Timing (Atlanta 10 Miler Recap)

Timing really is everything. And I’m not talking about race times (yet), I’m talking about when things happen in life.

I’ve lived a good life so far and have been fortunate that timing has been on my side for the most part.

I’ve always thought that things happen when they need to and if something you want to happen doesn’t, then it wasn’t meant to happen. I’ve found this to be true in my career especially. I have had a good progression of jobs and the right opportunity always seems to present itself.

With my move to Atlanta from Vegas, it was definitely time for me to move to a different city (I love all my friends there but I needed a fresh start). The right job presented itself and I truly believe I’m at the right company for me. And while I was trying to get other jobs within my current company (after being there a year), I didn’t get certain opportunities I applied for. Then my now current job opened up, I knew it was my dream job (for this stage in my career, let’s be real I want to be a C level exec one day). If I had gotten one of the other positions, I wouldn’t be where I am today in just the right spot for me.

Today I ran a kickass race! (I swear this will tie into the above ramblings, just go with the tangents like you’re talking to me in real life) I had 12 miles on my schedule for today and was signed up for the Atlanta 10 miler. So my plan was to do a 2 mile warm up before the race. My coach wanted me to keep my paces in the high 11s since my goal pace is 11:40 for my half. I ran the warm up just in the 11s and was feeling great. The race was delayed due to traffic so I was a little disappointed I didn’t time the warm up better but nothing I could do about that.

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After my warm up waiting for the race to start

I couldn’t have asked for a better race. The course was tough, so many hills (but it is Atlanta) and it went through some pretty neighborhoods and the crowd support was great. I started a little conservatively, my plan was to take advantage of all down hills and keep moving up the hills as best as I could. Honestly I’ve never felt stronger running. It felt pretty easy until the 8 mile mark (10 miles for the day) and then I had to get my mental game in check for the rest of the race. I ran into a friend at about 8.5 and we off and on ran together to the finish. I had a 6 min PR from the cherry blossom 10 miler in 2013 and ran 1:51:39.

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With my co-worker Patrick after the race (photo courtesy of him, thanks Patrick!). He volunteered today and was handing out medals.

So let’s tie this all together, after the race I was texting with my coach (Jesica) and we were discussing how well I’d executed this training cycle and how my weight loss (20 lbs!!!) has really improved my running. I made a comment that I wish I had done this a year ago and her reply was spot on, she told me I wasn’t ready then to make those changes, but that this is just the beginning for me and my running. That really hit home for me, because I wasn’t ready last year and I knew I couldn’t handle the changing of my diet during marathon training. This was the right time for me and I’m ready to have a great race November 8!

And total side note: I highly recommend the Atlanta 10 miler, the course was great, the event was well organized and the swag (long sleeve hoodie with thumb holes + cool medal) is great. The Atlanta Track Club puts on great events and is well worth the membership I’ve had the past 2 years. Hopefully I’ll feel the same after the half on Thanksgiving!

Making Changes

This summer has been about making changes. I’ve taken the steps to start eating better to lose the weight I gained last year. It finally took seeing several pictures where I just didn’t like how I looked in them to push me to the point of doing something about it. This is the hardest change I’ve made in a while. I’ve never eaten well, ever. I had a crazy fast metabolism growing up and could eat whatever I wanted. It didn’t hurt that I played two sports year round and was constantly busy. Over that period I fell in love with all things fast food and sweets. I’m a French fry and cupcake connoisseur, it’s crazy the way I can talk about either (unfortunately for me no really ever wants to discuss these things with and usually look at me like I’m crazy).

On July 7 I took the plunge and joined weight watchers. I’ve tried to eat healthy in the past but I always give in to temptation. I respond well to things that are like a game/puzzle so the weight watchers point system really appealed to me. Other things about weight watchers that I like is that it’s flexible. I can still have treats, but now have to do it within moderation and within my point allowances for the day/week. It’s also a way to keep me within reason with what I’m eating. Eating healthy doesn’t always mean salads all the time. Yes I have them often, but it’s not daily (Chick-fil-a Grilled Market Salad with the berry balsamic dressing = my favorite salad).

The big changes I’ve tried to make are around my beloved french fries and sweets. I was having them at least 3-4 times a week before starting weight watchers. Since I started weight watchers I’ve had them twice, in two months.. I definitely miss them after a hard, long run, but it’s been worth it. The sweets have been harder to give up, especially with the temptations at work. We’ve had lunch ordered in daily (with healthy lunch choices) that always includes a dessert tray. There are still some desserts I can’t say no to (publix cake and cookies) so I’ve had a couple treats recently. To try to combat that I have been trying to find different alternatives to have something sweet. My favorite is Tru Whip, which is basically the healthier version of Cool Whip. I like to have it with strawberries or just eat it on it’s own (seriously spoon into container). I’ve also started prioritizing cake/sweets. For instance, I’ll only eat random cake (that I haven’t accounted for in the week) if it’s publix cake. If the cookies aren’t my favorite, I won’t eat them. I’ve had to learn to have that balance and not just eat everything that is in front of me.

