Weekend recap-Greenville

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For the third weekend in a row we were on the road again…this time down to Greenville, NC for Jeff’s series against East Carolina University. I was excited to finally be able to make it down for this trip, and it was the first time for the kids and I  to explore this great little city.

We left after work and started our drive around 230 pm. Between naps, snacks, and some coloring the kids managed pretty well for the close to 10 hour drive. We stopped a few times, once to eat dinner. We got in around midnight and went right to bed, excited to get the trip officially started in the morning.

Jeff’s game was not until 630 the first day, which gave us lots of time to check out the campus and the surrounding town. As usual, our favorite way to explore is by running so the kids got in the stroller and we cruised around. The neighborhood behind our hotel was absolutely beautiful and before I knew it, I had gotten in 10 miles. Felt great to get the legs moving after such a long ride the night before!

Thanks to all of our traveling,  I consider myself a great packer. However, there always seems to be one pretty significant item I forget on each trip (my first trip with Ava when she was less than a year old it was diapers…kind of important!). This time is was shoes! Of course I had my Asics to run, but that was it! Meanwhile the kids each had at least 3 pairs in their suitcase. So in our downtime between the run and the game, we got to shop! Since it was a late game, I also took the kids for dinner…although they would have been happy eating popcorn and drinking hot cocoa at the stadium.

Saturday’s game was a 4 o’clock start, so another great day to get out and explore. After breakfast, I headed down to the treadmill since it was raining and got in a great run before Jeff had to leave for the stadium. While we were getting ready for the day, he texted me to let me know there was a kid fest at the convention center, which was about a 2 minute walk from our hotel. Perfect! We headed out and the kids had a lot of fun. There were lots of vendors and activities, from arts and crafts, to “nature walks” to reading stations; with lots of free books to take home,  and much more. The Greenville fire department was there as well and had some pretty neat activities, including letting the kids sit in the trucks. They loved it!

By the time we left, we had enough time to hit our new favorite Panera and then we were back at the stadium. Nolan once again had a nap and Ava and I watched. It was a chillier night but still felt great to sit outside for a ballgame. I absolutely love to watch Jeff coach, and Ava is so proud of him and his team. They lost a tough one in the last inning, but still a fun night. It was late by the time we got back to the hotel, so I stayed in with the little ones while Jeff had dinner out with the coaches.

Sunday we started all over again. Breakfast, treadmill, and then packed up so we could head home straight from the game. Nolan fell asleep in the stroller walking from the parking lot to the stadium, which was great because it was freezing so I could just keep him covered and warm. Ava, who “never gets cold” had her first experience using hand warmers in her coat pocket which was the coolest thing ever to her. The stadium was pretty empty due to the weather, so she got lots of attention from “Peedee” the Pirate, ECU’s mascot. He had some fun dance moves and I think they may have high-fived for a half hour straight. These are the memories I love seeing my kids make. She had a huge smile through the whole game and Daddy’s team won! It was the first win this season that she was there for and she was beyond excited. Love it.

Ava is now at the age where she will sit and watch the game. She’s still learning how it all works, so any time the crowd cheers or someone claps, she says, did daddy win? It’s cute, and I love that she is taking an interest and now wants to understand what is going on. Nolan is two, so….I’m sure you can guess how well he will sit through 9 innings. It’s tough because I really do enjoy watching the games but have to make sure they are happy and of course safe from foul balls (something I will never stop being nervous over). However, he won MVP of all 3 games in the series thanks to some pretty impressive naps. A little Thomas and Friends on you tube and the kid was out. Whatever works!

So now began the trip home. Since Nolan decided to sleep the entire 3 1/2 hour game, he was wide awake for the drive! It went way better than I would’ve guessed, and we made it home around 1 am…to some snow.

It can be tough and exhausting going on these trips, constantly packing and unpacking, but I am beyond grateful for the life experiences it gives my family. I’ve always loved the quote, “Collect moments, not things.” The memories and time together we have is so important to me and I wouldn’t change it for anything. My kids have been able to see so many places and the stadiums and campuses are full of history.

