Thursday, May 16, 2013

What's a Healthy Balance?

I couldn't be more excited to come to you tonight with a guest blogger post! In honor of National Women's Health Week,  Michelle Pino contacted me to write about living a healthy lifestyle, overcoming daily stresses and treating your body right.  Michelle is a Spa Manager at Skana in Upstate New York.  Although she does not currently have a blog, I think you will all love what she has to say, and hopefully she will start a blog soon so that we can read more of her inspiring posts!

Michelle has provided these tips in hopes to educate others on how to lead a more motivating and less stressful life.  She believes taking a more focused approach on our health will result in a more balanced life.  Her hobbies include cooking, reading, and learning about healthy lifestyles.  I hope you enjoy this guest post as much as I do!

What’s a healthy balance?

It is well known that diets are not a sustainable way of life. Sure, you may see some quick results in the beginning, but ultimately diets fail because they do not mimic your actual lifestyle. Additionally, diets actually slow your metabolism by severely restricting calories, thus sending your body into starvation mode. In this state, your body naturally clings to every calorie to be stored as fat for later use.  As National Women’s Health week winds down, there is still time to start positive changes.  The month of May is also the host to National Physical Fitness & Sports Month.

The mantra for exercise has been, “More is better!” This is, in fact, false, and has had one of two effects on most people. This idea has caused some folks to spend way too much time in the gym without seeing any results. For others, it has completely intimidated them from even wanting to begin an exercise routine. More is not better, better is better. But again, how do you strike the right balance?

Even the idea of achieving balance can be quite overwhelming and send your mind into a tailspin of checklists and unreachable goals. This is where an inspiration board enters the scene. An inspiration board is an incredibly useful tool for helping you to plan, track and achieve your fitness goals.

An inspiration board helps you to strategize by starting you on the brainstorming path. It is a concrete and tangible way to process your thoughts, ideas and dreams. It can be as detailed or as simple as you like.

Places to look include:
➢          Magazines
➢          The Internet
➢          Photos of people, places, or objects
➢          Recipes
➢          Athletic gear

Find your anchor for the board:  The purpose of the anchor point is to give you a reason for why you will stick to this journey of health even when you want to throw in the towel.

The inspiration board is to serve as a reminder of why you are doing what you are doing. It is both motivation and accountability.

You want everything on your inspiration board to feel connected. Take time to look over each piece and decide what is truly worthy of your board. Make the board as specific or general as you like to fit your goal. 

Here is an example board:

The Warm weather and plants in bloom has me inspired to start enjoying the outdoors.  Green is everywhere this time of year, and it’s a great color to be inspired by.  Personally, I am not trying to run a marathon; I just want to live a healthy balanced life.  It is important to do what makes you feel good.  So if walking and bike riding is your thing, go for it! 
Golf is a great example.  I’ve been taking lessons at Kaluhyat a Syracuse golf course near my work, as a way to stay active outside.  Enjoy the outdoors and go for a walk.  To me, there’s no better feeling than enjoying the outdoors and the reason for being the focus of my inspiration board.
Simple yoga stretches are great because they can be done in the comfort of your own home, or even in the office. There are a lot of great resources on the internet for beginner yoga. 

The biggest change in creating a healthy balance is improving what we eat. Smoothies make for an easy on-the-go breakfast for those hectic mornings when you are trying to get the family out the door.  Smoothies are great because of their versatility.

What better way to boost motivation than to treat yourself to some fabulous workout gear or a fresh pair of new kicks?  Bright colored apparel, like these Asics from Zappos, is very popular this spring.  Bright colors are so appropriate for the warm weather and motivation!

Luckily we live in an age where it's easy to find delicious healthy recipes like Mediterranean Paleo Pizza. Mmmmm! I am not on the Paleo diet, but this recipe sounds really tasty!  If you’re going to start eating healthier, it’s best to keep an open mind and try new things.

Let your creativity flow! The visual boards can also assist in planning baby showers, birthday parties, and maybe even your next vacation.  What would your Fitspiration board look like?

