Archive | September, 2011

Race Recap: Crescent Moon Sprint Tri

18 Sep

Well, I ended up doing the triathlon. Travis convinced me that it would be more fun if I did it with him than if I just watched. And I went on a short run Friday after work and felt almost normal, although a little bit more tired. So I went for it.

We got up around 5 and left the house by 5:30. We arrived at the race site a little after 6 and rode our bikes from the parking area down to the transition area, where packet pickup was. After we racked our bikes and put our stuff down, we picked up our packets and got body-marked.

The morning started off very pretty.

But by the time the swim started, it clouded over. It was upper 50s and cloudy/rainy all day.

Travis and I had plenty of time before the race to get our stuff set up, go to the bathroom several times, survey the swim course, note all of the transition exits (there was a different chute for each entrance/exit!), and run a decent warmup (me feeling very tired and sluggish!). I loved the feeling of not being rushed. I also had purposefully drank hardly anything that morning so that I would not have a repeat of Steamboat (in having to pee a lot). I had hydrated well the week before the race and figured the distance was short enough that I’d be fine.

Right after we got back from our last bathroom break, we took off our sweatshirts and sweatpants and headed down to the swim. Travis was in the first wave so he got in the water to warm up and pretty soon, he was off. I tried to keep track of him but lost him pretty quickly in the sea of yellow caps. I prayed for him to have a good swim, since I knew how nervous/unsure he had been about it.

After two more waves took off, I got in the water to warm up. I didn’t wear my wetsuit again but wished I had. Man, the water was cold! They said it was 69 degrees, 1 degree warmer than Steamboat. Well, someone measured wrong either at Cherry Creek or Steamboat because there is no way that Steamboat was colder than Cherry Creek. It probably didn’t help that it was only in the mid-5os outside. But I forced myself to put my head in and swim around a bit. It wasn’t enjoyable but I’d live.

As soon as the wave before mine left, I got out of the water and stood in line. Brrrr! I tried to control my flailing limbs while counting the seconds down until I could get back into the water and get moving.

Finally, it was time to go. It was a beach start and they had positioned a small buoy about 40 feet from shore that you had to keep on your right, to prevent people from running down the beach instead of actually swimming. The gung-ho swimmers in the front did the whole Baywatch thing into the water. I ran a bit, then walked to give the women ahead of me a chance to move out a bit before I started swimming. I’ was in no rush.

I made sure to settle into my swim pace right off the bat and breathe calmly – and it worked. The 750 meter swim was very uneventful. But I was glad to see the finish flags and finally be out of the water.

My feet were like ice cubes as I ran the long stretch up to transition. But I was pleasantly surprised that I had energy. When Travis and I had walked that section earlier in the morning, it had felt very hard to breathe. I had decided that I didn’t have to run up to transition. But after the swim, running up that part didn’t feel too hard.

Official Swim Time (including run to TA): 24:59

Unofficial Swim Time (not including run): 22:30 

Once in transition, I noticed Travis’ bike was gone. He had survived the swim! I rinsed off my feet, got my socks and shoes on and then took a little extra time to dry off and put on a long sleeve shirt. With the clouds, cool weather and being wet, I didn’t want to be cold on the bike. I grabbed my helmet, sunglasses and bike and off I went.

Official T1 Time: 2:56

I had been expecting my legs to feel weird like they had at Steamboat but they didn’t. I started off the bike feeling good. Around mile 1.5, I took a drink of my water and missed the bottle cage as I was attempting to replace it. So I had to get off my bike and go back to get my water bottle. There were no aid stations on the bike and I wanted my water bottle. Bah.

Back on the bike, I passed some people, a lot of people passed me. I pushed it up the biggest hill and decided that from there on out, I would take it easy. I didn’t want to ruin my legs for the run, like I have a habit of doing. So I took it easy. And it definitely showed in my time!

Right at the turnaround, I decided to eat my Shotbloks. I had eaten 2 and was going for my third when I dropped them on the ground. What was wrong with me? I was dropping things like it was my job! I looked around for a USAT official who would ping me for abandoned equipment. All I saw was a dude on a motorcycle and he was not USAT so I left my Shotbloks, feeling stupid and bummed.

The road through Cherry Creek that we biked on is so ridiculously bumpy that I will never do a triathlon there again (unless they repave it). It was just not fun to be on it so by the time I got back to the transition area, I was so ready to be done.

I glanced at my bike computer as I was re-racking my bike and it read 12.2 miles, instead 11.5 miles, like the race officials said.

