Faster After Baby – Book Review

Happy weekend, friends!

This morning I completed my 4th run within 36 hours for a total of 30 miles within those 36 hours. It was a bit much for my legs, so they are enjoying the break this evening.

Wednesday night I did a hard interval track workout of 10 x 400s in 80-82 seconds. It wasn’t easy, but I recruited a friend who definitely helped me push when I was tired. I was stoked that all of the intervals were within the targeted paces. I really had to work for each one of them, but I can tell I’m getting stronger and fitter. (I remember doing ten 400s in college in about 90 seconds each with even more rest! I am obviously much fitter than I was in college.) I ended up doing a long warm-up and cool-down for a total of 12 miles.

Then Thursday morning I had 7 miles to run before Craig went to work. That afternoon I logged a wet 4 miles with the stroller.

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Finally this morning was another 7 easy miles that were granny slow. There’s no rest for the weary because I have a long run with 2 x 3 miles at 6:30 pace tomorrow morning.

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It is not easy, and I often have to remind myself to enjoy the journey because I know if I wasn’t out there working my tail off, I’d miss it!

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It has been quite some time since I’ve been able to read a book. (Hello having a baby!) I did, however, manage to finish one book this year so far. . . .that I started back in September. Faster After Baby is a great book for those who are new to motherhood but not ready to give up their competitive running days (me!).

This was such a great book that provided a lot of helpful information on what the body is going through physically during pregnancy as well as postpartum, the hormone changes that take effect, and tips on how to balance a new baby and wanting to return to running.

The author shared a lot of stories that I could relate to as she has a young son of her own and really wanted to keep running and training competitively; however as one could guess, having a baby doesn’t always make it that feasible. I felt a lot more reassured about the different feelings I’ve had over the course of the last year trying to maintain my competitive running. I definitely appreciated that it was an easy read and kept me interested the whole time as my brain is pretty fried by the evening most days.

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The author, Meredith, contacted me last spring and interviewed me to be featured as one of the “Mighty Mamas” in the book. I was completely honored as I was featured alongside Deena Kastor and Stephanie Rothstein Bruce (<–who I would highly recommend following on Instagram if you are a runner and new mom).

I feel very honored that I was chosen to be featured in the book. When I answered these questions, I was only a few months postpartum. Not too much has changed since answering these questions, I still ‘want it’ just as much, my goal of a sub-3 hour marathon still stands, and I am learning to balance competitive training with a 15 month old.

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If you find yourself in this boat, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Faster After Baby. And even if you aren’t training for any competitive races but you enjoy running, this is still a great read.

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Workout & Food Diary {Tuesday}

Good food, two runs, and a those little extra things squeezed in for a all-around good day!

6:27 a.m. I wake up. My alarm was set for 6:30 a.m. I feel so much more refreshed if I wake up on my own rather than to an alarm.

6:50 a.m. Run 6 miles. I felt particularly good after a day off yesterday. Sunday I wrapped up a 70 mile week, so Monday’s day off was much needed.

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7:40 a.m. Return from running.

7:45 a.m. Breakfast #1: protein smoothie with Califia Cold Brew Mocha almond milk  + SFH Recovery vanilla protein powder. This is an awesome combination, and I love both of these products!

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8:00 a.m. Shower and get ready for the day.

8:30 a.m. Breakfast #2 with Cullen: steel cut oats with banana + raspberries + scoop of Justin’s vanilla almond butter + iced coffee. It has been too long since I’ve made steel cut oats; I forgot how much I love them. I made a batch in the Crockpot yesterday and reheated them this morning. And that Justin’s almond butter is amazing!

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9:10 a.m. Leave for Cullen’s 15 month check-up at the pediatrician. He is a very healthy boy, who is ‘very curious’ the pediatrician commented. (He was not wanting to sit on my lap for this picture.)