 

We now have a few weeks until our next road trip. I’m hoping all of the unpacking and laundry from the past 3 weeks is done by then…

#tooblessedtobestressed

xo,

Heather

 

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Race weekend recap-Rock n Roll DC half

This past weekend I ran the half marathon race of the Rock n Roll DC series, and I am still in a little bit of shock about how well it went! Coming off a busy winter and kind of just “winging it” with my training runs and mileage, I set my expectations for this race low. Even so, I have always wanted to run a race through our nation’s capitol and the timing of this worked out perfectly. So I signed up a few months ago and was really excited for it.

We headed down on Friday after work. I drove down solo with my kids and we survived! I made sure of course they had lots to do and timed with some solid nap time we had a successful trip. My parents came down in their car with my niece who they were watching for the weekend while my sister and brother in law were at a wedding. We checked into our hotel in Crystal City and headed to the expo on the metro. My son is 2, so naturally he is obsessed with trains right now. It’s easy to say he was on cloud 9 all weekend taking the trains! The metro was perfect for getting to and from both the expo and race…especially with 2 toddlers and a 5 year old in tow.

When we got off the metro, we got in a pretty long line to get into the armory for the expo. Security was pretty tight, but understandable in that area. Once inside, I got my bib and shirt and we had about a half hour to explore the vendors before they were closing. Having done the rock n roll half in Savannah in the fall, my daughter knew right where she wanted to go…the Geico booth! She had made a sign for me at the last race and didn’t get to hold it up at the finish so she was looking forward to trying again for this race. So we couldn’t miss the opportunity. Both kids got a try to  “spin and win” and she hit the jackpot…winning me a post race massage and tech shirt! Best kid ever!

I had wanted to wear something festive for the race since it was the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day. One way I reduce my risk of clots is by running in compression socks. My personal favorite are PROcompression, and I was excited to get a pair of their Shamrock socks for the race! I packed them and was excited to find a great tech shirt at the Baysix USA booth to complete my race day outfit

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By the time we got back to the hotel I needed to move after traveling all day. I get worried about blood clots, so I hopped on the treadmill for an easy 15 minutes. Mentally it helped a lot and then we ate dinner right at the hotel.

I got up around 530 for the race and went through my usual routine of coffee, breakfast, and some water…got dressed and headed to the start. I got down to 14th street around 645.  The race did a great job with the way the porta-potties were set up and it was a very easy going group of runners waiting in line, which isn’t always the case! While I shivered in line, I saw some people wearing their foil blankets from previous races and planned to keep one on hand from now on…I thought it was a great idea.

I headed down to Corral 3, texted my husband a selfie since he wasn’t able to be there for the first time I’ve ran a half, and then stood and questioned whether I maybe should have warmed up a little or stretched. I have the worst pre-race habits when it comes to warming up! At any rate, the national anthem played, and the two groups ahead of me were off and running…

My corral was welcomed to the start line and after a quick countdown we started our race. I really like observing all of the different styles of racing people have at the beginning. Some sprint right off, some almost walk, and then there’s me. I am in a constant battle with myself to stay calm and not get caught up in all of it. I promised myself I would observe the sights and take it all in. And I really tried, but something takes over and I find watching other runners so interesting.

In the past year, I’ve really come a long way in how I stay within my own pace and have learned not to get caught up in the excitement of the start and people passing me and the competitiveness of it. This race in particular that wasn’t an issue for me. Within the first 3 miles we saw the Washington Monument, White House, Jefferson Memorial, and crossed over the Potomac on the Arlington Memorial Bridge. Right from the beginning I knew this course would be one of my all time favorites.

