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Postpartum Expectations from a Runner Girl – Reclaiming My Body Through the Onset of Emotions

26 Jul

Hello lovelies!!!

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Happy Weekend! Yay!!!

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Today I am 73 days postpartum. I was given the green light to start running, I mean training, for a fall marathon by my OB on July 11. It took a whole 8 weeks to be cleared to run after our baby girl debuted. But as you know I’m stubborn and determined so I began running the week-ish prior (hey, my doctor was on vacation and my appointment was delayed!)

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After having been patient for close to 40 weeks to meet my little rosebud, how on earth did doctors expect me to hold off from running for 2 whole months? I ran my entire pregnancy and then they put a moratorium on it?! Not okay.

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Anyway, I took it easy with doctor approved light cardio. I engaged in walking, the elliptical and mini weights beginning at the 4 week postpartum mark. I started running again around 7 weeks (I may be a liar). But I’m not lying about taking it easy. It wasn’t until July 11th that I started to run farther and faster. 

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I wanted to run farther and faster because shoot, I have had my eyes set on a fall marathon. But I also wanted to run farther (not faster) to engage my fat burning furnace to melt the lingering pounds that made themselves home to my thighs, hips, stomach and back. Maybe in my breasts, too, who am I kidding. I definitely don’t need the weight there. If I had a say in its allocations I’d rather see that weight in my boot-tay. Am I right!?! (Squats all day don’t do me any favors…I’m just saying.)

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But because I’m not on an episode of Botched I can’t have anyone rearrange my ASSets how I see fit. I’ve been working hard reclaiming my assets through sweat. Today, more than ever before, I have been focused unremittingly on my core. I have not only engaged in core circuit training, but also legs and booty circuit training, and now, marathon training!!!!!!!

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I’ve been feeling ah-mazing! I feel like I can come back and come back stronger and faster.

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But before feeling ah-mazing I was feeling really discouraged. Don’t misunderstand what I am saying – my having a baby girl has been the greatest gift ever, but being forced to “recover” and recover longer than normal because of a c-section really shook me. That on top of the imminent (and grave emotional) loss of our mother. My little family was paralyzed by pain and forced to accept the bitter dichotomy of life – birth and death. Anyway, that’s another matter… What I’m saying is I was active my entire pregnancy and then boom – no sweat sessions were prescribed for 6-8 weeks. I had to handle my emotions, both postpartum and grief, without running. That was brand new territory for me.

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Speaking of new, I was also a brand new mom who was losing a mother (my fiancé’s). The wave of emotions felt like oil and vinegar – how could one be so blissfully happy with grief and despair rising in the horizon. They didn’t mix well. The onset of emotion overtook me (us). We found ourselves faced with the highs and lows of the reality we were in. We felt guilty for being happy then guilty for being enveloped with grief.

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We traveled by plane 7 days postpartum to visit Andy’s mom before she passed. We had begged for time to spare us so that she could meet her newest granddaughter. I traveled back home, alone, only 10 days postpartum. I was a wreck. I bravely accepted the fate of our mother on my journey home while dodging insults of having such a new baby on a flight, let alone in an airport. I was shuffling between whether or not to spew my circumstance with strangers or smile and embrace the mommy shaming. I did the latter. The judgement only amplified my emotions.

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We lost mom shortly after I returned home. I had emotions storming through me. My mind was in a turbulent capricious state. All I wanted to do was run it out but my body ached in ways that I cannot describe. My cesarean cut pulsated. My heart was heavy. My heart was light. And it was full of love. In the deep of love. My reaction to life was that love surely does cut you. I was a vat of vehemence smiling through all the pain and smiling through all the joys. 

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But rewind…

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On top of all my emotions, my vanity also played and integral part in my hormonal hurdle to find harmony. To find peace. Sanity. Normalcy.

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Rewind again. When I finally got home from the hospital, I wanted so badly to hop on the scale to witness the miraculous weight loss from this “having a baby” diet.

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And.

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Dun. Dun. Dun.

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The weight I gained during pregnancy was still there. Every. Single. Pound. Yes. Every single pound was accounted for.

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I cried on the inside. 

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These are the things they don’t prepare you for postpartum, especially post-cesarean. The fervent of emotions. The inability to easily pick up your baby from their bassinet because your cut is new and wretchedly deep. The pain. The fear of being a new mother. The weight. Oh my goodness the water weight. But I stress – the emotions. Emotions because as new mom I can tell you expectations are too high. Emotions because I almost had vaginal birth but my baby couldn’t handle the contractions and her heart rate kept falling dangerously low. Emotions because I felt like every single person was overwhelmed with joy over my little miracle and all they wanted to do was meet her but they discarded me. No one (most) thought a cesarean was a big deal. Not many asked how I was. And because notifications of vagina jokes kept coming across my iPhone because… “Hey, it’s still intact!” What the fuck ever people!!!  Hello, I’m in pain!!! Everyone forgot I was the star of the show. But with the birth of my little angel I suddenly became the supporting actress. My glowing beauty transformed to that of a rag doll beat up and ran over by an 18-wheeler that reversed. I looked like 50 shades of SHIT with breasts as solid as boulders that doubled as my serving platter because I could eat dinner off them. Emotions because I was pining for the day I didn’t feel like a dairy cow. Emotions because despite it all, I wouldn’t trade my old self for my new self. Emotions because I thought I was crazy for loving this new role.

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Emotions because of my new body. 

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I remember I stripped off my clothes and looked in the mirror. I stood there for a long time. I poked my stomach. It was soft. I was amazed that the elasticity and muscle memory were not activating!!! Then I saw my thighs. My calves. My legs. I cried hard. Vulgar Tears. I felt disgusting in my skin. How could I have felt like a champion of pregnancy up until birth and return home looking like a foreigner in my skin? I truly didn’t recognize myself. There was no bump but those weren’t my thighs.

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Why hadn’t the doctors sent me home with a “What to expect after you have a baby – cesarean edition” pamphlet that outlines the litany of normal concerns for new mothers (and fathers) who courageously try to navigate through an emotional, sleep deprived battlefield of heightened senses? Mind you it should also detail realistic expectations of what you should anticipate from your body that asserts, “Relax! You don’t have a fever. And no, you did not wet the bed. You are experiencing  hot flashes and night sweats – that is your body’s natural way to flush out all the excess water from pregnancy and delivery.” I had NO pamphlet. I had to resort to Google for this wealth of information to learn that the pregnancy glow alters to a new form…a foreshadowing tale of what I have to look forward to – menopause. WTF.

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I was also patiently awaiting my new form sans baby bump. But I weighed the exact same after having had my 6 pound 5 oz baby girl from the day I was admitted. How was that even plausible even after being forced to fast, too? I drank nothing but water and coffee for days. I made liars of their cleansing characteristics because they surely didn’t act like any kind of diuretic. I was still feeling very pregnant. I was mortified. 

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The pamphlet idea would have been notably helpful at that mile marker. I didn’t know about all the water weight I would gain due to the IVs. I didn’t know my cut would burn, tingle, feel oddly numb but sense pressure for days, weeks, months. I didn’t know about breastfeeding and prolactin.

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I wore long dresses for days to hide my legs but they didn’t cover my newly augmented breasts by milk. People would speculate all my weight went there, and while it made me laugh, I was beyond uncomfortable. I was annoyed and embarrassed by my blossoming bosoms.

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I felt awkward. That’s it in a word. But I was also the happiest I had ever been. It was the strangest thing.

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But now that my little family and I are two months in, I’ve grown fond of my new body and its abilities. I had high expectations of rebounding and I didn’t meet the mark. But I know I will. That’s who I am. I do acknowledge that I’ve snapped back relatively quick but I wanted breastfeeding to be some miraculous cure-all of soft curves and a soft tummy. Newsflash: it isn’t. It’s an old wives tale.

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I am currently working hard at marathon training again and I believe I will get back to where I was before I was pregnant. Perhaps all these months off from intense training have alleviated my hip issues! (Praying!!!)

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Speaking of running, I have been doing speed work, fartleks, tempo runs, easy runs and I’m slowly gaining back my ability to cover distance. I completed my longest distance of 8 miles strong last week! While I’m so fortunate to be logging miles again to gain speed, endurance, and to soon cover distance to chase Boston, I’m finding that despite it all – my running, leg, booty, and killer core workouts – I’m still unable to activate that fat burning furnace I spoke of earlier to shed the last 3 postpartum pounds. .


