Monday, January 19, 2015

The Road to Boston


Yesterday, I qualified for the Boston marathon. The qualifying time for women age 25-35 is 3:35:00, and I beat that by 87 seconds, with a time of 3 hours, 33 minutes and 33 seconds. At my 3rd completed marathon, age 33. 

I beat it by 87 seconds. That was the real fight.

Why? Because not everyone that qualifies gets to register. You can put a BQ (Boston Qualifying) time  down, but never get to go.  Boston only takes the fastest of the fast.  Last year, only people that beat their qualifying time by 62 seconds could register. In 2012, it was 72 seconds. So, I needed to push. A second could be the difference between merely qualifying and actually getting to go.

My previously best marathon time was a bit of a surprise when I ran 3:42 in 2012 (44 minutes faster than my first marathon, hence the surprise). In 2013, I didn't run a marathon, being pregnant, but I did plenty of quality running. I got a PR (personal record) at the Allstate half marathon, a PR for the Turkey Trot and would have done another half, but the Dallas marathon was canceled because of the ice storm.

Casey and I talked about how me qualifying was possible since I was only 7 minutes away on my previous time. I could have waited a year to try, considering I'd just had a baby, but there's no time like the present. I could always try again if I didn't make it this year. Casey did some research and recommended that I sign up for two marathons close together, so that if the first one doesn't seem to be going well, I could drop out, rest and recharge and try again at another race. And that's exactly what happened eight months later. Dallas was the first Marathon, then Houston was a backup.  I was looking forward to Houston because everyone says it is "flat and fast" so I signed up.

I trained with Luke's Locker marathon training program, which has the Dallas marathon as their final race.
In July. Front row: Lauren, Ashley, me-with my eyes closed-grr, and Coach Michelle,  
Middle row: Stacey, Jillian, Alison and Coach Cecil, 
Back: James and Mario

So that is what I have been doing.  Lots and lots of running. During the summer, it was relatively easy to get the runs in, as I could run in the morning after mom came to the house to watch the baby.  I had lots of muggy 10am runs, along with great Saturday morning runs with the group.

When school started, it was mostly weekday runs on the treadmill after work. I started re-watching Battlestar Gallatica, and it lasted me the whole season. Perfect.

Here's an example of what the training was like. Green group. Running six days a week, hard runs on Tuesday and Thursday, long runs on Saturday, and easy the other three, off on Friday. I did a pretty good job of keeping to the schedule, skipping only an occasional workout. Thankfully, I didn't get sick or injured, unlike multiple members of the group. To go through 8 months of rigorous long distance training in a high impact sport uninjured was pretty amazing, really.

 Many, many hours spent with running with the core of the group: Paul, me, Lauri Ann, Cameron, Ashley, Lauren, Mario and Alison.

First came Dallas.  The morning of the race, it was raining and warm.  Bad conditions.  During the race I was slipping on wet roads while a hilly, winding course took a toll. I made several serious mistakes on top of that. I didn't eat enough prior to the race and forgot to start eating until mile 8...way too late. I was so pumped at the start that I went out too fast at an 8:00 pace, so by mile 7, the 3:35 pace group caught me, and it was a struggle from then on. At the lake I started to lose the pace group, and by the time we hit the turn around, into strong wind, I was clomping along. At 17, I saw Casey and asked him if I should drop out, and he told me to do so.  Bless him. He was there to tell me the hard truth, but the sweet man was there, ready to support whatever choice I made, so I hobbled to his scooter, and we scooted home. 

It was the smart choice. But not fun. I was disappointed and, more than anything, deflated. I had been really pumped about Dallas, had told all my students, co-workers, friends, posted signs in my classroom, on Instagram, etc. And it was humbling to take them all down, knowing that I didn't finish Dallas. But, there was a take two.  Houston was in 5 weeks.

My marathon training buddies- Paul and Alison and I compared notes and planned the month in-between. I'm so glad I didn't have to do that alone. I was pretty scared after biffing it in Dallas that I wouldn't be able to maintain the training, not get injured and stay motivated through the holidays and beyond for a month more. But we did. In the interim I ran a 21 miler, then 12, and 9. It was time to go to Houston.

