Posted by: Ingrid | September 7, 2015

Grays Peak


So 14ers are a big deal in Colorado.  This was not a term I was familiar with before moving here from Michigan.  There are 53 14ers (peaks above 14,000 feet) in the state and if you are a driven climber/hiker you can collect them all!


Once I heard that hiking 14ers was a “thing”, I promptly put it on my list of New Year’s resolutions.  Of which there were 35 (Yeah, don’t ask, it just sounded like a good idea at the time.)  Actually, I think I probably substituted it for something else, like “Spend 15 minutes of quality time alone with each child every single day.”  I am nothing if not pragmatic when it comes to making resolutions.  But the thing about these peaks at 14,000 feet is that the snow doesn’t go away until mid summer (maybe never on some of them).  So the summer passed me by and school started up and I was willing to recycle that resolution to another year.

Serendipitously, about a week ago a friend of mine suggested a hike up Grays Peak.  I looked at the homework for my online class.  I looked at all the work my husband is trying to get done.  Then I threw caution to the wind, left him to parent the three children (including the still unweaned baby) overnight, and went off to Golden for the night before heading out at 5:30 am the next morning.  By the way, I really would like to be able to afford a home in Golden.  I loved it.

I was nervous.  I hadn’t hiked since doing Half Dome, back in college.  I could pack for a race but felt completely unprepared for a hike that climbed from 11,000 feet to over 14,000 feet.  The nice thing is that Grays is a well marked, fairly easy trail that is only 7.5 miles round trip with a gain of 3,000 feet.  Turns out I didn’t need trail mix, 2 gu, and 3 Cliff Bars after all (made it through one bar during the hike).  There were a ton of people out (and their dogs!).  This is not a trail you can lose.  At some points people were so close that I had this horrible desire to grab the stranger in front of me by the hips to start a conga line.  I blame that thought on the altitude.



Here’s what I absolutely love about hiking.  I could stop when I wanted, take pictures when I wanted, I could have hiked to the summit in five step increments if I’d wanted.  There’s no pressure and no competition and there are all sorts of people out hiking.  As long as you don’t mind looking down and realizing you would die if you fell off the edge of the cliff.



It was crazy to look up and see all the rock and switch backs and people ahead.  At some points I wondered if there was actually a summit.




Grays is funny because you suddenly arrive at the top and it takes you by surprise.  It was almost impossible to see anything from the top, which was sad, but once in a while I’d glimpse a little of what was shrouded in the fog and it left me breathless.  We didn’t stay long because it was so cold and windy.  I would guess with the windchill it was at least down in the 20’s.



I did a lot of stopping to take pictures both on the way up and down but the hike only involved about 3 hours and 50 minutes of active hiking time.  Which is super short for a 14er but then… it’s also only 7.5 miles!  I ran my last two marathons faster than it took me to make the climb up and down Grays!  Originally we’d thought we would hike Grays and then take the saddle across and go to the summit of Torreys as well.


As the day turned out, the summits were covered with mist and fog, making the steep descent to the saddle (in the picture above) from Grays summit very slippery.  The winds were gusting at 20+ miles per hour and the prospect of having to brace ourselves as we crossed the saddle (think of a half mile path with not much on the sides that joins the two peaks with the wind hitting you from the side) caused us to rethink our plans and head back the way we’d come.

I got lots and lots of pictures of Torrey, but oddly enough, trying to get a good picture of the mountain we were actually climbing proved next to impossible.  I’m sure there’s some life lesson there: The mountain you are climbing in your life will look clearer when you’re back to the trailhead, or something wise like that.


The things I wish I’d done differently

-Worn running tights or capris – I put on my winter track pants within two miles of the start.

-Drunk water.  I sort of forgot, even though I had two bottles in my pack.  And it was only 4 hours, but I had a pretty nasty headache the rest of the day.

-Stayed at the summit longer just in case the fog burned off.

-Purchased hiking boots instead of wearing running shoes (Ouch on the downhill!)


The Rockies are so exquisitely beautiful.  I think that I’m hooked.  I can absolutely see why people get addicted to hiking these mountains.  I’m glad I can check “hike a 14er” off my list of resolutions, but I can’t wait to hike another one!


Posted by: Ingrid | August 25, 2015

I’m not ready for Kindergarten


I found this picture from one of my first days of kindergarten.  I am, strangely enough, the one in yellow, not in line, although I thought by this age I had learned to play by all the rules.

I can close my eyes and recount exactly where things were in Mrs. Bross’ kindergarten classroom in Watertown, South Dakota.  I could draw you a map; the coatroom, the tables and chairs where we painstakingly wrote out our letters, the chair near the semicircular window where we listened, enrapt, to Shel Silverstein’s poetry.

I remember the playground games played, the scope of the playground.

