Tuesday, December 6, 2016

What I Wish the Teachers Saw

I know I haven't updated my blog in forever. Life man, life. Between 4 kids, 2 jobs, I ran 2 marathons this year, just so busy. But something has been weighing on my mind the past several days so I thought I'd come here and let it out.
So just a quick bit of background. I have 4 kids, 11, 7, 5 and 2. Child number 3 started kindergarten this year. Child number 1, P and child number 3, K, they are my easy kids. They pick up on things easily, they don't struggle in school, they are friendly and outgoing, they have always been the kids that the teachers gush about, with the "Child is a joy to have in class!". P was Student of the Month in October of this year and K was Student of the Month in November. Pretty awesome right?

And then there is M. M is 7 and in 2nd grade. M struggles with school. She's been behind in reading since they started keeping track(which is actually in kindergarten, but don't get me started there). She gets extra help. She has an IEP for speech issues which her teachers usually use to work in extra help in class. It's been hinted at that she may have ADHD but she's never been so much of an issue where we've felt intervention is necessary. She is a handful at home. She is chatty and easily distracted at school. You know the kid who will talk to anyone in class no matter where you sit them? That's her.
When K came home at the end of last week with her Student of the Month certificate at the end of last week, M made a comment about never being chosen. That's when it hit me. All of the awards ceremonies I've sat through, for academics and character, Student of the Month, math and reading awards, even the lowly Perfect Attendance award, not once has M ever been honored. And that hurt me, for her. I'm not one for generic awards, participation trophies, perfect attendance celebrations. But it pains me to watch her watch her classmates and siblings, quarter after quarter, be recognized for things she struggles with. Here's what I wish people, her teachers, saw.
M has a fire inside her that her well recognized siblings don't. When she wants something or sets her mind to something, there is no stopping her. While her 11 year old brother can barely ride a bike because he's always been so afraid he'll fall, M decided one day at 6 years old to pick up a bike and keep trying until she was riding on her own. You know those commercials and tv shows where a parent keeps their hand on their child's bike and runs behind them as their child finally goes off on their own? That wasn't us. With no parental involvement, she just kept trying and trying and in just a couple of hours she was riding a bike like a pro. She was dedicated and never afraid she would fall, only determined to succeed.
She is a hard worker. While she does struggle with academics, it's not for lack of trying. Being a runner, I've tried to get my kids involved with me when I run. With P, it's usually not worth the whining I'll hear. He'll try to run a mile with me and start huffing and puffing and complaining and dragging his feet within the first 2 minutes. Not M. I took her with me for 2-3 mile runs over the summer while she was on her bike and even when she started getting tired, especially going up hills, she never complained, she just focused and worked harder.
She is head strong and stubborn. Yes, a lot of times I'm not exactly jumping for joy over this trait. She's been demanding and impatient and doing things on her own time, she waits for nobody, since the day of her birth. M was born on the bathroom floor at home because I didn't make it to the hospital. So she's done things on her watch since she was born. But this means she's more independent than other kids her age and sometimes even her older brother. She learned how to make many of her own foods because she didn't feel like waiting on us to do it for her. She's gotten homework done on her own before because she wanted to have it done and didn't want to wait for us to sit and help her with it. She stands up for herself if she thinks she's been slighted. She doesn't take no for an answer.

So as M is looked over for academic awards because of her struggles and her chatterbox ways keep that Student of the Month honor out of her reach, I wish her teachers could look outside of the box, where the well behaved child who follows directions and helps out the teacher and other kids, who picks up reading and does well on math tests sits, and see that this little fire ball has a lot to offer. She's going to break glass ceilings some day. She's going to climb mountains because the fire inside of her burns hot. I have no intentions of trying to extinguish that fire so she can score herself an award, but it won't stop me from hurting for her when she wonders what all of these other kids are doing right and what she is doing wrong.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Life With a Spica Cast-The First 6 Weeks

Adjusting to the spica cast was not fun for my little girl(or me), but it happened quickly. We had to modify a lot. You don't realize how much it will affect your life until it's on. Like a politician, we had to pass the bill before we could find out what was in the bill. In the days leading up to her first surgery and her cast, I got overwhelmed with reading about it and what we'd need and how to manage. My brain just shut off and I decided to take it easy on supplies until the cast was on. I'm really glad I did.

