2017 Word of the Year Wrapped: Faithful

2017 is about to be wrapped, so it’s time to take a look back at how I did as I set my intentions with my word of the year, faithful, back in January.


My goals were around ways to be faithful in several areas of my life – let’s see how this turned out! (You can read my original post about this here.)

  1. Faith. God showed our family some pretty powerful things in 2017. It all started as 2016 ended with the boiler (1/3 of our home heat) dying, the Durango engine dying, and the hot water heater bursting days after Christmas. I’d love to say that things got better, but they frankly didn’t. The day we were going to do our taxes (to get our refund and perhaps pay for a new engine for the Durango), our van transmission went. We heard you, God. It was a tough start to the year that truly tested our faith. I prayed more, didn’t learn the guitar, did a daily devotional, spoke at Women’s Ministries (with a bigger “gig” coming up in 2018), and did less journaling than I’d hoped. But God spoke to us and has shown us that it is well and His plan is bigger than our own.
  2. Family. The past twelve months of ups and downs really brought light to this one. We stayed in more often. We borrowed Greg’s parents’ vehicle for 10 months. We got adjusted to my parents’ retirement. I vowed when my cousin Tracy passed away that we’d do better about spending time with cousins. But the sad truth is that I feel like we are more distant from our extended family than usual. And maybe that’s because we really focused on the six of us? To be honest, it hurts but I keep praying that we’ll be better about time with both sides of our family in 2018.
  3. Food. Oh, buddy! I never had a thing with drinking pop, but I’d love it here or there with pizza or cake. December 31 I said goodbye to it and I am happy to report I’m 364 days without a sip of pop. High five! And after my 3-day Refresh, I did Whole30 twice which was a HUGE success (I’ll admit, I made some “mistakes“). I found out that gluten and I are not friends, so I’ve been off gluten since February, too. Then in September, I started Ketosis, which while it isn’t great for everyone, it’s proven to be good for me. I eat high protein and fat, and very low carbs – no sugar! I broke my bad habits and paired with my fourth focus area dropped 51 pounds in 2017!
  4. Fitness. I owe so much to my FitFam at the YMCA. You all pushed me and made me focus and believe again. Thanks to CrossFit, running the Half Marathon (even if I didn’t PR) and the 10-miler, I truly believe in myself again. This was definitely an area where I was faithful, maybe to a fault (like running while sick), but it paid off (see my loss in number 3).
  5. Fun. Even with things being tight, we still had a lot of fun this year. Part of our debt is our timeshare – something I will not give up as it gives us a break 2-3 times a year – so we got to travel to Wisconsin and Myrtle Beach. I also got in a NYC trip and Columbus (for business but fun). The kids joined soccer and softball and all four have so much fun with our church. We definitely did well with this one!

Well, now that 2017 is coming to a close, it’s time to set new intentions and see what 2018 will bring. For that…you’re going to have to make sure you are staying tuned to mrsgregwillis.com for more!!! =) (Who is excited?!?!?Make sure you still follow along here and on our lilburghers Facebook and Twitter, too! We’re not going anywhere! xoxo

EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler 2017

In my journey to get back to the fit mom I was in 2013-14, I set my goals to run again. It’s been about two years in the making, but I think I’m finally back as a distance runner (it only took two good, long races to make me feel that way). Today’s race was the EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler, a fall favorite here in Pittsburgh.

As for documenting my training, it didn’t happen like it had for May’s Pittsburgh Half Marathon because life was pretty busy this fall. But if you’re following over on my Instagram (which you should be for mini blogs!), you’d see that I have been working really hard and had some really good runs the last few weeks (and had a lot of life sprinkled in between my training).

The first (and only other) time I ran the EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler was its inaugural run in 2013. I was faster back then, but that pace is definitely not out of my reach for 2018! You see, I’m definitely feeling four years older and added two more kids to this family since then. But this mama is definitely back to her running game!

Friday at packet pickup, I felt on top of the world!

So how’d it go? Marvelous! I could sit here and tell you I was mad about my pace and that the wheels fell off like they did for the Half, but that wouldn’t be true. I think I was the proudest I’ve ever been of myself with the exception of the 2013 Pittsburgh Half Marathon (my first big race)! Add to this, I did it at day 5 of a sinus infection I’ve just been treating with Essential Oils and prayer as well as an achy right leg from some bumps that happened on Thursday and Saturday (I so should have bubble wrapped myself).

I opted to keep my phone off because ever since the last two updates, my Galaxy has been sucking battery life like there’s no tomorrow. Instead, I ran with my Fitbit (which is a must-have for my fitness journey and is available over on Amazon if I’ve inspired you to get moving) to keep a check on my heart rate and pace. Unfortunately, because of this, I don’t have my splits but I do have what my head and heart went through throughout.

EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler 2017

The day began at about 6, we woke up all the kids and loaded the van. The original plan was to walk from First Avenue Garage to Highmark Stadium, but the rain on our drive down changed that plan. Instead, Greg drove me as close to Station Square as he could then he back-tracked to park and head over to the Rachel Carson Bridge to cheer me on. I found my way to the corral, texted my boss to wish him luck and decided where to place myself for the best pace I could. Corral D was super empty, so I was worried I’d be right in front of the sweep vehicle!

Mile 1: This mile, basically straight up a hill then about half mile flat and another uphill through Carson Street felt so good. I’d positioned myself in front of the 11:00/mile pace group and kept them behind me for much of mile one. The 11:00/mile and 11:30/mile passed me just before the end of this mile, but my FitBit said I was doing basically 11:25.

Mile 2: West End. This is basically all uphill, too. That felt right and awesome, but I kept a back and forth with the 12:00/mile pace groups and knew my clock wasn’t quite right. I’d heard the 12:00 pace group yell “11:46” at mile one back behind me then 11:50-something at the end of mile 2 (again behind me), so I knew I was faster than I thought I could do this and happy.

Mile 3: West End Bridge, do I need to say more?

Mile 4: The climb up Western Avenue basically slowed things down a bit. I ended up walking the end of this mile for 30 seconds because that hill was biting me! I also realized how quiet the course was and it kinda bummed me out.

Mile 5: North Side // passing the Relay Exchange felt good – there’s a bit of downhill through here, so I upped my pace again and could see the 12:00/mile groups just ahead of me. I remembered passing the relay and thinking the exchange was way sooner than five miles (and it was).

Mile 6: Rachel Carson Bridge brought me to the first sight of my family. They were happy to see me twice around the Fort Duquesne Boulevard loop, and I was, too. Greg yelled that I was doing 12:12, and I shrugged, like oh well, no PR but I feel GREAT.

Mile 7: The hip started to feel awful. The hill up to East Ohio Street to the 16th Street Bridge was long and I walked a bit more than I like to admit. I stopped to stretch my hip and catch some breaths. The rest of the course was exactly what I’d trained on and my body knew it, but I was also scared I’d quit when I saw Greg and the kids again at the end of this mile. I stopped to high five my five hearts at the end of 16th Street Bridge and tell Greg I was in a bit of pain. But no pain, no gain.

Mile 8: Penn Avenue is my training grounds. I swore I’d have done better, but the rain started. There were also spectators and a lot of volunteers/medics in this section due to the switchback we did onto Smallman and Penn to get back to Liberty. I remember a biker almost hitting me during that switch and a police trying to stop them from being on the course with no avail. Oops!

Mile 9: I walked the first and last minutes of this mile. It is what it is. At that point, my hip was burning and I needed it. The rain started to come down and I was pretty much soaked. I love running in the rain, but not when I’m hurting! This flat stretch of Liberty seemed excruciatingly long, but I could see the mile 9 timer ahead!

Mile 10: I told myself to just run this thing and I did. My FitBit says around 11:30 to 11:04/mile when I was pushing it. I jumped into a puddle. I swore I saw a rainbow over the EQT building. I saw the family again but needed to put my head down and RUN. I couldn’t do the math as I crossed but I knew I beat my goal of under 13:00/mile and was ecstatic.

After the race, I grabbed my medal and heat sheet (so glad I did) and a banana (gosh, I’ve missed these with Keto, but I needed it for my sluggish legs as they started to cramp quickly). Some Gatorade (again, not Keto but my ear was ringing and I appreciated the sugar shock for a moment) and water then my bubbly from Barefoot over at BRGR. I didn’t even turn on my phone to meet up with Greg and the kids because I just wanted to do all the post-race things quickly…thunder was rolling and lightning started soon after!

We met up and took the T back to the van, Greg told me my pace and I basically didn’t care. I mean, I had some thoughts but those are all silly. Would it have been great to PR? Yes. Would it have been great to do a sub 2? Yes. Would it have been great to knock a whole minute off my Half pace? Yes. But you know what? For feeling like I did + the rain and weird November heat surge, this race was AMAZING and I’m sticking to it.

EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler Official Results

2:07:08 | 12:43/mile

What’s next? I haven’t decided yet. I’d love a Kittanning Turkey Trot, but we don’t have one and I really don’t feel up to driving downtown then home then to family Thanksgiving. I think I’ll keep running, do some 5-6 milers on weekends and be in really good shape for the 2018 Pittsburgh HALF Marathon (that bold is for those of you who think I am crazy and can actually pull off a full with four young kids, that day’s coming, but not next year!).


Gonna Eat My Cookies

Repeat after me, moms. “You’re a good mom.” Repeat it again. And again. And once more for good measure. And if my own mom is reading this, I apologize (again) for every time I made you whisper, cry, yell, or speak this mantra.

