Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Let's Catch Up!

Okay, I know an update is overdue! It's been a busy few months, so I'll try to catch you up!

This was a challenging holiday season for me. I love all the time I get to spend with my family, but the days leading up to Thanksgiving and my birthday are really challenging right now, since I know the anniversary of my miscarriage is so close behind those days--days that I used to really enjoy. Since I had to travel for work just a few days after my birthday this year, I was more stressed out than usual, and just having a hard time looking forward to anything.

Fortunately, I managed to enjoy myself, have some nice visits with my family, and survive two back-to-back work trips! There have been a lot of extra stresses on me the past few month, but I definitely feel like I'm getting stronger and making progress!

Updated family picture
The work trips have been a huge challenge for the whole family. I've been worried about leaving everyone behind, about missing my flight, about missing out on things while I'm gone...all that good stuff. Hubby has to deal with his normal work stuff, and handle the kids and the dog on his own! I know lots of families make it every day as single-parent families, and they amaze me.

I had more work trips at the beginning of the year, and while it was hard to be away from my family, it was also cool to get to experience so many new things.

My last trip was at the end of January. Unfortunately, right after that trip, I slipped on some ice, and broke my jaw. I had to deal with a liquid diet for six weeks while my jaw healed. Definitely not my idea of a good time! The good news is that it only impacted my running for two weeks--after that I got right back to work! Now I've survived my liquid diet, my jaw is mending nicely, and I'm able to start eating real food again! I'm so relieved! The liquid diet was a huge challenge--by the end of the six weeks, I was as depressed about food as I was when I was pregnant and nothing sounded
The Things in their Easter finery
appealing. This time, everything sounded good, but I couldn't eat it! Hubby got creative and made me some exciting soups (I highly recommend his pizza soup), and my office bought a blender so I could make smoothies at work. It was great to have so much support while I was recovering, but I'm just so glad it's over!

Of course, I didn't forget my resolution from last year! I am proud to report that I passed my goal of running 500 miles last year! I don't have a specific mile goal for this year, but I'm planning to continue working on my race anxiety. I've made so much progress, and I want to keep it up!

Last but not least: the Things. They are growing into amazing people! There is nothing better than hearing your daughter say "Mommy, you my best fwiend," or your son say "I wuv you!" We definitely have some terrible twos going on, but we also have a lot of fun!

Things have been busy with all of the changes going on recently, I'm going to try to be better about updating here. So, that's all for now. More soon!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Taking it Back

As you may remember, last fall I had a really hard time with my first post-babies half marathon. I built that race up in my mind to something so important that I let myself get completely overwhelmed with anxiety on race morning. That's something I'm still working hard on. I know it's not an overnight fix, but my race anxiety is slowly but surely getting better.

I found out earlier this year that this year was going to be the final running of the Indianapolis Marathon (and half marathon and 5k) at Fort Benjamin Harrison. Since it was my goal race last year, and the race I set my PR at in 2012, a part of me really wanted to be involved in the race. The sane part of me knew that it would be a recipe for disaster to sign up to run the half marathon again. If I'd already built the race up in my mind last year, just imagine how much worse it would be running that race for the last time ever!!! I knew that it wasn't smart to sign up for the half marathon. I'd beat myself up if I couldn't finish it again, and the stress of worrying about whether I'd finish would sabotage me before the race even started.

But, I couldn't miss the race entirely! After lots of discussion, Hubby and I agreed to run the 5k together. I'd still get my to participate in the race, Hubby would get his first race medal, and I wouldn't have to stress out the same way I would if I were running the half.

Leading up to the race, I had some moments when I regretted only signing up for the 5k. I was still beating myself up for my anxiety, even though I knew that it was counterproductive. I'm still working to go easier on myself--I know that I need to cut myself the same slack that I'd cut others.

Anyway, Hubby and I made it to race day, agreeing to run the race together, and to have fun with it. It was a perfect fall morning for a race! A little chilly, but clear and dry, with perfect Indiana fall foliage. We paced ourselves well, and managed a decent kick at the end, and I was really pleased with how we did. I thought we did well, but I wasn't expecting anything special from the race. Imagine my surprise, when Hubby and I went to get our results, and they said "Congratulations!" and handed me this mug:
That't right! I took first in my age group! (Okay, I only took first because the first and second women in my age group were actually the first and third women finishers overall, but it was still an amazing feeling!)

I don't think I've ever been more proud of a race. It was an emotional race for me, for many reasons, but I pushed myself and made it through. We both ran well, and the result was so rewarding! I've been working really hard this year, and I've come in third, second, and now first in my age group in 5ks. I know I still have a lot of work to do, but I'm taking back races! It means a lot to me that my first place finish was at this race, since it's such a significant race to me, and I can't wait to keep working!

