My Version of a Vegas Vacation

Since I can’t seem to finish a draft on my marathon training (😴😴😴) might as well share my Vegas vacation fun. The struggle to write about running has been real for me the past couple months. And I started this post a month ago and left it with just a paragraph to go for a month, oops! 

Since I lived in Vegas for 3 years, my visits are probably different then a typical vacation there. I spent 6 days there and really enjoyed this trip. The perfect amount of time for friends, sun, running and great food. I did miss a few friends (former MGM coworkers I mean you) but otherwise I couldn’t be happier with this visit. 

Boarding a terrible Frontier flight. The seat was miserably uncomfortable and a complete tool and his hammered boss/mistress sat next to me. He complained the entire 4 hours on the plane and she spilt vodka all over my carry on bag. Plus they were feeling each other up, while complaining about her husband and daughter. But my clothes were super comfy!

My buddy, Oscar, was happy to see me!

I had to a long run while in town and did laps around the development KT lives in. It wasn’t terrible but OMG hot! The hot air balloons were a nice distraction. I enjoyed a couple podcasts and KT joined me for some of the middle miles. Thankfully she went my pace (because ugh slow in the hot, dry air)!

KT and Valerie introduced me to Cream at Downtown Summerlin. Can someone loan me the money to open a franchise in Atlanta?? It’s the most amazing thing ever! You pick your cookies (red velvet and chocolate chip for me), your ice cream (salted caramel round 1, French vanilla round 2 and 3), and any additional toppings (rainbow sprinkles because I’m 5) and they make you an ice cream cookie sandwich. They even warm the cookies. It’s my favorite place, hence why I made KT go 3 times.

So happy to see Kristin, Vivian and Yara for brunch at Bardot (photo courtesy of Kristin’s fancy camera)! Food was delicious and the company was great. We spent two hours catching up (Yara got engaged and married since we all last saw each other) and it was just nice to be around good friends. 

KT and I drove 2.5 hours into the middle of nowhere Nevada to the edge of Area 51 on the Exterrestrial Highway to run a 10k at 1 am. It was a pretty cool race, small and in the dark on an open road with cows roaming around. The 10k is pretty flat and starts at the Little A’le’inn in Rachel, NV. The elevation is pretty high, 4500-5000 ft, but it was in the 60s with 25 mph winds. I didn’t really notice the winds too much when running. I ended up running mostly alone, but could see everyone lit up along the course. The hardest part was figuring out how far away stuff was. In the last two miles I could see the finish but my Garmin was off so I had no idea how far away I was. I didn’t want to surge too soon. The dryness was killing me and I didn’t carry my own water so I had to stop at all 3 water stops. I ended up 8 seconds off of my PR!! Ughhhhhhhh so I know I should be like yessssss but I had more left in the tank and if it was daylight I may have been faster and pushed at the right time. But at least I know I still have my fitness levels even with the injury (oh yeah I hurt my left peroneal tendon and took a week off) and lack of speed work the last couple weeks. (I’ve added that back in the last month since I wrote that paragraph).

Two of my favorite things, a coke and cherry slurpee and a Capriottis Cole Turkey sub. This has to happen every trip. I think I had 3 slurpees this trip. 


Finally I got to meet Kara’s son Carter! He was a fun bundle of energy and it was great to get to play with him and catch up with Kara. They were sick during my last visit so this was a long time coming and he was just so adorable. Luckily he wasn’t shy and we had fun. 


I love Pho!! Luckily KT is always up for this when I visit. My fav place to go is Pho Kim Long in Chinatown. It’s just off the strip for those of you who stay there when visiting.

Cream round 2! Learned my lesson after the huge mess I made in round 1 and got it in a cup. By huge mess I mean it was all over my hands, face and phone. 

Red velvet pancakes at BabyStacks are SO GOOD! These plus the Huntington skillet and you’re full til dinner! Trust me on this one, you want to go here. 


I always have to go to the Bellagio Conservatory to see the current decoration. I had no idea what it was going in and was really excited to see it was a beach/ocean theme! It was beautifully done and I took a ton of photos but decided only to put 3 here so I don’t bore those of you that could careless 🙂 

After the stop at Bellagio, KT and I stopped by the Linq (the outside shopping area, no way I would ever go inside what was the Imperial Palace just with two name changes) to check out the Polaroid shop and Kitson before hitting up the fashion show mall so I could snag some Birkenstocks (soft bed are the way to go) and the north outlet mall (which got a nice upgrade since my last visit) where I picked up stuff for my Dad at the Columbia store. 

My last night in Vegas was spent with a happy hour and dinner with some UNLV friends (Jen, Sara and Shawnna) at Public School 702 at downtown Summerlin. The venue was interesting and the food and drinks (local craft beers) were good! And it was another quality catch up session with good friends.  

KT and I made our last stop at Cream before heading to Red Rock to meet Valerie for bingo! There was no winning for any of us but it was nice to spend my last night with two of my favorite people doing one of my favorite Vegas activities. 

For my last day before my red eye flight, KT and I headed to downtown Las Vegas. I love the container park and wanted to check out a restaurant. We had lunch at Carson’s Kitchen, then made our way to the container park. We went to a couple shops and I snagged some of the local chocolate to bring back for some coworkers. 

