Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A weekend in St. Louis Part 2: The Zoo and The St. Louis Science Center

Okay if you missed part one, go here to read about our adventure at City Museum.  When we got back to the hotel late, I was exhausted, but the head cold I had been battling reared it's ugly head and I couldn't breath.  No breathing equals no sleeping.  I had two very big pillows, so was trying to sleep sitting up, but no bueno.  I tried going into the bathroom and running hot water so that steam enveloped the room, which did open up my sinuses, but only for a limited time.  I know I got a few minutes of sleep here and there, but overall, I am betting I got no more than 3 hours of continuous sleep.  Since Tony knew I had had a rough night, he got up and went to breakfast with the family while Andrew and I slept in.  Our goal for the day was the zoo.  Unfortunately, by the time we got up and going and over to the zoo, the entire Forest Park area was FULL of cars, and we sat in bumper to bumper traffic for over an hour and NEVER found any parking.  Well, I take that back, we found one spot, which didn't help since we were in two cars.  We abandoned the zoo idea and headed over to Grant's Farm, which was also VERY FULL.  We just gave up and settled on a BBQ restaurant for lunch and a trip to walgreens for drugs (so I could get some sleep), and a treat for andrew for being so good while we sat in traffic.  Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel for more swimming freezing to death , and an early dinner down on Washington Street.
 Both Andrew and I did not feel great, but we were both making the best of it.  After some pizza for the little man and a beer tasting at a local small brewery (that was not good:(, we headed back to the hotel.  Little man fell asleep as we walked back, so we hit the hay early and watched some tv.  We actually caught Beyonce's Lemonade movie on HBO.  I am still really, really confused.
While I had bought tons of nasal decongestants, I had nothing that was working for the horrible sore throat that I was having thanks to all of the drainage. Night two ended up with me getting very little sleep again.  I finally googled sore throat remedies and found that taking a massive dose of advil works in some cases, and luckily that worked for me that night.  The next morning, we had a nice breakfast at the hotel before packing up and heading out.  Tony was hell bent on us visiting the zoo, but once again, it was completely full by the time we headed over.  At least this time they had signs up BEFORE we got off at the exit warning us.  We decided to try the St. Louis Science Center instead.
Fish bones
Amazing stuff to watch!
This place has something for all ages.  We spent 3 hours there, and still didn't get to do all of the things.  Admission is free, but some of the exhibits and rooms have a fee to get in.  Pay the money and DO them.  You won't be sad that you did.  We built rockets, flew planes, watched tornadoes form, felt an earthquake, built a minion (damn you build a bear), learned to fly like birds, and learned SO much.  Here are some pictures!
Mindball.  Relax your mind to move your ball to your opponent's goal
green screen shots LOL
Minion love

Dig for dinosaur bones and watch real scientists work on real dino bones in the lab next door



I am so glad that we missed the zoo and found this place instead!  While the zoo is cool, we have cool zoos at home, but we don't have cool science museums (unless people of Kansas can tell us where to go)!    After several hours of playing and discovering, we headed back to Kansas.  We got home right before the storms hit luckily!  We are still recovering from our trip but still smiling about the memories:)  We are looking forward to another mini vacation in June to see Mel and Pat get married out in Colorado.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A weekend in St. Louis Part 1: City Museum

