Spring ...HOLD ME BACK!!

Counting my Blessings!!

Tomorrow is May 1st 2011!!
I am SO very excited..and despite the fact that I am still recovering from surgery..I am eagerly looking forward to year two of our journey towards becoming more self sustainable!  I say MORE self sustainable because only having a half acre..we cannot truly go full throttle..but other than animal feeds..and grains..we are hoping to come pretty darned close!


The Garden is going to almost DOUBLE in size this year..and also..getting creative with our growing space..such as container gardening for Squash and potatoes...

This is one of my containers that I have planted potatoes in..it came with the house and is an inside out tire...We have put mulch and compost in the bottom..black earth..seed potatoes..then compost and earth mixed on top! Then there are my tomato plants which I am growing in hanging containers...
For Now they hang in My porch Waiting for a couple more weeks of warm weather!
We have a new flock of chicks that will be laying in September.

Three Goats one of which we are hopping is pregnant...A young steer who will soon be big enough to butcher...3 Turkey chicks on order and 40 meat chicks also coming in that order...I have two new little black currant bushes ( will take 3 years to produce..but I am patient) and two new beehives with the bees on order!

And this spring we even tapped our few maple trees and got some of our own maple syrup!


We Now have rabbits for breeding..Which has more than one benefit..as
Rabbit droppings having the highest nitrogen content of any of the commonly available barnyard manures, such as cow, horse, pig, etc. There is the meat which we enjoy..and the fur I am determined to learn how to process.
They are all now properly housed in the barn and Have lovely pine nesting boxes to sleep in at night...I was just out there and raked out from under their cages and spread it on the garden! Tomorrow the rest of the muck, straw and trampled hay from the steer pen is getting spread on the garden.

I would say my life is pretty much WONDERFUL!!! I am a lucky lady.
For those of you who can watch videos..Here is a tour!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjcaCgwmDIM

I hope everyones lives are as blessed as mine!! And I hope you enjoyed this Blog Entry!!

CHEERS!!

The Story of Nile's Birth

I started drafting the following a couple weeks after Nile was born. I have spent the past year deliberating on pressing "publish post". Well, here it is:


As promised, the story of Nile's birth.

Nile was born on her due date, March 23, bright and early at 6:30 a.m.

While I was pregnant, I decided that I wanted to give birth naturally, without drugs of any kind. Neil was really supportive of my decision. I heard about HypnoBirthing and decided that was the method I wanted to use to labor. I also wanted a doula for labor support. I had heard wonderful things about how the presence of a doula increases the positive outcome of natural childbirths, and I wanted that.

We found a HypnoBirthing instructor here in AZ and we took a class with her and another couple. It was a great experience and we hired her as our doula, too.  Because all hypnosis is self-hypnosis, HpynoBirthing teaches you relaxation techniques to manage pain. It is really great! It was nice having our doula there for the labor and delivery, and it helped me to feel like everything was under control.

We have the HypnoBirthing book and a couple cds that have relaxation prompts and imagery narrations that we listened to in preparation for Nile's birth. At first, I never knew how the "Rainbow Relaxation" imagery ended because I became so relaxed I fell asleep every time I listened to it. We put that and a few other HypnoBirthing tracks on an iPod, along with several hours of ocean wave sounds. I ended up looping the ocean waves and the Rainbow Relaxation during the labor. For a few hours it was Rainbow Relaxation over and over.

On Sunday, March 21, Neil and I went out to the desert to take maternity pictures. Good thing, since I went into labor the very next day.

I had been feeling fine most of the pregnancy, and hadn't gotten that feeling of "just get this baby out of me" like most people say they get during the last month -- I hadn't felt that way, that is, until the previous week. I was really feeling like I was getting all puffy (water retention), heavy and slow. I wanted to sit all the time. Even my face felt swollen. I had started to hope that Nile would be born on or near her due date!

My mom and I had an appointment to get pedicures at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, March 22. We went to do that and my feet and legs were swollen and gross. I do wonder now if the pedicure lady gave me some sort of reflexology pressure point techniques to induce labor. You never know!

After pedicures, I went to my sister-in-law Becky's house, where Neil was helping her with her computer. I laid down on the couch to rest and take a nap. I drifted in and out of consciousness. I started to not feel that great -- I kind of felt like I was coming down with something or was achey all over. I started to feel really mild pain in my lower back, like menstrual cramps. I didn't want to panic or rush things since Neil was still working on Becky's computer, but I went to tell him that I was tired and that I thought we should go. I felt almost on the verge of tears, you know how you feel when you are trying to hold it together but you really don't feel good and want to be alone? I wanted to go immediately, but I was embarrassed for Becky to suspect that I might be in the early stages of labor. Silly, I know. I obviously was feeling like maybe that's what was happening. I felt a little better once I got up to go talk to them, so I stalled for a little bit, but we finally went to leave.

As we were saying goodbye to Becky outside the house, we talked about getting together for lunch the next day, but we said we'd play it by ear; I think we both had a feeling our plans might change.

On our way back to the hotel, we stopped at an Arby's for lunch. We got some random things off of their dollar menu. We then realized we didn't have enough time to go back to the hotel and then make it to our Dr's appointment at 4:20 p.m. So after lunch we headed over to the Dr.'s.

I highly recommend our Dr. if you are in the Mesa, AZ, area: http://www.drbullaro.com/. She delivered three babies (with another one on the way later this year) for two of my sisters-in-law and came highly recommended by them. Yes, that's us on her site, 4 weeks after Nile was born! http://anbobgyn.startlogic.com/photogallery/displayimage.php?album=3&pos=114. If it gives you any idea of how tiny she is, I am 5'7", Neil is 5'5 1/2", and she is holding a newborn baby.

At the appointment, the Dr. said everything looked good, and that I was dilated to 1 1/2 cm. But she said that I could stay at 1 1/2 for two weeks or have the baby tomorrow, you can never tell. So we set up a follow-up appointment for Wed. March 24, the day after I was due.

I had specified in our birth plan that the Dr. not "sweep the membranes" (technical term; doing that during the exam is supposed to encourage the body into labor) so I hope she didn't, but you also never know ...

So we went back to the hotel and honestly the rest of the afternoon and evening was a blur, as I went straight to bed. I woke up on and off as the cramps seemed to increase in intensity. At some point, around 7:00 p.m.,  I realized that maybe this really was labor, so I asked Neil to start putting things in the car. He was gone for a loooong time, which made me really annoyed, as I had started to write down what time it was when I started to feel each cramp. It would subside, but then another one would come, at regular intervals. When they are 3-4 minutes apart, you are supposed to go to the hospital. They were first at 9, then 7, then 5 minutes apart. I put on some of the relaxation tracks, but I felt chaotic and unfocused without Neil in the room. He finally returned from packing the car and at some point texted our doula to give her the heads up.

