Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hills, Wind and Sweet Tea

Ok, so I started talking about my insane half marathon running schedule last week after Rock the Parkway. Now, it's time for the second stop on my crazy-town express train of half marathons.

  • Rock the Parkway - April 14
  • Kansas Half - April 22
  • Oklahoma City Half - April 29
  • Running with the Cows - May 12
  • Hospital Hill - June 2

The Kansas Half Marathon in Lawrence, Kansas.

I was actually pretty excited to run this race because I graduated from KU and lived in Lawrence for four years. I was amped up to get to tromp down my old running paths and see the campus and my old dorm. I thought vaguely about the fact that KU is situated on top of a giant hill, but that thought kind of drifted out of my mind as soon as it entered. 

After Rock the Parkway's hellacious humidity, I was anxiously watching the weather all week for the forecast for Sunday. I'm not even sure why I do that, since the forecast changes just about every day. Oh, Kansas. But, the night before, the weathermen were calling for overnight lows in the upper 40s. Because the race started at 7:30, that's about where we'd be at start time. Not too bad. Definitely not like last week. I do tend to run colder than almost everyone I run with, so I was a little concerned with what to wear. 

When you are a guy, you only have so many options. Shorts or pants. Long-sleeved shirt or short-sleeved shirt. Girls, as with everything in life, have so many more options for clothing. Should I wear capris? A tank? Short sleeves? A jacket? Shorts? A skirt? Capris with a skirt? The choices are dizzying. I decided to go with capris, a tank and a jacket. (Because I know you were all dying in anticipation of finding out that tidbit of information.)

I carpooled up to Lawrence with Anne, her coworker Sam, and my pre-kids running partner Sarah, and we caravaned with Kelli and John. We were anxious about getting there on time, but ended up plenty early. We had plenty of time to hang out and stretch and enjoy the gorgeous morning. Only, whoops, it was FREEZING. Ok, so technically it wasn't actually freezing. It was in the 40s, but the wind was whipping by at a good 20 mph. It was not pleasant. So, we hung out in the car. We did get there early enough to be the very first people to use the porta-potties though. That was a definite first in my book. (Non-runners: I know I've spent a lot of time discussing the porta-potty situation at races. But, it is very important. Nothing worse than having to pee when you're out on the course, I promise. However, I am sorry for regaling you with the details.)

Because this was Number 2 of the Heartland 39.3 series of half marathons, the registration numbers were WAY up from the previous years. I'm not sure they were completely prepared. The starting line was downtown on Massachusetts Street. Very quaint, but not terribly roomy. Especially when they had the pacers from 1:40 to 3:00 only spread a distance of approximately 25 yards apart in the starting corral. (Again, non-runners, pacers are people who  keep a pace during the race that will have you cross the finish line at a designated time.) We wanted to run with the 2:00 pacers, but could barely see them, much less get close to them. We were practically on the sidewalk. When the gun went off, we had to push and weave our way through the crowd just to cross the mat at the starting line. Then, we had to try to track down our pacers.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Walking for MS

Last Saturday morning, we packed up both girls and headed out to join Chrissy's Angels for our annual participation in the MS Walk. I've been running so many races lately, it was a nice break to get out there for a leisurely morning stroll on a gorgeous morning.

Ok, does that sound good? It sounds nice and pleasant and not at all competitive, right? Yup, that's my official take on the walk.

Unofficially, it kind of drove this girl crazy to walk slowly along the sidewalk stopping every five minutes to let someone in or out of the stroller. Or up on or down off Cory's shoulders. Or, to get a drink. Or, to walk "by myself." Or, to complain that I'd forgotten their sunglasses.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm totally on board and totally willing to walk for the cause. I love to help out with causes that are dear to our or our friends' hearts. But, it was the actual walking with kids that was a bit annoying. It reminded me why I enjoy my solo runs in the morning so much. I love my girls, but it's about 3,000 times easier to run seven miles by myself in the morning than walk three miles in a crowd with both girls. Trust me on this point.

Keep in mind, we started at the very front of the the group. Chrissy cut the ribbon for the walk, so her whole team was at the very front. Where did we finish? Um, pretty much at the end. Ok, maybe it was like the last half. But, we were nowhere close to the front by the time we crossed the finish line. That is what happens when you constantly pull over onto the grass to readjust seating arrangements and snack containers for a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old. We're talking about slowly creeping along at about the pace of a sloth. It took us over an hour and 15 minutes to walk three miles. This is also why it amazes me when people are able to push kids in strollers during races. Side note: I really hate when those people pass me. 

Molly and Avery posing before the start of the walk.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Rock Star

At the risk of wearing you all out on my running posts, I'm going to apologize in advance. If you don't like or want to read about running or races, you can leave now, and beware of the next months of posts.

