Monday, June 30, 2014

We Swim...

Summer is here in full force! And for the Thorson family that means many hours spent with out summer swim team (either at practices or meets). This year we have 3 of the 4 kids swimming with the Ashburn Village Aqua Jets. This is Asher's 3rd year with the team and he looks forward to summer swim all year. The best friends he has made here in Virginia are through summer swim team. He thrives in this environment.

Asher with his relay team (these are his best buddies)-he swims the breast stroke leg of the relay. Since Asher is a year round swimmer with NCAP he tends to fair pretty well during the summer swim meets. Joel and I often joke that Asher swims all year to shine in the summer. His relay team won 1st place at the last meet! These boys encourage each other on to be faster and can still maintain their goofiness all summer long.

For Anna, however, summer swim tends be purely be a social sport for her. She swims her 30 second heat just so she can hang out with her friends on the hill for hours. But this year a fire has been lit inside of her and some competitiveness has come out!  She made 3 goals for herself 1) to be a heat winner, 2) to not get DQ'd in butterfly by the end of the summer, and 3) to make an "A" meet (the top 3 in each stroke at the "B" meets get selected to go to the competitive "A" meets on the weekends). She made 2 of the goals at her first meet by taking first place in the 25 breast stroke! Joel and I are floored and super excited for her. 

 This is Jesse's 1st year on the team! He is considered a "little squirt", which is the developmental team. He has come such a long way in a few weeks! He chose to swim in the first meet and did amazing! Here her is coming into the wall for back stroke (smiling the whole way at us).

And he won his heat too! He placed 6th overall and when they handed him his place ribbon he ran screaming "I got a BIG ribbon!"! In his mind, he won the whole thing and we aren't telling him any different :).

And it is not every day that you get to meet an Olympic Gold Medalist! Matt McLean won gold in the 2014 Olympics (on Michael Phelps relay team) and just happened to make an appearance at our swim meet on Saturday.

 He was super gracious letting all the kids hold and wear his gold medal. Jesse wasn't too impressed.

This guys is 6'7"! He had to bend down to be in the picture with Anna. I couldn't believe how tall he was. Thank you Matt McLean for taking some time out for our team!

And one cannot forget Josie. Poor Josie is too young to be on the team but sweet talks the coaches all during practice. Her smiles often earn her first choice of the donuts on Donut Friday! One coach said to me that she is the favorite kid on the team and isn't even on the team! 

It has been crazy for me keeping up with the swim schedule. We often go to practice, eat lunch, then head to the recreational pool. The house is a mess, we eat out a lot all of a sudden, and acknowledge that soon we will be caught in the throws of another move. So for now, we will stop and smell the roses..I mean chlorine.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Ragnar Trail Relay WV


120 miles of trail running divided between 8 team members in the Appalachians of West Virginia. Ragnar Trail Relays is a "running and camping adventure that makes testing your limits a team sport". That was what I was doing this past weekend as a member of The Honey Badgers.  We arrived  at the Ragnar Village and Campsite at Big Bear Lake Campgrounds in WV around 11am on Friday, set up our campsite, mingled with 3,000 other runners (some of which had already started their race) and prepared to for our team's start time at 3 pm. The atmosphere was electric and I felt like a giddy school girl. The race can take anywhere from 18 - 35 hours to complete depending of the speed of our team and the relay legs where divided into 3 "loops" with different distances and each providing their own difficulties and beauty. I joined our first runner for the start as we decided to buddy up on some of the legs (after we got our safety briefing in which we were informed on what to do if we encountered a bear!). At the end of each leg, we crossed a massive bridge (lit at night with tiki torches) and descended into the transition to tent, while being cheered on by those congregating at the campfire, to pass the baton (or slap bracelet in this instance). 

 Crossing the bridge to enter the transition tent

Game face on!

 Teammat Dora and I descending into the transition area

The first leg went great! 3.5 miles down, 116.5 more to go! 10 minutes into the second leg, a thunder and lightning storm descending into our midst and plagued us for hours. Already on the trail, our brave 2nd runner said she "ran for her life" only to emerge with a severely sprained ankle which benched her the rest of the relay. I am not sure how she even finished her 4.6 mile loop with its technical difficulty! She became our biggest cheerer and her spirits stayed high as we picked up her legs of the race and struggled to stop our camp from blowing away.

 Our camp pre-storm

Hanging on for dear life! As we clung to our canopy and watched one of our tents flood, we saw many other camp sites upended. One of our tarps literally almost took me away with it! 2 hours of downpour resulted in drenched bags, pillows, sleeping bags, and bodies. I did not pack right for this trip! It was at this exact moment in the picture above that I admitted out loud "OK, so I realize now that I do NOT want to be a contestant on Survivor!".  Once the rain stopped, I bought a pair of sweatpants and sweatshirt at the Salomon brand tent (a sponsor of the race) so I could survive the night of shivering. They made a killing on all their "winter" items! Regardless our team kept going!

 My teammates provided much needed moral support as we each prepared to head out in the weather, cold, night hours, and mud. (Dora at

 We tried to stay as dry as possible during our downtime and grab sleep when we could. I think I logged 3 hours of sleep time.

 Preparing for my night leg, staying warm by the fire while waiting for my teammate to descend the bridge into transition area.

Coffee and hot chocolate (and smokes) were served through the night to keep us going.

Shoes drying during the morning hours.

Fellow teammate Jess ( and I getting hyped up for our last leg!

