Year Three in the Rearview: Blogiversary/Runniversary

It’s hard to believe that just over 3 years ago I embarked on my half marathon/full marathon journey and started this blog to document the process. Reflecting on the past year, so much has happened, and I finally feel ready to discuss some of it as it relates to running.


When I started running regularly, I began to notice a lot of changes. I felt more focused, and I felt a sense of peace. After a run, I would feel refreshed, less stressed, like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. Now, I realize how much God brought running into my life at a crucial time and to help heal some of my brokenness.

About a year and a half ago, after the big move to Austin, I started struggling with a lot of anxiety. No, I’m not talking about feeling anxious in normal situations that call for nervousness.

I fretted and panicked over every little thing – sending emails, keeping up with my workouts, making new friends, forgetting to take the trash out, losing my keys, etc. I would have sudden anxiety attacks, followed by massive feelings of inadequacy, hopelessness and depression. I found myself struggling to get out of bed in the morning every single day, longing for each day to be over before it began. It was constant. It was something I experienced before, but something running largely alleviated during the calmer periods of my life the last couple of years.

Chris and I pre-PR at the Cap 10K this year.

Being in a new city, away from much of my support system, and being in a work environment that just did not work for me at all, the anxiety led into depression. I tried to work through it and keep on keepin’ on, but it wasn’t something that running could alleviate any more. It became impossible to rely solely on running as my stress reliever and it was clear that I needed some help. I came to a breaking point (I won’t elaborate here because I really don’t want to glamorize how I was feeling). I couldn’t out run the problem anymore, or sweep it under the rug like I’d been doing for 16 years.

Though all of that was extremely tough, the good news is that over the past year I began to intentionally take care of my mental health. In addition to having an incredibly supportive husband who encouraged me to get the help I needed, I owe that in large part to the practice of running. I would not have realized how much I needed help if running hadn’t made such a difference in my life.

It’s true that God has used running in my life, but I could not have foreseen what a large role it would play in this particular aspect of my life.

So why tell you all of this?

Transparency. So often bloggers, writers, etc. discuss struggles during a pregnancy or weight loss, but depression and mental health are sometimes considered taboo. However, it’s still health-related, and, therefore, important.

I feel a sense of duty to share what’s been going on, because so many people are afraid to. That’s always been the motivation of my blog – to reflect on what I’ve experienced and learned, so that others can know they’re not alone, learn more about themselves, and to build community.

There’s still a perception that anxiety can be a handicap or disability, which is wrong, but it exists. I got to my breaking point and it’s hard to think about how awful that was – but I’m also kind of inspired thinking about where I was just a little over a year ago and where I am today.  Not only did I start looking for a new job, but I started the journey to find help – like not just seeing a counselor a few times, but consistent help from a therapist and psychiatrist. It took me far too long to do all of that because I feared the stigma. And I want to be a part of breaking down that stigma.

Finishing my second marathon – another tough experience, but totally worth it to prove to myself that I could do it again. 

The other reason is to celebrate. It’s taken me a month and a half to get the courage to post this, but I’ve overcome a lot in the past year and I want to spread the message that there is hope. Wherever you’re at, you are loved, your life matters, and you are NOT alone. If you need help, or need to take medication, there is nothing wrong with that. As Jamie Tworkowski implied, as long as you have breath in your lungs, your life matters (this also seems more timely than ever with the tragic death of Chester Bennington).

Mental health is as important as physical health because both contribute to your overall health.

With all of that off my chest, what’s next?

I’m not sure! I’ve got a couple of half marathons I’m looking forward to this fall. My plan is to continue to focus on getting faster with my half marathon time before I think about doing another full marathon. It keeps me focused on something (and my doctor says that running is important to my treatment – funny how it really is like medication in some ways!).

