Date Night with Friends!

I'd like to introduce two of Ryan's and my favorite people in the world, Abigail and Devin (above)! We all met at Hanover - Abigail was my sorority sister (and roommate for a year), and Devin was Ryan's fraternity brother. Before Noah was born, we used to get together with them about every 4-6 weeks to just hang out and do something fun together. For example, one year on New Year's Eve, we had dinner together and then went ice skating downtown. We've seen lots of different movies over the years, too. Our time together is always really laid back, and we usually end up laughing most of the night. We even went on vacation to Destin, FL a few years ago and had a BLAST (see below)! Yeah, it was pretty much paradise.

About a month ago, Abigail and I made plans that we would all get together over Fall Break. So on Saturday, Ryan's parents came down to stay with Noah for the night. After visiting with John and Gloria for a bit, we were off to Abigail and Devin's house. We hung out for a bit and then headed to a Japanese Steakhouse...yum...one of my favorites! It was so nice to just have some time with friends away from Noah. Don't get me wrong - I love him so much - but Mommy needs time for herself and for her marriage, too! :) Whenever we spend time with Abigail and Devin, it's just so relaxed...not stressful...and laid back. I never want to leave at the end of the night because I'm always having such a good time. But wait a minute...I'm getting ahead of myself.

So here Ryan and I are at dinner waiting for everyone's sushi to be delivered. Yeah, I went ahead and passed on the sushi. It's just not my fav! After the sushi course, we were served the infamous Onion Soup and salad with ginger dressing. I am definitely going to try to make both of these recipes in the next week! One bowl of each just isn't enough for me. :) I ordered the filet and scallops, and my mouth was watering while I watched the chef make the delicious fried rice and vegetables. Everything was so incredible! Can you tell I love food? I honestly LOVE watching Food Network and dream of dining at various restaurants all over the country. I really need to make a list so I don't forget where I want to go.

Anyway, I'm really dragging out this story. My filet and scallops did not disappoint. I nearly ate every bite and left the restaurant feeling SO full and SO happy! We went back to Abigail and Devin's to change clothes before heading to the...HAUNTED CORN MAZE! AHH!!! I hadn't been to a corn maze in years and was really excited to participate in some real Halloween activities. Can you tell I don't get out much? It was FREEZING Saturday night!! Devin had never been to a haunted house/maze, so it was fun being with him that night. Haunted places are hilarious to me. I LOVE being startled, and even when I see someone coming at me, and I know they are going to jump at me, it still makes me scream! The creepiest one was this little kid - probably 8-10 years old, who was completely covered up in a costume and mask. He was walking along with two older and taller people. The two older ones just walked by, and at the last second, the little one jumped at us and said "AHH!" really quickly and totally freaked us out! It was hilarious!

After surviving the corn maze, including the guy with the chain saw at the end of the maze, we went back to Devin and Abigail's for some wine (one of my favorites - Bricco Riella Mocasto di Asti), cheese, cookies...and you guessed it...Twilight Scene-It! :) The poor guys didn't stand a chance. Abigail has probably seen the movie 10 times and has noticed every single little thing in each shot. This girl knows her Twilight!!! She and I were on a team for our first round, and we almost beat the guys in five minutes. We let them have a turn so they didn't get bored, so it actually took about eight minutes to beat them. Then we all played against each other the second round. We kept drawing these "Fate Cards," where you had to read the card aloud, and then you had to follow the directions. It was HILARIOUS hearing Devin and Ryan say things like, "All the boys want you to go to the prom with them..." and "Edward comes to pick you up from school, move ahead 2 spaces." We were cracking up!

A bottle of wine, several cookies, lots of cheese, and many laughs later, it was nearly midnight. As usual, I was sad to go because we were having such a great time! Ryan had an early morning at church, and Devin was fading fast. I have never seen anyone like Devin get so tired so quickly at night! We said farewell, and the night ended. I really need nights like this - it just really fills my cup to be with good friends! I am also reminded that while I am a mom and a wife, I am more than that, too. Does that make any sense? It sounds strange when I write it down, but it's truly how I feel. Ryan and Noah are the two most important people in my life, and in order to keep balance in my life, I really LOVE LOVE LOVE this kind of time with friends! Thank you, Abigail and Devin!!


Ink in Your Dryer?

Last Sunday I was finally catching up on laundry after our race. Our nasty clothes had already been sitting there for a week, but I am in a good laundry groove where I only have to do it once every two weeks. It is a full day of laundry, but I'd rather do that than wash, dry, and fold clothes every day or two.

