Friday, May 29, 2015

Catch up time...

I am still riding on cloud 9 after  my Boston Qualifier dream come true. However I have suffered some post race "blues".  For the past 6 months, I have been training with extreme focus, following a schedule, marking off runs, dreaming about the outcome. Then the day comes and goes and the world keeps going around. I have felt a little "how many miles do I run today". So I have been taking it easy, reevaluating my next goals, enjoying rest days, and eating cake...lots and lots of cake. You see in my intense focus I have forgotten to update you all on my kids and we have had 2 birthdays! Keeping up with their schedules and my training has been nothing less then intense, but now I can take a breath of fresh air and let you in on the mother side of my life for a moment. We have 1 week of school left. While I am a little nervous about this because, let's be frank, when will I run?! I can not wait to be done with packing lunches, homework, carpools, etc. We are ready for playgrounds and pools! The kids are also counting down...we will take one kid at a time.


 Asher is a kid taking after his Mommy! Every time I sign up for a race, he says "is there one I can do?". So in April, I did a 10K and Asher did a 5K. It was on Easter weekend so the race was also an East egg hunt (with prices included if you found certain golden eggs along the course). This kid ran the entire 5K in bunny ears, leaving the course to pick up an egg, shake it, put it back, grab another, and repeat...and did it in 27 minutes placing 2nd in his age group! Plus his egg won us 4 tickets to the Denver Zoo! Competitive Mary can't help but think "what could he do if he was really trying?!" but she bites her tongue. He will come into his own competitive spirit in his own time. It has been such a joy for me to share these runs with him and see him smiling the entire time.

A week before turning 11, he competed in a local triathlon: 100m swim, 8K bike, 2K run in 39:40. He asked to compete with the 11-12 year olds because he wanted to do the harder course. And again he loved every single second.

 On May 20th, Asher turned 11. The one thing he wanted for his birthday was to go indoor skydiving. He is truly into adventures.  He now says he wants to be an indoor skydiving instructor when he grows up.
It was wonderful getting to meet some of his close friends and see them interact. This seems to be such a weird age...they want to interact with adults so badly but still just aren't there yet. Asher is such a sensitive, caring, and polite kid who seems to touch almost everyone he meets. What a pleasure to raise such a fine boy!


Anna's life has been all about dancing over the past 5 months. Competition season started in January and we now have 6 competitions under our belt! This has seriously been outside of my comfort zone but this girl thrives on that stage and is already dreaming about her dances for next year. The best part about it for me has been the special one on one time it has given as we spend hours at these workshops and conventions, and weekends away together. She has gotten to dance with world famous choreographers (like Twitch, Sonya Tayeh, and Stacey Tookey), won scholarships, and made amazing friends who lift her up.


We have all enjoyed becoming skiers this past winter but this boy flies down the slopes. We are trying to teach him control but there is just no fear there. And yes he is the one kid that has fallen off the ski lift. Isn't that every parent's fear?! Yup it happened but if you know Jesse you understand. He seems to be the one we are constantly losing due to his independence.

Jesse's sport of choice at the moment is baseball. We can't say he is the best at but he is in the process of finding himself, and he enjoys it. There are still moments of drawing in the dirt or staring up at the sky. This may be his sport. It may not. But for now this is where we are and it has made for really enjoyable family afternoons at the games.

 Jesse turned 7 on April 28th. He wanted to go bowling on his birthday with some buddies from school. What a riot! We do not go bowling enough-it was so much fun.

Again it is always special to see our children interact with their friends. They are all making friends in our new neighborhood now that the weather is nicer...and it seems everyone has found a match or two. Jesse is mr. popular and gets along with everyone. The kid still has a smile to melt the hardest of hearts. His favorite gift from his birthday was this Under Armour sweatshirt he is wearing...what is the obsession with Under Armour? And I swear his teacher must think he has no clothes because he wears this every. single. day.


