Sunday, January 31, 2010

Piney Woods 10 Miler and Then Some

Yesterday was the Inaugural Race of the Piney Woods 10 Mile and 5K Trail Run.  It was held in the beautiful Lake Houston Wilderness Park.  I was not aware of this park's existence before this race but I am so glad to have finally been introduced to it.  It is a wonderful little gem in the Montgomery County area and will be a place I return to.

How I came to run this race was quite by accident.   With Alicia's baby being due any moment, I resigned myself to not commit to any races after the Texas Trail Run and until March.  Another wonderful race,  The Bill Crews Remission Run, was also held yesterday and I would love to have run that or even volunteered, but knowing that I would most probably be enjoying my first grandbaby, I erred on the side of caution and did not register.  

One night, in the midst of a "pre-Christmas" bout of insomnia, I received an email about a new race coming to the area.  The fact that it was a trail run caught my eye instantly, and thinking that the race was on January 3, 2010, I registered.   As soon as I received my confirmation email, I smacked myself in the head realizing that it was not the 3rd rather, it was the 30th!  Have I ever mentioned that I am stubborn about wearing my glasses?  In fact, as I struggle to type this, backspacing, erasing, re-doing the typing errors, my glasses sit upon my bedside table and I refuse to go get them...ok...I give.  I will go get them. 

Much better.  As the date approached for the race, my house has endured the pleasures of a nasty stomach flu which hit every member of the house until we were all down.  As soon as we came through the worst of it, Boo showed signs of yet another illness.  We had been battling sickness for 3 weeks straight.   Two days before the race, I began showing the signs of a nasty head cold and proceeded to pout like a baby.  A big baby.  And speaking of baby, on Friday, the day before the race, my pouting was interrupted by a call from my daughter with symptoms that anyone would have been convinced were signs of labor.  

She headed to the hospital and I threw back some God-awful over-the-counter cold medicines trying to mask the fact that I was sick.  I packed my bags and began to make the three hour trek to Temple, where she resides.  As Lem and I were making our way through the traffic of I-45, we made all the appropriate phone calls to families and friends and canceled all of our weekend plans.  As soon as the last phone call was made, Alicia called to say that the hospital was sending her home.  It was too soon.   So Lem and I turned around and headed back home fully expecting to get a call any moment to head back out.  

All night I waited.  Nothing.  I couldn't sleep one bit thinking that if I did fall asleep, I would never hear the phone.  As well, that cold medicine I had taken earlier was now keeping me wide awake.  So what does any sane person do while awaiting a phone call from their daughter who is about to have a baby, well they pack their bag and head to the race that they accidentally signed up for...that's what they do!

I arrived at Lake Houston Wilderness Park early enough to pick up my packet and move around the trails a bit to see what this place was all about.  Despite being very cold, 34 degrees, it was a great morning for a run.  

I have my little pre-race rituals that I go through.  One of the things that I do is use my inhaler 30 minutes before every run.  Exercise-induced asthma is no fun and in cold air, it's really bothersome.  As I attempted to administer the dosage, I realized that the inhaler was not working.  I tried unclogging it, but then discovered that the canister was empty!  Normally this would not be a problem because I always carry TWO inhalers with me.  Well, wouldn't you know, the bag I packed for the baby trip is the bag I placed my extra inhaler in.  Ugh.  The prospect of running in 34 degrees for 10 miles knowing that I would be battling the asthma demons was not appealing to me at all.  And then, a bright a shiny couple of faces meandered past my car.  Ed, Trudy, and Andy were there to run too!  I got out to say hello and decided that I would run even if it meant I walked most of the time.

As I made way to the start line, I noticed a woman using an inhaler.  I can't believe I did this, but I asked her for a puff or two!  She was more than happy to share with me, but I soon realized that my fear of putting her inhaler in my mouth, the fact that I was sick and didn't want to share it with her, made me only take one puff of medicine which ended up mostly in the air because I did not seal my mouth around the inhaler.  

I ventured forward to the start where all of the smart folks were standing around the bonfire!  I ran into Bill 
and Andrea and their beautiful family.  I also ran into Evan which was nice because I had not seen him in quite some time!  It was then that I realized I had forgotten my Garmin in the car.  Normally, I would not have cared, but facing the prospect of having an all out asthma attack on the trail, I really felt like I needed the gps to help me pace myself and be aware of where I was mileage wise.  I ran back to the car to grab it and made it just in time for the start.

Trudy and I decided to run this thing together.  She had also been ill with a head cold, so it was a perfect match.   Within just a few minutes, we discovered just how muddy this run was going to be.  We were ankle deep in mud for what seemed like miles.  While the resistance of the mud made running more challenging, it is also what makes this kind of adventure so much fun!  Slipping, sliding, swimming.  A total trail running blast!

Trudy did take a pretty good fall, but she is a tough girl and just got right back to it.  I saw Bill for a brief bit out there and he looked so strong.  He ended up having a great race and he is going to do very well at his first 50 miler next weekend!  