I’ve also got some fun lifestyle content planned! I always say that, but I’ve been reflecting and brainstorming on a bunch of different posts for the rest of the summer and fall. If you like to travel, stay active and enjoy all that life has to offer (which is basically all people), then this is for you! I’m so excited to share this new content with you guys!

Thanks, as always, for reading along. Your support has meant the world to me and I look forward to sharing the next year of blogging with you guys!

On a serious note: if you or someone you know is experiencing serious depression or considering suicide, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Crisis Text Line (send a text to 741-741 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Someone will answer 24/7. 

FREE TO TRAVEL: Amsterdam Edition

I’ve been wanting to share our experiences from our trip to Europe, because we saw and learned so much. Enjoy my first ever FREE TO TRAVEL post!

Chris and I decided on Amsterdam for a variety reasons. From everything we read, the city was charming and easy to navigate. We were also interested in a lot of the tourist attractions – the food, castles (Chris’ request), museums, etc. Finally, my husband has traveled a lot, but Amsterdam/Holland were one of the places he’d never been, so it would be new to both of us. I’ve included some of the highlights of our trip, and some of the tips we have if you’re considering a visit to this gorgeous city.

Must Do’s

New Europe Walking Tour

In addition to having a great tram system and being a fairly small city, Amsterdam is actually fairly easy to walk –  just watch out for bikers. On our second day in Amsterdam, we took a walking tour from New Europe Walking Tours. We learned so much from our tour guide, who actually went to school in Austin (small world!). For example, did you know weed isn’t actually legal in Amsterdam? Cannabis (without THC) is, but weed is just tolerated… which is as good as being legal, technically. The government actually created a different tax bracket called “goods and other services” for “coffee shops” to use for paying taxes on the weed that they sell. I also liked the ease at which we could ask questions and interact with our guide during the walking tour.

Our tour guide hanging out with Edgar Allen Poe.

The smallest house in Amsterdam.

Van Gogh Museum

A popular attraction in Amesterdam is their many (and boy, do I mean, many) museums. My favorite was the Van Gogh. Growing up, both my mom and teachers educated me on impressionist painters, but I had not seen Van Gogh’s most famous works. It was truly a treat and worth the time. I also appreciated how the museum respectfully discussed his mental illness and the way that affected his works.

At the I Amsterdam sign in front of the Rijksmuseum, after visiting the Van Gogh.


Highly recommend this little cafe over by the Van Gogh. It was delicious!

Flowers… flowers everywhere!

The climate in Holland is lush and perfect for lots of flowers. I think the photos speak for themselves. They were everywhere and this nature-loving girl was in heaven!

Also, thought it was funny that they were selling cacti at the flower market.

Anne Frank Huis

If you go to Amsterdam, this is an absolute must. It’s incredible to see the place where the Frank and van Pels families spent their days. Of course, it’s also terrifying to imagine the fear they must have felt, and the courage they had to muster to survive as long as they did. It’s a sobering experience, but an excellent reminder that we must never allow hate to penetrate our society in such a way.

Muiderslot Castle

I mean, who wouldn’t enjoy a castle? This is more of an attraction for kids (there were birthday parties going on when we went). Still, learning how a real live castle worked, felt a little bit like Game of Thrones. We definitely don’t have anything like that here! Another highlight of going a little out of our way to get to the castle was walking through the town to get there. It was a scenic walk, and gave us a better picture of true Dutch life, away from the high-tourism areas of Amsterdam.

The castle.

Seen on our walk from bus stop to said castle.

The harbor outside the town where Muiderslot is located.

Tips

Airbnb

We stayed in a lovely Airbnb, and I highly recommend doing the same if you’re headed to Amsterdam. The Dutch are pretty friendly as a people, and our host was no exception.


I Amsterdam City Card

Might seem like a steep price to pay for something that doesn’t get you into the Rijksmuseum (one of the most popular museums), but all of the other perks were absolutely worth it. We were able to skip several lines, including at the Van Gogh, thanks to this handy pass. It also paid for our tram fare.


