Friday, October 23, 2020

Baby S' Birth Story

 Our dear fourth child, who I did mention a couple times in sporadic blog posts, is now FIVE weeks old! And it's about time he has his birth story written up. Yes, HE. We had our fourth boy on September 18th and the whole family is in love! Let's hop back to just before Baby S arrived...

With our first boy arriving very early at 35 weeks, boy #2 coming at 38 weeks and boy #3 at 40 weeks on his due date, my husband suggested that this one was going overdue. I just told him to not dare say that again! I had a gut feeling that this one was going to sneak up on us and would likely be fast (like the last guy!).

I had Braxton Hicks contractions on and off starting at around 18 weeks, so my goal was just to carry this little one to full term! I did run up to 35 weeks in this pregnancy and strength trained following a prenatal plan from G Personal Training through the week before baby was born.

Basically I stopped running at 35 weeks to spare my pelvic floor some stress as baby was getting bigger. Though I was always set on running through my previous pregnancies, I'm glad I did stop running when I did this time. The prenatal strength work went really well up until the last week before baby. Like our boy #3, in that last week baby's head dropped so low that it didn't feel good to do much of anything! Just hobble around and try not to irritate my pelvis. 

Last run with baby #4

During that 38th week, baby was sitting uncomfortably low and that irritated that pubic symphisis area. Thankfully it was in the last week of pregnancy with our third baby and it ended up being the last week of pregnancy with this guy, too! With Braxton Hicks contractions on and off since halfway through this pregnancy, it's hard to know when early labor really started but I knew things were moving along on the Wednesday before baby was born. I took the three boys out for a walk and had a few stronger contractions on the way home. Yep, no more walks too far from our house after that! The last thing I wanted to do was have a baby in front of a neighbor's house ;) 

The local homeschool co-op was set to have a corn maze field trip on Thursday and I wasn't able to get there for that. Again, the random strong contractions would come and I really didn't want to be 45 minutes from home! Our midwife came for our 39 week appointment that day and baby checked out great. She doesn't check my dilation or do an internal exam during these appointments, which I appreciate, because it really doesn't tell you much with a fourth pregnancy anyways. When baby decides to come, they will! And they will likely come fast. 

The boys love to listen to baby's heartbeat <3

Our midwife did mention that baby was sunny side up or "occiput posterior position (OP)", which isn't a huge issue but does increase the likelyhood of back labor. While toddler took his nap that afternoon, I tried to sit on all fours for a while to give baby a chance to move to a better position. I also had a dear friend and my brothers' & their wives praying for baby to move. 

As the stronger contractions started in increase, I was excited to finally meet our boy or girl though not very excited about going through labor and delivery again. I feel like I was more anxious this time and the memories of previous labors seemed so clear - honestly I felt a little dread thinking about transition and the really hard stuff. 

But as my husband says, "well that baby has to come out eventually" (so matter of fact). Might as well get it done! My prayerful friend gave me this Bible verse and I focused on that throughout the labor:

  You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You. Isaiah 26:3

Yes, this is labor. Maybe for the last time?

So I had my family and friends praying for us. I let our midwife know contractions were becoming more regular. Fed the kids supper. Made a crockpot meal and two batches of muffins. Anything to keep moving and productive while in this early labor phase. Movement seems to speed up the process for me.

Contractions were bearable but strong enough that I stopped to breath through them, so I called my husband and had him come home from chisel plowing. We sat down to watch "Aladdin" for a family movie and then labor just,


Nothing! I was so frustrated. Here I had him come home from the field and some people knew that labor had started, and then now it was all a false alarm? I was bummed and a little embarrassed for jumping the gun. 

So we put the kids to bed around 8:30 or 9, talked for a bit and then decided to watch an episode of "Yellowstone" before bed. And just as Kevin Costner came on the scene...


At 10:00 p.m., my water spontaneously broke. That was so weird - my water has only broke during pushing in the past - and this time I hadn't even been having contractions any more. It felt SO loud that I looked at Leo and said, "did you hear that?!" He replied, "Hear what?" Huh. I guess it was just me. 

"Go get the *tub ready." (*this is an inflatable birthing tub with a throw away liner, not our bathtub)

"I'm calling Rebekah!"

"Are you serious?" He said. 

"YES, I'm serious!"

