Monday, May 21, 2012

The Cleveland Experience

I'd been fumbling around with safety pins for about 26 minutes now. I knew I was obsessing, but I wanted everything to be perfect for race morning. Who could blame a first-time marathoner for trying to find the optimal position for their race bib?

But this was just one of the many things on my list I was trying to knock out the night before. I knew 4:45 a.m. was going to come around real early and scrambling around the house was not an option. I got in bed by about 9:30 p.m. that night and had a relatively good night of sleep. When the alarm went off Sunday morning, I immediately shifted into high-gear. Oatmeal with chia seeds and strawberry yogurt - check. Body glide applied and nipples taped - check. I grabbed all of my other race essentials and hit the road at about 5:25 a.m. My goal was to make it to the Triskett Rapid station for the 5:45 a.m. train to Tower City. I pulled in to a parking lot with a fair amount of vehicles and then it hit me. I almost forgot to apply sunblock. For most people, this might just be a minor issue, but when you have near snow-white skin and a bald head like me, it's critical. Within seconds, I was lathered up with SPF 50. Thank goodness! I always forget one thing and I just remembered it. Everything was now on track and things would be just perfect.

Until I went to grab my phone out of my car.


I forgot the tube sock with the toe cut off of it that I used as a sleeve to keep my phone attached to my arm while running. Without that, I wouldn't be able to listen to my music and get my MapMyRun updates through my earphones. I paced back and forth from the Rapid Station to my car as I was thinking of different ideas. I could drive home and get it, but then I was risking not getting to the start line in time for the race. I could try and find a Wal-Mart that was open 24 hours...but I wasn't familiar with any in that part of town. I could just not wear my phone at all and go music-less...but how would I make it through the race? WAIT! My old college roommate and good friend Keith lives within a few blocks of here...I could call him! I had already calculated there would only be about a .000001% chance he would answer at this time of morning. Four rings later, I got his voicemail. I was screwed...BUT WAIT! He ALWAYS leaves his house unlocked. I've been telling him for years that he was crazy and he should always lock his door. Westpark is not the best part of town. Before I could even make my mind up that it was a good idea, I was already half way to his house. I pulled in and saw his car in the driveway which was a good sign...but then remembered that he has a gun AND a samurai sword for protection. In an attempt to prevent being shot or sliced to bits, my plan was to start yelling his name the instant I got through the threshold. However, that plan died abruptly when I realized that both his side and front doors wouldn't open. He finally started locking his doors.

At that point I convinced myself to not try and beat down his door to wake him up. Instead, I retreated back to the Triskett station and got on the 6:00 a.m. train. The train was full of runners. I sat there during the ride and decided on a solution to my dilemma. I texted Kristie and told her to bring the sock sleeve with her and I would pick it up from her between mile marker 4 and 5, her first planned spot to see me. Until then, I would just run with my phone in my hand. It wouldn't be so bad. Our train pulled into Tower City at about 6:20 or so. My plan was to then jump on the Waterfront line and get off at the Browns Stadium stop. I had exact change in quarters for my fare, but apparently I tried to put my quarters in the kiosk too quickly and it didn't recognize one of them. I pleaded with the RTA worker at the gate that the machine just took my money. After a few moments she waved me through the gate while appearing slightly annoyed. After waiting for what seemed like 20 minutes, the train finally arrived. All the runners squeezed onto the two-car train and we arrived at Browns Stadium with about 20 minutes to spare.

I made my way over the starting gate and did some stretching in the grassy area to the right. As I got up to get back in the starting corral, I saw a guy who just finished peeing behind a tree. I realized it was now or deal with a port-a-potty later, so I jumped at the chance to pee in public. I hurried back into the corral and found the 4:00:00 pace group. Ahmaad Crump was on the PA doing his thing, "Cleveland Rocks" was playing over the speakers. The race was about 60 seconds away from starting. The marathon was starting and I could finally stop thinking about all the little things that had clouded my mind the whole morning!

