Monday, December 28, 2009

The Pretentious Christmas Letter of '09

So, it's no big mystery, that I love to write. As I try so hard to condense an entire year into one letter, I tend to go long. Doubtfully the rest of the world cares that much about what we did this year, but they get the letter whether they want it or not. So, for your reading pleasure as well, I present the Hansen Family Christmas Letter of 2009. Merry Christmas Everyone!

Every year we get to this point and decide whether to scrap the Christmas card and letter or not. It always feels like there's just not enough time. So far, we've decided to push through and make it happen one way or another. (Hopefully for your reading pleasure)
If that grammatically incorrect statement above is any indicator of this season, it would be safe to say that it accurately describes our whole year. Hectic, busy, and going on ahead with it despite the chaos! It's been a crazy year. A year of many firsts, many triumphs, a few defeats, and more blessings than we could ever deserve.
Age before beauty, right? Well, if that's so then you can hear about my year in a nutshell first. I, Lacy, have had a great year. I've continued my journey as a "stay-at-home-mom," or "SAHM," as the "cool kids" say. This has included a winter and spring semester of half day pre-k and a full summer off with Judah. Together we savored our last sweet days alone, before the big first day of school arrived in August. We continued to fill our days with the art museum, the library, the water center, the YMCA, the zoo, and any other community event I could get my hands on. I will say that as a SAHM, I've never been good at staying in, but I think Judah and I are better off due to that fact. While Judah and the home have technically been my "job" for the last 6 years, my "hobby" of running hasn't ceased. In fact it's grown to new heights. So much so that one could argue it's my other job now. 2009 brought many wonderful accomplishments in my running life. After years of dreaming to qualify for the Boston Marathon, I'm happy to report that I not only qualified once, but twice in 2009. An unimaginable goal of running a sub- 3:40 marathon in order to meet the Boston Athletic Association's requirements was something I had been chasing for quite some time. 2008 got me close, but left me with a stress fracture just days before the race. After a season of healing and proper training. I crossed the finish line at the 2009 Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon on April 26 in a time of 3:37. I was able to celebrate that long desired dream with my entire family. My Dad even was able to run in the last few emotional miles with me. It was a spectacular day. That race left me with a year of running success. Breaking 20 minutes in a 5k, setting multiple Personal Records (PR's), being the first place overall female finisher in the Jingle Bell 4 Miler, and even winning my first cash prize. See, now you really can call it my "other job." The fall brought me yet another joy in my career. I trained and ran the 2009 Heart Of Wichita Marathon. I was able to better my BQ time by several minutes. I finished the 26.2 mile course in 3:19. I'm happy to report that I'm registered for the historic Boston Marathon in 2010. Lord willing, On April 19, I will celebrate Patriot's Day by running the most famous marathon in the whole world. Kenton and Judah will be waiting for me on Boylston Street in front of the Boston Public Library. Kenton will be there to cheer for me, Judah's going to be there because he heard they have ice cream in Boston.
To say I feel blessed is a watered down, lazy, and overused expression. I'm overwhelmed, speechless infact. I have been given a tremendous gift. A supportive husband who encourages me to go after my dreams. A beautiful son who has blown me a kiss at every finish line I've ever crossed. A family who shows up in the freezing cold, the pouring rain, and the howling wind to cheer me on. And mostly a God who is faithful to give his child the desire of her heart. I have had an indescribable year.
Kenton should really be the author of his story, but he's busy at work right now and would probably never get around to it. So, you get me telling you his story of 2009. The short version, he works a lot in the computer/interweb geek biz, supports his wife during her weekend running career, and plays with Judah until mommy says, "Stop!! You guys are going to break something!"
Kenton has had a lot of change with his career this year. Taking on new areas of the web development world has presented it's many challenges. I know that some days he tells about these challenges specifically, but I don't understand then, so there's no way I could regurgitate them now. I do know that he moved on from his previous company, Thrive, and has just begun his new adventure with "Go Banana." (All you Simpson's fans out there should get a kick out of that name!) Currently Kenton is out on his own, offcing in the historic Delano District of Wichita. He's interwebing and coding with all his heart and comes home very excited about the future of his company.
