Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Today I...

These are always fun for me to look back at after a while. It's been a busy one and its not over yet. I'm sitting in the parking lot with 10 minutes to spare so I thought I'd stay busy...

6:30AM - Hit snooze. We were up way too late last night! Our neighbors came over to join us for some spaghetti carbonara for dinner...at 10:15 PM. :) I'm glad someone else eats as late as we do!

7:00 - Finally drag myself out of bed to shower and get the kids ready.

7:55 - Leave the house.

8:05 - Hit Starbucks for a large iced tea for the day! Great choice.

8:15 - Arrive at church for our second day of VBS. I'm working with a group of kindergardeners-to-be which is fun but a little tiring too!

12:15 - Leave church after a fun-filled morning for me and the kids.

12:20 - Drop kids at sitter.

12:30 - Meet Tom for a quick lunch.

1:00 - Customer appointment! We finalized her selections for her house. Always love those appointments!

2:15 - Power-worked. Cleared my desk, answered emails, wrote checks. In general, kicked a few have-to's off of my long list.

4:00 - Left the office to go home to pick up leotards. Chatted with Tom's mom about the upcoming family weekend. Cannot wait!!!!

4:15 - Pick kids up at sitter.

4:30 - Drop girls at gymnastics. Hang out with Jack in the sweltering gym. It is SO hot!!!!!

5:00 - Trade the kids off with Tom. Hit the post office to drop letters for an upcoming HOA meeting - our last!

5:15 - Fireside Chat to welcome our newest member-to-be to our Rotary club.

6:00 - Back to church for a potluck with the small groups that meet on Tuesday nights. I'm early - hence the parking lot blog post! :)

I really need to keep up the productivity after this potluck, but I have a feeling I'm going to crash!!!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Summer Summary - So Far

It's been a while since I've posted. Summer's gotten the best of me. :) School's out and I'm busy trying to make the most out of our 8 short weeks together!

1. I haven't unloaded the girls backpacks or sorted papers. We showed the house the day after school was out so I hurriedly shoved the papers back in after looking at them on the last day. I have a TON of sorting to do.

2. I let the girls quit. Well, kind of - I'm not sure they know it yet. It was hard but we needed to do it to maintain a low-key summer. So, 4H will wait another year. The judging began this week and I just didn't want to rush and stress for the first two weeks of our shortened summer. The Mini-Projects are so easy and not time consuming so I feel like a bit of a flake, especially since it was me and not them. We didn't make it to any of the meetings because they started after their bedtime, so I'm trying not to feel too bad! :) They'll thank me later - or not.

3. The girls and I are doing a lot of reading. I make them take books to the sitter's to read during the little ones' nap time. I've clocked two and a half books so far - not bad for me for two weeks' time. Josie's at 23 and Tessa's at around 25. Josie's favorites are Boxcar Children and Magic Tree House, but she'll throw in some Junie B. Jones sometimes too. Tessa is doing a great job on her easy readers and can pretty easily get through Junie B. Jones. The easy readers are great for her confidence but she's pretty proud when she can read a chapter book too.

4. They're still watching too much TV. I've made a big effort to make them turn it off when we're home after a show or two in the morning, but everyone is so quiet when it's on! I made an "I'm Bored" list and an "I'm Bored" bag to pre-empt that battle. So far, it's worked pretty well. This morning, Jack played Plah-Doh, Josie worked on Spiral Art and Tessa did sticker paper dolls. I love that they finally have time for all of those great Christmas and Birthday Gifts! I'm also glad I stuck some of them away for a "rainy" day.

5. I feel like a slug. I've run once since the last race. I just can't get up the gumption to get out and do it. I feel like I need a new challenge but I'm too lazy to seek one out. So, I'm giving myself a bit of a pass for a little while. Waiting for inspiration to strike!

6. I think this summer will feel too short. I can already feel it. I always used to wonder why these crazy parents actually enjoyed having their kids home and looked forward to summer. Of course, that's when my kids were in full parental needy mode and I had to spend day in and day out catering to their every need. Now that they're a little more fun and self-sufficient, it's actually fun having them around. I love the laid back bedtimes and wake ups and trips to the library. I don't enjoy the "taking three kids to Walmart" part of things, but it's all about sacrifice I guess. :)

That's it for now. Time for me to turn off the TV for them once again - just when I was beginning to enjoy the peace and quiet. :)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Steamboat Half Marathon - Sunday

This post is continued - start here on Thursday/Friday.

