Sunday, May 31, 2015

BB10k 2015

The BolderBoulder was made all the better this year with the addition of Josh to the family run! He did so great.  His favorite part was the finish line and getting sprayed by hoses throughout the course.  Rusty and Josh ran together and Halle and I ran together.  Halle was doing amazing throughout the first half of the race, but in the second half her tummy was giving her some trouble.  We still finished strong, but the poor girl threw up later in the day.  I think she had some sort of stomach bug because she had been feeling icky on and off for days.  I think it’s pretty amazing that she chose to keep going and not quit.  I was so proud of both the kids!

Blake didn’t want to be left totally out of the fun, so he helped Rusty design his “Help Wanted” sign that he wears every year.

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Friday, May 29, 2015

Blake’s 6th Birthday

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Dear Blake,

This is the second birthday letter I am typing today because you deleted the first one while you were playing computer games :)

Happy 6th birthday to my fun, energetic, creative, imaginative boy.  I love you so very much.  You are the best snuggler, and if I am out for a run when you wake up in the morning you make sure that we have “make up snuggles” later in the day.  I love how you wrap your little arms around me and sink you head into my shoulder.  Lately you’ve been saying that you are scared at night, but secretly I think you just want to come snuggle in Mom and Dad’s bed.  You just finished an awesome year at kindergarten.  You had such a fun class and made great little friends.  Some of your best friends are Truman, Bennett, Walker, and Max.  This year Truman was like your brother.  You two spent so much time together and had so many adventures.  You are very sad to see him move to Portland this summer. 

Some of your favorite things to do are: play Animal Jam and Club Penguin on the computer, play Spot It (you say you are the pro at it), riding on your newly learned two wheeler, and swimming at the pool.  You are very proud that this year you can touch in the “deep end.”

You always fill our home with love and laughter.  You are constantly making up funny stories to tell us and you always do it with a twinkle in your eye.  It’s very had to motivate you to get your jobs done and this summer we are working a lot on getting things done, even when you’d rather be playing. 

For your birthday this year you finally got your coveted IPod.  Last year on your birthday you said, “Only one more year till I get my IPod!”  You had a rock climbing party with your friends at the community center and then we ate Ice Cream Cake at the park. 

Blake, you have so many gifts and talents.  I am so excited to see what big adventures life brings to you this year.  Keep smiling, keep dreaming—it will take you far. 

Love, Mom

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6th birthday Collage

Sunday, May 24, 2015

End of School fun

It has been a cold, rainy month of May.  So, Blake’s end of year picnic included coats :)  We have just loved his Kindergarten year and all the friends he has made. 

2015-05-20 12.31.57 HDR 2015-05-20 12.52.02 2015-05-21 09.15.02 Mrs. Brown has been the perfect 2nd grade teacher for Josh.  He has grown so much as a student.  She pushes them to do their best and is kind and sweet at the same time.  I had the opportunity to teach Junior Achievement in his class this year and loved getting to know all of his little classmates.  3rd grade here we come!
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5th Grade Graduation

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Little Miss Halle graduated from 5th grade!  What a surreal moment for her parents.  We are in awe of this kind, sweet, smart, vastly talented little lady.  It was such a fun day!  Black Rock has a tradition where K-4th grade line the halls of the school.  The 5th grade takes one final lap around the halls before heading into the auditorium for graduation.  All the kids clap and cheer and give high fives.  I was standing by Blake’s kindergarten class with tears in my eyes.  I remember so vividly the day Halle went to kindergarten, and now the 5th graders looked like giants in comparison.  This has been such a fun and special year for our family with all three kiddos at the same school.  I will miss seeing the three of them walk into the school together. 

Halle won many awards at the ceremony but I’m most proud of her Presidential Award for Academic Excellence.  She had to have a GPA of 90-100% and be nominated by her homeroom teacher as well as one other staff member for a character recommendation.  Only about 15 of 120 kids received this award.  Way to go Halle! 

