Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Half-Marathon I Almost Ran

Back in January my friend/neighbor, Angela, asked me if I wanted to start running with her a few times a week to exercise. I quickly let her know that I was not a runner, but I would do my best to keep up. She assured me that at the end of the program Couch to 10K she was going to use,  I would love running. I definitely doubted her, but just a few days after that put my running shoes on and exercised for the first time ever. You think I'm joking, but I'm not. I've always been small, but I've learned that small does not mean healthy! I was a small and very unhealthy person. We committed to running 3-4 times a week and followed the program outlined on the app. I started to look forward to my runs with Angela, probably more so for the company, but the benefits of exercising were not lost on me. Inches and pounds had already started to fall off me and I just felt better. I had always had a fast heart rate, but after just a few months of running, my heart rate dropped from about 85 bpm to about 65 bpm. I was amazed!

Around March/April, Josh mentioned that Angela and I should set a goal to run the St. Jude half-marathon in December. We both thought he was completely crazy, but we did exactly as he said and started training. By May, we had worked ourselves up to being able to run 3-4 miles comfortably without stopping. I was thrilled! I knew that summer was going to be ridiculously hot and we wouldn't want to do any long distance runs in the heat, so we decided to just keep up our 3-4 miles until fall arrived. In June, we made our goal official and registered for the St. Jude half-marathon in December. Now we were fully committed to our goal! 
When fall arrived, we knew it was time to step up our training. We found a half-marathon training schedule from running guru, Hal Higdon, and started training. Throughout the week, we'd run 3-4 miles about three times a week and then every weekend we did a long distance run. I went from not being able to run at all to being able to run 5, 6, 7, and 8 miles! I couldn't believe it (and neither could Josh!). He was equally surprised and proud of me. He knew better than anyone how I had never exercised so he couldn't believe the transformation that was taking place. Josh had also signed up for the half-marathon so he was training for the 13.1 mile run as well. One Sunday afternoon, Josh and I ran together on a road that is known for its hills. (The course we were going to run in Memphis was kind of hilly, so this was a good training route for us.) The goal for me was to run 9 miles, but I ended up running 10 miles that day. This was me at the end of my run. I couldn't believe that I was still alive and in one piece! 

After this 10 mile run, I felt great. I was still very nervous about having to run 3.1 more miles, but everyone assured me that if I could run 10, I could run 13.1. We were going to find out. Around this point, we still had 3 weeks before our run the first weekend in December. Angela, Josh, and I ran 10 miles 2 more times after this and then we all called it quits until race day. Poor Angela hurt her knee and foot pretty badly and was having to run through pain every single time. She wasn't giving up though and even bursitis, patella tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis weren't going to keep her from running her half-marathon. 

The Thursday before our race we heard on the news about a major ice storm making it way through Mississippi and Tennessee. We knew it was going to be EXTREMELY COLD but we had trained too long and too hard to let a little thing like being cold stop us. We packed up our gear and made sure we had extra clothes to keep us warm and headed to Memphis. When we got about 15 miles outside of Memphis we noticed that ALL of the trees were covered in ice. Not a good sign, but we were told that no decisions would be made until 5 AM race day. We kept our hopes up and headed to the race expo to get our race bibs, bags, and do our final registration. Everyone there was hopeful that the race was going to continue despite the ice and cold. I was a mix of emotions-excited about running, nervous about not doing well, worried about being too cold, and much more. We got our bibs and packets and headed back to the hotel. We had several friends from college running this same race, so we all made plans to carb load at a local pizzeria that night.

All the trees were covered in ice!

I bought my 13.1 sticker so I could put it on my car as soon as I finished my race :)

While I was getting ready for dinner with our friends, Angela called me and said that she and Doug, her husband, had just seen an announcement on the news saying that the St. Jude race had been canceled. I didn't believe it at first and kept telling her that it had to be false because the race officials had said that no decision would be made until 5:00 am the next morning. I really, really didn't want it to be canceled! Josh pulled up St. Jude's homepage on his phone and sure enough it really was canceled! You don't have any idea how bummed we were. To work towards this goal ALL YEAR long and to not be able to see it to fruition was so disappointing…and let's just be honest, I really was looking forward to taking a break from all my training. 

