Tag Archives: Travel

Chicago Marathon Training: Weeks 8 & 9

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I’m really behind again – but for a good reason! I’ve been having a lot of fun and enjoying my last few weeks of summer vacation. This post will recap both week 8 and 9. I’m also nearly through week 10. Oops! Week 8 was a glorious cutback week and week 9 was spent in beautiful, amazing Oregon visiting family. So much to catch up on, including two races! Here are all the details.

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The black is what I had planned, the purple is what I actually did.

WEEK 8

  • Monday: Yoga. I have really been enjoying doing yoga on my rest days. I just do it at home, and I’ve been liking this Youtube channel called Yoga with Adriene. She has a Yoga for Runner’s playlist, but I especially like this 30 minute practice that hits all my tight spots!
  • Tuesday: Easy Run – 4.3 miles @ 8:48. Tuesdays are usually a speedwork day for me, but since this was a cutback week and I had a 10 mile race on Sunday I had to just do easy runs all week. However, I still met up with the Moms Run This Town ladies for Track Tuesday. Once we said hello and chatted for a bit I headed out to a nearby neighborhood to get my miles in. Everyone in the group dedicated their miles to one of our member’s sister, who passed away and would have been turning 43. I ran 4.3 miles for her ❤

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  • Wednesday: Easy Run – 6 miles @ 8:19. So much for keeping all my runs easy this week! My “easy” 6 mile run turned into a hard, hot, humid, hilly, too fast run with my friend Steve who as always, slowed way down for me. If I didn’t have him pushing me and keeping my mind off the weather I would have probably cut it short and slowed way down. Running buddies are the best!!! But really… is it fall yet?

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  • Thursday: Easy Run – 3 miles @ 8:59 + Upper Fix. On this day I did a quick early morning run before my mommy duties resumed. I don’t love back-to-back runs (legs felt soooo heavy) but my youngest was with his dad overnight and the oldest is at the beach. I have to make the most of the time I have to myself, even if that means two runs less than 12 hours apart. It does make me want to do a Ragnar race though. Good thing one is already in the works for 2017! Later on in the day I did upper fix while the baby was napping.

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  • Friday: Easy Run – 4 miles @ 8:37 + Lower Fix. I think my waffles had something magical in them this morning because I felt really good on this run! Kyler and I ran our favorite loop which is mostly by the water. It’s weird how different it feels to push a single stroller and without 35 pounds of threenager! I was only planning to run 3 miles but he fell asleep and I felt good so I went 1 more then walked some. 4 miles at an average pace of 8:37 and each mile was faster than the last. Later on I did Lower Fix for strength training.

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  • Saturday: Rest. I normally run on both weekend days, but I took a rest day because I had a 10 mile race on Sunday. Later on in the day I realized any chance of a PR was going to be non-existent, so taking a rest day wasn’t really necessary, but oh well! The forecast showed that it was going to be very hot when it started at 7:15 (80s-90s) so I changed my race plan. Rather than kill myself in the brutal heat and humidity I decided to take it easier and stick with my friends.
  • Sunday: Hartwood 10 Miler @ 10:13. A full recap of this race is coming, but it was SO HOT! I loaded up on sunscreen and body glide, put on my shorts and sports bra and bared my mommy body and runners tan to the world. This was super out of my comfort zone but luckily I had an awesome group of friends who joined the Sports Bra Squad with me and we decided to all run together and just have fun. We ran, we walked, we stuck together, we sweat buckets, and we had so much fun! This was definitely not the day to “race” for me, but I’m glad I made the best of it and made some awesome memories instead. I ran the entire race with 2 friends and we finished at an average pace of around 10:13/mile. And then we celebrated! My 4th Hartwood 10 Miler is in the books.

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Week 8 Totals

  • Run: 27.3 (4 miles w/ double stroller)
  • Strength Training/Cross Training: Upper Fix, Lower Fix, Yoga

WEEK 9

  • Monday: Easy Run – 5 miles @ 11:39. A few hours after running the Hartwood 10 Miler on Sunday I hopped on a plane to Bend, Oregon. I went to visit my sister who recently moved out here, along with other family members. I absolutely LOVE Oregon. It’s my favorite place to run because it’s beautiful with cooler temperatures and low humidity. It just makes me so happy! After arriving late on Sunday night I let myself sleep in a bit on Monday. Once I finally got up my sister and I did a 5 mile walk/run. We had a little trail, a little road and gorgeous scenery. While we were out we even ran into Lauren Fleshman who lives here! She is a recently retired elite runner, creator of Picky Bars and my beloved Believe training journal! She slowed down to say hi as she passed us, and my sister and I totally geeked out. We love her!

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  • Tuesday: Speedwork – 2 mile WU, 1 minute on/1 minute off (2 miles), 2 mile CD (6 total @ 8:21 average). On Tuesday morning I started the day with a 6 mile run right after sunrise (at 6:47 AM, Garmin was still on east coast time). The track in Bend was closed for repairs so I did modified “speedwork” instead. After warming up for 2 miles I did 1 minute hard/1 minute easy for two miles, then cooled down for two more. Elevation of 4000 feet and hills made it feel harder than it should have been, but the scenery and the cool weather helped a ton! My “fast” minutes were run at around 6:35-6:45 pace, so I was happy with that!  A little later my sister and I went on a hike around a beautiful lake with a gorgeous view of some mountains.

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  • Wednesday: Easy Run – 4 miles @ 8:27 + 2 hours of standup paddle boarding. I wanted to show how much humidity plays a part in summer running in Virginia. It was 75° in Oregon when I ran without a single cloud in the sky, but no humidity. As you can see in the picture, my clothes were totally dry after 4 miles and I only broke a little sweat. It’s so strange! In Virginia where it’s been 75-100% humidity everyday lately my clothes are soaked within a mile! Breathing felt a bit easier on this day, but I did feel tired more quickly since we were at higher altitude. At the end of my run I saw two ospreys in a big nest by my aunt’s house! Later that afternoon I went out for two hours of standup paddle boarding with my sister. It was my first time, and it was so much fun! I felt unstable and shaky for the first 30 minutes or so (I have really bad balance thanks to years of ear infections growing up), but started feeling more comfortable after that. We went against the current first which was hard but an awesome challenge. Before we turned around to head back we hopped off to swim. Such an amazing experience with my sister. I definitely felt the effects of that workout later. So many beautiful sights and fun things to do in Oregon! I love it.

