Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cotton Row 2011 Race Recaps

Sunday was a busy day getting everyone ready for Cotton Row the next day.  I worked at the packet pickup on Sunday, May 29th from 3-6 p.m., celebrating my love of this race by wearing a vintage 1990 shirt there.  I saw others with shirts even older than mine and met some of my favorite group of CRR people--the "streakers" who have run it every year!  A dinner for the elite runners was held on Sunday night, and Fleet Feet Racing Team serves as ambassadors for the event.  I was able to sit and chat with Candace Jacobs (who finished second female at the 10K this year and won our Rocket City Marathon last year) and her sweet family during the dinner. 

The Cotton Row 10K, 5K, and 1 Mile Runs were held on Monday, May 30th.
Here is the start line banner:
I made it easily to the 6:10 a.m. Fleet Feet Racing Team group picture.  You are incorrect if you think that we "elite" runners don't ever feel self-conscious.  I tugged and adjusted my new singlet top since it was too big and showed a bunch of my pudge coming out from my sports bra.  Yes, it is possible to like your running times but not like the body that runs them (see my posts here and here on my evolving body image). 

The 10K race was first at 7:00 a.m.  Rick positioned himself in a good spot and took pictures of the runners.  He also cheered for me of course!  Scroll to the end to read more about my race and the times.  

The 10K begins
Last year, the tradition began to wear red, white, and blue to the races. You will see our whole family got into the spirit!

My daughter with fellow FF team member, Linda.
Our family CRR 2011
Rick got 12th overall in the 5K with a time of 19:18.

The children both ran the majority of their 1 mile race this year even though it was miserably hot by this time (10:00 a.m.).  I was so proud of their times--11:30 (my son) and 12:30 (my daughter)!  My daughter was able to sprint when she heard her "fans" cheering for her and also when she saw the finish line.  It was a good reminder to me that even the littlest runners like encouragement along the course and can benefit from picturing their finish!  They hugged, got some water from the awesome Boy Scout-manned table, and cooled off in this amazing sprinkler (see below).

Sharing a hug after the 1-miler
The Boy Scouts did a great job keeping this table fully stocked!

Great idea--sprinklers!
My race went well, and I finished with a 43:16--12th overall female (neat coincidence that Rick and I both were the 12th OA in our races) and 2nd in my age group (Updated: I actually appear 5th in my age group.  The top three girls in my age group were part of the top 7.  They are pulled out of the age group for overall awards.).  I felt good throughout the race--no pain--and almost like I had a little more in me at the end.  I am going to aim for a lower time in my next 10K based on this.  I was hoping to get a 7:00 pace, and I was right ahead of this at 6:58.

Here are the splits:
Mile 1 6:27
Mile 2 6:52
Mile 3 7:29
 Mile 4 7:22
Mile 5 6:46
Mile 6 6:55
.2 1:24
pace 6:58

The best part of Cotton Row for me always comes after the race, when you can swap stories and catch up with new and old friends.  I saw several friends out there yesterday running their first 10K ever.  My respect goes out to them for finishing such a tough race in such warm conditions.  I hope you all had a great race too!
Katie finishes the Cotton Row 10K

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Details for Cotton Row Morning

Cotton Row is Monday morning.  For me, it is always a little tricky planning the whole morning out, with all three races and (now) four of us running in our family.  Fleet Feet Racing Team is doing a group picture at 6:10 a.m. that morning.  Rick works earlier than that at the start line, so he will already be there.  I will have both children at home.  That means getting them up at 5:15 a.m. or so, getting them dressed in their running clothes, giving them some breakfast food for the car, and having them at the photo location at 6 a.m. (I'll give myself a five minute cushion that way).  Anyway, I think this part of the day is going to be even more stressful than running the 10K!  I know I can do it, but I hope they won't be too grouchy about the early morning!

