Sunday, October 26, 2014

Soaring Wings Half Marathon 2014

It's been 6 months since my last race, and I'll admit that I was a little nervous about this one.  Lately, I've had problems with having really tight hips and getting very sore after walking.  I had decided to add yoga back into the mix, and after Monday night's class, I felt like I had brand new legs.  Awesome!

Then I walked on the treadmill Tuesday.  I think it needs some lube, it jerked funny a few times, and I felt like I had pulled something the next morning.  I spent the rest of the week doing all the stretches I could remember from Monday's yoga class that had made me feel better.  


I felt better when I woke up Saturday, so I headed off to the race.  But let's be honest, I'm such a bonehead that I probably would have attempted the race anyway.

Last year's Soaring Wings has remained my slowest race to date. The course is very hilly and I remembered that I didn't particularly enjoy it last year. I finished in 3:45, extremely sore and with horrible blisters.  Really, my only goal for this race was to not do worse.

It was a warm day, warmer than October should be, so I couldn't wear the race shirt, because it was long sleeved.  I felt bad for everyone who had... by the end of the race it was in the 80s.  I did have a jacket with me, but tied it around my waist before the race even started.  And that made me realize that if I have something around my waist, my lower back doesn't hurt at all when I walk.  I had heard during my Leslie Sansone Walk at Home videos that having a belt around your waist activates your core muscles simply by being there, but I really didn't buy into it (She sells them, so of course she's going to make them sound amazing).  It really does work, though.  My abs can attest to that today.  I need to get a hydration belt or something, simply to help with my back.  (And because I hate carrying water)

Honestly, the hills didn't bother me as much this year.  My normal training route has a few bridges on it, so I think I've come to terms with hills.  The course was pretty narrow in places, though, and we shared the road with traffic a lot.  When I had to pass a pair of walkers, I would be uncomfortably close to traffic.

PSA.... if you're racing with a pal, go single file when someone needs to pass.  Safety over companionship!

There were water stations every 1.5 miles.  Blessed water stations.  It was so warm out that I wished I had carried water.  I was usually parched by the next station.  They also had Gu, gummy bears, and fruit at the later stations.  

I realized yesterday that I truly love being in the back of the pack as a walker.  I'm not trying to trash all the fabulous fast runners in anyway, but I think the most inspiring people are at the end.  I read something the other week, and I'm slightly paraphrasing, but it went something like "First place is AMAZING, last place is INSPIRING".  There's always a run/walker who uses me as a cue to start running again.  There are older people showing that it's not too late to do something amazing.  Yesterday, I was following this one older lady... she caught my eye because I had never seen anyone with a walking skirt past their knees.  Her family was leap frogging along the course to encourage her, and she'd hug and cry every time she passed them.  It gave me a lump in my throat.  Half-marathons are obviously physically and mentally challenging, but most people don't realize how emotional they are. 

I don't think anything can beat RussVegas in terms of community support, but it was pretty good for this race.  There was a kid around mile 2 wearing a shirt that said Mile 9 that amused me.  A couple of clever signs like "Smile if you're not wearing any underwear."  I always love when little kids are out giving high fives, and there was a gentleman playing sax along the way.  I could tell in a few spots that people  had abandoned their cheering post, which is always disappointing.  And we were all amused by the fact that they left the Mile 4 sign up (the course looped through the same area twice at that point) when we were in the 12th mile.... the lady next to me said she'd quit if it was really just Mile 4.  I said I'd just lay down in the road right then and there.  =)

I was really surprised that for the first half of the race I kept a 15:00-15:15 pace.  That's faster than I normally train, but it's not unusual for my race pace to be faster than my training pace.  I push myself harder when I'm racing, not wanting to be passed by everyone.  LOL  But even as the crowd thinned and I didn't have people immediately around me, I kept that pace, which impressed me.  I did start slipping after the first half, though, but I realized if I could keep it under 16:00, I might just have a new PR.  To be honest, I never bothered looking up what I should shoot for to have a PR, because I didn't think it was possible considering last year.

My pace continued to slip as I neared the end, but I still felt pretty strong and didn't have as much as a hot spot on my feet, let alone blisters.  I mean, I didn't feel like I could walk miles and miles more, but I wasn't in pain.  

I crossed the finish line at 3:30.

That's 15 minutes faster than last year.  15 minutes!

That's also my new PR.

I went from this race being my worst to my best!  That's pretty exciting!  16:03 was my average pace.  I'm going to shoot to shave those 3 seconds off my next race in December.  =)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Coach Jen?

Isabelle asked me the other day if she could do the Little Rockers Marathon this year.  If you remember, we tried this last year.  The Little Rockers Marathon is a part of the Little Rock Marathon that I've done the past 2 years.  The kids walk or run a total of 25.2 miles over the weeks leading up to the marathon and then they all run the last mile together. 

Last year, Olivia and Isabelle freaked out at the start line for the last mile and left without finishing (or even starting).  It was just the two of them in a sea of strangers. I wasn't allowed to do it with them because only team leaders could be in with the kids, and my 2 didn't qualify as a team.  I understand their feelings, I hate crowds myself, but I was so disappointed that they did all that work and didn't get that medal at the finish line.

So, understandably, I was a little hesitant to tell Isabelle we'd give it another go.  Zoe's old enough to do it this year, so she'd have a partner (Olivia refuses to do it this year... she refuses to do anything that involves getting off the couch).  But I still am nervous that they will get too nervous to do the final mile.  An light bulb popped up over my head.... what if we had a team?  I'd only need 7 other kids to make up the 10 kids that would qualify us as a team (Olivia would have to do it by default... she would have to be there anyway).  I do love the idea of helping get kids more active.  The idea of being some sort of coach helping people get involved with walking has crossed my mind several times over the past few years.  So this is something I really feel led to do, I just haven't found the right opportunity yet.  I stewed on the idea for a while, and decided to test the waters a bit.

I sent a note to Isabelle's teacher (I know her best of all the teachers the girls have this year... it's our 3rd year with her), and explained what I'm thinking to get her opinion.  Offering the chance to be on the team to the kids in the school and meeting after school at the track to do our mileage.  I wanted to run it past a teacher before approaching the principal because I don't know all the rules involved with extra-curricular activities, and I hate making a fool out of myself.

Turns out, she loves the idea and said she'd bring it up to the principal next week.  I'll have to meet with him with all the actual details, I'm sure.  I'm kind of nervous about the idea... that it may really happen.  Me... coaching kids for a "marathon."

I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Double Up!

Half-marathon training is in progress for my 6th race on the 25th.  And starting this week, I start training for the New Year's Double.... which means racking up some serious mileage between now and then.

November and December are the same, but with higher mileage.  The plan for the Double thinks I can do 7 miles on a Tuesday... it's kind of unrealistic unless I take time off of work.  And I might, I really don't need much excuse lately.  It depends on how much vacation time I have left.  But otherwise, I only get about 2 hours a night without the kids and it would take all that to do 7 miles.  And I have other things that need to be done, so we'll just see how that works out.  I've always been really flexible on weekday mileage anyway.  As long as I get my long walks in and keep myself active, I think I'm good.

I have all my half-marathons planned out to reach my goal of 13 before I turn 40.  I'm registered for the next three already, and need to start socking away money for the rest.  It's not a cheap habit, I guess.  =)  Not to mention needing new shoes every so often, and good running shoes aren't cheap.  It's worth it though. 

We're getting settled in pretty well into the new house.  The girls love having more space, inside and out.  I haven't done a thing remodeling-wise yet, and I'm OK with that.  I feel at peace and I have time to take my time. 

Ollie has been a bit harder to settle in with.  I honestly didn't anticipate just how much having a puppy is like having a small child.  He has been so hard to house train.  It's been extremely frustrating.  He eats everything but dog food.  The cat's food, flip flops, pencils, paper, the gate I bought to try to keep him out of the kitchen because he's tall enough to reach the counter now.... and then, yesterday, this....

That would be the cord for my treadmill.  I had just plugged in it here at the new house for the very first time the night before.  I came home from work and found that and thought I was going to totally lose it.  I was literally minutes from loading Ollie up to take him to a shelter.  But my sister talked sense into me and brought me a bigger crate so that we crate him whenever we can't strictly supervise him.  I hate that he'll have to be in the crate as much as he will have to be with our schedules, but he's lucky he didn't electrocute himself, and it's for his safety as much as my sanity.  Last night was rough.  I had to sleep on the couch because he'd bark non-stop once I left him alone in the crate.  He'd hush if I was in the room.  So I didn't sleep well.  Hopefully he'll get used to it quickly and I can sleep in my bed again.

And Bill fixed the cord to the treadmill right away this morning.  My hero.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Is this hypocritical?

I can't stand my coworkers.

I know.  I used to love them to death.  They made me laugh, they were fabulous.  Then the new wore off and I realized that they're really mean and ugly people.  And they made me feel really mean and ugly, so I had to back away from that.  Now they irritate me beyond comprehension. 

They will be sweet as pie to your face and when you walk away, they say really nasty things about you.  I know, I hear it daily.  I don't know if they think I agree or if they forget I'm here, but they say the ugliest things about people that I've heard in a long, long time.  They have no respect for anyone.  It's been a long person since I've regularly heard someone use the word "retarded", so long that it got filed away in my head as something only ignorant people would still use as an insult.  I guess they're ignorant, because they use it daily. They're racist.  They made comments one day that they would never accept a mixed-race grandchild.  I just shook my head, and was told I'd feel differently if one of my girls came home with a black boy.  I can honestly say that no, I wouldn't.  I don't care who my girls bring home.... white, black, Asian, Hispanic, another girl, a nerd, a tattooed biker.... as long as they are treated with respect and are happy.  Period. 

These two are inseparable.  They act like the world has ended if their partner is absent.  They go to the cafeteria to get lunch together, even if one of them brings their lunch.  They can't stand being apart.  And, yes, I have considered that maybe I'm just jealous that they are such good friends and I'm not a part of that.  I really don't think so, but I'll just be fair enough to put that out there as the grain of salt that this post may be needed to be taken with. 

They spend the day laughing and talking and not getting very much done as a result.  They argue all sorts of reasons that their productivity is no where near as high as the people who have held their positions before.... OF COURSE it's not because they're too busy making fun of someone in the waiting room.  When they don't get things done, it falls to me to fix.  When I bring a problem they caused to their attention, it certainly can't be their fault.  Or they have never been told about that before (that's funny, when I remember telling them myself).  I can't stand people who don't take responsibility for their mistakes.  Just own up to it and resolve to do better.  That's all I want.  Not excuses. 

I may be technically their supervisor, but I have no real power.  And my boss is just now starting to see what I've been saying.  Unfortunately, she's not the firing type.   This will go on indefinitely, most likely.

I know I'm talking bad about them and all, and I guess that's hypocritical of me, but they make me crazy.


I've come very close to just leaving work early to not have to listen to them anymore.  How can people be so ugly?  So negative all the time?  They're immature.  And they're just not very intelligent.  I know.... that's not nice.  But some of the questions I've been asked, by these two who have worked in the medical field for years.... they were not in any danger of honor roll at school, I'm sure.

And you know, when someone just gets under your skin, almost every thing they do, every word they say, grates on your nerves. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

My oath

Yesterday I finished getting everything out of the old house and cleaning.  I don't intend to walk back into that house again, other than to put the keys on the counter.  We still need to get a few things from the yard, and I'm kinda irked that Bill can't do it himself since I basically did 98% of the house all by myself, but whatever... I just want it done.  It's taken way too long to get it over with. 

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this, but I've never been the best housekeeper.  And 6 years of not being a very good housekeeper.... well, we'll say that after cleaning up the old house, I'm determined to be borderline OCD about the new house and cleanliness.  That's my oath.  I will keep this house clean and organized.  I'm going to go all Fly Lady and stuff.  I have already been driving the girls nuts with my constant barking at them to pick up their socks and put their dishes in the sink.  No eating on the couch.  Keep the doors shut.  All that jazz.

Next weekend is Olivia's birthday party (10 years old.  How can it be that she's hitting double digits already?) and we're having a little housewarming at the same time.  After that, I'm going to start working on painting.  Little by little.  I want the main living area done in time to decorate for Christmas, if possible.  We'll see.

I'm trying to get back into reading my blogs again.  I miss you people.  =)

I also have the first half-marathon of what I think of as "marathon season" in 4 weeks.  There are no marathons in the summer here, it's just too hot, so after April, there's about a 6 month break.  Which means I've been a total bum for almost 6 months.  I started my training weeks ago, but have let it lapse with all the moving business.  Now I need to get back on it.  I've trained for halves in less time, but this one is one of the toughest ones I've done.  And I've been having hip pain lately.... I'm hoping getting back into moving more and some yoga will take care of that.  Hips are pretty important for walking.  I don't want to go to the doctor, so I really do hope it sorts itself out. Next month I begin training for my double half marathons on New Year's Eve/Day, which means A LOT of walking through the end of the year.  I need new shoes.  =)

Speaking of new shoes, maybe that's contributing to the hip problems.  Definitely getting new shoes ASAP.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Pictures and Plans

I just thought I'd give you a small tour of our new home and let you in on some of the ideas and plans I have.

This is the front of the house.  I am thinking window boxes to bring some color to the front of the house.

The back. We have a large screened porch. That's where the hot tub lives until we sell it.  Then we have plans to make it nice and cozy.

Bill has a huge shop. 1500 Sq ft.  That's bigger than the house we're moving out of.

The other out building. It needs a bit of work. We're not sure what we'll do with it exactly. A playhouse for the girls, a chicken coop, and garden shed have been tossed around.

I have a fire place =).   I want to whitewash it and paint the brass black.

The living room and dining room are a huge open space. I am planning on painting ALL the paneling. I hate wood paneling, but at least is fairly light, so since I can't paint before moving in, it's not sucking my soul out of me. ;) The corner on the right is going to be my little crafty corner. My chair, my yarn, my new antique sewing table. I'll show you that later. 

We haven't had carpet in a long time, as you can see, Isabelle is enjoying that. Also, in my corner... that grayish outlet thing... that's a central vac outlet. How cool is that? 

Other things I'm excited about?  The huge French door fridge with ice maker. Dishwasher. Glass top stove. Tons of counter space. More cabinets than I can probably fill. So many cabinets, in fact, that Bill wants to take out the cabinets over the bar. Nice blinds in the windows. 

I'll admit it. Everyone said it would be worth the nightmare in the end. I doubted that. But they were right. I'm stoked. =)


Did I really think we'd get through without any more bumps? 

Thursday came and the mortgage company couldn't get everything ready in time to close. So we scheduled for Friday. Then my agent called Thursday with yet another bombshell.... the sellers wanted to contest the appraisal. Their agent neglected to pass that information along until then.

I was livid.

They contacted the appraiser to see if he would check a few more houses as comps, he promised to give them an answer Friday morning. I gave the ultimatum that we had to know what was going on that day. Period. I did not want to go through the weekend in limbo.

The appraiser never called Friday. They asked us to be patient. I wanted to walk away. Bill said we'd wait. I was so upset. I felt like I looked like an idiot for setting an ultimatum that he wouldn't back me up on.

By Monday, I decided to just stuck it up and let whatever would happen happen.  The appraiser finally called and denied their request to reconsider his appraisal. So the sellers gave us two options... go forward with the lower price but we had to buy the hot tub and air compressor (with 2 years to pay on them), or they were going to request a formal review of the appraisal with the VA (which would take weeks possibly). 

We weren't particularly happy and my agent felt like we were being blackmailed.  We seriously considered walking away then. We did not want the hot tub. But, as we discussed it, the girls were screaming and fighting, and we decided we just couldn't stay in this cramped house.  So we agreed to buy the extras and finally... FINALLY... closed on the house Tuesday!

Now comes the oh, so fun part.... moving. I've been off work this week, so I've moved smaller things over.  We plan on doing the major moving on Sunday and I'll finish up the smaller junk and cleaning over the next week or two after work. I had hoped to paint before we move but we just want to get in there.

We're ready to go home.


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