Category Archives: Uncategorized

One Year

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One year ago today, I was sitting in the “induction room” at Chinook Regional Hospital.  Dan and I knew that our baby boy would be coming sometime soon, and it was sooner than originally planned.  Andy was originally due November 3rd, but he made his appearance when I was 38 weeks along at 12:32 am on October 19th, 2017.

We didn’t know what the next year would really look like other than the fact that we had a small human to take care of.  What things would we be involved with as a family?  What things would Andy and I find to do during my maternity leave?  What would my post-partum running actually look like?  Sure, we were able to theoretically imagine what the next year would look like, but we really wouldn’t know what it was like until experiencing it first hand.

I have said many times before, but I am beyond fortunate enough to be here in Alberta, Canada, where I have a one year maternity leave with my job.  Also with my job, I was guaranteed my same position as long as I came back by that one year.  I had sick pay covered for the first 15 weeks (I maxed it out mainly because I ended up having the emergency appendectomy 7 weeks post-partum) and then I received unemployment insurance for 35 additional weeks.  Along with the money we saved in the year leading up to having Andy, we were able to live comfortably and take part in a lot of activities and trips.  Some of the things specifically Andy & I were able to do were:

-“Mommy Connections” 8-week programming during three different sessions

-“Baby Steps” postnatal classes at the Lethbridge Health Unit

-“Baby PACT” (Parent and Child Time) 10 week session at Lethbridge Family Centre

-Swimming Lessons!  10 classes

-Baby Mama Boot Camp through Kinetic Fitness.  We did this often twice a week during the winter and spring and then once a week in summer

-Stroller Boot Camp at University of Lethbridge for one winter/spring session

-Kindermusik Drop-In program at CASA

-Library programming like “Babes in the Library” and “Small & Tall”

-HIGH Fitness classes held at the northside LDS church

and much more!

The great thing about these programs were that they were all locally operated in Lethbridge and while some cost money, many were lower cost (Baby Steps & PACT) or FREE! (Library, HIGH fitness).  These programs were important for both mine and Andy’s well being as it got us out of the house in the dead of winter, we got to socialize with other adults and children, and it kept us active.

While it was mainly Andy & I doing specific classes together, Dan also took Andy to a few “Me and my Dad” drop in programs at Family Centre on Saturday mornings.  He plans to start doing this again when winter rolls around.  I would also often bring Andy for visits at my school, we would go to basketball games, we would do mall walks when it was brutally cold and even just going grocery shopping got us out of the house.

We were also able to do some trips this year.  Our first ‘road trip’ was Christmas, where we packed Andy, Snoopy, Woodstock & Faron (2 month old baby, beagle, and two cats) in our car and drove 3.5 hours to Red Deer to see Dan’s family.  A highlight was going to Edmonton to see Dan’s Grandpa and get a four generation Pottage men photo.  Dan’s grandpa passed away in late spring 2018 so this will definitely be cherished.

In April, we flew out to Walt Disney World in Florida to participate in the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend.  We met my mom out there and experienced our first family vacation via plane.  This helped us tons in preparation for our summer trip where we flew out to Milwaukee over 4th of July to visit my family.  We also acquired a camper in the summer and plan on using it for family camping trips.  We tested it out for one night in Beauvais Lake and it went so well!

Lets not forget about RUNNING!  Running was going to be a big part of my maternity leave year, as it is a huge part of me in general.  I knew that if I couldn’t run, I would possibly run the risk of falling into a depression.  I was fortunate enough to be able to keep running during the first  37 weeks of my pregnancy, with one week off before having Andy, and then two weeks of recovery.  I ran my first 5km race post-partum at just 1 month having Andy.  If you are interested in all my races and times in detail check out the result links at the top of this page

Then the appendectomy hit.  Ouch.  But a month later I was back.  Boot camps, walking, running….it came back slowly but it was worth the wait.  The picture below depicts all the races I was able to participate in during my maternity leave:

I was able to run in 15 different races:

Four 5km races (Claus Cause, Superhero Fun Run, Travelling Beer Garden Race, Coalhurst Family Run Run)

One 4 mile race (Firecracker 4)

One 8 km race (LadiesFest)

Three 10km races (Moonlight Run, Star Wars 10km, Fort Macleod Wilderness Run)

One 10 mile race (Lethbridge 10 Mile Road Race)

One Trail Race as a Relay (Coulee Cactus Crawl)

Three Half Marathons (Star Wars Half Marathon, Red Deer Half Marathon, Lethbridge Police Half Marathon)

One Full Marathon (Berlin Marathon)

OH YEAH….WE DID THE BERLIN MARATHON?!?!?!?!  HOW COOL IS THAT!?  If it wasn’t for being on my maternity leave at the time, it would have been very hard to make this work.  What an amazing experience that my husband and I can say we shared in together.

I was also able to run some amazing times in the last year.  I hit an unofficial 5km personal best of 20:30 in the Beer Garden race (chip time was 20:50 and course measured long) and my Police Half Marathon time was actually my 2nd fastest half marathon time EVER! (1:37.39)  Andy and I ran in a 5km race last weekend and were the first stroller across the finish and actually the first female runner too.  I won some money at different races and I also earned ago group awards throughout the year.  While I was worried on how pregnancy and postpartum would treat me as a runner, I think it’s safe to say that all my hard work before, during and after pregnancy has paid off.

So what’s next?  Well, there’ll be another year to follow.  And years after that.  And while I have ideas of things we have as plans, goals and dreams, we really can’t say those things for certain until they happen.  There will be family events, trips, races, and just family time.  A quote many of my friends have shared on Instagram and Facebook this year comes to mind right now:

“The days are long but the years are short”

To say that this past year went fast is a huge understatement.  But many days were long and tiring.  Some were filled with frustration.  But in the end, all the days created lasting memories.  Next year the days may feel long too.  I know going back to work is something I am struggling with in my mind.  Some of those days are going to feel hella long.  But when we have the free time as a family to do things, we will.  We need to fill our time with memory-making opportunities and seize the moment.

Onto year 2!

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Berlin Marathon 2018

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Wow. We conquered the Berlin Marathon! What a crazy experience it was! I could write multiple blog posts, all very long, detailing the day by day events. But, it’s 9 pm on a Friday…I am worn out, sick, and have an 11 month old who may wake up middle of night! So I’m doing a small recap that’ll touch on some details I think are worth noting, especially if you are contemplating making the trek out to do this race.  update.  It is now Sunday.  I hope to finish this post today!!!

Pre-event issue…I started feeling sick on the Tuesday before the race. At first I thought it was just my body being sore after boot camp, but I think I was just wearing out. On the drive to my in laws on Wednesday, I started popping cold medicine because my nose was a running machine. Great…a transatlantic flight is upon us and I feel like trash.

I think the whole adrenaline of the trip made me feel better, because once we got to the airport I just forgot about it. But the transatlantic flight was tough. We left at 6 pm Thursday. It was my first time flying overseas and the first leg of flight was 9+ hours from Calgary to Frankfurt. Neither my husband or I slept well. But we kept pushing. By the time we got to Berlin it was 2:30 pm (8 hours ahead of home). Our only confusing transit issue in Berlin was getting from the airport to hotel. We hadn’t researched which “zone” we were travelling to, and the lineups at the machines to buy tickets were long with a lot of other confused people. We did make it to our hotel eventually…freshened up, changed, and headed to the expo.

