Thursday, May 17, 2012

(the longest) lincoln half marathon recap (ever)

[If you're reading this today, Thursday, then hop over here and enter the TWO giveaways I have up that end today! Lots of cuteness up for grabs!]

I meant to do a race recap from the Leprechaun Chase 10k I ran back in, oh, MARCH, but that didn't happen. And now it's all a big green blur. I remember that it was windy, oh so windy. And hilly, but doable. And really freaking congested for the first 2 1/2 miles. But it was fun, and there was beer waiting for me at the end, so I can't complain too much. I finished that race in 59:19 (9:33 pace) - and I was hoping to beat 60 minutes, so I'm happy with it. It was a fun race. Joey and I matched. Whee. (Also: this is a really horrendous picture of me, but look at my skinny husband.)

Then I meant to do a race recap from the Bee Buzz Run in April. I super puffy heart Bee, Nebraska. Since my own hometown is 5 hours away, I've adopted Bee as my new hometown. It's cute and tiny and they have really good fish fry's (fish fries looks like french fries, and that's not what this is, grammar police) on Fridays. But they also have a 4 mile race in the spring to raise money for rehabbing the Bee Ballroom - it's a giant 12-sided building that needs a bit of TLC to be restored. Anyway, love Bee. The 4 mile race takes you out into the country, on gravel roads, around a "section" (linked for my non-farm friends). I finished the race in 37:06 (9:16 pace) - whoa, fast.

The Lincoln Half Marathon was 11 days ago - and it already feels like a blur. The night before, we left the boys with my inlaws, and then Joey and I went to church and to supper. I didn't sleep a ton - and knew my alarm was set for 4:45 and was dreading oversleeping. It was storming and windy all night. I woke up at 4am and was up for the day. A quick glance at the radar on my phone showed this:

And then I laughed and Joey woke up and was cranky with me for being up 45 minutes before the alarm was due to go off.

We left at 5:45 to get downtown. We parked across from the stadium, dropped our bags in the bag drop, and I began plotting where I was going to pee the requisite 421 times before the race began. Our sweet neighbor, Camille, rode with us to the race and was more than patient with my necessary pre-race pit stops.

Joey - still annoyed with me being up at 4am.
The clock ticked toward 7am and by then the rain had stopped. It was overcast, cool, and beautiful. I kissed Joey good luck, said farewell to Camille, and found my spot with the 2:05 pace group. The day before, at the expo, I stopped by the pacer's table and they had magical wrist bands with the pace that each group was going to hit for each mile. In my mind, I had a goal of hitting 2 hours, 10 minutes - that was a 9:54 average pace, which I was pretty sure I could hit. But the 2:05 pace group was a 9:33 average - and the first mile was a 10:02 mile - that I knew I could do. The pacer dude told me to start with the 2:05 group and fall back if I needed to.

I brought some Shot Blocks for my pre-race energy, and nervously started chomping on 3 of them (not all at once, those things are freaking huge) as we were herded toward the starting line. I finally crossed the starting line at 7:22.

Here is where I tell you that running a half marathon in a race setting is really not at all comparable to training for a half marathon. The training part was work, it was sweat, in some cases it was tears. It was the gritty means to an end, a necessary evil some days. It took time away from my kids, and there were days that I resented it. The actual race? Was kind of blissful. Maybe it was just my newness, and wide-eyed wonder at the whole situation, but it didn't feel like work. It was truly the best kind of reward for the previous six months of toil.

I knew the first water station wasn't until mile 3 - and those 3 miles were a blur. There were people cheering, I was navigating rain puddles, and trying to stay with the little group of people in my 2:05 group. Thank God for them, seriously, because if they hadn't kept me to a 10:02 pace that first mile, I would have been gone like a flash and paid for it in agony later. I paced with them well until miles 5-6. We hit a 9:13 mile pace and I was feeling it. Thankfully, there was a long downhill stretch, but I could tell that my adrenaline had subsided and I needed to rely on my endurance to carry me. I popped the last 3 of those gigantic, delicious, shot blocks, and prayed they'd kick in quickly so I could keep up with the group. The course wasn't super congested at this point, but there would still be times that I would get cut off from them a bit and have to catch up.

