Frogs hop into Orlando

I haven’t blogged much lately…..things have been crazy busy!  I was finally emancipated from work last Wednesday (Wednesday the 10th, that is) and I haven’t had time to stop since!

Thursday and Friday (11th & 12th – I feel I must clarify for myself more than anything because it seems so long ago!) were spent shuttling to the last volleyball practice before AAUs and last-minute preparations for the visit of my Uncle Richard and cousins Phil and Mark.  Uncle Richard came in for his high school reunion.  We had a lovely gathering at my house on Friday evening, complete with my sister’s famous chocolate cake and my mom’s homemade strawberry ice cream!

Uncle Richard and my brother Dean listening to my sister, Carol.

Uncle Richard and my brother Dean listening to my sister, Carol.

And the famous strawberry ice cream!

And the famous strawberry ice cream!

No, this is NOT Phil's hat, but he HAD to wear one....because, Texas...

No, this is NOT Phil’s hat, but he HAD to wear one….because, Texas…   He is performing his electrical trick on Avery.  All the kids LOVE it!

family

We enjoyed the visit so very much, but it was too short!

Monday morning, I was able to squeeze a run in before we headed for the airport.  We were the last family to arrive for the tournament (had I known what I know now at the time of ticket booking……).  Alli and I rushed off the plane to the car rental counter to pick up one of our cars so that we could get to the opening ceremonies on time.  As luck would have it, there was a weather delay due to lightning, which gave us all the time we needed.

Our little Frogs at the Opening Ceremonies

Our little Frogs at the Opening Ceremonies

The girls were able to walk around the stadium to cheers from fans.  In addition to the slew of Puerto Rican teams, in attendance, I noticed a familiar Maple leaf flag…

The girls exchange tokens before each game.  I wonder if the Canadians brought Maple syrup?

The girls exchange tokens before each game. I wonder if the Canadians brought Maple syrup?

Tuesday morning, we were at the courts bright at early at 7AM, which seemed like 6AM for all the Texas folks.  AAU

The day started with a loss against a strong Puerto Rican team.  (Get used to this….)  Like any good parent, I feel we could have beat them.  *sigh*

The first day, we only had to win one match in order to keep hopes alive for the Championship.  But who wants to stay in the hunt by the skin of their teeth?  We were able to easily win our second match.  The third match of the day should have been the most difficult to win, which had me worried.  I didn’t have a lot of faith in the seeding process regarding the teams that came out of Puerto Rico.  (I’m so tempted to use PR, but PRs are a good thing in running and these Puerto Rican teams were NOT good for MadFrogs.)  The last match of the day went to 3 sets and we squeaked out a win, 15-13.  At least we went into day 2 with 2-1 record….

We were off to a better start on day 2, after winning our first 2 matches.  We knew the last match would be tough (as usual), but the team ended up being more than we could handle and, again, the Puerto Ricans won rather easily.  (By the way, the ONLY American team we faced was on day 1.)  Luckily, top 2 teams in each pool advanced and our hopes for the championship bracket were still alive.  Afterward, the team went out to Downtown Disney for some fun and food.  The girls enjoyed the outing and their meal at Rainforest Cafe. rainforest

We knew that Thursday would be tough.  Not only from the level of play, but from literally playing all day long.  We had 2 morning games at 8 & 9, a game at 1 then another match at 6.  Oddly enough, the match at 6 was the only one that mattered regarding advancement to the championship bracket.  In any case, we were down to 9 teams vying for 4 spots in the championship.  (Only 2 American (and Texan) teams, I might add)alli

In the crossover match, we were ahead and at set point, but could not side out.  We ended up losing 24-26.  HEARTBREAKING.  The second set we came out, guns blazing and won 25-21, forcing a tiebreaker.  But once again, we had trouble breaking serve and ended with a 7-15 loss.  This was the most devastating loss of the tournament, because we all knew (girls included) that we COULD have beat this team.  The loss put us in the consolation bracket which meant the highest we could place would be 5th.  timeout

Friday morning, we played another team that we should have been able to beat.  Once again, we found ourselves in the situation where all we needed was a side out to win and couldn’t force an error.  First set score was 24-26.  We came back to win set two 25-11, and I was hopeful that we would carry that momentum in to the 3rd set for the win.  However, we were unable to return the first serve of the game and the girls imploded.  We lost that set 5-15, which is probably the worst showing for them this entire season.