On a related note, my last few training runs haven't exactly gone as planned.  Wednesday, my group set out to do a last-ditch speedwork attempt (last-ditch for me, anyway).  It was going to be a one mile warm-up, four miles at race pace, and five more miles of slower cool down.  I even had the Garmin on, fully charged and ready to go.  Well, somehow it died on me and I managed to take a wrong turn, all within the first three miles.  I tried going all speedy, but it was hard without the Garmin to hold me accountable (it was saying 7:20 something for the third mile anyway, and I was feeling sooooo out of shape!  I was aiming for sub 7's).  I ended up meeting up with the rest of the group and giving up on the speedwork about a mile too early.  I just lost the motivation without the Garmin.  Rick said it's worked fine the rest of the week too, so who knows why it died just for me?  Then I was just going to take it easy the next day and do thirty minutes on the elliptical, but the power went out.  So I ended up pushing the double jogger for three miles or so.  Today was supposed to be my last chance to run the CRR course, but Rick recommended that we taper pretty heavily and only do two or three miles today instead.  So, ready or not, Cotton Row, here we come! 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Thoughts on (and Memories of) the Cotton Row Run

Circa 1985 (?) Katie completes the Cotton Row Run 2 Mile Run

2004 (?) Cotton Row Run Age Group Winners  Love the shaggy hair, Rick!
The Cotton Row Run 10K, 5K, and 1 mile runs are Monday, May 30, 2011.  I mentioned volunteering at the Cotton Row Run last year, and I plan to do the same volunteering this year too.  I also "helped" by going on a training run (sponsored by Fleet Feet) a couple of weekends ago.  We met at the start line at 6 a.m. and did the course, and fellow FF team member Eric Charette had water and Gatorade waiting for us runners at the top of the big Mountain Wood hill.  I feel silly saying that I helped do anything that day since I really just ran with my friends!

Here I am in the thirteenth seed for the women.  This really intimidates me---being seeded---since I feel like it's where you are supposed to finish.  And that time is seriously fast, faster than I plan to run on Monday.  I felt like I spent the whole last month recovering from the marathon.  Giving myself zero rest days after the marathon was not smart.  My left shin just quit hurting this week, and I had to take things pretty easy while that bothered me.  Then the May 18th Run Through the Roses was rescheduled for June, and I missed my "warm up" 10K.  That race would've given me a good idea of what I was capable of in Cotton Row.  These are really all just excuses.  I hope I will do better than my last year's time (44:04), but I really would be happy beating my time from 2 years ago too (47:59).  I'll have to take what I get!

Oh, here is the top three in my age group last year:
1 14 Janet Cherobon 31 Rome GA 33:44
2 54 Shawanna White 30 Lithonia GA 39:19
3 143 Katie Maehlmann 32 Madison AL 44:04

NO chance that I would ever pull a first or second place with times like these!

Finally, Cotton Row hold dear memories to me (see the two pictures above).  I ran the 2 mile event in the Cotton Row as a young child (age 8?).  The 2 mile run has since been replaced by the 5K and 1 mile events.  My mom used to run around the neighborhoods with me, doing "practice" as she called it.  She says I used to complain, complain, complain.  And walk through our practices!  She and Dad trained for the 10K back then.  Used to be, you only got a shirt if you finished the 10K in under one hour.  She missed it by seconds one year.  She used to have to check my sister and me out of school to attend the races.  Our school was still in session, and (strangely) we did not get off for Memorial Day.  I also love seeing the very 80's running clothes in the picture of me (short shorts and high socks!).  Styles sure have changed! 

I love the Cotton Row Run.  I love its traditions, its appeal to so many locals, its out-of-state competitors, the way it is family-friendly with different start times, the "big hill," and how it really does feel like summer is finally here on Cotton Row Run Memorial Day Monday.  I wish you luck if you are running, and I hope to see you out there!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Healing and Volunteering

My son is healing nicely and back to trying to run everywhere though his stitches don't come out for four more days.  I found his smashed in helmet in the garage (a neighbor had gotten his bike from the accident scene and returned it to us).  Please have your children wear their helmets!  That could've been my son's skull.  Now I work on making sure I get this scar to heal nicely.  I've had alot of suggestions--mederma, cocoa butter, vitamin E, and a wide-brimmed hat.  I'll try them all! 

