Posted by: Ingrid | November 21, 2014

The downside of realistic optimism


I do not like to call myself a pessimist.  To do so would conjure up thoughts of Eeyore trailing behind his friends pronouncing doom and gloom over everything.  No, the term I prefer for myself is one that a former pastor of ours used years ago: realistic optimist.

How does this non-pessism play out in real life?  Let’s take a minor example from family life.  Say we need to go out of town on a Saturday morning.  Husband is convinced that we can all wake up at 7 am.  We can drink coffee for 30 minutes, He can send five emails and listen to an online lecture while I run 13 miles.  And we will all be fed, dressed, packed, and in the van and ready to leave at 7:30 am.  I, on the other hand (based on past experiences), am fairly convinced that it will be an arduous task to get all five of us in the same location without wanting to tear my hair out and am pretty sure we will leave no earlier than 11 am.  When reality plays out, there is only minimal screaming and stress, and we are on the road at 9:45, I am quite pleased.  (Husband could care less when we actually leave so his opinion, in this scenario, is inconsequential).

Of course, this does not work in all situations (and definitely not for some of life’s pivotal moments).  For example, I have never entered a pregnancy sure that it would end tragically or that labor would be horrific (I do, on the other hand, try to convince myself that I will be three weeks overdue).  Also, this reticence to be wildly enthusiastic over potentials extends only to my life and immediate family.  For most people, I am happy to day dream and get excited. (What!  You met a Brad Pitt twin at the bar last night and you’re pretty sure you’re going to marry him and live happily ever.  Seriously?  What are the odds?!?  You will have such beautiful babies!)

There are things that are perhaps not the best about this outlook.  It is difficult to get enthusiastic over something that you are fairly certain will not happen and it is hard to figure out my own dreams and how to move towards them because I will happily shoot them down as soon as they are thought up or verbalized.  I would say that it minimizes the highs and lows of extreme excitement and despondency that life can bring, but it by no means does away with them, and all in all, it works for me.

(Side note that Husband is the exact opposite and I am very conscious of how I respond to his dreams and brainstorming and try to be open minded when he tries to help me explore possibilities.  Eight years of marriage has taught me that shooting another person’s ideas down as they are coming out of his mouth, even if my objections make sense, is not a loving, kind, or smart thing to do.)

Anyway, this realistic optimism works so well that it just occurred to me today (after three weeks of being in the process of buying our first home) that we are closing on a house.  In less than two weeks.  And I have packed three boxes (that I may have packed today).  Apparently home buying is the dream of every realistic optimist because there’s always something.  Maybe the roof looked funny.  Or you have to negotiate the price.  Or wait on the inspector.  Or the appraiser.  So you aren’t really buying a house because you have to wait for more information.  I have mentioned the house to very few people because it doesn’t seem real yet.  But we will be moving boxes into our own home, a home in which we can actually have guests (!!!!!), in early December.  Probably there will be a blizzard on moving day.

Either way, it is time for some serious packing to happen here as I (cautiously) celebrate the biggest purchase our lives.  In this case, realist optimism looks awfully close to hard core procrastination! :-)

Posted by: Ingrid | November 18, 2014

Eight Years

Today marks our eighth anniversary so I decided to take a trip back in time.  First of all, eight years of photos is just ridiculous!  Am I the only one who had a little 35 mm point and click camera as a kid?  One that used film that had to be developed using money from my paper route?  And now I store thousands of pictures on my computer.  Craziness.

I noticed a few things as I perused the past.  First, the first three years of marriage we have pictures from actual anniversary celebrations.  As in, we went someplace, spent money on food, within a day of our anniversary.  2011 (Hi Jonathan!) marks a trend towards family pictures which were take roughly during the month of our anniversary rather than two adults out on a celebratory date.  2013 (Hi Liliana!) marked the first year we had zero pictures of the two of us together for the entire month of November.  I am not even kidding!  The last day we were in the hospital (October 29) is the last time we were in a photo together for more than a month.  Truly pathetic.

The other thing I noticed is that, aside from the green sweater that I wore on our first anniversary, I still own everything pictures.  Which may be why my wardrobe is having an identity crisis.