Our girls were the highest finishing American team in the tournament with our 7th place finish.  I say that like it makes getting 7th easier, only it doesn’t.  I don’t want to seem as if I am not proud of their work.  I’ve never seen them fight as hard as they did this weekend.  They played with heart and determination.  And even though we didn’t get the results for which we were seeking, I am so glad that we played in this tournament.  Our girls had not traveled for a tournament before and they certainly hadn’t played in a National Championship.  This experience will help them prepare for the USAV Girls Junior National Championships next year!

I later learned that the Puerto Rican girls likely attend a volleyball academy in which they attend classes each morning and practice volleyball all afternoon, every afternoon.  If this is the case, our girls did VERY well against them, as they weren’t really much better than us.  They were more consistent with passing and that was the game changer (but isn’t passing ALWAYS the game changer?)

I’ll be blogging about our non-volleyball activities soon after we arrive home.  Until then…

Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there!

Jen

 

 

 

How you know it’s Summer: Runner Edition

Since I have 8 more hours of work until my Summer vacation begins (and extends through August 5, I might add), I started thinking about the ways in which we recognize the seasonal change from Spring to Summer.

This year in Texas, Mother Nature literally flipped the switch on June 1.  For my town in May, average temps were in the 70s, it rained 24 out of 31 days, and we received almost 18 inches of rain.   Beginning June 1, the sun has shined brightly every single day with temps in the 90s and we haven’t received any rain.

Gotta love that Texas sun!

Gotta love that Texas sun!

If you are a runner, here’s how you know that summer has finally arrived:

  • You add a strength workout for the sole purpose of being able to carry all the water you will need on your run.
  • You buy Body Glide (or in my case, Vaseline) in bulk.
  • Runner’s tan.
  • You consider sacrificing your firstborn child for the mere chance of a cloud big enough to shield you from the sun, if only for a few moments.
  • Forget getting your body bikini-ready….you have to get your body ready for compression shorts and sports bra because it is too hot for a shirt.
  • You look like Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Vacation with a trail of running clothes behind you, although you stop short of wearing your shorts on your head (but only because you are running commando).
  • You run 50 feet out of your way for a mere 10 feet of shade, or you plan your entire route running the shadiest 4-block radius in town (and call it track work).
  • It’s the only time of year when, for a few brief moments, water is more important than coffee.
  • You sweat more than a whore in church on Sunday morning.
  • Speaking of sweat….you can’t see out of your sunglasses after mile 3 due to the sweat splatter.
  • You come out of the restroom at your convenience store “water stop” looking like you just stepped out of the shower.
  • Your race choices include the phrases “Hotter than Hell” or “Wildfire”
  • Passengers in passing cars look at you with horrified, open-mouth looks and you can only assume: you look THAT bad or they think you are THAT crazy
  • When the sun sets during your run, you sob tears of joy.Sunset after a hot run

Confession:  I’m guilty of them all!!

Happy Summer Running!

Embrace the heat!

 

Weekend Warrior

The weekend was eventful in more ways than one and in some ways, I would have preferred not eventful!

Friday evening, Alli was helping her dad make stew by chopping some of the vegetables.  Well….she ended up slicing her finger.  I’ll spare everyone by NOT posting the pics that we took (that Alli showed to ANYONE who would look).  I would like to give a shout out to my friend Jenn in New York for encouraging me to take Alli to get it checked out.  Long story short, we went to an urgent care facility and walked out with a glued finger.

I’m about to admit my short-comings as human being, and more importantly – a mother.  With AAU Nationals coming up within the week, one of the first things I thought was “Oh my gosh….Alli won’t be able to set!” Luckily, I scolded myself for thinking those thoughts (even though it may or may not have been after I realized that her finger would be fine by tournament time).

