Akron Half Marathon Race Recap

I am just the queen of recaps these days. But its been such a busy month, there are so many things to recount here!

This past Saturday was the 10 year anniversary of the Akron Marathon. And my 3rd year running an Akron race. I ran the half in 2010, the full in 2011, and the half again this year. It is probably my favorite race.

On Friday afternoon I met NEO Fit at Luigi’s in Akron for a pasta lunch before we all went to the Expo to pick up our packets. Akron always has a pretty good Expo. It was well organized and there were a lot of vendors. They set it up so you weave through following the blue line to resemble the line you follow on the course. I like that Akron has the blue line claim to fame. I think its neat.

I stopped at a couple tables to check out the merch and bought a t-shirt that just said “I’m a Runner” in a fun font. For 20 bucks, you can’t beat it. I mean, I am a runner after all. It was fitting. Usually I like to buy a peice of race merchandise for each one I run, but this year, I felt everything was really expensive. An Akron Marathon embroidered Brooks winter half zip was 90 freaking dollars. It was cute as hell, but I passed.

Then I stopped at the Pittsburgh marathon table and signed up for their full marathon in May 2013. I stood at this table for a long time debating it. I wasn’t sure if it was smart but the Pittsburgh locals at the table layed on the pressure. Then Coach Lori signed up so I took the plunge. It runs just 2 weeks before I run Cleveland’s full. I am an idiot. I’ll tell ya, I just can’t stop. Feel free to smack me when you see me.

Saturday morning I rolled out of my hotel room bed and got ready for the race. My mom and I stayed in Fairlawn to ease our drive time to Akron. Most roads close at 6:00am so we wanted to beat any headache. I was super tired when I got to the parking garage, but as soon as I stepped out of the car, the electricity got me. I love how Akron can bring that out of you, and why I keep coming back year after year.

I headed to the starting line area and met up with some of the running club. It was cold. Really cold actually. I didn’t over dress so I was perfect for when the race actually started, but standing there, I was really chilly. My feet and hands were the worst, they felt numb and stiff. But I was still excited. It’s Akron Marathon day!

I met up with my friend Kate who was running her first ever half marathon, and we merged into the start corrals and found our friend Ed. It’s always nice to have someone to start the race off with.

Being the 10 year anniversary, the corral starts were sent off with a firework display that was pretty cool. I thought you had to go to a Disney race and pay out the ass then stand around for 45 minutes to get a sweet firework show, but you don’t. You can save yourself 100 dollars and just run Akron! Its a better race anyhow. I was already feeling the buzz but the fireworks really sealed the deal. And then we were off.

I had promised myself that I was not going to “race” this race. I wanted to take it slow and casual since it was part of my final taper for Chicago on the 7th. But I kind of thought in the back of my mind, “If I am feeling good, maybe we will see what I can do.”

Miles 1 and 2 were pretty dense. The Akron Marathon has grown quite a bit over the years so the pack stayed thick for longer than I expected. We made our first pass over the Y bridge and got warmed up. I stayed with Kate who was pacing her first race very well. And she kept me calm and at a good pace too so I didn’t run out of gas. Just before mile 2 there was an ambulance helping a collapsed runner. Something must have happened if he was out at the first 2 miles. I never heard though, I hope hes ok.

It wasn’t until mile 3 or 4 that I started to warm up. My feet had been cold before the start so running on my numb feet felt hard and stiff. My finger tips tend to take a while to warm up too even when the rest of my body as finally found warmth. At mile 4.5 I ate some of my Honey Stingers to keep fueled. I’m not sure if I totally needed them yet, but I forgot my S-Caps so I wanted to make sure I was taking in something to balance my electrolytes. At mile 5 Kate seemed to be doing well so I told her I was gonna try and pick it up.

And did I. I said goodbye to Kate, wished her luck, and started to cruise. I noticed my pace had gone from somewhere in the 11’s to somewhere in the low 10’s. I willed myself to slow down at mile 6, but the next check of my watch, I was still plowing through the miles. I actually started to look forward to a hill just to humble my pace.

The spectator turnout at this race is always amazing. Local marching bands come out and play for runners, there was a reggae band jaming near mile 10 or so. And there are always good signs and posters. Best sign had a picture of Ryan Gosling on it. His abs are pure motivation. The sign I hate the most but see at every race, the “Worst Parade Ever” sign. I hate that one. I don’t get it, I don’t think its funny, and if you don’t like this “parade,” go into your house and watch some Maurey. But that’s just me.

Mile 8 or so goes through the campus of Akron University. I love how many students come out to watch and I even saw a funny sign that said, “Mare-a-Thong?” and had a picture of a horse winking in her thong. I wish I had taken a picture, but at this point, I was on a mission. There is a decline here that sets you up for the second trip over the Y bridge, and I used to to my advantage.

I was totally going to PR.

Miles 10 and 11 were almost a blur. I was running some of my fastest miles ever for the distance. The girl who runs 11:30’s and 12 minute miles on a slow day was running low 10 minute mile paces. I was smashing it and liking it.

Back into the city for the final mile has a couple of hills and I started to really labor as I looked at my watch. It has been my goal all year to hit 2:20:00. I had several failed attempts over the season to. I did bring my PR from a 2:27 to a 2:26, but that was it. No where near my 2:20 goal. But on this day, I realized I might just make it.

