First of all, I’d like to share with you the fact that I ran over seven miles yesterday. Seven miles! IN A ROW. And the crazy part was, I wasn’t even dying at the end. I didn’t finish that seventh mile with half a lung protruding visibly from my right eyesocket or a giant splatter of barf down my shirt or ANYTHING! I felt—and here is where shit really gets fucked up—like I could have kept going. With the exception of my hands, which had frozen into aching, immobile claws thanks to Seattle’s recent sub-30 temperatures and my previously-fine, now woefully-inequate lightweight running gloves, I felt . . . fine.

It’s almost like this weekly training is actually working. Which I know, total no-shitter, and yet I am here to tell you I secretly did not believe I would ever get any better at running, no matter how often I tried to do it. I knew I would commit to the New Orleans half marathon no matter what, but I sort of thought I’d end up maybe running four or five miles then walking the rest of it.

Now I’m actually starting to believe, like full-on believe, I’m going to run thirteen miles in February. Thirteen miles! IN A ROW. And when that’s done, man, what will be next? Oh, the world is just filled with finish lines, friends.

In other weekend news of the far more exhausting sort, I took Riley on an overnight trip to a Great Wolf Lodge. A few months ago I was offered the opportunity to check out the resort under a reduced nightly rate, and thinking back to the wonderful time I had with Riley in D.C. last April I planned for a just-the-two-of-us outing.

I know, I know: total dick move to leave my other son at home, right? But it’s so rare that I get any time alone with either of them, and I figured Riley would appreciate it a lot more than Dylan would. Plus, selfishly, I knew it would be lots easier with just Riley, so.

It was kind of a hassle getting from our house to our hotel room—there was an hour and a half drive, a parking lot the size of Texas, then a check-in line that took over 30 minutes to navigate, but once we were settled Riley was super geeked. He picked out his bed and immediately chastised me when I absentmindedly dumped a bag on HIS covers.

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We got into our swim gear and made for the main attraction, which is a giant indoor waterpark. Of course, Riley wanted nothing whatsoever to do with the eight million waterslides or the lurching wave pool, but he loved the kiddie pool area and the (non-moving) jetskis which you can use to shoot water at other kids.

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After we’d pruned up nicely and were generally reeking of chlorine, we got dressed and checked out the arcade. It was kind of hard to find a game he could get into, but skeeball was a good choice. We played that until the machine pooped out an obligatory string of tickets, which he was able to turn in for a cheap plastic car and OH MY GOD THAT TOTALLY BLEW HIS MIND.

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The entire lodge was decorated for the holidays, and it was really pretty amazing.

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I’m not really sure he’s in the intended location for this bucolic, Lodge-branded photo, but what the hell.

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At around 8 PM there was an advertised story hour, which for some reason I had pictured as involving a nice older lady with bifocals, reading from a beloved childhood classic. Riley and I got situated in the midst of a large crowd of kids and parents and then this mildly terrifying animatronic display chugged to life, with various animals saying various robotic things and, worse, singing, and we sat there for a while before I whispered, “Hey, you want to go do something else?” to Riley and he said “Sure!” with no hesitation and I loved him just a little bit more.

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The coolest thing we did at the lodge involved buying a plastic wand which could be used to wave at various things around the hotel and trigger them to light up or open or make noise or whatever. If you pointed your want at enough of a certain group of objects (treasure chests, painting, etc) you completed a quest, and I guess there are several quests you can try and finish. We mostly just walked around “looking for magic”, and you know, it was oddly satisfying. Riley really loved it, and judging by the teeming throngs of other kids we saw wielding their own sticks, this seemed to be a hit for most age groups.

