Monday, October 24, 2016

Three Rivers Trail Half Marathon Race Recap, with Loosely Related Gifs

My goals for the half marathon I ran over the weekend, in descending importance:

  1. Not have an asthma attack.
  2. Treat it as something I get to do, not have to do, because for crying out loud that is what it is.
  3. Run a smart race; specifically, not get caught up in the energy at the start line and go out too fast, fuel appropriately throughout, do frequent checks on my form to keep myself light and upright.  
  4. Do my best in whatever circumstances I find myself in Saturday morning.
  5. Beat my previous half marathon time.
  6. Finish somewhere around the two hour mark.
  7. *Secret stretch goal* Finish under two hours.

Let's break it down.

The list, I mean.  Although if it's hammer time and you want to break it down, I say do it.

1.  Remember two years ago when I had an awful asthma attack around miles 4 through 7 of my first half mary and it slowed me waaaaay down and I wanted to die and the whole running+asthma thing wore me out so badly I got home, went straight to bed, and slept like the dead for two hours?

I do.  I remember that.

Asthma isn't something that's easily controllable in the moment; I mean, that's kind of the nature of the beast.  There are things I can do to set myself up for asthma success (or... something), however, like doing my best to remain calm, taking my allergy meds, and keeping my inhaler with me.  Allergy pill an hour pre-race: check; inhaler in my fuel pouch thingy: check; remaining calm: well, that one's more or less on Mindy, my amazing friend who informed me a week ago she would be accompanying me to my race, even though it meant getting up before 5 AM and dedicating the bulk of her Saturday to an event she wasn't even participating in.  Having her to talk to in the car for the hour and a half drive there kept me calmer than anything, as it prevented me from dwelling in a pit of race anxiety and despair.

2.  Between various small injuries and an autumn jam-packed with change (all three kids in school, going from staying at home for ten years to two part-time jobs, etc, etc) and just being plain tired, I was feeling pretty burnt out on running.  I still loved it, but I was feeling more resentment than excitement over this stupid meany race I'd signed up for many moons ago.  This is ridiculous because NO ONE WAS MAKING ME DO THIS.  This one basically involved remembering gratitude and keeping the following in mind:

3.  I was in the middle of the pack at the starting line, and as soon as the gun went off (aka the app blared on the race director's phone, as this was a pretty small race), I was passed by a large number of the people running for the first half mile or so.  The following three miles, I stayed in the same position relative to all the other runners, then spent the remaining ten miles slowly passing most of those people who went out way too fast at the start.  This was exactly what I wanted to do, so hallelujah and pass the peaches.

My fueling was perfect thanks in large part to the race fuel fairy/ my friend Anne, who surprised me by dropping off a baggie of goodies at my front door last week.  Included was a packet of Huma gel, and as I discovered at mile 6 Saturday morning, this is my new favorite running gel.  I've tried GU, and it's fine, I've tried Clif gel, and the caffeine in it makes my stomach cramp, I've tried gummy bears, and while those work for me on my training runs, I've discovered I am unable to chew and run with any speed at the same time [insert walking and chewing gum joke here].  SO if you are a runner or endurance athlete-type person with a gut that is such a diva you've considered naming it after one of the Kardashians, I (and Anne the Wonder Triathlete!) recommend Huma.  Also of note is that the consistency of Huma is considerably less nasty than that of GU, at least to my palate.

4.  Stomach, weather, whatever, I wanted to make the best of whatever circumstances happened to occur Saturday morning, all toward that same goal of not being a miserable cow.  It's a good goal.

5 & 6.  My previous half marathon PR (personal record, rubes) wasn't great, due to the asthma and it being my first race, thus having no earthly idea what I was doing.  My primary goal in that race was to finish.  Fine, mission accomplished.  Anytime someone asked what time I was aiming for (as people are wont to do, I have found), my answer was around two hours.  I felt these were reasonable goals and well within my abilities.

