MB Marathon 2016 Training: Week 1

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Woo hoo! Week 1 of training is in the books – and wow, did I pick a challenging week to start training. I gave myself a week off after the Richmond Half and jumped back in this past Monday, which was the start of a very busy week. On Tuesday after work we went up to my dad’s house in Pennsylvania, where we stayed until Sunday. With a full social calendar and full stomachs (way too much food and too many drinks!), I had to get a little creative and flexible when it came to fitting in my workouts. Not the most ideal way to start training, but I did what I could and tried not to stress. I know I still have many weeks ahead of me!

Here is the overview of the week – what I had planned vs. what I actually did.

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And here is the detailed rundown!

Monday: Rest Day. Love starting the week with some R&R!

Tuesday: Speedwork – 3 x 1600m w/ 800m recovery + WU/CD [6 miles total / 48:25]. What to do when you’re too afraid to go to the track in the dark but still need to get your speedwork in? Run laps around a big shopping center! Laura and I did 3 x 1600m this morning (6 miles total) and felt safe in the well-lit area. It was challenging because unlike a track, the loop we ran was not totally flat (but pretty close), it’s been 3 weeks since our last track workout and it was cold! We also aren’t really used to doing speedwork first thing in the morning anymore, since we had been doing it after work on Mondays. I think it’s going to take little trial and error to get the fueling + hydration right. Our Garmin’s interval workout feature doesn’t show splits until the end, and we were really shocked and happy to see that 2 out of our 3 miles were sub-7 minute pace, despite all of those limiting factors!!! My splits were 6:53, 6:52, and 7:12. I struggled a bit in my last one and Laura totally out-kicked me at the end, but I know this is just the beginning and I will be able to see progress from here.


Wednesday: Easy Run – 3 miles / 28:50. Pre-Thanksgiving easy miles with my little sister while I was home in Pennsylvania for the holiday. Of course we had to take a Brooks Adrenaline shoefie and a matching watchfie (???) LOL! I love being home and getting to run with her!


Thursday: (Unplanned) Rest Day. I had every intention of getting my tempo run done this morning, but going out on Thanksgiving Eve the night before got the best of me. Too. Much. Wine. So instead I spend the day with family and friends and enjoyed the holiday!


Friday: Tempo Run – 1 easy, 3 @ tempo pace, 1 easy [5 miles total / 41:17]. I felt much better on Friday, even after our Thanksgiving feast, so when the whole family went out to burn off some energy I decided to get my tempo run done at the same time. My dad told me about a wooden playground that was next to a .65 mile path so we went to check it out. On my plan was 1 mile easy, 3 @ tempo pace, 1 easy. It was TOUGH and I had to fight for this one. By the time we got out there it was noon, super warm (almost 70°!), and I had only eaten a small breakfast so I felt under-fueled. Oh, and the path was full of rolling hills! My overall average for the middle 3 miles was 7:41– I didn’t quite hit my goal pace (7:30)  and my 3rd tempo mile was a lot slower, but I’m still proud of my effort. I’ll get it next time!


Saturday: Long Run – 10 miles / 1:29:18. Awesome 10 mile run around my hometown. I was a little nervous about how it would feel since I did my tempo run the day before, and I really don’t like doing two harder efforts back-to-back. It was one of those runs where I didn’t really pre-plan my route or look at my watch, I just went where I felt like and let my mind wander. I even went to my old high school and ran a few loops around the track. It was nice to get lost in the memories for a while, and it made me smile to think about how I used to fake being sick or “forget” my gym clothes so I could avoid running in PE class. Oh how things have changed!


Sunday: P90X Ab Ripper X. My sad attempt at doing something besides running this week. This core workout is less than 15 minutes but OMG, it is hard and my abs are sore as I sit here typing this.

Week 1 Totals:

  • Run: 24 miles
  • Strength Training/Cross Training: 1 core workout
Motivational thought of the week

Motivational thought of the week

I am very proud of myself for managing to fit all my key workouts into a busy holiday week away from home. I feel like I set a good baseline and I’m excited for the weeks to come! One thing that is really making me feel motivated and inspired is my new Believe Training Journal. I am very much a paper/pencil planner and journaler, so I am totally in love with this. It is a workout log, workbook and resource guide all in one. I’m excited to have this tool to help me document my journey toward my big goals in 2016. Week 1 is complete and logged! Now it’s on to week 2, where my goal will be to fit more strength training/core work in. Here we go!


Click here to see my full training plan!

Myrtle Beach Marathon Training Plan


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My poor little blog! I know I’ve been neglecting it for a while and that makes me sad. Between my family, work, the holidays, and launching my new running coaching business (more about that later!), I’ve been super busy and something had to give. However, now that we’re getting into December work should be slowing down a bit, and that’s good because I have a whole lot to say on here!

