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

Monday, June 29, 2015

Running Update

It's been a while since I posted about running, so I thought I'd take a minute to do that!

First, here's a quick update on my resolution: I was starting to get worried that I wouldn't make it to 500 miles by the end of the year, after the slow start I got thanks to weather and various illness-related setbacks. But, now that summer is here with it's better weather and longer daylight hours, I'm running strong! As of my (epic, PR-setting) 10-mile run on Saturday, I'm officially at 251.9 miles for the year so far! That's right, I'm over halfway there, before the year is halfway over!!! Wooooo hooo! It's nice to have that little reassurance that I can make my goal, even if I hit some bumps in the road on the way there.

Speaking of bumps: I've had my fair share of those when it comes to running recently. I've been doing a good job, running a race every month in April, May and June, but my May race was pretty rough. I'd decided to find a 10k to run on May 16th, since that was the distance I wanted to run that weekend. So, I looked for races nearby, and found an evening trail run close to my house that day. It seemed perfect! Everything was lining up just the way I wanted! An evening run would be great, since it would get rid of all the pressure of getting out the door at a crazy hour. So, I registered the day before the race, and showed up on race day, full of anticipation.

I should have been full of dread. It. Was. Awful. First of all, the day the hottest we'd had in a while, and I was totally unprepared for that. Sure, I carried my own water for the race, but that just wasn't enough to combat the heat of the day combined with the direct sunshine at the start of the race. Yeah, evening run didn't mean nice, shady run. It meant, full-on, blazing sunlight when we took off! Yowch!

The race was a small event, which I'm usually good at. I can generally count on starting toward the middle of the pack, and doing well there. Apparently, this race was full of speedsters, though. They all started out crazy fast, and it wasn't until I heard my split for my first mile that I knew I'd gone out too hard. On a cooler day, with more shade, that pace would have been fine; but that wasn't the race I was running.

I tried to pull back and run smarter, but the damage had already been done. I had to take multiple walk
This is early in the race, which is why I look so happy...
breaks, and spent most of the race utterly alone. I wasn't the last person on the course, but there was no one in sight of me, in front or behind. It was pretty lonely and miserable, and I imagined myself passing out as soon as I crossed the finish line (if I made it that far).

I managed to tough it out and cross the finish line. No question of setting a PR, but I was really proud of the fact that I finished, since it was pretty much the worst race I'd ever run. I drank a bunch of fluids, and then got myself home, where I discovered a hitchhiker on my ankle. Yup. I'd picked up my first ever tick!!! YIKES! I totally freaked out, and made hubby come take care of the interloper. I still get the wibblies, just thinking about it. Ick.

Anyway, after all of that excitement, I started to feel really crappy. I had a huge headache, and my muscles were really sore. I could tell something was off, but it wasn't until I threw up spectacularly that it dawned on me: heat exhaustion. To add insult to the injury of that race, and as if I needed further proof that I hadn't run a smart race, I spent the evening being violently sick. Fun, fun, fun!

I didn't do much better the following weekend, when I had to cut short a planned 8-mile run after wiping out on the sidewalk. Fortunately, I didn't do anything worse than skin my left knee and right palm, but I knew finishing the run was out of the question. I was able to pick up running again without any lost time, but it was a few weeks before I went back to doing yoga...it's really hard to do most of the poses when you're down to one useable hand and knee.

Luckily, my most recent race was a much more enjoyable experience! Hubby and I ran the DePauw Almuni 5k Challenge for my 10th college reunion earlier this month, and it was fantastic! We ran together the whole time, enjoying a part of the campus that wasn't around when I was there, and feeling mildly smug that we were up and active while a lot of people were still in bed, hungover from the night before. That was a really smart run for both of us, and it did a lot to offset my May race.

And that brings me to now! I'm feeling really strong (as if evidenced by my aforementioned PR-setting 10 mile run), and really enjoying my running so far this summer! I've been doing yoga at least a couple of times a week, and I think it's starting to pay off. I'm focusing on the positive in my runs, and thinking about making plans for another race soon.

Next up on the calendar is the Things' first race!! We've signed them up for a half-mile fun run on the 4th of July! I'm looking forward to seeing what they do when we let them loose--it should be a lot of fun!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Saying Goodbye

The Things were very lucky when they were born, to still have three great grandmothers living. They were also lucky enough to meet two of them at a very young age, and they've had several visits with both GG and Backy so far. Unfortunately, we hadn't been as good about getting them out to visit my dad's mother, since she lived in Ohio.

