Friday, May 30, 2014

Family Hikes: Memorial Day at 4th of July Pass

We spent the morning of Memorial Day hiking up at 4th of July Pass.

It's a beautiful, lush green spot with a ton of trails for hiking.  It's a great spot - and only 20 minutes outside of town!  Our toddler was in HEAVEN.  He loved walking the trails, spotting snails, centipedes and moose droppings (and you should here him say "moose droppings" - hilarious!).  We probably covered about 2.5 miles in 2 hours because we were mostly walking at the speed of a 2 year old. =)  We don't have a hiking baby carrier (yet) so we let him walk or he would ride on Dad's shoulders. 
Talking about bugs.

I printed out the trail map from the Panhandle Nordic Club website and it was very clear and easy to follow.  The signs for the trails were well-marked.  The parking area is just off of the interstate exit and there are toilets at the parking area.  We didn't see anyone else out while we were hiking, but there were a couple other cars at the parking lot.
He loves to say: "Don't fall in da wadee!" [water]

It was a beautiful day and a great post-race recovery - we'll be back for sure!
With my favorite little hiker

CDA Half Marathon: I Survived! (Race Recap)

I ran/walked the CDA Half Marathon Sunday morning.

This was my second year running this race.  The course was entirely different this year: still some hills but very shady and beautiful.  I thought it was a great course.

The race benefits the Centennial Trail Foundation, so it makes sense to have the course feature some of the most beautiful stretches of the Centennial Trail.

I woke up at 5 for the 7:30 start.  Last weekend before my trail run, I felt like I didn't have enough to eat and had too much water before the race.  This time I got it right: I had 1/2 a bagel, banana and half a cup of coffee.  I also sipped some water occasionally up until about 15 minutes before the race started.  I drove downtown around 6 because I wasn't sure how tough it would be to park.  Needless to say, I got a spot 1 block away from the start, whoop whoop!  #winning  I walked down to try to exchange my shirt at late packet pick up in the resort, but they were only doing exchanges after the race.  I tried to use the bathroom in the resort across the hall from packet pick up and they had locked the doors!!  Boo on you, CDA Resort!  #notrunnerfriendly.

Marathoners started at 7 am and Halfers started at 7:30.  It was nice and cool, in the low 50s for the start.  There was an adorable kid playing his guitar and singing just around the corner from the start - he was rocking out! 

I planned to take walk breaks every 5 minutes so I wouldn't completely bonk.  I ran the first 2 miles and then started my 30 sec walk breaks.  I didn't end up doing this exactly every 5 minutes because I walked thru a few of the water stations and didn't walk any downhills.  I didn't take my gel until 1 hour in, which might have been a little too late because I started to feel pretty pooped around miles 7-8, and I think those may have been my slowest miles.

I chatted with a really nice woman around mile 10 - she was from Naples, FL!  She had the prettiest southern accent and we traded stories about the Sunshine State.  We parted ways at a water stop, but she totally zoomed by me shortly before the finish line.

My time was 15 minutes slower than last year.  Yikes!  That's a lot, but that is what I get for not getting the long runs and workouts in.  I have been running a couple of days a week, but just jogging along for 2-4 miles is not the path to improvement.  I am still glad that I did it and glad to have finished healthy.  Here's to a great start to summer. 

In Brief:
Expo: small, packet pick up is a breeze, shirts are good
Half Mary: About 900 runners/walkers, out & back course (marathoners do 2 laps, so you get to see them run by), some teeny hills, 1 moderate hill, shady with good crowd support, except for coming up out of Sanders beach - where was everyone??!!
Post-race: line for water (wish they had bottles, or some prepped!) was kind of long, bananas, bagels, oranges, cookies, beer garden (but we didn't stick around for it), cool medals (much better than last year)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Trail Maniacs State Park Series #1 - Farragut State Park 5 Miler

Last weekend I ran in the first annual State Park Series hosted by the Trail Maniacs.

What a blast!

The SPS is a series of trail runs held at gorgeous state parks in Idaho and Washington all summer long.  There was a 5 mile race and a half marathon race, I opted for the 5 miler because I have my half marathon this weekend (gulp).

I did not have a fast race, but it was a ton of fun!  The scenery is incredible and the atmosphere was really nice too.

We drove up as a family, and D & M were able to explore and play while I ran.  The course had some ups and downs, with one steep hill that I had to walk up.  It was very shaded and picturesque as we ran along the shoreline of Lake Pen d'Oreille.  I was amazed at how sore my feet and lower legs were on Sunday and Monday - mostly from the rockiness and unevenness of the trail - but that is trail running in north Idaho!

It took me about an hour and three minutes to complete the run.  Whew, it was tough - trail running is so different from road running.  They had a great set up of grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, chips, cookies, beer, water and soda available as some post-race goodies.  I ate more than I should have - doesn't everything taste better after a nice, hard run?  There was also a raffle for some cool running gear - sadly, I didn't win anything - next time!

