Vacation & Spartan Race Code!

Sorry guys! I have been busy like usual!!

Well...busy in the sense that I have been enjoying my 11 day vacation, which I am now on day 4!!

Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed your Memorial Day. To celebrate, I wanted to give you all a post-holiday treat! Spartan Race is offering up to $40 off your registration until Friday, May 29th (ignore the date on the ad)! Just use the code MEMORIAL when you sign up! Hurry! The offer ends soon!!!

If you live under a rock and have never heard of a Spartan Race, know that they are not just for runners. These races will test every part of your physical and mental strength. They have you trekking through mud, crawling under barbed wire, running through fire, and then some!

I have not personally participated myself, but I have decided to take the plunge.  I will become a Spartan this August in Washington DC. I am excited to review this for you guys from a participants POV!

Anyway, I haven't run very much as this is the last week of my taper. I have skipped one run, but have one left to go. I have decided to save that one for tomorrow (my birthday!). Then, on Thursday, I will FINALLY be on my flight to California! I have been waiting for this day since I got home from Disney World in January.

I'll keep you guys posted on the fun!!!

PS. Check out my shirts just for gingers! I have added more and they now include men's as well as bikers and swimmers!!


I just don't feel like it...

So I skipped a run and to be honest, I have wanted to skip more. I am at a point where I can say out loud "I don't feel like running." I have been a slave to training since January. I have not taken any sort of break for several months and at this point, I think my body is putting on the breaks.

So far this year, I have competed in 3 half marathons, a full marathon, and a relay. This was on top of my already busy schedule: a college class, a full-time job, making/selling wreaths on the side, and personal issues that arose in our family. Now, here I am just about 2 weeks away from a 5K and a marathon. 

Tonight, my schedule called for a 3 miler, but I could not help but dread 3 miles. I can get that done in less than 30 minutes and I could even do it on the treadmill where I can watch TV and eat donuts, but I I still didn't feel like running. I did go out there and do the 3 miler and am glad I did, but I hate that it hasn't been amazing like I remember it was.

Like I said in my last post, I haven't had a good run in a long time. I mean, why would you keep doing something if it didn't feel good? Running is something that is supposed to be fun and freeing for me, not something that resembles a part-time job. Nobody ever wants to come home from work to do more work. 

The last thing I want to do is ruin my marathon training. I really want to have a good experience, but I fear that I will feel like I'm running through waist-deep mud since that's how running feels recently. 

I have already promised myself one thing though...I will not run for AT LEAST a week after the marathon. In fact, I have given myself the option to extend it. Sure, a second week would start eating into my JFK training, but then again, I would rather take the hit in the beginning than feel drained halfway through training for my first ultra. 

Anyway, I hope your running is going a lot better than mine! Any suggestions would be much appreciated!!!

No Drive, Weight Gain, Fat Loss...Overtraining?

This year has been a difficult one when it has come to running. I have fallen into the dreaded "runner's rut." Every run is like running through tar.  I am wondering if those good runs I used to have were a myth. Did I repress all the bad runs and replace them with fake good running memories?

I try to go out on my runs with the mentality that it is going to be better than the last, but it never is. In fact, from the moment I take my first step, I feel exhausted. My breathing is all over the place and my pace is slowing. It's a almost rare that I am in the 8 minute range like I used to be. 

Yesterday, I ran 12 miles and tried to avoid looking at my watch. I wanted my pace to only be as fast or slow as my body wanted to go.

I did walk one hill, but that's because it is a gain of nearly 100 feet in less than a quarter of a mile.

I finished the run at a 9:45 pace average, which was okay, I guess. Still, it was a struggle and I just wanted it to be over.

Overtraining has crossed my mind a few times, but I usually scoff at the thought because I am running 4 days a week and about 35-40 miles a week. I used to do 5 days and run 40 miles or over. So it has been hard for me to believe that it is overtraining. Then again, there are obvious symptoms of it here.

I have also magically gained weight. I have blamed it on everything: Eating too much or not training enough. But today, I tested out my body fat percentage and discovered I am straddling the percentage for a female athlete and what is considered just essential fat. What the hell?! I have NEVER been that low. I mean, I have noticed that my belly is beginning to flatten out and I see the outline of my abs again (I thought they disappeared), but again, my weight is up, my energy is down, and I am losing fat. Something is not right!