I knew we needed to change that, and we all made plans to go see her over Mother's Day weekend. Sadly, we waited too long, and she passed away the day before the babies were supposed to go meet her.

I feel so many things about this situation. I'm so sad that the babies never got to meet her, and that I never got to say goodbye. I'm mad at myself that we didn't try to make the trip sooner. I feel so guilty that I let myself fall so out of touch with her. If I'm honest, I'm a little mad at her too, for not holding on one more day.

My second Mother's Day ended up nothing like I wanted it to be, although I'm trying to remind myself to be grateful for the weekend I had. The babies got to visit with both of their Great Aunts and Uncles from that side of the family, and really enjoyed exploring a new place. We also went swimming at the pool, and got to spend time with GG on Mother's Day. It wasn't what I wanted for the weekend, but I know the babies had a good time, and that makes me happy.

Fun with Nana
Exploring the great outdoors

Together after the service

One thing that make me feel better about the situation is the fact that we all got to say goodbye to Grandma, together. At the end of May, we had a memorial service for her in Ohio, and we all got to go. The Things got to meet two of my cousins for the first time, which makes me so happy. Sarah and I got to sing "Danny Boy" together at the service, which was hard, but wonderful. I'd never sung at a funeral for a family member before, and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to make it through the song. As much as TV shows romanticize singing and crying, I know that I don't do it well. But, Sarah and I made it through, and I like to think it would have made Grandma happy.

Obviously, we've been up to more since the end of May, but I wanted to take a moment to talk about this, since it had such a big impact on me recently.

Grandma, I hope you know how much I loved you. Big kisses!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

REAL Women Move

Okay, I've been working on this post for a while, so it's time to just write it, already! I know I've mentioned my involvement as an Ambassador for Skirt Sports before, so I wanted to take a minute to talk about a new mission they've started, called #REALwomenmove. It's all about getting women to embrace their inner awesome and promote fitness at all levels. You can find out more about it here.

For those of you who know me, you may know that I was not always a runner. I watched my dad run all through my childhood, but never really got it. Sure, I ran a couple of races (I was that obnoxious kid who made her mom walk with her when she got tired, and then blasted away at the finish line), and owned a pair of running shoes, but it wasn't something that I was interested in doing more than a couple of times a year.

Instead, I kept busy with dance and theatre and choir. I was active, just in more artistic pursuits, and I'm really glad my parents were okay with that. I played soccer and softball when I was a kid, but they didn't pressure me to keep with it, when it clearly wasn't something I was interested in (or very good at).

Once Hubby and I moved to DC, though, something just clicked. It may have had something to do with the fact that my BFF was living in the same town, and she liked to run, or maybe it was getting to run past national monuments all the time, but that's where I became a runner. Running through the brutal DC summers made me stronger, and the winters were mild enough that I could keep running outside year-round. DC gave me the bug, and I brought it back home to the Midwest when we moved.

Now, I'm still running happily, more than 5 years (and 2 babies) later! I've had my setbacks, but I know it's something I'm stuck with. Getting out there, having that time to think about nothing but putting one foot in front of the other, always brings me back to real life feeling refreshed.

I run to keep myself sane, and to keep myself in shape. I want to be a role model for my kids as they grow up. I want them both to know that being active is fun, and that sweating is okay. I'm sure Thing 1 will be encouraged to try different sports as he grows up, and I want Thing 2 to know that she can play, too. They can dance, if that's what they want, or they can run, or play baseball, or soccer. Whatever.

Running may not always be pretty (ask me about my colossal wipeout the other week), and it may not always be easy, but it's a part of who I am. I'm glad to know there's a group of like-minded women out there, moving with me, doing what they can to stay active.

If you're interested, check out Skirt Sports--they've got great gear for whatever keeps you active. Check out their #REALwomenmove initiative, and see some of the inspiring women I've teamed up with. Oh, and if you realize you need new activewear, you can use the discount code SSAMB20NE to get 20% off your order!

Whether it's running, biking, swimming, or something else, get out there, stay active and just keep moving!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

First Family Race

This past Saturday, the whole family (except for Mischa) ran the Loop the Lakes 5k in Vernon Hills. It was the first race of the year for Hubby and me and the first race ever for the Things, and I have to say I'm pleased with how well it all went!

