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.

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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?

Fitbit Flyer: My Experience

I was provided with a review unit of the Fitbit Flyer in exchange for this post. All opinions are 100% my own. 

As a runner, I’ve found I need some noise in my ears to keep the voices in my head from bringing me down. I wanted to check out the Fitbit Flyer to see if it was a viable option as part of my running kit and here’s what happened…

Fitbit Flyer: The Techy Stuff

Before I tell you the “after”, I’m going to share the “before”. Because I’d already tried the JBL Free headphones from Verizon, I decided I wanted to compare them to a set that had some different features. On the sports and fitness page of Verizon, I found the Fitbit Flyer.

What I loved/Why I picked the Fitbit Flyer

  • I already am in the Fitbit family (my must have is the Fitbit Versa)
  • There is a cord that connects the two earbuds (I won’t worry about losing one while only wearing one)
  • That rose gold (it is a new obsession for me, I’m late to the game I think)
  • Offers 6 hours of playtime on a charge + you get a one-hour playtime quick charge in ~15 minutes

Fitbit Flyer: My Experience

My first day with the Fitbit Flyer was a rest day, so I charged it up and called Greg over a lunchtime walk. First, I was super bugged out – I could hear everything around me like it was in stereo! I hadn’t dialed him yet, just plugged them in my ears, but I was hearing things like the traffic on the street, people walking near me, and leaves blowing on the trees like it was right in my face. Once I dialed, those stereo sounds of the outside world went away and I was able to hear him super clear – and he could hear me just fine, too. When we were done chatting, I let them fall around my neck and finished my walk in silence (I think I was on noise sensory overload!).

When I would run with the buds in my ears, I often found myself keeping one in at a time. Frankly, the noise it would pick up during silence was almost too much for me and I was a little scared at how little I could hear when the music was playing. It was almost “I can’t win”, so I’d wear one bud and tuck the other under my tank-top strap.

To be honest, I had the life scared out of me when I was wearing them in that photo above. You’ll notice both are out – one tucked and one flapping in the wind. I had just heard the growling on my 10k and decided to pull them for fear of what I’d heard. Eek!

But the logistics!!! They stayed in nicely, my ears must have been a perfect match so I didn’t mess with the wingtips or fins that come with the option to customize the size. I also like that when I was in the office I could pair to my computer to listen to my Spotify but keep the phone linked for accepting calls. That was super LEAN and a huge perk of these headphones.

So, what’s my final verdict? There were things that I liked but things I didn’t. For the price ($129.99 MSRP on Verizon), I’m not sure I would. They were nice to try and compare, but I’d say I give them a 4.0 out of 5 stars. You can shop on Verizon’s online store if you would like to try them yourself!

What is your go-to running headphone?

Pittsburgh Event: Check out SilverSport at One Whirl Yoga Fest

This post contains information and products provided to me by SilverSport. All opinions are 100% my own. 

Pittsburgh! You know how much our local fitness community means to me and this week that puffy heart got even bigger. Do you recognize the name Franco Harris? Of course you do. He’s founded SilverSport®, a Pittsburgh-based local fitness brand. SilverSport is going to be present at this weekend’s One Whirl Yoga Fest and they’ve asked me to tell you a little bit about the event and their brand. Saying I am thrilled is putting it mildly, friends.

Check out SilverSport at One Whirl Yoga Fest

This event (happening Saturday, July 14 from 6AM-4PM and Sunday, July 15 from 7AM-1PM) has been on my radar for years but babies and blog conferences and Thirty-One events always got in the way of me actually making it to Point State Park. 2018 is their seventh annual event and it includes “yoga classes, vendor demonstrations, workshops, and good vibes”. More details on the event are below.

What you must know is that SilverSport is going to be there and will be featuring their line of odor-free, antimicrobial products at their booth and they will have some exclusive giveaways. For those of us in the fitness world, having these types of products is key – they bring us more protection in the sweaty studios and gyms and make us more comfortable around our #fitfam.

If you get a chance to make it to Yoga Fest, please stop by the SilverSport booth and tell them that I said so! You won’t regret it, I’m wearing one of their tanks as I type this up and I can’t tell that I did a WOD in it 4 hours ago. Trust me!

