Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon (& Vacation)

Around this time last year, I pitched the idea to Brittney that there was a race in Myrtle Beach that had an awesome medal and that we should take a trip to participate in it.  Little did I know that she took me very seriously and actually registered us for the race as my Christmas present.  Can you say best Christmas gift ever?   We quickly planned our week from there and went ahead and booked a condo for four days.  Fast-forward to a couple of weeks ago when Brittney’s husband got a new job in a new city.  They bought a house and were scheduled to close on their new home right when we should have been laying on the beach so we were sort of at a loss as to what to do.  We ended up compromising so that my handsome fella and I would head to the beach on Thursday (instead of Wednesday) and then Brittney and Cameron would join us Friday night after they closed on their house.  Talk about a tight time frame.  photo 1 (2)

So, this past Thursday morning, my fella and I headed to South Carolina to start our vacation.  We were able to check in early (hallelujah) and we immediately parked our butts on the beach.  Since I had only ever visited Myrtle Beach in the summer months, I was pleasantly surprised as to how nice and warm the weather was.  There is no better  view that the vast ocean with the sand between your toes.  photo 2 (2)

Friday we made sure to be at the beach as much as possible.  I got in a three mile walk by the ocean that morning to get my legs ready for the half on Sunday and that really helped get the day off to a good start.  It was so nice to be able to lay on the sand all day listening to the waves.  Thankfully that relaxation allowed me to take a little one hour nap on my quilt.  Before heading to dinner we stopped by packet pickup.  It was in a beautiful hotel and was very well organized.  The expo was bigger than I was expecting and the race apparel was on point although I didn’t actually purchase anything.  We had received two complimentary tickets to the Medieval Times dinner show so we treated ourselves to dinner there after picking up our race bibs.   I love free things.  Cameron and Brittney made it to the condo Friday night and we all sat in the hot tub until staff kicked us out.  Vacationing with friends is so much more fun!   photo 3 (1) photo 4 (1)

Saturday was spent vegging out on the beach.  We took a break to grab lunch at one of my favorite seafood joints, Mrs. Fish, and then made sure we laid by the ocean for the remainder of the day.  It was hard to remember that we actually  had to race a half marathon the next morning but we didn’t let that damper our good time.  We braved the freezing cold water and actually went swimming in the ocean for a little bit.  That evening we headed out to take some beautiful photos on the pier before grabbing dinner.  We picked out a nice little oceanfront restaurant in the center of town and chowed down on some fantastic food.  Nothing we ordered was even a remotely smart choice for a pre-race meal but hey, you only live once.  My footlong chili dog tasted wonderful and luckily didn’t bother me on race day.  After getting full we headed back to the hotel to soak in the hot tub with some interesting Canadians we met before heading to the room for an early bedtime.  photo 5 (1) photo 1 (5)  photo (8)photo 2 (4) photo 3 (3)photo 4 (2)

Race morning came very quickly and I woke up before my alarm.  I was excited with a few nerves.  We weren’t going out there with a goal time in mind but I was scared about all the things that could go wrong during the race.  The morning was very low-key which helped calm the jitters.  Brittney and I let our gentlemen sleep in and we drove ourselves to the start line.  The start was held in a mall parking lot which was very convenient.  Everything was well organized and we never felt confused as to where to go.  I will say the port-a-potty line was the longest I had ever seen but it seemed like there were dozens of them so maybe everyone just waited until the last minute.  We lined up in the 12 minute mile corral and were totally fine with that.  The only goal was to run as long as we could at the beginning and then start intervals.  photo (7)

Once the gun went off, we made our way around the perimeter of the mall which took about one mile.  Brittney and I were running a steady pace as we headed out onto Grissom Parkway which is where we would be for several more miles.  As each mile went by I tried not to look at my watch but I did take note that we were running a consistent pace.  The water stops were very well stocked with plenty of volunteers.  Brittney grabbed water at each stop but I didn’t start taking fluids until after mile 3.  We made it to mile 4 before taking our first walk break.  It felt good to give our legs a rest and we could really feel how beneficial it was once we started running again. We made it to mile 5 and took another walk break.  This basically became our strategy for the remainder of the race.  We would run to a mile marker and then take a quick break that was usually around 1-2 minutes.  Surprisingly our pace rarely dropped due to our walk breaks.  I will chalk it up to us subconsciously running faster during the running portions to make up for the walk breaks.

