Friday, August 29, 2014

Race Recap & Review: Charm City Trail Run 5k at Boordy Vineyards

Earlier this month, Matthew and I ran one of our favorite 5ks- the Charm City Trail Run 5k at Boordy Vineyards. We ran this event last year and had a great time so coming back was a no-brainer. As I've mentioned before, Charm City Run is my favorite running store and they produce quality events- we always try to make it down to Baltimore when they're having a race.

This race takes place on a Sunday evening; I believe this was the fourth or fifth year. It can only accommodate 800 participants and it sells out early every year. Matthew and I arrived to the vineyard around 5:00 pm and had no problems with getting parking near the start line. We actually drove under the start/finish line which was kind of cool.

Once we parked, we went into the winery to pick up our bibs, t-shirts, and wineglasses. Then we met up with my dad and his girlfriend. This race allows spectators to come hang out in the winery and listen to a band while the participants run the race. Since we had some time to kill, we snacked on some crackers and cheese that dad brought and just enjoyed The Dan Haas Band- which my dad kept referring to as the "damn house band." :-)

At around 5:50, we headed over to the start line. Since we knew this course, both Matthew and I felt pretty confident that we could run a good race. The first quarter mile was in the vineyard, then we ran out onto the road and went down hill for about a mile, and then turned around and came back up the hill and back into the vineyard to finish.

However, what I don't remember about this race was it being so crowded! Especially in the narrow and unstable grassy areas of the vineyard. Maybe I started too far in the back of the pack this year, but it was pretty miserable for the first half mile.

Narrow... but a beautiful view.

Now because I knew this route, you think I would have saved up some energy for the last uphill mile aka "the death march." I didn't. I ran the first two miles in just under 22 minutes- under an 11 minute/mile pace. The last mile was closer to 13. Whomp, whomp. I finished in 33:25. About 30 seconds away from a PR but still 30 seconds faster than this race last year. I'll take it. Matthew finished in 28:21- he's speedy. And he did it using regular run/walk intervals; usually he just walks when he needs to but he's been successfully trying out regular intervals like a rock star.

After the race, we headed into the barn to grab some free food and drinks. They had an awesome spread of veggies, crackers, hummus, cheese, and fruit. I also bought a bottle of the Vidal Blanc and enjoyed a fabulous glass of wine.

Turning back into the vineyard for the last quarter mile.

Good eats.

All in all, this is a great race and is totally worth the entry fee of $40. We ended up hanging out for about an hour after the race just enjoying the band. We also met a man who wanted to photo bomb us with his cooler. I think he'd had quite a few glasses of wine! If you're ever in the Baltimore area in mid-August, definitely check this one out.


A good time was had by all. 

QOTD: What's your favorite 5k? What makes it awesome?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Back to Basics: Race Etiquette

I've been thinking about this post for a while and after some of what I saw at last weekend's race at Boordy Vineyards, I feel like I needed to just get it out.

I want to chat about race etiquette- the general do's and don'ts during any kind of running or walking event. You may be thinking, "Sarah, it can't get much simpler. Just start when they say go and then keep going until the finish line." And you'd be right- except that a lot of crazy and sometimes rude (usually not intentional) stuff happens in between the start and finish.

Race etiquette is important not only for maintaining a positive and fun atmosphere but also for runner/walker's safety. Anytime you have a large group of people in one place there is bound to be risk involved. But if we all follow a few simple rules of etiquette, a race can be an enjoyable event for all participants!

DO seed yourself appropriately. 
If your race does not have starting corrals, line up according to pace: faster runners in the front, slower runners and walkers in the back. This sounds really easy, but I can't tell you how many times I've had to slow down my race pace considerably because it just wasn't safe: too many walkers/slower runners in a congested area mixed in among faster runners. Conversely, if you are super speedy, please don't line up in the middle or back of the pack and then try to zoom past slower runners- it's creates an unsafe race for everyone.

I always line up about 3/4 of the way back and I've never really had any issues with feeling like I'm too far forward or too far back. In a perfect world, here's how I think it would work for a 5k:

DON'T stop in front of the water station. 
Most races have tables of water with eager volunteers handing out cups full to runners. In order to avoid a collision with others, grab a cup and keep moving! If you want to stop and walk to drink, please move to the opposite side of the water station so you don't impede other runners. I nearly ran into a woman last weekend when she came to a dead stop in front of the water station and waited for a volunteer to pour her a cup of water- even though there were several other volunteers handing out cups of water past the one she was waiting for.