I want to start with my training plan for the Myrtle Beach Marathon. I actually started training this past Monday, but I’ve been tweaking my plan all week. I’m hesitant to share the plan in it’s entirety because I’m sure it will end up changing somehow – which I’m totally fine with. I always like to plan out the whole 16ish weeks (this time it’s 15 since I needed a week of recovery after the Richmond half) to make sure my long runs, tempo runs, and speedwork progress appropriately – BUT after 9 marathons and 1 DNF I know better than most people that plans can change and that is okay. I have learned that checking in with yourself, adjusting, and tweaking is an important part of the running and training process.

For example, when I originally thought about racing in the year following Kyler’s birth, I wanted my first races back to be for fun and didn’t plan on doing much speedwork or anything like that to prepare. I just didn’t want to put a lot of pressure on myself while newly post-partum. I did this for my first two races back (the Heritage 5 Miler and Hartwood 10 Miler), but that started to change when I realized how good I felt and how well my body was responding to running after birth this time. I was still cautious and careful, introducing one new stress at a time (building my mileage and long run back up, adding in speedwork, adding in a tempo run, adding in strength training). What happened as a result was pretty awesome. I started running faster than I had in years (maybe even ever) and I got a HUGE new PR at the Richmond Half Marathon. This race gave me the confidence to try for a better goal in Myrtle Beach than just to finish.


My half marathon time of 1:44:33 suggests that I can run a 3:40:02 marathon, according to the McMillan Running Calculator. While that time scares me a bit, I’m starting to believe that I can do it, so I will be using the training paces that Mr. McMillan recommends to achieve that goal.

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While I would LOVE to qualify for Boston (run under 3:35:00), I don’t think that will happen for me this spring. I’m hoping to BQ in the fall of 2016 instead. However, my running buddy seems to think I can do it this spring and she will be training with that goal in mind. My plan is to run another half marathon (The Charleston Half) in January when I’m about halfway through my training. I think that will give me a really good understanding of where I am currently and what kind of result I can expect in the full, if conditions are right. After that I may adjust my goal, or I may not. We’ll see!

With all that being said, here is how I structured my training plan for the Myrtle Beach Marathon.


  • 1 speedwork run (either 1600m or 800m repeats)
  • 1 tempo run (some with easy miles at beginning and end, some steady-state)
  • 1 long run (with a fast-finish every few weeks). It’s also important to me to do one 22 miler this time around. I need this more mentally than physically, since I know I struggle around mile 21. I want to practice feeling that struggle and pushing past it. I went back and forth about how many 20-22 milers to put in, but I decided on only two since I’ll be racing the Charleston Half Marathon which will be a hard effort for me.
  • 3 days of strength training/cross training and/or an easy running. These may also turn into additional rest days as training gets more intense.
  • 1 full rest day
  • Cutback weeks every 3rd week (or so). During these weeks the long run is shortened, and instead of formal speedwork and tempo runs I’ll do a less structured fartlek run and easy progression run. I’m thinking of each segment between cutback weeks as it’s own mini-cycle, which I love!
  • Other important training factors: foam rolling, stretching, lots of water, visits to the chiropractor to stay in alignment. I am not overly concerned with doing any specific hill training because Myrtle Beach is flat. I’m a firm believer in training for the race you’re running.

Here is the plan in it’s entirety [click images to enlarge].

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I want to do a weekly recap post like I have done in the past to hold myself accountable and as a way to log my progress through my training. The first one should be up tomorrow or Monday since I’m just about finished with week 1!

So here I am. 6 months post-partum and starting marathon training again, hoping for a big PR. Am I crazy? Only time will tell! I have my training plan. I have my supportive husband. I have my running buddy who lives close by and has very similar goals. I have a ton of motivation and determination. Let’s do this!

Richmond Half Marathon

A year ago, I was 14 weeks pregnant and in Richmond to support many of my friends who were running the full marathon, half marathon and 8K. I wasn’t officially running a race, but I was there to support my friends and run with Amanda for the last 8 miles of her marathon. While I was there I fell in love with the Richmond Marathon races, and I started dreaming about running the half the next year. I knew I would only be about 6 months postpartum, so I figured I’d run it for fun as a way to get back into longer distance racing. That changed a bit once I started realizing how well my training was going. I was hitting awesome new paces in speedwork and even on long runs. I felt strong and ready to test myself. I decided it was time to get rid of my half marathon PR that was set way back in 2011 – 1:48:55. I started training for not only a PR, but I was hopeful for a finish around 1:45:00. I had no idea if I was dreaming too big, but I figured it was worth a shot.