There was a lot of crowd support and we both continued to feel good for most of the race.  It was a welcome relief to finally get to Ocean Blvd where we would finish the race.  The wind was strong and very chilly on our skin but it was much needed since the sun was out in full force.  Brittney and I pushed each other through each mile and just kept the finish line in mind.  Around mile 11, my legs really started to hurt.  They were heavy and hurting and that is not a good combination.  I later learned that mile 11 and 12 were some of our fastest splits of the day.  How does that happen?!?!  We could see people on the streets walking back to their hotels with their race medals so that kept us motivated to press forward.  Right around the 12.5 mile mark we saw our men standing to cheer for us. We actually didn’t notice them until we were right beside them or else we would have made a better effort for a good photo.   photo (6)

We could see the turn to the boardwalk ahead and I was elated.   The finish line had been directly next to our restaurant the previous night so we knew exactly what we were about to experience.  The boardwalk was very windy and twisted and people were cheering everywhere.  It was a truly magical feeling running the final sprint directly beside the ocean.  We finished strong and we also finished right behind a couple which ruined the photos that Cameron and TJ were all set up to take.  Seriously if we had planned better, then we would have had beautiful finish photos.  Oh well.  photo 2 (3)

After making our way through the finish chute and collecting our massive medals, we headed right down to the beach to soak up the views and to take some photos.  I think every race should finish beside the ocean.  The medal was huge but was unique in that it had a heavy magnet on the back and the ribbon was velcro so you could remove it and place it on your refrigerator.  It was definitely a medal worth running for.

Our official time was 2:35:40 which was incredible for us.  We haven’t been training for this race and given the horrendous food choices we made (hello, it is vacation), we were super pleased with the time. We had sort of imagined a 2:45 or even 2:50.  This makes it my 4th fastest half to date.  This race was also my 14th half marathon and it marked off my 6th state on my quest to do a half in every state.  photo 3 (2)

The race offered shuttle buses from the finish back to the mall but luckily Cameron and TJ drove us back.  Once we picked up the other car from the start it was back to the condo to shower, pack, and check out.  We sat on the balcony for a bit taking in some last minute ocean views.  Before leaving Myrtle Beach we stopped at River City Cafe for some delicious burgers.  I will always stand by the statement that burgers and fries are the perfect post-race meal.  My burger of choice was the fried mac and cheese burger and boy was it wonderful.  I was so glad to have my belly full before making the long drive back to East Tennessee.  photo 1 (3)

I’m taking today and tomorrow as a rest day even though I’m not really sore at all today.  I do have a blister under one of my toes but I’m keeping it doctored up nicely.  This was a great race with superb race organization.  We loved the course and the event as a whole.  The fact that we turned it into a couple’s retreat made it even better.  Today it is back to reality but I’m very thankful for a refreshing and relaxing vacation.  When is the next one?

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Weekend Shenanigans

Greetings!  I hope all of you aren’t suffering from a case of the Mondays and that your week is off to a spectacular start.  My legs are still hurting from hiking Mount LeConte last week but I’m being very truthful when I say it was absolutely worth it.  I had an eventful weekend and I enjoyed following so many of my internet friends on social media as they accomplished some huge races this weekend.  Congratulations to all who raced Chicago or any other race and a big congratulations to those who got in one of their final long runs before their big fall race.  You all rock!  Since I’m sure you all are so interested in my life since I last posted, let me give you the run down on all the shenanigans that took place.