Interesting dialogue, right? Our midwife was grabbing her things and driving to us quickly, though it was a 1 hour 30 minute trip ahead of her. 

I laid there in our bed and didn't budge for 1 hour 30 minutes in an attempt to not let anymore water leak out, which would make labor move too fast. I'm all for a fast labor but we really wanted our midwife there this time (if you haven't heard the story of our third boy, you can catch up on that here :).

Active labor contractions are hard. Especially hard when you don't want to move. Extra especially hard when you also have to pee! 

Our midwife drove like the wind and I was thankful she didn't have to deal with winter roads this time. I may or may not have called her a few times on her drive, you know, just to check how far away she was. So maybe a I was a little desperate at that point?

As soon as she was through the door, I walked down the stairs and had Leo help, just in case I fell or something. It must have been around 11 p.m. or so when I got downstairs and finally went to the bathroom. I didn't last there long before heading to the birthing tub. Leo had it all set (he's a pro by now!) and ready at the right temp, Rebekah was here and baby was good to come whenever he or she wanted! 

I ended up pushing for about 40 minutes and it just felt harder this time; like I wasn't pushing efficiently or something. It seemed like no matter how I tried, he was still sitting up high in my belly. I know I went into labor already exhausted from a day with three kids. That could be part of it. I felt frustrated and I don't know how mamas do it when they have to push for hours!

Eventually the pushes paid off and baby was almost there! Our midwife mentions that I can feel baby's head and I'm always hesitant to. Like maybe if I think too much about what is actually going on, I will pass out or something?

But I did it anyways. I touched baby's soft hair, thought for a second if that was our little girl or boy and that this may be the last time I experience this. 

After a few very uncomfortable but productive pushes, baby was out and here's a testament to the power of prayer: Baby had turned before being born and didn't arrive sunny-side up! Praise God and thank so many for their prayers!

1:02 a.m., 7 lbs. 6 oz. and 21 inches long

We took a peek and there you have it, our baby BOY! We had thought long and hard about girl names, while giving little thought to boy names. Good thing the only name we had thought up ahead of time was a winner! As far as social media and the blog is concerned, he will be baby "S" :)

Water births are amazing!

Our older boys (7, 5, and 3 in November) slept through everything! Only our oldest snuck down at 2 a.m. because we must have been talking a little loud. He was in a sleep daze but seemed excited to see baby. 

We were so thankful my parents came to pick up the older boys at 3 p.m. that day so we could have some time with just baby. That's the crazy thing about homebirth - there are no days in the hospital after baby to recover. Good help is essential because baby comes but life still goes on! Loud, energetic older siblings and all.

Leo and I had five days to enjoy having baby S all to ourselves. Really this is the longest time we have had alone together since before having kids! (I mean baby was there, but he's pretty chill) 

The quality time, just the three of us, was really sweet and very hard to come by.

The big brothers have been loving on their little brother since the moment they met him! So many kisses. Hugs. Darn near smothering but it's sweet and these boys are really the best blessing. 

Messy, chaotic, loud.
God is so good to us!

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

A Gentle Feast: Green Year Term 3 Review

Let's just say Term 3 got off to an interesting start. Two weeks in to our new study topics, I jotted down in our school planner that the "coronvirus cancelled the public school throughout the next week". What a weird thought - school cancelled for, not a snow day, but a "pandemic".

That seemed like a short-term ordeal and of course our homeschool studies continued as usual, but I had no idea what this would morph into, and would still linger, months later. 

We studied composer Claudio Monteverdi and artist Diego Velasquez. For composer study, we used our Usborne Composers book and listened to specific recommended pieces on YouTube. We used the A Gentle Feast Morning Time binder and having the full-color Velasquez prints for picture study all in one place was so handy! Even the two-year-old was able to participate in picture study. We kept it short and sweet. 

Nature study featured a rotation of the Burgess Animal Book for Children by Thornton Burgess and we listened to this using libravox through the entire term. While listening, we used an animal reference guide and the kids could draw or use the coloring pages that corresponded. 

I was able to find Little Flower Folks by Mara Louise Pratt-Chadwick on eBay and being able to read the physical book versus the computer/online version was totally worth it. The readings were interesting though some did get a little lengthy and over the heads of this "very-Form I" crew (1st grade, pre-k & toddler). If it seemed I was losing their attention, we just looked at specific pictures of the subjects covered and skimmed over certain sections. I think revisiting this book as my kids get older will be even more helpful.