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Kevin and I took a half day at work and headed down to Richmond around 1:00. We were hoping to miss Friday traffic and thankfully we did. We arrived by 2:30 and went straight to our hotel to check-in. We couldn’t get a hotel downtown because they all booked up really fast, so we stayed about 8 miles away near the airport. It ended up working out great though, because it was cheaper, we had a suite style room, and we were right next to our friends Stephen and Laura who also have two kids. Score!


After unpacking and feeding Kyler, we headed out to the expo. I picked up bibs for myself and Laura, and we spent some time wandering around. I love checking out the expo before a race – it makes me really excited and gets me even more pumped up to run.


One of my favorite parts of the expo was a huge wall that had all of the runners names on it. Can you find mine? :)


After the expo we went straight to dinner to meet our friends. Many people recommended a place called Joe’s Inn, so our whole crew (6 adults and 5 kids) arrived right around 4:45 and we were ordering by 5:00. We have all learned from experience that eating early the night before race is very necessary! Plus it’s just better with all of our kids schedules and bedtimes. We had a delicious meal and some good beer, and left feeling fueled and relaxed!


Once we were back in our hotel and starting to wind down for the night, Laura and I set out all our race stuff to make sure we didn’t forget anything and to take a photo of our ‘flat’ selves. We went back and forth on what to wear, since the forecast said it would be in the 30s-40s and a little windy. We decided on shorts with compression sleeves and long sleeve shirts. We also had old shirts that we were planning to wear and then throw away once the race started to keep warm.


Once everything was ready to go and the kids were asleep, I went to bed shortly after. I think I was in bed by 9:45ish, but I woke up quite a bit throughout the night. Kyler woke up to eat around 2 a.m. and I was restless until my alarm went off at 5. I got out of bed feeling really nervous. I hadn’t run a race where I was putting a significant amount of pressure on myself in a LONG time- it had been over a year due to pregnancy and the initial postpartum period. I almost forgot what it felt like! I got myself all ready and tried to eat my usual pre-long run/race breakfast [peanut butter and honey toast] as best I could, but it was hard to get down thanks to my nervous tummy. I also drank some coffee, which is always part of my pre-race routine!


The kids both woke up shortly after, so we all hung out for a while before Laura and I needed to leave. I nursed Kyler at 6:00 and then we headed out around 6:20. My hubby volunteered to stay behind with all four kids (two 3 year olds, a 10 month old and an almost 6 month old… brave guy!), while Laura’s husband dropped us off near the start. Thankfully, it was a quick ride into the city, and we were able to hop out of the car and into the lobby of the Marriott by the starting line. We waited in the warmth for a bathroom, then went to meet some ladies in our local Moms Run This Town group before we had to get in our corral. It was great to see familiar faces and helped ease some of the nerves!


By this point it was around 7:15 and Laura, Cynthia, Erin and myself needed to get into our corral with wave B, which was scheduled to start at 7:32. We gave each other quick pep talks and then Laura and I moved up to be near the 1:45 pace group. We both hoped to finish around 1:45, but were not planning to run together since we really wanted to run our own races and had slightly different strategies. My plan was to run around 8:00/mile. I needed an 8:18 pace or less to PR (my PR from 2011 was 1:48:55). I knew an 8:00 pace would feel comfortable for a while but I was concerned about maintaining that. My goal was to keep around that pace for as long as I could to push myself and see what I could do. Since I didn’t eat my whole breakfast, I decided to eat a half pack of Honey Stingers to make sure I started the race fueled. I also threw off my extra shirt, and got myself mentally ready to run.


The race began right at 7:32 and we were off. For the first mile or so I stuck close to the 1:45 group, but I quickly became annoyed by how many people were clustered around the pacer and felt the need to get away. Once I did I was able to settle into my own rhythm at a comfortable pace. I tried to hold myself back and stay around an 8:00 pace but it was hard. I felt great and I wanted to go with it. I wasn’t sure if I would regret it later but I really wanted to finish this race knowing I gave it my all, so I decided not to be a slave to that pace and instead go with what felt good.

  • Mile 1 – 7:55
  • Mile 2 – 7:44
  • Mile 3 – 7:52

I kept Laura in my sights for a while and then around mile 3 we ran side by side for a little bit. We didn’t want to talk very much because we were really focused on not wasting energy. She started picking up the pace and I backed off a little. I knew she was going to finish ahead of me and I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up.  I wanted to make sure that I ran my own race. I ate another half pack of Honey Stinger chews around the 30 minute mark and decided to continue with that, eating again at 1 hour and again and 1 hour 30 minutes.

