Wednesday, February 27, 2013

My Nana

Yesterday, my Nana died.

I don't know how old she was, but she was old and her body had given out on her.

When I think about who she was, I can't help but to smile. She was a feisty old lady with a heart of gold. She was very opinionated and she liked to talk a lot ( is genetic!).

During football season, she'd get so worked up about Auburn football that on Saturday nights, she wouldn't be able to sleep at all.

Up until she was no longer able, every Wednesday she did a "tape" ministry with her church. I never had any idea what this was except that it had something to do with cassette tapes and visiting shut-ins. She never missed it.

She kept an immaculately clean house. No finger prints on the fridge and no vacuum marks in the carpet. She would take a broom and sweep the carpet after she vacuumed so there weren't any marks in the carpet. Once I asked her, "Nana, why would you do that? How is anybody supposed to know you vacuumed if you can't see the vacuum lines?" and she told me that she lived by herself and she didn't care if anybody knew that she had vacuumed.

She was known all over the community for her beautiful yard with the white picket fence. She had beautiful azalea bushes and incredible dogwood trees. We always took our Easter pictures at her house in her front yard and every year, she'd have my dad and my uncle go hide a huge garbage bag full of eggs so that the four of us grandkids could go hunt them.

She was also known as the wart lady. She had magical voodoo powers (well that's what I called it) that could remove warts. She would take a potato, cut it in half, rub the potato all over your warts, and then plant it in her garden. In a couple of weeks, the warts would be gone. My momma took half my cheerleading team over to her house once so she could work her magic on all my friends.

She was very strong in her faith and every day she read her Sunday School lesson out of a little book. She kept it right beside her monthly copy of Southern Living.

She collected tea pots and bird houses.

She also had a big, breakable rooster in her dining room. I asked her once why she had a big ol' chicken in her dining room and she told me it wasn't a chicken, it was a rooster, and she thought it was pretty.

She told stories of my Papa Louis and stories of when she worked at Flowers Bakery.

She wore sweat suits and white Keds during the winter, and seersucker pants outfits during the summer. To church, she always wore a suit, a beautiful necklace, and a butterfly broach. She has two display frames of them in her room. I was always fascinated by her butterflies. I wore one pinned inside my wedding gown as my something borrowed, although, I'm pretty sure I never gave it back.

She was stubborn and hard-headed. She was kind and she was loving.

She always had candy and enjoyed having visitors.

She loved her brothers and sisters and talked to them often.

She makes the best chicken-n-dressing you'll ever have.

She never missed an occasion to give a card to someone. When Ansleigh was a baby (a mere two months old) she sent her a Valentine's card with a $5 bill in it and told me to buy that baby some chocolate.

She forced me to learn how to make macaroni and cheese when I was fourteen or fifteen because I needed to learn to do something for myself (she was right, I did need to learn).

She was a wonderful grandmother. She helped take care of us when we were sick, called us, kept the family together, and remembered us, even when we were too busy to remember her.

I'm sure she is much like every other grandmother in the world, except to me, she is different. She's my Nana. I am so thankful that she is not suffering anymore, but I will miss her dearly. Life will not be the same without her, but we are all better people for having known her.

Monday, February 25, 2013

13.1--I did it!

This weekend I completed my first half marathon.

You may remember almost a year ago, I posted that I was determined to do it as part of my weight loss goal.

Side note: I haven't posted in a while about where I am now with my goal to lose the weight. Addisyn will be one in a few weeks and I am at the goal weight I set for myself (137 pounds). I've been there since October-ish. I gained some weight over Thanksgiving an Christmas (about 8 pounds) but I'm back down. I do have what I have always called an unrealistic goal weight and I'm about 10 pounds shy of that. Maybe I can get there this summer when I have more time.

I did great all summer training. I started with the Couch to 5K app and loved it. Once I completed that, I downloaded a half marathon training app made by the same makers and used that. Once school got back into swing, my running became less frequent, and eventually, I was only doing my long runs because something was always coming up during the short runs where I couldn't do them. Some were legitimate reasons and some were just excuses. In January, I did The Color Run in Orlando. While I was running, my knee really started bothering me. I stayed off it a week and then did 10 miles. After that, I was miserable. I finally got it checked out and I have I.T. Band Syndrome. Basically what that means is that my I.T. band is too tight and it creates friction in my knee when I run, which causes irritation, which feels like someone is jabbing a knife in my knee and twisting every step I take. Since then I have stayed off of it a lot and just done some short runs here and there, mostly on the treadmill where I thought there would be less impact.

I'm pretty sure I caused the knee problem myself by not training accurately. Now, I just need to do the stretches and exercises needed to help it get better and then, I'm going to train correctly.

The Trip:
We went over to Disney on Saturday morning. The Health & Fitness Expo was at the Coronado Springs Resort. You couldn't park there and had to park at Downtown Disney and take a bus. Rather than drag the kids over there, my awesome hubby entertained them at Downtown Disney while I went over to the expo. I expected long lines but by the time I got there, it wasn't bad at all. There were tons of people there but I walked right up and got my race number and my race shirt. I waited a long time (close to an hour maybe) in line to go through the official runDisney store. I also scored my hunny a pair of limited edition runDisney New Balances (last pair in his size!) but was sad they didn't have my size. After the expo we went over to Hollywood Studios for the day to catch the newest version of the Disney Junior show. I tried not to walk too much (a mere five miles, which is nothing compared to what we usually do) and went back and checked in to the hotel (All Star Sports). They got us a preferred room (close to the lobby and on the bottom floor) so I'd be close to the bus pick up.

