Race recap: Music in Motion 5K

6 Aug

I know what you’re thinking: Another race recap? I promise this will be the last one for a while. The weekends from now through the end of the month are booked, and as it is, only a few local races are going on between now and the half marathon Sept. 28.

But, we ran a 5K on Saturday, and I must tell you about it.

We ran the Music in Motion 5K, a run that raises money for the orchestra program in the local schools. The course begins and ends at the big sports complex on the far west side of town and makes a big out-and-back L on country roads bordered by cornfields.

Unlike any of the other races we’ve run so far this season, we got to take the girls along in the jogging stroller! Christopher agreed to push them so I could chase a good time.

We gathered at the starting line, sang the national anthem and took off at the shot of the starting gun.

20140802_075859 (Awkward family selfie alert!)

The course headed west, just out of town, and then north on a country road, past cornfields, pastures and farms. It was a rolling course, surprisingly enough, and made more challenging by the sun and humidity.

I struggled with my breathing and a side stitch almost right away, but I pushed through and eventually got comfortable. I didn’t run with the intention of blowing away my new PR, but I wanted to at least finish under 30 minutes, if not closer to 29 minutes. I knew that was possible if I just kept going.

The girls were a welcome distraction; they giggled and sang through much of the race. Christopher offered words of encouragement, too, which helped; he reminded me that while a new PR wasn’t possible, something close to it was.

We turned back onto the road that leads to town and to the sports complex, and we did our best to turn up the pace a bit. We crossed the finish line and got gummed up in the chute thanks to the stroller and a rather unpleasant volunteer, who was collecting the tear strips from our bibs, then we grabbed a couple of bottles of water and caught our breath.

We were able to hang around a little bit, because we didn’t have to hurry home to put the girls down for their nap, so we grabbed some goodies and all four of us had a nice breakfast.

The Music in Motion 5K is a local favorite; it’s organized by a longtime runner and president of the local running club. It’s small (about 300 runners) and affordable (no chip timing, but a technical shirt). I definitely think we would do this one again.

Here’s the part you’re waiting for:

Distance: 3.1 miles
Duration: 28:47 bib time (28:52 RunKeeper time – forgot to hit stop until we were through the chute)
Average pace: 9:13 per mile
Mile 1: 8:57
Mile 2: 9:14
Mile 3: 9:24

Our Insta-month: July

5 Aug

Today marks 5 days until Anna and Elise turn 1. It’s hard to believe. The time really did fly by. But before we celebrate the end of the baby stage, and welcome the toddler stage; before we mark the survival of one year of parenthood; before we marvel at how much our little family has changed in the last year…we have to recap July!

IMG_20140704_124444Celebrating the Fourth of July at Petunia Festival in Dixon.

IMG_20140705_090226  Hanging out with Mama and Daddy after the Reagan Run 5K!

IMG_20140706_155345 IMG_20140706_155427

Elise, left, and Anna, right, checking out the writing reference books.

IMG_20140711_180712 Anna munching on a coaster at The Rusty Fox.


Elise getting up close and personal with “Finding Nemo.”

IMG_20140726_171546 Anna hanging out with Grandpa at the Main Street Music Festival.

IMG_20140729_182639 Elise, left, and Anna, right, letting it all hang out before bath time and bedtime.

IMG_20140729_183414 Anna taking in the world from a different angle.

Race recap: 5K for the Knockout

28 Jul

I don’t know whether it was the impassioned pre-race speech or the familiarity course…or just my lucky day, but I shattered my personal best this past weekend.

Christopher and I tackled the 5K for the Knockout, a local run in celebration of a local girl, 18, who died of rare form of childhood pancreatic cancer last summer. The course was through The Meadows and on the Lowell Park bike path, which we used to run all the time when we were training for the Wisconsin Marathon.

The morning kicked off with a fiery speech about how running a race is much like making your way through life—how some of us start out strong, while others finish with a good kick, but that it is crossing the finish line with grace that is most important.

We made our way toward the front of the very loosely organized pack of runners, leaving the girls with my dad, and took off at the command of the race organizer. Christopher and I ran separately.

The course wound through The Meadows, on a gravel trail, and the Lowell Park bike path, a paved trail. It was a relatively flat course, save for a downhill at the start and an uphill at the end; it also was a quiet course thanks to the woods on either side of the trail.

I felt really good through the whole race. I went out too fast and got a side stitch, but then I settled in and relaxed my body into a comfortable, yet maintainable pace. I walked only through the water stops.

I absolutely blazed through the first mile at about 8:18 (my first two-thirds of a mile were done at less than 8-minute pace) and then settled into a more manageable pace; the second mile was 9:49, and the third was 9:46.

My RunKeeper app alerts me of my time, distance and average pace every 5 minutes. I knew, at 25 minutes, that I had about four-tenths of a mile to go and about 4 minutes in which to run them in order to beat my (pre-baby) personal best. I knew that a new PR was mine for the taking; I just had to run faster than a 10-minutes-per-mile pace.

I approached the finish line and could hear Christopher and see my dad and the girls in their big, red double jogging stroller. I ran my heart out. I crossed in record time—but I failed to look at the clock that entire stretch.