  • Mile 4 – 7:49
  • Mile 5 – 7:56
  • Mile 6 – 7:54

I don’t have any pictures from the race itself because I didn’t want to expend any extra energy trying to mess with my phone, but shortly before the 6 mile mark we entered a park and it was gorgeous! I passed 10K in 48:50 (7:52 pace), which is actually faster than my current 10K PR from a few years ago. However, the park ended up taking a LOT out of me. Richmond is advertised as being a flat, fast race, and my experience running the last 8 miles of the marathon with Amanda last year verified that for me. What I didn’t get to experience last year was this park. It was hilly and the ground was made up of broken and cracked asphalt. I wasn’t expecting all the hills and they really broke my momentum in my stride and my breathing. My pace creeped up into the 8:00s during these miles, and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to recover well from that extra effort I expended during that part. I lost sight of Laura ahead of me, and the uneven terrain was bothering me. I felt like I had to focus really hard on how I was landing which was distracting. I couldn’t wait to exit the park and get back on the regular city/neighborhood roads.

  • Mile 7 – 7:56
  • Mile 8 – 8:13

After we exited the park a little before mile 8, I spent the next couple of miles focused on getting back into my rhythm. It was hard. I did get my pace back down a little but it stayed above 8:00. I also ate some more Stingers which helped boost my energy some. Even though my pace started creeping up, it was still easy to judge if I was staying under my goal of 8:00 average pace since it was an even number. For example, I knew I needed to be at or under 1:12:00 at mile 9 to still come in around 1:45, and then 1:20:00 at mile 10.  I continued to meet these goals (beating my current 15K and 10 mile PRs in the process!), but the nice cushion I had built up was closing. I started to wonder if I’d be able to keep it up. I was feeling it and ready to be done.

  • Mile 9 – 8:05
  • Mile 10 – 8:09

As I worked on mile 11, I kept having flashbacks to running this part of the course with Amanda last year as she finished her marathon. It made me smile and took my mind off everything. My feet were hurting a bit in the shoes I had gotten on Tuesday – Brooks Adrenalines I have worn for years but just didn’t give them enough time before racing in them – and I could feel myself getting a nice blister. Around this time the 1:45 pace group passed me, and I immediately felt myself getting my second wind. I was NOT letting them get too far ahead of me. I also passed the Penn State cheering tent (my alma mater!) and that boosted my adrenaline as well when I yelled “We are!” to them and they said “PENN STATE!” back to me.

  • Mile 11 – 8:19
  • Mile 12 – 8:07

I knew I was going to come in very close to 1:45 based on my watch and the math I was doing, so I tried my best to keep the pacers in sight. I saw a sign that said “only 3 turns left to the finish” I knew I was going to get it if I could just maintain my pace. I finally made the final turn onto 5th street and I saw the most incredible view of the best downhill finish, and I literally lost my breath for a minute. It felt amazing to run down that hill, like I was actually flying. I heard Kevin’s voice off to the side but couldn’t look over because I was all teary eyed and trying not to fall.

  • Mile 13 – 7:43
  • Last .10 – 6:42



I crossed the finish line in 1:44:33, which is an average pace of 7:58/mile. I burst into tears as soon as I stopped. I was so happy and couldn’t believe I had just ran 13.1 miles at a sub-8:00 pace. I walked through the finish chute and collected my awesome swag (medal, hat, blanket), and tried to find Laura. We finally connected on the bridge and excitedly told each other about both of our huge PRs. She had finished in 1:42:33, which is a 14 minute PR for her (!!!). We were so happy to see all of our hard work and training together pay off.


Our families came across the bridge and found us in the post-race area, and shortly after that we found Cynthia. She also had a HUGE PR of 6 minutes, finishing in 1:51! It was such an awesome racing day for all of us – and extra special for us too because we all had babies in 2015. Training alone is hard enough, let alone with an infant AND while breastfeeding, but we all did it. I’m so proud of us!


This is the first race in a LONG time (years!!) where I truly have no regrets. I’m confident that I gave it all that I had and I’m so happy!


After showers and some food, we all headed out to a local brewpub to celebrate before heading back home. Beer and fries never tasted so delicious!


When I first started running I never would have dreamed that I could run 13.1 miles at a 7:58 pace. My last half marathon PR was set back in 2011, before any babies, and was 4 1/2 minutes slower. It feels so good to be getting stronger and it blows my mind what can be accomplished with a lot of hard work both physically and mentally.


Also, aside from an awesome race experience, I love the Richmond Marathon for all the swag you get! A nice fleece blanket, hat, medal and I love, love, love the shirt!


