April 22, 2011


Last week, Trea and I celebrated our third anniversary in Maui! I have wanted to go to Hawaii my entire life, and it's something I never thought I'd get to do. We always go somewhere extra special on our anniversary, and we've spent the last two years in Puerto Rico. We ADORE Puerto Rico, but we decided to try something new this year and go a little bigger, since it was also my 30th birthday.

The first thing we learned is that Maui is far, far away from Arkansas, even by plane. When I booked our flights, I didn't care that the only seats left were in the back of the plane by the bathroom. But when I was actually on the plane, I cared. I cared a lot. For seven hours - overnight - in a middle seat. It was a rough trip. There were flight delays. There were times when we questioned the value of a "relaxing" vacation as we ran Home Alone-style through LAX to just barely make it on our third and final plane of the day.

There were lost bags. We arrived in Maui Friday night, and Trea didn't get his luggage until Sunday morning. We were not amused, United. There were entire days of lost sleep. That's right. By the time we rested our heads on our feather pillows at the Honua Kai Resort, I had been awake for well over 24 hours, which took a while to recover from. And when we returned home on an overnight flight, I was awake for 28 hours before I finally got a brief nap. Yes, Maui is far, far away, and middle seats are stupid.

BUT! Fun was had by all once we finally got there. We spent every morning sitting out on our lanai watching for whales. And we saw some too! We got to see them even more closely when we sailed to Lana'i for an all-day snorkeling trip.

It's a humpback whale tail!

We also saw dozens of spinner dolphins that swam and played by our boat!


We fell in love with beautiful Kapalua and Honolua Bay.

Kapalua hills overlooking Honolua Bay

Honolua Bay

We went to a luau on the beach at sunset.

We had pretty, pretty drinks with umbrellas.

We tried poi. It was gross. We tried shave ice, and became best friends with the good people at Ululani's Hawaiian Shave Ice. We almost filled up our frequent visitor punch card for a free one. There's a reason they're listed as the number one restaurant in Maui on TripAdvisor.

The day we went sailing, the views of the West Maui Mountains were unbelievable.

And there's just nothing like watching the sunset on the ocean.

We went snorkeling, and I only had a mild panic attack when we saw an eel. I had a full on panic attack when this guy swam directly at my face and showed no signs of backing off. I was certain it looked like a member of the piranha family.

On our last day, we drove to Hana and saw a 200-foot waterfall.

With all that excitement, we only found time to run once. We ran down the Ka'anapali Beach path and lasted about 2.5 miles before the humidity got to us. Sadly, that's about all the running I've done since the Bentonville Half Marathon - three weeks ago! I can definitely tell I've lost strength and endurance. It's time to put another race on the calendar and get back to training!

How do YOU get back into the swing of training after some race recovery time?

April 13, 2011

Three years

April 13 is my favorite day. That's the day I married my best friend.

We said, "I do," in a glass chapel on a hill in the woods on the last cold day in April, and it was perfect. I've never been more sure of any decision in my life, and I've never felt more at peace than at the moment I stepped into that church.

Trea, you are my family, my laughter, my joy and my hope. I love you more than words, and I couldn't be happier.

April 7, 2011


I turned 30 today. Wow, that's a weird sentence to read. This day has been an unofficial deadline in my mind for as long as I can remember. Deadline for what, I don't know.

Birthday celebrations started Tuesday when Trea threw a surprise party for me at Ruth's Chris. I don't think I've ever had a surprise party before, and it was such a fun night. There was kind of a "This is Your Life" vibe when I was greeted by my oldest friends from college, my newest friends from Twitter and coworkers from jobs present and past. I couldn't have asked for a better evening, and I really appreciate everyone who came to celebrate with me. You all made me so happy.

Today, I'm having a day of solitude and quiet reflection while I pack for our Maui vacation. While 30 is just another number and doesn't mean anything, I'm still surprised at how far away my memories have gotten. It seems like not long ago at all that this was my birthday party. I remember getting a basketball, my very own tape player (it was purple!!) and two new tapes: Paula Abdul and Belinda Carlisle. Man, I was proud of that radio. 

Has it really been 20 years since I floated the Buffalo River with Dad and Charley? It doesn't seem like it.

Was high school really more than a decade ago (and does anyone know why I thought it was a good idea to dress like Blossom)?

