Friday, April 26, 2013

SLC Half Marathon 2013 Race Recap

My first running event since last year's marathon and The Big Injury was an official success.  Hooray!  Running is awesome.  This is my third or fourth time running the SLC Half Marathon, and my sixth or seventh total Half (Is it weird that I can't remember?  I also can't remember all of my finishing times.  Going slowly crazy, me.). 

Here are a million wordy details of how it all went down for me:

The conditions:
Rainy!  Rainy and 40 degrees from start to finish.  I fussed about my choice of clothing the night before the race.  Then I had running anxiety dreams all night.  I dreamt that I had to stop mid-race to remove my jacket and repin my bib for 30 minutes, which just killed my changes for a PR. I woke up in the morning and decided to ditch the jacket completely and run in two t-shirts (one short sleeve, one long sleeve) and running capris.  Perfect choice for the conditions.

Getting to the start line:
The Trax train I rode to the start line was packed to the brim with people.  We smashed in like sardines, veeerrrrry uncomfortably close with all the strangers around us, until they stopped the train a couple stops from the start line and made us all get off so the train could be searched by police with dogs.

At the start line:
The runners were surrounded by security.  There were police cars, fire trucks, and a bomb squad car.  National guard were walking around among the runners.  Totally surreal.

The race committe decided to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing by passing out wrist bands for us to wear through the race.  We observed a 30 second moment of silence at the start of the race, and then they played Sweet Caroline as we began running.  I didn't know that song was a Boston Thing until now, but it felt significant, and I still have it running through my head.  I liked it before, but I think it will always be a favorite song of mine now.

The Run:
I wish I could say it was a great run for me.  It wasn't.  I suffered through the entire thing!  I'm blaming it on altitude.  My diaphragm muscle cramped up in the middle of the first mile(!!!), and I could hardly breathe for the first four miles!  It felt like such a bummer.  I went out with a PR in mind, and I felt myself slowing up because I just couldn't get enough breath.  But a couple of water breaks were helpful, and I was able to stay on track.

There were 7000 runners in this event.  There were pace groups at the start line, but it really felt like everyone ignored them.  I felt crowded for the ten miles.  I was constantly fighting for space to run and dodging and passing people almost the entire run.  Kind of annoying.

The last four miles were rough.  I'm still blaming the altitude.  I was on pace for a good PR, but struggling.  I was so tired, my calves were cramping up, and I needed a distraction.  So I started up a conversation with a guy who happened to be running by me at the time.  And let me tell you, he was my Race Savior!  He talked and provided the perfect distraction.  I found out that he is a physician living in Boise.  We talked about medical school and medical life.  When he found out what my goal time was, he said, "Oh, you'll make it!  Just stick with me!"  I wish I could have, but I had to slow up for the last mile.  What a nice guy.  I saw him after, and I think he came in a minute or two ahead of me.

I finished tired but strong (I love feeling the technique carry me through).  My sisters and Dad were at the finish line, standing in the cold and rain, cheering me on.  Offical Time: 1:53:16.  A PR of about 5 minutes (the last one of 1:58 set in Sept. 2011 at the Pocatello Half Marathon).  I seriously couldn't be happier with it, although I know that it's going to be a hard time for me to beat next time.

I got so cold after I stopped running.  So cold.  My running clothes were completely drenched.  I shivered for a couple of hours afterwards. 

My calves and the tops of my feet got really sore afterwards.  Sore like, here is a flight of stairs, and I can't walk down it!  Aaagh!  I normally don't calf pain.  I rested for a few days, and then went on a short jog yesterday to loosen things up.  My calves immediately cramped up again.  Ow!  I think it's all related to my orthotics breaking, and now I'm running without them, and my legs are in a transition phase.  Spiff thinks I have some minor muscles tearing in my calves now that will need some time to heal.  Blah.  Being injured stinks, and I don't like having to rest.

Some things that made this event so great for me:
I watched my awesome friend, Lindsey, finish her very first half marathon! So excited for her and proud of her!

