Sunday, December 16, 2012

deep breaths and heavy heart

I've struggled with whether or not to blog, because what can I say about Friday's tragedy that hasn't been said already? But writing it out can be healing, I hope, and we need to heal.

I am taking this one doubly hard, as a teacher and a mother of a soon-to-be six year old. I just simply cannot imagine the pain caused and I'm not ashamed to admit that I've lost count of how many times I've wept for the loss this weekend. I just... I can't even imagine how you move on from this, how those parents and survivors even begin to recover, ever.
I didn't find out about Sandy Hook until a few hours after it happened. I was busy teaching. I was using my computer to show a clip of a Holocaust survivor speaking about the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, so I wasn't even checking my email Friday. Then I had a parent conference, then I went to lunch. It wasn't until after lunch that I checked my email and first had any idea of what happened, as my response to intervention class filtered in. They were supposed to read Chapter 6 of Call of the Wild. They begged me, instead, to let them play Heads up, Seven up arguing that they worked hard all week. I let them. They must've been so surprised because I rarely let them win these arguments--and believe me, they try often--but I gave in so quickly. Because, well, I probably don't even have to explain why.

Next hour, I continued to teach about the uprising. It was hard. The clip I showed had a woman speaking of how they fought in the uprising because they knew they were going to die, but they wanted to die in their own terms. We talked about this and how there was a strength in her words and how kids their own age were the true heroes of the uprising because they were the ones who slipped in and out of the ghetto to get weapons from the liberation front. It was hard, really hard, to teach this subject with the news in the back of my mind. I swallowed a lot of lumps in my throat.

As soon as I got in my car, the tears came and they haven't really stopped. As a teacher, I know that school is sometimes the only safe haven some of my students have. For some of them, it may be the one hot meal they get in a day. It may be the one place where an adult looks at them kindly and cares for them. While I teach in a great community, I'm not so naive to believe that every home is perfect. And so, I try very hard to make my classroom a safe space for kids. For 8th graders, that means that I joke around with them and they give it right back. The fact that they give it right back to me? THAT is how I know that I've made a safe space. When they tell me things about their life, that's how I know I've made a safe space. When they ask about my life, that's how I know that I've made a safe space. When they linger after class and say, "Your class always goes so fast because it's fun and I do well," that's how I know I've made a safe space. When they tell me they like the stories we've read so far, that's how I know I've made a safe space. When I reteach a concept and give them an exit slip on it and one of them writes, "I get it now!" on the bottom, that's how I know I've made a safe space. And when I am reminded that NO MATTER WHAT I DO, that space can never really be safe, it gets inside my head.

We do lockdown drills. They get inside your head. The kids might giggle slightly at being crammed together, but we all know what they mean. We all know that every time we practice one, it's because it could happen. When I stand there and look at the setup in my room, I think, "Why can't I fit more kids behind my desk? I should move that file cabinet." And when there's a school shooting, we all sit around and rearrange our room mentally and think, "Where would we put them? How would I protect them?" Truthfully, I wish I could stay home tomorrow, hide under a blanket, because I know my kids will want to talk. I know they'll need reassurance that it's still a safe space... and I'm not sure that I can give that to them, but somehow, I will find a way.

Monday, December 10, 2012

From Cookies to Latkes

It's possible that our Saturday contained the best possible combination of holiday celebrating ever. First, Luke and I got to go to the Fairmont Chicago to decorate holiday cookies and learn some tips to keep holiday cookies healthier than the usual treats (one delicious recipe was for coconut wreaths with agave syrup that I'm dying to make... and eat). Although it was chilly in the city and Luke was anxious to go inside, he obliged me with a photo opp outside the hotel.
Once inside, we found out that the event was in the ballroom downstairs, which meant not one but two escalator rides. Simply put, Luke was in heaven before we even started. Escalators shouldn't be such a big deal, except that we never, ever go to the mall because it is impossible to go to the mall without running into my students or Shane's students... so the poor child doesn't get much of a chance to ride escalators.

His escalator excitement was soon forgotten when we got inside and he saw the cookie decorating setup. And I mean, who wouldn't be excited at this?
Fairmont's pastry chef Erin helped Luke get the hang of the frosting bags (which were filled with the most delicious buttercream that I debated the merits of putting aside polite behavior to just squeeze one directly into my mouth... polite behavior won out--just barely) and then he was off with his decorations.
In between bites of cookies and sips of hot chocolate, of course. Luke got to take home all of the cookies that he decorated and he was so excited to show them to Shane and Tommy and share his creations. I would applaud his self-control for not eating them on the way home, but he eat a pretty disturbing amount of frosting, cookie decorations and other cookies during the process! We had the absolute best time together decorating cookies. Most importantly, Luke felt so very special with his chef's hat and his own cookie decorating station. I can't wait to recreate it when we make cookies for Santa.
So, Christmas cookies in the morning... how did we spend our afternoon and evening? A few weeks ago, Julie asked Katy and me if she could come celebrate Hanukkah with us because she had no one to celebrate with this year. Not only can I not stand the thought of one of my best friends not having a home for the holidays, but I truly believe that part of making my children good citizens of the world is instilling in them the knowledge and understanding of other cultures and the awareness that there are so many other beliefs in this world. Love and compassion is so important. Also, I've heard that Hanukkah focuses on fried food, so there's that.
Julie did an excellent job explaining to Luke why Hanukkah is celebrated with oil and how the Maccabees overcame persecution.
He listened with rapt attention and I hope above all what he absorbed is that people should be allowed to believe what they want to believe, so long as they aren't hurting anyone.
Before Julie came, he asked me if he'd be allowed to light the candles. I told him that I thought he could candle this. Julie explained to him that there were eight candles, with one helper candle and that you let them burn all the way down each night.
Julie also explained to Luke the importance of having your head covered during prayers and read him the prayers in both English and Hebrew.
Julie also brought the boys a piggy bank to collect money to donate to a charity or organization of their choice. We've been talking about where we'll give the money when it's full, but they haven't decided yet. I love the idea of giving back, though!
Finally, we sat and played dreidel and allowed Julie to eat (because of course, we made her do all the cooking on her holiday, as you do). Although I had a stupendous lead and earned more than my fair share of gelt, I then started losing horribly and was the first one out. Alas, the gifts of Hanukkah were just not meant to be mine!
As I tucked Luke into bed (after a slight overtired meltdown), he gave me a huge hug and kiss and told me he had the very best day ever. I'm pretty sure he meant it.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

From Half Training to Half Running

I haven't talked much about running since my half marathon. I thought that I would segue right from that into a speed 5k program and work on some more 5k PRs or even a 10k PR, since I technically got a 10k PR during my half marathon.