As I reeled in the final mile I saw my mom near the finish line. I swung right to give her a high five when a man on a bike barked at me to get out of the way. I jumped left as the lead male marathoner sped by. That guy was about to win the marathon in the same amount of time it takes me to run a PR half marathon.

That’s why running is awesome. People can do amazing things.

I came through the finish just a minute and 47 seconds shy of my 2:20 goal. It was a little bit of a bummer, but not to terrible because I still PR’d. And by 5 minutes too. That is nothing to scoff at.

The finish line is on the baseball field at canal park and is well run. There is always enough food and beer for each runner at the Akron Marathon which I love too. I got my medal and my hat and my chocolate milk. Then, for the first time in 3 years, I cashed in my 2 beers. I had never done that before. A beer before 10am and after a long run was just what I needed.

Just outside the field race organizers had parked a Kia that was decorated in Akron colors and logo. Any runner that pre-registered got their name on the car. I don’t know why it was relevant other than Kia must have been a big sponsor, but I still thought it was cool. I had to find my name.

Oh yeah. How cool am I?

Akron is really an awesome race. That could be part of the reason I ran my little heart out on Saturday. I just hope that my final taper run before Sunday’s marathon didn’t burn me out to much.

I suppose I am beyond worry at this point, there is no turning back now. I am Chicago bound in just 2 days!

Struggle to not PR? Anyone else run a good race this weekend? Tell me about it!

Posted in Half Marathon, Marathon Training, NEO Fit, PR's, Race Recap, Running | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

FitBloggin’ Recap Part 3: The Final Chapter – Plus Giveaway Winner!

If you didn’t have a chance to read part 1 and part 2 of my FitBloggin’ recap, feel free to check them out!

I learned a lot at the FitBloggin’ conference. I learned all about myself, blogging, fitness, and other people. I tried to cover everything that I encountered while I was in Baltimore in my last two Recaps, so this final chapter of what I learned, I will share my major takeaways.

With an entire week has gone by since I landed in Cleveland after 7 days in two of the neatest cities I have been to in a long time, I have had some time to reflect on what I learned at FitBloggin’ this year.

So here are a couple of the major things I learned at FitBloggin’:

1.) As an emotional eating food addict, I hold the key my weight loss/control success. This seems obvious. I mean, no one is shoving that fro-yo down my throat, I do it to myself. But at Friday night’s Ignite Keynote Presentations, Shira Miller did a presentation on staying in control. I wish these were posted because a week later I can’t remember what it was called or the whole speech, but I do know that I walked away inspired.

(this pic is not of Shira’s presentation, but it cracked me up so I had to share.)

Shira was an amazing speaker. It was so fluid and on target. You couldn’t help but take something away from the slide show. And this is what I learned, I have to take the right steps in controlling my weight goals, and here is what Shira suggests –

Understand you Nemeses: I know that I have a sweet tooth. Candy and baked goods will get me everytime. I have trigger foods, if I eat something really salty then I know I will want a dessert afterwards. It never fails.

Plan for it: Plan your own meals. Obvs. I need to pack more and stop eating out. Salty calorie loaded foods only make me want cake. So I need to better plan my meals for healthy alternatives.

Control Your Exposure: STOP DRIVING BY LEMONBERRY! If I drive by the fro-yo place, I will stop for fro-yo. Just take a different route home. If I am feeling hungry after the barn, the only 2 places to eat on the fly are Wendy’s and Sheetz. I need to just take another route and stay away from those places until I can get home and make a sandwich!

Drop the Remorse: This was a big one for me. I beat myself up for hours and hours after eating something bad. I feel so guilty. I feel the guilt before I even put the donut in my mouth. I need to get off the guilt train and just move on after a mistake. Thats my plan.

2.) Fitness should be FUN! Not that running isn’t fun, I love to run. But I am a PR junkie. Even during a fun run I want my times and my pace to be just a little bit better than the last time. Run a race just to run it with no goal in mind? Whew, that’s tough. It’s hard for me not to cross the starting line without thinking, “Could I get a PR today?”

PR being a personal record, that is. I always want my races (usually anything with an official time) to be better than the last one. I don’t think thats totally crazy. Some people think its bad to be a chronic PR chaser, but in my mind, I am not fast. I have a long way to go to my goal marathon time (a 4:15:00), so why shouldn’t each race be better than the last?

But this whole mentality that, if the workout didn’t hurt and make me miserable then it didn’t do anything, is silly. The inability to walk the next day is not a direct reflection on how many calories I burned. Yes, I want to push myself past my comfort zones, but I can have fun too.

Like during JumpSport and Zumba. So, I have made a promise to myself that I will attempt to do or take one “fun” fitness class a week. I am going to find a local Zumba studio and try that out, but also I would like to go back to Spin class too. At very least, I would like to get back to my Friday Lunch Hour Yoga. I want to LIKE working out, not always viewing it as a means to an end.

3.) Self-hosting is a must. Hanging out with some many bloggers all weekend I got to see some cool websites. Some sweet layouts and some kick ass logos. Not that I don’t like my little WordPress page, I would just love to have a little logo to define my brand and translate well to a business card.

All these things can be done with theme editors and plug-ins, all of which are not possible with my basic site. I need to pay for my own piece of a larger server and really own my own content. Wouldn’t want to get shut down for no reason.

With this change though, you are going to see some changes too, readers. One, I will probably look into a new Web Address. “Aity,” though a perfectly acceptable acronym for Am I There Yet, does not read well to google. Plus, it confuses some people. I will not be leaving my “Am I There Yet” persona behind. Just updating it. So watch out with for that.