  • Townsend 10k.  I did a fun little 10k through Townsend on Saturday morning.  There were only 36 runners in the field but I love a good small race.  I did this race in 2010 before I lost weight and finished dead last with a time of 1:24:29.  This year my only goal was to finish since I still had tight calves from hiking and I am doing a half marathon this coming weekend.  The race ran down the sidewalk to the end of town and then we went through an underpass to the other side of the road and came back on the bike path.  It was a perfect course except I would have preferred we did the bike path first and came back on the sidewalk since all the hills were at the end of the race.  I started very strong and was on pace for a PR (although my goal wasn’t to PR) but I tried not to focus on the numbers and to just get my miles in.  This was the first race I have ever ran wearing a hat and I did so because it was pouring rain prior to the start.  The rain ended up stopping right before the race and the hat made me hot the entire time.  Around the four mile mark I started to struggle and went to a run/walk combination.  I watched my pace drop and knew that even though I wouldn’t come away with an overall PR I could still blast my time from the previous race and set a course PR.  The finish line saw me at exactly 1:08 which was a lovely 16 minute PR and I couldn’t have been happier.  I was so thrilled to be finished and even more thrilled that my stomach cooperated both during and after the race.  Age group awards were only given to the 1st place finishers but I finished second out of three runners in my group.  This race also had door prizes and I was fortunate enough to win a $20 gift card to a local running store.  I’m sure I can easily spend that and find something that I like so all in all the race was completely worth it.  photo 1 (1)
  • Chick-fil-a has pink ice cream.  Yes, you heard me right.  Chick-fil-a is one of the only types of ice cream I like and every now and then I will just swing in to get me a cone of that vanilla goodness.  Imagine my surprise when they handed me a pink ice cream cone.  Initially I thought that they had made it just for me since it is my signature color (I kid), but obviously they had added coloring to it for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Hopefully ALL Chick-fil-as are doing this because I think it is a grand idea.   photo (2)
  • Reflective vests from IKEA are totally not attractive.  My Momma is one of those impulse shoppers so when she saw reflective vests at our recent visit to IKEA she just *had* to buy one.  Her theory was that I could use it during my early morning runs to avoid getting hit by the paper boy.  Well, I finally broke out that fancy vest and let me just tell y’all…I could totally be a construction worker model.  Seriously.  This vest is just so flattering that I know you all will dash to the nearest IKEA and pick y’all one up for about a dollar.  Momma’s impulse buy is worth the price of safety and fashion.  photo 2 (1)
  • Volunteering at the Knoxville Zoo.  Our local zoo has an event every year called Boo at the Zoo.  It depends on volunteers to work booths and hand out candy to the kids that come.  I chose to volunteer last night and worked at a sports themed booth.  Since “cute runner girl” probably wouldn’t look like much of  a costume, I chose to wear a hockey jersey that I got for Christmas in 3rd grade.  It rained the entire time but parents still brought their kids and I was glad to get some service hours in.  My only complaint is that I couldn’t see any of the animals so hopefully next time I can check out the panda exhibit or the river otters.  photo (3)

I’m sure you all are so jealous of this exciting life I live.  One day I will look back and miss the times that a pink ice cream could completely make my weekend.  Until then, I’m going to enjoy it while I can.  Hopefully you had an exciting weekend!

Do you wear reflective gear to run in?  Do you have a zoo near you?  

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Training and Mount LeConte

It is no secret that I have been struggling lately.  I have had trouble finding motivation to run, workout, and eat right and have made all the excuses in the world to why I can’t.  This past Sunday I had the opportunity to interview potential candidates for this year’s Biggest Winner team.  If you recall, this is the team that I was on when I became a runner and dropped 37 additional pounds and my sweet Momma was also on last year’s team where she shed 20 pounds and had a killer half marathon PR.  It was an interesting and eye-opening experience as I got to talk to so many wonderful and worthy candidates and hear their stories.  As I sat there and listened to their responses it was hard for me not to think about how much I am currently struggling.  How could I be an example of healthy living and running when I myself was struggling.  September was a sort of low month for me in terms of healthy eating and staying active but I went into October still making excuses and refusing to “get back on track”.  I was burnt out on running and food was just too much of a temptation for me to resist.  I settled for taking daily walks with my Momma instead of logging my usual weekly runs.  And I honestly didn’t even care because I was just sick of running. But really, that was just an excuse to not run and to not eat like I know I should.

After the interviews, I sat and spoke with Coach Bryan for quite some time and had a big heart to heart.  Eventually he told me “stop talking about it and be about it”.  This really hit home.  As much as I talked about and invested energy in the mistakes and poor choices that I had made, I could have been working hard to better myself.  He also said “It doesn’t matter if you don’t feel like it.  Train anyway!”.  Again, words of wisdom.  He has always told me exactly what to do in my training but it is up to me to actually do it.  I could sense his frustration and he wasn’t taking me seriously when I told him that I was ready to get back on track.  He challenged me to prove to him that I could consistently run 3 miles every day this week (except Friday).  I knew he meant business so I didn’t dare question him.  He had my word that this week was the week that things would change and that I would get back to training with consistency and dedication.

