Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Day I Accidentally Became a Runner

I have never been a runner.  In fact, I've never even liked it.  I have always dreaded it in fact.  Even in high school, when we had to run a mile and a half, I would just do it as fast as I could just to get it over with, but I despised that day in gym class. 

When I was pregnant with Elliot back in 2012, I got this sudden urge to run.  I'm sure it was just a craving to move my body without a baby kicking my lungs and bladder.  Regardless, it planted this little seed in my head.  It made me decide that I would run once I wasn't a beached whale anymore. 

Right after I gave birth, I signed up for my first 5k.  I had a few months to prepare for it and at that point, 5 kilometers seemed like a great obstacle.  I knew I'd have to work hard to go from post baby to runner within just a few months.  The good news is, I finished that race!  I ran my heart out and felt great at the finish line.  After that, I knew I would want to do another one.

A lot happened after that first race.  Ryan's education was extremely busy and I was home with two babies.  We were poor.  Like REALLY poor.  I had no way to work out unless Ryan was home since I couldn't afford a jogging stroller.  Let's just say my running goals got put on hold for a while.  Then one day, Ryan graduated.  For graduation, I bought myself an ever-so-coveted jogging stroller.  Sadly, when I purchased it, we had just moved to Arizona and the temperature outside was a raging inferno.  Running was put on hold for a while.

With time, that jogging stroller started getting some use out of it.  I loved taking Scarlet to school in the mornings in the stroller.  I enjoyed watching my kids be out in nature and enjoy what God has given us.  However, it never failed that within five minutes, the kids would start fighting with each other.  I began to wonder if it was worth it.  Thankfully, it was a quick 15-minute trip.  Tops.  Just short enough to keep my sanity and make me think I could do it again the next time.

I ended up finding friends in Arizona because they needed a running buddy, and since I wanted to pretend to be a runner, I decided to join them.  We became quick friends, best of friends actually.  We shared the enjoyment of finishing two races together.  Something happens when you do this.  It's like you create this unbreakable bond with each other.  I've never laughed so hard in my life as when I got to run those two 5k's with my new friends.  It was like we were made from the same mold.  I felt as though I had known these people for my entire existence, not just a couple of months. 

Because running gave me such great experiences, I decided to amp it up a little.  I put running a Ragnar race on my bucket list, just for kicks and giggles.  I didn't think I'd actually have the opportunity to run one.  Ragnar is a 205-mile race.  You have 12 people on your team and you each take a turn running legs of the race.  Each person runs three legs.  This seemed like an unreachable goal.  Then one day, it became reachable. 

I had the opportunity to sign up for a team and I took it.  I knew not one person on my team.  I signed up to be with a group of strangers for two days, running in the middle of nowhere.  I trained here and there, but nowhere near what I needed to.  I could only hope when it came to be my turn to run, that I wouldn't pass out or die from having a heart attack.  Or break my leg. 

Race day arrived.  I jumped in a van with a bunch of strangers who I literally was meeting for the first time as I opened the car door at 2:00 in the morning.  We navigated our way to the starting line and again, it was as if I had known these people forever.  For some reason, I put all my trust in them.  They were there to support me and me them.  As my teammates would come running into the exchange to switch runners, I would feel this overwhelming sense of pride.  I was so proud that my teammate ran their leg and completed it with epic awesomeness. 

It came my turn to run.  I was nervous.  My first leg was 6.5 miles.  I had never, not ever in my life, run that far in one setting.  I started running and immediately was overcome with this great emotion.  I was beyond grateful that I had a team that believed in me (they didn't know I hadn't ever run that far before).  I looked around me and surrounding me was this great, vast desert that God had created.  It was beautiful, in a desert-y ugly kind of way.  But really, it was beautiful.  There were saguaro cactus popping up all over the place and I couldn't help but wonder what they had experienced in their existence.  I suddenly felt like it was such a privilege to be in God's world looking at these amazing creations.  Tears filled my eyes as I took in the beauty around me. 

Before I knew it, I had gone 3.5 miles without stopping.  Just three miles to go.  I sucked down some GU (nasty stuff, but magic).  It was just the kick I needed to finish my 6.5 miles.  At my exchange, I saw my teammates standing there cheering for me.  I felt weightless as I ran into their cheers.  It felt so good to accomplish this distance.  Again, tears filled my eyes.  I was proud of myself for finishing.  The fact that I didn't die or pass out only helped that sense of pride.  I was healthy enough to run that distance and feel amazing at the end of it. 