However, the wind during the half did some lasting damage on my feet. As I was running, I was completely cognizant that my gait was off, way off. I knew that I was hitting my feet funny as I was hunching my body into the wind, but there was really no way to correct it. I am normally a heel striker, but due to the wind, I was running like I would run up hills, which meant that I was hitting with my forefoot. Toward the end of the race, I could feel the strain on my feet. 13 miles was nothing. I ran 13 miles or more four times through the course of my training plan, so it was just another long run at that point. My legs weren't sore at all, but my feet were screaming. At lunch afterward, the bottom of my feet felt scalded, like when you step on hot sand. I remember slipping off my feet and placing them on the cool restaurant floor. It was like instant relief.

This kind of pain is common for me after hill repeats where forefoot striking happens. I can usually ice it and be back on my feet in a day. However, hill repeats are usually only 2 miles. This was obviously a much longer run. I expect that my feet were hitting harder due to the wind. Ice didn't work this time. Neither did moleskin. I really didn't let on how bad my feet were for a while, but they were pretty bad. It doesn't help that I have a job where I can't sit down, so my feet didn't really have a chance to recover. They'd start to feel better on the weekends, then I'd be back at work and on my feet all day and they'd HURT. I'd step down and wince because I'd get a stabbing pain in the ball of my foot. I was walking on the side of my foot to alleviate pain. I was hobbling around the house. In short, it was pretty ridiculous.

I limited my running. Although I was still running some, I've been running no more than 8-10 miles a week, which is pretty maddening. Truthfully, running didn't hurt because again, when I run normally, I heel strike. No weight comes down on where it hurts. It's just that as soon as I would stop running and start walking, the pain would return. I feel like I'm losing/have lost a lot of the fitness I accrued during the half marathon training. Yes, this makes me crazy. No, I don't regret holding back because my feet were a mess. Slowly, they started to get better, to the point where I could walk normally, but they're still sore. I finally admitted that three weeks after the half, they shouldn't STILL be sore. So I did a google search and found a podiatrist who seemed very runner friendly.

My appointment was yesterday. My mantra the whole time was "please no fracture." Early on in the worst of the pain, I was pretty sure I'd fractured it. Or possibly smashed every bone in my foot because it hurt SO much. This is partly why I've been stubborn about going to see a doctor--which is unlike me, because I'm the first to see a doctor when I'm sick. The first thing the doctor commented on was my high arches (actually, the real first thing he commented on was how super healthy I am--favorite!). This made me laugh because people always comment on how high my arches are. I didn't tell him that I really love flip flops and they probably do not provide arch support. However, he explained that with high arches, I get even more pressure on the ball of my foot while running, so that was interesting. After looking at my feet, he noted that the area over the sesamoid bones is definitely inflamed. Score one for Dr. Google because a diagram of the feet led me to figure out that this was the area causing me pain. He said that he didn't think it was a fracture, but he wanted to do x-rays to rule it out entirely. I got x-rays done and continued my game of "please no fracture." He came back in after the x-rays developed and said my feet looked good, except for a slightly suspicious shadow on my right foot. He said that a stress fracture would've developed by now, so it isn't a concern. He also said that because it takes three weeks for a stress fracture to develop, it was good that I waited to come in. My stubbornness wins!

In the end, he prescribed anti-inflammatories, a cream, and epsom salt soaks twice a day, plus he wants to see me back next week to see how my feet are doing. He said if I'm still having pain, we'll talk about fitting me for orthotics to deal with my high arches. The best part? He said I can resume running normally. Music to my ears. It feels great having answers and also seeing a doctor who was runner friendly. He said several times that he thinks it's great how healthy I am and how I tackle longer distances. He never said, "You're here because you ran and hurt yourself. Don't you think it's maybe not a good idea to jump back into that?" I loved that he understood why I wanted to get running again as soon as possible. Mostly, I'm glad that I have answers. The final diagnosis was that I bruised my sesamoid bones and also that the wind is a big, stupid jerk.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Odd Life of Timothy Green {Giveaway}

**Giveaway closed! Congrats to Thea**

Given that I have two young kids, I don't get the chance to see many kid movies that aren't cartoons. So when I was given the chance to review The Odd Life of Timothy Green, I jumped at it. A kid movie that isn't a cartoon? Sign me up!

To be honest, I wasn't quite sure if the boys would be into it because as I said, they're still in the cartoon watching stage. To my surprise, they both loved it and have watched it three times since we received it. This is big for Tommy who struggles to sit through feature length cartoons, let alone movies that have actual humans in them.

And as for me? Well, I cried. I could relate to so many of the parenting struggles in the movie, the wondering if you're doing it right and questioning yourself constrantly. I loved the magical theme and the humor. Simply put, I loved this movie--and if you haven't seen it, I believe you will, too. It also opened up some good discussions with my five year old on these struggles and the way we sometimes don't always do our best, but we try so very hard.

Want a chance to enjoy this movie, too? The Odd Life of Timothy Green releases tomorrow, but I have a copy of the two-disc combo pack for one lucky winner (*cannot ship to PO boxes and will need a phone number to ship to Canadian readers). To enter, simply leave a comment telling me why you would like to win this DVD. Good luck! Giveaway closes Wednesday, December 5th.

I was given a copy of the DVD to review, but opinions are all my own.

A Date Weekend

Life has been very busy lately. I haven't been able to run as much due to some random, stupid foot injury that I'm going to get checked out this week (please let it be minor and quickly healed), so I've had more free time on the weekends, which is nice. It is also maddening because the weather has been unseasonably warm and it's killing me to not be out running in it, but I'm trying to enjoy the thrill of easing into the day and not jumping out of bed to hit the pavement. It's kind of working.

Saturday, Shane had to help move his grandpa from assisted living to a nursing home and Luke had plans with my parents, so Tommy and I had the whole day to ourselves. The day started off a little suspicious when Tommy accidentally dumped an entire cup of orange juice on his head, but after weeping pulpy tears, I got him in the tub and calmed him down and we were off to Target.

We don't go to Target often because I like to not spend all of my money all of the time, but when we do, we have to look at the bikes and the vacuum cleaners. It's Tommy's routine. He likes to point out which vacuum cleaners people own. He also likes to discuss the steam mops. Our real purpose in heading to Target was to let him pick out his own underwear because I am very desperate and would like him to finally potty train. He chose Spiderman underwear. I hope this works. Of course because it's Target, I also bought 1231231209 things I didn't need, like an advent calendar, some Archer Farms frozen ravioli that sounded good, various types of cheeses (obviously I was shopping while hungry) and two giant things of International Delight Peppermint Mocha creamer (okay, I needed the creamer).