So I had considered myself a trail running amateur, but now believe I am an expert! Anything will seem easy after these technical loops including ferns up to my waist, rocks rocks and more rocks, stream crossing, sliding down rocks on my rear end, hills, and mud up to me knees. The night running was beyond hard where you can't let your eyes leave the little circle of light that your headlamp provides. Trail running requires so much mental focus! However in the daylight hours, I allowed myself to take a few breaks to capture some photos of the breathtaking scenery. 

Due to the storm our teams as running 5 hours behind, but we did it! We finished and no medal has ever felt more deserved.
My shoes at the end.

 Team Honey Badgers!

18 miles later I am walking like an old person, have dirt caked under my nails that may take days to get out, and I would not trade any of these moments (even the lowest ones!). My teammates are now friends I will always hold dear as this was one of the most epic events of my life! Thank you Salomon for a great experience! It is true what they say in the Ragnar Trail slogan "8 friends, 3 loops, 1 billion stars, unforgettable stories!"

 Sign me up for next year!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Chasing the Kids...

Often my "running days" are hours spent chasing after my 4 little loves. While I have been catching you up my my running adventures/dreams/goals I feel I have neglected sharing the spotlight with them so this will be a little catch up of my life of taming the Thorson's!

Asher turned 10 at the end of May...we have officially entered the double digits! I still might be in shock or denial over this one. He only has a few inches left before he is looking at me eye to eye! He is still the "boy with the hair" and loves loves loves swimming. Despite getting older one thing that never changes about Asher is his view of life...always the optimist and happy (just like his Daddy!). We are so blessed to have Asher in our lives.

 We drove 45 minutes to the closest Panda Express so Asher could have his favorite food (yes I know we can get orange chicken from any Chinese restaurant but all pale in his eyes to Panda Express). He is totally worth the drive!

Happy Birthday Asher!

Jesse is now finishing up kindergarten. He has been chanting the last few days "5 days till I'm a first grader", "4 days till I'm a first grader"...He has loved kindergarten. Josie misses him when he is gone but I think the break it good...they fight nonstop till he gets on the bus and then it picks right back up when he gets off the bus. Yet they love each other fiercely. That fierceness usually ends in a biting or boxing match.
He was a tomato in his kindergarten performance last week. His kindergarten class actually has a vegetable garden they have been working in all spring. 

He played a season of baseball (finally without a cast on his arm!). He went from always striking out to usually getting 3 hits a game. He has grown so much in his skills (but we know he has a long way to go!). At his last game, we watched 2 boys wrestling over the ball in the outfield before it was returned to the game. It just makes us chuckle! Jesse is still trying to find "his sport" and already says he wants to play another season in the fall. He is also on summer swim with his older siblings this summer so maybe....wouldn't it be nice to actually have 2 kids in the same sport?!

Anna just wrapped up another year of ballet and jazz with 2 finale recitals. This girl loves dance more than life itself. She cried the last day of class and after each recital, clinging to her friends. Joel and I were amazed at how she lit up one the stage. Both of us said that it was a smile, pure joy, that we have never seen from her in day to day life. I actually got tears in my eyes watching her!
 Jazz Hands!

A girl always has to get flowers after a performance!

We celebrated all these "finales" with milkshakes at Fuddrucker's, a family favorite, but Jesse's most favorite! Josie is just into it for the milkshakes!

Hope all of you are enjoying the end of a school year (yay! to a break in homework and packing lunches and dragging kids out of bed even though they won't sleep in on Saturdays). Summer, here we come!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

More Running Adventures

Life in the military is not always easy. It often seems that I find my running peeps just in time for another move, and it has happened yet again. In February I finally found my running groove here in VA. These groups always bring my running joy to a new high and is probably what is prompting all my running posts lately. All I can do is soak in every minute before it is time to find a new group as crazy (or often crazier!) as me. This new group I have found has introduced me to trail running. I have to say that it is something that I have stuck my nose up at before. Alas I am easily influenced and I found myself lately in environments like these...

How can one not fall in love with this?! It has brought a whole new freedom to my running. On the trail, there is no watching your watch and concern for your pace; a break from the pressures or road running. It is now the route I seek on my long runs where the scenery can truly carry me away from the worries of the day. Just a few weeks ago we ran through a field of blue bells so beautiful that I had to stop and take a picture!
Ahhh, the picture does not due it justice!
And your feet often end up looking like this. What a way to break in a new pair of shoes!

Meet Dora Elmore (, the peep who introduced me to trail running. She is a RRC certified running coach, a Lulu Lemon Ambassador, very active on social media, and has blessed me so much by bringing me into her running world. She is the head of a Ragnar Trail Relay team, a team of 8 running a total of 120 miles overnight at Big Bear Lake/Campground in WV and somehow I have found myself on this team! It is no secret that I am not the biggest fan of camping but I guess we will be running instead of sleeping! Together we plot many training runs headed toward our Boston dreams. Somehow we both also managed to score free bibs for the Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon yesterday (thank you Integrated Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy of Loudoun County!) and used the run as a long training run (with some added warm up miles). Exactly a year ago, I had signed up to run this race with some dear friends but found myself in a leg cast instead. So it was awesome to finally conquer this one! I might have gotten just a "little" grumpy around mile 8 (which was mile 10.5 for us), and dear Dora stayed with me step for step. It was by far the hardest course I have ever run, 2 up hills for every down hill! But the route was amazingly beautiful and I am super thankful to have gotten to run it with a great group of gals.

 Some peeps from my Ashburn Mom's Run This Town running group before the race. MRTT is a great organization to find running support and encouragement, and people to laugh and cry with you along the way!

Finished with a time of 1:55.13...not a PR but still something to be proud of!