Outside of the whole weight watchers thing, I’ve been working out more. For half marathon training I’m running 5 days a week. This is one more than marathon training. I’m also running higher mileage during the week. This has definitely helped my running improve and the weight loss has made a difference too. I’ve also started going to Barre3 and working with a personal trainer. I try to do both once a week, but sometimes skip barre because my legs are just too tired.

So how has the weight loss gone? Since July 7, I’m down 15.2 lbs! Some weeks I lose more or less than others. but I’ve always lost, even if it’s 0.4 lbs. My goal is to lose at least another 15 lbs, but I’m not too fixated on the number. The goal is based on what I weighed when I ran my first half marathon, almost 2 years ago. If I don’t get there, but my body is toned and in the healthy range then that’s totally okay. I just want to feel strong and feel good.

I didn’t take before or after pictures and I didn’t measure myself so I’m not sure if I’ve lost any inches. My pants are getting looser and I’m fitting into shorts that wouldn’t fit before. Also certain stuff that was tight now fits much better.

But for full disclosure, this is the picture that made me want to change… I cropped the one I posted on instagram, but this is the original version.

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Hanging with Lauren Fleshman at West Stride.

I know I don’t look terrible in this picture, but I want to be in the healthy weight range for my height (which I’m now in, but still towards the higher end).

There are a couple things with weight watchers I don’t love. The main one being it rewards the use of artificial sweeteners and fat free/reduced fat products. I try not to have “diet” anything, it’s my personal preference to avoid those types of sweeteners. Healthy fats like avocado and nuts are a lot of points, which drives me crazy. Otherwise, weight watchers has been great. The app is super easy to use and they have a bunch of restaurants pre-loaded into the system with the points populated. This definitely helps when eating out and planning what I’ll eat before going to a restaurant.

What I learned from Marathon Training

Marathon training was definitely a time of growth for me. I spent a lot of hours alone getting my runs in which leads to a lot of introspection and also time to figure out random things.

So here are some of the things I figured out while marathon training…

1. You potentially will rip holes in your shorts. I wish this was a joke but it’s not! I only had 3 pairs of shorts that I really liked during that time and they were discontinued. This led to me running in them all the time… Which led to multiple holes in each pair. The night before the marathon I went back and forth with Katie about which pair would not rip any further for 26.2 miles. I picked right! And carried a sample size of body glide in my pocket. I’ve now found a couple different shorts that work for me up to 6 miles so let’s hope they can make it 13.1!

2. The brand of body glide you use does matter! I was using the body glide brand since I started running but still always had a little chafing. Then one of my running friends mentioned Run Guard and how it had worked better for her. I switched to that and it’s very rare that I have any chafing!

3. Finding the right running shoe is hard! I envy those of you that can wear a bunch of different shoes and not have any problems. I am not one of those people! It took 4 shoes and orthotics to get there but now I’m in a shoe that seems to be working for me. My calves are also tight so that makes shoes even tougher. I can’t handle much of a drop at all.

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Shoe #1

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Shoe #3

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Shoe #4 = My new favorite! 

4. Being alone for all those hours can make you a little crazy. My longest long run took 5:45 to finish! Let me know the next time you have to run for that amount of time and see how sane you are. I wish I would have gotten into audiotapes or something to get me occupied mentally. Music just wasn’t enough.

5. I needed someone to hold me accountable. I struggled the last year with keeping up with runs, I just slacked and had no plans. Having a running coach really helped keep me in line. I knew she wouldn’t take my excuses of not wanting to get out of bed. It really helped me to get all the workouts in (minus the ones I missed while injured) and it got me to do a little cross training.

6. Not running my best race for the marathon made me want to try again… Just not right away. I really think I have a faster marathon in me so with a stronger base built up before training begins I think I can do a lot better. So expect to see me either at the London marathon next year or a local race (with not as many hills) next spring all depending on lottery for the London marathon (my company also sponsors this marathon so I might be able to finagle a bib this way).

7. There are gels out there that won’t make you burp… so this is a weird one but true. Same running friend as the run guard mentioned Huma gels since she was doing no processed foods for Lent. They’re chia seed based and taste really great! I love the mango and strawberry flavors and used those for the race. They gave me energy when I needed it the most and kept me from getting sick or having any stomach problems. I recently tried the blueberry flavor at the Peachtree Road Race expo and liked that so I will add that into the rotation.