We didn't know what to do for a few minutes, but then decided to just go ahead and meet our friends anyway. Our weekend certainly didn't go like we planned, but we decided to make the best of it and have a fun weekend getaway. First up was eating pizza like we planned! Yummy! Later that night, we went down to Beale Street in Memphis and found a really cool street musician that was playing and listened to him for about an hour. We ended our night at B.B. Kings listening to more incredible music. Our unplanned Memphis mini-vacation was getting off to a great start! 

They say every cloud has a silver lining and here's ours…through this fundraiser campaign St. Jude was able to raise over 8 million dollars for cancer research! That makes me so happy and proud of all the people who worked hard to support St. Jude and their mission that no family should EVER have to pay for their child to receive treatment. I'm bummed that I didn't get to race, but I'm happy that the little bit of money that we raised and gave to St. Jude is going to help a family in need. Another plus, St. Jude race officials gave every single registrant the option to transfer their registration fee to another St. Jude race later this year. So, that means that my goal to run a half-marathon will be completed in February rather than December like I originally planned. Angela, Josh, and I have already signed up for the Rock-n-Roll marathon in New Orleans. I can't wait to finally be able to put my 13.1 sticker on my car! Fingers crossed that I get to run this one :)

Eli's Pre-K Christmas Program

This year at Eli's school they joined the Christmas program and Grandparent's Day into one HUGE day of fun for family and friends. They have the Christmas program in the morning, special gifts for the grandparents in the classrooms, and then they have the Scholastic book fair open as well. I love seeing all the grandparents and parents there to watch their kids perform and to spend the day with them. Eli's school isn't that big, but on this special day the campus is nearly overflowing with people! It's wonderful!  

A couple of weeks before the program, we got a letter telling us what part Eli was going to play in the program. The 3 and 4 year old classes were going to be doing short song and dance numbers to various styles of Christmas songs. Eli was going to be part of the song "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" so he was told to wear Christmas pajamas and to style his hair like he was from Whoville. He's not really a big fan of doing anything out of the ordinary with his hair, but once I told him his teacher wanted his hair like this, he was okay! 

Eli got a surprise from Elfis two days before his program when Elfis left these special Christmas jammies for him. Elfis must have known that I had been looking everywhere for cute Christmas jammies and hadn't found any. Eli was so excited to wear them to school Friday morning of the program!

The morning of the program we dropped Eli off at his classroom and then went to the gymnasium to get seats for his program. My parents and Josh's mom were all coming to watch Eli's performance and spend the day with him so we wanted to get seats for all of us. Josh's dad wasn't able to drive in for the performance this year, but hopefully next year he'll be able to! We missed having him with us!

Eli and his best friend, Logan

Eli and Hannah

After a short wait, the preschool kids started filling up the bleachers on stage. Eli was SO EXCITED when he saw us. Okay, actually, this was his face when he saw POP. The rest of us were just people with Pop. 

The program started and all the kids were precious! They didn't even have to do anything to look cute :)

"Santa Baby" group

"Run, Run Rudolph"

"Hula Hoop" song from Alvin and the Chipmunks

Simon and Theodore from the Chipmunks

Beach Boys group

"Jingle Bell Rock"

"You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch"

"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"

Nativity scene

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus

Joseph kept cracking me up. He kept patting Mary's head :) 

Towards the end of the program, Mary was D-O-N-E. 

The kids all did such a wonderful job! After the program was over, we all headed to Eli's classroom. He had treats for his grandparents and we also took some pictures before I went back to work (big surprise, huh?). 

It was such a fun morning and Eli's fun continued :) He got to skip school the rest of the day and leave with my parents to spend the weekend with them. As you can tell from the picture above, he was heartbroken that he had to leave his mommy and daddy :) Sometimes I think he'd live with my parents if I'd let him. Haha! 

A Look Back at 2013

I know I may not be through blogging for 2013, but I had to go ahead and include our look back at 2013 video. It was a great year! I had so much fun reliving all these memories as I placed the pictures in this slideshow. I'm so thankful for the family and friends that I was able to share 2013 with. God has been so good and I'm so thankful for the blessings in my life. I hope you enjoy our family's look back at 2013. I'm looking forward to making new memories in 2014. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Day Elfis Arrived-2013

The day after Thanksgiving a very special visitor arrived at our house straight from the North Pole. We had been telling Eli all week that Elfis would be arriving after Thanksgiving and he came! In honor of Elfis' arrival, we had our annual North Pole breakfast complete with yummy hot cocoa, marshmallows, and powdered donuts. Sugar is a main staple in an elf's diet so we made sure that we had plenty! 

Eli woke up that morning and this is what he found. 

Elfis left Eli a new Christmas book and a letter telling Eli how excited he was to be spending Christmas at his house again. It also appeared that Elfis found the candy drawer at our house and helped himself to a few candy cane kisses while he was laying out Eli's surprises. We couldn't find Elfis at first until we looked up...

Eli was so happy to see Elfis and he couldn't believe that Elfis had eaten so many candy cane kisses!

Eli immediately dug into the powdered donuts and thoroughly enjoyed every single bite. I did, too! Those things are so bad for you but I LOVE them…especially with coffee :) As a side note, aren't Eli's jammies so cute? My mom got Eli those and I thought they were fitting for our North Pole breakfast. Thanks, Mom! 

After eating some donuts, we sat down and looked through the new book of Christmas stories Elfis left for Eli. Elfis did a great job and picked out a book full of Christmas stories about all the Disney characters Eli loves. It was definitely a book we were going to be able to enjoy all throughout the Christmas season. We were so glad to have Elfis back! 

Thanksgiving 2013

This year we hosted Thanksgiving dinner at our house :) It was so much fun to have ALL the family together under one roof to celebrate this special day. We finally got to use our new dining room table that we bought last year and it was full to capacity! We ended up with about 20 people, I think, and it was a day full of great food, funny stories, and lots of love! 

Eli and Addi LOVED being able to play together. 

We got to meet sweet, Finley. She's Jeff's baby and is so sweet!

Jim, Jordan, Addi, and GraceAnn got to come in for Thanksgiving and it was so good to see them. Since they moved to Ohio we haven't seen them that often. It was great getting to catch up with them!

GraceAnn is the happiest baby ever.

My mom and dad also drove in for the day the spend Thanksgiving with us (just another plus to having them closer!). Josh, Andrea, and Tinsley went to Tennessee to spend Thanksgiving with Andrea's family, so I invited Mom and Dad to spend Thanksgiving at our house. Eli was thrilled to have Pop at his house again!

After our delicious lunch, we rolled ourselves outside where I convinced Josh to take just a few family pictures. He was a good sport about it :)

The mandatory silly picture :)

Sweet, precious boy!

After lunch and dessert, my parents had to leave to go back home. Eli did not want to say good-bye at all, but we knew we'd get to see Grammy and Pop again really soon. One of my most favorite things is how my Dad always prays for Eli before we part ways. It's one of those things that just makes my heart smile :)

We came back inside and I FINALLY got the chance to sit down. I was able to get some time with sweet Finley and she was the sweetest little cuddle bug ever. 

Josh's Aunt Lisa and Uncle David also came in to spend Thanksgiving with our family and Eli LOVED having them at our house. They read books, looked at photos, and had lots of fun just being together. We only get to see them about 2-3 times a year, so we try to make the most of our time. Eli loves them both so much. Hopefully, we'll get to visit them at their new house in Georgia very soon! 

Dave was a little tired from the day's festivities.

It was the perfect Thanksgiving. I'm so glad that I was able to spend it with so many people I love and cherish. I'm also thankful to know that for me Thanksgiving doesn't just come around one time every year. Every day can and should be Thanksgiving for us. My life is so richly blessed and I have only God to thank for all of it. It's my prayer that I always have a thankful heart when I look at my life and I also pray for many opportunities for me to be a blessing to others. Happy Thanksgiving!

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