Training Recaps

Weekly Training Recap: Week of Aug. 14

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I had one more major dropback/rest week in my marathon training plan and after last week’s 50 mile total and considering the heat, what better week to tack it to than this one!

Sunday: Rest. I moved my long run to Saturday, which was my fourth day in a row of running and after 2 more on the treadmill after work, I hit 50 miles for the week. On top of that, I worked out all the other days last week, with my yoga class and strength training session. Yup, rest was definitely needed and deserved. My body didn’t feel too beat up, though, which is great!

Monday: Yoga.

Tuesday: Strength. My trainer threw in a lot of squats and I expected to feel super sore the next day, but luckily I did not!

Wednesday: 3 at 10:30. I originally set the alarm to wake up and get this run in outside before work. And then I decided to sleep in. I don’t do that often, but it’s rest week. I was able to get to the gym during work and hit the treadmill for 3 miles. My legs felt decent, but I could tell I was still a bit tired from last week.

Thursday: 3 at 10:30. I had a pre-work vet appointment, and waking up even extra early was not enticing, so I again tucked my run clothes into my bag and hoped for the best. I was able to get down to the gym in the afternoon — two work workout breaks back to back, say what? That hasn’t happened in a looong time. My legs were feeling more tired this run. It took a full 1.5 miles to warm up and feel good. So I decided to nix Friday’s planned 3-miler in favor of more rest. Rest week, folks!

Friday: Rest.

Saturday: Rest


Weekly mileage: 6.

Rest week is sometimes the best week.

Training Recaps

Weekly Training Recap: Week of Aug. 7, AKA That Time I Ran 50 Miles in 7 Days

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Sunday: 18 miles at 11:27 pace, using 4:1 run/walk. Longest. Run. Ever. And I mean that literally and not figuratively. The run actually went by really fast and it felt amazing. I loved every minute of it and was seriously tempted to add another 2 miles on at the end.

Monday: Yoga. Surprisingly, my legs really weren’t all that sore or tired from the 18-miler the day before. I am still really excited about that. I could easily have gone for a short run if I absolutely had to, but I stuck to the plan.

Tuesday: Strength + 15 minutes elliptical. I got to my strength training session early so I warmed up with the minimum resistance on the elliptical. I could tell my legs were still a little tired from the 18-miler but not bad at all.

Wednesday: 8 at 10:52. Plan called for 7, and it was ridiculously hot and humid (but thankfully cloudy). I had it in my mind to tack another mile on, and I did! If I thought that one 8-miler in July left me soaked, this left me even moreso. I made sure to drink enough water and took some Gatorade along, too. I even ate half a pack of gummies at mile 5 to help with the heat. My legs felt great and I kept it slow enough to finish feeling strong … in addition to absolutely soaking wet in sweat.

Thursday: 5 at 10:52. Same exact pace, this time on the treadmill. It was sunny when I woke up and I wasn’t dealing with the heat and humidity AND sun. Noppppe.

Friday: 5 at 10:33. Treadmill again. I wanted to go to my work gym so I could catch up with my trainer a little while I ran. I got up to the workout area and the TV signal was out … on all the TVs. I checked in with my trainer who told me they’d been that way since 6 a.m. That meant a TV-less treadmill run, just me and my headphones with Taylor Swift blarring, starring aimlessly ahead and trying not to stare at the time and miles ticking by so so slowly.

I honestly wasn’t sure I’d make it through this run, but I just focused on getting through 2 miles, then getting through each additional mile, one mile at a time. Truly running in the mile I was in. And telling myself I could have a bagel after if I did 5 instead of 3 miles. And pretending the TV could come back on at any second. And praying someone, anyone, would come over and talk to me for a half to full mile or more.

Saturday: 14 total. 12 at 11:36, using 4:1 run/walk. + 2 at 10:57 on treadmill. From longest run ever to hottest run ever. This is usually my rest day, partially because I work on Saturdays. But one running buddy was out of town and the other one wanted to run to run Saturday instead because she was heading out of town early Sunday.

IMG_9755Honestly, if zero running buddies had been available or wanted to run, I would have skipped my normal long run this weekend. It was just that hot. I would have tried to do 8 on the treadmill Sunday instead, by telling myself I only “needed” to do 5. That’s how I get through treadmill runs, folks.

So when I found out D definitely wanted to run and wanted to do it Saturday, I wasn’t totally like “yay!” Then I realized that 12 miles would technically put me at 48 for the week, and I got excited.

