Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Run Down Memory Lane

(Picture taken in our dorm, back in 2002)

10 years ago, Blake and I met in the dorm of UCI, almost to the week. We didn't start dating till November, but as Monday starts welcome week at UCI, it will be ten years since the two of us were moving into the dorm.

So, partly because of that, and partly because I needed a place to run this week with Blake, I did my weekly training running around and through UCI. It was so much fun! We reiminsed about old classes, the places we used to eat at, the school gym, and even went inside our old dorm (which was open because it was move in day).

I can't believe how much time has passed, but we are still together, and still as happy as we were way back when in the dorm. Yay for UCI and all the memories it gave.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

September Ancedotes

With school starting, I haven't had much time to post on this blog, which means that when I look back over this month in the future, it will appear as if this September was uneventful, which it wasn't!

Though, at the same time, nothing really has earned a whole post, so instead here is my mid-September highlight real.

I have been having a good time with this class.  The difference between 30-32 students and 25 students is huge, and makes me feel that I can connect with each student on a more individual basis. Also, I have a student whose story is near to the story my daughter will have, and I have found so much joy in teaching her English. It has been interesting for me to see where the gaps of a non-native English speaker are, like not knowing what a desert is, and drawing a picture for her to get the idea of the word. The first day typically sets the tone for the year, and this year's first day went great, so I have a lot of hope there.

The weekend after my half marathon, we took a trip to the zoo.
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Though my picture is of the giraffes, my favorite part was the same as it always is- the orangutans. We got there just at the right time too! There was a zoo docent there, and she was talking about them and answering questions, and then we got to see feeding time. But before any of the orangutans went toward the food, the docent predicted how each of them would react, even to the detail of one of them not ever letting go of the structure as she reached for the food because she didn't trust the ground.

Part of me is still very daunted at the idea of a marathon, but for the most part I have passed that hump and now feel confident that with training, I can do it! A big step in this direction happened on Saturday when I completed a 12.7 run. The thing is, that run was very hot, and very hilly, so my running partner and I took many walking breaks. Sadly, she eventually got to the point where she decided it would be unhealthy to continue because she was feeling dizzy, so we got picked up. The silver lining is that between all the walking breaks, I felt great at the end. Unlike how I felt after my half, or my previous long training runs, I didn't feel like my body was beat up at the end, I actually felt surprisingly functional. Even with the walking breaks, I was going fast enough over all that on my marathon day, I wouldn't be picked up and escorted off the course. Isn't that great! It made me feel good that even before training, with enough breaks, I can do longer distances without paying for it later that day.

I also had a fabulous Saturday volunteering at the Woodbridge invitational.
My running club had asked for volunteers, and when I heard Blake was going to be gone all day, I thought it would be fun, and I had a great time!

We continue to trudge through the paperwork involved in the home study update, and I think we will finish that early October, if not sooner. I don't know exactly what stage we are at in Ghana or what it takes to get a court date, but I do know that our Ghanian contact is working on it (because there might have been a problem with our paperwork, but it seems to be a false alarm).

We did learn today that our great coordinator is stepping down from her position to spend more time with her family. I am disappointed to not get to have her as our primary contact, but I do feel confident that we will still get through the process with minimal interruptions caused by her decision.

I can't believe there is a hockey lock out the first year that I was going to follow it the whole year! Arg! Owners, back down, and bring the game back! Pronto! Games should start next month! /end rant

I have been having fun creating a registry for our daughter that I can share with others at some point in the future. I don't know if I mentioned it on here before or not, but I do think that as much fun as it would be to have showers now, the best time will be after we file the I-600 in Ghana. This is for a couple of reasons- 1- we would get to see her, interact with her, and get to figure out what size she is. 2- the I-600 is the second to last step. Once that is approved, it is just getting the visa, and that step only takes a few months, and then she will be home. So it would put it relatively close to when she comes home, so I know what age/ size stuff to ask for, but would also give us enough time to get everything set up and ready in her room (and give me time to "nest"). 3- I think this will be the hardest stage. They are all hard, but after I meet her, then have to leave her in Ghana for a few more months, I think I will be dying for distractions and friends and families to come along and support me and keep my mind on the fun we will have when she gets home, not on the sadness that she isn't home yet.

Blake has always been a realist, and the time of waiting for referral meant that he wouldn't do any house stuff for our child's room or baby proofing etc. But now that we know who it will be, he is letting us go to Lowe's and order the things that the room needs to be pulled together and become a child's room, like has been intended from the start.

So you see, busy, fun, full September so far!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Fastest Olsen (in the Disneyland Half Marathon)

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My second of three goals was completed on Sunday as I crossed the finish line of the Disneyland half marathon!

My time was not even as good as I had hoped (2:14 when I was hoping for 2:10), and slower than I have run on even training mornings. I was not the fastest Lisa, or even close to the fastest in my division. But leave it to my dad to find something that I could claim as a feat in this race, and of the eight people with my last name who ran in the race, I was the fastest of those.

