Twerk, Freckles, Twerk!

Happy Halloween!

Keep twerkin' strong!!!

Zero Week

I must say, a planned week from running is like no other!

When I have taken a "vacation" from running in the past, it was due to injury, surgery, sickness, etc. For this break, I am healthy and injury-free! I can take full advantage of this time to rest, relax, and get involved in other activities!

Like lounging in yoga pants and Snooki Slippers... 

On Monday, I spent the first half of the day in bed with my cat, Ginger. We caught up on Vampire Diaries, watched the Perks of Being a Wallflower, and surfed Pinterest for recipes and workouts.

So comfy!!!

I eventually got up to eat lunch and take Alpha for a walk on the trail. Just because I am not running, did not mean I can't enjoy the fall weather!

I am guilty of having a brief trot along the way, but my ankles said "HELL NO!" They were still sore from the marathon run. I took that as a hint to take this resting period very seriously.

On Tuesday I did next to nothing, other than going to work. I did not consider this a bad thing. Everyone is entitled to a second lazy day, right? I spent my time looking up amazing recipes from Skinny Taste, many of which I will make in the next week!

Today, I plan on not being as lazy and going grocery shopping. Though, this is hardly a chore for me. You guys should know by now how much I love buying and especially eating food. :o)

In other news, my fiance has been training for his first 5K!

I don't have a picture of him running, but this picture of him looking excited is just as good!

Just on Monday, Peter ran his first 2 mile distance without stopping. He was so proud of himself and I was thrilled for him...but also jealous because he is running in this lovely weather and I am not! He also did another 2 mile run the following day. His goal is to run 5 miles by the end of the year and I am sure he can do it!


Anyway, happy hump day guys! Hope you are enjoying your week of running!!!

What do you do during a "zero week?" Do you take part in other activities, or take advantage of the lazy time?

Do you spend countless time on Pinterest? What are your favorite things to pin?

Has your significant other decided to take up running since you seem to enjoy it? Did it make you the happiest person in the world?

The Dreaded Pooch Part 2

You may recall that I wrote an entry a few months back about our dear friend, "The Pooch." In most cases, poor diet and exercise is the number one cause of this lower belly bulge. But for those of you who frequently make an effort to eat right and workout several days a week, may still have that annoying sag in your stomach.

In some circumstances, a belly pooch may actually lie in your hips. As I explained in my previous post, tight hip muscles force them to tilt forward and also curves your spine inward, ultimately causing the stomach to push out.

But a bulge is the least of your problems. You may also experience back and hip pain from this poor posture.

I posted stretches that encouraged the hips to loosen, allowing them to tilt at the correct angle. This would not only eliminating an over-protruding bulge, but relieve any existing back and hip pain that may have been caused.

I had the hip tilt. And the bulge that came along with it.

So I decided to take advantage of the stretches mentioned and did them after each and every run.

Here are my results...

First, notice the curve in my back. In the first photo, my back is curves in from my tail bone, as it should, but instead of remaining relatively straight, starts curving back out. In the second picture, my back curves just at my tail bone, but remains relatively straight the whole way up.

Here is a photo that shows the curve in each photo. I overlapped the shape of the curve to show the difference.

Now, for the bulge. Though, one still does exist in the present photo, it is not as bad as it was in the first. It seems more in line with my body, just as my spine is. I can't complain at all with these results! And all I had to do was stretch!

To conclude, stretches tht loosen your hips are definitely something you should take advantage of if you have an exaggerated tilt. It may not rid you of the bulge, but it definitely reduces the look of a pudgy belly. Your back and hips will thank you!!

Find the exercises I posted here!

Did you happen to try any of these stretches? Did you notice any changes?

How I Ran a Marathon

I finally did it! I completed my ultimate goal for 2013! It's a long story, so hopefully you will stick around!

I awoke at 5:30am with what felt like a ton of bricks in my stomach. I was nervous within seconds of opening my eyes, but there was no turning back. I trained for months to get to where I was and throwing it away and going back to bed was NOT an option.
Peter drove me to the starting point in Clear Spring, MD, just at Dam #5. The sun was not up at this point, so I was not able to take a picture of the awesome view. So I will send you what it typically looks like when there's actual sunlight.

