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!

Let's Connect!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Race Report: Frozen Feat 10k 2020

This was my fourth consecutive year running the Frozen Feat 5k/10k, which is easily the best winter race in our area. My relationship with winter has its ups and downs. I like when it first begins, the holidays are exciting, but by February I need some sort of motivation to go out in the cold. I'm done!

Turns out, a frozen race with fellow all-weather runners is a great motivator.

What was new this year? My husband and I ran as a "Lovebirds" team for the 10k and signing up was actually his idea. I could hardly believe it myself! We haven't ran a race together, just the two of us, since I was pregnant with our first baby!

We signed up at the end of December and both of us did a decent amount of training for a month or so. I was entertaining the idea of running a couple Spring half marathons at the time and my hubs was wanting to run well in the 10k. In the weeks leading up to the race, we definitely didn't get much running done between sick bugs and then Leo traveling for work. I have felt like napping more than running and some days that's exactly what I did!

Regardless, we made it to race day uninjured, my brother-in-law and his girlfriend babysat the kids, and we looked forward to an overall nice race day.

When we got to town, we went straight to the parking garage right across the street from the race. Finding a spot wasn't a trouble at all. We made our way into the local highschool where the race is held, picked up packets, stretched and wandered around. Being somewhere without the kids is a rarity so it was nice just to visit!

The race had a great turn out and we are able to wait for the start time inside the school (which is especially helpful in extra cold years). The day had a nice turnout and I was thankful to catch up with a highschool classmate of mine while we waited.

9:20 meant time to lineup for the National Anthem and not too long after, we were off and running into the fiesty 16-20 mph headwind from the north!

The pack started off fast and that headwind felt discouraging. A few ponderings as I ran: Thank God this wasn't the weather for the Grand Forks Marathon last September! ... If an 8-minute mile feels hard now, I wonder what's to come... I can't remember what it feels like to run on plain pavement... Last time I ran here, I was wearing shorts...

We pushed through at a fairly comfortable pace until mile 4, where my husband was really feeling it. I knew once we hit the turnaround and the wind pushed us back he would have his second "wind". Once we had a tailwind, that 19 degrees and sun felt so... Spring-like.

The running surface was a mix of ice in some spots, loose snow with ice under it, and then patches of fairly easy snow running. No complaints. This is the Frozen Feat - interesting winter terrain should be expected! Even without traction aids it wasn't too bad; just a little extra work to run.

Leo and I finished in 50:43 which sets a record for our slowest 10k together and probably one of my favorite "run dates" we have been on. We ended up finishing first for the Lovebird 10k teams and won some flowers and a $50 Toasted Frog (bar/restaurant) gift card. We were both really pumped!

Now to go on a supper date some night after 4 pm. I am craving the Toasted Frog's deep fried pickles.

My only regret of this race is not grabbing a donut immediately after finishing the run. We changed into dry/warm clothes first and, to my horror, all of those gorgeous donuts were gone! I settled for two cups of chili and that was good enough to hold me over for a while.

I ended up being the 3rd place gal for the race and kept my Frozen Feat cup streak alive (minus the fact that I broke last year's cup). The top 3 males and top 3 females receive a plaque, Scheels giftcard and a nice mug. Each year they have had a unique mug design and I love that about this race - it is really well planned out.

And not pictured are our pairs of brand new Fitsoks! That's part of the race swag and I collect them. Seriously, I collect socks. Both the Grand Forks Marathon and Frozen Feat have had Fitsoks in their swag for the past few years and I always look forward to them.

After the awards were finished, we headed out to the nearby coffee shop to just visit for a while before a couple errands. We didn't stay super long, thankfully, because I was so tired I could have fallen asleep! Story of my life lately.

The eventful day ended with our 4-year-old taking a bite of spaghetti for supper and then somehow having it get stuck in/and shoot out of his nose. Wow. That was a definite parenting first for us! I was impressed and shocked. Apparently the marinara on the spaghetti burned a little in his nose.

And thus ended our run date day. I'm hoping I can talk my hubs into doing this again next year, only faster!

Let's Connect!

Friday, January 24, 2020

A Decade of Marathons (and a whole lotta life, too!)

Ten years ago, I toed the line to my very first marathon. I was running it with a group of friends and acquaintances to raise money for my co-worker battling Leukemia. Little did I know how much that experience would change the next ten years of my life.

This is my run down of the past decade of marathons and major life moments, with the layout inspired by Teal's post at Miles to the Trials (definitely check it out!). From marathons to marriage to the birth of our three boys, I'm amazed by all the Lord has brought me to and through in the past decade.

Lots of mistakes made. Lots of lessons learned. Lots of memories made. And I wouldn't change a thing.

1. Walker North Country Trail Marathon, September 2010

Goal: Finish
Training: I ran exactly the miles in the Marathon Training Academy free plan I used. No strength work and minimal warm-up/cooldown or stretching time.
Biggest Victory: I completed my very first marathon training cycle!
Biggest Challenge: Running those long run distances for the first time.
Result: 4:07:45 (9:26/mile). Ecstatic, exhausted and totally caught off guard by the hills on this course. Did I mention I trained on 100% flat gravel and/or paved roads for the entire time? This was humbling but amazing. I had no concept of whether this time was "good" or not. I was just glad to be DONE!

