Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Pittsburgh Runners: The Newbie, The Veteran, & The Elite

Good morning, friends! I've got an awesome treat for you today- three of my amazing running Ohana have graciously agreed to be featured on my blog as they are all running a race as part of Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend. Let me introduce these rock stars to you:

Lauren, aka "The Newbie," will be running her first half marathon in just a few days. 

Gloria, aka "The Veteran," had completed the Pittsburgh Half Marathon and many other races around the city. 

Nathan aka "The Elite," who will claim not be be elite but I say he is and it's my blog so there. :-) He also has a marathon PR of 3:30:13 so that makes him elite in my book. 

I sent them all a list of the same questions and this is what they had to say:

Why are you running Pittsburgh?
Lauren: Pittsburgh is my home! I knew that I wanted to run my first half here – it is a major milestone in my running journey and I want to do it with my hometown crowd.

Gloria: Pittsburgh is the closest city to where I currently live, so that means the closest half marathon race! But besides living near Pittsburgh, it is an awesome city to run in! This will be my second time running the half marathon in Pittsburgh which means redeeming myself from my first half marathon last year. 

Nathan: I have a goal to run a half marathon and marathon in every state, so it didn't take much convincing when my running Ohana asked me to join them for Pittsburgh marathon weekend when I meet up with them at the Akron marathon weekend.

Pittsburgh offers a half marathon, marathon, marathon relay and a 5k. How did you choose which distances you’d run during race weekend?
Lauren: In 2014, I ran the Pittsburgh Marathon 5K and it was my first (ever) race! I knew after that race that I loved running and set my sights on longer distances! I am running the 5K again this year, in addition to the half marathon. I am looking forward to earning my Steel Challenge medal and cheering on a friend as she runs her first race at the 5K.

Gloria: Last year, I started running not knowing how much I would fall in love with it. Last year my goal was to run a half marathon which I did in Pittsburgh last year. However, training did not go as plan but I still completed the miles of the half marathon but not with the time I wanted. So this year it’s all about redeeming myself from last year’s half marathon.

Nathan: I’ll be running the 5k and the marathon during race weekend. My thought for the 5k was that I’d be running a shake out run the day before the marathon anyways, so why not just use the 5k as my shake out run.

What are you most looking forward to about Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend?
Lauren: Being with my running friends! I’m also looking forward to seeing my family out there cheering me on (and celebrating my birthday with them - my birthday is 5/6).

Gloria: Definitely meeting up with the many running friends I was able to meet through Steff Rubel! I am also looking forward to the expo as well meeting new people in the corrals and on the course. Last year I met a sweet old lady in the corral I was in who had surgery on her arm two weeks prior. She told me her doctor told her not to run but she wasn’t going to miss it. She also told me not to worry that I would be able to get through the race and will be in love that I will be ready to run my next half right when I get my half marathon medal. She was right and was a huge role model through that race.

Nathan: I can’t wait to see my running Ohana again! They are an awesome group of people, and besides all the support they give each other they just make race weekends fun! Also, I’d be lying if i didn't say that I’m a little excited about escaping the FL heat, summer has already arrived here.

This one’s for the veteran Pittsburgh runner, Gloria: what advice do you have for folks who haven’t run this half or run in Pittsburgh before? 
Watch out for the Brimmingham Bridge, its literally a pain in the ass! JK, lol. But Pittsburgh is such a diverse city, you’ll experience the different neighborhoods as well as the people who live there. Give high fives to the people you see! They will have smiles on their faces which makes you smile and keeps you going towards the finish line. Also, enjoy the wonderful skyline and beautiful landmarks!

Question for the newbie, Lauren: why did you choose to train for a half marathon?
I ran the Pittsburgh Marathon 5K as my first race last year, and have since run several  5Ks, 10Ks, and a 15K. A half marathon is the next logical step! 

Heres one for the elite, Nathan: how do you train for elevation and hills like Pittsburgh while living in a relatively flat area?
Bridges, overpasses, and parking garages are great man made elevation obstacles. Another good option is sand, even though that’s a little harder to find in Orlando. The challenge of running in sand is sort of like having a flat hill.

What is your goal and/or goals for your race?
Lauren: This is a tough one. From the day I registered, I hoped to run a sub-2.5 hour half marathon. In January, I selected a training plan and added all the runs to my calendar. After that, my training went downhill and I faced one setback after another. While I've had a few great runs in the last few months, I've had a lot of not-great runs and I know at this point, my training is what it is and I just need to go out there and do my best.

On race day, I’m planning to stick with Chelsea (who is running her first full!) and Coach Jeff for the first ~12 miles and I hope they can help me keep a good pace and then take it from there. Regardless, I know I will have a new PR and new PDR! 

Gloria: I am hoping for 02:45:00 but anything below 02:50:34 will mean a new PR, also to meet new runners, and just enjoy the run!

Nathan: I’d love to walk away with a new PR, so that means I’m looking for a sub 3:30.

The most interesting running fact about me is….
Lauren: This is a tough one…I’m going to run a half in Alaska next month? 

Or….I have Crohn’s Disease and there were years of my life where I was too sick to even think about running. I am grateful to be able to do so now. 

Gloria: I hated running when I was younger, absolutely hated it. I don’t know if it was just because I didn't realize what pace meant or what but now I absolutely love running. 

