Monthly Archives: February 2014

Mom & Baby: 17 Months

On February 12th our little boy turned 17 months old! I can hardly believe that I’ve been doing this mommy thing for almost a year and a half, and that my baby is now a full-blown toddler with his own preferences, dislikes, opinions and unique personality. He is SO much fun, soaking up everything like a sponge, and communicating with us more than ever. I want to freeze time because I love this age so much. Here are all the details with some pictures and videos to sum up month 17!

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Baby

Kevin is such a big boy! I don’t realize it until I see him around other kids his age or who are even older than him. He is in 18 month clothes and we have actually had to get a few 24 month things because he is so tall! At his last appointment he was in the 97th percentile, and I know he’s gotten taller since then because he can now reach the microwave to his kitchen. He couldn’t do that back at Christmastime! He weighs about 26-27 pounds, and that has stayed pretty steady for a couple months now. He’s eating a ton but he is so active now that I think he burns it all off.

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Here are the monthly comparison shots: 1 month to 17 months.

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We had a change with nursing this month – he dropped his morning feeding. He was resisting it so much so we just stopped. Very rarely he will wake up and sign for milk or pull at my shirt, but I just distract him with breakfast and he forgets about it. We’re still nursing at night and at this point he’s still very interested. It’s mainly for comfort and lasts about 20 minutes. There’s no way he is getting much at all but I still enjoy our special time together every night.

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He eats 3 big meals a day, 2 snacks, and has a total of about 2 cups of whole milk with meals. This kid became a human garbage disposal this month. He is eating more than ever! His favorite foods this month are oranges, cheese, pancakes, green smoothies, avocado, any type of bread and chickpeas. Probably the weirdest food he started liking this month was raw onion. He will literally take bites out of a whole one, like it’s an apple. Such a weird baby! This month we also gave him ice cream for the first time and he absolutely LOVED it. He licked the bowl clean!

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He learned some new words this month. He can now say puppy, done, uh oh, moo (when we ask him what a cow says) and mine. Everything is “mine” currently- we are working on that one 🙂 He LOVES dropping things and saying uh oh too, as you can see in the video below…

He can also say a few new names, including Poppy (his grandpa- my dad), Mamaw (his grandma- Kevin’s mom), Nanny (his babysitter), and Bobo (Coco- our neighbor and family friend). He still says mama/mommy, dada/daddy, papaw (his other grandpa), yum, tickle, bye bye, banana, night night, baby, ball, beep beep, pee pee, me, and hide. He continues to babble all day long in his ‘own’ language too. He loves talking to me in the car, and usually just repeats mommy, mommy, mommy, hi, hi, hi, hi, mommy, mommy, hi, etc. He also says hi to everyone we encounter, whether he knows them or not. In the video below I put him down for a nap and he kept saying , “Mommy, mommy, mommy, daddy, mommy mommy, daddy, mommy…” It went on for a long time until he fell asleep. This is pretty typical!

He is also communicating a lot non-verbally. He didn’t learn any new signs this month, but he knows and uses more, all done, milk, drink, please, eat, bath, cheese, yes, and no. We have been working on thank you but he still hasn’t gotten it. He loves to wave, blows kisses, tickle us and himself, give big hugs and open-mouthed kisses, high-fives and “pounds” it. He is still rear-facing in the car and one of his favorite things to do is wave to people in cars when we are at red lights. It’s hilarious to watch when they notice him waving and wave back.

Every morning he runs to the mirror, says hi to the baby and gives him a kiss :)

Every morning he runs to the mirror, says hi to the baby and gives him a kiss 🙂

He is definitely learning to follow directions better. He will clean up if we ask him to, go get his shoes, bring us his sippy cup, and things like that. He can also locate things that we ask him to. He can find the banana in his huge bin of fake food, and he can go find his ‘babies’ and his blankets. He knows where his head, nose, belly and belly button are. He loves to lift his shirt and show us his belly, and he loves finding our belly buttons too.

The face of a toddler who just let go of his balloon and watched it float away...

The face of a toddler who just let go of his balloon and watched it float away…

After a short phase of bad tantrums, hitting (us and himself) and trying to bite, he hasn’t really done any of that this month. I don’t think we have had to use the time out chair at all, and I think that is because he is learning more words and communicating better. We’ve also made sure to give him plenty of attention and keep him engaged, which has helped his behavior as well.

Building with daddy

Building with daddy

He is in LOVE with his babysitter, who he calls Nanny. He learned how to say her name so he now asks for her all the time when he’s not there. It makes me feel so good to know he loves her, and that she loves him too. She is amazing and plans themes for each week, incorporating different books, arts and crafts and sensory activities. Kevin has learned so much since starting to go with her, and he loves being with 4 other boys every day. It’s been really good for him socially and developmentally. It’s wonderful to have peace of mind when we go to work that he is well taken care of, engaged, and loved!

Stoplight sorting activity at daycare during "Things That Go" week!

Stoplight color sorting activity at daycare during “Things That Go” week!

He also is really attached to his daddy this month. He has wanted him to read books and cuddle before naps, and is constantly calling his name when he’s not around. I really like that he’s all about daddy now, because for so long he only wanted me 24/7. It’s so much fun to see them bonding with each other.

Wants to stretch just like daddy!

Wants to stretch just like daddy!

His favorite toys this month are his puzzles (which he has worked very hard at mastering as you can see in the video below!), cars (he loves saying “beep beep beep beep” when he plays with them), his popper, his kitchen and play food, any and all books, and his “babies” – 2 monkeys, 1 bear, and 1 caterpillar that he loves and insists on sleeping with and carrying around with him. He also loves any type of building or stacking activity.

He is very into music. He will bring us the remote and dance to tell us he wants us to put on the music channel. He dances at daycare every day and I think that’s a big reason why he is really into it now. He’s also starting to sing and hum songs, which is so, so cute. I have yet to catch it on camera but it’s usually the same couple of tunes. I’m not sure what song it is but it must be one he hears at daycare a lot! He has it memorized!

Silly boy hiding in his kitchen's oven!

Silly boy hiding in his kitchen’s oven!