5th grade graduation Collage

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This girl has been a busy little bee this year.  She sang in the choir. Ran in 100 mile club. She was an anchor on the morning announcements in Broadcast club.  She helped serve lunch in the cafeteria. She earned her Black Belt in music class for Recorder Karate. She was in MESA (Math Engineering and Science Achievement) where her all girl group won the bridge building contest using all their structural engineering skills :) Here are the remaining pieces after they tested it for how much weight it could hold:


5th grade also got to participate in Track and Field Day against other 5th grade schools in the area.  Then, they got to be in charge of Field Day for all the little ones at Black Rock.  They loved being in charge!

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Here is Halle on her first day of Kindergarten and her last day of elementary school.  We are so excited to begin new adventures in Middle School!

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Another year, another Balloon launch

It’s my favorite weekend in Erie!  We all got up early, and as part of out BB10k training, we ran up to the golf course to watch the balloons launch.  It was a little touch and go with the weather, but finally the balloons were up up and away!
Balloon launch

In other news:

It’s been raining.  A lot.  But this rainbow was amazing.

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Blake’s Kindergarten class hatched chicks.  They are the absolute stars of the classroom.  No one can leave them alone. :)

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We had our last Chic fli a breakfast before Halle and Kaden go off to Middle School.  Cry!  We’ve done this a bunch of times over the years and we are sad to see the tradition end. 

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I got to chaperone the 2nd grade field trip to the Wild Life Sanctuary.  We had a great time looking at the bears, tigers, lions, etc from the mile long catwalk. We especially loved reading about their rescues from abusive and/or illegal situations. 

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Slave labor.2015-05-16 10.01.18

Josh opened a bank account with the money he earned from reaching his 100 mile goal.  He is so excited to write his first check :)

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Mother’s Day 2015

As always, it was an excellent Mother’s Day!  And it snowed for the 2nd year in a row!  I love this day to reflect on my feelings about being a mother.  It certainly has its ups and downs, but I wouldn’t trade those tiny humans for anything in the world.  They are my joy and my life. 
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I told Rusty that all I wanted for Mother’s Day was a clean car.  He was trying to coax Blake and Josh to help him and Josh said, “Ummm…I already made Mom a card, and I don’t really think she needs TWO things from me.” 

Those Mother’s Day cards are so sweet.  I always like to keep them around for a few months and whenever I am feeling low and I just have to read their sweet words and my spirits are lifted. 

Blake loves me because I buy him Kinetic Sand :)
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My mom is a great cook.  My mom is a Boston runner.  My mom makes my bed.  My mom is Tara. My mom goes on runs. I love you mom. 

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From Halle.  Tasks included Emptying the dishwasher and making me my favorite treat. :)
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Rusty totally surprised me this year and invited my friends over for a BBQ.  I had absolutely no idea!  Josh let it slip just about an hour before the BBQ that there was going to be a special surprise for me, but no amount of coaxing could get it out of him.  Rusty knows how much I love to hang out with my friends, so that was the perfect gift for me!  I appreciated it so much.  Everyone brought yummy food and we spent a super fun evening together.  I am a lucky lady!!

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Kindergarten Star

2015-05-01 18.48.25I had the fun opportunity to plan the decor and theme for Blake’s Kindergarten Celebration.  It was so much fun to do!  I just love Kindergarten.  The kids are so sweet and so excited about everything.  They performed some very awesome songs, watched a slideshow detailing all the fun they had this year and then came to eat cookies and popcorn. 
PicMonkey CollageWe picked the Theme “Kindergarten Stars” and set up a couple of photo booths where the kids could walk the red carpet and then have their picture taken.  I think the kids had a blast dressing up and rocking out for their pictures. 

2015-05-01 19.19.11 2015-05-01 19.59.15 But my favorite part were the posters that we did of the kids telling us what they wanted to be when they grow up.  They turned out so cute and the parents loved them! We did a separate poster for each of the 4 kinder classes.

McGuirk Final Collage

It’s so hard to believe that my baby is graduating from Kindergarten.  I get misty eyed when I think of next year and how much I am going to miss my little buddy. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

100 Mile Club

I am so very proud of Halle, Josh and Blake for setting and achieving their 100 mile goal this year.  Black Rock got a grant to host 100 mile club every morning before school.  We chose to go 2 days/week.  We’d get up a little earlier than normal and be to school at 8am ready to run.  The kids would run laps and on Friday I would help stamp arms which is how mileage was calculated.  On bad weather days they’d walk the halls of the school.  But, if the weather was about 25 degrees they usually went outside.  I loved this because it was an opportunity for my kids to develop some grit and do hard things. 

