Our Daily (G)races

Training to be the best wife, mom, runner, and person I can be each and every day....

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Snow and Ice in Houston...yep!

Last Friday school was cancelled because of ice.  The ice was real unlike the last time school was cancelled three years ago.  Ice everywhere and it was kind of funny to watch the news because you would have thought the world had ended.  I guess in Houston it kind of did.  Real winter weather is so rare here.

Legit ice all over Drew's truck

A snowy/ice mix on our Sago Palm

It is rarely this cold here and look....70 by Sunday.  That is Houston weather!

Then the weekend was beautiful...60's and 70's because winter does not last long here.  I truly miss winter so I LOVE when we get doses of winter.  I miss the seasons and winter especially so I take what we are given.

Of course, thinking that school would be cancelled again four days later was a silly, but it happened.  Last night mother nature gave us another dose of winter in the form or freezing rain, sleet, and snow.  So, school was cancelled again.  No school in Houston because of winter precipitation in the same week....hilarious!  My kiddos are loving this.  I am not so sure they will love it when the days are made up in April and June.

Anyway, today it actually snowed some...very little, but some and I had to take some videos.  Before you see how my crazy kids were dressed please know that we own all kinds of winter gear and they could have been dressed appropriately. 

Taking these videos was hilarious.  Only my crazy kids would think backflips on a slippery trampoline was a good idea.  Jonah must have slipped at least five times before landing one.

It really is an "N"

Elena was so cold.  She said she did not like snow days

No worries....it is supposed to be in the 70's again by the weekend.  Like I said, winter doesn't last long here.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Flag Football and a story

Saturday began our adventure back into ball sports.  Drew and I are ball people so I find it slightly amusing that Emma and Jonah are gymnasts.  But, Samuel is a ball person too.  He has tried soccer and did not love it.  He tried t-ball and liked it some.  Now he wants to try football (oh how that makes me happy) and I think he loved it.

Samuel does love to play catch with Drew. They design plays and have their own games all the time.  He is also finally starting to watch football on tv and enjoy it.  Considering how much Drew and I love football, it is about time! 

Samuel is playing flag football for the next eight weeks.  It is 5 on 5 with the kids learning very basic football skills and rules.  Drew is the coach.

Samuel had a blast on Saturday.  He did not fuss one time which he did with soccer and t-ball all the time.  He just played, listened, learned, and had fun.

It was fun to watch unlike soccer which just looks like a total mess at age 4, 5, and 6.  T-ball was interesting enough, but this was just so much better for spectators.  Although I was proud of Samuel for participating so well, I was most proud of him for being a good teammate.

As a mom, I regularly wonder if anything that I am trying to teach my kiddos is being learned.  Saturday Samuel showed me that sometimes he listens and is learning.  One of his teammates wanted nothing to do with playing in the game.  I don't know if he did not like football, felt intimidated, or what.  This little boy just sat on the sideline crying and talking to his parents for most of the game.  Finally, he agreed to play and he went on the field.  When he took his position Samuel walked over to him, gave him a high five, and said "I like your shoes and you are doing a good job".  I was just so proud that he was being a kind and encouraging person.

Getting set for defense

Oh, and to make the day even better for Samuel...he scored a touchdown.  That really made him happy!  Me too!

Friday, January 24, 2014

My perfect marathon....it was all meant to be

It has almost been a week since the perfect marathon and I am still smiling about several times a day.  I looked at my splits quickly after the race, but my brain was too tired to really digest what I was seeing.  I finally looked at them again yesterday.  And, if I am being totally honest with myself, I kind of wish they were better.  But, overall, I am still so super happy that I ran each step and never ran a 9 minute mile or slower.  That is a first for me and I am proud of that accomplishment. 

