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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

4 Baby Products We Should All Be Using

I was blessed with three beautiful children in four very short years so it is safe to say that my family in complete, barring God's will of course. I would be just fine if I no longer birth any more children, and most days I do feel like 3 kids is enough.

Even though I don't plan to have babies anymore, there are baby products we still use in our home. When my kids started outgrowing the baby stuff, it was kind of nice to purge the items we no longer used or needed. But I have to admit that there are some I still keep around, and plan to keep around for awhile.

1. Whether you have one kid, five kids, or no kids, Boudreaux's Butt Paste (and only this brand of ointment) is at the top of my list. When my kids were in diapers I swore by this amazing product. It worked faster than any other diaper rash treatment I tried (and with three babies in four years, I've tried them all!). I haven't had a kid in diapers for over 10 months, but I've purchased at least two tubes of this since that time. I plan to continue to buy it until... well... forever? It is great while teaching older kids proper toiletry practices to have this incredible stuff around, for comfort when they don't follow those proper practices as well as they should. And it's not just the kids. I'll admit that I have used this miraculous mound of messiness several times after those long runs of training for half and full marathons... Chaffing anyone?

2. Baby wipes are also staples of parenting older kids. They are great for wiping up quick spills, helping kids clean up stickiness in the car or during crafts, and they literally take the stains out of about anything, just ask Oprah who featured baby wipes as a miracle product a few years back. And of course they can still be used in their intended function when young kids are working on those aforementioned toiletry skills; wipes are a great way to help them keep clean. For moms wipes are good for removing stubborn make-up too.

3. Another baby item that I love are those little cotton infant wash clothes. But it has to be the ones without the cloth trim- just small, really thin cotton washcloths. I no longer use them for cleaning snugly bathing babies; today they are used to wipe down stainless steel appliances, counter tops, mirrors and dishes.

4. My final favorite infant items are cups with lids. My kids are are 3, 5 and 6, and all are getting too old for sippy cups. But I still use a version of them whenever I can. Not the cute, chunky, squishy cups. I like to reuse the disposable plastic cups that have lids and straws. When I have the kids use these I don't have to worry about spilled Apple juice in the living room, tipped-over milk before bed, or rough-housing which inevitably ends with drinks flying. And although I haven't done it yet, I have been tempted to top my wine glass with one of these lids... No judgement please.

So although I often feel sad that my three kids are getting older, I can nostalgically cling to a few little items we can still use and keep around the house.

I'd love to hear what infant products you and your family still use. Comment below!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Wickedly Fast Half

Well, the Garmin Wickedly Fast Half is over. If you are a regular reader of my blog you know that this was a different kind of race for me than I had wanted it to be. I had registered 6 months ago, hoping to blow my previous half marathon times out of the water. I decided to start training as hard as soon as I could, so when we had a streak of awesome weather this past January, I ran really hard. And really often. And I didn't listen to my body when my shin started hurting, brushing it off as normal pain. Well it wasn't normal pain. It was a stress fracture that kept me in an air cast for just over a month, and away from running for 2 months.

About a month ago I was able to start running without pain again, so my training for this half was not what I had planned. I did get a few 8s, a couple 10s and a 12 miler in before the race, but I had to train at a slower pace than I wanted.

But, I did run the race. 

And I didn't do as bad as I imagined I would.

Two of my munchkins helped me pick up my race 
packet the day before.

My daughter was my photographer at packet pick up.

Gear ready the night before.

Just before the start of the race.

Not only was my training a little different this time, but this was my first Kansas City race that I ran alone. I usually have a running buddy, but she opted to sit this one out. 

My goal, which was ambitious simply due to coming off the stress fracture, was to finish in under 2 hours. I decided to start the race with the 1:55 pace group and I did stay with them until about mile 4. At mile 4 I pushed ahead of the group a little cause I was feeling really good. But I was cautious.

Then a pretty big hill hit the race route.

After the hill, I slowed my pace just a little and the 1:55 pace group caught up to me. I stuck with them until about mile 8 when they just got too fast for me. My lack of training was catching up with me. I knew though that as along as the 2:00 pace group stayed behind me I would be able to finish at the pace I had hoped for. Miles 10 and 11 were kinda hard for me, but I felt great by mile 12 through the end.