I was really surprised when I saw that I was in the first corral out of seven, since I am really not that fast, so I purposely stayed towards the back of that first group, and there were a ton of runners there that day (17,000)  so I always had people in front of and behind me.

It was a pretty neat experience running through California Adventure and Disneyland, and it was really neat running on the field of Angel Stadium, possibly even more exciting than the other two since I had been through the parks before, but never on the field of a major league baseball stadium.

In between those main events, it was mostly just running on streets, parking lots, or the river trail near all of those things, but I saw the effort that Disney put into it by having cheerleaders, girl scouts, dance teams, hula dancers, and others along the road to cheer for us. I really loved the fact that my name was on my tag, because it meant that they could cheer for me by name, and it helped me keep going, especially towards the end. Note to spectators, I also truly appreciated the "Go stranger" type of signs, because unlike "Go Mary" I felt like I was getting supported and cheered for along the way, even when "my people" weren't at that spot. Of course have signs for your people, but having a sign to support the random person was a really nice touch.

My dad did go out of the way to cheer for me, and I really appreciated that. The first spot that he waited, I didn't see him amongst the crowd, and we hadn't broken up at all, so he didn't see me either in the pack of people (at that point there was no more than a couple feet around me on all sides). I did see him around mile 7, and he was in Angel Stadium and I saw him there too, then he was close to the finish line and of course I saw him afterwards. Blake was at the start when I began, then he waited at the end, and I didn't see him during the end part, I guess there was too many people.

As it was my first big race, I really didn't know what to expect, but if I was to do it again, I would make specific plans with family members of where to be, and tell them that if there was a lot of spectators in that area, to be at the very beginning or very end of that group of spectators so that I would be able to spot them. For them to be able to spot me, it would have helped my dad to know what I was wearing, or for me to be wearing something unique (instead of just running clothes).

There were people stopping and taking pictures, but since I did want to have a good time, I only stopped once in Angel stadium to get a picture without moving.
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I have no idea why I have my hand the way I do, lol, but it does bother me that it looks like that!

I took a picture at the start, but my photobucket app on my phone somehow hasn't upload it yet, so oh well, it wasn't that great of a picture anyways. Though, the next ones I will post aren't that great either, but they are chronicaling part of the race, so you will get to see them in all their blurry glory. Keep in mind, I took all of these while still running...

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Thunder mountain

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Me, while running (Kind of artsy lol)

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Approaching Angel Stadium

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They would put our picture up on the big screen as we ran by

Overall, I am glad I did it, and it was a fairly interesting course for a half marathon. But from mile 12-13, I was really considering throwing in the towel for training for a marathon. I was beat, and ready to be done, and the thought that in just a few more months from now I plan to do a whole second half marathon from that point was honestly depressing and overwhelming.

When Blake and I talked about it later that day, I still was hesitant about the thought of training, where all my long runs are that distance plus some! But not to worry, I am still going to press on and do the marathon. It came down to two things. First, though I haven't gotten many donations yet for my charity of choice, I did get some money raised for that, and I am still hopeful for more, and those donations were made for me completing all of it, not quitting halfway! Secondly, and more importantly, I went back over my original blog post about why I made this crazy goal.

As I re-read that post, I was reminded how completing a marathon has been a bucket list type goal of mine for a long time, and how when our child finally comes home I won't have the energy to put into those training runs and how my Saturdays are likely to become filled with her activities, and won't be able to be used for doing a marathon.

Besides these primary motivations, there was also the simple fact of wanting to live a life without regrets. I can almost guarantee that if I don't follow through, and cover 26.2 miles on that February morning, that I will walk around thinking about how I was going to run a marathon, and when people run marathons I will think, "I almost did one of those." Did it hurt to run 13 miles? Sure. Was I sore the next day (today)? Of course. Will the pain and soreness last forever? No!

I don't doubt even a little bit that while I am walking/running for 4+ hours I will be thinking that I was pretty foolish to come up with the idea and plan to run a marathon. But I am also confident that when I cross that finish line, I will enjoy a sense of accomplishment that will make my difficult weekends leading up to it worth it.

Also, there is something kind of cool about the fact that every long training run I finish, I have been able to think to myself that I have never run that far before. I compare my endurance with my running ability this time last year as I was working up to running for just 3 miles. I think about how I used to believe that 6 miles was a long, challenging distance for me. All these things have gotten me through my 9, 10, 12 mile training runs leading up to the half marathon, and I hope and believe that these things will also help me get through my (sigh) 14, 16, 18, 20 mile training runs leading up to the marathon (I have read to not do more than 20-22 miles before the actual race because it is more detrimental to do such big distances than helpful as training.)

1 Corinthian 9: 24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27a I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. (NLT)
Philippians 3:14b I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.
 15-16So let's keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you'll see it yet! Now that we're on the right track, let's stay on it.(The Message)
*note- I fully realize that those verses are taken out of context as they both refer to the analogy of treating God's will for our lives like training and our lives like the race, but I think they both apply well for me choosing to keep going towards the marathon.