Anyway, I came home from a half day of work with laundry on the brain. I had already finished a few loads and had about four more to go. I fluffed some clothes in the dryer, and when they were done, I was shocked to find that an ink pen had EXPLODED all over my dryer and the entire load of khaki/green clothes inside. GRR!! I had just bought new American Eagle khakis, which I badly needed, and they were completely covered in ink.

Immediately, I'm out to figure out whose fault it is. I am really bad about that! Ryan teases me about it, but it truly is a bad habit that I need to overcome. I NEVER put pens in my pocket - I mean - what girl does? So of course, I'm thinking, "Grr Ryan!" I am also panicked because the ink is everywhere inside the dryer, and I'm worried that we'll have to buy a new dryer. I tried Lysol wipes, a magic eraser, and alcohol wipes, and nothing worked. Uh oh...

So I checked out the next best thing. I love this website! You can learn how to do anything. I read to follow these steps:

1. Put a half gallon of bleach and a half gallon of water inside a bucket.

2. Soak two large white towels in the bucket and ring them out.

3. Put the towels in the dryer and dry for 30 minutes.

4. Check the dryer. If more ink remains, dry for longer.

5. Once satisfied with the removal, wipe inside of dryer with a wet cloth to remove residue.

I followed all five steps and had to actually let the towels dry for 90 minutes total. The dryer went from being stained with ink to looking like this:

Not too bad, huh?! Thank you eHow!!! By the way, when I told Ryan that I pen exploded in our dryer, he said, "It wasn't mine!" He tried to blame it on Kya and Noah, so I went upstairs and recovered the pen. As soon as he saw it, he said, "Oh yeah, it's definitely mine!" Then he quickly added, "My mom always checked my pockets!" It's a good thing he was trying to be funny and not serious... :) I just wanted to post this in case any of you ever deal with exploded ink pens in your dryer!

New Firsts

When you have a baby under 12 months, it truly seems like your child is doing something new every single day. Now that Noah is closer to 18 months, his "firsts" are happening at a slower rate. In the past few days, Noah has started doing two new things...one really CUTE and the other is...well, more practical. :)

Before almost every meal, Ryan or I will pray before we eat. It's just a good time to center and refocus on what is truly important, thanking God for everything He provides for us. Last Friday, we put our hands together to pray and looked over, and Noah also folded his little hands to pray. Ryan said the prayer, and when we were done, Noah even said, "Amen", which sounded more like, "Ah-meh". SOOO CUTE! Now, even when he is sitting down to eat breakfast, he folds his little hands and waits for me to pray. It is the sweetest thing! I can't wait for the day that he can pray at night before bed by himself. I am so interested to see what he says to God and for which things he thanks God.

The second new "first" was Noah learning the word "poo". Not only did he learn how to say it, though. The same day that he learnd the word, he came up to us and said, "poo." When we didn't really react, he said it a few more times. Come to find out, he was telling us that he had a dirty diaper! He has consistently told us "poo" everytime he has had a dirty diaper. Sweet! I don't know when Noah will actually be potty trained, but my hope is that by the end of next summer, before I go back to work, he will be potty trained. We will see!

Noah playing in my reusable Kohl's shopping bags
They are the best!


Zoo Boo

When we bought our Indy Zoo membership in May, we were really excited about taking Noah to Zoo Boo in the Fall. I feel like I blinked my eyes, and Halloween season was here! We put off buying a costume for Noah. I'm just really picky, and yet, I didn't want to spend a lot of money. We still aren't even sure what we'll do on Halloween. This is my dilemma...I'd like to take him around the neighborhood because I know he would enjoy it. However, it seems strange to go up to houses saying "Trick or Treat" and collect candy that Noah will never eat. The same applies to our church's Trick or Trunk event. I think it would be fun to go, and yet, collecting candy for Noah doesn't make sense. If you have/had little ones his age, what did you do or are you doing this year?

Jill and Aaron's little boy, Jake, is Noah's age, and we hadn't all gotten together since vacation this summer. Zoo Boo seemed like the perfect time to catch up and go do something fun together! I had never been to Zoo Boo before and wasn't really sure what to expect. They decorated the zoo with various Halloween-themed items, and there was a tent with Halloween music, a bounce house, etc. There was a bit of trick or treating here and there, but nothing like I thought it would be.

So, last Saturday after Noah and Jake woke up from their naps, we packed up and headed to the zoo! It was a pretty day, sunny but brisk. Our friends, Tim and Beckie, let us borrow a really cute frog costume...I really love it! I love those big bulgy eyes and that cute little red tongue!

When we first got there, we watched the seals for a bit while one of the zoo employees talked about their care and habits. The boys seemed to really like watching them! It is amazing to see how much more engaged Noah is now at the zoo in comparison to how he was in May when we first started taking him. We went to see the sharks and then stopped by the penguins for a great photo op. Jake was in the cutest penguin costume...the body was really puffy and so adorable! Here are Jill and Jake posing with the penguins.