So this week I stopped making excuses.  Instead of saying I couldn’t go run in the morning because it was too dark, I called my running partner and we met with flashlights for a morning three miler.  Guess what?  It wasn’t terrible and I felt much safer having someone with me as well as having a solid light source with our flashlight.  I now have no excuse not to run in the morning. On Tuesday and Wednesday morning it was thundering and lightening so that was an obvious damper on our running plans.  That is out of our control.  But instead of just letting that be a day ruiner, I set out to run Tuesday night after our Cross Country Championship.  Side note: I had a runner on the team that I coach qualify for the State Championship.  He’s awesome.  Thankfully Bryan came to watch the meet and ran the three miles afterwards with me so I wouldn’t be alone at night in a random park.

Wednesday night my running partner had to back out thanks to her husband’s emergency appendectomy and I could have easily bailed.  But I didn’t.  I went and got my three miles in and did them at a really decent pace plus my third mile was the fastest of the three.  Boom.  This was a pivotal moment for me because I have been making the excuse for so long that I couldn’t possibly run later in the evenings due to having worked and eaten all day.  I was wrong and it really was not that bad.  photo 1

Yesterday I took a personal day so my wonderful Momma and I could go on our annual hike to Mount LeConte.  This is a great 10 mile hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that leads to a little village at the summit.  People can make reservations over a year in advance to stay at the cabins on top.  There is nothing else of this caliber in the Smokies but it should be noted that there is no electricity at the summit so the accomodations are very primitive.  We have never chosen to stay the night so we were content with hiking up and buying a shirt, drinking some hot chocolate, and having our photo made next to the famous LeConte Lodge sign.  Having a photo made next to the sign is the proof that you were actually there.  Thanks to my Momma for spending the day with me since it was great training and great quality time.  photo 3 photo 2 photo 4 photo 5

Today is a rest day for me since my legs are trashed and I am running a local 10k tomorrow.  I’m so glad that I’m feeling like my old self again and dedicating myself to training.  This whole being a runner thing is serious business and I’ve come to realize that there will be a lot of ups but there will also be a lot of downs.  It is up to me to claw myself out of the downs and to not make excuses.  At the end of the day I am responsible for myself and my choices.  Thanks to all those who read this little blog and offer encouragement to me just when I need it the most.

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Canadian Candy, Turkey Legs, and a 15k!

Happy Monday to my Internet friends (or lack thereof).  What an exciting start to October we have had here in Tennessee.  I’m not sure what the weather is like where y’all live, but it is pretty freakin’ rad here in the South.  Fall is officially here and I could not be any more excited about it. This is going to be a very busy month for this Go Girl.  I just ended my first student teaching placement at a middle school and I am now completing my new placement at the local high school.  It is a brand new adventure and quite scary at the same time but I am thrilled to have the opportunity to learn from veteran teachers and really hone my teaching skills.  On my last day we had a big celebration complete with presents, pizza rolls, and a binder of letters that students had written to me.  A student gave me a box of Smarties and originally I thought they were traditional Smarties in a box but I was so wrong.  A Canadian client that works with his parents sent them a shipment of them and he decided to share with me.  They are basically Canadian M&Ms but they were so tasty and I was honored that he thought of me to share with.    photo 1

I completed my first 15k this past month which was a scary experience.  It ran right through my little town and had an endless amount of hills but the views were incredible and so were the attitudes of other runners.  In my experience on out and back courses, the people in the front tend to not say anything to those of us who may be in the middle or back pack.  This was absolutely not the case this time and almost every single runner I encountered said “good job” or offered some sort of encouragement.  Things like this is why I love the running community.  Around mile 8 I passed my Momma’s work and she was outside holding a sign and cheering for me.  It was a nice relief to see her and her support helped me through the final mile.  Since no one else in my age group decided to show up I was able to win my age group as I was the only participant.  I really didn’t mind and took home a nice water bottle as my prize.  My final time was 1:47:04 which averaged out to a pace of 11:30 which I was very proud of.  photo 3

A week later I was able to return the favor and cheer on runners at the inaugural Great Smoky Mountains Half that was put on by a company called Vacation Races.  This course also ran right through my small town and I sort of regretted not signing up for it but I enjoyed cheering so much more.  I had two cowbells and two signs and tried my best to be a source of encouragement right at the 12 mile mark.  It is always appreciated when people cheer you on in the final miles of a hard race and this race didn’t have a lot of spectators so I felt that it was my duty to provide free high fives to any willing person.  If you ever get the opportunity to either spectate or volunteer at a long distance event then please do because runners really appreciate it.   photo 1 (1)

