Tag Archives: family

What Running Gave Me in 2018

I’m not an emotional person.  However, as my husband broke off from me for the last two miles of the Charlotte half marathon, I found myself starting to tear up.  As I crossed the finish line, I cried.  I have run a few half marathons.  I have even run a marathon.  What made this race different?  A lot of things.  Mostly being the impact my children have had on my life.  Being a good mom, a mom my kids are proud of, ensures a different level of love that will always be in my life.

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When I saw the Charlotte Marathon was looking for ambassadors to represent the city’s race, I felt a calling.  This was something I wanted to be a part of.  I have preached that I am someone who keeps a very diverse training plan.  I am ready to do all types of things during any given week – ride an indoor bike, do an obstacle course race, crush a 5k or finish the competitive wave of beers and burpees.  How could I challenge those who considered themselves “non-runners” to get off a bike, treadmill or out of a crossfit studio to support this event?  I kept my same training regimen and showed up week in and week out at several local running races.

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I ran some of the fastest races of my life.  Will I remember that? Sure.  However, what  I will remember most about running all these races, rather participating in all of these fitness events, is the community. It gave me inclusion.  Access to a new group of inspiring friends that showed me a whole new side of Charlotte.

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Let’s talk race day.  I had been sick for several days leading up to the Saturday race.  I spent most of Thursday and Friday laying on the couch with a low grade fever.  I didn’t intend to dwell on it, which is why most people didn’t even know I was feeling under the weather as race day approached.  I woke up Saturday with the intention that I would run my half marathon without music, without expectation and with the intention of seeing my city.

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I parked in a parking deck that I didn’t plan to park in due to road closures.  I wore shorts based on advice from my husband and other ambassadors and I did less than a half mile warm up.  Nothing went as planned.  I met fellow Flywheel instructor, Abbie Cooper, and the Charlotte Marathon ambassadors at the finish line to take some pre-race pictures.

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Whatever nerves I may have had were released through the ambassador’s version of a 90’s boy band photo op and a short jog over to the start line where I met fellow FiA (Females in Action) friends for a group picture.  I had every intention of starting with the 8:00 min/mile pacer, until I couldn’t find him.  That’s where I was supposed to meet Abbie too.  Couldn’t find her either.

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I did find Katie Gregory (another Charlotte Marathon Ambassador).  We had already talked about trying to run a majority of the race together, so I felt good about having someone who I knew wanted to run an 8:00 min/mile pace near me.  As quick as the national anthem was played, the race started.  We walked across the start line.  There were a TON of people.  The first mile was slow.  Over the course of the mile, Katie and I picked up Alejandro (another Charlotte Marathon Ambassador).  He was running the full marathon, with a goal of sub 3:30.  GREAT.  Someone else who would pace with us.

The energy at the start of the race was fire.  Katie, Alejandro and I chatted, said hello to friends and before we knew it we were done with the first mile (8:10 pace).  Shoutout to all my FiAs we touched that first mile (Lindsey, Natalie, Katharine).  Katie and I joked about giving and getting high fives.  I ran past a group of police officers running down fourth and high fived each one of them.  It was after the first mile that we also passed a man who eventually completed the half with crutches.  SO inspiring.  There truly are no excuses.

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Somewhere in between the transition from mile 2-3, we lost Katie.  Alejandro and I chatted as we rolled down Randolph at the Colville intersection where I saw Shane.  Shane.  His smile so big, his arms extended up in the air, his voice echoing from 100m away.  He jumped in with us.  He documented on Instagram.  He entertained us.  These are the moments you will never know unless you run without music and technology.  Shane followed my pace as we ran with a man wearing American flag running shorts and a camelback.  He typically doesn’t do races on the road, but rather on the trails. We made the turn on to Providence in the midst of a huge crowd of runners (the first relay exchange zone).