My sweet hubby and kids chased me all over during the race, and afterward, we checked out of the hotel and went to Magic Kingdom for the day where we ended up walking about 10 miles (on top of the 13.1 that I did yesterday morning). Needless to say, I'm pretty sore and tired today.

I saw a picture of a sleeping beauty running costume on Etsy and it was ridiculously expensive but it didn't look that hard to make. I had the running skirt and I had the tank top already so my amazing mother took what I had and made it into an even better one than the one I saw. She is awesome! :) Thanks, Mommy!

Do you have to wear a costume? No, not at all. Did a lot of people have them on? I'd be willing to say that most people had some kind of costume on, even if it was just Minnie ears. Even a lot of the thousand or so guys that ran had costumes on. :) They were good sports!

The Race:
I barely slept the night before (which almost always happens to me). I woke up at 2:30 and got up at 2:45. I got on the bus around 3:00 where I started sipping a gatorade, ate half a banana, and took some tylenol (for the knee). I got to Epcot and the runner's area around 3:30 am. I took pictures with Princess Jasmine and Princess Ariel and then stood around until my corral was called to go line up.
I had a few friends running, but none running with me. It would have been better and a little easier if I'd had someone with me, but it was still a blast! There were 26,000 other runners there!

Once they call your corral (I was next-to-last!), you walk about 20 minutes away through the secret hidden spots of Disney to line up. I stood in my corral for a small eternity. I was worried because my feet were already hurting a little from the day before. At 6:17, my corral got to start. I was somewhere around two miles when the winner of the race passed us on her way back. She finished in 1:17!

I stuck to what I had  trained to do which was run 4 minutes, walk 1. I could have done more but I was really worried about my knee. My plan was one of those, "Slow and steady finishes the race" sort of things. I took some spray Icy Hot with me and continually hosed myself down as aches and pains popped up. My knee did eventually start bothering me around mile 7 but that was much better than I expected.
I started seeing characters around the 3 mile mark. The first ones I saw were all the princes (even Mulan's!) and Captain Jack Sparrow with a big pirate ship. I didn't stop because the lines were about 30 people deep and I wanted to get a good jump on the sweepers (the people who will pick you up if you are behind pace). We got to Magic Kingdom around mile 5 or so and as we were coming through the parking lot I saw my sweet husband there with my two little girls. Ansleigh wanted them to both have on Sleeping Beauty because that is what I was dressed like. Ansleigh was holding up a sign she'd made that said "Go Mommy!" and had princess stickers all over it. It was just what I needed to remind me that I was not alone.

Running through Magic Kingdom is amazing. Seriously amazing.  Gaston was out, Belle was out, and Prince Mickey and Princess Minnie were there too. The castle creates a HUGE bottle neck and it was impossible to run or even walk fast until you were well out of the castle.

From there, I just kept chugging along. Disney has people set up all along the way with people cheering you on, music blasting, medical tents (with ice, tylenol, and biofreeze), lots of water and powerade, and they make it easy to keep going. I passed Villian characters, Mulan, and a ton of other characters (and photo op stops) but I never stopped. Especially on the back half of the run because I was hurting and I was afraid if I stopped, I'd never start back or I'd lose what little momentum I had.

My husband was awesome. He got up early, got the kids dressed, and chased me around. He was watching my gps location from his phone and when I started slowing down some, he'd send me the sweetest text messages checking on me, asking how I was doing, motivating me, and once, he even texted me a picture of the finish line telling me I could do it! Each time I got a text from him, it was the exact moment I needed it. He will never know how much that meant to me.

I never looked at my runkeeper app with my pace. I knew I couldn't set a time goal for myself because my knee was so unpredictable. I just wanted to finish. Every book or article you read about running distance running tells you that your first race, your only goal should be to finish and have fun that that is what I did. My split times sucked (I checked them this morning) and I averaged a 13 minute mile. Am I happy with that? No, but I did what I needed to do to be able to finish. My time wasn't good (3:11) but I finished. A year ago, I thought I was setting an impossible goal and I did it. 13 miles is a LONG way and a lot of people never have the courage to try. I will not diminish my accomplishment because my time wasn't good or because I was slow or because I walked some. Of the 26,000 something people that ran, only 21,000 finished and I was 14,000 something in overall finish so I was still faster than 7,000 people! :)

The race was a blast and a blur. I told my husband that it was the shortest, longest three hours of my life. It seems like it went by so quickly and it is all kind of a blur, but in the moment it felt like an eternity. I honestly thought I'd never get to the finish line. When I did, I choked up a bit. It seems silly that I'd cry at the finish line, but I couldn't believe I had done it. Did I do it well? No, but I did it.

The Future:
Do I plan on doing another half marathon? Crap, yes! It was fun and now, I want to be better. I am going to slow down a bit and let me knee stop hating me. I'm going to do a couple of 5k's. Then, I'm going to train correctly over the summer and fall. Hubby and I are going to do the Disney Wine & Dine half marathon in November. He has started training too :) and wants to do the Disney Marathon and eventually the Goofy Challenge. I also want to do the Coast-to-Coast challenge. I want to run the Tinkerbell Half at Disneyland and then the Princess Half (again) at Disney World. I doubt I can come up with enough money to do both next year. I also would like to do the Princess Half with a friend that I've trained with and someone that we can stay together the whole time because honestly, that was the hardest part--not having someone beside to you talk to and cheer you on and share the experience with you.

Anyone want to join me in the Coast-to-Coast challenge? I promise I can run a little faster that what I did! :)