Once I got out of the gate, the first mile was pretty slow because of the congestion. When I passed the Mile 1 marker, the clock read 14:17, but my chip time was roughly a 10:00 mile. I wasn't very happy with that, but I remembered a lot of that was uphill and it was wall-to-wall runners. Things got better as I made my way out to Edgewater. For the next few miles, I was running roughly 9-minute miles. I was back on track to my goal of a finish between 4:00:00 and 4:30:00. Soon, I was coming up on the spot I was supposed to meet Kristie. She told me she would be on the right side of the road. I flew through the turn onto West 110th and then again onto Lake Ave. heading East. No Kristie. I knew I didn't miss her as I looked nearly every spectator that was on the right side of the road in the face. Then my phone starting ringing. It was Kristie. I wasn't going to answer it during the race. Nothing good could come of that. I needed to press on and I'd hopefully see her in Tremont around mile marker 9 or so. In the meantime, the crowds in Ohio City were absolutely awesome. Tons of music and bands. Great cheers and signs. The energy was flowing.

Click Here for Full Race Map

I started coming up on where I thought Kristie would be in Tremont. I had made the decision over the last mile that I was going to hand her my phone and headphones. I didn't want them or need them. Music was going to just be another distraction at this point and I didn't need something else weighing me down. Plus, if I had my headphones in, how would I hear all the cool sounds along the way? My hopes of seeing Kristie, my father-in-law, and Macy faded with each turn I rounded. Somehow, they missed me again! But just then, I looked up and saw my Mom & Dad just ahead. I ran up to my Dad and gave him my phone and earbuds. "Here, I don't want these anymore." My Mom gave me a big cheer and I was off.

The Willey Ave. hill was a killer. Lots of runners were walking up that steep, short incline. I don't believe it was part of the race last year and it definitely added a degree of difficulty to what is normally a pretty flat course. But within no time, I had powered up the hill and then over the Lorain Carnegie bridge back into downtown Cleveland. Within another mile or so, I was finally at the branch-off point where the Half-Marathoners turned left and the Marathoners turned right. It felt good to make that turn. The crowds instantly thinned and there was a certain sense of camaraderie from that point forward. We were all in this for the long haul.

I passed a priest who was sprinkling holy water on runners. I figured I could use as much help as I could possibly get so I made sure to get close enough to get a few drops as I passed him by. Before I knew it, I saw my parents again at about mile 14 or so. But still no Kristie. I actually started to worry a little at this point. Did something happen to them? Was she calling because it was an emergency? I couldn't help but wonder, but I had to get focused on the 12 miles ahead.

It had heated up quite a bit since the start of the race. It was in the mid-70s at this point and although I had bypassed most of the water stops to this point to save time (I had my own water belt), I started to cruise through the stations not only to grab a cup of cold water, but to get sprayed by the hose to help cool off. I think the race workers were kind of amused that I would run up to them and hold my arms straight out, signaling for them to douse me with water. A few of them would spray me right in the face. Those were the best ones!

I finally saw Kristie, Chuck and Macy at mile 17 or so. They had met up with my parents and were waiting for me. It provided a good lift, especially seeing little Macy's smiling face.

After that point, everything changed.

The crowds were gone. The runners thinned out even more. Some runners had stopped to walk. Others were sitting on the side of the road resting. Some were even being treated by EMS. My pace had slowed to about a 10 minute mile at this point and it kept getting slower. The sun was beating down and runners were getting creative to find shade to run in, often darting to side of the road that had the most tree cover or shade from office buildings. I started to actually stop at the water stations for about 30 seconds to drink my water and then press on. I forgot to mention that at this point, I was eating a GU gel about every 4 miles, but once I got to mile marker 20 or so, they just didn't sound very good anymore. And what was this feeling in my quads? They were burning! I never had this happen to me on my training runs. Somehow, I was going to have to power through it.

