Wednesday, November 21, 2012

In a Van, Down by the River

I just spent 30 hours in a van with five amazing people just so we could watch and cheer for about 2500 ridiculous athletes as they completed IronMan Arizona. The trip was long, but the miles flew by fairly painlessly, as the company was splendid, the laughs were many, and we knew the reason for the trip was monumental and inspiring and not to be missed.

I don't want to spend a lot of time talking about it with words. Instead, I'd like to share my top photographs of the weekend, the images that attempt to capture the spirit of the event and the athletes and the thousands of friends and family supporting their athletes. Words like "inspiring," "awesome," "incredible" and such get thrown around a lot in describing an event like this, but I have to tell you, until you see it in person, you can't understand how words like that fall short.

Without further delay, IMAZ 2012 in photos.

West Texas sunrise, from the van window. 
Pit stop somewhere between here and there. Hard to remember. Never to be forgotten. 
Ritas for lunch? Why, yes, that sounds lovely. 
Residents of the Frunner Compound before a morning run through the desert. 
Shoes, Shoes, Shoes!! 
Surprise!! So hard keeping a mystery passenger a secret. So worth it to have pulled it off!
Pre-race excitment. 
At the start. Such a powerful scene. 
Lead swimmer and escort. 
Never let it be said we don't bring the cheer!
Swim done. Time to bike. Such determination! 

Team Drum
Small breather on a tough day. Rocked his first IM. 
All smiles with 10 miles to go.
With Joy in Her Heart. Beautiful and strong. 
Aid Station. There were more volunteers than athletes. 
Finishing the race was not the best thing that happened to him this day. She said "Yes!"
You are an Ironman! 
Amazing group of people. Amazing weekend. So lucky to have been a part of it. Can't wait for the next one. 

Friday, November 09, 2012

Friday Five: The Belated Birthday Edition

Hey!! What up?! Yeah, I know. Lots going on and yet not much to report. Life is a challenge right now, but I'm also managing to have buckets of fun here and there. So, what's been going on around here since we last chatted? Besides getting a year older?  Hmmm.....

Hey, Diamond DAWLSSSSSS!!! 
1) Well, this for one. I spent a lot of time (no, really, a LOT of time) at the Ballpark with these girls, wearing high socks and customized shirts, soaking in the sunshine and cheering on the Rangers. Twas a ton of fun. Would have been more fun if, you know, they'd have WON just one more game. Just one.  That's all we asked. But, alas they fell short, ending my baseball season prematurely, and leaving me with a sad little broken sports heart.  There's not even any hockey to replace it. Sads.

Like the USPS, not even rain could keep us from our baseball boys!
I'm serious, y'all. I spent a LOT of time at the park. Not a much better way to spend a summer evening than in the stands ogling watching hot baseball boys skilled athletes play a game that you love. For reals. 

2) I *am* running. I'm not logging it on Daily Mile or even *gasp* keeping it on a spreadsheet.  I have no way to tell you how many miles I've done this week, this month or this year. This is new for me. I usually could tell you all that stuff, along with paces, weekly averages, monthly totals, etc., etc., Nope, not this year. I'm running when I feel like it, and sometimes (looks around conspiratorially) I even WALK! I realized not too long after the triathlon and HHH that I was not going to make this arbitrary goal that I had set for myself a few months ago when I started the Run Less Run Faster plan, because of time I'd taken off for vacation, work, life.  And whereas I would've gotten all tied up in knots over that a few months ago, suddenly, coming to that realization was okay with me. 

Some runners need goals in front of them to keep them challenged. Some runners have lists of races that they are frantically trying to check off. I used to be one of those, I think. I had so much to prove. But I don't have that now. And I'm more than okay with that. Races will be there. But running and trying to hit certain paces and make certain mileage goals had become one more thing on an already overwhelming To Do list, and I was beginning to dread the thing that I used to love. So I backed off. Does that make me less of a runner? Maybe.  Do I care? No, not really. There are seasons for all things, and right now, this is a season for me to step back from "competing" and comparing myself to others, to previous versions of myself even, and to do what feels right and brings me joy. 