Sleep was pretty hard to come by for the first 10 days or so. I required a lot of this.
Number one supply you'll need with a child in a spica cast: coffee
My little girl was always a tummy and side sleeper. There weren't enough pillows to put her on to make her happy on her back, so for the first 4-5 days, she was up every 30-60 minutes. It got slightly better after that, but she was up every 1-2 hours, which was still pretty bad. Finally, out of desperation I put her on her belly to sleep. We saw a whole lot of improvement. We still had bad nights, but it wasn't a nightly thing.

Our high chair became a thing of the past. With her legs casted as wide as they were, just like her car seat, she didn't fit. We came across a pretty awesome alternative(and cheap too!) called a TotSeat. A few pillows on one of the dining room chairs and the TotSeat and we were in business. She could join as at the table.
Extra pillows definitely came in handy. Thank goodness I'm a pillow hoarder. Two for under her when eating, extra pillows in bed, extra pillows when laying on the floor. Our trusty Boppy pillow was a big help too.
Diapering got much easier as I got the hang of it. All of the stuff I read online really blew it out or proportion, making it seem like a bigger chore than it really is. People recommended using things like spatulas to get the small diaper up the cast, they even make tools to help, but all of this was overkill. Thank goodness I didn't spend any money on that stuff. I can fit my hands up the cast just fine to stuff the inner diaper on. It was no time flat before I could manage diaper changes in 3 minutes or so, with nothing extra needed. It just involves some extra flipping and stuffing. We did have a few blowouts but God bless Gore-Tex lining. It took a lot of baby wipes but they were easily managed.

Miss Thang proved how resilient babies are. Within 5 days of having her cast put on, she was crawling again. Within a week, she was pulling herself to standing again. She could entertain herself again, crawling to her toys, so something fancy like a spica table wasn't needed.
With it being summer, we were pretty much home bound. We can't go out shopping or out to eat much because she doesn't fit into standard highchairs or in the front of shopping carts. We did manage to get out to the store once, but we had to lay her down in the back of the cart with pillows, leaving zero space for the things you need to buy. Plus people can't see the baby in the cart and they think you are talking to your groceries and it kind of freaks them out.
Two weeks after having her cast put on, we went in for a check and x-rays, to make sure her leg was good and in place. So far, so good, everything looked great.
We took advantage of having her legs immobilized and gave her her first pedicure.
Aside from having to stay at home and having issues with sleep(and let's be honest, she's been a horrible sleeper since birth so this wasn't exactly a huge change), we all adapted very well. The first 6 weeks flew by without any incident, and we were scheduled for our first cast change after those 6 weeks were up.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Spica Cast Day 1

After being diagnosed with hip dysplasia, my 10 month old daughter was scheduled to have a closed reduction to put her femur bone into proper position in relation to her under developed hip socket, an arthrogram(an injection of dye into her hip and series of x-rays), the placement of her spica cast and an MRI to make sure there was no remaining tissue in the way that may keep the femur bone out of place. All this would be done under general anesthesia.

Her surgery time was scheduled for 12:30 pm. This set us up for a bit of a miserable day. The baby wasn't allowed to have anything other than clear liquids after 4:30am, and for a girl who loves to nurse through the night, she was definitely not pleased. We spent the morning trying to keep her occupied. It took lots of bath time(she loves bath time) and lots of baby wearing to get her to nap(since she also likes to nurse to sleep.