Details on One Whirl Yoga Fest

WHEN: Saturday, July 14 from 6AM-4PM and Sunday, July 15 from 7AM-1PM

WHERE: Point State Park, 601 Commonwealth Pl, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

COST: $35 for general admission tickets (covers all sessions both days) and kids 12 and under are free

SOCIAL: Facebook Event

About SilverSport

I’m such a geek in general, but hearing the science behind this Pittsburgh local fitness brand during a week when I am fighting a virus (that very well could have come from my shared use of gym equipment) made me super geek out. Here’s what their official press release has to say about the brand:

Silversport® is a Pittsburgh-based corporation  founded by NFL Hall of Fame & Former Steeler Franco Harris and consumer products expert Thomas Davis, with one goal in mind: ‘To keep sports clean’.

All SilverSport® products use nano-scale silver, Silverclean® Technology that provides continuous odor free and antimicrobial performance to all of our products. The silver used is EPA registered and OEKO-TEX™ approved, and proudly made in the U.S.A. Silversport® provides products to our nation’s military, as well as in the medical, Fitness and Fashion Industries. Silver Sport was named Inc. Magazine’s “Next Big Idea,” and one of Entrepreneur’s  “Strokes of Genius” . SilverSport® has been featured in over 30 media outlets including The Doctors, Fox and Friends, New York 1 TV, Women’s Health, Shape, Men’s Journal, Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, Self.com, Pilates Style, Muscle & Body, and was awarded a 2011 Fit Bottom Girls “Fittie Award”. SilverSport® products are available for purchase online at www.silversport.com

And then there’s taking my word for it. You’re going to be seeing a lot more of SilverSport in my Instagram feed and here on the blog. We’re partnering up to help bring awareness to their line, starting with their super soft tank top that I am wearing tonight. Here’s just a spoiler for you – it has the most adorable pocket I’ve ever seen a shirt have – and another – it is super soft and didn’t get drenched in my YFit sweat tonight. I’m swooning up here.

SilverSport

Tell me – what do you think you’ll love most about this new line? Is it that it is Pittsburgh based, founded by Franco, super sciencey, or something else? 

Washing My Face with Rachel Hollis

This post, Washing my Face with Rachel Hollis, contains affiliate links through my relationship with Amazon. I purchased this book on my own and wanted to share my opinions (which are 100% my own) with you. 

Girl. I just cried all the ugly tears as I finished the last two chapters of Rachel Hollis’ Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be. I’d had all these intentions to share posts with you here that were all book club-like, chapter by chapter, sharing my summaries but I had to stop that thought and just dive right into chapters 19 and 20 and talk about them right now because I’m over here washing my face and praising God for giving Rachel (and me) the talent to write for our hearts.

Image: Amazon.com

Why I Need to Wash My Face

It’s barely 7:00 AM on a steamy Pittsburgh summer day and I am driving down 28 with tears in my eyes. My heart and head have been so torn up lately after getting some gritty, heartwrenching truths about how people feel about my life (and my loves).

I’ve been struggling with wondering what my purpose is and if I should keep blogging, keep staying so laser-focused on weight loss and another Half Marathon PR. I’ve been wondering if all the things I say yes to are taking away from my kids and husband – and realizing that they are absolutely changing relationships with other family and friends.

I’ve been struggling with division, especially as our city has been plagued with a shooting that is so senseless and so confusing that it hurts. I’ve been struggling with my position – a white, Christian, and a fairly conservative girl raised in a sandbox full of kids and adults that were just like me who ends up marrying a bi-racial man who was raised in another faith and is raising four extremely beautiful and unique babies with me. My whiteness and my affiliation with the church are often lumped into the firey coals of division that the people like my husband and kids deal with every day – I’m not seen as an ally in dark times like this, but often an enemy because my response to pray is never enough for either side – I’m stuck in the middle of a war where being Switzerland just hurts so bad. I don’t understand why EVERYONE can’t just love like Jesus does.

Washing My Face with Rachel Hollis

So back to those tears. I was crying because I was overwhelmed with all these lies I’d been telling myself and I didn’t even know it, not until I snagged the Audible version of Girl, Wash Your Face and plugged it into my car’s sound system. Once I started, how I wished I’d grabbed it back when my friend Tabatha posted it on her Instagram, but I know now that God’s perfect timing came into play as I got to the last two chapters.

