All The Coffee: Enhance Your Endurance & Tampa Bay Coffee & Art Festival

All The Coffee: Enhance Your Endurance & Tampa Bay Coffee & Art Festival

*Disclaimer: Thanks to the Tampa Bay Bloggers I was able to attend the Tampa Bay Coffee & Art Festival with a friend for free in exchange for social media love and this post. All opinions are my own.*

This past Saturday, I was able to attend the Tampa Bay Coffee & Art Festival! As soon as I got word on this opportunity, I knew I had sign up! I mean it’s COFFEE plus tastings and demos, art, live music, and food, you can’t go wrong! A portion of the proceeds went to Bay Area Foundation for the Arts (BAFA), a organization that helps students and teachers further their knowledge in fine and performing arts. I brought a friend and we both had a great time. Great tastings and brews. It was from 6-9pm, first thought: “YES! Coffee!” and second thought: “Late night coffee?…not gonna stop me though.” Took on the brews like a champ and didn’t have *much of a problem sleeping* 😉 worth it though!

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It was inside at the Noise Box, a local venue in Brandon, FL . They had a variety of local vendors such as pottery, art, books, home decor, etc. They had a corner with baked goods to pair nicely with your brew too! All good looking options of course because what else would you pair it with? At each corner of the venue they had four tastings. All unique with different flavors. I tend to like medium roasts, so my favorite was the Colombian.

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They featured a local company, Zeal Coffee Roasters. My first time having their coffee and their cold brew was AMAZING! I don’t always go for the cold brew since it is a little strong for me, but their ‘s was heavenly with a little cream that made me melt–PUNS… get it cold brew, melt…okay I’m done. SO GOOD!

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After having walked around, tried the tastings and had our drinks, we were ready to head out. Since it was a three hour event, the event really took us an hour and half to get through because it was on the smaller side. I heard that it sold out, which I wasn’t surprised about considering a great turnout! However, there was only one roaster, which I feel wasn’t enough. Adding a second or even a third roaster each offering something unique would make it good to compare to. Overall, I would attend this event again because it offered great coffee culture, something I really enjoy and appreciate. Coffee really is an art!

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If you haven’t already noticed, I LOVE coffee. Hence, me jumping at this opportunity to blog about my experience! Aside from the tastings, demos, and info sessions, coffee has other benefits besides the caffeine kick. Although they’re are many benefits to your brew (a load of antioxidants, lowers your chances of certain types of cancer, fights depression) this reason is my favorite: Enhances endurance and improves workout performance! <— Can I get an HELL YEAH??

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For particularly tough workouts either running or a strength day (like a HIIT workout), I grab a cup a couple hour before if I can. Having that boost of energy before your workout puts that energy kick to work! When you have as little as eight ounces, the caffeine travels into your bloodstream and surpresses neurotransmitters in the brain. Once kicked in, the caffeine takes over and masks the effort you’re putting into your run or workout. Result, you can push longer and harder. Read more about it here.Who needs pre-workouts right? Pair coffee with some easy digestible carbs and a little fat and you have the perfect pre-workout snack! My favorite is pretzels and peanut butter and an 8 oz cup of plain coffee with a little stevia. During my marathon, I made sure my GU contained some amount of caffeine and I saw a noticeable difference in that, just as I did when I tried the ones without caffeine. LOL. Wasn’t quite on my A game during those training runs.

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I’ve noticed an equal kick in a grande latte from Starbucks too, so amount is dependent on you. Make sure you have water along that coffee though! Coffee is a dehydrator so I tend to double fist my Camelback thermos with water and coffee in the mornings.

Make sure you attend the Tampa Bay Coffee & Art Festival the next time, enjoy your coffee, then workout afterwards and kill three birds with one stone (or cup) ! 😉

Enjoy!

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Beat Plateaus with Cardio Post Strength Training

Beat Plateaus with Cardio Post Strength Training

Good morning! We’re officially half way through the week…YES! If you need to freshen up your fitness routine, check out my new workout idea. I wish I had done this combination of cardio post strength day sooner, since it really is a great way to see how well you perform on tired legs (or just a tired total body) while torching extra calories.

Have you ever warmed up with some light cardio or gotten it done first, then hit the weights, and finished with a cool down? Nothing wrong with that! Pretty standard and it works. But if you always do it that way, plateau is likely to set in sooner than later. A plateau is a period of maintenance where there is no decline or progress of fitness. You maintain and that’s it. This can either be seen as good or bad depending on the person and their goals. This can happen to anyone, from the elite to the average joe.

As we improve and progress, we become more fit with a need to be more mindful of new challenges/ways to make us stronger and more fit. For someone who is very fit (think of someone working out six days a week) constantly changing the stimulus pretty often is necessary to reach goals, whatever those are. For someone new to exercise/never exercised before and needs to lose weight, they may see results with this standard routine for a bit. Eventually after keeping up with their exercise routine, they could plateau later and need to adjust. Different timelines and goals for different people!