At the end of MLK, we turned left onto the bike path along Marginal Rd. I knew from this point on, it was going to be a serious struggle. I was running at about a 11:00 or 12:00 minute pace now. I knew this because every time I passed a mile marker, the minute column was going up, not down like it was earlier in the race. Runners were dropping out like flies. Even the 4:00:00 pacer dropped out, according to the woman that was now carrying the 4:10:00 pace flag. With barely any spectators, it was a lonely journey between each mile marker and water station. Those were the only highlights at this point. I kept thinking to myself that I might have to walk at some point. A race official even mentioned a red flag for a heat advisory and was shouting at all runners to slow their pace. I believe I was headed south on E. 47th, when just ahead...BOOOOOMMM! It sounded like a M-80 had just been set off in the street right in front of us. The woman next to me looked at me and said "What the hell was that?" The adrenaline started flowing as I was cautiously looking around for the idiots that were throwing firecrackers into the racers. But to my delight, it was apparently a biker's tire that blew. I think he was actually fixing a flat and pumped up his tire too much when it blew, sounding like a true M-80. It was good to know there were no race terrorists I had to deal with. It was back to worrying about the suffering I would have to go through for the next three miles to finish this race.

As each mile marker passed, I calculated in my head that a sub 4:30:00 time was still very do-able. I didn't need to break any records here. Just stay at my 11 or 12 minute pace and I would be fine. As I entered downtown, the crowds started to grow and before I knew it, I was on East 9th street headed north and downhill. It was so close, I could taste it. The faster I finished, the sooner I could stop running. I rounded the turn onto Erieside and I could see the finish line. My brain instantly made an inquiry with my muscles. Could I pick up my pace, or possibly even sprint the last few hundred yards? I shifted gears and started into long strides and then after a few hundred feet, kicked into a sprint. As soon as I did that, I felt a muscle knot up in my left quad. Oh well, I didn't care. I was going to keep sprinting until I got through the finish. I crossed the finish line and I finally got what I had wanted for the last eight or nine miles. To walk. To even stand still for a while. A race official handed my medal and shook my hand and told me "Congratulations." It was so good to hear that word. I did it. I had finished a marathon for the first time in my life.

My official time was 4:27:28.
Rankings were as follows:
  • Men's 35-39 164th out of 270
  • 1199th out of all 2594 full marathoners (male & female)
  • 865th out of all 1562 male marathoners

I grabbed a banana and chocolate milk and laid down under the shade of a tree. It felt amazing to just lay there and even shut my eyes for a few minutes. After 10 or 15 minutes, I found my Father-in-Law Chuck at the base of the windmill. Once he saw me, he called Kristie to let her know I was there. They had all split up looking for me. Kristie and Macy arrived along with my parents. They all offered me congratulations and I could tell they were all very proud of me. We made the long walk back to St. Clair and E. 13th where they were parked and we headed home. Kristie explained to me that they had just missed me at the first stop in the morning and how upset she was that she didn't get to see me. I picked up my phone when I got into the car and saw all the great comments and likes from friends and family on Facebook and Twitter. The kinds words and support from everyone that day was truly awesome!

Today, as I sit and write this blog, I am very sore! Going down steps is a killer, but I've found that the more I move around and walk, the better everything feels. Sitting still too long really just stiffens up the joints.

I was asked by a few people if I would do another marathon. My answer yesterday was "Probably not." But that was my answer after my previous half-marathons too. I know in time I will probably get the itch to do another one. It was one of the greatest challenges of my life, but crossing that finish line and crossing Marathon off my bucket list is something that brings a smile to my face just thinking about it.

I am very happy and honored to say, I am officially a marathoner.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

They Call it Longs for a Reason

Weeks before we left on vacation to Estes Park, I had spent hours upon hours of researching one of the most famous 14'ers, Longs Peak. At 14,255 feet, this 14 mile round trip hike draws hikers from near and far. Most of the articles or blogs I found mentioned things like "high degree of exposure" and "not for those who fear heights".
I had it in my head that I was going to do it, or at least attempt it. That is until we took Macy on a 6.6 mile round trip to Estes Cone. After finishing that 5 hour hike with a 20lb baby on my back, I was telling myself that Longs Peak was probably not in the cards this year. But the thoughts of tackling this peak flooded my head for the next day until I finally made up my mind.

I was doing it. If I didn't do it now, I would surely have to come back and do it some other time. So why wait?

I set my alarm for 12:30 a.m. and after what was probably only two good hours of sleep, I woke and ate some oatmeal and finished packing up before giving Kristie a kiss goodbye and heading out to the Longs Peak Ranger Station which was about nine miles south of Estes Park on Route 7. I was the only one on the road at that time of night. Not even a wild animal made an appearance.

