Not your average suburban mom. I’m more your typical, normal, commonplace, everyday, garden-variety suburban mom. With a thesaurus.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"You - are - an - IRONMAN!"

Louisville Ironman 2013 was the most inspiring day of my life.

Previously, I planned to leave Michigan Saturday night and arrive in Louisville Sunday morning at 4:30, joining Sarah as she waited in line for the start. Plans changed kind of late in the game, and I ended up in Louisville early Saturday evening, joining Sarah, her parents, her aunt, uncle, boss, and coworker Kelly at a fancy restaurant called Eddie Merlot's.

I arrived late to dinner so Sarah ordered me a spinach salad and it was waiting for me when I sat down. I also noshed on some un-freaking-believable sweet potato casserole that may or may not have changed my life as much as watching the Ironman. (Sike. That's just me exaggerating trying to get the point across that this casserole was so good I would travel back to Louisville simply to eat it.)

Also included? Cable television. Which introduced
me to the show Bad Ink, prompting me to add
"Travel to Vegas solely so that Dirk Vermin can fix
my broccoli tattoo" to my Bucket List. 
After dinner we checked out the finish line, then made our way back to the hotel. We stayed at the Marriot Downtown Louisville. Due to circumstances beyond anything I understand yet, I managed to get an entire hotel room all to myself. (If you are an introvert, you know this is about as close to heaven as can be experienced on earth.) I dumped my stuff and headed to the hotel fitness center and ran 3 miles, taking time to thank my lovely training schedule for gifting me a recovery week during Ironman weekend. (Also, for those concerned with how cutting bangs was going to affect my running - and really, who wasn't concerned? - it was much, much hotter. Both physically and aesthetically as my hair was glued to and dripping from my forehead.)(Also? I'm now the proud owner of a smattering of "new bang forehead zits", so that's awesome.) After my run and shower, I hung out in Sarah's room (with her mom and Kelly), watching Sister Act II, and making plans for the morning.

Sarah, her mom Karen, Kelly, and her boss (Dr. S) were going to head down to the start around 4:00 a.m. and get in the massive line of 3,000 competitors. I was going to sleep until 5:00, paint my toenails, and then join them. The actual race started with the pro's heading out around 6:45(ish), then the disabled athletes, then the age groupers around 7:00 a.m.

I left the hotel around 5:30 a.m., forgetting that Louisville is actually a pretty big city, and maybe my plan to walk over a mile all by myself in the dark was not all that well thought out. Thankfully, while waiting for a traffic light on a dark, empty street corner I met a homeless man/travelling Christian musician named Ernie who became my own personal escort to the transition area of the race. He walked with me for almost a mile sharing stories of his travels, and I prayed for him (and his instruments, for which he was most appreciative) when we parted ways. For those that think God doesn't appreciate irony, He sent me the very cliched version of all my imagined fears (that of course some young homeless dude was going to mug/rape/pillage my person) to act as a bodyguard.

The transition area stopped me in my tracks. This is what 3,000 triathlon bikes look like.

Sorry, I know it's dark. But it's the morning of Ironman and I was still waiting for the sunrise.

I called Sarah's mom when I arrived at transition. The start was a mile further down the road, and she told me where to look for them. Again, I was totally unprepared for the line. 3,000 triathletes arranged single file is a loooooooong line. I met up with Sarah, who honestly looked tiny compared to some of these athletes, but nonetheless totally prepared and ready to throw up get on with it, already.


Getting a pre-race pep talk from Dr.S.

We heard the gun go off and the line slowly started moving. We were lined up along the Ohio River, so you could see some of the racers already swimming.

They had to swim around an island and then a mile toward transition. There were kayaks and paddle boards in the water ready to rescue anyone struggling.

The swim start was a rolling start, which meant every two seconds someone jumped off the dock and into the water.

Your swim time started at the water, not when the gun sounded. It took almost 45 minutes for all 3000 athletes to enter the water.

Totally not an alien. Just a bike helmet.
Safety ain't always pretty, yo.
After Sarah jumped in, we walked the mile back to transition. Kelly and I found a deli a few blocks away and got bagels and a frozen coffee milkshake. We got back to transition in time to see last year's winner and my best friend from high school Pat Evoe exit the water and leave on his bike. (He is sponsored by Little Caesars Pizza, something I find hilariously ironic.)

Sarah finished the swim in 1:28:40, averaging 2:17/100 yards. She hopped on her bike and headed out. I was too short to capture any good shots of this, but just trust me when I say she looked every bit the Ironman competitor. And? She was smiling.

We waited for a shuttle to drive us 25 highway minutes to a little town called La Grange where we could watch our athlete loop us twice on the bike portion. They needed to ride 112 miles before that leg could be completed. The weather was beautiful. This was the only part where I actually could have sat in my camping chair, which I brought but elected to leave in the hotel room. Instead I sat on the ground and waited until the Ironman website updated Sarah's position, and when she got closer I stood and cheered as she sped the heck by.

