Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Group Run or Solo Run?

When I first became a runner (about 10 years ago), I was scared. Scared of running long distances, scared of crowds, scared of running alone, scared of running in groups - the fear of the unknown was real here, y'all! Plus, I'm a huge chicken in general so yea...

In my race planning process though, I knew that I likely wouldn't be able to motivate myself enough to train for my very first half marathon on my own, so I went WAY out of my comfort zone (I mean WAY) and joined a local running group. I still remember those first few group runs - I was too shy to talk to anyone and everyone seemed as if they had already formed their own groups. So, I would show up every Saturday morning, meet up with the large group, then when everyone would break off for their runs, I would run it solo. (I don't want it to sound like I didn't speak to a single person there. My coaches were wonderful and I made "friends" while there, but I just didn't have anyone to run my distances with.)

It took an entire five or six months of this process before I started being invited to run with a group - I finally made real friends there and I'm so very glad I stuck it out. By the next season of our running group, I was no longer a solo runner, but I had my group and it was wonderful! This went on for another 8 years and it was seriously one of my favorite times of my life!

Sadly, our running group disbanded a couple of years ago and although some tried to stick together and run for a while, it definitely began to fizzle out. Sad times.

Now, I have my little running buddy (Brayden) who loves to go for a run with me as well as Orangetheory which is definitely more of that group type setting that I love. As a people person (I'm a nurse and love working with people), I crave that group type atmosphere and I'm so glad that Orangetheory gives that to me.  My oh my what a change from the shy person 10 years ago who didn't want to step foot out of her front door because she was scared!

So, do I consider myself a group runner or a solo runner? Maybe a little of both! :)

What about you? Do you prefer group running or solo running? Today, I'm also linking up with KookyRunner and Zenaida for Tuesday Topics! 

Friday, May 17, 2019

My Experience With the FASTer Way to Fat Loss Program

When I began the FASTer Way to Fat Loss program at the end of January, I knew I would be embarking on a program that would help me lose weight and feel better. What I didn't plan on was all the added benefits and bonuses that would come along the way!

What is the FASTer Way, you might ask? Well, it's a 7 week program (including prep week) where you are connected with a certified coach who assists with your individualized macro goals. The program also includes workouts of varying degrees as well as a daily "fasting" window. The best part about this program is it allows you to eat to your likes and what works best for you. It also allows you to eat carbs and is totally a do-able lifestyle for me.

Wow...does that sound overwhelming and difficult to process? I promise you, it's not. This program does take a little pre-planning, yes - but once week 2 rolled around, it almost came like second nature. Having a coach along every step of the way helped tremendously, too!

My initial program began at the end of January and carried through to the beginning of March. After this program was complete, I re-joined as a returning client for an additional 6-7 weeks which ended in the middle of April.

Within the first 6 week program, I lost 4.5 inches and 10 pounds. I also began sleeping better and noticed better performance times in my running as well as at Orangetheory. We even managed a Disney trip in there where I didn't follow the program at all because our meal plan was set and in place long before I decided to do this program. Please note: I didn't go to Disney World and eat all the cupcakes. I did indulge on a daily basis in a sweet, but I didn't go overboard. :)

My sleep improved tremendously and I also noticed that I had a TON of extra energy!

During the 2nd program as a returning client, I was excited to return and attempt a full cycle that didn't include a vacation. At first, I was a little iffy about the benefits of the returning client round but now that it's complete, I'm definitely glad I did it. Having the option of continuing to work with a coach and really get the basis of the program down did a world of good for me. This won't be the same in every case but for me, I needed that additional time to really cement this lifestyle into my brain. Also, please note - while I did partake in a couple of Faster Way workouts here and there, I mostly stuck to Orangetheory and long runs on the weekends.

It was during this second round where several non-scale victories took place:

I somehow managed 2 PR's in the same weekend in both the 5K and 10K distances. Both PR's were from races before I had Brayden which shocked me completely! I've never run this fast in my life!

My HDL or "good cholesterol" improved and it's been in the "red zone" for at least 2 years now...

This was something  I wasn't counting on and could not have been more shocked when I saw my results!

Marathon Month also took place at Orangetheory in April and I somehow managed to place first in my age group (Half Women's 30-39 in case you can't make out the image above).