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I know I sound obnoxious because it may not sound like much weight, but for me, as a runner, each pound adds time to my pace. My inner voice screamed and continues to scream, “WHAT gives!?!?” 

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I told you before, where I once had abs I am soft. Now I assure you I’m not bitching terribly much – I know I’m fortunate to have been able to shed most of the weight I gained without any effort, but these last few pounds have been troubling me, especially with my incessant desire to workout in an effort to reclaim my body! My gosh, I had rented it out for 39 weeks and even provided an eviction notice…can I have it back yet? Please?

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Through all my attempts guess what I discovered?!? Keep reading…This is only another example of the type of content the pamphlet should cover…

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Despite my efforts, mothers who breastfeed, regardless of the old wives tale that breastfeeding helps melt the fat, retain approximately 5-10 pounds of fat to ensure that in the event of famine, we can nourish our littles (so I guess I’m doing well!). The reason is due to the hormone prolactin – the evil but necessary culprit! Prolactin remains incredibly high in your body for up to 6 months postpartum making weight loss a challenge! It is a challenge because it reduces the body’s ability to metabolize fat. BAM! Repeat. BAM!!! It acts like a safeguard to protect a baby’s milk supply. Hey hospital, put that in a pamphlet to help new mothers ward off fatuous expectations! 

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So here I am, I’ve been sweating it out like the badass motherrunner that I am, and I can’t shake all the weight despite clean eating and exercise. I didn’t get it. I was so frustrated! But now knowing that when I decide to stop breastfeeding the weight should come off effortlessly makes me one happy runnergirl. Oh, that on top of the fact that I won’t be carrying melons around that fluctuate in weight every 2-3 hours. That’s right, I’ve been racing against my milk coming in! Maybe that’s making me faster (I can dream). But until I decide I can no longer continue nursing my little rosebud, I will cherish the moments of feeding her while also being proud that my milk is helping her get those adorable little rolls on her legs! That’s right, I’m the reason for my little chubbina (chubby signorina)!

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Thanks for stopping by and reading about my journey – from chasing Boston to chasing baby – motherhood and running – and my life between all those miles.

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XO

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Valgal

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A New Affair 

19 Jul

Hello lovelies,

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Notice anything different?!.

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Other than me not having a baby bump?!?

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The shoes!!! Meet Brooks Launch 3!!!

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That’s right friends, #badass #motherrunner was running on clouds today. Clouds of comfort! I literally had an extra spring to my step for push-off and it gave me amazing energy return! For real though!!! Plus, their ultra light and perfect for me (I’m a neutral runner). I’m in love. .

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Newton, we’ve covered a lot of distance over our 4 year courtship, but your discount code for me has since expired and your 5 lugs just don’t comfort me like the 4. You will be my first love, and I will continue to be a fan, and even wear you for feelings of wild-eyed marathon training nostalgia of the past (I have quite the collection)…But let it be known you’ve got some fierce competition these days! And I’m thinking it’s time for a new affair…#runnergirl

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Today marked my marathon training’s request of an easy 3 mile run – which was totally hard to do because I wanted to rocket through my run with these new badass kicks!!! But hey, I’m following protocol – and that’s a first!!!

Thanks for stopping by!

XO

Valgal

Runnergirls’s Postpartum Update

13 Jul

Hello lovelies!

Today’s been a really hard and emotional day for me. The ugliness of these feelings crept in my mind last night and I was surprised they were still present this morning. I’m not sure why I’m feeling blue – but I’m crying for no apparent reason. I’m thinking it’s related to postpartum hormones and the unwelcoming truth that I return to work soon.

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To shake these feelings I went for an hour run and covered 7.6 miles – my longest run PP!!! My average time was 7:53. These miles includes a mix of #fartleks and #tempo pace for #marathon #training. I had a few fast miles disguised in my overall pace and that, as well as the sweat, helped clear my mind – but not enough. I finished today’s workout feeling both badass and disengaged with my mind…

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You see, this quote puts it perfectly – “Running is alone time that lets me unspool the tangles that build up over days. I run, pound it out on the pavement, channel that energy into my legs, and when I’m done with my run, I’m done with it.” This may not be the case today, but I’m sure it helped me run some of the funk out.