Then I realized that 2 more miles would mean a 50-mile week, and suddenly I really really wanted to check that off my bucket list even though it wasn’t technically on there to begin with.

After a 4:45 a.m. alarm, we hit the W&OD right before 6 a.m. for 12 miles. Starting temperature was 79 and dew point was 75. I never bothered to check the ending temperature. I started really feeling soaked around mile 7.5. Around that same time I realized I hadn’t taken any of the salt caps I’d brought. This week I tucked some in the little zipper pocket on my shorts, without putting them in a baggie first. Oops! They totally dissolved and I laughed as I dug out the remnants and tossed them.

Despite the heat, my legs and breathing felt fine. I ate half a pack of gummies at mile 5 and tried to finish the pack at mile 10 but I only got a few down before just not feeling like eating anymore. With just 2 miles to go and having taken in some Gatorade, I figured that was fine.

Sweat was running down my legs like mad. By time we got back my shorts and tank were totally soaked through, and so were my socks — but they’re Balegas so no blisters or issues!

I hopped in the shower, cursed my decision to pack jeans instead of yoga pants and off to work I went. My legs were definitely a bit tired, but nothing serious. So after working all day, I changed back into running clothes — fresh ones — and ran 2 more miles on the treadmill.

And now I can say I ran 50 miles in a single week. That feels awesome.

And now I am going to go rest … a lot.

Next week — major drop back!


Total weekly mileage: 50!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!





Blog Training

18 Miles, Feeling Good

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I ran my longest distance ever this morning. And I felt amazing.

After not feeling great Thursday, Friday and the beginning of Saturday — nauseous, dizzy sometimes, and extremely tired, fueled by PMS/PMDD — I was a bit worried about Sunday’s long run. I texted a couple running buddies and talked to my mom and eventually worked things out in my head.

By late Saturday morning, I felt like I was getting more back to my normal self. I’ve never been so happy to get a period in my life. I took a couple Advil PMs and was in bed before 9:30. I slept amazingly well.

I was a bit groggy when I woke up to my 5:15 alarm, but my attitude completely changed overnight. It was go time. Let’s do this.

One of the running buddies I’d texted the previous day was one of the two I was running with — Deirdre. I originally planned to do 4 solo before meeting up with her for a quick 2, then meeting up with the second running buddy, Allison, for the remaining 12.

Deirdre gave me a great idea that helped break up the run even more. She told me to consider doing 3 miles before, then 1 after all of us ran together or 2 and 2. That gave me a stepping off point Saturday night and Sunday morning to tell myself — you just need to run 3 miles.

The weather was great and it was clear from the start I’d do the full 4 solo. This run proved just how much low humidity — dew point at 59 — and slightly lower temperatures — start temperature in low 70s —  help me. There was a slight breeze, too. Starting from Iwo Jima was also great — I love that view and I arrived just at sunrise.

I got my 4 in, focusing on staying slow. Then I quickly met up with Deirdre for a quick 2 miles out and back. I got back to the car and it was time for a quick bathroom break, eating some gummies and a few pretzels — Deirdre’s suggestion to bring something salty.

I’d brought some Gatorade along and had taken a few sips during the first 6 miles, so I retopped that and topped off the water I’d drank, too. I finally added the two extra bottles to my  Fitletic water belt this past week, and taken it on two test runs to make sure the extra weight didn’t bother me and work out an additional bouncing issues — I ended up needing to tighten the belt a bit to make sure it didn’t move.

Then it was time to go again. 12 more miles. I miscalculated how long it would take me to do the 4, meet up with Deirdre, do 2 more, then meet up with Allison, so it was 7:52 by the time we set off.

I wanted to run around the tidal basin since I hadn’t done that in awhile, so we headed that way, ran around the monument then back toward Lincoln before going through Georgetown and hitting up Fletcher’s for a water refuel. We headed a little bit farther down the C&O — just to that bridge, then turned around to go back.

IMG_9734My legs, mainly my hip flexors, were feeling a bit tight the last 3-4 miles, but that was it — nothing serious. I felt strong and great and amazing. I kind of wanted to add on another two miles to finish at 20 for the day!

My watch battery died a little after mile 15, sadly. It lasted a good 8-9 miles from the first low battery beep before dying on me. I am sad I don’t have a full map to share. And I didn’t think to just turn on my Strava app when my Garmin died!

We made our way up from the Georgetown waterfront to Key Bridge, stopping for another water refill since we knew we’d have a little bit of a walk back to the cars.

We finished with a quarter mile on the bridge. I couldn’t believe how good I felt. I gave both my running buddies huge high fives and jumped a little in the air.