8. You will not lose weight while marathon training… unless you’re some ridiculously disciplined person. Which let’s be real, I am not! I didn’t gain any weight, I maintained, but I was hungry ALL THE TIME! And when you’re always hungry it’s hard to make good decisions… pass the French fries and cookies please. I also couldn’t handle the focus on running with the focus on eating right, my brain couldn’t process doing both at the same time. Now I’m working on the eating better part.

9. You become superstitious about what you eat, outfits, pretty much anything you deem can effect your running performance. I ate the same thing for every long run (both night before and morning of) and was afraid to buy a different brand because I didn’t want to get sick. But this one was so bland and boring, finally I switched and I didn’t get sick so I rolled with this other brand that actually had flavor! And then I only ate that and even cooked it my hotel room the night before the marathon. I also had favorite pieces of running clothes and for race day picked the outfit I had the best long run in.

10. Everything starts to revolve around running, if it didn’t already. Happy hour after work, sorry I have to go run. Chance to go on a trip? Only if there’s a place for you to get your miles in (I ran 14 miles in Aruba, 5 outside in the heat, 9 on a treadmill, not so fun). Want to go to dinner on a Friday night? Nope sorry I have to eat my special superstitious meal for my Saturday morning long run.

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On the floor of the gym in Aruba after finishing 14 miles

11. You will embrace running in the rain! Unless you live in Vegas where it never rains, you will deal with rain on multiple occasions and have no choice but to run through it. My 18 miler had a 3 mile stretch of running in rain and was probably the fastest and most enjoyable part of that run.

12. You will have a mental break, maybe just one or maybe more. My 18 miler had a lot of tears and a pretty big breakdown around the 12 mile mark. You have to learn how to handle the mental battle. To me that’s the hardest part of a marathon. I struggled with this the most and know I need to work on this for the future.

13. During marathon training is not the best time to get a dog. I got my pup, Matty, the week before marathon training started. I absolutely love him but he completely changed my life and my schedule. I have to either run before work (which he hates) or go after I come home from work and walked him (which he hates). Matty wouldn’t eat if I went in the morning and he would sulk if I went in the evening. This caused a lot of dog mom guilt, which isn’t conducive to getting in all your workouts. He’s slowly getting more adjusted to my workouts and I bribe him with bones and various treats.

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This is Matty telling me he’d prefer if I didn’t leave him

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Snuggle time with Matty

14. Marathon training is not the best time to switch jobs. I was interviewing for a promotion on a different team at my company during peak marathon training. I ended up getting the promotion (yayyyy) but the transition to the new job was the week after the marathon and I had a lot of stuff to wrap up in my previous role before I could transition. This led to a lot of stress that I wouldn’t recommend right around your race.

15. Life doesn’t stop when you’re marathon training. As much as you wish you could pause other things so you can focus on your training, stuff still happens. My dad was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor during peak training (and while interviewing for my new position) and not knowing what that meant or what the treatment would be was hard. The thought of losing my dad was really difficult. Thankfully the tumor was benign and the surgery went well and he is almost fully recovered.

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Holding hands with my dad when was in the ICU post surgery

 

I learned a lot from round 1 of the marathon… Enough to make me want a round 2 sometime next spring. Right now I’m focusing on half marathon #6 and hoping to PR. I’m working with Jesica again and I’m really excited to see what happens with the amount of mileage I’ll be putting in along with the strength training I’ve added. I’ll be working with a personal trainer once a week and taking a Barre3 class each week. I’ll also be dabbling in a little bit of hot yoga too. If you remember a couple years back when Tina was my personal trainer, she’s now a yoga instructor, and I hope to take a few classes with her to help stretch everything out.

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With Jesica at the Braves Country 5k two weeks post marathon (photo courtesy of Jes)

 

I feel good so far and I’m already down a few pounds so hopefully the downward trend continues as the mileage goes up.

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My first marathon: Rock N Roll San Diego Recap

I’ve gone back and forth on how I want to write my marathon recap and have just decided to write whatever comes to my mind and basically throw in ALL the pictures. Hey I paid good money to MarathonFoto for them so might as well use them right… and some of them are so bad it’s funny!

On June 1 I ran the Rock N Roll San Diego Marathon. Start time was 6:15 am (so early) at balboa park near the downtown area of SD. I slept pretty well on race eve and woke up at 3:15 to eat my breakfast and start getting ready. Katie came to SD with me and she was so great about making sure I had everything I needed and even drove me to the start. I got there before 5 am to make sure we beat traffic and road closures.