Yinz guys, it’s been a tough three hours since I got home from work. I’m finally feeling inspired to write again, inspired to maybe actually pick up that guitar I kept yearning for, and like my running and weight-loss have hit a stride. I’m feeling GOOD at this working on me thing, but see, I think that’s exactly the problem.

I’ll be writing more as the days come, but Greg and I just embarked in a study at our church of “12 Traits of the Greats” (which you can get here and start digging in, too). Long story for another blog short, we focused on responsibility and mindset last night. Our group didn’t get through all of our questions, so we decided to ask each other some of them before bed. This started my wrestling with myself.

The thing is, responsibility comes pretty darn easy to me. I was the oldest kid, a preacher’s kid, who always was striving to be good. I wanted to work hard to get good grades and get into a good school and get a good job. I happened to say to Greg in our conversation that I didn’t struggle with responsibility and that I was anxious to dig into some of the other traits that I do struggle with. But the reality was is, our conversation made me wrestle with something I haven’t taken full responsibility for.

A little over ten years ago, I got a fairly good job and had a fairly good life, but was in fact very irresponsible. I had been living with a boyfriend for just about two years and wasn’t leading a very good, responsible life. The story unfolds throughout these pages, but basically I became a victim of nasty things and didn’t have the strength to get out. I ended up pregnant and took on the responsibility of having my first child. Or did I?

I wasn’t responsible with myself during the month I got pregnant. I wasn’t honest with anyone, not even with myself. I was letting Satan take something beautiful and turn it into something very broken. And the thing was, I didn’t care. Not one bit. I didn’t care so much that I never found out some very important facts that one day my kid might want to know.

So last night, I struggled with this. I wrestled with my spirit and asked God over and over to help me release my anger and tension and anxiety over this, things I’ve carried for almost ten years. I asked him some pretty private, personal, and important things.

So then, of course, tonight was going to go a bit haywire when I was trying to get the now nine-year-old innocent child to do some simple tasks – sit with her sisters while I took a phone call, warm up her dinner while I plated the other kids’, find boots that actually fit her feet. And then this mama lost it.

I didn’t get mean. I just let the Devil take the joy from the room, let him suck the good things that were happening in front of me away. I missed the fact that she’s nine and that she’s probably even more tired of being responsible than I am. I let my guard down and let what I am wrestling with as my personal pain and chains impact precious time with my precious children.

But after some coffee and {keto} cookies and a quick mama time out to get my thoughts out, life feels eons better. I’m going to go back tonight and re-read some of the 12 Traits book and make my knees hit the floor again asking for God’s triumph to unfold. And don’t worry – I won’t eat the other ten cookies that I made. A keto cookie is nothing like the red velvet brownie cookies I’d much rather have right now – but my mindset tells me I made the far better choice.

 Stay tuned for more on this story and more details about the study our church is embarking on. For now, I’m gonna eat my cookies.

Fat to Fit – The Struggle is Real

When people tell me how proud of me they are, I usually smile and say thanks. In fact, it’s still a work in progress, so sometimes I even get down on myself and say how far I still have to go. Truth is that deep down, I feel like they don’t really get how real my struggle has been to go from fat to fit.

Yeah, sure, I’ve run half marathons (yes, that’s plural). I’ve lost 173 pounds (in total, not off my highest weight!) over the last six years. I’ve done things I never thought I could (like jump off a sail boat into the Caribbean or jump up on a box at a crossfit class). But I hate that people probably think I make these things look easy, because they are not.

Imagine you are in a starting corral of runners and you start to breathe really fast because you’re looking down at your body and looking at the body next to you. You start to question if you really should be here doing this thing. You are not a runner! You quickly forget the miles and hours of training, the on point eating you’ve done in the last five months and just hyper focus in on the moment. It’s crushing. It’s numbing. And it’s a real struggle. You forget that (even though you are still working) your journey from fat to fit has been full of way more endurance than many of the people with the full marathon bibs have ever gone through.

Or maybe you are laying face down on the floor of a crossfit class wiping away tears because you can’t do burpies and you really don’t want to be a baby about doing them again. You justify your thoughts that you have way more pounds to lift off the floor than anyone else in the room and jumping up with this much flab just isn’t pretty. You forget that a year ago you were laying face down on a different floor crying because you were so tired of being so tired and unwell. You forget that you have come so far, all you can do is focus on that moment and get down on yourself.

Even if I make it look easy with my posts about running and Whole30, I am here to tell you it hasn’t been. I’ve had to overcome a lot of physical and mental struggles. Even when I was at my thinnest in 2014, I still had a lot of issues. (I couldn’t do a burpie or box jump, for instance.)

But what I can say is I am working on being proud of how far I’ve come. And sometimes, that may show too little or too much. This is all part of my journey, and I am thankful for those who support me, those who get me, and those who are inspired by me. No, it’s not easy going from fat to fit – but it’s my struggle and I’m loving it.

