Friday, December 30, 2011

Little Girl, Big Changes

My sweet Pumpkin transitioned from her crib to a big girl bed last week. I had no intention of moving her quite yet, but when I needed to move a bed out of Buddy's room to make space for bunkbeds, it seemed easiest to put the extra bed next door in baby girl's room. As soon as she saw the bed, she was excited. A huge grin covered her face and she made sure everyone (brother, sister, Daddy, & Dog) knew, "Baby sleep big bed!" The first night I had low expectations, tucking her in and assuming she would get out of bed no less than 100 times because, well, she could. But she did not emerge from her room even once. I guess she was ready.......even if this Momma was not.

And tonight, at 2am precisely, is our little girls 2nd birthday. I am so incredibly thankful for the gift of sunshine God gave us in our little Pumpkin:)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Traditions: Watson Style!

I know I missed this post in time for Christmas 2011 (oops!) but I thought I'd publish it anyway. And who knows, maybe someone out there in the blog-o-sphere will be inspired for next year:)

  Top 10 Watson Family Christmas Traditions: 

1)Pick out a REAL Christmas tree. No budging on this one. 

2) Pick out an ornament- something that represents them- to put on our tree. So far we have lots of doggies and ballerina's, an angel and a robot, Yoda, a train, a beach ball, a butterfly and a Pumpkin, to name a few. When they're grown and leave us to start their own families, we will send them off with a box of ornaments from their childhood.

3) Christmas Cookies. Of course.

4) Make Jesus a Birthday cake and sing "Happy Birthday to Jesus". Sometimes I think kids need a literal reminder of the real reason we celebrate.

5) See Santa turn on the lights in Downtown Littleton. It's usually cold and crowded, but quite amazing. A fun small-town-nestled-in-the-big-city tradition.

6) Look at lights. In our jammies. With hot chocolate. And Starbucks coffee:)

7)Advent Book. This was a new tradition we started this year. We read a chapter in "Jotham's Journey", a descriptive and inspiring story about a boy who lived during the time Jesus was born, every night before bed. GREAT way to focus on Jesus for the weeks leading up to His Birthday.

8) Unwrap and read a Christmas book every day of Advent. This idea was inspired by my friend Dana. You wrap up all your Christmas books and let the kids pick one each night to unwrap and read as a family. We did this at the same time we read "Jotham"- right before bed each night with the candles lit and snuggled on the sofa. Awesome Memory.

9) Jesse Tree. This was another new tradition this year, but one we will absolutely continue. Every day of Advent, we read a verse and placed an ornament on our tree (which I clearly made myself). The ornaments start with Creation and trace the lineage of Jesus- from Adam, to Noah, to Isaiah's prophecy, to Joseph's family line- all the way to Jesus' birth. Very meaningful.

10)Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. Sure it's crowded, and usually hard to squeeze into the busy holiday schedule, but once we get there it is always worth the trouble. There is something very reverent and inspiring about worshiping Jesus (with Christmas lights twinkling and candles glowing)the night before He came to a little baby.... and changed the world forever.

Merry Christmas!

A New Addition......

A friend at the gym asked me the other day, "Signing up for any marathons this year?"

"No", I responded. "Not planning on it."

"Oh, I bet you'll be signing up for another one before you know it! They're addictive and you LOVE to run."

He has a point, I thought. And yes,I would have already signed up for at least one marathon, a few triathlons, and a half ironman, if life wasn't taking a different turn for our family this year.

We're adopting. And after all the hours of training, wisdom of those who have gone before us, and some gentle nudging by the Holy Spirit, we've decided that 2012 needs to be dedicated to our family. We're scraping every activity, commitment, and hobby off of our plates that we can possibly live without. Instead our days will revolve around helping our new son and our biological children adjust to a new life- as a family of 6.

We've chosen to adopt out of the Denver County foster care system. And in our perfect vision for our family, he would be a 2-4 year old male(and my husband is hoping for a boy of African-American ethnicity). But honestly, we won't know until we know until we know......

I've been assured (again and again and....again) that it's going to be hard. In fact, I'm pretty sure that the main priorities of those who train prospective adopting families are:
1) Make sure they know it's not easy.
2) Help them lower their expectations.
3) Tell them it's going to be really hard.

Children who come out of foster-care, orphanages, or any less-than ideal start in life will have experienced trauma. A good rule of thumb is, the amount of time a child spent in a traumatic situation, the same amount of time will be needed to deal with the trauma. Professionals say you can expect the child to be about half the age developmentally as they are physically. So adopting a 4 year old is really like adopting a 2 year old.

But despite all the warnings and the setting aside of things (like races) that are important to me, I am beyond excited for what this next year holds for our family. The kids have been anxiously waiting for "Brother" for the last three years and I think we are all getting more excited as the "gotcha" date moves closer and closer.

So when exactly will Brother become a part of our family? That is a question that only God can answer, but my best guess is sometime this spring. We still have to do the homestudy, but we were told by Denver County that we should expect to be certified in 6-8 weeks.

The bunk beds are up and now we are all just waiting.......

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Blog Effect

I think my toddler has an aversion to blogs. Or maybe just my blogs. Either way, whenever she sees me sit at the computer with my thinking face on, she screams. Every time. Without exception.
Which may be why, despite all my good intentions of staying current in the cyber world, I fall behind.....again.....and again.....and....

Uh, I gotta go. Lily is screaming.