Our hospital arrival time was 10:30 am. We got to the hospital and got checked in. We went through all of the paper work, while trying to keep a now very pissed off baby happy. We spoke with our orthopedic surgeon and the anesthesiologist and picked her cast color(naturally). The OR was running a bit ahead of schedule, so they were going to be able to take her in early. She was given a dose of Versed to calm her down. This worked very well.
Once this kicked in, a nurse came to take her from us. While I was nervous and rather snappy at this point, I held up ok. We were taken to the waiting room. Since I'm a nursing mother and had to pump while she was in surgery, we were given a private waiting room(thank goodness, because the main waiting room was packed!). The waiting began. The surgery itself was scheduled to take around an hour, then her MRI another hour or so. We headed down to the cafeteria for lunch, and took it back up to our private waiting room. Bonus, this was our first kid free meal, just the two of us, since before the baby was born. Score one for a lunch date?
We waited and waited some more. Finally, around 2:30, the orthopedic surgeon came in to speak with us. The reduction went well and her leg went back into place very well. He didn't expect any issues with the MRI. We went back to waiting for the MRI to finish. This seemed to take forever, or just over an hour in waiting mother terms. Finally they came to get us to take us to her recovery room. The MRI was clean. She was still asleep when we got to her.
She slept for another 30 minutes and then started to wake up. Thankfully she woke up very easily(one of my other children tends to not wake up so happy when put under). She was confused at first so I picked her up to let her nurse immediately. Luckily she took right to it so she stayed calm, for then. The cast went up to her chest and went down both legs. I was a bit disappointed, as the doctor had said he would only fully cast one leg, the affected leg. He later explained that he didn't want to chance the other leg being free to move the bad leg out of place.

We were given the choice of being discharged that day or staying over night. I chose to have her stay over night. I was lost. I had no clue how to handle her or change her diaper. I felt better being in the hospital. When they moved her to her room from recovery, things went south.
She was not happy. She was attached to things and she wanted to move, but didn't understand why she couldn't. It's a very helpless feeling. She kept trying to roll over but only her upper body would twist a bit. She seemed like she was in a bit of pain, so once we got checked in, they ordered her Lortab. While we waited for that, we attempted our first diaper change. With the help of two nurses, I was able to manage this in under 20 minutes. She got two diapers now, the first, a smaller one, gets stuffed up the front and back of the cast, in the large hole in the middle. This involves wiping her clean, flipping her to her stomach to shove the diaper up, flipping her back over to shove the diaper up the front, and then putting a larger sized diaper on the outside to hold everything in. While complicated at first, it got much easier with practice.

They were able to detach her from all of her wires, I was able to find Doc McStuffins on the hospital tv(don't judge, you put your baby in such a large cast and then try to keep her happy and occupied in a hospital bed), and she settled down. My husband left to get our three older kids, and we were on our own for the night.
With the help of the Lortab, she was able to sleep. I settled in the best I could on the hospital couch. She slept for a few hours and then was up crying. I had little choice but to squeeze myself into the hospital crib to nurse her laying down, to get her back to sleep. She repeated this several times through the night, until I changed her diaper around 4 am and another dose of Lortab was required. When morning rolled around, she was in a much better mood, once again with the help of Disney Jr.
We tried our hand at some tummy time, which she seemed comfy in.
I sought out coffee, precious coffee. Luckily for me, the family room right next to our room had a Keurig machine and was well stocked with coffee. Discharge papers were prepared. My husband arrived with our other kids around 10am. He brought in her car seat, which she unfortunately did not fit in due to the width of her legs and the angle of her back. Once again, luckily the hospital had us covered. They were able to score us a free Britax Hippo car seat, specifically made for kids in spica casts. Thanks to government grants, they are able to give them to parents who need them(otherwise it would have cost us about $500). So thanks Obama! We were given all of our paperwork, and sent on our way with our much heavier and bulkier baby.
And thus begins life in a spica cast.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Wide World of Hip Dysplasia

I know I use this blog primarily to record my fitness journey. Sporadically, but yeah. And would you know, I'm actually back in the game? I've started a half training plan, because I'm registered for 4 half marathons this fall. This is all to prepare me for my first FULL marathon in January. Big deals. But at this point, this isn't what consumes my life.

We've entered the land of hip dysplasia. And it's kind of a big deal apparently. First, what is hip dysplasia?
"The hip is a "ball-and-socket" joint. In a normal hip, the ball at the upper end of the thighbone (femur) fits firmly into the socket, which is part of the large pelvis bone. In babies and children with developmental dysplasia (dislocation) of the hip (DDH), the hip joint has not formed normally. The ball is loose in the socket and may be easy to dislocate."

