Baby 2.0 – 4 Weeks

(Originally written on September 8, 2014)

Here we go again! Time for weekly pregnancy updates. Yay! I am so happy that I blogged about each week of my pregnancy last time around. It’s nice to look back on what I was feeling and experiencing, and how my body was changing during such an exciting time. I plan to do the same thing with this pregnancy. So let’s get into it!

Baby

This week the baby is the size of a poppy seed! According to BabyCenter, week 4 begins the embryonic period for the baby which lasts until week 10. He or she will start developing organs this week and according to The Bump, the neural tube, which is the building block of the spine and brain has already been formed. The amniotic sac is also now in place, and the placenta is developing and getting ready to begin nourishing the baby.

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Body

This is the week I found out I was pregnant, but I had multiple signs that I was before I got a positive test. I have heard that pregnancy symptoms can be worse the second time around and so far that seems to be true. I am so tired, my boobs are so sore (and they feel fuller and heavier- already!), my headaches are worse, I feel overly emotional, I’m so hungry, I go back and forth between feeling really hot and really cold, my skin is breaking out, and I notice more achiness in my uterus. All of these symptoms didn’t happen until later on in my first pregnancy. Maybe it’s because I’ve been through it once before so I know what to look out for, but I am hoping this trend doesn’t continue! If it does I’m in for a much more difficult pregnancy than last time, that’s for sure! Yesterday I totally passed out on the couch for almost 2 hours because I was so tired. And it’s only week 4!

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I also feel like I’m full of water and air. I’m super gassy and burping all the time, which was also something that happened with my first pregnancy. The other night I had the WORST gas pain in my stomach. It really freaked me out and took my breath away, it was so painful. Eventually it went away when I worked on massaging it out of my stomach. I’ve also noticed my stomach getting progressively more bloated as the day goes on. By the time I go to bed I look like I’m a few months pregnant! It’s crazy.

Mind

I tried very hard to minimize my stress level this week but it’s been difficult. I was thrown two huge pieces of news this week. First, on Friday I found out I was being destaffed from my school which was a huge shock because I was starting my 7th year there. The next day is the day I found out I was pregnant. Talk about an extreme low followed by an extreme high. In both cases I’m trying not to worry too much. There’s a lot of unknowns about which school and position I will end up in, and of course there are a lot of unkowns during the first few months of pregnancy. I’m focusing on enjoying the present day rather than worry about what’s to come. So far I think I’m doing a good job, but it’s not easy.

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I’ll feel better once I get my blood tested to find out what my hCG and progesterone levels are tomorrow. My doctor recommended I do that when I get a positive test, since I was seeing signs of low progesterone in my cycle (very short luteal phase of 7-10 days, a lot of spotting before my period, etc.). Progesterone is very important, especially in the first few weeks before the placenta starts making it on it’s own. If it’s not at an optimal level I’ll need to supplement it so I don’t lose the baby. Obviously I also am interested in my hCG level (pregnancy hormone) so I can make sure it’s rising appropriately. I also need to get my thyroid levels checked, because they also changed pretty quickly once I got pregnant last time and I may have to have my medication adjusted. Whew! It’s a lot to think about.

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Another thing that’s been on my mind is that we have actually shared our news with a lot more people that we did at this point last time around. This is mostly because more people knew we were trying. We haven’t told family yet because we’re waiting until we see them in person in a couple weeks, but we have shared with close friends. The first person I told was obviously Kevin. Then I told my friend Laura, who already pretty much knew because I run with her almost every day and she was getting the play-by-play. She also charted her cycle using the same method I did, so I would ask her a ton of questions as the days went by. I also told one of my best friends from home because we have been trying to get pregnant at the same time and have been sharing stories/symptoms. I told the girls I run with every weekend and my former Bradley teacher/doula who had become a close friend of mine. I was hesistant to share with this many people at first but then I realized that if something were to happen, these are the people I would tell anyway and who would support me. So why hold back our happiness and excitement?

