Thursday, September 22, 2016

Colin Kaepernick was a patriot - Until he refused to vote

UPDATE: I take it back. Refusing to vote is not loving America. It's failing America.

What Kaepernick did and continues to do, kneeling during the National Anthem, does not disrespect America. Not in the least. In fact, it shows the highest faith and love. 

How? Ask Job. 

What? Yes. Let's consider the story of Job. While attending a religious university in Texas, I grappled to understand the Book of Job. Job was a righteous man, blameless and upright. And he suffered at God's behest. God took away his fortune, killed his children, and blighted his skin with sores. His wife told him to curse God and die. 

And, he had every reason to. Even his friends turned on him, attacking with one long-winded speech after another. Time to cash out. 

But he didn't. Instead, he argued with his friends, and worse upon worse, he accused God: “As surely as God lives who has denied me justice, the Almighty has made me taste bitterness in my soul.” Job 27:2.

A man dared to question God. Cue the lighting bolts and damnation! 

But He didn't. Instead, God responded and rebuked: “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!” Job 40:2

In the end, Job is the one that is justified in God's sight, and blessed by God. His friends were condemned.

It defies logic. Job, an insignificant man, heaped blame on God the Almighty. And still, he was righteous. How can that be?

Because Job never stopped believing God. He kept faith despite everything. The worst everything the devil could imagine: Wealth gone. Beloved children dead. Disfiguring, debilitating pain.

He questioned because he KNEW God would answer. When his friend Eliphaz asked him, “Call if you will, but who will answer you?”

Job knew. God would answer. 

Because Job was a righteous man. He accused God, but he knew God could handle the accusation, overcome it, and everything else in this universe. Because Job was a righteous man. 

And Kaepernick is patriot. He’s not like Job’s wife. He doesn’t curse America and go elsewhere. America is the home that he loves. So, he protests in the most inflammatory, heart-wrenching manner he can. Because Kaepernick believes in America. He knows America can answer. America can overcome. 

Because America is sick. From the moment our forefathers allowed the disease of slavery to exist, America has been sick. From that moment to this one now, we have not held up to the truth that all men are created equal. By God.

We allowed humans not to count as humans. And after slavery ended, Black Americans were still not Americans. They did not, and do not, have true equal protection under the law. Black Americans have had to scrape and scramble for voting rights, equal access to education, fair treatment in the courts, and currently, the most visible manifestation of this disease is police brutality. Brutal murders of Black men and boys by representatives of America, the police. 

America is sick. Because Black Americans are Americans, and America is not protecting them.

If you believe in America, you must believe she can be more. I do. The words of the Declaration of Independence still, and always, bring tears to my eyes. 

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." This is dream that is America. We need to fight for this dream. 

Because Black Americans are Americans. And Asian Americans are Americans. And Latino Americans are Americans. And poor Americans are Americans. And elderly Americans are Americans. And disabled Americans are Americans. And queer Americans are Americans.

Stop. Go back to that list you just skimmed. Read it again. Say it aloud. Add to it. Then, print it out and put it on your mirror and say it to yourself every day until you believe it. 

We are Americans. 

If you love America, America the Beautiful, the home of the Brave, the land of the Free, then you must fight for equal protection under the law for all Americans. 

Like Job, we all need to question. To accuse. Because we believe America can be great. 

And that’s what Kaepernick is doing. America has denied Black Americans justice. He questions. 

Who will answer?

America will. Prejudice and racism are a disease.

Love America enough to challenge her, change her. 

Black American are Americans. For America, we must protect them. 

-a white, suburban housewife and lover of America-

Thursday, August 20, 2015

NOT Back to School

This is the time of year that makes trips to the grocery store, with school supplies prominently on display, painful. Back to school, ugh. So much anxiety and preparation. Anticipation, too, of seeing favorite students and co-workers again and seeing what the new school year will bring.

But not this year. I quit. No mas Rowlett High School.

I haven't done a big announcement or thrown the "I quit teaching" parade because I wasn't quite sure how I felt about it and was even more unsure on how explain why.

