Friday, September 25, 2015

My Half Marathon And My Mixed Feelings

I've been putting off blogging about this, and here's why: I've got mixed feelings, people.

And if you know me at all, you know that it takes me longer than most to untangle my feelings.

So, my half marathon. Here goes.

I am a runner. I have been a runner for one year and seven months. Three times a week for the past nineteen months, I have run. And what's more? I love running. I absolutely, positively love it. I feel so alive, so healthy, so focused when I'm running. That "runner's high?" It's a real thing. Sure, I've had some bad runs here and there. What runner hasn't? But way, way, way more often that not, here's the truth: I enjoy every single sweaty mile.

My race was in Blacksburg, VA--about an hour's drive from my house.

Unforeseen problem #1: I get sciatica when I'm driving for more than about thirty minutes. I hadn't considered that I'd be driving there and back (2 hours) the day before the race to pick up my race packet and bib. I then had to drive an hour there the next morning for the actual race.

I got there at 6:30, having left the house an hour earlier.

Problem #2: I got up at 2:30 AM, and I absolutely couldn't go back to sleep.

The only positive on the sleep end was that I had been going to bed early intentionally for a week and a half prior to the race. So, my sleep bank was "full enough."

Problem #3: [TMI warning] I didn't think I needed to go pee until about three minutes INTO THE RACE.

Problem #4: I totally forgot to take Advil that morning. I always, always take Advil before a long run. Why? Because long runs generally make your body hurt a little.

So, the race. The start. We lined up. All 1,200 of us.

The gun went off. And do you know what? I cried a little. Here I was, at the culmination of nineteen months of running and fourteen weeks of intense half marathon training. I was accomplishing something that I never, ever thought I'd accomplish. I will cross that damn finish line. That was what I was thinking.

The entire first mile I was psychologically freaked out. I don't know why. This is my fourth race, so I'm no newbie to the racing jitters. I felt pretty overwhelmed at the beginning.

And then the most disappointing thing happened. I'm sad just typing it. I didn't enjoy a single mile of the entire dadgum race.

Here's why that's sad to me: I love running. I LOVE RUNNING! I love sweating. I love panting. I love powering up hills. I love checking my pace. I love my running gear. I love racing. I love everything about the sport of running.

And here I was: jogging through some of most beautiful scenery in America, and I was miserable. Overwhelmed. Disappointed. I was even beating my targets for my miles! I think it was very mentally difficult for me to get passed by hundreds of people. That was tough--tougher than I was expecting. I also wasn't used to running with so.many.people. It was hard just running--I was always zigging in and out of runners. I've never had to do that before.

At 8.5 miles, my knees gave out. It makes me so angry to type that. I've run long distances lots of times, and I've never, ever, ever had a single issue with my knees. Here I was: on track for beating my half marathon PR, with 4.6 miles left to go, and suddenly I was in intense physical pain. I mean, every single step for almost five miles was agony. AGONY.

So, what happened? I slapped an additional fifteen minutes onto my time (that's BIG, non runner folks). I felt so angry and confused and just totally not how I was expecting to feel on this momentous day.

And finally, after what felt like an agonizing eternity, I saw the finish line. Better than that: I saw my sons holding up bright pink signs cheering me on. I let out a sob. I cried as I crossed the finish line, with my arms up in the air. I was proud of myself. I was grateful to Jesus for the ability to run and for carrying me across the finish line. I had accomplished my goal.

So, here I am five days out from the race. I'm happy and I'm bummed. I'm proud of myself, and I'm disappointed in my run. See, people? Mixed feelings.

I went to go pick up the boys from school the other day, when my friend Emily (who runs marathons practically every month with INSANE times--basically she's my running hero) asked me how my half had gone. I told her an abbreviated version of what happened. She said, "You should be proud of yourself for finishing. You never know what will happen on race day." She congratulated me, and I could see on her face that she was genuinely happy for me.

Um, that made me feel better than anything else had.

This is not my last long race. My ultimate goal is to be a marathoner. But, I'm taking things slow for now. I want to learn from my mistakes, and I need to figure out what is going on with my right knee. I'm still limping, and it still hurts with every step. I'm thinking a trip to the doctor might be in order.

I wrote "God's grace" in sharpie on the front of my Sauconys on race day. God's grace to go before every step I took. And it does, doesn't it? God's grace has gone before me every step. From moving away from family. From living fourteen hours away from "home." From losing 30 pounds. From going from someone who could "sort of jog" to running a half marathon. I owe IT ALL to God and his unending, unwavering, unfailing grace.

Whew. I ran a half marathon, y'all.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Going Colonial

Well, the Ryans hit Williamsburg, VA this week for a super short, two-day vacay! As Williamsburg is only a four hour drive from Roanoke, it was easy to do!

The weather was a bit chillier than I thought it was going to be. We were all shivering! Hello, fall!

Williamsburg is so beautiful, and full of charm and character. I hadn't been to Williamsburg since I was about fifteen years old, and it was just as quaint and picturesque as I remembered it being.

I definitely wanted to get a picture of the boys in the stocks! Ha-ha!

We went to the coolest place for dinner--Chowning's Tavern! I highly recommend it! It was very rustic and so, so very colonial. Um, and the food was seriously delish! {And nothing makes a two year old and a five year old HUSH like live music!}

We took the boys to the Jamestown settlement. Their favorite part was definitely the ships. Mommy only got on one ship, and quickly realized her mistake and got off of the ship about five minutes later. {Severe vertigo.}

Did we have a great time!? I think this face says it all:

Saturday, September 12, 2015

First Days of School

The kiddos are back in school! I repeat: The kiddos are back in school!

Nathan's first day back was on Tuesday. He's going five.days.a.week. this year! I think it's going to take a bit of getting used to, for sure. He was so excited for his first day. No nervousness at all for this guy! He kept saying, "We're the top dogs!" He's very proud that he's finally in the oldest bunch of preschoolers at his school.

I dropped him off, and could hardly get a kiss out of the boy before he was off! It made my momma heart happy to see him so excited for school.

When Jack and I got back home, I thought, "Well, it's me and you kiddo! This is new! What are we going to do for the next five hours?" I will say this: Jack is so easy when he's one-on-one. He played quietly in the playroom while I worked in my office. Then, we walked over to the neighbor's house to say hi and pick some veggies. We ate lunch together, he napped, and I got more work done. Easy peasy! I hope it stays that way.

When we picked Nathan up from school, I told him he could have any treat he wanted. He picked Bubblecake! {Funny side note: Nathan only licks the icing off his $4 cupcake. Jack, on the other hand, eats the entire thing in about three minutes.}

Wednesday was Jack's first day back to school! I just knew he was going to go to pieces--cry, grab on to my leg, beg me to stay with him. Um, NOPE! He walked right into his classroom and didn't even look back! He wanted to carry his lunch box and his backpack--no help from momma!

The last memory I have of crying after a first day of school was Nathan's very first day of MDO when he was 13 months old. I cried for just about a minute on the way to work.

Confession: I cried THE WHOLE WAY HOME after dropping Jack off.

When you see your "baby" not needing you and not seeming so babyish anymore, good golly that strikes a chord deep down in a momma's heart. He was just so "big boy." So independent.

Here's to a fun school year full of playdough, parties, new friends, and fun!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

So Long, Summer!

This summer was a long one. June and July were busy, busy with work travel and vacations, VBS and golf lessons, trips to the pool and road races. August dragged on and on! Here are some of the things we filled our time with as we said goodbye to Summer 2015:

Frolics in the back yard! 

This is most definitely the best thing that happened last month: my sister had a beautiful, healthy baby girl! I became an aunt! What a blessing! Caitlin Elizabeth Richardson entered the world on August 25th, and I'm so head-over-heels in love with my perfect niece. It breaks my heart that my sister lives in Alaska and I live in Virginia--so far apart!

My dad came to visit, and it was wonderful! We went hiking, out to dinner, played chess, had deep conversations. It was good for my soul to get some one-on-one time with my Daddy-o. I think the Lord knew I needed a visit from him.

Half marathon training is nearing an end! My race is in LESS THAN TWO WEEKS. Oh my gosh. My stomach just flipped. Oy. I went for a 13.5 mile run, and I'm just tapering now. My left knee is bothering me a tiny bit, so I'm taking Advil every day between now and my race. I'm so ready to cross that finish line with my arms up in the air. God willing!

New bat jammies. I think I walked into Old Navy and was just longing for fall and October and so I bought these for him. Big brother was livid, despite the fact that he doesn't wear pj's to bed! Goodness!

Date night with my main man! Can I just say that babysitters are the greatest?

Trips to the park! I feel like this August has been warmer--certainly than last year's was! So, our trips to the park have been particularly hot!

Nathan's newest obsession is writing books. Here's his best seller, "Spooky Day."

The Oriental Trading Halloween magazine came in the mail, and you would have thought that my children had unearthed the holy grail. They were glued to it for about three days. (And fought over it for three days.)

Back to school night! (The point in the summer when I felt my sanity returning.)

If you know my boys at all, you know they're constantly catching spiders, frogs, crickets, butterflies, and anything else that moves around in our yard!

This so perfectly captures our August this year. Nathan, banging two things together for the solitary purpose of annoying Jack. And Jack, being annoyed and seconds away from screaming like only a 39 pound 2 year old can.

Trip to the river! So fun! :)

So long, summer! I'm ready for football, my half marathon, school, and an orderly schedule! :)