The line we skipped at the Van Gogh (plus the snogging couple, apparently).

Dutch Food

It’s hard to find, but make sure you get it while you’re there – it’s worth a good scouring of Yelp. Amsterdam is diverse, meaning there is a large selection of cuisine to choose from. I recommend trying the bitterballen and stroopwafels, too. Yummy!

Cheese Tasting

Holland is known for its cheese and it makes a great souvenir for family/friends. You certainly won’t regret trying all the cheese if you are anything like me.


The best schnitzel I’ve ever had… probably because I haven’t been to Germany, yet. 😉

More photos…

Boat houses!

The view outside a cafe (bikes for days).

One of the magnificent old churches. Because the Nazi’s didn’t ever bomb Amsterdam, a lot of the old buildings are still in tact.

A lost and found at one of the parks we visited. Note the cigarettes, haha.

Have any of y’all visited Amsterdam? What did you think?

Thoughts, Hopes and Goals for 2017

Can you even believe it? We are 5 11 days in to 2017, y’all.

I’ll pose the same question I ask myself at the end of many long runs – where does the time go?

For example, where did the time go from January 5, when I started this post, until today?

In the process of considering my goals for the year, I’ve admittedly found myself at an impasse of what I want to do with my blog, because there are so many different things I want to accomplish. However, with so many desires at odds, the only thing to do is compromise with myself and prioritize what ideas are most important to me. The common theme in all of my goals for my blog, as well as personal life goals is to achieve balance and equilibrium. I don’t want a boring life, but I do want a sustainable one.

So I’m taking a lunch break today to share a few goals – blog-related and otherwise – that I’ve set for myself this year.

1. Post more original content here on the blog.

I want to post about topics related to how I incorporate running, training recaps, etc. into a balanced lifestyle.

Many New Years resolutions are out the window by January 15, but not to be deterred, I’m starting on this one here and now (I’ve learned slow and steady wins the race). I plan to continue to do running-related product and race reviews, but take on less of them. Again, life is all about balance, which I’ve learned through running. However, I am not just a runner and I always felt intimidated by runners because I felt like they worked so much harder than I did. The truth is, now that I’m a runner, much of my life is still the same, and I don’t ever want anyone to feel like they can’t relate to me. Yes, I’ve come a long way, but I’m still the same ‘ole me.

2. Incorporate travel and lifestyle features.

This ties in with the above. Running is one way to get from one place to another and see the world. To me, travel also makes sense because it’s a very active hobby, and offers a different perspective. Lifestyle in the sense that I want to post about food and how I make things healther, etc. Or how I don’t eat super healthy 100% of the time. Again – it’s all about balance.

3. Set better work-life boundaries.

I love what I do, and I’m pretty career focused, but I’m also realizing that I will get burnt-out if I try to take the world by storm. Plus, I want to make time for my blog, running, and everything else I’m trying to do outside of the hours of 8-6 9-5. Has anyone else encountered this, made changes and created a better balance? Teach me your ways. Taking a lunch break to wrap this baby up, though, has been a successful first step, I think.

4. Read more.

I used to read a lot, and now I don’t. What happened? I don’t really know, but I want to take more adventures on the Reading Rainbow this year.


5. Take some dance classes.

Christmas 2015: my husband purchased dance classes for me because I’d been dying to go back to ballet. January 2017: I still haven’t used them. Wife fail. Good thing Chris knows me well, so they don’t have an expiration date. After seeing La La Land (which you MUST go see), I really, REALLY want to go back, and my goal is to schedule at least one before the month is over. Again, cross training is so important for any balanced running regimen. So this should be an easy way to kill two birds with one stone.

While we’re on the subject, what goals have you set and what would you like to see more of here on the blog? Fill out my poll, please! I really appreciate your feedback. 🙂

Cheers to 2017 and thanks very much for stopping by!