It was a small race, run by the Vernon Hills Park District, so there was no packet pick up ahead of time.
Runners in training?
Instead, they set up at the park before the race, and it was such a small event that we didn't have any problem getting there, finding parking, and getting our packets. We let the Things run around for a bit before the race, which they certainly appreciated, and just spent some time wandering around together.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the park shelter had REAL, working bathrooms, with flushing toilets and running water. I know this would have been a huge problem at a bigger race, but I never saw a line running out the door, so I think the capacity must have been okay for the size of the field. It also seemed like a lot of locals ran the race, so I'm guessing they had their own facilities close by... Either way, no complaints here!

The weather day-of wasn't nearly as nice as we were hoping for: it was chilly (in the low 40's), and threatening to rain the whole time. Plus, there was a significant amount of wind. Add that to the hills on the course, and it was a challenging race. Challenging, but rewarding!

Hubby was nice enough to let me run the race as fast as I wanted, while he pushed the Things in their stroller. I knew for a fact that I wasn't strong enough to push the stroller the whole distance, and I was secretly hoping that I might PR, or maybe even place, so I was really glad he let me do that.

I started out close to the front, and picked my pace and just settled in. I've been almost enjoying the hills (such as they are) in our area, so I wasn't concerned about the hills in this race. In fact, I picked off most of the people I passed on the uphills! It was a good feeling. The course took us on a one-and-a-half-ish loop of the lakes in the park, so we got a chance to see where we'd be finishing, and had a good way to gauge how much we had left.

I felt really strong for most of the race, and didn't get passed by many people. As I was getting close to the end, a volunteer said "You might be the third woman!" I was really excited by that, and pushed a little harder. I actually passed a guy close to the end, but could hear him trying to catch me once the finish line came into view. Hearing him stomping up behind me gave me a faster kick than usual, and I flew across the finish in a new PR (26:19)! Take that, #17!

I even got a trophy!
Since I was pretty sure I'd placed in my age group, we waited around for the awards ceremony. Sure enough, I was awarded third in my age group, and fifth woman overall! Not too shabby!
However, the next day, I found out that I'd actually placed second in my age group, due to an error in tabulation on race day. Wahoo!!! I'll be trading in my shiny third place trophy for and even shinier second place one this weekend!

I will admit, I'm still working through some race anxiety. The pre-race stuff didn't go as smoothly as I would have liked, but I can tell I'm making progress. I'm working really hard to get back to my love of racing, and this race was a huge step in the right direction. I'm taking things slowly, but I know I'll get there. I'm really looking forward to even more family races as the Things grow up.

I almost forgot to mention: Hubby was a complete rock star pushing the stroller! He was the first stroller to finish, came in under 30 minutes, and ninth in his age group! I came in 25th overall, and he came in at 48th. I'd say both of us finishing in the top 50 makes this race a big win! We're looking forward to running it again next spring!

Friday, April 24, 2015


I'm not fearless. Far from it. Between worrying about the babies, and dealing with my own anxieties, there are times when I just feel like one big ball of neuroses.

Recently, I became an Ambassador for Skirt Sports; a company that makes workout gear for women. Sure, they make cute workout clothes, but they also want to motivate women to get moving and reach their goals, and create a supportive community to help them get there. I've worn Skirt Sports to many races:
Like this one...

And this one...
I love having clothes to run in that fit me, keep me comfortable, and still make me feel cute!

As an Ambassador, I get to participate in races and events that Skirt Sports puts on, and I my first one was last weekend! Since they're based in Colorado, I might not get to run many of their actual races, but they've thought of that! They have a series of Virtual Races, so you can participate, no matter where you are!

On April 25th, I ran the 261 Fearless Virtual Race. This race is special, because it celebrates Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. She ran wearing bib #261, and went through a lot to make it to the finish line. In the process, she opened a lot of doors for women in the running world.

Given how insecure I've been feeling about myself (and especially my racing) recently, I knew this was a race I had to run. Sure, I would only be competing against myself, but I'm my own worst enemy right now. Who else should I be racing? Even though I was running solo, I still treated the run like a race, and I pushed myself. It felt great to get out there, and work hard, and know that I was working to make myself a better runner, a better mother, and a stronger person in
general. My progress is slow, but I'm getting there.

