Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Annual Christmas Card - 2013 - mCat style

A couple of years ago, I realized that I just don't have it in me to do Christmas cards.  I absolutely LOVE getting them and they go right on my fridge and hang all through the holiday season.  I love seeing everyone's family's and hearing of their adventures through the year.

But me actually SENDING some?  Yeah. Not gonna happen.  I just can't do it.  I know.....fail.  Whatev's.

So I decided to just create one on the computer and post it on the blog for EVERYONE!  Saves postage, saves me from tracking down addresses and most importantly, I don't forget anyone.  Some might call that impersonal, I call it efficient and since I know I am sincere, it's just as heartfelt.

If you're curious to see the past years editions click 2012 and then 2011...you can see how much OUR family has changed as well.

So...........(imagine a drumroll...).........

I had to get fancy this year and actually use the text feature to get all our names in.  I know, I know, it just doesn't look as crafty and misses that special touch, but hey, I can only do what I can do.

So our 2012 wrap up?

Splenda Daddy got a very nice promotion and is now a director.  I wish I could tell you which department, but if I did, then I would have to kill you.  He is uber busy and works more hours than a person should, but he likes what he does.  The commute is taking a toll, so we expect to look for housing closer to Utah County in 2014.

mCat is still running.  I hate talking in the third person, so let's just say, I had a killer personal year in the race department.  Posted a couple of course PR's.  And most importantly QUALIFIED FOR BOSTON!  Yeah.  Flights, hotel and registration are all confirmed.  We'll be heading to beantown in April of 2014.  I'm still working at Wasatch Running and loving every minute of it.  I never have to say, "I have to go to work", it's more a  "I get to go to work!"  

Corbin was able to take advantage of the government cutbacks (courtesy of the Obummer) and was granted a change in his USMC contract.  As of December 2nd, he was honorably discharged from active duty.  He now serves as an inactive reserves Marine, so.... after 3 different duty stations, some rank promotions and several leadership awards, his active duty career has come to an end.  He also got the privilege of serving as an assistant to his Ward mission leader and was honored to baptize a fellow Marine a week or two before he left.  

Karalee maintained a stellar job at being an awesome mother to Chloee.  The last few months have been stressful while waiting word on what would happen with Corbin and the Corp, but now they are home in Utah.  She was offered a job the second day they were home and she is happily working full time, while Corb now takes on the stay at home Dad role for a short period of time.  She is loving being back to work and more than anything loving being back home in Utah.  Alone out in Cali was hard for her, and I love and respect her so much for her sacrifice.  She also had the chance to serve in the Young Women's organization.  She is perfect there!

Chloee is just as adorable as ever!  HELLO!!  Can this girl get any cuter?  Or smarter?  Or sweeter?  She's the complete package this one.  Early into her school year at first grade, the school administrator approached Corb and Kar about moving her to the second grade.  She is wicked smart and ready to move forward.  Knowing that a school change was inevitable anyway, they decided to let her have a stable classroom circumstance for now.  Needless to say, she is flourishing.  Such a great reader, but more importantly, she has the sweetest personality.  She is now going to school here in Utah and so far, thriving!

Luke found the love of his life in late 2012 and in April of this year married our newest daughter-in-love Mindy.  I know I have posted about it so if you want to go back and read, feel free.  He is beyond happy.  They have a townhome in Saratoga Springs and he recently received a promotion as well.  He is a manager at Thrive and is doing very well there as well as some internet businesses he has.  They got Ally ( an older rescue) a few months ago, and he's loving his life.  He and Mindy are Nursery Leaders and to hear their stories on Sunday's are just hysterical!

Mindy has been such a blessing and asset to our family!  She just completes our little infinity loop of my children.  I feel blessed to have such wonderful women married to my sons.  She worked most of the year in the OR as a tech, and recently fulfilled her dream of working in heart and lung surgery.  This girl goes after something and works until she can achieve it!  The summer brought some health issues, and with Luke getting his promotion, they've made a wise decision to have her resign and stay home.  She'll work on her health and for now is really a blessing to Corbin and Karalee since they are staying in their home.  She works part time at a bakery out in Daybreak and spends her time working on the internet businesses and  serving other people.

Preston had a big year too.  He left Macey's grocery store and now is a Merchandiser for Swire Coca-Cola (yes, he's my new diet coke pimp).  He works long hours but makes great money.  I am so proud of  his work ethic.  Kid straight up amazes me.  Most importantly, he became a daddy in September and my biggest joy is in watching him with his daughter.  He is clearly smitten and over the moon about her and it shows in his every move.  Nothing warms a momma's heart more than to see her children become great parents.  They moved into an apartment in Sandy and thankfully, aren't too far from home.

Montana became a MOTHER!!  Yes!  And what a fantastic mother she is!  I watched her struggle with pregnancy (some early labor, hospital stays, nausea, fatigue), but handle it like a champ.  I don't think I ever heard her complain once!  She continues to work at Village Baker as a manager and even though she is only working part time, she is doing enough to give her a little break now and again and get out of the house.  And while I am glad they have their own place now, I will admit, I get lonely for her sometimes.

Addy joined the family September 26, 2012.  Addysen Sophia Catmull.  What a freakin DOLL!  She arrived safely, and in good health. She's chunking up nicely and is cooing and smiling.  So fun!  It's been a kick to pull all the baby stuff upstairs and remember when Chlo was that little.  Addy looks so much like her Momma, but on occasion she'll pull an expression that looks like Preston.  She's a beautiful combination and we couldn't be happier to have her in our family!

