Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas: Sweet Soddy Acres Style

Our fist Christmas tree as a married couple.

Manger (Andy built) and Nativity from my parents

Atreyu cozy by the fire

All our fire wood

Ahhh Christmas lights...

This Christmas is going to have many "firsts" to it. This will be the first time Andy and I are able to put up a tree. Our house in Bloomington was too little for 3 dogs, furniture, 2 people, AND a Christmas tree. This will be our first Christmas when we BOTH are living in TN. Finally, it will be our first Christmas in OUR home.

Yesterday, Jacqueline and I made Christmas cookies. They all turned out great. I used my Kitchen Aid mixer for the first time in 2 years. I don't know why I didn't use it before. That mixer is AMAZING! I am going to have to find ways to use it more. Love it. Jacqueline and I had so much fun. I hope we do this every year. Next year, I want to make more cookies and maybe cook all day. :)

I realized that one year ago today I was driving down from my parent's house in Aurora to Chattanooga. The weather was horrendous. The wind was gusting up to 45 mph winds in IL. The wind chill was so severe that I had the heat on full blast and poor little Payton was shivering with the seat warmer on! I am pretty sure I posted a blog about it then, if you want more details scroll back. ;-) The weather today was great! Chilly, but awesome. We had a light dusting of snow last night. I woke up to a very fine layer of snow on the deck. I was walking around with a t-shirt and a fleece...that is it! I love the weather in Chattanooga.

I have 3 days of work and then off for a 4 day Christmas vaca. Christmas Eve Andy and I are going to go to midnight mass (@ 10:30 pm) with Deni Stockburger and Lois (Deni's Mom). We have been invited to an Italian Christmas dinner with the Stockburger's (our neighbors). On Christmas day Andy and I want to go on a ride or go rock climbing, depending on the weather. I also want to get some hiking in this weekend. With all the leaves off the trees it is so much easier to see the mountain and go exploring.

It is so amazing to look back on the past year and think about all the things Andy and I have gone through. This time last year, I just put the Bloomington house on the market and had not a clue what was happening next for us. I feel so blessed. People say that all the time, but it is really hitting me this season. Andy is an awesome husband, we have a great house, we are in great health, good friends and neighbors, and wonderful family.

Miss you all. Hope you have a great holiday. We will be thinking about you. Take care, Heather

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

St. Jude Marathon 12/5/2009

I am going to preface this post with, this is NOT going to be a race report. The more I race and read race reports the more I realize they are a HUGE long list of excuses. I have tried to make my race reports funny and entertaining. Not sure if I have succeeded, but as Andy says, "You are the funniest person you know." Thanks babe, I think ;-)

I drove to Memphis to meet up with my best friend Candace Crawford and her friend Megan Dombrowski. I got there a little early so I unpacked, went to Walgreens, and watched a movie. Candace and Megan got there and we went out to dinner at Club 152 and picked up our packets. It was good to reconnect with Candace. I haven't seen her since I moved from IL. We got back to the hotel (which was SUPER DUPER scary...strange stains on the box springs and a bathroom that needed to be sprayed down with bleach). Candace didn't want to take her shoes off all weekend ;-) I started to put my race things together for the next morning. I started to slowly realize I was underdressed. The weekend before I ran in tights and a short sleeved tech shirt. Thinking that would be adequate attire, I packed the same outfit for the marathon. Come to find out, Memphis is colder than Chattanooga! Who would have thunk it? Candace let me borrow a warmer pair of her tights (btw...when traveling with Candace, she packs her ENTIRE closet ;-)) and a fleece. I thought I was going to be a little overdressed because I get hot really fast. But it was a good, if I would have been smart and brought a lighter fleece of my own, it would have been perfect.

Race morning: We woke up before our 5:30 am alarm and went and got some food, while Megan slept in a little. When we got back to the hotel we were ready to go! We walked down to the trolley. Downtown Memphis has these awesome HEATED trolleys that took us to the start. The temperature was a balmy 29* race morning. That is the coldest I have felt since leaving IL. Yikes! We got into our corrals. I found the 3:50 pace group leaders. 2 really cool guys. I think one of their names was Ben, not sure who the other guy was, but very nice guys.

Race: When we got up to the start I was worried I was going to loose them in the first couple of miles. It was my first time running with a pace group. The first 2 miles felt slow, so I started to relax. The next 6 miles felt amazing! I looked at the mile marker and was shocked to see that 8 miles were already in the bank. I got a smile on my face and new that I was going to run a marathon in under 4 hours. I really appreciate those pace runners. A couple times they would tell us to slow down 'cuz we were ahead. So nice. The other thing I noticed in those first 8 miles was the amount of technology that surrounded me. In triathlon, it is really comical when you get to a hill and you can hear everyone know there is something up a head if you can't see it yourself. In the marathon last Saturday, every mile marker you could hear a handful of beep beep beep. All the GPS watches were calculating and telling their runners what they were doing. It gave me a little smile. I was wearing a GPS watch too. It was amazing, every single mile we hit the 8:41 pace on the money. I felt great! I was able to talk to the other pace runners. I had so much left in my engine. Then it hit me. Uh Oh. Porta potty break. I knew we were coming up to a mile marker, so there were sure to be porta potties there. I started to speed up, so that hopefully, I would give myself some cushion room to catch back up to the pace group after I was done. Check. Found a porta pottie, got in and got out. Sped up and found the pace group again. The half-way split came and went. I looked at my watch and it read 1:45, whoo hoo! A PR at a half! I was initially going to do the half marathon, but it filled up too fast. So instead of being a bandit, I ran the full. Right after the half split... my potty emergency hit again. So I sped up and jumped into a porta pot -- got out and caught back up to the group. I was feeling a little whooped by this time. Not as much spring in my step. I visited every porta potty from mile 14-19. Not sure what happened, what I ate, or why for the first time EVER I had digestion problems, but I did. With all the stopping and starting and being dehydrated, I had a lot of trouble running. I think I pretty much walked most of the last 6 miles. I finished in 4:23:46 (10:05 pace). I will say that was the hardest marathon I have EVER ran, inside or outside of an Ironman.

In the end, I am happy with my decision to run the full. It taught me a lesson that I had not gotten the opportunity to learn until now. Long distance running hurts. It really does. I guess I have had it so easy for so long that I didn't understand when people would tell me about their issues during a race. I couldn't empathize. In my 5 years of racing I have never been injured (except for an inflamed bursa sac on my heel from putting my feet on the coffee table watching TV-opps!), had digestion problems, or during race injuries. This marathon taught me humility and the importance of preparation. So to end my rambling, this was my 5 marathon, but not my last. I will go under 4 hours in my next marathon...just not sure when I want to wake the 26.2 mile beast again. ;-) Thanks for all the support and advice. Mostly, thank you to Andy. He did get fired as my coach once, but he gracefully let me hire him back after a heartfelt apology. He is amazing and he really helped me train to be a better runner.

I am taking some time off this week and re-evaluating my race schedule. I really want to start climbing and doing yoga again...but then again there is a half marathon here in Chattanooga at the end of February. Hmmmm. Tune in next time to see the super-fabulous adventures of Heather and Andy Sweet. Same bat time. Same bat channel.

PS-As soon as Candace and Megan send me pictures of the weekend, I will post them.