I did not sleep well on Saturday night, but didn't seem to be too tired to get up and at 'em at 5:15AM. It seems like I need so much less sleep on vacation and this was no exception. After a quick bagel with peanut butter, two cups of coffee, and warming my shoes by the fire, we were ready to go! (I left the window open and my shoes were freezing!!!!) The temperature was bit chilly to say the least and we were heading up the mountain to the start line.

We left the condo around 5:50 or so and went into town. We didn't have to wait long to get on the bus that would take us to the top. If I had it to do again, I probably would wait for a later bus, closer to 6:30 so that we could have stayed a bit warmer. The bus ride was probably 20 minutes and good to see what we would be running. 

Up we go!

It was very (very) cold at the top. We hit the port-a-jons and tried to find the sun and get warmed up a bit. I only had one or two complaints about this race and the gear check was one. It seemed we had to check our gear a bit sooner than we needed. We had to stand around in our race gear for about 10 minutes and it was COLD!!!! 

The sun started peaking through the mountains. I've never run a race with only 1,000 people. It was fun being in such a small group for the start. 

There was the cutest little cabin at the start. Apparently, it was a lamb farm. 

Finally, the sun came out and it was close to get the party started! I think it was only an "on your mark, get set, go" type of a start. 

Tom kept telling me not to worry. It's all down hill he said. It is not. See all of those little blips? Those are all hills. And, they were hard. I'll revisit that hill leading into mile 23 (or 10 for us half runners).

I didn't have any grand expectations for this race. Initially, I had hoped to come in under 2 hours but I wasn't sure how I would be affected by the altitude and the hills. Once in Steamboat, I revised my expectations to a 2:10 finish. I figured I could do 10 minute miles give or take and not kill myself. Plus, I just didn't have the pre-race jitters, or confidence, like I usually do. So, I figured I didn't have much adrenaline to carry me through. 

The scenery was absolutely stunning! This race was voted one of the top 10 for scenery and it would be hard to convince me that it is not number 1. That little hill on the right seemed to stay with us forever. And, the guy to the far right also stayed with me forever. In fact, I would guess most people that I was near in mile 1-2 were within a minute or two of my finish. I kept seeing the same people!

And, finally, my favorite view of the whole race. A huge grin crept on my face when I came around the bend and I just loved this section of the race. If you look really close, you can see the ski slopes in the far distance. Tons of cows and horses were around too. I really felt like I was out in the middle of God's country. 

I think this picture was taken around mile 8. You can see the slopes in the distance again. They're getting closer! 

Finally, we arrived at mile 9 with a looming, huge (and I mean huge) hill to tackle. It was tough and it was long, but I managed to run the whole thing. I had read to save something back for this hill and I did try to do that but I think I was still at a 10:30, maybe 11:00, mile on this one. I had kept up a 9 minute pace until this point. I'll have to pull my splits, but I think I was very consistent with my 9 pace with only one or two miles slightly less. And, I was feeling pretty good coming into this hill.

This is looking back at the hill after I had conquered it. Love the reverse iPhone camera.

Luckily, what goes up must come down in this race. But, not before an aid station at mile 10 complete with frozen electrolyte pops. I grabbed one and nursed it for the next mile. It was nice treat!

It was at this point that I felt like I was running out of steam. I took my final gu pack (my third!) because I wanted as much energy as I could muster. It was downhill, which was easier on the lungs, but hard on my legs. I did manage to make up a bit of time. I was constantly doing the math to figure out where I would finish and at this point I realized that even 10 minute miles would probably get me in under two hours and that kept one foot going down in front of the other. 

Finally, I started seeing signs of town. The last two miles were rough. And long. The final stretch comes through the main drag of town and I expected throngs of crowds. They were there but probably not until the last 1/4 mile or so. I caught Katie and Claudia off to the side and that gave me enough upmpf to finish the race strong. I managed a sub-2 hour finish by about 29 seconds which was my original goal. Katie pulled out an awesome PR! And, on an incredible course to boot.

I loved this race. The scenery was awesome. The people were friendly. And, I enjoyed running with the same people. If I were the race coordinator, I would only change a few things... (and these are super, duper minor - I really did love the race!)