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 Walking up to the race nice and early (and in the dark)

I saved one of those post race blankets from Savannah and brought that to the start to keep me warm and have something to sit on before the race. I actually wasn’t cold (foreshadowing the later half the race) in my race outfit and just used the blanket to sit on. Katie got me a couple blocks from the race start area and my first stop was the brooks VIP bathrooms. Having the VIP bathrooms was great! No lines or very short lines with ac and toilets that flushed. They also had sunscreen (which I had forgotten to apply) so I sprayed on some of that and went to find a seat near to rest. I hung out for a little while before heading to the bathroom one last time and entering my corral. I did some dynamic stretching a few min before the start and was feeling ready to go.

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Before the race in my corral… love the photo bomb from the girl behind me!

The race started in waves (which previously we were told it wouldn’t) so about 10 min after the official start I was on my way. For the first hours the weather was okay, humid but not miserable with cloudy skies. I felt good doing around 12:30-13 min miles and enjoyed winding our way around balboa park and downtown San Diego. There were some hills and a lot of decline during the first 8 miles or so. I got a little nervous around mile 4 when the aid station was out of Gatorade. I’ve had trouble at previous Rock N Roll races where they’re out of water/Gatorade and I end up feeling terrible. Since there wasn’t Gatorade I took a salt/electrolyte tab. This is earlier than I normally would but I knew I needed it.

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I’m assuming this was the first couple miles, super humid before the sun came out

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This is going around Balboa park

Around mile 5 we went through the outfield walkway of Petco Park. I of course tripped (stayed on my feet) and slightly rolled my ankle. Luckily that didn’t bother me, but I was a little worried it would come back to haunt me later.

 

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Going through the outfield area of Petco, 30 sec after the ankle rolling

After going through Petco we winded around the downtown area (I passed Harriet, the 91 y/0 running the race)  through Little Italy (where I knew Katie and I would want to check out for dinner one night) and then worked our way north towards Old Town. I really liked the Old Town area and knew it was another place I would like to go back to check out with Katie. I knew after this area (9 miles-ish) I was getting closer to where Katie would be spectating. I was feeling pretty good at this point and sent out a text or two letting my parents and Katie know I was feeling pretty good and moving along. Katie and I misunderstood the map so I didn’t see KT at the 10.5 mile area and as I was turning into Mission Bay Park she let me know she’d be at the spot where we’d come out of the park.

This is where things got REALLY hard for me for the first time. The sun came out and it was really hot. Around the half way point is where I first started walking. I also stopped at a water fountain along the path and splashed my face with water. I knew it was going to be tough from here. I also stopped at one of the park bathrooms, I’d call it a step up from a port a potty and there wasn’t a line. I made it to the half way mark around 3 hours (better than 2 of my 13.1 times) and knew at this point the slow bus wasn’t going to get me. I kept winding through the park trying to find the shade and not ask the random families for a ride to the finish (I really really really wanted to do that).


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Going through Mission Bay Park

After Mission Bay Park we went back over the interstate and I spotted Katie. She made me a great sign, we chatted quickly and we switched water bottles so I would have a full one. This was SO HELPFUL! She gave me some encouraging words and then ran off to meet a mile or two down the road, using a short cut. After seeing her I hit another aid station that also had cold, wet sponges. I used one of these to cool down and just tried to stay running as long as I could. I saw Katie again, used her energy to boost me a little bit and kept trucking.

The next long stretch of miles (16-22) were just hard. The route was boring and it was just hot. I made sure to grab ice cold towels from the aid stations and accidentally grabbed a gatorade with added salt (tasted so gross) but I think that helped me feel decent the rest of the race. I also went through all the misters the had on the course. I  employed a run the downhills/flats and walk the uphills by this point. I had driven this part of the course the day before with Katie and knew that I needed to use the downhills in this stretch to make up some time before the big uphill on the highway.

Right before the big hill I stopped at the aid station for an ice cold towel and refilled my water bottle. I ran the downhill to the uphill and was just so ughhhh about the uphill. I called my mom at this point to have a little entertainment but she was busy and could only talk for a couple minutes. She was encouraging and I just tried to keep moving. The hill is over a mile long on a slanted highway with absolutely NOTHING to look at. They also played music SUPER loud that was terrible (think the music you hated at the roller skating rink as a kid). This felt like an hour and I again ran into Harriet on her world record journey. Towards the top of the hill I asked one of the team in training coaches on the course if we were close to the top. He pointed at the curve ahead that was the end, so I just decided to end my misery and run. I continued running through a downhill stretch that started winding us back towards downtown and turned off towards a residential area.