But I will catch up soon:)

Friday, July 15, 2011


They were gifts, the two hermit crabs. Given to us by dear friends who were moving across the country and needed to leave their pets behind them. So when Buddy, now 5 ½, lost them in our house, I couldn’t help but feel terrible.

Joe and Sally didn’t do much. They were pretty easy by pet standards, and honestly, if you forgot to feed them for a few days (okay, maybe even a week) they didn’t seem to mind. Occasionally I’d allow the kids to get them out of the cage and watch them maneuver obstacles on the family room floor. But on most days, they just hung in their tank.

I left on Friday afternoon for a home school conference and wouldn’t return until the following Saturday afternoon. My husband and several friends were helping to watch the kiddos for me while I was gone. When I returned home on Saturday afternoon the house was a disaster: play-doh crusties ground into the living room carpet, shoes strewn through every room and hall, and three meals worth of food droppings caking the hardwood floors below the dining room table. But the kids were happy and still breathing, so I couldn’t complain too much.

I threw a load of dishes in the sink and began picking up laundry. Carrying the first pile (yes, there was more than one) down to the laundry room, I notice the lid on the hermit crabs’ tank was up. “Huh, that‘s a little peculiar,” I thought. Looking inside I noticed that Joe and Sally were not snuggled into the sand as usual.

“Peanut!!!! Buddy!!!!” I yelled. “Where exactly are Joe and Sally?”

Buddy immediately looked guilty. “I took them out to play.”

“Okay, fine. So where are they now?” I asked. He ran downstairs to the table where he had set them, looking confused that they were no longer there.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I left them right here!”

“When? When did you leave them here? Who was watching you when you got them out?”

“Ms. Brenda,” he said. She was here early Friday afternoon.

“Just great,” I concluded. “The crabs have been missing for more than 30 hours already, and no one even noticed.”

We searched high and low that day. Nothing. We searched the next day, too. Still nothing. Inspired by a conference session about decluttering the home, I decided to go through the house room by room cleaning and purging. On the third day since Sally had disappeared, I found her huddled next to the downstairs couch when I was moving it to vacuum. I carefully reached out my finger to touch the shell thinking she was probably dead. Movement. She survived.

Sally had originally been Buddy’s crab. But since he was the one who almost killed her and she was now our only hermit crab, we decided it was only fair for Sally to now belong to Peanut. She renamed her Sparkles.

Days and weeks went by, and we all assumed Joe was dead. The crazy summer rainstorms had kept our basement unusually cool and hermit crabs like it to be a warm 80 degrees. Besides, he had no food and no water.

4 weeks since the incident:

For Peanut's seventh birthday, we moved her room downstairs. I set up a monitor so I could hear if she needed me at night. It was a big adjustment to be on a separate level from mom and dad, so she occasionally got scared in the dark and called for me to come down and comfort her.

One night I was lying next to her in bed, praying and singing as she slowly fell back to sleep. Right as her breathing slowed and she‘d finally dozed off, I heard a noise in the ceiling above my head. I froze.

“Oh my goodness!” I thought, “We have a mouse! There is a mouse in my daughters room!!!!” I stood still listening for a few minutes. The mouse was scratching at the ceiling tiles, scurrying around on the ceiling. I was mortified! How could I, in good conscience, allow my daughter to sleep in the same room as a mouse!

I stood from her bed and listened more carefully. The sound was actually coming from the wall, like the mouse had fallen behind the drywall. “Great!” I thought. “Now he’s trapped back there and there’s no way to get him out. We’re going to have a stinky smell for weeks!”

The scratching moved toward the electrical outlet. Smart mouse. He was going to chew his way out at the corner of the socket. I stood there staring at the wall, in the dark, waiting for that little critter to peep his eyes through the hole. I didn’t have a plan, exactly, but I was NOT going to let him make a home in my home.

Movement! I inched closer to the wall. Crawling over the top of Peanut's CD player that sits on her floor, I saw a form. But it was big and slow and not very mouse-like.

“Joe!!!!” I yelled. “You survived!!!“ I couldn’t believe it. I noticed a tipped over cup of water next to the CD player. He must have hunkered down next to his only water source and waited for rescuers. He was missing for 30 days, but he made it. We put Joe back in the tank with Sparkles and watched as they swapped war stories.

No Run For You!!!!

I am guilty. I have let this blog get outdated once again. I guess the craziness of summer combined with three small children who absolutely are not fond of Mommy spending time online are to blame. So to catch up…….

Coming into the Olympic Triathlon in late June, the stress fracture in my right foot started hurting again. The podiatrist, the same one who allowed me to run both a marathon and a 5K on a stress fracture, broke form and said, "No running for you!" Instead, I competed in the Loveland Lake to Lake Aquabike, which involves doing the swim leg and bike leg of the triathlon, and instead of the run portion, you simply get off your bike and make a beeline to the finish. The funny part about the aquabike event is it is almost exclusively injured athletes (myself included), so the 25 yd dash to the finish line is quite comical, with some racers literally hopping on one leg. I placed fourth with a decent time, getting schooled by three women from Boulder who finished sub 2 hours (read: CRAZY FAST!).

So for the last 3, almost 4 weeks I have been forbidden to run. To fill my sad heart with other activities, I have mountain biked, taken to swimming 3 days/week, and began a love-hate relationship with Barre Sculpt.