Six Ways to Fit Running into an Already-Busy Schedule

While there are many benefits associated with keeping a consistent workout routine, I’ve discovered that most people, like myself, are already busy and literally don’t know where to start.

Since I started running just over two years ago, it’s safe to say people have started to perceive me as  one of “those people” – you know, the Chris Traeger-esque serial runner. I really don’t know how I became one of “those people,” but that’s where I’m at, and I’ve [mostly] decided to embrace it. I love to run, and I can no longer imagine my life without running. However, I work in PR, consistently considered one of the most stressful jobs, prompting friends in and outside of the industry to ask how I stick with running.

Even though the question makes me a bit uncomfortable (most days I’m just trying to stay afloat), I think back to the time in my life where I was not one of “those people.” I can relate to my friends who are struggling to find a balance between finding an enjoyable exercise regimen and fitting that in with the busy-ness of everything else in life, because that was me, nearly three years ago.

I think they key to my workout routine lies in the systems I’ve developed to keep up with healthy habits. These are really what’s made me seem like one of “those people,” even though I’m usually barely holding it together. Here are my secrets for not completely failing at working out being one of those people.

Set firm work life boundaries.
Perhaps, more than anything else, this is the hardest. I could be on email all the time, and there is always more work that I could stay late to accomplish. And I’ve actually chosen a career that’s notorious for both of those things. Lately, I’ve been focusing on only the most important things each day, and leaving the rest for another day. When you make time in the evenings to do the groceries, keep the house clean, work on creative endeavors and, of course, run, you’ll feel rejuvenated and ready to take on the next day.

Always have a goal

In order to stay on top of my workouts, I have to stay signed up for a race. As of late, I’ve been training for the Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon in Dallas this upcoming weekend, and have the Cap 10K slated for April. Quite frankly, if it weren’t for a goal, I don’t know how I would do it most days. I don’t have it all together!

Don’t set unrealistic expectations

Running 5 times a week with a busy weekday schedule? That’s not realistic for me, but running 3-4 times a week is doable, because I can take advantage of my weekends (and remember, you can only do that if you actually follow rule no. 1).

Get a planner and list your to-do’s

Planning when I’m going to complete my runs means that I’m likely to make adjustments in my schedule to accommodate. I’m not a morning person, but if I know I have a lot going on in the evenings, I can make a point to get a workout in in the morning. Plus, this may sound weird, but I love writing things in my Kate Spade planner.


Bring your clothes to work

Purchasing a gym bag has been one of my best investments. When I take the time to plan out my day and decide on what I’ll wear to work out after work, I am motivated to make the stop by the gym on the way home. This one from adidas is very similar to mine – it has a compartment for your shoes and pockets inside for jewelry, socks, etc.

Get a gym membership

Find a place that has weights and cardio equipment, as well as hours that work for your schedule. This makes it much easier not to make excuses (the weather, a late night at work, you name it, I’ve made them all). Going to the gym can really help you to stay consistent.

What are some of the tricks you’ve learned to stay consistent?

They Pulled out All the Stops: BCS Marathon Review

Disclosure: I received a complimentary race entry for the BCS Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! All opinions are my own.

When I attended school at Texas A&M (can I get an “a-whoop!?”), I had several friends slave away to run the BCS Marathon. I always thought it would be cool to run a half, but never, in a million years, did I see myself running a full.

Because I couldn’t even run three miles at the time.

Four years later, and I’m back to do just that. Funny how life works.

Anyway, enough about me. Let’s cut to the chase. I’m here today to review the BCS Marathon in College Station, Texas.


Pre-Race

A turn of events caused us to be in Austin late Saturday before the race, so I actually wasn’t able to attend the expo. Head over to Live Slow Run Fast if you would like a better idea of what that was like.