We talked about how I was now in my home.  My neighborhood.  The roads that I knew and had trained well on.  We crushed the hills.  I took my first water.  I ran into so many people on this stretch.  Mary Merlin and her jogging stroller, a former co-worker Danny Weiland (I know his wife, Allison, was out there running) and the Lululemon crew! (Lynn and Allyson).

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Before we knew it, we were on to mile 6.  A steady downhill in which I saw my husband all geared up on the side of the road.  I yelled, “HUBS” and the man beside me looked over and said “huh?”.  I said again, “HUBS”.  He jumped in with Shane and I.  It was at that point that we made one of the most important turns of the day.  Queen Road West.  I knew I would see my kids. The most important people out on the course that day.

Y’all Queens Road West was MAGIC.  There were people lining both sides of the street.  Cow bells. Posters.  Cheers.  I saw my girls and ran by giving high fives and smiles.  I was proud of them as I hoped they were proud of me.  Thank you to all my friends and neighbors that we passed through this stretch.   Kelsey, Shelby, Cody.  The FiA station at the bottom of the hill.  If I didn’t say something or wave, it’s because I didn’t see you.  For that I apologize.  I am truly grateful for the warm showing of people out to support the every day runner.  Shane dropped us at this point, and the hubs (Jeff) took the task of leading me to the 10 mile marker.

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I took my first Gu pack as we cruised down Queens. I actually stopped to walk to make sure I got everything in and drank enough water too.  We picked things back up at a quicker pace as such I wouldn’t lose time.  That’s when we got in a fight.  As we cruised down Kings Drive, I told my husband I wanted to slow down to conserve energy for the big hill coming (Morehead).  He offered his advice, which I did not agree with and we stopped talking.  Sometimes big mama needs a time out.

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So I took one.  As I ran straight up Morehead with a chip on my shoulder, I saw one person standing at the top of the hill out cheering people on.  Allison.  She has been riding with me for over four years at Flywheel.  Allison has been through so much in the past year.  I can’t begin to explain to you how special it was for me to hear her yell, “Let’s go Jen” as I pushed to the top.  Just months ago this girl was admitted to the ER for blood clots in her lungs (from birth control, nonetheless).  She and her doctors attribute her ability to survive at her state to her level of fitness.  Read that again.  Her ability to survive.  Allison, thank you for being my inspiration.

We hit Latta park and found the people.  Charlotte Running Company had a set up.  We ran by the Fillnows.  As we passed the Charlotte Hornets painted basketball court in the park, we ran by Jeff’s friend, Scott Williams and his two boys.  He was as surprised to see us as we were to see him.  I walked through yet another water station before I headed to the home stretch.

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As we approached the point of the race that I knew Jeff would drop me to meet me at the finish line, he said to me “Jennifer, your girls were so excited to come cheer for you this morning.  They are proud of you.”  Mind you, we hadn’t said much since I got mad at him on Kings.  I didn’t say much, but I heard him.  I told him that.  I was listening.  So he kept talking to me.  This is why I love this man so much.

We split as I headed to SouthEnd and he headed uptown. By myself.  I had run the entire race with someone else.  I was finally alone.  Fatigue was setting in.  I was no longer distracted by someone  or something else.  I got sad.  Ha. Weird.  I felt like I was going to cry.  People say running is mental.  I kept trying to figure out why I was getting sad.  I was so close to the finish line.  I saw Scott Williams and his two boys again and I was reminded to embrace the experience and just have fun.

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I cruised by the turn into Panthers stadium fulfilled and slow moving, also alone.  I felt emotional again.  This whole season.  This whole experience.  It was almost over.  I wasn’t ready for it.  It was in these last moments that everything came full circle.  Abbie pulled up beside me and said, “Let’s go girl.  WE got this.” WE.  She didn’t say you.  She said we.  We, two moms, would finish together.  Not out to beat each other.  Not worried about time.  Just there to support each other as we finished.  This amazing feeling swept over me.  The end.  End of an incredible season.  End of this race I had been training for for what seemed like forever.  Regardless of time, I felt so loved as I crossed the finish line.  No matter how fast or slow I ran, I felt loved.  What a feeling.  Running gave me that.

