Race Report: Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon 2021

 After a marathon, you never have to tell me twice to "take time off" from running. I'm more than happy to take a break - two weeks is the goal. My current post-marathon cross training is catching up in my insane tornado of a house! The kids and I were gone for nearly a week, came back Sunday, dumped everything here after church and now it's like a pit. No running. Just right back into the school week and then power cleaning on the side.

And writing a race report, of course! 

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On Saturday, I had the privilege of running the Blue Ox Marathon for a fourth year - not consecutive - but my fourth year on the full marathon course. It's actually pretty comical. I am at this race every 2-3 years or so and have had a baby boy in between each Blue Ox race... 

2013: 7 month old E
2016: 3 year old E + 1 year old W
2019: 6 year old E + 4 year old W + almost 2 year old C
2021: 8 year old E + 6 year old W + almost 4 year old C + 1 year old S

Thank you, Jesus, that our family has been growing like crazy over the past 8 years! Though I will say this mama is tired and the pattern will likely not continue from here on out. Our hands are full with four boys in the best kind of way :)

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Training for the past 12 weeks was focused primarily on the Fargo Half Marathon (from two weeks ago) with longer long runs, tempos, and speed efforts thrown in to work for this full marathon as well. I recovered for a few days after the Fargo 13.1, acquired a moderate lower calf strain, and then tapered for the next week leading up to Blue Ox. Thankfully the calf strain resolved itself after icing, compression and easy runs.

Mileage for the half marathon I raced in the Spring was a super low average of 27.5 mpw. For this Fall half and full, the weekly mileage average did increase to 36.4 mpw - still very low for marathon training but better than this Spring. Work in progress here! I'm gradually building up that base while doing my best to recover after baby and maintain a strength work base. 

The Fargo Half Marathon went really well two weeks ago and my goal at the Blue Ox was to run a smart marathon and to be happy with how I ran. Going for a PR in the half and trying to PR in a marathon soon after isn't always a great idea, but it was an idea anyways. 

All in all, I just wanted to end 2021 on a good note.

I lined up with my friend Amanda and planned to stay around 6:50 for the first half marathon of the race and to then re-evaluate based on how I felt. That has grown to be a fairly comfortable pace for long distances but this race would be different because I was running with my hydration pack (lack of volunteers/water stations for this year). I have only used my Orange Mud pack for training - never for racing before. That made me a little, or maybe a lot, nervous.

Trying out mom's hydration vest (w/o water pack in it)

The first half marathon felt okay. The pace was fine, I didn't feel overly fresh, but I'll tell you what - I was well hydrated! And I was in great company. Amanda and I were with two other runners for probably the first 11 or 12 miles or so and I really like running in a group. There is power to being in a pack!


But then, as I hit mile 12 or so, I started falling back. Mainly in self-preservation, because my calves/hams and even quads were feeling very fatigued. Not a skeletal feeling but the muscles. I wasn't sure if that is what cramping feels like, as I haven't had a huge problem with that before. They just felt like fire and there was WAY too much race left to be messing with that.

In hindsight, it could have been the fast paces we had been hitting, fatique from the half marathon PR two weeks ago, the extra weight from a full hydration vest OR more hilly terrain than I am used to. Or maybe my mega-low marathon mileage. Choose your poison? I have been thinking this one over, trying to trouble shoot for future races, but I'm guessing it's a combination of all the factors that lead to my burnt out legs. 

Despite the burning legs, I was really impressed to see the first half marathon was a 1:29:12 for this FULL marathon! That is a huge positive in the big scheme of things as a runner. This was my first year breaking a 1:30 half and then I happened to hit a sub-1:30 while in a full marathon! Pretty cool! Also lead to some discomfort later... #talesofapositivesplitrunner


The first half of the race was super speedy, and really I would have loved to maintain that speed throughout, but the reality of my training set in and I needed to shoot for a 7:15 to stay "alive" and well for the rest of the race. 

A positive to running this course before is that I know where the hills are. 
A negative to running this course is also that I know where the hills are. Hehe.

I shifted to a less speedy mindset and locked in to a marathon-shuffle-y pace. By mile 20, I was mad at my hydration vest (yes, mad at the inanimate object) and dropped it with my dad before turning on to Birchmont Drive. My shoulders were sore, I felt like a heavy Babe the Blue Ox myself and I was analyzing whether I actually drank enough out of my pack to make it worth carrying that weight for 20 miles. 

