Friday, August 26, 2011

Howl at the Moon

I have very good reason for waiting "so long" to update you all about my 8 hour ultra. Am I going to tell you That is for another post. Here I am though, I actually skipped going to the high school open house so I could be home this evening. Free evenings with "nothing" to do are a rare happening so I decided to go for it. High school will carry on and I am still a good parent : )

As I mentioned in a previous post I traveled alone to my race. I was the only one from my area crazy courageous enough to tackle this feat. Which is fine, cause, if it ain't your thing....we don't want you there anyway. However I was not alone at all once I got there. My wonderful hometown of Muscatine, IA has a running group that is top notch. Since I race there often and proudly claim them they include me in their group even though I haven't lived there for *gasp* 17 years. In the past there has been a large group of them to travel & participate in Howl. This year there was only a few of them. We all still banded together & represented the club well. They did a great job of helping & taking care of me, the "baby" of the group.

I got set up right away with my camp. I had to borrow a tent (thank you Kathryn & Julia) since I don't own one. In fact, I had not slept in a tent since my Army basic training/AIT days. I tried to once, back in '97, while on a camping trip with the youth group. But the frogs were SO LOUD, I could not sleep at all & ended up sleeping in our van. I am happy to report that I survived this night just fine. There wasn't a frog in earshot : ) Aside from a little trouble getting to sleep I slept like a baby.

Then we lounged around camp, enjoying each others company.  Forgive the Packer's wasn't mine.

Baby Howl: the night before the big race, they allow participants & really anyone to go out & complete 1 loop of the course. It's just for fun. You can walk or run. They have a finishers prize for everyone. I actually ran, well....lightly jogged my loop. Only because I wanted to calibrate my ipod to my pace. Everyone else walked. We had fun and wished we could have counted that loop to our final mileage the next day.

Then we mosey-ed on into town for supper. We found a Monicals. None of us had ever eaten there before, but it looked pasta-ish so we decided to try it out. I ordered the ravioli and had quite the celestial out of body experience because that was the BEST ravioli that I had EVER HAD!!!! No lie. The white cheese filling, the mozzarella & cheddar cheese melted on top and with BAAAACON and tomatoes! It's no secret that I love food, but man, eating that was a whole new experience. It was sort of like, excuse me while ravioli & I have a private moment here. I'm drooling now just thinking about it.

After a good nights sleep we were all up at the crack of dawn to get ready for our 7 a.m. start. Here I am bright eyed & bushy tailed, ready to go.

Fast forward 8 hours & here I am at the finish. Even I scratch my head a little at the realization that I am always smiling....doesn't matter if I'm getting ready to start or just finished a grueling 8 hours. If I'm in that running mind set, I'm smiling. Further proof, that running just makes me happy. Not that any of you question or doubt that.

My race started out slow. To go back & correct myself from a previous post, each loop is 3.29 miles. I felt sluggish my first 2 loops. Starting slow (by that I mean a 9 min. pace) is not a bad thing, especially when you have 8 hours to go. I was still finishing my loops in under 30 minutes so I wasn't complaining too much.

Goals: So I have different stages/levels of goals that I keep in mind. Yes, this is one of those things that I think about during 8 hours of running. There is my perfect goal: that I finish all of my laps in under 30 minutes. That would be flippin' awesome. That would mean I would complete 16 laps and 52.64 miles. That would match the course record. Yes, I reason with myself I CAN DO THAT!

The thing about goals is that they change. Quite honestly because I mentally make most of them, no one knows if I'm going to reach them or not. It's just a personal accountability thing. Or a big fat dream. Hey, nothing wrong with dreaming. I wrote a poem years ago about dreams. I should go look that up. My goal eventually changed through out the day from breaking the course record, to finishing at least 40 miles (my original stated goal), to at least finishing more miles than I had last year. I knew at the very least I could reach that bottom goal. For now though I was fixated on goal #1.

On laps 3 & 4 I really got my groove on. I was sailing along and moved my pace up to a solid 8 minute mile. I even grabbed an apple and happily munched while I headed out with such liveliness. I was at this point, ahead of where I was wanting to be. When I passed by the start/finish I saw the big clock that showed a count down of the 8 hours. I was not only under my 30 minute per lap goal, but I had an extra 15 - 20 minutes to spare. By this point I had roughly finished a half marathon distance. I know that I can handle that distance on any given day with my current general fitness level. Just walk out the door and run, no problem.