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So happy to be done with that hill… thinking all the uphills were done

I was told all the uphills were done but that was just not true. After making it into the residential areas and around the 24 mile mark I was just OVER it! Like wanted it to be over, wondering why everyone lied and said it was downhill and where was the slow bus because I wanted a ride. I called my mom again at this point, who was now home with my dad, so I had them both on speaker phone. I pretty much told them I wanted to die and that I wasn’t going to finish and that if there was another uphill I might just die right there… dramatic much? Mentally it was just so hard at this point. I’d been out there over 6 hours, I was hot, sweaty, smelly and probably slightly delirious. My dad said they’d stay on the phone until I finished, but then they went silent and well that just wasn’t going to work for me, I needed my tunes. So I got off the phone with them (rudely too, I’m so mean when I’m cranky, sorry Mom and Dad) and hit a downhill so I ran. I did this off and on with the uphill/downhill and my garmin died around 24.7 miles #slowmarathonrunnerproblems.

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DYING around the 24 mile mark

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This is what miserable looks like

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The camera man asked me to smile, since I was walking I figured why not, it looks pretty good for 6.5 hours into a marathon

Right after my garmin died I stopped to stretch (my back and hips were KILLING starting around the 18 mile mark) and as I was finishing that up, Harriet was coming to stretch in the same spot. That’s when I decided noooo I can’t be beat by a 91 y/o so let’s get moving. I walked a little bit up an uphill and when I hit the 25 mile mark (the slow bus was going by with all that had jumped on) I started running and was pretty determined to run the rest of the way. I went through the 2nd tunnel of terrible dance music with strobe lights (WHY does Rock N Roll do this??) and saw Katie cheering on the other side. I tossed her my water bottle since it was empty and told her I was running the rest of the way. She told me turn that corner and it’s straight downhill to the finish. FINALLY someone that didn’t lie to me, she was right, I turned the corner and headed toward the finish. You can see how happy I was to know I was that close…


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Just passed Katie

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Turning the last corner


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Starting to pick up the speed (you know the speed you have left at 25 miles)


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Not really sure why my arms are up but let’s just go with delirium

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I certainly wasn’t in first place, so we’ll go with yay my first marathon!

765995-1287-0010sSpotted the finish and was focused!

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So so happy



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I did it!

FinishLineOfficially a marathon finisher!

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And had to take one of these… I promise it wasn’t dark when I finished

This was super long with all the pics but since it took almost 2 months to get this done, I think it’s worth it.

Overall I’m proud of myself for finishing in 6:55:43. I know I can do it closer to the 6 hour range but I just didn’t have it all there mentally and the hot weather didn’t help. I’m already thinking about number 2 next spring, but for now will be focusing on PRing the half and hopefully the 5k.

I’m also working on losing some weight to help get the speed back I had in my first marathon. If you’re actually interested in how I’m going about the weight loss I’d be happy to write a post about it.

And I can’t forget to thank the people that helped me along the way: my parents (especially my mom) who listened to me have multiple breakdowns during this process; my running coach, Jesica, who guided me every step of the way and gave me so much support and encouragement (she also featured me on her blog with more about my marathon experience here); my BFF, Katie, thank you for being my inspiration and my cheerleader/sherpa on race day; and all of you who commented/gave me encouragement through social media/texts/in person. I’m so grateful to have such good people in my life.

Marathon Training is HARD

The past 4 months I’ve been spending a lot of time running. I’ve run farther than I ever have before and my weekly mileage just keeps going up. On June 1st I will be running my first (and probably only) marathon. I haven’t blogged much during the process because I haven’t been able to put words to the emotions and I’m just so tired all the time (and not sleeping well either).

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Running in Aruba

The last few weeks have been really tough for me. My 3rd pair of shoes (I hate when shoe companies update a shoe) of this training cycle was causing stress on a certain part of my foot which led to perineal tendinitis. I was almost 6 miles into my first 16 miler (and feeling really good) when I suddenly had a sharp pain in my foot. It hurt to even walk on it. I couldn’t run anymore but was over 2 miles from my car. I started limping towards my car (it was Easter Sunday) until a nice woman stopped and offered me a ride. I went to my sports massage therapist (who’s AMAZING) and he helped a lot. He knew what the injury was and recommended a podiatrist to confirm it. I spent the week on the bike and was cleared to run by the podiatrist by the weekend.

I’ve definitely been struggling with the higher mileage. I have been doing most of the runs alone and mentally it’s just tough. I’m not fast so these runs take me 4 hours or more. This past weekend my 18 miler took me 4:40. I had a breakdown at mile 12, called my mom and cried to her about how I couldn’t do this. At that point I was ready to just give up and do the half. But then I started to think about all the time and effort I’ve put into this. And I thought about how I would feel when I told people I gave up on my goal. Then I realized that I only have to be miserable two more times and I’ll be able to say I finished a marathon. I’m definitely not as prepared as I would like, but that’s due to injuries, not any lack of planning. My mileage is lower than I or my coach would like, but my lack of base and injuries have made it hard to add higher mileage without risking other injuries.