Michelle's post inspired me to create my own Fitspiration board:

As you can see family, friends and my boyfriend definitely help to motivate me to live a healthy lifestyle and they also help to keep me balanced.  

I put Kara Goucher at the center because, as my favorite elite marathoner, I think she put it perfectly when she said, "Watching the world's best fires you up to achieve your own feats of greatness." 

If I could split my time evenly between running and SoulCycling, I think I would be the happiest person in the world.  Maybe not the most balanced, but certainly the most charged with endorphins.  

And last but not least, visualizing healthy food makes me crave healthy food.  

Now it's your turn!  Show me your Fitspiration board!

Thank you, Michelle!!! 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Nashville Country Music Marathon and a Rainy Girls Getaway

I don't even know where to begin.  Nashville is possibly my new favorite city, and this is coming from someone who experienced about 72 hours of pouring rain while visiting Nashville.  I loved the southern sweetness of everyone we met; I loved that everywhere we turned there was live music; I loved that things were actually relatively affordable; I loved the ridiculous amount of food that was served at every meal; and I loved the general appreciation for country music.

I have so much to say, and so many pictures post show, that I think I may have to do a separate post just to talk about Nashville.  

But first, The Rock'n'Roll Nashville Country Music Marathon!  Brace yourself, I get wordy after big races...

This past weekend Anna, Kate, Molly and I flew to Nashville for a mini-getaway and for the marathon and half marathon.  I was more excited than usual for this race weekend because it was Anna's first half marathon, my girlfriends were coming - and as always they were an unbelievable support system, and because I had actually followed some semblance of a training plan.

When we arrived in Nashville, we made our way to the hotel, checked in early, and then headed over to the Expo to pick up our numbers.  Since it was Anna's first half marathon I stalked her every move to capture the excitement.  She was extremely sick (and still is), so the pictures are only now being posted because she was a trooper and her race went off without a hitch.

Molly and Kate were also troopers and walked around the Expo while I geeked out over my obsession with running related products.  This Expo was honestly one of my favorites, well done RNR!  I left with a new running head band that read "Boston Strong" and a new pandora charm that said Nashville 26.2 with a guitar.  

What was even better was that Nissan had a meet and greet with Kara Goucher set up for the afternoon.  think I've made it clear how much I look up to Kara Goucher, so this put me on cloud 9 and was a great way to kick off the weekend.

After the Expo we had a nice pre-race meal at Cafe Nonna, and Anna and I tracked down race-day breakfast.  We went to bed earlier than ever so that we'd be ready to catch the shuttle at 5am for a 7am race start.

When we woke up it was raining.  No, pouring.  No, borderline hurricaning out.  Despite the disgusting weather we lined up with all of these crazies and took off for a long rainy run.

Rain or shine, RNR did a GREAT job! There were countless amounts of corrals because there were over 20,000 runners.  As annoying as it is to start a race towards the back end of 20,000 runners, RNR had a wave system set up to alleviate some of the chaos.  I didn't cross the starting line until about 30 minutes after the race started, but what was great, was that by the time I was crossing there was room to move as well as time to move before they let the next corral go.

Another awesome part about this race was that there were bands along the course.  Because of the incessant rain, there were far fewer bands out than there would have been, but for future RNR CMM participants, I'm sure this will be a fun perk.

The volunteers were friendly, the spectators were resilient and withstood hours of rain, and there seemed to be endless supplies at the water stations.  There were even first aid stations set up where runners stopped for vaseline for arm chafing because of the friction that the rain caused (overshare? ehh).

My favorite spectators made it through the rain and watched from mile 17 and mile 26.  When I saw them at mile 26 it was such a surreal feeling.  At that point I could barely breath or move, but seeing them made my day and I knew there was only .2 miles standing between me and having a blast in Nashville with them.  Not only did they withstand the rain (and also get covered in mud), but they also made awesome SporadicRunner cards and running presents for Anna and me.