I was really hoping to get a shot of the boys together, and with all the penguins swimming around to distract them, it was an easy one to snap. How cute are they?!

After leaving the water animals, we went to visit the farm animals. I think Noah's favorite were the donkeys. :) There was a demonstration happening with the elephant, so we checked that out for a bit, too.

While at the elephant show, Noah spotted the carousel. My Dad and Danette took him to the Children's museum while we were competing in the Bourbon Chase, and he LOVED the carousel there. So, we weren't too surprised when he got really excited to ride another one.

Noah rode on a big polar bear while Ryan held onto him. It's moments like these that I just don't want to forget. Seeing the two of them together seriously makes my heart just melt.

We took the opportunity to grab a quick family photo, too (Thanks, Jill!). Those frog eyes just crack me up!
I should also mention that Jill and Aaron treated us to the carousel and then the train afterward, so thanks again you guys! We jumped on the train, and they had a Halloween theme for it, too. I think the music was written in the 1970s or 80s, as it had a real "Reading Rainbow" kind of sound to it. All along the way, the train made different stops to see disappearing acts (that never reappeared...hmm....), the Wicked Witch (which was surprising decent), the Little Mermaid, and Dumbledore. Noah was really antsy and cried some to most of the time. :) You gotta love those moments when you're trapped, riding on a moving vehicle, and there is no way to escape while your child is crying. Awesome. :) On the flip side, Jake really seemed to have a good time! I love this picture of Aaron, Jill, and Jake - he has a great little pouty lip sticking out even though I think he was enjoying himself!

After visiting the giraffes, lions and tigers (who were exceptionally social), wild dogs, etc., it was time for dinner. We said farewell to our friends and grabbed a quick bite to eat at the zoo. Noah wasn't interested in eating anything except for crackers and fruit, so Ryan and I polished off some chicken fingers, cheese fries, pizza, and a hot dog like we hadn't eaten in days.
Lately, Noah has been doing different things to get our attention and make us laugh. The ride home was no exception. He kept putting the pumpkin bucket on his head and then taking it off to peek at us. He thought he was pretty funny...well, and so did we. :) Zoo Boo 2009 was a hit, and Noah slept like a baby that night. Goodbye, animals. See you at Christmas!!


Driving the Mini Coop

Check out the video! Noah and I go for a ride on his mini coop everyday. It is hilarious!



Conner Prairie

A few weeks ago, the Smithsonian Museums across the country had a free museum day. After checking the Indy area to see which museums we could visit, I saw that Conner Prairie was an option. The weather was beautiful that day, and neither Ryan nor I had been there since we grade school. I wish I had lots and lots to write about our visit, but honestly, it was just a relaxing day outside. We did visit the barn, and Noah was able to pet some different animals. We walked through different buildings and houses and played for awhile at the baseball diamond. At the end of the day, we went to the Apple Store and got a delcious donut and an apple cider slushie. They were wonderful!

Noah playing in the Discovery Station

Ryan and Noah by the Hot Air Balloon

Noah petting a Mama Cow


I heart this picture.

The cutest picture ever of Noah and Ryan together

Playing at the baseball diamond.

Marching through the field

Flying around outside the Apple Store

Apple cider slushies are delicious!!


Bourbon Chase - Over and Out

WOW! For the last 5 months, I have been thinking about and training for The Bourbon Chase, which took place October 9-10, 2009. This was the inaugural year for the race, and they limited the entry to 150 teams. I was elected to be the team captain, and the paperwork and emails poured in up until the day before the race. Although the forecast was projected to be between 50 and 75 degrees (depending on the time of day) and rainy, I still felt optimistic and made a commitment that I would have a great time no matter how terrible the weather!

Ryan and I packed a good part of the day on Thursday - who knew how much stuff you would actually need for a 200 mile relay race across Kentucky?! My dad and stepmom came into town to take care of Noah while we were away (Thanks again, you guys! You're the best!). Then, we entertained a broker and his family at the Taylor Swift concert Thursday evening, and it proved to be a great show. I left with Taylor's songs playing in my head, feeling a strong sense of "girl power" and excitement for the next day!

The alarm went off at 6:45 a.m. on Friday morning. We loaded up the car, gave my dad and Danette some final information about Noah, and off we went! We met Danny, Jackie, Dalia, Kevin, and Crickett (our friend who drove Van #1) at the church. I made a quick trip to Einstein Bagel Company to pick up 12 plain bagels, low fat cream cheese, and honey almond cream cheese. This little stop turned out to be a HUGE bonus for carbing up before the race. We drove to the Jim Beam Distillery, where the race would begin.