Next weekend I’ll be going for 21 miles. I will definitely be looking for a new route because I’ve definitely worn out the river trail the past two weeks.

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After 16 miles

This is just so hard but I want to cross the finish line so badly. And I have to control my emotions and win the mental race to get there. I struggle with the mental aspect EVERY run. The marathon is really where your mind plays a huge role and I just haven’t gotten my mind game right. I have self doubt every run, I know I haven’t been doing this very long and I’ve never really put the time in before. This time I’ve given it everything and I’m just not sure it’s good enough. I’m not a quitter though and I’m going to keep trying. Maybe something will click this weekend, or maybe I’ll be miserable, but I will cross that finish line June 1!

If you’re in Atlanta and want to keep me company for a few (slow) miles let me know! Or if you have a good 21 mile route with water stops give me ideas!

Building it back up

2014 started off slowly and now I’m finally getting back to a good running place. I start marathon training soon (probably within a week or two) and I needed to get my mileage up and get used to running consistently again. It’s definitely not been easy for me but the last two weeks are making me feel a little bit better about what is going to be coming my way soon.

Let’s back up a little bit (I consider my running weeks Monday to Sunday) to MLK day. I was in Florida for the long weekend celebrating my Nana’s 85 birthday. I had already done a beach run with my mom on Sunday and decided to run on my own on Monday by the beach. I waited too long and it was so hot and humid on this run, totally my fault. But I managed to struggle through 3 painful miles.

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I ran a 5k on Saturday (the 27th) and it was not pretty. It was hilly (finished with 1/2 mile of uphill) and I’ve just lost so much speed it makes me sad. I was pretty disappointed with my time but I have to start somewhere. This race left me pretty sore, but I needed to get in a few more miles for the week. I had brunch plans and I haven’t been sleeping well, so I fit in 2.3 miles before having to go get ready. I finished the week with 8.4 miles, not a lot but at least I ran 3 times.

This past week went fairly well. Overall I’ve been sore and have some tight muscles, but I expect that as I get back to running more. My first run of the week was on Tuesday morning before the snow started (don’t get me going on this topic, I’m really upset with everyone making fun of Atlanta. You have no idea how serious the situation was for a lot of people) on the riverside trail near my place. I did 3 miles and this run felt pretty good. Little did I know what was coming for me. I spent the next 48 hours trapped in my place. I did get out for things like this…

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On Thursday the roads were mostly clear so I ventured to the river and ran 3 miles. There was a little of this…

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And I survived running through it in a couple spots. It was actually another really nice run. My speed wasn’t great but my legs felt fairly good. I also felt like a badass running when there was ice and snow (I’m really not a badass but it’s fun to pretend).

Saturday brought a little bit of a longer run, I did 6 slow miles. There was still ice on the side of the paths but otherwise it was a perfect day to run. My legs loosened up about a mile in and I got into a groove. After the six miles I felt like I could have done a couple more, which is a good sign for what’s to come, since you know I’m trying to run 26.2 miles on June 1st.

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Post-run recovery smoothie

Sunday I wanted to get in 3 more miles. Again my legs were a little tight but I felt good and ran this a little faster than I had earlier in the week. It was super foggy and humid and 50 degrees felt like 80 after all the cold weather the past week.

I finished the week with 15 miles and I’m really happy with what I’ve done. I’m hoping to do around 17 this week and continue running 4 days a week. I also want to get in some cross training and strength work.

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Recapping 2013 and Rock N Roll Savannah Half

I usually don’t blog unless I feel like writing and well today I feel like writing. Instead of setting new year’s resolutions I set a theme for the year, 2012 was the year for running and 2013 was the year for half marathons. I ran 4 half marathons in 2013 (ran might be stretch for describing a few of them) and I really lacked in my preparation for them. 2012 I was focused and dedicated to my running for the most part. Yes I slacked here and there but I usually got most of my workouts in and if I skipped something it was a strength workout, not a run. I was pretty much the total opposite of that in 2013.

