Monday, August 22, 2011

A long awaited phone call!

Yesterday, I knew I was supposed to get a call around dinner time to here if my husband has passed Phase 3 (the final phase) of Ranger School. His last letter had not been a very happy one.. I could tell he was really ready to be done. So our extended families, co-workers and friends were all praying for him.. that the call would be good. My parents and brothers already have plane tickets to go down there. We were really hoping/praying that he would.

I had been looking at a lot of army wife/gf/fiance blogs and that was actually really helpful to read their experiences. Most got the call late on Sunday night. One got the call as late as the following MONDAY night. Another said that when her SO did it, the calls started coming at 7pm on Sunday. So I tried to relax all day.. and planed to be at his parents house for when the call came. I got there around 7.

8 O'clock came around and I decided to get on twitter and facebook and do a search for the phrase "Ranger School" to see if anyone else had heard news. My heart sunk. A girl on facebook had updated her status to say that he husband had passed. At noon. What?? How come she found out 8 hours ago and I hadn't heard anything?

I had been messaging my twitter friend back and forth. She has a boyfriend in Ranger School too and has two friends with guys in Alpha Company with my husband. No one had heard anything.

I played Mario Cart with his parents.. trying to figure out what the heck could be the hold up. Maybe he was calling tomorrow? Surely he hadn't recycled..

Then it was 11pm. Which meant it was midnight for James. I had work the next day. So I told his parents that I had to take off. Went to my parents house (his parents live 5 minutes from mine). Sadly told my dad when I came in the door that I still hadn't heard anything, and got ready to go to sleep. Was going to have to drive an hour farther to work the next day.

I laid down for bed, put my phone on LOUD and turned out the lights. I was probably laying there for about 2 minutes when the room lit up from the phone going off. It was him! "Hello??" "Hey! Guess what!" At that moment, I already heard it in his voice. And everything was perfect. But I wanted to hear him say it anyway. "Did you get your GO??" "Yep, I passed! I did it! I made it without recycling!" Such an accomplishment. He said that Florida phase was definitely the hardest. I told him how proud of him I was. and that I planned on getting there Thursday for lunch and he said that was perfect. Then he told me he had to go and that he would try to call tomorrow. I looked later. The phone call was 4 minutes long.

It was probably the best phone call of my life.

I feel like I'm on cloud 9 right now. Praise God! I'm so proud of him! Now I'm feeling a little bad because everyone is saying "I told you he would make it!" I knew it he would too, but I had to prepare for a bad phone call anyway. "Expect the best, prepare for the worst" was basically my situation.

Come Friday morning, I'll get to pin that wonderful little black and gold tab on his uniform! I'm so happy!

But my twitter friend has still not heard from her boyfriend and it's Monday morning now. :( Keeping her and her bf in my prayers.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ranger Care Package & Florida Update

I got a letter last night! The bad news is that he said his chances of recycling were pretty high. He said that he heard rumors that his company had the harshest graders and they also said that they would grade officers harder than the enlisted guys. Great. So I'm praying hard. If he recycles, it pushes back graduation almost a month.

He did include a food wish list! He said he was craving baked goods after all of the processed MREs. Ranger students can receive care packages at the end of each phase. Otherwise, they aren't allowed to be sent food, except for non-caffeinated gum. I've been putting gum sticks in each of his letters. He'll be able to bring the food and magazines I send him on the 4 hour bus ride back to Fort Benning after Phase 3. His wishlist included:

Cake Mix Cookies
Trail Mix
Puppy Chow (yes, he underlined this one)
Beefy Jerky
Pepperoni Slices
Peanut M&Ms
Magazines (like Runner's World and Outdoor)

So last night I had fun. I went shopping at Walmart and then I made puppy chow and funfetti cake cookies. And I didn't even have one bite.. it all went down to my Ranger (okay I lied.. I might have had one bite of the cake batter). Packed it all up in my flat-rate box and it should get down there in time for his 4-hour bus ride home on Sunday!