Just FYI, eight years is supposed to be marked by gifts of pottery, bronze, linen, and lace.  That’s your completely useless fact for the day.

So here we are, eight years, seven moves (will be on our eighth move in less than three weeks), three states, and three kids later.  It has been such a crazy adventure!










Posted by: Ingrid | November 3, 2014

12 Months: Little Princess

Dear Liliana,


I began writing this on day three of teething viciously (A week later and no teeth yet and here we are.  Gah!).  You have all of four teeth right now and you seem to be trying to get every single other tooth simultaneously.  You are all over drool, chewing on your fingers, making sad pathetic baby-in-pain sounds, and running a fever.  Not to mention the fact that you leave a slimy trail all over the floor as you scoot, like a giant slug.  All that to say that I am tired.  And tired of being a human pacifier.

So, one year.  Yay.  But at the same time, ONE YEAR.  Last year you were this:


and then suddenly, here you are:


After looking back on Jonathan’s one year update I feel like you are so far behind.  Which is weird, because I guess I figured babies hit milestones faster the more siblings they had because they would want to keep up.  Held true for Jonathan but not for you.  Though you certainly love being with your siblings.


So at a year:

You have the parts of your top and bottom two teeth.


This makes it difficult to eat real food or anything requiring chewing.

But you do actually eat baby food, including the stuff that smells like dog food.  You particularly like sweet potatoes.  You are developing a knack for spitting and blowing raspberries at the exact moment food enters your mouth.


You are not crawling or walking nor will you push yourself to sitting.

All you do is scoot on your bottom, but boy are you fast!  Though you did get caught on a floor nail the other day and ripped your pants.  I couldn’t figure out why you looked like you were trying to move but weren’t.  I would love to invent some sort of Swiffer diaper cover so that your scooting could cross a chore off my list as well.


You really like playing with beach balls and bouncing balls.  And you like to chase them as well.  Too cute.

I am afraid that you are going to grow up hating the color pink.  Because I finally have a girl I find that I want you to wear pink and sparkles.  But because I am frugal and buy large totes of clothing off of Craig’s List you are really just going to wear whatever you get stuck with.  Which is mostly pink.

You look very much like Jonathan.  You look even more like your daddy.  In fact, you look more like your daddy than even he did as a baby!


You will wave sometimes.

You babble often.  Usually “Dada” is accompanied by sweet smiles and MAMAMAMAMAMA!!! gets pulled out when you are A) upset, B) in pain, C) stuck, D) feel like upping the drama.  I am pretty sure you say “hi”.  And ball.

You are really into pushing and pulling things.  Back and forth and back and forth.  Extra fun if they make horrible scraping or squeaking noises.

You are ticklish and giggly and often cuddly.  You are extra cuddly and seem to have difficulty holding up your (large) head when you are tired.


You will scoot double time if it gets you closer to the trash, falling out of the door into the garage, or into the shower.

Speaking of which, the only way to bathe you is to set you under the shower.  You no longer scream and if you can squeeze a plastic bottle while sitting under the water you are content.

Apparently, you find crushing plastic bottles soothing.  Who knew?

You gravitate towards unsafe environments like this one.


You like to be held and you like to be held by me.  You are really into stranger anxiety these days, particularly when we are around other women and girls – the people who generally work nurseries and such.  But you love Grandpa.  No question about that!


You like to stuff everything in your mouth except for food, which you prefer to fling off your tray.

You received your first little girl toy from Grandpa and Auntie Kora.  It says important things like: “Are you hungry?  Would you like some cheesecake?”  Can I just say how funny it is when you pretend to eat the fake food and then fling it across the room?


You are still a horrible sleeper.  Up until the teething began I’d slept 7-8 hours in a row for 9 nights straight.  Not because your sleep had improved but because there was a night I was up for 2 hours straight and then a night when I was up for 3 hours that involved much crying (on my part) and the desire to drop you, just drop you, in your pack n play.  I do not do well on little sleep or lots of interrupted sleep and that is an understatement.  The next 9 nights I took a sleep aid, put in ear plugs, and closed my door and sleep all night.  From second hand reports, you did not, but I didn’t really care.  I am hoping that at some point when we get you in a crib (may that day come soon) you will sleep better because of the extra space and padding.  Until then, let’s hear it for sleep drugs and ear plugs.