The 261 Fearless race was a good reminder to myself that fearlessness means a lot of things. It means running races, even though they make me anxious. It means working on myself, so that the scary things lose their power. It means remembering to treat every day as an adventure, and trying to get the most out of it. That one can be hard to manage, with all of the daily little things that come with having two small hurricanes living in my house. But, they're also the most exciting adventure I can think of, and I'm trying to be better about finding the fun in the little times with them.

In 1967, Kathrine Switzer ran the Boston Marathon. She put her fears aside that day, and look what she accomplished! Today, I'm working little by little to put my own fears aside. I'm learning to be brave every day, in the little ways I can. I'm not fearless yet, but that's okay.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Silly Times with Nana and Grandad

My parents (Nana and Grandad) came to visit this weekend, and we got up to all kinds of shenanigans while they were here!

Thing 1 discovered a passion for coffee, while Thing 2 showed us her...unique fashion sense...
They both got drunk on pancakes...

And, of course, there were lots of snuggles!

In between all of that, there was lots of play time outside, we learned new games and had some adventures! There were lots of smiles and giggles all around on this visit. It was over too soon, but we sure had a lot of fun!

I even got in a 4 mile run, to take advantage of the great weather! Hoping this trend continues, and I can start to build up my mileage again... Hubby and I would love to get in some family runs this year!

Friday, April 3, 2015

My Barfiest Time of Year

We're all very glad to see the tail end of March! Apparently, March in our family means stomach bug season. This is the second year in a row that we've all caught the pukes (or the poops) in March, and it's no fun at all! By now, the bug has made the rounds through everyone in the house (except the dog), and Hubby and I are exhausted from more than one night of interrupted sleep.

After Hubby and I were both declared nuclear on Tuesday, the in-laws (also known as Sasha and Papa) stepped in yesterday, whisking the Things away to stay at their house while mommy and daddy recuperated. Hubby and I would have enjoyed our time alone in our home, if we weren't so sick that we couldn't do anything but lay in bed and groan pathetically. Fortunately, that night really helped us get back on our feet, and our heads out of the toilet, so we were all back together again the next day.

Now the house has been decontaminated, and we're fervently hoping that's the only round of the bug we have to suffer though. It may have been a super effective way to lose weight for the wedding we're attending this weekend, but it's certainly not the method I would have chosen!

Sadly, that means most other activities were put on hold for several days, so I'm still not at 100 miles for the year. Not to worry, though! I know I'll get out lots as the weather continues to get better!

Also, no cute pictures this week, because what's cute about violent vomiting?

Monday, March 23, 2015

My Trail

I wouldn't say I'm a particularly outdoorsy person. I don't particularly enjoy camping or hiking. Bugs of all kinds are my nemesis. I like flora and fauna just fine, but seeing a rare flower doesn't send me into raptures. Basically, I like the outdoors just fine, but I also like the indoors. We have a very comfortable home, and I enjoy spending time there.

My trail
That being said; this winter really made me miss my trail. My trail is about a mile from my house, and goes farther than I have yet to run in either direction. My trail has beautiful shady trees in the summer, and lovely fall foliage. My trail is quiet and peaceful. Running on my trail gives me a chance to process things in a way I can't when running on a treadmill, or laps at the track, or even around our neighborhood.

I love the fact that I could round a bend in the trail, and see a family of deer just hanging out together. I love the way it smells like green things. I love the feeling of being the only person in the world, when there's no one else around me. I can hear myself breathing, and the birds singing, but everything else is silence.

A run on my trail feels shorter, because I'm looking around me, and appreciating my surroundings, not focusing on the miles creeping by. I've stopped on more than one run, just to admire my surroundings.

I'm so lucky to live so close to such a great place to run, but this winter showed me one thing I hadn't realized: the trail isn't plowed in the winter. Instead of my lovely, easy runs of spring, summer and fall, my first post-snow run was a nightmare. I had to dramatically alter my stride, to pick my feet up out of the snow with each step. Rather than gliding along effortlessly, I was slogging through on a surface that was maddeningly slippery, yet sticky. I quickly found myself leaving the trail and heading back for the sidewalk. Though not as picturesque, I decided that running loops of my neighborhood was easier and safer than attempting to run on the thick snow carpet of the trail. Too bad I don't have cross-country skis!

