Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Wedding Wednesday: My Sister's Engagement Party

My sister got engaged in January, so about a month ago, I threw her an engagement party. I was nervous about hosting a party indoors, because the layout of my house isn't ideal for big groups, which is why I typically do parties in the summer, when we can be outside. But February in Michigan doesn't allow for outdoor events, so I figured we'd make it work.

I decided to do a 1:00-3:00 pm time frame, and hold it open house style, so people could come and go as they pleased. I thought this might help alleviate some congestion in the house too. We did meat, cheese, crackers, pickles, olives, veggies & dip, caprese salad bites, and my sister-in-law made cupcakes (in the soon-to-be newlyweds favorite flavors: funfetti, red velvet, and peach cobbler). 

The weather didn't cooperate and we got a pretty big snow storm the night before into that afternoon, but there was a great turn out. There ended up being 20-25 people that came. It was a great way for the two families to meet each other, since many of them hadn't met yet. And of course, to celebrate my sister and her fiance!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Front Porch Decorating for Winter

I enjoy decorating our front porch for seasons and holidays. I guess it's not really a porch, more of a front step, but you get the idea. I never know how to decorate after Christmas, before Spring arrives. In Michigan, it's too cold to put any flowers out until April, at the earliest. So after I take down my Christmas decorations, the front of our house is kind of sad. 

When Commercial Palm Trees reached out to see if I would be willing to try a product, I thought it could be a great opportunity to give our front porch a little love. Commercial Palm Trees creates artificial palm trees for businesses, for both indoor and outdoor use. Check out the photos on their site, you can't even tell they are artificial palm trees!

I decided that a small, indoor/outdoor cedar tree would be perfect for our front porch. It adds a touch of greenery to liven it up during this weird, in between seasons phase we're in. For example, I took these photos this past weekend, when there was still snow. The past two days it has been in the 50s and raining non-stop. So all of the snow is melted and all the yards are a muddy mess. But it's going to get cold again in the next day or two. It's just a gross time of year. Can you tell I'm ready for Spring?

If you have any tips for sprucing up a front porch for winter, send them my way! I think I need a little something more, but not sure what that it is yet.

If you're interested in getting a silk plant to spruce your front porch or an area inside your home, use code "BLOGGER10" and get 10% off (except custom products) at Silk Plants Direct.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

2018 Goals

Since we're almost two months in to the new year, I thought I'd finally share my goals for 2018. I did this last year, and liked being able to go back and see how I did. Here's what I want to check off my list this year:

1. Read at least five books. I love to read, but haven't done much of it over the past couple of years. I'm currently reading The Magnolia Story and I really like it. It's a quick, easy read and the story is cute.

2. PR in two races. I'd like to beat my personal records in at least two races this year. I'm signed up for three so far, so we'll see what happens. 

3. House projects! I think this will always be on my list. I've already started a couple little projects, and I'm planning to start overhauling our upstairs reading nook and guest room today. I still have a long list of things I'd like to do, and I'm slowly checking them off, one by one.

Do make goals or resolutions each year? If so, what are they?

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Friday, December 29, 2017

2017 Goals Recap

This past January, I wrote a blog post with my goals for 2017. I thought it'd be fun to look back and see how I did with those.

1. Run a marathon. I did it. It's been over two months, and I still can't believe I actually ran a marathon (race recap here). I feel good about checking that one off the list!

2. Grow my blog. Big FAIL on that one. I had good intentions, but didn't follow through. It felt like working full-time and training for a marathon consumed all of my time last year, but I know those are just excuses. Hoping to work on this again in 2018.

3. Home improvements. I wanted to go room by room and "finish" them, but that didn't happen. I did a few things: re-did our bedroom closet, painted our living room and hallway, updated our gallery wall in the living room, updated our back porch light fixture, and built shelves for our bathroom and dining room. I still need to do posts to share before & after photos on a couple of those. Can't wait to do more in the coming year.

Overall, I didn't do too bad on my 2017 goals. I'm looking forward to writing down some goals for the new year. What are your goals/resolutions for 2018??

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Time I Ran a Marathon

Today marks five weeks since Kevin and I ran our first marathon, and I'm just now writing about it. It still doesn't seem real. I can't believe we actually did it. 

We had been watching the weather all week, leading up to the race. We were hoping it would change, but it didn't. Rain. And wind. And cold. We were going to get all of it. We didn't actually have any "waterproof" running gear. We had trained all summer and not once did we encounter any rain. Lots of hot, humid days, but no rain. Sure, we've run in the rain before, but not for 26.2 miles. The day before the race, we decided we should see if we could find something that might help us stay dry.

Saturday, October 14, we headed to the packet pick up/expo. We picked up our packets and each bought a Grand Rapids Marathon sweatshirt. We checked out the running gear at the expo and all of the rain gear was super expensive. We didn't want to pay $100+ each, so we decided to check out some other places. 

We ended up stopping at a golf course that was having an end of season sale on all of their gear. We each bought a wind/rain breaker-type shirt and decided that would be good. We spent that rest of the day at home, relaxing. It was hard to sleep that night. I was so nervous, but excited too. 

Sunday, October 15, we got up early, ate some breakfast and got ready. Kevin's mom, brother, and sister-in-law came and picked us up at about 6:45 am. We got downtown, parked, and heading to the start area. At this point, it was still dark, but the temps were in the low 60s. A little windy, but not bad. And no rain! We hung out for a little bit, took some photos, then headed to the start line.

before the race!

