This is what you came for

One week post marathon, and I finally have a moment to sit down and reflect on it. So much has happened since then… but ultimately it just came down to being completely swamped with life as the holidays approach, weekends get busier, and the workweek is hectic, especially after taking a couple of days off for the long weekend in Savannah. So, before I dive in to the marathon weekend, here’s how the end of my training played out:

Week 17
Total miles 25.1
Long run miles 12 throughout my neighborhood
Cross training included teaching PiYo Live and Water Aerobics, but mostly, I was running.

Week 18
Total miles 25.76
Long run miles 8 for my final taper!
Cross training included the usual PiYo Live and Water Aerobics.

Week 19
Total miles 36.49
Long run miles 26.2 at Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah!

On Friday, I headed out with Rachel, Stephanie, and Heather, and we made our way to Savannah by car. It’s just 5 hours away from us in Raleigh, so we each put together a collection of songs that my husband collected from us and then put onto a Spotify playlist. We titled it: Shrimp Skewers and Beer. The theme of the weekend. We then had a great time on the drive as we tried to guess who submitted each song. We have a very eclectic mix of music but seemed to know each other pretty well and had some good laughs along the way.

We drove into Savannah and went straight to the Expo. Stephanie had to pick up about a dozen bibs because in addition to the half, she had signed up for the 5k and 1 mile challenge the following day. We then took our bags of goodies back and got settled into our hotel while we figured out our game plan for the rest of the weekend. My family recommended a few places to eat, so we went straight over to the Public House for our carb-loading dinner. We enjoyed our first of many shrimp and grit meals, some drinks, and then called an early night for our early wake-up call the following day.

Saturday morning, we were all up early and ready to go. We had a fiasco with room service not showing up, but thankfully our hotel quickly got us access to the buffet that was already setup. We grabbed a quick bite to eat and made our way to the start line that was just a few minutes from our hotel.

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We stuck together at corral 10 – in between the 4:30 and 4:45 pacers. When the starting buzzer went off, we took off together and tried to stay close. Excitement had me running faster than I knew I could maintain and my legs felt heavy, so I tried to slow it down. Eventually, Heather took off and I ran with Stephanie and Rachel. We ran at various points all together or with one at at time, until around mile 5. Then Rachel and I pretty much fell into our rhythm and began the steady pace to finish. When the 10 mile course split happened, I so desperately wanted to take the route to go towards the half marathon finish line. But we turned off onto the Truman Parkway and plodded along in the full sun for the next 16 miles.

There were many challenging moments. So. Very. Many. Seeing the fastest runner pass us when we were just about 12 miles in… and he was on his 24th. That was both inspiring and so disheartening when I knew I’d still have about two hours to go. Miles 17-18 was the turnaround to head back from the split back to the finish. That was a mind game. Miles 21-24 were particularly hard – it felt like I was moving backwards at points and everything was starting to hurt. But by the time we left the Truman and made our way to the finish, I was so excited and ready to be DONE.

Rachel got a call from her family around mile 25 and it took everything in me not to get teary. I knew if I started crying that I wouldn’t be able to breathe, thereby making running that much harder (and really, it couldn’t get any harder at that point). Once we were in the finishing chute, all bets were off. The second my foot hit that timing strip, I was a sobbing mess. Stephanie and Heather were waiting for us, as was my dad who I wasn’t sure would be able to make it due to Savannah traffic from the race. I was so thankful to be done running and to have made it through the whole 26.2 miles… a feat that even a year before I would have told you would never have happened. The whole time I was running, I was questioning my decision and if I would be able to finish it, so to make it over the finish line was so exhilarating.

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After the race, we gathered our medals and picked up our marathon jackets. We took some time to stretch and soak up the sun. Sadly, we’re not fast enough to have enjoyed the headliner, Old Crow Medicine Show. Eventually, we trudged back to our hotel, grabbing a some lunch to enjoy back in our room while we rested for the afternoon while binge watching HGTV. That night we went to the Crystal Beer Parlor for some more shrimp and then we were crazy enough to consider a walking ghost tour of Savannah. We were exhausted but it felt good to walk our our legs through the historic city.