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If I have one complaint about the lodge, it’s the cost. I paid $100 for our room, which I assumed was at MOST half the going rate. Checking their website, though, I see that our room—the smallest, cheapest you can get—is currently $300. The waterpark is included, but there are lots of extra costs. The wand ($15, and that was for the basic wand. Oh, you could get fancier wands, if you wanted to), the kid-friendly activities, the arcade . . . it all adds up pretty quickly. Plus, we had dinner at a buffet and it was about $30 for the two of us. Ouch, especially since Riley basically ate a piece of pizza with the top scraped off and a handful of crackers. The room did have a little fridge in it, and if we go back I’d make use of that. There isn’t any room service, so unless you bring your own meals your choices are the buffet, a Pizza Hut, or a Starbucks.

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I wish the rates weren’t quite so high, or that at least they’d be more flexible with check-in and check-out times. This isn’t a gripe specific to the Great Wolf folks, obviously, but when you can’t get to your room until 4 PM and you have to check out by 11, that $300+ night cost for less than 24 hours really irks. On the upside, you can use the waterpark before and after those times.

Overall, though, the whole thing was fantastic, and I’m really grateful for the just-us time we got to spend together. One of my favorite moments was right before lights-out when we were both lying in our respective beds with our books, and I said, “I had a great day with you today,” and he said “Me too, Mommy. I had a good day with YOU.”

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Olivia
Olivia
13 years ago

Looks like a cool place, but those prices leave a lot of people out.

I paid $100 for our room, which I assumed was at MOST half the going rate. Checking their website, though, I see that our room—the smallest, cheapest you can get—is currently $300.

Not to be a jerk, but I shouldn’t that read “was at LEAST half”?

susie
13 years ago

That (the running, the kid hotel) is so, so cool – I bet that trip will be something Riley remembers, and it’s pretty cool you got to have one on one time with him!

Sarah
Sarah
13 years ago

That last sentence got me – the tiny little teardrop fell down my face! Maybe it’s the fact that I’m pregnant and emotions are in overdrive or the fact that all I could think about as I read this post is how I can’t wait to take my little girl (who is 2 TODAY!) to one of these. We have one about an hour and a half away – but like you, the price is a little daunting. I may just have to bite the bullet though because it sounds like such an amazing experience!! Glad you and Riley enjoy your time together so much! :)

js
js
13 years ago

The running 7+ miles? High five!
Looks like you & Riley had loads of fun. There’s a GWL around me and I’ve been wanting to take the girl for years, but cannot stomach the price. Especially since, as you pointed out, you’re paying for less than 24 hours. It’s what…18? I mean, seriously. And she’d end up like Riley, wanting just the kiddie pool, eating a cracker I paid $30 for. But I guess it boils down to the experience, which would be kickass, yes. But $$$!!!

Alli
13 years ago

I’ve kind of longed to go to one of those Great Wolf Resorts, but the cost is what really keeps us as bay. You broke it down well to keep it in perspective (less than 24 hours at that price?) and I think we would have to have a really special occasion to want to go.

BUT, I’m glad you got to go with Riley. It looks like you still had a lot of fun.

Kari
Kari
13 years ago

I love the picture of Riley in bed at the end, with the wand peaking out of the covers.

Great post, as usual.

steff
steff
13 years ago

The one in TX has the best vanilla scented lotion, did yours??? We went on a military rate and paid 1/2 price, but brought our own food in.

Melissa
13 years ago

Aww! So nice for the two of you!

“Life is full of finish lines…” I love it!

Katherine
Katherine
13 years ago

You two are very lucky to have each other. No foul on leaving Dylan home. He’ll get his turn.

Cara
13 years ago

I live in the land of Disney, so I have to admit those prices aren’t nearly as bad as some of what I shake my head at around here. It sounds like a really great trip and worth saving up for as a special treat. And, I think its brilliant to spend time with your oldest, not selfish.

Katherine
Katherine
13 years ago

You two are very lucky to have each other. No foul on leaving Dylan home. He’ll get his turn. And I assume you didn’t just tie him to the porch while you were gone.

warcrygirl
13 years ago

I wish I had done more of this sort of thing when my kids were a bit younger. We have a GWL here but I have no idea how much it costs compared to yours; Hubby is too cheap to even entertain the thought of going. LOVE your pictures!

