Sunday, June 28, 2009

Rock N' Roll 1/2 Marathon

I did it. I ran 13.1 miles!

It was a definite challenge.

It was exhilarating.

I'll do it again...just not anytime too soon. I'm way too sore for that kind of craziness.

I've always been in awe of marathon runners but I now have an even greater respect for them after running only half of their distance. In that last mile as I thought my legs may give out on the rest of my body, I swore--with Stephanie as my witness--that I would never attempt the full 26. I don't know how it's humanly possible.

Jon woke at 5:30 am yesterday morning and drove us to the starting line in Tukwila. He pointed to the distant Seattle skyline and said, "You're going to run to those buildings." They really did seem so far away. It wasn't the first time in the last few months that I wondered at my sanity. After all, I've worked more recently than I have at any time in the last decade. It wasn't the most convenient time to push my body to new limits but the sense of accomplishment was ever so worth it.

Here we are at the start of the race. I was definitely nervous.

I was really impressed with the organization of the whole event. Our gear was shuttled to the finish line via UPS trucks. It was so funny to see them all lined up in a row. We were assigned one of 25 trucks according to the alphabetical order of our last name.

I've never seen so many porta-potties in my life! Row and rows of potties for lines and lines of runners. We waited for quite some time for our turn to use the blessed things.

The course was Seattle scenery at its best. Many miles were run right along Lake Washington. The weather was ideal; sunny and 70 degrees.

At mile 9, the course turned into the I-90 tunnel. It was a good sized hill getting into the tunnel but that was only the beginning of a difficult part of the course for me. It was dark and extremely humid inside the tunnel. Since this was a Rock N'Roll marathon, there was a live band every mile. One of the bands was located at the end of the tunnel which created a loud reverberating noise throughout. I'm a sweaty pig to begin with, but that tunnel about did me in. I started to sweat profusely, and my wet palms couldn't wipe the perspiration from my face fast enough. It was such a relief to feel the rush of fresh air once we left the confines of the tunnel. Unfortunately, most of the remaining three miles were hard after that.

I did feel good coming down the freeway ramp into downtown Seattle. I could see the finish and felt the thrill from the cheering crowds of people. At that point I told Stephanie, "I hope my family came." I knew Jon was going to come to pick us up but I wasn't sure my family would make the trek and brave the throngs of people. But not more than 1/2 mile later, I saw my two oldest kids and Jon holding signs and cheering me on. I was so glad to see them...except that I was horrified by Alyssa's hair. She had day-old french braids that had been through a three hour gymnastics workout and then a full night against the pillow. I couldn't believe her daddy brought her without running a brush through her hair!

Shortly after passing my fans, I saw the mile 12 marker ahead and seriously started to wonder if my legs would carry me to the finish. I wasn't in any pain but just felt general weakness in my legs. It felt as though they had a mind of their own and were contemplating collapse at any moment. I slowed just a bit and willed myself to run one final mile.

I crossed the finish line at 1:53:33, averaging an 8:40 mile pace.

I felt so good. So tired, but so good.

The "after" picture.

My cheerleaders and their cute signs. The posters were given out the day before the race at the health expo where we picked up our race packets. They had fun decorating them and I loved seeing them.

I came home to a cute sign on the house from Natalie. She stayed home with Grandma and Grandpa. Special thanks to them for watching her and for providing my night-before carbo load and race day celebration meals. And, a thorough rubbing of my sore feet by Grandma.

My legs are hurting today. There were many signs along the route that said, "Pain is temporary, pride is forever." So true. The pride of the accomplishment is certainly worth the pain.

Here's to Rock'n and Roll'n again in 2010!

Monday, June 22, 2009

For Sale

The economy may be down but our business is booming!

We decided to try peddling some yummy goods to the fans in the Parks-and-Rec baseball stands. Caleb plays ball while the girls sell the sweets. The older and much more reserved of the sales-girls quietly instructs the younger to use her boisterous voice to attract the customers.

"COOKIES! Cookies for 25 cents!"

They sold out in about 30 min. And came home with $12.75 in pocket change.

Friday, June 19, 2009

See Ya Later, Alligator

The arrival of summer means I don’t have to sub anymore. It also means that I will begin coaching in the mornings, opening my evening hours for quality family time and simple pleasures like sit-down dinners around the kitchen table. But—the most difficult of my realities to accept—it means my boy is now a middle schooler.

