Picking a Plan

One thing I’ve been struggling with over the past few months of training is the feeling that I’m not doing enough, not training the right way, and not following any type of direction. As much as the stress of following a detailed training plan with exact paces and strict workouts sometimes gets to me, I also get stressed out when I follow a plan that has very little structure at all (i.e., it just lists the mileage for each day). I’m not a running coach, and I don’t know what paces I should be running, in case you hadn’t noticed. So what’s a girl to do?

I thought about the things that have been bothering me about running since I started back up:

  1. Feeling like I’m not making progress
  2. Lack of direction in my workouts
  3. Not motivated to follow through on long runs since they’re random and unplanned (and early in the morning, letsbehonest)
  4. Mentally intimidated by running long distances

Since I can only run 3 days per week now, I thought a training plan would be out the window. I figured I would have to modify any plan that I did find and then pick and choose which workouts to do, which left me worried about being prepared for the long runs. Fortunately, a little research yielded me the Run Less, Run Faster plan developed at Furman University. Designed for people who are easily injured or don’t have time to train most days of the week, the plan uses 3 high quality workouts (speed, tempo, and long run) per week to get you to your goal time.

When I looked at the plan and thought about the issues I’ve been having, it seemed like a good fit:

  • It encourages cross training, which is important to me. I’m currently obsessing dramatically over doing barre classes, cycling, and strength workouts in addition to running.
  • Starting the plan in October, my goal race would be in February – perfect time of year for training for me.
  • The paces are very specific for each workout, and each one is planned.
  • I’d be going back to shorter distances for awhile to build my confidence.

The next question was how to choose a goal time? The paces are based on a 10k race time. The last time I was following a training plan, I was training to break 4 hours in the marathon. I had huge PRs at every distance, but my body certainly is not at that point right now, so it didn’t seem to make sense to shoot for that kind of goal.

I eventually decided to make my goal a 4:10 marathon. That is about 4.5 minutes below my current PR and is an average pace per mile of 9:34. Challenging? For me, yes, but not unreasonable. I’m targeting the Myrtle Beach Marathon on February 14th as my goal race, which has the added bonus of being my dear friend Murray’s 100th marathon!


Gonna do this dance across the Myrtle Beach finish line at 4:09:59, BOOM

I’m a week and a half into the plan, and so far, I’m a fan! The workouts build over time, so the speed workouts thus far have been challenging without being too intimidating to look at on my paper (sadly, a big issue for me). My goal each week is to get through all of my workouts, including the long run. Some days I may run longer than my prescribed long run mileage, but my primary concern is getting the miles on my plan in at the pace that is recommended. Anything after that is a bonus.

I don’t know how this plan will go, but I’m feeling enthusiastic and ready to try. I’m very concerned about injury and burnout, so if it gets to be too much, I will take the workouts down to 2 quality runs and 1 easy run per week. That’s still 1 more than I was doing before!

I guess I’m realizing that I don’t want to stress out about running and my workouts anymore. If I don’t want to do something because I don’t enjoy it or don’t like what it is doing to my body, I shouldn’t do it. There’s no reason for it. The whole point of exercise in the first place is supposed to be wellness for your mind, body, and spirit, so it seems to me that when I get away from that goal, it defeats the purpose. Right now, I’m excited about my new plan and looking forward to see where it takes me!

LEAVE A COMMENT: Do you use a training plan? Which one? Do you get overwhelmed by training plans?

A Good Omen – Prairie Fire Marathon Race Report

I’m the worst!! So sorry for leaving you all hanging after my marathon weekend, but grad school has owned my soul even more than usual lately. But now, I’m back with the race report you’ve all hypothetically been waiting for and/or forgotten about.

As you all know, I was feeling a bit uncertain the week before the race but was determined to turn my attitude around. I spent the week before the race doing exactly what I said I was going to – repeating the same mantras over and over to myself, visualizing myself crossing the finish line, all that jazz. When the time came to actually head to the race, I felt relatively ok about it. At that point, I had done all I could do and what would be would be. The race was in Wichita, KS, which is actually where my grandparents live. Unfortunately, since I was only there for about 18 hours, I was unable to see them but hoping that being in their city would send me good vibes! As luck would have it, Patty and I had lucked into a room in the host hotel when one of the friends we were traveling with decided to stay somewhere else. We were literally 100 yards from the start and finish line! Good Omen #1.

We headed to the expo to pick up our bibs and I decided to buy a marathon sticker for my car. When I got my Jeep back in August, I refused to put a 26.2 sticker on it because I really wasn’t sure whether I would ever run another marathon. At the expo, I decided to make the leap and grab one, figuring I had to finish now!


Patty and I at the expo! Follow me on instagram at @thetrexrunner

We headed out for dinner to a wine bar, which was really entertaining for all of us and probably really horrific for the waiter. I know nothing about wine so I really had to resist the urge to ask him to give me the one that tasted the most like Franzia – instead I just pointed at one on the menu that I couldn’t pronounce. It definitely wasn’t your standard Italian restaurant, and we all had picky runner’s stomachs, so we created quite a few custom orders. For once, I had the forethought to bring my own gluten-free pasta just in case they didn’t have any, and it paid off! The waiter generously agreed to cook mine for me with no fuss. Good Omen #2! Even better? They had a gluten-free chocolate torte on the menu that was to die for. This never happens. Good Omen #3!

Patty and I headed back to the hotel early and talked for a bit before heading to sleep. It was SO great to see her – I really miss Tulsa and living with her and Steve, so it was nice to be reunited, even if not for very long! For once, I slept like a rock before the race. Good Omen #4. Do you see where this is going?


Me with all the Tulsa Domz before the race start! It was cold!

The race started at 7:30 in perfect temperatures – mid 40s. We had to check out of our hotel at 1, which meant we technically had 5.5 hours to finish, but about 5 hours if we wanted to shower before heading to the airport! I felt calm as we crossed the start line. Patty and I had said over and over that our only goals were to finish and enjoy the day, and I crossed the start line truly feeling that way. We planned to walk for short periods at each mile marker, but we didn’t set specific intervals, deciding instead to go based on how we felt.