From the above, you would think this is my standard "I LOVED EVERY SECOND OF THIS RACE!" post, but believe it or not, and as much as I loved the details, this wouldn't be the first race I'd recommend to people.  It was great, and I haven't gotten to the best part yet...wait for it... but I've never experienced so many hills.  I had read reviews about the Nashville course being hilly, but I did not expect each of the 26.2 miles to have a hill.  After hitting 21 miles of hills we entered a park.  Leading up to the park there were spectators everywhere.  Once we got to the park, it felt like we were running in the middle of nowhere.  My legs burned from the hills, and I desperately needed affirmation from spectators, so I wasn't thrilled that there were were about 3 miles of solidarity this far into the race.  I don't know what they could have done differently, but if I ever become a race route planner (which I doubt I will - but IF), I will not pick a course with 26.2 miles of hills and an empty park.

Also, though this was unique to this specific day, the rain was relentless.  At dinner someone asked me at which mile I hit a wall, and my honest answer was I didn't hit a wall, I hit a million walls.  Each time I ran past a sewer and the rain water submerged my feet up to my ankles while rain continued to pour down on my head, I hit a wall.  I wanted to scream, and I wanted to give up, but what I wanted more was to PR.

And that brings me to the best part of the race.  I am so excited to say that I ran the Nashville Country Music Marathon in 5:07:27.  Though I was hoping to break 5 hours, this was a 34 minute 1 second PR and I will take it!

Congrats to everyone that braved the rain in Nashville, that ran in Eugene, that ran the Nike Women's Half in D.C. and all of the other races this past weekend! 

How did your races go!?

What I'm Running To: Get Lucky - Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I'm In.

As the NYRR logo would say... "I'M IN." 

But more appropriately, I'd like to say....

I'M IN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Who else is running the 2013 ING NYC Marathon?!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Run for Boston - #BostonStrongNYC

It has been a week since the Boston Marathon bombings happened and I still cannot think of anything else.  Every free second that I have had in the past week has been consumed by talking about the Boston Marathon, scouring over various news websites, and analyzing twitter and social media that discusses the bombings.  Though I have not found answers as to why something this tragic would occur during such a wonderful event, I have found that the whole country has come together to show Boston love and support.

As support has come from many angles, and in various capacities, I have gained a profound sense of appreciation for the running community.  One runner in particular, Pavement Runner, organized a nationwide run in honor of the Boston Marathon runners, spectators, volunteers, etc. Abby at Run Stronger Every Day, organized the NYC run, and a large group of NYC runners met at Tavern on the Green to run the lower loop of Central Park. 

No one will ever be able to make sense of what happened last Monday, but by coming together and continuing to run, we remind ourselves that no one and nothing can take away the great love that we have for running.  

Tonight we ran for Boston.  Tonight we ran for those who could not finish. Tonight we ran for those who may not run again. Tonight we ran for family and friends of the victims of the bombings. Tonight we ran for us. #BostonStrongNYC

Saturday, April 20, 2013

MORE/Fitness Women's Half Marathon

Last Sunday I ran the MORE/Fitness Women's Half Marathon.  I started this race recap post Sunday night, but was exhausted, so I decided to wait to put it up until Monday when I got out of work.  And then, the bombings at the Boston Marathon happened and I could not think of anything else.  It didn't feel appropriate to post or say anything that was not Boston related.  Now that the second suspect is in custody, it feels like this tragedy may have an end.  The events that happend this past Monday will not be forgotten - and the reactions of runners, volunteers, medical staff, first responders, etc. have helped restore faith in humanity at a time when we all need it most.  I've never been more proud to be from Boston and to be a part of the running community. 


I never mentioned that I was running the MORE/Fitness Women's Half Marathon, because it was a somewhat spontaneous decision, sparked by my friend Jess' decision to run.  Once Jess mentioned that she was planning to sign up I started to think about my pre-marathon tendencies and realized, what better way to make sure that I am incorporating longer runs into the final days before tapering than to run a half marathon.  So Jess and I signed up for the MORE/Fitness Women's Half Marathon three weeks ago, and quickly got excited for the race.

