It's a very slow process - two steps forward, one step back - but I'm inching in the right direction. - Rob Reiner

December 16, 2014

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year! - Random Stuff Version

At some point in the very near future I am going to revive this blog.  I just haven't had a lot of extra time for blogging or reading blogs for the last few months, but things are finally settling down.  I hope to be able to read/write more frequently in 2015.

I do love the Christmas Season, but I have to admit this year is tough.  It started over Thanksgiving weekend; that first real Holiday without my parents.  The whole weekend was filled with a bit of sadness as I put up the Christmas tree and just did a lot of thinking about my parents.  It's just hard.  I went shopping with a girlfriend this weekend - she was shopping for her Mom and I just couldn't help but keep thinking that I didn't have a Mom or a Dad to shop for.  I know the days surrounding Christmas are going to be really hard.  I just miss them every single day.

I don't mean to start on a sad note, but this blog has always been about honesty and that's kind of where I am right now.  It's just really hard getting through this first year and these first holidays.

In other news, I am trying to remember all the things I am so grateful for.  Yes, it's been a tough year, but in so many other ways I am so blessed.  We have 3 beautiful grand children who will be a blast on Christmas Day!  Jim & I both have great jobs that we love (well most of the time) and I am surrounded by many other wonderful family and friends.  And of course there's Jack too.  You know how much I love that dog!!

Today is Jim's Birthday!  He is never a big "it's my Birthday" kind of guy.  So it's nice that for once we have plans. It's just kind of the way it worked out.  We will be spending the evening on the Kansas City Plaza doing limo tour of the Plaza lights with the kids and grand kids.  We did this last year and it was a blast.  It just happened that tonight was the best night for everyone to get together.  I know we are all looking forward to it.
Quite possibly the most epic race photo ever


Jim and I did a Santa Dash 5K a few weeks ago with some friends.  It was fun.  You have to love seeing 2000 people dressed as Santa.  There is just something awesome about it!  We did a team and our team name was the Christmas Sweat-ers....get it???  Sweat---ers...because we were sweating lol. Everyone actually ran together which was fun, but also a little stressful for me.  It's a pretty hilly course and I'm still just not up to my normal slow speeds...so it was a bit of a challenge. Everyone else was just running slow and having a blast, while I felt like I was in a full sprint to keep up with everyone the entire time.  Oh well, it was still a blast!

I'm also hosting an Instagram Giveaway on well of course Instagram.  Find me at @slowtrigirl or click the link at the top of my blog.  All you have to do is post one of your favorite cycling pictures and tag it #cyclingstateofmind and #slowtrigirl to win a fun Sports Chalet Bike Bell.


Well that's about all for now!  How is everyone else doing?  Shopping all done???

December 02, 2014

Two Things Tuesday

I know it is supposed to be Three Things Thursday….so I’m breaking the rules.  That’s me a rule breaker.

My niece Ashley & Me
1.       I did a Thanksgiving 5K with my niece and Jim on Thursday.  It was my first time to run a race with my niece so that was fun.  It’s been an annual tradition for Jim and I for the last 3 years…maybe 4.  I can’t remember!  It’s a pretty decent size race with 2500 runners and it’s a beautiful course though somewhat hilly for a 5K.  The first mile is great because it’s basically downhill, but then that means the second mile is basically uphill which gets tough. Just when you finally get a break you make the turnaround and go up another pretty steep hill, but then it’s all downhill to the finish which is awesome!  It’s always a lot of fun though and this year you got cute thermal shirts, a pie, and free race pictures! Score!!  My niece hadn’t been running at all for the last month, but she did great.  She ran the entire 5k with no problem and at a faster pace for her than normal.  It was fun to run with her.  Jim took home first in his Age Group and a sweet handmade medal!  All in all it was a great morning and a good way to burn off at least a few of those Thanksgiving dinner calories. 
 

2.       I’m doing the Runners World Run Streak – 36 Days of Awesome – Run at least 1 mile a day from Thanksgiving to New Year’s.  I am on day 6 and so far I have logged around 15 miles.  It’s a great way to keep motivated during the holidays and during the cold winter days!  I’ve already had a few runs with 15 degree temps…brrr…too cold for November…well now I guess it’s Dec!