Nathan: I like running in colder weather as much as the next runner, but I've grown up in FL and tend to get cold easily. Because of this, when it gets cold (read below 60°) you’ll most likely find me running in (at least) two pairs of socks.

What has been the most challenging part of your Pittsburgh training?
Lauren: As I mentioned before, my training plan hasn't gone according to plan and I've yet to have a week where I completed all of the scheduled runs. I've faced bed bugs (the bites caused my legs and feet to swell), illness, sub-zero temperatures, and a grueling travel schedule for work. But in contrast, I have an amazing and supportive group of running friends and family who have cheered me on from the start and their encouragement will carry me through on race day. 

Gloria: Getting my training in with work. I work as a technical director of a venue. We are busy 24/7 it seems but really busy from January to May so training around the 12 hour work day is a bit much. 

Nathan: Trying to incorporate elevation into my training runs.

On race day, what mantra/quote/inspirational thought will get you to the finish line?
Lauren: When I’m struggling through a run, I always think of Ben Comen. His ESPN feature is several years old, but it always puts things into perspective for me. 

I also read Haruki Murakami’s “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” a few months ago and really liked his mantra, “I’m not a human. I’m a piece of machinery. I don’t need to feel a thing. Just forge on ahead.” and have adapted it on many runs. 

Gloria: I usually think of how far I have come. I usually have different inspiration for each race. My last half marathon was in Columbus, OH. They had a child from children’s hospital and their story sponsor each mile... needless to say I was sobbing the entire race and my inspiration of getting to the finish line was to run for every child who was on the course who could not physically and for those throughout the world who can’t. I can’t wait to see what my inspiration on the course in Pittsburgh will be!

Nathan: A few of the things I’ll tell myself during a race are-
                    “There will come a day when I’m not able to do this, and today is not that day.”
                    “Get uncomfortable.”
I also think back on all the training that has gone into getting me to where I’m at, and just remind myself to have fun and enjoy the “victory lap."

So there you have it- three super cool runners that will be crushing goals this weekend in Pittsburgh! I hope you enjoyed meeting Lauren, Gloria, and Nathan. 

Don't forget, if you want to meet me and lots of new runner friends (these three included!), come to the meet-up/tweet-up Saturday morning at 7:30 am. 

Are you running Pittsburgh? If so, which race?

Monday, April 27, 2015

AM: 4/27/15

Good evening, friends!

Many apologies for the lateness of this post- Matthew and I had to unexpectedly go out of town this weekend.

For the last few weeks, Matthew's grandmother (Nana) has been in the hospital. On Sunday, while we were out on our last long run before Pittsburgh, we got a call that Nana wasn't doing well. 

Long story short, we made the trip home on Sunday, visited with Nana, and then came home this afternoon. At this point, she seems to be stable and not in any pain. If you're the praying kind, we could use some sent our way. If not, some positive vibes would also be great :-)

So tonight I've got an abbreviated Accountability Monday post for you but I promise I've got some good stuff coming later this week- it's Pittsburgh Marathon week!

Monday- Rest day
Tuesday- 2 easy miles in 22:41
Wednesday- Core and hip workout
Thursday- Rest day
Friday- Rest day
Saturday- Runner's World Strength Workout, hip workout
Sunday- 7 easy miles with Matthew and our friend Ford. 12:13 pace, 3:1 intervals. 

9 total miles.

Beautiful day for a run. 

140.4 as of 4/23 weigh-in.
-2.2 from last week
-50 since January 2013

So yeah. Finally back to 50 pounds lost after a few weeks of up and down. Now I'm officially only 1.4 pounds from goal. I'm hoping that I'll be at goal by my birthday- May 26th!

Hope your weekend was awesome and your week is off to a great start! Make sure to check back here on Wednesday and Friday for some Pittsburgh-goodness! 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Race Recap & Review: Sole of the City 10k

This past Saturday, Matthew and I ran one of my favorite races of the year, the Sole of the City 10k race in Baltimore, MD. The 10k is probably my favorite distance to race but it isn't very popular- so that's why I love this race so much; it's rare AND awesome.

Last year, I didn't have the best time with this race. It was hot, hilly, and I had some awful stomach cramps. We also got there so late (due to a crappy parking debacle) that they were already singing the national anthem. Anxious and flustered is not how I like to start a race.

This year, we left the house at 6:30 am for a 9:00 am start time. We were determined not to get caught up in traffic :-) We parked literally right around the corner from the finish around 7:30 am. Luckily, my former roommate/best friend Kelly met us there so we spent the next hour and a half catching up- it was awesome!

Around 8:45, we headed to the start line. With 4,500 runners, it was pretty crowded. Same as the last two years, we started under a ginormous American flag- so cool.

Kelly, Me, and Matthew at the start

I can't imagine a better start than this. 

It was a beautiful day for a run. Clear skies and temps in the mid to upper 60's. Since I've been struggling with ankle and toe pain, I just wanted to enjoy the race and finish with a smile. I kept my intervals to 1:1 and focused on good form, keeping a close eye on how my feet were feeling.

Just like last year's course, we ran through three miles of Baltimore neighborhoods then turned back and ran along the Inner Harbor for the last three miles- including some major hills.