For those of you not really in a plateau right now (or just are good with where you are now) but just wanna add variety, this is just as good for you too! Especially those of you not really into losing weight, but wanna up your running game and have a race coming up. I tried this concept to switch up my running most of all: Running AFTER strength training! WHAT WHAT! yeah, it’s hard AF. But its great and really gets your body working. Running tired especially after a leg heavy strength day last Thursday was not really on my agenda, but I felt great so I figured why not. Although five miles was not on my list either, I really did enjoy that different kind of push. The first one to two miles were tough, then my legs kinda figured it out. The last mile was definitely tough though *insert fire and explosion emoijis.* I kinda wish I had done this more during my marathon training #MyOneRegret, but know I know for next one! 😉

If running five miles post strength seems to far too soon, stick to one to three miles and keep in tough or just above a conversational pace. See my post on pace runs to add the idea of an intense and short amount of cardio. I took it slower, and still felt I got a challenge out of it. If your legs feel like they’re gonna fall off, you’re doing it right! The point is keeping the cardio for after the weights, so regardless how fast or far you’re going, you can keep it easy or tough and still get benefits from it.

All ya gotta do is tack on the cardio at the end of your strength routine (whatever that is for you) and BOOM you will feel a huge difference! Even if running isn’t your thing, a bike ride, elliptical, walk, etc. works too! Keeping the heart rate going post weights is key!

YOUR TURN:

-Any new workout routines you’ve tried recently?

-What is your preferred form of cardio?

Squeeze in Speedwork with Pace Runs

Squeeze in Speedwork with Pace Runs

Hi Friends! Within the last few weeks, I changed up my speed work sessions since I needed a switch up from the usual tempo and interval runs. I’ve found myself kinda lazy at getting up to run, even though I still go–time change hasn’t helped that. Or I just don’t feel like running far. Both realities prompted me to push for harder, shorter, and more intense runs. I figured, get an extra half hour of sleep, not running as far, AND boost my speed? Can’t beat that!

Quick back story: I’ve not added speed work into my running routine because I never felt that I needed it. Silly I know. I always thought until my sophomore year of college, “why bother when my goal is just to finish?” I finally tried it until I heard after the upteenth time that it would be good to enhance speed, boost metabolism, become more efficient, burn more calories etc. That’s when I decided to use UT’s track for intervals. I sprinted the straightaways and walked the turns for two miles. After a few weeks of adding it twice a week, I experimented with longer intervals/shorter rests and tempo runs. Then I got my Garmin Forerunner 15 watch and have kept it up ever since! I made sure I added it to my marathon training as well since I was determined to complete it in less then four hours. Which I did! I truly believe speed work was my secret weapon in that race besides just the long runs. Read about my marathon journey and training here and here.

 I routinely added pace runs to my weekly running because of time, convenience, and benefits gained in such a short amount of time. What are pace runs? Runs that are thirty minutes or less, ideally twenty minutes, of intense effort without stopping. Think of a sprint, but controlled aka PACED. You should not be able to talk and should be huffing and puffing. If you’re reading this and are thinking WTF…you can see how twenty minutes is about all you can do! For me, that’s about two-two and a half miles. I’m pretty spent let me tell you haha. Guess what though, in twenty minutes you’re DONE! You’ve heard of “minimum thirty minutes of exercise a day” yes, this is true, but INTENSITY is where its at! Pace runs up the game because they incorporate this factor. Adding this along a HIIT workout pairs for a great strength and cardio combo!! BOOYAAA kill two birds with one stone. I did this on Easter last weekend to burn up those Reese’s eggs and chocolate bunnies I ate…definitely can say I put those to good work. Check out it out here

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Sunrises make pace runs worth getting up for or worth hitting snooze 😉 its all about the PACE

Before heading out for your pace runs, make sure you do a good warm-up. Although at times, I’m not the best at this, especially since I just wanna get going ASAP, I try to make sure I get as warm as I can before heading out the door. A easy jog around the block, jumping jacks, walking calf stretch, hamstring toe touches, squats, butt kicks, high knees etc. for a minimum of five minutes to get ready. Remember you’re GOING FAST for a continuous amount of time, so being properly warm is important. Sometimes I start warming up in my PJs if going in the morning, before even getting dressed to run LOL just so that I can hit the ground running literally, once I get outside.

If twenty minutes is too much at first, break it down by distance. Run one mile fast to start or try running hard for five to ten minutes. The point here is INTENSE meaning you can’t talk and may feel winded. Remember not too winded though that you could pass out…not THAT haha. You feel challenged and legs should be burning. In case you’re an exercise science nerd like me, you’re tapping into anaerobic respiration, a form of oxygen consumption that breaks down energy fast resulting in high lactic acid buildup. This buildup creates that “burning” sensation in your legs. You’re burning fat here at a more elevated rate as well. Another perk of pace runs especially if you’re running for weight loss.

Post run, just like a proper warm-up, make sure you get a get a good cool-down too. Walking around allowing for your heart rate to get back down and stretching well helps get you recovered. Foam rolling after these runs is important too! Adding pace runs starting once a week and working up to twice or even three times is ideal. GOOD LUCK!

YOUR TURN:

-Do you do speed work? What kind and how often?

-Do you hate to love speed? Is it your fav? Are you meh?