I caught my breath and wandered toward my family. I looked down at my phone and saw 27:50. I couldn’t believe it.

Christopher set a PR, too. First in his age division (11th overall) at 23:32. For those keeping score at home, that’s an average pace of 7:35. Say what?


I was sixth in my age division. 11th among females, and 38th overall.


The 5K for the Knockout, now in its third year (?), is a really nice race. It’s small but it’s got the perks of a larger event—including chip timing and post-race bagels and bananas. The course is wonderful—beautiful and peaceful—too.

And now, the deets:

Distance: 3.1 miles
Duration: 27:53 chip time (27:50 RunKeeper time)
Average pace: 9:00 per mile
Mile 1: 8:18
Mile 2: 9:49
Mile 3: 9:46

Eleven months

14 Jul

Written July 14, 2014

11 months

(Elise, left, Anna, right)

Likes: Crawling; pulling up to standing in their cribs or against furniture; unpacking their toy boxes and tossing toys about; playing with Dexter’s food and water bowls; playing with Mama and Daddy’s shoes; playing with Daddy’s cell phone; dancing; carrying around anything blue; eating finger foods; cuddling Dexter.


(Anna, left, Elise, right)

Dislikes: Being taken away from their play space and/or toys, having their toys taken out of their hands, and being laid down for diaper changes.

Weights: Elise is about 16 pounds, 6 ounces, up about 2 pounds from last month, while Anna is about 16 lbs, 12 ounces, up almost 2 pounds from last month.


(Anna, left, Elise, right)

Lengths: The girls are likely a wee bit longer, on account of the fact that their 6-month onesies are getting tough to button.

Milestones: On the communication front, both girls continue to babble like crazy. In fact, you could swear they are trying to tell you something with how emphatic and expressive they are with their syllables sometimes. They also mimic sounds and movements.

Tug-of-war collage

Both girls, all of a sudden last week, gave kisses and now do it without hesitation. They also are going through a bit of a sweet, cuddly phase; they will lay on your chest and nuzzle into you or lay on Dexter and nuzzle into his fur.

IMG_6081For gross motor skills, both girls still are crawling, fast and furious. They both are cruising – shuffling side to side against furniture – and are taking a few assisted steps. They are getting really strong.

Climbing collage Climbing collage 2 (We used to block off the rest of the house from the living room play area using two large body pillows. The girls quickly figured out how to scale those. We now use two long plastic storage tubs, stacked one on top of the other.)

Other developments? We have teeth! Anna popped out her first tooth June 18 and her second June 27. Elise popped out her first tooth July 9.

20140615_133620 (Anna, left, Elise, right, on Father’s Day)

Other “milestones” include celebrating their first Father’s Day and spectating Mama and Daddy in two 5Ks – the Pretzel City 5K on June 28 and the Reagan Run on July 5.

Eating: A combination of breast milk and formula, plus the usual lineup of purees (including yogurt) and a variety of finger foods. The girls have yet to turn up their noses at anything we feed them. They love their food!

IMG_6159Wearing: Some 6-month, some 6-9-month, and some 9-month clothing; pocket (cloth) diapers during the day and size 2 disposables at night.

Nicknames: Anna Banana, Anna Bear, Banana Pants, Elisey Bean, Elisio, Beanut, Peanut.

*     *     *     *     *

It seems that overnight our little peanuts turned into our little ladies.

Anna and Elise are such sweet girls. And so smart and strong. It’s incredible to just watch them interact with each other, with other people, with the dog, with their toys, with the world around them. They are so amazing.

Anna peekaboo collageThey are flexible and resilient. They are adventurous and curious. They are determined. They are charming, funny and sweet. They are smiley and giggly. They are social. They are particular. They are independent, yet totally connected to one another. They are smart.

IMG_6118Anna and Elise are simply awesome. We are so privileged to be their parents.

Race recap: Reagan Run 5K

10 Jul

Wow. Another weekend, another race. Another race, another post-partum personal best.

Christopher and I ran – for the second time – the Reagan Run 5K in Dixon on Saturday.

The race has a tough course, especially for the distance; it starts at the boyhood home of Ronald Reagan downtown, crosses the Rock River, winds through the woods and up some steep grades, and again crosses the river and ends in Haymarket Square downtown.

But the race truly is one not to miss. It attracts more than 1,500 runners and hundreds of spectators.

We decided to run separately, rather than together, as we had last weekend, for our first race of the season. Christopher headed up to the 8-minute-mile corral, while I remained in the 10-minute-mile corral.

I felt really good through almost all of the race. The weather was nearly perfect – slightly overcast, temperatures in the mid-60s, slightly breezy – unlike the weather two years ago.

I passed the first mile in less than 9:30 and the second mile in about 18:45. I jogged through the water stops and stopped to walk twice, once in the woods after ascending a hill and once near the high school, not to far from the 3-mile mark.

I crossed the Peoria Avenue bridge and, with only a few turns left before the straightaway to the finish line, I kicked with whatever was left in the tank.

