudden hear someone scream my name “MARY!!”, I look over and see my dear friend, John, who surprised me by running in this marathon to support me! I instantly start crying while Brett says “Yes, John and his family are here but calm down so you can finish, we have less then 2 minutes to cross this finish line!” So I keep running and by now the crowds are heavy and we can see the finish. We spot the kids and Brett runs to them, pulling them over the fence so they can run with us. Kylie (6) runs with me while Brett carries Matthew (4). We cross the finish line as a family and I start bawling. I hug Kylie and thank her for being there and for all her support in my training. Brett and I go through the medal shoot and are awarded our medals by some Air Force officer (not sure of his ranking, I was too overwhelmed). He put my medal on me, shook my hand and told me that I did a wonderful job. I can hardly say anything but I thank him. Then he asked if I needed medical attention – guess I looked pretty bad! I said no and walked on. The mylar blanket lady asked me the same thing but I was feeling better by this point. Our best friends, who ran the ½ found us and we all celebrated/cried together. I had watched both of them and Brett cross the finish line last September in the marathon that I couldn’t run in so all of us coming together at the finish line was very emotional. 13.1RunR was also there, she got some terrific pictures of us running to the finish line. I so appreciated her sticking around for a few hours while we finished up our race. Thanks Maria, you’re the best!!!

We make our way though the food area, grab some pizza and go to find the rest of our group. I never find John again but did talk to his wife on the phone. He had planned on finding us at the start and running the whole race with us but with how late we got to the start, it just wasn’t possible. He did finish in a terrific time of 4:34, even with terrible foot injuries that reared their ugly head at mile 6. I do wish that we could have run together, we could have commiserated our injuries!

I’m not sure what caused my early issues, why I felt bad so early on. Maybe it was because I took such an easy taper while I was healing. Maybe that hurt my overall ability to run. It wasn’t a dehydration issue, I drank both Gatorade and water the entire race. I was feeling bad before the heat really kicked in. I carb-loaded plenty, starting early in the week. I can only think that I just didn’t have the weekly mileage that I needed to complete a strong marathon. I’m going to take plenty of time to rest and heal while cross training with swimming/biking/elliptical. My next race isn’t until Feb and that’s a HM. So I hopefully will be doing much better by then. I do want to do another marathon but not until I can safely add more miles into my week.

Thank you for reading this far and for all the encouragement you’ve given me through this whole year-long process. And I gotta give major thanks to Brett – he calmed me down, readjusted our pace and encouraged me every step of the last 13 miles. Honey, I love you and you really did get me across that finish line. Regardless of my finishing time, I still finished and am a MARATHONER!!



Here are our splits:

Mile 1: 9:19

Mile 2: 9:38 (huge hill)

Mile 3: 8:43 (downhill)

Mile 4: 8:52

Mile 5: 9:03

Mile 6: 9:17

Mile 7: 9:14

Mile 8: 9:18

Mile 9: 9:22

Mile 10: 9:33

Mile 11: 9:50 (tied shoe)

Mile 12: 11:06

Mile 13: 10:35

Mile 14: 14:28 (bathroom stop, talked to Brett about re-adjusting)

Mile 15: 10:24

Mile 16: 12:06

Mile 17: 11:58

Mile 18: 13:52

Mile 19: 13:15

Mile 20: 12:29

Mile 21: 12:12

Mile 22: 15:05 (longer walk break due to some dizziness)

Mile 23: 13:46

Mile 24: 13:47

Mile 25: 13:59

Mile 26: 13:23

0.2: 3:30 ish (Brett didn’t stop it as soon as we crossed)

Final Time: 4:58.44

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hood to Coast 2010

It’s 8:00 AM on Friday morning and I’m standing at the “timberline” part-way up Mount Hood in Oregon. The start line is here, music is blaring, teams were taking pictures and sponsors had their tents up. The parking lot is filled with vans, most of them decorated with van paint that listed team names and other sayings. One saying that was very popular was “Road Kill”. Hmm, were we really going to count dead animals on this adventure??
This Adventure started back in May. Hood to Coast is a 197 mile relay race that starts at the timberline of Mt Hood (elevation 6000 ft) and ends at the Pacific Ocean. This was it’s 29th year. 1000 teams of up to 12 people compete each year. My sister, who lives in Portland, has run it two times and this year she invited Brett and I to run on her team, Crampons and Crayons (it was made up of mountain climbers and teachers). We knew it was an once in a lifetime chance, Runners World had this race listed as one of their “must-do” races. For a sneak peak at the relay, visit www.hoodtocoastmovie.com. This will give you an idea of what we were experiencing.

We live in Indiana so we flew out to Oregon on Thursday evening. Our plane into LAX was late so we had to literally sprint a mile to our correct terminal. The employee at the gate was paging us as we ran up to her, thank goodness we made our connection. We could not risk not getting to Portland on Thursday night since our team van was leaving at 6:00 AM to get to the starting line. As I sat down on the plane, I thought “well, that was the first leg of my relay race!”

We got into Portland on time and Sarah and her boyfriend, Mike who was our team captain were waiting for us. We head to their condo and go right to bed. With the time difference, it was 3:30 AM Indiana time.

We’re up and getting ready at 5:00 AM. Brett and I repack our running gear, double check to make sure we have everything we thought we could need. The weather was cool and the reports said it would be in the 30’s at the starting line. What a nice break for us, since all summer we’ve been training for our fall marathon in 90+ degree heat and high humidity! The rest of our van arrives (we have two vans, 6 runners in a van) so we head east to Mt. Hood, about an hour away. Our other team members were Jill and Jordan. Jill was a strong runner who had an amazingly positive attitude which came in handy many times. Jordan volunteered at this race last year and decided she needed to start running so she could be part of a team in 2010. So she had been training hard for many months. She was friendly and fun as well.

The road was a little busy with lots of mini vans and cargo vans. All had their team numbers taped on the front and back windows. Most were decorated in some way. As we’re driving we can see the mountain and I keep saying to Brett, “You’re going to be running DOWN that huge mountain soon!” Brett had leg #2, which was the bottom ½ of the mountain. Mike had decided on our legs based on our 10k times, running experience and desire. I had a decently fast 10k time and really wanted to be challenged so he assigned me leg 5, which was considered the 2nd hardest set of legs of the entire relay. Brett had the 3rd most difficult set of legs. Here is the statement about the difficulty ratings from the H2C website: To determine leg ratings, distance was considered negligible, with elevation drops and gains considered the primary influence. The assumption is that in relation to an "Easg" leg, an "Moderate" is 10% harder, an "Hard" is 20% harder, and a "Very Hard" is 30% harder.



I had 2 VH and and Easy. Gulp.





We arrive at the top of the mountain with plenty of time to look around and take pictures. But before we knew it, It was 8:15 and time for Jill to start the race for our team. Her leg, rated VH, was 5.64 miles long with a 2000 foot elevation drop! We’ve heard leg 1 was notorious for shredding quads so she took it conservatively and finished healthy and strong. We drove the van down to the 1st exchange point and waited for Jill. Brett changed into his cow costume (we had heard costumes were popular in the race so came prepared). And they were right, everyone started taking pictures of Brett, including the “Team Cougars” who thought he was about the best thing in the race (had to keep my eye on these ladies!! LOL).


Soon Jill came running through the exchange area and handed the slap bracelet off to Brett. FYI – we thought the bracelet would have a timing chip in It to record each individual leg but it didn’t, the only timing device was a chip that the last runner wore on the last leg. We recorded each runners time and our team accumulative time on a clipboard with a stop watch (DO NOT TOUCH THE STOP WATCH!!). Brett took off like a bat outta hell and we hopped in the van with Jill to get to the next exchange. As we drive past “The Cow”, we yelled out the window for encouragement. It sure looked like he was flying! Turns out he was, he finished his 5.67 mile leg, with a 1500 foot decent with a 6:13 min mile pace!


