Wednesday, October 29, 2014

UCP Life Without Limits Half Marathon 2014 Race Report

If there ever was a perfect day for a race, it was this one. Everything seemed to work out right. It was just one of those good running days. The weather was perfect, and it was a little over 50 degrees. My running buddy Michelle and I were kind of bummed that we were the only two out of our running group to run because it's usually the whole group. To top it off, the weather was supposed to warm up really quickly. Boohoo. If we only knew what was in store for us! Eek!
I woke up at 5 ready to go...without my alarm clock. I just felt energized. Whereas I normally have that "Ugh. It's Saturday, and I'm up at 5. What am I thinking? Why do I do this again?" mentality, I just didn't. I felt pumped and ready to go. I knew that this was a day Heath and I could spend together and go eat afterwards. It was supposed to be pretty and sunny later on, and the LWL 1/2 is just something that has a soft spot in my heart. I've run it now for three years in a row. The second time I ran it I was pregnant. It's for a great cause, too. The proceeds go to United Cerebral Palsy of Northwest Alabama. (Go like them on Facebook!) When you see people pushing kids in strollers, kids who have never gotten the chance to run, it inspires me more than I can even explain. Getting to root them on and see their sweet faces is enough of a reason to run this race. The area where you run is gorgeous, too. You run across the dam, and at 8 in the morning, you can still see some fog on the water, the sun dappling the rivets in the water just right. The air is crisp, and there's just something about looking down off a bridge that takes your breath away...literally! (Take a pair of sunglass so you can really take it all in!).
At 6, we got into the car and headed to Florence, Alabama. I drank one cup of coffee before we left, and around 6:30, I ate a piece of wheat bread with peanut butter and honey--my usual prerace meal.  When we got there around 7:15, the atmosphere was energized and pumped. The adrenaline was flowing. I saw people wearing way too much clothing, and I kept telling myself...it's going to get warm. It's going to get warm. Just wait. You know better. Don't be fooled. See, I brought leggings and a long-sleeved top just in case. Thank goodness I didn't listen to my chill bumps! They will lie to you! Twenty-five minutes or so before the race, I drank my Vega pre-workout energizer, acai berry flavor. (This. Stuff. Works. There. Enough Said. I will be getting a tub of this for the future. No tummy issues, no cramps, just pure, energy that works continuously while you're running. My running buddy Michelle at Eat Healthy, Move More agrees. She uses it, too.
Around fifteen till 8, we snapped some pictures.
At 7:50, we lined up into the 9 min./mile corral. We were chilly and raring to go.
I looked at Heath and waved.
See me? Check out Cool Dude on the bottom left and the woman on the right who looks like she just realized her Garmin's battery is dead. Bless her!

Heath would be riding the longest bike ride yet on this day while I ran. Then, bam. The gun went off, and we started running. It wass sooooo congested until we got to the dam. I saw the Two Bordens on the dam, waving everybody on. Then, I turned up my music and let the ole legs do what they do. 
This race went by so fast...like...I'm not even kidding you...fast. I paced myself better than I did at Hartselle. Hartselle was hot and hilly. It just wasn't a good day for me, either. I felt terrible. But today, it was like Ryan Hall says...It felt like I had a third lung. Running was easy. I just don't know how else to describe it. I started out with a conservative 8:50-9 pace for the first three miles. I kept telling myself that the people passing me would eventually slow down. Things like that get inside your brain. No one likes masses of people passing her right after the gun goes off. Anyway, I used it as a warm up, and it proved to be a success. At mile 3, I ate a Reese's mini Fast Break and took a drink of Nuun. Around mile 4, we were on the bike paths, and I started getting into the groove. I hovered around 8:45 pace for the majority of the race. I kept thinking, Don't be mean, 8:40s. Don't make me believe we're going to make this work. No tricks, please. Be honest. Can we work together today? Be my friend, please. (It's super pathetic when you talk to your pace, but geez, whatever works.) It's so easy to get tricked at the beginning into thinking that a pace is going to work for you when it's actually a big fat LIE! This pace, however, seemed to click, and I never lost sight of it.
There were times (on the very few hills) that it crept up to 8:58 or so, but I always reigned it back in. Around mile 5.5, I encountered my very first grouchy runner. Wow. I'll just leave it at that. The next thing I know, it's mile 7, and it's around that time when I took my Gu. It was raspberry...not my favorite, but it was a free Gu I got in a race packet one time, so...yeah. I used it. And you know what? You forget how powerful those little babies are. They are like rocket fuel! It doesn't just give you energy; it keeps the cramps at bay and makes your legs feel like running is effortless. After what seemed like no time at all, it's mile 10, and I'm thinking, Just run a 5k. That's all you have to do. Run it fast. See how fast you can go. Y'all, I'm not kidding. At mile 10, I felt like I was just out for a long run with the girls. No, I think I felt better. I don't know what was going on with my body. I was not even tired. I can't explain it. When we got onto the second bridge and hit mile 11, I ate my last nutrition: my second Reese's mini Fast break. (I know...not really nutritious, but it dissolves well in my mouth, and it digests easily. Whatever works!) When we got off the second bridge, it was time for the dreaded little hill in the little neighborhood we have to go through. Ugh. We all despise that hill with a passion. I mosied up the hill at 8:58ish, and when I got onto the road, I told myself, Just stay under 9. Just stay under 9. You'll be fine. Hartselle was 9:01. Just stay under 9. 

