10.31.2011

only half crazy

We did it! As of Saturday Nick and I are officially half marathoners. And you know what? It was kind of awesome. I realize you might not be terribly interested in hearing all about our race, in which case feel free to skim the pictures and come back tomorrow. I just want to document our first half and a pretty cool day all around.

Also - this post will be kind of one-sided. Nick and I ran separately, so these are my thoughts on the race. Maybe if you all ask nicely Nick will recap his thoughts on the day, too.


I went to bed Friday night super-crazy nervous for the race. I'm not entirely sure why. I didn't have a specific time goal and I was confident I'd be able to finish the race. I think it was the unknown. I'd never run 13(POINT ONE) miles before, I actually hadn't run at all for two weeks leading up to the race (because of vacation and some shin/hip issues), I was afraid I'd be insanely slow....yikes. So many thoughts. None of them particularly helpful.

But then we were at the starting line! It was a huge race, and we shared the course with the Monster Dash 10-mile race, so all together there were about 7,000 people running that morning. Nick started up by the 9 min/mile group and I started back by the 10 min/mile group. I have a bad habit slowing down a lot over the course of a long run, so I knew there was no way I'd finish at a 10 minute pace, but that's where the pace I start running and I didn't want to spend the first 5 miles weaving through slower runners.

Miles 1-4 were great. Amazing, really. Especially considering I couldn't feel the front half of my feet until mile 3 (it was a little chilly that morning). The first four miles flew by. I kept a great pace (well, for me. I'm not exactly a speedster) and felt strong. I spotted Nick's parents at mile 3 and was SO thrilled to see a familiar face. It's amazing how alone you can feel in such a huge sea of people.

Mile 6 my ankles were hurting (a new pain for me!) and it was hard to mentally accept that we weren't even to the halfway point yet. The 10:41 pacer passed me at mile 7, which I felt good about. I should be slowing down to an 11 minute mile by 8 or 9 and I'd be right on track with my training runs.

And then at mile 10 there was the "other" finish line. Right about then I was half wishing I would've signed up for the 10 mile race. But, to be honest,  there was part of me that was also thinking it was "just" 3 miles left and 3 miles is totally doable.

I'd heard that miles 10-13 were all downhill. Turns out that was a big fat lie. There was a long, slow UPhill at mile 11. It wasn't steep, but that late in the race it was mentally tough. And then I saw Mom & Dad G cheering from the side. Oh you guys, they got me up that hill a heckuva lot faster then I was going on my own. Nick's dad ran right along with me for a couple minutes and that was exactly what I needed to get moving again.

Then I saw the mile 12 flag. ONE MILE LEFT. Just one! I'd be across the finish line in mere minutes. But I just couldn't move any faster. My hips were lit on fire, my ankles felt like they were going to collapse with every step and my shins were hurting. (Running is fun!) Apparently my limp was pretty obvious, because a girl came up behind me and asked me if I was ok. Ha! Mile 12 seemed to drag on forever, but eventually the finish line came into view and I dug deep (really REALLY) deep and sprinted in. Nick jumped in from the side at the very end and crossed the finish line (a second time) with me.

13.1, baby!

My official chip time is 2:29:19. It's right on target with my training runs and I'm happy with it. Nick ran a great race and finished at 2:01:21. He was hoping to come in under 2 hours, but overall he's happy with it.

Will we do it again?

Yup, I sure will. I want to be faster and I want to correct my form so it doesn't hurt this much. Nick will probably run another half at some point. He's more focused on triathalons for now, but I'll probably drag him back in for another half at some point in the future.

Will we run a full marathon?

No. At this point in my life I have no desire to run a full. I can't even imagine that amount of pain! But seriously, I'm not at a place in life right now where I want to commit the training time required for a full marathon, and I don't really see that day coming any time soon. I have a lot of respect for people that can log 26 miles on their feet!