I love seeing how much Vegas has changed for the better each time I visit and I’ll be back next summer for a wedding! 

And so it begins…

Well the off season is officially over and marathon training has begun. I think I had a good off season and was able to build up a great base to start this marathon season in a much better place then I did last year. I wanted to instill some habits during the off season that I hope will continue into the marathon training season.

So what did I do differently…

I spent the first 4 weeks doing the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide but decided that was too much jumping for my sad hip (update on that in a little bit). So instead I decided to go back to my personal trainer once a week and to barre3 once a week. My personal trainer is focusing on upper body and core and barre3 is a great full body workout. I’m already seeing a difference in my arms and shoulders just after a couple weeks, now if my triceps could just make an appearance for the first time ever, that would be great 🙂

I’ve also added yoga to the mix. Infinity Yoga opened a studio not too far from my office and on my commute home. They offer a yoga for athletes class that focuses on areas that runners and cyclists need to stretch and/or strengthen. I LOVE IT! I’ve had 3 different instructors and every class has been different but great. I’ve also been going to the restorative yoga class once a week which I think it my new favorite thing. I even fell asleep during a pose last week. I’ve noticed a change in my flexibility already, especially in the hamstring area and I hope to keep working on that plus my balance with these yoga classes.

I ran, kind of a lot for me (but soon to be not a lot). I maintained 20 mile weeks with long runs from 6 to 10 miles. I raced 4 5ks and had even got a PR. The four 5ks I ran were the Atlanta Track Club Singleton 5k (I love their free races); Girls on the Run 5k; Brookhaven Bolt and the River Run for Hope 5k. I wanted to PR the 5k and 10k during the off season and try to use the speed work I had done in my half training to see where my shorter distance fitness was.

The ATC Singleton 5k was first, I had heard it was a lot flatter than their other races and a good place to attempt a PR. My PR going into it was 28:23 (I think, I’m too lazy to go back and check) and the goal I had in mind was to go under 27 minutes. I know that seems like a big jump, but I was running speed workouts in the 8:25 range so I knew it was possible. Mile 1 I stayed on target pace but quickly realized this course was not what I would consider flat (I live by a very flat trail), although it’s not as hilly as other races. Mile 2 I was just trying to move forward and I was cursing myself for not running enough hillier routes post half marathon. Mile 3 was like just get this over with… and finally it came to an end with a time of 27:53. It wasn’t what I hoped for but it was a PR so no complaints!

First 5k with my pace in the 8s!

The next weekend was the Girls on the Run 5k. Since I’m a coach, my goal wasn’t to PR it was just to have fun. Usually most of our girls have someone to run with them, so I can go on my own and help encourage the girls as I go along. This year it rained and the race got pushed back an hour. One of our girls mom’s couldn’t make it due to the weather and such so I ran with one of the girls. I just can’t say enough how great Girls on the Run is and how fun it is to watch the girls change and progress over time. I ran with one of the girls who mostly walked last year and this year we ran almost the entire race. She dropped 13 minutes off of her time from the previous semester and I saw a competitive side of her that I had never seen before. I ended up carrying her jacket and such so she could focus on running and she was super fast up hills (which made for one tired, red faced coach trying to keep up). She didn’t realize we were ahead of everyone else from our team, and she asked me towards the end if I thought we were ahead of most people. I looked at her and said we’re ahead of everyone, you’re doing AWESOME! And that lit a fire under her and she kept moving. I tried not to push too hard, because this is supposed to be fun and I wanted her to enjoy it but when she realized she was ahead of her best friend she kept running. We finished this race in 32 minutes (my garmin time, GOTR doesn’t time their races and everyone wears the same bib number) and I was so proud of her! After our end the year party her mother approached me and thanked me for running with her. That I brought out a good competitiveness in her that her mother had never seen. That she had pushed herself for the first time while running and she was so proud of herself. Honestly, I had been pretty detached from GOTR this past semester, my own training was kicking my butt and we had split the duties among the coaches so I wasn’t there as much, but the race and the kind words from that mother made me realize how important GOTR is and how much it helps the girls.

After the GOTR 5k, we went with a Wonder Woman theme 

I don’t even really want to talk about the Brookhaven Bolt, is was MISERABLE. And it has nothing to do with the quality of the race (the shirts were GREAT) but just the hills hills hills and humidity that I wasn’t acclimated to yet. I went out way too fast for as hilly as the course was and I paid for it, I can’t remember the last time I walked during a 5k, but I had to walk in this one. Let’s just say this course ate me for breakfast.