Our nighttime routine is his favorite part of the day. He loves bath time with daddy, and he loves getting his lotion massage afterwards. This month he started to actually let us brush his teeth. He used to fight us horribly and scream the whole time, and all of a sudden he lets us do it for as long as we need to like it’s no big deal. This makes me very happy!

Reading books before bedtime

Spying on daddy and baby reading books before bedtime

Speaking of teeth, he still has a total of 12. He hasn’t gotten any more since all 4 molars came through in less than a month. I keep looking at his canines since I know those are next but there’s nothing there at all. I am thankful for the break in teething, that’s for sure! But I do love seeing that smile full of pearly whites!

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One downer this month was that Kevin experienced his worst sickness yet. I have never seen my baby so sick and miserable. It all started with a little cough that turned into a worse cough, high fever, congestion and difficulty sleeping. He would wake himself up by coughing and then got super upset and couldn’t fall back asleep again. He coughed so hard one night that he threw up in his bed. I felt so bad for him 😦 I took him to the doctor and he ended up having an ear infection and bronchiolitis. He had to take antibiotics for his ear but since the bronchiolitis was viral, we just had to let it run it’s course. It peaked after about 4 miserable days and finally started to improve after that. Luckily we had almost a whole week of snow days, so I was able to be home with him the entire time and not worry about taking off work. It was so hard to see him so sick. I hated it!

Look at that pathetic face :(

Look at that pathetic face 😦

He loves going outside and goes a little crazy if he can’t go out at least once a day. This was a challenge with freezing cold temperature and all of our snow days, combined with him being really sick. Now that it is warming up and he is healthy, we’ve been able to go out to the playground or walk with his wagon or the stroller. He loves the fresh air!

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While he was sick he would walk over to the door and look longingly at the snow. I felt so bad that I couldn’t take him out in it, so I brought the snow in to him! I let him play with it and he had so much fun. He liked transferring it into different containers and even tasted it too. I was happy I could do something that made him happy while he wasn’t feeling well.

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His sleep was good this month, except for when he was sick. He’s been pretty adaptable when it comes to napping and sleeping lately. He falls asleep within a few minutes and doesn’t really cry at all. When we are at my dad’s or somewhere else visiting it takes a little bit longer, but he is able to fall asleep eventually and stays asleep. We are so thankful that he’s a good sleeper!

Sleeping with one of his "babies"

Sleeping with one of his “babies”

Body

Physically my body felt GREAT during month 17. I was in the peak of training for the Myrtle Beach Marathon, running faster than ever, strength-training and doing yoga and feeling all around amazing. I gained a couple pounds but I do think it was the result of finally putting on some muscle mass after neglecting all strength-training for over a year. We headed to Myrtle Beach right on the 12th when we began month 18 and obviously since then my body’s been through some stress, but I’ll save all of that for next month’s update.

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The only negative this month was my skin. It is a mess. I’ve never had good skin, but it’s gotten worse since my cycle returned and is back on a normal schedule. I know it’s all hormonal and I can’t do much about it. It’s frustrating and annoying and painful! It worsens at various points in the month and then gets better… only to start all over again the next month. Ugh!

Mind

Month 17 was great for me emotionally. We have had so many snow days this school year and it has been so much fun getting to stay home with my boy. Work is going well and is much less stressful than last year. I really like the position I am in this year as a reading specialist for kindergarten and first grade. It is a world of difference compared to being a 5th grade classroom teacher last year. I feel like I am really making a difference and it is very rewarding. All of the snow days are a great bonus!

Kevin's first time in the snow!

Kevin’s first time in the snow!

Another highlight of this month was going home to Pennsylvania. We hadn’t been home since Thanksgiving, so I was really missing it. We just went home for a weekend but we squeezed a lot of family and friend time in, and got to see a ton of people. Kevin was still getting over his sickness a little bit so he wasn’t feeling 100%, but still soaked up all the love and attention he could get.

Snuggling at my dad's house

Snuggling at my dad’s house

I can’t believe that next month Kevin will be a year and a half old! Where is the time going? I am so in love with this sweet face!

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Previous Mom & Baby posts:

DNF: Trying to Find Answers

So. The week after the DNF. I spent some time trying to find answers to what happened during the race, so that I can hopefully prevent it from happening again. I am all about reflecting on and learning from experiences so I was eager to figure everything out. Plus I think it’s important to talk about the aftermath of the DNF as part of the whole experience. So here goes.

The days following the DNF were a little worrisome. I didn’t feel “right” for quite a few days following the race and was having some lingering issues that led me to go to my doctor on Tuesday once we were back in town. I don’t really want to go into too much detail but my female readers can probably figure it out. I also just felt a bit beat up, really weak and tired with no energy. I wanted to get everything checked out to see if there were any red flags that could have caused what happened to me during the race and if it was related to what was going on afterwards.

No running, lots of yoga, walking and stick rolling

No running, lots of yoga, walking and stick rolling

At my appointment my doctor said she wanted to do some blood work to check my iron levels, hormones, and thyroid. She also gave a pregnancy test. I really thought it could be related to my thyroid. I have had hypothyroidism since I was 16 and uncontrolled levels can cause a lot of symptoms like fatigue, weakness, inability to regulate body temperature, etc.- all things I was experiencing. An out-of-whack thyroid can definitely cause the body to shut down in a high-stress situation like a marathon.

On Friday I received the results of my blood work. Everything came back negative and/or in normal ranges. So long story short- I still don’t have answers.

It’s now been a week since the race and I’m finally back to feeling like my old self. The more I think about what happened the more I think my body was still holding on to a little bit of the sickness I had earlier in the week before the marathon. I think it weakened my body, causing me to be more susceptible to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance (despite me diligently followed my fuel and hydration plan). That combined with some of the race conditions- mainly crazy amounts of wind- drained my energy and eventually came to a head, and my body just shut down at mile 21. I am also assuming that all of that stress on my body caused my other issues that happened after the race was over.