After Target, we were going to get frozen yogurt, but the frozen yogurt place wasn't open yet so we ended up going to Steak n Shake. I asked Tommy if he wanted a milkshake. Then I asked him if he'd ever had a milkshake, to which he said no. I can't believe a child of mine made it three and a half without ever having a milkshake. I'm such a failure of a parent!
He was a little disgruntled that he had to wait for his milkshake, but once it arrived, he decided it was clearly worth that wait.

We had a great time, even though it took him 1200 years to finish his chicken fingers. I think we were the slowest eaters in Steak n Shake. We had a great time. Then we headed to the post office to buy stamps for our Christmas cards. Tommy got to do the honors of dropping the Christmas cards into the big mailbox, which is one of our favorite things to do.

Tommy isn't really quite big enough for us to go to the movies. Well, we could take Luke to the movies at his age, but he can't sit still a movie in our house yet, so I'm not even trying that one. So when we do one on one time, it's simple things like running errands and going to lunch, just spending time together. It's precious and fun and I'm so glad for this time.

Sunday morning, it was kind of rainy, which ruined our plans to go to the arboretum. Instead, I asked Luke if he wanted to go see Wreck it Ralph, which I've wanted to see since I saw the preview this summer. We headed off to the movies, where we discovered that Sunday morning was not a busy time, as there were only about twelve people in the theatre. Luke wanted to sit in the very last row, so we did. Even though it was an early show, we still had to have popcorn and icees!
We both loved the movie! It was really cute and funny, as well as incredibly original. I love video games, too, so I liked that whole aspect. Luke said he really liked it, too, but that some of the jokes were "inappropriate potty humor." You can tell what we correct on in our house!
Afterward, I asked Luke if he wanted lunch, but he told me he was too full from the popcorn. Somehow he had room for ice cream because, you know, that's a different stomach and all.

While we were gone, Shane and Tommy took advantage of the nicer weather and hung up all the Christmas lights, so it was a good day all around. It's not every weekend that I get two shots at one-on-one time with my boys, so I'm going to count this one as a huge win.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Epilepsy Awareness Month

This post has been sitting in my drafts all month. Call it writer's block, call it heart block. I'm not sure why. I wanted to write this post, I really did. I wanted to write it in November because November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month. I've written about epilepsy before. Two years ago in November when Tommy was recently diagnosed. More recently in April when we were fundraising for Tommy's Team and so many of you graciously gave to us.

I wanted to write again, though, because this cause is important to us, because so many people do still reach out to me with questions about epilepsy and seizures and about area doctors. Instead I stared at this draft for a month and here it is, the last day of November and I don't know what to say.

I want to tell you that if you've come here because your child has seizures or because your child was just diagnosed with epilepsy, stay strong. There is hope. If you've had to see your child go through tests, it's painful. It's unfair. You wish you could take the tests for them, as you pray that the results are normal. Or that if they're abnormal, they at least give you answers. What a strange thing to pray for.

This may sometimes be the face of epilepsy, as the parents of epileptics see it.

Brave. Making a tough guy face at the camera, with a head full of electrodes and bandages. You feel like he is braver than you because you couldn't imagine being so brave at three, let alone now.

This is also the face of epilepsy. A healthy, sweet boy. Introspective. Not smiling for the camera because he was D-O-N-E with the photo session at that point, but still letting his mama hold him close.

He hasn't had a seizure for over a year now. I didn't think I'd ever be able to say that. I'm so happy, but I'm also so scared. I'm scared because he lived 15 months of his life without ever having a seizure and then one day, he just had one. Just like that. This is what epilepsy is. I know this. And so, I move forward with the realization that he could have one tomorrow. With each day that passes, I sometimes forget. I forget that he has epilepsy and then, I remember. When he's quiet in the next room a little too long. When he moves in a strange way. When he trips over nothing. Then my breath catches and I wonder if that's the moment that my heart is going to shatter.

Please don't get me wrong. I'm hopeful, I am. I am so hopeful. He's never had any abnormal test results. We have no indications that he won't outgrow this. I've just learned to be distrustful of this disease and it's hard to shake that, but I still carry this hope with me, in a tiny little corner of my heart.

I guess I didn't really teach you anything about epilepsy, except this: my little boy is so brave. Whether he has more seizures or never has another again, I will always treasure his bravery through this journey. I never imagined this as a parent. I never could've imagined this as a parent. It's not something that you sign up for or something that you ever worry about when you're pregnant or when you're holding your new baby in your arms, and trust me, I had plenty of worries, but here I am. Here we are. What I know is this... whatever happens, epilepsy hasn't beaten us yet--and it never will.

2nd photo credit goes to Donya

Friday, November 23, 2012

Valparaiso Turkey Trot 2012

This race report could alternately be titled: reasons why I won't be running this one again. The size, the traffic, and oh yeah, the 3.25 mile 5k.

I ran this race last year. While it was big at 2000 participants, it was manageable. Since last year, it's grown by a thousand people. This increased the people on the route, the people trying to park. It was a nightmare. I waited for 20 minutes to get into the parking lot, though I had a feeling that it might be crazy and left myself plenty of time to park. Unfortunately, I ended up in a back overflow parking lot, which would prove to be a pain when I was leaving.

Still, I parked and headed inside, where I spotted a coworker. We headed outside the 5k corral and tried to get a little closer to the front, but we still ended up behind a lot of walkers. I love walkers at 5ks. I think they should be at 5ks. 5ks should be a family event, especially a 5k on Thanksgiving. But when I'm trying to start out at a 9 minute mile, there's nothing more awful than trying to dodge a line of walkers ten across. Still, I'm not faulting the walkers because there was absolutely no instructions given to walkers to line up near the back of the race corral. This would be the fault of the race organizer and that is frustrating. The race started in a parking lot and took us over a speed bump, which was a fun obstacle along with dodging people left and right. Still, I managed to get around as many people and kids as I could to get out onto the road where it opened up a bit. Because this was an out and back course, they had cones set up in the middle of the road and were shouting at everyone to stay to the right (the road was closed, so I guess they were thinking the fastest 5k runners would be making their way back soon?). With a couple of thousand 5k participants, the bottleneck created by this was ridiculous. Myself and one other guy who seemed intent on moving and really getting around people attempted to stay to the center. This was working until a small child abruptly stopped in front of me and I dodged left to avoid her, not seeing an orange cone directly in front of me. Luckily I spotted and somehow managed to function well enough to leap over the orange cone, but imagine if I'd tripped? At this point, I was frustrated. After the first turn, the course started to thin out a little bit, especially when people dropped off at the water stop. Despite the cones and the crowds, I still finished the first mile in 9:04.