Per one source I had read earlier in the week, "According to a study that was done in 1978 at the University of Georgia, for every extra 5 pounds of weight, you slow down by 1.4 seconds per mile." At this point in the race, I was regretting carrying my hydration vest. But I felt torn, because especially in the marathon, fueling early and fueling often is so important. I tend to lose my want to drink/eat at the end and I didn't want to get in a rough spot there.

Thankfully, dad and my 6-year-old W were watching at mile 20 and I was able to leave my vest in their care! Freedom! I felt lighter but still pretty tired.


On this course, I struggle with the rolling hills from mile 20 and on. I am a big believer in walking when you need to and this tactic has helped me a lot in this course (it wasn't my goal but it happens)! My legs were on fire back in 2019, too :) I made it a goal to run half way up the larger hills, speed walk the other half and then run down. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

With cramping, tight hips and leg muscles, this run up half/walk up half/run down strategy helps me mentally and it loosened my tightness, too. I also thought any chance of a PR was shot by this point, too.

"Oh well, just finish. I want to enjoy this, " were my thoughts from that point on.


I ended up hitting two fuel stations that had sports drinks - one from the race and one solely from spectators. The timing was perfect and SO appreciated!

I purposely didn't look at my watch's running time to avoid stressing over my finish time. I just kept putsing away. Saying hi to people, complimenting gals rocking their Zyia leggings (lots of them out there!) and cheering the half marathoners on. And smiling at the spectators - that's always fun and some seem surprised when marathoners are smiling at that point!

Psalm 119:32 was written on my hand and that helped me to focus. And maybe my prayer for the last mile of the race was, "Jesus, move my legs. Please move my legs!" That was a fancy prayer, wasn't it?

For that last little homestretch, the clock was now in sight and I saw a 3:10-something. I can make it! I picked up the pace as much as the ole legs allowed and, watching closely, saw that I crossed just before it switched to 3:11.

3:10:55

YES!!! The race didn't feel great (though it was more pleasant than 2019!), my pacing definitely wasn't perfect but a PR is a PR. I was glad to stop running and definitely hobbled more than after most of the marathons I have ran. Those legs just wouldn't loosen up. 


Amanda set a blazing fast Course Record and came in first! After spending some time on the ground, it was time to get up and hit the shower. Then off to a delicious lunch with our families! I actually had a BIG appetite after this race. Not the usual for me!

Marathon #14 was a good one. A memorable one. And a fine ending to 2021 racing. There are definitely things to work on for the next racing season. I'm thankful for the health and growth that God has blessed me with this year and for having my dad and W there to cheer me on. My mom gets the super-grandma award for staying back with the other three boys! Raising a young family really does take a "village" and I'm thankful for mine!


Lesson takeaway from this marathon: Avoid racing with a hydration pack at all costs if going for speed/time goal. Consider a handheld water bottle if the situation ever arises again!








Race Report: Fargo Half Marathon 2021

Fargo was my last 13.1 for 2021! I'm making it my goal to write up a race report BEFORE moving on to the next race. Considering the 26.2 is coming up (tomorrow), I better get these race-report-writing fingers in gear.

The kids and I took off without Leo to make it to the race expo before the 5k started. The expo seemed so normal! It felt great to be back in the hustle and bustle of the race environment. Even with a "smaller" event this year, Fargo is still a big race for our area. I didn't lose track of the kids and I did pick up my race number - that was a successful trip for me.

Afterwards, we found the campground, checked in and Leo drove in with the camper just in time. He set up, we hit the playground and ended the night with a campfire. No s'mores this trip but Oreos did suffice. The Lindenwood Campground was only 5 miles from the race start/finish, which was great, though the interstate was pretty loud all night long. Camping was still a fun adventure for us and their playground was amazing.

We did turn the heater on that night in the camper. Race day was set to be in the 40-50's, which was chilly at first but perfect running weather. Fargo Marathon is usually a May race (Covid changed that this year) and this weekend has actually been the Grand Forks Marathon in previous years. The cooler weather is a huge plus for chasing Fall PRs. 

I felt a little "meh" going in to the race. Tired from life but feeling a little tapered. Training has been creative this cycle, mixing half marathon and full marathon training. I usually don't run 20-milers for half training but needed to for the full. I don't usually run AS fast for strength days in full training but needed to for the half. 

So either this mixture of half & full training was going to be super helpful OR I was going to end up running mediocre at both distances. It was a great experiment :) 

Going in to the half marathon, I felt 100% healthy and uninjured! Just lacking a little energy. Maybe needed more coffee.

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Pre-Race Nutshell: I enjoyed the time visiting with friends, seeing running faces that I have missed, and the lack of bathroom lines in the Fargodome just rocks. They have bathrooms for days. A runner's dream. 