Food

Ummm… what am I NOT eating this week? I find myself feeling shaky and lightheaded when I need to eat (which is happening more often lately- every 2 hours or so). I’ve been even waking up at night hungry, which was one of the first signs that made me wonder if I was pregnant since that’s what happened last time. Despite all my eating I actually lost a little weight this week. I can tell my metabolism is working hard to grow this little poppy-seed sized baby. I’m still able to eat pretty healthily and haven’t really had any aversions or cravings. We’ll see how long that lasts!

How I told Kevin about Baby #2!

How I told Kevin about Baby #2!

Fitness

One of my goals when we started trying to get pregnant was to increase my mileage so I had a good fitness base going into pregnancy like last time, and also to keep a more consistent strength training routine. My goals are to run 20-30 miles a week and strength train twice a week. I’ll cut my mileage down from there when it starts to be too much. This week my pace was all over the place because I did speedwork early in the week before knowing I was pregnant, and it was a really hot all week long which had me slowing down after that (so excited for fall weather!). I’m happy to meet both of my goals despite being very, very tired. However, going to bed at 8 p.m. has helped me wake up bright and early and ready to work out. I feel best in the mornings right now so I know I need to make the most of that time.

  • Monday – 4 miles @ 7:58 pace (speedwork before knowing I was pregnant!)
  • Tuesday - 3 miles @ 10:07 pace
  • Wednesday – 4 miles @ 9:20 pace
  • Thursday - Body Pump
  • Friday – 3 miles @ 10:18 pace
  • Saturday – Body Pump + Arlington Memorial 5K  @ 10:44 pace
  • Sunday - 12 miles @ 10:46 pace
  • Run – 29 miles
  • Strength – 2x

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Week 4 Summary

  • Weight gained this week: -0.2 lbs.
  • Total weight gained: -0.2 lbs.
  • Pregnancy tests taken: 4
  • Days until bloodwork done: 1
  • # of crying episodes: at least 5- happy and sad tears.
  • # of naps taken: 3
  • Maternity items bought: a “big brother” shirt for Kevin :)

4 weeks last time around!

Baby 2.0 – The Details

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By now you’ve probably read yesterday’s post and know our special news- we’re pregnant with baby #2! Ahhh! I’m currently about 10 weeks along and have been dying to announce this pregnancy publicly for weeks. We are announcing a couple weeks earlier than we did last time, but at this point we’ve seen the baby on an ultrasound and heard the heartbeat multiple times at the doctor and with a home doppler, so we feel comfortable sharing our news! Things are quite a bit different this time around, and I’ve been secretly blogging all the details for weeks! This is a main reason why the blog has been quiet for a little while- I’ve been blogging but not publishing them yet! Let’s start at the very beginning… DISCLAIMER: Lots of TMI stuff in this post related to trying to get pregnant, tracking ovulation, etc. I blogged about all of this last time and I love looking back on it all. So here we go again!

The journey to getting pregnant was not so easy the second time around. With Kevin, we had gotten married a few months before and weren’t actively “trying,” but I was charting my cycle using the Fertility Awareness Method. The month I got pregnant I ovulated two days normal than usual, and Baby K was conceived. Surprise! Once it happened we were so excited and knew that it happened that way for a reason.

My husband and I did not take our decision to try for baby #2 lightly. It took us both a long time to feel like we were ready- physically, emotionally, and financially- since we all know babies are expensive (but worth it!). I always knew that I was going to attempt to time baby #2 a little better than #1- if possible. Kevin was born the second week of school. Not ideal to say the least. In a perfect world I would have liked to have a baby anywhere from March-June, so that I could take my maternity leave and then have more time with the baby over my summer break. This meant starting to try to conceive early to late summer.