I arrived at the trailhead parking lot at about 1:45 a.m. They suggest leaving for this hike between 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. so you can be off the summit before noon which is when thunderstorms tend to roll in quickly. My plan was to join up with another group of hikers so I wouldn't have to make the trek alone. I grabbed my Camelbak, which had about 132 oz of water, four protein bars, four pouches of trail mix and two energy gels. I also had a drawstring vinyl bag filled with a jacket, a water filtration pump system and a banana - turns out that banana should not have been in there - more on this later. About five minutes into the hike, I caught up to a group of four hikers (two guys - John and Ilia, two girls - Laura and Miranda) that were stopped on the trail. I took a quick breather and then asked if they minded if I joined them. "Sure, if you don't mind hiking with some flatlanders," said the shortest female hiker. Turns out, most of them were from Chicago, with one of them living in Cuyahoga Falls area. What were the chances?

It was good to have company on the trail. We took a lot of breaks, mostly to catch our breath or to add or remove layers. It was surprisingly warm to start the hike - in the low 60's. But as we climbed, the air got thinner and cooler. During one of our breaks, I shined my flashlight out to the horizon and in doing so, discovered that there were 20 to 30 elk in the field right next to us, with one about 20 feet away!

Laura was having some problems with the elevation and was belching about every minute. It was really funny. She was quite embarrased by it, but I told her that it would make for great blog material! Our conversation helped the first four hours breeze by and before we knew it, the sun was rising over the horizon and we no longer needed our flashlights. We were quickly approaching the first difficult obstacle of the final approach: The Boulder Field.

Miranda doing a handstand in the Boulder Field.

The Boulder Field is just that, a HUGE enormous field of boulders. It looks like a giant explosion happened and threw these enormous rocks everywhere. It's tedious hiking as you need to watch every step carefully. A rolled ankle at this point could end your day. After what seemed like an hour of boulder hopping, we finally reached the Keyhole. This is the most recognizable feature of the Longs Peak hike and you can just make it out in the photo above.

Once you cross through the Keyhole, everything changes. Before I even got up to the Keyhole to catch a glimpse of the rest of our journey, I heard other hikers gasping and discussing whether they were going to continue. As soon as I crossed through the Keyhole, the temperature dropped and the wind picked up. I decided that I needed to sit down and put on my jacket before I made my decision on whether to press on or end the hike here. After standing up and getting a good look at the next stage of the hike "The Ledges" I realized this is something I could do. My group was eager to tackle "The Ledges" and actually pressed on a couple hundred feet in front of me. I found myself standing with a few other hikers at this point - two guys in their early 40's - Dave and Ed. They were having some second thoughts about the treacherous road ahead and I convinced them to come along with me. During the next 10-15 minutes, we saw about a half dozen people turn around because they got pretty rattled and decided it was not for them.

The Ledges is a section that hugs the side of the mountain, typically giving you six to eight feet of rocky path and then a significant dropoff on the other side. At some points, there is only about four feet to work with, but at no time did I feel like one wrong move spelled the end. I've been there before with Angel's Landing and I did not feel nearly as intimidated. There are red and yellow bulleyes painted on the rock that give you a general direction to point yourself as you negotiate the rocky terrain. After working through The Ledges for a good 20-30 minutes, we reached the next phase of the hike: The Trough.

I didn't get any photographs, which probably tells a good story of how much I was focusing on my footwork and eliminating distractions. I included a photo I found online above. The Trough is a long steep climb up a narrowing section. I stress the word "Long" because it takes forever. If the exposure and heights don't get to you, surely the physical toll of climbing this never ending rocky steep incline will. To make matters worse, there are a lot of very loose smaller stones the entire way up which makes each step a gamble. If you do happen to knock a smaller rock down the incline, the proper ettiquette is to yell "Rock!" so that those below you can either brace for impact or try to avoid the incoming trajectory. I probably yelled "Rock!" a half dozen times in this section. At some point, I passed my original group of John, Laura and Miranda (Ilia decided the pace was too slow and pressed on earlier in the morning). After what seemed to be an eternity, we reached the top of The Trough.

