A BIG Blog Announcement! Please read!

Hello!

I have a big announcement!

And it is big, in fact, big might be an understatement. You might recall in a couple different posts, I mentioned big changes to watch for coming down the “blog pipeline” here. I mentioned it in this post when I expressed all the awesome tips and tricks I learned at FitBloggin this year.

What was my big takeaway? I need to self-host. So I got to work on all the things I needed to do in order to get my own site on my own server. I even employed the help of an old friend who does some design work for fun. Together, I think we produced a bad ass site.

I know what you’re thinking. Umm… so where is it? This site looks the same?

Well, along with changing hosts. I also changed web addresses. But don’t worry! The “Am I There Yet” brand and persona that I have cultivated over the past year has really become part of who I am. However, the acronym A.I.T.Y. for Am I There Yet might be obvious to us, but it doesn’t mean a whole lot to search engines and the great SEO. So I had to upgrade.

But, I did not lose any part of myself in the creation of my site. In fact, I think it has only gotten better.

You can now find me over at AmIThereYetBlog.com

Please click over and check it out! And also please know this, I truly value the friendships and readers that I have gained while opening up on this blog. I appreciate every single click that I get, and I love reading your comments and commenting back. If you are a subscribed follower to Am I There Yet here, please please, follow me over at my new site. Losing you would be a huge loss! You can follow me by clicking the “follow” button on the lower right hand corner of the new site.

If you follow me on Google Reader, I believe you will have to update your reader. Unless you are using Chrome, then I think you can use RSS to just tell your reader that content has be redirected. But I’m not sure, so to keep the Am I There Yet reads flowing, I would update the URL in your reader!

My email and twitter will stay the same.

This will be my last post at aityblog.com, beyond any switch reminders, and yes, I am a little sad. But I did my very very best to translate all the things you love about Am I There Yet here, to my new URL. I promise the switch will be worth it!

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments on the new site!

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Race Review – Akron Half Marathon

It’s been a while since I’ve gotten to do a race review! At least its not another recap, right? The Akron Marathon/Half Marathon/Team relay is held every year at the end of September. Usually the last weekend of the month. This year was the Akron Marathon 10 year anniversary.

This race will sell out, so don’t wait to long to register!

The Expo

The expo at the Akron Marathon is always really good. There is always a long list of vendors and plenty of shopping. You could pick up your race packets at the expo on the Friday before the race. There is no race day packet pick up.

I am never disappointed with this expo. I did think that some of the race gear with the event name on it was a little expensive this year, but I guess demand drives price, and Akron gear is worth it. I got a Brooks fleece the first year I ran and a long sleeve tech-t last year. I like to collect race memorabilia for some reason.

The expo is marked with the blue line which I love. Its just like being on the course only its guiding you to your swag bag. At the expo you get your race bib, long sleeve technical tshirt, and if you are running the full marathon, you would pick up your Brooks jacket here as well. Probably the best race swag ever.

It is quite possible to spend many hours in this expo. Fleet Feet, Vertical Runner, and Second Sole, all the major running stores were attending. I spent some time sampling different flavored organic juices and got talked into signing up for the Pittsburgh Marathon in May 2013. If you don’t want to buy anything or sign up for any races, I suggest having a friend get your race packet for you, because I promise you will be consumed with excitement upon entering and buy something. No doubt.

The Start

Race starts at 7:00am. Being late in September it can be chilly at the start, which was the case this year for sure. It was low 40s at most. There is a tent where runners can get water, sports drinks, course maps at other information before the race begins and runners tend to huddle in that area for warmth.

Parking is ample for this race. How far from the start you get depends on what time you get to the race. I have arrived about an hour early every year I have run this race and have always found a parking garage pretty close to the starting line. For the best parking options, race organizers hand out a parking map that specifically identifies what garages are open when and when the roads around them close. So as long as you equip yourself with a map and plenty of time, parking is a breeze.

There are plenty of bathrooms and I have never found it a problem to get in and get out. As with every large race, it’s your best bet to go early so you don’t get stuck in line when the race begins, but if you plan it right, this shouldn’t be a problem.