Now that winter is (almost) behind us, I'm getting back onto my trail for runs, and I absolutely love it! On a run at dusk last week I ran into my first deer of the spring (almost literally). It's exciting to see the changes taking place, as the snow melts, and the green comes back into the world. As the weather continues to improve, I plan to do as much running on my trail as possible. For some reason, I never get bored out there. I can't wait to see what the trail has in store for me this year!

Since we're talking so much about running, here's the tally so far: I'm at 85.2 miles for the year. I'm definitely behind where I'd like to be, but weather and illness had to be accommodated. I think I might be able to make it to 100 miles by the end of the month, but I'm not going to stress out about it. I know I'll be able to get out more and run further as the weather continues to improve. It's been a slow start to my resolution, but I know I've got 500 miles in me this year!

Friday, March 13, 2015

My Happiest Time of Year

It seems like we've finally turned a corner here, and spring might actually be on its way!

Aside from the lovely weather, this time of year is one of my favorites, because it has held so many happy times over the past few years.

After our romantic anniversary dinner.
Hubby and I got married on March 7, 2009, so that kicks off my happy list. This year, we celebrated our sixth anniversary with a special trip to the West Baden Springs Hotel (babysitting courtesy of my parents). We had a fantastic time, even though we did practically nothing! We'd all come down with a respiratory virus, so the whole family was coughing and uncomfortable. That may have put a damper on any desire to explore the beautiful surroundings at the hotel, but we more than made up for it. We spent the whole weekend snuggling, eating, talking and sleeping!!!!  Glorious sleep!

I know the Things had a great time without us, because they got to spend the weekend with Nana, Grandad, Aunt Sarah and GG. The next thing on my happy list is my Grandma's birthday (or GG, as she's known to the babies). Since her birthday is March 8th, most of the family got to celebrate with her this year. She even started the party early by coming over to help my parents babysit the Things. She keeps saying that the time she gets to spend with them is some of the happiest she can remember. Since I thought my sister and I made particularly adorable grandchildren, I've considered being insulted, but I can't be upset when the Things are so stinkin' cute!

Next up on the happy list is kind of still GG's birthday, but a specific birthday. Two years ago, the whole family was together to for Grandma's birthday, so hubby and I got to give her a very special "Great Grandma" birthday card, and share our special news with everyone. It was earlier than we were planning on making the announcement, but we really wanted to take advantage of the fact that everyone was there at the same time. Yeah, that was a pretty good day!

Half birthday seflie!
The last item on the happy list is a bittersweet one. My Things turned 18 months old on the 10th! I don't know how it's possible that these little humans are suddenly one-and-a-half, but it's absolutely amazing to see how they've grown and changed. They're real people, with real personalities, and they're so much fun right now! They're both so sweet and affectionate (nothing's better than baby kisses and hugs), and we're all having so many adventures together. I love coming home in the evening, to see them standing in the window, waving at me. I love going in to see their smiling faces first thing in the morning. I love reading them books, and seeing as they learn new words, and slowly start to try them out loud.

With all of the awesome memories around it, is it any wonder that this time of year is one of my favorites? That's not even counting the awesome time Hubby and I had on our honeymoon, the week after our wedding! Seriously: March rules!

Since I've been horribly congested and hacking up a lung, I took the week off of running. Resolutions are important, but health is more important. Hoping to get my first spring run in tomorrow...

Happy spring, everyone! Now, go enjoy it!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Last Firsts

Okay, I know that's a bit melodramatic, but now that the Things have made it through their first year of life, we don't have as many firsts to celebrate anymore! That doesn't mean that we're not having a totally awesome time--of course we are! It just means that I'm a little sad that not every day is its own special first now.

I know, we'll still have plenty of firsts as these kids grow up. Our first plane trip. Our first day of school. Our first lost teeth. They'll be flower girl and ring bearer for the first time this summer at their Aunt Maddie's wedding! All of this is great, and I just need to remember to look for and celebrate the new firsts as they happen.

So, speaking of firsts, Valentine's Day was a big deal this year! Thing 1, my big boy, got his first haircut!!
See? Totally necessary!
We'd been avoiding the inevitable for a while now, but we just couldn't put it off any longer. His sweet curls were getting just plain unruly, and his hair was in his eyes most of the time. It looks like he may have inherited my curly hair, which means he has to deal with the tangles too. Thing 2 has stick straight, fine hair right now, that doesn't seem to tangle at all.... They both get some epic bed-head, though!