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The expo was very easy to get to from our hotel. I booked our hotel on Priceline in December and got it at a rate of $82 USD/night. It was walking distance to the Friedrichstraße station, which could link you anywhere. And also walking to the start/finish by Brandenburg gate. We got to the expo quick, and arrived around 5pm.

I’m glad we didn’t have anything we really wanted to stop and purchase because this was the first instance we realized this event was going to a semi-organized chaos. The room to pickup your race packages were in the way back of the old airport hangers, and everywhere around you there were lines. And the lines weren’t straight, just a mosh pit of people pushing through. Luckily I had preordered us two event shirts (no shirts included in registration fee) so we didn’t have to push through people to buy them. Just had to find that line to pickup.

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We didn’t spend much time at the expo. We headed back to the hotel, went out way too late, and then slept in the next day. It was the day before the race, so in theory we should have been taking it easy. But seriously…we were in Berlin. We needed to see as much as possible.

We did a short shakeout run by the river. After changing and finding food, we then trekked around Berlin seeing all sorts of sights. Highlights included Humboldt University, Reichstag, Checkpoint Charlie, Hitler’s bunker, Berlin Wall memorial, and Topography of Terror. We also had a group dinner that evening for all of us in the Runners Soul group. Ate at a fantastic Italian place called Via Nova II. By the time Dan & I made it back to the hotel we had clocked in 11.5 miles. Time to rest for the marathon!

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Marathon morning cake bright and early. But with this being a 9:15 am start time for the elites, and our hotel so close to the start, we didn’t have to get up at a ridiculous time. We had pre-bought some breakfast items the night before and I went to the McDonalds two blocks away to get coffee at 6:15 am, so we were set. The group met at 8 am for a photo and then we all dispersed.

Biggest thing to know about this race is that the Europeans “organize” things differently. 44,000 runners and I’d guess the number of pre race porta potties available were 1/10 of what was available at Boston (25,000 runners). My friend Heather waited 45 minutes to use one and missed her corral start. Dan and I stood in line for about 15 minutes and then left the race grounds to go to a cafe, pay 0.50 euros at a turnstile, and use their bathrooms. People were pissing all over the park on their way to the corrals. It was disgusting. I don’t know if the city just doesn’t have the supply of porta potties or what, but you’d think since they’ve been doing this race for 44 years they’d know it’s an issue.

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So the race itself.  Well, it was 26.2 miles through Berlin and my Garmin clocked it as 26.44 miles.  That’s bound to happen in a race this large with all the weaving going on.  Instead of going through a mile by mile recap, I want to just note some key things during the race.

  1. I was in the second wave of runners, in corral E.  You could just jump into any corral with no one checking your bib…I didn’t have an issue with people around me being in an incorrect corral (up too far) and I was able to weave myself pretty close to the start of our corral.  I was about 10 deep to the left of the start area.  It was an awesome feeling at the beginning with thousands of runners being let off at once!
  2. I kept on perfect pace through the half marathon point.  I actually had a 1:47.30 once I crossed the timing mat, which if I were to have replicated that exactly in the second half I would have had my goal of 3:35.00
  3. My legs started to cramp and tighten in my hamstrings and quads around mile 9.  I am guessing due to transatlantic travel and the ridiculous amount we walked the days prior while touring
  4. Water stations were plentiful, and were also stocked with gels (which I heard tasted disgusting) and fruit later on.  The issue I had with these water stations is that it was not like when you run a race in North America….no “excuse me” or “sorry” or people being aware of those around you.  I got smashed into by no less than a dozen sweaty men during the course of the race as they plowed into the water stations.  Even when I would raise my hand up once getting water to signal I was walking someone would plow into me.  The etiquette I am used to was not present here.
  5. On the website, they said there were 40,775 runners representing 133 nations who finished, with 12,332 being women and 28,443 being men.  So while we are used to races in North America being pretty closely represented by women and men, this european race was not.  Also, while all of Berlin seems to speak English, the race participants I was around did not.  There was no one I could have a conversation with when I started to struggle at mile 16.  Everyone was so serious.
  6. Once I got to mile 16, I knew I needed to slow up and try to just enjoy the last 10 miles.  That’s when I started getting more frustrated with the lack of people around me who I could talk to while running, and all the pushing and shoving by the water stations.  I will say that the course is shaded pretty well in areas throughout, with no long stretches of blazing sun.  This was important because it was actually quite warm compared to what I would be used to doing a marathon in.
  7. For better or for worse, I stopped at the bathroom after mile 20.  Then, lo and behold, Marissa from our Runners Soul group came up behind me.  She was having frustration also and just wanted the race to be “fucking over.”  I now had my person to talk to the last 6 miles!
  8. We had a ton of fun in the last stretch, stopping for water and fruit when we could.  Just past mile 25 someone had a makeshift beer station so we stopped for a beer too!  Finishing as strong as we could in the final stretch through Brandenburg Gate was awesome, because each of us started to just pure on race one another to try and beat the other person.  Marissa’s chiptime came out on top by about 3 seconds.
  9. The finishing area was pretty well organized compared to the whole mess getting to corrals.  I wish I had selected “Poncho” instead of “bag drop” because the poncho that people got was nice.  And I was getting chilled in the shade as we waited for people from Runners Soul to finish.
  10. My husband came in about an hour later.  He started in a farther back corral than me.  I am so proud of him! He finished his second marathon with a 4:00.35 run, beating his first marathon by over 4 minutes.  Since the course ran long, he could have been under 4 hours if it had been less crowed.  And he also, along with four other guys, helped a Brazilian woman across the finish line.  And by help, I mean they carried her because she was passing out.  They just wanted her to finish.

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Below are a selection of the professional race photos (which I bought).  I will say that these photos are of higher quality than the Marathon Foto ones I am used to from North America races.  I wish I had seeked out more photographers for pictures before and after the race so I could have had some with Dan.

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And we are off!

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Somewhere in Berlin between miles 20-26.2 🙂

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Focused on finishing

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Probably my favorite photo, having an on course beer with less than a mile to go.  The tossing of the cup totally captures how we feel.

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Brandenburg Gate in the background and coming into the finish!

 

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Berlin Marathon finisher!

THIS WAS AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE!  My husband and I would have not been able to take part of this if it wasn’t for Runners Soul in Lethbridge putting together a travel group.  Also, if I was not still on my sweet 1-year Canadian maternity leave (sorry Americans) then we could have not left the country during this time of year…teachers have a great amount of days off, but you can’t just take time off at random times!  Oh, and if my in-laws couldn’t have watched Andy for a week then this trip would have been impossible..We want to do more races overseas, particularly finishing the Abbott World Marathon Majors.  We have New York (yeah, not overseas), London and Tokyo left for myself.  Dan still needs Chicago and Boston too.  We hope that Runners Soul does more travel groups to these races and that we are able to attend.  Dan still does not love running.  However, he loves these experiences of seeing new places and being with friends.  On our drive back to Lethbridge we talked about races in the future we want to travel to.  It is awesome that we have a common hobby that we can enjoy together. Until the next race…..Auf Wiedersehen!