Every 1-2 months, we went to our well baby check with the littlest squishy, with no troubles. I'd watched our doctor perform the hip rotation exam on each of my children as they grew. I honestly paid no attention and had no clue what she was checking for, I just knew it was done and nothing was mentioned. That was until baby girl's 9 month appointment. I watched her rotate her hip, and noticed her leg pop. She repeated this several times, and she noticed the pop each time. Red flags went up. She mentioned dislocation, and I was confused. BG hasn't had any falls or trauma. She has met all of her milestones right on time, with no issues crawling, pulling to stand and now cruising furniture. She showed no signs of being in pain. The popping had never been noticed before either. Our doctor referred us to a pediatric orthopedic doctor. I blew it off. Clearly this had to be nothing.

I did remember my mom talking about me being in a brace for hip issues as an infant. I checked with her, and I had DDH, it was caught very early and I was in a harness for 6 weeks. I looked into it, and while it said this is thought to be genetic and affects more girls than boys, I still didn't worry about it. Surely BG would show some kind of sign of something being wrong aside from one hip popping at 9 months old.

We finally had our orthopedic consultation on her 10 month birthday. They checked her hips, and noticed the popping. They took her for X-Rays. We waited for the doctor to come in, with the X-Ray on the screen. I could see it. Having never seen a hip X-Ray, I could clearly see that the top of her left leg was not next to the hip socket like the other leg was. In fact, there wasn't even that much of a hip socket, like the other side had. I knew it was coming. I sat as they told me she had DDH, or hip dysplasia. They explained that if left untreated, she may walk abnormally and would eventually grow to wear out the bones, requiring hip replacements through adulthood. Ok, we can deal with this. They said that as young infants, they can use a special harness to correct this issue. But after 6 months of age, it's harder to treat and they have to be more aggressive. She would require a special spica cast. Ok, this is getting harder to deal with.
The cast itself is huge. She won't be able to move around in it. BG is a highly independent and mobile baby. She may adjust enough to crawl somewhat at some point. By the time the began to explain the procedure, I had started to cry.

This is basically an operation. They have to put her under general anesthesia. They will inject a dye into her hip and do an MRI. They will then do what's called a reduction. Best case, it's called a closed reduction, and can nestle her leg into the hip socket by moving her leg from the outside. If it doesn't cooperate, they will have to do an open reduction, meaning an incision to guide the bones into place. Once this is done, they will put a cast on her, like the one you see above. This keeps her in a frog position to encourage the hip to develop properly and for the bone to secure itself into place.

She will keep this cast on for 6 weeks. Then they have to repeat the process. Put her under, take the cast off, check her development, move things as needed, and put a new cast back on. That cast stays on for another 6 weeks. Then they check her again, she may need a 3rd cast for another 6 weeks, she may need even longer than that, she may only need those 12 weeks. After that they put on a different kind of brace to wean her off of that positioning. It's a long process. It's a complicated process. It's a pain in the ass.

I'm a planner by nature. I am also able to roll with the punches pretty well. Last year, we went through 2 broken bones with 2 kids 6 weeks apart. The second break, courtesy of my 6 year old, was a complicated break. It happened 3 days before Christmas and required surgery and pins. I dealt with this just fine. This time, I am not dealing as well. It's just not as simple.

All the cute summer outfits I bought BG? They won't fit around her cast. There is a chance she will not fit into her car seat either. We know she won't fit into her high chair. I now know she won't be able to sleep flat on her back. Diapering her will become a feat of strength, agility and patience. She is going to be one pissed off baby. I feel like I'm very lost in terms of her aftercare. I need to plan for it to feel some kind of control over the situation, and not having that leaves me feeling rather sick.

I've scoured the internet and found a few things that deal with this issue in babies, but none of it is laid out simply. So here I am. To keep track of our progress and our lives. Maybe someday someone will come across this and find it helpful. At the very least, maybe it will help me keep my sanity. If not, well, I will have to turn to running and booze.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Cooper River Bridge Run 10k Race Report

For the past couple of years, I have watched local friends head down to Charleston, SC for the Cooper River Bridge Run, which is a 10k that goes over the Ravenel Bridge, almost 3 miles long, across the Cooper River. It's one of the largest 10ks around and it looked like fun. Several months ago, I, along with DisBroad Amy and our friend Wendy, signed up for this race. We planned a girl's trip, and after months and months of no sleep and running myself ragged with 4 kids, it was much needed.