I have always enjoyed this event, but there was a change in event administration this year, and I liked it even more. The course was changed for the better (I loved running through Sugarhouse Park and ending the race at Liberty Park, instead of running into downtown), and the money allocated more efficiently, which included a big bonus for me--a decent race t-shirt, which is not the oversized monstrosities from previous years that sit in my drawer as nothing more than a momento.

I loved running through SLC this time. This is the first time I have run the race after living in SLC. I loved running through my old stomping grounds, my old training routes. It felt so familiar, yet fresh and awesome since it has been a year since I have run there. Awesome training memories from running in SLC!!!

In the wake of the Boston Marathon Bombings, this race was an emotional experience for me.  No crying, or anything, I was just moved by it.  I have followed every piece of news about that horrific event.  I was not directly affected by it, but it is so close to my heart.  The Boston Marathon is the pinacle of running accomplishments, a celebration of the human spirit, and it was such an offensive venue for terrorism.  Despite all of that, I saw something amazing happen as I participated in this event:

I saw thousands of runners out there who showed up and performed with enthusiasm, refusing to be intimidated by terrorists.  I saw people on the sidelines throughout the entire course, standing in the rain and cold, cheering for us with "We Heart Boston" signs.  This is a community of people who truly celebrate the joys of the human spirit, and I am honored to be a part of it.

Running is awesome.  I can't wait for my next race.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Conversations with My Boys

A friend recently and very generously shared a candy-filled Easter egg with Hobbes.  Hobbes experienced a 2-year-old love affair with nerds-covered jelly beans, and ever since then has expressed feelings of a strong kinship with this friend.  The other day, I found him putting his coat and boots on and getting ready to walk out the front door.

Me: Where are you going, Hobbes?
Hobbes: Uh, going Greggie's house.  More Easser egg.  More candy.

Sorry, Greg.  He may only love you for your candy.


As we were leaving a birthday party, with several witnesses milling about:

Brother M: (Teasingly) Gunner, are you riding your camel home?
Gunner: (Without missing a beat) No, it's at home with my dad.
Brother M: Well, don't forget to take your gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Gunner: (Confusion setting in) Uh, What the heck?!


This week, I witnessed Hobbes bravely (and seemingly absentmindedly) walk away from me at the library.  I watched him go, wondering when he would feel uncomfortable that I wasn't around.  I became uncomfortable long before he did.  I ran after him and caught up as he was walking out the front door.

Me: Where do you think you're going?
Gunner: Home.  I done.

Hmmm...It would have been a long walk.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Fear of Flying

The boys and I are going on a trip on Monday.  We are super excited to see friends and family to do special fun things.  I will be extra excited after I have a large chunk of items crossed off my mile-long prepping-for-the-trip-to-do list.  So much to do!

But for now, I'm experiencing a fear of flying.  I haven't had to fly on a commercial flight for about 2 1/2  years (totally lucked out on that one), not since Gunner was still a lap child.  Hobbes has never been on a plane.  Spiff is staying home to work, so I'll be doing this alone.

I looked online last night for tips for flying with young kids.  Mostly, I was looking for fun game and entertainment ideas for the kids.  But what I got was stories like this one, which made me terribly afraid to take my kids on a plane!  Not that I think someone is going to slap my kid, but I guess it's not out of the realm of possibilities.  Other possibilities running through my head are that Hobbes runs away and gets lost in the airport.  Can you say "Loose Cannon", folks?  Because that's what he is.  I lost him in the library the other day.  Keeping track of him in an airport is going to be tricky, to say the least.

So, I'm looking for ideas.  Real ones.  Ones you use with your kids.  What works to keep your kids happy(ish) and cooperative(ish) in the airport and on the plane.
Friends, help me get through this, please!

What we have:
We all have our own seats on the plane.
We have a layover.
The boys each have their own backpack.
I have my Ipad.

Questions I have:
How do I get all my stuff (carseats, luggage, etc.) from the car to the check-in?
How do you handle food/snacks/meals?
How do you decide what to bring in carry-on bags in order to be prepared for all possibilities, without bringing too much to carry?