You Look Fantastic for Just Having a Kid

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…Thanks…?

PREFACE: I have thought about doing a post like this for some time, but always shyed away.  But, in the last week a few things triggered me to do this.  If you are looking at the title of this and are thinking one thing about what I’m about to say, either stop reading or maybe read all the way though.  And I’d also suggest holding comments until you’ve read the whole post….or maybe after reading it you’ll just keep your comments to yourself….

And now onto my post….

I’ll be honest-I am one of those mom’s who get the random comments about “how great you look for just having a kid.”  And I will say it now, that I do feel pretty damn great about how I look right now.

 I’m sure some of you are thinking “Andrea you arrogant bitch, why are you writing about this?”  But bear with me.  

The trouble with this comment is that it comes unsolicited from strangers.  I most recently had a mom say it to me yesterday at Andy’s swim lessons.  She was watching her two kids in the lessons, while the youngest sat on the side with her.  Yes, it was nice that she said this to me.  But what do I say in response?

If I say a simple “thanks” and walk onward, do I not look appreciative?  I am not the most exuberant person out there, so sometimes my responses seem cold.  Is she expecting me to unload about how I got myself to look like this?  What is my workout regime….do I follow a special diet….maybe I am one of those mom’s who can just bounce back to a good figure…

But what if Andy was my adopted son?  And I never was even pregnant with him?  Then really it’s a stranger commenting on a postpartum body when maybe it was never pregnant at all.  What would an adoptive mother do in a case like this?  Do they just lie and say “Thanks” or do they go on a whole story about how this isn’t actually their biological child.  Then the stranger is in for an earful and really they probably didn’t want to hear your whole life story.

You’re probably still thinking that I should just smile and say thanks and move on.  But really, it’s bothering me.

The whole fascination on postpartum bodies is a topic in itself.  But every body is different.  And for strangers to go up to new mom’s and make comments on their bodies, even if they are in heart “positive” is just a little invasive.

If a stranger comments to me about my body, do they really want to hear the whole story?

Here is the bullet-point timeline

  • Always felt awkward looking in grade school due to bad haircut and fro
  • Didn’t like that I was taller than most of the girls growing up (funny, I know…I’m 5’3)
  • Was on Pom Pon Squad and Track & Field in high school.  Naturally muscular and never “skinny”
  • Wanted to be “skinny”
  • Bad couple months in grade 12 where I dropped close to 15 pounds with the stupid goal to get under 100 pounds
  • Hit puberty late after high school probably because of my intense exercise all those years and the body issues.
  • Dad dies end of freshman year in college in 2004
  • College is a yo-yo of bad food and lots of drinking
  • Started running long distance, however, it was maybe one race a year
  • Graduated college and met Dan
  • Moved to a new Country less than a year later
  • Did the crazy ‘pre-wedding diet’ before our wedding in 2010
  • Started taking anxiety medication mainly related to the death of my father
  • Slowly gained weight after wedding and tried to figure out what I wanted to do for exercise
  • Started this blog in 2013 and signed up for a shitload of running events
  • Kept running in 2014 and realized if I put my focus on running I could get a whole lot faster
  • Tried to qualify for Boston Marathon twice in 2014.  Failed.
  • Tried to qualify for Boston Marathon once in 2015.  Success
  • Decided to wait to try to have a kid until after Boston Marathon
  • Ran Boston Marathon in 2016.  Yay!
  • Foot Surgery in June 2016.  Can’t run until August.
  • Start trying to have a kid in fall
  • Find out we are pregnant!
  • Have a miscarriage
  • Get pregnant six weeks later
  • Run four times a week for the first 37 weeks of my pregnancy until I can’t run due to elevated blood pressure.
  • Have Andy on October 19, 2017!!!
  • Cleared to run two weeks later
  • Sign up  for 2018 Berlin Marathon
  • First week of December have an emergency appendectomy.  Can’t run again until January
  • Would have to be going back to work if I was still a teacher in the USA. However, I have am fortunate to be taking a year off here in Canada
  • Slowly get back into running and going to various stroller/baby mama boot camps
  • Run my first half marathon postpartum in April 2018 (farthest distance I had ran since June 2016)
  • Keep going to boot camps and training for the Berlin Marathon all while using a running stroller
  • Proud of my postpartum body but realize that my body did not become this way overnight

So you may still be thinking I should just say “Thanks” and move on.  What the issue I have is that strangers really should be mindful of both pregnant women and mothers before making comments.  Really, people should be mindful of just people in general before they make comments.  Its one thing to make these seemingly innocent comments to close friends or family, but why do people find the need to say it to strangers?

A friend of mine posted an article that had to do with someone asking a new mother the question “Are you Breastfeeding?”  I can see now, as a mom, why this question can cross the line especially if a stranger asks.

IT IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!

Sure, maybe we are breastfeeding.  Great.  If I answer yes to you, are you going to say “Congratulations?”  Maybe I tried to breastfeed but my baby was born so early that my hormones were all jacked and my milk never came in.  Maybe we chose from the start to feed our baby formula.  Maybe we are choosing to exclusively pump, which by the way counts as breastfeeding.  But then maybe that stranger will look at your cluelessly to why you are doing that.

I recognize that a lot of the times these innocent comments from strangers are meant with the best of intentions.  I am fortunate that I did not receive a lot of unsolicited advice while I was pregnant, and really I haven’t had a lot of that postpartum either.  But I know of friends who have felt the “mom-shame” before and I can imagine it sucks.  While the title of this post does not particularly seeming ‘mom-shame worthy” it is still putting a mom in a weird situation that could just be avoided.

Being pregnant with Andy and now being a mom has taught me a lot.  But honestly, one of the main things is to just bite my tongue.  When you are around new mom’s in a “mom group” and you don’t necessarily agree with someone’s parenting technique…is it really worth arguing about?  Same thing goes with social media:  someone says something you don’t agree with, say, in the political arena.  I’ma math teacher, not a social teacher….I’m not a political science expert. I keep my mouth shut and don’t chime in my two cents. (I do possibly hide some people from my newsfeed just so I don’t have to keep seeing our opposing views)

So next time you feel the need to say something, anything, to a stranger (or even a close friend or family) take a second to think if it is really a necessary comment.  Are you saying it to just make yourself feel better?  Are you saying it to incite turmoil?  Why do you feel the need to say it at all?  While we may have been brought up with the ideal that if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say it…maybe even save some of those seemingly innocent “nice” comments or questions to yourself.  You never know what the whole story is about a person.  And if you ask, you may open up a whole new can of worms.

My next World Marathon Major

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So, since I’ve been so scattered with my recaps and blog posts, I am not even sure of when the last time I mentioned the fact that I am training for a full marathon.  Not just any marathon, but the Berlin Marathon in Berlin, Germany.  Yes, this is one of the six Abbott World Marathon Major events.  The others are Chicago (completed in 2006), Boston (completed in 2016), Tokyo, London and New York.