The early part of the race wound through downtown Wichita, which was surprisingly cute and full of spectators! I’m always shocked when people show up to cheer for pretty much any race besides the big ones like Chicago, New York, etc. For some reason, I just don’t expect it. There were lots of fun signs and enthusiastic volunteers and a really great atmosphere!


Crossing the bridge into downtown Wichita

Patty and I high-fived at every mile marker, which was a fun new tradition that I really enjoyed. My mindset the entire time was “take one mile at a time.” I was determined not to think about how far I had left to go, even though that normally doesn’t bother me all that much. We took fuel (Chomps for me, gel for her) every 5 miles, which also helped to pass the time. The course was promised to be pancake flat, and while that’s mostly true, we did groan on the 4 very small hills just because.


Looking a little psychotic, but that’s a marathon for you!


We began to move through the neighborhoods of Wichita, which really surprised me by how beautiful and shaded they were. Some of the houses were absolutely gigantic! And of course, there were plenty more spectators, including lots of adorable kids. We also saw a lady with a huge yellow banner that said “GO TOM!” Every time we passed her, we asked how Tom was doing. I became extremely obsessed with Tom’s progress. She was everywhere on the course, so it was easy to check in.


Made it to double digits!

Surprisingly, we didn’t take too many pictures. We were running at a steady pace and took short walk breaks at each mile marker and then longer walk breaks at the water stations. I decided that we were the “Positivity Police” and we were both responsible for making sure that neither one of us said anything negative. Realistic things were ok, such as “This is a hill.” Negative things like “I hate hills!” were not ok. I was obviously outside of my comfort zone. We ran through one particularly interesting neighborhood around miles 10-12 that was absolutely FULL of Halloween decorations. I’ve seriously never seen Halloween decorations on this level. It seemed like every yard was filled to the brim with decorations, especially giant inflatable things. It was bizarre but also very nice because it gave me something to look at.


I mean, this is serious Halloween dedication.

At this point, I was feeling pretty great. Each milestone was being celebrated and I was feeling confident that I would finish, although I still didn’t know what time that would look like. We crossed the halfway point in right around 2:22, which I was very happy with. I became focused on getting to mile 16, because after that, every step would be a new one for me since surgery. The farthest I ran in training was 16 miles, and it was absolutely suck-tastic (I walked most of the last 4), so it was a symbolic state for me. I knew if I could get to that point and feel good, it would be a great sign and give me a lot of confidence. And we crossed mile 16 feeling great!

At 16.5, things were suddenly not so great. My heart condition started flaring up and all of a sudden, I couldn’t get my heart rate down – it was over 200 even though our pace hadn’t changed. I couldn’t breathe, and it felt like my throat was closing. I had to sit down for a few minutes while I waited for my heart rate to come down, and then we walked for awhile. I tried so hard not to let myself feel defeated. I told Patty the situation and she reminded me that our only goals were to finish and have fun, both of which we were doing. I thought about it and reasoned that my back and legs were still feeling ok at that point, and not all was lost. I just needed to do whatever it took to keep my heart under control.


No idea where on the course this was taken, but I’m pretty sure it was not at mile 16.5.

I was able to start running again and we kept a steady pace pretty similar to where we were before. We ran for a bit and then walked, but my heart flared up again at mile 18.5. At that point, we walked for almost an entire mile. I was becoming a bit discouraged but still knew I would finish. I changed my attitude from “positive” to “realistic.” No, the situation was not ideal, but my back felt ok and I was doing the best I could. I was enjoying a beautiful day (temps were still in the mid 50s and it was cloudy – Good Omen #5!) with one of my closest friends. Things were not so bad. Of course, the fact that I only ran 16 miles on training eventually took its toll. The last few miles were a struggle, and I just couldn’t move my legs nearly as fast as I would have liked. We still didn’t walk much at each mile, I just couldn’t run very fast. I kept checking in with myself and asking if I was doing the best I could. As long as the answer was yes, I was happy with that.

For some reason, from about mile 20 on, it seemed like every spectator we passed told us we were “almost there.” As you all undoubtedly know, there is no phrase in the English language more grating than “You’re almost there” when you still have 6 miles left to run in a marathon. If I cannot literally see the finish line, I’m not almost there. Anyway, I took the first few in stride but eventually just wanted to punch everyone. I kept my head down and just tried to keep going. Patty, ever the world’s friendliest and most sociable human being, kept thanking everyone and saying hi. If I didn’t love her so much, this exuberance would have made me add her to the punch list. Still, despite my growing hate for humanity, I wasn’t letting myself think anything negative about my ability to finish the race, my speed, or anything else. I was just focused on getting to the finish line.

And get to the finish line we did.


We did it!!

If I was a person who cries, I would have cried crossing that finish line. I got a little choked up, actually. We finished in 5:06:02, which far exceeded my wildest dreams for this event. I even had time to shower after the race! I truly thought it could be a 6 hour day and possibly my PW, but it defied all my expectations. defied all my expectations.


Finisher shirts and medals! BECAUSE WE FINISHED.

This race felt like completely starting over. It was pretty hard to imagine that I had run 44 marathons before this. This felt like my first one all over again, and in a way, it was. I don’t know where my training will take me from here and I don’t know what my future races will look like, but I know I’m a marathoner. Turns out I always was and I always will be. Thank you all for your support and encouragement!

Negative Nancy, be gone!

I’ve been beating myself up for months now about the marathon I have coming up this weekend. I’m not ready, I haven’t trained enough, I’m going to be miserable, it’s going to be hot, a bird is going to poop on me, the Gatorade will actually be Powerade, and I’ll get a PW.

Maybe all of those things are true. Maybe they’re all going to happen. Although, I swear to God, if a bird gets close enough to poop on me, I’m going to have much bigger problems to deal with, like me completely losing my mind.  I’ve been actively dreading this race since sometime in August when I ran 16 miles and it sucked in the most epic fashion, as runs in August generally seem to do. The mindset has impacted my training, my stress level, and my mood, and it’s no one’s fault but mine. While I don’t usually mind the fact that I’m an eternal pessimist, that shit has got to stop for at least the next week.

Why, why, WHY would I run 26.2 miles if I’m convinced it’s going to be miserable and I’m going to hate every second and not have fun? Why am I convincing myself that I am only capable of running the half and have no business running the full? Is it because I’m afraid of writing another race report with a time I’m ashamed of? Maybe. Is it because I’m afraid of hurting my back? At least a little bit. But the point is, if I’m going to do it (which I am), why be miserable about it? If I am dreading it that much, I should just not do it.