I love running half marathons, but what made this half marathon even better was that it was an all women's half marathon.  It's really inspiring to look around during a race and to be surrounded by women of all different ages being active and challenging themselves.  Everyone was really supportive of each other throughout the race, and the volunteers kept saying "women run the world." I'm not necessarily a feminist - despite what my sister would have me or anyone believe - but ever since the Spice Girls made it big, I've been a huge fan of "Girl Power."

Even with my sporadic training, I know that I have learned a lot through this training cycle.  I've learned what works for me as far as eating, sleeping, and hydrating before and during the race; I've learned that I am capable of pushing through hills, and that walking through them hurts rather than helps; I've learned that running my own race is far more important than getting caught up in runners around me; I've learned that my attitude before and during a race has a large impact on how well I am able to do; and I've learned that one of my favorite things about running races and long distances is pushing myself to do better each time.

MORE/Fitness Magazine Half Marathon Expo

So with each each of these lessons learned, I woke up Saturday and began preparing for Sunday.  I drank water, ate small meals every two hours and carbo loaded throughout the day.  Katelyn and I made our way to the MORE/Fitness Women's Half Marathon Expo to pick up our numbers and to check out the vendors.  It was an awesome Expo and I'm already in the process of convincing my mom to run next year just so that she can experience the Expo.  The Expo included smoothie demos and samples, protein bar samples, running gear vendors, running related jewelry vendors, upcoming race information, make overs, and more.  Each participant also received a tech shirt and a copy of April's MORE Magazine and Fitness Magazine.  I left the Expo with a positive attitude ready for Sunday.  To continue with the pre-race relaxation, I met my roommate for manis/pedis, and then we made our way to Whole Foods to pick up ingredients to make pizza.  It was a perfect pre-race day and night.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough from Whole Foods, Mozzarella
Cherry Tomatoes, Basil and Grilled Chicken.

Sunday morning, Jess and I made our way to Central Park, arriving about a half hour before the start.  We met up with Katelyn for a quick pre-race good luck and then settled into our corrals.  Over 7,500 people ran the half marathon.  Considering that the race was two and a half laps around Central Park, this is a lot of people to have in one place.  For the first ten minutes of the race Jess and I felt like we were playing a game while we dodged runners.  At some point we lost each other, but it was awesome knowing that my friends were running the same course.  

As always, NYRR did an awesome job organizing the event.  There were water stations at what felt like every mile and a half of the course, and there was gatorade at every other fluid station.  Unlike Grete's Great Gallop, the MORE/Fitness half was two and a half counter-clockwise loops.  For any runners who plan to run this race in the future, this means that you hit the biggest hills in Central Park twice.  The course is part of my long runs for training so I was used to the hills, but hitting the extended hills on the Upper West Side twice, in a race, is not ideal.  Even though I could feel every single step of the second loop, there were volunteers placed along the hill to cheer runners on, which really helped.  

As I made my way into the last two miles, I looked at my garmin and realized I was going to PR if I kept my current pace.  I pushed through the final miles of the race, and finished in 2 hours 16 minutes and 4 seconds, and PR-ed by 5 minutes and 9 seconds!  I was psyched!

As is true with most, if not all, NYRR races, there were bagels and fruit at the finish line. I don't even think that I like bagels in general, but between free bagels at races, and bagel Friday at work, I guess free bagels have become a selling point in my mind.  

Overall - I loved the MORE/Fitness Half Marathon and look forward to signing up for it again next year!

Today marks the one week countdown to the Rock n Roll Nashville Country Music Marathon.  Based on last weeks race, I'm hoping that I will PR in Nashville next week, too!

Will any of you be at the Country Music Marathon next weekend?! 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Pray for Boston

I am devastated to hear about the explosions at the 117th Boston Marathon earlier today.
Emotions run high at all marathons - but typically in a positive respect.  
I cannot begin to understand how this historic event went from being such an inspiring day to an unbelievably tragic day.  

To the runners who finished, I am sorry that this tragic incident tainted your accomplishment.
To the runners who were stopped before being able cross the finish line, I am sorry that this tragic incident prohibited you from completing the marathon after months of hard work and dedication.

