Half-Marathon Number Five: An Experiment

At some point this summer, I said to Nate:

"Let's do a half marathon again this fall. Somewhere in town this time so that we don't have to drive for an hour or more. And maybe the kids and your parents could even watch us for once."

Enter the Brewers Half Marathon (I refuse to call it by it's real name of 'mini marathon' because it was 13.1 miles, nothing miniature about that!). Starts and stops at the baseball stadium, close to home, great time of year. SOLD.

So we trained for about 13 weeks again, which wasn't too bad coming off the half we did in the spring. Long weekend runs were fine, weekday runs were always a little hard to come by and usually achieved at 5 am. I admitted to Nate that I was getting kind of bored with running and ready for this race to be over, instead of being super excited for it like usual. After all, as our fifth half it's hardly a 'new' thing at this point and our last three halves have all been sub-two hours. I didn't really know if we could top that time and honestly, didn't care that much anymore. I had already proven to myself that I can still run as a 'mom of two' and it's just getting a bit monotonous.

Then the running gods heard me complaining about boredom and I was blessed with a sickness starting on Thursday night. During my last short run I started to feel kind of achey and sluggish. After we did our packet pick up that night, I felt honestly ill. Fever, aches, chills, a sore throat. I could not even eat custard with my family---the horror. And then some dizziness and general discontent that had me really worried about working on Friday AND doing the run on Saturday. Ibuprofen seemed to help a bit and so did a shower, so I tried to think positive.

(pics from packet pick up---kids loved the stadium!)







Friday morning I woke up and felt awful. I fought back a few tears (the first of many) as I carried CC downstairs (who has slept WONDERFULLY for the past two nights since I posted, hallelujah). I just couldn't believe I was still sick and achey and fatigued. I took a shower and popped some more Ibuprofen and prayed to God that I could get through part of my day. It's always such a hassle when I have to reschedule Friday patients---and once I got going and distracted, I was ok. I crashed on the couch at the end of the day instead of doing paperwork before I got the kids. And that night I still felt crummy although I pushed myself again and went to a friends' house for pizza that night. You know there is something really wrong with me when I can't eat a single bite of pizza and I turn down beer. SAD.

I went to bed at 8:30 on Friday night and was, again, near tears. I just KNEW I wouldn't be able to run the next day. There was just no way unless a small miracle happened. I couldn't even really stand up at this point and walking up our stairs had me winded. I had eaten next to nothing and had nowhere near the amount of water I need for a pre-race day.

When my alarm went off at 5 am on Saturday, I assessed the situation. My throat still hurt but I was not achey!!! I felt tired, of course, but the joint aches and dizziness seemed to be gone. So I scurried around and prepped my bib number, ate breakfast, and continued to pray. I told Nate that I didn't want to hold him back but I was going to run today---while still listening to my body. If I needed to jog slowly or even walk, I knew I had to do that. I still couldn't even believe I was going to attempt this given my state yesterday but I really did feel better. Not 100% but better. Nate said we would see how it went but we agreed we'd still like to run together.

My in-laws came to our house at 6am and both kids were still asleep (!!) so we gave them the run down on the double BOB and breakfast. They would plan to meet us at the finish line just to avoid the chaos of attempting a mid-race meet up spot. I was really giddy thinking about our spectators coming to cheer us on and hoped I wouldn't be barrel rolled by Nate at that point, just to get us to the finish line.



Before we arrived at the start line I had one 'episode' in a port-a-potty that was rather traumatizing. 'Oh man, I hope I'm not still sick...or getting the kids' stomach bug from last week.' Probably just nerves. And I began to pump myself up for 13.1 miles---since I hadn't really been focused on this race until right now, not knowing if I would even be capable of trying the night before.

They played some old-school techno music that reminded me of my Spain semester (Darude Sandstorm, anyone?) and I started to get really excited. I still didn't want to worry about time at all and was just hoping that I could keep up with Nate and not slow him down. After a few selfies, we were off!




By mile 2, I started to mentally freak out a bit. 'One mile at a time, just chill out, your body is fine and can do this.'

