Wednesday, October 17, 2018

What's Next?

I've actually had a lot of people ask me what's next as far as big running events. Of course we are continuing to run local races, to me there is nothing better than running a 5k for a good cause. 

Besides the one race I've done since coming back from Chicago, I have not run at all. It's not because I don't want to but I needed to take a break from the self imposed pressure to run. I promised myself that I would take 2 weeks off from consistent running and just enjoy the races we are doing. I'll go back to running 3-4 times a week but nothing significant until marathon training starts again in December. I have been enjoying a relaxed schedule of just going to SLAM. 

As far as big events (10 miler and above) here is what is on the schedule:

I just can't resist a good 10 miler. I know this course like the back of my hand (I ran it several times during training) and it's a good one. The only downside is that Kyle will be gone so that means I'll be pushing E. Several other Moms from SLAM will be doing it and pushing their kiddos, so it should be a great morning. My goal is to just have fun.

Here is where I get looked at like I'm nuts haha. This race is the day after the 10 miler. So that means pushing E for a combined total of 23.1 miles in 1 weekend. It could be worse right?! Ha! I registered for this race before we knew that Kyle would be gone but I'm committed now! 

Come February, I will be able to check off 2 more Disney races off my list! My sister and I will be running the Fairy Tale Challenge (10k and half marathon) and we couldn't be more excited! If you have never run a Disney event, I highly recommend it! There is no pressure and it is nothing but pure joy.

I am SO excited for this! This has been on my bucket list since it started and I can't wait. Kyle along with several other friends will be running the half marathon and it will be amazing to have them at the finish line waiting for me. Training for this will start December 1st and I will follow the same training plan that I used for Chicago. It served me well. Oh and if you're in the area and run to the full or the half use the code JENALLAMERICAN for 15% off! ;) 

Not counting these races, we have 7 others that we are doing. It's so fun supporting local communities and meeting new people! 

Monday, October 15, 2018

It Feels Like Fall!

Happy Monday!!

First, I just wanted to say thank you to those who reached out and asked how my family was doing after Hurricane Michael. They live in the Florida panhandle but thankfully they are okay. I am beyond grateful for that.

Last week felt like a blur and I didn't blog as much as I wanted. After returning from Chicago (you can read the recap here), E ended up in the ER with a rash (thankfully it was nothing serious and is already gone) and then we received remnants from Hurricane Michael. We had 1.5 days of constant rain and high winds. The only upside to that is that it brought cooler temperatures here that we have been desperately needing. 

Kyle was at Camp Lejeune for most of Friday but when he got home I knew I wanted to head out to enjoy the weather. We packed up and headed to our favorite farm here, Gross Farms. They have the best corn maze! It's about 5 miles in total and E rocked it. She had so much fun running around and finding the check points. She also enjoyed the views from Kyle's shoulders haha.
After we finished the maze we hopped on the hayride and E was so fascinated by everything. She loved seeing machinery.
Lastly, she raced over to the pumpkins. I'm pretty sure she tried to pick up every single one.
We didn't even get home until 8pm and it was so worth it!

Saturday was an early start for an 8k in Pinehurst! It's a beautiful golf community and we love running there. It was partial trail and I made the mistake of trying to keep up with Kyle haha. Not a good idea 1 week post marathon. It was for a great cause though and so worth it. 
That night I headed out with my SLAM ladies for a Mom's Night Out. I look forward to these every month and it's such a fun chance to get together and do something fun. This time we went to a make your own sign place and it was a blast. We were all able to pick our signs in advance and everything was ready for us when we arrived. I chose an outside welcome sign.
Everyone's signs turned out great!
It was definitely a great way to spend a few hours.

Sunday was more relaxed. We headed downtown to walk around and enjoy the weather. We grabbed lunch while we were out and then headed home to just hang out. We even managed to clean out our cars which was long overdue haha. Overall, it was a wonderful weekend!

I am definitely hoping to blog more in the coming weeks. I have been working on some content and hopefully can make it happen.