-Best music for speed?? I love anything with a fast beat and motivating lyrics. Specifically #thatPOWER by will.i.am

Gasparilla Race Weekend + Reward Yourself with a Customizable Decal

Gasparilla Race Weekend + Reward Yourself with a Customizable Decal

Hi Friends!! If you live in the Tampa Bay area and are a runner, you most likely have heard of the Gasparilla Distance Classic. A weekend usually in the second to last week in February starting on Saturday and ending on Sunday. If you’re a newbie to running or a veteran half marathoner, you’ve got a few different distances to pick from: 5k, 8k, 15k, and half marathon plus three challenges of multiple races throughout the weekend. Starting with a great expo on Friday and into Saturday, awesome looking medals for each distance including exclusive ones for each challenge, pre-race goodie bag, and a well-organized race in sunny Tampa and you have a great race weekend! This is one of my favorite weekends of the whole year and my favorite part of living in Tampa. Its so fun and local to this area, its hard not to run and/or spectate!

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Christina ran the 8k Saturday and Caitlyn cheered from finish! Glad to have kicked off race weekend with these two 🙂
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See ya at the finish, mom!

I’ve participated in the race weekend since starting school at the University of Tampa in 2011. My first half marathon was Gasparilla in 2012 and I participated in the Amber Challenge (5k, 15k, half) last year in 2015. Hard to believe that I’ve run the half marathon/participated in the race weekend for the past five years! Yet again, they did another great job putting the race weekend together. Unfortunately the races fall on the same weekend as the Disney Princess Half Marathon which I haven’t done yet (or any disney race for that matter) because I love this whole weekend that much! I basically walk out my front door and walk to the start, its my home running route, weather is great, and its a reasonable price (sorry disney). Not to say that I won’t do a disney race, I want to eventually, but right now this weekend is something I’ve participated in every year and I can’t break that!! 😉 Honestly though, I wanna run the Tower of Terror 10 miler in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Hopefully 2017 (when they re-open the race) it will work out then!

The week before the race, of course I felt I was overdoing it a little…smh :/ I was feeling some tightness in my right foot after my ten mile run and from that moment, I got back into some foot strengthening/maintenance exercises and made sure I foam rolled (both of these I’m not good at doing regularly) and for a week I took off running. I did this before my marathon too because of a similar issue, so I repeated it again before the half. I went to Soho Cycling, strength trained, did yoga, ate well, rested, etc. All that was left was awaiting for my Mom to show up for the weekend! Another reason this race is tradition is because it always falls on the weekend after my birthday. A good excuse for my mom or both my parents to come watch and spend the weekend with me. Who doesn’t love when you get personal cheerleaders AND they help you celebrate your birthday a little longer?! My mom arrived Saturday morning and we went shopping, had lunch/dinner our favorite places. Daily Eats is BOMB has a killer shredder bowl for pre-race fuel and Oxford Exchange is AHmazing for their Chicken Burger and sweet potato fries post race. I crave a burger and fries post race of almost any distance. I think its the ultimate cheat meal especially since I don’t typically make this kind of stuff for myself during the week. Isn’t that what a cheat meal is supposed to be?! YAS.

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Who doesn’t love local strawberries covered in chocolate??

The morning of the race was Sunday at 6am so I got up around 4-ish to eat, get myself prepped, and be ready to head out the door around 5:30am. I woke up and felt like I was hit by a truck…yeah. Not a way to start a half marathon. I remember thinking, “you can go back to bed and not run or you can suck it up and run.” I chose the latter. Sweating out whatever I had could be okay. I felt confident after having deciding and warming up so I was already feeling better mentally. I made it to the start and bang went the gun and off I went! Overall weather-wise it was great. I started slow, about 9-9:30 min/mile and soon made up time as I got to mile eight. Past eight, I started picking it up. I was feeling much better! The last five 5k I was up to 8 min/mile and felt amazing. All I used was my nuun and ended up not needing any of my gu. I finished strong with a time of 1:51:51! I was so happy and proud! I had PR-ed and cut four minutes off my time from last year! Although my marathon was about a month ago, it significantly helped me mentally and physically with my improvement in my time. By far it gave me a new appreciation of running half way! BEYOND GRATEFUL pretty much sums it up.

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Post race, my mom and I walked back and got ready for the rest of the day. We had brunch with LiveSweatSleep post race, got strawberries in Plant City, did some home improvement stuff like putting together the rest of my room and defrosting my fridge–fun stuff. That night I started feeling pretty tired and worn out. I was also starting to feel that “hit by a truck” feeling aka getting sick. My mom made me homemade chicken noodle soup and we just relaxed until she left the next morning!

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Caitlyn join in for post race brunch!

Overall, besides starting off the race not feeling so hot to the weekend overall being fun and memorable complete with my PR, it was great!! An awesome way to start year 23!

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Breakfast thanks for THE Columbia for a killer way to refuel post half!

SO…have YOU run any of the Gasparilla races yet?? Maybe you’re like me and run the same race every year or you just tackled a new distance? Maybe you ran disney or another race recently and want to reward yourself for your hard work? 🙂 I gotcha covered. Whatever the accomplishment, check out these custom made decals by ThisCrazyLifeofMine!! I saw them on LiveSweatSleep‘s car and thought how cute and clever AND get all distances covered in the same place.

