Friday, October 31, 2014

31 Days - The End

I can't believe it's the last day of October!! This year has FLOWN by. That's probably because it's been so full of awesome things! I can't wait to write an end of year blog and really reflect on the blessings God has poured over my life this year. My cup runneth over for sure!

Thanks for putting up with me 28 times this month...yes, I missed 3 days in there - oops. One day was the day of the marathon. 2 days were last weekend when I was really cranky and just didn't feel like writing. I probably should've written, maybe I'd have been less cranky.

I'm going to take a little blog break for the week. I'll be back in 5 days to announce the winner of the WIN Detergent giveaway! Have you entered? Even if you're not washing tech fabrics - this giveaway is for TWO full sized bottles of laundry detergent! That's around 50 loads of laundry you can wash for FREE!! Enter now!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Single Best Motivation

In my few years as a runner, I have one major piece of motivation that has never failed me:

Register for a race.

The single best thing I did after the first Urbanathlon was to sign up for the Rock n Roll DC Half Marathon. It kept me going. 

See, my real "first" race was the local Turkey Trot 5k back in 2010 that I did with my friend Diana (who, btw, has lost over 100 pounds and just ran her first half!!). We did the Jingle Bell run after that, and then it was "oh we will sign up for something again soon" -- but it never happened for me. 

So, if you're thinking about signing up for a race...DO IT. 

You might be thinking the same things I did -
"I can't run ____ miles!"
"I could never run that far!"
"What if I can't do it?"

Well guess what? 
I couldn't run 26.2 miles in the spring when I registered for my first marathon. 
I couldn't run FIVE miles when I registered for my first half marathon.
I couldn't run ONE mile when I signed up for my first 5k. 

That's what training is for. 

Find a good plan.
Start slow. 
Believe in yourself!! 

What are you waiting for?

Training Plan Resources:
Hal Higdon (I've used his plans a lot, including for my marathon)
Another Mother Runner (I'm planning on using one of their plans for my next half)
Jeff Galloway (if you're looking for a run/walk training plan)


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Weekend Things

This weekend was the first post-marathon weekend. Marathon training takes up a LOT of time, especially when you've got really long runs on a Saturday or Sunday morning! So, what did I do with my first marathon training free weekend? Did I sleep in? Lounge around?


I went to the gym!! One of my favorite classes is called WAR, and with marathon training, I haven't been doing anything but running and yoga.

I had a blast kicking and punching for an hour Saturday morning! 
(that's me on the left in the gray shirt!)


Sunday morning I didn't sleep in either. 

What does a runner do on their first marathon free weekend? Go watch other runners at a race! HA!

About 20 people from Gruver Fitness tackled the Gettysburg Blue Gray Half Marathon! It was a beautiful day, but it was WINDY! I was running around taking pictures and cheering my heart out. For most of these people, it was their first half marathon. It was SO MUCH FUN cheering for them and especially watching their faces as they crossed the finish line. What a great day!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Short and sweet today...
Yesterday was my race-iversary! 2 years ago, I lined up at the start of the Urbanathlon. I had know idea it would be the start of so much more! THANK YOU to Mindy and Brian for seeing something in me that I didn't see in myself. I would not have crossed the finish line of the Baltimore Marathon if I hadn't had the courage to stand at that first start line. 

P.S. Did you enter my WIN Detergent giveaway yet??? Click here!

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Smelly Situation {Giveaway!}

If you're like me, one of the challenges with working out regularly is LAUNDRY! Not only is there twice as much laundry, but it's laundry that does not smell great -- especially during marathon training in the summer!

WIN Detergent is specifically designed to remove sweat, odors, and stains from technical and moisture wicking athletic fabrics.  I have tested both the scented and unscented versions, and they work!

I love the light scent of the scented. I had been using Tide with Febreze, and the scent in that detergent is really strong. I was never sure if it was actually removing odor, or just covering it up. With WIN, I'm confident that the odor is actually being removed and not just covered up.