I wrote last year about volunteering at the Cotton Row packet stuffing.  This year, we helped again.  I remember last year having my then two year old daughter helping me count out two safety pins for each envelope.  She couldn't count the needed four with her chubby hands, so I added two to each envelope too.  What teamwork!  This year, she helped by running from one side of the table to the other and waiting for me at each side with four pins (there were two lines for packet stuffing for efficiency).  She was cute and would say "Excuse me!" if she got in anyone's way.  Of course, my two children also sat in the corner and ate all kinds of the provided junk food while Rick and I stuffed packets.  5,000 packets were needed for Cotton Row's three events!  Wow! 

I am working on a post about Cotton Row.  Can you believe it's only a week away?

Friday--the swelling was bad that day

Wear your helmets!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thoughts on Three Hours of Sleep

He came on the Fourth of July holiday five years ago to parents who'd once thought life was about running.  They chose a name that meant "gift from God," and he was, in more ways than one.  He was busy and curious and never standing still.  His first word was "go!"  His first sentence was " [I'll] be back, Momma."  He was a textbook baby his first year, sleeping through the night at exactly six weeks, crawling at seven months, and walking at a year and a week.  He lulled his parents into thinking all babies were that peaceful and wonderful (His spitfire sister was born one day shy of his fourteenth month and proved them wrong!). 

His fourth year was one amazing moment after another.  He taught himself to swim the summer he turned four.  He swam for hours each day at the pool.  He played soccer for the first time in the fall of that year.  A few games into the season (and during a terrible downpour no less!), he got the hang of soccer in an instant.  You never saw him without the ball the rest of the season.  In the spring he balanced himself easily on a scooter so training wheels were removed.  He became a two-wheel rider with absolute ease.  His clumsy mother marveled at the things that came to him so easily.  He was a natural athlete with a long, slender body where baby chub had once been.  He wasn't only a marvel in athletics though.  His once-teacher mother showed him flashcards with sightwords and word families.  He read so well that year that she put the brakes on the teaching so he'd have something to learn once he started kindergarten. 

That boy is my one-and-only son, and of course, that momma is me.  And forgive me if I seem like I'm boasting (though I'm really just telling the facts).  Today I am reflective and thankful.  You see, my son fell off that bike last night.  I came upon the accident scene (a once fun dirt "mountain" in our neighborhood) and saw an enormous amount of blood all over his face and shirt.  Rick took him home, and he was cleaned a bit in the tub.  Alabama red dirt and blood were everywhere.  His sister surprised us all by quickly fetching his clean clothes, water, and paper towels to wipe up the mess (her little stool is still in the kitchen where she'd raced to get the towels).  She spent the night at her ever-helpful aunt's house. 

We were in the ER for five hours.  While we waited, I examined and cleaned up and dabbed the way only a mother can.  I comforted and told what was going to happen as though it was no big deal (they can sense your fear).  I signed the permission forms while blinking back tears.  I whispered gently into his ear about the failed IV attempt being "no big deal" though inside I was angry that they had to stick him twice.  I watched the doctors sedate him and put stitches inside his mouth and in his once perfect-skinned cheek.  I sat on the edge of my seat during the operation to fix his wounds (why would they let the parents stay in the room for such a thing?).  I heard his pulse beeping on the monitor, "99, 101, 100" and was brought back in an instant to the sound of the fetal heart rate monitor I used every day in my second trimester with him (The things a previous miscarriage will do to you are haunting).  I wiped tears (his and mine) and sang songs and rocked the best that one can without one's comfy rocking chair.  While we waited for the presciptions to be filled, I ran through the 24-hour grocery store and picked up jello, chicken broth, ice cream, and pudding to feed him over the next few days.  I adjusted plans and thought about how missing the last soccer game this weekend would also be painful to my four year old.        

It is the next day, and he is asleep now.  Today I think of his bravery in the ER, his needs today, and how grateful I am to God for protecting him.  And yes, yet again, with great ease I put running aside as I mother my sweet boy.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Shine in Use

My daughter mid-jump at the dance recital

You remember that I'm not a girly girl, right?  Well, my baby girl just finished her first year of dance on Saturday.  In true form, I stayed pretty clueless about everything as the year went on--the costumes, the pictures, the recital.  Dance is definitely in the details, and boy are there a ton!  My biggest flop was on picture day.  I put her ribbons on in the wrong places.  She came to dance with the sash ribbon around her neck and no sash!  Then I put the makeup on her as recommended, and I decided that I didn't like it and rubbed it all off.  Yes I did.  It felt a little "Toddlers and Tiaras" to me.  And I failed to practice her song with her until two weeks before the recital.  This turned out to be the beginning of a very special parenting moment for me.     