I finally started feeling the baby itch this past June when Kevin was 21 months old. I don’t know what changed for me but I suddenly felt ready for another baby. We decided to start trying that month. I had been charting again for a month or so and began taking prenatal vitamins as well. When I started charting I noticed something surprising that was different from my charts pre-pregnancy. I had a super short luteal phase and a lot of spotting between ovulation and my period. My luteal phase was 7-10 days max, which can be problematic when trying to conceive. I figured it could just be my cycle still getting back to normal, especially since I had just completely stopped breastfeeding at 21 months post partum. My cycle had been back for over a year at this point but it was pretty inconsistent at times. I wasn’t too concerned yet and just decided I’d keep an eye on it as the months passed.

Our first cycle of “trying” was June. I was taking my temperature, tracking my ovulation signs and using Fertility Friend. We pinpointed ovulation and were able to time everything pretty well. I was hopeful but I also knew it was our first cycle trying, and I wasn’t sure what would happen between ovulation and when my period was due. Of course, as the days past ovulation went by I convinced myself that I was pregnant. I had spotting but I told myself it might have been implantation. We were in Oregon at the time and I was conservative with not drinking very much at the wedding we were going to just in case. And then I got my period the next day. My luteal phase was 10 days this month, which isn’t great, but 10 is considered the minimum to support a pregnancy so I was hopeful it would continue that way in the months to come.

The next cycle we continued charting and tracking my temperature and ovulation signs. We again got our timing aligned with ovulation and I was again, very optimistic that it would be our month. I paid attention in the days that followed and once again convinced myself that I was pregnant. My boobs felt sore, I didn’t feel great, I was getting headaches, etc.  But I started spotting again and then I got really sick while we were at home in PA. I thought it was food poisoning, but I couldn’t keep anything down. In the back of my mind I wondered if it could be pregnancy, but it would’ve been way too soon for symptoms like that. I think the shock of that severe illness caused me to get my period early, and my luteal phase was only 7 days long. Not good.

My period came on August 11th and I was actually scheduled for my annual OB appointment on the 21st. While she was doing my check-up I told her that we had been trying to get pregnant and that I suspected my progesterone might be low, due to the spotting I had through my luteal phase and also how short it was. In fact, I realized that my cycles had been short (only 20-28 days max, and usually on the shorter range of that) since February. I also had some other signs of low progesterone, like hair loss, being cold all the time, and very moody. These symptoms are also low thyroid symptoms as well (and I do have hypothyroidism which I control with Synthroid medicine), but all of my thyroid tests came back normal. It made sense that it might have been related to low progesterone instead.

The doctor told me I was stressing too much and that it’s only been a couple months, my hormones were probably a little out-of-whack due to finishing breastfeeding a few months prior (even though we were down to only 1 nursing session a day for many months, apparently that can still affect hormones). She said to keep trying and tracking my cycle and if I don’t get pregnant after 6 months to come back. She also said when I do end up getting a positive test, to come back for bloodwork right away to test my progesterone and make sure it’s at a good level. I left feeling a bit discouraged.

The next day I was running with my friend Laura and she mentioned using ovulation predictor tests this cycle. I thought I had my ovulation pretty pinpointed due to tracking my temperature, other ovulation signs (cervical fluid, etc.), and the cramping I felt each month on ovulation day. But I figured it couldn’t hurt! I bought a pack at the drug store and started doing the tests that night, which was cycle day 11. Laura also gave me some of her leftover tests to use (she’s currently pregnant). I tested each morning and night, waiting for the second line to get as dark as the control line. I felt excited to add something new into our plan and to see if it would help. Around cycle day 12 I started noticing some signs that ovulation was approaching (specifically my CF), so we started doing what we need to do every night to make sure we had a high chance of conception once I ovulation (TMI, but it was exhausting- LOL!). On cycle day 14 I got my positive ovulation test in the evening before bed, followed by another one the next morning- which meant ovulation was happening within 12-36ish hours! Sure enough, my temperature spiked on day 16, confirming that I had ovulated on day 15 (August 25th).