It rained a little, but the heavy rain and hail didn't happen until I passed the finish line, which was at 1:58:27. My average pace was 9:03. Not my fastest half, but not my slowest either. Last year I ran this half in 1:55:49, with an 8:51 average pace.

I finished in the top 16% of women my age. I finished in the top 13% of all women. I finished in the top 25% of all runners (throwing in the men kills my percentage a little!). 

Since it was supposed to rain during the race, I hadn't expected my husband to bring the kids out to cheer me on. Boy was I surprised when I saw them at the finish line! It was such a wonderful way to finish the race. I love it when my kids get to see me run; I think it helps me get re-energized to pull through, but more than anything I am role modeling healthy behavior. I want them to see that their mom is a strong woman that can accomplish goals through hard work and perseverance.

And of course, they also got me flowers!

MapMyRun Splits.

A nice week for miles.

Overall this race was a good experience. This was my 2nd time running it. The medals for this one are always really awesome. The shirts are great. I love that the race has the Wizard of Oz theme. It is one of my favorites to run. I will say the support of the volunteers in the Des Moines Marathon was a little better; there were hilarious signs all over the place and the spectators and volunteers use your name to cheer you on because it is printed on your bib. The Garmin didn't have a true photographer this year; you only had pictures taken of you if you did the full. I waited all week to post this, hoping to include some professional race pictures, but after researching a little I found out that they didn't have any of me. That was a little disappointing.

It's strange, but it felt weird running just a half marathon this time. The last race I ran was in October and it was my first full marathon, so I kind of I felt like this wasn't that much of an accomplishment anymore. I remember talking to a fellow marathoner in October before the race, he was running his 20th marathon, and when I asked him how many halfs he had run and he whispered to me that he doesn't even count those anymore. I remember thinking that he, although very nice, sounded a little like a "snobby runner," if there is such a thing.

I do see what he means now. It definitely is different running a half marathon after you have run a full marathon. This will be something I have to continue to consider as I register for more races and set my running goals each year.

In the end, I am really proud that I was able to get back out there after injury and run this race, even though I knew it would be hard. Some people give up after injury because they are afraid to re-injury. Others give up because you literally have to start from scratch when you've taken two months off. Last fall I ran 26.2 miles in one race! Six weeks ago I had to start at a hard 3 mile run again and somehow work my endurance up to 13.1 miles for this race in a pretty short amount of time.

But I did it. And that is pretty cool.

I am going to start incorporating some other types of workouts into my regimen this summer, while still trying to get 15-20 miles of running in per week too. And then in August I will start training again for my big running goal this year: 2 Halfs in 2 days.

I already have running partners to keep me going during those races this fall, my husband and my brother, so I am a lucky girl.

I just hope I can keep up with them!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Giveaway and Product Review: Jamberry Nails

I was recently approached by Jamberry nail wraps consultant Jessica Pedigo who gave me sample accent nails to try so that I could review them and discuss my honest opinion of the product. Not only am I reviewing these wraps, but Jessica wants me to give a manicure set of Jamberry wraps away to one lucky reader too! You can enter above. Here is my review.

I have a unique perspective to the use of these nail applications as a runner because I, like many runners, despise my ugly running toes! Running is so hard on my feet- from blisters to toe nails that turn blue and fall off, my feet are rarely pretty. Nor are they something I enjoy showing off. Jamberry may change that though...

Because this product is typically used on the nails of your hands, I tried this product out on my fingernails as well. This was different for me because I don't usually wear nail polish since I can never get it to stay on for very long. Doing the dishes, laundry, cooking, playing outdoors with the kids- all of these contribute to nail polish never lasting. Again, Jamberry may change that too.

Jessica sent me a little application package with all the tools I needed for proper application, sans my hairdryer. 

It took me about 35 minutes, from start to finish, to apply six nails, and paint my remaining 14 with regular polish. It was important that I painted some nails with regular polish while using Jamberry nails on some so that a thorough comparison between the two could be had over a seven day period.

There are a few application methods to choose from, and I went with the one that I felt seemed the easiest. There are videos posted on the Jamberry website that definitely helped me figure out what I was doing and were easy to watch while attempting to apply the nails. Jessica had also sent me step-by-step directions in my application kit. The first nail was hard to figure out, but after that it became easier. The tool above, although intended to help push back cuticles, really helped since the little nail wraps are very adhesive to the touch.