Hope y'all had a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Chicago Marathon Weekend

Well, it's finished! I finally checked the Chicago Marathon off my bucket list! 

I honestly don't know how I can put this entire experience into words. It far exceeded my expectations and I am still riding the high from this weekend. 

It all started on Friday when I arrived in Chicago. I headed straight to my hotel from the airport to get checked in and settled. My friends were due to arrive in a few hours so I opted to go to the Expo to pick up my race packet for Sunday. It was a few miles from the hotel but it was well worth the walk. The scenery was amazing and I stumbled across the start line for Sunday. Talk about surreal.
My friends, Lauren and Anne, arrived around 6 and it was so awesome to see them! We were all stationed in Kansas together and we haven't seen each other since May. It was a great reunion. We went to a local make your own pizza place for dinner and it was delicious!
They surprised me with this sweatshirt and card which was pretty awesome!
We were all running the International 5k together on Saturday and we woke up to rainy weather. I honestly thought the event was going to get canceled due to lightening but thankfully the bad weather passed and we were able to run! The 3 of us loved running together in Kansas and it was so fun getting to do it again.
After the race, we showered and changed, then headed out to site see! What a fun day it was! We walked all over the city. We went to Millennium Park to see the bean, had lunch at a delicious Italian restaurant, and then went to Navy Pier. We ended the night with cupcakes at Molly's Cupcakes (they have won cupcake wars) and lots of laughs. It was so great hanging out together again, it was like no time had passed.
The time had come for the big day! I was up at 5am so I could get to my corral at a decent time. I wasn't scheduled to start until 7:30am but I wanted to get there so I could relax and get mentally ready. All of the training was finally going to be put to use and I was ready.
It was a rainy day but the temperature was around 59 degrees which is ideal running weather!
I crossed the start line at 7:44am and I knew by the 5k point I had went out too fast I did my best to pull myself back but I just went with it and knew what I was capable of. I wanted to be under 4:30 but I didn't want to kill myself for that. 

I made a promise to myself to just enjoy the entire experience. The crowds and volunteers were absolutely spectacular! I saw my friends cheering me on at mile 2 and it was so fun hearing my name being yelled from the crowd. They managed to get this photo of me.
The atmosphere was absolutely electric and I've never experienced anything like it before. It honestly felt like the miles went by quickly because there was so much to focus on. I was feeling really good until mile 23, the top of my right foot started to hurt just a bit so I stopped and adjusting my shoes laces just to be safe. I pushed through and just kept telling myself that I could do this.

I made a conscious effort to smile the entire time. Even though it was raining almost the whole time, I couldn't help but smile. The constant high fives and words of encouragement were the best. The blaring music, dancing, and cheers coming from the crowd were second to none.
I remember hearing my friends yelling for me at mile 26 as I was turning the corner for the finish line. I saw the finish line and thought to myself, "you can do this, don't look at your watch, just go!" I crossed the finish line and had absolutely no idea what my official time was. I let out a huge sigh of relief and then the emotions came.

I immediately called Kyle and he told me: 4:27:14! I was over the moon! I accomplished my goal. The last 3 months of hard work had paid off. To run this with 44,570 other spectacular athletes, to include those running on blades, blind runners, wheelchair athletes, and others with disabilities, was unforgettable. Running a world marathon major was something I never thought I would get to do.
My phone was inundated with calls, texts, and Facebook notifications from family and friends. It was amazing having so much love, support, and encouragement from everyone. It means the world to me. I headed towards the runner reunification area so I could find Lauren and Anne. It was great seeing them afterwards! I'm so thankful that they took the time to drive up from Tennessee to spend the weekend with me and enjoy this crazy adventure!
It was an absolute honor to run this race for Homes for our Troops. We exceeded our fundraising goal by a lot and I couldn't be more proud of our team. I am so grateful to all those who donated.

This weekend was made possible by so many people. To all of my friends and my SLAM family for cheering me on every step of the way! Also, for helping me train and keeping me in shape! I was far more prepared for this marathon than I was my first and SLAM had so much to do with that. 