We hit up brunch after at Whitlow’s in Clarendon, then it was time for a glorious shower and a just as glorious nap.

What a great day.

If my 16-miler upped my confidence I can finish this marathon training, this run has amped that up even more. Up next (but not for a few weeks) is my next longest run ever — 20 miles — and the final one before the ultimate longest run ever for me: the Chicago Marathon.





Training Recaps

Weekly Training Recap: Week of July 31

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Sunday: 10 miles at 11:18 using 4:1 run/walk. I ran with one of my new running buddies, Allison, again. We met up at Iwo Jima at 7:30 and headed down to the Mall, did a loop around the Capitol then back down through Georgetown, over Key Bridge and finished up on Mount Vernon Trail a little past Teddy Roosevelt. It was a very hot and humid run. I ran through a water fountain at mile 8 in Georgetown. The dew points were in the low 70s, and during the 1-mile walk back to the car, I felt it was getting hard to breathe. This is my third long run using the 4:1 method, and my fastest one yet. I think my body is getting used to the method. Still, my overall pace on the 4:1 is still a little slower than my straight through run pace in the summer, which is about 10:50-11:00 for long runs. But I like the walk breaks and I’m betting it’s going to do wonders for my soreness level once I get up into the much longer long runs.

Monday: 4 miles at 10:30 on the treadmill. + Yoga. I never even thought about setting the alarm to wake up early enough Monday to get in my run. It’s just not worth it when there are so few days I can sleep in during marathon training, and I really need my sleep. I woke up a little before 9:45 and considered going outside for my run, but decided it was too hot, especially with the sun blazing and knowing all my paths would no longer be shaded at that hour. So I hit the treadmill. The plan called for 3 miles, but I felt good and threw in an extra mile. Then it was time for coffee, then lunch, then yoga!

Tuesday: Strength training.

Wednesday: 6 at 10:41. My legs were definitely a little tired from strength training the day before, but nothing even remotely close to last week. Add in some clouds, decreased temperatures and lower humidity and it ended up being a great run — I really wanted to tack on another mile or two at the end, but held back.

Thursday: 8 total. 6 at 10:36 and 2 at 10:30 (treadmill). I felt so great on Wednesday’s run that I decided I wanted to do 8 instead of the scheduled 6 for Thursday. Instead, I felt puke-y for most of my morning run and decided to drop back to the original 6 I planned, figuring if I felt better, I could easily tack on 2 later in the day. I tricked myself into thinking I felt better halfway through the day and hit the treadmill at work. Mile 1 = awesome, felt amazing. Mile 2 = Felt awful, horrible, terrible. Finished feeling dizzy and shaky and even worse than the morning. Got the chills a little bit later and ended up going home from work sick.

Friday: Rest — Not feeling great. I took a 2-hour nap after I went home sick Thursday, then slept 10.5 hours into Friday morning. I woke up still feeling super tired, but I didn’t want to call in sick to work. I threw some running clothes in my bag figuring I could make up for the skipped morning run, or at the very least hit the treadmill for 2 miles. I ended up leaving work early, again, because I felt so bad by early afternoon. Ugh.

I’m pretty sure the main reason for the past two days of feeling not so great and uber tired is my period, or rather my PMS/PMDD, pre-period. I haven’t felt this awful before my period in a long time, but I have had symptoms like this in the past. I think upping my mileage back to a more normal range also contributed. Needless to say, I’ll be resting before I attempt to complete my longest run ever Sunday.

Saturday: Rest


Total weekly mileage: 28

Got in: Yoga, strength

Skipped: Swim, Cycle. Moving forward, I’m going to stop listing these two in the skipped section. I’m focusing so much on running and marathon training that yoga and strength are enough cross training to focus on for now. I hope I get in some swim and cycle in the coming couple months, but I don’t want to feel guilty for not making it a regular part of my training program.


3 Years Ago Today I Ran My First 5K. Now, I’m Training for a Marathon.

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Exactly three years ago today, I ran my first 5K.

I’d yet to run 30 minutes continuously outside, and wouldn’t accomplish that feat until my third 5K two weeks later. Yup, I’d not only signed up for my first 5K, but a full series of 5Ks — one each Friday for the first four Fridays in August 2013. Hey, puppies were involved.

Up until that point, I’d only run 30 minutes nonstop on the treadmill. And only a few times.

Outside running felt much harder, if not impossible.

That 5K series — the now sadly extinct Pacers Lost Dog 5k — is really the reason I am where I am today, training for my first full marathon.