At exchange 3, Mike was suited up in his womens pajamas outfit and was ready for the hand off. We heard a few people in the crowd laugh and say “The Cow passed off to the PJ guy!” We were having a blast already. Mike’s leg was not as steep and took him through a little town. Next up was Jordan with leg 4, her longest and most difficult leg. It was on a major 4 lane highway with rolling hills and was more then 7 miles long, which was a long ways for a newbie runner. We stopped twice along the way to encourage her. She finished strong with a smile on her face.



I was up next, leg 5. I had studied my map and elevation chart. The leg was 6.08 miles long with a steady downhill for the first ½ and then a 3 mile climb, with a 400 foot elevation increase. I started on the major highway which was unsettling, even with the large shoulder that I was running on. Just having huge semi-trucks hauling double trailers filled with massive logs passing me at high rates of speed freaked me out a bit. I started off probably too fast, reaching the ½ way point in 25 mins. Now the route turned off onto a single lane side road. The only vehicles on this road were other relay vans driving to the next exchange point so I felt safer. BTW, I was wearing a pink tutu as my costume so I was getting some yells and encouragement from other runners. I was passed or “Road Killed” as I later found out, by a few other runners who apparently train on hills much larger then we have in Indiana. My goal time was 50 mins and I also wanted to finish the hills without walking. The last mile was torture, a 200 foot elevation increase in only 1 mile. But I put my head down and pushed through to the end. I was darn happy to see my sister, in her purple tutu, waiting in the exchange box for me! Finishing time for my first leg was 53:25.



I was a little discouraged about being passed by several runners until Brett and the other team members let me know that all the teams put their best hill climbers and strongest runners on this set of legs. So I was going up against the strongest runners in the event and doing pretty good overall. I did have one guy tell me that I helped him get up the hill because he kept trying to catch me but couldn’t. So, I guess I wasn’t “road killed” by everyone!



Leg 6, or Sarah’s first leg, was 7 miles and had some rolling hills. We stop to encourage her but also have to get to the next exchange point pretty quickly to meet up with our Van #2 runners. They would be running legs 7-12. We had several young men in this van as well as a couple who was running their 10th H2C relay. Once Sarah finished and passed the bracelet to Jonas, we handed off the clipboard off to another team member and drove into Portland.



This was a nice break here. Sarah and Mike live in Portland so we were all able to shower, eat a yummy spaghetti dinner and get some rest. I also tended to Brett’s blister that formed on the bottom of his foot during his run. A pebble had gotten into his shoe and he was running too fast on a steep road to bother stopping to get it out. Unfortunately it resulted in a blister about the size of a quarter. We drained it and put a blister bandaid on the worst part.


About 5:00 we drive to downtown Portland where the next van exchange was. This place was crowded and very busy. It was also the start for the Portland to Coast walkers team, who stagger started at 2:00 AM, and the Portland to Coast High School challenge who started while we were there. Nike was giving away free socks and another booth had light up pens, which came in very handy while writing on the clipboard in the middle of the night later.



Jill was up first and got the handoff from Daren. Her leg was pretty flat and along part of the river walk. It ended in an industrial area. She ran strong, road killing several other runners. Brett was up next and took off, limping a little. It was pretty hot at this point so when we passed him about a mile into it, he yelled for water so I threw a bottle out the window for him. He was wearing his cow costume and a long sleeved tech tee so he was pretty hot. We got to the next exchange and waited for Cow to come in. Mike donned a mullet hat and some other redneck type clothes and was ready to run. Brett said his blister had gotten worse and was very painful. It had grown so we put some more bandaids on it and hoped for the best.
It was after 6 by this time and race rules required each runner for the next 13 hours to wear a reflective vest, blinking light on the front and back and have either a head lamp or flashlight. Mike finished in the dark and Jordan ran her shortest leg, 3 miles, into the next town. I took the bracelet from her and was ready to run hard on my second leg. This leg was 5.69 miles long and rated “Easy, basically flat terrain on paved shoulder along Highway 30”. I really wanted to race this fast since it would be my easiest leg of the relay. I had a quick turn from the parking lot to the main road and felt a sharp pain in my ITB. Oh no. I run about .2 in pain and decide to stop to stretch it for a few seconds. I’m quickly passed by two runners, no big deal. I start running again, adjusting my head lamp which was driving me crazy and cursing my knee. About ½ mile in, I’m considering calling Brett on my iPhone and having him take over my leg because I was hurting bad and running at a 11:30 pace. But then I remember that other times when I’ve had ITB problems, if I run faster, the pain lessens. So I gradually pick up the pace and pass (my first road kill!) one of the guys who had passed me. This plan works so I know I can finish. Soon I’m out of town and it is dark. Very dark. I get a little nervous since I don’t have any idea where I’m going but I soon focus on a blinking red light about 200 yards in front of me and follow that. I hear my van mates cheering me on as they pass me, on the way to the next exchange. Now, this leg was rated Easy and flat but apparently Oregon flat and Indiana flat are not the same thing. It was a steady incline for the last ½ of the leg. I keep focusing on my pace and enjoy the moment. Soon I see a volunteer who shouts “runner 331” to the exchange person so the runners on deck would know who was coming in. Sarah shouts my name and I hand her the bracelet. Finishing time was 49:38, not bad considering the minute break I took to stretch.
We hurry to the next exchange where we would find van #2. We’re now in the country and on all back roads. The exchange though was swamped with hundreds of vans, volunteers, Honey Buckets (the porta-potties) and runners. Brett and I spot people in sleeping bags throughout the designated sleeping areas who don’t look like they were getting much rest, considering the noise level and headlights periodically shining on them. We remark that it’s going to be another sleepless night ( we had only slept about 4 hours the night before and not since then). We find the other van and get to the exchange. Sarah ran a little faster then we thought and was waiting for us, opps. She wasn’t upset though and we piled into the van and drove about an hour to the next van exchange area. Mike spotted a H2C field about a mile from the exchange that was nearly empty. We pull into there for the night which worked amazingly well. It was pretty cool, about 45 degrees but the tarp under us and the sleeping bags kept us toasty. I look up at the stars and tell Brett that I’ve never slept outside without a tent before and how thankful I was for being part of this amazing race. We both slept very well, without being disturbed by many other vans or runners. Mike really picked the best possible place for us to rest.
3:00 AM Saturday morning and we’re up. We quickly pack up and I make some turkey sandwiches for the group while we drive to the exchange. Jill is wide awake and ready to run her last leg. The parking lot was insainly crowded with volunteers doing their very best to get vans in and out safely. We double park so Brett and I wait in the van while the others go to find van 2 for the exchange. Soon they are back, minus Jill, and we drive to the next exchange. It is pitch back in this area, named Mist. The fog is low and it’s cold. Brett wasn’t too awake but he was ready to get his last leg started. As he’s waiting in his exchange area, a guy asks him where his cow costume was – apparently he was becoming famous among his other leg 2 runners. He was running without it since it was 4:30AM. His leg was 5.77 miles long and rated Hard because of rolling hills but he had a ½ mile downhill to finish. We drive to the next exchange and wait for him. Mike changes into his running clothes, giving the ladies in the van next to us a peep show. LOL. This exchange had a local fire department and church selling coffee and other breakfast foods so I grabbed the best coffee I’ve ever had and warmed up while we waited for Brett to come in. He finished faster then he thought considering his massive blister and was happy to be done. On to the next exchange!
Mike finished strong and Jordan started her last leg as well. We drive to my exchange and I get changed in to my Tinkerbell costume. Now, this leg, number 29, was rated VH and from what I had read on-line, was considered the most challenging leg of the entire race. It was 6.11 miles long, with a 3.5 mile hill with a 650 foot elevation increase, 300 of those feet in the last mile of the hill. Then it was a 2.5 mile, 450 foot decent. This “hill” was actually a mountain in the Coastal Mountain range. The team member who ran this leg last year lost an hour on it. I was nervous but also up for the challenge. I had gained some confidence in my hill climbing after the first leg and confidence in my mental strength after pushing through my ITB problem in my second leg. Plus I knew it was my last leg so I wanted to put it all out there and enjoy it. I wanted to finish in under an hour but would also be happy with not walking! The sun was up by this time, 7:00, so I didn’t need to run with any night gear, thank goodness.
Jordan meets me for the exchange and I take off. The hill for the first part wasn’t bad and I actually enjoyed the scenery around me. There were creeks, huge moss-covered trees and wildflowers. My van passes me, cheering out the windows. About a mile up the road, there they were again, stopping to encourage me. I get passed by a few runners, all who said something encouraging or commented on my costume. The van passes again along with a few others, all yelling “Go Tinkerbell” or “Great costume!” I’m really enjoying this leg and feel very strong. As I’m pushing up the hill, I keep thinking “I am getting stronger with every step” and “I’m never going to fear hills again” and “I’ll be running my first full marathon in 3 weeks and this is making me more prepared for it.” Good thoughts the whole way. Then I hit mile 2.5, which signaled the start of the really steep part. And it’s noticeable so put my head down and just push through. I’m slower but still running, not walking. I get passed by one or two very strong runners who encourage me. My mental attitude is strong, I’m enjoying this! Next thing I know, I see a bunch of vans and realize that I’m at the summit of the mountain. I get a huge smile on my face and wave at my team who was waiting again for me. One of the race’s sponsors was at the summit as well taking pictures and passing out water (only the second water stop we had seen the whole time). I thank them for being there and start to fly down the hill! It’s a steep decent and although I know I could lean in and really fly, I didn’t want to shred my quads so I take it conservatively. I am passed by several more runners but we all complement and encourage each other. My team drives past, shouting out encouragements again. I check my watch and see that I had 2 miles to go and only 15 minutes to hit my 1 hour goal so I lean forward some and pick up the pace. While I’m running, I think about the fact that out of my whole team, the captains chose me to run the most difficult leg. They had confidence in me and I was holding my own on it too. What a thrill! I also see an older man, probably close to 70 ahead of me. I pass him (one of only a few road kills I had) and we chatted for a minute. He said “let your fairy wings help you FLY!” How inspiring to see this old man taking on this epic mountain! Very cool. Too soon, I see the exchange point and decide to go for broke. I sprint as hard as I can to my sister, hand her the bracelet and yell “I love you!!” to her as she takes off. Brett screams from the sidelines that I finished in 58:58, I made my hour goal! I get a little emotional, knowing that my part was finished. Brett sees this and gives me a big hug and tells me how proud he was and happy that we were there. I was too.