Well played on the pink tri suit. Seriously, I looked for those shorts to identify her from farther away and still barely got this shot. She averaged 16.1 mph for the entire 112 miles. (That's my average pace for a sprint triathlon - all 11 miles of it.)
It was in La Grange, waiting for Sarah to loop around again, that I started to really get a sense for how long this race truly is. I thought I had a decent respect for the Ironman Triathlon. Even just on paper I am humbled by the distances required to be covered to be an Ironman. But trying to figure how long it would take Sarah to cover another 30 miles and then working out how to fill that time waiting you begin to see the enormity of this race. While I was eating pasta salad from a local deli (and scoring some killer garlic breath)(you're welcome, Kelly and Dr. S), window shopping in the cute antique-y stores, reading my book because I'm a buzz kill like that, and watching cyclist after cyclist pass, I realized that Sarah was continuously on her bike. Pedaling an average 16 miles per hour. In 85 degree heat. For 112 miles. The realization was almost bewildering.

After Sarah's second loop we took the bus back to the transition site in downtown Louisville and waited for Sarah to come in. I cried a lot waiting at that point. Some of this is because I'm on my period, but mostly it was because I was so inspired by the athletes. We were positioned right at the line where the riders had to get off their bikes. Some of these people had been riding a bike for over seven hours. I saw quad muscles actually quivering. I saw people have trouble walking. I saw people fall trying to get their feet unhooked from their pedals because their legs were no longer listening to them. I saw a blind woman (riding tandem) return to cheers and applause of encouragement. And then I saw Sarah, and I cried a little more. She finished the bike in 6:57:17.

Do you have any idea the amount of training this girl put in to be able to bike 112 miles? A ridiculous amount.
At transition, Ironman provides "catchers" who take your bike and rack it, leaving you to go and get ready for the run. Sarah was in and out in under 8 minutes, having changed into her running gear. She headed out still smiling.

Purple shirt, natch.
I'm not going to lie; at this point I headed back to the hotel to soak my feet and lie down in the air conditioning while watching Brother vs Brother on HGTV. Because honestly? Watching the Ironman is exhausting. I rested for about an hour and then headed down to the finish line. Sarah was around the 8 mile point of her 26.2 mile run, so I knew I would be waiting awhile.

I got a great spot; I was front and center (totally important when you are 5'3" tall) about 30 feet from the finish line. I watched so many people become Ironmen. This is when I lost my stuff so much the lady next to me asked how I knew so many competitors. I didn't know any of them, but how can you help but cry happy tears for people who are so physically depleted but still manage to see the finish line and react with determination, euphoria, and a bit of disbelieving pride? "Ohmylanta, I'm really gonna do this." - this is what I imagined every athlete to be saying in their heads (because I project all my own emotions on others)(like a toddler).

Most triathletes really take advantage of their arms
for the swim portion, choosing to save their legs
for the bike and run. I can't.even.fathom. what his
arms must feel like after 12+ hours of moving.
I stood at that finish line for over three hours watching people come in. My favorite finishers included a 53 year old woman (who was about my height and easily had about 40 pounds on me) who entered the finishers chute and just started sobbing. Of course I answered in like fashion, and the crowd screamed her in as she became "... AN IRONMAN!" Another man had his left hamstring seize up and hopped the last 100 yards. He became an Ironman on one leg. I watched some of the disabled athletes cross the finish line, having propelled their bodies 140.6 miles solely by the power of their arms.

The finish line also hosted six or seven ambulances ready to take people straight to the hospital. I'm not saying every single athlete needed medical attention, but the sound of sirens was a prevalent backdrop to the man announcing the finishers.

As we got closer to Sarah's projected finish time, the others in our party joined me at my spot along the wall, although they were behind me in the crush of spectators that lined the finishers chute three to four people deep. I switched positions with Sarah's mom so that she could see Sarah finish, and I went down the course about a quarter of a mile to see if I could call her family and give them the heads up she was almost there.

That totally didn't happen. Mainly because when I saw Sarah she was flying. Here's proof:

She ran by me so quickly I could only shout her name and take this shot as she passed. I ran as fast as I could to the finish line, and while I didn't get to see it with my own eyes, I did hear over the din of the crowd and music, "SARAH ____, from ____ MICHIGAN, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!"

Sarah ran the marathon in 4:26:55, with an average pace of 10:11 per mile, and that's after swimming and biking 114.4 miles. She finished the entire race in 13:07:29. While her goal was 15 hours, I knew she would do it in 13. (This is my way of taking a bit of ownership for her Ironman accomplishment. Because then I'm successful by osmosis. "KELLY, YOU have a friend who's AN IRONMAN!".)

LOUISVILLE IRONMAN 2013 - right here, folks.
This is Sarah with her parents. I lost it again when her dad cried. 

I am proud to know Sarah, and honored to have witnessed the realization of a dream that required months of preparation and sacrifice. I am now even more in awe of the Ironman triathlon, and am inspired to be a better athlete because of it. (More than one person has asked me if this makes me want to do Ironman. Answer: standing at the finish line, heck yes I wanted to do an Ironman. Two days later running five miles in 85 degree temperatures with the humidity hovering around 80 percent? I'll settle for just finishing my five miles, thankyouverymuch.)(However, if being a Professional Ironman Spectator was an actual job, I'd apply in a heartbeat.)

Congratulations, Sarah! I'm in anytime you want to do this thing again :)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Bangin' Weekend

First, a new 'do.

I totally committed to the heavy bang after many half-hearted "wispy" attempts. Turns out going all-out was the way to go. This is the first time in 34 years I don't have Bang Remorse. And? It's also cute as heck in a ponytail. Finally a win for the Mommy Survival 'Do.