When it was time to line up, I snuggled in behind the Elite fast people and in front of the 1:30 or 1:40 pace group. 

Overall the run was pretty uneventful, in a good way! What I love about running Fargo is that I was never running alone. I always had a pack to run with or someone to chase. When I train solo for the majority of my runs, having company during the race is a great motivator and really passes the miles quickly.

Fueling went well. I had one Clif gel with water around the 7-mile mark and I think that was it for gels. (This is why I should write race reports asap! I can't remember all the details now) At the other aid stations, I took mostly sports drink because I am always in need of calories, even in a half. Breastfeeding a baby makes me a calorie monster for long distance running! ALWAYS. HUNGRY. Always. Thirsty.

Splits were fairly even with my main "crash" being around mile 11. Nothing went over the 7-min mark and that was a big improvement from this Spring's Summer Rocks Half Marathon!


I felt tired but strong overall and the pace felt good. Comfortably hard! For the homestretch, I had a sprint left in me and actually felt pretty fresh doing so. Didn't trip/fall = success.

Finish Time: 1:26:30. The final sprint was worth it to finish in an even time like that. It makes my type-A personality smile :) 

They had a nice spread of great food at the finish line: donuts, donuts, more donuts, toll house pink cookies (my favorite), chocolate milk, chips, fruit, the works! I love a good finish line buffet! I waited for a friend to finish, we stretched and recapped the race before heading out.

Back to the campground - shower - eat lunch - and to the Zoo we went! Running the half marathon left some gas in my tank and going to the zoo was really fun. 

I call this zoo friend, "My Monday Face":

Camping with kiddos is chaotic but the memories are worth it! Leo made pancakes for Nat'l Pancake Day the next morning and we headed home. We were glad to head home, too.

The Fargo Half Marathon was SO fun and getting back to the race atmosphere was a blast! Running a PR was a great way to end my half marathon racing for the year. On this end of training, I feel like running the marathon mileage (longer long runs, longer tempo runs, more mileage), benefited my half marathon race. 

Now for the last part of the experiment: Will the half training speed be beneficial for racing a full two weeks later? (Sidenote: I feel WAY better than when I have raced full marathons two weeks apart!)

Blue Ox Marathon, coming up tomorrow.



Race Report: Summer Sole 10k

Running has been an adventure this year. That's for sure! And, really, a lot of fun.

We're celebrating Baby S' FIRST Birthday this Saturday! It's insane... where did the past year go?! Getting to know this little man and now seeing his toddler antics come out is really a lot of fun. He only stops moving when he's sleeping and enjoys ninja kicking/punching people and random things around the house. Any chance that having three older brothers influenced his behavior?

As far as running goes, my body usually takes that first year postpartum to get back to where I left off in the last season - before the pregnancy. If that makes sense.

The goal over this past year and running season has been to gradually build mileage, to continue strength training and to not get injured (like after baby #3!). Praise Jesus, I have been more physically "sound" this running season than ever before! Definitely more sleep deprived, definitely more stressed (aren't we all? thanks, covid), definitely more on my plate than ever before yet the year has gone surprisingly well. 

After coming back to running after having our second boy in 2015, I had written on the blog that my goal was to get comfortable with the 7:00-7:30/mile pace. Over the years, that goal became much more attainable! Then training for the marathons in 2019, my tempo pace goal was usually 7:05 or so. Low 7's. It didn't necessarily translate to the marathon that year (ended up 7:18 avg) but my body did adapt and become more efficient at low 7's. 

Isn't it amazing to see what our bodies are capable of? 

After our fourth boy, I have been whittling away at that "comfortable" pace zone and didn't hurry back into the long long distances, technically. No marathons at 7 months postpartum this time! I have enjoyed shorter races, track workouts and building the confidence to run in the 6/min miles for long stretches. It's not so bad... I would dare to say it's getting to be fun.

Don't they say that running is 90% mental and the other 10% is in your head? ;)

Anyways. Running Goal for the rest of this year: Race smart, run the pace confidently and stay physically sound (and mentally, emotionally sound is nice, too).

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Time for a quick 10k race report! 

I wasn't feeling great when I hit the hay on Friday night before the race. Woke up with a sick, unsettled stomach that morning - nerves, maybe? I wasn't sure but figured I would go for it. I hitched a ride with a friend and her mom; company always makes things more fun! 

Long story short, my stomach never did settle. It just hurt. No matter what I ate or drank; no matter how many times I was in the porta-potty line. Gross, I know.

