We're going to Europe with the Arkansas Ambassadors of Music!

Friday, June 30, 2017
In less than 24 hours, I will be headed to Europe with my oldest daughter, Katie, and my mom, Jana.  It seems a little unreal, but I am so excited!

This whole adventure started over a year ago, when Katie brought home information about a statewide band trip.  This European adventure would visit seven countries in sixteen days!  It sounded like an amazing trip, so with my mom's help, we signed up!

After countless emails, meetings, a couple of practices and a little stress, the time has arrived.  We will be driving to West Memphis, Arkansas, this afternoon to watch Katie perform with over a hundred other students from all over the state.  I can't wait to hear their concert!

2013 Little Rock Half Marathon

Tuesday, March 5, 2013
After much hemming and hawing, Ellie and I decided to run the Little Rock Half Marathon this year instead of our usual 5K. When we signed up for the race in December we truly thought we would have time to get ready. Boy, were we wrong!  No one could have foreseen the health problems (all mine!) that would keep us from properly training.  I ended up in the hospital with chest pains, had a heart cath done, caught a killer cold, felt awful for a month and basically stopped running.  Neither Ellie or I are very good at training on our own, so our running really fell to the wayside while I was sick.

After my heart cath came back normal and we were positive that the chest pains weren't indicating a heart attack, we decided that we wanted to try to run the Little Rock race, even though we weren't "trained up".  We did a few short three mile runs, and one seven mile long run, but that was it.  We hadn't run more than seven miles since October 27, 2012, when we ran our very first half marathon.  Since the seven mile run was a piece of cake, we decided we were at least marginally ready for Little Rock.

My brother-in-law, Michael, and his friend, Ashley, also came to Arkansas from Birmingham, Alabama, to run.  Unfortunately, Ashley got a nasty stomach bug and decided to skip running the race.  Michael wanted to back out because of the forecasted temperatures, but we wouldn't let him.

When we got up on race day the temperature outside was a sunny 21* with a wind chill of 15*.  Yikes! It was COLD!  Michael, although not happy about the weather forecast, did run.  He normally prefers for the temps to be at least 20* warmer, so this race was not his kind of "perfect" race.  I was proud of him for not backing out on us!  After shooting the breeze for a few minutes, I grabbed a banana, then downed an Espresso Love Gu and some water and we headed down to the River Market to the start line.

At the warm hotel right before leaving for the race.

By the time we got in our assigned corrals the temp was up to 28* with a wind chill of 18*.   Both Ellie and I were bundled up, so we actually stayed pretty toasty.  There were almost 10,000 people running in the 10K, half marathon and full marathon, so it was REALLY crowded!  Michael is a much faster runner than Ellie and me, so once we got to the corrals we didn't see him again. After we got in our group it took us 22 minutes to get to the start line after the gun was fired!

All bundled up and ready to run!

We started our first mile feeling good, and actually got to see David, Ashley and Melvin (Ellie's husband) at the first mile marker.  Ellie was already warmed up so she shucked her coat and tossed it to Melvin.  I was still chilly, so I kept mine.  It was a little bulky, but I hate being cold!  Our first mile was a little slow, but it was really crowded! We averaged a 14:07 pace for the first mile.

Ellie getting ready to toss off her clothes.

Mile two and mile three were pretty easy for us, too, with the exception of the Broadway Bridge.  Although the bridge isn't exceptionally steep, it does seem to go on forever!

This was our view going up onto the Broadway Bridge.

At mile marker two I think the Dirty White Boys were singing "Hash Pipe" by Weezer.  I started warming up about then and had to shed my jacket.  I was grateful that I layered on two shirts, though.  It was still a bit chilly!  We also had a man serenading us from his front porch during mile two.  He was pretty good!  We got our first drink of water at the aid station between miles two and three.  I was so ready for it!  I get so parched when I'm out running, even if I'm sufficiently hydrated!

Miles two, three and four were in North Little Rock.  At the three mile marker they had a cool brass band called The Big Dam Horns.  They were playing "You Can Call Me Al" by Paul Simon when we passed by.  What a fun song!  We finally hit another aid station shortly after mile four, and I was certainly ready for it!  That Gatorade tasted great!  We managed to keep running and kept our pace at a normal clip for us, 13:14 (Mile 2), 14:04 (Mile 3) and 13:45 (Mile 4).

During mile five we ran back over the Broadway Bridge and back into Little Rock.  I was getting a little tired, but still felt OK, and our pace slowed down a little to 14:24 (Mile 5).

Still feeling pretty good!

We knew that David and Melvin would be waiting for us at mile six, and I was sure ready to see them!  I wanted to shed my jacket and lighten my load a little bit!  I downed another Espresso Love Gu and tried to pick up my pace.  We hit our 10K distance with a time of 1:26:33, which was only slightly slower than our best 10K time (1:23:00) at the Memphis in May 10K.  I felt really great about that!  One thing did concern me after mile six.  I could feel a blister forming at the base of my big toe on my left foot, and I knew that was going to give me trouble on down the road.  We were talking about the hills in this race, and had a fellow racer tell us that we only had one more bad hill (Liar, liar, pants on fire!!!) that would show up at mile eight.  We were dreading that!

Our pace was 13:49 (Mile 6) and 14:32 (Mile 7).  Mile seven was a killer for me.  I was worried about the blister I could feel forming, and even though we were halfway done, I was ready to have David come pick me up.  I have never been more grateful for Ellie.  She is so steady.  I fell behind her, but my competitive spirit (and her willingness to wait for me) kept me going.  I even missed Villa Marre, which is one of my favorite houses in Little Rock.  I think my brain was in a fog at that point.