I was not planning on running a full marathon this year.  When I was pregnant with Andy, I had told myself that the first year after having him would be just focusing on getting back with running and try to do some decent half marathons.  Fast forward to November 2017, approximately one month after Andy was born.  Dan comes home from race team and tells me that Runners Soul would be doing a travel group to the Berlin Marathon next September and that we should do it.  That’s right—my husband was the one who said we should do it (mind you he hadn’t ran a full marathon yet at this point…)  I would still be on maternity leave, so really…..we couldn’t say no!

I did my winter and spring running, getting my legs back at it and began to feel more confident in my postpartum body.  The training for Berlin would begin a week after the Red Deer Marathon weekend.  I decided to roughly use my same training calendar that I used when I ran Vancouver 2015 and qualified for Boston.

Pushing the running stroller is no joke.  It is definitely helping me with resistance training!  I usually run with the running stroller 3 times a week.  On my speed workout days, I try to wait until Dan gets home from work and then do those runs on my own.  And when we do our long runs on the weekend, Dan and I run together and alternate every mile or two with the stroller.

Berlin is less than 2 months away.  I feel ready, yet I don’t.  The reason why I didn’t want to do a full marathon in my first year postpartum was because I knew I would be hard on myself with the actual result.  Yes, I realize I had a baby less than a year ago, but I don’t want to go out there and be a shell of my former self.  My dream goal is to qualify for Boston again.  The weekend Berlin falls can count for the 2020 Boston Race, and at that race I am 35 and will be up an age group.  So the fact that I get an extra five minutes to my qualifying time makes me think there actually is a sliver of hope that I could do it.

I need a sub 3:40 to qualify.  My personal best is a 3:24.56, which was a 7:49 pace.  I am setting my sights on a sub 3:35 in Berlin, which would be a pace of about 8:11.  I can run 20 seconds slower per mile than I did back in 2015 and be able to qualify for Boston.  Seems doable, right?

But I also need to mentally prepare myself for if it doesn’t work out.  I can’t let potentially not qualifying ruin the rest of the trip.  I also do need to keep telling myself that YOU JUST HAD A BABY IN THE LAST YEAR and the fact that I am even going out there to do this event is pretty bad ass.  I am just going to keep picking away at my training calendar and hope that all the running I did while pregnant and all the running I am doing pushing Andy in his stroller will help me achieve the dream result-a return to Boston.

Wisconsin Race Recap

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From June 30-July 17th, I was back in my hometown visiting family and friends.  During that time, my husband and I were able to participate in a four mile race, and then I was also able to do a 5km race.

Firecracker Four

Firecracker Four is a 4 mile race held in Hales Corners, Wisconsin.  This is a suburb of Milwaukee, very close to where I grew up.  I had done this race years ago, and was excited to do it again.  It would be an 8 am start on the 4th of July.  I couldn’t think of a better way to start off this holiday!

It was HOT.  that is an understatement, actually…it was HOT AS FUCK.  The humidity was ridiculous.   I believe the “feels like” temp was in the 90s by 7:30 am.  Both Dan and I weren’t sure how we’d do since this felt like a large sauna.

We ran into my college friend Matt before race start, so it was nice to see a familiar face!  He was with his buddy Kevin, who also went to the same college as us.  They grew up in Hales Corners and always do this race every year.  They think it was the biggest turnout this year, with over 1100 people doing the 4 mile run (there was also a walk portion that had people too).  It was also the 40th anniversary of this event so that’s pretty cool.

Once the race started, I knew I wanted to just push as hard as I could.  This isn’t my normal race distance, so really I had nothing to lose.  One crazy thing was that before we even ran half a mile an ambulance had to come through.  Dan and I thought it was part of the race, but if you weren’t in the front pack you got stopped to let the ambulance through.

This route went through neighborhoods in Hales Corners.  There were a ton of people in their front yards and driveways cheering us on.  And these kind souls also had sprinklers going and hoses spraying us.  Seriously, I don’t think I would have ran as well as I did if it wasn’t for all the water being sprayed.  They also added a third water stop because of the weather.

I was able to hold on and finish with a time of 27:54, beating my goal of running 28 minutes!  I placed 99/1124 overall, 14/546 in female and 4/81 in my age group (just missed a medal!)  My splits were 6:35, 7:05, 7:11, 7:05.  And in true Wisconsin fashion there was a variety of beers at the finish line for us to enjoy.  8:30 am beers on the 4th of July is pretty damn American if you ask me!  USA!

Travelling Beer Garden 5km Race Series-Grant Park

Photo Credit to Jeff Crosby

Continuing where we left off at the Firecracker Four…..I did a 5km at one of the Milwaukee County Parks Travelling Beer Gardens.  Oh Milwaukee….you are amazing.  This park is located in South Milwaukee, right along Lake Michigan.  While it was still hot out, it wasn’t nearly as toasty as it was on the 4th.  And being so close to the lake helped because of the breeze.

Take note I had been eating like shit and drinking too much by this point in my trip.   It was July 12th and my body had been going through hell and back.  I really didn’t know how this would go, considering all the damage I’d done to my insides.  This race was a 6:30 pm start, with the “highlight” being that once you finish, you get a ticket for a free pint glass and beer at the beer garden.

I started out strong and felt like with this smaller field I would have a shot at being near the top.  The interesting thing about running races in a location you don’t normally run is that you don’t know your competitors.  When I am in Lethbridge I know who I should be pacing off of and who I am trying to catch.  Here, its a crapshoot.

I ran mile 1 in 6:30.  Alright, this is an epic pace for me.  If I kept this up, I would have a shot at a personal best.  The field had started to thin out, but there was one girl right in front of me.  I decided to draft off of her and hope for the best.  It was an out and back course, so at the turnaround I saw that I was comfortably in 2nd place, within reach of the female leader.

Mile 2 split was slower, at a 6:44.  I got my head in the game and knew I needed to push for that last mile to see what I could get.  I wasn’t sure if my body was going to give up and get another 15 seconds slower or if I could hold on.

I didn’t get slower, in fact, I got faster.  Mile 3 was a 6:36!  Holy Shit!  I kept pushing and pacing off the lead female and was able to come in right behind her with a chip time of 20:50!  The course measured 3.16 miles, so a little long, and other people also agreed that their watches measured it longer.  My time at the 5km point was actually a 20:30, which would be a personal best for myself!  I was extremely satisfied with my performance, placing 1/21 in my age group, 2/74 in female, and 8/156 overall.

The great thing about this night was that my mom and Andy came to watch (Dan had already flown home).  And while we were there, we saw a bunch of people who I knew…Mike & Christina with their kids, Lindsey who I ran with in high school, my friend Amanda and her husband Nathan….this is what is great about coming “home” to run.  I get to see people who I don’t normally see on a daily basis up here in Alberta.  I look forward to the next time we are back in Wisconsin and hope there’s a race somewhere that I can do!

June Recap

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In the spirit of doing one post a month….here’s my June recap.

In it, I’ll be talking about Coulee Cactus Relay, Ladiesfest 8km race, the kickoff to Berlin Marathon training, and what’s ahead!