And please enlighten me on all things I haven't thought of.
Thanks ahead of time!  My love to you all (all eight of you)!

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

I am Inspired By...

I have come across a few new-to-me food blogs in the past few days that I seriously love.  They are the kind of websites that I can lose myself in for hours.  They feature food that looks great, but really I just love their writing styles.  I love that they are both passionate about food and family, and secretly, I want to be their friend.  Check them out for a little dose of inspiration.

In the Little Red House  (They go on adventures, like I dream about doing.)

Dinner: A Love Story (She is a writer.  He is an editor.  I love what they say together.)

I laughed out loud at these two articles, here and here.



What are your current favorite online reads?

Sunday, April 07, 2013

My Heavenly Father Loves Me

I love this weekend every year.  I adore General Conference weekend and the opportunity to hear our beloved Prophet and his general authorities speak about the truth of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It has been a breath of fresh air to me this time around.  Truth is truth, and there is no way around it.

I cherish these times when I feel the Spirit and can feel my testimony growing, when most of the time I tend to feel lazy, overwhelmed by every day tasks, and outside of the Lord's watchful eye.  Here is a very lengthy account of a testimony-building experience.  I'm writing it down because I want to remember.

Spiff lost his wallet this week.

He noticed it was missing just before we went to bed.  He started to retrace his steps and look in all of the obvious places.  When he couldn't find it easily, he involved me, and we initiated a search of our house and our memories of the evening, which went like this:

Spiff got a car wash on his way home from work, parked the car in the driveway, then we all hung out for the remainder of the evening.  He read to Gunner on the couch while I took Hobbes for a walk.  We ate dinner.  We put the kids to bed.  He studied.  End of story.  Not a lot happened, and we couldn't fathom how the wallet could have gone too far.

My reaction to these situations is to clean.  I began to pick up the mess I had been ignoring, searching while I cleaned and organized.  We both looked in the car several times.  We looked on the couch.  We looked in, under and around the couch.  We looked in coat pockets.  We had the thought that perhaps our mischievous toddler walked off with it and hid it, so we searched the toy room.  We entertained the idea that it had been stolen out of the car while it was parked outside the house.  We checked the bank account.  No activity.  We sighed relief and hoped it wasn't true. How could it have just disappeared?

It wasn't turning up, but knowing we both had a long day ahead of us, we gave up and went to bed.  We woke early, Spiff went to work, and I continued to search.  I was certain the wallet had fallen into some laundry, so I folded some laundry.  No luck.  I went through the dirty laundry baskets, certain it was placed there by accident.  Still no luck.  I started searching through drawers.  I looked in every drawer and cupboard in the kitchen.  I searched the kids room.  I searched the garbage.

Every nook and cranny in the house.

No wallet.

At that point, I panicked.  The contents of our wallets are so important, so personal, so all-encompassing.  So debilitating if missing.  What does one do without it?  What if it really had been stolen out of the car, which was on our driveway, in our very safe and quiet neighborhood?!  I called the bank to cancel his cards.

I remembered countless stories of people who had lost important items, who humbled themselves, who got down on their knees and prayed for help finding this or that.  Every story had a happy ending.  They prayed, they opened their eyes, then miraculously found their treasure.  Easy peasey.

So I prayed.  And I prayed again.  And again.

I often feel like my prayers are not answered.  I often feel as if I am not significant enough for God's attention.  I guess I am a skeptic at heart.  I am a faithful person, but I know I am not even close to perfect in action or attitude.  It makes sense to me that Heavenly Father would rather answer some other, more faithful person's prayer.

But I prayed.

Spiff got home from work early, and we continued to search with no luck.  We systematically searched everywhere we could think of.  Why wasn't my prayer being answered?  I hadn't looked up and miraculously seen the wallet shimmering in the sunlight on top of the dresser where we happened to forget to look.

Spiff decided to give up.  We were on our way out the door to go to the DMV to replace his driver's license.

