Sunday, September 25, 2016

Mama On The Run: An Extra Special Half Marathon

I've run the Run for the Rocks Half Marathon at least six times in the six years we have hosted it through my job at Hutch Rec.

Only this time my time actually counted. And I ran the entire course uninterrupted instead of setting up mile markers or checking on volunteers or going back to double-check that curves and turns were safe and just right for the participants. 

I passed the baton to our new full-time race coordinator and had the time of my life racing through my town a race near and dear to my heart and one that I've spent countless nights mulling over, sweating over, and making sure our participants had the best taste of the Salt City they could experience. 

I went in with a 2-hour time goal. Ideally I wanted anything under 2 hours - 1:57-1:59 was sounding mighty nice, but I crossed the finish line exactly in the 2-hour mark, 2:00:16.Normally competitive me wonders where I should have kicked it in or where I lacked. My training was steady - slow - these several weeks leading up to the race, faced with a nagging staph infection and other issues. I definitely see the need for a structured strength training plan and being consistent with my diet as a whole (meaning: sweet treats are just that - treats and not every day!).

That being said, I sped through the finish line feeling giddy and am still smiling as I reflect on the race. There was nothing like smiling, waving, and shouting at all of the volunteers and police officers throughout the course- many by name as they are the same ones year in and year out I've had the pleasure of getting to know during the coordinating years. I loved going through each water station giving out high fives. And there's nothing like the Gowans Stadium finish, which I've drooled over and have watched more than 1,500 runners do it since 2011.

It's also a joy running with fellow Hutch and regional runners who I've gotten to know pretty well. They're the ones who are registering year in and year out, who understand the importance of racing local and the excitement it brings a community.

So can I race better? Sure, there's always a way to get better. (And I get to try it all again in two week at another half-marathon race).

But this morning's race story wasn't going to be about the finish time. It's all about community and literally running out a vision that unfolded all of those years ago and I had the pleasure of being a part of from behind the scenes for the last five years.

And a side note...I also brought home my Rock Out Challenge medal after running my own 5K yesterday when the Classic Rock was canceled. Bling bling!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Birthday Babes

Mama may be on to something.

After years of doing one child's family birthday party, only to have 4-6 weeks pass by and host the second child's birthday party, mama decided it was time for the kidlets to have a joint birthday party with the family this year. 

With Mackie's birthday in August and Brax's birthday in October, we opted for the tweener month and hosted the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins for a very casual Sunday afternoon party, complete with outdoor play, pinatas, balloons, ice cream and cake. Perhaps the hardest part of the party was frosting a stubborn homemade vanilla cream cake with whipped strawberry frosting. (I'll take that type of "stress" any day!)

Both babes had a blast and made precious memories with cousins. And the best part? We kept everyone outdoors so our somewhat clean house remained that way!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Mama On The Run: Hold On...For One More Day

Labor Day brings a purging mindset of sorts in the Conkling household. I'm in full organization, type-A, back-to-school and structure mode, which calls for a fall clean-out of the house.

I've been purging kids' clothes and houseware items for future garage sales. Jack has been cleaning out the garage making his own piles. Even the kids will be joining in on the fun tomorrow as they purge those annoying little toys and trinkets that aren't worth anything but somehow pile up in their rooms (to which mama will later permanently purge them in the trashcan).

I have no problem purging, giving items to Goodwill, or stockpiling the garage sale stash underneath the stairwell in the basement.

With one exception....

This beauty is a 2009 BOB Ironman jogging stroller. I received this a few months before Mackie was born after weeks upon weeks of research (ridiculous amounts of research went into this product before my parents gifted us with one). We even purchased a BOB Revolution Duallie stroller when Brax came along, but sold that to fellow running friends about two years ago (fighting back tears, mind you).

As I said before, I've had no problem selling or purging stuff - including baby items. I didn't sniffle when someone bought the exersaucer or Bumbo chair or a bulk of the baby clothes for each of my children (with the exception of a few essential outfits and first pair of Baby Nikes that I had to keep). I didn't even choke back tears when we sold the play kitchen or little toolset or other fun toddler items that took up our entire living room.

So why is it so hard to part ways with a 7-year-old stroller that is only used a few times a year to cart Brax around when he's done walking or running? I certainly don't push him for a few miles like I used to with both him and his sister.

And that's the problem. While I love each stage my child enters, a part of my heart aches a bit when I think back to those days. The cool, fall mornings when I'd bundle Mackie up in a blanket and we'd run around the neighborhood and wave at the school kids on the bus. Or loading up the snack stash to keep Brax entertained while we took a jaunt along the trail when big sis was at preschool.

I remember thinking to myself back then - when we waved at the bus or as I glanced down at my tow-headed toddler moving his head back and forth to see pictures in the clouds - that these days were but a moment and I'd find myself where I'm at now....deciding when (or if!) it's time to sell the final piece of baby equipment that has brought along so many precious moments with my babies.

It's silly to have so many emotional ties to an object. This is why I don't have a problem purging - it's just stuff! But this object goes beyond being "just" an object to me.