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11:30 a.m. Lunch: a snacking plate with a slice of homemade bread with Earth Balance butter + dried mangoes (so addicting) + freeze dried sugar snap peas + Silk yogurt

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2:15 p.m. Pre-run snack: small slice of Garlicky Kale and Bacon Pizza from last night’s dinner + strawberries

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3:30 p.m. Run 6 miles with Cullen in the stroller. I always like my runs during the daylight. Cullen was distracted by the babbling stream by us.

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4:45 p.m. A Picky bar while at the playground after our run.

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5:30 p.m. This is when the hunger really hit. I thought the Picky bar would be enough to get me to dinner, but I was wrong. Another snacking plate: homemade bread, freeze-dried sugar snap peas (these are addicting too!), string cheese, and a few rice crackers. I am so random in my eating.

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6:25 p.m. 10 minutes of stretching while waiting for Craig to come home. Dinner was prepped, so I had a few extra minutes. This is the only way I can fit in these ‘little extras’ into my days.

6:45 p.m. Dinner: two hard shell tacos using an Alton Brown recipe for the homemade taco seasoning + roasted broccoli.

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9:05 p.m. 10 minutes of abs, push-ups, and more stretching and foam rolling. Once again, trying to be more diligent about those little extras.

70 Mile Week + PR Coaching

Wow! Where did the week go? I can’t believe it is Friday already. I am not complaining because I remember the days of time crawling by, and I definitely do not miss that.

I am in the midst of a 70 mile week this week. So far this has included an interval workout and a tempo workout, both which were done on the treadmill because the paved paths and roads are still covered in snow and ice. I have a couple of medium-distance runs, plus a long run this weekend to round out to 70 miles. This is the most I’ve done since this summer, and while it hasn’t been out of my reach, my legs are definitely feeling it.

Monday

10 miles | 5 x 1000 meters in 3:30, 4 x 200 cut-downs–>each one, one second faster

I did most of this workout on the treadmill. That last 1000 was quite tough, but thanks to the treadmill belt going at a constant pace, I just have to keep up with it. My sister and I ran the cool-down outside in the sunshine!

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Tuesday

8 miles, easy

45 minutes of strength training

An easy run after dropping my mom and my sister off at the airport. I was a little sore from the workout yesterday, but it was all about logging the miles. I must have done a good job lifting because three days later I am still sore.

Wednesday

10 miles, easy

The parts of the route that were plowed clear of snow I was able to maintain a decent pace of 7:45/7:50, which of course made me miss summer running where I don’t have to deal with snow or ice at all. I try not to get too concerned about my slower paces during the winter because this always happens, but it sure makes me feel fitter when my pace is below 8:00 rather than closer to 8:30.

Thursday

11 miles | 4 x 10 minutes @ 6:25 pace

I did this workout on the treadmill at the gym. While the 6:25 pace definitely was slower than Monday’s pace, the duration of the 40 minutes total at this pace definitely made me work for it. I was good for the first 2.5 intervals, but the last one especially my legs were tired! I did a lot of tempo workouts at 6:30 pace this summer, and it helped me to get faster, so I am hoping these workouts do the same.

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During the summer of 2013, I started online coaching for runners. Most of my athletes were in Anchorage at that time, but I have now worked with athletes in several different states (ID, KS, CA) and even internationally (Hong Kong). It has always been my intention to turn my work into a business of my own, and I can now say I have officially done that!

I now am the owner of PR Coaching (PR = Personalized Running). (Craig came up with that name–as he did the name of this blog!) I have a small team of athletes, which I intend to keep that way so I can get to know each one of my athletes and everyone receives the individualized attention they deserve. I honestly love what I do, and I love working with people of all abilities from the beginner to those who have been running for several years. (P.S. I do have a few spots open if anyone is interested in working with me.)

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I’ve got a busy weekend ahead with a run with a friend, some more family coming into town, a long run, and a wedding. You can always follow me on Instagram to see what we’re up to!

Grandma and Aunt Kristy’s Trip to AK

My mom and my sister left early this morning. Tear. I knew their trip would go far too quickly, but I thoroughly enjoyed every second they were here.

