5 Januarys of A Balancing Act’s Past

This year I am celebrating so much. There are so many changes happening in my life! I somehow missed my 4th blogiversary earlier this month! And by somehow, I mean, let’s just blame it on pregnancy brain and exhaustion. To mark my 5th year of blogging and all the changes in my life, I want to take a look back each month over the last five years and see just how life has changed! What was happening in my life then? When was important or exciting to me? Let’s see!!!

January 2011
We moved from Houston to Pittsburgh just after New Years in 2011. I started this blog as a way to journal life away from home for me and for family and friends. Over the year it turned into so much more! After a week of being in Pittsburgh we had lived in a hotel, moved into our town home and adopted our little Miss Maggie! It’s crazy that we’ve had her for 4 years and hard to imagine life without her.

January 2012
We bought our very first home together! We moved back from Pittsburgh at the end of December, but we weren’t able to close on our house or move in until January.  This January was spent getting settled, unpacked and reacquainting ourselves with home.

January 2013
This year marked another first for me…I ran my first full marathon! After countless runs, hundreds of hours running, dozens of really early Saturday mornings, a few blisters and a lot of commitment, I ran 26.2 miles in 4:01:51. This is still one of my proudest accomplishments to date!

January 2014
This year I ran another marathon in 4:03:39! But I also co-hosted a baby shower for one of my oldest and best friends, Nicole! We’ve been friends since middle school. We roomed together for 2 years in college. We were in each other’s weddings. And now we were able to celebrate the coming of her little girl, Penelope!

January 2015
It’s safe to say that this January’s most exciting moment was announcing to the world that we are expecting after running the Aramco Houston Half Marathon! Not only was I able to run, I was able to finish a half marathon in 2:05:00 at the end of my first trimester! This is just the beginning of my crazy 2015 and I can’t wait!

5 years and so many huge life events in just one month. I can’t wait to look back at the end of each month and see what was happening over the past five years. Such a beautiful life we live. I know not everything was peachy and there were always ups and downs, but clearly the ups outweighed the downs. Here’s to hoping that’s how life continues!

Have a wonderful Superbowl weekend y’all! Be safe and have fun!

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Weekend Rewind + Running in Your First Trimester

Is it Wednesday already? Oooops, Monday and Tuesday slipped by me. Mondays completely exhaust me, so apparently instead of writing in my little space, I opted for laying around on the couch after work. And then did the same thing on Tuesday. I’m still waiting for this magical energy that people say comes in the second trimester. I will welcome it with open arms! This past weekend was gorgeous in Houston, so JP and I were sure to take advantage of the beautiful weather.

Friday we…

  • watched some Game of Thrones {it was cold and windy on Friday!} We’re almost caught up!
  • went to dinner at Russo’s for pizza with my friends from work.
  • saw American Sniper at the Sundance Theatre downtown. Such an awesome movie and I’ve never been in a theatre that was so quiet after a movie.

Saturday we…

  • took the pups on a morning stroll around the neighborhood.
  • ran some errands. I got my costume supplies for this year’s Disney Princess Weekend!
  • walked the dogs to the brand new dog park on Buffalo Bayou in Montrose! It just opened on marathon weekend, and the pup approve. There is a huge pool, tons of room to run and a separate area for big and small dogs.
  • went to dinner at Babba Yega’s with JP’s mom, aunt and uncle. Followed by some ice cream from Marble Slab per Baby G’s request. Baby G gets what Baby G wants!

Sunday we…

  • ran 4 miles around Buffalo Bayou. Beautiful morning for running. I woke up and was feeling it finally!
  • had a lazy, carefree morning.
  • ventured out to Memorial City Mall to pick up a few necessities.
  • spent the rest of the evening with crazy bad allergies! Boo crazy Houston weather. The highs and lows, crazy rain and weather all over the place gets me from time to time!
  • cooked a delicious spaghetti squash bolognaise for dinner.

