halfway to half-crazy (half marathon training update)

Someone’s always talking about some new life-changing diet or health fad that will improve your life by 1000% and make all your dreams come true… but you don’t need any of that stuff, trust me. I’ve discovered the real secret to success:

Want to test your willpower? Make your ab muscles sore without doing any crunches? End up with a smokin’-hot farmer’s tan? Sleep better at night? Have a good reason for healthy snacking? Beef up your calves so that it’s hard to get your skinny jeans over them? Have an excuse to go (running) shoe shopping?

Train for a half marathon!

I’ve got just under one month to go until my first-ever half marathon, and overall, I’m still feeling pumped up and excited for race day. After nearly 8.5 years of running, it’s been really fun to follow an official training plan and challenge myself in a different way each day. I know I’ll never be the fastest (and speed intervals completely crush me sometimes), but I’m having a good time trying new things.

I discovered that the amount of sleep I get makes a huge difference in my pace and how I feel during a run. Sometimes, when the baby is up in the middle of the night or it’s been an insanely busy week, I question why I ever thought doing this was a good idea, because being a parent just makes you so tired. But slow miles are better than no miles, even on little sleep.

And I can’t help but feel accomplished when I get out there and get it done, despite the wind or rain. If I even come close to finishing in two hours on race day, I will be ecstatic.Thankfully, my sister-in-law Lelia has already done this a few times, and she’s been able to give me some great advice along the way, including coming up with healthy post-run snacks, since I’m a pretty picky eater. Kind bars, string cheese, and almonds have all been my favorites after finishing a long run.

Once I hit about 6 miles or so, I usually start to feel like I could just keep on running forever (although once I finally stop, my legs are always a little achey, reminding me that running indefinitely isn’t an option quite yet). I’ve actually been surprised to find that my sorest muscles after a long run are my abs, which I usually notice when I wake up and try to roll out of bed the next morning.

I invested in a second pair of running shoes (Saucony Kinvara 7) after reading this study, which found that runners who don’t always use the same model of shoes have a 39% lower risk of injury. Plus, how can you go wrong with all this neon?

Here’s to a few more weeks of long runs before RACE DAY! 🙂

tour de cure (2017)

At the end of April, Michael completed his seventh Tour de Cure bike race! I almost can’t believe he’s been doing this for so long already, but I’m still just as proud of him as ever for helping to raise money for diabetes research.

This year, he did the 65-mile loop, and he got to ride along with Lelia’s mom, Mary!The girls and I ended up staying home again this year (I think we’ve only actually been to two of these races in the past five years, so we don’t really have the best track record)… I always want to go and be there to support him, but it is a long car ride for the kids, who were already unhappy about taking another “big” trip when we originally told them about it. We decided it would be so much easier for Michael to go on his own- he could drive there faster without having to make so many stops, and he’d be able to get a little more sleep the night before the race without having kids there to wake him up. We definitely missed him though.
Thankfully, he took pictures along the way for me!It was a super hot day (probably the warmest of 2017 thus far)! Michael wasn’t able to get much training done before this year’s race (he did only two rides in the weeks leading up to it), so I was a little worried about him in the heat. Thankfully, they have aid stations all along the way, and he was just fine.
He caught up with his mom just before the finish line! This year had the most participants from our family! Lelia’s mom posted this picture on Facebook and I had to share it here too. Michael, his Aunt Liesl, Grandma Gina, and Mary are all hardcore! While Daddy was gone, we enjoyed the warm weather by taking the kiddie pool out for the first time this season! (But seriously, when did Kaya’s legs get so long?!) She loves splashing down into the water, but hates getting any of it on her face. It makes for an interesting experience!Kaelyn didn’t like sliding, so she just played in the pool.

Michael came home late on Saturday night, so everyone was very happy to see him when they woke up on Sunday!

monument avenue 10k race recap (2017)

This was my second year running the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k, and I had even more fun this year than last!