1. The gear check - let us keep our stuff a little longer, especially when it's cold. Maybe have the van take off after the start?

2. Maybe one or two more aid stations? I'm probably spoiled by the mini with stations every 1-1.5 miles, but one more station on this run would have been really nice. Although, since they were more spread out, I felt like I could walk through them. I grabbed Gatorade and water at each! 

3. Provide some kind of food right at the finish line - even if small. I was woozy and usually like to get something in my belly right away. Not that food was too far away, but again, I was not feeling myself and the girls had to lead me to it. 

After water, a banana and my flip flops (no major blisters - yay!), I was feeling remarkably good. Back to the condo for showers and checkout. I snuck in a final cup of coffee on the deck by the pool before leaving.

Then, Creekside again for our reward - the Nutella waffle! But, not before our main course. :) I chose the Huevos Benedict - so, so good! The waffle was good, but not quite what we expected. We sat outside again and enjoyed the view.

Back in the car and to the airport we went. I fell in love with Colorado all over again on the drive back. On the way into town, it was cloudy. But, this day, it was clear and crisp and beautiful. The snow was melting and the views were breathtaking. We even caught some Bighorn Sheep along the highway. I have visited the mountains a lot in the winter, but never in the summer. I will be back without a doubt. 

I came home today renewed and refreshed. This morning, I was amazingly not sore. Tonight, I can feel it creeping and feel like tomorrow may be a bit rough. However, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I am so thankful for a husband who takes care of the kiddos, a friend who brought me along for the ride on her journey and a sister-in-law who wanted to play along!

Time: 1:59:31
Pace: 9:09
Place: 259/764 - 33%
Division: 27/96  - 28%

Steamboat Half Marathon - Saturday

This post is continued from here. Start there!

After a solid night's sleep, I think we all felt much better on Saturday. In to town we went to eat at Creekside Cafe. Holy cow. This place was beyond awesome. You know how sometimes, you walk into a restaurant and just smell something and think, "What's that? I'll have that?" This was that restaurant, except that smell was everything mixed together and positively mouthwatering! And, you could smell it a block away! We ate outside by the creek and had a very difficult time deciding on our meal. I went with the breakfast burrito. Yes. It was delish. Yes. It's a full pepper on top. Yes. I cut my own bangs before we left. Yes. I cut them too short. Yes. I had on two sweatshirts. I digress...

All of us decided we would be back the next day, post-race, to share the Nutella and whipped cream waffle. Next up was a drive up the mountain a bit to the Fish Creek Falls trailhead. We needed to burn off that breakfast! 

First, we took the paved path to the viewing point of the falls - it was only about 1/4 mile. Nice photo op though! Soon, we would be at the top of those falls and then some.

Then, we journeyed down to the bottom of the falls for more photos and the start of the long trek uphill to the top. This is the bridge at the bottom of the falls.

We headed up and up and up. Turns out, we climbed about 1,200 feet (to 9,000) and went about 2.5 miles each way for a 5 mile round trip hike. We were careful to take it slow since we were running 13.1 the next day. I was surprised at how often I needed to catch my breath in the middle of talking. Maybe I was talking too much. :)

This was probably the most difficult hikes I've done. I'm not saying it was hard, but the most rocks and elevation I've done anyway. Don't laugh. I took a picture of these animal droppings to ask Tom about later because we kept seeing it. His analysis? Deer or elk. I guess elk because it looked too big for deer. 

This grove of trees had us wondering - Aspen or Birch? I guessed Aspen and Katie guessed Birch. After further Googling, we've determined it's very hard to tell the difference. I'm open to expert interpretation. :) Either way...beautiful!


The last little portion of the hike was a bit treacherous. We all agreed we would have been extremely nervous to have our kids with us on this one.

It did provide the most beautiful views of the hike though.

Finally, we reached the falls. Only took us about an hour and a half. :) Beautiful. Peaceful. Serene. I could have slept here for hours!

I took a few pics on the way back down. Round trip it was 5 miles and about 3 hours. 

And, finally, a little Instagram collage of the hike.

Back to the condo and outside basking in the sun to get some reading in for the afternoon. Claudia and I have book club on Tuesday night, so we had some reading to do! We picked an Italian restaurant for dinner - Mazzola's - and headed out around 6 or so. We sat outside again and the food was SO good!!!! Redeemed ourselves from dinner the night before! 

