Our Baptism

Two months ago today, the mr and I took a big step in our faith. We had our baptism in front of our church family at New Life Center!

our baptism

Our church does water baptism in a pool on the altar area. It symbolizes dying to the old self and rising up out of the water new. While baptism isn’t necessary to go to Heaven, it is a pretty big step in faith. Letting that old self go and be made new is a pretty incredible feeling.

I’ve been a Christian since 1995 and had been sprinkle baptized as a baby – I can tell you that nothing felt like it made me feel that day. I was the last to be baptized of nine and my husband went right before me. There have been a lot of struggles in my life with relationships, comparison, weight, single motherhood, stepping away from my faith, and more. When I went under the water, many of those flashed before my eyes then a dark to light flash happened and I was up and out of the water, feeling fresh and new and whole.

After the service, I was away from my family a few days for work but couldn’t stop smiling and thinking about what all God has done for us. That day was awesome and will be a pretty brilliant memory for the rest of my life.

Want to know more? You can check out the video of our baptism here on our church’s Facebook page!

 

Kindness Is Contagious

In a world where there is so much hurt and hate, will you remember that kindness is contagious? I’m passing this onto my kiddos and hopefully will remember it myself.

I’ve been sort of silent in all bits of my life, not telling anyone but Greg the full story of what’s been going on in this overthinking head of mine. You’ve heard bits and pieces here in my running round-ups or maybe you follow me on Instagram and have seen my admission to some struggles. But today? Today was hard, you guys.

I’m still not ready to talk about it, but will be soon. The day felt very unkind. There were not enough hugs. There was not enough air. There were no amount of songs from my 2008 playlist that were going to help. Life really changed today and now it’s time to see what the next chapter brings for Team Wills (and ~55 or so other families). Sigh.

Get to know the people around you. Get to know people who are not just like you. If you are a faithful person, pray to be able to love people without conditions and love them right where they are at. Do the right thing. And remember, kindness is contagious.

kindness is contagious

This box is a snack box I started getting for my work’s snacks – if you are interested in the service (Snack Nation), please let me know and I’ll refer you – cooler stuff for you and me both if you let me know! 

How to Climb from the Bay to Full House

Hey, 90’s kids! I’ve got a must do for you when traveling to San Francisco. You need to go from the Bay to Full House! I know, they didn’t really film in that house, but the iconic front is all the things for us kids who grew up in the 90’s, am I right? [this post contains affiliate links which earn this site a little bit of cash at no extra expense to you when purchasing through those links]

bay to full house

How to Climb from the Bay to Full House

Yes, I said climb from the Bay to Full House. There is no judgement if you just Uber over (unless you’re brand new to Uber and you don’t sign up to ride with my link and save yourself some money, ahem) because San Francisco is full of hills.  I had been two times before I took on this adventure and I admittedly thought the city was just one big hill – nope, it is rolling steep hillsBut if you are adventurous like me, you’ll want to get down to the Bay then climb up to Full House. It will be fulfilling, I promise!

Starting by the Bay, you’ll want to be about halfway between Ghiradelli Square and the Golden Gate Bridge, actually right in the middle of Yacht Harbor! There you will find Broderick Street which goes straight up a hill back toward the city and is the street where you will find the house that was used as the front doorstep of Full House.

It’s about one mile and yes, it is all up-hill. I took this hill on right after I ran ten miles including the Golden Gate, so I might be about to exaggerate how steep it is, but it is worth knowing how I felt with strong legs because you need to be prepared. If you are a sweater like me, do it in workout clothes (you’ll thank me). And no matter who you are, wear your sneakers. If you haven’t noticed, my sneakers of choice are New Balance 880gb7‘s which you can find at a nice price on Amazon!

My walk up Broderick started with a video chat home to my kids. I was panting but doing okay. After 3 blocks, I had to be honest with them and tell them good night – time for mom to climb some hills! About 0.6 miles into the walk, you’re going to come to a place where Broderick turns slightly to the left but isn’t actually a road for a block. This is where it gets real. The sidewalk is steep as all get out but so worth the burn if you are feeling up to it. Seriously, here it is from my view:

broderick street san francisco
Hey there, random stranger! You made it halfway!

I felt pretty accomplished after getting to the top of that hill and now I see on Google Maps that it is actually a “View Point” – well no wonder! I didn’t take the time to look but I had to do a selfie to prove I was able to climb from the Bay to Full House!

But wait, you aren’t there yet.

Finding Full House and What to Do When You Get There

I’m not going to give you the exact address of the house because well, one you can see it here but two it is someone’s (ok, the producer’s) private residence and I’m not all about linking addresses here on my page. Don’t make them say, “How Rude!”! Once you climb the hill, you’ll start downhill. I recommend approaching the 1700 block of Broderick on the left so you can get a view like this (especially as the sun is setting!) :

Do you remember the doors were actually red? As of the end of September 2018, there is construction going on, including painting the doors a light green.

