Friday, May 25, 2018

Race Recap & Review: Pittsburgh 5k

Earlier this month, I ran the 5k during the Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend as part one of the Steel Challenge: complete the 5k on Saturday and any race on Sunday (half, full, or relay) and earn extra bling for being a runner of steel.

Flat runner for a 3.1 mile journey through Pittsburgh.

Saturday morning in Pittsburgh brought high humidity but cool temperatures- it made for an absolutely gorgeous sky.

Good morning, Yinz!

Before the race, I went to the We Run Social meet-up and chatted with new (and old!) friends. I love pre-race meet-ups because they help keep my mind off any nervousness I have going on. Even though I had no time goals for this race, I was still having a bout of pre-race nerves. Sometimes it just happens. 😩

Running + friends = best day ever.

As the race start time (8 AM) got closer, Matthew and I decided to make a port-o-potty run. We headed towards the bathrooms (and the starting corrals) like we've done for each of the other four years we've run this race and we realized something- the starting line was going in the complete opposite direction as we thought it would be!

This year the marathon was celebrating its 10th year and (I guess?) in celebration of a decade of running, the 5k course was 100% backward from what it's been the last four years we've done it.

So, we were standing in the port-o-potty line that was actually at the very front of the race instead of in the very back of the race. Luckily for us, the line went quickly and we had enough time to pee and then walk all the way to the starting corrals.

Matthew and I decided to run this race separately as he wanted to run for time. I dropped him off in the middle of the pack with the rest of our ohana, grabbed a quick selfie, and then made my way towards the back of the pack to start.

Do we look ready to race? Because we totally are.

Just after 8 AM, I crossed the start line and began my 5k route through the city. Basically, this course was the exact opposite of the course in years past. I actually really liked not quite knowing where I was going- it makes the race more unpredictable and exciting for me!

The course featured the same sweeping views of the city as it always had, just from another angle. There were also fewer bridges this year; I believe we only crossed one due to some construction in the downtown area blocking the other bridges. Regardless, I loved the new course.

Does it get much better than this?

I also quite literally ran into friends Lauren and Chelsea towards the end of the race. I was able to grab a few photos of them before crossing the bridge and heading to the finish line.

Love seeing friendly faces on the course.

Almost there!

I gave one last final push to finish the race and crossed the line in 33:53, average pace of 10:32 minutes per mile. For once, I actually negative split appropriately! 11:08/10:46/10:14 splits. I felt really good after the race and was proud of the fact that I had a race strategy and executed it well. Though I had no specific time goal, I did want to have negative splits and an overall pace under 11:30- done and done.

Will run for bling.

After collecting my medal and bottle of water and meeting up with Matthew and our running ohana, we headed through the Finisher's Festival and down to Point State Park to relax a bit before heading back to Steff and Joe's house- our awesome friends who always host us for Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend.

I'm a sucker for a good fountain.

With the half marathon the next day, we spend the rest of Saturday hanging out and then had a low-key dinner at Steff and Joe's with new and old friends.

I really enjoyed the new 5k course this year and loved having a fun way to shake out my legs before the second part of the Steel Challenge- a 13.1 mile journey through the meanest hills of Pittsburgh. This race is definitely a great addition to Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend- if you're ever in Pittsburgh during the first weekend in May, this is one not to be missed!

What's one of your favorite 5k races?

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Accountability Tuesday: 5/8/2018

Good morning, friends!

Hope your week is off to a great start! Here's short recap of what's been going on in my world over the last week:

Wednesday: Jillian Michaels "Ripped in 30" week 2 workout
Saturday: Pittsburgh 5k, 33:47
Sunday: Pittsburgh Half Marathon, 2:30:01

I'll write a full recap later but- I ran my second fastest half marathon EVER! My last mile was a 9:47! :-)

The past few weeks I've been trying to incorporate at least two "other" workouts into my week. When I ran Pittsburgh in 2015, I felt the best I'd ever felt during a marathon and I attribute that to cross-training and strength-training. So while my training for Pittsburgh 2018 wasn't perfect, the fact that I was able to squeeze in some other workouts (mainly Jillian Michaels) I think contributed significantly to the fact that I was able to run my fastest half in 4+ years. I know I still have some speed left in these legs; now to just let it out and see how fast I can really go!