Well, on that road, you're thinking a lot of things. There's the hotel. Must. Get. Back. There. or you might be thinking, Those cars are going really fast. or What is that horrible stench? Oh...watch your step. Roadkill. In the past, I'm thinking. I really want to stop running. I. Am. So. Tired. However, this day was the exception. I was waving to the cheerleaders who are always wonderful spectators at the race. (Is it Colbert County High School? No... Covenant Christian? I think so...CCHS? Anyway, they're awesome!) I was feeling wonderful. I saw Michelle up ahead, and I knew I was going to meet her. I thought, We're going to get to run this one in together. I got up to her and told her that we should sprint to the finish. I had no idea what my overall time was at this point, but when I turned the corner and saw that I had only seconds to stay in the 1:54s, I let my inner antelope come out and zoomed down the hill.
Cue "Chariots of Fire."
 I checked my Garmin as I was coming off and noticed that it said 5:59 pace. Whoa. I made it in at 1:54:56. I could not believe what was going on. What in the world? As I crossed into the chute, someone handed me something, and all I remember is crying. I kept looking around for someone to give me my medal, but I couldn't find anyone. Then, I realized the medal was in my head. Yeah. Anyways, I noticed Heath, and I just cried.
I couldn't believe what had just happened. I had approached an entirely different realm of running. I was at a number I never thought was approachable. I couldn't believe it! Both Michelle and I PRd by leaps and bounds. She got 1:55:02, a mere 6 seconds between us. We kept walking around in a blank stare thinking, What just happened? What is going on? Did we just do that?

Afterwards, we walked around searching for the results list. Last year it was at the pavilion where they served lunch. This year, we realized they were posted at the finish line. When we got up to the lists, I started at the bottom of my category, searching for my name sort of in the middle. I kept going and going until I got to the top. That's where my name was! I couldn't believe I had gotten first out of 24 girls. I'll be honest. This time around with marathon training, I have been finding myself struggling with the mental aspect and getting slightly burned out a little sooner than I normally do. I had been having some days where I felt like running was becoming more of a job than a favorite pastime. (Marathon training always does this to me.) It's probably getting more miles in than I normally do. I knew that my upcoming races had the potential to erase my feelings of negativity, though, and they held true. This race has excited me and given me the confidence to push myself in ways I've never dreamed. Could I possibly one day reach the 1:40s? Could I ever run a 10k in less that 50 minutes? Could I ever run a 5k in 22 minutes? Could I ever get a sub 4 hour marathon? Without things to inspire us, we often feel like we're in ruts or like we're wading through mud. Oh, how that can relate to our spiritual lives as well.
I've never won a glass before! I got a cool ribbon and a glass with the LWL logo on it.

This is a picture of me hiding what I was drinking at the moment. Michelle asked, " Are you sure you want that in the picture?" (Michelle is the cleanest eating person on earth. She has been trying to whip me into shape, and she's doing a good job. Before I pulled this drink out of the cooler, I had said, "Don't judge me!") I hurriedly stuck it behind my back before she snapped the picture. It was a real, authenic, no-holds-barred SUNKIST...high fructose corn syrup and red 40 included. It was so good. I love LWL because they always have Sunkist. I guess there's always a reason to splurge.

