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' 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?

Monday, April 15, 2019

2019 Warrior 5K

Happy Monday! It's been a LONG time since I blogged on a Monday, but it's a holiday week and I wanted to hit the ground rolling after having an amazing weekend in the world of running!

As I mentioned in my spring race plans post, this past weekend was filled with running adventures. It all began on Saturday with a local 5K at the high school where I graduated, followed by a road trip to Ponchatoula Louisiana for a 10K and the strawberry festival. (More on that in a later post!)

On Saturday morning, the weather was iffy. Lots of rain, wind, tornado warnings, etc. Thankfully, it all held off and our events (the 5K and an Easter egg hunt) were able to go off as planned! This race also wasn't set to start until 9 a.m., which I thought was odd and kind of late for a race, especially one in April in the south. This 5K was the kickoff to an all-day event, so once I saw the schedule, it made more sense as to the timing of it all.

As I mentioned, this race was at the school where I graduated, so it was fun being back and seeing all of the memories and familiar faces. This school is actually preK3-12, so I spent a LOT of years there. When I walked in the front door, I heard my Spanish name "ROSITA" (long story) and my Spanish 2 teacher was there to greet me with a big hug. It was so much fun seeing her again! (Y'all, it's been almost 20 years since I graduated!)

My sweet dad came along as my race support while Jason took Brayden to our church's Easter egg hunt (and I met up with them later).

Being back in the gym where I spent SO much time was so weird!

They even kept our poster with our softball winnings! I was on the 1999 & 2000 teams!

After a little opening ceremony, it was time to begin the race. Thankfully, the race director is a runner and knew we were ready to get going, so we only stayed in the opening cerremonies for a short amount of time.

This race was small and once they called "GO" I quickly realized that I was in the lead. What. The. Heck. I had read about all of the roads to turn on, but wasn't sure I could remember them. Thankfully, the course was well marked and I was able to follow the signs just right!

After finding my groove, I just kept focusing on moving forward. It was warm and humid and I was running fast (for me). My first mile clocked in at a 7:47 and I knew I couldn't keep that up all three miles. I also had a guy on my heels and I didn't want him to pass me. This course was not closed either, so the cars on the road made me a little nervous.

I did grab a cup of water at two of the water stops, but I kept running while drinking the water (which was kind of a mistake). I also kept willing for it to rain so I could cool off a bit! Unfortunately, it never did.

As we passed the 3.1 mile mark, the guy that was behind me passed me (of course) and went on to cross the finish line just a few steps ahead of me.

After he turned around, I realized who he was and made a joke about it. I work with his dad! Small world, huh?

I seriously gave this race all I had. My lungs were burning and I just couldn't go anymore. Even though I didn't cross in first, I still placed as first female and received a certificate towards a pair of shoes from our local running store! (This was our 2nd annual Warrior 5K and I also placed as first female last year!)

After grabbing a bottle of water and saying goodbye to everyone, my dad and I set out for our church and the Easter egg hunt.

On the way there, I was talking about my PR and mentioned that I didn't come anywhere close to it, even though I felt like I was running fast (for me). My dad asked if I was I looked it up and much to my surprise, I DID 14 second with an average pace of 8:02 per mile!

I could not believe it! Having a PR at a race held by my school is extra special to me, so this one means just that much more, especially since my previous PR was from 2015 (and pre-baby)!

It was a great start to the weekend and I couldn't wait to see what the rest of it had in store (more great running things to come so stay tuned)!

Have you ever had that nostalgic return-to-your-high-school kind of feeling?

Friday, April 12, 2019

Winnie the Pooh 3rd Birthday Party

Three years have come and gone in just the blink of an eye! It seems like I just finished planning Brayden's Puppy Dog Pals themed 2nd birthday party when it was already time to begin thinking about his third!

I've always loved Winnie the Pooh. If you asked me back in high school, I would have told you that Eeyore was my favorite Disney character. My husband also grew up loving Pooh (and his Pooh bear even made an appearance at Brayden's party so stay tuned)! When Brayden was born, I knew I wanted to introduce him to the wonderful world of the Hundred Acre Wood and so I did! Every night before bed, he even wants me to "sing Winnie Pooh" meaning the Hundred Acre Wood song. As his third birthday approached, I decided it was now or never for a Pooh themed party, so here it is!

This post is long, but it's meant for anyone who is searching for ideas to throw a Winnie the Pooh themed party.  Blog posts like this really helped me with planning Brayden's party, so I hope this one helps some of you as well! :)

The theming for this party was not focused on classic or vintage Winnie the Pooh, but just Winnie the Pooh in general. I also added in lots of carrots and bees throughout the party! The colors I worked with were forest green, yellow, brown, and red.