On Sunday, we had a slow morning, then headed over to our next set of races. It was really just going to be Stephanie running but I decided to join her for the 5k as I didn’t feel too sore and I’m easily swayed by the promise of bling. They had on-site registration so I was able to join in the fun and reap the benefits of two additional medals for doing the Remix challenge. We didn’t run to break any speed goals, but it was a fun tour of some beautiful Savannah neighborhoods. I think the short run helped with my soreness because by the end of the weekend, aside from a few blisters, I felt great. Our last night was spend at Treylor Park where we, of course, enjoyed some more amazing food and drinks and a quick tour of River Street.

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Monday morning, we met up with my family for breakfast at B. Matthews which makes incredible food and provided our last bit of shrimp and grits before we left town. Then we headed back home to get back to our normal routines, with a lot less running for the rest of the week.

Overall, it was an incredible weekend. I’m so proud of everything we accomplished. I didn’t beat the time that I had set for myself in my head, but it was my first marathon. I can’t say that the marathon distance is my favorite, but I am ready to do more, just to prove that I can beat my previous times, and to see if it will get easier. At one point, I hated the half marathon and now I love that distance… who knows if it will be the same? 26.2 miles is a long way to run! But I did it, and I’m so proud of my accomplishments from that weekend. We already have a few more races planned for the next couple of years, so we’ll see where that takes us next!

 

 

 

 

Home stretch

I hit my final peak week!

I actually had the ultimate test in that it was my longest run and I had to do it solo. Previously, I had only ever run about 8-10 miles by myself and only a handful of times. Generally, at a race and having to split with whoever I was running with, or because my usual long run buddies weren’t available. But I had to go to California for work and I knew I just had the one and only weekend to get my run in. The following weekend was already going to be booked with two races so 20 had to be done on my own.

Lucky for me, I’m a planner, and I had a lot of friends in the area who offered some suggested areas to get in that distance. I ended up planning a lunch with friends in Capitola with the caveat that I would have just run 20 miles and would need a shower to de-stinkify before we could go out. They were in so I mapped out my route.

I ended up running from the Capitola Beach area to downtown Santa Cruz, past the boardwalk, and to the end of Cliff Dr. Then I turned around and ran back.

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It was an incredible run and so gorgeous. I couldn’t have asked for better weather, and I actually did alright solo. I listened to an audio book (a long, long audio book) and only started to get uncomfortable and antsy around mile 18, when I was just TIRED of being on my feet and the fact that I was still moving. I was tempted to call friends to tell them to meet up with me and just help me get to the end, but I made it. Not a step over 20 miles and I was done!

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Week 14
Total miles 10.1
Wow, not my best week! But I wasn’t just sitting around – I taught a bunch of PiYo classes and got in a couple of short runs… but then I was hit by a stomach bug and had to miss my long run. I tried to make it up the following week.

Week 15
Total miles 35.61
Long run miles 20, in California as I was traveling for a work conference
Cross training included Cycle and PiYo

Week 16
Total miles 19.27
Long run miles 13.1
I was in California all week and pretty slammed with activities. I got in my long run and a mid-week run but aside from that I just didn’t have time. However, once I was back in NC, I was back at it… instantly coming home to run a 5k on Saturday and a half marathon (Durham Bull City Race Fest) on Sunday. I PR’d in both and have been working on getting back into my regular running and PiYo routine since to make sure I’m ready for race day.

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So now, I’m back in North Carolina and I’ve been running all weekend and week. Doing some PiYo to stretch things out, and working on speed and just getting my miles in. Just two more weekend runs (all tapers now) and then we’re at marathon weekend! I’m excited and scared… but I’m looking forward to being there with my friends and crossing this off my list!

Marathon training peak weeks

This is it! Just one really long run and then it’s all downhill for my marathon training. Tomorrow is a shorter run (12 miles), but next week it’s 20 and then the taper starts.

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Running solo in Savannah

Things I am finding with this training process is that the weeks that I really follow the plan (I know, crazy, right?) and do the proper amount of mid-week mileage, I generally have an easier time during my long runs. Sometimes, it’s just hard to fit it all in to properly do that! I’m now teaching at the Y several times a week, in addition to working full time and two young kids, oh and I just added in being a Coach for Girls on the Run… that and we keep a pretty active schedule on top of everything else. It adds up and can definitely be tiring. Balance is not there yet, but it will come one day, right?

