Birthday Bash!

 April is birthday month for this family. We hosted the  second annual birthday bash. Amending the name of the shin dig from Boy Bash to Birthday Bash.

The party was complete with backyard tomahawks. Lawn darts and horseshoes just don't compare! Compliments to my father-in law Bruce, who although was not in attendance, sent the tomahawks in his honor. He can not only pick the best back yard entertainment but can pair award winning wine to compliment it.


My niece Maddy turned 15 at the beginning of April .

Tim celebrated his 39 th birthday April 20.

Grandpa Dan turned 70 April 25th.
 And Isaac stole the show by turning the big 0-2 April 28th.
 Or rather stole the cake...

Eat some. Wear some. Share some...
 You know what sharing means right? If it is mine, it's mine and if it is yours it's mine too.
 I put my foot down to a recent trend of purchasing cupcakes or a bakery cake from the Huron Bakery and resurrected the tradition of baking the cake from scratch. I understand  the bakery is a town favorite. The cupcakes and cakes look beautiful. Beautiful in a way I can't compete with. I just have a hard time believing that a commercial process utilizing bulk ingredients can compete with hand measured hand sifted high quality ones. Gee .... Did I just say that?....It  is not just about what somebody or something looks like that is most important. What is important is the process in which something or somebody is crafted and the ingredients put in it. So anyhow...I guess you won't see me in the plastic surgeons office anytime soon. The crows feet around my eyes are looking pretty good now aren't they?
A Tonka truck for a two year old boy you can't go wrong!
 
 Happy Birthday Isaac! You are king of the mountain and king of our hearts.

You have been bringing  the world laughter and smiles since before you were born.
We love you!

Boston Is Big

If I had one sentence to describe the Boston marathon it would be ... Boston is Big.  Every detail of this race is magnified. 
 I am beyond grateful to have had the experience of running the Boston Marathon. I am beyond grateful to have friends and family to support and celebrate the experience with. Bringing young children to big cities and crowded venues and not loosing them or anything else is no small feat. I'm sure Isaac won't remember the time he spent strapped into an umbrella stroller staring at knee caps and skipping naps but Annika will. I don't mean she will remember being strapped into an umbrella stroller and skipping naps. I believe Annika's understanding of this experience will blossom over time. I hope as she grows up it will affect her view of who I was as a person and as her mother.  She will recognize I balanced prioritizing long runs and dinner, speed work and snacks. She may one day understand that I set goals that meant nothing to anybody other than myself. I prioritized training time for these goals with no guarantee that I would achieve them and no reward other than personal satisfaction. Speaking of rewards there may have been some negotiations regarding the laundry and who would do it if certain times were met. I am so thankful to Tim and my mother in law Cindy. She flew cross country to support me and help manage Annika and Isaac. They could not have had this experience without both of them.
This was the 50th anniversary of Kathryn Switzer running the marathon and getting pushed off the course for being female Kathryn Switzer said her end goal was "that women would one day be able to take for granted participating in sports". Based on Annika's perception I'd say she accomplished her goal. When Annika heard Kathryn's story she was completely confused as to why women wouldn't be allowed to running a marathon. She commented that it made no sense "woman can run long distances better than men". Children are products of their environments and do repeat the things they hear at home but still I think Kathryn accomplished what she set out to do. 