Official Bike Time: 46:12 (14.9 mph) 

By this time, the sun had started peeking out of the clouds and warming things up nicely so I ditched my long sleeve shirt, grabbed my hat and sunglasses, and left.

Official T2 Time: 1:06

Since the first triathlon I ever did was at this same venue, I was familiar with the run course – it was almost exactly the same one. The first .5 mile is all uphill, then it flattens out for .5 mile, then the last 2 miles are rolling hills. My legs actually felt great for the first mile. I pushed up the hill and when I reached the first mile marker, I calculated a 10:00/mile pace. Sweet!

The 2nd mile was at a 11:00/mile pace but then the bottom fell out in the 3rd mile. I like to think it’s because I was sick and wasn’t at 100% capacity but I stopped and walked a few times because my legs just felt tired. Finally, I was almost to the finish line. I saw Travis watching for me and encouraged him to run with me a little, which he did.

Official Run Time: 34:18 (11:04/mile) 

Official Overall Time: 1:49:30

My goal going in to the race was to hit 1:45, but really I would have been satisfied with anything under 2 hours. So I made it. Woohoo! Since the bike was longer and made this race closer to being the same distance as the Oktoberfest tri I back in 2009, I was interested to compare my 2 times. My times from before were:

Swim: 19:57

T1: 2:14

Bike: 46:34

T2: 1:09

Run: 34:07

I finished that race in 1:43:59. Ah well. I don’t really care all that much.

Travis, of course, beat me (I knew he would). It’s funny though – I did the swim and transitions faster, he did the bike (on a mountain bike!) and run faster. He creamed me on the run. Here are his splits:

Swim: 26:28 

T1: 3:08

Bike: 44:09 (15.6 mph)

T2: 1:23

Run: 24:58 (8:03/mile)

Total: 1:40:05

So he did great! I think he had a very positive experience and even talked about doing another triathlon next year. I am very proud of him and had a lot fun doing a race with him. It’s kind of funny – we both placed 180th in our sex! (There were a total of 470 finishers – 233 male and 242 females).

And with that, Triathlon Season 2011 is in the books. I did 3 Sprints and 1 Oly this year. I am satisfied and ready to not ride my bike again until I get it professionally fitted. Our half marathon relay is in 3 weeks and then Race Season 2011 is over. Have I mentioned how ready I am? 

As far as the race itself went, this event was put on by Racing Underground – a pretty well-known group in Denver. I’ve done several races that they’ve timed but this was the first I had done that they’ve put on. I think they did a lot of things well – their website is informative with course maps, they sent out a pre-race email, their packet pickup was very organized and the goodie bags were stuffed. They also had plenty of porta-potties and their music/microphones were loud enough to hear.

Some things they can improve on: when I heard that we would get sweatshirts instead of t-shirts, I was excited. But while I will wear the navy blue sweatshirt sans hood and enjoy it, I can’t see Travis – or really any other guy – wearing it. I mean, guys don’t really wear sweatshirts without hoods, unless they’re playing basketball or over 40. So that’s a bummer.

Plus, it looked like they spent more money on the sweatshirts and got rid of the finishers medals. I know there’s some debate about whether finishers medals are cool or just unnecessary. Those who do oodles of races (and win!) don’t really care. Well, I care. And my husband who just did his first race cares. I want a medal because I will never win an award!

The last thing I was bummed about was that they didn’t have any finish line food like bagels, bananas, etc. The only food they offered was the post-race meal – BBQ – and while I was pumped that it was something that sounded good and that I could probably eat without getting sick after the race (my stomach won’t tolerate anything too sweet), the line was 200 people long. It stretched across the parking lot. Granted, it was a pleasant day and the food looked good but we just didn’t feel like waiting in line. I wished I could have just grabbed a bagel and been done with it.

So Travis and I went home, showered and went to BWW instead. Mmmm… I tried the new Soft Pretzels. AMAZING! I will definitely get those again. They just hit the spot. I also got 8 Honey BBQ boneless wings but only ate 4 because I ate too much of the pretzels. Then we rented Thor (great movie – looking forward to the sequel!) and Your Highness (would NOT recommend because of all the dirty, disgusting humor) and laid on the couch for the rest of the day. Glorious.

I’m glad that I did the race but my body is not. I felt increasingly sick yesterday and today, my whole head is congested, I have a runny nose and am coughing/sneezing a lot. So I’m forced again today to take things easy and relax. I guess this is good – I always like the idea of resting in theory but when it comes down to actually doing it, being productive always sounds more appealing. So I am going to take the dogs on a walk, go buy some tomato soup to go with grilled cheese for dinner, and then I’m going to plop my rump on the sofa for the rest of the evening.