I know it's been a while since I updated you on my resolution progress, but I'm proud to report that I should be able to make my goal this year!! As of today, I've run 470.1 miles this year! I only have to run 30 miles by the end of the year to make it to 500 miles for the year, and I know I can make that! Obviously, I'm not going to stop right at 500, but it's nice to know that I'll be able to hit my mileage goal for the year.

Okay, this was a running-heavy post. I'll update on the babies later, but here's their Halloween picture, to tide you over in the meantime:
My little Minions!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Summer Full of Changes

Happy Fall!

Things have been busy over here (and so have the Things, for that matter!):

  • My sister-in-law got married (Yay!)
    Cutest ring bearer and flower girl EVER!
  • The Things turned TWO (Really!?!? But, also Yay!)
    Yay, birthday cake!
  • I started a new job (more Yay!)
  • We got lots of family visits in (super Yay!)
    Botanic Garden, parks, the Lake, you name it, we did it!
  • We all (including Mischa) ran a 5k together (Yay again!)
    Who knew, all Mischa needed was a little competition to turn into a speed demon!
Fancy family picture!
I'm sure there's a lot more, but those are the highlights. With everything going on, I totally let myself fall behind over here, but hopefully this fall will give me a chance to catch up again.

As an update: Thing 1's new favorite thing is the miniature pumpkin he saw in the grocery store. If he's awake, he needs to have the pumpkin to be happy. Thing 2 loves to sing, and is picking up the words to her favorite songs. She may not always get the tune right, but she'll give it her best shot! They're both very active, and talking a LOT (most of the time, we can even understand what they're saying!).

While you wait for the next update, enjoy the cute pictures! We've been up to a lot, so rest assured: there are more where these came from! I swear, these kids are getting cuter every day!
We prefer pretending to eat squash to actually eating squash!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Stubbornness or Stupidity?

In case you didn't know it, I'm a very stubborn person. I don't mean a little stubborn. I mean ridiculously, bordering on the edge of insanity, stubborn. Crazy (and possibly not in the good way) stubborn. I think it's why I've stuck with running... Part of success in running comes from not letting yourself quit, even when it's a good idea.

Anyway, you may remember that I ran into some trouble trying to run my first post-babies half marathon last year. Anxiety issues really threw me off my game and affected my ability to races. While it was bad before short races, I was afraid that the problems would actually impact my ability to finish longer races. So, I didn't finish the first half marathon I signed up for, and didn't even make it to the second one. I really let the fear and the anxiety take over any joy I had in racing.

I've been working on my anxiety this year, and running shorter races to take the control back. I still have some issues, but I can tell I've made a lot of progress.

After a good summer of running, I decided I wanted to make my comeback, for real this time. I hadn't been training officially, but I'd been gradually building my mileage, with the intention of running a half marathon, when the right one presented itself. I found a half that fit in with an appropriate taper after my awesome 10 mile run, took a deep breath, and signed up for it. I had a certain amount of trepidation, since it was an evening run (and we know how well my last evening race went) in the middle of July. I knew it was likely to be hot, but I was sure I'd trained through enough heat to manage it.

Let's put it this way: I'm an idiot. An idiot who was really, really wrong.

I'll admit that I had some pre-race anxiety. I was kind of miserable, but I worked through it, and I actually made it to the start line feeling a bit excited. That was a huge step for me.

But then the race started, and the wheels fell off pretty quickly. I probably would have been okay if the first couple miles of the race hadn't been run through a parking lot in the direct sunlight. The combination of baking asphalt and no breeze hit a lot of the runners hard.

From this distance, you can't tell if I'm smiling or crying...
I was actually feeling okay up until about mile 4. Around then, I started to feel nauseous, but I knew it wasn't anxiety again. This was all heat related. I tried to be careful, but the damage was already done. Sometime after mile 4, I got very ill. For the first time. Of several times.

I never thought I'd be the runner someone else took pity on. I never thought I'd be the one to have someone stop for me and say "You know what? I'm gonna walk the rest of this race with you." I know I probably should have stopped running after I got sick the first time. But this is where the crazy stubborn kicked in. I'd worked so hard to get to this point! I couldn't not finish again! If I let anxiety win this time, it would only get harder for me to finish my next race. (Yeah, I know this wasn't an anxiety issue. Heat exhaustion should totally get a pass on race day. But, I'm crazy.)

Let's just say that I got very sick many times during this race, and leave the rest up to your imagination. I know I wasn't the only person there struggling that day. Hubby said he got worried, when all three ambulances at the race got called out at the same time. It was a bad day for racing. Even the pacers dropped their pace flags, abandoning their time goals in favor of survival.