In addition to trying to figure out what went wrong with my body I’ve done a lot of reading this week- looking for fellow bloggers’ DNF posts and people with similar experiences. It was extremely comforting to know that I am not alone in the DNF club, and many of the posts by my fellow runners were so similar to mine that I felt like I could have written it myself. I found this article about how to know when to quit a race and what can cause it. It’s basically a thread conversation between different runners. The original author agrees with what I said in my recap post, that there is a difference between pushing yourself and going too far. He says a few of the signs that your body is approaching the point of real bodily damage are nausea, vomiting and dry heaving, inability to take deep breaths, inability to maintain body temperature and uncontrollable shaking- in addition to others- but these are three of the symptoms I experienced. He is an ultra-runner, but what he says is applicable to other race distances as well. Reading this reassured me that I was smart to stop and I was thankful I was able to listen to these messages my body was sending me.

My happiest part of the race- running with Kevin at mile 13

My happiest part of the race- running with Kevin at mile 13

I liked what he said here: “The problem we face is this: We are too often controlled by our brain and not our body. We can trick our brains into believing almost anything, so if we use our brain as a measure of when to push or when to quit, we risk making the wrong decision. The body is smarter than our brains think it is.”

So it’s clear my body shut down. But why did it happen? As far as the reasons why most runners end of DNFing, one person shared the following.

  1. Going out too fast. [Nope- the pace I was running was exactly what I had practiced all throughout my training and felt comfortable]
  2. Lack of adequate training going into the race. [I had my strongest training cycle to date with no injuries at all, running faster paces than ever]
  3. Lingering injury or illness. [YES- I had a sore throat, cough, congestion and fatigue that started on Sunday the week before the race. I took medicine hydrated and slept a ton to fight if off and felt fine by Thursday]
  4. Traumatic injury during the event. (such as tripping and spraining an ankle) [None]
  5. Other reasons not listed.

In conclusion, my best guess is that all of this happened because of my sickness in the week leading up to the race, plus a few of the race conditions that were not ideal. Whatever the reason was, it just wasn’t my day in Myrtle Beach last weekend and that’s okay. Things happen for a reason. There was a reason why I didn’t finish the race, and I know there will be better things coming.

A sweet card and flowers from two amazing friends after the race

A sweet card and flowers from two amazing friends after the race

So here I sit a week later. I am not injured. I feel healthy again. I ran for the first time since the race this morning with my two Kevins. It was 60 degrees and absolutely beautiful outside. We ran an easy 3 miles and I loved every single second of it. I felt amazing.

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I am still trained to run a marathon. I feel like I have unfinished business to take care of. But I still don’t know where to go from here. I have a couple local options if I want to make another marathon attempt. There is one in two weeks in Maryland and one in three weeks in DC- both would be new states for me. But I am still not sure if I want to, if I should, if I have it in me physically and mentally to try again. I guess we will see…

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The Myrtle Beach Marathon: DNF

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Yesterday I experienced my first DNF (Did Not Finish) in what was supposed to be my 9th marathon. In all of the 53 races I have done, I have never not been able to complete one. I am still processing it all and spent most of yesterday upset, disappointed and confused. How did this happen, when I had my strongest training cycle ever? I should have been able to blow this race away according to all of my training runs. What happened to me at mile 21, when the race was going pretty much perfectly up until that point? These are questions I am still trying to answer.

I’ll start at the beginning…

Everything was normal leading up to the race. Like every other marathon I have done, I made sure to drink a lot of water & Nuun all week, got at least 7 hours of sleep every night, rested as much as possible and ate more carbs. I was sick at the beginning of the week with a sore throat, cough and congestion, but was feeling pretty much 100% better by Thursday. I’m not sure if this played into what happened or not, but I think it may have been a factor.

The day before the race went to the expo to pick up my race packet, then we went to dinner at Mellow Mushroom, where I ate pizza with vegan cheese since dairy before a race does not agree with me.

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We were finished eating by 5:45, and I went home, showered, wrote out my dedications and was in bed by 9:00.

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I slept well and woke up at 4:15 to start my pre-race routine. I had to get up so early because the race started at 6:30 AM! I drank my coffee, ate peanut butter and honey toast, took care of my “important business” (LOL- fellow runners get it), got everything together, and we were out the door by 5:30. It was a little hard to finish my breakfast but that’s normal the morning of a big race when I am nervous.

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It was raining when I got up and was still raining when Kevin and I arrived at the start. This wasn’t originally in the weather forecast, but I wasn’t too worried about it since it was supposed to stop by 7. Kevin dropped me off around 6:00, I kissed him goodbye then he went to find a place to park and nap for a bit. He wasn’t planning to meet me until mile 12 so he had some time to kill. His mom and the baby were at home and were coming up later to meet me at the finish. I used the porta-potty one more time then lined up in the 4:00 corral. It was cold and wet and I couldn’t wait to start running.

Miraculously, the rain stopped right at 6:30 when the gun went off and we started running. The first 5 miles were a little rough. The rain had left big puddles that I was trying to avoid, and we were running straight into a strong wind. We eventually turned right into a shopping area and the direction change took some of the wind away, but it never completely stopped. Looking back now I think fighting against the wind the entire time used a lot of extra energy. But I was able to cross the 10K mark in 52ish minutes, about an 8:30 pace. I had my splits automatically uploaded to Facebook, and we actually ran over the “10K” mat at 6.5 miles, so it was a little slower than it says here. The rest of the time though the mile markers aligned perfectly with my Garmin’s mile splits. Things were looking good!

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At around 8 miles we came out of the shopping area and turned completely around to run back the direction we came on the road that goes along the beach. Most of the time the wind was at our backs which felt awesome, and the sun was just beginning to rise behind the ocean. It was beautiful!

Kevin took this picture while he was waiting for me

Kevin took this picture while he was waiting for me

I knew I would be on this stretch of road for 9 miles (a LONG time), but luckily I was able to break it up a bit by thinking about how I would be seeing Kevin at mile 12. I continued following my nutrition plan, eating half a pack of Clif Shot Bloks every 25 minutes. They gave me a little boost every time and I was still feeling strong. Finally I heard Kevin’s voice and saw him on the side of the road. He took a quick picture then jumped in to run with me for about a mile.

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We talked about how it was going, he refilled my water and gave me an extra pack of Honey Stinger Chews for later. While I was with him we crossed the halfway point, which I ran in 1:51:43, an average pace of 8:31. What’s crazy is that last year I ran a 1:51:38 in the half marathon here. I probably would have gotten a big PR if I was only doing the half that day!