I have an old friend that is going to work with me on this project and after it’s all said and done, I will hand out his info like candy so you can have sweet designs also! So stand by for the switch to a self-hosted site!

4.) I am a nice and fun person. Shocking right? I know. But I am. I think I am fun. I am pretty nice as well. I was so nervous on day one of FitBloggin’ I figured that I would probably go to the sessions I wanted and spend the rest of my nights in my hotel room. But that didn’t happen.

I just reached out to a couple of cool people (Lauren and Kelly) and everything just snowballed from there. All of a sudden I was introducing myself to people, hanging out at different tables, drinking wine and discussing music with some awesome personalities. I am kind of a fun person, who knew?

This all goes hand in hand with that self-acceptance seminar I blubbered my brains out at. I don’t know why I struggle to be ok with who I am, as I am, right now. Hearing other peoples stories and struggles was very inspiring and I think it helped me really open up. It was good that they held that discussion early in the weekend.

With my final thoughts finally being pushed out into the atmosphere, I can’t help but to feel excited all over again. What an awesome experience. The next FitBloggin’ conference is going to be held in Portland and I looked at Kayak to check the average flight price. It is NOT cheap. But you know what, I will probably save my dollars and go. Or try and really step outside my box and maybe be a presentor. Maybe even take everything I learned on monetizing your pitch and see if a company will sponsor me. Who knows. I am a fun and nice person, you know 🙂

And NOW! for the giveaway winner!

The winner is…

Jen! From Why CLE?

Shoot me an email with your address and I’ll mail out your fabulous prize! You will also be getting some extra goodies in your swag bag just for playing! Thanks for participating in my first ever giveaway! Good thing to get in on the first one, because when I become awesome everyone will want in on this shit.

Enjoy!

Posted in Blogging, Fellow Bloggers, FitBloggin, Giveaway | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

FitBloggin’ Recap Part 2: Presentations and Discussions

(A little blogy Reminder! Don’t forget to sign up for your chance to win a couple freebies from the FitBloggin’ sponsors on my Recap Part 1 post! Everyone loves a good yoga DVD! You have till Sunday for a chance to win!)

If you’re just joining us, check out Part 1 of my FitBloggin’ recaps! We talked about the location and all the cool people, but thats not why I signed up. Initially at least.

You see, I started blogging after spending months and months reading. Then I finally built up the courage to start my own little blog. I signed up on wordpress, gave it a name, and that was it. Other than that, I had no idea how to “blog.” I tried to take notes at my favorite sessions, luckily there are live blogs for me to reflect back on!

There were a couple sessions that I was particularly intersted in:

Using Social Media to Drive Blog Traffic. If it weren’t for the blog, I probably would have never signed up for Twitter. I didn’t get it, I had no desire to use it, so I just avoided it. But then I learned that Twitter was a good thing to have for my Blog life. So I signed up. Until then, I used facebook, and that was it.

I learned in this session, I should probably be using Pinterest. And that there are a ton of tools out there to boost my mediocer social media savviness, like Pinerly, HootSuite, and TweetDeck. If you don’t have TweetDeck, check into it. Its pretty awesome. I can’t actually have it until I upgrade my operating system, but I saw it on other people’s computers and it helps optimize your tweeting, organizing hashtags and followers, and more.

Mainly I learned to keep content engaging and give readers something they want to follow. Don’t fill up their twitter and news feeds with repeat tweets about why they should read your post. Key points:

Who: Who is your audience? #hashtags
What: What is your message? Description
When: When is the best time to share?
Where: What networks will you share with?
Why: What is your intention? Comments, traffic, more shares, etc.
How: What is the easiest way for you to share your content (Manually, syndicated, both?) (source: Live Blog by Missionmeltdown)

Building Your Brand: At first, I didn’t even know what having a brand meant. I had to ask a super blogger like Carla from MizfitOnline what her brand was before I really understood it. So this session was kind of a must for me.

But also for anyone who wants to drive more traffic, create content with ease and avoid that writers block! For anyone who wants to increase their presence online and give their space a little more meaning, and I sure do. My little running/travel/horse blog has turned into a fitness blog and I need to harness that in my “brand.”

To help me define my brand I need to:

  • Know who my target audience is.
  • Dive into insights using analytics like Sprout Social –  best social media management ever created.
  • Create a personification of my brand: favorite color? Age? Develop my “voice” based on my target audience. (For more tips see the Live Blog by Molly)

I am definitely defined by my “Am I There Yet?” persona. I think at least. I would say my brand is all about progress. Making progress on the road, making progress on the scale, and always progressing my marathon time. That’s why I always feel, am I there yet? I would say thats my brand. Now I need to reach my readers in that respect through my blog.

Which brings me to A Better Blog Design on a Budget. I was also excited about this session because I read all these blogs with cool layouts and logos and I want that too. I learned a few things about defining your design.

You don’t want to make your readers think to much, you want your content to be easy and self-explanatory. Speed is essential, you want your readers to know where they can go next, how to find something, and to stay consistent. And lots of ads are bad. Lots of flashing, blinking, side bars are bad. Thank goodness, because I doubt any company would want to advertise on my site anyway.

There are great web developing tools out there and a lot of places to get free themes for your blog, change your colors, and even free hosting. I was pretty intense on this subject because I would really like to bring my site to life. And when it was all said and done, I learned something very valuable.