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We didn’t do anything extravagant while they were here. We mostly just stuck around home and enjoyed hanging out together while Kristy and my mom played with Cullen a lot.

Most days we slept in, then Kristy and I would go running mid-morning while my mom got to spend some one-on-one time with Cullen. By the time we got back from running, Cullen would go down for his nap, so we would get lunch, foam roll, stretch, and get ready for the day. During the afternoon we usually went outside for a walk with Sadie before it was back home to make dinner for the evening.

Thursday we walked along the Coastal Trail to Point Woronzof. The sky was clear, the sun was shining, and the mountains were light up. It was stunning.

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We took Cullen out in his “new” wooden sled. (It was actually Craig’s as a kid.) He loved it!

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Friday was my day off from running, so we went out for brunch at Snow City Cafe. Afterwards we went to David’s Bridal to get ideas for bridesmaid dresses for my sister’s wedding this summer.

Saturday morning was my long run of 14 miles. Kristy ran with me, which made it feel like the good old days. Even though Kristy is six years younger than me, she is my clone, and we often find ourselves dressing alike even without trying.

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That afternoon we went downtown to check out the ice sculptures that were being carved. It was kind of neat to see the process, but I think it would have been better to see them once they were completed. Then we went shopping at the 5th Avenue Mall for a while.

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Sunday was church and that afternoon Kristy and I went to the bridal show here in town. I have to admit, I was quite impressed. There were a lot of vendors there, and while Kristy isn’t getting married in Alaska, it is kind of a way for me to be part of the process while living so far away.

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We got to try a lot of food samples while we were there, including ribs from a BBQ place in town.

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Monday morning I had a longer workout: 5 x 1000 meters in 3:30 + 4 x 200 meters for a total of 10 miles. One thousand meters in three minutes and thirty seconds is a 5:38 pace on the treadmill people, and let me tell you, that treadmill belt is moving fast at that speed! Kristy did the workout with me, which was nice to have the company. It was tough, but I made it! Afterwards we ran outside along the Coastal Trail for our cool-down.

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That afternoon we went to a different park in town to take some pictures and check out the views of the mountains. #funselfies

Last night we had one last dinner together and then played with Cullen until it was past his bedtime. Kristy and I stayed up doing her nails and wishing the morning wouldn’t come.

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Today it is just Cullen and me again. We’ve had a chill day at home. I did go to the gym this afternoon for a strength training session and ran outside after dropping my mom and sister off at the airport.

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Cullen has been walking for about a week now, and you can tell he gets stronger each and every day.

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Until next time!

Icebug Running Shoes – Review

Running on the ice here in Anchorage has become more common every year I live up here. We have at least 1 or 2 weeks, a couple times each winter where the roads, sidewalks, and paved paths are covered in sheer ice. I’ve tried running in my studded shoes during these times, but they do not cut it.

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The studded shoes are great if there is some snow on the ground, but if it is pure ice, there is nothing else that compares to Icebugs.

I’ve known about Icebugs for several years, but I wasn’t convinced they were worth it. I thought they were about the same as having studs (screws) put in your shoes, but now I know differently.

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The suds in the Icebugs are made of steel. Occasionally I’ll hear from customers that the studs fell out, but this is rare. Likely the shoes and midsole will wear out before the studs do.

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These studs grip so well on the ice. I feel really confident when running on the ice, and I am able to run at my normal speed. (I don’t know, however, that I would do a fast speed workout in them. I did do some “pick-ups” the other week, but I had no particular pace I had to hit.) Also, I can turn a corner at a 90* angle without feeling like I am going to fall down.

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There are several different models to choose from. I purchased the Kayi model, which has a water-resistant upper to it. They were pretty stiff when I first wore them, but they get have loosened up over time. There are other models that are waterproof and ones that have more of a mesh upper.

