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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

 

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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.

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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!

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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

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.

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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!

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.

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.

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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Time to get SERIOUS

It’s less than 3 weeks until my next half marathon so I really should have gotten serious two months ago, but better late than never? I’m really going to test the whole crossfit makes you a better runner thing in Chicago.

So lets talk training, the past few months I’ve run very little, maybe once a week, plus the runs in crossfit which is usually around a mile or two a week. The last couple weeks I’ve started upping that, to two or three runs a week plus crossfit 2-3 times a week. I’ve been trying to do a long run (which really aren’t that long) once a week as well. My body really wasn’t feeling the distance but this past weekend I finally had a distance break through and ran 8 miles. It wasn’t perfect but I was mentally strong and was able to push through, I hadn’t done more than 4 miles recently. I really needed this run to go well and it did. I needed the confidence boost and I know I can finish 13.1 in 3 weeks, it won’t be fast and it won’t be pretty! But it will happen even if there is some walking (hopefully no crying). And afterwards I looked really hot…

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And since I don’t have access to a 7-11 for a slurpee I had to make due with a freezoni or freeztini or whatever it’s called from QuikTrip

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The next day I went to crossfit and I was happy to see exercises I could do without modifying the movements. That’s rare for me, anything that involves gymnastics or pull ups is a struggle for me (I can’t even do a cartwheel, seriously) and I have to modify. I eventually want to be able to do these movements but I really have to improve my upper body strength.

This week I ran 3 times and went to crossfit 3 times! I’d say I had a successful week and am finally getting serious about training! And one of those runs was with Bart Yasso, but he deserves his own post, which he’ll get but probably not for a week or so.

I hope you all have a great holiday weekend! My parents are coming up to Atlanta, my mom and I are running the Peachtree Road Race on Thursday! Then we head up to Tennessee for zip lining, white water rafting, boating, slip n sliding and relaxing! I CAN NOT WAIT!

Recent Races

The past few months have been pretty busy for me. Between work, working out and traveling, I’ve been all over the place. And when I’m not doing those three things I’m sitting in my La-Z-Boy recliner watching as much TV as possible. This leads to not wanting to pick up my computer and blog in the evenings. But some really fun stuff has happened in the last few months so let’s get you caught back up.

In March I ran two 10ks, back to back weekends. I really just signed up for these little local races because they said they were relatively flat and I needed to ensure I got the mileage in. The first 10k was in 20-30 degree weather with snow flurries. I wanted to die from the cold, but luckily being the gear junkie I am, I just bundled up in my cold weather gear, stayed in my car as long as possible, and hid behind a building until the race started. There were a couple little hills throughout but nothing terrible. It actually had a downhill finish that I totally dominated (long legs = pick up good speed going downhill) I didn’t carry a hand  held water bottle and just walked a couple steps through the water stops when I needed a drink. This race was with a local running group, for the most part everyone in the 10k was fast. I was running decently for me and was in the back of the pack (which isn’t much of a surprise since I wasn’t really training). I was trying to keep a good pace and noticed a couple other people that I seemed to be staying with most of the race. I tried to keep a couple people ahead of me in my sights at all times. For some reason this race just clicked, maybe because there was no pressure and I didn’t have any expectations after my last 10k disaster last October. My pace was 10:46 and I finished in 1:06:46. This was almost a 7 min PR! I was pretty stoked and know I can continue to improve on this. Fast forward a week and it was time for the next 10k on one of my fav trails, the Silver Comet trail. The trail is flat and goes for miles, this is where I had that 12 miler that ended in the dark (not my safest running experience).  This race was a little bit more slow runner friendly the previous one and flatter. There were a couple hills before we got on the trail, but after that it was smooth sailing. It was crowded because the trail is pretty narrow and it was open to other people, but I didn’t have any trouble. I was also trying to negative split this race. I honestly can’t remember if I did or not, but my avg pace was 10:22 and I finished in 1:04:01. I took another 2:45 off my PR from the week before. I was trying to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. That’s really what 5ks and 10ks are all about. Pushing yourself to the level of discomfort that you can manage for the distance. I felt great during this race and will definitely run it next year. Eventually I would like to get my 10ks under an hour. I know it can happen, it will just take some speed work, which I’m not sure will be happening a lot in the near future. I do have a 10k in 2 weeks for the Peachtree Road Race, but it will be hot and hilly so I don’t expect to have a killer time in that race. Not to mention there are 60,000 people running it, I think it will be a little bit crowded. Basically I ran these 10ks to get some distance in since I was running the Cherry Blossom 10-miler in April.

