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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Great Weekend

This past weekend was a good one. It was filled with wonderful moments, each one better than the one before.

So, let's start with Saturday.  Saturday was Hans' and my first day off in 3 weeks.  THREE WEEKS!  That alone is cause for celebration.  Did we sleep in and lounge about, though?  Nope!  We had a race to run.  This weekend was the annual Monument Avenue 10k.

Monument Ave was my first 10k back in 2012.  It was a grey, rainy day, and I remember being so excited and nervous.  I was so overcome with emotions that day that I teared up by the 1/2 mile mark.  I also remember both Dad and Hans were at the finish line, and Mom, my best friend, and Hans and I all went out for a celebratory meal afterwards.  I was sore and tired but oh so pleased.  In fact, I was so pleased with myself from my results that day (1:04:18).

Boy was this year different!  This year, I treated this race as just another training run.  It was cold, and I was tired.  I really didn't want to be there, and I wasn't even enjoying the fun costumes or the party atmosphere.  I was excited for Hans who was running it for the second time, and I was nervous for Mom who was walking it (for the 3rd time), but really I just wanted to be at home with Anna.  Anna was at home with Jess who was kind enough to babysit early in the morning.

So, I started the race.  I was layered up, and my race watch was covered, so I didn't take the time to check my pace.  I just listened to my body and hoped I had a pace that was better than that first year. (Note: Due to injuries and pregnancy in previous years, this was the first year I actually had a chance at setting a PR).  I didn't think much of my overall goal of under an hour since training runs hadn't been near that pace.  I just wanted to get it over with.  Imagine my surprise then when, at the end of the race, I checked my watch and saw 1:00:02.  What was my official time!?  When I checked the final results, the race clock read my time at 0:59:57!  That means I finally ran a 10k in under an hour!  This has been a goal for 3 years!  I did and had no clue I was going to do it!  Great surprise!

Hans finished shortly thereafter (can I mention how proud I am of him), and we went home to warm up and shower.  As I mentioned, Mom was walking the 10k.  This wasn't her first time walking it, but it was definitely her first time post chemo and radiation.  Here's the thing.  Chemo and radiation are hard.  For many of her training days, Mom ended up just curled up in bed, either shivering from cold or trying not to be sick.  Her longest walk prior to this was 4 miles, and afterwards she had to sleep in her car for an hour.  So, I was worried.  I had to head on to work, but I was anxious for news of how she did.  Hans picked her up, and gave me the report.  She finished!  She finished with a friend and with one of her coaches.  She was at home sleeping, she was exhausted, but she had finished.  She was ushered in by a police vehicle, but she had finished.  I was so, so proud of her!
Mom (in the floppy hat) with her coach and her walking buddy
 If that had been all there was to the great weekend that would have been fine, but there was still more to come.  I mean, all that happened in just the first 3 hours!  Saturday, Hans and I spent the afternoon together (after my quick moment in work) while Anna spent most of the time napping.  When we got home, I set Anna on the floor to play.  We've been waiting for Anna to crawl for a while now, so tummy time has been important.  Well, not wanting to be outdone by the achievements from earlier in the day, Anna crawled!  Cheers all around!
How could you not cheer this adorable face?
Sunday was a relaxing day.  We went to Romp 'n Roll, followed by church, followed by lunch out with the grandparents.  After that, we came home to a quiet house to rest and recharge for Monday.  Hans grilled burgers, we snuggled, and we simply enjoyed each others' company.  How could it get any better than that?

So, what did I say?  Is that a great weekend or what?  I wish they could all be that wonderful!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

I'm Still Here!

Wow!  It's been 2 whole months since my last blog post.  I definitely had not planned on going so long.  Countless times I've thought of great blog posts, but life has gotten in the way.  So, let me fill you in just a little.

