Cullen’s Farm Themed Birthday Party + Weekly Mileage

I spent the day organizing things around the house today, so I am getting to this post a little late. I started organizing the spare bedroom closet, which turned into organizing the closet downstairs, then Cullen’s closet, then the nighstand drawers, and so on. . . . .BUT everything is now organized, and I purged a whole lot of stuff, which feels so good!

Let’s back up to Saturday, which was the official day of Cullen’s 1st birthday! We had a lot of friends and family come celebrate with us, which was so much fun. As I was planning his birthday party, it seemed kind of silly to put so much effort into such a big party for someone who has no idea what was going on. I went back and forth on whether we should have a small party with family or a big celebration and invite everyone. I ultimately chose to go all out, which was fun and everyone had a good time.

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Craig’s aunt made an adorable farm-themed cake for Cullen’s party. She does such an amazing job with every little detail. She even made a small smash cake for Cullen. Once Cullen got a bite of his cake, he kept digging in, and I finally had to take the cake away after he had made a sizable dent.

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I chose a farm theme because I grew up on a pig, corn, and soybean farm, and I have some farm-themed prints in Cullen’s room. Cullen also loves his Farm and My Farm Friends books. He requests both books often.

On the menu: pork sliders, baked beans, an Asian coleslaw salad, potato chips, spinach salad, fresh veggies, apples with caramel, and Rice Krispie bars.

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It was fun coming up with names for each of the food items. Actually Craig did all the work there.

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I used mini clothespins with small round chalkboard pieces to display Cullen’s monthly pictures. It is fun to look back and see how much he changed from month to month.

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We had a lot of fun celebrating with everyone and were glad so many of our friends and family members could come and wish Cullen a happy birthday. Craig said next year he’s going to plan the party, and it is going to be Star Wars-themed. We’ll see about that. . . .

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I had a solid week of workouts. I have been feeling good, and I can tell I’m getting stronger and my leg turn-over is improving. My coach even noticed by looking at a couple of pictures that I have more explosive power in my running form. Sweet!

Workouts ~ October 19 – 25

Monday

8 miles with 3 x 1 mile @ 6:45

Splits: 6:47, 6:44, 6:44

These mile repeats came pretty easily, so I was happy about that.

Tuesday

6 miles | 10:00 pace

Brittany and I pushed our strollers during this run. She was actually pushing 1.5 babies as she is pregnant, so she definitely deserves a gold star.

Wednesday

10 miles | 8 x 150 meters on grass FAST | 8:17 pace

I had a hard time finding a grassy area with enough light since it is pitch dark when I go running every morning. I went to a park to do the fast 150s, but I’m not sure I ran them as fast as I should have. Poor light + uneven ground + wet areas . . .didn’t allow me to push very hard.

40 minutes of weight lifting at the gym

Thursday

Off – I always enjoy my day off.

Friday

10 miles w/ last 2 miles @ 7:00 | 8:08 pace

This went well–I felt good, and I didn’t have any problem hitting the 7:00 pace at the end.

30 minutes of weights at home

Saturday

16 miles | long run | 8:03 pace

I was so glad to have company during this run again. My friend, Hallidie, and I chatted away the miles along the Coastal Trail.

Sunday

8 miles | easy run | 8:22 pace

40 minutes of weight lifting

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House with Bird

Happy 1st Birthday, Cullen!

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Woohoo! I think there should be a prize for parents who survive their first year of parenthood. By no means have we had anything outside the norm happen to us (i.e. our child was never in the NICU, we didn’t have a colicky baby, nor did we have to deal with a chronically sick baby or anything else tragic), but man, it has been a rollercoaster of a ride this past year!

Prior to having Cullen, the unknown is what scared me the most. Will I have time to run? Will I get my body back? What if I miss being childless? Will Craig and I have time to spend together? Of course life is a lot different now. But I still find time to run (because it is important enough to me). I did get my body back (and I’m more fit than I ever have been). Sure I miss the ‘good ol’ days’ of being able to come and go and little more easily, but Cullen brings a lot more smiles to my day, and Craig and I have a stronger relationship because we both share in something we’ve created.

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I can’t say it feels like this year has flown by.  It feels like two years since we were in the hospital going through 42 hours of labor. The memory of those hourly wake-ups during the middle of the night are far too vivid, and I’m going on 365 nights of not being able to sleep uninterrupted for 8 hours which doesn’t help. It is tough, and I don’t like it! I know there are parents who go even longer until their child sleeps through the night–and  the sad thing is I might be one of them. But once I get my sleep back and out of this fog that leaves me saying “snit” for “snowsuit” and trying to put the milk in the oven, I know I will feel like a new person and time will go by much faster.

