March 29th we traveled to Southern Oklahoma for a few things. First things first, we had a family birthday party for Alivia on Saturday morning in Durant with Brandon's family. Shortly after the party Brandon and I loaded up the car and off we went to the A2A Maraton {Another race adventure}!

We arrived at the expo on Saturday afternoon. Packet pick up was easy-breezy, no lines and we even found a few goodies at the small booth they had set up at the expo. We had a little time to kill before the pasta dinner so we went exploring in downtown Ardmore. They were having their Music and Taste of Ardmore Festival so we grabbed a few tickets and enjoyed a slice of pizza from a local pizza place before heading back for dinner #2 at the pasta dinner. {Tickets to the pasta dinner were included in your race registration fee!} At the dinner we learned that this race is 100% volunteer ran. Not a single person is paid for their work in organizing this marathon. With that being said it was probably one of the best ran races we have ever been too! Great job A2A team!!

Saturday night Brandon and I stayed the night in the Durant Falls Creek cabin. It was fun to go back and see everything that had changed there. We got there a little before sun set so we went exploring! I had a great time with Brandon. We are very blessed with family that loves our babies when we sneak away! 
We played a little ping-pong, ate a great snack, laid out all of our clothes for the next day and off to bed we went with a early wake up call of 5AM!

The A2A Marathon is different than anything Brandon and I have ran before because it is a point-to-point run. So when we arrived at the stadium Brandon got on a bus that took him to the start of the Half Marathon and I got on a bus that took me onto the Full Marathon starting line. The air was chilly so I ended up staying on the bus until 15 minutes before the race was scheduled to start. While sitting on the bus I got to chat with Angie of Marathon Training Academy. {Check her and Trevor out! We love their podcast!} The buses drove away leaving me and 106 other people on top of the mountain ready to run 26.2 miles. 

The gun went off and the feeling I had was very surreal. It was crazy starting as such a small group. This was the smallest race I ever ran, and it was a real mental battle at first being at the back of pack. I kept reminding myself that I was there to run my race, and i couldn't compare myself to anyone else on the road that day. 

Miles 1-6 were pretty much down hill, the weather was perfect, the wind was chilly so I kept my sleeve on for the majority of the these miles. At mile 7 we turned and went onto a Ranch where we ran miles 7,8,9&10. The ranch was beautiful, this portion of the race was a loop so I got to see the leaders of the race. Feeling good at this point. 

Between mile 13-14 Brandon, the kids, and his parents came and found me on the course. Still feeling good, but the wind was starting to pick up, and the sun was shining bright. The next 6 miles were tough. I begin doing run/walk intervals around mile 15. Mile 17 I wrote Brandon a text message and all it said was "kill me".  That was the slowest mile of the day for me coming in at 13mins51seconds. I walked a lot of those six miles. It was pretty hilly, and so so so windy. One of the hardest parts of the day was being out on the course all alone. The race was awesome and there were water stops pretty much every mile from 12 on, but runners were few and far  between.

BUT I knew mile 20 was coming and we would finally get to turn and the wind would be at my side and back for a few miles. I had  a renewed spirit and felt pretty strong the last 6 miles.  I ended up passing several people at the end of the race. 

I finally came across the finish line at 4hours58minutes. My slowest of my 3 official marathons I have ran, but I am still super proud of the hard work I put in to earn that medal.

Overall this race was awesome. It was well organized, ran %100 by volunteers, and definitely a race we will be doing in the future! {And you should too!}

Big shout out to my mother-in-law and father-in-law for watching the babies for us and cheering us on, to Aunt Peggy for driving up to see me finish, and for all of our supporters here. Thanks for cheering me on! 
 
 
This past Saturday morning we loaded up the car and headed to Waco, TX for the Miracle Match Marathon {MMM}. We ditched the kiddos with the grandparents and Brandon and I were on our way, just the two of us! {What a blessing!} 

The MMM is a very small race compared to the bigger city races we usually go to. There were no lines, a small expo, and just under 200 people that finished the marathon on Sunday. We arrived at packet pickup and I received bib #20. They had big maps hanging on the wall of the course route and a gentleman walked me through the route. He explained where the small hills were, where the big hills were, and where the even bigger hills were. I was told not to expect a PR {personal record} at all. To say the least I left packet pickup with a lump in my throat and my stomach in knots. I was so very nervous. Probably more than I ever have been before  a race. 