Fortunately, this was one of the friendliest races I've ever run. Multiple people asked me if I was okay, or if there was someone they could call for me. But, my new best friend is Mark. He's the kind soul who decided that his goal was well behind him, and that he could walk the rest of the way in with me. So, from about mile 11 on, the two of us slogged on together. Every time I stopped to be sick, he's say hopefully "Bug?" and I'd reply "Nope." Mark knew that I was struggling, but he understood how important finishing was to me. He stuck with me for the rest of the race, and helped me get across that finish line.

It was my slowest half marathon. But I finished it. It certainly wasn't the smart choice, but it meant so much to me. I proved to myself that I am stronger than I thought. I can fight through just about anything. And I finally finished that half marathon. Now, I have that confidence behind me, for the next time I run a half marathon. I know I can finish.

I was so lucky that hubby was there to cheer me on (and drive me home afterwards). It was reassuring to know that there was someone there to help me out at the end. Knowing that he was waiting for me also gave me more motivation to finish the race.

So, what did I learn from this race? I've learned that I am really strong. And more than a little stubborn (or crazy). I've learned that terrible things can happen during a race, but I can work through it. And I've learned that the next time something like this happens during a race, I can STOP RUNNING.

After the race was over, Mark said "So, you're gonna have to sign up to run this race again next year, to redeem yourself, huh?" To which I replied "NOPE!" This race was never important for any reason other than showing myself what I'm capable of. Now I know, and I see absolutely no reason to put myself through the misery that is a half marathon in July. Ever again.

So, there it is. My first half marathon post-babies. Was it what I wanted? Absolutely not. Am I disappointed with my time? Hell no. I finished the race. That's all this was ever about. Now, I'm looking forward to racing more, this time with less anxiety to weigh me down. I know I still have a way to go. I'm not "better" yet. But I'm getting there. One step at a time.

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Things Take Over the Museum

As I mentioned earlier, we recently took the Things on their first visit to the Kohl Children's Museum. Actually, it was their first visit to any museum, so it was a fun experiment for us all.

Making some noise
There are so many blog posts and article out there now, that have all kinds of advice on what to do with your kids in all situations, that it's really hard not to feel overwhelmed. Apparently, we can screw up our kids in so many more ways than I thought! The mere act of taking them to a museum is suddenly a situation fraught with opportunities for failure! You have to find the right balance of letting them lead the play, while making sure they're always safe. They need to make their own discoveries, even though it's obvious there are more things for them to discover. Being a parent is really intimidating!

Despite all of the potential pitfalls, Hubby and I braved the Museum with them, to see what kind of trouble the Things could get themselves into. We spent a lot of time just following them from one room to another, but it was honestly a lot fun to watch them make their own choices and figure stuff out while we were there.

Water is cool!
It seemed like their favorite areas were the car and train sections (big surprise, there), the water play area (yup, makes sense) and the music room (making noise? great!). Given their personalities, all of these choices make total sense, so I wasn't really surprised. But, it was so much fun to see them split up and explore at their own speed! Hubby and I went with man-to-man defense for the day, and would occasionally trade off kids during the visit.

While I wouldn't say they played "with" any of the other kids at the museum, there was some playing near other kids. They're very friendly around other kids, but I think they were so distracted by all of the exhibits that it barely registered that there were other people their size around them! It will be fun to go back as they grow up, and watch them figure more things out, and socialize more.

It was a pretty quick visit, since it was our first attempt museuming, but I'm looking forward to more trips in the future. Since I practically grew up at the Indianapolis Children's Museum, I'm really glad we have one near us that  we'll be able to go back to as the Things grow up!

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Best Day EVER!!

Some of you may know that I'm a member of the Irish Heritage Singers in Chicago. We're a small group that sings a mix of traditional and contemporary Irish music. I've been a member for almost three years now, and I've loved my time with them. I've been able to sing at the Milwaukee Irish Fest, and for the President of Ireland! But, all of that lost all meaning a couple of weeks ago, when I got to sing at the Taste of Chicago with THE CHIEFTAINS!!!!!!

For those of you who don't know, The Chieftains are freaking awesome! They've been around for 53 years, and they've played with musicians from Joan Baez to Elvis Costello to a NASA astronaut...and so many more! They play Irish music, but also put an Irish spin on music from other countries. I discovered Irish music in high school, and I've loved The Chieftains ever since then.

Sound check!
Imagine my surprise when our director told us that we had the opportunity to sing with them! Elated doesn't even begin to cover it! The whole thing came together quickly, and before I knew it, we were at the Taste, warming up onstage with THE CHIEFTAINS!!!!

