Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Halfway around Kansas City

As any regular reader of my blog knows, I love me some race bling. I just really enjoy getting big shiny medals placed around my neck after completing a good race. Maybe it borders on crazy, but I don't really care. It makes me happy.

I ran the Kansas City half in 2010 and 2011. Both times, while the course was fine, and I had a good time, the bling definitely left a lot to be desired. Small, plain medals. Nothing to write home about. Well, this year, the KC Marathon majorly upped it's game. It seems to be a trend in races. I know I'm not the only one who runs for medals because races keep improving their medal designs. There are even competitions for the best race medals.

So, this year, when the medal was announced, I knew I had to do the race once again. The medals were so much better. They had color, they were bigger, they had a cool design, they had a custom ribbon. All the things you want in a good medal.

Check out the difference from 2010 to 2012 (You can't really tell the size difference in these pics, but it is significant):

Many friends of mine planned to run this race. Kelli and Ally were running the full marathon, but despite Kelli's many times of asking me, I never agreed to it. I stuck with the half. Anne was going to do the full as well, but injured her IT band and ended up dropping out. Katie was running it with her friend. Kelly was pacing it. My running partner, Sarah, and I planned to run it together.

The KC Marathon had a big expo downtown where you picked up your packet before the race. Ally went on Thursday and posted a picture on Facebook. When we finished Hospital Hill in June, a photographer from the race had taken a picture while Kelli, Ally, Anne and I were posing in front of the fountains at Crown Center. Unbeknownst to us, Hospital Hill was using that picture on their marketing for next year's 40th anniversary race: "A party 40 years in the making."

How cool is this? 
We were super excited to be on a sticker with all those running legends.
We're thinking being on the marketing material should get us free entry to next year's race ...

Anyway, back to the KC Half: For the last couple weeks before the race, my runs hadn't been feeling that great. I was feeling sluggish, and my legs felt heavy. I'm not really sure what was going on, but on the morning of the race, I was a little concerned and apprehensive about how I was going to do. And, although I didn't technically have a time goal, I knew about where I would want to finish.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Goin' on a Hay Ride

Two Thursdays a month, I meet with some lovely ladies to drink wine, eat yummy food and chat about what's going on in our lives. Oh, yeah, also, we read different books about faith, spirituality and the bible and discuss those. We've named it "Faith Club," and I love those Thursday nights. Every once in a while, we make an effort to get together outside of the standard Thursday night and include spouses, significant others, and children. We started talking about doing something this fall, and the idea of a Hay Ride came up.

Ok, truth be told, I brought the idea up. I have had several other friends who have gone on these hay rides, and I thought they sounded so fun. You schedule a specific time, then meet at Shawnee Mission Park, go for an hour-long hay ride, then get to have an hour-long bonfire, complete with marshmallows and apple cider. Plus, you can bring other food if you want. And, if you know me, you know s'mores were a must. Mmmmm ... marshmallows gooeyness with chocolate sweetness and graham crunchiness. Delicious.

Anyway. So, everyone was up for it, and we scheduled the hay ride. Then, slowly, people started dropping out. Your group is supposed to have a minimum number of people, and I'd already made the deposit, so I was getting worried. But, a couple girls invited roomates and friends, and we made it just barely over the minimum. We were a go!

The girls were super excited to hear that we were going to go on a hay ride. We drove out to the park, and bundled up. It was actually a really nice night. A little chilly, but you kind of want a hay ride to be chilly, right? It helps contribute to the atmosphere.

We were the first to arrive, so we got a family picture on the hay ride.

Pretty Molly with the campfire in the background.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Omaha? Don't mind if I do.

For my entire childhood, I lived at least a half a country away from my cousins. While I grew up in North Carolina, my three cousins were growing up in Arizona. When they moved to Virginia, we moved to Kansas. Never in the same vicinity  Never anywhere close. We saw each other maybe every couple of years.

