Sunday, December 4, 2011

My First Marathon

Boy Oh, Boy Oh Boy!!  Sitting to write this while it is fresh on my mind. 

I'm going to start with the boring, runners stuff ;)
I purposefully ran "slowish" the first 13.1.  Holding just under a 9:45 min. pace.  I wanted to make sure I had some left for the second 13.1 without Mike.  My plan was to speed up to 9:15 pace the whole second half.   I felt TERRIFIC at 13.1! And continued to feel that way for another hour. Somewhere around 18 is when I started having to pay close attention to not dropping below a 9:50 or 10 min. pace to finish under my 4:30 goal.  See, around that time everyone around you is slowing down, walking , stopping to stretch out cramps, or even just stopping period, etc. So when you feel like you're rolling because you are passing everyone, you are not. From the time I was at 18- the end,  only about 2-5 people passed me. So, where was my "wall" ? it wasn't at 20 like everyone says. Mine was at 24! With only 2 miles to go, I slowed to a 10:30 pace. My lower body didn't want to move as fast as my mind wanted it to.  The second half was very hilly and windy! And of course when you were going uphill it was also against the wind!  With .2 to go, I found UMMPFF to pick it up strong to finish in Autozone.  Finished with a 9:58 average pace, 4:21 total finish. I was the 279th woman out of 1,071 women who completed the Full.

So, now the mental and emotional side of the whole day. The first half was simply put...Fun! Mike and I found my Uncle at mile 2 and we all ran together until 8. What an amazing course to run! After your first hill you come upon the first large crowd of spectators as you run down Beale Street, and immediately followed by a percussion band of young guys and Riverside Drive , and then St. Jude campus around mile 4. That stretch makes the entire 3 months of training well worth it for any runner.  Simply put. It's amazing.  We definitely had a giant lump in our throats during the stretch.  You feel a part of something big. The families aren't just monotonous in there cheers. They are genuine and personal.  We saw my younger cousin cheering there, an added bonus. Then, the nice stretch down North Parkway and the even prettier through Overton Park.  At mile 10 we saw my other 2 cousins, where we proudly told them that their Dad was not too far behind us.  At 12, the full keep on going and the half turn to finish. I had mentally prepared myself for this. Knowing I was on my own for the rest. And..that I was only half way.  The first tears of the day came out of my (and Mike's) eyes as I told Mike to go finish strong and we said our I love you's. Mike had been fighting a quadricep cramp since the 11 mile marker. And he told me to do awesome. (Interlude he is the best man in the wide world!)  As I ran through miles 13-16, I was feeling great. I picked up my pace a bit knowing I had everything like breath and hydration under control.  Around 14, I saw a couple of my friends along this part and that was awesome. Having loved ones along the way truly helps!  Many of the signs put a lump in your throat. "Run for Jake", "Pain is weakness leaving the body", "Run because (she) can't.  The crowd support of this race is extraordinary.  Complete strangers making eye contact with you , telling you you're doing great, an truly meaning it.   So now we are at 17-22. This part of the course is heading North on East Parkway. The side of the road we are on in slanted, not flat and gradual up hill.  I still felt good though, as I said above. And this is where I realized I was going to finish! And most likely at my goal time!  As long as I kept that pace or slightly slower.  When I had 5k left, I still felt OK. I was in rhythm, and mentally there.  At mile 24, I had a change.  My body was not striding like my mind wanted it too. When I walked to drink my sips of water at stations, it was a task to start back up again. So, I did not stop at the 25 water station.  For 24.5-26.2 , I had to dig every bit as deep as I did to deliver my Kade drug free. If not more.  At 25, I looked at my watch and actually thought to myself...' I COULD walk this mile to 26 and STILL come in under 4:30'.   So, I walked a few steps. Then, I told myself what I tell my clients all of the time.  "Just do it. Don't think about it. Go!" And picked t back up to a run.  I saw my great friend, Laura, at 26. Her energy gave me energy. I am thankful for her presence on the course for sure! And then , I was there. Sharp turn into Autozone park and crossed the finish line. A girl who I have taught dance to for over 10 years+, and her mom, were who gave me my blanket. That was very special.   You would think that you have all kinds of ...ohhhh I just ran a marathon ....thoughts and emotion. But...your mind is actually shut off.  At least mine was.  I was happy, don't get me wrong. Just not basking in glory yet. That came after about an hour when my muscles stopped burning.    I sure was glad to be DONE! Immediately after crossing the finish and getting my picture taken,  I sat on the field for a couple minutes to stretch and sit for the first time in over 4  hours. The first clear thoughts that I remember from immediately are that I want to be a volunteer next year instead of a runner.  I want  to experience that event from that perspective as well . I think I am a good cheerleader! Next, came walking up to my family.  I sure did feel those stairs! Some pain did set in. More than I expected.  I was overcome with joy to see my family  . I am so very glad and thankful  that they were able to be there.  