I had one last 5k on the calendar for the off season and if I was going to break 27 minutes, it would be at this one. The course was flat and it’s the area where I run all the time (also where my big break through half marathon was last November) with a small field. The race also had a 10k so I knew the 5k wouldn’t be as crowded. I got there with enough time to do a quick warm up, do some dynamic stretching and watch all the Track Club Elites warm up (they love the flat 5ks). I planned on trying to hang in the 8:20-30s as much as I could. I knew it was a slight incline on the way back and I didn’t want to totally burn out. The first mile went by quickly and I felt decent, mile 2 became more of a mental battle but I could see there were only a 10-15 women ahead of me and not many of them looked to be in my age group (3 days before this race I bumped up to the 30-34 age group). I kept pushing, hit the turnaround point and could see there were plenty of people right behind me so I tried to pick up the pace. I don’t think I was successful in that because the slight inclines started to come into play. I didn’t know exactly where the finish was, but knew it was towards the top of the incline, I turned the corner on the nice downhill to the finish and knew I was going to be under 27 minutes and ended up going 26:50, a big PR and beat my mom’s PR. I hung around for the awards just in case and ended up getting 2nd in my age group! That was the first time I’ve ever placed in my age group. Honestly I never thought I would place in my age group ever, and this was definitely a smaller race, so I was really happy to finally do that.

Not bad little prizes for my age group win!


So excited for my 2nd place age group finish!  

Now I’m into week 2 of marathon training and I hope to start doing weekly recaps, or at least bi-weekly recaps, so I will be able to look back at this training and know what worked for the next training cycle. I also have some other post ideas, including a recap of my Grand Cayman trip and a review of my apple watch, to work on so this blog actually talks about something outside of running again.

What’s Up Next

I’m sitting in the airport in grand cayman and decided maybe I’ll use the 3 hours I have to write a blog post. I’ll definitely be writing about this trip soon, it’s been a blast! Instead of making you jealous of that, let’s talk what’s next running wise.

Since my race at the end of March, I’ve been keeping up with running but not burning myself out. I started doing a strength training workout called Bikini Body Guide (BBG) by Kayla Itsines. While I don’t love the name, the workouts are tough!! Lots of jumping/plyometric moves that are killer. My lingering hip pain started flaring up so I’ve been modifying certain exercises that bother it. I’ve been running 3 days a week and slowly upping my mileage to get into the 20s. This week I’m up to running 4 times and will hit 20 miles if all goes according to plan on Sunday. 

After my first BBG workout

I think I’ll be ending the Kayla Itsines workouts or using just certain ones since I start back with my personal trainer on Tuesday. I do think they are effective, it’s just hard to manage with upping my mileage. 

Lots of jumping in this workout 

So what’s next for me? I’ve done something a little crazy and have signed up for a big race in October and April (2016). And to make it even crazier, both races are marathons.

In October I’ll be running the Marine Corps Marathon with the Runner’s World Challenge. I couldn’t handle another lottery so I bought the VIP package and I’m very excited! My internet turned real life friend, Melissa, is also running it and we’ll be rooming together and hanging out that weekend. I know there will be a few hills and I’ll have to have a 40 min PR to beat the bridge as they call it, so it’s a good thing I’ve become a much stronger runner in the last year. 

Training starts June 1, which coincidentally is exactly a year from when I ran my first marathon, and I’ll be working with Jesica again. Sadly though, she no longer will be living in Atlanta so we won’t get to see each other as much. She’s recommended I get my mileage into the mid 20s this month so I’m ready for what’s to come (I hear mid 40s mileage is headed my way). 

 After my first marathon, claiming I’d never do it again. Now I’m signed up for 2 more 😕

After I conquer that race, I’ll be heading to Europe for the first time (unless a work trip pops up) to run the Paris Marathon next year! I’m hoping Alicia and KT will be coming along. Alicia will just be there for Paris and KT and I will add on a couple cities around Europe after the race. 

I’m pretty excited to get these races on the calendar and to see how I can improve my marathon time. I’m sure there will be a few half marathons on the schedule as well. I’m also running the Peachtree Road Race (10k) again on the Fourth of July.

Publix Savannah Half Marathon Recap (another PR!!)

I don’t even know where to begin with this race recap. I can’t even put my emotions into words and on Saturday I couldn’t even express them after the race.

So I guess let’s start from the beginning…

On Friday morning I woke up and packed up my stuff and decided I wanted a good breakfast. I’ve had really good luck with having a big breakfast the day before the race and I’ve become quite superstitious the day before a race. I put on my lucky shirt and bracelets and headed to the diner right by my house. I brought my kindle and enjoyed starting a new book and eating all the carbs. After breakfast I went home and loaded up my car and Matty and dropped him off at his new boarding place.

After that I picked up Jesica and we headed to Savannah. It was a pretty uneventful ride and we checked into our hotel and headed right back out to the expo. We stayed within walking distance of the expo and start/finish line and never got back into the car until it was time to go home. The expo was perfect. It was pretty small but so was the race and the vendors were a great fit for the women themed race. The swag was spot on, not another tech tee that I rarely wear, but a great New Balance gym bag. I also snagged a really cute printed t-shirt at the expo, along with a chocolate- crème brule flavored that they torched in front of us.


Having way too much fun taking selfies in the mirror. Check out all the reflections.


Loved these cookies!! If you’re in Savannah go check out their store. I’m OBSESSED! And fun fact, Girl Scouts stole the idea for the Savannah Smile from their key lime cooler cookie.

After some fun at the expo we put in to go orders at Outback Steakhouse since we both eat plain chicken, rice and bread and Jes typically goes there when traveling for a race. We took it back to the hotel and hung out there for the rest of the evening.

We woke up on race morning, ate breakfast (bagel and a hardboiled egg, heavily salted) and made our way to the start area. We hit up the plentiful port a potties that had no line, took off our extra layers (it was warmer than I thought it would be) and did a nice easy warm up.


I had shirts made for us (by my cousin) as a surprise. We both broke the rule of not running in something new.


We lined up about 5 minutes before the start after a little dynamic stretching and a pep talk. Jesica headed to the front and I lined up with the 2:10 pacer. Jesica and I talked strategy a couple times and since I already reached my goal for the year of 2:15 we decided I had nothing to lose with this race. So I was just going to go for it. I didn’t tell Jesica this but after a tempo run with 5 miles at 9:45 pace, i knew I could throw down miles in the 9s during this race and was planning on going for 2:10. My plan was to keep the 2:10 pacer in site and try to cut the tangents as close as possible since this race had ALL THE TURNS. No joke so many turns due to running through a lot of the beautiful historic squares in the downtown area. It was a little crowded for the first mile or so as we made our way towards the river. We turned around and headed back out towards the park/neighborhoods and the 5k group turned off around the 2.5 mile mark.


Loved this race photo! This was towards the mid way point.

We headed off into the neighborhoods and I was feeling really good at this point. My miles were in the 10:00s for the first two miles and after that I dropped them into the 9:50s. I focused on the tangents and was feeling pretty good. I was definitely working harder than normal but I’ve never really gone for it in a race before. I usually am more conservative at first and then push the back half. We kept winding our way through pretty Savannah neighborhoods and with all the out and backs I was able to people watch to distract myself. If I had been further back or not with a pace group I might have missed some of the turns. The crowd support was pretty minimal for the race and if I hadn’t noticed the small white arrows spray painted on the road I definitely could have missed a turn or two. This wasn’t one of those races where there was someone at every turn making sure you went the right way. Thankfully I didn’t miss any turns, however my watch was really off the mile markers around this point. I missed mile markers 4 and 6 but at all the other ones I was 0.2 over.

A little after mile 6 I spotted Jesica coming back the other direction, we high fived and she realized I was running with the 2:10 pace group and I could tell she was excited about that. We started moving into the park portion of the course and I decided as we were turning into the park that I felt good and we were close to half way so I was going to push ahead of the pace group. I was worried they weren’t really going to be at 2:10 since we were way off the tangents (or so I thought) and I wanted to give myself a little bit of cushion.

We finally hit the first aid station with sports drink around the 7.5 mark (WAY TOO LATE in my opinion) and I was a hot mess trying to drink and run and I’m pretty sure sports drink ended up in my shoe, down my leg and all over my arms and hands. I was ahead of the pace group and was weaving my way around people to keep moving. We came out of the park and started our way back towards the finish.


This was a fun race. I try to smile as much as possible during races to keep my spirits up.

I felt good for the next couple miles but around mile 10 I was just ready to be done. The wind had picked up at this point and it was starting to bother me. No matter which way we turned it always felt like it was in my face. I just tried to keep trucking along. At the 11 mile mark we started turning away from the way I knew we had to go to the finish and I was just like WTF, we had turned so many times at this point and it was super discouraging to turn away from the finish at this point. We did another out and back and on the way back I got passed by the 2:10 pace group. I was struggling to keep moving and was wondering if I had surged too soon. I hit the 12 mile mark shortly after that and realized my garmin wasn’t 0.2 off anymore and I was right on. I quickly did some math and realized I was going to be close to 2:10. I was heading into one of the last squares and spotted Jesica. She had some back to run the last bit with me. I told her I was dying and she kept talking to try to get me to keep moving and as quickly as possible. We weaved our way through the last two squares and my calves were done, one was tightening up if I tried to push any faster so I just tried to keep moving as fast as my body would let me. We hit the park and just had to run around the fountain and across the finish line. Two girls started blocking my way (Jesica was trying to get them to move) and I made my way through them and across the finish line, in 2:10:03. So so close to breaking that 2:10 barrier and over a 5 minute PR.



This was me running towards Jes after the 12 mile mark, my thoughts were ughhhhhh I’m dyinggggggg


Trying to get around these two… I blame them for my 3 seconds over 2:10.


Finally got around them and sprinted to the finish



After crossing the finish line my body was telling owwwwwwwww. I was just immediately sore and noticed a huge spot on my elbow that had some serious chaffing. Like some of the worst chaffing I’ve ever had. I chugged a PowerAde, Jesica and I grabbed a picture and our stuff and we laid down on the ground in the park to enjoy the finish line music.


Love that the photographer caught this moment after Jes and I crossed the finish line.



Post Race- I was still really out of it at this point.

I seriously could not express how happy I was with the result of this race. Taking another 5 minutes off my time is huge and while that’s what I was hoping for before the race, I didn’t know if I was capable of it. I mean eventually the big time jumps will stop right? I don’t know when that will happen and hopefully it’s after I get to the 2 hour mark (that’s always been my goal for a half marathon someday, to get under 2 hours). But it’s just crazy how much I have improved and I don’t know if I’ve even processed that yet.