But unlike last year's course, I felt amazingly strong throughout this race. Every hill I saw, I conquered, passing lots of people as I charged forward. "Not this year, not today." I kept repeating those words, out loud (which I'm sure made folks think I was crazy!), all through the race. I was determined to have a better race and a better time on the clock than the last two years (2014- 1:14:55, 2013- 1:14:19).

On the left, my favorite museum in Baltimore: the AVAM aka the American Visionary Art Museum.

Seriously, I love running in this city. 

Beautiful day for a race!

After the final hill (which felt a hell of a lot better this year!), the course started it's long descent towards the finish. I kept checking my phone and knew that I was going to be close to a PR for this course. I gave it one last push and got across the finish line at 1:11:00. A full four minutes faster than last year! And I felt great!

The best part about this race? I mean besides the amazing Under Armour premium, fun course, and awesome finish line party? Free beer! This year they had the standard Miller Lite AND Summer Shandy! What an awesome surprise!

After getting my sweet free beer, I met up with Jes from Runs and Crafts. We talked all about Baltimore running, team sparkle skirts, and runDisney races. I hope we run into each other at other races this summer!

Other highlights of this race included seeing a few high school friends on course, a random lady bug landing on my arm around mile five, and seeing a bunch of people dressed in full-on pirate costumes at the Inner Harbor. I wish I snapped a picture!

Matthew and I got our free food- bananas, granola bars, and wraps- and headed back to the car. This year parking was a breeze and we were on our way home in minutes.

Overall, this was another wonderful race put on my Charm City Run. My only complaint is the lack of water stops, similar to last year. Again this year, it was sunny and warm and we could have used more than two water stops on a six mile course. Other than that, this race gets an A+ from me!

Summer Shandy is Sparkly Runner approved!

What's the best finish line treat you've received at a race?

Monday, April 20, 2015

AM: 4/20/15

Good morning and happy Boston Marathon Monday! Today is like the Super Bowl of running- I can't wait to track all my friends as they race- including Dani from Weight Off My Shoulders and Pam from We Run Disney!

Quick update on the ankle: I wore the boot almost all week and alternated icing and heating while elevating it every night. I ran the Sole of the City 10k (recap coming this week) and it felt totally fine. Later in the day, still felt great. On Sunday morning, I tentatively stepped out of bed and felt....nothing. Literally, my ankle felt fine all day long. Since I'm still not 100% sure what's causing the problem, I'm going to keep icing, heating, elevating, and stretching. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Monday- Rest day
Tuesday- 40 minutes of yoga
Wednesday-Rest day
Thursday- 30 minutes on the bike, 7.3 miles
Friday- Rest day
Saturday- Sole of the City 10k race, 1:11:00 total time, 11:27 pace
Sunday- Runner's World Core Workout, foam rolling, 20 minutes of yoga

6.2 total miles

Yoga makes me feel so amazing and so inflexible at the same time. 

If you love apple pie, you'll love this new recipe I found this week in my Weight Watchers Weekly (weekly booklet full of recipes, tips, and helpful WW advice). Slice and microwave an apple until soft, then drizzle it with two tablespoons of non-fat plain yogurt mixed with splenda and a few drops of vanilla extract. Sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy!

While it doesn't taste exactly like apple pie, it's still pretty delicious. Technically, it's 0 points if you only use two tablespoons of yogurt- if you use three tablespoons, it becomes 1 PPV. Either way, it's a great, healthy alternative to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Not a bad substitute for the real thing. 

142.6 as of 4/15/15
+.8 from last week
-47.8 since January 2013

Here we go again on this weight-loss roller coaster. I'm going to keep doing what I've been doing- I know the scale will eventually reach the goal I want it to. Just keep moving forward and stay focused on goal :-)

How was your week? Are you watching the Boston Marathon today?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Jeff Galloway Says: 4 Ways to Energize Your Day & Clear Your Brain

I don't know about you, but it's been a stressful, non-sparkly week for me. There's lots going on at work, my ankle is still being a brat, and there are things happening that are out of my control and causing me loads of anxiety and stress (I'll explain in a later post for the vagueness of that statement).

But yesterday I got some goodness in my inbox from Mr. Run Walk Run, aka Jeff Galloway, all about how to keep your mental game in check. The only thing I'd add to his list is meditation- I've been trying to take a few minutes each day to relax, reflect, and basically calm myself down. Reminding myself that "the universe is a good place" helps too :-)

Enjoy Jeff's latest tips!

Four Ways To Energize Your Day & Clear Your Brain
By Olympian Jeff Galloway 

It's natural to become focused on the big things in life, and worry about outside forces, building stress.  A few simple lifestyle adjustments can result in greater control over attitude and energy, while reducing stress and fatigue.  Yes, you can exert more control over your life, produce positive attitude hormones, and blend together body, mind and spirit by planning and taking action.

- Walk or run, one day and walk (or cross train) the next.  While the exertion will wake up the muscles, you're away from the phone, allowing the mind a little freedom.  Most who start with a blank mental state, finish their exercise session with the day planned, and a few new ways to deal with problems.  Others like to walk/run during lunch hour, while munching on an energy bar.  This can clear out morning stress and prepare mind-body for the challenges of the afternoon.  Many evening exercisers believe that the weight of the day's stress is erased or contained with the after-work workout.  Scheduling these outings gives you control over your existence.