I was partially frozen, dealing with a chilly 35 most. I was thankful to have opted for gloves, but even still, my hands were ice, which made moving my fingers next to impossible. I tried to ignore it, knowing that once the sun was above the trees, they would warm up, but it was not easy. Fortunately, frozen hands were the biggest problem I had in the beginning.

My first stop was 7 miles in at Williamsport, MD's Cushwa Basin. This is typically where I began my 19-20 mile long runs. It is also my hometown. :o)

My icy fingers picked at my mixture of Nature Valley Granola Bars and Peanut M&Ms. Both which have never failed me on a run. I ate only a 3rd of what I had and did not linger for long. I resumed running within 5 minutes.

I stuck to a strict 12 minute pace, even when I felt like I could have sped up. I kept reminding myself that I have never run a full marathon and I had no idea what I would feel like at mile 20. I have hit the wall before and did not want to hit it again, even if that meant going at a dreadfully slow pace.

Anyway, I started feeling pain early. On top of having cold hands and toes, my ankles started to bother me around mile 12. I had a feeling that it was going to be an issue that would only increase along the way. But I tried to shrug it off. Every other part of my body felt fine and I was still feeling energetic. My ankles were not going to stop me now. Especially when I would be seeing my fiance and best friend in just 9 miles.

I took my next break at mile 14.

Lock 43 in Williamsport, MD, just after the Potomac Fish & Game Club

I finally had full use of my hands at this point. The sun warmed me up enough and eliminated at least one discomfort.

I took this break as a chance to stretch and eat another 3rd of my snacks. I also called Peter and texted Ashley to let them know that I was an hour away from where we were to meet up. My pace boosted briefly just so I could see them a little sooner.

When I did catch sight of them from a distance, I nearly cried out of happiness.

At McMahon's Mill, 19 miles in.

I ate my final serving of granola and M&Ms, gave Peter some items I no longer needed on my journey, and continued the last 7 miles with Ashley.

At this time, on top of the ankle pain that was becoming more noticeable with each step, my hips also began to cry out in pain. Thank God Ashley was there to help distract me. We had plenty to talk about. Though, there was a point around mile 23, where I asked to stop and stretch. I tried to work at my ankles a bit, get them loosened up, but my attempt proved worthless. They were still unhappy with me. So we popped a few Skittles to give us a boost (I also popped a couple of pain pills), admired the view, and continued forward.

Dam #4 in Sharpsburg, MD

I had about 3 miles left and all I could think about were my end rewards: Pizza, sleep, shots, and 26.2 car stickers. Ashley was also encouraging, letting me know how awesome I was doing. She was doing pretty awesome herself, running her longest distance to date, which was 7.5 miles.

Once I saw a break in the trees, just a mile away from finishing, I knew I was going to make it. I was even more thrilled when I saw my fiance and Ashley's husband, Ben waiting for us at the end.

Just minutes before completion.

I finished the run in ONLY 5 hours and 6 minutes. That's a Boston Marathon qualifying time, right?

It was definitely not a fabulous time, but my goal was just to finish. Simple. Also, I never hit the wall on this adventure, which was more than I could have asked for. I give most of the credit to Ashley on that one. Without her, I think my mind would have focused on the pain that I was experiencing, but she kept me on target and focused on the prize.

Stuffed crust pizza

Seasonal Jager shots

I truly could not have asked for a better outcome and look forward to my first official marathon in March! I know I can do it now! :o)

Now for my well-deserved zero week!!! No serious running until next Sunday! Woo! Have a great week guys!

Have you ever run a marathon unofficially?

How do you fight through pain on a long run?

Do you rely on the encouragement from friends to get through a difficult run?

What rewards do you give yourself for completing one of your goals?

Tell me about your first marathon!!!

I Finally Completed a 26.2

I ran 26.2 miles.

Details later!!!

Marathon Nerves!

