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March? Huh?

I’m confused. My calendar says it’s March 2nd. It’s not March yet, is it? I know February is a short month, but it didn’t shrink to 7 days did it? Because I truly believe I missed at least 3 weeks of the month somewhere. Maybe in a pile of puke-covered laundry and ice covered streets? The kids have had so few days where they’ve both been to school for a full day, that I feel like they’ve only had school for about a week since Christmas. MARCH? I don’t think so. Nope. Not happening.

I especially am in denial because – on the first Saturday of March – I have a 12-hour race I’m supposed to be participating in. And if today is March 2nd, then that means my 12-hour race is this Saturday and I’m NOT AT ALL READY.

At one point, my goal for this race was to just beat last year’s distance of 52 miles. But then my groin got strained and I sprained my ankle and I used the weeks after my last race to rest, recover, and eat. I had also considered using the flat course as a motivation to shoot for my first sub-6hr 50K. But neither of those goals seem attainable right now so I’m kinda just thinking that my goal now will be FIRST: Show up. SECOND: Make forward progress for 12 hours. If I can keep moving for 12 hours? I’ll consider myself a success. Even if it’s walking 20 miles instead of running 50. But honestly? I had such a great running weekend that I’m not going to get down on myself too much next weekend if I can’t even stay mobile for 12 hours. I’m coming back, I’m feeling better, I’m not going to get too down on myself if next weekend fails. The one great thing about this race is that you get a plaque with a number on it no matter HOW MANY miles you complete. If it’s 1 or 100. So there’s no “DNF”.

I do want to keep up my WHOPPING 2-Day Good Eating streak for the month of March. 2 days is probably my longest streak since early January, so – you know – I hate to break that streak of awesomeness.

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Exceeds Expectations

Remember how we fell into the 3″-5″ band of snow predictions yesterday? Well look at the band of totals at the end of the 24-hour day.

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Huntsville ended up with an official tally of 8.1″ I believe, breaking all sorts of single-day snow records, and February snow records, and Sled Improvising records. The Pool Intertube Float Sled is the BEST improvised sled I’ve ever tried. I’ve done laundry baskets, rubbermaid lids, storage containers, but the intertube? THE BEST. I actually was able to go pretty fast since I’m heavier. When I wasn’t filming I could push Nikki so she’d go faster, but she needed a good push whereas I just needed to not face plant when I did a jump start down the hill.

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Donnie didn’t get out in it at all because he has major issues with The Cold since that unseasonably cold triathlon 2 years ago where he experienced early onset hypothermia and had to be picked up on the side of the bike course by the Fire Department. I swear it’s almost like PTSD, he just can’t handle being cold now. And Wes only played in it a little, which is INSANE. He didn’t even intertube sled with us! I’m hoping to get him out in it more this morning before it starts to melt off.

Basically it was Nikki and I intertubing down our hill for an hour last night after dinner. We haven’t seen this much snow since 2011, so I’m trying to savor it enough to last another 4 years. I want to get the kids out in it as soon as the sun comes up since it will start to melt off today, but I’m worried our neighbors might kill us. We’re the only ones with small kids at the top of the hill, most of the small kids are at the bottom. Although, I’m betting they’ll make the trek up this morning to do some sledding.

Or intertubing…whatever…

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Snow Day.

For the first time in WEEKS I slept solidly past 3am, only to be awoken at 3:25 when Nikki’s alarm clock went off. I’m assuming she had set it for 3:25pm as some sort of timer for reading time, but Taylor Swift woke me singing about that blank space and I sat there, laughing at my life.

