Merry Christmas – a little early

Today was one of those days when almost nothing went as planned. At 10am, the kids were finally buckled into the car along with almost 20 library items, grocery list in hand, and a fully stocked diaper bag. We were ready to go… only 15 min late. I put the key in the ignition, turned it only to hear a rapid succession of “clicks” and watch the lights on the dashboard blink a few times… then nothing. I tried again. This time not even one “click.” Hhmm – I hadn’t been concerned when I went to open the car door upon putting the kids in their seats and realized the door hadn’t been latched for over 14 hrs. Our car automatically turns off the interior lights after 10 minutes so as not to drain the battery. Apparently, I should have been concerned. “Oh well – Not a huge deal,” I thought as I began to recalculate the day. I’d call Daniel, tell him the situation. He may or may not be able to come home and jump the car. If not, I’d call my neighbor, the only other SAHM on the street that I know, and ask if we could use their car to run Alice to kindergarten after lunch.

Luckily for me, Daniel was able to come home and check out the car. I stayed outside and raked leaves while Daniel put his mechanical expertise to work, mainly to ensure my son didn’t stick his hands where they shouldn’t be since he’s extremely fascinated by engines, wires, fans, etc, but also to try to show some moral support and appreciation for my husband’s sacrifice of work time. We let the car run for a while to charge the battery; Daniel made a phone call to gather more advice on the situation. He then turned the car off, checked the voltage with a meter, was able to turn the car back on! and deemed it fixed. Excellent! So I finished raking leaves and went inside to get lunch.

We were easily ready by the normal time I usually get the kids in the car to take Alice to school. Sitting in the car, turning the key… “click, click, click.” My heart started pumping, and I flew into action. I’ve got 20 minutes to figure out how to get Alice to school – she’s the leader today. (This day is always met with great enthusiasm and excitement. Alice was so excited about her sharing time she told me she couldn’t sleep this morning.) I run inside and IMed Daniel while dialing my neighbor’s cell phone. She didn’t answer. Here’s the conversation between Daniel and myself.

Natalie: help – car won’t start

Daniel: oh man

Natalie: Mrs. T isn’t answering

Daniel: I’m not sure if I can be home in time

Natalie: getting there late is better than not at all…

Natalie: ? What do you think?

Daniel: can you walk? It’s not raining [pause!]

Natalie: sure… why not

Natalie: gotta go fast

[I dash back to our room to put on a pair of running shorts]

Daniel: are you being sarcastic

Natalie: yes and no

Natalie: I’m serious I need to leave NOW

Natalie: is she [Alice] going to walk too? [I’m processing thoughts in written form]

Natalie: I don’t have a double [stroller]

Natalie: alright… I’m leaving

Daniel: ok take the cell, call me if you have trouble

Now understand that I have tried to figure out ways to take Alice to school without starting the car, and Daniel is aware of this – hence why he suggested we walk. It’s about a 2 mile roundtrip according to So it’s obviously not a huge distance; however, there are many reasons I haven’t undertaken this before. The roads for .8 of that 1 mile are pretty busy. I do not have a double stroller, and I haven’t learned how to hook up our bike trailer yet, which is now on my list of “must dos” very soon. We do have a roomy, sturdy wagon in which I’m able to pull the kids on flat and downhill grades; but I cannot pull them up steep hills, of which there would be 4 on this particular trip. The only option I have left is a single stroller, and Alice would need to walk. Now I love my daughter more than I ever thought possible, and I could write pages upon pages about her wonderful attributes; but the blatant truth is that she is slow as molasses whenever I’m in a hurry. Walking a mile with her would take 30 minutes, and we only had 15 mins left.

I will not tell you how I managed to get 2 kids on a single stroller (and I do mean “on” not “in”), but I’m sure a cop would have stopped me and told me I was breaking some sort of safety law had I been spotted. As it was, I knew I was making quite a ridiculous scene as I’m sprinting (yes – sprinting!!) down one of the aforementioned hills with 2 children in a single stroller that was NOT meant for running. I was literally laughing and smiling like a lunatic at the picture we must have made. Not only that, but there was the embarrassment of actually arriving at the school in this fashion as well. I totally felt like some ghetto parent. We got there with no time to spare as I told Alice to “Run!” to the teacher’s aide who is in charge of helping the kids get safely inside the building after being dropped off. The aide was about to enter the building, deeming Alice late; and I was going to be ticked if Alice was late after all my efforts – not to mention having to walk into the school office totally windblown, red-faced and sweating like a pig. Alice didn’t run, but thankfully the aide saw us and waited.

The bad news – We found out later tonight that the battery is not the problem. It’s most likely the alternator which our mechanic told us would be a “chunk of change.”