I made it! I have reached my final week of tapering. That means my preparation for this Saturday's big marathon attempt (Round 2) has almost reached it's end. Minus the half marathon I rocked Sunday, I am running a whopping 7 miles this week. It is a nice break from running, but I can't help but think I am losing precious fitness with each day. I managed to perform well in my half marathon even with the reduced mileage, but 13.1 is a weekly long run distance for least. Not a marathon.

It probably goes without saying that I am really nervous. The thought of hitting that damn "wall" really scares me. The feeling was dreadful the first time. I have never felt so weak and defeated in my life (even if I just ran 23 miles). I do feel that I am better prepared this time. I had a tapering period, unlike before. I am bringing food and drinks my stomach has already tested on long runs. My running buddy, Ashley will be joining me for the final stretch. I also have a pace plan that is the definition of "slow and steady."

Additionally, this marathon attempt will be different because of the route I am taking. It is the exact same trail as before, only this time, I am going in the opposite direction, which is downstream. It never really dawned on me that going upstream meant I was at a constant incline the whole way. That may have been one of the many factors that prevented me from performing well back in March.

So even with all these changes to prevent any failure, why am I so shaken? I am the one who wants this, no one is making me do anything. I am confident that I can defeat this distance, I just wish I could leave this feeling of fear behind.

Anyway, I will leave you on a brighter note...err...picture. They finally posted the photos from Freedom's Run. I LOVE my pictures.

What are your thoughts on tapering? Do you feel like you lose fitness or do you think it helps?

How do you shake nerves for a distance run you have never tried before?

What are some of your marathon preparation tips?

Race Recap: Hershey Half Marathon

If Willy Wonka had a Half Marathon for his Chocolate Factory, this would be it!!

...with all condescending remarks aside, of course.

On Saturday afternoon, Peter and I drove an hour and a half to Hershey, PA. The Hershey Half Marathon was having an early bird packet pick up and I knew the goodies included were going to be awesome.

I absolutely LOVE the personalized bibs!

All great things for my marathon this Saturday!
Not only did they include free snacks, a free cookie coupon at the Hershey Chocolate Factory, and running supplements, but they also included two free tickets to Hershey Park in the Dark. During the month of October, Hershey Park re-opens their gates for a Halloween themed night, where children and adults can come decked out in their Halloween costumes and enjoy the many rides they have available.

Peter and I did not dress up, but we did take advantage of the free park passes. We rode a few roller coasters, the Farris Wheel, and also made a trip to ZooAmerica to see the animals.

However, the weather was a slight letdown. Because it rained for most of our day, we left after riding just a few rides. But Red Robin and drinks at the hotel totally made up for it. :)

The next morning, we had to leave pretty early to make it to Hershey Park before 7am. It was a freezing 41 degrees and I was dressed in only my Under Armour shorts & tee and my pair of orange Pro Compression socks (which I was complimented on during the race :o] ). I figured I would get pretty heated through out the 13.1 journey and wanted to be well prepared, even if it meant freezing my butt off just before the 7:30 start time.

I was right. As we circled around the parking lot and Giant Center for the first few miles, my frozen hands and feet finally began to warm up. Thankfully, it was right before entering the park because I wanted nothing more but to fully enjoy that experience.

Credit: Hershey Park's Facebook, I am the one in black giving the peace sign
I cannot describe the feeling I get when I come running through this section of the race. I felt the same way earlier this year when I participated in the Hershey 10k. It is an absolute rush! Some of the rides are running while you journey through. Last time, the Farris Wheel was going, as well as some of the coasters. This time, they had more of the carnival rides on display. I would have spent the entire 13.1 in there and ran laps if I could have.

The first half of the race flew by. Before you knew it, you were approaching the point where relay runners were switching off and you had the opportunity to smile for the camera.

Freckles for President!
I was right on pace for a PR too.

The course was hilly, but I think Freedom's Run's alternate route had more intensity. It made this course a piece of cake. It also helped having spectators at every turn, cheering you on. Some held their hands out to give high-fives and I took advantage of it every time. Their presence helped me speed up with every mile.

I managed to maintain a pace in the 8 minute range, but with much less ease once I reached mile 10. Lucky for me, Peter made a surprise appearance at mile 12. You can see the genuine excitement/surprise when I saw my fiance below.