The only bummer about being sick while relaxing is that I feel too tired/groggy to read so I end up watching copious amounts of TV. (There’s me trying to sneak in productivity again!) Oh well – I’ll enjoy being a bum!

How was your weekend?

Have you ever done a race while sick/not feeling your best?

Hiking is Humbling.

16 Sep

It’s no secret that I’m not a fast swimmer, biker or runner. When I tell people that I do triathlons, I always mention that I do them “for fun” and not for “breaking any records.” When people ask if I did well in a particular race, I usually say, “Yes… for me,” I guess to avoid the misrepresentation that I won an award or something.

And for the most part, I’ve come to accept the fact that I will never be “fast” relative to other triathletes. I mean, the female winners from these races do the swim in less than 1/2 the time it takes me (I’m too lazy to figure out what their speed is), their average bike pace is usually somewhere around 20 mph, and their average run pace is somewhere around 6-7 minutes/mile. Yeah, I can’t compete with that.

So what’s an athlete like me to do?

It all comes down to the PRs – Personal Records. Trying to better your time for a certain distance. This presents a problem with the sprint triathlon distance, as hardly any race is the same as the next (though the most official distance is exactly half of an Olympic).

Yeah, I haven’t been good at that either. My half marathon times have progressively gotten slower and my triathlon times are pretty much in that boat as well.

Ok, I can deal with that. I’m still getting out there, having a good time. Plus, I’m willing to sacrifice the PRs in order to maintain my sanity and balance.

But then there are situations that just steam me. Like hiking on the Eaglesmere Trail. Or hiking Pancake Rocks. Or hiking in North Carolina.

Ok, hiking in general.

I’ve said it many times before and I’ll keep saying it – I can be in the best shape of my life and still cough, wheeze, and drag up a hill on a hike.

And it pisses me off.

It’d be one thing if the hike was challenging and everyone else was coughing, wheezing and dragging up right with me. But no, they’re just floating up the hill, without a single bead of sweat staining their brow or even so much as a slight increased need for oxygen.

Ok, maybe that’s just Travis.

But seriously, whenever I go hiking, it seems like everyone else is in better shape than I am. 

Which also would be fine if I knew that they were. If they were out there running marathons and doing Ironmans, and busting out 10 hours of intense exercise a week, I’d hand it to them. I’d applaud them.

But usually they’re not.

Usually they’re like Travis – they do intentional exercise 2-3 times a week, but usually only for about 30-45 minutes.

Sometimes they don’t exercise regularly at all.

And then here I come, all puffed up with my “I just did an Olympic triathlon” and “I ran 7 miles 3 weeks ago” attitude, and wilt like a frickin’ popsicle on pavement walking up the hill.

These were my thoughts during our NC Labor Day hike:

Wait, isn’t this a lower elevation than Denver? Doesn’t that mean I should be able to sprint all the way to the top?

Wait, isn’t Sarah pregnant? Didn’t she just say that she hasn’t worked out in 4 months due to nausea? How then is she beating me up this hill?

I did not handle that situation well in the moment. Instead, I got huffy as I puffed slowly up the mountain. I eventually got over it at the top but I’d like to eventually get over it before it starts.

I mean, this is a ridiculous problem. But such is the nature of pride. You try to squelch it in one form, and it pops up in another. Just as soon as I came to grips with being a slow triathlete, I became enraged at being a slow hiker.

My mentally unstable way of thinking is that I’ve put so much effort and time into getting to where I am today that it is totally unfair that other people (like my husband) are so naturally athletic. Travis could sit on the couch for a month and go out and run faster than I could if I did intense speed work for 6 months. (Ok, this is just a conjecture because Travis couldn’t sit still that long and I will never do intense speed work for 6 months. But still, I’m pretty sure it’s true.)

But in the end, my hiking handicap is really a blessing in disguise. If it hadn’t been for my completely unnecessary anger outburst in North Carolina, I wouldn’t have come to the realization (yet again) that my identity is wrapped up in how “athletic” and “in shape” I am. I want people’s praise for doing triathlons. I want people to think I’m a mean, lean, triathloning machine. I don’t want them to see that I still struggle up the side of a hill or that I’m not invincible. I don’t want to show weakness.

God knows that I constantly go to things other than Him to try to prove that I’m worth something, that I’m someone special (try being the operative word). But that way of life will leave me constantly dissatisfied and jealous of other people. Instead of being able to appreciate the talents God has given other people, I end up scheming in the corner about how to make myself just as good (or drowning my sorrows over not being just as good).

