Sunday, November 24, 2013

Finisher!! And a few personal lessons along the way

One of the things on my DC bucket list was to run the Richmond half-marathon. Last year I was registered with three good friends and ended up injuring myself in October and unable to run for weeks... so therefore no race in mid-November.

This year I was planning on running it as well. A few friends registered back in June but I held off... for some reason it just didn't feel right to register! Well, then I go and injure my knee in late June and couldn't run again until mid-August. I thought about signing up then, but again, didn't feel right. Well, good thing because then I injure my foot in October and was out for another 2.5 weeks. (It's been a crazy year for injuries!) So, I thought that was the reason... but then I was running again in the beginning of November. Nothing more than 3 miles, but I was still cross training on the elliptical... so not in terrible shape.

Well, a little over a week before the race, one of my friends emails all of us to say that she can no longer run it because she has a job interview that day. WOW - I was sooo tempted to run and take her place! I didn't tell anyone else, but I did let her know I was thinking about it.

Long story short... after wavering for days and days... literally, I did not decide to run it until three days before the race... I committed - FINALLY! I was wavering because some others backed out of the race, wasn't sure I wanted to spend extra money and stay in a hotel, wasn't sure I could get off work, etc. But, things feel together for me in unexplained ways. Beth just happened to be taking Friday afternoon off so she could be with the kids, Amanda was driving down and wanted someone to come with her, and Miranda's parents live just outside of Richmond and said we could stay at their house! It all just came together so well... I felt like I needed to do it!

The drive went really well. Perfect driving weather. No traffic. We got down there in less than 2 hours. It was fun to talk to Amanda. You learn so much about a person when you spend time in the car with them, and after 2 hours, I was SO glad to have had that time with Amanda! She's funny, insightful, smart, and down to earth. Also a good story teller!

Anyway, we went directly to the packet pick up. I was so glad Amanda was there because she was a PRO at knowing what to do and where to go. After we left there we had some time to kill, so we chatted in the car and then called two other friends coming down for the race and agreed to meet them for dinner. We still had even more time to kill so Amanda and I went to Miranda's parents house and were hoping that someone was there so we could drop our stuff off! There was one car in the driveway which we assumed was her mom's.... we were very surprised when the door opened and a sister missionary was standing there! Come to find out that the sister missionaries live there on the 3rd floor! Very awesome! So, we chatted with them and parted our separate ways for dinner :)

Amanda and I met our friends Jenny & Kristen at this Balkan restaurant that had rec'd fantastic reviews on YELP. I had no idea what Balkan food was but I was starving and new I needed to eat lots of carbs for the next day. I was pleasantly surprised at how yummy it was! And their specialized bread was fantastic! It's called Lepinja and looks like a flatbread - a pita bread, but on the inside it looks like a naan or something. Super Super YUMMY!!!

Here's a picture.
I didn't get this exact dish, but you can see the bread in it. The dish I got was a mixture of veggies, meat and a sauce that this bread just soaked up so well! Yum Yum Yum. I'll def be going back to a Balkan restaurant whenever I can!

We parted ways with our friends and headed back to Miranda's. It was only 8 PM, but I was exhausted! When we got to their house Miranda was talking to her cute mom in the living room so we sat to chat with them, but by 8:30 I was falling asleep in my chair. Off to bed I went and by 9 I was asleep!

Amanda is so great to go to races with because she is just prepared and helps you be prepared as well! She knew where we were going, what time to get up, leave, wear, etc. I was SO grateful for her!! Well, when her alarm went off at 5:30 AM, all I wanted to do was sleep! Fortunately I didn't ask her what the weather was like then, or I prob would have stayed in bed!

She's a morning person. I am not so much. But, got ready and out the door. Miranda's dad met us on our way out and said he hoped it would stop raining for our sake.

No -POURING was more like it
And, it was about 35 degrees... or that's what it felt like!
If it wasn't for Amanda I would have gone back inside and back to bed

But, Amanda's cheerfulness and optimism and persistence got me in the car and on to the race. She was patient with me, but encouraging. A CAN DO attitude! I waited as long as possible to get out of the car and got all ready. I've never ran a race with a hat/visor on, but in the rain, this was essential. So glad I had my "Relay for Life" one with me! Running with music is also essential. I thought of a few different options as to how I could run and protect my phone... and finally found the best option. I was set.