After mile 1, I pushed myself faster. I knew I could do it. Although I've never actually raced a 5k before, I felt like I was racing this one. I was passing more people than getting passed. I had my head down and was focusing just on running and breathing and although I wanted to slow down, I looked at my watch at 1.6 and reminded myself that I was halfway done. My Garmin beeped at the exact moment that the guy was yelling out mile 2 splits. I ran mile 2 in 8:41. I really wanted to slow down, but I knew I only had a mile left. There was a hill where people started to slow down or even walk, but I kept pushing past them. Toward the end, there was a girl who I was racing and I'm pretty sure she was racing me. As I really started to hurt and rounded the last corner, I heard a coworker yell my name and cheer me on... that was a huge boost! I wasn't expecting to see anyone I knew on the course, but she was there for her husband (who came in 5th in the 5k, finishing in 17 minutes--ridiculous!) and was back on the course. I knew that I was on the last straightaway and it registered slightly in my brain that it seemed like the finish line was longer away, but I also thought it was my brain playing that, "You will never get there" trick on me. I glanced at my watch and saw that I was still maintaining my pace and would finish in the high 26s or low 27s, which would be an awesome PR. I pushed through, still racing the same girl. My watch beeped mile 3 in 8:44. The finish line was still around the corner. Through the haze of burning lungs, I knew this wasn't right but still kept pushing. I watched the numbers I thought I would have fly by and finally crossed the finish line at 28:39 (I didn't stop my watch immediately because I never want finish line photos of me pressing buttons on my watch--what I'm vain?). What?! That's my 5k time when I run consistent, comfortable laps around my neighborhood, not when I push myself to the point of a stitch in my side, feeling like I'm going to puke as I cross the finish line. Then I looked at the distance and not the time on my watch and saw this.
I was disappointed, confused, but still hopeful that I'd misread it or screwed something up, until I ran into coworkers afterward who immediately commented that their phones measured the course long and they were frustrated because they'd trained for a 24 minute PR but missed it by 2 minutes due to the added length. Or rather, they'd actually gotten their PR, yet it wouldn't be registered because of the extra length.

I texted Sarah who ran the 10k, but her son ran the 5k. She said they were trying to figure out his time because it was a time he could run any day without really trying, until they got home and he registered the distance with Map My Run... and came out with 3.3 miles. I was still holding out hope until the official results were posted, but they have me finishing in 28:36 with an average page of 9:15. I know Garmin and official times can be off slightly, but not like this. There is no way they are that off. First of all, every single mile I ran was less than 9:15. I can tell you that simply based on how I felt, Garmin data notwithstanding. I ran this race HARD, harder than I've ever run a 5k. An average pace of 9:15 is what I can run while doing laps around my neighborhood in the morning. Officially, those results still show a PR of over a minute, but I'm pretty sure I hit 3.1 somewhere around 27:20, which means that I really PRd by over 2 minutes and do you know how much I'd love to have THOSE results showing right now? The results of the actual race that I ran? The good news, I guess, is that my ranking in my age group is 17/184, which is pretty high up. But still! I want my sub-9 minute average pace listed because I worked HARD for that pace.

Leaving the parking lot was a nightmare. I sat for, literally, 45 minutes in the back parking lot where there was an absolute gridlock. I'm not sure if the person at the front of the line wouldn't shove their way out or if cars just wouldn't let them out, but I didn't move. I watched the rest of the lot empty out while we could not move. Other cars left from the big lot while we SAT there. By the time we finally got out, the big lot was mostly empty. 45 minutes. Do you know how absurd that was? Why wasn't someone helping the flow of traffic? By the time I got home, I had 15 minutes to shower and change before heading to Thanksgiving dinner.

What I would like to do is find a 5k soon and get my official results (although of course, I'm nervous that this was a one off where there was good, mild weather and no wind and I'll be robbed of it), but all I can find are untimed Santa fun runs. I'm trying to be happy with the fact that yes, it's a still a PR, but it's not the correct result and it's not my actual time and it's hard to be happy with not getting credit for what you did.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The [surprising] 2013 Chevy Malibu

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a contact at GM inviting my family to be a part of the Magnificient Mile lights festival. Chevrolet is the official vehicle of the Lights fest, meaning that all the parade floats and people in the parade are carried by Chevy vehicles. Pretty cool! Unfortunately, because this weekend was my dad's 70th birthday, we weren't able to stick around to be a part of the parade (please invite us back next year!), but we were happy to attend a breakfast with Disney characters... more on that soon. We were also generously offered the chance to try out another car this week, as I'm still driving my Focus for another month or so (one more payment!).

When I received the email that we would be provided with a 2013 Chevy Malibu, I will admit that I didn't know what to expect. I haven't had a lot of experience with the Malibu and my thoughts were that this was what you got when you went to a car rental place and asked for a mid size sedan.
Imagine my surprise, then, when this pulled into my driveway last Monday.

All of my notions about the Malibu were completely wrong. Yes, it is definitely a mid sized sedan, but while it is functional, it is also fun--just look at the exterior--I would be happy driving something that gorgeous around every day! It's functional in that this is the type of car that I could see being a perfect fit as a secondary vehicle for a family of four (or primary, even) because the interior is spacious. And the trunk? The trunk space made me swoon. Among many other annoying qualities, my Focus lacks trunk space. Traveling with it means that we end up packing items around the boys' feet, so when I opened up the trunk of the Malibu and saw all this space, I knew that if we were in the market for a four door, this was absolutely the type of vehicle I'd choose.
Do you see how there is space and then more space? Space for suitcases, space for toys, blankets, pillows. The little extra cubby of space made me so happy. This is where the functionality comes in because I feel like you could easily fit in everything with a long trip, without having to use the interior of the car for storage.
It also has a five star NHTSA safety rating. Not only does it have the space to travel with your family, but it will get you to your destination safely.
In terms of interior space, the back seat is pretty roomy, too. Luke and Tommy are still in the large Britax five point harness seats which take up a great deal of space (and which were easy to install, thanks to the Malibu having the latch system), but there was enough space in between where they weren't right on top of each other and where a smaller person could ride if we needed to put another person in the back seat. It wouldn't be a comfortable ride, but it would definitely work.

The interior of the car is gorgeous, too. The LTZ had a really sharp interior that again, this was not the mid size sedan that I was imagining.
Isn't that gorgeous? The 2013 Malibu can also come with The Chevrolet MyLink option, which allows you to integrate your car with your smart phone. As an iPhone junky, I love the thought of being able to control my car from my phone.

The best testimony to the Malibu came from my dad. For the last few years, my dad has been a fan of VWs; however, he was disappointed by some of the changes they made in the 2012 model. He felt that they cut down in the roominess and took some of the sharpness out of the interior. After checking out the Malibu, he said that he was going to have to think long and hard about remaining with VW when it comes to his next trade-in because he felt like Chevy picked up where VW disappointed him.