The next section was called "The Narrows" and if "The Ledges" were not intimidating enough for you, then this surely would take care of that! The Narrows was very similar to The Ledges, just , well, narrower and shorter. And since we were much higher up now, close to the summit, the drop offs looked even more menacing. At this point, I had come up behind two hikers from Japan. One of them appeared to be in his 40's or 50's while the other one looked a little older. They didn't speak english very well, but I tried to give them universal signs of encouragement like thumbs up and big smiles to let them know they were doing just fine. Once past "The Narrows," I turned the corner to see the final obstacle: The Home Stretch.

The picture above is from more than halfway up The Home Stretch. Don't let it deceive you as it kind of looks like the whole thing is only 10 feet tall. Click on the picture and look at those little people way up there. It's steep and insane. It also felt very long and never ending and honestly, there were times I would look up and think that I might not be able to do it. It had been nearly two hours since we went through the Keyhole and I felt exhausted and finally the altitude was starting to get to me. But sure enough, we pressed forward and by about 10:00 a.m. - eight hours after starting from the trailhead parking lot, we made it to the summit!

Below is a picture of Dave and I on the actual highest point of the summit.

And here is a picture with one of the Japanese hikers I mentioned before. It turns out, he was 72 years old!

Below is a picture of my original group - from Left to Right: Laura, Miranda and John.

And one final shot of me before heading down.

As I mentioned before, the altitude was finally getting to me. I had a slight headache and food did not sound good to me, although I did eat a protein bar at the top just to make sure I replaced some of the many calories that were burned off on the hard climb up.

Dave, Ed and their other friend, John-Michael also wanted to head down, so we began the descent. Going down The Home Stretch is actually a lot more difficult than going up. Most of the time, I found myself sliding down on my butt to the next foothold. As Ed cleverly stated "The South Face of my pants were struggling." I wasn't sure if my new North Face hiking pants were going to survive the hike down with all of the butt-sliding I was doing, but at this point, I just wanted to get down safely. If they were a one-and-done purchase, so be it.

Ed and I led the way down and at one point, I ran out of water so Ed let me have some of his. I learned the hard way that I packed too much food and not enough water. It took about the same amount of time to get back to the Keyhole as it took to get up to the summit from the same point. Mostly because every step needed to be placed with extra caution. A lazy move at this point in the game could mean a serious fall.

After going through the Keyhole, I was getting desperate for water. Ed's supply had run dry too so I knew I had to find a water source that I could pump from. I zeroed in on a big patch of melting snow to the left of the Boulder Field and followed what would likely be the path the melting snow would take down through the Boulder Field. I could hear the water running underneath me, but could not see it quite yet due to the mulitple layers of boulders beneath me. After chasing it for about 20 minutes, I found a nice water hole that had a pretty good stream of water coming through. I summoned a nearby camper to help me and within about 5 minutes, I filled my Camelbak hydration pack as well as a 16 oz bottle of water.

I caught up to Ed and gave him the bottle of water, although by this time, they found another friend of theirs who had Gatorade left. I insisted he take the bottle of water as a repayment of what I had borrowed. He accepted but I think he was a little uncertain about the filter I was using and rightfully so as Giardia can be a nasty, nasty thing to pick up from a water source. Just to assure him and me for that matter, I pulled out the little instruction book and it stated that the Katadyn Hiker filter was 99.9% effective at eliminating bacteria and 99.99999% effective at removing protozoa. I liked my chances so I drank away and man did it taste amazing. Maybe it was because I had gone the last 45 minutes of a strenuous hike without water, but it seriously tasted so pure with no aftertaste.

At this point, I realized it was getting close to 1:30 p.m. and I wanted to get back to Kristie and Macy by 4:00 p.m. if possible so we could do dinner that night. I said my goodbyes to Dave, Ed and John-Michael and took off down the path.

I flew down very quickly. In fact, the section that had taken us four hours early that morning only took me about two on the way down. By 3:45 p.m., I was cruising into the Ranger Station with a huge sense of accomplishment.

14 hours, 14 miles and 4855 vertical feet (9710 if you count up and down) later...I did it! I hiked my first 14'er!