We checked in, signed our waivers, got our awesome BC shirts (they are actual running shirts versus a plain t-shirt), and checked out the start line while waiting for our friends in Van #2. They ended up arriving just before Jackie was to start the race at 11:45 a.m. You see, every team was given a different start time. The slowest teams started as early as 8:00 a.m., while the fastest teams began the race at 6:30 p.m. on Friday. This allowed all teams to finish around the same time (hypothetically). Anyway, our friends in Van #2 arrived - Jim (the driver), Lisa, Andy, Beckie, Tim, and Mark. We went to the start line, got a few team pictures, and then, BANG, the gun went off, and Jackie started our team's 200 mile journey.

After taking care of a few pieces of business, our team split and parted ways. The first van headed to the next exchange zone where Danny would receive the baton (slap bracelet) from Jackie, and our van (#2) grabbed a quick bite to eat at Subway and then made its way to the Maker's Mark Distillery where the first "major exchange" would take place. It's called a "major exchange" because the baton is transitioning from Van #1 to Van #2, so our entire team would see each other at this time. There is a lot of traffic and TONS of energy at these transition points. Oh yeah - and there was still plenty of rain! :) At approximately 4:40 p.m., we saw Kevin (below in red with yellow vest) running down the path that eventually led to a covered bridge where Beckie received the slap bracelet, and then she was off!

While Van #2 (my van) was quickly driving to the next check point, our teammates in Van #1 were able to tour Maker's Mark Distillery, dipping their own bottles of bourbon to commemorate the occasion. My stomach was in knots, just from nerves, so I spent very little time even thinking about Bourbon...let alone touring any of the 7 distilleries we encounted during our journey! :) Below is a picture of Dalia and Kevin after dipping their bottle of bourbon.

We drove ahead, out into the country, where we waited for Beckie to complete some really HIGH hills! I mean, honestly, our van was struggling to drive up them. I wish I would've taken a picture because I think you should only have to climb those mountains, I mean hills, by ladder. Tim ran beside Beckie during her final 100 yards, encouraging her. She passed me the bracelet, and off I went to run Leg 8 of the race. I was out in the country for quite a long time, and the rain was coming down. I felt great and was excited to finally be running! I ran through the town of Lebanon, and after I got through the town, I started to realize how depleted I was starting to feel. I know I didn't fuel up like I needed to before the race, but I was nervous and didn't want to feel overly full. I'm no expert...this is was my first race...but I quickly realized that I had to do something different before my second leg the next day. I had about 1.5 miles to go, when I saw this HUGE, very long hill in front of me. I knew the van was waiting on the other side of that mountain, so I just put one foot in front of the other and then finally, I made it to the top! I never realized how much joy a sea of white, full-sized vans can bring you until that moment. I gave it everything I had left and passed the slap bracelet to Ryan....and he was off! I made the 5.7 mile run in 60 minutes, just 3 minutes over my goal time.

Ryan had an 8.1 mile leg, and it was rated as the 7th most difficult leg of the race. YIKES! Since he took off around 6:40 p.m., Ryan had to wear a headlamp and flashing LED light, along with the reflective vest we were all required to wear due to the rain. I was SO glad he had those materials with him because by the end of his leg, it was PITCH black outside! You couldn't see anything as people were running into the exchange zone except for their headlamps, vests, and flashing lights. We were in the middle of the country, and a flare was glowing on the country road. It was at this point I started to think to myself, "WHAT THE HECK ARE WE DOING?!" and "AM I INSANE?!" My stomach was starting hurt even worse from lack of nutrients, as well as the same old nerves. All of the sudden, I heard "AMY!" and it was Ryan, running down a huge hill to our exchange zone. We cheered him in, and I ran beside him for his final 50 feet before he handed off to Tim. I was so proud of him, as I knew his leg was really difficult due to the hills, as well as one of two longest legs on our journey. We jumped back in the van and drove to our next check point where Tim exchanged with Patty. At this point, I was starting to really feel horrible. I was thinking to myself, "You could be at home, in a warm house, under a blanket, watching a great movie, and instead, you are running in an overnight 200 mile relay race across the hills of Kentucky. Are you serious??" I felt pretty terrible for the next hour. I mean, you can only eat so many granola bars, power bars, and apples. At this point, I needed DINNER! Patty (below) exchanged with Mark, and for the next 45 minutes, I was starting to feel better.