 So what’s new with you???

November 17, 2014

Longview Half Marathon Race Review (Sorta)

This will be pretty short.  Here's the super short version. I ran the Longview half marathon in Lee's Summit, MO this weekend.  It was cold.  It was hilly.  I was SLOW.  There you go.  If you care to know a few other details read on.

It's been a rough year for me in racing and training.  I have pulled out of more races than I have completed.  But, when the Kansas City Running Company announced they would be putting on a half marathon practically in my back yard it sounded like a good idea.  It's the only' half marathon in Lee's Summit (that I'm aware of).  Several of my friends were going to do it so I figured, why not.

 
A few of us pre-race Jim was MIA
I bike at Longview Lake on a regular basis and it is HILLY.  There is one very long hill in particular that I curse every time I have to ride up it.  The half marathon course is very similar to several of the triathlon bike portions and would include that cursed hill.  I have to admit, the hills were what had me on the fence about the race, but I finally decided to suck it up and do it anyway.  Jim said he was in and like that we were signed up. 

I haven't been running regularly since April.  I still run quite a bit, but some days it's only 2 miles. And I am lucky to run 3 days a week.   But in the last several months I've really lacked.  My longest run since my last half marathon (which I also wasn't prepared for) in early October was 8 miles.  Last week I ran a whopping 2 miles before the race.  I had intended to run more in the last few weeks, but Winter arrived early here in KC and it was pretty much in the teens all last week in the morning and I just wasn't ready to run in that kind of cold.  In January - sure, in November, no. 

So, Saturday morning I woke up completely unprepared to go run a half marathon.  I planned to run/walk the event since I wasn't up to running the entire thing.  It was cold.  It was about 25 at race start with about 8 or 9 mph winds.  It certainly could have been worse, but it was cold.  And again, it is November....and I am just not used to running in these conditions.  I bundled up.  Maybe a bit too much.  I had on a good pair of lined running tights, a long sleeve tech tee and a pretty heavy jacket, 2 pair of gloves and a stocking cap.

After the long line to get into the event I met up with my friends.  It's always fun to hang out, though we were all freezing.  For an extra $25 you could have signed up as a VIP - which included a VIP tent and closer parking.  When I registered and it was 70 degrees, it seemed silly.  Standing outside in the freezing weather Sat, I was wishing I had spent the extra money. 
Me & Jim post race
Before the race I also ran into Allison, a fellow blogger from DaileyRuns.  She's a sweet girl from here in Lee's Summit who runs on her school's Cross Country Team.  We have done several of the same races, but never met before.  It was great to finally meet her!!  She also set a new PR at the race!  So Congrats Allison.

My friend Kelly and I started the race together.  She did her very first half marathon the weekend before and decided to not only do one half marathon, but two halves in back to back weekends.  Rock Star!!  As we were heading out of the park, there was a large amount of runners going the opposite direction.  Even with a delayed start of about 15 minutes, hundreds of people were still "running" to the start.  I guess they need to warn people next year to come early!! 

We made it about a mile together before I told her to go on.  I wasn't feeling "speedy" at all.  About mile 3 you reach "the hill".  They were even having a contest for King and Queen of the Hill.  The 15 fastest Men and Women got a plaque.  I was hoping there was an award for the slowest....but no luck.  I maintained my run walk pace and got up it.  I have to say much easier to run walk the hill than to bike it.  MUCH EASIER! 

After the hill I was warmed up and feeling like I had too many clothes on.  I took off one of my pair of gloves, and considered for a second taking off my jacket, but knew that would be a bad idea.  I actually ended up feeling pretty good for about the first 8 miles.  Around mile 8 on a shorter section, I even started spotting people and trying to pass them.....then it all fell apart.  At about mile 9 you start across the damn and the wind picked up (as it always does) and there was no shield from the wind and it just got cold.  All of a sudden I went from feeling pretty good, to freezing and getting really tired.  There are a couple of good rolling hills through this section too.  By mile 11, I just wanted to be done.  For the first 10 miles, I stayed ahead of the 2:30 pace group.  by Mile 11, the 2:40 group had passed me.  I knew it was going to be a slow time then and I just wanted it to be over.  Finally by mile 12 I knew I only had one mile left and I picked up the pace as much as I could...or at least I felt like I did.  I haven't' downloaded my Garmin data yet to see what my mile splits were.  But at mile 10 I was at a 12:02 pace, by the end I was at a 12:38 pace.  I lost a lot of speed in those last 4 miles.