Runners, Spectators, Volunteers, Friends and Family of those that ran the Boston Marathon today, my thoughts and prayers are with you.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

New Bedford Half Marathon Recap

Eek.  I didn’t mean to disappear for about a whole month.  I wish I could say it’s because I’ve been super on top of my training, or because I’ve been doing absolutely fabulous things that made it impossible to sit down for a second and write about it.  In reality, I’ve been working, A LOT, and throwing myself pity parties left and right. 

But, I’m not coming back to talk about what a whiney baby I’ve been for the past month.  I am here, belated as always, to recap one of my favorite races. 

I love half marathons.  I love the distance.  I love the atmosphere and energy at the starting line and throughout the course.  But what I loved most about running the New Bedford Half Marathon last weekend on St. Patrick's Day, was the fact that my Mom ran it, too! 

Several months ago, my sister, who goes to school near New Bedford, mentioned the New Bedford Half Marathon to us.  While she was only joking about running the Half, my Mom and I signed up and started to get excited about her first race.  My Mom followed the beginner’s training program by Hal Higdon, read Kara Goucher’s running book, and come race weekend was fully ready to cross the starting line and make her way to the finish.  I couldn’t be more proud of her for completing the Half in and of itself.  But what’s even more amazing is that she planned to finish in 2 hours and 36 minutes, and she crossed the finish line at 2 hours and 28 minutes (actual chip time was 2 hours and 25 minutes!).  She PRed on her very first race!!

As I have been mentioning, training for me has continued to be sporadic while work has been hectic.  I have tried to run as often as possible, but in this case actions speak louder than words, and I certainly have not been following through.  Despite my less than adequate training, as of late, I finished the race in 2 hours 21 minutes and 46 seconds, which is only 30 second slower than my last half marathon.  I was content for now, and motivated to get back in a groove so that I can PR in Nashville. 

I was the annoying runner, though, that crosses the finish line and refuses to move.  I anxiously waited with my iPhone camera ready to snap a picture of my Mom crossing the finish line.  I couldn’t be happier at my own annoyingness because I was able to capture this:

Race Recap: I had read good things, and heard great things about the race, and it lived up to the hype.  For a local race I was very impressed with the number of water stands that they had, the number of people out to support the runners, and the after party festivities. 
The course was well-marked, and gave me a whole new perspective of the town of New Bedford.  Prior to the race I had seen the inside of my sister’s apartment in New Bedford (which I love! – but I didn’t know what the town was like from seeing this), and I had seen the industrial areas in New Bedford.  But I had not had the chance to see the downtown area or parts along the water.  I loved running through the town! 

I have finally learned my lesson, and now, prior to races I check course maps to see whether there will be hills or anything out of the ordinary.  From the course map, I anticipated hills at the 3rd mile and at the 12th mile.  My Mom and I had prepped for this, but I’m not going to lie, the hills were a little bit harder and longer than I expected.  Also, I did not recall reading anything about a hill at the 2nd mile, and well, it was there!  So for future New Bedford Half Marathon runners, prepare for a hill at the 2nd mile, a lengthy hill at the 3rd mile, and a never ending-borderline-unbearable hill at the 12th mile. 

The water stops were perfectly placed at every two miles, and the volunteer staff was really friendly.  One thing to note, though, is that fuel (Gu, ShotBloks, Powerade Gels, etc,) is not given out along the course.  I always bring my own because I’m particular about brands and flavors, but I heard a few runners at the finish line say that this disappointed them.  I generally would not expect to receive fuel at a race unless it is sponsored by one of the fueling product companies.

At the end of the race, the New Bedford Half Marathon Committee gave all of the runners New England Clam Chowder and Fish Sandwiches to sample the local seaport food. After running 13.1 miles in the freezing cold, this was absolutely amazing!

So, overall, I loved the New Bedford Half Marathon. I would certainly do this race again, and I’m psyched that I got to run with my Mom for her first Half Marathon!

Over the past week, I've been trying to get back to training.  I will be posting my training/lack of training updates soon.  But I am happy to say that today I ran 20 miles! :) This week is the last week of the crazy season at work (hopefully).  So I plan to be back to posting regularly soon.  

I hope everyone has a great week!!