An interesting side note is that the week prior to this was Spring Break, and both our doula and Dr. had gone out of town! Our Dr. had not had a vacation with her family since before she started her private practice a few years ago, so although she promised she would deliver the baby since we'd come all the way from Argentina to do so, I had to try NOT to have the baby during Spring Break week! Kind of stressful. Especially because our time pre-baby was winding down but we didn't want to do anything that might cause me to go into labor ...

So we had made it this far and I think my body knew it was now "OK" to have the baby. And all systems were go.

Around 8:45 p.m. or so we carefully went out to the car and headed the 12 minutes to the hospital, a beautiful, state-of-the-art facility, which I also highly recommend if you are in the Mesa/Gilbert, AZ area. Along the way I ate a clementine orange, which I would see again later.

I had purchased a cute tank top, shorts and matching slippers from the Juniors section at Target. I had bought a Victoria's Secret bathrobe, and had envisioned myself donning this garb and walking around the halls and the peaceful hospital gardens while I labored. What I didn't realize is that the outfit was impractical: a hospital gown is infinitely more reasonable and is going to get messy anyway; and they sell you on the beautiful zen garden exclusively for use by the maternity ward, but you do NOT feel physically capable of walking to it when labor is in full swing and you can't barely get out of bed anyway.

But I'm skipping ahead.

At the hospital I felt OK enough to not be dropped off at the entrance, though the walk from the car to the maternity entrance was start and stop, with ginger steps.

The labor and delivery ward is high-security, so you actually have to show your pregnant belly at a closed-circuit camera to enter. We were let in and went through the whole "sitting in the waiting room for a bit till you get to talk to the triage nurse" that everyone complains about. They had warned us about this when we did a little birthing orientation class, so I didn't sweat it. They know if you need in NOW or not, and I was doing OK.

So when I was called in to talk to the pre-admittance lady, I kept it under control as she pulled out my file and asked me how long I had been having contractions. We were then good to go for a little inspection by the triage nurse. She did a quick exam and was surprised; she told me that I was "at a 6 with a bulging bag of waters, so once the water breaks, you will probably be at about a 5." WOW! That was encouraging to find out that after a couple hours of mild discomfort, I was already halfway there.

Needless to say, I was admitted.

I requested to be assigned a labor and delivery nurse who specializes in, or at least supports, natural childbirth. I was assigned Becky (not my sister-in-law), the kindest, gentlest, sweetest nurse you could ever wish for.

However, before I could focus on continuing labor, I had to get a Heparin, or "Hep-" lock, which is the start of an IV but without any tubing attached. A "just in case."

Since I desired a natural childbirth, I didn't want an IV line: Studies show that having an IV inserted is the first step to nurses or a Dr. convincing you to go with pitocin or other IV drugs, since the IV is already there. But my Dr.'s policy is to have an IV line; she won't attend a birth without one. Thus, we had compromised with the Hep-lock. I really was not happy about having to do it, but it turns out we were better safe than sorry: It took four different nurses to finally get it; eventually they had to call in an Emergency Room nurse from the IV team. They tried my wrist, my arm, my other wrist, and finally found success inserting the needle between my fingers! It was very uncomfortable as the contractions were coming and going. But I just made them try between contractions, waiting until a contraction subsided before they could try again. If, heaven forbid, I had not had the Hep-lock and had gone into an emergency situation, I don't want to know how many precious minutes would have been lost trying to get an IV line going.

So, Hep-lock taped to my hand, peace and quiet in the room, things started to get pretty intense from there. They kept the lights off, with only the soft glow of the bathroom light through the translucent door. I lay on one side or ther other, turning now and again, and had pillows tucked in all around my body.

I honestly have to say that labor is like REALLY intense menstrual cramps that come and go at regular intervals. The "discomfort" (HypnoBirthing discourages the use of words like "pain"; but let's face it, there I found myself, at the extreme limits of what I knew as "pain"!) was pretty exquisite.

My doula arrived and was a wonderful, calming presence. She was a wonderful complement to the nurses and to Neil. She rubbed my feet endlessly and talked me through some rough patches. At one point she went to lightly rub my hip, and the touch literally felt like she was going to crush my pelvis. My sensory perception was on overload. So she kept to my feet and calves. I had the Hypnobirthing track, "Rainbow Relaxation" playing, as well as ocean sounds, which were a recommendation from my natural-birthing, lactation consultant, RN friend Pamela. She had said that the waves mimicked the ebb and flow of the contractions. I kind of felt like they also went along with the controlled crashing of nature that was going on inside my body.

I went into what some call "Labor Land." Time was completely warped, and passed by quickly. It is hard to explain, but I felt really sleepy and kind of out of it. I think it could be because all the blood was rushing to the parts of my body that were working hard, and not to my brain. Or, nature's natural process was kicking in and my body's own birth-relieving hormones were being produced. At any rate, it is quite a blessing, to feel drowsy and to lose one's concept of time, during a time like this.

I felt like if I weren't so uncomfortable, I'd like to go to sleep. A contraction would come on, but I knew that I could ride it out; I envisioned myself riding it like a wave in the 'ocean sounds' I was listening to (never mind that I am afraid of surfing!). It didn't feel like it lasted very long, and then there would be a long pause between contractions, where I could recover and regroup. Toward the end, Neil, my doula and the nurse were discussing how the contractions were only 30 seconds to a minute apart -- that sounded crazy, because I would have told you that it felt like a good five-minute break between contractions. It's amazing how a reprieve from extreme pain, now matter how small, can be enjoyed fraction of a second by fraction of a second, just feeling grateful for even the most abbreviated moments of relief. At the same time, every time I looked at the clock, another 45 minutes or an hour had flown by. Very wild time distortion.

My back really hurt. It seemed like the contractions started deeply and ferociously in my lower back, roared up through my mid-section, and then slowly went back down my torso with huge claws scraping the whole way down. If you can envision that happening over and over every few minutes, you can imagine what labor is like. Or at least back labor -- I found out later that I was apparently experiencing back labor, as Nile came out face up, so they told me I had been in back labor. But during labor I thought "wow, this is pretty painful on my lower back, but it couldn't possibly be back labor because that is supposed to be excruciatingly painful." I still think I must've had a mild case, but I guess it's all a matter of perspective. I tried laboring on my elbows and knees, but it didn't help the discomfort at all, so I went back to laying on one side or the other.

A big part of HypnoBirthing is imagery, so I continually envisioned the baby descending through the birth path.

I had a baby heart rate monitor attached to my stomach, and I thought for sure that the heart rate would increase during the intensity of the contractions, but it never did. It had a regular rhythm and no increase in rate; it was somewhat soothing. I had heard you could turn the sound on or off periodically, but I wanted it kept on, because it provided a consistent sound anchor for my labor.