I have one more race I am signed up for this summer, Outdoor Divas Sprint Triathlon in mid-August, and am hoping and praying my foot will heal in time. Oh, and I am also throwing around the idea of adding 1 or 2 other triathlons to my repetoire. Because, well, I’m a glutton for punishment.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The verdict is.......still out.

After accumulating stress fractures in BOTH feet, I find myself reluctant to run. The pain, like a sharp nail being driven through the center of my foot with a sledge hammer, is simply not worth cranking out 3 miles on the treadmill. The marathon is over. And honestly, I'm a little burnt out on the whole running thing right now.

But oh, wait. Tri season is officially here. And I did register for a few of those.

So, like most hobby-level triathletes, I find myself desperately trying to log laps in the pool and miles on the bike. And I yell at my feet a lot, too. "Heal, already! Seriously! The race is in 3 weeks!"

So if my feet are not up challenge, I will simply downgrade to the aqua-bike option and cheer for my friends and Hubby while they do the whole triathlon.

But if they ARE up to the it too much to hope for a new Olympic-Tri PR?

Monday, May 9, 2011

So you want to start running, eh?

I get asked this question all of the time: I want to get back into running (or start running) but I just can't get motivated. Do you have any suggestions?

Suggestions? Me? You bet I do!

I think most people desire to run, or even used to run, but for whatever reason now find themselves out of running shape. Even though I've run competitively since I was in middle school, after I had my first and second child I struggled to start running again. I didn't exercise much through either pregnancy, mostly just walking and occasional lifting. Then, when I found myself with two babies under two, I found it extremely difficult to fit in any form of exercise altogether, let alone running. I had a double jogger, but my kids were uncooperative when restrained, especially when restrained next to each other.

It wasn't until my oldest was two, that I finally committed to getting back into competitive shape. We switched our gym membership over to the YMCA, where they include two hours of free child care with a family membership. I found myself slowly eeking back into shape. I signed up for a 10K and loved every second of it. Fast forward five years, and here I am today absolutely in love with running and racing.

So how do you get from, I kind-of-hate-but-tolerate running, to loving, even craving, to run?

Here's a few tips:


Most people, when they first get started, think they're back in PE running the mile for time. They take off crazy fast, poop out after one lap, and pull over on the sidelines keeled over and coughing like a lifetime smoker. Then they walk away discouraged, hating running, and not motivated to try again the next day.

*START SLOW! Run at a pace where you're in control, able to hold a conversation, and not about to die.

*STAY POSITIVE! Don't tell yourself you're“not a runner” or that you’re “going to feel bad” during a run.

* DON'T DO TOO MUCH, TOO SOON! Don't try to run 5 days/week when you first start, aim for 2 or 3 instead. Increase ONE run/week by about 1 mile or 10 minutes, keeping the others the same.

*EAT! About 2-2 1/2 hours before you run, consume a banana, or bagel, or SOMETHING. Get used to eating before you run now, because when you start running longer distances (6+ miles) your body will rely on those calories.

*RIGHT FORM! Keep your arms at a 90 degree angle, chest open, head up, torso leaning slightly forward.

*RIGHT SHOES! You can't dig those $20 sneakers from college out of the closet and expect to run well and without injury. Invest in some new, good running shoes. And get some cool new running short or tights while you're at it. Sometimes looking like a runner will give you the confidence to be a runner.


Seriously. You can talk all you want about finally doing a 5K, but until you actually pay the money and put it on your calendar, it's easy to back out. Depending on your current fitness level, pick something that's 8-16 weeks away. May I suggest The Justice Run on September 25th in Littleton? We have a 5K option, perfect for those runner's who are just starting out and a 10K option, for those who are ready to up the distance and challenge themselves a little more. Check out I'll even be posting some beginner and intermediate training plans there in the near future. Oh! And ALL the money raised goes to help human trafficking victims through the Justice Project.

Still not convinced to sign up for a race? Running to just run can get boring. Doing a race gives you an endpoint, something to work toward. And doing races is fun and addictive: the atmosphere, crossing the finish line, the satisfaction of a well earned beer (oh, and accomplishing a goal, too!).


I know we’re all super busy, especially with small kids, jobs, commitments. It's important to find a training schedule that's flexible and attainable.

Answer these questions:
When can you train?
Morning, nights, naptime?

Where will I train?
Treadmill at home, at the gym, or outside?

And if you're really starting from scratch, start with a walking plan first:

Start by walking for 25-30 minutes a day, as many days a week as you can, until it feels easy.
Then increase your pace, walking briskly for those 30 minutes each day. When this gets easy, start inserting a few jogs, of about 100 yards or so, during your 30 minute walk. Then continue to run/walk, increasing your run time each day.

Tricks for a Run/Walk Plan:
Use IPOD with # of songs. Run for 1 song, walk 1 song. Keep increasing.
Distance: Run to tree, walk. Run to school, walk.
Time: Run 4 minutes, walk 1 minute. Run 5 minutes, walk 1 minute.
Commercials: watch a show (like Biggest Loser) walk during the show, run during the commercials.

How I train:

My husband works crazy hours & I homeschool my children so they are with me ALL of the time. Most days I go to the gym. Sometimes I switch off with my friend (or husband): I watch the kids while she/he/ runs, she/he watches them while I run. You can always figure out a way to make it work!

Plus, you already signed up for a race, right? So you pretty much HAVE to figure out a way to make it work!

Don't hesitate to ask me any questions.......or for a training schedule:)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Runners on Your Mark, Get Set, Go!