Somehow my friend Anne has become a running fiend. We walked a 5K together last March, and then she ran her first 5K in May. Since then, she's become a running machine. And, she convinced me to sign up and run the Heartland 39.3 Series. A series of three half marathons in the span of six weeks. Then, because that just isn't crazy enough, she also convinced me to run another half marathon in Oklahoma in the middle of all those other ones. Then, because I'm not sure that was enough, I signed up for another half at the beginning of June. See, for the three years leading up to Hospital Hill's anniversary running, they are doing a 3-part medal. I already had the first part, so now I need to run the next two years to complete my medal. Yes, you can tell me I'm crazy. I'm already telling myself that.

So, here's the schedule:

  • Rock the Parkway - April 14
  • Kansas Half - April 22
  • Oklahoma City Half - April 29
  • Running with the Cows - May 12
  • Hospital Hill - June 2
Clearly, we're past the first date. I ran Rock the Parkway this past weekend. I had a plan for all these races. My goal was to run as hard and as fast as I could on the first one, then, I could take it easy for the rest. And, just have a good time with my girlfriends. Afterall, that's really what I love about running. Well, that and medals. But, the awesome part about half marathons? Every single finisher gets a medal. Score.

Anyway, back to my plan. I started to get nervous about the race because every weatherman this side of the Mississippi was forecasting thunderstorms and hail for Saturday. And, it was supposed to arrive smack during the race time. Now, rain, I'm ok with. Hail and thunderstorms? Not so cool.

I wake up (after a horrible night's sleep thanks to my precious 2-year-old) around 5:15 and get ready to head down to the race. I head out to my pre-kid-running-partner Sarah's car and can already feel the humidity in the air.

(I worry "pre-kid" gives the impression that Sarah ditched me as a running partner after I had kids. That's not true. She just happened to move out of the neighborhood around the same time I had Molly. It's not like she decided I was a drag once I had kids and thought it would just be easier to move than to explain why she didn't want to run with me anymore. At least, I hope that's not what happened. I mean, it was probably just a coincidence, right? Right? I say pre-kid really to differentiate between her and my current running partner. Because after Sarah moved, I discovered another Sarah, who lives on my street and is now my post-kid running partner. Confused? Yeah, I probably should just think of new classifications all around.)

Anyway, as we're driving down the highway, we see lightning in the distance. Uh oh. But, we score great parking and get in and out of the porta-potties in record time, so maybe the good omens are overpowering the bad ones. Short porta-potty lines have to overpower lightning, right?

Sarah and I are hanging out, waiting for the start and I run into several friendly faces. That has to be a good omen, too. I see Alex, who I used to work with, and Katie, my friend and fellow blogger.
Finding Katie before the race. Turns out, she was the long-term sub for Sarah's class when Sarah was on maternity leave. Gotta love the small world we live in!
Kelli, Sarah and I are all planning to run with the 1:55 pace group. So, we grab some pacing wristbands and join up in the corral. The gun goes off and we take off. It really helped to stay with the pace group, because I'm always tempted to start out too fast. It helped to take the adrenaline out of the start and chill back. By mile 3, I'm already soaked with sweat. I honestly can't remember when I've been that sweaty after only 3 miles. I was gross.
Despite being blurry, it is in fact Sarah and me. 

Smiling at my beautiful Molly, decked in princess tiara and shouting "Go Mommy!"

We keep trudging along, up one hill after another. It is so nice to have someone to talk to. I brought my iPod, but I do truly love talking to people more. At one point, Sarah told me that I was welcome to tell her any stories. If I had possessed that ability at that point, I would've. But, the humidity was absolutely killing me. I ate a couple gummies (running energy food - essentially fruit snacks) to try to perk me up around mile 7. By mile 9, I had a killer side stitch. I had to walk for a little to try to stretch out the sharp pain, but tried to continue on. I really wanted to make my goal.

Now, here's where you'll probably really think I'm crazy. While doing some online reading the past week, I ran across the fact that Joey McIntyre (yes, from New Kids on the Block) had run in the Hollywood Half a couple weeks ago. His time? 1:55:27. That became my new goal. My previous goal was to PR. My previous PR was from Hospital Hill 2006. Before kids. I am in better shape and faster than I ever have been, so I was really wanting to PR. But, then, I really wanted to beat Joey McIntyre. I had to get under 1:55:27. Please don't ask my why I had a desire to beat a completely arbitrary time set by a boy band singer I'd crushed on in the 6th grade. I don't know. I'm weird like that.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

O sleep, O gentle sleep

People who say they sleep like a baby usually don't have one.  ~Leo J. Burke

When you are a new parent, you spend almost all of your time and energy focused on your child's eating and sleeping habits. In fact, you become so obsessed with it, it becomes completely normal and common to have entire adult conversations about how long your child is sleeping at night or how many ounces of milk your child is consuming.