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Hey postpartum hormones, you’re a bitch! Hopefully, I get back to me STAT. Until then, I’ll be running it out but most importantly, loving on my little rosebud. #postpartumsucks #truth #justbeinghonest

Thanks for stopping by!

XO

Valgal

The Sweat Life at 21 Weeks of Pregnancy 

4 Jan

Good morning, lovelies!

 

And Happy New Year!!!

 

Oh boy, I mean, oh girl – this is the year we welcome our little baby macaroon into the world! I can’t believe we have already passed the half way mark!

 

I keep stating the obvious – that my energy level is much better in comparison to the first trimester when I didn’t have the inertia to run let alone roll out of bed. This makes me blissfully happy because I feel like myself again.

 
I’m also blissfully happy because I’m finally “feeling” and “looking” pregnant. Even though these adjectives do not have me feeling like myself, the transition is authentically mine – it’s an experience devoid of self-shaming criticisms – at least now. Feeling and looking pregnant has helped me to counter all my prior negative feelings I battled when I looked in the mirror in the early stages of pregnancy. The stage when it looked like I washed down too many bags of gummy bears with Kilt Lifters (one of my favorite beers) creating a softer than sought core…you know, the thickening of the waist without the baby bump…

 

Fortunately I’ve entered the stage where baby girl is making her debut. I have a new roundness that I love and cherish because it’s her – our baby girl! I accept her presence with unabashed alacrity unlike any other challenge or journey I’ve embarked upon.

 

Anyway, baby girl and I had quite the weekend – two phenomenal sweat sessions! Saturday we welcomed 2016 by embarking on a one hour run covering 7.31 miles at an 8:12 pace followed by yesterday’s intoxicatingly addictive cycle class!
Here’s a brief recap of Lava Barre’s VCycle:

 

 

Yesterday I welcomed 21 weeks of pregnancy & celebrated by indulging in a new class of the sweat life – Lava Barre’s VCycle! Holy guacamole! This indoor ride focused on cardiovascular endurance (I got that ✔️), strength and core (baby girl is occupying that) while incorporating weights and a special kind of choreography on the bike 🚴. Newsflash: This mama-to-be struggles with choreography – and they were asking me to add rhythm and move while spinning intensely through the hard resistance on a bike…yeah…that was a sight to be recorded for laughter! Shoot, at one point my right foot came flying out of my shoe that was clipped in! How does that happen?! Although I struggled a bit with some of the moves and laughed at my clumsy ways, I loved every sweat minute of it and with new friends.

 

Pregnancy hasn’t been a breeze but I’m finding that this second trimester really is the honeymoon stage. Baby girl is growing and measures 10.5 inches and 12.7 ounces!

 

I’m determined not to wish away these moments that I’ll want back one day. I’m so thankful for this gift of life I’m carrying and with each passing day I’m moved by how fearfully and wonderfully made I am [all women]. I’m thankful for the gifts bestowed upon me – a healthy baby girl and this body to protect and nourish her.
And there you have it friends – a little tale about my deviation from running for two.
May you all have a blessed week!

 

 

Thanks for stopping by!

 

XO
Valgal and baby macaroon!

Marathon Training – Running for Two

29 Dec

Good afternoon lovelies! I hope you’re having a wondrous Monday so far! I always love Mondays. I believe Mondays set the mood for the week – therefore, if your Monday starts off right, well then I only see smooth sailing, even if the sea gets a little rough. And what work week isn’t a little rough? What after-work hours aren’t a little rough?

 

Discussing rough, I’ll tell you what’s rough – let me introduce you to marathon training. I’ve trained for three marathons and I’ve discovered what it is about them that is rough. It’s not the aches and pains. Nah, those are manageable and kind of dull. It is the patience. There is a whole palette of patience that paints your body and mind with the dramatic hues of hope, despair, rejection, and anticipation that make the journey of the marathon rough.

 

It’s true love though.