Ah, what can I say about this sidekick. It must be hard being the youngest of 4. All she wants is to go everywhere the olders go but most often she is stuck with me (or Daddy). The world is too small for her personality. We spend most mornings at the dog park where she is socializing with every person (and I am off doing laps with the dogs). She has recently started writing and spelling her name.

She is following in big sister's footsteps at the moment. She loves dancing and her Anna spend many hours making up routines. Tomorrow in fact is both the girls recitals and Josie is overjoyed to be on the stage like Anna. Dance has also provided Josie's (and my) best friends. While she spends an hour in class with her friends, I get to chill with mine and then we often do lunch together afterwards (and plan mommy weekends away!).

So I believe that now catches you up on the past few months of our lives! Now I just need to stay on top of the updates!!! I will leave you with a few family moments...


Crazy Hair Day


Memorial Day Bolder Boulder 10K

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Dream Come True

First I need to apologize to all my faithful followers (yes my family members!) who have long been awaiting another family/kid update. I have been VERY distracted lately keeping up with all the kids sports, holidays, training 2 dogs, and my running adventures. I do have lot to catch up on (Easter, a birthday, sports achievements) but you are going to have to wait longer. Please bare with me because today I would love to share with you the day I achieved a dream of mine. On May 3rd, I ran my 4th marathon and qualified for the Boston marathon 2016!!

I ran my first marathon 8 years ago. If anyone had told me then that I had a chance of qualifying for Boston some day I would have laughed in their face. As I became a more serious runner, of course I couldn't help but dream of one day running Boston. It is a prize that every runner dreams of in one way or another...a badge of honor. I always put those Boston qualified runners on a pedestal and wondered "could I ever?". Marathon #2 in 2008 was just a story for another day, and marathon #3 in 2012 was a PR-my first sub 4 hour marathon-nothing to be ashamed of! I was elated but unhappy with my how I ran the race. I realized that day what race strategy meant and knew I could have done it differently with the right training. That was the year I learned about speed work, intervals, tempo runs, and the power of positive thinking. I met running friends who shared their wealth of knowledge in the sport, ran with me, taught me, encouraged me, and that was the year I started to PR everything I ran...a 5K, a 10K, and a half marathon. I was falling in love with running on a whole new level and couldn't wait to sign up for another race. All the while I still had that Boston dream deep in my heart. Then one of my friends had the courage to out her dream on Boston qualifying to all those around her. She told me that if you tell people then it makes you commit to it on a different level. And it ignited something in me. I didn't want it to be a dream that I never had the courage to fight I outed myself. I told everyone I knew what I wanted and set my eyes on finding the perfect marathon to train for. Then we moved to Colorado (aka..elevation and yes it does effect you!). I was told I would ever be as fast here as I would be at sea level but I could not sign up for a marathon at sea level though. My dear husband and 4 kids are my biggest supporters. Joel would be crushed if I qualified for Boston and he wasn't at the finish line to witness. I had to try here despite what others said. So I signed up for The Colorado Marathon in Fort Collins, made public my goal of Boston qualifying in 2015, and started training. Jan 1 was day 1 of marathon training. I chose the 18 week Hanson's Marathon Training plan and let me tell you it is NO JOKE! 900 miles went into getting me to May 3rd. This is not an estimation folks. I actually counted every mile on a calendar.  The training was hard. There were tears, doubts, days where I knew I could do it and days where I thought maybe it wasn't possible at all. I still went out and fought for every mile (and soaked in an epsom salt bath 3 times a week). And May 3rd came.