2. Fargo Marathon, May 2011

Goal: Run faster than the first marathon on the road (vs. trail)
Training: Pretty sure it was the Marathon Training Academy's free training plan again. Once again, minimal to no strength training or warm-up/cooldown involved. Uffda.
Biggest Victory: I finished in better shape than my first marathon!
Biggest Challenge: The long run still felt daunting - especially doing all my runs alone.
Result: 3:34:29 (8:10/mile) Made the Boston cut-off before I knew what a "BQ" was; thankfully it was 3:40 back then. After realizing I qualified, I was extra happy it didn't take me longer to stop and tie my shoe mid-race. How bad would it stink to miss qualifying because of a shoe lace?! Lesson learned: Double knot. 

3. Eugene Curnow Marathon, July 2011

Goal: Run another trail race
Training: I had heard the course was hilly so I chased down as many northern Minnesota "hills" as I could. Besides that, my training approach really didn't change much.
Biggest Victory: A 3-hour training run on the state park trails by my parents' house. This had some areas that were similar to the race terrain. Good training move, self!
Biggest Challenge: Signing up for a marathon in July. As cold as it gets up here, Minnesota is also hot and humid in the summer.
Result: 4:35:26 (10:30/mile) and 3rd place Female. I felt adventurous, that's for sure. There were parts of this course where we cruised, parts where I had to walk and hills I had to crawl up in mud. Yeah, this was an adventurous (and much harder than expected) race indeed! This was the first time I ever "placed" in a marathon and that was super exciting.

4. Twin Cities Medtronic, October 2011

Goal: Run a faster BQ
Training: Ran hills more regularly at the local park and incorporated speedwork by perceived effort. By this race I had an official "running watch" so I could track my paces!
Biggest Victory: Running three 20-milers in this training cycle. They became much less daunting.
Biggest Challenge: The race was on a Sunday during a weekend conference I had for work. Thankfully the conference involved a lot of sitting and snacking - perfect for taper, right? - and my mom picked me up on the way to the race!
Result: 3:22:05 (7:42/mile). Totally surprised. That was way faster than I realized I could run and all of a sudden my future goals became more ambitious.

5. Boston Marathon, April 2012

Goal: Run a good time, take in the atmosphere and the history.
Training: I used the Hal Higdon Boston Bound plan and incorporated more hills. Strength training still hadn't caught on for me and I hadn't been injured yet to wake me up to it...
Biggest Victory: Hitting my first 50-mile week. My mom and I made this trip together a month before my wedding. It was the perfect mother-daughter trip.
Biggest Challenge: Training in the freezing cold Minnesota winter and then racing on a day in the mid 80's! That was unusual for Boston weather too.
Result: 3:43:25 (8:31/mile). A little disappointed but glad to have finished. I expected my times to continue getting faster with each race and this was the first wake up call - it just doesn't always happen! I started out fast and the heat absolutely killed me. I dumped water on my head (chafed majorly. ouch) and had to take walk breaks to avoid passing out in the last half of the race. Had to finish to get that medal - and I did!

♥ May 2012: Married My Handsome Guy

♥ March 2013: We Became Parents, Our FIRST Boy is Born!

6. Blue Ox Marathon, October 2013

Goal: Run my first race after baby, 7 months postpartum
Training: I don't remember which plan I used but fitting in training was difficult as I navigated running as a brand new mom. Lots of stroller runs! I incorporated the 30-Day Shred DVD in with my training because it was easy to do with a little one at home.
Biggest Victory: Finishing my first race postpartum.
Biggest Challenge: Mentally I didn't enjoy training that much because I struggled to fit it in; mom time management is definitely an acquired skill!
Result: 3:37:37 (8:18/mile). Very happy, especially to meet my chunky babe and my parents at the finish line! (Hubs couldn't make it because of sugar beet harvest) I was slightly bummed that I missed the BQ; just for the sake of running the standard.

♥ May 2015: Our SECOND Boy is born!

7. Fargo Marathon, May 2016

Goal: Run sub-3:30
Training: At this point I was using a plan a friend had sent me; specific purposes for each run taught me so much and I was learning to run faster.
Biggest Victory: Running three 20-milers in training (I barely fit one in during the previous cycle!).
Biggest Challenge: Going into the race dehydrated and exhausted, which really nailed me as a breastfeeding mom on a super hot (80's race day)
Result: 3:57:16 (9:02/mile). I kept on pace for the first 10 miles and then crashed hard; ended up walking the last half of the race. I was a bummed but not disappointed in my performance. I know I did the best that my body gave me that day. Pre-hydrate lesson is learned!

