Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Running for a Reason: St. Jude Heroes Pre-Race Pasta Party

After an uneventful trip to Nashville Friday morning and wandering around the expo for an hour or two, Mr. Smith Summary and I got checked into our hotel for the night and then headed back to Music City Center for the St. Jude Heroes Pre-Race Pasta Party.

When we arrived at Grand Ballroom A, we were greeted by the St. Jude Heroes staff who lined both sides of the entry way, cheering for us as we walked in.  It reminded me of when football players enter the field before a game.  I felt like a superstar!

Once we found a table we went outside to the buffet.  They had SO much food to chose from!  Salad, grilled vegetables, two different types of pasta with two different sauces, and of course, bread.  Once we filled our plates we went back in to take our seats.

The program began with a welcome from the emcee for the evening, Suzanne Alexander, the host from GAC Daily Countdown.  She then introduced the St. Jude/ALSAC Chief Administrative Officer, Emily Greer, who announced the top fundraising individuals and groups.  I was amazed to hear that the Country Music Marathon St. Jude Heroes collectively raised 1.3 million dollars for St. Jude!  

We were then introduced to the Moody family, whose daughter Lela is a St. Jude patient.  Jeff Moody came to the stage and spoke about his daughter, who was diagnosed with retinoblastoma at just 6 weeks of age.  He along with his wife Mandy made the brave decision to have her eye removed because of the cancer.  He was running his first marathon on Saturday in honor of his daughter.  Sadly, Lela's cancer has returned but they have so far been able to spare her second eye.  Lela joined her dad at the microphone; she is now 2 years old and reminded me so much of my little Morgan, I just about lost it at the table.  I'm pretty sure there was not a dry eye in the house when he finished his story!

Jeff and Lela - Photo provided by St. Jude

While we munched on the yummy mini-dessert tray at the table, 3 singer/songwriters from Nashville got on the stage next to entertain us for a bit with some of their work - Gordon Kennedy, Jaron Boyler, and Michael Tyler.  They each sang two songs that they had written, acoustic style.  I was familiar with Gordon Kennedy's "Change the World" (recorded by Eric Clapton for the movie Phenomenon) but the others I had not heard, and a few have not been recorded by an artist yet.  I told Owen we might have just heard the next #1 country hit song tonight!

After the music ended, Suzanne politely told us to "go home" and get rest for the big day!!  The entire event lasted almost two hours but it went by so quickly - I have to say it was the highlight of the weekend!

We were getting ready to head back to the hotel but I couldn't resist a picture in front of the St. Jude backdrop.

Running 13.1 miles for St. Jude in the morning - but first - #LetMeTakeASelfie

To find more information about becoming a St. Jude Hero, click here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I've Got My Game Face On

It's race week!!!

This Saturday I will #RunCMM - and even though I haven't done quite as much hill training as I would have liked, I am hoping for a decent performance Saturday.  Not gunning for a PR, but rather for my "Nashville PR" as I call it - or less than a 2:30.

I'm feeling stronger than ever now that I have been incorporating cross- and strength training into my weekly workouts.  I know this will really come in handy when I begin training for the Goofy Challenge this fall.

My #RunCMM playlist is loaded to my iPod (thanks to everyone for their song suggestions!) and I've listened to a few songs during the week this week to help me get my game face on.  My initial thoughts going into this weekend were just to run it and not worry about a PR or anything like that, but watching the Boston Marathon on Monday only inspired me to give this race my best shot!

I haven't said much this week and honestly I might not post again until after I get back from Nashville.  I do have something important I want to talk about but I will cover that next week, along with what I hope will be a very positive race recap :)  If you will be in Nashville this weekend, I hope to see you!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

March and April Jost Virtual Races

I was provided free entry to the Jost Virtual Race Series in exchange for my blog review.  As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

Jost Running's theme for their March races was Spring Forward - and although Mother Nature apparently wasn't participating in any of these virtual races, I sure was!

My March race bibs

For March I participated in the 10K and the half marathon.  The 10K I had on my schedule as a training run; for the half marathon I combined two training runs to get the full 13.1 miles, which, again, is the beauty of a virtual race!