I was nervous. 13.1 miles is a long race for me. I was cold, already slightly wet (Amanda had given me an old foil wrap to stay dry and warm... if possible), and I hadn't trained for it. 

What the heck was I doing there???

Well, there's definitely proof that when you get people together and at least some of them are VERY excited, the excitement spreads to those who aren't so much! As I got to the race start and found my group of racers who hoped to finish in a certain amount of time... I started to feel their energy and lighten up a bit. I also got emotional thinking about how amazing we all were. All from different backgrounds, experience and lives, but yet we come together to test our bodies, our stamina/endurance, and to cheer on and support each other in our goals. I just LOVE that about humans! I love when people come together for a common purpose and there isn't anything that divides that. I thought about how grateful I was that I was even at the starting line after all the injury and things I endured the past few months. I thought about how grateful I was that I had the desire to run, the ability to run, the opportunity to test my mind and overcome doubts, and the opportunity to pray to HF and say that I will do what I can... but I surely needed HIS help as well.

And, that prayer was answered. 

The course is the flattest EVER. That helped. I felt good. I felt really good. Music helped A LOT. I found a girl who challenged my pace, but not too much and I kept up with her. It rained a little in the race, but mostly held off. Glad I had my visor. It's a well organized race and lots of people cheering us on, etc. That helped. A LOT. 

Around mile 10, I knew I was pushing my old injury, and I should have stopped to walk, but I made the active choice to NOT and to keep going. I wanted to finish with good time. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. I wanted to prove to the Lord I could do it and could overcome my doubts and fears. I kept going. I slowed. I counted every tenth of a mile. 


I crossed the finish line and immediately said a prayer of gratitude while walking to the medical tent for some ice. I knew I needed to ice my foot asap. I got it and grabbed my blanket. Stretched and iced my foot... but then it started to rain. Pretty hard. I was already wet from sweat and my body was starting to cool in the cold temps... the rain did not help! I found shelter but then started to really get the chills. The blanket they gave us didn't help as it got wet too! I gave up on the ice and just tried to find Amanda so we could get out of there!

Long story short we did. Nice drive home and was glad to put on warm comfy clothes. Except for my foot, I felt fantastic!! Made me want to do more races... once I can find out what I keep doing wrong to injure myself!

So so so so grateful for Amanda. The Lord put her in my path for this one. And, so so so grateful for prayer and promptings of the Spirit. This one was a prompting over and over again and I tried to push it off, but so glad it stuck with me until I gave in!

I finished and I will cherish this metal. 

Not only for finishing, but for what it means for me in the larger scheme of things in my life.
I can do hard things.
I can overcome personal doubt and fear.
We are not on this earth to muddle through on our own.
I need to follow promptings of the Spirit the first time!
The Lord hears my prayers
AND HE answers them.
While I was running, my thoughts turned to the purpose behind the visor I was wearing. So many in this world suffer from trials much bigger than my own - cancer for example. Their strength, their optimism, and their courage gave me the strength, optimism and courage to push myself just a little bit longer and harder. I could do this. I could follow in their lead. I can overcome and do hard things!
 This picture was of the sunset in Richmond that Amanda and I took while driving to the Shurtleff's house. Such a pretty sunset. Just one more thing I am truly grateful for! The Lord's majesty and power... AMAZING!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Back on the horse again! Overcoming a fear.

 I fell of a horse when I was 11 or so, and have never gotten back on... until a few weeks ago. I had asked for the horse ride for my birthday and my dad had gotten it for me. My nanny, Chris, took me one day during the summer. It was just her, me and the trail guide. All was going along well till we were going along this semi-curvy path and I felt the saddle start to slip to the side. I think my horse was annoyed so she started to trot a little faster and then WHAM... the saddle rotated sideways and off I fell along with the saddle. To make it worse, my back fell right on to a raised rock and I got the wind knocked out of me. When I came to, I burst in to tears. The trail guide realized the strap had come undone on the saddle and broke. Chris tried her best to get me to calm down, but I was traumatized! We ended up walking the horses back to the barn and that was the end of me and horse riding.