A huge, huge, huge thank you to our friends and family who came out to the race. Having people on the sidelines meant a lot more to me than I thought it would and it definitely made for some fun memories. We felt really loved!
Us with Jack & Laurel and some gorgeous Fall colors


Overall, this was a great experience. THANK YOU ALL for being so encouraging and supportive along the way. There were many Saturday afternoons collapsed on a couch after a long run where I really appreciated the encouraging tweets and comments. Plus, you haven't sent me hate mail for being a terrible blogger for the past 12 weeks. So, thanks. We're a little bit relieved to have this adventure over so we can get back to knocking down walls and putting up cabinets. So here's to the next adventure - a kitchen!

Beemer's really proud of us.
We asked him.

ps - story behind the post title - my favorite t-shirt of the day said "I'm only half crazy. 13.1"
I thought it summed things up pretty well.

pps - I definitely don't recommend running through pain that you're concerned about. I'm working with a chiropractor and personal trainer to make sure I'm not doing permanent damage to my achy body. Fixing my form issues is at the top of my list before I tackle any more long races!

10.27.2011

and then there was heat


Last night we finally got our heat up and running! The house is now very comfortable and I'm wearing less than 30 layers of clothing. Win/win.

When we left off on Sunday night, Nick and Tim had just discovered that we were missing one part. ONE PART. But it was 8:40 on a Sunday, which means our good friends at Home Depot had closed up shop and there was no way to get that part. In a stroke of genius Nick remembered he actually had the same part connected to some plumbing we had cut out three years ago when we first bought the house (we had to re-plumb one section). Why we still had a hunk of pipe with a bunch of brass connections still attached I don't know, but we were thankful we did! The guys got it off the first pipe and connected to the system.


And we turned on the water.

I was pretty convinced we'd have heat that night and was pretty gosh darn excited about it! Tim and I ran around to the radiators and closed bleeder valves one-by-one as the radiators filled up with water (instead of air) until Nick yelled up from the basement that we had a leak. Wah-wah. 


Unfortunately, solder doesn't stick if there's any water in the pipe you're soldering, so we had to drain the entire system and start over. By then it was already late and 4:30 comes extra early on Monday mornings (it's a scientific fact) so we headed to our (chilly) bed.

Monday night after work we started again. Nick fixed the leaky solder, we turned the water on, we ran around and turned off bleeder valves on the radiators. And we found another leak.

Major bummer. This one was in a really tricky spot and it took some creative maneuvering to get at it without lighting the nearby joists on fire with the butane torch. Yes, there's fire involved. Yes, the house was smoky. No, we didn't have heat on Monday night. Nick was frustrated, it was late, we were tired (I was cold). So off to bed we went.

And then there was Tuesday. Nick quickly fixed the final leak, we turned the water back on, we bleeded the radiators one by one AND THERE WERE NO MORE LEAKS. By the time we went to bed an hour or two later the radiators were warm to the touch and I was doing happy dances.

We woke up to a cozy warm house this morning (which, by the way, makes showering a much more pleasant experience) and so far there are no waterfalls in the house.

And I may never again take our heat for granted.

Is anybody still holding out and keeping the heat off?? I totally salute your efforts. I am a certified wimp when it comes to all things cold.

10.24.2011

home again, home again

We've been on the road for the past week and we just got home on Saturday night. I had hoped to pop in once or twice from my cell phone, but we spent the vast majority of our vacation out of the land of 3G. Or 1G. Or any signal at all. And....I kind of loved it.


We spent a solid week hiking all over southern Utah, visiting Arches, Bryce and Zion and Canyonlands National Parks along with a quick drive through Capital Reef. We drove over 2000 miles, covered over 30 miles of "strenuous" trails and even spent 6 hours one day hiking up a river. In a canyon. It was awesome.

Dear Bryce Canyon, you are beautiful.

And then we left the balmy mid-70's of Utah behind and landed in Minnesota, where Fall is quickly turning into Winter and our boiler system is still out of commission. When we walked in the door on Saturday night it was 52* in the house. If you're a thin-blooded wimp like I am, that's pretty gosh-darn cold.

