Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Spirit

Christmas has always been a tough time of year for me. It seems to exemplify James' delay. When you have a child with special needs no matter how okay you are with it there are always still days or moments that are hard or frustrating or bring tears to your eyes. It's always been hard for me to watch others' kids get excited about Christmas, drink hot chocolate, look at Christmas lights in wonder, open presents...all of the things you imagine Christmas will be when you become a parent. Every year Dan continually reminds me that I'm only feeling bad for myself. James doesn't know he's missing anything. And while that's true it still didn't take away the fact that I wanted him to be excited for this most wonderful time of year.

The second attempt wasn't even this good
I don't really know what changed this year but I decided if I wanted the boys to experience the beauty of Christmas then just like everything else we'd have to work at it...harder than others do, but it wasn't an excuse. So over and over I've worked with James to get him to identify Santa and Rudolph. He'll tell you Santa brings presents and Rudolph has a red nose and eats carrots. And Baby Jesus is Baby Farm. He doesn't understand that Santa will bring him presents tonight or that Baby Jesus is anything other than a baby in a barn. And when he saw Santa...well yeah I guess you could say it didn't go well...either time. But he dances to Jingle Bells and cheers for it, he points to the Church with the Christmas light display and yells mismis lights. And he works so incredibly hard to say mismas but he does with a wide toothy grin!

This year our house is covered in lights, lopsided and uneven, but still there. And the look on the boys face when they saw them light up was priceless. Much to Dan's dismay there's pine branches on every shelf, candles, Christmas signs, lights...and a Christmas tree still only half decorated. I'll use the excuse that I have toddlers but really that was one thing I just didn't have time for. Like everything else there has to be a balance and a perfect Christmas tree fell off the list. James helped me bake Christmas cookies, using a cookie cutter and decorating wasn't happening so instead our sugar cookies are plain, but they were made. And we boxed them up in white boxes just like Little Grammy used to do and sent them off to a few special women who I wanted to bring a smile to. They aren't perfect, but they're made with love.

So tonight when the boys go to bed they aren't yet at the point where they'll be excited for tomorrow morning. Maybe that will be next year, maybe not, but what I do know is this year our little house is filled to the brim with Christmas Love and that means more than these guys being excited about the soccer net and balls that will mysteriously appear over night. Its not from the trimmings or lights, those are just symbols of the love our house is filled with. Our slightly imperfect decorations are a reflection of our slightly imperfect, but oh so perfect Christmas Love.

Sunday, December 18, 2016


Lately I feel like there's been more of a focus on our differences and what divides us than on what bonds us -Billy Yang

A couple weeks ago I was chatting with a friend about having 2 versus 1...if you don't have more than 1 it's exponentially harder adding a second kid to the mix....BUT when it's good it's REALLY good. I think that's hands down the best way to describe it. And right now James is totally Rob's hero. It's something I never really expected and certainly never realized how something so little and so 'normal'  would end up meaning the world to me. Rob may not always look up to James and he might be the only kid to do so, but for right now, for this moment James is Rob's hero no matter what James can or can't do. Rob doesn't know James should be able to have a conversation or write his name, he doesn't know how hard James had to work to learn to jump, all he knows is this kid loves him with his whole heart, makes him laugh, brings him his luvie at night and brushes him off when he falls...right before he pushes him back down but who's counting anyways. The little moments when I realize Rob just sees a crazy, fun, full of love big brother. Seeing how much Rob looks up to James and wants to be like him is one of those little things I never expected. Not that I didn't think it would happen, but I never thought about it. I knew their relationship would be efferent than other siblings, but I never thought about how much the same it would be. Knowing that James is even just one persons hero makes me happy beyond words. 

It absolutely breaks my heart to hear people, even doctors, say a baby with Ds won't have a good quality of life, that he'll suffer, that his life isn't worth living. I'm pretty sure this sibling dynamic is not too different from most households out there. I know it will change and I don't know if James will always be Rob's hero, but no matter how it changes having James in our little family is worth it every second of every day and I wouldn't change a thing.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Ugly Stress Monster

Since Leadville I've been struggling with my running...probably part of why I fell off the blogging world. By RRR I still wasn't feeling 100%, my legs were heavy and tired all the time. 52 miles of the RRR course certainly didn't help that either. I kept waiting for that perfect fall run where you PR your normal route and everything feels light and easy...but that run never came. I started stressing am I that runner who has one good 100 and then that's it, they never run again. I think people tend not to give enough credit to all the terribleness stress can cause, but its like a downward spiral.

