Monday, October 31, 2011

The End of One Heck of a Month

Today is Halloween, which means it is the last day of October. I am a little sad that this month is over because it one that I had been looking forward to for so long. It ended up being even better than I had anticipated though:

I ran my first half marathon, and went to my first race expo...

I did my very first speed work run...

I started going to yoga regularly...

I ran 10 miles and watched the Ironman World Championships in one day...

I became a member of my school's Russian Club...

I started training for a 5K...

and I realized that I AM a runner!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Finding Balance

Ever since starting school in the end of August I have been struggling with finding balance between the many things going on in my life. Currently, I am enrolled in five classes at school, am a member of 1 club, training for a race, trying to keep my apartment under control, and finding time to be an amazing girlfriend.

I know this may not sound like a lot to some of you, but it is a lot for me right now. I would honestly say the hardest part is trying to find time to spend with my boyfriend. We both have busy schedules and trying to find times that work for both of us have proven to be a struggle so far.

Despite everything going on though, I have been doing pretty well at finding time for everything. It takes a bit of work though, and definitely isn't easy.

On days when I have a million things to do and not nearly enough time to do them all, I sit down and think about the importance of each of the things I need to do. If something isn't "due" for a little while then I can probably get away with postponing it a little bit in order to focus on other more important things. Sometimes I even rank each item based on importance and then complete them in that order. That way I am sure to do the things that really need to be taken care of right away.

Make a schedule
My class schedule is pretty concrete but a lot of other things are not. Meetings can change from week to week and the weather can definitely change all the time. If I make a schedule at the beginning of the week with what I want to complete and when is the best time to tackle that task there is a greater chance of actually getting everything done. For example, if I know that my boyfriend is coming over on Wednesday night but I have a big test on Thursday I make sure I get in enough studying before he comes over so I'm not stressing over my test instead of spending quality time with him.

Be flexible
However, I have to allow myself to be flexible because plans can change very quickly. I hate leaving things to the last minute in case something comes up preventing me from accomplishing whatever I needed to get done. One of my strengths is that I like to get things done well in advance. Then I have more time to do whatever I want and not worry about cutting anything too short.

Realize it is not the end of the world
I think this is the most important part about trying to lead a balanced life. I can get upset about little things pretty quickly but I have been working really hard to not freak out when something doesn't go my way. Sure, a bad grade on an exam cane easily worsen your mood, but it doesn't have to ruin your whole day. Realize that life goes on and you can't win them all.

How do you find balance in a hectic schedule?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Some Inspiration

Happy Friday everyone! It is supposed to be cold and snowy here this weekend so I thought I would share some motivation to help with running in this weather:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

And the Verdict Is...

I have mentioned a few times before that I was having some knee pain when running downhill. It first started during the Baltimore Half Marathon and has been occurring every time I have run downhill since then.

In addition to this knee pain, I have been struggling with pain on the inside of my lower legs since I started running back in April. The pain increased when running uphill so I switched to running on a flat trail near my house. The pain went away and I was no longer concerned with it.

When I started school in August I started running hills again because my apartment and school are both in very hilly areas. And the pain came back. Luckily it wasn't as bad as it was before but it was still painful enough.

The combination of the pain on the inside of my lower legs plus the newly developed knee pain convinced me to talk to someone with more knowledge. I made an appointment with a sports medicine specialist back in my hometown, hoping I wasn't in too much trouble.

My appointment was last night. As soon as I told the doctor what was bothering me he knew exactly what the problem was.

He told me that the pain on the inside of my lower leg is shin splints. I was very relieved to hear that it wasn't a stress fracture and that I could easily overcome this.

He then told me that my knee pain was actually caused by the IT band. I thought this was the problem but after doing some reading I am pretty scared. My doctor said that stretching, ice, strength training, and running on soft, flat surfaces should help relieve the pain.

He gave me some exercises to do, which I did as soon as I got back home. I am going to take my ibuprofen, stretch, strengthen, and ice round the clock. I want to tackle this thing as best as possible.

I also plan on minimizing the amount of hills I run right now. Worst case worst, I can head inside to run on the treadmill. I hate treadmills but I hate being injured even more.

Have you struggled with shin splints or IT band issues? Any suggestions for relieving pain?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My First Shot at Some Speed Work

This morning I woke up early before class to get in my first speed work run. I have never done speed work before so I was pretty nervous. I was very excited though. I like being challenged so I was excited to see what I could bust out.

I have heard about Yasso 800's from Emily and Christine, and because of my lack of knowledge of speed work I decided to give them a try. I only wanted to do two repeats this week, and then maybe bump up to three repeats next week.

Unfortunately, I do not have access to a track so I decided to just find my own course. The road near my apartment is exactly a half mile so I figured I could do my repeats there. The downfall is that it is not flat.

I did a half mile warm up at 10:56 pace and then the real workout started. I initially was planning on doing the repeats downhill but changed my mind last minute to do them uphill. It was a good thing I switched to uphill because my knee was really hurting on the downhills.

I did my first repeat in 3:58 for a 7:55 pace. I have never run under an 8:00 min/mile pace so I was pretty excited to see a number sub 8. My knee was really achy when running downhill so I ended up walking a little on the recovery jogs. I figured walking is better than pain, right?