When someone looks at you and says your name, it’s like you get this adrenalin rush from getting noticed.  You get such a sweet look on your face and often put your hands on your hips or behind your back: Who?  Me???  I can’t even explain it but it is one of those mannerisms that are so precious that we look at each other and simultaneously think: Should we have another if they’re this darling? and This is a really good way to end. 

One thing I can say definitively is that I LOVE having a little girl and I am so glad that you are my daughter.





Posted by: Ingrid | October 28, 2014

365 days and a few hours

It is beyond incredible to me that 365 days and a smattering of hours ago we went from this:


to this:



to this:

lily 1

Congratulations, Liliana.  You have made me more sleep deprived this year than I have been in my entire life and yet I still find you absolutely adorable.  That’s some magic!  Happy birthday, little girl. :-)



Posted by: Ingrid | October 24, 2014

Three Years of Charming

Dear Jonathan,  IMG_1117

You would never guess that you started out as the most unlikely looking tomato-ish baby.  And now you are such a ridiculous charmer.  You flash smiles at the camera that make it look like you’re trying to model cologne or underwear or something that calls for a certain “look”.  Helps, I am sure, that you got the eyelashes I always dreamed of.  Paired with your hair (that needs a cut), your blue eyes, your grin, and your skin that is still so soft that I can believe you were once a baby… heaven help us all!


You are sensitive and funny and so very much the middle child.  I was in Walmart a few weeks ago wandering the aisles and trying to figure out what to get you for your birthday.  It made me sad to not actually know what you like because you are the middle child on the heals of an intense and loud older brother.  I stood there, wanting to cry because you completely bypassed the Thomas the Train stage because Isaac had grown out of it.  You want to do what you brother does because he’s bigger but then you don’t because you aren’t interested.  It is safe to say that you like costumes, however.  And dogs.  Whenever we see dogs in the park I am pretty sure they think you are a long lost sibling!


You are also our clutz.  Maybe because you are still growing into your body or maybe because you run around while looking over your shoulder and run into walls.  Or refrigerators.  Or dishwashers.  You are the family clutz and daredevil all in one and I thankful we have not ended up at the ER for injuries yet.

You seem old for three.  Last year when Liliana was born you were still such a baby yourself; eating in a high chair, still in diapers.  And now you talk so much  and you potty trained almost on your own and you know so much that it seems like you should be older than you are.  With Isaac, I don’t think I knew what I could expect from a three year old.  You are showing me that I could have raised the bar substantially!  You have known your ABC’s and their sounds since you turned two and you can count to somewhere past 30.  Colors and shapes?  Check and check.


Maybe because you seem older, I was not prepared for you to be the most oral and hands on of our kids.  You are the only one to date who has smeared poop on walls.  You have flushed floss, a toothbrush, and a pair of underwear down the toilet.  I am not even going to speculate as to what you have ingested from the toilet.  It is enough to know that you like to eat your own boogers.


Right now you are really into things being “cozy” (your word, not mine).  We happened upon the perfect gift for you at Costco, a giant fluffy dog/giant pillow.  The only problem with this dog-sometimes-known-as-Clark is that you keep stripping off every stitch of clothing at night so that you can feel “So cozy, Mommy!”.  As a PSA, everyone else should refrain from getting cozy with Clark for obvious reasons.


You are a picky little eater.  You won’t eat any veggies, most fruits, cheese, noodles, rice, most cereals, or any type of meat except lunch meat and chicken nuggets.  Consequently you go hungry sometimes because, unlike with Isaac, I am not afraid you will starve.


You are my little cuddle bug.  You like hugs.  You like cuddling when you wake up in the morning.  And you are enormously ticklish.


You love the CD “Blue Moo” and you especially enjoy the “What Does the Fox Say” music video.  Sometimes you go around singing the bits you can remember except you still don’t say “fox” correctly.  I try to discourage singing it in public.