I plan to take this week nice and easy, and then MARATHON TRAINING begins!! BRING IT ON!

Mom & Baby: 5 Months

Another whirlwind month! I can’t believe it’s already over and my baby boy is now 5 months old, as of October 22nd. Here are all the details about what happened during this past month for mom & baby!



My little baby boy is continuing to become not so little anymore! I don’t know what he weighs but he looks and feels bigger, and he’s wearing 6-9 month clothes already. He is a lot bigger than his brother was at this age, by a few pounds and inches! Because of this, I actually had to buy him some new clothes since Kevin was wearing those sizes during the summer, not the colder months. Despite the size difference, I do think they are starting to look more alike. Check out the comparison below of both Kevin and Kyler at 5 months. Similar yet different!


During this past month we finally moved past the Wonder Week that felt never ending. We also finally got over a cold that seemed like it just kept going and going. Now that we’re on the other side, Kyler is back to his happy all the time, smiling self! This also means he’s sleeping better! Yay! He’s back to his long 7-9 hour stretches, eats around 3-4:30, and then he goes back down for a few more hours. He also naps twice a day. I am loving his sleep schedule!


We’re still following the same feeding routine that I talked about last month. He eats 7 times a day: his first morning feeding is usually between 3 and 4:30 AM, and then I feed him again before he goes to daycare, around 6:30 AM. At daycare he gets three bottles (4 oz. each), at around 9:30, 12:30, and 3:30. Once we are home I feed him around 6:00 and 8:00 before he goes to bed. I am also still pumping before I go to bed, around 9:45-10:00. I know I could probably drop this, but it helps me wake up less full and adds to my freezer stash. At this point I have over 600 ounces frozen, which is insane to me. I’m afraid my supply will drop off completely like it did before when my period came back every month, so I’m happy to have a lot frozen. However, if everything ends up being fine with my supply I hope to be able to donate the milk somewhere.

Look how big both of my boys grew in the last 5 months!

Look how big both of my boys grew in the last 5 months!

We haven’t done any solids yet and he doesn’t really seem interested at this point. We started with Kevin at 5 1/2 months because he was grabbing at our food, making chewing motions when we ate, etc. but Kyler hasn’t done of those things. I am not worried about it because I’m not in a rush to introduce solids. It’s just so interesting how different two kids can be!


He is discovering new things everyday lately too. First he discovered his hands, and he loved to hold them up in front of his face and look at them. Since then he’s gotten really good at picking things up, playing with toys, and putting them in his mouth constantly (and in my mouth too!). After that, he discovered his feet. He is totally infatuated with them. He usually studies them for a while, then slowly grabs one foot and brings it to his mouth. LOL! It’s so fun to watch him explore.


I am starting to get glimpses of what it’s really going to be like to have two little boys. It’s crazy and so much fun, and Kyler isn’t even mobile yet! Eek! I need to watch out!


Sitting on me while trying to stretch after a long run

Sitting on me while trying to stretch after a long run

All 3 of my boys

All 3 of my boys

Kyler adores his big brother so much. He’s always studying him and watching his every move. Kevin can make Kyler laugh like nobody else can. They definitely have a brotherly bond.

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Right when he turned 5 months, we started letting Kyler sit in his little seat for short periods of time during the day. At his 4 month well check, my pediatrician said to be cautious about using the seat until he’s stronger up top and not slouching. I noticed he was, so we tried the seat and he absolutely loved it. I like to put the tray on and give him some toys to play with. It’s like he is discovering a whole new world.


Our daycare provider took some fall photos of the kids and then gave them us. I almost passed out at the cuteness! I didn’t even know they were doing them but I even dressed the boys alike, so it really worked out!



Lastly, Kyler is SUCH a mama’s boy. He has been super attached and snuggly ever since he was born, but more now for some reason. It is really hard to get up and go to work when you have this face looking back at you!



I’m currently sitting at 132-133 pounds, so I am a few months away from my pre-pregnancy weight of 130. I don’t really care about my weight though, because I’m having so many other physical victories lately like fitting into my favorite pre-pregnancy jeans, and my running is going AMAZING! I’m feeling more and more like myself each day and it’s actually making me reevaluate my goals a little bit. More on that to come in another post!

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I forgot to take pictures last month, so my last ones were from about 3 months postpartum. I didn’t realize how much my body has changed until I compared my 1 month, 3 month & 5 month photos. Everything is thinning out, including my face, waist and hips.

PicMonkey Collage

PicMonkey Collage2

I blogged about the Wilson Bridge Half being cancelled and how my Moms Run This Town Running Group made our own race, which ended up being a ton of fun. I still feel cheated from that whole experience though, so I am MORE than ready to test my training at the Richmond Half Marathon in two weeks. This past month I worked hard on my speed, adding in a tempo run to my weekly routine and also adding strength training back in. I’m feeling good and getting stronger. It’s so exciting!