We also attended to Old Timer’s Day Festival here in Townsend and ate all the festival food you could imagine.  My handsome fella splurged on a big turkey leg while I had a snocone and BBQ sandwich.  The elementary school that I went to growing up has an annual scarecrow auction as their fundraiser.  Lots of locals like to come and bid on these since the money goes directly to the classrooms and eliminates little kids from having to sell candy or other junk that nobody needs or wants.  We were very impressed with the creativity that was used in the scarecrows this year and it makes me nostalgic for those days when it was my class’s scarecrow being auctioned off.  photo 2 (1) photo

I’m looking forward to an exciting month ahead that includes a half marathon or two (or three) plus a mini vacation to the beach. Tennessee football games are also at the top of my list in October.  It will be exciting to head into November with fall racing under my belt before I begin training for my next big beast.  But I will save that for another post.  :)   I hope everyone has a fantastic Monday and that you have a great week!

Have you ever had candy from another country?  What is your favorite festival food?  

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Race Recap: Run Like a Diva Half Marathon

Have you ever signed up for a race really far in advance and just sort of forgot about it?  Back in March my Momma, Brittney, and I signed up for the Divas Half Marathon in Peachtree City, Georgia.  It was a race we decided to do purely for fun and it would make for a good weekend getaway girls trip.  Race week was upon us before we knew it and I began to get nervous.  I could obviously complete the distance but the heat and humidity worried me.  It took a lot of reminding for me to come to terms that this race was for fun.

Brittney and I took a half day off from teaching so that we could have plenty of time to make it to Atlanta and not feel rushed.  Momma and I picked Brittney up and the fun began.  We made a pit stop in Chattanooga for a piece of cake at the famous City Café.  It is literally impossible for me to come through Chattanooga and not stop for cake.  Try it out if you are ever in the area.  After our brief stop, we were back on the road.   photo 2

We decided to head to Expo before doing anything else to ensure we would have plenty of time to browse and get our packets.  Packet pick up was in a field house and it was basically a cluster thanks to all the cars in one tiny area.  Luckily we found a parking spot and headed inside.  Most probably will not agree with me but I love expos.  I like to see products in person and obtain some samples and just look around.  This expo was extremely underwhelming and left us feeling slightly cheated.  They did not even have fuel which put us in a bind since Brittney had planned on grabbing some gels.  Packet pick up was efficient and the volunteers were very friendly.  Mom had decided to drop down to the 5k due to some knee issues and it was no problem. We all had personalized bibs and my Momma’s said “Go Momma Pat”.  We loved this feature.  My big complaint was the shirts.  At registration I was excited that they had sizes up to 3X because a lot of times women feel left out when they can’t order their size.  However the shirts ran entirely too small.  Brittney ordered a medium and ended up taking my 2X shirt while I bumped up and squeezed into my Momma’s shirt that she ordered.  That was kind of a bummer so hopefully Divas will work on that issue for future races. photo 1

After getting our packets we hit up one of our go-to places for dinner.  Outback never disappoints.  Our server did not know that there was a half in town so we got to explain to her what a race was and she mentioned that her and her boyfriend recently started running.  She even wrote us a sweet note on our bill.  We were all three pleased with our meal.  photo 4

Race morning came and I don’t think any of us actually wanted to run.  We were tired and not looking forward to running in 100% humidity.  Thankfully I was able to eat a peanut butter sandwich and banana for breakfast.  We stopped in the lobby to request late checkout and I sure am glad we did because it was then that I noticed that I did not have my bib.  Rookie move.  Once we got on the road we began to realize that traffic was going to be an issue.  Cars were lined up for miles and we watched helplessly as the time we were supposed to be on the shuttle passed.  Finally after what seemed like hours we made it to the field for parking.  Busses pulled up and it was every woman for themselves.  People were seriously crazy.  We made it right on time and we obviously panicked for nothing although in the future I would highly recommend  a better parking situation.

The 5k started right on time and we stood by the starting chute in an attempt to cheer on my Momma.  Unfortunately we weren’t able to see her so we wandered around to stretch and hydrate a little before it was our turn.  This race used corrals but people sort of stood wherever which was kind of frustrating but it was all for fun so we didn’t really mind.  I’m not sure if there was an actual gun start but everyone started running and we followed suit.  The first couple of miles were on roads and had a few hills.  The hills weren’t like the ones that we have in Knoxville but were more long inclines.  We decided to run the first three miles and then switch to run/walk intervals after that.  The humidity was out in full force but I’m glad that the race organizers were honest when they said that the course was shaded.  The sun was rarely on us at any point in the race.

