[Just before the race started]
On a very cold late-October morning in the chilled humid air of Des Moines, IA, a gun went off at 8am announcing for the runners to begin their many hours long trek of 26.2 miles. Runners waved to family and friends as they made their way across the Des Moines River bridge on Locust Street and towards the capital building and tried to keep their adrenaline and nerves in check with their pace. With spectators all along the way holding up inspirational quotes, handing out water, sports drinks, tissues and even gummy bears and fruit slices, or playing and singing music to entertain, the route was perfect. Perfect scenery of gorgeous homes, parks and rivers, and high rising downtown avenues. Runners' breathing slowed and calmed, their bodies fell into relaxed rhythms, and they slowly but surely made their way through the finish.
I am thrilled to say that I was one of these runners this past weekend. I have been known to love running (some might even call me a running fanatic...), primarily from college and on, but let me tell ya... no matter how much you love it, a lapse of time spanning 2 years of injury, working overtime and barely finding time to eat and sleep, then becoming pregnant (sick, anemic and low back issues to go along with that one..) and pushing a baby out of your body just before having to recover for a few months from doing so, it is really rough trying to get back into it. I began training this summer when we moved out to Oregon for a few months and it wasn't as easy as I was expecting. My low back had lots of issues and I not only had the struggle of motivating myself to get moving but to also push our baby in a stroller out in front me the whole way. Thank goodness for tax returns because our BOB stroller has made all the difference - I took Kaiya with me on every run besides a few of my longest routes. I think 10 or 12 miles was about her limit of napping and keeping herself entertained while being strapped to a seat. I could not have asked for a better baby though, because with all the breaks I had to take to drink water, eat a supplement, stretch, or walk for a bit, my training times ended up being 10-11 minute miles a lot of the time, making it a couple of hours of her time each day.
I was really nervous (not excited nervous.. well excited, but so anxious that I couldn't sleep the night before and felt so sick to my stomach the morning of that I had to force-feed myself a few spoonfuls of oatmeal and then lay on the couch and take deep breaths) for this one. I wasn't worried I wouldn't finish or that I would let my family down or anything, just nervous that I might get injured like I did my last marathon over 2 years ago in San Francisco where my stubborn-self cried as I forced my body against its' will for the last 10 miles after a sharp stabbing pain began abruptly in my left knee. I was also nervous about not being happy with my time. I have a very competitive nature and it's hard for me to think it'd be okay to pay money to run a race and not win a medal or reach a goal time. My first marathons over 3 years ago were Boston qualifiers and I still have this idea in my head that I still have that potential and didn't want that idea to vanish.
Well, I am happy to say that I ran the 26.2 miles in 3hrs 50mins 33seconds, only 10 minutes shy of Boston qualifying for my age group now and even less shy of it for my age group starting this upcoming February. I felt great the entire run. My energy stayed up and I never felt very tired or worn out. I did stop for a minute at a port-a-potty (post-pregnancy... you can never be too careful with bladder urges!! hahaha) and then 3 or 4 times to stretch my very tight hamstrings. I also felt fairly leisurely the second half of the race once I decided to back down from an 8 min/mile pace I started with and keep a 9 - 9.5 min/mile pace. I felt so great after crossing the finish line and when I saw my time I almost cried. I have NOT lost my idea in my head that I can and will re-qualify for Boston soon. I am excited to relax for a few weeks and then jump into some yoga, strength training and speed work so I can improve. It took me several months to get back into running-lover mode and now I'm ready to rock-n-roll! I'm so grateful that I have a body that can handle and even enjoy this kind of physical exertion and for the husband that I have who is always there to help me train and fixes me when different parts of my body decide to break (yay for DPT's!!).
[mile 8 - waving hello]
[Finish line - about to speed up with my final kick]
[I know it doesn't look like much of a kick in this pic but... I passed this guy about 3sec later!]
[My favorite cheerleaders :) - so happy that Ethan and Jaden Baham could come support me too!]
Outside of running, I've been keeping myself very busy looking into graduate schools and planning out our budget, traveling and housing plans for staying here through February, being in Washington for Brandan's last 8 week internship, then a month or two between graduation and taking his licensure exam next summer. Anytime I try and plan beyond that, I drop the topic pretty quickly because we have no idea where we'll end up with a job for Brandan and for graduate school for me. It's crazy to think that Brandan graduates in only 7 months!!! He has done great so far, keeping his grades up high enough to show that he's learning what he needs and wants to and can pass and become a doctor of physical therapy, but low enough to prove that he really does balance family and school very well to keep himself sane and happy (which means that Kaiya and I are sane and happy having a husband and father in a medical school!).
[our monthly splurge date night of dinner and bowling with our friends Ethan and Steph - did you know Brandan and Ethan have their very own bowling shoes? Brandan even has his own personalized bowling ball, so needless to say they dominated the game!]
Kaiya just keeps finding new ways to entertain and intrigue us. Her bottom two teeth have finally made their way up through the gums enough so she has a good bite on her, but not enough to see very well in a picture. She blabbers non-stop with the "da-da-da-da" and "guh-guh-guh"'s which sounds so cute I can't imagine them actually turning into real words that I can use to have a conversation with her! We have been told by anyone who has been around her for more than a few minutes that her screams and squeals are hilarious and abnormally loud and pitchy. I swear she could shatter glass with them sometimes. I think Brandan and I have gotten use to it because sometimes we'll get funny or even nasty looks from people at grocery stores or at the park and we realize Kaiya is screaming at the top of her lungs at the piece of grass she's holding or the bird she sees. It isn't a bloody murder scream, but a super super SUPER excited scream.... that she uses for everything... and that she uses to play. I think it's hilarious, but there are definitely times when we feel like we might go deaf if she keeps it up. Hahaha... oh Kaiya, silly girl. She is definitely a cutie with a spunky disposition. We love her SO freaking much. So glad to have her in our lives as daddy's distracter from his evening studies and my play mate and running buddy each day :).
[Kaiya's teeny tiny teeth!!]
[This girl would eat all day long if I let her! such a good little eater]
[a ridiculously awesome headband at Babies R' Us - didn't buy it but we tried to convince ourselves to just because it looked so hilarious on sweet Kaiya! haha]