Tuesday, February 3, 2015

St. Jude Half-Marathon Weekend 2014

When we got back from Josh's dad's house from Thanksgiving, it was time to focus on our upcoming St. Jude Half-Marthon in Memphis, TN. The tens of you that read this blog may remember that last year all the races were cancelled due to bad weather after we arrived in Memphis. I blogged about that here. Last year would have been my first half-marthon to ever run so I was very upset I didn't get to race. St. Jude was gracious enough to let us transfer our registration fee to another race, so Josh and I ended up running the Rock-n-Roll Half-Marathon in New Orleans in February of 2014. Here's the link to that post. Once that race was over, I felt happy to have a half-marathon under my belt, but it really wasn't the half-marathon I wanted. Running St. Jude was still a goal for me so when they opened up registration for the half-marathon Josh and I signed up within minutes of it going live. We were excited about getting another chance to run and raise money for this wonderful organization. We trained all during the summer and during the fall to prepare. Josh and I also chose to do the Heroes program which meant we each pledged to raise $500 for St. Jude. With the support or family, friends, and my kiddos at school we each reached our goal and raised over $1000 for St. Jude. It was so rewarding to know that we had helped even if it was just a small amount of money. Every little bit counts! 

We left for Memphis Friday morning and made it there without any problem. The weather was great and there was not a chance of it getting cancelled this time. Yay! We met Beth and Shane, friends of ours from college, at Olive Garden to carb load the night before the race and had a great time visiting with them. Then it was back to the hotel for us to get our stuff ready for the race the next day. I snapped this picture and posted it on Instagram before going to bed Friday night. I was really looking forward to the race the next day. 

We woke up early the next morning, dressed, grabbed a light breakfast on our way out of the hotel and headed to the starting line. It was overcast and kind of dreary, but otherwise a great day for running. Josh and I waited in the car as long as we could to avoid standing in the cold for so long before the race began and that worked out great. We walked right up to our corral and only had to stand around for about 30 minutes before each group started moving. 

Keeping our buns toasty in the truck before the race.

Out of the truck and in our corral just waiting for the race to begin.

We told Beth and Shane which corral we were in, but we never imagined that we'd actually find them on race day because of how many people were there to run. We were walking up to the starting line and looked to our left and there they were. It was so funny that we ended up right next to each other :)  We also saw our friends Beth and Beaux and wished them good luck since they were going to run the marathon together. I always joke that I run the half-marathon because I'm only half crazy. Running a marathon is just full blown crazy ;)

The race went really well. Memphis has A LOT more hills than Louisiana so the hills slowed me down some, but overall I think I handled the terrain really well. I got emotional several times at the amount of people who were there to cheer for all of us running the race each and every mile. When I ran the half-marathon in New Orleans the fans died out around mile 5, but all the St. Jude fans were there from the start until the very end. It was so amazing, especially at the end. There were people lined up and down the sides of the road cheering and yelling for you. They'd see your name on your bib and call out, "Let's go, Amanda! You got this!" I teared up big time right at the end because crossing that finish line was such a huge accomplishment for me. I had wanted to run the half-marathon for St. Jude for two years and I finally got the chance to do it. It's a race I will run every single year that I'm physically able to do so. I LOVED it from start to finish and I'm so proud that I got to be a small part of this amazing foundation. 

Half-marathon #2 complete!

Our friend Shane finished ahead of me and Josh so we met up with him at the finish line. He was waiting for his wife Beth and another pal of his to cross the finish line. We talked to him for a little bit about how his race had gone and then we took some pictures. I passed my phone to him for him to take a picture of me and Josh and saw him making this weird face. I realized he was taking a post race selfie. He's a nut. 

Shane and Josh

Another half-marathon that we completed together. Looking forward to more!

After we talked to Shane for a little bit longer we made our way through the food and beverage area (my favorite part of the entire day). We loaded up on post race food-pizza, Gatorade, chocolate milk, coffee, soup, fruit, power bars, doughnuts, and much more. This girl was in food heaven! My favorite was definitely the potato soup from McAllister's Deli. It was exactly what I needed after a rainy race. We grabbed our food, solar blankets, and coffee and walked back to the truck to thaw out our bones. We ended up watching the marathoners finish up their race and even saw our friends Beth and Beaux kicking tail :) Maybe one day Josh and I will join them...for now though I'll just enjoy the half-marathon. It was a great weekend and I'm already looking forward to next year's race! If you are interested in donating to St. Jude click here and it'll take you to their donation page. You can help make a difference in the lives of so many children :)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Thanksgiving at Grandpa E's

Thanksgiving day was lots of fun for our family. It was the first time we had ever spent a holiday with Josh's dad at his house. Plus, we got to spend a lot of time with Josh's brother, Ian and his family. It was a day full of great food, laughs, and fun.

Eli's day was made when Grandpa E gave him his belated birthday present-a new bike. He was so excited to have a bigger bike in his favorite color. He spent the majority of his day riding around Grandpa E's neighborhood testing out his new ride.

Josh's dad ordered a turkey and ham from the Honey-Baked Ham store just down the street from him for Thanksgiving, so all Tasha (Ian's wife) and I had to do was make the side dishes. I made the Pioneer Woman's basic cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce, pecan pie and sweet potato pie. I also had my dad send me his recipe for his famous sweet potato soufflĂ©. Tasha made some appetizers, macaroni and cheese, and potatoes. We rounded out our meal with some lima beans, creamed corn, and purple hull peas from our garden this summer that I had frozen. It was such a wonderful meal and we all ate until we were stuffed. Ian, Tasha, and Ed (Josh's dad) all said how much they really enjoyed having fresh vegetables from our garden to eat. Since they live in the city, they don't get to garden like we do. Ian's already asked Josh if we can set him and Tasha up on a monthly delivery system of fresh veggies from our garden :) 

After our meal, we all went outside for the obligatory Thanksgiving Day pictures and then the kids played some more. Ian and Tasha's little girl, Sophie loved playing with Eli. It was such a fun Thanksgiving and I'm so glad we made the trip to spend it with Josh's family. Hopefully, we'll do this again soon!

Friday, January 2, 2015

ICE at the Gaylord Texan-2014

This year (and of course by "year" I mean 2014 because I'm as slow as a turtle stampeding though peanut butter when it comes to blogging) for Thanksgiving we all traveled to Texas to have Thanksgiving with Grandpa E and Josh's brother Ian and his family. Josh had to work Monday and part of Tuesday so we left late Tuesday afternoon. We were about an hour into our trip when we ran into a huge line of traffic that was backed up for about a mile because of a really bad wreck. We ended up waiting in the traffic for about an hour before deciding to take a detour (about an hour out of the way) to go around it. Needless to say, we got to Grandpa E's house VERY late Tuesday night, but I was thankful we were there and all in one piece. We slept in late the next morning and then made plans with Ian to meet them at the Gaylord Texan to go do the ICE exhibit. If you're ever in Grapevine, Texas around Thanksgiving-New Years, you need to go do ICE. It's such a fun experience for everyone! If you don't know what ICE is, here is a brief synopsis: Artisans from China come to the Gaylord Texan every year and spend hours upon hours carving 2 million pounds of ice into beautiful and amazing ice sculptures! They've done it now for about 7 years and this was our third year to attend. While the crowds were much worse during Thanksgiving than they are at New Years, it was still lots of fun. I hope we can go every year they offer it. 

Us with Grandpa E

Eli and Sophie

This year's theme was Frosty the Snowman.

Wearing the required parkas they give you because they keep the ICE exhibit at a chilly 7 degrees :)

Having so much fun!

The most crowded area inside the exhibit is always where the ice slides are. 
Kids, parents, grandparents, aunt, uncles, cousins, and random strangers are all gathered around watching the kids and adults sliding down the ice slides.

Grandpa E and Ian

Eli sliding down the ice slide.

Last year when Sarah and I took the kids to ICE during New Years we basically had the place to ourselves. This year we went during opening weekend. CRAZY, CRAZY, CRAZY! You can see in the picture below the line of people on the right waiting to slide. It's worth the wait, but because we started getting really cold Eli was only able to slide 3 times instead of as many as he wanted to like last year. 

The last exhibit is always the nativity where the gospel is proclaimed every single minute to thousands of believers and non-believers alike. They have a recording that reads the account of Christ's birth from the Bible and they use spotlights to show each sculpture during the reading of the story. I love how the people at the Gaylord Texans are committed to sharing the true meaning of Christmas with everyone. 

Another year of ICE is complete. I can't wait to see what next year's (or actually this year's) theme is going to be! I hope we'll be able to attend :) 


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