The full 5K without any walk breaks, all 29 and change minutes, I ran midway into August 2013 simply was the start. It led to 4 miles nonstop and 5 miles and 7 and 9 and 10 miles just a few short months later.

By November that year, I felt ready to complete a half marathon, but none of the ones close to me worked with my schedule, so I left that for the New Year.

It shouldn’t be surprising, but after signing up for my first half marathon in April 2014, I ended up adding a new first 13.1 earlier than planned — in March of that year at Rock ‘n’ Roll USA, now called Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C.

Three years ago I laughed at the idea of running a half marathon, let alone a full marathon. After finishing a couple half marathons I still thought running twice the distance was insane. Then something changed.

I began considering running a marathon in the fall of 2014, but I got injured and quite frankly was not at all ready for 26.2 — my confidence needed a boost at the half distance first. Last year became all about that — learning to really love the 13.1 race distance, to not stress about it and simply enjoy the run.

There was an inkling early this year I was ready to train for 26.2, but it wasn’t until the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Francisco half that I knew for sure. I finished that run wanting more. And that’s despite it being a super hilly course.

At some point, I entered the Chicago Marathon lottery. From Googling, I realized there was a 50/50 or 60/40 chance of getting — pretty decent odds for a marathon lottery considering what the New York Marathon one is like.

Originally, my plan was to sign up for the Philadelphia Marathon. I liked that it was a late season race, meaning my highest mileage long runs would be in the hopefully cooler fall.

Nearly halfway into Chicago Marathon training, I’m happy I signed up for the race and excited for race day. But I am kicking myself a bit for not going with that later season race — hey, it’s hot!

I try to glance through Timehop every day, and I’m often reminded how far I’ve come. Just a couple weeks ago, the app popped up to show me that it wasn’t until July 2012 that I ran 20 minutes without stopping. And that day happened just a day after hitting the 15-minute mark for the first time.

To come that far in such a short time is simply amazing and a true show of how much your body is capable of — even if your mind doesn’t believe it.



Training Recaps

Weekly Training Recap: Week of July 24

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This week ended up being an unexpected major dropback week in marathon training. After being sick for most of the previous week — and missing 3 runs — my cold/cough was lingering plus it was ridiculously hot and I was completely tired out by my 8-mile long run Sunday. That spurred me to take Monday off running. I planned to get back to my normal running for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, but I picked strength training back up with my trainer and was too sore.

Normally, missing so many runs might freak me out, and while I wasn’t really happy about it — I really started missing running by Tuesday — I knew missing some runs at this point in training is not the end of the world. That 16-miler really gave me a lot of confidence and it seems smart to rest up and fully heal before I dive back into the second half of marathon training, where the mileage really starts to increase.


Sunday: 8 at 11:45. Hit the trail at Burke Lake Park with a running buddy. Felt immediately drained after run and took a 3-hour nap.

Monday: Yoga. Slept in until 10:30 — that’s how tired I was. Skipped 3-mile run. Bathed horses during hottest part of the day, then hit the pool.

Tuesday: Strength. I’m starting back up with a personal trainer and this was my first session with him since I stopped a year and a half ago. Not surprisingly, my legs were wrecked afterward.

Wednesday: Legs too wrecked to run. I decided to hit an after work spin class and hope I could flush out the acids and such a little bit. I haven’t been to spin in ages, and this reminded me just how much I’ve missed it — going to need to add a class back in at least occasionally as a result.

Thursday: Rest. I knew Wednesday night my legs were still too sore to do anything, and it was time for another skipped run. Good news, though, is I was really missing running.

Friday: 3.1 at 10:28

Saturday: Rest


Weekly mileage: 11.1

Got in: Yoga, strength, spin class

Skipped: Swim.

Training Recaps

Going from Super Marathon-Training Stressed to Going with the Flow — It Only Took 16 Miles

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One month ago, I wrote about how crazy I was going — already — because of marathon training.

It was week 3 of training and I was super stressed. I was ready to quit.

Four weeks later, I’ve done a complete 180. To put it in running terms, I’ve found my stride.

The change began when I decided to ditch a higher-mileage marathon training plan that I’d switched to from a solid schedule cobbled together from a combination of Hal Higdon and my trainer.

After much consideration and discussions with friends and my trainer, two thoughts stuck: I can’t finish a marathon if I don’t get to the start line. And, I’m not ready to give up.