Want to WIN some WIN of your own?

The folks at WIN and Sweat Pink are doing a giveaway for my fabulous readers! You can enter to win TWO full sized bottles (one scented, one unscented)!!!

Enter the giveaway below! The winner will be announced on Friday!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(I was given 2 bottles to try as part of this giveaway - all opinions are my own!) 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thursday Thoughts

Random Thursday Thoughts...

1. ZERO WEEK: This is the week after you run a marathon where you let your body rest and repair from the 26.2 miles of pounding it just went through. I have only run 2 miles this week -- my lowest mileage week since I started running!  I did NOTHING but walk around Baltimore a little, clean, and go to work Sunday-Tuesday. Wednesday I did 2 easy miles. Today I did power yoga. Saturday I will do kickboxing. Sunday I am going to Gettysburg to cheer on some friends doing the half marathon there. It's been a nice down week. Next week, it's game on! Back to strength training and regular running! 

2. YOGA. Gosh I just really, really, really love yoga. I used to hate it. Kinda like running. Yoga was my main form of cross training during marathon training. It's not just a bunch of fantastic stretches. Yoga can be a great strength workout. Go try it!

3. SORE. I'm going to be so sore next week. I've been getting daily emails from a group at school who does CrossFit style workouts after work. Next week I will FINALLY get to join them a few times. I haven't lifted a weight since August. It's going to hurt. And I can't wait!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wednesday Words - Distance

I'm kind of telling myself this one after the marathon. 

Yes, the goal of a first marathon (for most of us) is simply to finish. 

That was my goal. 

But, I figured with my long run paces, that I would come in somewhere around 4:45. To finish a full 20 minutes slower is frustrating to me. 

Something that I think really affected my race, but I didn't realize it at the time, was the half-marathoners on the course. 

In Baltimore, the half-marathon starts an hour and 45 minutes after the marathon, and at the 13 mile point on the marathon course. The marathon course runs alongside the half-marathon start corrals, and then the courses separate until mile 3 of the half and mile 16 of the full.

When Mark and the 3:45 pace group arrived at mile 16, he said the merge was crazy busy. When I arrived somewhere between the 4:45 and 5:00 groups, there was literally ONE half marathoner merging.

This left me with a LOT of slower half-marathoners to pass. This might seem motivating, but it wasn't. Everywhere I looked there were people walking. And they weren't race walking or even really "walking with purpose" (Gruver Fitness favorite phrase). The people at the back of the half-marathon pack were, in large part, just meandering. This was REALLY demotivating. It's hard enough to push yourself to keep running when you're at mile 16 and it's hot and you're tired, but when everyone around you is walking, it's even harder.

I'm definitely NOT disappointed in my performance -- I ran a marathon! I loved the whole experience, and I will be doing it again. I was just looking back over my race and thinking about what I would do differently next time, and this whole "walker" realization came to me. 

In the end, though, like the quote says -- it doesn't matter the pace or the time. I set out to complete 26.2 miles and I did every last step! I'm proud!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What's next?

So...what's next? That's been the question in my mind lately. Once you run a marathon...what comes next? Train for another?

I'll tell you what my current plans are...
1. The York Road Runners Winter Series: This winter running series is $25 and includes 8 races of all distances from 5K to 10-miler. It starts November 9 with the longest race of the series, the Dover 10-miler. Since it's not too far away, and I'm well trained for distance, that will be my next race. 

2. The Wildcat 10K: This hilly 10K is the 3rd race in the YRRC Winter Series. For the first time, I'm going to follow a training plan specifically designed for shorter distance and increased speed in an attempt to own this race!

3. The Charlottesville Half Marathon: One of my college roommates lives in Charlottesville, and one of my BRFs (best running friends) is a UVA alumni, so this is a great location for a spring half!! Lauren (the aforementioned BRF) and I both registered to run this one. I can't wait!