- Don't sit--walk!  The addition of a few extra short walks, throughout the day, will energize the body and activate the mind.  Park farther away from work, the food store, the transit station, etc.  Many of my clients use a step counter for motivation and calorie counting.  It helps to find one that is consistent and reliable (usually @ $30).  Shoot for 10,000 steps a day.  You are rewarded for  getting out of your chair (or  the couch) more often.  These short walks burn fat, which adds up (up to 30 pounds a year!).  The best reward is the head clearing effect, which can power you through the mid morning or mid afternoon energy crises.  Even a 3-4 minute “recess” walk at work, can result in clearer thinking, more energy, and greater self-confidence.

- Eat more frequently.  Each time you eat, even a small snack, you'll boost your energy level. The longer you wait to eat, the more likely your metabolism will slump into drowsiness and laziness.  This also means that you're not burning many calories.  If you divide up your daily calorie budget into 6-9 snacks a day you'll burn more fat (up to 10 pounds a year).  Eat a snack every 2-3 hours, and you can feel better all day.  It helps to choose foods that have (percentage of calories vs total calories) about 20% protein, about 15% fat and the rest in complex carbohydrate.  This combination will leave you satisfied longer with fewer calories consumed.  To experience fat loss, consumption can be managed through websites or journals.  For more information, see "A Woman's Guide to Fat Burning" by Jeff and Barbara Galloway.

- Help someone exercise. The psychological benefits are significant when you help someone improve the quality of their life.  Offer to walk (run, hike) with your spouse, parent, friend co-worker, child—or all of the above.  My books "Walking" and "Getting Started" have proven programs with motivation which can lead you  and your “coach-ee” through the training. 

What helps you deal with stress or fatigue? Any good tricks or tips you use?

Monday, April 13, 2015

AM 4/13/15

***THANK YOU for all the love, encouragement, comments, tweets, and fb comments on my post about bikinis- y'all know how to make a girl feel supported! Thank you for being so sweet! This blog continues to keep me accountable and allows me to have awesome and inspirational conversations with all of you- from the bottom of my heart, thank you!***

So... this week brought the return of the dreaded boot:

In short: I've been having intermittent pain in my left ankle. My bones are fine (Podiatrist did an xray and examination) so we are pretty sure it's peroneal tendonitis or just plain overuse. Ugh.

I've kept it in the boot since Thursday to protect it in addition to using ice, compression socks, and resting my feet. But I had a bit of a dilemma this weekend. The Pittsburgh Marathon is only three weeks away and Sunday was supposed to be the last long run of 20 miles. I considered not running at all- thinking that I could just rest it for the next few weeks. But I wanted to at least try. Matthew and I ran 12 pain-free miles and my feet/ankles/toes felt fine on the run. I'm going to wear the boot- if needed- this week and play it all by ear.

Monday- Rest day
Tuesday- 2 miles in 20:03, 10:01 pace
Wednesday- Rest day
Thursday- Rest day
Friday- Rest day
Saturday- Rest day
Sunday- 12 miles in 2:21, 11:47 pace

14 total miles

I'm supposed to run the Sole of the City 10k this weekend, one of my favorite races of the year. Fingers crossed this weird pain goes away and I can run or walk it.

All smiles after our 12 miler!

A little known Sparkly fact; I love to cook but I usually don't have much time to do so. I like recipes that involve very little prep and cook time. This week, I made one of my favorite quick-and-easy sides: Cajun Broccoli. Here's how simple this is- chop up some broccoli, spray it with olive oil Pam spray, coat it with one teaspoon of cajun seasoning. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes at 450 degrees. Done. Delicious. Seriously, I think I ate four cups of broccoli this week. It's only 1 PPV per serving/cup.

Cajun Broccoli, sweet potato rounds with cinnamon and brown sugar, and grilled chicken breast. 

We spent the weekend at Matthew's parent's house so I was away from my usual routine breakfast- a greek yogurt and a KIND bar. So I improvised- I had a nonfat French Vanilla Greek yogurt and a 1/2 cup of Fit & Active Low-Fat Granola for a total of 7 PPV. Yummy and simple.

Super easy and filling.

141.8 as of 4/8/2015
-2.2 from last week
-48.6 since January 2013

A good chunk of the weight gain from last week was lost this week (yay!) and I finally declared goal weight at 139. Since I've been hovering around 140 for the last six weeks or so, I think I can comfortably say that 139 is a solid goal weight for me. My Weight Watchers leader agrees. Just 2.8 pounds to go!

Also, here's another random Sparkly fact- I got acupuncture for the first time this week at my work's Wellness Fair. The acupuncture dude said that my feet were sending me a message- slow down! He also said that I am carrying too much anxiety/nervous energy around and that I should focus on meditation, deep breathing, and yoga to relax. I know I need to work so much more of that into my routine. This week, my goal is to do at least two sessions of yoga. I expect y'all to hold me to it :-)

It's a little hard to see, but there are nine pins in my feet and five in my ears!

Do you regularly incorporate yoga or meditation or tai chi into your workout routine?

Friday, April 10, 2015

On Declaring Goal Weight and Bikini Bodies

On Wednesday night, I finally did it.

I declared my goal weight at Weight Watchers.

I've been going back and forth about when and what my goal weight would be since I started this journey 27 months ago.

To be honest, I've been overweight my entire adult life. When I started Weight Watchers, I didn't have an end number/weight in mind because I honestly didn't know if I could lose weight successfully.