We got along great when we saw each other, but it was pretty infrequent. Laura, Jennifer and I wrote letters to each other in the typical 5th grade girl fashion, but without things like computers and Facebook, it made it hard to stay connected.

When Laura moved to Minnesota several years ago, I could hardly believe it. We were going to be so close. Only a couple states away, and only an 8-hour drive! Plus, our girls are so close in age. In fact, the difference in ages between Molly and Penelope and Charlotte is incredibly similar to what it was between me and Laura and Jennifer growing up. It's like the three of us cousins reincarnated.

All this background to say, I'm so excited that my girls get to have a close relationship with Penelope, and I get to see Laura a lot more. We have the annual Easter visits and other visits back and forth. And, for a while now, we've been talking about the idea of meeting somewhere in the middle for a weekend trip. But, nothing really came of it. Until ...

About a month or so ago, I emailed Laura and said, "Are you still interested in doing an Omaha trip? Let's do it in October." And, despite having just returned from a road trip, she agreed.

Omaha is about a 3-hour drive for us and about a 5-hour drive for them. And, Omaha has a great zoo. That was pretty much the extent of our planning. It was a very low-key, fly by the seat of our pants trip. And, in spite of that, we had a fabulous time.

We couldn't leave until Saturday morning because we'd already committed to going on a hay ride on Friday night (blog post on that later, don't you worry!). So, we roused the girls out of bed at oh-dark-30 and hopped on the highway to Omaha. We got there before 9am, so we still had the whole day ahead of us.

We met Laura, Chris and Penny at the hotel and carpooled to the zoo. All the weather forecasts showed rain all day long. We'd been worried about this, so we packed rain coats and rain boots and were assured there was lots of stuff indoors at the zoo. Turns out, all that worry was for nothing. It ended up being a gorgeous day. A little overcast but a perfect fall day for the zoo. I was, in fact, overdressed.

The first thing we did upon arrival at the zoo. Pictures on the lions.

Checking out the orangutans. I could've watched them all day, but the girls  only watched for approximately 30 seconds and were done.

Seriously, how cute is this?

Molly watching the tiger. Geesh, I'm glad there is a giant metal cage between them. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Camping sounds

Another edition of our lives in children's book form. Some details may have been changed to fit the story, and this adventure actually took place a month ago. But, well, it's a story, so enjoy:

Molly and Charlotte were sisters and the best of friends. They did everything together. They played dress up together. They played school together. They rode their bikes and scooters together. Sometimes they fought, but they loved each other and always said, "I'm sorry" and gave each other a hug.

One of the things Molly and Charlotte really loved to do was listen to their mommy and daddy read to them. One night, their daddy read a Bernstain Bears story all about camping. The girls had never been camping before, and everything in the book made it sound so fun. You get to sleep in a tent?!? OUTSIDE?!? All night?!?

Molly and Charlotte looked at each other. They both knew immediately that they wanted to go camping themselves. Molly and Charlotte spent months asking their parents if they could go camping.

"Mommy, can we go camping?" Molly would ask.
"Not tonight, sweetie, it's a school night," her mommy would reply.

"Daddy, camping?" asked Charlotte in the few words that she could say as a 2 year old.
"No, honey, we have a lot going on this weekend," her daddy would say.

A couple weeks later, Molly would try again.
"Mommy, can we go camping?" Molly would ask.
"No, not now. It's the middle of summer. It is TOO hot to go camping," her mom would say.

"Daddy, camping?" asked Charlotte again.
"Not today, Charlotte," her daddy would tell her. "Tonight, you're going to spend the night at your grandparents' house."

While the sisters loved spending the night at their grandparents' house, they still wanted to go camping.

Finally, one day, after months and months of asking, Molly and Charlotte's mommy and daddy said that this weekend would be the weekend. The weekend they could go camping. But, only if the weather was good.