That evening Brandon and I ate at PEI WEI {YUM!!} and we stopped at Collin Street Bakery on our way back to the hotel. We got there about 30 minutes before they closed so we walked out of there with 4 cookies and 2 containers of cinnamon rolls FOR FREE because they were going to throw them away at the end of the day! Awesome! 

We ate our cookies, brushed our teeth, and got a great nights sleep {Besides when I woke up at 3:00AM thinking we had slept through the alarm and I missed the race}. Totally odd, but the hotel room had no clock so I woke Brandon up in a panic! 

Sunday morning I felt great. I was right at the front of the pack at the start line. The marathon, 1/2, and 10K all started together. The weather was perfect as we set out onto Baylor's campus. The sun was starting to rise and it was so peaceful. The campus was beautiful, and I had settled into a comfy pace preparing myself for the 26.2 miles and hills ahead. 

Right before mile 5 everyone split. The 10Kers went right, the 1/2ers went straight, and the marathoners went left, and believe me: the marathon route was the road less traveled for sure. There was no road congestion. I could see maybe 5-10 runners in front of me, and just a few behind me as well. I knew that the road ahead could get lonely. 

Mile 7 came with the first small hill {easy peasy}. On that hill I passed a man, probably in his mid 50's. He was walking up the hill and told me to take it easy, and that it was just the beginning. Around mile 8 he caught up with me and we quickly became friends. His name was Jorge, he is an ultra-marathoner. That run was his 48th marathon to run and I realized that he knew what he was doing. Mile 8,9,10,11,12,13 passed in a flash. Rolling hills filled with conversation with my new friend. Plant based diets, proper fueling, ultra-marathons, our families, blogs, and running groups were the topics of our conversations. 

Mile 13 came with a bang. A beautiful view of the lake and a hill that made you forget the beautiful scene all together. Mile 14-15 was one loooong hill that never seemed to end. We walked the hills that were steep {At that point our walk was faster than our attempt to run up the steep inclines}. 

Mile 16 came and Jorge and I got split up. He stopped to tie his shoe and get some water at a water stop and I continued on. Just ten more miles. I was feeling strong! I started concentrating on the the next 4 miles. I knew that the last six were going to be killer. Miles 17,18,19 were pretty much a breeze. Down hill or flat. 
 
Then mile 20... I knew at this point unless my body completely shut down I would have a PR. I continued on as my body grew more and more fatigued on the HUGE hills in Cameron Park followed by 2 small, steep, and rough hills. My hips were starting to hurt from going down so many hills, by that time I was hot, out of breath, and hitting the dreaded "wall". Mile 23 came with the promise of less hills and the end in sight. 

Mile 24 was a tough mile for me. Brandon had gone ahead to the finish line and I knew the last 2.2 miles were just me and the pavement. By this time I could only see a few runners ahead of me {which I ended up passing!!} I decided to run mile 24 for Alivia. I kept thinking of the joy she is to me. The things I love about her and her sweet little stubborn soul. Mile 25 was for Gray. My boy. His blonde hair and blue eyes that I treasure so much. He high pitch scream and the his sweet shy smile that makes my heart skip a beat. By now I was just praying there would be one more hill so I could walk, but there was no hill insight. Just the bridge I knew the finish line was located on and the promise of Brandon waiting for me cheering me on. 

After running up a pretty killer ramp there it was: .2 left over this old wooden bridge. There was B, along with others cheering us on. I crossed the finish line at 4hours 32minutes and 31seconds. {A 6 minutes PR, which I am so excited about considering the tough course! It is known to be the toughest marathon in TX!}

I got my medal, my finishers jacket,  chocolate milk, a delicious fajita, found a seat, and just processed everything that had just happened. Realizing how strong I am. How far I have come from just having a baby 11 months ago. How much I am loved and supported by the man of dreams, family, and friends. How much I love running and the challenge it is for me and how much fulfillment I get from pounding the pavement. 

Man, what a great experience Sunday was. I am so very thankful for the opportunity. I am so very thankful to the person that paid my way. I am so very thankful I got a redemption race after Dallas was canceled in December.  I am so very thankful that Brandon rode his bike for 4+ hours. He was my own personal traveling water station and he kept me going when I wanted to stop. His love, patience, encouragement, and persistence gets me to every finish line. What would I do without him?? I am so very thankful our babies are loved by their grandparents and we can leave them knowing they will be loved and cared for!!

I got 2 things I wasn't expecting from this race: 
1. A sunburn
2. A blood blister on my toe
Both things I would not trade for anything. 

