Sunday, December 27, 2015

Be Brave, Be Thankful Race

I've got a backlog of posts I've put off writing that I really need to get done now that the year is ending.  First up, the Be Brave, Be Thankful race report. The girls have been doing a 1 mile kids fun run each December for a while now.  In early November, I found out Meredith at SwimBikeMom was organizing a "5K, 10K, anyK" virtual run to raise money for ALS research in honor of Andrea Peet, a fellow triathlete. After the year we've had, I figured we were due for some medals that reminded us to be brave and be thankful, and it was for a very good cause too.  So I asked the girls if they'd rather do this race or the one they usually do and explained how it would work and they all chose this one.

The run was to take place over Thanksgiving weekend, so the day after Thanksgiving, we all loaded up in the car and drove to the track.  Secora was running 1 mile, Sedona was running 2 miles and Sierra and I were running 5k.  The track allowed us to all go at our own pace and grab water when needed.
Josh maintained a home base, taking pictures, helping track times and cheering us on.
Lap 1, everyone all smiles:



Still smiling...
Sierra lapped Secora and ran with her for about half a lap:

She also caught up to Sedona and stuck with her for a little bit:
1 mile finisher!
Aid station duty:
Success and smiles all around!
The final times ended up being:
Secora: 13:50
Sedona: 25:48
Sierra: 34:43
Me: 39:59

We mailed in our results and several days later we got our t-shirts and medals in the mail!


If you're interested in doing a virtual race, SBM is hosting another one in January, the New Year, New Hope run to raise money for Project Semicolon.

Friday, December 11, 2015

A (very) Belated Race Report

Remember last year when I said I had run my last running race?  So that lasted all of 6 months before I signed up for another one.  To be fair, I did mention in that post that I was perhaps being a little dramatic.

There were two main changes that led me back to running.  First, heart rate based training.  Josh got me a refurbished garmin 910 for my birthday and for the first time in my life, I began letting my heart rate determine how fast I ran (or, often, walked).  It turns out my "rate of perceived exertion" assumptions were WAY off and I mostly hated running because I was always training in zone 4 or 5 and basically beating my body into submission without ever giving it a break.  Zone 2 base building walk/runs were more enjoyable in the moment, gave me a sense of success since I completed the workout as assigned, and actually worked to speed me up over time.  The other big change was the start of what appears to be rheumatoid arthritis (though I'm still seronegative).  My rheumatologist is happy to have me continue exercising, and I feel better when I stay active, but I have to be careful about how I workout.  If I push too hard on one workout, I will pay for it with nearly a week's worth of hand/wrist pain and fatigue (yes, running makes my hands hurt, more on that in another post).  This has helped me get pretty darn comfortable with "racing my own race".  I'm slow, I know I'm slow, but I also know most of the people passing me don't have any sort of chronic illness.   I'm much more content to go at my own pace and very slowly improve.  Back of the pack finishes feel like success these days.

So I had been running for triathlon and actually enjoying it when we found out a race series we like was adding a new half marathon to their schedule.  There were early bird discounts and promises of good swag.  And that is how, less than a year after I swore off running races, I found myself registered for the Nutrabolt Half Marathon.

It rained over 5 inches the day before the race.  Race morning dawned a shocking 60 degrees, with rain and 15mph winds.  The week prior had been mid-80s and the week before that, mid-90s.  So shocking is really quite an understatement.  I ended up running with a hat, ear warmer and poncho that weren't part of the original plan.  Much like the 30 degree marathon years ago, I had an idea that I'd get rid of the poncho once I warmed up, but that didn't happen until about mile 12.

The walk to the start line was a solid mix of, "man, this is really sucky weather" and "man, I'm really fortunate to capable of doing this race".  We timed it just right and arrived at the start line right when the race started, so we had no "standing around getting cold" time.  I think I made it about 50 feet before I ended up running right through a deep puddle.  It was the first of many and my sock and shoes stayed soaked the rest of the race.

The rain never stopped.  The wind never stopped.  I did a really good job of sticking to my plan of doing intervals of 10 minutes in zone 4 and 2 minutes in zone 2.  It paid off when I started catching up to and passing the people who had gone out too fast.  Big Race Fail #1: The description specified there would be brownies at miles 4.5 and 10.  Presumably because of the rain, they ditched that plan and only had gels.  I don't have a problem with a race only having gels, but since they said there would be brownies on course, I didn't carry food of my own.  Around mile 5.5 I pulled out my phone to text Josh (who was ahead of me) how much further I had to go before there would be food.  I was STARVING and badly needed solid calories.  I even took a gel for the first time in 9 years (I hate the texture/taste).  Thankfully he didn't answer because I would've been completely demoralized to learn the truth...there was no food anywhere on the course.  Definitely an oversight, they should have at least made a facebook post about that before the race.

