Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Only HALF Crazy... Part 2- My Half Marathon

March 5, 2016 
"I can do ALL thing through Christ who gives me strength".- Philippians 4:13

It's a GREAT day to run 13.1 miles!

It was 4:45AM and I was wide awake just praying and pondering on what the next few hours would hold. My alarm began ringing and I got out of bed quickly so I could get in the shower and get ready to go and run the 13.1 miles I had been training and preparing for since June 2015. I had all of my clothes, accessories and running supplies laid out in the living room and I was ready to persevere to greatness.

My parents had come down from Tyler the night before and they were up and at-em and ready to go before Chris and I were. We got Chris and my parents some breakfast and protein since they would be the "cheering section" and following me around and cheering me on during my run. We were out the door and headed to the race site by 5:30AM.

We made it to the Tinseltown Movie Theater parking lot by 5:40AM and just like 2015 when Chris ran his full marathon, we were too early and just sat in the car for a few minutes. Around 6:00AM we got out so I could get to the porta-potty before a massive crowd arrived. The course starting line was laid out a little differently this year so what we thought was a close parking spot to the starting line was actually a hike. Because of this, after we got done with the restroom we went back to the car to get all of my stuff so I would not have to walk back to the car yet again as we waited for the event to start.

The OFFICIAL "before" picture!

We got all of my needed supplies and headed back towards the corrals. I knew I needed to get off of my feet as much as possible so we found a bench near Market Street to sit on while the time passed. As the minutes passed we saw the corrals begin to get full so Chris advised me to use the restroom once more as the line would be long... which it was at 6:25AM. I HATE Porta-pottys and these were the worst as everyone was just GROSS, but I did it and that "hard" part was over! I didn't know which was worse; the fear of the race or the fear of having to use a porta-potty!

A picture of the staring line (Half on the left, Full on the right) taken from a drone at 6:50AM.

If you look closely on the bottom left you can see Chris and my parents... Mom is wearing a grey and pink jacket. 

Around 6:45AM Chris, my parents and I said one last prayer before I would get into my Corral.  I got into my Corral E and started to put on my armband and take off my light jacket. Chris gave me a final pep-talk and kiss and I was ready. The nerves and the butterflies were at all time highs at this point and I was tearing up just thinking about the "What-if's" and other things were running through my head. I could barely hear the Star Spangled Banner but I knew it was playing as people outside of the corrals in the spectator areas had their hands over their hearts. I knew it was almost time to get this thing started and I was really freaking out!

I'm here... LET'S DO THIS! 

I've got all of my stuff and I am ready to go! 

Chris being the AMAZING and supportive husband throughout this all! 

Chris giving me one last pep-talk before the race started! 

After that was over I turned my music onto none other than the song "Great is thy Faithfulness", This song and these words have literally gotten me through EVERY hard time and trial in my life and I knew I needed it once again. I only had 1 goal... To FINISH! I did want to try to beat 3:30 but I knew all that mattered was crossing the finish line and I knew I needed JESUS to get me there!  As the song came to a close I found myself walking to the starting line and running past the gate. Within minutes the butterflies were gone and I was running in a Half Marathon.

The starting line... just waiting for me to cross over! 

There I am... I was crying as I crossed over just listening to "Great is thy Faithfulness".
"Strength for TODAY and bright hopes for tomorrow. Great is thy Faithfulness Lord unto me" 

I am now ready to tackle these crazy miles.

I made the 1st few turns to get me onto Research Forest Dr where I would spend the next 4+ miles. I made it to the 1st water stop at mile 1.25 with no issues and an incredibly good time... Maybe too good as I was coming in under 12:00/ per mile. Within feet I saw Chris and my parents cheering me on at what would be 1 of 8 stops where they found me and cheered for me along the way. They were so supportive and if it weren't for them I may not have had the motivation and determination to finish! Thank you ALL so much!

TWO miles down... 11+ to go! I think I can, I think I can! 

Mile 2
This is a great picture and captures my true feelings, emotions and literal pain! 

It was around mile 2 that I began to feel my left leg and especially hip start to hurt real bad. It felt like a joint was giving out or something. The pain was increasing with every mile and I was really hurting by the time I turned onto Kuykendahl Rd at mile 5.5. Luckily Chris, Mom and Dad were there at each and every mile along Research Forest Drive giving me words of encouragement and helping me push through the pain.

Chris, along with my parents, cheering me along the way. This was around mile 4-5. 

Coming in on mile 4... I was really staring the feel the pain at this point. 

Around mile 7 I lost the pacing team that would have a 3:00 final time. Again, I didn't really have a GOAL, except to cross the Finish Line, but I did want to beat 3:30 for sure and I led myself to believe that after 7 miles of keeping pace with the 3:00 team I could finish in under 3 hours but at mile 7 they passed me and that dream vanished. It was here too that as I saw Chris and my parents again, and I was feeling a lot of pain and tension in my legs and hips especially. I was able to see the Elite leader and Kenyan of the Full Marathon pass by me at this point too. This was kinda cool and depressing at the same time. He was on mile 19 and I was on mile 7... He was going strong and I was about to pass out! Good times! 

Here I came... up those Kuykendahl hills around Mile 7. 

I was about to turn directly into the sun so Chris gave me my sunglasses and I got an extra pack of GU for the next 5+ miles. I was feeling AWFUL at this point and honestly just wanted to QUIT... But I just kept on pushing! 

As I turned on to Kuykendahl and knew only 4-5 miles remained I began to start walking more and more and the pain in my hips had now moved to my knees, calves and even feet. At this point I felt like I had thousands of blisters on my feet and each and every step was burning with pain. I remember there was a lot of moaning and groaning around these miles and people around me kept looking at me as I would groan in pain or sigh really loud. I didn't expect Chris and my parents to be able to find another location to stop and cheer me on before the finish line but much to my surprise there they were around mile 9.75. This was a true God send as I was really struggling and needed a little push. The random people who would give me a "you got this girl" or "keep pushing" were great but seeing your loved ones was priceless. 

Coming up on mile 9.75 and seeing my family as a surprise! 

I could barely make it to the pit stop for my water... I was worn out! Just over 3 miles to go and I was not sure I would be able to RUN anymore. 

I walked away from that pit stop and really began to slow down!

As I saw the "Mile 10" sign I knew that I had to push through no matter the pain and no matter the cost. I tried walking but my legs and feet hurt so much it did not matter if I was walking or jogging so I decided to try to get this misery over with SOONER rather than later so I just tried to jog as much as I could. I did a lot of "run to that light post then walk" but it worked for me and I only slowed down about 15-30 seconds per mile the last 3 miles but oddly enough my 11th mile was my FASTEST! There was an older gentleman who was crippled and a few pregnant women who passed me and that was enough determination and motivation to keep me jogging to finish ahead of them... And I did! 

I came up to the populous part of The Woodlands and the last 1 mile and I really tried to run as fast as I could to get to the finish line. Oddly enough, "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey came on my earbuds and I knew I could push through. Besides a wise old runner once told me "When you run, you run and when you're done... YOU'RE DONE"! All I wanted at that moment was to be done so I just pushed and pushed. I ran along the trolley path to the finish line and saw Chris and heard my family cheering for me. I had "Great is thy Faithfulness" playing once again as I came closer and closer to the finish line. I pulled out one earbud to hear the announcer say "And Half Marathon Finisher, Kellie Davis from Conroe". What a GLORIOUS feeling that was and one I will NEVER forget! I immediately gave God the glory as I crossed the finish line, knowing I could not have done it without the strength from Him. 

Coming up the trolley path to the finish line!

Just yards away from crossing that finish line. 

I crossed the finish line and immediately said a prayer of thanksgiving to Jesus for helping make it through those 13.1 miles. I could not have done it without the strength He provided me along the way. I finished with a Gun time of 3:09 and an OFFICIAL chip time of 3:05! 

The pain, agony an joy on my face tells my story! 

Thank You Jesus for helping me get through this! 


 I loved being able to use RunKeeper and UP aps to track my mileage, calories burned and even steps! HELLO 31K steps! 

The run began with 48* and ended with 66*... Perfect weather and I am praising God for this perfect day! 

I received my AWESOME medal and headed towards my family. Chris stopped my RunKeeper and helped me make my way to the food and beverage tent. I was exhausted but still had the most amazing feeling in the world. I got my plate of protein and carbs, Raising Canes Chicken and cookies, and sat in the grassy lawn while my family guarded me from the sun as I was already a little sunburnt from the 3 hours in the sun. I grabbed my shirt and took a few more pictures but at this point all I wanted was to go home, shower and lay down. 

I did it! Crossing this off my Bucket List now! 

I love (and so greatly appreciate) my daddy ALWAYS being there for me!
No matter the event! I love you Daddy!

My favorite signs along the way
Obviously, those made by MY family were my ALL-TIME Favorites! 
  1. Run Kellie Run 
  2. You Can Do it Mommy! 
Others I liked

  • All of this for a FREE Banana 
  • Run Random Stranger Run 
  • You thought they said Rum, didn't you? 
  • If Britney Spears can get through 2007, you can get through this
  • Don't worry, you won't feel your feet AT ALL tomorrow 
  • Just think... You paid GOOD money to do this 
  • Smile if you peed a little 
  • Run like you stole something 
  • On a Scale of 1-10, You're a 13.1 
  • Keep Going, Keep Going (That's what she said) 
The random encouragement from the strangers, police officers and water station workers along the way really helped me and made me feel special. I tried to be sure and thank each and every police officer who was stopping traffic along the way and the workers, both young and old, handing out water and Gatorade at each station. They helped me push through and I will never forget that! 

We made our way home and I got an ice bath and Epsom salt bath all while the kids and my parents ate lunch and got showered themselves. It was a AWESOME morning filled with amazing achievements and I will NEVER forget that feeling of crossing the finish line. I do not know if I will ever run in a Half Marathon again but oddly enough I am not going to say I will NEVER run it again! You just never know! I do know that THIS is MY MARATHON... Meaning I will NEVER run MORE than a Half! No Full Marathons for me! 

I think the training was harder than the actual run and as tired, exhausted and sore as I was/ am after it was all over, I think the feeling I get from achieving something like this is worth the pain and agony in the long run (Ha... not pun intended)! 

I am so grateful to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for helping me get through these 13.1 miles and giving me this opportunity! Plus Chris and my parents who were the best cheering section EVER. They cheered me on so many times that OTHER RUNNERS were recognizing them too! Thank y'all so much! Dan and Jackie, my in-laws, also took care of the kids for us on Friday night and even brought them to the finish line to cheer me on too! I am blessed beyond measure with the best family and support system a girl could ask for! 

It was hard... It was painful... There was blood, sweat and tears (LOTS OF THEM) but I conquered those 13.1 miles and am better because of it! Once again, thank You, Jesus for giving me yet another opportunity to TRUST YOU! 

God is good... ALL THE TIME! 

This isn't your Grandaddy's Cruise... Oh Wait, It Is- Belize

Anniversary Cruise 2016- Caribbean Princess

You Betta Belize It
Belize City, Belize
Thursday, March 17, 2016
This would be our 2nd trip to Belize and we have fallen in love BOTH times. The waters are crystal clear off the shore, despite the Latin meaning of Belize being “Muddy Waters”. The waters near shore are in fact muddy but off shore they are absolutely stunning. Belize is an actual country just southeast of Mexico but has hundreds of islands surrounding it making it an amazing vacation destination. You Betta Belize It… and we do!

We woke up to an announcement being made by the Captain. My first instinct was to sit up quickly and make sure everything was OK. We were in an inside cabin and it was pitch black so I had no idea what time it was after all. “Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen and Welcome to Belize. We have released our anchor and will begin the tender process shortly”. That was a wonderful announcement to hear and it meant that it was after 7AM ship time.

Yeah... my face is still BRIGHT RED and hurts! 

Chris got up and went to the promenade deck to do his usual 3 miles of jogging while I got ready and went to take pictures of the other ships dropping anchor outside of Belize City. Belize is port that has very shallow waters surrounding it so ALL ships are required to travel a certain route into its channel and then “Drop Anchor” about 5 miles offshore. This means that a tender process will take passengers to and from shore. These tenders are local boats that carry anything form 50-350 passengers from each boat. This process can be a hassle and even a nightmare but I thoroughly enjoy riding in a small boat and catching the waves to the shore. Plus it makes for outstanding pictures of the island/ port visiting as well as the ship itself. Do be advised that most cruise lines have a "tender ticket" process which means you have to get a tender ticket to get on the tender. Most shore excursions will have automatic tender tickets but if you are just exploring on your own you will have to go and get a ticket. 

As I walked around the promenade I saw Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas already anchored just west of us and I saw 3 other ships in the far distance approaching. After nearly an hour we saw the Oceana Riviera and AIDAluna anchored as well. This meant that over 10,000 passengers would soon be on land at Belize City and it was going to be a mad house.

Some of the outer islands in Belize... Absolutely Gorgeous!

Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas- Will she be our next ship (Spring Break 2017)?
Is it our Destiny?

Liberty of the Seas (A Freedom class ship) is the largest ship to ever sail out of Galveston and the 7th largest in the world. 

During its Winter 2015-2016 dry-dock the Liberty OS got 3 new water slides and is currently the only Royal Caribbean ship to have slides. 

The Oceana Riviera, sailing from Miami, FL, making her approach from the "one man channel" to enter Belize.

The AIDAluna ship in port this day.

The Swan Hellenic My Minerva... We are not sure where she came from!
This is the smallest, carrying only 450 passengers, and most international ship we have seen in a port. 

We went to breakfast to let the majority of the passengers get to the tenders so there would not be a large crowd. We opted for the breakfast buffet again today since it was so good yesterday. It turns out that you can have a specialty omelet made at the buffet line and then have it delivered to your table by a waiter. This was a HUGE plus for us because on Carnival and Royal Caribbean you must continue to wait in line for your omelet to be made at the buffet. This was a perfect way to get a made-to-order omelet and have it delivered. Once again, we were HIGHLY impressed with the Princess buffet lines.

We decided to head to the Island Dining Room to get our tender tickets around 9AM thinking that since 2 hours had passed since the 1st tender there would be a lighter crowd. It was still crowded but we were able to get on the next tender which held nearly 100 people. I got on and planned to take pictures of the ship thinking I was sitting at the back and it turned out I was sitting at the front. I was not able to get the best pictures but I would try again on the return trip.

The Captain of our Tender Boat.

The "Cruise Terminal" area of downtown Belize City!
Notice the change in the color of the water as you approach shore. 

We got off in Belize City and put on sunscreen (my face was still really hot and red) and found a restroom before starting to explore the city. We are taking our kids on a cruise this Christmas on the Carnival Liberty that comes to Belize so we wanted to scout out the city and see what all they had to offer and possible shore excursion options for our kids. We decided to take a “City Tour” with a local who drove us around the city. This was very interesting as Belize is a Third World Country and it was obvious during this trip. He took us to the richer parts of the city and showed us $500,000 homes as well as his actual house which was worth %.01 of that I’m sure. After taking this tour I now know that this is not a location (the city that is) I would take my kids to and do an actual tour of the city, as they would be bored. But this is also not a city I want to bring my kids to in general. Belize City gets a label of “unsafe”, which I would agree with, but at the same time the passengers from the 5 ships in port could walk around safely without any issues. Belize City was not near as bad as Jamaica but it was still a Third World Country. I sat in the car thinking “Thank You Jesus for my house and my home.” And this is bad but I was also thinking “Thank You Lord for not calling me into missions”, as this is something I do not think I could actually do!The tour lasted about 1.5 hours and was only $20 so it is a great deal if you want to see the actual city and its inner parts away from the tourist area.

Welcome to Belize City

Just like the other Caribbean Islands, the locals are "CRAY CRAY"! 

I am so thankful we were able to see the REAL BELIZE sign.
This is 4-5 miles from the terminal and only reachable by car, but well worth the trip! 

The much smaller sign at the cruise terminal area. 

The Maurion Jones (Olympic Track Star) Sports Complex.
This is really fancy for a Third World Country like Belize. 

One of the $500,000 homes in Belize. 

Another very nice home. 

Prime Minister's house. 

I find it interesting that there is a Ballet studio in downtown Belize. 

We learned that locals can sell food from stands and not have to pay any taxes on the food. There were lots of food stands in the city. 

After our tour we walked around the shops near the tender terminal and got some great souvenirs for us and our kids. We then tried to do FaceTime with our kids via Wi-Fi but were not able to get a hold of them. We messed around with this for a while but eventually got in line as we wanted to beat the rush to get on a tender back to the boat. However, there was already a long line forming to wait for the 12:30PM tender. Unfortunately this line was in the sun so I found a large folded map of Belize and used it (along with my hat) as a shade to help protect me face, neck and arms from yet another sunburn. While we were in line I just gave in and called my kids for 2:58 to be sure they were OK. I do not know why I did this as usually we go a whole 7 days without talking to them but when we left Natalie was sick and then my mom who was taking care of them sprain her ankle the day before we left so I was a little worried. We talked to them and within the 3 minutes they talked on the phone more than they ever have so it was a success.

We got on the next tender and got an upper deck seat so I could take the pictures of the ship. This was an incredible 20 minute/ 5 mile ride back to our home away from home. I just love this ride… Not the tender process but the ride itself is AWESOME.

A must do Tender Selfie!

All 4 major ships anchored in Belize- Caribbean Princess, Liberty of the Seas, Riviera and AIDAluna (In order left to right) 

The Caribbean Princess anchored in Belize. 

At first I was not a fan of how the back of the ship looks... but it is growing on me!

I DO like the SkyWalkers NightClub providing so much shade over the aft area. 

Let's be honest... Any ship is a beauty! 

The Caribbean Princess. 

We're home... for 3 more days! 

We got back on board shortly after 1PM and immediately went to the International Café to see what lunch options they had. We opted to eat a lighter lunch since the dinner MDR menu was superb AND there was a German Theme in the buffet. We showered and tried to take naps but were not able to go to sleep so we headed towards the upper decks to look for places to lay out in the shade.

A vegetable quiche and tiramisu were my lunch it they were tasty!

We missed Tea Time today because we lost track of time but we were able to make the afternoon “General Knowledge” trivia. This was hard as it was totally random. We enjoyed the afternoon Buy One Get One $1 Happy Hour and then got ready for dinner. Once again, Princess really hit a homeroom with this daily Happy Hour offering. It is in Club Fusion and well worth your time and money as it was the best deal on drinks on the ship and easily the best deal on drinks we have ever had on any cruise line. Be sure to look for the times offered in your Princess Patters.

$11.44 grand total... Princess doesn't play around! 

We went to dinner in the Island Dining Room and we were able to get the same waiter as the previous 2 nights, Cecilio from the Philippines. He was a remarkable waiter who was funny and personable all while having fantastic service. Dinner was very impressive with some of the best seafood I have ever had. After dinner we walked around the Promenade deck and ran into a family friend of mine (and my dad’s secretary), Mrs. Ruth and her husband from Arp. They are an older couple about the age of our parents (late 50s/ early 60s) and they told us about their trip. Mrs. Ruth went on 2 zip-lining excursions and cave tubing as well. Us… yeah, we took the CITY TOUR. I think we felt like the old people in this conversation. Chris jokingly said “I am 37 and had a hard time getting out of bed this morning”. I think we definitely had the right mind set for this cruise!

The Dining Rooms, as well as many bars and other locations throughout the ship, were decorated for St. Patrick's Day! 

The Orange Roughy my dad talked so much about delivered. Easily the best seafood dish I have EVER had! Yummy!

My sunburn was getting better but was still as bright as my shirt!

We went and listened to the Princess Orchestra play Big Band music for nearly an hour before going to the nightly show. This live orchestra was very good and impressive but once again was showing their age too. I do appreciate a live band on cruise ships and this ensemble did not disappoint. The nightly entertainment showcased Steve Moris from the Beach Boys. He was funny in a “dry humor” kind of way and not really my style of comedy but once again, Chris loved him. After the show we went to the German Buffet and Chris really enjoyed all the various types of “bratwursts” while I opted for another nightly fix of pizza. We laid out for a little while gazing at the stars before retiring for the evening around 11:30PM.

The German selection was pretty slim... all sausages (8 different kinds) but that is just not for me!
Chris thought it was AWESOME! 

It was a great day of exploring a new city and enjoying each other’s company. We love Belize and are excited to bring our kids in December. We will more than likely check out the Belize City Zoo or Monkey Sanctuary just outside the city. We think our kids will love it! We Betta Belize it!

Tomorrow is another RELAXING day at Sea!
Stay Tuned!

God is good… all the time!