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Don’t get me wrong, I feel loved by the ones who love me, but being a mom is hard.  There are a lot of days that go by unappreciated (especially with kids my age).  At my job in corporate America it was often that I was rewarded and recognized for my hard work.  The days are few and far between in my line of work these days.  My kids (and most people) don’t see me working during the hours they are sleeping.  Moving my whole day around to spend a little bit of extra time doing something for someone else.  Working out on a full stomach, when I’m run down or when I really just don’t feel like it.

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To Abbie.  To my moms and dads that work day in and day out.  To my friends and family who made me feel loved on this day.  I’m proud.  Proud of you.  Aim High.  Dream Big. Never settle.

Week 28 – Round 3

Size of Baby (per “What To Expect”) – Size of a cucumber. Approximately 2.5 pounds.

Weight Gain – 19 pounds.  I can legitimately tell when the baby goes through a growth spurt.  A few things happen in no order:  her movements slow down, I eat more, and I am more tired.  By the time my energy level resumes, my belly is bigger and my weight has gone up.  Do a happy dance!

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Movement – After a few days of less movement, things picked up drastically over the weekend.  Rolls rather than punches.  Even the girls can feel the baby move at this point. They often ask to touch my belly to feel the baby move.  Too bad I can’t get her to do it on command.

Sleep – I don’t want to speak too soon, but I think I have finally beat my sinus infection.  After a whopping TEN days on an antibiotic, the pain in my face has subsided enough that I am no longer taking Tylenol for relief.  Hence, this has made sleeping much easier over the past week.

What I miss –  Gosh, not much!  I’m savoring the last few weeks of my last pregnancy.

Best Moments this Week – Memorial Day festivities.  I am so thankful for those who sacrificed their lives to protect the incredible country that I live in.  While we didn’t have any big plans for the weekend, we did end up staying busy each day.

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We had been to a crawfish boil before, but we had never been to a shrimp boil.  Saturday evening we joined some of my favorite Flywheel riders for our first shrimp boil.  We were unprepared for how incredible the food would taste.  My husband ended up eating more than his fair share of the delicious main course while the girls wore themselves out jumping up and down in the bouncy house.  We left with full hearts and full bellies before crashing once we got home.

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Memorial Day weekend is a huge travel weekend for many of our Charlotte friends.  Since we had gone on our own vacation the week before, we felt no pressure to get out of dodge.  That said, after Flywheel and a family breakfast Sunday morning, we hit the pool for our first swim session of the summer season.

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It used to be a process to get the girls to stay at the pool for an hour before they were overheated and ready to go home.  That phase has passed.  We can now spend at least 2-3 hours at the pool before I have to suggest we take a break.  Our youngest is the water bug.  She has caught on to using her legs and arms to maneuver around the pool and has no fear.  Let’s just say you have to keep an eye on her!

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After two days of serious outdoor activities, we were sure the girls might hit the wall and take a nap for us on Monday.  Nope.  We had tickets to the Memorial Day Charlotte Knights minor league baseball game from a prior game rain cancellation that we opted to use.   Start time was 2:05PM.  We had tickets in a section that was situated in the scorching sun.  While an usher in a shaded section helped someone to their seats, we took the initiative to sneak into some seats that were in that section.

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The biggest highlights of the two and half innings that we made it through?  The team store (we bought a girl’s soft bat and ball), Dippin Dots in the team replica hat and Homer the mascot.  After an hour and a half, we trekked back to the car with tomato faces.  It’s the effort that counts.  They enjoyed it while it lasted.

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Looking forward to –  SUMMER! School is officially out.  We celebrated on the last day with the rest of my daughter’s classmates toasting to ice cream sandwiches on the playground.  I have taken the initiative to sign the girls up for some activities that they can participate in together this summer (as I anticipate I will experience some fatigue as the third trimester sets in).  IMG_5166

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Gosh, ever since we got back from the beach my girls seem to have reached a new level of friendship.  The conversations that they have together are literally priceless.  The pictures don’t do justice how much they love (and hate) each other at times!