So, to achieve my 3:49.49, which is an 8:45/mile pace, I ran the following:

Miles 1-5:  8:57, 8:45, 8:47, 8:46, 8:52
Miles 6-10:  8:41, 8:38, 8:45, 8:44, 8:43
Miles 11-15: 8:35, 8:45, 8:42, 8:49, 8:43
Miles 16-20:  8:43, 8:39, 8:37. 8:48, 8:43
Miles 21-25:  8:42, 8:42, 8:44, 8:45, 8:57
The last 1.26 miles:  8:55 and an 8:26 pace for the last 0.26 miles

I was emailed some fun facts from the race that I don't want to forget either.  7048 people ran the marathon with 37% being women and 63% being male runners.   I finished before 73% of the male runners.  I finished in 1571st place.  I was the 369th woman to finish out of 2271. I was the 89th finisher out of 426 in my age group, which is one of the most competitive age groups...sucks for me.   And, being totally amazing is that I was almost to mile 15 when the winner finished in 2:07....crazy!!!!  That is nutty fast!

The other thing I thought about this week was the song that was playing when I turned off my music.  I listened to my music on and off during the race, but I did not really hear it much.  I have come to realize that I like the distraction of music to be available when I need it, but I pick songs that fade into the background.  None of the songs on my playlist are loud and get you moving kind of music.  It is music that keeps me calm and allows me to focus on running.  I have also come to realize that when I hear the music it is for a reason.  The lyrics at that moment are meant to encourage me.  The song playing during mile 25 was "A Thousand Years" by Christina Perri.  This song has absolutely nothing to do with running.  But, what I remember clearly hearing kept me moving forward....

"I will be brave.  I will not let anything take away what is standing in front of me.  Every breath , every hour has come to this.  One step closer."

Yep...all my training, the early hours, the pain, the icing, the frustration....it was all so close to being realized.  I don't organize my playlists to play a certain song at a particular time.  I believe the right one will play when I need it.  Well, my belief held true on Sunday!

This was a confidence boosting marathon without a doubt.  I really think I can lower my time at some point in the future if I stay healthy and train smart.  Now, I just have to get my hip on board with this plan.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Park Pictures of crazy cuteness

Last week the kids had off school.  Yes, the epitome of dumb since they had only been back in school for 9 days.  Whatever...it was a beautiful day so we went to the park with our friends.

Ok...so these two pictures were from the day before when Elena and I went to the park.  The weather has been exceptionally nice recently.

I will never get enough of this face!
Friday it was the tire park.....

Jonah and his "I have no idea how to smile anymore expressions" spent most of the time swinging.  I literally mean swinging from one rung to another.  He told me the monkey bars are easy...maybe for him!  He went back and forth between the three different sets for at least 30 minutes.  Crazy boy loves to be a monkey!

Samuel played with Conner...thick as thieves these two!

I had to take the picture above and below because Samuel screamed Drew, his dad, and his grandad.  Samuel is the spitting image of them and especially so standing like this.  What a dear sweet boy!

Samuel and Conner

Elena was attached to either Samuel or Carmendy or Emma...never Jonah.

Elena and Carmendy

Emma's BFF Ashlynn...aka my 5th child came with us to the park.

Friends since they were 2!!

I love taking my kiddos to the park. They can play by themselves for the most part.  I get to sit and watch them.  It is a joy to see them play, be creative, be silly, and just be kids.

the boys...Conner, Jonah, Samuel, and Zachary
Jonah, Emma, Elena, Ashlynn, and Samuel

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Chevron Houston Marathon....my memories from the course

On Sunday I ran the Chevron Houston Marathon.  While I am still processing the race and trying to get my brain around what happened, I want to share some of my experiences.  These are memories I hope to never forget.

On Saturday, two friends from church (Paula and Natalie) and my wonderful friend Kim and I headed downtown.  We stayed at The Inn at the Ballpark to avoid any race day problems and stress.  Paula and Natalie were running their first ever half marathon and Kim came because I asked her to be there to support me.  She said yes because she is awesome like that.

