Sunday, January 31, 2016

Christmas Eve and Morning

Our Christmas started the night before with our traditional Christmas jammie exchange. Since Mom and Dad really didn't need new pajamas, Dad's gift was a pair of his old pjs wrapped up (but with a new University of Arkansas t-shirt, to remember Arkansas by when we left) and Mom got a little-bit-frumpy-but-super-fuzzy robe that is totally amazing.

Christmas morning started bright and early. I couldn't convince the kids to sleep in so I could have better lighting for my pictures. I guess that excuse only works once.

The older kids dove into their stockings while we waited for Sawyer to wake up. Go figure this was the one morning he actually slept in! He'd been sick that week and had had a long night, so we didn't want to wake him up any sooner than he was ready to.

Logan was super excited to find Jurassic World in his stocking, and Jeff was excited to finally have a child old enough to enjoy the same movies he does.

Logan, Savannah and Izzy each got a remote control car. We had a blast playing with them while we waited for Sawyer. They were surprisingly durable and could drive right over each other!

Still waiting. Logan dove right into his Minecraft magazine...

...while Savannah tested out her jumbo pen.


Sawyer scored the big gift this year-- a ride on ATV! Too bad it was missing a piece and he didn't get to actually use it until a week after Christmas. It made a nice seat in the meantime, and he opened almost all his presents sitting on it. Logan was tasked with filming our morning and putting it together in a montage. It's nice to have electronically savvy kids!

This picture is before the real mess started, but it captures the chaotic joy that is everything Christmas morning should be. Spoiling kids is fun. :)

It was a wonderful Christmas and the perfect way to celebrate our last days in Arkansas. A few days later we took all the decorations down and started packing in earnest. But for this one day, everything was perfect.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Christmas Week - Gingerbread Houses

In early December, I bought a few gingerbread house kits from the store. I didn't have very high expectations for them, but figured at some point I'd want to hit the easy button on holiday entertainment and these would hit the spot. Christmas Eve seemed like the right time to pull them out.

As it turns out, I was impressed with the quality of the kits. The frosting was stiff, the candy decorations colorful and assorted, and, as the kids quickly discovered, the taste wasn't bad, either! Here Isabelle is taste testing the frosting. Every 10 seconds.

Logan and Savannah shared the house, while Izzy and Sawyer decorated the train. Logan lost interest after about 10 minutes, but Savannah dedicated herself to her cottage until every inch was decorated. she even made super cute snowmen out of peppermint balls that I failed to get a good picture of.

Sawyer was a good helper, too. He found that if he put the candy in his mouth first, then on the train, it stuck better. At least, I think that was his strategy.

I almost edited out Isabelle's milk mustache, but decided not to. She has that mustache nearly half of her life. My kids love their milk!

Finished! Merry Christmas Eve!

Christmas Week - Downtown Square

By Wednesday, we needed some new ideas as the natives were all getting very restless waiting for Santa. The weather that week was gorgeous, with highs in the 60's. We decided to head downtown for some fun on the square. We had meant to head straight to the museum, but the weather was so nice that we played outside for a good half hour first.

This may look like some sort of cult ritual, but they were actually protecting a trinket from the evil Logan.

Of course we had to play on the cute vintage toys outside the five and dime...

... and check out the miniature Christmas village inside. Gotta love the irony of the "Please do not touch" sign right in front of Sawyer's nose as he climbs under the caution tape and grabs the display.

This was a better vantage and provided more protection for the villagers.

After the museum, we ducked into the brand new downtown Neighborhood Market to pick up some pampering toiletries to contribute to Meg's last minute Christmas service idea. Our contributions were added to others and used to stuff some gently used stockings full of goodies and necessities for a women and children's shelter. It was just what we needed to remind us to think outside of ourselves in the final hours before Christmas.

Christmas Week - High Rise

The Monday before Christmas finally arrived. The kids were out of school, and we had no agenda other than to play and relax and sleep in as late as the kids would let us. But by mid-Monday morning, I realized we needed some planning to help us to pass the five painful days until Christmas! We started by taking advantage of family night at High Rise. The $35 family pass was a steal compared to their normal prices, which I could never bring myself to pay. That is why this was the first time we had checked it out since they opened about 18 months ago. Having the other Pendletons there made it even more fun. Everyone and every age loved it! Our only regret was not arriving early to allow for time to check in. Our hour session was cut short by about 15 minutes of line time. Not cool.

