If We Were Having Coffee…

Hello, my little long-lost blog… it’s been a while!

After being blown away by all of your support about my half marathon, then getting my act together and posting my first recipe in months…..I went radio silent.

I’m not one to post religiously regardless of whether I actually have anything interesting to say; I like to go for quality over quantity, you know?

Sometimes, a girl is just busy. Said busy-ness can take shape in the form of working late, or running around to different meetings every other night…And sometimes after a long day at work, being ‘too busy to blog’ just means I need to veg out while watching How I Met Your Mother and Parks & Rec for 4 hours.

Let’s catch up, shall we? Let’s go on a virtual coffee date.

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If We Were Having Coffee…

…I would tell you about the afterglow of my half marathon.

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Even weeks later, I’m still trying to hold on to the feeling of accomplishment and elation that I had after the race. This is the best solo picture I got from the race photographers- can you tell I was approaching mile 13 and desperate to finish? Ha! I was super impressed that there’s even video of me finishing – I come in on the right side of the screen around :20 then cross the finish line and pretty much bounce right back off screen.

…I would tell you how excited I am for spring & summer.

Although I got really lucky that I trained for my race from December-March in mild conditions with barely any rain, I am more than ready for some spring weather! During race weekend and the weekend after, we had beautiful 75 degree days, but it’s been rainy and cold ever since.

I’ve been pretty lucky with my seasonal allergies this year (knock on wood)…Sacramento is NOTORIOUS for being terrible in the allergy department. Hopefully my luck holds up, because I’m making the switch from indoor Dodgeball to outdoor Ultimate Frisbee next month and I can’t wait to run around outside!

…I would admit to you that I totally went over budget last month.

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Just like in February, I was really close to breaking even during March. However, my monthly budget is actually $300-$400 less than I make each month, so ideally I should be saving that much. I spent a little bit more this month than last…Regardless, I am still $1,000 less than the levels I was spending in November-January.

Hosting Tyler during race weekend definitely meant dining out more often than usual. Plus, I have been really busy at work, which means that some days I don’t have time to go home for lunch. ALSOOO, the rainy weather has made taking Lyft a much more desirable option than walking or biking in the rain lately. Good thing it’s affordable! (especially if you sign up using my code 😉 )

I’m hoping that cutting out one night of dodgeball from my weekly routine, as well as drinking less and avoiding more than one Chai Latte splurge per week will keep me on the straight and narrow budget-wise!

…I would ask you which race I should run next!
rainy 9 miler / sunny 8.5 miler!

rainy 9 miler / sunny 8.5 miler!

I have been keeping up with the same running routine as usual- I run 3-4 miles on Tues/Thurs, and I don’t know if I will ever give up my Saturday morning long runs! I ran 8.5 miles last weekend, and 9 rainy miles this past weekend.

I want to run another half marathon in the fall, and the top contenders at the moment are all in October: the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in SF, and two possible Rock n’ Roll Half Marathons – in San Jose and Los Angeles. HMMM!

The only downside of doing a race in October is the fact that I’ll be training in the Sacramento heat in August and September. Typically, we get a good dozen or so 100+ degree days during the summers here…training in that heat would definitely present a challenge!

…I would probably talk your ear off about boys.

I’m not gonna lie – I talk about boys a lot. (Just ask Carly and Becky!) But for the sake of my own privacy, and that of any guys I date, the most personal details you’ll get on this little bloggy blog are about my black toenails from running or how much I pay for rent each month. 😉

Anyway, I had a realization last week: I have been single for 9 MONTHS now. For the first year+ that I had this blog, I was in a serious relationship. My ex was a big factor in why I started blogging, and a lot of my early posts involved meals I made for us.

I’m proud to say that I’ve achieved a lot of personal growth in the last 9 months. However, like any single girl in her mid 20’s, I often have frustrations about guys and dating…

Why do they ALL send mixed signals? Why is every guy on Tinder revolting? That text was totally flirtatious, right?! I mean, he used a winky face and everything. Is there a real Ted Mosby out there, and if so, why haven’t I found him yet?

IMPORTANT QUESTIONS, people.

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So that’s a little of what’s been running through my mind lately.

If we were having coffee, what would be on your mind?

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Shamrock’n Half Marathon Recap

Well, my first half marathon has come and gone!

I have felt such a wide range of emotions throughout the past 3 months, in particular these last couple of weeks, and it’s kind of hard to put it all into words.