Me, Natalie, and Paula

Me and Kim

Our first stop after checking in was the Expo.  This is the first race expo I have attended.  I am not much for the big crowds and circus around events, but this felt important to me.  I am glad we went.  I was able to meet the wonderful Erin Henderson who blogs here.  She is very inspiring and a very talented runner.  It was a treat for me to visit with her for a little while!

Me and Erin
After dinner out and some fun girl time, it was off to bed.  We had one block to walk in the morning to get to the corrals and I knew morning would come quickly.  I have to say that I was so calm about the race that I was a little worried I was too calm.

Sunday morning came quickly and I was still very calm.  We got ready and I only got nervous at 6:25 as we were getting ready to leave the hotel.  As soon as I walked to my corral all my nervousness faded.  I was just ready.  I hardly ever remembering feeling this ready about anything...not much is for sure.  I was just ready to get running.  I knew my plan by heart....so much so that I did not even have to think about it. 

Me ready to go wearing my throw away shirt

All ready to go

I remembering thinking during the beautifully sung Star Spangled Banner that I wanted to remember as many moments as possible.  Somehow I just felt like it was going to be a good or maybe even great day for me. 

As the race started I had to control my tears.  I was overwhelmed to be starting my fourth 26.2 mile journey.   I wanted to enjoy each moment.  I was thankful for the crowds and the silly and sometimes funny signs.  Some of those were quite memorable.  I was thankful that I would not be running alone ever.  I was thankful I would see my family and Kim around mile 14.  All I had to do was run and it was easy on this day.

I remember seeing Hewbrews 12:1 on a church marquee and that made me smile. 

I remember the large American flag hanging from a ladder truck and that made me cry.  It reminds of my Pop.  No matter when or where I see a flag hanging from a ladder truck I cry.

The fla from the ladder truck courtesy of the Chronicle
I remember thinking that I was seeing parts of Houston I had never been to previously and at times I had no idea where I was.  I also did not care.  I was happily running my dream race.

After we split with the halfers, I remember thinking that the American flags and tree canopied streets in the Rice area were awesome.  It was so pretty.  I was thinking about all the wonderful texts and Facebook messages I received.  I was feeling overwhelmed with support and love and I was crying again.  Running just felt secondary to everything I was experiencing.

Before I knew it the race was half over and I started looking for my spectators.  I finally saw them around mile 16 and was so happy.  I was still feeling great.  I loved seeing their smiling faces and hearing their encouraging words.  I was also glad to know I would see them again when I was finished.  That was a good thought!

courtesy of Kim at mile 16
Around mile 19 I started thinking that I was getting tired.  My hip started hurting and it was getting warmer.  I tried to focus more on my music and just one foot in front of the other. I knew the infamous "wall" was coming and I was determined to crash through it and not into it!

The miles started to feel longer, but I was so focused.  I was finally running the race I had wanted to run over a year ago.  My splits were consistent and I knew I could have a great time if I just stayed mentally strong.  Every single mile had been under 9 minutes and for the most part well under 9 minutes.  I was not about to quit at mile 23 when I was feeling pretty done.  I just kept telling myself it is just a 5K...no biggie.

At mile 24 I was ready to be finished.  I could see downtown and felt like I was being pulled to the finish.  My legs were so tired and my brain was just as tired.  It took all my mental strength to stay focused, keep running, keep pushing, and keep my miles under 9 minutes.  It happened.  Not by much, but it happened.  Mile 24 felt like one uphill battle and that is probably because it was filled with little hills courtesy of over and under passes on the Allen Parkway.  It felt miserable, but the crowds were very encouraging. 

The mile 25 sign was a thing of beauty.  A mile to go and I knew I had this in the bag.  I had run every step and there was no stopping now.  I pushed and pushed and pushed.  But, I was so tired and hot.  I could not even look for my family and Kim.  I had my music off so I could hear the crowds, but I honestly don't think I did.  My head was filled with the thought of just keep running.  All my inspiring mantras were running through my head giving me the strength to run as hard as possible.  I ran and ran and ran until I saw the finish shoot.  I was trying so hard not to cry.  I had finally run the race I knew I was capable of running.  I had finally finished my perfect race.  I was determined to run for me and I had finally, finally, finally done it.