PUBLIC ENEMY #1: the heat. By this point and as I headed into laps 5 & 6, some things were beginning to wear on me. I began to feel my pace slow back down to the 9 then eventually 10 minute pace. First off, which I think was the bigger of the two factors, was the heat. Although it really wasn't too terribly hot. The temps hovered at 83 degrees. The sun though was out full strength. There was very little to no shade out on the course. This effected me a lot because I do almost all of my training/running in the predawn hours. I had a lot of hot, extremely muggy temps that I ran in this summer, but not much of it was in the sunlight. I was well aware that my core body temperature was up and I was in essence overheating. This is a key factor where running can turn dangerous. I was extremely proactive though and took in a boat load of fluids. I took full advantage of the aid station half way through the loop and always stopped at camp each time around.

I don't think I stopped for any more than 5 minutes during the whole 8 hours. Those stops were always at base camp. I grabbed chunks of ice and shoved it down my shirt, front & back. Another chunk to rub along my face and suck on while I headed back out again. I drank a lot of ice cold Gatorade and water. It was so cold that I could instantly, but only temporarily, feel my body temperature plummet back down. That always brought on a massive brain freeze. It was worth it though.

Heading out into lap 7 I was really hurting for some relief. Yet, I continued to push on. This got me thinking about why else I was struggling. That would be my lack of training miles. I already touched base on this in a previous post. Yes I ran a half and full marathon this past spring. Yet, as of the end of April when I ran that marathon, I had not run any more than 9 miles up until Howl. You don't have to be a running genius to know that is not enough training miles for what I was wanting to accomplish. I am fully aware that my natural running talent can only take me so far. So it was beginning to all crumble around me. I wasn't too far into lap 7 when I realized that I was not even really "running" but shuffling along in a bit of a daze. My body was screaming for relief. I initially tried to push along, but realized I was making it worse. I came to a complete stop then made a bargain with myself. Walk this lap, get back to base, fuel up really good, take in a dose of ibuprofen and then head back out. So that it was I did.

It took me almost an hour to finish that loop. My pride was hurting a little, I had a lot of mini mental battles going on within me. But I knew that is what I had to do. I tried to just enjoy the moment. I sang out loud, I encouraged other runners, I smiled at each person that I passed. Really, if I can't enjoy it, even the dark, down, hellish side of it all then I should pack up & just go home. Once I got back to base I took a mucho grande dose of ibuprofen (1000 mg) and took extra time to refuel & rehydrate. So I guess, I have to retract my previous statement of 5 minutes, I probably took 15 at this stop. I was determined to push on.

Laps 8 - 11 went much better. Much to the credit of my little bff ibuprofen. I was still fighting the heat effect on my body. Yet I ran each of those loops, but at a much slower pace. By now I was settled down into a 12 minute pace. Normally, for me, that is a painfully slow make my skin crawl pace. Yet at the time I felt like I was chuggin along at a good pace. It literally was the best my body could put out at the time.

Mantra: By now I was deep into the mental aspect of doing what I do. I was beyond just running and not thinking about it. My body was on auto pilot, but my mind was digging deep and thinking everything imaginable in terms of my running. A few things kept me going. If pain is weakness leaving the body....I have A LOT of weakness. I was, in fact, in a lot of pain. My body hurt in so many different ways and was SCREAMING for relief. Yet, I refused to give in to the notion of just stopping. I didn't even entertain the thought. At my pit stops I never sat down. Oh no, big no - no. I was literally on my feet those whole 8 hours.

I know you all think I am some superstar, immortal running goddess. (what?!??! you don't). Ok, so let me rephrase, I know many of you stand in awe of what I do. It may come from just not understanding my stupidity passion about running. It may come from having a deep respect for me and what I accomplish...doesn't matter if I run 3 miles or 300. I have my people that I stand in awe of, that are really just everyday humans. I've come down a long hard road to understand that I am that to some of you....even though I'm just an everyday human. I'm not even #1 yet some of you help me feel like I'm of Olympic quality. THIS is what helps move me and push me through my long hard miles.