The MMM was great race. Beautiful, tough course. Great water stations that were ran by spirited, encouraging individuals. I would recommend this race to anyone looking for a challenge. I hope to go back for sure. It's worth the hills! 
 
 
FRIDAY AFTERNOON WHEN BRANDON GOT OFF WORK WE HURRIED  OUT THE DOOR HEADED NORTH TO THE WADDELL & REED KANSAS CITY MARATHON . EARLIER IN THE DAY I HEARD THAT IT WAS SNOWING IN KANSAS AND BEGAN GETTING EXTREMELY NERVOUS ABOUT RACE DAY AND THE CLOTHING OPTIONS WE HAD PACKED. LAST MINUTE I THREW IN 2 THROW-AWAY LONG SLEEVE SHIRTS AND WE WERE OUT THE DOOR.

AFTER A LONG DRIVE IN THE RAIN & SNOW WE ARRIVED AT THE EXPO 30 MINUTES BEFORE IT SHUT DOWN SO WE DIDN'T HAVE MUCH TIME TO LOOK AROUND, BUT THE EXPO WAS IN A GREAT LOCATION WITH FREE PARKING. WE PICKED UP OUR PACKETS, BIBS, TECH SHIRTS, BBQ SAUCE, AND LOOKED AROUND FOR JUST A FEW MINUTES. WE DIDN'T STICK AROUND LONG BECAUSE WE WERE STARVING! 

WE JUMPED BACK ON 1-35 AND FOUND A PIZZA HUT JUST A FEW MILES AWAY FROM WHERE WE WERE STAYING FOR THE NIGHT. WE ATE PIZZA, DRANK A BIG CUP OF WATER AND HEADED TO MY AUNTS HOUSE WHERE WE WERE STAYING THE NIGHT. WE LAID OUT ALL OF OUR RACE DAY CLOTHES AND FUEL AND HIT THE SACK AROUND 10:00 HOPING FOR A GREAT NIGHT SLEEP. 

OUR ALARM WAS SET FOR 4:00AM. THAT WOULD GIVE US PLENTY OF TIME TO GET AROUND, FEED GRAYSON, AND HEAD OUT THE DOOR AROUND 5:00AM. G-MAN HAD OTHER PLANS. HE WOKE UP AROUND 3;00AM AND STAYED AWAKE UNTIL 4;30AM OR SO. OUR SLEEP WAS CUT SHORT (OH THE JOY OF TRAVELING WITH A BABY!) AND B AND I WERE PRETTY TIRED. WE LACED UP OUR RUNNING SHOES AND WE WERE OUT THE DOOR A LITTLE EARLY, READY TO RUN.

WE GOT DOWNTOWN AND AFTER FINDING OUR EXIT WAS CLOSED AND NOT REALLY KNOWING WHERE WE WERE GOING WE FOLLOWED SOME OTHER CARS AND ENDED UP EXACTLY WHERE WE NEEDED TO BE. FREE PARKING JUST A FEW BLOCKS FROM THE START/FINISH LINE. WE ARRIVED WITH OVER A  HOUR BEFORE RACE TIME AND IT WAS SO COLD OUTSIDE SO WE WAITED IN THE CAR FOR A BIT BEFORE WE MADE OUR WAY TO THE CROWN CENTER TO FIND THE RESTROOMS AND WAIT UNTIL RACE TIME. 

WHILE IN THE CROWN CENTER WE STUMBLED UPON THE PACE GROUPS AND THAT IS WHEN I MADE THE MOST IMPORTANT DECISION OF THE DAY: I DECIDED TO JUMP IN WITH THE 2HOUR PACE GROUP. ABOUT 6;45AM WE WALKED OUT TO THE START LINE, I KISSED BRANDON GOODBYE AND SENT HIM ON AHEAD WITH THE 3;45 MARATHON PACE GROUP. MY NERVES WEREN'T TOO BAD. I WAS PRETTY RELAXED, AND MET SOME AWESOME RUNNERS. ONE GUY WAS RUNNING HIS FIRST 1/2 AND HIS GOAL WAS TO COME IN UNDER 2 HOURS, ANOTHER GIRL FROM TULSA WAS RUNNING WITH THE SAME GOAL. OUR PACE GROUP LEADERS GATHERED US AROUND AND TOLD US THE MANTRA: 2 HOURS 2 DAY WAS GOING TO CARRY US THROUGH, AND IT DID!