The good news – Ian got to watch the heavy equipment at the building site beside Alice’s school (which he begs me to do every single day!) while I stopped to catch my breath. Also I got in a workout I wasn’t planning by adding some more mileage to the route. Finally, Christmas shopping will be a lot easier this year – so far our gifts to each other have been a refurbished (but way exciting! – I’m serious!!) vacuum cleaner, a new alternator and possibly a new tire for the bike trailer so I can have a jogging stroller. Merry Christmas to us! And to everyone out there experiencing similar situations – Merry Christmas to you too – a little early! May you find joy in the little things (like really clean carpets and cars that work) this season.

I’m Going to Disney World… or Not!

A lot of people have asked me what I’m going to do now that the Hershey Half Marathon is over. What I’ve really wanted to say is “I’m going to Disney World.” Actually I would insert some other exotic place like “Alaska” or any warm, sunny beach – I’m not too hard to please. But I guess I could have said “I’m going to Hershey Park.” It’s no small surprise that half marathon participants received 2 tickets to Hershey Park in the Dark. Sadly enough Mother Nature was unaware of Daniel and my plans to use those tickets this past weekend. After a freak!! snow storm grounded all the coasters on Sunday leaving mostly only kiddie rides available, Daniel and I decided to spend the day at home instead of visiting the sweetest place on earth. As it was, we were planning to go to HP with another couple, and so they came to our place for a delicious feast of Annie Anne’s soft pretzels (made from their baking mix), assorted munchies, pumpkin pie, apple crisp and – of course – ice cream. We ate like kings and laughed a lot… just as sweet.

Mrs. T & I before the race - trying to stay warm

But seriously, many of you have inquired how race day went and if my future plans involve running. October 16th was a great day in many ways, but let me back up a little before the big day. All experienced runners, which I guess I sorta am now, know that if you’re running with a partner in a race, you need to have a mutual plan. Mrs. T & I discussed our plan at length on several training runs. I tended to drag Mrs. T during our training runs (she admits to it), and so our plan was that I would stay with her at least until miles 7-9 at which time I would possibly go ahead of her.  Our goal – we were aiming for an 11min/mile pace, which would be our fastest pace for a long run together.

Fast forward to race day, the gun went off (not much excitement before that point except standing in long lines to use the bathroom). Mrs. T and I shuffled to the starting line where our real starting time was recorded. It’s A LOT different running with 5,000 people than just sharing the road with one other person, and Mrs. T and I actually spent a lot of the first 6 miles in silence (usually you can’t shut us up!). When we hit the halfway mark, our time was approximately 1hr and 10 minutes – a pace I was happy with. About this time Mrs. T started to get a runner’s high; and after miles 7, 8, & 9 were run at consecutively faster paces, I realized I was not experiencing the same runner’s high. In fact, that push had really worn me

Mile 10 - profile pics were more flattering than the pain on my face (yes, I'm vain)

down. I tried eating some swedish fish I had taken along at Mrs. T’s suggestion, but found out they weren’t a good source of fuel since I nearly choked on them several times. (Looking back now I wonder what in the world I was thinking!) Mrs. T was having a great run, and by 9.5 miles the mental game started to get to me as I watched the tables turn from what we had been planning for weeks. I slowly lost my incentive to stay with Mrs. T. At mile 10, I saw Daniel in the crowd of spectators, and Mrs. T was about 1/2min ahead of me. Right around mile 11 – the worst mile of the race, I decided to walk a minute or two and was able to fuel up a little on candy, which did help me through the last 2 miles. I was also surprised and discouraged that there was not a water station after mile 9. I’m a huge drinker when I run and was really feeling the effects of not having water at this stage in the game.

I did end strong and was pleased with my time – 2hours 18 minutes and 48seconds, average of 10min 36sec per mile. It took me a couple days to be able to say and believe I was truly proud of this time. Yes, I had accomplished my original pace goal; however I was disappointed that I had walked a little and wasn’t able to stay with Mrs. T. She finished 3 minutes ahead of me. I felt like I had failed myself in some sort of unknown way. So I did struggle with post-race blues/crash for a few days; but in the end, decided to celebrate my accomplishments.

1. I completed a ½ marathon!! Eighteen weeks ago I thought running 3 miles was huge.

2. I learned some things for the next race – if there is one.

3. My pace for the second half of the race was faster than the first half… even if only marginally faster.

4. My average pace was below my goal – yeah!


Finish line in sight!! Airway constricting with emotion!

My plans to keep running? Yes – on what level will depend on what my knees can handle. Another half marathon is not out of the question. A full marathon? It’s still too close to race day to think about a full, but my Christmas list is looking pretty loaded with running gear. What I know without a doubt is that this adventure was part of my healing from the past 2.5yrs in ways that I’m not even sure I understand right now. It was time for this to happen, and I’m so thankful that Daniel supported me through this process, stepping up in so many ways so that I could do this. He was my #1 fan and supporter (and photographer). Love you Babe.

By the way, if you’re wondering if you can do it too – run a half marathon or start any new exercise program, believe me you can! I never would have dreamed this race was going to be part of my life story. And it’s so cliché to say it, but if I can do it – anyone can!