Coulee Cactus Crawl

This event is run every June here in Lethbridge.  In 2013, I stupidly signed up to run it solo.  It is 35 km of coulee trail running and I was NOT prepared.  You can read about it here.  I had originally planned on going to watch Provincial Track & Field this year, but with bad weather in Red Deer (where it was hosted) being predicted, I decided to stay in town.  An acquaintance had mentioned a week before that they needed a fifth relay member to their team.   I reached out to her on social media to see if I could fill the spot…with the small…small….stipulation that I had a very small person who would need to be taken care of while I ran my leg (Andy).  I felt find in asking this because this acquaintance is the daughter of someone I taught with the past years at WCHS.  I asked if she could check with her mom if she wanted to play “Grandma” that day and the answer was YES! I was in!

This WAS SO MUCH FUN!  I was on a team with Emily, her boyfriend, her brother, and a friend of theirs.  Emily’s mom was there to help with Andy as we went from the different relay transition stages.  I was leg 2 of the race, and it was a shorter segment (5.75 km) so when I set off on my portion I was right in the midst of runners.  People could run solo or on a team, so early on many runners are closer together.  Knowing I only had to do less than 6km of the race versus a full 35km was incredible.  While I don’t train on the trails in Lethbridge, I felt comfortable on my leg of the race because 1.) I had been on portions of it before 2.) It would only be around 5.75 km long 3.) I was an early leg in the relay so we would still be right in the thick of things and surrounded by other runners.

The race weather was beautiful-full sun but a cool breeze.  We saw Evan off for the start of the race and headed to the transition area.  As we started seeing runners coming in I did start to get nervous.  I wanted to make sure I delivered!  We didn’t have to wait too long before seeing heaven making his way on the ridge of the coulee.  I got the timing band from him and off I went.  Since I knew I only had less than 6 km to run, I knew I could really try and push it.  My splits were 8:03, 9:25, 9:15, for the first three miles and then the last 0.84 was 9:47.  That last section included the lovely “Puke Hill.”  As I came in to the transition area and passed the band off to Wes, I immediately heard Andy WAIL!  I found out here had been so good the whole time waiting for me, but it was just at that moment that he lost his mind.

We had so much fun watching all the runners and making our way to the different transition areas.  Andy was really good too!  When we finished, Andy was even sound asleep in his stroller.  We were definitely one of the earlier teams to finish, but weren’t really sure of our standings until awards.  We found out we placed 3rd in the mixed team division under 40!  Our time was 3 hours and 22 minutes.  We all earned a nice handmade medal.  And all while waiting for the awards, we were able to sit in the picnic area at the Elks Compound and have Theoretically Brewing beer and tacos from Taco Time.  I seriously went home and told Dan that this was one of the best days EVER….running, time with Andy, time with friends, sun, beer, and food.

Ladiesfest

This was the second time I’ve done this women’s only race, with the first time being last year while I was pregnant (Ran a 43:54).  So, I pretty much knew I would get a personal best (barring an all out disaster!)  I got pretty nervous at the start of the race simply because of the sheer numbers of women in this event.  I do a lot of races in town, and there are never this many women!  Turns out there were 730 women in this race today!  I knew who I wanted to stay near while racing, so I headed out strong going down Wendy’s Hill with my mind focused on just doing the best I could.

Miles 1 & 2 went really well, but mile 3 was a struggle.  It got better at the turnaround while we were heading back to Whoop Up, because then we ran past all the other women behind us.  I saw lots of people I knew, got high fives, and most importantly, some motivation!  I pushed up Whoop Up Drive and was able to move up a placement overall as we did the final climb up.  I finished in a time of 36:46, which was actually 2:30 minutes behind 1st overall and then 1:30 minutes behind 2nd and 3rd overall.  I placed 4th overall!  My splits were 5:59, 7:08, 7:27, 7:19, 8:52.  It was a great feeling finishing this high on the leaderboard all while being about 7.5 months postpartum.  I also walked away with a handmade mug for placing 1st in my age group (1/117).

Berlin Training

I really have been meaning to do a full post on this, as it’s a very big deal!  We are just a few short months from the Berlin Marathon in Germany!  Dan and I had our kickoff party at Runners Soul a few weeks ago and got to meet everyone in town who is travelling out there.  I believe there are 17 runners in the group.

There are weekly long runs on Saturday morning that we can take part in.  We had our first one last weekend.  At just 10 miles, it isn’t that long of a run.  But, we now have a new challenge to these runs-the stroller.  Since Dan and I want to do the long runs together, we need to bring Andy with us along for the ride.  Literally.  We each took turns pushing him for about 2 miles at a time before switching.  It was a great training run, as we ran the 10 miles in a time of 1:25.44 with an average pace of 8:34 per mile.  I am really hoping that all this stroller training pays off when race day comes, as it definitely makes it a tougher workout!

What’s Next

Training for Berlin is the main focus this summer, and I am using my old Vancouver training plan.  It’s hard to find longer distance races during the summertime, but I did find two short races to do while I am home in Wisconsin.  Dan and I will be doing the Firecracker 4 on July 4th, which is a 4 mile race.  I am also doing the Storm the Bastille 5km event near the end of my trip, which is a night race in downtown Milwaukee.

May Days

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Having a kid puts a damper on being up-to-date on my blog posts.  So, since I did three races in May (a trifecta!  5km, 10km and a half marathon) and haven’t written about any of them, I am going to do a post on all three.  This may become a new way of doing things…!?!

3rd Annual Lakeview Superhero Run 5km

I have actually done this race all three years and this was my fastest one yet!  This race is always a Wednesday evening, and the past two years it was hectic getting there because I would have been working during the day.  This year it was even worse because I was trying to deal with stuff at home with Andy before Dan came back from work and  then I had to rush over to the race start.  After parking I got to the start area with less than 10 minutes before the beginning of the race.  Close call.

The weather had been gross all day long and thankfully it cleared up in the evening.  While I would not have minded some rain while running, this is a 2km and 5km race geared towards children and I know they would have been miserable had it been raining.  The 5km runners started first, and the 2km would begin shortly after.  It’s a quick loop from Lakeview School down the green strip towards Bullys, then around the east end of Henderson Lake and back.  I don’t know my splits, because in the rush around the house before heading here I realized my watch wasn’t charged.  Rookie mistake.  But I do know that I finished in a time of 21:57!  I am super proud of this as last year I ran a 25:57(albeit I was 15 weeks pregnant or so) but back in 2016 I ran a 22:16…I beat that!  This sub 22 time that I ran was my goal for my July race in Wisconsin, so now my goal for that 5km will be to beat this time!

20th Anniversary of Woody’s RV World Half Marathon in Red Deer

Dan and I often go and do this race because his family lives in Red Deer.  This would be my 6th time running this half marathon. More notably this would be Dan’s first full marathon!

