WHW: Mixing It Up.

You know those people who decide to try something new/visit a new place/take up a new hobby and literally spend hours reading about it, researching it and planning it out before they start? Yeah…that’s me. When I first started running, I spent hours reading articles on RunnersWorld.com, stalking running blogs and printing out beginner’s training plans. That’s just how I am. When I say I’m gonna do something, I’m gonna do it well.

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During that early “research” period, I read articles/blog posts about the difficulty runners have with cross-training. They know they should do it, but can’t find the time because all they do is run. I just knew that would never be me. I wanted to become a runner, but I just couldn’t see myself running 6 days a week and doing nothing else. Here I am, 13 months later and I run 5 days a week and squeeze in a yoga or Pilates class maybe twice. All I ever want to do is run. I love yoga, Pilates and Zumba, but somehow running always wins out.

But after two weeks of no weight loss (no weight gain either!) and two runs during which random pains started up in my legs, I know it’s time to get serious about cross-training. Running has done amazing things for my cardiovascular fitness and my body has definitely gotten smaller, but I don’t really see any definition besides my calves. I’ve also noticed that my core is still extremely weak and let’s not even talk about my upper body. Nothing has changed since Middle School when I could only do 1 pull-up. Except now I probably couldn’t even do one. If I want to become a well-rounded runner, and athlete, I have to start building strength.

 

I really don’t want to overdo it and run the risk of an injury or tiring my legs out too much during training for RnR USA, but I do want to make sure that I’m working my entire body and not just my legs. So the plan is to do at least 3 strength sessions each week (Pilates or a Tone It Up! workout). I’d like to do some other form of cardio as well, so I’m going to attend a Zumba class twice a week. (I know the elliptical would be good for me, but if I’m going to spend an hour on a machine, it’s gonna be a treadmill.) I’ve decided to save yoga for my rest days since it gives me a really great stretch but not enough strength work.

I’m hoping this plan will give my body the push it needs to get through this plateau and will enhance my half-marathon training. I’m going to start scheduling my cross-training the way I schedule my runs so I won’t be tempted to skip them. I know that once I get into the habit of going, I’ll love it and won’t want to stop. I’m breaking the curse of the running-only runner one Zumba class at a time!

How do you work cross-training into your schedule and how has it improved your running?

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Let’s Recap: Week Two.

Week 2 of RnR USA Half training wasn’t as great as week 1. I didn’t run as many days as I had planned to, overslept for TWO group runs and I definitely didn’t do enough cross-training. Thank goodness I’m finally finished with finals tomorrow (!) and I’ll have time to get back on track.

Monday, 12/12/11 – Rest

I had plans to go to my second Power Yoga class at the gym, but I woke up with a terrible sore throat and stuffy nose. I probably could’ve pushed through it, but I figured a complete rest day wouldn’t hurt either.

Tuesday, 12/13/11 – 1.79 miles in 21:01 (11:42 avg. pace)

Tuesday morning I woke up planning to hit the gym right after my 2pm final (law school finals are usually 3 hours long) to do 35 minutes on the treadmill followed by an hour long Pilates class. Turns out we only had 1.5 hours to take the exam and I only needed 40 minutes. I was back at home by 3:30 watching the end of Crazy, Stupid, Love in bed. I took advantage of my free time and didn’t get to the gym until a little before 6 leaving me with 20 minutes of run time before my class. The Cardio Cinema was full so I grabbed my iPad and turned on Sex and the City 2 to entertain me. I started at 4.8mph, but pushed it up to 5.0 for the last 10 minutes so I wouldn’t feel so guilty for skipping 15 minutes of my run. p.s. Watching movies on the treadmill is the greatest idea ever and I want to hug whoever thought of it.

Wednesday, 12/14/11 – Track Workout: 6 x 400 at 9:30 avg. pace (2.24 miles total including rest periods)

I skipped last week’s track workout to attend a Con Law final review (which I ultimately skipped too) and the excessive rainfall. I was really nervous about this workout because I’ve never done a structured speed workout before, but it wasn’t bad at all. We were instructed to do 4-6 quarters (1 lap) at 10k pace. I didn’t know what pace to choose so I picked 10:00/mile. It seemed comfortably hard to me and I knew I could sustain it easily for a lap. I started each lap at a 10:00 pace, but couldn’t stop myself from speeding up. At some points I was running as fast as 8:35/mile and each lap ended up between a 9:19 and a 9:45 pace. Oops. Next week, I’ll focus on running much slower than I feel I should at the beginning of the lap and trying not to speed up too much.

