Sunday, December 13, 2015

{Turkey} Trotting to Confidence

As my coach always say, physical confidence leads to mental confidence, and my confidence is building. 

One of my all time favorite holiday/running traditions is the Turkey Trot.  What better way to start the holiday than to get in a few miles {2 or 8} with friends & family!? I love seeing all of the families who come out for the occasion, and its great to see so many familiar faces on the course. This is never a race I train and taper for, but no matter where I am at in my running/training cycle, I always get out there for some fun! 

One year we dressed up.

Last year I ran with a 10 year old! {Amazing experience} 

This year I set out to test my fitness. 

I've been putting in the miles...multiple easy runs a week, speed & tempo workouts, all topped off with a long run over the weekend.  My paces are dropping and my endurance & confidence are building.   I am really loving running these days! 

I didn't really have a goal per se for the run, or even a race plan, but ideally I wanted to come in at sub 8:30s, and negative split! 

With the temperature in the low 20s, Mark, Jen and I bundled up and headed to the race.

It was honestly so cold, it took everything is us to even get in a warm-up run...but we managed to get out there for a few minutes before heading back to comfort of the warm building.  Literally I was chilled to the bones, but I knew I would warm up once we started running, so I didn't want to overdress. 

The gun went off, and we were off and running! At one point I commented to Mark that if my feet didn't thaw, I wasn't sure I would make it...they were painfully frozen! After the first mile {I think everyone took off so fast mainly to warm-up}, I dialed us in to a smooth pace, with the goal to kick-it in the second half:

Mile 1: 8:18.41
Mile 2: 8:25.11
Mile 3: 8:30.71
Mile 4: 8:27.72

We rolled into the half, already at sub 8:30s, and I definitely had more left in the tank. After the turn around it was game on.  I slowly started picking up the pace, and I quickly realized I quite surprisingly had a lot left.  The last two races we have ran, Mark and I have been neck & neck with a guy who I have named Chicken Legs...he's a fabulous older gentleman who wears shorty short shorts, and has, you guessed it, chicken legs.  He is the nicest guy, but always seems to take us...but not today! I rolled up on him around mile 5, chatted for a second and then went on my way! 

Mile 5: 8:15.88

I continued to pass people and then around mile 6.5 I saw my dad's friend & running partner, who he told me I needed to beat, up ahead, and I knew I could catch him.  I came up on him around mile 7, and thought in my head to back off a tad so I had enough to really kick it in at the end {it's funny how your mind creates this doubt}, but as I rolled through mile 7, I knew I could maintain, so to the finish I pressed.

It was a running euphoria. 

I had a huge grin on my face as I made my way to the finish.  My training consistency was paying off.

Mile 6: 7:47.97
Mile 7: 7:20.47
Mile 8: 7:24.55

8 miles, 8:04/mile, 1:04.34
*over a 6 minute PR

We photobombed their finish. Or did they photobomb our picture?

The euphoria of success from the Turkey has fueled my desire to continue to diligently train and reach my goals. 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Wrapped & Sent With Love & MINTED

It's the most wonderful time of the year! 

The smell of gingerbread.  

The sights of lights, trees, and festive decorations.

The sounds of Christmas music.

The joy of the season.

One of my all time favorite parts of the season is running out to my mail box everyday, in anticipation of whose Christmas card I will receive that day.  I love reading about everyone's year in a brief, couple sentence overview.  I love seeing the happy, smiling faces of those who are near and dear to me.  

What other time in the year do we get to proudly display pictures of all of our loved ones, for all to see!? 

For this reason, Christmas cards are one of my all time favorite form of snail mail, right up there with handwritten Thank You cards.  

I don't know about you, but I save most of my Christmas cards from year-to-year! 

Haven't order your Christmas cards yet for this year!? No worries, head over to Minted to find the perfect card for every style & every budget. And BONUS, they offer FREE recipient address printing.  

Which one will you choose?


Christmas Postcard
Letterpress Photo Cards

Or maybe an ornament card? Or perhaps you are super creative and want to customize your own card? 

Whatever you decide, have fun with it, as each Christmas Card you send will bring joy to the recipient.  

*whatever card you decide to send, please include the age of the children pictured...something I always appreciate

Speaking of minted and joy, you have to check out their gift wrap, stickers and more

I love finding the perfect gift, but its more than what's inside the package, it's also about the presentation.  The small, carefully thought out details, to customize the gift specifically for that special person on your list.  