So the way I see it, I have two options: run the marathon and be positive about it no matter what or don’t run it.

I read a recap of last year’s Chicago Marathon today that gave me exactly the perspective I needed. In the post, Liz says:

As I’ve pointed out a million times this was my fourth full marathon, and my best…because of my attitude.  I was so positive during the whole race. I was my number one fan. I wanted myself to succeed more than anything, and I encouraged, and cheered my way through it. I don’t know if this is simply because I’ve got older or wiser, but not a single negative thought about myself went through my head during this marathon. I was really, really just proud of myself. Proud I was out there. Proud I was running a freaking marathon. Proud I had worked myself up from barely being able to run 5km in April. I didn’t think about my weight, or how “slow” I was. Or that people may be looking up my time and thinking “is she even moving?” (that was always my thought on previous marathons), but rather I was just happy with who I was. And I think it was this difference that made this race so enjoyable.”

When I read that, it resonated so much with me. I’m not proud of myself anymore. I’m disappointed, frustrated, and annoyed with what it has felt like to come back to running. I’m embarrassed by my times and my weight. I feel like I will never be back to where I used to be. As much as I do genuinely love being active, I enter into each and every workout with the same singular focus: to lose weight. I might have other goals too, like getting faster or cycling farther or increasing my hip strength, but at the end of the day, the thing that motivates me the most to get out of bed in the morning and go to the gym is to be smaller. My motivations are completely flawed, and it makes it very difficult to ever feel satisfied with a workout, because in case you haven’t noticed – you don’t lose weight instantly. As a result, I’m constantly beating myself up and never happy with my results. For races, I can only be happy when I am capable of running faster but choose not to, not when I do my best and am still “slow.”

I tell you all of this not to tell you that I’ve suddenly had an epiphany and I no longer want to be thinner, or to make you feel sorry for me or anything like that.  That’s embarrassing, so please don’t. Rather, I realized that while reading Liz’s blog, I found myself thinking “Wow, she went from a 5k in April to a marathon in October? Amazing!” “Wow, she looks so athletic!” and “Wow, she took 6 months off before she started training and still finished in 5:26? Awesome!” What I wasn’t thinking was: “She can’t run a full marathon without walking? Must not have trained enough.” or “What a slow time…was she even moving?” or “She looks fat in her race pictures.”

But those are the things that I think about myself. Those are the things I think you and everyone I know are thinking about me. Maybe it’s true and maybe it’s not, but either way, no one else has to run this marathon but me, and no one else is going to have a positive or negative experience because of it but me.

So, for the next few days, these are the things I’m going to say to myself over and over and over:

“You couldn’t run at all until mid-June and now you’re running a marathon!”

“Three doctors told you that you could never run at all, let alone run a marathon again, and you’re doing it!”

“You did the best training you could, so run the best marathon you can and be proud of it no matter what.”

“You’ve taken great care of yourself and stayed healthy through your whole training cycle!”

“They give out really sweet prizes sometimes to the people who come in last, so it’s ok if you do.” (Kidding. But they do sometimes do this.)


The steps of recovery: First, race walk an 8k. Next, run for the first time. Then, run a half marathon. Next up: marathon!

I have lost sight of what is important in running, marathons, and life (if I ever had sight of it to begin with). I am going to try as hard as I possibly can to be positive and have a great race experience no matter what. And I’m not going to be ashamed when I post my finishing time here, because there is no such thing as a bad finish. I’m blessed to be able to run in the first place, and so fortunate that my body has held up through any kind of training at all, even incomplete marathon training. So, on Sunday, I’ll put one foot in front of the other, at the best pace I can manage – whatever that may be – for 26.2 miles. I’ll finish marathon #45. And I’ll have a smile on my face when I do.

Remember Rest Days? Me Either.

Whew. What a weekend! And week. I worked a ton of overtime this week for a big project and it’s really thrown me off my schedule with obligations from school and my other work. I don’t know about you, but when I’ve got a lot going on like I do right now, I really struggle when I’m thrown off my routine. Everything in my life is planned more or less down to the minute until December, but of course, things never go as planned. One thing I’ve tried really hard to do is stick to my workout schedule no matter what, mostly for the matter of preserving my sanity during a rather stressful time.

So, this weekend I had another big bike ride planned. Amanda, Chuck and I were scheduled to do a metric century (62.5 miles) in Greenwood, South Carolina. The ride had been advertised as “mostly flat” compared to last week’s rather hilly 50 miler, and Chuck needed to leave at a certain time, so Amanda and I were determined to ride a bit faster than last week. As always, we arrived cutting it pretty close to the start of the event (Greenwood is about 2 hours from where I live) and rushed to get everything together before we took off. As we listened to the announcements, we heard Chuck’s number called as the winner of a prize, but we didn’t hear what the prize was, so we figured we’d find out later.


Amanda, me, and Chuck. Cycling clothes are the actual worst.

This ride was many things, but “mostly flat” was certainly not one of them. Terms like “mostly hilly,” “mostly windy,” “mostly hard,” or “mostly painful” would be more appropriate descriptions. We were definitely riding faster, but there was only so much that could be done in the face of the wind and hills. At one point, we were riding in close proximity to a woman who not a very experienced cyclist. We were on a hilly portion of the course (although really, what portion wasn’t?) and she would race down the downhills, pull in front of us, and then proceed to barely crawl up the hill, trapping us behind her.  I don’t know if it was just the fact that we were all exhausted by this point or what, but it was extremely rage-inducing. This happened for probably 8 hills in a row and we’d have to go around her on the hill each time, so eventually we decided to just sprint has hard as we could to get away. FYI – if you currently go to spinning class, the mental image of sprinting during the fast songs is what I employed to push myself past this woman. It was surprisingly helpful.