You have the cutest little raspy voice right now and such a great laugh.  I love when you ask for “neg nog” (egg nog) and when I ask you a question and you start with, “Hmmmm… actually Mommy…”


Despite the charm you can throw your share of tantrums and be quite disobedient when you want.  But you seem to know what people will find funny so you are the one army crawling out of the bedroom under a blanket when you have been asked to stay put, grinning impishly when caught.  You also, when asked to do something you don’t want to do, will answer; “No thanks!” Polite disobedience at it’s best.  Jonathan, go to your room.  “No fanks (thanks), Mommy!”  It is ridiculously hard to keep a straight face at times.  When you are upset or feel unheard your lip quivers and you look stricken.  Cuddling often remedies this.  Sometimes you will sob: “Mommy, you broke my heart!” because we all need a little manipulation once in a while.  When you’re really angry you glower and feed me the line: “You’re NOT the best mom.”

You are very big on your identity and will make it clear that you are JONATHAN.  Especially if you are feeling sensitive then you are NOT “honey” or “sweetie” or anything else.


Whenever anyone you love leaves (even if I am just going out for a run) you yell: “I need a hug and a kiss and a tickle!” And I always come back to give you one.

I can’t believe all the changes since your last birthday!  You acquired a little sister, moved to a new state, share a room with your brother, and have grown so much.

IMG_4066 IMG_1241



Posted by: Ingrid | October 14, 2014

I miss Autumn

The good news is that it is cooling off here on the Northeastern plains.  The bad news is that, while Colorado has lots of sky, the tree situation is lacking somewhat.  I remember stepping off the plane in Denver back in July and wondering where they put all the trees.  But that wasn’t really a concern until we hit Autumn: my most favorite season ever.  Now that we are in mid October I can just picture what the Michigan trees are doing and I miss it so much!

IMG_9063    IMG_2714  IMG_3935



Hopefully once Winter hits I will be able to remind myself that at least it isn’t April with the same snow from December still on the ground.  Because I don’t miss that at all!



Posted by: Ingrid | September 28, 2014

Eleven Months: You shall be my squishy

Dear Liliana,


No offense, but I am looking forward to your monthly updates ending next month.  But that means you will be a year!  A YEAR?!?  Hardly a baby anymore which is so sad to me.  I was organizing pictures the other day and I give you exactly a year ago.  Ha!  How much do I not miss that.


For now though, you are still very much my squishy baby.  So squishy!  You just have the best thighs.  I sort of use them as dual stress balls when I hold you and it works out well.


This past month held three road trips: Parker, Estes Park, and Fort Collins.


You are okay in the car for two hour stretches, which is nice.  You also sleep better at higher altitude (that or your schedule is so disrupted by the weekend trips that you are zonked by the end of the days we are on the road).  I think this means that we need to move to any of those three locations.  For the sleep, you know.


Other than that, you are still a pretty poor sleeper.  I need to enforce no nursing in the middle of the night and no swaddling and I keep meaning to when I get caught up on sleep but that just doesn’t seem to be happening.

You popped out a forth tooth right before my marathon, which was good timing.


Your latest tooth related exploits involve learning to grind your four teeth so loudly that I want to drop you.  Ugh!  Such a horrible sound and one that you take such delight in.  You like to cuddle against my shoulder and then sink your teeth in.  The more I tell you “NO!”  the funnier you think it is and the more you lean in for another bite.


You are making other noises now, little singing noises when you are tired, and I could almost swear you have tried to say “hi” and some form of “Daddy”.  You sometimes wave to yourself but rarely to other people.  You have also developed the worst case of stranger anxiety that any of my children have had.  So frustrating since you are perfectly willing to flirt with everyone, provided I hold you.


You are still chunky, weighing in at roughly 21 pounds.  I still wear you on occasion, in the Baby Bjorn, and your favorite activity in that position is doing baby jumping jacks.  Talk about throwing me off balance!  We were at Fort Fun a few days ago and you got to go down the giant slide in the Bjorn as well.  Me, you, Jonathan, and my purse.  Good thing Isaac was willing to go alone!