With my goal for race day being simply to finish (preferably without dying), the idea of completing multiple 20-milers, with a 22-miler on top of that, plus all the additional long run mileage to get to that point doesn’t make sense for me — especially not if it’s going to leave me so super stressed that I can’t even complete the mileage to start with.

So I went back to my original plan, which called for one 15-miler, one 17-miler, two 18-milers and one 20-miler, in addition a few half marathons and a few 12-milers thrown in for the mix.

Immediately I was much happier and 1,000% less stressed. The next week, I ran 8 miles on a Wednesday before work in ridiculous heat and humidity when the plan called for 6, simply because I felt good. I told myself it meant I could cut back the next day. I didn’t and it was just as hot and humid.

I also began running with the two ladies I met on that fateful long run from hell that caused such a conundrum to begin with — 12 miles with one of them one week, 8 miles with the other last week. Long runs with running friends = total game changer.

But what sealed the deal the most in terms of this newfound confidence is the 16-miler I ran in Chicago. If you haven’t been following along, I ran 3 lovely miles along the lake before the Chicago Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon two weeks ago. And I ran the 5K the day before, too.

I’d planned to do 15 for half marathon day, partially because of a heat wave moving into the D.C. area that I knew wouldn’t be pleasant for such a long run a week later — especially when the weather in Chicago was actually quite nice. (I’m still laughing at the folks who felt it was “humid.”)

My legs were definitely tired by the end of it all, and I really felt those last 4 miles, but I made it through and was left with a thought: If they moved the finish line 4 more miles farther ahead, I wouldn’t die. I would be OK. I could do it.

In fact, I almost needed to run an extra mile — to outrace a storm closing in and get back to my hotel without getting struck by lightning. But a taxi magically appeared after a quarter-mile — thankfully, since the skies totally opened up only a minute later.

While my legs were definitely a little sore the following day, it wasn’t bad. And I ran three easy miles that Tuesday and felt I could have added more on. I even kicked myself later for not doing so since I ended up sick for the rest of the week, unable to run.

Last week I was sick and then the past two days too sore after diving back into strength workouts with a personal trainer to run. Normally that’d send me into a tailspin of freaking out along the lines of “OMG I’m missing runs and that means I’m not going to reach my goal.”

Instead, I’ve been relatively calm. I still sought out a running friend and my trainer for affirmation that I’m doing the right thing by cutting back — I constantly “need permission” to reduce a training plan, something I need to work on. But, overall, it’s been a relatively stress-free experience. I basically just wanted someone to tell me what I need to do the next few days into next week before I pick my marathon training plan back up.

Best of all, I miss running. Yup, it’s ridiculously hot and humid right now in D.C., and I really wish I was out there sweating it out with everyone.

And that’s the best sign of all.

Blog Weight Loss

How I Lost 70 Pounds and Kept it Off for 3 Years and Counting

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In early 2011, I was tired of being overweight, so I started what ended up becoming a 2-year-long journey to lose weight. Ultimately I ended up shedding 70 pounds.

I wasn’t really chubby as a child, but I gained a bit of weight around puberty and even more after I stopped playing multiple sports in high school. I ballooned to nearly 200 pounds after graduating college. Shortly before my 25th birthday, I vowed to finally do something about it.

I took it slow and easy, adjusting my goals several times over the course of those two years before I finally felt I had found a weight that made me look and feel great. I found out a lot along the way and cultivated a love for running.

Now, I’ve run four 13 half marathons, four I’ve lost track of how many 10-milers and more than a dozen 5Ks and 10Ks along the way. Today, I’ve essentially kept the weight off — while my scale numbers have crept up a tad, I’m more fit and muscular than when I reached my lowest weight and the vast majority of clothes I bought then still fit. And, I’m still stunned when someone makes a comment about how small and fit I am now.

Here are 10 tips for dropping the weight and, perhaps most importantly, keeping it off for good.

  1. Try a weight loss program: To get you started on the right foot, research different weight loss programs and groups. Pick one that is right for you. There are several out there, some of them controversial, all of them with their pros and cons. I used Weight Watchers when I started my weight loss journey, and near the end I switched over to MyFitnessPal for a simple, free way to keep track of what I was eating.
  1. Find multiple exercises you enjoy: Running is amazing — we all know that. But you need to find other activities you like to give yourself enough variety, particularly if you ever get injured. Try out a spin class or take your old bike out for a ride. Find a Pilates instructor you enjoy or go for a swim — every little bit helps you get toward your goal, and you may just find something you absolutely love doing along the way.
  1. Have a reward system: Have some sort of reward system, ideally one not based on a regular splurge day. It could mean simply giving yourself a huge pat on the back, having a small cup of ice cream at the end of the week or going shopping to buy new clothes to fit your slimmer frame. Find what works for you. I would advise against a “cheat” or splurge day each week that puts your calories well above what your body needs. It’s easy to make that into a cheat weekend, then week, then month and so on.
  1. Don’t go overboard in cutting calories: Diet is a key component in most weight loss plans, but don’t decrease your food intake too much. To lose weight, you need to eat less than what your body needs energy-wise each day. However, decreasing too much can put your body into starvation mode, decreasing your metabolism and conserving energy. Most experts recommend women never eat fewer than 1,200 calories a day. The recommendations for men typically trend a bit higher. (I would add that if you exercise, especially if you exercise a lot, you really need to eat more. The 1,200 calorie minimum would be for a day when all you did is sit on the couch (and even then it might be too restrictive!) — if you go for a 5-mile run, your minimum should be at least 1,700, for example (and honestly, that minimum is probably too low, too). MyFitnessPal is good about not suggesting you go below the bare minimum even when you add in exercise.)
  1. Consider weighing yourself more than once a week: This really depends on the type of person you are and can be controversial. Some experts recommend only weighing once a month. Most consider once a week to be a good goal. However, I found success with weighing myself multiple times a week — most often every day. I could see the little fluctuations where sometimes my weight would be slightly up from water weight or bloat, but because I was weighing so frequently there was never a week where I didn’t see some poundage drop, however little. (I would still recommend this, but at some point after keeping the weight off for awhile you need to consider weighing less frequently or throw the scale in the trash.)
  1. Everything in moderation: Cutting a specific food you love completely from your diet may not be the best idea. You could end up with intense cravings and may overeat. There really isn’t any specific food you cannot eat if you’re on a generic diet. It’s all about portion control. I find 100-calorie servings or lower-calorie snack packs to be particularly helpful. They even make them for things like ice cream. You can also try swapping out higher calorie foods for a lighter version — try using 1% milk instead of 2%, drinking light beer instead of a regular one, or eating reduced fat ice cream. Test out different products — not everything low-fat tastes great. (More and more research is showing that less fat isn’t necessarily better — make sure you check out how much added sugar and unpronounceable ingredients are on the label before switching to a food that touts it is “low fat.”)
  1. Don’t compare yourself to others: It’s easy to flip through a fashion magazine or see a photo of a supermodel and think, “I want to look like that.” But that’s not reality for the majority of the population, and sometimes the weight those folks are at is unattainable for them (hello, Photoshop) and others, as well as unhealthy. Figure out what weight you feel good at — you want to feel confident without always feeling like you’re depriving yourself. (Amen, and I am still working on this!)
  1. Occasionally splurge: Eating healthier meals will make you feel better both outside and in, but that doesn’t mean you should never even look at an Oreo again or go out to dinner at a nice restaurant. Have days when you aren’t particularly concerned about the calorie count — just make sure they’re not that often. For me, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter dinners were days I didn’t log into my calorie tracker or care about overindulging. You can also look for ways to decrease your portion size (such as only eating half that meal at the restaurant and taking the rest home) so that you can enjoy your favorite foods without going overboard and undoing your progress.
  1. Don’t get obsessed with a specific number: It’s extremely easy to have a goal weight and get a bit too obsessive about it. When the scale doesn’t read that particular weight, you find yourself fretting that you’ve gained a miniscule amount of pounds. Instead, have a weight range where you feel comfortable and healthy. A range of about 3-5 pounds works well for me. (I am actually still obsessive about this at times. It’s something I’m still working on).
  1. Add and keep up a strength training routine: Strength training is a fantastic way to build muscle and stay fit. It helps burn more calories after your workout, too. I originally started with a personal trainer after I had shed about 20-30 pounds mostly through dieting. I wanted to have someone I had to go to each week and work out with. Once I had that one exercise a week on my calendar, I wanted to add more.

Losing weight is never easy, and everyone is different. Find what you like, what motivates you and keep at it. (And don’t believe that because all the Biggest Loser contestants gained back weight that means you’re doomed from the start — the way they lose weight on that show is not sane or sustainable.)

I never thought I’d be where I am today, and yet here I am.


Training Recaps

Weekly Training Recap: Week of July 17

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Sunday: 3 miles at 10:33, then 13.1 miles at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon at 10:31 for 16.1 miles total. Longest. Run. Ever.