School is out and the Governor declared a State of Emergency in advance of the snow storms rolling in today. Oddly enough, most of the snow is predicted to fall South of us, meaning E may actually get hit more than we will. The latest forecast I saw said 2-4 inches for Huntsville, which is enough to shut us down as a city. People up North like to make fun of the South and how we can’t handle snow, and it always bugs the shit out of me. I don’t mind when my neighbors make fun of us, just like it’s okay for your siblings to mock your parents, but not your spouse. If you don’t live in the South, you can’t make fun of it. You have no idea how little our infrastructure is prepared for cold weather. Why should our cities spend money on those chemicals and trucks to treat roadways in advance of a storm when it only happens once a year, if that much. And also? We tend to get ice more often than snow. So people die in wrecks and downed trees even if there’s not an inch of snow on the ground. I have friends in Tennessee who went days without power. I suffered through 5+ days without power once when a tornado took out a huge node on our electrical grid and all I kept saying the entire 5 days was, Thank goodness it’s not cold.

No part of me understands why any of that is funny.

But if my friend down the street makes fun of us and the fact the city shuts down at the first flake? That’s a okay because we’re all in this together.

People also get really irritated when offices/cities/schools close before we really know for sure if there’s bad weather. But, here’s the thing, it’s hard to wait until the last minute when you have buses that start school runs early and staff showing up to cook breakfast. It’s much easier to make a call the night before, so that noone heads to work when they shouldn’t. And you know what? A girl in the town I attended college ended up paralyzed in a wreck when schools didn’t get closed early enough. I’ve also had to hide in the back room of a store across from one of my kid’s schools when they let school out too late and the tornado warning happened while we were supposed to be picking them up. So I’d much rather err on the side of caution. Give me 10 days of delayed school with dry roods just to avoid one morning where I wreck leaving my hill to take the kids to school.

AND! We have several highly populated areas at higher elevations in this town. Those families get ice/snow when I don’t, should they keep school on time when those families will risk their lives trying to make it of their mountains? No.

URG. These last two weeks of “winter weather” here have just irritated me. People complaining about school systems being over-cautious and making fun of us for shutting down city offices before there’s any hazard on the roads…WHY? Why waste your energy even expressing those words? What good does it do? And if it’s because you’re THAT angry or irritated, then let me try to locate the family of that girl I went to college with and maybe they can get you to chill the hell out. I know it’s a burden to deal with childcare. But our whole city gets delayed, so everyone in the office is dealing with the same crap. I know you can’t go to work if school is out. But let’s focus on the big picture, here. Bad weather could start as early as 11am, sooner in areas of higher elevation. Should they go half day and risk the kids who live in the higher elevations being stranded away from their homes? We have a whole city to be concerned with. Should we say, “F you!” to the ones who live at higher elevations?

And the one day they let us out half day last week when other school canceled entirely, people got made about that because the roads were slick on their way home. So, with that fresh on their minds, OF COURSE THE SCHOOL SYSTEM CLOSED IN ADVANCE OF THE STORM.

I just don’t understand why people get so angry. I mean, the people making the call have to make the call for the ENTIRE COMMUNITY. And they have to make the call based on the predictions of our local weather people who are sometimes just wrong. This is not an exact science.

So…I’m off to work with the kids surrounding me again today. Last week, on top of several shortened days of school due to bad weather, I also had 2 days with kids home sick. Lucky I work from home so I can do my best to get work done early and late if the middle of the day is not favorable. I’m fortunate in that regard. And I tend to just give the kids unrestricted access to screens because it gives me peace while I work. I’m not going to win any parenting awards, but I’ll make it, and if that keeps my community safe? I’m not going to complain.

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How Crazy Can Kim Get?

I just need to chronicle my nights over the last 2 weeks as some sort of document of how insane my life gets. Of the last 14 nights I’ve had 3 nights of shortened/restless sleep due to travel, 4 nights interrupted due to Wesley’s resurgence of foot cramps, (It’s because I’d been telling people they were getting better. I CURSED MYSELF.) 2 nights of weird stomach cramp issues from Wesley that I’m now blaming on Fritos. One of those nights was gave me about 3 hours of very, VERY interrupted sleep. And then last night…the pinnacle of it all…I was sleeping with Nikki and I woked up to her – wait for it…

PUKING ON ME.