If you don’t have this amazing book, stop what you are doing right now and go get it – Amazon has it available on audio (how I took this book in) and in hardback and you can be reading it by the weekend! 

Rachel Hollis tackles the lies that she’s lived with in hopes that her readers will break free from those lies and live a life full of passion and exuberance. I’ll tell you what, I wish I could grab a coffee with her and tell her how much she spoke to me.

Yinz might think I have it all together, but that’s far from wrong. My faith and my family anchor me in the midst of the chaos that comes with being me, but there are just some days when I just can’t do life. There are days when I wonder if I am worthy of the blessings. There are days when the blessings (particularly 1, 2, 3, and  4) are just too much for my body and brain to manage. There are days when work has to come before family and days when family has to come before work. And through each of those days, I’m telling myself lies that hold me back from the big dreams and goals I have, the things that I know God’s made me for.

Listening to Girl, Wash Your Face brought to light so many of the things I feel like I struggle with and made me realize they aren’t as big as my worrying brain makes them out to be. It ended with two pretty big boom chapters that are helping me in the here and now, the two big reasons I need to be washing my face and moving forward, to stop lying to myself.

19. The Lie: There’s Only One Right Way to Be

I almost feel like my thoughts on this one should come last, but since this comes first in the book, I think I’ll start here.

While Rachel Hollis was raised in California and I call Pennsylvania home, it sounds like our upbringing was pretty similar. Both PK’s (preacher’s kids) growing up in worlds that were all white. Stepping outside the sandbox had a little bit of a scare factor to it at first, but once we realized that the lie of growing up in a world that is cookie cutter and all the same, oh did the beauty of the world our Lord made shine!

For me, my first memory of meeting someone who was black was in third grade. My dad was going to seminary in Dayton, Ohio where being white was a minority. We lived about three hours away in lily-white farm country where the churches still had big organs and dusty hymnals. Dad took us for a visit and I met one of his best friends, Walter. This man amazed me, and I’d sit for hours having theological discussions with him. I could feel God’s work overflowing from his heart and knew he was going to leave that seminary and go on and do great things.

What my Dad hadn’t told me and my brother (and probably mom) in advance? Walter was black. Dad, you gave me an incredible gift right there on that day. You didn’t tell me what lines to draw in my sandbox. You let me and my innocent 9-year-old heart decide how to act in God’s love. And you told me time and again from there out how God made us each different and unique and that you’d love me no matter who I chose to love. You let me decide what to do in my sandbox, and I thank you.

My stories of getting to know people who are different (whether race, faith, love, etc) could go on for days. I’m so thankful God opened my eyes to love as he does, to love people right where they are and that there is not just one right way to be. Even when I’m hearing opposition about the person I chose to love. Even when I’m watching other moms like me wonder if their brown sons and daughters will come home. Even then. Because my faith and love are so much bigger than my fears.

Remember, you can grab our own copy of this book here

20. The Lie: I Need a Hero

8 years ago, I was at my heaviest weight. I never really had a strong desire to do anything about it, but being pregnant at 300 pounds and not getting gestational diabetes spoke to me. I needed to get healthy for my kids. I needed to be their hero.

Throughout this journey of weight loss and running, I’ve done it all for me and for them. I look back at the changes and sacrifices I’ve made and never once did I wish that someone else would change with or for me. I knew that I had to do it all myself. Those miles. Those dietary changes. That was all me and my choice.

These eight years have been somewhat of a roller coaster, but it’s not one I’m ready to jump off. While I don’t think anyone needs a hero to swoop in and do it for them (because they can’t), I want to be that person that people look to and say, “if Becky can do it, why can’t I?”.

That’s not to be egotistical. I’m as competitive as the next runner, but I know that I am only competing against myself. Everyone has their journey, but if we can inspire each other along the way, let’s do that. I know I have plenty of people I look to when I’m having days where a Diet Pepsi looks so refreshing and I forget that I’ve gone 19 months without one. They aren’t going to fix that craving for me, but they’re going to make me remember why I started this journey.

What’s Next?

There are so many more thoughts I have on this book, and thoughts I have on life in general. One thing became abundantly clear to me while listening – I have goals to write and I need to be over here and there writing more than I have been. Hold me to this, friends. And even if you don’t make it back here, know that I’ll be writing. xoxo