Savannah rocked this ribbon swing. Future circus career?

Isabelle took her normal cautious approach to all things adventurous. Her jumps were small, but her smiles were big.

Sawyer had a blast! He is about the age Isabelle was when we first got our backyard trampoline. At the time, none of our kids had the coordination to jump on it. I didn't even realize that was a learned skill until I saw them try! But Sawyer has been jumping since he could walk and is a pro on the trampoline. He and Jack especially loved this inclined mat that doubled as an awesome slide.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Run (26 miles) for the Ranch

In December I ran a marathon. I could leave it at that, and pretend like it was no big deal, just another race, just another day. But that would be 100% untrue.

To adequately express all the emotions tied up in this race, I have to go back several years to when I ran my first half-marathon in 2011. At that time, I remember thinking that a marathon was a crazy goal and I had no desire to ever run one. But in 2012 we moved to Oklahoma, and I started running with my (then) new friend, Allie. During one of our runs, Allie told me about her experience running the New York City Marathon, and later I watched a documentary about it. That was all it took. I was hooked, and I would not rest until I had run a marathon.

Over the next year, I started and stopped training twice. The first time I ran into knee issues. I have had problems with my knees ever since I started running, but this was the first time it knocked me out of the running (literally). I never made it past 14 miles that first time. I took a little sabbatical and determined to try again in a few months. That winter, I picked a spring marathon and started training again. This time I made it to 16 miles. Knees got in the way again, along with hips, and a little tadpole we now call Sawyer that was quickly taking over my body.

Over the next 2 years, I would start and stop running several times as I struggled with hips, knees, hip flexors, and neuromas. I saw chiropractors and podiatrists, and found some relief, but never a long term solution. Finally, after foot surgery and a long break, Allie challenged me to train for a half marathon with her. We each were overcoming injuries, but determined that if we could make it to 7 miles by the end of August and still felt good, we would run the race together in October.

Well, long story short, we made it! I actually felt great while training for that race, and my time improved drastically over a few months. After running it, I made a decision. I was going to keep going. I only needed two-ish more months to be ready for a marathon. It was now or never.

At first the training was going well. I was setting great times and felt like I could fly. I even had a glimmer of hope that I might be able to qualify for Boston. I pushed myself to go faster and faster. My runs got longer and faster, until I hit that dreaded 16 mile training run. That's when things started to go downhill. Knees and hips strike again! Grr... stupid joints. I was hitting walls around the 10 mile mark, which when you have to run 18 or 20 miles, is a long time to have to keep going past a wall. I found myself having to stop and take breaks, or walk portions of my runs, which was a huge hit to my pride. My pace was slowing quickly and my body was taking a toll. I began to wonder if I was going to have to drop out of yet another marathon.

But pure stubbornness kicked in. I refused to be beaten again, and decided I would finish this race if I had to walk it! I kept training, and magically felt pretty good by my last training run! My times were still slow, and the Boston goal had flown out the window, but at least the end was in sight and I knew I could do it. I totally lucked out with a gorgeous fall and winter. I rarely had to run in the cold or rain, and the day of the race was gorgeous. December 19 dawned beautifully with highs in the mid 50's and not a cloud in the sky.

I chose this race because (a) it was relatively close (2 hours away), (b) it was on a Saturday, (c) it was a Boston qualifier (so embarrassing to admit that was actually a goal), and (d) the timing was right. The only problem was that it was a looped course. So instead of running 26.2 unique miles, I ran the same 3.6 miles EIGHT times. Let me tell you, by the fifth and sixth lap, I would have given anything for a change of scenery! This is the starting line that I crossed every time I started a new lap. The finish line veered off in a slightly different direction, and I would look at it longingly every time I came around that corner.