From about mile 6 - 8 our pace was quite slow between breathing issues and mud issues.  We had to venture off trail quite a bit to find solid ground to cross over.  At about mile 8.5 or so, I decided that the extra effort to stay on dry, solid ground was not worth the expense of energy and just started slogging through the mud and deep puddles.  It was fantastic!  What better way to forget about the cares of life than to get outside, get muddy, and run with a friend!

We were both pretty exhausted by the time we crossed the finish line with a time of  2:01.  Not a pretty time, but worth every second out there.  We weren't out there for a PR or to win any medals, unless they were giving them out for being the most muddy.  We had a great time and I would do it again in a heartbeat!  To sum this race up, I would say it was one of the very best times I have ever had racing!  Second in difficulty only to Hell's Hills when Tiffany and I ran an 11 mile loop in 3 hours amidst a torrential flood and lightening storm!

Andy ran his first trail run with a time of 1:33, I believe.  Amazing!  Trudy and Ed took 3rd in their AG which was well deserved.   Bill Gardner did a wonderful job of putting this race together.  He took great care of everyone and of course none of these races could ever work if it weren't for the volunteers.  Their level of dedication never ceases to amaze me.  

As I returned home, the cares of the day returned, most pressing, "IS MY GRANDBABY COMING YET?!"  She has decided to wait a bit longer.  Perfection takes time you know...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Daybook for Thursday, January 14, 2010


                                FOR TODAY... from K's Daybook

Outside my window... it's night time, the ground is wet from the day's rain and it's chilly.

I am thinking... I wish my husband felt better.

I am thankful for... feeling better myself.

I am pants, slippers and a nice comfy sweater

I am remembering... seeing Alicia and Ryan this week and realizing that the next time I see them, they will be parents and I will be a Nana!

I am going... do a bit more reading and get to sleep.

I am currently reading... A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I am hoping... I can have the discipline to achieve my goals for 2010

On my mind... My girls away from home.

Noticing that...Chocolate really does make me feel better.

Pondering these words...Love God, Family First, Tell the Truth, Be Kind, Work Hard.

From the kitchen...Made Vegan Lugaw today.  Seemed to be well-liked by those who could eat.

Around the house... rest, recover, ginger ale, and laundry.

One of my favorite things...snuggling with my kids

     From my picture journal... the joy of childhood!

                                   Modeled after The Simple Woman's Daybook

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Felix Sit Annus Novus!

As we sit in the midst of the Christmas season, lingering yet still in the year 2009, we begin a new year with a hopeful gaze to the future mindful that without the past, we would not be where we are today. 

I hope to write a post about Christmas around here this year, but felt the need to get some of these thoughts down today.

I was sharing with a friend yesterday how the season of Advent is more than preparation time for Christmas, which in and of itself is a truly wonderful time, but for me it is also as time of reflection of the past year and a look towards the new year. 

I learned so much about myself in 2009; more than I can put into words as I still attempt to incorporate the nuances of what I've gleaned from deep reflection into my daily life.  I do know that several more layers of "my onion" have been peeled away and at times this was quite painful, quite uncomfortable, and even quite frightening.  There were many more scenes of joy, peace, and love which help to balance it all out.

I used the 40 days before Christmas to work out the direction I hope to head in 2010.  I have stopped calling these things "resolutions" as I tend to fail miserably whenever I make them.  Instead, I have set goals.  Personal, family, and professional.  I won't go through each of my goals individually, but I will share how I break them down.

One thing I will share is something that I had read in a magazine in the last few weeks.  Kirk Cameron and his wife Chelsea have 5 family tenents which they follow. (While I may not agree with all of his religious views, I do believe that he is truly a Godly man and is committed to uphold the sanctity of life and the values of marriage and family.)   It so closely resembles what we strive for in our family that I thought we would perhaps adopt these five family values as well.

They are:
Love God
Family First
Tell the Truth
Be Kind
Work Hard

I find these to be so simple, yet so difficult.  But that is me in a nutshell, making everything more difficult than it needs to be.

Along with the family goal, I address 4 personal areas of my own life; Spiritual, Physical, Intelluctual, and Emotional (relationships).  Under each of these areas, I set a goal to achieve with smaller goals to help me to reach them.  I write them each down and to these also address a goal or two for our schooling and our financial picture.  About every three months, I look over my goals, make my adjustments, and continue to press on to meet them.

I have learned from past years that I need to keep my goals small enough to be reasonable, yet large enough to find it a challenge and to work towards becoming that better version of myself that He calls me to become.

Throughout the whole process of determining what to work on in the coming year, I find that I can get pretty down on myself.  I have learned that while this is not a fun process, sometimes it is necessary to "feel" the emotion of it all so that it motivates me to move. 

My hope for each of the people that have touched my life, in whatever capacity, is that you are able to spend a bit of time during the 12 days of Christmas reflecting on whatever drives you to get out of bed each day, and find a way to encounter it on an even more personal level that leaves you in a better place.

Merry Christmas and A Very Happy New Year!