So instead of lounging around and squeezing in our last pre-half-marathon long-ish run, we've been working fast and furious to get all the pipes reconnected so we can turn on the heat. My dad spent the entire afternoon in the basement with Nick, helping him connect all the return pipes. Then Dad headed home and Tim showed up and the menfolk worked on the run that goes through the kitchen.


Speaking of Tim, while we were galavanting around Utah Tim was manning the homefront and entertaining our dogs. And fixing our fence. And garage door. And trimming trees.

Yeah, we like Tim a lot.


Last winter a strong windstorm came through and ripped one of the back gates off of the post, damaging the post beyond repair. Plus, over the course of the last year we realized that the (massive) front gate needed some extra support. So Tim tackled both projects last week, putting in a new post in the back (along with a stronger support system to attach the two gates) and adding a wheel to the front gate. The wheel is exactly what the front gate needed and the latch closes perfectly again. And now our back gate is operational, instead of held up by random lumbar. Dear Tim, we love you. Please don't ever leave us.



 In a nutshell, here's what I've learned over the past week:

1) Vacation is super fun
2) Hiking in rivers is even more fun
3) When you leave for vacation, people Tim will come and fix your house for you
4) Not having to do the work and having it still get done is awesome
5) We should go on vacation more often

10.13.2011

faq

Real questions we've gotten recently about life, our fast-approaching half marathon and the never-ending house project.


Why have you been so bad about blogging?
Yeah, so, there's that. It's one of "those" stretches of weeks where I just cannot get on top of the ever-growing to-do list. Plus we've had exceptionally gorgeous weather lately, and I love ya'll, but I know that another horrible Minnesota winter is coming quickly so I'm soaking up as much sunshine as I can while it lasts. That and half marathon training has been taking what little energy I have left over AND SQUASHING IT COMPLETELY.

Example of squashed energy.
Not productive, but makes for a super cute photo ops.

I didn't know you liked running! How's training going?
Funny you should mention that. I don't actually like running, but Nick and I decided last year that we wanted to run the Monster Dash this year, and, well, here we are. Training is going pretty well, but squeezing a long run (usually 9-11 miles) into the weekend has proven to be a lot harder then we thought it would be. It's definitely impacted our work on the house and our overall energy levels, so while I'm excited for the race, I'm even more excited to be done with the crazy-long runs. I've also been experiencing some rather significant posterior shin splints, (plus hip pain) so running is actually quite painful. Super fun, right? But honestly, it is exciting because I've never been a runner but I've always wanted to be able to run. I ran the first full mile of my adult life last Fall and now I'm headed towards a half marathon! It's exciting, just really draining. And painful.

After our 7k in March. Racing is addicting.


Are you done with the house yet?
Next question.

(Side note: this is the most popular question from everyone we know right now. Super fun to answer that one every day.)

When are you going to be done with the house?
Nick has been saying he wants to have it done by New Years Eve since, well, last New Years Eve. Keep you fingers and toes crossed that it doesn't snow (much) between now and then so we don't lose too many weekends of work. (Nick gets called in to work if it snows. And we live in Minnesota, so that happens A LOT.) Honestly, we're hoping to pick up the pace quite a bit once the race is over and we can re-dedicate our full weekends to the house. Except then we'll have nothing to blame for our lack of progress. Dang it.

Do you wish you hadn't started this project?
No. It's been a really long and drug out process, thanks to an over-packed Spring and Summer. I'm sick of having the entire main level torn apart and making it impossible to have the house look put together, BUT we're both 100% convinced this was a project worth taking on. We love the new layout of the rooms and we're really excited to put the kitchen back together and see how it all works. It's been difficult and draining but we already know it was worth it. Plus, we'll have insulation this winter, which was the reason we started this process in the first place!

I'm really looking forward to NOT having all of our furniture 
shoved into a corner of the living room.

So there's the quick update on 5 questions we hear all the time. If you've got a burning question we didn't answer leave us a note! We're always happy to provide the juicy details on our super exciting life.

10.06.2011

do I need to seal these?


You’ve probably noticed that we’ve been painting cabinets. My coworkers have been noticing too, since I’ve been showing up to the office with paint still on my hands and in my hair. Classy, you guys, I like to keep it classy.