8. Grand Forks Marathon, September 2016

Goal: Run sub-3:30, for real this time
Training: I read Greg McMillan's book "You (Only Faster)" and used a training plan from there.
Biggest Victory: Again, learning more lessons in workout specificity and what training paces I should be hitting.
Biggest Challenge: Getting over the mental and self-doubt hurdle of Fargo Marathon 2016 and my body's physical crash there.
Result: 3:28:13 (7:58/mile), finished 3rd Female. This race was a confidence boost and reminder that I can run a marathon without crashing! My legs were burning a bit early on but I hit the BQ standard and that felt great. While I had no intentions to return to Boston, it made a nice goal to shoot for each race.

9. Blue Ox Marathon, October 2016

Goal: Run this marathon successfully, two weeks after racing Grand Forks Marathon
Training: Just piggy-backing off Grand Fork's training. In two weeks, there was only time to partially recover and then run again.
Biggest Victory: Not getting injured.
Biggest Challenge: My legs being broken down from the previous race.
Result: 3:25:36 (7:50/mile), finished 1st Female. Breaking the tape at this small local race was a big breakthrough for me. First off, that was fun. Second, I wanted to do that again (only faster)!

♥ November 2017: Our THIRD Boy is born!

10. Grandma's Marathon, June 2018

Goal: Run Grandma's, which was a bucket list race for me. 7 months post-baby 3.
Training: I did well getting in the miles and stuck to the McMillan method. Mixed in yoga and a little strength work.
Biggest Victory: Running a marathon 7 months postpartum, which I had said I would never do again. Smart or not, I did it.
Biggest Challenge: Training with a new baby and two toddlers in the house; felt like a juggling act. Granted, I did sign myself up for this! (or ran as a review for BibRave)
Result: 3:32:17 (8:05/mile), setting a new 7-month postpartum PR for me (previous was 3:37). My hips and knee felt a little weak during this race (ahem, strength train much??) but I was very happy with the finish time.

11. Fargo Marathon, May 2019

Goal: Show up at the starting line injury-free, finish in 3:15.
Training: Backpedal slightly to August 2018, I majorly injured my hip flexor and wasn't able to race or run consistently for 4 months. Goodbye Fall races! I had been using the Hansons Marathon Method, which was going SO well, but skimping on the strength work so newly postpartum caught up to me. 2019 goal was to train and just not get injured.
Biggest Victory: Hitting paces that I didn't realize I could using the Hansons Method and adding in strength work using Runner Connect's program.
Biggest Challenge: Getting over the injury elephant in the room. When I started long runs again or felt a little niggle here or there, I kept thinking it would happen again.
Result: 3:16:34 (7:29/mile), so happy! I didn't break 3:15 but I ran well and felt great, despite the cold, rainy, windy day that it was. Definitely counted this race as a personal victory. And a fun date weekend with my husband for our 7th anniversary!

12. Grand Forks Marathon, September 2019

Goal: Break 3:15
Training: This training cycle was perfect... until race week. I got a nasty sinus cold and wasn't sure if I should race. I stuck with the Hansons Marathon Method for training (but added in a 20-miler instead of only going 16) and continued strength work with Runners Connect and the 21-Day Fix DVDs.
Biggest Victory: I woke up race day morning and felt pretty good! I had people praying for me and I know that made all of the difference. Come morning, I was ready to race.
Biggest Challenge: The day before the race. Picking up my race packet while feeling absolutely terrible and keeping track of my energetic boys. All I wanted to do was sleep!
Result: 3:11:26 (7:18/mile), and 1st Female. ECSTATIC. I was so happy to finally feel like a healthy human again, to set a PR and to break tape again. The best part was that this race felt fairly "comfortable" as far as marathons go - there wasn't a point where I hit a wall. It got my wheels turning that I can run a sub-3:00 someday.

13. Blue Ox Marathon, October 2019

Goal: Successfully run these back-to-back races again. Finish 1st Female.
Training: Piggy-backing on Grand Fork's training. My knee and foot felt a little niggly at times, so I did less running and more focus on recovering.
Biggest Victory: Being able to get to the race? Because of snowstorms in the area, the weather was drastically different than two weeks ago. My kids stayed with Grandma and my dad drove me the 2 hours to the race :)
Biggest Challenge: Running in the sleet, rain and wind on very tired legs.
Result: 3:22:40 (7:43/mile), and 1st Female. Just glad to be done. That one hurt! The first half of the race felt "okay" but the last half was lonely and miserable; I'm just glad I didn't stop the many times I wanted to. Dad and I had coffee and some good food afterwards - that was a plus!

After this decade of marathoning, ironically I have zero marathon plans for 2020!
But 2021, I'm coming for ya :)

The overarching lesson that the Lord has taught me through all of these races is that improving at something (whatever it may be) takes time, experience and perseverance. Put the work in and reap the harvest.

Running looks very different in each season of life and I have learned to love the flexibility of this sport. It can be as intense or as laxed as I need. I jumped into marathoning completely clueless to all this running world had to offer and, now that I've got a taste of it, I'm excited to see what the next 10 years have in store.

May your 2020 be blessed!

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