The weather was the best I’ve ever experienced for this race.  The race starts and finishes right near Dan’s old high school.  I had originally made a lofty goal of running a 1:40 for this race.  When I started, I had some trouble with my legs.  They just felt heavy.  I really thought that I would be able to shake that feeling after a mile or so, but the heaviness and tightness persisted.  I ended up getting pretty frustrated at the 10km mark, but after I hit 9 miles I had a second wind so to speak.  My last four miles were very consistent and back to where they should have been all along.  Here are my splits:

7:26, 7:45, 7:46, 7:48, 7:50, 8:12, 7:54, 7:45, 8:09, 7:51, 7:50, 7:52, 7:53

My final time was a 1:42.28.  So, not in the 1:40 range like I was hoping but still pretty good.  I hope to get down into that 1:40 range or lower by the Lethbridge Police Half this fall.

6th Annual Fort Mcleod Willow Creek Wilderness Walk & Run 10km

The weekend after Red Deer was this little trail race.  My friend Angela and I headed out to Fort Mcleod in the morning.  She would be doing the 5km while I ran the 10km.  While it was advertised as a “Wilderness Walk & Run” I guess I didn’t really take into consideration that this would be a trail race, and not on paved paths.  Surprise surprise!

I would say about 90% of the route was either on gravel, pebbles, mud, dirt, or grass.  I was the leader of the 10km for the first two or three miles, which was col, but very mentally challenging.  With no lead bicyclist, I was starting to lose focus and drive to stay at my normal 10km pace.  My feet just kept sinking into the stones and I felt my pace getting slower and slower.

One guy did pass me and he stayed ahead of me for the duration of the event.  But having him in front of me helped me push a little more and get back on track.  Given the terrain of the race (and my loss of focus) my splits were all over the place.  (6:43, 7:36, 7:53, 8:05, 7:57, 7:46)  I was happy to see myself get my last mile back down a bit.  In hindsight, I probably went out too fast and had I known what the terrain would be like maybe I would have been a little less ambitious to begin.  My final time was 47:48, which was good enough for 2nd overall and 1st place female.  I got a sweet handmade ceramic mug as my prize!

So that was May!  It is already the first weekend in June, and originally I thought I only had one event this month.  But yesterday I joined a relay team for a local trail race last minute.  So who knows what else I’ll decide to do last minute….

Star Wars Half Marathon Recap

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In my final post regarding the Star Wars Race Weekend, I will finally talk about the Half Marathon.  In case you aren’t familiar with the RunDisney race weekends, they have all sort of evolved to having a “Challenge” option.  With exception to Marathon Weekend in January, every other race weekend has an option to sign up for both the 10km on Saturday and the Half Marathon on Sunday. (Marathon Weekend goes one step further and has the Dopey Challenge where you do the 5km, 10km, half and full….I did this in 2014 and that was my driving force for fundraising in memory of my late father)

Dan and I were both signed up for the Dark Order Challenge, so in addition to the 10km we completed on Saturday we would be running in a half marathon on Sunday.  We went to bed at a reasonable time Saturday night and then participated in a Groundhog Day style moment Sunday moment where I got up at 2:30 am to pump and we got ready and headed to the transportation to race start.

I did want to make sure we got closer to the front of our corral than we were for the 10km, so that meant we weren’t going to waste time wandering slowly in the open areas.  We walked all the way to the back portion of the staging area to use the farthest porta potties and then went to the holding pen for Corral A.  They eventually moved Corral A into the starting gate and we were only a few rows back from the very front.  Nice!

Waiting around is kind of boring at any race, so at least at a Disney race they have announcers, video footage, and characters to help pass the time.  Again, I am not a Star Wars fan.  I am not against it, or hate it, I just don’t know anything about it.  What I learned while standing there watching different trailers for new movies and highlights from old movies is that 1.) Good guys have blue and green light sabres and 2.) bad guys have red light sabres.   Am I right?

Onto the race….

I knew this would be interesting because this would be the first Disney race challenge that I would try and ‘race’ back-to-back events.  I usually will race one of them, and take the other easy.  For instance, in 2015 I raced the Disneyland 10km and then for the half marathon I ran with Ali pacing her to a personal best.  Really, that’s the smart thing to do.  But I wanted to push.  Dan agreed to run along with me this race so at least I’d have him by my side.  Race started and off we went!

I knew the first miles of the course were technically just like the portion of the full marathon from after the monorail hotels.  But this would be different because at 5:30 am it would still be dark.  I was nervous it would be as boring as the previous days’ 10km, but both Dan and I were pleased the the first couple miles that were heavily tree-lined also had lots of lights, music, sound effects and photo stops on the side.  We weren’t stopping for any photos but it is still nice to see these up ahead and to look at them as you run by.

By the time we got to Animal Kingdom, we were getting warm.  The humidity was bothering me more today than Saturday, and I am not sure if it was more humid even or if it was just the fact that I knew I had more miles ahead of me than I did the day prior.  I tried not to think about it when we ran through Animal Kingdom, and I actually forgot about it briefly when Dan and I had some man draft behind us for about a mile who had the most annoying breathing pattern.  I kept trying to speed up to lose him but he kept creeping behind us and right between us.  GO AWAY!!!!  I eventually slowed a tad just to let this guy through because I was ready to lose my shit.  This was at about the time we were running through Pandora so I didn’t really get to take in all the scenery as I was just annoyed with this man. If anyone knows the man in the photo below between Dan and I, please let him know he should not sidle up to others. Thanks.

We made our way out of Animal Kingdom by way of Dinoland and hit an aid station.  Dan and I were so thirsty that we decided to powerwalk through the aid station to drink Powerade and dump water on ourselves.  Did I mention it was humid?  Shortly after this aid station we made a joint decision:  we would walk through every aid station and pound Powerade and dump water.  It would be needed for survival.  Ultimately, I am glad we did this even though I know our time was slower because of the walking.  But if we hadn’t, the final time may have been even worse because we would have been piles of crap.

Also as we left Animal Kingdom I did an unheard of thing for myself: I took my tanktop off and ran in my sports bra.  I may wear revealing bikinis on the beach, but when I work out or run or do yard work I do not like just being in a sports bra and shorts.  Just not my thing.  But again….the humidity was terrible.  Dan encouraged me to do this, as he had already taken his top off and felt better immediately after doing so.  I will admit it did feel great to get the top off.  I didn’t ditch the top, as it is one of my favorite LuluLemon tops, so I wrapped it around my water belt.

After making the decision to take it easy through the aid stations and shed my shirt, Dan and I both relaxed and had a lot of fun!  We still tried to keep up a good pace, but my legs were getting pretty tired, most likely due to the 10km from the previous day.  We were also getting hungry!  I think our early 5pm dinner the night before, the smaller breakfast that morning, and my pumping before the race all played into my hunger pains.  The Powerade provided some liquid calories and sugars to keep us ‘up’ and then when we got to the food station we both took two packs of the Sport Beans to eat.  We needed fuel bad!  Once we got to Hollywood Studios, however, I knew we could both muster the necessary energy needed in order to finish strong.

While we didn’t stop for any photo stops, we did get lots of great Photopass picutres taken of us.  During the food station I actually took some time to get my race bib off of my sweaty, wet tank top and put onto my water belt.  This was important because your race number IDs you for the photos!  Since my mom is an annual passmember she gets Photopass included and she could register our race bibs on her account.  So ‘free photos’ if you want to use that term loosely!

