Tuesday, October 6, 2015


In order to avoid the yearly "this birthday party is better than the last birthday party" farce, Kyle and I decided that birthday parties at one, five, ten and sixteen seemed like a better idea. Much better. Therefore, since our little Pickle was turning ten, a birthday party was to be planned. By me. The non-party-planning type. Thankfully, she made it really easy when she requested a sleepover for her tenth birthday.

I'll admit, the idea of a sleepover was still a little daunting for me, but much easier than an actual daytime, way too many kids (do we really need games?) brouhaha. Much, much easier!  Eleanor wanted to invite only children from school that are "nice to her." (Now…I honestly don't think this means that kids are not nice to her, but these were her words, not mine.) That cut our guest list down by quite a bit – two girls from school, two of her home-schooled friends, her sister, and her cousin. Pretty manageable. Plus, one of her home-schooled friends is a boy and not eligible for sleepover status. (Sorry, Drew!)

So…last Friday we hosted five children (not including Josephine) for our first-ever sleepover!

Bunting, cake and goodie bags ready to go
Heading back from the zip-line
Pizza for dinner

Think she's excited?
The next morning…sleepy girls!

Monday, October 5, 2015

She's ten.

Happy tenth birthday to our darling girl!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Race Report: Oktoberfest Marathon

Race day sunrise 
"They" were right when they said I wouldn't sleep the night before my first marathon. I swear I saw every hour from 9:30pm–2:30am. I think I got about 3 hours of sleep before my 5:45am alarm went off. Breakfast, coffee, foam rolling, then watch the sun come up as I waited for Amy to pick me up at 7am.

The raced started at 8:15am. Amy and I were both a little nervous, but not at all the wrecks I thought we'd be. I remember looking at each other when the race started with a "now or never" smile. The first 5 miles were a little hilly, but nothing like Oceana county's rolling hills. These miles seemed easy under out feet. It was around this time that I got a text from Ellie…so sweet.

Yes, the cat IS cute but crazy!
The next six miles seemed to be just as easy going. Amy kept reeling me in when I'd jump from our planned 10:40/mile pace to a 9:30/mile pace. My legs wanted to go! At mile 11 I saw a woman walking up ahead of us. I told Amy "If she's running the half, we're running with her." I ran up next to her and found out that yes, she was running the half, and her friends were up ahead. With just two miles left in her race, I told her she was running with us. Four out of my five half-marathons, I was her. Exhausted and so close the end when my brain would force me to walk. So, I paid it forward. Amy and I ran with our new friend Sarah until ¼ mile from the finish when the full and half marathons split off. At the half way point of our race we were at 2:16:00 – on track to meet our 4:40:00 marathon goal.

Those same rolling hills that we ran two hours prior were now ahead of us for a second time. I thought things were going well when just before mile 15, Amy stopped. She was feeling sick to her stomach, so we walked for a few minutes. I tried to get us to run again, but she just couldn't do it. We did a little running, but mostly walking until mile 18 when she told me to go ahead. I felt terrible leaving her behind. However, after the hundreds of miles we've run together, I knew she meant it when she told me to "Go!"

I passed her again at mile 20 in an out/back on the course. Her legs were fine, but her stomach was fighting her. I offered to stop and wait for her, but she urged me on.

The next couple of miles went by slowly. I would think about Amy, think about the fact that our 4:40:00 finish goal was long gone by then due to the walking we'd done between miles 15 and 18. Just when I knew my brain needed a distraction after 22 miles of running, I saw our black Suburban up ahead. Cheering me to the next water stop was Kyle and the girls, my parents, my sister-in-law Christa, Amy's husband Chris and son Zack. Exactly what I needed to lift my spirits!

Running up to my family
Love this – I'm exhausted and Mom is so proud! 
Quick hug before running the last 4.2 miles.
Water, a banana and hugs to refuel me, I took the next 4 miles slowly. I took a couple of walk breaks, but never once had the urge to stop the race. I kept thinking back to my time at the AMR retreat in Little Rock. All the questions I asked about running a marathon, the answers I was given and the encouragement from the women I met. The one thing that kept coming back to me was "Trust your training." So I did.

At about mile 25 you cross Spring Lake and end up right behind Old Boy's Brewhouse. The backyard was filled with runners and people cheering as the announcer yelled "Marathoner – Lisa Kirker!" Holy cow. Talk about emotion. I still had 1.2 miles to run. I knew my family was waiting for me at the finish, and it was finally sinking in that I was almost there. At about mile 26, before turning the corner to run to the finish, I had to stop and catch my breath. I was starting to choke up and couldn't breathe. Not at good way to end the race. Once I got my breath under control, I started back up – with the hugest smile – and finished my first marathon.