I just finished my 10th year at RHS, 11 years teaching French and was by no means planning on quitting or changing schools or any other drastic measure until the last few weeks of the year. For the most part, I really enjoy teaching. I feel like I'm good at it. Okay, that's false modesty. I'm a kicka** teacher. I made learning French a challenging, entertaining, engaging experience. I connected with 97% of my students and really had them participating from bell to bell, And it was exhausting. I was up nursing the baby and off to work before dawn, teach like a swarm of bees, then come home, run on the treadmill and help Casey finish making dinner. Eat, clean up, put Gigi to bed, then Indiana, and finally have an hour or so with Casey or to myself before bed. Rinse and repeat. Saturdays, I'd get up super-early to do a long run (12-22 miles), then make a grocery list while trying to eat, hit the grocery store with the whole family, feed the kids lunch, then finally rest. On Sunday, mounds of laundry and lunches for the week to make. Clean up.

This is life, I know, for lots of people. I was more than content doing it. I even had a student tell me that I was different because I was happy all the time. Who wouldn't be? A good stable job, two beautiful kids, loving husband, lovely home and enough free time to keep training for marathons. Piece of cake.

But, there were lots of things I wanted to do, but couldn't. Like take Indiana to school. Or at least know what was going on with him at school. And be home in the mornings to dress sweet Gigi who spent the first year of her life in jammies, pretty much. And to be there to take Indiana to his first day of school. Or to do Giselle's hair before school, when she starts. And take them to activities. And to have time to really talk to my husband. And go to doctor's appointments for crying out loud.

There was never enough time or enough emotional energy for everything and everyone, and I felt like Casey was definitely getting the short end of the stick. He was trying to work in his workout with taking care of Indiana in the morning (Gigi sleeps in, God bless her) then take Indiana to school after Mom got to the house. After school, someone from Casey's office would pick Indiana up, and Indiana would be at Casey's office watching Netflix, eating jelly beans for an hour or two. They'd get home, and I'd usually be on the treadmill, so Casey would start dinner. And he NEVER complained about it. Or hardly ever.

But, then his office started picking up more and more business, he'd come home later and later, saying he just couldn't get it all done. He was bringing stuff home on the weekend too, sometimes, along with going to evening board meetings a couple evenings a month. Not a lot of down time, but the good part was, he was doing a ton of work and getting paid to do it.

We met with a financial adviser in April, and he kinda off-hand mentioned that I didn't need to work, but we didn't take it that seriously then. He ran the numbers again for us in May, and then we really started to talk about me going part time. So, I asked. I figured it was a good time. RHS was about to change to block schedule for coming year, and they had finally hired a second French teacher who was only teaching French half the time.mSo, I proposed teaching every other day the upper level classes.

I even had my students fill out a survey on SurveyMonkey about my classes and brought it with me. They wrote stuff like "I wish my teacher knew that....'she's a great teacher'." I didn't even have to offer extra credit for that. Plus, I figured they wouldn't let a Dual Credit teacher (as in, someone with a Masters degree in their teaching field) out of their hands. But I was wrong. I kept asking up the chain and waiting for responses, but I also started packing up my room. I got the final word on the second to last day. Garland ISD does not have part time positions. And the response was in the tone of, "We told you we don't do part-time. Why are you asking?"

Therein lies one of the real problems. I liked my job. I liked my co-workers. I liked my students. I did not like my bosses. Or their bosses. Rowlett had gone from a big family to a big factory, it felt, and the student demographic was changing too. For the first time ever, I suspected that there might be a drug deal going down in one of my classes, or at least, that I had students that were selling drugs at school. I reported it but was never told what was going on. Because, why would they tell me? That's what it was like. And that's a shame. Lots of teachers left RHS this year. I quote the principal at the last faculty meeting, "too many to name." That's sad. For the good kids and the good teachers still fighting the good fight. There are many of them still, and if you're one of them, I salute you. And, you should probably stop reading here.

Because I'm ecstatic. I drove away from RHS with my car packed to the gills and thought, "That's the best decision I ever made." Sure, sure...husband, kids, etc. But those weren't gut-wrenching decisions. I'd always wanted to be married and have kids. I'd NEVER wanted to be a stay-at-home mom and told everyone I knew so. Sour grapes, I'm sure they were thinking. But I'd been awake restless thinking about it for the two weeks it took from asking for the part time position to the last day. Oh, and that last day nearly killed me. Sad good-byes, hugs, well wishes and "but you're the best teacher I have" and "your class changed my life!" Killing me. I cried and cried. Until I left that parking lot.