The paces pretty much say it all! Ouch. Started out at the pace I wanted and couldn't maintain it at all. One thing I did maintain was not throwing up. I am proud of that! I was hoping to practice the 6:30 pace I wanted to run for Fargo's Half Marathon, though that plan changed quickly.

Hung on, barely, and finished! 
 

 First female and a PR! But not the race that I was going for. I was happy with the day though because it was 100% the best I could run, given how I was feeling! I really hoped that this wasn't a preview of how pacing would go for the Fargo Half - maybe I wasn't fit enough to keep a 6:30-something going? If I couldn't keep at it for a 10k, a half wasn't really going to work out. 
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Plot twist:
After hitching a ride home, I ended up running a fever and having some major mastitis set in. I forgot how painful that is! I spent the rest of Saturday and all of Sunday laying down, trying to rest. Tylenol kept the fever down and lots of hydration, rest and nursing baby helped the mastitis to chill out. 

The mastitis did resolve in a couple days and was thankfully WAY less painful by Monday. But whew. That is so not fun! (I was so close to going to the ER over the weekend!) As for what my body was fighting on Friday night leading up to that, I don't even know. But I am thankful I was able to push through the race. I know it's the prayers that helped to heal me without getting antibiotics and even lunch brought to us from our church family that helped me to recover - it takes a village and I'm so thankful for ours! 

So, race report in a nutshell, sometimes you do your best to train and race day just doesn't work out. That's part of life and part of running - it's not a failure, just a bump in the road of long-term improvements. 

I try to learn something from each race and with this one I'm not quite sure what it is. Maybe: 

"Beware of a teething nursling. You CAN get mastitis at 11 months postpartum"
or 
"Take off sweaty sports bra ASAP after races or workouts while lactating"

Good enough - those are the lessons learned this time! Mastitis aside, this was still a great experience overall. 

A Gentle Feast: Cycle 3 Term 1

With all the madness going on in the world  seems to be getting crazier by the day  the curiosity about homeschooling is growing. I often get asked: 

Do I write my own curriculum? — quick answer: no
What curriculum do we use? — more on that below 

(I don't often get asked "why" anymore; must be because the reasons to homeschool are only increasing and are becoming quite obvious.)

While I feel like we are still so new to this homeschool life and my kids are quite young, I thought it would be most helpful to write a summary of what our homeschool looks like. There are so many options available now and every homeschool looks a little different. This is just a quick look at what works for us. 

Before we jump into curriculum, summer is worth mentioning! It was a blast, loads of fun were jammed into just a few months and I'm looking forward to getting back into the school routine. Mom is tired! 

Some highlights were going to the County Fair (we missed that so much last year!), getting a puppy (Ruby the Border Collie), playing t-ball and baseball, swimming, visiting family, camping and seeing the Blue Angels at an air show! And likely more summer fun that I can't remember right now. :) 


We started school this week and the timing has been perfect. Ideally school should only take us 2.5 hours or so; but throw in almost one-year-old S and the days are more unpredictable. 

I will say, the older that my boys are getting, the more I love homeschooling them. Our youngest is my wild card and I do my best to keep him busy eating, playing while trapped with us in the gated living room or sleeping. Three-year-old C is able to listen to many of our subjects and plays quietly for the most part. Eventually he does get restless and tries to distract his older brothers. 

Here's a look at our plans for the new school year:

This is our third year of using A Gentle Feast and, with each year that we use this curriculum created by Julie Ross, I grow to appreciate it more and more. This is our last year of all the kids being in "Form I", which is grades 1-3. We are in Cycle 3 this year: Reforms, Revolutions, and Reconstruction.


For each year, I have bought the Morning Time guide along with the main curriculum book. The Morning Time Bundle is worth every penny! Each Term's memory verse, composer/artist study, poetry, hymn and more are included and for each Form student  from 1st grade to 12th. 

Saving the hassle of pulling things up on the laptop or gathering picture studies here or poems there is worth it. 100%. We are working through the Spanish plan included in the AGF resources as well and happened to find the "Let's Speak Spanish" book free somewhere. 

I do pull up episodes of "Classics for Kids" for our composer study on Chopin this term. They have awesome free material there to supplement each composer. 