I'm still not sure about fall next year. I am definitely going back to Baltimore. Possibly for the half or maybe the marathon relay. It's the Baltimore Running Festival 15th anniversary - can't miss it! Fall may include another marathon (Philly maybe?) or a few half marathons. Luckily, I've got time! 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Baltimore MARATHON Race Weekend Recap

I feel like I JUST posted about how marathon training was starting, and here it is -- the very long, very wordy, lots of pictures, race recap! Where did the time go?!

The Baltimore Running Festival took place on Saturday, October 18. The Baltimore Oriole's were in the ALCS Playoffs, and had the potential to be playing game 6 on Friday night and game 7 on Saturday night if the series went that far. Because of this, the BRF organizers moved all race start times up an hour and had a contingency plan in place if game 6 became necessary. If it had, the finish line (which runs through Camden Yards) would have been moved. The O's lost the series in 4 games, so the finish line was not moved - phew! I love that finish line!!! I also loved the earlier start time, because I was going to be running around 5 hours! 

Mark and I headed to the start line bright and early! It was chilly out and the crowd was super energetic. I felt GREAT! My body felt rested, I wasn't even slightly nervous, I felt totally prepared and ready to go. We wished each other luck and headed off to find out pace groups - 3:45 for Mark and 4:45 for me.
The course is notorious for being hilly, and there were definitely plenty of hills! But I really, really love this course. The first 3 miles were an uphill climb to Druid Lake and the Baltimore Zoo. We ran through the zoo, where there were animal handlers out with all kinds of birds and even penguins! It was so fun! 

Around mile 6, I was rolling with the pace group and feeling fantastic. I realized then that I was actually ahead of the pace group, not by much, but instead of a 10:40-10:50 pace, I was going about 10:30. So I didn't take off with any kind of crazy speed, but I thought I would give myself a little cushion in case I needed to stop or something. Plus I had been trapped with this REALLY chatty lady for at least a mile and I wanted to get away from her haha!!

At mile 8, the course runs back down into the Inner Harbor area, and it's where I spotted my friends. Actually, I spotted myself -- because they had GIANT heads of Mark and I on sticks. It was HILARIOUS to be running down the road and think "Is that ME?" HAHA!! 

The next 2 miles of the course are an out and back along the harbor. I figured it would be a good chance to spot Mark on the course, and I did! We waved at each other and that was a great boost for me. I knew my friend, Christy, should be about 30 minutes behind Mark, so I was able to spot her too! 

Around mile 11, the 4:45 pace group caught up to me. I hung with them for about a mile and a half, and then I just couldn't keep pace. My legs were feeling fine, but my low back kept tightening up. I ended up doing walk/run intervals for most of the rest of the race.

So, miles 13-20 were the worst for me...and that was unexpected. I really thought the last 6.2 would be the worst, because that's what everyone told me to expect.

Miles 20-21 run around Lake Montebello, and I love this part of the course. From mile 16 on we were on the half marathon course, which I ran last year, and it was fun to remember that race. At my mile 20, I also knew that Mark should be finishing up, so I had my phone out the whole time around the lake waiting for his finish text! (He finished in a killer 3:48!!)

At mile 22, I heard my name and spotted some unexpected spectators!

My friends, Bekah and Matt, were there! Matt works for the Baltimore City Fire Department, and the course ran through his area! Bekah had been the sub in my classroom on Friday and had sent me a cute video of my students wishing me luck before the start! It was fun seeing them on the course, especially when I didn't expect it - and it was mile 22!

Sometime after this, I paused to stretch out my back (like I had done about 15 other times on the course), and when I looked up, the 5:00 pace group had passed me. I caught them and ran with them for a little bit, but ended up dropping back.
As I approached my favorite part of the course, the last mile and it's downhill, I could see Camden Yards and knew I was almost there! Coming down through Camden Yards, I heard lots of cheers and looked to my left to find my "friends"...
...yup...they were sitting at a bar having nachos and beer. Jerks. HAHA! I definitely made a gesture on my way past them that is not appropriate to include in the blog. They did manage to get a photo of me without the gesture though! 