Also, it's Friday which means I am one day closer to an(other) amazing adventure. (Seriously, this summer has seemed like one crazy trip after another, right?) On Saturday night I am packing myself up and driving (through the night) five and a half hours to ... Louisville, Kentucky. Why Louisville? Well, Sarah, my triathlon training partner extraordinaire, is doing this tiny little race you may have heard of. It's called

Ohmylanta I am so excited. I will witness Sarah compete with thousands of athletes to undertake one of the cuh-raziest feats of physical testing in the world. For those not familiar with the Ironman triathlon, Sarah will be swimming 2.4 miles in the Ohio River (around 4200 yards or forty-two football fields), followed by 112 miles on her bike (I don't even need to put that in layman's terms, do I?), and capping it all off with a little 26.2 mile run. Or, as some people call it, "a marathon".  

I have to arrive before 5:00 a.m. on race day because that's when the city streets start to shut down. I hope to arrive at Sarah's hotel in time to drop my stuff in her room before she heads out at 4:30 a.m. to fully set up at transition. (Also, maybe take a nap and/or shower.) The race has a rolling wave start, so it could take a long time for Sarah to actually get in the water. Once there, she has two hours and twenty minutes to complete her swim.

I'm meeting up with Sarah's family, friends, and coworkers who are also making the trip, and we will vary our spectating places to be able to cheer her on twice during the bike, and a few more times during the run. But mostly I want to be there when she finishes and they announce her as an "IRONMAN". I have my guesses to when she will finish (based on both of her 1/2 Ironman times) but she officially has seventeen hours to finish this race. (Can we stop and contemplate being fully engaged in grueling physical activity for SEVENTEEN hours?)

If you are wondering who won the whole stinkin' 2012 Louisville Ironman, it was none other that this guy, right here:

That's PAT FREAKING EVOE. (Hey, any KHS graduates recognize him?!)
So, I went to high school with the reigning champ, professional triathlete Patrick Evoe, which I'm pretty sure means I "know people". Namely, professional athletes that could not pick me out of a line up, but that I could drop names of mutual friends to and we could share parallel memories of events we both attended, just not in each other's company. So, what I mean is, we are pretty much best friends. (When I discovered Pat's win I immediately called Sarah, because Pat will be racing again, and this race immediately had the added element of "celebrity sighting".)(Because Pat freaking Evoe is an Ironman celebrity. Whaaa?)(Also, one of my favorite bloggers is from Louisville, so I'm sure I'll be craning my neck just expecting to randomly see Katie from Nested.)

So, I won't be posting Monday because I'll be driving home to the fam, but look for a race report Wednesday (can you write a race report for a race you didn't do? heck yes). So until then, be sure to leave some comment love for Sarah. GO SARAH!!!!

This is seriously the only picture of the two of us *not* in our triathlon shorts. Which are super lovely. And will only be posted as necessary in race reports.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A: EIGHT POINT ONE SIX Q: How many miles did you run, Kel?

Pre-blister, beautiful yet
rotund, toe-age.
If you been following the Camping Saga of 2013, you've taken note of the aforementioned activities: grilled hamburgers, a trip to Wal-Mart, kayaking, and a lovely little four mile jaunt through beautiful greenery where a phantom rock haunted the toe of my running shoe. While the pain of that phantom rock vanished when I removed my shoes, it did leave me with a few sweet souvenirs - namely two adorable blisters on my left pinkie toe. One took up the entire pad of my pinkie toe (and for the record, I have the fattest toes in existence, so don't let the word "pinkie" throw you off; that blister was huge) and the other was on the inside of my pinkie toe, cowering in the space between toes. (Could I possibly write the word "toe" any more?)(Only if I start making some toeriffic puns.)(*vocal rim shot*)

Since I spent most of camping wearing my trusty Old Navy $2 flip-flops (the ones renowned for their sturdiness and also for how appropriate they are for a weekend in the wild), I barely felt my blisters.  Except, of course, for when I noticed how deformed my toes looked, and then I showed everyone around me how nasty my feet were the evidence of such a hardcore four mile run. I began to be a bit concerned with how I was going to handle my 7 mile run the next day. My foot didn't hurt now, but surely when I put my running shoes back on (because they were the only ones I brought) it would hurt again. Could I run my first 7 mile run in history in such pain?

I took Hosanna and biked the 7 mile route I had planned at home using Map My Run. It was so.hilly. Like, cuh-razy hills that I almost had to walk my mountain bike up. But strangely, I really wanted to do that 7 miles. But I was worried about making things worse if I ran in those shoes. The alternative was to run a three mile run instead, and do my long run at home when I had my regular shoes. But if I did that I would have that long run hanging over my head for two extra days.

Rose and her dad. (Who did not
contribute to the running plan
deal.)(But who just had surgery
so S/O to R.J.!)
I was mulling all that over at the campfire while eating a delicious s'more and talking to Rose about the Red Carpet Run. (Multitasking at it's finest.) She came up with two brilliant plans. 1. I should duct tape my blisters. 2. I should run with her and our friend Christina, who were planning to do two miles in the morning. I counter-offered with, "What if I ran four miles first, and then picked y'all up for another three?" A deal was struck, and a plan was born.