Around the three mile mark the course switched to a cart path.  I honestly wasn’t looking forward to this section but I ended up LOVING it because you never knew what was going to come next and it felt like a casual run on the greenway instead of a half marathon.  The only hard part was a few congestion issues but even that was rare.  Water stops were plentiful.  I read on the Divas Facebook page that some women were complaining about the lack of water stations but Brittney and I would both agree that were far more than any other race we have done.  I believe we counted ten and two of them towards the end were only a half mile apart.  Given how hot and humid it was, I was beyond thankful for plenty of hydration.  The cart path allowed the race to remain shaded and we kept a solid pace with our run/walk intervals.  After mile five we took some gel and that really boosted our energy for the rest of the race.  Our run/walk intervals dropped to about 3ish minutes running to 1:30 walking.  I was kind of disappointed to see our pace drop but I can honestly say we were having SO. MUCH. FUN.  Chatting with Brittney made the time fly by and even though we were quite literally dripping with sweat, we were enjoying ourselves.  I kept commenting on how this is one of the only half marathons I have ever done that I actually had a good time at.  We texted my Momma at every mile marker since we knew she was waiting on us at the finish line and she sent lots of encouraging texts our way.  photo

Finally we were within range of the finish line.  Some local high school cheerleaders were handing us feather boas and tiaras so that we would look like true divas at the finish line.  Brittney and I both passed on the boa but took a tiara.  The finish was at the corner of a long incline.  We put our pride to the wind and powerwalked up that hill like it was our job and kept a lookout for my Momma the entire time.  Once we rounded the corner we took off and finished strong.  There was pink everywhere and so many people yelling and cheering for all finishers.  I could hear Momma screaming the loudest of anyone.  The finish line chute was fantastic.  Handsome fireman were there to hand out our medals and they had volunteers there to give us champagne and roses.  We were truly pampered like Divas.  The post race food selection didn’t have a lot of variety but it was nice to have volunteers to hand us our snacks.  We found my sweet Momma who ROCKED her 5k and made our way back to the shuttle since we were already cutting it close on check out time at the hotel.  photo (5) photo (1)

Once we showered we were on the road headed back to good ole Tennessee but not without a stop for post race refueling at The Varsity.  We ordered every artery clogging thing on the menu and didn’t even think twice about it.  We also swung by IKEA to check out some things since Brittney and Momma have never been.  It was a lot to take in but my gosh how can you not love that place?  photo (2) photo (3)

I think all three of us were thankful to finally get home and get some rest.  It was a quick trip and although the race had a few logistical issues, it was a great course with plenty of water and support and the bling was completely perfect.  I would definitely do this race again and I’m already looking forward to my next destination race.   photo (4)

Have you done a Divas race or an all womens race?  What is your favorite post race meal?

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Playing Catch Up

Hi!  I’m so thankful that I’m back here writing.  As you may remember from my last post, I took a long hiatus from blogging.  You all haven’t been updated in quite some time and I like that this blog is essentially an online journal of my life so I wanted to fill you in on what I’ve been doing all this time.  Below are just some of the highlights of summer and some races that I have completed.  I sure did enjoy lots of crazy adventures over the past several months.