Do you notice those signs and construction fencing? Obey them and be kind. No, you can’t sit on the steps right now. I felt a little underwhelmed at first but then thought about how we’d feel if people were always on our porch and I get it. And the neighbors – they don’t need you to be a nuisance. Take a selfie, take a photo for others who have stopped by too (because they will) then move on and take an Uber back to your hotel or a Starbucks for a pumpkin spice frap blended. You earned it. (Mine was less than a mile away and I did it, yes the uber and the frap!)

What iconic landmarks or buildings are on your travel must list?

Training Tuesday: Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon Week 13 – Run Golden Gate Bridge!

This week of training included a huge win on my running bucket list. I was away for a work conference and I got the chance of a lifetime to run Golden Gate Bridge! I needed to do a ten-mile long run this week and would be on an airplane on my normal running day, so I made this one work in my favor. Read on for an update on how things are going as I train for the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon on October 21, 2018. (This post contains affiliate links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you when you opt to buy through my links.)

Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon Training: Week 13 (September 23-29)

On Monday, I boarded a plane bound for San Francisco and Dreamforce, which meant I wouldn’t get in my five miles but still had lots of time walking in airports and pacing waiting to get into my hotel.

Tuesday 9/25: Hotel Gym WOD – 1-mile treadmill at 11’10″/mile, bike for 4 miles, 0.5 miles elliptical, ab work.  I was staying on Nob Hill but needed to work out at 5 AM for a jam-packed day. When I realized the area wasn’t as safe as I’d have liked for an early morning five miles, I hit the gym. At first I had it to myself but then it started to get busy and I had to keep switching machines to allow others a chance to get their morning miles in, too.

Wednesday 9/25: 3.1 miles, 10’46″/mile Another early morning run, but this time I was meeting up with a bunch of runners in the Fit for Dreamforce challenge. We set out on the Embarcadero to do a 5k loop which included passing by AT&T Park. It was a glorious morning – I wore my Pittsburgh Marathon long sleeve and didn’t sweat too much – and amazing to watch the sun come up over the bay.

The days were incredibly busy with lots of steps, learning, eating, and networking. I am not going to the mental place of checking out the scale but I think my losses while doing intermittent fasting are probably a waste. Thing is? I had a really good time and ate fresh foods, gluten-free treats, and just spoiled myself a little more than usual. I knew what was up ahead!

Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon Training: Run Golden Gate Bridge

 

By the time the week ended, I was about 15 thousand steps shy of 100k and still needed to get my 10-mile run in. I’d done a little bit of research on how to run the Golden Gate Bridge but wasn’t 100% confident I’d actually have the guts or wits to do it.

Friday 9/28: 10 miles, 12’07″/mile.

My hotel was at the top of Nob Hill in San Francisco, so I decided to run from it to the Bay. That first mile was a super quick mile because it was all downhill. Once I got to the Bay I was stunned at the beauty of the day. We’d had temps in the 50’s all week but it was about 63 when I set out just before 4:00. Greg was keeping the kids awake until they heard how I did, so that put some pressure on me to stop staring at the bay and get toward that bridge!

Once you get to the Bay (or if you start near AT&T Park along the Embarcadero), you basically have a straight shot along the bay to the Golden Gate Bridge. It is incredibly simple, just keep following the sidewalk and the water and the signs like this:

run Golden Gate Bridge

But when you see this particular sign? Take the left. There was still a slope and I’m not sure what the right involved!

I’d started near Fisherman’s Wharf and got to run through a park by Fort Mason, saved a soccer ball from getting run over by a car, watched some people doing CrossFit at a Fitness station along the path, and saw tons of gorgeous boats in Yacht Harbor. After that, the path turned into a sandy surface and I had to slow things down. It was totally God’s way of telling me to enjoy what I was running past in Crissy Field.

At the end of the field, you come to Torpedo Wharf and the Warming Hut. There you will want to take some steps up to the Battery E Trail. I paused my run tracker and just enjoyed the beauty of the walk up the stairs because seriously, how gorgeous!

stairs to Battery E Trail

Once you’re to the top of the stairs, that path starts winding uphill and you pass the Welcome Center. Depending on the time of day, signs will guide you to which side of the bridge you’ll need to go on if you are a biker or pedestrian. As it was after 3 PM, I was sent to the Bayside but could taste the salt in my hair as it whipped into my mouth (the wind is no joke up there!).

The chance to run Golden Gate Bridge is something I totally recommend. I was in awe the entire 1.7 miles out and 1.7 miles back. There were some videos I made while running that I sent to Greg and the kids and a photo montage I posted on Instagram. There really are no words to describe it other than there was no doubt in my mind that God created all the beauty that was around me – even the tourists paying no attention as they walked in packs of five and six wide across the bridge (ha).

The remainder of my ten flew by as I headed back toward my hotel. I ended near Broderick Street which is the house the famed “Full House” house is on and decided “what’s another mile’s walk uphill to see it?”. I crawled at one point because it is so steep but I made it to the top and to see the house before sunset. Bucket list x2!

Full House San Francisco

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Stay tuned to see what the next weeks (three left!) bring or check out past posts from this training cycle.