I have to brag on Alli for a bit, though.  She is the baby of the family, which means she has been coddled more than the other two.  At one point, I worried about whether she would EVER toughen up.  Back in basketball season, she rolled her ankle, walked it off the rest of the period and came back to finish the game (I still get teary-eyed over it), so I knew that she was getting tougher.  She had an extra practice on Saturday evening.  I told her that, as part of the team, she would go even though she wouldn’t be able to set.  She could still serve, hit and possibly pass and if there were drills she couldn’t do then she could help shag balls.  That little stinker ended up setting toward the end of practice.  I could tell that it hurt, because after taking a few balls her hand started shaking when she would put her hands up to set.  She told me afterwards that it did hurt some – not too much, but she felt she could endure the pain because her team needed her.  Now I’m not a proponent of playing injured, but if you are hurt and playing doesn’t further hurt you, I think it is good to work through the pain.  There IS a difference between being hurt and being injured.  The tricky part is to recognize the difference.  Needless to say, I’m proud of the athlete she is becoming.  🙂

Bahama Bucks before practice.  Possibly the best sno cones on the planet.

Bahama Bucks before practice. Possibly the best sno cones on the planet.

Sunday, I found myself at a tea party, hosted by the youth of my church.  They were fundraising to help pay for camps and conferences.  I took one for the team and wore a hat….Mad hatters

We had a very good time!!  Logan was one of the servers.  I’m sure you can sense his excitement, just looking at this photo!

Can't accuse him of not being enthusiastic! LOL

Can’t accuse him of not being enthusiastic! LOL

At the end of the festivities, a prize was awarded for the best hat and my mother won!  Memo tea party

Now on to the training updates!  Friday through Sunday, I racked up 22.6 miles!  Training is going incredibly well, thanks to the direction that my coach/partner has given me.  However, instead of him just telling me how we need to train, I have noticed that I am starting to internalize what he has taught me.  This is a huge transition for me which is really starting to boost my confidence in my abilities as a runner.

Saturday’s training was to be a timed 1:15 run with my goal pace between 11:00-11:15.  Typically, I attempt to run the fastest pace allowed and end up fighting and wrestling with myself the entire run.  I will admit that I was a little apprehensive about having to run it on my own, because I struggle so much with pacing.  This run turned out to be one of those pivotal runs – one that I will no doubt look back up on and realize that it truly was a turning point in my attempts to become a better runner.  I didn’t struggle with pace AT ALL, and almost every mile split was right at 11:15.  Even MORE exciting is the fact that I didn’t deviate from pace much within each mile.  I was truly running that pace.  And if that wasn’t enough, I could tell almost immediately when I deviated from the pace AND possessed the self-control to get myself back on track.  I can’t put into words how monumental this was, except it was AMAZING!!

My partner is suffering from a swollen/bruised ankle & heel, that he suspects is delayed onset from a fall down stairs earlier in the week.  This little development meant that I would have to run our 12 mile long run solo….in the afternoon heat.  Had I known in time, I would have planned to run early Sunday morning, but even he didn’t realize the problem until he was getting ready for work Sunday morning.

So I set out around 6 pm, sun blazing with temp of 94.  Make no mistake about it – this was by far my toughest run since my marathon.  The first 8 miles of my run were every bit as tough as the last 8 of my mara, but I battled mentally and garnered several victories along the route.

Running this tough of a run by myself allowed me to realize how much I have matured the past 3 months.  Here are some things stuck out for me yesterday:

  • I have finally accepted (and genuinely believe) that long runs are about time on your feet – NOT pace.  I was truly satisfied with slowing down when needed.  Old Crazy Jen would have beaten herself up for slowing down.  I think part of that stemmed from the fact that I didn’t feel adequate as a runner if I wasn’t running a certain pace.  I’ve made peace with that – and I am quite happy running a pace that will allow me to improve as a runner and remain injury-free!
  • Now that I have built a good base, I am able to use my heart rate data more effectively during my runs.  I know where my zones are and (this is the kicker!) am willing to slow down when needed to get my heart rate in the proper zone for that run.  (Except Sunday, when it was so hot that I just tried to keep my heart rate below 160, which I know is way too high for a long slow run.  But with more heat training my heart will hopefully adapt.)
  • I no longer run with music.  I can practically hear the gasps from all of you.  Learning to run sans music has been good for me.  REALLY good.  Without the distraction of the music, I am much more in tune with my body and what is going on.  I find it much easier to stay focused on the run, which I suspect has directly resulted in developing my pace-awareness.

I got several “looks” yesterday from people in passing cars.  I’m not sure if I looked that desperate, that horrifying, if they were offended that I had taken off my shirt, or if they simply thought I was insane.  In any case, I didn’t really care.  I felt blessed to be out there regardless of the heat.  I was, however, incredibly jealous of the guy who drove by looking at me while sipping what was surely an ice-cold drink.