Tthe lack of sleep has been the hardest thing about this first year. Everyone warns you about it, and while I knew it could be rough for the first couple of months, I didn’t think he would still be waking up twice each night after 12 months. I’m blaming this one on Craig’s genes because my parents said I slept through the night at 6 weeks old and Craig’s mom said she was in a fog for 18 months. Ha! But we do what we can: I try to go to bed as early as possible and sometimes I go and have Craig soothe him back to sleep. It doesn’t help that I get up most mornings around 5:30 a.m. to fit my training run in. It is a choice I make to keep running competitively, and while it has been incredibly tough, I can’t be too upset with my performances this past year.

It has been a good year nonetheless and it continues to get better as Cullen gets older and more independent. We’re in a good routine now and he is a lot of fun to play with. He makes us laugh, and I think he’ll be just like his dad in that respect. So, here’s to the love of our lives. Happy birthday, Cullen. We wish you all the best this year and look forward to celebrating many more birthdays with you and your charming personality.

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Cullen’s Credentials. . . . .

Favorite book: Dog

Cullen loves turning the pages, touching the fur pieces, and always requests this book to read before bedtime.

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Favorite foods: strawberries, yogurt, popsicles

Words: “a-bye,” “muma,” “dada”

I don’t think he knows that he is saying our names, but I think he understands the word “bye.” And he loves to wave good-bye with both hands.

Favorite toys: toilet paper, toothbrush, pens, comb/brushes, cotton swabs, . . .ya know, anything but actual toys

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Non-food items he’s eaten: a bite of wax from a candle, the plastic piece from an earbud/headphones, and cotton from a cotton swab

Bedtime/wake-up time: Pretty consistent from 7:30 p.m. – 7:30 a.m. He rarely wakes up earlier than that. Sometimes he wakes up and wants to party for an hour or two in the middle of the night before going back to bed.

Wake-ups at nighttime: two. . . we’re lucky if he only wakes up once

Naps: some days two, other days only one . . . .it is usually split pretty evenly 50/50. Naps are usually an hour to an hour and a half. If he naps longer in the morning, then he usually doesn’t take a second nap in the afternoon.

Other favorites:

Going for runs in the stroller. He will just sit there contentedly the whole time during my run.

Petting Sadie

Climbing up the stairs

Opening drawers and pulling everything out

Cruising in his “car.”

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60% of WI disapproves of Walker’s job performance in WPR/St. Norbert poll

This comes from a poll with a small sample: 603. Notables: 57 percent of those polled say that Wisconsin is headed in the wrong direction. Russ Feingold leads against Ron Johnson.  51 percent to 40 percent. 60 percent of Wisconsinites disapprove of the way Scott Walker is doing his job. In fact, 40% of Wisconsinites more »

Extended Weekend Highlights

We are enjoying a little bit of an extended weekend as Craig had today (Monday) off from work for Alaska Day! (Yes, there is such a thing.) I am definitely not complaining because I was able to sleep in this morning and having a second set of hands to help with Cullen is always nice.

Let’s back up to recap this weekend. Saturday morning I coached Raven Run Club. The training group had an hour and forty-five minute run in the drizzly rain. It has been raining a lot here lately. So much so Craig said he feels like he’s been living in the Pacific Northwest these past few weeks. Hey, if this was all the worse winter was, I’d be a-okay with that! Give me rain over snow any day! I know most Alaskans don’t feel that way, but that’s how I’ve always felt.

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Saturday I worked at the store (Skinny Raven Sports) all day at our Dansko Trunk Show. Danskos are definitely an Alaskan shoe. I’m not sure why they are so popular up here, but a ton of people wear them. I admitily have two pairs myself. (I even wrote a blog posted titled Danskos a while back!) They are a very comfortable clog with a rigid footbed that conforms to your foot over time (think Birkenstocks), but they can be kind of unsteady and have horrible traction in the wintertime. [Although the XP (eXtra Performance) does have a slip-resistant bottom.] Anyhow, most people don’t think they are that cute, but here in Alaska it is function over fashion.

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Sunday morning I ran 5 miles with Whitney and then added on 2 extra miles on for a total of 7 for the day. Afterwards was church and then we relaxed at home while Cullen napped.

A friend of mine told me about a BuzzFeed article that used a picture from my blog! I think that’s a good thing?!? Ha!

