Thursday, March 12, 2015

Eight.

My sweet Ellie.  Today, you are eight.

I'm not sure how this happened because it seems like such a short time ago, you were a cross-eyed teeny tiny bundle of flailing arms and legs.

2 weeks
3 weeks

You've always had such a fun personality...

10 months
4 years
 ...great fashion sense....

2 years
6 years







...and such a loving way about you.

5 years
Eight years ago, you made me a mom and I have very much enjoyed our adventures over the years...

3 years

7 years
...and can't wait to see what new adventures EIGHT brings.



Happy birthday, Ellie-Bean.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The 50K That Wasn't


I'd been looking forward to and dreading the Green Jewel 50K for months.

Looking forward to because it was sure to be a grand adventure.

Dreading because, well, it's a shit ton of miles to run.

So excited!
There were a bunch of us from Columbus heading up to Cleveland for the weekend.  We stayed in a hotel on Friday and were up bright and early on Saturday to run 31-point-something miles.

We had read reports about icy conditions on the bike path, where most of the running would take place, but we weren't too worried. We'd been running on ice for the past 2 months.

No biggie.

We had no idea.

The condition of the bike path was worse than anything we've ever run on.

The path had been plowed and the snow was built up on both sides of the path. With the warmish temps in the past week, some of the snow melted and the water puddled on the path. Then it froze again.

Ice.
Photo borrowed from a friend with permission.
We were running on an ice skating rink. And it lasted for 15 miles.  Never more than half of a mile of dry pavement between sheets of ice that lasted up to two tenths of a mile. There were a lot of falls. I was one of them.  Just before mile 10, I went down, not gracefully, right on my bum. I assessed the situation. My tail bone was fine, I got up and kept going.

Less than a mile later, I slipped again. it was like a cartoon. My foot slipped out from under me and flew up in front of me. I caught myself with my other leg before I fell. I felt my IT band and hip flexor strain when I did.

It was ok for a bit, but "running" on the ice was more like cross country skiing.  If we picked up our feet, they would slide out from under us, so we slid like skiers...and that aggravated my hip flexor even more. Once we passed the aid station at 15ish miles, I had a lot of pain trying to run.  It hurt my hip to swing my leg forward and I was hoping that if I could just keep running, it would loosen up but there was so much ice, we couldn't ever settle into a running groove.

Hip flexors are fussy little bastards.  I had a hip flexor injury a few years ago.  I ran a marathon on a strained hip flexor and then I couldn't walk without a limp for 8 weeks after.  I couldn't run for 12 weeks.  I missed out on a lot of running and a lot of races that year and I learned that one race is never worth throwing away all others.

I have a whole year of fun planned this year and I'd like to think that I'm a bit wiser now than I was a few years ago.

At this point, I'd been in pain for the past 6 miles and still had 14 to go.  This is when I told my friends, whom I'd been slipping and sliding around running with, that I would not be finishing.

Don't get me wrong, it didn't go down as calmly as I'm making it sound.  There was swearing.  There was crying.  There was a tantrum.  There was a call to my husband followed by more crying.

We had a couple of friends who drove up to cheer for us driving to all the aid stations to scream their heads off cheering for us.  At mile 16, I saw their van come around the bend in the road.  I flagged them down and climbed in.

That was the end of my 50K.

I spent the rest of the day and the next day crying (and self-medicating with vodka).  To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.  I busted my ass training for this; snow, ice, sub-zero temps, three layers of clothing for one run...this winter has been brutal.

But....shit happens.

A few days later, I'm feeling better.  My hip is feeling ok, thank goodness, and I'm more emotionally stable.  I know I made the right decision.  There's no way I would have made it through the next 14 miles of that race.  Had I tried, I'd have wound up with a more severe injury and still would have ended up with a DNF (did not finish).

The smart decisions are always the hardest.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Pretty as a Picture

A friend whom I met through my local chapter of Moms RUN This town, Jessica, is a photographer in the Columbus area.  A few weeks ago, she asked if she could borrow my youngest daughter, Aleena, for a photo shoot.

Jessica wanted to try out a snow angel idea with a little girl and my sweet Aleena looks pretty angelic.  Jessica has three sons, so should couldn't exactly do snow angel pictures with them.  Sure, I said, Aleena loves having her pictures taken and, seriously, she would make a sweet, sweet angel.

Aleena and I met Jessica at a local metropark at 5pm so she could capture my little angel in the sunset light.  I was a little concerned about how little time we'd have with the light, but I should never have doubted Jessica.  Our appointment lasted about 15 minutes.