Beside shutting down our local library and the public school, we were also unable to meet with our co-op (or go to church even!) due to COVID-19. Many people have mistaken "distance learning" for homeschooling but that's definitely not the case. While homeschooling usually offers a ton of freedom and an ability to customize each child's education and socialization (yes, homeschoolers do socialize), this COVID-infested term felt much more like "isolation-schooling". No friends. No field trips. No special activities. Bleh.

So let me say it again, COVID-19 "distance learning" is nothing like actually homeschooling.

Countless times I was told by distance-learning parents that they don't know how we can handle homeschool full time but I think that is a big misconception. When homeschooling in regular life, we use a beautiful curriculum, cover many subjects as a family (even bringing in the toddler, like I mentioned!), read living books, learn hands-on and the same teacher/same teaching-style covers all the subjects. I guess that last point was a bit obvious :) 

We did try a couple Zoom sessions with our co-op friends which went well, considering all of our families are an assortment of school-age kids and toddlers! Especially in the thick of the stay at home order, even seeing our co-op friends' faces was better than nothing. 

For first grade, E completed Singapore Math's Dimension Math 1A and continued to work through 1B in Term 3. I can't say enough about Singapore's Dimension Math. Math comes naturally to E but Dimensions Math challenged him and taught him numerous ways to visualize the solution along with learning the math facts. I'm glad he's a confident math student but I like to see him challenged as well.

He continued to work through A Gentle Feast's 100 Gentle Lessons in Sight and Sound: Level 2 for this term and we ended the school year on lesson 46. I debated on working on this more with him over the summer or starting off with it again in the Fall but because he is able to read chapter books on his own, I feel he is ready to move into the Language Arts curriculum for Cycle 2.

One thing is for sure, this boy loves to read! And his middle brother isn't far behind. The A Gentle Feast 100 Gentle Lessons Level 1 & 2 worked well for 1st grader because of the variety. The lesson type varied from day to day with focuses on sight, sound and then reading. He has been frustrated by repetitive lessons in past curriculums but there were no complaints with AGF's 100 Gentle Lessons

We continued to work through the assigned readalouds for History and Geography. We ended on Elin's Amerika and Praire School, which we're still working through this summer. We were supposed to be reading both of these books at the same time during the term but I've found it works best for us to focus on one read aloud chapter book and then move on to the next. First Elin's Amerika, next comes Praire School.

We dabbled in Spanish each week, did some drawing lessons here & there and continued on with the beauty subjects listed in the Morning Time binder. Overall the term went as well as it could, for being COVID-19'd and all. 

Here's to hoping that the return to school will be a little more "normal"! Whatever that is.

Check out all A Gentle Feast has to offer by clicking here!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

The Bumpdate That Finally Was Written

We officially finished the school year today, celebrating with double chocolate muffins from the grocery store and a bike ride! Despite all the craziness of COVID-19, homeschool stayed on track for us and I'm very thankful for that.

It's nuts. The fairs are cancelled and we can't go many places (not even church yet?!). One of the best parts of the homeschool life is the freedom to go on field trips, visit friends, meet up with our co-op, go to the library... and we are missing that freedom so much. Though many are "homeschooling" during this time by necessity, not by choice, this "COVID homeschooling" isn't a good representation of what homeschool life is actually like.

None the less, we're making the best of what we can do. We did get our own camper - that's cool, right? I'm just praying we can make a few trips to our favorite state park this summer.

The school year itself went SUPER fast. I think much of that had to do with the busyness of schooling three kids at home, add a pregnancy on top of that and starting a brand new business endeavor and there you have it! I think that's why time flew!

It's a beautiful chaos; very loud, messy, with lots of moving parts.

So, about this bumpdate! I have been putting off writing much about this pregnancy mainly because I sit down to write and then overthink everything. Usually there are other things that need to be done and it sneaks ahead of writing down any details about Baby 4.0... 


I'll keep it short and sweet because Baby 4.0, I haven't written much about you, but we love you just as much as the other three tornadoes :)

B4's Pregnancy Wrap-Up: Week 23

Baby 4.0 is a GRAPEFRUIT this week, almost a foot long and weighing in at 1.10 lbs. In my pregnancy with our third boy, I had written that I didn't feel as big as I looked. Well, this time I'm feeling it. I feel good, just "out there". 17 weeks to go, maybe?