Could it be that I am overtraining?

A New Journey...

Have you ever been in a position where you felt as though you have lost all control of your life? This goes beyond health or fitness. This lack of control encompasses every puzzle piece of your life: Your family, your career, your health, your happiness...

It began earlier this year, but only after a domino affect of events that were set prior. It really tested me mentally. I felt like I was laying on the ground with concrete blocks being stacked on my chest. With every new stress that occurred, a new block was added. It got to a point where I felt like I could not breathe. It affected me so negatively, that I could do nothing but cry or scream.

My running was even on the decline and when something messes with my running, I get ticked! So with every bad thing that has happened in the past 5+ months, I have decided that I owe myself. I need to take a chance and do something that I love: Becoming a Personal Trainer. I have played with the thought for a year or so, never quite taking the idea seriously. I thought about taking the class at my local community college and online, but just never wanted to commit. I mean, I was comfortable with my job, so why pay the several hundred dollars to become a certified fitness trainer.

I did go back to school and tried to complete my degree in Health, Physical, and Leisure Studies, but it was extremely difficult to struggle taking classes while being employed full-time. At the rate I was going, I wasn't going to have my Associate's Degree until 2017. I still have every intention on getting a degree, but becoming certified seems to be a stepping stone to getting the career I want/need. I have become so comfortable at the job I presently hold. I have done quite well at it and the pay isn't too shabby either. But is it my dream career?

One day, I would hope to have my own business. One which I can designate my own hours while doing something I love. With the Personal Training certification, I can. With ISSA, they even offer CECs in Marathon Training. Why would I not want to take a class like that?

Today, I signed up to get my CPR and AED certification and also signed up with ISSA to receive my Personal Trainer certification. I am hoping that no later than August, I will have completed both with flying colors. Then, I can set my sights on building my own business and obtaining a career more in line with my interests. I later hope to follow both of these with additional certs to not only help others, but help myself!

Anyway, that is my stance right now! The studying shall commence and a new journey will unfold!

The Final 20 and an 8 Miler

As of yesterday, the hardest part of marathon training was complete. It was my final 20 miler before the big day on May 31st. Though I have done a few 20 milers prior to yesterday's, I think this one was the most difficult. It was the first which was above 70 degrees. And phew...was it humid.

I tried to begin as early as my body would let me, minutes before 7 am. I knew it was going to be uncomfortable and I knew that the sweat would pour, but I tried to remain optimistic. It was the final long run.

I brought my Camelbak and I am so thankful that they exist. I am not a fan of the sloshy noises that it makes, but my iPod was cranked enough to tune it out. Besides, I think that a Camelbak is so much better than holding a water bottle for 3+ hours.

Anyway, I started my journey just out my front door. I wanted to get SOME hills in, but my legs were tired and I didn't want to over exhaust myself. So after about 4 miles on the road, I headed towards the C&O which was HUMID. AS. HELL! I was soaked within miles of off-roading.

But it at least it was pretty out!

At mile 8, I took my first break to eat and redo my hair.  My braid was already a tangled mess and unmanageable from the sweat seeping through it.

I went into a coughing fit just after mile 11. I don't remember if I swallowed a gnat or if my throat just got a random tickle, but  my throat began to swell. It worried me because breathing became super difficult. I didn't stop running because I just assumed that it would go away. It did, but the fact that I ran through that really took a lot of my energy. I had to stop just after hitting the 2 hour mark.

The humidity was unbearable and I wondered if my sunscreen prevented my pores from being able to breathe. I had a hard time trying to convince myself to run another 1+ hour of this discomfort. I wanted to give up, but I just kept reminding myself that this was the last difficult run before the marathon. I was going to be on taper vacation after suffering this. I HAD to get through it!

I stopped again at mile 15 to finish the food I packed. I wasn't hungry, but I thought that it may give me what energy I needed to make it.

Obviously, I was over it at this point. But I told myself that as long as I ran the remaining 5 miles, I  could take as many breaks as I wanted. 

Eventually, I made it to the sweet number of 20.

Not my best time, but I'll take it!

I had about a mile to walk before I made it to where Peter was parked. It was a nice way of keeping my legs moving so they didn't immediately stiffen up. I also got to meet a few geese.