I also found myself counting things, mostly the number of lines on the plastic intercom built in to my hospital bed side rail. There were 13 of them. Somehow focusing on the counting helped to distract me, if only a little.

I told my doula and nurse how my back hurt, so someone got me a warm washcloth. I was laying on my side and they pressed it against my lower back. At the moment the heat seeped into my back, I felt a soft POP! feeling and then the flood of fluid as my water broke. I felt like I peed my pants with a pitcher of water. I exclaimed "Oh! I think my water just broke!" and that was fine with everyone in the room.

It was more of a problem getting a change of linens, and that is probably the one complaint I have -- you pay enough to stay in a hospital room, and then they told me they were having trouble finding more sheets, absorbent bed pads, and pillowcases. I'm sorry, but there were built-in cupboards around my bed which should have been fully stocked upon my arrival. That is the piece of advice I would give to anyone going in to have a baby -- insist that you have an endless supply of linens on hand, as soon as you get in your room.

I got up to go to the bathroom and change my drenched, clammy, clinging gown (and I had to wait till they found a new one) and then I had to come back to a cold, wet, soaked bed. I asked them to change it before I got back in, but that took time. If you ask him, Neil is still upset about that and that he didn't realize my need at the time. At any rate, as labor progressed, more fluid gushed out with each contraction, so I understand where they might want to hold back on doling out the linens, but as I said, ten thousand dollars should pay for extra linens on hand and laundry service.

I tried to take a hot shower, but the water temperature was fluctuating wildly (and my skin was hyper-sensitive anyway) and, sitting in a shower chair, the water only hit me on my back or on my front, not both, so I was freezing cold and very uncomfortable, so that attempt was short-lived.

They also sell you on a fancy Japanese soaking tub at the hospital. But labor and delivery nurse Becky didn't really encourage me to use it. After delivery she actually admitted that she thinks it's unhygienic. "Sure it gets cleaned between uses, but by regular janitors ..."

At one point as I labored I felt like things were so intense, I didn't know if I could continue naturally. I said this to my doula and Neil, partially hoping they would tell me "OK, let's get the drugs," but mostly hoping they would encourage me to keep going. To my slight dismay, they were like, "OK, whatever you think is best for you." We came this far for them to say that?!

But I have to thank my doula, because at that moment I think she went out to get Becky, to ask her to check me. Becky came in the room and said brightly but gently, "OK, let's see how you're doing." This was probably around 4:00 in the morning. She checked me and I was at an 8. Only 2 cm. to go! This was extremely encouraging, and gave me total newfound determination to keep going.

I don't know if it was shortly before or after that, but I suddenly felt waves of nausea. Remember that clementine orange I ate in the car? It came up into a plastic enema pan, undigested, in little chewed up wedges. They said that was a sign of the "transition" phase, supposedly the most intense time during labor, when the most cervical changes happen during the shortest amount of time. This also signals that the baby is almost here!

During labor, the nurses had kept me apprised of my Dr's whereabouts. She came to the hospital not long after I was admitted, maybe around 10:30 p.m., and had slept in another room. At some point shortly after the return of the clementine, my Dr. made her first appearance in my room, coming in to encourage me further. She leaned down and told me I was doing great, that "you've got this!" that I could do it naturally and it wouldn't be much longer. Well, she's the Dr.! So I was completely confident at that point.

I actually asked Becky how much longer she thought it would be. She said that based on what she'd seen from other women at my stage and progressing as I was, she predicted that Nile would be born after 6:00 a.m., maybe half-past. That was more than two hours away! I had a long haul ahead of me, though the thought of "only" two more hours was encouraging.

I started to feel like I had to go to the bathroom, so I went and sat on the toilet for a bit, where I nearly fell asleep except for the raging contractions periodically racking my body. Nothing happened on the toilet (hey, we're talking childbirth here, I think we've already crossed the line of TMI) but apparently if you feel like you have to "go" that is a sign that the end is near, as the baby is pressing on the same nerves that give you the "No. 2" signal. Becky said it was great if I could just sit on the toilet, because it would help the cervix to open and the baby to descend, so I visualized both of those things happening every time I got up to sit on the toilet, which I did a few times.

My Dr. had come in that one time to keep me going, but now I could hear muffled talking and laughter coming from down the hall. I felt a little bit irritated by that (pretty much anything irritates you when you're in labor) but Becky said it was my Dr., that she was up and talking to the nurses. "She always keeps them in stitches, we love her!" she added. That was a nice thought, and I was a little less annoyed, especially knowing that she was up and ready for action now.

Becky checked me maybe a couple more times, as she said I was at a 9 1/2 and then 9 3/4. How she can tell the miniscule difference, I don't know. By this point of course the baby's head was pretty far descended and she could feel it, but she said there was a little lip of cervix that was resisting. So she finally said, "let's do a test and see if you can push to melt away this little ridge". So I did, and it went away, and I was at a 10.

Things all started to speed up at that point, but the weird thing was, I was really real, fully conscious, feeling, hearing, sounds, sensations, and it was not softened by any drug or birthing fantasy that I may have imagined during my pregnancy. This was REAL and it was happening now.

In an authoritative, calm but urgent tone, Becky sent someone to get my Dr. and said "we're ready to push". My diminutive Dr. entered the room, and despite her petite size, her reputation as the boss of the delivery room held true. She owned that place. People were going here, doing that, prepping this, and she was in charge, in her enormous gown over her scrubs.

A tall wheeled tray table that had sat quietly against a wall was pulled out, the disposable sheet that was over it was removed, to reveal rows of benignly gleaming silver instruments.

It was time to push.

I didn't really feel the "urge to push" that all the books and HypnoBirthing materials had talked about. But if they said I was at a 10 and ready to push, well golly, I was going to push with all my might.

So push I did, starting at 6:00 a.m. I thought the baby would come right out, with how hard I was pushing. As instructed, I waited for each contraction and then pushed with it. My doula was counting for me, the classic "1-2-3 ... 10". But then I kind of lost my rhythm and with such intense sensations I couldn't really tell when I was having a contraction or not, so I pushed intermittently.

I remembered the advice of my ocean-waves friend Pamela, who has had two babies: push from the top of your stomach (like you're a belly dancer rolling your stomach), not from your nether regions (like you're going to the bathroom).

A side note here along the same lines: I had a fear that I would do something unpleasant (inadvertently go No. 2) during the pushing stage of delivery. Even though everyone says you won't care at that point, I still didn't want it to happen. And I felt like I WOULD care at that point. But it didn't happen (I even asked Neil, to be sure). So if any of you out there share the same fear, know that it probably(?) won't happen; maybe the pushing from the top of your stomach helps?

I didn't scream hysterically, curse, or wail in agony. I did not feel uncontrollable pain and above all, it was a natural process, so I knew I wasn't going to die. Movies and TV shows completely and inaccurately dramatize the labor process.

