I thought for a second about changing the name here, but I’ll be back in this space. Whenever people ask me what new adventure I am starting out on I get the song from Zootopia every time, you know the one, “oh oh oh oh oh try everything”. And unpopular opinion I can’t wait for Animal Kingdom to refurb to include this land, I think it’s a perfect fit as much as we would miss the Dino playground. But I digress. I’ve always wanted a space that I can document and motivate other mamas and families to travel with their littles. It can seem so overwhelming and expensive, but I am going to hopefully give a little light into a challenging space to say that the gains are far more than the costs. So if you care to you can find me over on instagram at a new account called: TrekkingWithToddlers and a new YouTube space themed around it as well! I cannot wait to see what kind of fun comes from there and I would love if you follow along.
Finishing a Marathon in More Ways than One
My “a” key is sticky as I type this, so it could get interesting. It’s been one week. One week since I crossed the finish line of the Walt Disney World Marathon. One week of achieving two goals I had set post-partum. One week of unwinding from a season of chaos, and more ugly-named a season of selfishness.
In August I was unwinding from a season of LOVE ATLANTA, some special events I was working, my brother’s wedding, and gearing up to start this marathon training cycle. I had already turned down one contracting opportunity that gave me little lead time after a busy season, when I was approached about another 12-week opportunity, side hustle if you will. It was something I had always been curious in, and had previously said I wouldn’t give up if I was approached with the opportunity. Whenever I try to describe my personality and the way I work, I sing Shakira the gazelle’s song “Try Everything” from Zootopia. I am far more scared to not have found something that I love, then to fail in the attempt. I have failed A LOT, but I would take it every day over not having gone for it. So I said yes.
I already had several things slated for this past season and a few personal challenges long the way – finishing our home study for foster/adoption, my grandmother being in the hospital long term from COVID – but I didn’t let that stop me. So I dove in: training for my marathon, studying for my PMP exam, taking on my regular job + contract work, taking care of the house + Elijah, supporting Jon in his world. It was too much and everyone around me suffered.
I thought I was doing alright, I was trying to be flexible and present, but even when those two things variables aligned my mind was usually elsewhere. My engagement with Elijah tanked, I was forgetting or having to cancel things with friends, eventually we all got sick, and Jon could be telling me a 50 minute story and 2 minutes in I was trying to solve some puzzle in one of my realms and missed the whole thing. Talk about frustrating.
God in His kindness allowed me to carry it all for good and bad. I helped launch a few successful projects with work, I got to be a part of a few interesting and fun projects in the contract world, I passed my PMP exam and officially got certified, and reached two of my three goals for my marathon (sub 3:30 and finish without walking – by stretch goal was sub 3:15 if you were interested), but as I crossed the finish line something felt different than it ever had: gratitude + contentment, a sign it was time for something else.
I reflected on it a good bit this past week, my word for the year is simplify, and through the muck of this last year – even in the good – I let myself and feelings take the drivers seat A LOT. And so I feel convicted and challenged. How do I balance showing up for my community without sacrificing my presence with the people I love? How do I actively create the boldness in the uncomfortable places (it’s plenty there in the comfortable ones)? How do I not try to “share” the spotlight with my Creator/Savior by continuing to achieve and goal-set? How do I cultivate a love of adventure and exploration alongside extreme generosity?
That’s why I want to chew on the first few months of this year. I crossed the finish line of this marathon and as the final moment of this past season – and now it’s time for something new. Lord how can I do your will with what you’ve given me?
Hello old friend.
It’s been awhile. I had no intentions on sitting down to type this, but the year was too full and God so faithful for me to miss out on a moment to remember. I could sit here generalizing the beauty of the mountaintop and the valleys, each in their time, but I find it not as helpful as the specific moments that meet people right where they are. My writing might be a little rusty, but it’s not for lack of passion, and I hope some of that rust will shake off in 2023.