It started when I filmed her class as they practiced their dance for the recital.  I sat down to watch their practice and realized how many of the moves my daughter was doing wrong.  In particular, she loved the bourree turns--a little too much.  She'd twirl three times around when she was supposed to twirl once, and she really messed up the last one in the routine.  It was tricky.  Hands were to be on hips and not over the head, and they had to turn once to the right and then reverse the turn to the left.  A hard concept for a three year old!  But she was cute with all of her mishaps, and three year olds were expected to mess up!  I faced the first of many parenting dilemmas about whether or not I should intervene. 

Well, the perfectionist in me won out, and I proceeded to learn the dance myself to help her at home.  We did plies and bourree turns.  We jumped in and jumped out.  We worked at it like someone who wants to get better does.  She grew more confident, but the double bourree turn at the end still gave her trouble.  We practiced it for Daddy, me guiding her little body while we sang the lines of the song: "Sing along!  If you cannot sing them hum along!"  Recital day loomed.

At the dress rehearsal, the huge Snow White backdrop distracted her too much, and she spent most of the time turning around to see it and pointing it out to the girls around her.  "Momma wants to see you do your dance!" I reasoned, trying to gently get her to realize that she should do her best.  Saturday came, and we found our seats.  We were near the back as rookies often are, not realizing how early the good seats get taken. 

I sat nervously counting the dances before hers and fiddling with my ID bracelet that would allow me to retrieve the right girl at the end of the recital.  I thought of her standing backstage with her class.  I wondered what she was thinking about.  I silently encouraged her and wished she could hear me.  And then, she was on stage.  Her tiny arms and feet were moving.  Her sweet purple dress was swaying.  Her curls were bouncing.  She was beautiful.  My eyes were tear-glazed, and my heart was racing.  She hit move after move as I mentally danced along with her.  I waited with anticipation for the double bourree turn at the end, and then there it was.  She had done it perfectly.

How many parents have watched their daughters dance?  How many have had eyes shine with joy just as mine did?  Too many to count.  But on Saturday, I experienced it for the first time.  And I loved it and I love her.

I am reminded of a favorite quote of mine by Alfred Lord Tennyson:

How dull it is to pause, to make an end.
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!

This quote speaks to me about about really living your life to the fullest--whether you are dancing or running or parenting.  Unburnished metals are not made shiny and smooth by friction.  I thought about my little girl's ballet shoes and my running shoes and how they were worn out by all of our wear.  And I read the rest of his quote, a part I had never seen before:

As tho' to breathe were life!
As though to breathe were life?  How sad!  To think that just breathing was enough.  To not challenge yourself.  To not wear out your shoes!  To not shine in use.  His quote serves as a reminder of the brevity of my life.  I want to live it fully.  And I challenge you to live fully too.

Well worn shoes

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mother's Day and (What else?) Running

With Mother's Day approaching on Sunday, I decided to share with you my most favorite children's book of all time--Someday by Alison McGhee.  The words, the pictures---I seriously cannot get through this book without crying.  It is pretty funny to me to hear myself reading it aloud to my children.  My voice gets all quivery and a huge lump forms in my throat, and they are both like, "What? What's the matter, Momma?"  You see, they just don't get my perspective at all. 

This book begins when the child is a baby.  The mom is just enjoying her little baby girl so much.  But the mom says, "Then you were my baby.  Now you are my child."  She goes on to reveal some of her dreams that she has for her little girl once she is grown up.  This is the part that gets me every single time.  She wants her child to fully experience life--including the hurts.  That is my wish for my children too.  Oh, and there's a part about running!  She writes, "Someday you will run so fast and so far your heart will feel like fire."  The children never understand this part, but I bet you will, dear reader and running friend.  I wish this so much for my children, that they will experience running as I have.  As you also know, it is a most wonderful feeling.  