We met our teammates at the 2nd major exchange area in Danville, KY (below). I felt recharged knowing that everyone on our team had completed the first of their 3 legs. It was awesome to feed off each other's energy and get ready for Round #2. :)

It barely rained during our van's "active" phase of running, but unfortunately, the second van wasn't so lucky. Just as Mark was running toward us, and Jackie was getting ready to take off, the rain began pouring down again. Still, it didn't bring down Jackie's spirits! Below you can see a picture of them at Major Exchange #2.

At this point, all I could think about was FOOD and sleeping. We had a small window of time in which to accomplish these two things. Fortunately, right on the corner by the exchange zone, there was this cute little coffee shop where we were able to grab a healthy dinner (Turkey Club Wrap for me). We took our dinner to go and went straight to a Super 8 Hotel. We crashed for 3-3 1/2 hours, and then woke up, gearing up for our second portion of the race. I was feeling much better after a little sleep and some dinner in my belly.

For breakfast, I ate half of a bagel, a Nutragrain bar, and a Chewy Granola Bar. I really didn't want the last granola bar, but I really didn't want a repeat of my previous run where I was running out of fuel. So, I choked it down as best I could. We were rushing to the next Major Exchange point, as we got a little turned around at one point. Our friends in Van #1 were worried that we weren't going to make it on time, but at approximately 4:45 a.m., we arrived and were ready to go! Kevin once again passed the slap bracelet to Beckie, and she was off! We drove to the next checkpoint, and I started getting stretched out and ready for Leg 20. I felt really well and was ready to go! I wrapped a sleeping bag around myself and waited by the highway for Beckie to arrive. Finally I heard, "I'm coming Amy!! I'm almost there!!" Beckie was coming in, looking strong, and I just felt her energy and excitement tranfer to me. She slapped the bracelet on my wrist, and I was off, wearing my headlamp, flashing LED light, and reflective vest!

It was completely pitch black outside. I was running on a 4 lane highway, Britney Spears "Stronger" was playing on my iPod, and I was rolling. It felt so peaceful out there, and I tried not to think about the fact that I left my pepper spray in the van. :) About a mile in, I heard "WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!" I looked to my left and saw a HUGE Weimaraner come chasing after me. I yelled, "YOU STAY!" while pointing at it. Thank God, the dog stopped! I continued to feel really strong on this run, taking each hill in stride, saying to myself, "Slow and steady wins the race." It also gave me a lot of time to just talk to God. At one point, I looked up, and to my right I saw a HUGE and MIGHTY cross...taller than a two story house. I was like, "WOW! You are right here, Lord." I looked down at the road and kept running, smiling to myself, and when I looked up again, what I thought was a cross was just a tall column at the side of the road. It was one of those "WHOA" experiences I will never forget. After reaching the top of yet another hill, I looked down and saw another sea of white full-sized vans. I ran as fast as my legs would carry me, tore off my gear to pass to Ryan, and then he was off for his 5.8 mile run. I had just completed a 4.9 miler in 53 minutes, 4 minutes longer than my goal time. Again, not too bad considering all of those hills I was unable to train for in the flat plains of Indiana. :) Ryan did an incredible job, finishing his leg in 57 minutes.
Again, we cycled through the runners in our van. Tim and Patty finished their legs with incredible endurance, and then Mark took off. We drove to the Woodford Distillery, which was located in beautiful horse country. You could tell this distillery attracted the wealthier bourbon lovers. :) The buildings were beautiful, all made of stone, and they were set with horse farms as their backdrop. Below you can see Mark making the exchange with Jackie! Van #2 had just completed 2/3 of our portion of the race, and Van #1 was taking off for their final legs of the journey.
Although there may have been more nerves for Jackie since she was the first person on our team to run, she was also the first person on our team to finish her legs! She had ran 17.3 miles across Kentucky, and at 11:28 a.m., Jackie was able to relax for the rest of the day while we all finished our legs of the race. Below is a picture of Danny (our pastor) congratulating Jackie on a job well done! Then it was his turn to finish his 3rd leg of the race.
Danny has been dealing with a knee injury and has even had a few surgeries in an attempt to fix the problem. I don't even think he began running until maybe a month or so ago, as he had been mostly cross training in order to prevent hurting his knee further. On his final leg, I heard he had a HUGE hill to climb. Another runner saw Danny and asked if he wanted to run up that hill together. Danny asked what pace the guy was running, and he replied that he was running 7:30 miles. Although the pace was a bit fast than Danny's, he joined up with the guy and made it up that hill! Danny later said that had that guy not said to run together, he would have struggled a lot more! He passed the slap bracelet to Lisa, and she took off to complete her final leg. She finished Leg 27 of the race, which was 5 miles long, in 45 minutes, two full minutes under her pace. What a warrior! Below you can see her running to meet Andy for their final handoff.