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 3 at 10:25. This was supposed to be a rest day, but I was antsy to do a run from my grandma’s place, especially when I realized I could run to the track at the high school my mom went to. I woke up with a sore throat, which for me always means a bad cold is coming.

I’m super glad I got this run in because my legs felt good despite the weekend runs and my training for the rest of the week was totally derailed by being sick!

Wednesday: Sick

Thursday: Sick

Friday: Sick

Saturday: Rest


Total weekly mileage: 19.1. Should have been 33-35 if I hadn’t gotten sick!

Skipped: Everything.


Race Review & Recap: Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon Weekend

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After an insane 24 hours at work as a result of the devastating Nice, France, attacks, I got on a plane Friday evening to head to Chicago for a 4-day weekend of races and catching up with family.

I worked a bit from the airport and couldn’t believe it when news of the attempted Turkey coup came out — I didn’t think the day could actually get any crazier, but it did.

I was tired and hot and we sat on the tarmac at Reagan for a good 40 minutes or so. Someone got orders mixed up and loaded our plane with 8,000 pounds (!!!!) more fuel than we needed, because apparently that’s a thing that can actually happen. After the pilot initially said we might take off shortly and just “fly lower at 24,000 feet” to burn off more fuel, he announced we would “defuel,” but the process would take 20 minutes or so.

The plane was super hot and I was sweating like crazy. Fantastic.

Eventually we got off the ground and ended up basically landing on time despite the delay. The ride was a bumpy one — the seatbelt sign never turned off.

I got to Midway around 7:15 local time and caught a train. It was cool to finally get to ride the L in Chicago — and my stop ended up being right by the Chicago Theater.  A short Uber ride later, I was at my hotel around 8:30 or so. I got a shower and immediately went to bed, lights out at 9:30.



Great news. The race didn’t start until 7:30. That meant my alarm was set for 6:30. I woke up naturally a little earlier and ate my bagel before walking to the start. Even greater news: The weather was absolutely fabulous. Low 60s with a slight breeze and low humidity. Seriously, you cannot ask for anything better in Chicago in the summer (or D.C. for that matter). I smiled the entire walk over.

I got to the start line with not a lot of time to spare — I quickly picked up my bib since I didn’t make it into town early enough Friday to hit up the expo. I did gear check for my T-shirt (all the way back on the other side of the field) then got to my corral with just a couple minutes to spare.

The 5K course this year was different from last year’s, but still along the lakefront, which is so pretty. It definitely was getting hot in the sun by the end, but I enjoyed the race. The medal for this 5K was awesome and bigger than the half marathon one!

I planned to run slower — 10:30-11:00 pace but I ended up hitting a faster clip. My watch claimed the course was a bit short but we ran a good .1-.2 under a roadway so I’m guessing the GPS messed up there.

Final Official Time: 29:46, 9:35 pace.

I didn’t hang around the finish line and immediately walked back to my hotel, grabbed some second breakfast, then it was off to the expo!

13781941_10100595666327425_3360574231815698941_nThe expo is at McCormick Place, aka the farthest place away from downtown Chicago that costs some extra $$$ to Uber to because of tolls or something. Anyway, I got there a little after 9, got my bib and was done.

With the craziness of my workweek, I planned to take a nap both Saturday and Sunday after my races — I knew I needed rest. So that’s what I did — I got back to the hotel a little after 10 and took a 2-hour nap. It was amazing.

I woke up and it was time to find some lunch. I decided to walk to Navy Pier and maybe go to the pizza place down there. On the way, I ran into Steff and her crew! We chatted on the walk down and I ended up joining them for lunch and a walk after that eventually took us to the We Run Social meetup at the Bean at 4 p.m. My total active minutes per my Fitbit for Saturday because of all the walking was actually higher than Sunday!

It was so great catching up and talking to new runner friends, and I even showed them a couple cool local sites — Ohio Street Beach and the inside of the Chicago Tribune Building (seriously, that lobby).

13710518_10111178501305664_2022031705392572249_oBy the time we got to the Bean, I’d been in the sun for a bit longer than I planned, and I didn’t have any sunscreen on. I was anxious to get out of the sun because of that, so I wasn’t super social. I stayed for the photo and booked it back to the hotel.

… Except my Uber driver’s app messed up and he drove super far out of the way and it was 35 minutes before I actually got back to the hotel for what should have been a 5-minute drive to save my blistered foot. Oh well!

I got a few things together at the hotel, put a blister Band-Aid on my one toe — seriously, these things are lifesavers — then made my way to dinner at the same place I ate last year before the race — Sweetwater Tavern. I was back in my room by 7:30 or 8 to set out my race day gear and chill out on the bed — I stayed at the Sheraton Grand Chicago again, partially because I LOVE their beds.