Since my last post was about Anna starting daycare, let's start there.  Well, first, she stopped sleeping through the night around the same time she started daycare.  She'd consistently wake up around 2 or 3am, sometimes as early as midnight, and would be super fussy all night long.  Then, she'd be tired and cranky all day because she hadn't slept well the night before.  This is the number one reason I didn't post.  I was so tired and out of it I couldn't function well enough to type.  We seem to have gotten a bit of a handle on it in the past week or so, and Anna is back to sleeping through the night (lots more solid food really helped), so that's good.  That said, I thought a happier baby in general might mean she'd start to like daycare more.  Nope.  She decidedly hates it.  I mean, I know there are times when she's just playing me and is crying for me to see, but I really do think she hates it.  Personally, I think it's just her personality.  She seems to be  happiest at daycare when she's alone in a corner with a toy.  When another kid comes around she cries.  Alternatively, she'll also be OK when one of the teachers holds her and pays attention only to her.  Ah, my poor little introverted kid who's apparently a spoiled only child.  What will I do with you?  It's kind of hard, though, when everyone you encounter says what a happy baby she is, but daycare says, "Well, she cried a little less today."  So, any tips?

OK, on to the next thing.

Last month, Hans, Anna, and I took our first trip to Disney World.  We went down right during the middle of the coldest temperatures and snow, so I think we planned that well.  We planned the trip around their Princess Half Marathon, so we had a booked-solid schedule.  I probably have at least 2 posts to cover the whole trip, but let me sum up a few things.  The Diaper Dash isn't worth it, but the other kids' races seemed fun.  Never EVER stay in one of their All-Star Resorts.  It's nothing more than an over-priced Econo Lodge.  The park itself was a lot of fun.  Some things were a bit overwhelming for Anna, but we stayed flexible (that's key), and we ended up having a great time.  I highly recommend getting a meal plan if you plan on going, and be prepared to walk...a lot.  Actually, by the time we got to the half marathon on Sunday, I was really concerned that my legs would be shot from all the walking we'd been doing in the days prior.  That said, the half was one of the easiest and most fun I've ever done.  There are a few things I'd do differently, but all in all I had blast.  Oh, and as for tips for flying with an infant?  I can't say I have many.  Anna was perfect and slept most of the time.  When she was awake she was really happy.  I did let her nurse however much she wanted to help with ear pressure, but all in all it was a really easy trip.

After the trip, the entire family got sick with the sinus infection from Hell.  Anna was put on antibiotics (which of course upset her stomach), and Hans and I went to the chiropractor and suffered in our own ways.  I whined a lot, and Hans took lots of Advil.  We're all on the mend now, but there were a couple of days last week where I was ready to head to the dentist and have them pull my teeth just to relieve the pressure in my head.  It was awful.

Other than that, life is super hectic.  We're going through some staffing changes at the kennel.  One of our leads decided to move back to Colorado to be with family, and it's left me pulling a lot of long days (6am-10pm anyone?  It's like it was when we first opened!).  I know this is only temporary, though, and we'll get through it.  We'll miss our lead dearly, but I'm excited for some of the things happening at the kennel soon, so I just keep telling myself that when I'm having a particularly bad day.  Mom is doing well.  She just completed three weeks of radiation, so she's recovering from that, but all her scans are still good.  She has her next scan in April and we're all anxious for the results.  If they come back clean she won't have to worry about any more treatments!

All in all, I'm loving life.    I'm finally getting back on some semblance of a schedule since Disney, and I'm getting used to the routine.  I'm lucky to have a ton of support in Hans and family, because I know I couldn't do this without them.  And now that weather is turning warmer, I'm super-happy.  Yay sunny, 60 degree days!  Let's hope it stays that way!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Starting Daycare

I don't know about you, but things around here have been BUSY!  The holidays are over, we're packing up decorations, Anna is growing WAY too fast, and the kennel is keeping me hopping.  I've finally started getting back to the kennel on a regular basis, and that has been wonderful in so many ways, but it's also exhausting.  Unfortunately, one of the things making it extremely difficult has been the fact that Anna is getting so active.  It would be one thing if it were just a matter of keeping her from getting into trouble, but Anna is hitting that age where she realizes when I'm not around and she wants me around...and she wants me to play with her...or hold her...or nurse her...all the time.

As much as I loved having Anna all the time, I really wasn't accomplishing anything at the kennel.  I was lucky if I could get one task done in a 4 hour period, and I couldn't leave the front counter because that was the only safe place for Anna.  I couldn't hang out in the yards, I couldn't clean, and if Anna was in a crabby mood I even had trouble answering the phones.