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  • Thursday: Twilight 5K – 3.1 miles @ 7:15 + 2 WU miles @ 8:35 + Yoga. I went into this race with no expectations and didn’t take it very seriously. I even drank a beer before! But I ended up doing better than I thought I would, and won 2nd place in my age group. Not a PR but I’ll take it! Maybe I should drink before all of my races? I always do better when I have no expectations. This felt hard because it was in the evening and 85 degrees. The air up here is so dry that it hurt my throat when I was breathing heavily. But I somehow pulled out tempo pace which is what I wanted. Woo hoo!! I was happy! Earlier in the day I did my favorite 30 minute yoga video that I linked above.

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  • Friday: Easy Run – 3 miles @ 9:03. Just a nice little morning run on a new-to-me trail by my aunt’s house. It was interrupted at the halfway point by a FaceTime call from my boys, which made me super happy!

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  • Saturday: Long Run – 18 miles @ 8:35. I was nervous for this long run. 18 miles is a long way to go in an environment that my body wasn’t entirely used to yet. But it ended up being amazing and I couldn’t believe how comfortable it felt. My pace stayed steady at around 8:30-8:35/mile and I didn’t need to make any stops. I felt strong both physically and mentally for the entire run, and I also just felt so happy and lucky to be able to run like this. I love it so much!

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  • Sunday: Rest. I had a full day of travel starting with leaving for the airport at 4:45 AM and arrived back at home at 7:30 PM. Needless to say, I knew this would be a rest day, especially because the next day I went back to work full-time. Ahh!!

Week 9 Totals

  • Run: 41.1 miles, all in beautiful Oregon!
  • Strength Training/Cross Training: Yoga, Paddleboarding, Hiking

My successes during these weeks were getting all my runs in, both in the heat and terrible humidity in Virginia during week 8 and while on vacation during week 9. The last few weeks have been amazing for my confidence and I’m enjoying riding that high right now! My challenges during these weeks were just acclimating my body to all the different types of weather/environmental changes that were happening and trying to run through it all. This challenge has actually been harder to manage right now during week 10, but I’ll talk about that more in that training update post.

My thought of the week is one that I love not only for running but for life. I have a lot of fear in all areas of my life that tries to creep up on me and take over. I’m working on pushing that away and trying to focus on the positive. Not easy when there is a lot of unknown ahead of me, but this quote really helps me stay hopeful and optimistic for whatever lies ahead in my future! Maybe even a BQ 🙂

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Previous Chicago Marathon Training updates

PS. I try to post daily updates on my runs on my blog’s Facebook page, so follow me there if you want updates in “real” time 🙂

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The Myrtle Beach Marathon: Redemption!

I have never been more excited to write a race recap! The Myrtle Beach Marathon went better than I ever dreamed it would. Every single detail came together and I ran the strongest race of my life, both physically and mentally. I beat all of my goals by a landslide and scored myself a 13 MINUTE PR! Here are all the details.

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Best race photo of my life! At mile 26 too!

This race kind of snuck up on me. I have been super busy with work and home stuff that our trip to Myrtle Beach felt like it came out of nowhere. All of a sudden it was time to pack up and head south, and before I knew it I was at the expo picking up my stuff and then at the starting line the next morning. I think this was a huge blessing in a way, because I didn’t really have time to get myself all worked up and stressed about the huge challenge ahead of me. I also went into it with sort of low expectations, since my #1 goal was just to finish this time after my DNF here two years ago.

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I was very excited about the weather forecast, which looked absolutely perfect. High 30s at the start and low 50s at the finish, with minimal wind for a coastal race. I was so thankful that wind didn’t seem like it was going to be a big issue this year, because it has been really tough the last few years which caused me to expend too much energy. Everything seemed like it was starting to come together.

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Even despite all of these positives, I still woke up on Saturday morning with a very nervous tummy. I focused on doing my pre-race routine – bathroom, coffee, eat, get dressed, bathroom again… but my breakfast made me feel a little nauseous so I couldn’t get much down. I left the house around 5:30 to drive about 20 minutes to the start, and once I got there I pumped (#momlife), used a porta-potty (there were a TON this year with no lines – so much appreciated!), and made my way to the start. I felt like I had a ton of pent-up nervous energy that I needed to get out. I couldn’t wait to start running to release it.

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Luckily, I knew Andrew, who was pacing the 3:45 group, which was my ‘Gold’ goal, and I was able to say hi to him when I lined up in his corral at the start. Seeing a familiar face made me feel a lot more comfortable. I knew he would be running about an 8:30 pace, which I thought was doable based on my training and recent half marathons. However, I still had some fear lingering in the back of my mind from two years ago when I had to suddenly stop at mile 21, so I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to hold that pace the entire time. I decided to go for it and see what happened.

Finally it was 6:30 (super early race start!) and we were off. There was a big wall of people with the 3:45 pace group so I hung a little behind them to give myself some space. Since we started toward the front, the course wasn’t super crowded and it was easy to keep the pace I wanted. As expected, an 8:30 pace felt really easy, and almost too slow. I was SO tempted to pick it up a little bit – but I have made that mistake so many times before. I kept telling myself to be patient and hang out here at this very comfortable pace for a while. We ran out to a shopping area called Market Common, did a loop around there, and then headed back out toward the beach to start running back the other direction.

  • Mile 1 – 8:32
  • Mile 2 – 8:26
  • Mile 3 – 8:34
  • Mile 4 – 8:28
  • Mile 5 – 8:32
  • Mile 6 – 8:29
  • Mile 7 – 8:32

I passed the 10K timing mat at 52:06, but it was a little off from what my watch said. Actually, all the mile markers were about a tenth of a mile short from what mine and the other people around me had on their watches. Not a big deal, and I knew it would eventually even out at the end. I had set my Garmin to show my overall average pace while I was running and it stayed steady at 8:30-8:31/mile the entire time, so I knew I was right on track.

I have run the full (up to mile 21.5) and the half here a couple times, so I know the Myrtle Beach Marathon course very well. I practiced visualizing it on my long runs. I knew every long stretch, every turn, every mile marker, every timing mat. I knew there would be two parts of the course that would be the hardest for me. The first would be the 9 mile stretch along the water from mile 8-17. Not only can this be hard physically because of the wind that comes from off the ocean and between the buildings, but it’s also very tough mentally because you’re running straight for so long without any change in direction. I knew this was my first big test, and if I could get past this part feeling strong I’d be in really good shape.

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  • Mile 8 – 8:28
  • Mile 9 – 8:33
  • Mile 10 – 8:35
  • Mile 11 – 8:24
  • Mile 12 – 8:25
  • Mile 13 – 8:33

I passed the halfway point at 1:51:05, still keeping a very steady 8:30 pace. I have never run a more consistently paced race in my entire life, and I really owe that to our pacer Andrew. I have never run an entire race with a pace group before, but it was very freeing to be able to just run and not expend any extra energy worrying about looking at my watch and crunching numbers. It really helped me enjoy myself and take in my surroundings better. I also loved the pace group for the support and the camaraderie. The miles were just flying by as I spent time talking with the people around me and getting to know them and their stories. It was amazing!

  • Mile 14 – 8:36
  • Mile 15 – 8:34
  • Mile 16 – 8:31
  • Mile 17 – 8:30
  • Mile 18 – 8:33

From miles 15-17 we took a very slight turn bringing us even closer to the water, and the wind really picked up once we did that. I tried to focus on not fighting the wind too much so that I didn’t waste too much energy. I knew it would be over soon and that we would be turning and running inland at mile 17, so I just hung in there. I never let myself feel mentally defeated. Something that really helped me was to think of the saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Yes, I realize that’s kind of funny to say since I am a vegetarian 🙂 But for me, the mental part of running is huge and it’s very easy to get caught up in that and get overwhelmed. I kept reminding myself to eat the elephant one bite at a time. Rather than stress about the 26.2 miles ahead of me, I broke it up into smaller more manageable “bites” – just make it to the 10k timing mat, then the half, then mile 17 when we finally turn away from the beach and the wind, then mile 18.3 where another timing mat is, and so on. This made it seem less scary and more doable!

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I passed the next checkpoint (18.3 miles) at 2:35:32, still right on my 8:30 target. By now my watch and the mile markers were perfectly in sync. I knew my next “bite” was to make it to the spot where I had to stop last time, at mile 21.38. This was the second part of the course that I was nervous about. I was feeling really great at this point, especially since we were now away from pretty much all wind. The pace still felt extremely comfortable and once again I was tempted to pick it up some, but I really didn’t want to push it until I got farther in the race. I think one factor aside from pacing that helped me feel really strong was my hydration and fueling. I actually decided to wear my Camelback just like I did in my last marathon two years ago, and I am so glad I did. I loved having water whenever I needed it, as well as a place to store my Honey Stingers (and my obsession – chapstick) that was out of the way. I never felt thirsty or like I had any sort of dip in energy the entire time. I drank when I felt like it and ate a half pack of Stingers at 1 hour, and then every 35 minutes after that. It was the perfect balance that left me feeling hydrated and fueled.

  • Mile 19 – 8:30
  • Mile 20 – 8:34

I really love hitting mile 20 in a marathon. To me, the two halves of a marathon are not 13.1 and 13.1. I think the first ‘half’ is the first 20 miles, and the other half is the last 6. If you run a smart race, both of those segments should take about the same amount of effort.  The last 6 miles were such an out of body experience. I kept waiting for the wall to come (either mentally or physically) and it never did. I kept telling the pace group that I couldn’t believe how good I still felt, hoping I wasn’t jinxing myself. I got a little worried when the spout to my Camelback fell off at mile 21 and I had to stop to get it, but I was able to pick it up and get right back into it. I also got worried when our pacer Andrew had some IT band pain at mile around the same time and had to slow down. But the best feeling of all was running past the exact point where I had to stop and get medical help two years ago. I remember so clearly how terrible I felt in that moment, and today in this moment I felt so strong and unstoppable.

From miles 22-26.2 I refused to let myself think about how much I had left, and instead just focused on working on the mile I was in at the moment. One bite at a time. It got a little lonely, since our pace team had broken up quite a bit and I was now running alone. We were also in a more isolated part of town that seemed to drag on a bit, and I saw my pace slow a little bit in miles 22 and 23. I gave myself a little pep talk and decided that it was all me now. No pacer to take me the rest of the way, nobody to talk to and distract me. Nothing but me and the road and my own determination. I knew I was going to PR at this point, and it was up to me to decide by how much.

  • Mile 21 – 8:27
  • Mile 22 – 8:39
  • Mile 23 – 8:38
  • Mile 24 – 8:31
  • Mile 25 – 8:35

I kept working on each mile, one at a time, and before I knew it I saw the flag for mile 25. I decided I needed to pick it up and finish strong, just like I had been practicing in my long runs. I gave those last 1.2 miles everything I had. Right after the mile 26 flag we turned right into the finish area, and I looked down at my watch and saw a time of 3:42. I could not believe that I had just run that fast. I started getting teary eyed once I saw all the people watching by the finish line, and when the announcer called out my name. I ran through the finish line and immediately burst into tears. I DID IT!!!!!

  • Mile 26 – 8:21
  • Last . 20 – 8:07 pace
  • Finish Time – 3:43:10 / 8:31 average pace

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I think this is my shocked face 🙂

What went right in this race? Sometimes everything just comes together and conditions are perfect. It happens very rarely, but I think today was one of those days. Everything from the temperature, the wind, how my body felt, the familiarity of the course, my fueling and hydration plan, my mental strategies, my slower than usual pacing, my strong finish. I tried very hard to stick to my power words of patience, discipline, and trust. Patience to not go out to fast. Discipline to stick to the plan and keep going when it starts to hurt. Trust in my training and my body.

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Like I said in my goals post, this was more than just a race to me. This was a chance for me to get my redemption from two years ago and finally cross the finish line of the Myrtle Beach Marathon. This was marathon #10 in state #10 for me, which allows me to officially join the 50 states club and start working toward the other 40 (however long it may take!). And most importantly, this race was an opportunity for me to leave some sad, angry, defeated feelings on the pavement, and remind myself that I am strong and can do hard things. I could not have asked for a better experience for my 10th marathon, and I am so proud and thankful.

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What’s next? Well, first I’m looking forward to a few months off from hard training! I jumped into training pretty soon after baby, and my body and mind are definitely ready to cut back a bit. Then marathon training will resume this summer for an undetermined fall marathon. I plan to keep chipping away at my time in order to hopefully get my BQ sometime in the next couple of years. We’ll see! Running has taught me that anything is possible with time and a lot of hard work!

MB Marathon 2016 Training: Week 8

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 9.38.59 PMI’m a little late writing my recap of week 8. The last 10 days or so have been very exciting to say the least. I spent the first two days in Virginia, and then traveled to South Carolina for work on Wednesday. Kevin was already down there with my in-laws who live in Surfside Beach, and my hubby and Kyler came down to join us later in the week. We spent the rest of the long weekend until Monday there, and then came back home to FREEZING cold temperatures followed by news that a blizzard is supposed to hit us soon. Talk about a crazy couple of days! Anyway, here is the overview – what I had planned vs. what I actually did in week 8 of my training. I’m thankful it was a cut-back week because things did not really go as planned!

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And here is the detailed rundown!

Monday: Rest Day.

TuesdayRest Day. Really took this cut-back/race week seriously! 🙂 No, what really happened was that I had a crazy day and finally sat down for the first time at 9 PM without having done my run yet… so I decided to push it to the next day and get some much needed R&R instead coloring my adult coloring book. If you haven’t tried it yet you need to! Instant stress relief!

Wednesday: Progression Run – 4 miles / 34:54. I had the day off work because I was traveling to the conference later in the day, so I had time to fit in a run and strength training in the morning after all my boys left for work and daycare. Since it was a cutback week and I had a half marathon on Saturday that I wanted to save my speed for, I decided to take it easier and I didn’t really stick to what I had planned. Instead of doing a 6 mile fartlek run I did an easy 4 mile progression run in the freezing cold. Once my face stopped feeling like it was going to freeze off I felt great, like I could go forever! Love runs like that. Then I came back home and did Upper Fix.

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Thursday: Easy Run – 5 miles / 47:20. What a change in clothing, weather and scenery! I arrived in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for my work conference on Wednesday evening. My hotel was right on the beach, and I watched the sunrise from my balcony on Thursday morning, wishing I could run. I couldn’t fit it in the morning because the sun didn’t come up until after 7, and I had to be at the conference by 8. It was just too dark for me to feel comfortable running alone at that time. When the conference was over I practically ran to my hotel to change, and was able to get 5 easy miles in (3 on the beach) while the sun set. Ahhh, it made my heart so happy, especially after sitting in sessions all day long!

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Friday: Rest.

Saturday: Charleston Half Marathon – 13.1 miles / 1:45:24. I ran half marathon #20 (!), a tough race physically and mentally that definitely made me stronger! Read my full recap here.

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Sunday: Recovery Run – 3 miles / 26:21. 3 recovery miles with my hubby in the afternoon while the kids napped at my in-laws house. We never get to run together without the stroller so it was really nice! Also, check out the elevation in Myrtle Beach… Haha! I don’t think I’ve ever seen an elevation chart so flat.

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Week 8 Totals:

  • Run: 25.2 miles
  • Strength Training/Cross Training: 1 strength workout. I intentionally didn’t want to do much else because of my race, but in hindsight some yoga would have done me good.

My big success was by far my race. Even though it didn’t go exactly as I hoped, I learned a lot about myself in the process and I left it all out there on the course. My challenges were not doing my stretching and foam rolling like I should be, due to the busy week I had, travel and life. I know… excuses, excuses. I NEED to get back into doing that regularly this week, so that is one of my goals for this upcoming week.

The thought of the week… because this is a thought that is definitely on my mind right now! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a good snowstorm, but I have 18 miles to run this weekend! Eek! Another goal for this week is to just do the best I can with this impending storm coming. I know that once we have 2+ feet of snow on the ground I’ll be hitting the treadmill which is always harder for me. I may have to make some adjustments to my plan and that’s okay.

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I am more than ready to ramp it back up in week 9 of training!

Previous MB Marathon 2015 Training Posts

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!

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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.

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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? 🙂

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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

2014: A Year in Review

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I really can’t believe how quickly the year went. Before we get too far into 2015 though, I wanted to do a post recapping the year like I have done for the last three years. After a very challenging year in 2013, I came out stronger and better prepared to handle whatever life threw at me. I definitely was able to apply the lessons I learned to have a much better year personally and professionally, as a wife, mother, teacher, runner, friend, and coach. Here are the details.

2014

January

I kicked off a brand new year with a brand new challenge: 365 Days of Fitness. After feeling the effects of not making the time and effort to exercise enough in 2013, I wanted to try to move my body in some way everyday of the year. I thought this challenge would be just the motivation I needed! Fast forward a year later… I was right 🙂

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We had an awesome surprise when we learned that Kevin’s bad race photo was featured in Runner’s World! He submitted it for their contest on Instagram and it was chosen! This made us laugh pretty hard for a while.

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We were blessed in January with tons of snow days and two hour delays, which meant more time with my baby boy at home. It was amazing getting to see him really experience snow for the first time!

Kevin's first time in the snow!

Kevin’s first time in the snow!

February

In February I was wrapping up my marathon training and tapering for the Myrtle Beach Marathon. I had my final 20 miler at an 8:36 average pace and was feeling stronger than ever. I couldn’t wait to race!

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We had more crazy winter weather and even more snow days, which almost threw a wrench into our travel plans for the marathon. We were hit with a big blizzard AND I got sick – both of these things happened the week of my marathon. I tried to stay positive and hope for the best, since I had big goals for this race. Unfortunately it didn’t go as planned and I ended up with my first ever DNF, having to stop and get medical help shortly after the 21 mile mark.

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Everything ended up begin okay, but I spent the rest of the month pretty down on myself, confused, and disappointed in my “failure.” I went back and forth between never wanting to run again and wanting to run a redemption marathon. Ultimately I learned a very important lesson that there’s a difference between pushing yourself and pushing yourself too far, and I know in retrospect that I absolutely made the right choice not to finish that day, as heartbreaking as it was.

March

At the beginning of the month, 3 weeks after Myrtle Beach, I decided to finish what I started and quietly attempt another marathon. I registered at the last minute, only told a few people, and just went for it. It was amazing! I finally ran my sub-4 marathon! Everything about this race was perfect, and it felt so good to run the race that I knew I had trained for.

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Much to my surprise, we were given even MORE snow days in March! Kevin also hit the 18 month mark this month, and was more fun than ever. His language was starting to really develop and his personality was really coming through.

A rare snow day for all 3 of us!

A rare snow day for all 3 of us!

The marathon at the beginning of the month was the beginning of a few really great race performances for me. Later in the month I ran the Runway Runaway 5K, and got yet another PR of 22:07. I was actually the first place finisher for my age group of 20-29! I couldn’t believe I PRed in two completely different distances, the marathon and the 5K, in the time span of 2 weeks!

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At the end of the month we were able to take a spontaneous trip home to Pennsylvania when rain cancelled our weekend plans. I was so happy to be able to do this, because it had been 2 months since we’d last made the trip, and we weren’t going to be able to go again for another 2 months- WAY too long! It was really nice to relax and hang out with my dad and sister without anything big planned. I love being home in Pennsylvania, it just makes my heart so happy!

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April

I kicked off the month of April with yet ANOTHER PR, this one in the 15K distance at the J. Brian’s Tap Room 15K.  I finished in 1:14:25, which is a 7:59 average pace! Who, me? Running sub-8 minute miles for that long? I felt unstoppable with my running

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A week later I went down to Richmond for my RRCA Running Coach Certification Course. I could not wait to soak in all I could about running and training, and it did not disappoint! It was an awesome weekend and great to spend it with other people who were as passionate as I was about running.

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Right after the coaching course I went into my spring break. It was really nice to get to stay home with little Kev and spend some time with him, after being really busy at school and stressed out for a while. We were even able to get some family photos taken, which really captured his personality at 18 months.

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Finally, in April I traveled up to New Jersey for one of my best friend’s bridal showers and bachelorette parties. It was really fun to have a weekend away with my girlfriends and to let loose a little bit! It had definitely been a while!

May

May was the month of races for me: I ran not 1, not 2, but FOUR races this month! It all started with the Potomac River Run Half Marathon. I had high hopes of finally achieving a PR at this distance, but once again it escaped me for a variety of reasons. I just can’t beat the time I set back in 2011, but I know I will someday!

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After this race I had a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend, where I was spoiled by my boys and felt very appreciated.

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Next up was the Historic Half Marathon, which I had planned to run with my friend Amanda who I had been coaching, to hopefully get her to a PR. I love this race and always have a great experience at all the Marine Corps Marathon races. Amanda blew away her expectations and finished with a huge PR. I was so proud of her!

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After that I ran the Civitans 5K on Memorial Day, which kicked off my 101 day Summer Running Streak until Labor Day. Kevin decided to do the race and the streak with me, which was super exciting because he hadn’t done a race or hadn’t even run regularly in a long time. I did better than I thought I would in this race and somehow finished under 23 minutes, which I was super happy with. Kevin pushed the stroller and kicked butt like always!

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Finally, I ended this amazing month by running the Purple Stride 5K with my sister and a bunch of friends and family, in honor of the 10 year anniversary of my mom passing away from pancreatic cancer. This was truly one of the best experiences ever. It was awesome to see so many people come together for my mom and for everyone who has loved someone who has gone through pancreatic cancer. My sister and I raised money for the cause as well, and ended up raising over $1,000. I ended up running the whole race with her which was a first for us. I know my mom would have been so happy and proud of all of us on that day.

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June

Ahhh, June! The beginning of summer! This was a great month. This was the month I officially started my running group, which was the beginning of something really special!

The first group run with some of the girls!

The first group run with some of the girls!

I was able to celebrate the marriage of one of my best friends Ashley and we traveled to New Jersey so I could be in the wedding. It was a beautiful wedding on the beach, and we had a great time- especially since my sister came down to babysit!

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After Ashley’s wedding summer officially began for me and I was off from school! I could not wait to spend time with my boy at home, especially because he was so much fun and growing up right before my eyes. We kept super busy with playdates, trips to the pool, travel, and daily toddler activities. I wouldn’t have wanted it to be any other way.

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This was also the month that we officially stopped breastfeeding after 21 amazing months.  We went through so many trials and tribulations on our breastfeeding journey and I never in a million years thought we’d even make it to a year. He ended up weaning himself and we were definitely both ready, but it was still pretty emotional for me. My husband took this picture of one of our last nursing sessions before bed, and it will always be special to me ❤

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July

We started this month by taking a mini-vacation to Myrtle Beach to visit my in-laws! We usually spend at least a week down there, but we had a bigger trip across the country planned later that month, so all we could do was a long weekend over the 4th of July. It was so much fun to see Kevin experience the beach again this year and really be able to play in the sand and the ocean. We even got to go on some dates since we had Mamaw & Papaw to babysit, which was so nice.

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While we were there Kevin and I ran a 4th of July 5K. This was the race Kevin had been training for and he claimed I wouldn’t be able to beat him. I haven’t been able to beat him at a race in years, but I did this time! I got ANOTHER 5K PR of 21:55. I never thought I’d see a 5K race time that started with the number 21. I was so happy to have a positive race experience in Myrtle Beach after what had happened in February. Our friends James & Chanda were there too, which made it even more fun.

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In the middle of all of this we started trying for baby #2. It had taken a while, but I was feeling the baby fever itch again starting in late May. It took Kevin a little while longer but this is the month he decided he was also ready. It was exciting and scary to be entering this phase of our lives for the second time, but I felt ready physically and emotionally.

Toward the end of July we packed up and flew across the country to Oregon for my cousin’s wedding and to visit all of our family who lives there. We were there for a little over a week and split our time between Portland and Bend. I love Oregon so much, and it was extra special to be able to go there with my dad and sister and take little Kevin along. The last time we were there I was pregnant, so it had been a while. We had an amazing vacation and made some really great memories that I’ll never forget (and some that I’d like to- like a couple of the very difficult flights we had with our toddler- UGH!). But it was all worth it in the end 🙂

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August

In August I was able to have more fun staying home with Kev and enjoy the summer sunshine! We spent a lot of time with friends and outside. We both loved it and I never wanted summer to end. We also started swim lessons, which were great once he got used to them. He turned into a little fish!

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During this month I took Kevin home to Pennsylvania with me for an extended trip. I stayed at my dad’s house all week and then my husband came that weekend. We were able to catch up with a lot of people I hadn’t seen in a while, and Kevin also had his first amusement park experience at Dutch Wonderland, which was so much fun.

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I was still streaking and running with my group of girls, and together most of us participating in the Hartwood 10 Miler– one of my favorite local races. Once again I went in with no real expectations and surprised myself with yet another PR. I beat my time from last year by 30 seconds!

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The following weekend I spontaneously decided to run the Patrick Henry Half Marathon with two of my running buddies, still riding the high of my awesome race the week before. Conditions were very different for this race and it was not easy, much warmer and more humid, but I was really proud of my strong finish. Even though my time was about 4 minutes slower than my half marathon PR, I was more proud of this race than my PR the week before because I fought harder for it!

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Finally, at the end of the month I started a brand new school year and my 7th year teaching. I was sad to see summer go, but I knew I truly made the most of the time I had.

September

My summer running streak ended on Labor Day, September 1st, after 101 days! I couldn’t believe I had actually run every single day for that long. It was definitely a challenging journey and I was proud of my accomplishment- and Kevin’s too! He did an awesome job!

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A few weeks into the the new school year just as I was getting settled into a routine, I received the news from my principal that I was getting de-staffed (moved to a different school) along with 3 other colleagues. This was due to low enrollment, which in turn = less money. Two classroom teachers and two specialists (me) were destaffed based on seniority. Even though I had been at my school my entire career, 7 years, I was still one of the lowest on the seniority list. I was heartbroken to leave the school and my coworkers that I loved so much.

Dinner with my amazing co-workers before leaving my old school.

Dinner with my amazing co-workers before leaving my old school.

The next morning, we found out we were pregnant after trying for 3 months. What a roller coaster of emotions!

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The same afternoon after finding out we were expecting we headed to the Arlington 9-11 5K, where we ran with our friends as part of Team RWB. It was hot and not easy since Chanda & I pushed the strollers, but I loved knowing I was doing my first race with baby #2 inside!

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The next weekend was Kevin’s 2nd birthday (and my hubby’s 27th!)! We celebrated by taking the day off from work,  going to his 2 year doctor’s appointment, and then headed to Pennsylvania for my 10 year high school reunion and also to celebrate with my family. This is also when we revealed that we were pregnant to my family and friends. They were so excited! While we were home my dad took some photos of us as a family and Kevin at age 2. He’s an awesome photographer and we LOVE having him take our photos!

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We also took this special photo- but we waited a while to share that one!

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The weekend after that we had Kevin’s official birthday party in Virginia. Kevin’s family came to town and we shared the news with them before the party, which was so exciting. His party went awesome and he was so happy. I loved seeing my little boy with all of his friends enjoying his special day.

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Also during his party I found out that one of my best friends (Ashley, whose wedding I was a part of in June!) was also pregnant and due only 3 days after me! I told her that I was pregnant, and she said she was too! It was an amazing moment!

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October

On October 1st I turned the big 2-8. We celebrated by going to dinner with friends at one of my favorite restaurants. Then a couple days later I received the best gift ever the next day by getting to see our baby for the first time!

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That weekend I ran the Wilson Bridge Half Marathon at 8 weeks pregnant. I ended up feeling great and this race quickly became one of my favorites! I finished much more quickly than I thought I would, even with a bathroom stop! Loved it!

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The weekend after that we headed off to Pennsylvania for one of my favorite yearly traditions- French Creekend! Every year my family and friends rent the cabins at French Creek State Park and we spend the weekend together. I look forward to this so much and this year did not disappoint. We now get our own cabin with a few of my friend and it was so much fun.

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We ended the month with Halloween, which is just getting more and more fun as the years pass and Kevin gets older. This year we all dressed up as a superhero family, and went over to James & Chanda’s house to let our kids trick or treat together. Kevin and his little friend Leighton are the CUTEST! I am loving watching them grow up together.

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November

November was a month of many ups and a few downs. It started off with us celebrating our 3 year wedding anniversary. We were married on November 11th, which is Veterans Day, so I had the day off from school. My husband decided to take the day off as well and we had little Kev go to daycare, so we could have a whole day together. We had such a special day full of running (in our Team RWB gear in honor of the veterans- including my hubby!), Starbucks, yummy food, shopping, flu shots, trips down memory lane by visiting where we got married, birth center touring, and some relaxation in there too!

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That weekend we headed to Richmond to support our friends who were running the Richmond 8K, half marathon, and full marathon. I ran the last 8 miles of the marathon with my friend Amanda and it was awesome! I can’t wait to come back and run the half marathon in 2015!

All smiles at mile 21!

All smiles at mile 21!

Unfortunately, a couple days after returning from Richmond we received the sad news that Kevin’s grandfather had passed away. We were planning to go visit him in West Virginia over Thanksgiving, less than two weeks away. We packed our bags, took off from work, and headed there on Thursday morning for a long weekend. We spent the weekend celebrating his life and sharing memories with family.

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We got back into town at the end of the weekend, worked for a few days, and then were off once again for Thanksgiving break. We spent the morning running my first ever Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot with some of our friends. It was a really nice way to kick off the holiday and a tradition I definitely want to continue.

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Right after the race we headed straight up to Pennsylvania to spend the rest of the long weekend with my family. We ordered take-out that night and made our real Thanksgiving dinner the next day. The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing and catching up with family after a whirlwind month. It was perfect!

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December

We started the month of December by getting our christmas tree together as a family and decorating the house. Throughout the month we made sure to do all of our favorite traditions and even a few new ones- going to see Santa at the mall, visiting the Festival of Lights, watching Santa ride through our neighborhood on the fire truck, go on the Santa Train Ride, go to the Marine Corps Base tree lighting with friends, buying gifts and wrapping them together, watching Christmas movies, and so much more! It was a great way to build up the holiday, especially since this is the first year Kevin has been able to get excited about it and understand a little bit.

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I also threw my good friend Cynthia a baby shower to welcome her baby girl who is coming in January! We went to elementary school, middle school, high school, and college together and then both of us moved to Virginia to teach. Now we’re both pregnant together and having babies around the same time. It’s so exciting!

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The day after the shower I ran the Blue & Gray Half Marathon! It was a challenging course but I exceeded my expectations and finished in 2:05! Best of all, I felt amazing! It was a great way to end my racing season in 2014.

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My glorious two week winter break began and we celebrated Christmas first as a little family of 3, and then our extended families came into town afterwards. It was so much fun to see Kevin really experience Christmas for the first time. He loved it!

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While our families were in town for the holiday we did our gender reveal, and found out that we are having another baby BOY! It was so exciting to find out this way, since we waited until birth to find out that Kevin was a boy. I’m glad we now have experienced both! We can’t wait for our baby boy to join our family in May!

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We ended the year with a laid back New Years Eve celebration. We invited two of my friends over who are also pregnant. Cynthia and Laura are both due in January, so we ordered take-out and the three of us hung out and drank yummy mocktails, while our husbands did some beer tasting and the toddlers played. It was a perfect way to ring in the new year!

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2014 was one of my best years yet. It’s been a beautiful ride and I can’t wait to see what’s next for me and my little family!

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HAPPY NEW YEAR! Love to all my friends and family, near and far!

Past “Year in Review” Posts

French Creekend 2014

This past weekend we went away for my favorite fall tradition- some good old fashioned time in the woods at French Creek! For 16 years my family and friends have been coming here over Columbus Day weekend and staying in the cabins. I have so many amazing memories from French Creek, and couldn’t wait to make more! We weren’t able to go the year Kevin was born because he was only 2 weeks old, but we went last year and had a great time. I knew this year would be even more fun and also challenging because he’s mobile now! I was right, but he had a blast!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

French Creek 2013 vs. 2014

French Creek 2013 vs. 2014

French Creekend 2013

Our Summer Vacation to Oregon, Part 2: Bend

The second half of our west coast adventure took place in what is probably my favorite place in America: Bend, Oregon! Here’s how we spent our time there.

Monday, July 21st (continued)

We arrived in Bend around 3 p.m. after our road trip from Portland. My aunt and uncle hadn’t arrived yet, so we parked downtown and walked around for a bit. We ended up at Drake Park by the water where we sat and relaxed while little Kev ran around collecting pinecones.  Once my aunt and uncle got there we all headed to their house where we would be staying. They live on a huge cliff that looks down into the Deschutes River. It is absolutely BEAUTIFUL. I love their house so much!

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Once we got into our rooms and settled me, my husband and my sister all took turns going for short runs. We thought about going together but decided we could all use a little time to ourselves after being all up in each other’s business for the last 5 days. Running in Bend is more challenging than running in Portland because we are at 4,000 feet elevation, but the scenery just can’t be beat! It just doesn’t get more beautiful than this.

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After my 3 mile run and a shower I put little Kev to bed. It was so nice to be able to put him in a separate room and then go do something else while he slept- and not have to worry about whispering! Not possible in a small hotel room! We all ordered pizza and ate it outside on the deck while talking about everything under the sun and drinking wine. Perfection 🙂 After that Lauren and I watched the Bachelorette with more wine. It was so nice to be able to watch it with her, since usually we’re in separate states and texting each other the whole time. I love my sister!

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Tuesday, July 22nd

All night long I heard it raining and it continued into most of the next day… which is weird for Bend! While we were there, Oregon was actually experiencing very bad wild fires due to the dry climate and not enough rain. So the rain was very much welcomed but it made us change our plans a bit. In the morning we went out to the store to pick up some food for the week, and then we hung out and relaxed for a little while. Later on we started to get stir crazy so we went to the Old Mill to do some shopping. Right as we pulled up it started to thunder, lightning and hail like crazy. It was insane! Then all of a sudden it stopped and the sun came out. So crazy. We did some shopping then went back home to get ready for the main event of the day- the Float Run!!! This is reason #273846 why I love Bend. On a random Tuesday night they had this “Float Run” event, where we were going to run from the local running store to the river, floated down it on rafts, then had root beer and Deschutes brewery Black Butte Porter floats. Unfortunately there was still some lightning around that time, so we couldn’t float down the river, but Kevin, my sister and I still did our run and had ice cream floats. It was so much fun!!!

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Wednesday, July 23rd

I had been itching to get out for a longer morning run since we got to Bend, and I was finally able to on this day! It was a beautiful and cool morning, and I ran from my aunt’s house down to the river trail and came back. It was a LOT of uphill on the way back but I felt surprisingly good. I didn’t feel as out of breath due to the altitude as I did on my last few runs. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous. I decided we need to move here ASAP!

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When I got back from my run Kevin and Lauren went out for theirs, then we got ready to embark on the Bend Ale Trail! Another reason why Bend is awesome is that is has a TON of great breweries. The “Ale Trail” is a self-guided tour of all 14 of them (including one in a nearby town). It was another rainy day, so it was a perfect time to go for it.

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The first 5 or so breweries were on the outskirts of the town and the rest were all closer and within walking distance of each other. Since my dad is the best, he drove us around to the ones that weren’t walkable and dealt with our annoying-ness as we progressively became less sober. He also took awesome pictures for us!

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Once he dropped us downtown to explore the others we were definitely feeling good.  We really only shared flights or small tasters at most of the breweries but it did end up being quite a bit more than I am used to drinking these days (I am definitely NOT at Penn State anymore!). It was so fun to try different types of beer, learn about each of the breweries and collect our passport stamps- especially since last time we were in Oregon I was pregnant and couldn’t try anything! We got appetizers along the way and ended up eating a full dinner too at Deschutes Brewery, so that helped keep us going without passing out entirely :).

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While we were Ale-Trailing, little Kev was back at home having a blast with his Oma!

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Once we started to look like this (see below picture), we knew it was time to call it a day. We were so tired! Beer tasting is hard work! We made it to a grand total of 11 breweries in one day. I was very proud.

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Here are the breweries we visited (in order):

  1. Cascade Lakes Brewing Company
  2. GoodLife Brewing
  3. 10 Barrel Brewing Company
  4. Riverbend Brewing
  5. Worthy Brewing
  6. Boneyard Beer
  7. Silver Moon Brewing
  8. Deschutes Brewery
  9. Bend Brewing Company
  10. Brew Werks
  11. McMenamins Old St. Francis School

Whew! And then I promptly fell asleep when we got home 🙂

Thursday, July 24th

After a lot of sleep that night I woke up feeling great. The whole family wanted to walk on the river trail, so my sister, husband and I decided to run and meet them there. It was about 2.5 miles from my aunt and uncle’s house, but I went a little farther to make it 3. After the run we did a 3 mile walking loop on the trail alongside the beautiful Deschutes River. It felt great to do something active with the entire family and to sweat out some alcohol!

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After we got cleaned up we made it our mission to finish the Ale Trail. We had 3 stops left, two in Bend and one in the nearby town of Sisters where my other uncle and cousin live. We did the last two breweries in Bend (Rat Hole Brewing and Crux), then stopped at the Visitor’s Center to collect our prizes!

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We still had one brewery left, but we knew we would never get back to the Visitor’s Center in time after going out to Sisters and back, and we were leaving early the next morning. The nice women who were working there understood and let us get our prizes anyway. We were very excited! We got stickers, silicon cups, bottle openers and t-shirts.

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After that we were off to Sisters! Sisters is a small, ridiculously cute town. It feels like you are stepping back in time when you go there. We went to my uncle’s house first and then walked around downtown, got some coffee and hung out in the backyard of the coffee shop for a while.

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Next we went to visit Mahonia Gardens, which belongs to my cousin Benji and his girlfriend Carys. I was amazed and so proud of all that they have done with their business! Kevin enjoyed some fresh raspberries straight off the bush and was in heaven!

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We started getting hungry so we headed to the last stop on the Ale Trail, Three Creeks Brewing, where we had all had dinner and tried a beer. It made me a little sad because I knew the trip was coming to an end and it would be a while until I saw everyone again. I love my Oregon family!

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Once we were back in Bend we ended our night in my aunt’s hot tub. So amazing to be out on the deck listening to the loud river while relaxing in hot and bubbly water. Aahhhh… I slept so well that night.

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Friday, July 25th

I only had time for a quick run before we left for the airport early that day to go back to Virginia. It was a beautiful, crisp and clear morning- only 44 degrees which actually felt amazing! I ran around my aunt and uncle’s neighborhood and took in one of my favorite views- the river that runs behind their house. I wished I had more time to run on our last day, but we had to leave the house by 8 a.m. and Kevin had to run too!

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We packed the car, said goodbye to my aunt and uncle and made the drive back to Portland to catch our flight. I was nervous about this day because it was going to be longer than our travel day the first time around. We had a 4 hour drive, 2 flights, and an hour long drive back to our house in Virginia.

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Surprisingly, Kevin did AMAZING. I guess he finally got the hang of this traveling thing? We kept him busy with snacks and moving sidewalks, and got lucky with an extra seat on BOTH flights back home (score!!!). He ended up sleeping most of the time. I guess the trip really tired him out.

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We arrived back in Virginia a little after midnight, and after getting baggage, driving back to our brother-in-law’s house where our car was waiting, then driving back to our house which is farther south, it was after 2 a.m. We were greeted by the biggest moth of all time on our door (see below picture, although it doesn’t look that big there! It was HUGE!)

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And then Kevin decided after sleeping all day that he was wide awake and wanted to play until 4 a.m. Fun times 🙂

It really was an amazing trip and the memories we made will always have a special place in my heart. Until next time, Oregon!!!