I learned I can’t do a lot of the things I want because I don’t self-host. Waaah, waaaaah….. Yeah, sad face. I can’t add plug-ins or use premium themes because I don’t self-host. I used WordPress to host my site, which is a free service. Yes, I own my web address aityblog.com, but I don’t pay a web hosting company like GoDaddy or BlueHost a monthly fee for my own space of x-amount of bandwidth. Therefore, I don’t have certain capabilities.

So, no major blog changes until I change servers. You will know when this happens, readers, because more changes will come with it! Stand by!

I also sat in on Alicia of Poise In Parma‘s presentation Taking your Online Community Offline. Not just because I had to Cleveland represent, but because I was curious. I mean, I attended Ohio Blogging Association meet ups, but how did it all get started?

Alicia did excellent on her presentation. And as always she was relatable and engaging. I think that she really inspired others to reach out to bloggers in their neighborhoods and communities and actually meet those that you converse with online everyday. She offered ideas and tools to achieve a good meet up, and that you don’t need an event planner to do it. Just a location and a few easy online tools. Like facebook! Where would we be without facebook?

There were also some Discussions you could attend. They were less lecture like and more of an open forum with 4 microphones around the room as well as a handheld to pass around.

I attended two discussions, first was Self-acceptance and weight loss. This discussion gave everyone an opportunity to talk about how they felt about their body image and how they gained self-acceptance. I was so moved by some of the stories I heard from those around me I got very teary for the start.

Alicia (Cleveland! Woop, woop!) stood up and shared her story on weight loss and how she maintains everyday. She has a great story, you should check her out. I sat and listened not planning on saying much when the question was posed “do you think self-acceptance means you give up?”

The conversation flowed from one point to another I felt I needed to share my thoughts on exercise and running. I tend to unfold close to race day and lose trust in the fact that I can do it. I get close to marathon day and just see failure in my future even though I am more than prepared for it. This conversation lead to some of my insecurities and before I knew it, I was crying like a baby admitting to the entire room that I struggle with self-acceptance and that I am desperately looking for it sometimes. And it felt amazing.

This was a discussion that ended to quickly and a few people even approached me after it was over. I learned I need to trust myself more and to just know that self-acceptance will come. Just like everything else, it takes time.

The second discussion I went to, I went in the middle of since it overlapped with something else. The Business of Blogging sounded like it would be interesting but by the time I had gotten in there, the discussion got out of hand. People were nabbing the mic as others waited in line, it was more of a “hear me!” free-for-all than a discussion like the Self-Acceptance earlier that morning.

When a girl asked what to do if she could not blog for an extended period of time, and if she would lose readers or not, someone said, and I quote, “No one will miss you, it’s not like you are Diane Sawyer, get over yourself.” This was said only moments before another person said, “I hate blogs.” Seriously. She said that.

So this discussion was a little crazy and I didn’t understand where it was going. But, I have to say, I was thoroughly entertained!

These are definitely not the only sessions I attended. I attended the How to find success as a freelance writer with Carla from MizfitOnline. I don’t know if I will ever do freelance work for large sites, but I would love to do some guest posts and meet other blogger/readers.

I also sat in on Monitizing through the Pitch with Kelly Olexa, founder of #FitFluential. Honestly, the only thing I remember about her presentation was that she was absolutely hysterical. She talked about how to pitch and how not to. What to ask for and what not to ask for, and provided examples of the asinine requests and pitches she received. I laughed the entire time. If you get to attend any speaking engagements where she is presenting, go. No joke.

It was a weekend of serious learning. We will talk about all my key takeaways in Recap Part 3. Oh yeah, 3 parts and the final one is the best!

Are you interested in blog design or driving traffic using SEO? Already in-tune with you analytics? What session would you have liked to attend?

Posted in Blogging, Fellow Bloggers, FitBloggin, Friends | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Reality means Routine

(Blogy Reminder! Don’t forget to enter to win some freebies from the Fitbloggin’ sponsors on my Recap Part 1 post! I have plenty to pass out! You can enter up until Sunday Sept. 30 at 11:59pm)

After a week away from home, routine is the name of the game.

Still riding high post-FitBloggin fun, I am struggling to get my head in the game. I left on Monday morning last week and hopped a plane to Red Bank, NJ. And where this was still work, it didn’t feel to much like it.

I work with some really great people. They might not be my immediate co-workers, but that’s what is so cool about my job. I get to meet all kinds of people throughout this large company that I might not ever meet if it weren’t for my position. And 98% of the time, the people I encounter are pretty great. I even had a Vice President in my class and still managed to do ok.

Plus, Red Bank was the coolest little city. I felt like I was on vacation. I ran outside and ate on patios and did a bit of shopping. That doesn’t feel to much like work. Then I flitted off to Baltimore for what was probably hands down, one of the coolest things I have ever done. FitBloggin’ of course.

So now I am back in Ohio and trying to settle back into my usual daily activities. And I have to admit, its really difficult.

I landed in Cleveland sometime around 4:30 or so and when I got home I was alone. No one was around, it was quiet, and Cleveland was cold. I left 75 degrees and sunny at the Inner Harbor for 56 and overcast. Only my kitties were home to greet me. They were super excited, crying at me and circling my ankles, and that made me happy. But I felt sad that I had gone from being surrounded by such warmth for a week and had come home to nothing.

I feel really separated from my running group for some reason. Like I haven’t seen them in forever. But I only missed a week. I spent some time catching up on the NEO Fit group page on Facebook just to see how everyone was doing with their running. I am looking forward to meeting up with everyone this weekend. But I had to go back and read up on the plans, I felt out of the loop.