Amy and Wendy were coming together, and I was heading down by myself. After many traffic jams and Apple Maps routing me to the airport instead of our hotel, I finally met up with Amy and Wendy at our hotel. Amy unknowingly picked an awesome hotel, which was actually attached to the convention center where the expo was being held. The lines to pick up our bibs and swag were short and we made a quick circle around the expo. The vendors were standard, and the official merchandise left a lot to be desired, so we didn't buy anything. One thing the expo did have was FREE alcohol samples. Wine and mix drinks we were sure to hit up each spot.
Unfortunately, the fact that I've been pregnant and nursing for well over a year, just a few tiny cups of wine was enough for me to sign up for another half marathon without hesitation.
I justify this by telling myself I'm scheduled for 14 miles that weekend for marathon training, so I might as well earn a medal for it.

After the expo, we headed back to our hotel, because they were having a free happy hour before we were to head for dinner. More free drinks, shut up and take my money!
After our drinks, we headed to an awesome little seafood restaurant called Fleet Landing in south Charleston, right on the water. Our waiter Lucas paid quite the attention to detail, and we had a phenomenal meal. Or maybe it was just phenomenal to me because I eat most of my meals either holding a baby, nursing a baby or shoving baby food into a baby's mouth between my own bites. Either way, we had a lot of laughs, we ate, and headed back to our hotel to turn in for the night. While we didn't have our standard 2:30 am Disney race wakeup call, 5 am would come early enough.

And 5am did come early enough. We woke up, and got ready. My race day preparation also included having to pump, but we were still out the door by 6am, to head to the buses. It. Was. Cold. We didn't have to wait long for a bus and we were able to sit in the warmth again.
It took about 30 minutes to get to our drop point, which was quite a ways from the corrals. Just like Disney, we walked at least half a mile to get to our corral, corral B. We arrived in time for the singing of the National Anthem, although we still had a good 30 minutes or more before the race start. They had men with large American flags parachuting down, which was a cool sight to see.
Then came more waiting. Did I mention it was cold? Because it was. I sat huddled with a heat sheet wrapped around me. Thank heavens Amy was prepared and brought extra.
Finally 8am rolled around and the race was starting. By this point the sun was warming us up enough, but the jackets and blankets runners in front of us had left on the fences sure looked tempting. I resisted the urge to take strange articles of clothing from unknown people long enough for our race to begin. We started in Mount Pleasant. Right after starting we passed by some of the very few costumed runners, a Jamaican bobsled team.
Carrying a cardboard bobsled for 6.2 miles, that's dedication!

We crossed over Shem Creek. Charleston is an absolutely gorgeous city on the ocean!
We made our way towards the bridge. The bridge itself is 4km long, so close to 3 miles. The first half of the bridge is uphill, so over 1 mile going up. Add in the cold and the wind, and while the bridge itself was beautiful, and we were ready to "get over it".

While there was plenty of entertainment to be found on the bridge, one thing that was not found was a bathroom. Still recovering from giving birth to a 5th baby, this was not pleasant. When we were finally over the bridge, restrooms were the first thing we sought out. Until we saw donuts. There on the side of the road as soon as we were getting ready to turn off of the bridge and onto another road, was a wonderful man with boxes and boxes of donuts, handing them out to the runners.
This was the beginning of the AMAZING crowd support from the end of the bridge until the end of the race. Right past the very welcomed donut stop were the bathrooms. And right past the bathrooms was pizza and water. More food. A generous business over with boxes and boxes of warm pizza. We took a slice and a bottle of water. We kept on, but this is where our real fun began. Amy and I, much to Wendy's dismay, have a thing for photo ops. So I made new friends.
Amy and I showed off our hot legs.

At this point, Wendy was over our antics and so we continued on. I admired the gorgeous buildings along the way.

I also admired the man dressed in a full lizard suit. Again, dedication.
It wasn't far from the finish from that point, on Meeting Street.
After we finished we headed to Marion Square where they had food and beverages. I grabbed a snack and parted ways with Amy and Wendy. They wanted to enjoy the festivities(and stalk American Idol winner Taylor Hicks) and I needed to get back to our room to pump. The woes of a nursing runner.