Tip- don't try to get water from the first volunteer or table- they are usually mobbed. Run to the next table/volunteer- they will usually have plenty of water available without the crowd of runners trying to grab at them.

DO let other runners know if you are walking/stopping/slowing down. 
I'm a Jeff Galloway-er. I run/walk/run at predetermined intervals. This means that I'm slowing down to a walk every 1-2 minutes. To let runners behind me know that I am slowing down, I simply raise my hand for a few seconds before and after I start to walk. That way I don't get run over :-) Also, if you need to walk, slow down, or stop, move to the side of the course- preferably the right side. This follows the basic rule; try not to impede other runners.

DON'T walk or run more than two abreast. 
Matthew and I run a lot of races together. Sometimes I run with three or four people. But we always try to be no more that two across. And if we are running on a narrow course, we run single file. Again, you don't want to block the course with more than two people running or walking side-by-side.

DO keep moving through the finisher's chute.
Once you've crossed the finish line, keep moving. Again, there are going to be many runners coming in behind you and collisions are not fun. Grab your free banana, a water, and move to the side to get your finisher picture.

DO cheer for other runners.
Before, during, and after the race, don't forget to cheer for your fellow runners! You'd be surprised how easily you can make someone's day with just a little "looking good, runner!"

Following these simple tips can help ensure a fun-filled event for all participants. So, get out there and race with proper etiquette! :-)

QOTD: What else is on your race etiquette do's and don'ts list?

Monday, August 25, 2014

AM: 8/25/14

I'm back!!!!!

I feel like I've been in the twilight zone for the last few days! It was new student move-in and orientation at the university I work for this past week and I've worked the last seven days straight- including a few 16 hour days. Plus, we celebrated Matthew's birthday and we attended a "welcome back" picnic at work- lots of food and weird hours!

My eating and working out routines were totally disrupted and I am feeling kinda crappy about how this week ended up. I did get my five workouts in and I did get to a Weight Watchers meeting this week but I went waaaaaaay over my points and started this week with a balance of -27. Boo. And my weight stayed exactly the same as last week. Double boo.

Monday- 2 mile walk
Tuesday- 45 minute run
Wednesday- 20 minute toning band DVD
Thursday- 45 minute run
Friday- Rest day
Saturday- 9 mile run, 12:29 pace
Sunday- Rest day

Total mileage: 18.8 miles

This week's nutrition was all over the place. I ate quite a few times at our campus dining hall including midnight breakfast- it was pretty delicious; I haven't had a hash brown patty in months!

I was able to sneak down to Panera between work events and grab a full sized Napa Almond Chicken Salad Sandwich. It was the perfect blend of protein, carbs, and yum to help fuel me through a busy week.

For Matthew's birthday, we ate at a ridiculously good barbecue place, Redd's Smokehouse BBQ in Carlisle, PA. The portions were so big that I actually got THREE full meals out of one dinner. And it was completely worth the points.

Breakfast, mint chocolate whoopie pies, dining hall salads, BBQ, and Napa Almond Chicken Salad.

157.2 pounds as of 8/19/14 weigh-in.
-0 from last week.
-33.2 since January 2013.
-43.6 since heaviest: 202 in 2005.

Update on summer goals:
At the beginning of June, my Weight Watchers leader had us write down our goals for the summer and I'm happy to report that I've met all three-

  • Weigh 160 pounds or less.
  • Earn at least 20 Activity Points each week.
  • Attend a Weight Watchers meeting each week.

No matter what the scale looks like on Wednesday (my weigh-in day) from this crazy week I've had, I am proud of what I've been able to accomplish this summer. This is the first summer in a long time where I felt like I was able to stay on track, both with eating and exercising, and I am hopeful the fall season will be just as productive and healthy.

QOTD: What word would you use to describe your summer?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Meet the #runAkron Team: Coach Jeff

In just 39 short days, Team #4PrincessesAndAFrog will be reunited and running the Akron Marathon Relay together! In today's post, you'll meet Jeff; our "Coach Frog." I first "met" Jeff through #runchat on twitter and he's become a dear friend in the last few months. He's a super fast, super experienced, and super fun to be around runner- just read this post and you'll know why he's our favorite frog!

Name:  Jeff Smercani
Location:  Pittsburgh, PA
Favorite Race Distance:  Marathon
Races on your “Bucket List”:  Tough question! I’ve completed some of the best in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Disney World, Las Vegas, Niagara Falls, Pittsburgh & Twin Cities to name a few. I guess the big ones left to concur would be Big Sur, LA, London, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco and the original course in Athens, Greece.