Let’s back up a little bit, in 2012 I worked out with Tina, who gave me monthly training plans and I felt like she held me accountable for completing those workouts. This motivated me immensely and in 2013 when I was unable to work with Tina anymore (she stopped doing individual personal training to focus on things going on in her personal life) I had to go on my own. I picked up Crossfit and did it for 9 months. I really had a love/hate relationship with Crossfit. I enjoyed pushing myself and trying new workout techniques, but I hated 3 of the 5 trainers at the gym I went to and it was starting to get ridiculously expensive (I started with a groupon). Then I realized my clothes didn’t fit anymore (as in too tight) and I had gained a decent amount of weight. No one seemed to notice that I gained as much weight as I did, but I could see (or my friends are just too nice to say anything, love you all). I know it wasn’t just crossfit as my eating habits are pretty terrible. I had an unhealthy relationship with cookie cake (and just plain cookies and cake) and French fries (I haven’t been able to break this yet). The combination of crossfit, the decrease in my running mileage (from training) and the bad eating habits I’ve had my whole life are finally beginning to show. I always talked about crossfit via twitter and hinted at it on my blog but never wrote about it because it just never worked for me the way it has for so many people. It bothered me that I didn’t have that love for it and I’ve come to the realization that you can’t just do it because it works for other people; you have to do it because it works for you. And no knock to anyone that loves crossfit (I have close family members who it works great for) it’s just not the right workout for me.

I have found some things I loved in crossfit that I look forward to continuing to have in my workout regimen, rowing being the main thing. I absolutely loved rowing. It’s hard as hell but I felt like it gave me a great workout and was really helping me gain flexibility in my hips. I received a rowing machine for Christmas and will be using that for cross training in my upcoming race training plans (more on that eventually).

You’ve heard about most of my races in 2013, but I’ve yet to recap Savannah so let’s just do that now. Rock N Roll Savannah was my favorite race of the year. I had a lot of emotions going into that race, my mom was supposed to run with me but was sidelined with a torn ligament in her ankle, and you may recall this post, which was a huge motivator for me.

The morning of the race I woke up bright and early, had my typical picky bar breakfast. My parents drove me downtown to drop me off. Luckily a local Panera bread was open and I used their restroom instead of a port a potty. The temps were in the 40s so I had on a tank top, arm warmers, shorts and procompression socks. I also had some throwaway gloves. I met up with my little cousin who was running the race with a friend (it was her first half) to say hi and then jumped back into my corral. This was race different than most others from 2013, because other than my first race, I did the other two completely solo. Had no one cheering, was staying in a hotel by myself, you know doing the alone Amy thing. But this race I would actually have crowd support and I never realized how much that helps me. My parents decided that they could get from miles 4, 8 and the finish fairly easily so they planned on cheering for me there. This helped break the race up for me and after looking at my times at the 5k, 10k and 10 miles you could really see how it helped my mental state and speed. The Savannah course starts in the historic area and immediately takes you into a not so nice area of town, surprisingly, I really enjoyed this part. The people who lived in this area sat on their porches watching in awe and picking up the throw away clothes that runners had left. Little kids were giving high fives and cheering. By mile 4 we were winding back towards the historic area and I enjoyed laughing at the men that were peeing at the edge of wooded areas instead of waiting in line for the portapotties. I found my parents right after seeing my favorite set of signs: “Go harder” with a guy 10 feet past that point with “That’s what she said”. I tossed my arm warmers to them and said wow I’m going fast maybe I’ll PR and kept moving. I actually didn’t even stop to walk at this point. Side note: my goal for this race was to finish and my strategy was to run as fast as I could for as long as I could.

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Couldn’t stop running but Dad wanted a pic, so I ran backwards

This part of the race (miles 5-8) had a lot of crowd support, went through pretty parts of Savannah and I was just speeding along. I couldn’t believe how well it was going. Also I teared up at least once by then thinking about Katie and her battle with cancer and how if she can do that I can keep running. By mile 10 I started to slow down and hit the wall. I saw my parents at mile 8 (they almost missed me because I ran pretty quickly for me) and yelled maybe I’ll PR! I kept trucking through some nice neighborhoods. I hit the wall at mile 10 but kept running. It wasn’t until I hit the split off between the half and the full along with the section of rolling hills, that I realized that yes I went out to fast but wow I just ran over 12 miles without even stopping to walk. I’d never done this before and was so proud. But my legs were cursing me and I started walking the uphills. I looked down at my phone and saw texts from Katie, obviously I teared up again, but tried to fight through the pain in my legs. This off and on worked but that last mile was a BITCH. I got dizzy at one point and then caught my breath and started running again. I took on the last uphill, turned the corner and headed down the finisher shoot. I sprinted by a couple people at that point, had some pretty bad calf cramps and crossed the finish line in 2:46 and change. A little over a minute over my PR but 20 minutes faster than my previous half in Philly and 45 min faster than Chicago.

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Me and Mom after the race. So thankful for my cheer squad!

I really really really ENJOYED this race! And even beat my little cousin :) The course was great,  the weather was perfect and I just had fun. Taking the time stress off of myself did wonders for my mental state. And maybe doing races alone isn’t the best idea for me.