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My only complaint was that the heel cup was really deep. This was great to accommodate my orthotic/footbed insert, which can often be a problem in other running shoes. Since the orthotic is pretty thick, it causes my foot to slip out of a lot of other runnings shoes. The Icebugs were great for accommodating my orthotic, but it was still very deep and the shoe rubbed my medial malleolus (the bony profusion on the inside of my ankle). It took some time for my ankles and feet to get used to that, but I can now wear them on a long run without problems.

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I cannot say enough positive things about my Icebugs. I would highly recommend them to any runner or walker who risks falling on the ice. Half of the Icebugs we sell at the store are warm winter boots with the built-in studs to elderly people who are worried about falling. Sure these might cost $200, but that’s better than the medical bills for a serious fall or breaking a bone.

Grandma and Auntie are Here

Eek! I has been over a week since I last posted, but we have been bizzzeeee!!!

Let’s start with the best news. . . .my mom and my sister are here from Minnesota to visit for a week! That means I have a built-in babysitter, and I don’t have to get up early to go running!!

We went for a walk in the falling snow after they arrived. I think Alaska wanted to make sure it continued to live up to its reputation of being a cold and snowy state. Ha! No, actually it was really pretty and covered up our brown grass. Hopefully the skiers can get out there and do their thing now.

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This morning I took my workout inside to the treadmill. I really don’t mind the treadmill for an interval workout. It doesn’t drag on, and I can blast the music and watch YouTube videos to pass the time.

11 miles total with 3 x 10 minutes @ 6:23 pace (Goal pace was 6:25, but that wasn’t an option on the treadmill.)

I couldn’t believe how “easy” this pace felt after running at 5:50 pace on Monday. Did you know 5:50 pace on the treadmill is 10.3 mph, and watching the treadmill’s belt run that fast is pretty intimidating! The view this morning was pretty incredible, so that doesn’t hurt either.

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Afterwards it was time to stretch and foam roll. I’ve been trying to be more diligent about doing these things daily. The back of my knee, medial side, where my hamstring muscle inserts was bothering me at the beginning of the week, but it felt better today. I’m guessing it didn’t help that I ran 16 miles on Saturday and then went straight to work where I was on my feet all day.

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I worked both Saturday and Sunday this past weekend, so Craig was on baby duty. It is so much easier to leave Cullen now. I still miss him, but I don’t worry about him nearly as much as I did when he was a newborn and infant. He loves reading books, and thinks it is so fun to crawl onto Sadie’s pet bed and read his books there.

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At the beginning of the week, we were busy getting ready for my mom and sister’s arrival: cleaning, running errands, meal planning, more cleaning, and laundry. Cullen loves pushing the cart when we’re grocery shopping. And see those Cuties in our cart. . . he can’t get enough of them. I’m pretty sure he eat 4 or 5 of them every day.

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Cullen is loving all of the attention from Grandma and Auntie. We’re off to enjoy more time together!

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Things I’m Loving Lately VIII

I had every intention of writing a post titled “My Favorite Winter Running Gear,” but as I started composing the post, I felt like I had written a very similar post in the past. So I search my previous posts, and lo-and-behold, almost exactly one year ago I wrote a post called Favorite Winter Running Gear. I figure there’s no reason to write another post that would basically reiterate what I’ve already said.

Although, I would add a couple of items I’ve purchased over the past year that I really do appreciate having for my winter runs.

I love this Lululemon Run and Done Toque. I was first drawn to the fun pattern, but I also really liked how much reflectivity there was on it (all of the circles are reflective). I am always running in the dark, so I try to wear as much reflective gear as possible. It is made from a great lightweight, breathable fabric to wick the sweat and keep me warm and dry.

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I purchased a pair of Craft tights to keep my legs warm because my thin Nike tights just don’t cut it. These Craft tights (similar–I couldn’t find the exact pair I have.) have a fleece lining plus a wind proofing piece of fabric on the outside that covers my thighs and knees.