By mile 3, I told myself 'just another 10 mile run like last weekend.' And I decided that I wanted to black out zone out until about mile 11. Telling your brain to shut off and just coast is no small feat for an over-thinker who is sort of sick and on the verge of a disaster. But I truly didn't want to see any more mile markers until the very end somehow. Too much time to fill!

Hills. There were so many EFFING hills even though the course was supposed to be 'very flat.' HA. No. The hilliest I've run, I think. Nate was chatting to me most of the time and as fellow PTs, you know our favorite past time in a running race is to analyze the gait pattern of those in front of us. Right? (Nerd alert)

At mile 6, Nate took a gel and the thought totally disgusted me and made me feel nauseated. I ate the last few gummy energy snack things I had in my fanny pack instead and took a little longer at the water stop this time. I saw the 10k sign and marveled at the idea of being totally finished running right now. The thought sounded like heaven. This is also when I declared that I was taking a mega-nap today, no matter what.

At mile 7, I was struggling. Nate forced me to take his remaining Strawberry-Kiwi gel. Totally nasty but he promised it would help. I didn't feel 'sick' but was just so tired. No energy. No reserves. I was just pushing my body on an empty tank and it was not happy. I told Nate he could definitely go up ahead of me and he said, 'I'll stick with you.' Love that man. We chugged along.

Miles 8-10 are a blur. I know I saw an older runner sitting down at an aid station getting his blood pressure checked, looking really out of sorts. 'Oh, God. Don't let that be me next!' I wanted to see my babies for a little pick me up and told Nate as much. I started thinking about how if my body can birth those two beautiful beings (during labors when I also thought I was going to die) it could surely run just three more miles. Comparing labor to running will never get old for me.

Shortly after mile 10, Nate asked me, 'Do you think we could push it to make sub-two?' My first reaction was 'Hell no, just go without me, I'm about to croak,' but then he said, 'It's not that far off. Only a little faster.' And somehow I picked up the pace just a bit but still didn't believe in my heart we could come in that fast. I hadn't looked at our pace at all this race but it felt like running in quick sand, so I was a little baffled when Nate thought we could even attempt a sub-two again.

Hills. More hills. More mental anguish. 'As soon as we see the kids, I will let Nate go on without me. I want to see them together so they aren't confused. But then that's it. Mommy is done running and will walk a bit.' All of my thoughts centered around when I would allow myself to walk. But of course, we didn't see them until mile 12. After another big hill and as we were passing another runner being evaluated by the medical team (scary).

I first spotted Lois sitting on a curb, then Truman standing next to her. Tony was standing and holding CC and everyone was looking so freaking adorable. I yelled to them and waved, Truman saw us and jumped up moving to the BOB. Then he pulled out this sign---it looked like a giant white board or something. It turned out to be a white tupperware lid for a storage bin spray painted by some of my left over pink 'birthday' paint. Genius, Tony! It said 'Julia Nate' and on the back, as T flipped it over, 'C and T love you'. OMG. Seriously. Truman was so stinking proud of the sign---I couldn't get the image of him running to get it and show it to us out of my mind. All four of them looked happy to see us and proud---well, CC looked really confused but the others were excited.

Next we started doing a lap around the stadium parking lot. SO CLOSE now. As we finished that lap we saw our crew again---Truman with his beloved sign, and this time CC might have even seen us. Nate's parents were cheering and taking pictures. I nearly forgot about how horrible I felt and even got a little burst of energy for a second. We ran into the actual stadium now and did a lap around the field as tons of spectators sat in the stands. They were filming the runners coming in on the jumbo-tron and I just kept thinking about how running on this dirt was dangerous for wobbly legs like mine. Nate seemed to be sprinting at this point and I was right on his heels.

Then we saw mile marker 13. Thank. The. Lord. A tenth of a mile. This is when Nate sprinted even harder and kept looking at his watch so I knew we were close to the two hour mark. I did not care. I sprinted as much as I could because I wanted to be finished as badly as Nate. But I had no more energy and did the best I could, so I was totally fine when he got ahead of me by a few seconds at the very end. I would put money on the fact that the last 0.1 was actually more like 0.25. For real. It was forever.

But that finish line? Glorious. The timer on top said 2:01:45 and I knew our start was about 1:45 after the gun. Oh man, it would be close. But who cares? It was over. Nate and I hugged and grabbed a ton of amazing post-race food (most of mine went to our kids) like cookies, bananas, chips, granola bars, chocolate milk, and water. We saw the crew again after the finish line and came around to the outside of the gate so we could really chat. Oh, Truman was so proud of us. It's almost too much.

Our spectators were amazing. Having the kids there at mile 12 was a god send. As was my husband. Although I wanted him to go ahead of me many times (starting at about mile 3, actually) I'm certain that if he had left me behind I would have finished about 30 minutes slower. He was my pacer and my rock and kept giving me pep talks at the end. Half marathons are so much fun. Always worth the training.







We got our final times later in the day. Nate: 1:59:57 and Julia 2:00:06. HA! So glad Nate got his sub-two and am actually really freaking satisfied with my time, too. I have no idea how I did it. In the spring Dizzy and I got 1:59 and Nate got 2:01 or something, so this was a warranted trade-off.



As we were sitting in the parking lot outside of the finish line I realized that my stomach hurt. 'We need to go,' I said. We started walking and I knew something was not right. After stopping very shortly to chat with Andrea, Lois and I took the kids to my car while the guys took Nate's car home. As soon as we got to my car I knew it was going to happen. I have not thrown up in YEARS and my god, it's the worst. I found a relatively private 'hot coals only' barrel and squatted down next to it. Immediately I felt a little better but still pretty rough. Lois asked if I was ok to drive and I don't think the kids even noticed. I somehow made it home alive and was ever-so-grateful that Lois was with me once we got home.


Because thus began my frequent trips to the bathroom. Not for more puke, thank goodness, but for another 'problem'. I think I have successfully emptied my body of all nutrients at this point and have basically just laid on the couch all.day.long. Aside from one glorious shower, a 10 minute stint outside with CC, and an over-zealous attempt at vacuuming, it's been a lazy freaking day.

At first I assumed I pushed my body too hard and my GI system was making me pay for the race. But now I think this is the stomach bug my kids had last week---starting with a fever, progressing to the gut.  I'm telling myself that I'd still be laying on the couch if I chose not to run today so it's a good thing I did;) I'm really not that hard core or anything, or that much of a competitor that I ran while feeling pukey/stomach rumblings. Had that happened during the race, I think I would have waved the white towel. Somehow I was spared for those two hours....and am paying for it now. At least there was a gap in the sickness and I only felt like I was running with lead in my shoes. I can handle being tired a lot better than having an actual stomach bug, but having a fever is still the worst in my eyes. Those body aches make me want to cry every time!

So this was an experiment: can a body recover from a day of not eating much or drinking enough water to run a half the next day? Well, I finished the race in a surprisingly good time. But my body does hate me, possibly even without the 13.1 miles I put it through today.

I'd do it again in a heartbeat, though. As long as I only felt truly sick-sick before and after the run---not during. And I'd have to have my pacer with me, and those spectators. Yes, I'm sure we will do our sixth half someday. Today solidified my statement that I will NEVER do another full marathon as long as my children are small, though. No way. *That* seems insane to me right now;)

(typed from the couch, resting my weary legs and innards)

Snake charmer, Nate

For the past few weeks (or maybe months?) Cecelia has been waking up at 4 am on the dot, crying out for MAMA MAMA MAMA over and over again. For awhile it was 5 am, then somewhere in the 4:30 range, but now we are sitting directly on top of the 4 o'clock hour with a night time wake up.

Sure, it could be worse.  Sometimes 5 o'clock isn't so bad because that's when I usually get up and run on my days off anyway. I mean, 6:00 is usually our 'acceptable goal' in this house anyway, so 5:00 wasn't all that far off. But 4 o'clock? Nope. This is a really horrible time to be awake because it's close enough to the morning that it's hard to fall back to sleep and if I do, I feel SUPER tired when I'm up around 6 because I must have been in a deeper part of sleep. And for awhile it wasn't a big deal because I'd just nurse her back to sleep and we'd all get a few more hours of the good stuff. Then she started to protest when I'd put her back in her crib so I started bringing her to our bed and would nurse in sidelying for an hour or more. It worked. Again, SLEEP!

And now--neither nursing in the rocker, nor nursing in our bed is working. She is awake and angry and very obviously still tired. It's been a battle around here from the hours of 4-6 am and I am finally ready to do something about it.

Things I've already tried: I have a sippy of water in her crib now in case she is thirsty. We try to really tank her up right before bed with good food to keep her belly full for longer. I always make sure she has her pacifier when I go in, I check to make sure she hasn't crapped her pants (still a few lingering GI issues around here), and I will tuck her in with a blanket because it's sometimes pretty cold in her room.

Check list of 'WHY is my child waking at night?' complete.

I honestly think she is waking up because she is so used to that suck-to-sleep association with nursing. It used to be no big deal but now it is. I have no idea why it's like clockwork--right at 4:00 on the dot. Is there a train that goes by each morning at that time or something? Very odd.

This morning she starting crying/calling for me at 4. I stumbled in there, made sure she didn't stink, that she wasn't cold, and that she had access to her pacifiers. I rocked her and nursed her for a few minutes then pulled her off and put her back down. I wanted to try the old tried-and-true again in case that was all it took.

She was crying in five minutes. So I sent Nate in to try his Daddy Rocking technique. I have no idea how long they were in there together but it seemed like awhile. As soon as I heard him come back to bed I also heard our daughter screaming for me again. Sigh. Yawn.

The problem with letting Cecelia cry is that she is so freaking stubborn and SO loud, plus she is a second-born. Truman is a fairly deep sleeper but from our witching hours of 4-6 am he has definitely woken up because of CC and then he will stay awake and/or be a beast all morning because of broken sleep. Not cool and I never like to have Cecelia crying for more than a few minutes mostly for Truman's sake. And I hate to hear my baby cry, obviously.

But this morning I was awake and frustrated enough to decide that this was it. This was time to attempt a loose interpretation of 'sleep training' even if that meant Truman would wake and nobody would sleep after 4 am.

So I watched the clock and decided I would go back in every 5 minutes to check and reassure her. I know actual sleep training means no touching for comfort but we are taking baby steps here, people. I just don't feel comfortable not holding her for a bit, so this process will probably take 100 times longer but whatever. After five minutes of hysterics, I went in and scooped her up, standing next to her crib. She quieted down and laid her head on my shoulder. I told her over and over, 'It's okay, CC. I love you, it's time to sleep now.' Then after about a minute I'd lay her back down with blanket, pacifier, and froggy and walk out.

This went over as well as you would expect. Holy freak out. She was not messing around now. I repeated the same check-in every five minutes ---at this point it was about 5:45 I believe, because Nate's alarm was going off. She'd calm down in my arms but cry whenever I'd leave. Each time did seem to be getting a little better but she was most definitely not asleep yet.

Then Nate asked what my plan of attack was each time I entered the room. I told him about my special 'sleepy' phrase and holding her by the crib, not in the chair. I heard him get up and comfort Cecelia. He asked if she was cold, he told her he loved her and asked, 'Aren't you really sleepy, big girl?' And, 'Will you go to sleep for me?' The next thing I knew, Nate was coming back into bed and Cecelia was quiet. It might have been around 6:00, so we had been awake for two hours.

Nate got up to get ready a little after 6 (I think) and I fell back to sleep until 7:45...when Truman finally woke up, too. Woah. New record! Luckily Nate had a later start at work this day, too and left around 8 instead of 7. I could not believe that Cecelia was still asleep, that Truman remained asleep for so long, and that Nate somehow got convinced our girl to slumber until a more reasonable hour.

