October 23

Hello and welcome back!  I have so much to share with you today!  The family went on an epic trip last weekend and did all kinds of cool things, including running a marathon, visiting with friends and family, and a trip to the zoo – so let’s get started!

First, we finished up soccer before we left.  Have I mentioned how poorly organized it was this year?!  I’m pretty sure I have…  they decided to do play-offs and a championship game for the first time ever, and since we knew how lucky we were to have an incredibly talented team, we were not surprised when we made it to the championship game.  The surprise came, however, when we realized that the schedule put out for that game (given to us the week prior because, you know, who would ever want to be prepared?!), meant that we’d be delaying our trip until after that championship game.  We were planning to depart right after school on Thursday, but because of the game needed to stay until after it was played.  Lucky for us, it went into TWO overtimes and lasted even longer!  😉

We were very proud of our 8-9 year old Black Widows who pulled out the win with a defensive shot on goal.  Good job, team!  And good job, coach (Jim)!  What a game and a season!

The kids were excited to actually get real trophies, not just participation trophies.  Good job!

So then we were off (finally) around 7:30 pm.  We made great time (thanks in part to the new higher speed limits) and only nearly hit 2 deer.  We stopped in Marquette at Queen City Running to pick up some old, donated shoes to bring with us to the Expo (more on that later), and found ourselves rolling into St. Ignace around 12:15 am.  A quick night’s sleep and we were off by 8:00, heading to metro Detroit to meet Rick and Ilana for lunch.  The trees were so pretty along the way!

And guess where we got to eat!?!  A great sushi place!  They were so kind, accommodating (even had gluten-free soy sauce) and gave us a ton of food.  Sooooo good!

Working on our chopsticks skills.  And, by the way, Lewis had no problems polishing all of that off himself:

And then it was on to the Expo to pick up our bibs and free treats.  The kids and I were enthralled with all the big buildings around downtown Detroit.  So while Jim was digging all the donated shoes out of the car, I had them pose in front of the nearest one.  It turns out, that is the old Free Press building!  Why is that cool?  Because they sponsor the marathon every year, so it was a neat connection 🙂

We had to park a few blocks away in a lot instead of driving into the Cobo Hall parking ramp because we had the rocket box on the car.  That’ll get us every time!  So the four adults all carried giant garbage bags filled with old shoes through the streets of Detroit.  We must have looked ridiculous!  Oh well – it was fun!  When we got to the exhibition, Rick commandeered this cool garbage dumpster for us all to put our bags in and Jim wheeled it around.  Thrilling!

We were glad to be able to donate so many pairs of shoes to those in need.  I hope they weren’t too smelly!

After picking up all of our needed race items, it was time to head over to our dear friends, Jess and Connie’s house.  We haven’t seen them since their wedding two Julys ago!  !  AND, they’ve had another baby since then, so this visit was looooong overdue.  I couldn’t wait to meet little (big) Oliver, and he definitely did not disappoint!  What a SWEETHEART! I quickly fell in love with this little man:

And it was wonderful to see their older son, August, too.  He’s so different from the last time we hung out.  Auggie is so funny, fun, crazy, talkative, bright, and a little ball of energy.  We had a blast!  On Saturday, I got the good camera out and took some pics of the families just hanging in the basement playing.  So fun!

Cat made me this great sculpture of me.  See the resemblance? 🙂

Lewis was very into ping-pong:

Ollie can pull himself up already!  He’ll be the big O-N-E next month:

And Momma Connie loves to wrestle and tickle August:

But she takes her ping-pong very seriously, too:

The neighborhood had a Halloween parade for the all the kids to participate in on Saturday afternoon, so everyone got all dressed up and we headed down the streets.  First I took some photos of the kids in the house.  Here is Amazing Art Girl:

And Superman:

Scary guy Lewis:

August tried (and succeeded!) so hard not to be afraid:

And The Flash!