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When the temperatures dip into the teens and below, I have to wear three layers on my core, which gets to be kind of bulky. I ended up purchasing this Lululemon Down for a Run Pullover. I love it. It was honestly worth every penny. I wear it every time it is below 20*F, which has ended up being many times already this winter.

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The other piece of clothing I cannot live without during our winters here in Alaska are my IceBugs. They are shoes with built-in carbite studs, and they DO NOT slip on the ice. I was able to run 16 miles on Sunday in them with no slips or falls. The roads were literally an ice skating rink, but thanks to the IceBugs I could run at my normal pace. I can’t believe it took me 8 years to get a pair.

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Sorel Out N About Boots

These Sorel boots just came in the mail the other day, and I was really excited when they showed up on my doorstep. I had been eyeing them for a while and had to wait until after Christmas when they came back in stock in my size and this brown color. I wanted a pair of boots I could easily slip on and off for running errands. I have a pair of Sorel Caribou boots, but they are pretty clunky and much warmer than I need for going from the car to the store.

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SFH Protein Powder

I posted about this protein powder on Instagram a couple weeks ago. I have tried many, many protein powders before, but nothing comes close to SFH’s protein powder. I don’t need to cover up the flavor of this protein powder in a smoothie. I can simply add it to almond milk, and it tastes great! And I love that there are only 4 ingredients in it.

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Roolee Boutique

I recently discovered Roolee Boutique and am completely smitten. Great styles + affordable prices is exactly up my alley. I have purchased this hat and skinny jeans and received these boots and sweater for Christmas.

Believe Training Journal

I first heard about these training journals last year. I didn’t really understand what the craze was all about, but I put one of these Believe Training Journals on my Christmas wish list this year, and Craig was kind enough to get me one.

I’ve used several different training logs in the past, but this one is nice because it is geared towards women athletes. It has a great layout with areas to set goals and motivational quotes throughout.

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Dinner Favorite

I made this Roasted Sweet Potato, Quinoa and Fried Egg Bowl for Craig and I a couple nights ago, and it was awesome. Sometimes it is hard to find healthy recipes Craig likes, but he gobbled this up in no time and requested seconds.

Flannel Sheets

Okay, people, I didn’t know I was missing out that much on flannel sheets! This is the first time I’ve slept on flannel sheets, and I feel like I’ve been living under a rock not knowing what I was missing out on. I purchased these deer print sheets from Target. I love that I almost never have to wear socks to bed now. (I strongly dislike wearing socks to bed, but if my feet are cold, I can’t fall asleep.) I’m pretty excited to crawl under these sheets each night.

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Questions

What is something you are loving lately?

What cold weather item for running do you swear by?

Flannel sheets–yeah or nay?

Northern Lights Resolution Run 2015 – Race Recap

This was the second year the Northern Lights Resolution Run was held. I actually ran it last year 2 months postpartum. I had so much fun the first year that I had to do it again this year.

It is (nearly) a 5K course with about 5 different sections of lights: Chinese lanterns in one section, a tunnel of rope lights, lighted arches (see the picture below), and just a lot of upbeat music, and a fun atmosphere.

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I didn’t have many expectations going into the race. Last year it was extremely icy, and this year we had mild temperatures again which caused melting and some freezing rain. This left the streets pretty dicy all week. Thankfully we got a thin layer of snow earlier in the day to provide a least a little bit of traction. My plan was to enjoy the run and run it fairly hard.

The race was scheduled to start at 6 p.m. Craig had to work until 5 p.m., so by the time we got ready and drove to the start, it was a little after 5:30 p.m. I had Craig drop me off because there was no parking on the Alaska Pacific University campus, which is where the race started. I jogged to the start to pick up my bib. I should have picked up my bib earlier in the week, but since I wasn’t too concerned about my performance and it didn’t take me more than a few minutes last year to get it, I waited. Well, this year I waited about 20 minutes in line to get my bib. By this time I had no time left to warm-up, so all I could do was jog to the start. (I only ran about 0.4 of a mile by this time.)