How I feel for the day depends a lot on Baby's positioning - which is pretty crazy, considering he or she isn't that big yet! I'm running around 12 miles per week broken into 3 runs of 4-miles each and then strength training 2 to 3 times per week. My average pace has been faster than the previous pregnancies and I have done more strength training!

ZYIA Active's Black Swirl Tank // Jade Bomber Bra // Dark Navy Seamless Shorts

I have been following Heidi at G Training's Prenatal Strength Program for the past three months now and I know that run-specific strength work is keeping my hips and back strong. That has to be the #1 complaint I have heard with moms in subsequent pregnancies - the hip and back troubles.

While I'm not feeling like I "need" to keep running through this whole pregnancy, I DO feel like strength work is an essential element. I ran through the past three pregnancies but I feel like, in the long run, strength is even more important (especially pelvic floor!). Pregnancy really is an endurance event. 

My goal in this pregnancy is to stay healthy for baby and for myself in order to recover postpartum as smoothly as possible. And to stay sane and hold on to some energy as I chase the other three kiddos, that would be nice! 

With possibly 17 weeks to wait before meeting Baby 4.0, I feel impatient but I'm also trying to make the most of all the things we CAN do right now with the kids being "older" - at 2.5, 5 and 7 years old. (I just pray the pool opens up so we can have one fun activity that isn't cancelled!) It's easier to just up and go as the kids get older. 

Yet I feel excited too; to meet our newest little one (boy or girl??!!), to take on new adventures as a family of 6 and to chase new running postpartum running goals! I have some ambitious goals for the future that I may write about one of these days.

Sometimes it's hard to look forward; to imagine what life is going to look like after all of this. The times we are living in are so uncertain and, honestly, confusing. But I find peace knowing that God is in control and He will bring good out of all of this. I don't know what's coming next but God does, and I trust Him.

Let's Connect!

Thursday, May 7, 2020

A Gentle Feast: Green Year Term 2 Review

We finished up Term 2 of our school year, well, a while ago (March 6th) and I'm determined to get this quick review typed up before Term 3 is complete. Our Spring weather has finally arrived and, aside from all the COVID-19 craziness going on now, we are so relieved. It's been hard to make myself sit down to type this up! 

Because this is a Term 2 review, I am not going to touch on how COVID-19 has affected our homeschooling (that will come for the Term 3 review). It hadn't affected anything here back in early March! Our co-op group still met as usual and the Library was open and well back then. Feels like forever ago. 

We continued to thrive on the A Gentle Feast Form I curriculum for the term and overall everything has gone rather smoothly while homeschooling with a two-year-old in the house. (He is a huge blessing and also one of trickiest parts of homeschooling in this season!) We also found out Baby #4 was on the way at mid-Term 2 and we are all SO excited! I found that homeschooling while being absolutely exhausted and dealing with morning sickness is extra challenging. Thankfully by week 12 of the pregnancy, the morning sickness got a little less intense.

Let's jump into the pictures. 

What I MOST appreciate about A Gentle Feast is that everything is laid out for us to work from and most resources are available in our spiral A Gentle Feast manuals (check out my Term 1 review here). For the information that isn't in the manual, I just plan ahead and pull it up on my phone or the desktop. 

I made a few slight changes to some of the subjects. One being that we follow along with Happy Hymnody's Hymn of the Month schedule and use Children of the Open Air for Solfa lessons. That really doesn't change things too much - it's really just a matter of having the links ready to pull up while resisting any other online distraction.

The full-color prints for Artist Study in the Morning Time spiral is such a helpful convenience. All of the kids, even Mr. Two Year Old, and myself take part in this picture study. We keep it brief and it's enjoyed by all. For our Composer Study weeks, I pull up the song selection on YouTube and we listen, sometimes with it just playing in the background. Classics for Kids is a helpful podcast resource we use for some composers.

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The history read alouds were all loved again this term. I'm not even sure I can say we had a favorite! It's amazing how choosing the right living books can make history come alive! I thought history was boring back in my school days but reading these alongside the kids has really changed my heart on the subject. I will say the illustrations in any d'Aulaire book are impossible not to love. (My opinion at least) Their Pocahantas this term and Leif the Lucky from last term were both amazing.