Sidenote: For the Hymn each month, we do follow along with Happy Hymnody's schedule instead. They have a video and printable lyrics each month on their website. 
I receive a booklist with the AGF curriculum and then look up the books in our library's online catalog (over the summer). For any books that aren't available there, or special ones that I want to keep on hand, I used mostly abebooks.com this year along with Rainbow Resources for geography items. Two friends also run excellent bookstores on Instagram that are perfect for hunting down quality living books: Eaglecove Books and Vienna's Window Seat Finds

With our boys in 3rd grade (E),  K/1st (W), and pre-K (C), we cover the majority of the subjects together but my expectations are different for each (of course!). For map work in Geography, for example, E labels his own map, while I will label W's for him. Then C just colors the map and we don't even worry about labels! 

E and W narrate after readings and sometimes read the books aloud to us. E has his own independent reading to do along with copywork. Both E and W are fluent readers and spend time reading to their younger brothers for their pre-school and pre-pre-pre-school :) The more practice reading, the better.

Subjects we share are: Bible, the "Beauty" Loop, Spanish, Natural History, Geography, History, Nature and Sol-Fa (ear training and voice exercises). 

Some of the Geography, History & Natural History resources for Weeks 1-6

Individual Totes. These have made my life SO much easier this week! Each boy has his own independent study tote with Language Arts, Math and any extra resources or tools they need. Even the baby has his own tote for toys to keep him busy! 

This has kept things neat and school books are no longer strewn across our house, kitchen table, couch, etc. I carry the day's subjects in my school bag, along with a planner, the Bible and Morning Time guide. This will make taking school to different rooms, on the road or outside much easier. 
Starting with the youngest guys, baby S's tote is filled with toys, Tupperware or measuring cups, like I mentioned above. C is my 3-year-old preschooler and honestly I just need to keep him busy. He has new crayons for the school year and I bought him a book on sale for $4 from Rainbow Resources. Good enough - that's his school for the year. 

He listens along to the Bible and other subject read alouds and recites poetry & Scripture memory work with the older brothers. These young ones are capable of so much more than we realize! Forget Baby Shark (can't stand that song. I prefer "Busy Bee" from Nursery Tracks, which is equally as annoying :), young ones enjoy quality music and books as well. 
W is 6 and in K/1st grade... determining grades is confusing in homeschool! Basically, he reads and does math at the 1st grade level but, if I were sending him to public school, I would have him in Kindergarten for more time to develop and grow. Summer birthdays are hard!

He narrates our readings and then uses a mixture of last year's Phonics Museum book and 100 Gentle Lessons in Sight & Sound from AGF. For math, he is loving Singapore Math's Dimensions Math! Seriously. I have to make him stop each day! He. Loves. Number Bonds. 
E is 8 and in 3rd grade. He is working through the Lower Elementary Language Arts plan and desperately wants to learn cursive. I will grab him the cursive book for the next year, since this one is already here and in print. Whoops :) "Riding the Pony Express" is his independent reader and I have him write a sentence about each chapter in his narration notebook. For math, he's finishing up in his Dimensions Math 2A book (not corresponding to grade levels) from last year and enjoys learning multiplication and division. 

As far as testing, which is required in Minnesota, I plan to test E at the end of Term 1 this year instead of waiting til the end of the school year. Testing went well last year and personally it is helpful as a teacher to have your students assessed! We went with the CAT paper test last year and plan to keep on that path. 
Another HUGE help this year: I'm using a Plum Paper planner for school/and the rest of life and it is AWESOME. A homeschooling mom and co-op friend recommended this planner and I couldn't be more pleased with it! Comment below or email me for a referral link and 10% off discount :) 
That's all for now! Have a blessed start to the new school year and to God be the glory!

Explore the A Gentle Feast curriculum here and feel free to email me or comment here with any questions! Disclaimer: This post contains my A Gentle Feast affiliate link. If you click it, and make a purchase I will receive a commission.

Race Report: Summer Rocks Half Marathon

 It's been so long since I've written a race report! I'm actually digging up an old one from my blog to somewhat copy the format. 2019 was the last year of my in-person races. For myself <baby boy #4 was/is well worth it!> and probably for most of the running community as well <thanks, Covid-19>. Needless to say, getting back into the race environment felt A-MAZING! 

This was the inaugural Summer Rocks Half Marathon and the race timing was perfect; especially with the Fargo Marathon being moved to the Fall for 2021. A friend and I had planned to run a half marathon post-baby "time trial" on our own but I had a wedding come up - so that didn't work out. Then along came this race.

Training was a bit all over the place, as is life with young kiddos. My average mileage was 27.5 miles per week - crazy low but for the half marathon, it was going to work. I knew I could at least finish the race and some solid longer workouts mixed in to that low mileage made me think that I could still shoot for a sub-1:30 goal. 

Just a note: Fitting in 20-25 miles per week felt like a major feat with all the kiddos. Most of my struggle was with morning workouts. Baby's unpredictable wake up times, plus night waking, made it tricky to sneak out for workouts before the other kids were up. Stroller workouts aren't an option with the four kiddos and the treadmill was a desperate move - baby just cried when I ran on that. All in all, this is getting easier now! Baby S is 9 months old now and much better at a decent wake-up time :) For a season, fitting in time to even go to the bathroom or shower is ridiculous. Though things get easier! Time. Enjoying where I'm at and just giving it time. That saying "babies don't keep" is so true. The older three are growing up so quick - I am going to miss my chubby baby snuggles!!!

Okay, back to the race thing. We had a local 5k a couple weeks before the race and I had done a solo time trial mile on our track in town. Increasing speed has been the focus this year so far and I plan to keep working at that! 

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On race morning, I woke up at 3:00 am to pump a bottle for S (that he didn't even drink), eat breakfast and scoot out the door. The forecast looked hot for race day so I drank a Nuun along with my breakfast, in an attempt to pre-hydrate some. I have gone into races dehydrated while breastfeeding and I just can't recover - tried to avoid that this time. Then I drank coffee because mama needs coffee.

Baby S nursed at 3:50 and then I loaded up to leave. I picked up Amanda around 4:45 and to Fargo we went! 

We had a great time visiting on the way, talking about all things Jesus and this wife/mama life. I find it helpful to not dwell on the race too much. The race day "jitters" felt a little extra this morning! 

We made it to the race with plenty of time to pick up packets, hit the bathrooms (no lines! amazing), change shoes and stay out of the rain. Yes, it was raining, but they had plenty of indoor space for runners to stay dry and also building overhangs outside. The race felt small, which was just right in my opinion. Perfect size for a first race back. Amanda and I went for a short shake out run and then we headed to the line up.

This race did have pacers available, with the fastest one at 1:40. We lined up just in front of him with another gal and waited there. The rain wasn't terrible and temp wasn't as hot as I had expected! The humidity was definitely a thing but it could have been much worse. 

And we're off! 

There were a few sharp turns to make on slippery ground but no mishaps that I saw at least. We ran a lot of sidewalks and dodged the goose poop. The Canadian Geese seemed content watching and I appreciated that they didn't attack :) I chased Amanda for a while but soon lost her and the runners in the front spread out. 

Free race day pictures! 
I knew I wasn't trained well enough to keep up a 6:30/mile pace so I dropped back and sat around 6:45/mile. Technically that was also aggressive considering my training (or lack of), though I knew I should stay ambitious to make up for crashing in the end of the race. A solid positive split race goal. Not exactly the "right" way to do it though it got the job done.

There was plenty of time to think on the course, with not really any runners around - except for that guy that passed me half way through - and sparse crowds. Mentally I was getting a little restless and struggled to calm down my breathing (and my mind), so I thought about Psalm 23's verses 1-3: The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. Amen and amen. I forgot to write Scripture on my hand, though that particular Psalm was on my heart at the time.

My #1 biggest issue in this race was not wanting to take in calories. Something about my fueling earlier that day or maybe just race day nerves made it hard to consume calories. I grabbed water at the aid stations and 100% should have taken gatorade instead. It's easy to see that in hindsight now! Every race is a learning experience, right? 

I took a gel at around mile 6 but couldn't stomach the whole thing. Not great, though I didn't feel the consequences of that yet. Then for the final aid station, I missed the gatorade with another runner already there and I didn't want to lose time by slowing down. I paid for those crucial fueling mistakes in mile 12 by just feeling terrible. Super duper hungry, tanked for energy and dizzy - so I "marathon shuffled" my way to the finish line because I REALLY didn't want to miss that sub-1:30 goal! 


1:28:38! I made it! 

I appreciated Amanda cheering me on through the last leg of the race - she finished 1st female with a blazing fast 1:25! After crossing the finish, I sat down on the astroturf to regain myself. The lack of calories left me feeling dizzy and nauseous. Post-race they did hand the finishers a water along with their medal and a free post-race beer was available. I figured a beer wasn't the best calories for me to take in at the moment; especially on an empty stomach. Thankfully Amanda saved the day with bars that she had packed for both of us! 


After changing into clean clothes, we had the BEST caramel roll at Lucky's 13 Pub followed by massive breakfast burritos. I wish I could say we devoured the food but our appetites hadn't completely returned yet. That made for great take-home food though :) And we grabbed coffee, too. Overall this "Mom's Morning Out" was a blast! 