I convinced Karl to do this as his very first race, and I was so excited to be able to start together! Any reason to see my brother is a good one, especially now that he lives several hours away from us. Credit goes to my dad, who came to cheer us on, for these first couple of photos!
Karl and I started at the same time, but we didn’t stick together- I told him I’d see him at the finish line, and I took off! I started a little fast, but I decided to keep it up for as long as I could (and pass up some of the slower groups).Apparently, I also do really weird things with my fingers while I’m running…I took the first half a little too fast, and I really started to feel it around mile 3.5 or so. I slowed down, but still tried to stay within my goal pace of 9:00 min/mile. At the finish, I clocked in at 53:34, which was an average of 8:37 min/mile. While training here in the mountains, my best 6-miler averaged out to 9:14 min/mile, so shaving off that much time made me ecstatic!Last year, I was so nervous for this race, because I was in my first trimester of pregnancy, and dealing with a lot of nausea and fatigue. My only goals last year were to finish and keep the baby safe. This year, all I could think about was seeing my family and holding my sweet little Nella at the finish line. It’s amazing how much can change in just one year. Photo-bomb courtesy of Karl!Jeff and Lelia ran too, and we met up with them afterward! Lelia gets some serious credit for doing this at 30 weeks pregnant. Mom and Dad Irwin also came to see us finish, but they had to leave shortly after.
Of course, there had to be donuts afterward, so we picked some up and hung out at Jeff and Lelia’s place for a little while. These were delicious, but I’ve realized that almost anything tastes amazing after a run.Here’s to another race down, and more to come- I’ve got the fever now!

tour de cure 2016 weekend

Michael completed his fifth Tour De Cure (Race for Diabetes) on April 30th! He chose to do the 65-miler this time (you know, only 65 miles instead of 100 like last year… to me, either is a huge feat)! He honestly didn’t have a whole lot of time to train for the race this year due to his schedule, so the shorter ride ended up being perfect for him.

He found a great group to ride with along the way.26778061266_42d0a271bd_o (1)

My awesome mom-in-law raced again this year too! She did 25 miles!Michael’s total time was 3 hours, 53 mins, 23 seconds for 65.44 miles. That’s an average of 16.85 mph!

Once again, I wasn’t at the race this year. It just seems like we always have some other life event going on right around the same time as the race… this year we were preparing to MOVE, so there was plenty to get done! Also, taking the kids in the car for 10 hours within a 24-hour period never really seems appealing._MG_1689We did a lot of packing while Daddy was gone, and also hurried to shampoo the carpets at the new house before he had to leave with the car. I surprised the girls with some new Duplo blocks while I cleaned, and surprisingly, those kept them entertained for most of the 4 hours we were there._MG_1676We were so happy to have Michael home again on Saturday night! Even when he isn’t gone for long, it’s always a relief and a joy to have him back with us.

monument avenue 10k race recap

After being a runner for just over 7 years, I finally completed my first race! I probably never would have done it if Jeff and Lelia hadn’t signed me up, and although I will admit to being very nervous in the days leading up to it, I’m glad they encouraged me to do something new.

I was worried about the weather (it was projected to be freezing with some serious wind gusts), running around so many people (I always run alone!), and just coming out of it with a pace that I wouldn’t feel embarrassed about. Thankfully, mother nature surprised us all with much warmer temperatures than we were expecting, and all those other worries ended up not mattering at all.

Also, I apparently look very serious when I’m running.
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Since this was my first time, everything was new and amazing to me- all the people holding hilarious signs (my favorite was a lady with her dog: “Keep running, the dog farted!”), some people’s costumes (one person was wearing a full-on unicorn suit), the live bands, and just the surge of collective energy between all the runners.

Michael kept these super-cute kids entertained just a few tenths of a mile before the finish line while they waited for me. He snapped some photos, and they’re just too cute to not include, so…

Apparently Kaelyn was keeping my gloves warm for me!

Jeff, Lelia, and I all finished within a few minutes of each other. I think we were all freezing as soon as we stopped running!

I think Lelia summed up the day best when she posted this picture below on Facebook, so I’ll quote her here: “I cannot begin to express the love and pride going on in this picture. We’re one hardcore family!”

She gave me the best pep talk just minutes before the race. It was so heartfelt and motivating that I replayed the words several times in my mind as I was running… and I might have been tearing up a bit, too. I also started to tear up anytime I saw little kids holding stuffed animals on the sidelines, waiting to see their moms run by. Oh, motherhood-induced emotions.IMG_20160409_103042Here’s my official race time! I felt really great about how I did.monument10kclock My official pace was 9:12 min/mile, and my GPS watch said my splits were as follows:monument10ksplitsOf course, after running a few miles, you need to replenish your energy with donuts, right? Jeff and Lelia took us to a little donut place in Richmond called Sugar Shack, and it was amazing. That one on the bottom left is covered in KitKat pieces!

We spent some time relaxing with Jeff and Lelia at their apartment before heading back to my parents’ house for the rest of the day. My girls loved playing with their puppy, Fallon, and actually ended up tiring her out pretty well.

I’m so glad I was able to have this experience with some of my amazing family members. If you’ve never run a race… try it! I’m not sure when my next one will be, but this most likely won’t be my last.

130 miles for diabetes

Michael completed yet another bike race this past weekend! It was his fifth Tour de Cure race and third 100-mile race, and although he had to cope with the worst weather yet, he did it! It was a bleak, rainy day, and he was pretty wet and cold by the end of it.Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset The best part about this year? His mom joined him for the 30-mile route! They both did so great! Total, they raised $2400 for the American Diabetes Association.Processed with VSCOcam with c3 preset We ended up staying back home instead of traveling to the race with Michael. I was sad not to be there to see him cross the finish line, but after seeing how bad the weather was, it was probably better that we didn’t go.

With staying inside because of the rain and Michael having the car, we did our best to get crazy indoors. I made Kaya’s first-ever braid! I know it’s totally tiny and imperfect… but hey, she had enough hair to do it! I was excited and she loved it.
_MG_7274 We painted a lot of pictures. And Kaya painted over my pictures (please notice how she turned Kaelyn into just a blotted-out blob…)Processed with VSCOcam with a7 preset  Michael got home super late on Saturday night (it was technically almost Sunday)! Both girls were so happy to wake up and see Daddy for the first time in two days!_MG_7289

I love these two little rascals, and we really had the best time we could have had at home without Daddy, but I will say- parenting by myself for a couple days with zero help totally wore me out! I have so much respect for moms who don’t regularly have their husbands home to help with baths and bedtime. Even just a couple hours with him home makes a big difference! 🙂_MG_7284

bike rides and sunshine

Michael drove down to Charlotte, NC this weekend to complete yet another Tour de Cure bike race! He took his friend Marwan with him, and they met up with another random guy to make their own little riding team. They finished 65 miles, although Michael said the route was a little more hilly than he was expecting it to be.Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

Chester the Cheetah was there before the race, so naturally, Michael asked for a picture with him.Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

Kaya and I stayed home (since traveling at 35 weeks pregnant might not be the best idea) and tried to entertain ourselves. How could I ever be bored with such a cute and funny sidekick?PhotoGrid_1401556126166

We finished a 4-mile walk (Kaya probably slept for about 2 miles of it, which is totally crazy considering how bumpy the walking path is)! After a real nap, we headed to the pool, although Kaya didn’t want much to do with the water at all.Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetShe enjoyed her snacks in the shade, and I actually got to relax and read a magazine for a little while! Sitting out in the sunshine reminds me how much I love summer days.

Daddy was home in time for dinner, and we enjoyed a (much-needed) restful Sunday.

Happy Monday! 🙂