My first positive OPK test

My first positive OPK test

Test progression from CD 11 to 15

Test progression from CD 11 to CD 15

Then the waiting began. Oh, the dreaded two week wait. It is terrible! I tried very hard not to focus on every little thing I was feeling and psych myself out, but some of the symptoms were hard to deny this time. I kept a little log of what I was feeling as the days passed. I started feeling some things around 5 DPO. Here’s my log:

  • August 30th (5 DPO) – very slight cramps in afternoon/evening
  • August 31st (6 DPO) – crampy, hating everyone, weird dream
  • September 1st (7 DPO) – bad headache, really tired/long nap, bloated
  • September 2nd (8 DPO) – tired, headache, increased appetite, increased CF, tingly boobs, higher temperature than usual
  • September 3rd (9 DPO) – woke up in middle of the night hungry, woke up in middle of the night to pee, very warm, crampy, tender boobs, headache, acne breakout
  • September 4th (10 DPO) – took a pregnancy test when I woke up- NEGATIVE… but still hungry, sore boobs, crampy in lower abdomen all day
  • September 5th (11 DPO) – sore boobs, crampy in lower abdomen (feels like pinches and pulls), hungry
  • September 6th (12 DPO) – POSTIVE PREGNANCY TEST! Same symptoms as yesterday, very hungry, burping a lot (this happened last pregnancy too!), shaky/lightheaded
  • September 7th (13 DPO) – another positive test, same symptoms, hot and hungry all day
  • September 8th (14 DPO) – another positive test, missed period
  • September 9th (15 DPO) – pregnancy confirmed through blood test, hCG: 135, progesterone: 29.4 (both good numbers!)
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My barely there second line!

At this point I was 4 weeks pregnant and started blogging weekly about what was going on. Looking back on these symptoms now, it’s pretty obvious that this was the real thing when compared to the first two months where I convinced myself I was pregnant and I wasn’t. The mind can definitely play tricks!

My chart the month we conceived, with all the personal/TMI info cropped out :)

My chart the month we conceived, with all the personal/TMI info cropped out :)

I feel so thankful that it only took 3 months to conceive this baby. Even though at times I was very impatient and frustrated, I know many other people try for MUCH, MUCH longer than that. We feel very fortunate to have had two healthy pregnancies so far.

How I told Kevin about Baby #2!

How I told Kevin about Baby #2!

And those are all the details (probably more than you ever wanted to know!) Onto the weekly updates :)

From 3 to 4

Kevin has a very special announcement to make…

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Yes, our family will be growing from 3 to 4 this May! We are pregnant with Baby #2 and could not be happier!

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We are so excited for this next chapter in our lives. We love you so much already!

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365 Days of Fitness: September Recap

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Another late 365 Days of Fitness post! We’re more than halfway through October and I haven’t recapped September! Ugh, I am terrible, but I’ve been so busy. This month marked the end of my 101 day running streak but that didn’t mean I stopped being active. I was still able to move my body in some way every day in September. I’m extra proud of myself because this month I began going back to Body Pump consistently two times a week, and I’m really feeling strong as a result.

Here’s the picture recap!

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It’s hard to believe this year is 3/4 of the way over! Only 3 more months to go!

Previous Months

All of my pictures were taken with the FitSnap App (it’s free!). Check it out!

French Creekend 2014

This past weekend we went away for my favorite fall tradition- some good old fashioned time in the woods at French Creek! For almost 20 years my family and friends have been coming here over Columbus Day weekend and staying in the cabins. I have so many amazing memories from French Creek, and couldn’t wait to make more! We weren’t able to go the year Kevin was born because he was only 2 weeks old, but we went last year and had a great time. I knew this year would be even more fun and also challenging because he’s mobile now! I was right, but he had a blast!

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Our long weekend started on Thursday after work. We packed the car in the morning and left for Pennsylvania as soon as we got off. We couldn’t wait to get away and disconnect from the world (no cell phone service there!).

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We got there a little past 9 and our friend D.J. showed up a few minutes later. My dad and sister and some other family and friends were already there in their cabins. Like last year, we shared a cabin with my best friends from home, but only D.J. came on Thursday night. We hung out for a while and then we all went to bed since we were exhausted.