I finally crossed the finish line in 2:40ish.  I honestly don't even know my final time.  But I do know that it was one of my slowest races ever.  But when I came through the finish chute Jim, and my friend Michelle and her boyfriend Chadd were all there to give me high fives!  Awesome to see smiling faces at the end.
Finishing and glad to be done
I got my finishers medal and literally went straight to the car.  I was freezing.  Jim said they had soup or something, but I have no idea. 

It certainly wasn't a great race for me, but I will probably do it again next year.  KC Running Company also has well organized events, and this was no different.  You got a great, heavy medal and a nice technical quarter zip tee.  And, it's close to home so you can't beat that.

2014 has definitely been the year for slow and no racing.  I am looking forward to 2015 and turning things around.

October 08, 2014

Mo Cowbell Half Marathon


Re-enactment of our first Mo' Cowbell shot
What a great weekend.  It’s been a long time since I had fun;  since I laughed, really laughed.  I posted the pic below with the following caption on FaceBook and it is so true.  “Nothing mends the heart like good friends and laughter “.  I needed this weekend.  It was a nice break from the grief and loss I’ve been dealing with.  No, it didn’t make it magically all go away, but it certainly helped in the healing process.

I drove the 3 and a half hours to the St Louis area on Friday afternoon.  I got to my room right about 5pm.  Coy wouldn’t be there until around 10pm.  So I just decided to chillax.  I turned on the TV and ordered ridiculously expensive room service.  I kicked up my feet and waited for her to arrive. 
She finally got there and I was so excited to see her!  We watched the KC Royals play yet another overtime game – which they won (and if you don’t know won the series – Go Royals) and then we both fell asleep.  To my surprise we both slept in the next morning.  It was nice to just relax…no rush.  We got up around 8 and headed downstairs for breakfast.  Then we headed out for the day.

Coy had never been to St Louis for more than just the night so we set out to see a few sites and pick up our packets of course.  We headed over to St Charles, MO which was about 10 mins from our hotel.  The expo and the race has grown exponentially since the first year we did it together.  They had 1500 runners that first year and around 5000 this year.  We browsed a few things at the expo and got our packets.  It was a pretty easy process and then we headed out for some site seeing.

Coy & I under the St Louis Arch
Our first stop was the Arch.  It is always pretty amazing if you’ve never seen it.  It is just so massive.  If you are up close, there is just no way to get a picture of the entire thing.  I asked Coy if she wanted to ride up in it – I made that mistake once and told her there was no way I was going with her..but I’d go wait with her if she wanted to go.  When I described the ridiculously small “pod” they transport you in she opted to just look at it.  Youtube it if you want…if you are at all claustrophobic it is not for you!
The outside of the City Museum...you can just see how fun it is



Acting silly in an airplane

Everyone needs a pic in front of a rooster
After that we went to the City Museum, which is really not much of a “museum”, but more like an attraction.  It is similar to a Science City if you’ve ever been to one.  There is a lot to do and see.  It is really meant for kids, but two big kids can still have a blast.  We took some great pics and laughed a lot.
Just outside of Busch Stadium - Go Royals!
 
Our last stop was to Busch Stadium – home of the St Louis Cardinals. Now, us folks from KC are not big Cards fans…esp right now since we are both in the playoffs, but it is a beautiful stadium and Coy wanted to see if so how could I say no J
We finally headed back to the hotel for some dinner – at the hotel bar and then back to our rooms to get some sleep before the race.