Steel Challenge #5 complete.

Best Run
The Pittsburgh 5k was PERFECT: beautiful weather, fun new course, high fives from a bunch of cute kids (and a dog!), gorgeous views of the city, and negative splits. All-around awesome if you ask me.

How could you not love a run with views like this?!

Bravo Moment
The scale is finally responding to the effort I feel like I'm making- and I couldn't be happier or prouder of myself. Weight loss and weight maintenance is one of those things that never gets easier- I will always struggle with my weight. But, I can have control over most of the things that affect my health/weight so I will continue to do what it takes to stay healthy.

Quote of the Week
This week's quote is from the hilarious - and sometimes wise- Steve Martin:

How accurate is this, right?

Have an awesome week, friends!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

{almost} Wordless Wednesday

Hi friends! It's the middle of the week which means... Friday is close!

In lieu of missing a few Accountability Mondays, today's post is a little visual representation of what's been happening in my world over the last two weeks.

Wanna eat vanilla icing on your run? Try this limited-edition GU- tastes just like birthday cake icing!
Thanks for the sample, StrideBox

Fastest 5K EVER! Now to just do it in a race. 😏

Seen on my run last week. Grateful to finally see the sun.

That finish line feeling sometimes looks like agony. πŸ˜‚
Trailfest 2018 should have been called Sufferfest 2018. More on that in a future post.

Extra thankful for this guy (and craft beer) these days.

Have a great rest of the week!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

"Keep Showing Up"

In case you missed one of the most dramatic and inspiring Boston Marathon finishes on Monday, lemme fill you in- Desiree Linden won the women's race becoming the first American Woman to win the Boston Marathon in 33 years. 33. Freaking. Years!

Source and more details at Runner's World.

What's even more impressive about Des's win is that she's run 14 marathons in the last 11 years, coming in second place in several major races: Boston, Chicago, and the US Olympic Trials. A few years ago she missed winning the Boston Marathon by mere seconds.

But she kept at it. She kept running and training and striving towards her goal of winning one of the World Marathon Majors. No matter how many races she didn't win, she kept trying.

And on Monday she did it! On a cold and rainy day, after slowing down to help out her US teammates, after considering dropping out of the marathon- she won the damn race!

Watching her performance solidified for me why I love the sport of running so much. The grit, tenacity, and perseverance that runners demonstrate, day in and day out, is awe-inspiring.

I think Des herself sums it up best:

Des also did something else this week- she helped confirm some running dreams of mine.

As a back-of-the-pack runner, I will probably never qualify to run the Boston Marathon. I may never break a 5 hour marathon. A sub-30 5k may be out of my reach.

But I'm still going to show up. To every race, to every workout, to every training session.

And I'm abso-freaking-lutely going to run another marathon.

After my Unofficial Goofy Challenge in January, I wasn't sure if I wanted to run another marathon. My last 26.2 mile adventure left me feeling two things equally- "Holy hell, this sucks and everything hurts and I don't want to do this anymore" and "I want to run another one- and run it fast."

I'm 99% sure I'll be registering for the 2019 Walt Disney World Marathon. I like this race, I love Disney World, and I'm confident I can run a fast (for me- sub 5:30) marathon in January 2019.

This summer/fall training cycle, I'm going to show up. Repeatedly. Every damn day. And I am going to run my fifth marathon in 2019.

Training will be hard. It will hurt. Sometimes, it'll downright suck. Some days, I'll question my ability to run long distances. But I'm going to keep showing up.

Putting this out into the universe is scary; what if I can't make good on my goals? What if I get injured, again? What if all the wheels fall off and I can't finish the race I trained for?

Honestly, the answer is so, so simple. Like Des said, "Keep showing up." ❤

What are you going to "keep showing up" for?

Monday, April 9, 2018

Accountability Monday: 4/9/2018

Good morning and welcome to another Monday!