It feels super weird to have finally, officially declared a goal: 139 pounds. And it feels even weirder to be only a few pounds away from my goal.

It's weird in the sense that I thought "goal weight" would look different. Not that I expected to look like Jillian Michaels (seriously, she's my female body role model), but I kinda thought all my fat rolls would disappear. And my arms would have more definition. And my thighs wouldn't have the same shape.

That sounds so ridiculous as I type it. But it's the truth. Someone once told me that when you lose weight, you still look like yourself, just smaller. So if you had a round belly when you were overweight, you'll still have a round belly when you're at a healthy weight. Logically, I know this. But in real life, it feels different.

I always thought that once I got to goal weight I'd finally be happy with my body. I'd flaunt it in booty shorts and bikinis all summer long. Because I thought my body would look perfect once I was at goal weight.

But here's the thing: it doesn't. I've still got fat rolls. And I've got loose skin that jiggles along with the fat rolls. My boobs look different. I've got some weird little "wings" on the back of my arms- albeit, they are smaller than they were before I lost 50 pounds. My thighs still have cellulite. My body is just not what you'd call a typical "bikini body."

I always believed that you had to be a certain weight or look a certain way to wear a bikini. In some way, I haven't worn one since I was a kid because I've been waiting until I reached goal weight to do so.

But guess what? I'm damn near at goal, well within a healthy weight range, and I still don't have a typical "bikini body."

So what's a girl to do? Wear a damn bikini any damn way you please. 


I'm tired of waiting for the "perfect body" to wear a bikini. Somewhere along the last 27 months, I stopped waiting for all the conditions to be right. I didn't wait to do my first marathon until I was at goal weight- I finished it weighing in at 178 pounds. I didn't wait to finally wear cute shorts until goal weight- I bought tons of colors last year. I wore bright pink shorts! That drew attention to my non-goal weight butt! I didn't wait until I'd lost the weight to compete in my first aquathlon- I jumped right in the water and swam my heart out.


So, I will be wearing a bikini next month on our Disney Cruise. In fact, I bought TWO of them to wear. Last summer, I made a promise to myself that I would wear a bikini this summer. It was never really about the number on the scale; I think it was about being comfortable enough in my own skin to wear one.

There are MANY women I look up to- women who don't give a crap about wearing a bikini no matter what size or weight they are. This woman, Nadia Aboulhosn, and Tess Munster are all equally fabulous in bikinis. When I look at them, I see confidence that I aspire to have.

I'm not going to wait for the perfect body or the perfect size anymore. This summer, I'm going to wear a bikini just as I am right now. And in case you were wondering, here's a chart from Huff Post Women to help you determine if you have a bikini body:

Here is my Friday message for you- don't wait for "perfect conditions." Do whatever you're waiting for now. You won't regret it, I promise. 

And just in case you don't want to take my word for it, here's a selfie of my new bikini, completely unedited, dirty bathroom mirror and all :-)

What's something you're "waiting" for?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Race Recap & Review: Shamrock Half Marathon

This post will recap the Shamrock Half Marathon. You can find my recap for the expo and 8k here.

Early on Sunday morning, Jen, my brother, and I woke up and started to get ready for the Shamrock Half Marathon. Our hotel offered a complimentary shuttle to and from the race area and we were registered for the five am bus. They would also be taking folks over at six and seven am. Since the race started at seven and we were a good 15 minutes from the race, we decided to take the five am bus to make sure we were there on time. 

I am WAY more awake than Adam... and that dude in green. 

After dropping us off a few blocks from the race, we headed towards a hotel lobby to warm up. It was significantly warmer than the day before but still windy and a bit chilly. 

At 6:30, we ventured out of the hotel so I could grab a photo with some other J&A Ambassadors. Then we made a quick pit stop at the port-o-potties and headed back to corral nine. 

Me, Jason, and Jenny at the start!

As we waited for our turn to start, we chatted about race strategy and the plan for meeting up afterwards. Adam and I would be running together and the goal would be just to finish. Jen was hoping to break 2:25 and I was confident she could do it on this flat and fast course.

We're all awake now!

He's a charmer, this one.

Before we knew it, it was our turn to start! Jen quickly ran ahead as Adam and I settled into a rhythm of 1:1 walk/run intervals. I was holding us back those first few miles- I wanted to keep us at about a 13:30 pace for a while and then try to pick it up a notch and get down to a 12 minute/mile pace. Most importantly, I just wanted us to both finish strong with enough gas left in the tank to finish. 

As soon as we started running through the neighborhood streets, Adam was shocked by all the spectators, signs, and beer stations. I'm pretty sure he took his first beer shot at mile 1.5 :-) 

Who doesn't like a good kegger at 7:30 am?!

We trucked along and got to see the front runners around mile four. It was so cool to see how damn fast they were moving! Around mile five I saw the coolest thing I've ever seen on a course- MIMOSAS!! Can I tell you how refreshing a little shot of OJ and champagne is while you're running? It's amazing. I highly recommend it for your next race :-)

Mimosas FTW!

We continued through Fort Story and kept our comfortable pace and 1:1 intervals. We also ran into Sid Busch (always awesome to see him on the course!) and met a nice man who kept helping us take pictures as he was running near our same pace. 

Lighthouses & Legends!