For natural history, we continued in the Burgess Animal Book for Children and added the Little Flower Folks for this term. For the Burgess book, we listened to the audio of each chapter in the Libravox library. That was so handy and it allowed me to keep the toddler busy or play with preschooler while we all listened. The Little Flower Folks book was hard to find but I did finally find it at a good price on an eBay auction. Whew! The book is gorgeous and stories were interesting but I decided to pick and choose which assigned readings we did out of this. Some of the sections were quite lengthy and a little hard to understand for my very young students - ages 2, 4 and newly 7 years old. We supplemented both the Burgess and Little Flower Folks studies with colorful pictures from our North American Wildlife book. The colored pictures helped with longer readings! 

For geography, we continued on in Home Geography by C.C. Long, did some map study and also read As the Crow Flies by Gail Hartman. I supplemented some of the chapters with books such as "Wonders of Rivers" by Rae Bains, a few other Troll Associates books and hands-on study whenever possible! 

We read some of the Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang stories but intend to finish reading that throughout the summer. It's a great book but keeping up with all of the read alouds on limited attention spans has been a challenge - namely with 2 and 4 year old boys.  Dangerous Journey was too good to put down and the kids often didn't want to stop with our weekly reading. We finished it a little faster than planned because it was that good! After reading The Evergreen Wood last year, Dangerous Journey by Oliver Hunkin was a natural progression for us in the Pilgrims Progress theme.

For our Spanish studies, we followed along with some of the A Gentle Feast song selections for Form I Spanish and then did our "own thing" quite often too. Weekly, we go through the Usborne's First 100 Words in Spanish book and then read a couple Spanish read alouds from the Learning Together series. 

Our first grader moved on to Singapore Math's Dimensions Math 1B books about half way through Term 2. He's enjoying their approach and I enjoy teaching it! We will likely keep plugging through some math (and reading) throughout the summer too. For reading, he is working through the 100 Gentle Lessons in Sight and Sound: Level 2. Just like Level 1, the variety and methods of teaching have been a great fit for my first student. We'll see how this works with boy #2 in a year or so!

Preschooler worked through his own Pre-K workbook because he insisted on having his own "school" to do. When not working on that, he colored. A lot! This kid is my color-crazy artist! (Oldest bro prefers black and white)

And then there's this guy. He's our wild and adventurous Mr. Two. Watching him explore life is sure fun! He learns along side the older brothers and enjoys many of the read alouds. At the end of Term 2, he has been taking part in the poetry recitation and that has been so cute to see! 

With only three weeks left in Term 3, I'll be back soon to write that review. Hopefully I'll be more timely - my goal is to write it up before our summer break is over :) 

Check out all A Gentle Feast has to offer by clicking here!

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Race Report: Wicked Virtual Half Marathon

When I'm "running for two", I race very sparingly and enjoy the break of lowered mileage and a less rigorous training schedule. The Wicked Half Marathon in Wamego, Kansas snuck into my year as a fun girl's trip with my running partner. She needed a race on non-iced over ground to prep for Boston and I was up for a road trip. At the time, I didn't know baby #4 would be on the way, so I planned to race the half too.

Fast forward a couple months and we found out about baby #4 (yay!) but I still planned on jogging the race. Then all of this COVID-19 crazy happened - first Boston was postponed and this race followed suit not too long after, along with basically every other race out there. I don't envy the job of the race directors one bit! This has been new territory to navigate for all.

The Wicked Marathon series changed all of the distances to the virtual option and we were still able to get the run done anyways! I had only ran a virtual 5k and 10k prior to this, so I knew this was going to be an interesting experience.

Our weather for this race ended up being a GORGEOUS sunny day with a temp of 39 degrees. Needless to say, I threw on a long sleeve and shorts to relish in our finally Spring-like weather. (Reality check: we're in a rain/snow blizzard today and back to 20 degrees + 18 mph winds... uffda)

Anyways. At least my virtual race day was perfect! My goal was to run negative splits and to feel good at the end of the race, as I hadn't ran double digits since early February or possibly even January. The challenge in running a virtual race on a beautiful Minnesota Spring day is that 1) no one is there to stop traffic for you like in a real race, 2) all the neighbors are outside and I just had to say "hi" (from a socially acceptable distance) and 3) at 14 weeks pregnant, of course I needed to stop for a bathroom break (see mile #7 below).