We stayed Saturday night in Fort Collins. Joel has an Aunt and Uncle who live there and graciously fed this family of 6 an amazing spaghetti dinner. I was such a tense stressed out mess that I wasn't a very good social guest. I can't even remember anything of what we talked about! We headed back to our hotel and had everyone settled in bed at 7:30pm (threatening the kids with their lives). I am not even sure how but I fell asleep! I slept pretty soundly until midnight and on and off till the alarm went off at 3:45am. My husband is a saint is all I can say (and I will say it over and over again) as he herded the kids out the door to drive me to Starbucks and then the shuttle drop off. Yes, Starbucks was open at 3am just for runners and offered a free drink to bib holders! It was awesome-they wrote "562" on my cup and cheered for me as they announced my order. All runners had to take a bus from Fort Collins to the start line (about a 45 minute trip up the Poudre canyon) as the race was run through the canyon on a 2 lane road along the Poudre River, and they were trying to minimize traffic. Even spectators are not allowed on the course until runners exit the canyon at mile 16. My husband left me in the bus line with a cheery "See you at mile 16" and my kids already holding signs up for all the runners waiting in line (they were quite popular). Then Justin and I became friends over Starbucks coffee and our nerves as we rode the bus along the marathon course to the start line. It was a great way to ignore the nerves...chatting over his first marathon and goals, running Pikes Peak this summer, our families, how to tackle the course. Once left at the start line at 6100 feet, we were able to mingle with other runners, find peaceful moments in the gorgeous scenery, and watch the sun rise as we waited for the 6:30am start. 
Not a bad way to wait for the race to start

With no cell service at the top of the canyon I began to panic that my GPS watch wouldn't work properly but what can you do now?! There was a 10 second count down and 1000 runners were off! Justin and I even fist bumped. The course drops in significant elevation over the first 16 miles (net elevation loss -1353) so I knew it would be easy to blow down the course and kill my legs. My plan was to play it conservative...first 2 miles slightly above pace, then drop down and stay at an 8:10 till I left the canyon and hit 8:15 to the finish. My time goal (and what I trained for) was a 3:35 finish which is an 8:12 average pace. I was right on target (even with a 30 second potty stop...yes I was mad but what can you do?!) and hit the halfway point at 1:47.45-only 15 seconds behind pace. I was pretty happy and feeling great. I had only lost GPS signal for half a mile so my watch distance was off. I also had a pace tattoo on my arm to keep track of my splits but I got so bleary eyed it was hard to read. So I just focused on keeping my pace even and eyes up.
And look at this view! We had 16 miles of this! I tried to remember to look up and drink in the beauty. If any of you ever want to run a marathon in Colorado, this is the one!! (photo credit to Kate Avery; IG @kate_runs_colorado who was right behind me during the start and we didn't know it until looking at these pictures). And oh the joy of seeing my family for the first time!

They had these amazing signs prepared ahead of time (yes see my husband is a saint!). They were right at the mile 17 point ringing those cow bells and high fiving me. It certainly put a pep in my step, but I was getting a bit nervous. I knew that the race really started at this point...where the elevation loss ends, the scenery isn't as gorgeous, the legs are tired, and the inevitable pain isn't too far off (and I was also dreading the hill at mile 19 that I knew was coming).  Oh but there is my family driving by ringing cowbells again! It was awesome. and there they were at mile 18.5 again. The sun is high and its getting hot. The sun is so unbelievably hot in Colorado. It may only be 60-70 degrees but the sun makes it feel like much more. I got up that hill at 19 no problem and there was this amazing volunteer with a hose, waiting for the thumbs up from runners for a hose down. It felt awesome. I love that guy. Then I focused on getting to mile 20 where I knew my friend Dan is waiting to take me to the finish.  I seriously felt on point when Dan fell into step with me confirming that I was right on target. I remember telling him "I've got this" thinking I was set for a 3:36 finish. I was tired, feeling a bit uncomfortable, but nothing too difficult.  My family was there one more time- right before we left the road and headed onto a bike path at mile 21. I'm not sure how Joel manages to load and unload 4 kids multiple times after being up since 3:45am-like I said, a saint. Then the back and forth turns started, and then over bridges.  Although beautiful bridges, they started to break was hard to keep my stride with the back and forth. Dan, knowing my love of bridges, snapped a few shots.