Mile 10 brought Oreos and more beer, mile 12 was Adam's longest run ever (we celebrated with a little dance!), and somewhere in there we heard my high school friend Laura and her son Jordan cheering for us! It is so awesome to see a familiar face cheering for you during a race. She was there with her organization wear blue: run to remember- you should check them out!

We just have such a rotten time at races ;-)

At mile 10, I asked Adam if he wanted to pick up the pace. He said yes so we kicked it up a notch. Our pace for the first 10 had been hovering between 13 and 13:30. Our last three miles were 12:01. 11:49, and 11:36. I am so proud that we were able to negative split and finish strong. 

After we crossed the finish line, I made a beeline for Christine from We Run Disney. I knew she was volunteering and I wanted to get my medal from her. I'm so glad I was able to get both my medals that weekend from friends- it made it ten times more special! Once we had the bling, we went to find Jen- who knocked her PR out of the park finishing in 2:23! I also ran into my friends Jenny, Kathryn, and Kathleen- all of whom had such amazing races! After some post race beers, pictures, and ringing the PR bell (new this year), we headed back to our shuttle- just a mere 20 blocks away.  Yeah, apparently this year instead of picking us up at the finish line, they picked us up at the Convention Center, a good mile walk from the finish line. Super fun. :-)

Happy finishers.

Awesome race, awesome swag, awesome day.
Dolphin Challenge: Dominated. Thanks to Kathryn for this picture!

As always with J&A events, this race was fantastic from beginning to end. Plenty of water stops, lots of crowd support, beautiful and well-made medals. And an awesome post-race party with free beer, Irish stew and all the sugar cookies you can eat! 

As most of you know, this was my first half back from injury this fall. Even though I've raced a lot, I was incredibly nervous going into this half marathon. I didn't know how well my feet would hold up and I wanted to make sure I could finish strong with my brother. As a way to help me rely on my inner strength- and as a way to honor my late grandmother- I had three custom shoe charms made for my brother, my sister, and myself. Just a simple BeeCause charm with my Mom-mom's initials. I think it helped to know that she was there on Sunday, running every step with Adam and me. HUGE shout-out to BeeCause for helping to make it happen and letting me pick up the charms at the expo. 

In loving memory of Eva Mae Foreman. 

So there you have it- my first half post-injury! If you are looking for a great spring race weekend, you've got to have Shamrock Marathon Weekend on your radar. Great course, great race, and great beer at the end- what more could you want?! :-)

Sand, surf, and bling.

Did you run at Shamrock? What was your favorite part of the weekend?

Disclosure: As a J&A Ambassador, I received a complimentary race entry. As always, all opinions are my own. 

Interested in more Shamrock Weekend fun? Check out the 2015 Shamrock Race Recap linkup below, hosted by J&A Ambassadors Nan, Sarah, Lindsey, and Jennifer.

If you wrote a 2015 Shamrock Race Recap  (spectator and volunteer recaps are also welcome) feel free to add your blog post to the linkup:
  • Link back to the blog host(s) in your recap so your readers can find the list.
  • Love reading recaps? Here is a one stop shop for some Shamrock goodness!
  • Not a Shamrock related post? Linkup hosts have the discretion to remove your link
Note: This linkup will be open until April 22, 2015.

Monday, April 6, 2015

AM: 4/6/15

Good morning: Happy Easter! Happy Passover! Happy Monday!

If you celebrated this week/weekend, I hope it was wonderful. In addition to Easter, yesterday way my mom's 60th birthday! My sister and I planned a surprise birthday dinner for her on Saturday night and somehow it all went off without a hitch. She was totally surprised and we loved getting to celebrate her. If you're reading- Happy Birthday (again), Mom!

Momma Dukes, "little" bro, "little" sis, short me.

Monday- Rest day
Tuesday- 25 minutes on the elliptical, 1 speedy mile on the treadmill- 9:50
Wednesday- 4 mile walk with Adam (my brother)
Thursday- Rest day
Friday- Rest day
Saturday- 7 miles, 1:20:08/11:27 pace
Sunday- Runner's World core workout, light strength training

12 total miles

While I'm not getting all the cardio I want, I still feel like I'm doing a much better job with marathon training this round- tons more strength and cross-training. It's not hard to improve when you were previously doing nothing. Ha! :-)

Oh, and the Pittsburgh Marathon is only FOUR WEEKS AWAY! What?! I can't believe I'm less than a month away from toeing the line of my second marathon. Matthew and I will complete our final long run- 20 miles- this weekend. I'm very curious to see if the changes I've made this training cycle will have an impact on race day. We'll find out soon enough!

What a difference a week makes! Glad the temperatures are finally warming up :-)

This week, I made a dish that I absolutely LOVE when dining out at an Indian Restaurant: Chicken Tikka Masala. I found this recipe on Skinny Taste's website and bought all the ingredients except one: garam masala. Because I live in a small town, there are some food items that I don't have access to, like garam masala. Luckily, google told me that it was a combination of spices. So I made my own using all spice, curry, cinnamon, coriander, and salt. It was so good! Seriously, if you like Indian food, you've got to try this low-point version. It's 5 PPV for one serving. I added basmati rice to bring the total meal to just 9 PPV. Delicious!