We began the year with anxiety – we love and are for Passion Conference – but the rise in virus cases and the vulnerabilities in my family make it a little more consequential than for others. In faith we served, and regardless of our desires we landed sick, cancelling a trip I was excited for, and the worst part was having a sick little 1 year old with a very high fever which felt like forever to shake. It also sent my body on a tailspin that has taken most of this year to reckon with.
While my case was mild, my breathing never seemed to return to normal post COVID. I ended up having to axe some of my race season and pacing duties because while I could run, it was very up, down and inconsistent. At the end of January, I unexpectedly ended up getting pregnant. We took on a beach trip in February with some close friends of ours, it was beautiful and fun! We had never done a trip like that with friends before. We got back and a week later I knew something wasn’t right. Having already planned to head to Florida and just playing things by ear – after a horrible night/morning of loss – I escaped to Florida to recover outside the eyes and demands of a not yet 2 year old.
While the trip was good and helpful the first two months of the year had knocked me down. I buried myself in work and LOVE ATLANTA rhythms, trying to refill the capacity I didn’t feel worthy any longer to ask for. My eating disorder tried to rear its head in different ways while I was juggling so many different responsibilities and opportunities. In July, the day after my now sister in law’s bridal shower, I ended up with our second bought of COVID. Thankfully for me, it was as mild as the first, and Elijah’s case was much better this time around.
In August, we celebrated my little brother’s wedding, only then for my family to get wreaked by their first every case of COVID. What they say held true, everyone was fatigued and lousy but fine, except, for my grandmother. A week after she was diagnosed she ended up in the ICU fighting for her life. Jon and I still, gratefully, took our trip to the Pacific Northwest visiting Olympic National Park, Vancouver, Seattle, and Mt Rainier National Park – it was beautiful and being in nature and God’s creation is one of the cores of how I move through life in awe of my Creator.
When we got back it was a quick turnaround before Jon was on an airplane to Phoenix and Elijah and I were on our way to Disney for one last trip of 2022. We made some great memories, admittedly more for me than him, but he had an incredible time and made for a great travel companion at this age. Age 1 was brutal, age 2 seemed to be a fun spot; I could still keep him contained, but he was able to communicate and relax most of the time. The week after that I leapt into another project. However, my lack of planning hadn’t quite pulled the fact that by December I would have my PMP certification exam, the Christmas season, the hardest part of my training cycle, and all the business of work projects about to switch over years.
In November, my grandmother came home from 3 months in care facilities, we still had to celebrate Thanksgiving without her, but the fact she was comfortably and independently at home brought so much ease.
In December, the Lord in all his goodness, allowed me to pass my PMP certification exam, finish out the hardest part of my training cycle, carry work and projects, and celebrate the season + finish out reading the Bible in a Year (I did a reading plan on YouVersion). Jon always said capacity is a muscle that needs to be stretched, and 5 years I would not have been able to carry all the Lord has entrusted me with. Now, it’s not to say that every yes was the best choice, but I am still standing proclaiming His goodness and faithfulness through all the curveballs this year has thrown.
As we hit 2023 tomorrow, my body is starting to feel closer and closer to “normal”, I am excited to hit another marathon in a week, and then just be with my family in Florida. I am excited for some time in between projects to give more of myself to those around me, and I am excited that we are home study approved and our home is open to take in foster kiddos and/or adopt privately . It will be SO hard and the peace is SO prevalent.
See you next year friends,
Processing Disappointment + Cultivating Positivity
The Chicago Marathon 2021. It’s been a bucket list race for so many years, and three weeks ago I finally was able to toe the line. It was warmer than they anticipated, about 15 degrees warmer – yikes, 75 degrees start was not what I was hoping for. Still, I felt confident. I knew my fitness was there despite nagging injuries, I had run plenty of miles, and my Chiro and PT had helped me through it all. So my wave started around 7:45am and I felt great, I had to really hold myself back from going out too hard, the crowd was energetic and loud. The course just barely rolling – what a thrill.