I didn’t do a long run while I was FitBloggin either. Just the 5 miles with Lauren on Sunday really. So I need to get back into a running routine. I have devised a little plan in my head to get my legs primed and ready for the Akron Half Marathon on Saturday. It felt weird giving myself a Monday off to recover from workouts that were not running. My ass still hurts from the trampoline workout on Saturday!

(source)

I did go and see Grady. He seemed happy. He was muddy so I got him cleaned up and picked his feet. His chest is doing so much better and we got in good arena workout for the first time in 2 weeks. It is still my game plan to go to the Chagrin Dressage Show October 13th, but I had to plan a lesson so we don’t go looking like fools and it was hard for me to wrap my head around the schedule.

What is it about vacation brain that makes getting your life back on track so hard? My mind is still in Baltimore and I don’t want to let it go. Being away I had successfully avoided some painful and difficult things going on in my life, like moving out of the house I have lived in for 2 years. I feel so stressed post-Baltimore.

Plus! Chicago is coming up really soon! Will I ever get a full week in my own bed? I leave for Whitehall West Virginia on Wednesday and then the following week I head to Chi-town for the Chicago Marathon. It is hard to grasp that reality for some reason.

(source)

PANIC!

Less that two weeks away.

I made myself go into the office today and I am taking a riding lesson later. Then I will run on a familiar route before showering and heading to bed. Then I will get up, pick up my rental car, and head out for another couple days of travel. Come home and before I know it, my mom will be here and it will be Akron Marathon day.

I will move out of this house and into my new apartment the very same day and hopefully get that feeling of home again.

Or, I could just quit at everything and live in the Inner Harbor forever. Oh, daydreams…

How do you come back from vacation brain? How do you find your routine again? I am so open to suggestions!

Posted in Fellow Bloggers, FitBloggin, Marathon Training, NEO Fit, Running | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

FitBloggin’ Recap Part 1: Fitness, Fun, Friends and A Giveaway!

Greetings from Cleveland! 

No more Red Bank, NJ and no more Baltimore, MD. I had such an awesome week at both places but I am kind of happy to be at home in my own bed and hanging with my kitties. I was pretty sad to leave my FitBloggin’ little bubble, but I know that reality had to come eventually. The good thing is I get to relive my experience in what will be a three part recap series!

Oh yeah, 3 whole posts on FitBloggin. What I did, what I learned, and guess what! Even a couple of giveaways! So keep reading so you don’t miss a single second.

First, lets talk location.

FitBloggin’ this year (and its previous 2 years) was held in the amazing Inner Harbor in Baltimore, MD. Just another super awesome city that I would DIE to live in and sadly cannot afford to.

A vibrant and bustling city full of professionals, runners, families, and plenty of things to do. Being right on the water, there are all kinds of boat tours and water crafts for rent. There were also a ton of restaurants to chose from. Steak houses, healthy eating cafes, sushi and other seafood restaurants. You want it, its right there in the Inner Harbor. There was even a Starbucks right across the street from the hotel which saw a lot of my business. You’re welcome, Starbucks.

You know what else Baltimore had? Shopping. TONS of shopping. We went for a walk on Friday night (well, more like a hunt for cupcakes. But the walking helped us feel better about the cupcake hunt) and went to The Gallery that was full of stores including Banana Republic and unique Inner Harbor boutiques.

If you have any interest in visiting the Baltimore area for any reason, I highly suggest the Inner Harbor. Awesome time, home of the Orioles and the Ravens, cool bars, and amazing sight seeing.

Next up, Fitness.

Well, it is FitBloggin’ after all! Virtually every blogger in attendence wrote a blog that inspired a healthy life style. Whether you write about running, healthy eating and/or cooking, general workouts, weight loss, maintaining weight loss, life balance, self-acceptance, whatever, FitBloggin’ is for you. With 200+ like minded people all at one conference, the weekend fitness schedule and menu definitely matched.

There were Weight Watcher sponsored breakfasts, Chocolate Milk and the Refuel Team provided post workout refreshments. SoyJoy and Laughing Cow were there to bring you a healthy snack for between sessions. And you didn’t have to feel badly about what you ate. So long as you watched your portions, of course.

Like I said in Saturday’s post, there were plenty of fitness classes to chose from. Friday’s fitness fun consisted of Yoga, a boot camp style workout, and CrossFit. I LOVE yoga. So I went and spent some time on my (awesome swag freebie!) mat Friday morning. Amanda from Grow Soul Beautiful even offered a yoga photo booth so you could strike your favorite pose.

Saturday I really pushed it. I got my butt beat at the JumpSport workout. With intense intervals that flipped between the trampoline and a floor exercise, I was sweating up a storm and today I am extremely sore. My body is not used to that amount of core work (shame!) or things like gorilla squats and burpees.

I jumped (pun totally intended!) from there to the Zumba class and even though I had no idea what I was doing and was barely following any of the movements, I really was blown away by the enthusiasm that goes into a Zumba Fitness class. The music was fun and I still moved my feet even when I was completely lost.

Sunday was the FitBloggin’ 5k. We ran a really pretty loop on part of the harbor and past some awesome apartments and condos on the water. Other than a couple so-so parts, the route also ran down Charles Street which had shops, spas, cafes, and bars as well before ending back at the harbor. You could run or walk the course and everyone was encouraged to do it. According to FitBloggin’ brain child, Roni Noone, it was the largest FitBloggin’ 5k yet.