I was at a dinner group in June and the subject came up. I was convinced I should give it a try again. Well, this summer I noticed a groupon for a one hr trail ride and mustered up the courage to try again! I emailed some friends and we set a date. It was the PERFECT fall day for a ride. Our drive out there was beyond pretty. I love the colors and smells of fall! And, so great to get out of the city too!

When we got there, we waited for the rest of our group to show up. It was us four, two moms and their kids, and two guides. I got on the horse first! The guide was from Argentina and he was pretty funny, but HE also said AFTER I got on my horse that I had chosen one that was pretty FEISTY! I almost made him get me off and on to a different horse, but I swallowed hard and tried to have a good attitude!

I looked down at my horse and told him to be nice to me :)

He was pretty! But, I held on tight! 
 Misty's ridden horses since she could walk. 
No fear from this girl!
 Our group just as we were starting off.  I had started in 2nd place, but my horse didn't like to stay in line, so we quickly got in to 2nd to last place. That was OK though. I liked watching everyone else!
 As I said, the day could not have been more gorgeous.
We really lucked out

 I kind of felt like I was playing the role of a horse back rider pretty well... or maybe even a cowboy rounding up the cattle.... except for the fact that we never went faster than a trot :)
 Needless to say I was proud of myself and my courage when we returned to the stable. I loved this picture that Catherine took with the rays of sun shining down as well!
 Can't say I'll ever have the desire to own a horse, or to ride one faster than at "trotting" pace, but I had a fun time and was glad to get over my fear of horseback riding!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Some fun times... and more bucket list items!

Well, in my last post I mentioned my "DC bucket list". One item on there was to see the BIG CHAIR in Anacostia. Easily done. Not in a great area, but there's not too much else to see either! Quick visit.
But, ta da! Here it is!
 Basically, a chair (sculpture?) that is 19 1/2 foot tall replica of a Duncan Phyfe model chair was  built in 1959 as a promotional ploy. On August 23-24, 2005, the chair was pulled apart with a backhoe and removed for restoration due to rot eating away at its legs and back.  On April 25, 2006 the current owners, Curtis Properties Inc., introduced a rebuilt version,  constructed from brown-painted aluminum.


I was so excited this football season because BYU was coming to play UVA in Charlotesville! Attendance was a must since I have not been to a game since I attended BYU! It was a hot & humid day in August, but Misty, Miriam and I had a fun drive down. On our way we got stuck in some traffic.  It was fun to see a car full of BYU fans every now and then. One time, we were stopped next to a car of guys and they said something to the effect of "How come all women who are BYU fans are HOT!" Ha ha! None of us in my car complained :) 

Charlottesville seems like a fun college town. We had lunch close by and then walked around the tailgating parties... but we were sweating just standing outside. It was SOO hot. We knew if we went in to the stadium and sat in our seats we would sweat even more, so we were fortunate to find a spot that had a little breeze. We then ran in to quite a few people from our stake! It was fun. 

When we got to our seats, we were in the VERY top row of the stadium! But, surrounded by cool BYU fans. Game started off well. I went to find my friend Robyn and we chatted for most of a quarter. I hadn't seen her since BYU so it was so much fun to meet her husband and her kids! After that quarter it looked like a storm was coming, so I went back to my seats, but on the way there they announced everyone had to evacuate the stadium for the storm. WHAT? 

Long story short... I (and many others) took shelter under the overpasses for an hour or so. I met some new people, but it was REALLY boring and uncomfortable. I also got a little wet and then started to get cold. When we were let back in to our seats, they started playing again, but then it just poured! CRAZY. At this point, I was pretty much done. Wet, cold and longest game ever. I watched on the TV monitors till the end of the 3rd quarter and then told Misty and Miriam I was going to the car. I found a trash bag and converted it to a poncho and walked to get it. Miriam and Misty stayed a bit longer, but then I drove to the stadium and picked them up. It was close, but BYU ended up loosing. Call me an undedicated fan or whatever... but I just didn't have it in me to stay till the end!

