Friday, January 22, 2010

Bella - Marathon weekend

This is what Bella was up to while she was with the Houston Grandparents. Doesn't she look like a big girl in these! One of her favorite things to do now is throw her hands in the air and then hit her tummy.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

26.2 miles of Elvis, George Bush Sr, and belly dancers

Let me begin this post by saying it's probably good i'm writing it three days post-marathon. The day of would have been titled "NEVER AGAIN", the day after would have been titled "OUCH - I CAN'T MOVE", and yesterday would have been titled "Look I can moove...oope...nope I can't". So, today I can move and i'm not sore anymore and I can get out of bed in the morning with a spring in my step instead of looking like I was 40 weeks pregnant again. Here is the play by play action of this post lovingly titled "26.2 miles of Elvis, George Bush Sr, and belly dancers". And, it's long. I don't want to forget anything. Feel free to skip to the pictures if you want.

The week prior to the marathon I was sick with sinus yuck and Mike got sick with the flu - really sick. So, in my not-so-great-wife mode, I was pretty upset he was sick and couldn't make the race. He was simply too weak and still had fevers so a drive to Houston and standing at the finish line waiting for me to cross is not really "taking it easy". After a couple nights of us not sleeping well and lots of tears, I picked up Allison (while still in tears) and we headed to Houston. We dropped Bella off at the grandparents house (awesome!) where Susy had an Italian cream cake for our birthday (double awesome). Yes, it was a day before the marathon but we had a little teeny bit. And, it was goooddd!

Then, Allison and I went to the Marathon Expo to pick up our packets and those cool timing chips you put on your shoes to tell you how great you are at running (I proved this wrong later). The Expo was full of the 40,000+ runners that would fill Houston streets the next day - and there was a certain synergy about the place too that made you think "Maybe i'm meant to be a marathoner" or "I want to be a great athlete" or "oh my gosh, is that Paula Radcliffe? Stand up straight - Tighten your core - Walk without pronation".

Then we checked in our hotel, which was right past the third ward in Houston. oops! I booked the hotel thinking it was in the Medical Center since the name of the hotel had "Medical Center" in it...well, it was kindof close but ended up being in the ghetto! The room was great though so we decided to stay and get back before dark. Off we went to find a great place for carb-loading. Allison took us to one of her favorite places, Cafe Express, where we had a fresh pasta-chicken-spinach dinner. It was yummy! All I could think of was Paula Dean's peanut butter dessert and pizza..."after tomorrow" I told myself. Then we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the next day. We laid out all our clothes, positioned our timing chip on our shoe, and settled into bed...instead of sleeping we became two giggly (surprise, surprise) 29 year old twins who found everything possible hilarious! We finally went to sleep after reading some cooking magazines (that's why I wanted the Paula Dean peanut butter beautifulness) and watching the cooking channel.

The next morning started a little before 5 since we both woke up before the alarm. To try to take away the nerves, I did what i'm sure every marathoner does the morning of the run - read a cooking magazine and checked email.
Here are some of the morning essentials, modeled by Allison - deodorant (amen to this!) and anti-chafe glide (amen again!).
Some goodies for the road, modeled by Allison.
And, to try to take away the nerves again...we watched Little House on the Prairie.

We did our final morning stretches and were off. Notice the outfits! We looked the Jamaican bobsled team twins - we may or may not have sung that a couple of times. Emily first, Allison second.

Coming up to the start line was a neat moment. They were lining up the wheelchair contenders who, by the way, do the marathon quicker than any of the runners. Then, the elites lined up. Allison and I went to get a glimpse of the "elites" - they were olympic contenders, world record holders, and all around extremely fast-fit people. I tried to warm up like they did - it didn't work.

We then shuffled back to our starting line. Remember there are 40,000+ people so we had to find the others in our, uh hem, pacing group of 2.5 hours. ha! Just kidding. More like 4.5 hours. This part was fun with the energy of everyone else and the loud gun that went off and thousands of people shuffling without knocking one another over - brilliant.

The first 13 miles were great! We had a fabulous pace, an easy stride, music, lots of screaming fans...we had our names on our shirts but it took us a while to realize that's why everyone was screaming "good job, Allison" and "way to go, Emily". We thought we had loads of twin fans! We drank water at every stop and then kept going. Throughout the route we saw Elvis impersonators (about 4 of them...what was with that?) and kiddos with signs of "go mommy go". I didn't cry but I sure thought I was going to lose it when I saw a mom see her kids and run over to them. Then there was a college age girl behind us who saw her dad on the sidelines. She yelled "dad" in semi-exhaustion and he went running to her to hug her...yep, about lost it then.

