Monday, April 29, 2013

The Royal Pajama Party

My sweet little baby....the 6 pound, 4 oz bundle of joy that came into this world with a head full of thick red hair at 4:52pm April 28, 2008 turned 5 this weekend.

I brought this adorable little creature home from the hospital 2 days later. Now, hard as it is to believe, she's morphed into this intelligent, funny, sweet, beautiful little girl.

Copyright Portrait Innovations

The 5 years have not been without their bumps, as with all parents and their children. However, we have faced the additional challenge of autism. I'm proud to be this kid's mom, let me tell you. She's polite. She knows how to say please and thank you, usually without prompting. She's kind. She will share her toys eagerly and enthusiastically...most of the time. She IS a kid after all and an only child at that. She's caring. She's the first one to offer a hug to someone who is crying or sad and tell them they can be happy now. She never lets her disabilities stop her from doing anything and we try to ensure she lives as normal of a life as possible. She's a great girl. I'm so happy she's mine.

Her birthday started with gifts from us and a trip to IHOP for her annual birthday funny face pancake. Here were her favorite gifts.  

She's really into the new Disney princess, Sofia the First, so we had a Royal Pajama Party as the theme for her birthday. We had her friends dress up in their pajamas and come over to hang out, play games and eat cake.

It took nearly all day Saturday, but I got the cake and cupcakes frosted and the decorations up. There were a lot of pink and purple streamers in my house. The cake was a regular Pillsbury white cake with a pink layer and a purple layer, then filled with apple filling and frosted with homemade buttercream. 

We played Cinderella Bingo and cornhole-like game with a Disney Princess theme. 

Before long, it was time to cut the cake. But not before a brief outrage over not wanting to wear the Birthday Princess sash, or *ahem* I mean the princess belt. 

After we told her to take it off since it wasn't worth a tantrum, she loudly and proudly declared "I'M WEARING MY PRINCESS BELT!" Ok then. *shakes head*

Pretty soon it was time to blow out the candles and dig into the cake.

She opened her presents and then people slowly started trickling out. A friend who came late stayed and helped us clean up which I am eternally grateful for. Another friend served as my photographer since I knew  I'd likely be running around busy and not have time to take pictures, which I am also eternally grateful for.  We are so fortunate to have such amazing people in our lives!  

We had about 15-20 kids and every one of them seemed to have a blast! They all came in their pajamas, chased each other around, played well together and the girls especially took a liking to going into the toy closet in the dark, lighting up the Tik Tok Croc toy on the wall and screaming their heads off. The party was a smashing success. 

And now over 24 hours later, I'm still trying to recover!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Gulf Coast *hearts* Boston Fun Run Recap: 4.4 in 44 4 Boston

Last night, my house was full of ladies and laughter and it lasted into the wee hours of the morning. I finally crawled into bed at 2:30am. When my alarm went off at 6:57am - I can never set my alarm to a time with a nice round number ending in 0 or 5 - I thought it was part of my dream since I was only about 4 hours into sleep by then.

Somehow I woke up and managed to get myself and the kiddo downstairs to get her ready and out the door for school, but I couldn't tell you anything about it. In fact, I don't really have a memory of anything that happened before 9am today and even after that, it's sketchy.

I managed to wrap up my work for the day around 3 so I could take a wonderful 20 minute nap before I had to start getting ready for our local running store's Boston benefit run and fundraiser. All I know is when the alarm went off after that nap, there was no way 20 minutes had passed - more like 20 seconds! It was enough to refresh me with enough energy to get me through the run.

I started the long process of getting my feet blister-proofed with the additional task of wrapping my semi-fresh tattoo foot in saran wrap since the roads had been wet with it raining most of the afternoon. Finally I set off for the bar the runners were meeting at. I went in and signed the waiver, collected my "bib" which I did not wear since it was printed on cardstock and highly uncomfortable.

I made sure to get there early because I have this thing about waiting in long lines...I'd rather get somewhere early to avoid a long line and then wait around forever than have to stand in line. Yeah, weird, I know! While we were waiting, my husband took a picture of me, which I had to tinker with on Instagram while killing all this time I had.