My second run was a tough one.  It started around 11:45 at night.  It was dark, obviously.  It was also my longest run, 6.8 miles.  I strapped on my safety gear, and off I went.  I started out great.  The first couple of miles were okay.  They were uphill, but okay.  Then the next few miles were uphill.  My muscles were on fire.  I felt like giving up, but knew I couldn't.  I wasn't a wuss.  I wasn't going to quit.  It's not who I am.  I just kept going.  Just when I thought it couldn't get anymore uphill, it did.  I looked ahead of me.  There in front of me was a hill.  No, a mountain.  Straight.  Up.  My legs were burning, my lungs were burning and my mind was doubting my ability to get over that mound of dirt in front of me. 

It was at this point that I felt something, somebody next to me.  I don't know if it was delirium or a sweet tender mercy from God.  I looked to my side, but nobody was there.  I was alone.  But I wasn't.  I could feel the sweet, tender spirit of my little Kingston running by my side.  I forgot about the pain in my legs and my fear of being alone and running in the dark.  I knew I had a guardian angel following me, pushing me into the finish line.  At one point I even reached my hand out in hopes that he would grab it.  Though I did not feel his hand in mine, I knew it was there.  My prayers of gratitude were endless as I trudged through those 6.8 miles of what felt like straight up a hill and over rocky paths.  I was thankful for my able body.  I was thankful that it kept moving.  I was beyond grateful for the tender mercy of feeling my son running by my side with me, protecting me, pushing me. 

My last leg was my shortest.  It was 4.2 miles.  I was sleep deprived and in pain.  What seemed like an easy run on paper, turned out to be exhausting and frustrating.  The first two miles were done somewhat with ease.  I once again thanked my heavenly father for giving me my body.  I was so grateful for the experience that I was having, even if I was in pain.  My pace slowed down as I saw more hills ahead of me.  All of a sudden, I heard "you've got this, Ashes."  I knew that that didn't come from my mind, but was somebody speaking to me.  I felt as though my aunt Linda was by my side, encouraging me to finish, to just keep going.  She was with me on this one and cheering for me.  I couldn't let her down.  I kept putting one foot in front of the other.  When I got really tired, I decided to pick up my phone and FaceTime my kids.  Their faces lit up as they saw me running my heart out.  Scarlet's questions were endless, as they always are.  Seeing them, and Ryan, was just what I needed to get in that last mile. 

Before I knew it, I was there at the end of my run, crossing my finish line.  I had done it.  I had gone 17.5 miles in 24 hours.  I didn't quit.  I didn't die or pass out.  I FINISHED!  I wanted to cry.  I know marathon runners are laughing right now, but honestly, this was a big deal for me.  My body ached from head to toe, but I didn't care.  The hurt was my trophy for finishing my goal. 

Over the next couple of days, my body healed and my mind has kind of forgotten the frustrations of going uphill for miles on end.  However, my mind hasn't forgotten the camaraderie and feeling of accomplishment of those days spent with my new friends.  We laughed, we mocked, me cheered each other on. 

Crossing the finish line with my team at the very end was very emotional for me.  We did it.  Every single one of us finished.   I crossed that line with tears in my eyes.  I was proud of my team.  I was proud of myself.  Together we did it... 

And that was the day I accidentally became a runner. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Dear Scarlet -- 4 Years

Dear Scarlet,

Another year has come and gone, and my baby girl has turned four years old.  Time is going by WAY too fast.  You have the funnest personality.  You're so sweet, but you also have a lot of sass.  You adore Elliot and most of the time you teach him how to be a good person.  You have been going to preschool for about a year and you love it.  Miss Jeneen is your teacher.  She's been great for you!  Well, we are a little late getting this done.  Oops.  Here we go.

Nicknames:  Sweetie-Sweetie, Twinkle Toes, Scarlie Soo.... The list goes on and on.
How old are you?  Uhm, 5? Is that my number?  I can't call it. I can't call my name which number is it.  It's really..... (She knows how old she is.  Not sure why I got this answer.)
What is your favorite color?  Blue and red and black and yellow.
What is your favorite animal?  Giraffes.  I like giraffes.
What is your favorite book?  Cinderella
What is your favorite TV show?  Spider-Man
What is your favorite movie?  I like Tinkerbell!  I like Spider-Man already.
What is your favorite song?  I Love to See the Temple
What is your favorite food?  My fabrite food is chicken.... and noodles!
What is your favorite drink?  Lemonade
What is your favorite breakfast food?  I like cereal.  I have it for lunch.  Yeah I did.
What is your favorite snack?  Fruit snacks
What is your favorite game?  In the toy room, I like to play with Elliot's trucks
What is your favorite toy?  I like a play with the trucks.
Who is your best friend?  Not Navy. I like....This is a tricky one. Chloe.  She's my best friend.
What do you like to sleep with at night?  My teddy bears.
What do you want to be when you grow up?  My daddy's going to be a doctor like me.
Where do you live?  At California... in this house.  See?  We got the new house.  (Wow!  She still doesn't know we live in Arizona, but yet I know she does.  Silly girl).

