Monday, November 29, 2010

Family time

Check out SeaLegsGirl, she's made me famous by choosing a photo of yours truly as the best ultrarunning photo of the year. (Seriously, check it out, it'll make you laugh)

The past couple of weeks have been a delightful whirlwind. I somehow managed to race 3 times in a 7 day stretch, travel to Iowa and Missouri, spend a week with Mike's extended family, celebrate Thanksgiving, etc etc. It was fantastic. Spending 7 days with Selah just makes me so happy--and miss her all the more when work starts up again. She is growing into a sweet little girl with new words popping up every day. One of her favorite things to do is go through pictures and identify anyone she sees--if you're on the fridge, she knows your name. She also loves "simmin" and makes every effort to get us out the door to do so, like tracking down her swimming suit and waiting by the door. Taking her to the hot springs has become one of my all time favorite family activities.

The days have gotten shorter with the end of daylight savings, but we haven't been deterred from our evening runs. The above run was interrupted by a heinous sleet storm at the far end of a 6 mile loop. With 3 miles of running in sleet and 30mph winds blowing straight into our faces, I became a genuine whiner and begged to call a friend to pick us up. I was denied, of course, and Mike spent the half hour letting me draft behind him and joking around, making fun of my being "soft".

As for races, all 3 of the races were unique and inspiring. The first was unofficial, a contest between all of the willing students and faculty at the boarding school where I work. Of course, since I knew every contestant and was defending my title from last year, I think I ran harder in this event than either of the others. It was the first event in a 6 part series, including rock climbing, kayaking or swimming, mountain biking, XC skiing, and one more I can't remember at the moment. At the end, there will be overall winners for the combined efforts in 5 of 6 events. For each male and female student that finishes ahead of our headmaster and his wife, respectively, a large sum of money will go to the school club of that student's choice. All of the faculty are pledging different amounts of money, parents are getting involved, it's a pretty novel idea. This first contest is a 3 mile trail run that gains about 1500 feet on technical singletrack. I gave it my all, but finished 2nd to an 8th grade girl that was visiting in hopes of making a good impression on our Nordic coach. She succeeded! About 10 boys beat me.

Mass start on the road.

Our headmaster, a barefoot running enthusiast. He admittedly lost some mojo after encountering snow about 1/2 mile from the start that continued to the end!

The second race was in Cedar Falls, Iowa, a trail run on the Hartman Reserve. In nutshell: $5 entry, no race numbers, no official timers, no keeping track of who finished where, somewhere between 3 and 4 miles long. 100 people showed up for this entertaining and beautiful race and Mike snagged 2nd and I snagged 1st for women and 8th overall. I won an apple pie for my efforts--love that Midwestern spirit.

The 3rd race was the largest Turkey Trot in Missouri, 7100 participants on a blustery Thanksgiving morning. I PR'd here last year and was hoping for a similar performance. I missed my PR, but ran a respectable 21:23, good enough for 18th/3007 women and 3rd in my age category. Mike rallied and ran 17:44, winning his age category. I truly love running big races and the positive energy that comes with them. There were twice as many runners as residents in the entire town we live in. I love seeing so many people out trying to do something good for themselves before enjoying the Thanksgiving feast.

Celebrating his win with a fresh Krispy Kreme.

From IA, we drove to MO to join Mike's extended family for Thanksgiving. This was their 19th Annual Great Rieken Adventure, AGRA. Depending on the year, between 20 and 40 people show up and stay under one roof for about 5 days.

The incredible hosts, Tom and Donna. They go way above and beyond and are superiorly gifted hosts. The amount of preparation that goes into AGRA is pretty astounding, and they make it happen with smiles.

Selah's 2nd cousin, Gabby, who just turned 2. They were hilarious to watch as they chased each other around, played hide and seek, colored, tickled, and were genuinely sweet little girls.