Part of my cheer squad – "Go Beezer" and "Go Mom" posters in-hand!

Coming in for the finish.
My friend Nicole, waiting for me at the end – so nice!
Proud husband
Ellie put the finisher medal over my head.
Kyle and the rest of the "cheer squad" was waiting for me and cheered my through to the finish. I crossed the finish line in 5:17:11. Much slower than I had hoped, but totally worth every minute under my feet. My friend Nicole was waiting for me at the end, and everyone else showed up a few seconds later. It honestly took a good five minutes before my emotions caught up with me and I finally broke into tears. I did it. Now…to wait for my BRF whose marathon experience was going to be much different than mine. I met Amy at the finish line about 30 minutes later. The girl was spent!

Posted by Christa – hugging it out at the finish
Craziest part of the day? Since the marathon was such a small one, Amy and I both placed in our age groups. I got 2nd place in the 40–44 age group, and Amy took 3rd in the 35–39 age group.

So…will I do it again? Totally. I think next year I'll set my sights on a 4:40:00 finish in the Grand Rapids Marathon in October 2016!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Monday miles

Marathon finish line photo with my peeps
Miles last week:
35.2 miles

Miles in 2015:


Tomorrow…race recap!

Friday, September 25, 2015

My Oktoberfest "Flat Lisa"

Leaving to pick up the girls from school in a few minutes. Then, Amy and I are headed to Spring Lake to get our race bibs and packets. I'm getting a tiny bit nervous, but more than anything I'm super excited! The weather is supposed to be amazing – high 50˚'s when we start and high 60˚'s when we finish sometime after lunch. I'm feeling well hydrated and have enjoyed my two days of carb-loading. (Lots of fruit, oats, and an indulgent pizza dinner last night.)

Tonight Kyle is grilling burgers, and I'll enjoy one delicious IPA while chilling with the girls on the couch and watching the new Muppets show I DVR'd earlier this week. Early bedtime after that (hope I can sleep!)

Our #1 goal is to finish strong in less than 5 hours.

Wish us luck tomorrow morning!

Thursday, September 24, 2015


It's BRF (best running friend) week at Another Mother Runner. Seemed appropriate to send them a little something about my BRF considering we'll be running 26.2 on Saturday. It was hard to put these few words together without getting choked up!

Turkey Trail Run – 2011

•  •  •

I met my BRF, Amy in elementary school, but it wasn’t until I moved back to my hometown, and across the road from her, (20 years later) that we became true friends.

Amy invited me to run around our country block with her in the spring of 2008, and ever since she’s become much more than a running partner. She’s is my dearest friend, the “neighbor mom” to my girls, and the only person I know who’s up for any of the shenanigans I throw her way. (200 mile relays, hosting a Thanksgiving morning 5K, a standing “Wine Friday” date and more.)

Amy wasn’t able to join me for the AMR retreat in Little Rock last spring. While sitting at the airport, headed home from the inspirational weekend, I texted her “Running 26.2. Game?” Despite her adamant refusal to ever run a full marathon, it wasn’t twenty seconds before the ellipses on my phone disappeared and “Fine. (not so happy face) Send me a training plan.”

Now, twenty weeks and more than 500 miles later, we’ll be running that first marathon together this coming Saturday. Guessing from how much we’ve enjoyed training together this summer, I dare to say it won’t be our last. 

Couldn’t do it without you Amy! Wish us luck!

• • •

Morning of the Marshville Dam Pie Race – 2013

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Chicken coop pumpkins

While throwing scraps to the chickens this weekend, we found something unexpected growing in their run. More accurately, growing up the side of their run…pumpkins!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Monday miles

So…this is the week! Five more days until 26.2.

Miles last week:
22 miles

Miles in 2015:

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunday photo

The photo we sent Kyle (who's racing in OH this week.)
Bet he misses these faces.
By the way…happy 12th wedding anniversary, dear.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Recipe: Panera Bread Vinaigrette Copycat

Ellie and Josie adore Panera Bread's vinaigrette dressing. I found it at Sam's Club when we had a membership and bought a few bottles (can anyone say "ridiculous shelf life"!?) Well, we finally ran out and I was determined to figure out how to make it myself. After a few tries with our basic vinaigrette recipe, reading the bottle and numerous adjustments and taste tests…I think we've got it! Close enough for us at least!

Panera Bread Vinaigrette Copycat

⅔ cup olive oil
¼ cup sugar
⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
1 clove of garlic, pressed
¼ teaspoon dried rosemary
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning

Place all the ingredients in a blender…blend away! Refrigerate, but bring to room temperature before serving.

Printable Recipe

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