Monday, May 27, 2013

Sprint to Six

For the last couple years, I've been sure that it has been the last year for us to have a big backyard bash for Molly's birthday. Each year, I'm sure that the next year will involve gender-specific theme and invite list or going to a place for the party.

Not that there is anything wrong with that, and I'm sure it will happen eventually. But I LOVE planning a big party at our house. And, each year that we can have a backyard party at our house, I'm one happy mama.

So, this year, with Molly being in kindergarten, I was sure we would be done with my kind of parties. When we started talking about her party, Molly was sure she wanted a sleepover party. Well, I nixed that idea. As much I love big outdoor parties, I also love sleep. And, I was not ready to give that up, yet.

Her next idea was a tea party with her friends and all their dolls. I was ok with this. I had been preparing myself for it. So, I told her that a tea party would be fine and fun, but that boys probably wouldn't want to come to her tea party. That made her pause. "Well, maybe they could play outside while we have the tea party?" she said. Um, yeah, no. I explained to her that that was not going to work.

Then, we started brainstorming on party ideas that were gender-neutral, because she still wanted to have her big backyard birthday party. Yay for me! 

Then, the theme came to me. A race party. Molly loves running in the kids races at all my races, plus she just completed her first 5K. Oh yeah, we could do a lot with this. So long as the weather held up ...

We started with the invited and the name of the race, which was "Sprint to Six" because, well, obviously, Molly's turning 6. Awfully convenient with that alliteration.

Next up, we had to have Packet Pick-Up. You can't have a race without race packets. In the packets, we had race t-shirts (oh yes, we did) and special race bibs that had "Sprint to Six" on the top and "Happy Birthday to Molly!" on the bottom. I could only order in quantities of 100, so if anyone else is having a Sprint to Six party for a girl named Molly, I've got about 75 bibs for you. The only way I could convince Cory that we should do shirts was by showing him my design for the sponsors on the back of the shirt:
Yes, those are all of Cory's companies, clubs and web sites. I threw my blog in there just for me. Now, a bunch of kids can run around advertising for Cory's companies. And, that is how there came to be t-shirts in the packets.

Anne kindly volunteered to be helper extraordinaire for the party. She worked packet pick-up like a pro.

Kiran picking up his packet.

The Taylor kids getting theirs. 

After packet pick-up, we had a sign making station (what's a race without awesome signs to cheer you on?) and a face-painting station and hair spraying area. The kids were big fans of all of these.

Aunt Sarah painting on Molly's hair as Charlotte watched.

Charlotte had her hair sprayed blue, and Jake made a rocket ship sign.
Spraying Alana's hair.
Riley and Molly super proud of their "I rock" signs.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Cow confidence

With Hospital Hill less than 2 weeks away, I've had an epiphany. Here goes: I can do it. I can do what I set my mind to. This might seem like a "duh" statement, especially considering I am 32 years old and should have learned that long ago. But, I've never been one to have a whole lot of confidence in myself. At least insofar as reaching out of my comfort zone. But, last week, well, I discovered that maybe I should have that confidence in myself.

Last week I ran in the Running with the Cows race. It was the last of the three half marathons in the Heartland 39.3 series. I ran it last year, and really loved it. It is a smaller race and run in the country. You literally run right along fields on an out-and-back course. And, yes, cows are hanging out right beside you chomping on their grass as you run by.

Now, even though I loved it, the thing that actually made me fill out the registration form and do it again this year was this:

How cute is that medal? Yes, as we all know, I'm a medal-aholic, and this one got me. Adorable.

With Kelli and Anne before the race. Ready to earn those cute medals.

Anyway, I hadn't truly been planning to "race" this race, but ... well, the PR that I set at Rock the Parkway was 1:50:13. I mean, 13 seconds. Really? So close to getting that under 1:50 time. So, it wasn't at the forefront of my mind, but there was maybe a hint of a thought that maybe I could maybe try to maybe beat that.

Did you catch how many maybes were in there? Yeah, that wasn't just bad writing. I was so unsure of my ability. I truly didn't know if I could do it. It's like I was scared to even put it out there as a goal because I didn't think there was any way I could hit it.

In Rock the Parkway, I started with the 1:55 pacers, then moved ahead after a couple miles. At Running with the Cows, I truly hadn't thought about it. Then, Kelli said she was thinking of starting with the 1:50 pacers. I was pretty nervous, but I decided, "What the heck? Let's do it."

Lining up with Kelli and Bill behind the 1:50 pacers.

I figured, if I was struggling, I could always slow up. But, I was left with some in the tank at Rock the Parkway, and it was pretty beautiful weather, so maybe there was a chance. And, there's that maybe again.