We finished the race with an official time of 1:50.35.  Dan’s time did not show up on RunDisney and I am thinking it is because he ruined the timing chip on his bib the night before.  After running the 10km, he took his shirt and wrung it out because it was soaked, completely crumpling his bib.  I pointed out he needed to use it the next day and the look on his face was so crushed.  Our splits were as follows (and for the record my watch recorded the distance to be 13.3 miles.  I glanced at my watch when it hit the 13.1 and the time was around 1:49.14)

I don’t know when the next RunDisney race weekend that we attend will be, but I know this won’t be the last!  We really did enjoy ourselves, from the well-planned out expo, to me running beyond my goal time in the 10km, to us running together as husband & wife in the half!  You don’t necessarily need to be a ‘fan’ of the race theme to have a great time at the race weekend!

Note: I have extra medals compared to Dan because I had registered for the Kessel Run Challenge in addition to the Dark Order Challenge.  This meant I did the Start Wars Virtual Half Marathon at home, earned that medal, PLUS the Kessel Run medal at the completion of this race.  RunDisney sure knows how to take my money….bling bling.

Star Wars 10km Recap

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When we planned our trip to Disney, I asked my husband if he wanted us to try and incorporate a race weekend into it. Since we both agreed that it would be fun to do a race weekend, (and more so since my mom would be there with us so she could watch Andy on race mornings) we went ahead and planned our trip around the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend.

I am going out on a limb here and saying that this race weekend has some hardcore Star Wars fans. Sorry, but Dan and I aren’t. Well, Dan has seen all the movies and enjoys them. I will admit that I have only seen the third movie in the original instalment….yes, I suck. So with all that being said, our takeaways from the race weekend will be a little different than those of people who are hardcore Star Wars fans.

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We arrived to Disney on Thursday of race weekend. We headed over to the Expo at around 5pm that night. I am usually at Disney race expos right when they open at the morning, and the last time I went in the evening was Wine & Dine 2013. I need to give two huge thumbs up to what I view as positive changes at the Disney Expo. The official Run Disney merchandise is no longer in the main exhibition hall. They have it in a separate field house. The last few years the lines to get into the exhibition field house were CRAZY and it was all because of the official merchandise. Now, we weren’t at the Expo first thing so I am not sure how crazy the lines were in the morning. But Dan and I were able to casually walk in and look at merchandise without having to wait. I hope they keep it like this!

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Now onto race morning! RunDisney events are still very early and that poses a challenge in itself. My alarm went off at 2:30 am…gross. I had it this early so I could pump before we headed out. I woke Dan up at 3:20 am, and we were out the hotel door by 3:45 am. Getting on the provided transport to the start area was a breeze and we were dropped off shortly after 4.

This was the first RunDisney event I’ve done where we start at the Ticket & Transportation Center parking lot. A major pro in this start area is that you do not have an epic journey to the corrals like you do when it starts at EPCOT. There are also TONS of porta potties.  We made our way into the corral at what I thought was a decent enough time ahead of the start (30 minutes) but we were kind of stuck in the middle of the pack.  The corrals for the 10km are a bit frustrating because if you are a runner doing just the 10km, you don’t need a proof of time submitted.  You just submit an estimated pace per mile and your are assigned a corral that way.  So there are presumably some runners in the corral who should probably not be in corral A.  I made Dan hold my hand as I weaved our way up towards the from 1/3 of people.  I gave up trying to get closer to the front at that point.

Race started at 5:30 am.  Dan and I were both going to race it the best we could, and not necessarily stay together.  Had to do some careful zigzagging the first 400 metres or so to get around people who didn’t really properly self-seed themselves.  But then we were good.  Dan was ahead of me to start and I just tried to hold my own.  My goal going into this race was to run in the 45 minute range.  I set this goal back in January when I made running goals for the year.  I wasn’t really sure if this was too lofty of a goal being that I ran a 47:13 in mid March at Moonlight Run 10km. But I figured I would just push it and see what happened.

I will say this about the race; the first 5km was so boring.  Once we go away from the Ticket & Transportation Centre (which was by half a mile) we were just on a boring straight away of darkness.  There was really nothing to see and no entertainment around.  I then just had to focus on every female runner that was ahead of me and kept my mind thinking about catching each one.  This gave me something to think about while running, because otherwise there was absolutely nothing to see.

The humidity was bothering me a bit, but I made sure to grab water at the water stations and dump it over my head.  It wasn’t that ‘hot’ outside, but I was getting sweaty very easily so I knew I needed this water dumping to cool off and keep myself sane.  It wasn’t until mile 4 that we actually got to some scenery.  This is when we entered Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

At this point in a 10km I usually struggle a bit.  Normally I struggle because I may have pushed my first mile way too fast and I’m now suffering because of it.  While my first mile was fast at a 6:47, it wasn’t ridiculous and in the low 6:00 range.  I’ve done that many times before and then my legs are just beat by mile 4 and 5.  By the time I got to mile 4, my first four splits were 6:47, 7:03, 7:14, and 7:08.  I had actually picked up a bit in mile 4!

I had a lot of fun from mile 4 until the finish.  Since we were now inside the parks and hotel areas, there were lots of photographers.  As hot and sticky as I was, I still managed to smile and wave whenever I saw a photographer.  I was being competitive in the race but also trying to stay light hearted and have fun.  It was somewhere between mile 5 and 6 that I saw Dan.  I could tell the humidity was getting to him.  I caught up to him and hoped that it would keep pushing him and that we’d finish together.  Spoiler: we didn’t, as I did stay ahead of him during this race.  But during the half, we ran together and if we hadn’t I think he definitely would have finished before me (more on that in my next post).  I ran mile 5 and 6 in 7:14 and 7:25, respectively.

When I crossed the finish line, my official time was a 44:58!!!  HOLY SHIT! I not only achieved my goal but surpassed it!  The distance on my watch read 6.30 miles, which is common in a race like this due to crowds and weaving in extra distance.  I was so excited with my time and I hung past the finish line for a few seconds to wait for Dan to cross so I could tell him.

By the time we walked through the post race area and got on the bus back to the hotel, unofficial results were coming in on the RunDisney result page.  While I was hoping for an age group award, what I came to find out was that I was one of the top 10 female finishers.  I did not see that coming!  After all was said and done, I was the 10th female finisher in the race, out of 6005 women!  Keep in mind, a lot of people do RunDisney races for different reasons.  Many people are doing them as their first race, and because of the required race pace many people will walk.  But regardless, I was ecstatic!  I did get my age group award I was hoping for, placing 2nd out of 940 in the 30-34 female division.  RunDisney will mail the awards in the next coming weeks so I look forward to receiving it.  The icing on the cake for this race was that Dan and I were back to our hotel by before 7 am and Andy and my mom had not woken up yet!  Time to wake them up and start our Saturday!

