Friday, April 3, 2015

The one where I ran a lot and then I didn't

So you're not left hanging, the final recap of my running career...

The thing about running is that it's a great idea on paper. You get a great cardiac workout, it helps with losing weight, you create endorphins and that elusive runner's high. The Couch to 5K program is a wonderful premise, and probably works for a bunch of people. Indeed, I was not one of them. Surprising to anyone who knows me? Not so much. To be fair, I started 3 weeks late in my training and the 5k came up before I had finished. But come hell or high water, I was running the Chocoholic Frolic!

The morning was a bit chilly, maybe 45ish outside. It was November after all and I was happy we didn't have snow or ice. The course ran through part of lowertown St Paul, across the Wabasha bridge and finished on Harriet Island. I had my official number, a timing chip, my good shoes, the best gear I had and the will to finish. I also made myself a sign. It said Stage IV won't stop me today! What's stopping you?" and a link to A bit heavy-handed? Anyway I thought maybe it would inspire me not to quit. Truthfully it was incredibly inspiring to get smiles, cheers and high fives along the route so I'm glad I wasn't too chicken to do it.

My friend Melissa met up with me at the beginning. She ran on to get her personal best and cheered me on at the finish. Yay! I also found my friend Annette and her friend Paula at the starting gate and we kept pace off and on throughout the race. More on that later. My previous running experience involved an extensive walking warmup and some stretching before hitting stride. Of course when there's a thousand or so people in a crowded street, we got in a few attempts at Zumba from some well-meaning fit person above the crowd. I tried to jump up and down and get my legs limbered up but I knew I was not getting enough. Still though, I was going to do this or die trying. Here's the starting gate. Imagine a thousand people crammed in, waiting for the starting gun. (number is approximate, it felt like ten thousand)
Here's Paula and Annette. In fact it was Paula who posted on Annette's FB timeline about the race, which is how I got hooked.
The starting gun goes off and we are going! I feel the adrenaline pumping but I stick to what I think is a good pace. I've got the Spotify mix from my training, urging me along. So far, so good. Less than a mile in and it's the first pit stop. At the bottom of the tallest hill ever. (probably not as tall as the Quick Bix hill honestly, but that was at the very start of the race) The greedy fast runners had filled their pockets with the chocolate goodies so I passed up the empty boxes and took some water instead. Seriously, greedy people. And I wasn't even the last runner by a long shot at this point!

After a little time up the hill, I realized I was not going to be happy if I ran all the way to the top of the hill. As in, I would either pass out or throw up. Deciding not to torture myself was an easy decision and I walked to the top. Once up on the bridge, I started running again and was shortly passed by a woman who cheered me on by saying "I've been trying to catch up to you for 20 minutes, you're amazing!" Nothing like a good feeling to keep you going! I can't remember if she kept up with me or passed me. Probably passed me but at that point I was looking at the ground in front of me. Just keep swimming...

Meanwhile Annette and Paula were doing more of a fast run, slow to walking, repeat, pace so I saw them on and off until Harriet Island. At that point, Annette decided to walk and Paula ran with me. So helpful! The rest of the pit stops had tables of scattered boxes empty of chocolate until the last stop where they had already picked up the empty boxes and were taking the tables down. Oink oink, people.

Rounding the bend to the finish line, Annette speeds up to us and we cross the finish line together. Running! So sorry to the poor lady (walking) who got a bit nudged as we went by her. Finished! Not as exhilarating as I'd expected but it was pretty damn good to be done. We were surrounded by all of those fit people casually laughing about the little race, and shouldn't we run some more tonight, blah blah, it was all I could do to not kick them in the shins. My knees had started to whine by mid-race and they were full on bitching at that point. I hopped out of the long waiting line and missed my chocolate milk but I managed to get the bar from a grumpy hander-outer guy. Whatevs. Melissa was there and we went into the pavilion for the chocolate treats, thankfully not taken by all the early finishers.
All that was left was to walk the long walk back up the bridge and back to our cars and then my racing career was complete. I did it. I finished. I didn't run the whole way but I would have if not for that damn hill.

And for the next two weeks I walked like Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump when he got his fake legs. I did all the icing and Ibuprofen I could take and finally went in to get cortisone shots in both knees. Holy wow did that hurt. And then it didn't! I love modern medicine!

In the end, I finished at a respectable 41:10, which is a 13:15 pace. A bit off from my 11:10 pace in the Quick Bix but this was longer, I was (too much) heavier and well, there's the damn cancer and all. I finished 1684th out of 2591 and 365th in my division of 600 runners. And there was chocolate.

Thanks for the fun, running shoes, but I'm just not that into you...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Holiday Roundup

I'm sure you're on pins and needles waiting to hear about the Chocolate 5K and how that turned out. Update on that coming shortly. In the meantime let's wrap up the year with holidays in review. Seems so long ago that we were trick-or-treating, and without coats and mittens! We put the pirate costume in the dress-up bin and moved on to sparkly witch for the candy extravaganza. Last year's trick was distracting the candy givers with her smile and emptying their bowls before they realized it. This year, Katy managed to sneak her way into four houses and get all the way to the couch before I could grab her. Even when I warned people to block the entry. She's a sly one! No one seemed to mind though and she made out like a bandit again. Which was nice because we were able to repurpose some of the candy for the advent calendar later :-)
Seems as if I have no pictures of Thanksgiving, so I'll include a picture I'm thankful for. We watched Choo Choo Bob quite a bit a while ago and we finally met the man himself in person at the History Center on Thanksgiving weekend. Not afraid to admit I've got a celebrity crush on him! And he did get Katy to smile, even if she didn't actually look at the camera. That's huge!
Christmas was a whirlwind and celebrated at home and also in San Diego. We met Santa at Macy's and mailed off a letter of wishes. This year's wish? A purple sled. She told Santa all about how last year's sled only lasted one run before breaking up.
We picked up a tree at our favorite lot down the street. No Santa sightings there this year. Also, it was super cold.
We listened to some beautiful music by our friend Catherine and her church choir. And by that I mean we listened a bit and walked around some more.
I managed to get one shot of my two girls together. We need better lighting in the house to capture them well. And more cooperation on both parts, just sayin.
Finally it was time for Christmin! Katy picked her own dress out this year. Turns out she and Nana wanted the same dress but we ended up getting it after the annual shopping trip. They have good taste!
We actually set out treats for Santa this year. First year that Katy's understood what that meant. She was pretty excited for him to eat the treats. And she wanted to help him by drinking the milk for him. hmm.
Can you guess what's in the big box! One lucky girl gets a purple sled (which, as of February hasn't been used yet. yikes where's the snow?).
Riley is as enthused as always. zzzz
And really, it's all about the boxes.
On Christmas day, Katy and I flew to San Diego to spread the Christmas cheer. Aunt Susan and Uncle Erik set us all up with matching Elf jammies. Ain't nobody as cool as us!
We went down to the harbor for a balloon parade and connected with our friends Richard and Sara. The kids had fun watching all the big balloons go by.
But the army trucks were a bit loud for one little one...
We had an open house for friends and Katy got to play with Medi and Maddie and I got to see Lisa, Kate, Annie and also we had a special visit from cousin Angela!
The girls can sure be goofy! It was fun to see everyone again. We miss you guys!
The next day, while Susan and I shopped, Erik took Katy skating. Ice skating! In San Diego of all places. She was ecstatic! We topped off the trip with a train ride at Balboa Park. We love our visits to Aunt and Uncle and it was sure nice to get out of the winter for a bit.
We arrived home just in time for new year's celebrations. Katy's friends Brody and Piper invited us to a fun kid party and it was the perfect ending to the year. Just enough fun and dancing and no hangover. Win win in my book. Happy New Year!

Annual Christmin Weekend 2014

We packed a lot into the weekend as usual. We started out with a bang at the North Pole Express Santa Train in St Paul. We had Max and Adam join us too. We squeaked in at the last minute and ran what seemed like miles to be the last on the train before they took off. Whew. Hot and sweaty. But the ride was fun, all three minutes of it! Ok so it was maybe 5 minutes. But then we were at the North Pole and soon Santa came through to hand out candy and ask about what we wanted for Christmas. Then we waited. And waited. And waited. Santa had to visit all of the other train cars too. Then we rode all 5 minutes back to St Paul and headed into the Union Depot for hot chocolate and cookies. A bit of panic when the movie Polar Express was playing and it was TOO LOUD!!!! for one little one. Funny, when she finally saw the movie on the small screen she was obsessed with it. Obsessed. Santa even brought her a bell on Christmin morning.
On Saturday our Grand Adventure started with our event and ended with donuts. A bit out of order but I'm blaming that on my swiss cheese brain. We went to see Rudolph at the wonderful Stages Theater in Hopkins. Unfortunately I had inadvertently gotten tickets for Sunday when I meant to get them for Saturday. So I bravely approached the ticket window and begged to switch them, thinking maybe someone wasn't showing up for that show. The very nice floor manager found us 4 seats in the 7th row, just off the stage. Woot!
I didn't bring the headphones. My (second) bad. Halfway through the first song Katy lost it. I HAVE TO GO POTTY! Which is code for 'get me out of here'. Sigh. So we went to the lobby, bought the book and read it while we waited for the show to be over. We did rally to watch the last half of the last song so I guess that's good. I'm chalking this one up to a learning experience. Evi enjoyed it at least!
We headed to YoYo Donuts & Coffee Bar from there and it was as fantastic as the reviews said it would be. We got a bit of food into the girls before we scarfed up the donuts. We will have to return again because we didn't get any of their amazing ice cream. mmm. The day was topped off with a trip to the Children's Museum.
Sunday's Grand Adventure started with donuts as usual. Angel Food Bakery in Downtown Minneapolis is a destination in itself. You can watch the creation of pastries and cakes at a cute little counter. It's tiny so we took our rambunctious girls to the tippy table in the lobby. Evi took a time out in the potted plant and Katy wouldn't leave the entrance to Hell's Kitchen where the music was playing. The donuts were super tasty and the music was good too!
Next up was a short stop at Family Day at MIA. The girls were a little melty at this point but still seemed to be enjoying themselves so we carried on. Arts and crafts happened, paint was splattered and all was right with the world.
Finally, Evi made a guest stop at Katy's Ethiopian Dance class. As per usual, Katy wasn't in the mood to participate but they both still had a great time. It's so fun to see the dances by all of the different ages at the end of class. Someday when Katy feels like it, she's going to rock those dances too!

One thing's for sure, we get a lot out of our weekends!

Monday, December 15, 2014

3rd Annual Halloween Weekend

Since we've just wrapped up the Annual Christmin Weekend in real life, I thought I'd better get updated past Halloween before it's next year already. We love spending the weekend before Halloween up in Superior! And who doesn't love a whole weekend to wear all of the halloween costumes you own.

We take many, many pictures. Some show the idea of what our weekends are like...
And then there are those showing the reality...
Regardless, we soldier on forward! Grand Adventures always start with donuts. Our favorite haunt in Superior, A Dozen Excuses, does not disappoint. We each get a donut and then have some to share. Katy seems to like the cake donuts best of all kinds.
Next we head to Duluth (Hermantown actually) for Engwall's Corn Maze. Another favorite stop, we shoot corn from cannons, trick-or-treat our way through the maze and try our hand at the carnival games. It's always fun to pick up a big bag of trinkets and candy. Yes, fun. Keep saying that. Ever stepped on a plastic spider in the middle of the night? Fun. Yes, fun.
Since we're out and about, we stop at the lake for some rock throwing. Not as much participation here. Sure, the rocks are fun but when we get to the ship museum we lose interest quickly. Onward!
After a rest stop at home we head to the wilderness for some more Halloween adventures. I can't remember who puts on this event but the girls get to do crafts and have cookies. All good things. First they get cups puffed off their head by a big air drum. Sciency!
Aforementioned crafts...
Then we head home to bob for apples. Not sure why the lighting is crazy yellow. Never mind the hand in the bucket of course.
Little, tiny, apple parts ev.ery.where.
More science experiments with baking soda and vinegar. Evi? Totally into it. Katy, not so much. Well, maybe if I don't have to touch it...
Capping off the evening with an epic Halloween bath. Won't be too much longer and they won't fit in the tub together! We'll have to have pool parties then.
Finally getting out the wiggles with glow stick skirt dancing. It's too bad the video doesn't show much, it is fun to watch the twirling skirts.
Wiggles all gone...
Sunday leaves us with just enough time for carving pumpkins. Again, it's Evi's heaven and Katy's meh. Thanks to a bunch of help by moms, the carving is done and the girls take the credit.
They really can be sweet to each other when they want to be!
Each weekend we spend together, Rachel and I learn more about the girls and how they work and play together. And, as they get older we face different challenges. Just when we think we've figured it out, they change it up on us. Such is life! And what a great life it is. I can't wait to see these girls grow up together and hopefully embrace their differences and their 'same same' as Katy would say.