10K in and I was in a stride still holding myself back trying to stay between the 3:25 and 3:20 pacers, for now. I knew I could keep this pace up no problem, the only hard moments were when the wind decided to gust in your face – it knocks your breathing off rhythm but I didn’t think too much about it. 10 miles in and while my legs still felt fresh as ever, something didn’t feel quite right, it was hard to place it. Was it my back, my leg that had given me trouble, was it the high temp and humidity forcing my lungs to work too hard? It was truly hard to pinpoint. The freshness of my legs, wanted me to keep going, my mind said I shouldn’t. So at 12.5 I dropped to a walk, called Jon on the phone and told him something wasn’t right. I was sad and confused, because I could have kept the pace up the whole way… but something had gone awry and I had to chose what happened next.
I walked 1 minute and then ran 2 minutes trying to loosen up my body, I was done by now no chance at coming back, but the decision to finish or walk off the course was another question entirely. Mindset is everything, I could live in the disappointment, but I could also embrace the atmosphere and the 11 or so miles I had left at this point. I did a body check to make sure I wasn’t actually causing damage to my hips or legs and pressed on. Smiling, chatting, breathing it all in. My legs were still fresh so as long as I circulated in a walk break to make sure I didn’t lock up I could run half miles at a time. Slowly (respectively – I realize it is still a nice clip to most) the miles ticked by. Jon was a rock, catching me at the points I needed it most.
I had fun the last 6 miles, when most people are just toasted my legs could still carry me with my steady clip. So down the last straight away we went and finally the finish line! I walked through feeling fine, until the 80 degrees suddenly caught up to my stomach, embarrassing! I sat down for a moment in the finish shoot (pretty far down, I wasn’t in the way) and quickly got told that I had to keep moving. That sounded dicey. So I breathed slow and steady to keep my stomach from actually taking me out and I made it over to Jon! In hindsight I probably shouldn’t have chugged the whole water bottle at the finish line.
We slowly made our way to the hotel and Jon stopped in for donuts that was just a block down. I didn’t feel like eating anything yet the donuts seemed like a great idea. Jon was so sweet to get a six count variety pack and I took small bites of each so we could try them all. It did not disappoint (shout out to Stan’s Donuts). We didn’t have as much time as we had hoped for since I finished about 45 minutes later than expected, so I quickly showered and headed to our last stop before flying out – Chicago deep dish.
OK, so I’m not a pizza person, however, when I traveled to Chicago in 2013 for a girls weekend we hit one of the iconic Chicago pizza places and I ate it up! This was not that. I am glad I had it, I still love true Chicago deep dish, but do NOT try to force it on your stomach a couple hours after a full marathon. It is not worth it.
The next couple hours were a blur, we made our way to the “L” and on to the airport. I talked to a nice older man from Maryland who had just finished the race as well. These young guns who had no idea what they were doing were sitting near us and asked us for running and fueling advice. Our flight was a few minutes delayed despite the flight attendant’s best efforts to make people board efficiently. I got upgraded at the last minute to Delta Comfort, which made Jon sad but my legs happy. Watched a fascinating documentary about the week after Princess Diana’s death, yes I am one of those people. Had a smooth drive through the city home; night time against the Atlanta Skyline is my favorite. My parents were there to greet us with pumpkin muffins and a sound asleep little boy. That adventure that really was 6 months in the making over, life moves on.
I would recommend Chicago to everyone. It’s an experience. A good one. I will forever look back and be glad I did it despite the result. But Monday started, I had a smiling boy that was so happy and surprised to see me, my work team didn’t care how I did, they are just forever impressed that I run marathons, I had so much support from my community. That’s a really beautiful thing about being a runner, you don’t have expectations added on from outside forces, it just gets to be you, and then when its over life is moving and people are with you through it all. A few days later I was in my kitchen eating ice cream and donuts with my friends and just happy to be there, thankful for the life God has given me.