I remember the gym turned cafeteria; the embarrassment of the sprout and peanut butter sandwich and the rope I dangled from but never managed to climb.

I have no recollection of what I actually felt as I went off to kindergarten.  Was I nervous?  Excited?  Anxious?  Whatever I was, it has nothing on what I feel now, as a mother, about to send my first born child off to kindergarten in a day.

And how can it be this ridiculously hard and sentimental?  This kindergarten sending off has happened repeatedly for a really long time.  But what else can so quickly make you remember that this independent six year old was this little, this fragile, this dependent on you for… everything.  And this is after three stints of preschool, including one that spanned from 8 am to 2:30 pm.  When he was four.  You would think I’d have a grip on this, but I don’t.

I agonized (and I don’t use that verb lightly) over school the entire year.  Our choices in our neck of the plains involve A) the one public school and B) homeschool.  Option C) send your child to a tiny town within 30 miles for a smaller class size/better academics/better sports was effectively taken off the table because we seem to have a high number of kids in the various small towns entering kindergarten.

Only two options would seem to eliminate the decision making, no?  Until you factor in that I was homeschooled from third grade on, that I effectively whittled down my educational goals from pediatrician (no nanny is going to raise my children, said sixteen year old Ingrid), to nurse, to elementary education major, because obviously you got married and had babies at 21 and then homeschooled your children and wouldn’t a degree in education be just super?  Unless life doesn’t turn out that way.  Unless your child is suddenly ready for kindergarten and you sit there with the dual realization that nearly everyone you know is homeschooling their child and that, if you attempt to do the same either you or your child will not live to see the end of the year.

I carried the guilt through the year and tried to figure it out.  I am obviously intelligent enough.  I know how to plan and find curriculum and I am capable.  I even have a stupid degree.  Why could everyone else manage it?  What would people think?  What would my mother say if she were alive?

But in the end if came down to this, as I was mentally berating myself (again) for not being sacrificial enough to want to homeschool.  Didn’t I love my child?  Didn’t I want what was best for him?  Wouldn’t I give my life’s blood for my kid?  And something about the phrase “life’s blood” made me realize that the twists and turns and changes that our life has taken over the past six years have felt like a constant hemorrhage.  So yes, I would give my life’s blood but there just… isn’t much left.  And tackling my child’s education single-handedly without a supportive and interconnected community shoring me up seemed like a poor way to do triage as well as a significant short change to my child.  Could I guilt myself into homeschooling with gritted teeth and make it through?  Probably.  Would it be better if I sent my child off to kindergarten, to his (truly) amazing teacher who I am so thankful he was placed with, and actually want to talk and hear from him and help him at the end of the day because I’ve not completely bled out?  Probably.  Does that still come with all sorts of guilt and terror that I am making the wrong choice.  Probably.

So I am nervous, probably more than he is, about this new change to our family schedule.  I am sure, deep down, that this is a good choice and the best we could make for where we are as a family, but it’s still hard and still comes with its collection of regrets and “what ifs”.

Tonight I will make sure that his back pack is ready to go, his lunch is packed, and breakfast is ready to cook for tomorrow morning.  And then I will drop him off at his playground and wait to hear about all the new things he learned at the end of the day.  And I will try not to think too hard about the fact it seemed like he was just a baby the other day.  Labor and delivery have nothing on kindergarten autonomy.  Who knew?



Posted by: Ingrid | August 16, 2015

This is your summer on reality


I don’t even know what happened to Summer 2015.  Truly.  All I know is that I last wrote here in May and I was already looking ahead to the plans I had made.  In my head the summer looked like this: a trip to Estes Park at the end of May and then off to California a week later for a three week trip, July was devoted to house projects and miscellaneous involving organizing our lives for the fall, followed by a friend from Michigan visiting for five days in August, a birthday party for Isaac, and the start of August term for my husband, which would mark the end of summer.  Interspersed in this big picture plan were summery things; swimming lessons, camping, time at the little water park nearby, time outside, and a few 5Ks for me.

I planned this summer.  I planned it so darned well based on how our family responds to the end of a semester, how I deal with projects and people, the weather in California in June.  It looked so good.

But then Jonathan was at someone’s house and jumped into what looked to his three year old eyes like a sand box.  It was really an unfinished fire pit filled with ash that was still hot.  This happened two days before our plane was supposed to leave for California while I was at home packing suitcases.  He ended up taking the ambulance to the ER and then another ambulance ride down to Children’s Hospital in Denver, admitted with second degree burns on legs and hands.  Our trip was postponed until July while we medicated Jonathan for the pain, made weekly trips to Denver, kept him from getting dirty, wet, or sweaty, and rubbed lotion into the burn areas that were unbandaged.  He put a lot of wear and tear on his weekly casts despite the restrictions!