Whole30: Round Two

Yesterday completed Whole30 Round Two for me. Let me just shout it out – I am out top of the world happy with my results. There, I said it and that’s that, right?

No, for real. I’m more proud of myself than I was the last time I went on my weight loss journey. And if you don’t remember, during that one I dropped 130 pounds, ran a half marathon, and even wore a bikini for the first time since I was a kid. I was (excuse me) damn proud of myself and what I accomplished – and not just because I looked good but because I felt good and was healthier for my kids.

But this time is different. This time, I am older and have two more kids and a longer commute. I have more faith. I have more drive. I have more to overcome. And I am doing it.

Choosing to do a second round of Whole30 this year was a no-brainer. After reintroducting foods and then training for the half, my eating sort of slushed a little. I was mostly gluten-free, but I allowed myself some treats (and paid for them later). I was mostly dairy-free, but I ate ice cream twice in one weekend – packed with guilt. It was time to do something for me again.

This time, we tried a few new recipes. I ate less sweet potatoes. I lifted heavier (I still have lots of gains to make there, but boy am I seeing changes). I ran less distance. I found beauty in my imperfections. And I learned that eating clean is a good way for me to live.

Whole30 Round Two Results

As a result of my commitment to my health, I have:

  • Longer hair
  • Looser clothes (I have gone from an 18 to a 14/16 and even put on a pair of size 12’s!)
  • More energy
  • More strength
  • Lost 6 inches
  • Lost 17.6 pounds

And you guys – that’s just on Whole30 Round Two. In all this year, I have lost 43 pounds in six months and have found out what I need to put in my body to fuel it properly. And I’ve gained confidence, courage, and strength.

I have to give a big thank you to my husband for letting me take care of me – putting in hours at the gym or on the trail, leaving dinner work up to him, making him read labels and hunt for “weird” ingredients. Greg, you’ve made this so much easier on me, even though this time around of losing it has been the hardest. Thank you!

My Half Marathon Journey: Race Recap

It’s time for the final post in my 2017 half marathon journey – the race recap! (Enter disclaimer text)

half marathon journey



It’s hard to believe that almost a week has gone by since the 2017 Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon (in which I ran my second Half Marathon). Life has been super busy ever since the weekend of the race and has finally slowed down enough for me to breathe and think about the run. It’s race recap time!

Race Recap – The Prep

The Flat Lay: It’s tradition before a race to put together your race outfit, the flat lay. I put Flat Becky together before we headed to dinner, but this is when my nerves set it. I knew I’d be a mix of cold then hot and I started to freak out. I decided to go with my Fila pants (with some mesh around the calves) and the work running t-shirt, nothing under or over it. But maybe something under it. Or not. (I’d decide later that night to go with my 2013 Turkey Trot long sleeve under it, a decision I now regret). The Bigs asked that I wear my hat, which I was perfectly fine with as the day looked like it might be a bit rainy and overcast (in hindsight, ha).

flat lay

Carb-Loading Dinner: Work put on a beautiful dinner at the St. Clair Country Club, but I was challenged by the carb-loading part of race day prep (thanks to my body’s dislike of gluten since Whole30). I gave in and had some tortellini and even though I sort of regretted it that night, I did not regret the energy the next morning. Greg and I got all fancy but forgot to grab a photo with our phones.

Sleep: Plain and simple, it came super easy. Big props to my mom who stayed the night so we could sneak in (although Isla and Arianna woke on our arrival) and out. With about 6 hours of sleep, I figured this would bode well.


Race Recap – Before the Start

Mile 0 – Getting to the Half: Greg and I woke at 4:00 AM and left the house by 4:45. We were parked and waiting by 5:30 – decided (correctly) to get a spot in a garage on the North Shore. It was only $5 and connected right to the “T”, which took us right where we needed to be, Gateway Plaza.

I had to find the porta-potties twice because nerves. We wrapped in garbage bags but I wasn’t sure if I was too cold or too warm. Greg and I parted ways at about 6:45 – me to Corral D and he to Corral C. I was worried I’d not given him enough time, but it turned out we had plenty.

After the National Anthem played, we waited and waited. I’d taken my inhaler but needed to take it again because almost an hour passed between when I thought I’d need to take it to start. I gave up my garbage bag early, around 7:15, and wished I’d still had it. The gun time was delayed because there were cars on the course. It ended up not being time for us back of the packers to go until 7:45.

I crossed the starting line at 7:49 AM.

Mile by Mile Breakdown: The Good Half

I used my FitBit to conserve my phone battery – because I killed my phone in 2013 – and it logged 13.44 miles. Something was definitely off, but I’m using that for my mile breakdown. This is the unofficial time! 

Mile 1: The fast one. Pace: 11’46”

This seems to be the one that always gets my heart pumping and my legs moving. It’s always fast, even with others who are trying to navigate their way through the swarm of people trying to run their first mile, too. We were still pretty packed in, like sardines, but I made the best of it and worked my zig-zag. I felt good, just right in the heat department, but shedding the gloves as we went down Liberty.