The start is pretty timely. This year they did a wave start with the increase of runners for the 10th year. All you have to do to enter the corrals is to find the pace group you want to be near and wait. It only took me a few minutes to move through the corral and across the starting line, maybe 5 minutes. For the big 10 year anniversary there were even fireworks. And then you’re off.

The Course

The course was a little different this year. In order to accommodate the increase of participants, they cut out a final hill of the half marathon that was on a very narrow path. I didn’t think this change broke the course at all. It is still a pretty exciting course.

Like I said before, the course is marked with the blue line. The course is marked year round and I think it’s pretty cool to have that help guide you. Plus it has made for some great t-shirts. I think Akron is one of the only races that does something like this.

The course takes you through downtown Akron and there are plenty of spectators cheering runners on. Once your cross the Y bridge, which you do twice, the crowd thins some and the only spectators to be seen are families waving from their windows. It’s not boring, but there’s not a lot to look at.

After you pass through downtown again you run on the outskirts of Akron for a bit and through Firestone park and some of the neighborhoods. Plenty of people come to out to spectate and a lot of local high school marching bands come out to play. After you leave the neighborhood streets you re-enter downtown and head toward campus.

The run through campus is really fun and a surprising number of students come out. Once you leave the Akron campus you head back in town to loop part of the first half of the course again. Some might find this annoying, but your back in the mix of busy streets and cheering families. Then you have to cross the Y bridge again. Which kind of sucks, but from there, you are only a mile or so away from an amazing finish at Canal Park.

The Finish

The end of the course turns you out at the back of Canal Park where you get to come running into your triumphant finish at the baseball stadium. It’s a pretty cool finish. You run right up from the outfield, you run toward the front of the field almost to home plate where the finish line waits.

Once you cross the finish line, Race Direct Jim Barnett personally shakes your hand. He shakes every runners hand that comes through that finish line. He is just about the coolest guy. From there you begin your walk around the bases.

First you are handed water as you continue walking around the field, then you get your medal and continue through the corral. You are handed a blanket, sports drink, and then you head to the food tent. Here you are given a bag of goodies and munchies and it makes carrying the bananas, chocolate milk, and whatever else you can grab as you make your way through the que, super easy. This keeps people from grabbing multiples of anything and they never run out of food. At least not in my experience.

From the refreshments tent, the corral dumps you out the beer garden where you can claim your two Michelob Ultras. There are massage tents out there as well and runners usually sit down on the field and enjoy their success… and beers. Once you’re ready to find your family, you can head up the concourse and walk around. I really like the finish, its easy to maneuver and I got to my meet up section with the running club really easy.

In Summary

From start to finish I think the Akron Marathon is easy. It’s easy to get your registration, there are no hassles getting your bib or badass Brooks jacket. If you want to just get in and get out, you can do that too.

Some roads close early on race morning and unless you are aware of them you could get shut out. But race directors do an awesome job of keeping everyone informed of where they need to be and when. The start is super easy, you are never hanging out in a corral for a really long time, and its a big race, so I think thats a success. The finish line flows just as nicely and they never run out of post race refreshments (I’m looking at you, Capital City).

The course is fun and challenging. But not to challenging. You have a wide range of flat and hills, you go through city and neighborhood, and there is usually something to look at. The course support is great, water stops are stocked and bathrooms along the way.

How does the Akron Marathon achieve such awesomeness? Race Directors  Jim Barnett and Jim Chany actually participate in other races in the area. They ask for and value the feedback from runners. They take notes and are aware of what worked at other races and what didn’t. They really do their homework, and it pays off.

Akron is probably my favorite race. Out of 12 half marathons and 3 fulls, I still like this one the best.

Therefore, I give the Akron Half Marathon a 5 out of 5. 

Oh yeah, I went there. A perfect score. So what does that tell you?

That tells you to go to the Akron Marathon website and sign up for 2013 right now. You won’t regret it.

Ever been to the “perfect race?” If not, try Akron, it’s pretty close to being spot on. What was the best run race you’ve been to? The worst? Please share!