After they finished up and I got the room packed up to leave, we met again and headed for lunch. A restaurant called the Tattooed Moose was recommended to me, so that's where we headed.
We each had a celebratory drink and lunch. Holy wow was lunch amazing. I had the Duck Club and it may have easily been the best sandwich I've ever had in my life.
Before we left, I made sure to make our mark on the very well loved walls of the Tattooed Moose.
With that, we parted ways, and I fought traffic back home, back to reality. My 3rd child was turning 4 the following day so I hustled back to get cupcakes made. Although I was only gone for a little over 24 hours, it was really refreshing.

So my thoughts on this race:
The race was well put on. We never had issues with the expo, race day transportation, communication, or any issues during the race. Given the fact that this is a large race(over 40,000 runners) and it's going on close to 40 years since it started, they've had time to perfect it. The city of Charleston is gorgeous, a wonderful destination without a race weekend(I've already told my husband I'd like to come back, with the family) and the bridge itself is stunning. The crowd support was probably the best I've ever seen. Thousands of people cheering, people handing out food along the course, lots of bands and music playing. The entertainment before the race was lacking, but this wasn't an issue after the race got started. The finish area and Marion Square could have been more organized. It was extremely crowded, and kind of a free for all. We had to wade through the crowd to get to the food. Many other races I've done are much more effective in getting post race snacks and drinks to the runners. Otherwise, I'd definitely do this race again. It was so much fun!


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Disney's Princess 1/2 Marathon 2015 Race Report

Three weeks ago, I participated in my 3rd Princess 1/2 marathon. But waittttttt, you say. I've been reading your blog, you've been struggling with any form of exercise since you had your baby. And I will nod and point to my nose like we are playing charades.

I'm going to put a big fat disclaimer first. Do not do what I did. I cannot and would not recommend attempting a half marathon with little training. Just because I did doesn't mean you should. Just don't.

So, onto the report. This race weekend was tricky for me, aside from the whole lack of training. This was my first race weekend with my family. Back in November of last year, I got the itch. The itch to do this race. My first two years running it were marked by injury, this race has always been kind of cursed for me, but it was my first half and my first Disney race, so I have a soft spot for it. With the baby being too young to leave for a girl's weekend, I knew my only chance of getting there was a family trip. Luckily my husband loves me and spoils me and was glad to oblige.

We headed down to Walt Disney World early Friday morning.
After lots of stop for going to the bathroom, nursing the baby, and hitting lovely rush hour traffic in Orlando, we finally arrived just in time to check into our resort(Port Orleans Riverside) and get me to the expo. I strapped on the baby and hustled in to grab my bib and swag.
I didn't get to spend much time at the expo(4 kids put a major damper on expo shopping), so we headed back to our resort for dinner and an early bed time.

Saturday we planned to spend the day at Hollywood Studios. It wasn't a hard park to manage and the kids had fun. My 3 year old loved the Disney Jr. show and she was over the moon meeting her favorite, Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates. While there, we upgraded our tickets to annual passes. Holla!!
We had a great day and capped it off with dinner at the 50s Prime Time Cafe.

I will be honest, I wasn't extremely thrilled with this restaurant. My food(the fried chicken) was good but my husband didn't care for his pot roast, and our server wasn't as into her role as others we saw at other tables. But I was able to carb up with this bad boy.
We headed back to our room after dinner, as I was planning to head to another resort with a couple of other DisBroads to stay the night, in an attempt to get a few solid hours of sleep, without the baby waking me to nurse, and so I didn't wake my family when I needed to get up at 2:30 in the morning to get ready for the race. After a shower and getting all my stuff together, I headed to the Saratoga Springs resort for a sleepover with Kristen and Suzanne.
We got to bed and my wakeup call came way too early, but I'm used to that by now. We had our coffee and got ready. Being a nursing mom, I had extra things to do, like pumping before getting ready, and packing my breast pump away into my checked gear bag, so I had it as soon as the race was over(you know you are a bad ass mother runner when you check your breast pump before your half marathon). We went with group running costumes this time and we all dressed as characters from Finding Nemo. I was Darla(she's a fish killer!).
A few of us had entrance to Race Retreat. Race Retreat is a pretty awesome tent you can pay to get into before races. It isn't cheap but it can definitely be worth it, especially in extreme weather conditions. While it was a nice treat this time, the weather was nice and it wouldn't have been the end of the world to go without it. Had it been cold or raining, it would have been worth it's weight in gold. It's a large tent with tables and chairs. There are areas you can meet characters(which I did not, because lines), food(bagels and some fruits before the race), stretching areas, private porta-potties and of course, coffee.
We got together before the race to get our group pictures.