Don't judge me for using paper bowls :-)

144 as of 4/1/15 weigh in
+3.4 from last week
-46.4 since January 2013

UGH. Can we discuss how much I don't like Mother Nature this month? I knew I would be up this week- despite having earned 57 points and still had 40 unused points left over by the end of the week- I could just feel it. I'm hopeful that it's just "monthly" gain and nothing serious. It's still super frustrating to watch the scale go up two weeks in a row when you know you haven't done anything differently.

It's times like this where I know I need to regroup, refocus, and not worry about unintentional gains. I have come a long, long way; too long for three stupid pounds to throw me off track. So, it's back to basics this week: honest tracking, meal planning, consistent activity. And lots of sleep and lots of water. Goal weight is coming, I just know it :-)

What have you celebrated lately?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Twist on "Jeff Galloway Says:" THE DREAM TEAM

Take a walk down memory lane with me...

It's late August 2013 in Disneyland, California. The Disneyland Half Marathon Expo has just opened and there is chaos and long lines everywhere you look. Suddenly, amid the thousands of people snaking around the perimeter of the Disneyland Hotel, waiting on their turn to enter the packet pick-up area, you see a familiar face. Not someone you've met, but someone whose blog you have stalked meticulously read as you prepared for your first trip to Disneyland. You see the one and only Hokeyboy and you can barely contain your excitement. Quickly, you stop mid-sentence exit the conversation you were having and run walk briskly to catch up to Hokeyboy before he disappears into the expo masses.

Tentatively, you approach him and butcher his last name (sorry, Matt!). You try to rationally explain how you recognized him from his pictures on the blog without sounding like you need to be committed. But it doesn't matter. He's totally cool with your stalker-like behavior devotion to his race recaps. You've finally met one of your favorite bloggers and he takes a selfie with the crazy awesome Hokeyblog reader. 

The beginnings of The Dream Team...

And that's how it all began, y'all! I'm lucky enough to call Matt from Hokeyblog a friend and we've teamed up today to bring you the latest and greatest tips from Jeff Galloway. Matt and I are both Galloway Bloggers and devotees of his run walk run method so we figured it would be fun to team up to bring you this edition of Galloway's Training and Motivation Tips

Similar to past posts, Jeff Galloway's comments are in italics, mine are labeled "SR" and Matt's are "HB." This week's topic is pretty near and dear to my heart as lately I've been thinking I should rename this blog "Injured Runner." So, grab a cup of coffee, settle in, and enjoy Hokey, Sparkly, & Galloway's take on injury prevention.

Why do we get injured?

1.  Be aware of irritation of weak links.

The Key Weak Links are body parts where my runners tend to experience injuries are these: Knees - Feet -Calf - Achilles -Hip - Glute/piriformis/sciatica

But the body parts that YOU need to be aware of are the sites where you are injured or suffer more aches and pains.

SR: Yup, those dang weak links will get you every time! Since I've been recovering from injury, I have been paying attention to every little ache and pain and addressing concerns as they come up. Knowing that I have cranky feet, I keep all that’s connected to my feet (knees, hips, glutes, core, etc.) strong through yoga and different strengthening workouts.

Also, it’s worth taking stock of your form. Use the self-timer on your camera or have someone snap some pictures of you mid-run so you can see maybe why certain areas are always painful for you. I can clearly see how I heel strike in almost all of the photos of me running… that’s probably why my feet aren't in the best shape. I’m working on this, I promise!

HB: I’m holding you to that promise, Sarah. Otherwise you’re getting the next round of Dole Whips. For a year!

Back on topic, I’m suddenly reminded of Karl Malden’s reverend character in the classic Disney film Pollyanna…

He delivers this firebrand “DEATH COMES UNEXPECTEDLY!!!” speech early in the film, but if you will, substitute the rather downer subject of mortality with that of running injuries.
They come unexpectedly. When you least expect them. And many times they are completely avoidable… if you pay attention!

You know, sometimes the hardest part about running is the self-consciousness of it all. I mean, unless you have limitless confidence (as opposed to my own brand of schmucky arrogance), there’s always that part of you which is perpetually concerned about how you look pounding pavement, as opposed to how you feel… more specifically, how you feel in relation to how you’re running. Maybe it’s not until mile 3 or 4 of a long run when you realize you've been striking with the upper side of your foot or your shoulders are locked in place and your back’s too stiff, and of course by the time the pain comes it’s pretty much too late to steer back on course.

So definitely pay attention to your injured areas first and foremost, but keep a close vigil on your form. And by all means call an audible if something feels “off”; there’s never any shame on taking a break to walk, stop, or stretch, even mid-race, if it means protecting your most valuable running investment (besides your Garmin, those $200 shoes, and Run Disney registration fees).

2. Stress buildup due to the way we train.

  • Training schedule is too intense-not enough rest between stress.
HB: Señor Jefe advocates a three day a week running schedule, and this is really all the run time you need to go the distance. It allows plenty of time for cross-training and rest. Both are critical for long-term health and success. Besides, you gotta allow for one day of blissful nothingness!

SR: TAKE A DAY OR TWO OFF! Seriously, I talk to runners all the time who run every day- you really don’t need to and doing so can lead to injury. So take a breather at least once a week- it won’t affect your training negatively. I trained for the Dopey Challenge running only three times a week.