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I was sad when Kevin had to leave just after mile 13, but I knew I’d be seeing him again later. I counted down the miles until I was off of this long stretch of road by the beach, and we finally turned left at mile 17. By that point I was more than ready for a little change in scenery. I ran over my next timing mat at mile 18.3. At this point my average pace was 8:37. It was here that I started feeling a little weaker. I always do around mile 19-20 before getting my second wind to the finish line, and I attributed it happening a bit earlier than usual to me running faster than I have in past marathons. I started eating my chews every 20 minutes instead of every 25, and made sure to drink plenty of water and Powerade at aid stations. I kept my mind on the people I was dedicating my miles to, and thought about how I would be seeing Kevin at mile 24.

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Mile 19 and 20 came and went. I actually stopped to walk for about 30 seconds here because the ‘weak’ feeling wasn’t going away like usual, despite my fueling and hydrating. I wasn’t worried at this point because I passed the 20 mile mark around 2:53, about an 8:40 pace. I knew I had about 1 hour and 7 minutes to run the final 10K and still make my goal- plenty of time! I was actually on track to finish around 3:47 if I could keep my pace there.

Then, just as I passed mile 21 everything changed. All of a sudden the ‘weak’ feeling became overwhelming, I got lightheaded and my body became freezing cold. It was pretty windy but I had been comfortable the whole time in my tank top and shorts until then. I started not being able to run in a straight line and couldn’t take a full, deep breath. I got intensely nauseous and started vomiting up all the liquids I had consumed. I was so confused- what was happening? Why was my body shutting down? Mentally I was fine but physically something was wrong. I tried to run again and it wasn’t happening. I tried drinking more water but nothing would stay down. Eventually I was just dry-heaving and nothing was coming out, so I thought I must be dehydrated despite my best attempts to hydrate the whole time. I knew at this point that my race was over. I couldn’t continue in the state I was in and if I couldn’t keep any liquids down. I would never risk my health and safety to finish a race.

I walked until I saw a police officer at mile 21.5. I knew the next aid station wouldn’t be until mile 22 at least, so I asked him to call the medics for me. I was shaking uncontrollable from being so cold and all I could think about was lying down. The cop called on his radio for the EMTs and while we waited him and another police officer gave me their jackets and hats to help me get warm. I told them my husband was at mile 24.5 waiting for me and that I didn’t have a phone with me to contact him. They asked for his description and one went off to find him on his motorcycle.

The EMTs showed up in an ambulance and I felt like I was in the twilight zone. I couldn’t believe this was happening. They took me inside to help me get warm and gave me some oxygen, because I was still having trouble taking a deep breath. They took all my vital signs and told me my blood pressure and oxygen levels were low and my heart rate was high. They asked me my running history, if this had ever happened before, if this was my first marathon, etc. Every time I stood up I would feel lightheaded, nauseous and become freezing cold again, so I laid down to rest on the stretcher. Eventually I started feeling a little bit better, so when they asked if I wanted transportation to the hospital I declined. I was just anxious to see Kevin. The EMT talked to another police officer outside who told us that his colleague had found Kevin, and a van had picked him up to bring him to me. The van was coming to where we were and would take both of us to the triage area at the finish line.

I’m not sure how much time passed but eventually I was told that the van had arrived. I slowly got up and they helped me walk over to it. My muscles were super tight from stopping so abruptly and not stretching them out. As soon as I saw Kevin I burst into tears. I had been crying on and off the whole time, but seeing him made me let it all out. He gave me a huge hug and didn’t let me go until we got to the finish line. He told me I made the right choice, he was so glad I was okay and that’s all that mattered.

The van dropped us off by the finish and we got on a golf cart to ride to the triage area. We rode past everyone with their medals on, smiling and so proud of their accomplishments- as they rightfully should be. We rode right by the finish line too, which was extremely difficult for me to see. It was about 10:30 by this time, which is right around the time I would have finished if I had run a 4 hour marathon. I started crying again. I had never been on this side after a race and it was heartbreaking for me to be with all the other finishers without a medal of my own, especially when I had such high hopes for this race.

We went right inside the building where the medical team was. It was all set up with cots, and they led me right to one. The lead doctor came right up to me and asked me the same questions as the EMT did, took my vital signs (which had now improved greatly), and rubbed my back. The volunteers got me blankets because I was shivering again, and they started getting me set up to get an IV because I still felt a little nauseous when I drank liquids. The woman tried to insert the IV in both my arm and my hand, but my veins are very small and were even smaller now because I was dehydrated, so they couldn’t get it in. It was SO painful and they actually blew out the vein in my hand (I have a big ugly bruise there today), so I said I didn’t want an IV and would just try to drink instead. They offered me chicken broth but since I am a vegetarian, I just took some hot water and sipped it. It stayed down and I started feeling a lot better.

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After about 30 more minutes I was stable enough to leave. I thanked everyone and made the long and slow walk back to our car, past the finish line once again, and past people who congratulated me and said good job, not knowing I didn’t finish the race. Cue the waterworks once again. On the drive home I finally looked at my phone and saw all the texts, Facebook comments, and questions from people asking how I did. Once again I cried. I sent out an update explaining what happened and the messages of support came rolling in. The tears started falling for what felt like the 100th time that day. I was so emotional.

Once we got home I finally was able to see my baby boy and give him the hug and kiss I was supposed to give him at the finish line. They had gone home once Kevin told them what had happened. Holding him in that moment reminded me what was really important at the end of the day.

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I spent the rest of the day trying to drink water, eat what my stomach could handle, and rest. I did a lot of reflecting and had a lot of conflicting emotions afterwards. I went back and forth between confidence and relief that I did the right thing, disappointment after having such high hopes, feeling like a failure and a quitter, sadness over not getting to run my most important miles- the ones I dedicated to Meg Menzies, Boston, my mom, my husband, my baby and myself- never wanting to run again and wanting to do another marathon tomorrow. I kept thinking about how hard and how long I worked for this goal. At first it was difficult for me to not see it as a failure and months of wasted time and training, and that I worked hard for nothing. But Kevin reminded me it wasn’t for nothing. All of those early mornings, all of those workouts that pushed and challenged me past what I thought I could do, they all made me stronger. I had so many victories during my training that I am proud of. I shouldn’t let what happened at this race take precedence over the last 10 weeks of work (or over 7 months if you count my OBX marathon training that helped me build up to this point) that I put into it.