In other news, today I heard back from a potential employer in the Seattle area (hubby is going to be stationed at Ft Lewis after the training at Ft Benning). I thought I had totally nailed the interview, but he emailed me to let me know the position had been filled..

We've also had some major issues at work today. This is my much-needed 10 minute break from everything. My phone has been ringing off the hook. It's days like this that I wish I had him with me to give me a hug.

.. think I could sleep through everything until ranger school graduation?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Last Full Week (Hopefully)

Today begins my last full week of work (hopefully) before I drive down to Georiga. I got my first florida phase letter from the hubby on Saturday. Well.. I was actually not home on Saturday so I didn't get it until Sunday night. He said that he is doing well and really liked my care package! I could tell that he was getting really excited that he's in the final stretch. The bad news is that more than half of his company in the previous class had to recycle Florida phase. Not good. They had previously heard that Florida was the "easiest" of the three, but it doesn't sound like that is the case.

My father-in-law has actually been in the hospital with pneumonia for about a week now. So the question was.. should I write him about it? It's not life-threatening now, but pretty serious. Apparently it was pretty scary for my mother-in-law the first couple days. So now we're just over a week and a half away from graduation, so I'm worried about them making it to graduation. So yes.. I did write to tell him. On the one hand, I don't want him to worry, but I didn't want to be writing happy-go-lucky letters and then have him get done and me to have to tell him "oh yeah.. your dad has been in the hospital this whole time and he's too sick to come see you graduate." I figured he'd want to know. It takes like 5 days for my letters to get down there and I'm not sure the news got there before he started his FTX (they don't get letters during the FTXs). But he will at least get the full version if I don't have long to talk to him on the phone when he gets back.

Praying I don't hear anything from him until it's good news.. 6 days to go.

I ran a total of 23 miles last week. That's the most I've run in one week in a while. I feel a little lame, because when I was in cross country in college, a 40 mile week was not uncommon. Oh well.. maybe I'll get back there eventually. I have an 11-mile run on Thursday. Omygoodness. It's literally been about a year since I ran that long. Wish me luck.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Long Run

I've been trying to do my long run on Thursdays this summer. I got 10 miles in last night and it was actually the first long run I've gotten in since the Waterfall Glen 10 miler (almost 3 weeks ago!). I ran to running club, which meets only 2.5 miles away, ran 5 miles with my buddy Steph from the club, and ran home. Felt great, but my hamstrings were pretty tight starting at about mile 4 or so.

I haven't been using GU gels this summer. Last summer, I used them every long run and would always feel sick afterward. I always thought it was just because I did a long run, but now I've figured out it's the gels. So I'm not really sure what I'm going to do once I do a full marathon.

This was a pretty slow, easy pace. My fastest mile was probably around a 9 min mile. And I'm sure I slowed down above 10 a couple times. My average was 9:50. I've kind of been wishing I had one of the Garmin watches, especially since so many people in the running club have them.

Planning on going on an easy/recovery bike ride after work today and some good stretching. Maybe even some yoga.

Anyway, I was glad to be able to write to my hubby last night that I did my 10 miles. :)

9 days til the phone call.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

More Tri Pics And More Mileage

A friend of mine from the tri club posted some more pictures! Here are a few.

The lovely Kankakee Triathlon Club.

My favorite part of the race.. coming out of the water.

The run.

My pearls matched my swim cap so they took a picture of me showing them off. :)

Now that I'm pretty sure that I'm done with triathlons now for the rest of the summer. Which is kind of a relief to just focus on running. I did mile repeats on Monday instead of my usual long run. This was actually because it rained.. but I'm kind of glad that I got the running workout in instead. Then I got another 5 miles in at running club. I'm already doing way better on mileage this week.

Also.. 11 more days til I get a phone call from my hubby! Trying not to go crazy.

I also discovered Daniela Andrade and I decided I love her music.

Monday, August 8, 2011

LaPorte Triathlon

On Saturday, I competed in the LaPorte Triathlon! I loved this race. It was my first open water swim and my first race with my cycling shoes. Even though the extra pair of shoes was only one more thing to pack, it still made me nervous. I'm used to running races where really all you need is your running shoes and you're set. Everything else is optional (for the most part). For a triathlon, that's not true. You need you bike, bike computer, helmet, bib number strap, cycling shoes, towel, running shoes, sunglasses, goggles.. omgoodness I'm already overwhelmed. I laid it out and took a picture while I was packing.

