Monday, July 06, 2015

I Get It

There's a couple of Americans (that I know of, maybe there's more) that work for my Oxford program that have lived here in the UK several years. I saw why after my first full day here at Oxford. 


I had a full day of lectures and science & religion discussions. 
It's a nerd's dream.

I had a couple hours of break so a group of us walked down to a shopping area. It was a crowded, eclectic mix of old and new buildings. I loved it. I'm looking forward to exploring more.



This is the place where the Inklings met regularly. 
My hall is next to a beautiful park. I got to run this morning (I have a running buddy from the cohort!) and took another walk tonight. Big trees. Ponds. Lots of birds and squirrels. It's great.







View from the top of a bridge



My walk from the Porters Lodge to my building is full of flowers.



Okay I get it. I'm loving it here.

Getting to Oxford

It was hard to leave the kids and Josh at the airport, but my excitement carried me though. Plus, Face Time and free Wi-fi helped, too. I flew back in December, and there wasn't free wi-fi at my airports. This time I had free Wi-fi at every airport and on my bus to Oxford. I've been able to talk to the kids every day, even on the day I flew out while I was waiting in Charlotte.
 
My travel went pretty well. I got a bit sick on the long flight (I think it was a combo of something I ate, and my blood sugar dropped), but nothing a Coke-Cola and some sleep couldn't fix.

Up above the clouds on the way to Charlotte
This is my excited, but tired face. I'm about to get on the 7-hour flight to London. I also had accepted at this point to embrace the selfie. Hey, I gotta take some pictures of me on my adventures!

 This was my first flight with the awesome set-up. I watched two movies on the flight, listened to some music, and periodically checked our GPS position and stats. We are so spoiled now. I slept 30 minutes.

Pretty sure this curry dish was the main culprit of the sick-on-the-plane incident.
 The customs line was forever long. It moved steadily, but there were so many people! Lots of student groups. 
I waited awhile in the bus stop area (it's connected to the airport). I had a chai and people-watched. I noticed the diversity of the people working and waiting at the airport. I head lots of languages and accents. It made me smile when the bus driver called all the women, "Love."

I ran into an OC alum while I waiting to board the bus. I had changed into an OC t-shirt, and the student asked me if I worked at OC. 
On the bus to Oxford
I had some time to kill once I reached Oxford before I could check into my Hall. I had fish and chips in a square. I people-watched and read (aka drifted off periodically).




I took a taxi to the Hall and found my room. I got homesick unpacking, but I felt much better after I Face Timed again with the kids.

I managed to stay awake until 10 PM that first night. I felt pretty good today so I think that I'm about adjusted to the time change. Around 2 PM today I was struggling, but we had coffee at 3 so I survived.


I'm loving the view out my window. 
I'm in Oxford!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Firstborn

This kid can be so happy. Here he was excited to jump off a pole in the heat with a full tummy of samples. (Notice his brother and sister are a bit tired by this point.)
And what really makes him happy currently? Beating the socks off me in Monopoly. 
Which is every time we play.
 Here he had hotels on all his properties. He drove me to mortgage all of my properties and lose all my cash.
His secret? He's responsible. He saves until he has a few thousand and buys one set of hotels. Then saves again until he buys another set.

Me? I get a few hundred, and I'm putting a house on that property, Baby.

Pretty sure Casen is going to be taking care of me when I'm old.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

My Running Journey Part 3

I've written about my running over the last year. I started training regularly in February for my half marathon at the end of April. Here's what helped:

1. My runner friend Pam encouraged me to write out the entire training plan. I had my weekly mileage goal along with weekly speed work. Even if I missed some goals due to sickness or injury, I had structure that got me back on track.

2. Run with a club. I did my long runs with a local running club. It was awesome. There were huge turnouts - almost felt like a race. The venue changed each time that followed part of the upcoming marathon route. They had water/gatorade/food stops along the routes, too.

3. Long runs are practice runs. By the time the half marathon came along, I knew exactly what to wear, what to eat beforehand, and how I could run without music.

Race day was perfect weather. The last time I had run the half marathon in OKC, it rained and hailed during the race. The training paid off. I was surprised when I realized I had been running over 6 miles because I felt so good. I knew when I hit 10 miles, my knees can start to act up so I pay attention to my pace and gait. The hills especially towards the end ate my lunch. I realized I needed more experience running hills. I completed the race faster than my prior halves, but I still want to be quicker and get closer to two hours (my time was about 2:20).

About 2 days later, I biked and started lifting. I didn't run for a few more days. Over the next month, I cross-trained trying to strengthen my muscles. My weekly mileage wasn't very high though. I did a ten mile run two weeks before another half marathon.

Pam said I tricked her into running the half marathon with me by saying we could have a kid-free weekend away with our husbands. All she heard was "kid-free weekend." She had just ran the Boston and did a long run relay stretch at the OKC race. The four of us did have a fun weekend in Stillwater. I'm glad I ran the race, but it was rough.

The race route is pretty neat. There's parts that go through quiet neighborhoods, a part through the OSU campus, and around the lake. There's some rolling hills, but nothing too bad. It's called the Scorcher because towards the end, it's getting PRETTY HOT.

Here's what I learned:

1. I've got to have high weekly mileage to have a good time in a long race. That being said, I don't think I could have ran more between OKC and Stillwater races. I needed some recovery time after the half in OKC. I also worked full-time getting ready for Oxford. In a future season of my life, that month in-between the races will probably hold more miles.