But here’s my attempt!

Pre-Race

As I said on Monday, I drank bottomless mimosas the day before my race………..don’t act surprised.

As much as I wish I could blame someone else for convincing me, or peer pressure, I just really love brunch and I really love mimosas. I definitely paced myself and alternated with water and food, but it was still probably not what all the fitness experts would recommend!

One piece of advice I read repeatedly was to not try anything new the day before/of your race. I’m pretty sure I had at least 1 drink the night before 80% of my Saturday morning training runs these past ~14 weeks. Sometimes you just need to unwind on Friday night! This may have been one fact I used to rationalize our brunch fun the day before. 😉

Another reason why I not only forgive myself for letting loose the day before, but also am kind of glad I am, is because I was seriously psyching myself out the week leading up to the race. Every night from Sunday til Friday, I had interrupted nights of sleep with crazy anxiety-induced dreams. Some were unrelated to the race (for example, about my personal life or work), some were race-related. I was getting serious pre-race jitters…I think the fact that I wanted to show Tyler a good time during his visit was a good thing, because it distracted me from the fact that all of my hard work and training for 3+ months was coming to a head on Sunday morning. If we hadn’t gone out with my friends, I would have been way too focused on the race and, knowing me, I would have been a mess the night before/morning of the race.

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We ended up going to sleep around 11 the night before with a 6:45 wake up call. I woke up at 6am and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I just laid in bed and thought about how excited I was haha. Once our alarms went off, I jumped out of bed, yelled at Tyler to wake up, and started getting ready. We had toast and peanut butter and a banana, I took some of my fitmixer Clean Energy, and around 7:15, Chris arrived and we were on our way!

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pre-race essentials

I forgot that a ton of streets would be blocked off for the race, but we luckily got on the road before the first wave shot off, and were able to get waved across 13th Street even though it was barricaded. We found parking close to Raley Field and as we walked out of the car and I sighed, “PHEW THAT WASN’T AS STRESSFUL AS I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE”, the boys looked at me like I was crazy for expecting parking at 7:30am on a Sunday morning to be stressful. Apparently I was a little on edge!

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do i look nervous? BECAUSE I WAS.

The Race

About 7,000 people ran in the (10th annual!) Shamrock’n Half Marathon, and we were in Wave 2 of 4, scheduled for 8am. After the gun shot off, we didn’t actually cross the starting line for almost 10 minutes. Everyone was basically bottle necking into the starting line.

Chris and Tyler don’t like to know how far they’ve gone, whereas I am pretty anal about knowing exactly how far I’ve gone and how fast I’m going. So when MapMyRun told me how fast we were going, I kept the distance to myself but let the guys know occasionally what our pace was. I made sure that we stayed slow for the first 3-4 miles because I did not want to go out too fast.

The entire race was packed. I felt like we were passing people up the entire time. This ended up being a good thing, as passing people up requires you to speed up a bit. Also, Chris, Tyler & I totally worked as an awesome team. We didn’t even have to say anything- one of us would make a move to pass up whoever was in front of us, and the other 2 would just silently follow.

 

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picture from a training run- this is the narrow path all 7,000 of us had to fit through!

The first 5 miles were all flat through Downtown, we were running around 9:15 min/mile, and I felt comfortable the whole time. We hit the bike trail in the middle of mile 5 and I hit my stride- that’s where I trained every week! We picked up our pace, but I was still feeling good.

Around mile 8, Chris got in a zone and darted ahead. I knew that a big hill was coming up and that we wouldn’t be able to catch up with him on/after that hill, so Tyler and I took some of my PROBAR energy chews (AKA LIFESAVERS!) and sprinted to catch up. That mile was my second fastest mile. (My fastest mile was Mile 13…but we’ll get to that later 😉 ) We got over the hill and, according to MapMyRun, stayed around 9 minute miles or faster the rest of the race.

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JACKIE’S TRAIN usually greeted me around mile 7 or 8 of my training runs… i didn’t reach her until mile 11 on race day.

After that, mile 10 was rough. It was on a section of the course with the most hills. From 11 on, I didn’t know how I was going to finish. I knew I was going to…but I was pretty sure I would need a wheelchair for at least 2 weeks after. I was lucky to have no side cramps, no knee pain, no nothing. But starting around 10 or 11, my feet/toes were killing me and my legs felt like jelly.