I also thought on my family, my children. You know, I've labored and done much harder grueling work giving birth than running for 8 hours. If I can push out & give birth to 6 babies naturally, by golly I can certainly complete this race. I had a few mental moments were I had to slap myself silly and straighten myself to get back on track and keep pushing on through the miles.

After lap 11 there was roughly 30 minutes left. At that point they open up the out & back course. It's a little 1/2 mile loop that you can run as many times as you want. They give you a little straw or Popsicle stick to mark for each loop you complete. I really....REALLY wanted to quit at this point. I had at least reached that bottom goal. Yet that was still not enough and I knew that if I did not leave without giving 110% then I would forever regret this day at that moment. (There is a deeper psychological issue here that explains why I am this way, will have to save that for anther post). So I pushed on and ran until I had no more time left and I felt like I could not take another step.  I had finished 38.19 miles for this year's Howl at the Moon.

That is when you know you have had a good run/race. If you finish without an ounce left in doesn't matter how far or how fast/slow you ran or if you were first or last. You ran your BEST for that day and that time and that MAKES YOU A WINNER!

Once I got back to camp I was literally ready to collapse.  My body temp was still soaring.  Having used every ounce of energy I felt weak, light headed & ready to pass out.  Yet mentally I was all psyched out, smiling & laughing with the group.  I finally felt I deserved to sit & relax a little bit.  Forgive my un-lady likeness in the picture.  I should have crossed my legs & tried to look dainty & feminine.  Really though just trying to not pass out was taking all my energy.

We finally got showered, ate some fried chicken & fixings and enjoyed the award ceremony. At Howl at the Moon it's all about your personal goal and what YOU accomplished for the day. Yes, they figure out & announce who accomplished what, but they also do a great job at making sure everyone is a winner.  I got a medal for reaching my goal.  When you sign up for the race  you  have to put down a race goal.  You could be a real smart alec and put 1 mile and it would guarantee you to be a winner in that area.  I had put 40 and so in that aspect I didn't reach my goal.  When the race director announced it he said "if you ran as many miles as you put down or if you got close or HECK IF YOU RAN YOUR HEART OUT come get a medal!"  So I did.  I also placed 3 in my division of Open Female (age 40 & under).

I knew from last year that there was ANOTHER Carmin Peterson (note she does spell her name with an "i" where mine is a "e", but it's said the same). So we found each other and had our picture taken. Her boyfriend joked that "great, if one Carmen Peterson isn't enough....there is TWO!"

I went back to camp and with the great help of my Muscatine Running Friends we got all of my stuff packed up into my car.  Just in the nick of time.  A storm was rolling in.  Literally as I pulled out the first few drops of rain began to come down and within a few minutes a big storm came rolling through.  They took this picture about 5 minutes after I had left. 

Thank for bearing with me in this rather lenghty report on Howl at the Moon. I try to keep my words to a minimum when I post. This was just so big though I had to get it all written down.  Even as I re-read through this before hitting post I can think of several things I meant to tell you about.  I will just have to save it for future posts.  A lot of this all flows out into my running in general so I can always tell you about it another day. Personally, if a single person doesn't read it, then at least I have it here for me. I will leave you with some words of wisdom from the officials at the Howl at the Moon.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Howl at the President

I know you are all waiting on pins & needles for my update on Howl at the Moon.  If you are on my facebook then you already know my general results.  I do have it in mind though to give you a complete update.  Mostly because there are just never enough words in my day so I must tell you all about it : )

I have good reason to stop the presses, so to speak, and interrupt with this unannounced broadcast.

My daughter, Angel & I, met and shook hands with THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!

Really, it was just your average day.  I had taken Angel to Gadet practice and stopped at the stop light right in front of the highschool.  A processional began to pass in front of us and my first reaction to Angel was "there must be a funeral passing through".  The more I looked, the more I realized this was not your usual processional.  I quickly changed my thoughts and was scanning my brain as to what was going on in our area today.  Oh yes, President Obama was scheduled to be in our area.  But not at our high school.  So I was stumped.  Was this the President or not?  Once the group had passed I dropped off Angel then put the van in park to walk over & see what was going on.