3:50 am: Alarm goes off. I hop in the shower, heat up some coffee, and eat my traditional pre-race breakfast: a bagel, peanut butter, and banana slices. I dress in long sleeves, pants, jacket, gloves, and headband. It's FREEZING outside, only 34 degrees!

4:20 am: My hubby drives me to catch the race bus. All 1,000 marathoners are required to ride the bus to the start line, 16 miles up Poudre Canyon in Ft. Collins. I chat with the gal next to me, who is also running her first marathon. I tell her I haven't run in almost two weeks because of my broken foot. "Really? You broke your foot and you're still going to do this thing?" she asks. My response, "Everyone one of us is going to be in some sort of pain during the marathon, I'm just lucky that I know exactly where it's gonna hurt."

5:45 am: Buses arrive at the start line with only 30 minutes to spare. I do the same thing the other 999 runners do- get in line for the port-o-potties. The line is CRAZY long, snaking back and forth at least six different times. I chat with the people around me.

6:10 am: Still in line for bathroom. Race starts in 5 minutes, so I get desperate- I run off into the woods, take care of business, and make it back to the starting area barely in time for the National Anthem. Others still wait for the bathroom.

6:15 am: Starting gun goes off! This is it. This is what I've trained for since January. I start my Garmin, start my IPOD, and weave past runners working my way up to those with a similar pace.

7:20 am: I'm about 8 miles in and my foot starts hurting. I took three tylenol(only type of pain killers I can take) when I first woke up, and I take two more now. The pain isn't bad, dulled by the medicine, and nothing I can't handle for the time being.

8:11 am: Halfway mark: 1:56. I'm on perfect pace, holding steady at 8:51/mile. I feel great! The canyon is absolutely beautiful; cliffs on both sides, a river snaking below the road.

8:15 am: FINALLY! A port-o-potty that doesn't have a line! Since the start of the race, every bathroom has had 2 or 3 runner's standing outside of it waiting to get inside. I've seen men and women both, darting in to the woods, behind trees, on the side of signs, all trying to do some quick-relieving without losing too many valuable seconds.

8:38 am: We are finally out of the canyon! 16 miles down, 10 miles to go. By now it is getting hot and my jacket is making me sweat. I take it off, tie it around my waist, and get ready to drop it to the Hubby as soon as I see him. I eat an entire Cliff Bloks bar, hoping I've taken in enough calories so far. You're supposed to eat somewhere around 200 calories/hour during prolonged activity, careful not to deplete your glycogen stores. I've never been able to eat that much mid-race, but I'm extra cautious today, taking in about 150 calories/hour.

8:47 am: Mile 17 is the first place along the course where spectators can see the runners. For the last 167 minutes, it's been just me, the other runners, an occasional passing car, and the aid station volunteers. But now, as I run up the slight incline to where two main highways intersect, I see the course is lined with cheering fans, holding awesome signs. I see, "Chafe now, brag forever" and "Every step is one step closer to beer". Oh, and my personal favorite, "Chuck Norris can't run a marathon". There's my Hubby and friend Kristen running toward me. Jeremiah takes my jacket, offers a gel packet and some more tylenol, as well as some encouraging words, "You're doing great and looking strong!"

9:10 am: My awesome friend Kristen drove all the way up to Ft. Collins to help me run the last 7 miles, the hardest miles by far, of the marathon. She meets me right before mile 19 at the bottom of "Bagel Hill", the biggest hill on the course. We work our way up to the top, and I start to feel it. The heavy-leg, lactic acid soaked muscle feeling. Up until this point, I had no problem holding a sub 9 minute/mile pace. But now.....things are starting to really mental resolve is chunking away piece by piece.....and my shoes feel like they're filled with Quik-set cement.

9:20 am: Less than an hour left to go (I hope!) and only 5 and a half miles. I see my Husband cheering for the last time until the finish line. We jump on to a winding bike path that promises to take us to the finish. I have no idea what's coming as this is the only part of the course I wasn't able to see before the race; a mistake I will not make again. And I am so thirsty! I'm honestly on the verge of tears looking for the next aid station. I opted to not carry my own water fearing the extra weight it would put on my broken foot. Early dehydration is setting in.

9:30 am: Kristen is smiling, encouraging me that we're getting close to the finish. She's also giving pep talks to other runners who, I'm sure, look about as miserable as I look right now.

9:52 am: 3 miles to go. Under normal circumstances, 3 miles feels like nothing to me. When you're doing 10 mile tempo runs & 20 mile long runs, 3 miles feels like eating dessert and taking a nap. But not today. I want to lie down on the side of the trail and cry.

10:18 am: We turn off the trail onto a road. There in the not-to-far distance is what I've been waiting for- the Finish Line! Kristen says, "There it is Jenny! Run it home, you're almost finished!" and drops off the course to watch the finish with the spectators.

10:20 am: I cross the finish line, arms raised, elated to have finished and to have finished well. I gulp down an entire bottle of water, take my awesome medal and commemorative poster, and look for my husband. 4:05, final time.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Broken foot, Broken dreams.....

Runner's are not strangers to pain. In fact, I'd go so far as to say, that on most runs, most days, most runners feel some sort of pain in their body. But running, as my coaches always said, is 90% mental. So we train our brains to run through the pain, ignore the pain, or frankly, to just deal with it. But occasionally something hurts in a different way and a little alert in our brains goes off. That's what happened to me last Monday.

