Ryan’s Run Tampa 2015 Race Recap

April 20, 2015

First off, happy Marathon Monday! I hope everyone running the Boston Marathon today has an amazing time, despite the forecasted rainy weather. It is still the best marathon I have ever had the opportunity to run and would definitely like to run again someday.

Local races can be some of the most fun, as well as some of the most surprising. I signed up for a 4 mile race, Ryan’s Run, which supports a scholarship fund for a former University of Tampa cross country and track runner who was killed 6 years ago. The university really rallies around the cause, which is an amazing thing to see.

Ryan's Run Tampa 2015_1

The race started and finished in Ybor City, which is only 10 minutes or so from where we live. Over 400 people signed up for the race, including many people running the 4×1 mile relay and the 2×2 mile relay. We all started the race together, so pacing was somewhat tough. With runners only running 1 to 2 miles, they really went out fast  I had no goal going into the race, other than knowing I wanted to push myself a bit. I haven’t ever run a 4 mile race. The only thing I could really relate this to was a 5k race, so I pretty much treated it as such.

Grant, Marcus, my dad, as well as two of our best friends, Chris and Allison came to the race too. Instead of running, they all opted for the 2 mile walk. They all completed their two miles while I was running my 4 miles.

The first mile went by crazy fast, and I crossed through around the 6:30 mark. I haven’t seen a mile in the 6’s for years and years, so I did get a little bit nervous. I didn’t think I’d be able to hold on to that pace for a heck of a lot longer. I was definitely right! Mile 2 creeped up fast as well, and when I looked down at my watch, I saw 6:57, which was much more in my comfort zone. Right after the 2 mile mark, I really started to feel the heat. The humidity is back in full force now in Florida, and the feels like temperature was well into the 80’s by then. It was a mental struggle for sure!

Ryan's Run Course Map

Mile 2-3 absolutely dragged on, and I really wanted to be done. Treating the race as a 5k came back to bite me here – because well, it wasn’t a 5k. That extra mile really made a difference! There were a couple of little out and backs on the course, so I was able to see the other runners coming up behind me. I knew I had to keep up my current pace if I wasn’t going to get passed on the last half a mile or so.

I was able to get through the last part of the race without being passed, and good thing! One of the race volunteers came up to me as soon as I finished to get my name, age and time. I won the race!

Ryan's Run Tampa 2015_2

I’m sure you are thinking I should have known that I was the first one to cross the line well before I actually did. With the relay race, there were a couple of other women who crossed first, and I really wasn’t sure which runner was running which race. I honestly thought I had come in 2nd, which was amazing too. But hey – 1st place is even better!

There was a great after party at a bar right down the street from the start and finish line. There was a decent breakfast, live band, and beer – lots of beer! I’ve never been one for post race beers, but there were plenty of people who were!

Ryan's Run Tampa 2015_3

Not too long after we finished eating, the awards ceremony started. I was called as the overall female winner and went to grab my award. Grant was nice enough to assist me with getting my award, and he did an amazing job! Batons were given out as the top prizes. The person who the run is in memory of, Ryan, was on the relay team when he ran for the University of Tampa. This is definitely one of the coolest awards I’ve ever received from a race!

Ryan's Run Tampa 2015_4

Ryan's Run Tampa 2015_7

 

The race was a great way to start the weekend and I really enjoyed running a distance I am not usually accustomed to racing. Thanks for a great race – I’ll be sure to be back next year!

Ryan's Run Tampa 2015_5

 

Ryan's Run Tampa 2015_6

Orlando Marriott World Center’s Running Track

April 13, 2015
Marriott World Center Running Trail

Marcus and I have always made it a point to get out-of-town for our anniversary. Since it lands in March, we pushed back our celebration a few months last year and went out of town in July, given Grant was still a newborn. This year, we went ahead and celebrated a month after our actual anniversary in favor of warmer weather, perfectly suited for pool side relaxation!

We ended up in Orlando at the Marriott World Center. It is an amazing, resort style hotel with absolutely everything you could need. There really is no reason to even leave the hotel grounds since everything is on site – Starbucks, multiple different restaurants, a golf course, a spa, a ridiculous pool (with slides!), and of course, an awesome fitness center.