As soon as I crossed the finish line my legs started to give out on me.  I was offered help, but I was still stubborn enough to want to get to my family on my own.  I managed to keep it together and walk ever so slowly on my own to get my beautiful medal and bottle of water.  The tears were flowing freely because I was overwhelmed.  I just could not wrap my head around a 3:49.49....a 5 minute PR!  Words still don't convey how happy that time makes me.  I still cry thinking about running and finishing with that time.

I cried the entire eternity it took me to reunite with Drew, Kim and the kids.  I could not wait to see them and hug them.  I was ready for someone else to hold me up for a moment.  I was ready to share my moment with those who had provided the most support and love to me.

After gathering some more strength we started walking back to the hotel.  I wanted to hear about Paula and Natalie's race.  There is nothing like the first race except maybe the perfect race.  They had a great day.  All in all the day was great for all of us.

Paula and Natalie all clean and happy.  Me still sweaty, but happy!

All the words of congratulations on Facebook and texts were awesome!  I am so thankful for everyone who supported me on this journey.  It is one I will never forget.  I am so proud of myself.  I am so thankful it all came together for me on Sunday.  You never know what race day will give you, but it was a present for me and one of the best presents ever!  I even had my name in the paper on Monday.  I finished 369/2048 women.  Truly just a wonderful day for me.

I don't know how I am going to top this experience, but I plan to work really hard this year at staying healthy and getting stronger.  This is an experience I plan to relive again in May and December!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

My Running Truths....Marathon #4

I rarely write about running anymore because who really wants to read about that when I could post cute pictures of my kids.  But, today is going to be the exception.  I am running my fourth marathon on Sunday....the Chevron Houston Marathon.  I have never run a race this large (25,000 runners).  I have never run a one loop marathon course.  I am super excited about both these new things. 

It was not my plan to run this race.  I was going to run the half, which I had deferred from last year.  When I got injured in August and finally accepted that I would not be running the BCS marathon in December, I changed this race to the full.  Since that decision was made in mid September, I have been fully committed to being healthy and strong for this race.  Coming back from my hip injury was not easy and very frustrating at times.  I wish I could say that my hip is 100%, but I can't.  Does it feel a thousand times better?  Yes!  Can I run without pain?  Yes!  Does it still hurt to walk at times and to sleep on my left side?  I wish I could say yes.  I think that my hip will always hurt to some degree if I continue to run.  So, I have accepted this as my reality.

The two marathons I ran last year were huge disappointments for me....HUGE!  As much as improving my fitness this fall I probably have focused more on what makes me a mentally stronger runner.  I have learned a few things about myself as a runner that I hope will guide me on Sunday.  And, I feel very physically prepared to run this race.  I have logged many miles.  All my training runs with very few exceptions were successful.  I missed two runs including one 20 mile run because I was just exhausted.  At the time I was convinced that would doom me on race day, but I don't think that today.  It worked to my benefit.  I am ready for Sunday.

There are several running truths that I plan to think about during my race.  They are for me and my mind only...

1.  I had a fantastic training cycle....could barely have been better
2.  I have rested and am ready to run
3.  I will get tired and want to quit probably several times during the race
4.  26.2 miles is a long, long, long way to run and it will hurt...a lot
5.  I want to do this badly
6.  My mind is the only thing that can defeat me
7.  I am running for me
8.  No one else will care what my time is....I am running for me
9.  I could care less about who is running in front of me or behind me....I am running for me
10.  My plan is perfect and will work....I am running for me
11.  For once, I know I can do this and do it well....I am running for me

I know what I believe the clock can say when I cross the finish line.  I believe it will.  For the first time, I really believe I can run that time.  I plan on proving that to myself on Sunday.  I should be nervous, but I am not.  I am just ready.  I will be nervous Sunday morning, but a good kind of nervous.  Like a balloon slowing releasing air...keep running until the finish....until all the air is gone....all of it!