There will come a day (hopefully!) when I feel it's time to say good-bye to good 'ole BOB. In the meantime, we've created a lovely parking place for it in our garage...and I'll keep trying to squeeze Brax into it a few more times, just for memory's sake.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Seven Is Spectacular

While our sweet Mackie Claire turned 7 last Saturday, she started celebrating a week earlier. This year's friend party included a special Pinkalicious story time at Bluebird Books with her favorite reader, Miss Dell. 

It was a wonderful afternoon with seven of her gal pals, including pink cupcakes and juice, stories from Pinkalicious and Fancy Nancy, a special craft time, and of course, gifts! She had a fabulous time with her sweet friends - and may I say they were all oh-so sweet and cute! We thank God for the sweet friends that He has placed in Mackie's life. 

You already know that on Mackie's actual birthday she participated in the Salty Pup Triathlon. After much-needed naps and showers, we enjoyed the rest of the day doing (mostly) whatever her heart desired in the Hutch area. 

We took a trip to Petco (for their "mama and daddy won't let us have a pet so we come here to look" fix)...

We perused the Target toy aisles in search of a special something to buy with the birthday money already burning a hole in her pocket...

We ate ice cream before dinner...

And we capped off the evening with a trip to the restaurant of her choice, Ken's Pizza. We had a great time, even if she was 40 cents more for being 7 years old through the kids buffet line. 

Mackie Claire had a pretty rock-star day. We were excited to gift her with a heart KC shirt (to match mama as we cheer on our beloved Royals!), an American Girl Olympics swim suit/gymnast outfit (complete with a gold medal, swim cap, goggles, and more!), and earrings. Little bro went in on the fun and found a bucket o'beads and puzzle magazine for big sis. 

Her look says it far, seven is spectacular!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

An Official Triathlete!

It's been a frequent laugh in our house that Mackie was born to one day become a Salty Pup triathlete. 

It (literally) almost happened, as I delivered her five days after waddling through our community Salty Dog/Salty Pup Triathlons in 2009, serving as coordinator. The poor little miss has celebrated her fair share of birthdays and birthday weekends at the Dog/Pup events, running around with grandma while mama coordinated and ran around like a madwoman, daddy by her side, and cheering on papa to the finish line. 

So when Mackie realized last year that her 7th birthday would fall on this year's Salty Pup Triathlon, she begged us to compete. It really didn't take much begging, as Jack and I finally felt she was old enough to compete and she had the heart and desire to train. 

She spent the summer on swim team and prepared for the swim. She spent some of her mornings running a lap or two with mama (or daddy) around the neighborhood as part of our own cool-downs during our morning runs. And she and daddy went biking on the trails several times these past few weeks, making sure she could handle the bike leg of the event. 

Race week arrived this week - and with it, brought a surprise fever to our little miss on Wednesday night. Mackie hadn't been sick for months (maybe even a few years?!), so it came out of the blue, and put us in the parental tricky-tough spot - when do we decide to throw in the towel on her first triathlon? 

Thankfully her fever broke and she woke up raring to go her birthday morning - not minding one bit that her "alarm clock" of mama and daddy singing "Happy Birthday" at 4:45 a.m. was happening. She bounded out of bed and exclaimed that she was 7 and going to take on the Pup. 

And that she did....but first the toughest part. Waiting and standing around while mama and the other Salty Pup coordinators marked, chipped, and gathered the other 80 Salty Pup kiddos (ages 6 to 15) in order while watching the 200+ adults start before them in the pool. 

Mackie was (almost) the last swimmer in the water, as the youth entered oldest to youngest. She started off the 100-meter swim great, going immediately into one of her stronger strokes - the breaststroke - and then flipping over on her back for the final 50 meters.

It was then off to transition and the bike area, where daddy (who was helping mama coordinate the Pups) helped her with shoes and bike helmet. She was off - but almost instantly became confused and was turned around, going the opposite direction and heading toward the run turn-around area. We later found out that she went about an extra 1/2-mile or so in the confusion (in a normally 4.2-mile leg), stopping and just waiting for a volunteer to help her turn around. 

Post-race we told Mackie we were proud of her pushing through and that these types of things happen. (Mama also made a mental note to make sure that "tricky" corner was covered with a volunteer next year so it didn't happen to someone else!). 

After going longer on the bike, little miss hopped off her bike and headed out to the 1-mile run, which eventually led her to the finish line. 

It warmed this mama's heart to see her blonde-headed ponytail and long legs and arms bounce through the finish line, all smiles and giggles. Immediately after the race she told Jack she was ready to train for next year (slow down, baby girl!). 

We are oh-so proud of our Mackie-girl...for pushing through when things didn't go her way during the race...and for persevering and being patient with the up-down-up-down decisions of whether or not she was able to compete as her body healed from the fever earlier in the week. 

It was fun cheering on her and the fellow Salty Puppers, as well as some of our favorite Salty Dog (adult) competitors, including Papa Jimmy, who won 2nd in the 60+ age division. What a treat to have a Salty Dog competitor in the family in the oldest age group, and a Salty Pup competitor in the youngest age group. 

We're excited to take on the Dog/Pup next year! Jack already tells me that after helping me with coordinating duties for years, he's ready to compete as a participant again, and I'm eager to help coordinate the kids triathlon again. It's much simpler than coordinating the entire event! ;)

The family that swims/bikes/runs together.....