Most of all to my family who has supported me from Day 1 when I first said I wanted to run this. To my Dad for coming up here to help Kyle with E while I was gone in case the Army called. To my sister, brother in law, niece, and nephew for the constant words of encouragement and telling me I could do it (to include the video of congratulations they sent me!). But most of all to Kyle and E for ensuring that I could get my training runs done despite his hectic work schedule and providing me with the tools (a treadmill haha) to make it happen. They motivated me so much and never doubted for a second that I could do this.

I am so proud to call myself a Chicago Marathon Finisher.
If the stars align I will be back in 2019!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Weekend in Review

Happy October!!! It's hard to believe that we are so close to the end of the year already. 

We definitely took advantage of our time together this weekend and it was the best! 

Kyle was home relatively early on Friday (thank goodness!!!) and we headed out for an early dinner and grabbed some ice cream afterwards. We took a trip to Target to pick up a few things and E was happy as could be pushing the cart with Kyle haha.
We got home and I decided to put out some of our fall decor. I didn't want to overwhelm our porch but I love how it turned out.
It was an early night for us as we had a race on Saturday morning.

We got up early and headed off to Pinehurst for a 5k. This area is known for it's historic golf course. It's such a beautiful area and less than an hour from us. This race was held at a community college and much to our surprise ended up being a complete trail 5k. As usual Kyle was awesome and opted to push E. He was happy he did because that course was rough. It was really fun though! 
Much to my surprise I finished as 3rd overall female and 1st in my age group. 
We knew afterwards that we wanted to go on our first pumpkin patch trip of the season! We headed off to one about 20 minutes from us and we had so much fun! E loved picking up all the pumpkins, going down the giant slide, and running through the corn maze. She got to see a lot of farm animals as well.
It was such a fun way to spend a few hours.
Saturday night I had a Moms Night Out with my SLAM group and it was so much fun. It was at our SLAM boss Amy's house. We ate, tie dyed shirts, and got to check out some fun workout gear. It was nice to hang out with some great ladies!
Sunday was more low key but we still opted to go on an adventure. We drove up to Raleigh to go to the mall there, which if you ask me is pretty amazing. As soon as we walked in we decided to take E to Build A Bear. 
It was so cute watching her pick out her bear and then pick out the outfit. It was definitely a fun experience for her and for us. 

We ended the day with Chinese takeout and I knocked out my last long run before Chicago. 

It was a great weekend! I'm so glad we were able to pack so much into it. 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Let Me (Re)Introduce Myself

I've been seeing so many of my favorite bloggers do reintroduction posts lately and I thought it would be fun to do the same. 
I'm Jen! My husband, Kyle, and I have been married for over 10 years now. I'm not going to lie, that is really odd to write out because it doesn't feel like it has been that long. Despite being married for 10 years we have known each other for 22 years. We met in 6th grade history class back in our hometown of Las Vegas. Yes, that Las Vegas. Haha. He is one of the most loving, hardworking, caring, sarcastic, stubborn, and giving people I know. He has a quick wit and I just love that about him. 

I have my Masters degree in Psychology and will eventually find the right opportunity to put that to good use. I am extremely proud of that degree, because I worked my butt off to get it. For now, I am a SAHM and loving every second.
We are the very proud parents of a rambunctious and rad 2 year old named, Emersyn. She is our very precious rainbow baby. We struggled with infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss for 7 long years before we were extremely blessed with her. 
She is the perfect mix of both of us. She is cautious but determined and extremely sarcastic. Which is pretty impressive for a 2 year old. She has a mind of her own and does not let anything get in her way. I'm not going to lie, this makes me fear her teenage years haha.
We are a very proud military family. Kyle has been an active duty Army officer for the last 11 years. We have called many places home over the years. North Carolina, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Kansas, and most recently we have landed back in North Carolina. 
One of the things I am most passionate about is running. I began running 5 years ago and it has changed my life in more ways than I ever expected it to. I've logged thousands of miles and we have completed over 130 races. 
I'm also a tried and true member of Stroller Strong Moms. This group has been absolutely incredible for me. Being able to work out with other mamas and take E with me is the best. It has made me stronger, faster, and more confident. The best part is the friendships I've made and continue to make. It's been pretty amazing.
I am extremely close to my family! That bond was made even closer when my Mom passed away from cancer in 2011. You never realize just how much family means to you until something like that happens. 
So in a nutshell: I'm a wife, mom, runner, Disney fanatic, purveyor of sarcasm, Starbucks lover, and someone who truly enjoys living life to the fullest. 