It really helped me pick up speed and keep going strong.

During the last half mile, spectators were lined up on either side of you, roaring. There was so much energy, it was contagious. You could not help but pick up the pace. I took that energy and sprinted to the finish line within Hershey Park's stadium.

Gotta love the look of exhaustion!
My finish time was 1:53:16, more than a minute better than what I got in the Mad Anthony Half! A PR!

I was tickled and the medal I received only added to the happiness! How many people get Twizzlers on their finisher's medal?

Overall, I finished in 837th place out of 4755 participants. I was 124th out of 925 runners aged 25-34. Out of the 2483 females, I placed 294.

I give this race an 11! I was so satisfied with how they treat you here! Free park admission for 2, free snacks, awesome race swag, and a course that leaves you begging for more! I only wish that I could do it next year (wedding kinda takes importance over this in 2014). I recommend all runners to participate in either the 10k or the Half next year. It will be well-worth it!

What is your favorite race to run in?

Did any of you participate in the Hershey Half, or have you done so in the past?

What is the best medal you have ever received?

Once the Candy High Has Worn Off...

After playing in Hershey Park....

...drinking some alcoholic beverages in a pre-race celebration....

 ...and running a half marathon while high-fiving numerous Hershey candy mascots....

 I am down-right EXHAUSTED!!!

I had an amazing weekend in the town of Hershey, PA. And can't wait to tell you all!

Stay tuned! Update tomorrow!

Race Recap: Freedom's Run

Phew, I must admit, I am all race-ed out. Yesterday, I finished my 10th race and 3rd half marathon this year. Though I am ready to finish up each race I signed up for in 2013, believe me when I say that I am incredibly thankful I have participated in this many! Only two more to go!!!

Yesterday, I ran in Freedom's Run, a Runner's World Top 25 Race in 2013.

The race is to follow a course that takes you through the history of not only our area, but our entire country.

First, it guides you through the C&O Canal, where George Washington founded the Potowmack Company. The company's purpose was to make navigational improvements to the Potomac River, allowing boats to travel easily to Georgetown. They made canals alongside the river to allow  transportation of goods.

The ditch parallel to this trail at Taylor's Landing was a canal.
Once runner's made it through the canal section of the course, they departed to Antietam Battlefield, where in 1862, 23,000 Americans were either wounded or lost their lives. This was considered one of the bloodiest days in American History, hence why they call part of the Battlefield "Bloody Lane."

View from the Watch Tower at Antietam Battlefield
The course is truly one of a kind and absolutely stunning, which is why I make an effort to run on the canal as much as possible. However, due to the Government Shutdown, the C&O Canal and the Antietam Battlefield became inaccessible, which resulted in a complete revamp of the race course.

The race course now took place on West Virginia's River Road, which still followed alongside the Potomac River, but on the opposite side of the canal itself.

Credit: Freedom's Run Facebook
It was an out and back course that was shared with every runner participating in a race that day, whether it the was marathon, half, 10k or 5k. Marathoners were required to run the 13.1 mile loop twice, while the half marathoners ran it once, and the 10k and 5kers ran just a portion of it.

The half marathoners, started their race just an hour after the marathon race began. However, not 5-10 minutes into the start, the lead marathoner, Michael Wardian, was finishing the first 13.1 mile loop. I was absolutely impressed by this man, running effortlessly towards our pack, and just minutes later, passing by us all. I only just began and Michael was speeding past me like he had just started himself. He ended up finishing in first with a time of 2 hours and 33 minutes. For those of you who do not know who Michael Wardian is, read this article that Runner's World wrote on him.

The course was beautiful, but very challenging. I am no stranger to hills, but THESE hills were a different story for me. First, I had more of a pleasure of the downhills that were so steep, you could do nothing but pick up amazing speed, running as fast as Michael Wardian would have been if he were on flat land. But that hill was waiting for you when you came back and had to run up it. One increased by over 100 ft in a quarter of a mile.

Credit: Freedom's Run Facebook.
This was the hill that nearly killed me in the end. The picture
does NOT do it justice.

Though, once you made it over that monstrous hill coming back, you had a mile to go till you hit the finish.