I’m like this with a number of things: clothes, success, body size. Measuring myself against others. Feeling good if I measure up. Feeling horrible if I don’t.

Our women’s book study just started at church for the fall and I chose to go through Love to Eat, Hate to Eat by Elyse Fitzpatrick. I’m really praying that this study will help free me from these struggles (because regardless of the specific struggle, it all comes from the same source of dissatisfaction) and release me into the freedom of embracing who God created me to be – body shape, quirks, slowness and all – in order that I might appreciate and love others for who they are. God has made each of us unique masterpieces (like snowflakes!) and I am missing out if I can’t appreciate another woman without competing with her.

Hopefully I’ll have some updates later on.

As for the triathlon tomorrow, I still haven’t decided if I’m going to do it. You’ll have to stay tuned!

Running on full tilt

15 Sep

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These little gals are in our freezer right now.

Which is the reason why my weekend of relaxation didn’t quite turn out how I had hoped. I started Saturday off nice and slow with time in the Word and a cup of coffee. Around 10, I went shopping with my full list of things to buy and plan of attack. After stopping at the pet store, the fabric store, Walmart and the mall, I finally made it home around 3:30. Guess who else made it home then too? Travis.

While I was excited to see him, I was not excited about the reason why he was home so early: he had shot 2 antelope that morning. TWO. Bah!

Luckily, he was exhausted from dragging and butchering them so instead of working on the meat Saturday night, we went out to eat at El Tapatio (where I had the world’s most unappealing taco salad) and then watched Iron Man 2. I had gotten up at 6 am so I fell asleep about halfway through.

Sunday morning, I got up around 7 and got the housewarming present for our friends together (to give to them after church). Then we went to church, came home and ate lunch, and got started on the meat.

Ah, the meat. Travis suggested that I help him cut it up. I told him that cutting it up would make me really not want to eat it. (I’m not a huge fan of antelope meat – which is why I’m not excited about him shooting two of them!) So I stuck to my usual job: vacuum sealing, which is gross enough. Except our vacuum sealer wasn’t working right. After much frustration over not being able to get the bag to seal before stuffing it, and going to Target and Walmart in search of new bags, I then read the directions and discovered I was using the machine wrong. Whoops.

But even after I learned the right way, the machine was struggling. It took forever to suck the air out and then once it sealed the bag, all the air somehow seeped back in so it was sealed, just not vacuum sealed. We weren’t too worried about it because we’re going to thaw it again in a month to grind it up when Travis and his family hopefully shoot an elk (I am a HUGE fan of elk meat).

Anyway, by the time we finished the meat, Travis had to leave for his work trip. I vacuumed the house, then went on a fabulous 6-mile run (running the last 3 miles at a 10:00/mile pace!). By the time I got back and did some strength training, it was 8:30. Time for bed.

So, weekend of relaxation – not so much. It was still good, just not what I had envisioned.

Then this week has been crazy busy – I had dinner with my aunt-in-law on Monday night, had Women’s Book Study Tuesday night, and then last night, I was supposed to go to care group. Except that I got a flu-ish type sickness and had to leave work at 1 pm. So I didn’t go to care group. I laid on the couch from 1:30 on, only getting up to eat the pizza I ordered and trying to sleep in my bed (one of the very few times I couldn’t get to sleep in the middle of the day).

I’m feeling better today but I’m still not 100%. If I didn’t have a crap ton of work to do at work (a blessing and a curse right now), I totally would’ve stayed home. Although I got ridiculously bored yesterday doing nothing. Travis took our laptop with him on his trip and I don’t have the muse to muscle through using our antique desktop. So that’s why I haven’t blogged this week.

The Crescent Moon Sprint Tri is this Saturday. I don’t know right now if I’m going to do it or not. I can’t imagine doing a triathlon while sick is enjoyable. Plus, I get the race sweatshirt either way. 😉

Anyway, life = crazy busy right now. SO READY FOR IT TO SLOW DOWN. Obviously, my body is saying that as well. Bah.

 

My weekend of relaxation is here!

9 Sep

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That’s what I will be doing this weekend (except with a much less impressive view).

Against all odds, I have made it to my first free weekend in two months, and my second free weekend since the beginning of June. Woohoo!

I know that I said I was going to lay around and do absolutely nothing, not even clean my disgusting house. Yeah… that’s not really going to happen. Mostly because there are things that I would like to do this weekend that do not involve watching TV (and because I would feel disgusting if that’s all I did for 2 days… trust me, I’ve tried it).