That being said, I find that I really do LOVE teaching PiYo. It makes it an even more challenging workout for myself – I really push myself when I’m teaching – and it already has so many great benefits that help balance out these grueling long runs that I’m packing in. My calves have been so very tight, as well as my hips, so I really feel some of the stretches that are in the routines. Water aerobics has been really fun, too. I love the people in the classes and it isn’t quite so high impact (I’m still demonstrating on the deck), but I’m getting a workout or at least moving around constantly while I’m doing it.

Here’s my training breakdown for the last few weeks:

Week 10
Total miles 24.5
Long run miles 6.2 miles, so not so bad!
Cross training included PiYo with a side of more PiYo

Week 11
Total miles 45(!!!)
Long run miles 18 miles. Boom.
Cross training included PiYo and Zumba. But as evidenced by my mileage, I really focused on making my weekday runs count.

Week 12
Total miles 26.6
Long run miles 13.1
Cross training included Cycle and PiYo

Week 13
Total miles 27.1
Long run miles 19 miles (getting closer!)
Cross training included Zumba and teaching water aerobics twice

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My marathon running crew

I’m getting nervous for the big day in November… it’s coming up fast! But I’m feeling pretty prepared. I have my longest run while I happen to be traveling for work. A whopping 20 miles! I’ll be in California so I’ve already researched a few routes I could do. I think I’ll be sticking to some flat, beach path terrain. It’s be nice to 1. see the scenes of home, and 2. be somewhere completely new from a running perspective for such a long distance solo. The week after I get back I’m doing the Gigi’s Cupcake 5k for Make a Wish Foundation and then the Durham Bull City Race Fest half marathon the following day. That will be the start of my last taper. Two weeks down after that and then (fanfare) the Savannah Rock ‘n Roll Full Marathon! I’m excited for the weekend trip with friends. And the jacket. And of course, the medals (yes, plural). I should be getting at least three: the full marathon, the triple RnR medal, and then the completion of the Southern Charm race trio… the whole reason I signed up for this crazy year of racing in the first place! If I’m counting correctly, I will have done 5 half marathons, 1 full marathon, and a handful of 5ks and 5 milers… only to kick off the New Year with the Goofy Run. So until then, it’s time to get some rest because tomorrow is Long Run Sunday!

 

Playing catchup

Life has been crazy in the last two months. I mean, it’s always busy. Two toddlers, both of us working full-time… but then throw in my recent certification, prepping to teach (practicing, building routines, memorizing routines, working on cueing, confidence, form, etc), auditioning and getting hired to teach, ramping up the boys Summer and then transitioning into Fall activities, training for my first full marathon… well, you get the picture. I might have bitten off more than I can chew, or I have certainly felt that way at times. But I do feel like we’re falling into a routine.

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Work is still intense, but my family keeps me grounded. My fitness instruction and marathon training also surprisingly gives me time to think or de-stress, even if it sometimes causes me stress as well. I was a nervous wreck for my first few classes, but I’m so thankful for the practice time that I had and for the friends who have supported me along the way. They showed up to my classes and cheered me on, and gave me feedback about things they liked or what I could work on. I’m definitely feeling growing confidence in what I’m doing, and adjusting certain things as I gain experience.

Marathon training has been hard, but not quite as scary as what I would have imagined a year ago. Rachel and Heather have joined me on every long run as they’ll be there on race day in Savannah, too. But Stephanie hasn’t been out of the picture! We have made it a point to run together during the week – early mornings that feel awful at the time but so good when we’re done! She’s doing the half marathon so we’re working at getting her ready in time too, though the long run distances are a bit more than what she wants to sign up for at the moment (next year we’ll get her!).

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I’ll fill you in on the other things that have been going on in separate posts since there’s been too much to recap in just one post, but for now, here’s a recap of my marathon training since week 2 back in July.