Now I thought I’d touch on running and running through my first trimester of pregnancy. Let’s just start with this, it wasn’t easy. At all. I’ll break it down by month, how it effected me, what I tried to overcome it and tips if I have any! **Remember: Every woman is different. Listen to your doctor and more importantly, listen to your body. I just hope that I can inspire other runner-moms-to-be to be strong and know they’re not alone!

Weeks 1-4 (end of October-November)
I didn’t even know I was pregnant of course! I felt fine and dandy through pretty much the whole month without a hitch. No morning sickness, no tenderness, so I just kept doing my thing. I ran a half marathon at the end of October, though I wasn’t technically pregnant yet. That race kept me on my schedule through November.

Weeks 5-8 (end of November-December)
I ran the BCS Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning with JP and averaged an 8:12 pace which is a pretty solid pace for me and short distances. At this point, I noticed that I was more tired in the mornings, but I still didn’t know I was pregnant…until 2 days later.

After I found out, I was able to get in another 8 miler before the morning sickness kicked in. I was lucky to not have severe morning sickness, but I did deal with unbearable nausea for several weeks. I found that running later in the day helped, but for the most part, my body wasn’t able to handle much exercise outside of my normal work duties. During this time, I pretty much stopped running long distances. I took a break from my weekend runs and did what my body needed me to do which was sleep in as late as possible and rest! As an active woman and avid runner training for a race, this killed me, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I’m proud of myself for actually listening.

Weeks 9-12 (end of December-January)
At this point, I wasn’t better, but I was able to get a few more runs in. I was keeping up with my weekday runs on Tuesday and Thursday thanks to my clients that I run with! Long runs just weren’t that long. I managed a 7 miler after Christmas and a 6 miler after New Years, but that was about it. My body still needed rest and I was doing what I was told.

Over these four weeks, I realized that my pregnancy pace was nothing like my pre-pregnancy pace. In fact, its about 45 seconds to 1 minute per mile slower. It really bothered me at first because it was so hard! I was running slower and I felt like I was going twice as hard. I took the time to walk when I needed to and tried to keep my heart rate under control. Walk breaks and breathing breaks are what go me through those runs. Eventually I realized that this slower pace is just my now pace and I’m totally okay with that!

Fluke fast run 🙂 I think it’s because I was so excited about the race, I was finally feeling better and I was indoor on the track!

When thinking out my race plan for the Houston half, I anticipated walk breaks every 3-4 miles or roughly every other water station. I wanted to keep my heart rate under 175, considering I can easily get up to 185 and run normally, 175 isn’t too high for me. I wanted to run with my husband because he supported me when I was frustrated with my running and didn’t think I was going to be able to do it. I anticipated finishing around 2:20 to 2:30 and was perfect okay with it! Somehow, someway the week before the race I started getting a little more energy and feeling a bit better all around. We finished in 2:05 without walking once during the race! We rocked it. Check out my race recap here if you’re interested in how my first pregnant race went!

I think the key to running during pregnancy is following your body and just doing what you can. Everyone is different. Every pregnancy is different. Listen to your doctor and follow your instinct. If you can, be grateful and keep it up! My next race is in just about 3 weeks at Disney!

Any questions about running during pregnancy? Or running/racing in general? Don’t hesitate to reach out!

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2015 Aramco Houston Half Marathon Race Recap

Now that the cats out of the bag, most of you know the real reason why I switched down from the full to the half! And why I wasn’t feeling well and not training properly. I was sick! Constant nausea and lack of food doesn’t make for very good half marathon training runs. In fact, they suck. Based on my December/January training runs, I was pretty sure that I was going to finish around 2:30. I wouldn’t have been upset about that, but somehow, I managed to pull through and kind of do pretty awesome.

Friday, I went to the Expo with JP, Chandra and Melanie! We were able to get some tasty freebies, discounted running clothes and a nice little walk to shake out our pre-race nerves. I’ve always thought that considering the size of the Houston Marathon, the expo isn’t really all that exciting. The best part is the discounted clothes from the local running stores: Luke’s Locker, Finish Line Sports, Fleet Feet, etc. There aren’t that many freebies or swag being handed out which is kind of a bummer. It’s still fun to walk around and enjoy the atmosphere and energy of race weekend.

Saturday was low key. We did a few things around the house and took the pups on some short walks, but other than that, nothing crazy. That evening we met up with Michael, Chandra and Melanie to go to Vincent’s for dinner just like last year. It’s a delicious Italian place within walking distance of our house. Last year they had a great marathon special with penne pasta, veggies, grilled chicken and a light olive oil sauce. It was perfect even though I wasn’t actually running the full marathon and I didn’t really need all the carbs. Oh well, Baby G wanted it and I couldn’t say no 🙂

Sunday started dark and early with a 5:00am alarm.

I was ready to go and popped out of bed with excitement. I guess my early wake up calls during the week make 5:00am seem like nothing. We got ready, snapped some pictures, picked up Melanie down the street and were on our way to George R. Brown! We had to be in our corals by 6:40, so we hurried to drop our bags and snap some pictures before parting ways: Chandra and Melanie were in Coral A and I dropped back into Coral B since JP was in B and I wanted to run with him!

By about 7:07am, we were off. I always get a rush of excitement as a race begins, but I felt true elation as the race kicked off this year. I was a bit emotional as I thought how amazing Houston is for coming out and supporting the runners. How amazing my husband is for pushing me through and helping me run. How amazing my body is to be able to grow a baby and let me continue with my passion. I got a little teary eyed…thanks pregnancy hormones….but they didn’t last too long.

The first several miles were great. The weather was beautiful and Houstonians were out on the streets showing all of their support! Seriously, the course is lined with people. There are only a few parts of the course that aren’t packed with people. The cheering and signs alone make the race fly by. Just before Mile 4, we saw Chandra’s husband Michael cheering us on! Seeing a friendly face on the course is the best motivation, so we kept on going with a pep in our step. We were holding a great pace and it was something I thought I could potentially hold for the remainder of the race. That is until mile 4.5 happened…

…y’all I fell. No lies. Not a little fall either. A flat on my face fall. Details. I know you want details. I tripped over an overfilled former pothole with a crack in it. My right toe got caught in the crack, my left leg lunged forward, I stutter stepped and then next thing you know, I’m flat on my face. But you know what the best part is? I was back up on my feet before I really knew that I ate it. There has never been a time that I was so thankful for the upper body strength I’ve gained over the past few years. I literally tripped and essentially did a burpee at mile 4.5 of the Houston Marathon. No big deal. JP didn’t even realize that I had fallen until I was back up and people were asking if I was okay. Now let’s move on past mile 4.5…

After my epic fall, everything continued to go smoothly. We slowed down a bit for me to catch my breath, calm down and lower my heart rate a bit. By mile 5 we were back to our steady pace and just trekking along. At mile 8, the half split from the full and it felt so good to go straight and not turn left for the marathon this year. So great! The rest of the race was straight down Montrose to Allen Parkway and into downtown. All roads that I run often since we pretty much ran past our house.

Mile 10 I was kind of getting tired of running and I needed to pee. I was taking fluids at every station switching between water and gatorade because getting dehydrated while pregnant was not something I wanted to do to me or Baby G. Especially Baby G! Luckily at mile 11 the livelihood pick up, the spectators were rows deep and I only had 2 miles to go. We hadn’t stopped to walk yet, so I wasn’t about to start now. I had a second wind and it took me to the finish line.

JP and I finished in exactly 2:05:00. This is about 20-25 minutes faster then I was anticipating based on the past few weeks of training! I was so proud of us and it felt amazing to cross the finish line with him. He was with me every step of the way. Supported me. Pumped me up. And made me feel like a rockstar. {I kind of won in the husband department. Sorry ladies, he’s clearly very taken and no, he doesn’t have a brother 🙂}

I’m super proud of Chandra and Melanie for finishing the full marathon like rock stars! Chandra crushed her 3:45 marathon goal and finished two minutes faster! Melanie not only finished, but did it while sick and feeling miserable. 3 miles is miserable when sick, let alone 26.2. I’m so proud of my girls and I’m beyond thankful that running brought us together!

This race turned out completely different then the race I envisioned when I signed up back in May. I originally planned on running the full. I wasn’t quite pregnant when I decided to switch to the half, so I was planning on trying to shoot for a new PR, sub 1:50. Clearly this didn’t happen. I found out I was pregnant and just wanted to run with my husband and I ended up killing it considering the circumstances! Running is something that I love. It’s a passion that I plan on continuing throughout my pregnancy. Or at least until I can’t anymore. My doctor told me to just keep going as long as I can and I intend to take her advice. That being said, next up Disney Glass Slipper Challenge! 5K Friday, 10K Saturday and 1/2 marathon Sunday. Bring it on Disney! Just 4 short weeks away 🙂

Any questions about running during your first trimester or working out?
I’ve officially endured it and would love to help out in any way I can!

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10 little fingers and 10 little toes…

…the sweetest of smiles and a cute little nose! That’s right, we’re expecting! Many of you found out this past Sunday when JP and I ran the Aramco Houston Half Marathon . For those of you who didn’t know…surprise! {Follow me on Instagram!}

To say that JP and I are elated would be an understatement. We are beyond happy and so ready to welcome a little Gougler into the world. The amount of love and support that we have received is unbelievable and I know this baby will be loved and spoiled rotten. Did I mention he/she will be the first grandbaby for both sets of parents? Yes, spoiled indeed.

Now onto the good part, how I found out and told the family! I actually took a pregnancy test before Thanksgiving and it came back negative. It was the first time I felt bummed. In fact, I cried to JP about it because for some reason, I really thought I was pregnant! We went to College Station for Thanksgiving and enjoyed the day with our family, tailgated that evening and went to the A&M vs LSU football game to round out the night. Everything was normal, nothing out of the ordinary. The day after, we were traveling back to Sugar Land to see my family and I felt really nauseous. I assumed that I was car sick because that happens enough for it to seem normal. It wasn’t until the next day that I really suspected something. I got up the following morning to go for a run. I had 10 miles planned but didn’t make it past 8. A few miles in…TMI alert…my boobs started hurting so bad! Like to the point of tears. I managed to finish out 8 miles, but it was seriously painful. I ended up testing the following morning (November 30th) and it was positive! I couldn’t believe it since I had gotten a negative just a week before. It turns out, I had my ovulation date off by just a bit. I guess it worked out in the end 🙂

I immediately had to wake JP up and tell him that he was going to be a daddy! I was too excited and it was too big of a secret for me to think of anything cute to do on the fly, so I really just shouted it at him. Romantic, I know. I told my mom later that day with a picture of the positive pregnancy test that said, “Only the best moms are promoted to grandmas!” She made me tell dad right away, so he didn’t get anything cute either. Emily found out the next day since she was living with us! It was hard enough to keep it a secret from her until Monday, so I knew that she needed to find out immediately.

I kept our little secret on the down low for a while because I wanted to have my first doctors appointment before too many people knew. I ended up telling Ashley and Alison at our little Christmas celebration the day after my appointment!

Christmas Eve is when I told my brothers, followed by my in-laws on Christmas day! A wonderful Christmas present if you ask me 🙂 The future Aunts and Uncles got cookies and future grandparents received a picture frame that said Precious Miracle with a picture of the ultrasound! Ben and Matt were confused at first, but figured it out after reading the cookies a time or two. Kate, Jody and Phil had an awesome reaction. Kate looked up at me and said, “Wait, I’m going to be an aunt?!” And Jody yelled, “I’M GOING TO BE A GRANDMA!!!!” at the top of her lungs. It was such a beautiful moment and of course I didn’t think to get it on camera!

I’m glad the secret it out now. It’s a hard secret to keep especially when you’re kind of out of whack, not feeling well and really, really tired. I’ll talk more about how I made it through the first trimester with my job and what not later on. I don’t want this to turn into a mommy or pregnancy blog, but I will be talking about it. It is the biggest thing in my life right now! Running and workouts and fitness will still be here, don’t worry!