So that's it kids.  That's us in a nutshell for 2013.   A lot of happy, happy, happy blessings came our way.  Sometimes I get a little nervous wondering when the next big challenge will come since we all know life is expected to be hard and challenging.  For now, I'm gonna enjoy the good year and recognize that we've been blessed beyond anything we could imagine.

Here's to looking forward to 2014


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Pre Thanksgiving post - or in my case the real deal

I've posted before about our changing Thanksgiving tradition and well lookie here, I've changed it up again!

Now with all three boys married, instead of heading to the local Golden Corral, and hoping that some of them might join us, and put pressure on them for the whole "alternate every other year thing", I wanted to be selfish and unselfish at the same time.   It's hard on married couples, especially young ones to please both sets of parents.  And yet, both parents want to have their kids home for holidays. But, I just didn't feel like I could add to this for my own kids. Or even add to the stress of the other parents, who are my friends!

Instead we have now deemed the Sunday prior as OUR family Thanksgiving dinner.  Just the nuclear group.  Me, the Splenda, each boy and spouse and their children.  Of course we couldn't have Corb, Kar and Chloee this year, but knowing that they will be home next week is enough.  The rest of us gathered anyway.

One of my biggest pet peeves about cooking Thanksgiving at home is it always seems like it's just another Sunday dinner. Nothing special about it except for a change in the menu.  Instead of a typical roast, we do turkey.  Seems like such a hassle for a few minutes around the table chatting just like we do every other Sunday.  Whereas, if we hit the Golden Corral, that is different.  We NEVER go there except on Thanksgiving.  I was skeptical about changing things up and although I jumped on board, I didn't really think it would be anything special.

Splenda Daddy made sure to make it different.

We cooked the usual turkey, potatoes, gravy, yams, stuffing (Thanks Grandpa Jon), jello, corn, rolls and pumpkin dessert.  But instead, I used matching dishes (laugh if you will, it's reality kids), fancy goblets, nice serving bowls (instead of just dishing straight out of the cooking pans), napkins and a full set of cutlery.  

I know RIGHT?!?!  Go me!

After loading plates, Splenda asked everyone to go around the table and talk about what they were thankful for.  I realize that this is probably a very standard thing for most families to do, but for us, our usual dinner table banter is filled with jokes, snark, a mention of poop or two and good natured teasing.  Getting serious and thankful isn't our usual MO.

Can I just tell you how in awe I was of my kids?  Every last one of them, set aside their usual silly selves and got real.  The level of genuine and authenticity in the room was overwhelming.  Each of my sons expressed gratitude for their wives, their families, their faith, their parents, and for each other.  My sons have a unique and special relationship between the three of them.  I love it.

As I listened to my daughter-in-love's express their love and thankfulness for their husbands, the hard work and ability to provide for them and their families, for being a part OUR family, and for their health and happiness, my heart started pounding and the little salty discharge that leaks from my eyes occasionally, started to pool up.

It then was Splenda's turn.  He tried to make me go first so he could go last, but we all know how that argument would end up.  Him doing the right thing and going first.

I listened to my cute husband talk about how much he loved his God, his testimony, his children (all of them), his grand girls, and now I was afraid I wasn't even going to be able to choke out words.  Seriously.  I was pretty much done for.

And then.  There they are.  All looking at me and waiting for me to speak.  How can I possibly follow all that?  Everything I felt was already expressed and looking at them, was like looking into a mirror.  Only I feel like the reflection back to me was much better than what I was putting out.

I choked out some feelings, leaked from my eyes and then in true mCat form, cracked a joke of some sort and made everyone start eating.

Food was good.
Conversation was better.
Spirit felt was best.

I think I really like this new tradition.  Come Thursday?  Splenda Daddy and I will go run a 5k, and then maybe come home and take a nap.  Maybe a movie.  Maybe clean the house.  Maybe go visit some family without pressure of what time to be there, and what to bring for a meal.  Maybe nothing.  

At any rate, we will be stress free.  Our kids will be stress free.  It will truly be a Thankful day for just 'being'. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The viral Facebook game and my answers

Anyone on Facebook has seen this game making the rounds, and the rounds, and the ROUNDS.  Someone gives you a number and then you have to list that many things about you that people might not know.

And I will admit, I love reading stuff that I didn't know about some of my friends.  There has been some pretty cool stuff put out there.  Of course, simply by "liking" a few of them, I was assigned a number and sucked into the play.  
Being the contrary person I am sometimes, I decided to play with a twist.
Below is my post:

So this whole numbers game thingie that seems to be puking itself all over facebook.....

I admit to enjoying reading new things about my friends, but feel such pressure to play when I really don't think I have anything unknown about me. 

So I'm giving it a twist. I was assigned the number 9. I'm listing 9 things about me. Two of them are lies. Guess which ones.

1. Everyone called me Missy as a little girl.
2. I ran XC in high school.
3. My dad died when I was 14 and it sucked.
4. Splenda Daddy and I met on a blind date.
5. I have the weirdest food aversions known to man.
6. I often think I'm fat
7. Splenda Daddy and I have matching tattoos that we got when we were first married, young and stupid.
8. I cannot picture my life without a dog in it.
9. I bottle fed baby kittens when their mother abandoned them at birth.