Thursday, 12/15/11 – 2.45 miles in 30 minutes (12:15 avg. pace)

An off day. Didn’t want to run at all, but I forced myself into the basement and onto the treadmill. Had really tight calves for the first half of the run, but otherwise my body felt great. I just couldn’t get my mind into it. I started at 4.8 for mile 1 then pushed it up to 5.0 for mile 2 and then accelerated my speed by .1 every minute for the last 5 minutes. I was so frustrated after all that when I looked down and my garmin said I was only at 2.45 miles. I still don’t trust that foot pod. My Nike+ app said I did 2.53, but I always go with whichever one is lower just in case.

Friday, 12/16/11 – Rest

Saturday, 12/17/11- 6.01 miles in 1:12:16 (12:02 avg. pace)

I overslept for my =PR= group run on Saturday. I went to bed Friday night with a terrible toothache (who even gets those anymore?) and woke up 10 minutes before I was supposed to leave feeling like I hadn’t slept at all. I thought about rushing to get there, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to run well, so I decided to put it off until later in the day. It would be a welcome study break.

It was so gloomy and cold outside that I put the run off until 3pm when the sun came out for a split second. I was about 10 seconds from driving to the gym and doing it on the treadmill, but I told myself that my lungs needed the fresh air and my legs needed the extra work on the roads. Miles 1-3 were great. I felt great and my breathing was relaxed. And then I got to the turnaround point. I blame the geese who had pooped all over the sidewalk and made me hop around for the first 2 minutes of mile 4 because after this point, my legs decided to die on me. The sides of my feet started throbbing (does anyone know why this happens?), my ankles started hurting, I felt a little shin splint coming on in one of my legs (can’t even remember which one it was now) and BOTH knees started hurting. I guess I’ve been loving the treadmill a little too much lately. I finished without any walking (besides the pauses at stoplights) and I even sped up to 11:48/mile for the last mile when I was so tired I could barely see straight. I’m happy I finished, but I’m really hoping that next week’s 7-miler is much better. I definitely won’t be missing any more group runs! Lesson learned.

Sunday, 12/18/11 – Unplanned Rest

I stayed up late studying on Saturday and when I finally couldn’t take it anymore, I went to bed. 2 hours later, I was still tossing and turning trying to will myself to sleep. Needless to say, I overslept for run club this morning. I was so mad and thought about going late, but an extra hour of sleep won that battle. It ended up being a Sunday Bumday and I was ok with that.

Totals –

miles this week :: 12.49

miles this month :: 46.74

miles this year :: 315.04

Let’s Recap: Week One.

I made it through my first full week of half marathon training and I am so so so happy with the way it turned out!

Monday, 12/5/11 – Power Yoga (Vinyasa) for 1 hour

Went to my first flow yoga class. My legs were feeling really tired after the Hot Chocolate 15k and I needed a good stretch. This class gave me that plus a good sweat. I loved the challenge and can’t wait to go again. I also learned some great new stretches for my legs and hips.

Tuesday, 12/6/11 – 2.52 miles in 30:06 (11:56 avg. pace) + 1 hr Pilates class

One thing I love about my training schedule is that my weekly runs focus on time instead of distance. Over the last two weeks, I had some bad runs and races where I walked a little bit. I understand that this is a process and that will happen from time to time, but it was a definite confidence boost to hop on that treadmill and run for 30 minutes without stopping. I was tired, but I definitely could’ve kept going which is exactly how you’re supposed to feel after an easy run. I set the speed to 4.8mph which equals out to 12:30/mile, but my nike+ app says I ran 30 seconds faster than that. I felt pretty good and didn’t feel like my breathing was labored, but I’m going to wear my heart rate monitor next time to be sure that I’m keeping it easy.

After my run, I went to a Pilates Fundamentals class at my gym. I’ve been once before and loved it. The class was just what I needed. We did strength moves for our hips, legs, shoulders/arms and core. I felt challenged and sore but not to the point where my runs will suffer. I think Pilates and yoga will be the perfect cross-training for my training schedule (plus a Zumba class when I can fit it in). After the run and the class, my body felt amazing. If that’s not incentive to keep going, I don’t know what is.