Additionally, I was also able to purchase shorts in a size I haven't ever fit in as far as I can remember!

I also lost 4 additional pounds during this round and an additional 7.5 inches.

In total since January, that's 14 pounds down and 12 inches lost! 

If you came here looking for before and afters well, sorry...I don't have those. What I can tell you is that I carry most of my weight around my mid-section (always have) and while that is currently shrinking, it still needs more work.

Will I continue with the FASTer Way on my own? Absolutely. After having completed 2 rounds, I definitely feel as if I have the tools to carry me through and hopefully the amazing results will continue!

Interested in joining in the next round? Well, you're in luck because my friend and coach Jen is starting another round in just a few weeks. If you have any questions at all, please don't hesitate to ask!

Although this post does contain affiliate links, I believe in this program 100% and would tell anyone the same things mentioned above, affiliate or not. :)

Have a fabulous weekend, friends!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

How Running Has Changed Me

This January marks 10 years since I've been a runner. That seems like such a long time but for me, it's gone by in the blink of an eye! This running thing and I have had so many amazing adventures along the way, it's definitely safe to say that it has helped shape and mold who I am today.

Running has helped me better appreciate the simple things

A gorgeous sunrise...a beautiful sunset...I've seen a lot of them thanks to running. Surrounded by nature on a summer afternoon, the sounds of crickets and shoes hitting the pavement...my favorite. Running with my little guy in the stroller in front of me...one of the best things in the world. How about a pain free run? Yep, those are appreciated too. The gift of the ability to run? Yes and yes! From the PR's and small victories to the injuries and low points...all of these moments can been appreciated because of running.

Running helps me clear my mind

If there's a lot going on in my life, I can always tell if going for a run will help "fix" it. I've heard other runners talk about "saving the world" while out for a run and I totally get it - there's just something about a good run where you can think through and sort out your troubles. It almost always seems better in the end. Running definitely helped me deal and cope with the decline in health and loss of my grandfather and I'm so grateful I had running to lean on. (My family, too...but you get what I'm saying.)  

Running has led me to meet some amazing people

My running group members whom I miss dearly - we definitely formed a special bond and I love seeing my friends out and about. A lot have joined Orangetheory, so it's fun running into them there. During the 8 years spent with GoRun, I definitely formed some bonds and friendships that I'll cherish forever!

Above all else, running has taught me patience, helped me grow as a person, and taught me to better appreciate the gift of life itself. I am grateful, so very grateful. 

Today, I'm also linking up with KookyRunner and Zenaida for Tuesday Topics!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Three Things for Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I have several blog posts planned over the next few weeks (including a FASTer Way To Fat Loss update) but for now, here's a few things that have been going on over in our little corner of the world...

#1 Lost SD Card

What the heck? How does one even lose an SD card? Well, I did. I've searched my house high and low and although I know Princess Half Marathon Weekend videos were promised, I sadly no longer have any footage from the Expo or 10K. Sad. Times. I was waiting on putting the footage together, hoping the SD card would magically appear somewhere, but it hasn't. So, footage from the Princess Half Marathon weekend will begin on my YouTube channel, starting after the 10K and the Joyful Miles Meetup and will continue with the Princess Half Marathon itself. Stay tuned for that coming soon!

#2 Alaska

Yes, we are soon to return to Alaska and I'm super excited! Jason's dad expressed his desire to visit Alaska and wanted to plan a family trip, so here we are! Although we will be on Royal Caribbean this time instead of Disney, we are excited to visit once again and see a few new sights. This will also be Brayden's first time on a cruise ship, so we are planning on taking things easy and just enjoying our time. Included in our list of excursions are a musher's camp as well as a whale watching excursion, neither of which we got to experience on our last Alaskan cruise. Brayden should also be fully potty trained by that point (except at night), so he might be able to spend some time in the kids club while on the ship. I know he will love it! If not, we plan to just relax and enjoy our cruise!

