‘Tis [Almost] The Season!

At this time of year, people often complain that we begin with Christmas festivities too early, and skip right over Thanksgiving. I am one of those who begins preparations in November, and that includes getting my Christmas decorations up. This is the third year that I’ve decorated opening weekend of deer season. Gary’s busy hunting, and I have the house to myself, so why not? I discussed this with a friend who says we are at opposite ends of the holiday spectrum. He’s just not into Christmas. As I decorated yesterday, I thought about why I enjoy getting into the holiday spirit, and why I start so darned early.

notchristmasyet1

First of all, the holidays are a lot of work, particularly for women. We decorate, bake, shop, wrap, plan, clean, address, and on and on. And this is on top of our regular schedule of work, kids, laundry, errands, and various sporting events and meetings. There have been years that I have dreaded Christmas because there is just so much to do. My husband helps, but ultimately, most of the work falls on me. Getting started early takes away some of that stress. The more I can check off my list in November, the more I can enjoy December. I spend hours decorating, and since I have the bulk of that done, it’s one less thing to worry about. I also have eight different types of cookies baked and in the freezer, and will bake several more over the coming weeks. Since I started baking early, I have time to try out new recipes and enjoy the process. There is nothing better than spending a Sunday afternoon listening to Christmas music and baking cookies. I have some gifts bought, which is actually necessary because we will have Christmas with our daughter Morgan and her family early in December, and many of our gifts need to be shipped.

christmas

But more than the practicality of getting ready early, I just love my decorations. Addison told her friend that I clear off every shelf and table and replace everything with Christmas. I’ve put up two trees, and we will put up our real tree Thanksgiving weekend. We are going to add a fourth next year (Hubby’s idea). My girls love our house during the holidays, and I love that they enjoy it. My holiday decor is meaningful, and as I take each item out, it brings back memories. I have decorations that were gifts from customers I had when I did hair, from friends, from my sister, and from my kids. I have Possible Dreams Santas I’ve collected over the years. I have two gorgeous nativity sets. One of our trees has all antique and old-fashioned ornaments, some of which were from Gary’s family. The tree that’s upstairs has all glass ornaments that Gary and I have been buying since we got married. Our traditional tree will have ornaments the kids have made, and our family favorites. Some of my most treasured decorations are Santas made by Ethel Mae Kleeman. For years Ethel Mae spent her time turning any piece of wood available into an old-fashioned Santa; they are beautiful. Because she no longer makes them to sell, I wish I had bought more when I had the chance. I have ornaments that were made by a local lady, and those are also irreplaceable.

So, while some might think it’s too early to get out the Santas or lights, I want to enjoy them as long as I can; I want to have time to cherish the memories. Since Christmas music really is my favorite kind of music, why would I only listen to it one month out of the year? We’ve been singing Christmas songs for a few weeks, and it makes us happy. Our love of Christmas in no way takes away from Thanksgiving. We have our own Thanksgiving traditions, such as going for an early morning run, watching the Macy’s parade, and eating too much. We are thankful for so much, the most important of which is the birth of Jesus, so why not have our nativity sets up on Thanksgiving? It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Fitness (that is what this blog is supposed to be about)…The 40 Days of Fitness Holiday Challenge begins this coming Sunday. It’s a good thing since I have skipped exercise the past four days! I haven’t skipped that many days in a row in months and months! And since I have been baking, skipping workouts is not advisable. The challenge will run Sunday through January 1. Anyone can join no matter where you live since it is run through our Facebook page. If you are interested, search 40 Days of Fitness on FB. Ask to join our page, and sign up. We can hold each other accountable for burning up those holiday calories.

Peace, Love, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Another Half Marathon in the Books!

I thought we were smart to run a half marathon the first weekend of November. We would be able to do our long training runs during October, so it would be a little cooler. November 1 would likely be cool, but quite comfortable for a run. I imagined a bright crisp day, just perfect for runners, but maybe a bit cool for the spectators. Ahhhh…perfect running weather!

Then we arrived in Indianapolis for the Monumental Half Marathon. And it was freezing. I had kept a close eye on weather.com, but had hoped the meteorologists were mistaken. A 30 degree high? A windchill of 18? No way. Friday evening we did everything we could to avoid going outside. Thank goodness for the skywalks from the hotel to the expo and mall. We did have to venture out into the bitter cold to go to dinner. It was snowing! On Halloween night, it was snowing. The night before our race, it was snowing. It was only flurries that melted when they hit the ground, but I did not want to see any sort of white flakes. My niece from Chicago met us in Indy, and had failed to check the weather. She was not prepared for a cold run; we took care of that at the expo.

As we were getting ready for the race Saturday morning, my husband had the local news on, and indeed, the windchill was 18 ┬ádegrees! It was time to layer up…three layers of shirts, leggings, earband, gloves, shorts over leggings. I was so grateful that our hotel was just around the corner from the starting line. When we arrived in the lobby that morning, we were greeted by a lobby full of runners who were waiting until the last possible moment to head to the starting line. We joined them in waiting. My sister was with us and had planned to watch the race. I knew the cold temps would be much harder on her than on us. Once we began to run, we would warm up. She was going to freeze.

preindy

It was finally time for the race to begin. As I previously posted, this was to be Erin’s first half marathon. Erin had not trained for her first half marathon. I promised her that we would walk if necessary, and I was prepared to just enjoy the race without worrying about my time. I was also running this race for a charity, which I had never done. Two weeks before the race, I decided I would raise money for St. Jude Children’s Hospital. In those two weeks, my friends and family donated $1775; that is better than any PR.

I kissed my husband as he headed to his starting point, and Erin and I found our place. Usually I am so nervous before a race that my stomach is upset and my mind is racing. I wasn’t nervous at all for this race. I was there with 10,000 other runners, ready to run my sixth half marathon.

The starting line on the Monumental Marathon and Half Marathon

The starting line on the Monumental Marathon and Half Marathon

The gun went off, and we were off – well, it actually took Erin and I five minutes to get to the starting mat. The first five miles went by pretty quickly. After about two miles, I began to warm up. As we ran around Monumental Circle, a large crowd lined the street. There is no better feeling than running through a cheering crowd. It really energizes me. The best sign of the day said Could you hurry up! We’re freezing! At mile six, the sun came out. Erin and I had both bought new running sunglasses at the expo, so we were happy to see the bright sun. When we were just about to the split where the half marathoners turned back toward downtown and the marathoners took off in the other direction, I heard someone call my name. My friends Heidi and Derrick were running their first marathon, and were coming up to pass us. I was so glad to get to see them; I was there for their first half marathon, and was so proud they were now running a full.

I mentioned that Erin had not trained for this race. She made me promise to walk. At about mile eight, she said that at mile ten we were going to speed up and finish strong. What?! I let her know I was not speeding up; I just wanted to maintain and finish. She was welcome to take off, and it wouldn’t offend me in the least. I didn’t feel bad, but my legs were getting tired. She stayed with me until the last mile, and ended up finishing about two minutes before me. I know that she could have finished much faster if she hadn’t stuck with me for twelve miles. Erin ran a 10k at the end of September, and hadn’t run more than four miles since then. And she ran an entire half marathon. Without walking. Even though I wanted to not like her, I was beyond proud. I had tried to convince her to run a half marathon for a couple of years, and she didn’t think she could. She did…without training.

Race Bling!

Race Bling!

While I’d like to say we basked in the glory at the post-race festivities, we didn’t. We grabbed our medals, hats, and some chocolate milk, and because we were freezing the second we stopped running, we went right back to the hotel for hot showers. It was so cold, in fact, I didn’t even wait to watch Gary finish. I quickly showered and went to the lobby to wait for him to get back.

I must say, I felt better after this race than I usually do after running 13.1. I was tired and hungry (can’t-stop-eating hungry), but overall, I felt great. Today, the day after, the only issue I have is my right calf muscle hurts. And I still couldn’t stop eating. Last night I was already planning more races, and actually convinced my step-daughter to run a half with me in September 2015. And I would bet that Erin will be joining me for another race. Once a runner earns a medal, and experiences the thrill of crossing a finish line, she’s usually hooked. And if Erin could run as well as she did without training, imagine what she could do if she trained!

Run on, Friends!