They were totally lovely and wonderful to work with, and said such nice things about us. It was really a dream come true--and that was just the warm up!

After sound check, we had some free time to wander around the Taste, and since it had been several years since I'd been able to go, I took full advantage of my afternoon. One of my fellow Singers and I wandered around together, sampling some of the tasty food available. It was so much fun, just having an afternoon downtown to play tourist--I hadn't done that in a long time! Plus, the weather was absolutely perfect--it was just a great day to be outside, enjoying some of the best Chicago has to offer.

After all our Tasting, it was time to head back to get ready for the concert. I don't think I've spent that long primping in a while; but I had to look my best! After we warmed up together, I sat backstage and listened to the concert. I've been to a Chieftains concert before, but experiencing it from backstage was really cool. I loved seeing everything that went into the concert. I didn't realize it, but they ask local choirs, bagpipers and dancers to join them when they perform. I love that! It's a great way to show how Irish heritage is alive and well wherever they travel!

And suddenly, it was time for us to go on! We filed onstage, the music started...and we SANG! It was such a fabulous experience! The crowd was great, and it was all so much fun. We got to watch the dancers while we were onstage, and the bagpipers went on right after us, so we got to the whole Chieftains experience.

Once we left the stage, I thought that was it, but I was wrong! I asked one of the professional dancers if I could take a picture with him, and he invited me to join them all onstage, dancing in the final song. Of course I said yes! At the end of the concert, they did a big dance line across the stage, through the audience and then back to the stage, and I joined right in with them! Totally the perfect end to an awesome day! Speaking of perfect: the whole thing was made even better by the fact that Hubby and the Things were in the audience as well! It really was an awesome day, and the fact that my family got to be there with me was absolutely amazing.
It's already been over two weeks since the concert, and I still can't believe that it happened. I'm so glad I had this opportunity--it really was the most amazing thing.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled blogging! Thanks for bearing with my excitement!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Happy 4th!

Happy 4th of July!
Our second 4th of July as a family has come and gone, and I have to say, it went pretty well! We had a lovely, long weekend together, with lots of adventures all around! The only person with any complaints about the weekend is Mischa, and she got to sleep in our bed when there were fireworks, so I think she came out pretty well in the bargain. (She's absolutely terrified of fireworks and thunderstorms, so she spent a lot of the weekend shivering under the covers in our bed.)

Thing 2 loved the rocky horse!
Saturday, as I mentioned before, was the Things' first race! Hubby and I were both a little apprehensive, since it started at 12:45--squarely in the middle of nap time. However, the Things love new surroundings! They may have been a little sleepy, but by the time we got to the park where the race was to start, they were ready to be entertained.

We played at the park for the 30 minutes before the race started, which may have been a rookie mistake. Who lets their kids wear themselves out right before they have to run a race!?!? Oops!

Big boy on the slide!
This was probably the most busy they'd ever seen a playground before, but they handled it like champs. There were big kids running and jumping all around them (although, they were actually impressively attentive to the littler ones--no one got trampled), but the Things kept on doing their...things. We tried not to hover too much, and just watched them figure stuff out on their own, which was pretty great!

Finally, the Northwestern mascot came out to lead all the kids in some stretching before the race started. Thing 1 showed no interest in that whatsoever, but Thing 2 was intrigued by the process. She stood with the other kids and watched them windmill their arms and touch their toes. She didn't do any of it, but she was clearly very curious about the proceedings...
Thing 2, not stretching

And then, it was race time! We all lined up in the street--they let the older kids start first, and we waited way at the back of the pack. When it was our turn, the Things trotted off, arms flapping in excitement. They held our hands, and smiled the whole time, even when they got tired. Lots of people were there to cheer on the kids, and the Things got lots of attention as the smallest racers. I think they really liked all the people clapping for them! There was also a policeman on a motorcycle, who absolutely entranced Thing 1.

Sure, Thing 2 needed to be carried for a few steps by the end, but when I asked her if she could cross the finish line by herself she said "YEAH!" And she did. Sure, we were the last and second-to-last finishers in the race. Sure, it felt like the longest, slowest half mile ever. BUT, the kids finished their first race! They got finisher ribbons, and post-race treats for their hard work. I'm hoping this will be the first of many races they run, and I can't wait to really run races with them as they get bigger!
We did it!

The rest of the weekend was spent cooking out, hanging out with friends, and taking our first trip to the Kohl Children's Museum! That was lots of fun, but I'll save that update for another post. We didn't see any fireworks, but I think we celebrated just fine without them