It is definitely one of those challenges in life where in hindsight, it wasn't that bad! You start thinking of all the ways you could have done better. Don't get me wrong, I am proud of my 4hr 21 min finish , but being who I am, I feel that I could have changed strategy around mile 20 and finished better.  But I can only assume that is how every athlete feels after an event of this caliber.

You might think that on this day, the day after running my first marathon, with very sore leg muscles, that I would not want to think about running again anytime soon. Wrong! Notice I titled this, 'My FIRST Marathon'! I trained the right way in my book and would like to help myself and others feel the feeling of accomplishment again that comes on this day.  And most importantly ,uninjured. Far too many run these races injured or injure themselves during. My muscles are quite sore; they carried me 26.2 miles. But they are not broken.  Along with other phases of my career, I want to help runners train and race free of injury.  I truly know that my  training being a comprehensive plan of strength training, dance (cross training), stretching, and running is a winning one. And that marathon running is mostly overall fitness and willpower, not how long or how much you actually run.  My husband, Mike successfully running two half marathons this year with respectable times and uninjured is another testament to this as well. We each ran at most 70% of our race mileage, which is common in Europe ( I trained to 18.5 and he trained to 10).

So, wrapping this up.
I will go back to my prequel blog.
Why? and the answer is still, Why not? There are so many in this world that can't. We should all do it for them . Do it for the funds raised during.  This event of 13,000 runners raised almost 4 million dollars. Amazing . And guess what? That will run St. Jude for almost two days. It takes almost 2 million a day to keep their doors open. To save lives everyday like they do.  Let us all be thankful for our health and our families' health. Let us all go out of our way to help those who are not healthy and do not have healthy families.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

First, this morning I am thankful that I gave my Bootcampers the day off and was able to wake up two hours later than any other Thursday of the year.  :)
What stands out the most in my mind this morning was reinforced with a baby's tee shirt that I just came upon on Pinterest. ( this quiet morning has allowed for me to discover Pinterest) It said, "I am why we can't have nice things".  That's it right there... I am thankful that my "nice things" are the 3 most amazing people in the whole wide world.  I am thankful that our lifestyles allow for us to teach our boys to dream and reach big but keep each day and hour simple.  Yesterday, we made their "what I am thankful for" turkeys.  Pierce's first feather was "Kade".  Kade's first feather was "Pierce".  Without a second of thought, they were first thankful for each other.  Next Kade said, "wood".  Of course I LOL'd! "Kade, why wood?" As I wrote it on his next feather he said, "We wouldn't have our house without wood, Mom!".  They continued their feathers with "Mom, Dad, everyone, Pinella, and Oliver, and toys".  But the top two warm my heart and remind us it's what holds the home together, not the house...that really counts. 
We must look into the future, and teach our children to do the same.  However, more importantly I think we should try to live in the moments that make up each day, so that when we get to the future, we have less regrets of being preoccupied while living our lives.  Kids teach us that, and sometimes that's why we lose our patience with them . They are just living in the moment and being thankful for  the simple things like wood and toys  ;)

Friday, November 18, 2011

MMMmmmmmarathon Prequel ;)