Total Miles to Date:

July: 10 runs, 26.39 miles, 11’33″/mile

August: 14 runs, 48.96 miles, 11’17″/mile

September: 13 runs, 68.59 miles, 12’00″/mile

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Training Tuesday: Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon Weeks 11-12

The past three weeks have been a COMPLETE WHIRLWIND. Training + mom life + work + travel, it’s been fun but exhausting. It is also time for an update on how things are going as I train for the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon on October 21, 2018. (This post contains affiliate links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you when you opt to buy through my links.)

Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon Training: Week 11 (September 9-15)

Have I mentioned that we have two kiddos in soccer, two age groups? Both have practice two times a week, so my weeknights have basically been spent by the soccer field. That’s put a slight hinder on my training in the evenings and of course, the weather was all kinds of warm to top it off.

Tuesday 9/11: 5.25 miles, 12’01″/mile.  All the bridges. Went out at lunchtime to tackle 16th Street Bridge to the trail to the 4oth Street Bridge (and I went all the way up which is essentially 0.25 mile up to the bridge then you keep climbing. Ouch.

I definitely needed my aminos to help with muscle soreness after that (and I recommend BPI Sports Aminos because not only do they have great flavors but they have Keto Aminos. Use code MRSWILLIS to save 20%!). I was doing intermittent fasting and felt so hungry during this run.

Wednesday 9/12 3.5 miles, 12’11″/mile I was extremely glad I had my Ripple Safety device on me. The trail was crazy quiet but then I encountered someone who scared me a bit. You’d think I’d have upped my pace, but it was HOT at lunch and this is just how it’s going to go this “summer”.

 

Saturday 9/15 8.02 miles, 12’11″/mile This run felt pretty good. It was cooler than the week before by a lot and there was no rain, yet I still couldn’t get it under 12-minute miles. I also apparently didn’t find it picture worthy.

Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon Training: Week Twelve (September 16-22)

Another crappy week from a personal standpoint that PRAISE GOD got turned around. Not to be all woe is me, but the Devil was out to get me and my family. I was set to speak at a women’s conference on Saturday so my week was crunched and of course, I was also prepping for an exam and going away for a week.

Started this week with my new shoes! Just a new version of my New Balances, but it sure made a difference. Is the tread wear on the right normal for retiring a shoe or should I give them more life?

Monday 9/17: 5 miles, 11’56″/mile. The new shoes and slightly cooler weather paid off on this one. I’m still in shorts and a tank top, but it’s starting to get more bearable for training because it is still crazy humid – I was soaked after this run. I ran to the girls’ school and met Greg at drop off and was so thankful he had water for me.

Wednesday 9/19: 3.5 miles, 11’43″/mile. This is the week of runs on my local trail, apparently. Flat is sorta what I needed in prep for what is to come. The picture from today had me holding up a five, oops, we’ll skip sharing that one.

Friday 9/21: 9.13 miles, 12’01″/mileStraight out the trail and back, I was pretty excited about the strength I had on this run. It was hot but I was prepared with water and Gatorade gels (goodbye, Keto). The trail was calming and peaceful, and I got to do this as an early lunch. It fueled me for the weekend and gave me time to think about my exam and the conference. I’m slacking on pictures but took one after my shower:

You’ll need to stay tuned for a special installment of “Training Tuesday” where I focus on week thirteen because it involves my Golden Gate Bridge running experience!

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Stay tuned to see what the next weeks bring or check out past posts from this training cycle.

Total Miles to Date:

July: 10 runs, 26.39 miles, 11’33″/mile

August: 14 runs, 48.96 miles, 11’17″/mile

September: 13 runs, 68.59 miles, 12’00″/mile

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Training Tuesday: Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon Weeks 7-10

My heart is at the beach right now. I am praying for my family and friends that are there and for safety as they brace for Hurricane Florence. It is also time for an update on how things are going as I train for the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon on October 21, 2018. (This post does contain affiliate links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you when you opt to buy through my links.)

Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon Training: Week Seven (August 13-19)

It was back to the normal schedule this week in work and personal life. Hopefully, that shows in this training week!

Monday 8/13: 3.5 miles, 11’41″/mile.  An early morning pre-work run is my sweet spot. It is a great time to think but not think. My smile says it all, eh?

Tuesday 8/14 Nada. So much for being back at it. I had a busy day all around and missed CrossFit and yoga.

Wednesday 8/15 2.5 miles, 11’08″/mileTook advantage of the trail and really powered through this one.

Thursday 8/16 Crossfit. 10 rounds. This one was INTENSE.

Sunday 8/19 5.23 miles, 11’10:/mile With the clock ticking to get to church, I was running on a mission! The morning was peaceful, crowds were along the river (at sunrise!) for our local boat races. It was pretty much perfection.