Around mile 47-50, my neck and shoulder were killing me because I couldn’t put my head down and stretch at all. Why couldn’t I put my head down? Apparently I am allergic to cycling and had a horribly runny nose. I also came unprepared and had no towel. No snot rockets were going to help me on this one – it was miserable. While last weekend 50 miles really seemed pretty easy, for some reason adding an extra 12.5 made me want to die. Except it wasn’t only 12.5 – no, the course was actually 65 miles instead of 62.5. This basically caused Amanda and I to have a mental breakdown. Chuck had already left us by this point in an attempt to make it home on time, so we were on our own, and the hills never stopped. We had been talking about doing a century ride (100 miles) sometime in the next few months, but the idea of riding another 35 miles seemed utterly insane by the time we were done, so we may have to reevaluate. For now, we’ve got to do better on another metric century before we starting thinking about that! At least the ride was really well organized, well marked, and had great rest stops. It also had great prizes!

What did Chuck win, by the way? Oh, only the greatest bicycle EVER. My prize was half off a car wash, which is basically just as good.


Are you kidding me? THIS IS THE BEST.

Today, Amanda and I ran 12 miles despite the shouts of hate and rage coming from our legs after yesterday’s little adventure. We spent much of our run talking about the importance of rest days and how hard it can be to fit them in sometimes. That’s something I’m struggling with right now – it seems like there are too many workouts each week that I want to do and not enough time to do them! Since AJ has not yet consented to the idea of me being a stay-at-home-fiancee, it can be challenging to fit in everything I want to do. As I write this, I haven’t taken a rest day in over 2.5 weeks. While that might not seem like a long time to some people, I can tell I’m exhausted and my body needs some recovery time. Still, the thought of taking a day off gives me insane anxiety because HOW will I get all my workouts done? As if that’s the most important thing in the world.

At this point, I’m committed to taking tomorrow completely off from working out. I’ve restructured the rest of my week and I think I can make everything work without killing myself. Of course, I can’t guarantee my friends and family won’t kill me, but it is what it is. Either way, I need to get better about scheduling rest days just like I schedule everything else.

LEAVE A COMMENT: How was your weekend? How often do you take rest days?

Activity Overload…and T-Shirts!

I can’t believe it’s almost the end of September. Why do the best months of the year (fall) fly by while the suckiest months (summer) seem to last forever? It isn’t fair!

This is my favorite time of the year to be outdoors and be active. While I love winter more for running due to the reduced risk of death by over-sweating, fall is a time when I can run and bike outside. I’ve been getting really into cycling lately, which is a good thing because I don’t have the option of running too much anymore. Actually, I’ve been getting really into everything lately. If it’s active, I want to be doing it! Not a week goes by that I’m not emailing Amanda, Chuck, or both with website links to “fun” events I want to do in the coming months, like metric century bike rides and half ironman triathlons. They are good friends because they humor me and don’t immediately delete the emails.


I’ve found that it is important to be friends with people as crazy as you are.

My workout schedule has never been more diverse than it is right now, and I’m proud of that. I recently started the Bikini Body Workout Program and it’s going well, although the workouts are pretty killer. I decided to start the program because I really needed some guidance in the area of strength training. I am not the type of person that feels confident just walking into a gym and making up my own routine, and I wanted to maximize my results. Of course, it’s also no secret that I’m pretty uncomfortable in my own skin right now, to put it lightly. None of my efforts to lose weight, no matter how little or much I eat or how little or much I exercise, are working. I’m really disturbed by it, and I’m working with my doctors to try and figure out what’s going on. In the mean time, I’m focusing on eating a healthy diet (and not counting calories anymore, because it damn near drove me insane) and getting stronger and leaner where possible. At the end of the day, all I can do is try to take care of myself as well as possible and not lose my mind in the process – easier said than done.

In addition to hard core strength workouts 3 times a week, I’m also cycling and running, of course. Amanda and I did an organized 50 mile bike ride this past Saturday in Little Mountain, SC, where we obviously took no pictures because I suck at being a blogger. However, this weekend, Amanda, Chuck and I are doing a metric century (62 miles) and I will make more of an effort to record that for posterity. I got a new carbon road bike that is lighter and better at climbing hills, so it is easier on my back, and I’m noticing a big difference in how I feel on the bike.

On the running front, I’ve started slowly adding speed work and hill repeats back in. Since I’m only running 3 days a week, I’m doing one easy run, one day of either speed or hills, and one long run. I alternate hills and speed every other week. While I’m certainly not the fastest I’ve ever been, I am noticing steady improvement in my running. My last two long runs (which admittedly are not the 20 milers I should be doing for marathon training) have been right at 10 minute pace, including walk breaks, so I can’t argue too much with that.


AJ to me on a daily basis

Ahh, marathon training. Remember that time I had a marathon coming up in less than 3 weeks? Me too. What a nightmare. I have done nowhere near enough training for this race. I have thought (and thought and thought and thought) about dropping down to the half, but this would be the second plane ticket I bought for Kansas that would go to waste, which would mean there would be a third. I also thought about trying to cram a ton of training into the last few weeks, but that’s stupid and I honestly don’t have time anyway. So, I’m going to do the best I can and just be prepared for the fact that it’s probably going to really suck. At least I’ll be running with Patty the whole way, so we’re sure to have a great time.

If you’ve been following me on Facebook and keeping up with my blog posts for Women’s Running, you’ll know that I’ve been feeling a little stressed and a lot of pressure about marathon training. I rushed myself into training because I didn’t want to miss out on what everyone else is doing, and I was neither physically nor mentally prepared. With that in mind, I don’t have a marathon planned after Prairie Fire. My next focus will be the Rehoboth Beach Half Marathon in December. Amanda, Kate, and Patty will all be running the full, but since I already have the state of Delaware, I’ll be doing the half and trying my best to race it. I don’t know if I’ll be in PR shape by then, but I am definitely planning on running it hard, and my training in the coming months will reflect that.


Speed work? Meh

Aside from working out all the time, I’m also writing all the time, whether it’s assignments for grad school (last semester, holla!), freelance work, Women’s Running, Ramblen, or something else, I have at least one or two things to write each day, which is part of why my blog posts are suffering. I’m also trying to plan a wedding somewhere in there, but I suck at it.

So for now, I leave you with a picture from our engagement party this weekend and a promise to try and write more and an assurance that it probably won’t happen. Oh, and one more thing. I’ve been getting a lot of requests for another set of Team T-Rex shirts. Would you be interested in ordering one? If so, leave a comment so I can get a feel for how many we’re looking at – it determines the price!