And this is where I fell apart. I hit the wall at mile 22. It seems so close to the finish but it was an eternity. Miles 22-24 were very dark. I remember groaning, complaining to Dan that "it was too hard", my side hurt, my shoulders were cramping, it was hot, I wanted to quit. Dan started running in front of me coaching me to follow him to hug the turns and conserve energy. When I fell behind he would start motioning with his hand and say "get up here". I do remember him yelling at me once "You are not setting yourself up to come back here again, to run this again trying to qualify. You've worked too hard for this." I walked through a water stop at mile 23 seeing a hill in front of me. He gave me "till the end of the fence" to walk, coached me into slowing my breathing and lifting my shoulders, short steps up the hill, focus on the white mailbox. There was a 9:24 minute mile in there. I was slowly watching my time slip away and trying not to panic. A few spectators cheered "Your almost there!" and I am not sure if I muttered or yelled it but I know the word "Liar" left my lips a few times. But praise the Lord I found myself again in mile 24. I'm not sure how it happened. I started reciting all those positive mantras I spent so much time memorizing...

"You can give up or you can give more"
"It is a marathon. It is supposed to hurt. Smile at the pain and move along"
"Pain is temporary. Your time is forever."
"900 an give it a few more. Don't waste all those miles."
"Run the mile you're in. One mile at a time"
Hebrews 12:1-2, my life verse, and what a sweet friend prayed over me days before.

I thought of my husband and sweet kids, who just miles before were yelling "you've got this" and I knew were anxiously awaiting me at the finish line. All the hours they put into supporting my training even when it was inconvenient. I thought of the amazing running support I have found on social media, all those who have followed my journey and believed in me. And I dug deep. They weren't the 8:10-8:15 minute miles I was hoping for but they were 8:30-8:40. It was enough for me to hang on to that Boston qualifying dream. I did not want to lose that dream at mile 24! I am pretty sure is was at 25.4 miles that I said to Dan "I think I'm going to pass out". He gave me his water bottle, slowed me for a few seconds, and onward we went. We were 7 blocks away. Why does it seem so far? I see people but they are so. far. away. We got faster. I gave it everything I had. The crowd got closer and I saw the gates to direct you into the finishing lane.  Dan says "there's your finishing shoot" and he disappeared. I know my family was there but I couldn't see them. If I dared to look I might break down. I might slow down. I might pass out. I turned the final corner, focused on the finish line and just did everything I could to not slow down. 

If you were able to zoom in on this picture you would see 3 of my 4 kids looking at the clock and not me. They were so worried! I just find it so endearing. They knew the number I needed and they wanted it for me just as much as I did. I crossed and I saw 3:38 on my watch. I smiled at the guy trying to hang a medal over my neck and started to waver. "Are you OK" he asks. I shook my head, fell into his arms, and was carried to the nearest chair. 

I cried. I did it. I couldn't believe it and still can't. I feel like my guts were left all over the last 4 miles of that race and I had nothing left. There was a lot more crying when I finally left that chair and was greeted by my husband, kids, Joel's Aunt and Uncle, and some of our closest friends who made the 2 hour drive just to witness the finish. We were all crying!

And then we all went out for pizza and beer! 

So today I can't walk (in fact I go down the stairs backwards!) and life moves on. I had to pack lunches for school, drive carpool, walk the dogs, and go grocery shopping. But my dream is a reality. No one can take it away. I keep reliving it over and over in my head. At some moments I wonder how and where I could have gotten precious seconds back. All I can think back to are those dark miles when I was losing the mental battle. Maybe there is a key in there I have yet to find. But I can't for the life of me think of how I could have changed any of it. I am unbelievably grateful for the journey, the fight, and the ability to run.  I am overwhelmed and humbled by the amazing support from all over that has poured over me. I wore my heart on my sleeve and was blessed with those to ride along side me. I am so proud to have a 18 minute marathon PR and a BQ!!! Dreams really do come true!!! No looking back. 
Final results: Official time 3:38.35. 
165 out of 1017 runners
3rd in my age group (I got extra hardware for that!!)

Boston bound 2016.