Wednesday, 12/7/11 – 3.77 miles in 45:04 (11:56 avg. pace)

Thanks to the rain this was another easy day. I headed to the gym and decided to try out the Cardio Cinema for the first time. Best decision of the day! They were playing Crazy, Stupid, Love which I’ve never seen so it was the perfect distraction from the dreadmill. I did 30 minutes easy followed by 6 thirty-second strides (2 at 6.0mph and 4 at 6.5mph) with 90 seconds rest in between (at 4.5mph). The strides were comfortably hard and I probably could’ve gone faster but I wanted to test things out, focus on keeping good form at a higher speed and finish feeling like I could’ve done more. Mission accomplished.

Thursday, 12/8/11 – 2.5 miles in 30:00 (12:00 avg. pace)

First outdoor run of the week. I wanted to do the track workout I missed on Wednesday (due to rain and a finals review), but it was better for my schedule to do a 30 minute easy run. My goal was to run for 30 minutes straight and to keep my pace as close to 12:00/mile as possible. Miles one and two were 12:12 and 12:11 respectively and when I saw that I was behind, I pushed it to 11:20/mile for the last half mile. I’m really happy with that time because not only was I able to stay close to what I can do on a flat treadmill, but I was also able to push it at the end when I was getting tired. I definitely felt this run more in my legs with the little rolling hills which was good. I needed to wake them up a little after an easy first half of the week.

Friday, 12/9/11 – Rest

Finals started on Friday and I thought about taking a yoga class before or after my first one, but I figured a day of complete rest would be fine too. My body is loving this recovery/base building week in my training schedule. It was exactly what I needed after a few heavy weeks training for the 10k and 15k.

Saturday, 12/10/11 – 5 miles in 1:02:08 (12:25 avg. pace)

This was possibly my best long run to date. It was my second group run with =PR= Distance Training Program, but since last week was a recovery run for most people (after running various races last weekend) it was really the first official long run. I brought headphones with me so that I wouldn’t get caught up running with other people and fail to keep an easy pace like I did last week. As much as I love having running partners, I’ve noticed that sometimes it’s enough to know that I’m a part of the group.

My goal was to stay as close to 12:30/mile as I could the entire time…

Mission accomplished! I started dragging a little bit during mile 4 from a combination of little hills and hunger, but I pushed through it and even sped up at the end. It’s amazing what scaling back can do for your running. I ran consistently this week, but I lowered my mileage/speed and my legs really appreciated it. I’m crossing my fingers that I feel this great throughout this entire training cycle!

Sunday, 12/11/11 – 3.55 miles in 43:35 (12:16 avg. pace)

Today was my first run ever with a run club. I joined Jessica from Pace of Me at her new Lululemon/Reston Pilates run club. I can’t say enough good things about it. We started with a short beginner’s Pilates class taught by Jessica’s sister, Jodi (and assisted by Jess!), before heading out to the W&OD trail for a 40 minute out and back run. We split into groups of runners, run/walkers and walkers. I decided to go with the run/walkers since I didn’t think I’d be able to keep up with the runners. I ran the first 2 miles with a girl about my age and then ran/walked the last 1.5 with the sweetest lady who just started running and was having trouble running nonstop. I did a 3:1 run/walk interval with her and it reminded me so much of myself last year. When I told her we had hit 3 miles she got so excited and said “My husband will be so surprised!” Running with her couldn’t have come at a better time. I needed a reminder of how far I’ve come and a moment to be proud of that, before I really begin pushing myself in this training cycle. No matter what happens, I have finally become a runner and that’s all I wanted in the first place. I seriously cannot wait to go back next week!

Totals –

miles this week :: 17.34

miles this month :: 34.25

miles this year :: 302.55

Long Run ‘List: Easy Listening

I’m coming up on the end of my first full week of half marathon training and the thing I’m focusing on for these first few weeks is pacing. I have to learn the differences between easy and comfortably hard and how to keep my body in the pace that I need. Tomorrow’s long run must be completed at an easy pace. My goal race pace is 11:30/mile which means my easy/long runs should be run at a 12:30-12:45 pace. What does all of this have to do with my long run playlist? Easy pace = slow music for me. I’m going with all mellow, easy listening tunes this week.