My hotel roomie Lauren of Mostly I Run and I even ran a few extra miles after the 5k. Lauren is an amazing runner and way faster than I am. But she pushed me to move and I even got a 9:56 mile in there somewhere. I was so sore when I started the run from JumpSport, but I actually loosened up after a mile or so. It is true, that sometimes the best remedy for workout soreness is another workout.

Third on this journey, Our Friends the Sponsors. 

FitBloggin’ had some awesome sponsors this year. I am sure their sponsors are awesome every year, but I am so glad to have been part of this round of sponsors.

The two biggies being McCormick Spices for Health. There was even a McCormick off site tour of not their factory, but another location where healthy cooking demos were created for participants using their spices. Sadly since I was driving in from New Jersey in the afternoon I missed this. But, McCormick gave some awesome gifts I got to partake in! I got a ton of delicious spices and some really nice metal measuring spoons.

The next big sponsor was Reebok. Oh yeah, Reebok. And they gave some killer swag! I got a gym bag, a tank top, a @Reebok t-shirt, and a pair of their Flex shoes. They hosted an info table, the CrossFit class, spoke at the 5K and offered all kinds of support all weekend. It was really cool.

Other sponsors included, Weight Watchers Cheese, Maple Syrup Producers Quebec, Refuel Chocolate Milk, Florida Grapfruit, JumpSport Fitness Trampoline, Egg-land’s Best, SoyJoy, Nature Made, BistroMDAnchor Bay Entertainment, Pop Chips (YUM!), Puravit, BiPro, Zone Perfect, American Cancer Society DetermiNation, Beef (the Beef Checkoff), Attune Foods, Its Good To Know for butter spreads, and FitMixer.

WHEW. That was a lot. And I got a TON of free goodies! Which I totally get to share with you. Yep, keep reading!

And finally, saving the best for last, MY new friends.

I was super nervous as the conference approached. I was really worried about not knowing a soul. I think that I am a fun and outgoing person but I struggle to really put myself out there sometimes and just walk up to someone and say hello.

I arrived on Thursday evening, to late for the McCormick tour, and just at the end of the badge decorating party and mixer. I colored my badge and crafted my little piece of personality before heading to a large conference room for the mixer. There was a skit going on that had already started so I sat in the back to not disturb anyone. Maybe 15 minutes later, it was over, I was in my room, and I was hungry. Not knowing the area or anyone in it, I ordered overpriced room service.

I later learned that the skit on Thursday was being performed by Susan Ito of FoodFoodBodyBody, and she is quite fabulous!

But it seemed on Thursday that things might be difficult. After yoga on Friday morning I headed back toward my room and a girl struck up a conversation with me. It was so nice and I was really nervous and we agreed to meet for breakfast. Thanks a million Kelly, Miss No Thanks To Cake, you are fantastic.

On my way to my room, I ran into my Cleveland blogger buddy Alicia from Poise In Parma! I was so excited, things were looking up. Once at breakfast, Kelly introduced me to her friend and reader Hillary from TheBigWeight. We talked about her blogging life as the three of us gathered some giveaways before going to Starbucks for some coffee.

My hotel roommate Lauren was the bomb and Alicia introduced me to Carly and Amanda. And these are not the only people I met. I wish met a ton of great bloggers and I am hoping to share them all and their blogs during my FitBloggin’ Recap mini series.

The whole reason I even started blogging in the first place was to meet like minded people. I wanted to meet fun, fitness-minded, people with similar interest that I could meet and share stories with. FitBloggin’ brought my initial wants for my blog to complete fruition. I could not have asked for a better experience. I could not have asked to meet anyone different. It was absolutely perfect.

So now, you must be thinking, “Shut up and get to the giveaway!”

Yes, it is time! I have a few items from my super awesome swag bag of goodies to share with you, my dear readers. And hopefully this will pump you up to consider a trip to Portland Oregon on June 27-30, 2013 for FitBloggin’13!

What you get:

1.) An aluminum water bottle from BistroMD – This was a staple for me at this conference. Hydration is so important for before and after a workout. And for your health of course. I carted this puppy around all weekend. I identified my bottle from everyone else’s with cut stickers of a black and yellow kitty. Just like my two boys at home! This can be yours too! And I will add a cool sticker if you want me to. Just say the word!

2.) Yoga workout DVD: Yoga For Energy and Relaxation with Tamal Dodge, brought to you by Anchor Bay Entertainment – Fit PR extraordinaire Melissa R. McNeese was kind enough to offer some great in home DVD workouts for me to share. I love a good DVD workout. Especially when I am traveling to an area I might not want to go out to run in, I need something to do in the hotel.

3.) A sweet FitBloggin’ bumper sticker – I’m not saying you have to put this on your car. I have commitment issues with bumper stickers and have only ever had one in my life. But, you can definitely tuck this bad boy away, post it on your fridge, bulletin board, whatever works, as long as it peeks out at your next spring so you can sign up to attend FitBloggin’ too!

All in a Its Good To Know for Butter Spreads eco-friendly reusable bag!

So how can you enter?

1.) Leave a comment here and tell me: What sponsor would you be most excited about? Who’s table would you have visited over and over again? I spent way to much time bugging the Team Refuel girls. 

2.) For an extra entry, simply follow me on Twitter @aityblog and tell me how super psyched you are to learn more about #FitBloggin and #FitBloggin13 and you want to share in the swag! Just make sure you leave an additional comment here when you do. 