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Aramco Half Marathon Training Reflection

Last May, I put my name and previous race marathon time into the lottery to test my luck and see if I could once again run the Chevron Houston Marathon. Since I had run it twice before at almost exactly a 4:00 finish time, I was in! As August 1st rolled around, it was officially time for training to begin. I was up in Denver/Golden, CO visiting my brother and attending a wedding, but I still got my first run done.

Once again, I stuck with my same awesome running club, Runner’s High and this year joined the 3:45 marathon group to challenge myself. Last year, Chandra, Melanie and I were usually at the front of the 4:00 pack and our coach recommended stepping it up, so we did!

Summer runs are always the hardest in Houston. August and September are particularly killed with the heat and humidity. Luckily, I work at a gym with an indoor running track, so I was able to get several of my weekday shorter runs done indoors.

August and September were also filled with traveling for JP and I. We were in Chicago, College Station a few times, Dallas once, College Station some more…hello football season! Most weekends we were able to run with the club and then make the trek to College Station, but one weekend we got to run up in Dallas! We took the trail behind my sister-in-law’s apartment that took us into downtown. It was sweaty, but just a tad less humid then Houston and we killed it.

October rolled around and I started to second guess my decision to run the marathon. I didn’t feel like it was the right race for me to run with my busy schedule and the physicality of my job. I teach 5-6 classes per week. Strength, cycling, kickboxing, etc. I also have a running club that I run with on Tuesdays (outdoor tempo runs) and Thursdays (indoor track/speed sessions). It was great that I was getting my runs in at work, but with everything else I was pushing myself to the point of exhaustion. Not to mention, on Tuesdays, I wasn’t getting runs in at my pace as I was coaching and helping others.

I decided to continue on with my training until the Houston Half Marathon at the end of October and make my decision. Luckily marathon training coincides with this half, in fact, it’s recommended to run it as it’s a part of the marathon warm up series. Chandra, JP and I had a blast and dressed up as The Incredibles since it was just a few days before Halloween! Here’s a full race recap if you’re interested, but we ended up running really well! I finished in 1:53 and Chandra a few minutes fast then me since well…she’s a little bit faster than me. Crazy, I know.

After the race, I knew that the marathon wasn’t in my cards. I know that I ran a great race, but I put in a lot of effort leading up to the half and I would need even more to get to a point where I was confident in running the full. I didn’t know if I had 16 and 20 mile runs in me for Saturday mornings. It was a really hard decision, but for the best. After I decided, it felt like a weight lifted off of my shoulders. My runs were easier and I wasn’t stressing.

However, I think I may have taken not stressing and feeling relieved a little too far. Since the Half in October, my training has been sub par. I did travel a lot. Like a lot, a lot. More trips to College Station, Disneyland in California, Thanksgiving, Boston, Christmas and New Years! Yikes. Maybe I was burnt out? I don’t know. I still kept up with my runs and even ran a pretty solid 5K at Thanksgiving in College Station!

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still been running. It just hasn’t felt like I’ve put my heart, soul and energy into training as I have before. I miss the camaraderie of running with my running buddies, Chandra and Melanie. I think that may be part of it. I’ve also dealt with being sick quite a bit and crummy weather from Christmas on. I’m sure that didn’t help. Luckily, I’ve had a few good runs the past week and I’m feeling confident that I will run this race, have fun and enjoy myself. This is a no pressure half!

I get to run it with my hubby and maybe, just maybe, we’ll cross the finish line together for the first time. We’ll see! Wish me luck on my 5th Houston Marathon weekend race and I’ll let y’all know how it goes on Monday! I’m excited!!!

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Work It Out: Tabata Style

I have a treat for you today! I want to introduce y’all to my current favorite style of training: Tabata! You may have heard of it before, or even done it. At the end I have a great no weight, no equipment Tabata workout for all fitness levels, it’s all about what you put into it!