The plan: Wake up at 5 a.m., run a 2-mile warmup and then the half for 15.1 miles total for the day, my longest run ever — by .1 miles.

What actually happened…

I woke up a little before 5. I felt good. I thought, hmm, what if I did a 3-mile warmup. I can do that. I decided to wait and see how my legs felt before making a final decision, but to be honest, I’d already made up my mind to go for the 3-mile warmup.

13645212_10111180597963944_1931171777717873875_nI ran along the Chicago lakefront and it was gorgeous. There were some clouds and the sun peaking out through them gave a wonderful glow to everything. And the temperature — perfect once again. It was 65 with a light breeze and low humidity when I left my hotel.

13775853_10111183056397224_7842514632653356756_nI started running at 5:40 a.m. and got to the half marathon area about 10-15 minutes before the official start. I carried an 8-ounce water bottle with me so I would have some water before the race. I stood in a porta potty line that looked long, but actually moved pretty fast. I did my business and walked up to the start line as the gun went off for the elites. I took a quick photo then made my way to the corrals.

I hopped into corral 4 and saw Joe Harris, who I met in San Diego, and gave him a quick hug. I ran into him at the start of the 5K the day before, too!

Two seconds later, we were off.

CHI_16_courseMap_CE-2The weather was perfect for Chicago in July — cloudy with a light breeze staying for the entire race, in addition to that low humidity. I didn’t know how fast I was going because the buildings really throw the GPS off, so when I hit the official mile 3 marker under 30 minutes, I internally said to myself, “oh, shit.” I’d gone out too fast. I focused on walking slower through the water stops and trying to slow my overall pace down.

I eventually slowed, little by little, with a more major slowdown when I stopped to take gummies around mile 9. My legs and feet began feeling tired the last 4 miles or so — including the bottom of my feet, but I figured that was to be expected for running my farthest distance ever and being on my feet for much longer than I’m used to.

The final miles really ticked by, and the music that final stretch was great. I crossed the finish line, asked someone to take my photo, grabbed some chocolate milk and heard one of the race officials say “a storm is coming.”

Final Official Time: 2:17:49, 10:31 pace.

I made my way to the VIP tent to say hi to a few folks I knew would be in there (I didn’t have access this time), and that’s when I realized the storm that was coming was probably something I should pay attention to. After a brief stop, I began walking toward the end of the park and the lightning and thunder picked up.

13620093_10111183056487044_4834978493145567065_nI finally thought to pull up my weather app. I said, out-loud this time, “oh, shit.” Two other runners were standing near me and I told them I’d just pulled up the weather map. It wasn’t pretty. I spent a few minutes trying to catch a cab. (Uber was 5 minutes away.) Then, I started running.

I thought I’d need to run nearly a mile back to the hotel, but luckily after a quarter mile I saw a cab coming down the road. I waved him down and got in. A minute later it was absolutely pouring. I got back to the hotel, which has a overhang drop-off spot, and two seconds after stepping out a huge lightning strike and clap of thunder hit nearby.

“You got here just in time, didn’t you?” one of the hotel concierge’s said. Yes, yes I did.

I grabbed a cinnamon bun and went up to my hotel room to eat, take a shower and enjoy my second nap of the trip.


13710588_10111196032433144_540867458942650989_oThe rest of my trip was highlighted by family time. I got up from my nap, ate a cheeseburger at the hotel restaurant and caught a train out to the suburbs, where I met up with my cousin and his wife. We spent some time at a local bar, then went back to their house for more partying and some pizza. Great times were had by all.

The next day, I headed over to grandma’s house, where I did a few chores to help her out. We got a family dinner that night then played some games before bedtime.

I woke up Tuesday with a sore throat, and I knew a cold was coming on. I went for a 3-mile run around grandma’s neighborhood, including two laps around the track at the high school my mom went to. On the way back, I stopped for some Zicam to try to stave off the cold, and some coffee, because coffee.

That afternoon it was time to head home. I really started to feel the cold coming on when I got back to my apartment, and I ended up needing to take Wednesday off work. So much for diving back into work and marathon training.

The rest of this week is up in the air. I know I’ll need to take another day or two off running and to scale back any runs I am able to go on late this week (when a heat wave kicks in — more fun!). But getting in those 16 miles Sunday gives me the confidence that taking a few days off running will not mean anything in the long run for running my first marathon in Chicago on Oct. 9.