We had been planning a long weekend to meet up with Tony's mom in St. Louis.  St. Louis is about 6 hours for us, but only about 4 hours for our relatives in TN, so kind of halfway.  We had taken Andrew to St. Louis when I did my first half marathon in 2013, and we wanted to take him back so he could experience City Museum and the Zoo.  We decided to have very loose plans and find a hotel with an indoor pool, so we could have fun no matter what.  For me, the Type A of the family, this is a very hard concept, well not having plans, I love having fun of course.  I think it worked out very well in the end!  Just for a preface, andrew had had pink eye in one eye and a head cold earlier this week and I came down with pink eye in one eye Thursday before we left with the other eye getting infected Friday.
We started out the trip right with a visit to our local daylight doughnuts for coffee and doughnuts.  As we headed east, I could tell I was getting pink eye in my other eye as well.  Again, as least I already had the drops and Andrew seemed to be over it already.  
This is my "I hate pink eye face"
Oh well, I started on eye drops in the other eye immediately.  I will have to say that andrew was the best he has ever been on a trip this trip.  We stopped a few times to get out and potty, and stretch our legs, but he was content just watching the traffic, singing along with the radio, and talking to me.  We only had to get electronic devices out once, and that was very short lived.  We stopped at a cracker Barrel, and of course little red found a train.  We stopped at a gas station, and you guessed it, little red found a train.  He really has a knack for finding toy trains anywhere, and guess what, I am sucker for buying them!  The hotel was very easy to find in downtown, and had very nice adjacent parking.  Our room was HUGE, but I am so use to staying in tiny dumps for dog shows that I may be easily impressed.
The hotel boasted a heated indoor pool.  Well, the indoor part was right, but the heated part is debatable.  It was tiny, cold, and full at all times, but Andrew LOVED it!  We all took a quick freezing dip to unwind from the car trip, and then got ready to head out to City Museum.  We had taken andrew to City Museum in 2013, and all he could really do at that time was the toddler room.  This year, he could do it all and do it all we did!  The Museum is open late on Friday and Saturday nights, so we spent many hours there playing.  Here are a few of the pics!
Because robots are cool!

This is dark, but you can kind of see the 10 story slide and 5 story slide.  I did the 5 story slide and Tony did the 5 and 10.  Andrew decided no thanks on the 5 story slide
Yep, there is a reason why everyone wears knee pads.  I can't believe the places I climbed, squeezed and slid down. I am hugely afraid of heights and claustrophobic, and I managed to conquer those fears all in one night

This train has a loop that goes through all kinds of cool scenes.  Andrew wasn't tall enough to ride last time we came but this year he was and he rode multiple times!
I still can't believe that I did the things I did, all to keep up with one very fast and very fearless little red head.
I did a ton of army crawling.  I was a sweaty mess after all the crawling, running and squeezing.

Yep, found another train
My favorite part of the museum.  Really cool old vibe.

Little man was tired, but didn't want to leave.
Old school photo booth!
City Museum is the most fun place I have ever been.  I am so glad one of my FB friends mentioned it to us in 2013.  It's eclectic for sure, but so much to explore and play on for kids and adults alike.  We didn't even do the outside play part this time, so we have so much more to explore.  As I have said before, I am amazed at the stuff I did, and I have the bruises to show for it.  At one point, we were in a dark tunnel and I was having to army crawl to fit, and I thought to myself, I am going to have a freaking panic attack.  Luckily, I just couldn't because andrew would be gone and lost in that tunnel system and we would never find him, so I just had to suck it up and go.  To me, this is the highlight of our trip.  Here are a few tips if you haven't been before:

1.  Wear very comfortable clothes that you can climb, crawl, and slide in.  I would say something that stretches and won't tear when you slide down the various surfaces you slide on.  

2.  Bring knee pads.  My knees HATE me even 4 days post going.  You won't feel silly, everyone has them on.

3.  Eat either the homemade chocolate chip cookies or the little fried doughnuts.  YUM!

4.  Be prepared to get separated.  It is very easy to get lost and lose part of your party.  We all had cell phones on, and we wrote our cell phone number on andrew's arm band just in case.  We still lost tony for quite some time after he went down the 10 story slide.

5.  Some of the old school stuff requires money, like real paper money. I did see change machines and I am sure there were ATMs there as well, but just bring it so you can do fun things like the pinball machines and the old school atari games.  

6.  The night we were there, it was HOT inside, so make sure to stay hydrated.  The main cafe had bottled water you could buy, but there were also lots of water fountains.

7.  If you don't like TROVES of kids EVERYWHERE, this isn't the place for you.  I think parents dump kids off by the bus loads.  While we saw several adults having a great time and there were several places to get adult beverages, the majority of the population is young, exuberant children.