I asked the Dr. if there was a more efficient way of pushing; I would do anything they suggested. I was in the classic on-your-back, legs-spread position, but HypnoBirthing had suggested other positions, and I had thought maybe squatting could work. There was no squatting to be had; for one, the Dr. would not be able to see anything, but mostly I didn't really see myself trying to get into that position at this point.

At any rate, with each push, everyone was exclaiming that they were starting to be able to see the head! They said they could see a quarter-size part of the head. Then a half-dollar. I was pushing so hard I couldn't believe that was all they could see! Even the Dr. and the nurses said, "Wow, she's strong!" in reference to my PUSHing. I was really giving it all my might. I didn't care -- at this point, nothing really felt better or worse than anything else and I just wanted it to be OVER. My doula had promised me that I would feel better IMMEDIATELY after the baby came out, and if that didn't prove to be true, I could "punch [her] in the mouth". I didn't want to do that, but the thought of immediate relief glimmered irresistibly within my reach.

As I was pushing, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that Becky was writing with erasable marker on the translucent bathroom door:  "Happy Birthday, Nile!" followed by

Date:
Time:
Weight:
Length:

This was really happening!

Finally they saw more of the head with each contraction, and I think someone may have said that it would only be a couple more pushes, then one more push, and then SUDDENLY, exactly 30 minutes after I began pushing,

She was here!

At 6:30 a.m. on her due date, March 23, 2010.

And I IMMEDIATELY felt better. I mean, better than better; I felt like I had gone from feeling horrible,  to feeling like I just woke up feeling great on the best day of my life. Neil still teases me because the instant the baby came out, I exclaimed "I feel so much better already!" It was incredible. I didn't even know what else to do or say. I just kind of watched, because the baby wasn't really making much noise. As soon as she came out the Dr. went into routine mode, suctioning her nose (which was something in our birth plan we had specifically stated we did not want -- too rough of a first greeting in the world). Ah well.

Then the baby let out this low "aghhhhh aghhhhh" sort of complaint of a wail. But it was a low, hoarse sound, not a piercing baby cry. The Dr. was holding her up, and she or someone else said, "we want her to make a good, strong crying sound" but I think her voice was naturally low and hoarse, because she did continue to cry, but in the same "aggghhhh" way. [A year later I can say that her cry has always been that way, to this day.] So I guess she checked out, and her APGAR was good.

I'm not sure if it was before or after that, the Dr. proceeded to clamp the cord for Neil to cut. Another thing we had specified in our birth plan: Please wait for the cord to stop pulsating before cutting it. This can be several minutes or longer. The Dr. said, "Oh, it had already stopped." I am actually pointing to it in surprise in a picture that was snapped, but it was already done before I could say anything.

When they handed her to me, I held her on my left side, looking into her eyes for the first time. They were like little slits, almost swollen shut, but she had them opened and was looking at me with these eyes that were dark blue, but light enough to convince me that I didn't think they would be brown. I was very happy with that.

Neil says I kissed her and said I love you, which I don't quite remember. They then took her over to be warmed up, weighed, and cleaned up.

During this time, the Dr. gave me some stitches. I did allow her to give me some local anesthesia for that! We had a conversation, and my doula asked me about the tiny (but stretched) laparoscopy scar she'd seen on my side from an appendectomy years ago. As I talked, I kept an eye on what was happening in the corner, making sure Neil was with the baby the whole time. It was really weird, and maybe no one will understand this, but I felt so strange, I was transformed into a mother in name only; I didn't feel a surge in pride or love. As the time passes, I see that it is something that grows and grows to infinite proportions. But at that moment in the hospital, making small talk with my Dr. and doula while I was given stitches, I really felt detached, literally and figuratively. It has taken time, but luckily not very much time, to feel completely attached to her, and [saying this now, a year later] I now feel incredibly attached to her and am totally a mother now. I have a complete bond with her.

We then got several pictures with the nurses and our doula, and I could tell the Dr. wanted me to try feeding her, which she then asked me to do. I did and she latched right on, to my surprise and relief.

Moral of the story: If you want a natural birth, I recommend HypnoBirthing as a method toward that end. I don't think you can go into labor without some way to get through it, whether it be HypnoBirthing, Lamaze, an epidural, or whatever works for you. Also, if you don't feel like mom material or transformed at the moment of childbirth, don't worry, it will likely grow on you, and it is the most wonderful feeling.

Max the Gecko

One afternoon during the recent Easter school holidays Mousie came to me ...

"Mum, guess what? We found a gecko outside."

"Did you?"

"Yeah, and d'ya know what? We called him Max."

"That's nice."

"He's really, really, REALLY cute, Mum."

"Is he?"

"Yeah d'ya know why? Because he's so tiny .... he's a really tiny gecko."

"Well, don't touch him or you'll hurt him."

"Yeah but guess what?"

"What?"

"He's dead."

"Oh!"

"Yeah, but d'ya know what mum? He was dead when we found him."

"!!??"

"And Mum! Mum, d'ya know what? We buried Max."

"Good."

"Now guess what? We are making Max a tombstone with a little stone and d'ya know what mum? I am going to write 'Max' on it and put it on his grave."

So if you happen to be visiting us and see a soggy piece of paper with a faded, ink-smeared word on it which has been placed near a large-ish garden pebble you'll know that is the final resting place of Max the Gecko.

Foto Friday

(Because I know it makes Giraffy cringe when I type phonetically...)

None of these pictures are race related, just random shots from the week.

A and her doll, Eva - Matchy, Matchy!
The 80s crimping test project!
A's toy of the week. My old "mouse house" - made by my mother, but houses only bunnies and foxes (yes, they are friends)
P90X results so far... 4 weeks on, 2 weeks off
TGIF!! Good luck to everyone racing this weekend! This is my second week off in a row. I'm losing my mind without racing, especially since there were SO many to choose from.

Argh

When I got up this morning at 5:15, unable to sleep any more for wondering what the dress looked like, I discovered that my PVR didn't record the Royal Wedding. I'm devastated...I will have to watch the highlight show like some sort of yob.