Aside from having one of the largest hotel fitness centers of any hotel I’ve stayed in, they also have a track that runs around the perimeter of the property (not including the golf course). I woke up Saturday morning and asked the concierge if he knew of a good place to run, and he pointed me to the track. It is a 1.5 mile loop, taking you throughout all parts of the resort. Per the concierge’s directions, I quickly found the beginning of the trail, and I was on my way!

Marriott World Center Running Trail

 

I’ve probably stayed at 5 or 6 different hotels with distinct places for runners to get in a safe run, and I was definitely the most impressed with the Marriott’s attention to detail. Every quarter-mile, there was a mile marker so there was no question as to how far you had gone (I am pretty certain the last one was a bit off though!). There was also no guessing as to where the trail was. If there was a break in the sidewalk, there was always a sign to direct the runner, or even a mark on the pavement.

Marriott World Center Running Trail 2

 

I thought I was going to get bored, given the distance was only 1.5 miles around, but it was actually perfect. Just long enough so you are not having to loop 5 or 6 times, but also short enough so you can easily get back to your room if needed. If you needed to, you could stop at any point and have direct access to get back into the hotel, which I thought was great. I will say, the only downer was there were no water fountains directly on the trail. You could access a fountain by going into the lobby or over by the pool since the trail goes by both places. However, it think it would be a nice addition to put something directly on the trail for those running.

Marriott World Center Running Trail 3

 

I ended up running a total of 5 miles on the track and it went by in a flash! There was plenty to look at and the best part – it was extremely safe. There were no busy roads to cross and I never felt like I was coming up on any sort of area that was secluded or desolate.

After getting in my run, we ate breakfast, grabbed some coffee, and headed to the pool! All we really wanted out of the weekend was relaxation, and a day at the pool was the perfect prescription. Rain was forecasted for the afternoon, but the morning was perfect! We ended up hanging by the pool for 5 hours, which for me, is kind of crazy. We were right next to a big umbrella, so as soon as an hour went by, up it went!

Marriott World Center PoolI’m so thankful to have a place like Orlando so close to home. It’s just far enough to get out of Tampa, but close enough to get back to Grant in no time. Since Marcus and I both went to college in Orlando at UCF, it feels more like a staycation when we go back there. Usually, we don’t end up at Disney and just keep it low key – its a win win!

 

The Florida Aquarium Splash Park

April 9, 2015

There are so many activities to do with a baby, it really is hard to even think of where to start. When we got to looking into what things we wanted to take Grant to, we noticed a pretty common theme. It makes far more sense to get a year pass to most places than to just pay for a day. For a lot of fun activities, going just 2-3 times pays for an entire year’s worth of admission! It’s a pretty easy decision to me!

My sister gifted Grant a pass to the aquarium for his birthday (well she really gifted it to us since Grant gets in for free!) so we went and took advantage of it last weekend. He loves seeing the fish and the other animals. Lucky for us, there were some extra special animals in the tanks on Sunday since it was Easter.

Grant Aquarium Splash Park

Not many people can say they played peek-a-boo with an underwater Easter bunny! Or get wished a Happy Easter by a festive carrot ;)

Grant Aquarium Splash Park

The Florida Aquarium, located here in Tampa, also has an amazing splash park! The last time we were at the aquarium, we didn’t bring Grant’s bathing suit. This time, we came prepared!

Grant Aquarium Splash Park

 

Grant Aquarium Splash Park

This was the first time he had ever been in fountains and it was such a big hit!

Grant Aquarium Splash Park

He loved watching the other kids run around. I’m pretty sure Grant would have stayed and played in the water all day if we would have let him.

Grant Aquarium Splash ParkI have a feeling this just one of many, many times Grant spends a Saturday afternoon in the fountains at the aquarium!

Grant Aquarium Splash Park

 

396 Days

April 2, 2015

Back when I was pregnant with Grant, I set a goal to breastfeed for a year. Based upon what I’ve read, this is an ideal amount of time for baby and benefits so many different things for their well being. I worked extremely hard in the beginning to have this relationship with Grant, so I don’t take it likely. I used nipple shields, had to pump to keep my supply up – ya know, the fun stuff. I remember a time when he was 6 weeks old and all I could think of was “I’ll never make it to 6 months breastfeeding, let alone a year!”. Well, Grant and I figured it out and we really got into our groove.   When I went back to work when Grant was 7 weeks old, I had to pump while I was there to be able to produce enough for Grant’s needs. I toted that pump to work every single day for months upon months upon months. I kept a schedule of pumping every 3 hours while I was at the office, which was usually around 3 times a day. We don’t have a mother’s room where I work, but we do have a closet with a sink inside, so I actually had a private place to go to. Not having to pump in a shared bathroom was very nice.  