I put triple antibiotic ointment on my blisters, and then covered them with a Buzz Lightyear band aid. I covered all that mess with duct tape. The first mile I was aware I had three extra layers coating my littlest toe, but it didn't hurt, and soon I forgot all about it. The bandages worked like a charm. I had zero pain and neither blister popped or got worse. (Even now they have morphed into awesome callouses.)

The first four miles were easy-peasy because I was excited to get back and have running partners. I ran a simple out and back (again, I used the estimated distance from my planning at home on my computer) and Rose and Christina were waiting for me when I returned to camp. I grabbed some water and we were off.

Christina rocked my face off when she brought her phone and could keep track of our distance and pace. This was awesome because Rose often accuses me of lengthening our distances without telling her which I do all the freaking time. Since I hadn't planned for a three mile run I was just guessing at distances when I suggested a route. I was pretty confident it would at least be a three mile run, but imagine my surprise when I took them the two mile out route I had been using and Christina tracked it at 2.25 miles! That meant my 4 mile run was really 4.5 miles. I love when that happens. You get the gain without the mental pain. Score.

We shortened the route back but when her phone signaled we hit three miles, we were still at least a half mile out. I was worried that, yet again, I was asking Rose to go farther then previously agreed upon (Syke. I wasn't really worried at all, but it's rude to keep doing that to the people you love, so I have to at least pretend to feel bad.), but I knew both she and Christina could do this. Their longest runs up to this one were 5k's; 3.1 miles at a slower pace on less hilly courses.  I'm not gonna lie - that last .66 miles wasn't the easiest thing I've ever done (especially because it ended with a steady incline) but we finished strong and ran back into camp like champions.

Totally sing, "We Are the Champions" in your head because I assure you that is what was happening in my head in real time. Rose, Christina, and me - all with new personal records for distance.
Once I was fully convinced I had my math correct (4.5 + 3.66), I said it out loud. "Dude, I totally just ran EIGHT POINT ONE SIX miles. 8.16 miles."

Best 7 mile run ever. Thank you, Rose and Christina.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Hey Daddy, those are some long legs you have...

So, Day Two of the camping trip.

After returning from Wal-Mart I ate two mini Kit Kat found my friend Eliza who offered to help me fulfill yet another one of the items on (last year's) Summer Bucket List. (Um, *yeah* I'm still working on last year's list.  I'm totally not a quitter, dude.)

Eliza told me she brought two kayaks to the campgrounds.  We were free to kayak anytime we wanted and I wanted to right now.  But while I was totally pumped to get out on the lake, on a scale from one to ten, one being: not at all and ten being: consumed and miserable by the mere possibility, I felt about a "six" concerning Getting Caught Doing Something Stupid While Learning to Kayak. Because statistically, the chances of me publicly embarrassing myself on a normal day are above average*; throw learning a new skill, balance, and water in the mix? It's like a perfect storm.

*Just ask my sister about the time I tweaked my shoulder performing the Roger Rabbit during a dance off with my six year old nephew. Some call it "over-committing" but I say "it's impossible to over-commit when dance off bragging rights are on the line."*

Eliza and I walked around the lake to where the kayaks were stored and I made absolutely sure that she knew she was going to have to go first to show me everything. I wanted to watch her get in the kayak and paddle before I even attempted such a feat. Mostly I was concerned with tipping the kayak, but only because leeches.

Just as we reached the kayaks, Eliza's husband John and her two boys (middle school aged) pulled up in their truck to say they were running an errand. This arrival turned out to be the saving grace of this whole experience, because as Eliza was flipping over the kayaks and telling me all the Very Important Needs to Know info about this venture, I realized my kayak was filled. with. bugs.

Now, you might be thinking, keeping with true Sublurban Mama form, that statement might be a bit of an exaggeration and maybe there were like, three crickets up in that thing. You would be so wrong, friend. As soon as I saw all those creepy-crawly things I immediately stopped hearing Eliza talk and this happened in my head.

"Duuuuuuuuuude. I can not get in there.  I just ... can not. There are: one, two, three ... six freaking daddy longlegs. Is that a cricket? Nope.  That's at least five very active crickets.  And that thing?  I don't even know what that thing is. I'm going to die. How rude would it be to ask Eliza to switch with me? Could I do that? She's already taking me out on the lake in her kayaks ... and that's super nice. I don't know if I can do this."

Then John broke in with some really helpful information.

John: Did you know that Daddy Longlegs are one of the most poisonous spiders, but they can't bite humans because their legs get in the way.

Kelly: Dude, that's awesome. *eyes kayak nervously* So, I'm not going to die when all those spiders attack me? *probably looks like I'm about to cry*

John: *a married man who correctly assesses when a woman is about to lose her hold on her calm, detached manner, calls to the truck* Hey boys, come catch some bugs.

Did you audibly hear angels sing from heaven when he said that?  Because I assure you, the angels sang.

When those darling manly men captured all the bugs and left me with a safe kayak, I flopped down into it gracefully seated myself and pushed off into the great beyond.

Kayaking was so much fun! Honestly, Eliza and I were chatting too much and the lake was too small to really go anywhere, but we paddled around the lake a few times.  I only ran into her four times, totally pseudo-yelping, "DUDE! I'm going to run into you because I don't know how to stop/steer properly/understand the physics of using a paddle yet!" every single time and apologizing because I'm polite when I crash into someone with their own vessel.