Marie Green
13 years ago

Very awesome about your running progress! I’m really enjoying hearing about your achievments!

However, I am going to stand firm in my belief that places like that waterpark should have ONE fee that includes EVERYTHING (except maybe meals). There is no reason to nickel and dime parents to death at every turn. It would be much more “parent friendly” (which is the key to any kids’ attraction, if you want people to come back) if they didn’t have to worry about shelling out extra cash all day long. I can’t imagine going there with my THREE kids- $45 just to get them each a wand? Though your day looks like it was quite lovely, I’m not a fan of the company policies, like, AT ALL.

Lawyerish
13 years ago

Awesome on the seven miler! It’s amazing how the body just adapts to something that initially seems impossible. You’re going to do great in New Orleans!!

Lawyerish
13 years ago

Also, despite all the other extraneous charges, I am relieved to see that the lodge does not charge for the “Wolf Walk”, which appears to simply be a stroll through the LOBBY.

victoria
victoria
13 years ago

I love it that your training is going so well and that you’re doing things you never thought you could, and YAY for your great day with Riley. What a cool post. Thank you.

samantha jo campen
13 years ago

I *might* be PMS-ing but that last line of Riley saying he had a great time with YOU made me teary.

Those wands sound totally kick ass, too.

There’s a Great Wolf Lodge a few hours north of us in Wisconsin and while the radio commercials drive me batty, I’ve always kinda sorta wanted to go. Can’t wait till Theo gets a bit older!

Jennifer
13 years ago

congrats on finishing those 7 miles!! With much pressure from my husband, I finally decided to sign myself up for a few races. Don’t know why I decided to embark on this running manifesto in the middle of winter in NYC though, not my smartest decision. How do you keep warm running outdoors?

All Adither
13 years ago

I laughed at your use of the word chugging for the animatronic freakiness. So perfect.

Bianca
Bianca
13 years ago

That price is seriously ridiculous. It makes me really sad when I see really cool stuff for “families with kids” but really it should be “families with kids and a lot of spare cash.” Now I don’t know about you all, but for most families I know, money *is* an issue. Esp. these days.

Also makes me sad that I can think of tons of little kids who miss out on things like this because their parents don’t have the dough to shell out. :(

haitian american family of three

I have been running daily for the past two weeks and can only run 1/4 a mile so far, thank you for writing about improving and getting stronger. I hope that someday I’ll be able to say-“I just ran seven miles” its very encouraging to hear about your progress.

PS-The lodge? Is way too expensive for families these days. A good price point? 300-for a family of four for a weekend, all activities and meals included!!

gigi
gigi
13 years ago

YAY for you!!! Spending one on one time with you kids is amazing! I’ve tried to do that with mine (who is now 15) at least once a year – and he still looks forward to it (next year? who knows?). But it’s important; keep it up if you can.

Amy
Amy
13 years ago

Had to de-lurk to say we LOVE Great Wolf Lodge! I look for deals (we’re going a couple of days before Xmas when they had their lowest rates) and considering we can drive the 90 minutes instead of buying 4 plane tickets somewhere, I consider it a deal. But I live in Indy and usually we have to fly to get somewhere cool, unlike the beautiful Pacific Northwest. We’ll be leaving for our second trip there two weeks from today. Yeah!

While I’m here, congrats about the 7 miler. You totally CAN do it. When I committed to a half marathon, I’d never run more than 2 miles consecutively. Now I’ve run 14 half marathons and one full. If I can do it, you totally can!