My skin continues to be good and not-so-good, most likely fluctuating with my hormones. My period still has not returned, which is nice because it was back by now with Kevin. I’m still losing lots of hair. I can’t wait until the initial post-partum period ends. I think it was around 8 or 9 months last time.


This was another tough month for me mentally and emotionally. It actually had nothing to do with post-partum and having two kids, but more to do with work. The first couple months of school have been insanely stressful as I try to adjust to new responsibilities. Thankfully, I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It should start to get better soon! I don’t know what I would do without my husband. He’s been so amazingly supportive, and takes care of basically everything at home including cooking, cleaning, and more. He packs my lunch for me everyday, and lately he’s been writing me special and inspirational messages on my hard boiled eggs. He’s the sweetest!

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One good part of this month that was super refreshing and nice was getting to go to French Creek for a long weekend with my family and friends. I didn’t know how badly I needed that until we went! It was so nice to be with the people I love and disconnect from everything else for a few days.


Another good part was that I celebrated my 29th birthday! I bought myself a great gift- signing up for the Myrtle Beach Marathon! Kevin spoiled me too, by getting me my favorite pumpkin beer, making a homemade cookie cake from scratch, and making tortilla soup for dinner. He’s the best!


We have another exciting month coming up. We’re about to celebrate Halloween, and there are some fun events on the weekends including the Richmond Half Marathon on November 14th. It’s starting to cool down and we’re getting close to the holidays that I love: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, plus our anniversary in November. I love this time of year!


It is hard to believe that the next update will be when Kyler is 6 months old! Ahhh! Don’t blink :(

Previous Mom & Baby posts:

French Creekend [2015]

On Columbus Day weekend my family and friends participated in what is probably my favorite tradition of all time: French Creekend! For 17 years, we have all rented out the cabins at French Creek State Park in Pennsylvania and spent the weekend together. It’s a time to relax, eat, drink, and be merry, and I absolutely LOVE it.


Over the years we’ve added more people to our tradition. Now that I have my own family, we have started to get our own cabin for us and our friends. This is something I look forward to every year but this year I was extra excited. I knew it would be fun and interesting as our first year as a family of 4, and after a stressful start to the school year I was more than ready for a relaxing weekend away in the woods, unplugged from technology!

Making the 3+ hour drive up to PA with my travel buddies!

Making the 3+ hour drive up to PA with my travel buddies!

We arrived on Thursday evening after work. My dad, sister, and friend Christy also came that day. The kids were so excited to see them and surprisingly, little Kevin remembered a lot about our trip there last year (he has an amazing memory!). Since we were tired, my cabin went to bed early to rest up for the weekend ahead when more people would be arriving.


On Friday morning we took our time getting up and moving. We drank coffee, read some books, played with the kids, and just hung out.



One of the things I really wanted to do while we were there was go for a run with my hubby. We never get to do that anymore since we have two kids and nobody close by who can really watch them. With lots of willing friends and family around at French Creek we decided to take advantage and headed out.


I love running in the park during the fall because it’s absolutely beautiful, but MAN. It is hilly! I did 4 miles with Kevin and then he headed back to be with the kids. I continued on for 4 more miles and was super proud when I was done. It felt like an accomplishment!


After showers and more relaxation, we decided to take some family pictures.



The rest of the day was spent walking around the park, eating delicious food, and waiting for the next set of friends to arrive that evening- DJ and Laura.



The next morning we were up and moving pretty early thanks to little ones who don’t sleep in! Thankfully we brought all of our friends earplugs :) Our friends Sandy and Brian came for the day and after hanging out with them for a little while we all headed out for a hike.


We wanted to hike to the fire tower, but we got a little (or a lot) lost along the way. Oops! Oh well. We still had fun, and little Kev made it pretty much the entire way walking by himself! I was so impressed.




Aaaand we're lost.

Aaaand we’re lost.

After our hike (almost 3 miles up and then downhill!) we needed a little lunch break and the kids (and big kids) needed naps :) Afterwards we went outside again. The weather was just too nice to not spend the day outdoors. We went for another walk – this time to two more sentimental places.


The first place was to our special trees that we have been carving in for a long time now. Christy and I started carving in our tree back in 2002!



Kevin and his guys started carving in their tree a few years ago, and we also started one for little Kevin when he was born. We had to make sure to update all of them for 2015.



After that was done we met up with my dad and his whole group to walk to the lake.