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Cravings – Any and all food.  As I said before, any time the baby is growing I feel my appetite increase.  I feel like I was hungry all day every day this week.  With decreasing space for my stomach, I also walk a fine line of what is enough and what is too much.

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Symptoms – Pregnancy literally goes to my head.  In ALL of my pregnancies, I have experienced significant symptoms in and around my face.  The most common?  Pregnancy congestion and sinus issues.  Next up?  Gingivitis and teeth pain.  The only time I ever use a Netti pot or feel the need to constantly be cleaning my teeth is when I am pregnant.

Workouts – After an incredible week at the beach (and some much needed time off), I was back on my full group and personal training schedule this week.  On the days that I feel the most tired, forcing myself to get a workout in tends to make me feel better.  Routine and consistency are everything to me.

  • Monday – I taught my regular 6:30 AM Flywheel class.
  • Tuesday – See my garage strength workout below.  Later in the afternoon, I taught my regular 3:30 PM Flywheel class.
    • Warm up (2 Rounds)
      • Row 2 minutes
      • Curtsy Lunge with Band Extension x 15 each side
      • Dead hang 45 seconds
      • Miniband around thighs walk sideways 10 steps, 10 front raises each direction x 3 rounds
      • Deadlift x 15
    • Strength Circuit (3 Rounds)
      • KB Swing to OH Press x 10 each side
      • Pull up x 10
      • TRX Squat x 25
      • Pushup to Tricep Dip pass through x 10 each
  • Wednesday – EASY DAY!  Run/walk through neighborhood for 30 minutes (I accumulated approximately 2.5 miles).  At a training session with my group later that evening, I also got some hang time in at the bouldering wall.  Here is great drill to try for grip strength:  Hang 10 seconds, 1 Pull Up.  Do that as many times as you can before dropping.  Move your hands if you can!

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  • Thursday – Most of my run group was out of town or busy (except for my girl Cara!).  I reassured her that it would be okay for her to push pace ahead of me, but she insisted on staying with me as long as I was actually running.  Thank you for that.  I made it about halfway before I started walking on the recoveries.
    • 800m warmup jog
      • 6 Rounds (2:00 on, 1:00 off, 1:00 on, :30 off, :30 on, :30 off)
    • 800m cool down

I accumulated approximately 4 miles before heading home to get my kids up and moving.  We spent the morning at Chuck E Cheese before I headed to Flywheel to teach my 3:30 PM class.

  • Friday – Sleep in.  Check.  With both kids out of school, I did my workout in the garage at lunch as my oldest ran around me practicing her own exercises. See strength work below:
    • Warm up (2 Rounds)
      • Jump Rope 2 minutes
      • Turkish Get Up x 5 each side
      • 15 Scapular Push Ups
      • 15 TRX Lunges each leg
    • 11’s workout
      • Perform 10 Pull ups, 1 Pushup
      • Next 9 Pull ups, 2 Pushups
      • Etc., until you reach 1 Pullup, 10 Pushups
    • Basic Strength Work (3 Rounds)
      • 15 KB Swings
      • 15 KB Overhead Press each side
      • 15 Side Raises KB
      • 15 Single Leg Squat TRX each
  • Saturday – 30 minute WALK around the block!  Two miles is all I had time for.
  • Sunday – Double time baby!  I taught the 7:30/8:30AM Flywheel class.  I have to admit this will be the last time that I teach back to back Flywheel classes with no break until the baby is born.  Mama needs time to hydrate and rest before jumping back on for round two!

Week 17 – Round 3

Size of Baby (per “What To Expect”) – Size of the palm of your hand (approximately 3-5 ounces)

Weight Gain – 10 Pounds – Holding steady at about a pound a week in the second trimester.

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Movement –Starting to feel little kicks very low in my belly.  I typically feel nothing when I am on my feet moving around with the kids/working out.  It is when I finally sit down at night that I feel something.  My one cup of a coffee a day doesn’t even get her moving.