After two legs that were both rated "difficult," Andy finally got a break! His last leg was rated as "easy" and was only 3.9 miles long. Andy conquered that leg in 28 minutes and passed the slap bracelet to Dalia. What's important to note at this point is that Dalia has been dealing with a strained calf muscle for over two weeks. Andy is a physical therapist and had given Dalia therapy 5 times prior to our race. Although it had improved, after 2 legs (9.6 miles) into her journey, Dalia's leg was REALLY sore...and the word "sore" is probably an understatement. We knew the last leg was going to be really tough for her, even though it was 4.7 miles. Compared to the rest of our team, she had the 4th most difficult legs overall. She battled through her last leg and was in so much pain, but she kept going...and going...and going! With about a mile left, the team began to worry about her, so Andy ran back to find her. They finished the rest of her leg together, and Dalia handed off to Kevin! Andy began doing some therapy on her leg immediately. She thinks she might have a stress fracture and is going to get it checked out soon. Is she a warrior or what?!?!

In the meantime, our team decided to check out Kevin's leg because judging by the map, it was going to be a REALLY hard leg of the race. In fact, it was rated the 3rd most difficult leg overall. We drove down the hill he was to run...and then drove back up it. I honestly thought I was going to be sick. People seriously looked like they wanted to die when they were running up it. I can't even imagine having already ran 12.1 miles only to run another 4.5 miles, which is exactly what Kevin was facing. We drove to the Major Exchange area and waited for the other team to arrive. Ryan, Tim, and Mark laid their sleeping bags out on the ground by the van and tried to get some rest. I laid in the van for awhile, trying to refuel and mentally prepare for my third leg. I joined the boys for a bit outside. Soon after, I got a text message from Patty, who was inside the van, asking where were were. We laughed, and I wrote back, "We are right in front of the van on the ground." You have to love technology! She was too tired to look for us, and I was too tired to stand up and wave to her through the window. Why go to all that trouble when you can just text message each other?! :) It was one of those moments where I didn't have to feel bad for being lazy. I had just ran 10.6 miles and was preparing to run another 4.9 in the next couple of hours.

Van #1 arrived, and we all celebrated the fact that they were nearly finished. I started crying as soon as I saw Dalia hobble out of the van. I knew she had sacrificed so much for us so that we all didn't have to run more. As I get to know her, I am realizing that she is probably one of the most selfless people I know. We talked for a bit and then went down to celebrate with Kevin, as well as cheer on Beckie as she began her third and final leg. Although we had been so worried about Kevin on that final hill, he claimed it "wasn't that bad." Wow! I think the only explanation for that kind of reaction is the endorphins his body was releasing. It was seriously intense!

Beckie took off for her leg of the race, and all of us left in Van #2 jumped in and drove through horse country on our way to my next exchange point. I was really eager to just get going and to finally be finished with the race. I knew I had 3 good miles left in my legs, so it was just a matter of getting through the other 1.9 miles. I stretched out as best I could. My legs were really tight and weary, but my spirits were high, and I was ready to go! Again, I was wrapped up beneath a sleeping bag. I think the temperature was somewhere around 55 degrees, and I planned to run in a tank top and shorts (and by mid-run, I was glad I did!). Finally, I saw Beckie coming down the road. I kept yelling to her, "I'm right here, Beckie! You can do it! I'm right here!" She passed the slap bracelet to me, and I took off. Britney Spears "Stronger" led the way again, and although my brain was saying, "Go legs, go!" my legs would only go one speed. There was just this crazy disconnect between my mind and body. I hit some pretty decent climbs over the course of the first 2.5 miles. By that time, I thought to myself, "I only have to run for 25 more minutes. I can do that! I've ran for 25 minutes a million times." That was all I needed! I fell into a groove and just put one foot in front of the other. I got a little worried at one point because when you're running and in the groove like that, you kind of go on autopilot. All of the sudden, I worried that I had missed a turn and that I was ending up in the middle of nowhere. I had to really force myself not to freak out. I came up on a barn, and outside of it were about six dudes. I started praying for God to keep me safe. I mean, there was no one ahead of me and no one behind me. No one would have seen if...well, you get the picture. I just stayed focused and kept running. Soon after passing the barn, I saw a sign in the road that told me I was on the right track. I rounded the corner and a couple minutes later, I saw the 1 mile marker. I thought to myself, "I definitely have 10 more minutes of running in me!" I felt a new rush of adrenaline as I came upon a small town, and the "Welcome to Midway" sign greeted me in on my way. With a left turn and then a right turn, I saw the most glorious sight - a sea of white vans!!! This was it! At last! I began running down the sidewalk, and I saw some runners. I asked then where the exchange zone was, and they pointed me onward yelling "Runner coming!!!" I darted into the street and saw my team, cheering me in to my final exchange zone. Ryan never looked so beautiful! He was a ways away from the exchange area, so he took off running, and I went sprinting after him. It felt so good to finish my leg at a sprint and to leave everything I had out on that road! I passed the slap bracelet to Ryan and away he went!
AHHHH!!!! I had just completed 15.5 miles across the state of Kentucky in exactly 160 minutes, and I was on pace for my last leg. I had the lovely experience of using countless Port-O-Johns, choking down a dozen different kinds of granola/power/nutragrain bars, drinking more water and Gatorade than I care to remember, being chased by a HUGE dog in the pitch black, sleeping just 3 hours on the floor of a Super 8 under the air conditioner between the wall and a bed, changing clothes in the back of a full-sized van, and feeling like my body had just been in a car accident. But I've got to tell you...those endorphins are tricky little things. Moments after I finished my final leg of the race, I thought to myself, "I can't wait to do this again!!!" Isn't that nuts??? Back to the race...