Just another tranquil day on the water, with me kayaking like a boss. No biggie.
This is what the fulfillment of a life goal looks like, for those of you taking notes.
I was about to count the whole kayak adventure a success when I looked down at my right arm. Perched on my forearm like he owned the place was a freaking rogue Daddy Longlegs. Without thinking I screamed, "Eeeuugh," which roughly translated means, "THERE IS A HUGE-A SPIDER ON MY AAARRRRMMM" and reached over with my left hand, grabbed the spider without even wearing any gloves, and threw it. It was like I was overtaken by a super power. It was just like when a mother is able to lift a car off her child, but instead of getting super strength I got a different super power. The super power of "No Fear of Grabbing the Spider Because You Are Too Consumed With the Fear of It Chilling On Your Arm". (That's what I'm getting printed on my cape, anyways.)(Disclaimer: It's going to be a pretty big cape.)

That's really the moment, surviving the absolute worst kayaking could throw at me, I knew kayaking could be my thing. Even three days later when my sunburned shins started peeling like I was supplying a dandruff commercial because I never thought to pay extra sun-care attention to my lower legs, instead focusing on my face, ears, and hair part, I knew I had the potential to be A Kayaker.

So, thank you Eliza (and John and the boys) for a lovely time on the water, and for helping me get one step closer to finishing the Summer of 2012 Bucket List.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Camping - Days 1 and 2, and the precursor to the EIGHT POINT ONE SIX mile run.

As I previously mentioned, we spent part of last week ... camping *gasp*.  Those of you who have been around for awhile may remember that camping was on last year's Summer Bucket List as one of those things that I never, ever wanted to do but felt like I should at least experience.  Oh, and did I experience it.  It was, quite possibly, the World's Worst Camping Trip. You can read about when history's first landlocked tsunami soaked our entire campground and we were sleeping with the fishes in the way that Tony Soprano (may he rest in peace) never meant to be taken literally at all.  And maybe I did leave the campground in tears that first night, but I also returned only to be told the most horrifying chamber pot story and coincidentally, the only chamber pot story in my repertoire. Also, the sweet little stroll in the woods with my eight year old just barely missed being turned into the fodder for Blair Witch Project II.

After all that craziness, what in the world could possess me to go camping again? In a word, peer pressure. (Dude, I totally know that was two words.)(But "in a phrase" just doesn't have the same flow.)(Story for free? Anytime I say the word "flow" I think "flo" in my head (redundant much, Kel, or do you sometimes think outside your head?)(shoosh your face*, Grammar Nazi) because it's just like Jonah Hill in Superbad - which I totally saw at the gym while I was running on the treadmill last night - when he says, "fo' sho, fo' sho" because he is so white boy ghetto and cool, all the same things I am in my head.)

So, back to camping due to intense peer pressure.  This peer pressure is the kind where everyone you know is going and your kiddos have been saying for a full year, "When we go to the church camping trip ..." and you just can't disappoint them about that. Disappoint them that, yes, we are having pot roast for dinner = yes.  But, no, we are not going to the camping trip because Mama prefers her bed and also electricity = no. That's just how parenting works, apparently. (Kelly must totally rock at Boggle.)(I do.)

We bought our own tent this year and took three cots; I totally finagled the big cot for myself.  It used to belong to Brian's dad and is an XL. The thing is the same size as an XL twin bed. So it totally made sense that the grown up who is 5'3" should sleep on it as opposed to the 6'+ man of the family. (For the record, I only had it one night. Then I gave it up so the hubs could stretch out because love and marriage, y'all.)

The weather was absolutely perfect.  It turns out that the weather actually affects how much fun you will have and the ease at which you will camp.

We arrived Thursday morning, set up our campsite, and ate some rockin' soynut butter and jam sandwiches. (Don't get too jealous of our peanut allergy, er'body.) We toured the campgrounds, mostly visiting with the other families that had already arrived, and I made sure we visited one family in particular.

Derek and Asako are the closest thing to professional campers that I know.  They cook everything over the fire, chop their own wood, and, most importantly, wake up early enough to entertain Esther so that she doesn't wake up the entire campground because maybe her internal volume is stuck at 10. (Dude, I'm not even kidding. When we had Ezra, all the kiddos came to the hospital to help transport us home and one of the nurses, after spending a few minutes with us going over my discharge papers asked if Esther had hearing problems. She's *that* loud.) While at Derek and Asako's campsite the kiddos do fun things like:

Dance while Derek plays a jig on his violin.

Chop wood.

After visiting, we spent some time at the beach, letting the kiddos run back and forth between the water, sand, and the playground.  It was exhausting fun. It was so exhausting fun that when we returned to the campsite to cook our dinner this happened: So cute. This is after the pre-nap tantrum that involved Ezra completely losing his marbles over  "Mama hold me!"  *picks up Ezra*   "Mama NO hold me!"  *puts down Ezra*   "MAMA NO LOOK AT ME!"  *turns and walks slowly away*   "MAMA HOLD ME!" (Repeat)

After pounding a campfire grilled hamburger I put on my trail runners and hit the road. I normally only wear that particular pair of shoes when I am biking or taking a fitness class, but I thought I'd pack them for my campground runs. The campground was insanely hilly, and most of my run was going to be on dirt road. I'd mapped out a 4 mile run on Map My Run and set off with a full belly and gorgeous scenery.