1. Glee Cast. Somewhere Only We Know :: This is my favorite Keane song made even better because Darren Criss is singing it. I just love it. That’s all.

2. Beyoncé. That’s Why You’re Beautiful :: Somehow I had never heard this song before I saw the I Am…Yours dvd. Shameful superfan moment. Is there a more beautiful Bey song? I don’t believe so.

3. Ben Rector. When She Comes Around :: I fell in love with this song after watching this video. At the risk of sounding dramatic, that video changed my life. This song is sure to help me slow down because I’ll be distracted by mentally planning my future wedding.

4. Addison Road. Run :: I apologize for that video being so boring but it was literally the only one I could find. This song has gotten me through even the toughest runs. The lyrics are so simple and so true.

5. Dixie Chicks. Cowboy Take Me Away :: I loved this song in Middle School, but I was too embarrassed to admit it because it was a country song. Now that I’m older and don’t care what anyone says about my music, I play it like it just came out.

6. Anthony David feat. India.Arie. Words :: I need for these two to get married, have kids and form a family band. Their voices go so well together. The video is pretty cheesy though. Just saying…

7. Amy Winehouse. Just Friends :: I couldn’t finish that video. Knowing that we lost a talent as great as hers is just too sad. I still listen to her music every chance I get though and this is one of my favorites.

8. Beyoncé. I Miss You :: This song is in no way relevant to my life. I just love Bey. And I just like sad, breakup songs. Does anyone believe me?

9. Justin Nozuka. After Tonight :: I am in love with this guy. When this song first came out, I was so obsessed with it that I had my boyfriend’s nephew (who typically listens to artists like Lil Boosie) singing every word. Poor kid. He couldn’t even help it.

10. Coldplay. Life in Technicolor :: This is the perfect song to end an easy run. During this training cycle, each week I’ll be running an easy run with a few strides thrown in at the end. This song starts slow and speeds up at the end so it’ll be perfect for that. Life in Technicolor II is a great song for that too.

Another Month, Another Training Cycle.

Sunday marked day 1 of my RnR USA half marathon training cycle. For the next 15 weeks, I’m dedicating myself to training like an athlete. Minimal late nights, eliminating junk food and alcohol (except special occasions like New Year’s…duh), supplementing my running with strength training and yoga, icing like it’s my second job and basically marrying my foam roller.

As this training cycle gets underway, I’ve been thinking about my goals for this race and I’ve been nervous about sharing them. I’ve seen other bloggers announce their goals and then feel horrible when they fail to accomplish them, but I’ve also seen it go the other way. I’ve chosen to share them because the support I receive through this blog is so important to me and I know I’ll need it throughout the next 4 months. Having people comment/tweet/text me saying I inspire them or telling me they’re proud of me far outweighs the embarrassment I may feel if things don’t go the way I want them to go. So here goes…

Original Goal:

Run the entire way (except water stations) and finish under 3 hours (22 minute PR).

Current Goal:

Finish in 2:45 (12:35 avg pace) which is a comfortable pace for me now, but I haven’t tried to maintain it for longer than 6 miles. (37 minute PR)

Ambitious Goal:

To finish in 2:30 (11:27 avg pace) which is a pace I can currently maintain for 1-2 miles (haven’t tried to maintain it for longer than that yet). (52 minute PR)

I’m comfortable with these goals and believe that with prayer, dedication and hard work, I can accomplish even the most ambitious of the three. I’m looking forward to March 18, 2012 when I can post pictures of my shiny new medal and details of my shiny new PR!

 

Let’s Recap.

Monday, 11/28/11 – Rest

I didn’t get back from New Orleans last weekend until 1am and didn’t get to bed that night until 4. The lack of sleep plus a 10 page paper deadline meant no running for me. Which was probably best anyway since the cold I brought back with me started to get ugly.

Tuesday, 11/29/11 – 4.48 miles in 58:01 (12:57 avg. pace)

As I was typing this I rediscovered that Garmin gives you your actual time and your actual moving time, which accounts for stop lights and other breaks like that. That makes me feel a tiny bit better about this run, but not much. I was literally exhausted and walked more than I have in months. The weird thing is, my body actually felt pretty good. It was just an off day and that’s totally fine. This is a great lesson though: the amount of sleep you get 2 nights before a run or race is much more important than the sleep you get the night before. If you have a race on Saturday, make sure Wednesday and Thursday you get a full night’s rest.

Wednesday, 11/30/11 – Rest

Thursday, 12/1/11 – 3.62 miles in 52:06 (14:25 avg. pace)

Note to self: I am not a good empty stomach runner. I felt great until mile 2 and then my body literally ran out of gas. I wanted to run but I couldn’t. I was starving and all I could think about was getting back to my car and buying the biggest bagel I could find for breakfast. I called Coach during the walk back to my car so someone would know if I passed out. It was that bad.

Friday, 12/2/11 – Rest

Saturday, 12/3/11 – Hot Chocolate 15k official results: 9.3 miles in 1:54:02 (12:15 avg. pace)

Disorganized race. 1.5 hour late start time. But it ended up being one of my strongest races to date so it was a great experience for me. Read the full recap here.

Sunday, 12/4/11 – 4.01 miles in 48:56 (12:13 avg. pace)

First run of my RnR USA half marathon training cycle! I’m training with Potomac River Running’s Winter Distance Training Program and I’m so excited about it. I have big goals for this race and I know having a group to train with and coaches to supervise me will put me in the best position to achieve them. Today was our first group run and I chose to start with 4 miles because my legs (especially quads) were really tired and sore after the race. I ended up starting a little too fast and struggled a bit on the way back. My main focus for next week is pacing. I have to learn when to push and when to take it easy. I’ve got 15 weeks to get it right!

Totals –

miles this week :: 21.41

miles this month :: 74.74

miles this year :: 285.21

Thirsty Thursday.

Most of my friends are stumbling home from happy hour right about now. Not me. I’m home in my pajamas watching old episodes of Glee and planning my training meal/fuel plan for the next few weeks. It’s no secret that I’m trying to lose weight, but if running has taught me anything it’s that you can’t cut way back on your calories and still expect to run well. You also can’t run more than 45 minutes without re-fueling.

So, friends, I present to you the first installment of my healthy & athletic version of Thirsty Thursday: Running Fuel.

1. Clif Shot Bloks

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These chewy cubes of goodness are my favorite! They taste great without that nasty sports food aftertaste and they are seriously effective. If I’m feeling a little hungry before a run I’ll eat 2-3 for a pre-workout boost. Otherwise, I’ll stop mid-run and have a few with water. For example, last weekend on my first (!) 5-miler, I stopped at 2.67 miles and had 3 with water. ALWAYS follow any type of sports food with water NOT Gatorade or any other type of sports drink. Just trust me on this one. Your stomach will thank you.

2. Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews

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These little gummies remind me of fruit snacks. They’re small and easy to chew while running and they taste really great. I’ve tried the Fruit Smoothie and Cherry Blossom flavors and liked them both. These didn’t give me any stomach troubles, but they also didn’t give me as strong of an energy boost as the Shot Bloks do. I’m going to start eating more than just a few from now on and see if that makes a difference.

3. Honey Stinger Organic Stinger Waffle

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I may or may not be guilty of eating these at all hours of the day instead of before/after running. I can’t help it. They’re so so so good! The waffle is crispy and filled with gooey vanilla sweetness. I have absolutely no idea if these gave me any type of energy (I’ve only eaten them after a run), but I don’t care. I mostly just use them as a small sugary treat after a long run.

4. Zico Coconut Water

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Thirsty Thursday wouldn’t be complete without a little  hydration right? If you haven’t heard already, coconut water is the best hydration drink there is. It’s all natural, it’s packed with electrolytes, has loads of potassium (which anyone who’s prone to muscle cramps will appreciate) and tastes really good. I hate coconut, but I loooove this stuff. Since I know I’m not a coconut fan, I’ve stuck to the flavored varieties. Lima Citron, Mango and Pomberry are my faves. And according to the Tone it Up! Girls, the Lima Citron works extremely well in alcoholic beverages.