#3 Potty Training

Speaking of potty training, y'all...I heard "all the things" about potty training and read up on all the methods...and it seriously continues to amaze me how different every kid is. We spent the majority of our spring break week working on potty training. Brayden is an only child and he's a boy (clearly...hah), so we decided to wait until he actually turned 3 before attempting to potty train. He'd seen the kids in his class use the potty, so I know that was motivation for him, and he literally picked it right up. The first two days took some adjusting, but after a little motivational sticker chart, he had it going on. We pretty much put him in "big boy pants" and skipped the pull-ups all together. My mind is seriously blown at how well he took to it. Parenting can be so hard in general, it's nice when "something" goes your way! With a few random messes here and there, I'd say this kid has it pretty down pat!

So, that's just a little update on our lives over here! I hope you are all doing well! "See" you real soon!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

3 Year Toddler Update

The fastest three years of my life have come and gone! I can't quite believe it, but my little squishy baby is now a 3 year old toddler!

Clothing: 2T and 3T on top and mostly 3T on bottom, although some 2T's still fit. He's just SO tall!
Diapers: Size 5...and not long after he turned 3, we started officially potty training. It's actually going remarkably well (he's wearing "big boy underwear" 90% of the time)...but more on that later!
Shoes: Size 7 and some 8's
Weight: 36 pounds (estimated)
Height: 38 inches (estimated)

Over the past 6 months, I've seen even more growth in Brayden. Where he used to be a little shy and reserved, he's more bold and willing to speak out now. His knowledge base has also grown and he remembers things I can't even fathom...it seriously blows my mind sometimes!

He still wants Madalynn to be his BFF, but she's not too sure of him. They do continue to share their love of food, though. Brayden did hit a "picky" eater phase and the thing I absolutely cannot get him to eat are vegetables. I do try to hide them in dishes which works out well but ya'll, this is seriously one of our biggest struggles. Other than that, some of his favorites include pizza, fruit, tacos, chicken nuggets, french fries, "orange" fries (aka sweet potato fries), chips, grilled cheese sandwiches, cereal, waffles, grilled chicken, spaghetti, and I'm sure I'm forgetting something because this kid does love to eat!

I always wondered if he would get "attached" to an object like a lovely or a stuffed animal and it has officially happened! As an infant and early toddler, he had two wubba-nubs...red dog and a giraffe. Well, after he was too big for the pacifier parts, we cut them out and let him just hang onto the stuffed animals. He would carry them everywhere he went if I let him, but they get lost too easily, so he only has them at night.

Christmas was so magical this year. Seeing the sights and sounds through Brayden's eyes was truly incredible and definitely my favorite Christmas with him thus far.

He loved loved loved the Grinch. That included watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas, meeting Mr. Grinch after our church Christmas production, listening to the music, etc.

Funny (and true) story - he was super hesitant about Santa this year. After I told him that Santa was friends with Mr. Grinch, he had no problem taking a picture with him. Whoops. I mean, it's kinda true...

One of my favorite memories (and will be forever) was how excited he got over the "Grinch cakes" at IHOP. They offered a green Grinch pancake dish this year and Brayden seriously talked about it for weeks!

From then on, every pancake became a "Grinch cake"...silly boy!

Visiting the local park is still a favorite. He loves anything with swings and slides!

Also, ride on toys have become a recent thing around here!  He absolutely loves them!

He also still loves to go on a run with momma. Sprint workouts are his favorite because we get to run fast!

As any normal toddler, temper tantrums are still there. He gets super frustrated if he can't do something himself, but is easily redirect-able in the end. 

At the end of February, we took Brayden on his third trip to Walt Disney World and we had a BLAST! This was by far my favorite trip of them all! He did great on the plane ride there and loved meeting the characters.

I'm seriously awed at the things he still remembers about Disney World. His favorite parts of the trip included the elevators, riding the bus, riding the boat/monorail, and playing with the trash cans. Gross.

However, he still to this day talks about how he saw bunny rabbits and ducks in Disney World, and riding the boats/monorail. His memory blows my mind!

As per tradition, he also had a haircut on our trip and I LOVE it!!

Mickey was a huge hit this time, too!

Some of his favorite shows include the movie Cars, Puppy Dog Pals (still), Mickey and the Roadster Racers, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Lighting McQueen (aka "Bobby Ween") has been the latest favorite over here!  He also still loves YouTube Kids but we definitely limit his time there.

One of Brayden's favorite rides at Disney World was the Carousel. This little dog carousel (as shown above) is the closest I can get to a true carousel at home, so I take him to the mall on the occasion for a ride. So fun!