Whew.  We got through it. 

Scarlet,  you're like my best friend.  Most of the time you are such a help to me.  You've started helping me around the house with jobs and it fills my heart with joy watching you be so proud when you complete a task.  You're growing up to be quite a little lady.  You definitely adore your dad and want to be just like him.  I hope you always have lofty dreams and know that your dad and I are always here to support you and help you achieve them. 

Love you always,


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dear Scarlet -- 3 Years

Dear Scarlet,

How did you manage to grow up so fast?  Three years old already?  I thought it would be fun to do a little interview with you this year, so here we go.

Nicknames:  Rabies (I know, it's an unfortunate name your dad gave you as a baby and it stuck), Pooperton, Scarlie, Sweetness
How old are you?  5! (Well, you're three.  We need to work on this one apparently.)
What is your favorite color?  Blue.  Suck, suck, suckers! (Obviously you're a fan of suckers)
What is your favorite animal?  A shark.
What is your favorite book?  My sharks. (I think it's really Cat in the Hat)
What is your favorite TV show?  Uh, uh, TVs.  Umizoomi!
What is your favorite movie?  Monsters, Inc.
What is your favorite song?  Umizoomi!  (Well, since you didn't give me an honest answer, your favorite song is Penumbra by Book on Tapeworm, also known by you as Shadow)
What is your favorite food?  Dinner and cupcakes.
What is your favorite drink?  Water (I wish!  Your favorite drink is anything sweet.  Lemonade, chocolate milk, Coke, Sprite, etc.)
What is your favorite breakfast food?  Uh, cakes. (As in pancakes.  You will eat more than me when I make them).
What is your favorite snack?  Cupcakes
What is your favorite game?  Monsters (we have no such game)
What is your favorite toy?  Hey mommy, tickle tickle.
Who is your best friend?  Uh, friends. (apparently all your friends are your best friends)
What do you like to sleep with at night?  I like a latapitter.  Translation:  Caterpillar.  (I hate no idea what you're talking about.  You always have to have blankie and then some sort of toy when you sleep.)
What do you want to be when you grow up?  Uh, dress up!
Where do you live?  At California.  (We just moved to Arizona.  You were so excited, but I guess that wore off).

It was like torture getting you to answer these questions.  The answers to most things were about sharks or cupcakes.  Or Monsters.  I think you're slightly side tracked.  It was still fun though.  I'm excited to see what you will say next year.

Like I mentioned above, we just moved from California to Arizona.  The move wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  You have adjusted very well so far.  You take a ballet and tap class once a week.  You love it and usually tell me it was "super fun."  It's adorable to watch you as you learn new things.  You have such a talent for learning.

You are now my big girl.  I love you more than you will ever know.  Thanks for being mine.

Love you forever,


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dear Elliot -- 14 Months

Dear Elliot,

Okay, so I'll admit, I'm horrible at keeping up with my letters to you.  Sorry, son.  Here's a recap of what has happened over the last 3 months.  

Obviously on May 22, 2013, you turned one.  It was a joyous day.  We celebrated by having Grandma Carolyn come to California for a week.  We had your birthday party on May 24, 2013.  You had so many friends there!  It was a rock star party, because well, you're our little rock star!  You love daddy's drum sticks.  They are most definitely your favorite toy.  

We made a trip to Utah for two weeks.  Yes, another trip to Utah.  Get used to it.  You seemed to love it.  We played with cousins, grandmas, aunts, uncles, and papa.  

As of today, you are only walking when you decide you want to.  I know you know how, and you can totally do it, you just have no desire to.  You'd rather crawl.  I'm good with whatever makes you happy. 

You don't say much.  A few uh-oh's here and there and occasionally a mama or dada.  I think Scarlet does most of the talking for you, especially since she never seems to stop talking.  

We still adore you.  You are the snuggliest baby I've ever seen.  Your daddy loves it.  So do I.  You are so fun and I'm so grateful that I get to watch  you grow each and every day.  You'll never cease to amaze me.



P.S.  I have a confession to make.  I really miss our midnight rendezvous.  I miss holding you while you would sleep/eat.  I was the only one who could soothe you back to sleep.  Don't get me wrong, I'm glad you're sleeping through the night, it's just those little things that I miss.  Maybe every once in a while you could fall asleep while snuggling?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Dear Elliot -- 11 Months

Dear Elliot,

I just cannot even believe that you are already 11 months old.  Time is flying!  This last month of your life has been extremely eventful.  On your 10-month birthday, we flew to Utah and stayed for three weeks.  Your dad and I expected you to change a lot while we were in Utah, but we had no idea just how much it would actually be.  

Within the first three or four days in Utah, you had two teeth break through!  They were your very first teeth.  I wish I had a picture of what they looked like.  One is a side tooth, and the other is a middle tooth with a space in between.  You like kind of funny, but oh so cute!  