So, Hans and I discussed things, and we decided to start Anna in daycare.  The idea was that I could accomplish some things at work, and Anna would start to learn that she didn't need to be near me all the time, and she'd get to socialize with other babies.  It was the perfect solution.  The problem?  We had to find a daycare that was accepting infants.

Apparently most people register their infants while they're still pregnant.  I knew this, but Hans and I hadn't planned on needing daycare.  Mom was going to care for Anna.  We hadn't planned on her getting sick or needing surgery or being unable to even lift Anna.  So, when life threw us that little curve ball, we decided to try it on our own.  It didn't work, and when we started looking for a daycare we were told that the wait would be until March at the earliest or, in one case, September!

I had just decided that we'd need to search for a private nanny and had started looking into nanny-share options when we just happened to drive by a brand new daycare.  It was way out of the way for us, so I didn't think too much of it, but I was desperate, so I pulled up some info on my phone.

This daycare offered part time options.  Check!  They would handle cloth diapers.  Check!  They even have cameras in the room so we could watch Anna while we're away.  Oooh!  Interested!  We scheduled a tour, fell in love, and signed her up.

It's been one week, and Anna has attended two mornings and one afternoon.  There are so many things I could say about it (like I'm proud I haven't cried...out loud).  I'm able to get so much more work done, but I miss my daughter.  I worry about whether this is the best fit for her or if I should have gotten a nanny.  I worry, due to the newness of the facility, that she doesn't have enough kids around her to socialize.  And yet, I know she's healthy.  She's safe.  And for 3 half days a week, I have some time to be an adult.  It's wonderful.

Yes, Anna has started daycare.  We're still working out all the glitches, and we're still getting used to it, but it's a good thing so far.  After a while, she'll probably go at least 3 full days a week, but I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to slowly get her used to it (and get me used to it).  The staff is great, and I really think things will work out well.

Now I'm putting it out to y'all.  Do you have any tips?  Any advice?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Bye 2014!

This past year has been a crazy one, full of ups and downs.

UP: Continuing to run until I was 35 weeks pregnant.
DOWN: Not running a single full marathon this year. (That's minor, though, because of the reasons.)
Admittedly, this photo is from 2013, but you get the idea.


UP: Giving birth to our beautiful daughter, Anna.
DOWN: Finding out Mom had cancer.


UP: Getting the best birthday present ever when Mom's scans came back so good.
DOWN: Dealing with Mom's chemo.
Mom, on the very last day of chemo!
UP: Watching our business grow and thrive.
DOWN: Working a lot and barely having a moment to myself.

UP: Celebrating 7 great years with Hans.
DOWN: Not having enough time to spend together.
Bonus: Another running photo!
UP: Cody and Lollie
UP: Wonderful family
UP: A general feeling of happiness
All three of my babies.



Things haven't necessarily been easy, but there has been a good balance, and a general trend towards good.  I can only hope that 2015 ends up being even better.  That said, I'm not going to discuss my New Year's resolutions today.  I'm not going to give an update of the past few weeks (although, there is some catching up to do).  As the sun sets on this past year, I'm just going to wish you all a wonderful New Year!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Chemo

I hate chemo.  I hate chemo and I don't even have to go through it.

I hate how sick it makes Mom.

I hate how it invades our lives, forcing us to overly plan something as simple as lunch with a friend.

I hate how we're filling Mom with poison and yet it's supposedly helping her.

I hate how it smells.  It doesn't just smell in the treatment center.  It also leaves Mom with a very distinct, very pungent odor that lasts for a week or more.

I hate how it's apparently so bad that children under 18 can't even be in the treatment area, meaning I can't spend quiet time visiting with my mom.

I hate how it screws with the brain and has all sorts of mental side effects.  Mom's biggest side effects are impatience and combativeness.