There were 5 water/electrolyte stations, and I stopped at the last 3…One of the times I just took whatever liquid they gave me and dumped it over my head. Little did I know, it was electrolytes. Gatorade is so totally the new preferred hair gel of all the cool girls…

Our plan all along was to run together for the majority of the race, but it was every man for himself once we reached the last mile. Knowing that both of my partners were fit dudes upwards of 6 feet tall, I figured my chances of keeping up with them in a full on sprint was slim to none…which made me nervous for Mile 12 to arrive, because I knew we’d be splitting…

I started feeling terrible around mile 11. After having been the smiling face who sang out loud (and even did a little jumping leap to Frozen’s ‘Let It Go’ at one point) through most of the race, I had become silent and started taking really deep breaths. I think it was apparent that I was feeling it. Mile 11.5 ish was the point where I felt like I could cry of exhaustion and pain.

Chris (who had already run two 13 milers on the dreadmill) turned to me and told me a few things that I won’t forget: “This is what you trained for!”; “That’s 12! You’ve already ran 12 before, what’s one more?”; and “Finish strong!”

About 30 seconds later, he darted ahead lol…however, his words definitely helped. Also, the fact that he was wearing a bright blue shirt in a sea of green made him easy to chase spot! 😉 About half a mile from the finish line on the Tower Bridge, I saw my dad with his camera and my mom cheering and I couldn’t help but smile and give my mom a huge high five. If Chris got me through 12-12.5, my mom’s super charged high five definitely got me through 12.5-13.1. According to MapMyRun, I ran mile 13 in 8:14. DAMN! No wonder I felt like crap!

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my dad snapped this pic right as i picked up the pace to give my mom a GIANT high five

The finish line was on the 3rd baseline of Raley Field, and I was so excited to finish that I was leaping over orange cones on the side of the dirt path so I could pass people up. I finished, found Chris, grabbed my medal, and turned around to hug Tyler as he finished. WE DID IT!

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Post-Race

Whoever planned this run had a seriously sick sense of humor. We knew we’d finish on the baseball field, but we didn’t realize this meant we were going to have to CLIMB UP THE STAIRS to get to the food/beer/results stations. It took us a while (maybe because I made the boys pose for the above selfie….) but we got there eventually.

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We saw my parents and took some pictures, then found Yvette and Lisa who had come to cheer me on. Then we hightailed it to the concession stands to get our free snack bags that consisted of KIND bars, bananas, goldfish crackers, and Oreos. Everything tasted like the best thing I had ever eaten.

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After checking out our official times and rejoicing in the fact that we all finished under 2 hours (!!!), we were going to check out the Massage Envy station, but realized we weren’t the only ones with that idea, and headed for beer instead.

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Everyone told me what a great sense of accomplishment I would feel after my first half marathon. I knew it was going to be awesome, but nothing could have prepared me for the wide range of emotions I felt all day  Sunday. I have a feeling it will rank up there as a day I will definitely never forget.

I felt pretty weak the hours after the race, probably because I was subsisting on bananas and KIND bars, but once I soaked my legs in Chris’s freezing cold pool and got some food in me at our barbecue, it was smooth sailing from there.

I have [not surprisingly] been super sore the past 2 days. Lower back, hips, quads, shins, calves…all of the muscles!!! I walked to and from work on Monday to loosen everything up, and I’ve been doin alright ever since. I’m going to go for a quick 3-4 mile run this morning and I am excited to pound the pavement again.

After a rough year or two that has been defined by injury, health problems, a bad break up, and losing my job…it feels incredible to know that I really can accomplish anything I put my mind to.

Thanks for sticking with me and supporting me through this journey, dear readers! With how well my first half marathon went, I don’t know how another one could go any better…but if there’s any chance that finishing another will lead to me feeling like I did after this one, then sign. me. UP.

 

St Patrick’s Day Weekend in Photos

So when I typed in the title of this post I thought that it sounded a little familiar… Turns out I did this same post exactly one year ago with the same title.

One difference? In that post, in my description of my Saturday morning run, I boasted that “I was running at a really slow pace (9:57/mi), so I decided to go for extra distance and broke 3 miles! For the first time since before Thanksgiving! :-D”

I ran a FEWWWW more than 3 miles this weekend…

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13.1 to be exact…

And I averaged 8:59/mile!!