I started off pretty strong and felt pretty good. It was a true out-and-back course, so 6.55 miles out, then turn around, and 6.55 miles back. It really was scenic (as long as we're counting rolling green hills and pastures as scenic) along the course, and I chatted with Kelli for a while. I tend to people-watch as I'm racing. I check out outfits and watch other people's running strides. Yeah, that's my head while I'm running. Just so you know. Super exciting stuff going on in there.

After a while, one of the 1:50 pacers moved a little ahead, so I ran up to join him. I'm going to call him George, because I cannot remember his name, and I feel really bad about that. So, we're going to go with George, ok? Cause he was awesome, and he deserves a name, even if it's not his real one. I started talking to George and told him my goal of breaking 1:50. We were about at mile 5, and George said that I seemed to be doing absolutely fine, and he was confident I could do it. I began to think that maybe I could.

We hit the turnaround point, and the wind that had recently started picking up, was suddenly at our back. While it was great at helping push us along, it also made it very hot. For some reason, running in the sun with the wind doesn't cool you down. I'm sure there's something very scientific behind that, but I just call it weird running phenomenon. Another weird running phenomenon? Not noticing downhills until you have turned around and are heading back up them.

Anyway, I kept chatting with George, and I got to say hi to all of my friends as we crossed paths. That is one thing I love about out-and-backs. George and I started talking to another guy runner. His goal was under 1:48. He was asking George when he should start picking up the pace in order to hit it. So, George and this other guy started figuring at which mile he would have to start shaving seconds off. All I heard was 20, 7, 9, 15, long division, 10, 11, 5, algebra ...

Seriously, I have no idea how people do math while they run. My mind could not even start to fathom trying to calculate the amount of seconds needed to shave off each mile starting at what mile. I think I went cross-eyed even thinking about it. And, I told them this. But, they figured it out, and this guy took off.

Around mile 7, George told me that he was running a little fast for his pace group, so he was going to slow down. "Ok," I said, slowing my pace as well. At this point, George said, "You need to go ahead. You're talking and doing fine at mile 7. You need to go. Really. Go."

While I was enjoying having someone to talk to, I did listen to his urging. And, I listened to my body. I was fine. I felt good. Maybe I just needed someone else to tell me that I could do it. So, I turned it on. And, I spent the next 6 miles cruisin. I passed the 1:48-guy who had left George and me earlier. In fact, I just kept passing people. There was a chance this could happen.

Headed to the last .1 miles.

Waving to Cory and the girls.

Here we go, literally running right next to a cow.

And, there it is. I didn't just squeak by under 1:50, I beat it by 2 minutes , 30 seconds.

I started the day not even thinking I could do it, but I did. I did it. I felt great doing it. That smile was true and honest. I was so happy. Apparently, what I was lacking all along was simply the confidence to go for it. It took George almost quite literally kicking me down the road before I pushed away those maybes and actually believed that I could meet my secret goal.

Oh, yeah, and the wind at my back.

After Anne and I finished. She PR'd, too!
With our medals and our belt buckles from the Heartland 39.3 series.

Molly with a cow.

After we all finished, we headed inside for the amazing spread of food. I ate. The girls ate. Then, we headed back to our car. But, before we could really leave, we had to stop to see the real cow:

Charlotte and I making the cow sign we learned at music class.

I did it. Posing with my medal and belt buckle and acres and acres of green grass. Another weird running phenomenon? The overwhelming compulsion to pose with every medal I've ever earned. Or ... maybe that's just a weird Amy phenomenon.
So, maybe this lesson will sink in. Maybe I'll have the confidence to believe in myself and push myself farther than I thought I could go. Maybe, this will change my whole attitude about myself as a runner. Maybe, maybe, maybe ... Whoops. There I go again. Maybe I'll just be proud of this race, go into Hospital Hill strong and excited, and just keep smiling. That, I know I can do.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Pride of my heart and sole

Molly has been coming out to races of mine ever since she was a baby. So, I had always dreamed of the day when I could actually run with her in a race. She's been getting older (as kids are wont to do), so recently, I had started thinking about running a 5K with her.

She loves doing kids' runs at the races that I go to, but I knew she could do more if she wanted. Last summer, she loved to go on "runs" with me. I would finish up my regular run, then come home, pick her up and we'd head out for maybe a half or 3/4 of a mile. We both loved it, though we had stopped doing it once school and winter got in the way.

Enter the Mother's Day Run. Now, not only would it be on Mother's Day (duh), but it also was the day after Running with the Cows half marathon. I was running Running with the Cows, so I knew I wouldn't want to actually race a 5K the next morning. But, I thought that it might be the perfect time to run with Molly.

The Mother's Day run is an all-women's race that is just a big party, with lots of walkers and people in tutus and tiaras. I mean, tell me that's not perfect for Molly. Plus, what better way to celebrate Mother's Day than sharing my love of running with my baby girl?