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Finishing 10k #1 in the 20/30 degree weather. This is right at the downhill finish and I’m pretty sure both of my feet are off the ground. Proof I’m flying!

 

Back in December I found out one of my college BFFs, Meg, was entering the lottery with a group, I joined as did my BFF Katie. We all made it in for the April 7th race in DC. I was super excited for this race and trip. A long weekend with my favorite people is always great. I just didn’t train for the race, I was just going to crossfit two or three times a week (more on this in another post) and trying to get a long run in on the weekend. The weekend before the race I made it 7.5 miles with a little bit of walking. Not really ideal but it was all I could do. We got to DC two days before the race. Meg showed Katie and I around DC, we did a lot of walking, but we got to experience so much of the fun stuff DC has to offer! Probably walked around 10 miles or so in the two days before the race. Needless to say my legs weren’t entirely fresh on race day. My main focus for the race was to not get picked up by the slow bus, so I knew I had to keep the walking to a minimum. I planned on walking through the water stations and not carrying my hand held water bottle. I’m trying to figure out the best hydration methods for me. I’ve tried gatorade and nuun, but I stopped drinking gatorade after my first half marathon in Vegas. I tried nuun during my 2nd half marathon. For some reason (even when I train with nuun or gatorade) during races I crave water and not the sports drink I brought in my hand held. I decided to try just water and a gel at 5 or 6 miles, depending on how I felt and where the water stations were.  Apparently this method worked well for me, I didn’t run my fastest race ever but I felt good and only had to walk during water stations and potty break (I made the mistake of not going right before the race, I had to pee the whole race). I finished in 1:57 and change and I LOVED this race! The route took you by all these great sites in DC. You start and finish at the Washington Monument, you wave at Honest Abe as you go past the Lincoln Memorial and say what’s up to Thomas Jefferson as you run right by him. Lot’s of fun photos from this trip….

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At the National Mall the day before the race

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Carb Loading with a Cherry Blossom Ale

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T Rex at the National History Museum “I’ve got a big head and little arms”

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Me and Katie freezing before the race. It was chilly!

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Check out those nice bruises on my legs, thanks crossfit!

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I was pretty happy most of this race, I have a feeling I will not look like this in a month in Chicago

After Race

With KT and Meg after the race! We loved this experience so much, we decided to sign up for a Ragnar Relay Race!

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Thank you KT for this awesome photo!

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Had to stop by and say Hi to Barrack and Michelle.

I also ran Expedition Everest in May as a team with my mom, our second year doing this race. My mom was coming off of an injury so we didn’t go our fastest but we beat all our family members, plus came in 27th out of 500 women’s team. We’ll take it! They made some changes to the race this year, some I liked, some I didn’t. I didn’t like that the scavenger hunt finish line was all the way back at the front of the park. The scavenger hunt was much longer this year since you had to go back to the front of the park, which I think made it more difficult for people just expecting to do a 5k. I think we did close to 5 miles with the scavenger hunt. I thought the changes to the 5k course were for the better and Disney really puts on a great race. Although I was a little frustrated with the corral situation. There wasn’t enough room in each corral and we weren’t able to get in ours until later on. Signing up early for this race was the best decision we made because that put us in the 2nd corral and eliminated the weaving in and out of people (and kept my mom from yelling at people, I think she only yelled at 1 or 2 people this year). This race is just always a blast and getting to ride the rides at night is always fun. Here’s a couple pics of our Disney weekend…

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The group before the race. I also had more family there, but they hadn’t arrived yet.