Posted in Half Marathon, Race Review, Running | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Chicago Marathon Race Recap – Part 2

(Blogkeeping = a favor! Please vote for me to join Team Refuel! By becoming a member of the team I could gain sponsorship to reach my health and fitness goals while spreading the word on how low fat chocolate milk can play a part in your workout recovery to help refuel your body so it can work at its best! Plus I could win a chance to run the Madrid Marathon! You can vote once a day by clicking here!)  

If you are just joining the program or are just DYING to hear the ending to my Chicago Marathon Race Recap Part 1, you can find it here. Go ahead, get caught up. We’ll all meet up here in the end.

Race morning Alexis and I got up and moving around 5am. Which if you think about it, was 6am given the time change. Bonus. I think we both did our best to follow our usual race morning rituals given that we were not at home and staying in a hotel. I had picked up some bananas and some Lara bars at a market downtown to munch on as a pre-race breakfast.

I stepped through my rituals as best as I could – wake up, bathroom and take Imodium. Has to be on an empty stomach. Brush teeth, do hair (add Fellow Flower) then change. Once Imodium has had some time, grab banana, advil, and hydrate. Breathe.

This time my race morning must do’s included a Nike Pace Team temporary tattoo. Oh yeah, I am awesome.

With the chilly start around 40 degrees, I knew I would need something warm to wear in the corrals and then toss away once we started running. However, with the move, I had unloaded a lot of items from my closet and I really didn’t have anything I was willing to “throw away” on race day. So before coming to Chicago I went to Walgreens and bought an oversized sweatshirt for 5 bucks. Best decision ever.

Alexis and I headed out around 6:20ish and grabbed the L to get to Grant Park in time. There was no confusion as to where you were going. Just follow the sea of runners catching the train. The train car was so packed. I was squashed in like a pancake and some broad got all testy over my drop bag pushing into her. Relax lady, it’s marathon day.

But it was so easy. We only had to ride the train for a few short stops and we were there. Runners poured out of the subway exits and onto the streets. I have never seen so many runners in one place.

We made our way into Grant Park toward the back corrals. I had entered 5 hours as my estimated finish time, a little faster than I knew I could do, but Alexis pushed her estimated time back from a 4:15 to a 4:45 so we could be in the same corral together at the start. That’s team work.

We found the bag drop tent for our corral and then designated a meet up location for after the race before hitting the bathrooms. That’s the good thing about getting to a race early, even if there is a line for the restroom, you have time to wait in it. And we did have plenty of time. Not only did they have letter race corrals, they also had a staggered start. Wheelchairs at 7, first corrals went off at 7:30, and the second wave of corrals went at 8. We were the second to last corral to go.

For being such a large race, it was very well run. The corrals were easy to spot, we found our gear check tent with zero trouble, and after hitting the bathroom room we were able to weave the crowd and get into our corral with plenty of time.

I heard someone complaining as the second wave was preparing to take off that the start was going to slow. But Chicago Marathon race directors had been very up front in their documentation and participant guides that it could take nearly 15 minutes for each wave to make it through the starting line. I had no qualms with how the start went.

In fact, I was excited about it. The anticipation was building, the excitement was electric, it just filled your veins. Each corral even had its own music. As the corral moved forward speakers played music of different genres. It was really cool.

And before I knew it my corral was inching and inching to the start. Suddenly, there it was, we were about to take off. I saw a group of volunteers with donation bags for your throw away clothes so I took off my sweatshirt and donated it, said a little prayer and goodbye to Alexis. See you at the finish, friend.

It was time.

Mile one was a problem. As you cross the starting line the course sends runners under a tunnel. It was nice because the vents in the tunnel were pumping warm air, but my Garmin lost satellite. I was barely even a half mile in and my Garmin tried to tell me that I had run a mile in 7 minutes and 49 seconds. Fail Garmin. So I waited until I reached the real 1st mile, and at the marker I restarted the Garmin. So now, every time I looked at my pace tattoo, I was a mile behind. Math when running is no good. It just got harder as the race went on.