I was a big ball of nerves the Saturday before the race. The weather forecast was good, high 40's and no rain, so that was a relief...but could I do it? Would it be a struggle? Would I have to drag my carcass across that finish line? I didn't dare get my hopes up.

Despite the nerves, I got to the start line without a hitch, found Alison and chatted for a bit, then found my place to start, between the 3:30 and 3:40 pace groups. Already, I was doing better. I had eaten more and was calmer than at Dallas, and I had my playlist set up to play mellow music for the first hour or so.

Houston is flat! And with optimal weather, I felt great starting out, but I had to keep telling myself not to go out too fast, to hold back and save it for the second half.  I saw Casey at mile 6, told him it felt easy. I thought, "Today is the day I qualify for Boston." At 12, I told him I could do this all day, and he told me I was on a pace for 3:34, so then I knew it was time to push a little. Today is the day I qualify for Boston.

A little after that, I was surprised to see two people from my Dallas running group, Lauren and Mario, had come down from Dallas to cheer us on.  I was so touched that they would come all that way to cheer on a few people. That was awesome.

Hoorah! I was pumped, and it really gave me a boost. It bumped up my overall pace by a second a mile. The course was really pretty, lots of greenery, pretty neighborhoods. Miles 18-20, aka the Wall, didn't bother me. People started to slow down, or walk. I didn't want to get over-confident and put on the burn too early, though.

And that was a good idea. Because, as we approached downtown, the course started to get hilly. And I was getting tired. I lost a second on my pace. At mile 23, Casey asked me if I wanted him to run with me. I said no initially, because, heck...he's my ride, but then yes. I needed him to get me back on pace. I was tired but not ready to give up on the dream. The hills went down, then up and again. Casey ran a little a head of me, pushing to to keep the pace. I kept thinking, just 30 minutes longer, just 20 minutes longer, keep the pace, keep pushing. I was passing people who were walking up the hills. We were all tired. But I can't let myself slow down. Then ten minutes. Around a turn, and I could finally the convention center where the finish line was.

A mile to go. Just 8 minutes left. Lungs burning, muscles spent, the soles of my feet feeling like hamburger, it was getting closer and closer. I saw some friends on the sideline, but all I could think was don't give up, give it all you got. I saw a guy suddenly stop because his leg seized up. Keep going, keep pushing. Then I passed the 26 mile marker. Two tenths of a mile to go. The longest.distance.of.my.life. I sprinted knowing every second counted. Finish. 3:33:33, a pace of 8:09 per mile.

Elation. Fatigue. Relief. Joy. After the finish, they funneled all the runners into the convention center and we hobbled like zombies: WATER! CARBS! But it was over, and I did it. Today was the day I qualified for Boston. Many thanks to my husband, who supported and pushed me the whole time, my family, especially my mom, who encouraged me and watched my kids while I ran, and my coaches and running buddies who put in the miles with me. It's been a team effort.
So, 87 seconds. Come September, registration will open up, and we'll see. The road to Boston is 1,769 miles by car. I've run about 1200 miles of that in the last eight months of training, and have many more to go. Can't wait. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Day

We had a simple Christmas. No big production, but tried to do a few special things. When Indiana got up, he wanted to "See Christmas" and asked if it was snowing. Sorry Pumpkin, it's easier to whistle up Santa Claus than snow in Texas. 

For Christmas, he got a real bicycle, with petals. No training wheels. We lowered the seat so he can still use his feet like he did with his balance bike, but hopefully, he'll get more comfortable and use the pedals. That was pretty much it for presents until we went to Jack and Mamie's house. Casey got himself the new Kindle for Christmas, and I'm going to order an electric toothbrush for myself. Man, we sound so old!!! I am actually quite looking forward to my toothbrush. My New Years Resolution is going to be brush my teeth more.

 
 Anyway....we did a few Christmas crafts while the pie was baking. I quite enjoy Indiana's use of color in painting ornaments. Quite avant garde.

And Gigi hung out in her favorite, favorite spot. Aren't they the cutest together?!?
 
Note: Uploading this photo was giving me fits. Despite my efforts, it was loading sideways. Casey fixed it, and he wanted you to know. He is a very smart man.

Chez my parents, Dad set a fire going, we opened more presents. I got a  very nice wallet, a beautiful silver and turquoise necklace and two berets. No joke. I've been needing a beret! Maybe. 

 Giselle loves her Mamie!

Dad made a delicious turkey and all the fixin's. Indiana ate some turkey and bread with gravy. Gigi had green beans, corn and stuffing. Together, my children had a full meal. I'll count it a win.

 In fresh jammies, Gigi sat with Dad and he shared a little ice cream from his cherry pie. A very merry first Christmas for the baby. :-)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

For Nelda


Nelda, thanks for encouraging me to blog! Here's a summary of the past five months.

August:
 
Enjoying the last bits of summer, having breakfast with Sweet Pea. He ate my gravy and I ate his cinnamon roll. Good trade.

Soaking up some cuteness.
And hours and hours spent running with these folks.

September: 
 First all family outing to the zoo.

Indiana loves school! Of course, what does he always say that he did, "Play with friends." And learned about the body, apparently. :-)
Not a great picture...but at least we're together. Being back at work was a crunch. Trying to get work done, take care of the kids, keep up my running, and spend time with Casey, and sleep! That's about it. And at work, implementing lots of new techniques and re-doing every lesson plan, to boot!

October:

Twinkies. My Handsome boys.
 
Hot date!
 Checking out the turtles at the Aquarium!
 Baby girl turned six month! And began cutting her bottom two teeth, too!
November:
 Before the Turkey trot, a family tradition.
 Enjoying time with Nana Cindy!
 OMG this kid is too cute! He's getting to the point now where he's not just a cute kid to be taken care of, he's good company, a buddy.
 And this one is all smiles. She smiles and laughs, all the time. Such a sunny disposition. She sleeps from 6:30 pm until 8:00 am, most mornings, with one 5:00am feeding before Mommy goes to work. She's not a great napper, though, and still sleeps in the swing. But, she loves to eat. Mum-mums were a revelation. It took about two tries to learn to feed herself, and there was no going back. Avocado, sweet potatoes, puffs, banana, peanut butter, pasta...if it can be eaten by two teeth, it is!
The last long, long run, 22 miles, before the Dallas marathon. It only took 3 hours, 4 minutes! ;-)

December:
 Love these sweet kids. So blessed to be their mom!
 Baby Gigi!
 Give me that cracker! Seriously, she pulled it from my fingers. This baby loves to eat!
This is how we read books sometimes before bed. Truck jammies are required. 
 
 And this happy smile ends the picture show! Decorating cookies at school. I got to go, since my school got out early. It was some serious cuteness.

The marathon was a bust, unfortunately. I started too fast, the weather was too muggy, and slipping on  wet roads was wasting momentum, so I called it quits at mile 17. It had always been the plan to sign up for two marathons close together, hope for good circumstances for the first, but if it wasn't a good day, to cash in the chips and go all in at the next race. It's hard to maintain motiviation and gear up for another race post-holidays, but I've heard such good things about the Houston marathon (flat and fast!) that I'm willing to give it another go. :-)

It's Christmas Eve and time to go deliver some homemade gifts to neighbors and friends. Merry Christmas and many blessings to you.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Summer Fun

On the 4th of July, we (Indiana, Casey and I had) a ton of fun at the Park Cities Parade and other festivities at Goar Park. Baby Gigi stayed home with Nana Cindy.
Hula-hooping
Petting the donkey. The other animals, including the baby pigs weren't as keen on being petted, and Indiana wasn't interested in animals that were playing hard-to-get. Mommy chased the piggy, though. Mommy likes piggies.

At the fire station, they had a target set up and let kids shoot the hose. Fun. There were booths giving away popcorn, snow cones, lemonade and ice cream, and a few games and bounce-houses.