8,  Read the website here.  They have lots of great tips and lots of rules that are nice to know before you get there.

Okay, I think that is enough for one post.  Will do another post on Day 2 and 3 of our mini vacation!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Heartland Series Week 14 (Recovery week)

Taking recovery seriously this week.  One more half in the series, plus a 5 K I threw in because i can run with stella.  Here is how the week went down plus running pics from the Garmin!
Amy and I running together.  This pic was taken by her hubby on the course.  This was right before they split us off.

Monday: I really didn't have a plan for this week.  Glad that I didn't actually because Andrew came down with some sort of virus/pink eye/allergy thing.  I ended up taking another day off (hello four day weekend).  The good news was that t-ball was canceled due to rain, but the bad news was I did have things I needed to get done at work.  I decided to do an easy, peasy 3 miler with walk breaks and then head to work.  It wasn't pretty, but we got it done and I headed into town to work.  Glad i got everything done in 4 hours and very glad I have a very understanding boss that will let me do so.  3 miles done.

Dave, Amy's hubby took this and we didn't even know.  Showing off our awesome arm sleeves from Gypsy runner
Tuesday:  Strength and Day 2 of Pinkeye prison.  The doctor (who never gave us an exact diagnosis and I totally understand why) put andrew on eye drops.  I have concluded that putting eye drops that kind of sting in a toddler's eyes is pretty much like pilling a cat.  His eyes are completely white now, so either those drops work really quick or the virus was super short lived, or it was just allergies.  I decided two things today.  One) if andrew isn't contagious after 24 hours, we are busting out of this house and going to do something and Two) I count chasing a 3 year old and carrying a 3 year old all around a big hilly zoo as cross training for the day.  

Coming down the final chute!
Wednesday:   Again no agenda, no plan, but it was a beautiful day and I just kept running.  5 miles with my best girly.  I instituted a walk run plan today, as I am still in recovery mode.  I also had just listened to an amazing podcast on AMR about heart rate training and was greatly intrigued.   My coach doesn't use heart rate training but I am seriously thinking about trying it!
Making faces.  Hope the lady that is in front of me doesn't wonder who the crazy girl is behind her
Thursday:  Woke up with pink eye in my right eye.  Yep, eye was matted completely shut.  Glad I have the eye drops, so I can get on treatment pronto.  So much for thinking I dodged this bullet (and yes, it must be viral pink eye).  I am really, really glad this was a super slow week in the lab and that my boss is okay with me taking off 5 days between my race, my kiddo having pink eye and me having pink eye.  In honor of my stupid eye, I decided to do my long run after I got the house cleaned and laundry done.  I had decided on 8 miles but was at 8.56 when I got close to home, so decided to round it to an even 9.
Crossing the finish line
Friday: Travel day to St. Louis for some family fun.  We had planned a long weekend to meet up with Tony's mom  (andrew calls her grandmama).  We have no plans, but we are hoping to hit up City Museum again and maybe the zoo.  This trip is all about FUN!

Saturday: St. Louis fun

Sunday: St. Louis fun and drive back to home.

Total miles for the week: 17 nice easy recovery miles

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Gypsy Runner Gear Review

Okay before i start this post, how beautiful is this?  Okay I know, my definition of beautiful is odd, but I sure do love puffy clouds and rural roads.  
 I have been meaning to do a post about Gypsy Runner, but now that I loaded up on gear from her from the Garmin Half/Full, I can tell you about some of my new favorite products and pass on a little discount to you!  I finally got to test run the new to me compression shorts in the Cosmos design and the new tank with the runner girl + dog.  Let's start with the shorts!
Those who know me, know that I am a big dog nerd, BUT those who know me well know I am a HUGE space geek. While I did get the capris in the dog paw theme to match my arm warmers, I had to get the shorts in Cosmos print!  These shorts are compressive and wicking, and are a blend of 80% polyester and 20% spandex.  The come in either 7 inch or 9 inch inseams and they run true to size.  The real reason I LOVE these shorts??????  DOUBLE POCKETS!
This is my Iphone 5S in an otterbox case.  The phone fits comfortably inside the pocket and DOES NOT BOUNCE!  
The phone fits snuggly all the way down into the pocket, but I wanted to leave a little sticking out so you could see.  I really thought I would have issues with my phone bouncing but nope, no issues.  I love my running belt, but this is a game changer for sure!  I can't wait to do a long run and see how much crap I can fit in these pockets.  With two, I am betting a whole bunch!  AND, the capris also have two pockets.  Better yet, Gypsy runner also makes the pants with double pockets if you are more into pants.  Right now, Gypsy runner has a sale on the Safari design in the capris and shorts for the next two days 20/21 of April.  If you use the code safari you can get 10 dollars off at checkout!
AND the burnout tanks like the one I wear all the time are on sale for $20!  Gypsy runner custom made one for me with three dogs on it!  Super cute! They come in tons of colors and designs and all ship for 6 bucks USPS!  Or check Gypsyrunner out at a running expo coming near you!  
Let's talk about this tank.  It isn't available online yet because I am testing it out, as are many other runners and giving feedback.  I ran today when it was about 67 degrees out and pretty humid, and I had no issues with chaffing at all!  I never felt overheated and I felt like it covered my girls adequately.  The material is super soft and comfortable.
Look at the back details!  Gypsy runner has so many designs but the dog themed ones have my
 I love the fact that the tank is flowy at the bottom, not hugely fitted.  The burnouts are pretty fitted, so I went up a size or two just to get a size I felt comfortable with.  I have rolls, so I don't really like showcasing them, but this tank doesn't do that.  Yet, it isn't so flowy that i couldn't wear it to a yoga session and it stay put.  I can't wait to get this tank in lots of colors and designs (well mainly the dog designs for me!).  
Before I close this post, don't forget about the SUPER cute cover skirts that Gypsy runner carries.  I have the black and white dog paw themed skirt as well as the sugar skulls skirt.  
What I like best about these skirts??? They are cover skirts, so you can wear them over your favorite pair of compression shorts.  I have yet to find a skirt that has shorts that stay down on my fat thighs, but with the cover skirt, no worries!  I wear shorts that i know are comfortable and don't ride up under them.  Plus Gypsy runner has TONS of colors in their skirts so you could even find a cute fun color to go with your skirt!
So there you have it!  Go visit today!  Amy is SUPER helpful if you have a question and keeps the gypsy runner facebook page regularly updated.  She will also let you know what Expos she will be at so you can shop in store or should I say in booth.  She has so many cute products including decals, hats, arm warmers, and sweatshirts so take a look!  My van may or may not be covered in her decals:)  Tell her Runs with Reds sent you!  I promise, you won't be disappointed!


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Garmin Half Marathon Race Report (2nd race in the Heartland Series)

After a very cautious week of running (three runs again with the race being the third).  I was really excited to see the new route and have for once, good weather. The past two years that i have done this race included hail both times and a horrible thunderstorms complete with wind and lightening.  Read about my previous experiences here and here and here (last year is a two parter due to us having to make an emergency trip to TN and back to KS).

I think any time a race is new or is in a new location, there will be hiccups.  The new RD did a great job of sending out numerous emails on parking and even videos on the FB page that seemed to be updated multiple times a day some days.  I love that, it gets me motivated to do the race and excited about the race!

Mel and I headed down to the expo friday afternoon and were shocked that it had almost doubled in size.  Of course Gypsy runner was there, one of my favorite running gear gurus, so we tried on tons of her clothes and made a few purchases.

I got a new pair of compression shorts that are cosmos themed and a pair of compression capris with dog paws. 

 I am also going to try a new tank with new material for her as well.  I also purchased a new bondi band.  While I am trying to get on board with wearing them, I am not entirely convinced that I like them as much as my running hats. They are great on windy days when I can't wear a hat and here lately that has been oh, pretty much every day.  
After getting all of our stuff, we headed out to a dinner of pasta at the garden of olives.  Got to carb load!!!! We needed to get in bed early due to the fact that we were warned that parking might be an issue, and that we needed to be parked by 5:45 AM. Of course any time someone says you HAVE to go to sleep, I am wide awake.  So, after a fitful night of tossing and turning and even a stomach ache, I got up around 4:30 am, but made myself lay in bed till 5.  We had gotten all of our clothes ready the night before, and gotten our gear laid out and bagged up, so getting ready was quick.  After a short drive over, and one full parking lot, we were parked near the start finish line and ready to go.  Thank goodness it wasn't very cold this weekend as opposed to last weekend. 

I was really concerned about the porta potty situation, but thankfully, there were plenty.  They even had them roped off, so each line had 4 porta pots to fill up.  I used them multiple times pre race, and never had to wait more than 5 or more minutes.  Let's just say that the problem I had last week before RTPW was not an issue this time. I downed my UCAN and got in the start area ready to rock.   This race has no corral system or wave system but I think it is big enough now that it for sure needs it!  I honestly had no plan, other than to run with my good friend Gypsy Runner AKA Amy.  She was doing the full and was looking at staying with or ahead of the 4:30 pace group, and that sounded good to me.  We lined up with the 4:30/2:15 pacers or as close to them as we could get.  

A little note, I drank my UCAN about 45 minutes pre race and had visited the porta pots several times post-drinking.  I felt like the issue I had at RTPW i.e. having to pee would be a non issue.  Well after starting, about a mile in, my bladder told me otherwise.  This has now happened every race I have used UCAN before, including the Chicago marathon.  While I love the energy UCAN gives me, and the fact that I don't have to fuel but once during a half, I DO NOT LIKE having to stop to go to the bathroom.  It kills my time and I will never be able to PR with this problem.  I love the lack of sugar I have to take in, but I don't love having to sprint to catch up with the group again post potty break. 

I was lucky this time a porta pot was open when I got to it, and i only wasted about 2 minutes.  It took me about a mile to catch back up with Amy, but I managed to do it.  We ran together till she had to split off around mile 11 to hit the trail for the rest of the full, while I headed back to the hotel/finish area.  Overall, the course was pretty hilly and challenging, but fun.  We had full sun for some time, so I did stop at pretty much every aid station for water.  I wanted to play it safe and not dehydrate.  About mile 10 or so, the clouds came back and so did the wind, but it was welcomed because it cooled us down.  

 We were all smiles at the end for sure.  Super cute BIG medal, lots of post race food and BEER!  We had noticed that the traffic was quite backed up of people trying to get out of the parking areas, so we headed back over to the expo to rest and get medals engraved and our finisher's certificate.
 We were both pretty spent.  That course was tough, and we were feeling it. After much water, rest, and stretching, we headed back over to Mel's mother in law's house to shower and eat lunch.

Overall, I am very pleased that the new RD moved the race. The course was a challenge, but who wants a super easy course?  RTPW is pretty flat and perfect for a big PR if that is what you are after.  I LOVED the bigger expo and the fact that we could come back into the hotel post race and hang out.  If I could consume beer post running, I sure would have, because they had several options, as well as food to eat that included chicken sandwiches.  They had many nice places for finished runners to sit and imbibe or stand and imbibe.  Not going to lie, the parking was a mess, but I have noticed that the RD is going to explain why this was an issue when it was clearly marked that it wouldn't be.  While I had no where to be post race and could hang out, I know there where those that needed to go to work, or get on the road to get home.  Many have posted some pretty bad reviews and while they have every right to be mad and honest, I think some of the reviews are pretty harsh.  Having been witness to what the RD for Wicked goes through every year just to put on a race, I am never going to criticize an RD and their decisions ever again.  There are so many variables that an RD has to go through including working with the city the race is in and the PD and volunteers.   For that reason, the Garmin RD and race for that matter earned much respect from me.  I look forward to next year and now the decision to NOT do the Heartland Series just became super hard:)