Three Things Thursday (and then some)

1. My foot/ankle is feeling a lot better. I am continuing the use of the KT tape (today's colors are red/white/blue). Light icing and the Strasburg sock.
2. Training... first is of course the 50k. That is more of a mental game as I haven't added distance to my training. But, I think I have a pretty solid base and I'm sure I can do this.
3. and second is the Great Wall, which is only 2 weeks after the 50k. (It took me a while before I realized that. I must be insane). Anyway, I've been doing the Stairmaster at the gym, ran stairs last Sunday and plan on running more this weekend. That's about the extent of that training. Just in the last few days I've been bombarded with emails from the travel coordinator, which means it is RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER... psyched.
4. My headphones finally stopped working ten minutes into my treadmill run last night at the gym. Which means I ran for an hour with no music. I've never done this. Ever. The good news is that I don't breathe nearly as loud as I think I do, and the workout wasn't as tragic as I dreamed it could be.
5. P90X - I started again this week, and man am I sore. Crazy how just taking a few weeks off when I was sick set my base so far back. As for the Ab Ripper X? I can now do 98% of the reps. For a long time, the mason twists were my biggest struggle. Now? The backward bicycle. I swear it is just too unnatural feeling. Even placing a mirror next to me to watch my legs doesn't help. My mind can't comprehend. Sigh.
6. NYC Marathon... I didn't get in. I shouldn't be surprised. The NYC half was also a lottery and I *did* get into that one. I just realized that running for charity isn't even an option. They all require that you provide a credit card so if you don't raise the required amount they can charge your card. I no longer have credit cards. This is a bummer. I guess I'll try my luck at the lottery next year. (With that said... I am tempted, SUPER tempted, to run the San Francisco FULL marathon instead. Thoughts??)
7. I've added another item to the 50K GIVEAWAY, which means more opportunities to win! Check it out!

My Training Plan

Okay... I've got a date down to run a 5k and it's on June 4th... the day my oldest son graduates High School!  That gives me 6 weeks to train.  I've studied over several different training programs and I've come up with this:




Margene’s 5K+ Training Plan



Week
Workout 1
Workout 2
Workout 3
April 25-29
1
(45 Min)  Run 1 min. / Walk 4 minutes.  Do this 9X
(40 Min)  Run 1 min. / Walk 4 minutes.  Do this 8X
(40 Min)  Run 1 min. / Walk 4 minutes.  Do this 8X
May 2-6
2
(55 min) Run 2.5 min. / Walk 2.5 min.  Do this 11x
(45 min) Run 2.5 min. / Walk 2.5 min.  Do this 9x
(50 min) Run 2.5 min. / Walk 2.5 min.  Do this 10x
May 9-13
3
(60 min) Run 4 min. / Walk 2 min.  Do this 10x
(54 min) Run 4 min. / Walk 2 min.  Do this 9x
(54 min) Run 4 min. / Walk 2 min.  Do this 9x
May 16-20
4
(63 min) Run 7 min. / Walk 2 min.  Do this 7x
(54 min) Run 7 min. / Walk 2 min.  Do this 6x
(50 min) Run 7 min. / Walk 2 min.  Do this 5x
May 23-27
5
(44 min) Run 10 min. / Walk 1 min.  Do this 4x
(41 min) Run 20 min. / Walk 1 min.  Run 20 Min.
(45 min) Run 22 min. / Walk 1 min.  Run 22 Min.
May 30-June 4
6
(51 min) Run 25 min. / Walk 1 min.  Run 25 Min.
(56 min) Run 30 min. / Walk 1 min.  Run 25 Min.
(51 min) Run 40 min. / Walk 1 min.  Run 10 Min.                           OR                                            -----Run 5K-----


My goal is to be where I can run more than a 5K by the time I reach that date.  I have no idea if this is feasible as far as my ability or being such a short time, but why can't it be?  So far I've done workout 1 and 2 of week 1.  It is still hard to run that 1 minute but it's not impossible.  I am pushing myself more than I have in MANY years.  But my body is certainly capable.  I have to work on my breathing as sometimes I feel like I'm not getting enough oxygen.

SO... you experienced runners out there... I am open to suggestions, ideas and feedback.  I'm a total new-be to all this.

I do have to say, that this will be a HUGE accomplishment for me.  I have dreaded running since grade school and actually, other than being on my 9th grade basketball team, I've avoided ever having to run.  This is a life change for me and something I really want to conquer.  And to do this before I move would be INCREDIBLE to me.  I really want to do this!!

Muscials, ultras, and what impresses me

Training.  Adaptation to increasing levels of stress.  Right?  Whether you're training for a 5k, ultramarathon, century, Ironman, long swim, bodybuilding competition...even an exam or musical...the concept behind the preparation for all is the same.  The basic tenant is to get to a point so that just before the event, you feel ready - ALMOST ready - to do your best at said event.

Last night, I got to/had to (I lean more towards the got to camp) watch the three sixth grade classes at my school perform a musical.  Now, my childhood memories of these things aren't so fond.  "Let's get a bunch of kids who can't sing or dance and have them make fools of themselves in front of their parents!  Afterward, all the coward parents will clap and cheer and talk about how great everyone was.  Please."  My opinion, however, has changed drastically in the past two years.  Our music teacher's #1 teaching priority seems to be preparing the sixth grade for their spring performance.  It shows.

Behind the scenes, the amount of preparation that went into the musical would stagger most.
  • Performance selection - she was aware that this particular class had more boys and less girls who were strong actors than a normal class.  She also knew that acting-wise, there were a few more talented ones than usual, yet they were not super strong singers.  She chose an appropriate piece - one with many leading roles perfect for boys, one that was much heavier with acting than singing - than a "normal" show.
  • Casting - each of the major parts was played by a kid who seemed born for said spot.
  • Rehearsal - this is where lessons were learned.  Here is where the true lessons were learned.  First of all, the music teacher worked with the other specials teachers to alter the entire school's schedule for one month.  This allowed her an hour and half with the sixth grade every day, as opposed to the normal forty minutes every third day.  She had laid the groundwork throughout the school year, working on a few of the songs with the individual classes.  They had this background to draw on when all three classes got together.  All of the individual scenes were worked on separately until they could be performed near perfection.  It wasn't until the week before the performance that she even attempted to run through the whole thing, as she knew that it would be mentally psychologically taxing on the kids.  She knew the kids only had a finite amount of energy, concentration, etc, and that these days had to be carefully chosen.  Furthermore, she only ran through the entire show every other day during this time, in order to give the kids the chance to 'recover' on the days in between. 
   When the curtain closed last night, everyone in the audience was quite impressed.  While it was no broadway show, the fact that SIXTH GRADERS were able to actually entertain people for almost ninety minutes was quite impressive.  Everyone, including many of the sixies, walked away thinking, "Wow!  I can't believe we did that!"  You could feel their pride as they basked in their collective accomplishment.

Why did I just spend all that ink talking about an elementary school musical?  Well, to me it's pretty clear.  In nine days, I will be running my first ultramarathon.  I put a lot of thought into deciding when to do my first one, which one it should be, and what type of goal I could reasonably shoot for.  My #1 goal for 2011 is to do well on Pike's in August.  Training for two mountain races on back-to-back days looks quite different than training for many consecutive 8:00, 9:00, or 10:00 miles.   Therefore, I had to keep a few things in mind.  Time between the ultra and Pikes weekend was essential.  Completing training that was specific enough for an ultra, yet not harmful to Pikes training - also essential.  Having this secondary, closer goal NOT conflict with the big picture - the most essential piece.  (the Cripple Creek run being an exception to that rule, oops)

In December, completing a 20-miler was a big deal.  I now do those with such regularity, and with much uptempo build into them, that it's just another day.  I could step out the door and run 26 miles any day of the week and still have a decent run the next day.  Couldn't say that months ago.  50?  Still an unknown quantity.  Can I complete 50 miles now?  Absolutely.  Not a concern.  Can I do so quickly enough to be happy with the result?  Dunno yet.  But I can now wrap my head around it.  I have positioned myself to go for my goal next Saturday without feeling suicidal about it.  By taking a huge task and breaking it down to it's essentials, I now believe I can be successful.