(Note: I had never run in a hat, ever, before this race. With the rain and wind that was expected, I was hoping it would keep it out of my eyes. Best decision ever.)

We got to the start line and it was getting real. We were doing this. And so were thousands of other people. Just a few minutes before the race started, it started pouring. We were soaked before we even got started. All we could do was laugh. There was nothing we could do about the weather, so no point in getting mad about it.

All the people waiting at the start.

Selfie in the start line before the rain started.
At 8:00 am, the race started. We were off for the longest run of our lives. I had serious doubts in myself. I thought for sure I would hit a wall, mentally, where I would think I couldn't finish. I had to tell myself to be positive the entire time. I was really careful not to start too fast, because I didn't want to burn out before the finish. We saw both of our families at the start, cheering us on. They were out there in the rain, getting soaked, just to see us start. That definitely gave me some energy and motivation right from the start.

After about mile three or four, I was getting too warm, so I took of my yellow long sleeve and ditched at one of the aid stations. Our feet were soaked already, but we kept going. I counted down every mile. I remember when we hit six miles, and I said "only 20 more to go!" In the back of my mind, I thought there was no way I could run 20 more miles. But we kept going. Only walking at the aid stations while getting a drink and/or fuel (I can't drink and run at the same time...I spill and choke lol). We saw Kevin's family around mile 2 or 3, and they took orders for dry clothes :)

Around mile ten, we were greeted by both of our families. They had towels and dry clothes. My coat was keeping me fairly dry, so I just wiped my face and hands off with the towel. Kevin put on a dry shirt and his wind/rain breaker. We were carrying dry socks in ziplock bags, and around mile 13, we ditched our sopping wet socks for the dry ones. But about a mile later, our feet were soaked again. 

Around mile 16 or 17, Kevin was having some cramping issues in his leg, so he insisted I keep going ahead of him, since I was feeling ok (I mean, every part of my body hurt, but I wasn't cramping). I hated going ahead of him, because we had trained together for four months, and wanted to do the race together too. But he kept insisting, so I ended up going ahead. 

Mile 20 was my fastest mile, by about a minute. I think that was the point where I realized I was actually going to do it. I was actually going to finish. I was going to run a marathon. I settled down, and got back on pace so that I didn't burn out before the last six miles were done. The last three miles were the hardest. I was so tired. Every part of my body hurt. I was wet and cold. But I kept going. And I did it. I crossed that finish line!

And not long after I finished, Kevin crossed the finish line. That's when the tears came. We did it. We both did it. Something that only 0.5% of the US population has done, and we did it. 

It rained, the entire time. For 5+ hours. It was also really windy. And the temps dropped all day. So while it started in the low 60s, it was in the upper 40s/low 50s when we finished. I think there may have been a brief time where it cleared up, but we were on trails in parks, with lots of trees. And since it was so windy, the water was blowing off the trees, so it felt like it was raining anyway. Even with the less than ideal conditions, we did it. I couldn't be more proud of us. The four months of training paid off, and we finished!

The course was great and the race director and volunteers were even better. They were out in that cold, wet weather for us. They handed us drinks and fuel, and cheered us on. I'm so thankful that the Grand Rapids Marathon was our first. Such a great experience! 

After the race, we went home, got out of our cold, wet clothes, took hot showers, and tried to relax. But we were so tired and sore, we couldn't get comfortable. No matter which way we sat or laid, we were uncomfortable. Around 6:00 pm, we decided to lay in bed and watch tv for the rest of the night. We both had to go to work the next morning, and that was rough. But not as rough as Tuesday. That was the worst day for me. I limped when I walked for about 4 or 5 days. Any slight incline or decline was torture. Steps were killer. I've never been so sore in my life. But I guess that's what running 26.2 miles will do :)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Running Fuel

Catch up on my running series with these posts:

When you start running longer distances, keeping your body hydrated and properly fueled is extremely important. This is definitely the part of running that I struggle the most with, and know the least about, but I'm learning.

Up until I started training for a marathon, I didn't use any special fuel. I just drank water and sometimes gatorade. When I would do races, I would drink some water at each aid station, and mix in gatorade a couple times if it was more than a 10k race. When I would do training runs, I'd just wear my running belt (talked about here) with two water bottles. But now that I'm running for 2.5 - 3+ hours for my long runs, I know I have to do more to keep my body fueled.

A lot of runners I've talked to use some form of Gu. I've tried it, but there's something about the texture that I just can't do. So, I've been using Gatorade Chews. They taste good and don't have a weird texture. They are kind of like a big fruit snack, which is probably why I like them. When I know I'm going to run more than 6 or 7 miles, I eat one chew every two miles. I don't wait until I start feeling like I need something, because it takes my body too long to recover. Every two miles I eat a chew and drink some water. So far, it's been working pretty well for me.

I've noticed that I start getting hungry around mile 11 or 12, so I think I may need to try and add more in to my runs. I've heard of people eating pretzels, cookies, oranges, and gummy bears during runs, so I may try adding one of those to my longer runs to see if it helps with the hunger.

I also make sure to drink lots of water the week leading up to a long run or race, and drink some gatorade the night before.

My advice would be to try a few things and see what works best for you. Everyone is different, but just make sure you are staying hydrated during your runs. And whatever you do during your training, don't change it up on race day, because you don't know how your body will react to something different. 

If you're a runner, I'd love to know how you stay fueled during long runs. I'm still figuring this part out, so all advice is appreciated!

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