The race started great, and my first several miles felt fabulous. I decided my new goal was to run a 4 hour marathon, and hopefully place in my age group since it was a small race. At the half way point, I was ahead of schedule and things were looking good. Just as in my training, though, I started to break down on the back end. By mile 19, I felt like it was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other... and I still had two 3.6 mile laps to go! By that time, I knew I was probably out of range for the 4:00 mark. I downed one last fuel gel to try and get a second wind, but I had given all I had to give at that point and had nothing left to draw from. I finally made it to the finish line at 4:06:47. My kids joined me for the last 100 yards, and although I knew it was a terrible idea, I collapsed on the grass as soon as I made it across. One by one I had fallen short of all my goals. I hadn't qualified for Boston. Not even close. I hadn't finished in less than 4 hours. And I hadn't placed in my age group.

But none of that mattered, because I had finished! I had run an entire marathon! When all is said and done, I know that I gave it my very best effort, and at 31 years old after giving birth to four children, I am dang proud of that! And despite feeling like I'd been hit by a bus, all my joints were relatively pain free at the end of the race, which was a huge blessing. Sometimes I feel like I've hit a plateau in my life. The first 25 years of my life were full of learning and growth, but the last 5 or 6 years I don't know that I've done or achieved much outside of daily home and family maintenance. I don't mean to imply that rearing a family isn't challenging, rewarding, and full of opportunities for learning--it is absolutely all those things and more--but it was really good for me to set a goal that was all my own and accomplish it. To prove that I still can do hard things.

Just in case I ever decide to run another marathon (ha! that's funny), here are my results for comparison purposes.

Mile Times
Mile 1  8:36
Mile 2  8:47
Mile 3  8:29
Mile 4  8:29
Mile 5  8:38
Mile 6  8:45
Mile 7  8:49
Mile 8  8:45
Mile 9  8:46
Mile 10  8:43
Mile 11  8:48
Mile 12  8:57
Mile 13  9:12
Mile 14  9:09
Mile 15  9:15
Mile 16  9:21
Mile 17  9:31
Mile 18  9:55
Mile 19  9:59
Mile 20  9:58
Mile 21 10:10
Mile 22  10:19
Mile 23  10:48
Mile 24  10:03
Mile 25  10:09
Mile 26  10:22

Friday, January 1, 2016

Race Log

8/20/11 - Hobble Creek Half Marathon

Where: Springville, Utah
Time: 1:55:41
Pace: 8:49/mile
Age Division (25-29): 32/76
Overall: 461/1074

11/19/11 - Mesquite TriStates Half Marathon
Where: Mesquite, NV
Time: 2:50:00
Pace: 12:58/mile
Age Division (25-29): 11/11
Overall: 120/143

Where: Coronado, CA
Time: 1:14:54
Pace: 8:02/mile
Where: Bentonville, AR
Time: 2:05:38
Pace: 9:35/mile
Age Division (25-29): 33/108
Overall: 629/1469

4/27/13 - Tatur Little Doubler Half Marathon
Where: Oklahoma City, OK
Time: 1:58:22
Pace: 9:02/mile
Age Division (25-29): 2/9
Overall: 19/66

4/5/14 - Bentonville Running Festival Half Marathon
Where: Bentonville, AR
Time: 1:53:36
Pace: 8:40/mile
Age Division (30-34): 18/156
Overall: 378/1603

Where: Allen, TX
Time: 2:05:40
Pace: 9:35/mile
Age Division (30-34): 12/52
Overall: 211/622

Where: Springfield, MO
Time: 4:06:47
Pace: 9:25/mile
Age Division (30-34): 5/12
Overall: 41/107

5/7/16 - Provo City Half Marathon
Where: Provo, UT
Time: 1:44:43
Pace: 8:00/mile
Age Division (30-34): 14/88
Overall: 136/623

7/4/16 - Freedom Run 5k
Where: Provo, UT
Time: 24:05.0
Pace: 7:46/mile
Age Division (30-34): 7/153
Overall: 241/2557

7/25/16 - Speedy Spaniard 10k
Where: Spanish Fork, UT
Time: 50:01.8
Pace: 8:00/mile
Age Division (30-34): 8/35
Overall: 28/200 (women only)