Thursday, November 26, 2015


In today's fast paced world, it is easy to get caught up in the stress of everyday life or the pressure of the holidays and forget how much we really have. Taking time to be thankful for the little (and the big) things offers perspective. So today I pause and take a few minutes to think about the things I am thankful for.

I am thankful I have a healthy and happy child who makes me smile and laugh on a daily basis. 

I am thankful I have food in the table and a roof over my head.

I am thankful my family members are healthy and that those we have lost are at peace in heaven.

I am thankful for a career and position that allows for balancing of family and professional opportunities.

I am thankful for my health and that I am able to run and be active.

I am thankful I have the freedom to share my thoughts and words.

I am thankful for year round sunshine and warm weather.

I am thankful for the opportunities I am offered.

I am thankful for all the people I have in my life. 

Last spring I attended a personal development session focused on gratitude and the benefits of regularly practicing gratitude. Since then I have worked to focus on the things I am grateful for on a daily basis. Shifting my focus to this positive emotion has helped to give perspective in a often crazy world. Remember that tomorrows are not guaranteed and it is important to realize all you have today.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Great Gifts for Runners

Tis the season for giving. Christmas is my favorite holiday and finding and giving the perfect gift is my favorite part. In any given year I normally have one or two gifts that are real hits, and the rest are enjoyable, but not super exciting. This year I wanted to help out those looking for gifts with some of my favorite gifts for runners. (A few of these may be on my wish list this year too.)


Regular or compression, I can always use another pair of running socks and they seem to be one of those things I never get around to purchasing for myself. Balega are my favorites for running and I love these compression ones for long runs and recovery. In our house Santa brings socks and these would be a great stocking stuffer.


Running does a number on my feet and few things feel better than a pedicure after several months of training. I know I can paint my toes myself, but sometimes it feels good to be pampered.

Nice Yoga Mat 

I didn't realize how much of a difference your mat makes until I got a nice Lululemon one for Christmas last year. As much as the frugal part of me doesn't want to admit it, there is a huge difference between the $20 mat and the $70 mat. Yoga is a key part of my running routine.

Fitbit Charge HR

Since I have been sidelined from running for a bit, I would love to have more feedback on my workouts and overall activity levels. While there are still some issues with the accuracy of the step information, the heartrate part has been pretty well reviewed. (I may be giving this to myself before Christmas.)

Gym Bag

I am still carrying around the gym bag I used in grad school 10 years ago. It has stood up really well, but there are so many cool ones on the market now. I would love something with a separate spot for shoes and maybe a waterproof pocket or place for a yoga mat. 

Foam Roller

If your runner don't have one, this is a great gift. Foam rolling is one of those things I have a love/hate relationship. It hurts so good and has been a great addition to my training.


This is the ultimate present for a runner. A good massage can loosen tight muscles and help with the soreness most of us walk around with. Finding a good place close to your area is key for this one.

Hair ties, headbands and your runners favorite fuel (I like Honey Stingers) are also great stocking stuffers.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

House to Home - Picking Paing Colors

When we moved into our house a little over two years ago, we were super excited that the house was a blank slate. Looking back, it was too much of a blank slate. I had an idea of the look I was going for, but once we got into the process, it was so much harder than I realized.

As soon as we signed the contract on our house, I was on Pinterest trying to figure out what I wanted the house to look like. Then E came along and my days of lazily looking at decor were long gone. That first year was a blur and we didn't do anything with the house. It kind of looked like college kids had moved in and were playing house.

This summer we knew we had to get serious about getting the house together. We found a painter and then it was time to pick colors. No problem right....not so much.

I wanted the main neutral color for the house to be grey. I am a big fan of the style they use over at Young House Love and wanted to bring some of that into our house. After looking, I will tell you that there are way more than 50 shades of grey and finding the right one is really hard.

So many colors
Our painter used Sherwin-Williams paint, so I was trying to find a SW grey. We started with 5 and within seconds of putting them on the wall, I knew that none of them was the one. After some doing some digging because of webite issues, I got my hands on the grey I had originally seen...Benjamin Moore Moonshine. This color is crazy amazing because of how much it changes in the light. Walking out of the store, there was no way this color was going to work, but once I got a sample and got it on our wall, it was perfect.