I started ahead of the 5:10 pace group but figured I could keep pace on my own for a while. If you remember, my goal time was a 5:15. But since there was no 5:15 pace group, just a 5:10, I figured that would work. Might not have been the smartest thing to do because my subconscious suddenly wanted a 5:10 finish.

There was so much to look at. So many people. I heard someone say, “Where are all the spectators?” I guess due to the cold weather turnout was low. But for me it was the largest spectator turnout I had ever seen at a race.

There were some pretty fun cheering sections. Churches and high schools came out, most of them wore matching T-shirts. There was even a section of the course where charity tents lines the street with their own cheering teams promoting their charities. Not big businesses, just charities. It was fun to look at all the tents and banners as you cruised by.

I tried to stay as fueled as possible. Trying to take a GU gel or Honey Stingers about every 4 miles. I ate my 2 GU packets first, the first one at mile 5, a little late, and the next just before 10. Then I switched to Honey Stingers, eating 4 at a time. I carried my water belt, just 2 bottles, to stay hydrated and avoid the early water stops that were really crowded.

I noticed around mile 10 my back was bothering me. My back usually hurts when my form breaks down and I knew my form was crappy from the start due to cold feet. Literal cold feet. I knew the second half would be hard if I were all ready getting a stiff back.

Miles 10 – 15 we’re pretty uneventful running wise. I started to chug some around mile 18 and the 5:10 Pace group caught up with me. I stayed with them for as long as I could feeling like if I just stayed with the group, I would be just fine. After a mile I had a moment of clarity and realized, “I started before the 5:10 pace group, if I finish with them I will be behind.” 

So I picked it up. This was not well received by my body. My feet were sore, my hips screamed, and my back had had enough. By mile 22 I was in a dark place.

I ping-ponged between moments of energy and sudden self-loathing. Then, I walked. There was a lot of walking. The final miles of the race are all on the same road. A straight shot to the finish. It seemed never ending. Like dead man walking. Or worse, the walk of shame. People continued to cheer, “You can do it!” “Don’t stop!”

I realized that the crowd was getting thick again and the photographers were out. I knew I had been caught by a couple members of the paparazzi walking and it was a shame I could not bare. So I mustered every last ounce of energy from deep down in my toes and began to run again.

As I turned the corner in the final 800 meters to the finish, I was faced with the only legitimate hill in the entire race. I immediately wanted to beat someone’s ass. Who puts a hill like this at the END of a marathon? Put this shit at mile 6, not mile 26.

But I pushed, I dug deep, and I got up that hill. I charged to the finish line… and when I say charged, I mean a slow and painful 13 minute mile. But in my mind, it was the fastest most amazing final meters ever.

I finished the Chicago Marathon in 5:14:15. Beating my goal time by 45 seconds and another 15 minute marathon PR. Not 5:10, but my original goal nonetheless.

I crossed the finish line and bee lined for the water. Then pushed my way to food and sports drinks. I accepted my medal graciously before throwing myself into the mix for some post race refreshments. Oh yeah, I was THAT runner. But I was afraid I might pass out. Or vomit. Both would be bad in a crowded area.

Goose Island  was there handing out 312 and I grabbed one. It was free to runners so long as they were in the finishers corral. Once you left that area all you had was your one beer ticket. So people just hung out in the finish area drinking beer. I grabbed one beer and went to find Alexis and sit down. I just needed to sit down.

This was a great race. It was flat and exciting. It was well run and in a cool city. I would definitely do it again. Alexis and I went to the post race party for a while and chatted. We enjoyed our free beer and took some pictures. Then my legs started to cramp up so we got walking again and headed to the hotel for hot showers.

It was the most amazing shower I had ever taken.

If you have any desire to run a big race this would be it. I will never qualify for NYC or Boston, so Chicago was my big chance. I would say I nailed it. 

Had an amazing PRs lately? Ever PR’d but still missed a goal? That’s the worst, been there! 