So within my corral was the first pace group (1:45). Last year I tried out running with a pace group and found that it was not for me. Too much pressure and thinking involved, although I think they are great for those who can use them. I mentally promised myself to stay behind that group since I was pretty sure I would not be beating my PR of 1:43 in this race and was happy to  get under 1:50. I planned on keeping them within sight, and if I was feeling good after mile 10 then passing them. Somehow in the welcomed distraction of monuments and an energetic cheering squad as we ran around the base of the bridge, I was passing them right before mile 3. In my mind I was telling myself this was a huge mistake but I really didn’t feel that my pace was too fast so I went for it.

The next few miles seemed almost too easy. The vibe of this race and the other runners was contagious and I felt like I was just cruising along. They were a few steady hills but nothing crazy at that point. I started to think that maybe I was going to be able to have a good time and really found my stride. It was the fastest I had run in a really long time and even though I felt great I was pretty nervous about how my body was going to hold up.

Toward the end of mile 5 we were coming up on the “Blue Mile”. The street was lined with Blue signs that had pictures of members of the military who paid the ultimate sacrifice. It was a powerful tribute and pretty emotional. As we came around the curve we were met with an incredible sight. It was one of the steepest, longest hills I had ever climbed but that was nothing compared to the people standing on the curb, lining the hill each holding a large American flag. They were cheering us on, offering words of encouragement and high fives. To say it was motivating was an understatement. Just awesome, and I will never forget it.

As I mentioned, the hill was a huge challenge. My mile pace increased by almost a minute, and I was having a hard time catching my breath from both increased heart rate, and the emotional impact that mile had on me. I slowed down a little and got water at the next stop. Next thing I know, coming over my left shoulder was that darn 1:45 pacer! NO WAY. Those were the two words I said to myself (or maybe out loud). I had pushed through the first half of the race and had decided at that point to try and PR…and that was the wake up call I needed.

I took off. Like full sprint took off. Right then I knew how badly I wanted to see a new best time at the finish. So I committed to going for it. And then something happened to me that I had never done. I started coaching myself.

I have been a coach for over 10 years. Mostly swimming, but also track for a few seasons. I am constantly trying to say things to my athletes that will inspire them to believe in themselves as much as I believe in them. Then I hope they can be confident enough to believe what I know to be true. This time I was trying to convince myself. It was a little surreal but seemed to be working.

The second half of the race was really challenging. It was really hilly and I was definitely tired. But I felt strong and recovered well after each climb and I have since attested this to adding strength training into my daily routine this year. My body just felt stronger, and I ended up faster on the second half of the race.

As we passed the sign at Mile 13, I was just holding on and was with a few others who seemed to be fighting too. As I climbed the last hill I heard a whistle and someone yell out my name…I waved to my dad and was happy to know my kids were definitely watching mommy finish! I came around and saw the clock…1:43 something…now the math started and I needed to figure out what my chip time was. As I crossed it was turning to 1:44. My husband texted immediately (he had been following along with the real time tracking) and congratulated me. My fingers were frozen but I managed to text back and ask him what the time was…1:41! PR!

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I still cannot believe I was able to do so on such a challenging course and in my first half since November but I am so grateful for it. The entire race experience was perfect.

I found my way through the finish, collecting lots of goodies and a foil blanket on my way to find my family. Once we were all together I was so happy to share the moment with my babies.

We headed over the post-race concert area, and my daughter reminded me she won me a massage! It was the first time I had one post race and it was amazing. After a few days since the race, I can say it definitely helped my recovery and look forward to doing that again as part of Team Geico.

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I am really appreciative for the whole experience Run Rock and Roll gave my family and I. From the expo to the post race fun, I am looking forward to signing up for future races in this series! (Philly in the fall, anyone?)

This only made me more excited for the rest of the year!Next half is only a month away…

Happy Running,

Heather

 

 

Weekend recap…Charlottesville

This past weekend I was excited to be able to get away with my husband, even though technically he would be working.  Some people might think it’s odd that I would jump at the chance to drive over 5 hours after work on a Friday to go watch him coach baseball, but these weekends are some of my favorite trips!