I wanted to really push the second repeat but my time wasn't much faster than the first. I ran it in 3:55 for a 7:51 pace. Ultimately I was happy with these times but I definitely look forward to pushing myself more next time and seeing what kind of times I can produce.

Overall I ended up running 2.5 miles at a 10:04 pace. Even though this was a hard workout I really enjoyed it. I can't wait for next week and to see how my speed progresses over the next few months.

Do you do speed work? Do you love it or hate it?

Monday, October 24, 2011

You Know You Are a Runner When...

I have never considered myself a runner. I only started running a few months ago and sometimes I only run three times a week. I am still very new to this sport and have a lot to learn about running. But lately I have begun to realize that I may, in fact, actually be able to (proudly!) call myself a runner.

I get more excited about buying new running clothes than real clothes. With the cold weather rolling in I have been in need of some warmer running attire. Now, like most girls, I LOVE to shop. I love buying new clothes and love the start of each new season because it means I get to buy new clothes. Well now it also means I get to buy new running clothes. I bought two long sleeve running tops today while at the mall and it was by far the purchase I was the most excited about.

All I think about is running, and I am perfectly okay with that. Ever since running a half marathon started to feel real I haven't been able to stop thinking about running. Sometimes I have a hard time paying attention in class because I am thinking about my run that day. I am always thinking of new ideas and inspiration for running. And I am completely okay with all of this.

I am trying to convince everyone I know to start running. Seriously. I have been trying to sign my boyfriend and dad up for races, and I am already planning on eventually running a marathon with my super fast marathon rock star cousin. I tell everyone how much I love running and how beneficial it is to all aspects of my life. I want everyone to join in on all of the fun I am having at races and training for races.

I am working on cleaning up my diet and losing some weight, because it will help my running. I have always been a pretty healthy person but I have lost some of my healthy living habits over the past two years when I quit swimming. Despite gaining a little bit of weight I couldn't seem to find the motivation to get back to my former healthy lifestyle. Until I realized how much it would help improve my running.

I plan my days and weeks around running. Balancing college and training for a race plus trying to have somewhat of a social life can be rather difficult. If I know that I have a bunch of exams in the same week I typically try to cut back my running that week so it doesn't end up suffering. With every ounce of free time that I have I try to figure out when I can get my running. I don't think about getting in some extra studying, I am trying to make sure I get in that tempo run.

When did you realize you were a runner and completely in love with this sport?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

What's Coming Up Next: Races

Ever since running the Baltimore Half Marathon a week ago (!) I have been planning all of the races that I want to do over the next few months. It is difficult for me to plan out everything but there are some races that I definitely want to do.

November 24, 2011- York YMCA Turkey Trot 5K
I am running this race with my dad, boyfriend, and possibly cousin. I have run this race with my swim team many years ago and absolutely love it. It is such a fun atmosphere and great local race. I am also hoping to set a PR at this race. I am using these next few weeks before this race to start incorporating some speed work into my training. I am hoping this will help me PR in the 5K and ultimately the half marathon.

December 3, 2011- Hot Chocolate 15K (Washington DC)
This is a race that I have been going back and forth about running. I really want to do it, and this girl is going to be there, but it is only a week after my Thanksgiving 5K and it costs $65. This seems like a lot for a 15K. We do get a super sweet jacket and lots of hot chocolate though. My main reason for not doing this race is that I would have to drive into DC the day before to pick up my packet and that may be difficult. I'll decided about this race in a few weeks.

March 17, 2012- Rock n' Roll USA Half Marathon (Washington DC)
This is my next big race. I am already signed up so I am doing this race, no questions about it. I am already working on a training plan for this race. I am really excited to be able to participate in another great race that is only about a 30 min drive away. I know a lot of people have done this race in the past, when it was the National Half Marathon, so I would love to hear your opinions. Anybody running it in 2012?!

May 6, 2012- Frederick Half Marathon (Frederick, Maryland)
I am not sure if I am going to end up doing this race but it is on my calendar for now. It is a great small half marathon that isn't too far away. The only issue is that I like my races to be big city spectacles and this race is pretty low-key. I want to get more practice running half marathons though so I will probably end up doing it.

June 9-10, 2012- Multiple Sclerosis 150 (Kent County, Maryland)
No, I am not running 150 miles. This is a bike event. No, I am not biking 150 miles either. There is an option to bike 150 miles over two days but my goal is to complete a metric century (65 miles). My boyfriend has been doing this event for a few years now and I have always wanted to try biking at an actual bike event. I may wimp out and just decided to volunteer like I did last year though. Even 65 miles is pretty far.

September 6, 2012- Rock n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
I really want to do this race. I have never done a race in Philly and I think it would be great practice for another race I plan on doing in Philly later in the year. I know the courses will be different but I want to use this race as a practice run for my other weekend in Philly. Primarily I want to look into hotels and navigating Philly during a big race.

October 13, 2012- Baltimore Half Marathon (Baltimore, Maryland)
I did this race this year as my first half marathon and I am absolutely doing it again next year. I absolutely loved the course and really everything about the race. I think I love everything so much because it has sentimental value for me. Plus it is only about 15 min away so I won't need to get a hotel and my family can come watch again.