Overall the run went really well and running 13.1 after training so little felt fine. At our last baby appointment, I was a bit dehydrated so I made sure to rehydrate well the rest of the week. Even without running over 8 miles in the past month and some, I figured the residual marathon training from last Fall could carry me through!

I wore a few of my Zyia Active favorites on this run and everything checked out perfectly! A long-ish run is a great test for the sports bra - chafing along my rib cage and arm pit area have been an issue with some bras but Zyia's All Star bra was amazing on this run.

The Mesh Hat was a great fit for a sunny day and the Purple Chill T kept me just warm enough when layered over another long sleeve. I had to ditch the coats and vests for one day at least!

Now life is back to regular pregnant runner programming. 13.1 miles is the farthest I have ever run while pregnant and, from now on, I'll likely stick to running around 3 to 6 miles per run. I will definitely keep on with the strength training and prenatal specific work.

Running through pregnancy like I had with our three boys would be nice, but we'll see what's best for our baby #4! Being pregnant now while homeschooling and raising three boys is exhausting in itself - a blessed chaos that I thank the Lord for. I also thank the Lord for coffee. I've learned over the years that the strength and prenatal specific work are even more important than merely running through pregnancy. (Weaknesses and imbalances just lead you to future injury and I don't want to go there again!)

I'm thinking medals for the Wicked Half Marathon will be arriving in the mail sometime and they're even doing placings based on everyone's virtual run times! So maybe it's not fair to the people with super challenging terrain but I sure think it's fun they kept some competition in this event. They did a great job adapting the race to a 100% virtual series.

Let's Connect!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

My Only Big Race of 2020

We are seeing some strange times, aren't we? It's a weird feeling. Life goes on but we really aren't "supposed to" go anywhere! I'm thankful to be homeschooling, especially at a time like this, as our school routine hasn't changed. It's the co-ops, the playdates, the library and the appointments that we're missing and that just feels weird.

I have been trying to make use of the time when we "can't" do so much, to instead DO a lot of things I don't want to do. (i.e. clean bathrooms, clean and restock our fridge that failed this weekend - now fixed, organize old papers, sell books we don't need, etc)

The time is well spent but I wonder how long all of this will continue!

Like the rest of the running world, my race scheduled for this weekend was swapped for a Virtual Run. Thankfully it's a half marathon - as I'm not sure I could handle running a full marathon on the same old roads in our town! My dear running partner/friend and I had planned on making the trip to the Wicked Half Marathon in Kansas to prepare her for Boston but we'll just be running loops around town instead.

Personally I'm not too heartbroken because I don't have any intense goals for racing while pregnant anyways. I do feel for everyone who had been training hard for Boston though - such a bummer! At least the race is postponed and not cancelled.

Our Baby 4.0 is 14 weeks now and I have written absolutely nothing about him/or her on the blog yet! I have been planning to for a while, it just hasn't happened.

We had our midwife appointment a couple weeks ago and we all loved hearing baby's heartbeat. Our whole family was also happy to be reunited with our favorite midwife! She delivered our 2nd and 3rd boys; it's great to have her over to visit again.

Compared to the pregnancy with our third baby, I haven't noticed many differences besides being extremely tired. Before finding out we were pregnant, I was planning to get my iron levels tested because I was sure there was something wrong. Like maybe running 2 Fall marathons and a 24-miler within a four week span had messed up my body long term or something. Nope. Turned out I was pregnant! We are so excited!

I have continued running though my motivation has been a struggle during these cold, icy and dark months. Thankfully things are warming up now and we have a little more daylight; and my morning sickness has mostly ended. Strength training and doing prenatal-specific exercises from G Training has been much more of a priority this time around. More on that later.

Also, I have found some of the cutest tanks that should last the whole pregnancy! I have started my own Zyia Active business and they have the comfiest workout gear. The Copper Charged Tanks have a long fit, which I love. They aren't "maternity" specific so I ordered a size up and now have plenty of room to let baby grow.

I'm off to digest some food before an evening run with the gals in town! This piece of encouragement I will leave you with: God causes EVERYTHING to work together for the good of those who love Him. Everything. I trust that God will bring good things out of even such a crazy time as this.

Let's Connect!