I submitted the times for both events on Jost's newly improved website, which is super easy to use.  I love how it shows my rank and my time.

For April the theme is Unplugged, a tribute to what running is for many of us - a chance to step back from the hustle and bustle of our busy lives and clear our heads.  They are also encouraging us to unplug from music and other distractions on our runs this month, which is little scary to me because I always run with music unless I am running with a group.  But yesterday afternoon I tried it and I actually really enjoyed the peacefulness as I ran through my town square; it's something I need to do more often!

My bib for the the April 5K

I ran this on Monday morning with my local running group.  I plan to earn my half marathon medal next weekend when I run the St. Jude Country Music Half Marathon - two medals, one race!  #FTW

All of Jost's April races benefit Best Buddies, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to establishing a volunteer movement that will create one-on-one friendships, employment, and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  There is still time to sign up for any of the April races - simply click here to get started!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Big Plans

I hinted a few weeks ago that I had hired a running coach because I had big plans for an upcoming event.

Well, this morning, I registered for that event - this thing just got more real.


Several of the DisBroads had been discussing reuniting in January for Marathon Weekend and capping off an epic racecation by completing their first marathons!  So I thought long and hard and talked with several people and decided I would join them - but I'm not just doing the marathon with them.

I'm gonna run the half marathon the day before too :)

#GoBigOrGoHome is my motto these days, and Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge is about as big as it comes.  Except maybe the Dopey Challenge and I am not ready to go there - yet.

It's time to switch gears yet again - this time, I'm moving my focus back to distance and endurance, and with the help of my coach, I will earn this bad boy in January - and still be able to celebrate in the Magic Kingdom afterwards :)

Anyone else register for a Marathon Weekend event this morning?  General registration opens next Tuesday for those that could not register today with their Annual Pass or DVC membership.  I hope to see you in January!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

#RunCMM Playlist

Hard to believe I will be back in beautiful Nashville next weekend to run the St. Jude Country Music Half Marathon!  It's been awhile since I've changed up the playlist on my iPod so I thought I'd get started on that this week to get ready for next weekend.  With the wonderful rolling hills in my state capital, I'm going to need some upbeat tunes to keep me going.  Here are some new songs I'm looking to add to my playlist:

(Keep in mind I haven't changed up my list in AWHILE so some of these might not be newer songs but I still enjoy them and don't have them yet)

"Happy" - Pharrell Williams

"Not A Bad Thing" - Justin Timberlake

"Ain't It Fun" - Paramore

"Roar" - Katy Perry
Side note - Can I have those arms please?

"My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark" - Fall Out Boy

"Here's To Never Growing Up" - Avril Lavigne

"Dark Horse" - Katy Perry

"Love on Top" - Beyonce

I could use a few more suggestions - did your favorite make my list??  If not, leave me a comment so I can add it!

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Visit with Oakley

Last week my big girl was "Owl of the Week" in her class (think Star of the Week).

Part of being OOTW is getting to bring home the class mascot, Oakley the Owl, for a few days.  Oakley came home with Samantha on Monday and we had big plans for him during his visit!

Samantha welcoming Oakley to our home

Oakley helping Samantha with her homework

Oakley riding in the car

After all that hard work, he needed nourishment!  So we took him to Cracker Barrel for dinner.

While we waited on dinner, he played checkers with Samantha and Papa

The next day we took him to the school fundraiser night at our local fro yo shop

And then we took him to Kroger - sorry Oakley, they were all out of mice.

Sadly Oakley had to go back to school so he could go home with the new OOTW but we sure had a fun visit with him!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sparkle for St. Jude Winner

I cannot thank all of you enough for all your generous donations to St. Jude!  

And I am extremely excited to share that thanks to all your help, I not only met but EXCEEDED my fundraising goal for the St. Jude Country Music Half Marathon!!


I am so very humbled by all of your generosity.  I love to see the running community join together to support good causes like St. Jude - it brings a smile to my face!

You know what else brings a smile to my face???  Announcing giveaway winners :)

Soooo....a big congratulations is going out to

#11 - AMY ALBERS!!!

