{Goodbye School Year}

Goodbye school year. Hello summer.

The end of a school year is filled with so many emotions. The last few summers have really stopped me in my tracks and made me think about how quickly the years pass. I find myself reflecting on my teaching of course, but on everything else too.

My kids have grown so much. Moved on to new milestones and phases. Their baby faces growing more big kid each month. I feel so sad for moments to be done already, but so hopeful for the years to come. I always am reminded I only have 18 summers that they are mine. I need to make the most of them. Memorable. Quality. Present. Filled with love. Connections. Sticky fingers. Ice cream. Sandy feet. Lake water. Summer strolls. Swimsuits. New adventures.

The end of the school year challenges me to think about if I’m living my life in the way that makes me happy and fulfilled. If I’m being honest, I’m not. I’ve got some things to work on. How can I make mornings less rushed? Playtime more connected and make the most of family time during the school year? How can we make more moments to connect as a family and not just follow the routine of what has to be done? How do I fill up their cups and still meet the demands of life? How do I fill up my own cup?

The end of the school year is a chance to try new things. Slow down some. I look forward to new adventures, travels and places this summer.

The end of a school year is also a chance to see how far we’ve come. How much we’ve grown, and how much life can throw the unexpected our way, but that despite the challenges you somehow end up ok. A new normal takes over.

And grown we have. A year ago we had just received a preliminary food allergy diagnosis for my daughter and we were waiting to see our new allergist. A week later our lives changed forever. No grains or bananas of any kind for our daughter until at the earliest she’s 2-3 years old. Worse case scenario-ever. It didn’t seem so horrible at first until you start reading food labels. Corn is in everything.

This end of school year I celebrate how far we’ve come. What once seemed so overwhelming, challenging and impossible has become our norm. Our sweet Aria girl is growing and thriving without an entire food group. As a family we’ve learned so much and changed so much too. You can’t unlearn and unread what you’ve seen. It has changed us for the better and made us stronger. I know that whatever challenges we are given we can overcome them.

We’ve learned how to meal prep like a boss. We know that wherever we go that might occur over meal time or where food is offered we must bring our own. We know that when we go to restaurants, we must still bring our daughter’s food. We know every eating surface must be washed before she sits to eat. We know to watch other toddler’s hands for snacks she can’t have. Our love for Starbucks is just so big because mama loves coffee, but also because they actually have snack foods our daughter can eat.

This school year I cut, prepared, packed, dated, labeled and carried 180some breakfasts, lunches, containers of almond milk and breast milk, and days worth of snacks every work day for her to eat each day at daycare. Every night we washed those containers and repacked them for the next day. Despite it feeling more normal it was never easy.

We are embracing the world of a young toddler who wants what others have, but doesn’t understand why she is the only one who can’t. Mama and Aria twin at eating a lot to make her feel more a part of the group. If I eat what she eats she doesn’t seem to mind so much.

We are constantly looking for grain alternatives and reading food labels in hopes we might find a new food for her to eat. We have the opposite problem of most toddler parents in that she often will only eat fruits and vegetables. She’s never had candy, juice, fast food, processed anything, or sweets other than fruit sweetened or honey sweetened on a rare occasion. Lara Bars are her treat.

She can’t eat the birthday cake at the party. She can’t have the doughnut on the family stop. She can’t have the candy when trick or treating. She can’t have the treat at daycare. She can’t enjoy the family tradition desserts on holidays. We try to find alternatives to make her feel included but its not always possible. It’s a hard lesson she just has to learn.

Her brother has learned many of the things Aria can’t have saying, “Aria can’t have that. She’s allergic.” When he’s not sure, he asks if she can have it. He’s learned to eat almond flour crackers and pancakes because they really are pretty good and we aren’t always getting two kinds of things. It’s also safer that way. He knows to pick up food she can’t have in case she might get it. As parents we are expert scanners of our surroundings at all times. Think of how often someone accidentally leaves something out unintentionally where a curious toddler is just waiting to find it.

As a family we’ve had to change how we budget. We’ve given up haircuts and colors and nights out to spend significantly more on food each month. We know it’s healthier for all of us so it’s not the sacrifice it seems. Plus many people don’t get Aria’s allergy and mistake what foods she can have so leaving her with others is still scary for us.

Having a ten month old at the end of last summer eating virtually no solids due to her previous violent reactions to food before will do that to you. Seeing your child’s growth slow on the growth charts will scare you like that. Thankfully we always had breastfeeding to carry us through until a few months ago.