Saw this beautiful photo spot and had to stop on the walk back to the hotel post race.

So overall I would highly recommend this race, to first timers and slower runners especially! They had a 3.5 or 4 hour time limit and I finished in the top 1/3 of runners, which is rare for me, so this is definitely one that caters to a slower runner. I know what it’s like to finish at the back (oh hi 3:30 half marathon in Chicago that I wasn’t trained for) and get to the finish and have nothing left for you and I thought this race did a good job of incorporating runners of all speeds.

The pros:

  • Flat, fast course in a scenic Savannah.
  • Small, but great expo. I stopped at every vendor and not because stuff was free, but because they were interesting.
  • Fast and efficient bag check.
  • Nice swag: medal and nice New Balance Gym bag.
  • Finish line party wasn’t overwhelming and there was plenty of stuff around to do. Plus a Farmer’s Market just at the end of the park to check out.

The cons:

  • All of the turns! Hard to figure out what direction you were even going.
  • Not enough sports drink on the course (I hope they figure it out and change this for next year).
  • Minimal crowd support. There were barely any spectators until the finish so if you need that to keep you moving this might not be the race for you.

I definitely would go back and do this race again! It’s a great girls weekend getaway race.

And after the race I recommend you go to this restaurant and get the crab cake!



Hopefully I’ll be back in the next week with what I’m up to now and my race plans for the fall, cause it’s an exciting one!

And check out Jesica’s recap here

Lost my running mojo

I have about a month left until my next “goal” race but I already reached that goal during this training cycle and now my mind just is in a weird spot.

After most races I take at least a week off and just sleep in, enjoy being lazier (cause you know I’m lazy regularly) and gain 5 pounds because after a hard training cycle you should get to eat cake and French fries. But this time around the goal race happened in the middle of a training cycle. Originally I wasn’t going to push the pace and just enjoy the weekend with my friends but my training had been going well and I was given the green light from Jesica to go for it as long as I was conservative the first 3 miles. And I went for it and I reached my goal of 2:15! 

Jesica sent me the sweetest card after I reached my goal, I love my coach!

Now my mind just doesn’t know what to do. After two days off I jumped right back into running and I’ve been doing every workout and hitting all my paces for speed and tempo work. I even ran 11 miles this morning. Before the race I was just loving running and now I’m still enjoying it but it feels like a chore.

These 11 were not too bad but not that great

I don’t know if it’s just because work has been super busy and I’m just stressed out or if I’m a little burnt out. I also haven’t been able to join the weekly long run get togethers because girls on the run has started back up and I’m back to coaching Saturday mornings. I miss having people there before and after my runs, even if I end up running alone. 

I’m just not sure where my running mojo has gone. And I think I’m just at loss for what my “goal” race is going to mean to me. What goal am I going for? Can I PR again? How much faster can I go? How nuts is this course going to be with the 30+ turns? Where am I going to eat the night before? Is walking 1.5 miles to the start going to cause problems later on?  On a scale of 1 to crazy I’m like a crazy + 20 right now. 

I’m hoping my running mojo comes back soon… The crazy stress of work is slowing slightly and I’m on round two of this runny nose/sneezing situation but I’m hopeful it will be quick and won’t effect my running. 

And in really exciting news… I bought a car!!!! My old car (that I had for almost 10 years!!!) was starting to show signs of the transmission going bad and I thought it would be a couple weeks before anything happened on the buying front. But I set numbers that would work for me and ford did better than I thought they would. And even better I love my new car (Ford Escape) and I’m very happy with this decision! 

My new baby, you’ll see me parking in the back of the lot 

So if you’re looking for me over the next couple weeks I’ll be driving around in my new car looking for my running mojo. If you happen to find it let me know 🙂

An Awesome Weekend (26.2 with Donna Recap)

I just got back from Jacksonville Beach after a great long weekend with some of my favorite people that involved my favorite activity.

So let’s rewind to Friday, Matty and I loaded up my car in the super cold Atlanta weather and made our way south. My parents agreed to watch matty for the weekend at their house in North Florida and we made a plan to meet at the outlet mall in St. Augustine (mainly because I wanted to check out jeans at the Off Saks outlet).

My Road Trip Partner

Waiting for my parents to arrive

I handed Matty off to my parents after I scored a new pair of jeans and pried myself away from the amazing purses they had to head up to Jacksonville Beach to meet my friends.

We rented an amazing house half a block from the beach. It was a great size and it was nice to have a house as home base instead of a hotel room with that many people. I was the 2nd to last to arrive and our last arrival came not long after me.

We had a great dinner (I highly recommend Salt Life, the restaurant not the stickers on cars) and headed to Trader Joe’s for supplies, lots of wine and chocolate for my friends and race eve dinner for Saturday night for me.

My friends were running the Run with Donna Marathon Relay and I was running the half marathon on Sunday so we spent Saturday checking out the expo, hitting up target, a short walk on the beach and just relaxing.

Beach time! A little too cold to lay out but it was a beautiful day.