So what is it I want to do this weekend? In order of importance (because free days fly by faster than I realize!):

1. Recharge, which means:

  • Sleep in. No alarm clock for me! (Except Sunday morning when I have to be at church by 9:15.) And if I feel like a nap, by all means.
  • Get in the Word for an extended period each morning with a cup of coffee. This is the thing that I have missed the most. I seriously haven’t done this in 3 months.
  • Read! I am currently reading Managing God’s Money by Randy Alcorn. I’ve really enjoyed it so far.
  • Take a walk outside in the cool(er) fall(ish) air with the pooches.
  • Drink a Pumpkin Spice latte from Starbuck’s.

2. Get caught up. Specifically:

  • Clean the house
  • Buy more dog food (and decide on which new food to buy) and treats
  • Organize all the mail, race stuff, and miscellaneous crap I’ve thrown in a pile in my office
  • Write Thank You to the Normans for a great Labor Day
  • Grocery shop
3. Train. I would gladly cross this one off my list, but alas, I have paid money for these races and would like to turn out a decent effort. My workouts look like:
  • 10 mile bike, 2 mile run tonight
  • 6 mile run + strength training tomorrow
  • 15 mile bike on Sunday
4. Go shopping. I need would like to buy:
  • Housewarming gift for friends
  • Shirt for my cousin’s wedding to go with the cute new skirt I got at the thrift store Tuesday (I’ll post my other great finds later)
  • Cute decorations and fabric for curtains for various areas of our house
If you think it’s weird that Travis isn’t involved in any of these plans, it’s because he’s going up to Wyoming antelope hunting this weekend. And then he’s going back out to Utah to count cacti next week. I’ll see him for a couple of hours Sunday but that’s it. I’m actually disappointed that he’s going to be gone so much (insert evidence of God’s grace in marriage here!).
Regardless, I’m looking forward to a relaxing weekend! I may post tomorrow or Sunday but I forgot my phone in NC so I have no internet at home (gasp!). No phone and no Internet! What’s a girl to do?
See above.
Have a great weekend friends!

Labor Day in North Carolina

8 Sep

For the Labor Day weekend, Travis and I flew out to visit our good friends, Mark and Sarah, and their 2-year-old daughter, Ellie. They live in Charlotte, NC, but we actually didn’t spend much time there. Our flight left at 6:15 on Friday morning (meaning our wake-up call came at 3:30!) and everything went smoothly. We were relieved to not have to check our suitcases at the gate due to full overhead bins.

We arrived in Charlotte around 3 pm and Sarah and Ellie picked us up from the airport. Mark met us at their house and we spent the evening catching up and eating a delicious home-cooked meal – cheesy beer chicken and noodles, garlic bread, and cooked broccoli. It was so good, I went back for seconds. Even though in Denver time it was only 7:30, we went to bed at 9:30 Charlotte time. We were exhausted!

The next morning, we got up around 7:45, took showers, ate breakfast and packed up for our trip up to Sarah’s parents’ cabin in the Smoky Mountains. It’s in Transylvania County, which is also known as the Land of Waterfalls. The elevation increases 2,000 feet in 4 miles and it rains 80 inches a year, so it’s technically considered a rainforest (and it definitely looks like one with all the kudzu growing everywhere!).

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On our way up to the cabin, we stopped at Sky Top Orchard to pick apples and eat some apple donuts. I hadn’t been apple picking in forever so it was fun to be there, but I have to admit that the humidity slightly ruined it for me. I’m not cut out for that anymore! It just makes me feel exhausted and sleepy. So we only stayed at the orchard for about an hour and a half.

Travis was the wagon puller.

Of course, we had to get some Honeycrisp. The orchard had actually picked all the Honeycrisp trees clean that morning but we found some decent ones on the ground and got them for 1/2 off. They were still delicious!

Some of the trees had tons of apples on them – very pretty.

They’re such a cute little family! Sarah is pregnant with their second child, due in February. She finds out today whether it’s a boy or a girl!

After picking apples, we ate the sandwiches we brought and some fresh, hot apple donuts. They were so yummy – I could have eaten all 6 of them.

We drove another hour and a half on the windy mountain roads and then stopped at a roadside store that sells boiled peanuts. The store has been there since 1947 and is a tradition with Sarah’s family. All I can say is that I think boiled peanuts are gross. Travis said that he thought that when he first tried them too but he muscled through half the bag and then they started tasting good. I don’t know why he does that. I did not muscle through. I ate 2 and decided that they were not for me. Kind of like pork rinds. Ew.

Finally, we got to the cabin.