Other than the consuming work he does to provide for us, he does have some other areas of interest. 2009 brought a surge among the dodgeball community in Wichita. I'm sure Kenton is 99% responsible for that. He has spent most of his Saturday mornings dodging, ducking, diving, dipping, and dodging those red rubber balls. He's entered several tournaments this year. He and the team, Moving Targets, have walked away as top finishers more than once. One event required two female players. Everyone he could think of was busy, so that left me to join the team. After getting socked in the gut, I had a new appreciation for the game he loves so much.
Kenton's love of film and television has grown this year too. Thanks to Hulu, little sleep is ever obtained. Together we enjoy enough shows, but on his own Kenton has managed to keep up with nearly every show that has broadcast this year. Movies are harder to get to with a busy family life, but I know Kenton was stoked to receive an all access pass the this year's Tallgrass Film Festival. I think He managed over five movies in one day during the festival.
If he's not plugged in to his laptop catching up on Hulu, I know he's catching up on the his list of blogs and podcasts. We both enjoy NPR's "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me." However, I think it might be time to get some more respectable news sources as we are nearing the big 3-0 with each passing day.
I think all in all Kenton would call this a trying year. "A long hard road, with a good good end." He's optimistic about the future, this side of a recession and with a fresh new start under him.
Judah and I are very lucky to have him. He really loves to provide for us and does a tremendous job of it. Kenton has placed value on things that others may not. Gently encouraging both Judah and I to go ahead with our goals while he makes the means necessary. Ah, sheesh! Guess I better lay off nerd jokes, he really is a catch!
Then comes baby. Judah Owen. Our bouncing baby boy. He's bigger, he's cuter, and smarter. We actually fear when he'll realize he's superior to us and take us over. So far we've got him fooled that we're in charge and he still needs us.
2009 was a huge year for our little man. He finished his Pre-K class with a delightful ceremony where he received a "Perfect Attendance" award. No, not an outstanding behavior award, an attendance award. If you've spent 5 seconds with him, you'd know the boy is too, how you say ... spirited, to sit quietly in a classroom or any room for too long. Don't get me wrong, he has had an incredible school year. Excelling above and beyond all that was required of him, yet, talking the whole time! He was quickly known in his school by all the teachers because he's just so outgoing. He was excited to finish off his school year with a limo ride to McDonalds. He won a ride with the principal and hasn't stopped talking about it since.
We spent the summer together having all the fun we could. Judah met his goal of 222 books read over the summer. He also learned to swim thanks to his weekly lessons at the Wichita Swim Club. Judah signed up for many races with me this summer and fall. I'd run the long race and together we'd run the "kid race." We spent many mornings going on our "training runs." It's so fun to share running with him. He teaches me a lot about the love of the sport. His racing season included one major accomplishment. He raced the "Rosstoberfest" 1 Miler in October. At age 5 he requested to run alone. As nervous parents and grandparents we all screamed our hearts out while the little guy trucked up the snow hill in College Hill to a 10 minute finish and a 1st place age group award!
Judah's biggest event this year has been becoming a full time Kindergartener at College Hill Elementary. On a rainy day in August we left our baby in the loving care of Mrs. Johnson. While Kenton and I bawled our eyes out and circled the school more than one time that day, "just to check on him," Judah began having the time of his life. He loves school. He has made more friends and has learned so much. He is a top reader and can successfully read books to us every night. He is a very bright boy and is constantly impressing his teachers with all his has learned. And yes, he still talks ALL THE TIME!
In October Judah celebrated his 6th birthday. SIX!! How can that be!? Never the less, he celebrated in style by having a Mad Science Party. Mad Scientist, Kelly Kilo-watt, put on quite a show for his friends. Fire, melting heads, and slime were all a part of his big day. He's kind of on a kick these days. He celebrated Halloween the following weekend by dressing as a mad scientist and getting his maniacal laugh down to a, well, a science!
Judah is the electricity that runs our lives. Some days we're all over the place with him and his high energy. Other days, we're nestled snug in our bed reading him Harry Potter as he calmly listens.
So whether it's an up day or a down day we manage to roll with the punches. Hopefully, this greeting is finding you well as you tackle your daily routines too. We also hope that this season allows you to take a few more calm days to stop and enjoy all you have to be thankful for. We desire to heed our own words and do the same. May the only reason for Christmas and the only reason for anything good and perfect, Jesus, touch you in a real and powerful way this season and everyday.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