THE FIRST 6 MILES LITERALLY FLEW BY. THE BIGGEST HILL OF THE RACE, LIBERTY MEMORIAL HILL WAS AT MILE 3 AND IT WAS PRETTY BRUTAL. THERE WAS A TURN AROUND POINT AFTER THE BIG HILL AND I SAW BRANDON IN THE SEA OF RUNNERS AND IT BROUGHT TEARS TO MY EYES. THE MILES JUST STARTED ROLLING BY. ONE HILL AT A TIME. MILE 8 IS WHEN THE RACE SPLIT, THE HALF MARATHONERS TURNED LEFT AND WE SENT THE MARATHONERS ON STRAIGHT. MILES 8-11 WERE PRETTY MENTALLY TOUGH FOR ME. MY LEGS WERE BEGINNING TO FEEL IT AND I WAS STARTING TO HUFF AND PUFF PRETTY HARD WHEN WE WOULD ENCOUNTER HILLS. APRIL, THE PACE GROUP LEADER SAVED THE DAY FOR ME. SHE WAS SO ENCOURAGING, HELPFUL, TOLD FUNNY STORIES ABOUT HER 9 MONTH OLD BABY BOY, SHE KNEW THE COURSE SO WELL, WARNED US ABOUT UPCOMING HILLS, REMINDED US TO BREATH, AND SHE WAS ONE OF THE REASONS I FINISHED THE RACE UNDER MY GOAL TIME. 

MILES 11-13.1 WERE ALL DOWN HILL OR FLAT AND IT WAS EXACTLY WHAT I NEEDED TO PUSH THROUGH AND FINISH STRONG. AT THIS POINT I WAS AN EMOTIONAL MESS AND EVERY TIME I SAW A BABY CHEERING IN THE CROWD TEARS WOULD FLOOD MY EYES KNOWING MY BABIES WILL ONE DAY STAND IN THE CROWD TO WATCH ME ACCOMPLISH BIGGER GOALS, AND THEN HOPEFULLY I WILL GET TO STAND IN THE CROWD TO WATCH THEM ONE DAY TOO. 

THE FINISH WAS GREAT. WE TURNED ONTO GRAND AND THE STREET WAS LINED WITH SPECTATORS CHEERING. I CROSSED THE FINISH LINE WITH A TIME OF 1 HOUR, 59 MINUTES, AND 18 SECONDS. JUST SECONDS BEFORE MY GOAL TIME OF 2 HOURS, AND A 6 MINUTE PERSONAL BEST TIME!

AFTER I FINISHED I HAD GRAND PLANS ON HEADING BACK TO MILE 22 TO CHEER ON BRANDON BEFORE HIS BIG FINISH, BUT I GOT TURNED AROUND AND COULDN'T FIND THE STREET I NEEDED TO HEAD DOWN, I GOT EXTREMELY COLD AND DECIDED TO STAY NEAR THE FINISH LINE AND WARM UP IN A NEAR BY BUILDING UNTIL IT WAS TIME TO SEE B COME ACROSS THE FINISH LINE. IT TOOK BRANDON 3HOURS 45MINUTES AND 4SECONDS TO FINISH HIS 5TH MARATHON AND I AM SO EXTREMELY PROUD OF HIM FOR PUSHING THROUGH AND HAVING A GREAT TIME DESPITE BIG HILLS AND TOUGH TRAINING. HE IS ONE OF THE STRONGEST MEN I KNOW, AND I HOPE I GET TO SEE HIM CROSS FINISH LINES FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES! (STAY TUNED, MR. ARMSTRONG MIGHT WRITE A RACE RECAP OF HIS OWN LATER THIS WEEK!)

AFTER B FINISHED WE ENJOYED OUR FREE BBQ SANDWICH, STOPPED AT PANERA FOR SOMETHING WARM TO DRINK AND HEADED BACK TO OUR BABY. WHAT A SUCCESSFUL DAY WE HAD IN KC!

OVERALL THE RACE WAS GREAT. THE COURSE WAS BEAUTIFUL. THE HILLS WERE TOUGH. RUNNING THROUGH THE DISTRICTS OF KANSAS CITY WAS ENTERTAINING. THE CROWD WAS GREAT. EVERYTHING WAS WELL ORGANIZED AND WE WOULD RECOMMEND THIS RACE TO ANYONE! 