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I’m not sure exactly what time the race started, but it was delayed. I know the starters had to wait until the city bus had made its stop along the route before we could proceed with the race. Once the race got going though, I immediately changed my mind about ‘just running for fun.’ I, of course, decide I had to race.

We ran through the lights, around University Lake, on some trail portions, and through sections of upbeat music. All of these things did a great job of distracting me, which is always nice. I ran the whole way pretty hard and stuck with the 1st place girl throughout the course. I had passed her with less than a half of a mile left to go before she caught me on the very last trail portion that was too dark for me to see where I was stepping, so I had to slow down a bit. All in all it was a really fun even, and it made me really excited for racing this summer!

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Of course my pictures don’t do justice, but this at least gives you a little idea of what this event it like. If you live in the area, I highly recommend doing this event. People came dressed in their brightest neon colors, lights, and reflective gear. Plus part of your swag bag includes a couple of light-up items. The energy was so fun, and I wish I could have had some apple cider afterwards, but I had a couple more miles to run before we headed to our NYE party.

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Craig watched Cullen while I ran. Cullen loved dancing to the music. Next year we might even push him in the stroller through the course; I bet he would love all the lights.

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2015: A Year in Review

2015 is about to close, and we will embark on another new year. Even though January 1 is technically just another day, in the middle of the week, it feels like a fresh start. A chance to set new goals, better yourself, and live the life you’re proud of.

Over the course of this year, we’ve had some big changes. I’ve gone from having a newborn to a (almost) walking, babbling, very interactive one year old. It has been fun to watch Cullen grow and learn new things every day, and I’m glad I get to see all of those firsts.

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As for my running, that has changed 180 degrees in the last year too. At the beginning of 2015, I could barely run due to my C-section scar that caused discomfort on each run. With some guidance and coaching, I was able to peak at 75 miles this summer, set PRs in the 10K, 12K, half-marathon, and marathon and ultimately win the Moose’s Tooth Marathon, which is by far the highlight of my running career thus far.

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Total Miles in 2015

2494 miles (The type-a in me wants to run 6 more miles to make it 2500.)

Toughest Workout (tie between these two)

**7 miles easy, 6 x 5 minutes @ tempo (6:30 pace), cool-down to 13.5 miles

**2 mile warm-up, 1 mile @ 6:00, 2 miles easy, 1 mile @ 5:50, 2 miles easy, 1 mile sub-5:50, 2 miles cool-down | 11 miles total

2015 Races and Race Recaps

11/26/15 – Turkey Trot 5K (Anchorage, AK) – 20:47

10/10/15 – Zombie Half-Marathon (Anchorage, AK) – 1:27:20 (PR)

9/27/15 – Kenai River Marathon Relay (Kenai, AK)

8/16/15 – Moose’s Tooth Marathon (Anchorage, AK) – 3:06:34 (PR – 1st place)

7/18/15 – Alaska Salmon Runs Half-Marathon (Cordova, AK) – 1:27:49

7/4/15 – Freedom Run 5-Miler (Waseca, MN) – 32:35

6/20/15 – Mayor’s Half-Marathon (Anchorage, AK) – 1:30:37

6/13/15 – Alaska Run for Women (Anchorage, AK) – 32:18 (PR)

6/5/15 – Twilight 12K (Anchorage, AK) – 48:26 (PR)

5/23/15 – Pulsator 10K (Anchorage, AK) – 40:09 (PR)

4/25/15 – Heart Run 5K (Anchorage, AK) – 19:31

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2015 Highlights

Meeting my new running buddy – Brittany

My 32nd birthday

Traveling to Minnesota this summer

Visiting Cordova, Alaska

Galavanting around Oregon for two weeks

Celebrating Cullen’s first birthday

It has been a good year for our family! We have been very blessed (albeit sleep deprived), and it is my hope and prayer that 2016 blesses us with more fun memories, a lot of family time, a good job for Craig so I can continue to stay at home with Cullen, and health and happiness.