Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Half-Marathon + Mrs. Karen update

When we woke up on race day, we prepped by drinking a protein/nutrition packed smoothie.  It was COLD and dark driving over to the race site.  At this point, I was starting to get nervous about all the little unknowns like having time to go to the restroom before the race, if I'd worn the right number of layers, and what pace I really wanted to commit to.

We had just enough time before the race for restroom breaks, a quick warm-up and a chat with a few friends that were also running.  It wasn't too long of standing around in the frigid temperatures, but I also didn't feel rushed and panicked about how much time we had.  It ended up being just right.

Finally the gun went off and we were off.  I warmed up and was able to toss my old sweatshirt by then end of the second mile.  It felt good to be rid of it, but I sure appreciated it that first bit.  I had trouble keeping control of my pace in the first miles...such a newbie problem.  You know the race is exciting and that lots of people run too fast at the beginning...even knowing that it was hard to keep my pace under control with people flying past me!  

I ran well under 9 minute miles and felt good until we hit major hills at mile 7.  I was able to maintain pace and fought the mental fatigue, keeping my miles under nine minutes or just over through miles 8, 9, and 10.  The last seven miles were all hilly, but the tenth took a lot of wind out of my sails.  My eleventh and twelfth mile were over 9 minutes and I was starting to really have to fight to maintain pace, keep form, and shut out negative talk in my head.  It helped me so much that there ended up being exactly 13 men and women that you all donated in honor or memory of.  I wrote the names on my forearm and spent each mile praying for or remembering that person.  In fact, I got to run with an old friend whose mother had donated in honor of his grandfather.  We ran together during the mile that was in honor of his granddad...how fun is that?

Mrs. Karen was my 13th mile, and it was by far the hardest of them all.  I was struggling to keep pace when I started to feel dizzy and saw spots in the corners of my eyes.  I had to slow way down to keep from passing out, and my feet felt like lead.  I slowed down to over an 11 minute pace and really started getting discouraged that I was not going to have a strong finish or be able to reach my goal of running the race under two hours.  In my discouragement though, I kept praying, as I always have on these long runs, for the woman I am running to honor.  As I pushed through that difficult, discouraging mile, my own discomfort paled compared to the thought of what Mrs. Karen is pushing through every day.  The mental and physical fatigue she fights daily is so much more than the last mile of a half marathon.

I didn't finish under two hours.  There were 3 minutes and 30 seconds between what I hoped for and what I walked away with.  The race was harder than I thought it would be.  But I finished.  And thanks to you, the American Cancer Society has $500 dollars to research for cures, fight against cancer, and serve fighters and survivors.  And really?  I did have fun.  I'd love to run another someday...but maybe with less hills!

Mrs. Karen sent me the necklace below that I have barely taken off since the race.  The pearl signifies the white/pearl ribbon for lung cancer.  It is a treasure to me, and the medal I am proud to wear.

I am also super grateful for my friend from Clemson, Christina, who traveled down from Charlotte to run this half marathon with me.  She is training for her first marathon and this half represented her FIFTH 13.1 race!  She helped calm my nerves with all her running knowledge, and it was so fun to get to spend time with her doing something we both love.

And a huge thanks to my dear husband...who doesn't even really like running.  Not only did he run the half marathon, but he also spent hours watching our boys while I was on long runs, listened to me talk nonstop about running, and supported me with a full heart and lots of real effort.  I am grateful that he cares about the things that mean a lot to me and is willing to "go the extra mile" for me.

The race was a lot harder than I imagined and I didn't finish the way I hoped.  But I am grateful for the prayers that you each prayed for my dear friend and for the money raised for the American Cancer Society.

And now, for a small update.  Mrs. Karen had a PET scan yesterday and, much like that last mile in my race, it was not what she hoped for or expected.  The doctor found a spot in her left lung that is malignant and active.  The good news is that cancer was found nowhere else in her body and the original tumor was dead.  She will soon begin a new kind of chemo that she will get once a week for three weeks.  She will then have a week off before she begins the cycle again.

It was not the news anyone wanted to hear.  It's the news that is much harder than the last mile of a race or a disappointing time.


I know that God is a healer.

I know that Mrs. Karen is one of the bravest, toughest, most graceful fighters I have ever met.

If there is anyone who can hold her own on the toughest mile of the course, it is Mrs. Karen.  So, I ask you again.  Would you please line the sidewalks of this long hill and cheer?  Would you crank up the music on this difficult stretch of the race and give her feet reason to run?  Would you hold up signs of truth and lend her strength when the race seems too difficult and too long?

Would you please pray for a peace that supposes our understanding of this disease, physical strength to fight, and emotional stability and truth when dark clouds linger?

If you would like to follow Mrs. Karen's story, she has a Caring Bridge account that she updates regularly.  As with all Caring Bridge sites, you must create an account to read the updates, but it is just a simple username and password.  Thank you, so much for all of your support, interest and care in this journey to run a race in honor of this lady who is a true fighter, finisher and survivor.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Letters to Samuel

Dear Samuel,

Your hair is so long, even after a few trims, that it brushes your big, big eyes.  Your little blue-jeaned legs are so much longer than the little pudgy ones that poked out of your shorts just a few weeks ago.  Your nights are sleeping are blissfully long, and I am catching up for the first time in years.  Your laughter is long and loud...all the time.

Everything about you is transforming from baby to toddler with every little step you take.  You can slide by yourself these days, and you take every risk available to you on the playground.  You say "hi" to everyone who passes you and make anyone who glances your way smile.  You are so patient with your brother who is often too rough with you, and you drive him crazy by wanting to monopolize one bridge on the tracks that he needs to pass on his rounds.

You love spaghetti and grapes the very most right now.  You ask for cookies allllllll the time, but you'll settle for any sweet treat.  You love peaches and apples and especially applesauce from a squeezie pack.  Your favorite food is still rice and beans with avocado, tomato and corn, and you can eat so much of it that we aren't surprised by the billions of diapers you manage to create by the hour.

You are already starting to insert the correct letters into the spaces we leave when we sing the ABC's to you, and you love to fill in words to other favorite songs.  You are eager to learn and experiment and are okay with trying even when you can't get something right.  

You love to talk on the phone, and you always think Andi is on the other line.  When you see Andi, Boo or Daddy coming toward you, you run at full speed until you launch into their arms.  You love to throw balls, scream at the top of your lungs, and watch Carter like a hawk.  You love to check the mail, jump on your bed, and play with trains.  You love dancing, splashing in the tub, and crawling all over Carter and me when we read books together.  Your back molars are coming in, but it doesn't seem to bother you in the least. 

Your favorite person in this world is Carter.  He's the first person you ask about every morning, and the last thing you say before bed.  You follow him around during the day, and you love to play with anything he is using.  You still call "Car-car!" all around the house until you can find him, and you're willing to join into anything he starts.  You love to hold his hand in the parking lots and won't move if he lets go.  You're a good match for him, and he thinks you're so much fun to play with.

You still lay your head on my shoulder when I hold you, and you still love to cuddle and nurse before bed.  You love to run free, but you still love to come check back with me every few minutes.  You are getting long, but you still fit perfectly in my lap and on my hip.

You're a toddler, but always my baby.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Skytop

Our weekend plans kept shifting.  Everything rescheduled because of illness and weather.  Then all that would change and they would be moved around again.  On Saturday morning, we all woke up and decided it would be a good day to go to the mountains, just the four of us.

The boys are at an age now where this is an easy move.  They are more flexible these days, and I know better what to bring along and what can stay at home.  We're finding a rhythm.  

We stopped at Skytop Apple Orchard first.  I've been coming here since I was little, though there is far more to do these days than when I first came twenty years ago.  We took a hay ride with no hay.  I understand the allergy concern (Steven would have not been able to ride) but the jolts and bounces left me wishing for a little cushion!  The boys loved looking at everything we passed though, making those $2 tickets worth it.

I cannot even handle this face.

After Skytop, we drove over to Jones Gap State Park for lunch and exploring.  This has always been one of my very favorite spots.  It's a little quieter than the bigger parks and has the most beautiful, rocky river to hike alongside.

We investigated some rocks and ran alongside the trail for a few dozen feet before Carter fell all over his feet TWICE and we decided we were safer just to play.

Much more their hiking speed :)

They love to "crawl chase" each other.  It started when Samuel learned to crawl and we cheered every time he tried.  Carter wanted applause too (imagine that), so he crawled and we cheered.  They learned then that it was fun to play chase at that level.  Samuel can walk now, but his run is still pretty slow so they still "crawl chase."  

Hands down, new favorite picture.  They ran on this bridge for a half hour.

"Andi and Boo's park" has a bridge over a creek.  Mama and Daddy always let them throw rocks off the bridge into the water.  Here they found a gazillion rocks to pummel into the stream.  They did this for almost an hour before we made them leave because Samuel was so tired.  

Carter's rocks kept getting bigger and bigger and he would say, "Hey Daddy!  Look at this one!"  Every time.

Trying to hold hands on the way home...

In my standards...it was kind of a perfect day.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

He busted his lip wrestling in bed with Carter.  Neither cried and both were having fun. I made it worse by too vigorously wiping his face after snack.  We don't have a "gentle" cycle around here.

His hair looks like a scarecrow top in this picture...and perhaps most of the time.  I don't know how to cut it and I don't want him to look any older, so I keep it this way, just trimming it out of his eyes and above his ears.

This guy...lights up our lives.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Cora Jane

Meet my very first niece, born to my brother and his wife on September 19th at 9:10 am and weighing in at 8 lbs, 7 oz.

She's sort of perfect...and I love her ohhhh so much!