So, a few weeks ago, I asked her if she would be interested in running it with me. She paused, then told me she would think about it. She does this a lot, so I knew better than to push her. I just asked every couple days what she was thinking. She usually told me that she was still thinking about it.

Then, I found out that a little friend of hers from Kindergarten was running in a 5K with her family the weekend before. When I told Molly that Amelia was running, I think Molly decided that maybe she could do it. Then she started telling everyone that she was going to run in a 5K with mommy on Mother's Day. So, I signed us up.

I made a big deal about it just being fun and insisting to her that she could do it. On Saturday, we went over to packet pick-up at Dick's Sporting Goods. I wanted her to get the whole feel for the race. She told the lady behind the table her name and was given her very own bib. Then, she got a shirt AND a tiara. Big time.

As we were headed to the exit of Dick's, we passed a display of Sweaty Bands (cute running headbands). I stopped to look, and Molly started fingering a cute pink sparkly one. I had previously promised her that she could wear one of my headbands for the race, but she said, "I think this one would go so cute with my tiara."

Now, I was incredibly tempted to get her one, but Cory was with us, so I said, "Well, you do have mine that you can wear." She nodded, put it back and said, "You're right. Plus, this costs money and we need to save money so we can buy our beach house because that costs lots of money." I almost died laughing, but I'm pretty sure that was the most proud Cory has ever been.

That night, Molly told me that we needed to watch the weather and lay out our clothes. I'm not sure where in the world she would've learned that from. Unfortunately, the temperatures for the morning were forecast to be 37 degrees. Really?!? In May?!? Jeez. So, we laid out her pants and long-sleeved running outfit with her shirt, bib, tiara, tutu and shoes. It was really cute, and I wished I would've thought to take a picture of her laying it out. We also laid out Charlotte's outfit, because even though she wasn't racing the 5K, she still wanted to dress up for the princess run.

The next morning, my alarm went off and before I even had a chance to put my contacts in, both girls were in my room dressed in their race clothes. Can we say excited? Then, it was my turn to figure out what to wear. I decided on capris and a long-sleeved shirt and jacket. With tutu and tiara, of course.

Molly ate a pre-race breakfast of banana and breakfast bar, and we piled in the car and headed over to the race. The day before, Kelli, who was in charge of water stops, convinced Cory to help hand out water, so he had a job at the race, too.

Posing for the traditional pre-race photo.

Molly decided to warm up with some jumping jacks.

So happy to see Anne and Kelli, who were going to be volunteering at the water stop, Molly ran over and gave them both big hugs.
Big hugs  for Kelli, too!

Hanging out in the starting corral before the start.

Can you say excited?!?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Peer pressured to run Lawrence

Remember how I said I was going to get caught up on posting? Hmmmm ... ok, I really am trying. The problem is, and I'm sure many of you can empathize here, when I have a chance to blog, it's usually at night. And, then? Well, I usually just want to go to sleep. Oh well, no complaining, just writing.

So, after finishing the Heartland 39.3 series last year, I really didn't have any intention of doing it again this year. But, I still wanted to do Rock the Parkway, and I LOVED the medal for this year's Running with the Cows, so I signed up for that one. But, that was only 2 out of 3.

Then, the Kansas Half announced that they'd changed the course this year. Part of the reason I didn't want to do the Kansas Half this year was because I hated the course. And, that's saying a lot because it is in Lawrence, Kansas, which is home to my alma mater, KU. I have many fond memories of time spent in Lawrence, but the course for this race was not one of them.

So, when they announced that they'd changed the course, I started considering it. But, only vaguely. Then, Kelli said that she was thinking about it because she was going to be in Lawrence that morning anyway after attending her sister-in-law's wedding the night before. Well, that's pretty much all the convincing that it took for Anne and I to sign up, too.

Apparently, we're pretty easily swayed by peer pressure when it comes to races. I never went through a DARE program to teach me how to say no to a friend trying to convince me to sign up for a race.

Then, literally hours after I signed up for the race, I heard about Boston. As a runner, it hit me hard. I felt like all of my friends were attacked. And, the only thing I wanted to do was get out and run. So, actually, I'm really glad that we signed up for the race, because it gave us something to "do" to show our support, solidarity and spirit as runners.

Anne found bibs for us to proclaim our support for Boston. Loved them.

Since none of us had really planned on doing the race, we decided to just run it for fun as a training run. That meant, we got to stick together. In helping with that decision? The fact that Kelli had been attending a wedding the night before, and I had been attending a neighborhood wine party the night before. Yeah, that makes you not want to push it too hard.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Surprise! A whole new room!