You have this conversation with your spouse/partner constantly, with other moms all the time, but when you start regaling random Target check-out ladies with the details of your precious child's latest nighttime sleep habits, you know you've officially lost it.

Check-out Lady: "Awww, your baby is so cute!"
You: "Thanks!"
Check-out Lady: "How old is she?"
You: "She's 5 weeks. But, she still is not sleeping very well at night. I'd always heard that bigger babies slept longer earlier, but that is just not that case for her. Although, she did sleep for five hours last night. But, that was the first time she's done that. But, it seems like she's really started getting the nursing thing down. She's getting faster, which means it's quicker between sleep sessions at night. It's really been in the last week or so that she's gone any more than three hours, so I've been pretty zombie-like for most of the time. It's just so great that we can actually get out to Target and talk to another adult! It's amazing what five continuous hours of sleep can do for a new mom, isn't it?"
Check-out Lady: "Um. Ok. Here's your receipt."

Not that that ever happened or anything. Yeah.

Anyway, so, one of the fallacies in this parenting thing is the phrase "sleeping through the night." When your child finally starts consistently sleeping through the night (which for my girls was around 3-4 months), you think you're home free. At least, I did. I figured that was it. The sleepless nights were done. I could get back to being a normal semi-well-rested adult.

I laugh at my own naivete.

See, it turns out, that even though your infant starts sleeping through the night, that doesn't mean your toddler will. Or that your preschooler will. Every stage begins the sleep training and sleepless nights anew.

Currently, we are in the Charlotte-2-year-old-parental-sleep-deprivation stage.

A couple months ago, Charlotte started climbing out of her crib. We would wake up at all times of the night with a crying child in our face begging to be let in bed. Or, we'd wake up and see lights on in the kitchen or living room or Molly's room - wherever she'd decided to go exploring at 2 in the morning. This was around the same time that Molly was creeping out of her toddler bed to sleep on the chaise in our bedroom. (Yes, Molly was still in a toddler bed. My husband is frugal, what can I say.)

All this moving around during the night, started to affect Charlotte during the day. She was so tired from her nocturnal meanderings that she started falling asleep when we went to pick Molly up from preschool at 11:00. And, as any mom knows, a child falling asleep in the car ruins the actual nap time. With a 20-minute "nap" under the belt, Charlotte thought she was raring to go, refused to take her actual nap and was a cranky, whiny mess by 4:30. Ugh.
Car naps, while adorable, wreak havoc with my day.
"A day without a nap is like a cupcake without frosting." ~Terri Guillemets

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It's an Instagram-ish Easter!

I apologize in advance. Picasa has now added a ton of Instagram-like picture editing features. So ... I had way too much fun with the pictures from Easter this year. I promise, I will calm down with the editing in the future, but for now, you will have to suffer through my "creative" pictures.

Easter has many meanings for different people. The Easter Bunny. Jesus. Candy. Church. Egg Hunts.

Say what you will about the commercialization of holidays, in our house, it's more like the familiazation. You see, in our house, the prevailing theme of Easter is "Cousin Penelope Coming to Town!"

For the past five years, the Strand family has made the trek down from Minnesota to Kansas to spend Easter weekend with us. Laura is my cousin, and her daughter Penelope is aged exactly between Molly and Charlotte.  Molly and Charlotte have no first cousins, so I am thrilled they have a second cousin (a girl cousin, no less!) who is so close in age to keep the familial connection alive.

Laura, Chris and Penelope drove down on Thursday night, so Friday morning my girls got to wake up to the excitement of Penelope being in their house. Unfortunately, at the beginning of the school year, I had signed up to help at Molly's preschool Easter party. And, it turned out to be Friday morning. So, Molly and I said hello to Penelope then trotted off to preschool. (The party was a success, fyi, even if my genius Pinterest treat idea had been stolen the day before by Jenna's mom for her birthday treat!)

Friday afternoon the girls played and sort of took naps. Then, Laura and I bolted for a kid-free, mom's night out to have drinks and watch The Hunger Games. I'm not sure what Laura liked more, the kid-free aspect, the movie, or the leather reclining seats and wait-staff food service during the movie. We might be able to convince her to come down more often just to go to the theater and see a movie!

Saturday morning, we signed up to run in a local 5K Easter Egg Run. It was our friend Chris's first 5K, so we wanted to cheer him on, too. (A different Chris than Laura's husband, though.) Now, keep in mind that it has been in the 70s and 80s for the past month. I have been running in shorts and tank tops. Then, Saturday morning rolls around with a chance of rain and a gloomy 50 degrees. Not exactly fun "fun run" weather, but Molly was super excited about doing the kids' "Lil' Bunny Fun Run," so we all piled in the cars and drove to the race.

Walking the 5K.