I've secretly always liked the start of a week- a fresh new beginning; another chance to do whatever it is you feel like you need to do. :-) Cheers to the start of a great week!

Wednesday: 3.1 mile run, 10:54 pace
Saturday: 3 mile hike; 2 mile run, 11:49 pace

We spent the weekend in the Pocono Mountains and even though it was frigid- temps in the 30's- it was absolutely beautiful in the forest. Trail running is quickly becoming my favorite spring activity.

If you're in the market for an awesome trail shoe- check out the Altra Timp. Heavenly.

Best Run
Wednesday's run was incredibly windy- 40+ mph gusts! But I managed to have negative splits and felt pretty awesome: 11:11/11:09/10:25. I also took the new Altra Duos out for the second time and I really, really like this shoe. The sole is very stiff but feels super responsive and bouncy- these are definitely a short-distance, road-warrior shoe. Can't wait to see how these do in a race!

This wind was INTENSE.

Bravo Moment
I tracked, planned, and portioned all my food last week and it paid off- I lost 2.2 pounds!

Quote of the Week
Life, just like weight loss or running, is best experienced with a little patience. It was awesome to be out in the woods this past weekend, soaking up every moment of peace and calm I could from Mother Nature; being among the trees gives me much-needed perspective.

Have a calming, patience-filled week, friends!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Race Recap & Review: Capital 10 Miler

Last weekend, I finally got the chance to run the Capital 10 Miler in Harrisburg, PA. I volunteered for this race in 2015 and it's been on my "race bucket list" for a while.

I hadn't run a 10 mile race in four years; the last time was in 2014 at the Mission 10 Miler. That race brought a 2:06:55 finishing time; a time that I knew I could beat, once I decided to run a 10 mile race again.

Volunteering at packet pick-up in 2015.

For $50, I registered online for the Capital 10 Miler five days before the event. This race benefits the Open Stage of Harrisburg, a neat theater built into the bottom of a parking garage in the city of Harrisburg. The race is advertised as walker-friendly (as walkers could start at 8:15 while runners started at 9) and flat and fast.

On Saturday morning, I arrived to City Island (race start/finish) around 8:05, easily found a place to park, and then walked to the start to pick up my packet. Because of the time I arrived, I also got to cheer on the walkers as they started their race.

Packet pick-up was a breeze. I used the port-a-potties, checked out some merchandise from Run PA, and then headed back to the car to stay warm before the race started. I love smaller races- I didn't have to spend 40 minutes shivering in the cold waiting for a race to begin!

A view of Harrisburg across the Susquehanna River, taken from my vantage point on City Island.

Around 8:45, I left my car and walked the short distance to the starting line. While waiting to begin, I thought about what my goals would be for this race. My "C" goal was just to finish, as always. My "B" goal was to beat 2:05 and thus have a new PR from the 2014 race. And my kinda secret "A" goal was to finish in less than 2 hours. I typically don't put those kind of goals out into the universe; they usually stay in my thoughts, typically sorted as wishful thinking. But for whatever reason, right before the start, I posted to instagram and added my time goals.

Since this race had a relatively small field, about 500 runners, in no time at all, we were all across the starting line and starting our 10 mile journeys!

We began with an almost mile loop around City Island. I wanted to keep the first few miles at or around 12:00 min/mile pace so I started running conservatively. About a quarter of a mile in, I looked behind me and there was only one runner and the medical personnel on bikes- that was it. My plan of starting slow was working!

Proof that my feet do leave the ground when I run! Photo: Bill Bonney Photography

We hit mile one as we crossed the Walnut Street Bridge to the main part of Harrisburg. I looked at my watch- 11:27. Too. Damn. Fast. Even though I felt like I was going slow, I clearly wasn't going slow enough. So I decided to slow down even more to hit my target pace of around 12:00 minutes/mile.

Race route courtesy of my Garmin Forerunner :-)

The next few miles of the race were along the Susquehanna River and on a trail called "the Greenbelt." I was familiar with this part of the race since the Greenbelt is also included in the Harrisburg Half Marathon. My slow-down plan was working- miles 2, 3, and 4 were 11:50, 11:55, 11:39, respectively.