Traffic at this point is a bear. Vans are backed up heading to the next exchange. We were about ½ a mile away and Jill decided to hop out of the car with the clip board to find Van #2 for our last van exchange. Sarah catches Jill while we’re sitting in gridlock and they run to the exchange together. We were about 15 minutes early but they were ready and waiting for us (no cell phone coverage for the last several hours to keep the other van abreast of our times so we were going by our estimated exchange times only). They had spent a restless night in the front yard of someone’s house with a few hundred other runners. But they were ready to bring the team into the finish.

We head into Astoria for breakfast and enjoy a large, calorie dense meal. Then we drive to Seaside, which was the finishing line. The town was already packed with vans and runners/walkers. We walk up to the beach/finish line and head to the medical tent to have Brett’s blister looked at. This tent is my only complaint about the whole race. It was staffed by one doctor and numerous chiropractors. The doctor took a look at Brett’s blister, told him to peel off the bandage, which ended up peeling off most of the outer layer of skin. So Brett just got up and left, figuring the doctor couldn’t do much anyways. Walking on the sand was pretty painful, though. We took a little nap by the water and waited for van #2 to finish. We get a phone call about 1:30 from them and hurry to the finish line and see Daren running towards us. As he gets to our group, we all run together across the finish line while the announcer calls out our name. What a thrill!! We get our medals and team picture taken. Our overall finishing time was 29:24.48, overall place 671, but 175th for mixed category. We were very happy with our time, just under a 9 min mile pace for 197 miles!!


After a great team dinner at a local restaurant, we say goodbye and drive back to Portland. We drive on part of the route and re-lived our runs. A couple of beers at a local brew pub and we were ready for bed. At the airport the next morning, you could pick out the runners by their slow walking, tee-shirts and bananas. We would all catch each other’s eye and say hi. It truly was an epic adventure and I’ll remember it forever.
Tapering Madness

So, we're 5 days away from the marathon.  I've been training pretty much for 12 months.  I don't think it's a coincidence that the date of this marathon is the same date as the first 5k I did after I finished healing from my stress fracture last year.  My main goal that day was to finish without walking, which was very difficult considering I had only been given the ok from the dr to run a week beforehand.  But I did finish and actually finished 4th in my age group. 
Anyways, back to the present time.  This marathon has been a long time coming.  Much blood, sweat, blisters and tears have been poured into it.  I mean, a marathon is like one of the most difficult physical activities that you can put your body through.  Only 1/10th of 1% of the worlds population attempts to run one.  That's mind boggling! 
My training has gone very well but has had some ups and downs.  I reached the 1/2 marathon goal that I set for myself in May at the Indianapolis Mini.  So after that, I concentrated on building my stamina and mileage for the marathon.  I followed a plan designed for first time marathoners but tweeked it a little bit.  I couldn't have the high mileage weeks that were recommended since I can only run 3 days a week for risk of injury.  But I did run those 3 days faithfully, all summer long.  I did not miss a single workout.  I ran on vacations, I ran in the rain, in the humidity, in the dark and in the blazing sun (2010 was the hottest summer in nearly 30 years).  I read magazines, websites, books, anything I could get my hands on about running.  And things were going really well.  I had a few bad runs but I had more good ones that keep me encouraged.  I knew that, baring injury, I was going to run this marathon.
But, injury did happen, as it does for so many runners.  I noticed my left knee hurting for the first time in late July but it would go away after a few hours.  But after I ran the Rock and Roll 1/2 Marathon in Chicago on August 1st, I was limping for 2 days.  Some research showed that I had ITBS, which is when a tendon that runs from your hip to your knee gets irritated and doesn't stretch well.  It's the most common running injury.  I did some yoga, stretching and rested, and the pain went away for the most part. 
I continued my training, August was my highest milage month with 130 miles.  My knee would occasionally bother me during runs but I could run through it.  I had two 20 mile runs, one was terrible and one was exhilarating!  After completing those runs, I knew I could finish the marathon.  Three weeks before the marathon, I ran in the Hood To Coast Relay in Oregon and felt strong the whole way (IT bothered me during part but I pushed through).  I was ready to "taper", which is a running term for the last few weeks before a marathon where you cut your mileage down to allow your body to rest and recover. 
Two weeks before the race, I was running 14 mile slow run at Eagle Creek.  Things were going great, knee wasn't bothering me and I was making good time.  Suddenly at mile 11, I felt like I stepped on a knife!  The pain was sudden and sharp, on the bottom of my foot from the heel to the pad.  I was 3 miles from the car so I had to keep running just to get home.  The pain lessened some but was still unnerving.  I googled "foot pain" and found that I most likely had "planter facitiis", another common running injury.  Again, it involves a tendon that gets irritated in your foot.  I'm limping for a few days, stretching, rolling my foot on a frozen water bottle, on a golf ball, use fancy athletic tape and rest for the whole week. 
I'm feeling pretty down, wondering why the heck am I getting injured when I'm following a good running plan and being smart about my training.  But life happens and so do injuries.  By the following Saturday, one week before the marathon, my foot was feeling 90% so I decided to go on a short run, just to test it out.  I figured that if I was going to be running 26.2 miles in pain, I wanted to know about it before I started!   The first 1/2 mile was painful on my foot but once it warmed up, it wasn't bad. My IT band gave me some problem at the beginning as well but warmed up fine too.  Six miles went pretty quickly and my mind relaxed.  Brett and I watched "The Spirit of the Marathon", a documentary about 6 people training for the Chicago marathon.  It was pretty good and got me in the right frame of mind. 
I iced my foot and stretched my knee.  My foot was pretty sore today, Sunday.  I called my friend who used to own the running store in Avon and explained my injury.  She has dealt with the same one herself and recommended getting insoles so I ordered a pair from a running website she suggestion, using her discount.  I'll rest the remainder of the week and should be good to go for the race.
I don't know what to expect from this marathon but I know that regardless of how fast or slow I cross the finish line, I will be forever changed.  I'll be a Marathoner. 
The Classics

I finally introduced the kids to a classic movie, The Princess Bride.  This movie is one of my favorites as a child and I was eager to watch it with Kylie and Matthew.  They loved it!!  Matthew kept saying "Cover my eyes" during the scary parts but then would pull my hands away from his eyes so he could watch.  Kylie thought Buttercup, the princess, was beautiful.  They both had a sword fight, mimicking the movies fight scenes. 
I'm so happy that they loved it as much as I did.   It's fun to share those common interests with them.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

First Grade Report

So, Kylie has been in First Grade for almost 2 weeks and still loves it.  She thinks her teacher, Mrs. Syberg, can do no wrong.  Kylie was upset when a boy who was misbehaving was moved to the front of the class, taking Kylie's desk, which moved Kylie away from her BFF.  But she seems to have gotten over it and made a few new friends as well.
Hot lunch is a popular and actually inexpensive choice for Kylie.  She's been liking the choices and makes sure to take the fruit and/or veggie offered each day. 
Homework has started as well so we spend about 20 mins an evening working on that.  Her first spelling test is this week as well. 
I volunteered to work in the classroom this year.  Mrs. Syberg has 28 (!!) students so she asked for help from the parents.  She does have an assistant that she shares with the other first grade class.  I'll be helping every Thursday morning while Matthew is in preschool.  It will be nice to get a first hand look at what is going on in Kylie's class. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

Hood to Coast 2010


It’s 8:00 AM on Friday morning and I’m standing at the “timberline” part-way up Mt. Hood in Oregon. The start line is here, music is blaring, teams were taking pictures and sponsors had their tents up. The parking lot is filled with vans, most of them decorated with van paint that listed team names and other sayings. One saying that was very popular was “Road Kill”. Hmm, were we really going to count dead animals on this adventure??

This Adventure started back in May. Hood to Coast is a 197 mile relay race that starts at the timberline of Mt Hood (elevation 6000 ft) and ends at the Pacific Ocean. This was it’s 29th year. 1000 teams of up to 12 people compete each year. My sister, who lives in Portland, has run it two times and this year she invited Brett and I to run on her team, Crampons and Crayons (it was made up of mountain climbers and teachers). We knew it was an once in a lifetime chance, Runners World had this race listed as one of their “must-do” races. For a sneak peak at the relay, visit www.hoodtocoastmovie.com. This will give you an idea of what we were experiencing.

We live in Indiana so we flew out to Oregon on Thursday evening. Our plane into LAX was late so we had to literally sprint a mile to our correct terminal. The employee at the gate was paging us as we ran up to her, thank goodness we made our connection. We could not risk not getting to Portland on Thursday night since our team van was leaving at 6:00 AM to get to the starting line. As I sat down on the plane, I thought “well, that was the first leg of my relay race!”

We got into Portland on time and Sarah and her boyfriend, Mike who was our team captain were waiting for us. We head to their condo and go right to bed. With the time difference, it was 3:30 AM Indiana time.

We’re up and getting ready at 5:00 AM. Brett and I repack our running gear, double check to make sure we have everything we thought we could need. The weather was cool and the reports said it would be in the 30’s at the starting line. What a nice break for us, since all summer we’ve been training for our fall marathon in 90+ degree heat and high humidity! The rest of our van arrives (we have two vans, 6 runners in a van) so we head east to Mt. Hood, about an hour away. Our other team members were Jill and Jordan. Jill was a strong runner who had an amazingly positive attitude which came in handy many times. Jordan volunteered at this race last year and decided she needed to start running so she could be part of a team in 2010. So she had been training hard for many months. She was friendly and fun as well.
Mt Hood

The road was a little busy with lots of mini vans and cargo vans. All had their team numbers taped on the front and back windows, ours was 331. Most were decorated in some way. As we’re driving we can see the mountain and I keep saying to Brett, “You’re going to be running DOWN that huge mountain soon!” Brett had leg #2, which was the bottom ½ of the mountain. Mike had decided on our legs based on our 10k times, running experience and desire. I had a decently fast 10k time and really wanted to be challenged so he assigned me leg 5, which was considered the 2nd hardest set of legs of the entire relay. Brett had the 3rd most difficult set of legs. Here is the statement about the difficulty ratings from the H2C website: To determine leg ratings, distance was considered negligible, with elevation drops and gains considered the primary influence. The assumption is that in relation to an "Easy" leg, an "Moderate" is 10% harder, an "Hard" is 20% harder, and a "Very Hard" is 30% harder.

I had 2 Very Hards and an Easy. Gulp.

We arrive at the top of the mountain with plenty of time to look around and take pictures. But before we knew it, It was 8:15 and time for Jill to start the race for our team. Her leg, rated VH, was 5.64 miles long with a 2000 foot elevation drop! We’ve heard leg 1 was notorious for shredding quads so she took it conservatively and finished healthy and strong. We drove the van down to the 1st exchange point and waited for Jill. Brett changed into his cow costume (we had heard costumes were popular in the race so came prepared). And they were right, everyone started taking pictures of Brett, including the “Team Cougars” who thought he was about the best thing in the race (had to keep my eye on these ladies!! LOL).

Soon Jill came running through the exchange area and handed the slap bracelet off to Brett. FYI – we thought the bracelet would have a timing chip in It to record each individual leg but it didn’t, the only timing device was a chip that the last runner wore on the last leg. We recorded each runners time and our team accumulative time on a clipboard with a stop watch (DO NOT TOUCH THE STOP WATCH!!). Brett took off like a bat outta hell and we hopped in the van with Jill to get to the next exchange. As we drive past “The Cow”, we yelled out the window for encouragement. It sure looked like he was flying! Turns out he was, he finished his 5.67 mile leg, with a 1500 foot decent with a 6:13 min mile pace!

At exchange 3, Mike was suited up in his womens pajamas outfit and was ready for the hand off. We heard a few people in the crowd laugh and say “The Cow passed off to the PJ guy!” We were having a blast already. Mike’s leg was not as steep and took him through a little town. Next up was Jordan with leg 4, her longest and most difficult leg. It was on a major 4 lane highway with rolling hills and was more then 7 miles long, which was a long ways for a newbie runner. We stopped twice along the way to encourage her. She finished strong with a smile on her face.

I was up next, leg 5. I had studied my map and elevation chart. The leg was 6.08 miles long with a steady downhill for the first ½ and then a 3 mile climb, with a 400 foot elevation increase. I started on the major highway which was unsettling, even with the large shoulder that I was running on. Just having huge semi-trucks hauling double trailers filled with massive logs passing me at high rates of speed freaked me out a bit. I started off probably too fast, reaching the ½ way point in 25 mins. Now the route turned off onto a single lane side road. The only vehicles on this road were other relay vans driving to the next exchange point so I felt safer. BTW, I was wearing a pink tutu as my costume so I was getting some yells and encouragement from other runners. I was passed or “Road Killed” as I later found out, by a few other runners who apparently train on hills much larger then we have in Indiana. My goal time was 50 mins and I also wanted to finish the hills without walking. The last mile was torture, a 200 foot elevation increase in only 1 mile. But I put my head down and pushed through to the end. I was darn happy to see my sister, in her purple tutu, waiting in the exchange box for me! Finishing time for my first leg was 53:25.

I was a little discouraged about being passed by several runners until Brett and the other team members let me know that all the teams put their best hill climbers and strongest runners on this set of legs. So I was going up against the strongest runners in the event and doing pretty good overall. I did have one guy tell me that I helped him get up the hill because he kept trying to catch me but couldn’t. So, I guess I wasn’t “road killed” by everyone!

Leg 6, or Sarah’s first leg, was 7 miles and had some rolling hills. We stop to encourage her but also have to get to the next exchange point pretty quickly to meet up with our Van #2 runners. They would be running legs 7-12. We had several young men in this van as well as a couple who was running their 10th H2C relay. Once Sarah finished and passed the bracelet to Jonas, we handed off the clipboard off to another team member and drove into Portland.

This was a nice break here. Sarah and Mike live in Portland so we were all able to shower, eat a yummy spaghetti dinner and get some rest. I also tended to Brett’s blister that formed on the bottom of his foot during his run. A pebble had gotten into his shoe and he was running too fast on a steep road to bother stopping to get it out. Unfortunately it resulted in a blister about the size of a quarter. We drained it and put a blister bandaid on the worst part.

About 5:00 we drive to downtown Portland where the next van exchange was. This place was crowded and very busy. It was also the start for the Portland to Coast walkers team, who stagger started at 2:00 AM, and the Portland to Coast High School challenge who started while we were there. Nike was giving away free socks and another booth had light up pens, which came in very handy while writing on the clipboard in the middle of the night later.

Jill was up first and got the handoff from Daren. Her leg was pretty flat and along part of the river walk. It ended in an industrial area. She ran strong, road killing several other runners. Brett was up next and took off, limping a little. It was pretty hot at this point so when we passed him about a mile into it, he yelled for water so I threw a bottle out the window for him. He was wearing his cow costume and a long sleeved tech tee so he was pretty hot. We got to the next exchange and waited for Cow to come in. Mike donned a mullet hat and some other redneck type clothes and was ready to run. Brett said his blister had gotten worse and was very painful. It had grown so we put some more bandaids on it and hoped for the best.

It was after 6 by this time and race rules required each runner for the next 13 hours to wear a reflective vest, blinking light on the front and back and have either a head lamp or flashlight. Mike finished in the dark and Jordan ran her shortest leg, 3 miles, into the next town. I took the bracelet from her and was ready to run hard on my second leg. This leg was 5.69 miles long and rated “Easy, basically flat terrain on paved shoulder along Highway 30”. I really wanted to race this fast since it would be my easiest leg of the relay. I had a quick turn from the parking lot to the main road and felt a sharp pain in my ITB. Oh no. I run about .2 in pain and decide to stop to stretch it for a few seconds. I’m quickly passed by two runners, no big deal. I start running again, adjusting my head lamp which was driving me crazy and cursing my knee. About ½ mile in, I’m considering calling Brett on my iPhone and having him take over my leg because I was hurting bad and running at a 11:30 pace. But then I remember that other times when I’ve had ITB problems, if I run faster, the pain lessens. So I gradually pick up the pace and pass (my first road kill!) one of the guys who had passed me. This plan works so I know I can finish. Soon I’m out of town and it is dark. Very dark. I get a little nervous since I don’t have any idea where I’m going but I soon focus on a blinking red light about 200 yards in front of me and follow that. I hear my van mates cheering me on as they pass me, on the way to the next exchange. Now, this leg was rated Easy and flat but apparently Oregon flat and Indiana flat are not the same thing. It was a steady incline for the last ½ of the leg. I keep focusing on my pace and enjoy the moment. Soon I see a volunteer who shouts “runner 331” to the exchange person so the runners on deck would know who was coming in. Sarah shouts my name and I hand her the bracelet. Finishing time was 49:38, not bad considering the minute break I took to stretch.

We hurry to the next exchange where we would find van #2. We’re now in the country and on all back roads. The exchange though was swamped with hundreds of vans, volunteers, Honey Buckets (the porta-potties) and runners. Brett and I spot people in sleeping bags throughout the designated sleeping areas who don’t look like they were getting much rest, considering the noise level and headlights periodically shining on them. We remark that it’s going to be another sleepless night ( we had only slept about 4 hours the night before and not since then). We find the other van and get to the exchange. Sarah ran a little faster then we thought and was waiting for us, opps. She wasn’t upset though and we piled into the van and drove about an hour to the next van exchange area. Mike spotted a H2C field about a mile from the exchange that was nearly empty. We pull into there for the night which worked amazingly well. It was pretty cool, about 45 degrees but the tarp under us and the sleeping bags kept us toasty. I look up at the stars and tell Brett that I’ve never slept outside without a tent before and how thankful I was for being part of this amazing race. We both slept very well, without being disturbed by many other vans or runners. Mike really picked the best possible place for us to rest.

3:00 AM Saturday morning and we’re up. We quickly pack up and I make some turkey sandwiches for the group while we drive to the exchange. Jill is wide awake and ready to run her last leg. The parking lot was insainly crowded with volunteers doing their very best to get vans in and out safely. We double park so Brett and I wait in the van while the others go to find van 2 for the exchange. Soon they are back, minus Jill, and we drive to the next exchange. It is pitch back in this area, named Mist. The fog is low and it’s cold. Brett wasn’t too awake but he was ready to get his last leg started. As he’s waiting in his exchange area, a guy asks him where his cow costume was – apparently he was becoming famous among his other leg 2 runners. He was running without it since it was 4:30AM. His leg was 5.77 miles long and rated Hard because of rolling hills but he had a ½ mile downhill to finish. We drive to the next exchange and wait for him. Mike changes into his running clothes, giving the ladies in the van next to us a peep show. LOL. This exchange had a local fire department and church selling coffee and other breakfast foods so I grabbed the best coffee I’ve ever had and warmed up while we waited for Brett to come in. He finished faster then he thought considering his massive blister and was happy to be done. On to the next exchange!

Mike finished strong and Jordan started her last leg as well. We drive to my exchange and I get changed in to my Tinkerbell costume. Now, this leg, number 29, was rated VH and from what I had read on-line, was considered the most challenging leg of the entire race. It was 6.11 miles long, with a 3.5 mile hill with a 650 foot elevation increase, 300 of those feet in the last mile of the hill. Then it was a 2.5 mile, 450 foot decent. This “hill” was actually a mountain in the Coastal Mountain range. The team member who ran this leg last year lost an hour on it. I was nervous but also up for the challenge. I had gained some confidence in my hill climbing after the first leg and confidence in my mental strength after pushing through my ITB problem in my second leg. Plus I knew it was my last leg so I wanted to put it all out there and enjoy it. I wanted to finish in under an hour but would also be happy with not walking! The sun was up by this time, 7:00, so I didn’t need to run with any night gear, thank goodness.

Jordan meets me for the exchange and I take off. The hill for the first part wasn’t bad and I actually enjoyed the scenery around me. There were creeks, huge moss-covered trees and wildflowers. My van passes me, cheering out the windows. About a mile up the road, there they were again, stopping to encourage me. I get passed by a few runners, all who said something encouraging or commented on my costume. The van passes again along with a few others, all yelling “Go Tinkerbell” or “Great costume!” I’m really enjoying this leg and feel very strong. As I’m pushing up the hill, I keep thinking “I am getting stronger with every step” and “I’m never going to fear hills again” and “I’ll be running my first full marathon in 3 weeks and this is making me more prepared for it.” Good thoughts the whole way. Then I hit mile 2.5, which signaled the start of the really steep part. And it’s noticeable so put my head down and just push through. I’m slower but still running, not walking. I get passed by one or two very strong runners who encourage me. My mental attitude is strong, I’m enjoying this! Next thing I know, I see a bunch of vans and realize that I’m at the summit of the mountain. I get a huge smile on my face and wave at my team who was waiting again for me. One of the race’s sponsors was at the summit as well taking pictures and passing out water (only the second water stop we had seen the whole time). I thank them for being there and start to fly down the hill! It’s a steep decent and although I know I could lean in and really fly, I didn’t want to shred my quads so I take it conservatively. I am passed by several more runners but we all complement and encourage each other. My team drives past, shouting out encouragements again. I check my watch and see that I had 2 miles to go and only 15 minutes to hit my 1 hour goal so I lean forward some and pick up the pace. While I’m running, I think about the fact that out of my whole team, the captains chose me to run the most difficult leg. They had confidence in me and I was holding my own on it too. What a thrill! I also see an older man, probably close to 70 ahead of me. I pass him (one of only a few road kills I had) and we chatted for a minute. He said “let your fairy wings help you FLY!” How inspiring to see this old man taking on this epic mountain! Very cool. Too soon, I see the exchange point and decide to go for broke. I sprint as hard as I can to my sister, hand her the bracelet and yell “I love you!!” to her as she takes off. Brett screams from the sidelines that I finished in 58:58, I made my hour goal! I get a little emotional, knowing that my part was finished. Brett sees this and gives me a big hug and tells me how proud he was and happy that we were there. I was too.

Traffic at this point is a bear. Vans are backed up heading to the next exchange. We were about ½ a mile away and Jill decided to hop out of the car with the clip board to find Van #2 for our last van exchange. Sarah catches Jill while we’re sitting in gridlock and they run to the exchange together. We were about 15 minutes early but they were ready and waiting for us (no cell phone coverage for the last several hours to keep the other van abreast of our times so we were going by our estimated exchange times only). They had spent a restless night in the front yard of someone’s house with a few hundred other runners. But they were ready to bring the team into the finish.

We head into Astoria for breakfast and enjoy a large, calorie dense meal. Then we drive to Seaside, which was the finishing line. The town was already packed with vans and runners/walkers. We walk up to the beach/finish line and head to the medical tent to have Brett’s blister looked at. This tent is my only complaint about the whole race. It was staffed by one doctor and numerous chiropractors. The doctor took a look at Brett’s blister, told him to peel off the bandage, which ended up peeling off most of the outer layer of skin. So Brett just got up and left, figuring the doctor couldn’t do much anyways. Walking on the sand was pretty painful, though. We took a little nap by the water and waited for van #2 to finish. We get a phone call about 1:30 from them and hurry to the finish line and see Daren running towards us. As he gets to our group, we all run together across the finish line while the announcer calls out our name. What a thrill!! We get our medals and team picture taken. Our overall finishing time was 29:24.48, overall place 671, but 175th for mixed category. We were very happy with our time, just under a 9 min mile pace for 197 miles!!



After a great team dinner at a local restaurant, we say goodbye and drive back to Portland. We drive on part of the route and re-lived our runs. A couple of beers at a local brew pub and we were ready for bed. At the airport the next morning, you could pick out the runners by their slow walking, tee-shirts and bananas. We would all catch each other’s eye and say hi. It truly was an epic adventure and I’ll remember it forever.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

So..Kylie starts 1st grade tomorrow.  We've both a little emotional about it.  She was crying some at bedtime tonight, mainly just nervous.  I was crying a little on the patio after putting her down, mainly  just thinking about how fast these nearly 7 years have gone. 

We met her teacher this afternoon, Mrs. Syberg.  She is young and very pretty.  She is also expecting her first baby in December so will be out for a month or two this winter.  Mrs. Syberg let Kylie pick her desk as well.  After a few tries, she settled on one by the teachers desk.  Kylie's day was made when not only is her BFF, Lindsey, in her class but they picked desks next to each other.  Hopefully they don't talk too much. 

Her dress is laid out with her new laces shoes.  She's nervous about wearing those shoes because she doesn't want them to come un-tied and then not be able to tie them herself.  She can tie her shoes but it takes time and she gets frustrated.   But I also told Kylie that I didn't pay $44 for fancy Twinkle Toe shoes if she wasn't going to wear them.  So we'll double knot them and see how it goes.

Kylie is going to have a blast in first grade and it's going to be fun to watch her. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Our newest family member!

We got a puppy!!  Brett knew someone who knew someone who had a large little of mixed breed puppies that he was giving away.  We've been talking about getting a dog for several months.   The kids have been very responsible when we've watched Brett's parents dog, Irish.  So we really thought this would be a great opportunity.  We wanted to surprise the kids so Brett and I drove to the owner's farm out in North Salem.  We met, Gracie, the mom who was pure-breed Miniature Australian Shepherd.  She was a beautiful dog, pale blue eyes and very sweet.  There were 4 pups left, out of a litter of 13.  The man didn't know anything about the father so we have no idea what the other 1/2 of the puppy is.  All the puppies looked the same, 2 with longer hair and 2 with shorter hair.  Three boys and one girl.  We were drawn to the girl, she just layed in the back of the stall and seemed very relaxed.  And she had shorter hair.  So after carefully checking out all 4 pups, we decided on the girl.  It was a little sad to watch the mom and puppy interacting for the last time, I made Brett split them up, I couldn't do it. 
We drove home, she whined a little big.  A quick stop at the local pet store for some pet food and we were heading home.  We were thinking of names and Brett mentioned "Black and Tan" since that is what color she is.  I said it was too long but "Guinness" would be a good possibility. 
So we pull up to the house, Brett grabs a camera and heads to the back yard where the kids were waiting for us.  I come around the side with the puppy in my arms.  Kylie came towards me and said "Who's puppy is that?" and I said "Ours!"  And she said "We got a puppy?!"  Here is the picture from when I told her:
Matthew was also excited but not to the extent as Kylie, more in his mellow way.  Both kids ran up  to lock the gate and came back for some petting time.  Kylie asked what her name was and I said that we had to decide on one as a family.  She immediately said "How about Sparkles?" Ugh, no.  So we decided on Guinness.
Brett and I noticed a few days later that Guinness had no energy and seemed sick.  I made her an appointment at the local vet.  He agreed that she seemed very lethargic for a puppy so he ran some tests and we found out that she was anemic.  Which was much better then parvo, which would have been deadly.  So some fancy food and she should be better in a few weeks. 
We did notice that her energy level increased by the end of the week, as she got more used to us.  Housebreaking has been challenging but we're doing better with it every day.  We love her!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

So back to our FL vacation.......

Thursday Brett and I needed to get in a good, long run.  Now it was hot and humid all week and we had each attempted to run earlier in the week, which didn't go well.  But we were committed to running this together.  We had to run through sand, pavement and the woods.  It was miserable but we gutted it out.  Here is some evidence of the brutality of it:

Thankfully, we spent the day hanging out at the pool and lake.  It was so nice to be able to play with the kids but relax as well since it wasn't just Brett and I watching the kids.  It's impossible to relax around water when it's just one-on-one because you have to be on top of where the kids are the whole time.  So having an extra set of adults there to help was really nice.  I got plenty of sun too!

That evening we drove to the other side of Orlando to have dinner at John's favorite restaurant The Black Hammock.  It was in the middle of nowhere on the banks of a lake whose claim to fame was having the most "gators" in all of Florida.  The food was ok, the scenery was pretty good and watching the kids eat gator bites was memorable (they really do taste like chicken). 

After dinner I was on the receiving end of a little surprise birthday party!  Dick and Sharon had gotten me a cake and we enjoyed that while I opened presents.  I got a new pair of Tinkerbell earrings (which I had picked out earlier), a black dress jacket and money to buy and iPhone with! 

Friday was our next planned day at Disney.  This one was going to be special, we were going to Hollywood Studios which  happened to be having one of their annual Star Wars weekends that day!  Brett and I dropped the kids and Dick and Sharon off at the park because we had to go to ESPN Zone to pick up our bibs and theme park tickets for the Expedition Everest Challenge on Saturday night.  We did wait for the kids to get into the park before leaving so we were able to see two Storm Troopers walking on top of the entrance, doing a little skit.  Boba Fett showed up there and Matthew got really excited to see him, he's one of Matthew's favorites.  We knew today was going to be a fun day for our Little Man.  

Brett and I headed out to the ESPN Zone where they were gearing up for the World Cup's first game.  We had to burn an hour before packet pickup started so we watched the beginning of the World Cup which was a little crazy with the fans there.  Once packet pickup opened, we grabbed our stuff and free tickets and headed back to Hollywood.  We found the kids standing in line to get Darth Vader's autograph!!  Of course we had to get a family picture.

We saw many, many character from all the Star Wars movies.  Kylie even got excited about seeing them.  We also rode some rides and enjoyed the Block Party Parade.  Kylie was brought out into the parade to dance with the cast members and had a blast getting down. 

We also saw Princess Leia and we were getting her autograph and Matthew was playing shy with her, as usual.  While we were sitting there, all of a sudden Chewabacca walks up to us!  He was heading for a break (can't blame the guy, he was huge, wearing a full fur outfit and it was 90 degrees outside).  He must have noticed Matthew playing shy and decided to stop.  What a treat!  Kylie got a hug and Brett called him a "walking carpet" which brought quite the reaction from Chewy and Leia!  We enjoyed a delicious Italian dinner at Mama Melrose's.  The food was SO good.  I had no problem finishing my plate!  It was a perfect way to spend my 35th birthday.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

So proud!!

I took the kids to the local running track this evening to watch/support Brett while he did a tough speed workout.  I've been talking to Kylie about doing a 5k at Disney World next Feb and mentioned to her that if she wanted to run a few laps tonight, it would be good for her training.  So her and Matthew ran a lap, 1/4 mile, without difficulty.  After resting to catch their breath, they were both ready for another lap so we ran that, making it 1/2 mile.  Kylie sat down and decided that was enough for her.  Then Matthew stood up and started running again so Kylie said "I gotta go too!"   So they both did another lap for 3/4 of a mile!  After that lap, they both got some water and I told Kylie how proud I was of both of them and if she wanted to do just one more lap, it would be a full mile.  Next thing I know, she stands up and says "I can do that." and took off.   I sat with Matthew and yelled encouraging words to Kylie until she was about 1/2 way around then I ran the rest with her.  I heard her telling herself "I can do this, I can do this."  She crossed the finish line with her hands above her head and yelled "I did it!!"  I grabbed her and gave her a huge hug and told her how proud I was of her!  She ran a mile!! 
Then, next thing I know, Matthew lines up again and starts on his 4th lap.  I run with him the whole way with him and he made it more then 1/2 way without walking.  And when he did walk, it was for about 20 feet and he took off again, crossing the finish line with a smile. 
Later when I was giving Matthew a bath I asked him what he thought about running and he said "I liked it, it was practice and I like to practice."  Kylie kept saying "Are you proud of me, I'm proud of me."
I'm so proud of both kids, so awesome!!!  I told them both, mainly Kylie, that if they are able to do a full mile by the end of the summer, we'd buy them each a trophy.  My little runners!!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Florida vacation!

We took our family vacation this year in Orlando.  We found a 2 bedroom condo near Disney World that we could trade our timeshare for, making it pretty affordable.  We also invited Brett's parents, Dick and Sharon (D & S) with us.  Our family drove down on Saturday, spent the night in Macon, GA and drove the rest of the way on Sunday.  D&S flew down on Sunday afternoon and rented a car to drive to our condo. 

The condo was at a resort called Summer Bay, which we really enjoyed.  They had 5 pools and a lake with a beach.  We spent most of our free time swimming (it was so hot outside!).  Kylie really became a fish, learning to swim underwater, on top of the water and cannonballing.  She would have spent the entire day and evening in the water if we let her.  Matthew enjoyed the water as well but didn't love it like Kylie did.  He liked digging in the sand and looking for fish in the lake but didn't like the sand to stick to him.  He said it made him messy. 

Tuesday evening we had dinner at Disney World (WDW) at their Whispering Canyon Cafe which we ate at during our last visit in 2008.  The food is so good and the atmosphere is very fun, they take "down  home cookin'" to a new level. 
 Matthew had a bad habit of falling asleep on our way to dinner every night. 

Wednesday we were up early and hopped on the shuttle bus to WDW Magic Kingdom.  The shuttle seemed like a good idea at the time - saved us $14 in parking charges and the hassle of driving ourselves.  Well, the shuttle was packed and it took 90 mins to get to the park with the pick-ups, drop-offs, ect.  So, not much of a time saver.  But we did get there and quickly headed to Fantasy Land to ride some rides like Dumbo's Flight, It's a Small World, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan's Flight.  The lines were not long and we were soon ready to head to Toon Town to find The Big Cheese for a group picture.  We found Mickey and Minnie in the Judge's Tent and had our picture taken and had them sign our autograph books.   I don't care how old you are, everyone smiles when they see Mickey!

Next we hopped on the train and took that to Frontier Land where we were going to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad but Kylie changed her mind so we skipped it.  Instead we watched The Country Bear Jamboree (not really good but the kids liked it and it was air-conditioned).  We ran in to Donald Duck and stopped for an autograph (it was his b-day!) and some pictures.  Donald kept kissing Matthew on his head and Matthew would wipe the kisses off, it was funny.  Then we headed to lunch at Crystal Palace, which is a character meal with Pooh and Friends.  Food was good, seeing those favorite "friends" was better.

After lunch we headed to Adventure Land to ride The Magic Carpets of Alladin, Pirates of the Caribbean and Jungle Cruise (very funny skipper).  Our boat overheated towards the end because of a loading delay so Kylie and Matthew got to be honorary skippers and they pulled us to the dock with a rope.  Next was Tomorrow Land where we rode Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin and saw the Monster Inc's Laugh Factory show.  And then Liberty Square for The Hall of Presidents.

Kylie still wanted to ride The Haunted Mansion so we had Dick, Brett and Matthew find a spot for the parade and Sharon, Kylie and I headed to the ride and did some shopping.  We found the rest of the group and hung out, waiting for the parade to start.  We only caught part of the parade due to needing to catch our shuttle at 10:00 (which was late, should have driven our own car!).

What a fun, fun day.  The kids did great, the lines weren't too long and the heat wasn't too terrible.  Magic Kingdom was magical!


....to be continued.
'nake, 'nack

Matthew doesn't really pronounce his "s"'s very well.  So all works that start with S are shortened.  He might ask you to help him got a 'nack.  Or watch out for the 'nake.  Or help him get something that is 'tuck. 

He's also learned to count to 100.   We didn't really work on that with him, he picked it up from Kylie.  He pauses after every 9 to think about the next set of numbers.  Like "59.......60!"   So 'mart!
Almost forgot!

Kylie finished Kindergarden a few weeks ago.  She has loved school so much and has absorbed everything they have taught her.  It's exciting to listen to her read, talk about her friends, discuss problems with classmates and help her with her homework.  She had perfect attendance this year, 1 of only 3 kids in her class.  We are so very proud of Kylie.

Expedition Everest Challenge Race Report




My family was vacationing at Disney World last week and there happened to be a race while we were there. So I signed us up for it (it was expensive for a 5k but the cost included a theme park ticket so that made the race practically free). It was called “Expedition Everest Challenge” and was a 5k with various obstacles followed by a scavenger hunt throughout their Animal Kingdom theme park. This was a team race so we would have one timing chip, our team name was “Date Night”. LOL.

There was a kids fun run before our race so the kiddos participated in that. Kylie (6 ½) wanted to race hard so I ran with her while Brett helped Matthew (4), who had just woken up from a nap. Kylie took off like a rocket, passing kids and their parents left and right. This race had obstacles as well – she crawled under a net, walked across a 2x4 and climbed over a short wall. Kylie did great on each part, taking it very seriously. She was thrilled to cross the finish line and get her medal. Matthew enjoyed it as well, he has learned that if he stays in the back of the pack, the crowd will cheer more for him because he’s little and cute. Smart boy.

The in-laws took the kids back to the hotel while we waited for our race to start. This is Disney’s smallest race, only 2000 teams so about 4000 participants. They had everyone start in waves so we waited for wave 3. Unfortunately, the waves were based on bib numbers, not pace times so we were mixed in with a hodge-podge of runners/walkers of all ages. The first mile of the race would be around the parking lot and the last 2 miles would be in the park. I wasn’t sure how well I’d be able to race since we did a 12 mile training run just two days before, ½ of which was on sandy trails. Add on a few days of walking around the Disney parks and my legs were feeling heavy before I crossed the start line.

The countdown started, the fireworks went off and we were racing! We stayed to the left and got into the grassy edge so we could pass people easily. Since we were running as a team, we had to work harder to stay together in the crowd and not get split up. I didn’t wear my Garmin but it felt like about a 8 min pace. About ¾ of the way through the first mile, we hit our first obstacle, a balance beam. It was about 4 feet off the ground and 4 inches wide. I got on it easy but fell within a few steps, my heart was racing from running and it took a few seconds to calm down enough to concentrate on the beam. Brett crossed without a problem and I finished on my second attempt. We continued to run and entered Animal Kingdom at mile 1.

It was pretty cool to run through this park since it’s not one that I’m very familiar with and it normally isn’t open at night due to the animal’s schedules. So it was a rare opportunity to see it at night. We did stop a few times on the route for pictures, we weren’t running to win but have fun. The heat started to get to me and I grabbed a water about mile 1.75. We hit our second obstacle about mile 2 which were tires on the ground that you had to run through. I did well with this, legs felt fine. About 2.5 miles I was starting to feel pretty sweaty and crappy. I slowed down a bit and was passed by a girl wearing long yoga pants and a black sports bra with numerous tattoos. I remarked to Brett “Who runs in Florida wearing yoga pants?” and Brett, knowing that I was slowing down, said “Doesn’t matter what she’s wearing, she just passed you.” Well, enough said, it was now my mission to pass her back! I picked it up and starting to catch her, running hard and feeling focused. I soon passed her and Brett told me I had about 15 feet on her. We came up to our next obstacle which were 6 hay bales that we hurdled. We exit the park on the side road now so I know that we’re closing in on the finish. I started to let up a little, only to see that “yoga pants” had caught up with me and was running hard as well. So I kicked into high gear and we stayed neck and neck. The last obstacle at mile 3 was a net that we had to crawl under so I did that a quickly as I could and ran across the 5k finish line, ahead of “yoga pants”! Our time was 28:16 – extremely slow for a 5k but we did stop for several pictures and had the obstacles to deal with.

We walked though the line of volunteers who were passing out our scavenger hunt clues, tiny flashlights and Sharpies. I quickly read the clue and figured out that we had to get to “Camp Mickey and Minnie”. I had cooled down enough to want to run hard again so we took off for the entrance of the park and found a volunteer who was passing out park maps. We run to Camp Mickey and Minnie, weaving around the remaining 5kers (there were at least 7 waves). We arrive at the first location and get our next clue. This one involved counting every 7 letters of a group of letters to spell out our next clue. That part wasn’t hard at all, it spelled “Ziwani Traders”. We search the map and find NOTHING about Ziwani Traders. A few other hunters gather in our area and we quickly find out that there are several different clues so working together wasn’t going to help. After about 5 minutes, I just tell Brett that Ziwani sounds African so why not run to the Africa area and search there. After we push through the crowd (so many people were in this area, trying to figure out their clue) we dash up to Africa and see several volunteers, standing in different areas. The first 3 volunteers tell us we’re in the wrong area so we go to the last one, who was standing in front of a bus that had “Ziwani Traders” writing in tiny letters on the side. She gave us our next clue which we deciphered to say “Lower Gardens”, which were again, not listed on the map. As we were debating about the Gardens being in Asia or on Discovery Island a volunteer overheard us and said “Asia, head to Asia” so we took off again.

As we enter the Asia area, Brett suddenly yells “Lower Gardens!” and makes a fast turn into a sunken garden off to the right. He finds the volunteer, shows him our completed clue and gets our next clue. This one told us to find the “Yen Palace Hotel Future Location”. We decide that Yen sounds Asian so we were staying in this area. We run down the road and I see “Yeti Palace Hotel” written on the side of a building with a volunteer sitting in front of it. I figure the clue must mean that once we capture the Yeti (the whole point of the Expedition Everest Challenge) they would rename this hotel to be Yen so I hand the volunteer our clue and he gives us our last clue. Woo-hoo! This clue instructs us to head to Dino Land for the finish. We have a new surge of energy so we hit It hard, pass as many people as we can (not easy on the narrower park roads) and see the finish line. We cross together, hold our hands in the air with a time of 58:07. We get our medals (very cool, they were compasses!), drinks and our gear bag. Then we get our picture taken with Mickey and Minnie, who signed my Everest tech shirt and hit the rides.

It was a great race. It was my second Disney race and I was so pleased with it. It was well organized and supported. The clues were tougher than I expected but that made it more fun too. And the most important part – team Date Night had a fun date!! Our official results showed that we finished 33rd out of 695 in the co-ed team division. Not too bad considering we struggled on a few clues. We were very happy and I’m looking forward to my next Disney Race, which hopefully will be the Princess Half Marathon in February.