The pictures are amazing.







If you're in the Columbus area, I highly recommend Jessica Kranz Photography for any of your photography needs.  She is efficient, had a great eye and you will have amazing photos.

Jessica offered me pictures of Aleena in exchange for being able to use said pictures for advertisements.  Jessica did not ask me to blog about her business, I offered after I saw the pictures.  All opinions are my own.

Follow Jessica:

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Time to Rock the Taper and a Giveaway

Whew!  The past couple of months have been busy, busy, busy!

Right after recovering from the St. Jude Marathon, I started training for the Green Jewel 50K.

I've been focusing on decluttering my house during my spare time, so when I'm not mothering or wife-ing or running or eating, I'm decluttering.  I've lovingly named my efforts Operation Get Rid of Shit.  It's going well...ish.  Two steps forward and one step back, but I'm making headway.  The crap in my house is a collection 12 years in the making.  It's not going to go away in a short amount of time.

Life has been pretty exhausting and I'm thrilled to say that we've reached taper!  I keep telling Randy that this will be my one and only 50K.  He doesn't believe me because I said the same thing about the marathon.  Yes, but I mean it this time!

Here are some of the fun times I've had while running in some the most miserable weather I've ever had to train in:

Ninjas.

Hill repeats in the snow.  At 4:30am.

5 miles in "feels like" -22 degrees.

One run in "feels like" -22 degrees creates an entire load of laundry.


15 freaking miles on a treadmill because it was too cold to run outside for that long.
Even with the less-than-ideal weather, we're still smiling, for the most part.

With all of this running, I needed to put in another order of Island Boost.  Having run over 350 miles since St. Jude in December and needing to fuel every 5 miles or so on my long runs, I've consumed a lot of Island Boost.  When I ordered, Laura, the founder of Island Boost, sent me extras and I'm passing them on to you!

Three winners will receive a six pack of Island Boost, two of each flavor: Blueberry Pomegranate, Passion and (my fave) Chocolate.

Island Boost 6 Pack
Which flavor are you most excited to try?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, January 8, 2015

I Was Robbed

I'm not a suspicious person.  I never have been.  I don't try to find the evil in others.  It's just not how I'm wired.

At least I wasn't.  Until December 10, 2014.

I debated whether or not I should write about this.  Only a handful of people have heard most of the details and even fewer have heard my darkest thoughts about it.

Let's start from the beginning.

On Wednesday, December 10, 2014, I had plans to meet a friend for a short bike ride.  We met at a local park with access to the bike path.  I was coming from work, so I had several bags in the back of my car with clothes in it.  My purse was hidden in one of the bags before I left work and was never taken out after arriving at the park.

I was a little early, so I got my bike ready then sat in my car to wait.

When my friend arrived, I got out to put my bike shoes on.  During this time, an older style minivan pulled into the parking lot and backed into the parking space behind mine.  There were two people in the van and they didn't get out.  I thought nothing of this, after all, just a few minutes ago, I was sitting in the car, too.  They must be waiting for someone, I assumed.

My friend and I rode for 30 minutes.  When we returned, I was greeted with this.


And the van, that had just parked behind me 30 minutes before, was gone.

I knew at that moment that the people in the van were responsible.  They were waiting for someone, alright.  For me.  To leave.

They were watching me.

It still gives me the creeps.

I was in shock and don't remember a whole lot of details from this part of the day, but I do know that I called to make a police report and I remember asking my friend to look in my car to see if my shoes were still there (they were) and if I still had two car seats (I did).

My purse was the only thing missing.

I asked my friend to call my husband, who was in California for work, to let him know that he can't use any of our credit cards, but Randy was in a meeting and didn't answer.  My friend left him a message.

Before we left the park, my friend and I looked in all of the garbage cans in the parking lot just in case the people (I've had many names for the people in the past several weeks, but I'll leave them to your imagination) took the cash and dumped the rest.  No luck.

I talked to Randy on my way home from the park as I wracked my brain to think of all the contents in my purse.  Cash and credit cards were a given.  My ID.  My coupons (grr).

My house keys.

Shit.

I pulled into my driveway and was afraid to go into the house.  The people had my ID and my keys.  God knows what they would do with them.  Logic told me that they only wanted the money.  They waited for me to leave the parking lot, they wanted nothing to do with me or my house, but I was terrified.

Instead of going in the house, I walked up to the front window and tapped on the glass.  Immediately, my 85 pound dog jumped up in the window barking his head off and flashing his teeth at me.  The other two dogs joined him in the window seconds later.

The dogs were fine.