Beautiful, but deceiving.  Hard to believe how hot it was when you look at this gorgeous sunset.

Beautiful, but deceiving. Hard to believe how hot it was when you look at this gorgeous sunset.

No, that is not snow....it is part of the "B" on the 50 yard line.  I needed .15 to finish my run and got it on the track :)

No, that is not snow….it is part of the “B” on the 50 yard line. I needed .15 to finish my run and got it on the track 🙂

I work through Wednesday, then my summer will officially begin!

Happy Monday, all!

Jen

Jenn Kirk is AMAZING

Hello All-

I know what you must be thinking- she is crazy AND conceded ?? 🙂 No, this is not Jennifer, this is her daughter Taylor, who hacked into her word press account. I am not a very sappy person and I am not always the most savvy with computers – but I did figure this out and I am feeling sentimental. So, my mom, “Mumzy”, as all my friend and I call her, is always making list on here… So I guess I will make one, too.

10 REASONS WHY I LOVE MUMZY

1. Who doesn’t love someone named Mumzy?

2. Look at her… she’s beautiful and looks like she is 30 ( I KNOW CRAZY, BUT SHE ISN’T) so it makes me hope I get those genes in the future.

3. She’s my #1 fan- on or off the court, she is always supporting me. No matter how crazy of an idea I come up with, she is always there to encourage and lift me up.

4. Runner— this is all I will say… you all know about the running life. Just happy to have a healthy parent

5. Food NAZI- Good and bad. Good when I am feeling fat. Bad when I am feeling a cheat day 🙂

6. Opinionated- Let me tell you guys… If you don’t agree with Mumzy you might as well just not say anything. Just kidding, but I am glad she is so liberal and passionate about so many subjects. It is what has molded me into what I am.

7. Strong- she is strong. Not only physically, but also emotionally. She is a rock to so many.

8. LOL- Literally… she is always “Laughing out Loud”. She has a very contagious laugh and because of it our home is constantly filled with the sound of laughter

9. Cool Cat- Mom is a cool cat. She always was and still is the “cool mom” that everyone of my friends loves and feels comfortable talking to her about things going on in their lives.

10. Love- the way she loves my dad, my brother, my sister and I. It gives me hope in a world that is perceived as hopeless. If one person can love the world this much, then why not everyone else?

LOVE YOU MOM XOXOXOXO

Little throw back because I was bored, looked through some pictures, and it made me laugh. 🙂

Alvin

Hump Day hill repeats and “easy” runs that aren’t so easy

First, HAPPY RUNNING DAY!  If you aren’t a runner, you will likely scratch your head at all the National Running Day posts.  Don’t worry….it will all be over in about 24 hours!

For National Running Day, I was lucky and blessed to run not-quite-at-the-buttcrack-of-dawn (aka 6AM) when the sun was already rising in the sky.  Running from 6-7 meant that I would have to clean up and change at work.  STOP WORRYING….I brought my Shower Pill body wipe, along with plenty of deodorant and perfume. 😉  My friend, Carmen, was too happy to take my pic as I walked in to change.  hills for breakfast

Carmen was also kind enough to pick up my breakfast.  Yes, I ate MEAT.  And it was delicious! 🙂breakfast

But first things first.  Yesterday afternoon, I ran while Alli was at volleyball practice.  It was supposed to be a 45 min run at “easy” pace.  Let me tell you….there was nothing easy about that run!  Many of you know that for the last 4-6 weeks, Texas has been in full-blown monsoon mode.  My little town recieved 17.69 inches in May and we had maybe 7 days in which we received no rain at all.  I don’t remember the sun being out EVER.  Depressing.  But, I digress.  The whole point of this is to show that I haven’t been running in difficult conditions heat-wise.  That all changed yesterday!

