No one wears a glowing baby bump better than this mama-to-be. I can not believe they are on number four, but they should be! They make some beautiful babies ūüôā Thank you K family for having me along your journey since baby bump #1, can not wait to meet #4!

~Gina

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Week 6 was lower mileage then last and I really welcomed that. I tried to literally stop and enjoy all the flowers along the way.

If you missed last week check it out here. This is the link to the Tone It Up daily workouts and the Yoga With Adrienne videos.

Monday was an easy three miles, Tone It Up Daily workout, and Yoga With Adrienne Feel Alive video. P I N this to pinterest

Tuesday was 5 miles and between the weather and the sun I felt amazing, and somehow pulled off my first under 8 min mile and had some negative splits. Did the Tone It Up daily workout as well.

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Wednesday: Rest!

Thursday: 3 miles, Tone It Up and Yoga With Adrienne.

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Friday: Last day of hills! Week seven starts speed training instead. I did do them on the treadmill since it was windy and I hate wind. The thought of running up hill against wind made me cringe. I ran five hills, quarter mile each with a quarter mile in between. Tone it Up Daily as well. I love this sticker I found for motivation. Plus it was fitting since we were literally training to chase a unicorn this week to try the Starbucks Unicorn Frappe. Everywhere was sold out.

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Saturday: Rest!

Sunday: I was supposed to run a 5k race. Since I did not sign up for anything I decided to just run a 5k at a pace I would a race. I wanted to stay under 8min. Well Saturday night consisted of Chinese food, champagne and laughing until midnight with a friend, so i am shocked I actually pulled off this time. It was so hard, but finishing at that pace gave me a little more confidence about my goal.  The rest of the day was celebrating our 12 year anniversary!

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This year was my third Shamrock Shuffle 8K and I at the current moment have no intention of missing this race any year soon. This race in 2015 was the reason I started running. I was convinced by friends it was a fun run, and it really was. The crowds and spectators are all along the course, and the runners are all out there having a great time like it is one big party. I love the course so much, and it amazes me every year the parts of the city I get to see running by on the streets. The Willis Tower, State Street, Financial District , and the river. I also love that the race starts a little later in the am then the marathon and hot chocolate and the road closures are not as bad as those races. So it is easier to get to.

If you are looking for a Chicago race without a huge distance commitment, do this one. The race is 8k which is 4.97 miles. It flies by because you are so preoccupied with the sites and spectators.

This race was especially special for me because the kids were there. In the past, it seemed like a hassle to bring them down for the marathon or Hot Chocolate. Plus it is a lot of walking and waiting. This race is perfect time wise and close enough to find a good spot and hang out. It meant so much to have them there and see that at any age you can start something new and have big dreams and goals.

I ran this race for time.My goal was anything faster than my 2016 time of 41:54 (2015 time was over 50 minutes) and keep about the  pace of what I hope to run the marathon in October.  I am starting to realize I have a thing with having to beat my last race time. I am going to have to eventually get over this, lol. I have decided though, due to my mentality, not to sign up for any more races until the Chicago Marathon. I need to focus on that and only that for here on out.

Flat Gina ready the night before. I never sleep well before a race.

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I felt great at the start. I had friends running as well. So it was motivating to now after we were going to have some fun.

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The Spectators! P I N this to pinterest

I love that the kids, Tom, Parker and Marisa were at mile four. It was needed for that last push. I ended up running this entire race with a side cramp. One of my worst case scenarios. I never seem to be able recover when I get one on a practice run. I kept telling myself to push through and it was not that long, I could handle the pain and it would be over as soon as I finish. The start of the race was more crowded then I remember and I felt like I was dodging in and out of other runners for a while. Maybe why I got the cramp since I did not get a good breathing rhythm to start?

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Here are two pro photos that I liked the best. The left I obviously noticed the camera and the right I must have been trying to breath through the cramp. How funny is it that I am pretty sure that photo on the left is right at the end during that horrible hill on Roosevelt. The image on the right was most likely before that. I was keeping an eye on my pace and I know how wacky a GPS can get in the city so I kept my pace on my Garmin around 7:30 and would not let myself go slower than 8:20. Again, I knew this was not accurate but at least I was going faster than what my goal was according to my  Garmin.