Posted in Marathon, PR's, Race Recap, races, Running | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Skillet Tuna Noodle Casserole: My first ever recipe post!

Didn’t I say I wanted to try and cook more? Cook healthy things? Redefine how I feed myself? I think I did in this post, and I certainly did not delay.

Thanks to an email from one of my favorite food magazines, Eating Well!

This weeks email was fall casseroles made healthy. So I clicked on a couple to see what it was all about. Given the fact that I have not been eating meat for sometime now (for the love of the cow, not dietary reasons), I checked out the veggie and fish (yes, still eat fish) based casseroles, just to see what was up. And I found the recipe for a Tuna Noodle Casserole.

Tuna noodle casserole tends to be made with canned soup and whole milk, which means high fat and sodium. In this recipe, a sort of homemade mushroom soup is created using mushrooms, non-fat milk, and a little flour to thicken it up. I used whole wheat egg noodles and gave it a try.

What You’ll Need: 

  • 8 ounces whole-wheat egg noodles
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups nonfat milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 12 ounces canned chunk light tuna drained
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup coarse dry whole-wheat breadcrumbs

In a large pot bring water to a boil and toss in noodles and cook till tender. Takes about 8 – 10 minutes or so. Maybe a little less depending. I was able to find the whole wheat egg noodles at Giant Eagle, but not without some digging.

Position oven rack in upper 3rd of the oven and preheat to broil.

Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, mushrooms and salt and cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. I got distracted by a screaming smoke detector and might have left them on to long. So be mindful of the veggies.

Add wine and cook until evaporated, 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over the vegetables; stir to coat. It starts to look a little gross at this point, but trust me, it will all turn out ok.

Add milk and pepper and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. After that, toss in your drained tuna. I used one 12oz can. Some readers said they preferred more tuna, I thought 12oz was just enough.

Throw in your peas and 1/2 cup Parmesan until evenly incorporated. Then, stir in the noodles, the pan will be really full and heavy. Remove from the heat.

Sprinkle the casserole with breadcrumbs and the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan. Broil until bubbly and lightly browned on top, 3 to 4 minutes. The whole wheat bread crumbs was the only thing that I couldn’t find. I think Giant Eagle was picked over, so next time I will try another market.

I let it sit for just a couple minutes before serving some out and it was really good. Who knew I could cook something like this?

Nutrition Per serving (had you used whole wheat bread crumbs): 406 calories; 8 g fat ( 3 g sat , 3 g mono ); 53 mg cholesterol; 47 g carbohydrates; 32 g protein;5 g fiber; 684 mg sodium; 593 mg potassium.

I even drank some of the wine with my meal when I was finished. Totally worth it. You might want to play with a few spices, as I found it to be a little on the bland side. I added some salt and pepper and was fine, but maybe you are more creative than I… or actually have spices to try.

An added bonus, it reheats well also!

I reheated some last night for dinner and other than being a little dry, it was still really good. Only this time I paired it with a little bit of a romaine mixture and a dollop of my own Ranch mix. I learned at FitBloggin’ that you can mix a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch dip powder stuff with 16oz of plain Greek yogurt to make a good ranch dip.

And it was good. I am loving this Greek Yogurt business these days!

If you’re a casserole person, get more Fall casserole ideas here.

Enjoy!

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Chicago Marathon Race Recap – Part 1

(A little blogkeeping and a huge favor to ask! Please vote for me to join Team Refuel! By becoming a member of the team I could gain sponsorship to reach my health and fitness goals while spreading the word on how low fat chocolate milk can play a part in your workout recovery to help refuel your body so it can work at its best! Plus I could win a chance to run the Madrid Marathon! You can vote once a day by clicking here!)  

Ha. I bet you thought I was done with recaps!

As if. In fact, my weekend in Chicago was so jammed packed, I am going to have to break this one up into two parts. Trust me, you’ll thank me.

Let me just start out by saying that Chicago, just like all the other traveling I have done as of late, was the bomb. What a cool city. It is really big and overwhelming, but once you kind of familiarize yourself with your surroundings, it gets easier. Now, I only had to familiarize myself with a very small part of Chicago, but still. With the help of my good friend Alexis, I even learned to take the train.