I guess the changes I made in my personal schedule paid off. The next weeks, well…

Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon Training: Week Eight (August 20-26)

On a personal level, this week started off sucking. I refuse to sugarcoat it. Sunday night I had been asleep for 45 minutes when my dad called. He never calls late. He needed to get my mom to the ER and I could tell I needed to go along. They came all the way to Kittanning to get me to go with them to Butler. After lots of tests and most of the night in the ER, she was sent home with orders to keep following up with various doctors and a new round of meds. Retirement hasn’t played nicely with my mom and I think that’s part of why I want to be as fit as I can be. Please say some prayers for her healing over the next few weeks.

Monday 8/20: Rest. I got home at 4 AM and couldn’t sleep so fumbled through a work from home day and got to be part of the Twins’ first day of school. Photo because when did they grow up?!?!

I also learned how to make a Keto-friendly pumpkin spice latte right at home. Heavy whipping cream + pumpkin pie spice + a wee bit of Stevia that you whisk into your mug *before* you brew the coffee over it. The cream gets whippy and rises to the top. DELISH. You can get that whisk on Amazon (here) and change up your coffee game, too.

Tuesday 8/21: 4 miles, 11’16″/mile. Running in the rain is my favorite. I tossed the phone on the couch and hit the stopwatch on my FitBit and just ran and ran and ran. Okay, I didn’t start in the rain. The idea was that I was going to try to out run the rain. AccuWeather told me the rain would start at 12:38, but it started more like at 12:28 when I still had a mile to go. I really kicked this run in gear and I’m just gonna say it, it was my favorite run of this training cycle so far yes the bold is needed. Greg met me at the door with a towel and totally captured the drops of rain on my shoulder. Seriously loved this one.

View this post on Instagram

Another day amazed by what has been given to me. It's been a tough week, my body is off schedule and my brain is on overdrive. I missed writing a #trainingtuesday blog post but my spirit got some things it needed >> time with friends tonight at a Thirty-One party and a mid morning run in the rain. When my brain wasn't clicking as fast as I wanted and the forecast looked clear for 48 minutes, I blocked my calendar and put on my @fusionsportsusa #runningshorts & my @newbalance shoes and left the phone at home for a 4 mile run. 33 minutes in just before mile 3 and in the middle of a prayer for a calming to wash over me, the sky broke and it downpoured for my last mile. Just me and the voice of God out there on the #railstotrails splashing through puddles and get more soaked than I ever have been. It felt amazing and then I conquered the rest of my day. While everything wasn't just washed off my plate, God made it clear that He is in control and I don't need to put so much pressure on myself. □□□ 4 miles, 11'16"/mile #halfmarathontraining #runintherain #runnersofinstagram #myrtlebeachminimarathon #momswhorun #strongnotskinny #nikeplusrunclub #newbalancerunning #fusionsportsusa #fitbitversa #drenchedrunning #fitmomintheremaking #thisthriversjourney #embracemypace #irunthisbody

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Wednesday 8/22: Date and packing. We went to the Pirates/Braves game and I packed up for a girls weekend. I still got in a ton of steps, including almost 1500 before I hit the bed at 1:00 AM Thursday morning. Vacation mode!

Thursday 8/22: 3.1 miles, 11’29″/mileAfter seven hours in the car and with a stomach full of a Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte with Heavy Cream #ketolife, I met up with the Williamsburg Winery Run Club and did a 5K through the Winery property. It was gloriously humid and bug-free. There weren’t medals to commemorate as this is a free weekly run club, but I was happy with my time after sitting so long. The next few days included indulging in pizza, beer, and pretzels (none of which were gluten-free and I felt the pain) and learning that I can’t eat like that and keep training like I am…

Saturday 8/24: 5.0 miles, 11’29″/mile. I think the only reason my pace was three seconds a mile faster than Thursday was that I was motivated to get back to the resort where Missy was waiting for me so we could go swimming. Truth be told, Mollie was very much on my mind and I re-activated my Ripple safety because there I was, awake with the sun in a town I didn’t know and running 2.5 miles away from my resort. A bit scary, but I did it! I did pause with about .6 mile to go and snap a picture just outside of Colonial Williamsburg for the memories. Awkward and sweaty but whatever.

Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon Training: Week Nine (August 27-September 2)

Let all the things crumble. I started to sabbotage my training diet and just spiraled from there. Not even buying new running shoes (my shoe of choice is the New Balance 880v7) motivated me. Truths? Between what I ate last week and what spiraled this week, I gained ten pounds. You can see it in my face as these pics progress. Ugh.

Monday 8/27: 2.5 miles, 11’06″/mile. The only reason this run was “fast” was because I forced myself on the treadmill. It was awful and I was supposed to do four but only got 2.5. I made up the other on the bike but I was crying ugly tears there in the YMCA. Gross.

Tuesday 8/28: Yoga. I thought another day at the mat would help, but all I could do was think about how much further I want to be with my fitness journey. It was not aligned with my intention!

Wednesday 8/29: 3.1 miles, 11’45″/mile. And the demise of my amazing (for me) pace begins. Even trying to be creative with my selfie, you can tell the weight is there. You can see how humid it was before 8 AM. Just rough.