Have fun! (or not - you can think it's dumb, 'sokay)

Ask me how FUN it's been to see the guesses!  Holy smokes!  Things that I thought were obvious lies, people believed, and things that are true, others have thought were impossible to believe.  So rather than just post the two lies, I thought I'd make a post out of it, and expound on each one.

1.  Everyone called me Missy as a little girl - TRUE.  When I moved to a completely different high school my sophomore year of school, I decided that I no longer liked Missy and wanted to be a little more "sophisticated" with Melissa.  At this point in my life, I get called both (even though mCat is the most common) and I don't mind any of them.  I actually kind of like Missy now.

2.  I ran XC in high school - FALSE.  Nope.  Not even THOUGHT about running track, or team anything.  I ran on my own because I liked to run.  I wasn't consistent and had no idea what I was doing, but I do remember the feeling I had when I would get back to the house ready to vomit from fatigue.  And I liked it.

3.  My dad died when I was 14.  And it sucked - TRUE.  That would probably require a whole post itself, and I'm not in the mood, but yes it's true.  He was only 36.  Ask me how hard THAT birthday was for me?  And as any child who experiences the loss of a parent while they are young, the grieving process is life long  There are key, pivotal times in your life that you really, REALLY wish your missing parent was there.  So in a sense, it still sucks.

4.  Splenda Daddy and I met on a blind date - TRUE.  In fact, if anyone searched my blog, they would find a post about it.  I was scared of him, and smitten all at the same time.  It's been 30 years and I'm no longer scared, just smitten.

5.  I have the weirdest food aversions known to man - TRUE.  This was an obvio one.  And unless you really want to be confused, don't ask.  Just....... I have some serious food aversions.

6.  I often think I'm fat - TRUE.  And before anyone start formulating any kind of comment to deflect that, remember this - no matter what size a person is, there are always some body image hang ups.  Considering that I once weighed over 165 pounds, I often still see the fat girl in the mirror.  No matter what anyone says.  And that's a battle that many women face daily.

7.  Splenda Daddy and I have matching tattoos that we got when we were first married, young and stupid - FALSE.  I'm not a fan of large elaborate tat's, but I've made no secret that I would have one if I didn't have my particular belief system about my body.  But know this, if the prophet of my church came out and said a small one on my right ankle in the form of an infinity symbol was okay, I would be ALL OVER IT.

8.  I cannot picture my life without a dog in it - TRUE.  I actually don't ever remember a period of my life that I didn't have at least one dog.  I love them. Most every breed, and yes I grieve when they pass away, but then I'm ready for a new one.  They are members of my family. 

9.  I bottle fed baby kittens when their mother abandoned them at birth - TRUE.  Gotcha on this one!  Everyone knows my dislike of cats so how on earth would I be caught actually attempting to keep some alive?  I was 15, we had a cat who gave birth under my bed and then disappeared.  After some sad crying and freaking out, we were given some instructions from a vet on what and how to feed them and I proceeded to do my very best.  One by one, they died.  Usually right while I was holding them.  Traumatizing really.  I suppose that's why I detest cats now.  

So.  Now you know.  It was fun adding the little twist and seeing what people thought was either true or false. And please, I beg of you, if I "like" your status on your own list, don't assign me a number.  I'm all played out over here.

Friday, November 15, 2013

St George Marathon 2013 - the one where my legs felt like lead, but I still pulled off a course PR

Oh my beloved St George Marathon.  The one I love so very, very much!

This was my 4th year and while I missed a super important commitment back up in Northern Utah on the same day, at least I had a great experience AGAIN with this event.

Becca and I headed down Thursday night in preparation for the expo Friday.

Of course, a nice easy run was in order Friday morning.  Nothing long or hard, just enough to stretch out the legs and enjoy the sunshine.

The Expo is one of my favorite parts of the weekend.  I love the energy of all the runners and vendors.  D, Becca and M, and I had a great time chatting with people, talking running, the course and I had a sweet visit with some fb/irl friends!
(Doug, me and Monique)

I was able to sneak away early, grabbed some dinner and crashed back at the hotel.  I laid out all my race gear and then climbed in bed to attempt as much sleep as possible.

Gosh that alarm goes off early.  Race day is ALWAYS early!  I quietly got ready (so as not to wake up Sleeping Beauty Becca), and made my way down to the lobby to catch a ride in the shuttle to the start line.

As I got to the buses, I started texting a friend trying to connect up at the start line.  We never made it on the same bus, but eventually found one another at the fires.

Love me the fires.

The start line was cold this year.  Colder than it has ever been in my experience down there.  I was grateful for my tights, blankie, gloves and the direct source of heat from the fire.  That's the one advantage of taking one of the first buses.  I also love to just listen to others talking, feel the energy, think over the course and try to start some positive talk in my head.  This particular morning was especially relaxing.  No pressure.  I had already qualified for Boston, so that monkey was off my back.  I really didn't set any expectations for myself other than to post something respectable.

Soon enough, we made our way over to the trucks and I hucked my drop bag in.  Somewhere, in the chaos of the porta potties, bag drop off and trying to find the 3:45 pacer, I missed the national anthem.  At this point, runners were moving forward and we were off.