All I Want For Christmas Is......

A new toenail!

As the spot got brighter and brighter on Saturday, I realized I was bleeding through my shoe, awesome. More awesome was getting the sock off as it had become one with my toe after 13 miles.
Oh the glamor!
It was a nice gift as I officially entered Boston Training. If I were following a strict 18 week plan, last week would have been the first week. However, I'd have to back off my miles to start at the beginning. I think I'll let the weeks catch up with me for a while and start going above 13 mile long runs in January. For now, I'm buying time with this dry, fair enough weather and getting about 50 miles a week in. As training progresses I'll have to do less weekly miles to save up for those long runs.
I'm hoping this training session to take it one day at a time and avoid burnout. Boston is the reward for all the hard work, I want to enjoy it!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Overcooked Jingle Bells

Yesterday was Wichita's 22nd Annual Jingle Bell Run. A great winter race to support the Arthritis Foundation. This was my fourth year to run the race. This was the best year by far.
Despite some extra chilly temps, try 25 degrees at the 9:30 start, the sunny morning turned out to be just perfect.
So, since I have a addiction to miles and didn't feel four would be quite enough for a Saturday, I met my running buddies for a very cold 7 AM run. I ducked out early and ran home with 6 and 1/2 miles under me. I cleaned up and got out my "Team Sno-Balz" attire. My entire family joined a huge team this year. We had over 30 member's. You knew us by our fuzzy stockings. So I elfed up. I got Judah elfed up and super cute, I might add. Kenton layered up with every article of clothing he owned. His costume would have to ride in the hatchback until we got to the race.
We rolled up to the WaterWalk Condos and squeezed Kenton into his spectacular costume.Yep! He was a Fireplace! This came from a childhood desire to dress as one for Halloween, but never getting to. A "life dream," if you will. His costume was the absolute best! From the moment we got out of the car people were cracking up. He was stopped over 50 times and asked to be in a picture.
We met up with The Sno-Balz right before the 4 mile start.
Greg the Christmas Tree was on our team too. (Real working lights, mind you!)
After a team huddle we all parted and lined up for the 4 mile start. Judah and Kenton were signed up for the 1 mile. (Kenton conveniently had the excuse of 'being a fireplace' to get him out of the 4 miler.) I lined up with my Dad, my "Uncle Dennis," Travis, and a few other men wearing the stockings with fur. Dennis leaned over and asked, "what are you going to run today? A 26?" Honestly, I had planned to have fun and stay injury free. Since I've aggravated my knee muscle, I've been very cautious. Friday was the first time I ran in three weeks without pain. I just planned to run comfortably and see what happened. Plus it was freakin' cold and that can always slow me down a bit. So, I answered, "I don't know, we'll see."
Once the Garmin's located satellites, the horn blew and we were off. I waved at my little elf and my fireplace and headed out over the river. Within the first mile the race turns and gets on the river bike path. I quickly saw that I was the third female. With both the women in very close range, my "have fun" attitude kinda took a backseat to, "this might be your first chance to win a race." By mile one I had passed both women and hoped like crazy that was the end of the race as long as I could hold my pace.
1 and a 1/2 miles in I realized I over dressed and I was sweating like crazy. I later told Kenton, "I know why Santa chooses this kind of hat to travel out in the elements", I was burnin' up!
At about mile 2.5 the path goes up over a bridge and I looked back to see woman number 2 was too close for comfort. I was hurting and really not enjoying the blast of wind the greeted me at the turn around. Heading back towards the start was very gusty and too long for comfort. Once I passed mile 3 I had to just tell myself, "less than a mile to go." And I had to stop thinking about the soup I had for dinner because it wanted to make a second appearance. I could see the final turn and knew I was so close. As the path turned I could see my opponent and knew that she was now too far to catch me. I ran up the small hill and headed for home.
26:45 and it was all over. I couldn't move my over-layered hands so the volunteer pulled my tab. The MC with the mic asked her to read the name and then he announced over the PA, "our female winner today is Lacy Hansen."
Whew! I had done it. I won. It's something that's been on the list. Another "life dream." I've come so close. I have taken second several times, even last year at the Jingle Bell Run. But This time I was first. I was so winded and thirsty, I couldn't even enjoy it for a few minutes. After some water and some cheering from my lovely fireplace, I felt pretty good. I went over to the 2nd place finisher and congratulated her and thanked her for pushing me so hard.
I later told Kenton that it was awesome to win, but I still felt like it was a fluke. I didn't set a PR and I knew that the Wichita "Fast Girls" were out on a long run, as I saw them when I was out earlier. So I had to keep it in perspective that had they shown up, I would have been schooled, BIG TIME!
But the little kid in me says, "They didn't show!! SO, I win!!!"
One by one The Sno-Balz all came flying across the finish line. Even some little guys turned in some great times. Once the last few walkers made it in, the announcer said it was time to line up for the 1 mile. My elf and fireplace made it to the front of the line and caused quite a stir among the few remaining participants who hadn't seen them yet.
The horn blew and as a family we ran off. I ran with Judah and had such a great time. I mentioned to him as he slowed, "You know, the faster you run, the sooner we can get back to the burgers and pizza." He asked, "You'll let me have both?" "I don't care, " I said. He bolted so fast I couldn't catch him. We crossed the bridge over the river and watched as Kenton's "aerodynamic" costume whirled him around. Judah caught Kenton and we ran it in as a family. Judah tried to hamstring Kenton at the finish, pretty cute!
We headed in immediately to make good on the promise of food for Judah.
The festivities took place in an empty retail lot in the developing WaterWalk Condos. Nothing too pretty, no lights, chairs, or a clean wall to lean against, but it was much warmer than outside.
We ate and laughed at Kenton as he tried to get food to his mouth, given his limited range of motion.
The awards ceremony started and I was so pleased to receive a Jingle Bell for my age group and then to be called back to receive a Medal for my first place finish. They had me on stage and took several pictures and then brought out a Coleman Grill as my prize. I was so surprised. A man carried it off for me and I went back with big smiles.
After the race awards were handed out, the costume division was up. Hands Down Kenton had the best costume and sure enough they called him up and gave him a medal. Then, they gave him a Coleman grill too!!!
Almost in tears, I cracked up as a man stacked a second grill next to mine. We won 2 grills!!!
After several strangers had to come and gawk at our "very unique" family we took some pictures and decided to call it a morning.
There you have it. Two life dreams coming true in one morning. One to win a race, the other to be a fireplace. Both rewarded handsomely. Lesson: Never stop chasing your dreams!