I am definitely planning on posting a complete recap of the race itself, but it wasn’t the only great thing that happened this weekend! I had a serious case of the Sunday blues last night, and if Mondays weren’t my busiest day of the workweek, I totally would have taken today off to ice my legs/cry myself back to sleep because the best weekend ever had to come to an end.

It all started on Friday evening – My brother spontaneously texted me and asked if I wanted to check out our family friend’s food truck with him. They were parking at Bike Dog, a local brewery I’ve been wanting to check out anyway!

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The food truck, Slightly Skewed, has some awesome skewers. I got bulgogi beef and brussels sprouts, and split an order of smashed fried potatoes with my brother (they’re smothered with sriracha and an tangy cilantro sauce). Our longtime neighbor Ben came too and got pork belly…omg.

I also tried a half pint each of their Pale Ale and IPA. I decided to buy a half growler of the IPA to share with Tyler once he arrived!

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Tyler arrived from SoCal around 9:30 and I took him out to meet up with my friends, enjoy some beers, and see a couple of my regular Sacramento spots. It was nice to catch up since I hadn’t seen him since 4th of July when we both visited our former housemate in San Francisco.

The next morning, Chris picked us up to head to Old Sacramento for a surprise birthday brunch! My friend Danny surprised his girlfriend (our friend) Courtney. She had no idea that 20 of her friends were waiting for her at Rio City Cafe in matching TEAM COURTNEY shirts!

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I got the brisket hash and it seriously hit the spot. I was on the fence about whether I’d indulge in bottomless mimosas the day before our race, but my love of the orange juice & champagne drink got the best of me and I caved. Slow and steady was the name of the game 😉

It was an absolutely gorgeous 75 degree day. We were seated outside with a view of the river, the Old Sacramento St Patty’s Day  Courtney’s Birthday Parade came through, and we all just laughed and enjoyed ourselves all afternoon!

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Tyler and I walked the mile and a half back to my apartment (umm, maybe an even worse choice than bottomless mimosas the day before our race) to hydrate and take it easy before meeting up with more friends who were on a St Patty’s day pub crawl.

We didn’t partake in many more drinks, and split off from the group to get burritos (last minute carb loading!) and rest up. We had an opportunity for a quick reunion with our college friend Lindsey who was stopping through town, so I took them to LowBrau and we all drank ice water and caught up 😛

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We were home by 10pm with a 6:45 wake up call, so after pinning our bibs, it was off to bed!

I woke up at 6am and was too excited to go back to sleep, so as soon as I heard Tyler’s alarm go off in the other room I sprang out of bed and yelled “IT’S RACE DAY!”…I’m sure he was pleased.

After some toast, peanut butter, and bananas, Chris picked us up and we headed to Raley Field. I don’t know how the guys were feeling, but if they were nervous they weren’t showing it! I was bouncing off the walls with excitement and nerves…and also because I was freezing.

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13.1 miles later…we made it!

I’ll save the nitty gritty details for another post, but suffice it to say the race went extremely well. We stayed together most of the race, then broke off at mile 13, but we all finished within 1 minute of each other. Chris led the pack at around 1:57:08 and I followed at 1:57:37, with Tyler at 1:58:10 (major props toooo ChronoTrack).

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That being said, miles 11-13 were hard. Like, insanely hard. I knew I would finish, but I was so exhausted (probably because we were averaging <9 min/mile!) and I was convinced I would never regain feeling in my legs. Two things got me through that last mile: 1) motivating words of encouragement from Chris, and 2) a high five from my mom with about a half mile left. Even though 95% of my training runs were solo, I seriously don’t know how I would have done this without the boys. We were in it together!

After our finish line beers, KIND bars, and bananas, we went home to shower and recover. Luckily, Chris’s apartment complex has an [unheated] pool, which we lounged by while sticking our feet in. It was like an ice bath, and it was probably the best recovery tool I used all day!!

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The next best recovery tool: an end of season dodgeball/St Patty’s day barbecue! A few guys on my team asked me (the team captain) to organize it, and it was the perfect way to cap off my half marathon day. We drank straw-ber-itas, ate lots of meat (PROTEIN!) and veggie kabobs, played ladder golf & cornhole, and Yvette even brought a pinata!

I seriously couldn’t have imagined a more perfect day, and more perfect weekend.

I hope you all had a great weekend! Congrats to everyone else who completed the Shamrock’n!