Today, I'm supposed to be a grown-up. I have a fantastic career, and I'm doing all the things I want to do. I have a happy home and a happy marriage, and I couldn't ask for anything more. I have been blessed beyond measure.

 But for some reason, I still feel like this kid.

April 4, 2011

Bentonville Half Marathon Recap

This weekend, I ran my first half marathon. It was a fantastic day and I lived to tell the tale! The days leading up to the race were unseasonably cold and rainy, so I spent a lot of days last week resting because it was too nasty to run. But the day of the race could not have been more perfect. Cool, sunny and just down right lovely.

At the race expo on Friday when I picked up my number, there were signs posted that said, "Due to the unprecedented number of registrants in the half marathon, if you finish higher (slower) than 800, your medal will be mailed to you within 3 weeks." Boy, oh boy, I had this medal on the brain and was SO worried about not getting one. I don't know why in the world it should even cross my mind. I'm SLOW. I'm not going to WIN. I'm doing this just to see if I can finish in the upright position and didn't even have a time goal. But for some reason, the idea of not getting a medal - that everyone receives - just made me crazy, and I wanted so bad to be in the top 800. (Spoiler alert! I got one!)

The night before the race, I was a nervous wreck. I had spent a considerable amount of time mulling over the perfect playlist, and of course, iTunes completely stopped cooperating when it was time to sync my iPod. So I stayed up way too late fiddling with the computer, then couldn't go to sleep, and tossed and turned until my alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. I had my usual long run breakfast of PB & J on whole wheat toast, but I was careful to only have half a cup of coffee and barely any water. I had been drinking like a camel for days and did not want to have to stop in the middle of the race for a port-o-potty nightmare. I never run early in the morning, so I was A) concerned about how my tummy would respond to early morning shaking around, and B) getting out of the house in a timely manner. Trea and I always run whenever we feel like it, so getting to the race on time was our first victory. 

We arrived in plenty of time to get our gear ready and warm up. I met up with my two favorite running Twitter pals, Lori and Jennifer, and we were a giggling mess of nervousness. I love these girls!

It was cold when the race started, so we brought throw-away clothes, and I looked like a yard sale with my 10-year-old brown hoodie and purple gloves. I think it was around 45 degrees or so, which is perfect for running in the warm sunshine!

There were A LOT of runners all squeezed in at the starting line, and we tried to position ourselves in the middle of the pack. We ditched our jackets before the gun went off but hung onto our gloves for a while. When the race started, everyone slowly started shuffling forward. It took us about 30 seconds to get from our spot to the official start mat after the gun. After only doing a super small, manually timed 5K, this was quite a change of scenery for us. I kept my music off for a while because I was entertained enough by the folks around us trying to find their pace in the crowd. I was so excited and wanted to take off and run a pace that felt good, but I kept a close eye on my Garmin and made myself not go faster than 11:30. I knew I had a long way to go and didn't want to make the mistake of bursting out at the start and fizzling at the end. It was SO hard to let people pass me and remind myself to run my own race - especially as Trea kept checking his Garmin and glancing back at me, seemingly annoyed at my slow pace. I know we were both wondering if 800 people were already in front of us.

At mile 1, there was a band playing some '90s favorites, a little "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and Foo Fighters. It was so much fun! Trea and I have been practicing running the course, and it was awesome to see people at the end of the driveways that had been so quiet and empty all these months. Kids and moms were in their PJ's cheering at the edge of their yards and urging us on. And there was a HOBY conference here this weekend so the HOBY kids came out to spectate the race!! I'm a former HOBY kid, so it was extra special to me to have them posted throughout the course, doing all the silly cheers I remember from high school.

I ran with a hydration belt even though I knew there would be water stops every 2 miles. It seemed that an unexpected number of runners had registered for the race and I was worried the water stops would be crazy and crowded. I ran through the first few and only relied on my own water because it seemed easier. But the crowd thinned out considerably after a while, and I came to love the ice cold water offered by happy volunteers and the few steps I got to walk while I drank so I wouldn't spill water all over myself.