So about that banana in my vinyl bag. I forgot about it and it got smashed up and all brown from getting banged into the rocks. It ripped open and I had brown mushy banana all over my jacket and inside the bag. Gross.

Looking back, this was by far the most physically challenging thing I have ever done and I am so glad I attempted it and never gave up. If anyone reading this is thinking about doing it, I highly recommend it.

P.S. - John, Ilia, Laura and Miranda - if you are reading this - I never got to say goodbye. Thank you very much for allowing me to join your group. It was a pleasure hiking and sharing an awesome experience with you.

P.P.S. - Make sure to click on all the photos to see an enlarged version to really get the sense of how high this peak was!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Checking in as Macy Grows...

It's been a few months since we blogged, so we thought we'd provide a few videos and pictures to show how Macy is doing.  She looks quite a bit different now with big chubby cheeks, big beautiful eyes and very long eyelashes.

She must have confused the swing with a crazy carinval ride and decided she better hold on for dear life!

Macy ate her first solid food last week.  She's tried avocado, banana and sweet potatoes.  She is a fan of bananas, but not so much the other stuff.

I also discovered that Macy loves when I smother her in kisses.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Great Flying Macy

We are really enjoying life with Macy. She is a very sweet baby and keeps us busy and entertained. A few weeks ago she started smiling and also laughing. Seeing that just makes my day. I've been back to work for 3 weeks now and that is going pretty well. It's definitely busy but we are keeping on a routine and that definitely helps. Macy is sleeping between 4-6 hours when I first put her to bed and then gets up maybe one other time before I get up to feed her before I get ready for work. I feed her right before I leave for work and then Jeff is responsible for taking her to daycare. We are pretty happy with her daycare and Macy seems to have settled in. She isn't napping as well as I would like her to there but I think she is still getting used to it. She is the smallest baby there and all the kids are excited to see her. A week ago I took this video of her.

Things with Macy are great. She is getting baptized with her 2nd cousin, Cora, on April 10 in Stone Creek. We are looking forward to seeing family and it will be Macy's first trip to Stone Creek!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Macy is Here!

Our family just got a little bigger.  Here is the full story on how Macy Doll Lillibridge entered our world.

In week 37, Kristie's belly was pretty big...along with her swollen feet and ankles.  In fact, the week prior, her doctor thought she could be developing Preeclampsia which would have resulted in Kristie being induced on Wednesday, November 24th.  Her follow-up appointment that Monday showed no signs of Preeclampsia, so we had the green light to continue on and let nature take its course.  We were both hoping Kristie would be a little early, but Dr. Simmons shurgged that off and said "First time babies are almost never early."

On Thanksgiving, we always go over to my parents house in Painesville where we enjoy a great Thanksgiving meal with about 20+ of our relatives. They all marveled at the size of Kristie's belly and a few of my cousins got to feel the baby kick.  We left that night around 8:00 p.m. and got home a little after 9:00 p.m.  I gave Kristie a foot rub to help work some of the fluid out to get rid of the swelling and we went to bed around 11:30 p.m. that night.

At about 2:15 a.m. that night, Kristie got up to go to the bathroom and that's when it happened.  Her water broke.  She woke me up and we called the doctor who told us to come in to the hospital.  We arrived at the hospital around 3:45 a.m. and while Kristie was sitting down at the Emergency Room front desk, her water continued to come out...making it look like she peed her sweatpants.  The security guard who was sitting in that chair before Kristie wasn't too interested in returning to his chair after that.  :)

We got into the maternity ward pretty soon after that and they hooked Kristie up to a bunch of monitors.  The nurse asked Kristie "Are you feeling that?" to which Kristie responded "Feeling what?"  "You are having a contraction right now," the nurse said  "And as the mother of four children, I am very jealous."  So it appeared Kristie had a super human tolerance to pain!  This was great.  For all I knew the baby could slide out any minute and it would all be over with!  Well...not so fast I guess.  By about 8:00 a.m., things changed...