You have until Sunday September 30th at 11:59pm.

And be sure to come back for the next riviting installment of the FitBloggin’ Recaps for more information, stories, and another giveaway!

Posted in Blogging, Fellow Bloggers, FitBloggin, Giveaway | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Fitness = Fun at FitBloggin’12

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know where I am. If you don’t follow me on Twitter, you totally should. I am really interesting.

I am at the 2012 FitBloggin’ Conference in Baltimore this weekend.

Each morning of the conference, FitBloggin offers several different choices for a workout. You can do one, you can do them all, whatever sounds good to you. There is a kicker (a term I learned here!) at the end of this post, so stay with me.

On Friday, day one, I went to the early bird workout for some yoga with Sara of RunInspired. I am not new to yoga. I do quite a bit of yoga. I just have never gotten up that early for yoga.

But I was not the only person to show up. Sleepy eyed bloggers began to fill the room with their mats and water bottles (Thank you NatureMade for the free yoga mats in our swag bad!) ready for some downward facing dog. With the early hour, I struggled to stretch out but it didn’t bother me. Everyone in the room was practicing to their ability. Some might not have ever done yoga before.

Yoga was the only workout I did on Friday. A specialty workout that I am not even sure what it was about was offered as well as a CrossFit workout. I don’t do CrossFit so I passed on that (yes, I have tried it before. No, I did not like it).

Today’s early morning workout was a bootcamp. I probably would have done the bootcamp had I not stayed out till midnight with all my new blogger friends. So I didn’t get up until 7:30 for the 8:00am JumpSport workout by Fitness Trampoline.

How fun was that shit?!

I had so much fun jumping on the mini-tramps, doing core work, then jumping back up on the trampoline in high intensity intervals. I was sweating like crazy, I felt tired well before the end, and I walked away feeling like I needed to find a location/gym/studio, whatever, that offers this type of workout. This class was a first for me and I felt intimidated. But I walked away pretty excited.

There was a short break between classes. After the JumpSport class a Zumba class was being offered. Again, another first for me. I have always wanted to take Zumba and would talk about wanting to, but never went to a class. I have a Groupon just burning a hole in my account for a gym that offers Zumba and I have yet to activate it. So this was my big chance to see what it’s all about.

How awesome is Zumba?!

It’s pretty awesome. Let me tell you. The music is so electric, you just want to move your body. The music doesn’t stop so I had to really pay attention to what the instructors were doing. The class was led by Sue from Mrsfatass and she was phenomenal. You could tell that she loved it, it meant something to her, and she wanted you to feel the spirit, too.

And that’s the thing. I am surrounded by these people who are so passionate about their fitness. And as Sue said before the class started, she wanted everyone to feel “Beautiful, strong, and safe.” And I did feel safe. I could barely keep up with any of the steps but it didn’t matter. We just laughed.

As I stumbled through song after song, I actually felt emotional for a second. Here I was, in a class I had never taken before, looking like a fool, and it was ok. I was getting my workout in and I had support while I was doing it. I got teary eyed over the fact that I was working out, and it didn’t hurt. People can gather in a space and have fun and not feel bad afterwards that they didn’t push hard enough, sweat through their shirts, and shuffle with sore muscles to the door.

Fitness can be fun! It doesn’t have to hurt all the time. As long as you get up and just try, you are doing something good for yourself and inspiring others.

So far FitBloggin’ has been an amazing experience. I can’t believe I was feeling scared and nervous over the whole thing. I had planned to just recap this entire amazing weekend in multiple posts next week, but I had such great workout experiences, firsts, and breakthroughs it was important to me to share.

Have you ever felt emotionally overpowered by a fitness experience? The first time you crossed the finish line or tried a new class? More to come from the world of FitBloggin! I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Posted in Blog Roll, Blogging, Diet and exercise, FitBloggin, Health and Nutrition | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Red Bank is great, but its FitBloggin’ time!

Running, Red Bank, FitBloggin. Lets discuss. 

I took my run outside today. After yesterday’s storm and scary wind here in the great little town of Red Bank, NJ, a beautiful day blew in. I had to run inside Tuesday night on the treadmill due to the scary skies and it wasn’t all bad. I felt good, my legs weren’t heavy, I was surprised. Given it was a treadmill run.

Since my night on the treadmill was such a success, I automatically assumed that my run the next day would be terrible. That’s how it always goes, right? I opted to run outside even though traffic around my New Jersey hotel is a bit heavy, and enjoy the weather.

What a FANTASTIC idea.

Red Bank NJ is the bomb. What a cute ass town. I would, no joke, move here.

The town is located on the water and has some fantastic water front properties. Who knew? The town is quaint and lovely as my friend Tami says. It is totally walkable with lots of shopping, bars, and cool eateries.

I have lots of pics, so stand by.

From the hotel I ran down through a couple small neighborhoods, all houses I would buy, and took in the scenery. You really felt like you were on some kind of East Coast street and that the water was only yards away.

Before entering the downtown area of Red Bank, you cross over a bridge with a beautiful view and all kinds of cool water front houses. There were marinas, bait shops, and people fishing.

I ran about 4.5 miles through downtown Red Bank. I stopped a couple times to take photos and really take in the views. I came across a city park called Riverside Park that had a sweet mural and more water front views.