The four of them together:

Ollie wasn’t so sure about Lewis’ costume:

Nope.  Too scary.  That’s okay, Ollie!  I agree!Then we headed out for the parade:

It was fun, but rainy, and my back hurt a bit, so I begged off early and headed back home to take in some football before turning in early for the race.  Jim and I had to get up around 4:30 on Sunday morning to make it downtown for the 7:00 start.  We were met with a nice surprise when we headed out the door in the morning.  So sweet!

It was still very dark when we arrived.  I tried to get a photo of the new Little Caesars Arena when we drove by.  It didn’t work too well, but it’s okay.  The building is really interesting.  It looks more like a new shopping mall that they tried to make look like a village, than an arena:

I took this cool shot of the moon from our parking lot:

And we set the phone up for a pre-race photo.  Sorry it cut off your head, Rick.  I suppose now might be a good time to tell you all why we were doing the marathon in the first place.  Last May/June, I was speaking with Ilana on the phone when she told me that she and Rick set the goal of running Detroit so they would be motivated to get themselves back in shape.  At the time, neither of them were really running any real miles, and they thought this would help.  Ilana had just finished up a 3 mile run and was telling me how tough it was.  I’ll be honest – I was worried about them.  They had such a long way to go in such a short amount of time!  Anyway, it made me think that maybe it was about time for me to consider running another marathon, too, and it just so happened that I was already signed up for a half marathon for mid-June and I thought I would use that race to decide if I should go for it or not.  That race turned out to be the worst race of my life.  It was simply awful.  I figured that sealed the deal – no marathon for me.

Then came July and my yearly check-up with my doctor.  We found out that my thyroid is enlarged and that my numbers are further off than they were before (we had been watching it as they were only slightly out of whack).  So I started on thyroid medication and was surprised to feel a notable difference within two weeks.  That little voice in my head which kept telling me to quit and give up- just walk, it said- disappeared.  And before I knew it, I was feeling like I could do things again.  I felt stronger and suddenly just knew that I could do it.  So I talked Jim into running a 16 miler with me for fun one day in late July, and that was it.  We knew we were hooked and would finish out the summer running crazy amounts of miles.

I was telling everyone the week before the race that I didn’t care if I hit my time goal or not (trying to break that 4 hour mark) because I just feel so good now, I don’t care.  I’m proud of myself for even attempting another long race like this, and honestly didn’t really care if I made the time goal.  I finally feel strong, both mentally and physically, and aside from my left foot hurting, my body didn’t even really feel like I had any wear and tear on it.  I seriously felt better before this marathon (at age 37 !) than either of the two other marathons I have run.  And so did Jim – we were both feeling great!  And then we watched the weather…

Not great.  And this photo was actually taken a couple of days before.  On the morning of, the start temp was 71 with crazy humidity.  We received an email the night before the race warning us that any lightning within 7 miles of the course, and the whole thing would be canceled.  “Let’s just hope they cancel it at mile 5 and not mile 25,” I told Jim.  Nothing like a little weather stress to make the whole thing more fun…

It turns out that there was no lightning.  There wasn’t even rain, actually.  There was, however, heat and humidity, and I knew at the half way point that there was no way I’d be able to keep up my pace to hit the 4:00 time limit.  I was drenched in sweat (so much so that my shorts were falling down as I ran because they were so heavy, and I was pouring water on my head to cool off which I have never succumbed to in a race before) and my ears were pounding with every step (the feeling I get when I’m dehydrated).  So, I made the decision to take it easy the rest of the way and not kill myself.  I’m glad I did.  I know after the fact that I was right – there was no way I was going to be able to keep up that pace, and I wasn’t too sore at the end.  In fact, I felt so good the next day I’m almost certain that this should be the tactic for any marathon here on out – just do it for fun!  So here are some pics I’ve stolen from the website.  You can see Ilana right behind me in this first one.  We ran together until just after the tunnel (which was a sauna, by the way).  We both put in a good effort!

I must have seen the camera person at this point because I’m smiling.  I know I wasn’t smiling for anything else.  After about mile 14, the wind picked up like crazy.  Some newspaper articles (click here) reported that there were gusts up to 40 miles per hour.  I don’t think they were that high while I was out there, but even 20 mph is too much.  Running over and around Belle Isle was hell.  So windy! 