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They’re awesome because they make great car bling, they’re a cute way to reward yourself and show off your accomplishments, and its completely customizable 😉 From the color of the hearts, the distances, and line at the bottom, you can make it uniquely YOU. Check out This Crazy Life of Mine for more info! Be sure to email crazylifeofmineblog@gmail.com for a $1 off when you mention AliGoesTheDistance.

YOUR TURN:

-What race have you done recently? Did you try a new distance or race altogether? How did it go??

-Any pre-race rituals? 😛

My Journey to 26.2: My Training

My Journey to 26.2: My Training

I wrote about my race day experience last week, now I’m writing part two of my journey about my training. Aside from it being an overall positive and successful race, there was way more then just “running all the time” to get me to the finish. Any runner who has done any kind of race, knows its more then that. This training was unlike any kind of training I’ve ever done. Besides just running longer and farther, each run, workout, meal, rest day, etc impacted my training in some way. They said marathon training is a beast in itself, and it is completely true! Don’t be discouraged though, if you getting an itch to do it, that means one thing: SIGN UP! I’ll be honest though, it was a very grueling three months and am thankful I can relax for a little from the training. I would say if you are seriously considering signing up for one, take a couple factors into consideration:

  • Type of work schedule:
    • Early mornings or late nights
    • Full-time vs. part time
    • A new parent or stay at home mom
    • Student in school
    • Traveling
  • Time of year of the race and training (e.g. marathon during the fall months requires summer time training)
  • Finances/budget–because marathons ain’t cheap
  • Type of race you’re interested in running (big city, rural, themed, destination, cause)

 

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Found my name!

REAL TALK: I mention these factors because training for a marathon is commitment. You don’t wanna run a race with high expectations then realize you picked a bad time to train based on whether you’re in school or have a crazy work schedule. This was a big factor in my training because I had the availability to train for one. I was not in school during my training which my a BIG difference in my commitment and availability to focus on my training and in some aspects, performance. Not to say if you are in school or have a busy/crazy schedule you can’t do one, just know it may take more advanced planning and/or a stronger level of commitment compared to someone who is more flexible. I purposely planned to do one once I graduated. I felt ready to make a commitment and knew my schedule allowed for it. To be honest, I would hesitate doing another once I start graduate school because of the need to focus on studying instead of the commitment to train. *this idea is subject to change* 😉

Back to the training! As mentioned in the race day post, I ran about four times a week. I combined running with twice a week strength training days, typically a push/pull day or an leg day and upper body day. Each strength day would take me about an hour and a half to complete since I like to take my time. On days that I was pressed for time, I did HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts and targeted total body in about thirty minutes with minimal rest. During the middle of my training, as a way to double up, I would run in the morning and do a strength day in the afternoon. Working on tired legs post run was tough but a good challenge since it mirrored what my legs could typically feel during the race. I did about three to four targeted exercises based on what I was doing that day plus two exercises for my core. I would finish with cross training on the bike or if I didn’t run the morning before, I would do a high intensity speed session of thirty minutes on the ‘mill before stretching and cooling down.

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Where accountability and motivation starts for the week ahead!

Aside from strength training days, I incorporated Peerfit for my cross training or anytime I wanted to change up my routine. Peerfit is a company creating a versatile, multi-location subscription used at various boutique fitness studios around Tampa Bay, Orlando, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Sarasota, and Jacksonville. See my post on working with Peerfit and experiences I had with them here. I was able to cross train using them at a variety of places through Bella Prana Yoga & Meditation, Soho Cycling Studio, and Mantra Tampa. The days of cross training helped keep my cardio fitness up and strengthing weaker muscles while giving my body a break from the running. I really enjoyed cycling, especially since I don’t consider myself a “cycler”–in fact, I wasn’t into it because I thought it was boring. Soho Cycling changed the game on that one! Mantra Tampa is a pure strength training workout using a Megaformer.  It was all about the burn, helping me focus on the slow part of the movements–so killer and unlike any soreness I’ve had in awhile lol! It worked my entire core and targeted my whole body in fifty minutes. Yoga helped with stretching out any tight muscles and helping me feel relaxed. I’m not so much into the sweaty, hot yoga classes but the stress relief and flow classes did wonders for keeping me flexible and balanced.

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I rested about one-two times per week. If I felt I needed another day, I took it. If marathon training taught me one thing about myself, is that I am incredibly stubborn and wanting to keep pushing for more. Pushing for more isn’t a bad thing, but on some occasions I forced myself to relax and if feeling the urge to still do something, I picked a yoga class. Resting is SO important during this kind of training. It really is a big part of the process in that it allows you to let your body heal and mind refresh. Check out my post on the benefits of rest here.

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Running down Bayshore Blvd

Meal prep wasn’t bad because I already love being in the kitchen. I tried to minimize on how much I went out, about once or twice a week at the most. I cooked and prepared ahead of time occasionally, but most nights I get home late, so I incorporated my assembly only meals for dinner–aka SALADS! Yes, they were filling and full of only the good stuff. Each one had a bed of greens, various veggies, a lean protein, nuts/seeds, cheese, dried fruit, and simple easy dressing. If anyone doubts this amazing meal, all I’ll say is see for yourself because this is heaven. The best part is that it didn’t leave me filling full and gross before bed!