"Awww, twins" "Are y'all twins?" "Look twins, that's so cute" "Wait a minute...y'all look the same" "Y'all are so cute together" - If I had a nickel every time someone commented on us being twins (the Jamaican bobsled team twins, nonetheless) I would be rich!

Then mile 14 got a.little.harder. But, we were ok. Just keep going. One step in front of the other. You got this. You got this. Mile 15, 16, 17, and 18 - harder and we start hurting. I was really worried about my stomach upsets that i've had on my training runs. Thankfully, I had one nervous moment at mile 3 and then it was semi-ok after that. I stayed nervous about this throughout the entire race. Ok, back to the story.

Mile 19 was a come-to-Jesus moment. "Why in the world am I doing this?". Just when you need motivation, a man handing out oranges said "Emily, look ahead. It's George Bush". At this point I was not in a laughy mood so I thought, "whatever. The make-you-laugh-at-the-Bush-impersonator-tactic is not working". Sure enough, I passed someone sitting in a chair with a cane and it was the George Bush Sr. What? So, what did we do? We ran past him and spent the next mile trying to figure out if it was really him and then wished we would have taken a picture. "Hello Mr. President. We're the Jamaican bobsled twins and we'd like to take a picture with you." Oh well. We saw him.

Mile 20 is supposedly the "wall". Oh, y'all it certainly was! I think this is where Allison said, "human bodies are not supposed to be able to do marathons" and I think I said "uh huh". We were h.u.r.t.i.n.g! Our legs, my back, our feet. We would run and then have to stop and then run and have to stop. I would jog because it felt better and Allison would walk fast at my jog pace - so, I was probably jog-shuffling. During the initial miles we had minute-miles of 10 and 11 - now we were clearly in the 12's and the pacer for the 5:45 was in front of us. That was humbling! The next 6.2 miles were spent just hoping to see the mile markers. It was also a time where you make "friends".

At the beginning of the race, you have "those" people - you know, the ones that hit you on the arm so they can pass you and are all about business. We didn't really make friends with them because, well, 1) they wouldn't have talked to us if we tried, and 2) they passed us at mile 2. So, when we hit mile 20 everyone in our little group was struggling just like us. Some were sick to their stomachs and most, if not all of us, were limping in some sort of way. I used to think that you could only be a marathoner if you made a great time of 4:30 or less. However, at this point I realized we were all marathoners for just finishing. There were senior citizens running with us (humbling again), people our age, mothers, friends...and all of us were just trying to finish. I remember thinking, "If I can make it to mile 22 it will be ok". Then, 23 and 24 and 25 were really hard and achy. Allison and I said the day before we would have a heart-to-heart during the marathon - the talks with your best friend that involve what you want to do with your life and how you want to solve the worlds problems. Needless to say, we were not talking much at this point except encouraging one another along and talking about our aches and pains.

I think at mile 24 or 25 they had belly dancers...uhm, were they motivation? After laughing/hurting because we laughed/laughing we kept going.

We decided to walk and save our last bit of energy to run past the finish line. We finally turned the corner and saw the big bunch of balloons at the finish line. At the beginning of the race, I actually thought I would cry at this point but I don't think I had anything left in me except wanting to finish! We started running and looked for Brad, Susy, Tommy and sweet Bella. We saw Brad about 10 yards until the finish line and it was wonderful to see him! Then we passed the finish line! The finish line video is at the end of the post. Marathoners victorious! Emily on right, Allison on left.Then we saw the grandparents and Bella. I called Mike and told him I would never do this again.

Here's Bella waiting and waiting for her mom and aunt to finish...

We then went to get our medals and sit down! I walked a little bit but my back was in pain! So, I sat down.

After getting our medals and a great shower, I headed home with Bella. In hindsight, the marathon was much harder than anticipated. Training, or lack thereof in my case, needed to be a little better - but given my thoughts on that (see previous post) - I did ok. Also, I finished! I finished! I finished! 14.5 months post baby and all! We did it! It was great to do it with Allison. Although we didn't have a heart-to-heart we accomplished this together all the way, side by side, Jamaican bobsled style and all. Now, three days later, I'm so glad I did it. Will I do it again? I'll save that for another post. For now, I ran for a medal that looks pretty cute on my training buddy!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Marathon Countdown

Well, well, well. It is now less than 48 hours until the Houston Marathon and I have LOTS of thoughts/reflections before the big 26.2.