I've been feeling a bit restless lately. Maybe it's because we have been denied a true spring and are still stuck in winter-like weather. Maybe it's because my neighbor/friend/running partner sold her house and is leaving me. Maybe I'm just in a rut. Whatever it is, I've been feeling like my house is closing in on my lately. Too much stuff. Too much clutter. Too little "ahhhhs."

Anyway, to cure myself of this feeling, I've been watching some HGTV. Ok, maybe a lot of HGTV. Alright, alright ... a TON of HGTV. Well, I started to get some ideas floating around in my brain.

Cory knows it's dangerous when I start to get ideas, and I think he gets very scared. So, instead of scaring him, I decided to surprise him. He was going out of town on Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon for the Berkshire Hathaway stockholders meeting in Omaha. This was going to be my chance.

I had been tiring of our bedroom for a while now. We had painted it a tanish brown color when we moved in  9.5 years ago. Yes, we've lived in our house almost 10 years. I know. It's insane. Anyway, I think almost 10 years with the same color is plenty long.

I wanted something fresh, crisp and clean. A place to relax and chill. My bedding was already white and brown, and I knew it would look good with a teal/blue/turquoise color. I was planning this all in my head without giving Cory a heads up at all.

So, on Friday, I go to Lowe's and get a couple testers of different colors. Saturday morning, Cory leaves at 3 a.m. Charlotte is up by 6:15, and I start painting the testers. I proceed to empty out the whole room and take everything off the walls. Then, when I see my neighbor/friend/running partner out at her garage sale, I make her come over to help me decide on one of the three colors.

Blurry, but the three choices. You really could barely tell the difference in real life, though.

I decided on "aqua chiffon," even if there was a little voice in my head that told me it would be too bold and too bright, and headed over to Lowe's to buy the two gallons of paint. My mom, painter extraordinaire, had graciously agreed to come over to help me paint. We stopped at Einstein's for breakfast as long as we were out and about.

Charlotte at Einstein's.

Charlotte wanted to take a picture. Please forgive the lack of makeup and crazy hair: I was going to be painting!
After we got home, and my mom got over, we started painting. It actually went pretty quickly, even after I decided to paint the windows and the big light box in my kitchen white. I figured, as long as the paint was out, I would just get it done. 

Sunday morning, the paint was dry, I hung everything back up, and even made it to the store for a couple new decorative pillows. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Rocking it through the dog door

I know I've been behind on posts. I can only blame the fact that I had a race every weekend of April (including two out-of-town ones). No, excuse, really. But, I'm going to use it anyway. I'm going to try to catch up here. Again. No really. This time, I'm really going to catch up. I swear. 

Rock the Parkway was the second weekend of April. And, my second race of April. Last year, I ran Rock the Parkway for the first time. I did it as part of the Heartland 39.3 series. (A series of 3 races in less than 6 weeks.) But, Rock the Parkway was my goal race of the three.

A lot of people (non-runner friends and my husband) think I'm crazy for running so many half marathons. But, to me, a half is the perfect distance. It's enough to feel like I've really accomplished something, but I can keep trained up for them without a whole lot of change in my normal running routine. I love them. But, the key is, I don't "race" all the races I run. Meaning, most of them, I just run for fun. Or, I run with friends. Or, I don't push too hard.

Not saying that it's not an challenge to run each 13.1 miles, just that I don't push myself to absolute exhaustion at every race.

Just to keep a tally, here are the big races of my Spring 2013 Race Calendar:

  • Chocolate Rush Half Marathon
  • St. Louis Marathon Relay (2 legs)
  • Rock the Parkway
  • Kansas Half Marathon
  • Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon
  • Running with the Cows Half Marathon
  • Hospital Hill Half Marathon

Have I mentioned that I love races?  Some people only run one or two races a year and really race them hard. That's cool if that's how they run. But, this is how I run. Lots of races, with only a few "raced."

Ok, all that being said, Rock the Parkway is a race I race. Last year, it was also my goal race. And, despite the humid and warm temps, I managed to PR. I was so happy to see my time of 1:53:34. It was 4 minutes under my previous PR. Now, I had yet to fully learn the importance of eating after a race, and I was sick for the rest of the day. This year, I knew my body even more, and I've been training and cross-training even harder.

I wanted to PR again. I was going to race Rock the Parkway.

This year, the temps were SO MUCH more favorable than last year. They started in the high 30s with no wind. I was stressing out beforehand trying to figure out what to wear, but it ended up being absolutely perfect for running. (Just so you know, I wore capris, a long sleeved shirt, and a light jacket shirt with ear warmers and gloves).

My dad was running the race this year, too. And, my little brother was in town from Maine, so he came out to the race to be a support system for us.
Isn't he a sweet little brother?!? 
I also ran into all my girls pre-race. And, as they are all well aware, I forced them to take a picture.
Marsha, Kelli, Anne and me.