Although we're currently in the market for something bigger, I know that down the road, we will be looking for a smaller secondary car. At this point, I know that the Chevy Malibu will be the first place we look!

And if you ask the boys where was the best place the Malibu took us last week? They'll tell you it was to downtown Chicago where we got to breakfast with these guys.
My boys were in heaven. Tommy was a little scared when he got close to the characters, but he was excited from far away. Luke, on the other hand, had a big grin the entire time. The breakfast was delicious, too! We felt spoiled and loved having a chance to drive the Malibu into the city (it got great highway gas mileage--in the 30s) to such an amazing event.

Although we were provided with the car loan and invited to breakfast with Disney characters, all opinions are my own.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Valpo 13.1 Half Marathon

12 weeks ago, I started the hardest training plan I've ever followed: the Own It plan from Train Like a Mother. This training plan has led me through two 13 mile runs, one 14 mile run and one 15 mile run. It made me more than ready to tackle a half marathon because it took the element of fear out of the half marathon distance because by race day, I'd already ran it four times. Unlike my last half marathon, I wasn't stressed at all about the distance.

What this run couldn't do, however, was control the weather. While we had warmer than usual weather for November, we had wind. Lots of it. The wind was blowing steady at 25-30mph with gusts up to 50mph. In a race through a town or a forested area, this might not have mattered, but this race was run on country roads. Now, I love country roads. They're peaceful. I grew up in the country. I love open fields and farms and gently rolling hills, but in the right (or in the case of a half marathon, WRONG) conditions, those open fields create wind tunnels. And they did just that. I knew I was in trouble at mile two when a wind gust pushed me off the side of the road.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Despite the weather, let me tell you all the good things about yesterday. First, this was a local race. I am starting to really love local races. They're typically smaller and cheaper. They have more of a community feel to them. I don't have to get up super early to get there on time or pay for parking. Also, for the first time ever, I got to have people there to cheer me on! For the most part, I tend to run races by myself so I'm used to waiting at the start line and before the race by myself while others stand around in groups. This can lead to a lot of panic and stress inside my head. Plus, it's just boring. And I won't lie... the days leading into this race were stressful, leaving me to feel like I didn't even want to do it. This was not one where I needed to be inside my head before the race. So, let me tell you that it was a huge relief to see my parents walking across the parking lot as I was waiting in line for the porta potties yesterday morning. They huddled in the shelter of a building with me while I did active stretches and we tried to stay out of the wind. Note how crazy my hair is in this shot and I said we were trying to stay OUT of the wind. It was so windy that the wind actually blew the inflatable start line away, which I've never seen happen at a race.
The start of the race was delayed by about ten minutes because the line for portapotties was so long, which was annoying. They definitely didn't have enough--which is my only complaint about the race organization! We started with a very moving speech about Veteran's Day by a veteran. Although the race was sponsored by United Way and just happened to fall on Veteran's Day, I like that they still recognized Veteran's Day. It was a good reminder of running because there are those who are unable to run.

I started out with my goal race pace, which was 9:30 and felt good. The first mile was a loop around from the starting line. Although Shane and the boys got there right as the race started, I didn't see them, so as I came around to mile 1, I got to wave at them. That was really neat. After that loop, we headed out into the country roads. Things started to get rough with the wind at mile 2. I don't usually get stitches in my side when I run, however, struggling into the wind left me with a huge stitch. I tried to draw in air and stretch out my arm, but no matter what I did, I couldn't get rid of it. Eventually, I realized that I was just going to have to run through it. At mile 4, we turned so the wind was at our backs for awhile. This was a huge relief. You could see everyone's spirits pick up and we all fell into a faster pace with the wind pushing us. I knew that there was a spectator spot at mile 5.5, so I'd loosened my long sleeve shirt in the hopes that I could toss it off to my family and not have it flapping around my waist in the wind for the rest of the run.
I managed to complete the toss, but the boys were back playing in a stand of trees and I didn't see them. However, as I kept running, I heard Luke yell, MOMMY!! And looked behind to see him running after me. I waved and he stopped and waved, so that definitely motivated me. At mile 6.5, I decided to grab a cup of water. I wasn't thirsty, but my lips were pretty dry from the wind. I really wanted to drink and run, but a huge gust of wind ended up slamming the water into my face, so I had to slow to a walk. Unfortunately, the water ended up sloshing around in my stomach and maybe the water wasn't the best idea. After mile 7, we turned straight into the wind and this is the part of the race where it got hard.

I've run in wind before. I live in the midwest and in the fall and winter, it's windy. It's just a weather condition we deal with, but I've never run in this much wind and for this long before. There was no getting out of it. With fields on every side of us and with the corn harvested, it was wide open. The wind was slamming straight into our faces with no reprieve. At one point, I was running so hard that I had stitches in both sides and felt like I was going to throw up from the effort. I felt like I was sprinting, like I was doing speedwork. I looked at my watch... and I was running an 11 minute mile. That's it. For all the effort I was giving, that's all I was doing. To say that I felt defeated at that moment would be an understatement. And yes, I walked, because it is really, really hard to keep your motivation and energy up when you're dealing with that sort of element. I tried so hard, but all I could see in front of me was a long stretch of open road with no break from the wind in sight. I walked just long enough to get angry and then I ran until the next water stop when I needed more water for my dried lips. I didn't even try to run through it again because I knew the water would just take the cup away if I tried to run and drink. The worst part is that at this point, when we turned where the wind wasn't directly in our faces, it didn't help any because it just hit us from the sides. There was no escaping it until the very end of the race. The last five miles were probably the biggest struggle and not because I didn't train for it, but because the wind just would not let up.

At mile 12, I stopped for one last water stop, which I kind of knew was a mistake because my calves tend to knot up when I get near the end, but my throat was so dry from breating in all the dust from the fields. Of course, my calves cramped and that last little bit was torture. I had hopes of running the last mile strong, but I couldn't do it. I knew from my watch that I would PR by a lot, but I also knew that without the winds, I could've done better. Still, I plodded in as best I could. After struggling up a hill at 12.5, I saw my dad walking into the wind on the grass against the runners and I kicked it in. He said, "I can't believe this wind." I said, "You're telling me!!" He said, "Your fans are to the left just before the finish line." I knew the finish line was around the corner and I kicked it in as much as I could, which wasn't much because I hurt. My legs felt fine, but physically, my body just hurt. I felt like I'd been pummelled for the last five miles, which I kind of was.