After the race, we hiked around and checked out some of the views.  The park was a Naval Training Station in WWII (yes, I said Navy in land-locked Idaho), so there are some old remnants from those days.  Then we got on our bikes and biked over to one of the campgrounds where our friends were camping.  We will definitely be back to camp this summer.  We've heard the park gets pretty busy as it warms up, but there is so much more there that we want to explore.

The race and the day spent at the park was a lot of fun and I am hoping to participate in some of the other races in the series this summer.  M was in heaven just getting to wander around, play in the woods/grass, throw rocks, etc.  When I picked him up after the race, I noticed that his shoes and pants were wet.  D said he had looked away for .02 seconds and of course, he was already in the water.  Haha!  He is definitely an outdoorsy kid, isn't he?!  It was a long day with all of the running, biking and hiking, but being outside was good for all of us.  We are so lucky to have such beautiful resources so close to home. 

I highly recommend a day (or more) at Farragut State Park and a run with the Trail Maniacs!

Have you done a trail run?  Tell me about it!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Only in Idaho - Part 2!

Last Friday morning we had to stop by and visit D at work.  His office is between an airport and a shooting range, which is kind of unusual in itself, right?  As we drove by the range, I noticed there was some kind of event about to happen, because there were more people than usual there, several RVs parked in the lot and a couple of buses, with some school-aged kids milling around.

The best part was the sign on one of the buses: "Straight As and Shootin' Clays." 

When I was in high school, they took us to Golden Corral for making straight As (maybe that has something to do with the current obesity epidemic??). 

But I think going to the shooting range to shoot clays as a reward for good grades would have been a lot more exciting!


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day and My Letter of Thanks

Inspired by this post, which is much more eloquent and beautiful than anything I could ever write, here is my letter to my sweet boy's bio mom.

Dear ____,

Hi!  We hope you are doing well.  As I was rocking M to sleep tonight, I just had a moment of overwhelming gratitude for you.  I want you to know that on Mother's Day, even more so than any other day, I am especially thankful for you, and the incredible gift you gave me.  You gave me the chance to be a mom - you made me a mom!  You took a chance on us and you trusted us to care for M, even though you had never even met us.

I can't thank you enough for your trust in us, and in me especially.  It is a privilege to get to parent him and watch him develop into the sweet and happy little boy that he is.  I just want you to know that I won't let you down.  I will love him and protect him with every ounce of my being, for as long as I live.  I don't take a single minute with him for granted, and I am so grateful to you for giving me the opportunity to love and care for him.
Obsessed with trucks!

Thank you for all of that you've done for us.  For us in this family, Mother's Day is not about me but it is a chance for us to reflect on how grateful we are to you for bringing us together, and for giving us a happiness that is greater than we ever could have imagined.  You are our hero, and we love you.  Thank you.


Friday, May 9, 2014

Half Marathon "Training"

"Training" is in quotes because I'm not sure you can really call it that!

I'll be running the CDA Half Marathon on May 25.  My longest training run to date has been 7.75 miles, so not really where I should be to hope to PR.  I have been running roughly three times a week, and also trying to take a weight class and swim one day a week.  But neither my distance nor intensity has really been up to par.  I am going to be reasonable and aim to just finish and enjoy myself.  But my husband says I have to beat his old boss, gulp!
Part of the course for this year's CDA Half Marathon (and the Marathon)

I am also planning to run a 5 mile trail race on May 17, part of the State Park Series organized by Trail Maniacs.  I'm really excited for this!  My last trail race was a lot of fun, and Farragut State Park is gorgeous.  Hopefully we'll do some extra exploring as a family afterwards.

Then I think I probably won't do a race again until September/October.  We will be traveling off and on so I am just hoping to build consistency and speed and to enjoy our beautiful summer by spending as much time outdoors as possible.

What are your summer plans, running and otherwise?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Ironman 70.3 New Orleans in Photos

Paratriathlete heading out to the water.  These competitors were very inspiring!

Female age groupers - my sister is just to the right of the girl in the pink top.

Organized chaos in the swim

Wet suit stripping - this volunteer was impressively fast - I think the athletes were surprised at how fast she could get them out of their wetsuits!

An elite athlete starting the run course

Another elite athlete on the run

My sister in black - heading out for her final 13.1 miles

Headed to the finish line!

Final thoughts on this race, from a spectator's POV.  Hope they might be helpful if you have a friend/family member considering this race and you'd be supporting them!

  • Its really easy to watch all of the swim because it is in a marina so there are several different vantage points
  • You can also hustle around to watch swim exit and bike start, bike finish and run start
  • Easy spectator parking near transition and the start
  • Fun atmosphere at the finish line

  • It's humid!! (yes, I've become a humidity wimp)
  • Not a ton of shade for the athletes on the course and in most spots to watch and cheer
  • Host hotel and most hotels are all located across town from race site - approximately a 20-30 minute drive - so you definitely want to rent a car and note that parking isn't easy downtown!
  • Not super easy to park at the finish line
  • Not a ton of food options for spectators at the finish line party, didn't see any restaurants/food trucks close by if you want to grab something to eat while you wait for your athlete!
  • Small expo
It was a fun weekend and I am super proud of my sister for committing herself to a challenging goal, sticking with her training and rocking the race.  She's inspired me to keep pushing myself in running and I hope we'll get to do another race together some day.  Now I just need to convince her to sign up for Ironman Coeur d'Alene!

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Waiting Game: An Adoption Update

Well, we are still patiently (or not so patiently) waiting and hoping to adopt another baby.  In the last year, we've been considered by three different birth mothers, but not been chosen.  It is an emotional experience, so naturally it can be really hard.  But I felt like I should share about it in case anyone out there is reading this and in the same boat.  You aren't alone!

The last time was during Holy Week and the baby had already been born, so we were just waiting for a call one way or the other.  If we had gotten the "yes, the birth mother chose you" call, we would have jumped in the car and driven down to pick up the baby right away.  Wouldn't that have been a wonderful Easter surprise?  All of our newborn clothes are washed, the bottles are washed and there is a cozy bassinet just waiting to hold some little feet.  In each of these circumstances, we have hoped for the best but expected the worst, as one caseworker advised us.

That is easier said than done.  I probably tend to lean too much towards hoping for the best, so each time we aren't picked, I am crushed for us.  But I bounce back by focusing on being grateful for all of the good in my life.  I think it is OK to have a little bitty pity party when you (I) go through these experiences, but that is it.  I acknowledge my feelings of sadness and then move on.  I have so much to be grateful for and that is what I choose to dwell on.  I am truly glad that someone gets the chance to love and care for a new baby, but of course I wish it was me!  I love parenting and caring for my son.  I have loved every stage and every age.  It is fascinating and it is a privilege to get to raise him.  But there is no denying that it is really hard when a birth mother chooses someone else to do your job instead of you.

 Each time this has happened, I have wondered why we were not chosen, why someone doesn't think we are right or good enough or whatever to raise the baby.  I wonder if there is something we need to do to make ourselves a more attractive option.  For heaven's sake, we went to Princeton!  Who possibly doesn't want a couple of Ivy League educated parents!? =) [note: now even I am rolling my eyes at myself!] 

But at the same time, these experiences make us that much more grateful for our sweet little boy and his wonderful bio mom who did choose us.  We are truly, truly grateful.  I can't emphasize that enough!  We might have to wait a long time or we might never be chosen again.  I don't know if it is commonly more difficult to adopt 'the second time around.'  It feels like it is, but one thing that is true is that all adoptions are different!  

I am so glad that someone gets the privilege to raise and care for those three babies.  It helps me to keep a list of these circumstances and to try to remember to pray for these children.  I pray that they have wonderful, full lives and give thanks for their birth moms who give them the first shot at life (literally!).

We'll continue to hope for more babies in this family, and trust that God is carefully designing our family in His perfect plan.  We are broadening our network of adoption resources.  I recently read this in an insert in our church bulletin and found it encouraging: "People of hope have no use for despair or discouragement because all things are possible with God." 

If you are waiting and hoping to adopt and haven't been chosen, I feel your pain.  You are in my prayers.  And may we all remember that God is here with us every step of the way.  Let's be people of hope.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Spectating Ironman 70.3 New Orleans

A couple of weekends ago, I had a blast cheering for my sister in her first Ironman 70.3 in New Orleans.

She did great and I loved being there - I am a total race groupie!  It was also my first overnight away from our toddler - that was a big deal for me!  I missed all of the stress of flying with a toddler, it felt so weird.

The day before the race, I got a short run in around the French Quarter.  It was already pretty warm and humid.  Honestly, New Orleans/the French Quarter is not really my scene, the streets are not the cleanest and I get easily annoyed by all of the drunks stumbling into me at 10, but that's just me!
The view from my morning run
 Saturday night, we had a delicious pre-race dinner at Mother's in the French Quarter, and we rode on this to get to the restaurant.
He was pulling us on a trailer bed carrying patio furniture!

Needless to say, it was not a very effective way to get through the busy streets!  We also went to the race briefing and expo, and I was shocked at how small the expo was - I had been really hoping to get a good deal on some running shoes, but unbelievably, no one was selling them!  Then we went down to the transition so Jo could set up her bike.  Someone had racked a beach cruiser - you know it's gonna be a long 56 miles on a beach cruiser!

One thing to note about this race: the start area and transition area are all the way across town from the host hotel, and it didn't seem like there were any hotels close to the start.  They had shuttles for the athletes to ride to the start on race day, but you were on your own to get there to set up the day before.  Thankfully we had Jo's car so my parents and i could drive out to watch her on race morning, but you would definitely want to rent a car if you were planning to fly in to do this race!

Also, we sadly learned that one triathlete was killed and another seriously injured while riding on the bike course before the race.  Car on bike accidents happen way too frequently and this was so very sade.  Be safe out there, y'all!

Race Day Pictures coming soon!