November 18, 2012- Philadelphia Marathon (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Yep, you read that correctly. I plan on running my very first marathon next year in Philadelphia. I thought about running Baltimore as my first full but I don't really think I want to run all those hills in the middle of a marathon. Luckily the Philadelphia course is supposed to be very fast. And this race is most definitely going to be a big city spectacle.
As you may have noticed I don't have anything planned for the summer. I want to use the summer to focus on triathlons and give myself a little bit of a break from running. I am just going to do some local triathlons since I am just getting started. 

You may have also noticed that I don't have many short distance races on here. I fully plan on running some 5Ks and hopefully 10Ks but I will decide on which ones as they get closer. Most 5Ks don't sell out so I will add these to my schedule as I feel necessary.

Have you done any of these races? Any advice or suggestions? Anybody planning on doing these races next year?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Turkey Trot 5K Training

I am running the York YMCA Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving and I have been trying to decide how I want to train for this race. I am absolutely not a sprinter when it comes to swimming, biking, or running. However, I know I can run a faster 5K than I did in June and this is the perfect time to crush that PR.

I have been struggling with coming up with a training plan for this race because running the Rock n' Roll USA Half Marathon is also on my radar. I am going to try incorporating some speed work into my training but I also want to make sure I get in some long runs too.

Because it is pretty hilly around here I am only planning on running four times a week. I would love to run five days a week but given the hills nearby I don't want to end up injured. Because of this I want to put a heavy emphasis on cross training. Luckily I have some pretty awesome free options for cross training at my school.

I don't have how much I want to run on what days yet, but I know how many miles I want to hit each week and what runs I want to incorporate into my week. It doesn't matter which day I do each run though. As for running I want to do one speed work run, one long run, one tempo run, and one easy run.

I have never done speed work but I have heard a lot of really great things about Yasso 800's so that is what I am going to be for my speed work. I am going to start out with only 2 repeats and work my way up to 4 repeats by race day.

I do want to do some long runs but they will only range from 6 miles to 8 miles. I want to use this time to get really comfortable with running these distances without stressing running longer distances.

I also want to use my easy runs to get more comfortable with running 5-6 miles. I am really comfortable running 3-4 miles right now meaning that anything longer than that is still a struggle for me. I want to increase my endurance some before I jump into half marathon training.

Finally, tempo runs. Tempo runs are actually my favorite type of runs. I lost a lot of my speed since I left for school but I am hoping that with the combination of tempo runs and speed work I will really be able to increase my speed.

A few weeks ago I started doing yoga and that is absolutely going to stay a part of my training. I am planning on sticking to doing yoga twice a week so that I can still do some other cross training.

Over the summer I started doing Insanity and it really helped my running. But then I stopped doing it and I am not quite sure why. Insanity is a great workout and will absolutely help me increase my speed and endurance.

I also want to start swimming again. I stopped a few weeks before my Baltimore so I could focus more on running but I really want to start again. Swimming calms me down and is almost like yoga for me.

Any suggestions for crushing my current 5K PR?!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Getting Back Out There

I have been resting the past few days after running a half marathon on Saturday but today I itching to get my sweat on. I woke up early before class this morning to do an Insanity recovery workout. My legs were burning by the end of the short 33 minute workout and were consequently shaking the entire day. It felt so good to workout again though.

When I got back from class I got dressed, laced up my sneakers, and headed out side for a short shakeout run. I only wanted to go two miles so my legs weren't completely shot. My legs felt surprisingly fresh and I was so happy to be running again.

Unfortunately, my stomach was not so happy that I was running. I only ran for about a mile and a half before calling it a day and walking the last half mile.

Despite my stomach I was very happy with how my legs, particularly my knees, were holding up. I was expecting to be pretty sore but everything (minus the stomach) felt great.

On another note, I don't think I am going to do the race this weekend. I don't want to push myself too hard right now and just focus on recovering. I know I would end up pushing it too hard and that is definitely something that I don't want to do right now.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I Need Advice! Please!

Okay so as you probably all know I ran my first half marathon on Saturday. I haven't run since then so I could recover properly but I am dying to head out for a nice run tomorrow. I have had this itch to run since Saturday but I didn't want to push it.

My dilemma is that I found a 5-mile race this weekend that I want to do. I am going home this weekend and it just so happens that there is a 5 mile race through my favorite parts of downtown York. The race is on Sunday and the course is pretty much flat.

I do not want to race this but rather just use it as a fun run that is conveniently in my home town. I don't think running 5 miles will be a problem as long as I don't really push it. Plus there is complementary yoga before the start of the race.

So I am asking you guys, what should I do?! Is it too soon to do another race or no big deal as long as I take it slow?!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Don't Settle for Less Than the Best, Be the Best

Since running my very first half marathon on Saturday, I have been designing a training plan for my next half in March. I have been trying to think about what I want to achieve from this race and how to achieve those goals. In doing all of this I started thinking about what kinds of training elite and professional runners do.

I have always been involved in some type of athletic activity: soccer and dance when I was a kid, swimming growing up and through high school, and now running. I was a pretty successful swimmer, qualifying for nationals, but I never really reached my full potential. 

I have always settled for being mediocre and for no good reason at all. Now I know I will never be as fast as a Kenyan, and I am okay with that, but I sure as hell can be better than I am now. I have only been running for a few months now, and most of my training has been extremely inconsistent. 

I started wondering what I could achieve if I really put my heart and soul into running and trained consistently. I have absolutely no idea what I could I achieve, but you know what, I want to find out. I want to be a runner.

I know I have the drive and determination to do great things, and honestly I am so sick of just settling. This is my life and I should strive to achieve the best for myself. I am only sabotaging myself by not putting my all into my training. 

I am ready to be happy and proud of myself and to be the best version of myself. I want to know that I put my all into everything and that I deserve to do great things. 

And this goes for more than just running. I don't want to settle for a B in school when I know an A is possible with an extra hour of studying. I want to be the best sister, daughter, friend, student, girlfriend possible. 

I think it is really important, though, to make sure that I am only doing the things that I love and that I would to dedicate myself to. With passion there really is nothing anymore. 

I have big dreams for myself, I always have and I always will. I don't want to be what is holding me back any longer. I want to do an Ironman someday, I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon someday. If I never achieve the goals I set for myself I want to know that I gave it my all and couldn't have tried any harder.

No day but today. Get moving and start achieving those dreams!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Some Final Thoughts About the Baltimore Half Marathon

This will be my last Baltimore related post, I promise! It was just such an incredible experience I wan't to make sure I document as much of it as possible. In case you missed any other Baltimore posts, you can head over to my Baltimore Half Marathon page. You should read my review of the expo, my pre-race report, and my race report!

I wanted to recap some of the thoughts I have been having since Saturday so I can look back and use them for motivation and reference for other races.

Running a half marathon is painful.
I encountered a lot of unexpected pain during my race, in my knee and in both of my feet. There were a few times when I wasn't sure if I would be able to finish because the pain was so bad. I have never experienced either of these pains before so I was extremely thrown off by them. I didn't know what was causing them or how to relieve the pain.

Running a half marathon is not as hard as I thought it would be.
However, I was surprised with how fresh my legs felt throughout the entire race. I felt absolutely fantastic, minus the pain in my feet and knees. I knew I was undertrained but I was really surprised by how well I was able to tackle those hills and maintain a solid pace. I am not saying running a half is easy, I am saying it was easier than I had anticipated.

Doing long runs is really important.
As I mentioned above I was really undertrained for this race. The longest run I had done before Saturday was only 7 miles. I noticed that all of my problems really started to develop after mile 8, which I'm sure is a reflection of my poor training. I am hoping that with more long runs in my training I will not encounter so many problems at the end of a race.

Walking is absolutely okay.
I cannot drink water while running. I choke and end up spilling it all over myself. I made sure to walk through every single aid station and I had planned on walking some of the massive hills on the course. I only ended up walking through aid stations because I didn't want to stop running so I would be done sooner, but walking really helped me both mentally and physically.

Staying as positive as possible will help tremendously.
I have blown many races (swimming) because I psyched myself out. I never believed in myself and consequently I performed poorly in the pool. I tried not to let anything get me down on Saturday and as a result I stayed happy, calm, and relaxed. I ran the race for myself and didn't let anything ruin my big day.

I am a capable athlete.
I have never had faith in myself and I have let this belief sabotage many important things for me. I reminded myself many times throughout the race that I deserved to be there and that I was capable of finishing. Going into the race I wasn't sure if I would finish because I was undertrained but I made it my number one goal just to finish. Whether that took walking, and 4 hours. I wanted to finish to prove to myself that I could do something that so many people said I couldn't not do.

I love being an athlete and surrounded by fellow athletes. 
When I was swimming I was always surrounded by my team, which became like my family. Since going to school I have had a difficult time finding people who love running as much as I do and are actually friendly. Being surrounded by 25,000+ runners was such an amazing feeling and reminded me why I love running so much.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Baltimore Half Marathon Race Report

You can ready my pre-race report here! And don't forget to check out my Baltimore Half Marathon page, with everything relating to the race!

Crossing the start line was the most exciting but scary thing I have ever done. The hardest part was staying calm mentally. I had to keep reminding myself not too go out to fast because this was going to be running for a long time. 

I realized not long before the start of the race that I forgot my Garmin at my apartment. Since buying it, I have never run without it. I was super nervous about running without it because I normally go out too fast and I wouldn't be able to monitor that.I did have my regular stop watch so at least I would be able to monitor how long I had been running for.

The first three miles seemed to take forever. There were no mile markers for the first three miles so I had no idea what pace I was running at. I started to get nervous about the lack of mile markers. I was hoping that the miles would be marked later on the course.

I was so happy when I saw the mile marker for mile three, solely because I knew exactly where I was in the race. There was also an aid station so I grabbed a cup of water and walked while I drank it. The water felt so nice because it was starting to warm up at this point.

My dad had told me that was going to be at mile 5 so I knew I was only two miles away from seeing him. I also knew that miles 3.5 to 7 were all uphill. I was feeling really good so I didn't stop to walk up any of the hills. I made sure to go really easy on the hills and stay at a comfortable pace. 

I was really surprised with how easy the hills were feeling. I could see that a lot of people were struggling on the hills but I felt strong the whole way.