It's always nice running in a new environment, especially one that peaceful.  I was back in the woods for a while and saw a pond and heard a hidden stream. Around mile two I felt the rock in my shoe.  It felt small and I only had two more miles to run, so I decided to tough it out and just finish my run.  By the third mile I decided that was a stupid plan, stopped, and took off my shoe and sock.  There was no rock. It was like a phantom rock. At that point I was pretty sure that I'd been bitten by a tick, you know, deep inside my shoe between my pinky toe and the one next to it (ring toe?) because weird pain in the woods is usually linked to Lyme Disease and we all know that is the Drama Queen logical conclusion to draw when your toe hurts. I finished my run confused but fairly certain life as I knew it was over.

Then I got back to camp, took off my shoes, and forgot about my toe pain because it went away.

The next day was full of fun.  I went to Wal-Mart right away because I didn't get the memo where you are supposed to bring junk food on a camping trip, and I was tired of my kiddos begging the families with delicious snack food to love your brother as yourself and share your Kit Kat's. (The good old church kid guilt trip, one mini candy bar at a time.) I stocked up on food that would win back my children's loyalties (except for Ezra because my friend Carrie has thoroughly stolen his affection with her amazing homemade cookies), and drove back to camp, passing the greatest temptation of my life.

180 miles of yard sales. On my route back to camp. I had two dollars cash on my person.

(One hundred eighty miles= minimum 50 sales between Wal-Mart and the campgrounds.)

The family was waiting for processed sugar me back at the campsite. I grudgingly returned thinking, "I'll just go tomorrow. I'm sure Sister Wife Rachel will go with me." (For the record? Totally never happened.)(Moral of the Story? Always carry at least $20 in Emergency Yard Sale money at all times.)(Because really, that's just being responsible.)

Day Two of camping was filled with adventures.  Stay tuned for Monday and the story of how I was almost Eaten By the Deadliest Arachnid within a two foot perimeter of where I was sitting. Thank God I lived to tell the tale. (On Monday, that is.) Also how I ran EIGHT POINT ONE SIX miles (because have I mentioned that anywhere yet?).

Have a great weekend!

*"Shoosh your face" - probably my new favorite expression and brought to you by Sue Diamond-Phillips, Diapers ... or Wine?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Keep Your Wishes Burning

During the Great Cottage Get Away of 2013, Grandma thought it would be a fun activity to launch some Chinese lanterns with all the grandchildren.  She told them all to think of four wishes, and to dedicate one wish per lantern.  This is how that happened.

It's like Heaven opened up to participate in an evening filled with childlike wonderment.

A flurry of excitement as the children wait for the lantern to rise.

THERE! Flying peacefully away over the serenity of Lake Huron.

Our wishes could find their way to Canada, eh?

The delight on innocent faces.

W-w-what?  I don't think that's supposed to- ARGH!  IT'S PLUMMETING TO THE DEEP ABYSS BELOW!

There goes Hosanna's dream of a pony.

Those lanterns must have been made by Snoop Lion, because they all went up in smoke. All four of them. So, you know, that flame was chronic.

Sorry, those of you who were counting on my wishes ushering in world peace.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Eat your heart out, Joan Rivers

I'm pretty sure if we got robbed the
first thing they would steal is my
SWAG and I just cannot have that.
Drawing upon my extensive collection of standard internet safety procedures, I purposefully neglected to mention I was going out of town (again) last week. This was mostly to deter any shady characters out there who might be tempted to rob our home by denying them the helpful information of when our home would be empty. I'm sorry you had to suffer wondering why I was abandoning you yet again, but that's just a reminder that crime hurts everyone, y'all.

Brian and I loaded up the kiddos Thursday morning for a long weekend of ... camping. (I know, right?) I have lots of camping memories to share (memories I will treasure, I assure you) but I would be remiss if I skipped over the Red Carpet Run race recap.  Because honestly?  I did *not* work that hard on my outfit (i.e. I raided Lauren's stash of old dance costumes) to forego posting photos of all that fabulousness on the internet.

The Red Carpet Run is one of my favorite races.  I ran it last year with Rose where she smoked me in the dress department.  Here is a reminder:

Blue sequined dress and a blinking feathered tiara?  It's like I had no chance.
This year, I was determined to up my game. (I might take a moment to mention that this is actually a 5k. It is a timed 3.1 mile run with bib numbers, course support, and people that actually care about the running aspect. But for this race - I am no longer one of them.  (but remember when I got my sub-30 5k here last year?) This race, for me, is all about the *ahem* fashion.) I may have been thinking about my dress since the drive home from last year's race.

When Lauren gave me her old dance costumes for my little girlies to play dress up, I quickly pilfered the one I thought most likely to fit my favorite. For months it has been hanging in my closet waiting to debut on the red carpet. It was only a few hours before the race that I thought to try it on.  Turns out that it totally had a leotard underneath the skirt.  Who knew? It was like encountering unexpected Spanx and who wouldn't be excited about that? Thank the good Lord that not only do I excel at fashion but I am also a master at sucking in the Mama Gut.  I still had to wear my running capris under the skirt so by the time I was all dressed I was layered like it was 1800 A.D.

The weather this year was pretty decent.  It was in the upper 70's, sunny, and a bit humid.  I was worried about my perfectly coiffed 'do coming undone because that's what it does, and I really needed it to stay in place in order to showcase the loveliness of my dollar store tiara.