7.  The goal I felt I could only accomplish if circumstances lined up and I had a great day was to finish in less than two hours.  Still within reach, but not if my stomach was acting up or it was raining or windy or the course was unexpectedly hilly or treacherous or strewn with hinkypunks.  I averaged a pace a bit under nine minutes per mile and finished comfortably under two hours, beating my previous time by 26 minutes.  This is a slow pace to many runners, but not this one. All this meant the first several miles felt great, the middle few miles still felt pretty good, and the final few felt hard up to the end, where believe me, I was toast.  But mentally, I was doing this:

Matter of fact, I still can't do that because HOLY HAMSTRINGS.  SO SORE.  Also I am not M.C. Hammer.  M.C. Hammerstrings?

Big fat juicy thanks to Derek for never ever ever complaining when I want/need to go for a run- even the multiple-hour ones that take up so much of our Saturday mornings;

to my mom for watching over our chitlins race morning and going above and beyond the call of duty by taking them to IHOP for breakfast, then shoe shopping, then walking on a nature trail, then introducing them to the wonders of Miracle on 34th Street when I made it perfectly clear she was welcome to just park them in front of the tv whilst I was running and Derek and Mark were golfing,

to Mindy for getting up hours before sunrise to distract me from my own horrible brain and being on the course at mile 3 to take my various layers I was suddenly too hot for and throwing at her feet, then at mile 12-point-something to take my phone because it was suddenly too heavy to carry anymore, then cheering and yelling me across the finish line, along with innumerable pep talks and being a darn good friend,

to Anne for the race treats and encouraging texts mid-race and always being willing to accept with good humor the unflattering selfies I take mid-run, along with innumerable pep talks and being a darn good friend,

to Derek's mom Becky for giving up her Saturday morning to drive up to the race and cheer me on, even though it wasn't the kind of course that easily allows for spectators and it took quite a bit of effort on her part for just a few seconds of "Hi, Kristy!" that nonetheless were encouraging to me,

to all the other people I'm forgetting because I'm a terrible person, and to you, because how on earth are you still reading this?,


to chocolate chunk brownies, forever and ever, amen.

All right, so these clearly aren't chocolate chunk brownies, but this *is* a gif that apparently has a subliminal image of historically-inaccurate white-skinned, blue-eyed Jesus.  HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO RESIST?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Kermit Understands

I hope this has been you lately.  I really do.

I hope you haven't been kept up at night, literally losing sleep for the first time over a presidential election, and wondering (in a disbelieving, appalled sort of way) more specifically how, how people you love could support a candidate with whom you'd feel actual fear if you were trapped in an elevator with them?
*elevator doors close, begins mentally reviewing self-defense moves*

Because social media has lately left me feeling like either the gif immediately above or the one immiately below,

where I say to myself, "Look!  A post by Loved One!  I shall view this post, which I'm sure will exude the love and light that I know is in line with our shared beliefs!"  But then, alas...

So I have been limiting my time in those online spaces, because I want to continue to love my loved ones after November, right?  

Instead I've been planting bulbs and running with friends and watching the newest season of Midsomer Murders with Derek and reading terrific books with the kids and preparing for a visit from my mom and Mark, all which transform me from that background cat into foreground Kermit.

I hope you've been doing the same, or whatever it is that brings you a measure of peace.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

After School

Half the days I've worked at the orchard lately, I've checked out, run home to get the kids off the bus, saying to myself, "I am in no way, shape, or form ready to go right back there.  I will only take the kids if they specifically ask to go.  Surely they're too tired from a long, strenuous day of book-learnin', though."

Then Atticus disembarks from the giant metal twinkie, marches up to me, and sweetly asks, "Can we go to the orchard?"


But I am a big girl with big girl panties of my very own, so I figuratively change into those and literally change out of my orchard shirt so I am not accosted within moments of re-entering.  Besides, I tell myself, I do so enjoy mentally adding up the "saved" cost of all these complementary visits we make, kind of like all the money you "save" at Kohl's.  (Side note:  Does anyone else want to demand "Exactly how stupid do I look to you?" when the Kohl's cashier tells you "You saved X dollars today!"  Not to worry, I do not, as despite what I may lead you to believe on this blog I do have some interpersonal skills, not to mention a healthy respect for all the garbage our friends in retail have to stomach on a daily basis.)

So we jump backwards into the corn pool.

We swoon over our son's profile.  (Maybe just me doing that.)

We hold baby goats, despite the fact that they won't stop trying to eat our clothing and hair.

We go down the combine slide.

And we do our homework in the van on the way there and back- one my stipulations for being allowed to go immediately after school.

I promise, we do still have a third child, and he is allowed to come to the orchard with us; he does not have a cupboard under the stairs.  Here is a photo of him and Derek reading on a tiny red couch at the library, instead.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Adventures in Mothering

Adelaide has been begging to dye her hair for months now.  She has beautiful, golden, almost honey-colored hair (when it's brushed, anyway),

but she wanted to dye it.  And the color she wanted her hair to be was blue.

Have you seen this hair craze?  It would be hard to miss it, at least around here, as you can hardly walk into a store without seeing at least one person with pink or purple or, yes, blue streaks or layers in their hair.  Our daughter's one true heart's desire was to have completely blue hair, though; fortunately for her, Derek and I recognize that one of our primary roles as parents is to thwart her every desire and goal in life (actual words that came out of her actual mouth once, although I'm pretty sure it was in reference to my telling her she could not buy an entire family-sized package of oreos to consume alone, even if it was with her own money- I'm proud to say the dramatic, exaggerative gene runs strong through our family lines).

Daughter is learning patience, however, so she would bring up the subject of blue hair every so often, ask to wander down the Grande Aisle of Hair Dyes anytime we were at Wal-Mart together, but never got upset when we said, "Not right now," or "We need to discuss this further."

And so, last Sunday, we caved.  Adelaide bought a box of blue dye with her own funds (supplied by Grandma Lorri, so in a circuitous way this is all on you, Mom), she and I set up our temporary salon in the kitchen, and I waited for her to stop wriggling like a happy puppy so I could begin coloring her hair.

We initially agreed upon blue streaks, but the first step for this particular kit was to bleach- yes, bleach- the desired portion of hair, as this apparently makes it so that the final color is more vivid.  I didn't want to have bleach anywhere near her scalp, and I wanted to have the option to chop off any damaged portions of hair at some point in the future, so in the end we agreed to color the bottom third or so of her hair, which she was more than fine with, as it meant more blue hair overall.
When I imagine past me, the mother of one-year-old Adelaide, somehow reaching into the future and seeing this picture, she is screaming.  

I was glad Adelaide had gotten all that patience-practice, as she certainly had to exercise it while waiting thirty minutes for the bleach (bleach!) to set in, then washing it out, then waiting another hour for the blue dye to set after application, and finally rinsing it out, which took a while in and of itself; I think we both began to believe the water was never going to run clear.

In the end, though, she's thrilled with the final product.
The color is not as uneven as this photo would have you believe.  I'm not a big hair person, but I don't suck that much.

I'm not sure how I managed to get two pictures where her hair color matches the cloth underneath it; I suppose it was inevitable as her favorite color is, shockingly, blue, and she swaths herself in the color whenever possible.

And that is how we ended up with a ten-year-old daughter with blue hair.  By doing it ourselves.  I'm pretty sure this makes us the ultimate DIYers.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Four Things

  • This week Facebook reminded me how much I love- and have always loved- to torture our children.

Four years ago I took that picture of almost-two-year-old Caedmon, despite the fact that he was getting annoyed with the camera in my hands.  These days, if they do not want me to snap a photo, I desist and find more creative ways to irritate them.  I don't know why I so delight in these kids of ours' angry faces, but man, do I.  Look at his little face!  He's always been something of an intense creature, which probably helps explain my frequent urge to lighten the mood.  If anything, our children should leave this nest someday knowing not to take themselves too seriously.  I have no regrets.  (So far.)

  • My pumpkins are finally ripening!
I was so excited by the Long Island Cheese heirloom pumpkins that Adelaide felt the need to make fun of my gourd-inspired jubilation, as seen in the above photo.  I was tempted to respond to her mockery by saying things like, "Nobody appreciates my pumpkin-growing prowess!" or maybe "You're grounded!" but given my previously mentioned delight in poking fun at our children, I really felt like I had no place in disciplining our children for behavior they may or may not have learned from a certain Gourd Growing Queen (long may she reign).  (I am also obviously more than capable of encouraging myself in my gardening pursuits, and can withstand all manner of taunts from certain snarky daughters.)
Hello, beautiful pumpkin plant curlicue-thing!