How did you start running?  
I was overweight - 205# at my heaviest and would get out of breath going up a flight of steps. I received a call that my Grandmother whom at 84 years of age was diagnosed with breast cancer and going through treatment.  I decided to run the local Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure to raise money for Breast Cancer in honor of my Grandmother's fight.  I became hooked on running and ran my first marathon a year later.

What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you/weirdest thing you’ve seen while out on the road?  
I was training on my favorite trail and came upon a deer standing off the side of the trail. As I caught up to it, I fully expected the deer to run off. Instead it looked me right in the eyes and started to run alongside me for several yards!  I thought I had a new training partner there for a while.  You gotta love nature!

I can’t run without...
My Garmin.  It keeps me consistent with my training pace and I’m obsessed with running accurate distance! 

What’s the best piece of running advice you’ve been given?  
During my first marathon the Pace Team Leader told us “You can’t bank time! You bank energy!”  For every minute ahead of pace in the first half of a marathon, you generally give that back plus an additional minute for each one you are ahead. Very smart advice.  I’ve learned this lesson the hard way more than once!

In the starting corral for a race you can find me...
Nervously bouncing, swaying side to side and praying for a safe race for all competitors, volunteers, race officials, safety personnel and for God to allow me to perform to the best of my ability on that day.

If you could go back in time, what’s one thing you wish you’d known before you started running?  
Take nutrition and hydration seriously!  Listen to your body, take ample rest days and allow injuries to heal properly. Eat a good quality meal full of complex carbohydrates to fuel your run the next morning.  You can’t cheat on your training! Make sure you get your long training runs in; they are the foundation of your training for a successful and enjoyable race. Also try to enjoy the races more. I’m never going to win; therefore I enjoy the atmosphere, talk more and enjoy meeting people.  

When I’m not running, I’m...
Enjoying Trivia with my friends (I’m a self-proclaimed Trivia Geek), chatting on Twitter, planning or day dreaming about my next runDisney trip with my wife or watching movies.  I’m a diehard Red Sox, Steelers and Penguins fan.

What’s your favorite post-race food?  
Immediately after finishing a Marathon - My wife usually has my Kettle Chips and an iced tea.  Then it’s on to the BBQ, Bacon, Cheeseburger and Salty Fries!  BRING ON THE SALT PLEASE! :-) 

My running mantra is...
“A Consistent Comfortable Pace - Wins My Race!”

If you could run with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?  
Besides my Akron Marathon Relay Team? :-)  I’ve already met and had the opportunity to run with some of the Greats – Bill Rogers, Dick Beardsley, Jeff Galloway and Kathrine Switzer.  I’d love to run alongside Meb Keflezighi, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Paula Radcliffe and Shalane Flanagan provided they slow down to my pace! :-)

About Jeff:
I’ve completed marathons in 11 states and Canada.  I’m a runDisney fanatic having run 7 Disney Marathons, 3 Goofy Challenges, the Dopey Challenge this year and registered for Dopey next year as well.  I just completed my 30th Marathon running my hometown Pittsburgh Marathon with my Akron Marathon relay teammate and friend Lauren Bailey helping her complete back to back marathons while raising money for a worthwhile charity.  I’ve recently started pacing and coaching friends offering a variety of tips, techniques and training plans.  I’m starting to consider “crossing the line of sanity” and attempting my first Ultra run of 50K or longer.  I’m active on Twitter - Give me a follow at @JSmerc26pt2 - I enjoy chatting, talking about running, races and meeting fellow runners. 

And there you have it; the whole #4PrincessesAndAFrog Team: Jeff, Steff, Lauren, Chelsea and me. The next Akron posts will be of the actual race- can't wait! Blue Line, I hope you're ready for us! :-)

Monday, August 18, 2014

AM: 8/18/14

Happy Monday, y'all!

It's time for another dose of accountability. I cannot believe that summer is almost over! It feels like it just started! As some of you know, I work on a college campus and all of our students move in this week which means it's the beginning of my busiest time of year. I am hopeful the habits I've been able to set during the last few months will help me cruise through this fall semester without any gains on the scale or losses in training.