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Jackie,Kevin and Pat passing mile 4 for high fives! Jackie is a true running BA. She has ran Boston and coaches cross country.

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I learned quickly to grab as many water bottles and snacks as I can after a race. Especially when you have hangry kids waiting at the end.

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After I was done, Tom and the kids were still cheering and my friend Laura and I met up. She took me into the VIP Bank of America tent. You guys! This place was heated, with a bar, and a buffet! At that point could not think of eating sadly, but I happily chatted with Laura and had a class of pinot. (Laura…didn’t some guy take a picture of us there? I was hoping it would be in the race photos, next time we need to take our own ūüėČ )

We did it!The sun was out and it was a gorgeous day.

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Champagne and pizza at Parlor  (Cheesus, Mary, and Joseph, and Brussel Shuffle, yum!) with friends was a must. Not only did a beat my time from 2016, I was sub 40. That is an 8:01 average pace which if you told me in 2014 I was going to start running and someday run an 8 minute mile during an 8k I would have laughed at you so hard.

Sadly the kids were overtired and over hungry at this point so after we were all ready to head back. But not without…P I N this to pinterestDESSERT! Kevin and I have been dying to get here ever since we discovered it on IG. And it was worth the wait. Delicious rich hot chocolate covered with marshmallow fluff, caramel and chocolate sauce, sprinkles of yumminess and a donut. Because. Bombobar is a Chicago must for their hotter chocolate. ¬†P I N this to pinterest

Do you love the Shamrock Shuffle? Tell me your favorite parts of the race or memories.

This race completed week 3/30 for the Chicago Marathon training.

This week I missed a run on both Monday and Tuesday. I did run Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with a weekly milage of 21 miles including the Shuffle. I ran hills on the treadmill Wednesday, 4 quarter mile hills, and speed trained Friday doing a half a mile at a 9:13 pace then half a mile at 7:53 alternating for six miles on the treadmill. I am following Hal Higdon’s 30 week plan and this week should have had a milage of 22 ish so I was close to my total, just crammed it into 4 days instead of six. I felt good but know it is time to incorporate more weight training. I do yoga at least five times a week. I love Yoga with Adrienne. She has a video for every time, feeling, physical need, emotional need…she has something for whatever you need.

For those of you who do not know, I am training for the Chicago Marathon to Boston qualify. Hopefully. This means I need to shave more than 45 minutes off last years marathon time. Judging by my February half marathon time and the pace from the Shuffle, it is possible. With hard work and focus, but possible. I am so grateful for all of you who ask and are supportive of my little hobby. I am going to try to do a weekly recap on the blog of my training. I know how annoying it is to see every run or workout someone does for some people on social media, so I will promise not to do that. Those who want to see can check the blog for my weekly recap. I do love nothing more than this running community, so please share your blog or social media handle so I can follow and cheer you on. Support  and cheerleaders are so important with running and any kind of training/goal achieving.

 

Mr. L got to be out first one year old to celebrate his first birthday with a cake smash photo session styled by Sweet Lulu in Frankfort and a cake baked by Whipped and Frosted! We love this exciting new collaboration with businesses in the area to make birthday photo sessions so much less stressful. You just have to show up! No stressing over buying decor, picking up a cake, ¬†and pinning ideas. We take care of it all ūüôā Book your cake smash styled session by emailing Amy@GinaCristinePhotography.Com