Anyway, we all took a trip to our local Kidsnips, and Thing 1 tried his best to get his ear snipped off. There was so much going on, that he kept looking around the room. His stylist had to chase him around a little bit, but she did a great job! He looks like such a big man, now!

We're going to wait a while on getting Thing 2's first haircut. Since she doesn't have the same tangle issue, we're going to let her hair grow a while longer. Her bangs have decided they want to start way at the back of her head, so we're hoping letting her hair grow more will talk them out of that... We'll see...

Happy Valentine's Day!
But, Thing 2 did have her own first on Valentine's Day! Valentine's Day, 2015 is the day that Thing 2 learned to give kisses! Best. Thing. Ever! She actually gave her first two kisses to her brother, but the rest have been all for mommy and daddy (okay, and her favorite stuffed animals)! It's so sweet! We can ask her for a kiss, and she'll lean over and go "Bwah!" We've been getting hugs from both kids for a while now, but I've been looking forward to the kisses. Let's just say: it was worth the wait!

All-in-all, I think our second Valentine's Day together was a sweet, snuggly success! The Things were extra affectionate with each other, and I couldn't get enough of it! Not too shabby!

Oh, and in case anyone cares (but, what can compare with all that cuteness?), I'm at 57.52 miles so far this year. I know, that's a little behind where I'd like to be, but we've had weather and other stuff to consider this winter. I know I'll be able to get back on track once spring (finally) rolls around. In fact, last weekend, I ran 5 miles! That's the farthest I've run since my surgery! Not to mention, I also ran negative splits! I'll definitely take that as a win! (I should mention, I felt like I was really struggling during the run, and couldn't figure out why it was feeling so hard. Guess that explains it!) Only 442.48 miles left to go this year. I know I'll get there. All my runs may not be as fast or as satisfying as that run was, but I'll just keep plugging away. It doesn't matter how fast I get there, just that I make the journey!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Save the Ducky!

My kids love bath time. They run to the bathroom when they hear the water running, and they love to splash and float in the tub. Thing 2 in particular is inconsolable when bath time is over. I've started letting her take a bath toy with her when we leave the bath, otherwise she cries...a lot.

A couple of weeks ago, Hubby and I thought it would be a good idea to try a bubble bath. I remember loving bubble baths as a kid, and the Things love regular baths, so they'd totally have fun! Right? Not so much. As soon as their feet touched the bubbles, it was like someone was trying to kill them. There was panicked screaming and crying on their part, and confused laughter on our part. What's so scary about fluffy bubbles? Apparently, a lot.

A memory of happier bath times
Amidst the terror, Thing 1 picked up one of the rubber duckies from the tub, and attempted to stick it down my shirt. In my mind, he was saying "It's probably too late for me, but at least save the ducky!"

After a little while (and a lot of tears) I was able to convince Thing 1 that maybe bubbles weren't all bad. Maybe. At least, I got him clean!

I think it's safe to say that it'll be a while before we try bubbles again. We're back to boring, bubble-free baths, and the Things are back to their splashing, happy-bathing selves. And the ducky? I'm happy to say, he survived the incident unscathed.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Snow Days!

Last weekend, we got hit with a monster snow storm. My parents were visiting for the weekend, and got snowed in with us (obviously, they were really disappointed to spend a whole extra day with the grandbabies). We got a ludicrous amount of snow dumped on us in a 24 hour period, and all had fun playing in the snow on Sunday (and then Hubby and my dad had less fun shoveling on Monday).

Everyone got in on the fun!
The Things are maybe coming around to the idea of snow. Our first attempt, last month, involved Thing 2 crying hysterically the instant her hands touched the snow. You could just hear her thoughts: "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! What is this stuff!?!?! It's wet and COLD!!! Why are they torturing me like this?" This time, we doubled up on the mittens and tried to show them that it was fun to wander around in a blizzard. We pulled them in their sleds, let them walk around (and fall down) on their own a bit, watched Mischa romp in the snow, and then hurried back inside to warm up again. I think we did a pretty good job! We didn't stay out too long, but I think they got a good taste of winter.