I stopped squishing you into 3-9 month clothes, combed through the garage, and finally found some 12 month girl clothing conveniently located in a box marked “History Books and Misc.”  I am so done living out of boxes.  I guess technically baby clothes fall under the “Misc” category though there were no history books to be found.  At least now you have some fall and winter clothes out!


You are branching out a little with food but it’s hard with barely four teeth.  You mostly get cheerios in your mouth, are willing to try most purees, and will gum some crackers on occasion.  Other than that, it’s all me.  When I give you something you aren’t interested in you promptly drop it off your tray.  I now have to sweep the floor nightly because you are so messy.  Maybe I should stop doing that since, you are willing to put anything found on the floor, food or not, into your mouth.  You also really like trying to feed me now – I am just not a fan of soggy already-been-gummed crackers and bread!


You have started moving.  Not crawling and not army crawling, please note.  You still hate to be on your stomach and you are even more helpless on your back – like a flipped turtle.  Your method of movement is more creative.  Half of it involves corkscrew locomotion; the idea that if you spin in circles enough times you will eventually move across the floor.  This works but is highly inefficient.  Your other method involves spreading your legs out into the splits and then pulling yourself forward or sideways using your arms.


It is the most bizarre and unconventional transportation method I’ve every seen, and, as someone who can barely touch my toes, it looks painful!  You are now at the point where you will scoot to me while laughing and it is so precious to see your joy as you get closer and closer to your goal.  You also like to do the splits when we swaddle you because you know that makes it harder to capture your legs in the blanket.


You are so cute and adorable and squishy, Liliana, with your long lashes and hair that is growing a bit more and a gap between your front teeth.  You are SUCH a cute baby.  I can’t believe that we will celebrate your one year birthday in a month and that I can make a pink cake if I want!  I asked your brothers what kind of cake I should make and they told me a lion, a monster, a dragon, and an alligator.  Pinterest tells me that I should do something like this:

Cake At Party

Also, I think you need a doll.  We were at a friend’s house and you were fussy and then you got your hands on a doll and you started babbling and touching the nose and eyes.  It was so sweet!  And we haven’t a doll in the house, so maybe that’s what you need for your first birthday.  That, or a sibling, and goodness knows, I don’t need one of those!




Posted by: Ingrid | September 24, 2014

And I’ve never been to Boston in the Fall

But I will be going this Spring because I just received this in my inbox.


I put the fate of my Spring (and my credit card number) in the hands of the good people at BAA and I am in.  I won’t lie, I was kind of hoping that I would get a nice rejection because as soon as I saw the acceptance email it opened the floodgate of questions.

How cheap can we do this trip?

How fast can I run Boston?

Do I have to buy compression socks if I run Boston, just to fit in?

How many days should we be there?

Do we take the baby?

Do I wean the baby (Liliana will be almost 18 months at the time of Boston)?

What if the winter is bad?

Where will we stay?

What plan should I follow?

What do we do with the kids when we don’t even have a babysitter who can put them to bed?

Whose great idea was this anyway?

So basically I traded the question: Will I be running the Boston Marathon in 2015? with about a zillion other questions.  And the answer is YES!




Okay, I didn’t throw out the entire taper for a loaf of bread, not really.  I have three small children, live in a new town, and my husband just started a new job.  Oh, and the Princess was teething all during taper week for tooth number 4.  Fewer miles and more sleep that last week?  Sign me up!  Taper crankiness didn’t really hit until the day before the marathon, which was a pleasant surprise.

I never actually figured out the eating plan I should be doing.  I was told (and this has been confirmed by a reliable source) that often in the week prior to a marathon you cut carbs for 3-4 days, feel nauseous and crappy because you are living on veggies, egg whites, and chicken, and then you eat lots of carbs the last few days for maximum glycogen retention.  Science, people, you gotta’ love it.  I like the idea of high protein lower carb eating until I actually try it and remember how bad I am at doing it.  Maybe it’s because I have little kids around and their food is in sight.  Maybe it’s just because I like the bread I make.  Which I made on the first day I was supposed to go low carb.  But I remembered that I am almost exclusively breastfeeding still and then low carb sounded like a dumb plan.  So it was going to be low-ish carb.  But then I made bread and ate it.  With butter.  It was awesome.