For half marathoners- what was the highlight of your first half marathon?

What is your favorite drinking holiday? St Patty’s actually ranks pretty high on my list!

Fitness Friday — FINAL Half Marathon Training Update!

It’s here you guys…my race is THIS WEEKEND.

holy shit

CUE MAJOR FREAK OUT

After 14+ weeks of training, buckets of energy supplements and protein powder, hours of knee brace wearing, and many many early mornings…my half marathon is here!

To see why I chose to sign up for a half marathon, click here… and also be sure to check out training updates #1 and #2 and #3!

On Wednesday during my lunch break, I went to pick up my race packet (I knew they’d be slammed later in the week so I went as early as possible), as well as Tyler’s and Chris’s…

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forgot to customize my bib…. #fail

As I picked up our shirts, bibs, shamrock tattoos, and all.the.safety.pins, it really started to hit me. I’m running a HALF MARATHON this weekend.

I’m not going to lie to you guys- I’m really really nervous. I have had crazy dreams every night this week, which I’m convinced are anxiety-fueled.

But as I’ve talked to more friends who have run half marathons, my nerves have been calmed little by little. I know that I’m ready for this. I’ve been training diligently since December, and I’m on track to hit my pace goal. Here’s where I was last time I checked in:

Half marathon progress 2014-02-11

And here is my completed training plan!

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It was so weird only running 2 miles yesterday, you guys. I really wanted to go 3, but I convinced myself to stop at 2 because I knew I would be walking to work and that I had dodgeball later in the evening. Tapering is important!

Thoughts on my Last Weeks:

aches & pains

I’m happy to report that my knee pain has been minimal these last couple of weeks. It gives me a bit of grief from time to time on my shorter runs — probably because I’m running faster and on pavement — but otherwise it’s all good in the hooood. There were a couple of times where I was a little sore on Friday/Saturday or Mon/Tues from dodgeball on Sunday or Thursday evenings, but that’s nothing a little stretching can’t help!

This week, I ran a super speedy 5K (26:57, a new PR!) on Tuesday, skipped my Wednesday weight work out in favor of 45 more minutes of sleep and 8 Minute Abs, and a quick 2 miles yesterday. I’m hoping the extra rest will be a good thing come Sunday morning!

I’m thinking about taking Tyler on a bike ride tomorrow so he can see the course (it’s on a bike trail), but I’ve been reading that vigorous activity is to be avoided the day before the race. Any insight??

lifestyle changes

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I have been consciously trying to put only good things into my body for the past 2 weeks, and I think I’ve done a good job. I ate lunch out again (see bottom left) at a new vegetarian restaurant in town, but chose a grilled cheese with garlic & swiss chard and a side of beans. Protein! Fiber! It could have been worse 😉

There may have been a couple of orders of fries in there (and more than a couple of spoonfuls of Nutella…), but hey, I’m not super woman! Nor do I claim to be. I feel much stronger and healthier knowing that I’m not restricting myself. Plus, lately I’ve been rationalizing any extra food I consume during the day as HALF MARATHON FUEL.

As much as it pains me to not celebrate St Patrick’s day this weekend (my Irish grandma would be ashamed), especially with Tyler coming to town to visit and run the race…Abstention (or at least moderation) is the name of the game today and tomorrow.

I did indulge in some drinks last night after dodgeball because it was the last night of the season and I’m taking next season off- but I am so glad I did, because I had a great time with my friends as always! And I was home in bed before midnight 🙂

Plus, how could you say no to hanging out at the bar with that adorable minion face?!

race day

We are in Wave #2 starting at 8am on Sunday. Not too early, which is nice! The high temp for the day is going to be 80 degrees (yippee!) but I’m anticipating it will be high 40’s-low 50’s when we run. Regardless, I’m probably going to run in shorts and a tank top because sista gets sweaty!

I think the race is going to be extremely fun, with 13 live bands playing all over the course. So much for that running playlist I made, right? The reason I signed up for a half was in large part due to how much fun I had doing the Run to Feed the Hungry on Thanksgiving- it was an extremely popular race with tons of onlookers, participants, people cheering, live music, mimosa stations… I’m expecting this race to be a lot like that 10K. There are 4 waves worth of runners, so it’s going to be a packed course!