I finished in about 30 minutes and felt, only momentarily, sick. I regained my composure, though, and discussed the likelihood of besting my time from last weekend. It was going to be close.

Christopher and I found our friend, Jen, a college sophomore home for the summer who offered to keep an eye on the girls while we ran the race. We reunited with the peanuts, then pulled them out of the stroller to give them sweaty hugs and kisses.

20140705_085005(0)We hung around only long enough to indulge in a scoop of Culver’s vanilla frozen custard; we had to get home to get the girls down for a nap. We waited most of the day for results.

Turns out, they were well worth the wait. Christopher and I killed it! He finished in 25:11, while I finished in 29:38 – 7 seconds faster than the Pretzel City 5K last weekend and good enough for 23rd (out of 69) in my age group.

Again, we were really, really happy with the race (which upgraded to chip timing!) and so, so glad we ran it.

And now, the details:

Distance: 3.1 miles
Duration: 29:38 chip time (29:25 RunKeeper time)
Average pace: 9:45 per mile
Mile 1: 8:52
Mile 2: 10:45
Mile 3: 10:04

Our Insta-month: June

2 Jul

Some of these might be repeats from our vacation recap, but the rest are brand-spankin’ new!

Check out what we’ve been up to this past month…

IMG_20140607_093754Posing in front of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis – on their very first vacation!

IMG_20140607_135408Taking a brewery tour (Schlafly – The Saint Louis Brewery)

IMG_20140608_093518Getting up close and personal with a butterfly

IMG_20140608_122511Hanging with Daddy in the dugout at Busch Stadium

IMG_20140611_174614Elise attacking her sister

IMG_20140612_163219Showing some serious ‘tude

IMG_20140614_165532Anna teetering with Daddy

IMG_20140615_133756Celebrating Father’s Day

IMG_20140618_130033 IMG_20140618_130208

Elise, left, and Anna, right, playing with Dexter’s toys

IMG_20140620_170155Elise watching sports in her underwear with Daddy

IMG_20140626_121158Anna gnawing on a coaster

IMG_20140626_181401Playing their favorite game: pull all the DVDs off the shelf then toss them about

IMG_20140630_133951Spending the day in Madison

Race recap: Pretzel City 5K

1 Jul

I never thought I would say this, but I think I am in almost as good of shape after having two babies as I was at my “peak,” before having two babies.

Saturday marked my first post-partum race – and my first race in 19 months – and a near new personal best (because PRs made pre-babies are not the same as PRs set post-babies)!

We ran the Pretzel City 5K, put on by the Freeport Park District, which winds through beautiful Krape Park in Freeport, Ill., about 45 minutes north of Sterling.

Pretzel City 5K map

Our race morning routine now – which we should hardly dub a routine, as the process has been instituted all of once so far – is nothing like our routine of two years ago.

We didn’t set an alarm; we knew the girls would have us up at 6 a.m. at the latest. We didn’t set out clothes, or even really plan what to wear; we checked the weather on our phones and stepped outside, then selected outfits. We didn’t stretch or warm up; we changed diapers and clothes, fixed breakfast and loaded up the car for a day trip.

It was strange to be so hurried and yet so relaxed on the morning of a race.

We arrived at the park, picked up our packets and met up with Christopher’s editor (and my editor once upon a time) Jeff and his wife, Sarah, who were going to push the girls in the stroller while we ran the race.

We made our way to the very loosely organized starting line, leaving the girls, which we fretted would cause them to freak out, and took off with the shot of the starting gun.

The course wound through Krape Park, along Yellow Creek, past a waterfall, over two scenic bridges, out the tree-lined south entrance of the park and then back again. It was a relatively flat course and, coupled with only 133 runners, was quite peaceful.

I felt pretty darn good through the whole race, save for toward the end, when our speed and the humidity started to catch up with me. I walked only through the water stop(s), just past the 1-mile mark and then again on the return, just before the 2-mile mark.

We flew through the first mile at about 8:45, and then settled into a more reasonable, manageable pace; the second mile was 9:48, and the third was 10:14.

I struggled, but Christopher did a wonderful job of pacing me; he ran just far enough ahead of me to encourage me, rather than discourage me. I also got a jolt of energy every time we saw the girls, who Jeff and Sarah got to clap for us as we whizzed by.

Girls at 5KWe approached the finish line, and while a PR was out of reach, my main goal of coming in under 30 minutes still was within my grasp, so I finished strong. I came down the last straightaway and felt so hot and dizzy. I wanted to slow down, but I couldn’t. I had something to prove.

Christopher and I reunited with our girls, who were giggly and smiley, which was just the icing on the freaking cake.

I honestly cannot believe I did it. I finished a 5K in less than 30 minutes, less than a year after having twins. I even flirted with a personal best. Oh, and I came in third in my age division. Are you kidding me?

This was a nice race. The setting is lovely and truly what makes the race. And for such a small race, it had everything a runner could want, including technical shirts and chip timing.

As is customary, here are the details:

Distance: 3.1 miles
Duration: 29:45 chip time (29:57 RunKeeper time)
Average pace: 9:35 per mile
Mile 1: 8:45
Mile 2: 9:48
Mile 3: 10:14


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