Brayden loves going to school and playing with his friends! He can also now count to 30, knows his ABC's, has several of the books we read at night memorized, and he knows the lyrics to several songs. He's also memorized several scriptures which makes this momma's heart so happy. The pledge to the American flag is also something he learned which is so cute to hear! Every single day, he amazes me with how quickly he is developing and growing!

I absolutely love seeing his personality come through! He is loves to laugh at himself and will definitely be goofball like Jason, I can see it already!

...and just like that, we have a big three year old!

Happy 3 years, Brayden! I hope the next year is just as much fun as the last!

Thanks for following along in our journey! I so appreciate each and every one of you!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Journey To (2) PRs

The weekend before Easter was a signifiant one in my life. No, I didn't accomplish anything great in terms of the world's standards (like finding a cure for cancer or winning a Nobel Peace Prize), but something seemingly small to others yet incredibly significant to me took place. Somehow, someway, I managed to PR in both the 5K and 10K distance in the same weekend.

Why is this so significant, you might be asking? It is just a couple of PR's after all...

Well, it's significant to me for several reasons (hear me out here).

For starters, these PR's were both at least 4 to 5 years old. Those original PR's were obtained back in 2014 and 2015 when I was at the height of my personal running "career". I'd also managed to break 2 hours in the half marathon during that time frame. 

Then, time simply.....happened. I slacked off from running as much. I got pregnant and had a forced break from running. I had a baby. Childbirth took its toll on my body. I had a newborn. I had post-baby weight. You get the picture.

Something I've never shared here are the struggles I faced post-childbirth. I haven't opened up about  them because I was waiting on the right time to do so and I honestly didn't know how to talk about it. Having these recent PR's is a huge part of the "whole" picture and since this blog is a story of the every day struggles and victories in life, I am sharing it with you today. 

Without going into significant detail (as I'm sure you can put the picture together), things didn't just....well, go back into place like they should have after delivering Brayden. He was born in April of 2016.  By fall of 2016, I knew something wasn't right. I spoke with my OB who confirmed that something was indeed wrong but she reassured me that a LOT of women experience the same issues after childbirth. My problem revolved around the fact that my child was born posterior instead of anterior (meaning he was face up instead of face down). Thanks, son. Little known fact - only 4-10% of babies born vaginally are born posterior! Interesting!

Was there much I could do? Well, yes and no. My options to "help" things along (notice I didn't say "fix") were surgery (no thank you) or physical therapy by a specialist trained in pelvic floor issues. 

Also to complicate things is the fact that I'm a runner. Running puts pressure on the pelvic floor and can worsen the issues I was having if not properly treated. I was instructed specifically to not (ever) lift more than 50 pounds at a time or do crossfit. Period. 

Although the options to help these issues along are there, they are not a permanent fix and this is something I will deal with for the rest of my life. I'm also incredibly thankful that mine is not on the severe end of things!

So, in the spring of 2018, off I went to my second bout of physical therapy (the first being for IT Band issues way back in the day). Why did I wait so long? Honestly, I was scared. What did pelvic floor physical therapy entail? I had no clue and was beyond scared to find out. 

Much to my surprise, I had nothing to be scared of. My physical therapist was incredible, y'all. She seriously made me feel SO comfortable and helped correct the "whole" person, not just my one main issue. She taught me so much about proper form, alignment, breathing techniques, and stretching, all while treating my pelvic floor issues. In total, I spent two and a half months with my physical therapist and I know I made a life long friend because of it! 

Side note: If you ever have to go through pelvic floor physical therapy I'm here to tell you there's nothing to be scared of. After attempting to research online (without any luck because there's VERY little out there) and speaking with several PT friends, I was amazed at how easy it all was. Seriously. 

Around this time, our Orangetheory was about to open and I was super scared for that as well. Should I try it? How about the weight floor and lifting? Would I even be able to do it? Prior to joining, I spoke with several OTF friends who encouraged me to try it out and I'm so glad I did! One of the best parts about Orangetheory is the ability to work at your own pace and use weights to your own specifications aka - I can lift as much or as little as I need! 

