Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Jingle Jingle all the Way

Last year this was Ashley's first 5K, so naturally when the time came to sign up for this years event we didn't even hesitate. After we signed up with a team from Ryan's Tae Kwon Do school -Team Just for Kick's, I looked at the date and realized it was the day before my sister in law's graduation to get her Masters Degree. Never once did it cross my mind to not do the race- I figured we would just work around it. Then my non- running friend Kerri signed up to run it as her first 5K ( I love when my friends start running!!!)

We showed up to the race and Ashley and I were talking about her goals. (I guess most people don't do this with their 8 year olds???) She said that she wanted to do better than her last one (the boo run in October 36:33) and I told her that if she did I would give her $20 (doesn't everyone bribe their kids to exercise?)

There were so many people at this race, 3000 registered. We met up with out TKD friends from Carpenters ATA and took some pictures. Then Ashley and I found Kerri and went searching for another friend Laureen. It was much harder to find people than I expected. We had a really hard time finding Laureen but somehow we did and made our way to the starting line.

Carpenters ATA Group

The horn went off and NO ONE MOVED. I am not exaggerating when I say this...there were just so many people that I felt like we were at the start of a Disney race. We were able to cross the street and Ashley and I settled into a nice pace. She seemed to be doing ok and when I asked her she was smiling. We had just run this route in October for the Boo Run so I knew how to pace her better than I did then. There were still A LOT of people and they hadn't been able to close down the road, so we had to all keep to one side of a cone (very difficult to do).  We got to the one mile mark and I looked at my watch and it said 10:45...ummmmm....we need to slow down was the first thought that crossed my mind. Our goal was to beat 36:33 and at this pace we would be 3 minutes under that. She still hadn't asked to walk yet but I KNEW that was quickly approaching. We made it to the 1.5 mile mark where they had people handing out water, I told her to grab one and we walked through it, partially because she wanted to walk and partially because I haven't really met anyone who can successfully drink from a cup while running.  At this point I knew I had to start getting her mind off of what she was doing plus just be silly and help her to realize that what she was doing was FUN (my major goal!!) She was beginning to get more tired so we started doing a bit of the run/walk until we reached mile 2. I just kept trying to tell her what a good job she was doing and how many adults she was doing better than (whatever works!!). When we were about .5 from being done she really started to fade. We were still going to beat her 36:33 but I didn't know if she was going to just want to walk the rest of the way. I don't really know how to motivate an 8 year old, especially mine. She is highly competitive so I was trying to just let her run if she wanted to and not say much if she wasn't (so so hard for me to do!!)
She started running again, on her own and we made the turn so that we could see the finish line and then...we got stopped at the light because the town couldn't stop traffic for a race. WHAT?!?!?
I know that this is a fun event and a family friendly one at that but it is still a 5K race. Most runners want to try and do their best. The man who stopped us and other runners actually said "now we are doing this for fun not PR's" and on most occasions I would have agreed with him and totally not cared but this wasn't for me, it was for my Ashley so the fact that they stopped us really, really bothered me. Once the light changed and we were able to start again I told her that we were going to meet her goal and that she should be extremely proud. She finished her 3rd 5K in 34:27 :)
I am so proud of her- she could have quit but she didn't and that is all that matters. I then handed her a 20 dollar bill to fulfill my part of the bargain :) It was a fun event but they need to work on the traffic situation and they need to have people handing water out at the finish as well, not just cases sitting on the ground, a quarter mile from the finish.
I would do it again, after all it is tradition. Happy Holidays!!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Running in the Dark

If you have kids, planning a running schedule is tricky. Many days I run either before the sun comes up or long after it sets. I try to be as careful as I possibly can because I know I have 4 very important people that count on me and if I get hit by a car it would really hurt- ha!

USUALLY I try to run on the sidewalks BUT lately I have become a bit less "rule follower" and a bit more adventurous. My first run on Lorainne road I was scared to death. You are supposed to run against traffic in the bike lane which in theory works so you can see all the cars coming at you. With all the technology and people texting while driving...this is SCARY!!! I run as close to the side as I possibly can, and I have noticed that the women drivers are usually the ones who almost hit me (even when they can move to the other lane!!)

So after practicing this (for Ragnar) I decided to take a nice 9 mile run and practice running on the street, using my flasher things...you know all the things that I should already be doing when running close to dusk.

I headed out onto Lorainne (busy road around 5 p.m.) and as I started running against traffic -my headphones broke and I could only hear every other word. I was only a mile into my run but I kept going. My body knows my pace by now so I was trying to just coast- while cars came flying by. I don't know what is so difficult on a 4 lane road to move over if you see someone running/biking. I think maybe some of the people just want to take some perverse pleasure in scaring me but I did make it down the road without being struck by a car.

At this 3 mile mark I turned into the Lakewood Ranch Country Club for the next what I "thought" was 3 miles (turned out to be 5, just around the loop). I was kinda getting used to hearing the music through what sounded like water and I got A LOT of dirty looks as cars passed by. When I realized that this loop was much further than I thought- oh no! but I had fueled pretty good yesterday and I was feeling really good.

About mile 7, I realized that the sun had gone down and I needed to turn on my flasher things. The funny part about them is that they never flash at the same time so I look a bit like a police car with my blue and red lights flashing. This is also about the time that the sprinklers in Lakewood Ranch decide to turn on- UGH!! At mile 8 I was now done with my loop and time to get back onto Lorainne for the run back home.

It was completely dark now and the streetlights are not very close together. My own shaddow scared me a few times (I have seen too many movies where people jump out of the bushes). Thank goodness there weren't as many cars by this point driving down Lorainne because even with my flashing lights I don't think I am easy to see and the sidewalk really wasn't an option unless I wanted to smell like the sewer and get my beautiful orange Newton's all wet. (Priorities People!!)

I did not follower runner ettiquitte on Greenbrook Blvd as I ran with traffic (it was only a mile!!)

When I was done though I had a renewed sense of confidence in knowing that not only will I be able to run the distances I have to for Ragnar but I will be able to do it with a cool and calm head becuase I can run in the dark :)

Tonight it the Jingle Bell 5K with Ashley :) Stay tuned because I'm sure that post is going to be pretty funny!

Monday, December 12, 2011

A blessing??

Two years ago, we decided to put Ashley into cheerleading. She had begged us for awhile and I knew some friends with kids that went to a local gym so we decided to give it a try. We had already tried soccer, which was a complete disaster (her favorite time was water breaks). We had our trial class and she was hooked. It feels like our lives have revolved around it ever since. 
Ashley is EXTREMELY focused and I am not just saying that because I am her mother. There are many days when I wish she wasn't so determined and she didn't want to go to the gym every day. I do feel blessed though because through Dynasty Elite we have made wonderful, lifelong friends. Every year there are new people and Ashley gets to experience new opportunities. She has mastered many skills that I never would have imagined she would be doing 2 short years ago. I am so proud of the athlete that she is and I look forward to seeing what else she can accomplish.

Friday, December 9, 2011

An Update

The cookie exchange went wonderfully.  I am not a person who really enjoys going out without my family. Usually all 5 of us do things together or Dave and I, occasionally I run with friends (wish I did this more often) but "going out" like dinner doesn't usually fall under priorities to me. I do have some awesome friends that pull me out from under all of the things I have to do and just have a good time together. When Ryan was in preschool 2 years ago I met some great friends and to my shock we have all continued to make the effort to get together (usually once a month). We all have kids that are the same age and it is really nice for me that they are all mom's of kids Ryan's age. Ashley gets  SO much being the first born that it is really nice that Ryan has some friends that he has known since he was 3. This year when the kids went to kindergarten, we requested that our kids were in the same class (which they did) and now if I forget something (which is ALL THE TIME!) for class one of my girls just shoots me a text and all is well. So last month while at our brunch Kelly thought we should do a cookie exchange party for our monthly get together. We all had to make a dozen cookies for each person to take home and a dozen to share at the party. I guess we all failed math because for weeks we kept saying we needed 7 dozen cookies when we actually only needed 6 :)
I looked on Pintrest and I polled my Facebook friends and Twitter followers about which cookie that I should make. My husband outranked everyone and asked me to make Raisin Puffs, which are a family tradition passed down from my Grandma Williams.  She however makes them for her church and makes TONS so her actual recipe makes 10 dozen cookies. So, I took some time on Wednesday morning to make my cookies. I ate more than a few and felt a bit queasy but at least I got them all baked and boxed with ample time to spare.

I showed up at 6 o'clock with my 6 dozen cookies and I hadn't eaten much all day, knowing that cookies were on the menu for dinner. Let me also say that I am NOT a big drinker!! I don't have a any problem with people that do, I just don't like how it makes me feel. Kelly and I had talked the day before the exchange and she had gone to Total Wine and asked the worker what a "girly" drink she could make for the party. She decided on Limoncello and Champagne. Did I already say that I didn't eat much before I went to this party. First thing I get handed is this drink and since I don't want to be rude, I start sipping it and after about 5 sips I stared to get a bit dizzy. I thought if I ate a little bit that it might help, so I had a plate of pizza dip and bread (loved this!!) and we had vegan nachos, which were very good as well. Since I continued to sip the drink while I was eating, it didn't really help with my dizziness. So I tweeted about it and took some funny self pics (what am I 18??) Anyways, we then moved on to the cookie portion of the evening...I made the Raisin Puffs, Shannon made Thumbprints, Laureen made Peanut Butter Blossoms, Kerri made Chocolate Truffles, Kelly made Magic Cookie Bars ,and Lauren made Chocolate chocolate cookies. I only ate 3 cookies BUT I have 6 dozen here if anyone would like some. After I ate the cookies and we sat and talked for a while, I did start to feel better (guess the alcohol started wearing off) and I had so much fun just being me with people who know me and like me anyways with all of my flaws and crazy running :)
 Our cookie table
                                                                 Yummy Dips and Bread
                                                    Me and Kerri (a little too Limoncello)
                                             Laureen, Lauren, Kelly, Kerri, Shannon, & Me

Great times with great friends and I ran 8 Miles this morning to balance out my cookies eating :) Love the holidays!!

p.s. my floors still aren't finished :(

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Floors and Cookies

I am feeling a bit overwhelmed and unorganized.

We are putting hardwood floors in two rooms of our home- two weeks before Christmas and the carpet was torn up two weeks ago- ewwww! I have started wearing socks around my house- AT ALL TIMES. I think that today may finally be the day that my bedroom no longer has concrete floors.

I also have a cookie exchange tomorrow night. So instead of being able to clean up all this dust, I just added to it with the amount of flour it took to make 10 dozen cookies :)

Am I the only person who over schedules themselves over the holidays?

I think this is enough of a rant for now... pictures to come soon of the floors and cookies :)

Maybe I will be able to get another run in tonight- priorities people!!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Team Ragtails

About 6 months ago, I was approached by some local running friends and asked if I would like to do the Ragnar Relay. I was of course interested since is the Floridians version of Hood to Coast- without all of the mountains. I have 3 kids and a husband (sometimes extremely supportive and sometimes not so much) and I didn't think that it would work out so I declined to be on their teams. Fast forward to the Savannah Half marathon and I am still kinda wishing that I could swing it. When I got home, a good friend texted me and asked if I would be willing to join their team since one of their runners got injured. I did drop subtle hints to my hubby (yes I did Savannah and Tough Mudder was coming and I was signed up for Princess Half in February- duh!! I need something for January). Well to my utter stupefaction hubby said YES!! So January 6-9 I will be going to run from Miami to Key West with Team Ragtails. I will be runner number 6 and I will be running legs 6,18,and 30.

Leg 6 (very hard)
                                                                       Leg 18 (very hard)

Leg 30 (moderate)

Training for Ragnar starts NOW!!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I AM a Tough Mudder

So the goal was met- I did NOT Die!!! It was the most amazing experiences of my entire life and I am not exaggerating. We got up and left the house around 6 since the website said that we needed to be there 2 hours before our start time which was at 10. We were perhaps 2 miles away from the venue when we started going over hills (you all know how much I LOOOOOVVEEE hills). At that point I did start to have big bullfrogs jump around in my stomach. I had some idea of what I was to expect since I had previously done the warrior dash (only 1/3 of this distance). Let me just say now that it is NOTHING like the Warrior Dash.  While my team (TEAM ATLAS) and I were walking up to packet pick-up someone mentioned that they write your number on your forehead...I laughed and then soon found out that they were 100% serious. Supposedly they do this so that if your number falls off in the water they can identify you for medical reasons, oh and for pictures.

So our team got marked up and took a final potty break and headed to the start line. We took off and ran about a mile until we got to the first obstacle.
1. The Steeplechase (start your day off by vaulting yourself over a series of equine obstacles beware- it's not always mud on the other side). This was not as difficult or as high as I thought it was going to be. The things to be jumped over were maybe hip high and there was plenty of space to drop down and jump over the "ditch".
2. Chernobyl Jacuzzi (jump in and out of an icy mixture of assorted carcinogens). Out of all of the obstacles this really was the worst one. This was in a dumpster filled with ice and when you jumped in your lungs literally stopped. If that wasn't bad enough you had to wait for the other people in the dumpster with you to GET OUT before you could get out. I am very glad they put this at the beginning and could get it out of the way within the first 2 miles.
3. Underwater Tunnels (bob underneath the obstacles on the surface of the water as your head shrinks to the size of a walnut). Seeing as we had just been in below freezing water this was really not too difficult to handle. Just remember to keep your mouth closed and you will be just fine.
4. Kiss of Mud (eat dirt as you crawl on your belly under wire set only 8 inches from the ground). This is where the mud portion of this challenge begins. You must crawl on your HANDS and KNEES to get through this. There is no alternative.

**let me put a disclaimer here and let you know that there is about a quarter to a half mile of running between every obstacle.

5. Mystery Obstacle - this was a tire obstacle with tires hanging from wooden beam.
6. Spider's Web (fight your way over not one but two cargo nets). We had a really good wave of people and my team was AMAZING!! The guys hopped over and held the bottom of the net with resistance so it made it much easier to get up and over this obstacle.
7. Bale Bonds (hurl yourself over enormous hay bales). I actually was able to do a hop method here and was totally able to hop over these by myself (no assistance-woot woot!)
8. Ball Shrinker (try not to fall off this rickety swinging rope bridge into the mud pit below).
 This one was definitely challenging for Ms. Toothpick arms. What really made this one a bit more difficult for me was that I wanted to go slowly and at my own pace and I had people coming behind me (not on my team) that ran right into me, almost knocking me off into the water. I also got my first  taste of the nasty water on this one.
9. Berlin Walls #1 (show team spirit and camaraderie as you work with other Tough Mudders to scale our series of 12 foot high walls)- This was the obstacle that I was dreading the most. Mostly because I have ZERO upper body strength and I had no idea how I was going to get over it. This is where having an AMAZING team comes into play. Two of our guys would climb to the top, my husband would boost me up and shove my butt up and my other two teammates would pull me over. I could not have done this without TEAM ATLAS!!!
10. The Trenches (Get stuck in our energy zapping trademarked Tough Mudder thick mud as you wade through a maze of trenches). I feel like this was just repeated over and over throughout the entire challenge. There were holes dug out in the mud so you would take a step and end up with mud up to your chin. It was fun to walk through (there was not running through this mud) and working as a team and with other Mudders helped.
11. Twinkle Toes (make your way across a log bridge without falling into a freezing cold lake). OK this is where I am going to have my first rant. Because you had to go over this ONE PERSON AT A TIME and there were about 4200 people who were doing the race at the point where we arrived there, there was a HUGE BACKUP of people. We literally waited for 20 minutes to do this!!! It really put a huge stop to your momentum and A LOT of people were cramping up and getting very annoyed with the wait. Of course since my goal was JUST NOT TO DIE- I didn't mind too much. I don't know how they could avoid this though since you do have to go one at a time to have a chance at not falling in. (sidenote- I did not fall in- GO ME!!)
12. Devil's Beard (try as you might you may get caught like a fly in a spider's web time and time again in our annoyingly low cargo nets). We were supposed to camo crawl through mud under this one. I kinda hunched over and walked through.
 **we had about a mile run here which was through a nice big field
13. Boa Constrictor (crawl through a series of pipes that may also force you through freezing muddy water). Thank goodness I am small and not claustrophobic. You went into the tubes at a downward angle which dropped you right into cold (freezing has a new connotation after the Chernobyl Jacuzzi). The other side was going up and since i was tiny i could go up on my hands and knees so it wasn't very hard for me.
14.  Walk the Plank (test your fear of heights and cold all in one with our 15 feet high splash in the pond followed by a swim back out) This one may hold many a person up. If you have any fear of jumping off high spaces (which i don't) then you would have some serious problems. It was VERY high and the water was VERY deep.  You also have to add in that your clothes and shoes pull you down while trying to swim to get out and it was one of the scarrier obstacles.
** after this we had hills which we had to maneuver which were very muddy and steep
15. Jumping Bales ( cross a field jumping from bale to bale- trust us you don't want to fall short on this one). I didn't realize that you were supposed to jump from one to the other. I did the up and over method here.
16. Gator Bait (criss cross our swampy bog while keeping an eye out for the angry reptiles, don't worry they are more afraid of you than you are of them- probably). People were screaming that there were gators here but we didn't see any gators. It was more treks through mud and muck (i don't think it was mud so much as manure.
17. The Gauntlet (prepare to feel like you are at a South American political demonstration as you get high pressure hoses from both sides). This one was kinda cheesy according to Dave. It was a large field sprinkler that misted you instead of pummeled you with water.
18. Fire Walker (plain and simple run through our blazing kerosene soaked straw- expect flames up to 4 feet high). This was an interesting obstacle which I remember mostly as a ton of smoke. I didn't really look right or left to see the flames (which were there and very real). I pulled my shirt up over my face and ran through as quickly as I could so that I didn't get a lot of smoke in my lungs. I think that it was pretty much as advertised.
19. Berlin Wall #2 (yet another set of brutal walls- don't slip off the top). So as stated before this was the obstacle that I was dreading and I didn't know that we had to do it twice. So after I finished it the first time I was so happy. This time though the walls were HIGHER and there were 2 of them to get over. We basically did this the same way as the first. My TEAM rocked. Dave would shove me up and one of the guys up top would pull me up so that I could hang over and drop down. (today my shoulders are protesting a little because of this.
20. Hold Your Wood (make like a lumberjack and drag a log up a ski slope). But we live in Florida and we don't have ski slopes, so in true lumberjack fashion we carried logs through a lake. We had 3 lifeguards in the water directing us when the water got deeper. I, in true Jama fashion, joked with the lifeguards and told them thanks for the heads up since the water was going to be up to my shoulders (where the log was). This did make me feel pretty tough (won't lie!)
21. Funky Monkey (monkey bars were easy when you were 5 but you will have to hold on extra tight to these, some of these have been greased with butter and you may get a shock when you fall in to an ice cold lake). I asked Dave if I should give this a serious try and he told me "just walk in". I don't think many people could have done this (Dave Mann did!!). All of them were greased with butter. I just took a nice little swim to clean off some of the mud.
22. Mystery Obstacle- this was a sideways wall with which you had to navigate on your toes (the strip was 1 inch wide). I made a go of this one and fell off halfway across.
23. Turds Nest (try not to fall as you make your way across this fragile net). This was the type of obstacle that would give me massive confidence because I would approach it and think "Jama- this you can do!" We crabwalked over this and compared to the other cargo nets the difficulty level was easy.
**these last 3 obstacles were the HARDEST!!!
24. Hay Bale Pyramid (when the going gets tough, the tough becomes insurmountable- hay bales in your path). This is the second point where we were stuck in traffic for 20 minutes. This pyramid was about 40 feet high and you needed help from others to be able to work your way up. Once again TEAM ATLAS to the rescue. Dave was behind me and two guys were above me and Dave would shove, James would pull, and I would jump. This was true Mudders helping each other. When going down the other side, I killed my shoulders (sorest part of my body in general!)
25. Everest (you will need help from your fellow Mudders to reach the top of the slippery giant quarter pipe). I honestly don't know how anyone does this. We were stuck here for 20 minutes waiting while people ran up and feel down. My team decided to make a human ladder to get the girls up (which I will  be eternally grateful for). Without them this is an obstacle that I really have no idea how I would have accomplished it. I watched the girls run up and try and try and then give up and walk around. I watched A LOT of guys try and quit as well. Without a team and other Mudders, there really is no way of doing this.
26. Electroshock Therapy (release your inner demons as you sprint through a field of live wire so of which carry a 10,000 volt shock). I wasn't too concerned about this one- mainly because I didn't watch video's of people doing it. Our team went through together and we all made it out with nothing but a couple little zaps. They do shoot you with water right before you go through though. I did get hit a few times and it wasn't "pleasant" but I did not get knocked to the ground.

Our team huddled up and finished together.

It was one of the BEST experiences that I have EVER had!!! I would  say that if you are going to do this race you need to have A GOOD TEAM. I would not have been able to do this race without the AMAZING TEAM ATLAS!!! Don't think that you are going to finish in a specific amount of time. Waiting for the other 6-8 thousand other people to get through some of the more tricky obstacles will deter any time goals. Go in with an attitude of have as much fun as you can and you will have FUN!! I kept saying to my team "I can't believe I am enjoying all of this". I didn't have high expectations and I was totally WRONG! If you have the opportunity to do this race I would say sign up and Embrace the Challenge.

I AM TOUGH ENOUGH- are you??

Here is the link to all of the pictures of the race. Amy had a waterproof camera and we have pictures from almost all of the obstacle. Enjoy the Craziness!!