Finally they called an 8-minute warning and we all headed to the starting line. The turnout was wonderful, over 400 participants.

This was a participant's choice race as we could choose our preferred length from 1 to 4.4 miles. I opted for the full 4.4 course, which was an out and back along the side streets of Gulfport. This was a very easy and flat course, predominantly in a residential neighborhood once we left our starting area downtown.

This race meant a lot to me. It felt good to be able to get out and take action and run for a good cause. Nope, my run itself doesn't help a single soul anywhere in the world, but it was a great way to bring people together over the love of a sport to raise funds for a cause. I donated money and bought the t-shirt. The Irish Coast Pub which was the meeting point also donated $3 per runner and gave each one of us a free drink. Then we got together and ran because well....that's what we do. We didn't have to run, but for those of us who don't know what we can do, we do something we know and love to do.

My kiddo was waiting for me at the finish line and met me with a big high five and then ran the last 10 yards with me to cross the finish line with me. I would have liked to have finished right at or under 10:00 min/mile but I'll take 10:03 without a single complaint:

Overall, this was a great run for a great cause and I'm proud to have been a part of it.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Sounds like life to me....


Goodness, life has been busy and it's only going to get busier!

Here's what I've been up to lately:

  • Cleaning the house. I loathe cleaning the house and honestly, who really likes it? So I clean it little by little. I carve out 30-45 minutes daily and divvy it up into different areas of the house. Then I just make sure those rooms stay clean through the week. It's much easier now that my tiny, messy 2 year old has morphed into a clean, neat, orderly 5 year old who must have a place for every piece of anything she owns and it must go in that place every day. That makes my heart melt a little bit because she is sooo her mother's daughter.
  • Went on a date. My husband and I had a wonderful opportunity to have a mid-week date night. We just don't have any free weekends between now and the end of June so when a sweet friend of mine offered to watch our daughter so we could go out  for a night, I jumped at the chance to go out on a random Tuesday night. We tried a new restaurant (new to us) and then went to a few places to have some drinks after dinner. My husband was driving, so he did not get a drink at every place we went to in order to pace himself, but at one place we went, it was "Tini Tuesday" and they had $3 martinis. $3!! I was all about that. We just sat chatting about life, politics and religion, subjects that are taboo for discussion with everyone except him. It was nice.
  • Working overtime. The opportunity has presented itself for me to log some overtime, so I've been trying to get in about 1 hour a day. We just bought a new car 2 months ago and we try to pay our vehicles off as quickly as possible so 100% of my salary is being funneled into the car loan and I'm happy to say we should have it paid off within 6-8 months of purchase. Any opportunity to put extra cash toward the car is welcome.
  • Nursing an injury. I've been "off" from my normal workouts because I just got 2 tattoos touched up, one of which is on the side of my foot, so absolutely no running. I'd been going to the gym doing activities that weren't too involved with my feet, but I have now been nursing a back injury. I don't really mess around with back injuries since I seem prone to them for reasons unknown. I know when to take complete rest and implement stretching and massage techniques in order to try to get through it as quickly as possible.

I've been gearing up for a busy week. This is what I'll be up to this week:
  •  Cupcake and wine tasting party. A dear friend of mine is coming back to visit for a while and I'm hosting a party for her to mingle with everyone. She makes excellent cupcakes, so I thought the theme was fitting.
  • Run for Boston. Wednesday marks 2 weeks since I got my tattoos redone and I will be ready to pound the pavement again whether my back likes it or not. I know I am contradicting myself because I said before that I don't mess with back injuries and I really don't. But, people in Boston lost lives and limbs. The least I can do is push through some back pain to run a minimum of 1 mile before I return to my couch for as long as I need to rest and recover.
  • Kindergarten Readiness Fair. Kindergarten, what?? Is it that time? Yep. 
  • A friend's House Party and another friend's birthday party. 
  • A baby shower. Hopefully - I have a lot going on that day as I also have an autism parenting class, a cake to bake and decorate and a house to get ready for a birthday party so we'll see. I may have to just send a gift.
  •  My daughter's birthday party. She's turning 5 and having a Royal Pajama Party, themed as Princess Sofia from Disney Jr. 
  • Still somehow have to find time to put in 40 hours of work this week. It will be a challenge, but if I can just keep the house clean, it will help tremendously. Tell that to my husband though.
So, that's the story of my life lately. Coming up after that, my mom will be headed into town only for us to head out on a mother/daughter Mother's Day cruise! It's a very busy time, but hopefully I will be able to keep up with regular updates. I can't wait to get back into the swing of running more regularly over the next few weeks as well! 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston's tragedy