Over time, I can tell that my post-childbirth issues have gotten better thanks to the information I learned from PT. This past fall, I saw my OB for my annual checkup and she again confirmed the way I was feeling - things had improved significantly. Her words were had she not known of my "issue" before, she wouldn't have even been able to tell that there was a problem at all!

I definitely call that a win-win for sure! 

Since that appointment, I've been able to dial the intensity up a bit in both running and Orangetheory while still being careful to not overdo it. I've noticed that my speed has also increased with better weight training at Orangetheory and weight loss thanks to the FASTer Way (more on that in another post). 

Prior to running the 5K two weekends ago, I didn't even check my previous PR. I just knew it wasn't a goal I could ever obtain again and honestly, I didn't even realize I achieved a PR until after we were leaving the race venue!

On the morning of the 10K, I did check my previous 10K PR and told Jason in the car that there was no way I could accomplish that one again. 

Imagine my complete and utter surprise that both PR's were obtained in one weekend, the 5K PR by 14 seconds and the 10K PR by 1 minute and 16 seconds! 

It's been a long and tough road getting back to this place again. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Our lives would not be what they are without the peaks and the valleys. Those tough patches we face are what make us stronger and those peaks all the more sweet!

If you've made it all the way through this, thank you for sticking with me. I love the running community and sharing in the struggles and accomplishments this journey can bring!

What's been the biggest struggle you've had to overcome as a runner?

Today, I'm also linking up with KookyRunner and Zenaida for Tuesday Topics!

Monday, April 22, 2019

Easter 2019 Festivities

Easter weekend has come and gone and just like Christmas, I'm sad it's over. Easter is my second favorite holiday (apart from Christmas, of course). I've mentioned in before, but back in 2006, Jason and I were engaged over Easter, married the following Easter, had Brayden around Easter time in 2016, and I just love the overall special time this year brings, not to mention the significance of our risen Savior. The promise of spring, the colors and blooms, new life, new possibilities...it's all just so exciting!

We had so much fun during this Easter holiday and I hope you did as well!

It all began with our church's annual Easter Egg hunt last weekend. We had a "practice" run of hiding eggs in our living room the night before and lemme just say, it was a disaster. Brayden was throwing his basket, throwing the eggs...he just didn't want to "hunt eggs" the way we wanted him to hunt eggs and it was quite comical. I decided that I was just going to let him go to the egg hunt, have fun, and see what happened because...toddlers!

So, imagine my surprise when they called "GO" at the Easter egg hunt and he began running to the eggs and putting them in his basket!

 He racked up with quite a few....then he wanted to eat all of the candy inside, of course!

They also had horses and a train at the egg hunt and Brayden loved them both!

He had a chance to ride the horses twice and the train three times! So much fun!

Over Good Friday and this weekend, we spent a little time dyeing eggs. We had fun choosing colors and placing stickers all over the eggs!

After a birthday party for a nephew on Saturday, we decided to try the Easter bunny at the mall one more time. Remember the Santa incident from Christmas where it took three tries and we finally got a picture? Well, the bunny took two. I didn't warm him up enough on Thursday after picking him up from school and needless to say, he wanted nothing to do with the Easter bunny!

On Saturday though, it all came together and he was totally ok with seeing the Easter Bunny! Toddlers are funny creatures.

We also spent time at my parent's house on Saturday afternoon for a crawfish boil! My dad also set up Brayden's new swing set in the back yard and he had a blast playing on it!

On Easter Sunday, the Easter Bunny visited us and left a fun Easter basket as well as a few "hidden" eggs. Brayden also enjoyed a leftover breakfast of bunny cinnamon rolls!

So yummy!

We attended church on Easter Sunday morning followed by dinner at Jason's Aunt & Uncle's house.

The kids loved having an Easter egg hunt and checking out all of their goodies!

Brayden also had fun playing with his BFF, Brody. He LOVES this dog!

I hope you all had a blessed Easter and enjoyed your weekend! He is risen, risen indeed!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

2019 Strawberry Strut 10K

When registration opened a few months back for this year's Wine & Dine Half Marathon in Walt Disney World, I realized that I did not currently own a "good" proof of time to submit for corral placement. My options were: a 10 mile trail run that I ran while I had the great lung plague, a handful of Rock n Roll races I didn't run to my full potential because I stopped to take pictures along the way, and the Princess Half Marathon weekend races which I definitely didn't run to my full potential! My previous "good" 10K time expired by 2 days for the cutoff for Wine & Dine. Whomp whomp.