Tabata is a type of High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT! Each set last a total of four minutes and it’s goal is to make your work at your highest intensity for a short period of time with a quick recovery. Here’s what it looks like:

  • 20 seconds high intensity exercise
  • 10 seconds recovery
  • Repeat for 8 rounds total
  • 4 minute workout
Tabata exercise has been tested and proven to increase your aerobic and anaerobic system if you keep up with the training over a 6 week period. 
The types of exercises used in Tabata training are generally very simple. They need to be performed a a quick pace in order to get several repetitions in for the 20 second period. Large muscle groups and cardio exercises are the best to start with. After you get the hang of the workout style, you can pretty much use as exercise you want. Here are a few examples of exercises to use:
  • Push ups
  • Rows
  • Lunges
  • Squats (change it to squat jump for an added cardio challenge)
  • Sit ups
  • Mountain Climbers
I’ve actually started a Tabata class at my gym every Monday afternoon and it is by far my most popular class! It’s tied with kickboxing for the most popular class at the gym which is pretty awesome. 
For each set of Tabata, you can choose either one or two exercises. With one exercise, you will use that exercise for all 8 rounds of Tabata. With two exercises, you will alternate exercises for each round of Tabata totaling 4 rounds of each exercise. 
Here’s an intro to Tabata workout created by yours truly! All the exercises are very simple movements. Be ready to get your heart rate up and burn some calories!

Alternate between the two exercises so you end up doing four rounds of each exercise. Give yourself a minute or two rest between each round. No more than 5 minutes. You want to keep your heart rate up to burn the most calories and really kill it!

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New Year, New Chance to get back on the blogging train!

Hi I’m Amy. This is my blog. I’ve been busy this year. I have some excuses, but I will choose to forgo them for a while 🙂 By the way, Happy New Year! I hope that everyone is having a wonderful year so far. I’ll admit, my 2015 as of this far has been pretty great. Lots of exciting things to come this year to say the least. Do we say that every new year? Probably, but that’s besides the point. Up until now, my year has been subdued and boy oh boy did I need it. Here’s a look at my top moments of 2015 thus far!

1. Roarin’ in the New Year 1920’s style! I got to start the new year with some of my best girls and our favorite guys! There were lots of sparkles, champagne, pearls, feathers and fun 🙂

2. Time with my Julie! Julie and Christ were in Houston for a week and I got Julie to myself for a whole day! New Years day we started at Top Golf, then spent some time chilling at my house planning our Disney trip which was such a blast. I’m pretty much dying to get to Orlando now!

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3. Relax. Relax. Relax. We were so busy the back end of the year from our Disneyland trip to Thanksgiving. Then Boston trip to Christmas and New Years! I enjoyed relaxing at home and just not doing much. Luckily the weather has been conducive to not doing much. Cold, rainy days call for being cozy on the couch snuggling puppies, watching football and reading!

4. Back to the daily grind. Not that I love waking up at the crack of dawn to go to work every morning, but after some crazy weeks, it was nice to be back in a consistent routine. The first week back felt long, but normal at the same time!

5. The Green Bay Packers won their playoff game and are going to the NFC Championship Game! Living in Texas, though Houston not Dallas, there are tons of Cowboys fans around here. I know a lot of people are upset about the Dez Bryant call. I’m not saying that it’s a good rule by any means, what happen sucks, but in all technicality, it is a rule. And rules are rules folks! I know I’d be upset if it was the other way around so I of course I haven’t said a word to any friends. I can sympathize and still be happy that my Packers pulled out with a win despite Aaron being injured! Can’t wait for Sunday’s game!

6. The Chevron Houston Marathon is THIS WEEKEND! Now this year I opted to run the half marathon instead of the full marathon. Not that a half marathon isn’t something to be proud of! I’m super pumped for this weekend’s race. I ran the half in 2011 and 2012, then the full in 2013 and 2014! Click on the years to see my race recaps! It rained in 2011 and 2013 so cross your fingers and say a prayer for good weather this weekend! I have good feelings about this race, I think it will be one for the books!

So there you have it! My year thus far! Full of running, relaxing and regaining a schedule and rhythm of life! I hope that everyone is having a good 2015 🙂 You’ll be seeing more of me coming up {I have scheduled posts so I’m not lying now!} and I hope not to disappear on y’all much this year!

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