Sleep – Sleeping great these days.  I am less restless and sleeping through the night.  My parents offered to have the girls over for a “sleepover” this week, so we jumped at the chance to have a parents night in.

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The girls took ownership in packing for their trip up the road.  While the picture above may seem like a lot of stuff, there was actually more.  I thought they would miss me, but I missed them more.  We didn’t hear from them all night.

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We haven’t had a date night in a few weeks, so we bounced around a few places (while I enjoyed “mocktails”) before joining friends for dinner at Block & Grinder.  We were still in bed by 10PM.

What I miss – It’s funny because I looked back at what I said week 17 in my second pregnancy, and I feel exactly the same.  The answer?  I don’t miss much.  Right now, I am enjoying the second trimester energy surge and the fact that this will be my last time experiencing a baby growing in my belly.

Best Moments this Week – I would say date night in, but I have already talked about that.  In all seriousness, spending quality time with my girls has been the best part of the week.  They were out of school on Tuesday because of a teacher workday.  Lucky for us, the weather was nice, and some of the other parents had coordinated playdates for the week.

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Realizing my time with just the two of them is getting shorter, I am trying to get them out of the house (either together or by themselves) and excited about doing something with their mom.  If something fun comes up, I work to be unselfish with my own time to let them have time with me to themselves.  Even if that means my youngest daughter asks me to take her to the playground at Chicfila for lunch at 10:30 AM.

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Cravings – I am finally starting to enjoy eating healthy foods again.  I am craving less salty, high fat foods and more fruits and vegetables.  I opted to eat a salad several days this week.  Bring on the veggies!  The picture below is a salad from Johnny Burrito.  If you haven’t made it over there, you are missing out.

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Symptoms – Whatever took over my hands last week is gone and hasn’t come back since.  No real symptoms other than a bigger stomach.  I haven’t started wearing maternity pants yet.  However, my wardrobe most often revolves around elastic waistband athletic pants.

Workouts –To be honest, I am feeling stronger than ever.  My OB/GYN rode in my Thursday Flywheel class, so I had time to catch up with her outside of the office.  Having a relationship with her like this has made all three of my pregnancies significantly less stressful.  She encourages my workouts and supports all FOUR Flywheel instructors who are pregnant at this moment in time.  That’s right, I said FOUR.

  • Monday – 6:30 AM Flywheel – I just taught my class.  I have also been volunteer coaching pole vault in the afternoon at Myers Park High School.  I consider all of the walking around that I do in the track area a workout.

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  • Tuesday – Knowing the girls had a teacher workday and I would not get any time to squeeze in a workout, I woke up early to do a garage workout before my husband left for work.
    • 15 minute warm up Run
    • 2 Rounds
      • Bosu knee to chest crunch, raise legs over hurdles x 8 each side (HARD)
      • Bosu Burpee x 10
      • Ape Crawl x 25 yards (this will be the last week I can do this, belly is too big)
      • Glute Bridge, heels in TRX, mini band around thighs x25
    • 2 Rounds
      • Side Knee to Elbow on Bosu x 25 each
      • Lunge on Bosu with Bicep Curl x 10 each
      • Leg Raise with Flex Arm Hang on Gymnastics Rings x 10
      • TRX row x 15
    • 2 Rounds
      • Side Step Up x 10
      • Ab Mat Sit Up x 25
      • Pull Up x 10
      • Overhead Press x 15

*Let’s talk about the fact that I am still doing straight leg toes to bar.  My doctor was surprised I could still do these (not in a bad way, but she is interested to see how much longer I can do them).  That said, I will attempt to continue to do them before modifying by doing knees to elbow.