My transition area.

The dreaded lake.

Me and my number. I love that part. I feel so hardcore.

My new Brooks Mach 12 Spikeless Racing Spikes. With the laces switched out for elastics.

During transition 1, I somehow put my sock on sideways and got a blister because of it. I'm still a noob.

Me after! Glad to be done.

My results:
Swim: 12:48 (1/4 mile)
Transition 1: 1:43
Bike: 43:11 (12.4 miles, 17.2mph)
Transition 2: 1:05
Run: 30:00 (3.4 miles, 8:50 min/mile)
Overall: 1:28:45

Not happy with my swim time. At all. But in my defense, I signed up for this triathlon spur of the moment. I only swam 1 time since my last triathlon in June. I am really happy with my bike time. My speed was better AND the course was hillier than anything I've done before. Thanks to my bike shoes for that. :) And my run wasn't too bad either. I went at a 8:20 pace for the Naperville triathlon, but it was much hotter for this one and was hillier and a little longer. So I'm not beating myself up about that. I'm also especially happy with my Transition 2 time. 1:05 to switch from cycling to running shoes! yeah!

Overall, I've learned that I should probably keep swimming, even if I don't think I'm gonna do a Tri for a while. I could really feel a difference in my arms. AND I've now got experience with the open water swim and transitioning with cycling shoes. Yay!

He passed Phase 2!

So on Friday, I was a little bit of a nervous wreck. I knew that I was supposed to get a call from James if he passed Mountains (Phase 2). I wasn't really sure if I would still get a call if he didn't pass. Now, I know he's really great at what he does but I knew something could still happen. I knew I may be getting a letter from him so I took a late lunch so I would get home after mail was delivered. I opened up my mailbox and there it was! I was so excited. I took it up to my apartment to read it. It was about 3 or 4 days worth of letters in one, since he had been out in the field. Then as I was about to finish up reading, I got a call from a 706 number!



"Did you pass??"

"Yep. I don't have much time to talk. I just wanted to let you know that I passed, I'm okay, and I love you."

The total time for the phone call was about 3 minutes. I told him I was proud of him several times. He said something about being annoyed with the RIs because he didn't have very long to talk at that moment, but he thought they would have time later to call. This made me a little nervous because I knew I had to drive to Indiana that night and might not have signal the whole way. So I told him I loved him, was praying for him, and again how proud of him I was.

I got off the phone and texted pretty much everyone in his family and my family. Then I got on facebook. Pretty much all of my friends knew I was waiting for this, so I had to let them know. I can't tell you how much of a relief it was to hear that he passed. Phase 2 is generally considered the hardest phase, so most guys will have to recycle at least once. The fact that he was able to get through in one shot is pretty amazing. I was beaming the whole day.

So I drove to Indiana with my friend from the Tri Club.. nervously checking my phone signal for the whole 2 hours in case he did get another chance to call. We got there, had dinner, and then I was hanging out with some people from the club at the hotel that night, thinking about going to bed soon when my phone started going off! At that point, I was totally not expecting another call. I was so excited to pick up the phone.

"James?? You got to call me again??"

"Yep. I've got about ten minutes this time."

He had gotten his care package that me, my family, and his family sent. (will post a picture later). We sent him about 12 pounds of food, knowing he would be able to share it. The only thing that was sad is I sent him his favorite flavor of Clif bars and they took those away because they were considered "energy bars" but let him keep some other protein bars I sent? Annoying. He said he didn't think he had lost too much weight. Overall he seemed in very good spirits. He said that they will not being jumping in Florida. Because of budget cuts, they will be bused in. Which I'm sure he'll be annoyed about later to not get another jump on his record, but he was happy to be able to sleep on the bus ride to Florida. At least he was able to still do a jump during Phase 1.