Today is a sad day for the running community. My thoughts go out to my running brothers and sisters, their families, spectators, volunteers, first responders, basically everyone who has been impacted by the Boston Marathon explosions.

I have to say that terrorism at a running event has crossed my mind before. I've thought about the contributing factors that would make it a perfect storm for a terrorist attack - tens of thousands of runners, volunteers, workers, spectators, family members, etc. Never in my wildest dreams did I think such speculation would come to fruition just mere weeks after both my Disney and Pensacola races.

I woke up this morning and headed to the gym to get in a bit of upper body cardio and some core work. The entire time, I thought about whether I should run the 13.1 series in Chicago when I go back home to Illinois for a family visit in early June. I went back and forth about it. The cons were that I've been battling runner's knee and did I want to continue training with that, not to mention I just got my foot tattoo redone, so I'm out of commission for probably another 10 days on top of the 5 days I've already been out. The pros were that I would absolutely love to run along the Lake Michigan waterfront, I love Chicago in general and it would be yet another piece of bling to add to my collection. Plus, I love the challenge. I never envisioned myself as a half marathoner, but I embrace and enjoy the challenge.

By the time I left the gym, my attitude toward Chicago was "LET'S DO THIS!" And then 5 hours later, as soon as I turned on the news to see the scenes coming out of Boston, my determination had turned to - yes, I'll admit it - fear. I know I can't let fear rule my life, but I have to admit that I'm rethinking this completely. Chicago is a big city and big races in big cities bring out big crowds of people who are perfect targets for terrorism. No, I don't want to let terrorism win by allowing fear to dictate my calendar of events, but at the same time, it gives me pause.

I know the running community is a generous, caring community and I've already seen several running clubs rallying the troops to go on memorial runs, support runs, gathering for a moment of silence before a fun run over the next few days. I so badly wish to participate but I can't because of my ink. What happened today hurts my heart, as a runner, as a mother, as a daughter, as a wife, as a spectator who just wants to cheer people on in that incredibly difficult last .2 miles. I ask everyone who reads this to take a moment of silence of their own in support of Boston.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Break time!

Tonight I went and got both of my tattoos touched up. With regards to working out, they're in unfortunate places where my clothing rubs on them. So, I'm taking a workout break for at least a good 5 days while they begin the healing process and then easing back into it with some low impact exercises so I don't sweat.

I always have a tough time with taking a break. I just feel so guilty. I rarely take breaks, usually only for vacation or illness, but if it gives you any idea how damn stubborn I can be, I had the flu and attempted a 9 mile run anyway when I was training last fall. I only made it 4.5 before my body literally couldn't do it anymore. That battle was purely physical because mentally I wasn't giving up until my body gave out. The very next morning I tested positive for type B influenza. My body felt like it had been hit by a truck and yet I still felt guilty over the next few days for taking a break from training and other general workouts I was doing between training runs.

I'm going to try to enjoy the next few days without guilt, but that's easier said than done. I want my tattoos to heal properly this time and I know part of why they didn't heal right last time was because my sports bra and shoes were rubbing against the relatively fresh ink and scabs. The sweat didn't help either.

Not running is going to be hard. I've been running for nearly 5 years and it's just part of my weekly life now. But I've committed to 2 full weeks of no running, which kills me because I wanted to run in a 10k next weekend, but I'll get over it. It's 10 days out - I may be able to run it if I'm healing well, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

Hope everyone has had a happy hump day!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tasty Tuesday

Did you know today was Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's?!

I'm fortunate enough to live about 10 minutes away from a B&J outlet. OK, know what? I'm not gonna call it B&J. Looks too weird if you know what I mean.

