Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Nike Women's Half Marathon DC 2013

What a great time!  Such an enjoyable weekend!  It was my first girl's weekend in longer than I can remember.  And it was my first destination race.  And it was wonderful!!!

My friends Sally and Stephanie came to pick me up at 11:00am.  It took me a few minutes to be able to leave.  It felt weird to be leaving - just me and no one else.  I honestly can't remember the last time that happened.

Anyway, we drove straight to Georgetown and luckily found a place to park not too far from packet pick up.  Then we went to Starbucks to use the restroom and stood in line for like 20 minutes.  That wasn't so fun.  Then we went to stand in line to pick up our packets.  OMG.  This was the line.  And that arrow is pointing to the tent where you got your packets.

It was a very intimidating line.  We thought we would be there forever!  But, it actually moved pretty fast.  The crazy line gave us a first impression of disorganization and chaos.  But, honestly, once inside, I realized it was actually quite organized.  And, pretty impressive considering they had to set up a tent on a small amount of space, to hand out 15,000 race packets in an already crowded Georgetown!

Then we went to find food.  We found a cute little Italian place and ordered brunch, at 3pm.  I have to say that the scrambled eggs were delicious!  I know that sounds strange, but they had white or black truffle oil, I can't remember which.  And they were the best I've ever had.  And that's saying a lot since they didn't even have cheese on them!  And of course, the drinks were delicious, too.

Then we went shopping in Georgetown.  So fun!  The Athleta store was great.  And I got a new shirt and skirt to wear for the race.  Exciting stuff!

After going several places, we headed back to the car so we could check in at the hotel and get ready for dinner.  It was so fun to see so many people walking around carrying race packets.

Dinner was great.  I stayed up longer than I wanted blogging.  But, after I wrote almost all of my post, something happened and my fingers hit the exact combination of keys that deleted the whole thing.  Ugh!  I hate it when that happens!  Must remember to hit "save" more often.

Anyway, 5am came pretty quickly.  But, it wasn't that hard to wake up, really.  I was pretty excited for the race.  I took pictures of the three of us and texted them to Tom so he would know what we were wearing so he could look for us during the race.

Sally and me

Me and Stephanie
We met everyone in the lobby at 5:45am and walked to the start, just a few blocks away.  During dinner the night before Niki said that she packed "that awful Frostbite shirt" to wear in the morning.  Since it's colder in the morning, a lot of people wear something crappy that you don't care about to keep warm, and then when you don't need it anymore, you just toss it.  I said, "I packed my Frostbite shirt, too!"

Me and Niki - Great minds think alike!

Katherine, Wendy, me, Niki, Mary Curtis and Anna

Then we checked in our bags - so I couldn't take anymore pictures.  Next time, I'm going to figure out a way to keep it with me.  Just before we went to go get in the starting line - I looked up and saw Tom's face!  I don't know how in the world he found us!  My friends said that he installed some sort of tracking device on me when I wasn't looking.  He was on his mountain bike so he could ride from spot to spot to find me.  And since he was there well before 7am (the start time) he obviously woke up very early to drive up.  I think he said he left before 4am.  On his birthday!  He is something!  Love him!

Here is a picture of the start that I found on line.  Pennsylvania Avenue, pretty awesome, huh?

 I think the race was very well organized.  Clearly most of the 15,000 runners were women (with a few men) so they had some nice touches - like a red carpet at the start.  You can't see it in the photo, but it was pretty cool.  The only thing that we didn't like was that there were no wave starts.  I do think it would have been way better if they had wave starts with having to qualify for the faster waves.  It would have made the first few miles a lot less congested.  It was so crowded and you had to do a lot of weaving all across the road to find pockets of space.  

The start and finish were the same place.  So, here's a shot of it as people were finishing.  

Here's a picture of me near the end of the race (11 mile mark).  We came up 9th Street and took a right on Pennsylvania Avenue.  The finish was at 11th and Pennsylvania.  So, when you turned, you knew the start was right there, but you had to run away from it.  Ugh!  