The thought kept occurring to me, "Keep looking.  Keep looking keep looking keep looking."

Okay, we'll keep looking.  But where?!

Spiff made one last trip to search the car.  (How many times had we looked in the car?  At least ten already.)

And he found the wallet.  It had fallen between the passenger seat and door.

I was so relieved that I cried. I also cried in thankfulness that the Lord does in fact hear me.  He knows me, and He did answer my prayers.  He didn't tell me where to look, but He did ask me not to give up.

To me, it's even more than an answer to this prayer.  It is a lesson for my life.  Keep looking.  Keep Going.  Stay vigilant in following God's commandments and standing up for the things that are right and good.  Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are here to be my ultimate support system in all trials.  They want me to succeed and to be happy.  They love me.

I am grateful.  Today, my testimony is rock solid.  I love the Gospel.

Now, I'm off to listen to conference.  My heart is full.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Happy Easter Fool's Day

Spiff was on Weekend Call the past few days.  For the uninitiated (most of us), that means that he was on call overnight on Friday, then again for 24 hours on Sunday, from 7 a.m. Sun. to 7 a.m. on Monday.  That meant that the boys and I celebrated Easter alone.  We had a great little time together, opening Easter baskets, hunting for eggs, dying eggs, eating candy by the bucketful (it seems, anyway), and playing with New Toys!  We also read the Easter story in the scriptures and enjoyed church together.

It was weird when Spiff got home this morning and asked, "How was your Easter?"  So strange not to even see him on a holiday.  Such a weird life we lead.

Anyway, since he wasn't going to around on Easter, we decided to have a special dinner on Saturday night.  Since I happened to have a turkey in my freezer, I made a turkey dinner, complete with stuffing (which didn't turn bummer for me) and pie.  I spent all day in the kitchen, and it was a fun evening with friends, and the food was delicious.  And I was cured of any and all desire to be in the kitchen for long stretches of time for a good six months.  I cannot believe the amount of work that one meal is!  It is definitely a multiple-person job.  Yikes.

Here's a side note:  I realize that it's sort of tradition for people to make a ham on Easter.  But I was also under the impression that it is sort of an open food holiday.  Am I wrong about that?  My family never had a strict meal plan for Easter.  Sometimes it was ham, sometimes chicken, etc.  My dinner confused people.  Every time someone asked about my Easter dinner plans, and I would tell her that I was making a turkey, and every single person gave me a look that said, "You are crazy!  Where is your ham?!"  I don't get that.

So Easter was great, even though it was cold, and there is still snow on the ground, and it was Spiff-less.

Then today is April 1, and to continue our weekend-long holiday fest, this afternoon, Spiff decided to teach Gunner in the ways of Poisson D'Avril (remember this?).  They were very sneaky and stuck a fish to my back as I was doing the laundry.  The little prank sent Gunner into fits and giggles of delight!  He then had to sneak around and stick fish to Spiff's back as he played the piano.  We discovered that Gunner is the world's worst sneaker because he giggles the entire time.  Hilarious!

Their little joke, this one and this one got me into spirit of April Fool's Day, and I got sneaky myself.  I used some leftover pie dough, raided the kids' Easter candy, and cooked up a little something special for Spiff for dinner.  Take a look at this little baby!

Backstory:  Every time I ask Spiff if there is anything he would like to be on our weekly menu, without fail (I'm not kidding.  It is every single time.) he responds, "Jelly Bean Pie."
Here is his very own Jelly Bean Pie!  I'm a genius!
And the kids were totally jealous.
I have officially "won dinner" for the next century.

And then, since I'm so funny, I used some leftover mashed potatoes from Saturday's dinner and served the kids some "dessert."  It looks pretty good, huh?!
They were not amused.  
Well, not until we pulled out the real ice cream from the freezer.  I'm so funny.

Thank you, Turkey Dinner.  I couldn't have done it without you.


The icing on the cake today when I was reading scriptures to the kids at bedtime.  
Gunner asked, "Can we read the one about the Joking Day?"

Because when there's a holiday, there must be a scripture story to match.