Fun day overall though :)
I am lucky to have such great friends and lucky to have been able to attend

The Circus came to town!
I used to go every summer with my dad and my brothers when I was little. I loved the stunts they would do. I loved their strength. I loved seeing the animals do tricks. I loved the laughter. I loved it all!

So, when I saw I had the chance to take the little girl I work for with me to the circus, I had to do it! Just me a her. A girl date. I didn't tell her where we were going, but she was game for it!


She's very in to gymnastics and acrobatics, but had never seen any part of a circus before. She also loved animals! When we arrived we found our seats, but one of the ushers asked us if we would like to move to the first row. HECK YES! If they had let us, we could have reached out and touched the horses and show dogs as they paraded by. Everyone was so close to us in the ring. The production was amazing. 


 I was just so impressed the whole time thinking about their CORE muscles and how buff they are. I am endlessly working on strengthening my core!.

 These guys were incredible!

 The whole thing was amazing. It's just remarkable to me what the human body is capable of doing!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Kayaking on the Potomac

I have this "bucket list" of things I want to do before I move from the area. While I don't have any plans to do so in the near future, one never really knows :) One of the items was to kayak on the Potomac River. A little searching on the Internet led me to a site that said I could go on a sunset kayaking tour of the monuments! Awesome!

I contacted a nanny friend of mine at the end of August and she was excited to come with me! She'd used these facilities before to go paddle boarding with her husband, but had never been kayaking. It turned out to be THE PERFECT evening and such a fun event!

As you can see they have quite a few kayaks. 
I've been before, but it had been many years.

Our group was prob about 30 people and 2 instructors. It took us a bit to get organized, but I was one of the first ones in a kayak so that gave me extra picture taking time!

I was so excited to kayak under a bridge I drove over AT LEAST 2 times every day for the past four years! I've yet to walk over it though! 
My kayaking companion... Jen

I love the colors of the sunset!
As we all kayaked along we chatted with some of our group members, but mostly just between us. Every now and then our guides would stop us and share some history of DC, the river, or the monuments. It was actually very informative and interesting!

Such a beautiful sunset. 
It was so peaceful and calm out on the river.
I just wanted the moment to last forever!
I tried to get artistic with this picture... 
by adding the end of my paddle in it :)
It was amazing how quickly the sun set!
The Coast Guard even came up to us to tell us to hurry up. You're not allowed to be on the river without a light if you're out after dark, so we paddled back quickly! It was such a wonderful evenings.

And one more check on my bucket list!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Fun adventures when it becomes "Camp Cara"

The last few weeks of August the kids didn't have any camp, so it became "Camp Cara". I went online and found something fun for us to do everyday! It's summer, but they were pretty tired of the pool so we went elsewhere!

This one was a BIG hit! It's probably the coolest mini-golf place around. Seriously... moving exhibits, water sprays, some scary, some funny. It was awesome. They also had batting cages, which everyone enjoyed!
Yes, these monkeys would swing back and forth :)

This Alligator would pop out every now and then and spray you!
The next day I took them to Baltimore. We went to the Babe Ruth museum and the Sports museum... something I knot both the boys would love. Ava enjoyed it too. As a matter of fact, so did I! Babe Ruth was pretty great. A legend. Made me think of "The Sandlot" which I also love :)
I then took them down to the harbor and we toured a very old ship. The kids learned about life on the ship and I was grateful I wasn't born in that time period and have the luxuries we do now. I don't think I would have lasted long on it!
So, the kids love Mexican and I do too. I went on Yelp and found the best restaurant in the area... little did I know it was located in a bit of a sketchy area... in the back of a Mexican grocery store. Def somewhere their parents would never take them, but we LOVED it. And, it was 100% pure authentic Mexican!! I had to get a picture outside of it.
One of my favorite shots with the twins.
Just as they're off to golf lessons :)
It was a very fun summer, but I was happy to get back in to a schedule and school!