I did not partake in the free ice cream since I went buck wild with enthusiasm for eating over my half marathon weekend and you know at some point I have to cut myself off. In fact, consider me officially cut off.

That didn't stop my family from going without me! That may sound harsh, but I encouraged them to go. I had important tattoo business to tend to and if they'd have been able to have gotten me in tonight, this blog post would also be titled Tattuesday. Tattoosday? Hmm. I'll have to dwell on that one.

Apparently, they went through the line twice and sampled two different types of ice cream each time and by sampled I mean with a full scoop, not that tiny little sampling spoon. After all, it was free cone day, not free miniscule sample day.

Judging by the photo of the line my husband sent me, I'd say Ben & Jerry's had their hands quite full today. If it was anything like when we went last year, where I tried potato chips and ice cream in one fell scoop (see what I did there with a play on words?), the line moved fast. Which is excellent because my child moves fast.

Did you get to enjoy free Ben & Jerry's today? If you're not fortunate enough to live near one, did you have a tasty treat today anyway, pretending it was Ben & Jerry's chocolate chip cookie dough?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Gulf Coast Half Marathon Series - Pensacola Beach Race Recap April 7, 2013

I can't tell you what a perfect morning for running it turned out to be yesterday in sunny Pensacola Beach, FL!

Despite some issues with being able to sleep, no thanks to a loud bar located approximately 150 feet away from my hotel room, I had a wonderfully energetic run.

The sun was shining, the light breeze coming out of the east was refreshing and the view while running could not be beat. While I have completed one half marathon before, the Disney Princess event about 6 weeks ago, I considered this race to be my first real half marathon running experience. Before anyone gets their panties in a wad, let me elaborate. I'm not trying to diminish the experience of the 20,000 ladies and 2,000 men who completed the Disney Princess, but let's face it, it's a different experience with the many picture stops and course crowding. I went into the Princess knowing it was for fun and not to set a PR or anything.

Not that I could set a PR in this race with the atrocious case of runner's knee I've been battling since the Princess. Believe it or not, the Princess didn't give me the pesky injury, but rather I developed it on the first run I attempted after the Princess. Go figure - 5 months of perfectly fine training with no issues, then I run the race where I didn't push it at all, went 5 days without running and then BAM! Injured. Still, I am one stubborn, determined woman and it didn't stop me from signing up for the half in Pensacola Beach.

The gun sounded at 7am sharp and I, along with 1400 of my new running BFF's, set off for the duration. It took me 5, yes F-I-V-E, miles to find my pace with the runner's knee, but I found it. It turns out that interval running isn't the worst thing that could happen to me as a runner. In fact - it helped me to run better during my run intervals. HUH! Who knew?! I found my sweet spot at walking the first .1 mile beginning at mile 5 and then running the remaining .9 miles.  Between miles 2 and 5, I played around with the ratio...started with .25/.75, then .20/.80, then .15/.85 before settling in at .10/.90.  Once I got into this groove, I really started picking up some speed after mile 7.

I loved this course! A flat out-and-back with a bit of weaving through some side streets with beautiful beach homes. It was just so easy. No hills, just 2 areas where the street banked around a curve and we ran unevenly for less than 1/20th of a mile. It was a beautiful day with a light wind, upper 50s at the gun time, though once we made the turn back after the split and the wind was at our backs, I started to sweat some.

I did have to stop and take some photos of the beautiful views while running. It could not be beat! I took this photo near the 7.2 time split.

Entertainment along the course was pretty good for a locally produced race. Each water station was run by some sort of organization - looked like military, neighborhood groups, charity groups, etc. - and many of them dressed up/decorated their booths as a theme, provided speakers with music blasting and some even offered up food. I had brought my own fuel, 3 GU gels and 2 sport beans. I ended up using my peanut butter GU at mile 4. Didn't feel like I needed it and I usually take my energy around mile 6 only, but I felt better taking it early on. I took my chocolate GU just before mile 9 and then after the finish took 1 pack of sport beans. 

It was around mile 9 that we returned to civilization as from mile 5 on, we'd pretty well been out on the beach road with no one else around except fellow runners, but somewhere around mile 10 or 11, we took a turn toward the bay and had more gorgeous scenery to run against.