The race expo was pretty good for the race size. There were a lot of freebies and my friends talked me out of buying a massager device called a bffer that was super expensive but was AWESOME! So if you have one and live in Atlanta invite me over to use it! I did buy a pair of momentum shoe tags so now I have two pairs and can rotate them among my hokas.

Saturday evening was spent doing a little girl talk and making sure I had everything I needed laid out for the race. While my friends went to one of my favorite places, pita pit, I ate the boring chicken and rice.

My cousin, Kassie, made our shirts. I picked up the shirts at target (c9 is amazing!) and she did the vinyl cutting and pressed it on the shirt. We all loved them and I’m already trying to figure out what type of shirt I can make next 🙂

My race outfit, I couldn’t resist the new punch color oiselle shorts and arm warmers

Race morning I woke up nice and early, ate my bagel and egg, drank some nuun and felt really good. We were planning on getting there early to get ahead of the road closures since our house was on the race course.

We got there with plenty of time, I checked my bag, my friends got coffee, I hit the portapotty and was ready to go. We hung around for a few more minutes before sending Meg and Alicia to their shuttles and took off a layer and shared with those who be sitting out in the cold until their relay legs.

Before the race

Ashley (who we call Blaney) was running the first leg of the marathon relay so she agreed to run with me for her 6 mile leg (she was sick so she was okay with going slower than her normal pace). We headed up to start and got ahead of the 2:15 pace group. I didn’t think I’d be that fast but the pace group was doing a run/walk and I didn’t want them starting and stopping all around me.

At the start ready to go

We started in the 2nd wave and my plan was to be conservative the first 3 miles and try to negative split the race. I was trying to stay in the 10:30s and base the rest of the race off of how that felt.

I really felt great from the start, we worked our way towards the ocean and went along a road with beautiful houses with people outside cheering. It was trying to reign myself in at this point because I definitely wanted to go faster but didn’t. Blaney stayed with me through this part and we passed Jeff Galloway, said hi and kept moving.

Around mile 5 we went past our house and waved to the empty home. Blaney handed off the baton at mile 6 and I kept moving. I turned and realized we were heading to the beach portion of the race, I cursed and the girl next to me said its not too bad and it’s only a mile. I worked my way to the hard packed sand and kept moving. It wasn’t as bad as I thought and I enjoyed the scenery. As I was making my way off the beach Katie was cheering there while waiting for her leg to start (a couple hours later).

This was around mile 7 and I was heading back towards the finish line. I was still feeling pretty good and decided to really start pushing myself and stay in the low 10s.

We were running one street over from before and the crowd support was still great. I was really just enjoying myself and feeling really strong.

We came out of the neighborhood and headed to my least favorite part of the course, the last 3 miles on this kind of high way. There wasn’t much crowd support and we were head on into pretty strong winds. I had to keep my head lowered so my visor wouldn’t fly off. I was still feeling strong and kept moving. I was starting to pass more people at this point, which is something new for me at the end of a race. I could see the one “hill” of the race looming ahead in the form of a bridge and I was staying a little conservative to make sure my legs didn’t die out on the climb over the bridge.

As I was making my way up the bridge the elite men marathoners came running by looking pretty good for mile 25 of their race, I enjoyed cheering for them and distracting myself from the hill. My pace started to slow about half way up but I kept moving as fast as I could and eventually made it to the top where there was a large cheer station.

I just wish the way down on the bridge was as long as the way up. We went off the highway, made a turn and I could see the finish, kind of. I couldn’t actually tell where the finish was and I knew my garmin was off from the beach running. I tried to pick up the pace but my legs were like, ummm nope. I went as fast as I could and realized I was going to be in the 2:15 range (just to refresh your memory that was the goal I wanted to hit by the end of the year).

I crossed the finish line in 2:15:17 (previous PR 2:20:13) and I was so happy about it! I fought back the happy tears (when did I become so emotional??) and saw Blaney cheering for me just past the finish line. I grabbed my medal, had some teenagers attach ice to my hip and made my way out of the finishers area.

Post race, so happy with my PR!

I met up with Blaney, we grabbed my bag and hit up the dunkin donut tent for munchkins and a bagel + the beer tent because I had to celebrate a 5 min PR! We found a place to sit and hung out waiting for everyone to finish their legs and make their way back to the area.

After the race

Finishing the post race beers before getting on the shuttle to our car at the start.

On the shuttle selfie

This was such a fun race! The water stops seemed well stocked, I only grabbed Gatorade at two of them because I carry my own water. The parking was really easy, there was plenty of food pre and post race, the medal was nice and the support along the course was awesome.

The medal is so cute and looks good on my new medal hanger

You really couldn’t ask for a better race and we couldn’t stop talking about wanting to do it again next year!

Used my new selfie stick to get a group wrist tattoo pic

I really needed the weekend away. Work has been a little stressful with deadlines and it was great to unplug and spend time with my favorite people. It’s so rare we’re all in the same place and I’m so grateful for the awesome friends in my life.

Can’t wait to do it again!

What lies ahead in 2015

How hard do I want to work to reach my running goals?