This left me in a dilemma.  Should I submit the best proof of time from one those races or try to find a 10K that I could really run and try my hardest to get a better time? Once I decided on the later option, another dilemma arose. Races with mileage higher than a 5K don't really exist in the south past March because it's just getting too hot (they are definitely few and far between).

So, I spent an afternoon searching everywhere between Houston, north Louisiana, New Orleans...anywhere I could find that would work on a weekend when Jason was also off of work. Somehow (miraculously), the stars aligned and that's when I found the Strawberry Strut 10K in Ponchatoula, Louisiana (about 2 1/2 hours from home). I even loved how the timing worked out for this race to be on a Sunday morning, that way we could take Brayden to the church's Easter egg hunt before leaving for Ponchatoula. (More on the Easter egg hunt later.)

A crazy freak storm passed through the night before the race which left the temperatures incredibly chilly on the morning of the race. Guess what? We were NOT prepared!! Luckily, I had a pair of capri tights with me as well as a jacket, but poor Jason didn't have anything. Instead, he decided to wear jeans since he was planning on walking the 5K with Brayden. Whoops.

Our hotel was a short 5 minute drive to the start line, and we arrived in plenty of time to pick up our packets. We weren't sure we would receive official race t-shirts since we registered after the cutoff, but the shirts were in our packets! Yay!

We hung out in the car for a while and as usual, I looked up my previous 10K PR. I'd mentioned in a blog post last fall that I figured that 10K time was "it" for me and I'd never be able to reach that one again. After saying my thoughts out loud, Jason's response was "you never know"! How right he was!

We made our way to the start line, the National Anthem played, and before I knew it, we were off!

I was not sure how I would feel for this race since I pushed myself so hard the previous day. I realized during this race just how much of a difference the weather makes. With this race (as opposed to the day before with warm temps and humidity), I was able to push myself without my lungs burning! I also tried to stick as close to an 8 minute per mile pace as possible. I knew if I could do that, I would PR.

This race was also much easier for me to run when compared to the 5K the day before. It's truly amazing how much of a difference the weather makes!

By mile 4, I knew I needed water. I'd passed all the previous water stops and wanted to make sure I took a cup this time. In my head, I figured out that I was about 3 minutes ahead of my PR, so I decided if I grabbed a cup and walked for 20 seconds or so, I'd be ok.

That water break was just what I needed and I was able to find my groove once again.

As I approached the finish line, I spotted Jason and Brayden. I later learned that they'd taken a wrong turn (where the 10K and the 5K split...whoops) before realizing their mistake and turning around, so they technically did a little more than a 5K! 

Anyway, after crossing the finish line, I officially held a new 10K PR (by a minute and some change) and could NOT believe it! These PR's (from the 5K the day before and this 10K) were pre-baby PR's from 4-5 years ago! I didn't want to pinch myself for fear of waking up from a dream!!

After catching my breath for a second, I turned around and snapped this picture of Jason and Brayden crossing the finish line!

...and there it is! My new 10K PR!

My watch also told me that I ran the 5K portion of this race faster than I ran the 5K the day before! What?! 

Brayden wanted to wear "dad's medal", so of course we let him! I can't wait until he starts earning his own (apart from his few Disney ones)!

The post-race treat was strawberry shortcake and ya'll....it was SO GOOD!

We waited around for a few minutes to catch our breath and enjoy some strawberry shortcake when we heard the awards being called. I knew I had a decent time (for me) but definitely didn't think I placed! It's hard to tell these things when a course doesn't loop on itself, which this one did not.

Much to my surprise (again), I placed 2nd in my age group!! I seriously could not believe it!

What a weekend!

If you're ever thinking about heading over to Ponchatoula to run the Strawberry Strut, you should! They had adequate water stops along the course, the course was nice and flat, the medals and shirts are precious, and the strawberry shortcake after the race was a unique offering and it was delicious, too! After the race, you can head over to the Strawberry Festival and enjoy the rest of your day (like we did)!

Have you ever surprised yourself with a race PR?

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