Yes. ON me. That is a horrible way to wake up, I was frenzied but unconscious and having trouble processing what was going on. It was basically me scrambling around saying, “Nikki! Wait! Nikki! What? Nikki! Ack!” Until I finally just carried her to the bathroom during a lull and put her in front of the toilet.

I cleaned  all 40 million puke-soaked blankets (damn winter) off the bed and cleaned myself up.  We decided to sleep in the bathroom because she was worried she’d not realize she was puking again. Even sleeping in FRONT OF THE TOILET, she still missed and puked on the floor the next go around.  Therefore, I woke up every time she moved, trying to make sure she made it to the toilet.

You know, because sleeping on the floor of the bathroom would otherwise be SO PEACEFUL without the waking up when you hear your child move.

She also became weirdly chatty. While she was puking she was miserable, but then she was Miss Personality.

Finally, at 3:30am, my normal wake-up time, I gave up trying to sleep and came down to work. Wes was already sleeping in my office, which I can’t explain. He’s been sleeping in there in the mornings while I work, I have no idea why he slept in there all night. I set Nikki up in there too so I could start my day and (hopefully) get some actual work in between pukes and before it (hopefully not) hits me.

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I’m constantly hearing people say, “Oh…I only get/need 5-6 hours of sleep a night.” And I always feel like a big giant wus when I say, “Oh, that’s insane. I need 8 hours and I do everything in my power to get it. I can’t help getting up at 3:30am so I try to be in bed by 8pm as many nights a I can.”

I feel like it’s me admitting I’m still a child while the rest of the world has grown up.

But, y’all. I AM STILL A CHILD. I need my sleep! I become and emotional basketcase when I’m over-tired. And these last two weeks have not helped which is why I’m eating non-stop and sobbing over DisneySide videos with shadow-dancing Mickey Mouse!

(You cried too, didn’t you?)

So. Another day with minimal sleep. I’ll try my best to keep my emotional extremes to commercials for maxipads (Like a Girl gets me EVERY. DAMN. TIME.) and to cute videos of Red Pandas playing in the snow. And pray no one cuts me off at an intersection or honks at me for not turning when it was clear. I may just park on the shoulder of the road and cry for hours if that happens.

Or, I could always get the Crazy Giggles. That happens too when I’m overtired. And let me tell you, Crazy Giggles is just as scary to an outsider as Constant Sobbing.

Wish me luck! Here’s to emotional stability even without proper sleep!

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Ironman Chattanooga Spectator Recap

This is about as timely of an entry as I get!

Remember back when my husband did an Ironman? And beforehand I was worried about entertaining the kids for 14+ hours so you guys gave me suggestions? Everything worked out great! And I’ve been meaning to tell you all about it, but, you know…life got busy. For 6 months.

But we’re here now! With our Spectator recap! It’s probably a good thing I waited so long to write this because if it had all been fresh in my mind? It might have been 50 pages long.

The Day Before

Donnie actually got checked in on Friday, but Saturday he had to do one last “run through” and then he had to check in all of his gear. This meant he needed to swim/bike/run with all of his gear/clothing one time before race. This is normal practice as it ensures you’ll notice things like, if you forgot half of your tri kit. Or if your bike got misaligned in transport.  And then he’d need to take all of that gear and check it into transition. We also had the IronKids race that morning so Saturday was chock full of activities. Donnie didn’t want to do too much walking, so our plan was to just have him be there for the IronKids event and then he do his thing while we did ours, and we’d try to meet up with him if we could.

The kids and I walked all over the downtown area after IronKids and explored and just had tons of relaxing fun that day. We met up with Donnie after his run through and he was craving Sweet Potato fries. I pulled up Siri and asked her to find me Sweet Potato fries nearby and guys? IT WORKED. About 5 blocks away I found a sports bar type place that had Sweet Potato fries. It was pretty awesome. That was one of my more proud #TeamDonnie moments.

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IronKids

 

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Bluff View Art District

 

One of the GIANT transition areas. I think these are the "RUN BAGS" but they could be "BIKE BAGS" - one was red, one was blue.

One of the GIANT transition areas. These were “BIKE BAGS” so you grab yours before you get on your bike.