McGhee goes on to write about how this child will grow up to one day feel the weight of her own child on her back, how she will brush her daughter's hair, and how one day she (her baby!!) will have silver hair.  I can't imagine this---my little ones being old one day, being parents themselves, and me being only a memory to them.  I love how this book doesn't express the mother's huge and lofty aspirations for her child.  She doesn't want her to achieve fame and glory.  She wants her to experience life fully---to know the joy she has felt through something as simple as motherhood. 

So today, I embrace my role as the mother to my two wonderful children--my gifts, my joys.  Today I dream of the full lives they will lead.  And today I hope--however selfish it may seem--that they will carry a piece of me wherever they may go.  They mean the world to me. 

I will leave you with a favorite quote from Maureen Hawkins about the honor and awe that is motherhood.  

Before you were conceived
I wanted you
Before you were born
I loved you
Before you were here an hour
I would give my life for you
This is the miracle of life.

~ Maureen Hawkins

Monday, May 2, 2011

Tornados in Alabama

Sorry for the long delay, but we've had quite the ride.  A week ago today, really bad storms hit our area.  We are fine.  Many people lost homes and loved ones last week.  We lost power for four days.  Not much of a comparison, huh?  We stayed in town.  We were blessed with beautiful weather, so we left the windows open and spent alot of time outside.  Here is a brief synopsis of my memories of each day:

Wednesday, April 27, 2010
school open but delayed due to bad storms*preschool program beginning but then abruptly ending so children could be rushed to the basement*taking off my dress shoes to run to our car in the pouring rain with my children*hearing them laugh and think that it was the best thing ever*driving through two spots of heavy water on the road on the way home*seeing our creek completely overflowing on the sidewalk and street*putting on warm, dry clothes at home*watching Rick and our son gather earthworms during a break in the storms in the afternoon*cooking dinner and watching the oven timer flicker and then go out with only nine minutes left*heading outside to see the bad clouds coming overhead and rushing back inside*hearing it start to calm down outside*putting the children to bed in the dark with flashlights*heading to bed without power*being woken up twice by the children who could not sleep in the pitch black and were scared

Thursday, April 28, 2011
waking up to hear updates from our neighbor that power was going to be out for a reported four days*feeling bad that we didn't have a radio to listen to last night*deciding to buy a battery operated radio for next time*emptying the refrigerator and freezer*cooking perishable food that night with my twin sister and her family*feeling very fortunate to have our family safe and house undamaged*feeling completely disconnected without power or phone*feeling helpless by not being able to contact family to let them know we were okay*being amazed at the absolutely beautiful weather that day and deciding to stay in town and make the best of the situation*having a sunny picnic in the front yard*getting an unexpected gift of a HUGE box of books from a neighbor and spending time on the front lawn reading books together (Rick and our daughter reading a princess book)*having a county-wide curfew each night

Friday, April 29, 2011
reading the newspaper headlines "Dark Days" and "Help Your Neighbor"*sunny run listening to the sounds of many generators and lots of children outside playing*watching the children ride a dump truck and a wagon over and over again down our side yard slope*finally venturing out to look for ice in a nearby town*seeing some of the damage very near our house*stopping at our neighborhood Publix for some food*enjoying civilization*watching the children play with light-up bouncy balls in the playroom = pure joy for them AND me*dozing off to sleep in the playroom during our "sleepover"

Saturday, April 30, 2011
Rick commenting that the children didn't really miss the power at all*agreeing except for the fact that they were sleeping together in the playroom so they could be closer to us and not alone in the dark*inviting some church friends over to go on a walk and enjoy more beautiful weather*playing a fun card game

Sunday, May 1, 2011
hosting a "home church" together with friends on Sunday*eating in a nearby town for lunch and dinner and enjoying the food, service, and company so much*realizing that I take way too many things for granted each day*braving my first cold shower since losing power*seeing the power go back on at 10:30 p.m. and running out to tell Rick (who was sleeping in the backyard with our son in a tent)*smelling the electricity through my open bedroom window--eerie