I passed a friend and she confirmed that yes, it was the President.  I almost left.  I mean, I was suppose to go pick up Mandy & Nina from cross country practice.  Even if this was the President it's not like I'm going to actually see him.  It was said he was there to visit the football team.  Yet, I had this gut feeling to park the van and walk over to see what I could find out anyway.  I joined my friend, we were only allowed to go so far into the parking lot.  We saw the President get off the bus and taken to the field where the boys were practicing.  Soon the high school principal & district superintendent joined us.  Soon the secret service man closest to us approached and pointed us to another area.  He told us to go by that group of people, that they were now letting walk up to the field, and talk to that agent and the he MIGHT let us through.  So we take off, I walked a little ahead of the group....I was nervous, excited & giddy.  As I approached the agent I could see him on guard, everyone else was behind a certain area, yet here was a group of people approaching from a closed off area.  I made sure my hands were out of my pockets & approached him with a smile.  I knew I had a split second to make or break this situation.  I told him (as in statement, not question form) "The secret service guy told us to come over & have you wand us & let us through".  I was not giving this man the option to maybe let us in.  I made it sound like, this is what you are suppose to do.  I was taken off guard when he got aggravated and yelled "WHO TOLD YOU YOU COULD GET IN?!?!?!" (Apparently ss doesn't like to be told what to do....oops).  My friend right behind me said "we are with the principal and district superintendent" who then walked up behind us.  I suppose that was a better reason so he wanded us and let us through the guarded area.  (The newspaper reported that no one else was let in after us, so we barely made it in).

We waited in a gated area right off the football field.  All of us nervous & excited.  In addition to press and White House staff, I realized that I was surrounded by students, teachers, administrators & other school personnel.  Other than being a parent with kids in the school system I'm not sure if I was really suppose to be there.  I just happened to be with the right people at the right time.  (See it pays to be a friendly, well known & involved parent in the community).  Soon we saw the President come closer to our group.  He stopped and talked to a bunch of students.  I now know at the time that Angel was in that group.  I didn't see her then, she told me later.  I only had my cell phone with me so I was snapping whatever pictures that I could.  He shook every one's hand.  Some people said something to him.  I had no clue what to say.  I just shook his hand and said "Thank you".  He was very nice & friendly.

Just thinking/writing about it gets me all worked up again.  I mean, I am no personal fan or supporter of him personally.  Actually I'm not a political person AT ALL.  I am fairly clueless on anything political.  Ignorance is bliss.  Jim takes care of all of that for me.  But, no I did not vote for him and don't think I ever will.  HOWEVER.....HE IS OUR PRESIDENT!!!! I fully believe in respect and support of whoever is in that office.  Why pass up that opportunity to meet this man who will forever be in our history books.  It was, in fact, a truly historical moment for me in my life.

So I'm all happy & giddy about it all.  Angel also said that it was pretty cool that she got to meet him & shake his hand.  The whole dance squad was there, they got a group photo with him.  They were scheduled to have team photos taken.  Angel did NOT get the memo to come in practice clothes then change later for pictures.  She was in full uniform.  Which to me worked out perfectly because in that group photo it otherwise looks like a regular group of girls.  With Angel in uniform it's like she represented the whole squad as they posed with him.  This picture was taken on another mom's camera:

I don't truly believe in "just happen to...." or coincidence or chance by any means, even though I am often guilty of saying those words (as I see I said above).  I believe in a perfect masterful plan for my life that I am often not privy to until it happens.  This incident probably won't have any true bearing on the big picture of my life.  But for yesterday, at that day and that was all meant to be.

Here is one of the pictures I took of President Obama on my phone:

  Here are some pictures that were posted on the Register  I haven't been able to obtain the actual pictures yet.  I was able to print the page then had to rescan it into my computer.  You can see all of the pictures here.  You can see Angel in pictures 19, 20, 21, 23, 24 & 25.  You can see my shirt in picture 2 and me in the crowd in picture 28.

Angel shaking the President's hand!!

 I am in the right corner, wearing a flag shirt with my hair pulled back.  I had the total mom look going on with jean shorts, a tshirt and pulled back hair.  Never did I know that I should have dressed for the President that day : )

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ready or Not.....Here I Come....