After Donnie ate, the kids and I went to go see a movie (I can’t remember which one now, THIS IS WHY I SHOULD HAVE DONE THIS IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THE WEEKEND.) and I felt we had sufficiently stayed out of Donnie’s hair so he could prep in his own headspace and not get distracted by us. It all went beautifully and he felt rested and ready. Then we donned our ear plugs and eye masks and tried to get to sleep while Donnie watched movies/TV to wind down.

Good plan, but they didn't stay on.

Good plan, but they didn’t stay on.

 

Race Day

Donnie wanted to get to transition to check in by about 4:30am so that he could get on an early bus to the swim start. It was a “first come, first serve” type swim start so he wanted to get a decent position in the pack. If you’ll recall, our hotel was a mile from transition, but we walked so that we wouldn’t have to deal with parking. We grabbed his bike pump and a few items we’d need for the next hour or two, and headed to the start. Wesley was not a big fan of the early wakeup time so I ended up carrying him a bit and Nikki carried our gear. My goal was to keep Wesley happy all day, even if it meant carrying him, and I have no regrets from that decision.

Donnie got air in his tires, got his body marking, did one last mental check of all of his gear, and it was time for us to send him on his way. We gave him his kisses and headed back to our hotel to get breakfast and pack our gear up for the day.

Our last photo before sending him on his way!

Our last photo before sending him on his way!

We were guessing he’d get in the water by 7:40am, so we wanted to be back down to the swim exit by 7am so we could get in position. (We knew it would take him about an hour to do the swim.) We hit up Starbucks, everyone grabbed their own bags, and we headed back to the transition area. At this point, my bag was full of water/towels/rain gear and the kids had the lighter bags with their entertainment choices for the day. We were prepared for rain (slight chance) and also prepared to be gone all day, just in case we didn’t have time to make it back to the hotel. Since our hotel was a mile away from the main activity, it was a huge ordeal to get there and back, there was no guarantee we’d be able to do that.

Swim

We got set up by the swim exit and the kids got to playing with a little girl who was there to cheer on her Mom. They sat on the blanket and played games while I stood on a small hill with a friend to watch the swimmers exit. Our plan was to see Donnie get out of the water, and then find the shuttle buses taking everyone out to Chickamauga where the bike course would come through twice. As the spectator crowd got thicker, it got much harder to see the racers coming out of the water. THANK GOD my friend saw Donnie because I did not and the day would have gone MUCH LESS SMOOTH if I had missed him coming out of the water. I screamed bloody murder for him and packed the kids up to get in line for the shuttle.

 

Our view of the swim exit, it was really hard seeing the racers!

Our view of the swim exit, it was really hard seeing the racers!

Now, I had spent a good chunk of time the day before trying to find someone who knew FOR SURE where the shuttles would pick up. No one did. So I asked one more time that day and the person SEEMED confident, pointing us to one corner. We waited for awhile and I was able to track Donnie on his bike because he was using the MyAthleteLive GPS. It wasn’t reading real-time results like it was supposed to, but periodically it would update to tell me where he was. I knew where the shuttle was taking us so I knew we needed to be on the first one out so we’d see him pass the spectating area. The course was 2 loops so he would pass that point twice, but we wanted to see him the FIRST time through so we’d have time to catch the shuttle back and spectate his run.

SO…getting on the first shuttle out was a HUGE priority.

Bike

It turned out we were about 2 blocks away from the shuttle pickup (OF COURSE WE WERE) but we booked it over to the right place and got on the first batch of shuttles. There was a lot of confusion on the shuttle about where the bus was taking us. Well, let me re-phrase that, people were confused but I kept telling them where we were going and no one believed me.  I was NOT confused because I had fully researched and planned my day as a spectator. But one guy in particular was INSISTENT that the bus was taking us somewhere different.

Finally, I dug out my spectator’s guide I had printed up and showed everyone on the bus. They were all impressed and irritated with me for even having that with me. I was basically the student in class ruining the curve.