Let's get to how this week played out-

Monday- 2 mile fast run in my new Sparkle Skirt!10:25 pace
Tuesday- 45 minute speed workout on the treadmill
Wednesday- 30 minute Pilates DVD
Thursday- easy hour run, 5.15 miles
Friday- Rest day
Saturday- 2.5 mile walk
Sunday- 5k in 33:25

Total mileage: 16.9 miles

After the awesome week I had last week with lots of cooking, there wasn't enough time to do that this week. Though I still made good choices, I wish I'd had more time to cook healthy meals at home. 

I did get to spend some quality time at Panera on Saturday morning with a Power Breakfast Sandwich and a Chai Tea Latte. Totally worth the 14 PPV. And the sandwich powered me through a nice cross-training walk on Saturday while keeping me full until lunch. You should definitely try it the next time you're there for breakfast.

I have been eating TONS of summer fruits; the Crab Topped Chicken from Olive Garden is fabulous;
and Panera never disappoints.

157.2 pounds as of 8/13/14 weigh-in.
-.6 from last week.
-33.2 since January 2013.
-43.6 since heaviest: 202 in 2005.

Other cool things:
  • I got to lead #wwchat on Wednesday and it was so awesome! If you tweet, check it out on Wednesdays at 8 pm. Just use the hashtag #wwchat to find us on twitter.
  • On Sunday, I got a call from the President and Founder of Enell, Renelle Braaten. For real, THE PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER OF ENELL CALLED ME ON THE PHONE! I just about died from excitement! We chatted for the better part of an hour and she is the most wonderful, down-to-earth woman who has such great things to say about how Enell is empowering women through a sports bra. And of course, we talked and laughed about boobs, sports, and men. She's my new favorite person :-)
  • Yesterday I ran the Boordy Vineyards 5k again.  I was 15 pounds lighter and ran it in 30 seconds better than last year. I love seeing tangible results from training!

That's all for this week! Stay tuned for a fun race recap coming later this week!

QOTD: How was your week?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Race Recap & Review: Chocolate Tour

This past Saturday, my two loves merged: chocolate and running. The Chocolate Tour 10k race was part of a multiple distance tour benefiting the Penn State Hershey Melanoma Center. You had the option of a 10k run, a 10k walk, and various biking distances.

Since Hershey is about an hour from where we live, we got in the car super early for a weekend- 6:45 am. Along with Matthew and me, our friends Jen and Julie came along to complete their first 10k race! Exciting!

Our race was scheduled to begin at 8:30 am. We arrived to the race site (the Milton Hershey School Sports Complex) around 7:55. There were no signs for parking so we drove around for a while looking for something that could be a race start. Eventually, we found a parking lot near the track/sports complex and were able to park. We were cutting it close on time- I like to be totally ready at least 30 minutes before a race- I think runDisney early starts are rubbing off on me!

We were able to quickly get our packets (with Snickers bars included!), t-shirts, and bibs. As we lined up, I noticed there weren't a ton of runners- this was definitely a biking event with a run added on. One weird thing- they had timing chips for our shoes that we were supposed to thread our laces through. I have speed laces so I couldn't get the laces through the holes. Luckily, I had an extra safety pin and was able to arrange it so it would stay on my shoe. Annoying, but no big deal. At the starting line we all agreed to run our own race but at the last minute I decided to stay with Julie.

Ready to rock these 6.2 miles! Or something like that :-)
I'm pretty sure MacGyver would be impressed.

Without much fanfare, we were off! The entire course was on the grounds of the Milton Hershey School property. This is a live-in school so it was almost like a mix between a college campus and a suburban neighborhood. It was a little hilly and with the sun beating down on us, it started to get warm.

Julie and I started with 2:1 intervals and kept that up for the first three miles. Then we switched to 1:2 intervals. At one point, we were running near two other sets of run/walkers and we kept passing each other- I finally yelled out, "Let's all get on the same interval!!" :-)

The coolest part about this course were the mile markers- at each one there was a different type of chocolate offered! I stopped for the Reese's Cups and the Hershey's Kisses- both are my personal favorite. However, my stomach didn't think this was such a cool idea so I stayed away from the rest of the chocolate offered on the course.

Once we finished, there was a great finisher's table with water, gatorade, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, whoopie pies, and full-size candy bars! It was awesome! We also each got a free ice cream. I got the salted caramel and it was so ridiculously good. The volunteers were absolutely wonderful- they were encouraging us to take whatever food we wanted and even told us to take some whoopie pies home. You can't beat a homemade Pennsylvania whoopie pie :-)

In between the race and all the goodness we ate afterward, we actually squeezed in another two miles on the track at the sports complex. As you may remember, Jen and I are running the Divas Half Marathon in DC in less than a month so we wanted to get an 8 miler under our belts. We have one more long run to go; a 10 miler next weekend and then we will be ready for her first half!

At the race, there were a few local vendors giving out free stuff. It was mainly heathcare related and one table was giving out small samples of lotions and sunscreen. As we were picking up a few bottles, the dude at the table handed us each an entire BOX of sunscreen and then gave us empty boxes to fill up with whatever we wanted! These little guys are small enough that we'll be able to carry them on longer runs- so neat!

No lie, we walked away with 40+ bottles of lotions and sunscreens.

Overall, this was a great value for a local race. Yes, there will always be issues with signage, organization, parking, etc- every race has issues. But this one had great volunteers, a novel concept, and lots of free stuff for the runners. I think we'd definitely do this one again. And, Jen and Julie totally rocked their first 10k! I am so proud of them and can't wait to see where their next race will take them.

Yay for first-time 10k finishers! 

QOTD: If not chocolate, what food/drink would you love to see at each mile marker of a race?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Virtual runDisney Blog Hop: Costumes for Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Welcome to the Virtual Disneyland Half Marathon Blog Hop! By clicking on the icon below, you can learn all you need to know about the upcoming Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend from bloggers who've run through the parks and are eager to share insider knowledge with you! Though Matthew and I are sad we won't be running on the other coast this year, we had such a fun time doing the Dumbo Double Dare in costume last year and are excited to relive the magic again with this post. So, let's get to the costumes!

Virtual Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Blog Hop Directory
For real, all you want to know is here- just click!

It's no secret- I love to run in costume. Especially at Disney! When thinking about dressing up for a race, there are tons of things to consider. This post will attempt to answer some questions and provide some tips/ideas for costumed running.

Tip #1: PLAN
Before you even get started on a costume, there is a lot to think about:
  • Who or what do you want to dress up as?
  • How much time do you have to work on it?
  • What's your budget?
  • Do you want to use these clothes/costume again?
  • Store-bought or homemade?
  • How will you be able to run in what you're wearing?
  • Do you need props?
  • Are you running as a group or solo?
When Matthew and I went through the planning process for last year's 10k, we decided that we would dress up as characters from Alice In Wonderland- the theme of that year's race (this year's 10k theme is Lilo & Stitch). Naturally, we settled on the Tweedles because we wanted a costume that would incorporate both of us. We had considered other characters- Cheshire Cat, Mad Hatter, Alice, etc. But, we decided that we wanted to dress as a pair. 

We also decided that we would make these costumes and that we wanted to be able to wear everything we'd bought/made again. We also didn't want to spend a fortune- no more than $40 per person. So, I found the red and white socks online for $10 a pair, bought plain red baseball hats at Wal-Mart for $2.50 each, bought the shirts from a seller on etsy for $10 each, made the tutu with supplies from a craft store ($15) total, and then bought felt and ribbon for the collars and flags  for less than $10. 

Instead of sewing (which I can't do!), we pinned the collar and bow-tie to the shirt with a few safety pins. It worked perfectly! For the little flags on our hats, we hot glued a pipe cleaner and a piece of felt to the top of the hat- easy-peasy. Then I made the tutu with a tutorial I found online. I'll be creating a fun tutu tutorial in the coming weeks :-) And that was it! Our costumes were ready!

When Matthew and I went out to Disneyland for last year's races, we had no idea what the weather would be like. It was hot. Like stupid hot. And humid. We were not ready for that kind of heat.

Luckily, our costumes were not too hot. I had originally packed capris and was planning to wear those but once we got out there, it was way too hot to even think about anything but shorts. Good thing I "double packed"- my version of being ultra prepared. When I am racing in costume, I always pack extra clothes that I can substitute for parts of the costume. Usually this just means extra shorts/socks/bras, etc. but sometimes I'll pack another entire costume/running outfit in case I change my mind or in case the weather absolutely sucks. 

This was the sun beating down on us during the half- around mile 4.

This tip could also be "don't run in cotton in California in August!" The shirts that I'd bought us for the 10k were cotton and even though we know better than to run in cotton, we figured we could do it for just 6 miles. 

We were wrong.

I wish we'd run in these costumes before we wore them so we'd know just how hot cotton shirts and cotton knee-high socks could be. 

Moral of the story- run a few miles in your costume before you try to attempt a race in it. You can see how it feels and what needs to be adjusted before you are out on the race course without any way to fix it.

There's a whole lot of sweat happening here that was NOT getting wicked away! 

Thinking about running in costume but running out of time? Not sure who you'd like to dress as? Lacking skills in the crafty department? Or do you want something a little more subtle- more like a theme?

Disneyland Half Marathon Health and Fitness Expo to the rescue!

Luckily for you, there are lots of vendors at the expo that can help you create a "costume" at the last minute that won't cause anxiety on race day. I've done this a few times- picked up a few extras at the expo that helped me create a cool running costume with minimal effort. 

At the Walt Disney World Half Marathon 2013, I knew I wanted to dress like Minnie. So I brought a pair of black capris and a black tech shirt with me. Then I bought a Minnie-inspired Sparkle Athletic skirt and a Red Polka Dot Sweaty Band at the expo and voila! Instant costume!

I'm also a HUGE fan of Raw Threads "Good Girls" line. I can make a very simple Princess Tiana costume with one of their shirts and a lime green Sparkle Athletic skirt.

Super simple and fun! And don't worry guys, there will be plenty of vendors there with dude-approved tech shirts so you can get in on the costume fun. 

Since Disneyland is the original park, there are LOTS of costume/character ideas that come to mind. You can also choose to do something related to the theme of this year's race- Lilo & Stitch.

I called on some of the BEST costumed runners I know (from the Running/Race Costumes Facebook Group and some of my BRF's) to contribute their awesome Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend costumes. I think you'll be totally blown away with the creative ideas these runners came up with!

Patrick as Peter Pan and Walt Disney himself- bonus points for growing an actual mustache!

Angela Marchetti AKA Timothy. With a tail, too! Bravo, Angela!

Henry Chan showing true dedication to character by going all out as Tarzan!

Mouseketeer Anne Martin posing near the front gate of the Happiest Place on Earth!

Karen Chu lighting up Cars Land as Lumiere!
PS- she's got some AMAZING costumes on her blog- check it out!

Katy Buompensiero, Joy Hargraves, and Nicole Buompensiero are
other-worldly in these Star Wars costumes!

Selena Devore soars "To Infinity and Beyond!" with this Buzz Lightyear number!
Katie Riordan and Gwen Maginnis running in their Dumbo-inspired costumes!

Can Super Karen Brassfield stop these Storm Troopers?!
Robin Chowaniec baffles the Red Queen as Rapunzel!
Check out her blog for a quick tutorial on this fun costume.

Julie Luebbert and Kimberly Markey  pose on Main Street as everybody's favorite mermaid and elephant :-)

Aren't they all fabulous?!

BONUS TIP- Just by googling or using google image search, you can find tons of blogs and tutorials on costumes for runDisney races. If you've got the time, definitely do a little research and get inspired!

Don't forget to check out the rest of the Virtual Disneyland Half Marathon Blog Hop. And for those of you running down the original Main Street USA in just a few weeks, have a magical race!

QOTD: If you could run as any Disney character, who would it be? Why?

Monday, August 11, 2014

AM: 8/11/14

Happy Monday!

This was a great week so let's get right to a dose of accountability!

Monday- 5.13 mile easy run
Tuesday- Speed workout at the track, 4.28 miles
Wednesday- 30 minute Pilates DVD
Thursday- 45 minute easy run, 3.87 miles
Friday- Rest day
Saturday- 10k race + 2 miles
Sunday- 2 mile walk

21.5 total miles

It feels GREAT to have a week above 20 miles again! I think I'm ready for Goofy Challenge training to ramp up!

After having a slight gain last week, I wanted to change things up a bit this week. I went back through all my old Weight Watchers recipe books and tried a few interesting dinners that turned out pretty well. Even Matthew liked them :-)

Stuffed Tomatoes, Balsamic Glazed Salmon, Curry Pork and Pineapple, Southwest Sloppy Joes. Yum.

Because we had a race on Saturday, I tried to properly fuel and hydrate on Friday. Enter Panera's Napa Almond Chicken Salad Sandwich and Garden Vegetable with Pesto Soup. I'd never had the chicken salad before and absolutely loved it. It might be my new favorite!

157.8 pounds as of 7/30/14 weigh-in.
-2.8 from last week.
-32.6 since January 2013.
-44.2 since heaviest: 202 in 2005.

