Ragnar Take 2

I don't even know how to describe Ragnar. When you are in the middle of running it you are questioning your sanity. You are exhausted and yet, somehow, you are having fun. Last year when I finished Ragnar I was done. I had had the experience and was ready to move on. Then, much like child birth, there comes a forgetting and you're all ready to do it again.
I headed up the team this year which was it's own source of stress, but at least I knew what to expect. And we very lucky that unlike last year, when we had to replace and coerce runners down to the wire, that we had a solid 12 from November. I'm also eternally grateful that Dustin, who hates running, agrees to do it with me every year. I don't think I could make it through without his support and calmness.

We drove up to Wickenburg the night before with our van of 6. The hotel choices are sketchy up there, but we were really surprised when they only had us down for ONE room despite Dustin calling to make sure that they had us down for two. All they had left were smoking rooms, so in the end, all 6 of us bunked up in one room. It was a great way to start off the team bonding. Then we were up at 4:45 am to head out in the cold for the check-in.It was really really cold. I have on my shirt, my hoodie, my jacket, sweat pants, fuzzy socks and furry slippers. Of course I was the first runner, so it didn't last long. My first leg was 8.3 miles with 5 of them being straight uphill. I wanted to start off slow and not let the adrenalin get the best of me, so I got passed. A lot. It was all worth it when we hit that monster climb and they all had to slow down. I would love to say that I hit my stride and just killed it, but probably about 3.5 miles into the climb I walked with my team when they stopped to give me water. I complained a little and then they jazzed me up for the last 2 miles of the run. I ended up passing everyone and being the first from our start time to come into the exchange!

There is something AWESOME about being the first runner in your van. It is so nice to get in the van and know you are done and just spend your energy supporting everyone else. I don't think I would ever run a different spot now that I've done runner 1. Poor Dustin ran leg 6 again, which means he had to watch everyone finish and dread his own. It also means he usually gets the heat as the day wears on. This year was exceptionally warm as he ran us into exchange 6 to meet up with Van 2.Van 2 had some killer first legs. Maren had to run 8 miles and the temperature was somewhere in the high 80s in the desert with no shade. I felt very guilty as we sent them off while we went to gorge ourselves on Cracker Barrel and then off to the gym for a eucalyptus steam bath, hot tubs and showers. Maren is always the inspirational story of Ragnar!!The next major exchange was a High School where we attempted to nap until Chris showed up with dinner. Last year we were such rookies we had no idea what we were doing. When we got to exchange 12 we noticed people had tents and food table set up and we vowed we would be that awesome next year. Chris, unfortunately, broke his ankle cleaning the pool, which meant he was out this year. Still, he trekked up there with BBQ and water bottles so he could hang out and eat dinner with us. It was definitely awesome.

I took off from there for my second run. It was dark out by now and the run has somewhere between 7-10 stoplights. I was so frustrated. You'd run and get in this great rhythm and BOOM. Stoplight. I hit The beginning was the worst since there were a good 6 stoplights, one right after the other. At one stoplight another runner even commented, "I feel so bad for you. You try so hard to get away from us and then every light we get to catch up." Finally there was a good distance of just sidewalk where I started passing people and getting my stride. It was a nice, easy 6 mile run.

Poor Dustin ran us into Anthem around 1 in the morning. He wanted us to stop and give him water at a certain point, but it was really really dark and you could not tell who any of the runners were. We were sleepy and hadn't paid attention to the times, so we couldn't figure out the math on when he should run by. I just sat there staring across the road wondering if every runner was Dustin. "I think that's him!" Then it would be a girl. Finally a runner passed by who looked JUST like Dustin would look in the complete and utter dark if all we basing things on was a general mass of form. I took off running him down with his water. I was also wearing a blanket and wearing my furry slippers. Finally I had to resort to yelling at him to get his attention. Finally about half a mile in, the guy turns around and yells, "I'm not Dustin." OOPS!

I eventually found my actual husband, gave him some water, exchanged with van 2 and went to sleep for a whole 2 hours. My last leg was only 3.6 so I told my team to go straight to the exchange. It was dark and creepy and you could hear the coyotes howling. Those headlamps they make you wear do NOTHING for you night vision. I rolled my ankle, fell down and cut open my knees and still managed to finish enough ahead of schedule that my team was not waiting for me at the exchange. But I was DONE!

The third leg is usually the hardest leg for most of the runners in van 1 and I was so glad to be done so I could cheer them on. There is nothing so fulfilling as being there to cheer on your team and support them in their time of need. I think that is what makes Ragnar so fun. Usually in running you don't do a lot of supporting and you don't get a lot of support, but during Ragnar you have so many people to rely on. Jacque had a grueling 7 miles uphill that she killed. Efren had a 9 miler. Skye had injured his IT band and was in pain. Sharell was hot and miserable and her music wasn't working. And Dustin had the hills into Fountain Hills.