At the Botanic Garden
Mom and I also made it out to the Chicago Botanic Garden with the Things on Saturday, before the storm hit, and I know they had fun there! We let them loose to run around outside and explore. Even though there weren't any blooming plants to see, they loved walking on the paths. The only complaints we got were when we tried to pack them up to go home. It's a really good thing there were two of us there--it's hard to keep up with both of them!

The snow storm has put a dent in my plans to run outside, so I've been back at the track this week, but I'm making the best of it. I actually had a great run last night--I got my runner's high during the run, and was able to just run and enjoy myself. I probably looked a little funny, running around with a goofy grin on my face, but it was just one of those runs where everything just clicks. It was nice to have a reminder of why I like running so much!

Goal progress: Last month, I managed to run a total of 26.51 miles (less than I'd like, but not too bad, considering I spent the first half of the month recovering from my surgery). I'm not worried about being behind, since I'm sure I'll make it up once the weather improves. I'm starting out right on track this month, getting in 6 miles so far. Hopefully, the snow will melt soon, and I'll be able to keep it up! I'm at 32.51 miles for the year so far...only 467.49 more to go!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Baby Snooze Button

I've decided that white noise machines are basically snooze buttons for babies. Both the Things have them in their cribs, and have been able to turn them on by themselves for a while now. The other morning, I walked past their door and heard someone stirring. Then, I heard the white noise come on. Clearly, they'd decided it wasn't time to wake up yet, and hit the magic button to get a little more shut-eye. It's their little way of saying "just 5 more minutes, mom." These kids looooooooove their sleep (and I love them for that)!

Along with loving their sleep, the Things are really developing their personalities these days. They love to
Oh, the snuggles!
snuggle and give excellent hugs. (Though Thing 2 only wants to give them on her terms. If you ask for a hug when she doesn't want to give it, she'll say "No!" and give you her best "talk to the hand" brush off.) They would happily sit on your lap for hours, reading books. (Or possibly, just the same book on an endless loop.) They've discovered how much fun it is to spin around until you get dizzy and fall over. (Thing 1 prefers to let you do the leg work for him, then totters around like a drunk man, giggling hysterically and demands that you do it again.) They like to accessorize. (Sunglasses and chewbeads are the current favorites, although your watches and bracelets are fair game.) They think Mischa has the best toys, and really want to play with her. (She's not entirely sure about the prospect, but is warming to the idea of having 2 additional pairs of hands to pet her and throw toys for her.)

Epic meltdown.
They're not all giggles and snuggles right now, though. They have their fair share of meltdowns and temper tantrums. Thing 1 acts like you're trying to kill him when you try to brush his teeth. Thing 2 bites anything that makes her mad: her highchair, the toy she just tripped on, the table she bumped into, her brother... And, don't get me started on the bubble bath. (Long story short: we tried to give them a bubble bath last weekend. They lost their little minds.) Fortunately, Hubby and I think they're kinda funny when they're so upset. We're doing a pretty good job of keeping our cool when the munchkins get all fired up, and their freak outs usually don't last very long. (Knock on wood.)

And, where do things stand on the running front? I'm doing pretty well at getting back into the routine, and have actually worked out every day for over a week now! On days when I'm not running, I've been doing yoga, in the hopes of regaining some of the flexibility I've lost. I can already tell that I'm getting stronger, and I'm curious to see how I progress. I've also managed to work some morning runs in recently, which has been a nice change to the routine. We'll see if I manage to keep that one going, though... I do love my sleep!

On the resolution front: I've run 22.51 miles so far, so I've got 477.49 left to go! I also passed the 1,600 mile mark (since I started using the Nike+ app to track my miles in July, 2010), which made me happy. If I meet my goal of 500 miles this year, I ought to be able to break the 2,000 mile mark!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

First Run of the New Year!

So, thanks to the Things, I had to have some minor surgery late last month. I'm fine, I promise! Thanks to the surgery, though, I've had to take it easy for the past four weeks. Uuuuuuuuuuugh! It's always fun to have a couple of days to relax, but it sure gets old after a while!

Anyway, I got the all-clear to work my way back to regular activities starting yesterday!!! It's a good thing, too--I was getting cranky about not being able to run, or even pick my kids up!

Last night, I took myself to the indoor track for my first run of the New Year. It didn't suck! I only ran two miles, but I ran at a good pace, and nothing hurt! I'll count it as a win. I actually meant to take a picture of myself, because I wore my "Are my kids still chasing me?" shirt, courtesy of another mother runner. I got the shirt for Christmas, and I've been waiting (not so) patiently to wear it!