Josh reached his 100 miles first and was so proud of himself.  Josh loves a challenge.  So some weeks I’d challenge him to run a certain number of laps without walking.  Other weeks I’d challenge him to beat his best overall distance.  And he always rose to the occasion.  His best running day was 18 laps, which is roughly 3.7 miles.  When the kids reach their 100 miles all their peers line up in a huge tunnel and chant, “Josh, Josh, Josh” as he comes running through.  Such a special moment. 

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Blake’s goal was 50 miles.  And he made it!  He was probably the grumpiest runner in the club and some days it took everything I had just to coax him to run 2 or 3 laps.  But for a few months he had a 3rd grade buddy named Owen.  Owen would encourage Blake, run with him, and just make him feel special that a bigger kid was taking notice of him.  He ran so much better when Owen was with him.  He ended with a record of 11 laps or roughly 2.2 miles.  Not bad for a Kindergartener!

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Halle reached her 100 mile goal while Grandma was visiting.  It was so much fun for her to have Grandma there to watch her and cheer for her.  This 100 miles did not come easy to her and I stand in awe of her good attitude and the way she continually tried to improve.  She ended with a personal best of 17 laps, or about 3.5 miles. 

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We just had a school wide celebration were the students who reached 100 or more miles received a gold metal and everyone who participated in 100 mile club got to stand up and receive a certificate.  I am amazed at what these kids accomplished this year.  Kindergarten ran over 1000 miles.  Second grade ran 4329 miles, and 5th grade ran 3936 miles.  The school ran a grand total of 21,304 miles.  What a huge accomplishment!

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Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Boston Marathon

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I don’t think I can really do justice to describing April 20th, 2015. I am simultaneously so inspired and grateful, and so very disappointed in the outcome.  In the days leading up to the marathon, the forecast just kept getting worse and worse.  As the day arrived, there was 100% chance of rain and wind gusts of 20-30 mph.  To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.  But I resolved to do my best anyway, hoping that running at sea level would give me some sort of advantage that might negate the awful weather. 
We arrived in Boston, dropped our stuff at Kristin’s and headed to the expo to pick up my bib and to buy the coveted Boston Marathon jacket :) 
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We opted to go to the Marathon sponsored Spaghetti dinner that evening.  We wanted to be around all the other runners and soak in the experience.  Dinner was fine, but I doubt we would do it again.  The lines were LONG. And the subway ride to get to City Hall will go down as the worst public transportation experience of my life.  We were glad to get out of that train car alive!
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We also walked to the finish line to take a couple of pics.  And I’m glad we did because after the race NO ONE was in the mood for picture taking.
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Amber and Jeremy and Rusty and I stayed at Kristin’s house the night before the race.  It was so great.  We woke up in the morning and I ate a couple of eggs for breakfast and then the boys drove us to Boston Common to board the busses. We met up with Dawn and hopped on a school bus.  The bus ride to Hopkinton took FOREVER.  We were all excited and eager to run before the rain hit.  I was worried in the back of my mind about my calf, which had been giving me a little trouble during my taper.  But I decided to put it out of my mind and hope it would be ok.  The marathon always hurts, so what’s one more twinging calf? 
Athlete’s Village is unlike anything I have ever experienced.  Thousands of runners swarmed everywhere. And on this wet, chilly morning all of us were trying to stay warm.  The sky was dark and the wind was freezing! Dawn, Amber and I found some old cardboard boxes to sit on and huddled under one of the tents until it was time for us to make our way to the starting line. 
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The walk to the start line is quite long and everyone is eager to make one more potty stop so the crowds move quickly.  We found the port a potties and then made our way toward our starting corral.  We heard “3 min until start” and started rushing.  We found our corral, stripped off our throw away clothes and the gun went off!  And the rain clouds burst!  It started pouring rain just as we crossed the start line.  The crowds of runners were really thick in the beginning and we had a hard time staying together and an even harder time staying on pace.  It was really hard to find a steady rhythm.  After a few miles we settled into our pace.  Amber was already a little ahead of Dawn and I.  But even in those very early miles I knew something wasn’t right in my legs.  Nothing felt good or easy. My legs felt heavy and dull.  No spring in my step at all.  But I kept going, thinking in a mile or two my body would settle in and run the pace I knew I could.  By mile 8 I knew I was not going to PR at Boston.  I let Dawn go, and dropped about 10 seconds/mile, hoping that would help.  Nope.  My legs were stiff and heavy and I could already feel my calf acting up.  I wasn’t going to quit and just resolved to do my best with the circumstances I’d been given that day.  Rusty, Jeremy and Dan had planned a route where they could see us 4 different times during the race.  It was so fun to hear their voices and catch site of them cheering us on.  They used a combo of Uber drivers and the T to get to all the different locations.
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At 13.1 I was just a few seconds off a 3:35 finish time and thought I could make up some of that time after the Newton hills. The Wellesley girls made those miles fly by with their crazy screaming and their hysterical (albeit dirty) signage.  Even in the pouring rain the crowds were thick and it was so fun to hear the cheers and to think of how many amazing athletes had run in these same streets. 
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But from this point out my miles kept getting slower and slower.  It was like I was in some sort of weird dream.  I’d look down at my watch and think…there is no way that can be right!  I haven’t run this slow EVER in my whole training cycle.”  My leg felt like I had a metal rod from the bottom of my glute down to my heel.  I knew my stride wasn’t right and eventually my calf started cramping.  But I just kept trucking along telling myself to keep going and not to quit. 
I saw Rusty again just before the Newton Hills.  He was super encouraging and I steeled my mind to make it though the next 5 miles, the hardest on the course.  The wind was blowing so hard. Every time I started to climb a hill I could feel it in my face.  And every time the course went downhill it felt like the wind was trying to push me back up the hill.  After two more miles I stopped real quick to see if I could stretch out my calf.  By this time my hamstring had joined in the fun and it felt like I had a tennis ball wedged in the back of my leg.  The stretching actually helped a bit and I felt better for a couple of miles.  I made it through the Newton Hills and started getting really excited.  The next couple miles were downhill and it FINALLY stopped raining.  The crowds got thicker and thicker as I got close to Boston, the giant Citgo sign taunting me in the distance.  Citgo at Fenway Park means one mile to go.