First, marathon training is much harder with a kiddo and a hubby taking 4 graduate school courses. When I reviewed my training calendar, I saw the looong 13-20 mile runs on most saturdays and thought, ignorantly, I can do them all. However, I only achieved two of those runs because Mike had to go to the Baylor library all day saturday or the baby gal was too cute to leave for 3 hours or we went on vacation or Christmas happened....

Secondly, running is not near as much of a priority as I thought it was. Don't get my wrong - I LOVE to run - I can tell when the endorphins kick in - I get moody if I don't run (just ask the hubster) - I experience new places and sites on our vacations by running through new trails/roads/dirt. So, I embarked on the marathon journey wanting to do the schedule perfectly. However, I soon learned that playing with Bella while we all snuggled under the covers on a saturday morning beats a 3 hour run, hands down. And, that's ok with me. So, although I didn't achieve perfection in training I did achieve a newfound love for family and a newfound discovery of my priorities. Can you resist this face, especially when it's cold outside?

Thirdly, i'm running the 26.2 with my twin - holla! I probably would have dropped out of the race if it wasn't for her. I signed us both up and she kept us in. We have done alot together, including sharing a womb, so we can cross run-a-marathon off of our twin-to-do-list. We have decided that we will do the best that we can - even if that entails 6 hours of speed-walking. (The limit is 6 hours so we have to be done then.) Our only goal is to finish and have a great time! We'd like to do it in 4:30 and average a 10 minute mile (or better) but if we don't that's ok. We want to experience the other 30,000+ runners and the parks and trees and Houston humidity (ok, just kidding on that one). And, i'm on the hunt for Paula Radcliffe - yes, if I see her I may give her a hug and say "You're my hero". hmmm, I wonder what her bib number is.

Fourthly, i'm n.e.r.v.o.u.s and e.x.c.i.t.e.d. I'm nervous because, well y'all, it's 26.2 miles. What? I'm also nervous because my stomach has not been "agreeable" (to say the least) on some of my longer training runs. Dear stomach, please cooperate and stay calm and be good. Sincerely, Emily. On another note, i'm very excited now and have had to discipline myself to slow it down this week. I guess adrenaline will take over on race day, hopefully at mile 20.

Fifthly, and most importantly we are running for a great cause. We are running for an organization called Living Water International, which provides water to the poorest countries in the world. $1=1 cup of water goes a long way! Our team, as a whole, has raised over $52,000 thus far! And, with the devastating and heart wrenching news of the Haiti earthquake that seems to make me cry alot lately the time of providing water is even more needed. LWI is already mobilizing teams to go to Haiti and restore water to some 500 incapacitated handpumps. When I was having a "I don't want to run the 26.2" day, I opened up my LWI training shirt and that's all the motivation I needed. If you'd like to contribute to mine and Allison's fundraising page, you still can. Just go HERE and donate today! We will honored to run for them.

We will certainly keep you posted on race day. You can also follow us on race day by going HERE. My bib number is 6864 and Allison's is 6865. Don't judge if you see us running an 8 minute followed by a 16 minute mile - walk/water/bathroom/"oh my goodness"/ break!

Happy running everyone!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Long overdue videos and an update

This is a long overdue posting of Christmas videos of Bella walking. She is now walking/running/walking/running all over the place. So, these are outdated. But, they are too cute not to post.

Here she is with Grammy and PawPaw in Houston.

Here she is with Nana and Granddad in Lovington. The red chair was my great-grandmothers (MawMaw) and was given to her by her daddy. So, Bella's Great-Great-Great Grandfather.