This school year we’ve grown, celebrated, struggled, faced challenges and overcame. Here’s to looking ahead to the next year. Looking to the unknown. The fun filled days of sweet summer. Those slow down and smile moments with kids. Reflecting on what we have, where we are headed and how far we’ve come.

I’m ready for this summer thing!

Sarah

{State #14-Kansas} Pilgrim Pacer Marathon

IMG_4496Saturday was the Pilgrim Pacer Marathon in Shawnee, Kansas. This race report starts very similar to others. We arrived later than expected Friday night due to road construction and a later than planned departure after work. I got to bed at 2:00 a.m., but did get to sleep a fair amount en route to Kansas thanks to my amazing support network aka the husband.
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Upon arriving I was pleasently surprised by our hotel room. We always get rooms from Hotwire when staying out of town-ALWAYS. I usually love our rooms, and I love Hotwire for their great rates, reliable star ratings, and excellent customer service. Of the 26 hotels rooms, 5 car rentals, and 2 flights I’ve booked through the company I’ve only had one issue with a hotel room. They immediately refunded my purchase and helped find a new room. If there star ratings change after you’ve booked a room, then they offer you two choices- #1) Keep the room and get $25 towards a future room reservation through Hotwire or #2) Cancel your reservation with no consequences and rebook a room you want. This has only happened twice to me in the past few years.
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This weekend was no exception except we got a lot more space than I’d anticipated for $125 total (both nights).

Trying to show the arm warmers.

Trying to show the arm warmers.

After five hours of sleep, I was up and getting ready. I was hungry so I ate a granola bar I’d never eaten before (Broken Running Rule #1-Don’t eat new foods on race day). I got dressed for the warmer weather (highs in the 60’s) I was looking forward to. Because of the cool initial temps I wore Asics Arm Warmers I got for Christmas last year, but had never gotten to wear yet (Broken Running Rule #2-Don’t wear new race gear on race day). They turned out to be perfect for the change in temperatures during the race. Then I grabbed breakfast at our hotel (a bagel) and headed to the race without my water…oops (Broken Running Rule #3-Drink water/start hydrating before a race.)
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When I got to the race everything was smooth sailing. Within 15 minutes I had picked up my packet, used the bathroom, and taken my extra gear back to the car. While in line I met someone originally from Wisconsin and chatted with runners about the challenging course. Soon it was time to take off.

Times 2!  Out-back-out-back.

Times 2! Out-back-out-back.

My goal for the race was to run near 9:00 minute miles and run under four hours. The first half of the race was good. I noticed in the first miles that this course was going to be much hillier than I’d anticipated. I knew I was in for it on the last miles.

mile 1-8:49

mile 2-8:44

mile 3-8:44

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We then passed Shawnee Lake and continued on the trails. The entire race was ran on paved trails that connected Shawnee to Olathe, Kansas. The race was an out and back half marathon and an out and back x 2 marathon. I’d never ran a marathon route like this before, so I wasn’t sure what I’d think about it. I didn’t feel like water so I skipped a few water stations (Broken Running Rule #4-Drink before you feel thirsty.)
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mile 4-8:56

mile 5-8:56

mile 6-8:44
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The colors were in full blaze and the temperature was warming up. I was feeling really good at this point in the race. I reached the first turn around and had a mix of feelings-the exciting, it’s the turn around and the dreadful-I have to run back to this spot again.

mile 7-9:04

mile 8-8:31

mile 9-8:46
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It was at this point in the race that I realized just how tired my legs felt from running a PR in a half marathon six days earlier (Broken Running Rule #5-Don’t race a PR before running another much longer race days later.) My legs hadn’t been sore or tired on my mid-week runs, but I hadn’t ran far either.

mile 10-8:44

mile 11-9:02

mile 12-9:17
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The hills we ran down in the beginning were rough on the way back. I just couldn’t believe that I wasn’t done at the half marathon. I had to repeat this whole distance again! I really wanted to be done at the half marathon and actually let my mind go to that place of maybe I should short change myself and finish after 13.1 miles. Then I slapped myself mentally! You don’t drive to Kansas to quit. I must have been delirious or just a damn dummy. Ryan’s grandma, Evelyn, used to affectionately use this phrase often. You damn dummy!