Thank you for your donation to St. Jude!  I will be in touch with you regarding your Sparkle Skirts prize.

Just because the giveaway is over and I have reached my goal doesn't mean you can't give!  If you'd like to donate, please click here.  #ItsForTheKids

Thanks again to everyone for all your support!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I Get By With a Little Help from My Friends

I mentioned that I have gained some weight since the beginning of the year and that I was back to using My Fitness Pal to track my calories - but that's not the only thing I'm changing up.

I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned this on the blog before but SEVERAL years ago, I was a certified Jazzercise instructor.  Yup, true story.  I began taking classes after I gained about 30 post-wedding pounds and between classes and counting calories I lost almost 50lb before I graduated pharmacy school.  I was so pleased with it that I became a certified instructor in the spring of 2006 and I taught classes until I had to resign after miscarriage #1 in 2010.  In addition to my OB putting me on pelvic rest when I became pregnant again (and then ultimately lost that baby also but talking about that would lead into an entirely different discussion), I also had some female issues that were only getting worse with the intense cardio workouts (I'll spare you the details).  Needless to say, after Morgan was born and I had these issues addressed I was looking to get back into working out and decided to do Couch 2 5K with a friend at work.  We didn't run together, but we followed the same schedule and supported each other.

I've been running now as a sole means of working out for two years.  I'll try to do a cardio video or some strength training on my own at home but let's get real here - more times than not, it doesn't get done, or I don't perform at the intensity that I need to to get the desired results.  I've been thinking long and hard about the difference between how I worked out in 2006 and how I work out now and why I'm not seeing similar results, and I know there are probably several reasons but today we're gonna talk about just one - having friends to do it with.

You see, when I was a Jazzercise instructor there were days that I dreaded getting up and going to teach a 5:15am class - BUT I did it - because I KNEW there were people there waiting on me; friends who motivated me to push myself each and every workout.  And while I have friends that run, they usually do not run with me, or do any other workout videos with me.  And I think that makes a big difference.

So there's some truth to the song - I Get By With a Little Help from My Friends.  Because I really do.  And while my BRFs are some of THE MOST WONDERFUL ladies I have ever met (DisBroads, looking at you!), I decided I needed a local group too that could motivate me as much as my broads do.  Now that's some pretty big shoes to fill, and I didn't want to have to travel far - so lucky for me, there's a local fitness group in my town that fits the bill.

I did my first group run with the LiveFit ladies this past Saturday and immediately felt welcomed to the group.  Think Moms Run This Town, but right in my back yard, almost literally.  One of the ladies I happen to be running with that morning is one of the group fitness instructors and we were discussing how cross-training and strength training are all important to runners too (things I knew but never really put into practice), and I decided with two injuries practically back-to-back, it would be good to make cross- and strength training more of a priority.  So this morning I took my first Bootcamp class.  My arms are still shaking as I type this - I mean what a workout!!!  It was so refreshing to see so many people gathered in the town square on a cool April morning to work towards their fitness goals.  Some are in the running group like myself, others aren't, and that's ok.  We all got the same workout, and I'm surprised to say that I can't wait to go back later on this week.  But I could definitely tell a difference between working out this morning and trying to do things on my own - sometimes working out with friends makes all the difference :)

How about you - do you prefer to workout alone or with a group?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Princess Half Weekend Highlights - Part 2

I stopped my last PHM weekend highlights recap on Friday - there are still two more fun-filled days to share with you!

Saturday morning I ran the Enchanted 10K and then met up with my family for Samantha's Kids Race.  Once she was done we headed back to the hotel for a shower and then hit the Boardwalk Bakery for lunch.  Again, I picked a turkey sandwich that was ginormous and surprised myself by finishing it. We enjoyed eating our lunches on the Boardwalk and watching people go by.  Again, the atmosphere at the Boardwalk just takes the cake!  I also could not make a trip to the Boardwalk Bakery without treating myself to a sweet.

Hello Salted Caramel Ganache

In good blogger form, I will tell you that it was ok but it wasn't to die for, like I was hoping.  Le sigh. 