The goals are myriad, but the process is the same.  Life is full of these opportunities.  This guy touches on it.  Nothing is special, it's all relative, and there's always more out there.  I'm not impressed with my accomplishments in an external sense, but I get off on it internally.  In other words, if some stranger tells me, "Wow, Sean, I'm so in awe of what you did Saturday, you must be so proud," I only can somewhat agree.  I'm satisfied with the fact that I've pushed my own envelope somewhat.  Everyone is capable of pushing his own envelope.  Any time someone succeeds at this, I am equally impressed.

This song is like crack in my head right now - I could listen to it for an hour straight and still want more.  Sick.

Bust a Myth: Loss and IF Aren't As Bad for People With Children

Warning: graphic post about infertility and loss.  No food this time.  Read at the risk of being a little shocked; this is not for the faint of heart.  This post is in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, as part of its Bust a Myth campaign.


It seems to be an unwritten rule.  You don't talk about the bad things that can happen during pregnancy, and you especially don't talk about them to pregnant women.  Sure, you can share stories or morning sickness and cramps and aches and cravings, but the really awful things are taboo.  Pregnancy always ends in live, healthy birth in our happy little world.  And you particularly shouldn't be complaining if you already have a child; you've got no right to demand another.

I was 32 when I had our son.  It was a picture perfect pregnancy.  I didn't even experience morning sickness.  I was on top of the world with my pregnancy glow.  Though the birth wasn't easy, I got a healthy baby.  I knew that things could go wrong; one of my friends' children was stillborn.  But I thought somehow that I was safe ... after all, I'd given birth.  Other children would come, too, if I wanted them.

And then, loss.  The first was early, just six weeks.  My son was two.  I'd made an appointment for my first prenatal visit, and the day before I was supposed to go, I saw pink in the bathroom.  No, I said to myself.  Shit, no.  I tried to believe that it wasn't happening.  They took my blood, and confirmed that my hCG levels were dropping.  I bled, and I mourned the loss of that baby, its potential.  I knew when I'd passed the clot that had contained that small life, and I felt sick; I could no longer trust my body to carry a child to term.

A year later, again.  This time, much later; I was just about to begin my second trimester.  I had passed the six week mark, and thought, again, that perhaps this time I would be safe. I was developing a baby bump already.

And then, I saw the blood. A light pink stain as I cleaned up in the bathroom at work. Oh, shit, I said, under my breath. No, no. Not again. Oh, god, please. No. I talked myself into believing that it was nothing. That I would check again later. That I was imagining things. But I knew I wasn’t imagining things the next time. I called the doctor, and they said I should come in that day, even though I had a scheduled appointment on Monday, to see the baby, to see that everything was all right. They seemed so confident, that I believed them. I didn’t call my husband. It wasn’t necessary.

Until I saw the monitor, and the technician, searching. Measuring. Quietly. Looking for something that she wasn’t finding. I’m sorry, she said, I’m just not finding a heartbeat. Oh, god, I said. Oh, no. I covered my mouth, open, like an o. They took me to another room, said some things about what I should expect next, let me go. I cried a little. I hugged the midwife as she went to close the door and leave me to collect myself. I thanked her. I dried my tears and opened the door to the waiting room, walking through a sea of pregnant bellies. I saw a woman I knew in the parking lot, with her sick son. I sympathized, told her I would check on them this week. She didn’t ask why I was there. I drove home.

I became methodical: I emailed the people I knew who had known about it. I called the woman who had offered me her maternity clothes to tell her to give them to someone else. I went through the house, throwing away the prenatal paperwork that I was supposed to return on Monday. I threw away the container they’d given me for my first morning urine specimen. I threw away the pamphlets on prenatal nutrition. I threw away the paperwork to register for maternity stay. I told my husband. I cooked dinner, I bathed and put my son to bed, I checked work email, I went to bed.

On Friday, my car battery was dead. I was tired of death. My husband jumped my car. I went to work. I went for a run, not sure if I could, not sure if I should. My body protested. I could feel the blood coming. I walked back. I went to a lunch meeting of mothers, sympathizing with people’s day care stories, feeling like I was talking in a tunnel, listening to myself in some other body. I bled more, and now even more. I excused myself, staggered to the bathroom, hoping that I was not leaving a bloody trail on the historic carpet. In the bathroom, I began to feel as if my body was emptying in great waves of blood and islands of slippery tissue. Would the bleeding never stop? I returned to my office and finished the work day. I drove home. I fed my family, I bathed and put my son to bed. I went to the grocery store to do my Friday night shopping, walking slowly. I came home, put away the groceries. Checked email. Went to bed. Lay awake, listening to nothing.

On Saturday, I baked banana bread while I made breakfast for my son. I walked with him to the library, promising him a trip to the store for a treat. I went to the bathroom in the library. I knew something was coming, and I had to push, but it came — whatever it was, a mass of blood and cells and tissue — it looked like a human heart. It was my heart. I looked into the toilet, trying to see the baby I knew must have been in there, as my son sat reading Dora’s Valentine on the bathroom floor. I knew I couldn’t look much longer before my son would come over, and I didn’t want him to see what I saw. It was surreal. I flushed it away, feeling sick, knowing what I had just done, washed my hands, ushered out my son, closed the door. The pain was unbearable. I walked home, every step a torture. I made my son lunch, put him in the car. I drove the hour to my mother’s house to get her settled after her return from the knee surgery rehab. I ordered her dinner. I entertained my son while feeding him dinner. I drove home, made lemon poppy cake, checked work email, prepped my Sunday RE class. I went to bed, listening to the roaring of my heart and blood in my ears. I lay awake for hours, shifting to make the pain subside. It would not.

On Sunday, I made breakfast, collected our things, drove to church, set out the cakes and fruit for coffee hour. I washed dishes and made polite conversation about the minister’s pregnant wife, due a week before I would have given birth. I drove home, made lunch, returned to church. I taught a sex ed class, beginning with a memorial service for the co-teacher who had died this week of a sudden heart attack in traffic. I drove home, went to the park, watched my son play in the puddles in his rain boots. I came back home, I made dinner, I put my son to bed. I baked a red velvet cake. I took hours to frost it. I roamed aimlessly; I lay awake for hours.