More samples
The rest of the house took a little less work. It only took 3 samples to find the right blue for the kitchen. I would call that a win after the 7 it took to find the grey. After a brief plan to paint the master bedroom purple (which I had a bit of a nervous breakdown about), we ended up with a soothing aqua. The spare bath is a deep blue, the office a pretty grey/green/blue and a grey/brown for our bathroom. I have to say that I love them all, which I never thought I would say.
The prefect grey

Grey with some blue accent

It is amazing the difference a little paint can make. It is also nice to be able to get crayon off the wall without taking all the paint along with it. Go for not builder grade white paint. After all this, here are my tips for picking the perfect paint color.
  • Give yourself time. The process took way longer than I thought it would.
  • Get samples. Spend the $7 each to make sure you have the right color. (If anyone needs paint samples, I have several boxes in the garage.)
  • Go with your gut. The grey color I first saw is the one that ended up being perfect. I would have saved myself several paint samples if I had tracked it down from the beginning. 
The house is back together and now it is time to get some things on the walls. Back to Pinterest.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Adventures in Parenting - Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

We started Halloween a little early this year with a trip to Mickey's Not so Scary Halloween Party. Since life is always a little crazy in our house, Tuesday, October 27, was the only date that worked for us. As you could probably guess, the party was sold out. 

I was a little hesitant about the party because it started at 7 p.m. at E is normally in bed by 8 p.m. but, Grandma wanted to take her and what Grandma wants Grandma gets. Spoiler alert...we ended up having a ton of fun.

Living in Orlando and being an annual passholder was a big benefit for this event. A month out from the party, I got a couple of late afternoon Fast Passes. You can't get passes for the party, but you can get them for before 7 p.m. 

We got to the park about 3:30 p.m. Unfortunately it was raining the day we went. It was never a downpoor, but just enough drizzle to be annoying at points. I wasn't sure if E would fit in her stroller in costume, so we changed her after we got to the park.

Look Daddy!

After getting E dressed in her costume, we headed to the hub area to take some photos. It was nice to get some pictures of E with decent light and not a ton of people around.
My princess

So much attitude

Then we headed back to Fantasyland and hit one of E's favorite rides—the carousel.

Then it was time to visit Cinderella. Fast Pass made a huge difference here. When we got there, the standby time was 70 minutes, but since we had fastpasses, we only had to wait a couple of minutes for E to meet her princess.

Someone got a kiss from a princess

We killed some time riding another of E's favorites—Small World and then it was time for dinner. My advice is if you are going with a little one, doing dinner early really helps with the party experience. Anyone with a toddler knows that they are much happier with a full belly. We ate about 5:30 and hit the window between the day guests leaving and the party guests not eating yet.

After dinner we took a spin on Buzz Lightyear and then headed to find a spot for the Hocus Pocus Show and Parade. Since the adult/kid ratio in our party was 3 to 1, we left Daddy to hold territory while Grandma and I took E trick-or-treating. The stations opened at 7 p.m. and E got through 5 or 6 before we headed back for the show. (She loved the trick-or-treating. Once she realized that people give you candy, she was super excited.)

About 7:45 p.m. we headed back to the castle stage. Unfortunately, it was raining just hard enough that the show didn't run. If the one song we saw was any indication, the show would have been pretty amazing.

Shortly after the show, it was parade time. I let E have a couple of her "trick-or-treats" while we were waiting and she enjoyed that. E was a little uneasy with the parts of the parade, but once it was over, she couldn't stop talking about it.

We asked E what she wanted to do after the parade and she said she wanted to trick-or-treat. We set her in the stroller and headed over to the next trick-or-treat station. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, my princess had fallen asleep with her glow wand in hand. I tried to see if she wanted to do more, but she was out, so we headed out of the park. It was a great night and I can't wait to go next year.

(The rain made taking photos after dark pretty much impossible.)  

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Post Cocoa Beach Half Marathon Plans

For the first time in a long time, I don't have a single race on my calendar. Training for the Cocoa Beach Half was pretty tough and I didn't want to make anything official until the race was over. I was eyeing the 20k medal for Run Nona, but that will not be mine (this year at least).

For once in my life, my lack of planning is good. So that foot pain I had during the Cocoa Beach Half...I had my foot looked at earlier in the week and the doctor thinks it is a stress fracture. That means no running for 4 to 6 weeks but I can do just about anything else as long as it is low impact and doesn't cause pain. 

I gave myself this week off after the race. (Now this week "off" includes two visits to Disney, chasing a toddler and trick-or treat, but it is still a week off.) I don't remember the last time I did that, so it is nice to have a little scheduling freedom. That said, I am getting very very antsy. (Exercise is my therapy.)