A lot of my job as a personal trainer, and group fitness instructor is helping my clients find ways to "heart and mind over matter" whatever the obstacle at hand is. We can all be just a little bigger and stronger than anything that lies in our way as long as we think we can.  I do owe a lot of this- sounding like an old inspirational CD on repeat- to my Mom. She is the one that helped me chant, "I think I can", as I did anything that was difficult for me from as far back a I can remember. As I grew into a pre-teen and she was still trying to make us all sing, "I am woman, hear me roar" while trying to put up a tent together....It all became corny and cheesy to me.  And there were definitely times, even a short ago as when I was in labor with my two boys, that I wanted to throw something at her head for being SO positive when I felt SO low.  But ya know worked!! Always.. "it" works.  Being "glass half full" will always accomplish more than "glass half empty".   For the next two weeks and one day, I will think of and repeat to myself every positive, inspiring, motivational saying that I have heard from my Mom or anywhere else in my 28 years.
Maybe tomorrow I will not feel this nervous. This week, I have been very nervous about my morning on Dec. 3rd. I know my body is strong, which I am so very thankful for. I know I WILL cross the finish line and get my medal.  I also KNOW it will be hard! The running books, blogs, etc. are right one thing for sure... Marathon training is every bit as much for your mind as it is for your body.  Three, Four, heck maybe even 5 hours of running is a long dang time!
So...why do it?  to make a long answer short...  Why Not??!!
I think life challenges keep us human, humble, and limitless.
I sure hope I finish as strong as my Pierce can!! ;)

Friday, September 30, 2011


So, why the quotation marks? Here is why...
The thing that I have really come to realize over the past month is that now that we are homeschooling, life is... not much different than it has been for the Hills leading up to August. Our time spent working on Language, Math, etc just now has a LABEL. It used to be "lets work on our words or numbers " and now it is "let's do our school work" as far as the time sitting down at the desks or the tables. ( the desks that Santa built for the boys have now proved awesome!) And there is also so much education going on away from the desks and tables as well, (i.e. our outings, sports,  and Art class)  that now are respected more as a double activity. Fun and Education.
THIS is where our little family belongs. 200% we know this. Both Kade and Pierce have blown my mind in the past month of what they are learning and retaining. And doing it together is all the more rewarding.

Thank You so very much to everyone who has supported us. We appreciate your love and acceptance.  Just a short blog today that I did not proof read. Just wanted to let you all know we are LOVING our decision to educate at home. :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My Baby Boy is 4!!!

When you are pregnant for the first time and when you are in the infant months of your first baby, all of the "old farts" around you are constantly telling you how quickly time goes by and they are grown in the blink of an eye. It takes you experiencing that "where has time gone" to know exactly what all the "old farts" are talking about.
Where did four years go???!!!
I know where...
It went to every day of our lives being more and more fun, rich, and blessed. 
I remember it like it was yesterday...Sept. 13th 2007. Waking up at the exact same time of morning that I had with Pierce, 5:00am. Knowing what I felt were contractions, I excitedly got up and got in the shower thinking how amazing our day was about to be, not waking Mike until about 6:00am.  We called Mike's mom to come over; she was designated to keep Pierce at home until it drew closer to time. Everyone was smiles from ear to ear. Pure excitement vs. nervousness like the first time around when you are scared out of your wits.  I should have been scared out of my wits though. For this go round my goal/plan was to have Kade 100% drug free. And I did.  But we will get to that :)
At the hospital, the nurses station told me I was too happy to be in labor and I probably would be sent home.  They were wrong. I was in active labor by about noon.  Mike and I walked up and down the halls over and over again trying to keep me progressing well. And, it's what I wanted to do.  Finally, around 2:00pm the pain was enough to make my smile go away so we stayed in the room. ( so those nurses wouldn't see me frown!! I win!!) And let the family know they could head up to the hospital. Props to them for keeping our 21 month Pierce entertained for the next 3 hours. 
As the pain grew stronger and stronger, I became more and more emotional. I wanted Pierce in the room with us but didn't want him to see me in pain or cry.  I did a lot of rocking back and forth on the birthing ball ( yes it's an ab ball) while my incredible husband held my shoulders. Going back to Pierce and Kade's births now, I look at them as endurance challenges Mike and I took on together :) He is Mr.Calm. Anyone want to borrow him for L and D? At this point I was still staying strong and confident in my decision to do this with no epidural.
I love my Dr. so much. She let me know it was about to get tough by dimming the lights and giving me her calming eye contact frequently. My sister, Mom, and Mother in Law joined us in the room This was at about 4-4:15.  The next 45 minutes were very, very dark. It was the most pain this body has ever felt. Nervous eyes of my family looked at me with love and awe. Mike did everything in his power to make me comfortable. This is where the "What the Hell was thinking?" set in. And as our midwife told us I would, I started begging for that epidural. And as he was instructed to do, Mike looked at me and sternly, yet lovingly said, "This is what you want, you can and will do this".  So, I made everyone in the room shut up, and dug deeper in my soul than I ever had before to make it through transition (8-10cm).  When I told my Dr. I thought it was time, she believed me and I got off the ball and onto the bed.   Once I got up onto the bed, Kade was born and in a few short minutes. It was 5:05pm.  Immediately all of my pain was gone and complete euphoria set it. Every thought and feeling was, and still is, so clear in my mind because I didn't have anything in my body to make things foggy like they were when I had Pierce when I did have a epidural. ( If I had to do it all over again, I would still choose natural.) My big 8 and a half pound baby boy,  Kade Joseph,  was here, healthy,  and I had survived.  Within a  half of an hour I was up, walking, nursing, and we were introducing him to his big brother, Pierce. It was love at first sight with those two.  Even at just 21 months old, Pierce showed pride in his new best friend. No words to describe your first born meeting your second born, watching those two miracles look at each other.  

