Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The action returns!

This blog is starting to look a lot like diaries that I committed to write in...and failed. Starts off strong, and then fizzles when life gets too crazy to write about life anymore.

Well, life certainly has been crazy over the past...umm, month since I last blogged. Highlights include Ben and I moving into, and settling in to our new home, Ben turned 25, so I planned him a surprise birthday party/housewarming party, my sister Kara got married to a wonderful man Alex, I started coaching Apple Valley HS Girls' Cross Country again, I had a cool opportunity to be a motovational speaker at Northfield HS for parents, coaches, and athletes, and I got to compete at a couple "low-key" over distance races such as the Rosemount High School Alumni 2-mile race, and an Owatonna 4-mile race the next day!

Long story short on all these topics:
The house is amazing, Ben and I are loving it, though we can't help but feel like real life has finally hit when we got our first mortgage statement in the mail. Yard work is keeping us busy, we've already got new insulation put in the attic, and re-doing our gutters soon too...the projects will always be there in a 100-year old home, but all hinge considering it is is great shape, has awesome character, and is more than enough room for us to stay awhile!

Ben had a nice low-key birthday, he actually worked most of the day, and then I took him out to dinner and gave him his traditional gift of love mix (I am pretty sure I have already blogged about this excellent trail mix concoction!), some beer, and the usual 3-page, typed, single-spaced birthday letter....I wrote one for him the first year we we're dating, and somehow turned it into a tradition that I don't regret until it is time to write another one! What Ben wasn't aware of, was two days later, he went on a short afternoon run with his buddy Dan Greeno, to come home to a house full of friends, good food, and birthday candles stuck into peanut butter skotchie bars (he doesn't really like birthday cake). The surprise was a success, but not without a few necessary changes in the plan!

Next up: Kara's wedding! It was a great day, starting early with a trip to get our hair done in sweet updoes with so much hairspray you'd need a small army (or a shower the next day) to make your hair fall out of place. Next up was getting dressed in our dresses and taking some pictures out in Edina at Centennial Lakes Park. A beautiful backdrop to take pictures for a wedding! My sister looked amazing. I couldn't stoo staring at how gorgeous she looked even while I was driving us out to take the pictures! We stopped for some quick lunch and then made our way to Maple Grove. Both the ceremony and reception took place at Elm Creek Reserve's Ski Chalet (the ceremony outdoors, in perfect weather), and the reception indoors. Kara got in touch with one of our favorite pastors from our home church, who came down from her new congregation in Duluth to officiate the wedding. The food was great at dinner (and for the entirety of the week to follow, as we had lots of leftovers!), we got down on the dance floor a bit, and all in all had a grand 'ol time welcoming my new brother, Alex into the family.

Coaching Apple Valley started a couple weeks ago for summer practices. The girls came off the summer looking strong and ready to run. They have been so impressive in their attitude towards workouts, attacking everything with intensity, it is fun and inspiring for me as I am coming to almost a full year since I have taken any significant break in training. They have competed twice now, once at intranetsquad against each other, and then last Friday at the Dakota County Invite. Pretty much ALL of the girls have improved their times from last year, many by over a minute, so I am very excited for where this season is heading. Beyond that, this is such a fun-loving, respectful, and classy group of young women that I love working with!

I wasn't really sure where to begin when I was invited to come down to Northfield High School at their annual pre-season student-athlete/parent meeting as a motivational speaker. I thought long and hard and was avington trouble condensing my ideas into one solid testimony or story, so instead I made a list. The Top Ten Things I Learned While Running In Circles. I was a little nervous getting up there, but quickly felt really comfortable, and had a blast up there. Afterwards I was met with such a positive response it made me think I'd like to speak for people much more often!

Next and last on my list of highlights was my back-to-back races in Rosemount and Owatonna. Both were so much fun, and really encouraging indicators of my fitness. I guess I broke my own record for the 2-mile by 27 seconds (running like 11:23) at the Rosemount Alumni Race, which was very surprising because I had a mentality of taking it easy and just putting in a good effort. I had done a hill workout the day before, and had the 4-miler the next day, so I kind of "coasted" through the race. I was certain it'd be a slower time than what I'd run in years past, but I guess that must mean I am in much better endurance shape than i usually am at this time of year! It was great to see some other alums, former coaches, and the new team looking so strong this year as well. As mentioned, the following day, I took a trip down to Owatonna with my current teammate, Emily Brown. We were jokingly calling ourselves "the ringers" because we were called to make appearances at this big community event. Again, we were met with such positive enthusiasm, they made us feel so special just for being there. We started the 4-mile race on Owatonna's high school track, and then took to the roads, where I did most of my work with the high school boys' cross country team athletes. Again, I was encouraged to hit the 2-mile mark in about the same time that I ran the Rosemount race in the day before, and then continued to feel good and move up in the race for the next two miles. Ironically, 4 miles is the longest race I have ever competed in, so to actually enjoy it was sort of surprising, haha. Brownie, who is a longer distance specialist left me in the dust of course, but the ringers did end up going 1 and 2 for the ladies at least;)

I had a fantastic Labor Day weekend, several out of town friends came to visit, and then yesterday my whole family: Ben and I, my mom and dad, and Kara, her new husband Alex, and their two dogs Chucho and Lola took to the river on my dad's boat and had a blast all day long. Cooking hot dogs and eating junk food, i got buried in the sand, went waterskiing, played fetch with the pups, and my personal favorite, cruising around looking for big waves to catch air on the boat. Ahh, boating is like the one thing that totally reminds me of summers growing up, so going out there was fun on all sorts of levels.

Up next in my adventures, I'm going out to my dear friend Megan Duwell's wedding on Saturday in West Bend WI, then to a road mile race in Duluth, the Minnesota Mile, the following morning. Then Ben and I will be flying out to Hawaii by Thursday next week for dual purposes. I got into another road mile, The Front Street Mile on the 17th, which just so happens to be our first year wedding anniversary date, so of course I sprung for a ticket for Ben with my sky-miles to come out with me. We'll stay Thursday to Sunday, a long weekend in paradise to celebrate our first year together! Finally, the following Saturday, the 24th is the 5th Avenue Mile in NY, NY! This was where I ran my fastest road mile ever last year, so I am looking forward to going out there again, and trying to break 4:30 if it hasn't happened already in Duluth or Hawaii! Road miles are one if my favorite events to do, so it shall be a fun September! I will try to keep you better informed of how those competitions go. Like I said, i haven't taken a consistent break from training since after the 5th Ave Mile last year, so I am pretty amazed and happy to feeling in pretty darn good shape at this point and uninjured. As always I feel so blessed to say that.

Speaking of injuries...a short extra note:
Say a prayer for my Ben, if you think of it, as he goes through some heel pain/plantar fascia issues just a month out from the marathon. I know he's got some people praying for his heel, but I think most important is to pray for the man attached to the heel. Injuries are tough, especially when you've got something you've been working so hard to prepare for, for an entire year basically. It's more than just a physical battle when you have to decide whether you should continue training and race on a bum foot, or say goodbye to the opportunity, heal up the heel, and move forward.