Never Run in Below Freezing Temps!

I love running.

It is true; I am one of those crazy people that love to go out for a jog.  There is nothing better than putting on my running gear, lacing up my brightly colored Asics, attaching a Garmin watch to my wrist and placing the ear buds with my specially designed running playlist pumping through them in my ears.  Stepping outside in the early morning with the sun just over the horizon and breathing in the cool fresh air.  As the sun starts to peak over the roof tops and filter through the leaves, I get those last few minute stretches in while the Garmin locates satellites.  It is the feeling that it is just me against the world.  After playing team sports, such as softball and soccer all through high school, it is a nice change of pace to only depend on my capabilities.

If I have a great run, it is because I put in the sweat and training hours.  Every once in a while, I have a bad run and I cannot put that blame on a fellow team member.  A bad run only motivates me to become a stronger and better runner.  However, even a bad run is better than no run.

The feeling of waking up on a race day brings back memories of competing in a softball or soccer game.  The competitiveness spurs down in the pit of my stomach.  However, the only opponent I am competing against is a previous time I have set.  To me, there are no losers in a 5k, 10k, half marathon or marathon.  Everybody who took time to put in training hours, lace up their shoes and hit the pavement that morning is already a winner.  However, my goal is to always improve on my time or, in the least, stay consistent.

It has been a struggle getting back into running shape after having a baby.  Also, I may have been too ambitions to lose the baby weight as fast as possible.  None the less, I completed my first half marathon nine and half months after having a baby.  The feeling of crossing the finish line with dad, while my husband and son cheered us on, will be a memory that I will cherish forever.  The runners high felt so strong that I decided to sign up for a second half marathon five weeks later.  All I had to do was maintain my running stamina for a few more weeks and the half should be a piece of cake.

As the weeks inched closer, the weather took a turn from beautiful fall weather to bitter cold.  The dawn of my much anticipated half rose to a meekly 12 degrees.  By the time I was expecting to finish the race, the temps should have jumped to a whopping 18 degrees.  My feeling of competitiveness that morning disappeared and it was replaces by hesitation.  Never had I completed a race in these bitter cold temperatures, let alone run three miles.  Luckily, my husband and dad braved the cold weather to cheer me on and provide words of encouragement.

The race started out like any other race that I have ran.  Once the crowd had finished counting down, us runners jolted forward only to be slowed down to a walk until we crossed the starting line.  Puffs of white clouds emitted for the lips of all the runners are we started our first few steps.  During this time, I spotted a woman in a bright pink running jacket that I deemed to be my pace girl.  I could tell she was slightly faster than me and if I could keep her in my sights, whether she knew it or not, she was going to motivate me to run my best.  Shortly after completing the first mile, I felt a slapping against my leg and found my left shoe had come untied.  I veered off to my right, unclenched my pink and black gloved fist and tried to tie my shoe as fast as my numb fingers would allow.  It was a relief to look up and spot that bright pink jacket was still in catching up distance.  I closed the gap and felt great doing so.  As the first water stop approached, I looked down at my Garmin and noticed that it was only 1.6 miles into the race.  With this water stop being so early on, I decided to skip it and hit the next one a few miles away.  Bright pink jacket girl had also skipped the first water stop.  I knew that I would have to stop at the next water stop, and by the time I approached it, I notice there was a line of runners waiting for water.  There were two volunteers trying to pour water as fast as possible, but with it being so cold outside, the water was partly frozen.  During the wait, I decided that if water breaks were going to be this backed up, I was not going complete my time goal so I should just run for fun.  After I chugged my half frozen water, I threw the small green Gatorade cup to the side and took off running.  The wait for water was long enough for my sweat to freeze over.  Therefore, as I took up jogging and realizing that I lost bright pink jacket girl, the immense cold hit me.  This race was not going to be as fast and easy as I was expecting it to be.