I felt really good for the first six miles.  And I was running with Mary Curtis and Katherine.  But, after six miles, I started to get tired, and I knew I wouldn't be able to maintain that pace to the finish.  I was running faster than I thought I could considering the lack of training time.

My personal record for a half marathon is a 1:58, ran in 2009.  Back when we registered for this run, my goal was to beat that.  But, after the winter I had, I had to re-group and change my goal.  I decided to just have fun and not worry about it.  And I did!  But, I still ended up with a better time than I thought I would have.

Here were my splits...
Mile 1:    9:56 (it was so crowded!)
Mile 2:    9:38
Mile 3:    9:33
Mile 4:    8:57
Mile 5:    9:09
Mile 6:    8:54
Mile 7:    9:18
Mile 8:    9:15
Mile 9:    9:19
Mile 10:  9:00
Mile 11: 10:39 (my hardest and slowest mile)
Mile 12:  8:23 (my fastest mile!)
Mile 13:  9:29

My finish time was 2:04, with an overall average pace of 9:20.  I know that's slow for some people, but I am SO happy with that!  I haven't done any speed work in months.  And my training was inconsistent at best.  Just imagine what I could do if I could be consistent!  One day...

Tom said it was the easiest race to spectate.  He rode his bike and by mile 4, I had seen him 3 times!

After the race, I found Mary Curtis and Katherine (they finished just a few minutes ahead of me).  We got our finisher shirts and our Tiffany necklaces.  Men in tuxedos carry trays of the Tiffany boxes and hand them to you as you go through.  Since I didn't have my phone, I couldn't get any photos.  So I found this one online...

Then I went to our designated meeting place and found Tom, Sally and Stephanie.

Then I found Niki and Wendy.

Then we walked back to the hotel to shower and change for brunch.  Here's the necklace...

Of course I love it.  And will wear it proudly.

Then we headed on over to Marvin for brunch.  We didn't realize how far a walk it was.  And I wanted to quit.  It was well over a mile.  And it took us a solid 30 minutes to walk there.  My legs were tired and sore.  But, it was worth it.  It was a great time.

Sally, Katherine, Stephanie, Mary Curtis, Me, Niki, Wendy and Anna
It really was a fabulous time.  I loved every second of it.  Tom drove home and found this in our yard.

This is the same thing that my friends Heather and Niki did for my 40th.  Heather gave me the idea to do it for Tom.  And I thought the pigs were a perfect match since he likes to barbecue so much. he loved it!  Thanks, Heather!

So, that was the weekend.  Such fun!  Tom did a great job selecting a great hotel, and great restaurants.  I hope we get to do it again next year!

Much love,
Christy xo

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Happy Birthday Tom!

Tomorrow (Sunday) is Tom's 40th birthday.  And you know what he gets to do for his special day?  He gets to wake up super early in the morning and drive to DC to cheer me on in the Nike Women's Half Marathon.  Now that's love.  I really should brag about him more.  No one is perfect, and he certainly has his faults, too.  But he is a wonderful person, husband, father and friend.  And I am so thankful.

I left today around 11am and came up with my friends Sally and Stephanie.  We drove to Georgetown and picked up our race packets, then went shopping.  I just HAD to go to the Athleta store. 

Me, Sally and Stephanie

Us being goofy before dinner.
We met more friends (Niki, Katherine, Mary Curtis, Anna and Wendy) at the hotel and went to Matchbox Chinatown for dinner.  It was fabulous!

Anyway, I just feel awful about tomorrow being Tom's birthday and me running in this race.  But he hasn't complained once.  And he helped me plan it by picking the hotel and the restaurants for dinner tonight and brunch tomorrow (Marvin - one of our favorites from our hospital stays with Harlie).  And I really think he wants to be here tomorrow, cheering me on.  He is so supportive.  Much more so than I am of him with his cycling.  But I have made much more effort to let him be gone to ride without making him feel bad.  He is training for a double century bike ride (yes, that's 200 miles - on a bicycle!) in July.  So he needs to get in lots of long rides, which means he's gone lots of Saturdays and Sundays.  I guess that's the least I can do.

Well, it's time for me to get to bed.  Tomorrow's race starts at 7am.

Happy Birthday, Tom.  I love you!
~Christy xo

Thursday, April 25, 2013

In a Happy Place

Just a real quick post to let you know that things are so good around here!  Everyone is healthy and I can't tell you how good that feels!  Harlie has been to school for nine days in a row.  And assuming that she goes in the morning, it will be two full weeks of attendance!  Woohoo!!!  What a difference being healthy makes!  And when I see her healthy, I feel SO awful that I pushed her so hard when she wasn't.  It is truly amazing what she can do when she feels bad (or has to work so hard to breathe) and even I sometimes fail to see that.  Must remember to think about that next time!

I haven't been able to tell you - but we decided to put her on ADD medication.  She had a lot of evaluations for her IEP (which we had a while ago) and in every evaluation from several teachers, it was apparent that her inability to sit still, stay focused on her work for longer than two minutes, and her distractions to something like the carpet, or a marker, were becoming a huge problem.  Each teacher made a note that they did not believe that the results of the tests were accurate or indicative of what she actually knew.  She had to be redirected so many times.  All of this I knew, really.  But, when it starts to get in the way of your education and ability to learn - to ignore it would be irresponsible of us.  She has enough challenges in her path.  And we are doing everything we can to help her overcome them.  If she couldn't see the wipe board at the front of the class, we wouldn't think twice about getting her glasses.

This is the same thing.  It helps her see things more clearly.  It also reminds me of when she was a baby.  She didn't sit up unassisted until she was more than one year old.  But, for months prior to her first birthday, she had a very hard time breathing.  She was focusing all her attention on breathing - so learning to sit up wasn't an option.  It wasn't until after she had her two lung lobes removed and she could breathe easier, that she could then focus on her environment and learn to sit up.

Anyway, I got the forms and had several of her teachers complete them.  And I also provided her IEP evals.  I felt really confident that trying the medication was the right thing to do.  And let me tell you - WOW!  What a difference!  She is doing GREAT!  She can actually focus on her work and she is ENJOYING learning!  It is so wonderful!  I am so thankful!

I have so much more to tell you about... but I am still struggling to find the time to sit and concentrate to blog.  I will try to squeeze in some time tomorrow (Friday).

Thank you, as always, for your continued support!!  It is so appreciated!!

Much love,

Monday, April 15, 2013

Finally! An Update!

Wow. Almost a month since my last post!  I think that might be a record.  And not a good one, either.  I need to blog.  It really helps organize things in my head.  And it just makes me feel better overall.  So, when I go this long without blogging, it's just not good.  It also means that I'm too busy.  And that's never good.  Because odds are I'm not busy doing fun things.

I'll start by just trying to get you caught up on some stuff...

On March 23rd the cleaning people came to clean my house thanks to our wonderful friends - the Gasperini family, David and Wendy Miller, Carla Mentry, Kathleen Allen, Jill Wheelin, Holly Cowan, John and Allison Schmitt, Chris and Carol Cousins, Brad and Michelle Onofrio, Sally Young, Stephanie Madden and Harlie's incredibly supportive Daisy troop!  Seriously!!  Can you believe how much we are loved?  Because sometimes I can't!  How did we get so lucky to have such wonderful people in our lives?  I think about that more often than you know.  They all helped to get us TWO house cleanings and a Target gift card!

This was the first cleaning and I can't tell you how WONDERFUL it was to come home to a sparkling clean and fresh home!  It took two people, four hours to clean it from top to bottom (even my ceiling fans!).  So, if I had done it, it would have taken me eight hours and trust me when I say I can't ever imagine a day where I could spend eight hours cleaning!  NEVER!  As it is, I do a bathroom here and there, vacuum one day, do bedrooms another day, etc.  So, it never feels clean.  Oh, how wonderful and luxurious it felt!  And to think we'll get to feel that again soon!  Wow!  Since it's been so darn long since I last blogged - they got this for us during my kidney stone/family flu dark days.  I think we are all better off with a good cleaning to get rid of those winter germs!

Cooper also had his very first soccer game that day.  You might remember that I was a little nervous he would cry.  But, he didn't.  And it appeared that he never even wanted to cry.  So, that was awesome.  And as I think about me being worried about him crying, I am ashamed of myself!  Really?  Of all things to worry about - that just seems super silly.  He loved running around.  But, his shorts were way too big and he had to keep pulling them up.  My Mom has since fixed them.  Thanks, Mom!

Cooper's the player closest to the coach (Thanks Geoff Gasperini!)

He's the one on the right.
On Sunday morning (the 24th), I ran for the first time in weeks.  While it felt "good" to get out there and be running again, my lungs actually hurt a little.  We ran a little over three miles.  Eventually I'll get my running groove back.  I'm just going to have work a little extra hard for a while.

That Sunday afternoon, Tom and I were interviewed by a reporter for Style Weekly.  He brought a photographer with him, too.  The reason for the interview was about the push for a full service, stand alone, children's hospital here in Richmond.  Remember that meeting that I spoke at and was pretty embarrassed?  Well, he was there and he came and got my contact info.  So, I guess I didn't sound so silly after all.  More on this later.

On Monday, the 25th, we had a snow day - no school.  Ugh.  I'm really over Richmond's fear of the snow.  I get it to some point, but the roads were perfectly fine.  And surprisingly, I think the kids are over snow days, too.  They didn't ask to go outside at all!  Which was fine by me!

What a mean Mom I am.  I made Murphy walk the dog in it.
On Tuesday, the 26th, we sent Harlie back to school for the first time in a couple of weeks.  She wasn't too happy about it, either, which was kinda weird.  Usually she argues a bit, but then seems happy to get on the bus.  I, of course, second guessed myself all day.  She was still on oxygen 24/7, and logistically that's difficult to manage.  She was going through two large tanks in a school day.  Which means I have to take her more tanks since Terri can't carry extra tanks with her.

I am so tired of seeing Harlie sitting on the couch, watching TV.  But, I also don't want to prolong her recovery by sending her to school.  Ugh.  No decision is easy when it comes to her.  And it weighs on me constantly.  I go back and forth in my feelings throughout the day.

On Wednesday (the 27th), Terri couldn't work.  So, I took Harlie to school.  She had a hearing test at another school that day.  So, at around 10am, we got on a bus and went to the other school.  It was when we were getting off the bus that I noticed the gauge on her oxygen tank.  OMG.  I am not a good school nurse!  I totally forgot to switch the tanks out before we left!  And this tank was almost empty!  There was no way it was going to last her till we got back to her school (where a new tank was).  Ugh!  So, I called a neighbor and asked him if he was working from home.  Thankfully he was!  So, I gave him the code to get in our garage and get a new tank.  Then he brought it to me at the school (which thankfully is close to our house).  What a life saver!!!  Thank you so much, Bill!!

I am SO over the stress of this oxygen requirement.  I can't tell you how much energy it takes out of me.  And the logistics of the tanks is a nightmare.  So, I emailed her pulmonologist (again) and asked for a portable oxygen concentrator.  He promptly wrote an order for one and got it to my supply company.  They said that our insurance denied it because it was a "convenience item."  For real???  Wow.  Crazy me!  Wanting oxygen to be convenient!!!  I honestly didn't realize that you should have to work really hard for oxygen.  Seems to me that something you need in order to LIVE should be somewhat convenient.  Especially considering the circumstances - it's for a six year old girl with heart and lung disease so she can attend school.  I guess that's asking too much.  Luckily, she has Medicaid.  Thank you Virginia tax payers!  We are so grateful for VA Medicaid!

Our supply company worked really hard to get it to us as soon as possible.  We were about to go out of town for our first vacation in FIVE years!  Woo Hoo!!  And they got it to us that Friday!  Awesome!  The only negative is that this concentrator only came with one battery.  And on the high flow she was on, it would only last four hours.  The only difference then, was that if we had access to plug it in, it could run off power instead of battery.  I'll take it.  But, that clearly wouldn't work if we needed to fly to Boston.  It's not ours anyway - we are only renting it (standard, I hear).

Murphy got sick again and missed the last two days of school before Spring Break.  He missed more school this year than ever.  Between all three of the kids - this house has practically had a sick kid in it most of the time since Christmas!  Needless to say, I'm more than ready for Spring.

On Saturday, March 30th, we left for Isle of Palms, South Carolina!  It took me all week to pack and get ready.  But it was worth it!  Here are just a few pics...till later.  I'll post more about the week in a dedicated post.  I hope.

Cooper, Harlie and Murphy.

Harlie, Cooper, Murphy, Vivian and Chelsea

Our friends, Mike and Laura (who live in Pittsburgh) rent this house on Isle of Palms and they graciously invited our family to join them!  Vivian and Chelsea are their girls.  We had such a great time!  I really can't wait to write more about it.

And you might just notice that Harlie's not on oxygen in any of those pictures.  She was on it through Saturday.  But after that, she was much better and only required it at night while sleeping.  We were so thankful.  And I think she was, too.

We left on Friday and Mike and Laura followed us home.  They stayed with us for the night and then continued on to Pittsburgh the next day.  Tom's mom came into town on Friday, too.  We had a great weekend.  She got to go to Cooper's second soccer game on Saturday.  And on Sunday we all went to see the movie The Croods.  It was so funny!  We all loved it.

Oh!  I forgot to write that on the Wednesday we were on vacation, the Style Weekly publication came out with the children's hospital debate as the cover story.  I will post pictures of the actual publication soon.  I have more to write about that subject, too (surprise) so I will have to save that for a dedicated post, as well.  I have no idea how I'm going to find the time.  But, I will.

Today is Monday, April 15th and Harlie missed another three days of school last week.  And went back on oxygen full-time.  Luckily over the weekend she perked up again.  So, I got to send her to school today - without oxygen.  That's always a good feeling.

I still have more to write about... but the kids are all home from school now and I have many unfinished projects that need my attention (laundry, the kitchen, the bills, etc.) AND I am cooking dinner tonight.  Yes, you read that right.  I am making dinner tonight.  Murphy and Harlie both have scouts tonight (this will be Harlie's first Daisy meeting in .... months?).  So, tonight will be pushed for time.  So I decided to help by making the easiest thing I could think of - tacos.  And I almost came home without the ground beef.  And that's why I don't cook dinner often.  Or ever, really.

Throughout the last six years, a certain episode of Married, with Children has come to my mind (basically, whenever I do something dumb).  Do you remember that show?  In it, Kelly (the dumb blonde) has to pass 11th grade.  So Bud (her little brother) tutors her.  After working with Kelly for a while, they show Al Bundy (the dad) what Kelly has learned.  He was impressed, and Bud sits next to him and says,

"One slight problem... if you take a gallon of knowledge and pour it into a shot glass size of a brain, you're going to spill some.  In other words, certain basic information had to be sacrificed."

Then the doorbell rings. And Kelly says, "What's that?"  Bud answers, "The doorbell." And Kelly points to Al Bundy and says, "Who's the old guy?" and Bud answers, "That's Dad."

I fully recognize that it's CRAZY that I remember that episode.  Clearly, it spoke to me then and I guess I thought, I'm going to need this later.  I think of it because I often feel like Kelly.  I've had to learn so much medical stuff that I had to get rid of basic information to make room in my brain.

It's silly, I know.  But it makes me chuckle, and sometimes that's what I need to get me through the moment when I feel stupid or inadequate.  Here's the clip.  The part I'm talking about is at the 5 minute mark, if you want to jump to that part.  You know, because you don't have anything better to do.

And as I was finishing this post, the news about the explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon broke.  Ugh.  Just awful.  As a runner, this hits a little too close to home.  So sad for everyone.  Thank goodness Boston is such an amazing place.  They were more than ready to handle whatever came their way medically.

Needless to say, dinner was not ready and on the table when Tom got home.  And I almost burned the ground beef.  Twice.

Sorry for such a long delay in posts.  Thank you to those of you still continue to check for new updates.  Love you all!