For the chef on your list, add a little sugar & spice, from wrapping paper to gift tags to stickers.

What grandparent wouldn't swoon over customized wrapping paper featuring their precious grandchildren?

Leave a lasting impression with the perfect finishing touch, a gift tag.

I have partnered with Minted to bring one lucky reader of my Leaps of Faith a little extra joy this holiday season! Enter my giveaway, ending Friday 12/11, for your chance to win a $50 Gift Code for Minted

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Running The Windy City

Austin,  Denver, Chicago, OH MY! 

Talk of a fall marathon start brewing in Spring and so a couple of us threw our names in the hat for the Chicago Marathon. With the luck of the draw we all got in,  and so began the planning for our racecation. 

*due to the fact that I ran a late Spring marathon, I took my coach's advice and sat this one out.  But don't you fret, I took my role as spectator/cheerleader quite seriously.

So 2 runners and 7 spectators headed to Chicago for the weekend, via trains, planes, and city buses.  Heidi found us a fabulous VRBO in Wrigleyville {which was quite perfect as the Cubs were playing the Cardinals in the world series that weekend...and most of the crew was coming from Missouri!} 

I arrived early on Friday, in time to head to the Oiselle team dinner! It's always fun to meet, in real life,  with teammates from across the county. 

One of my favorite ways to view the city is by foot...and because I wasn't participating in the marathon, I was able to set out on a long running tour of the city! And oh my, I fell in love with running even more in the windy city! It's magical!

As the support crew, it was important that we stayed properly fueled {caffeinated}, so first stop at the expo was Starbucks.  Parker and Ashton warned Addi that there would be lots of Starbuck stops on race day...they've clearly done this before. 

While at the expo we I ran into a dear friend of mine, who happens to be one of my favorite authors, Katherine Reay {if you haven't already done so, you need to check out her 3 books}.  Heidi and Heather are huge fans, and I knew they would be ecstatic to meet her, so they rushed over to say hi and grab a photo. So fun!!

After a long morning at the expo it was time to refuel and shake out some pre-race jitters, so to Burger Bar we went! Nothing like a the laughter from a photobooth to ease the nerves.

During our ride back on the "L," we met the most amazing cuber...a very nice young man putting himself through school to be a teacher.  He could solve a rubix cube in less than 30 was amazing! But what was more amazing was how interactive he was with us {the obnoxious, highly entertained tourists}, especially the children.  He would allow the kiddos to mix up the cube the best they could, and then see how long it would take him to solve it. He then provided them with some pointers on how to solve it, and allowed them to play around with his. A pretty unique experience! And one of the many reasons why I love public transportation.

That evening we invited friends over for a night of carb loading, poster making, and laughing.  The perfect pre-race celebration. 

And then is was race day! Meet our cheer squad captain, BOBBY! BOBBY was how our runners were going to spot us among the 1000s of spectators along the course.  Note to self...when carrying a balloon around in the windy city, wrap the string around a stick or something to prevent it from blowing all over the place! 

Team Fun! 

TROOPERS! It was windy, and cold in the shade of the buildings, but these 4 rallied! 

At our bathroom-plus-we-need-to-warm-up stop we had a minor disaster...BOBBY broke free! And the hotel staff brought out the ladder to rescue him. 

I brought some memories and inspiration with me for my cheering duties! 

BOOOOOBBBBBYYYYY she yelled as she rolled through the halfway mark! 

Happy to be at the finish line waiting for mom {auntie} and dad {uncle}.

Last year she was my #1 blessed to join her on the sidelines this year as we cheered our hearts out for everyone on the course. 

He's a marathoner!!!

No words needed...the emotion surrounding a marathon finish. 

A couple that runs together...

On our way back to our place we got to see some of the Cardinal players! 

Did I mention how much I love running through a new city!? I was in my own little runner's paradise.

And then, the moment us girls had been waiting for...a trip to the Drybar


It happened to be Columbus day, so when we met up with the guys and kiddos we stumbled across a parade with DANCING horses...I had never seen such a thing. 

We then made our way to a Chicago-Must-See...The Bean. 