See the wind in my hair in this one?!

Here are my race results.  Man I really crashed the second half.  It took my pace all the way from the low 9:00s to the high 9:00s.  Boo!

I got this sweet note from Rich after the race.  I haven’t checked his math, but I like it and hope it’s right!  It made me feel a little better 🙂

Even though I say I’m fine with running slower, a true competitor never is okay with settling.  No big deal, though, there’s always next time!  Jim had a race very similar to mine.  In fact, he missed his time goal by 17 minutes, as well.  But look at his awesome stats anyway!

One of these days he’ll qualify for Boston 🙂  Here’s a collage I put together after the race of some photos of the two of us.  The marathon was on the same day as our 12th wedding anniversary!  Happy Anniversary, Jim!  Thanks for running all those miles with me!!!

Curious about what the kids were up to while we were running all that time?  They were busy having a blast with their aunts:

Lucky bums.  That night Jim and I celebrated with a little champagne 🙂

We headed to bed a bit early, but were up at a normal time and actually felt pretty great!  Not too sore at all and were ready to take on the day.  First a little computer time with August:

And then the whole group piled into one car and headed out to the zoo!First we saw the penguins:

We love the penguins!

The three older kids got together.  Love it!

We went in the reptile house.  Here’s a cool lizard:

Ollie liked the glass:

A cool tail:

Oliver loves his Momma!

Checking out the fake Halloween rats:

Cool tortoise:

Hello there:

The camels were interesting.  This baby was born last July and we had fun watching her run around and try to cause trouble.  She liked to chase the deer:

Hello there:

Checking out the flamingos:

The gorilla didn’t want anything to do with us:

As funny as it sounds, this little vole was the most interesting thing to the kids.  He was just running around on the sidewalk:

We went in to see the chimps and they made us very depressed.  They don’t belong there 🙁

I went out early to take some photos of Ollie.  Such a sweetheart!

Hello there!

Cool rhino:

We actually saw one of the two wolves that day.  One never sees the wolves at the Detroit zoo.  And she was so pretty!

Hello there!

There’s this funny exhibit where the kids can pop their heads up in glass windows and pretend to be like the prairie dogs.  I just chuckled over and over – it felt like a game of whack-a-mole to me:

A pretty guy:

And then we saw this guy on the way out.  The volunteer told us he is a red panda, but when I looked it up, this creature looks nothing like a red panda.  Perhaps he is very sick.  Sad!

I was glad to have been able to snap this pic of our host family.  We love them so much!!

One last pic from the zoo.  It was so nice to be out in the sunshine!

We have to shout out big thank-yous to both Jess and Connie, and Rick and Ilana.  We had so much fun with all of you last weekend.  We made memories to last a lifetime!  Thanks for the motivation and for all the good times!

We were sad to head for home on Tuesday, but were glad the weather was nice again and we got to take in more beautiful leaf scenery.  What a nice time to be driving the roads of Michigan!  And just over the bridge, we saw a sign for Tahquamenon Falls, and thought, why not?!  We never do anything spontaneous anymore and we could use some walking on our car legs.

So we did it!  Here are the kids posing:

It was such a beautiful day!

Even when we couldn’t see the falls, the trails were gorgeous, too!

Some cool swirls in the water from the foam:

We set up a timer.  Apparently I didn’t get the memo to wear red that day…

Thanks to Cat for this pic of the two sweethearts 🙂

So much water!

Mine.  Love!

Almost done… At running group on Wednesday we headed over for hill repeats up Mont Ripley.  It was such a nice day out!

We’ve had some unseasonably warm weather.  But have no fear- it’s supposed to snow on Saturday.

And here’s a pic from Friday on the Houghton side of the canal, shooting the ski hill:

And, finally, one last pic I took this morning.  Charlie and I went out for a light ten miler.  I had to stop and take this pic of the leaves mostly on the ground and not on the trees anymore.  They are still pretty even when they are down!

Thanks for reading!  I know it was long!!  Way to hang in there!  😉

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