Andy’s 1st Vacation

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Call us crazy, but the first vacation we took our son on was to Walt Disney World. And if you want to call us crazy, just keep it to yourself. You see, I know that Andy won’t remember anything from this trip. After all, Andy turned 6 months the day we left on the vacation. But Walt Disney World is a place I feel very comfortable in travelling to. This blog started as one about “Walt Disney, Running and my Dad.” Those three things all tied together for this “first vacation” as we we brought Andy, who was named after my late father, to Disney World…Dan and I ran in the Star Wars First Order 10km & Half Marathon Challenge…and on the day we left it was 14 years since my father passed away. So to go to Disney with baby Andy and run a 10km and half marathon one day after another while surrounded by the memories of the trips my family made together in the past makes sense!

Is traveling to Disney World with a 6 month old for everyone? Probably not. Like I said above, I have been to Disney a lot. I could take the time to count the individual trips but I believe I am now over 20. I am familiar with the resort enough that I figured it would help ease the stress of travelling with an infant.

And trust me…it did.

The first airplane ride was going to be a challenge no matter wheee we were going. I booked the tickets before Andy was born, and in my head I figured a red eye would be ok because “he would sleep.” Well. He maybe would have slept better if Dan and I hadn’t tried to stick to our “plan” so much. We assumed that having him in the Ergo chest carrier would be just fine while we flew. But really, he got too warm and was PISSED. He did better the second portion of the trip after our connection because we just swaddled him in his blanket and laid him across us. So rule #1-don’t stick to what you think will work best, because ultimately the baby will tell you what does!

One thing I was anxious about in the general travelling issues with this trip was travelling with breast milk. I was bringing about 2L of frozen milk in a soft sided carrier (Dan’s personal item for onboard) and then a few bottles of fresh milk. We had no issues going through security and customs. So easy!

Pumping while flying is a different story. I had originally wanted to keep my fresh supply the same as normal, but after the terrible red eye flight I was so tired and worn out. I had thought I would pump in the Priority Pass lounge in Toronto but I forgot to pack my ID card and couldn’t remember my log in information on the app. So I pumped in some sketchy corner of the airport. Instead of worrying about pumping at the airport in those conditions, I should have just breastfed. I’m not 100% confident in my breastfeeding abilities, which is why I stray away from it, and I don’t like not knowing how much he intakes during a session. But doing this on the flight did help calm him down and also made it easier than dealing with pump parts. If you are a breastfeeding mama who does give the baby a bottle with expressed milk, I strongly encourage bringing frozen milk on a trip because once we arrive to our resort I stored the milk in the fridge. The frozen milk was thawed slowly and used within two days. This gave me time to build back my fresh supply from pumping. It also allowed us to be relaxed on the trip and not have our plans dictated by a pumping schedule.

Going to the Disney parks with Andy was definitely different than any of my previous trips where I’d gone with family or friends. I knew that we’d have to definitely do it in pieces with an afternoon break. As the trip progressed we really did listen to Andy on when it was time to go home. For instance, our second Magic Kingdom day we had a Splash Mountain fastpass after lunch. Andy was getting tired, and if we did the fastpass we would probably be adding on another hour to our day before getting to hotel. While Andy did fall asleep in the stroller or chest carrier on this trip his naps in those positions weren’t of high quality. Getting him back to the hotel for a proper nap was key. It also allowed us to enjoy the evening more. What worked for us-we’d get back to the hotel for his nap. I would pump and dan would get him settled. Dan would take a nap too and I’d go to the pool. We could usually count on 2 hours of a nap for him in the pack and play, so he’d be ready to go for a short evening at EPCOT then!

Andy did a handful of rides: at Magic Kingdom he did People Mover, Dumbo, Small World (ate a bottle during 3/4 of it), Peter Pans Flight (asleep in chest carrier the whole time), Voyage of the Little Mermaid and saw Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theatre (unimpressed but good). At EPCOT he did Nemo (just wanted to stand up the whole time), saw fish at Living Seas (was wide eyed), Gran Fiesta Tour Boat Ride in Mexico (loved it and did great) and Frozen in Norway….whoops, sorry Andy for scarring you for life! He was getting tired during our fastpass time but I strapped him to my chest and we road anyway. What the picture doesn’t show is that he is wailing so loud as we go down that little hill. It was too loud and too much for him. He screamed as Elsa sang “LET IT GO!”

At Hollywood Studios the only thing he did was get pictures with Minnie & Mickey. And at Animal Kingdom he road Kilimanjaro Safaris and went on the Pangani Forest Trail. Andy is happiest in the morning so we made sure to do the safaris first thing. I was nervous since it’s a 20 minute ride, but I had him in the chest carrier looking out and when he started to fuss we distracted him by giving him solid food (those dissolvable crackers for babies). Worked so well! One of the moms in my Mommy Connections class suggested those so I’m glad we bought them before the trip.

If you go to Disney and want to do the rides, using Baby Swap/Rider Switch is a must. I knew it existed, but did not really understand how to best utilize it. A friend and her husband explained it to me a few days before leaving and it was well worth using! You could also plan fastpasses a bit better if you wanted to try to do more rides and do rider switch, but we just stuck with our original plans. The key component is that rider switch is good for up to three guests. If you have a fastpass, your whole party & Baby go to fastpass area to check in. (They need to see you actually have a baby!!!). The ones who want to ride first go through. Since Dan and I would ride together first we scanned our fastpasses. Grandma waited with Andy. We receive a ticket (like the old paper fastpasses) to use at any time during the day. We always had Grandma ride it right away after we were done, but you could leave the attraction and go back to it later if you’d like. The awesome thing is that 1.) either Dan or I could ride again with my mom when she went and the other person stayed with Andy 2) my mom did not need a fastpass booked for this ride. Just return to fastpass queue with rider switch and they let you through. This could be extremely beneficial in trying to get difficult fastpass rides like Flight of Passage. You can basically use rider switch/baby swap on any ride in Disney that your baby would not be able to ride with you. If you have more rider switch questions, feel free to message me and I can try to help or direct you to someone who can explain better.

Dining with Andy went pretty well. We had one reservation a day. Some meals he slept. Some meals he was awake. Some meals he lost him mind. Just have food for baby and a sense of humour if you are bringing to meals at Disney. And really, having a baby crying at a dining reservation in Disney is the best place for it to happen! There are toddlers having tantrums and grumpy adults all around…a cute 6 month old with tears isn’t too bad. One thing we did change part way into our trip was our final dinner time. We had a 7:45 pm reservation, but Andy had been falling asleep at night by 7:30-8:30 pm. Changed it to 5:15 pm. Smartest move ever.

I could talk more about this trip, and I will in two other posts. Those posts will be recaps on the 10km and half marathon. But to end this post, taking Andy to Disney at 6 months worked for our family. Having my mom down there with us in a connecting room was a HUGE part to why the trip was a success and generally went smoothly. If it was just Dan and I down there with him I am not sure we would have enjoyed it as much. I know not everyone has that luxury to have a grandparent travel with them on vacation to help (she watched him in the mornings we did the races and on Sunday night when we went out) and we won’t have her on other family vacations. But for our first trip it helped tons! It was awesome seeing my mom spend time with Andy and getting him to giggle and smile. The pictures we have from this trip will be something we cherish.