2. I can be fast. Maybe not for long, but I can be speedy.
The plan was for Pam to set a pace for us for the first 6 miles. I wasn't wearing my Garmin watch. I wanted to avoid paying attention to the time. So I followed Pam. And we flew.
I got a PR for one mile: 8:37 and for a 5K: 28:39.
After mile 1, I was super tired. By mile 3, I thought I was going to throw up. If Pam hadn't been running with me, I would've quit, turned around, and walked back. So thankful she was there. Despite my really slow miles towards the end, my fast beginning got me a 2:27 total time. Not bad considering what else was going on...

3. Do NOT wear new clothes for a race.
I know, I know. How many times have I read this on running blogs?
Pam and I bought matching running shorts at Eskimo Joe's. We thought it would be cool to match.
Sigh.
I also thought it was cool that the shorts had built-in underwear.
Sigh.
Turns out that I am allergic to that built-in underwear nylon, and 13 miles in new, itchy shorts was not good. I chaffed horribly and am scarred on my legs where the nylon rubbed my thighs.
Morale of the story? Never ever wear new clothes for a race. Period.

4. Half marathons in different months can be radically different season-wise. The April race was cool weather, especially for Oklahoma. The June race was a lot hotter. When I train in the spring, I don't drink a lot the day before and the day of a big run. Otherwise, I over-hydrate. I learned that I need to hydrate a lot more for the summer races. I was so thirsty during the Stillwater race. I drank a lot at each stop never filling quenched.

5. I'm not ready for a full marathon yet. I had been playing with the idea of running a full one in late fall, but I wanted to see how my training was going after July. Pam had a good point when she said that I have a focus on Oxford. They'll be a time for full marathons. For now, I'm good with working on my 5K time, and I'll probably run another half marathon late fall. Maybe I can get closer to the 2-hour mark on my time.

6. Despite the pain, sickness, and exhaustion from this last race, I'd run it again.
And I'm still excited about my running journey.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Catching Up

I haven't blogged in a long time. It's probably the longest I've gone without a post. Life's been busy and at times difficult. But we've been blessed, too. Here's what we've been doing….

Family-filled Christmas.




 

Confirmed H is a leftie except she eats with both hands.


Casen's confidence was sky-high in 1st grade.

Casen wrote this note. 

He also practiced writing ransom letters by cutting out letters. 


I realized how much of a natural athlete L Child is. He had a mind for the game too being able to direct his teammates about what to do. As a very non-athlete, I am in awe of that kind of ability.

We got a few snow/ice storms much to our delight.


And I realized one night in March that my baby boy C isn't a baby anymore.


Baseball season started. Two kids on two different teams was kicking my butt. After my semester was over,  the late ballpark nights began to be a little more fun. 

 

And oh, how I love to watch my boys play some ball. Again, I'm amazed at how much they can do and understand. I Playing? Not so much. Liam told me recently, "Mama, throw the ball harder." I replied, "That's as hard as I can throw it. I'm not much of a ball player."

Spring Break happened. Much needed rest. Cousins and day trips.

 
H started acting two. 

  

One particularly diva-lesque day recently was hard. Really hard. Like I-tried-to-hide-in-my-room-and-eat-chocolate hard. Then there are times that she's as sweet as sugar.

She likes to brush and fix my hair. 
We talked to the boys about Dad's early onset Alzheimer's. The boys have known a long time that Bunny has hard days. Some days he can't play. Some days he needs to sleep more. We finally reached the point that we sat the boys down and explained the disease.




Discussions about suffering in this world and how there's no cure for this disease are not my favorite topics. Yet I'm reminded to...

 ...live one day at a time and soak up memories with Dad…

...appreciate the time we have right now with him…

…and not worry about what next week will bring for Dad and us.

I'll remember our Hope and keep trusting the LORD.

 Easter. 
I didn't get any good pictures of the kids hunting eggs. No worries though! I got this excellent picture of my chocolate-covered Peep and me. 


No judgement, people. Or should I say, Peeps.

I realized that Wild Man L Child has been training Haddie. She's not afraid of anything.

 

I trained for my first half marathon since having a third kid. In the year I trained, I've gotten faster and stronger. I've learned some things about myself.

At the start line. Running the OKC Memorial is such an experience!
Had to get iced right after but I'm making plans for the next one. I'll blog about that soon.
H gave up the bottle. I know, I know. You might be thinking, Wait. Didn't she do that LAST summer? 
Um, no. And as much as I was dreading it, it hasn't been bad. 
She still asks for one though after two weeks. It's not whiny or freaking-out asking. I think she's just checking to see if there really is NO more bottles. After I say she doesn't have one anymore, she moves on to her next question. Which is usually, "Eat?"



Storm season started here. Three nights in a row of thunder, rain, and sirens equals evenings of distraction. Which means Mama said, "Sure, you guys can paint."

 

By the way, in case you were wondering, first grade is when kids learn to hold up the peace sign in pictures.

Bedlam baseball and Dodgers baseball starts up!





I ended the semester with dressing up in regalia and sitting through two graduations.


I still have a lot to do in preparation for my time at Oxford this summer. 
But Starbucks is pulling me through.



Oh, and the fact that time is a bit more flexible now that I'm done with the semester.
We've had L Child and Mama day:

                                     

There's a new baby elephant at the zoo!

And C and Mama day:


And Making-Slime Days.




Looking forward to the summer!