If God is calling you – you can hold both, and they might have tension. You can set goals, step into the “yes’s” God is asking you too, but regardless if you hit a home run or strikeout, you did something and the people around you will spur you on for better or for worse.
Hawaii & Traveling Without Baby
Despite the pandemic, we managed to safely travel several times in Elijah’s first 16 months of life. Lake Hartwell to see my grandmother, across the southeast and even the southwest parts of the US, and most recently up to Maryland to see family. Traveling with Elijah as an infant was far from easy, but we hoped to get him used to it early on. I mentioned in an earlier blog post how great it was to be able to rent baby equipment! Although Elijah is far from accommodating on an airplane, he does fairly well once you get him to where he is going. He loves a good hiking backpack and has always seem to sleep well in different places. However, after so many trips it was time to branch out on a mom and dad only trip! When we first got married I had dreamed of saving up enough to go to Hawaii for our five-year anniversary, although for obvious reasons we didn’t hit that mark we were in a place we could do it for our 6th year. Jon is really blessed to have his whole office shut down for a full week every year. The church takes a Sabbath break to rest and remember all the Lord has done. This has typically fallen right around our anniversary so the timing is always perfect. August had been full this year, and we were ready to take some deep breaths and slow it down. I knew I would miss Elijah, the emotions came heavy with 36 hours to go, but the stay at home working mom life wears you down at moments, and on top of marathon training this mom needed a reset.
I am thankful for all of the moments I get in this life. God has blessed us immensely! I love what I do; I have a great running community, and I get to be home with Elijah while growing in my career. It doesn’t get much better, but that doesn’t mean we don’t get exhausted and whether big or small need to find ways to have our cup refilled. Hawaii was a dream trip of ours, once in a lifetime. And as much as we wanted some beautiful views, we also wanted to make sure we were quiet enough to really hear from the Lord.
So here’s several Hawaii tips when you are going on a couples trip sans kiddos:
- DO NOT try to do Hawaii on a budget, you won’t enjoy it nearly as much. It’s expensive and if you are stressing pinching pennies, it’s not the time. We saved up 6 years for these moments and it was worth every penny!
- Our view was phenomenal, I did the one tier upgrade so that we could have a garden view (and we ended up with garden, ocean and hills). We stayed outside of Honolulu/Wakiki because, especially during COVID, we wanted to have the space to walk around and breath in some of the more low key areas. These cost a little bit of a premium (although it didn’t not seem like an outrageous jump). Ko Olina was perfect for us! It has upper tier resorts, but the village is to die for, and you are in a little bit more of a secluded area, and you aren’t far away from anything. If you head that way try Island Vintage Coffee – I think we went there every day!
- Bring snacks for the time difference! Especially quick breakfasts. Atlanta is a 6 hour time difference from Hawaii so the earliest we could eat Hawaii time was 12pm our time. So we grabbed a thing of bagels and peanut butter, and a few protein bars to tide us over when we woke up early and didn’t want to get hangry!
- Take on the excursions that you couldn’t do with littles! The two that stand out to us were a couples surfing lesson on Oahu (no matter how scared you are – DO IT), we had a great experience with Surf N Sea ! The one thing I wish we had was someone to take a few snaps of us. The other experience is the Koko Crater Railway Trail. It’s a steep steep railroad track that takes you straight up and has the best views, but Jon couldn’t have done it with Elijah on his back.
- Island hop! It’s easy to think that Oahu has all you need, and honestly it’s pretty close. BUT our trip to the big island was phenomenal. At Honolulu International there is a single terminal for cross island flights. We were parked and through security in 15 minutes if not less, the flight was 50 minutes, and the car rental experience in Hilo was outstanding. I think all in we were 2 hours from parking at HNL to pulling out of the Hilo rental car lot. Spend the $20 on the Jeep upgrade and enjoy whatever the other island has to offer. We chose the Big Island for Volcanoes National Park, but from all I hear Maui and Kauai are stunning.