  • Wednesday – While I have energy, I have been trying to keep my strength work consistent.  I did a shorter workout Wednesday that embodied aspects of obstacle race training.
    • 2 Rounds
      • Run 800m easy
      • Marching crunch on Bosu x 25 each
      • Pushup with one arm roll out x 10 each side
      • Elastic Band Upright Row with shoulder rotation to overhead press x 10 (HARD, but great for shoulder mobility)
      • Miliband around thighs, side walk x 15 each leg x 3 rounds
    • 4 Rounds
      • Run 400m
      • 15 Pushups
      • 5 Pull Ups
      • 25 Squats
      • 5 Pull Ups
      • 15 Pushups
  • Thursday – I ran an early morning workout with my run group before teaching Flywheel at 3:30.

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*Let’s talk about my run intensity on the one day I do interval training a week.  The workout that the group did was as follows:

  • 1.5 mile warm up
  • 5 Rounds – Run 1000m, recover 400m

I only did 4 rounds, and my pace was somewhat consistent outside of the first round.  If you look at line 3, 5, 8, and 10, you can see my 1000m breaks.  I averaged about an 8:00/mile pace when I was on.  When I was recovering, I was closer to a 10:00 mile.  That said, prior to getting pregnant, my average interval pace would have been somewhere around 6:45-7:00 pace.  I am dropping anywhere between a minute to a minute and a half of speed when I am on.  I am totally okay with this.  I am also totally okay with being done when I feel like being done (which on this day was before everyone else).  I feel excited about the fact that I am just outside being active.

  • Friday – After a long week, I spent some time playing around in the garage, but not doing a structured workout.  I did end up seeing how many pull ups I could do.  Somehow I managed to do 12.  I am shocked I still have the ability to pull up the additional weight that many times.
  • Saturday – For two weeks in a row, I have gotten up early to get a “longish” run in before the kids wake up.  On these days, my goal is to run easy.  That said, I try to keep my heart rate in the 140s, leaving my pace somewhere in the 9:30/10:00 mile range.  On this day, I squeeze in 4.78 mile at  9:41 pace.

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I went on to train my obstacle training group later that morning – this time only watching people workout and not actually doing a workout myself.  The first Charlotte Spartan Race is coming up in less than 4 weeks!

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  • Sunday – I taught my regular 7:30 AM Flywheel class, which was rough with the time change!

 

 

 

Fourth of July Family Time

On Saturday and Sunday it worked out such that I got to spend quality, one on one time with each of my immediate family members before they headed out of town.  A lot of things in my life have changed since having a baby, but I would say one of the more positive changes is that every day I feel like my relationships with my family get stronger.  Something about seeing the world again through the eyes of my daughter helps me appreciate each and every moment that I have with my loved ones.

photo-34My sister and I walked over to Freedom Park with my mom on Saturday afternoon.   We rolled out a blanket and let my daughter play while we chatted and enjoyed the weather.  So much for that humid, unbearable Charlotte heat.  We sat comfortably outside for almost an hour.

photo 1-91My daughter clearly adores my sister.   When the two of them laugh simultaneously you can feel the happiness bounce back and forth between them.  You wouldn’t be able to tell in the picture that my daughter was not feeling well.photo 2-91My workouts over the weekend were strictly teaching Flywheel and walking.  Sunday morning was the perfect end to a great weekend at the studio.  Since my dad was in town, he came over and watched my daughter so that my husband could come and ride.  Speaking of my dad, we snuck out for a father-daughter dinner Sunday night.

DSC00930Since I was a senior in college, each year, we have planned a father-daughter vacation.  Typically it is a long weekend.  The picture above is from a trip that we took to Nebraska for a Virginia Tech football game.  Other stops on our trips have included: San Francisco, Montreal, Boston and Chicago.  I bring this up because we haven’t been on a trip since I got pregnant.  Not because we can’t go, but over the past two years things have just evolved such that we have more time to get together all year long (we don’t have to “catch up” over a trip).

photo 3-76For dinner, we ended up at a neighborhood favorite, Nolen Kitchen. Two hours sure does go by fast.  I ordered the salmon entree (only after we indulged on some of the house special zucchini chips).  As usual, my meal was delicious, timely and very filing. I am already looking forward to going back.