I was on what was supposed to be an easy 10 mile run. The trail was dirt, mostly downhill, and I was enjoying the thought that this run would only take an hour and a half (not the 3+ hours I had been trudging through as of late). However, around mile 5, I felt a pain, a shock of pain, that radiated through my foot with each step. I stopped for a moment, then started running again- still there. I walked for a while, tried running again- still there. That's when I called my Hubby to come pick me up.

Turns out my foot is fractured, likely the result of high arches mixed with concrete trails and lots of mileage. My podiatrist seems to think I can still run this marathon (which is, as I write, only 8 days away) as long as I wear the boot, don't run until race day, and take lots of pain killers. He's confident the foot will heal (enough) by race morning. In fact, he never even suggested not running the marathon. Regardless, I feel like my mental resolve and pre-race focusing is completely shot. Instead I'm constantly wondering if I will be able to run, how horrible the pain will be, or if I'll have to take the dreaded DNF next to my name. Only time will tell. But for now, I'm trying to stay positive.....and spending lots of time on the elliptical.....oh, and lugging this boot around everywhere I go.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Half Marathon and Half Way There

On Sunday I did the Platte River Half Marathon for the second time ever. With only three weeks left until the marathon, I hoped to get a good, confidence boosting race under my feet. My husband ran, too- his first half-marathon ever, and my third.

The week before the race, kept messing with me: rainy and 30 degrees one minute, sunny and 50 the next. Their trickery explains why, on race morning, I was incredibly indecisive: what should I wear? Is it going to rain? Snow? Should I carry hydration or just use the aid stations?

As the announcer gave the two-minute warning over the loud-speaker, I made a last minute decision to ditch the coat and gloves and made my way to the start line.

The race started in three random waves. Wave 1 was "those who think they can win" and wave 2 and 3 were determined by projected pace. I went off with about 1,000 other runners in wave #2, quickly weaving through downtown Littleton.

I saw Grandma and my three kiddos cheering as I passed. My two youngest were adorable in a green wagon with sun hats on, while my oldest daughter reached out her hand to high-five any willing runners as they passed.

I started strong, about an 8:15 mile, and settled in with a group of "running buddies" who likely did not even notice I was there. I, however, felt a comraderie with my like-pacers and even took to giving them nicknames. There were the "Two Doctors", very tall and skinny 50-something men who seemed to hold a 8:15 pace so consistently and assuredly. There was "Marathon Cankle" who earned the name from the Hawaii Marathon tech shirt she donned, and the giant size of her calf muscles that were, honestly, quite cankle-ish. And my last buddy, "Polka-dot" a late twenty-something female that was wearing a very cute turquoise polka-dot running skirt.

I held the pace quite easily for the first 7 or 8 miles. One Doctor and Marathon Cankles fell behind me around the 4 mile aid station when they chose the walk-while-I-drink-my-cup-of-water method, while I opted for the drink-half-spill-half-down-my-shirt-while-still-running-method. Around the half-way point, Doctor #2 lengthened his stride and ditched our group for a faster (but not cooler) sub 8 mile crew.

Around the 8 mile mark or so, I could feel the lactic acid adding pounds to my legs. I slowed considerably and wondered why I had started out so fast. Polka-dot slowed, too, so we plodded along together through the hardest miles of the half marathon.

The Kansas-like head-wind was starting to make me cranky around mile 10. I was making my way up a long, gradual hill with my head down when the guy next to me took his earphone out and signaled for me to do the same.

"Is this the 'Big Hill'?" he asked.

I laughed, "Nope. Not even close."

"Dang. I was really hoping this was it and my friends were just wimpy when they complained about the 'scary, big hill at the end."

"I wish," I said while putting my earbud back in. "It's not 'til after the mile 12 marker, and you seriously can't miss it."

The "big hill", is a long viaduct you have to run up, across, and down to the finish line on the other side. I knew to hit my goal of a 1:49 I'd have to hit mile 12 at 1:38, so when I hit it at 1:41, it was obvious my goal wasn't going to happen today. I was, however, 2 minutes ahead of my PR so I knew as long as I could maintain for this last mile, I'd still walk away with a new best.

I clicked to my money-song on my IPod, motored up the hill, and did everything I could to just keep my feet moving. Both legs were solid cement at this point, and at least 10 pounds heavier than they were 12.5 miles ago. When I started coming down the other side, I could see the finish-line. Hallelujah. I gave what I had left, and crossed at 1:52:20 (about a 8:35/mile pace)and over two minutes faster than my previous best. I put my foot up on the gate to get my chip clipped-off, downed two(yes,two)bottles of water, and turned to watch my friends and Hubby come in.

We drank some beer, ate some food, and shared our war-stories. I welcomed my Hubby to the half-marathon club and congratulated my friends on great finishes. I walked away with some confidence for the upcoming marathon, as well as a fearful thought: I would half to race TWICE as far as I did today...twice as far.....

Monday, March 21, 2011

Top 10 List: Things I Learned Running 20 Miles

1) If you're tummy is hurting before the run, take your Hubby's advice and find a bathroom. Squatting on the side of the trail leads to nothing but embarassing, and maybe messy, memories.

2) Don't break your sunglasses trying to dig toilet paper out of your running pack (see #1). Especially if the run is, say, 3 hours. Not fun.

3) Cutting your hand on your camelback clip will cause bleeding. Oh, and there are NO bandaids or first aid stations on running trails.