  • Adverse Training Components-speed is too fast or has too much, too soon.
HB: Running is a slow-burn, long-haul commitment. Like anything else in life, you need to grow and develop into your own space, at your own pace. This is not just for beginners but experienced runners as well. If you haven’t hit the road for a long time (due to injury, life commitments, lethargy, whatever), you can’t rush back into where you were at your peak. ESPECIALLY if you signed up for a race and think you can just condense training into a few short days or weeks. Start slow and build up again.

SR: Did you know that it can take a month or more for your bones to respond to increased distance/speed training? Basically, your bones take a longer time to strengthen than your muscles, heart, and respiratory system. So even though you can feel improvement in those areas, don’t rush the training too fast- give your skeletal system time to catch up!

  • Running form-too long a stride, forward lean, bouncing too high off the ground.
HB: You ever see those bouncy runners, the ones whose form seem to indicate that they took personal exemption from the laws of gravity and wind up several inches off the ground with each step, knees high in the air, almost effortless with their lithe, deeply expressionist panther-like movements? You don’t have to be Carnac the Magnificent to foretell the painful arthroscopic surgeries in their future… I just showed my age there :(

SR: Just remember the “marathon shuffle:” quick turn-over, short stride, feet low to the ground. It helps prevent injury and keeps you from expending too much energy too early.

So staying focused on the way one runs and following these guidelines, can often allow runners to maintain a manageable increase without injury

Top 5 ways to avoid stress buildup-and avoid injuries

1. Take walk breaks more frequently, and run shorter run segments

SR: Coming back from the stress fracture, I started with 4:1 intervals- four minutes walking, one minute running. It’s what helped me ease back into distance running after four months off.

HB: I’m actually surprised at how much resistance there is to intervals among so many, even new runners. They’re convinced that it’s not ‘real’ running. You know what’s not ‘real’ running? Laying on the couch with your foot wrapped, iced, elevated, and out of commission due to a blown Achilles tendon or PF.

2. Form: shorter stride, feet low to the ground

SR: I like to call this the “marathon shuffle” and during long runs I keep my feet as close to the ground as possible.

HB: As opposed to my “zombie shuffle”, which is when I hit the wall at Mile 20 and where I’m making running motions but moving barely past walking speed, while hungering for brains and looking at the flowers! Or something. No but seriously, short and quick is the way to go if you really want to go the distance.

3. Slower long runs, with more walk breaks

SR: I pretty much have one speed- nice and easy, with plenty of walk breaks.

HB: You and me both. With my size and body frame, I’ll never be Barry Allen or Pietro Maximoff (NERD ALERT!), but what I strive for in my long runs is consistency and endurance. Slow and steady ALWAYS wins the race.

4. Avoid Stretching

SR: I’m definitely an advocate of stretching- but only AFTER running when your muscles are warm and pliable. Doing any kind of stretching when your muscles are cold doesn't benefit you and can actually lead to injury.

HB: I've heard Señor Jefe on several podcasts advocating not stretching at all, either before or after. Obviously do what feels right to you, but static stretching before running is a definite no-no. I’m a firm believer in your first mile or two being adequate warm-up, but there’s nothing wrong with doing some light jogging or determined walks before a long run.

5. Be careful when running speed sessions

SR: Yeah, see my comment for #3. I don’t feel the need for speed ☺

HB: I feel the need… the need for a Speedo! But that’s neither here nor there… (awkward) *ahem* ANYWAY speed work at the track or on a treadmill is definitely beneficial in helping increase your overall speed… but yikes, please don’t kill yourself. I see these people at the gym all the time, with the treadmill jacked up at 8, 9, even up to 10 mph… and as they desperately try to keep up with this demanding velocity, THEY’RE HOLDING ON TO THE SIDES OF THE MACHINE FOR DEAR LIFE! Schadenfreude notwithstanding, it’s still a disaster waiting to happen.

So there you have it- Hokey, Sparkly, & Galloway's tips for injury prevention!

What would you add to this list?

Updates from Jeff Galloway:

Register now for the Jeff Galloway 13.1 with no risk!  The 2nd annual half marathon on Dec. 13, 2015 is currently $95. You can sign up with no risk! Take advantage of this low price, and if you can't make it, you can roll into the virtual option with no extra charge!
Register today at Jeff Galloway 13.1!

Carmel, CA
April 23-24, 2015 

Lake Tahoe, CA
July 23 - 30, 2015 (week)
July 24 - 26, 2015 (weekend) 

About Hokeyboy: 
Hokeyboy, aka Matthew Millheiser, has been blogging for a few short years and writing about himself in the third-person since about 15 seconds ago. When he's not engaging in semi-amusingly circuitous meta-humor, he engages his inner passions for all sorts of obsessive geekery: music, movies, travel, information technology, gaming, full-contact Mahjong, Googling alternate spellings for "Mahjong", and wondering what the hell "Mahjong" is in the first place. Oh, and of course, obsessing over all things running and all things Disney, especially running at the Disney properties, and running to the local black market organ donation centers to finance running at the Disney properties. A six-foot-two Aquarius who despises long walks on the beach, because any native Floridian loathes the beach and the ones who say they don't are big fat freakin' liars, he lives with his adoringly beautiful and extremely patient wife Kim and their two perfectly ridiculous felines Lucas (named after George) and Austen (named after Jane) in the smarmy suburbs of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Come check out what makes him tick over at his nifty and Sparkly Runner-approved blog Hokeyblog