After we unloaded and chose our bedrooms, Mark, Travis and I took a walk around the neighborhood to see all the unique houses and pretty gardens while Sarah and Ellie napped. When we returned, we read and hung out for a while and then ate dinner – North Carolina-style BBQ, bean medley, and mac & cheese. We watched TV for a bit until I started falling asleep. I got my second wind to play 2 games of Scrabble and won the last game (though Mark would have won if he had remembered to play Qi, which is a special word for Chinese life force). Then it was off to bed.

The room that Travis and I slept in had french doors that opened out on to the screen porch, so we left the doors open at night to let the mountain air blow in.

We slept in until 9:30 both mornings we were there! That was one of the many great things about this trip – it was very relaxing. We got a lot of good time to just hang out and talk with Mark and Sarah and be amused by Ellie. She is so cute and hilarious. I hope our kids are as cute someday!

Sunday morning, we ate breakfast (banana pancakes made by Mark) and then hiked up one of the mountains nearby. The hike was no joke! It was challenging for me, I think mostly because of the humidity (it’s amazing how much that makes it hard to breathe just like high elevation), but maybe also because I hadn’t hiked since the Fourth of July. I have discovered time and time again that triathlon/running shape does not equal hiking shape. I must admit that I was very frustrated on the way up during this hike because it seemed like everyone else, including Sarah who’s pregnant, was in better shape than me! They were just moseying up the mountain while I was hacking up a lung. This just reveals my pride in being “athletic” – something for another blog post.

Nonetheless, we made it to the top. The view was definitely worth it.

I called this a Beach Project picture because it was so bright where we were looking (though you wouldn’t guess it from the clouds) that I could barely keep my eyes open. That’s why I look slightly weird.

I’m not particularly fond of this picture but I’m including it just to show the massive sweat stains on my shirt. I was disgustingly sweaty from the hike up. Ew. Ew. EW. Luckily my shirt was dri-fit so the sweat evaporated fairly quickly.

After our hike, we grabbed some snacks to tide us over and went to a place the locals call “Little Sliding Rock.” Instead of explaining what it is, I’ll just post pics.

It’s a rock you can slide down. Mark and Sarah said that this was the busiest they had ever seen it so I only went down twice. The first time, a couple of little girls starting sliding down from the deep hole (see below) right as I was coming down and I ended up running into one. I pulled her to the surface to make sure she was ok. (She was.) Whoops.

That’s Travis going down the rocks. In the upper right, you can see kids hanging out in the middle of the rock. That was actually a huge hole – so deep that kids were literally jumping off the rock into it. It was also a popular hang out spot although the water was so cold, I didn’t really see the fun in hanging out in it.

Travis and Mark went down several more times and even pushed each other down so they’d go faster. Boys.

Nice and refreshed, we went back to the cabin for a nap and dinner. We had steaks with sweet potatoes and salad. Another delicious meal! Mark and Sarah really fed us well. 😉 I also had about 2 Mike’s Hard Lemonades a day. Calories don’t count on vacation, right? After dinner, we got sucked into watching a Dateline Mystery. Sarah said that SNL has done a spoof on the narrator guy. He was pretty hilarious to listen to. I’ve never heard so many rhetorical questions be answered by the person who asked them. Then we played 2 more games of Scrabble and hit the sack.

I woke up around 4 am to what I thought was a really loud fan in our room. Nope, it was rain. We had known it was supposed to start raining during the night and continue all the next day – in fact, the weather reports listed the chance of precipitation as 100%. There was no chance it was not going to rain. And they were right. It rained all day. I welcomed it, though, because it was such a nice change of pace from Colorado where it has been 95 degrees and sunny everyday. (Who knew that cloudy days once in a while could be nice?)

We just kind of bummed around the cabin until late morning and then headed over to Highlands, a nearby town. We shopped for a while, ate lunch accompanied by delicious white hot chocolate, then went back to the cabin. The boys went to a waterfall and swam in the natural pool at the bottom while Sarah and I enjoyed listening to the rain and reading. When they got back, it was time to pack up and head back to Charlotte.

On the drive back, we stopped for a true Southern meal at Waffle House. There are Waffle Houses out here in Denver but somehow, it just doesn’t seem the same. I had an egg and cheese biscuit with a side of grits. You could not have fit one more plate on our table, we had so much food!