You also started pulling yourself up to a standing position.  I knew it wouldn't be long until you were finally crawling and walking.  By the end of our trip, you were crawling all over the place.  

This last month has definitely brought a lot of change in your life and by the way you are acting, it seems there will be a lot more change in the near future.  I can't believe how fast you are growing up.  You are even sleeping like a big boy too.  You no longer want to be swaddled (finally).  You always loved having the blankets tight around you, but now you just want to be able to roll around and sleep on your tummy.  

One more month and we get to celebrate your first year of life!  We are going to have a grand party for you. Elliot, I sure do adore you.  You make me so happy!



Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Do you love to try samples of new products?  I love it.  Ryan thinks I'm kind of strange, but whatever.  It takes me back to being a kid and running to get the mail only to see a sample of some sort of body wash or shampoo.  It would inevitably make my week.

Well, if you have always liked it, you should try out Smiley 360.  It's a site that sends you on "missions."  They send you samples of different products with coupons and other sharing tools.  You then try it out and share your experience to earn points.

Click HERE to try it out for yourself!  I'll also be posting about the products I've been able to try.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Utah Adventures

I received a call late one Wednesday night from my father.  He informed me that my grandfather had taken his last breath and passed on to the next life.  I was alone seeing as how my husband had spent the night in Los Angeles (the only night that week he stayed there).  I was in slight disbelief that grandpa was gone and nobody was there to cry with.  We had known it was coming, but yet I kind of thought he would just keep holding on and never leave.  I wish that was how it could be. 

Thursday was riddled with phone calls and texts to and from family members.  My brother so graciously booked a flight for me and the kids for Friday, March 22.  It was fast and crazy.  The thought of having to fly with two kids two and under scared me.  However, my little troopers did amazing on the flight.  It was like they knew I needed them to behave and help me out. 

Grandpa had been a fireman for quite a few years of his life.  I remember going to the fire station when I was a kid and getting scratch and sniff stickers (orange scent) and thinking he was such a cool guy.  He was.  The fire department literally stood by his side until the very end. 
It was so touching to see the firefighters dressed in their blues, stoic, and holding their axes.  A final farewell.  They led the casket into the funeral services too.  It was amazing.  Breathtaking really.  A fire truck led the way to the cemetery.  It had black drapes on it and carried the great grand kids.  It was such a special thing for those little ones. 

While following the hearse, we came around a corner in Provo to such an amazing site. Two fire trucks with their ladders extended and all the firemen standing next to them saluting as we all passed by. 

Little Elliot decided to try out being a firefighter for a minute. 

Did I mention I was a pallbearer?  I was.  That's right.  I, in all my wimpy glory, carried a casket.  Granted I did have 8 other people helping me.  I felt so blessed to have had such an opportunity. 

The day after the funeral, Scarlet decided she needed to get sick.  I mean, knock down, drag out sick.  I couldn't get her to eat or drink.  And then the diarrhea.  It was AWFUL.  She has never, ever in her entire life been that sick.  I felt so bad for her!  However, I did love the snuggles.  I never get to snuggle her, so it was a nice change.  Too bad she was sick. 

 As Sunday morning rolled around and she was still not eating, drinking or going potty, I decided it was time to take her to the emergency room.  The nurses and doctors at UVRMC were nothing short of amazing.  They were so good with Scarlet.  They brought toys, socks, drinks, suckers, rice krispie treats, yogurt, cereal, fruit snacks, and I'm sure other stuff that I left out. 

She ended up with an IV in her tiny little hand and got some hydration.  The doctor just about admitted her.  I was praying he didn't because it was Easter and I just wanted her to be with her cousins and have fun, even if she could only do it in short spurts.  Thankfully the doctor let us leave.  We just had to keep her IV in just in case she needed more hydration.  Poor little thing. 

After a week of sickness, things got better.  For the last week in Utah, we tried to party it up.  We went to story time at the Provo library (best story time), ate at Waffle Love (a.k.a. the waffle truck, delicious), and went to dinner with friends and family.  I only wish we could have extended the healthy week a little longer.  It went by way too fast. 

The flight home was decent.  The kids did okay.  Elliot started crawling the day we came home from Utah, so he thought he needed to be up and about during the flight.  Scarlet thought the tray table was the coolest thing she'd ever experienced.  Oh, and the fact that they gave her apple juice made her super happy. 

Also while we were there, Elliot got two teeth!  It was crazy.  One tooth one day, another the next.  They were his very first teeth.  He hit huge milestones and grew so much in just three short weeks. 

I was so grateful to have been able to get back to Utah for the funeral and spend some much needed time with friends and family.  I'm counting down the days until Ryan is finished with school.  It's coming very soon!  I will always have great memories of this time in California, but I'm so ready for an income.