At the front door, guests were greeted with a "Welcome to the Hundred Acre Wood" sign. I found the pallet style wood piece at Walmart and glued dowel rods on the back with wood glue. I also painted the sign, then used my silhouette to make a stencil for the lettering. After the initial round of paint dried, I then used the stenciling to paint in the darker brown letters. On the day of the party, I tied a yellow and a red balloon to the sign and voila!  This added such a cute feature to the party!

Our dining room table was also decked out for the party. This table is located very close to the front door, so it was one of the first things guests saw when entering the room. Here, you can see where I used some of the carrot/bee elements I mentioned earlier, as well as a good bit of the color scheme.

For this makeshift bee hive/bee tree, I purchased a green floral cone and painted it yellow. On the morning of the party, I used toothpicks and donut holes to fill it up. I read somewhere on Pinterest that this would only require "maybe" three dozen donut holes and let me tell you - that's a lie! This one in particular took 8 1/2 dozen donut holes and three trips to the donut shop to complete (we bought 9 dozen donut holes in total). Prior to this, I also cut a good bit of cone off the top to make it a little shorter. So, don't believe everything you read online! :)

These adorable cookies were made by a friend of mine. Aren't they precious?

One of my favorite parts of the party was his cake! The lady that made this cake also made the cake for the baby shower, his first, and second birthday parties as well! They taste so good and she does a great job! This time around, I basically asked her for a cake with a "stump", green grass, and flowers. I added the rest of the items on top. She did exactly what I asked and the cake turned out exactly like I was hoping it would!

At the fireplace, I included a Happy 3rd Birthday, Brayden banner that I created using the Silhouette cameo and card stock. On the mantel itself were all four of the Christopher Robin 8" characters that were purchased from Amazon as well as a couple of photo frames with pictures from his 3 year old photo session. These are the same frames I've used from his parties every year, I just keep painting them to match the theme!

At the entry way table were a few additional photo frames, a map of the hundred acre wood, a clay planter made to look like a hunny pot, Jason's Pooh bear from when he was a baby, and a "see how I've grown" photo that was purchased from an Etsy shop.

These clay planters made to look like hunny pots were SO easy, I couldn't believe it myself! You basically take a bottle of yellow paint and squeeze it all the way around the rim, let the paint drip and dry, paint the word "Hunny" on the pot, and voila! I wasn't quite sure what to put in them once I was done, but I saw some online filled with yellow flowers, so that's what I went with!

The sign inside of the pot was purchased on clearance at Hobby Lobby. I basically took landmarks from the map of the hundred acre wood and used the same technique to paint this one as the Hundred Acre Wood sign from the front porch.

At the drink table, we had an option of water, red juice, or sweet tea. You can also see here how the yellow lantern was made to look like a bee hive, which made an adorable touch!

Another favorite party element of mine was the food spread. I had so much fun planning and creating these - it really was great to see it all come together!

As you can see here, I also created a few smaller "honey pots" from the clay planters. They were used for forks, straws, and one even held a bundle of carrots. The carrots you see here were purchased from Target in the dollar section!

To the right, you'll notice a "carrot patch" complete with "dirt". These were made out of strawberries with orange dipping candy and the the dirt was made out of the chocolate cookie part of the oreo that was pulverized in the food processor!

Also shown here are "piglets in a blanket" which were all gone before I knew it! Sorry, Piglet...

Here, you see "tigger tails" which were basically large pretzel sticks dipped in orange melting candy and drizzled with chocolate.

Also, I made my own "pooh chips" out of flour tortillas. The idea I read about online said to cut the pooh chips out with scissors but uhhhh...I ordered a pooh shaped cookie cutter from ebay instead. (Which I highly recommend because seriously, who has time for that?) These were so cute and definitely a huge hit!

Rabbit's vegetable garden was another favorite party element of mine! I found this adorable white picket fence at Hobby Lobby in the little fairy garden section and it wrapped around my tray perfectly!

We also included a few extra "fun" food elements to the party. Here, you'll see "haycorns" which were basically little bite sized nutter butters with a hershey kiss attached. Also shown here is a honeycomb snack mix made with honeycomb cereal, M&M's (red, yellow, and brown), and teddy graham cookies (with a drizzle of red to make them look like pooh's shirt). After mixing the ingredients together, they were all laid out on parchment paper and drizzled with red melting candy!

For "real" food, we had pulled pork (which my husband tried to call "shredded piglet"...again, sorry Piglet) and meatballs that were labeled "Kanga Kabobs".

The tassel banner you see throughout was made by using a tutorial from YouTube. These were SO time consuming which I didn't expect! I'll definitely look into purchasing these next time around.

With this being a morning party, we also had a fully stocked coffee bar for our guests! :)

On the deck outside, I also placed some balloons as well as a happy birthday banner for a litle festive touch. This party was intended to be a "water" party and although the weather wasn't perfect, it all still went as planned and Brayden had a blast!