Before I knew it, I was at mile 5 and saw my dad. It was so great to see him. I was feeling so good then and he just gave to more energy. I slowed a little to talk to him but I kept running.

The hills kept coming for another few miles until we got to a beautiful lake. We ran a mile around the lake, which was luckily completely flat. The downfall was that it was really windy here. It was also pretty warm. 

On our way out of the lake at mile 8 I started to feel some pain in my right knee and in both my feet. The hills were pretty much over so I was hoping the pain would subside some.

Once I got to mile 9 I was really in a lot of pain. Knowing that I would see the boyfriend and my mom at mile 12 through really helped. Only having four miles left was also comforting. 

The last few miles of the course were almost entirely downhill, with a few uphills. I realized that it was the downhills hurting my knees and that the uphills actually felt amazing. I debated walking but I really didn't want to. 

I made sure to walk through every aid station through out the course and doing this really helped. At the end of the race I was getting really anxious about where the aid stations were so that my knee could get a break.

For the last 3-4 miles the crowd support was really helpful. There were so many people with signs cheering and blaring music it was impossible not to be inspired to give it your all to the finish. 

Despite how much pain I was in I kept trying to smile, knowing it would help me stay calm and positive. I was so happy the whole time, regardless of everything. 

Throughout the entire race I had to go the bathroom, if you know what I mean. I wanted to stop but the lines were always really long. And there really aren't woods to sneak into in Baltimore. The last three miles were terrible though. I needed to go badly. I debated running into a store on the side of the road but thought I would get yelled at.

So between the pain in my knee and my feet and having to go to the bathroom I really wanted the race to be over. I was so happy when I got to mile 12 because I was really in need of a pick up from my boyfriend. I was looking everywhere but I couldn't find him anywhere.

I heard my name being called and was confused at first because I knew it wasn't my boyfriend's voice. But I quickly realized it was my dad. I was so happy to see him. It was great having the extra support so close to the finish. 

All of the spectators kept saying the finish was right around the corner but the more I ran the more frustrated I was becoming because I was not seeing the finish line. With about a quarter mile left I finally saw my mom and boyfriend. I was in too much pain to stop running and say hi. Plus the finish was so close I just wanted to keep running.

Crossing the finish line was so surreal. I was flooded with emotions and couldn't wait to meet up with my family. First, I needed to find a bathroom. After that was taken care of I picked up my race medal and a bottle of water, and then found a spot to sit down and stretch.

After a little wandering, I finally found my family. We bought some smoothies and sat down to relax for a little.  Then we headed back to my apartment for some lunch. We ordered takeout since I was in far too much discomfort to actually go anywhere. After everyone left, I stretched for a little and then fell asleep for the night.

Running this half marathon was such an amazing experience. It made me so much more excited to train for my next half and see what I can accomplish when I train properly. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Pre-Race Report

Today, I ran 13.1 miles. This was one of the best experiences of my life. It was such a long day but it was worth every minute of it. I learned a lot about myself and what my body is capable of today.

Yesterday was a really great pre-race day. I went to the expo with my mom and spent the evening relaxing at my apartment with the boyfriend. We made ravioli for dinner and I was asleep by 11:30.

I had my alarm set for 6:45 this morning but I woke up around 5:30 and had trouble falling back asleep after. I was pretty frustrated but I slept really well through the rest of the night so I wasn't too bothered by it.

I was super tired when my alarm finally went off this morning but I figured the race atmosphere would wake me up some. I put a bagel in the toaster, changed into my race clothes, washed my face, and got ready to leave. My dad came to pick me up right at 7:15 and we left soon after to head to the race.

Traffic was surprisingly not bad going into Baltimore. We struggled to find parking at first but then we found a garage nearby. We debated going to watch the start of the full marathon but decided to hang out inside the Convention Center instead. It was pretty cold outside so waiting inside was really nice.

Another major benefit of hanging out in the Convention Center was unlimited access to clean bathrooms. My stomach never cooperates in the morning, especially on race days so not having to frequent the porta potties was definitely a plus.

We decided to head over to the starting line at 9:15 for the 9:45 start. The first two waves went one direction and the last three went another. I was in the third wave which meant I got to watch the full marathon while waiting to start.

I hung out with my dad until the very end, which was really nice. I was so happy that he was there with me. I have a tendency to get overly nervous before races but he helped me stay calm today. It was starting to warm up a little then too, which made me glad I was only wearing a short sleeved shirt and a pair of shorts.

We ended up starting about 15 minutes late but I wasn't too bothered by the time problem. Finally, around 10, we could start to the hear the announcer saying that our wave was about to start. He did a nice little countdown followed by a burst of confetti.

Soon, I found myself crossing the start line, getting mentally ready to run for the next two and a half hours...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Baltimore Running Festival: The Expo

Today I went to my first expo. It was insane but I loved every minute of it. I couldn't have been happier to pick up my bib and swag bag. I knew going into it that I wanted some official race gear but other than that I had no idea what I wanted to do while there.

My mom met me down at my apartment at around 11:15 and we left almost immediately to catch the 11:50 light rail into Baltimore. We arrived at the expo and I was able to pick up my bib and swag bag with no problem. I was so happy to see that it wasn't very crowded there. After picking everything up we decided to wander around to see what was there.

We walked around a few times since it wasn't crowded before I decided what I wanted to get. I got an Under Armour light weight long sleeved tech shirt with the Baltimore logos and info on it. I wanted to get the capris too but they only had extra small and extra large yet.

As we were walking around I found a stand selling car magnets. I have always told myself that I would buy a 13.1 car magnet when I finally ran a half marathon. So I got my magnet and can't help me get excited every time I look at my car.

I also decided to invest in a nice pair of sunglasses. I have tried a few pairs of cheap sunglasses from target but I have hated all of them. But I thought it was worth getting a nice pair that I could both run and bike with. I am honestly so happy I got them.

We didn't want to spend too much time there so after I got what I needed we decided to head out. Overall I would say that the expo was really well run and had some great vendors there. It really got me excited for what is to come tomorrow!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Goals & Some Last Thoughts About the Baltimore Half Marathon

I really cannot believe that I am running my first half marathon in two days. That's 13.1 miles people! I have been surprisingly calm this week, but I am starting to get a little nervous. I am also starting to get really excited. I had a stressful week with classes this week which was definitely distracting me from my upcoming race.

There have been a lot of things running through my mind today, some good, some bad. Mostly I have been wishing I put more into my training and fearing I won't be able to finish. I have been trying to think positive thoughts and just focus on my excitement for Saturday.

On that note, I have been working on what my goals for the race are going to this whole week. Because I had some hiccups in my training I feel that I am unable to create certain goals for myself. But there are still some things that I want to try to achieve.

1. Soak up every moment of this weekend
This is such a big weekend for me. The longest race I have ever done is a 5K and my first one was only in May. This is my first race with an expo and 25,000+ runners. I want to absorb every possible second of this weekend. I don't want to miss a minute of this wonderful madness.

2. Cross the finish line with a smile on my face
I want to cross the finish line proud of myself for what I accomplished. I know I am undertrained for this race but I don't want that to matter at the finish line. I want the only thing to matter is the feeling of success and accomplishment that is flooding me.

3. Finish under 2:30:00
I know this is not a fantastic finishing time but as I have mentioned many times I am undertrained. I would love to tell you all that I want to run this race under 2 hours or some other fast time but I simply cannot do that. I know that in order to cross that finish line I am going to have to walk some. And as simple math tells us, you cannot walk a 2 hour half marathon.

4. Be proud of myself
I have struggled for the past twelve years with really low self esteem. I have always felt that I was inadequate when it comes to physical activity. This does not make a whole lot of sense since I was a very successful swimmer through my high school years, even qualifying for nationals multiple times and swimming and a D1 school last year. This is the goal that I most want to achieve.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Eating Healthy in College

As much as I have been loving my time back at school, the one thing I have really been struggling with is maintaining a healthy diet. So many of the food places on campus are filled with chicken fingers, french fries, and tacos. I also have been struggling with finding vegetarian-friendly options.

Luckily for me, I live off campus and have the opportunity to buy my own groceries. I can control what I eat when I am at my apartment. The problem is that I still haven't been eating very healthy even at my apartment. It took me the first few weeks of school to realize how all of this unhealthy eating was impacting my life.

I don't have a scale at school but I am almost certain that I have gained a little weight based on how my clothes are fitting. I have been feeling tired, sluggish, and not motivated. My running has been slow and ultimately I just haven't been feeling like myself. I also have been super moody. Not cool.

I have been thinking a lot about how to enjoy the college lifestyle while still staying healthy. The first step is to stock my fridge with healthy foods to eat when off campus. I absolutely love fruits and smoothies, especially in the morning. I have been limiting how many "snack" foods I keep at my apartment also. That way snacking while bored is no longer a problem.

I really think the key to eating healthy in college is eating as healthy as possible and then indulging for special occasions. Pizza delivery at midnight every night is not actually necessary. Pizza delivery at midnight once a month? Of course! I pretty much know my schedule for the week by Sunday so I can plan out when I need to eat healthy.

A lot of it also comes down to making small changes. Switch from drinking soda to drinking water. Only put one slice of cheese on that sandwich instead of 2 or three. College should not be about making a bunch of sacrifices but a few small changes can really make a big difference.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Inspired by The Ironman World Championship & Chrissie Wellington

As many of you know the Ironman World Championship was on Saturday. Even though I spent most of the day completing my last long run I managed to squeeze in some Kona watching in between my runs.

Even though I am nowhere in the shape I would need to be right now, completing an Ironman is something that I have been wanting to do for a long time now. I watched bits and pieces of the race, but most importantly the male and female first place finishers. Craig Alexander and Chrissie Wellington, of course.

I couldn't help but tear up when I saw Chrissie cross the finish line in first place, despite being in a terrible bike crash only two weeks ago. Her swim was significantly slower than normal, and she was in fourth off the bike. But she is a true champion and pushed on despite her injuries. When fellow competitor Mirinda Carfrae started closing the gap on Chrissie towards the end of the race it was unsure if she could hold onto her well-earned lead.

Chrissie doesn't quit though. She never once let up and started running easier just because she was finally in the lead. She made no excuses despite everything she had been through. Better yet, she had a huge smile on her face the entire time. She even attempted a Blazeman roll after crossing the finish line but had to cut it short because of her road rash.

I was so inspired by watching this race, and especially Chrissie. Watching athletes like the ones at the Ironman World Championship makes me want to strive to be the best athlete that I can be. To push myself beyond what I think possible. I want to go into races knowing that I did everything I possibly could.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

It's Race Week!

Today marks the first day of race week! In less than a week I will have completed my first half marathon. There are still some things that I need to get in order before the weekend rolls around though.

I still have to figure out my race outfit. The weather is supposed to be in the mid-60's and sunny but that could change by Saturday. As of right now I am planning on wearing shorts and a short-sleeved shirt but I have no idea what else I need. It is going to be chilly in the morning so I probably will need some warmer clothes to keep me from getting too cold.

I still have to talk to my parents and my boyfriend about our game plan for race day. My mom & boyfriend are only going to be there at the end of the race but my dad is going to be there the whole time. I want to find a great location for him to stand so I can see him when I need him most. We also need to figure out what time to get there. The marathon starts an hour before the half which means no parking.

On Friday I ventured out to find the nearest Safeway in hopes of buying some healthy eats. I bought bananas, peaces, lots of frozen fruit, almond milk and coconut milk, slices of cheddar cheese, and more! I am trying to get more calcium into my diet so I have been snacking on the cheese slices throughout the day. I am prepared to eat healthy this week and fuel properly.

My goal for this week is to enjoy this experience and learn as much as I can. I want to know what worked for me and what didn't. What I can improve upon. I don't want my nerves to get the best of me and ruin this race for me. I am going to stay confident and make the most of this week.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Last Long Run Before the Big Day

With my first half marathon nearing I have been trying to do everything I possibly can to help my race. Yesterday I set out for an easy three mile shake out run and surprised myself by how fast I was running. When I saw my pace I thought about slowing down but I felt like I was going very easy already so I figured it was fine. That run really boosted my confidence about next weekend. Lately I have been running much faster and I haven't been struggling as much with all the hills nearby.

I wanted to get in a long run today but I really wasn't sure I could manage to run 10 miles all at once. I decided to split up the run into two 3.5 mile runs and one 3 miles run. I spaced them out about an hour and a half apart so I had time to refuel and ice my legs in between. This also allowed me to get a break from the sun and heat.

The first 3.5 miles went by quickly. I kept telling myself to run at a stupid easy pace so I would have enough energy for the next two runs. It was also nice to split up the run so I could minimize the amount of hills. I made sure to run as easy as possible while going uphill. The first have of the run felt great and I hardly broke a sweat. The second half of the run was primarily uphill and right in the sun so it was a bit harder. I felt good at the end though and definitely not too tired to get back out there in a few hours.

The second 3.5 miles went so much better than the first though. I felt strong from the start. I was surprised by how much faster I was running despite how much warmer it was than earlier. My goal for this part was to try to run a little faster than the first part but I ended up running it significantly faster. Again, though, my legs didn't feel too tired afterwards to run another 3 miles later.

I decided to wait until the sun was setting to go out for my last 3 miles of the day. I left just as it was getting dark and the air was so much cooler than earlier. I set out to try to run at a 10:00 min/mile pace and ended up running well under that. I was so happy with my run, especially because of how I felt. I got stronger with each leg that I ran and I was smiling from ear to ear the whole time.

I am so excited for this coming week and to celebrate running a half marathon next weekend!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You

Ever since the summer I have been thinking a lot about making the most out of life and happiness. I started thinking about this topic even more after watching the season premier of Gossip Girl. Yes I watch this show, and yes I love it. Anyway, a main theme of the episode was saying yes. To everything. This means answering yes to any question asked to you.

I wanted to take this mentality and apply it toward to daily life. If any opportunity presents itself, why not say yes? It could end up being a disaster and something you might not want to do again, but it might be the best thing ever. You could discover something you are passionate about or land your dream job. And you never want to regret not knowing what could have happened.

Unfortunately for me, many of these opportunities also bring fear. I am afraid of making a fool or myself. Afraid of not fitting in. Afraid of many things that honestly aren't important. My goal for this semester is to say yes to every (or almost every) opportunity that arises. I don't want to regret anything.

Doing the things that scare us is what makes us stronger individuals. We will never know how capable we are of pushing ourselves if we only do those things that we are most comfortable doing. Facing our fears is something that most people don't do. They don't want to step outside their comfort zone.

Well I want to step outside my comfort zone. Way out of it. I want to do the things that scare me the most. Some of them may be silly things, such as going to haunted house, but that doesn't mean they aren't important. I want to look back on my time in college and remember how many things I tried, and enjoyed, because I wasn't held back by my fears

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Benefits of Yoga

When I started school one of the first things I did was take advantage of the free yoga classes offered on campus. I had only done yoga a few times but really loved it. I was excited to find out that 6 classes were offered throughout the week and that I was able to attend 4 of them. With each yoga class I go to I fall even more in love with it.

I am a very energetic person and consequently I have a rather difficult slowing down and destressing. Yoga is perfect for me because it is a workout but so much more at the same time. I have met friends through going to yoga every week and have really started to embrace the yoga lifestyle. I have been trying to meditate for a few minutes every morning when I wake up and every night before I go to sleep.

