Sunday, June 23, 2013

Running Essentials

Is there anything better than snuggling up on the couch on a rainy Sunday morning with an iced coffee in your favorite cup, a quiet house, and your list of blogs to read open on your laptop?  :)  Didn't think so!

I've been struggling to get motivated to run.  I only went twice this week: 3.5 on Wednesday and 5 on Friday.  Plus Body Pump on Tuesday.  I think I'm still in relax/winding down mode from the school year (I teach first grade).  Hopefully I'll be back up and at it next week since there are only 12 weeks until my next half!  Woohoo!

So I was thinking about some of the essentials I use when I run.  Before training for the half I just ran, my essentials basically would have been an iPod and a pair of sneakers.  But once I started logging those miles, I realized I needed more!
*note - I wasn't asked to review or sponsor any of these products.  They're just ones that I use on a regular basis.*

For my birthday, I got a Garmin Forerunner 10.  I don't know how I ran without it before!  I have it in pink but it comes in other colors too.  It's so incredibly helpful when it comes to learning to pace myself on longer runs and to push myself on shorter runs.  Plus the website that you upload all of your runs to is so similar to Map My Run, but you don't have to waste your phone battery running the GPS since it's all in the watch!  :)  The watch shows my pace, my distance, calories burned, total time and more!  The site shows my route, the weather during my run, elevation, splits, and SO much more!  I absolutely adore it!


Which leads me to music!  I CANNOT run without it!  Some people enjoy running to nothing, listening to their own breathing, but me?  I just can't do it.  I get bored.  I HAVE to have my music!  I have a playlist on my phone with some good running songs, but coming up with a 2 and a half hour playlist is hard!  And can get expensive!  I rely on Pandora for my music.  They have workout play lists and they're not half bad!

For my longer runs, I realized I needed something to keep my going and keep that "I feel like I'm running through quicksand" feeling away.  Solution?   Jelly Belly Sports Beans!  I just can't do the gels...they gross me out.  Don't get me wrong, the Sports Beans don't taste fabulous, but they do the trick!  And the ones with caffeine give that extra boost on those longer runs!


Socks.  Oh boy did I learn quickly how the right pair of socks makes a world of difference!  I was getting blisters all over the tops of my toes from wearing cotton socks on my longer runs.  Big mistake! I switched to a seamless, moisture-wicking sock and it made a world of difference!  I only have one pair since they were so expensive ($12/pair!), but rumor has it that Target sells ones that are similar and they're way cheaper!  :)  They're definitely on my next Target trip list!

Last, but not least, Bondi Band head bands!  (  My hair is really fine and it was always falling in my face and getting in my eyes, even with a ponytail or other kinds of head bands.  I discovered these gems the day before the half at the expo that was going on during packet pick up.  Life changing!  Not only did it actually stay in place all 13.1 miles, but it kept my hair back and was sweat-wicking so it kept the sweat out of my face too!  Amazing!  I highly recommend!  I got two while I was there...both in support of the Boston One Fund.  They have a ton of fun designs and colors.  I'm officially hooked and wear one every time I run now!

So those were my "A-Ha!" essentials that I discovered while training and now can't live without!  Of course, there's sneakers, headphones, iPhone arm band, etc. but those were things I always used and didn't really change up too much when I started training.

Do you have any running/workout essentials that you can't live without?

Friday, June 21, 2013


So if you haven't heard, Google Reader is going away as of July 1!  *sad face*  BUT you can still follow my blog over at Bloglovin!  Just click the button and follow away! *happy face*

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Great Deal

Just a heads up!  Living Social is offering a one year subscription to Runner's World for $5 or a one year subscription to Running Times for $7!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Running Bucket List

While most people have a bucket list of things that they want to accomplish in life, I've decided to make myself a Running Bucket List of races I want to run someday!  

1.  Nike Women's Half here in DC - Who wouldn't love crossing the finish line and being greeted by a hot firefighter handing you a Tiffany's necklace?!?!  Plus this one wouldn't involve traveling too far!  Next year, I want in!

2.  Disney Princess Half - It's Disney!  What's not to love?  

3.  Boston Marathon - This one is a TOTAL long shot obviously!  But being from there, I'd kill to be able to run it after the events of this year!  

4.  The Color Run - I've been wanting to do a color run for over a year now.  The timing just hasn't worked out.  

I'm sure more will get added on as I learn about other races!  :)

What races are on your bucket list?

Monday, June 10, 2013

I Miss Running?

Wow!  Never thought I'd say those words!

I decided after the half to take a week off to let my body recover.  My knees and quads were pretty sore the day after, but by Tuesday I was feeling pretty good again!  This week I'm starting up my running again (except lucky me this afternoon and tonight call for severe weather so it gets pushed back one more day).  And I never thought I'd say this, but I've actually missed running!  I can't wait to get back out there and start adding on those miles again!

And not only that, but I've signed up for my second half!  I just couldn't resist!  So my next big race will be in September.  I'm running the Diva Half Marathon!   I'm so excited for this one!  Who doesn't love getting spoiled with tiaras, boas, roses, glasses of champagne, and a super huge, sparkly medal!?!? :)  The coolest part is that it's the very first Diva race to be held in the Washington, DC area!  I signed up with a co-worker who also ran the VA Wine Country Half and my boyfriend's cousin, who needed motivation to get back in shape.  It should be a fun time!

Since I was able to finish the VA Wine Country Half in 2:26, I'm hoping for a 2:20 finish.  Hopefully the middle of September will mean cooler race temps.  It was ridiculously hot!  The course should be pretty similar.  It starts and ends at a different winery than the other one, but it's in the same general area.  At least this time I'll know how hilly it is!  The site actually says that the course only has 2 areas of uphill climbs, but I'm still going in prepared! :)

In the meantime, instead of running, I'll sit and watch these crazy storms run through!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

VA Wine Country Half Marathon

So this past Saturday I ran my first half!  It was scary, fun, amazing, and so many other emotions all mixed in to one!  I ran it with my friend Lindsay and we had two goals:  finish in under two and a half hours and to run the whole thing, no walking.

Leading up to the race, I was pretty nervous.  I had tried for one final push of hitting 10 miles before race day that Monday.  And failed miserably.  I managed 9.5 but did a LOT of walking.  It was so hot and humid out that I just couldn't make it the whole way without walking.  I had also been trying to get a lot of hills into my workouts since I heard the course was hilly, but also heard that it was gentle rolling hills so not to worry too much.  Not to mention the weather forecast...HOT!

Race morning rolled around and I was up and at 'em by 4:30.  Ugh!  Lindsay and her fiance met us at the house at 5:15 and we were on our way.  And it was already pretty warm.  We tried to get our energy up during the 45 minute car ride by trying some Jelly Belly Extreme Beans (we'd both been using the regular ones during training but these had caffeine) and good God did they taste horrible!  We were gagging them down!  SO gross!

We got to the starting line about 6:45 and made our way to where our finishing time group was corralled (we may have been some of the few people who actually went where we were supposed to) and tried to get excited.  But nerves were setting in.  The guys wished us luck and headed to the start line in hopes of getting some good pictures.  At this point, the start of the race was delayed due to traffic and I wanted to cry.  What in the world had I been thinking signing up for this?!?!  Around 7:15, we were finally off and running!  The temperature at the start already had to be up to at least 70 - 75 degrees!
Starting Line

Ready to Run

The course was beautiful!  We ran through the countryside and passed cute little farms, vineyards, adorable stone churches.  But rolling hills?!?!?  LIES!  The hills were no joke!  And a good 6 miles of the course was run on gravel roads!  It was pretty tough!  Lindsay and I managed to stick together and kept a pretty consistent pace.  At the half way point there was a wine tasting so after some water I grabbed a Dixie cup of white wine and went on my way!  How could I resist?!?

We were just about to mile 7 when we came to the first spectator viewing spot and as we came around the corner we spotted this:

We were dying laughing!  The best parts?  Runners were actually stopping to take their picture and they got tanned around the body paint.  Here we are when we first spotted them:

I felt really good until about mile 11.  I started struggling!  I had half a pack of those nasty sports beans with me, and let me tell you, they were just about the best thing I had ever eaten!  They gave me the boost I needed to finish!   By then it was already in the 80s and SUPER hot!  All of the sudden I could see the silo of the winery where the finish line was!  I had never been so happy!  I checked my GPS watch and realized there was still another half a mile to go.  Doesn't sound like much but when you've already done 12.6, it's torture!  So close but so far!  As we got closer, the earlier finishers were cooling down and cheering us on.  There were crowds of people on both sides of the course so I took my headphones off and just enjoyed that last little push.  We had enough left in us to really push it at the end and beat our goal time!

Our official race time:  2h, 26m!  And the only times we walked was through the water stops, so that totally doesn't count!  It was an absolute blast!  And look at this medal!

We made it through the recovery tent, grabbed bottles of water, and headed to the shade to cool down before heading to the post-race wine festival.  Unfortunately, it was too hot to stay too long but we did enjoy ourselves while we were there.  We ended our morning with a little grape stomping!

And now I think I'm addicted!  I'm signing up for another half for September!  :)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Brief Intro

 I haven't always loved running.  As a matter of fact, I've pretty much always had a love/hate relationship with it.  

But the summer before my senior year in high school (boy does that seem long ago!), I decided that I couldn't graduate without having a high school sport under my belt.  Problem?  You can't really pick up a sport your senior year and expect to make a team.  Solution?  Cross country. Because I came from a small school, if you wanted to run and were willing to show up at practice, you were on the team.  Sold!  So I ran one season and actually wasn't half bad at it.  But once the season was over, that was the end of that.  I ran occasionally on my own throughout college and beyond and ran in a few races here and there.  I liked to run, but always managed to find an excuse to not do it. 

This past fall, however, I decided that I wanted to get back into it.  I was looking for a way to get back into shape and force me to work out during those long winter months when I'd rather stay snuggled up on the couch.  The best motivation for me?  Sign up for a race.  Once I paid the money, I had to follow through.  So did I sign up for an easily attainable goal, like a 5k?  Nope.  I went all out and signed up for a half marathon.  Smart right?  I'd never run more than 3, maybe 4, miles in my whole life and here I am signing up for a 13.1 mile race.  Well lucky for me, I convinced some friends to sign up with me so we could all hold each other accountable.

Training wasn't always fun or easy.  But I more or less managed to stick to a training schedule.  And yesterday?  I completed my first half marathon!!!!  More to come on that later!

And now I might be addicted.

I've learned to love running and miss it when I go more than a few days without it.  So join me on my new journey of being a runner!  :)

Before the start of my first half marathon (I'm bib #1174).