I kept on my feet for the remainder of the day by cleaning and grocery shopping. I knew that the second I stopped, I would stiffen up, so I was glad I had the strength to continue moving. I slept like a log that night though!

This morning, I did another 8 miles. The weather didn't get any better, but I was just happy that it was ONLY 8 miles. I ran from my house to the Antietam Battlefield for the views.

Though it was hot, I think I am adjusting better than expected. My pace has slowed a good bit, but I figured that would happen.

Anyway, my longest run this week is 12 miles and I hope to get some bike rides in as good cross-training as my tapering begins. I am looking forward to some reduced mileage for once! I have been non-stop for about 6 months now! 

As the temps go up, have you noticed any differences with your training?

Do you think taking breaks during a long run is cheating?

Weights and Wine

Real quick! If you guys could do me a HUGE favor! I am registered for the Runner's World Cover Contest and am hoping to get your vote! You can vote for me here! Share with your friends!!! Thank yoooou!

So I have decided to invent Weights and Wine Wednesdays. I am sure it will take off just like Mancrush Mondays and Throwback Thursdays. ;-)

Just drink responsibly when you are using weights! No one needs to lose a foot over my new weekly holiday.

Speaking of weights, however, I have been getting back in to it after a several month hiatus. After the wedding, I had zero desire to strength train. I was just too busy! But it wasn't until I stopped that I truly noticed the benefits of maintaining a regular strength training workout.

Running can only do so much to keep you in shape. Building up your muscles definitely has it's many advantages.,,

  1. You burn more calories. For every pound of muscle that you gain, your body typically uses about 4 - 7 calories ( This will definitely help shed those extra pounds you put on during the winter/holiday season.
  2. It prevents running injuries. The more you strengthen your injury-prone areas, the less likely those areas will be subject to future injuries. For example, squats can help reduce many lower leg injuries. 
  3. Improved running form. Strengthening your core through weight training will help you be able to hold your form for longer periods of time.
  4. You'll run faster. With an improved running form, you will be able to slash seconds or even minutes off your pace.
  5. Increased endurance. You will be able to perform stronger for longer. Great for that half or full marathon you have been training for!

I only do strength training 2-3 times/week. I do legs one day, arms another, and abs if I have the time.

I have also thrown in a plank challenge that I do. I do two days of planks, one day off, then resume.

I have been on a roll for about 3 weeks now and feel so much better! Before I took back on the weights, I started feeling puffy and I felt like my running was taking a toll. Now, I feel like I am getting out of my rut and my fit body is coming back! Just in time for the summer!

Do you strength train? What are your must-do exercises?

Gingers were not made for hot weather

I tend to complain about the heat every year, but seriously. Why is it already in the 80s? Back in my day, we used to have Spring. Now, it seems as though we go from Winter to Summer within a week's time. I think I need to move to an area which does have 50-70 degree weather all year around because I am very heat-intolerant. It's a ginger thing...

But I think having humidity on top of the heat is the ultimate culprit. On Monday, I went on my first 80 degree run this year and about died. I had to stop at mile 3, catch my breath and push through the remaining 2 miles gasping for air. 

Yet, there are ways to survive the heat waves. I have been running through it for 3 years now. How I have  lived, I am not entirely certain, maybe it was these tips below that pushed me through the discomfort...

  1. Wear as little as possible. I tend to lose the shirt and run in shorts and my sports bra. I'm not trying to show off skin, I am strictly running for comfort. For those that would prefer not to run shirtless, there are plenty of light-weight, breathable shirts. I love this one from Under Armour.
  2. Drink plenty before, during, and after your run. Hydration can make a huge difference to a hot weather run. I would recommend a drink with electrolytes to replenish what you are sweating out. Try sipping every at least every 20 minutes on your run.
  3. Run slow. Your heart rate is increased when the temps are elevated. Runner's World says that after 60 degrees, for every 5 degrees, your pace can slow by 20-30 seconds per mile! So just because the watch says your slower than usual, doesn't mean your not getting an awesome workout! Listen to your body, not your watch.
  4. Run early or late in the day. Doing this would allow you to avoid getting hit with the highest temperatures of the day. If you can manage, try even running at night.
  5. Find shaded areas and avoid roads. The roads soak in the sun and you will feel that heat on your feet. Try trail running or find a shady area to get your miles in. I like to hit up the C&O Canal to stay out of the sun. 
Also, remember that it takes 14 days to acclimate yourself to the new temps. Although it may seem grueling for the first few times you run in the heat of the year, it will get easier!