  • Completing the Three-Way Challenge at the Flying Pig Marathon.  Back in the spring my (unpaid) coach/mentor/friend Bryan had challenged my best friend Brittney and I to complete this challenge at one of his favorite races.  The challenge consists of completing a 10k and 5k on Saturday and then running a half marathon on Sunday.  It was good timing and we jumped on board this crazy train and agreed to do it.  Boy, it was hard but we completely enjoyed ourselves.  I really struggled through the half thanks to unnaturally sore legs but just completing the challenge was a feat in itself.  We are already planning to return to Flying Pig next year only we are NOT doing the Three-Way again.  We also got to meet up with Lindsay, a fellow blogger that I found through Instagram.  She is just as fabulous in person and we seriously adore her.  Just another example of how blogging/social media can cultivate so many friendships.  Side note: a few weeks before the event, the directors sent an email asking if anyone wanted a sign to be made for them.  I responded with a sign that corresponded with mine and Brittney’s blog and surely enough there was a sign for us.  The guy holding it was dancing in the streets and acting so crazy so it was almost fate that he was the one to hold our sign.  Had he not been so wild we would have missed him.  I absolutely could not resist the photo opportunity.    photo photo (2) photo (1)
  • Setting a PR for the 5k on a trip to Charlotte.   After missing the mark on a 5k PR at the Spring Sprint 5k, I gave up on trying for the spring and shifted my focus.  We traveled to Charlotte for an impromptu birthday trip for myself and when I saw a 5k would be offered I decided to give it a try.  We got lost on the way to the race and when I arrived they had already closed registration.  After telling them I drove over four hours just for the race they decided to let me join. It was pouring rain and the start was a very long walk through a few neighborhoods so I didn’t even have time to do anything prior to the race.  I just hustled to the start and got there right as it was starting.  The rain was cold and since the whole fiasco of getting registered had stressed me out.  Somehow on this hilly course I found myself a PR.  My watch turned off from all the rain about a mile in so I had no clue what my pace was but I just knew I was ready to be out of the cold.  Thankfully I crossed the finish line with a new PR of 28:22.  The crazy thing is that I was too frazzled to even care.  After a suuuuper hot shower at our hotel that evening I finally felt better.  I’m very glad that I finally nabbed a new 5k PR after a LONG time of trying.  photo (3)
  • Directing a 5k.  This was my third year being a race director with the Knoxville Track Club.  This year I asked Brittney to help me since she is a little more Type A than I am.  We made a great team and the race went very well.  I had a grad school function that morning so I sort of led the morning charge and then handed the reins to Brittney.  She did a great job and it was a very successful race.  photo (4)
  • My Momma donated her hair and we rode the Virginia Creeper Trail.  You wouldn’t have known it by looking at her since she used to always wear her hair in a bun, but my mother’s hair was extremely long.  She has been growing it out for a couple of years and it was finally time for her to donate it.  My goodness she had a lot of hair.  I went to the salon with her and she had no problem at all getting it all chopped off.  I would encourage anyone who has ever thought about donating hair to absolutely do so.  We also went to Abingdon, VA and rode the Virginia Creeper Trail for her birthday.  This was a great long ride and since we didn’t really have to even pedal all that much, we got to actually enjoy the outdoors and take in some nature in a beautiful place.   photo (6) photo (5)
  • Ran a few races and met some blog friends in real life.  I was so glad that I decided to run the Expo 5k this year and hang out with some fun people.  It really is amazing how fun races can be when other people go with you.  It is always a great opportunity to catch up.  I finished in 30:25 but that was me trying as hard as possible that day.  I met a lovely new friend, Katie, from Instagram!  Her and her now husband were in town for a wedding and she ended up running the race.  It was great to meet her and watch her KILL it in her age group.  Hi, Katie!!  photo (7)
  • Took a trip to the beach.  Momma and I traveled with her childhood best friend and her kids to Myrtle Beach for a week of relaxation.  We made sure to get up every morning and get a run or walk in.  The week was spent getting some quality ocean time, eating good food, and just taking a break from the craziness of life.  One morning it was pouring rain so Momma and I ended up walking up and down the stairwells on our 14 floor hotel as well as running all the hills in the parking garage.  photo (9)
  • Worked Vacation Bible School.  My handsome fella and I teach VBS at our church each year.  This year we were placed with fourth graders and they were a fantastic group.  I challenged them that if they could all learn the week’s theme verse then they could each pie me in the face.  They rose to the challenge and I had whipped cream up my nose for at least a week.  photo
  • Enjoyed some water park time.  We got passes to the local water and theme parks through my work this summer and made sure to take advantage of them any opportunity we got.  I was thankful to always be able to go with friends and spend some time getting filled with chlorine.  One of the most exciting times was with my longtime gal pal Holly’s kids.  You don’t know joy until you take kids to a water park.  They were happy as clams.  photo 2 photo 1
  • Began student teaching.  After an entire year of graduate course work, I was finally cleared to student teach.  Luckily I got placed with a fun middle school not too far from my house.  I have a great group of kids and a phenomenal mentor teacher.  It has been quite an adjustment but I’m having fun and learning many new things.  Of course I made my mother take a picture of me on the first day of school just like every other parent does when their baby goes off to school.  It was an exciting day!   photo (11)
  • Started to enjoy the long run.  I enjoy running but absolutely LOATHE the long run.  Slowly but surely this summer I started increasing my distance.  The longest run this summer was 10 miles and that was done through run/walk intervals.  I also had a pretty stellar 7 miler this summer that I was extremely proud of.  Hopefully in the coming months I can get very comfortable with distance and work on getting even faster.  I have lots of plans for distance in 2015.  photo (15) photo (16)

Wow.  So that has been what I’ve been up to. Nothing terribly exciting but still a lot of fun in my book.  Fill me in on what’s new with you!