And we began our lonngggggg walk to our corrals. I was in corral E but fell back to G to hang with Patty and Julie,  because I would be doing a lot of walking, I decided to stick with them. It was nice because for the past two years, I've run completely on my own, which made things rather boring. Hanging with these girls would not be boring.
We waited our turn and set off, marching to the beat of our favorite NSYNC member, Mr. Justin Timberlake(although I was always a JC Chazez girl). We maintain 15:45 second intervals and it was a nice pace. I felt decent.
The weather was nice, it wasn't as warm and muggy as it had been in previous years. We got through the first several miles and got to Magic Kingdom. Even having done it twice before, it's still an awesome feeling coming into this park and rounding the corner onto Main Street USA, towards the castle.
We got to Tomorrowland and started seeking out bathrooms. We found bathrooms and I found Prince. This man was my absolute favorite part of this race. His costume and sign were perfection. I was obviously still very committed to my braces.

After the bathroom, I tried my hand at the sword(no luck).
And then we hit the castle.

We got past the castle and through Frontierland.
Then it was out of the park, 6 miles in. It was time to what I like to call the doldrums of the Princess 1/2 Marathon. The calm period of the race that seems to trap you. The rush that is Magic Kingdom is over, the course narrows and you have a lot more trouble moving. People ignore common runner courtesy and basic safety practices. The crowds are gone, until you pass by the Grand Floridian Resort are, and after that, you hit the stretched of road from miles 8-10 where you are just ready to be done. By this point, my legs were starting to feel like lead. I wasn't hurting luckily. Patty ran ahead while we stopped and waited for the princes.
From that point until mile 10, things dragged by. They've always dragged by during this stretch, trained or untrained. Finally, we hit the on ramp after mile 10. I saw this.
So I did. I was ready to be done. To be honest, the worst part at that point was not my lack of training, it was my lack of nursing. Any mother who has nursed knows, if you go past due and don't feed something, whether it be a pump or a baby, well you don't just stop filling up. You keep making milk. Here's a big dose of truth. My breasts were full and like boulders and it painful. I caught up to Patty heading up that on ramp and this is when I decided it was just time to go. I needed to get to the finish line, where my baby and my breast pump were going to be waiting. I decided to go ahead, no more stopping and running as much as I could. The sun was out and it was warm. I hit mile 11 and headed towards Epcot, knowing I was in the clear in terms of being swept, which was a relief. I was texting my husband to make sure he would be at the finish. I had grand ideas of having my family there in the weeks leading up to the race, but now all I could focus on was getting to the baby.

I finally made it into Epcot. This picture sums it up. Hot. Sunny.
I made the long march to the Seven Seas Lagoon and back around. Past the choir(which always makes me tear up a little) and to the finish. I finished the race in 3:42, which was actually a heck of a lot faster than last year(pregnant and injured). I found my husband(and the baby) and headed back to Race Retreat, as they have a private bag check. They also had food. It was quite the site. Carrying a baby, barely able to stand, stuffing sausage patties in my face while trying to keep the grabby 6 month old from stealing my grub. I got my bag and headed to the baby station tent. One thing I want to commend Disney on is their placement of a baby station tent right outside of the finish area. While I certainly wasn't the only nursing mother on the course, I'm sure there weren't tons of us. But they thought ahead and had a place for us to nurse/change/care for our babies right outside of the finish area. I hurried in and nursed the baby. Sweet relief!

We were spending the day at Epcot, so we went back to the van so I could get myself together a bit more before heading to the park.
So my thoughts on the race. One thing I noticed this year was that Disney cut way back on the on course entertainment. Character stops seemed fewer. A lot of the supporting cast entertainment was missing. But as usual, it was amazing to finish. My lack of training left me feeling wiped out after the race. After I got out of Race Retreat, holding my bag and my baby, looking for my husband, I could no long. I just couldn't even. I literally sat down on the ground and couldn't get up. I did have a bit of hip pain that lasted for a few days, as well as pain in one of my feet. It wasn't horrible but my lack of training was obvious. This picture sums up how I felt after the race.
Lesson learned, train!