When I passed the sign I just started grinning.  I was going to finish this darn thing!  I ran and ran and ran and ran.  Why does that last mile take so long??  After what seemed like forever I crossed under Mass Ave.  Then it’s a right on Hereford and a left on Boylston.
297624_191914684_XLarge The crowds were enormous, the cheering so loud and fun, and I could see the finish line in the distance.  There were so many people I thought there was no way I’d see Rusty.  But all of the sudden out of the corner of my eye I saw his orange Tennessee hat jump up out of the crowd.  It put the biggest smile on my face as I sprinted to the finish.  Well, it felt like a sprint.  Really it was more of a slow gimpy jog :)
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I crossed the finish line and didn’t know what to feel. 3:54:06. I was so glad to have finished and to have to opportunity to run in Boston, but my time was abysmal.  This is what is so hard about the marathon.  I put in 4 solid months of training and then one bad day ruins it all.  And….it started to pour rain again.  I was shivering and shaking so hard I could hardly keep moving forward.  The Boston volunteers are some of the best I’ve ever encountered.  They opened the lid to my protein drink, peeled my banana, and helped me get wrapped up in my heat blanket.  It was much needed TLC and I was so grateful.  I then made my way to the Family meeting area and met back up with Amber and Dawn and the boys.  Poor Amber, her lips were completely blue.  We quickly walked to the hotel and I jumped into a hot bath.  No bath has ever felt so good in all my life. 
297624_192224602_XLarge Even though this day didn’t turn out quite how I had worked and dreamed it would, I am incredibly grateful for the experience and pretty proud to say, “I ran Boston the year of awful wind gusts and pouring rain.” Badge of honor EARNED.                    2015-04-20 15.05.56 HDR
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After I shed all my wet clothes Rusty went to clean them up for me.  He picked them all up and estimated that they weighed about 10lbs—so much water weight! 
There are my awesome feet after 26.2 with soaking wet shoes and socks. 2015-04-20 15.42.51
Boston, you got the best of me this year, but you can bet I’ll be back to try again someday!