What? I'm thirsty!
I also got a water bottle from another mother runner for Christmas, but I have a really hard time holding onto it... These tiny thieves seem to think it's theirs! We've hit the "If mommy's using it, it must be better than what we have" phase, so my water bottle gets stolen quite a bit. It's a good thing they're so cute!

It's so great to be back in action! I'm taking things slowly, since I can tell I'm still healing, but at least I'm out there again. This really was the perfect time to take a break, too: the weather sucks right now, and it gets dark so early that it can be hard to find a safe time to run. For now, I'll use this time to get my strength back. I'll run indoors when I need to, outside when I can, and try to be better about doing some cross training as well. Yoga for runners is on the agenda for tonight.

Oh, and for accountability, here's where things stand with my resolution: 2 miles down, only 498 to go! It's a small start, but it's a start!

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Holidays

Well. I think an update is long overdue, don't you?
This has been an...interesting...holiday season. It's been wonderful, amazing, challenging, awful and depressing all at the same time.
December 8th marked the second anniversary of my miscarriage. Now, when the holidays roll around, I can't look forward to them with the same excitement I used to have. Sure, I have my amazing babies to celebrate with me now, but there's still a lot of what if's running around in my head at the same time. Starting in October, I realize that "This time, two years ago, I was pregnant." In November, it's "This time, two years ago, I was worried about my baby, but still pregnant and convinced that everything would be fine. It might be a difficult pregnancy, but everything has to be fine."  On my birthday, it's "This time, two years ago, I took the day off from work because I'd been having really bad morning sickness." Then, in early December, it's "This time, two years ago, I was bleeding, but I didn't know why. And I was scared." And finally, on December 8th, it's the worst day of my life again.
I've started dreading this time of year, because every day has little reminders like that. December 8th itself was easier this year, but the holiday concerts with my choir were hell. Christmas with my family was great. And terrible. It's impossible not to make comparisons with two years ago, when I couldn't face going to Christmas Eve services, and instead spent the whole time curled up in a ball on the couch. This year, I was able to share the holiday with two adorable toddlers. They were fascinated by the carols: Thing 2 thought the songs were all for her, and danced through most of the Christmas Eve service. They loved all the Christmas trees: Thing 1 wasn't happy unless he was able to touch the twinkly lights and ornaments. They gave lots of hugs, read lots of books and played with lots of toys.

Christmas Eve family photo

I'm starting to realize that October-December may not be a good time for me to run races. It seems like I've developed race anxiety--I don't know yet whether it's only because this time of year has so many negative things wrapped up with it, or whether it's racing in general. (I really hope it's the former.) I had a lot of trouble with the races Hubby and I ran at Thanksgiving, so much so that we didn't even try to make it to the race on the 29th. I still feel bad about not racing, but the logical (sane) part of me knows I wasn't healthy enough to run a half marathon then. I was so frustrated with the situation, that on November 30th (the day after my non-race), I ran 13.1 miles by myself. Because I can. And I did it faster than I've ever run a half marathon before. So there.

This year, I'm going to try to re-train my brain when it comes to running. I know I enjoy running. I miss it when I can't run, and there's something so satisfying about a good run. With Hubby's help, I'm going to run some 5k's early this year, and try to focus on having fun again. Somewhere along the line, my brain must have decided that races are stressful and scary, and that leads to race-day panic. Even though I have fun once the race starts, the time leading up to the start has become terrible. Without intending to, or knowing why, I get anxious to the point of throwing up and passing out. Hubby and I are going to work together to try to change that. I'd love to run a half marathon this year, but I don't know that it will happen. Realistically, this may be a slow process, but it's one I'd like to tackle. (In case you were wondering: I talked to my doctor about the problem, and she suggested therapy. I'm sure that's a viable option, but I'd like to try to get there on my own first.)

Since the New Year is a time for making resolutions, Hubby and I have both resolved to run 500 miles this year. I almost made it this year, but bad weather at the start and surgery at the end of the year made me come up a short. Once I get the all-clear from the doctor (hopefully tomorrow), I'm planning to get back on the road! I've got new shoes and some near gear to break in, and I can't wait to hit the ground running! (I'm so clever, aren't I?)