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Welcome Back to Blogland

Hello out there!  Can anyone here me?  It is hard to believe that it was April when I last posted.  I’m sure none of you have even noticed, and that is okay too.  I’ve missed this little piece of internet space and I’m glad to be back.  There are so many reasons that I took a hiatus from blogging and to be honest it was much needed.  Although my blog is definitely not my job (I make absolutely nothing and rarely even agree to product reviews), it started to stress me out.  I would often find myself thinking I had to do something just so I could get a photo opp or a blog post out of it.  I became worried about what everyone else was blogging about or promoting and lost sight of why I even started this blog in the first place.  As soon as I realized that it was becoming a chore I knew I needed a break.

Thankfully this break allowed me to have a completely carefree summer.  I worked a fun summer job that allowed me to work with tourists on a daily basis in my hometown.  Yes, my job was driving a short schoolbus full of river tubes but it was so fun and I really enjoyed it.  This break also allowed me to find my writing voice again.  I got to the point where I didn’t look forward to blogging because I felt the need to produce certain content or document every race.  Hopefully my personality comes through in my writing and people can see that I blog because I love documenting my life, my weight loss struggles and my adventures of learning to become a stronger runner and athlete.  photo (1)

One other very important aspect of taking a hiatus has to do with weight.  Back in the spring I finally stepped on a scale to see a number in the 100s.  199 to be exact.  I had been chasing that number for months and I finally saw it.  I even weighed myself three more times just to be sure the scales were right.  But, you know what?  It didn’t feel like I thought it would.  Sure, I was happy, but I thought that somehow that number would all of a sudden make me feel better.  It didn’t.  That was the last time I saw that number and haven’t seen it since.    The measures it took for me to get to that number were not realistic.  Taking three fitness classes a day and pounding out the miles are not something that is sustainable long term.  It would be impossible for me to follow a strict eating and workout plan like that forever.  I try to always remain positive on this blog.  I share my struggles but always keep a smile on my face and have a “hey, it’s okay” attitude.  There’s nothing really wrong with that except that eventually that facade eats away at you.  I didn’t feel comfortable putting my true and raw feelings on my blog for fear of looking like a failure.  I didn’t want to write about when I sat on my couch and stuffed my face with three bags of microwave popcorn and four candy bars, and three bags of jelly beans.  That’s not inspiring.  I didn’t want to write about eating a peanut butter milkshake every day at work because there was a dessert shop next door.  That’s not motivating.  I didn’t want to write about the immense lack of self confidence I felt when I tried on my clothes after a binge.  photo

But this summer I had some great blog friends reach out to me and I was honest with them in my struggles.  They didn’t judge me or criticize me or make me feel like a failure.  They were supportive and encouraging.  This made me realize that it is okay to share struggles and stumbling blocks with others because chances are that someone else either feels the same way or has felt that way before.  Struggling does not equal failure.  It took a long time for me to realize that.

Even with a summer of fun and a summer of not so great eating, I am mostly happy with where I am right now. I’ve raced a few 5ks and have still been able to remain in the under 30 minute range.  I have faced my fears of long runs and have completed two ten milers.  My body is strong and I am fit.  It actually surprises me that I haven’t been as intense and my weight has gone up yet I still remain just as strong as I was during spring racing.  Hopefully I will do a post on that soon.  I’ve backed off on my workouts and haven’t been as obsessed as I have been in the past.  These days I’m mostly logging miles but in the coming weeks will be adding a new cross training regimen to my routine.  That excites me.  I have several big races planned for the fall including a half marathon this weekend with my Momma and my best friend, Brittney.  Girls weekend!

As always, thanks for listening/reading.  Surely to goodness none of you even care that I haven’t posted in four months but if you do then thanks for lending  your eyes and ears to my word vomit.  Y’all are awesome and the blogging community has brought so many wonderful people into my life.  I look forward to writing a catch up post so you know where I’m at in life right now.  Have a great Wednesday!

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