The painting process has been incredibly simple…and yet incredibly time consuming. We kicked things off by giving everything a good sanding. A really good sanding. We had around 60 years of gunk to sand off in some places.

After the gloss and gunk were gone I vacuumed them out with our trusty shop-vac. Then I wiped them all down with a wet cloth.
And then – paint! Well, primer. We used Behr’s water-based primer, as recommended by our local Home Depot pro. Other than one cabinet with radioactive spots inside it, the water-based did the trick. And the smell is much less offensive than the oil-based, so I’m really glad we went that route. I used a small (1”) brush to cut in, getting paint into all the corners and crevices. Then I followed it up with a 4” foam roller. One coat of primer and we were ready for paint!
 
Like I mentioned before, we decided to go with Behr’s Swiss Coffee for the cabinets. We used the satin finish, again thanks to our friendly pro at the Depot. While people often choose the Semi-Gloss finish, he mentioned that with a lot of lights in the kitchen the semi-gloss can actually reflect too much light and make things too shiny. Since that wasn’t quite the look we wanted we went with his recommendation and used satin instead.

I’ll let you know if that was a good choice once the kitchen is done. You know, next week. (La la la, I can’t hear you, la la la )

We ended up doing 1 coat of primer and 3 coats of paint on each of the cabinets. The shelves soaked up the paint a little more and we ended up doing just 1 coat of primer and 1 coat of paint. I think we were slapping it on a little thicker at that point, because, yay! Done!

So that brings us to today. Everything’s painted…but I haven’t sealed it. Some people say seal, some people say no sealing required. Anybody have some expertise to send our way? (Bonus points if you say don’t seal it. I’d like to be all done now)

10.03.2011

the weekend of awesome

We had a pretty awesome weekend. My parents came over on Saturday and proceeded to hack through our to-do list like it was no big deal. Their energy and we-can-do-this was exactly what our disillusioned selves needed. 

Mom and I tackled the kitchen cabinets. We finished painting all the (upper) cabinets and got all the shelves painted.  

Exhibit A: painted shelves

Exhibit B: Cabinets. Painted. (cue: oooooo, ahhhhhhh)

More painted cabinets:

Now, you might be wondering, what's standing between you and getting these cabinets reattached to the wall? Why, nothing! Which is why I've been asking Nick if we can go ahead and re-attach them. Every 5 minutes. Apparently he wants a third person here so we don't drop them on our toes. Details. 


While Mom and I were slapping paint on cabinets, Nick and Dad were down in the basement re-attaching pipes to the boiler.

 I don't think I've really mentioned this, but two weeks ago we went ahead and tore out all of the boiler pipes in the basement. Meaning, we can't actually turn on our heat, because all we would do is flood the basement. And the house would still be cold.

The boiler pipes were much big for the boiler, which means there was way too much water in the system. The boiler was working so hard just trying to heat it all up and get it through the system, and on the coldest days of the year we would just watch the thermostat drop, even while the boiler was running. Plus? Crazy expensive.

So, we're replacing the 2.5" pipes with 1" pipe. We're also moving the pipes up into the joist space instead of having it hang down into the basement. Which means we could put a real ceiling in the basement, if we ever wanted to finish it.

Exhibit....whatever we're on...NEW PIPES!

The men got all of the supply pipes run. All of them. Nick still has a couple of return lines to run and then we'll have heat. Which is good, because we got down to 30-some-odd degrees the other night.

So yeah, it was an awesome weekend. We're trying to figure out how we can con my parents into coming over every single day, because then I think we might actually finish this project in the next year.

Seriously. Mom & Dad, you were exactly what we needed this weekend. Thank you SO MUCH for all your work and help and encouragement. We love you two.

Stolen from Facebook.
This is not actually our backyard. Which is a bummer.

ps - We have a winner! Our 3M Giveaway winner is comment #5 - Stephanie from Second Chances. Stephanie, shoot us an email (theflippingcouple(at)gmail(dot)com) to claim your prize!