On the shuttle ready to roll!

On the shuttle ready to roll!

The bus driver made an announcement that they would NOT be taking people BACK from Chickamauga until well past when we expected Donnie to pass through the area. This was going to REALLY screw with my plans because I was hoping to give us enough time to run back to the hotel and dump some gear before Donnie started on the run. We had a LOT of walking to do to see him on the run course in 5 places, and I didn’t want to carry all of our stuff. The kids and I talked about, they decided they were okay about us not being able to go back to the hotel, so we opted to stay on the bus and get out to Chickamauga. We wouldn’t get to make it back to the hotel, but we’d also be forced to stay longer on the bike course, so we could cheer on more friends. We made this decision because we thought it was more important that Donnie see us somewhere on the bike course, than whether or not we made it back to the hotel.

Well, half of the bus cleared out because no one wanted to be stuck out in Chickamauga for that long. This worked out great for us because it turned out to be wrong information. They WERE going to be making round trips all day! WOO!

We stopped by a food truck in Chickamauga and got Nikki a BBQ Sandwich (Wes wasn’t hungry yet) and we set up our blankets along the bike course. The first cyclist hadn’t come through yet, so we made great time. I kept checking the MyAthlete Live tracker to see Donnie’s progress. This thing was SUCH a godsend. The Ironman tracker crashed and no one could track their cyclist but people who had the GPS we had. People all around us were asking me when Donnie got out of the water and how fast he went on the bike so they could gauge when to see THEIR cyclist based on ours. And those guys started flying by SO FAST you really needed to kinda know when to look for them.

Got set up before the first bike came through!

Got set up before the first bike came through!

We were able to cheer for several of Donnie’s cycling buddies (all appearing in the order we expected them, which really helped when keeping an eye out for Donnie) and then BAM! There he was! We screamed bloody murder because that’s how we roll. We checked on another friend who wasn’t far behind him but who also had the GPS tracker. We decided to wait for her before heading back. We saw her pass and then grabbed some more BBQ before jumping on the shuttle back to town.

Donnie on the right

Donnie on the right

We headed straight back to the hotel and decided the radar/forecast looked clear so we ditched all of our rain gear and a bunch of our heavier items. I let the kids rest a bit while we waited to hear from Donnie’s parents who were on their way into town. We had a few things we wanted to do before Donnie started the run, so we ended up heading back to Ironman village and just having them meet us there. We bought some Junk bands and some slushies and enjoyed a little bit of relaxation before the craziest part of our day was to start.

Slushies!

Slushies!

Junk Bands!

Junk Bands!

 

Run

We met up with Donnie’s family and found a good spot on the run “EXIT” to watch for Donnie. I had people in transition who were going to text me when he brought his bike in. This worked out great because we had some good warning to go along with the GPS tracker. There were also several Huntsvillians volunteering on that section so they could see him coming as well. Finally…there he was…BAM! Starting the run! And now started the time of the day where Everyone Thinks Kim Is Insane. I think my plan to see him 5 times had us covering 4-6 miles on foot over the course of his 4 hour run.

Donnie starting his run, and our friends from Huntsville volunteering!

Donnie starting his run, and our friends from Huntsville volunteering!

I had mapped out my spectator plan for the run down to the second. I planned the points to find him so that we wouldn’t get stuck having to cross the course, and I planned it so we could see him as many times as possible. We got to spot #1 well ahead of schedule. The GPS tracker still wasn’t showing accurate speed, so I was confused as to how fast he was running, but it was at least showing me his location periodically. All of his friends who came by ahead of us on the bike came by ahead of us on the run too, another thing that really helped. Nikki really got into cheering at this point because it was way easier to cheer on the run. We could see the names on the race bibs and she loved cheering for people by name. She got a lot of nice smiles and thanks from the racers.

We also screamed like maniacs for everyone we knew. Donnie’s friends probably thought we were insane.

And then we saw him! And he looked great! Just chatting away with another runner like he was just out on a training run, no big deal.