I heard my three-year-old revert to the non-verbal cry of an infant because he was in so much pain.  I could happily go the rest of my life without hearing that sound again.

So there went the time for house projects (minus painting our downstairs bathroom).  Which really wouldn’t be so bad if I hadn’t had about 80 projects on my list.  I like my new green bathroom, so I am trying to be happy with knocking one thing off the list.


California was postponed until July, which meant we traveled for three weeks with three kids,


came home and unpacked, had a delightful visit with our friend (which was overlapped by my Dad moving his stuff to our house and moving into our spare bedroom) and had a party for Isaac (who is now six years old and down one tooth).  All that in the span of one month.


Speaking of birthdays, I must add that you should never ever think that allowing your five-year-old to look at cakes on Pinterest will make your life easier.


He thought it was pretty special though!


We are now a week into my husband’s first class and there is a part of me that is mourning the house projects that never happened and all the things that were going to be settled and organized.  The original plan looked so different from the end result!  In some ways I feel like so much has happened in the past two months that it wouldn’t be over-dramatic to say that I am squinting a bit as I look back to the end of May and wonder who exactly that person who looks like me was.

And so we leave the pallet furniture that was never created, the PRs that were not run, the trail race never attempted, and the 14ner not climbed to focus on starting kindergarten, preschool, and my last (again) nursing pre-req.  Maybe next summer I will get us completely organized.

Posted by: Ingrid | May 8, 2015

Mother’s Day Again

My inbox won’t let me forget that Mother’s Day is coming up.  Countless emails and messages tell me to buy flowers, jewelry, photos, plants… just hurry up and spend money and let mom know she’s loved.

I hate it.

While trying to sort through the miscellaneous and craft items downstairs I ran across a fairly generic floral card with MOM emblazoned across the front.  I think I have dredged it up before in my packing and unpacking.  This time, I ripped it to shreds.  There is not a day that goes by that I don’t wish I had an honest-to-God flesh and blood mother who could be the recipient of that pathetic card.  I would rather have one more face-to-face talk with my mom than my little plastic three drawer cabinet filled with letters with long obsolete stamps, a first communion picture, a majorette patch from high school, anything with her handwriting that may give me some glimpse into her thoughts even if it’s only a scribbled note to pay the HSLDA dues.

I keep waiting for Mother’s Day to be taken over with the fact that I am a mother rather than a reminder that my mom isn’t here to celebrate.  I keep hoping for distraction, rather than feeling like Mother’s Day eight years ago was the preamble to the tumor on her brain, the surgery, her last birthday, her death, all slipped together in a span of six weeks, always brought to the forefront of my mind again at the beginning of May.  I mistakenly thought that grieving the loss of a parent in my 20’s would gradually dull with distance and time.

It doesn’t.

Every year that my children are older and more engaged with life makes it harder.  Every holiday that we muddle through on our own without any sense of continuity within the larger scope of extended family makes the ache more pronounced.  Every time I wish that my kids had a grandma to hide Easter eggs or make Thanksgiving crafts, or decorate a Christmas ornament, or buy Easter clothes, or plant a garden or just take the kids when I am busy or sick I am reminded.  And always I feel blindsided and off balance because it comes in unexpected ways and just a little different than the time before.  No one bothered to tell me that the grief was going to grow with my children rather than fade with time.

This is the first year Isaac has taken particular notice at the lack of a grandma and the fact that she is dead, leading to conversations I’d never thought through.  Why did my Grandma die, Mom?  Are you going to die, Mom?  I don’t want you to die too!  I know she died but she’ll be alive again, right? 

After one such conversation around Easter time, made circular because he kept asking if his Grandma would be alive again and I kept trying to make it clear that she would never be alive again like we are right now, he finally came to an end of his questions for a moment.  Pursing his lips, weighing the situation with dissatisfaction as only a five year old can, he delivered his verdict: I want my Grandma back.

And I sat there quiet with tears in my eyes because really, I don’t think I could say it any better.

I want her back too.

I know that no one has been holding their breath for two weeks for the marathon recap and I do realize that this is lengthy.  However, part of marathon closure is being able to get down in writing what happened.  Plus, this is probably my only Boston so it gets all the words it wants in its telling.  How on earth does one even begin to recap the Boston marathon?  Particularly when it is run during “memorable” weather?  This year was the antithesis of the year the temperatures were in the 80’s and runners were dropping like flies.  This will be the year all the runners recall the 20 mph winds in their face and the hypothermia.  Cloudy and 44 degrees would have been lovely running weather.  Combined with wind and rain… not so much.

So where does the marathon recap begin?  Perhaps when we missed our flight by 4 minutes (snow in Denver, had to visit multiple parking lots to park our van, got bad directions and got lost, etc.) which meant not only did we get to fly down to Kansas City, MO, but that we also arrived at 11:30 pm rather than 5:30.  We exited the T (Boston subway station) at our destination as they were locking the gates behind us.  So much for that first good night of sleep!