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Red, hot, sweaty messes. This is at the end of the scavenger hunt, notice the dirty knees from the sand crawl obstacle.

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Happy to be finished! Love running races with my mom!

So you’re caught up on my races now, sorry for the hiatus. Half marathon season a month away, I can’t run more than 3 miles without stopping right now, so July will be interesting.

 

 

 

 

 

My Fav Running Gear: Shoes

I’ve been saying for a while that I was going to tell you about my favorite gear. Finally my ADD has allowed that to happen. I am a COMPLETE gear junkie and a total sucker. If you try to sell me something in a store, it’s very likely I’ll buy it, especially if I’m in the market for something similar or just need some retail therapy (which is all the time). A big motivator for running and working out for me is new gear. Yes I like to have nice clothes, shoes and running accessories. I can’t help it, but running is my hobby and I’m going to spend money on it, so deal with it. At least my hobby isn’t sitting on my butt watching terrible reality tv and eating cupcakes (oh wait that’s my 2nd favorite hobby behind working out). After starting this post I realized I loved my shoes too much so you’re just getting to hear about my newest show love. Other gear posts to follow, hopefully.

When I first started running I was not particular about things. I was running in my mom’s old running shoes and wearing stuff I normally worked out in. Thankfully the weather in Vegas was still warm at that time. Once I got part way through couch to 5k I decided that I was going to keep up running and I should invest in proper running shoes. I went to a local shoe store in Vegas and got fitted (not the real way with gait analysis and running on a treadmill) for shoes. This guy put me in a stability shoe, probably because I have high arches, without seeing me do any real running. He was very nice and all but he put me in a shoe that was so not right for me. I didn’t have any problems since I was running short distances but when I moved to Atlanta in June, I decided to get fitted at the local Atlanta running store, Big Peach Running Co. since they have this whole fit process. I knew I would be upping my mileage when half marathon training started and I wanted to make sure I was in the proper shoe. Of course I wasn’t and I made the switch then to the Wave Rider 15s, which I absolutely LOVED. You may remember how pretty they are from this awesome post.

After running in the Wave Rider 15s for 4 months or so Mizuno came out with the Wave Rider 16s. Big Peach had a preview where the Mizuno rep came out to the store and you could test out the shoe. I didn’t have anyone to go with me to this awesome event, so I went solo (something I never would have done before I moved to Atlanta). I met with Jay and Ali from Mizuno, tried on a pair of shoes (wanted to run away with them, but I’m sure they would have caught my slow self), and fell in love with this update of the Wave Rider. The only change was to the upper part of the shoe, they changed the mesh which made them lighter. The cushioning and lower part of the shoe remained the same so I didn’t have to worry about it not being the same as the 15s. I tried to buy a pair that night but couldn’t, but Mizuno was kind enough to send me a pair of shoes since I was so in love with the brand and a big fan. I honestly didn’t expect that AT ALL. I really just went to show some brand love, see the new shoe and try to buy a pair before they came out. I actually received my new pair of Wave Rider 16s two days after the preview and I had them a week before they came out. I almost didn’t want to wear them because they were so pretty and I’ve never been cool enough to get a product before it hits the market (especially in running, don’t they know I’m slow). I love the 16s even more than the 15s! The colors are great, the fit is perfect and I can definitely tell a difference in weight. I mixed in the 16s with the 15s until I knew my feet were fine and even did my super quick 12 miler in them during my Vegas training. I wore them for the Vegas race and have been wearing them ever since. Aren’t they pretty…

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iPhone photos are their finest

I loved them so much I decided to by a 2nd pair in another color. You may remember the awesome pictures of my wave rider 15s by my cousin in law, Dan Schultz. He got a hold of my new 16s and sent me this amazing picture…

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Of course his picture is unreal and makes my iPhone photo look sad. Who else is with me that Mizuno needs to hire Dan for their photography? He’s even Atlanta based!

I’ve also convinced him to take some action shots of me running so as soon as its warm enough and he’s not busy working, I should hopefully get some good shots. Check out more of his work here.