In our race packets was the parking information which clearly said get to the race early.  Everyone will get there an hour beforehand, get there sooner…to which we both laughed…ha, we’ll leave about an hour ahead of time.  Um, we should have listened.  We got up about 5:30 for the 7:30 start and were out the door about 6:20. It seemed like plenty of time.  It wasn’t.  Traffic was backed up way off the highway just to get off the exit.  By the time we finally got parked, I dropped my bag and we hit the potty it was literally 2 minutes til go time.  Well, at least we didn’t have to wait around!

This was my first race since my Mom & Dad passed so I wanted to do something special to honor them.  I created a sign which I wore on my back for the entire race.  A few people commented on it, but most didn’t.  I was kind of surprised more people didn’t say anything, but maybe they just didn’t know what to say.  I wanted them to be with me during the race and I know they were.
It was a pretty cool start at about 45 degrees, but it was absolutely perfect running weather.  We both wore a cover layer to start, but quickly shed it before mile 2.  I was never hot and never cold.  It was seriously perfect weather for a run.

Now, let me remind you that I’ve had a lot on my plate.  I have lost both of my parents in the last month and I’ve done a lot of traveling.  I hadn’t ran over 4 miles in about 2 months.  So I had no idea what to expect really.  But, I did expect this race to be slow and painful and have lots of walking.  To manage it I put us on a run walk ratio of run 1:30 walk 30 seconds.  It’s amazing how fast that 30 seconds goes by.

A few pics we took along the way - there's a horse see
The pace ended up being perfect.  We were 7 miles in and I was still feeling great.  I was really expecting to be really slowing down by this point.  Right around mile 7, someone from behind us says “Michael – Coy”….it’s always a shocker when someone recognizes you in a race.  It was a reader named Susan who had just told me she was going to be at Mo’ Cowbell and Indy – small world.  We ran with her and chatted a bit and she went on her way.  She was doing the full marathon.  She was looking super strong so I’m sure she had a great race.  So a huge shout out to Susan – Thanks for saying HI!!!
At the 7.5 mile point we were still just under a 12 minute pace which wasn’t bad.  And we were stopping to take pictures pretty frequently.  But at 7.5 I also had to stop to go to the bathroom and apparently so did everyone else.  There was one porta potty and a line of about 7 people.  We lost a good 5+ minutes here.  Our pace went from 11:55 per mile to 12:20 per mile.  I knew we couldn’t make that up and I figured we’d just slow down after that, but I was ok with that.  I had originally thought – just finish, but if I finish under a 13 min pace I’d be happy.

Finished!
We maintained the run/walk pace most of the rest of the race (other than the one really hilly section in mile 9 where I took a few extra breaks).  The miles between 9-11 are pretty boring and I was glad to get back into town.  At mile 12 there is the final aid station which is manned by what looked like was maybe a local fraternity…it was definitely college aged boys…   When we start toward the aid station, Coy says “well we get to choose which one to get water from, so there’s that”.  The first guy was much older than the rest of the guys, to which she said “so not him”.  LOL, this made me laugh…my favorite quote of the day.  We finally see the finish line and start heading toward it.  We ended up crossing the finish line with a 12:17 pace.  I was thrilled with this because it meant that other than the “pee mile” our pace was pretty consistent throughout.  It is still one of my slowest half marathons to date, but I’ll take it!  I knew 13 miles would be hard, but it went by in the blink of an eye.  I know my Mom & Dad were with me every single step of the way.
As far as the overall race goes I would recommend it.  If you are looking for a race in the St Louis area this is a great one.  It’s in the quaint little town of St Charles, MO and it’s very pretty.  It is also a very flat race other than a section of about one mile between miles 9 and 10 where you just seem to climb forever.  The rest of the race is pretty darn flat.  A few small hills here and there, but that’s it.  You get to run through the cute little historic downtown area, and then you run through a housing community called New Town which is just awesome.  It seriously looks just like a movie set.  It’s beautiful.  It makes me want to live there!!  As far as race swag you get a nice long sleeve technical t-shirt and a cowbell of course!  They have great course support and volunteers!  It’s really a great fun race!