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Another thing I incorporated was protein shakes. I made them veggie-based (usually with spinach or kale), added fruit (fresh and frozen–either pineapple or mango), almond milk, and protein powder. Simple. They were great because I took them on the go, knew what was in it, snuck in a serving (or two) of vegetables, and it held me over. Best part was that I couldn’t taste the veggies! As always, I drank a lot of water. I didn’t ditch coffee, in fact I needed that even more since I was getting so tired! I drank minimally. I didn’t miss drinking and wanted to only fuel myself with quality ingredients. Even post training, I’m not drinking and want to continue to keep it to a minimum. I felt my best and want to keep it that way! Aside from eating healthy, I definitely had my share of carbs, but nothing crazy. Still kept it to a serving. I really like quinoa and brown rice the best. Seeds of Change Brown Rice & Quinoa –the best of both worlds, was a great thing to have on hand since all you needed was to mic it! Super easy and healthy. I didn’t deprive myself and let the eating take over my life. If I was hungry, I ate. If I was full, I stopped. I had sweets when I wanted. I ate chipotle, which came in handy for those carbs post run or before a tough workout–LiveSweatSleep gets me 😉 No deprivation allowed! Marathon training isn’t the time to lose weight. You need your body to be fueled to the very best in order to perform.

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If you haven’t noticed a pattern, I’m really into bowls…especially from Chipotle

This is my training in a nutshell. Three months of planning each week of workouts in my logseven to eight consistent hours each night of sleep, positive vibes and thoughts, and supportive family and friends. I’m hoping to include these components of training for future races while learning more about myself. In the meantime, you’ll still find me on the run but not going quite as far LOL and getting ready to gear up for my next race–the Gasparilla Half Marathon!!!

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Miami Marathon finisher medal #MiamiFamous
My Journey Through 26.2 Miles: Miami Marathon Race Day

My Journey Through 26.2 Miles: Miami Marathon Race Day

Hi everyone! It’s been a bit since I last posted since I wanted to think about my journey of my experience and not rush into just posting just to “post.” So the whole point of my blog was to document to my training for this race, but really I’ve been posting a lot about my active lifestyle in other ways besides running. This blog isn’t going to end anytime soon!–I’ll still use it to share my experiences throughout my running, fitness, recipes, and active lifestyle interests. I’m breaking up this post into two parts: Race Day & Training. There’s SO much to share so I would rather focus on one part of my journey at a time. This post is all about RACE DAY. The finale of my training!

I signed up for the marathon in July and started my training this past September. I booked about three months worth of training to play it safe while making room for life to happen, injuries, flexibility, etc. I ran about four times a week, which is what I typically do anyways but this time they were more scheduled runs. I still kept running for fun, but each run had purpose behind it in some way. They were an easy, tempo/speed based, long, or a combination of two.

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Time for Packet Pickup at the Expo

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Marathon Weekend/Day! 

I drove home that Friday before, stayed the night there, and the next day drove down to Miami with my mom. The expo was amazing and was in the Art Deco district of Miami. There was so many vendors, food samples, and gear! I bought the Miami Marathon 26.2 mile car magnet and bought an “official” Miami Marathon long sleeve shirt! (not included in goodie bag). My mom and I walked along the Wynwood District (a part of the Art Deco district), saw the Wynwood Walls—which I recommend! and found a local coffee shop called Panther Coffee…AHmazing. They have a delicious latte I must say. Its always ritual for a pasta dinner the night before, so I made reservations at this local Italian restaurent called Spaghettino through Yelp. It was so cute and local! I had gluten free pasta with homemade tomato sauce, mozzerella cheese, fresh basil, and seasonings and it was simple and delicious. I didn’t over stuff myself and made sure to drink plenty of water. We got back to the hotel and relaxed. I tried not to think about my race, look at the course map, over plan or think about any of it. As soon as I posted pics to social media, I played solitaire (my fav mindless game) then went to bed around 9:45. Early to bed before my wake-up at 3:30am to eat!!

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Wynwood District in Miami
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Mom’s really excited for our Italian pre race dinner!

Marathon “breakfast” included copious amounts of peanut butter with gluten free pretzels and an orange plus a bottle of water. I got to corral H (a corral are sectioned off areas behind the start to help keep runners organized, usually based on estimated finish times before the start of the race). My mom and I headed down around 5:15/5:30am all bundled up waiting to start at 6am. It was in the 40s that morning plus a windchill–one hell of a day to race! haha. I had two long sleeve shirts on for layering plus cheap gloves which I ditched at mile one. Throughout the beginning of the race, I didn’t kill myself and went about a minute slower then usual and took my first gu at mile four. I picked up the pace gradually, and had a gu every three miles.

By mile thirteen, I was feeling great! At this point I was considering removing and ditching my top layer. After going back and forth in my head, I decided against it. I honestly didn’t want to stop. I wanted to keep going! There was a breeze the whole time, so keeping both layers was tolerable. One regret I had was looking back where the marathon and half split…..LOL all mental! Coconut Grove, a quaint residental and historic area of Miami, was my favorite part of the course. It was somewhat shaded and the houses were beautiful. Some local families had tables of there own with beer and candy to hand out!

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Pre-Race and Bundled Up before heading to the start!