The postrace food was great.; well, it looked great, anyway. They had chicken halves and sides. It looked amazing, but I rarely ever indulge in race food because eating after a race isn't something I do. It takes my body a while to get to that point of wanting to eat. I typically drink chocolate milk or some juice...or in this case, Sunkist. I usually wait and eat some real food with Heath at a restaurant as a treat. We went to Buffalo Wild Wings and allowed the dirty-eating streak to continue. I had boneless wings with the chipotle dry rub and fries with cheese and vinegar salt seasoning. Oh, lordy!

We then went to a cute little cycling shop in Downtown Florence called The Spinning Spoke Cycling Club. They have lots of nutrition, gear, Flex bikes, Oiselle clothing for the ladies, and Pearl Izumi Zoot gear. They also have a bike repair station in the back. I loved the little shop. It's right across from Wilson Park, and the Renaissance Faire was actually going on while we were in the bike shop. Of course, I had to go over and see what was going on. For the two years I lived in Florence during college, I never went to one of these.

Must. Go. See. Strange. People.

Let me just tell you...it was crazy...like you don't even know...crazy. There were people walking around in costumes...gypsies, animal heads, medieval clothing...it was weird. It was like a mixture between a masquerade prom gone horribly wrong and a Halloween party. Heath and I had a long argumentative conversation on what actually constitutes as "renaissance" and when it actually took place. Some people were obviously in the wrong era! There were ladies dancing some medieval dances, and one younger lady was reciting Shakespearean monologues at the entrance. She was quoting one from A Midsummer Night's Dream when I first walked up, and I couldn't decide if it was a good thing that I knew what she was quoting or not. So after I watched the ladies dance for a while, I walked over to some booths to see what I could find. Oddly enough, I stumbled upon a sweet little booth selling loose teas, essential oils, soaps, and other homemade body products. I thought, How neat. I like this kind of thing. I guess I can see the connection with this stuff and an event like this one.
Well, I looked around some more, and then I stumbled upon yet another soap booth. Wow. This is odd, I thought. I then turned and saw a man doing magic tricks. Ok... I later saw a medieval soldier, and some other crazy getups. Then, you guessed it, I saw another soap booth. Whoa. These people must like them some soap. As I walked back to find Heath in a sea of cheesy costumes, I spotted a cute little tea booth from Huntsville's own tea shop, Piper and Leaf. They had samples out for people to try. Oh, nelly...I tried some delicious tea called Pumpkin Moonshine (totally alcohol free; I saw the ingredients list..hehe). It was the best iced tea I've ever had! This is crazy, I told myself. This stuff is getting a little close to home.

When I walked up to this affair, I thought I was the normal one, but when I left, from the monologues, to the soap, to the essential oils, to the tea, I felt like I was one of them. I'm one of these people! When did this happen? I jokingly told Heath that I'd be dressing up next year and joining in on the fun. Then, he rolled his eyes and called me a weirdo. Touché.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Paint the Town Pink 5k 2014 Race Report

What a fun day to get to run with my buddy. This was the third Panorama Study Club Paint the Town Pink 5k/1 mile fun run that raises money for women to get mammograms. What an amazing cause! I love racing for something that matters. 

The race began with a speech by Mrs. Lynn Comeens, and it was remarkable and so touching. She is undergoing treatments for breast cancer right now, and it was such an inspiration to see her walking the mile and hearing her story. It was also an honor to get to walk/run with other survivors.  Soooo inspirational! Things like this really put things into perspective for you. 
The Panorama Ladies

I debated the night before on running with Isaac, but since it ended up being 55 degrees, I decided on running with him. I'm sure glad he got to. We had a blast. Heath led the way on his bike, and we all three did the one mile together. This was my third stroller 5k, and it was the fastest yet. I hope to eventually get under 26 minutes. The hills really set me back, though. It's hard pushing a 60+ pound stroller up a long hill! The male and female age groups were together, and I got third place behind two guys. 

So here are my kids!!!! One or two who were there are missing from the picture, though. Some are former students, but most are current. The twins ran...and won...I almost beat 'em. No. I didn't. Really. And they don't train, y'all. The girl between them raced, too. I love to see my kiddos out running. They inspire me because there's no way I would've done something like this in high school. If you know me, you're nodding your head in agreement right this very moment. Mmm hmmm. 
Halley and Courtney, look at the camera!! :)
Ok. That's better. 

Uh oh. Isaac has spotted a tire.
Must. Have. Tire. 
                   A tire! I can live another day now! Bliss! It moves! Wait. I know it's supposed to. Why is it not moving? Someone make it move! Sigh. 
Daddy and Isaac before the race.
Must. Get. Back. To. Tire. 
I. Am. In. Control. Of. The. Round. Moving. Device.

The volunteers were great, and there were lots of snacks to feast on when you crossed the finish line. Everyone did a great job putting it on!

Here are some pictures from the race!
Kristin and her little boy. He did the one mile!
Tony about to be finished

Jessica and her friend

Rhonda and her daughter, Anna Kate
Ready to go! I look like a flamingo. Pink bird legs are all the rage this year!

 This is Miss Alexa before the race.

Here's the Eat Healthy, Move More Facebook group gang. We are missing our organizer/coordinator, Michelle; our speedy "beast" gonzales, Laura; our Disney princess, Ashley; and our Sweet Melissa, but we had a pretty big group to come out and represent. Good times. 

Check out Isaac's face at the start! He looks scared! :-)
The one mile fun run start...

    Cyndi and Vanessa after the race
Kristin and her two daughters

Michaela about to cross the finish line
Speedy Wanda!

Regina, Shelley, Carla, and her daughter

The second lady in the front is a survivor!

Ahh...you've got to love finish line pictures.
The age group winners (The little lady--3rd in the back--used to run back in the day. She did the 5k, and I'm pretty sure she's in her 70s? Wow!!)

This has become one of my favorite races. I'm so blessed to have two really awesome 5ks in my community that support such great causes. I love seeing faces of people I know out running and walking. What's more, I love seeing kids and mamas with strollers out with their kids! This is so special! I also loved watching people train at the park and in town every morning before the sun was even close to coming up. That is so motivational. Running the race and finishing are incredible, but it's the training that really reveals something special within us. 