4) Nothing else can lift your spirits from a bad start (see #1-3) like your kiddos. Talk about God's timing- I was crossing a street about 5 miles into my run just in time to see my mom and the kiddos driving to school. Cheered me right up.

5) The value of knowing restroom locations on trails is absolutely priceless. 20 miles, 4 potty breaks, and only 1 trail squat (again, see #1). I'd say that's a pretty good day. Thanks, Alison, for sharing your wisdom with me ;)

6) Runners, aka pedestrians, ALWAYS have the right of way. Seriously. Stop next time you see someone crossing the road, dummy.

7) The best running songs ever: Where is the Love. Raise Your Glass. Poker Face.
Sure, sure they're overplayed, but they all have a great running beat

8) Worst running songs ever: Down by the Bay. The Books of the Bible. The More We Get Together.

Not sure why I had all the kids' music on my IPhone......?

9) Always try to finish your run at or before your final destination, even if it means circling around a bit somewhere along the way. There is nothing worse than approaching your stopping point, realizing you still have half a mile left, and having to run past your house, car, or gym to finish the run. Trust me, folks. I made this mistake on my 18 mile run, learned from it, and did things the right way today.

10) Never underestimate the value of a friend running the last few (or in this case, eight) miles with you. There is only so much time you can spend with yourself, only so much music you can listen to, and only so long you can keep your feet moving without the aid of distraction.

Thanks, Kristen, for telling me the story behind the "Friday" song, what it was like to cover the crime beat at a W. Virginia newspaper, and only the positive things about the Colorado Marathon.

20 miles- check!

One...Two...Three Trips to the Chiropractor

I carried Lily into the house last Wednesday, like a do a least a half dozen times a day. Except this time, when I set her and my purse and my gym bag down, something in my back tweaked. Bad.

I'd planned on getting in a speed workout before the kiddos swimming lessons that night, but instead made a beeline down Broadway to my Chiropractor.

"Oh......this is pretty bad" he said as I lay down on the table. "What'd you do?"

"Nothing" I said, "Seriously, just the normal, everyday stuff."

After two more visits, he determined my spine was fine and the muscle was only sprained, not torn.

"Optimistically, you could be running in the morning. However, my guess is you'll need several days, maybe even a week for the muscle to repair itself," he said.

"Just great," I thought. I already missed my speed workout, I had a 10 mile run with a friend planned for the morning, and a 20 miler scheduled in for Sunday. And the marathon is only six weeks away.

I took three solid days off. I was less focused on missing all my training runs and more focused on the beautiful day when I would be pain free again. When I'd be able to play with the kids, pick Lily up when her newly mobile feet failed her, and maneuver the stairs without cringing.

By Saturday I was 75% normal. By Sunday I was 90%. And just in time for Monday, I was well enough to tackle the 20-miler.

So what did I learn from all of this?

Injuries happen. A few days off will not ruin months of training. And ice + wine + catching up on the DVR = a happy mommy.

Miles, Mansions, & (Chocolate) Milk

I hitched a ride with the hubby on his way to work on a Wednesday morning. All three kiddos were staying home with G'ma while I embarked on my longest run yet- 18 miles. The Hubster dropped me off at the intersection of Hampden & Colorado to catch the Highline Canal trail.

The first six miles weaved past million dollar homes, pricey private schools (ahem....Kent Denver), & beautiful open spaces. I felt great & loved seeing new scenery. Only once before had I been on this section of the trail: on a bike, towing two 40lb kiddos in the bike trailer, while 5 months preggo with Lily.

The second six miles took me from the intersection of the Highline and Orchard all the way to Broadway. Still felt great, and around mile 9 I had a fun little pick-me-up when I ran in to a friend from the Y who was on her long run for the week, a 12-miler. She is training for her first iron-man in May, about 2 weeks after my first marathon. It felt like an "only-in-Colorado" moment: running into a friend out on some crazy-long trail, who is training for some crazy-long race, while I am training for a (less)-crazy long race.

The last six miles was tough. I decided I didn't want to continue on the route I'd planned, afraid of what running the steep downhill for the last two miles would do to my already tired legs. Instead I jumped off the trail to meander around the streets near Heritage High School in an attempt to do an even 18 miles. This was the hardest part of my run- watching the GPS slowly tick off the final two miles as I ran up one road (only to find it dead end) and down another road. My feet felt like I'd tied 5 pound weights to them. My ears were tired from almost three hours of non-stop music. My mind was tired from counting down the miles, minutes, and seconds.

I wanted three things when I finished: to sit down, to take a hot shower, and to drink some chocolate milk. 18 miles- check!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Finding Rest

In motherhood, like in marathon training, consistency is important. Having an established schedule, fitting in all the pieces you need to fit in, and finding the craved balance between work and play and learning and rest.

Rest. More than any other aspect of my training, resting is what I struggle with the most. Only after I've done my intervals, pace work, cross-training in the pool and on the bike (tri season is approaching, afterall) and clocked my long run, will I allow myself to have a rest day. If I still have things unfinished, speed workouts un-run, hills un-climbed, then I feel like there's a little stress ball sitting on my shoulder and chiming in my ear all day, "You know you still need to...."

The same is true with my children and home life. There are meals to be prepared, minds to be schooled, parks to be played on, books to be read, laundry (mountains worth!) to be done, and dishes to be washed.