The next morning little Kev was up bright and early at 5:20 a.m. Yeah… vacations aren’t really “vacations” with a toddler! He doesn’t normally wake up that early but he was in an unfamiliar place and had gone to bed late the night before, so his routine was all thrown off. Kevin was full of energy and being loud while D.J. was still sleeping, so we decided to head out to the grocery store to get him out of the house. While we were out we saw a beautiful sunrise- the only perk of having a toddler who wakes up way too early!

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Once we got back from the store D.J. had woken up and we all laid around and relaxed. Eventually I went for a run, hoping to do 8-10 miles. But I was soooo unbelievably tired from my rough night of sleep and early wakeup that I was dragging. I decided I didn’t have it in me and stopped after 4 miles. The beautiful scenery helped distract me, but I knew it wasn’t my day for a long run!

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After running, showering and nap time for little Kev, we went for a walk with my sister and enjoyed the nice weather before the storms were forecasted to roll in.

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We also started a fire and made some s’mores! Because dessert before dinner is always a good idea :) Kevin tried his first s’more and was in love.

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He walked around with marshmallow all over his face and asked for more. It was really funny :)

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Later that evening we had more friends arrive. My sister’s friend Whitney came and my best friend Christy did too! I love having Christy at French Creek because she is the one who has come with me ever since we were in elementary school. It’s pretty amazing to think that we’ve been coming here for almost 20 years! We put little Kev to bed and started the party. (Thank God for Kevin’s sound machine that kept him asleep all night!)

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However, when you have a toddler who wakes up in the 5 a.m. hour party time isn’t as much fun! Again, I tried to keep him quiet but in a small cabin with thin walls it was kind of a lost cause. Luckily we have very understanding friends! We ate some breakfast and I was going to take Kevin for a walk but it was raining pretty hard outside. So instead we enjoyed some indoor playtime and waited for the others to wake up. Once they did we lazed around some more (have I mentioned how good it felt to relax???) and my husband practiced his swaddling skills on the adults. He’s the best swaddler ever! It put my friends right to sleep :)

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Eventually I headed out for another run. I figured since it was raining I wouldn’t feel like doing much and told my husband I’d be back in about 30 minutes. But once I was out there I felt amazing! I went back to the cabin to tell him I wanted to run more since I didn’t bring my phone, and ended up running 10 miles. Woo hoo!

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I was starving when I got home and luckily Christy had been making delicious veggie soup in the crockpot and it was just about ready. Our last visitors also arrived around this time- my other best friend Sandy and her husband Brian. I took a quick shower then we all ate. Around the time the rain stopped (yay!) so we all went outside for a walk.

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Every year since 2002 Christy and I have carved into our special tree. We went back to add ’14 for this year and the boys decided to carve into their own tree too.

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We even saw a turtle in the woods! Kevin was so excited!

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After our tree carving we walked over to the trail that goes around the lake. We found “our rock” and took our yearly picture on it. I love traditions like this!

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Once we started getting hungry again we headed back to the cabin. The boys started a fire and I laid down for a bit with little Kev. He had already taken a nap but was sleepy from his early wake up call.

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After our resting time we went over to my dad’s cabin to visit with him and his girlfriend for a little while, and then started cooking dinner. We had burgers (black bean for me) and hotdogs and fries, veggies and hummus, chips and salsa, etc.- so yummy!

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Eventually we put little Kev to bed and the games began again! Apparently they went on for quite a while too, but I didn’t make it that long. I was in bed by 11 :)

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Once again, our little cutie was up at 5 a.m. We started making breakfast for everyone as they slowly woke up, then had to start packing up to leave.

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It was an amazing, disconnected, and relaxing weekend that went by way too fast. I can’t wait to see how much Kevin has grown when we come back next year!

French Creek 2013 vs. 2014

French Creek 2013 vs. 2014

French Creekend 2013

Stridebox: September

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 9.11.18 PM I’ve been eyeing Stridebox- a monthly subscription box for all things running related – for a few months now and finally signed up this past August. For only $15, I thought it was at least worth a try! I received my first box in early September, and have slowly been testing out each product that I got throughout the month. Now that I’ve sampled them all I can give a full review of the products and what I think about Stridebox in general!