I felt hollow. Empty. A shell full of nothing. I was just tired; not sad, not angry. I was just nothing.

I thought about the minister’s wife, how she would have a baby in August. I thought about my friend, who would have her baby even earlier, in May. Another friend, in May. Another, in June. I wondered how that would feel to me. I would have no baby. I would have no reason to post “pregnant” as my Facebook status. I would have no maternity leave in the fall. I would do the same things I do every day. Nothing would change. My changed plans had changed back to unchanged plans. I felt cheated, maybe even jealous.

I began to wonder if I didn’t want this one, or the last one, for that matter, badly enough. If they knew this, and left my inhospitable body. I began to think about all of the things I might have done: not enough thyroid hormone. A mistake at Starbucks, when a barista might have given me caffeinated coffee. A piece of chocolate cake. Too much exercise. Overheating. A hot shower. Stress. Negativity. I knew, intellectually, that it was not my fault. That didn’t seem to matter to my superego.

And it didn't matter that I already had a child.

No one tells you that you are going to experience something like labor and lose the baby that could have been in the toilet of the public library.  They just give you a slip of paper to get your blood drawn when you stop bleeding, to make sure your levels are at zero. You are done bleeding, and they take blood. The irony of this was not lost on me.

Another year, another loss, and then it seemed I couldn't even get pregnant.  I went to my ob/gyn, and they told me that I was now officially high risk, that my losses and my age and the length of time it was taking us to conceive meant that I was infertile.  I couldn't understand; how was this possible, when I'd given birth to a healthy child?  They handed me a slip of paper with "INFERTILITY" written in big block letters across the top, with the names of several clinics, and suggested that I call to make an appointment.  There was no explanation for my loss, for my empty body.   I felt marked.  I felt like a failed woman.  I was unable to do the one thing my body was supposedly built to do.  I could not create or support life.  And the fact that I had a beautiful son whom I loved didn't change how that label, and those losses, made me feel.

Though I did, just this past February, successfully carry a second child to term--thanks, I believe, to an endocrinologist who was willing to listen and who believed that there was something he could do--that pregnancy was full of anxiety.  I hold tightly to the children I have been gifted, knowing just how precious life really is, but their presence does not erase the losses that came before.  I also know that it would have been good to know more people like me, to know that I was not alone, to know that others had stories, too.  To know that one successful pregnancy doesn't equal fertility, and that to have difficulty carrying a child to term after a successful first pregnancy was also normal.  And I wish that the stories of loss and infertility were less taboo, so that we could perhaps help other women to be less alone.  We should not assume that the woman in our playgroup is fertile.  We should not assume that the childless woman doesn't want children.

The other day, one of the bloggers I follow posted a link to a video from a Japanese classroom, as a way of illustrating the Buddhist principle of transforming suffering into happiness.  I was struck by the students' display of empathy, and it got me thinking about blogging, about how being able to share a story with an empathetic community can both tap the silent suffering of others and make us stronger people, offering us a new perspective on our own stories.  Healing would happen so much more often if we just stopped making assumptions about each other and started listening deeply, instead.  I thought that I would share the video here, as a way of ending this post, and as a way of encouraging others to write their own "letters," too.  It's about time your voice was heard.



See RESOLVE for a basic understanding of infertility: http://www.resolve.org/infertility101 and for more information about National Infertility Awareness Week® (NIAW): http://www.resolve.org/takecharge.

Tormented Ticking!

Yo! Now, before we begin, this post may be a little lengthy so perhaps best to go and make a brew, roll a fag and slip into something more comfortable...

Ready? So I shall begin.
After neglecting the blog for a few weeks, I thought it might be an idea to scribe some nonsense as to what I've been up to - don't get excited!
Rewinding back to nearly two weeks ago, the weekend of 16th-17th April was spent scouring the patch. Highlights over the two day period consisted of (16th)a single Barnacle Goose that arrived with two Canada Geese (This bird remained for only c30 minutes before flying off. It was later seen heading over Bentinck Pit Top) 1 LRP north, a Jay thru SE, 3 Yellowhammers & 5 Whitethroats. On the 17th, the only highlight really was 2 LRPs that zipped thru SE & the first Sedge Wblr of the year. Throughout the weekend, 4 pairs of Teal were present along with 2 pars of Gadwall. Greylags had increased to 12 and 2 Snipe were mucking about in the SW corner. Late morning on the 17th, I headed to Willington GPs in D*rbyshire in order to have a squint at a pair of Garganey but infuriatingly, the pair of summer ducks had been flushed by a bitch with a dog shortly before I arrived at the Canal Pit! Other bits here included 2 Reed Wblrs, up to 7 Sedge Wblrs, 2 Groppers & 4 Oystercatchers.

The first four day bank holiday weekend began pretty quietly with a visit to KMR on the 22nd. It was once again a sombre affair with the highlight being a single LRP in the SW corner. Later that morning, myself & Feely did some snooping around the meadows adjacent to my house in Tibshelf and discovered two singing Groppers & 2 Lesser Whitethroats.

The morning of the 23rd was spent melting at Padley Gorge where we kinda bagged the lot - Curlew, 5+ Redstarts, numerous Tree Pipits, a male Merlin, 3 Pied Flycatchers, 4+ Stonechats, a very showy male Ring Ouzel & a singing Whinchat.







The afternoon was spent monging out in the garden where the highlights were a Yellow Wag over and Mikipedia getting his ears lowered....



On the 24th, I awoke to the sweet sound of a male Cuckoo singing from the paddocks behind my house. Sadly, that was as good as it got as I chose to stay within the confines of Castle DUNNington and indulge in a spot of gardening/housework for the day. That afternoon at c4.45pm, news of a Black Stork seen flying SE over Beeley Moor would have had me screaming off NW in order to intercept the beast....had the news not been two f*ckin' hours late! The usual excuses about the gimp not being a twitcher and not having any contact numbers have been thrown about on that Bird Forum thing but as you can imagine, I believe that excuse as much as I believe in the fairytale about that bloke called Jesus (thought I'd use that example with it being Easter 'n' all).

The 25th saw me at Attenborough NR early morning, strategically positioned should the Stork be relocated in south Notts/north Leics. This proved to be ineffective as the creature had allegedly not even left D*rbyshire - I was gonna write a bit more on this but really couldn't be arsed to humour the cunts who held it back for 7 fuckin hours!. However, Attenborough did prove to be pretty productive with a fair few bits - a stunning drake Garganey snaffled around the margins of a reed fringed pool while a Common Sand & its Greener Cousin grubbed about nearby. A couple of Garden Warblers vocally scrapped with the far more numerous Blackcaps who in turn were outsang by the copious volume of Whitethroats. A few Groppers reeled from dock and fence post and a Cetti's Warbler showed its tits off as it sang from the outer fringes of a Hawthorn clump. Common Terns were noted on every pit, scrabbling amongst each other for the prime spots on the 'Tern' platforms and a White-fronted Goose was noseying about in amongst some scruffy geese over the Trent. With the hands of time slipping by and the temperature rising, the volume of Joe public insidiously increased thus I quickly vacated leaving the dog walkers, joggers and picnic people to enjoy their freedom away from their city constraints. I headed to Long Eaton Gps where I picked up a Hobby foolishly heading towards Attenborough but very little else. With the overspill from Attenborough encroaching on my space, I did one back home.
Sat at home later that afternoon, I updated my very poor 2011 year-list on Bubo and realised that I was only c25 birds away from being back in the top ten, with an awful lot of easy dross still to collect.....
Could I? Would I? Should I? Perhaps not but..........