There is a special rock that we always go to visit right by the water, and a few years ago we started taking photos there. It started with just Christy and myself, and it’s fun to see how our group grows each year.


Since my dad was there with his really nice camera, we also made sure to get some other group shots.




The original French Creek duo

The original French Creek duo

We hung out for a few more minutes in the beautiful autumn weather and then headed back home to start the fire and make dinner.




After cooking our dinner on the fire (which was actually successful for the first year, yay!) and having s’mores, we all toasted to our last night at French Creek together and had a good old fashioned fun night once the kids went to bed… :)


It was such a great weekend and I’m already looking forward to next time. I feel lucky to have family and friends who love to keep up with traditions. I hope we are still coming here when we’re in our 50s like my dad and his friends! Until next time, French Creek… I will miss you!

Past posts about French Creek

30 Before 30

On October 1st I turned 29 years old. Many people have asked me lately how I feel about getting close to being 30 and assume I’m dreading it. I’m actually not. I’ve really proud and happy about everything I’ve accomplished in my 20s. During this last decade I studied abroad in Australia, graduated college, moved all by myself to Virginia to begin my teaching career, met some amazing people including my husband, got my masters degree, got married, bought a house, had two babies, become a running coach, ran over 70 races, including 9 marathons… Whew! That is a lot!

Kicked off my 20s by skydiving in Australia... setting the bar high for the rest of the decade!

Kicked off my 20s by skydiving in Australia… setting the bar high for the rest of the decade!

I really want to spend the last year of my 20s celebrating the end of this chapter and the beginning of a new one. That’s why I made this list of 30 things I hope to accomplish by the time I turn 30 next year. Some of them are silly, some of them are fun, some of them are bigger goals, but all of them are important to me in some way. Here we go!

30 Before 30

  1. Place in my age group [25-29] in a race before I enter a new one
  2. Do an obstacle race
  3. Add a stamp to my passport [we’re hoping to visit friends in Germany next summer!]
  4. Take a trip with just my hubby
  5. Volunteer at a race
  6. Declutter house
  7. Pay it forward at least 5 times with random acts of kindness
  8. Read 10 books
  9. Get a tattoo for my boys
  10. Brew my own beer
  11. Go wine tasting
  12. Get 3 new PRs
  13. Visit my alma mater, Penn State, for the first time in years
  14. Work on making my loft a special place of my own
  15. Take a girl’s trip
  16. Go geocaching with my family
  17. Explore a new town
  18. Do a long run in DC
  19. Try 2 new recipes each month
  20. Practice turning off technology more
  21. Put more money away into savings
  22. Get a massage
  23. Go on dates with my hubby
  24. Start planning our move away from this area
  25. Blog once a week
  26. Pace someone to a new PR
  27. Stress less, smile more
  28. Send 1 card/letter in the mail each month
  29. Use my real camera and video camera more
  30. Spend more time with family and friends

I have no idea if I will realistically be able to do everything on this list, but if nothing else it’s a fun challenge. Here’s to the last year of the best decade of my life (so far)!

29 looks pretty good to me! Can't wait to see what this year brings :)

29 looks pretty good to me! Can’t wait to see what this year brings :)

Our Own Half Marathon

Last year I ran the Wilson Bridge Half Marathon and in my recap I said it was probably my favorite half marathon to date. I was so excited to run it again this year along with many of my friends and running buddies. It was going to be my “comeback” half marathon 4 1/2 months after baby #2 and I couldn’t wait to see what I could do. My goal was to run it faster than I did last year at 8 weeks pregnant (1:56:20). I was motivated and ready!

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And then rumors of another government shutdown started happening, and I got nervous. When the government shutdown in 2013 due to budget issues at the end of the fiscal year (September 30th), the Wilson Bridge Half couldn’t happen because most of the course went through a national park. It was postponed to early November, and I had to defer to the following year since the make-up date conflicted with the OBX Marathon. It was disappointing, but I was thankful that I was able to defer my registration and run it in 2014.

This year the government didn’t end up shutting down since they were able to reach an agreement in time, but I couldn’t really breathe a sigh of relief yet because a bigger problem was heading our way: Hurricane Joaquin. The storm turned into a category 4 hurricane and apparently the WWBH had to make a decision whether to hold their race or not, since the expo was coming up soon. They decided to cancel on Friday due to the forecast of heavy rain and high winds on a course that’s prone to flooding. I understood their decision – even as the forecast started looking better as the hurricane went to sea. I even understood their no refund policy, since most of the funds had already been spent on the race. What upset me the most, however, was that they were not rescheduling to a new date or offering any kind of deferral. They only offered 25% off next year’s registration to people who were supposed to run this year.