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A3 Bar – Peanut Butter & Jelly: I took this bar with me to eat before Body Pump class one morning. The class I take during the week is from 5-6 AM and I get pretty hungry if I don’t eat anything before. This bar is like a fig newton but denser and gluten-free. It was really tasty, and even though it was small it has a decent amount of calories and protein so it filled me up until I could eat my real breakfast [a green smoothie] a couple of hours later. I would purchase more of these for sure! Retail: $26.40/12 bars ($2.20 each)

Clif Shot Bloks – Cran Razz: I’m normally a Honey Stinger Energy Chews girl, but I do occasionally eat shot bloks. I especially like the Margarita flavored ones that have extra sodium. They are great for those summertime, super sweaty long runs. I ended up really loving this new flavor of shot bloks though (At least I think it’s new, I haven’t seen it before). They were delicious! I’ve been waking up hungry lately so I ate two of them before my morning runs throughout the week, and I could tell a huge difference in my energy level and even my pace while running. I would definitely use them during a long run too. Retail: $35.75/18 packs ($1.98 each)

Gu Energy Gel – Root Beer: Although I like and use Gu energy gels (salted caramel and peanut butter are my current favorites!), I am not a fan of the flavor of root beer so I passed this onto my husband who is. Here is his review: “The Gu had a slight root beer flavor. It didn’t really live up to my expectations. I wouldn’t buy it again.” Retail: $11.60/8 packets ($1.45 each)

Beet Elite Neo Shot – Regular Flavor:  I have to admit, I saved this one for last. I don’t know why, but something about the thought of ingesting powdered beet juice made me nervous. Apparently it helps the body make more Nitric Oxide to increase endurance and improve the intensity of your workout. It also helps with recovery afterward. It’s called a “shot” because you are supposed to mix it with only 4 ounces of water. I tried it before a run where I didn’t get much sleep the night before, hoping it would give me a boost. It was a little hard for me to get down, but I was hoping the benefits outweighed that. Unfortunately I was still dragging hard on my run so it was difficult for me to see if this type of product would be worth using. They also have a black cherry flavor, which I would probably try.​ On the Stridebox website there is a ton of information and research about it. It’s all really interesting, but I’m not sure I would pay $3.50 for one little packet on my own though. Retail: $34.99/10 packets ($3.50 each)

MRM Reload Recovery (Watermelon & Lemonade): I really liked this recovery drink. It contains amino acids which help with muscle fatigue and recovery. I drank the lemonade one after a hard workout and it took a while for the powder to fully dissolve, but once it did it tasted great. However, after letting it sit for a while I didn’t like it as much. It had a strange aftertaste and the consistency changed a bit. I would recommend drinking it all at once if you can. I tried that with the watermelon one and it worked out much better. Retail: $29.99/24 servings ($1.25 each)

SK Energy Shot – Strawberry Lemonade: I let my husband have this too because I drink quite a bit of coffee and didn’t want to overload myself with caffeine. He’s more into the energy drinks and shots like these anyway. This one is a bit different than the ones he usually drinks because it contains natural caffeine from green coffee beans. Here’s his review: “The energy shot surprised me for never having heard of the brand. It was flavorful and didn’t leave a dry taste after drinking it like most other energy shots do. I felt the energy rush almost immediately and it was enough caffeine to push me through my morning. Also, I never felt any type of ‘crash’ that most other shots have.” Retail: $35.88/12 bottles ($2.99 each)

Multifunctional Seamless “Run”dana: This is one of Stridebox’s own products. It is a multi-use bandana that is tube-shaped and can be worn in a variety of ways. It’s also anti-UV, which is a nice perk. Kevin tried it out and wore it around the house one day, and I’ve worn it while running as a headband and around my wrist as a sweatband, but it comes with a card that shows all the other ways you can wear it. I think it would be nice to wear in the winter around your neck or to cover more of your head to keep it warmer. Retail: $9.99 eachDSCN3452