 

Anything worth doing is going to be difficult. If it were easy it would lack the artistry of hope and the intensity of the colors of fire. The mental strength to run forward, through the hurt, through your minds rejection, through the lies, through the life you left you behind is the sum of strength that beckons anything is possible.

 

And anything is possible: Having the patience to complete a marathon has nothing on having the patience to accept your changing body so that soon you get to meet your little one.

 

What I have learned training for a marathon has inadvertently carried over to my life between the miles. But most importantly, it has found its way to help soothe me during pregnancy and its encompassing unknowns.

 

I’m quickly learning that marathon training isn’t as rough as pregnancy. What is rough during pregnancy is acceptance of your changing, growing body. I won’t lie – I have cried a few times about my body morphing into something I don’t recognize. I hate to sound vain but I’m here to be honest. I’m hypersensitive to the changes happening to my body because I’ve been training for marathon after marathon keeping my form, abs, ass, legs and arms tone. Now, well now it doesn’t matter. Baby is coming! And I wouldn’t dare do anything to harm my little one with strict eating, new eating regiments, dehydration tactics, hardcore training followed by more training. No. My abs, ass, legs and arms are getting a little less tone regardless because I’m creating a life. My waist is slowly giving way to the growing bump – this I’m excited about! But to say I accept all, emphasis on all, the changes with the gracious glow of pregnancy would be a farce because I don’t. For me, pregnancy is as beautiful and magical as it is a mental minefield. Honestly.

 

I blame the self-absorbed and self-centered culture that poisons the internet stating that basketball bellies for pregnant women, although not the norm, is what should be sought after. Seriously?  How can I control how my baby grows? I would love to have a basketball belly! But I stand all of 5’2”. That’s right a full 60 inches. Baby girl can only grow so far with my short stature and torso thus she will cause me to grow a little wide. This is the problem. Not that I’ll grow wide, but that I’m fed, like other pregnant mamas all this bullshit that if you’re short, you’ll get fat. If you’re carrying a girl, you’ll grow wide and better plan to carry an extra few lbs. Seriously. The internet feeds you bullshit and isn’t even gracious enough to offer up a glass of merlot to wash it down. Gosh I miss wine. Troll the internet and you’ll see copious amounts of literature warning pregnant moms-to-be “How to avoid gaining too much pregnancy weight”, “The skinny pregnancy”, and this should make you chuckle, “How to avoid weight gain during pregnancy.” Yes. These are real taglines. How to avoid weight gain during pregnancy…ya…that’s a winner. What the eff?

 

Anyway, what I was saying is that acceptance is rough. I don’t mind in the least bit my growing bump. I am the most ecstatic about that! To put it simply I feel sandwiched in the nonsense that comes from so many articles about pregnancy and what not to eat, what not to do, what workouts to avoid, what not to drink, etc. The nonsense paralyzes me. And consequently, I become nonsensical – like I have this innate fear that I’ll end up taking on a new shape with similarities to George Costanza – short and stumpy but with hair. I know. I know. I sound foolish but I’m being candid about my illogical concerns.

 

It is because of my illogical concerns that I take to running. Well, it’s not the only reason but running does help to silence the bullshit. Running also helps to make sure George Costanza never appears looking back at me in the mirror…hehe.

 

Anyway, let’s talk about From Chasing Boston to Chasing Baby and running for two in the second trimester.

 

Today I am 20 weeks and 1 day pregnant.  I ran 5 miles today at an 8:11/pace per mile. This is slower than norm for me but hey, baby is growing! It’s beginning to feel that running for two parallels a lot with marathon training. I am forced to go slower and breathe consciously with intent. I have to focus and exercise patience for a slower than normal cadence for hours which leaves me vulnerable to boredom. I am in each moment recognizing each little twitch or discomfort and making a friend with it rather than speeding up and playing with intervals to mask the pain.

 

Little baby girl is teaching me how to run comfortably at a slower than average pace with a whole lot of added weight and pressure in my front section. I used to be able to run 26.2 miles without ever having to take a bathroom break. Running in the second trimester has me desperately seeking a bathroom after only 2.5 miles. The pressure on my bladder from running is unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. I have to always make a mad dash to the bathroom every 2.5 or 3 miles for relief and then the cycle starts again.

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In addition, the weight of my breasts is getting quite uncomfortable. I know I’m kind of an anomaly – having a breast augmentation or two performed while also trying to run competitively – but again, back to their weight – oy vey! During my runs I find that I’m squeezing my shoulder blades together to ensure I have proper form. It may look as if I’m running with my chest intentionally out to make them all perky  and guess what, I am – so enjoy the view (just don’t jump on the treadmill next to me or I’ll give you a caviling grimace). If I didn’t do this my shoulders would roll forward and my lower back would hurt more than it does.

 

Running in the second trimester has been an easier goal to achieve in comparison to the first trimester. I’m able to fight through the fatigue and make it to the gym. When I get into my rhythmic cadence, I find a source of great strength that helps counter the obstruction of said fatigue and twinges of dull pain.

 

The colorful palette for running for two makes me feels beautiful. It has me marvel at our bodies capabilities to do hard, rough but equally miraculous things. Running for two teaches me to have more patience than I ever knew possible despite marathon training. Running for two gives me hope that I will continue to grow as a person, and with this body and baby, into a person I want to be – a mom. I turn to running because I it helps me become a person who is better, accepting, peaceful and happy.

 

Running was never stale. Running for two proves it never will be. Running for two paints me in a florid of colors I’ve never seen before. The palette of patience paints my body and mind teaching me to love myself unconditionally while I grow this miracle within – just the thought sends an electrical current through my body. The emotional hues of hope, love, and anticipation to meet this little one paint me with naked delight.

 

Running for two is the only journey I know now.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

XO

 

Valgal and Baby Girl – aka Baby Macaroon

Lost Puppy

17 Feb

Hi friends!!!

Oh wow. The thing with puppies is they are so darn cute. Well at least most of the time. They have these big eyes that have the ability to melt your heart. They are always begging for attention and they are extremely needy of your time. If they are not given proper love and attention, they lash out. They may pee on your favorite pair of Newtons (that has never happened) or they may develop a unique taste for baseboards.

Sometimes these puppies are people. Granted I would abstain from those who freely chose to pee on my Newtons or have an appetite for baseboards, but sometimes they show up at your doorstep and you’re left to counsel. What I am saying is some people lash out when their opinions are uninvited. Some people are like lost puppies because they are looking for a cage to rattle.

I have had the fine encounter of meeting a lost puppy recently. I checked my Facebook account to notice I had a few messages pending in the ‘other’ inbox. I read them out.

I was flattered that someone I don’t know reads my blog but I was momentarily put off by his raucous comment, or should I say bark?

It reads as follows:

I read your Blog. You write well albeit a remarkable number of I’s which gives hints of being a kind of loving Narcissist… -bad puppy

The ellipsis … ending the note staring at me, trying to razz me.

Dot. Dot. Dot.

I thought to myself…

It took me a few moments to realize that this lost, bad puppy is half blind by the potent obvious…this blog is about my Running [Affair] and My Life Between the Miles. I am the main character. Who else? Of course there will be the use of I!

Albeit his comment struck me, I’m pleased he reads my blog or at least read one of my posts. His bark is an attention seeking behavior similar to that of a lost, bad puppy. The common reasons for barking are due to lack of physical activity, boredom, and/or nervousness.

This puppy is bored!

My apologies that my physical activity makes you feel inferior. l recognize your behavior as a plea for attention and some love. Perhaps a little training and some obedience will serve you well. Go take a walk around the block, smell the fresh-cut grass, and mark your territory without engaging in poor behavior. In my experience we can correct bad behavior by replacing the action of reviling others with praise. If you find that these techniques don’t work, I recommend you contact a professional dog trainer…they work wonders on lost puppies and bad puppies alike, given age and maturity, and provide tons of cages to rattle until pure exhaustion. What are you waiting for? Woof woof!

Thanks for stopping by!

By the way, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. What you see from me is only the half of it! Next time, if you have the cajones, I implore you to bark on this forum, not a private Facebook message…just saying! Unless of course you’ve been neutered…makes sense. 😉

It’s time for a run!

Happy running! XO

Valgal

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