To my left, a guy caught a garbage bag and went spinning top over bottom for about 15 feet, saving his landing and moving on. I was impressed!

To my right, there were four guys, Marathoners, running in Star Wars costumes. I’d see them until we broke at mile 11. Behind me was the 12’35” pace group, the group I wanted to stay ahead of. About 0.5 miles in, they lost me – gone to the point I couldn’t see them anymore and to the point I was scared this wasn’t going to go well. It was too early to feel that, but I felt that.

Interestingly, my FitBit showed 1 mile just as I got to the 1 mile marker, and my time was an exact match on the clock (against gun time).

Mile 2: The Familiar One. Pace: 11’53”

This began my familiar trail, the roads I run at lunch. I knew this section of the course so well, I could have closed my eyes and did it. This felt so good and I didn’t see things going downhill in any way. Who cares that I couldn’t see the pacers any more, what I knew was no others had passed me from behind and were nowhere to be seen behind me, either.

I snuck a peak down toward my office, thanking God for the changes in me since taking this job, for the way they support this running thing. Next thing I knew, mile 2 was DONE.

Mile 3: The 16th Street Bridge. Pace: 13’23” 

This one felt like it took forever, like it was stretched out farther than I remember during my training. I felt good as I took the hill to the bridge and kept my eyes on those around me who seemed to be pacing about the same as me. I prayed for them to keep up their pace and endurance because I was motivated by them.

Mile 4: East Ohio Street. Pace: 13’25”

This was a mile I could have done better on. It was mostly flat, save for the journey up to East Ohio, and full of people cheering. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember seeing the 4-mile marker, but I know it was there.

Mile 5: Downhill and Excited. Pace: 12’56”

I knew my pace had slowed a little, but I wasn’t discouraged. We were looping around the North Side with some downhills and water stations. I was encouraged going uphill to the Urban Impact cheer team, fiving the crowd. This mile felt good and I knew I’d round a corner any second and see Greg (who had finished his 5.3 mile leg about 30 minutes after I took off).

Mile 6: Cranky begins. Pace: 12’48”

As this one started, I saw Greg. He had beat his goal for his relay leg and looked excited. I handed off my gloves then asked him if he’d gotten a text about my time. He hadn’t. But wait, he had, so he came running after me. He told me my average pace at 4.4 was 13’11”. I pouted. This wasn’t going to be a PR at that pace. What was going wrong? I felt so good and now so confused. I was passing PNC Park then Heinz Field, I should have been so happy. This part of the course was ROUGH – lots of pot holes. Eep. Something kicked in, though, and I tried to make up for the time.

Mile by Mile Breakdown: The Bad Miles

Mile 7: The West End Bridge. Pace: 13’47”

As I headed toward the West End Bridge, the cold got to me. I didn’t feel trained, I felt like an imposter. I slowed to a walk as I crested the hill to the bridge, trying to get it back together. I started to jog and a $20 bill flew under my feet. Not even money was gonna stop me. With the walk, this was one of my slower miles, but I felt a fire in me that I didn’t want to let out.

Mile 8: The inhaler part one. Pace: 13’52”

In the West End, the spectators rocked, as usual. One of them was a college friend. She probably doesn’t know it, but I high fived her as I went by. I swore I was actually moving in the West End, but as I got to the end where we head up and out, my lungs were screaming. I stepped to the side and grabbed some energy gels and two puffs of my inhaler. I realized I was no longer cold, but not hot.

Mile 9: The strip club. Pace: 13’01”

As the course took us through Carson Street, the sun started to shine and I started to feel woozy. Really woozy. Like I was going to need a medic. I realized I was starting to overheat, quickly. How the heck, when all the spectators were bundled up in hats and gloves? After I ran past a line of soldiers, high fiving us, I knew I needed to do something to get cooled off. A cup of water to the chest and back didn’t help, so I tried to take off my long-sleeve. It was stuck, so I had to go to the side of the road and peel it off then put my other shirt back on. It wasn’t pretty, but it was necessary. At this point (TMI ALERT) I also realized being a woman brings its own fun challenges to the race – I NEEDED a bathroom but I was not going to stop to make any adjustments. Eep. 

Mile 10: The smack. Pace: 13’39”

Greg had traveled across town to see me at the 2nd relay exchange. When I saw him, I stopped. My first intention was to give him my long-sleeve, but then I told him I was done and ready to quit. I was physically uncomfortable and way too hot. That’s when the asthma attack started. It’s also when he told me how proud of me he was and that I needed to take my inhaler and get moving (SMACK!). So move, I did.