So Ryan was running his final leg: 3.9 miles with medium difficulty. He deserved it after his first two legs...they were tough! On this leg he got to run past The Weisenberger Mill. The view was really breathtaking, so Jim pulled the van over so that I could take a few pictures to remember it.

Not too long after reaching the exchange point, I saw Ryan running down his final hill toward us.

I was so proud of him as he made his final steps toward the exchange zone. He completed his final leg in just 35 minutes!!! I was so pumped! We had both trained so hard and had dealt with our share of injuries right at the end of our training. From the beginning, Ryan said that if I wanted to run this race, he would do it with me. He was so encouraging all the way through this journey of training and throughout the race. He told me all along that I would be able to complete my legs, and I never believed him until the end. It's amazing what you can do when someone else believes in you. Ryan completed 17.8 miles in just 24 hours, and he ran for a total of 170 minutes. I love you, Ryan! Thank you so much for going on this journey with me!!

As Tim was completing his final leg, I could feel my stomach finally relax. The nerves were gone, and now it was time to just sit back, relax, and enjoy the rest of this experience! Ryan and I were both on a high, talking about our final legs and what our experiences had been like. We drove to the next exchange point and cheered Tim in to the exchange zone! He had completed 19.5 miles in 191 minutes!! Patty took off for her final leg of the race, and we hit the road again. We could almost taste the victory it was so close! Soon after we pulled into the final exchange point, a lady came up to our van. She informed us that Patty's last leg had been cut short 1 mile due to an issue in the park; therefore, Mark would need to run an additional mile. WHAT!?! This meant that he was going to run 20.5 miles, the longest distance of anyone on the team. Not only that, but that also meant he only had 5 minutes to warm up because Patty was going to be there very shortly! YIKES! He barely even batted an eye, which just goes to show you the kind of person Mark is. We saw Patty running toward us, so I started yelling to her that she was almost done and that she had to do one less mile than planned. Her total distance was 15.4 miles, which she completed in 152 minutes! Patty passed the slap bracelet to Mark, and we quickly drove into Lexington to prepare for his arrival.

Although initally we had some issues navigating a city that was FULL of activity from the race, a concert, and maybe even a sporting event, we finally found our parking area. We only had about 5-10 minutes to find the finish line before Mark arrived, so I was freaking out! I wanted to cross that finish line with our team. We had all worked so hard, and I didn't want to miss it. Fortunately, with some help of our friend Lisa navigating us over my phone, we met up with our team with about 5 minutes to spare. Soon after, we saw Mark running toward us.

We went ballistic!!! We were cheering him in and screaming, not only because he had just KILLED his last leg, but because this was it...the moment we had been working toward for 31 hours and 51 minutes. Mark reached us, and we all took off, trying to run but mostly hobbling, toward the finish line. The clock read 7:36 p.m., and I felt the sweetest relief! I cried, of course, out of pure joy. We all worked so hard and gave the course everything we had. We left it all out there in the hills of Kentucky, and it was finally time to celebrate.

We lined up and were given our medals, which was awesome because I've never completed in a race of this caliber. Then our team was taken to a different area for some team pictures. Looking at this picture, I would never believe we had just ran 200 miles as a team. We seriously look like we just got together for fun and took a picture. Believe you me, we did it!

And as it goes with team picture traditions, just after taking a "normal" picture, you've got to do something a little crazy - so here we are!

The only thing that makes me sad about the race is the very little time we got to spend with the people in Van #1. Although we were a team, sometimes it felt like we were running two separate races. In my final captain's email to the team, I wrote the following to the people from Van #1 (Crickett not pictured because she was sleeping in the van in preparation for the 3 hour drive home):

Crickett - Your joy and compassion for others is so beautiful! Thank you for diving in head first to help us and for driving our team to safety.