It was safe to assume that the people weren't in my house waiting for me.

I went into the house, calmed the dogs with treats (Good dogs!  Tear unwelcome visitors to shreds!) and started making phone calls.  I had two debit cards and two credit cards.  All were used.  Well, one of the debit cards was used to attempt to get money out of an ATM.  Seven times.  Unsuccessfully.  That particular card couldn't be used for purchases after that, thank goodness.

Back to the ATM attempts.  This is the one ray of sunshine in my miserable day.  I have a small piece of paper in my wallet with lots of numbers written on it.  There is no explanation of what the numbers are and they're all encrypted with extra numbers at the beginning and end and only I know how many extra numbers there are and what the numbers mean.  The people assumed they were ATM pin numbers and tried to use them.  HA!

Score one for the good guys!

Once all of my cards were cancelled, I needed a locksmith.  The people had my keys and there was no way in hell my children and I were sleeping in my house without having the locks changed.

Luckily, I had some cash in my house and could pay the locksmith.

Local friends, in case you ever need one, Columbus Locksmith was great. (614) 236-5397

The next day, Thursday, I needed to get a new driver's license.  I had enough cash leftover to get my license, but would need more money to pay to have my window fixed and buy a few groceries.  Several friends offered me cash to borrow, but I was getting a new ID so I could go to the bank.  No problem!  Right?

Wrong.  The man at the bank gave me a hard time because my ID was printed that day and I had no credit cards in my wallet with my name on it.  Are you kidding me?  I want two hundred bucks.  I'm not clearing out the account.  So there I was, crying at the bank because I was told I couldn't have access to my own money.  Eventually I did get some money but not before he made me sign my name three times because my signature didn't match the one they have on file.  From 12 years ago.

I left the bank and went home feeling completely defeated.  It wasn't enough that I had to deal with all of this.  Alone.  Because my husband was on the other side of the country (with no credit cards).  My baby's car seat was full of glass and the bank made me feel like a criminal.  I very much wanted to lay on the couch with the dogs and have (another) good cry but something was nagging at me to call the location of the ATM that the people tried to use.  It was in a CVS nearby.  I called, hoping there was a surveillance camera on the ATM, but knowing in my heart that there wasn't.  That's why the people used it.

I talked to the store manager.  No, there is no camera on the ATM.  She asked me when the transactions took place and I told her around 1:15pm the day before.

She remembered the people.

They may not have been on camera using the ATM, but they were on camera making purchases with my other credit cards.

Even better: one of the employees was suspicious of them and wrote down their license plate number.  They were, indeed, the same people in the van I saw at the park.  I took down the information, added the license place number to my police report, had my window replaced and started to get back to my normal life.

Honestly, I didn't expect anything to come of this.  Columbus Police are busy with real life or death stuff.  No one was hurt during this robbery and I assumed that it was on the very bottom of someone's to-do list.  Small potatoes, compared to other crimes going on in the world.  So I shared the information I had on Facebook to warn my other runner-friends who frequent our metro parks to keep a look out for the vehicle and license plate number in case the people try again.

Imagine my delight on December 22 when I received a phone call from a Columbus Police detective who told me that the people had been arrested.  The people were linked to fifteen other car break-ins and I was the only one who included a license plate number in the police report.  They used the license plate to track the people down to arrest them. 

The detective was impressed when I told him that it was the CVS employee who got the plate number.  The CVS employee wrote down the plate number knowing the people were up to no good, but didn't know what to do with the information...until I called.

People, when your gut is nagging at you to do something, even if you don't understand why or you think there's no point, do it.  Don't second guess your intuition.

I'm so thankful that there are caring people still left in the world.  I'm sure the other 15 victims are as well.

It's been almost one month since this terrible event and life has pretty much gone back to normal.  The first few times I parked my car and went for a run, I was panicked for my entire run.  Even knowing that there was nothing to steal, I still panicked just leaving my car in a parking lot.  The fear gets a little less each time.  On New Year's Day, I didn't think about my car at all until mile 8.

I'm getting there.

Stay safe, friends.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Year of Fun. Can I Have Another?

Back in January, I declared 2014 my year of fun.  After a little reflecting, I've decided that I totally nailed it.

I had fun all year.

I ran with friends.

I ran alone.
6 miles in solitude.
I pushed my limits.
Running on the East Coast.  We don't have hills like this in Columbus.
I left my comfort zone.
A week in Disney World.
I made myself proud.
St. Jude Marathon
And guess what?  I had fun doing it all.

2014 was a pretty great year.  It's going to be tough to beat.

...but I'm going to try!

After much reflecting, I've decided to keep FUN for another year.  I'm not ready to give it up yet.

Yesterday, New Year's Day, I ran 15 miles with a bunch of fantastic ladies.  We all discussed our words for the year.  Some of their words were, Bliss, Endure, Presence, Purpose, Go....all really great words, but not exactly what I was looking for.

Photos taken and collage made by Jennifer.

Fun.

It speaks to me.  It's why I run for hours and hours....if it wasn't fun, I wouldn't keep doing it.

It's how I feel when I play with my kids and when I take them to new places and when we have new experiences together.
In Boston
Yes, 2015 will be another year of FUN.

Happy New Year, friends!

What's your word for 2015?



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

St. Jude Marathon Weekend Recap


The St. Jude Marathon Weekend was a lot of things.

Amazing.  Inspiring.  Exhausting.  Painful.  Incredible.

All of these things wrapped up in one weekend package.


I've been preparing for this marathon all year.  This was the main event of my racing year.

It really was amazing. Even the sucky parts when I was cursing running and cursing my stupid idea to run another marathon and cursing the blisters and cursing all of my crazy friends who encourage me to do such stupid things....even those times were still awesome. 

This event was huge. And not meaning the number of runners (20 thousand-ish). The cause is huge. Much bigger than my stupid blisters, much bigger than my pain. And there were reminders everywhere.

Nothing compares to children with cancer and their fight. My pain running is just a tiny taste of their own life "marathon" and in comparison, my 26.2 miles is pretty insignificant. (Thanks, Jen, for these words!)

Miles 13ish.
Photo credit: Jonna Stumpo.  It was so nice to see a familiar face in the crowd.
I could tell you all about the gigantic blisters on the bottoms of my feet and I could tell you all about the 20 mile an hour gusts of wind and I could tell you every terrible detail of my mile 23 agony...but instead, I'm going to tell you about Memphis.

I'll tell you about the man who had an unofficial beer stand in front of his house...his house with every window and door open so we runners could hear the Christmas music blasting from within.  

I'll tell you about all the police officers cheering on the runners while they blocked traffic...well, most of the police officers cheered.  There was Officer McGrouchyMustache....

I'll tell you about the backed up traffic.  Holy moly the roads were at a stand-still.  Instead of being cranky at the marathon road closures, most people had their cars in park and were honking and hanging out the windows to high-five the runners.

St. Jude has Memphis by the heartstrings.  Some of the spectators looked so out of place, yet, there they were, cheering for those running for St. Jude.  It was so cool to see the whole community come together to support this awesome cause.

I think I smiled for this whole race.  Even in my darkest times, there was something to smile about.

At mile twenty-something, I was reveling in my misery, promising myself that I was never doing this again.  I'm never running again.  I hate running.  Why do I put myself through this?

Then I saw a sign staked into the ground on the side of the road.
[diagnosis]
2.5 years of treatment.
32 surgeries.
26.2 miles?  Yes, you CAN.

Well, damn.  Now I have to quit bitching and keep running.

Mile 26 complete with Carrie on the sidelines yelling for me to GO GO GO!
Photo credit: Jonna Stumpo.
As I crossed the finish line, completely exhausted, elated and crying the ugly cry, my brain was already making my race strategy for the next marathon.

We should know by now that anything that comes out of my mouth at mile 23 isn't to be trusted.  There will always be another marathon.  It's what I do.  It's what I love.

Carrie and I had a fabulous girls weekend in Memphis.

We even have fun walking in the pouring rain! (Friday)
She finished the half marathon in 1:37 with a shiny 4 minute PR (personal record) and 5th place in our age group!

I finished the marathon in 4:33 with a 29 minute PR and a big smile that's still planted on my face.


St. Jude raised over 7 million dollars from Marathon Weekend, which is actually down from last year.  Our fundraising will end on December 31, so if you haven't donated, and would like to:

http://heroes.stjude.org/jamiem
Click Me!

Celebrating a job well done.

 Cheers!

Special Thanks
~to Randy.  For being my biggest cheerleader, supporting my dreams and keeping our children and pooches alive in my absence.
~to Carrie.  For this weekend.  All of it.  And for walking with me, post-race, really, really slowly.
~to my friends.  For your words.  I've never run a marathon this far from home and without my family with me.  It was so fun to read your texts, tweets, messages and Facebook comments when I finished.  It was like having you with me. 
~to Jonna. For being all around awesome.  Hauling two babies around to be a friendly face in the crowd and for taking pictures. 
~to every single person who donated to St. Jude.  Whether you donated to me or not, thank you.