Hit my Garmin right at the start pad and then tried to find a pace amongst all the runners.  It's usually pretty crowded at the start and that's okay.  Lot's of weaving around and trying to find an open space.  Again, since I had no specific goal or expectation, I was okay with some jostling.

The first 3-4 miles were pretty cold.  I actually ran with my space blanket wrapped around me, my gloves and my long sleeve 3/4 zip top.   It wasn't until about mile 5 or 6 that I ditched the space blanket.  Another half mile, I ditched the top and by the time I was ready to climb Vejo hill, I wiped my nose one last time and then ditched the gloves.

The dreaded Vejo hill.  I've run this now 4 years in a row and every year I am confident that I remember what I'm in for, and every year I realize that I am not.

Seriously.   My legs felt like lead.  Back at mile 5 they were sluggish, but now.....lead.  I kept thinking "what the crap is wrong with me?"  Thinking that once I crested the hill, they would come back to life.

Nope.  Slogging, slogging, slogging........  I started looking forward to every aid station so that I could use that as an excuse to walk through.  I took my time fueling, and drinking, and.........slogging.

As I started down Snow Canyon, a familiar shirt passed by.  I recognized a runner from the store's training group so I caught up and said hello.  Clearly, I wasn't gonna be keeping pace with him for long, so wished him well and on I slogged.

At this point now, it was just make it to the next aid station.  My legs are hurting, they feel like they weigh 100 pounds each and all I really want to do is jump into the sag wagon and go home.  This is where it all becomes a mental game.

You know the game in which your body is saying "ENOUGH ALREADY" but your mind keeps saying "but if you quit, that's another DNF.  That sucks more than anything.  Do you really want that next to your name?  How about making it to the next aid station and then seeing how you feel?"

This was the game for the rest of the course.  Each aid station, I would walk through, get some fuel, drink some liquids, have someone rub either bengay, or bio freeze on my right hip and IT band.  After stalling as long as I could, then I'd pick up the shuffle again and start the talk all over for the next two miles until the next aid station.

I love when we come downhill into town.  The crowds ALWAYS give me a boost!  By now, the temperature was absolutely perfect, the sun was out, hundreds of people cheering and lots of motivational signs.  Now is the time to let all the positive vibes outweigh the negative that your body thinks it needs to spew forth.

I remembered the section where they pass out popsicles.  Oh, how I wanted a popsicle.  Not because I was hot, but I wanted the sugar.  And YES!  They did not disappoint.  Got my beloved treat and then talked myself into making it to the next landmark.  The cold wet cloths.  In past years, when it's been blazing hot, those cold wet rags are lifesavers.  This year, I was grateful for them to be able to wipe off the sticky from my hands.  It was refreshing, and just enough to carry me to the last block and the final turn.

I had long given up looking at my Garmin since my strategy had been to go from aid station to aid station.  As I turned and headed towards the finish line, I began hoping that I had at least done some kind of respectable time.  I had no expectation of doing anything better.

As the crowds thickened and the chute narrowed, I was somehow able to pick up my pace ever so slightly.  I love finding some juice at the very, very end.  Next thing I know I hear, "HEY MCAT!!!"  I turn and see my friend Doug waving and cheering me on!  Okay.  That was all I needed for the last few feet!

I sprinted in and looked at the clock.  Wha??  I looked down at my Garmin.  What in the world?!?!
4:17 ??   My best time for this course.  Huh.

Holy freakin smokes!!  For feeling like utter crap for 21 miles of the 26.2 - I had actually pulled off my fastest time for that course!  Well lookie at that!  NGL - big smile on my face.  Happiness and every ache and pain magically disappeared replaced by the high only a runner at the end of a hard race can understand.

I grabbed a bottled water, walked through the runner's area and made my way over to WRC's Grand Slam tent.  Becca, D and M were there handing out Grand Slam medals.  I ditched my shoes and socks, and put on my flip flops and wrapped in my blankie that Becca had brought with her for me.  I stretched, relived my race and basked in what can only be described and happy, happy wonderment.

I checked my official results on their mobile app (matched my Garmin), grabbed my race shirt, retrieved my bag and then searched the discarded clothing piles to see if I could find my long sleeve 3/4 zip.

By noon or so, Becca and I were gassing up the car, getting some food and hitting the road for the drive home.  Thankfully, she was driving and I could just relax, stretch and close my eyes now and again.

Love having another STG marathon in the books.  I love this event.  I love the organizers, the expo, the course, the runners and the support of the community.  I also saw one of my new favorite signs: "Great job perfect stranger!"  How awesome is that?  One stranger cheering on, encouraging, and happy for another stranger.

You know what?  At races I never see signs like: "You suck" or  "Go idiot go!" or "What in the world were you thinking dumba**?"  Yet, every day we say or think those things of others.  Huh.  Something to consider.

Thanks to Becca, my WRC family, my supportive friends and family for another wonderful experience!

*yeah, I know I don't have very many pictures this year.....it just kinda got by me but if you REALLY want, you can read about my previous experiences




Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The longest labor + the fastest delivery = A Very Happy Family

I don't know which felt longer to me, my pregnancy with Corbin or Montana's with Addy.  Holy Smokes!  From week 31 when she had contractions, began to dilate, completely efface, spend a week in the hospital and then weeks after on bed rest it seemed that we bounced from fear of Addysen coming too soon to frustration that she would never come!

Let me start off by saying that seriously, Montana is the best pregnant mother I've ever seen.  I think her chill attitude is what has set the whole tone of a smooth entrance and start of a beautiful life for her daughter.

After weeks of bedrest while dilated to a three and fully effaced, medication and a few times of being sent back home from the hospital, the kids weren't expecting a whole lot when they went to a regularly scheduled OB appointment. After the doc checked Montana she looked at her oddly and said, "I don't understand how you're here and not downstairs in labor and delivery"  Seems that she was now dilated to a 6 and while her contractions hadn't much changed since previously, it was enough to be considered active labor.
a minor contraction just for documentation sake

They each called their moms as they headed downstairs and assigned to a room. Jace was already at my house from a sleepover anyway so no worries about him.  We gathered and literally within a short period of time, she had pitocin started, her water broken and an epidural placed.  Next thing we know, the nurses are doing another check, telling us that they are ready to push and letting us get our last hugs in before we headed down the hall to anxiously wait.
right before pushing - how do they look so calm?

Only a few minutes passed before we heard the nurse come out and page the doc letting her know that she needed to hurry and that she was ready to go.

Literally 6 pushes later (and having to stop pushing to wait for doc) beautiful, sweet, perfect, little Addysen Sophia Catmull made her grand entrance!  She took to her mama right away, so we continued to wait out in the waiting room for about an hour while the sweet little family bonded and spent special time all alone.  Just as it should be!

To express my emotions when first seeing them would be impossible.  There is literally nothing quite compared to seeing your child become a parent.  The wonder in their eyes and the love overwhelm them is palpable.  I remembered how Corbin looked after Chloee was born and Preston was no less in love with his own daughter.

And Montana?  Holy smokes!  Glowing, feeling good, looking even better and I just sat amazed at how they just breezed through the whole thing.

Look at her look at her Momma?  Precious!

First time mom's are kept for 48 hours here and they were smart to let Addy go to the nursery at nighttime so they could sleep.  The timing couldn't have been any better with it being on Preston's already schedule days off.  Really?  Perfection.  The whole thing reeked of perfection!

love me a thumbsucker!

Preston is a very "hands on" Daddy.  Love to see him so engaged and involved

At a little over two weeks old now, things are cruising right along.  Her check up's have all gone well.  A little jaundice but nothing no other newborn doesn't have.  She is nursing well, and loves to just be held.  She is honestly so sweet and calm, I'm just amazed all the time. I really credit the kids for that.  Both Montana and Preston are pretty chill people.  Calm, relaxed and easy going.  Clearly, it translates to their daughter and their little family just couldn't be any cuter!  I love seeing what great parents they are!  My little baby boy now a daddy himself.  My little Montana who was my beehive in Young Women's now the mother of my granddaughter!  Icing on the cake is being able to share in this experience with my friend Dana.  Our kids love each other and make a wonderful family.  It's fun to share baby moments together and to see her be a grandma for the first time.
If she's hungry enough, she'll even suck her Daddy's face :)

gas bubble smiles are so fun!

Life is beautiful.
Life is good.
And this Mimi feels pretty darn blessed.

Welcome Addy  - I L Y P I!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Bone cancer blows

(Jamie and her three beautiful kids)

I don't normally post requesting donations, but my daughter-in-love knows this family and her situation is pretty dire.  If you have a spare dollar, please consider donating to this mother of three battling stage 3 bone cancer.


As is often posted on facebook - "I wish cancer would get cancer and die"


PS - side note - they are also collecting yarn because her family is going to knit pot holders to sell to raise money.  An example of ones that are doing all they can to help themselves as well.  So - if you don't have spare dollars, but have yarn (and are local) that would be appreciated too.  Get at me.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wednesday's Wrandom Wrambling

It's been a long time since I wrote a wrambling post.

Today my youngest turns 22.  TWENTY TWO YEARS OLD!   I must have had him when I was 12.  'Cause I am seriously not that old.  Nope.

Still on baby watch.  I swear to you, this has been the longest labor I have ever known.  Truly.  She's been in somewhat active labor for almost 6 weeks.  My heart goes out to my daughter-in-love.  I am just weary FOR her.  If I could do it for her, I totally would.  Poor thing.

It would be fun if Addysen decided to come today.  Being her daddy's birthday and all.  I share my birthday with my Daddy and I always thought it was super cool.  And he would make a big deal about letting it be MY day.  

*sigh*  Fingers crossed and praying hard.

I also find out today if I made it into the Boston Marathon.  Just posting a qualifying time isn't enough.  Too many people and too little slots.  The choices are made based on speed.  My two minute and 8 second cushion, I fear will not be enough.  In all reality, it's okay.  My only goal was to actually qualify.  BUT, if I do somehow scrape in, flights will be booked and accommodations will be sought.  I'm looking at YOU Countess.  

And for those naysayers who think that Big Cottonwood is an easy course to qualify on.  I ask you:  Have YOU run it?  Have YOU qualified on it?  It's harder than it would seem.  People look at the 19 miles of downhill and think it's a piece of cake.  Not so much.  I'm going to be proud of my accomplishment despite some detracting grumblings going around. Sooo...suck it.

We are back to an empty nest.  Kids are back out in an apartment.  Just me and the Splenda Daddy rattling around the house.  Makes me want to get it all fixed up and sell the sucker.  Downsize and get rid of the big yard.  Maybe closer to Splenda's work.  Decisions, decisions.

I've had some weird allergic reaction to something on my eyes and my lids are all dry, itchy and scaly.  I threw out all my make up and have been going "naked" for several days.
It isn't pretty.  I frighten people.  Good thing I replaced it all and maybe today will try to look normal.

Ever gotten an autumn cold that just kinda lingers?  Doesn't blow up into a full on sinus infection or URI requiring serious drugs, just an annoyance?
Just wondering.

Jace had a sleep over last night.  Fascinates me to watch these dogs be absolutley SO HAPPY to be with each other.  Unabashed joy. 
People could take a lesson.

Let's talk Breaking Bad.  Holy.Smokes!
Seriously, never has a series gotten a hold of my attention like this one has.  The writing, the story lines, the characters, the directing.  All stellar.  Pretty raw and not for everyone, but dang!
Series finale is on Sunday and I approach it with mixed emotions.  Part of me is ready for some closure, and part of me will miss these sad, despicable people.
Baby stepping to Sunday night.

Speaking of despicable.  Anyone else watching the news lately and just wishing for Jesus to come already?
No?  Just me?

On that note - I'm out.

Peace and blessings yo

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Big Cottonwood Marathon 2013 - Going Big and reaching my goal!

I'm still trying to absorb the feelings and come off the high that's been mine since Saturday.  Remember how I paced this race last year?  If you're interested, it was one of my better posts and actually got published in Utah Running sooooo......there's that.  You can click here to read it, but then come right back 'cause this one's good too :)

After seeing what a fantastic job the RD's did with this event, how pretty it was and the course, I decided that THIS year, I wanted to race it.  And not only did I want to race it, I wanted to race fast enough to finally reach my Boston Qualifying time.  For those that don't know, not just everyone gets to run the Boston Marathon.  Based on age and gender, you have to run a certain pace.  I've been chasing this for over 4 years now.  It's kind of a big deal, and for most marathon runners, a goal on their bucket list.

I registered early and then kind of put it out of my mind, it was months away so no serious training needed to happen just yet.  Ran a few events here and there, kept my health up and ran with no agenda other than enjoying the pure fact that compared to this time last year, I can actually RUN!

As time drew closer, I realized that I've been chasing a BQ for years with no success.  Clearly, I must not know what I'm doing.  I turned to an expert at work and D put together a plan for me.  Granted that plan didn't get started until 3 weeks prior, but I had been running and trying to increase my speed the best I knew how.

I followed D's plan to the letter. Some of the workouts, I did great, and some were, uh.....not so great.  But I followed them anyway and did the best I could.

The week before race day, I seriously started thinking about needing a pacer.  Someone who would be willing to run at the pace I needed and to help keep me focused.  I had planned on sticking with one the race provided for my BQ time, but rumors were floating that there wouldn't be one.  I knew, in my heart of hearts, I couldn't do this on my own.  I needed someone to push me when I needed pushing and hold me back when I needed holding.

I belong to several running groups out there on FB so I threw out the request and sure enough, a good friend, loyal customer, experienced runner/pacer offered.  I jumped at his kindness and after making sure he wasn't sacrificing a BQ or PR for himself, gratefully snagged his expertise.

Race day dawned bright and early as it usually does.  I got up even earlier than normal just so that I wouldn't be rushed in getting my things together.  Drank my monster, ate my maple bar (all race day tradition), gear packed and then waited for my buddy Chad to pick me up (he kindly offered to let me catch a ride to the start line since Splenda Daddy would be at the finish to drive me home).

Great time to catch up with Chad.  Since I've switched gyms, I haven't seen my work out buddies in a long time so we had a nice chat as we made our way to the parking lot and the bus loading area.
(i needed the flash...)

Once at the bus loading area, I hooked up with Galen and some other running friends of his and we got loaded.  The bus ride up to the start of a marathon is the WORST!  GAH!  It feels so long as you watch the road and realize that you are going to be running ALL OF THIS in just a short period of time.  Plus, with the winding canyon I started to get a little car sick.

As we approached a corner, we were stopped in our tracks.  A bus just ahead of us, cut the corner too close and ended up high centered.  What the NUT?!?!  Huh.  So......how exactly are we going to get to the start line?  People started getting off the bus to check it out, see if there was something we could do, while I could hear the bus drivers chatting on their radio's about how the situation was going to get fixed.
(high centered Le Bus)

(all the buses behind us with marathoners trying to get to the start line)

We finally got word to start walking and there would be some shuttle buses on the other side to get us the rest of the way.  That walking felt good.  I had started feeling pretty light headed and queasy from the bus ride and the cool mountain air, and walking was helping to clear my head.

We reached the shuttle bus, loaded and rode the rest of the way to the start at Guardsman Pass.  A porta potty break, finding some friends and snapping some pictures
(it was absolutely beautiful)

(Kris, me, Galen and Chad.  Love these boys!)

The starting time was behind schedule, but I don't think people really cared, we were just glad to be at the start line and ready to go.  I dropped off my bag, made sure I had my stuff and lined up with Galen and a few of his friends.

Next thing you know....we're off!

The first three miles are super steep down hill, so I was careful to make sure and watch my stride.  I feared getting so amped that I blew out too fast.  I made sure to not overreach and found a comfortable pace.  Galen and I were chatting and so far so good.

Several miles in, Galen began giving me some pointers on cadence and reminded me not to talk.  He would only ask me yes or no questions and then filled in the rest of the time with all kinds of chatter.  BLESS THAT MAN!  I can't even tell you how fast time and miles flew by.  I was so busy listening to him and his stories that I wasn't paying attention to what I was feeling or if I was getting tired.  I was just enjoying a nice run with a great partner!

D had warned me about coming out of the canyon too fast and if I hit the bottom at 1:50 or faster that I had gone too quickly and I would be doomed.  As we came through the bottom, I noted that we were at 2 and some change or so, so I felt good about that.  I had long ditched my hand held water bottle when Galen reminded me that it added 8 extra heart beats per minute.  I wasn't taking any chances!  If I didn't get my water bottle back, well then so be it - I wanted every advantage I could get.

As we exited the canyon and crossed the blvd to a bike path, I was thanking the officers and noticed my friend Paul among them!  GAH!!  I started yelling at him, he saw me, hollered back and that exchange amped me for the next mile or so.  Then I came upon Chad's mom Sal, waved and shouted hello to her and heard her cheering me on.  Wow - the power that comes from encouragement!

I started to feel some fatigue at this point.  Galen was doing his best to distract me.  I couldn't believe it when he pulled out some information and read to me the history of the old mill.  AND STILL RUN!

(clearly I am not a pretty runner - but hey - I don't even give a rat's a** right now)

We kept going although I think our pace was starting to slow a bit.  When we got out of the canyon I had banked about 17 minutes but I could feel that was getting chipped away.  At about mile 20 is when I felt the wheels come off.

My legs hurt.  I was tired.  I wanted to be done.  I came up on a friend who is one of the strongest runners I know, and he was walking.  What the NUT?!?!  I tried to encourage him, but he was done.  Galen called me forward and reminded me to keep my cadence.
"Cadence is your friend"

We talked military and the jody calls that are often done during drill runs.  He explained that those calls are designed to keep on cadence.  So he was would start calling something and I would answer in my head so I could keep the count.  Or, I would simply count in my head to try and stay on beat.

At one particular water stop, I slowed to walk through it and that walking felt so good, I couldn't bear to start running again.  The fast pace earlier had caught up to me, and I was feeling it.
 I thank God, for Galen.

He encouraged me to pick it back up, find the cadence and then started talking again to distract me.
As we passed by the area where the Cottonwood Mall used to exist, I passed a kid off to the side VIOLENTLY VOMITING.  Not just a lean over and puke, but it was violent.  The vomiting that comes from so far down in your gut, it knocks you off your feet.  If you know me, I am a sympathetic vomiter, so just seeing or hearing it will start the gag reflex in me, so actually, that side show helped me keep running.  

Once past him though, the sun was coming out, it was getting hot and I was fading faster than ever.  Galen proposed a 90 second run, with a 30 second walk.  Okay.  I can do that.  I listened for the beeps on his Garmin like I was watching for the Second Coming!  Those blessed beeps!

We did that for a mile or so, and then he looked at his watch calculated what needed to happen in order for me to reach my goal and flat out said to me: "This is what I need from you"
Now normally, my natural instinct would be an itchy middle finger, but too much was riding on this.  I didn't feel like I could do it, but I then also thought of all my friends who were cheering me on.  Who were WILLING me to get this BQ.  Who had even sacrificed chocolate in solidarity of my reaching my goal!  And I looked at Galen as my mentor who knew what he was doing and was being honest in telling me what I had to dig for.

Dig I did.

My whole mental focus at that point was to just.keep.running.  No more walking.  Run.  I heard Galen singing the USMC song and that got stuck in my head.  That was my song for the rest of the entire race.
"From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli......"
Oh how I love it!

We came up on another friend who is wicked fast, and I realized that the course was taking it's toll on many of us.

As we came up on Scott I said, "Hey, no way in hell are you gonna let me pass you.  Let's go!"  He turned back, smiled and replied "I've been waiting for the day to hear you to say that to me!"

At this point, the spectators are piling up. Anytime we passed someone Galen would point to me and tell them that I was going to qualify for Boston.  They would CHEER EVEN LOUDER!  Oh my gosh!  The feelings those cheers invoked are impossible to describe.

We rounded the corner and now the street was lined with people.  Galen kept pointing to me and telling everyone about me qualifying.  People would cheer.

I passed some friends and their high fives gave me some juice, I rounded the second to last corner and saw a dear friend, who I didn't expect to see, cheering me on - more juice!

As we came into the final chute, I. WAS. AMPED!
The chute was lined with hundreds of spectators and right in the middle Galen shouted and pointed to me "This is her Boston Qualifier!"

The crowd's reaction is something I will never forget as long as I live.  I have never had that many people cheering, clapping, hooting and hollering for me in my entire life!

Literally, adrenaline or endorphins or SOMETHING went coursing through my body and the physical feeling is not something I think I can ever describe.  Simply amazing.

I glanced up at the clock, realized I had made my goal with a few minutes to spare and crossed the line with a smile I think I won't be able to get off my face and soul for a long time to come.

Once I stopped, I started to sway and stumble.  I had been seeing black spots since about mile 20 and now, it was even worse.  I hugged Galen, hugged Scott, staggered around while Galen handed me my medal.  Got a water bottle pressed into my hand.  Grabbed by Ana for another hug and then staggered over to a cooler where I could sit down.  

Splenda Daddy found me, more hugs and now some tears.  I did it.  I really, finally did it!

Galen got us some popsicles and then after another picture, he was assured I was in good hands and he went off to find other runner friends and congratulate them.
(this man has my undying loyalty, love and friendship)

I sat trying to soak it all in.  Trying to absorb what had just really happened.  My head was buzzing and I still wasn't seeing clearly, but my oh my.....how good did I feel?!

Found another runner friend Rob - exchanged hugs and warrior stories from the race.  Splenda Daddy went off to see if he could find the official race results.  I found what I thought was the line for a massage and called Tib, Corb and sent texts to dear friends that I knew were waiting for word.

I found out the line I was standing in was for physical therapy.  I didn't need that so I wandered over to the correct place where Mindi found me for another sweaty hug!  GAH!!  I just don't even know how to explain how I felt!

Discovered that they were no longer offering massages, and Splenda couldn't find the official results tent so we bailed with the idea that I needed to get on line ASAP and get in the queue for Boston registration.

As I sat in the car on the way home, I relived the whole thing for Splenda Daddy.  Now I could cry.  Now I could express exactly how I felt and how grateful I was for Galen.  I could NOT have done it without him.  I can do hard things yes, but I also know that mentally, I would have given in.  And he never left my side for that to happen.  I am so blessed to call him friend and can never adequately express my gratitude to him.

Home, to an ice bath, Splenda Daddy trying feverishly to get me registered (Ended up having to wait until Monday) and trying to absorb the reality of what I had accomplished.  

A dream that almost every marathoner has.  I dream and goal I've been chasing for years.
I did it.  I finally. For reals. 
Did it!

Final Results:

And for the first time in I think, like ever, Splenda Daddy has something to contribute to this post.  In his words:
When I woke up that morning I looked outside as saw cloudy skies with no rain. I knew it was perfect running weather and would help Melissa run faster. I drove to the high school and waited for her to finish. The race had been going on for 3:30 minutes and I knew she needed to finish before the 3:55 mark to qualify for Boston. I set my phone timer to count down from 25 minutes so I could track her progress without constantly looking back at the official clock. When the timer got down to 10 minutes I found myself looking at the timer every minute. I had felt all morning she was going to make the time but began to get nervous as the time ticked away. I looked at my timer and saw 4 minutes left. As I looked up I thought I saw her about 75 yard out but was blocked out by some of the runners. As she got closer I could see it was her. I knew she is going to make the time and my adrenaline kicked in. As she came around the corner I yelled “You’re going to make it!” but she couldn’t hear me. The crowd was cheering for her because a guy was telling everyone “She is going qualifying for Boston”. As I saw her pass me she ran like she was starting the race. No pain, lots of energy and a big smile on her face. It was true happiness. Something money and fame cannot give you. Happiness comes when you do something very hard and see the positive results. I was so proud of her!

Isn't he so cute?  Love me my Splenda!  He got some fun video too, and I'll post it once we can figure out how to get it off his phone (stupid Smart Talkie Walkie Boxie Thingie's)

A huge thanks to:

Big Cottonwood RD's - You guys threw on another stellar event.  There were unanticipated hiccups, but you dealt with them perfectly!  See you next year!

D - for your training plan and encouragement.  He's a man of few words, but he gave me enough to believe in myself and to know what to do in the final weeks of training.

Q friends - you know who you are, and the thought of disappointing you kept me going.

Galen - there are no words my brother.  Simply, no words even adequate to express my gratitude for you.

Splenda  Daddy - I knew you were at the finish line.  I knew that YOU knew how much this meant to me.  More than anyone else could possibly know.  Your smiling face brought all the emotions full circle. And thank you for trying so hard to get me in the queue for Boston all Saturday afternoon.

I am such a lucky, blessed girl.  Surrounded with good friends who cheered me right through to the finish.  Some of them were clear across the country, some right there in the actual finish chute, either way, the good vibes were felt and I appreciate them.

Never underestimate the power of a pacer.  A good, experienced pacer.  They can make or break you.  G is the MAN!

More importantly, never underestimate the power of happiness, encouragement, and a smile for others.  So many complete strangers made this such an amazing experience.  What power can we have for good simply by being happy for others?  By smiling.  By offering words of encouragement?

Do it.  The world needs more if it.  

This event's tag line is Go Big.

I think of adapting that to not just yourself, but Go Big for others.  We're all running a hard race, and while some of us are struggling at a particular mileage point, maybe walking and simply putting one foot in front of another, or maybe we're off to the side on a break violently vomiting and purging some negativity, toxicity, addiction.... out of our lives or maybe we're running strong and feeling good - we never know what the next mile will bring us.  Go Big in being kind, tolerant, happy and constantly encouraging others along.  

We're all trying to make it to the same finish line.  Rather than battle and fight it all the way, 
Go Big and make the journey one of happiness, growth and friendship.

Post Script: Because of my time, I wasn't allowed to register for Boston 2014 until Monday morning.  Because there are more people wanting in than there are spots for, they are going to give slots based on speed.  Not sure that my 2 minute and 8 second cushion will be enough but it's okay.  I qualified.  For me, that will do for now. But you betcha my fingers are crossed!.