From looking at the elevation map, I knew that mile six through seven was going to be all up hill.  Normally, hills are a nuisance but not horrible.  There has always been a sense of accomplishment after running up a long hard hill.  The only feeling I felt after completing the mile long hill was pain.  From the intense below freezing temperatures, my knees and hips became stiff and painful.  I was beyond grateful to see my husband and dad cheering me on around the nine mile marker that it gave me a boost of confidence that I needed.  That confidence, however, quickly ran out two miles later when the stabbing pain in my joints won and I had to slow down to a walk.  Not only are my goals to improve my time or stay consistent, I also never try and walk unless visiting a water station.  My knees, hips and left thigh were so broken down that I could not run another step.  For the next mile and a half, I alternated between jogging and walking.  My husband and dad met me along the trail with a quarter of a mile left and ran with me to the finish line.  It is another memorable finish that I will always remember.

Today, a day after this hard and painful run, I am sore all over and discovered that I have pulled a groin muscle.  I will never look down on a football player that decides to sit on a bench instead of playing through a muscle ache.  The most valuable lesson that I learned from this experience, is that no matter how much I love running, I hate running in 12 degree weather.  If I ever sign up for a race and the weather decides to take a dip, I will pick up my t-shirt and stay in my cozy warm bed come race morning!

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Sleep? Who has time for sleep?

“There are never enough hours in the day.”

This is a statement that I am sure we have all heard many times.  Personally, I used this statement religiously in college when I waited until the night before a test to start studying.  Or, when I started working a “big girl” job and was away from home most of the day.  It has always been a struggle to try and fit in cleaning, cooking, laundry and running during the few free hours in the evening.  Plus, I was grumpy if I did not get at least eight hours of sleep every night.  My husband can contest to that.  He would often gibe at me, “If you are this grumpy only getting seven hours of sleep, how are you going to handle having a baby.”  Ahhh…. I took everything for granted in my kid free days.

In my kid free days, I would roll out of bed around six in the morning.  I had plenty of time to shower, drink coffee, get ready, drink coffee, make breakfast, drink coffee and check facebook while drinking coffee.  After work, I could squeeze in a four to five mile run, make dinner, watch my favorite T.V. shows and catch up on chores.  Looking back, life seemed so simple then.  However, I remember that I consistently felt stressed about the daunting list of tasks.

Now, that dreaded beeping sound starts at 5:15 in the morning.  Three snooze buttons later, I stumble out of the covers around 5:30 and the race against the clock starts.  The race that happnes every morning, Monday through Friday, consists of can I get ready for work before Little Man wakes up?  There are mornings I lose before I even make it out of bed.  Some mornings the crying sound echoes through the baby monitor five minutes before my alarm is set to go off.  On these mornings, I stumble to the shower and let my husband handle baby duties at 5:10 in the morning.  It is damn near impossible to run after a 10 month old (who is learning to walk) with an eye lash curler attached to one eye.  On a normal morning, Little Man wakes up around 6:30, which gives me one hour to get completely ready for work in the dark (as to not wake my sleeping husband) with a half-awake brain.  

Notice from my pre-kid days how much leisure time I had to enjoy a nice cup of coffee in the morning?  In today’s hectic morning routine, I am lucky to get half a cup down before I need to head out the door.  As I was cleaning the coffee maker one morning, I yelled at my husband “I now understand why so many people drink Starbucks; I do not have time for this!”  In all actuality, it takes five minutes to clean the coffee maker, but with my race against the clock, those are five precious minutes I could use surfing facebook!  Fortunately, my husband understands my obsession with coffee and made a cute coffee travel mug complete with pictures of our family.  Coffee manages to stay toasty warm until I can enjoy it on my trek into work. 

After I make it home from a long day at work, there are the countless chores that need to be completed.  If I could hire a nanny to just do laundry, clean the kitchen and bathrooms, I would be in heaven.  The internal battle of should I clean the house or play with little man spurs up every night.  I always have good intentions to conquer the list once he goes to sleep, but there are nights that the couch is just too comfy.  These are the nights that my wonderful husband tries to help out around the house.  For example, last week he started laundry for me by putting every bath towel that we own in the washer.  It never made it from the washer to the dryer that night.  Trying to dry myself off, in the dark, while half-awake is not simple. 