So glad we got a whole 10 minutes to talk. He said they were letting the married guys call first and that's also why he was able to call earlier. So at that point, I was very happy that we are married. :)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

If I ever got a tattoo..

(source, Oh the lovely things)

I'm a bit obsessed with bird tattoos lately. But I'm pretty sure it may be a phase, so I'm afraid to get something permanent. My favorite lyrics ever are "Oh when I die hallelujah by and by. I'll fly away.." from the really old hymn.

I also found this awesome tumblr blog of all bird tattoos.

I didn't get a call yesterday from hubby. Which is good. No news is good news until tomorrow... he guessed it would be tomorrow evening. I might be driving to Indiana for my triathlon when he calls, so I'm starting to get nervous about silly things like "what if I don't have signal when he calls?" So I hope he calls before I leave. I'm pretty sure I would have heard from him by now if he had to recycle, but I'm trying really hard not to get my hopes up. Tomorrow is either going to be extremely good or very bad day.

This is how I've been praying for him. Even though he's not deployed yet, I still think this is an awesome list.

Oh the uncertainty. I feel strangely at peace though. I went on an easy bike ride this morning and it was actually chilly when I started! Such a nice break from the heat. God is good.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Running and Love

Yesterday, Donald Miller wrote a blog post entitled "How to Live a Great Love Story." My favorite quote from it is "Living a great love story doesn’t look like winning the lottery, it looks like training for a marathon." I love it when running distance is used as a metaphor.

Some other quotes I love:

"Sprinting is Sex, Distance is Love" - Anon

"Take my feet, and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee."
~Frances R. Havergal

I already have told my story about running toward God to find your life partner. Training for a race is such hard work, but so worth it. :)

From our college running days.

I should get a phone call from my man on Friday!- hopefully no earlier than then because that means he had to recycle. :/ I read this blog post about getting the call about recycling. I hope this doesn't happen, but it's great to find people that went through the same experience. I know after reading this, if it does happen to me, I'll be better prepared. Praying hard!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Races and time apart

This is kind of a late update, but I did the Waterfall Glen Xtreme 10 race last saturday. I ran a 1:36:03, which is a 9:36 pace. Not bad, but I remember when I could do that loop at 8:30 pace. I would like to get back there. :)

It had rained really hard the night before, and this creek was a lot higher than normal. It was about knee deep to cross over this foot bridge, so I decided to use my triathlon transition skills and take my shoes and socks off. It was actually the first time I have ever taken off my shoes during a running race. So I probably lost 2 minutes of so doing that, but this was only one mile into a 10 mile race, and I wasn't about to run 9 more miles in wet shoes. Nuh uh. I hate running in wet shoes.

In other news, I will find out for sure if my hubby passed Phase 2 this week. If he has to recycle (redo phase 2) then I think I'm supposed to find out Wednesday. If he makes it through, he will get to call me on Friday. I'm really praying hard. He is also hearing rumors that his unit might get deployed in January, which is sooner than we thought it would be. Not gonna lie- I did cry when I found that out. I know it's only a rumor but it is discouraging to hear something like that when he's not even done with Ranger School yet. Going to try to trust God on this one.

I also signed up to do another sprint triathlon. It's a small one in LaPorte, Indiana. Soo excited. It will be my first open water swim (first two triathlons were pool swims) and the first one with my cycling shoes.

It's actually kind of hard for me to tell myself it's okay to sign up for these races on my own. I always have done that stuff with my husband, so it feels weird to sign up without having him there to say "yes, let's do this." It's hard to not be able to talk to him on the phone and hear him say "Yes! That sounds fun, go do it." I've also started looking for jobs out near where we will be moving... It's still uncomfortable to have this sort of independence and have to make decisions like that on my own.

Feeling kind of discouraged, I googled "bible verses for Army wives" and I found this Faith Deployed blog. The first verse on that list is Joshua 1:9: "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." This was one of the main verses I kept on coming to when I was first trying to decide if I could really be an army wife. I felt like God keeps on telling me this, and I guess I needed reminding.

So. My mantra for the week: to stay strong and courageous for my man.