Brayden's great grandmother is so creative with her ideas and this is what she put on his present with the bow! Isn't it precious?!

We started the party off by singing happy birthday to the birthday boy and opening presents because I knew once he got outside in the water, he wouldn't want to come back inside again!

I included the photo of him opening the present so you can see the adorable Pooh birthday shirt a friend of mine made!

For the swimming portion of his party, we changed him into his Pooh swim trunks which I miraculously found on Ebay a few weeks before the party. I randomly came across them one day and knew we had to have them for his party!

As far as favor bags go, I created these "Hunny" ones out of red gift bags from target and yellow vinyl which was cut from the Silhouette. Inside the bags were Pooh coloring books and crayon sets from Amazon, carrot candy from Target, Bit-O-Honey candy and gummy bears (also from Target), red bubbles from Walmart, and Pooh stickers from Etsy.

 In all, Brayden had a fabulous time at his party and we loved celebrating the birthday boy with our family and friends!

I hope this helped you and gave some ideas if you are in the process of planning a Pooh party for your little one! If you'd like to see a video recap of the party (as well as video footage of the party details), check out the video below!

Thanks for joining us! We will see you next year! :)

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Playing Catch-Up

Hi everyone! Over the past month or so, it's been super quiet here around the blog. This was not intentional and just happened because of...well, life. Brayden has gotten so active and it's hard to focus time and attention on writing a blog post instead of paying attention to him. Working full time doesn't allow for much extra time at home, so I love to soak it up when I can.

Added projects on top of my at-home time (like birthday party planning) leaves for even less blog time and although it makes me sad, I know the blog will always be here to pick back up where I left off.

So, I'm writing this to say that I'm behind on several posts, but those are definitely coming. I finally finished the vlogs from our last Disney Cruise Line vacation last night, which now means that Princess Half Marathon vlogs are coming, along with vlog footage I took of the remainder of our time in Walt Disney World!

Also to come on the blog are spring race recaps, posts from our recent WDW trip, Brayden's birthday party recap/video, and a three year update on Brayden! In the mean time, you can definitely find me hanging out on Instagram!

Thank you for being patient and sticking with me throughout this time! I know these days with Brayden as a little guy are short and numbered and I want to soak them up as best as I can. I wish I could add more hours in a day, but I know that would only leave me wishing for more hours in a day! :)

Have a happy Wednesday! :)

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Spring Race Plans

Spring has arrived in the south (well on most days) and with that means perfect weather. Even if it's only around for a little while before the summer heat hits, I'll take it! There's just something about spring that I love...the colors, the weather, the fresh and newness of it's seriously one of the best times of year! (Minus Christmas, of course.)

In the spring, races are usually in abundance around here and they taper off as soon as summer hits due to the ridiculous heat, so you gotta catch them while you can. For this spring, I've found several races I plan on running, so here's a rundown of them all!

#1 St. Patrick's Day 3 Miler

Yes, this race already took place but I'm posting it for two reasons - number 1, I need to write my recap like ASAP and number 2, it's the first race in our local "Triple Crown" series and I'm going for it again this year! (The last time I completed this series was in 2015.)

#2 HCS Warriors 5K

Last year, I ran this "first annual race" and as an alumni of the school, I placed as first female. Yes, the race was small and placing in it was totally random, but I was beyond shocked and excited! This is a race I'll continue running in the future because even though I've been gone for a while, I still love to support the school as I attended there most of my life! (It's a K-12th grade school.)

#3 Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival 10K

This one is incredibly random and 100% new to me as it's in a town about 3 hours away. It also happens to be the day after the Warrior 5K...whoops. In my fervent search for a "local" 10K to use as proof of time for Wine & Dine, I stumbled across this race. It's the only race in reasonable driving distance that is hosting a 10K before the cutoff time for proof of time submissions. I would have run a 10K last fall, but that's when I came down with the great lung plague, so yea...that went right out the window. I'm really looking forward to this one as it's completely new to me and I can't wait! Jason's also going to do the 5K with Brayden!

#4 Contraband Days 5 Miler

Although this race is taking place the day after Relay for Life again this year, I'm still looking forward to running it as part 2 of the Triple Crown series! Yes, my legs are probably going to feel like lead and I'll definitely be sleep deprived, but I think I'll make it! Although it's always hot (this race is held in May) this race is for sure a local favorite!

#5 4th of July 4 Miler

Yes, this race falls in the summer time, but it's also part 3 and the final race in the Triple Crown series. I love running this race and enjoy seeing the local running crowd that comes out for it!

That should be it for now, unless another random race pops up into there (which is completely possible)!

Do you have any fun spring time races planned? Please share! I want to hear all about them!

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