Alllllrighty peeps!  The time is here.  I am packing my bags & heading out the door for Howl at the Moon, an 8 hour ultra.  Major nerves have me tied in bunches right now.  As much as I run/race, yes, I get nerves before almost every race.  Some more than others.  I think I have a little more to be nervous about this year, as I am, for the most part, doing this race on my own.  Last year, and with most races, I had a friend with me.  We traveled together, roomed together, etc. etc.  We actually didn't run together, not except for maybe the first few miles.  After that we each got on our own pace and always seemed to miss each other throughout the day.  Not until we were done did we get to really sit, talk & be with each other again.  I will miss that companionship.  That friend is such a special, near & dear, friend to me!  She is off having a vacation with her husband....sheesh, some people's priorities.....(haha, you know I'm kidding)

I feel myself starting to ramble.  Focus Carmen.  FOCUS!  The sooner I get this done, the sooner I get on the road.

So if you don't know what this race is all about, let me get you up to speed.  It's an 8 hour timed ultra.  Normally an ultra is a set distance, 50, 100, etc. miles.  Instead of a set distance you have a set time, 8 hours in this case, to run as far as you can and/or want to.  Some people come and have a certain distance they want to finish and once they hit that they are done.  Others, like me, want to see how far I can go.  Yes, I will stop & take breaks.  Some planned some not.  Yes, I am sure I will walk at some point. 

The course is held at a state park, it includes a 3.19 loop.  Complete as many loops as you can/want.  At the end of each loop is a set of tables with counters.  Every time you pass by you holler out your number to your assigned counter and they keep track as to how far you have gone.  Last year as I passed by my counter she looked at me nodded and said "I see you number 48" and I saw her mark down my lap.  I smiled back & waved, then looked down at my number.  I was not number 48, I was 82.  I looked at the lady next to me.  She was not number 48 either.  I had to cut back and ask my counter if she meant me, she said yes.  I told her my correct number and she then realized that she made a mistake.  She had given credit to the wrong number.  Good thing, I was paying attention!  They say counters have the final say in scoring.  If I had waited to correct her it might not have counted.  Not that running 3 miles less on paper would make or break me, but it would eternally bother me that I was incorrectly scored on my first ultra run ever.


Out on this loop is an aid stop.  They have Gatorade, water, a bucket full of ice water filled with sponges,  peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, licorice, etc. etc.  All yours for the taking when/if you need it.  You can rely on this aid or use your own stuff along the way. I do a little of both.  I am camping right along the start/finish line of the loop so each time I come around I can swing over the my tent & other supplies & fuel up as needed.

Ok, enough about the race itself.  Let's get to the point of the race, for me at least.  Last year I ran this race last year and completed 34 miles.  I was very unsure of what I could/could not do.  Last year I was also injured.  My training was on the better side, have lots of long runs completed.  Even then though, my longest run prior to Howl was 19 miles.  Then 1month before the race I became injured.  Almost to the point of not being able to run at all.  I had never been injured before so I had no clue what was going on.  I sought advice from a p/t friend, but didn't have time for an actual diagnosis and plan of recovery.  I was, in fact, advised to not run this race at all.  Seriously I laughed when he told me that.  Me?  Not run?  You might as well tell me to roll over and DIE!  So I ran injured.  It wasn't that bad.  Of course, if you pop enough ibuprofen nothing is that bad.  All in all I was very pleased with my 34 miles.  I knew....just KNEW I had it in me.  I don't know how to explain it, but I can just run.  Maybe not super fast, but run, I can.

So this year, as I said in previous post, my running is not going as planned.  If you want to call it planned.  I have ran 1 half marathon and 1 full marathon.  I had been meaning to write a post on my stats, my running numbers for the year so far.  Haven't gotten to that yet.  In a huge nutshell, I have "only" logged a little over 350 miles.  You are having 1 of 2 reactions.  THAT IS IT?!?!?!?!?!  as, in total disbelief that I even call myself a runner!  Or THAT IS IT?!?!?!?!?  as, in total amazement because you think I am the best rock star runner ever!  I classify myself under the first reaction.  I's a total embarrassment.  However, I go back to a previous statement.....I KNOW I have it in me.

In many ways it doesn't excuse my lack of training.  Having natural talent and a God given ability, only goes so far.  I certainly have a lot of room for more discipline to take me to another level.  But remember, I am a mom to my six pack.  I'm not shooting for Olympic status, yet.  I'm just shooting for Carmen status who is also trying to balance high school - preschool life, and a husband who is out of the country and I've literally had to do it all myself the last 10 days.  (Jim & Angel come home tomorrow....I miss them so much!  I have survived!!!!)