Those hills are killer. Up and down and it never ends. Last year Dustin was pretty miserable so he trained and planned for this year. I was so proud of him because he did amazing on those hills. He kept his pace and just turned it out.

Van 1 -- DONE!I think when all was said and done, we had well over a 100 kills between our van and everyone finished their runs ahead of schedule. We headed home for a shower and a nap before the finish line. And In 'n Out burger.

I was about an hour into my nap when Dustin shook me awake to tell me Van 2 was going to get into the finish line earlier than expected. He wanted to know what time we had to leave and my brain could not function. I couldn't even understand what he was saying because I was *that* sleepy. Somehow I showered, got the babysitter, picked up the kids, met up with the Fagrells and we headed to the finish line to run in together.It was a great year! Best year yet and I'm already ready for 2013!!


Let's back this Baby Up

The last Sunday in February, I went to take Ellie to the Stake center since she was singing in the Stake Children's Choir for Stake Conference. When I came home my computer was a black screen and there seemed to be a wet puddle of water nearby. No one would look me in the eye. Needless to say, we took my computer in and sure enough -- water damage. Then began the month long process of taking it to a specialist to get the hardware cleaned up so we could save files from it, then to the Mac store to get it back up and running. Finally, one month later, I had a computer again. And since then I've just been lazy.

Right before my computer mysteriously submerged itself in water, Dustin took the girls to a Daddy Daughter dance. There favorite part is probably getting their hair done at the salon. My favorite part is laughing at all the ridiculous pictures they take. Well, not *they*. There is only one who could entertain so well. Ellie has always been very cooperative with the camera -- except for when she refuses to show her teeth:Still beautiful though. I just like her better with teeth.Sadie, on the other hand. . . For being such a gorgeous girl can really pull some diva shots:Then there is the pout:
Or if you're really lucky, you get the mad wink eye:Who am I kidding -- you will ALWAYS get a mad wink eye shot with my kids. Sometimes I can get her to pull it off. Dimples and all: Love love my girls!


All you need is love. . . and a red bull

Like most parents, we started our own Valentine's early. Friday night Dustin took me out to The Greene House where I stuffed my face and then shopping at Anthropologie. It was a really fun night, even when the Valet who had just driven a Ferrari back, brought around my mom-mobile stuffed with car seats and Radio Disney on the stereo. I am so lucky to have so many Valentines!

Unfortunately my #1 Valentine left town Monday morning. For the third week in a row. So by the time I had put together 68 valentine's for classes, figured out gifts for teachers, planned a party for Ellie's class and dropped off the leftover goodie boxes from the fundraiser, I was about done with Valentine's Day. I was exhausted from being a single mom and wanted someone else to be in charge of something for once.

Tuesday morning I woke up at 4:30 am and decided it deserved to be celebrated anyway. I got up and made everyone heart shaped pancakes for breakfast. Please note that both my boys make the exact same cheesey open-mouth smile.
Nate kept asking, "Uhhh, you know how usually there's a box of candy or something? Are we getting that after school?" I usually buy for the boys and Dustin buys for the girls (just something small like a Star Wars box of chocolates), but since we had been so slammed lately neither one of us had gotten them a single thing (unless you count the candygrams and truffles we bought from the fundraiser). So after I dropped the kids off to school, Sadie, Luke and I headed to Wal-Mart (the only place open before 8 am) for some Valentine's Day shopping. Usually I never have to go to a store on a holiday, but guess what!! 1. Wal-Mart is actually unusually empty that early in the morning and 2. They still had stuff!! You can actually purchase things for a holiday THE.DAY.OF! It is not necessary to shop 4 months in advance.
We headed home, decorated the table all fun for after school, wrapped the presents, made heart shaped rice krispie treats and got ready for Ellie's class party. Nate's was a no-parents-invited affair.We had a candy obstacle course, played Cupid's Arrow, made cards for parents, ate snacks and then had a birthday party for Ellie's teacher whose birthday was the day before. We love Mrs. Scott and had fun making her wear a ridiculous birthday get up and playing a game all about her.

After school we came home to find Dustin had ordered us the best Valentine's gift ever -- an edible arrangement. My kids were CRAZY for that thing. Luke only like the regular strawberries which was a big win for us, because then we *had* to eat the chocolate dipped ones.

It was Jill's night for dinner co-op so we feasted on pot roast and flat bread and then opened up our gifts. Ellie got earrings. Pokemon cards for Nate. Some Hello Kitty sticker book Sadie picked out for herself and Thomas the Train plates -- also picked by the recipient at the store.Apparently he did not like them as much when he opened them for the second time that day.Or it could have been a meltdown from his no-nap strike. Seriously he really needs his naps still. How to enforce them?
It all turned out just fine with a little bit of chocolate. And luckily the 15 minute cat nap on the floor meant he was up ALL NIGHT!