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My friends and I were more than a little upset and angry by this. It honestly felt like a slap in the face, especially since I loved this race so much last year. Hey – come register for this $100 race and when it’s cancelled, spend an additional $75 to run it the following year! $175 for a half marathon – no thank you. Oh, and you have to come to us (an hour away) to get your medal, bib and t-shirt. Really?! In order to channel our disappointment we decided to take action and run anyway. My local Moms Run This Town group set up our very own half marathon “race” for all of us that were supposed to run, and some others who wanted to be a part of it. It started as one person’s idea to run a shadow race on Sunday morning, and it took off in a big way! Once we starting talking and planning I got super excited. I was thankful that it gave me something to look forward to after all! On Saturday night I went to my friend Laura’s house and we made our own homemade bibs with construction paper, Sharpies and tape. We were very proud of our work :)



I got my racing gear all ready and laid it out. I felt like I was actually running a real race, and I loved it! I decided I was still going to go for my goal of running faster than I did at last year’s WWBH while 8 weeks pregnant – which was 1:56:20. I didn’t know if it was realistic at 4 1/2 months post-partum, but my running has been going really well so I wanted to try.


Some other people and running groups from this area also did their own replacement race, but they ran the actual course from Mount Vernon to National Harbor. My group decided to do our race on an out-and-back running path that we were familiar with so that our ladies could easily come out to participate or to support us. We had a big group- some that were running 13.1, some that were running more or less, some that just came out to cheer… it was awesome! Almost everyone also contributed a treat or a drink for our own “finish line” celebration. So exciting!


Some of our big group… not everyone made it in time for the photo!

Some of the registered WWBH runners

Some of the registered WWBH runners

The weather was chilly and it was raining lightly with a little wind, but it was definitely not the hurricane that was originally predicted.  We all started the run together a little after 7 AM, and quickly settled into our own paces and little groups. I ran with my friend Cynthia who was interested in running a similar pace. Laura went ahead to try to get herself the PR she wanted at the WWBH, and everyone else spread out. It was comforting to know we were all out on the same path running together at the same time, even if we weren’t all physically together.

The first few miles flew by as Cynthia and I chatted. She was not originally going to run the WWBH and was only scheduled to run 12 miles, but decided to run all 13.1 instead. I was very thankful for her company, especially when the rain and wind picked up a bit. We knew there would be some of our ladies around mile 5 who had set up their own water and cheering station for us. It was so nice seeing them and knowing they came out for us on this rainy day! We also started seeing some of the faster runners turning around to head back, including Laura who was killing it! I was so excited for her and ready to turn around myself.

Once we turned around at mile 6.55 I felt a lot better. The rain was no longer falling right into my eyes, the wind was at my back, and the rolling hills were more downhill than uphill. Plus, we got to see our friends again as we passed by the table on our way back!



My stomach started hurting a little bit between mile 9 and 10. I told Cynthia I may have to slow my pace a little and she didn’t mind. We started running around a 9:08 pace until about mile 12. I saw that we had about 10 minutes left to get in around 1:56, which was my goal and would also be a half marathon PR for Cynthia! I told my stomach to quiet down and we finished strong. I almost fell over when I saw that the ladies in my group had made their own finish line for us to run through. Sweetest thing ever!


After we crossed we checked in with the other runners who had finished, including Laura who had a HUGE 10 minute PR, running a 1:47! We also watched more runners come through and cheered them on. There was a whole spread set up for us that included coffee, water, bananas, pumpkin muffins (made by me!), cookies, trail mix, mimosas (!!) and more. It was so unbelievably nice!


Mini mimosas!

Mini mimosas!

Here are our splits:

  • Mile 1 – 9:05
  • Mile 2 – 8:41
  • Mile 3 – 8:41
  • Mile 4 – 8:37
  • Mile 5 – 8:47
  • Mile 6 – 8:52
  • Mile 7 – 8:57
  • Mile 8 -8:49
  • Mile 9 – 8:55
  • Mile 10 – 9:09
  • Mile 11 – 9:08
  • Mile 12 – 9:08
  • Mile 13 – 8:40
  • Last .10 – 7:45 pace


Finish Time – 1:56:13, 8:52 average pace

I feel so lucky to know and be a part of this amazing and supportive group of women. Many of us met our goals and we really made the best out of the situation. Two of my friends got new PRs, some were running 13.1 for the first time, and I met my goal of running faster than I did last year at 8 weeks pregnant (by 7 seconds, whew!). I’m so proud of all of us! Who needs the Wilson Bridge Half Marathon? Not us :)

BAMRs = Bad-Ass Mother Runners!

BAMRs = Bad-Ass Mother Runners!