You’re awesome, I love reading about your life and pretending I know you. :)

Nikki
Nikki
13 years ago

We have a Great Wolf Lodge and (even better!!) a Kalahari Resort about an hour from us. We’ve been to both and I have to say that our family prefers Kalahari. We always find deals (off times, discount days, etc which are advertised on the website) and it’s well worth the visit.
My boys love them and we go infrequently enough that it’s a definite treat.
Love the picture of you and Riley :)

Kate
13 years ago

Man, hearing about your running and PROGRESS!! makes me even more ticked that I haven’t been able to go because of this stupid hacking cough/cold that is clinging to me. I’m hoping to get back to the YMCA this week and at least start doing some brisk walking. I want to run and work up my endurance SO bad, yet fear I’ll never get there, so hearing that you *are* doing it is encouraging. Keep up the good work!

And your trip looks fun. It benefits both boys – they each get one-on-one time with a parent.

Kristin
Kristin
13 years ago

We do the Wilderness resort in the Dells every year with my SIL and her family. If we all stay together in a townhouse at the resort, use a coupon and make our own meals, we stay (and eat) for a week for almost the same amount of money it cost us when we used to go for the weekend and stay in a regular room. They also have some extras that you have to pay for (arcade, mini-golf, go-karts), but some fun stuff for free too (SIX waterparks (included), indoor play area, outdoor movie night, etc). But, my kids talk about it year round. It’s definitely the highlight of their young lives so far!

clover
clover
13 years ago

Would you go to GWL again if you had to pay full price?
We’ve been debating a short family trip (we’re in Puyallup, so it’s not far) but EGADS the expense! And that you only get a mere 19ish hours in your $300-a-night room. My babester is just weeks younger than Dylan (2/25), so I doubt she’s ready for it (we’re still working on rinsing her hair in the tub).
Plus – what if I turn up bathing suited in the background of someone’s photo that they then go post on their blog that’s read by thousands?!! (ahem, I am not a 7 mile runner)
So, looks like GWL may be a no go.. or a not yet.

Congrats on your 7 miles – very impressive. More impressive, that you weren’t army crawling by the time you got done!

Sundry
Sundry
13 years ago

Clover: were you thinking I shouldn’t have posted the pool pic? I didn’t notice much of anything in it but Riley, but on closer inspection I guess there are people in the background. Oh boy, so much to fret about in this day and age.

To answer your question, I could see wanting to go again when both boys are a little older. In the summer I’d prefer that our family vacations involve outdoor activities, but I could see this being a quick winter trip for us if we’re still in the area. It’s possible they run specials sometimes, or maybe midweek prices are cheaper.

Christine
Christine
13 years ago

The Lodge sounds exactly how I remember Chuck E. Cheese to be when I was what, 3? 4? in the very early 1980s… Which from what I know of the mouse now, is probably not quite right.

Too bad about the cost though. Yeesh.

BUT? The end? holy cow woman, just lovely.

Mariel
Mariel
13 years ago

Hey, good one on the seven miles! Is it icy there? What sort of runners do you wear?

clover
clover
13 years ago

Ha! Oh no, I wasn’t thinking you shouldn’t have posted the photo, I just saw.. er… some flesh there in the upper left corner – still trying to figure out what I’m looking at. That’s the risk you take being swimsuited in public. If you don’t want it to be seen, don’t show it, right?

I’ve looked into various (guessing) off-peak times at GWL… like april, TWTh??, but not much $$ difference. Maybe I should buy one of those damn entertainment books the elems sell. I won’t even do the Poo-yallup Fair because of the price!

Jane
13 years ago

This is cute. I can’t believe I’ve been reading since before Riley even existed and now he’s running around waving wands at things and having an opinion on animatronic story time. The universe blows me away sometimes.

Nila
13 years ago

I’m all choked up with that last paragraph. My boys are 11 and 13 and I can still remember moments like those. We take so much for granted and they grow so quickly. Enjoy every last moment!

Great job on the running. Truly amazing what our bodies can do if we just dedicate ourselves. If only I had the discipline.

Jen
Jen
13 years ago

7 miles! That’s amazing!! I can’t wait to hear all about the 13!