We got back to Charlotte around 10 pm, just in time to go to bed. The next morning, we showered, ate breakfast and left for the airport around 10:10… we were supposed to leave for the airport at 9:30 for our 11:30 flight but that didn’t happen. The security line was ridiculously slow – I get so frustrated at the security personnel. They lolligag and take their sweet freaking time while the rest of us are frantically trying to get through because we’re about to miss our plane. To add to that, I forgot I was wearing a belt and didn’t take it off when I went through the full-body scanner (that’s the first time I had to do that!) so I required an additional pat down. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I had to stand there for a couple of minutes while the security lady watched another guy go through the scanner. I wanted to be like, “Hello! I am going to miss my plane. Can you hurry the eff up?”

Travis and I ran to our gate and arrived just as they were starting to board. Whew. We made it.

Our connecting flight in Minneapolis was only slightly less eventful. When we got off our plane from Charlotte, I looked at the departures board and I swear it said our gate was C4 – on the complete opposite side of the airport. Since we had an hour and 15 minutes, we decided to eat lunch at Wolfgang Puck Gourmet Express. Despite the debaucle of their ordering system, I had a very delicious Chicken Tortilla soup with avocado and goat cheese – seriously, I will use that idea myself. The goat cheese melts so it’s like sour cream, only healthier.

Lunch eaten, we headed to our gate. Only it wasn’t our gate. It was for a flight to Philadelphia. Maybe it was C7? Nope. Hmmm… we went and looked at another Departures board.

Our gate was F9.

Are you joking?

We had to walk all the way back around the airport. Travis was mad. I was mad at his being mad, in addition to my mind reeling. What? How did I think it was C4? Did I remember that from the Charlotte airport – no, that was an A gate. Did I look up Charlotte instead of Denver? No, that gate was for a Philadelphia flight. Do I even remember looking at the Departures board? I must’ve because Travis said I did. 

A slight redemption came when we made it to F9 and there was a little old lady who was also at the wrong gate. The airline employee said that the gate had been switched and she now needed G17 instead of F9. Maybe that’s what happened to us?

Either way, we made our second flight as well. The only bummer was that they made us check our suitcases at the gate, and then proceeded to let people on behind us with their luggage. We were slightly annoyed. I am not impressed with Delta’s overhead bins at all. But they do give out free pretzels. Bins or pretzels? Bins or pretzels?

Overall, our trip to NC was very fun and relaxing. I hope to see Mark and Sarah again soon!

{Just a quick note – things at work have finally picked up, so my blog posts and comments will probably be a little more sporadic. But I’ll still try to post and keep up with your blogs as much as I can!} 

Pay no attention to the cowpies behind the curtain.

1 Sep

I feel like I am finally at a point in life/maturity/Christian growth that I can focus on my marriage because I want to and not because “I probably should.” That never lasts as I’ve found. I mean, it’s not hard to find marriage advice. Marriage is hard and everyone has their own theory as to what works. Well, newsflash. It isn’t cut and dry. There is no black and white, cookie cutter “This is what you do for a good marriage.” There are principles, yes. But the nitty gritty details specific to your marriage take a bit longer to hash out.

That’s where Travis and I are.

While our first year of marriage was extremely rough, things have gotten progressively better over the last 3 years. I personally have made grand strides just since March of 2010, when Travis and I were going to be apart for 3 weeks and I was like, So? Travis said it was unacceptable. That incident made me realize that I was kind of a cold-hearted bitch when it came to my husband. Through much prayer and grace from God, I have made it to where I am now – still a work in progress but trying more and more each day to make sure my husband knows that I love and appreciate him.

As I’ve been reading the Bible and some marriage books, I have felt God leading me to focus on a few specific things. The first is my speech. I am horrible at not only guarding my mouth from saying stupid, hurtful things in the heat of the  moment but also at affirming Travis or wording things in a way that he would receive well.

But I have two amazing examples of grace from just last week! The first was during the week when Travis was out in Utah. He called to ask if it would be ok if he stayed out there another week because he still didn’t have anything to do back in Denver. My normal response would’ve been either, “Yeah, sure whatever.” or “Ugh, that means I have to keep watering the yard!” My response last week was, “Sure, that’s fine. I mean, I’ll definitely miss you but I understand that it’s important for your job that you’re billable.” What a difference, both in my words and in my heart!

The second example is from Saturday when I was talking to Travis on the phone about the Focus crapping out on the way to Steamboat. I wanted to complain and exaggerate the situation by saying, “Freaking A – this is why I just want to get rid of the Focus and get a different car. We should’ve at least taken the Check Engine light seriously instead of just waiting for it to go off by itself.” Somehow in that moment, I had the clarity and foresight to know that saying that would have made Travis feel horrible, like he had failed me. He has said numerous times that he would feel better knowing that I had a reliable car, a bigger car with 4-wheel drive, etc. So instead, I simply said, “I’m very frustrated right now.” I was still honest, but in a way that didn’t aggravate the situation by pinning the blame on Travis.