I am so grateful for the little prompting that morning and all the extra energy that magically appeared. I absolutely love me family and I'm so grateful I got to make them feel special all day! And I'm so lucky that their excitement and love of life, plus their hugs and kisses, made me feel special all day too.


Candy, pretzels and truffles -- OH MY!

The last few weeks were dominated by our Young Women's fundraiser for Girl's Camp. There was a lot of planning, shopping, pricing, printing, announcing, organizing, assigning, tallying, e-mailing. . . And as Camp Director I get to do it all!! I absolutely LOVE my girls, though, so I'm not complaining.

Friday morning I spent an HOUR crushing packages of oreos in my blender. There was black oreo dust over every surface of my kitchen. Then Rikelle, wh had just dipped 150 pretzels in home-made caramel, came over and we mixed and rolled 350 oreo truffles which then sat in my fridge over night.
Saturday we met at 2:30 and stuffed candygrams, put together boxes, dipped everything in chocolate and packaged everything beautifully. I may have been the truffle Nazi and wouldn't let the girls eat any of them so a few (a lot) "accidentally" got dropped on the floor.

The girls worked hard and we got 36 candygrams stuffer, 350 truffles (minus a few) and 120 pretzels dipped and packaged in just 2.5 hours.
There was, of course, no time to spare because the girls went straight into babysitting 20 kids from the Ward while their parents went out on Valentine's dates. Those girls earned every single penny they made. I was really proud of how hard they worked.

It was a great experience for me because I saw how much WORK helped the girls bond. Our Ward split/realigned a few months ago, and while the girls have been nice to each other, I felt like they were finally coming together as friends.

At the same time, it was a loooong evening and at 9 I was ready to crawl into bed (well, at least ready to put Luke into bed who is on nap strike right now and turns into a raving lunatic at 6 pm). As I turned out of the parking lot, I got a call from one of my Laurels who wanted to know if we were still going to go decorate Stepahnie's yard for her birthday. Those girls have BOUNDLESS energy!!


School News

Honestly, I've been meaning to blog. I don't know where the week went. Dustin was gone again (but this week at least it was only a short trip to California), Luke has not been sleeping, and we are currently in the middle of Fundraising craziness at our house. Summer movie tickets, Aunt Annie's pretzels and Girls Camp Fundraising are all going down in the next 48 hours. If you're reading this -- you probably owe me money for SOMETHING you've ordered from one of those. And if you don't, just send me money anyway.

PLUS, I decided to go off of sugar last week too. People say you're suppose to have all this new energy once you're off of it, but my butt is dragging and I'm an emotional mess. And I haven't even lost 1 pound. One more week without weight loss and I'm binging since it appears to have no effect on my weight. I have 10 boxes of oreos sitting on my counter right now. Maybe I won't wait a week.

I got Sadie all registered for Kindergarten. I'm so torn. Am I excited? Am I sad? We all know kids just hit a point where they're ready for school and Sadie has hit that point. I am so grateful that my neighbors love her because she has to constantly be doing something. She will stare out the window until the Ray's car pulls into their garage. And if Lindsay is napping, she is begging to run down to Jill's. Once 4 pm hits, I set her free. At the same time she is the most entertaining companion I could ever ask for. Today I told her she could have oreos in her lunch tomorrow if she went to bed without whining. She ran around the house, "KIDS! I have the most AMMMMMAZING news!"

Thanks to Pinterest, Nate has the cutest Valentine's box for his party. The examples were really bright and colorful, but Nate HAD to have it black and blue. I think he did a really great job.
They are also learning about Penguins at school so tomorrow is black and white day. They get to wear black and white clothes and eat black and white snacks and watch a movie. He's taking hostess cupcakes. After school he is going to his best friend's house and then to see Star Wars in 3-D. Best day EVER???

Nate also got his Principal award on Monday. He was beyond excited. He got it for being a "mathematical thinker." I'll take all the credit for that one. 710 on the math portion of the SAT as a Junior. Oh wait, now I get accosted by bitter old ladies at the dollar store (we'll save that story for another day). It got me nowhere.

Ellie is knee deep in Famous Arizonan. Her report is on Barbara Park who wrote the Junie B. Jones books. She has been dying to do this since last year when the 4th grader who had Barbara Park came to school in her pajamas for the Wax Museum.Last week the Student Council went to the District Convention dressed as Hippies.

