Thursday, December 29, 2016

24 weeks!

Does 24 weeks pregnant mean I start telling people that I am SIX MONTHS (!?!?!?!) PREGNANT? The theme of disbelief and denial have continued. I think at this point, I believe that I am pregnant (when I remember that I am pregnant) but I can't believe that we are going to have an infant.  A tiny little baby that is totally dependent on us for everything.  The infant stage is pretty intimidating to me.  Toddlers are my jam - but infants - they can do nothing besides eat and poop.

21 Weeks 4 days - the Babes and I rocking an Ugly Sweater for Ugly Christmas Sweater Day at School
I like to make goals.  It helps me streamline my thinking and not dwell on unimportant things. I was telling Ian how I am trying to narrow down some goals for parenting our child(ren) that will take us all the way through his (their) lives. Ian suggested that we use part of the Boy Scout Oath and try to raise a child who is: physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight (I have since added socially normal - this may have happened when said child's father was acting weird while we were at Target).  Boom!  Goal written!

23 weeks 1 day - I was taken out for my birthday with some friends - I managed to put some make-up on
The baby is staring to become some fun sizes that I can almost picture a human being. Week 22 the baby was the size of a Nalgene water bottle. Week 23 the baby was the size of a Barbie (Ken I guess in our case) Doll.  Week 24 the baby is a size of a beer growler - how very Colorado of the baby.

Christmas Day at church - 23 weeks 6 days
At our most recent check up (24 weeks) we found out that I have an anterior placenta - which is why I have not really been feeling the baby move too much. I thought I was slightly crazy for wishing for stronger kicks.  But come to find out, there is essentially a "cushion" that the baby is kicking most of the time.  I also think my 27 pound weight gain has not helped anything either...#justsayin

My belly button is definitely transitioning from a "flattie" to an "outie".  Sometimes I complain to Ian that my belly button hurts - I can feel it stretching.  Ian reminds that "this is what a miracle feels like" - well folks, miracles don't feel great - they feel like stretching and pain.

Christmas Day
I have been slowly working on my registry.  Babies need so much stuff.  Goodness gracious!  I have trying to stick to one place for the most part, but my in-laws told me about the Baby Box and I was like, "Perfect!".  So our kid is going to sleep in a box for the first 5 months of his life.  Target Registry tells you every time you log in, "Ian and Alissa's Baby is expected in 111 days."  Every time I think "How is that possible?!?" 

24 weeks 2 days - strangers are starting to comment on my pregnancy and are shocked when I tell them that I am due in April - yes person-I-just-met-in-the-grocery-store, I can read your mind - I am going to be HUGE:)

We sporadically work on name ideas.  At this point Ian has a #1 name (Samuel Henry) and I have a #1 name (Benjamin Lewis) and they are not the same.  I don't think the flow of Samuel Henry is strong enough and Ian says my Benjamin is too popular (it is the top 10).  If I knew with 100% certainty that there are more boys in our future and that Benjamin would become less popular, I would not care so much.  Hopefully we still have 17-18 week to hash out a name for the little guy. 

The following paragraph is such a "mom" thing to say, but I am well on my way to be a mom so mom it up I will!  At our 24 week check-up the nurse practitioner was listening to the baby's heartbeat and told us that he had the hiccups.  And that he was not happy about it.  I am not sure how she knew that he was angry, but that is what she said.  She also said that he must be (and I quote), "...neurologically advanced to know that he has the hiccups and to be mad about them...".  My kid is neurologically advanced!  It was definitely one of my first proud momma moments.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

On turning 29

Today I turned 29 years old!   How crazy!  I seriously feel about exactly the same as I did when I was 23 (and when I was 23, I felt about 18 - ha!)  Last year, I did a good job of taking selfies throughout the day.  So far this year I have not taken any pictures, so I am going to steal one or two from last year:)

The main reason I am blogging today is that I feel like this is the "last"s of so many types of birthdays.  It could be my last birthday in Colorado.  It is my last birthday as a not-mom (before you are married, you are single...before you are a mom/parent, you are a_____?).  It is my last birthday of my 20s.  It is my last birthday (let's hope) as a Seminary Wife.  

We started our day at Snooze (after my amazing husband de-snowed and de-iced our car in the -1 degree weather).  We like Snooze for breakfast, but we don't make it there very often.  We went to Snooze last year for my birthday breakfast and then we did the same this year.  I had Gingerbread Pancakes topped with something awesome (I don't know what it was, but it was great!  Something in between butter and whipped cream.)  Ian had a jalapeno, mushroom, and sausage omelet.

It pretty much looked the same this year, except for more ice and snow.

After Snooze, we headed to find birthday present #1 - firewood.  When Ian asked me what I wanted for my birthday this year, the first thing that came to mind was, "a break from school" (which I am getting - I am enjoying the challenges I took on this year, but I have burnt myself out a bit, so I was ready for a break - praisetheLord!)  The next thing that came to mind was "a fire all day".  We so enjoy having a wood burning fireplace in our little apartment, but we don't burn a fire that often.  So Ian bought me two bundles of firewood and we have had a fire going all afternoon.  It smells a bit like a campfire in the apartment, but I don't care.  It is so cozy to hear the wood pop and crack as the fire burns.

my view from the couch - I am too lazy to try to get a good picture of our fire

We headed to church to see the Children's Program - we can't believe that in a few years we will have a kiddo up there and I will be the Mom in the front row trying to video it all on my phone to send to grandparents {mindblowing}.  The kids did a good job and it was fun to see all their different personalities and watch them sing.   After church we stopped at home for a snack and then headed out for birthday fun round #2.

We went to Target and stopped at the Starbucks there for my free birthday drink {venti decaf holiday spice flat white}.  We wandered Target and I looked at all the cute white girl things and all the cute baby things that I have registered for but not seen in person yet.  We hit up the maternity section and I found a top that fits (and looks festive, but I can wear after the holidays soon).  Ian said my requests for new windshield wipers and certain pencils were not real requests so he let me wander Target and bought me whatever we came across.  We ended up with a maternity top and a pregnancy wedge - it is a type of pillow that is supposed to help me sleep better (doubtful, but it was on sale fore 10 bucks so I will give it a try).

After Target, we stopped by Panera to get my free birthday treat.  I choose a cinnamon roll (that I later enjoyed with a cup of coffee.  Don't worry Mommas - it was decaf.  I follow all the dumb pregnancy rules the best I can.)  Once we got home, I camped out on the couch to read, blog, and do absolutely nothing.  It always takes me a couple more days than I anticipate to "recover" from school.  This past semester definitely kicked my butt.

We had a lowkey evening.  I watched a ridiculously cheesy Christmas movie (my favorite).  I ended the day in bed reading (also my favorite).  What a great day!  I loved seeing emails pop up on my phone all day telling me of friends near and far who were wishing me a happy birthday.  Here's to all the adventure that the next 365 days will bring!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

20 weeks

We are halfway through this pregnancy!  I can't believe it!  We found out this week that we are expecting a boy!  I can't believe it!  I finally understand why people say things like, "I can't believe my kid is 5!  I can't believe they are in kindergarten!"  Every stage of parenthood has been met with denial thus far.    

I was super convinced that we were having a girl, so Ian and I have only been discussing girl names.  Guess we will have to shelve those.  We both would have picked a boy, so we are pretty excited!  

I think it is finally starting to sink in that I am pregnant. I feel huge and people have started patting my stomach.  I pat their stomachs back (unless it is Ian).  Yup, I am glad that we are not having a little girl to take after her Momma's sassy ways.

18 weeks 3 days - good thing my phone remembers when I take pictures.  

It is definitely December in our household - lots of Christmas music and lots of looming deadlines for school for both of us (I still have 2 finals to write...yikes!).  The good news is it will all be over in 2 weeks.

Unfortunately, I have given up a bit on exercising.  I got out for a couple of walks this week.  I try to motivate myself to go, but it is getting colder here and it has snowed a couple of times.  I like running so much more - I actually feel like some stress is relieved and running generates way more body heat.  If I run these days my hips hurt quite a bit the next day so I stick to walking.

Pumpkin Pie 5k - we walked it together.  It was FREEZING and walking a 5k makes me feel lame.  Ian is a good encourager.  And he gave me half of his piece of pumpkin pie afterwards "for the baby".
However, I do dream of days when I can run again which has lead to an obsession of looking at strollers. I read a blog post the other day that said something along the lines of, "You will never find the perfect jogging stroller."  That was a bit defeating!  I would love a jogger that can accommodate an infant through a 75 lb kiddo and is not crazy expensive and is height adjustable and could maybe convert to a double jogger without being bulky.  I am super torn between getting a carseat/stroller combo or just not worrying about it and getting a good carseat and a completely different stroller.  Yes I have wasted time too much time on the internet researching options and I don't feel like I have found anything I like.  At least we have a few more months to figure it out.

December 1st!  20 weeks 3 days.  Ignore my hair - I was not really planning on showing this picture to people.
Speaking having a few more months, we have yet to pick a hospital (well we have picked one, but we should probably take a tour and see the place before we actually decide) or found out about any type of birthing class or anything really.  The only reason I stay on top of doctor visits is they do not let me leave until I schedule the next few appointments (smart people).  I also keep saying that I need to find some maternity workout clothes and maternity work clothes (I have been wearing clothes given to me by friends and family - all super generous) but then I remember how much I don't actually like shopping (I think I do until I am in the store) and so many stores have gone to "we only carry maternity clothes online" - ugh! I just want to try on a couple of different pairs of pants to see how they fit - that's all!

I slept awesome over Thanksgiving break and then I was back to hit or miss this past week.  I can usually fall asleep pretty easily, it is just a matter staying asleep between 1-5am.  I know it is only going to get worse so I am trying to be okay with it.  Whenever I feel tired I go to bed so I can a get a good 4-5 hours in - which means I go to bed at 7pm or 8pm (more common) some nights and then get up at 4am to finish whatever I did not get done the night before.  

Did I mention that I am excited that we are having a boy? I am so ready for some kicks or jabs.  I think I have gained too much weight to feel anything right now.  I do feel little things that are similar to an air bubble popping but who knows if that is the baby or not.  I am trying to keep things fairly simple on our baby registry, but I can't resist the baby boy clothes!  They are just so cute.  I have heard that we might get a lot of clothes and so we don't need to register for much, but I since I am not trying to not buy any, I am registering for as much as I want!  

I love one sentence prayers. I like longer prayers too, but there is something about a one sentence prayer that can almost instantly calm my heart.  One thing that I pray often is, "Lord, prepare our hearts for what you have for us."

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thankfuls 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!  Ever since I have been little I have been making a list of 100 things I am thankful for each year on (or close to) Thanksgiving Day.  The tradition was started by my mom on a car ride out to Iowa to visit family for Thanksgiving and has continued.

Thankfuls for 2016 (in no particular order):
1. God - merciful, just, creator, faithful, good
2. Jesus - for allowing his Bigness to become human
3. Ian - my best friend, wooer of my heart, pointer to Jesus, and my love
4. Family - they celebrate us and encourage us as only people who have known us forever can
5. Friends who love us like family
6. Christmas music
7. Rest
8. Sleep
9. cozy fires in fireplaces
10. the one who He has blessed us with - next year at this time, we will know you Wee One
11. the blessed 2nd trimester
12. my babies at school - I have the best this year (do I say that every year?)
13. Hadley Rose and the Donkey - our reliable and safe vehicles 
14. a school that is warm in the winter and cool in the summer
15. decaf coffee
16. snuggle blankets
17. Grandpa and Kathryn - they never miss a holiday card
18. traditions that bring joy and not burden or stress
19. a washer and dryer that is in our apartment
20. Target and all its first world white girlness and its dollar section
21. my first world white girl problems
22.  God's faithfulness throughout Ian's grad school
23. The light at the end of the long adventure of grad school
24. my love - Ian
25. coffee - Ian
26.  my love's job - Ian
27. Irish coffees - Ian
28. eggnog - Ian - I second that!
29. books - Ian
30.  Riley (our friends' golden retriever) - Ian
31. our balcony - Ian
32. board games - Ian
33. our skylight -  Ian
34. Logos Software - hebrew and greek translation software - Ian
35. my professors - Ian
36. Ben Shapiro -  Ian
37. coffee creamer -  Ian
38. free panera bagels -  Ian
at this point Ian had said coffee about three times - we love our coffee
39. Matt and Cathleen -  Ian - some of the most generous people we know and teachers of how to love the "least of these"
40. Cary and Brandy -  Ian - and the blessing of having family here in Denver
41. the Bible -  Ian 
42. the Baby -  Ian
43. the Wooleys -  Ian - the best mentors ever!
44. my work family - they took such good care of me in August and September (and always!)
45. earplugs - Ian
46. gas grills - Ian - especially the free gas grills in our apartment complex
Coffee again from Ian - this time it was McDonalds coffee, which he claimed is different from free panera coffee, coffee that goes in Irish Coffees, and coffee from home...
47. Polish Pottery - Ian
48. Avocados and Gauc - Ian
49. Cinnamon Rolls
50. my fitbit
51. White Noise Makers
52. Korea - Ian - my heart is so full when I think about Korea
53. Kimchi
54. Chinese Korean Food - Ian
55. Comfortable maternity clothes that friends have allowed me to borrow
56. the ability to exercise
57. a friend who understand Calculus, teaching as a mission field, and running
58. My Bubba - a ginomorous water bottle that I have:)
59. Ian's willingness to fill up Bubba ALL the time
60. slippers
61. Christmas lights
62. road trips
63. completing goals
64. dreaming about what the future could look like
65. post-it notes and reminders
66. space heaters
67. My parents - it is so fun to watch them become grandparents
68. Jared and Katrina - we have so much fun with them
69. sunshine
70. it snowed twice in the last week - all the holiday feels
71. helpful Calculus websites - Khan Academy and MIT opencourseware
72. pedicures
73. that Ian and I agree on what to cut from our budget and what we prioritize
74. God's provisions
75. America
76. Turkey, cranberry, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower casserole, fruit salad, green bean casserole, corn casserole, beer bread, and pumpkin pie
77. Our American oven
78. paper snowflakes
79. libraries
80. friends who are just as willing to run 6 miles with you as walk for 20 minutes
81. a clean kitchen
82. answered prayers
83. pregnancy apps
84. smartphones
85. GPS (ours is named Gemma)
86. when Ian and I have a break from school at the same time
87. Penny Su - our dog niece
88. peanut butter + chocolate
89. schools that do not run out of tp
90. schools that have western style toilets in heated bathrooms (the more often I go pee, the more I am thankful for not Korean bathrooms at school)
91. Yoga & Yoga Mats
92. Ultrasounds - Ian 
93. Leftovers - Ian
94. Catch Phrase
95. Prenatal Vitamins
96. pandora
97. Cashews
98. Dan, Sara, Gracie, Sean, and Lauren - people who have changed our lives forever
99. Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins - they are the best!
100. math - Ian

Here are my 2015 Thankfuls, 2014 Thankfuls, 2013 (I think we made a list but did not post it?), 2012 Thankfuls, 2011 Thankfuls, 2010 Thankfuls, and 2009 Thankfuls.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

16 weeks

16 weeks = 4 months.  It is crazy to me that we are 4 months pregnant!  I am in a strange combination of physically knowing I am pregnant (my clothes don't fit) but mentally not realizing it.  I was in Target the other day and I walked past the baby section and found myself thinking, "Maybe some day we might have kids..." And then I was like,"Oh shoot!  We ARE having a APRIL."  I forget that I am pregnant pretty often and then I remember and I think, "I have been pregnant fooorreeevvveeerrr!" - such a weird combination.

The second trimester has definitely been better for me than the first.  I have not be nauseous since the end of week 13 (and week 13 was quite the week for nausea...I think I used all of my strong will to literally will myself to not throw up in the car several times.)

I am exhausted.  I don't know if I am exhausted due to pregnancy or if it is everything I do in a day, but it seems nice to blame it on growing a human.  The lovely internet tells me that exercising while pregnant will actually help me feel more energetic.  I am sure that is the case for some women, but not this one.  I have started exercising again, but I do not think it is making me feel any more energetic.  If anything, I go to bed closer to 7pm on the days I exercise.  I typically take a two hour nap during the afternoons on Saturday and Sundays (and still sleep 9ish hours at night).

Anytime I complain about low energy or being tired all the time, Ian reminds, "You are growing a human!  This is what a miracle feels like." I wish miracles felt more like rainbows, unicorns, and pumpkin cinnamon rolls.  It is a good reminder and hopefully Ian will keep reminding me.  

I feel like the biggest challenge of this pregnancy is to not wish away the next 6 months.  I so badly want to close my eyes and wake up when its (this school year) is over.  I want Ian to be done with grad school.  I want to know who is going to cover my classes and what I have to prep for them.  I want to know what is going to happen next - are we staying in Denver?  Are we moving?  Where are we moving?  When are we moving?  I would probably feel this exact same way if I was not pregnant, but I think knowing that we are responsible for another human (who will be helpless and needs health insurance) makes it worse.  Ian and I have a great life.  I would not want to trade lives or problems with anyone.  So in the moments when I feel a whisper of, "Wake me up when its all over..."  I whisper back, "Dig deep and believe that God has good things for us in the next 6 months and we do not want to miss them."

2 Timothy 1:7, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self control."  This is not an exact translation, but it is what I have memorized - a mix of NLT and ESV.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Pregnancy Q & A

This is such an exciting and heart breaking post to write!  We are so excited that God has blessed us with a wee one on the way.  And, at the same time, our hearts break for our friends that desire for this and it is not going (or has not gone) as planned.  You are not far from our hearts and thoughts.  We are learning how to walk the path of deep deep joy and at the exact time deep grief.

Because we have friends all of the world we wanted to take a moment and let you know how life is looking for us as we experience pregnancy (and then I can look back some day and remember...see Answer #1).

Q: Has the baby eaten your brain?
A: Yes, yes it has.  There are days when I know that my students think I am stupid.  I can't remember things that should be so easy to think of.  I did mention to Ian the other night that I should maybe give myself some grace - I don't know how many women try to reteach themselves (and then teach their students) Calculus II and Multivariable Calculus while pregnant.

I thought I was 3 weeks here (hence the 3)...I was actually 4 weeks 4 days.  I look at this picture and laugh a little bit - we had no idea what the next 8 weeks of our life would look like (or the next year for that matter).  
Q: So far does everything look good?
A: Yup!  I had a small moment of panic during the 12 week check up when the doctor could not find the heartbeat.  She assured us that everything is okay and our child is just so active that they could not get a good reading.  (Of course, my child is going to be active and have ants in his or her pants.)  I have been lectured at both my doctor's appointments about weight gain.  People!  I can't exercise, I can't drink alcohol, the only stress relief available is ice cream and pumpkin cinnamon rolls (thank you sweet and amazing husband for making a ridiculous amount!). So our kid might be born obese... sorrynotsorry.

Q: When are you due?
A: April 17th, 2017 - I am not putting too much hope on that exact day.  I keep thinking late April.  If we end up in Denver long term, I really really hope that our kid's birthday is not 4/20.  I am really holding out that we may have a May Day (May 1st) baby. I want to make it as far through the school year as possible. Will I eat my words come April? Yup. But I really want to be there for my other babies (who are so cute and adorable this year!)

I thought I was 6 weeks 6 days in this picture...I was actually 8 weeks 2 days.  My mirror selfie game is not quite on point yet.  I think I have teeny tiny bump.  Can you see it?
Q: How are you feeling?
A: Shocked and disbelief.  I can't really believe that there is a human inside of me.

Q: Have you experienced any morning sickness or symptoms?
A: Yes.  I was pretty nauseous weeks 6 through 12.  I threw up during weeks 7, 8, and 9.  Between marathon training earlier this year and morning sickness, I am ready to not throw up again for a long time.  I tried all the remedies I could find online - none of them really helped.  At this point (14 weeks) I am exhausted, apathetic towards life, and the nausea comes and goes.

This sums up my days right now.  The left is me in the morning and the right is me in the afternoon evening.  I swear my belly grows throughout the day and then shrinks back down at weird!
Q: Will you find out the gender?
A: Most likely.  If we are going to have a girl, I need to start telling Ian to NOT spoil the kid rotten (I think the grandparents/relatives will do enough spoiling).  In Korea, he was such a softie for little girls.  And he spoils me like there is no tomorrow, so I can only imagine how many ponies he would buy for our daughter.

14 weeks 2 days - I definitely can tell I have a roll and can't wear most of the pants I own.

Q: Do you think you want a girl or a boy?
A: I have an older brother and I absolutely LOVED growing up with an older brother.  Ian has a twin brother that was super fun to grow up with as well.  I would say that Ian and I both would pick a boy if we got to pick, but we don't.  Also, I hate the cliche, "I don't care if it is a girl or a boy as long it is healthy." Unhealthy babies are awesome too!  Ian and I will love and adore our baby regardless if he or she is healthy or not (I could go on, but I will get off my soapbox now).

Q: Are your parents excited?
A: Excited is an understatement for both of our parents.

Q: How is running?
A: Nonexistent.  I realized that if I run, the next day I threw up every 30 minutes.  Same thing would happen if I went for a walk.  So I am not exercising right now.  I have been encouraged to give it a try now that I am in my second trimester.  I have gone for a couple of 10 minute strolls (leisurely walking pace) just to get outside for a bit.

That are all the common questions I can think of right now.  Let me know if there is anything I forgot.

Something that I pray often is, "Lord, prepare our hearts for what you have for us."  I started praying this last May when I thought about Ian graduating and our future was unknown.  Now there is a baby thrown into the mix and worry can creep in quite often.  So if there is a prayer to cover this pregnancy and the next year of our life, it is this one.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Ragnar Trail Race - August 2016

About a month or so before I ran the Napa Valley Marathon, I was asked by a co-worker to consider joining a Trail Relay Team for the Ragnar Trail Race in Angel Fire, New Mexico in August.  I have had my eye on Ragnar for awhile - so I eagerly accepted.  A relay race seemed like a new and different challenge.  I had participated in a 24-hour relay several times in high school but it was in 1-mile increments.  I was excited to take on a new challenge.  Plus, if the trail race was in August, I would already be in good shape to run a half marathon in October.  (The Rock n Roll half marathon comes to Denver in October and I have run it every single year we have lived here.)

I had NO IDEA what I said yes to.  I had no idea what trail running was really like and I had no idea what my life would actually end up looking like in August.
The pay off for trail running - awesome views.  My car is down in that valley where I started this training run.  If there is anything that could convince me to become a trail runner, it is the views.
I spent the summer attempting to train for the race.  I quickly learned that trail running is a whole entire different beast (I could probably write a blog post just on all my trail running thoughts!)  Trail running (at least in Colorado) has some serious climbs and running 1/4 mile on a trail can sometimes feel like an eternity.

Me on a training run this summer.  Also, the first picture that I have of myself pregnant.  I did not know I was pregnant at the time, but there was a little bun in the oven!
A couple of weeks before Ragnar, Ian and I found out we were expecting which changed the game dramatically.  It was too early to share with my relay teammates but we knew.  Ian was pretty concerned that I would push myself too hard (where would he ever come up with that idea?) and I was exhausted from starting the school year.  However, I was not about to back out or give up so off to New Mexico we went.

Our team before the start - everyone is happy, dry, and rested.
One of the advantages of the trail relay race is that the team can camp and be in one spot the entire time.  The road races involve mini-vans and sleeping in school gymnasiums.  We lucked out in that we all chipped in for a hotel room at the resort close by (an 8-10 minute walk from the exchange area) and so we could shower and sleep there if we decided to (I was one of the few people on the team that did not sleep in the tent and slept in the hotel instead... I told myself it was because I was pregnant and I could baby myself).  

I ended up being runner #1 for our team, Angels on Fire.  Our team's start time was 3pm on Friday and at about 2:50pm it started drizzling and then it started pouring at about 2:58pm.  I ran the green loop first, then yellow, then red - not necessarily the order I would have picked but it was nice to go first and just get going instead of waiting around. 

Starting the race for our team (that we would finish 27 hours later) and trying to keep the rain out of my eyes.
The green loop was supposed to be the easiest out of all of them (it was the easiest, but that does not mean it was easy).  It was 3.8 miles and supposedly only had an elevation gain/loss of 620 feet (I think their elevation maps were off).  It was nice to head out in daylight with fresh legs.  The green loop was the least "trail" of all the loops.  At one point, I was pretty sure that I was running through someone's front yard.  The only issue with the green loop for me was that I was running it in the rain and the grass was quickly turning into mud.  I was worried about getting injured with 10+ miles of running still to go.  I tried to be careful and there was one point where I almost sat down and scooted down an incline because it was so steep and so muddy.  
You can see me finishing at the transition tent - I was soaked!
It stopped raining within a few minutes of me finishing my loop and handing off to the next person.  I was so happy that we had all chipped in on a hotel room because I headed up and took a nice hot shower and got all the mud off of me.  Ian was our team's volunteer.  He volunteered from 4pm-7pm (or something like that).  His main duties were emptying trash cans for the dining tent and helping people sort their trash correctly.  I ate dinner with some teammates and we hung out.  Once Ian finished his volunteer shift, he ate dinner and we got to check in with some teammates that had run the yellow and red loops in the meantime.  Yellow sounded hard but doable and red sounded miserable.  

Once it started to get dark, Ragnar got their bonfire going.  It was so nice that it was not raining as the temperature was dropping.  I can't remember what time I ran my yellow loop but I think it was around 11pm or midnight.  I had practiced running with a headlamp once (that is a whole story within itself) and we had purchased a headlamp that was great quality and adjustable/tilt-able which is key for running at night.

I was bundled up to run the yellow loop.  Headband and Headlamp ready to go. 
The yellow loop was 4.7 miles and had an elevation gain/loss of 1300 feet.  I had heard that it had a lot of tree roots and rocks on the trail so I was okay taking it slow.  The first mile or so was on a paved then gravel road so I tried to run that at a good pace then the switchbacks came.  Once I got to the switchbacks (and forest) I walked A LOT.  The incline was so steep that it would have killed my legs and it felt like you just kept going up and up and up (for a mile?).  I was also a little worried about missing a turn or something since it was dark and I could not see or hear other people.  Eventually I got to the top (I don't really know? it is hard to tell in the dark).  I alternated between jogging and walking.  I told myself it was okay to walk but to keep a good pace.  Around 2-2.5 miles into the loop I started passing people (which was shocking to me since I was walking).  Once I started catching people, I was more motivated to run.  I did not want anyone to pass me back.  I did not have a great split for the yellow loop, but I felt good about the effort I put in. I would have run it the same way if I had to do it again in the dark on not fresh legs.

After I finished yellow, I think I took another quick shower and then tried to sleep for a couple of hours.  I don't how much good sleep I got, but it felt so nice to lay in a bed and be warm and snug.  

I think I woke up around 4 or 4:30am and started getting ready to run again.  At this point I was tired and not really looking forward to running the hardest loop. I thought yellow was hard and everyone was saying that red would be worse.  Additionally all the loops end the same - with steep downhills (basically running downhill on a ski slope but on mountain bike trails).  It is one thing to bike on a mountain bike trail, it is quite another to try to run them.  I was not a happy camper about the "running" trails.  

I thought I was going to start running around 5, but I think I ended up starting closer to 6am.  The sun was up and I did not even need my headlamp.  The red loop was 6.2 miles and gained 1400 feet in the first few miles.  I honestly don't know how much running I did on the red loop, especially on the way up.  It was so steep and my legs were already feeling dead.  I also was concerned about my breathing as I was at 9-10,000 feet for most of the loop.  I think I said the phase, "Breathe!   Breathe!  The baby needs oxygen." about 200 times in a row in the same cadence over and over again.  I got passed by people but could not get myself to try to run, so I just kept walking.

I did not do well mentally on the red loop. I remember at one point honestly thinking that I was going to be stuck on the loop forever.  I was discouraged and upset that I was running/walking on mountain bike trails that had signs up like, "No runners, bikers only" and yet Ragnar was having us run the trails.  I thought I had done difficult training runs - but I had not practiced running bike trails.

One of the main reasons I am not a fan of trail running - how do you RUN on that?!? And not risk injury?
Eventually I hit the water station which meant I was at the top and halfway to the end.  I was so happy to be halfway and at the same time I was ready to just be done.  The way down was definitely better than the way up.  The ski lifts would run every so often which made me laugh and there were some great, amazing views.  I did more running on my way down and that helped it go by faster.

Such a pretty view on the red loop.  I was more than happy to stop running to capture the picture.

Ragnar marks, "1 mile to go" on all the loops and I remember specifically an indescribable amount of happiness when I saw the 1 mile to go sign.  I think I may have started crying and I threw my arms up in the air and said, "Thank you Jesus!" about 10 times.  I did not think I was ever going to finish (I know illogical, but I am currently not trying to run at 9,000 feet elevation on exhausted legs so I am much more logical now).  I finished my leg!  I was done!  

Several people on the team ended up running extra to make up for missing members of our team.  Ian even jumped in on yellow loop at the end.  Once I finished the red loop, I was done.  Since I knew I was pregnant, I thought 14.7 miles in 16 hours was enough.  I was happy to cheer team members in as they finished.
The happiest runner I know.  I never look this good running!
Once our team was done, we broke camp and packed up.  We found a pizza place in town and enjoyed a meal as fairly clean, tired, satisfied people.  While we were eating it starting pouring, then hailing, then back to pouring rain.  I was so happy that we were off the mountain and already packed up.  My guess is that some teams were still finishing and I felt so sad for them.

Typically I do not buy anything at the merchandise tent at events like this, but Ian and I totally got suckered into buying a onesie for the baby.  Since we each participated in the race, it was our first race as a family. Ian and I got t-shirts so the baby needed his own t-shirt as well!  I can't wait to have him try it on.  We will have to tell him about how we all raced when he was 6 weeks in utero and the size of a blueberry - family bonding!

It was my parents anniversary so we called them while we were waiting for the pizza and told them Happy Anniversary along with Happy Day You Find Out Your Grandparents - what a fun memory!

Our relay team right after the last person finished!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Napa Valley Marathon

I ran the Napa Valley Marathon this past March and wanted to blog about it before I forgot too many of the details.  In some ways, I have so many memories of our time in Napa and in other ways, it is just a big blur.

Saturday, March 5th
I flew from Denver to San Francisco.  Ian flew from Santa Ana (where he had been at a conference for grad school) up to San Francisco.  We rented the cheapest car we could at the airport.  BUT they were out of them?  So we got a new Dodge Charger to drive around California.  It was fun and super nice!  The three main things I remember from Saturday is #1) The weather was not great - it was rainy sideways.  and #2.) I kept telling Ian, "I can't believe that I am going to run a marathon tomorrow.  Have I even trained for this?"  Considering that I had spent the last 6 months of my life doing little else, I am not sure why my brain had such a hard time processing that I was really going to run a marathon again. #3.) We stopped on our drive from San Franscisco up to Napa for some Vaseline/aquaphor.  I had read on a blog earlier that week to slather yourself in it if you are going to run a marathon in the rain to prevent chafing - I took the advice and did not chafe at all.

We checked out the race expo and found our hotel.  I went for a quick 2 mile run on the dreadmill (in the most ghetto 24 hour fitness ever) and we went out for dinner at the Olive Garden (while it continued to rain sideways).  We tried to get to bed early.

Sunday, March 6th.
RACE DAY!  From the moment I woke up (which was really early) I tried to manage my nervousness by telling myself that I was wasting energy to have my heart rate up and "the hay was already in the barn".  I covered myself with vaseline as I was anxious about chafing. IT STOPPED RAINING (later on the bus, I heard some people say it stopped around 3:30am).  Huge Shoutout to Ian - he woke up super early to drive me to the dropoff point and did a great job of listening to me ramble about running stuff.  I don't know if I could run races without Ian.

I got to the finish line and found a bus to jump on.  We were driven 26.2 miles out to the start line.  26.2 miles is a long, long way when you are riding on a bus with strangers in the dark at five o'clock in the morning.  An older guy sat next to me on the bus.  We chatted a bit, but I think he was just as nervous as I was.
This was right behind the port-a-pots.  Prettiest Starting Line Ever!
Once we got to the start line, people were piling off the bus.  I stayed on with about 5 other people.  It was chilly outside and we were in the middle of nowhere and still had an hour before race started.  Eventually, I got off, found the restroom and warmed up a bit.  I was thankful that I had layered up because it was cold.  It felt like time had stopped and 7am would never come. The announcer/starter was hilarious!  He carried on conversations with people over the microphone (we could only hear his side).

Finally it was time to start!  They sang the national anthem and said a benediction.  I threw my throw away pants to the side, took a selfie, and we were off.
Ready to roll
Miles 1-6 - weather: sunny
I had a hard time settling into a good pace.  I started out too slow and then I was running way too fast.  There weren't any pace groups and I did not want to spend the entire race staring at my watch.  I will say that I felt SO LOVED during those first six miles - my phone was going off like crazy with texts of well wishes from people in Colorado (and Illinois).  I read each one.  It made me realize how strong of a community we have here.

I also was texting my girls, Emily and Allie.  Although they did not physically train with me each day, they were my support from the get go.  They listened to me talk about training and long runs and fueling on long runs and played, "this is the better than..." and never once made me feel like I talked about marathon training too much.

For the most part, I was running about 10 seconds per mile faster than I wanted.  I kept telling myself, "save it for mile it for mile it for mile 20".  I finally got into a good rhythm of running off of feel for the first half mile of each mile and then slowing myself down and really focusing on my watch for the second half of each mile.

I ate a couple bites of a clif bar at mile 6 and congratulated myself for getting close to be 25% of the way done.

Mile 7-12 weather: cloudy
There was someone around my pace named Amy.  Amy had the BEST friends.  Her friends made a sign that Amy's name on it.  Spectators were only allowed at certain points on the course.  Amy's friends were at every single spectator spot.  So I started cheering for them.  "Yeah, Amy's friends!  You guys ROCK!  What great friends!!"  There were also people sitting in lawn chairs in their driveways drinking their coffee cheering us on - it was so cute.  I was feeling good about my rhythm of half a mile off of feel, half a mile off of the watch.  I think I was coming through mile markers about a minute (overall) faster than I wanted to.  I did a lot of math during miles 6-20.  I had another snack around mile 12/13.

Miles 13-20 weather: mix of clouds and sun, some sections were crazy windy.
I can not remember anything too specific about these miles.  I think I did a lot of math about my pace and I played, "this is the better than..." and texted Emily and Allie a couple of times.  I really tried to focus in and just take it a mile as it came.  I settled into running near someone else (Amy perhaps?!?) for about 5 miles.  It was nice to pace off someone and not worry so much about my timing.

Mile 20 - I remember two things as I passed the 20 Mile Marker: #1.) I wanted to be done.  I was exhausted, but I just wanted to stop running at that point and #2.) My stomach did not feel great.  I decided to skip my snack.  I convinced myself to try to keep drinking water. (My water had Nuun in it.)

Getting from mile 20-21 felt like the lllooonnngggeeesssttt mile of my life.  I think I checked my watch about 200 times during that mile.  My pace was okay, but my brain was having a hard time doing the math.  Mile 20 feels like such a great accomplishment.  I started counting down at mile one: 1 mile down, 25 to go.  So by the time 20 rolls around, it feels like you are almost done.  Except you still have 55 minutes of running to go.

Mile 21-23 weather: cloudy
I remember getting really scared because my brain was having a hard time thinking.  I kept trying to figure out my pace and where I should be but I just could hold all the numbers in my mind.  I am not sure how I stayed on pace at this point (running at sea level? the bajillon squats and lunges I did during training?) but I am so glad my legs kept rolling.

Mile 23 & 24
The sky opened up and poured - which was awesome.  It felt so good that have the rain cool us off.  I am a salty sweater, so salt was getting in my eyes, but I did not care too much. Some people I was running by were saying things like, "Thank you Jesus!  Thank you Jesus for this rain!"  I tried to play "this is better than ___" but I could not think past a few words.  My pace was okay.  My stomach hurt.  My legs were fatigued.  I started to realize that as long as I did not 100% tank I was going to make it under 4 hours.

Mile 24.5-26.2
At mile 24.5 I hit the wall.  I think I had hit the wall mentally back around mile 20 but my body was done at 24.5.  I wanted to stop.  I knew my form was not great.  I knew my pace was not great.  I just wanted to stop.  The finish line felt miles and miles away.  Thankfully I texted Emily at some point and she texted back, "BREATHE!" which was actually really helpful.  I could focus on breathing.  Also, I was with it enough to know that as long as I did not quit, I would PR.  My garmin had me at 26.2 in 3 hours 56 minutes and 47 seconds.  The race was a bit longer (26.5?) and I finished in 3:58 on their time.  I cried as I came down the shoot and finished.  I was so happy to have finally finished a marathon in under 4 hours.  Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Once I crossed the finish line, an older volunteer man thought I was going to pass out.  He grabbed my arm and made me walk around.  I did not have warm or happy feelings towards him.  I just wanted to sit down.  I had convinced myself the last 6 miles if I could just sit down my stomach would feel better.  Ian came and rescued me from the old man.  I made Ian promise me that if I ever talk about running another marathon that he would break both my legs.  He just looked at me and said, "Wait ten years - you will run another one."  Example #908839473 of Ian knows me better than I know myself.

We hung out quite a while after the race.  I got a free massage.  Ian walked all the way to the car in a downpour to grab my bag.  The finish line was at a high school so they had (hot!) showers available.  It may have been the best shower of my life.  The person who won the marathon won their weight in wine.  They actually put them on a two balance scale with the person one side and wine on the other side.

Our San Francisco (and Friday night) Tradition
Eventually we started to head back towards San Francisco.  We had not gotten far when I told Ian that we needed to stop at a grocery store.  Thank the Lord that I was aware enough to tell him.  He pulled into the parking lot.  I asked him to go in and buy some Sprite.  He parked.  I jumped out and started puking next to a tree, barefooted.  It was not the best moment of my life.  Ian came out with the Sprite.  I sent him back in for napkins or paper towels or something.  He came back out.  I think I asked him to go back in for something else, but I can't remember.  Thankfully I felt much better after I threw up (unlike my previous marathon).

Headed Home!
We found a great Korean restaurant on our way back to San Francisco.  We also stopped by Buena Vista for an Irish Coffee (for Ian).  We stayed in a hotel near the airport so we returned the rental car and went to bed.  I think we woke up at 2:30 the next morning for an early flight.  Ian had his Hebrew midterm when we got back to Denver.  I was excited to go to school the next day and tell my students that I had done well.  They were so sweet and supportive (or just knew how to get me to not talk about math...)

Whew!  That was a long post.  I am so proud of the work I put in to accomplish a goal that I had set for myself 5 years ago.  I am thankful for the community that celebrates us and with us.  I am in awe of the One who is Emmanuel - He was with me every moment of my training and racing.

Bucket List:
run a marathon under 4 hours