- Take your time eating. Meal times for us in this season are hectic. Elijah can have a great lunch and then be the pickiest ever for dinner, so getting a break from those toddler conversations and freak outs was so refreshing. We spent so much time on our balcony in the word with coffee and treats in hand.
- Read every word at the Pearl Harbor Museum. There was a mom with a little boy while we were there, he had the nosiest shoes ever, but also just wanted to keep moving. Totally normal, but we got to actually sit in the weight of what happened over the course of Pearl Harbor’s history, and it’s worth sitting in.
- Grab a photographer and get some shots together. Thankfully we were at Disney’s Aulani, where Photopass photographers are everywhere, and unlike Disneyworld where you pay $160 regardless of length of stay. You pay $70 at Aulani for a full 7 days. We were able to grab a photographer at sunset on the water, and just add it to our package.
- Be ready to squeeze your littles so tight when you get back. We got back right after sunrise Sunday morning, and he was SO confused when we got there. We had purposely not talked to him during the week so he didn’t start to get uneasy and upset, but he was less than thrilled after realizing our betrayal. A few hours later he napping on my chest like he was a newborn. The transition back can be tricky, but it was worth it for both him and us.
- Put the memories in a book… and do it quickly! I love memory books and so does my family and Elijah. However, the further you get from the trip or experience the less likely you are to get it done. So less than 48 hours after our trip I had all our pictures downloaded and compiled and added them to a Shutterfly photobook.
We realize how fortunate we are to experience these things at this stage in life. It’s not lost on us our situation, but regardless of where or how far you can go. Time away is good. Not to just do nothing, but to actually hone in on the gratitude and magnitude of God, who He is, and what He has done. Aloha for now friends.
Race Recaps and Rest Days
This past Friday rolled around and the pre race day moment I usually encounter hit: “Do I really want to toe the line tomorrow?”. Simply put, the way to get better at racing is to practice racing, but when you’ve ground your body down during training making it to the start line can be challenging. A 4 miler is nothing to gawk at, but it’s also not like asking my body to run a half or full marathon. I needed 12 miles on the day, and instead of pushing and potentially hurting my worn out body I decided to use the 4 miler as a marathon pace effort. It was the best of both worlds, I could get in practice with race morning, start waves, racing smart without pushing my body to the max and still getting in the work I needed.
And honestly those moments should be approached that way every time. Run by feel. Push yourself, but don’t get hurt. Race days are a dime a dozen and you can adapt your plan to what is healthiest for YOU on any given day. For some of us more competitive folk it’s hard not to try to rage out the starting gate, but that is when you have to focus on the long range goal. Sure I could risk injury now and aim high, but my actual goal is to be able to complete “so and so distance on this date”, so what is the wisest choice for now? Navigating iterative goals in the midst of a much larger goal poses challenges, but isn’t that kind of how life goals in general?
In my case, I am looking towards October 10th at the Chicago Marathon, everything else is just a build up to that moment. Decatur is hilly, very hilly and Chicago is very flat, so pushing myself up and down hills at max effort is only going to add so much value. Injuring myself up them sure won’t help. So if you’ve set a run, cycle, yoga goal make sure you are moving and pushing your body in ways that will benefit the end game!
Also to note, if your body truly feels like its been drug through the mud, give yourself the rest day! There is no shame in adding an extra one to your plan or even taking one to begin with! If you still want to make sure to move your body take a easy stroll around the neighborhood or do a gentle yoga session – your body will thank you either way!
Today, my body just said no. So I did some light stretching on the Nike Training App and took a short walk first thing in the morning. You can also Epsom salt bath, ice, use compression, foam roll, etc anything that relaxes and lets your body recover! Other than making sure Elijah is taken care of my legs are thrown up on the couch to keep them elevated! There are so many natural recovery tools that we have access to.
Wake up your body and then move it in the best way for you today!
Happy Tuesday Friends!