Everything just seems so big here. Good things about Chicago, there is literally a Starbucks on like, every corner. The views from almost anywhere are pretty awesome, and everyone is so fashionable. I love it.

This is a view from our hotel room. My friend and I booked our hotel on Expedia Unpublished deals and got a sweet deal on the Dana Hotel and Spa. It was a modern art deco hotel and had all kinds of sweet furnishings. We got it for a great deal, had a super comfy bed, and were right in the action.

On Friday when I arrived, I met up with Alexis and our friend Ruth to walk around some of the great shopping areas and head to the Expo. Everything in Chicago is like Cleveland on crack. The Walgreens here is huge, 2 stories, and sells food and liquor. The Old Navy is like, 3 stories and awesome. I won’t even start talking about the Target, I will never stop.

(Chicago at night and the outside of the Dana)

Before hitting up the Expo, we enjoyed some complimentary wine at the Burnham where Ruth was staying and then walked to the free Expo shuttle provided for participants only several blocks from the hotel.

The Expo was a short ride away and it was nice not having to take a taxi. The convention center where the actual expo was held was huge. And thus, a huge expo. There were big stations set up for some big names in fitness including Brooks, Saucony, Mizuno, New Balance, Nike, and Northface.

I grabbed my bib and then we weaved our way through the Expo. I of course wanted to hit up the Brooks booth but ended up buying something from Saucony. I also picked up a flower at a booth called Fellow Flowers. Each flower was a different color and that color represented a piece of yourself and what running a race or putting one foot in front of the other meant to you. I chose white and sported the flower for the next 3 days. I saw many women doing the same thing, all different colors with different meanings. It was really cool.

I signed up for runner tracking and and then signed up for a pace team for the first time ever. My race goal was to finish in 5:15. But there was no 5:15 pace group. There was a 5:10 pace group so I figured that would be good enough, if not better.

After that we hit up dinner on Hubbard Ave at a place called Sullivan’s. It had some great food. And some great wine, too. I know that drinking before a race is not a good idea, but I figured since I had Saturday as a buffer day, and if I kept it all in moderation, a couple glasses of wine wouldn’t hurt anyone.

We had some blue cheese chips, some edamame hummus, that sadly wasn’t not that awesome, so we filled that hole in with some banana pudding and vanilla bean ice cream – to DIE for.

After dinner I was pretty tired. Suffering from the 1 hour time change, though not terrible, did kind of give you a hit around 11:30 or so as soon as your body realizes that in Ohio, its actually 12:30 in the morning. So we headed back to the hotel and hit the hay in the most comfortable bed ever.

Saturday in Chicago meant shopping. Alexis and I hit up one of the 7,000 Starbucks coffee shops downtown before grabbing the train and heading to Lincoln Park. Once we got there and hoped off the subway, there were tons of cool shops and restaurants. We had brunch at a little cafe before continuing our stroll.

I got a really cool necklace and a couple of handmade hats from a small boutique called Viktoria’s Closet. The owner explained that most of her items were custom made and that she works with designers in Chicago, most had come from other countries to pursue their fashion careers and she usually only gets 1 or 2 pieces of each item. The necklace I got was a total “must have” and was the only one of its kind in the store.

After walking a few blocks I saw a fitness store of some kind I wanted to stop in. Once inside I started looking at all the tank tops and yoga pants and half zip running shirts. It wasn’t long before something caught my eye. I turned to Alexis and said, “Oh my god. We are in a LuLuLemon.” I had completely overlooked that famous logo.

I have never been to one before but kind of made it a goal, if you will, to own one Lululemon item some day. Today was my day. I could feel it.  And I found a hoodie I LOVED. Of course, they didn’t have my size. Sad. So what did I do? I ordered it. And it is on its way right now. It’s like a little piece of Chicago will be showing up at my apartment very very soon.

On our way back to the train we passed a small cupcake shop. I got excited and pointed out the cupcakes to Alexis. We walked past to make a pit stop and I let Alexis know that I would just be lying to myself if I didn’t stop in for a cupcake. I can’t help myself sometimes!

We stopped into Swirlz Cupcakes and tried a sample of the Pumpkin before I chose the Bitter Sweet Chocolate cupcake. I am a sucker for some chocolate. Don’t you just love the 26.2 frosting?

After Lincoln Park we relaxed our legs for a while before hitting Quartino next to the hotel for a Pasta Dinner. The place was packed but Alexis and I got right into the bar and ordered. However, the food never came. And its not like the service sucked, the bartender was really cool. The kitchen was just an epic fail. Once we finally got all our food, the meal was free. Can’t beat that.

Then it was bed time.

Race morning was so exciting. I was up, I was moving, and ready to go. I almost can’t hold in the rest of this recap. But then it would just be a painfully long post. So we will get into to all the pain and all the joys in round 2. So stand by!

Posted in Marathon, Race Expos, Race Recap, races, Running, Shopping | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Facing fears, moving on, and putting myself out there

I have had a pretty busy 4 weeks. And it has been a month with all kinds of ups and downs. Who doesn’t have roller coaster months? Everyone has a hard time every now and then. My month of craziness ended yesterday with my return from Chicago, so this should segue nicely into a little Chicago Marathon recap.

And though I have had a fun and exciting month, it did not come without it’s hardships. I had been living in a sort of bubble for a long time. Running, working, riding my horse. That’s about it. I have my friends and we do things sometimes and everything seemed ok. But sometimes things change. And change can be hard.

Big change began when I started to look for a new apartment. I recently moved as a result of a break-up and it was something I struggled to talk about. I have talked on my blog about my boyfriend in the past and it may or may not have occurred to the few readers that I have, that I haven’t been talking about him as of late. When a break up happens, how do you let the people around you, who have known you as a couple for so long, know that you are just a single now? No more double? Its a tough trail to blaze.

On top of feeling sad, angry, and confused, I was overwhelmed and anxious. I didn’t understand why what was happening was happening to me. What had I done wrong? And how much was this going to suck? I mean, I had nothing when leaving the home I had lived in for two years. I didn’t have a couch, a dining room table, or main furniture pieces. I felt I was literally starting over, and it was pretty painful.

Every time I drove back to Berea before I moved I thought to myself, “I will never eat on the Triangle again… I will never run in this metro park.” It was really hard to separate all the things I was going to lose with what was lost as couple. Needless to say the confusion and frustration perpetuated.

Suddenly, I started to feel bad about myself. I didn’t really have anyone to talk to about it. I didn’t want to be the one who just blurted out the news. I have been just sitting on those feelings and not really sharing them. That can really eat away at a person.

And then I remembered this photo I had seen on another blog a long time ago, and I finally embraced it. Because I am. I am going to be ok.

Think about it, I have really put myself out there in so many ways, especially recently. I went to the FitBloggin’ conference by myself. I introduced myself to people and made friends on my own. I learned 100 different things to improve myself and what I love. It was so worth it, and even at 30 years old, I feel like I grew.

I ran a serious half marathon PR during all the stress and anxiety. I wanted to run my heart out at the Akron Half Marathon and I did it. I PR’d by a huge 5 minutes, and though I didn’t get my half marathon time goal for the year, I still feel good about what I have done. And I know I will get it eventually.

I went to Chicago and ran my 3rd marathon. I have run 3 marathons in 2 years and I had never run a step in my life prior to 2010. And not only did I run a marathon in Chicago, I did as Chicago-ans did.

I rode the L train. BY MYSELF. I got myself to and from the airport. I hailed cabs. I braved airports (one of my biggest fears) twice in 2 weeks. That is amazing for me. I have a fear of not knowing what I am doing, feeling overwhelmed by it, and making mistakes. And being on my own again forced me to take care of myself because no one else will. It was liberating.

So, have I had a fun month? Yes. Was it a really hard month? An even bigger yes. But will I move into this next month with new goals and ambitions? You betcha. Sometimes that’s just life.

So what’s coming down the pipe line for this girl?

Well, I just ran marathon #3 (recap coming really soon) and am slated to run marathon #4 in only 3 weeks. I was actually thinking to myself as I hit mile 23 on the Chicago marathon that there was no way in HELL I was going to run Run with Scissors in 3 weeks, but maybe I will.

I’ve got someone helping me with my blog and we are gonna go self hosted! I am ready to get my things in order and really define what my blog has become. And I am excited about it.

I have been very inspired by reading the posts and recaps of some of my favorite FitBloggin’ bloggers and am looking forward to trying their workouts and recipes. I am hoping to share some of this with my own readers and share the love. I want to do more strength training and become a stronger person. I want to do more yoga and really become in-tune with my inner voice. Oh yeah, we’re going granola over here.

I am going to be working on myself from the inside out. Rather than just dying my hair a new color and buying some expensive boots.

Watch out world, here I come.

How do you handle the big changes in your life? Do you embrace change or fight it? Got any big changes in the works? I want to hear them! We’re in this together!

Posted in Fellow Bloggers, Friends, Happy Things | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

Chicago bound and my final race weight recap!

It’s time. It’s Chicago Marathon time! In only a few hours I will be on board a plane to Chicago for the largest marathon I will probably ever run. I am pretty excited about running this huge race. I mean, its probably the only big city race I will ever run. I will never qualify for Boston, and what are the chances I’d win the lottery at NYC. So Chicago is about it.

MTC1 – Akron Marathon

In preparation for this big day, I made the decision to NOT gain weight during this training cycle. Also known as Marathon Training Cycle 3 (MTC3). I gained weight after my first few half marathons and when I trained for my first full, I saw it as my big chance to lose the pounds. Um, yeah, didn’t happen.

During MTC1, I didn’t lose a single pound. Not one. So I tried again during my second round of marathon training but with far less gumption than before. And guess what, I didn’t lose any weight then either.

Surprise! You actually have to WORK at that kind of thing.

MTC2 – Toledo Glass City

So, I committed to making things right during MTC3 and rejoined weight watchers 14 weeks ago. Due to travel to Red Bank, Baltimore and then West Virginia, I missed 2 weigh ins. And therefore, failed to report anything. Sorry. Sometimes life gets in the way.

But tonight I had my final “Race Weight” weigh in. My goal on race day was to have lost 10 pounds. That is totally do able in 14 weeks. But insanely hard for a runner. I mean, I eat a lot before and after long runs and often did not track my food intake during these extra long run days. Not to mention that on long runs I actually ingest calories as I run. It’s hard to burn calories when you are pumping them back in while in the act of cardio. The life of a marathon runner I guess.

But without further adieu, my final results:

Today’s weigh-in: Down 1.4 pounds (should have been way more given I missed two weeks)

Total loss during training = 8.4lbs. 

I would have liked to see that 10 pounds. I would have loved to see even more. But I guess given my marathon training, I am just glad I was able to lose anything. I hear fellow runners say all the time how they gained or maintained. So I think I beat some odds here.

(This is how I feel sometimes. It made me chuckle.) 

With my training at its best and 8 pounds down, I think I am doing pretty good. I feel fit, I feel faster, I feel like I am going to have a good race. Do I feel totally awesome going into this doosey of a marathon? No. But I never do. I am always a little nervous.

From what I have been hearing, its going to be cold on Sunday at the start of the race. Like, in the 30’s cold. So I am struggling with what to wear. I just hope that no matter what happens, it ends up getting a little warmer as the race wears on.

Friday I’ll hit the expo and the use Saturday to maybe check out the sights. Hopefully without tiring my legs to much. Saturday night will be pasta dinner and then Sunday after the race will be a fun-free for all, depending on how tired I am . I am assuming I will be pretty tired. But we will see.

I will be checking in, promise.

Good luck to anyone running this weekend! And good luck to my NEO Fit friends running and working the Towpath Marathon on Saturday! 

Posted in Diet and exercise, Marathon, Race Weight Recap, Running | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments