Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Will

I was just about to write a new facebook status update when I thought STOP don't waste that on a status update; blog that baby where you can actually read it again someday.

That was likely an unfortunate use of a semi-colon.  Sadly, I could never quite figure those things out, so instead I use commas, and {... }and stuff.  But I now figure, that either way I'm probably getting it wrong, so why not just throw out a semi-colon every now and then too.  Awesome.


I was thinking...that parenting Lucy is like parenting a tiny, blonde version of myself.  She is three, but sister knows what she wants.  And how and when and where she wants it.  Her will is solid steel.  She has an opinion on everything.  It's exhausting to be her mom.  Not a bad exhausting, but exhausting none the less.  Because in parenting her, I don't want to break her will, but rather re-direct it.  I want to help her understand and learn how to live under authority, while still maintaining her own uniqueness.  

I know first hand the complications a strong-will can bring. But I also know, the benefits.  A strong will, that is lined up with God's will, is a force to be reckoned with.   

And lined up with Him, is the cry of my heart for both Lucy and I.  

Monday, October 28, 2013

I Ran...

So my race has been done for a week.  My intention was to write about it last Monday.  The problem was, that it was such a great experience that I'm not quite sure I can do it justice in words, so instead of writing, I just keep re-playing it in my head.  But it's not safe there...my memory is unreliable.  I mean, if I don't write it down now, how is Ben going to read it back to me when I'm old and can't remember anything?


Here goes more details than any person (other than me) could possibly want to read.  

The race was a couple hours from tiny town, and since it was my first big race, and first half marathon, I really wanted to have Ben and the kids along with me.  So Ben found someone to fill pulpit, we took the dog to the kennel, and we headed out of town on Saturday.  

On the way there, all crammed into our mini van, we tried to explain that this weekend was "all.about.mom."  It's a foreign concept.  We talked about all their sports practices I drive them to, and wait at, and pick them up from.  All the games, events, and stuff that is all about them.  So for two days, this was about mom and her race.  Their blank stares should probably have given us fair warning, but let's just say that Ben and I spent most of Saturday wondering why on earth we thought it was a good idea to haul along our four kids to this thing.  Seriously.

When we got into the city we filed through two different restaurants that were either too busy or too weird for us to eat at.  By the third one we were starving and crabby...but it turns out Outback Steakhouse can make everything better.   I tried to eat light, so that nothing would bother my stomach for the next day.  The kids were anxious to get to the hotel, because truthfully the trip was all about the pool for them.  So we did one of the things we do best:  Have the same conversation 5 million times.  

"When are we going to the hotel?"
"This weekend is about Mom, not the hotel."
"When are we going to the hotel?"
"We still have to go to the expo."
"What's an expo?"
*insert explaining an expo 500 times*
"What's an expo?"

I'm not even kidding.

After Outback we headed to Starbucks for a does of sanity and then back to the downtown area to the expo where there would be different vendors and where I needed to pick up my packet of information.  

The expo was really fun.  For me.  I bought a new bondi band (I love those things) and a bigger/stretchier fanny pack (for fuel and phone.)  The director of the race was giving a presentation, and so we all sat and listened to him talk about the course and they also had time for questions.  I love that sort of thing.  And the kids endured well.  I think the expo helped the kids start to see that this race thing, really was sort of a big deal.  

I remember the girl at the bondi band station asking me what I was running and how I felt.  I remember telling her it was my first half and "I'm ready!" and she smiled and said, "That's a good sign, you'll do great!"  It was reassuring.

We headed to our hotel, which is one we love, and then headed to the pool where I mostly just sat in the hot tub. Don't worry, I made sure not to get any water in my mouth because *nasty* and I could NOT have anything messing with my intestines.  For real.  

For my last long run a couple weeks prior, I had ate pizza for supper the night before, and the run went well.  So pizza was the plan.  We found the name of a cute little pizza place in the hotel menu thing, and then proceeded to get kind of lost finding it.  In the mean time, Lucy took a good 30 minute nap in the van...it was a much needed break, but we paid for it later when she didn't want to go to bed.  The pizza ended up being amazing.  The kids behavior: Not so much. 

As we tried to tuck everyone into bed that night, two kids on the floor, the other two in a full size bed complaining about touching one another, I just thought to myself...tomorrow will be worth it.  I hope. 

The race start time was 8 AM.  My alarm went off at 5:50, but I was already awake.  We got dressed and shuffled everyone along, snagging some breakfast-to-go from the hotel lobby.  I nibbled on a pumpkin bagel from Panera, and a little coffee.  I had stayed very hydrated the days before, and I didn't want to over-hydrate in the morning because it was only in the thirty's for temperature and I was trying to avoid porta potty's.  *nasty*

My brother has an apartment down in the area of the race.   My parents had stayed over-night with him, so the plan was to drop the kids off with them while Ben went with me to get settled in before the start of the race.  I'm so thankful he was there.   We kept laughing about how neither of us really had a clue what we were doing, where we should park, or where we were going.  There was an open YMCA located just beside of the start line, and many of the runners were hanging out in there to stay warm.  We found a corner, and sort of people watched.  I decided that maybe I needed to use the bathroom (if I could find it.)  The line was forever long, so I told Ben I would be fine on my own and he could head back to get the kids and my parents and brother. I also handed off my phone, which meant I was officially on my own.


I kept watching the clock.  It was about 20 minutes to race time, and I was still pretty far back in line.  I listened in to other people's conversations...it was a little weird being by myself...but good at the same time.  As I got into the locker room, I found out there were two flushing toilets and one non-flushing.  The hard-core people were going to the short line with the non-flusher.  There was not a chance I was doing that.  I am not hard core.  I ended up getting to the start line with a good 7 minutes to spare.  I had overcome the first hurdle. 

There are pace markers that you can line up with, and my plan was to run the first several miles well below my goal time.  Starting slow is key for me.  It's how I trained.  Negative splits.  I lined up with the 10:30 per mile pace and waited.  The race had over 10,000 athletes, and it was a sea of brightly colored people everywhere.  There was a nervous excitement in the air.  They played the national anthem and I got a little choked up.  All the training, all the lonely runs, mile after mile were all for these coming moments.  

We all started inching forward, kind of starting and stopping again until getting to the start line.  I was in the middle of the road, and kept checking my pace on my watch.  It felt like I was running slow, because people on both sides were passing me by, but my watch said 9:00 and that was way too fast.  I kept slowing and slowing and s-l-o-w-i-n-g.  In my head I was silently telling all of them "I'll pass you later." That adrenaline is powerful.  But running is as much or more about your brain than your body. I needed to stick to my plan.

The first few miles were all down-town and it went quickly.  Lot's of people had signs and were cheering.  I had my headphones on but it was still awesome to watch them.  At mile 2.5 a man held a sign that said "Smile if you've peed yourself."  It made me smile, because if you've peed yourself at mile 2.5 then it's gonna be a long race. 

I knew my family would be waiting around mile 4 somewhere.  And as we got closer to mile 4 the Elite half-marathoners were starting to come back from the loop and we got to see them, and others runners cheered them on.  It choked me up again.  I love runners.
Lucy and her cow bell



Waiting.  My brother wants me to wear a cape next time so I'm easier to spot. My mom is the one taking pictures with her ipad.  Thanks Mom :)  

I saw my family and their signs, and it was awesome.  I knew I would see them again in the same spot around mile 8.  I ran conservatively until about mile 6 and I knew I was feeling really good (from going out slow) so I started picking up the pace slightly.  I drank a few sips of water at about every station, just because.  It helped, and I ended up using less fuel (honey stingers) than I had in practice, simply because I had more access to fluids, I think.  There were bands and people playing guitars throughout the race.  I tried to pause my ipod to take a quick listen every now and then.  


At mile 8 I saw my family again.  So fun.  Ben was trying to take a picture with the camera, and catch up to me so he was running along the side...kinda like a crazy guy.  At one point he hurdled the cable fence.  So I smiled awkwardly at him. :)

5 miles left to go, and I knew I wouldn't see my family again until the finish.  I felt great, and continued to increase my pace.  Weaving in and around people was a good distraction.  Passing people felt pretty good too. At mile 10ish, my family surprised me by being in the crowd and once again, tears.  Seeing their faces and signs was such an encouragement.  


The last couple of miles seemed long to my brain.  My body felt good, and I didn't check my current pace, but I knew my average pace was getting faster.  I only train with my average pace and not current pace and I didn't want to mess with my head by doing anything differently.  It wasn't until I got home to hook my watch to the computer that I would be able to see my splits.  As the finished line approached, I kept thinking "Just keep running, just keep running..."  

I finished strong.  I felt great.  I found my family and chatted about the race.  They knew from my smiles when I saw them during the race that I must have felt pretty good.   After we took some pictures and I got in line for the free food.  I was able to shower and get ready at my brother's and then we headed to the mall.  Because shopping.  We also ate at Champps.  Obviously.



My goal for this first one was to finish in 2:15 or less and no walking.  I finished in 2:14:10 with no walking.  Yay!  My other goal was to enjoy the experience, rather than endure it.  Which is sometimes hard for me in life and in running.  I enjoyed that race.  Every single nugget of it.  

I learned some important things that I can only learn from experience racing.  Things I want to remember for the next one.  One, is that I could have kicked it in gear a little faster a little earlier.  My first few miles were in the 10:40 range, they progressively got faster with my 13th mile being a 9:17 pace.  I'm already setting goals for the next one, but I seriously could not have asked for a better first race!

I told my friend and running mentor, Heather, that the week after the race sort of felt like "the day after Christmas."  All that planning and then *poof* over.  But the running continues.  I could barely move the day after the race, I was so sore.  After a couple days I was fine, and Thursday morning I hit the road again.  The cold, dark, lonely road,  and couldn't help but feel like a warrior still.  For months, the race was the motivating factor for getting out there.  But Thursday morning, that was just for running.  And this morning, when I did 5, and it felt great, and kinda like a warm-up...well that felt pretty great too.

And it turns out, it was totally worth hauling the kids along.  A mom of boys will tell you, that boys seem to automatically look-up to and respect their daddy.  And while I know they love me dearly, I never quite posses that hero-status that Dad does.  But I think I surprised them this race.  I think they realized their mom is a whole lot stronger and tougher than they might have given her credit for...and managing to impress my boys hearts like that is pretty sweet.  The medal helps too.


Towards the end of the race, someone had a sign that read, "The person that starts the race, is not the same person that finishes the race."  And I love that.  So very true.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Dream On

I'm not generally a dreamer.  At night nor during the day.  I mostly drop into bed and I'm out until my alarm clock or Lucy rudely wake me up. But let life give me a little something to be a tiny bit anxious about and then I become a dreamer.

Right before my wedding, ages ago, I kept having dreams that my teeth were crumbling and falling out.  Over and over I'd have the same dream.  I think it has something to do with stress.  I wasn't stressed over marrying Ben, but rather all the details of a wedding.  Bleh.

The past week I keep having race dreams.  It's like the classic dream where you're late to class, or can't find your class, or get you locker open.  Except it's the running version.  Where I'm at the race but I'm not in my running clothes or the race is starting and I can't find the Start line-up and no matter how I try I just.can't. get.there.  

It's dumb, really.  

I wake up in the morning and feel tired.  Dreaming makes me tired.  That's why I like to stick to realism.    It's brutal, but at least I can sleep.

On a basically unrelated note:  I fell in a pothole this morning during my last taper run.  It is super dark in tiny-town in the mornings and it's not the most well-lit.  I try to wear neon shirts and I bought a little light to wear on my collar and reflector wrist bands.  I sort of think the little light just confuses drivers rather than making me more visible.  It's like they're so distracted trying to figure out where the little light is coming from that they sort of drive right towards me.  The pothole got in my way as I was trying to jump the curb.  The benefit of thick ankles:  Ya just keep on running.  



I need a break from tiny-town drivers.  And they need a break from me.

  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Just Run...

In three days I run my first half-marathon.  13.1 miles.  Yeow.

Tomorrow will be my last run before the race and will wrap up 20 weeks of training.  t-w-e-n-t-y.  Our base mileage was crap to start with so that's why we did a 20-week plan.  Four years ago I trained for one, and then ended up pregnant and barfing weeks before the race so I was unable to run it.  My good friend and running partner, Billie had to run it by herself. You can read about it here if you'd like.