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Running Sticker:  Super cute reminder that it’s always a good time to go run! If you would like to sign up for your own Stridebox, you can click here. It’s only $15 a month, and after receiving two boxes I can say that what you receive is worth more than that. It also gives you a nice variety of different products that you might not otherwise get to try without having to buy a large package of them. The other nice thing about Stridebox is they are working on opening their own Stride Store. So if you end up liking something a lot, you will have the option to purchase more of them at a discounted price on their website. Currently you can access the different company’s websites through a partner link, which can get your some discounts too.

The full product list that comes in the box

The full product list that comes in the box

I just received my October box and am going to be trying those products over the next couple of weeks. I’m very excited about a few of them! I’ll be back with another review at the end of the month! Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Stridebox (I wish I was! LOL). I purchased this subscription myself and all opinions are my own.

Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon

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This morning I ran the Woodrow Wilson Half and I have to say- I think it’s my favorite of all the half marathons I have ever done (and this was #16!). An absolutely beautiful course from Mount Vernon to National Harbor, perfect weather, great organization and amazing company along the way made this race very memorable for me. Here are the details!

My alarm went off at 4:45 a.m. so I could start getting ready for the race. I drank my coffee, ate my usual peanut butter and honey toast and got dressed. It was the chilliest morning we’ve had here since before summer (a little under 40 degrees!), so I went back and forth on what to wear. Eventually I decided on shorts with a short sleeved shirt, and I wore a really old sweatshirt of Kevin’s on top to throw right before the race started. I ended up being very happy with this choice!

Amanda came to my house at 5:45 and we all headed north. Kevin was going to drop us off at Mount Vernon where the race started and then meet us at National Harbor, since this was a point-to-point race. Chanda was already there when we arrived around 6:20 AM. We were really cold, but we quickly tried to find a porta-potty line so we could go before the 7 AM start. It was pretty dark out still and we could only find a single porta-potty with a really long line, so we got in and waited… and waited… and waited. Time kept ticking away and the line wasn’t getting any shorter. The sky started lightening up and soon we were only about 10 minutes away from start time. We were getting nervous!

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Once it got lighter we noticed there was a sign on the porta-potty that said it was for elites/VIP runners only. Oops! Clearly a ton of other people missed this memo too. A man came over and told us we had to leave the line so the elites could use it. We were pretty annoyed because we had been waiting for almost 40 minutes at this point (this was literally my only complaint about the entire race). We decided to leave the line and go pee in the woods really quickly before the race start. I’m a veteran at this but the other girls were a little more hesitant. I was happy to show them it’s no big deal :) Once we finally were able to go we felt a lot better and were able to hop right into our corral a few minutes before the start.

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I felt relaxed, excited and ready to run! It was a beautiful morning! I said goodbye to Chanda and Amanda and we were off!

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The first mile or so is entirely downhill so it was hard not to go too fast. I said I wouldn’t but of course I did! How could I not? I didn’t have any real goal for this race. I just wanted to enjoy myself and go with how I felt. I felt amazing in the moment, so I went with it :)

  • Mile 1 – 8:23
  • Mile 2 – 8:18
  • Mile 3 – 8:24

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Running on this course brought back a lot of memories for me because it is on the George Washington Parkway which runs alongside the Mount Vernon Trail. I have done many long runs on this trail and am very familiar with it, yet somehow I forgot that there are quite a few rolling hills. Nothing too terrible, but enough to make you work to get up and over them. Not surprisingly, once the hills started my pace slowed down a bit, but I was so happy and felt strong so I didn’t notice much.

  • Mile 4 – 8:30
  • Mile 5 – 8:39
  • Mile 6 – 8:24
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Right around the halfway point!