Low carb taper fail.

But I was quite diligent with the rest of my taper, a mixture of fear and ritual lest I make a mistake and mess up the end product.  This consisted of the following.

Sleep: I tried to get as much sleep as I could with my family’s sleep patterns being what they are right now.  Which is short for the fact that I felt like every night I was in a fight with my family to get decent sleep.  Husband, bless his heart, slept on a mattress in the living room so that his snoring and Liliana’s crying didn’t wake me up.  That is a good man for you!

Water: It was a cooler week and I didn’t exercise much, but I tried to get in 8-10 cups of water a day and even more the day we drove up to elevation.

Food: I tried to eat more naturally (like I should do always) and kept carbs to about 30-40% for the first three days of the week.  Then I upped the carbs to 65%.  When I committed to the marathon I also changed up my calorie allotment from “lose a pound a week” to “lose a half pound a week”.  Since I have followed the “lose a pound a week” number since Christmas and have lost roughly four pounds, that was no great hardship.  The last few days I ate at complete maintenance.

Exercise: The week consisted of 3 miles, 30 minute bike, 4 miles, rest day, 3 miles, rest day, marathon.  Two rest days in one week!  I was tired enough that it didn’t phase me (much).

Rehearsal: I tried to think through the day of so that I knew when I wanted to drink and eat and some options for breaking up the marathon into smaller portions.  Supposedly this is a good plan.  I thought it was helpful.

Does anyone else have marathon nightmares?  I had three the week before the race!  Weird dreams like running half of the race indoors or having to stop at stations along the way to listen to a sales pitch when you know you are on the clock and should be running or having the option of doing part of the marathon on the elliptical but then realizing I would still have to run the whole 26.2 to get to the end.  So weird!

Things to do before the next marathon

-Negotiate with baby so that I can sleep through the night.

-Keep making sleep a priority.

-Try to get below my pre-pregnancy weight in order to look more like a marathoner and less like a mother of small children.

-Weight train.  I need, Need, NEED to do this.

-Figure out what kind of eating works best in training and on long runs.  I think I am a slightly lower carb person, like around 40-45%.  I felt terrible and hungry all the time the last three days of my taper when I was getting 65% carbs.  I would like to experiment more with something other than the tried and true Gatorade and Gu approach.  At the same time, I discovered Salted Caramel Gu.  It’s like they were reading my Pinterest recipe page!

All in all, the dreaded taper wasn’t nearly as bad as I anticipated and now I have more recent data to go on rather than trying to remember what I did nine years ago.  Also, if you haven’t tried the Salted Caramel Gu (and you like Gu and aren’t refueling with chia seeds and raw honey), it is definitely worth buying!

Posted by: Ingrid | September 17, 2014

Impromtu 26.2: Inaugural Fall Classic Marathon


I am warning you that this will be long  since it has been nearly a decade in coming.  It has been almost exactly 8 years and 9 months since my last marathon (Honolulu) when I knew nothing about running and didn’t even own a watch!  I didn’t mean to have that big of a gap, but here I am, plus three children and nine years and minus 10-13 pounds.  Here my trusty Garmin is too, since I purchased it right after Honolulu for that marathon I knew I would be doing soon.  Yes, I run with dinosaur technology.

IMG_1943 It all started with a particularly bad running week, our first week in Colorado two months ago.  I was tired, I didn’t know where to run, and I had not seen ANY runners.  None at all.  My long run was a pathetic 7 miles that Saturday and I pitifully thought: I will never run again.  But then I had the chance to run with two women a few days later and one of them mentioned that she was running a marathon in just over seven weeks.  High on endorphins and happy to know I was not the only runner in town, I told her that I wished I could do it.  “Oh, do it!  It will be beautiful!  It will be fun!”

Always find out a person’s idea of “fun”.  Always.