The 50K Giveaway!!

It rhymes, therefore it MUST be awesome.

I am super excited for my upcoming 50K. It is my FIRST ultra AND also my first trail run. I'll be running the Greenland Trail 50K... and YAY that L is joining me for it. It's my greatest challenge to date!

With that said. Anyone who follows my blog knows that I am a creature of habit. When I find something that works, I stick with it. That especially goes for...

GEAR I CAN'T RACE WITHOUT

I have a pretty standard race outfit:


From top to bottom:
  • Headband - Coordinated with my outfit... duh!
  • Sunglasses and/or Visor
  • Tank top.... 99.9% of the time (except Kansas), I wear a tank. I get way too hot and sweat too much to wear anything else when I race.
  • Garmin watch - I'm obsessed with mine.
  • Road ID - You can never be too careful
  • Running Skirt - They are comfortable, cute, and practical (Really! They have pockets!)
  • Compression socks - Besides looking awesome, I firmly believe they help to keep my legs fresh
  • Newton Running Shoes - I love these!!
With that said...

I have contacted some of my FAVORITE brands/manufacturers, and I am PSYCHED to announce my latest giveaway:

GEAR I CAN'T RACE WITHOUT

1. Underneath It All

If you have been following my blog for any amount of time, you know that I have been suffering on and off from random foot/ankle pain. Not quite bad enough for me to see a doctor, but annoying. A few races it has affected performance as the throbbing has been quite intense. The regimen for the longest time was just to ice and take it easy. Then I found a sample of a product in a swag bag from a race. KT Tape, which boasts "Perfect for common sports injuries" and "Pain relief and support for Muscles and Joints." Well, that is exactly what I was looking for so I tested it out. NO KIDDING that this tape is the best, hands down. Easy to use and comes in more than a dozen fun colors, this tape has done WONDERS for my ankle pain. How big of a fan am I?


Pink, Light Blue & Silver!
I contacted KT Tape and they are donating a roll, in a color of your choice. Visit their website to check out all the colors, find out more product information and view application videos.

2. Holding Back

Nothing is more annoying to me than little pieces of hair in my face when I am working out. I'm happy I discovered awesome headbands to hold it all in place. Who knew they came in SO many colors and designs? By far, my favorite brand of bands is Razzy Roo. If you are looking for unique designs, and prompt and personal customer service, this is the headband for you!! I first tested out a Razzy Roo headband for the Thunder Road half marathon I ran last December. Look how awesome the band is:


I was a bit worried about washing them, but I have washed ALL of them, including the glitter bands. Put them in a regular cycle in the washing machine and then air dry! I adore these bands! I have since acquired quite the collection of them. Honestly, you can get one for just about every situation you can imagine:


I contacted Razzy Roo, and the winner of the giveaway may chose any headband of their choice (and there are a lot of them!) Visit their website to check out all the options!

3. Run Like a Girl

I started wearing running skirts shortly after I saw a girl wearing one at a race two years ago. It never occurred to me to shop the internet looking for different brands, so I settled for the one I found at my local sporting goods store. It was the only one I had for ages. Then when I started this journey to run 50 half marathons in 50 states, I encountered an entirely different group of runners and bloggers. These ladies ran in STYLE! And so the obsession began... literally.

I am a colorful person, so when I came across Running Skirts, I fell in love. All the choices in colors and patterns? The first skirt I bought from them was from their "Princess" line. I was on a mission to find a yellowish/gold skirt that would match my new Half Fanatics top. Immediately I was hooked. I started racing in these awesome skirts and coordinating awesome outfits:

Boston Half Marathon (October 2010)
Athens Classic Marathon (October 2010)
Mississippi Blues Half Marathon (January 2011)
NYC Half Marathon (March 2011)
My collection has gotten... rather large:


I contacted the lovely ladies at Running Skirts, and they are offering a free ultra swift skirt since this is all about my first ultra! They come in a lot of fun colors, and have an extra third pocket in the back. I ran wearing the black ultra skirt (linked above) when I ran the Martian half marathon in Detroit last month. That third pocket was great for holding the keys to my rental car! I love the "freedom" of running in a skirt. I find the pockets very useful for my iPod, GU, and extra piece of gum. Best part is... NO CHAFING!!

So, if you have always been wanting to try a skirt, now is the time!! Visit the Running Skirts website and pick your favorite color available in the ultra swift skirts!

4. Being Safe

One of the most important items that I run with when I am not at the gym is my Road ID. Be safe when you run. Wear a Road ID that has all your emergency contact information, you never know what could to happen. I have had mine for about a year, and honestly, I don't even notice it when I wear it (well, except for my awesome tan line). Road ID has agreed to contribute a Wrist ID Sport to the winner, color of their choice. I personally like the yellow:


Visit their website and check out the colors that are available. (PS, if you don't win this contest and don't currently have one, they are a great investment. I have had a link to them on my sidebar for about a year now).

Other prizes TBD but I wanted to get the ball rolling on this one!

Entries accepted until 4:00 MST, May 5. Winner will be announced shortly after.

ENTRIES (you MUST enter these all as separate comments or you will only be given one entry). Check out the requirements. I am giving all of you LOTS of chances to win.

**Guys, I apologize for the girly giveaway! Don't be discouraged! You should still enter and you could be the best husband/boyfriend/friend for your favorite lady!**

1. Become a follower of my blog, or let me know if you already are. REQUIRED
2. Follow KT Tape on Facebook
3. Follow Razzy Roo on Facebook
4. Follow Running Skirts on Facebook
5. Visit KT Tape's website and pick YOUR favorite color of tape
6. Visit Razzy Roo's website and pick YOUR favorite band
7. Visit Running Skirts's website and pick your favorite color of ultra swift skirt
8. I love a good race. Post the official website for YOUR favorite race.
9. I love an underdog! I want to hear (briefly) about your greatest challenge with running.
10. What are the three items YOU can't race without?
11. Link this giveaway on a sidebar of your blog OR as a blog entry.
12. Follow Road ID on Facebook
13. Visit Road ID website and tell me YOUR favorite color of the Wrist ID sport