I continued through downtown on my run to scope out the restaurants and shopping so I knew what I wanted to hit up when my run was done. There were so many cool shops I wanted to go into and I tried to give a glance to any menus posted outside of cafes and diners as a jogged by.

When I got back to my hotel I hopped right into the shower. I didn’t even stretch, shame shame. But I was excited to get in the car and head back downtown. I had a couple shops in mind and most places closed around 8:00pm during the week.

The little town kind of reminds me of Ohio City in Cleveland actually. Vibrant streets of cool eateries that are one of a kind. No Applebee’s on this street. Broad Street was kind of the main strip, but even the side roads had little shops and cafes on them as well.

I passed a restaurant called Dish on White Street that I should have gone to, but kind of forgot about when I started looking for a place to eat. But if you ever make it to Red Bank, their menu is pretty awesome.

I found myself at place called Murphy’s that had more of a pub feel where I could get a drink and sit outside. The more main drag restaurants on Broad Street had patios and I really wanted to sit outside. It was to nice out not to.

I also shopped. Heck yeah I shopped. I got a sweet blazer from this store Dor L’ Dor. It had really cool clothing that you don’t see to much in Ohio. The styles might not have made it that way yet, or, I just haven’t considered them yet. Dor L’ Dor also has shops in New York if that means anything. So you would have thought this cool modern blazer with squared off shoulders that I got would have been crazy expensive… Nope, got the blazer for 30 bucks. Boo-ya.

(View of Dor L’ Dor on the corner from where I sat at Murphy’s)

(Greene Street)

Another store I really liked had that same look as Dor. It was a super bright and hip looking shop called Greene Street. I went in, same as I did at Dor, thinking that I wouldn’t be able to afford a single item. But not only was Greene Street affordable, it was all consignment high end clothing.

The concept of Greene Street was gently used designer clothing on consignment. They specifically look to recycle and refurb old vintage clothing for fashion lovers like me! It was a pretty neat concept. There was a blue suede hand bag that I was drooling over for 42.00 bucks, but I didn’t buy it and wish I would have.

I looked at almost every rack in the store. Admiring Mark Jacobs skirts, Tory Birch dresses, and Coach purses. It was probably one of the coolest resale shops I have ever entered. You would have never known that the outfits displayed on the mannequins in the window were used clothing.

I wish I had more time to try on everything more things, but I did try on a Michael Kors plaid dress that sadly didn’t fit (I probably would have worn it home) and a pair of Anne Taylor jeans.

Jeans totally fit. And they were totally 14 dollars. Its not often you can get a pair of 70 dollar jeans for only 14 bucks. Thank you Greene Street, you made this girl very happy.

Tomorrow is my last day of training. And I will be leaving immediately following. If I were staying in Red Bank and traveling home on Friday, I would probably go back and get that blue suede hand bag. But alas, I’ve got plans.

In Baltimore!

(source)

As soon as my work day is over, I am driving from Red Bank NJ to Baltimore MD. I will make a quick pit stop in Hanover at the Baltimore Airport to drop of my rental car. I had planned on keeping it, but I will have to pay to park it anyway, so I am going to drop it off and grab a cab into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor for the big FitBloggin weekend.

So what will I be doing at this FitBloggin’ Conference? Well I have got my weekend pretty narrowed down. And it looks like this,

Thursday – I will arrive at the Hyatt Regency Inner Harbor around 6 or 7pm, depending on traffic. I’ll check in and head to registration for the conference. Hopefully I will make it to the Badge Decorating party and mixer before it ends and then hit the hay. Its going to be an early morning.

Friday – Wake up at 5:30am and hit up the 6:00am Yoga session with Sara of RunInspired. After that I will head to the Weight Watcher sponsored breakfast and then check out the Chocolate Milk Refuel table and get some info on joining the Refuel team. I would LOVE to be on the Refuel Team and get some support for all the races I run. Plus, I would rather do that than go to the CrossFit WOD. No offense.

After that I am hoping to shower before heading to the Weight Loss and Self Acceptance seminar at 11:30. Next up is the Driving Blog Traffic with Social Media seminar and then the Attracting Media and Finding Success as a Freelance Writer session. After some lunch and a break I will learn about identifying and creating a brand. I am super interested in this.

After that is dinner followed by the Keynote Ignite Fitness session which is a series of 14 different speakers giving their own mini presentations on different topics. How cool is that?

Saturday – I can sleep in a little later because I am going to the Trampoline Bounce workout at 8am rather than the 6am workout. I think this is a good choice. I’ll have some breakfast and then I may take some Zumba! Who knows. We’ll see if I am feeling frisky!

After than I will hit up the Growing an Online Community through Twitter session before I jump over to the Taking your Online Community Offline with Miss Alicia of Poise in Parma and our very own OBA organizer. I will have to leave the Twitter thing early, but I can handle that. From there I will check out the Better Blog Design on a Budget session before hitting the showers in the afternoon (yeah, I’m stinky). The late afternoon sessions don’t hold a lot of interest for me. But we’ll see.

Sunday – In the morning I am going to run the FitBloggin’ 5k and attend the goodbye breakfast before making my way to the airport.

It’s going to be a busy, busy and super fun weekend. I can’t hardly wait.

So as hard as it is to say goodbye to this in Red Bank…

… Baltimore is going to be the bomb.

So you are totally going to go to Red Bank now aren’t you? You should. How about FitBloggin? Oh yeah you should! Can’t wait to share what I’ve learned! 

Posted in Fellow Bloggers, FitBloggin, Running, Work Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments