Tuesday, January 24, 2017

It's Rough Getting Back To It

After my post-marathon hiatus through the holidays, I'm not gonna lie. 

 Running has been ROUGH.

My ten-mile run this past weekend was really rough. It's been hard not to get discouraged, especially when I glance at my pace and realize that the hills are getting to me, and though I feel like I'm going fast, I'm definitely not. 

Yesterday after one mile, my legs were already sore and hurting. I self-talked and told myself that just like always after a break, it'll come back. I'll be fast again.

I was super happy when I saw my time at the end.

It's nowhere near my fastest time, but it was the first time in a long time that I had a sub-10-minute pace. And that's the story of running (or I imagine any type of training):

The training will pay off.

Your body will "remember" its better in-shape you, and the faster pace will come back sooner this time than the first time.

Celebrate the small victories.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Recovery and Getting Back To It

I decided to take it easy after my marathon in terms of my training. Almost a month off from running.  Then I backed off quite a bit from my weekly mileage and tried to do mainly non-running workouts.

Southwest Oklahoma cotton fields in December.
 Even though my knees and hips held up during this last marathon season, I can tell I'm going to have to strengthen them up if I want to keep on running. And if I want to get faster. 
I decided to implement more non-running cardio and weight training before my next marathon.
I enjoy running out in the country. Especially on warm December days.
 As usual though, winter brings sickness and cold weather so my running drops off. I got to do one 5K in December which was fun along with some other running days. 

Look at this cutie I met on my run.

Had to stop and pose with the donkey!
I was hoping I would get to full workout mode this week, but it didn't happen with traveling and an unexpected snow day with the kids.

Pretty wheat fields

Three of the kids went with me after my run for a walk-run. Jaci and Case took turns dribbling and pushing Baby.

 I'll have to hit it hard starting next week, but I'm looking forward to a new work out. I'm planning on only running three days a week with implementing other cardio and strength-training the other days.
Showed the kids the cotton.
Case: "Cotton grows?!?"
That's my running girl! She ran almost the whole two miles or so that we went.
She would run and  then stop and wait for me to catch up.
My favorite moment was when we were running next to each other and H looks over at me, "Mama, I love you."
I'm excited about getting to run the marathon in OKC with a new time goal. 
Here's to hoping the cross-training pays off!

December is Our Crazy Month

December is always our CRAZY month. 
We like to just flow with the craziness and let the kids wear themselves
out at the stores while we Christmas shop.
December graduation: time for regalia and work buddies
With the end of the typical semester stresses - grading and finals - as well as submission deadlines for my conferences and reference letters for students, throw in all the holiday events, and the calendar gets pretty full quick.

Ugly Sweater CrossFit Party
Chickasha lights
Christmas Eve 
Got lots of Mom time - did my heart good.
I love Christmas excitement. 
 We did four Christmases this year, people. 

I got lots of uncharacteristic Casen snuggles over break.
I soaked them up.
Shelby and Haddie enjoying each other.
Lawrence and I stayed awake into the New Year...Josh and Joy, on the other hand....
Josh and I also thought that December wasn't busy enough so we chose this month twice for important events: our wedding and having L Child.

The Christmas Tree Star pretending he lost his eye.
Remember why we call him a Christmas Tree Star?
"Mama, I wish I was a Christmas Tree Star so everybody could see me."
And true to form, I have no pictures of him on his birthday even though we had a small cake for him.
Just reenforcing that middle child syndrome.
Celebrated sixteen years with three nights of going to the movie theater!
We also all like to get sick during Christmas break. Preferably on holiday trips.

Nothing like grading lab reports while being on a whole bunch of cold medicine.
As it always does, it worked out and it was a fun month. Once we get through the next week or so, and we'll be back at the swing of things. 

First though, I've got syllabi to prepare and the boys' birthday party to celebrate.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Enjoying the Boys

I'm enjoying the boys getting older. It's a fun age where we can have good conversations and eat at more grown-up places. Case has been wanting to try sushi so I took the boys out for a sushi/thai lunch one day. I told them it was a treat to eat here and they had to have good manners. They did pretty well. 

Well, chop sticks gets anybody excited.

 Turns out C loves sashimi. I was surprised. He loved it so much, he insisted on bringing home some for H to taste. Miss Expensive Taste loved it of course.

L Child preferred the Thai noodles. I forgot to order it mild so he would take a bite, gulp a bunch of water down, then take another bite. He loved it, but kept saying, "Wow, it's hot!"

This is my favorite current picture of L Child. He asked if he could put on a tattoo. We have a drawer of them and really don't supervise them. They know how to put on tattoos.

I learned that I have to clarify exactly where they can put a tattoo. He looked like he had spaghetti sauce on his mouth for a few days. Good thing it was Fall Break. I only got judged at my school, not his school.

The boys still love OnCue. Their Aunt Sissie got them a gift card to buy a treat after school.

This is their Happy Dance while they wait in line.

Finally, Pokemon is all the rage at our house. I gave them my old phone so they can play Pokemon Go.

They only can use Wi-Fi though so OC was the most fun they've had in a long time. They even talked Pokemon with Mr. Chris in Physics Lab.

The funniest part (for me) was when they would go into a Dead Zone (no wi-fi) and have to back track quickly to find more Pokemon. The boys didn't love that part, but they're getting a lesson on boundaries, people.

I'm thankful I get to start and end my days with these boys. They keep me thinking and laughing.


Remembering Newman

We knew over the last year that Newman was nearing the end of his life. After 12.5 years, he was nearing the life expectancy for Brittany spaniels. He was deaf and his eyesight was getting worse. While he slept more, he still moved around well.

Then he got a cough that was getting more frequent. The vet told us he has congestive heart failure, and that it was just a matter of time. Last week, Newman got worse. His cough only stopped if he was sleeping, and he was looking bad. We knew it was time.

So all of us told him good-bye yesterday before school. We had been talking about Newman getting old and dying with the kids. While they were sad, they weren't surprised.

Josh was the brave one and took him to the vet. My dad built Newman a coffin so Newman was laid in there afterwards. The kids and Padme got to have a viewing/memorial time after school. I think it's helping with the closure. Padme seems to understand that he's gone; she's not looking for him or crying like she tends to do if they are separated. She does seem sad though so she's getting a lot of extra attention this weekend.

The kids are sad but are doing okay. Haddie, the most verbal one about her emotions, has talked a lot of Newman dying. She told me a lot Friday, "I'm sad that Newman died." Then at bedtime, she exclaimed, "I'm mad at Newman!"

Lessons about life and dying can be hard.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


I remember a little over five years ago when I trained for my first half marathon. That first 5-mile run was monumental in my training. I didn't know my knees could take such a long run, and I also first thought about how it would be crazy to ever run the marathon distance of 26.2 miles. Josh ran a marathon the following year. Yeah, I thought he was crazy, but when my fast friend Pam qualified for Boston a couple years later I thought for the first time, Maybe I could run a marathon.

Then I dismissed that crazy thought.

About two years ago when I started training seriously with weekly mileage goals and speed work outs, I started getting stronger and faster. And I didn't automatically dismiss the marathon idea when I would think about it. I still thought it was crazy, and though I kept the idea secret: maybe a full marathon was doable for me one day. Two summers of running in Oxford helped too.

Fast-forward to three days after my first full marathon, and I still think running 26.2 miles is crazy, and maybe it's the high from the finish talking, but I'd do it again. There's something beautiful seeing an accomplishment come to fruition that can be traced back two and half years when all I wanted was to get back into shape after having my third child. Somewhere along the way, I started to really love running.

All the miles.

Lack of sleep from early morning runs.

A whole lot of ice.

And pain.

It was all worth it when I got to cross the finish yesterday.

We've all read and heard the motivational stories involving marathons. Marathons serve as perfect illustrations for life lessons and the spiritual. With close friends and family that have ran full marathons, I've heard their inspirational stories. My cousin Annie who cheered me on Saturday wrote, "It takes a lot of support to train. It takes support to run. I don't know why we think we can do life alone...God gave us people for a reason. Find your people. We're all in this together. We need Him and we need each other." So true. I love that phrase, "Find your people," but alas, that will be another blog post I've been writing.

Training for and running a marathon taught me a few things...

I'm still amazed what our bodies can do. For a girl who has never been athletic and inherited weak knees, I'm grateful that God gives us the ability to get stronger when we train. 

Running has been a great stress-reliever and a good way to manage my health, plus it's the only sport I'm good at (it's true, ask my boys about my catching "ability"). I was grumpy for the couple of weeks leading up to the race. I realized it was because my stress-reliever was taken away as I was tapering before the race.

The support and love I've been shown is overwhelming. 

From Josh and the family who watched kids so I could get my miles in and get a good night's sleep the night before the race. 

To all the Facebook love and encouraging texts from friends and family. Race day (and the weeks leading up to it) brought lots of encouragement. 

The crowds were great, and I saw the same spectators throughout the race as they moved along the race route to cheer their person (and others in the pace group).

Seeing my family twice on the route and at the finish helped so much. 

Can you tell this was around mile 9?
I was feeling awesome here.
And then there were the runners I met at the race. In my experience, the running community is typically very encouraging to runners at all levels. And there's something that bonds people together when they discover that they share a love for running. 

This is around mile 6 I think.
I ran with these guys the first half: Ricardo my pacer and Steve,
a first-time marathoner from Kansas City. 

I was thankful for my pace group at this race, especially my pacers. I don't think I would have done as well at my first marathon without a pace group. I would have burned out too early because I would have gone too fast during the first half. The pacer Ricardo had us walk at each water station for about 10-15 seconds. That little relief helped to sustain me. The first 13 miles flew by as I swapped running stories with Ricardo and Steve.

These awesome female pacers took over the second half. 
The race route wound through neighborhoods even cutting through a few yards to get on a path a couple of times. Because there were so many turns, it was a good distraction to the amount of miles. Shortly after the women took over, I had to stop to stretch my hips at a water stop. Annette gave me some electrolyte tablets because my calves and hips were cramping up. I hit a wall about mile 15, and I got really tired and slowed down. I took another gel, made myself catch up with the group, and Steve and the pacers encouraged me until I shook it off. I did okay for another couple miles, but started falling behind little by little around mile 19. 
Miles 20-24 were pretty awful. I was by myself. My legs were so heavy. I was hurting in places I had never hurt before. I was having to stop and walk way too much. This was when I had the crazy-two-extreme-line-of-thoughts. 

"So next time I train, I'm going to work on building up more strength in my legs so I can get through these miles quicker...."

and then 

"Can I just stop? I could call the fam to pick me up."

Back and forth. What kept me going was all the encouragement and advice I had been given by my running friends. I replayed it in my mind to stay motivated. Fast friend Pam telling me that you work with what you've got on race day. My Oxford running friend Myron's comments were running through my mind, "It's going to be hard. Your legs will alternate between feeling like rubber, lead, and fire. You will want to quit. You'll want to quit, but you won't. You'll run the next step, and the next, and the next, and you will persevere one agonizing step at a time."

As I neared the 24.25 mark, I told myself I was going to pick it up and get the race done. That would only be about 2 more miles. I was able to pick up my pace. My legs were still hurting, but they didn't feel like lead anymore. I got about a mile out from the finish, and I saw Ricardo.

He had come towards the end of the route to cheer on the pace group and join them, and realized I had fallen behind. He jumped on the course exclaiming, "There you are, Amanda! How you feeling?" As he ran alongside me, I told him I was really hurting and tired. He said, "Yep. You should be - it's almost the end of the marathon. But you have to finish. I'll be your personal pacer now and windbreak." He ran in front of me setting the pace - getting ever so faster. About a tenth of the mile out, he got off the course and said I had finish it on my own and "Run it out."

And I did.

There are few things in this world that parallel that elusive runner's high. I'm thankful I get to run; thankful God gave me the opportunity to run a marathon. And yeah, I'll probably do another one again. But I'll let my knees heal up first...