I have always been a pretty independent girl, which is why I think our marriage works so well for us. Jeff travels and works a lot, especially this time of year. I don’t get to see him as often as I would obviously like (thankfully, we work in the same building so that helps).  Even when the kids and I join him, he’s there for his team. I’m sure this lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but part of the reason I love him so much is that we share a passion for coaching, our sports, and our teams. Watching him coach is fun for me. Being around his team, the other coaches, and their families is one of my favorite places to be.

I decided to keep the kids home this past weekend. I’m really lucky that my family is so supportive and will take them in for a whole weekend while we get some time together. February can be tough for us. My swim season gets busy, his baseball season takes over, and the rest of the time is left for focusing on the kids, work, and all of the usual life responsibilities. This weekend was such a refresher for our relationship. I honestly feel that couples need that time to strengthen their marriage and that is what makes them better parents and a better example for their children. Plus my kids love being spoiled by their grandparents.

So what exactly happens on these weekends? Here’s some of the highlights from this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.

I feel like the best way to explore a new place is to run through it! Both mornings, while Jeff was at his team breakfast I laced up and set out to see what was around. I’ve kind of felt like I was in a slump with running the same route lately so this really helped me get back to loving my runs. The town and campus were hilly, but I hardly noticed with all the new scenery and historic buildings. Our hotel was about a mile and a half from the campus of the University of Virginia so I ran around there. I was able to run almost 18 miles over the 2 days and if I wasn’t running a half marathon this weekend, would have done more. Saturday Jeff was able to meet me halfway through and gave me a better tour; we hadn’t ran together in a while so that was really nice too.

I also knew that there weren’t any weights in the hotel gym, so decided this would be a great time to try out my new toy…a kettle bell. It was super easy to just pack it in the car and I got in a short, full body workout each morning after my run. It was so easy to just have it in the car just in case, and I plan on bringing it from now on. You really don’t need a huge space to get in a quick workout, which is perfect in the hotel room.

 

 

There’s a good amount of down time between when the team leaves for the game and when it actually starts. I am very lucky that the head coach’s wife and I are great friends and enjoy a lot of the same interests. So we usually work out together and sneak in a little shopping and lunch too. They had some great stores and restaurants around, and it’s fun to make the trip into a little bit of a girls weekend as well. I don’t have a lot of time to hang with friends, so I really look forward to it. Plus, she is an excellent co-pilot and we keep ourselves amused on the long car rides.

After the games, we usually go out with the whole coaching staff for dinner. This is always a lot of fun. Saturday night we headed to downtown Charlottesville and walked around, it was a really cute place I would like to be able to explore a little more someday. We ate at a place called Millers Downtown, which is where Dave Matthews got his start. It had a great vibe and my black and blue burger was pretty good too.

Let’s not forget the real reason we are there…baseball! Even before Jeff and I dated, I always loved the sport. There are weekends where we are at the stadiums for hours, and I love everything about it. Saturday was chilly, but that meant the hot chocolate was free…score! The games this weekend were really exciting and on Sunday they beat the defending national champions. I loved seeing how excited they were! When I’m home during the season, I watch the games on the computer and follow along. I hate not being there and at the end of that game especially I knew I made the right choice to be there in person.

It’s hard to explain sometimes why I look forward to these trips so much. When I say I am driving hours and hours to go watch my husband play baseball I get some weird looks and reactions sometimes. But I love sharing these memories with him. My kids have been able to visit some really neat places, and although we sometimes get a little sleep deprived and I am not the biggest fan of packing, it is absolutely worth it in my book.

We will be traveling  the next two weekends as well. I’m excited the kids will be joining us for these! They are really excited, especially my daughter, who is finally at the age where she remembers previous seasons and loves going to these games and watching daddy. I love that we are able to have these experiences as a family and that they have him as a role model. I can only hope they always want to come and spend this time together. Next stop, Washington DC! (In case you missed it, here’s how I survive these trips )

“One travels to escape routine, that dreadful routine that kills all imagination and all our capacity for enthusiasm”-Ella Mailart

Happy Travels,

Heather