I WORE A CHAMPION ZIP UP TOP, AND CHAMPION PANTS FROM TARGET, A NIKE SLEEVE OVER THAT, AND MY UNDER ARMOR GLOVES I ENDED UP TAKING OFF AND CARRYING ON MY HANDHELD NATHAN WATER BOTTLE. I FUELED WITH THIS BAR, THESE ENERGY BEANS, AND NUUN

I WOULD LIKE TO THANK BRANDON'S MOM FOR MAKING THE TRIP WITH US. FOR DRIVING WHEN WE WERE TIRED AND WATCHING GRAYSON WHILE WE RAN. ALSO, THANKS AUNT BARBARA FOR LETTING US STAY AT YOUR HOUSE AND FOR FEEDING US LUNCH AFTER THE RACE! THANKS TO MY MOMMA AND DAD FOR WATCHING MISS A, THE WILD ONE! LAST BUT NOT LEAST, THANKS TO EVERYONE THAT CHEERED US ON BACK HERE AT HOME! YOUR SUPPORT MEANS THE WORLD TO US! 

 
 
SATURDAY MORNING I GOT THE BABIES UP EARLY TO HEAD TO THE SQUARE FOR OUR LOCAL 5K, LIKE WE HAVE FOR THE PAST 3 YEARS. 

THIS YEAR WAS SPECIAL THOUGH. THIS YEAR I RAN WITH MY MOMMA! MY DAD AND HER HAVE STARTED RUNNING AGAIN AND I CAN'T TELL YOU HOW PROUD I AM OF BOTH OF THEM! 

THE CHEROKEE STRIP 5K IS NOT HUGE. 137 PEOPLE LACED UP THEIR SHOES TO POUND THE PAVEMENT AROUND OUR LITTLE TOWN. WE ARRIVED ON THE SQUARE, PICKED UP OUR BIB, OUR TIMING STRIP (THIS WAS THE FIRST YEAR FOR THIS TECHNOLOGY, WE USUALLY WEAR TIMING CHIPS. PERSONALLY I LOVE THE STRIPS AND HOW EASY AND CONVENIENT THEY ARE!), OUR T-SHIRT, AND WERE GREETED BY THE PERRY CROSS COUNTRY TEAM STRETCHING IT OUT.   

I LOVE SMALL HOME-TOWN RACES.  FOR AWHILE ON THE COURSE WE WERE FOLLOWING A FATHER AND HIS SON. LISTENING AND WATCHING THEM MADE ME SO EXCITED FOR THE DAY WHEN WE CAN ACTUALLY RUN WITH OUR BABIES INSTEAD OF PUSHING THEM! WHAT A DAY IT WILL BE WHEN WE CAN CROSS A FINISH LINE AS A FAMILY!

IT WAS A BEAUTIFUL MORNING TO RUN. I WORE A NIKE LONG SLEEVE THAT I GOT FOR MY BIRTHDAY THAT I HAVE BEEN DYING TO WEAR AND OLD NAVY RUNNING SHORTS. THE AIR WAS CRISP, BUT I QUICKLY GOT WARMED UP IN MY SLEEVE. THE COURSE HAS BEEN THE SAME BOTH TIMES I HAVE RAN, IT IS A GREAT ROUTE ON ROADS THAT I RUN ALMOST EVERY WEEK. THERE ARE A FEW HILLS THAT ARE LONG AND GRADUAL AND CAN DEFINITELY MAKE YOUR LEGS BURN IF YOU AREN'T PREPARED.

MY MOM DID GREAT, SHE GOT 3RD PLACE IN HER AGE GROUP AND LEARNED A FEW THINGS FROM HER TRAINING THAT SHE CAN WORK ON FOR THE NEXT RACE (WHICH HAPPENS TO BE THIS UP COMING SUNDAY IN EDMOND, CLICK HERE IF YOU WANT TO JOIN US--ITS GONNA BE A REAL HOT TIME!) ALSO, IF YOU CAN BELIEVE IT: I HAVE TALKED HER INTO TRAINING FOR A HALF MARATHON WITH ME, HER STORY IS GOING TO BE AWESOME!! 

THANKS FOR RUNNING WITH ME MOMMA! YOU DID GREAT! 
ALSO, THANKS TO UNCLE J & AUNT SARAH FOR WATCHING MY BABIES AND BRINGING YOURS TO CHEER US ON! NOTHING IS BETTER MOTIVATION THAN KNOWING SWEET BABES ARE AT THE FINISH LINE WAITING FOR YOU!