 

Thursday 8/30: CrossFit. I’m not sure why I am smiling in this picture because I slacked off on laundry all week and wore the same shirt (yeah, I’ll say it) and this one was all arms and my shoulder was not happy. I guess the smile is all part of something bigger I am struggling with – the front that I am okay when I am not. (More on that later, hold me accountable.)

Saturday 9/2: 6 miles, 11’57″/mile. Greg’s sister came for a quick visit, so she stayed with the kids while Greg and I headed to the trail for a “run together” before it got too humid. I can complain a lot about this run and frankly I will so you see what I am dealing with. Greg is fast. Like if he could run a full at 30-40 seconds per mile slower than he runs, he’d be a Boston qualifier fast. So we planned a route on the trail that had my anxiety up but worked so we would start together then he’d pass me after my 2 miles and again just before he finished and I headed out to start my 3.5 miles. That fast. That part  worked, but it put me headed toward the bear part of the trail and alone for a long time. Add to it, it was hot as all get out early in the day so we carried bottles of water. Even with my Fusion Sports running shorts with the pockets I had to hold the water and it distracted me (being in the pockets knocked my hips out of alignment). But regardless, the run was done. He’d be waiting about 30 minutes for me and posed like this so I humored him and did it too.

Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon Training: Week Ten (September 3-8)

Monday 9/3: 7.0 miles biking. We took the girls on a bike ride because Evan had a sleepover and the humidity was way too high to run.

Tuesday 9/4: 4.06 miles, 12’04″/mile. I tried to get out before the humidity but it didn’t work. The heat in Pittsburgh was real. This was a run from my office to the Point and back before the sun was fully up. I struggled, but think it was because of those 10 pounds + I started Intermittent Fasting so that I can try to drop more before the Half. This was a fasted run on day two of my 16:8 cycle. The legs didn’t love it.

Wednesday 9/5: Early morning CrossFit. This class loves running and jump ropes and situps. I was glad it was a Partner WOD because if it was for my own PB, I would not have cared. My goal was to run as much as my partner and that I did. And why the assault on my arms again?!?!

Thursday 9/6: 3.0 miles, 12’37″/mile. Ouchy. It was so hot. The sun had just come up and it was day four of IF. I literally had to pull my legs up a few times to move forward. I really struggled but when I stepped on the scale and saw a 2.6-pound loss in two days…it was worth it. I’m still working on what IF and Fasted Running needs to be to me – more on that when I do.

Saturday 9/8: 7.0 miles, 11’57/mile. Same exact pace as last Saturday but add a mile and I was ecstatic. After logging the paces I had been, I was down. A lot of negative talk in my head and I figured a 13-minute mile run was ahead. Add to it, I slept in thinking that the rain would hold off and I could get some sleep. Nope. This was seven extremely soggy miles but it was glorious because there was no humidity, I was even a bit chilly! This one included some sloppy sandy sections of the trail, hills, and four miles that were under the average pace for the whole run. I really couldn’t ask for more after the training going how it did the past few weeks!

As I enter week eleven, I’ll spoil and say things aren’t off to an amazing start, but I am lowering my expectations for Myrtle Beach. As long as I get to run it, that’s huge. Two Half Marathons in a year! But my biggest thing now is praying for my family and friends there and their safety. Please join me in that!

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Stay tuned to see what the next 10 weeks bring or check out past posts from this training cycle.

Total Miles to Date:

July: 10 runs, 26.39 miles, 11’33″/mile

August: 14 runs, 48.96 miles, 11’17″/mile

September: 5 runs, 25.32 miles, 12’04″/mile

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Busch Gardens Williamsburg: Fun for Mom!

Disclaimer: I was provided with tickets to visit Busch Gardens Williamsburg in exchange for this review of my visit. All opinions are 100% my own. This post also contains affiliate links.

As a parent, have you ever wondered what it would be like to visit an amusement park you loved as a kid as an adult without the kids? No shame – this is a perfectly fine thing to think and do! Greg and I have done this at a few parks over the years. This summer, I decided to take my best friend with me to visit Busch Gardens Williamsburg, a park we went to on a high school band trip. It gave me a chance to ride a few rides that I might not have with the kids, really check out the kid space without having the kids running in four different directions, enjoy a show, and indulge in some food without paying for six people to do so. It was pretty glorious.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg: Fun for Mom!

As part of my girls’ weekend away with my best friend Missy, a trip to Busch Gardens Williamsburg was a must. We stayed at my timeshare about 2 miles away and grabbed an Uber to the park after a morning of treating ourselves to a mani/pedi.

As soon as we got into the park, a show was starting in their England area.  Britmania™ was a musical revue that charmed us with music from the 1960s to today (the Beatles to Adele). The dancing was what really wowed us in this show. Mom tip: This is a great family show for those moments when you need a break out of the heat!

Busch Gardens Bier Fest
Kicking off the Bier Fest experience with my passport and a Rosemary Lemon Wheat.