Alright, shut me up already (don't worry I spared you my rambling about what I'm going to wear.....very important!) & let me get on the road.  My goal for tomorrow is 40 miles.  I CAN DO IT!  While I may not have run as many miles this year I am injury free.  Something I was not last year.  I also know more of what to expect and that knowledge is very valuable & helpful.  So I will update as soon as I can as to how I did.  Other wise.....READY OR NOT....HERE I COME!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


I haven't ran in 6 days.  That wasn't my plan.  I was suppose to run last Thursday so I'd only take 9 days off.  Now I will have taken off 10 days off before my big race.  Not that 1 days is going to make a big difference anywhere.  It's not like I really follow any kind of plan anyway.

People ask me all the time...."so what are you doing to train for this race or that race?"  I blankly stare at them and say "Run????"  I am horrible at following any kind of racing plan.  I never have, don't know if I ever will.  I don't like people or some mysterious someone telling me what to do.  I'm a rebel.  If you say something, anything "has" to be done this way or that way, I will question it.  I will challenge it.  Especially when I know that the way I do it is just fine.  Maybe my way isn't perfect or masterminded, but why do what "they" say I should do when I get along just fine on my own.

So someone wants me to follow a piece of paper training schedule that "they" (WHO IS this they?) say will get me on track to running the perfect 5k, 10k, marathon, whatever.  I don't need the motivation.  I don't need someone to tell me to go run, I do that perfectly well on my own.  This plan will often include speed workouts, hills, long runs, rest days, etc etc.  I tend to do most of this on my own.  I'm actually not a fan of speed work or track workouts.  Sure it may help me in some areas, but then again, I can still crank out a 7/7:30 pace in a 5k.  When I did my 1st half marathon, I kept to an 8 minute pace with no problem.  Tempo runs, intervals, etc.  I do ok without it.

Maybe if I was really pressing for Olympic times or some elite status I'd need such a plan.  I'd also need a personal trainer.  A nanny for my kids.  A housekeeper for my house.  A chef would be nice too.  But I'm me.  Carmen Peterson.  Wife of Jim for 16 some years, mom to 6 children.  I don't need a plan.  I just need to run.  And run I do and it fills me & completes me just the way I am.

This was not what I meant to talk about.  I got off on a tangent.  I'm suppose to be stressing my rest plan.  The last 3 nights I have gotten a solid 8 hours of sleep each night.  Of course, prior to that I had stayed up til 5 a.m. and had to be back up at 8:45 then went all day with no rest & inadvertently stayed up til 2 a.m. the next day.  It's fair to say I desperately needed those 8 hour nights, just to get caught up from my mini series of all nighters.  I think the late nights were an attempt to keep myself so busy and so tired that I wouldn't think about how much I am missing my husband & daughter in Mexico.  That can only get me so far though and my body begins to crash & burn.  This icky cold & sinus gunk began to really flare up again.  I knew I had to get back to my full nights of rest or everything would go down the tube  before I got to my big race on Saturday.

For now, to keep myself busy I am off visiting family & friends.  I had the lovely Weas family reunion to attend to over the weekend.  The kids & I then hit the road to visit friends in far off places of the mysterious unknown.  Ok, ok, it's "only" Iowa.  But I love this place.  It's home.  Always has been, always will be.

I am getting that blah state of feeling where I am feeling fat &incredibly out of shape.  I have to urge to throw on my shoes & want to hit the road for some good runs.  But I won't.  Or can't.  I purposely didn't pack any running gear.  So I'll continue to rest, rest, rest.

Just thought I'd throw in a picture of me.  I know it's not a good picture, the big shadow across my face.  I really miss the photo/video element of my blog.  Anyway, this was taken along the mighty Mississippi while at the family reunion.  Just proof that I am alive & (looking?) well.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

It is what it is

I keep staring at the screen.  I'm having a hard time trying to find the words that I want (trust me though, it will come to me).  Normally, I'm not so quiet.  Although that is only part of it, because I keep having to stop and wipe away the tears and stop to regain my composure.

This morning I bid good bye to my husband, Jim and my oldest daughter, Angel as they travel to Mexico for a church missions trip.  Not forever, mind least that is not the plan.  It's only for 10 days.  Perhaps 10 of the longest days of my life.  My heart is feeling like it's being pulled apart at the core, the pain is so deep.  For our family, this separation is not normal.  Not at all.  It makes me realize I live in quite the little bubble of security with my family.

Jim & I have been together for over 17 years.  A quick recap, for those that don't know our history.  We had our first date in May, he proposed to me in July and we wed in December.  All in the same year.  Since that time that we wed, we have only been apart from each other 2 times.  Jim traveled to Guatemala when I was barely pregnant with Angel, our first born.  We had only been married a few months.  Granted, that was a long time ago, but I don't remember missing him so much.  At that point, I had not even known him for a full year.  It was so different back then, though.  I do remember packing up my bags & going back home to family, to hang out with them while Jim was gone.  I was young and full of newly wed bliss.  Not nearly as much responsibility rested on my shoulders while he was gone.

7 years ago I traveled to Mexico to visit family with my dad, sister and nephew.  It was the first and so far only time I did something big on my own without Jim & our 4 kids that we had at that time.  I was only gone for a week.  I seemed good & strong for the first few days of the trip, then it all came crashing down and I missed my family something fierce.  As much as I love my family in Mexico and  REALLY enjoyed my visit down there, I couldn't wait to get home to Jim & the kids.

Jim & I have done little things on our own.  I get the occasional girls weekend away.  He goes to work conferences once, sometimes twice a year and those are always within the state of Illinois.  I'd say though, apart from those minor things we don't spend time apart.  No more than 2-3 days at a time.  I can't speak for him, but I have always "hated" it when he is gone.  I hate that feeling of knowing that he is not coming home to crawl into bed with me that night.  If he goes out with the guys and doesn't come home until 3 a.m., I do not care, because I know he's coming home. I go to bed knowing that when I wake up he will be by my side.

Angel, is getting ready to turn 16.  I lived in a blissful state of motherhood ignorance for 15 of those years.  Then last year  that changed and it seemed to come out of nowhere  (It's like the boogie man jumped out and I went running & screaming for my life.)  I suddenly realized how close she is to adulthood and leaving our nest.  Legally, she can leave our care in 2 years and never look back.  Because of how her schooling fell, she has 3 years left of school, so that will keep her home longer than we can hope for.  And we don't anticipate her flying to coop the day she is 18, but it could happen.  With each day and each milestone that passes I realized how much closer we are to that day when she is ready to take flight and leave home.  (annnnnd, that just brings on the tears again).

When we got married Jim was not only working full time, but taking a full load of college courses to earn his BA.  Before we could even say "how do you do that?" I was pregnant.  (Angel was born 10 months & 1 day after we got married.  Do the math.)  So taking an immediate honeymoon was not in our plans.  She was 5 months old before we had something planned and took our official honeymoon.  I distinctly remember leaving her at my mom's house and driving away.  I remember my heart feeling all wretched like it is now.  Leaving my baby girl like that.......annnnnd cue the tears again.....

A few months later, Jim & I had to leave her again for 2 1/2 weeks while we both traveled to Germany for military duty.  That was a tricky trip for Jim & I.  On the downside of  it we had to work and due to our different jobs we had to sleep in separate barracks on opposite sides of the base.  On the positive side, when we had free time or days off we had a great time traveling the country and sightseeing some neat things.  The downside took it's toll and combine that with leaving, at that time, our only child, we decided we were not going to do this on a regular basis.  It was not in our family's best interest.  Since then we have not left our children for more than 1 night.  Even then, we have only done that a handful of times.

Of course, there are normal life things along the way.  Slumber parties.  Staying with the grandparents.  Church camp.  We are not a clingy, our children can't live without us and vice versa family.  This last year, though, more outside of our comfort zone, big things have come up with Angel.  When she went to Gadet/dance camp last summer.  It was the first time we let her go with people we don't really know.  When she went on the Snowblast ski trip with the youth group in December, it was the first time we spent a holiday without her.  Just in June, she went on a camping trip with the church and spent her first father's day away from Jim.

I'm suddenly realizing how long this is taking me to sit here & type this out.  I'm a fast typer, but I keep stopping to think.  Stopping to remember.  Stopping to cry.  I haven't looked yet, but I'm sure it's rather lengthy too.  This is me, though.  I have to talk the living life out of something to better process it and then I feel much better.  In a nutshell, these big away from each other trips are NOT normal for our family.   It's taking a big emotional toll on me.