"Oh Hair, you are so funny!  Stop it, Hair!"
Lauren, Rose, and our friend Jackie all ran the race.  (Also, one of Rose's students - Rose is a cheer leading coach - ran as well.) We met up before the start to let the paparazzi capture us in all our glory.

Rose's student, Jackie, me, Lauren, and Rose.  And did you catch that tagline?  "For the young and fabulous."  Obviously.

We spent a few minutes posing in different locations.  I mean, give the public what they want, right?

Posed and sassy.

Candid shoe modeling.  And I'm pretty sure I never shut my mouth.  Literally.

Jackie's first race!  I'm like a proud Mama Bear.

Bitter.  The only word I can think of to describe how I felt upon discovering Rose broke out fishnet stockings for the race. She is some stiff competition, my friends. 
I planned to simply follow my half marathon training plan which called for a 3 mile run at half marathon pace.  Since I am aiming for a 2:30 half, that breaks down to about an 11:26 second mile.  I never wear any kind of running watch and I am horrible at pacing.  I know my normal pace is around 10:30, so I just planned to run this slow and easy.

We started all together, and Lauren's husband David captured probably my favorite picture in the history of the world.  To me this is one of those "how many things are going wrong?" pictures.

Lauren's all, "I'm a ballerina but I'm being a smiley warrior."
I'm all, "I'm a warrior and a ballerina and have a GIANT FRONT LEG."
Rose is all, "I bet I could master the most unflattering positioning of my face and body all in one shot if I just stride far enough and yell out a 'woo'. Also, check out my hair."
Jackie is all, ""
Soon we split off and I remembered just how hilly this race is.  It was also really hard running in velour.  I didn't realize how spoiled I am running in my sweat wicking clothing until all my sweat and body heat were trapped inside my admittedly beautiful costume.  I experienced my first chaffing since becoming a runner, which I'm pretty sure means I get some sort of merit badge.  My iPod left a painful red patch on my inner arm. It made me feel pretty hardcore, so I probably showed it to way more people than necessary. (Um, like all of them?)

I ended with an official time of 31:01, with an average pace of 10:00 min per mile.  Since I was aiming for 11:00, I need to work on my pacing.  But I'm not going to pretend I'm unhappy with a faster time than I thought I would have. Because that's just stupid.

Just steps from the finish.  And in the middle of an exhale.
Rose stayed with Jackie the whole time, sacrificing a PR and coaching her through her first race.  A fellow runner sought out Rose after the race to share how encouraging it was to watch, and said she wished she had Rose to run with next time!  I love the running community.  Jackie (and Rose) finished in around 45 minutes and Lauren PR'd by about 5 minutes! (The person who won the entire race ran it in 15:03.  Yep. 15:03 - did I stutter? He passed me going in the opposite direction at the one mile mark well on his way to finishing. The dude was flying.) (But? His costume totally sucked ... so who's the *real* winner now, hmmm?)


What a great race and a fun time.  I can't wait for next year!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Goin' Halfsies On a Marathon

I'm not gonna lie.  Half marathon training is kicking my tush.

I still think it was a brilliant plan for me to transition seamlessly from triathlon training to half marathon training.  I do best when I have fitness goals that yield immediate results if I'm faithful (or not), and quite honestly, the temptation to skip my weekly long run only lasts long enough to remember that I have an even longer run the following week.  The promise of extra future misery is a great motivator.

Until now all my runs have been reasonable distances. The first two weeks of half training were filled with 3-5 mile runs.  Then a rude awakening; my first real "long" run : six miles.  Six miles is still a far distance for me. While I've run that distance a few times, it's not something I do once a week or even feel ready for at any moment.  It is still a bit mythical and scary; one of those runs I obsess over a few days before.  I was supposed to run it last Saturday, but with the logistics of the last day of vacation and traveling home, it just wasn't going to work.  Sunday was a no-go as well, because Brian and I stayed up way too late Saturday hashing out school year plans while I cried because I was feeling overwhelmed, so the morning was shot and the rest of our day was full.

I knew Monday was the day of reckoning. While waiting for Brian to come home from work I prepared a super healthful and delicious meal for my family (what - spaghettios don't count?) while downing a late afternoon glass of mocha iced coffee (my second for the day, but who's counting?), and when Brian stepped in, I stepped out.

Here is the unofficial transcript of that run.

First Steps: Walking to the end of my driveway

And it's back by popular demand.
"Dude.  This already sucks.  I'm pretty sure it's going to rain.  I hate running in the rain.  My glasses get all splattered.  I need tiny windshield wipers on my glasses for when I have to run in the rain.  Why hasn't anyone invented that yet? Running Fit could make a killing on that.  I'm sure every runner with glasses would wear them.  I mean, I've seen runners, and some of them aren't at all concerned with what they look like while running. Why can't I just get my act together and wear my contacts already?  I have a bajillion pairs.  Oh, here we go.  The end of the driveway. I have to actually run now.  Kelly, once you start running you can't stop for over an hour.  This first step is a huge commitment."

Begin running down my street

Sabotaging my run like a ninja. 
"Yep.  This is not fun.  And my heart is already pounding.  I'm pretty sure this is as close as I've ever felt to an anxiety attack.  I seriously can't breathe.  And with each step I'm getting farther and farther away from home. WITHOUT MY PHONE.  Doh!  Ohmylanta, I will have to shamefully beg a stranger to borrow their phone when I have to call and ask Brian to come pick me up because I am obviously dying.  Or I just drank too much coffee a few minutes ago.  But I'm sure it's not at all my sensitivity to caffeine that is causing me to feel shaky but really just stress because it's almost the school year and I have to get my crap together to teach the kiddos pretty soon."