Psst! Love my backpack? It’s a MUST for enjoying theme parks (it’s a THERMAL!) and you can get yourself one on my Thirty-One shopping page! <3

After the show, I decided to grab a Bier Fest punch card ($22) to sample 10 different craft beers from around the globe while we walked through the park. My favorite was the Buskey Tart Cherry from Richmond, Virginia (found in England and true to the name, tart and cherry, and full of a red cherry color). And, to fully disclose, my least favorite was the Ballast Point Bonito Blonde (found in the Germany area). (I thought I’d try it because I have a co-worker by that name, but the beer was skunkier than I expected.)

The Bonito deserved this face.

In between stopping for my samples, we enjoyed the landscape (Busch Gardens has 134 acres of lush landscaping), watched rides that were a HECK NO for me (I am not a coaster fan but LOVE the thrill of watching them WHOOSH by – there are seven coasters here), and rode a few rides.

The Trade Wind has always been my favorite ride (the one that goes in a circle up and down a hill with really upbeat music), so that was a must. It was fun taking in the birds-eye view of the park from Skyride (which goes from England to France to Germany and back as one-way stops). We even found a new pal while waiting in the England line.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg Skyride
Skyride with a coaster running RIGHT behind me!
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Yak
It’s a yak!

Missy enjoyed a plinko-style game in Oktoberfest and we had to indulge in pretzels and slushies, too!

Of course, I had to put in some “mom time” and stop by Sesame Street®
Forest of Fun™ and see what my littlest kiddos would have enjoyed. We got to meet one of Ava’s (and Missy’s) favorites, Cookie Monster!

Would I go back and do this again? ABSOLUTELY! Here are some ways to enjoy the rest of 2018…

Events happening at Busch Gardens Williamsburg this Year

While there is only today to enjoy Bier Fest as I did, there are some great events in store for the rest of this year at Busch Gardens Williamsburg (information provided to me via the Busch Gardens Media Room):

Busch Gardens® Bier Fest (Aug. 17-Sept. 3) 
More than 200 years of Oktoberfest traditions come to life this fall at Busch Gardens® Bier Fest. Raise a glass to toast the end of summer with a variety of craft beers from around the globe. Sample traditional German food, listen to live music, and experience all this unique Bavarian celebration has to offer. Prost! (details)

Howl-O-Scream® (Sept. 15-Oct. 28)
Fill fall nights with fright at Busch Gardens® Howl-O-Scream®. Celebrate 20 years of fears in this special anniversary year, with more haunted houses, Terror-tories™ and scares than ever before. At the stroke of
6 p.m. Busch Gardens becomes home to a host of creepy creatures that lie in wait for unsuspecting victims. Fear abounds in the Virginia theme park’s collection of elaborate haunted houses, immersive themed scare zones and darkly entertaining live shows. Busch Gardens becomes a seriously scary place  at 6 p.m. when the haunts come out for Howl-O-Scream. Guests should consider the park’s elevated scare factor when deciding whether Howl-O-Scream is appropriate for young children. (details)

Count’s Spooktacular (Oct. 6-Oct. 28)
Come celebrate silly, not-too-spooky, family fun at Busch Gardens Williamsburg this fall. Every weekend in October, children 9 and younger are encouraged to come dressed in their best Halloween costume to
dance and play with their favorite Sesame Street® friends Elmo, Cookie Monster and more at The Count’s Spooktacular. Kid-friendly rides, family activities and trick-or-treating will be offered around the park for kids to celebrate the fall season. You won’t want to miss a special show featuring The Count, dance parties for the kids and a parade to end the day for families before the haunts and scares of Howl-O-Scream start in the evening. (details)

Christmas Town™ (Nov. 17-Jan. 1)
Christmas shines brightest at Busch Gardens® Christmas Town™. One of the largest light displays in North America grows even bigger in 2018 with over 10 million lights to commemorate the family-friendly winter holiday event’s 10th anniversary. Festive food and drink, holiday shopping and heartwarming shows make the spirit of the season come alive. Come for the biggest and brightest Christmas lights event and illuminate your children’s holiday season with a visit to Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland and Sesame Street® Forest of Fun™. And don’t forget to stop by the North Pole to see Santa Claus. Complete your Christmas Town experience by enjoying exhilarating rides, dazzling shows, hearty holiday dining and festive shopping. (details)

Personally, I have experienced Bier Fest, Count’s Spooktacular, and Howl-O-Scream and as a parent, I recommend enjoying Bier Fest and Howl-O-Scream without the kids (unless they are teenagers). 

Budget-Friendly Ways to Visit

don’t recommend doing as I did and only enjoying the park for part of the day. If you are a rider or bringing the kids, you want to leave plenty of time to enjoy. As I was on my girls’ weekend and trying to experience several things in the area, it’s what worked for me. To get the most out of your money, there are a few ways to save on your visit:

  • Get a Membership – starting at $12/pp per month, you’ll save 50% on parking, enjoy both parks, and get to experience Christmas Town at no extra fee. I met a local family who purchased this and they were raving about the savings and benefits it gave them.
  • Fun Cards – These are like a mini membership. Not as many perks but great for those of us who aren’t local but close enough to visit a few times a year. Save on return visits with these options.
  • Pay ahead for things like your photos, food, or parking (save $2) here. If you’re staying close and going for an adult day, I suggest taking an Uber. That’s what Missy and I did. It was a first for both of our drivers but the process was smooth and they met us right at the gate. Total cost to Uber was about $15.  First time using Uber? Sign up here with code 4j85u to get $5 toward your first ride.