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I stayed focused throughout mile twenty. Mile 23 was probably my toughest. It was the pier (not sure the name) but that’s when I felt myself somewhat fade…eekk!!! It was also the mile my music died due to my playlist not being long enough and ran out of my electrolyte drink, Nuun in my Nathan Sports water bottle…oh well! Again I didn’t want to stop so mentally I pushed through. They say count down from twenty, but six more miles was too much. After starting to feel tired, I up-ed my gu to every two miles. At this point I was so over the gu, which at this point had eight of them, it took me my all to get it down. I used gu as another form of measurement to the finish as well haha…” I would say *two* more gus till you get real food!” If I had any more then eight gus during this race, I would have puked. Sorry #TMI haha. I took gatorade the last three to four miles and had my last gu at mile twenty-two. I felt my feet burning from blisters forming and was WAY past feeling anything in my legs. I kept saying to myself “all your effort and training is right here in front of you” periodically throughout the race, especially approaching mile twenty and the last six miles.

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Most iconic pic of the whole race haha! Dad snapped this at mile 11

The last mile was momumental. Out of pure adrenaline, my pace was around seven or so minutes. I wanted to see that finish as soon as I could! We ran over the Biscayne Bridge before heading into mile 26 and although the bridge was hardly anything, it was the most mentally tough part of the course…tougher the mile 23. It didn’t help spectators saying, “finish is right over the bridge!” because it wasn’t. It was over the bridge, plus the .2 which was torture.

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SO CLOSE!

I’ve never been so happy to finish a race EVER!!!! The spectators along the sides of mile 26 were amazing. So many people cheering and smiling! I couldn’t help but smile too despite the pain. The finish was RIGHT THERE and BOOM I crossed it. Just like that, I FINISHED and was in one piece! Just like that it was over. I did the biggest fist pump at the finish. Then all of the sudden all the soreness and pain went straight to my legs and my body was numb. They tunneled us through the finish and gave goodie bags with pretzels and water. I was delirious. At the end of the finish, there was mom and dad!!! They had the cutest and brightest signs and were right in the front of the crowd. I was ELATED to see them. My mom cried and gave me a hug and my dad just gave me a hug and congratulated me. I needed water and fluids immediately but oddly there was not many options in the post race area 😦 one of the downsides in terms of poor planning. I sat down and couldn’t move and had no appetite. Three blisters later, but thankfully that was my worst “pain” the whole race. Thank God my mom surprised me with a new pair of flip flops called, Oofos. They were HEAVEN and was like walking on a cloud. We walked ten blocks back to the hotel…the longest ten blocks of my life even though I know it was good for me to keep moving. I showered, changed, and put on my CEP compression tights. Time for lunch at the Biscayne Tavern!

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The FEELS are REAL

We went to a place for lunch called Biscayne Tavern for lunch, another Yelp recommendation. All I wanted post marathon was a huge A$$ burger and fries. This place hit the nail on the head let me tell you. The burger was amazing with all the fixings and sweet potato fries were on point. I didn’t have a beer because I feel like I couldn’t completely stomach that post race plus I felt dehydrated. After lunch we headed out of town and back to Delray where we arrived around 3pm and I went to bed, iced, ate more, and went to bed again. LOL.

I took off Monday and stayed home and recovered. I got a massage the next day at The Sagely Willow Massage & Bodywork Company. I’m not one to get massages, but today it was SO necessary! It was amazing. They used a car buffer/polisher on my body and it did wonders! I felt significantly better and was able to drive back to Tampa that evening.

I must say it was by far the most amazing running experience yet AND I would do it AGAIN! I’m proud to say I ran the entire race, did not need first aid, didn’t stop for water, gu, to use the bathroom, or tie my shoe, walk etc. I knew signing up I would RUN the entire thing and nothing else. Not to say walking if I had to would be the end of the world, but I had trained the three months I did to RUN it.

I finished strong with a time of 3 hours and 57 minutes and took number eight out of ten in my age group! All the training, early morning runs, the amount of time I spent on my feet, speed and intervals sessions, and gu of all things paid off!! Although I’m incredibly proud of my time and place, I am most proud of my commitment to my training. I could have said f— it, I don’t want to run today, but I sucked it up and perservered on ALL of my runs. I did not miss many of my runs. I knew the training I was getting into and the time I would be devoting to this. In some ways training is like a part-time job. I made sure to not look at it like this, but more of a dedication to my passion and an opportunity to improve and challenge myself. I can say I don’t regret training for this distance and making it part of my schedule the past three months. I can officially say that it’s true, miles change you, and I’m grateful every single one.

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Standing and Smiling Post 26.2! Look at that hardware!

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Results are IN!

 

 

 

Reap Benefits of Recreation

Reap Benefits of Recreation

Friday is here YAY! That means more time for sleep, catch on work, fun things to do, and new ways to get FIT! Sometimes getting into a gym after work can be a drag, especially when friends or co-workers invite you to happy hour.