We had to keep going because we knew we were going to see David and Melvin at mile eight.  David was there with the camera, and caught us looking very tired and worn down.  Our pace really didn't fall much, 14:34 (Mile 8), but our spirits did.

Two really tired ladies!

Miles nine and ten are a blur to me.  We started uphill at about 8.2 miles.  We could see the Arkansas State Capitol at the top of the hill.  It was beautiful, but I just wanted to be past it.  I stopped a couple of times to stretch.  I had a cramp in my left leg and hip, probably from running funny to avoid hurting the blister on my foot.  Ellie was as steady as always, just pushing and pushing up that hill.  We climbed and climbed and climbed.  I thought it would never end!  I don't have a picture of the hill, but here is an old picture from the 1950's that clearly shows the hill.  I copied this picture from the Mabelvale High School webpage.

We did lose our mostly steady pace on that hill.  We had a  14:34 (Mile 8) and a 15:47 (Mile 9).  I hated to slow down that much, but at that point I was truly afraid we wouldn't finish the race.  It really seemed that there was no end in sight!  We crossed over I-630 into South Little Rock during mile 10.  We also passed the Governor's Mansion, but Governor Beebe had already gone inside.  He didn't stick around for the slowpokes like us!   When we saw the big 'MILE 10' flag waving we were so happy!  We stopped for a potty break at the aid station and I literally fell on my butt when I tried to sit on the toilet.  It was crazy!  I couldn't ease myself down there! My legs were just done.  We downed a couple of cups of water and Gatorade and got some mint Lifesavers to chomp on, then we were off.  Our pace really fell at this point.  We probably spent five minutes at that rest stop. Our pace was 16:23 (Mile 10).

After mile ten we just gave up on trying to keep a pace.  We slowed it down, walked a while and chatted. When we passed Church's Chicken during mile eleven and I told Ellie that if I had a dollar I'd run in there and buy myself a Coke.  I wanted one so bad!  I had no idea that a few nice people were about to brighten my day!  Our pace sucked, but we were going to finish...  17:01 (Mile 11).

We crossed back over I-630 in mile twelve.  As we were going down the hill of the overpass I saw a group of people standing on the corner around a small table.  I couldn't believe my eyes!  We hadn't made it to the 'official' aid station, but the folks at Vino's Brew Pub were there to help us out.  They were handing out BEER!  I don't think I've ever tasted a beer that good.  The servings were only about three ounces, but they were tasty!  I couldn't have been any happier.  The beer even tasted like Shiner Bock, which is one of my favorites!  Maybe it was some of their "Razor Bock".  I don't know, but I loved it.  Ellie didn't like the beer (she's strictly a light beer kind of girl), but I didn't let her throw it away!  I drank hers and mine, too.  I really thought that would be my favorite aid station, but things kept getting better!  We had to climb (another) hill to get to the aid station at mile twelve, but we made it.  I was so excited when I found out they were handing out COKES!  Yippee!  I downed a big ole Coke and felt like a new woman.  Our pace even picked up a little to  16:01 (Mile 12).  Yes...  It's still slow, but it was better than mile eleven!

The scenery became familiar as we came into mile thirteen.  We'd run on this route when we did the 5K races last year and the year before.  The best part of the thirteenth mile was the HUGE down hill part about 1/4 of the way in.  We ran down that hill with a renewed ambition.  It was clear to us at that point that we really were going to finish this race.  We passed the Little Rock Parrot Heads and seriously entertained the idea of joining their group!  They looked like they were having a blast!  Shortly after the party with the Parrot Heads we saw the lipstick stop.  We both grabbed a couple of tubes of Loreal lipstick and kept on going.  Ellie put hers on, but I didn't even try.  I knew I'd screw that up!

We finally passed the Mile 13 marker, and felt great about it!  Our overall pace for that mile 17:37 (Mile 13) showed that we walked most of it, but we were proud of ourselves for even being able to move our bodies that far!  We decided to sprint for the finish.  I didn't want to cross that finish line walking!  We sped it up and finished as strong as we possibly could.  

The first race picture ever where I actually look like I'm really running!

Here comes Ellie!

Finally crossing the mats!

DONE!  Yay!

I didn't get any pictures of us after the race with our medals, but we took several with the race photographers.  Hopefully I'll be able to get some of those!

Thanks for reading all the way through my race report!

Reese's 6th Birthday

Tuesday, June 5, 2012
I couldn't have been more surprised when I asked Reese what type of birthday party she wanted.  She asked for a RAZORBACK party!  Yay!  I was sure I'd have to wait for Jack to get bigger before I could have a fun sports party!  Here are some of the things I came up with:

I got on Microsoft Publisher and designed this birthday banner.  The little piggy even has a hair bow, just like Reese always does!

I made vanilla cupcakes with red frosting, and red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  I'm not a great cook, but they came out looking (and tasting) pretty good!

My partner in crime, Ellie, suggested we fill the favor bags with chocolate covered popcorn.  It was delicious!  We drizzled the popcorn with red tinted white chocolate and black tinted chocolate.  

We had all kinds of "piggy" treats!

The kids loved throwing baseballs at these cans.  Thankfully nobody hit the neighbor's house!

I never would have gotten everything done without the help of these three women.  Alyssa, Ellie and Hannah helped with EVERYTHING, even cleaning up!  I love them dearly!

Nana & Aubrey
Messy little Jack

Reese & Katie

We grilled hot dogs, drank lots of Cokes out of the glass bottles, threw baseballs, jumped on the trampoline, and listened to the Razorback Fight Song about 10,000 times.  Overall, I think everyone had a great time, and most of all, Reese was happy!  WOO PIG SOOIEE!