AJ, me, T-Rex Mom and T-Rex Dad at our engagement party!

A New World Sweat Record! – The Bird-in-Hand Half Marathon and 5k Race Report

There are a lot of reasons why I’m so late in writing this race report, and only one of them is (slightly) valid – namely, my camera experienced some type of catastrophe in which the memory card (but not the entire camera) somehow got wet and therefore corrupted, resulting in me losing all of the pictures from the 5k the night before the half marathon. I’ve had way too many other things going on, so I delayed writing the report in hopes that my memory card would magically fix itself and I would be able to get the pictures back and write this report with the glorious photos it deserves. Spoiler alert: cameras do not usually magically fix themselves. I’ve been putting this off for too long, so now, without further adieu and with a mix of pictures I have stolen from my dear friends JC and Jenn, I give you the Bird-in-Hand 5k and Half Marathon race reports! Brace yourself – Amish people and my relentless enthusiasm ahead.


There’s so much more where this came from.

The weekend didn’t start off on the best note. My flight was delayed by two hours and I had underestimated the time it would take to get from the Philadelphia airport to the start of the 5k. JC picked me up (ready with food and even gluten-free beer because he is the best) and we battled rush hour traffic to make it to our hotel at 6:18 pm. The 5k start was set for 6:30! Fortunately, Jenn was able to pick up our bibs and the hotel was right across the street from the race start, so we quickly changed and sprinted across the street! Whew!

The 5k was the first time I had run in two weeks since getting sick with bronchitis, so I really wasn’t sure how it would go. Obviously, that’s not a great sign since I had a half marathon the next day! Fortunately, I was so enamored with all the adorable Amish children everywhere while simultaneously being so disturbed/impressed by all the Amish people running in the race in long dresses and pants that I really didn’t notice what I was doing. JC ran all over the place taking pictures of me from a million angles, but alas, this was with my currently defunct camera, so I have none of them.


I’m sure you’d rather look at pictures of adorable Amish children than me running and trying not to die anyway.

It was extremely hot and humid, and JC and I remarked at how much we were sweating during a 5k that we weren’t running terribly quickly! It did not bode well for the next day, but we were having so much fun that it didn’t matter. The 5k even took us on a short trail through a corn field, which was basically the greatest thing of my life. I’m not saying that I’m only running races in which Amish people are highly involved from now on, but I’m not not saying that. I was determined to finish under 30 minutes (because that obviously matters?), so I did.


Jenn runs with her hair down, I sweat through my clothes.


Hanging out with reader Meghan after the 5k! She is extremely fun.

I had forgotten a sports bra (ran the 5k in a yoga bra), so JC and I headed out after the race to head to the outlet mall so I could grab one. Interesting fact: the only thing I ever forget for races is my sports bra. We got all set up and headed to bed early for the race the next morning, although we unfortunately missed out on the bonfire and s’mores party after the 5k. We also discovered that my camera was broken and prayed it would be fixed by the next morning. Not so much.

I was pretty nervous about the half marathon, as you know. It was obvious that it wasn’t going to be a PR effort, and after getting sick, I was also pretty sure I wasn’t going to be able to run the entire thing. I decided to just do the best I could at each given moment, whatever that was. Race morning dawned like a sauna. We were all sweating through our clothes before the race even started. After a great 5k the night before and knowing that I had the hospitality of the Amish to look forward to, I really tried to focus on just being excited and doing the best I could. With the scenery, that was pretty easy to do.


I figured I wouldn’t have the energy after the race for a jumping picture, so we did one before.

The first few miles of the race were beautiful and scenic, but boy were they hot. I’m always hot when I run, so I tried not to say anything about it, but I knew things were bad when JC said at precisely mile 0.5 “Oh my God, I’ve already sweat through my shirt.” We were running through farmlands, so there was no shade, and we were also running directly into the sun. I focused on keeping my efforts even and not psyching myself out about the heat, but people all around us were walking very early on. Fortunately, there were lots of sites to behold and JC and I hadn’t run together in awhile, so we caught up on all the Marathon Maniacs and 50 States Marathon Club gossip.


If you’re not into pictures of Amish children, you probably should stop reading now.

JC appointed himself my personal photographer and ran all over the course taking photos, which was fun for me (and useful since I regularly get asked for pictures of me running and I have surprisingly few without tons of people in them) but probably pretty annoying for everyone around us. I’m not sure the compression shorts and running clothes soaked in sweat and clinging to my body is my best look, but it was certainly the look of the day for pretty much everyone out there. I call it “humidity chic.”


Tallest corn I’ve ever seen. If it had been like three feet taller, it would have possibly provided shade, which was all I could think about.

As much fun as we were having and as much as we were enjoying the scenery and thinking about ways to steal Amish children, it was hard not to think about how much running we still had left to do. The only bad thing I have to say about this race is that the water stops are pretty far apart (every 2-3 miles), especially for the heat and the difficulty of the course (it’s constant rolling hills). I tried to replace as many fluids as possible at each stop, but it was hard to do without making myself sick. Fortunately, the race had the foresight to put out coolers full of ice every so often, so I grabbed some each time and stuffed it down my hat, sports bra, whatever! It was all about survival.


Ice was so clutch. Except that it immediately melted.

We were keeping a decent pace, but around halfway through the race, I started having a really hard time with my breathing. I wasn’t running too fast and my heart rate was not extremely high, but my chest didn’t feel like it was able to expand fully and I wasn’t getting enough air. I know from unfortunate experience that this is what it feels like when I try to run with bronchitis, and it made it hard to run for extended periods. I reminded myself just to do my best that I could each moment and keep moving forward, and that’s what we did. It helped to walk up the hills, and everyone around us was slowing down too. We noticed lots of ambulances and people dropping like flies on the side of the road, which was pretty scary. It was a big wake up call to just stay safe and do the best we could to get to the finish line in one piece!


It’s pretty hard to impress me with a race sign, but this is my new favorite.

There were a few randomly really exciting things on the course. The first was a rather unexpected pair of camels that showed up around mile 9. At least, I think it was mile 9. I might have been delirious. It was kind of ironic that there were camels because at that point we were so hot that we felt like we were in the Middle East, and then those camels appeared out of nowhere. I took a picture with the camels and JC tried to get them to kiss me, but it looked more like they were going to spit on me instead so we high-tailed it out of there.