Once securely adhered and smoothed down, I used my blow dryer to warm the nail prior to and after it was applied to my finger nail. Then the Jamberry nail wrap had to be trimmed. This was the hardest part for me because I did not have nail scissors. I used nail clippers which were fine, but not ideal. For a day or so after application I kept clipping off tiny little rough edges until I was happy with the shape of my nail.

I may have trimmed my nails a little too much. I noticed after a few days the wrap seemed to settle a little lower than the top of my nail. Not really a big deal, but something that I noticed.

The accent nails after applied.

Okay here is the brutal truth to toe nails and being a runner. Inevitably, at least one of your nails always look like this one. Six months ago my second toe didn't even have a nail, so the fact that it is now merely bruised and misshapen is an improvement. 

Here is my second nail with the wrap on. The wrap may not have been a perfect fit, but for the purpose of this review, it was fine. Here is my foot with the wrap (blue) and then regular pink polish.

I used one pink patterned and one floral wrap on two of my fingers on each hand, and then a blue wrap on one toe on each foot. The rest of my nails were painted. I wanted to give the painted nails the best possible chance to compete with the wraps, so I painted them the right way. One clear base coat, two thin color layers, and a clear top coat. I let every coat dry thoroughly before applying the next. I used OPI and China Glaze polishes, both quality brands.

Here are my nails at the end of my first day, about 10 hours in. All perfect.

By day 2, my pointer finger had already started to chip.

By day 5 I had contacted Jessica and told her I didn't think I could go much longer without touching up the polished nails! She reminded me that this was for my blog, so I had to STAY STRONG!

Final day of the comparison challenge. My pointer and thumb painted nail polish was more than half off. My ring finger was chipping. Keep in mind that those nails were all regular polish. My pinky, covered with a Jamberry wrap, was near perfect, as was my middle finger, also a wrap. I will say that the middle finger did chip ever so slightly, but did not continue to chip like the regular nail polished ones did.

And the true test... Could the blue Jamberry wrap make it through 10 miles of training throughout the week and then 13.1 miles of a half marathon- on the sixth day of the challenge? YES! It looks perfect! Although my painted big toe looked great still too, my other little toes with regular paint were starting to chip a little.

So, in the end, what do I think? Are they worth it? YES! Jamberry nails are worth the cost and the time it takes to apply them. I haven't removed them yet, and do not plan to until I have to, so I don't have a review of that part of the process. 

Want to know what the best part of this review is? Jessica wants to give away a free manicure set of Jamberry nail wraps, as well as a mini application kit like she sent me. Isn't that great! You can enter at the Rafflecopter above. Also, if you private message Jessica on Facebook, she will send you a free accent wrap like she sent me, so that you can do the 7 day challenge and try it for yourself! If you are interest in buying the wraps, she can help you with that too.

Isn't that AWESOME!?!?! You have one week to enter, and you can submit up to 4 entries. Once the giveaway is over, I will contact you so that I can get your mailing address for Jessica. Then she will send you your FREE JAMBERRY NAIL WRAPS! You can enter above this post!

(If you have trouble seeing the Rafflecopter Giveaway because you are accessing this post from your phone, check out this post as the web version (link at the bottom of this blog) or from a PC or computer and you will see the Rafflecopter Giveaway at the top of my blog feed).

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Something They Never Told Me About Having a Daughter

When I was a little girl I always, without fail, imagined that if I became a mother I would have two boys.

I have no idea why, but even before I had children I used to have these vivid dreams of blonde little toddler boys running through the front door. It's strange but I was just always very certain I'd have two sons.

And my premonitions were correct- God blessed me with two amazing little boys. And yes they are both very blonde.

What I didn't envision was that I'd have a daughter too.

I know it sounds crazy, but I never truly believed that I would have one. I remember very clearly the day when I found out that she was in fact a she. We were at *the appointment* when parents have an ultrasound and can find out what the sex of their baby is. I recall being very certain it was a boy; the pregnancy had felt identical to my first pregnancy before I gave birth the my first son.

I would have put money on it.