So I did what any good offseason runner would do and I started doing some yoga. For two weeks I did 20 min every day...I'm not sure if it released my stress or my hamstrings, but I felt amazingly better and my running improved dramatically. I've still been doing 20 min or so of yoga 3-4 times a week because it can't be bad right? Last week I had one of those amazing runs on Green where it just felt like I was flying! I had been waiting all fall for that run so it felt really good to finally get it. Definitely have the urge to get back at it now!
throwing rocks in the lake has become
part of our family runs

The boys have really been keeping me busy, but we've cut back on feeding therapy and dr appointments seem to be getting less and less so it feels like we have more time for running or family things. Family things mostly meaning running...maybe we need to work on that. We did take the boys to the RMDSA holiday party last weekend where they demolished some scrambled eggs and cried in horror when they met basically probably about the same as any other family these days right. Santa comes to school this week so we'll have to do some practicing with James beforehand.

few things better than a snowy run up the Eagle Cliffs

hands down my new favorite trail - Staunton SP

totally normal right?
Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, December 5, 2016

What Happened?

A couple people have asked what happened this year to improve my running. Dan would say I had a second kid. For years he's been trying to convince me that was the key to my success! After all it seemed to work for Kerrie Bruxvvort so that had to be the missing piece for me. Right?!?! Well I did change up somethings this year, aside from being a mom to two boys, and I think that it really paid of for me. 

1. Nutrition
Over the winter I knew one thing I really had to work on this year was my nutrition both in general and during races. I did a lot of research on race nutrition and what I decided to try was to simplify my nutrition to one type of sugar and to keep my electrolytes separate from my calories. It was fine to mix them but I wanted to be able to adjust the electrolytes based on conditions. After trying a few different things I reluctantly tried Dan's 50 lb bag of maltodextrin and Nuun. Well it worked on that first long run, so I tried it again and again. I'm sure there will be another race where my stomach turns south, but for now I'm sticking with the plan because it's working. I've mentioned before, but I also ate considerably more than I have in the past. I averaged 120-150 calories/hour...every hour until the end. Part of what helped was not puking. But keeping the calories coming in definitely helped my performance.

One thing I didn't plan on changing was going dairy free. We began to suspect Robert was having issues with dairy last winter and immediately saw an improvement particularly in his temperament, but it wasn't until the spring that I was really able to stick with it. Trust me dairy free is WAY harder than gluten free. It plain old sucks...I am a Wisonsin girl! I love my 10 yr cheddar, Mack and cheese, pizza... But the reality is I think it really had a significant impact on my stomach issues. Even if it wasn't not doing dairy its in my head now that no dairy helps so even once I add dairy back I'll go back to no dairy for a couple weeks before races. 

2. Mileage
I've never been a high mileage runner, but this summer after the Leadville marathon I put together a training block of the highest mileage I've ever ran. July I ran 337 miles with 59000 ft in vertical. My previous high mileage month was 249 miles. I was consistently running 70-80 mph. While I can finish 100s on lower mileage I really think that to run successfully I really needed the higher mileage. The other side to that though is balancing getting injured. The past few years I've been slowing increasing my weekly mileage during training blocks and I think this season the timing was right to be able to increase my mileage without getting injured. And not just that but my body was able to respond well to the week after week of high mileage without feeling fatigued. I actually ended my training block without the feeling I usually have where I'm tired and rundown and ready to taper. I felt great the whole time. 

3. Strength Training
If you know me at all you know I hate the gym. I hate lifting weights, I hate working out, I hate being in a gym. But after doing a running eval this spring I found out my quads, particularly my left quad was actually weak. I knew if I wanted to run high mileage and push myself I had to change things which meant I was going to have to do some strength training. I did all the research I could to develop a Pilates based routine I could do at home to strengthen my core, legs and back. I made sure it was short enough, 30 minutes, that I would stick with it several times a week and started including a couple exercises every day with the hip exercises I was already doing. After a couple weeks I started to notice a significant difference in the muscle definition in my quads so I know my routine was working to improve my strength and fitness. Just how much of that actually improved my running I'm not sure, but it was definitely worth it and something I will continue. And I actually kind of like doing it. 

4. Race Strategy
Ok I've said over and over this year I'm running consistent and running for time not place. I can't get caught up in anyone else's race. Aside from the Leadville marathon I think I did this pretty well. Interestingly enough the one race I had where I had a place goal I ran terrible. I wasn't running my own race, I didn't run consistent and the end result was a sub-par race result. I still haven't perfected this because its a fine line between pushing hard enough at the beginning of a race and not pushing too hard. But I'm definitely closer than I have been before.

I don't really know if any of these things made a big difference or not, but I have to believe they helped somewhat. Here's to hoping that if I can keep this up I can continue to see some big improvements next season!