Bridges are my fave. Photo: Bill Bonney Photography

I hit mile 5 in just under an hour- my "A" goal was within reach! I knew if I just kept my paces under 12:00, I would be able to finish this race under 2 hours. From mile 5 on, I kept my mind distracted by calculating what time I'd need to reach the next mile marker to keep it under 12:00 minutes- I was actually shooting for 11:45 min/miles and that made the math more difficult in my head :-)

Part of the Greenbelt- and a train!

Runners passing each other on the sometimes very narrow trail.

What a beautiful day for running!

Around mile 6.5, I saw a group of people standing on the side of the race course- in running clothes and bibs- just casually drinking a beer. I figured they had already finished the race and were out cheering for other runners. But then one yelled to me, "Hey! Want a beer?" Obviously, you already know the answer to that question. :-)

I grabbed a Dogfish Head SeaQuench Ale and kept moving. I mean, I love craft beer, but I also had a PR to chase!

Mid-race beer is so refreshing.

I kept trucking along and hit mile 7 feeling great. Since there were only 3 miles left, I knew I could safely pick up the pace and not burn out too soon. I dug deep, starting running faster during my running intervals (my usual 30:30), and kept my focus on the finish line. My splits for miles 5 and 6 were 11:28 and 11:33.

Miles 7 (11:28) and 8 (11:20) were out and back on a bridge and then we turned back down the road towards the Walnut Street Bridge and the finish on City Island.

Knowing I only had two miles to finish, I poured everything I had into my legs and asked them to keep going to mile 10.

Heading back towards the city around mile 8.

As I raced towards the finish line, I took a glance at my watch for mile 9- 10:49. Holy crap! I just ran a 10:49 mile after 8 miles! This was the last bit of confidence boost I needed as I hustled towards the finish line.

I ran the last little bit on the river, turned left onto the Walnut Street Bridge, and then ran onto City Island to the finish line. I stopped my watch right after I crossed the finish- 1:53:56 with a last mile split of 10:10. I couldn't believe it- I had not just made my "A" goal; I'd absolutely crushed it! And ran a 10:10 mile after 9 miles!

I grabbed my medal and a bottle of water and then cried- I had a new 10 mile PR! It's been almost two years since I had any type of PR and this one was so unexpected. And I cut over 12 minutes off my previous 10 mile time.

They had a ton of food out for the runners- bagels, cookies, chips, fruit, etc. I grabbed a banana, took one last look at the Run PA shirts (and maybe bought one for Matthew!), and then headed back to my car.

Such a great race!

Overall, this was well-organized race. Everything about it was low-key and easy and I really enjoyed the course. While it was narrow at some points, I never felt too crowded because the field size was small. Would I do this one again? Absolutely! Flat, fast, cheap, and the potential of spectators with craft beer?! Sounds like a perfect race for me. If you ever find yourself in south central PA in late March, definitely check this one out.

And thank you for all of your comments and encouragement on social media last weekend- thanks for cheering me on!

Thank you! PRs are always better celebrated with friends!

So there you have it- the Capital 10 Miler is a beautiful race and a great place to get a 10 mile PR!

Have you ever run a 10 mile race? What do you think of that distance?

Monday, April 2, 2018

Accountability Monday: 4/2/2018

Good morning and happy spring! It's finally April! 

It almost feels like warmer weather is near!

I don't know about you, but I am ready for spring and new beginnings in the worst way! These past few winter months have been a struggle- I don't know why, but I've been slacking on workouts, eating healthy, tracking my food, etc. My pants don't fit anymore and I'm not super happy with how I look or feel these days. I think I'm up about seven pounds from this time last year but it feels like 20. 


BUT! Something super cool happened this weekend- I got a new PR for the 10 mile distance!!!

PRs make me smile :-)

I'll write a full recap of the race later, but wow, what a day! I can't believe I got a new PR by over 12 minutes! There's something about crushing goals that makes you feel unstoppable; suddenly those seven pounds don't feel as heavy :-)

Tuesday: 4 rainy miles on the trail, 11:15 pace
Thursday: 3.1 miles in new Altra Duos, 10:35 pace
Saturday: Capital 10 Miler race, 1:53:56, 11:24 pace

Solid week of running, solid week of fast (for me) paces, not-so-solid week of strength or cross training. 