I'M UNDER 160! :-)

FYI- I haven't been under 160 in at least 10 years so this is exciting. I even ordered a Sparkle Skirt to reward myself- it's the one I posted about here. I had been waiting until I was under 160 to order the skirt- in fact, this was one of my goals that I wanted to reach by the end of summer. In the past, I would reward my weight loss with a cheat meal- usually fast food. How bizarre is that? To reward yourself with food for losing weight? But, those patterns are slowly fading away as I have been rewarding myself differently this time around. I can't wait to try out my new skirt this weekend! This feels so much better than rewarding myself with food :-)

All smiles after reaching a weight-loss milestone.

QOTD: How do you reward yourself when you reach a goal?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

J&A Racing Ambassador 2014- 2015: I'm in!

So this week might go down as one of the most awesome weeks I've had since becoming a blogger. Last Friday, I learned I was an Enell Ambassador- which is so crazy amazing. Then yesterday I got another "Congratulations!" email from J&A Racing letting me know I'd been selected as one of their 2014-2015 Racing Ambassadors! Insane!

After finishing the Shamrock Half Marathon 2014.

You might remember the absolutely epic experience we had during Shamrock Marathon Weekend this year. From the expo to the 8k to the half marathon, everything was organized, fun, and focused on the runner. And I ran a major PR on this flat and fast course. Matthew and I were already planning to head back to Virginia Beach for Shamrock again this year because of the wonderful time we had- now we are planning to head down there for a few other races this winter/spring!

J&A Racing's Slogan- I can dig it.

It's easy to say great things about this race series- they truly know what they are doing. Everything- from courses, timing, corrals, and other race-day logistics to amazing finisher's swag- is organized and easy.  At Shamrock, we got heavy, quality medals, a finisher's hat, and a finisher's beach towel- pretty damn awesome. The post-race party was super fun too. Even though there were over 30,000 people participating in the weekend's events, we never had to wait longer than two minutes for post-race food or beer- which is a welcome change from some events I've participated in. I can't wait to do more J&A events this year!

I think part of the reason why these events are so enjoyable is that the entire company is made up of athletes. The race directors, Jerry and Amy Frostick are both runners so they get what a racing event should look like from a runner's perspective. And they do a hell of a job, in my opinion :-)

I'm excited to share more about J&A with you over the next year and I hope to see some of you at a future J&A Racing event!

QOTD: What makes a great running event? Is it the swag? The course? The volunteers? The t-shirt? :-) 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

I am an Enell Ambassador!

I still can't believe I've been selected as one of 17 ENELL Ambassadors!

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I absolutely love my Enell sports bra and have blogged about it here and here. And if you follow me on twitter, you know I give them shout outs all the time because they are just an awesome brand and they deliver a great product.

But what I love the most about Enell is what they stand for- "Enell, Inc. is dedicated to providing women C cup or above with the opportunity to fully participate in an active lifestyle by offering state of the art, high quality performance sports bras." 

For the last three years, I've been a runner. Before that, I was anything but. My entire life I struggled with physical activity for one reason or another. When I found Enell, my life changed. Completely.

I want to share my Enell Ambassador essay with you all so you can understand how thrilled I am to be officially representing this amazing brand. Fair warning- this essay gets a little deep and it's a little long, but I think you'll understand a little more about my story and why I'm so pumped after reading it:

Why I want to be an Enell Ambassador

An ENELL bra changed my life. I know that sounds silly- how could a bra change your whole life? But truly, it did. And because ENELL has changed my life for the better, I want to be an ENELL Ambassador to help other women realize how something as simple as a sports bra can be positively life-changing.

Like any story, we need to start at the beginning. As a kid, I was always a little overweight. But I loved to ride my bike, run, play- basically do all the fun kid things kids like to do.  Then puberty happened and that little bit of extra weight started to fill out in places I wasn't used to. I started wearing a bra- out of necessity- in the fifth grade; I had passed the “training bra” phase and went straight for the underwires. By sixth grade I was wearing a DD cup. I was uncomfortable with my body- especially in gym class. I wore two or three sports bras but it was still painful to move around. Couple that with the stares from the other kids- I was mortified.

I distinctly remember a time when we had to jump rope in class. I asked the teacher if I could please turn around and face the wall so the other kids wouldn't see the uncomfortable movement of my chest from an unsupportive bra. Later, some of my classmates would tease me about “poking an eye out” when I was jump roping. I laughed along with them but inside, I was embarrassed. My days of being physically active were over. From sixth grade on, I avoided gym class as often as possible.

Unfortunately, this set up a pattern of thinking for me- I told myself that I wasn't athletic. I couldn't run or jump. My breasts got in the way and it was so painful to even try that I resigned myself to a lifetime of watching from the sidelines.