Race Swag
Coy and I headed back to the hotels for showers and to say our goodbyes.  I was sad to see her go, but it was so great to get to spend the weekend together.  As a little added bonus, my niece who lives in St Louis, but just happened to be out of town for the weekend text me that she would be home by noon.  So I got to have lunch with her before I headed home.  That was a great little extra surprise.  All in all, it was just one great weekend!!!  And, it was wrapped up with a Royals Sweep of the Angels on Sunday night!!!  Wahoo!! Go Royals!
 

 

 

October 02, 2014

A True Love Story About My Mom & Dad

I don't know where to begin.  I've sat down to write this post a few times and just haven't felt ready to write it.  I don't want to write a heavy, depressing post, but wanted to let my readers know why I've been away for awhile.

I know some of you follow me on Facebook so you already know this, but if you don't, well then I lost my Dad on Sept 15, just 18 days after losing my Mom.  As you can imagine, my world has been turned upside down.  I just feel lost.  I am trying to use running as an outlet, but sometimes it just feel overwhelming.  I've cried a few times, a few deep down sobs...it doesn't make it easy to run.

I miss my parents.  I miss them so much.  But I do find a peace knowing that they are together again. My Dad was absolutely lost and heart broken without my Mom.  They had something so many people want - true love.  Their marriage was far from perfect.  There are things, I'm sure if they were still here, that they would tell you they regretted.  They made bad decisions, etc, etc stuff that we all do.  But they loved each other more than most people could imagine.   They were truly inseparable.  When my Dad started a car lot, my Mom went to work with him as the bookkeeper.  When my Dad got another job as a salesman at a car dealership, my Mom went to work in the office there.  When my Dad decided to be an over the road truck driver, my Mom hopped in the passenger side and went with him. They had so many adventures together.  They couldn't be apart...truly couldn't.  So when my Mom got sick, my Dad in turn got sick.  And when my Mom passed, my Dad wasn't far behind.  I'm sure the death certificate for my Dad will say he died of septic shock, but I think my family knows he died of a broken heart.  True love.  It's a beautiful thing.  They had been together almost 50 years.  They met and were married in high school.  We found love letters back and forth between them from high school that were so special.  My Mom even saved (in a locked box) their very first grocery list.  How sweet is that?

I get my sense of  humor from my Dad.  I love that.  He was quick witted and sarcastic.  I also, unfortunately get my fiery and sometimes stubborn side from him too.  What I didn't inherit, which I have always been sad about is his musical side.  My Dad could pick up any stringed instrument and play.  He loved to play the guitar and the mandolin.  He played in a few blue grass bands over my childhood years.  He didn't have a great voice, but a good one.  He loved to play and sing.  He lost his voice after he had the feeding tube in the ICU and never quite regained it.  He really hated that because he wasn't really able to sing these last few months.  I'd love to hear him sing again.  Some of my favorite memories are when I was very young - about 5 and we used to sing together.  I would always pass my cowboy hat around afterward and expect money.  LOL.  But it is a great memory.

I just can't believe how much has gone on in my life these last 6 months, but especially these last few weeks.  It has been difficult to say the least.

Please, if you pray, continue to keep my family in your prayers.  It's a very hard thing losing your parents so close together - and so young.  My Mom was just a few days shy of her 66th Birthday and my Dad had just turned 67 in July.  I just turned 40 in April...and it just seems to young to be without parents.  My family is still facing a few challenges  and we are all just dealing with a lot.  I appreciate all the support I have received over these last few months.  It has meant so much to me.

I will be running my first race since all of this happened on Sunday.  I don't expect the race to go well AT ALL.  I haven't ran more than 4 miles in at least 6 weeks.  It will be slow and a lot of walking, but that's ok. I'm meeting up with one of my best friends in the whole world - Coy....many of you know Coy.  We met virtually through blogging, but we have done a race together every year for the past 4 years.  We are returning to Mo' Cowbell which was the very first race we did together and the first time we ever met.  We've been amazing friends since.  It will be good for my soul to just walk/run with her and enjoy the day.  Spend some time talking and laughing. I need that so much.  She has been so awesome!  She even drove 5 hours round trip to come to my Dad's funeral.  I don't have many friends who would have done that.