You filtered in to Ram's Stadium in Shepherdstown, WV, where you crossed the finish on the 50 yard line. I finished in 1:59:33. I finished 200th overall, and 16th out of 72 females in my age group

It was my goal to finish in under 2 hours, but not to PR since I have the Hershey Half next week. I am also tapering for my marathon the following week.

Anyway, I give this race a 10. Though it was not the actual course, I give those who put this race together HUGE kudos for keeping it going regardless of the shutdown. It was also a great challenge for me. Not only were the hills an absolute bitch, but this is the first race I chose to compete in without my iPod. It was liberating. I may continue doing my races sans iPod. It was not bad at all!

Did you have a race this weekend? Which one did you compete in and how did you do?

Do you race with or without music?

If the course changed last minute in a race, would you compete or chose to defer?

The Marathon Decision...

I decided not to jump the gun and do the marathon this weekend. It would have been extremely silly of me. Especially when I have a half marathon in Hershey Park the following weekend.

I am glad I received  great advice and information from runners on a Facebook group I am apart of. They are seasoned runners and have done a few marathons in their time. A lot of what they told me was stuff I already knew, but overlooked because I am so determined to get to that glorious number of 26.2.

 Some think I am a little nuts to be running the majority of it alone and unofficially. I even think I am nuts. But it is more than just having my name on a list, or a medal to my name. I want to be able to say "I did it."  I think the power in those words are more important than what any award or finisher's medal could give me. It is about ceasing the moment. I could wait until March to do the Rock N Roll marathon and call that my first. However, if something were to come up and I would be forced to miss it, I would be devastated. Injuries happen, life happens. 

Running a marathon has been a long term goal and I am ready for this. I want it more than anything. I have been working towards this since I started running a year and a half ago. I sat around for the first 16 years of my life and I want to turn that around and show everyone that I am not that girl anymore. But most of all, I want to prove to myself that I am stronger than what I ever thought possible. I can physically and mentally complete such a demanding distance. 

 So going forward, I have decided to start tapering  to get myself ready for my original attempt date of the 26th. I think going this route will ultimately be the best decision for me. 

Have you ever talked yourself out of doing a marathon to better prepare yourself?

What is your ultimate running goal?

 Would you ever run a marathon alone?

Am I Ready to Run a Marathon?

I have a serious decision to make and fast!

Today on my lunch break, I told myself, "If you run a mile in under 7 minutes, consider running the marathon this weekend?" I don't know why that was something I chose as a reason for debate, BUT I did it anyway.

I got my new Pro Compression socks!!! LOVE THEM!!
After my lungs stopped bleeding and I wondered if I should ever run again, I was still faced with the choice: Run the Half Marathon as I had planned, or switch to the Full Marathon at no additional cost?

I was sent an email from the race event coordinator that said because of the race course having to be adjusted due to the National Parks being closed, they would allow for runners to defer their entries to next year or switch around to the other races (5k, 10k, half, full) at no cost. That's a deal if you ask me!

Because I just finished a 20 miler this past Saturday and did wonderfully, I thought it was worth considering! I am not saying that I would have skipped my way through 6.2 more miles that day, but I did really well! I was below my target pace and only had to stop once to stretch out my hips. Also, it was HOT that day and I still rocked it! 

Look at the sweat at the bottom of my braid!!!
From what I understand, the rule of thumb is if you can do 20 miles, you can do a marathon. Now, I was able to prove this theory wrong in March. I think it was because I never knew what hitting "the wall" felt like. I was also very unprepared. I brought fuel that I never ate and a Camelbak that was just too heavy for me. Also, I did not have a watch to keep a consistent pace.

Marathon Attempt in March

Anyway, since I am on the fence, I have decided, I will pretend I am doing the marathon this weekend. I will cut most of my remaining mileage for the week and do my carb loading tomorrow. I need to have my mind made up by Friday since that is the last day to make a decision. If I am still contemplating by then, I can assume that it is not my time.

Yet, the more I think about it, the more I want to try it out. Oh, this is going to bug me for the next 48 hours!!!

What would you do? Run the marathon or stick to the half?
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