Jackie - I can't thank you enough for your positive attitude! Your smile at each major exchange was contagious, and you gave our team an awesome new start at each of your legs, even when the rain poured down on you.

Danny - Wow - you have awesome energy, and it was incredible to compete in a race with you! Despite injuries, aches, and pains, you always stayed positive throughout our training and conquered your legs of the race!

Lisa - When you heard about the Bourbon Chase, you dove right in and joined the team! Not only were a leader in your van, communicating with us and making sure we were all on the same page. but you seriously KILLED your legs of the race!

Andy - Despite being a newbie runner, you ended up being one of our toughest competitors! You battled some pretty crazy legs and defeated them like a pro!

Dalia - If each member of our team was receiving an award, you would easily receive the honor of being the STRONGEST member of our team! You showed us what true selflessness looks like, and I am lucky to be able to call you my friend.

Kevin - Not only do you fly airplanes, but apparently you also fly up crazy hills mountains!!! Seriously. You didn't let stress fractures or shin splints stand in your way of bringing your van home at each major transition!

And to my friends in Van #2, I wrote the following:

Jim - At the last minute you were recruited to lead our team to safety, and you brought some real fun and energy to our team! No matter what anyone else says, I think you drive really fast and live life on the edge!

Beckie - Although running wasn't your passion, you worked SO hard these past 4 months! Red, you left it all out on that course, and I couldn't be more proud!

Ryan - You came "out of retirement" just for me, and you were my rock every step of the way, both in training and during the race. I kept running each of my legs knowing you were at the other end waiting for me. Not only did you conquer some serious mileage and hills, but you saw God's miraculous beauty all along the way. I am so proud to be your wife!

Tim - 19.5 miles, WHAT?!?! You had to run the second longest cumulative miles on our team, and you chewed up your legs of the race and spit them out!

Patty - Pharmaceutical sales rep by day, one serious contender by night! You never showed any sign of nerves, and your confidence was contagious!

Mark - You are one fierce competitor! Despite getting an extra mile thrown at you with a 5 minute notice, you hardly even blinked at the surprise, racked up 20.5 miles, and brought our team home to VICTORY! You seriously rock!

I love this picture of Ryan and me together after the race. I want to remember that moment for the rest of my life. We had never done anything so physically challenging together, and it was awesome to be given the chance to encourage one another every step of the way. It took a lot of coordinating with our schedules to both be able to train for the race while having a baby at home. Now, if I can just get him to sign up again! He said that if I'm in, he'll do it again. :) We might run the mini marathon together this Spring...we'll see. A half marathon seems really daunting to me, even though people on our team said this event was wayyy more difficult. Right! I will believe it when I see it.

As we left Lexington, this was my final view. You can barely see it, but they were setting off fireworks while people were enjoying the free bourbon tasting at the finish line. We walked back to the van, eager to eat dinner and get home to our warm, cozy beds. We stopped at Arby's and McDonalds, and I was in HEAVEN! I had been craving mozzarella cheese sticks, and the Beef and Cheddar sandwich hit the spot, too. We hit the road, and once we got past Louisville, Ryan took a turn driving to give Jim a rest. I was his copilot, and together, we were lucky to make it to Edinburgh. Ryan said the lines in the road were just waving in and out, in and out. I am being 100% honest when I say that I was hallucinating the entire time we were on the highway. I kept seeing people running in reflective vests and other people running with their flashing LED lights. I saw seas of white full-sized vans and exchange points. I kept blinking my eyes and shaking my head, but the images wouldn't stop. I think this is what happens when you are so sleep deprived. When we reached Edinburgh, Beckie drove the rest of the way home. I crashed within seconds, and the next thing I knew, we were back in the church parking lot. Ryan and I managed to get our things out of the van and into our Jeep. I remember it being FREEZING outside, and all I could think about was getting home. We went straight upstairs and fell into bed at 1:00 a.m. I don't know that my body moved a single muscle until I woke up the next morning when the alarm went off at 7:45 a.m.

We got ready for church and were both excited to see Noah in the morning. We had never been away from him for so long (over 48 hours). We were also excited to see my dad and Danette, who had taken such good care of Noah and Kya while we were away. We left for church and enjoyed hearing Danny give his latest sermon on our current series "One Month to Live." He was talking about how people don't do great things without passion. He talked about our experience at The Bourbon Chase, and how we could never have completed our race without passion. I was really emotional through some of the music, specifically a song called "Take My Life." It was amazing to think about how God blessed me with the ability to run in the race, how He kept me safe, and how I could feel His presence every step of the way. It was beautiful, and I will never forget it as long as I live.

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