Breaking 1:30 has been a big goal of mine and I'm so thankful to have finally done that! My legs didn't feel great or very well-tapered and, in a way, that is encouraging. This 13.1 felt more like a group workout done on tired legs. My hope is that I can keep working at the speed and gradually increasing base mileage to push in the half marathon even more this Fall. As much as I love the full marathon, racing shorter distances this year has been good for me. And hopefully that will translate to more marathon speed in the future!

(official time 1:28:38)




A Gentle Feast: Cycle 2 Term 2 + 3 Review

The school year ended along with the month of May and we made a mad dash straight into summer life! 

After a Memorial Day weekend camping trip, our older two boys did enjoy an entire week at Grandma & Grandpa's farm before baseball started. They loved that and I appreciated the time hanging out with our youngest two boys. 

I haven't taken the time yet to reflect on the last two terms of our school year - so now is that time! We followed along with A Gentle Feast's Cycle 2 (White Year): Wars, Whigs & Washington.

We loved the book selections and were introduced to so many new favorites. The 4th of July Story by Alice Dalghesh was one of my personal favorites - a great read for children and adults. 

A lesson I learned is that we need to have all books in-hand, if at all possible. America First and Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans are available free online and I went that direction at first because, well, they're free! But I soon found that attention spans and even keeping our place between lessons was difficult. I was able to find printed versions online (on Amazon, I believe) and wished I had done that from the very beginning. Now we really have learned so much from those stories and aren't as distracted by pulling them up on the computer. 

So note to self: Physical books in our hands are best.
Studying American history really has pumped the boys up and made them proud to be an American! Our preschooler's "copywork" proved to be quite patriotic:
Now for our extra readalouds... we have totally been doing our own thing. And that's okay! My husband and the boys have an affinity for adventure books and I'm just happy to have us all enjoy readalouds together. Over many winter evenings, we read Endurance by Alfred Lansing aloud. It is an amazing story and was enjoyed by ALL ages. Well, I'm not sure the baby cared. Everyone else loved it though! 


Dimensions Math was a great fit for us again this year. E finished up book 2A and will finish 2B either this summer or in his 3rd grade year. W finished the Earlybird Kindergarten books from Singapore Math also. 

E was also required to test in the state of Minnesota this year. We went with the CAT paper version and the testing process was painless :) With this being our first year, I wasn't sure what to expect! Thankfully, my mother-in-law was here to help with other kids during the testing. Testing has been helpful to make sure we are covering the materials we need to and he did great! 

(Disclaimer: This term review is just as scattered as my brain currently is! Thank you for bearing with me!)

Term 2/3 Challenges: 

  • Keeping a very active, busy 3-year-old on task and out of trouble
  • Nursing a baby while doing all things
  • Meal planning. #Goals.
  • Writing up Term reviews in a timely manner - I will be better at this next school year! 

Term 2/3 Victories: 

  • Having two readers that can read to younger siblings
  • Buying the Tuttle Twins book series. We love it! They are so fun to read and helpful! 
  • Activities and the library opening up again after Covid-19
  • Our homeschool co-ops. We are in a monthly Charlotte Mason co-op and then a field-trip based co-op in our town. The kids and I greatly appreciate the fellowship of both of these groups!
  • Our household needed more action so we got a puppy. Talk about a homeschool nature study ;) See random puppy picture below.

In the midst of summer fun and crazy schedules, I did order part of our curriculum for A Gentle Feast's Cycle 3! Julie has done a wonderful job on this curriculum and I'm looking forward to our third year using it... which will also be our last year of all the kids being in Form I, grades 1-3 (!!!). It's pretty nice having everyone in the same form! 

Explore the A Gentle Feast curriculum here and feel free to email me or comment here with any questions! Disclaimer: This post contains my A Gentle Feast affiliate link. If you click it, and make a purchase I will receive a commission.

A Gentle Feast: Cycle 2 Term 1

Alright, 2020. Who hit the cray button?

My last curriculum review ended with some wishful thoughts, that maybe life would return to a somewhat "normal" in the next term. Little did I know, things would get a whole lot more cray!... If you haven't heard of Family Force 5, you need to watch their Cray Button video :)

Anywhoo - Our layout for A Gentle Feast Cycle 2, Term 1 looked a little like this:

I knew the kids would love the Cycle 2: Wars, Whigs, and Washington readaloud books - and I really enjoy them, too. As it turns out, reading about the American Revolution (especially now in Term 2) is very applicable to this current time in our country. Learning about heroes like Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, along with lesser known heroes as well, has been really encouraging. 