A little past mile 6 (I think), we turned off the road and onto the trail. THAT was congested, the entire time we were on it. People were passing two-wide on the grass. Everyone was courteous, and no one was really walking or being dumb, it was just zomg, so many people. It would be swell if this event could go beyond 10,000 runners, but unless they move off this trail, I don't know how that would happen. [End random soapbox from the beginner runner who has only run this race once.]

Anyway, I kept up with the 2:05 group as much as possible, but we were finally cut off entirely between mile 7 and 8. It was 7.79 when I finally lost them and glanced at my RunKeeper app - and noticed I was running a 9:26 pace. I said HOLY CRAP, audibly, and laughed, and slowed down a bit. No wonder I was sucking wind so badly - and I still had 5 miles to go.

Since I was trying to hit at least a 2:10 finish, I knew that all I really had to do was stay in front of the 2:10 pace group. The previous day, the pacer guy at the expo had told me that each group would finish within 1 minute of that pace.

I continued to plod along - I never stopped to walk. I didn't ever feel like I needed to, and I knew it would sap my momentum.

And then I ran into The Hill. I really, really wanted to get a wagon ride up the hill from the kids on the sidelines. I told myself to lean into it. Ha, I have no idea what that even means, but it seemed to work. I just leaned forward a bit and kept going. Cresting the hill, this guy had a sign saying "It's all downhill from here". Phew.

I got to the aid station by the hospital and needed a final boost. I had lost track of miles, I think maybe mile 9? I don't know. I think 9 because I told myself that's when I'd have my GU Gel. Oh I hate those things. They make me gag and sputter. But they work. It's just. They're so freaking... gooey. Blech.

But I had eneeerrrrrgyyyyy!

I also hate warm water, so I got a cup of ice and very carefully poured my water into my cup of ice, while running. I am awesome at multitasking.

The crowd was awesome the entire time, but they were necessary those last 3 miles. I was done. I was dreaming of my couch, and food, and sleep. I never did see my boys - Joey did - but we missed each other entirely. :o\ I saw a lot of really random, awesome people - both those who I knew would be out cheering, and those I didn't. I would start to need a boost and say a quick "please God, just give me someone, I need a boost" - and it would be a former coworker, or a cute kid with high fives, or even just some random dude on the street saying "goooo Alison!".

I finally, finally neared the stadium. I passed a poor girl at the 12.9ish mark who was passed out and they had fluids going into her and had her feet propped up. I never felt so bad for someone in my life... to make it so far!

I rounded the bend into the stadium, and this guy was like "you're almost there, it's just a 50 yard dash!" so I dashed, I found some random pocket of sprint energy and sprinted to the finish.


I found some bananas and chocolate milk (which sound hideous together, now, but were divine in that moment).

RunKeeper was telling me 2:11:16 for a finish, and a distance of 13.3, so I knew it was a bit off.

A few hours later, my final time came in at 2:11:00 - 10:00 pace on the dot. Who does that?! Who hits a perfectly round number? This girl with the love for round numbers!

I don't know what happened to the 2:10 pace group - they never passed me. Maybe I was just a smidge ahead of them though, who knows.

Overall, I was thrilled with the entire experience and can't wait for the next one!

Camille and I - we did it!
And I present you with really horrible race photos...

That kid running in the red shirt? Is THIRTEEN. Incredible.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sweet Ainsley

Several years ago, when we were trying to grow our family, I met some amazing friends on the Internets who were playing that waiting game too. One of those friends is Jen. The other day, someone asked how long I'd known her, and I realized I don't remember ever not knowing her - we've been friends as long as I've been in that online community.

Jen is hilarious, you can't read a post of hers without wanting to drive to Ohio and have a drink with her. More than that though, she's an amazing mom to three beautiful girls, two in heaven, one on Earth; and another sweetpea is due to join their family in just a few weeks.

Jen's oldest daughter Olivia is just 2 weeks older than Brecken. It was fun to compare pregnancy notes, then later commiserate when they wouldn't sleep (ZOMG WHY WON'T THEY SLEEP), and then over the toddler tantrums, and, more recently, laugh over the preschooler shenanigans.

Almost 17 months ago, Jen had twins, Evelyn and Ainsley, two months early. Evelyn was born at rest. Ainsley was tiny but a fighter, and fought for so long that her sweet little body finally gave out last Saturday and she joined her sister in heaven.

Ainsley had the MOST nomable, chunky cheeks, and the hugest grin. Seriously, Jen would post a photo to facebook of Ainsley's latest smile and I would smile the rest of the day. She was pure joy in a pint-sized person. I miss her.

Today, from 5-8pm, they're having a memorial service for Ainsley and Evelyn. I'm remembering them with Internet silence and instead I'm going to love on my babies. We're going to blow bubbles for Ainsley and Evelyn to show them our love. We're going to giggle and cherish today, because tomorrow isn't promised.

If you want to read more about Jen and her cute family, here is her blog:

You're welcome to join us tonight. If you want to do something more tangible to remember Ainsley, you can email knepperfamilydonations at gmail - it sounds like there's lots of options in the works.

Rest well, sweet girls.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Here Comes Summer Blog Hop Giveaway: Local Lustre & Spaghetti On The Wall

You guys, I have the coolest friends. When I expanded my Etsy shop in January to include artwork and typography, I realized a few of my friends had some pretty awesome Etsy shops too! I started using them for gifts (for others and myself) when I was outside my own crafty comfort zone.

I wanted to tell the world how awesome their stuff is, and it turns out I wasn't alone. The 5 of us - Suzy, Nicole, Laurie, Lindsay, and myself - all want you to know how great each others' stuff is, so we're hosting some pretty fantastic blog giveaways this week!

Ladies (and the rare gentleman), I present:

It's really very simple. Enter the TWO giveaways here, on my blog, and then hop on around to the other 3 blogs (there's 4 blogs and 5 giveaways, I have 2 going on here) to enter at each stop. Then check back Friday to see if you're a winner! There's TWO giveaways on my blog TWO, DOS, so keep reading to make sure you enter them both!

After you enter here, hop over to these other blogs to enter their giveaways, you'll see something from me there too!


Lindsay lives in New Orleans (I really wanted to type N'awlins, but I held back) (oops). And makes the most amazing door decor. I mean seriously, this crab?! Love.

I ordered one of these state ones ^, but Nebraska of course. I already know I'm going to love it. Also? I love that not everyone is going to have one of them. Like everyone and their mother (and me! and my mother!) have giant wooden flowers hanging on their front door, but I'm going to be one of a few to have a fancy Nebraska on my door.

Chomp, chomp. Seriously, The Cute. And perfect for a Gators fan, yes?

Lindsay started her little shop after being told for years that she should do so - clearly her friends and family know talent when they see it. :o) And the rest of us are so glad she did! She stuffs them with recycled grocery bags (my husband, aka Captain Planet, approves!), and gives them a finishing coat of Scotch Guard so they can stand up to the elements outdoors.

She loves custom orders and can make anything you wish, so long as there's a Google-able silhouette of it available. Check out Lindsay's shop here:

So, the good part - the GIVEAWAY! Lindsay will make the winner a summer-themed or state door hanger of their choice! To enter, just leave a comment on the rafflecopter widget below! Contest ends at 12:01am on Friday, May 18th. Good luck! And keep reading, there's another giveaway below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I sort of insisted on having Nic's cute stuff on my blog because this is as close as I'll ever get to adorably girly hair things. And y'all (this Midwesterner just got Southern for a moment), her stuff is uh-door-uh-bull. Obviously, I'm not too versed in little girl hair fashion, but her stuff is so freaking awesome, it's stuff that I would wear, in the right setting. It's not overly poufy or loud, it's unique, simple, and perfect.

