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?

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 sure...so I looked it up and much to my surprise, I DID PR...by 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! :)

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