If we wanna maintain goals and stay on track, its good to have back-up plans or new ideas to have in mind that will keep us focused. So what if we can’t get in that 45 min spin class we wanted? Maybe a walk or a bike ride on Saturday will work. Its a about balance. Something is better then nothing right?! That’s where recreation comes in! No one seems to use that word anymore…lol. I have my minor in it, so I’m used to calling any activity (gym or no gym) that name.  I mean running, cycling, dance, hiking, swimming, walking, stand-up paddle boarding (another fav!), roller blading, fitness in general etc. is considered recreation. (btw who still roller blades?!?). So when you dread heading into the gym, re-think it and see if any of these activities seem, hmm…fun-er? 😉

  • Running—the whole foundation of my blog is top of my list!
    • Benefits: aerobic, anywhere, only need shoes, quick!
  • Swimming—a great summertime sport that includes some resistance, not just aerobic
    • Benefits: aerobic, low impact, some resistance involved, total body type movement
  • Walking—anyone can do it!
    • Benefits: somewhat aerobic, great/easy way to get moving for any fitness level, no special clothes or equipment required, fun, convenient
  • Hiking—not really here in FL (although in some parts, yes!), varying terrain makes this activity tough and invigorating
    • Benefits: aerobic, great way to see the outdoors, good for doing in groups, challenges balance, works small muscle groups in the legs and foot
  • Stand-Up Paddleboarding—A Floridian’s favorite, or can be done on any flat lake or calm inlet.
    • Benefits: somewhat aerobic, great for balance, core, and posture, good for groups, great workout for upper body
  • Roller Blading—An oldie, but goodie!
    • Benefits: aerobic, great strength workout for legs, convenient, good for balance and core

Yes, these activities do NOT require a gym, but who said to improve you had to be in one?? Not here! This time of year can be tough getting in a workout, so the options above offer something for everyone without completely ditching your workout altogether…better then no workout, AM I RIGHT?! They might not create the strength training, heavy sweat sesh workout all of us crave, but they do offer tons of benefits. A good thing to keep in mind around the holidays, when you’re with family, friends, co-workers, etc and want to do something together!

YOUR TURN: Any good go-to activities you guys do that help with staying on track during the holiday season?? Comment below!

 

Holiday Motivation: Maintain Don’t Gain (or lose sight of your goals!)

Holiday Motivation: Maintain Don’t Gain (or lose sight of your goals!)

Hi There! I took a small hiatus from blogging over the holiday, now I’m back with some new topics to share with you. Everyone knows the holiday season is upon us. For most people, that usually means more eating out, falling off of a workout routine, other seasonal stressors, and other ways to put health and fitness on the back burner. I myself, find it hard to juggle my workout schedule among a lot of things going on, especially during this time of year. SO, I’ve decided to share some motivation, tips on setting small goals for each workout, and why staying fit over the holidays matter.

Starting to feel that “dread” or “guilt” upon starting a workout or run or for not getting your workout in? I’m already there on some days honestly! #keepingitreal…LOL. Marathon training during this time of year has its pros and cons (burn off those christmas cookies right?) so I get it.

  • Motivation wise:
    • Get half of the workout done anyways. Thirty minutes or less? Make it hard, fast, intense. This goes for HIIT workouts and speed/tempo runs.
    • Holiday fun runs or a 5k—so many good reasons for a 5k! Holiday runs are especially fun since they’re seasonal and allow you dress up. Get a group together or your family.
    • Experiment with *healthy* holiday recipes–a lot are re-created with healthy substitutes. My mom does roasted brussel sprouts with cranberries. It a festive dish and its healthy.
    • Holiday Challenges—I’ve done a running streak (with clothes on–LOL!!) where you run a mile a day from Thanksgiving till the new year. Not into running? Try doing a set of ten push-ups, holding a plank, etc. every day till the New Year instead. Get your friends together and make it fun.
    • Out of the box ways to motivate yourself: make your phone screen something motivational, a good quote maybe? Seeing it often helps you focus on your goals.
  • Go in the gym with a plan…Okay, so you made to the gym. Now you’re trying to figure out what you wanna work on. You might be feeling that “dread” set in but you know you need to do something. Instead you wander around and might not be efficient with your time. Aside from just showing up, plan your workouts ahead of time (see post on using a planner). For example, know you’re gonna do an upper body HIIT workout. Its okay if you don’t have the exact plan in front of you  (sometimes I don’t) but knowing what you’re doing *somewhat* makes it easy to get it and get it done.
  • Staying fit matters…Yes, we like to indulge this time of year. We should!! Tasty, wonderful food and treats are among us. It’s special. Try not to completely let it go to the point you hate yourself for it. All those thirty minute or less workout/runs, walks, and push-up  challenges, etc matter. Healthy food choices count too. Starting the new year with maintaining your goals is much better then having to start all over again with everyone else at the packed gyms etc. That thought alone makes me cringe! #packedgyms.

No one is perfect, but its the moments you don’t want to do anything that count the most! Plan it out, get it done, feel great, repeat…all season long. 🙂

Save the Wildlife, then Play All Day!

Save the Wildlife, then Play All Day!