Did you know the Altra Duos have the power of levitation? ;-)

Best Run
The Capital 10 Miler was phenomenal- I felt so fast and strong, especially the last three miles. Check out those splits- I ran a 10:10 after nine miles!

Bravo Moment
Last week at work was unnecessarily stressful- I chose to run instead of eating my feelings on Thursday evening. That's a win in my book. 

Quote of the Week
This one popped up in my instagram feed from Runner's World; so appropriate given this weekend's race. I can't wait to shatter more mental blocks and grind out some more PRs!

Have a great week, friends!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Accountability Monday: 3/12/18

After an almost three-month hiatus, Accountability Monday is back! ... a day late, as usual. πŸ˜‰

It feels like I've taken a long break from training this winter- part of this is my normal routine. After a marathon, I usually need at least a month of easy, no-training-plan running. But it seems like my month has turned into almost eight weeks of not really doing anything. Work is partly to blame but so is a lack of motivation.

With this training hiatus, I can definitely notice the difference in how I feel every day both physically and mentally. My body aches, it feels like I've gained 10 pounds, and I feel sluggish and slow.

So, with only eight weeks until the Steel Challenge (Pittsburgh 5k + half marathon), it's time for me to regroup, refocus, and set myself up for success with a training plan that will help me cross both finish lines feeling in-shape and awesome.

Excited for this anniversary bling! Source.
Saturday: 3.1 mile run, 11:59 overall pace
Sunday: 2.5 mile run, 12:19 overall pace

Speed work, strength training, and cross training must be included in my training plan for the next eight weeks-  I definitely have my work cut out for me this spring!

Best Run
Saturday's 5k was actually really enjoyable, considering that I hadn't run in over 14 days (yikes!). I decided to go off-road and run through the fields surrounding my house instead of the normal roads/sidewalks and it was honestly quite fun having a change of scenery.

Bravo Moment
I ran without a shirt on this weekend when I got overheated and didn't totally hate how I looked. That's a bravo in my book any day!

Mud means spring is coming soon, right? Right?! 

Quote of the Week
I'm building towards that comeback every damn day.

How do you stay motivated to training/healthy living when life gets in the way?

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Transitions: A Non-Running Life Update

Good morning, friends!

As you may have noticed, I've been a little absent on the blog and on social media for the last few weeks. Lately, my life has felt insanely crazy busy and I haven't been able to prioritize running, working out, or updating here about any of my training- or lack thereof.

But there are a few good reasons why...

Long story short, I got a new job!

And I'm going back to school!

That's right, in just a few years, I might change this blog's name to Dr. Sparkly Runner 😍

Long story long, the grad school thing has been in the works for quite a while. I applied and interviewed for the program last summer and found out I was accepted in August. I will schedule classes next month and now that it feels really real, I wanted to put it out there to the world: this fall, I will start the coursework for the Doctor of Education in Administration and Leadership Studies program at Indiana University of Pennsylvania! *cue happy dance*

As for the new job, that happened rather quickly and has caused a lot of positive disruption in my life. For the last two weeks, I have been preparing to move myself and my office across campus to my new role: Associate Dean of Students and Director of Student Conduct. This move involves me straddling two jobs for a bit and in the coming weeks, there will still be a few transitional items that I'll need to complete (from my previous role) in addition to fulfilling the obligations of the new role.

Because of the added stress of a mid-semester job change, I've barely had time to run or work out. In fact, it's been TEN DAYS since my last run. UGH. Even though this new role is amazing for my professional development and I am absolutely thrilled to serve the university I work for in this capacity, the transition has really thrown off my running and training game!

And because of the grad school thing, I've got to take a hard look at my calendar for the next few years and figure out what races I can/want to do and which races/training plans will fit into my class and new work schedule.