I knew that Luke had on a bright orange stocking cap, so I searched the crowd for his orange cap. As I saw him, my eyes also scanned in a few new faces. I seriously almost stopped in my tracks (which would've been bad for the runners behind me) when I saw Katy, Anna, Shelli (and Lily) also standing with my mom, Shane, Luke and Tommy waving signs and cheering. I crossed the finish line, got my medal, then doubled back where I was hugged by the boys. Luke immediately recoiled and told me that my armpits really smelled. Ha! Tommy later told me that he was screaming as I "ran really faster at the end." I PR'd by 13 minutes over my half in April. I finished that one in 2:25 and crossed the finish line yesterday in 2:12. The best part was not the PR, though, it was the people willing to stand out there in the wind and cheer me on... just because they cared. That means more to me than any time I could ever set.

After the race, we went out to lunch where I celebrated my new PR with a much deserved drink and delicious meal with my parents and those wonderful girls that I mentioned above!
I am very, very lucky.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Disney/Pixar's Brave [Giveaway]

**Giveaway closed! Congratulations to Heather, comment #17**

I have a confession to make: as a little girl, I was never really into princesses. My favorite Disney movie? Alice in Wonderland. I just wasn't your princess loving little girl. I liked to climb trees and run through the woods. I was the type of kid who came home muddy at the end of a day and fought getting dressed up, so I didn't really understand the whole princess in a frilly dress thing. While I thought that Belle was very nice, I definitely had no interest in wearing that uncomfortable looking dress.

This makes me think that I would've loved Merida.

Merida is not the princess of my childhood and for that, I am glad. Merida is a princess who I would've loved, riding on horseback through the woods shooting with her bow and arrows. Merida is determined to carve out her own path and sets out on a chaotic adventure full of twists and turns that leave the viewer wondering if she'll find her true path in the end.

I love so much about this movie. I love that it's set in Scotland with stunning views of the Scottish highlands, along with a score that combines Gaelic melodies alongside songs by Mumford and Sons. I was a little worried that my boys (ages 3 and 5) would find some parts of this movie scary, but they were okay with being talked through it. There's also a great deal of comic relief with Merida's little brothers, all of whom reminded me of my three year old! Overall, my boys thoroughly enjoyed this movie--and I enjoyed it as an adult, which is always a bonus. I love that Merida is a strong female protagonist. I feel that it's important for little girls to follow strong female characters, but I also feel that it's important for boys to do the same. Also, as an adult woman, I could empathize a lot with Merida's relationship with her mother. I think all women have been there!

Have you seen it yet? Did you love it? Have you not seen it but want to? Brave debuts on November 13th and I have a copy of the Five-Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition for one lucky reader! The bonus features are so much fun, including one that goes through the animation used in creating the brawl in the hall--one of my favorite scenes in the movie.

To enter, all you need to do is comment and tell me if you were more of a Merida or a Belle as a child. Giveaway will run through Wednesday, November 7th. Winner will be chosen by Good luck!

Although I received a copy of Brave to review, all opinions are my own.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Knock Knock... trick or treat!

It's safe to say that this was our best Halloween yet.
This was the first year that Tommy really, really got it. Last year, he was still a YOUNG two and while he understood that he was getting candy at some houses, he was still content to hang back and was mostly still too shy to hold out his treat bag. This year? He was off and running with his brother.
At one house, he gleefully shouted KNOCK KNOCK as he ascended the steps, followed by TRICK OR TREAT. If you know Tommy, you know how shy he can be around people he doesn't know, so you'll know why we all looked at each other and burst into laughter at his excitement.

I didn't take very many photos because I was too busy watching them run from house to house and have fun. We trick-or-treated for an hour, which is probably our longest time. Tommy started to get tired toward the end and handed my dad his candy bag between houses with the warning, "But don't eat any of it, Papa."

Their excitement was probably sweeter than the Halloween candy that I stole from their pile after they went to bed.

I hope your Halloween was full of treats!

Monday, October 29, 2012


I have a love-hate relationship with fall. I think I discuss this every year, but I do. I would love this season so much more if it wasn't followed by winter. I hate winter. there is no love about winter. I hate snow. I hate cold. End of story. So, it's hard for me to really love fall because I know that winter comes next, but I still try. I like the changing leaves. I like the apple cider. I like Halloween. I like the weather in terms of running.
I don't like that I'm sitting inside my house right now and I can hear the wind screaming and I can feel how cold it is through the house. I do not like this. I should only feel cold in my house because it's July and I've turned up the air conditioning.

Still, I choose to live here, so I try to make the best of this season. We ended October with a lot of fun. Saturday morning, Luke and I were invited to a pumpkin decorating event at the Fairmont Chicago. I love carving pumpkins with the boys, but I hate the stress of knives around my kids, so this was a lot of fun for me. Although I helped Luke with a few things, it was fun to sit back and let him go wild with his pumpkin. I am ridiculously craft challenged, so the thought of giving him a box of craft supplies and a bottle of glue never occurred to me, but we'll be doing this with both boys and pumpkins next year.
We also got to sample pumpkin seeds (both savory and sweet) and pumpkin cookies prepared by the Fairmont chefs. Part of the love side of things that I have with this season is anything pumpkin flavored, so we're planning on recreating the cookies to share with our family on Halloween!
Luke left with a pumpkin carving kit, a bag full of candy and this very decorated pumpkin, which he made me carry back to the car. Of course. On the drive home, Luke said, "Mom, I had a great time at that party!"

A side note about Luke, he absolutely loves hotels. So even though we weren't staying there, all I had to do was tell him that it was in a hotel and he was already hooked. Ever since we stayed at the Swissotel this August, he's been asking if we could go back and stay overnight for his birthday in February (we usually let him choose an overnight at a water park in lieu of a big birthday party). After our short visit to the Fairmont, he's now considering this an option. Why? Because they have an escalator right off the main lobby. Something tells me this is not how most people choose hotels.

Sunday morning, we went hiking at our favorite local arboretum, which is all decorated for Halloween. The boys loved the additions to the train garden.
As well as the hay maze, which Tommy tried to cheat his way through by climbing on top of the hay bales.
And then I started whining about the cold and asked if we could please go get lunch and also, how many months until summer?!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Weeklong Test Drive [GMC Acadia]

If you read my blog about a month ago, you'll know that I was pretty angry at my Focus after it ruined a weekend trip. Since I'll have it paid off in December, our plan has always been to upgrade to a bigger vehicle. Whether or not we have a third kid (and since our second kid is steadfastly refusing to sleep or potty train, that's looking less and less likely), we definitely need something with more space than a four door car. Trying to go anywhere in my car is ridiculous because with two car seats and two kids in it, there's no space left for anything else. Not to mention that, obviously, my car is not reliable.