Mile 11: The flat-ish one. Pace: 13’07”

The course boasts this as the flatest mile. Sure, it wasn’t bad, but I was disappointed that there was no gu and barely any water at this point. I saw my kids’ faces in my mind and kept pushing, crying, but pushing. I watched the time on my FitBit slip quickly from an average of 12’45” per mile to 13’01” and stay there for most of this mile.

Mile 12: The worst. Pace: 14’59”

There’s no nice way about this one. I was done with hills. My broken toe was throbbing. My pants felt so heavy and I was afraid I was going to pass out. My shirt was drenched in sweat, but I couldn’t get cooled down. I decided to power walk this entire mile, across the Birmingham Bridge and up Fifth Avenue. I don’t know how I ran this mile in 2013, but I did. As soon as I got to Jumonville, I knew I wasn’t going to be swpt, so I told my body to get it’s act together. According to my FitBit, I was still going to PR if I just kept moving.

Mile by Mile Breakdown: The Finish

Mile 13: Like the wind. Pace: 12’11”

Get it together, I did. I flew down Fifth Avenue, refusing any more water. I felt good all over again, because I’d lived through the uphill battle. I barely had time to realize we were running past PPG Paints Arena or to realize how close I was to the finish.

Mile 13.1 (then some?): The tears. Pace: 11′17″

I zipped through the final steps. My FitBit told me I was done, and when I saw the time and the fact that I had the official 13-mile marker just ahead in my sight, I knew a PR was not going to happen. I cried my way to the finish line, pushing hard (especially when I saw Greg) and not stopping until I crossed into the end. It wasn’t enough, to PR, but it was enough to finish. I didn’t quit, and I could have.

I cried as I was handed my medal. I cried as I got my finisher’s photo taken. I cried because I did this again, 4 years, +2 more kids, -30 pounds +75 pounds – 25 pounds, + a major surgery,+ a job change, + a move, + so many other things later. I felt mad about not PR’ing, but so proud.

Once I found Greg, I saw the pride in his face. He had talked to the kids and they were proud, but I needed to hear it.

Once I did, all my anger at myself went away and I enjoyed time with my hubby and co-workers.

Will I do it again? Abso-buc’n-lutely. I cannot wait for 2018.


Unofficial: 13.44 miles, 2:55:54 minutes, 13’05” pace

Official: 13.1 miles, 2:55:43 minutes, 13’25” pace


My Half Marathon Journey: Part 9

Follow along with me as I share my half marathon journey – I’ll be running my second half in Pittsburgh this May – with weekly updates. (Enter disclaimer text)

half marathon journey


Well, here it goes! Tapering is upon us. I’ve slowed down in impact and duration and am trying not to scream every morning that it’s X days until the Half. But I can’t help it, this is quite exciting for me! This time next week, I’ll be at dinner with my co-workers (and Greg), relaxing before a quick sleep and the race. I’m pretty much ready, but need to go for prayers tomorrow and have my dad and mom pray with us on Saturday. Otherwise, I’m feeling awesome – keep reading to hear how this week went!

Training Plan Status

Saturday 4/22: Caught the stomach bug and couldn’t shake it. Sad that I didn’t get my 11-miler in, but my abs sure got a workout last week. Ugh.

Sunday 4/23: Rest and worked a vendor fair for my Thirty-One business.

Monday 4/24: I felt like lightning. Today was a quick three miles at lunch, my normal path along the course that I’ll run next Sunday. This three had me in tears. Is this real life? Distance: 3.04 miles Pace: 12’35” per mile

Tuesday 4/25: Back at it for YFit – and I almost forgot to snag a picture of the board! Don’t be fooled. This one looks easy, but it wasn’t. “Bonus”? I felt my first ever bar blister pop as I walked from the pull-up bar back to my weights. I might have shed a tear.

I was able to do a few burpees without the help of the wall or bench, but 85% of them were heavy modified. 🙁 Bummer. The Thrusters took a lot out of me, then I did 115 on deadlifts – probably my heaviest weight yet! The ab work at the end was painful but in a good way – weighted pilates crunches (idk the real name, but that’s what it felt like), l-sits (I held a bow position on the ground because my hand hurt BAD at that point), and ball holds. Ouch!

Wednesday 4/26: I thought last week was THE run. This was a hot one, but I was not distracted by the sun or my mind. This was awesome. There is really nothing more to say but pray I can get my pace closer to this for race day! Distance: 3 miles Pace: 12’22” per mile

Thursday 4/27: I got to YFit early and stared at the gym. This will be my last time at my Y Box until mid-May due to tapering next week then work events the following week. I’m going to miss it!

Really loved this WOD, and logged 5-minute 800’s. Whoa. I was spent after this but suffered through the 100 weighted sit-ups at the end.

Friday 4/28: I took a walk to clear my mind (I needed it) then did Nerf Wars at church. Lots of steps for the day and not enough time to blog!

Saturday 4/29: My last BIG run before the Half has to suck. There’s no other way around that. And suck this one did. The splits for the first two miles had me soaring, but after that, I couldn’t stay in the 12-minute mile range and went to 13 for two then logged a sad 14 fifth mile. Mile six had me WALKING because I smelled fresh cut grass and onions and I was thirsty and had the barf feeling, so I walked 0.25. This helped, then I poured my heart into the last 0.75 miles that remained and finished that one in just over 13. Unfortunately, my pace isn’t what I want it to be to ring that PR Bell next Sunday, but I think the time in song and prayer helped. And it’s DEFINITELY better than my last long run before 2013’s half – 14’52” per mile (that one was DISGUSTING). ‘lil bonus? I wore my race day shirt!!! Work gave them out yesterday and I had to see how it felt (good, but it’s going to be HOT if the weather is warm).  Distance: 6 miles Pace: 13’26” per mile

Current Progress

February Miles (follow me on Nike+): 35.91
February Average Pace: 13:32

March Miles: 60.05 
March Average Pace: 13’21”

April Miles: 60.02
April Average Pace: 13’15”
Current Projected Finish Time: 2:35 (right there with my 2013 pace of 13:13 / 2:53)

What’s coming up next? I will do 3 on Monday, 3 on Wednesday. Hoping we can bike or swim as a family on Tuesday and Thursday. Hoping I can do a shakeout on Friday, maybe to the Convention Center to get my race packet. I’m squealing, can you tell?


If you’re running in the 2017 Pittsburgh Marathon events, let me know. Be sure to follow along on my social media – I’ll be using #fitmomintheremaking #pghmarathon and #runpgh with my shares!

Read the rest of this series:

My Half Marathon Journey: Part 1 (March 3)

My Half Marathon Journey: Part 2 (March 10)

My Half Marathon Journey: Part 3 (March 17)

My Half Marathon Journey: Part 4 and 5 (March 31)

My Half Marathon Journey: Part 6 (April 7)

My Half Marathon Journey: Part 7 (April 14)

My Half Marathon Journey: Part 8 (April 21)

Read other Pittsburgh Running Blogs through Steff’s linkup: Run Steff Run

Seven Springs Surprise

Friday was a positively gorgeous day. I enjoyed a few moments after work with my co-workers, treated myself to an iced coffee with coconut milk, and headed home. I had no idea what Greg had waiting for me.

Usually when I open the door I am greeted by the Bigs and the dogs, one or all of them typically pushing the Twins out of the way to get to me first. On Friday, I was greeted by silence. The house smelled incredible and everything was in its place. Assuming the Twins were napping and the kids coloring, I snuck to the living room to find no babies. Greg was in the kitchen smiling like a kid on Christmas.

He’d surprised me, planned a Seven Springs surprise getaway on his birthday weekend. After some stressful months and almost two years with no more than a handful of (non-consecutive) nights away from the Twins, it was time for us to get some alone time.

I cried.

Then I asked if he was kidding.

Nope. He’d planned this all behind my back, conspiring with my parents and brother to take care of the kids. We’d been saving some gift cards I’d won in a few contests for just the right time and here it was.

Friday night we stayed home and enjoyed a 3-mile bike ride, time in the hammock, pizza, and some tv. Saturday morning he woke with me and the sun for a run (3.1 for him, 7 for me). It was amazing to run with him and not worry about the kids and their bikes, we hadn’t done that in almost three years.

We headed up the mountain I grew up on and enjoyed a sunny, warm, and beautiful ride into God’s masterpiece. Along the way we talked, really talked, about things that didn’t have to do with work, money, diapers, or our hectic schedule. I felt so alive.

His plan to have some laughs played out- we made it in time to catch about half of the Pond Skim. I’ll admit, it was hilarious and I know he enjoyed it tons.

Next, I was whisked away to the Trillium Spa where I had an afternoon of treatments. I was spoiled (and reminded “happy wife, happy life” when feeling guilty over it being his birthday). The spa is the best I’ve ever been to and service was like no other. In fact, I still feel chill days later. A bath, wrap, and massage later, I met up with my husband who got to catch a nap.

After enjoying some views of the slopes (people were skiing in t-shirts!), we had dinner (which promptly made me curl in a ball because I couldn’t resist the gluten, lesson learned).

Sunday was a leisurely morning of breakfast and heading home. Reality set in when we had to stop for diapers, but gosh did we miss those girls and their sister and brother. Soon enough, we were enjoying time with them at our (Greg, Ava, Isla, Mom, and my) birthday dinner at Fortune Star, a family tradition.

This surprise was exactly what we needed…and we hope to continue to get the chance to sneak away every now and again. Thanks, Dad, Mom and Jack!

My Half Marathon Journey: Part 3

Follow along with me as I share my half marathon journey – I’ll be running my second half in Pittsburgh this May – with weekly updates. (Enter disclaimer text)

half marathon journey

Anyone else still feeling the effect of Daylight Saving Time? Truth be told, I cruised into work on Monday because yinz’all were sleeping in, but by Thursday I was right there with you. In the last two days, I hit snooze at least 27 times and I am so ready for bed as I’m typing up this post tonight. But, a deal is a deal, and I’m committed to this training and sharing of the plan!

Training Plan Status

Saturday: YFit 17.3 workout had my hands hurting. I still can’t do pull-ups, so I went to the rings when I realized I’d be doing something over 100 of them. There was a point where I almost fell backward doing the squat snatches, but it triggered something in me to make this more than a cross-training addition. I think it’s time to admit, even though I have a long way to go, that I really like CrossFit.

Sunday: Fought with my running app (Nike+) and compared it to my FitBit, S-Health, and MapMyRun to determine I ended up doing 5.34 miles on the trail at an 13:17 pace (1 hour 11 minutes, 11 minutes of that were walking). I WAS ECSTATIC. I was also COLD.


Monday: Full out run at work, 4 miles at 13:22. Still proud.

Tuesday: YFit + ab work that still has me hurting when I laugh.

Wednesday: 4 miles on the dreadmill at the Y. My first 1.5 miles were in the low 12-minute pace but then my head got the best of me and I slowed it down. By 2 miles I decided to kick up the incline and really slow down the pace (to about 14:30) for a mile before leveling off and doing a 12:45 mile. I didn’t quit like I thought I would. Ended up with a 13:20 pace and decided to write a post about running gear that night.

Thursday: I felt spent (DST kicking my butt) and accidentally stayed at work longer than I meant to. That got me in traffic, but I didn’t complain. I enjoyed the blue sky and then came home and pushed play on a Beachbody Country Heat workout. Even though I missed YFit, my routine was weighted…see?

(I held them both for the last 3 minutes, but held Ava about 30% of the workout. Ouch!)

Friday: Today was stretch day. Om!

Current Progress

February Miles (follow me on Nike+): 35.91
February Average Pace: 13:32

March Miles (so far): 26.46
March Average Pace (so far): 13:37 (-17 seconds from last week)
Current Projected Finish Time: 2:58 (+5 minutes from 2013 pace of 13:13 / 2:53)

What I’m listening to: Sit Still, Look Pretty gets me moving pretty quickly these days.

What’s coming up next? 6 mile run on Sunday, then 3’s this week.

Anybody else dreaming about Marathon weekend? Three dreams and counting over here.


If you’re running in the 2017 Pittsburgh Marathon events, let me know. Be sure to follow along on my social media – I’ll be using #fitmomintheremaking #pghmarathon and #runpgh with my shares!


Read the rest of this series:

My Half Marathon Journey: Part 1 (March 3)

My Half Marathon Journey: Part 2 (March 10)

Read other Pittsburgh Running Blogs through Steff’s linkup: Run Steff Run

My Half Marathon Journey: Part 2

Follow along with me as I share my half marathon journey – I’ll be running my second half in Pittsburgh this May – with weekly updates. (Enter disclaimer text)

half marathon journey


On the training front, this week was sort of quiet. I didn’t make any huge leaps and bounds on my time, I didn’t feel disappointed. I did, however, have a nightmare that we were late to the starting line and I was left just in front of the sweep car. Eek.

Training Plan Status

Saturday was an extra day of YFit for me, including 17.2 which even though it was only 12 minutes I was beat after…then we worked out. Eek! Sunday I skipped my run for a day at the Aviary with the family, but I jumped right back in on Monday. Today was a rest day (my body was glad for it after an intense YFit last night).

Current Progress

February Miles (follow me on Nike+): 35.91
February Average Pace: 13:32

March Miles (so far): 13.09 
March Average Pace (so far): 13:54 (+ 11 seconds from last week)
Current Projected Finish Time: 3:00 (+7 minutes from 2013 pace of 13:13 / 2:53) Note – I totally had 3:59 last week and that was NOT right by a whole hour! Oops! 

What I’m listening to: Only Wanna Sing has me quite pumped up during my runs. I might even jump a little.

Mentally, I am so excited. Running is basically all I can think about. It’s kind of crazy, this running thing. On Wednesday, I didn’t want to stop (but needed to because life called).


Pro Tip: If you are shredding your muscles training for an endurance event like a half marathon, order yourself this foam roller to help with muscle soreness. You’ll be so glad you did.

QUESTION! When is the right time to start breaking in my shoes for Race Day? I’ve been staring at them, so ready to put them on, but so scared to wear them out too soon. If you know, lemme know!

If you’re running in the 2017 Pittsburgh Marathon events, let me know. Be sure to follow along on my social media – I’ll be using #fitmomintheremaking #pghmarathon and #runpgh with my shares!


Read the rest of this series:

My Half Marathon Journey: Part 1 (March 3)

Read other Pittsburgh Running Blogs through Steff’s linkup: Run Steff Run