Makes me happy. I would buy this just to stick it on my bulletin board at work. Maybe I will. Ok, this one is mine, no stealing.

And how perfect is this one?! Simple, cute, and the baby is still the main subject.

I'm totally getting this one to put on the lapel of my coat, how perfect:
Check out all of the cuteness at the Spaghetti on the Wall shop, here: I love that her stuff is affordable. You can buy a few things without breaking the bank, and your little one (or yourself!) can still be stylish!

And the good part, the giveaway! You're lucky, Nic made you a special package o' goodness just for this giveaway! The winner will receive these 4 amazing creations, on either alligator clips or snap clips:

To enter, just leave a comment on the rafflecopter widget below. Then hop on over to these other blogs to enter their giveaways too! Contest ends at 12:01am on Friday, May 18th. Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

The featured product for each giveaway or posting was not provided to me; this is simply for information or a giveaway only. I did not accept monetary compensation for the specific write up. Any and all additional information in each post are expressly my own opinion/additions and opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


It dawned on me this morning that when the sun sets on May 7th, in the course of 10 days, I will have had my very first ever craft show for Ten Tiny Toes, completed a half marathon, and welcomed my new nephew into the world. All of those things have required a ton of preparation, and honestly? I don't know how I'm getting it all done, but here we are. Day 5 of this 10 day span and going strong.

When Joey and I decided to run the half marathon last December, it was sort of a pipe dream. I mean, we paid the $60 (each!) to register for the race, and since we're cheap I think the only thing keeping me going in those first weeks was the fact that I would be damned if anyone thought I'd leave $60 on the table so easily. But we kept going. Through March when we ran the 10k, I hadn't missed a single day of training. Since then, Spring has sprung, and getting out to put my feet to pavement has been harder than I imagined. It's gloriously sunny out until 8pm. The boys have spring fever, they just want to be outside. I want to be with them. Jude is walking. Brecken is telling hilarious tall tales, and honestly I don't want to take 60 minutes of their time to go run. But I made it work as much as I could, and I sit here, 4 days before I attempt to run farther than I have in my 29 years, and I feel ready. I'm not nervous about the distance. I'm excited for the race for exactly 2 reasons: a) I haven't run the course before; I get soooo bored running the same streets/paths all the time, so it will be awesome to see new cracks in the sidewalks and b) the people - I'm excited to see all those people clapping for me (and 9,999 others), because a year ago?! I was 8 months pregnant and running wasn't even on my horizon. I AM nervous about my health. Specifically my knee and foot still - if you have a spare prayer, I covet them. If you can just think happy pain-free thoughts, I'll take those too. All I want to do is finish.

My husband is a saint. Sometimes in a (rare) quiet moment, I catch myself wondering "is this really my life?!". I am so, so blessed by two adorable, amazing kids, and a husband that supports me no matter what. I knew Joey was made for me in that typical newlywed bliss way, but you guys? It just keeps getting better. Five and a half years into this marriage thing and I think we're hitting our stride a bit... by no means do we have it all figured out, and sometimes there's still a bit of OMG WHY DON'T YOU LOAD THE DISHWASHER CORRECTLY?! He spent hours and hours last week herding the boys (seriously, that's what it's like, just diverting them to one room and please LEAVE MOMMA ALONE FOR 7 MINUTES, I LOVE YOU) so that I could get things in line for the craft fair and work on getting things ready for my sweet nephew's arrival (it's a bit of prep to get myself and 2 kids ready for 5 days, 5 hours away from home). If I don't say it enough, Joseph, you amaze me and I'm the lucky one.

Anyway, sappiness aside. It's been a lot of preparation to get to this day, a lot of late nights, and long, quiet runs. But I'm ready (I think).

And if my 30th year of life has been this exciting, I can't wait to see what's in store.

Here goes nothing.