Shortly after blogging about my car, I contacted a [wonderful, fabulous] PR person from GM about doing a possible test drive. She wrote me back quickly and said that yes, this would be a possibility and we set up dates to test drive a 2012 GMC Acadia Denali, which is one of our two top contenders as we are looking at American crossovers. This beauty was delivered to my house last week and I fell in love...

Now, keep in mind that I drive a Ford Focus, so the difference in size is like moving from a van down by the river to a mansion; however, even without this obvious difference, the interior space was excellent for our family of four. For the first time in oh, EVER, the boys didn't fight on a car ride because they weren't sitting practically on top of each other. We were able to put their things in the third row, instead of piling them on the floor at their feet.
If we had a third child and needed to utilize the third row (which has a latch system!), there would still be plenty of space to put items, as the storage space behind the third row was ample.
We took my parents for a drive and both found the third row to be comfortable as adults, which is important to us because we would like to have the option to take others in the vehicle, too. The 2nd row captain's chairs with the third row seating made this feel we had the space of a minivan but with something sportier than a minivan.

Although I'm used to driving a smaller car, I never felt like I was driving something huge. Actually, I never felt like this handled any differently than my smaller car, which was a huge plus. I had no trouble parking or navigating turns, but I felt much safer in it and I definitely enjoyed being higher up. In fact, the Acadia has a 5 star safety rating when compared to vehicles of similar size and weight.
I also loved all of the in-car safety features, like the rear vision camera system. I live in a neighborhood with a lot of small children who don't always look before they take off in a bike or on a scooter and it's an honest fear of mine that a child will dart out behind me. Having a backup camera when I was leaving my driveway each day was great, plus it made backing up in parking lots that much easier.

What I really enjoyed about this opportunity was the ability to essentially test drive a vehicle for a week straight with the kids in it, with their carseats and everything. Both of my boys were able to climb in and out on their own, which is important and not something that we would've been able to figure out just by doing a dealership test drive. I felt like this was a kid-friendly vehicle, but with the roominess and comfort for it to be adult-friendly, as well. This is something that I could see growing with our family. It works for their carseats now, but the boys will definitely still fit in it when they're teenagers and hauling sports equipment or band instruments. I liked that I can see it growing with us, which is definitely NOT something that I can see with my Ford Focus (and not just because I frequently want to drive it off a cliff).

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, this was the fully loaded Acadia Denali with a list price of $50,000, which is out of our price range (unfortunately, because this car did make me swoon). It had all the bells and whistles, to the extent that I'm still not sure what some buttons did! As I said earlier, our plan is to start car shopping in December or January and after our week with the Acadia, we will definitely be looking at Acadias, but we will be looking at the baseline models. I definitely feel like they are the best for our family in terms of space and safety. Hopefully in a few months, I'll be updating with our new car!

Although we were provided with the Acadia to test drive for a week, all opinions provided are my own.

Monday, October 22, 2012

if and only

Hi, neglected blog. There are so many days that I want to sit down and write, but I don't have the time. I really don't. I hate it. Life is just so busy. I don't understand this season. Every weekend is packed. There are Halloween parties and birthday parties and long runs and when will life slow down? And then the week days are full of work and kids and more work.

I want to tell you how Luke is doing in Kindergarten. How full day has been more of an adjustment for him than I realized. How he's reading and sounding out words and it's really precious, but how I worry for his gentle heart sometimes.

I want to tell you how Tommy is doing without his brother by his side all the time. How sweet it is when they're reunited, but also how they fight so much sometimes that it makes me absolutely crazy.

I want to tell you what work is like, how sometimes I feel like a first year teacher all over again because I'm having to learn to restructure some things I do in the classroom with Indiana's new evaluation system. That's not a bad thing, necessarily, but it can be a stressful thing. I want to tell you how I did a discussion on The TellTale Heart and it spanned two days and my students got into a real, logical argument on whether or not the narrator was actually insane. I was so proud of them.

I want to tell you how my training plan is going. I want to tell you how I've run 13 miles twice and how I've run over 13 miles twice, how I ran 15 miles last weekend and it was HARD, but I've learned to push myself through pain and sore legs and how that is not something I could ever do before. How I have learned new limits as a runner and even if I run my next half marathon in the exact same time as my last half marathon, it'll be worth it because I feel so much more stronger.

I want to tell you how I miss my husband because all of the above takes up so much time and how I so desperately wish we had more time to just go out to dinner and reconnect. Last night we watched a TV show and he rubbed my feet while I ate ice cream. It was wonderful.

I want to expand on all of this. If only there was time, but hey look, it's 3:45 and I'm off to Luke's parent-teacher conference. I'm kind of nervous. It's scary to be on the parent side of things after so many years on the teacher side of things. I want to tell you more about that feeling... if only there was time.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Seasonal Greetings

Almost two years ago, I won a blog auction for a card creation on etsy. It was right around the holidays, but I'd already created our Christmas cards. I thought about saving it for a birthday invitation, but I decided to send out a happy New Year card instead. We got a lot of compliments on the idea and after that, I tried to send a card with pictures of the boys to greet each season. Some slipped away from me because of stress or money constraints, but I still tried my hardest. I've found that some of our older relatives who aren't online love them the most because they still get relatively up-to-date photos of the boys--and who doesn't love a surprise in your mailbox, even if you are online?

This one was one of my favorites...
(That's a picture of my computer screen--excuse the poor quality.)

Since then, I've discovered that I can make postcard size prints on my MacBook, write a cute note on the back, print and order via iTunes. It's so easy! Although I'm obviously not a photographer, I'm just a mom with a DLSR who does her best.

Another favorite was the photo I took this summer. The farmer planted wheat behind our house and I managed to catch this shot at golden hour. I was so happy with it.

This was our most recent one. I wish I would've swapped them, so Tommy's face wouldn't have been in shadows... but again, mom with a camera.

Still, despite the stress of taking the photos and the cost of printing them and postage, I love it. I love when people tell me they enjoyed it or when I walk into our sitter's house and see it on top of her entertainment center or when the boys' great-grandma calls and tells us she took it with her to the hair salon. Totally worth it. I realize this reads like I'm being sponsored by Tiny Prints or Hallmark or Snapfish, but I'm not (although if any of those places would like to sponsor my seasonal postcards, please feel free). I do these completely out of my own pocket, just because who doesn't love an extra reminder that it's a fresh new season, with new smiles and new joys?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Pretty much the only thing that went as planned this weekend was that I got my 14 mile run in. I had no time or pace goal, just that I wanted to run 14 miles—and I did.

Other than that, it was a colossal frustration of things that didn’t happen. For over a month now, we’ve been planning a really fun trip to my sister’s house. There were plans to take the kids to an amusement park. Plans for Shane and my brother-in-law to go to a baseball game Saturday afternoon. I didn’t tell Luke until Friday morning, because otherwise, he can’t handle the anticipation of something fun. When I told him, he was so filled with excitement that I was even more excited (and I was pretty excited).