Monday, November 4, 2013


Another birthday gift to myself was getting my hair highlighted and professionally done. 
I loved it!!
Expensive, but worth it :)

This led me to then getting my makeup done at the MAC counter and THEN also getting professional shots taken at the Jefferson Memorial in DC! I wore an outfit that Madison helped me find while we were on vacation in NH! The guy taking the photos was great and they were very reasonably priced!
I love this shot. It had been cloudy all day, but for a few minutes during the shoot, the sun came out (it was also evening time) and we got this one taken just before the sun went behind the clouds again!
Another favorite!
Oh - and one more :) I love my smile in this
OK - I'll just post them all. I loved my eyes in this one!

I look very mysterious in this one... complicated, even.
Well, maybe I am!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Family Vacation - Best week of my year Part 2

Tuesday - And the beautiful weather continues. Seriously, such a pretty place.

We usually had pretty relaxing, slow mornings. Played games, exercised, read, just enjoyed the company of each other. For lunch on Tuesday we decided to take the motor boat and ride to Meredith. Evan & family drove there after their girls woke up. The boat ride up there was so peaceful and pretty. The hoes we passed by on the water were also pretty incredible! We even went under this cute covered bridge

This picture was placed a little out of order, but I can't delete it because it's just too cute of Evan and little Mary.
Riley and Jace helping to navigate our trip to Meredith
Love this smile!
This sums up how I felt about the boat ride. Life's tough, right?!
Man, I wish I traveled like that to lunch every day!
In Meredith, Justin and Becca wanted to take a family picture, but Jace wasn't feeling quite up to it, so at least they got the three of them in it.
After lunch in this cute restaurant, we walked around town and stumbled across this gorgeous waterfall. Pictures in front of it were a must!

Right by the waterfall there was this very helpful sign telling us which direction to go in....
Then, back at the house in the evening, the three kiddies gather in front of the TV. Little Holland loved to just snuggle in next to Jace. She had no interest in what they were watching. She just wanted to be close to her cousin! So cute!
Wednesday morning - my birthday! How great and wonderful was it that the week that worked for us to all be on vacation also happened to be MY birthday!! Love that. Woke up to this beauty in the morning. With this, I knew it was going to be a great day!
Two months prior to my birthday, I had been sidelined with an injury (from running). I kept up with swimming and elliptical, but really wanted to run. A birthday present to me was that I did!! I ran just over a mile before realizing I shouldn't push myself too quickly. It made me so happy to be reunited with my running play list!
In the morning we went out on the boat. Yet another beautiful day!
Our awesome Captain!

Evan took Holland for a spin. 
She didn't like it.
But she loved her seat and her sunglasses!

Evan loved his ride though
I flew everywhere! 
I think this is the day I even fell off as I went over a wake. 
Well, for my birthday afternoon, I booked us at Monkey Trunks for some adventure! Some were more adventurous than others (like Riley), but all were good sports!

It took a little training, but fairly easy once you got the hang of it. The whole course required a lot of trust! And faith in your skills as well :)
Attractive gear, eh? 
For my birthday dinner, I got to choose the place. I chose the only Mexican restaurant in the area :) Fortunately it got good reviews! And, really, it wasn't too bad considering Mexican isn't very popular in  New England.  We had to help my dad figure out the menu. Mexican isn't something he eats very often :) But, he did have the waiters surprise me by coming to sing to me and I got to wear this awesome hat!
Kind of matched my sweatshirt!
The next day we went all the way across the lake to the town where Mitt Romney supposedly has a place (drawing a blank on the name of the town). BUT, Riley got to be our captain for a bit and he did a great job!
This was probably the HOTTEST day of the week. 
We all had to get ice cream!
Cousins... Holland loved having someone to play with!
She also loved wearing daddies big sneakers!
On Friday it rained. That was OK though. We all needed a day to just chill in the house, relax, play games and such. Riley taught us some magic tricks too! While Justin and Evan took the boat back in the rain, Madison and I went shopping! She has such a great taste in clothes and helped me pick out a couple of outfits I could wear in the fall (and have already done so a number of times!) She also found these shoes. And, while they are a bit bright, I actually like them! Maybe a splurge... but a girl needs that every now and then, right?!
Happy Birthday to me!! This week was honestly the best ever. I LOVE my family. They bring me so much joy and happiness. I wish we could have stayed together longer, but I guess that's what also makes the times we are together so special.