Well it is a good thing I didn't because when the technician told us that I was pregnant with a girl, I almost fell off my chair. What?!?! I was truly shocked and for some reason, I just felt throughout the remainder of my pregnancy that the tech had to be wrong. I had always pictured those two little boys in my life plan. What was I going to do with a girl?

Of course, anything can happen with pregnancy so I'm not sure why I was so set on only having boys.

So when my girl was born, I ran with it. Big bows and huge flowers strapped to her head. Pink tutus, frilly dresses, polka dot leggings and those adorable little socks that look like ballet slippers overflowed her drawers. She had tiny Toms, furry boots, and Stride Rite shoes galore. Even her itty bitty little tennis shoes (ya know the ones that aren't even used for walking because, well, babies can't walk?) had to be the newest Pumas or of Nike brand.

I have to gush- the girl dressed better than me.

But then she got older.

My baby girl became a toddler girl. A toddler that I learned very quickly had her very own personality. And as she became a child and was no longer a toddler, that personality flourished. She is really an amazing little girl now, but not the little girl I expected. She is not the fashion conscious, dainty little lady I thought that all little girls had to be; that all little girls were.

The little girl that I once was.

My little girl is tough. She is brave. She boldly makes her own decisions. She knows what she likes. She knows what she does not like. She is not impressionable. She is determined.

She is athletic, she has an incredible memory (which isn't always good!), is a natural leader, but yet has the kindest heart I have ever seen.

What no one ever told me about having a daughter is that she wouldn't be exactly like me. 

Sometimes I get a little jealous when I see other mothers with their carbon copy miniatures and I wonder how fun it must be to have a daughter that wants to wear sparkly shoes and trendy boutique outfits. A girl that wants to get pedicures and have her hair done.

I was very girly and feminine as a child, and loved to look pretty and really had to push myself to do anything that I thought might hurt (like catching a ball or riding a bike!). My daughter plays in the mud, picks up bugs, tackles her brothers when they make her mad, and she schools the neighborhood boys in all things sport.

We have an agreement that if I get to dress her for preschool (although I still try to choose things that I know she doesn't hate completely) then she gets to choose what she wears after school or on days when we aren't leaving the house.

It's inevitable and no longer novel when she chooses her brothers' clothes, jerseys and jeans, baseball pants or spider man masks. I don't even argue with her anymore.

As my little girl turns 5 years old this week I've found myself wondering what she is going be like some day. Although I'll admit that at first I had no idea what to do with this opinionated, athletic wonder of a daughter, I now am really excited to see what she does with her life.

She is truly the most amazing little girl I could have ever asked God for.

I love her unpredictable spirit and adorable uniqueness.

And you know what? It's kind of fun not knowing what she is going to walk out of her room wearing.

Just a few of the countless pictures of my little
lady wearing anything she wants.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A Surprising Twitter Support Community: #earthathon

Awhile back a friend of mine was telling me about how Twitter could be a great way to promote this blog. I already had two Twitter account, one for teaching so that I could communicate with my students and post interesting articles that relate to a course materials. My other Twitter account was pretty much left dormant. I had posted a few pictures of my kids and retweeted a few articles but I hadn't really done a whole lot with it over the two years since I opened it.

After some thought I decided to re-imagine my personal Twitter account. I changed my username, updated my cover photo, and used a profile picture that more reflected the theme of MamaGottaRun.

Not only is this a great way for me to get the word out when I publish new articles but I have found something that I didn't know necessarily existed in the Twitter community: I have found incredible support.

Through posting about my running I've gained over 900 followers so far in three months time. I'll admit sometimes people send you spam messages about some product they sell, but sometimes people contact you about great ideas too. About a month ago one of my followers asked me if I had ever heard of #earthathon. I had no idea what it was so I looked it up.

Simply put, Earthathon is the idea that individuals, who join teams, contribute their walking and running miles into a database that tallies the distance until the number of miles that it would take to run across the earth is achieved (250,000 miles).

It doesn't take much effort at all to join and it's free. Every time I go on a run (which I would do anyway) I simply login using my username and I input my miles. Once I've done that, I (optionally) tweet about it.

This is where the amazing support of Twitter comes along.

Since I've joined #earthathon any time that I post using the hashtag #runderfulrunners (the name of the team I joined) or #earthathon, runners all over the world comment, retweet, and favorite my runs. It is so weird, but these complete strangers have become so important to me that I get excited after I post about my runs on Twitter, knowing that other runners around the world are seeing my contribution. I feel bad if I don't contribute miles each week, so it helps with accountability too. I also get to support them as they tweet about their miles as well.