I only started getting fatigued around mile 12, but with just 1.1 to go, I talked myself into pushing it to the end in hopes that I'd get there by 2:30 (I didn't). Pretty soon, my middle toe on my right foot was screaming at me and I had to pull off the course to adjust my shoe for the degree of swelling my foot was doing. Thankfully this quickly alleviated the problem or I'd have been walking the last 1.1 miles.

Overall, I finished around the 2:32 mark. My PB is 2:24 and that was in a practice run. I can't complain about my time at all given that I had to do some amount of walking in order to preserve my knee strength given the degree of runner's knee I've been experiencing lately. I am very, very pleased with my time. My GPS time was 2:28 and I hit 13.1 by GPS way before I even hit the 13 mile marker on the race course. This is supposed to be a certified course, so I am guessing my GPS was off, though strangely it had been exactly right until mile 8.

Once I crossed the finish line, I got my medal and downed a bottle of water. The medal is great! It's a bottle opener.

Unfortunately, we missed the after party at Flounders because my husband was very sick from a fish sandwich he'd eaten at Sidelines the night before. I headed back to the hotel to take a shower and we hit the long road home so he could go rest and be comfortable.

Overall, I can't say enough good things about this race! I had a blast running this route, enjoying the beautiful scenery, running through the hoses and sprinklers the residents of Pensacola Beach had set up between miles 10 and 12. I wouldn't hesitate to run this race again next year, except my experience with the spring breakers will probably keep me away. Miraculously, I'd run this race on 3 hours of broken sleep between the loud bar and the crazy drunk, obnoxious spring breakers. If it were earlier or later in the year, I would be back in a heartbeat. I only wish I'd discovered this race series back in January as I'd have loved to have ran the Gulf Shores race and the Mandeville race later in the year to go for the trifecta with a special race medal.

Split times:
1m: 10:38
2m: 11:54
3m: 11:59
4m 11:30
5m: 12:00
6m: 11:23
7m: 11:39
8m: 11:23
9m: 10:42
10m: 10:56
11m: 10:49
12m: 10:54
13m: 11:06

I ran this race in loving memory of my grandmother, who was taken from us 2 years ago on the date of this race, 4/7/11. 


Welcome to my little spot on the web.

I wanted to start a blog to chronicle my life - not that it's exceptionally interesting, but I want somewhere to post the good, the bad and the day to day that life gives us.

The name I've chosen for this collection of what will soon be short stories about my family's daily life is Will Run For Autism. There are two reasons I chose this name:
  • I like to run and my non-runner friends (read: all of my friends) get tired of hearing about it
  • My almost 5-year-old daughter has autism

About Me:
Well, I am really just me. If you were to label me, it would read something like: Thirty-something year-old mom to 4-year-old with autism, Wife to thirty-something year-old husband, Air Force wife, Work from home independent contractor who loves running, traveling, cooking, Mexican food, playing bunko and going to the beach. 

What you can expect to read from my blog:
Running and autism, obviously!

I took up running after my daughter was born to drop weight quickly. I decided it didn't suck as much as I thought I'd perceived it to all prior 20-some years of my life. Nearly 5 years later, I'm still running and only started recently increasing my distance, running in the Disney Princess Half Marathon this past February as well as yesterday, finishing the Pensacola Beach Half Marathon. I'm sure I'll be writing about my mileage, reviews on energy aids, struggles with runner's knee, my favorite shoes...basically, anything running related! 

My daughter was diagnosed with autism around age 2. She's high functioning, verbal and makes OK eye contact - to the point where people don't realize she's autistic. Guess the last 3 years of therapy have truly worked wonders. I plan to write about our triumphs and struggles as we continue on our autism journey along with her hilarious one-liners she sometimes has, like the time she informed us she had stuffed a bunny down her pants. (Don't ask - not yet. That's material for another post.)

I don't know how often I'll be updating this thing, but I would like to eventually get to where I'm posting short entries fairly regularly.

Never hesitate to ask me a question about anything. I am an open book and I especially love to chat about autism. When you've met one child with autism, you've met one child with autism. They are all different and I would love to learn more about your own experiences with spectrum children.