Because this is my life.
Morning runs outside. Legos with Indiana before taking him to school. Knowing his teachers and what's going on. Friday morning yoga.
Plenty of time to do what needs to be done, but enough time to slow down and enjoy the moment. Take a picture with a giant mango. Or dance in the kitchen. Make whole-wheat oatmeal bars and low-sugar snacks for my kids. 
And watch baby girl, 15 months old, walk. Yes, Karime, (former RHS student) I am happy. And my kids are happy. And Casey, too.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

My Big Fat French Family

My mother, the kids and I went to France for two weeks in July. Two and a half days were mostly occupied with traveling, one day in Paris, and the rest at my grandmother's country house in Luxe, outside of Angouleme in Central France.

I know when you hear 'France' and 'country house' you think, "Fancy!" and "Ooo, la la, these people are rich!" And some of them probably are. But certainly not fancy.
French people, to an American perspective, are very thrifty. They do not throw things away, tear down old buildings, etc. Especially food, never...that's why French toast exists, along with lots of other recipes designed to use up leftover food.  And thank goodness for my Aunt Sylvie's dog because some of that stuff, I was not eating. Lights are always turned off when you leave a room and broken things are not thrown away. Repaired or not. For example, my grandmother had three pairs of scissors in the house, all completely chewed up and horrible looking. She hasn't had a dog in years. I chucked the worst pair when she wasn't looking. The toaster had two settings, not enough and incinerated. After a week, I wanted to hurl it out the window.  My grandmother, above, is 93 years old and a queen of thriftiness. I couldn't help thinking...Lady, you have two houses, and you're worried about the price of tomatoes? But she was and would put them back if she found a price she liked better. But she would wave off other things for not being good enough quality too. It was a challenge, let's just say, to do the daily grocery shopping for 6,10,12,14, and even17 people!
As you can see, they're not really fat, except for my cousin's son, Matthieu there in the middle...and that's just baby fat. ;-) That poor kid has the curse of being picky in a country where food and meals is such a part of the lifestyle. I feel like the whole day there was about food. Meal planning, grocery shopping, meal prep, serving, eating, cleaning up...start again. Anyway, Matthieu commits the daily crime of not liking much and eating mostly what would show up on a kids menu in the US. Here, he'd be a slight irritation, there was a major deal. They talked about it for DAYS before he came, and then every meal was: what's he eating now? Well, whatever his dad would make separate for him: nuggets, pizza, plain pasta.  They had to explain to my grandmother what a 'nugget' was, but they did sell them in the grocery store. There, they consider it part of their upbringing to teach kids to eat meals, and table manners mattered, even when eating outside in your swimsuit, a little at least. 

My kids instantly won my grandmother's affection by eating everything, especially Gigi, even if they didn't make it to dinner a few nights because it was so late. Lunch at 2:30 and dinner at 8:30, 9 pm is tough for little kids. My grandmother was really alarmed the first time I put one or the other to bed without lunch/dinner. "But when will she eat? She needs dinner!" Seriously, it worried her. It was a problem. Kids (and adults sometimes) are expected to eat a snack at 4-5pm, and cookies are completely acceptable. Other than that, I didn't really see much snacking. I grab fruit or yogurt for them or myself as necessary, and thankfully, there was plenty of that. I ate so much white flour bread, butter, full-fat cheese, and second helpings on lots of stuff (just to please my grandmother, of course) and didn't gain weight (much...but that was all the pastries I ate in Paris #noregrets). Portion, shmorshen, fiber, shmiber. Not an issue. But I did eat lots and lots of fruit because 1) it was delicious, especially the, and 2) most meals started and/or ended with fruit. 