Everything at the hospital went great, Mike stayed with us the first night, and Britt (who had drove all the way to Memphis after hearing I was in labor) stayed with us the second night. Coming home with 2 boys was surreal. Those are the kind of scenes you picture in your head but when they happen, they far exceed your expectations. Pierce and Kade have a bond like no other. They love to the max and yes, fight to the max. Not many things as a parent are more rewarding than seeing your children love each other deeply, and show pride in each other.  When Kade got on his bike and rode it without training wheels this summer, Pierce looked like he was going to explode with pride and joy.  Kade was a true and through #1 fan at Pierce's first Triathlon. Never once asking when it was his turn. Just genuinely happy for his big brother. 
offering his baby bro a bite ;)

Kade, my headstrong little lover. I love you more than you will ever ever know in your lifetime. Thank you for making our world even more amazing!

 Happy Happy Fourth Birthday Kade Joseph !!!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Home Based Private Education

Well, here we go! Something I have been wanting to do for a year or so, I am finally doing. A personal Blog.  It always feels good to make a "check mark" huh?
So, what made me finally feel like it was time to do a personal blog? Well, having time too for one, I no longer am as much as a taxi service. We, as the Hill family, came to the decision to provide a home based education for our two boys.  Since then, there has been the expected "why" from so many. Not a judgemental "why" but a curious "why". My cousin, Ryan, put it the best...It's like asking a Geologist, "What made you decide to become a geologist?" That isn't a "normal" profession...
So, now to start the long, involved answer:
First, anyone reading this, please do not feel like I am saying this way is the only way. Most importantly, parents know what is best for their children. I am by no means trying to criticize other ways of educating children.  This was not a hasty decision at all. Nothing "happened".  We have talked about this since our oldest was born. Over the past 5 years, I continued to always to research it and ask questions to anyone I knew in the community partaking in home based education.  Somewhere halfway through four-year-old Preschool, we started just going with the flow of ours and Pierce's peers, that "going to Kindergarten" would be the next progression. Pierce started to get excited about all the hype everyone around him was exuding. So what were we to do...not let him try something he was getting excited about? Maybe.
Here, I will back up to Pierce around the ages of 2 and 3. Before starting  3 year old Preschool he had all Phonics down pat and was reading many, many words. By that summer he was ready for sight words and started 4 year old Preschool reading full sentences and soon full books. He started reading us books at night.  This was all from us just simply enjoying sitting down at home with him. He LOVED those times and I saw no reason to slow down as he obviously progressed further and further ahead of his peers/grade level. And Kade, he is on the same path. He will be four next month and reads non sight words remarkably well. We will finish all the Phonics with Kade before moving on to sight words to complete sentences. The younger brother has definitely learned by simply being present.  Seeing the K year curriculum, we just knew...not that he would be "bored" (because I do believe that the teachers do a great job of keeping them engaged throughout the day) but just definitely in repeat mode the whole year.  So, now that I have sounded like I am bragging, I will move back to the above.