Week 3
Total miles 21.35
Long run miles 11.3
Cross training included PiYo, Cycle, and Bootcamp

Week 4
Total miles 19.82
Long run miles 8.21
Cross training included PiYo, Water Fitness, Bosu

Week 5
Total miles 22
Long run miles 12
Cross training included PiYo, Water Fitness, Strength, Intervals, and Zumba

Week 6
Total miles 11.8
Long run miles n/a… was at DCAC Fitness Convention all weekend
Cross training included Cycle, Water Fitness, then a whole lot of seminars at DCAC

Week 7
Total miles 21.4
Long run miles 14 awful miles
Cross training included PiYo, Cycle, Kickboxing

Week 8
Total miles 27.71
Long run miles 15.01
Cross training included Cycle, PiYo, Zumba

Week 9
Total miles 27.4
Long run miles 13.1
Cross training included Cycle, PiYo, Water Fitness, Zumba

Marathon training kickoff

Two weeks ago, I kicked off my training for my first full marathon!  I’m running Rock N Roll Savannah in November with my friend, Rachel, and my other friend, Stephanie, will be running the half with us (if it’s the same course as last year, you essentially run the first 11 or so miles together until it splits off for the full).

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I’m a little nervous to run a full… especially since I swore I never would! But the running bug has bit me hard and after running about half a dozen half marathons at this point, I feel like the obvious next step is to attempt a full. So, I did bit of research and picked the Hal Higdon Novice 2 Marathon training program. As I haven’t done a full before, it seemed a little strange to look at the novice plans, but I also do a decent amount of mileage already during the week (my average short run is 4-6 miles), and my long runs are consistently between 8-10 miles every weekend.

I did modify the plan slightly with the mid-week run schedule that works better for me, and also, I already do a fair amount of cross training with Cycle and PiYo, so I’ve just adjusted and made sure to include some additional strength training classes in the meantime. The hardest part for me is really making sure I have adequate rest days as well as keeping up with runs as the summer starts to really heat up here in Raleigh. I’m not too worried about maintaining my runs but I know they’ll just be painful. I’m not really into early morning running but I know I need to get my butt out of bed to get it done before the humidity is unbearable.

I’m also using the Believe Training Journal by Lauren Fleshman and Roisin McGettigan-Dumas. I love that it’s specifically for runners or fitness goals and the various motivational prompts and workouts are great. It’s definitely helping me to keep track of my running goals for the year, even beyond the full marathon (almost immediately after I’m doing the RunDisney Goofy challenge). It also gives me a good overview of my times and the cross training that I do. I’m able to see my overall mileage at the end of the week and document my ‘moods’ for my workouts, as well as track how I would rate them and any additional notes I’d want to keep track of.

Here is a quick overview of the first two weeks of my training:

Week 1
Total miles 15.8
Long run 8 miles
Cross training included Cycle and PiYo

Week 2
Total miles 19.18
Long run 9 miles
Cross training included Cycle, PiYo, Barre, Zumba, and Water Aerobics

Do you have any tips for a first time marathon runner? What are some things that you wish you knew before you ran your first marathon?

Continuing education

Wow, things have been busy around here! I thought that after I completed my certifications, that I’d get a chance to breathe, but it was the opposite. That’s when I really had to turn up the energy level and really get down to practicing. And it’s hard. It’s not something that I can just do a few times and ‘boom!’ I’ve got it down. It’s been a whole new mindset for me.

Let me explain.

So, I really am generally a pretty shy person. I used to call myself an introvert. I don’t know if I would necessarily 100% take that title now, but I definitely have a hard time in new situations, public speaking stresses me out, and being the person standing at the center of the room: cue anxiety. Well, obviously that just isn’t going to fly with teaching GROUP fitness!

Immediately after getting my certifications, I did two things: First, I worked on building my routines. If it was PiYo, it involved memorizing the round to where I could understand what would happen next, the timing, and how I would cue it… what modifications were available, how to prepare for the next movement, etc. For cycle, this involved finding songs (much harder than I thought, especially finding ‘clean’ songs if I want to teach someplace like the Y); again songs at the right speed, the right ‘feel’, and overall fit in with the program of what I wanted to achieve. Based on my Schwinn certification, I knew I had to set the overall foundation of what I wanted a particular class to focus on (hills, intervals, speed, etc), break that down into chunks of time, and then find the music that would go along with it. There’s so much more to it than that, but that’s the gist of it.

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Practicing PiYo. Every time I do it, I learn something new or I focus on how I can improve and get stronger overall.