Marathon #4  here I come!

Monday, January 13, 2014

A surprise trip to Bowie

This past weekend the girls and I spent the weekend in DC with my sister Kelsey and her family.  It had been way, way, way too long since we had seen them and Drew really knew I missed them.  So, being awesome, he sent us away for the weekend while he took the boys on a boy scout camping trip.  It was a win-win for everyone.

We left late Thursday night so we would have all weekend to visit, play, eat, and visit some more.  We were so happy to see these people...

Kelsey's girls did not know we were coming.  Emma devised a plan to call them when we woke and tell them to look for a surprise in Leah's room.  Then Maya and Hanna were supposed to call her back.  Instead, Emma, Elena, and I were sitting on the bed waiting to video tape their reaction to us being in the room.  It was priceless!

The weather was horrible all weekend.  It was cold and rainy for most of Friday and Saturday.  Thank goodness we just wanted to be at the house.  It was finally sunny on Sunday, but the ground was so wet the girls still had to play inside.  Truly the weather was not a factor in any of our plans.  I was still able to run and all the girls did was play.  Again...perfect!

Leah and Elena are four months apart with Leah being the oldest.  They love each other dearly.  They talk on the phone and talk about each other constantly.  Elena calls Leah her best friend and I really think they are.  Watching them together warms my momma heart.  They get along so well and hardly ever fight...just normal stuff.  I know they were so sad to say good-bye.  They did, however, create a clever plan to send each other a gift.  They exchanged dollars and told us (me and Kels) they were going to buy each other a gift and mail it to the other within 15 days.  Hearing them explain this plan was awesome.  Kelsey and I were happy we learned about the plan or we might have had sad little girls in a few weeks!  I guess we will be shopping for Leah this week.  

Lots of love
Getting ready to watch a movie
The older girls dressed up Leah and Elena for a fashion show.  Leah was a bride and Elena was a princess.  Kels and I saw our 4 year olds suddenly become little teenagers.  It was a little scary. 

Leah may be older, but Elena is about 2 inches taller!
The older girls are also peas in a pod.  Emma (10) and Maya (9) are definitely closer, but Hanna (7) is part of the close knit group without a doubt.  All weekend long the played with their dolls, watched movies, painted nails, and tried to stay away from the little girls. 

My other sister Kristin and her family came down from PA on Saturday.  It was so fun to catch up with them and to play with my sweet nephew Owen.  He was just an itty bitty baby when we saw him in July.  Now Owen is full of quiet personality and is just so pleasant.  He had his own little posse all day Saturday.

Hanna, Maya, Leah, Emma, Elena, and Owen

Owen thought this wig was interesting
Kelsey, me, and Kristin

I had to run twice.  I was happy to run there, but not happy about the weather.  Cold and drizzling...yuck, but I managed.  I love running in Bowie because of the hills and the trails.  It is my second favorite place to run so to be able to run here a week before the marathon was like a breath of fresh air.  I even got to run one mile with Kelsey on Sunday morning.  She joined me for my last mile.  She will be a runner yet!

Loved running through the woods
Kels and I after our run
As a thank you to me and Kels for getting to spend the weekend together, the older girls organized a happy hour party.  It was so sweet.  They made us notes, put out lots of yummy snacks, and made us tea.  I may have added a Yeungling to the celebration.

Kelsey and I talked so much I am not sure we will have to talk on the phone this week....just kidding.  We laughed about silly childhood things and our kids.  We talked and talked and talked.  Scott is such a good guy to have spent the weekend with 7 girls, but he loves us!  June or July is really too far away!!

Going home was both good and bad....