I can provide more feedback on the pre-race morning experience. Being in College Station, parking is a non-issue. There are a variety of hotels close to the start line at Post Oak Mall, so I was able to sleep in until a glorious 5 a.m. alarm. We left our hotel around 6:15 and parked by about 6:25. It was just a short walk to the start line, where I met up with Jessica. I noticed there were plenty of porta potties as we made our way to the start line – there was hardly even a line!


The Gun Goes Off

Soon enough, it was time to run. Jessica and I ran together for the first 5 miles or so; it’s always a pleasure to get to run with a friend. We went our separate ways and it started to look like I just might be able to pull off a 5 hour marathon.

The route was scenic and ran all over the Bryan/College Station area. We ran through the historic neighborhoods, then moved on to downtown Bryan. Later on, we made our way out to the Tradition’s golf course, which offered more nature/scenic views. Finally, we ran back to campus as people started to hit the dreaded “wall.” It’s planned perfectly because student organizations come out to cheer people on and staff aid stations. And everyone wants to be near campus, so they are really excited!

I truly appreciated the pacers. At my first marathon, there were no pacers for the full marathon, which felt lonely toward the end. I’m sure it’s quite rare for a marathon so small (less than 1,000) to have pacers. The attention to detail really helped me stay motivated. The 5:15 pacer and I kept passing each other, and he was super cool. The marathon relay group also made the course feel a lot less empty, which was well-planned.

Aid stations were also fabulous. They all had water and Gatorade, as well as medical staff (with Vaseline for chafing). Every few aid stations, they offered food – Gu, orange slices, bananas, gummy candies, etc. The race was small enough that the stations weren’t crowded, either.

Personally, I didn’t hit the wall until about mile 21, because there were barely any hills. My race felt pretty great the whole way, but at mile 21, my leg started to cramp. I stayed the course, got some Tylenol and drank some Gatorade at the next [perfectly-timed] aid station, and was able to power through the rest of the race.

I had to make it up one last hill to the 26 mile marker, and then I sprinted back downhill to finish.


Finisher Party (and boy, was it time to part-ay)

The finish line crowd was also spirited, as was the announcer (who high-fived me). It felt like a much larger race. Immediately after crossing, I was able to find my husband and parents, who had come in from out of town. I received my beautiful medal, banged the PR gong (heck yeah, 20 minute personal record), and headed to the party.

The post-race party was filled with food and goodies. It was easy to find my finisher jacket, which was also pretty well-made. There were pizza rolls, beer, margaritas, breakfast tacos, the list goes on. It was just awesome. I also liked that there was a little bit of a walk back to the parking lot from Wolf Pen Creek, where the party was. It helped me to cool down, which I too often do not do.

Overall, I would recommend the BCS Marathon to anyone.

It’s almost as well done as the big ones, but with a small town heart. There is truly something for everyone. Plus, Aggies are very friendly, and that spirit proved true for this race.

However, due to the race occurring during the holiday season, I would personally appreciate a packet mailing option; yes, running a marathon is obviously a huge deal, but it’s the time of year where things come up. It would have been helpful to have a way to work that out.


Well, I did it, you guys! I ran my second marathon – the BCS Marathon. Did not know how I was going to make it at times, but I did. With a final time of 5:21:38, BCS was the fastest marathon I’ve run yet. It was also a great value for the price; marathons are expensive, but they pulled out all the stops, just like at a larger race.

Cheers to marathon PR’s in your old hometown.

Just Thankful.

Hey friends! I’m participating in the BibRave Pro Thanksgiving linkup. Make sure to follow the link to the next blog at the end of my post for more great content.

With Thanksgiving this week, I sat here tonight wracking my brain trying to think of just the right topic to connect life lately to Turkey day. But, then I remembered that the best blog posts just come. Just saying what’s on your mind and reflecting can sometimes be the best way to approach writing.

In light of current events facing our country, my busy-ness with a starting a new job, etc. I have seen and heard so much negativity and stress lately. I’d like to add some positive feedback to all the noise. While my blog is primarily about running, it’s also about being healthy, and being thankful is actually healthy! Without trying to come up with a witty way to tie things together, I’m just going to tell all of you what I find myself being thankful for this year. I have been provided for in so many ways and I thank God for that.