I realized that teaching cycle in particular was going to be harder than I thought because of the amount of ‘freedom’ that came with it. I created a class and it took HOURS. For just one class! Then I went and tested it out on my own… and found that a couple of the songs just didn’t fit. So I had to go back and change it. I talked to friends that are cycle instructors and they all assured me that it would get easier and that I would find a formula that worked for me, or a repertoire of songs or just the ability to hear the right beat immediately and know it would work with whatever I was trying to do… but in the meantime, it’s definitely been a slow learning process.

Then, there’s PiYo. I also assumed that this would be easy to pick up. I’ve been practicing PiYo for over a year now, so how hard could it be to learn a routine and teach it myself? Ok, well, harder than I expected. Thankfully, it does seem that the first is the hardest to learn. Now that I feel like I have my initial round ‘down’, I started on a second one and pretty much had it in a couple of hours and was ready to practice teaching it to a friend. But the first round definitely had growing pains. I couldn’t believe the amount of variation of moves in certain sections, and getting the timing and proper holds down. I would listen and re-listen to songs over and over again. I practiced every. single. day. I had friends over regularly to practice with, if I wasn’t just going through it on my own. But thankfully, that gave me a lot of confidence. The cueing definitely became more natural and the timing fell into place. Granted, I am by no means an expert! But I definitely have more confidence behind my practice. I’m still trying to learn more every day, and I keep breaking down moves to make sure I’m really performing them right, or if I find I’m doing something wrong or that there’s a better way to do it, then I want to learn it.

And through it all, I’ve had a wonderful support group. Sure, there’s always going to be critics, but we all had to start somewhere right? Oh no wait, some people were apparently doing this stuff straight from the womb apparently.

Kidding.

Kinda.

I’ve had some amazing friends come to my classes, or allow me to co-teach or sub their classes while they offer me feedback. Friends have come to my house and had my fur babies wandering on their yoga mat while we worked on sun salutations. I’ve gone to friends houses and tried to keep the music turned down low enough that we didn’t wake the sleeping toddlers while we did power squats and burpees. It’s been pretty amazing.

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After the first class that I taught solo the whole way through. Woohoo! Such an amazing experience.

So I’m excited for the next step. I’m working towards starting to sub classes, and hopefully I’ll soon have my own regular classes on the docket. I’m still practicing pretty much daily. Between taking classes for more experience, working on my own routines, and then kicking off my marathon training, it’s been busy in my fitness world.

Weekend recap: Beetles, and roaches, and spiders, oh my!

This weekend was pretty gluttonous overall. It seemed to have an air of celebration about it. Which normally I would still keep pretty focused through, but it seemed like a nice time to adopt the ‘treat yo’self’ motto and go all out.

Friday night, hubby and I went on a date night to try out a new (to us) local restaurant. It was delicious but very indulgent – the meal ending with a slice of tiramisu cheesecake if that’s any indicator. We had big plans for Saturday, but wanted to enjoy his Father’s Day dinner celebration the night before.

Saturday, we headed to the Museum of Life and Science in Durham. This is one of our favorite local activity spots since moving to the area. We loved it so much that we got season passes because it’s such an excellent value, and we try to go at least once a month. The indoor area has interactive science exhibits for kids, but unlike most museums, they really cover all age ranges – from preschool to adults. Most places seem to skip or just gloss over the preschool age range, but this museum has it all.

The outdoor area is huge and has playgrounds, a small farm to see livestock, a water misting park area, butterfly and insect house, train that loops around the park, dinosaur exhibit, mini zoo type section with various animals, and the newest feature is a giant outdoor tree-house play area called Hideaway Woods. So needless to say, we try to make it out to the museum as much as possible. Recently, they sent a short survey asking about how we liked the museum, what features we enjoyed, etc. It mentioned the opportunity to win a prize for completing the survey but I mainly filled it out as I’ve recently had to distribute surveys as part of my regular role and am amazed by how few people actually reply. The survey was short and we happen to love the museum so I was happy to fill it out. Well, shortly afterwards, I received an email stating that we won the membership survey prize. Woohoo! Oh wait, it’s a private insect encounter? Um, is there an option B?

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Butterfly bench in front of the butterfly house.