Texas summer weather is here, and you will hear NO complaints from me!  I have missed the sun sooooo much.  But, going from running in cloudy 70s to full sun in the 90s is…..difficult. hot Texas sun

My partner/coach instructed me to run 40-45 min at an 11:00-11:15 pace (YES, I wanted to jump up and down and throw a tantrum like a toddler).  I tried to argue my case to get 60 min out of the run, but he stood his ground and I eventually conceded.  (At this point, I know that my attempts to squeeze blood out of this turnip are futile.)  On to the run…. Generally speaking, I suck at pacing.  The struggle is holding myself back to a healthy, safe pace for that specific run.  It is much easier to run fast and not exercise any self-control.  When I run with my partner, he paces the run and all I do is run.  It is so effortless.  When I run on my own, however, even the “easy” pace is labor-some.  Having said that – I am getting better at realizing when I am off-pace.  Yesterday the pacing did come easier (I have a feeling part of that was due to the heat) but the actual running took every ounce of energy I had (again, a direct result of the heat).  Generally speaking, my heart rate hovers around 140 for our easy runs.  This was my heart rate yesterday…easy run hr

Seriously.  What the heck???  Compare my heart rate for my hill repeats this morning…hill repeat hr

Hill repeats heart rate should be higher than an easy run.  It’s very clear that I need to train more in the heat!

I mentioned the May monsoons.  The entire state has been reeling from the flooding.  So much has been destroyed and even lives lost.  The park that I run in when in Plano is part of a nature preserve, which has several creeks running through it.  I have no idea how high the waters got, but it was clear on my run yesterday that the entire place was underwater.  oak point bridge

This was on the inside of the bridge, which tells me that the water had to be above the railings for this debris to get stuck here.  I’m not the best at guessing distances, but I think there is around 10-15′ drop to the stream below:oak point creekAll throughout the park, the grasses were flattened like this:

Oak point flooding

It was clear which direction the water was flowing!

I just hope that we can continue our reprieve from the rains so that those affected the most can begin to recover from all the devastation.

Keep Texas in your thoughts and prayers!

Happy Hump Hill Repeat Day!

Jen

Tacos, Running and the Texas Sun finally returns!

My love of street tacos is no secret to anyone.  I’m always searching for the best….and sadly, the best I’ve ever had were from a taco place here in my hometown that closed a couple years ago.  (I’m still crying inside over that one.)  This picture popped up on my TimeHop a couple days ago and I’ve literally been tasting those tacos ever since!Taco Alli

Best.  Tacos.  Ever.  And isn’t Alli the cutest?!?

Seeing this pic reminded me that it’s been a while since I made tacos of my own, so instead of Taco Tuesday, we had Taco Sunday at the Kirkpatrick house.  I have the easiest, most delicious crock pot marinade recipe and since I couldn’t settle on one, decided on pork AND chicken. street tacos

Generally speaking, I like to make guacamole to go along with it, but the avocados were mostly too ripe or not ripe enough.  Plus, I eat WAY too much each time I make guac and it’s swimsuit season!  I also cooked some black beans (NOT from a can) and brown rice.  It was more delicious than I can describe!!yummy tacos

Seriously, I could eat this for every meal!

Running this weekend went very well.  Saturday we were off at 5 AM for a 60 minute easy run.  (Have I mentioned how my partner LOVES the timed runs?)  We ended up with a hair over 5 miles and I was greeted by this beautiful sunrise as I pulled back into my driveway.  5 miler sunrise

Absolutely breathtaking.  Ever sunrise I   By 11 AM on Saturday, I had run, cleaned my house and already had nap #1.  It was a great day!

Sunday turned out to be a great day, as well, which started off with a 10 mile long run.  We were planning to run 11, but my partner’s hip started getting tight and there was no reason to push it for one extra mile.  He assures me that we can run 12 this weekend to stay on schedule. 😉  Then, Bobby and I spent a lot of time working in our patio and around the pool because……IT WASN’T RAINING!

The weekend was so productive and relaxing.  I enjoyed not having anywhere to go….I rarely have unscheduled time and I wanted to take full advantage of it!

The only problem was that I really wanted to lay out by the pool Sunday afternoon, but it was cloudy all day long!  Of course, since I am still working, Monday was sunny all day….until I got home and changed into my swimsuit.  Sun please come out

Seriously?!?  When and how did I piss off Mother Nature so badly?!?  Luckily I was patient and these clouds passed in a matter of minutes.  And I spent the next hour just soaking up the sun.  Ahhhhhhhh!  I have been waiting to do just that for what seems like an eternity!The Iz

I’ll leave you with a pic of Izze, the granddog.  Taylor spent the night in her Denton house last night, so Izze slept with me.  And this is how she said goodbye to me this morning….from her cozy spot!

Happy Tuesday!