Mom is doing well, but chemo is so hard on the whole family.  Today she starts her final round of chemo, and I can't wait for that final day.  She'll get to ring a bell and come home, and she'll (hopefully) never have to return for further chemo treatment.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

My Half Marathon

You've already heard about Hans' first half marathon, and I had a little of myself in there, but I did want to take a moment to tell you how my first race postpartum went.  It went really well!

I had some personal goals going in to the race, and I was definitely using this race a way to determine how much I'd bounced back.  So, my goals were:

1) No walking.  I never count the water stops or stops to refuel as walking, so other than that I wanted to run the whole way.

2) Have a decent time:  I told people my goal was 2:30:00, but in reality I was shooting for under 2:24:00.  That was the approximate time of my very first half marathon, and I was really hoping to be slightly faster than or at least equal to that.  My super-lofty goal was 2:17:00 (my fastest half to date).

3) Feel good at the finish: I really didn't want to feel like I was pushing myself too hard.  I wanted to finish feeling good and happy, not like things had been some huge struggle.

The end result was pretty good.   As for the walking rule, I kept it.  There were times when I really wanted to walk (like up a big hill), but I just kept going.  On the time front, I finished in approximately 2:18:00!  I didn't reach my super-lofty goal, but I definitely reached my primary goal.  On feeling good, well, I did and I didn't.

At the end of the race, I actually felt really good.  I mean, I had to take a moment to catch my breath, but I was moving fine and only felt a little sore.  There were a few body parts that surprised me by aching, but I'm attributing that to a slightly different body shape post-baby and a desperate need for new running shoes.

 During the race, however, while I didn't feel bad (for the most part), I also didn't feel good like I usually do.  There were plenty of times where continuing on was a definite struggle.  I know in previous races, I've normally felt pretty good after 4 miles or so, but that wasn't the case this time.  So, I need to figure that one out.  Did I not feel as wonderful because I'd only trained for 13.1 miles as opposed to my usual 26.2?  How much did the cold affect me?  Is that why things seemed difficult at points? Was I just overly tired, both physically and mentally, from a long week?  Is my body just not ready for that kind of intensity yet?

Honestly, it may be a little bit of everything.  Still, I'm quite pleased overall.  I went for a lovely 4 mile run this morning (the early-morning moon was awesome), I don't feel particularly drained from this race, and I'm pleased with where I am.  I also know that I'll be training for the full marathon again next year.  I love the Richmond Marathon, and the Half just can't take its place.  Until then, I'll just keep looking for other fun races.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Hans' First Half Marathon

Can I just say I'm super proud of my husband?  I'm SUPER PROUD of my husband!!!

Yesterday was the day of the Richmond Marathon, Half Marathon, and 8k, and Hans ran his very first half marathon.

Hans first mentioned the thought of training for a half marathon after my very first marathon.  It was a joke.  He really didn't have any interest in training for a half marathon.  Then, by the following summer, I was started training for my second marathon and Mom started training for her first 5k.  Hans decided to go for it too.  He signed up for his first 5k, a small race in his hometown the day before I was to run my second marathon.  He challenged himself, and he did quite well.  I don't want to necessarily speak for him, but I think he started to seriously consider a half at that point. 

Then,  he decided to train for the Monument Avenue 10k.  He signed up for a training team, and stuck to the program quite well.  I trained for that one on my own since I was pregnant at the time, but I ran every step of the race with him.  After that race, he was almost ready to sign up for a half marathon.

Then life got crazy.  I gave birth to Anna, and then Mom got her diagnosis.  I was just getting back in to running, and Hans was just trying to make it through the day.  The day before the half training team started neither one of us had signed up.  That was also the day Mom had to go to the ER.  When we came home, we had a decision to make.  Do we do the half marathon?  I knew my answer was yes.  I needed to do this for me.  Hans, however, was considering just doing the 8k.  Somehow, though, he decided the half would be alright.  I mean, he'd already done a 10k.  Why would he take a step back?  So, he signed up for the half marathon training team.  He'd train on Saturday mornings, and I'd train on Sunday mornings.  This way one of us would always be available to watch Anna.

His first 8 mile run was scary because it was a new distance for him.  The 11 mile run was problematic because Hans was supposed to work on Saturday.  So, we both got up early on Friday morning and I pushed Anna in the stroller while Hans ran next to me.  Eleven miles later, we finished just as the sun came up.  Then we both showered, got dressed, and headed into work.  The twelve mile run seemed like such a long distance, and it was the closest Hans would get to the half marathon distance until race day.  I expected him to come home beat and tired, but he did quite well.  He rested just a bit, but then he met me at work and we went out for pizza together.

This entire time, I continued training, working on my speed and rebuilding my distance.  I was pleased to find that I was starting to improve.  The long runs were a little easier than they'd once been, and my shorter runs were definitely getting faster.  In just a couple of months, I'd gone from 11 minute miles to 10 minute miles, to the occasional 9:45 minute miles.  I wasn't super fast, but I was improving.

Then came race day.  We'd had beautiful weather in the weeks leading up to race day, but the actual day of the race was COLD.  Well, at least for Virginia it was cold.  When we woke up, I checked the temperature: 27 degrees Fahrenheit...brrrrrrr!  We went about our usual morning routine, and then my dad and his girlfriend arrived at our house.  We gathered everything together, piled into the van, and went to the race start.  I think we timed things perfectly, because we arrived just as the race was starting...no waiting around in the cold for us! 

We started things out at a nice slow pace.  I told Hans I'd stick with him for the first half mile or so, but since we'd agreed ahead of time to each run our own race, I'd take my own pace after that first half mile.  At the half mile mark, I sped up just a bit, and Hans made sure he was on his target pace for that point.

One thing I noticed was how long it was taking my legs to warm up.  The cold weather was definitely affecting me, but I had no other choice but to just keep running.  I focused on lifting my legs and how my feet were striking the ground.  Around mile 4 the course made a big loop, and I realized I might get to see Hans.  I kept searching the sea of runners heading the opposite direction, and then I spotted him.  He looked great and had a big smile on his face.  We exchanged some happy words, and then we kept on running.

There were some happy moments for me along the run, and I hope to tell you about them in another post, but the important thing I'll note is that I finished under my goal time.  Yay!!  Then, I found my family, snuggled Anna, and waited for Hans to finish.  The race ends at the bottom of a tall hill, so I kept looking at the top of the hill, hoping I'd see Hans as he ran down.  Then, after a little bit of time, I saw a blonde head and a green shirt.  Yes!  There was Hans!  He was coming down the final stretch!

I held Anna over my head, pointed Hans out to my family, and screamed his name over and over.  GO HANS!!!  GOOOO!!!!!  He still didn't see me.  I watched as he came in strong and finally crossed that beautiful finish.  HANS!  HANS!  OVER HERE!  He was finally at a decent angle where we weren't back lit by the sun.  He looked over, grinned, and waived.  I brought Anna in close to me and told my family that I was going to go meet up with him.  I ran down to the end of the chute, and there he was.  "How do you feel?" I asked.  "Hurt."  "You poor thing!  I'm so proud of you!"

The 13.1 miles he'd just run did not go as well as his 12 miler.  He was technically within his goal, but it was hard.  The cold had gotten to him, the week leading up was hard, and the end result was simply that he was tired...so tired.  He walked...slowly through the photographers.  I'd ask him if he wanted to have his picture taken and he'd say, "OK." We'd stop, take a few pictures, and then he'd practically beg to keep walking.  I sent my family over to the training team tent, and I led him to the food.  Ah, beautiful post-race pizza! 

A tired, but happy post-race family.
After a long race, we all walked back to the car and then to local diner where we had sausage gravy and biscuits.  Oh, and bacon.  Glorious bacon.  When we got home, Dad used his phys ed training to really stretch Hans out.  Hans gave this amusing grimace which I remember so well from my first marathon.  That grimace that says, "Oh, this hurts so good."  Then he went up to shower.  Once he got out, I left him with Anna so I could shower as well.  After that I was all for letting Hans rest.  He laid out on the couch, while I held Anna, and we all watched TV.  Hans wasn't the only one who was tired from the day:
Post race exhaustion.
So, it was a good day for all of us.  This may not have been his best race, but I know it won't be his last.  In case I haven't said it enough, I am so proud of Hans.  He rocked this race out!