Apparently it took 4 years for me to be willing to do it again.  And to talk Billie into it.  She joked about making me sign a contact saying I wouldn't get pregnant.  I promised, and I'd like to go on record as saying I held up my end of the deal. Awesome.

We trained so well.  So much better than last time.  I'm not sure why, but it was just better.  Our pace was faster, our endurance stronger, even our attitude was better.  I learned that I can run on my own.  Our schedules this Summer and Fall didn't match and so it forced me out there alone.  And that was good.  Very good.

Until September anyway, when Billie injured a muscle in her leg.  For a few weeks we held out hope that she would still be able to run/walk it.  But eventually denial gives way to truth.  And you have a good cry and then suck it up, and realize you can and will do things on your own.  I'm a big girl now. (did you sing it to the pull-up's commercial tune? Oh I hope so)

On long runs, I wrote some really moving and meaningful posts about running. They never actually made it to the computer, because the rest of my life gets in the way.  Which means:  I didn't make time for it.

But sitting here, three days out from the longest I've ever run in my entire life AND my first big race, there's some things I want to remember.  My future may or may not hold more half-mary's, but one thing is certain.  I only have a "first one" once.    
  • Running is a head game.  You train your body, and slowly and steadily it responds.  The brain is much harder to train.  It's hard-wired for comfort. Every time I run I have to re-direct my thoughts to "stop running this is such a dumb idea" to "you can and will do this and you are not going to die."
  • It has made me stronger physically, but it has also made me stronger mentally and emotionally.  It has helped put fear in perspective.  Because if I can run for two hours straight I can most certainly handle dealing with un-lovely people, amen?  
  • Running for me is always directly linked to spiritual things.  Every step and breath comes from my creator.  To get stronger physically, I must endure painful, painful training.  Some runs feel amazing, and others are miserable, and each teaches me something.  If I want a closer walk with God, I must go after it.  Commit.  And if I want to be more like Him, then it's gonna take some painful training. Painful endurance.  I do not get to be a spiritual giant if I'm unwilling to be trained.
  • This past year, outside of running, I have felt pushed passed my limits by people.  On long runs, when I was pushing past miles that I previously thought impossible God whispered you can endure. Not on my own, but because of Him, I can.
  • Runner's know that the person you compete against is yourself.  I'm not comparing myself to other runners, I'm comparing myself against my Nike gps watch.  That's what I love about it.  We all get to push and encourage and strive to be better.  We get to cheer each other on and celebrate victories.  We make light of the bad runs because they happen to everyone and anticipate the next run will be better.  Shake it off, get back up.  Runners know how to tolerate pain and being uncomfortable, because it's the very definition of running.  They are strong.  They are not whiners.  And I without a doubt wish more of us Christians acted like runners.  
  • After about 8 miles of running I start dreaming of how good the ice bath will feel.
  • One of my favorite running songs has been "Overcomer" by Mandisa. It has found a constant loop for many, many miles.  You're an overcomer.  Stay in the fight till the final round.  You're not going under, because God is holding you right now.    Don't quit, don't give in.






  • I am dreading the porta potty's.  Like more than I'm dreading 13.1 miles.
  • I must stick to my training plan.  Go out s-l-o-w.  Fuel often, and soak it in.  The end.
  • Also, my friends and family have graciously endured months and months of running talk.  They are awesome.  
So.  Next post = Race Recap. Hooray!  Hopefully...

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Birth Story Eleven Years Old

My middlest child turns 11 today.  This morning I dug out his baby photo albums, like I do on all their birthdays, and reminisced.  

About how time flies and goes slow all at the same time.  About how young, and naive Ben and I looked in the pictures.  About how 2002 was indeed the year of the overalls, every person in every picture is sporting a pair.

Eli was not "planned" by us.  His older brother was just 6 months old when we found out I was pregnant.  We lived a state away from our family, Ben was still in seminary, money was tight, schedules were tight, and I was not ready to go through the whole pregnancy and delivery thing again just yet.

As my three year old Lucy would say:  I freaked out.

I cried for two weeks.  I simply could not see any way that this was going to work out well.  This was not in my plan.  Only things I could handle were in my plan.  Hello self pity.