Don't forget to acknowledge dew points instead of the temps. Here's a good chart to reference to see how your run could be effected depending on the due point.

And let me know if you have your own ways of battling the heat! I would love any additional tips to survive the next few months! :o)

By the way, I am selling the "Gingers earn a freckle for every mile they run" shirt! So for those proud ginger runners out there who want their own, you can get them here (men's wear coming soon)!!!

How do you survive the summer months? Especially in those high humidity zones?

Race Recap: The American Odyssey Relay, Part 2

...continued from Part 1.

When we woke up that morning, we had just enough time to grab breakfast at the hotel. I ate light since my stomach was in knots the night before. I had two scrambled eggs, a bite of sausage and a cup of coffee that I could not finish. 

The ride to Poolesville was beautiful. We were able to watch the sunrise as we drove. It was a great way to start the day.

Thanks for the photo, Bobb!

When we made it to the transition point, we were waiting for Michael to hand off to Tracy. While we waited, we meet up with the others in Van 1, who had enough time to shower and relax after their final legs were complete. I was a bit envious since I had not showed since the start, but there didn't seem to be a point since I had another run left.

We watched Michael finish up his last leg and hand off to Tracy, then were immediately off to my transition, which was on the C&O Canal. By now, faithful readers, you should know that this would have excited me. C&O Canal <3!!!

While we waited at the transition for Tracy, we were able to meet some 2 week old puppies! Such cute little babies!

It helped take some of the pre-race butterflies away, but I felt pretty okay. I was just amped to see this side of the C&O. So when Tracy came down the road, I was ready.

...or so I thought.

I made my way down River Road. It was a surprisingly long stretch until I actually made it to the canal. On the way, I actually saw a deer that did not seem the least bit surprised I was there. I was able to run so close to it and she just looked at me like "Oh, another runner?"

When I hit the canal, I could immediately feel the humidity. It felt like a greenhouse. I was able to maintain an 8:45 pace for some time, but then the heat just started to get to me. That and my legs just felt dead. This is why you do not run after 2 hours of sleep.

I began to slow down because I knew I was not going to be able to maintain and 8:45 pace for nearly 5 miles. At one point, I did stop to catch my breath...and take a few pictures. 


I did not linger though because I had a team depending on me. I tried to pick up the pace again as it had fallen to over 10 minutes/mile. When I got to the end I was in the high 8s/low 9s and averaged around 9:15/mile for the entire leg. I was so thankful when I saw Chris.

I only wish I had worn less. I did not anticipate for it to be so warm. Still, I was done. No more running for me!

As the day progressed, we were quickly making it over to DC. The remaining legs were primarily on the C&O canal and it was so scenic!!!

The last leg, run by Megan and Jason, led our team into DC. While they pumped out their 6 miles, we rode to the finish to meet them. The finish was at the Waterfront Wharf. Lovely view.

When we caught site of our team members running through DC, we ran to the finish line with them to celebrate our completion! 

It was an awesome feeling to have completed 200 miles as a team, traveling from Gettysburg to DC in an official time of 26:37:21. Overall, we finished 13th out of 115 teams. In our division, we finished 2nd out of 51. Not too shabby, if you ask me!

So to sum it all up, I rank the Odyssey as a 9! Being my first relay race, I may be a bit prejudice, but it was an amazing experience and I would recommend that all runners compete in something similar. I was able to work with fellow runners as opposed to compete against them. I was able to spend time with friends, but also make new ones! I didn't know more than half of the team prior to this experience, but I am glad that I met them and that it included the people it had. I have every intention on doing this again if I am invited back because it will never be the same race twice. Different legs, maybe different team members, etc. 

Anyway, if you ran the Odyssey and want to share your experience, comment below! I would love to hear about your legs and which team you were on! Also, if you were apart of either of these teams that tagged my car, I'll be back for you ;-)

Professional Blog Designs by pipdig