To learn more about Busch Gardens® and SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment®, visit buschgardens.com.  “Like” Busch Gardens on Facebook, and follow @BuschGardensVA on Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.

Monday Momfession: Mom’s Time Away

I will be the first to admit that I am not the “mommingest” mom. My hubby is pretty incredible at his side of our parenting game and doesn’t seem to get as worked up as I do having four kids and a job. That’s why I spent this past weekend away from the mom duties. I momfess, I needed a mom time away.

The trip wasn’t intricately planned, just a stay at our timeshare and a visit to Busch Gardens (which I will talk more about later), but my bestie and I enjoyed time mostly off our phones and treated ourselves. There was running for me, shopping, pizza eating, and a mani/pedi. It took all of five minutes on the road and I was relaxed and ready to just breathe.

 

And it took all of six minutes to miss the kids and Greg, but in the same breath I remembered that I am me first and if I am not the best me, I can’t be the best for them. This was a great time to refresh and reset before a busy fall season. Mission accomplished.

 

Training Tuesday: Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon Weeks 1-6

Surely you didn’t think the running stopped after my “incident” with a bear on the trail, did you? Nope, it’s time to start up my weekly training posts again and this time I’m diving into my preparation for the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon on October 21, 2018.

Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon: The Details

First, you notice that guy in the picture with me? We are doing this thing together! Greg is returning to his hometown to run his first ever half marathon. This will be number four for me. I promise you I didn’t have to drug him to get him to say yes to registering…and it just might lead to him joining me on May 5 for Pittsburgh…we’ll see. Probably good to note that as of right now he’ll be finishing about 50 minutes ahead of me, but that’s fine with me!

This 13.1 mile race (a half marathon) will be on Sunday, October 21 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We started our 16-week training plan on July 2 and have occasionally trained together. I’m a bit behind on sharing the journey, so let’s hop to it!

Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon Training: Week One (July 2-8)

Oh boy. It started off bad. We got home on July 1 from our family holiday picnic and had no air conditioning…for three and a half weeks. Neither of us ran until July 5, so the first week was basically a bust.

Thursday 7/5: 2.25 miles, 12’09″/mile. I was feeling the effects of no a/c and eating a tub of strawberry shortcake (aka my feelings). Slugh.

Friday 7/6: Crossfit WOD in 27:37 This one had a lot of running. I sweated a lot. Why is it so hot at 5 am?!?!

Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon Training: Week Two (July 9-15)

I can’t even tell you what but my Monday run didn’t happen either, so I had to do two runs back-to-back this week. You think I’d get with the program!

Tuesday 7/10: 2.01 miles, 10’42″/mile. Traffic made me miss running outside so I forced a treadmill run and crushed it. Pretty happy with this one.

Wednesday 7/11: 2.0 miles, 10’38″/mile. It was our anniversary, so Greg and I went to the Y before going to Fogo de Chao to eat all the meat. Having my husband beside me on a treadmill pushes me out of the hamster wheel my mind is known to go to!

Thursday 7/12: Crossfit WOD. Hit the time cap but still pretty proud I was able to get as far as I did.

Saturday 7/14: 3.0 miles, 12’03″/mile. That treadmill needs to be my friend more often. When I hit the trail, I struggled. It was humid and I felt alone. I was even pushing because I had a church event to get to. Struggle bus, but still 1 second faster than my PR for the half. Save racing for race day?

Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon Training: Week Three (July 16-22)

This week was pretty tough. I was going away for my Thirty-One Conference at was super pumped up and I was testing out SilverSport clothing; however, I struggled because of outdoor running and a small injury.

Monday 7/16: 3.0 miles, 12’08″/mile. This was a run at home with some trail, some hills, and running by the river. I was pretty happy afterward, even with the slower pace.

Wednesday 7/18: 2.0 miles, 11’41″/mile. Running before work is one of my favorite things to do, but not when I turn too fast and roll an ankle. I hobbled through the rest of the day and was quite excited to get to the chiropractor and get it adjusted. Even though I felt good after, I was definitely treading lightly from then out for the next week.

Saturday 7/21: Recumbent Bike. I was at conference staying at a 3-star hotel and the area wasn’t great. I got almost 20K steps in on Saturday and Sunday but wasn’t impressed with the fitness center in my hotel. Glad I’ve done this a few times before and know the next few weeks are much more crucial for me.

Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon Training: Week Four (July 23-29)

The pace is kicking it up! We finally have our A/C back and I think I’ve hit my groove.

Tuesday 7/24: 3.0 miles, 11’29″/mile. Only felt like quitting this treadmill run four times, all in the first mile. I slowed it down compared to other treadmill runs because the ankle was still tender, but still did work. Glad to have my running buddy beside me, too!