She seemed to get hung up on 6cm dialated for a while, so the nurse got Kristie out of bed and let her go through a few contractions standing up leaning over the hospital bed.  That seemed to work great as she jumped to 9cm within about 30 minutes.  At this point, I could see Kristie was in some serious pain as she hadn't received any medication yet.  I asked Kristie if she wanted anything and she said she would like something...maybe an epidural. I asked the doctor for something for her, but he explained it was too late that point and she would have to continue without any drugs. 

After two hours of pushing during each contraction, Macy finally arrived at 12:07 p.m. on Friday, November 26th.  She was 7 lbs 11oz and was 20.5 inches long. 

How did we come up with Macy Doll you ask?  Well, behind every name there is a story and here is how we came up with that one.  For months, we really couldn't agree on a name.  I liked Lilly and Kristie liked Reece.  One night, I was browsing through baby names on a Baby Name app on my Droid and the name Macy came up.  I thought to myself that it was pretty unique and cute for a girl and I chatted Kristie one day at work and after thinking about it for a while, Kristie said she liked it.  So, we put it on our short list.  Kristie's Mom's maiden name was Doll, so we incorporated that as her middle name.  So there you have it, Macy Doll Lillibridge. 

Enjoy the pics!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Conquering Half Dome

I was lucky enough to return to Yosemite National Park this past weekend.  I was scheduled to go out to Sports Marketing 2.0 in San Francisco so I figured I would try and fit in one last weekend in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. 

While Kristie and I were there back in July, the one hike I didn't get to try out was Half Dome.  Half Dome is one of the most recognized peaks in Yosemite because it looks like a dome that literally got split down the middle.  It rises 4,800 feet from the valley floor and the hike is about 17 miles round trip. The last 400 feet of the hike include a 45 degree slope up a granite wall with steel cables to help pull yourself up. 

I am not a huge fan of heights, so I knew it would be a challenge.  I did some research before hand and I decided the best thing to do would be to buy a climbing harness and some sewn runners and clip onto the cables with a carrabiner clip.  That way, if I fell, the worst that could happen would be a few bruises and scrapes.  

Keith, my old college roommate tagged along on the trip.  We stayed in Curry Village and ended up waking up at 4:00 a.m.  We checked out at the front desk and we were on the trailhead by 5:30 a.m.  It was still very dark outside so we used a flash light for the first hour.

People were very friendly on the trail.  Especially on the cables.  I think with the traffic jam and it taking about 45 minutes to get up, it really made people band together even more than usual.
It took me about 11 hours and 30 minutes round trip and it was so worth doing.  I thought I would be nervous and have a hard time, but once I got on the cables, it was really easy.  Below is a video that chronicles the whole journey.  P.S. - My creepy whispering in the beginning is because we were in canvas tents and at 4:00 a.m., I didn't want to wake up my neighbors.  You could hear someone drop a pin 50 yards away which made sleeping pretty difficult!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Basement update

We have been remodeling/renovating to get ready for the baby. We added a closet to the old office upstairs which will become the nursery and have painted that green. We also moved the gym from the one corner of the basement and are almost done with the new office. It looks terrific. Dave and Jeff started working Sept 1 and we are almost done! The only things that are left are putting up the trim and baseboard and a few other small touch-ups. I can't believe how quickly it all came together. This will be the nursery - paint is done, now we just need some furniture!

Here are some pics of the basement from the beginning to where we are now. This is the corner of the basement with the sump pump where we put in some closets.

This is that same wall, the door on the right is where the sump pump is. The 3rd picture is taken from a different angle and was taken after the floors and ceiling were put in. We have two closets with pocket doors to the left of the sump pump door. I finished up painting the baseboards and french doors today and Dave will probably be back this week to put the trim and baseboard up. I just can't believe how great everything looks.
Other than the remodel, we're doing well. I am at 28 1/2 weeks and feel good. My feet started to swell this week so I have been putting those up when I get a chance. The rest of today will be filled with laundry and some cleaning up of the basement from the dust that was created from our basement project. I'll be glad once we get everything put back in it's place. Jeff is hiking in Yosemite. He went out on Friday with Keith and has a conference for work on Tuesday. They are staying in Curry Village in a tent cabin. I don't think I would like to do that at this point in my pregnancy.