As far as the actual race went ...It was amazing experience to embrace the crowd, the city, the history, my family, but it was an incredibly hard day for me athletically. Everything about Boston is a little different then other races. I read about those differences and tried to be mentally prepared for them. I tried to accommodate. I think they all sort of add up. Top it off with a 75 degree day and Boston's topography and it was a lot to contend with. I was honest in my last blog. I wanted to PR. I thought I had a little more to give than in Green Bay, but I knew the course would ask for more. I didn't think it was highly probable but hell who goes to a race and says gee "I want to run the Boston marathon and not do my best?" I also think most contenders at Boston are pretty mature about racing and know that it might take unicorns and rainbows to actually PR on that course.
Truth be told I did see a unicorn and I do know somebody who PR'd . It just wasn't me. I hung in and gave it everything I had to finish the best I could. In the end I'm ok with my finish. In fact there are many parts I'm proud of. On paper it looks like a repeat of my execution in LA of 2013 which I was incredibly disappointed with. I ran the second half of the race 18 minutes slower than the first half at Boston, but this time it wasn't ego or impatience. I tried to take it easy and hold back in the beginning but it is down hill for a long time and my quads just cramped after a while. Eccentric contraction!!!! I think going out slower would have helped for sure. It's easier said than done. Especially when the 5,000 other people in your wave are running downhill too fast too. It was 75 degrees when we started.  We had been sitting/standing at the start for a few hours in the sun before our 10:50 start time. Everybody around me seemed pretty friendly and chill on the bus ride, but in the corral I think we all felt a little stressed by the heat. I wanted to get moving before it got any hotter. I let a lot of people go and tried to really harness my energy but also kept fighting the urge to keep moving forward to find open space for my feet and more air movement. 
My quads started to cramp pretty early. I did a really good job taking measures to stay hydrated and cool boy drinking at all the aid stations and dousing myself . I knew my quads were going to be trouble but I tried focusing on the possibility that maybe I could squeak out a finish before they really locked up.  I saw my family around mile 17 on a hill climb. Tim lifted Annika over the barrier and let her run to me as I as was coming up the hill. I hugged her and carried her back to him. It was the highlight of my day. 
My family says I looked great there. Truth be told it was around mile 16-17 when running downhill started feeling really discombobulated. Descending felt like pedaling a bike downhill with the wrong gearing. It just wasn't right. I actually preferred running up the hills at that point. I almost told them to expect that my pace would be slowing. Catastrophic failure was the wording I was thinking but didn't want to say out loud.  There were enough people walking I figured they knew it was a possibility.  My quad cramping continued and felt like I had the stride of Frankenstein instead of my usual gait. I would have preferred to feel like I was floating on air and running 8 minute miles but that would have been the unicorn, rainbows, and 50 degrees scenario. In real life I was actually so thankful to still be running a 9:44 pace. I takes me 20 minutes to walk a mile and that is on legs that aren't cramping. I did a lot of praying and a lot of digging really deep and kept slugging forward. The crowds were fantastic. As we rounded the corner to Boylston street I tried to spot my family.  I tried to take it all in. To be honest I took in as much as somebody working extremely hard can take. Some runners went zipping by me towards the finish. I continued to give everything I had with no increase in speed until I crossed the line. Nothing was a give me until I was over that line. I crossed the line 3hr 38 minutes. It's not too shabby considering how long I felt like I was struggling not to walk. It felt so much longer. I was just so happy to be finished and to find my family. 

I couldn't really be disappointed because I was too exhausted it's Boston. Boston is so much bigger than my own personal goals. It's about history and how the people of the race support it. It's awesome. In regards to a PR ...the Rolling Stones sing it best. You can't always get what you want, but you've got what you need"

I think to do really well at Boston it would take somebody like me a few attempts. I did requalify for next year but I think I will pass. It's a pretty big journey for my family and we have many places to travel  and sports to play and different venues to enjoy.

Thanks Tim for supporting me and rolling with everything!



Easter

Boston is a really great city to spend some time in. I've never spent any time in Boston before minus landing about 15 minutes at Logan airport. Most of what I knew about Boston came from 5th grade social studies and a current family favorite book "Make Way For Ducklings" by Robert McCloskey.

 I'm can't read that book without thinking of the duckling Tim rescued on July 4, 2011. We named her Petunia. She lived a happy and spoiled life with many near death experiences until she reached adolescence and refused to come into her cage one night shortly after Annika was born and must have flown away to Mission Bay Park eaten by a ravaging raccoon. "Make Way For Ducklings" has a special place in my heart. Touring the Boston Public Gardens and seeing the ducklings did not disappoint. 



The ducklings were dressed in their best Easter bonnets.


