Friday, May 26, 2017

Dreaming Wide

Marathon Day was splendid.  It was a great race with even greater company.  I can't wait to tell you all about it.  In the meantime, here are some personal reflections from my journal.

Saturday I ran the Ogden marathon.  It was fantastic.  Beautiful and empowering.  It was also a bit of an eye opening experience.  I realized that despite this niggling that maybe, just maybe, I could eventually qualify for Boston with a little more effort (after all, I cut twelve minutes off my time between my first and second marathons), that’s not realistically going to happen.  Instead of cutting another twelve minutes, I added twenty-five.  And that’s just fine.

I’m not saying that I could never qualify for Boston.  However, I do believe that given my height and natural ability, achieving a Boston qualifying time would require an immense amount of training and all of my focus.  In a moment of clarity, I had a very enlightening revelation—it’s not worth it.  When you marry into an extended family like mine, it’s easy to feel pressured to try and qualify because, hey, everybody’s doing it.  Just as I felt liberated during the marathon by the realization that I don’t have to run every step, I don’t have to qualify for Boston—and I am not the slightest bit diminished by this choice.

I feel this lovely sense of excitement and anticipation as I ponder all the interests and talents I might develop besides marathon running.  With Boston off the list, what new goals can I set?  Brooklyn would love to do a triathlon.  I am so excited to train with her!  Talia is likewise eager for another half marathon—fun!   Salt Lake has so many beautiful trails to hike and explore.  Let’s backpack!  Wouldn’t it be great to give mountain biking a go?  Or if I want to stick with running, how about some trails?  There is an ice skating rink just up the street, and the local rec center offers log rolling classes. 

On a different note, I’d love to pick up the guitar alongside Brooklyn and spend some more time playing piano.  I’d like to spend some quality time with Eli on the violin, plus there’s a french horn in my closet just gathering dust.  It would take an awful lot of courage, but what if I pulled it out?  After all, there was a long period in my life when horn was a crucial part of my personal identity. 

On the domestic front, I have a hankering to learn how to knit and crochet so that I can share the experience with Talia.  Flowers make me happy, so I’d like to plant a garden and overcome my fear that any plant I touch will die.  Tomatoes?  Salsa.  Basil?  Pesto.  Such possibilities!   (Speaking of which, I have strawberries in the fridge that are just waiting to be made into jam.)

Professionally, I am eager (and nervous) to jump back into teaching.  I miss my students from all over the world.  I also long to contribute to our family income.   Or what if I went out on a limb completely and returned to school for a nursing degree, as I’ve talked about for years.

Without the pressure to run faster, I feel free to dream wider.  And oh, what lovely grand dreams!

Mother Nature Cries "April Fools!"

(Post written about a week ago...)

Around 3:00 am last night, the entire house woke up because of a noisy wind storm with rain, hail, and yes, snow.  It definitely reminded me of the April  storm when Mother Nature decided to play a joke on our family.

Around 12:30 am on April 1st, Jason and I were settling into bed, listening to the wind howl.  We had just finished praying that our house would be protected when we heard this loud crack. Jason immediately jumped up to see what had happened.  I, on the other hand, snuggled in deeper, preferring to  literally bury my head and ignore the problem.

Jason came back and told me that a huge limb had fallen from our locust tree.  While he wanted me to come see, I chose to stay put, knowing that I would only worry, and that the problem would still be there for me to examine in the morning.

It was.

Since the tree fell on some electric lines, we called the power company immediately.  The man who came out in the middle of the night took one look and said, "That's definitely more tree than I can handle!  I'll send a crew out in the morning."

While we didn't lose power initially, the lines were pulled nearly to the ground and the poles were bent from all the tension.  When the power company cut the lines so that tree work could begin, the cables sprang like a slingshot.

Our trampoline took quite a hit.  Still, it's quite miraculous that the tree fell right between our home and the neighbor's without damaging either.  Its fall was softened by crashing into a different neighbor's pine on the way down.

Still quite the mess to deal with.  (Do you like Snow White with her rubber rain boots?)

We learned a thing or two through this whole experience.  1.  Tree work is frightfully expensive.  2.  Insurance doesn't pay well for it.  Our policy would cover up to $500 per tree for tree removal, after we paid a $1000 deductible.  Sigh.  Needless to say, we didn't file a claim.  I guess that's what emergency slush funds are for.

A view from the upstairs window during the clean-up process.

The kids thought it was great fun watching them top the tree from the cherry picker.

In the end, we decided to save a few thousand dollars by having the tree company leave a fifteen foot trunk.  Who knows?  It could make a marvelous totem.  :)

Even after the tree company left, there was still a lot of work to be done.  Fortunately I have a handy husband who was able to rebuild the fence, as well as fix the soffit where the power lines had pulled it down.