Luke is not in school. Luke is in my face ALL.THE.TIME. Words cannot describe how much he loves me. It flattering and infuriating at the same time. Sometimes he will hit me just so he'll have to say sorry and kiss me. Girls -- look out. I'm not sure he's marriage material. Now Nate on the other hand is going to be the BEST husband ever. Luke is TRAIN OBSESSED. Specifically Thomas. When the Tylers moved back in, he decided he might want to hang out there more than on my lap because they have a giant bin of Thomas the train sets. If we can't find Luke, we know right where to go. And every time he comes home, he has stolen trains from their house.


London's Run 2012

I have been a race slacker. Training takes a lot of time and if I commit to something, I want to do it better than before. I injured myself after my last half over a year ago, managed to heal up to Ragnar at the end of February and shortly after that summer was here and my running tapered off as I was forced onto a treadmill for the very long Arizona summer. Honestly, I didn't WANT to know how fast or slow I was. My very favorite running partner wanted to run Shun the Sun again in November, so we started up a training program, but I wasn't completely on board. I was just enjoying running for the sake of running and wasn't sure I could handle my own mental pressure. Then, as luck (??) would have it, I was on my death bed 2 weeks before the run and there was no way I was going to be ready. I took our kids up to cheer on Rickie and had to hold back the tears as I watched her run in. I could remember all the emotions you feel at the very end. The exhaustion. The excitement to see your family. The desire to be DONE! I was especially choked up when she set a new PR.

So when I got an e-mail from Michelle, who I *wish* lived here to be my running buddy -- she might give Rickie some competition as "favorite running buddy" (oh wait, or maybe *I* would lose out as favorite??), asking if Rickie and I were up for London's Run I was in. We trained. We ran. We ran a LOT. Usually between 30 and 35 miles a week, which can be a lot to fit in. The training had lots of speed work and I was feeling pretty fast, but I wasn't sure. 2 weeks before the race, Rickie and I ran our 13 miles to prep for it. It end up only being 12.9, but I ran it at 1:45. I was pretty excited since my time goal for this race was to hit under the 1:50 mark and I was pretty sure I could do it.

The night before we had a carbo load over at Brenna's house. The kids ran around and loved having Michelle's oldest, Abby, to play with. We talked about what to wear, what time goals we wanted to hit (Rickie was sure I'd hit under 1:45, but I didn't want the pressure). I love running a race with friends because it makes it much more of an event! We all drove over together the next morning and started out running together. I think I may have pushed myself a little too hard too fast because I lost Michelle and Rickie around mile 3. That was a long distance to run all by myself. I am such a social runner. I did get to run by Brenna when we joined up with the 10K runners for awhile. But by mile 8 I was all alone and a little sick of the dirt. It's a course all on farmland so there aren't really a lot of spectators and the runners had all thinned out. By mile 10 I had accidentally inhaled my gum and was dying of heat. I think the race temp was 65, which isn't bad, but I would have preferred a little cooler. I grabbed a cup of water at the aid station, threw it on my face to cool me off and realized moments later it was Gatorade.

Now usually when I get to the last 2 miles, I hit a great cruise speed, get in the zone and just turn it out. Instead I was hot, thirsty and sticky. I just keep going until mile 12 I got a horrible stabbing pain in my side. MILE 12?? Are you kidding me?? I thought I'd try walking for a minute to see if I could get rid of it, but it only made it worse. Now I could feel my jell-o quads and the stabbing wasn't going anywhere. I started jogging really slowly and finally the last half mile I looked at my watch and realized if I was going to hit under 1:45, I was going to have to book it. I literally sprinted the last quarter mile as I approached the finish line.
I could see my family and I almost started crying until I heard Luke SCREAMING for me. At that point I just started laughing and pushed through. Official time: 1:44:36. I was (and AM) so excited, but there's still part of me that is so mad at myself for walking. But I did it. I hit my goal! I am so grateful for girlfriends who push me to be better and support me in anything I try to achieve. I would never be doing this if I didn't have such a great running partner. Thank you Rickie! You make 10 miles on a Saturday morning something I look forward to (I'll miss you tomorrow - get better soon)!
I am especially grateful to my sweet family who always support me -- no matter what crazy thing I'm planning. Dustin got the kids ready in the morning so I could go on long runs during the weekdays and give up Saturday mornings together so I could run with Rickie. He even watched her kids one morning so I wouldn't have to run alone. Luke would get my running shoes and push me out the door when it was cold and say, "Mom, go runnin'." My sweet kids who were so excited for my race and gave up sleep on a Saturday morning. They made me signs. They sat at that finish line waiting for me. Nate even had so much faith in me, he made a bet with Daven over whose mom would finish first (the bet was for $8 -- that's a lot of money to a 7 year old).

I'm not the *fastest* girl in the world. I'm never going to win any awards or impress anybody, but my family thinks I'm great and that means I'm the *luckiest* girl in the world.