People sometimes ask me if I cook for "French food" or I want to make French food, what do I do? Here it is. Courses. It MUST be in stages. There are rules for what is served and even for who served what (men pour the wine, offer the dish to the people around you before serving yourself, the guest is served first, host sits at the head of the table, etc.).
1) First course. Everyone starts eating 1 thing. Like an appetizer, but the options are more like, in the summer, a slice of melon (cantaloupe or watermelon), carrot salad, tomato salad, cucumber salad---aka tossed in vinaigrette, or in the winter, cold cuts, pate, soup. Chips and salsa, a Texas staple, would be a pre-first course, an aperitif (served with champagne!  I may defect.)
2) Main course. Meat and veg.  Veal and peas, Roast beef and mashed potatoes, sausages and rice, etc. 
3) Cheese course. Bread, butter and cheese.Multiple kinds of cheese. After every lunch and dinner. I don't think I've eaten cheese but once or twice since we've come back. So.much.cheese.
4) Dessert. Yogurt, fruit, and if you're lucky, cake. I did make cookies too. The 12 year old French kids said they were the best they'd ever had. :-)
Hurray for Gigi! And for Nathalie. She's my oldest girl cousin, and it was really nice to spend time with her and her 12 year old son Rudy, my unofficial godson. She was really, really sweet with my kids and dove in with the chores of food prep etc, and it was awesome. I could tell she'd made the trip up from the south of France special to see us.You can't tell, but her hair is mostly shaved except for some seriously long dread-locks. Now, you're thinking, how can she hold down a normal job with that hairstyle? Well, she doesn't; she makes purses and jewelry to sell at antique fairs and the beach, and that allows her to live a more bohemian lifestyle. She definitely doesn't fit the stereotype, and I love that about her.
We got so tan spending afternoons playing in the pool, every afternoon, three hours at this beautiful pool. The weather was in the 60's in the morning and high 80's in the afternoon. Great weather for running, having lunch outside in the shade. Lovely. Except at night. No the only way to cool the house was opening the windows, so you had the choice of sweltering heat or being devoured by mosquitoes. The children looked like they had chicken pox at one point. Boo.
 Lots of playing in the pool! There was a little pool for Indiana's age and even a baby pool. It was great. My grandfather, God rest his soul, was a wise man to build such a nice pool for the kids, grandkids and great-grandkids.
We celebrated two birthdays in one, Pascal my oldest cousin in the middle, and Rudy on the right's 12th birthday. Pascal, my oldest cousin, is a character. Very smart and funny but has terrible personal habits...lots of smoking and a fair amount of drinking, but he would challenge anyone who said anything about it to him to compare their blood test results with his. Not having mine available, I held my tongue. Plus, he was highly entertaining and made a beautiful Salad Nicoise. That cake, BTW, I have the recipe, and I will use it. 
 My cousin Adeline, standing above, came with her three kids for the last couple of days we were there. They stayed at my grandmother's city house, about 30 minutes away. She was great too. I felt like we understood each other. She's a mom, nuclear engineer and lives in a beautiful apartment in a fantastic neighborhood in Paris. She makes the best chocolate cake, or second best to my grandmother's celebration cake that Nathalie made for Rudy's birthday (in the previous picture). And she did the grocery shopping the last day, so I wouldn't have to, God bless her.
Rudy was a hoot! Indiana loved getting to play with him the first couple of days before all the other kids came. Then it was just fun all around.
 Gigi loved my uncle Alain, which is very surprising, considering that's the closest to a smile that I've ever seen. But, every time he was there, he would bring the best bread and break out the wine (and champagne, for lunch, even) and he bickered with no one, unlike several other, unmentioned people. Ahem. I made fajitas for dinner one of the nights, and despite the strangeness of it, he complimented it and insisted that the red champagne he was serving with it went very nicely, and I should let people know. So, here I am. Red sparkling wine goes well with steak fajitas. Ha! 
 Cousins! Since I only get to see them every few years, it was really special getting to spend time with them.
 More! Adeline's brother Antoine (who liked the fajitas too, God bless him) and Pascal, Nath, Indiana and me. Antoine drove up for dinner one night and showed us pictures of the two hundred year old house his family (wife and four kids!) are remodeling. They throw nothing away.
French kids do eat everything. Except Matthieu. Indiana loved the canteloupe, which is a different species from what they grow here in the US. So good. First course, at least once a day.
Rudy, demonstrating his Kung Fu. Cool kid. I'm trying to get his mom to let me take him for a summer. I spend several summers in France, and two of my cousins came to visit as well. I'd love for that to continue with the next generation.
Mamie Paulette, not sure about those fajita things. Whatever. They were perfect and delicious. I found tortillas at the store and made fresh salsa in the blender. And chocolate chip cookies for dessert. I am a culinary rock star....or at least according to the kids.
I ran almost every day there. It worked out great. No one got up before 10, so I'd get up early, run and be back and have breakfast before the house started stirring. Indiana did get up earlier, but thankfully, they have cartoons. When asked what is favorite part of France was, he'll say the cartoons. Oh, well.
He liked the food too, though. See him sneaking a taste of the uncooked 'cake' batter. 'Cake' to a French person means a savory bread. Nathalie's had leftover chicken, steamed zucchini and feta. Served with salad. Lunch, done.
Eating, and more eating! Plus, these are the only shots I have of the family together.
Gigi, eating and sitting on the oldest of her second cousin's lap, Camille, with Blanche on the left and Henri on the right.
Finally, Rudy the goof and Indiana, wanting to be just like him. 