Do I regret putting myself and my goals out there for the world to see, only for everyone to see me not make them? At first I did. But I quickly changed my mind when I saw the outpouring of support I received. I realized that maybe it could be a good lesson to others. That it’s okay to fail, because trying and failing is better than never trying at all. It’s definitely a lesson I NEEDED to learn myself.

This was also a lesson that there’s a difference between pushing yourself and pushing yourself too far, and that it is so important to listen to your body.  The medics told me my body was most likely still feeling the effects of being sick earlier in the week, and it just hit a point where it shut down as a result. I am not sure if that’s what happened or not, but regardless of the reason, I will never risk my health and safety for a race. I have come close to that point before (the Air Force Marathon a few years ago is a good example), but now that I am a mother I have an entirely different perspective on what is important. There will be more races, but there will never be another me. I know 100% that I absolutely made the right choice to stop.

Finally, it reminded me that that despite how well your training goes, and how much you have improved as a runner, it all comes down to the conditions on that day. There are so many things that go into race day- the temperature, the wind factor, whether it’s raining or skies are clear, whether it’s cloudy or sunny, how your stomach feels, how the rest of your body feels, the balance of salt and water in your body, your attitude… I could go on and on. Sometimes everything comes together and gives you a perfect race, like in the Outer Banks Marathon, and sometimes it doesn’t. There are so many factors that are out of our control. I needed to realize that yesterday there were things that happened that were out of my control and I need to let it go and move on.

I don’t really know where to go from here. Part of me wants to try again in a few weeks and call yesterday a 21 mile training run. But a bigger part of me wants to take some time off from training and give myself a break from it all. I’m still not sure what I will do, but I do know one thing- I will not let this defeat me. I let myself be upset about it yesterday but now it’s time to look forward.

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I want to finish this post by saying thank you to the police and medical team at the Myrtle Beach Marathon. The police officers, the EMTs out on the course, and the medical staff at the finish line all went above and beyond their calls of duty. They took amazing care of me, as well as the other patients in the medical area- including many who were much worse off than I was. I also want to thank everyone who was supporting and cheering for me as I ran, and then afterwards when I wasn’t able to finish. I was truly blown away by everyone’s love and support. Thank you all for making me smile and cry happy tears at the same time on a difficult day. Special thanks to my amazing husband who like always, continues to be my rock and is the ultimate example of someone who keeps a positive attitude no matter what. I love you!

I definitely have some unfinished business to take care of, whenever that may be. I am not finished with the marathon distance and I am DEFINITELY not finished with the Myrtle Beach Marathon. I’ll be back for that sub-4 hour marathon someday!

26.2 Dedications

Getting to Myrtle Beach was an adventure. With a big snow storm coming to our area, we decided to leave Wednesday after work, a day earlier than planned. The snow started a little sooner than expected, came down fast and was sticking. We made it a couple of hours before having to stop at a hotel for the night because the highway was covered with accumulating snow and we didn’t think it was safe. The next morning the roads were clear thanks to rain and warmer temperatures. We finally made it here on Thursday afternoon, and I could finally breathe a huge sigh of relief!

Needless to say I had quite a few stressful hours in the car on the way here. While trying to distract myself from the weather I decided I was going to dedicate each of my miles this weekend to someone or something special in my life. So I made a list of the people who inspire me, have supported me, who make me laugh, anyone and anything I want to think about during the race to help me get through it. While coming up with my list I actually got emotional a few times. Even though running is an individual sport, I could not have progressed as a runner without the love and support I have received from these people. I am so excited to dedicate my miles to them tomorrow!

26.2 Dedications

1. Fellow Myrtle Beach Marathon Runners. I love the first mile of a race because it signifies the start of a journey we are all about to go on together. No matter what our individual paces are, we will all run the same course and finish as marathoners. I wanted to dedicate my first mile to all the runners around me because of that.

2. Mile Posts (Dorothy Beal). Dorothy’s blog has been a huge source of inspiration for me. She is a mother of 3 who has brought her marathon time down from 4:20 to 3:11 and encourages runners to “find your strong” and “dream big, run long.” Her positive words and phrases are the ones that go through my head when I’m running, especially “I run this body,” which has been my mantra during this training cycle.

3. My New-to-Running Friends. I wanted to dedicate mile 3 to all my friends who are new to running. When I was just starting to run, I couldn’t imagine running a whole 5K (3.1 miles). It’s a very significant distance, and to many people, accomplishing this is when they truly start believing that they are ‘runners.’ I know so many people who are just beginning their running journey, and this mile is for them!

4. All the Mother Runners. Running is always challenging, but running after having kids (or just one, in my experience so far) is hard on a whole different level. Getting back into it after having a baby is tough. We have to deal with things like a body that is not the same as it was before, less bladder control, leaking and engorged boobs… it’s not pretty. It’s also harder to get out of the house with less sleep, a schedule that revolves around your kids, and the feeling of guilt that sometimes comes with spending time doing something for yourself. I have loved being part of the community of mother runners who share in my experiences and support me throughout my journey, and this mile is for them!

5. Pregnancy. This mile is dedicated to the amazing journey that was my pregnancy.  Pregnancy made me appreciate my body more than ever before and being able to run and stay active during pregnancy made me stronger. It helped me develop a healthy and positive relationship with my body. I will always be thankful for having the experience of carrying and giving birth to my beautiful baby boy.

6. Finley. Finley is my friend’s little boy that has CMD- Congenital Muscular Dystrophy. Because of this disease, Finley will most likely never walk, let alone run, and he faces many other health issues as well. There is currently no cure or treatment for this disease. His mom Ashley is currently raising money for Footsteps for Finley, to help fund research towards finding a cure. She told me that she thinks of him when she is running and it pushes her, because she knows he is not able to run like other kids his age. It is a good reminder not to take our bodies abilities for granted. I will be dedicating this mile to him!

7. Marisa. Marisa was our Bradley Method birth class teacher and also our doula. She has quickly become a close friend of ours too. Through our classes and Kevin’s birth, she has taught me that I am stronger than I ever thought I could be. I will always be thankful to her for that because it’s what has helped me push myself harder in my running too.

8. SBSS. SBSS is the nickname of the group of friends I grew up with back in Pennsylvania. Christy, Sandy and D.J. have always been there for me, even though we went to different colleges and then I moved away to Virginia 6 years ago. I want to think of them during this mile because they are ALWAYS supportive, and thinking of our memories make me laugh and smile.

9. Ashley. Ashley is one of my best friends that I met during my freshman year of college, and now we both live in Northern VA. I will never forget when she met me at mile 20 of my first marathon in Philadelphia and ran to the finish with me. She did it again a year later when I ran the Marine Corps Marathon. She traveled with me to Virginia Beach for the Shamrock Half Marathon, and because she had a knee injury she walked the WHOLE 13.1 miles while I ran. She is an amazing, selfless friend and I love her!!!

10. Cynthia. Cynthia has been a friend through elementary, middle and high school. Then we went to the same college and moved to the same town afterwards to teach. We both started running around the same time, and we’ve done many races together. I am super proud of her because this year she has taken to her training to another level and pushed herself to PR in the both the full and half marathon. I am hoping to draw some strength from her during this mile and do the same!

11. Gina. I met Gina at my gym a few years ago. She taught Cycle and Body Pump when I was very new to both of those classes. She was always positive and encouraging, and has since become a friend who does many of the same races as I do. I now go to a new gym since I moved, but she continues to motivate and inspire me with her energy and positivity on social media and the rare occasions I get to see her. Her words go through my head a lot when I run, especially one of her favorites: “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”

12. My Work Family. I am so lucky to work with such amazing people. I have coworkers ask me daily about my running, most of them don’t even care about running but they care about me and want to support me. There are 3 especially who have become my personal running buddies and cheerleaders: Darla, Amanda, and Danielle. These three women are amazing and I am so thankful for them!

13. James and Chanda. Our friends who we met in our Bradley Method birth class. They are running their first half marathons tomorrow here in Myrtle Beach. I am dedicating mile 13 to them because of that, and because they have worked hard during their training. I’m so excited for them!

14. In-laws. This mile is for my in-laws. They have always been supportive of both mine and Kevin’s running, and have traveled all over to go to our races. They’ve come with us to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Nashville, the Outer Banks, and here in Myrtle Beach where they live. My mother-in-law is a spectating pro. She can somehow get around to multiple points on the course, even in an unfamiliar city. She’s always stocked with water and other supplies, and takes the baby so that Kevin can jump in and run with me.

15. Sacha. Sacha is my aunt from Oregon who has come to visit us several times. Even though she lives far away, she’s been like a second mom to me since my mom passed away. I wanted to dedicate a mile to her because she is who I want to be like when I grow up 🙂  You would never know she’s in her 60s by how healthy and active she is, and how young she looks as a result. She’s also extremely strong, and is a breast cancer survivor. I am excited to run this mile for her!

16. & 17. Two Special People. These miles will be run for two special people that I know that are currently battling cancer. I don’t want to share too much about their stories because they are not mine to tell, but I am running for them to send them some positive energy and strength. I thought they each deserved their own mile.

18. Grandparents. All 4 of my grandparents have passed away. My Poppy and Grammy were the only ones who knew me during the time I was a runner and they didn’t entirely understand it, but they were always asking questions and telling me they were proud of me. All 4 of them passed away from some sort of health issue, which is all the more motivation for me to be as healthy as I can be. I love thinking of them and the memories we have had together. This mile is for them.

19. The people who said I couldn’t do it. I am running this marathon to prove to myself that I can do it, and do it better, after having a baby. But I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t also a little bit to prove other people wrong. I heard from many people while I was pregnant that I could basically kiss my marathon running days goodbye. “You won’t have the time for that,” “You won’t be as fast as you were,” “Your body will never be the same”… I could go on and on. Well guess what? I DO have time, I have gotten FASTER, and my body is even BETTER. This mile is for all of those Negative Nancies who didn’t believe in me!

20. Lauren. Watching my sister grow up into the beautiful, strong, and independent woman she is now has been amazing. She is hilarious, creative, caring, and has recently gotten into running too. She did the Couch to 5K plan and now runs regularly. She has lost 30 pounds as a result and now I’m trying to talk her into doing a race with me 🙂 I love my baby sister!

21. Dad. My dad is one of the strongest people I know. After my mom died, he was left to raise two girls, a 17 year old and a 14 year old, on his own. Mile 21-22 are usually tough for me, so I wanted to think of my dad during this one to draw strength from him. He has always supported my running, and although coming to races isn’t really his thing, I’ll never forget how he showed up at my first marathon and sprinted alongside me as I went toward the finish line. He also supports me in more subtle, sweet ways- like getting me one of my favorite Philly soft pretzels and leaving it on the counter for me to eat after my long run. Love him ❤

22. Meg Menzies. Most people have heard about Meg, a mother of 3 who was running in Richmond and killed by a drunk driver. She was training for the Boston Marathon. Her story really affected me. I cannot imagine going out to do something you love like running, something that makes you feel so happy and stress-free, and then one person’s selfish decision to drink and drive causes you to lose everything. As a fellow mother runner, I feel so badly for her family and how she will not get to see her kids grow up. I have a feeling I am going to get emotional when I run this mile for her.

23. Boston. I don’t really need to explain this one, do I? It’s been almost a year since the bombings at the Boston Marathon, and I have thought about it countless times since then. Every finish line I cross, every time I see bomb-sniffing dogs at the races, every time I see them searching backpacks, every time I see families at the finish line waiting for their loved ones, I think about the horror that happened that day. I can’t even imagine how terrifying that day must have been. I will be running mile 23 for all of those people who were affected by the bombs that day, especially those that lost their lives and were injured.

24. Mom. I wanted to save my mom for one of the later miles when I will need strength.  She didn’t know me as a runner, but she was always fiercely supportive of anything that I wanted to do. I know she would have been my biggest cheerleader if she were still here. I know she is with me constantly, but especially when I run. Sometimes I have very distinct moments when I am running where I feel her with me, like she’s transferring her strength and the enthusiastic energy she always had to me. It’s hard to explain. I want to run this mile for her because I know that whatever pain I feel at the end of a marathon doesn’t compare to the pain she went through. Cue the waterworks already, and I’m not even running yet!

25. Kevin II. The love of my life and my original running buddy. We have so many memories running together. He has always been my biggest fan, my best cheerleader and an amazing coach. He has believed in me and my ability a lot longer than I have. When I doubted myself and whether I would ever get back to where I was before pregnancy he didn’t even blink before he said of course I would. He is my rock and I love him so much.

26. Kevin III. By far my greatest accomplishment. Being his mom has taught me so much. I want him to grow up surrounded by positive examples of health, fitness, and the attitude to never give up. He is the light of my life and thinking of him will definitely help me get through mile 26. I will be so excited to see his sweet face at the finish line.

.2. Me.  The last .2 miles can be the hardest and best part of the whole race. I am dedicating this part to myself for all of my hard work, and for doing something for myself that makes me a better person, a better wife, a better mom.

I plan to write these dedications down on a small piece of paper and carry it with me. I am excited to draw strength and motivation from all of these special people during my race tomorrow. The next post I write will most likely be a recap!

Myrtle Beach Marathon Goals

The time has come for me to talk about my goals for this marathon.

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I have always recommended to people that they set more than one goal for a big race: a gold, silver and bronze goal for what time you hope to finish in, plus some non-time goals as well (following your fueling plan, keeping a positive attitude, etc). This is something I have practiced the last few years. It’s a smart way to not set yourself up for failure and to not get disappointed if things don’t go perfectly. This strategy has worked for me many times in the past. However, this time around I will not be following my own advice. I have only one goal for this race. I want a sub-4 marathon.

I ran my first marathon in November 2008 and on Saturday I’ll be running my 9th. It has always been a personal goal of mine to finish under 4 hours. I have gotten SO close but I still haven’t accomplished it. I ran a 4:00:04 in the Air Force Marathon, my last marathon before getting pregnant. Then I ran a 4:06:22 at the Outer Banks Marathon this past November without a Garmin and without really trying. It has taken 5 1/2 years and a ton of hard work, but I think I might actually do it this time.

Usually I hate to make an “all or nothing” goal, but I am this time. I also usually don’t share my goals with many people because of the the fear that I won’t achieve them. I am doing both of those things this time. I NEED to feel the pressure and the time has come to really push myself. I truly believe I can run a sub 4 hour marathon this time (unless something disastrous happens- knocking on wood!). I would need less than a 9:09 average pace to finish in under 4 hours. Almost every single one of my runs this training cycle has been done at a sub-9 minute pace, usually in the 8:15-8:45 range. This includes a hilly 20 miler done at an 8:36 pace. Looking at my training and the numbers, I should be able to do this and I believe that I can. So now the question becomes… by how much can I PR? This is a flat course and Kevin will be there to run with me at certain points, including the last few miles. The weather forecast is 54 degrees and sunny. Conditions couldn’t be more in my favor. I’m really excited to push my limits and see what I can do.

The only thing I’m unsure about is what pace I should go for. On most of my runs the pace that felt natural and easy to me was between 8:35 and 8:45. But I think in a race situation especially on a flat course its going to be hard to hold myself back. And I’m not quite sure I should hold myself back to that pace. I really want to leave it all out there and not have any regrets. If it feels good, I’m going to go for it and not drive myself crazy with the numbers on my watch. I will honestly be happy if I end up finishing in 3:59:59.

Strangely, I feel very calm about all of this. I truly trust my training and have learned a lot about myself over the past two years or so. I have learned that I am stronger than I think, and I can run faster than I ever thought was possible. I have done a lot of work on my both my physical and mental strength. I am ready. This is my last marathon for a while and I want to make it count.

If anyone is interested in tracking my progress, you can do it online here. There is also a free Myrtle Beach Marathon app you can download. I am bib #1626 and the race starts at 6:30 a.m. There will be tracking splits at the 10K, half, and 18.3 miles, and the finish. Eek! This is really happening!

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Myrtle Beach Marathon Training: Week 9

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This was a week that forced me to slow down and listen to my body. After giving my 20 miler a hard effort, my body felt very rundown almost the entire week. I didn’t have a lot of energy and I felt l like I was coming down with some sort of sickness. I decided to really listen to the message my body was sending me, take it easy, and ended up cutting my first two runs short this week. Read on for more details.

Here is how the week went.

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Monday: XT – Stretching & Stick Rolling (15:00). I was super sore and tired from my amazing 20 miler the day before, so I didn’t feel up to doing much Monday night. I just did some stretching and stick rolling while watching the Bachelor.

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Tuesday: XT – Yoga for Runners (20:00). I was still feeling pretty sore and tight so I didn’t think going to my normal Tuesday Body Pump class was a great idea. 20 milers take a lot out of me, especially since this one was my fastest ever- on hills too! Instead I did a 20 minute Yoga for Runners video on Youtube and it was AMAZING. I was so stretched and relaxed that I almost fell asleep on the mat at the end. Afterwards I was able to walk normally again too, haha. Definitely going to keep this one handy for the future!

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Wednesday: Key Run #1 – Speedwork. 3 miles in 26:00 (8:40 average pace). I woke up to freezing rain and ice so I decided to wait until the evening to run. Note to self: Do not eat enchiladas for dinner and then try to do speedwork afterwards. I waited two hours after eating but apparently it wasn’t enough. I had heartburn and an upset stomach during my entire run. I was supposed to do a 1 mile warm up, 5 x 1K with 400 meter recovery, 1 mile cool down. Instead I barely made it through 2 repeats before my dinner almost came back up to say hello. I felt awful, so I stopped at 3 miles. I felt sick the entire rest of the night too. Boo!

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Thursday: XT – Body Pump (1:00:00). I managed to get up for the 5 a.m. Body Pump class the day after my terrible evening long run. I still felt a little sick and weak, which had me worried that I was coming down with something and it wasn’t just my dinner that upset my stomach. It was a struggle lifting my usual weight and my body just felt off. Not good. But I did feel pretty badass wearing my new shirt that my friend got for me. It says, “Some moms lift more than just their kids.” Sorry for the mirror image, there was nobody else awake that early to take my picture!

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Friday: Key Run #2 – Tempo Run. 4 miles in 34:17 (8:34 average pace).  Another day of not feeling my best. I was supposed to do a tempo run with the middle 3 miles at 7:32 pace and I only did 2. I was fine with that decision, because at a week out from my marathon I knew it was important to just listen to my body and not push it too hard. I told myself that the hard work is already done, and now I just need to make sure my body is recovered enough for the race. I focused on getting lots of water in later that day and just taking it easy.

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Saturday: XT – Cleaning (2:30:00). Yes, my husband and I cleaned for 2 1/2 hours yesterday. During BOTH of Kevin’s nap times we got to work and did a lot of deep cleaning that we haven’t done in a long time. We’re talking hardcore scrubbing, every surface, on hands and knees, kind of work. I am totally counting it towards my workouts because we were both sweating by the end.

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Sunday: Key Run #3 – Long Run. 8 miles in 1:07:04 (8:23 average pace). My final long run before the marathon on Saturday! So glad I took it easy this past week because my legs and the rest of my body felt awesome today and like I was back to my old self. Yay! I spent the whole run visualizing having a strong race and it left me feeling super excited. I can’t wait to see what I can do!

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Week 9 Total:

  • Run: 15 miles
  • Cross-Training & Strength-Training: 1 Body Pump class, yoga for runners, cleaning, stretching, and stick rolling!

I’m feeling MUCH better now at the end of the week. I am a little bit congested but nothing too bad (seriously, can’t I just be healthy?) I cannot believe that I will be running a marathon in only 6 days! My workouts will be a little different this week. Normally I run on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday but since the race is on a Saturday I will be running on Tuesday and Thursday instead. My runs will be short and sweet. I’ll be doing 6 x 400 on Tuesday and 3 miles at marathon pace on Thursday. I won’t be going to Body Pump and will instead do yoga, walking, stretching, and things like that for my ‘cross-training.’ Like I said earlier, the hard work is done- now it’s time to prepare my body for the big day! My other goals for the upcoming week are to drink a lot of water, keep my diet clean (and dairy-free to avoid stomach issues), and get a lot of SLEEP. I’m off to a good start, I’ve gotten at least 8 hours the past 2 nights.

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I won’t be doing a training update for week 10 since I’ll be doing a marathon recap instead. I will be posting my goals for the race later this week too. Ahhh! It’s almost here!

My pictures were taken with the FitSnap app- check it out!

Currently

It’s been over 7 months since I’ve done a “Currently” post so I thought it was time for an updated one! Here we go!

Current book:

I have been reading Kristin Armstrong’s Mile Markers and I LOVE it. Every woman who runs need to read this book! She is so relatable and I feel like I’m on a long run with an old friend when I read it.

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Current music:

I wrote a post recently about some of my favorite running songs and that’s what I’ve been listening to on many of my runs. My favorite song on that playlist is the one below- 300 Violin Orchestra by Jorge Quintero. It’s actually an instrumental song, which I don’t normally listen to, but something about this song is SO motivating. I listened to it on repeat during the last few miles of my 20 miler last weekend.

Current guilty pleasure:

Well I don’t know if I would call this a ‘guilty’ pleasure because I don’t feel guilty about it, but I have been loving wine lately. It is just so nice to sit down with a glass (one is all I need!) after a long day when the baby is asleep. My husband is really into craft beer, so it’s nice to have a drink with him sometimes to relax and unwind together.

Current nail color:

Nothing. I am pretty boring when it comes to nails. It’s hard to keep them nicely painted when I am the mom of a toddler and also a teacher who has to wash my hands constantly to avoid yucky kindergarten germs. But this question reminded me that my Secret Santa at work got me a gift certificate to a nail salon, so I need to go get them done!!!

Current drink:

I am loving green smoothies. I got pretty sick of my standard oatmeal every day, so we’ve been having smoothies most mornings instead (even though it’s freezing outside!). Lately I have been adding almond butter to add some healthy fat, which helps me stay full for longer.

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Current food:

Well tonight for dinner we made pizza on naan bread, and this is how it turned out… RIP pizza 😦 Not my finest cooking moment! This was actually Kevin’s pizza, and somehow mine ended up okay. I tried to make him eat mine instead but he wouldn’t. I felt so bad!

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Current favorite show:

Hmm… I kind of don’t want to admit this, but I love the Bachelor. It’s always full of drama, but this season has been especially controversial. Even though some of the things that have happened have bothered me, I can’t stop watching!! It’s like a car accident on the side of the road!

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Current wish list:

I really want this shirt from Gone For a Run. It would be a great Valentine’s Day gift… *HINT HINT* Kevin 🙂

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Current need:

To go to bed… both of my boys have been asleep for a little while now. I’m tapering so I know sleep is more important than ever right now in order to let my body recover from training and prepare for the big race. I got a solid 9 hours last night and hopefully the boys will sleep in a bit tomorrow too!

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Current indulgence:

Reese’s peanut butter cup ice cream. Kevin randomly came home with it last week and it’s SO GOOD! We just finished it last night and I’m pretty sad about it. I am trying to keep my diet clean for the next week until the race but then there will definitely be more ice cream in my future!

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Current blessing:

All of this SNOW that we’ve had lately, which has given me many snow days to spend with my sweet boy! We’ve had 8 so far this year, plus a couple of 2 hour delays. I am grateful for every single additional day I get to spend with him instead of at work. He’s growing and changing so quickly these days and I don’t want to miss a thing.

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Current outfit:

Recently I have gotten into skinny jeans and boots. I never thought skinny jeans looked good on me, but I went shopping with my aunt and she convinced me that they did. Kevin got me an awesome pair of boots for Christmas and I have a couple other pairs as well. I am having fun experimenting with different looks!

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Current excitement:

I am most excited about the Myrtle Beach Marathon! We are heading there on Thursday!

Last year after the half in Myrtle Beach!

Last year after the half in Myrtle Beach!

Your turn! What are some of your current favorite things?

My previous “Currently” post – June 2013