Last week, some horrible decisions were made in my home. The dog, after rolling in the mud (followed by the dead grass) decided to sit on my white couch. Thomas, armed with a sword and Hulk-hand, decided to thwack his sister with all his might. Anna decided she'd learned enough math to suffice for the rest of her adult-life and then decided to throw an all-out fit to let the world know of her decision. And Lily, sweet Lily, decided she would spend the morning sitting on the floor (next to the newly muddied couch) and scream....and scream....and scream.

It was in the midst of this noise and mess and chaos in the living room, that I declared a Rest day for the Watson clan. The little stress ball, attempting to protest, said, "But you still need to.....and they still need to...."

"No." I calmly (can you believe I stayed calm through all of this?)said. "Today, we will rest."

It was a lesson learned the hard way, but it was a lesson learned none-the-less.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lonely Sprints

In terms of March in Colorado, yesterday was as gorgeous as it gets. The sun was shining, the temps were in the low 60's, and the wind was on hiatus for the afternoon. I usually do my weekly speed workouts on the treadmill, but I decided the spring weather was too nice to pass up and headed out for some hill sprints.

Hill sprints always bring back memories of high school cross-country for me. Our coaches had a gift for finding the steepest, most grueling hills the town of Steamboat had to offer. They were often roads with such a steep grade that they wouldn't pass current regulations or even ski trails that were difficult enough to earn a blue rating in winter months. The hills in my neighborhood are no where near this caliber, but by Littleton standards they are pretty tough.

I did 5 hill repeats (the hill was long and I was running late getting the kids fed and to swimming lessons)and found myself feeling pretty lonely. I longed to be back in cross country where I had teammates to battle the hill with me, help me keep pace, and dig down to the next level of exertion. Instead, it was just me.....and a few lone kids walking home from school....and one woman out with her dog.....and one boy long-boarding down the hill I was sprinting up. But mostly just me.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Bring Olga Home

I am so blessed it's ridiculous! We are SO blessed it's ridiculous! ALL of my friends children and my children are loved beyond measure, taken care of to the point of exhaustion, squeezed and kissed and cuddled all day long. They are flourishing, exploring, learning, and dreaming. Everyday! Our children's needs are met, their mouths are fed, and their hearts are protected. How wonderful if that was the case for all of God's children in the world today?

But we are smart enough, aware enough, to know that isn't the truth. There is unimaginable suffering among children in our world every second, every minute, everyday. And I know that I, like you, feel overwhelmed by the thought of our own children suffering- my little Anna, or Thomas, or Lily- in pain, isolated, alone, hurting. But today, we can do something for one of those children.

There is a 5 year-old girl named Olga who is currently living in an orphanage in eastern Europe who has down-syndrome. In the part of the world where she lives, they give orphans like Olga until the age of five before they transfer them to an institution- for the rest of their life.

But the good news, and the way you can help, is there are people, mommmies, here in America fighting for Olga and other children like her to find a forever-family. And the best part is, Olga has a family poised to adopt her- the Abells- but they need $7,000 as quickly as possible for a Dossier for Olga. Before she gets transferred.

Let's give Olga the opportunity to flourish, explore, dream, and be cuddled and kissed to exhaustion. Let's bring Olga "home".

Please visit my dear friend Angela's blog to help:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Training Log: Easy 10 mile run.

This week my long run was only 10 miles. Yes, I said only. Compared to the 14 & 16 mile runs I've logged lately, 10 felt, in the words of my 6 year old daughter, easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

In true Colorado fashion, it was a peaceful, bluebird day on the trails. I did a big loop, maneuvering through three different trails to cover my 10 miles- Lee Gulch, Platte River, & the Highline.

It was one of those runs where I remembered why I do this. Why I put on my Brooks day after day and subject my knees, feet, and shins to torture. There is just no better way to explore God's creation than with my own two feet.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Oh! My Aching......Everything!!!

The sky was blue, air crisp, and the trails finally clear enough for a (gasp) run outside! I needed to do 16 miles so I mapped out this huge loop around Chatfield reservoir that promised beautiful scenery and adventure. Judging from the satellite images, I could do most of the 16 miles on a paved trail that traversed the perimeter of the lake, but would have to cut across a random field, some clusters of trees, and a railroad track to meet up with the Highline Canal trail to loop back to the start.

When I finally set out, it was much colder than I'd anticipated. I zipped my jacket up tight around my chin, put my head down, and leaned into the freezing headwind. I wound down the Mary Carter Greenway trail, met up with the C470 west trail, and started climbing the hill by Chatfield dam to enter the state park.

At the top of the hill, I stopped. The trail was a dead end, covered with 4-5 inches of snow. Apparently Chatfield does not plow their paved trails (as I'd hoped they would) and I would need to be re-routed.

I hopped onto the road and set out toward the backside of the lake, I'd have to do plan B- out 8, back 8. I hate out and back runs when I have to cover a huge distance- every landmark, every hill, every shrub dusted with snow, every curb of the road you have to cover TWICE. And when you've finally hit the turn around, ready to run toward home, there's nothing new awaiting you for the next 8 miles.

An old injury in my calf starting aching around mile 6 and by mile 10 it was screaming. But I had to keep going because it was six miles back to my car. I suppose I could have walked, but that would have taken longer and the LAST thing I wanted was to be out here in this wind, on this road, any longer than necessary. So I kept on running....kept up my pace....just trying to finish the 16 miles.....

The last 2 miles were the hardest, perhaps because it was two miles further than I'd ever run before. However, I think there's something about getting close to the end of a hard workout that makes time slow down and the miles drag on. I picked up my pace (as much as I could with the aching calf muscle) in hopes of finishing sooner.