6 weeks turned into 3 months – then 6 months, then 9, and then 12 months showed up in the blink of an eye it seemed. Grant woke up on the day of his 1st birthday and decided he no longer wanted to nurse, so we went with it. I pumped for a few days after and realized I’d had enough. He was done with it, so I was too. 

I’ve spent the last month weaning myself off of breastfeeding. As hard as I worked to keep up my milk supply, I would have died if I just stopped cold turkey. Engorgement is real ya’ll! It’s extremely uncomfortable! I went from reducing the time I actually spent pumping to reducing the number of sessions per day. I got to the point where I was pumping just once a day, for about 2.5 minutes, just to take off the pressure. From there, I was able to cut it out completely.

I think Grant easily has 1-2 months of milk left in our freezer stash, so he will be able to reap the benefits for a little bit longer.

 I made it to 396 days of exclusively breastfeeding or pumping for Grant, and couldn’t be more thrilled. I know how hard it can be to keep this up for some mom’s, and I am very thankful we were able to. A little part of me is sad to see this time go, because it really is a special bond Grant and I formed. The other part of me is pretty happy to no longer have to tote a pump to work, hang out in a closet far too often, and live my life in 3 hour increments :)

396 days of breastfeeding or pumping – wow! We made it!

The Best Yoga Studios in Tampa

March 24, 2015

Finding an amazing yoga studio is tough – super tough! Luckily, in Tampa we have a pretty good selection of classes and studios to choose from. Here’s a quick list of a few yoga studios I really enjoying going to

1. Bella Prana Yoga

Bella Prana is without a doubt my favorite place to practice yoga. The owner (and best teacher) of the studio is absolutely fantastic. She only leads a few classes a week, so they are always jam packed. If you can get there a few minutes early to get a spot, it is well worth it. She has a powerful being about the way she leads a class, and makes the 75 minutes absolutely fly by. The studio itself is really bright, clean and crisp. That is probably my favorite part about it. I just love it there. I was able to get into a lot of prenatal yoga at Bella Prana before Grant was born. It was just a great experience and I would love to get back there when we decide to expand our family.

Evolation Yoga 4

2. Yogani

A lot of the same instructors who teach at Bella Prana also teach at Yogani. I’m not as much of a fan of the inside of the studio – it is a lot darker and doesn’t have the crisp feeling. More so of a darker, more serene feel. The classes are still great and I’ve always enjoyed the time I’ve been able to spend practicing there. Yogani is actually where I took a birth class before Grant was born. It was extremely informative and I learned so much. They offer a lot of different workshops and ways to further your physical and spiritual being.

3. Evolation

I found Evolation kind of by accident. I had a Groupon come into my inbox for 30 days of unlimited yoga, so I figured I would go ahead and give it a shot. I think I got in 5-6 classes in that month and really enjoyed the classes and the environment. They have Bikram at Evolation, which a lot of studios do not have. They also have a lot of other classes too – flow, hot yoga, etc. Plenty of options for just about anyone!

Evolation Yoga 2

4. Yoga in the Park

So this isn’t as much of a studio as more of just a class/experience, but every Sunday night, there is a donations based yoga class in downtown Tampa. It is sponsored by Yoga Downtown Tampa and has an amazing following. On any given Sunday night, you will find a couple of hundred people, stretching out their yoga mats on the grass, enjoying an hour of yoga. I don’t get there nearly as often as I would like, but I can’t write this post and not mention Yoga in the Park.

5. Lululemon 

This is another class, rather than a studio. Lululemon hosts a free yoga class each Sunday morning, taught by an instructor from the community. You can have 10-15 people taking class with you, or more like 45 people in class. It all depends on the instructor and their following. I like being exposed to instructors I wouldn’t normally have the chance to take a class from – ones from other studios or those who teach classes at times I am not able to attend. Lululemon also hosts workshops every once in a while too, which is also a fun way to learn new things!

Lululemon Yoga

Ever since having Grant, yoga practice at studios has gone pretty quickly to the wayside. I would really like to make time to get back into a yoga class – maybe once a week, or even a couple of times per month. I just need to get back out there!