That’s the question I asked myself on the treadmill this morning as I was running 6 x 800m intervals at 8:34 per mile pace. I was on the 5th interval and I had no idea how my legs were going to keep moving that fast to a. complete that interval and b. not fall off the treadmill in the process. And I answered my question by finishing that 800m and then finishing the 6th.

After my 6×800 workout, so proud of myself for toughing it out

I’d be lying if I told you I thought could run that pace, every week I look at my training plan and think OMG how am I going to do that.

But somehow I do it, I’m able to run these times I never thought I could. I’ve always hoped I could be faster but after my marathon last year I didn’t know if I could.

This year I haven’t set too many goals, my main running goal is to run a half under 2:15. I think it’s possible, maybe in the spring and definitely in the fall.

My spring goal race is the Savannah Women’s Half on March 28. I love running in Savannah, it’s flat and this course is different than the rock n roll course I ran in Nov 13. I’m excited for a long weekend in a fun city and I’m looking forward to some good food and drinks after the race.

Before I make it to my spring goal race I’m making a stop in Jacksonville for the Run with Donna 26.2 (don’t worry I’m only doing 13.1). It’s a fun girls weekend to celebrate KT being completely done with her breast cancer treatments. 5 of my friends will be doing the marathon relay and I’ll be running the half. I’m so excited to spend a weekend with my friends and have fun!

I’m toying with the idea of a summer sprint triathlon but I have to get over my fears of open water swimming and the whole I broke my jaw falling of a bike as a kid thing. I bought a used road bike and got a trainer to practice riding on it in place this winter. I’m hoping I’ll build some confidence to make it outside in the spring.

In the fall I have a half marathon in mind but I’m waiting for the date/course to be released before I make my final decision. Also I have to enter the NYC marathon lottery because the likelihood I get in is so small I pretty much have to enter every year.

How hard do I want to work to reach these running goals? Hard! I’m working my butt off running 5-6 days a week with 1-2 days of cross training (workouts with my personal trainer or barre3) and I’m still working to lose the last 5-10lbs (that’s another post that I should write).

I’m really excited to see where my running goes in 2015. I finally feel like I’m in good shape and have built a strong foundation to achieve my goals!

Looking Back at 2014

A couple weeks ago I went to a fun running bloggers Christmas party and to introduce ourselves during the white elephant we had to say our biggest running accomplishment for 2014.

Blogger Party Courtesy of Elizabeth’s Instagram

This really was an interesting question for me because I had a really good 2014 and didn’t really know which thing I was most proud of.

Obviously crossing the finish line of my first marathon was huge and something I’m really proud of but in all honesty I’m a much better runner now. I know I can do better at 26.2 and someday I’ll prove that. This was my answer but really I’m more proud of a few other things.

My PR in the half marathon was probably the most surprising accomplishment. Not the fact that I PRed but that I ran as fast as I did. Since I’ve already recapped that I won’t go into too much detail, but taking 25 min off my best time was so amazing! I was thinking maybe a 2:25 half but 2:20 just seemed so far away and then it just happened. I just loved everything about that experience (minus the migraine). I’m also so thankful that my parents were able to be there and cheer me on. I’m sure my mother didn’t love that I beat her PR but I know she’s proud of me and the effort I’ve put into my running this year.

After my half marathon PR!

I rounded out November by running two more half marathons (Rock N Roll Las Vegas and ATL Thanksgiving Half). I don’t recommend doing that! But I was happy that both of those races were faster than any of my 2012/2013 halfs. I’ve gotten the half marathon tally up to 8! Definitely my favorite distance to race.

My most recent big accomplishment was a 5k PR in December. After the 3rd half I took 10 days off. I ran a couple times the week of the 5k, with a little bit of strides thrown into two 3 mile runs. I ran a small local 5k that started at a middle school and went to the ATL belt line (the beltline is this amazing trail system through Atlanta that will hopefully connect one day and be a 20 mile loop) down a little ways and then back to the school. I picked this race because it would be flat (or so I thought) and its a pretty area of town. My garmin hadn’t been working since thanksgiving (apparently I needed to download software updates) so I ended up running this race pace blind. I basically pushed myself as fast as I could and tried to keep moving. There weren’t mile markers but it was out and back (the finish was slightly different than the start) so I had a general idea where I was. We turned off the belt line and literally went up a steep hill and by this time I was dying! And when I reached the top I was rewarded with a downhill and then realized the finish was up another hill. I just kept trucking along and crossed the finish line in 28:23! My previous PR was from November 2012, 29:41, so this was a big jump for me. I had NO IDEA I was running that fast and I probably wouldn’t have run that fast if I was using my garmin.

After my 5K PR!

On top of PRing the 5k, 13.1 and 26.2 (by default) I’ve also tried to get my eating habits under control. While I definitely wouldn’t say I eat clean, I am eating better and trying to maintain a balance. And I’m down around 28lbs and only have a few more to go to reach my goal weight. All under 6 months (1/7/15 is my 6 months with weight watchers) and I couldn’t be more proud of how 2014 has turned out for me!

I’m excited to see what 2015 has in store for me! More to come on that soon….

Thank you all for all the support this year, I’m so grateful for all the amazing people in my life!