The course continued to wind through the trees and along the Potomac River. It was so gorgeous, and looking around the scenery really made the miles fly by. In the photo below of the river, you can actually see the bridge we were running towards in the left corner! However, shortly after mile 7 I started feeling that gurgly feeling in my stomach that no runner wants to feel during a run and especially not a race. Luckily I saw a porta-potty a few minutes later and made a beeline towards it. Talk about perfect placement!

  • Mile 7 – 8:45
  • Mile 8 – 10:34 (<— potty break)

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After my bathroom stop I was pretty happy I had no real expectations for this race! I didn’t feel guilty or bad at all for having to stop for a potty break and just got right back to it- although it was a little hard to get my momentum going again after stopping. But I felt about 100x better and was happy that whatever it was that didn’t agree with me was gone! At about mile 8.5 we started heading into an out-and-back part of the race through Old Town Alexandria. I LOVE this area with all of its cute shops. It was a nice change of scenery, and seeing the runners who were on their way back was motivating. It was also really cool to run straight through all of the many red lights we usually have to stop at when we’re going through this area!

  • Mile 9 – 9:01

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The turn-around point was around mile 9.5. I was hoping I would see Chanda and Amanda on my way back and I did! I checked my watch when I saw them pass and noticed they were ahead of pace (Chanda’s goal was under 2:10, which would be a PR for her).  I saw Amanda first and then Chanda a few seconds after her. Seeing them gave me a boost of energy, and I enjoyed my last mile before heading on to the bridge that would take me to the finish!

  • Mile 10 – 8:47

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Around mile 10.5 we made our way on to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. I have driven across this bridge many times and Kevin and I even ran on it once a few years ago, but the experience of running across it with thousands of other people was amazing! It almost made me forget I was running up a pretty intense hill! Of course I had to stop at the top to take a picture :)

  • Mile 11 – 8:58

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One of the coolest parts of running on the bridge was running through the sign that said Welcome to Maryland (in the photo below- but it’s really small!). I couldn’t believe I ran to Maryland! After that we started running on the ramp to cross back over the highway and exit the bridge. I could see National Harbor ahead and I was so excited!

  • Mile 12 – 9:10

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I texted Kevin that I was getting off the bridge and he started taking some photos as I got closer to the finish line. We circled around the water and then headed to the finish area.

  • Mile 13 – 8:44

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And then I was done!

  • Finish Time – 1:56:20 / 8:53 average pace

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I quickly grabbed a bagel, banana, and some water, dropped it off with Kevin, James (Chanda’s husband) and our babies, and ran to try to meet Chanda and Amanda. The end of the course was all roped and fenced off, so it was hard to get too far out. I was afraid I would miss them, so I just hopped a barrier and waited about .10 miles from the finish line. I saw Amanda and her bright pink compression sleeves coming through first.

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And Chanda was only about 30 seconds behind her!

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I hopped in with Chanda and ran with her to the finish. I was so excited for her because she’s been working toward a sub 2:10 half marathon, and she DID IT!

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Both Chanda and Amanda finished in 2:08 and were all smiles when they were done! They loved the race as much as I did.

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We hung around for a little while discussing the race and eating some food. I also got some snuggles from my #1 fan. I love him!

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Eventually we got pretty chilly again so we headed out. I could not stop smiling on the way home. It was such a great race!

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I hope I can run the Woodrow Wilson Half Marathon every year!  It was actually ranked amongst the top 27 best half marathons in the U.S. by Runner’s World in 2013, and I love that it’s practically in my backyard. I’m also so happy I was finally able to run it, since it was rescheduled last year due to the government shutdown and the fact that the course goes through national parks. They ended up rescheduling it for the same weekend as the Outer Banks Marathon, so Amanda and I had to defer. It feels good to finally complete it!

I am so proud of my friends for their awesome performances too.  Chanda got a new PR, and Amanda kicked butt in preparation for her full marathon next month. My friend Gina was also there and got 8th in her age group for the 6K race! I was also very happy with my time considering I had no real expectations, and made a bathroom stop and some photo stops along the way. What a wonderful way to spend a fall Sunday morning. I’ll see you next year, Wilson Bridge!

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