I remember being completely annoyed with my husband for not freaking out.  "It will be fine!"  "It's in God's plan!" should have brought comfort...but his blind faith seemed to just annoy me.  Certainly, he only was only being positive because he wasn't considering all the implications (for me) that were involved. Hello self pity.  Again.

I was embarrassed to tell people our news.  I mean, what kind of *idiots* have another baby when they already have a baby!  Us.  That's who.

I could write a thousand pages on the ways, big and itty bitty that God worked out the details for every. single. thing.  God showed me that from where I was, yeah...it looked pretty impossible.  But my view was so tiny, and so limited and so...wrong.  

Whenever I start feeling overwhelmed in a life situation, I've often take my heart back to those early days of finding out I was pregnant.  Because I remember that hopeless feeling.  That overwhelmed feeling.  That hard place.  And now I know, what I didn't really know then...that if I really want to see how big my God is, then I need to look at the impossible things with anticipation.  Because the impossible is right where God works.  And sometimes the hard, impossible stuff, is the best stuff.  Eli was meant to be, and his timing was not wrong...mine was.  He was and everyday is an incredible, amazing gift to our family.  We are not us, without him.  

I'll never forget September 27, 2002. (who doesn't love a  birth story?)

I had gone into my Dr. in the morning, in was a Friday just like today.  She stripped my membranes and said if I didn't go into labor on my own then I was scheduled to be induced on Monday.  I was cool with the Monday thing.  Mostly because then I was sure to get my epidural in time.  (My then 16 month old had been almost 10 pounds...no way I was doing that without drugs.)

The rest of the day went on as usual.  By early evening I started noticing some contractions, and started writing them down...but it didn't seem like "real" labor.  Ben worked until early evenings, so I talked to him around 7ish and asked if he would bring home a take-n-bake pizza.   

At some point the contractions must have gotten close enough together that I called the hospital just to see what they thought.  I remember the nurse saying to just take a warm bath, that it would help me relax and likely stop the contractions.  

Turns out the bath made them worse.  Much worse.  Ben got home and somehow managed to bake the pizza and eat while I got dressed.  My Aunt and Uncle were planning on keeping Noah for us while we were at the hospital.  The hospital was a half hour away from us, so the plan was for them to meet at our apartment to get him.  That night, it just so happened that they were with their family at the circus.  Ha.  They left the circus and met us at our apartment.  I could only walk in between contractions.  I remember the elevator ride in our apartment building seemed like it lasted for.ev.er. I had never experienced full fledged contractions before. 


It felt like a scene from a movie.  Ben drove like a crazy man to the hospital and I remember yelling at him not to do that, and then yelling at him to hurry up and get there.  He couldn't win.

He wheeled me inside and tried to find someone to get me where I needed to be.  It felt like it took days, but it was probably only 10 minutes.  They put me in an exam room to check me.  I kept telling them to call the anestesiologist, because I knew that it sometimes took them awhile to get there.  

The nurse checked me and said she had good news and bad news.  The "good" news was that I was fully dilated, and the baby was coming.  The bad news was no epidural.  

I wanted to die.  I am and never was one who thought experiencing child-birth without drugs seemed like a good idea.  Ever.  

They rushed me to the delivery room, and literally held the Eli's head in until the Dr. could get the scrubs on.  They kept saying "Don't push!" Yeah right.  My body was pushing all on it's own.

And Eli was born!  We had arrived at the hospital at 11:00 PM and he was born at 11:39 PM.  It was a blur.  We didn't know if we should call people and tell them the news, since it was so late.  I think we called our parents and then waited until morning to make the rest of the calls.

And just like that he was here.  And I, in fact, did survive without an epidural. But that was the last time I did it the "natural" way...I'll take the needle in my back any day.  ;)


Story Break:  I finished this part of my post on Friday the 27th, Eli's birthday.  I didn't hit publish before heading out to meet a friend for coffee.  During coffee, my oldest called from school with the flu.  By the time I got to the school, it had hit me too.  And by evening, my husband was knocked out with it too.  So Eli spent his 11th birthday with a bunch of sickies.  And in genuine Eli style, he took it all in stride.  Laid-back, no big deal, roll with the punches.  I love that kid.  I have so much to learn from him. So, it is now October 3rd, and I'm hitting publish.  



 Happy Birthday Buddy! Love you!