While I am disappointed about not running, this does give me the opportunity to change up my routine a little bit. This training cycle I have been better about strength and flexibility, but I am still not great. I am a cardio junkie, so it is hard to give that up. (It makes no sense, but I would rather run for 3 hours than spend 30 minutes in the weight room.)

Now is the time to suck it up and really start strength training. I am still not sure what plan I am going to use, but I am looking for something that has me lifting 2 or 3 days a week. Hopefully, I can turn some of that strength into speed when I get back to running.

If you have any good strength training plans, please send them my way.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Race Recap - Cocoa Beach Half Marathon

So, remember how I had a great race at the UCF 5 Miler?  The Cocoa Beach Half Marathon was pretty much the exact opposite of that. That is really all you need to know, but I will bore you with the details because a 3 sentence blog post doesn't work.

The Cocoa Beach Half Marathon sounded like a great idea when we registered back in March. Plenty of time to train, some cooler weather (hopefully), a fun medal and a friend with a condo in the area. The race sold out relatively quickly and then the course map got released. The course included almost 3 miles on the beach. Not really what I was looking for, but how bad could it be...famous last words.

Fast forward through a few months of rough, but consistent training, a great last longish run and I was actually getting excited about the race. Then the Thursday before the race I woke with pain in my left foot. Not crippling pain, but enough to know something was not right. That morning I started a regiment of ice, ibuprofen and good shoes. I skipped my last shake out run with the hope it would help. I wish I could say I stayed off of it, but with a 2-year-old that just isn't possible.

Saturday night after dinner I headed out to Cocoa Beach. A good friend of mine hosted us in her parents condo for the night. We hung out, watched some football and went to bed. It was so nice being close and not having to get up until 6 a.m. on Sunday. (Another huge thanks to our hostess for driving us to the start so we didn't have to take the 5:45 a.m. slow person bus.)

We got to the start with enough time to take a look at the beach and hit the port-a-potty. Then we were off.

Sunrise on the beach

Pre-race Selfie

No too far from the start we were routed into the first the multiple parking lots that we ran around during the race. There wasn't anything special to see, just in the parking lot, to the other end, around some cones and back out. I would think there would have been a better way to get to 13.1, but who am I to judge.

The first 4 miles or so took us through a pretty residential part of Cocoa beach. Unfortunately, buildings blocked most of the beach, so there wasn't a whole lot to see. The buildings also blocked the sea breeze at point, so I started to feel the heat and humidity of the day. That cooler weather I was hoping for never showed up.

About 5 miles in we met up with our race crew for the first time. It was great to have a familiar face on the course. 

She was amazing!! (I don't have a photo of the rest of the crew)

I held my 90 sec/30 sec intervals pretty well for the first half of the race and felt good with the exception of my foot.

Past the half and still feeling pretty good

A little after mile 7, my foot started hurting a little more. We stopped at Ron Jon to take some selfies and try to distract myself. 

Miles 8 and 9 were tough. I walked more in these miles than I wanted to, but it gave me a chance to have a little fun to. (Any hope of a good time was out the window at this point.) We passed the marker for mile 9 and hit the beach. 
On the Beach

The soft sand leading down to the beach was really hard on my foot and the hard sand wasn't much better. I tried running for a bit, but it was clear that my foot didn't enjoy running on the sand. So I walked....all 2.9 miles of it. Not what I wanted to do, but at least it was kind of pretty.

The never ending beach
I came off the beach with about a mile and a half to go. My legs were dead at that point and my foot was really sore. I ended up walking most of it, but did run the last tenth of a mile. (I just couldn't walk through the finish.) My official time was 3:17:28. I have never been fast, but this race was really bad.

I almost look like I am running
For a first time race, it was okay. The course had lots of water stops and plentiful port-a-potties...both good things. They also had both bananas and Cliff Shots at various stops on the course. I didn't see a medical tent or much in the way of medical staff on the course. I would have loved some biofreeze anytime after mile 7. The course itself wasn't much to look at and the sand running blew.

At least the medal is fun
To say that I have mixed feelings about this race would be an understatement. I am super proud of my friend who completed his first half marathon, extremely thankful for the friends who ran with me and supported me on the course, and overall satisfied with my training. (I am less sore after this half than ever before.) With all that said, this race was not my favorite and a huge personal worst. I guess you live and learn. Next time wait until the course map is released to register.