So the next post you will see will be a race recap. I plan on dedicating this next race to my Mom & Dad.  My Mom was absolutely my biggest blog fan.  I know my Mom & Dad will be watching me race.  Smiling and cheering me on.
Dad & Mom - back in the day
Dad on is Harley

Picture taken last year - Our Last Christmas together 

September 09, 2014

When Life Changes Overnight

Many of you know my Dad was critically sick a few months ago and spent a few weeks in the ICU.  What I didn’t mention as much is that my Mom was also sick.  She had a longer term illness that we thought was in a more “stable” condition.  But last Wednesday night I got a call they were sending her to the hospital with a fever.  No big deal I thought.  It was.  She was immediately admitted to ICU with a high heart rate, and extremely low blood pressure – classic symptoms of sepsis (basically an infection in the blood stream).  This is actually exactly what put my Dad in ICU, but my Dad came through.  My Mom did not.  We lost her within 24 hours.  I got the call that she had passed away about 6pm last Thursday.

Margaret Conley Sept 1, 1948 - Aug 28, 2014
I was in shock.  I shed a few tears, but felt numb.  I felt bad because I felt like I should have been “sadder”.  I realize now it was just shock.  I’d been through so much with my parents over the last couple of years health wise, and we’d had a lot of scares, but things always managed to turn around.  Not this time.  I went home and began packing to head to the lovely mountain town of Ruidoso, NM. 

My sisters and I arrived on Friday and started talking about arrangements.  My parents are both from KY and want to be buried there.  We were planning to make the trip to KY but soon realized my Dad could just simply not make the trip.  It is about a 21 hour trip by car for a healthy person.  It would have taken us 3-4 days to get there and there were so many other complications.  In the end we decided on a small funeral service in New Mexico.  My Mom will then be transported to KY for burial.

My Dad with his sister and my two cousins and sisters and niece
At first I felt guilty about giving my Mom such a small funeral service.  She deserved more.  But in the end, the most important people in her life were there and that’s all she would have wanted.  Her brothers came in from KY.  My Aunt (my Dad’s sister) came in from Florida.  My two cousins also came from KY.  My niece hitched a ride with my cousins from St Louis.  It was great to be surrounded by family.  I know if we’d had it in KY we would have had more time with them, but unfortunately they were in and out in a day or two, but it was great to see them.  My other cousin Ben – one of my Mom’s brother’s sons did the service for her and it was beautiful. 
Me and my sisters and niece and my Mom's brothers
 
And now my sisters and I are still trying to figure out the best solution for my Dad.  He needs care and can’t stay in New Mexico by himself, which is what he wants to do.  We are working on moving him to Kansas City which has its own challenges.  He is terminally ill and on Hospice, so we probably won’t have him with us much longer, especially now that my Mom has gone.
 I know several of you are friends with me on Facebook and have given me words of encouragement and love.  I appreciate it more than you know.  As you can imagine this is an extremely difficult time for my family.  If you’ve ever lost a parent then you know a lot of what I’m going through.  It’s harder than I even thought it would be.  I think back now to times when friends have lost a parent and think I wasn’t compassionate enough or didn’t do enough. I don’t think you can ever really understand these things until you go through them yourself.
But I want to end on a high note.  My Mom was by far the most positive person I knew.  Even though she had been sick for almost 2 years and never really felt great she never, ever complained.  You usually didn’t know how bad she was or felt.  She was always looking forward to the next day.  Always knew the next day would be better.  So I know that things are tough now, but will be better.  These are just the things in life we all have to go through at some point.  I’m just going through them a little sooner than I would have expected.  But my Mom’s strength is inside me and I will get through this.

In remembrance of Margaret Ann Conley – Wife, Mother, Sister, Aunt, Daughter, Friend, Light in the world.  I love you Mom.

Picture of my Mom taken last Christmas


September 04, 2014

Sports Chalet Gift Card Winners

I'm sorry for the delay in announcing the gift card winners. 

The winner of the $100 gift card goes to lucky comment #48 MJ Moore

The winner of the $50 gift card goes to lucky comment #38 *Monica*

Congratulations!!  Please leave your e-mail address so I can get your information and your gift cards to you!

Winners were selected at Random by  Random.org (a random number generator)