I finished the race in 5:05:33 - 20 minutes slower than I had hoped for, but I had enjoyed the experience. Somewhere around the halfway point, I started to just really take in the experience. I knew since it was my first marathon, time shouldn't be a huge goal for me. I also didn't want to be completely miserable for the next 2+ hours. So, I stopped focusing on time and just focused on my walk/run intervals and spotting photographers!

After the race, I was a little emotionally wacky. I texted my friend Steph and told her she couldn't hug me and I wasn't coming into the bar and could someone just bring me a hotel key so I could go shower. I'm the type of person who often needs time to decompress and get myself together after stuff like this. So, dear Steph came out and I did a little crying (and did let her hug me). Eventually Mark came out too, he said he thought he'd give Steph a little time to calm me down first -- haha, smart guy!!

We took a few pics, and I decided I was ready to actually face people. Seriously, could I be any more high maintenance? HA!

The giant heads - this was hilarious!!!

Reggie's sign made me crack up!! The older guy in the pic is Hal Higdon, who is a well-known runner and race coach. We have a running joke that the more of Hal's books you buy, the faster you'll run. And we often say things like "What would Hal say?" or "What the Hal?" - so this was perfect!

On our way back to the hotel, we stopped for a pic with the flags! Pratt St. in Baltimore was lined with flags for the Ravens, Orioles, and Marathon!
After the race, we went back to the hotel with our friends Jesse and Abby. They came down to support us, and celebrate with us! We were all exhausted (them from chasing us around all day!), so we just showered and relaxed for awhile before heading out for some fun!

Sunday morning dawned clear and beautiful! We stretched our legs with walk down to the Harbor and treated ourselves to the reward meal I had been waiting for - Cheesecake Factory!!! A big, juicy, cheese covered burger with a side of sweet potato fries...and most importantly, a big piece of White Chocolate Raspeberry Truffle cheesecake!!

So, there it is. I ran a marathon.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Marathon Questions

It's official - I can now add "marathon" to my running resume!

I'll have a full race report tomorrow, but for now here are the answers to some of the most popular questions I've been asked lately!

1. How are your legs feeling?
They've been getting a little more stiff/sore as the day has gone on. We went out in Baltimore last night, and my legs were tired but not too tired for a little dancing! Today we walked around a little, and while I could definitely feel soreness in my legs, the real challenge came when I stepped off a curb -- stairs are not my friend! I'm hoping an Epsom salt bath and another good night of sleep will help me wake up feeling refreshed tomorrow!

2. Were the last 6.2 miles the worst?
For me, no. The middle 8 miles were the worst for me. At mile 21, I knew I had made it last mile 20, and with 5.2 to go, I didn't doubt that I would finish. Also, at this point we were on the half marathon course and I was remembering it from last year, which provided good distraction. 

3. Will you run a marathon again?
Yes. Absolutely. I'm not sure when, probably not next year but we'll see. During my first half, I remember thinking "I don't even want to finish this race let alone ever run a full!" Famous last words, right? I did think "I'm not doing this again" for a brief moment yesterday but I quickly laughed and realized I totally will do it again. I trained injury free, I didn't have any crazy pains during the race, and I think I'll recover well. So yes, another 26.2 will happen. 

4. How were the hills?
Baltimore is often called a "tough course" and is notoriously hilly. However, if you train in southern Pennsylvania, hills have a different meaning. The first 3 miles were all a gradual uphill, but there weren't any hills that made me cringe on the whole course. There were an equal amount of downhills and flats. I love this course! 

Check back tomorrow for the race recap!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Baltimore or Bust!

Hello from Charm City! We made it to Baltimore (ok, it's only an hour away), hit the expo, and met my friend Dawn and her husband for some carb loading in Little Italy. 