I’ll admit, critters are not my thing. Unless they’re cute, furry, and respond with a ‘meow’ or ‘woof’, I generally try to keep away. But, I decided that the boys would probably all really enjoy it and I could learn a thing or two about the bugs in our new home state. This weekend also happened to be exactly three years from when we relocated from California to North Carolina. It seemed like it would be a fun way to celebrate at a local attraction hanging out with local insects.

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Petting the rhinoceros beetle.

I coordinated times, everything was set in place, and we arrived at the museum for our  insect encounter. They radio’d the butterfly house when we arrived at the museum to let them know we were on our way. We were greeted at the front entrance by Uli who manages the butterfly house and surrounding grounds. He then introduced us to Annie who was one of the on-site entomologists. She instantly started showing Ian a bug (a walking leaf?) that was hanging out on her shirt and I knew I was in for quite the experience. They took us directly into the back room that housed quite a few insects that would typically be on display in their front room… a room I will admit, I generally avoid. I tried to keep cool when a huge (in my opinion) rhinoceros beetle was suddenly being held out in front of us. I’d never seen one in person and instantly hoped Ian would be able to relate it to his Bugs Life movie and not freak out like I was doing in my head. He was skeptical but Graeme was all over it. He instantly wanted to poke at it and grab it. It was a pretty cool looking bug and I even gave in and touched it.

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Annie with the roaches.

Next, they brought out a big tank of roaches. Ok, now we’re really getting into a ‘not my thing’ territory. But the way they were handling them so easily really made them seem a lot more harmless than I play them out to be in my mind. Still, I’d rather not see them in my house, but maybe I’ll be a little bit calmer if I ever do (probably not). Annie showed us a few more bugs including more walking leaves and walking sticks, as well as another large beetle. Then it was on to the big guns: the tarantula came out. Uli held it like it was nothing and let it hang out on his leg. We were all given the chance to pet it though it had just molted so they didn’t want us poking and prodding too much (don’t have to tell me twice). We did get to see the leftover ‘shell’ of the tarantula… pretty sure I would move if I ever found that lying around my property.

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Uki showing the freshly molted tarantula.

After that, we headed to the back room of the butterfly area where we could hang out with the butterflies that were waiting to be released into the main butterfly house. It was really neat seeing the inside of the room and hearing about their prepping of the butterflies for release, lifespan, etc. Both boys were more interested in playing with the wet stones that were in the room to help with the air moisture. But afterwards, we went into the main butterfly house where we could see them eating and flying around a bit more freely. Finally, we made one last stop in the insect room and said bye to Annie, Uli, and all of the insects. They gave us a parting gift bag as a final part of our prize. It included a butterfly kit, a butterfly garden kit, a butterfly in glass, and a butterfly necklace. It really was such a wonderful treat and a great experience overall. We headed out after having a delicious lunch at the museum cafe. They have some fresh and healthy options so we always like to have lunch on-site before heading home for naps and afternoon activities.

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In the afternoon, I headed to the Y to practice teaching a round of PiYo with a couple of friends, then met the family at the pool to wear us all out before the evening. I ended up going out to a Labyrinth and David Bowie tribute night at the local art museum. It’s one of my favorite childhood movies so I will take any excuse to watch it, especially in such a fun setting.

Sunday morning meant it was time for a long run. My first one since the Virginia half so we kept it simple. One 8 mile loop on our main Umstead drag. Hilly, but familiar, and it was nice to be out in nature (you know, especially now that the bugs and I are besties). The weather was perfect and it was great to catch up with Rachel as it had been a couple of weeks since we had run together. Afterwards, our two families indulged and had brunch at the local donut and biscuit shop that just opened up a new branch by us. It’s James’ favorite donut shop in the area so it was a perfect Father’s Day treat for him.

I took Ian with me on some errands in the afternoon so James could get a break while Graeme napped, and then we had some friends over for some BBQ and kiddie pool time in the evening. Now, it’s time for more PiYo Live practice as my first class is this time next week! It was a great weekend, though as usual I can’t get over how fast it flew by. I’m looking forward to tackling the week and getting back on track with my healthy habits.

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Ian checking out the butterfly in glass that was part of our gift. Graeme took off with the tissue that you see scattered around the room.