The Honest Company Essentials Bundle Review

Here is my honest review of my first Honest Essentials Bundle experience...
So about a month ago, I ordered an awesome bundle from The Honest Company. I talk about my first incredible experience with them here.  By the way, there's an invitation at the bottom for you to become a member. It's free, and you get $10 on your first purchase! Since I'm a member, I get the occasional email for free shipping and discounts, so I bit the bullet and got a bundle when I saw that bundles were 40% off. They have three bundles: diapers/wipes, health and wellness, and essentials. The Health and Wellness bundle includes vitamins and other immunity boosting products (definitely want to try their vitamins...they're very bioavailable meaning that your body absorbs them better than vitamins that aren't bioavailable). The Diapers and Wipes bundle is pretty self explanatory. :) The Essentials bundle was definitely what I needed at the time, and the thought of getting to pick and choose what went into the bundle sounded a-maaaa-zing. After you pick five things to go into it ($35), you get to pick three extra things with an additional 25% off. (Man, their marketing department is intelligent!) Well, I ordered wipes, glass cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, shampoo/body wash, and conditioner. I also got dishwasher detergent, a scrub brush and dish, and toothpaste. Five things were for the bundle, and three were for the extra 25% off. Luckily, I got a 40% off discount (Wowza!) in my email box, so my bundle only ended up being a little over $20. With the three additional items, my total came to around $40. It was a $60 total before discounts! Ok...now for the review.
I love the toothpaste. It sort of tastes like your grandma's baking soda Colgate, but you know it's super safe and healthy. There is no flouride, but they replace it by adding in other minerals to remineralize your teeth. There's also mint, no saccharin, and baking soda. I really love it. I give it three thumbs up because my natural toothpaste I made was absolutely awful. I'm willing to pay, buddy...willing to pay!
I like the dishwasher detergent, but I give it a 9. I didn't get the rinse aid, and I probably should've. Whereas my dishes were extremely cloudy beforehand with my castile soap recipe, these were 99% better. However, they don't seem to be absolutely crystal clear, and you know what? They probably weren't before, but I just didn't notice it like I do now. I plan to get the rinse aid next, though. I'll try the pods sometime, too. 
The toilet bowl cleaner works like a charm. I have no complaints at all.
The scrub brush and dish is a great idea if you like washing a few things and rinsing them quickly under the sink. I wish I had time to do more handwashing, but I don't. I like the little spring idea that makes it convenient for the soap to get onto the brush, but I have only done that once. It does save water, but like I said, I usually use the dishwasher. My only complaint is that I wish it were longer. I am used to using a bottle brush, and I love that I don't have to get my hands in the hot water. I also love that I can get the brush into just about any glass, bottle, or dish I have. You just can't do that with this one, so hopefully, Honest will hear my plea and come out with a bottle brush. In fact, they need to come out with bottles! I mean, really! That would be the best idea. 
The glass cleaner didn't get shipped to me first; they sent the multi-surface cleaner instead. I simply called them up and talked to a human being in like 10 seconds. A very nice lady chatted with me about the situation and kindly sent me the glass cleaner for free. So...I got to keep the multi-surface cleaner, too. The multi-surface glass cleaner works great on wood! I have been using it to polish my dining room table. It says so on the back of the bottle in case you're wondering. It also works fairly well on granite. I'm very pleased with it. Mine smells like white grapefruit. Yum. :)
So when I got the glass cleaner, I didn't really like it that much at first because it still streaked. I have since figured out that I'm using too much cleaner and that if I'd only continue wiping the area down, the smudges will go away. It smells like vinegar...not my favorite, but at least it does a better job than the kind I made. I couldn't figure out a method to use that didn't smear. I know in my heart that nothing will ever work as well as Windex, but I'm willing to continue searching. I give it a 8.5 I guess.
The wipes are incredible. They are extra sturdy and very big...much bigger than the average size of wipes. I like the texture of them, too. Without getting into too much detail, they do a good job of well...doing their job. I really, really love these and will continue buying them. I've tried the diapers before, and they're the cutest diapers you'll ever find. However, they're more expensive than I prefer to spend on diapers, so I probably won't be purchasing those in the future. They are soooo good, though. And cute. And adorable. :(
I like the shampoo and body wash, but it doesn't lather up like what I'm used to using. I realize that it's baby shampoo, too. (Yay! No tear formula!) It does the job, though, and it smells amazing. The scent is orange vanilla, and it smells like cake! I love it but wish it had more suds. In my head I feel like suds do more cleaning, but I've had no problems with my hair not being clean after one wash. I guess it's all in my head. Hehe. :)
The conditioner is amazing. Like the shampoo, it smells like birthday cake, and flowers, and summertime, and happiness. Yum. It's super thick and creamy. I just love it. 
I've also tried their handsoap (works great and smells great but again, not a big lather going on), their Healing Balm (great for eczema, cuticles, rough patches, and diaper rash issues), their 4 in 1 laundry pods (incredible, sooo convenient, and safe for every member of the family--even Baby), and their body lotion (oohhh...it smells so good, and Isaac feels so soft and buttery when I put it on him.) 
What I really like about the Essentials Bundle Experience...
1. I like that I can mix and match. Next month I will get some things that I haven't tried yet. I'm super excited about it. 
2. I like that I get 25% off three more items.
3. I like that I get reminded when my bundle is coming up so that if I want to change the items or put it off to another month, I can.
4. I really like that I can skip around with my bundle. If I don't want it this month, I don't have to get it. Sometimes you just haven't run out of anything. There are no monthly commitments.
5. I really like my customer service experience. I talked with a lady who spoke very clearly, and I got through to her very quickly. She was very educated on the process of bundling and just the products in general. I've never felt like I was talking to an old friend while discussing a mistake in my order. I mean, who has? But this time, that's how I felt. I was laughing and smiling, and I was all like...am I talking to someone in customer service? Where's the elevator music? Where's the twenty minute wait? Where's the person I can't understand? I know. It was bliss.
Here is my own personal invitation to you to go check them out. I wish I would've known about Honest when Isaac was first born. They have adorable nursery furniture, prenatal vitamins, household products, and more. I just wish they would come out with more stuff! Like clothes...bottles...food?!? :)
Check out The Honest Company on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.