29 Signs You Ran Cross-Country in High School

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When Cullen got up from his nap, we went to Sadler’s to pick out some new furniture for our living room. We’ve been using a broken couch for far too long (umm. . .like 7 years), so it was about time to change that. We ended up special ordering a couch and loveseat. Unfortunately they won’t be here for another six weeks, but at least we will have some new pieces in our living room soon. Now we just have to find an accent chair, an area rug, and a TV console that doesn’t look like an entertainment center. Something like this Wayfair console table.

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Today I slept in and then did my workout for the day. I ran a total of 8 miles with 3 x 1 mile @ 6:45 pace. It was a good workout, and it was so nice to run in the daylight!

Afterwards Craig, Cullen, and I went to get coffee/tea at Kaladi Brothers. I ordered a London Fog: Earl Gray tea with steamed milk and vanilla flavoring. It was tasty!

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Then it was off to the dog park to enjoy the morning sun and give Sadie some exercise. Craig said he thought Sadie has been putting on a little bit of weight. She doesn’t get quite as many walks as she used to and now she gets all the food that Cullen drops.

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This afternoon I went to the grocery store by myself while Cullen napped! I even got to use one of the mini carts. Ha! I hit up Fred Meyer and Costco for our weekly groceries. The rest of the afternoon included a late lunch, play time, and just hanging out at home.

Training continues to go well. I’m not doing any sort of crazy training right now but instead maintaining fitness and trying to improve leg turnover. Here’s a look at my training from this past week.

Training Log ~ October 12 – 18

Monday

9 miles | 7 miles at a moderate/up-tempo pace

Splits from the up-tempo pace: 7:14, 7:14, 7:19, 7:16, 7:19, 7:17, 7:19

I actually felt pretty good from this run despite lack of sleep and still feeling sore from the half-marathon two days earlier.

Tuesday

6.5 miles | 8:17 average pace | easy run

I did this run with the stroller, so I could sleep in. (All of my other runs are done before Craig goes to work, so I have to be done by 7:30 a.m.) I felt fine and enjoyed the easy pace.

Wednesday

10 miles | 2 x 2 miles @ 6:45 pace | interval workout

Workout results: 6:48, 6:59 (hill!), 6:45, 6:45

The backlight on my Garmin watch doesn’t work any more, so it can be difficult to know if I’m running the right pace or not. Luckily I hit 3 of the 4 miles at the right pace. Bummer for that long, gradual hill for the second one though.

Thursday

My day off! I soon will be transitioning to a day off every 8 or 9 days. I’m going to miss my weekly day off.

Friday

7 miles | 5 x 2:30 minutes uphill | hill workout

The best hill I could find within a close proximity to our house only took me 2 minutes to run up. Oh well, I made the most of it.

Saturday

13 miles | 7:49 pace | long run

I did this long run on the Coastal Trail with a friend. It was a nice distraction to have someone to talk to and help me forget about the rain.

Sunday

7 miles | 8:40 pace | easy run

Easy run with a friend in the dark. The sun doesn’t rise until 8:30 a.m. already!

Total weekly milage: 52.5 miles

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Questions

What was the highlight of your day?

What is your favorite drink at the coffee shop?

How AP and the WI press does damage control for Governor Drunken Sailor

Yet again I get the impression that Associated Press does whatever it can to protect and/or repair Scott Walker’s image.   Compare the headlines and stories on Walker’s recent FEC filing: From Washington Post (author – Jenna Johnson): How Scott Walker spent $90,000 a day to lose an election   From U.S. News and World Report more »

Everybody didn’t have access to the Democratic Party debate

The editor of Buzzflash at Truthout recently wrote that, “By offering the debates on television only to paid subscribers of television packages that included CNN and Fox News, the most important political interaction between candidates for president of the United States was, essentially, privatized.” If you’re living with a net-enabled digital device seemingly glued to your more »

Life Update: Running

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It has been a while! Life has been busy but full of good things each day, so the regular blog posts are usually the first to go. However, it is time to fill you guys in on what has been happening.

Let’s start with a running update since that’s what this blog is mostly about anyway.

I am now in a new training cycle with my coach, Nichole. I took two full weeks off after the Moose’s Tooth Marathon, and enjoyed every minute of sleeping in. Buuutt. . .PRs don’t come by me sitting on my butt, so we’ve been working hard these past couple of months to try and improve my leg turn-over through drills, up-tempo workouts, striders, and explosive weight lifting drills.

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I’m currently running 6 days a week, lifting once or twice, doing core work as often as I can, and averaging about 55 miles a week. I sure do like having that day off each week, but I’ll be transitioning to a day off every 8 or 9 days. I’ve been taking an intense pilates class at the gym once a week, but the instructor is leaving on a trip for a couple of months, so I’ve been looking into taking a postpartum class at Studio One Pilates here in Anchorage.