Area 13.1 Recap (hint hint I PRed)

On November 8th I ran my first half marathon in a year. After running 4 halfs in 2013, I spent the first half of 2014 training for my first marathon. I knew after I finished that I had to make some changes and I wanted to PR a half marathon.

I started working with Jesica again and she really pushed me to step out of what I had been doing and really go for it. And as the training cycle progressed (and my weight continued to go down) my times were getting better and better. Paces that were hard to keep for a 5k became my long run paces. And all that hard work paid off last night.

I picked my goal race based off of a couple things: date, course (flat flat flat) and location. Originally Rock N Roll Vegas was going to be my goal race but when my childhood bestfriend chose the night before as her wedding date I knew that was out (I did however still run in Vegas, just flew in the day of the race). Then I found a race the weekend before Vegas, on the trail/road that I run on all the time about 2 min from my house. It seemed perfect (other than the 5:30 pm start time) and in reality it ended up being perfect.

The race I chose was the Area 13.1, there were definitely some pluses and minuses to this race. Packet pick up was super easy, I was able to grab it the Sunday before from my local Lululemon. The race was fairly small which made race day logistics much easier.

Since the race was at 5:30 I had to sit around all day until it was time to run. My parents came to town with my grandmother to meet the newest member of the family. So luckily my parents were able to spectate and be there for the race. My morning started kind of strangely, I had to eat chicken and rice for breakfast. My nutrition plan for the day was to eat my typical dinner the night before a race for breakfast, so a chicken breast and 2 cups of white rice was breakfast. After that I was on a bagel and hard boiled egg diet until after the race. I ended up eating two bagels and two hard boiled eggs. I ended up with a fun sinus headache but I don’t like how I run when on my migraine medicine so decided to not take anything.

I got to the race later than I anticipated so I didn’t get in my full warm up, but did a couple minutes of jogging and did dynamic stretches until the start. I also took a salted watermelon GU about 30 min before the race.

My head was still hurting pretty good at this point and I was hoping adrenaline would kick in and make it go away. There were no corrals so I lined up towards the middle and was surprised at how many people had on long sleeves and long pants. The weather was perfect high 50s that would drop to the high 40s by the end, which for me that means a tank top and shorts.

Right after the start
The first mile was on the road and I was trying to keep myself from going out too fast, I let people pass me because I knew if I went out to hard I would crash. The first 4 miles were pretty congested, around 1.5 you go into a narrower trail into the woods and people were walking and blocking the trail. This was my slowest mile, but after we got out of there around mile 3 I started to pick the pace back up. It was still crowded and the course was really weirdly planned out. There were a lot of random out and backs. The one around mile 3 was really confusing and kind of a mess but not nearly as bad as mile 4 back in Riverside park. They did a bad job directing runners but my parents were at this split and pointed me in the right direction.

By this point I really wanted Gatorade, they said there would be Gatorade at 4 and 7.5 but there was nothing at 4. I waited til 5 to take my gu in case Gatorade magically appeared but it didn’t. At this point I realized I was moving pretty quickly, a lot of my miles were in the high 10s, but I felt really good. My head had stopped hurting and I was just cruising. It was pitch black and I was really happy to have worn my headlamp. Around mile 5.5 the lead guy came running past (and then by me again quickly after that) and he was moving! Between 6 and 7 we hit the two “hills” of the course but they’re not too bad and I’ve run them a bunch in training runs.

I found the elusive Gatorade at mile 7.25 and was glad I did, I was starting to feel a little off and the Gatorade made me feel better within a couple minutes. Again I was cruising and was starting to really pass people. I’m usually getting passed so it was nice to be the person doing the passing. The next few miles felt the longest but my body felt good and I just kept moving. Around mile 10 I realized that I could come in around 2:25 (my garmin was short by 1/4 mile but I didn’t realize it when I was calculating) and I wanted to keep that up. I took another GU here and then kicked it up a notch. I made the final turn around and new I was about 1.9 miles from the finish. Since I run this course often I know the mileages and realized my garmin was off at mile 12. And then I did more math and realized I could beat my mom’s PR if I kept it up. I got a pretty bad shin splint but there was no way I was stopping.

Before the race I had never run longer than 12.4 without stopping, not even during marathon training. I wanted to get over that hump, even if I was running 15 min miles, I was going to keep running. Luckily I ran some faster miles and was cruising to the finish. I got a little caught up on a boardwalk piece of the trail behind a woman who was not happy when I yelled on your left and ran by her. She did the same to me about .1 from the finish but then I sprinted past her because I wasn’t going to let her finish ahead of me. I crossed the finish line at 2:20:13!! Over 25 min PR and over a minute faster than my mom’s PR.

After the race

I never really thought this time was possible. 2:30 was my goal, but I thought 2:27ish was possible. I felt great most of this race and didn’t really have any bad miles. Mentally I was much better off than I usually am. I never hit a mental wall like I have in every other race.

I just couldn’t be happier with my performance. I worked really hard to get to this point and I’m really proud of myself for accomplishing multiple goals during this training cycle.

Hopefully my vegas recap isn’t too far off since I just finished that race this past Sunday.

Up next: Atlanta Half Marathon on thanksgiving day!

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.

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.

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!