After lunch Morgan and I headed to the room for a nap while the rest of the family took off on another Downtown Disney excursion.  My only request was that they brought back an iced coffee from Ghirardelli.

They did not disappoint.

I had promised Samantha that we'd take a trip to the swimming pool Saturday afternoon so once Morgan was up we headed that way, where Samantha proceeded to slide down the clown slide no less than 100 times.  Morgan is my water baby so she, of course, had a fabulous time trying to jump out of our arms and swim on her own.  I only wish I had gotten some pics of our family fun by the pool.  I know there is so much to do at Disney World but I really enjoy taking a "break" and going for a swim, and even though this was not our typical Disney vacation, we still made time for some water fun.

After a quick rinse off in the room we headed down to the Boardwalk for dinner at Big River Grille.  My only recommendation here is to CALL AHEAD because we ended up having to wait.  You cannot currently make an Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR) through Disney's website but several people we ran into said they had called ahead for seating.  I'm glad that we had planned well enough to head down there early before the meltdowns ensued from lack of nourishment.  After my Nashville no-no I was leary of getting seafood to eat but settled on the blackened mahi mahi sandwich with house-made potato chips and it was pretty tasty.  We got to sit outside to eat which was also pretty nice, especially considering we had the kids.

Beautiful view of the Boardwalk at night

After dinner, Mr. Smith Summary had the genius idea of walking over to the International Gateway to watch Illuminations.  We were not the only ones that had that idea and even though we couldn't see everything, we were able to see enough to enjoy the experience.

On our way back to the room we stopped once more at Boardwalk Bakery, where I picked up a strawberry cupcake for dessert.  I know you're thinking I'm crazy for eating a huge cupcake the night before a big race but it was more like a strawberry shortcake - whipped frosting and very light.  I liked it better than the ganache I had at lunch!

Sunday was a big day - after the half marathon my family met me at the finish line and we headed straight to the Beach Club Resort for our ADR at Cape May Cafe.  This was a new to us restaurant that serves a breakfast buffet with character experiences - that morning they had Goofy, Donald, and Minnie Mouse.  I was hoping now that Morgan was a tad older she would  like the characters more but she was still a bit reserved, especially when they got close.

Samantha, on the other hand, loved having the characters come up while we were eating.

The buffet was delicious - and I'm not just saying that because I was starving when we got there.  And only at Disney is it perfectly acceptable for adults to have their picture taken with characters.

After a shower and a nap we headed to the Magic Kingdom to close out our trip.

I had set up Fast Pass + experiences for us on some new and old favorites (so glad to hear they are opening it up to book more than 3 a day!) and we also had a dinner ADR at the new Be Our Guest restaurant in new Fantasyland.

The Disney innovators really did an outstanding job with this restaurant - I felt like I had walked right into Beauty and the Beast!

We got to eat in the ballroom.  And yes, I had to have the Grey Stuff for dessert!

After dinner is over you exit the restaurant through the study where the Beast is there to greet you after your dinner.

After a few more rides it was time for Wishes!  We grabbed a good viewing spot in Liberty Square.

We had not intended to stay at the Magic Kingdom so late but we were having such a good time we hardly noticed when it hit 10pm and we were still there!  We finally started making our way back to the buses but I had to have a picture of myself in front of the castle with my medal.

I also could not go to the Magic Kingdom without eating one of these.

Would you believe Mr. Smith Summary bought me one of these without me asking?  I love that man.

Leaving Disney is always a sad day, and it was especially sad because my stepsister had joined us for the whole weekend and now it was time for her to go home too.  But Monday morning before we headed for the airport we had one last hurrah at Kouzzina for breakfast (and I'm glad we did because I hear it's closing - what a shame!)

Our table was right by the kitchen!

I had THE MOST delicious granola pancakes with blueberries EVER.  Oh, and this.

THE best iced coffee I have ever tasted.  I have the sadz that I will never get to have this deliciousness again.  Maybe they will stay open for me a few extra days so I can have one in October...ahem Disney.

Thus ends another fun Disney racecation.  I truly loved staying at the Boardwalk and would love the chance to stay in that area again for another trip - but any place on property is just as magical :)