That night was game three of the Cubs/Cardinal series, and I felt it was a MUST to go to the game, and in no time at all I convinced Heather of the same.  We watched the prices of tickets online all afternoon, discussed how much we were willing to spend, and then after losing several tickets online {they would sell to someone else before they were able to process my payment} we headed to the stadium with cash in hand. this point Nate and Jackson had bought tickets and were in the stadium watching the game, so we decided to do the same.  We talked to a few scalpers and then came across a guy who was selling 2 fairly good seats for a reasonable price. After inspecting the tickets {like we knew what we were looking for}, Heather and I looked at each other, exchanged a nod, handed him a big wad of money, took the tickets and sprinted {with huge smiles across our faces} to the gate...we were like giddy children...only to find out we were victims of a scam.  The tickets were no good. The scanners kept beeping at us and flashing red.  Moral of the story, if the scalper offers to go with you to the gate to ensure the tickets are legit, have him go with you.  We made lemonade out of lemons and had a great time meeting up with some of Heather's friends & watching the game from the bar at the stadium. The energy was electric, and quite an experience in and of itself.  One thing's for sure...we'll never forget that night in Chicago. 

The following morning my phone was hacked, and a memory was left. 

Oh how I love those silly smiles, and hate having to say goodbye! 

But once again Chicago was amazing and holds many amazing memories. wasn't goodbye, rather until we see you again! 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Rocky Mountain High

4 days after leaving Austin, I caught an early morning flight to Denver. My boss' son goes to CU {GO BUFFS!!!}, and this year's Family Weekend football game was against  U of it only made sense that I would go! I love any excuse to head to Colorado! And to top things off, it was also one of my best friend's birthdays that weekend...a win-win! 

Erin picked me up from the airport and we headed down to Larimer Square for the Firefighter Chili Cook Off, {Can we say HOT..HOT..HOT!} before heading back to pick up the girls from school. 

That evening I headed to Boulder to surprise MG {oops...I probably shouldn't have posted above picture of me in Colorado on social media} for his belated birthday dinner at Frasca.  I'll be honest, I don't even remember what we had {this post is a tad late}, but the food was fabulous! 

It's such a blessing to have friends that are family! And to be back in Boulder with them. 

The girls on Pearl Street! 

Saturday I headed back to Boulder for the game. And of course game day, especially during family weekend, wouldn't be complete without hitting up a few frat parties! Yes, that's right, frat parties! And somehow I was thrown in at the tail end of a drinking game {never a good idea} and ended up chugging a beer, while people chanting "Mom, mom, mom!" I think the entire thing was captured on snapchat....oh my! 

Back to the game! Despite it being cold, wet, and delayed due to lightning, it was great to be back in Boulder, with the Gambees! 

Fight CU down the field...

Auntie Holly! 

The entire crew! 

Sunday...time for the birthday celebration. And since we had so much fun doing the pubcrawler in Austin, we decided to do it again in Denver. It really is a great way to have fun with a large group of people, get in some exercise, and enjoy the sights, sounds {it's all about the playlist...It can buy me a boat...} and tastes {beer} of the city. Erin and I have decided this is a must-do for all of our trips. 

The Boys! 

Our attempt at reenacting our photo shoot from Austin! 

The gang!

The birthday celebration continued Monday morning, after we dropped the girls off at school. Reflexology foot massage anyone!? This was a pretty comical experience...foot massages in old ghetto fabulous recliners followed by couple style massages with complete strangers.  Nothing like sharing a massage room with someone you don't know while someone sits on your back and gives you the most intense back massage ever.  While I was fighting back laughter the entire time, it truly was the best $35 ever! We all left there with a dazed and confused look, not sure what exactly just happened...and laughed about it for the rest of the day.

We wrapped up our girls morning by enjoying local, organic pizza & salad, and wine at Sazza! Truly the best birthday weekend. 

That evening I had to say good bye to THIS face...oh my, miss Kylie and Audrey have held a special place in  Auntie Holly's heart since the day they were born! As I was packing up, I heard the girls telling Erin how they were going to miss Auntie's time for Audrey to grow her hair out so we can all take a trip on a plane! That's the deal...ponytail = plane ride! 

Football-Birthday Celebration-Being an auntie-reflex foot massage-pedal hopper-friends that are family-and more.  The perfect Colorado weekend! Until next time...