Here are some things I’m going to try and remember for race day:

  • Don’t start too fast– this was a problem for me in my 1st 10K because I wanted to pass everyone up
  • Use the aid stations– I’ll also have some PROBAR energy chews, but dehydration is no joke
  • Focus on finishing, not the time– Though my goal is 2:00:00, I know that the real accomplishment is just finishing. I’m also going to have to try not to push myself too hard to race the boys I’m running with, haha.

Since I didn’t customize my bib, I’m also planning on writing things on my body…Possibly some kind of mantra on my hand, maybe my name on my arm/shoulder. We’ll see how I feel on race morning 🙂

Wish me luck!!!

For those in Sacramento wanting to watch the race, there’s a great page on the Shamrock’n website listing all the best places to spectate. Hope to see you there!

Any last minute advice?

Do you have any good (succinct) workout/running mantras that inspire you?

Friday Favorites + A Call for Running Songs!

Happy Friday everyone!

I really can’t believe how fast the weeks go by when my workdays are busy. When getting through each day feels like a huge accomplishment, it kinda sneaks up on you when 5 are already under your belt!

I’m linking up with Katie this week to share my Friday Favorites! Enjoy!

Favorite Pup:

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My love for pugs is well-documented on this blog. I died when I saw this. Died.

Favorite Splurge (but not really): Fabletics

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So I’ve mentioned a few times on here that I am obsessed with workout clothes.

Somehow I came across Fabletics on Facebook last week and I realized they were having a special – all new VIP members could get any outfit for $25.99! After taking a quick lifestyle quiz, I got my suggested outfits — every single outfit was super cute, and some included up to 3 pieces! (top, bottoms, and a headband or sports bra!) I got the one above (except I chose a top that was white & green, grey/teal shorts, and yellow headband).

Unlike most subscription services, you aren’t automatically charged every month for signing up to be a VIP member- at the beginning of each month, they send you an e-mail with outfits that fit your needs/taste, and if you don’t see any you like, you can opt out. The normal price for VIP members is $49.99 per outfit, which is still a steal!

Click here to check it out and sign up – did I mention it’s free to join? #free.99 #myfavoriteprice

Favorite Text:

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You know you have a problem when you text your friend that you’re going to Grocery Outlet and she already knows what you’re going to get 😉 I’m so predictable.

Favorite Half Marathon Apparel:

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I found these two shirts on Etsy and have been surveying Facebook and my friends all week about which I should wear to the Shamrock’n Half Marathon next weekend… Which one do you think I should pick?

Favorite Visit:

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My uncle Bobby was in town from Florida for a quick work trip earlier this week and my dad and I got the opportunity to meet up with him! We were going to meet him at his hotel, but in Bobby’s words, “I see pictures on your blog every week of you drinking beers all around town…I want to get a beer with my niece!!!” Jeez, twist my arm would ya?!

We went to Tank House, a new-ish BBQ joint in Midtown. Sacramento Beer Week is still going strong and they were featuring beers from Anchor Brewing, a somewhat local San Francisco brewery. Thanks for treating us to a fun evening, Uncle Bobby!

Favorite Song to Run to:

Pharrell – Happy

Who doesn’t love this song right now? If you just raised your hand, you officially have no soul. This song never fails to put a smile on my face and a little pep in my step!

Speaking of music that puts pep in your step… I need your suggestions!

I used to have a running playlist, but it was only about 30 minutes long. This was it:

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You’ll notice it is EXTREMELY outdated, haha.

When I started running longer distances this summer, I gave up the running playlist in favor of just playing my iPhone’s library on shuffle, since that would never run out of music!

However, I have noticed that upbeat music seriously makes a difference in my pace and motivation when I run, so I am putting together a playlist for next weekend’s half marathon! (OMG- NEXT WEEKEND….)

Last night I asked my BFF for some of her favorite songs, and added a few that I’ve enjoyed running to during my long runs these past few weeks:

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Basically I will run to anything that is

  • A) motivational (Stronger, Born This Way, Survivor, anyone?),
  • B) Fast-paced (Mean and Toxic both fit into this category), OR
  • C) Happy go lucky enough to make me wanna sing or dance while I run (Happy, Marry You, and I Love It for sure!)

So, now I ask you:

What are your favorite songs to run to?

Confession Time: Why the Scale Sucks

Today I’m linking up with Amanda at Running with Spoons and her Thinking out Loud link-up!

Rather than simply thinking out loud like the topic suggests, I am taking a page out of my dear friend Becky’s book and using the link-up as an opportunity to reveal a confession or two.