I hope you have enjoyed getting to know me all over again!

Now that I've re-introduced myself, tell me about you!!! 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

12 Days.....

As of today I am 12 days away from running the Chicago Marathon. I honestly can't even believe that it's so close. When I started my training back in July, I felt like it was so far away but now I can see the finish line. 
I only have 8 training runs left and they are all relatively short distances. I ran my last double digit run this past Sunday and it was so gratifying. I know that I am ready but gosh the nerves are starting to set in. I know once I get to Chicago I will relax and the excitement will kick in. Also, to be able to run with Team Homes for our Troops is pretty darn special. I am really looking forward to meeting the rest of my team at our dinner that Saturday night. 

I am beyond thankful for family and friends who have supported me on this journey since I found out I was going to run it last November. I can't thank Kyle enough for encouraging me to do this, he has been my biggest supporter and cheered for me the whole way. I really wish he and E could be there with me but I know that's just not possible with his work schedule. I am thankful that my Dad will be coming up here to NC to help with E. It really takes a lot of the stress away. 

I am even more excited because two of my really good friends are driving up from Tennessee that weekend! We are all going to run the International 5k on Saturday and they will stay to watch me run on Sunday. It will be so fun to explore the city, run together, and just have a good time. It means a lot that they are coming. 
The bottom line is, I'm ready. I'm ready to check another marathon off my list and I'm ready to put all of this training to use. I am ready to see that finish line and know that hard work, determination, and the support of so many people got me there. 

Friday, September 21, 2018

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!! 

Can I just say that I'm extra happy that today is Friday!? Why you ask? Kyle comes home this weekend! It has been a long few weeks so it will be great to have him back until his next TDY (and I've already made an appointment for a pedicure haha). 

It's been a while since I've shared some of my favorite things, so there is no time like the present!

1. Heavy weights SLAM class. 

Now you all know I love my SLAM classes. In Kansas we typically stuck to our normal HIIT workouts, running, etc. However, when I got back to NC I discovered my SLAM here does a heavy weights class and it's AMAZING!!!! We work with weights that range from 20-50 pounds, it works muscles I never thought I was had. Let me just say that doing goblet squats and deadlifts with a 50 pound weight is intense. I look forward to this class every single week.
2. An organized pantry

Prepping for the hurricane forced me to organize this space. It always just seemed so disheveled with things thrown everywhere. I finally cleaned out all of the baskets and got rid of stuff we didn't need and sorted the can goods. It's amazing how more relaxed I feel when I open those doors haha. 
3. Cinnamon Streusel Cake

This cake is divine!!!! The recipe is so easy but it does take an hour to bake and that's the worst part haha. It's great for breakfast or dessert. I highly recommend making it! 
4. Cat and Jack Halloween clothes.

Target gets me! Haha! They know I have zero impulse control especially when it comes to buying clothes for E. Adding in Halloween patterns makes it even more difficult to say no. How cute are these leggings?! I snagged the last pair of 2T at our Target. I also picked up a few Halloween long sleeve shirts and a pair of pajamas. E is ready for some spooky Halloween fun!

I am very picky about what type of mascara that I use. Every since I had LASIK my eyes are extremely sensitive. Certain types of mascara would cause my eyes to water and I had to be careful which ones I used. Finally, I found one that doesn't irritate my eyes. A good friend of mine sells Arbonne, and she suggested this mascara. GAME CHANGER!! I absolutely love it and have had no issues for the last 6 months that I've been using it. I honestly was expecting to have to change brands after a few months but nope. It's pricey but so worth it to me. 

What are some of your favorite things lately?

Hope y'all have a great weekend!