Caprese Salad - there are tomatoes and mozzarella buried under the arugula and basil! 

They brought out flat bread and a hummus and olive oil dip too.

I ordered the spaghetti with a meatball. A huge meatball! It's hard to see in this pic, but it was ginormous. And delicious! 

Post Carbs :)

The evening was rounded out with a trip to Safeway to pick up bagels and almond butter for the pre-race breakfast. I had Katie drive up close to this bird to get a good photo. We saw these things everywhere! Turns out it is a Black Billed Magpie. Pretty birds!

Sleep didn't come easy for me that night. But, the next day was race day so I tried to rest the best I could! To be continued...Click Here.

Steamboat Half Marathon - Thursday/Friday

Well, half marathon number six is in the books! This was absolutely my favorite race so far, between the scenery, the trip out west, the company and, did I mention the scenery? I had read a lot online before going out and again once I was there but nothing prepared me for the sheer beauty of the course and the pictures here will not do it justice either. I will do my best!

As a reminder, I got myself signed up for this trip when I told my friend, Claudia, that I would run Colorado with her when she was ready. She has a goal to run a half in all 50 states and this race was number 19, I think. I truly enjoyed having an excuse for a girls' weekend and another half. Not to mention the fun we had too! Claudia is an awesome travel partner and I always enjoy seeing our Colorado family.

Claudia and I headed to the airport on Thursday night around 6 or so. Our flight was delayed and a bit bumpy, but not too bad really. We spent the first night at Katie and Jason's (Tom's sister and her husband) since we arrived so early. I didn't sleep great but woke up early feeling refreshed and ready to go for the day! We visited with the kiddos and Jason for a bit, and were able to have a hearty breakfast of Jason's pancakes before heading over to Amy's. The girls are getting so big and gave Claudia and I lots of snuggles after they warmed up a bit. I'll admit, I asked them to hold hands. :)

Clark seemed beyond old too!

The triplets are getting so big!!!! Evelyn is sitting up almost 100% by herself and Levi is almost there too. Jesslyn is not far behind and they can all sit and play really well. Evelyn showed us how she can sit and play with her toys which makes her seem so old!

Evelyn and I

Evelyn Playing

Evelyn's faces crack me up! All of babies liked to look at themselves in my phone's reverse camera.

Levi on Aunt Katie's lap.

Jesslyn has just the sweetest little face!

After all three of us fed some babies, which was a nice change from feeding our own children, we hit the highway around 11AM on Friday. We knew it was about 3 hours to Steamboat but weren't in a huge hurry. We were three moms on vacation without kids! :) The drive on 70 was relatively uneventful and we passed by my favorite exit, Silver Plume. Years ago, we were on our way to Breckenridge and were caravaning with my brother's friend's family. The two boys had walkie-talkies and one of the call names was Silver Plume. Always makes me smile. 

We exited the highway at Silverthorne for our journey north. After a quick stop at Chipotle, we were on our way. If we hadn't stopped for lunch, it would have been for the bathroom. We guzzled water on this trip in order to counteract the altitude, let alone prepare for the race. Water bottles were in hand at all times and I managed four days without a Diet Coke. :) 

We passed a nice butte on the way. I was surprised I remembered that term from geography, or some class like that. 

It wasn't long until we started seeing snow on the mountains.

And then, we started to see the snow up really close. See it on the left? I read somewhere that we crested 10,000 feet on the drive. The ears were certainly popping!

We got into town around 3 or so and checked into the condo a bit early which was nice. The Eagle Ridge Lodge was a great place and had a great rate for the race promo code. We didn't stay in the room long and realized we could still hit packet pick up on Friday so as to not have to worry about it on Saturday. It was at the base of Howelsen Hill which has an Alpine Slide and a huge ski jump. You can kind of see the jump in this photo.

Then, we cruised around town a little and walked along the Yampa River. 

We then had dinner at a not-great BBQ restaurant. All of us girls ordered the same thing, so maybe it was just a bad dish, but either way, it was not good. At all. We did manage to sit on the front porch and enjoy the ambiance. After a little dip in the hot tub, we were down for the night. I think the altitude got to Claudia and I more than Katie (she is more acclimated) and we were more tired than usual, despite the highly increased water intake. 

This is when I started getting nervous about the race. I was tired and had a headache and was thirsty all the time and really out of breath just on one flight of steps. To be continued...click here.