My confession: I am insecure about my weight.

When I started running in January 2011 (just 1.8 miles 2-3 times per week, mind you!), I was unknowingly embarking on a ~1 year long weight loss journey. That increase in cardio activity, paired with calorie counting/nutrient tracking, was definitely the key to my weight loss success.

I reached my ideal weight a little over a year ago. When I say ideal, I mean it was the weight I was at when I realized I had lost 2 pants sizes and was truly happy with how I looked (and more importantly, how I felt!). Starting at 136 pounds and a size 8, I plateaued at about 119 pounds and a size 4 sometime in 2012 and stayed there for most of 2013. I was coo with that, and I feel like it’s a pretty good size and weight for my body type. (P.S. Here’s my before and after pics just for funsies!)

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at the color run in august 2013 looking quite svelte!

Since so much of my weight loss success was tied in with my running, when I decided to run a half marathon a few months ago, I figured, if anything, I’d lose some more weight.

WRONG!

Over the past 3 months, I’ve gained about 8 pounds. For those of you keeping track at home, that would mean that I have gained back half of what I lost after college. At first, this felt like a huge setback. Some part of me (brainwashed by society, no doubt) kinda liked the fact that I was under 120 pounds. Anything with a ‘teen’ in it sounds skinny, right?

But the reason I decided to run a half marathon was not to lose weight. Upon further reflection, the main reason I signed up to run the half was to feel strong. The question I’ve found myself asking myself is: What makes me feel stronger: a number on the scale, or being able to run 11 miles without stopping?

after my sub 60 min 10k!

after my first sub 60 min 10k!

Um, NO BRAINER people. I feel like a bad ass any time I run for over an hour. Every hill I climb, every curb I hop over, and every mad dash to the end of my run…makes me feel amazing.

One of the most recent times I was able to weigh myself, I looked in the mirror first. Was I happy with what I saw?

fun story: i took this picture last thursday, then took a picture of the picture on saturday to send to my BFF and pretend i wasn't on a plane coming to see her!

fun story: i took this picture last thursday, then took a pic of the pic on saturday to send to my BFF on snapchat to pretend i wasn’t on a plane coming to see her! #SNAPCEPTION

The answer was still yes. Since I don’t have a gym anymore, I do a lot of ab work. My legs are freakin’ tight and lean from all that climbing, hopping, and mad dashing. I proceeded to step onto the scale, see that I was still 8 pounds heavier than “normal”, and….did not really care.

The problem with relying on the scale to track my progress is that as my mileage increases, so does my muscle mass. Most of my weight gain is muscle. The only clothes that fit differently are my jeans around my thighs — which are HUGE and hard as rocks now, by the way.

What really put everything into perspective was the realization that even though I am only about 8 pounds away from my 2010 weight, I am still 2 sizes smaller. Basically, all of my weight is compacted into a smaller package than before, even though I weigh more now than I did 4 months ago.

There are other added benefits to building muscle that outweigh any disadvantages (pun intended). According to a recent issue of Women’s Health, one of the biggest misconceptions about women and building muscle is that if you stop weight training, it turns into fat. The fact is, muscle tissue and fat tissue are two completely different kinds of tissue: muscle by nature requires more energy to metabolize, meaning the higher ratio of muscle-fat your body contains, the more energy (calories!) it will have to expend to keep things running.  Sounds like a good thing, right?

This is a big reason why, though I still track my food pretty often throughout the week, my focus is less on calorie counting to lose weight and more on replacing all of the calories I lose on my workout days with calories from healthy protein sources. I am trying to teach my body to run 13 miles at once…the least I could do is properly fuel it!

So that’s my confession: I am not always happy with the number I see on the scale. But I am happy with what my body is capable of, and I feel so great physically most of the time that it is hard to let a big little number keep me down. 😉

How do you track your fitness progress?

Have you ever experienced muscle weight gain?

Fitness Friday — Half Marathon Training Update #3!

Haaaaappy Friday! Here I am with what may be one of my final half marathon training updates! Only 4 weeks left till my race, and I am feeling extremely confident and excited!

To see why I chose to sign up for a half marathon, click here… and also be sure to check out training updates #1 and #2!