Yoga has helped stretch out my tight runner's body and also increase my stability through balance poses. More importantly, yoga has been teaching me how to relax no matter how stressed out I am. I always leave class feeling so refreshed and ready to tackle anything.

Yoga is also a great way to get in a different type of workout that works muscles in my body that aren't normally worked. It is easy on my body and my body responds well to it because of that. My hips have never felt better and my abs are really tightening up, all thanks to yoga.

Do you guys do yoga? How often? Why do you like it?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


One of the things I have learned in my short time back in school is how stressful college really can be. With taking a full course load, training for a half marathon, looking for internships, and living on my own for the first time the stress can really rack up. Now I know most of you work full time plus train for marathons or half ironmans. I am not complaining about anything, I am simply saying that I have a lot going on for me right now compared to in the past.

Last week I had my first and second exams, in Russian and Psychology of Culture. Plus I had a 2,000 word French paper due. This was my first week this semester where I had so many major assignments all due in the same week. I was very nervous for my exams, which lead to me being really stressed out. I decided in the midst of my stressful week to come up with a plan to deal with future stressful times in order to be as successful as possible.

1. Drink enough water
Water is like coffee for me. I drink it pretty much all the time and would say that I am kinda sorta addicted to it. I have noticed that when I forget to bring water with me for the day I just don't feel as good. I end up drinking soda, eating too much, etc. Water makes me feel so pure and energized. I also stay healthier when I am drinking enough water, and we all know being sick detrimental to staying stress free.

2. Don't skimp on sleep- for ANYTHING
It is so easy to stay up later than necessary to get that extra studying in or finish that paper due tomorrow morning but I can't actually accomplish anything productive when I am tired. Sleep is a really important thing for me: I need no less than 6 hours to function but preferably 8-10 hours. It is a much better plan for me to just go to sleep at a reasonable hour so I wake up feeling rejuvenated and ready to tackle the day.

3. Make a plan for studying
I am that obnoxious person who has to have everything planned out. I keep multiple calendars always know when everything is due. What I need to work on doing is scheduling when I want to study. I always end up watching tv or browsing the internet instead of studying, assuming that I can study later. Then I run out of time to study. If I pencil in specific times each day that I want to study specific subjects then there is no worry about when to do other things.

4. Sweat for 45+ minutes a day
Exercising is such a stress reliever for me. I oftentimes end up skipping out on exercising in order to get more time studying in. The problem is that I am less productive when I haven't gotten my daily sweat on. I need to take breaks while studying anyway, so why not get my sweat on during those breaks?! This will also help me stay on track with my training and prevent me from stressing about that as well.

5. Find a study place without distractions
I get distracted easily. Like really easily. So I know that if I need to get in some hardcore studying then I need to find a place without distractions. So far I have taken a liking to studying in the library (Cliche, I know) and on the lawn outside the library. I have yet to discover the best study places on campus so these have to do for now. I never bring my laptop with me unless I need it because I know I will end up on the internet rather than actually studying.

6. Keep everything color coded
My boyfriend says I am OCD. This point might confirm his assumptions. I know it is obnoxious, but it really works. I keep my pens, highlighters, and dry-erase markers all color coded so I know exactly what is going on. I am able to look at my calendar and not be overwhelmed by what I see because I know which color corresponds to which class. It really helps me stay on task & organized and prevents me from overlooking anything

7. Meditate
This is one thing that I could really work on. We have been doing a few minutes of meditating during yoga and I have been loving it. I really want to take this tool and incorporate it into my daily life, and not just do it at the end of yoga. I really think meditating puts things in perspective and allows me to regain focus on what I need to do and how I am going to do it.

8. Spend 30 minutes a day reading for fun
A lot of college homework includes reading, which stops a lot of college students from reading simply for fun. I find reading to be a great way to be completely absorbed in something without turning to electronics. And reading just makes me feel smarter. Reading is something that I really enjoy, which is another reason why it helps me destress.

9. Drink hot tea
Hot tea has a way of making any situation much less stressful. I am not what it is about drinking tea but I always have some when I am having a stressful day.

10. Take a hot bath 
A hot bath is another thing that always seems to help me with stressful situations. Must be something about warmth. My favorite is reading a nice book and drinking chamomile tea while taking a hot bath.

11. Find something you love & keep doing it
I have learned how important it is to make sure that there are many things in my life that I absolutely love. For me, reading, running, yoga, etc. are what keeps me sane. If I only worried about school and studying I would be a nutcase. I make sure to spend lots of time with my boyfriend because he really cheers me up like no other. He also has the ability to calm me down like no other. I try to make sure that I do one thing every day that is solely for my enjoyment and not some kind of assignment or requirement.

12. Reward yourself for a job well-done
Motivation works really well for me. I try to reward myself for accomplishing major tasks, such as kicking ass on that next exam. The rewards can be as simple as getting frozen yogurt for finally completing that Spanish paper or going shopping for nailing that Child Development midterm. Ultimately, I would like to reward myself for an awesome semester with a trip to New York City. But that will be decided at the end of the semester.

What do you guys do to destress?