Jim and I am are not a big super mushy, you are my best friend couple.  In fact, we drive each other crazy.  Too much of each other and we are at each others neck.  While I love Jim's sense of humor, I tune him out most of the time because it drives me C~R~A~Z~Y!!!!  I don't need to spend my every livin' moment with him.  Same with my kids.  I have never felt inclined to homeschool.  Heck, no, get these kids away from me.  Get...go to school!

So, why, does this bother me so much?!?!?  I think at the very core, no matter how we function as a family, they are my all in all and everything to me. I know this, even if I don't go around proclaiming it all the time.  It's things like this trip that have it all up in my face and forcing me to deal with it in raw, real way.  For Jim, he is my rock, my everything.  It's amazing the things you take for granted in a spouse.  His driving me crazy is what makes my world go round and round.  For Angel, it's just another step closer to releasing her to own adulthood.  It's inevitable.  We can't stop kids from growing up.  It's a reality that no matter how good or bad of a relationship you have with that child, it's hard to deal with.

I haven't even begun to touch the top of the subject of what if something happens to them during this trip.  Sure, our church has taken several missions trips.  The youth take trips all the time.  Every single time, they all come back, safe and sound.  But it's a fear at the back of every person's mind.  This is post 9/11, ya know.  This will be Jim's first plane trip since we went to Germany 15 years ago.  This is Angel's first plane trip EVER!

I have the harsh reality of spending 10 days without either one of them.   This is the longest in well over a decade we've all been apart.  I don't think I'm handling it too well.  I keep trying to hold it together for the sake of the other kids.  Per usual, I will be packing up and heading to Iowa to spend time with family & friends.  I need the distraction.  But it is what it is and I'll deal with it as I go along the way .

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


I have 10 minutes....TEN, to get this done.  I probably shouldn't even try at all, but I distinctly remember posting about just blogging & getting it done.  No time for them perfect conditions.

Someone forgot to set her alarm this morning.  No, wait, correction.  Someone DID set her alarm for this morning, she just forgot to turn it up so she could hear it go off.  Leaving the volume turned down to zero is of no help.  (well, duuuuuh).  I awoke anyway, but not at my predetermined time.  Thanks to my bellowing cat (which at the time wasn't sure if it was a crying kid upstairs) I was awoken from a very deep sleep.  Complete total state of REM was happening and it took me a few minutes to even fully awake and look at my clock.  4:40!!!!  That had me jumping out of bed.  I was suppose to make pizza dough before I ran, but now that was not going to happen.  I got dressed in record time and hurried out the door.

Getting smacked in the face with HOT MUGGY air is not a very pleasant hello to my morning.  Quite honestly, it's getting on my nerves.  Kinda like when I was sick and tired of having to wear running tights and long sleeves for my morning runs back in April.  I distinctly remember thinking "really, could you warm up a little?!?!?!?"  Ooops, be careful what you ask for.

Because my morning was rushed my thoughts were totally random during my run.  I do try and pay attention to what I think about.  Sometimes it's easy, sometimes I run and then think "what DID I think about".  I often try to include prayer time in my run.  That can include anything from a 10 second "dear Lord...blah, blah, blah" to a continous non stop chat with my creator.  Today was full of short random prayers.  In between I though of this blog.  What I would/could blog about.  The most pressing thing on my mind was the Olympics.  This was brought on by Whitney Houston's rendition of the Star Spangled Banner which belted from my ipod.     I closed my eyes for a moments, belted out a few notes and wondered what it felt like to stand on an Olympic podium and hear this song.  I once, ok still, do have aspirations of being an Olympic runner.  It really needs a post all to itself.  Someday I'll get to it.

For now, though, my 10 minutes is up.  I probably went longer than that.  Mostly due to having to stop and greet my precious 3 year old princess as she arose from bed and got her some breakfast.  Of course once I rose from my chair I suddenly I drank A LOT of coffee this morning and had to make other pit stops along the way of getting back on here to finish.

I need to go make up my pizzas (dough did get made up, just later rather than sooner) and head out the door for a meeting.  Until next time.....(sing with me now) AND THE HOOOOOOOME OF THEEEEEEEEE BRAAAAAAAAVE!