So I got home and joked about running a marathon and my dear husband told me I should do it.  It would be no problem.  The timing was perfect.  I had to sign up.  26.2 miles?  No worries at all.  Now my husband, I am pretty sure, thinks I can fly.  He is one of those people who believes I can do things that I am not sure about.  It would never do to have too many of his type in my life because I would end up on a bridge flapping my arms or something strange like that.  But one of him in my life is just about right for balancing out my sometimes-too-cautious nature.  And here’s the thing, I wouldn’t have signed up if somewhere deep down I didn’t think I could do it.  But I exercised caution, bumped my Saturday run to 14 miles, found a training plan, and decided that I would go for it.  Maybe.

I followed my training plan and it felt like it would be okay.  I  also was feeling the need to do something just a little crazy.  It was the same feeling I had when I moved to Michigan with a newborn and, 9 weeks after giving birth ran an inaugural half marathon nearby.  This was an inaugural marathon in Estes Park so it would give me the chance to run in the mountains (7500 feet) in beautiful scenery while giving our family to see part of our new state.  I checked out the elevation map and it didn’t look bad.  I could just roll down if I got tired of running, right?

marathon course

So I registered and trained and you would be amazed at how fast seven weeks of training goes!  In some ways, it was the perfect amount of time for me and it fit nicely with the start of husband’s semester.  I hit my peak training just as he began teaching.  I got to taper as our schedule got tighter and it really worked out well!

So Saturday we loaded up the van and drove to Loveland.  I had an entire suitcase devoted to running.  Two pairs of shoes, three shirts, four sports bras… you never know which piece of equipment is going to malfunction!


Having only done this taper thing once, I have to say that I am zero fun the day before a marathon.  I was careful of my eating, drank tons of water, didn’t want to do too much, tried to get lots of sleep, avoided too much caffeine.  We didn’t see a whole lot of Estes Park, though what we saw was breathtaking.  We were all asleep by 8:30 pm the night before.  Life with a marathoner and three small children is BORING when it comes to night life and interesting food.  My typical response to elevation has been headaches and slight dizziness so I did a preemptive strike with Tylenol.  I felt great!

I got my race pack down in Loveland and then we made the drive to Estes.  It was so lovely, except for the fact that I was seeing the course I would be running the next day and what the overall course map doesn’t show is that the last 6 miles are quite hilly.  By the time we got up the mountain I was quite discouraged and upset that I’d chosen this run and dragged our family on a road trip.  But we made it through the day and checked out the Stanley Hotel where the race began (not to be confused with checking into the hotel).

IMG_0919We got almost 8 hours of sleep.  Well, I did.  I got the fold out bed and Husband got the 2 boys who woke him up every hour and a king sized bed.  I woke up at 4:30 am and went through the preparations I’d planned. lied.  I was promised 46 degrees at the start but we actually got 35.  Brrrr!


Everyone was up and we were out the door at 5:22.  There were under 200 runners in the marathon so it was not big at all.  I mostly huddled in the van trying to stay warm until we moved towards the start.  It was pitch dark at 6:00 and the race director was kind enough to let us stay at the start with the van. It was so cold!  There was a lot of talking, none of which I caught, and we started late, probably after 6:10.  Down the hill we ran followed promptly by a longish climb.  I hit my first mile split in 8:29, a far cry from the 8:01 I was supposed to be keeping.  I didn’t know what to expect from the course, but tried to let the terrain guide my running.  And the terrain went down.  It was about a 2500 foot drop in elevation from the start to the finish and I found myself settling into a fairly comfortable 7:37-7:55 pace.  By the time I hit mile 20 I was about a minute under where I needed to be for a 3:30.  I tend to be pretty consistent in my pacing and this was no exception.


There were water and Heed tables every few miles on the course and some very kind volunteers.  There was no Gu passed out, which meant I had to figure out how to carry mine.  Generally I stuff a couple in between my sports bras but going up to elevation made the packs puff up and… well… awkward.  So I took a Gu at the beginning, one at mile 6, one at 12, and one at 18.  I had an additional Gu but it got lost on the course somewhere. :-(  Since we were running down the two lane road that takes you to Estes we were limited to the shoulder of the road.  They had marked it off with cones and the police did a great job of helping out as well.  Because there was no place for people there were hardly any spectators and not much cheering.  There were two women in particular who drove down the mountain, stopping periodically and cheering for whoever passed by.  They were awesome.  There was quite a bit more traffic than I anticipated, but the drivers were all very good.  This is Colorado, after all, so they are probably used to someone at all times skiing/running/biking/snowboarding down their mountains roads.


But there were a couple of issues.  First, my Garmin (and many other runners said this as well) was registering 0.2 more than each mile marker.  It is kind of hard knowing at mile 3 that you will not be done until 26.45 miles.  Secondly, we were in the canyon until about mile 20 which offered nice shade, but then we were in the direct sun just as the hills began.  And when I looked at the last 6.2 miles of the course (because by the end everyone, even the fast male runners, were complaining about how bad the hills were), here is what it looked like.  So basically you trash your legs running downhill and then get sun and hills at the end.

end of marathon

But it was so beautiful!  Not as amazing as I imagine trail running must be, but still, how often do you get the chance to run down a canyon in the Rocky Mountains beside the Big Thompson River?  Leaving Estes Park I saw a lone Elk standing placidly on the other side of the road just watching us.  And seeing the sun come up and the sky change from black to all shades of pastel over the tree lined mountains was just breathtaking.  I wish I could have taken pictures of what it looked like to be running down hill and to see runners spread out along the road ahead of me.  Clint got a picture of the sky outside the hotel.


Because of my disappointment after seeing the course the day before I was not quite sure how to run the race.  Eventually I decided I would just aim for my 3:30 and see what transpired.

I was doing okay on pace and breathing and felt decent until about mile 21.  Around that time there was a big hill and it was sunny and hot and I was feeling the results of running downhill.  The hill was big enough that I actually walked for about 30 seconds while thinking: I don’t know that I really want to do this anymore.  I made myself start running again, afraid that I might not want to if I kept walking.  I walked through two aid stations after that, as well as 20 seconds up part of another hill.  I just didn’t care.  Those hills were in a nasty place and I was just tired.  Mile 21 to the end was very much a mental game; I had to divide the miles into parts and then even smaller parts in order to finish.


And where was my Dear Husband during this time?  He had the three darling children who had been awake since 4:50 am.  They went back to the hotel, got dressed, ate, checked out of the hotel and headed down the mountain.  They caught up to me just past the half marathon point.  Clint would drive a bit, get out, cheer loudly, take pictures, hop back in the van and yell, I love you Babe! and repeat.  He did that for 13 miles.  It was so fun to see him show up and it was nice to have my own cheering squad.  He made sure to stop on the last hill (Loooooong hill) around mile 25 which meant that he missed the finish because he had to carry and escort three small children across the parking lot, but he definitely made the right call.


I hit the 26 mile marker with 26.2 on my Garmin and then had to keep running what seemed like forever.  I crossed the finish and then found that I did not want to move.  My poor legs.  I finished (gun time – there was no timing mat at the beginning) in 3:34.43, which qualified me for Boston and was way better than I thought I would do on that course.  I was the 45th finisher and 14th female.  I was 4th in my age group – let’s hear it for women in their 30’s!  The first woman won in 3:12.  This was not a course for breaking Colorado’s records at all!  We stayed at the after party long enough for husband to eat the free meal (I was feeling sick) and for me to drink the free beer (not sick enough to pass up a beer) and for me to attempt to feed Liliana in a crowded bathroom.  Fun family marathon times.

The marathon was put together to raise money for the flood victims from last year and I loved that they used so many local business (some of the food was local) and the medals were actually hand made by potters in the area.  Pretty cool!


For the minimal training I did I feel pretty happy to have gotten by with some sore toes, and sore quads/calves/shins.  Also, my right arm is killing me?  I need to get some sort of strength training going before my next marathon because I do not like having sore arms from running!  Speaking of the next marathon, I did not actually know that registration for Boston was opening the next day -that was completely a surprise!  Am I the only one who feels like committing to another marathon while my body is still sore is akin to giving birth and then promptly planning to get pregnant?

It will not be almost a decade before my next marathon, I promise that!

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