5. smartwater / vitaminwater

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People may think that I’m a bit of a water snob, but I don’t care. I can seriously taste the difference. smartwater is hands down the best bottled water out there. It tastes cleaner and it has electrolytes in it, so it’s the best kind of water to drink after a workout. I also love vitaminwater, particularly revive because it tastes the best and it has potassium in it. It also has sugar in it though so I try not to drink more than half of the bottle. I can’t get down with the sugar-free kind. Yuck.

So…there you have it! My top 5 fuel options. I’m always looking for others so if you know of any let me know!

FIVE!

The great thing about training plans is that they can be manipulated. You should stick closely to  the mileage but the times and roads/trails are always malleable. If you looked over my training plan, you saw that I had a 5 mile group run planned for today with Black Girls Run! in DC. Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately) I was up babysitting until 2:30am and didn’t get to bed until almost an hour later. Needless to say, 8am rolled around and I was nice and warm in my bed. I eventually pulled it together around 10am and realized I had absolutely no plans for the day (if you ignore the loads of homework I always have to do), so I took my time with breakfast and hung out with my brother and his girlfriend who are home from school for the weekend.

Around 2, I headed to the W&OD Trail. The trail stretches 45 miles, all the way from Loudoun County (where I live) to Alexandria (just outside of DC) and it’s one of my new favorite places to run.  Somehow, even though I had eaten breakfast, by the time I got there I was already feeling hungry so I ate 3 Clif Shot Bloks. So far, out of all the “runner’s food” I’ve tried, Shot Bloks are the easiest on my stomach and they give me a fantastic burst of energy. I started off really slow because I wanted to finish strong. I told myself I wanted to finish in 1:05:00. That would require me to maintain between a 12:00-13:00 minute pace the entire time which I knew I could do. (p.s. 12:00 miles are comfortably hard for me. 13:00 miles are easy. I’m hoping that this time next year, 10:00 miles will be my version of easy but for now, this is what I’m working with.) And you know what….

I was right.

My garmin says that I ran 5 miles flat in 1:04:38. Daily mile says I did 4.99. I’m gonna average them all together and say I did what I was supposed to do. I’m really glad that I set a time goal. I know a lot of people say that beginners shouldn’t worry about speed or even mileage and I typically agree with that. But I also know that in order to improve I have to push myself every once in a while. That last mile was painful for both my lungs and my legs, but I pushed through it and I saw what I’m capable of. My goals for the RnR USA Half are completely within reach, I just have to work for them. And I will.

TGI{almost}F

I miraculously made it through another loooong week of law school. That week included 1 awkward game of legal family feud and 1 horrific midterm. Sometimes I really wonder what drug I was on when I signed up for this. In more pleasant news…I ran 3.1 miles without walking for the first time EVER on Sunday! Then I did it again on Tuesday and again today! Whaaaat? I don’t even know who I am anymore. A runner or something?

Here are the stats to prove it:

(I walked during mile 4 but it was mostly from fear that my lungs would explode after running a 5k for the first time ever. They didn’t.)

 

 

I can’t believe I just posted those painfully slow splits. Let’s pretend like those 3’s are 0’s. Just kidding. I don’t mind running slow as long as I’m not walking. The speed will come eventually, but endurance is my top priority right now. I’m hoping that by the end of the year I’ll be able to run 12 minute miles easily, but that’s the least of my worries right now.

Right now, I’m focused on my running base. I have another 5k coming up October 29th followed by a Thanksgiving 10k and the Hot Chocolate 15k December 3rd. My goal for each of those races is just to finish without walking and to have as much fun as possible. December 4th will be the official start of my RnR USA Half Training Schedule. Oh boy.

 

homecoming.

Just 4 short months ago, I completed my first half-marathon, the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Half Marathon with Team in Training. Crossing that finish line in 3:22:50 was one of the proudest moments of my life. What I’m even more proud of is that I’m still running and plan to keep doing so for years to come. That’s why I’ve chosen to make RnR San Diego a yearly tradition.

I stayed up until 12am PST, so 3 am my time, to be one of the first 500 runners registered so that I could save a measly $25. Every dollar counts people! I even booked my hotel room already. I am so excited to see the difference a year makes in my running. I can already run 3 miles without walking, which was definitely not an option in June, so I’m hoping by then that I can make it through the slightly hilly course without walking as well.

You know you’re a runner when you will yourself to stay awake into the middle of the night to register for a race 8 months away. SO excited!!