True to school tradition, the student body sang “See Ya Later, Alligator” to the fifth graders at the conclusion of today's end-of-year assembly. We attended the event to support Caleb as he received an academic achievement award. I was teary all day, but when the students waved, “good bye, fifth grade” as the oldest of the students filed out the back door, I bawled like a baby. I don’t like change in general but both Caleb and I are uncomfortable with the prospect of middle school. This moment has come much too soon.

It’s been a good school year. Both of the kids had good teachers. Caleb’s teacher was a bit hyper-intensive but overall, her structure and organization—even if it did border on OCD—was just what he needs. Alyssa had job-sharing teachers which means each worked only part-time. Mrs. King taught Mondays and Tuesdays and Mrs. Cole taught Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays alternated between the two. I really liked both of them as people and as teachers.

Caleb and Mrs. Rottle

Mrs. King, Alyssa and Mrs. Cole

I’m always annoyed by the amount of workbooks, folders crammed with papers and left-over school supplies the kids bring home at the end of year. Alyssa even declared, “I think my backpack weighs more than me. “ Where am I supposed to put all of that stuff? Caleb’s pencil box did give me a good laugh though…

Clearly this is a boy who: (a) has a pencil sharpening obsession and (b) struggles to throw things away. I can’t say I’m surprised.

(Please don’t let him get eaten alive in middle school.)

Whether I like it or not, my little boy walked right out that elementary school door today.

After while, Crocodile. Hope to see you in awhile.

The Forbidden Fruit

I’ve been making a lot of strawberry bouquets. With so many people to thank for helping me with childcare, teacher gifts and other recognitions, I think I’ve made at least 11 of them.

The other day as I dipped strawberries, I had to swat Alyssa’s hand from the chocolate. The tray of ripe red fruit draped in smooth milk chocolate was just at her eye level. She salivated. She placed her hand on her tummy and whispered, “I’m so tempted.”

I had to give in. I know just how those temptations feel. I couldn’t deny her the joy of chocolate dipped strawberries.

I didn’t capture her enjoying her strawberry but I did get a quick picture of Natalie’s chocolate-covered face.

Too bad I didn’t have time to do her hair.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The 13th Year is Over

I’ve never been superstitious. I’ve got no problem walking under the ladder when it’s more convenient than going around. It often makes more sense to open the umbrella indoors so that its protection is already in place before stepping into the rain, and my disdain for cats applies to all shapes and colors—not just the black ones. Recently, however, we realized the reality of a particular superstition in our lives. (I share this, mind you, very tongue-in-cheek.)

A few months ago, as Jon and I were trying to be strong and find humor in the multiple unlucky situations in which we found ourselves, it occurred to me that we were coming up on our thirteenth anniversary. We were most likely involved in a jigsaw puzzle--because that's what we did to help pass those long days of unemployment--when I suddenly declared, “That’s it, Jon! I know why this has been such a difficult year for our family. We’re in our thirteenth year of marriage. It’s that unlucky number thirteen.”

We decided that once June 7th arrived, we’d officially begin our fourteenth year and thus our bad luck would have to come to an end. But this was several months ago and June 7th seemed so far away. Would we really have to endure that much longer?

After several long and trying months, good things have certainly begun to come our way. Though it’s fun to talk about the coincidence of this superstition, we attribute these things to be a direct result of prayer and fasting, not to a number on the calendar.

Our anniversary is a time to reflect on all we’ve experienced in our marriage. Last night over an amazing Italian dinner, we made several “top five” lists. We talked about our top five defining moments (several of which come from the last six months), top five romantic moments, and so on. I am reminded that there’s no one, absolutely no one, I’d rather experience those moments with than the man I married thirteen years ago today. This difficult thirteenth year has made me that much more grateful for the relationship we have with each other.

June 7th, 1996 was without question the most important day of my life and marrying Jon was the best decision I ever made. I’m still not superstitious. An unlucky thirteenth year is nothing more than coincidence. But marrying Jon was anything but. And I’m not ashamed to be sappy.

Happy Anniversary, Honey! Here’s to year 14 and whatever that may bring!

(Did I just say that? Please, oh please let it be a calm one. )