It was so fun and rewarding (and so challenging) to take my kids to another country. I hope we can do it again when they're a little bit older and will do their mother a solid and sleep on the dang plane. A mother can dream, right?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Calling All Superheros: Indiana turned 4!

Indiana, this sweet, funny kid, turned 4 last Saturday. He is so happy. That's what his teachers always say about him. He's friendly and sweet-tempered. He loves cars and trucks as much as ever, but he likes playing super-heros, legos and puzzles too. He's becoming more independant and better at communication. At his 4 year appointment, he got a clean bill of health. 41 inches and 36 lbs, so 50% for height and 75% for weight! It's the first time he's been over 50% for anything. So, I guess I don't have to worry about him eating enough. :-)
 Saturday, we started the day at Mustang donuts, wearing his Happy Birthday shirt. Probably the last time he'll wear it...2T!
 Had some fun at the grocery store.
 The party was super-hero themed, and we had lots of good food. Fruit cups and Pirate Booty, chips and queso, burgers and hot dogs.
I even got a little super-man outfit for Gigi. She was too cute. With the kids being so close in age, I figured it would be okay to have one big party for both of them.
 I made cupcakes for Gigi, but she didn't even up eating them at the party.
 The Batman cake was more than enough. The kids liked it.
Everyone had a good time, especially Indiana. He was the life of the party. :-) I'm thankful for my busy, happy boy.

Giselle is 1!

Oh, sweet Gigi!
You are such a joy, little girl! You love being the center of attention and will smile and wave to admirers. You love your little Dorthey doll that fits in you hand. You love to play at clapping or reaching for something being dangled out of reach. It makes you giggle like crazy. And oh, the tickling! You have so many spots to tickle when I change into your jammies, we laugh and tickle and blow bubbles on your tummy. Your laughter could make the darkness bright.
We celebrated your birthday yesterday at home, and you had your first petit four and loved it.

You officially have 11 teeth, and are a great eater. And you are in motion! You love to pull up the standing. You cruise, belly crawl and sometimes full crawl, and if sitting, want to climb. You'll be walking soon. But not too soon, please, my darling Giselle. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

La petite Giselle : 9 months

Little miss turned 9 months two weeks ago, 1/24. At her check-up, she weighed 16.2 lbs (10%) and height 26.5 in (20%). So, she's a peanut. Otherwise, very healthy.
She sleeps about 14 hours at night, now in her crib, rather than in the swing, thankfully.
She naps once or twice a day and has five feedings, and LOVES eating solids.

That happy smile. Such a happy baby. She's been feeding herself pretty well since 7 months, and eats everything. She especially likes bright colored things, like veggies. She'll eat meat and plenty of carbs. But she mostly wants whatever we're eating. She'll hang out in the high chair pretty much as long as the food keeps coming!
She has a certain grunt that sounds like a dinosaur to tell us that she wants something. The Gigisaurus wants crackers! She's getting more in more verbal, though. She definitely knows Ma Ma, and it's sounded like she's said Da Da and even Gi Gi a few times. She's going to be talking before we know it.

What's up, peeps! She's getting really good at sitting up and can stand with support for several minutes, and will jump, jump in her exersauser. She's very curious, and loves grabbing and putting things in her mouth. She smiles all the time and loves being tickled. Her giggle is about the sweetest thing in the world. It cures all your ills.
Being silly with Daddy. He's so good with our little girl. She also makes an excellent 'Baby hat'!

I love you, baby girl. You are a treat.

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 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.