Certainly it didn't disappoint this crowd.

Sunday Easter service in Boston at St. Cecelia's the day before the Boston marathon must have served at least 1,000 people. I wouldn't call my kids country bumpkins. I would call them free rangers of the forest and they were a little shell shocked by the crowds of people. 
It was time for some open space and fresh air.
And a swan boat ride
 A memorable Easter Sunday indeed.






Boston


It's that time. I'm looking forward to running Boston.
The number one question a racer is asked is do you feel ready? It's a tough question to answer. I did plenty and there is plenty I did not do. Mostly I feel like my training was just how I live my life with a few tweaks. I feel like the honest answer to the question "Are you ready?" is I am me.  I am just me. I have a certain amount of talent and a certain amount of time to train and within those parameters I will give all I have. I'm told Boston is not a course for personal bests so I won't leave the start at 5K pace chasing one....but  I will let one come to me if it is meant to be. I have hope in my heart  that  the >4% faster I was during long runs this year was not a fluke and that the temperature conversion charts that show how much increased temps slow down race times are correct. Most of all I hope I find "flow". If you don't know what flow is....I suggest you google it. Flow gives you a total sense of peace in your heart, mind, and stride. 
Speaking of peace...As I was packing this card  fell out of nowhere and landed on my race kit. I turned it over to read this quote written in my Mother's hand writing. So true for all and definitely marathon runners.  It's good to remember that you are strong and when you experience something difficult it is an opportunity to become stronger.
I'm not sure what will be left of this card by Monday afternoon because I think it's going in a pocket of my race kit.

Forts, Bikes, and Snowball Fights!


An erratic winter and early spring has allowed from some unique surrounding. For a change the ground in the woods has dried up before  the leaves have blossomed on the tree. Three years of living here and I'm still discovering new things. For example, I never knew our property had a waterfront view. In fact, it does. You just have to hike up high on our hillside and with the leaves off the trees you can see all the way to Lake Superior. I repeat you just have to hike up high on our hillside to see the lake.

 Oh the things you you can think up if only you try.... Fallen trees up high on a hillside make for the best forts.
Leave on your helmet but ditch your bike. It's a hike a bike to this fort. I mentioned we'll be climbing high.
I mentioned we'll be climbing high.
Backyard switchbacks will get you part way there. 
Too bad the videos won't upload properly. Not because I would like to share Isaac's super advanced handling skills...but because the sound effects he makes while riding are top notch!
 
Every so often we have to be a little more civilized a practice with pedals on pavement. There are a lot of sound effects here as well...sounding like "Mom you are making my bike go all wrong and slow and you just don't let me do it right!"

Her heart is on the scoot bike. The adventure. The freedom. The using your feet as brakes. The going over stumps and jumps. It's pretty hard to beat.
Side walk chalk paint....because the parental ease of sidewalk chalk just isn't enough. Next time I am not bothering top make the sidewalk chalk paint. I am just going to give the kids corn starch, food coloring, water , rubber gloves and let them make there own mess. It's all they really want.
 

 1 of 3 bee hives survived the winter....which means we have 2 hives of honey to be harvested. Annika is the official honey taste tester and doesn't mind getting sticky. Second Sunday in April and wearing shorts....what bliss!

But don't be fooled. Soon we had thunderstorms, manic winds, hail, and a melancholy cold Monday...but that did not stop Isaac from riding his bike.

 Tuesday was a foot of fresh snow and a day off school for Annika.
 Isaac was told he didn't have a snow bike and couldn't ride.

 He settled for the treadmill because pink was not his color.
 Good thing I re-stained the playhouse Saturday.  Waiting a few days would not have worked well.
 Annika showed Isaac how to how to party it up in the snow.
 He warmed up to the idea of a snowball fight. ...because throwing a ball is his second favorite thing next to riding a bike..
Well that was before his snowmobile ride...I thought maybe after riding a snowmobile he'd loose interest in the bike....
Nope....he just found a way to make it happen.