For whatever reason, that only God knows, something "clicked" in Mike and I a few days into Kindergarten.  We had just done the very first thing as parents that was against our "gut". It was a horrible feeling to feel. Do not get me wrong...Pierce is a very adaptable child who did love going to elementary school. But that's just Pierce, he loves and gets excited about people and the world in general. All of the detailed reasons started coming to the front of our minds and we knew we were drawing closer to having the confidence to proceed to what we knew what was right for our children.  Again, right for OUR children.
Fact: TN sate law requires four hours of school. And that includes the specials like P.E., Art, etc)  Many private schools do K and 1 as a four hour day.
I wanted those other 3 hours!!! (they go to school for 7 hours)  I wanted my Pierce to be my Pierce, not the Zombie that I picked up in the 45 minute car line every day.  ( Kade was not a happy camper heading out to the car line by the end of week two. "Mom, we sit in the car waiting for a Million minutes!") Let them be Little...why does a 5 year old go the same hours as a 18 year old? Again, just my opinion.
Pierce now has the light still left in him  when Daddy gets home. He now can continue Spanish and Bible parallel to reading, writing , and arithmetic, science, and social studies, all tailored to his needs. They now can eat, drink, bathroom ,and break whenever need be. Yes, those are the little things. But the little things count a lot to us.
Mike and I have seen and experienced the pride and joy coming from our children as the learn to write there name legibly for the first time, sound out a word for the first time, and add/subtract for the first time. I don't want that to stop! Maybe selfish, but I don't want to miss out on those "getting it for the first time" expressions on their faces that are oh so precious and priceless.
We know exactly how Kade learns and exactly how Pierce learns like the back of our hand. They learned to read the same, they learned to write differently. They learned potty training the same, they learned riding a bike and swimming differently.  We are their parents... we know them the very best! As does any parent.
Seeing the world:
We feel all of our experiences thus far at museums, zoos, gardens, traveling, etc. are extremely important learning experiences that feel like sheer fun to everyone. They never leave any of those places without a new fact or ten! And they retain it! With family time, sports, and fun, those outings fall to the bottom of the totem pole when M-F is strictly taken up with the 7-8 hour school day.
So now, the transition into and then out of Bon Lin in two weeks hard on Pierce? Not at all!! He literally is Mr. Adaptable.  He knows he will still see all of his friends, and get to spend the whole day with his best friend, Kade. Pierce will continue in the same basketball team, etc. Not much of their world is changing. Both wake up every morning eager to know what they will learn next. Kade more than ever! Pierce really enjoys helping Kade.  Now for Kade, he had also started 4 year old Preschool mid-August. The first day Pierce stayed home, he wanted to as well and it just did not feel right sending him if he didn't want to go.  He looked me straight in my eye and said, "Mom, I want to learn to count to 100 today at home". Done deal, Kade.  We will take their eagerness to learn, hold it tight,  and run with it.  The past three days have felt 100% natural. Natural is best I can describe it. We are all in such a great place.
I not only obviously love my kids, but I really like them too! They make me a better person spending the days with them. They are very cool little humans, that won't be little for long!
Sheltered? Maybe a little. They have been on this Earth a whole 5 and 3 years. I think that is OK.  These two have had and will continue to have more rich life experiences everyday.
Socially Awkward? Um have you met them? Or their Parents? ;) 
I certainly know everything will not always be easy. It will be a challenge at times. But for now, we know this is what is best for the Hills. And if you know us, you know we have always taken life one day at a time since we became "The Hills".