Anyone can become part of this group, so if you are a runner or a walker that uses Twitter you should consider joining. It has truly been an amazing experience. So many of the runners post pictures of where they were running. From a beautiful scene on a trail in Australia, to a lush green field somewhere in England, to a mountain hike in Colorado: it truly feels like we are passing the baton around the earth.

My own recent contribution to the beauty of running outdoors.

A recent #earthathon picture I posted after an 8 mile run.

I'm not sure what happens once we #earthathon participants have reach our 250,000 mile goal, but I'm sure the relationships that I've found on this journey will continue as we all still follow each other on Twitter.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Half Marathon Training: Just One Week to Go!

Running keeps our friendship strong.

I am getting very excited for my half marathon next weekend. Surprisingly, training has been going really well over the last few weeks. I have been pretty nervous about re-injuring my previous stress fracture in my tibia, but so far so good.

I will say that when I'm running now I am constantly sensitive to every single ache, twinge or the slightest discomfort. Prior to my injury I never once thought twice about minor pains or my tired body when running.

This past weekend I was able to help a friend who is training for her first marathon. Jen (in the center picture above) of just a mom giving it a tri who also started Schmitt Fitness, is training for Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota this summer. On Saturday her and I and our good friend Brandi (who is running 2015 miles in 2015 with me) set out to see how far we could go. Jen was determined to get 12 in but Brandi and I had decided that we would just try to get in as many miles as we could. Any miles we could do with Jen would make her run more manageable. Jen blogged about her run that day if you are interested.

Although I ran a little slower than my normal pace I was easily able to get all 12 miles in. This makes me very happy, as I wasn't sure if I would be ready for 13.1 miles next week. And even better news is that I wasn't even sore afterward at all, but I did have some minor G.I. issues the few hours following my run likely due to possible dehydration or failure to reload carbs or nutrition during the run.

I will be doing a 10 mile run this weekend as my last long training run and then I will get two 5 mile runs in next week so that I am ready for the Garmin half marathon next Saturday. 

I rocked the steps with my fit bit last week.

It was a great week for running and I 
was able to get almost 32 miles in.

Although it was a colder run than I am used to, with temps
 in the mid 30s, it was so beautiful the morning of our 12 mile run.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

2015 Miles in 2015: March Summary

A recent amazing morning run view from 
the trails in my neighborhood.

Sheeeee's baaaack....!!!

I am healed! I can proudly say that I am running pain free, and motivated to start working on my running goals for 2015. It has been a long 10 weeks since my stress fracture, but I am coming back stronger than ever. From wearing an air cast and taking 5 weeks off from running, to starting to slowly run again, to still having pain, to taking another week off from running, to... NOW! This last week or so I have ran 6 miles 3 times, 5 miles once, and speed walked 5 1/2 miles and I am finally, finally, pain free.

I know recovery is a long road so I am trying not to push myself too hard, but just being able to run again and not feel pain in my tibia, is truly amazing. 

During March, even with taking one week off over spring break to give my leg a little longer of a rest, I was still able to reach my March 2015 Miles team goal. I completed a total of 64.33 miles, even more than my goal of 60 miles this month. I am very proud of each and every one of those miles.

Now, I am continuing to build endurance for my the Garmin half marathon on April 18th, and trying to get some longer runs in without pushing my leg too much. I am more tired than I was while running prior to my injury, but I am good at pushing through that. Injury though is impossible to push through and I am constantly reminding myself of that fact. It is so difficult some days to make sure I have one day of rest between runs; all I can think about right now is being ready for that race in 3 weeks. I need to get an 8 miler in this week, and a 10 miler in next week in order to feel mentally ready. I also need to make sure that most of my runs from here on out are 5-7 miles to keep building my lungs up. 

Fingers crossed I have enough time to get ready and be able to run the whole 13.1... I will keep you posted. 

In meantime, look at how awesome Brandi, Kate and I are doing! In case you missed their March articles, both Brandi and Kate have been writing about their experience with our 2015 Miles in 2015 challenge too.

The 2015 Miles Team accomplishments so far... 1/4 of the way done!