Other things going on in the Smith Household:
1. She is saying "thank you" (she started that at the beginning December - I just kept forgetting to post it), "three" (said that today), "love you", lots of babbling! Her first word(s), other than mommy and daddy, was "thank you". Hopefully, she's that polite later in life! It also seems like she is having full conversations that only she understands. Of course, we try to talk back and just agree with her. She's probably trying to get her way - but, that's ok.
2. She is no longer crawling and is full blown running at times. She'll try to get to the doors before we do because she knows we won't let her go in certain rooms during the day - little stinker!
3. She has another bottom tooth (happened last week - I told y'all - i'm behind on this blogging thing). That makes 8 - 4 top and 4 bottom.
4. Her hair is LONG! Business in the front and partay in da' back! Yes, people. The mullet is here but only on one side. (Is that a 'ullet'? I digress.) The sheers are about to come out. Of course, i've been in denial about this for a while so I may need moral support (uh hem - My mom and Momma S) to help me cope/know what i'm doing.
5. I am learning that I have a toddler...uhm, maybe denial again? It's so weird to me when she comes to find me when i'm another room and just walks right in. What? Where did you learn to do that, cutie-pie!
6. She started giving hugs this week! We are EATING THOSE UP! We can even ask for them on demand and get them. You'll ask for a hug and she'll put her little head on your shoulder. Awww, life is good.
7. She is completely on table food - except for the two feedings of milk I still give her. I'm trying to get her through the wintery months with breastfeeding so we're down to two a day - the first and last of the day. She is refusing anything given to her by the spoon and wants to do. it. by. herself.
8. She likes to put things in boxes/tupperware/bins/bowls and take them back out. Over and over again. She also picks up her toys and puts them in the basket we have in our living room. I don't necessarily think she is picking-up-after-herself (yet, we, as any parent, thinks she's brilliant). I think she's organized or neat or something like that...I don't know. I'm a first time parent so all babies may do this too!
9. She loves to stand up behind you when you're sitting on the ground and play peek-a-boo. I'll turn around real quick and say "boo" and lots of laughter/running away will ensue.

Well, that's all for now. I hope you enjoyed the videos and until next time, have a great 2010!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Arctic blast

The weather is going to be COLD! So, I thought it would be fitting to post some Christmas pictures from our time in snowy, cold Lovington. Our last day (or what was supposed to be our last day) started out with lots of snow. We decided to wait it out and leave the following day to return to the "real world". And, the waiting did all of us good! We played in the snow and read and cooked and watched movies and played Wii (where I may or may not have beat my hubby in boxing and he may or may not have beat me in skiing). Enjoy some pictures in honor of the cold weather most of you are experiencing right now. Stay warm!

This is what happens when two girls who are exactly the same size try to wrestle...noone moves or goes down to the ground. hilarious!

We would laugh so hard after one of us got hit and then the other one would get hit then laughter then another snowball thrown then laughter...
Look at that form, I was meant for the pros. And, Allison looks like a praying mantis.
Uhm, I think I was trying to get away from the sista!
But, I got her back.

Allison in red, Emily in white... in case you couldn't tell.
And, sweet Bella!

Playing with her Granddad in the snow!

Stay warm and don't let your loved ones hit you with a snowball...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Texas was invaded by the Partin's!

Texas was invaded by two world-class, phenomenal, life changing, fun-lovin', gettin-in-trouble, best people ever - I'm sure they could scale walls in their sleep, fight off armies of ants with their rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, bake an apple pie with nothing more than brain power, and teach you everything you wanted to know about the Bermuda triangle. Who are these people? Well, none other than the Partins! Ok, so maybe they can't do those amazing feats but they are our best friends and we think the world of them. They may not be able to scale walls in their sleep or fight off armies of ants but they sure can love people to pieces and give of themselves like noone else. As you can tell, they have become family to us. For those of you not from South Carolina, we met Mark and Gayla when we lived in Sumter, SC for the first part of our marriage. It's history from there. I'm sure you all have "those friends". You know - the ones you feel like family when they come to visit and the ones you never miss a beat when you talk with. Gayla and I could probably talk about nothing for hours on end. One night in SC we met them in Columbia to eat. We all kept talking so we went to Marble Slab...and we kept talking so we went to Starbucks...then we talked outside our cars and finally went home. Needless to say, we were excited when they came to Texas. Here's a little of our visit:

Of course, Bella loved playing with Aunt Gayla.
My best friend and I with sweet Miss B.

Only in Texas do they decorate the trees with antlers...uhm, Gayla hadn't seen that before.
Bella's first horse ride.
I love this picture!
This was the Partin's first trip to we took them to eat Texas BBQ - complete with rodeo signs and animal heads.
Texas BBQ is very different than South Carolina BBQ - we had to show them the true way to do BBQ. And, it was good!
Gayla and I ordering our Texas BBQ in front of the huge pit-o-meat. (Notice Bella's adorable hat given to her by Mark and Gayla.)ark and Mike are both techies but Bella was trying to get their attention.
More cute pictures of Bella and Gayla.
The morning they were scheduled to fly back to SC, Bella was being held/loved on/kissed/hugged by Gayla. Bella got a little fussy so Gayla started walking and I heard her say "that's ok, you can have whatever you want" and "we'll do whatever you want". A minute later I turn around and Miss B was getting little bites of chocolate chip cookies at 10:30am! We are going to have to retrain Bella from all the attention she's gotten this Christmas season from the family and then from Mark and Gayla - but, that's ok. She can have whatever she wants from great friends!