GWL sounds amazing! I have friends who have been to the one closest to us which is in Niagra Falls. My son is 3 and I can just imagine how much fun he would have. Your last sentence had me all choked up… those moments are just THE BEST aren’t they? Little boys are wonderful :)

Amanda
13 years ago

We live close to another GWL and have been a few times. My kids get more out of it at their ages 6 & 8. We get up there and have swimsuits ready, check-in, hit the pools. Maybe one of the adults goes and moves our stuff into the room while everyone is slipping and sliding. We go to a neighboring restaurant for dinner (much cheaper), bring breakfast stuff with us. Check out, put our stuff in the car, spend the entire next day slipping and sliding.

It does take some maneuvering that we learned from other parents who had been before us. Get on their email list for deals. Mid-week is definitely cheaper if you can swing it.

Kelli
Kelli
13 years ago

I love that you do these sorts of things one on one with Riley. And Dylan will get his turn when he’s old enough too. I just think it’s great and know you’re building great memories.

Lisa
Lisa
13 years ago

We took 3 kids down last November and it was a great weekend. You missed out if you did not try the slides yourself! :-) As you said the biggest downfall the cost. It ran us bout $1200.00 for a weekend. Kids are still asking when we get to go back.

obabe
13 years ago

Like someone else above, we go to Wilderness in the Wiscosin Dells, which is similar to GWL but has both indoors and outdoors parks.

We travel with my SILs family, share a condo or villa and bring ALL our own food (anything bigger then your normal hotel rooms gets you a full kitchen) and on the last day do one thing that is more money- go karts, mimi golf, etc. otherwise we have no incidental expenses. we also price shop for the cheaper weekends, etc.
we’ve done both winter and summer trips- the kids LOVE it, we all get to spend time together (were in chicago and theyre in Minn) and everyone has a blast. weve gone 4 or 5 times now. it IS expensive, but we consider it a vacation, and that may be the only “trip” we do all summer. there are alot of additional things kids can do, but we’ve never even found time to do them, so the cost factor doesnt even come up.
seeing your pictures is making me pine for next june to roll around already….

Jen @ lifelovenwine
13 years ago

This is so sweet. I’m so glad that you and Riley got to spend such a great trip together.

Also, congrats on the running!

Dawn
Dawn
13 years ago

From your recent posts, talking about struggling a bit these days with parenting, I am so proud of you for stepping away from the norm and just taking some time with Riley. You are so wonderfully self-aware, Linda, and I hope that this trip may have rejuvenated you.

Also, totally kicking ass on the training thing, and am sure you will continue to kick ass all the way to New Orleans! Plus, think how much more fun NO will be if they are coming fresh off their 1st ever Super Bowl win, which is totally possible!

Carrie
13 years ago

I’m so regretting not having hooked up with you while we were all there together – :( my kids would have loved Riley. But, that is so sweet that you got 1 on 1 time w/him and your little one as well w/daddy.

That said, they are running specials right now ($189.00 for the rooms we had which isn’t too shabby) through the month of February, and you can start using the waterpark before check in and stay after check out until it closes, so 1 night (we think) is plenty. And I agree w/you – I like to be outside during our warmer months here, but when it’s freezing ass cold like it is now, it was awfully nice to be in there, where it was warm!

Here’s my write up on the Seattle Mom Blogs site: http://seattlemomblogs.com/2009/12/a-howlin-good-time-at-great-wolf-lodge/

Samantha
13 years ago

I want you to be my mom. You are so cool.

Pam
Pam
13 years ago

1. I am so amazed (and jealous) of your running and the full on commitment to it all. KUDOS to you. and 2. I can not WAIT to take my little man on a Mommy and Me vacation. The DC trip and now this cool place – how awesome. I’m MAYBE okay with the cost because it’s just so different and neat, but if they didn’t have that Starbucks, well then, FORGET IT. :)

Alyson
13 years ago

You are the cool Mommy on the block. You know that already, right?

Mama Bee
13 years ago

Is it retarded that I am way jealous of that magic wand thingy? I wonder if my family would mind if I deserted them for a weekend so I could go get my Great Wolf Lodge on…

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