Five days in a new setting is not what you really want pre-marathon.  Boston is a walking city.  We were probably close to a mile’s walk from where we were staying to the T station.  Then throw in finding a place to eat, the Freedom trail, and searching for coffee shops and we were racking up the miles!  Then there was the added factor of being in someone else’s home.  When we got in I discovered that our hosts (who were the greatest couple!) were mostly vegetarian and had almost no carbs in the house.  I promptly bought my own load of white bread from CVS to snuggle as a security blanket because I NEED CARBS.  I get a little cranky pre-marathon so the new environment and food situation and walking all over had me just a little stressed.  The only thing I had complete control over was fluid intake.  I rocked that and I was massively hydrated for the marathon.  I will say for the record though, that sleeping without any children around is BLISS.


The marathon expo was fun and crazy.  I was so excited to get to meet Katherine Switzer (the first woman to run Boston before women were actually allowed to run it) and Bart Yasso of Yasso 800 fame.


Probably the only time I teared up was when we watched a video of the course with narration.  It hit me: I’m here!  I’m in Boston!  I get to run the Boston Marathon!

Before we flew out, race day looked like it would be sunny with a high of 55 or so.  I packed accordingly.  As the day got closer, the weather progressively changed.  It changed so much that on Sunday I found myself buying used clothes at the nearby Goodwill to wear before the marathon.  Whenever we encountered other runners we would discuss the weather.  Will it change?  Could the winds at least change direction?  Do you think the rain will hold off?  The answer to it all was a resounding no.  Went to bed with clear skies on Sunday and awoke to grey clouds and wind on Monday.

I must throw in that my favorite “advice” came from a friend who texted: “I want to give you some really sage advice but I don’t know any for running!  Take the best of what you know and pretend it’s from me!”  The last text I received before the run came from a friend who, in response to my whining about the wind, remarked: “You had 3 children naturally, you can handle headwind.”  I love my friends.


The events leading up to the actual running of the Boston marathon are unlike any I have ever encountered.  I woke up at 6:15, drank some coffee, at part of a pbj, and got dressed.  Then I put on my bag lady clothes.  At 7:15 we left the house to walk to the T station so that I could get to Boston Commons.









Upon arriving, we saw the most massive convoy of school buses ever, parked 3 deep.  Because the race begins 26.2 miles away in Hopkinton, it is necessary to bus the runners to the start.  Boarding was a little behind, so husband kept me company as I expended too much energy shivering both from nerves and cold.


Eventually wave three boarded our buses and the convoy was off.  I never actually saw the drive because all of us were busy chatting to our neighbor about running, qualifying times, injuries, the weather, and within about 2 minutes every single window of the bus had fogged up.  I sat next to a very nice lady from Georgia who had run Boston a decade ago and who had done 2 ten mile runs as her long runs.  I really hope that worked out for her!


The buses spat us out at the Athlete’s Village.  I am sure in nice weather this is a fun place to be.  When it is 40 degrees and windy under ominous skies and you are stuck outside in a large grassy area it is simply very cold.  There were porta potties around the entire perimeter and yet there still managed to be long lines.  So I waited, amused to see that we looked like a vast village of homeless people (I was not the only one with clothes to discard at the beginning of the race) with brightly colored and very expensive shoes.


By the time I had waited my turn they were calling wave three.  This meant another 0.7 mile walk to the start of the corrals, and the last stop porta potties.  I figured that I walked almost three miles… before the marathon even began.  It was an absolute zoo.  I was disoriented and had no idea where my corral actually was.  And that was when it began to rain.  I discarded my sweat pants before the start and then began walking to the corral.


But it was a longer walk than I anticipated (and they started earlier than listed) so I got to the back of my corral roughly a minute before gun time.

There were so many people pressed together and the excitement was electric.  It occurred to me that Boston would not be a good event for anyone with any type of sensory processing disorder.  It is well-coordinated chaos and noise from the time you begin until the time you finish.  Everyone was yelling and cheering and then we were all shuffling forward and crossing the mat that told us the race had begun.  Unfortunately, my Garmin had gone on standby so it didn’t coincide with the actual start of the race.  Technology fail there.

What is it like to be sandwiched together with thousands of other runners on a little two lane road?  It’s a little claustrophobic and it (literally) stinks.  Think body odor and dirty running sock smell for the first two miles.  There was no way to pass anyone and there was no way to actually try to run at pace (first mile was 8:12).  You couldn’t even dodge the puddles!  Part of the problem was that my qualifying time was 3:34 (you are placed in waves by your time) but I was hoping to run a 3:20 in the best of all possible worlds.  Mile three was the first that was actually on pace as the crowd had lightened somewhat.  The rain was also falling hard by then and I had ditched my thrift store hat and sweatshirt.

It was somewhere around the 3K mark (miles and kilometers are marked throughout the course) that I realized that there are something close to 1,500,432 kilometers per marathon and they were all going to be counted. down. slowly.  It is bad enough to see all the mile markers!  I also started to notice discarded pace bracelets, presumably because these were not auspicious PR conditions.

By mile 9 my two layers of gloves were drenched and my fingers were frozen.  Because the wind at this point was hitting my right side I could no longer feel my right hand.  I also couldn’t feel my legs from about mile 6 on, and usually I am fine in shorts in the cold.  My feet were drenched from the puddles at the start.  Squish, squish, squish.

In terms of hydration, I grabbed Gatorade starting at mile 5 every few stations and took a Gu at miles 6, 11, 17, and 21.  I really think they should have handed out salted oysters with lemon juice around mile 22.

I loved the people.  Seriously, Bostonians get a huge gold star in my book.  There were so many people and families lined up and cheering in the cold and rain.  You would run down the main streets of little towns like Hopkinton and Natick and feel so much energy from the crowds.  A very powerful experience!  There were two particularly memorable spectators; one, a woman yelling “This is MY road and no one ever stops on my road.”  (Oddly enough, this was my first marathon in which I took no walking breaks, mostly because I was afraid the crowd might hurt me.).  The second spectator was almost at the top of Heartbreak Hill.  I don’t know how this happened, but there were no people on the west side of the road for about 70-100 feet.  In this gap stands one little Asian woman almost whispering “Go! Go! Go!”.  I am pretty sure she thought she was yelling.  I pinned my name to my race bib and it was fun to hear people yell specifically for me.  I am also sure I heard several people yell “Ingy” (NOT COOL.) and one person called me “Gerta” (?).  I often get called Greta when people forget my name but I had my name on my shirt!

The Women of Wellsley are just as loud as everyone says, only louder.

There are many signs, of course.  Plenty of people took the inclement weather and made use of innuendos that could only be used in the rain.  My favorite signs read :”Pain is just the French word for bread”.  My second favorite (as a fan of The Office) was a duo held by two people at the last turn that read: “That was really hard.”  “That’s what she said.”  Of course there were the classic: “Hurry up the Kenyans are drinking your beer” signs and you couldn’t laugh too hard because the next sign might read: “Smile if you’ve peed your pants”.  Though with all the rain it would have been an okay day for that.

So the hills.  Most people know about Heartbreak Hill.  Most people who go to Boston know that there are actually a set of four hills called the Newton Hills, none of them terrible, but coming when they do in the race (miles 16 through 21) they can completely derail a runner.  The first 6-10 miles (everyone says something different) is downhill.  But what anyone running Boston should know (I did not) is that this means you drop 60 feet and then go up 30.  Then you go down 70 and go up 40, that sort of thing.  This isn’t a straight downhill.  Also, they don’t label the Newton hills.  But some kind soul really should because I must have counted a little blip in the course as a hill and then thought (and fervently hoped), that the third hill was actually Heartbreak.  Nope.  That was sad.  So I will jump on the bandwagon and warn everyone, DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE HILLS!!!

It is said that running negative splits is the sign of a good race.  I did not run negative splits.  Because the course ran into the wind the closer we came to the finish, because of the hills, because I was just plain tired, I was much slower the second half.  Adding to this, my Garmin at 2:52 registered “low battery”.  This piece of technology is fairly new to me and I didn’t know how to make the message go away!  From that point on I couldn’t see my mile splits or the time that had elapsed.  Second technology fail.  I actually felt like I was racing my watch for the last 6 miles.  Was my Garmin going to die?  I had no idea.  Now that I can consult my Garmin via computer it tells me that I held my pace until (shocker) mile 16, when the hills began.

I am going to confess, I spent most of the Boston marathon counting down to the finish.  I feel bad about that, like I should have eked out every bit of enjoyment from the run.  But I was so cold.  So. Cold.  An introvert already, it was easy to find my place in the middle and people watch.  I don’t think I talked to anyone the entire time.  No one was really talking, it was not that sort of day.  The crowds, the other runners, the scenery; there was so much to see, but oh, I was COLD.  It seemed like runners were all over the road and it was almost impossible to find someone to draft off of.  By the time I hit 19 miles I was playing mind games, telling myself that it was just another nasty, windy rainy day in Sterling and I just had a seven mile run to get through.  It is not the stuff that epic runs are made of, but it worked.  The last few miles were crowded with spectators and seemed to stretch forever.  The official photos show me smiling throughout the race, and I am sure I was, but the finish line was such a welcome sight!  (Yes, I realize these next two photos are proofs but please know that I will be shelling out a ridiculous sum of money to this website for a couple of prints from the marathon.  Because the Boston experience doesn’t cost enough on its own…)


I turned onto Boylston and could see the finish.  Clint, my devoted spectator, was in place and waved and cheered as I finally finished up the run.  The official clock for the third wave read 3:30 something by then, it wasn’t until later that I learned I was just a little under.


The worst part of the run was when we stopped running and we had to receive our medals and water bottles before they handed us a thermal wrap.  In hindsight, I should have gone to a med tent to try to warm up since my clothes were soaked and I hadn’t brought anything to change into.  I couldn’t move my fingers, I couldn’t stop shivering, and I was so cold that I was crying.  We took no pictures of the end of the race and I didn’t stop shivering until roughly an hour later after we were home and I’d had a chance to shower and change.

After the race I was pleased to have no chafing.  My quads and one toe on my right foot hurt but there were no war injuries to speak of and no lost toe nails.  I ran a creaky three miles that Thursday and didn’t feel horrible and have no post marathon pains or injuries.


Summing up a marathon like this is confusing.  People ask how it was and I immediately respond, “It was great!  Well, but no, it wasn’t…”  To wax Dickensian, I could say that “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” with a lot of screaming people and cold and exertion thrown in from 7:15 am until 3:30 pm.  That about sums it up.  Do I want to run Boston again?

Nope!  Next time I go back I get to see all the history without worrying that I am walking too much and not eating enough carbs. :-)


While wandering the marathon expo I met another woman who looked about my age in the free beer line (thanks, Sam Adams!).  As we inched along, I discovered that she had run 108 marathons with 58 of these specifically spent trying to qualify to run Boston.  I was stunned by the dedication that would drive someone to do that many marathons just to make it to yet another marathon and slightly appalled at the thought of funding 108 marathons (estimate $100 ballpark and go up from there if any of them were sponsored by Disney).

Why Boston?  What is it that drives people to do just one more marathon in hopes that they will meet the qualifying time?  To try to shave off just a few more minutes so they earn the right to enter the door to which all other marathons are the key?  I pondered this on our flight to Boston.  Why was I flying there to run a marathon that I could never win or even place in my age group?  Why join a crowd of 30,000 runners when I have plenty of potential running in Colorado and prefer to have personal space?

I am still not exactly sure what drives it, but certainly some of it is the mystique.  The B.A.A.’s symbol is the unicorn, likening Boston to the mythical beast that is so elusive and hard to catch (also frustrating half the running population, I am sure.  Granted, I have loved unicorns since I was a three year old girl since what could be cooler than a magical horse with a horn, but half of Boston’s field is male…).

Since I can only speak as a normal runner, there is something exciting to know that you met some sort of standard in order to run an event.  There may be way too many people but you are surrounded by good runners all coming together to run.  It makes me want to pat myself on the back until I think about how, to actually compete at Boston, I would have to shave over and hour off my existing time.

They have all sorts of fun numbers and stats after the race; the most interesting to me was that after age 50 the male/female categories go from being roughly equal to male dominated (80+ category had 10 men and 1 woman).  Come on, ladies!  So some numbers from this year’s Boston.

Lelisa Desisa won the men’s race in 2:09.17.  Caroline Rotich of Kenya won the women’s race in 2:24.55.

30,251 people entered the race, 27,165 began the race, and 26,610 finished.

1,310 people were treated in the med tents (mostly for hypothermia) and 36 were transported to hospitals.

I was the 9,754 finisher, the 2,224 of 12,022 women, and was 1,780 of 6,011 in my division (18-39 year females). No, they don’t have a prize for that. ;-)

Wyoming had the fewest entrants with only 25, Colorado had 563, and Massachusetts had more than 5,000.

There were runners from 85 other countries in attendance.

Best advice I could give new runners at Boston (other than the hill advice that everyone knows) is to buy a jacket.  When you enter the marathon expo you are immediately ushered into the “shrine to Adidas”.  Adidas, under the assumption that all these runners (having spent so much money just to be there and now high on carbohydrates) will plunk down obscene amounts of money, puts the Boston logo on everything and then sells it for a ridiculous sum.  I wish I could say that they donate half to third world countries or to charity but no such luck.  My husband forced me (truly) to buy one.  In retrospect, I am glad I did.  You see, there is an unspoken language when it comes to Boston Marathon jackets.  Just passing someone in Boston you suddenly know on sight that they ran the year of the bombings, or the year it was incredibly hot.  You see someone in a jacket from 2006 and you figure they have been around the proverbial Boston block.  Anyone in a jacket also becomes a source of credible information.  Presumably they now:

-have been to the expo.

-can direct you to the convention center.

-can carry on a very specific weather related conversation about the next 2 days in Boston.

-can successfully navigate the T (Boston’s subway).

-are safe people to make eye contact with while riding the T (Boston residents either put in headphones or glue their eyes to a device – people on the T making eye contact tend to be either crazy or drunk, or both. Or tourists, I guess.).

Upon exiting the expo in my new jacket, I was promptly asked for directions, confirming my hypothesis.  Also, I now have a really expensive jacket that I would never EVER sweat in, but anyone who knows the language of jackets will recognize my purple and orange as the year of the wind and rain.  This was obviously money well spent!

Posted by: Ingrid | April 22, 2015

Overwhelmed with Gratitude


So the short story is that I finished my first Boston marathon, despite wind, rain, and cold, for a finish time of 3:28.54.  This takes almost 6 minutes off my last marathon time and requalifies me for Boston should I have the audacity or desire to completely disrupt our lives during the next two years.

The long story, and the thoughts that have taken up so much of my thoughts while we were in Boston for five days (when not stalking the Boston weather page and praying so hard that the weather would just. please. change.) are not about the race per se (though you can expect a lengthy, self-indulgent debriefing of the Boston experience when I get a chance to sit down and write it all out) but about the getting there, particularly the people in my life who made Boston a possibility.

It is humbling to me how often it takes so many people to make anything possible anymore.  I would like to think that I can self-sufficiently breeze through and handle things, when in truth, with small children, nothing is ever easy anymore and it is good for me to remember (and thank!) those who are part of the process rather than being frustrated that I can’t do it all on my own.

So without further ado, the lead roles of Ingrid’s 2015 Boston Marathon, in roughly chronological order.

First Running Buddy in New Town: The first person I ran with after moving states nine months ago who convinced me that running a marathon in 7 weeks would be fun.  It actually hurt more than it was fun, but it qualified me for Boston, which had not been on my goal list for the year.

Husband: Who not only cheered me on during the Estes Park marathon while driving a minivan with three screaming children in it, but then insisted that I run Boston.  He gave me endless grief until I committed and sent the BAA my credit card number while I protested all the while that I wasn’t sure I wanted to run Boston anyway.

Fairy Godmother: Swooped in, waved her wand and sent glitter flying everywhere.  She then proceeded to tell me to follow my dreams.  No mice or pumpkins were harmed in the process.

Coach: Originally this role was going to be filled by the all reaching Hal Higdon generic Boston training plan (the shortest I could find).  In a fantastic change of casting events, this role was filled by an accomplished runner who was willing to email me my training as the weeks progressed, listen to me whine about workouts, and give helpful advice.  If there is anything that’s going to keep you going through a hard workout, the knowledge that you are going to have to email your coach at the end of the week and detail your running does the trick.  Truly one of the people I have been most thankful for during the training process.  No one else cares that your 3K time dropped in your training runs except your coach!

High School Babysitter:  Found right after marathon training began, this responsible individual never knew if I would be studying pathophysiology in the basement or going out to run 7-10 miles in the wind/snow/rain (or sometimes) sunshine.

Really Awesome Training Buddy: Who, while training for her own first marathon that she is going to rock in a week and a half, was willing to lower her pace runs by 30 seconds to match my marathon pace segments during my Saturday long runs.  Also put up with my erratic pacing (Faster!  We’re barely at a 7:43 pace!  Oh, whoops, that mile was a 7:18.) and didn’t let rain, snow, hills, or sick children deter her.

Dad: Who returned early from life in the exotic far reaches of Thailand, leaving his lovely wife and really cool vacation spots (think elephants and awesome shopping) to come to rural Colorado and hang with a 3 and 5 year old boy.  For five days.  Yeah, five.  That is a LOT of hours with kids, even if they are your grandsons.

College Roommate: Who (along with her husband), was willing to add our youngest child who was a bad sleeper and eater and only mostly weaned to her collection of three children under 5.  For five days.  This should guarantee her some sort of medal as well as the ability to call in favors from us for approximately half a century.

Aunt and Nice Friends of Family: Fantastic aunt from back East who had family friends who were kind enough to allow us to stay with us on our jaunt to Boston, making the trip a possibility without having to re-finance our children.  Lovely people!

Supporting Cast: All of my dear friends and family who let me talk about the marathon, checked my status online, gave encouragement, followed my progress on the course, and congratulated me upon finishing.  As silly as I thought the text updates were, during the actual marathon it was such an encouragement to cross one of the mats and think that people in California, Colorado, and Michigan all knew where I was and cared about me.

Soundtrack: So my sister sent me two cds of songs that may be the best running music ever – but my computer wouldn’t read them so I was stuck with my old play list along with two new additions, One Republic’s I Lived, and Rachel Platten’s Fight Song, which I’d heard on the radio and loved.  More helpful at mile 10 than at mile 24, but still good running music.  Really though, Boston is so loud that the spectators are all the sound track you need!

Thank you to all who helped to make Boston 2015 a reality!

Posted by: Ingrid | April 15, 2015

Five days to go (plus marathon tracking info)

I have had several people ask how to find out what is going on during the marathon on Monday.  There is a mobile app that will allow you to get six updates on a runner during the marathon.  I would love this idea if I were sitting at work, sipping coffee and getting updates and giving commentary (Uh oh, they’re slowing down… must’ve hit the hills…).  As a runner, I am not so sure.  No pressure when people are being sent text messages of your mile splits, right?  But I will considered that extra incentive to run my best.  :-) Also, my bib number is 18590, for those who have asked for that.

And a little random trivia:

-There are 500+ runners from Colorado.

-There are 3 other Ingrids.

-I am the only person from Sterling.

Obviously I have too much time on my hands.

Today I ran three miles to shake out my legs.  The sun, already brilliant at 6:15, elongated my moving shadow against the newly plowed fields.  The air was crisp, the birds fluttering around newly blossomed trees, shaking off water as they rose in flight from the ditch by the roadside.  There was something almost spiritual about the moments on the road, breathing deep the cool air, soaking up the warmth of the sun.  A sort of centeredness knowing that this is where I am, right here, in the body that gets to run a marathon in a few days, running on these plains as the world wakes up.  I would not be running Boston if I hadn’t run an unexpected fall marathon because our move to Colorado made me feel crazy.  So I owe this town, with it’s terrible dogs and gusting winds and sometimes icy roads, a thank you, for the opportunity to meet a personal goal that I’ve carried for a decade.

Posted by: Ingrid | April 14, 2015

So much to do, so little time!

I am guessing that it’s normal to stalk the Boston weather report when the marathon in less than a week out.  Who knew Boston was so windy?!?  Maybe it doesn’t matter when you are in a sea of runners?

This has managed to be one of the busiest weeks of the semester (of course).  Husband had some big school related things to complete.  I had a Patho exam (today) and I have a lab quiz at 8:00 am the day after the marathon.  Then there are the things in the “other” category.  These include:
-Regurgitating the entirety of my brain onto paper to tack on a bulletin board because other people will be caring for my children.
-Making big decisions regarding what to pack for Boston.
-Checking the weather report again.
-Painting a beat up dresser (don’t ask me why, but I felt this was SO important).
-Making cookies, brownies, and banana bread so the boys and my Dad don’t starve.
-Hanging curtains in my Dad’s room.
-Making my marathon playlist.
-Visiting the chiropractor.

The clock is ticking for about a day and a half more and then we are off!  To Boston!  Wheeeeee!

Posted by: Ingrid | April 10, 2015

Top Songs of 2014: I need new music!

When I ran the half marathon about five weeks ago and put together my playlist, I actually “splurged” and used some iTunes credit that I have probably had since 2004.  Why are songs no longer 99 cents?  So sad!  But that is the rate at which I add running music, generally mixing around songs on playlists for years before getting tired of the songs.  I added three songs, Daughtry’s Waiting for Superman and Superchick’s Stand in the Rain, both of which I really like, and Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off, which I actually find kind of obnoxious. But here’s the thing, while part of me finds her annoying, her song also makes me want to laugh every time I hear it. On top of that, if she came out with a “Shake it off” parenting technique, I might be in (Paint got on the floor? I just want to shake!).

Once I was trying to piece together playlists for the really long runs I realized that I was desperately in need of new song and artist suggestions.  Although it does tell you something about a song when it sees you through an entire year of running.  Oddly enough, Frozen’s Let it Go, lasted only six months (Yes, I downloaded that song along with every ten year old girl in America.  I consider it an anthem for the first born child.) Based on the songs I still run to, here are my top 2014 songs in case anyone needs some new music.

1. Fall Out Boy, The Phoenix.  Because any song that rhymes “remix” and “phoenix” is guaranteed to make me laugh.  Also, Fall Out Boy has fantastic running music in general.

2. Fall Out Boy, Alone Together.  I was charging around the indoor track in Michigan over a year ago while listening to this and it’s still on my playlist!

3. Three Days Grace, Life Starts Now.  I heard this on the radio at the start of the year, what feels like another life time ago. One of those songs that I put in the category of “gritty inspirational”.

4. One Direction, One Thing. So I’d never seen the music video until just now and I am a little embarrassed. But there is something about the “boy band” sound that makes me laugh.  Which relieves tension.  Which is good for running.  Right?!?

5. Panic! At the Disco, Memories.  PATD: Good sound and interesting lyrics.

6. A lot of music by Kesha.  Please let it be noted that I never EVER claimed to have good taste in running music or that I ever allow my children to listen to the music I run with.

Also, if anyone has any running songs they absolutely love, I have this marathon in a week and I really need recommendations for new music!

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