The bags were packed Thursday night. Friday, I came home from my run. Threw the bags in the car. Waited for Luke to get off the bus, and then waited for Shane to come home. We all hopped in the car and set out. It’s about a 4.5 hour trip. Not too bad, but not one that we could make before bedtime.

I offered to drive the first leg of the trip. My legs were still feeling pretty good, despite running 14 miles right before we left. I had on my compression socks and was ready to go. We swung through the McDonald’s drivethru before we got on the road for an early dinner (hey, we hardly ever do fast food… and I just ran 14 miles! I needed some junky sustenance). Then

And then, we drove into rain. Not just any rain, but a torrential downpour with lightning on every side of us. I could hardly see the tail lights of the cars in front of us. We were going no faster than 50 mph and the radio kept saying, “if you’re between mile markers ___ and ___” please pull off. We were, of course we were.

Shane looked at the radar on my phone and we saw that we’d be out of it in about 45 minutes, so we just kept driving and hoping, but it was stressful. Just when you think things can’t get worse, Tommy was sobbing loudly because the storm was scaring him, and my car started to shake. The RPM surged to 5 and it was making all manner of horrible noises. I pulled off at the nearest exit, where there was nothing but a lot of fields. I couldn’t even find a place to pull off because there were so many people pulled off waiting out the storms, but I finally found a side road and parked. I turned off my car and turned it back on, only to be greeted by the glowing check engine light. I almost immediately started crying because I knew that an hour and a half into our trip, our best bet was to turn around and pray we could make it home.

Shane and I switched drivers. It was not a fun trip home. The boys were upset and antsy. I was definitely upset. My car wouldn’t go over 60 without horribly shaking. The RPM stayed at 3 and would randomly shoot way up. To say we were frustrated was an understatement. It took us around 2 hours to get home. We pulled into the driveway exhausted, but happy to not be broken down on the side of the road somewhere. In the course of the very long drive home, Shane and I realized that we need a new, reliable car. My car is only six years old, but it is not the most reliable of cars. We need something that we can trust will get us on a trip without breaking down when we’re less than halfway there, so we will definitely be spending the next couple of months car shopping.
Fortunately, the issue with my car was not a huge, costly one. It turns out that a wire beneath the battery box was corroded and came loose. In the process, all kinds of false signals went out to the engine causing it to act like the transmission was going out. I’m glad because it was a much cheaper fix than a new transmission, but the timing is SO frustrating. Why couldn’t it have done that on my way to work? Or on a random trip to the grocery store? Or when we were ten minutes from home and could’ve made arrangements to borrow a car from my parents or Shane’s? I can’t control the timing, though! So, where we are with cars is that we’re looking at a crossover. I personally would be okay with a minivan, but Shane is not sold. Right now, we’re considering a Chevy Traverse or a GMC Acadia. We will most likely buy American—and because I’m irrationally angry at my Ford Focus, we’re not really looking at Ford, though you can try to convince me otherwise. I would love to hear from people who have crossovers! Tell me what you love or don’t love. Or tell me why I should get something else, whatever. Keep in mind that we are looking for something with 3rd row seating and something that isn't too costly. Mostly, just help me find a car that won’t ruin our weekend.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Half Marathon Training Week... I have no idea

Remember how I was all, I'm going to blog about my half marathon training week by week, just like I did last time! And I totally did. That one time. Then I went back to work and I injured my back and missed one long run.

I kept thinking, I need to blog, but my time has been so limited. The important thing, though, is that I have been running. I've cut out a few short 3 mile runs here and there because let's be honest... I am swamped at work and sometimes I can only juggle so much. For awhile, I was getting up at 4:30, but that became too overwhelming and exhausting that I had to admit that I couldn't do it all. Funny concept, that.

That said, I've kept up with all of my long runs. In the past three weeks, I've progressively gone 12, 13, and 14 miles. Wow. In my last half marathon training, I topped out at 12 miles. That was the big long run that I worked up to, so it was weird to hit 12 miles so early in this plan and know that it would just go up from there. It was even weirder to run 13 miles, to basically run a half marathon knowing that my actually half marathon is still two months away. This is definitely not an easy training plan!

I've had a few people ask if I have a pace goal. The answer to that is no. I'm being realistic in that it'll be November and I honestly can't predict what the weather will do. It could be freezing rain and a screaming wind and that could hurt my overall performance. I don't want to be disappointed if I can't perform as well as I've trained. I also know that sometimes, things just happen. I would, of course, like to improve my last half time, which is why I'm following this plan (that and I apparently like to punish myself with really long runs).

I've felt myself grow stronger over the course of these long runs. What's been amazing to me is how my body holds up through them. I remember being SO sore after my half marathon. I remember going out to eat afterward and walking bow-legged to the bathroom. I didn't feel like this again, which is a blessing. I had some issues with my calves cramping horribly at mile 12 of 13 when I had to stop for a long traffic stop, so I made sure to eat more bananas the week before my 14 miler and I had no issues with cramping (I also had a slower overall pace for this run). I did run the first 6 of the 14 with Barb and I cannot stress how much this helped break up the monotony of a long run for me. Knowing that I only had to face 8 of the 14 miles alone made it that much more bearable. I don't listen to music when I run (long story short, I feel like I'm a more efficient runner without it), so having someone with me definitely helps pass the time.

Mostly, my goal is to run stronger. I felt like the last three miles of my half were such a painful ordeal. Every step killed me. My body shut down and I seriously felt like it was an eternity. Even if I don't end up improving my time, I want to feel like I finished stronger and I'm hoping that this insane plan gets me there!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Can't the weekend last forever

This weekend was one of those glorious, sunny mid-70s weekends that hover on the cusp of summer and fall.

Saturday morning I woke up early to get my long run over and done as quickly as possible. Using the term quickly loosely here, as I had to run 13 miles. The Train Like a Mother plan doesn't mess around when it comes to owning, as I basically just ran a half marathon when my half marathon is still two months away. The weather was perfect for a long run, thankfully! I finished and lazed around the house (read: grocery shopped, went to Walgreen's, and did a load of laundry) in compression socks for most of the day, then went to Dairy Queen to fill some of my calorie deficit. Sunday I woke up surprisingly mostly not sore, aside from a little bit in my legs, so we decided to take advantage of another beautiful day and headed to our favorite local arboretum.

The boys loved the chance to stretch their legs and run in the sunshine.
And splash
Of course, we always have to visit the train garden!

I'm hoping we get a lot more weekends like this before winter settles in and I look back on this post, all gloomy and sad. Sigh.