Goofy as all get out, yes. But, damn, I had fun that day!
3) This right here? THIS brought me joy. Driving six hours, camping in frigid weather with coyotes howling in the not-so-far distance, running through a landscape that looked like Mars, and laughing and hanging out with friends all brought me joy when I went to the Palo Duro Canyon trail race in mid-October.  I almost didn't go. Work was insane (but it almost always is) and it was starting to feel like one more thing I HAD to do. Thankfully, I realized that I needed the trip to recharge and refresh and rejuvenate my spirit. I got to run the whole distance with my buddy Julie, aka Peppermint Patty, and we ran some, we walked some, we chatted, we laughed, we stopped to take pictures. It was so easy going and fun, yet challenging and rewarding when we crossed the finish line together.

This year was such a different experience from last year's race.  Last year, I was still trying to hard to prove myself and to get out of a really bad headspace. Long drives are good for heartfelt conversations with buddies, I tell you what. But I was so beaten down by having to DNF that I didn't really appreciate the beauty of the canyon and the camaraderie of my companions as I should have. But I did this year. Doing the "fun run" race distance made all the difference. I was able to enjoy my run, and still have energy and excitement to cheer on my friends and other runners, and had energy to hang out with our campsite neighbors afterward and soak in the clear night sky and campfire. Good times, y'all, good times. 

So hard to get a casual shot of them in the same space these days. 
4) These guys. The one is fixing to fly the coop. Senior year. Not sure when that happened.  But he will be gone soon, and there is a lot to be done before he graduates and moves off to college. He's got his schools narrowed down to a couple of top choices and a couple of backups.  He knows what he wants his major to be, different from what it was just a couple of months ago. He is finalizing essays and applications and scholarship forms and all that, and it's exciting and terrifying and exhausting all at the same time. There's still hockey and Scouts (wrapping up the Eagle project, tick tock) and drama and performances and so much to do and time is zipping by, and wasn't he a tiny baby screaming his head off in my arms just yesterday?? Senior year, y'all. Wow. 

And the other one, coming into his own in 6th grade this year. Taking theater classes, too, and becoming even more of a nerdlet than we ever thought, but in a great way. He's clever and voraciously reading everything he puts his hands on. He even went to his first junior high dance before Halloween. Dang. Time flies. But that's what happens when you turn 12, like he did a couple of weeks ago. You go to dances and such. Oy. 

So, yeah, I'm making sure to not blink so I don't miss a thing. These man-children, they won't be around forever. Races will come and go, but I'll never get another chance for these times with these boys. You better believe I'm enjoying every second (when I'm not exasperated by them, one or both!)

FIGJAM. #thatisall
My girls, minus the Beths & Alicia, celebrating October birthdays. My rocks. 
It was cold. These people came from all over FW-D for a birthday trail run. For ME! LOVE! 
5) My peoples. A never-ending source of inspiration, comfort, motivation and good cheer. I'm still not sure what I've done to deserve such a strong and amazing group of friends, but I continue to be in a constant state of awe at their collective and individual drive, determination and progress as athletes and as individuals. I've been so pleased to be able to cheer them in person and from afar as they tackle new race distances, reach for tough goals and just push themselves to be better, stronger, faster in everything they do. And it's not just about athleticism, either. Each of these people faces unique challenges and juggles their own competing priorities, and yet, we have built this great support system for each other. We encourage and root for each other in all that we do, whether we are doing a 5k, an IronMan, interviewing for a new job or just trying to make it through the day. It's a great thing, and I'm so pleased to be a part of it. There just are no words to explain what we've built here and no way to express my continuing feeling of undeservedness at being a part of it. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Yep, that's me with my running shoes! HA!! Poser! 

Runners on Wheels (ROW), that's what we are. We are not elite cyclists. We have reflectors on our wheels, and I ride in cages and running shoes. Remember the townies in "Breaking Away"? Yeah, that's me. Clueless about the gear, the techniques, just out there having fun. With about 14,000 of my closest friends.