Mark and I both had some hiccups in our mornings. He dropped his house key on his 2 mile shake out run and ended up doing almost 4 miles since he had to retrace his steps! Thanks to the change from humid, wet weather to blue sky and sunshine, I woke up with an awful sinus headache. The weather changes like that are horrible for my head. I shuffled through my shake out miles and felt horrible. After a little vomiting (sorry for the TMI), I felt better though. I haven't had a puke worthy headache in a long time! It's now almost 9pm and I still have a headache, but it's tolerable. 

Hopefully a few hours of sleep will get rid of the last of the headache and I'll be race ready tomorrow. 

26.2 -- here I come!

Thursday, October 16, 2014


I had heard and read about the so-called "taper crazies" from a lot of sources. I knew to expect a crazy appetite, sluggish legs, moodiness, possible illness, and all forms of hypochondria. I did not expect the complete and total feeling of CRAZY that I've been experiencing this week!!!

I simply can not get it together. I feel like my mind is not just a hamster on a wheel, but that there are about 50 hamsters and they're all on their own wheels going at different paces in different directions. I have substitute plans to write for Friday (which, if you're a teacher, you know it takes longer to write 1 day of sub plans than it does sometimes to write an entire week of regular plans), laundry to do, meals to make, things to pack, lesson plans for next week to do, etc. My classroom feels disorganized. My house feels disorganized. MY LIFE FEELS DISORGANIZED.

I spent 2 hours in Starbucks yesterday writing lesson plans, and blogs, and grading papers. I do feel better. But the hamsters in my brain are still running. Can it please just be race time already???

(P.S. Forgive, in advance, my Friday and Saturday blogs - they will be coming to you via the Blogger iPhone app...because, in case you missed it, I'M RUNNING A MARATHON ON SATURDAY!)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I am going running.

I came across this image on Pinterest at least a year ago and it is something I find myself repeating often. "I am going running. {{insert excuses here}} I AM GOING RUNNING."

The fact is, if you're a runner or an athlete - or really anyone with a goal in mind, physical or not - you have to get rid of the excuses

There's another quote that says "If you wait for the perfect conditions, you'll never get anything done.". There are a lot of days when I don't feel like running. But...tired, busy, crummy weather, don't feel like it, blah, blah, blah...I AM GOING RUNNING. I actually say that sentence out loud to myself a lot. It doesn't allow for excuses. It's not "I am going running if __________." It's simply: I am going running.

I'm currently sitting in Starbucks typing this. It's gross and raining outside. I don't have a run scheduled today, but if I did -- I'd be doing it. Even in the rain and the gross. It's why I bought a rain jacket.

So, what's your goal? And what's the excuse you've been letting yourself use? We all have one. Go buy a rain jacket. Find a way to eliminate the excuse!


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Born for This

As I left my running group behind and started out alone on a second lap around our 10-mile course, a song played on my iPod that I had never run to before - Mandisa's "Born for This". Starting of with a simple, driving, haunting cello solo...leading into a strong, steady beat, the words were exactly what I needed. 

"Feels like I've been holding my breath, trying to still my restless heart. Everything hangs on my next step, finding my nerve, playing my part."

Yes, that is how I was feeling at that moment. I ran the first 10 miles with friends. We chatted and sang silly songs and laughed and griped together. But now, I was alone for the next 10. 

And while I will have other runners and spectators along the course, the reality is that I have 26.2 miles to run by myself. 

"Sometimes you've gotta stand apart from the crowd..."

By myself -- but not alone. 

"I'm standing on the top of the shoulders, calling the One delivering me."

I don't worry about the miles. I don't wonder if I can do it. It's not my race, anyway. It's His race, I'm just the feet pounding the pavement. 

"One step. One move. Born to trust You. Made to lay my life before You. Long before your heart could run the risk: you were born for this."

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sole Sisters

I almost forgot to post today -- which is ironic because I was just talking about this 31 Days thing with my pal and fellow blogger, Michelle today. 

My Monday topic for the #Write31Days challenge is people who motivate me. Well, I had the chance to run with 2 of them yesterday. 