The roads we were running on were familiar to me and I thought I knew what to expect, but they'd been recently repaved and had a new, rather drastic, crown to them.  We weren't always sloping the same direction, so that was helpful, but one of my IT bands still started acting up a bit around mile 9.  I stopped and stretched and slowed down a little, but overall, it was minor.   Around this time is also when I got a text from Josh that he had finished.  I still had about 45 minutes to go and checked in with him every mile from that point on.  I leap frogged for a while with a man about my age and his father.  They were doing similar run/walk intervals and we chatted a bit.  There was one woman I'd been about 50 yards behind for the whole race and I decided to focus on keeping her in my sights and closing the gap.

After a disheartening pass within sight of the finish, I finished out the final mile and crossed the finish line.  Despite the large inside gym at the facility that was hosting the race (and where packet pickup had been the day before, so they had already set it up to deal with water being tracked in), all of the racers, volunteers and spectators were kept outside.  Poor Josh had stood around, outside, in the cold and rain waiting for me all that time and never mentioned it in his texts to me.  Big Race Fail #2: Despite the weather and lack of any real shelter, there were no space blankets.  Since this was a point to point race, everyone had to wait for shuttles back to their cars, there was no leaving right away if you wanted to.  We were allowed to have drop bags, which we had put dry clothes in, but there was no where to change.

Given the high quality of races this group usually puts on, the food and space blanket oversights seem odd and I'm not quite sure why they didn't see a problem with those two things.  I learned a valuable lesson...never completely trust race directors and always plan to take care of yourself.  Next time I have a race in similar conditions, I will pack my own space blanket in my drop bag, and I will always make sure I have solid calories with me.

At the end of the day, my overall time was 2:56:06, that's 01:56 slower than the last half marathon.  I felt MUCH better after this one though, aside from feeling frozen to the core.  I took care of the IT band issue in the moment and it didn't bother me the next day.  My legs only had minor soreness.  I took a nap that day to head off the fatigue and I recovered well without setting off an RA flare.  All in all, a success that has me planning more half-marathons and thinking maybe a better try at a full is in my future sometime.

No free photos for this race and not many spectators came out in the weather, so I don't have race pictures to share.  But I do have the race medal and finisher's mug (it was an Oktoberfest theme)!


Saturday, November 14, 2015

Five Years Old!

Secora turned FIVE a couple days ago!  This is, of course, a very big deal since when you're five years old, you're "a whole hand".  Being a whole hand is apparently super important because I've been hearing about it for the last year.

On her actual birthday, Josh actually had to go to conference out of town, so we didn't do a whole lot.  We had donuts for breakfast and got her cake and she got a couple of presents from her sisters.

Choosing this cake was a huge ordeal.  She wanted a cookie cake, but could not decide what design to get.  She finally decided the most important parts were that it have a present on it and an orange border, so we came up with this:
  The big present she got on her birthday was a "number five pillow" Sedona made for her.  She was so proud of coming up with the idea and making it and Secora was thrilled to get it:
 The next day, Josh took some time off work and we all went ice skating. She was adamant for months that she wanted to ice skate for her birthday.  We were skeptical because she's been to the ice rink numerous times and never been willing to even put on skates. She did it though!  It was a bit of shaky start, but she got more comfortable as time went on and by the end she was skating between Josh and I holding our hands.
 Of course, the big girls love any opportunity to go skating
 Back at home, she opened all her presents....including feeding a cricket to her new venus fly trap

The highlight of the day was a remote control hexbug.  She's been asking for "the spider with a controller" every single time we set foot in Target for a long while.  It about killed me to spend $27 on the thing, but she was absolutely thrilled and has been playing with it ever since she opened it.
After presents and some dinner (she INSISTED on crepes...even with the entire family trying to talk her into going out), we went to see the new Peanuts movie (which was really cute, definitely recommend it) and then it was time to fall into bed!

Last, but not least for the birthday post pictures...the walk down memory lane!

She is doing so well this year.  Her eating is still very picky, but is improving by leaps and bounds.  She's much more tolerant of experiences she couldn't handle last year (like the movie--she couldn't tolerate the noise in a movie theater until recently).  She loves to write and draw and desperately wants to learn to read.  While her interest is mostly in reading/letters, she's a bit better at math and is doing fine working through the Kindergarten math book this year.  She's made friends with the neighborhood kids and is at ease playing with them now.  She still takes a 2-3 hour nap most days.  She does fine when she misses it every once in a while, but she seems to need that time to recharge most of the time.  She's learned to ride a bike and is more comfortable being in a swimming pool now.  She's excited to earn her second race medal in a couple of weeks (by doing a 1 mile run).  She seems to have developed a sense of empathy and talks about other people's feelings on a regular basis and apologizes without prompting when she makes a mistake.  The fearsome fours were still fearsome, but I think maybe easier than they were with the other girls.  That probably has a lot to do with the perspective 11 years of parenting experience gives you though.  Time to forge ahead to the fantastic fives!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Halloween Fun

Halloween has come and gone for another year!  Everyone still prefers painting to scooping pumpkin guts, so we once again painted pumpkins:

Sierra was very insistent that the picture show that her pumpkin has an ax in its eye
Secora did surprisingly well following a stencil
Apparently, Halloween pancakes are a tradition now because they started asking me for them the day before Halloween.  I did my best to make them each a pancake for their costume, but Katniss and Olaf were a little tricky


As we were walking out the door, I raided the dress up bin for a tutu and some wings, cause why not?
And we eventually made it out the door with our own Olaf, Katniss and kitty cat
I tracked our trick or treating on my garmin, because I was curious.  They covered 2 miles and came up with a lot more candy than last year.  Secora was a little less anonymous than she likes to be, there were a lot of "Awww! There's Olaf!!" comments everywhere she went.  And Sierra was a little irritated that a lot of people didn't recognize her as Katniss.  But at the end of the day, candy is candy and they got significantly more this year, so they were happy.



Sunday, October 25, 2015

Girl Scout Opportunities

When I was a kid, girl scouts (or at least the troop I was in) was kind of a drag.  We had a few fun trips and sleepovers, but mostly we sat around inside doing crafts and homemaking skills.  So I was pretty skeptical when a friend invited us to help start a troop when Sedona was in Kindergarten.  We're now on our fourth year with that troop and Girl Scouts can be so much more than what I experienced!  The girls have been learning valuable skills all along--everything from outdoor skills to financial literacy to coding and online collaboration to the importance of service.  They are excited about everything Girl Scouts offers them as they get older and Sierra already has her sights set on earning her Gold Award when she's in high school.

They've had some particularly fun opportunities this semester.  A little while ago, the CEO of Girl Scouts USA, Anna Maria Chávez, came to visit our council and the girls were able to meet her.  They might as well have been meeting the president, they were so excited.

After a brief reception where they got to check out some new programs in the area, the guests of honor arrived.  They talked with the CEO of our council, Lynelle McKay first.  They had met her a couple of years ago and I'm not sure if she really remembered them or faked it well, but they chatted for a bit about that other event they first met at and what the girls have been up to since then:
Then it was time for the main presentation.  Secora and I stood in the back since it was a full house:
Anna Maria Chávez gave a brief talk where she told everyone a little bit about her history and how she got her nickname (Eagle 1) and explained what a CEO is.
The girls ended up sitting in the front row and Sedona, being a brownie (the most common age of girl scouts), was directly addressed or asked questions several times during the talk.  It all started with, "tell me Sedona, who is your principal at school?" "I'm homeschooled."  "I KNEW you were gonna say that".  There were several instances though where she would say something about brownies and add in something along the lines of, "Just like you, Sedona."   During the Q&A at the end, Sierra was able to ask a question too ("Have you ever met the president?" The answer is yes...several of them).

Afterwards, there was time for short meet and greets.  She (and each council CEO) has a patch any girls who meet her get, so the girls were very excited to talk to her personally and get her patch.
I was very impressed because I was standing off to the side and overheard one of her "handlers" (local Girl Scout people, nothing fancy) telling someone else, "I know she's scheduled to leave now, but she says she wants to talk to the girls, she doesn't want to go yet."
The girls were very excited and star-struck.  A few days later, Sedona brought me an envelope and asked me to mail it to Anna Maria Chávez.  Well, I just couldn't do that without seeing what was inside, so I opened it up and found this letter:
There are a few things about this.  First, writing in general is quite difficult for Sedona.  It took A LOT of effort for her to write this as neatly as she did and to get the spelling right and she did it without any help from an adult.  Second, she also included $1 of her own money.  Anna Maria Chávez told a short anecdote (it wasn't even a main part of her talk, more of an "in passing" thing) about how there are no pictures of her as a kid in a Girl Scout uniform because her family couldn't afford one and so now she'll sometimes use her own money to get girls uniforms if she meets some who don't have one.  There were so many other things talked about, but that little part is what stuck with Sedona and she wanted to help.  Because she's awesome like that.

In other activities, the older girls in our troop had a chance to go work at a local Dairy Queen one night.  Sierra absolutely loved this activity.  Dairy Queen had planned it well and each girl was paired up with a different employee, then they rotated around the restaurant periodically.  Sierra got to work the drive thru:
And prepare ice cream orders:
And work the cash register/take orders.


In regular meetings, the older girls have been working on their first Cadette Journey, exploring media and learning about ways media is helpful and harmful and brainstorming ways to improve media.  For this particular activity, they had a minute to rip out all the misleading beauty ads in a maganize, then they ripped them up and made art of out them


I usually work with the older girls, so I don't spend a whole lot of time with Sedona at meetings, but she spent a recent Sunday afternoon working with the local DAR to clean up a local park



There are plenty more fun activities coming up before the end of the year.  An overnight at an aquarium, and Sierra is starting to think about what she wants to do for her Silver Award project.  She seems to be showing the most interest in something to help people with special needs, but she hasn't zeroed in on a specific idea yet.

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