She eventually woke up a little after 8 and seemed a lot more sane than she did four hours prior. Thank God this was not a work day for me and we could all sleep in. Not sure how tomorrow will go but I know we have to be firm with CC going forward.

Before Nate left for work he said, 'Is this about the age when I could reason with Truman at night?' I kind of drew a blank for a second but then I remembered: we were still at the duplex and T was still in his crib, so it might have been around 18 months or so? But whenever T would wake up in the early hours of the morning Nate would go in and ask a series of questions. He'd say, 'Are you tired buddy?' and Truman would shake his head yes. Nate would ask, 'Will you go to sleep for me, so that you can feel nice and rested?' and Truman would nod yes. And then somehow the spell Nate cast on our son would take effect and Truman would magically sleep for a few more hours.

'That is kind of what I did this morning with Cecelia,' Nate said.

Apparently when he asked her, 'Are you tired, big girl?' she said uh-huh very emphatically. Well, duh, CC. Then he asked her, 'Will you go to sleep for me?' and she shook her head yes, and followed his mysterious lead and slept. She slept, after fighting it for hours.

Nate is basically a snake charmer at this point. Who knew that simply convincing our children that they really are tired would mean they 'obey' him and go to sleep? Genius. I really hope his magical reasoning technique continues to work on our second-born like it did for number one. I honestly don't even remember the details of Truman's snake charming days with his daddy but I suppose sleep deprivation will erase a few crazy nights from one's memory.

Sleep charmer Nate: keep up the good work with our impressionable daughter, my dear.


Fall Is Here

I just realized the other day that I have not taken a single picture with my nice camera in the entire month of September. This is unreal and kind of sad for me, since I'm usually busting out the big boy a few times a week.

So what did I do? Proceeded to take lots of pictures all weekend long.

Fall is here. My children are stinking adorable. I got some amazing deals at a big consignment sale and therefore the kids have fall/winter wardrobes all of a sudden. I also went through all of our baby clothes in the attic and re-organized them, so I could pull out some 18-24 month clothes of Truman's that could work for Cecelia right now, too. Oh, the walk down memory lane was almost too much to bear in those plastic bins of baby clothes. But I did succeed in finding a few boy items that work for my girl.

Like this perfect 'Autumn' orange vest. Truman wore this for two years, I think, and I still love it so much.

(Christmas card picture from 2011 when Cecelia was in my belly and Truman was our only child (!) )

And these green monster jammies that make Cecelia giggle because of the monsters covering her feet.



(first one is overexposed but still hilarious)


(love a good comparison shot or two)

(her scowl is just too much right now)

The many crocheted hair bows that GoGo made are being circulated through each day and we all love them. Also love these printed leggings. And that CC fell asleep on YaYa's lap when attempting to skip her morning nap at their house, during our 10 mile run on Saturday. Still having a hard time without the morning snooze a few times a week but most of the time she makes it just fine.





But back to that orange vest. I paired it with a newer floral dress from Crazy 8's, brown leggings, new (used) Oshkosh lace up boots, and then a crocheted hair bow. I die, you guys.

Then when you pair my sporty little girl with her big brother (who is also wearing all new clothes here)? I can't.

Fall is here and we are loving it.

Pigtails. Yes.


These two and their loveys.


And the way they look at each other with a knowing grin, not even saying a word but apparently communicating in some sibling way.

I love him so much.

And her, too.



We were all ready to go apple picking on Sunday. But when we put the kids in the car to go, both sort of freaked out and we realized it was a lot later than planned. So we ditched the idea and will postpone it to another weekend, but my only request was a few family pictures in the backyard instead. Oh, we got some winners.




I do actually like this one even with Cecelia's mega-scowl.

And then it was daddy's turn. CC was just plain old over it by now. Poor girl.



The decision was made to walk to a playground instead of the apple picking. The nice camera came along this time.














Yes,  it was a fantastic weekend. I discovered my nice camera again. We ran 10 miles. I shopped for the kids and we had a game night for adults only, with neighborhood friends. We did the playground and errands and I switched out our closets to officially change to fall.

And it was too fast, but it was awesome. Ah, weekends.

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