Finally, after 2 & 1/2 hours of straight running the parking lot came into view. I'd done it. It was freaking hard, but I'd done it.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Treadmill Test

Thrice this week my plans have been thwarted by a sneaky foe named snow. And for whatever reason, the weathermen around here could not accurately predict his evil plan.

Which is why, early Monday morning, I could be found at the Y on the treadmill. For 90 solid minutes, I pounded and pounded the moving rubber belt.....and didn't "go" anywhere. I read two full magazines, watched two episodes of House Hunters,one episode of Cake Boss, and even talked with friends and passers-by. Physically the 10 and a half miles wasn't very taxing, but mentally it was so tough that I had to resort to playing games with my own mind.

I ran the first two miles at a 2.0 incline, miles 3 & 4 at a 1.5 incline, miles 5 & 6 at a 1.0 incline,& 7 & 8 at a .05 incline. So when the hour mark hit and I wanted so badly for my legs to actually take me somewhere again, I couldn't get off- I'd finally earned the 0.0 incline for two glorious miles.

And the moral of the story for anyone out there who is (or is considering) training for a spring 1/2 or full is.....

Don't talk smack about the treadmill, because the day will come when you will need him.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Runners. Yeah, we're different.

Adidas used this as their campaign slogan from 1999-2000, around the time of my sophomore year of high school. They ran ads featuring runners in usual runner-type predicaments: squatting behind a tree doing their business on a busy trail,taping nipples, rubbing vaseline in precarious places that are prone to chaff-age, and perfecting the single-barrel farmer blow. Our cross country team was so inspired by the unusual ads that we adopted the slogan as our own and even had t-shirts printed. After all, we could have been our own Adidas ad.

One of my coaches, Aaron Ciszek, was a crazy fast runner, sub 2:45 marathoner, and swore by chips and salsa as the best pre-race dinner out there. He was frequently seen around town on his bike with his skis sticking out of a piece of pvc pipe fastened to the back of his bike frame. He was almost always heading up the snow-packed streets to the ski mountain. Usually in a blizzard.

Rumor had it that my other coach, John Smith, shaved his legs. Apparently, smooth legs took vital seconds off his triathlon swim time. In the four years he coached me, I only remember him competing in one, maybe two, triathlons, but his legs were always silky-smooth. He loved to say, "boot & rally" which loosely meant, "If you're gonna puke, puke, but you better get right back up and finish what you started." And we always did.

And, if you can believe it, our coaches were not the strangest sampling of the team. We also had a skilled river-dancer, a boy named Michaelangelo who penned love poems, a kid with a hit-list reserved for anyone who crossed him (we all tried our hardest to stay off the list!)and
possibly even a witch.

For all my mocking, my cross country team was full of some amazing people. People of character and commitment, with just a pinch of crazy. After all, we LIKED running, which alone is reason enough to claim residency in the not-so-normal column. Like most runners, we know the horrible mental and physical pain that comes with the eighth-400 meter repeat, the loneliness of long, weaving trails and two hour runs, and what it feels like to "boot & rally", wipe your mouth off on your sleeve, and keep on trekking.

And here's the kicker- we run anyway!

Again and again and again.

Monday, January 24, 2011

And Just Because My Life isn't Crazy Enough......

Several years ago, when T was 8 months old, we bought a new house, moved across the city, and started our lives in Littleton, CO. Not only did I have my sweet boy at the time, but also a sassy, energetic 2 year old girl. Jer was working the usual crazy hours of a man in the car industry, and I was staying home with my two kiddos. So, just to make things more interesting, I suggested we get a puppy. That was probably the hardest winter I've encountered. Charlie peed everywhere, chewed everything, and even partially-digested some of our socks. Yup, I found them in his you-know-what while pooper-scoopering our yard.

So in true Jenny fashion, I decided we, once again, could not let our lives become too easy. However this time we had 3 kids, my husband still worked the same crazy hours, and I am homeschooling. Naturally I decided it was a good time to train for my first marathon.

Sunday was my longest run ever- 14 miles. It was 25 degrees outside, windy as all-heck, and I had been experiencing some GI discomfort from our recent vacation. It would have been easy to put it off for another day. But if you haven't noticed already, I'm seldom drawn to the easy-way.

I was on a trail near my home that weaves its way for miles and miles through neighborhoods, farms, and parks. The sky was the Colorado-blue all natives love and huge, white mountains hovered behind me on my way out, and loomed in front of me on my way back home. It was beautiful. Everything about the run was beautiful. God's creation surrounding me. The comaderie of the other runners- equipped with jackets, gloves, and camel-baks- also out on their weekly "long run". And the fact that I was doing it- I was mentally blocking out the sharp-pain through my knees, the chaffing on my abdomen and armpits, and the reality that this run was barely more than half the distance of the race I had signed up to run.

When I finished I thought, "Man, that was tough. I never want to run that far again."

Well, at least not again this week.

Total running time was just over 2 hours.

I am awesome at this blog thing....

Don't you love how I made this grand entrance in to the blog-o-sphere with a post entitled "Finally, a blog" and a written commitment to write about Watson family 2008. That's right, I posted twice two years ago and haven't logged on since. I am awesome. Which also explains why I have so many followers......

I'm not making any commitments to blog-evity this time. And it's quite possible you may not hear from me again until 2013.