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Family after the race.

So now that I’ve written a book I’ll tell you what my theme is for 2014: The Marathon! I only have one planned (I think that’s enough for now) but I’ve got to work on my training consistency to get there. More on this later!

Half #5 for KT

Today I’ll run my 5th half marathon. I can’t believe that less than two years ago I started running and in the last 11 months I’ve run 5 half marathons.

Today is also my best friend’s 29th birthday. You’ve heard a lot about my BFF, Katie. She’s been there for me through ups and downs and is truly like a sister to me. A couple months ago after noticing something weird on her chest she went to the doctor. Flash forward a week or two (plus a couple doctors and insurance hoops) and Katie was diagnosed with Paget’s disease. It’s a rare disease that causes breast cancer. And before the age of 29 my best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. I can’t even imagine the emotions she was really going through because she stayed extremely calm and collected. And I know in that situation I would have been a total wreck ( I pretty much was a total wreck but never showed that to Katie).
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Luckily Katie caught the cancer in the very early stages but the course of treatment was still shocking, a double mastectomy. She is now a couple weeks out of surgery and doing well, she’s even gone for a run! She’s supposed to run the same race we both ran last year, rock n roll Las Vegas, next weekend. Katie was training her ass off for that race and will hopefully still be able to run the race, just not the PR she was shooting for (KT I know that you’ll get under 2 hours soon!).

Katie was a large part of why I started running, after watching her run her full marathon I knew I was going to run a half the next year. So today I’m running in honor of my best friend, a survivor and fighter. I’ll be in as much pink as I can stomach and thinking of how she fought breast cancer and using that to power my every step. She truly inspires me all the time and I’m so thankful to have her in my life.

Love you KT! These 13.1 miles are for you!

And my PSA: please please please check yourself regularly! If Katie hadn’t noticed so quickly the results might be much different!

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Philly Half Marathon

Today I ran my 4th half marathon and my only goals were to finish and have fun. And I successfully completed those goals.

I highly recommend the Rock N Roll Philadelphia half marathon! The course is flat and takes you through a lot of great areas of the city. It starts and finishes at the Art Museum where the famous steps from Rocky are. It takes you through the sky scrapers (where your GPS watch will lose signal) to the historical areas of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell and back past the museum to the river. You go along the side of the river where the boat houses are for rowing. These were so cute and I really enjoyed this part. I had been feeling strong up until this point and thought I could potentially PR. I tried to ignore all the pain I was in, pretty much everything ached. After a couple miles we went over a bridge, that was surprisingly flat, and turned around to run back along the river. This part was the hardest stretch for me, there was walking every 1/2 mile and it was a mental battle to keep moving. And around mile 9 I knew a PR wasn’t going to happen, but I knew my time would be a huge improvement over Chicago.

There were a lot of musicians along the way, while I had my headphones in, I enjoyed the bag pipe band and some teenagers playing jazz. The race finished with a short uphill to lead you right in front of the museum steps. I picked up the pace here and passed a few people along the way.

My lovely friend from high school, Trudy, was waiting for me at the finish line. She snapped a couple pics for me…

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And then we went to brunch at Jerry’s Bar (get the hashbrowns!!) The food was awesome and the company was even better. I feel so fortunate to have good friends all the place that I’m able to see when I travel.

After brunch Trudy dropped me back at my hotel. I’ve been stretching and relaxing since I have a 6 am flight and go straight into work tomorrow. Tomorrow is going to be rough but I really enjoyed my time in Philly!

Chi Town Adventures

I really like to leave you hanging around here, but life has been really crazy lately and writing just hasn’t happened for me. Work has been busy, I’ve been traveling a lot and I’m under contract on a townhome (more on that in another post). Right now I’m relaxing at my parents’s house in North Florida.

Lets just say that the Chicago race did not go well but everything else that weekend was great. Got to see great people, explore Chicago and saw the best concert I will probably ever see!

I know you’d rather see pics then hear me babble so here we go, Chicago in pictures…

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Lunch outside by the bean

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Taking pics in the bean

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Chicago skyline pic while walking over a bridge

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Looking at the race start

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The view from my corral, OMG so many people

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Race recovery brings out the best fashion statements

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My first Chicago deep dish pizza! Perfect race recovery meal!

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View of Chicago skyline from boat on the way to JT and Jay Z concert

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The ladies after docking at Soldier Field

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When we made it up to the 8th row for the encore!

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Dancing allll night

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More dancing

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Dancing on chairs

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Before the show

I had a great time in Chicago and would definitely go back! Totally recommend Siena Tavern for dinner! That place was amazing!