Thursday 7/26: 2.0 miles, 11’18″/mile. Proving myself out on the trail! I totally can do this.

Saturday 7/28: 4.0 miles, 11’20/mile. My future’s so bright, I have to wear shades!

No, really. I love this pair of shades from Tierra Sunglasses and am excited to pass a deal on them over to YOU! Look for more info on my engagement with them as an ambassador, but you can save $5 off a pair of running or regular sunglasses when you use code MRSGREGWILLIS5OFF here.

Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon Training: Week Five (July 30-August 5)

Have you noticed I haven’t been doing as much Crossfit? Well, as much as I love it, I’m being super cautious not to get another injury so have really scaled it back. Let’s see how that went this week.

Monday 7/30: 3.1 miles, 11’37″/mile. Another work morning run and the ankle was feeling amazing!

Tuesday 7/31: Yoga at the YMCA. I was so happy to get back to the mat! It felt, in many ways, like nothing had changed. I’m going to be doing more yoga this training cycle because I miss the stretch.

Wednesday 8/1: 2.02 miles, 10’32”. Another run with the hubby on the treadmill.

Thursday 8/2: DOUBLE DAY 4.7 miles on a bike. Went for a bike ride at work on the Healthy Ride Pittsburgh Bikes. Counting this because my bum was super sore the next day and I burned a ton of fat calories. Crossfit WOD. This one hurt like you know what. I was a slowpoke and it was only a 22-minute AMRAP. But…it was my first 4-day-in-a-row training week of this cycle and I can tell.

Saturday 8/4: 4.5 miles, 11’30″/mile. Just me, the trail, and peace. It was 97% humidity and I was soaked. Really ideal training for Myrtle, though!

Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon Training: Week Six (August 6-12)

An interesting week! I was at a work internal training in downtown Pittsburgh and stayed three nights. That meant I got to run with my boss, our CEO, and some other co-workers. Really cool experience, especially since I needed the push. (Check out my Instagram for a few photos from this week.)

Monday 8/6: 3.5 miles, 11’13″/mile. Ran to the Point then over the Fort Duquesne Bridge and back under the Convention Center. It was steamy and another 97% humidity morning but I totally earned sitting the rest of the day.

Tuesday 8/7: 2.0 miles, 11’09″/mile. This should have been a yoga or Crossfit day, but I give in to peer pressure and ran with the group again. I knew when to turn around and am glad I did. The next days would have been even tougher if I hadn’t. Returned to the hotel gym to do some quick lifting.

Wednesday 8/8: 2.89 miles, 10’47″/mile. Another fast-paced group run. We went up some stairs at the Point and I felt it about a mile later trying to go back up through the Convention Center. Had to stop and gain my momentum back. As this was supposed to be 2, I’m okay that I didn’t quite hit three miles.

Thursday 8/9: Crossfit WOD. Again, struggled through four days in a row.

Saturday 8/11: 4.5 miles, 11’16″/mile Truth, this one felt just right. It was humid but I just set my mind to a fast solo run and I did it!

 

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Stay tuned to see what the next 10 weeks bring!

Total Miles to Date: 

July: 10 runs, 26.39 miles, 11’33″/mile

August: 7 runs, 22.92 miles, 11’14″/mile

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Monday Momfession: Comparison

I’m trying to get my bearings following a week “away” in my city for work. All the plans were there for me to rest and read during downtime but I am a relationship builder and couldn’t make the time I needed for me. Unfortunately, that started to spiral into something that MOMFESSION has me in a funk, comparison.

It started with worrying that I was holding back the other morning runners. No matter how hard I tried to tell myself that this was an awesome moment for me [to be able to run “with” my boss, our CEO, and others from the company], I just got down on myself for making them shuffle through the runs. Maybe someday I will feel fast enough to run with a group, but even cutting 45 seconds off my time from Saturday to Wednesday didn’t push out those voices.
Then there were the photos where [omg] my [big] white arms made an appearance.  No one else has bingo arms, do they? Or if they do, they know better than to “show them off”. Yeah, getting a smaller than I am used to t shirt and sweater didn’t even change my mind. I saw myself as a blob!

Not to be all woe is me, but I got some blog related news today that made me just want to quit this whole thing. I’d been given advice about how easy it was to do something and then after two weeks of anticipating the end result, I got my news. I started to compare numbers that I can see (Twitter, Insatagram) and wonder why them and not me. I wanted to throw in the towel and never try for opportunities again. Because…comparison.

You’re starting to get it, right? I was falling victim to comparison and it hurt. Heck, it still hurts…

But you know, I’m sure I send others in comparison spirals unintentionally. And that’s the thing…I can’t feel guilty. We are responsible for our joy and comparison is the thief of it. God made us all unique with different running paces (or the desire NOT to run), skin colors and the size of the skin that holds our greatness, and skills. I’m working on trying to embrace my differences in the same way I cherish others.

I’ve got to figure out my way to deal and start to turn my ship around. Will you help me by not comparing yourself today?