Thursday, March 12, 2020

END Trails 4-Person Relay Race Report

After the back-to-back marathons last Fall, I had one more race experience for the year and a recap is long overdue (like from October 2019)! Two weeks after the Blue Ox Marathon, I competed in my first ever 12-hour event, the END (Extreme North Dakota) Halloween Double Feature, with a team of three other gals.

When one of my relay teammates initially mentioned the idea, I thought it would be a fun group event, a relaxing day away and more "fun" running after racing two marathons. What I didn't realize is exactly how many miles we would each cover that day. Though our distances per team member varied, it was basically another marathon day!

This adventure certainly didn't disappoint. One thing was for sure, we enjoyed A LOT of time on the trails!

How much stuff does a relay team of four gals need for a 12-hour event? 

Turns out A LOT! Between packing clean outfits to change into after each of our 10k loops, food and drink and rehab tools (foam rollers, roll recovery!), we basically set up camp in our little corner of the race building. It was so nice to have somewhere warm and cozy to wait between legs! The race day was a COLD one. No snow yet on this October 27th, just windy and very chilly.

We all looked so peppy and nice smelling before the race began! Amanda would be our first runner and the strategy was to run two 10k loops in a row, depending on how we felt after the first loop.

Kristen, Leslie, me & Amanda

Amanda ran an extremely fast double loop and then I was up for my first run. I could tell my body was a little sore from the marathons two and four weeks ago but running on the trails felt EXCELLENT! Trail running was my first love and I have hardly ran trails since our first boy was born 7 years ago. Just feeling the trails again, the varying terrain and so much to look at gave me energy.

 Running trails allows you to fully take in all of the beauty of God's creation - especially when the legs and lungs are still feeling fresh! The 2 x 10k loops went off really well and I was able to keep a nice pace as long as I had someone to follow. A couple turns on the course were confusing at first but following the 12-hour guy runner helped a ton.

Now to change clothes, eat and stretch before my round #2.

Kristen, Leslie and Amanda all ran their legs of the race while I lounged inside. Before this race, I imagined us having sooo much down time in between our loops. Hmmm, should I bring a book? Could I take a nap?

Turns out that time passed so quickly that it was just enough time to change, eat and stretch again (probably because these girls are so fast!). I definitely skimped on the stretching more than I should have.

My Run #2 wasn't as enjoyable as #1, and I even ran a single loop instead of doing the double 10k. My watch delayed starting so the distance is off too. Wearing my old marathon shoes, I could feel some niggles forming in my right knee and left foot... so I promptly threw those into the garbage after getting back from this loop. Onto the back up shoes!

Okay, so here's the Run #3... the final loop... in complete darkness. I was the last runner for our team and thank God they love me and didn't leave me out on the trails ALONE! Most of other runners had stopped for the day, except one hardcore guy who was running the 12-hour race solo (crazy!!!).

Each of the gals took turns running with me on my 10k loop. Running in the dark feels weird. Our pace while running on these trails, up and down hills, jumping downed trees and water puddles, felt so FAST. And yet my pace averaged a 9:32/mile?!

Uffda I was so glad to have company the whole way. Seriously - complete darkness and desolation in a state park I'm not familiar with! At one point, Kristen and I called our teammates to make sure it was safe we were out there alone. They said we were fine, so on we ran!

We made it!!! At 11:58:43 (countdown clock couldn't handle that many digits), we completed that final dark loop:

Overall, Team Boom Shaka-LAKA (our initials... hehe), we made 14 laps on the 6.2 mile trail course, adding up to about 86.8 miles! These gals made such an amazing team - it was a long day but an absolute blast. I ended up covering 24 miles myself, counting running my loops and accompanying on others, nearly making for my third marathon in a 4-week span. Uffda is right!

The sun went down, race finished and we decided to stop for burgers at Five Guys before parting ways. That was an excellent decision! Real food tasted absolutely amazing after snacking and eating weird things all day!

After that, we all headed home and I tried my hardest to stay awake on the drive. Our 12-hour race took it out of my but it's definitely something I would do again! As a team, we discussed strategy and thought it may be more efficient to run only double loops - or maybe even all of our loops - in one chunk instead of starting and stopping. The breaks in-between made for lots of clothing changes and sore, tired legs. Running one big marathon chunk would be hard but then you would be done and ready to lounge after.

Now we know for next time!

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