All of these changes are super positive. But they still disrupt the normal pattern and rhythm of my life, my running, and my training. It's taken me years to develop a manageable routine of healthy eating and physical activity that keeps me at a healthy weight and in half-marathon/marathon shape.

I'm nervous... about being able to stick to my healthy routines.

I'm excited... about being back in the classroom and developing my skills as an administrator.

I'm anxious... about making a smooth transition into my new job.


I'm confident... that I can handle all these new changes, maintain my healthy lifestyle, and still train for marathons. Or the 2019 Goofy Challenge. 😍

"...and it will, too." One of my absolute favorite quotes from a movie.

So that's what's been going on in my world. Hopefully, I get a new rhythm going here soon- the Pittsburgh Half Marathon is less than eight weeks away and I'm hoping to crush my half marathon course record in my fifth Steel Challenge weekend!

What's new with you?! 

What new beginnings are you looking forward to?

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Final Thoughts: 2018 WDW Marathon Weekend

Now that we are almost a full two months post-WDW Marathon Weekend, I feel like I can adequately sum up my thoughts about the weekend now that some time has passed.

I try not to write about a race weekend immediately after because I'm usually still so pumped up on endorphins that I can't objectively think about the experience to adequately review it.

There were things I absolutely loved about this year's Marathon Weekend and some things that made me second guess doing this race weekend again.

In no particular order, here are my final thoughts on 2018 WDW Marathon Weekend!

Absolutely Awesome Things

Seeing friends is always the highlight of any runDisney weekend but this year, it felt like we got to spend a lot of time with several of our friends that we only get to see a few times a year. It was really such a highlight of the weekend.

Breakfast at Floatworks with friends is the very best way to recover from a marathon.
Some of us are way excited to be running 26.2 miles.

Running down Main Street USA and through the castle is magical. Running down Main Street USA and through the castle twice in two days is super magical. I really loved all of the course changes this year that took us through the front gates of Magic Kingdom and I especially liked how much more time we spent in MK during the full.

Good morning, MK!

Exploring Pandora was definitely a cool part of the weekend. We also got to ride both new rides at AK and discovered a favorite new bar, Nomad Lounge.

Mugs and matching magic bands are mandatory in Pandora.

Y'all already know I love Altra running shoes, but WDW Marathon Weekend proved to me how vital having the right shoes can be. I wore two different pairs of the Paradigm for the half and full and in between the races I wore the HIIT XT (cross-trainers). I credit my Altras with helping me make it through the weekend with strong, pain-free feet.

So many of my favorite things in one photo.

Less Awesome Things

Y'all. These courses were so crowded. There were times during the full when I felt like we were running in wall-to-wall people. At one point, I stopped at a medical tent to get some biofreeze and was nearly bowled over by all the folks crowding around the table. I don't know if there were more runners on the marathon course this year or if I'm just getting too old for this crap, but it felt really, really crowded throughout much of the race.

And....we've got walkers, five across. UGH.

That expo was not a great experience. Long lines everywhere, confusion on where to go, multiple buildings for merchandise, bibs, etc. Matthew and I had such a bad taste in our mouth from this expo; it made us reconsider the entire weekend.

No merch is worth waiting hours for.

The weather in Florida in the winter can be unpredictable but this year's was exceptionally crappy. With temps in the 30's and a real feel in the 20's, we might as well had just stayed in Pennsylvania and ran with all our winter weather gear! This is the second year in a row it's been cold- we're due for a weekend of good running weather.

You should never have to wear a hat in FLORIDA. 

So... will be back for WDW Marathon Weekend in 2019?

Already dreaming of 2019 bling.

Maybe... probably. :-)

There are a few things up in the air for us personally (which I'll detail in another post soon!) so we can't quite say yet what January 2019 will look like.

But in all likelihood, we'll be back for another WDW Marathon Weekend- at least we want to. During the marathon this year, I had a strong feeling that I wanted to run another marathon, and run it for time. It's been almost three years since I PR'd in that distance and I can feel it in my heart- I've got one more 'fast' marathon in me. Will it be the WDW full next year?

We'll just have to wait and see!

Did you run during WDW Marathon Weekend? What was your experience like?