This past weekend, I participated in the Save the Wildlife 5k at Busch Gardens with a friend from the Y and her family. A great turnout and race, it is definitely something I would do again. Not only did I help promote YRUN, but was able to catch up with my Fit2Run friends too! The weather was cloudy and cool…perfect weather for a run and day Busch Gardens. I felt good too and was really looking forward to a run of a short distance!! Knowing the race was 3.1 miles not 6+ was a relief haha. If anything, this marathon has been a good reminder that shorter distances are good for a change too as well as prep my mind for being race-ready! It had been since Gasparilla that I had done my last race, so it was time for something new. I will say, I do not race often so this one was a special kind of race. Aside from the crowd at the race, the crowds at park weren’t bad either, probably because it looked like it was going to rain the whole day, but didn’t! YAY for short-ish lines! The most we waited was 45 min for Cheetah Hunt (BG’s newest coaster as of about four years ago), but even that was do-able. Too cool for water rides, but all we wanted was to ride the coasters anyways! Sheikra never disappoints!!!!! 😉

A great turnout and race, Save the Wildlife 5k definitely something I would do again. I signed up with a friend from work and her family and we ran it together. The packet pickup and race was well organized and fun. Both easy locations to find on Busch Gardens property. Packet pickup was offered Thursday and Friday before the race. The course was flat with small inclines thrown in around the park. We ran throughout the park, near the animals, and around the roller coasters. The race started and finished in the same place. There was about fourteen hundred participants…which seems like a lot, but they did a great job “containing” us (making it sound like were a bunch of caged runners LOL) within the parking lot making the start convenient to where we parked. The goodie bag was simple but just enough: a race shirt and ticket to the park for the day complete with reusable bag 🙂 (no extra clutter yay!) Besides perks of a ticket to the park for the day, free parking, and a medal roughly the size of a dinner plate, this race benefited the Wildlife Conservation Fund. Not only was this just a pre and post race type race, but a fun event and day experience for everyone. Seeing proud runners wear their shirt and medal around the park made for a memorable and good way to connect with other participants during the day. I’d say a win-win for everyone! Check out the pros and cons of the race below! *Note: my opinions and thoughts only*

Save the Wildlife 5k Medal
Save the Wildlife 5k Medal
YRUN Tampa and Fit2Run representing at the race.
YRUN Tampa and Fit2Run representing at the race

Pros:

  • Well-organized packet pickup and race
  • Perks with registration include: ticket to the park for the day, free parking, and medal
  • Good time of year
  • Flat course (minus a few inclines throughout the park)
  • Family friendly
  • 7:30am start (early but not too early)
  • Entertaining—animals out for petting and holding at the finish
  • “Tailgating” from your own car experience post race before park opening

Cons:

  • Pricey-er registration than the average 5k ($35-$50)
  • Cotton shirt
  • No recyclables (water bottles were given out at finish)
  • No race day pick-up
  • No strollers
  • Not advised that if left after the race and came back for park opening, parking fee ($17) would be enforced (see “tailgating” pro above)

 

Been There, Done That…Now What?

Been There, Done That…Now What?

Even with the most experienced runners, we all tend to get “stuck in a rut.” It’s a normal part of any fitness routine. It usually means that either we hit a plateau, need fresh workout ideas, a change of scenery, a buddy a to run with, new music, the possibilities are endless. These are just a few things that help me break out of my routine.

As soon as I start getting bored thinking about a run (which doesn’t happen often, but recently with mileage it is becoming more so), I know something needs to change. I take it as an opportunity to learn something new or challenge myself. However, with training for a marathon, it is a whole other beast to say the least. It is a different kind of commitment for sure which takes a lot of time and patience. I find myself always looking for ways to break out of my rut, since I find myself either running alone (not so bad since its my preference) or in the same location most times since its convenient. Aside from location, music, even a new workout top or headband—I must say a new piece of workout clothing is quite motivating! It’s not always enough.

Below are some tips and thoughts that go through my mind that help distract me during a rough patch or get me to look forward to my next workout or run:

  • FOOD- YES! Of course many of us runners or anyone who likes a good sweat are foodies at heart—at least I AM!! 😛 I come up with what I look forward post run or workout that gives me the right fuel, is tasty, or something special that makes doing the workout worth doing in the first place. Dread six miles early morning on Saturday or a workout class you have to drive to? Make homemade pancakes for breakfast with all the fixings and let it be special or go out for breakfast after.
  • Break down the milage or time. Fourteen miles sounds long right? Yeah, that’s what I thought this past weekend. Instead I thought of seven miles out and seven back, plain and simple. I knew I was only doing seven one way, which after resting the day before sounded do-able. My mind was fresh and was more mentally strong knowing I broke it down into managable miles or making my workouts simply thirty minutes.
  • Music that PUMPS YOU UP! Find a song that triggers your inner BEAST and let yourself get excited knowing that song is perfect for speed or tempo day when you need to kick it up or slow and steady for long run. Playing it before your workout, as you’re getting ready and part of your warm-up are great ways to get your mind psyched for your workout ahead.
  • New Route, Same Location. Yes, I mentioned this earlier, but a new place does wonders. Either re-looping the same route or reversing it helps a lot. The night before mapping out on mapmyrun.com is good for keeping nearby as well as checking out other runner’s routes.
  • Find a Race! The excitement and enthusiasm of other runners in a race is great motivation. With that comes a new location in some cases, other people, a little friendly competition, and maybe a PR! 😉
  • Running Groups. These are all over the place now. Its a great way to meet people who already have the same interest as you. They offer socializing and weekly meetups which helps with motivation as well. Not just for running either, but biking, walking, and workout groups too! Best part is that they’re free (or a small fee)! Checkout meetup.com for local groups in your area.