Fast forward to June of 2011. I was about to run my very first 5k. I’d been inspired by watching my boyfriend complete a half marathon and I wanted to try this running thing again. I was layering up the sports bras again- this time with 3 or 4. I wandered into a running store for shoes- a suggestion of my boyfriend. The salesperson and I struck up a conversation that somehow led to sports bras. She asked me if I’d ever heard of ENELL. I hadn't. The next thing you know, I’m walking out of the store with more than a bra and a pair of shoes- I had hope. From the minute I’d tried it on, I knew this was different. I knew that this bra was a game-changer.

The first time I ran in the ENELL bra, I cried. I called my boyfriend; elated to tell him how different I felt running with the new bra. He didn't really get it but was happy for me nonetheless J Putting on the ENELL bra and running was simply amazing. It didn't move! It didn't chafe! I didn't feel embarrassed running down the street! Everything was in its place and stayed there throughout my run! And better yet, there wasn't any pain. I was able to run and move and jump pain-free for the first time since I was a child. And it was glorious.

Since then, anytime I put on an ENELL bra I feel unstoppable. Fearless. Confident. This has led to some new thoughts- I am an athlete. I am a runner. I am strong. And these new thoughts have led to some amazing and positive changes in my life. With new confidence comes new opportunities, new strength, and new ways of living. It may be hard to believe, but finding ENELL really has made my life better.

This bra has allowed me to do things I never thought I could do. And doing those things has brought a sense of pride and accomplishment I never thought possible. It just goes to show you- give a girl the right bra and she can change the world.

Because my life has been changed for the better, I want to help other women find ENELL. I know there are others like me that feel limited by their size, by pain- I know that an ENELL bra is part of their solution. Being an ENELL Ambassador would be a dream come true for me- I love this product and happily endorse it wherever I can.

I am confident that I can effectively represent ENELL as an Ambassador because I believe in it. I believe in this brand, I believe in what it can do for women, and I believe in the power of a good bra J

So there you have it. My love story about a sports bra. But really, it is SO much more than a bra. And I can't wait to share more about this wonderful product and company with you.

QOTD: If you could represent one of your favorite products/services, what would it be and why?

Monday, August 4, 2014

AM: 8/4/14

Good morning and happy Monday!

Some days, this is the best way to describe weight-loss:


Yup, I was up again (.6) after a pretty good week. Luckily, my #wwchat tweeps know just what to say to help me press on for another week- "it's all part of the process." So, we are moving on! 

Since it's the beginning of a new month, I've got some new goals I want to work on:

  • Run my Akron Marathon Relay split in 42 minutes- that's about 10:40 minute miles.
  • Run 80 miles. July's total was 64.85.
  • Lose five more pounds. This one might be challenging- I lost 3.8 in June and 2.4 in July so five pounds in just four weeks is ambitious for me and my slow metabolism.

With Akron right around the corner, I'll be kicking up the training and the speed workouts this month. Let's hope that translates into some losses at the scale :-)

Monday- 30 minutes of laps in the apartment pool
Tuesday- 45 minute speed workout at the track
Wednesday- 30 minute cardio dance DVD
Thursday- 45 minute run
Friday- Rest day
Saturday- 3 mile trail run
Sunday- 60 minute at-home walking DVD

This week was a bit all over the place. We went out of town this past weekend and that resulted in lots of eating out and going through all my weekly and activity points for the week. In fact, right now I'm in the negative. Boo. But, I had some delicious food and I am happy with how I choose to spend my points.

I regret nothing. 

I was famished on Wednesday after I worked out and went to my Weight Watcher's meeting. So I went to Panera and grabbed a You Pick Two: Caesar Salad and Garden Vegetable with Pesto Soup. I scarfed it down so quickly that I forgot to grab a picture. But it was delicious! I don't normally like vegetable soup, but this one has great flavor. 

160.6 pounds as of 7/30/14 weigh-in.
+.6 from last week.
-28.4 since January 2013.
-41.4 since heaviest: 202 in 2005.

Monday Bonus! So, if you follow me on social media then you may already know- I've been selected as an Enell Ambassador! I'll write much more about it this week- I am just so excited to "officially" represent a company that changed my life and helped make me a runner. 

Another Monday Bonus! I went zip-lining this weekend and didn't cry- not even once! I have this awesome habit of crying when I'm scared, or mad, or happy, or upset, basically, anytime my emotions are heightened. Think Kristen Bell and sloths. But zip-lining was really fun and most important, I survived :-)

QOTD: How was your week/weekend?