But Indiana's favorite part, by far, was the parade. There were fire trucks, throwing candy. He LOVED it. It took him a few minutes to figure out how it worked...but then he was up there, running after the candy with the other kids, dancing to the music and waving his little flag. He was PRECIOUS. Watching him have so much fun made it fun for us. His joy is infectious.
They even gave the cute kid a Popsicle.

The next weekend, he stayed at Jack and Mamie's house.
They went out into the woods, had watermelon.
Even went to church and made friends. He loves the music...so cute.
Back at home, he's "helped" make brownies. Oddly, he really doesn't care for the baked cookies or brownies nearly as much as the raw dough or batter. Or maybe that's not odd at all.
And he's gone to the pool with Daddy, lots. Love the big grin.
And "helped" Daddy put together a bookshelf. He so looks like the cat that ate the canary here. Loving it...but not sure that he's allowed. There wasn't a drill bit in there, so it was allowed.
Saying "cheese" at the top of the "mountain"--the steps of Dallas Hall at SMU, after a run with Daddy.

And still, loving trucks. He had his first official playdate this week, with a friend from school, Eli. Eli's mom picked him up from school and I met them with Giselle at Eli's house. Indiana apparently told them all about construction trucks along the way, and learned some finer points  about fire engines. It was nice, having some adult conversation time with Eli's mom who also has a newborn, and Eli and Indiana seemed to get along really well and didn't make too much of a mess. ;)
Playdate, success. 

In just a few a few years, he'll start school and have friends who live close-by, riding his bike all over...but for now, he's still small and needs help. Everyday, though, he shows more independence and more interest in doing things himself,  like wanting to "help" me make dinner. 
(AKA get in my way!!! while I make Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas...a double batch because they're so good that the leftover double batch didn't last 24 hours =( But he's still my sweet boy and wants kisses for his boo-boos and books read to him before going night-night. 

He's growing up, but not too fast, thankfully.

Friday, July 18, 2014

12 Weeks

Baby Girl is already twelve weeks old! Can't image life without her. She is so sweet. I love her sweet little head, so soft to the touch, so irresistible to kiss! And her little tummy, arms and legs are starting to round out, even more deliciously kissable.

12 week status update: She is still sleeping in Mommy & Daddy's room, in both the swing and the bassinet. Most nights, she'll have a longer stretch sleeping from dinnertime to 11-1, then a couple 2-3 hour stretches. She had one miraculous 7 hour stretch sleeping in the swing, but that was a one-time wonder, at least for now. But even if she doesn't sleep for super-long at a time yet, she almost always goes back to sleep after a 10-15 minute feeding. She eats about 10 times a day and is now wearing size 3 month clothes. Overall she's a very calm and happy baby. She does have fussy times, usually right around dinnertime, but she loves sleeping in the swing, and that almost always calms her down. She sleeps in Mamie or Mommy's arms sometimes too, because she's too sweet to set down. She likes it when I talk or sing to her. She smiles and coos and burbles.

Weeks 9-10:
 We like baths...very soothing.
 And being cozy and warm. I think I have a picture of Indiana in exactly this same pose. So sweet snuggled in a towel.
 Cute little skirt!
 Isn't she lovely? That creamy skin, bright blue eyes. She's a stunner.
But we make funny faces too. Since there's lots of pooping with all that eating. And her poops can be gas-powered and shoot up and out! I don't know if I should change diaper types/sizes, or if a few leaks are inevitable.
 There's nothing sweeter than a sleeping baby!
Bright-eyes! 

Weeks 11-12:
 Princess Piglet. So dreamy propped up on the Boppy.
 Sharing some cuddles with Daddy and brother.
 Getting some QT with Nana.
 And we've found our fingers. Slurping (loudly) is fun.
Sweet little girt just fell asleep on my shoulder. Love cuddling with her.
 This is a good position for chatting and singing. I get lots of smiles this way.
 Learning to use our hands in her cute little bubble dress.
 Squeaky clean!
 Sweet little yawn.
 Slurp!
 Love that belly!!
Lots of cuddles from Mamie.