(This is when I take a one mile interlude to mentally rearrange the furniture in my house to make it more "education-friendly" without turning my entire life into home school.  This interior design session ends with the revelation that we need all new furniture. For the entire house.)

(This is also when I make many mental notes: Google how to add a laminate kitchen table top to our existing table because refinishing that mess just will not do anymore; make a pro/con list for how mad it would make Brian if I painted the half bath without talking to him first; compose a compelling argument to present to the offspring to let them know we are getting rid of Mac-n-cheese lunches on Tuesdays because this whole "allergen free mac-n-cheese" business on a busy day just ain't happening. (Can you seriously imagine having to make from scratch dairy-free mac-n-cheese in the middle of a busy day?)(Being the Best Mother in the World is just not in the cards, it seems.)

Mile 2.5 - Running through a neighborhood of McMansions

I could put in some serious training
time to excel at that sport.
"Okay, so you aren't going to die.  Seriously, Kel. This is less than a 5k right now.  It only sucks in your mind.  Your body can totally do this.  In fact, you are a total Rock Star Bad-A.  Except for just now when you tripped on the pavement and said, "Ueeegh" in order to regain your balance because that's obviously how balance works ... you know, being controlled with verbal help and all. Good thing no one but that entire lawn crew of strapping young men saw you stumble. Aaaannnnd in about twenty feet or so you are going to have to run through their congregating mass loitering about the sidewalk.  This is a good time to cross the street.  But it might shave a little distance off my run distance! Then it won't be a SIX MILE RUN!  That's totally okay Kel, serious racers always find the shortest way to run the course; crossing the street here only makes you more like a professional athlete."

(*I cross the street* *I also try to make it appear as if I meant to do that all along and not just because these men all witnessed my gracefulness in action*)

Mile 3 - My iPod is mocking me

"Mumford and Sons is singing Lover's Eyes.  'I walk sloooooow, I walk slooooow....'  Very funny, iPod."

Mile 3.25 - Playing Chicken with a goose

It was exactly like this except
just one goose.
"Ummmm, Goose?  Dude, you are like fifteen feet away and you see me coming but you show no signs of vacating the sidewalk.  Maybe you didn't realize that I'm bigger than you and a human and you are on my turf.  I don't run in your pond. Seriously.  I'm now like ten feet away. WTHeck, Goose?  Have you no fear?  I'm a predator.  *audibly growl* *Goose looks at me like, "That all you got?"* Uummm, seriously, move.  It's my right of way. Ohmylanta, this goose is going to attack me. And I'm pretty sure that right now I could not outrun this goose.  Being the age of the cell phone camera, someone is going to record this goose attacking me and running me down as I attempt to flee.  I'm going to end up on YouTube.  And probably Jay Leno (which would totally be a conflict of interest because I already have a sweet deal with David Letterman).  Or maybe even Jimmy Fallon, which? would be sorta rad.  Because then I'd be one step closer to my six degrees of being best friends with Jimmy Fallon. TWO FEET AWAY! TWO FEET AWAY. Are we doing this, Goose?  BRING IT O- sweet, you moved.  We're totally cool."

Mile 4 - The Fake Out

"Ok, Kel, just make it to the stoplight. Then you can stop and rest while you wait for the light to change.  This is a super busy road and it's rush hour, so you should have a good amount of time to catch your breath.  Just ... make it ... to ... the light ... OH NO YOU DIDN'T JUST GIVE ME THE LITTLE WHITE MAN THE SECOND I GOT HERE."

Mile 5 - That Time I Got Passed by Dean Karnazes

Dean from behind. Which is how
I would see him if we ran together.
"Kelly, you just ran 6 miles? That's
cute.  I'm running 600. See you at
the finish."
"This is kind of nice.  I'm in the home stretch.  Sure, I'm slowing down a bit, but I'm still going to finish well.  I've had some time to myself, breathing in some fresh air, feeling a slight breeze tickle my beet red face. This might even be a tad relaxi- OHMYLANTA, SLOW DOWN, DUDE. You can't just run up behind a girl with her iPod playing and race past her like a BAT OUT OF HELL.(Meatloaf begins singing in my head "Paradise By the Dashboard Light" drowning out Cypress Hill who "Ain't Goin' Out Like That" which is quite a feat.) That guy who left me in the dust looks just like my legendary running hero Dean Karnazes.  Like a much taller Dean.  A Dean with longer - and lighter - hair.  A Dean who is 30 pounds of heavier. So really, he looks nothing like Dean at all, except that this guy was fast as well.  Guess what, bro? You get in your 6 miles in 30 minutes, I'll get my 6 miles in 60ish, but at the end of the day we are both logging 6 miles. AWWWWW SNAP."


"I totally just ran six miles.  LIKE A BOSS.  I can't wait to do a 7 mile run in six more days.  Awesome."  

I collapse after I stretch and ice like a good girlThe end.

This loveliness is after a 4 mile run during The Great Cottage Get-Away of 2013.  This is totally what I looked like after six miles except I looked like I ran the original 4 miles plus 100 more.  Effortlessly.
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