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Although my time in Walt Disney World was short (I honestly don’t ever leave without wishing I had more time), I was excited for what the second part of this trip had in store for me. ¬† I was at a Universal Studios Orlando Training with co workers I had I never met. ¬†Crazy, I know! As most of you may already know, besides being the one to schedule your beloved family sessions I started on another path. ¬†I have been working with Mouse Made Simple for a year now and it has truly been amazing. ¬†It is based out of Ohio with agents all over making it tricky to get together.
Again, these pictures were taken with my phone so they may not be the greatest.
I am an avid Disney fan and always have been. ¬†I think having two girls brought it out even more in me (and Pete). ¬†Working with this company for a trip was awesome and I instantly knew it was something I wanted to and could do…and the journey began.
Fast forward a bit and after countless hours of online training, reading and researching, I am a certified Disney vacation planner. ¬†I don’t just plan all things Disney but have decided to expand into cruises, all inclusive, Universal and much more. ¬†So when the opportunity came about to go to a training and learn as much as I possibly could about Universal Orlando, it was a no brainer for me. ¬†What was even better is that it piggy backed onto a trip I already had planned and I could tell my kids I was going for work. ¬†ūüėČ

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Day one of training was a Sunday afternoon that I arrived at the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort.  BEAUTIFUL!  We had a meet and greet going over what the next few days had in store for us, toured our resort, followed by some park time.  Then we headed off to get ready to participate in the Mardi Gras Parade at Universal Park.  What a fun experience!  Did you know that anyone can participate?  It was a blast and totally recommend it.  I may have hit a few people with some beads (sorry Stacey) but by the end I was a pro. P I N this to pinterest

Day 2 of training was some classroom time where we learned so much.  Information overload to say the least.  Great information about the packages and all the different things that Universal Studios Park and Isles of Adventure have to offer, and not to mention the new Volcano Bay water park opening up the end of May.  And City Walk is amazing with so many great places to eat or hang out at.
That afternoon we headed out for resort tours.  We got to see all that the different resorts offer, rooms, pools and much more.
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P I N this to pinterestLoews Royal Pacific Р has an amazing tropical feel.

P I N this to pinterestUniversal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort – with the amazing retro vibe that brings you back to the Brady Bunch.

P I N this to pinterestHard Rock Hotel – an awesome mix of fun and rock n’ roll.

P I N this to pinterestLoews Portofino Bay Hotel Рmakes you feel like you are in Italy when on the property.  The Minions family suite could not be cooler!

P I N this to pinterestP I N this to pinterestThe resort tours were so beneficial.  It gave me a great understanding of what would be a great match when talking with clients about what they are looking for.
Resort tours were finished off with an amazing dinner at Universal’s City Walk. ¬†P I N this to pinterestDay 3 was a busy and fun day. ¬†We started out having breakfast at Three Broomsticks, followed by a VIP tour of Universal Park and Isles of Adventure. ¬†If you are wanting to get to do almost all that the parks have to offer, the VIP tour is outstanding! ¬†Not only do you¬†completely skip the lines, but having a fantastic tour guide to tell you all kinds of information that you otherwise would not have known was great too. We got to experience just about everything the parks have to offer. ¬†All of you Harry Potter fans would be amazed. ¬†The details are spot on from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade and the Hogwarts Express. ¬†It is truly amazing and is really something to see. ¬†The realness of everything is so magical. ¬†Another benefit of the VIP tour…not having to stop at the lockers before going on the ride. ¬†ūüėČ

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It truly was an amazing experience and I am beyond grateful to be able to learn so much.  I feel like I have such a great understanding of Universal Studios, Isles of Adventure, City Walk and coming soon Volcano Bay along with the beautiful resorts.  Finish off a day at the park at one of the great dining options and a show at the Hard Rock or even Blue Man Group.  It truly has something for everyone and I am happy to assist or answer any questions you may have.

P I N this to pinterestP I N this to pinterestI feel truly blessed to have such amazing family and friends to support and promote this path.  Special thanks to my best friend Gina.  She is the amazingly talented owner/photographer of Gina Cristine Photography that I also work for.  I would not be where I am today without them all, especially my super supportive husband.  I am also blessed to have made some new friendships and I am looking forward to the adventures ahead.
If you have any travel questions, I am happy to assist.  Wanting to go away but not sure where to begin with the planning???  Contact me at Amy.Kovacs@MouseMadeSimple.com.  I have already had the pleasure of planning some amazing trips for some pretty awesome GCP clients and brides and look forward to working with more of you that I have been scheduling sessions for.

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Part one of our Disney trip and Gina’s recap of the Disney Princess Half Marathon can be found here.