Camels on the course – that’s a first!

We were walking some and running as much as my breathing situation would allow, but regardless of how fast (or slow) we were moving, I couldn’t help marvel at the beautiful scenery around us and be amazed by all of the (very fast!) Amish people who were running the race. I was so hot in my technical gear and I just could not get over how they were running in pants and suspenders or long dresses. Talk about tough! I refused to let JC take pictures them because it seemed a little gauche (and I know the Amish sometimes do not want pictures taken of themselves) but trust me, it was amazing.

At mile 10, the greatest thing that has ever happened to me in a race happened. I literally thought I was hallucinating. We turned onto a gravel road and I saw a sign that said “Rita’s” nailed to a telephone pole. It seemed odd to me because clearly there was not a Rita’s Italian Ice and Frozen Custard store nearby since we were in the middle of farmland. EXCEPT THERE WAS. The race had set up a Rita’s station at mile 10 on this gravel road next to a cornfield! I asked what flavor the italian ice was as if it mattered. When they said mango, it very briefly crossed my mind that I do not like mango, and then I ate it anyway. It was the best thing I have ever eaten.


I wanted to live at this station. MANGO FOREVER.

Interesting fact about the Amish – despite the fact that they were clearly very supportive of the race (they work all of the aid stations, hand make the medals, and are basically the only spectators), they do not cheer at all. I’m not sure if it’s something to do with their faith or not, but it was very interesting and a little odd to run past tons of people who are just staring at you. This didn’t really fit well with my plan to engage them all in conversation and become best friends with them and then meet my future Amish husband (sorry AJ), but I guess you can’t win them all.


Considerably more pep in my step after the Rita’s station

With just a 5k left to go, we knew we weren’t setting any records. I knew it would be one of my worst half marathon times ever, but I also was surprisingly at peace with that. I knew I was running as much as I was physically able to at the fastest possible pace I could muster. What more can you ask for, really? Plus, I got to spend a lot of time with one of my favorite people who I have not seen in far too long while looking at beautiful scenery and thinking about how to convert to the Amish faith (Amishness? That’s not right) so I can get some adorable Amish children of my own. That’s a good day right there.


We also took my new favorite race picture. If you look closely, I have a calf muscle!

As the race wound to a close, I was simultaneously relieved and sad that it was over. It was such a wonderful experience – truly everything I hoped it would be – if you take away the boiling lava hot weather. That’s hardly the race’s fault, though, and I hear it has been much cooler in previous years.

JC and I finished the race right around 2:40, which would normally embarrass me, but I was honestly proud of myself for focusing on the experience and doing the absolute best I could and being at peace with that. Did the thought cross my mind that it’s a full 50 minutes slower than my half marathon PR? Yes, I would be lying if I said otherwise. But that really doesn’t seem to matter that much because this race was a hell of a lot more fun. It also probably didn’t hurt that even finishing in that time, there were many many people behind us because it seemed like pretty much everyone was having a rough day.


Finishing strong and sweaty

After the race, we heard that 50 people were treated for heat illnesses and many were taken away in ambulances! Pretty crazy and definitely not the norm for weather in Pennsylvania at this time of year. I’m just glad we made it through in one piece with plenty of stories to show for it! Oh, and a pretty sweet medal too.


Pretty much the most cheerful running partner in the world. He never has a bad day! And he always brings me beer.

As one final note to a great day, I also got to meet faithful reader/commenter and fellow blogger Elle from A Fast Paced Life!  We had been trying to get together the whole weekend and I am so glad it happened!


Hooray for blogger meetups!

In case you skipped the whole entry: In summary, I didn’t have the run that I hoped I would a few months ago, but I’m happy with the one I did have. I may have been (a lot) slower than I planned, but I did the best I could and most importantly, thoroughly enjoyed a race that I have been waiting to do for over a year! I’d highly recommend the Bird-in-Hand Half Marathon to everyone in the world, Amish or otherwise. You won’t regret it, but you might set a new world record for most sweat produced by a human being during a half marathon. I’m still rehydrating!



It seems like it’s been forever since I have done a real race, and now one is finally upon me! This Friday, I’m heading up to Pennsylvania for the Bird-in-Hand half marathon, which I’ll have the pleasure of running with my dear friends Jenn and JC! This race, of course, is the one in Amish country where little Amish children hand you water at the water stops, the Amish community hand makes all the medals, and they even participate in the race! If you’ve been around for awhile, you know how excited I’ve been about doing this one. Despite the fact that I’m certainly not in tip top shape and never was going to be at this stage, I was hoping to at least run the entire race and just have fun.

Well, I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen. I mean, the fun will definitely happen, but the running the entire race part? Doubtful. Last week, I mentioned that I was sick. As it turns out, that got worse throughout the week, and I actually have bronchitis, which is basically the only illness I ever get. I finally went to the doctor and got some medication, but the damage is pretty much done. I haven’t worked out at all in a week, and I haven’t run in nearly two weeks. That does not bode well for my ability to suddenly up and run a half marathon when I’m not in great shape anyway!

This also is really throwing a wrench in my plan to train for and run the Prairie Fire Marathon in Wichita, KS on October 12. I haven’t done a long run of any kind in a few weeks. I’m trying to stay optimistic (or rather, less pessimistic than normal) and hope that I’ll be able to string together some good workouts in the next month and a half, but I just don’t know what will happen. I know I’ll be out there hopefully completing the marathon, but it won’t be the way I was envisioning.

I have really mixed feelings about this. Last year, not being sufficiently trained probably wouldn’t have bothered me that much. I guess this time I was really hoping that all the pieces would fall into place and I’d successfully complete the whole training cycle. I was hoping to do as well as my back would allow, and the ironic thing is, my back has been great! My back has been allowing me to do anything I want within reason – it’s the illness and the insane tornado that is my life at the moment that is throwing a wrench in everything.

All I can do right now is focus on doing the best I can in the time I have left and enjoying the races. It was never going to be about my finishing time for either event, but I did want to feel like I was giving it the best effort I could and had done as much training as possible. While I guess I am doing that given the circumstances, it’s definitely not what I was hoping for. I don’t know how things will go, but at least I’ll have good company to enjoy the day with! That’s all that matters.


I’m certainly not going to be the fastest, so here’s hoping!

LEAVE A COMMENT: Have you ever gone into a race with way less fitness than you were hoping? How did you feel about it?

Worst Epiphany Ever

Do you ever have those epiphanies about yourself that you realize are obvious to literally everyone else  in your life? That’s embarrassing. Today, I had one of those epiphanies.

I am incapable of relaxing. 

I told AJ this breaking news and he was like “Um, yeah. I live with you. I know.” I think people have probably told me in the past that I can’t relax, but I didn’t want to believe them. I wanted to be the “cool girl” – laid back, go with the flow, effortless beach hair that looks like the kind in the commercials rather than the actual beach,  etc. But no, I must admit. It is true. I cannot relax.



How did I reach this conclusion? Well, as you all know, I have a lot going on right now. I don’t need to list all that out because there are plenty of people busier than me and no one really cares how busy I or anyone else is. That being said, I started my final (hooray!) class for my Masters this week and shit has hit the proverbial fan. After a fantastic weekend in Washington D.C. this past weekend, I got home very late Sunday night and barely made it out of bed Monday morning. I’ve got what appears to be a sinus infection, and I can barely drag myself to the office (I have my own office and only two other people work in my building, so I’m not infecting anyone) let alone work out.

If you’re a normal person, you might be upset about not being able to work out, but you’re probably not freaking out about it. If you’re a normal person, your first thought when realizing you’re too sick to work out is probably not “Oh good, now I can get ahead on my school work!” It’s probably “I should eat a lot of pizza and cookies and drink a lot of water so I get better soon.” I’ll let you guess which one of those thoughts was mine.


Thank God for Dominos and their gluten-free pizza because srsly.

I just can’t seem to chill out ever, no matter how beneficial it would be for my body or mind. Some fellow bloggers have talked recently about being “Type A, but lazy.” I am basically never lazy. If I am too sore or tired to run, I replace it with something else. If I am too stressed out to write a blog post, I do my school work instead.

Sometimes I think that something has got to change, and maybe it does. But then I think “If I relax, how will I get everything done? WHO WILL MAKE AJ LUNCH?” It’s hard to prioritize when it feels like everything is equally important. While working out maybe shouldn’t make that list, I know how good it is for my mental and physical wellbeing, so it seems necessary.

There is no point to this post other than to say that I discovered the world’s most obvious quality about myself. And I don’t suppose that I really plan on changing it? Oh my God, does that make me even more insane? But hey, admitting you have a problem is the first step, or something.



LEAVE A COMMENT: Are you capable of relaxing, or are you Jessie Spano in disguise too? 

Perception vs Reality: T-Rex Edition

My girl Suz had a post this week that made me think, and I like posts that make me think. She wrote a post about perception versus reality as it pertains to her blog and how she actually is in real life. I’ve spent quite a lot of time thinking about this as it relates to my own blog for one primary reason – you guys like meeting me, but I am terrified of meeting you.

The reason for that, quite simply, is that I’m afraid that what you get when you meet me won’t quite measure up to whatever it is you think I’m like based on my blog. It’s not that I intentionally misrepresent myself, it’s that this blog is imperfect and only has the capacity to show so much of my life. Not to mention, it’s clearly written down, which is different from talking to someone in real life. So with Suz as my inspiration, I decided to go through some things that you may or may not be thinking and tell you how true they are. Make sense? I didn’t explain that very well, but go with it.


Eh, it’s night time and I’m tired.

1. I’m hilarious. I’m not tooting my own horn here – this is the thing I hear most about my blog, namely, that it is really funny. I’m not that funny in real life. If you talk to me, it is not like talking to Kevin Hart. You will not be rolling on the floor laughing. People would certainly say I’m witty and that I’m a good story teller, but I’m not innately funny. I’m much funnier in the written word than when I’m speaking, probably because I’m generally overwhelmed by social anxiety if I have to talk to someone new. Sorry to crush your dreams.

2. I’m independently wealthy. Not true, but I’ve been very fortunate to always have good, well-paying jobs. I get a lot of questions about how I afford to do so many races and travel all over the place, and the answer is a combination of the travel tips I’ve mentioned, the fact that I do have a very good job, I live in a ridiculously cheap area (South Carolina for the win!), I don’t spend my money on much else outside of travel and running, and, from time to time, I have credit card debt. You want real, you got real. I don’t have a trust fund, but I am lucky and I know that. I’m not stupid enough to think that everyone in the world can travel as much as I do, but I do think that everyone can travel more than they think they can.


And by shoes, I obviously mean running shoes.

3. I’m extremely bold and adventurous. True. I’m just as adventurous in real life, if not more, than it comes across on the blog. I love trying new things as long as they do not involve birds in any way. I’m pretty much game for anything. The better story it will make to tell later, the better.

4. I make new friends easily. True, in a superficial sense. I can talk to anyone if I have to. It’s easy for me to meet people at races and spend hours running along and swapping life stories. It is very difficult for me to make real friends. I have a difficult time connecting with people on more than a superficial level, even if we trade all our dirty secrets. I find that most people think we are better friends than I think we are. I don’t trust people very easily, and it takes a long time before I care about someone enough to actually consider them a friend. It’s nothing personal, it’s just how it is. That being said, once I do decide that I care about someone, I care about them forever, no matter how bad the relationship goes. It is my fatal flaw.

5. I don’t care about my times when I run. I’m weird about this. I don’t really care about my times in most marathons (you know, when people are actually watching and my time is actually being recorded), but I get very upset with myself over my pace during normal training runs. I get super upset about a run that goes worse than I think it should. It’s made coming back from injury really challenging. I wish I could swap my mentality around so I cared more about races and didn’t stress out so much about training, but it is what it is.

6. I run every day. If you’ve been reading awhile, you know this is obviously false, but some people think that because of how many marathons I’ve done. No way. I run three times a week. I do work out almost every day, though.



7. I have a positive perspective on my injury, so I have a positive perspective on everything. Not even close. I’m one of the most innately pessimistic people you will ever meet. Some people would say I’m a realist, but I’m too pessimistic to give myself that much credit. I like to think I’m not pessimistic in a Debbie Downer kind of way, but I probably am. At least if I am, hopefully I’m more like a sarcastic and witty Debbie Downer than one you want to smack across the face. Anyway, I have to work really, really hard to be positive about anything. I am gloom and doom all the time. I am the queen of the catastrophic scenario. It doesn’t mean it necessarily seems that way all the time when you’re talking to me, but my head is one big black hole of “OMG everything is coming crashing down and this is going to fail and my dog is going to die and GAH why does everything have gluten in it??” If I have a positive thought, it is the exception, not the rule. I’ve been that way since I was a kid. When I talk about positive things here, it’s because it’s particularly noteworthy and I’m trying to avoid bringing you guys down.

8. My hair is naturally this luxurious. True. #blessed

9. I watch the Real Housewives all the time. That’s how I get all the GIFs. False. I rarely watch Real Housewives. The GIFs are hilarious enough to stand alone, and I find them all over the internet. I spend my time watching more refined reality television like Party Down South, 19 Kids and Counting, and 90-Day Fiance. Also, I like a good drama series like House of Cards, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and the like.

10. I’m cringe-inducingly honest. Even more true in real life than you can imagine. I feel bad for AJ. I either say nothing or I say the truth. I am really good at holding my tongue, but I won’t lie. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, and I try very hard to be tactful, but I’m definitely one of those people who you don’t want to ask a question that you don’t want to know the answer to. BYE FELICIA!


For some reason, people don’t always want to hear the truth and I have no idea why.

LEAVE A COMMENT: What perceptions do people have about you? Are they accurate or not? Is there anything about me that you’re wondering about? 


Pushing Through

First, go check out my guest post on my pal Katie’s blog, Skinny Minnie Moves! If you want to know how to get super fit through weightlifting, she’s your girl. I obviously wrote about running because I know nothing about weight lifting.

Second, if you make it all the way through this post, I have a surprise for you at the end!


Sneak peak!

I’ve had a really good few days since I last posted. I think I’m starting to get into the swing of things with my new schedule, and I’m terribly impressed with how productive I’ve been this weekend. It probably didn’t hurt that AJ has been out of town since Thursday night, but nonetheless, I’m pleased. A brief recap:

I ended up staying at work an hour and a half late on Friday, long after my boss had left, so I could finish something up I had promised him. I definitely didn’t expect to be working late on my first Friday at the new job, but it is what it is, and I liked what I was working on. I ended up writing a proposal and an entire report this week plus some other stuff, and my boss was thrilled with what I gave him – a huge relief since I had pretty limited experience with the type of proposal I was writing. I went home and made dinner and then went to bed early in preparation for Saturday’s long run! I was determined not to skip it after last week.

Of course, waking up on Saturday morning I had instant feelings of regret. I may need to think my workout schedule because my legs are just brutalized by the time Saturday morning rolls around. They actually feel worse Saturday after taking a rest day on Friday than they do on Friday after working out the whole week, so I’ll need to work on that. Fortunately or unfortunately (since his presence forced me out the door), my friend Chuck had agreed to meet me and run my whole 16 miles with me for God knows what reason. It was my first time running with my group since getting back from Tulsa, and as excited as I was to see everyone, I was not excited about the stifling humidity outside. I wasn’t feeling great after 10 – pretty dizzy and weak, thanks to the absolutely profuse amount of sweat dripping off my body (seriously, I was the sweatiest person in our group). We had looped back to our cars at that point, and I gave serious consideration to just going home and finishing the other 6 miles later in the day after I had rehydrated a bit.


And I hate looking at pictures of myself, so this should give you a good perspective on where my head was.

Ultimately, I decided to keep going. I’m not really sure why – possibly the swarm of gnats buzzing around that made me want to run away – most likely because I knew deep down there was a limited chance of me heading back out the door by myself a few hours later. So Chuck and I waved goodbye to everyone else (who had been much more sensible and quit at 7 or 10) and headed back out. It was mostly fine until 12.8 miles, when I just could not run anymore. I was way too dizzy and weak and felt like absolute crap, but we had to get back to the cars, and I’ll be damned if I wasn’t putting 16 miles on my legs that day, so that’s what we did. I can’t decide if it was the right decision or not, but it’s done now. I didn’t feel right the rest of the day and actually ate my lunch sitting on the kitchen floor because I was too tired to walk the 10 feet to the table. Then I watched hours of bad reality television and Criminal Minds and succeeded in scaring myself to death – smart idea when I was home alone, no?


It’s really unfortunate that I find crime shows so fascinating when I am the most easily frightened person alive.

Today, I was an epic tornado of productivity! I wrote a guest post (I have the hardest time with those because I never have ideas)! I worked on Ramblen! I cleaned (I do not clean)! I did dishes (AJ always does the dishes)! I did all the laundry, including the comforter (I hate washing the comforter)! I went grocery shopping and bought PRODUCE like a mfing adult. I made all of AJ’s lunches for the week and mine. I made dinner. I planned out all the meals for the week. And I also tricked Chuck into riding two loops around Fort Jackson with me for a total of 24 of the hilliest, most brutal miles I’ve ever ridden. So actually, he probably tricked me, because I was all “Hey, want to ride tomorrow?” and he was all “Yeah totally, let’s meet at the Fort” and I was all “OK, that sounds like fun!” and then he probably cackled to himself because I had no idea what I was in for and good Lord, those are some big, nonstop hills. But, I did them, and I’m proud of myself. And now I’m continuing the productivity by writing this post! Look at me go!

I also have a new favorite song. Hearing this just put a huge smile on my face all weekend. While I might not ever have this much body confidence, it’s nice to hear from someone who does!

Ok, now your reward for making it through this post! After I mentioned last week about eating a Kind bar before my long run, one of my lovely readers (who works for Kind) contacted me and said she would send me some goodies since I love the brand so much! Well, I was completely overwhelmed when three HUGE boxes of Kind snacks ended up on my doorstep last week. It only seemed fair that I would share some of that great stuff with y’all, too! So I’m having a little giveaway to say thanks for sticking with me.. You’ll get: two packages of granola, a 12-pack box of Kind bars, and some other fun surprises!

a Rafflecopter giveaway