The girls were so excited. They gathered their sleeping bags and their footie pajamas, and they watched the weather forecast on TV every single day. They wanted to make sure nothing would stop their camp out.

Saturday arrived. The weather wasn't too cold. The weather wasn't too hot. There was no rain in the forecast and not a cloud in the sky.

It was camping day!

Their mommy and daddy decided that they would set up their tent in the backyard instead of going to a campground like they had read about in the book. Their mommy said something about testing out how they would do. Molly wasn't worried, she knew she was going to love camping, and she was sure Charlotte would love it, too.

In the afternoon, the girls helped their daddy set up their brand-new tent in the backyard. It was really easy to set up. Molly and Charlotte played on the swings and kicked a ball around. And, the next thing they knew, the tent was standing up. It was like magic!

Other kids from the neighborhood even thought the tent was cool. Aureley and Michael came down to see what was happening in their backyard. Molly and Charlotte thought the tent was their very own playhouse.

Aureley, Molly and Charlotte waving from inside the tent.

It was so nice of Daddy to set us up our own playhouse.

This is pretty much the coolest thing ever.
They played in the tent all afternoon while their daddy cooked hot dogs on the grill. He said that all camp outs should have hot dogs. Their mommy thought all camp outs should have s'mores, but they couldn't find any marshmallows, so they couldn't have s'mores. Their mommy was sad about that.

It started to get dark, and the sisters were so excited to sleep in the tent. It was the first time they had ever asked, "Is it bedtime, yet?" Their mommy made sure they put on their warmest footie pajamas so they wouldn't get cold. They carried their blankets and sleeping bags and pillows and stuffed animals out to the tent. It was such an adventure!

Their mommy took some pictures of all of them in the tent, but then she kissed them and hugged them and told them to have a great daddy-daughter camp out adventure. Then, she went inside. Molly and Charlotte couldn't believe she wouldn't want to sleep in the tent with them, and they couldn't imagine that she would want to sleep in the house all by herself. She promised she would be fine, though.

Daddy-Daughter adventure!

"Roughing it" with blankets, pillows and multiple air mattresses.

Molly and Charlotte snuggled into their sleeping bags and closed their eyes.

All of a sudden, Molly heard a noise. Bark, bark, bark, ruff, ruff.
"What's that, Daddy?" Molly asked.
"It's just Dexter, the dog next door, barking, Molly," her daddy answered. "Go to sleep."

Then, Charlotte heard a noise. Who, who, who.
"Daddy, what's that sound?" asked Charlotte.
"It's just an owl, Charlotte," her daddy replied. "Go to sleep."

The girls rested quietly for a minute. Then, Molly heard something else. Rustle, rustle, rustle, rustle.
"What's that noise, Daddy?" Molly questioned.
"It's just the leaves on the trees blowing in the wind," said her daddy. "Go to sleep."

Charlotte heard a noise. Slam!
"What's that?" Charlotte asked.
"It's just someone shutting their car door," her daddy said. "Go to sleep."

The girls lay quietly again. Then, they both heard a noise. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz, honk-shew, honk-shew, zzzzzzzzzz.
"Daddy," they both asked, "what is that noise?"
But, their daddy didn't say anything.
"Daddy?" they asked.
"Daddy, are you awake?"

They both crawled over to their daddy's sleeping bag. And, there he was. His eyes shut tight. Sleeping. Molly told Charlotte, "That sound is Daddy's snoring!"

They looked at each other and laughed and smiled. Camping was just as much fun as they thought it would be when they first heard about it in the Berenstain Bears book.

So, Molly and Charlotte snuggled close to each other, closed their eyes and drifted to sleep. All the while, listening to the sounds of a dog barking, owls hooting, leaves rustling and their daddy's snoring.

And, even though they liked "Rock-a-bye Baby" and "Twinkle, Twinkle," Molly and Charlotte now had a new favorite lullaby: the sounds of a camping adventure with their daddy. Snoring and all.