mile 13-9:12

mile 14-8:32

mile 15-8:47
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Miles 13-15 offered a shift in mentality. This race was full of highs and lows. These miles were highs as fans cheered really hard for marathoners since there were not a ton of us mixed in with half marathoners. Even fewer than marathoners, I learned, were female marathoners. The encouragement of fans saying “go marathoner”, “way to go lady”, “go #236”, “your the fifth female”, and just the extra excitement they gave to marathoners helped me push passed my mental struggles. On the second out and back so many half marathoners cheered for me that I couldn’t help but smile. I really needed it at that point, too. I saw the guy I met at the bathrooms who recognized me and began yelling, “go Wisconsin”. The running community is so supportive and kind!

mile 16-9:46

mile 17-9:07

mile 18-9:29

At this point in the race I was basically running alone. My mental state began to swing low again. I was also thirsty. I passed a water stop and only had one drink. Bad idea. (Broken Running Rule #Whocankeepcount) Then my mental state went waaaaayyyyy low. I had used my mental toughness up earlier this week PR’ing at the Rails to Trails Half Marathon. Yes, I believe it is hard to run challenging races back to back. The mental energy it takes to stay focused and on pace should never be underestimated. It can be freakin’ exhausting at times. I really struggled with this as evidenced by the rest of my mile splits. I just couldn’t get my mind to go to that mental place where I push through.

mile 19-10:19

mile 20-11:15

mile 21-9:13
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At the second turn around of the full marathon I had three drinks. One gatorade, one water, and one ginger ale. I had never had ginger ale in my life (Broken Running Rule #7-Do not try new food or drinks on long runs/races), but learned I really like this stuff. I knew I was dehydrated at mile 18. I was starting to get dizzy and feel disorientated. All I could think about was being done running and guzzling a gallon of anything. It was warmer than I’d anticipated and I have only myself to blame. I did not drink enough fluids the day before or the day of. Going out Thursday night and having adult beverages until too late in the morning was not good pre-race preparation either. (Broken Running Rule #8, 9, and 10-Get a good nights sleep two nights before a race, drink extra fluids the days before, and avoid things that dehydrate you i.e. alcohol.)

mile 22-9:45

mile 23-10:15

mile 24-9:54

I knew I had to drink more fluids so at all the remaining water stops I had both a gatorade and a water. It helped and by mile 23 or 24 I started to at least think clearly again.

mile 25-10:35

mile 26-10:24

The last two miles were uphill. I hated them. I didn’t like running them one bit. I would not run them again with a fox (no matter what it says.) I would not run them in a box. I would not run them again for free socks. You get the point. This was a rough race for me and I have only myself to blame.
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Considering I broke at least ten common sense running rules prior to and during this race it is a bit of a miracle that I finished. I didn’t reach my goal, but was content with my time considering it was way hillier than I thought it would be and that my last run over 13.something miles was the Big Cottonwood Marathon in September in Utah (and we all know how in shape I wasn’t for that race.) There were also only 34 female runners who ran the marathon compared to 90 guys.

The mixed emotions at the finish.

The mixed emotions at the finish.

Nevertheless, I think the last paragraph sounds like a whole lot of excuses. It was a weird feeling at the finish line; I actually felt kind of stupid. Who did I think I was? What was I thinking breaking so many “running rules” and expecting to run decent on a challenging course. These were new and unexpected finish line emotions for me. In all honesty, I needed a challenging race like this. I needed a race like this to humble me and remind me of the beast the marathon is. You cannot outsmart the distance. I needed a little kick back to reality to remind me that you have to train, prepare, and get your body ready. No matter how many races you run, you are not too good for simple running common sense. I let myself get cocky and overly confident.
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Consider myself humbled. I’ve learned my lesson until the next time. I look forward to my winter recovery and base milage building that will help me start spring training with a strong base. I look forward to actually training for a marathon again, instead of running them underprepared. Running the Pilgrim Pacer Marathon was the perfect wake up call I needed.

The actual race was well organized, beautiful, and challenging (which they said many places on their website). The medals were huge (size of a cd) and the shirts were super cool; a big part of why I picked this as my Kansas.
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I also chose this race as my Kansas because it was close as possible to home and the time of the year worked well for my schedule. I was bummed to not get pumpkin pie or a mug like the website said, but in all honesty I didn’t really deserve those things after the performance I gave.
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Enough of my self-pity. Humbled. Lesson learned. We all need races like this every now and then. It doesn’t mean we’ve failed; we just get to come back smarter, stronger, and better ready to face future challenges.
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Pilgrim Pacer Marathon
Time: 4:06:38
Pace: 9:25
Overall: 32/120
Gender: 6/34
Age Group: 3/5
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{Dances With Dirt Half Marathon}

Warning! This race report does not have a happy ending.

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On Saturday Ryan and I were set to run the Dances With Dirt Half Marathon. The race took place in Baraboo and began at 7:00 a.m., which meant an early wake up call for us. Early as in 4:20 a.m. after going to bed at midnight. I was less than excited to run after so little sleep, but I knew once we got going it would be great.
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This would be our first real trail race. The race was extreme, meaning single track trail and roots and rocks. The first 2.5 miles were up hill all the way. I was excited for this challenging race.

Our course route was in blue.
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The horn went off and we were off. The first mile started off as expected. It went up. The path was narrow, your eyes needed to be constantly on the ground to watch out for roots, rocks, and curves. It was also pretty crowded. Passing was very difficult and at times impossible. As we neared mile two a couple people said on your left meaning they were passing. I took my eyes off the trail to move over for a split second and just as mile two alerted me on my RunKeeper app, my left foot and a root had an altercation. I knew I had sprained my ankle the moment it happened. It was a familiar feeling from a Friday night stepping off a curb in college. Lets not relive that night.

If this were a road race I could have pulled off the course and Ryan could have easily kept going. This course was different. We didn’t know exactly where the first water stop was. We thought it was likely one or two miles ahead. This means I had to walk on a single track trail with roots, rocks, and a sprained ankle for over a mile with people trying to get around us constantly. Making it worse were the million gazillion mosquitoes biting as we walked the trail.

We came upon an aid station that a local had set up. By then my ankle was bulging over my shoe. It felt just awesome! The local told us the first official aid stop was still two miles ahead and there was likely no one there. We asked where the nearest road was so we could walk to it. I would then wait for Ryan to get the car and come to pick me up. She then said that if we walked a half mile or so down another trail she had her car parked nearby and would take us back to the start. I said sure and we began our walk to her car. She was my guardian angel that day!

It was at this time that Ryan asked if he could finish the race, but I did not hear him. Since I didn’t hear him say this he took the silence as a no. We got our ride back to the start, and Ryan turned our race bibs in so the organizers knew we weren’t lost in the woods some where. We were back on the road after running only two miles and walking nearly two miles; not the 13.1 miles we thought we were coming for. It was my first DNF (did not finish) of my life. I’ve never not finished a race. Not in middle school, high school, or beyond.
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Later on the car ride home I felt terrible that I didn’t hear him. He took my no response as a no-way-in-hell are you going to finish the race. In reality I really would have liked him to finish, but I was pretty focused on getting off my foot. I said next year we’d have to be back so we could both finish. It was exciting to see Ryan’s disappointment in not getting to finish because I would feel the same way. I love that we both hate quitting things we start and not getting to finish things we worked hard for. I also think it means he likes running these things more than he lets on. He really was disappointed.
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Once we got home it was RICE time for a bit. I’m hoping this sprained ankle heals quickly. My only thoughts in the woods were how I wanted to get off my ankle and get some ice on it. Once headed home I began to think a million thoughts. How would this injury impact my PR marathon training? Will I be able to PR? How long will I have to rest from running while my ankle heals? What will I do to stay in shape while it heals? Taking off a week doesn’t affect fitness, but more than that does! What will I do? What if I can’t run in Utah in less than two months? I immediately crossed this question out of my mind. I will run Utah even if it is slower than I want and not a PR attempt as planned. Two months is plenty of time to be back on the road.
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Having never been injured I do feel lost. It is so weird to not be running-to have taken the past three mornings off and not be lacing up my shoes. I was feeling a lack in motivation about training during the summer, but was still getting in my runs. I’m going to look at this positively. Maybe the time off will have me rejuvenated and recommitted to my race goal. I think the mini-break will give me a fresh mind set and make me reappreciate my love of running. I will have to ease back into training and then really work hard during the few weeks before the taper. August’s Runner’s World has an article about Killer Weeks and the improvement runners can make by bringing two weeks of pain to their training plans and see significant gains in their training. I guess Killer Weeks are in my future. I can and I will.

Until then I’ve been catching up on episodes of Mad Men on Netflix. It is a great coping strategy!
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Tuesday afternoon update!

Tuesday afternoon update!

Dances With Dirt Half Marathon
Time: ??Runkeeper kept going until we got home!
Pace: ??
Overall: DNF
Gender: DNF
Age Group: DNF
Safe running!