Both of those advancements were inspired by reading the book For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn. If you’re married and haven’t read it, I recommend you do so. As you can see, it’s been an eye-opener for me!

The second thing I’ve felt God leading me to focus on is making Travis a priority. I have had a tendency to just let Travis fit in wherever in my life, instead of molding my life around him. While I’ve been mildly majorly obsessed with thinking about my life, what I want to accomplish, and what I’m doing to do, I have spent hardly any time thinking about how I can be a better wife, create a warming and inviting home, and support my husband’s ambitions. How can I help Travis succeed? had never been a conscious thought in my head. 

Both Travis and I have also been guilty of letting chores, obligations and hobbies rob us of intentional time with one another. On weekends, we’ve started asking one another, “What are you planning to do today?” instead of “What should we do today?” While Travis and I are independent people, and I’m glad that we have different hobbies and responsibilities within our family, I think it would do us good to be intentional about spending time together, just the 2 of us, doing something fun and out of the ordinary – like taking a walk, going on a picnic, doing something new, visiting a new restaurant, etc.

Another aspect of making Travis a priority and focusing on our marriage is making time for romance and sex. The biggest source of conflict in our marriage has been different styles of physical affection. That got a lot better after the first year but I think one unfortunate side effect of that has been we just aren’t physically affectionate anymore. God is slowly revealing to me that I have some unresolved issues with my sexual past. I hesitate or refuse to do certain things because I associate them with the promiscuous lifestyle I had before I became a Christian. Therefore, I haven’t felt complete freedom with Travis. Even just knowing this has brought about healing.

The more I learn about marriage and my husband, the more I’m convinced that the biggest thing that I’ve learned in marriage is that I can’t do anything right without God. Marriage has shown me what an incredibly mean, selfish, crabby, stubborn, pig-headed, messed up person I am apart from His work in my life and it is only by God’s grace that our marriage is what it is today. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I have no idea how people make it through marriage without Christ. No idea whatsoever. I don’t think I would have. If I had not believed in something bigger than our marriage, if I had not believed that the Author of the universe had been in control of bringing Travis and I together, I think the first year of our marriage would have done us in.

But praise be to Christ, we weren’t done in. And He has brought me from wondering if I even still loved Travis to this place of being so incredibly, authentically thankful to have my wonderful, amazing husband in my life and growing to appreciate him more and more each day. It’s felt like a long journey (I know those who have been married 20+ years would say we’re still newlyweds!) but it’s been worth it.

If any of you readers are in a place where marriage is rough and you’re wondering who the heck this person is that you married, I just wanted to offer these words from John Piper, Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church. They really encouraged when I first heard them when Travis and I were engaged and I have thought back to them often throughout our marriage. Even if you’re not struggling, they’re still true! The truth of them is even more evident to me today than it was then.

Picture your marriage as a grassy field. You enter it at the beginning full of hope and joy. You look out into the future and you see beautiful flowers and trees and rolling hills. And that beauty is what you see in each other. Your relationship is the field and flowers and the rolling hills. But before long, you begin to step in cow pies. Some seasons of your marriage they may seem to be everywhere. Late at night they are especially prevalent. These are the sins and flaws and idiosyncrasies and weaknesses and annoying habits in you and your spouse. You try to forgive them and endure them with grace.

But they have a way of dominating the relationship. It may not even be true, but it feels like that’s all there is—cow pies. I think the combination of forbearance and forgiveness leads to the creation of a compost pile. And here you begin to shovel the cow pies. You both look at each other and simply admit that there are a lot of cow pies. But you say to each other: You know, there is more to this relationship than cow pies. And we are losing sight of that because we keep focusing on these cow pies. Let’s throw them all in the compost pile. When we have to, we will go there and smell it and feel bad and deal with it the best we can. And then, we are going to walk away from that pile and set our eyes on the rest of field. We will pick some favorite paths and hills that we know are not strewn with cow pies. And we will be thankful for the part of field that is sweet.

Our hands may be dirty. And our backs make ache from all the shoveling. But one thing we know: We will not pitch our tent by the compost pile. We will only go there when we must. This is the gift of grace that we will give each other again and again and again—because we are chosen and holy and loved. {source}

Such a good reminder to focus on all the good things. Even if the only good thing you can think of is that he brushes his teeth in the morning, or goes to work and earns a paycheck. Start appreciating the small things and God will grow your affections. My life and heart – and ultimately, my marriage – is living proof of this.