  • My trail half marathon is three weeks from today.  This means that this morning was one of my last long runs of the year, which makes me holler "HAL-LE-LU-JAH" because, as seen in this rare early morning picture of me... 
... I'm not much of a morning person.  

But then I get out the door, and, well, I'm actually still really cranky for the first couple miles.  Things always tend to get a little brighter once the sun comes up, though. (That one's for you, punny friends.)
I know this photo isn't nearly as pleasant for all the farmers who've experienced a delayed harvest this year due to an incredibly rainy September, so- sorry, farmers.  I love your work!  I also love sun over corn stalks, especially since I know that once that corn is gone, winter is not far away.  

  • And now, because I always feel vaguely guilty when I have two of our children in one post but leave the third one out, here is a picture of Atticus reading in the van.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Birthday Boy

Last week, Caedmon turned six.

Other things happened too, of course, but the big event was the celebration of six years of life for the youngest Crisler.
When he wasn't pretending to be a ninja (don't tell him I used the words "pretending" and "ninja" in the same sentence, he'll be deeply offended; in Caedmon's mind, when he dons this birthday suit- I mean birthday ninja suit, not, you know, the other kind- he becomes a ninja, he is a ninja, never mind the fact that he's neither Japanese nor an adult nor a resident of the 15th century.), anyway, when he wasn't doing that, he was asking to go to a certain ice cream-serving restaurant for his birthday.
This is the same restaurant we went to for Adelaide's fifth birthday, where a much younger Caedmon went from "friends" to "it's complicated" with a waitress there.  Thankfully he no longer does such things, or he wouldn't have had a very happy birthday at all.

Six doesn't seem that much older than five to me, possibly because our Caedmon still seems to believe "superhero" is a viable occupation for his future adult self, and has been a sweet curmudgeon for years, anyway.
Trying and failing to scowl.  That goes for both of us.

For now, he's content to create chalk renderings of his beloved heroes on the sidewalk.  Please note that our six year old now has more artistic ability than I do.

Happy, Happy Birthday, Caedmon!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Apples and Jumping and Jumping and Apples

The seasonal work I've recently undertaken is that of school tour guide at our local apple orchard/pumpkin patch/place you go to wear your kids out.  This is fairly ideal as they took my "I can only work two days a week for these very limited hours" availability and basically said, "Okey dokey."  So now I'm talking to kids about apples and pollination and pheromone traps and accepting that they really just want me to hurry up and stop talking so they can go jump in the corn pool.

I've also learned I roll my eyes a lot (note to self:  apologize to Adelaide for giving her so much grief about this habit, as she is apparently just mimicking her mother); I had to quash this urge when a four-year-old daintily informed me that she doesn't go to a preschool, it's a learning center (I also had to resist the desire to ask her, "You still can't read, right?  Then you're in preschool."), also when another little girl squealed and cried every time a bug flew, crawled, or otherwise invaded a ten-foot bubble around her.  Patient reminders that we are on a working farm did nothing to penetrate her haze of panic.

For every whimpering princess and unimpressed boy who declares he likes the farm game on his mom's phone better than the actual farm (making me want to weep for the youth of America), there were ten others excited to learn how to properly pick an apple, and taste the difference between tart and sour varieties, and look at deer fences.

Arguably the best part of the whole deal?  Our little family gets in free to the place.  So now I leave the orchard, pick the kids up from the bus stop, and drive back so they can play at least once a week.
Caedmon's running form is around a million times better than mine.  Face included.

Atticus did hardly any jumping in the corn; he mostly seemed to enjoy lying around watching other kids getting told off by their moms for throwing corn.

There are two jumping pillows to satisfy all your bouncing needs- a small one for our smaller people, and a big one for our bigger people.  To jump on the big one, you need to be bigger, yea high according the sign in front of the pillows.  This makes sense to mothers who like for their children to be safe while jumping.  It feels woefully unfair to five-year-old boys who are not tall enough to jump on the big pillow with their big siblings.
He did eventually get past his finely tuned sense of justice (or injustice, as the case was here in his mind) and had a ball with the smaller pillow all to himself, as seen in the first photo above.

My biggest challenge now is to not spend the entirety of my wages on apple cider doughnuts.  I get them at a discount!  And they're made with real apple cider!  And isn't it somehow a sin to not enjoy the more pleasurable parts of our existence- or... something...?