I can’t remember exactly how the rest of the spots went. Several things happened but I can’t remember in what order. One was that Donnie started passing some of his buds which made things harder to predict his arrival (The GPS gave a vague estimate, but not exact so you had to watch every runner), but it was awesome because that meant he was feeling great. Another time we stopped for restroom and snack but the food took too long and we needed to get to another point to see him so I basically abandoned Donnie’s parents. That was totally shitty and I’m not proud, but I was in MAJOR “Spectate my Husband” mode and the only thing I could think about was making sure I caught him at certain points. I did catch them, and they missed him at that one point, but we did have several planned.

I think this was our third viewing of him on the run! He's on the left.

I think this was our third viewing of him on the run! He’s on the left.

The second-to-last point was an interesting place on the course where we could actually catch people quite a bit behind Donnie before we saw him. The course was really great for spectating lots of people. We met up with some friends there and cheered on some other Huntsvillians before heading over to catch Donnie. This was mile 20+ something and – of course – it started raining. It was hysterical because we had left all of our rain gear at the hotel! This seemed pretty perfect. Luckily, I didn’t care so the kids used stuff that belonged to Donnie’s parents and I just stayed in the rain (they were trying to stay sheltered) waiting to cheer on people I knew.

When we finally saw Donnie at this last point before the finish – he looked AMAZING. He gave us a huge fist bump and he was just moving more and more ahead of people who had been ahead of him for a long time. It was AMAZING. We screamed for him one last time and the headed down to the finish line.

We discussed a bit about where to set up. Do we set up RIGHT at the finish so we can see him actually cross the finish line? Or do we set up further up the course so he can see us and know we’re there. (There’s no way he’d see OR hear us if we were actually at the finish line.)

We opted to sit further up and I don’t regret it at all. It was perfect. We saw him coming down and I started sobbing and screaming for him – it was amazing. Then, we moved fast enough towards the finish that Nikki and I actually heard them say, “Donnie Holmes, You are an Ironman!”

Our view of him running to the finish line. Look how strong he looks after 143+ miles of self-propelled travel!

Our view of him running to the finish line. Look how strong he looks after 143+ miles of self-propelled travel!

We headed to the family area and someone came and found us and took us to Donnie. We had Huntsvillians working the finish line and they grabbed him and claimed him as their own. It was amazing. We hung out with him in the recovery area for awhile and then we found him a nice spot in the grass in Ironman Village to relax/rest while we loaded his stuff up.

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That was probably my biggest contribution to the day, was helping get his stuff back to the hotel while he rested. (Begin self-bragging NOW.) I walked his bike and a bunch of his gear back to the hotel which was a mile away. ALL BY MYSELF. And then I came back, got him and all of the REST of the gear (our gear and his) and helped him get back to the hotel for a shower before dinner.

Both of the kids fell asleep at dinner, it was adorable. We were able to wake Nikki up so she could walk the mile back to the hotel, but I ended our VERY long day carrying Wesley the final mile and it was – by far – the hardest mile I’ve ever traveled on my own feet. I mean, I know my husband did an Ironman, but I spectated an Ironman walking 22+ miles in one day…AND CARRYING MY GIANT KID the final mile.

Wrap-Up

Nikki’s walking total for the day was 16 miles, and Wes walked 10 miles.  (Yes, that means I carried him 6 miles.) One of the best ideas I had was that I had told them I’d give them $1 for every mile they walked over the two days. Nikki ended up with $23 and Wes ended up with $16.  The other two things that saved me in terms of entertaining the kids from 4am until 10pm or so was A) A battery pack to charge devices (Wes was not into cheering) and B) Magnetic Checkers. I may look for more magnetic travel games next year, they’re way easier to clean up. The drawing stuff didn’t really get used, and Nikki didn’t really do much other than cheer with me!

All-in-all it was a great day. The only thing we’ll do differently next year is KEEP THE RAIN GEAR and get a better position at the swim out so I am sure not to miss Donnie exiting. Oh, and hopefully next year? I won’t have to carry Wes any.