All of my hard work actually paid off with a PR in the half-marathon at the Zombie Half-Marathon this past weekend. I was NOT expecting to PR. Usually it is really cold at this race and the massive hill at the end can really slow you down, but I worked hard, and I actually pulled off a 30 second PR.

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My ultimate running goal is still a sub-3:00 marathon. After running a 3:06 (adjusted time with the course being short), I KNOW this goal is not unattainable. Two years ago when Nichole said I had the potential to run under 3 hours in the marathon, I didn’t believe her. She saw something in me I didn’t, and I’m glad I stuck with it because I am on my way there!

Outside of my own training, I have been coaching the Raven Run Club through the running store I work at, Skinny Raven Sports. I absolutely love working with the runners, meeting new people, and helping them with their running goals. I also have my own athletes I coach through my online services. I now have an international athlete in Hong Kong! I still have availability to take on more clients, so shoot me an e-mail if you are interested!

Race Recap – Zombie Half-Marathon 2015

Lesson from this race: It takes twice as long to do everything with a baby.

Okay, I already knew this, but for some reason I thought I could I wake up at 8 a.m. thinking that an hour would be enough time for me to get ready before I had to start my warm-ups for the race. Obviously, it was not.

I was supposed to run 1.5 – 2 miles ending 30 minutes before the start of the Zombie Half-Marathon here in Anchorage. At 9:20 a.m. I sprinted out of the house telling Craig to pick me up along-side the road. I only got a couple minutes from the house when I remembered I forgot to have Craig bring my UCAN. So I ran back home and just had Craig drive us to the start. The race started at 10 a.m., so I only had about 15 minutes to get situated and finish my warm-ups. It wasn’t ideal, but it luckily didn’t seem to affect my performance!

This was not an ‘A’ race for me, so I didn’t have many expectations going into the race. My coach said I had no time goal, but of course I like to have a loose goal. I was hoping to run right around 1:30 and ideally sub-1:30.

We love this little stinker even if it takes us longer to go places these days.

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Usually this race is absolutely freezing–temps in the upper 20s/low 30s. However, they moved it up a week, and it wasn’t super cold this year, so I was happy to be racing in shorts, a tank, and arm warmers. The 40* definitely felt okay.

The start of the race was pretty abrupt with someone counting down with 3, 2, 1, go! I barely heard her, so I didn’t get my watch started in time. With less than an ideal start, I did my best to push those things off to the side and focus on the race.

Mile 1 – 6:47

2 – 6:28

3 – 6:49

4 – 6:32

At mile 4 I passed two girls. I thought I was second place, but a couple spectators said I was 3rd, and I was able to maintain this position for the remainder of the race.

I felt pretty strong throughout the whole race, but during the middle miles things always start to get a little tough. I kept telling myself, “this is a race, Michelle, it is supposed to hurt a little.” My splits stayed pretty consistent except for a pretty lengthy uphill portion at mile 7 into mile 8.

5 – 6:35

6 – 6:44

7 – 7:13

8 – 6:47

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The miles ticked away pretty easily. When I was running the race though the mile markers didn’t always come as soon as I hoped they would, but in hindsight it doesn’t seem that bad. Isn’t that how it usually goes? I did my best to stay focused on the race, running the tangents, and trying to maintain a consistent pace. The course is net downhill, but there is a monster hill at the end during the last 0.75 mile of the course. It is a steep climb to the finish line and never a fun way to end a race.

9 – 6:54

10 – 6:42

11 – 6:41

12 – 6:42

13 – not sure?? I have gotten out of the habit of stopping my watch when I cross the finish line.

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As I crossed the finish line, I wasn’t sure what my time was as the clock said 1:25, which I knew wasn’t correct. Since I didn’t get my watch started in time, that wasn’t a reliable source. The computers at the event said 1:26, but I wasn’t sure I ran that fast either. The official online results had me at 1:27:20, which is  PR for me! My previous PR was 1:27:49 at the half-marathon in Cordova this summer. Woohoo! I did not think I would be able to PR. I knew I was having some good splits, but I also knew the hill at the end would slow me down, so I didn’t really have a good gauge of what my finish time would be. With 3 miles to go I thought it might be close, but I still didn’t want to get my hopes up.

Last year I didn’t run as I was 9 months pregnant. This was 5 days before going to the hospital to deliver Cullen.

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A new PR, 3rd place overall, and 1st for my age group. . . I call that a successful day!