Heidi and Steph are some of my "sole sisters". The 3 of us spent 3 miles enjoying a beautiful fall day and catching up on life. It is so, so good to have these people in my life. The friends you make through running are a different kind of close. When you spend upwards of 2 hours running side-by-side, you share a lot. I am blessed with many sole sisters (and brothers) to share the miles with!

Sunday, October 12, 2014


Some of my girlfriends and I are doing Beth Moore's Children of the Day Bible study. This morning as I was doing the homework,  the focus of the study was 1 Thessalonians 2:12 - "walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into His kingdom"

I love this quote from the study. Beth Moore, as always, is amazing with words!
"To walk before God is to travel down the highway with your spiritual sunroof wide open. Even when you're looking straight ahead, hands on the wheel, you know those rays are bathing you in warmth and that the wind is cleansing the air. If the clouds are thick and heavy overhead, you know what's above them. You relish hearing from God, talking to God, and also dwelling in contented, secure silence before God, confident that He never budges."

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Long Gone

I can't believe it's actually here but -- I'm finished with marathon training long runs! The last long run was 8 miles, which was actually the same distance as the first long run in training! Since we had an afternoon inservice at school and got out earlier than usual, I did my 8 miles Friday afternoon. It was drizzling and cool and the run felt sluggish, but it was absolutely fabulous to wake up this morning and not have to worry about a long run! I do love long runs, but after 4 straight months of weekend long runs, it's nice to spend this weekend not doing one. Tomorrow I even get to do 3 easy miles with 2 of my "sole sisters", Steph and Heidi. 

Mark and I celebrated the end of long runs with margaritas and Mexican food. Just 10 miles to run in the next week and then...the big day!! 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Faves - Get the Right Shoes!

All of this happiness arrived in my mailbox yesterday. Kara Goucher on the cover of Runner's World, new shirts and a pair of capris from Under Armour (check out their outlet/sale site online, great deals), and most importantly: NEW SHOES!

If you're a new runner, or thinking about becoming a runner, I can't stress enough how important getting the correct pair of shoes is. This doesn't mean buying the prettiest shoes you can find...though I do try to pick colors I love! 

Go to a local running store -- not a big box sports retailer. Local running specialty stores are typically staffed by runners, so they can give you authentic information. In the York area, my favorite is Flying Feet Sport Shoes on Mt. Rose Avenue. Greg Baum, the owner, is a runner and former teacher. (Teachers - you get a 10% discount at Flying Feet!) The people that work for him are runners and they are patient. They will watch you walk and/or run, bring out a whole bunch of shoes for you to try on, and then go through the testing process.

My first ever pair of "real" running shoes that Flying Feet recommended were the Mizuno Wave Rider. At that time, Mizuno was on the 15th version of this shoe. They were comfy, supportive, and came in pink - SOLD! 

Since then, I've tried the Brooks Ghost and the Brooks Pure Flow. I LOVED the Pure Flow 2 - in fact, there are 4 pairs in my house right now.

However, as marathon training ramped up, I knew I would need a shoe that offered a little more cushion and support. The Pure Flows are more minimalist. Luckily, around that time, Mizuno was featured on Zulily. So...I went back to my roots, and bought a pair of Wave Rider 17s for $67. (They retail for upwards of $120) I figured if I didn't love them for runs, I would wear them around for casual stuff. 

But I loved them.

My feet are in better shape now than they were during all of my half training last year. Callouses and blisters and partially missing toenails are GONE. I never thought I'd have better feet during marathon training than I did during half training. 

My feet are proof that the right shoes are KEY to running! 

This month, Mizuno debuted the 18th version of the Wave Rider. That means the 17s are on SALE. After some calls to local places, who didn't have them in stock, I ended up ordering online. I found the perfect pair of purple and pink shoes for $69 at Holabird Sports.
Aren't they pretty?

Even though I've only been running in the old ones for about 3 months, they're pretty beat up.

So, with some new shoes and some new clothes and plenty of training...I'm ALMOST ready to run a marathon!!