I was amazed at how great I felt, but at mile 4, I could feel my energy dwindling, so I had a few caffeinated sport beans. After that, I had three beans every two miles, and it worked out perfectly to get me to the end. I didn't really get tired until mile 9, mostly because of the spectators. They were awesome! I wore a pink headband, pink shirt and pink calf sleeves, and I was so glad to hear strangers yelling, "Go Pink! You're doing great!" There weren't a ton of people along the course, but the folks who were out were full of energy! It was so fun to see kids cheering for their parents. I saw two little kids holding a sign that said, "Go Mom Go!" and she stopped to hug them and then they ran alongside her as long as they could keep up. It was so sweet. There was one husband and tiny curly haired boy who seemed to show up on the course every couple of miles to cheer on their wife/mom. At one point, the husband appeared and hollered, "I got McDonald's for you!" and was waving around a breakfast sandwich. Apparently, she needed a snack.

At mile 7, we had to run by a cemetery, and there was an official race sign that said "Plots Available," ya know, in case we couldn't go any farther. I've learned that races should be run with a camera because you never know what you'll see! There was also a Chevy Tahoe that appeared in two spots along the course BLARING, "Eye of the Tiger."

Miles 10 through 13 were on paved park trails rather than the road, and those were the WORST. I'm sure they would've been hard anyway, but running out in the middle of nowhere after all that entertainment was tough mentally. Our trails are beautiful, thank you very much City of Bentonville, but they don't follow any roads, so there were hardly any spectators along those miles. At mile 11, we had to run by the wastewater treatment plant, which, thankfully, wasn't too smelly that day. There was a sign nailed to a tree that said, "Lincoln Jr. High School Runners Don't Stink!"

At mile 12, I was miserable, and we were just about to climb our own little version of Heartbreak Hill on the Crystal Bridges trail. I've been practicing that hill on my shorter training runs, and I've barely conquered it after mile 3. I was not hopeful about running it after 12 miles. When I came to the steepest part, I decided to walk. When I saw how pitiful my running pace was at that spot, I knew walking wouldn't cost me that much time and I could conserve a little energy for the finish line. As I was trudging toward the top, I spotted a photographer capturing people on the climb up! I immediately put on my happy face and kicked up my feet and ran! By then, I was at 12.5 and almost to the finish! There was a spectator dressed like the grim reaper holding a sign that said, "Run! For the end is near!" So I did.

I ran and ran as much as I could. I just kept looking at my watch and telling myself I was almost there. Some folks from work had said they might come out and see me, so I was anxious about having some kick left at the end so I could run strong across the finish line. All this time, Trea was still sticking with me, and I was so glad to not be by myself. When we came down the final stretch, I spotted my best friends, Laura and Michael, who had come out to cheer us on and take pictures. Laura was trying to get her camera ready, and for some reason, seeing familiar faces made me run faster. Trea was punching me and telling me to slow down and pose. But I waved like an idiot with both hands and ran by them as fast as I could! And then I saw my VP from work and waved like an idiot to him. And then I saw sweet Kelly taking pictures with her phone and waved like an idiot to her without even attempting to slow down for a good shot. She barely got us. And yes, I will be purchasing some longer shorts.

I crossed the finish line in 2:34, which is about 10 minutes faster than I estimated. Someone told me to turn in my chip, so I bent over and huffed and puffed while a kind volunteer cut the chip off my shoe. Then I spotted Jennifer, who was screaming my name and saying, "Good job!" And I saw the medal hanging around her neck and yelled, "You got a MEDAL!!" And she yelled, "Yeah! You got one too! Look!" And then I realized I wasn't done yet and there was another volunteer holding a medal out for me. Meanwhile, Laura was waving from the other side for me to look at her camera, which I'm pretty sure I didn't do. Running makes me delirious and socially awkward.

I got a medal. I finished. I was greeted by my favorite people at the end of a very tough, but happy morning. Kelly brought me a huge bouquet of beautiful flowers. It was the perfect race, and I know that I did my best. I had no leg cramps, no side stitches, and I didn't hit a wall and quit. The sun was warm but not too much, and the wind was just breezy enough to keep me cool. It was a perfect day, and I couldn't be happier about it.

I was so proud that I came in under 2:40!

And I immediately rewarded myself with a 780-calorie banana pudding shake from Chik-Fil-A. It was my first, and it will be my last. But it was delicious!

It was worth every single calorie, and I'm still pleased as punch with our fabulous first race experience. Since then, I've done nothing but ice, rest and relax. I got a well-deserved massage and am taking it easy until after my birthday vacation next week. Also, I learned that volunteers and spectators are SO important to running a good race. I hope to run more races, but I'm also going to choose some events to spectate, whether I know anyone or not. Every runner needs a boost, so I'm going to test my sign making abilities and go do some cheering!


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