Hey Eli, you are way cuter than a fence post!

Despite the drama, our April Fools traditions continued.  The kids ate cocoa puffs out of doggy bowls for breakfast.

For dinner, we enjoyed these special tacos.  For those wondering, these are golden Oreo shells filled with a combination of chocolate Oreos and Nutella for the meat, green coconut for the lettuce, Starbursts for the grated cheese, and Hot Tamales for the tomatoes.  While adorable, these tacos are far too much work for one person to assemble.  Fortunately, the kids were great helpers.

The rest of our April Fools meal got postponed because we couldn't use our oven until the power got turned back on.  Once things were up and running again the next day, we made this tasty pizza bundt cake. (That's melted provolone frosting the top.)

The best part of our April Fools weekend was getting to attend the Sunday morning session of General Conference.  After so much chaos, it was remarkable to feel the Spirit and peace of this meeting.

I feel so lucky these gals call me Mom.

So many thanks to Grandpa Charles and Grandma Susie who came down to watch Annie and Eli so that we could attend conference.  In all of her awesomeness, Susie brought Conference Bingo, complete with Swedish Fish to use as markers.  Be it the spirit or the sugar, the experience was definitely sweet...
....and that's no joke!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Taper

Three more days!

For better or worse, in seventy-two hours the Ogden Marathon will be a thing of the past (although sore muscles and achy joints will certainly be very present.)

During these final days of taper before the actual race, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the journey.  After all, marathon training is more about the process than the final result.  While Jason has high aspirations (and an awesome likelihood) to qualify for Boston, I'm simply not in that league.  My motto for this race is an unusual one: "Non nocere"--Latin for, to do no harm.  While I certainly don't wish to damage my body physically, that's not really what I'm talking about.  The training process for a marathon is intense.  Despite the rigorous schedule, I've wanted to keep life in balance for both myself and my family.  I've done my best to schedule long runs during spaces when they are least disruptive.  While this marathon is definitely a major focus, I hope it hasn't become an obsession. After all, my primary purpose in running is to improve my emotional and physical health.  Marathon training has the potential to help with both, but only if you keep things in perspective.

Come Saturday, I'm hoping to keep "non nocere" in mind.  While I certainly want to do my best, there's no real purpose in pushing myself so hard that I am left shredded and physically ill.  There are some photos from the end of my last Utah Valley marathon where you can see my leg muscles twitching uncontrollably and out of sync from such extreme exhaustion.  That can't be healthy.  While I'm proud of that 3:50 personal record, I'm certainly not planning to beat it.  Instead, I plan on setting a new Personal Record for the longest time I've ever endured on the race course.  Lately I've been running a pretty consistent 10 minute mile.  If I finish any time shy of four hours and thirty minutes, I should be tickled pink for having run a great race.  While there are no guarantees, I'm hopeful that a slower finish will result in a little less suffering after.

In the meantime, it's time to celebrate the journey.  After all, over the last eighteen weeks I've progressed from an eight-mile long-run to a twenty miler.  I've logged 467 miles over 72 training runs without missing a single one.  Add in the 26 mile marathon, plus the extra tidbits here and there and we can call it an even 500.  Wow!  That's something to celebrate.

Here is a bucket list of runs to remember, in no particular order:

  • Winter runs in the slush and snow.  I recall wishing that I had ski goggles as I ran through Federal Heights in a snowstorm.  I remember giggling like crazy when Jason actually wore ski goggles during one of his runs.  I recall wading through a snow bank up to my thigh during a run through the cemetery, and boy do I ever remember drenching my foot in icy water as I sunk through a snow-covered rivulet.
  • Running through a downpour up City Creek Canyon until the rain turned into snow.  The trail was a veritable worm massacre, plus my leggings got so soaked that they kept falling down.  Even so, this was one of my favorite runs.  As the snow fell in big fat flakes, everything grew still and peaceful, blanketed in white.  
  • Running in the Washington rain.   Were it not drizzling, I might have seen Mount Rainier in the distance.  Instead, I felt grateful for the raincoat Callie lent me and did my best not to drip blood on it after I re-opened a small wound caused by my clumsiness with a kitchen knife.  The good news about all this running in the rain and snow is that I should be well-prepared for Ogden, which has a reputation for awful weather.
  • Toilet Texts.  My stomach has an unfortunate tendency to give me trouble when I run, so I've made a variety of unexpected pit stops, ranging from the grocery store and the rec center to Les Madeleines and the visitor's center at Temple Square.  Jason has received a wide assortment of toilet texts, all letting him know that I will be later than expected getting home.
  • Potty Emergencies.  Speaking of tummy troubles, there have been those few unspeakable moments when waiting until I found a restroom simply wasn't an option.  I'm embarrassed to admit that I have graced a few unwitting bushes from Washington to Salt Lake.  There was even a time during my twenty miler when I looked at the shrubbery in the middle of a downtown parking lot and wondered if it would provide sufficient cover.  (You'll be glad to know that I ultimately decided no.)  Talk about desperate!
  • Gorgeous spring blossoms on Temple Square
  • Tripping in front of the courthouse and getting a bloody knee just a mile into a long run.  Proud to say I stuck with it.
  • Running wounds, ranging from bra line welts to the embarrassing hiney chafe.  
  • Discovering this man blowing giant bubbles in Memory Grove.
  • Exploring downtown and discovering new places like the Urban gardens and Gallivan Center.
  • Water breaks at ASSIST and the Joseph Smith Memorial Building
  • Miles of flat along the Jordan River Trail, accompanied by some beautiful sections of marsh.
  • Discovering the Harvard Yale Neighborhood
  • Running around Liberty Park with its natural spring that gives water all year round.
  • Indoor runs on the treadmill (dreadmill) or else on the short indoor track where fifteen laps equal a mile
  • Sunset views of the Capitol building
  • Lots of wildlife, ranging from deer and birds in the cemeteries to the occasional carcass.
  • Crossing paths with wild turkeys during long runs around Lake Zorinsky on Omaha's West Papio trail
  • Running through City Creek and having a woman stop to tell me that the run was even more beautiful than the trails in her hometown of Denver.
  • Running with Talia, whether up Federal Heights to the medical center or past President's Circle to the Olympic Torch.  She is without a doubt my favorite running partner.
  • Trail running through Memory Grove and City Creek, jumping puddles when it got too muddy.
  • Running an impromptu Law Day 5K at the U of U when a woman offered me her bib since she was withdrawing.  I finished the race, then kept on trekking for another nine miles or so.  My only regret is that I accidentally placed third after assuring her that I was so slow that I wouldn't place at all.  Little did I know she was registered for the stroller division!
  • Super challenging runs on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.  One "easy" run up Dry Wash turned out to be miles longer than anticipated when my fitbit didn't accurately track my mileage. Another run through the trails behind Red Butte Gardens and the Natural History Museum was so rugged that I had to walk sections and ultimately cut it a bit short.  At least it was beautiful.

All in all, I’m extremely grateful for this positive marathon training experience.  Not only have I been injury-free, but it’s encouraged me to get out in nature and fully experience our lovely neighborhood in the foothills.  There are moments when it’s difficult to get started because no matter which way I head, I will face hills on the way out or back.  When I run diagonally, it somehow feels like I run uphill both ways!  Challenging as all these hills are, I know I am stronger because of them.   

And thanks to my family for being so supportive through this long process.  Brooklyn has been particularly amazing, regularly babysitting on Saturday mornings so that Jason and I can run together.  Peanut Butter, thank you for your faith and encouragement.  I love you and know you'll rock this race!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Mark it Off: March

Are you curious to learn how we finished out the March?  Probably not, but I'm gonna share these pictures anyway because then I can move onto April when things got super hairy just a few hours into the month.

Even though the weather never got super warm, Annika decided that it was time to pull out her old swimsuit and fill the kiddie pool.  Gonna take awhile with that watering can!

We went to the Leonardo during Brain Awareness week where we enjoyed snacks, made oobleck...

...and held a human brain.

The neuroscience student volunteers did an admirable job with their in-depth explanations, both answering and posing questions to encourage reflection.  You'll be glad to know that the brains were handled with care and respect instead of casually passed from person to person.

Out of doors, the kids and I spent a Friday afternoon at Red Butte Gardens.  With so many navigators, there was no fear of getting lost.

The daffodils were just beginning to appear, and my--did this magnolia smell magnificent!

March found us playing at parks...

...and with our friends.  Annika and this adorable redhead Lizzie have a playdate every Wednesday.

Spring blossoms make my heart sing.  These gorgeous trees live in the cemetery just down the street from our home.

Talia takes a peaceful moment to reflect.

Daddy Jason turned 37 in March.  Given our busy schedule for the day, the poor man didn't get spoiled at all.  He even made his own birthday cake!

Instead, the womenfolk abandoned him on the 25th.  Susie, Talia, Brooklyn, and I all headed Temple Square to attend Women's Conference.

It was marvelous to be there in person.  We felt so grateful Susie was able to get tickets, especially since we've had several disappointing experiences with the standby line.

Emerson's annual art show was another highlight for the month.

Eli was particularly excited to show us the dinosaur he made.  He's looking mighty dapper all dressed up for his class performance in the talent show.

Our little man is growing up fast, although every once in a while he prefers to be the baby.
And there you have it. March. It went out like a lamb; now wait 'til you see how April came roaring in like a lion.