We started Term 1 early, as our fourth baby was due mid-September. I had a hunch he or she would arrive a little early so we wanted to work ahead and be ready. As it turns out, on September 18th (at 39 weeks 1 day) we added ten little fingers and ten little toes - a brand new baby BOY - to our family. He's sweet, cuddly and loved like crazy by this family. The brothers are all over him... seriously. I carry him a lot.


Before baby came, we were able to capitalize on all the outdoor adventures, trips to the pool and to the park as much as possible. COVID still greatly changed life this term, with our library programs being shut down and many businesses affected. Even church has been different. We did still meet with our homeschool co-op and their fellowship is really encouraging and necessary; especially in unusual times like this in our country. I'm thankful that our co-op, my husband's job and our general school studies haven't been too affected by COVID.

While we enjoyed the warm late-Summer/Fall weather, the boys had a few Monarch Caterpillars that we caught and then watched emerge as butterflies a couple weeks later. That is a favorite for all of us! Nature study at it's finest! 


After baby boy arrived, we took a two-week break from school. The older kids went to my parents' farm for five days. Then we did some bonding as a new family of 6 and, soon after, my mother-in-law came to stay with us when baby was two weeks old. 

That was SO helpful. There is no maternity leave in the homeschool/sahm life and I was thankful to have all the help I could get! The boys went to corn mazes with both my mom and then later on with dad and my mother-in-law. I was worried about them "missing out" on all the fun of Fall when I was recovering after baby but they didn't miss a beat.

It also helped a bunch that my mother-in-law is a substitute teacher and she greatly helped to split up the teaching as we eased back into school - along with playing catch with the boys in the backyard almost every day! 

The kids LOVED the Term 1 readalouds; with the d'Aulaire books being the favorite. Our biggest struggle is books without pictures - go figure. For a few history readings, the material was a black/white PDF document. That was tricky with young kids and limited attention spans. I worked to spice it up by looking up color photos of the subjects and a short video or picture book, if available. We made it through and at least the second grader retained something. 

For the Burgess Bird Book, we listen to it on Libravox and then supplement with bird pictures, audio and video on AllAboutBirds.org. Watching the birds in action and hearing them made it fun for all ages. I don't require that the middle two boys sit through all the school subjects but they prefer to anyway.


For math, E continued to work through Dimensions Math 1B for second grade and W finished Earlybird Kindergarten A (both from Singapore Math) for his preschool. Singapore's math approach is proving to work really well for both of the boys so far. 

Now keeping our newly three-year-old C busy is another story... he's extra busy and not as good at quietly tinkering as the older two were at this age. He's loud, fearless and ambitious, which I love. Using those qualities for good and not destruction is something we're working on :) Counting cheerios or sorting toys works for a while; not long though. I'm just accepting that this is a busy, messy season and that's just the way it should be. 

E is working through the Language Arts book for Cycle 2 and enjoys reading to his brothers and also on his own for fun. The variety in the lessons and how they tie into our readings for that week is perfect. W is working in his Phonics Museum workbook and taught himself to read. Those younger kids really do listen in on everything! He works through BOB Books now to practice this new skill.


Term 1 Challenges: 

  • Recovering after baby and all the postpartum crazy; birth went great but there isn't much time to rest these days and, well, I'm older this time around
  • Teaching multiple kids who ask multiple questions at the same time. Lots of questions & needs but only one mom. We are practicing taking turns with questions and waiting patiently!
  • Juggling life. New baby, pumping, school, projects (throw in some freelance work, why not!), maintaining a home. I can't wait for warm weather to return - like 4 months from now.

Term 1 Victories: 

  • W learning to read! C being potty trained = only one in diapers!
  • The helpfulness of older kids and of having more readers in the house
  • Hitting baby's 3 month milestone and generally just feeling more like a human, less like a zombie :)         
We finished up Term 1 just in time for Thanksgiving and the kids spent the holidays working on some serious life skills - snowcatting and fourwheeling!


Currently we'll be jumping back into Term 2 in the New Year; and I'm praying that 2021 will be better than 2020. We have had so many blessings in 2020 that I want to make sure not to overlook. < Hello, sweet baby boy, a new nephew and a new sister-in-law!!!> Yet I pray that we can hang on to the freedoms that we have been blessed with in this country for so long. If there's one thing we have learned from our latest history reads this cycle: freedom isn't free.

In the words of Patrick Henry, "Give me liberty, or give me death!"

Explore the A Gentle Feast curriculum here and feel free to email me or comment here with any questions! Disclaimer: This post contains my A Gentle Feast affiliate link. If you click it, and make a purchase I will receive a commission.