Somewhere between 8:30 and 10pm, I manage to make my way back to the bedroom and relax in a mixture of a fluffy comforter with clouds of pillow.  Do not be fooled by the 8:30 time.  If I do make it that far at 8:30, I have escaped whatever sporting event that has taken over the big T.V. in the living room to catch up on countless of hours of my favorite T.V. shows.  Eventually, I will drift off into dreamland for a few hours before Missy claims my legs as her pillow or I hear a cough drift through the baby monitor.  At this point, I will glance at the green numbers and calculate how many more hours I can squeeze in before the dreaded beeping starts over again.  If anybody deserved to have more hours in the day, it would be working parents with small kids! 

First Birthday is only 2 MONTHS AWAY… Eeeek!

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As my husband and I were pouring through toy magazines trying to figure out what to get our 10 month old for Christmas, it hits me!  We also need to put together a birthday list since his birthday is only two weeks after Christmas!  How is possible that my baby boy is almost one?  With our mind on the holidays, we have pushed back the thought of a birthday party.    

Thanks to Pinterest, I have a million of ideas for a baby’s first birthday party.  First things first, we need to decide on a birthday theme, date and time.  I suggest the Saturday after his actual birthday to have family and friends over.  However, that Saturday the Chiefs could potentially be in the playoffs and Kansas plays K-State in basketball that afternoon.  Do not worry; it was my husband who pointed out the sports conflicts with our son’s birthday party.  So I suggest that we have a sports themed birthday party starting late morning and if guests would like to stay after to watch any of the potential games, so be it.  His thoughts went to, nobody is going to come to his birthday party if the Chiefs are in the playoffs and Kansas has a big game.  I won battle number one, as his birthday party will be the Saturday after his first birthday, no matter what games are going on.

Second, I need to make the invites!  Every well respected mom that works 40+ hours a week, of course has time to make the invites.  I am going to make cute little football and basketball shaped cards with his picture in the middle.  On the flip side will be all the information about the party in a fun, yet boyish, font.  I have a Cricut so cutting out the shapes will take me no time at all.  Now, I need to pick a night or a weekend that I can dedicate to work on the invites.  However, I should send the invites out this weekend.  With the holiday’s right around the corner, I want to give people plenty of notice.  Between training for a half marathon, in the midst of painting the house and taking care of a family, I have zero time to make invites.  Thank you tinyprints for having a wonderful football themed first birthday invites.  I gave in and lost this battle.

Third, I need to figure out what fun sport themed food I can make for the birthday party.  I could do an array of finger food cut into little football and basketball shapes.  His cake could be in the shape of a football and I can make a smaller cake for the guests.  A football cake cannot be that difficult to make, right?  However, walking around Sam’s Club this weekend, my husband and I found deli trays, veggie trays and football cupcakes.  How much easier would it be to just pickup food instead making it myself?  This one is still up in the air.

Last, we need to figure out the perfect gift to give our soon-to-be one year old!  Of course, being his parents, we have to outdo everybody else!  It does not matter that he would be happy with a box full of wrapping paper.  Out of all the things that we could potentially screw up parenting wise that will require him to go through counseling down the road, is his first complaint going to be his first birthday?  Being the thrifty man my husband is becoming, he found a little tikes goal for five bucks on Craigslist.  Perfect for the sports themed birthday party!  My husband and I even tested it out playing P-I-G one evening after little man went to bed.  Missy girl was not too happy that we were using her angry pig toy as a basketball.  I won the game of pig, score is now 2-1-1 (I am including the food as a tie since I have not fully made up my mind)!  Of course, we will get a few other things, but I don’t think anything will top the hours of entertainment we will all get (Missy included) from the basketball goal. 

His first birthday may not be Pinterest worthy to some, but we will make it the best birthday party that he will never remember!

 

*Photo by Kendra Gough Photography