Sunday, October 10, 2010

Friends in Need...are friends indeed!

Friday afternoon, Will came home and told me that we were going to spend Saturday morning volunteering. He had called United Way and found a place that we could take the boys and do some much needed work.  My first thought- "What about my long run?" (Selfish, but true.) He told me to go on my run and not to worry about volunteering.  He would take the boys.  Uh. Yeah right.  I can't bear when my family does anything without me and to do service without me?!  Absolutely no way I could deal with the guilt. After all, I guess I could run later in the day. So, I tapped into his enthusiasm and we headed out Saturday morning to Friends in Need Animal Rescue.

When we arrived, we were greeted by Karen, who founded the place along with her husband.  She gave us brushes and let us get in with the pygmy goats and brush them.  The boys and I were really excited to bond with the little goats but Will asked if he could just brush them from outside the gate. Too funny. After everyone laughed at him, he realized that maybe that was a silly notion and he, quite uncomfortably, came in with us. Here we are letting the goats get used to us being in there with them.
Coleman loved the goats.  There was one little goat, Annie, that loved being brushed.   Many of the animals at this animal rescue had been neglected and mistreated in the past so it was so great to be able to spend some time with them and show them a little attention.
After our time with the goats, Karen put us to work painting a couple of their new animal enclosures.  The boys worked hard and without complaining. I was really proud of them. The geese were honking away at us while we worked and Coleman said they were saying "Thank You" because we were painting their houses. I like to think so, too.
 This first one was going to be used in the goat enclosure.
This one was built for the doves.
Cooper took his work very seriously. And no complaining! That's a first for him. :)
So, am I glad I skipped my run to go and volunteer at Friends in Need? Absolutely! A wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning. We were blessed to see the wonderful work they do there and already have plans to go back this Thursday!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Our 2nd annual Disneyland trip!

Now that we've gone twice- it's considered a tradition, right? Well, I love this new tradition! Once again, we had such a blast soaking up the sun in Southern California. And once again, we took advantage of every second of this week long trip. Here is a Disneyland 2010 Top 10!

1. The most memorable moment of the whole trip, for us and the boys alike, was the Jedi Training Academy. Cooper had talked about nothing else the entire time leading up to the trip.  He knew that he was destined to be a Jedi. And we were going to have to make it happen. He would need to be picked out of the crowd to participate so we figured our best bet would be to go to the first show of the day. So, we did. And guess what? He wasn't picked.  So we came back an hour later for the second show. This time, the Jedi must have felt the force was strong in our family because both boys got picked!  They were so excited.  Here's little Cooper getting suited up. He was all business.
     And Coleman ready for training.
    After being properly trained, the boys got a chance to fight Darth Vader himself!

    We've now been home from this trip for 4 weeks and Cooper is still totally obsessed with everything Star Wars. Anything he can turn into a lightsaber, he does. Yesterday, it was a dowel rod from my cake decorating bin. The day before that, a mailing tube.  Before Disneyland, he had Jedi tendencies.  After, he is a Jedi master second only to Yoda.

    2. This year, Grandma and Grandpa Verburg accompanied us to SoCal.  It was so fun to have them there with us!  Not to mention, really nice to actually be able to go on a couple "grown-up" rides while they watched the boys. God bless grandparents!  Here are some cute shots with Grandma and Grandpa. Love them! I am blessed with amazing in-laws!

    3. One of the first things Coleman said after getting to Disneyland- "I love my life!"  And he said it so emphatically!  He really meant it.  Makes a mom and dad feel really great!  We got treated to this fun mantra a couple more times on this trip, too.

    4. You may know that Will is training for his first MMA amateur fight but you wouldn't guess it to see how much of a wimp he is on rides.  Case in point-
     scared on Tower of Terror

    scared on Space Mountain

    really scared on Splash Mountain (this one may be a bit of a stretch)

    missing from this photo because he was too scared to get on the Ferris Wheel

    But don't worry, he eventually found something that was more his speed...

    5. What in the world did we eat to fuel all this fun while we were at Disneyland, you ask?  Well, we ate our weight in turkey legs, of course!  The turkey legs are amazing and we convinced ourselves they were health food and provided us plenty of protein to fuel our muscles so we ate plenty!  At $8 each they were not cheap but what is at Disneyland?!
    Notice the grease smudge in the middle of our "sharing" pic?  Oh yeah! Health food! Ha ha!

    6.  Speaking of food, this year we took a mental health day while in SoCal and ventured away from the park and out into the real world.  We spent a leisurely day at the Asian mall in Little Saigon and at the LA Farmers Market.  I think both of these places are going to part of our yearly itinerary from now on.  Just look at all the yummy food we bought that day!  Asian, Cajun and French food + treats from the bakery and chocolate shop. Oh man!  It's a wonder I didn't gain more weight than I did that week!

    7. Coleman has turned into our very own Forrest Gump as of lately.  From being in a magazine to having his name used in a book by his favorite author, this kid just always seems to be in the spotlight without ever really trying to be (or caring to be).  It cracks me up how apathetic he is about it all. That being said, it was no surprise that, on this trip to Disney, Coleman won the Screamer of the Day Contest at the Monster's Inc. ride that allowed us to be first on the ride and first to ride anytime we wanted to the rest of the day.  Go Coleman!  This kid is a stud!

    8.  Last year, we decided to hit the beach for one day and we were thrilled to have beautiful, warm weather.  We frolicked at the beach and soaked up the sun.  This year? Well, yes we still frolicked but it was tepid frolicking.  A little too cool to spend much time in the water but we walked along the boardwalk and went to lunch at The Crab Cooker so still a fantastic day!

    9. Will and I ran in a half-marathon in Vegas on the way back to Utah- check that report out HERE!

    10. To see any other pics that you didn't see here, check out my photo album.

    There you go! At long last, the Disneyland blog post!  I'm apparently running about a month behind but it's Spring Break so I'm hoping to catch up.  Hope everyone is having a fantastic Easter!

    Monday, January 11, 2010

    Running from an Angel '10- 1st Marathon Recap

    The other side! For weeks, months I sat here wondering what it will feel like to be on the other side of all the marathon training: all the fantasies of crossing the finish line, what it might feel like in the final 6 miles, the emotions I might feel as I gutted it out, and how happy I would be to finally say I'm a marathoner.  And here I am on the other side and it feels...AMAZING!!!  Our first marathon definitely had it's ups and downs (quite literally!) but Will and I have both come out on the other side feeling like we could take on anything.

    Here's how it all went down:

    Will, Dad, the boys and I traveled from Utah down to Boulder City, NV on Friday night, checked into our hotel room and headed out to IHOP for some pre-race pancakes, my carb-loading food of choice. (Love the Harvest Grain & Nut pancakes!)  We then went back to the hotel and settled in.  I set out our clothes and anything and everything we would need for the next morning's run.

    I felt surprisingly calm, no pre-race jitters, no nervous tics, no defeating self-talk. That's weird.  I always get nervous, even before short races.  I figured that maybe the nerves would come the next morning.  Fast forward to the next morning (after a terrible night's sleep on the brick-like mattresses at the hotel)-  I woke up at about 4:30 am. I tried really hard to get back sleep but just couldn't get comfortable.  I finally gave up at 5:30, even though the alarm was set for 6:00, and got up and got dressed.  I was still surprisingly calm and stayed that way the rest of the day.  I was a mess before my first half so I'm still not quite sure why I was so calm.  I was just happy!  I was excited to have the day finally here- the reward for all the hard work!  I knew that this day was going to be great- no matter what!

    We left the hotel at about 7:10 and headed over to the race start at Lake Mead N.R.A., which was about 5 minutes away.  We were there fairly early (8 am start) so we (well, my dad) took a few pictures.

    views of Lake Mead from starting area

    my race shirt

    Will and I with the boys with Lake Mead behind us.

    The race photographer getting ready to snap our photo. 
    I can't wait to see the pics that were taken out on the course!

    Friends from church who were running, too. Cami (first marathon), Will, me, 
    Jen (5th marathon) and Lisa (1st marathon.)  So great to have them there. 
    Made the run that much more special.  They all did AWESOME!

    Lisa and I.  Love this girl!

    Coleman and Cooper waiting patiently for the race to start. 

    Calico Racing sign. There was a 50 mile ultra, marathon, half-marathon, 10k and 5k 
    that morning and Calico seemed to have it all running so smoothly. 
    The race director, Joyce, was amazing!

    After snapping a few photos we all headed over to the start with just a few minutes before go time.  The race director, Joyce, gave us a pre-race talk (all 68 of us running the marathon that morning) and was sweet enough to mention my grandmother and the fact that we were running our first marathon in honor of what would've been her 86th birthday. There was also a guy there who was running his 200th marathon! Crazy!

    8:00 am- Go Time!
    We all lined up at the small starting line chute and we were on our way as soon as the race director yelled go!

    Starting the Garmin

    Bye, Dad!

    Miles 1-5

    Mile 1- 9:30
    Mile 2- 9:18
    Mile 3- 9:46
    Mile 4- 9:26
    Mile 5- 9:32

    We started out feeling fresh and happy to be finally meeting our goal of running a marathon.  I couldn't wipe the smile off of my face!  We were chatting with the people around us and the miles were going by smoothly and quickly.  The weather was sunny and beautiful.  Our pace was a little quicker than it would have normally been on a long run but we both felt we were taking it pretty easy so we stuck with it.  It was somewhere in this first 5 miles that we ended up running along with a few other marathoners and forming our own "pace group."  There was Eric (the triathlete from AZ), Ed (the marathon maniac from So. Cal.), Casey (a local marathoner working on getting her 3 marathons in 3 months to gain membership to the maniacs elite club), Mitch (another maniac who ran with us off and on) and another first-timer (I forgot his name!)  They were such a fantastic group! We were all super chatty which helped the miles fly by.  There were rolling hills in this part but nothing too hard. Which brings us to-

    Miles 6-10

    Mile 6- 10:10
    Mile 7- 9:24
    Mile 8- 9:42
    Mile 9- 10:33
    Mile 10- 10:54

    Still hammering it out here.  More rolling hills.  There were really NO flat parts on this course.  In fact, before we started the race, one of the other runners told Will, "You sure picked a hard one to be your first!" Yes we did!! You can see which miles had the uphills and which had the downhills by our mile splits. Anyway, I'm still all smiles at this point.  I'll spare you the suspense and just let you know- I smiled through this entire marathon! (This little tidbit will seem quite impressive a little further down in this story.) I was having so much fun just living in the moment.  Nothing could shake my positive attitude.  Will seemed to be doing well, too, but he was uncharacteristically quiet. I chalked it up to being in the zone or just enjoying listening to everyone else.  Our group was still all hanging in there together.  We learned so much about each other and about running from the experienced marathoners in the group.  Physically, I was feeling good. No aches or pains.  My wind felt great and I was thinking, "I'm going to finish this marathon easily!"

    Miles 11-15

    Mile 11- 9:47
    Mile 12- 10:40
    Mile 13- 9:38 (2:08:17 at half-marathon point)
    Mile 14- 10:19
    Mile 15- 10:58

    Mile 11 brought us down a fairly long hill where the road was pretty curved.  My ankles were bothering me a little until we got to where the road was a little more even.  We then preceded up a steep hill and back down the other side to get to the halfway turn around. We got there in just over 2 hours. We were on our way to the sub 4:30 time that we had set as our goal! And we were still feeling good!  I was drinking at every station and had taken 2 gels. My energy was high as we turned to run that 13.1 miles back the other way.  Mile 15 brought us to a steep hill (the same one that hurt my ankles on the way down) and this hill was brutal!  One mile uphill!  We managed to run up the hill with no stopping and were so relieved to get to the top!

    Miles 16-20

    Mile 16- 11:24
    Mile 17- 11:29
    Mile 18- 10:37
    Mile 19- 12:48
    Mile 20- 13:01

    Something changed in Mile 16.  Will started to slow down a little.  He was breaking away from the pack. I knew something was wrong but he said he was fine and continued on.  He didn't seem fine, though.  Our group had pretty much dispersed at this point.  All except for Ed (the marathon maniac from So.Cal.)  He and I were running a little ahead of Will only to look behind us to see him struggling.  He had put on his headphones for a little "pump up" music and despite his best efforts, took his first walk break between miles 18 and 19.  His left quad was locking up on him and had been for the past couple of miles. He was trying to hide it and continue but it was really hurting at this point. There was an aid station right ahead so we stopped for a moment to meet back up with him.  I was jogging just a little to keep my legs moving but Ed stayed back with Will.  Before I knew it, I was at least a quarter mile ahead of them.  I turned around to see Cami and Jen passing by Will and stopping to help rub out his thigh a little.  I needed to hold back and stay with Will.  I stopped and waited for him even though he was telling me to continue on. WHAT?! No way!! We were going to finish this marathon together, no matter what!  He started to get emotional because he felt he had let me down because he wouldn't be able to run the whole way.  He felt like he had failed me.  I assured him that I was more concerned that we finish the marathon together over anything else. Still, he felt a little dejected and I could tell. I hated that he was so worried about me being disappointed. One thing he didn't know was that what he would accomplish over the next few miles would make me as proud as I've ever been of him.

    Miles 18-20 were stop and go.  We would walk a little, run a little.  Ed continued to stay with us and coach us.  (By the way, Ed was awesome!  We seriously had our own personal coach out there!  He was running his 35th marathon and was a wealth of knowledge.  He talked to keep Will's mind off of the pain and continued to give him advice on how to push through. We loved Ed!  What a blessing it was to meet him out there on the course.)

    Here we are with Ed after the race.

    Miles 21-26

    Mile 21- 13:58
    Mile 22- 13:43
    Mile 23- 13:36
    Mile 24- 14:13
    Mile 25- 15:17
    Mile 26- 14:33

    This was gut-check time for Will.  He was not going to let this marathon (or his body) beat him. With six miles left, now both of his quads are locking up and the left quad is starting to get worse and worse.  What started at the bottom of his quad is working it's way up. He kept hoping that the walk breaks would loosen him up but no such luck. Running was excruciating for him but he still continued to push past his limits.  I started to get emotional watching him. Every step he took inspired me.  Amazing.  He kept running, albeit slow, and was determined to finish.  No matter how much his body screamed at him to stop.

    The Finish

    We had ascended the last small hill and were headed down the .2 to the finish line.  Ed ran on ahead of us to allow us to finish together. (And, as I learned later, to make sure that our family and friends would be ready to meet us.  My dad said Ed came across the finish line saying, "Who here is with a Alicia and Will?  Here they come!" Again- love Ed! Who, by the way, headed right back out to do the course again. Maniac indeed!)  Anyway, when we got close, I grabbed Will's hand and we finished together!  I was so emotional and so proud of my husband (and me!) for what we had just gone through together.  Truly a spectacular feeling to cross that finish line and to do it side-by-side. If a marathon is a great metaphor for life then it is truly fitting that I would be right by his side to the very end.  Our official finish time- 5:05:48.

    Here's some video of us at the finish line.


    Will was definitely in some pain as we finished. I got this still shot from the video.  A picture can speak a thousand words, don't you think?

    I was just grinning from ear-to-ear and happy to be done.  Will needed some time before he could be happy about it all.  :)  After a drink, some electrolyte tablets, and some chili (the post-race food was yummy!) he started to feel a little better and within a half an hour he was planning his comeback.  Another marathon? What?!  I thought he said this would be his one and only.  He said he just can't go out like that. So, we are already planning his comeback.

    As for me, my legs ached for sure but I generally, felt good throughout the race.  In fact, my only real pain is in my neck.  I guess I just kept my shoulders too tight.  My dad joked about how you never expect someone who has just run a marathon to joke about how much their neck hurts.  Ha ha! I guess that's true!

    Anyway, I'm hooked and ready to find another one to do this spring and perhaps in the fall, too.  I loved the whole experience.  Strike that, I hate that Will was hurting but I loved the marathon and everyone who was involved in it and all the ups and downs.  It was exhilarating!  What a great weekend we had!

    Thank you Running from an Angel Marathon! You may have been tough but you just showed us what we're made of!!!

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