Before I get to my update…I was really touched to have several friends tell me this week that my blog/running chronicles inspired them to start the Couch-to-5K program. I sometimes feel like my blog only serves as a journal for me and an accountability tool. I post things like my training plan and budget online not because I want to brag about how far I can run, or how little I can spend on groceries, but because it makes me more likely to stick to it.

So when my friends told me they were starting to run, I felt touched that I inspired them, but I also kind of felt like a phony — a lot of the time, I honestly still feel like a beginner myself. I decided to look as far back as I could at my MapMyRun stats. I couldn’t look all the way back at January 2011 when I started… However, I was surprised to see that there wasn’t that much of a difference in my distance and pace between June 2011 and June 2013.

Screen shot June 2011

June 2011 — 21 miles total, max distance 2.5 miles, 9:39 min/mi pace

Screen shot June 2013

June 2013 – 18 miles total, max distance 3.3 miles, 9:30 min/mi pace

This means in my first 2 1/2 years of running, I only increased my distance by about 1.3 miles, and stayed about the same speed. My running progress clearly did not happen overnight right when I started running, and I think it’s important for me to share that.

Fast forward to today — since June, I have increased my furthest distance by almost 8 miles. If you had told me in January 2013 that I would run 2 10Ks before the year was over, I would have never imagined that that was possible. Just goes to show how much I know 😛

ANYWAY, on with the training update!

Funny story- when I went to update my training log, I noticed something that I’m guessing none of you did either… I totally left an entire WEEK out of my training plan!

Check it out – after week 8 it skips from January 26th to February 3rd! Whoops.

Anyway, that’s all corrected now. I decided to cut week 1 out of the spreadsheet and start with the week of December 9th, since that was the week that I actually registered. Check out my progress:

half-marathon-progress cropped-2014-02-11

A couple of things to note: I had a bad head cold weeks 7-8. Running actually seemed to help because it loosened up the phlegm in my throat/chest, but I decided to skip my early wake-up to lift weights on February 1st. It was TOTALLY worth it!

Overall, I’m extremely happy with my mileage (and pace! I was taking it easy yesterday and ended up averaging 9:08/mi… what the what!?) and I’m feeling confident about only training to about 11.5 or 12 miles before the race.

Thoughts After 10 Weeks (or is it 11?):

aches & pains

My knee pain is pretty much 100% gone (!!!). It hurt on my runs this week only because I bruised it up pretty good at dodgeball on Sunday 😉 Note to self: invest in knee pads!

However, fun development- I have a black toenail now. It was really painful for a couple of weeks but now it’s just ugly. I really hope it doesn’t fall off before the race! I have been pretty nervous about it so I embarrassingly went to my friend Chris (who signed up to run the race with me and Tyler! Yay!) and warned him I was about to gross him out, then asked if he had ever had a black toenail. His response: “I have one now!” LOL #runnerproblems

the course

IMG_3573 IMG_3303

The entrance to the bike trail, and the hill of death that I’ll have to endure at the end of mile 7

Nothing new here! I have pretty much mastered most of the course. I don’t think there’s any part of it that I haven’t ran (or biked) on. That is an awesome feeling.

IMG_3767

abandoned bike trail on my 11 mile run in the RAIN

One thing I am a little bit concerned about on race day is whether I will be able to keep up with Chris, and whether Tyler will be able to keep up with me! Haha. Chris came with me on a long run last month and we run at a pretty similar pace, but he has already completed 13 miles several times before. Tyler is only up to 9 miles in his training, but he is a fit dude so I have no doubt he’ll be fine! Can’t wait to push and challenge each other during the race…and enjoy a beer together at the end. 🙂

lifestyle changes

I couldn’t believe how much more energy I had for my 11 mile run having gotten a full 8 hours of sleep and not drank the night before. Lately it’s always been one or the other — I either have a few drinks on Friday night, or just don’t end up getting a good nights sleep. But both at the same time? I need to make this happen more often!

I have definitely been cutting down on the weekday drinking (no more wine with dinner, sigh)…it’s just better for me in general, and easier on my budget! I can also confidently say that I am following the 80-20 model of healthy eating- most of my meals are extremely clean and involve Greek yogurt/fruit (breakfast) or beans/quinoa/bread/veggies (lunch and dinner).. Breakfast and lunch are clean every day of the week, and I’d probably say on at least 4 days my dinner is homemade and plant-based as well.

That’s it for now! Have a great weekend, friends!

What is your greatest running (or fitness) achievement?