I rode the Hotter than Hell on Saturday. Fifty miles. My longest distance on a bicycle ever. We actually lucked out some and got cooler temps than usual. That said, it was still crazy hot out there, but it wasn't terrible, and it sure was easier to ride in that heat than to run in it. The plan was to hang out and ride easy and have fun with Marci, Jason and Julie. And that's exactly what we did. We would take turns going up front a little ahead and opening it up when we could, but for the most part, we stuck together, and if we did get separated, we would always regroup at the aid stations. It was much more fun that way.

There were so many people in this ride. I knew it was large, but I had NO idea! Blocks and blocks and blocks of riders.  All kinds of bicycles, too! And really, even though we joke about being ROW, I could tell that these were not just elites out there. There were average-looking folks left and right, and some of them were struggling and some were smoking me! It was great to see the wide variety of folks on the roads, all enjoying the day and cursing the wind. It really reinforced to me how much fun this active lifestyle I have fallen into is.

My phone died shortly after we finished, so I didn't get to take as many post-race pix as I would have liked, but a few highlights below.

with Fred, Marci, Sweet Julie and the giant YELLOW WASP! WTH?!
 A new jersey has been ordered, because, yeah, WOW!
OSP at aid station.  Rally Aid Stations rival, perchance surpass, trail AS. I kid you not. 
JUANITA! We found Joaquin the Powah Monkey's girlfrann!! 
C is for COOKIE!!  Lots of cookies. THIS is a great reason to ride! 
As is this. Riding through the AFB and seeing cute pilot boys was bonus! 
DONE!! This was Marci's first rally and she did GREAT! So much fun! 

Got to see Fawn & her crew on her birthday, and see TPG, Trece and the Leubs, too!
I will be back for more, for sure!! I had such a fun time, start to finish, even though the winds in the last 13 or so miles were wicked crazy. I felt more confidence and connection to my bicycle than ever before, and except for a little twinge in The Knee at about mile 37, I felt great during and afterward (and for the record, The Knee didn't hurt while riding, only when I got off at the Greatest Aid Station With The Tables of Cookies Sent From Heaven). I've got some big-girl pedals and cleats in my shopping cart and when those come in, I will have Reveille professionally fitted to me so I know I am getting the most out of my legs. It'll only get better from here, I know it!!

Shout-outs to the following: 
Fred -  for hauling us out to BFE West Texas in his truck, all loaded up and looking like we knew what we were doing!! Thanks for having the patience to deal with us on the ride, too! 
Ned -  for hauling major bootay and riding 100 miles in about an hour longer than it took us to ride 50. Bad-ass Asian. Damn. 
Drum and Debby - sads we didn't see you guys, but I hear you rocked the hell outta it, as expected. Boom, baby! 
Fawn - HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! What a great treat to see the family, and give you a birthday hug! You constantly astound and inspire me!! 
Heidi and Brian - congrats on the 100-miler!! You guys are always so fun!! 
Trece - Dang, dude.  Just dang. I'm in awe of your prowess on the wheels and your plans for the 8-hour ride. Quite an inspiration, you are. Plus, always fun to hang with you, even if you spill my sno-cone!!! 
TPG - Fierce and adorbs, all in one tiny little package. Love it! Loved seeing your big smile when you came into the chute. Thank you for being alongside me for my first and for being in my head encouraging me during this one. When I grow up, I wanna be like you, hobo hair and all! 
Julie - My partner in crime! Loved catching up with you and riding with you and laughing with you. Always fun when you're around!

And, because Julie made us laugh while we were chanting "Row, Row, Row," here is a little video for you!!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday Five: The Looking Back Edition

I"m in a retrospective mood today. Has nothing to do with my kid going to Austin today for his first college visit or anything. Nothing at all.  Certainly has nothing to do with my best friend packing up her daughter and moving her into a dorm room down at our alma mater. Nope. Not one thing...

But we have had some milestones around here lately, and reminders that time marches on, and we can't fight it, but it really works best when we embrace it and grab life and make the most of every day we have. Not to go all Green Day on you or anything, but, yeah...

So, here are five things that I'm thinking about today, on the last Friday before my Elder Child starts his senior year of high school:

1.  How is my kid old enough to be a senior?? Even as he is driving now, and narrowing down his choice of colleges and majors and the directions his life is going to take, I remember him like this:
Such a tiny little bundle of SCREAMY in a quiet moment with Grandma.  
He will always and forever be this tiny little stubborn boy, so determined to do what he wanted to do, as he wanted to do it, no matter what, even when he was three days old and brought me to tears because he would not stop crying. When did this happen? 

He's this brawny man-child now. Driving. Being all nearly adult and stuff.... 
2. We celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary last week. It actually fell on a Monday night, and the weekend before it was full of movie night with the boys, early Saturday kids' activities and a Ranger game, which, if you know me at all, is about the perfect way for me to celebrate any important occasion. We got to see the Rangers in their 1970s powder blue throwback unis, and see the All-Time Rangers team in a pre-game ceremony.  Much fun was had the whole weekend, with the exception of my favorite Ranger being put on the DL. 
Mmmm, powder blues.... Yes, please! 
On the day of our actual anniversary, we intended to drop the boys off at their Scout meeting and have a nice little ice cream date, but instead got sidetracked talking for a friend outside the meeting for an hour. Oops. Our anniversary ice cream date ended up being fro-yo for four with the boys. Ah, well, that was good too. Not to worry, the boys had a three-day campout, so we got to enjoy lots of kidlet-activity-free time over the weekend, sleep late, and drag out our anniversary par-tay. The perks of having both boys in the same Scout troop at last!! And the great thing about being married for so long is that a long weekend of hanging out watching baseball and old movies, occasionally emerging for burgers and a friend's sombrero party, well, that was just about the perfect way for us to celebrate! 
March 1989, I think? I don't think my glasses are quite ROUND enough... 
3. On the same day as our anniversary, this kid started Junior High. Sixth grade. Dang. That's almost as tough to take as the other one being a senior! 
Running along the beach in Venice, CA. I think he was just about two. 
This kid. Ah. So different from the other one, in so many ways. Growing into a tween now, asking for a cell phone, spending hours online playing video games, having his own very specific opinions on nearly everything. He's a joy. Will be so interesting to see how his personality develops in the next few years. He definitely keeps me on my toes, this one! 
Two-strapping the backpack. haha!
4. Being back in DC and seeing my friend Rebecca made me all nostalgic for the Marine Corps Marathon. I wish I still had access to my blog from back then. I remember having a couple of battles leading up to that marathon. I had done White Rock the year before, so I knew I could handle the distance. But there is always that wonder in the back of your mind of whether you can truly do it again. Maybe the first one was a fluke, and I got really lucky. Maybe the weather will suck. Maybe I will fall (a distinct possibility for me...). But there were a lot more nerves and worry going into this one, and I would love to be able to go back and revisit those thoughts. I bet a lot of t hem would apply to me again, as I work back toward being the kind of runner I want to be, the kind of runner I know I can be. Ah, I guess I will have to look at the pictures and just enjoy those instead. And hope I can remember to try to capture some of the same shots when I go back next year! 

5. Ok, enough with the looking back for today. How about we look forward?  Not too far - just about 24 hours. Because in that time, I will be well on my way to my first 50-mile bicycle ride!! YEE-HAW!!! I'm excited and askerid and pumped to spend the day with some great Frunners on Bicycles. It's going to be a total chaos scene - one of the largest sanctioned century bike ride in the country. Last year there were 14,000 riders. That's a lot of wheels. Should be good times, though. And I'm pretty sure there will be pictures later. 
This was awesome. This weekend promises to be just as great. Stay tuned. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday 5: In Pictures

It's no secret I have a tough time balancing the various aspects of my life. I have a bit of an extreme personality, and I tend to go all-in on things when they're front and center in my brain, leaving the other parts to wither and die. It's a battle I fight constantly. One of the symptoms of that is this blog - I either am running a lot and blogging about it, or I am being a slack-ass and have very little to report. I'm trying to find balance here and elsewhere, so in a tiny attempt at that, I'd like to start blogging more regularly again.

So, when I read my friend Trece's blog and saw that he not only was able to fit in a rocking ""Hookin' Horns" race pic AND a FIGJAM reference, I decided I had to steal borrow his format for today's entry. No, this is not fine literature here, folks, but it's a start. Gotta get the creative juices flowing somehow.  Plus, this is a great excuse to post those vacation pictures from our recent trip to the Nation's Capital. This saves you from having to come over and sit on the couch while the slide projector whirs in the dark. You're welcome!

A little background on this trip: I've blogged before about the places I want to go on vacation, both with and without the kids. I rarely got to travel growing up, so I feel like exposing my kids to different parts of the country and things other than Texas is a key responsibility as a parent. It's a great way to spend focused time together, and it creates (hopefully) positive memories for them to carry with them into their adult lives. I'd really wanted to go camping in the Grand Canyon this summer, but I was vetoed by the three boys (!!) since two of them already had a week of camping under their belts from Scout camp. So, off to DC we went. The boys are just the right age for this kind of trip - we didn't freak out if they escaped our eyesight for a second or two in the crowded museum halls, knowing they'd find their way back to us. They were able to absorb and appreciate all that we saw, even and especially the parts that were not so much "fun" but so educational and enlightening, like the Holocaust Museum and the Gettysburg Battlefields. I think if we'd taken this trip when they were younger, we would have been very frustrated by lines and wait times and impatient kids who didn't see the point in a lot of things that happened 236 years ago. But we got it right, I think. Hearing the excitement in their voices as they described each day of the trip to their grandparents really made me glad that we were able to do this with them.

There were a couple of places where cameras were not allowed, such as the Holocaust Museum and the National Archives, so I have no photographic evidence of those. Which is fine. Some things need not be captured in a photograph to be remembered.  Hands down my single favorite part of this trip was seeing the flag from Ft. McHenry in the Smithsonian, old and scarred, under dim lights. Knowing that this worn, battered piece of fabric inspired the national anthem gave me chills, especially as a choir had just finished singing it in the rotunda of the building right outside the exhibit.
Tour guide at the Capitol asked where each family hailed, then pointed us to our state statues. One of the Texas statues is good ol' Sam Houston. Natch I had to represent.  Also, the tour guide was AMAZEBALLS! Knew the names and locations of each of the 100 state statues in the building. We know - we quizzed him! 
My husband is a nerd. It's OK, he knows it. This model in the basement of the Smithsonian Air & Space museum rocked his socks off. I had to work to convince him NOT to buy the $40 pizza cutter shaped like the Enterprise. 
Order Muppets of the highest, um, order.  Hidey-ho! Kermit the Frog here! 
Ghost tour in Alexandria did not disappoint. Lots of great tidbits about colonial life, historical anecdotes and a good wholesome dose of spooooky! 
The Air & Space exhibit at Dulles was worth the extra drive out of  the city. The recently grounded Discovery was on display and if you aren't impressed by seeing this up close, then, well, phooey for you. 

I have to add two bonus pics to this entry. The first one I want to share because it will forever and always be the image I have in my mind when I think of this trip. Our friend Christy took us on her night-time tour of the monuments and we ended up at the Lincoln Memorial. This shot was an afterthought, just something I barely framed before I hit the shutter. But, when I was uploading photos later, I thought, yep, that's it. This is why I wanted to do this trip. 

And this one?  Well, the Marine Corps Marathon was my second marathon and probably still my favorite. I had to drag the kids and hubby here for a couple of reasons on this trip. And, standing here in the bright sunshine at around 11:30 on a Sunday morning, with a sweeping view of the city in front of me, I realized that I want to come back and experience it again, as I did the first time. I want to get to it at the finish line of a marathon. I have a lot of work to do between now and October 2013.