My Ability to Run

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I’ve had some aches and pains this season during my marathon training, which has made this season challenging. It has reminded me that I may not get to run forever, so I should make it count while I have the ability. I am trying to practice gratitude each time I run (whether that’s just acknowledging that I am grateful for the opportunity to run, or thinking deeply about it.

My Job

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A lunch break walk wouldn’t be complete without a crunchy leaf and shoe snapshot, would it?

Though it’s been a busy couple of months, changing jobs has been a huge blessing for me. My new work environment is all about growing and getting better at your work. While I have been working some long hours, I have felt a lot better knowing that it’s appreciated. My office is also a highly skilled team to work with and ask questions. They (whoever they are) say the best environment is one where you don’t feel like you are the smartest person in the room. It’s not that I’ve felt like the smartest person in the room at any other workplace, but I definitely look up to all of my colleagues and feel that they are some of the best in the industry. I am looking forward to continuing my professional growth there!

My Husband

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He tolerates my random pictures of him. 😉

Well, duh. Between dealing with my previous job and stresses there, adjusting to new life changes in Austin, and, of course, having a busy personal life with running and blogging, Chris has been incredibly supportive. He has encouraged me to be more confident in my skills. He has taken care of the dog when I worked late (or went in early) countless times. He has become a pro at cooking my favorite meals and memorized my Chipotle order.

He’s just all-around saved the day. A million times.

I know that’s what spouses are supposed to do, but I couldn’t be more grateful.

A Couple of Days Off

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Photo from the last time I had time off – in Italy.

Okay, who isn’t thankful for this? Since I don’t have much vacation time yet, the holiday will serve as a perfect time to rest up mentally and physically. After all, I’ve got a marathon in less than three weeks, you guys! We have plans to go camping, so stay tuned for pics.

Though I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with delicious food, family and miles of turkey trots, I also hope you find some time to pause and take in something to be thankful for.

And on that note, Jessica at Live Slow Run Fast is sharing some timely advice on self-care during the holidays. While you’re browsing the web, trying to stave of your turkey coma, make sure you check it out – such an important topic.

What are you thankful for this year?

Cheers to eating all the pie (and my first homemade pecan pie to boot)!

Ekiden Coaching – Training Recap, Review and Discount!

Disclosure: I received complimentary coaching from Ekiden Coaching as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! All opinions are my own.

In over 2 years of running now, I have had many ups and downs training for different races. I’m actually quite proud of all I have accomplished just through research on the internet. However, “going it alone” has its drawbacks, like a lack of motivation sometimes. I have been so curious to try a coaching program just to see if it helped me to become a more consistent runner. Through BibRave, I had the opportunity to partner with Ekiden Coaching and try working with a coach for the very first time in my running career.

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What is Ekiden, exactly?

Ekiden is a new coaching platform that harnesses the power of the World Wide Web to connect runners with a coach that is right for them. According to the Ekiden website, “from the beginning, our mission and vision has been to bring a great human coaching experience to every athlete, not just a training plan.” So, after years of using template plans and making slight tweaks, I said “sign me up” to an approach that would actually tailor my running schedule to me!

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Images above are from the Ekiden website.

For the past several weeks to a month, I’ve been on the Personal Coaching plan. It has been super convenient to have a coach (Jenny, who is awesome) tell me what to work out, and when to do it. Actually, she’s done a lot more than just that. We had an initial call to hash out what I wanted, my goals, the type of runner I am, etc. It was definitely helpful to have a time to chat normally!

Additionally, week to week you’ll use the Ekiden website or text message notifications, if you choose, to get your workouts. Within reason, coaches can make accommodations for your schedule as well. There is also a messaging capability, so you can give and receive feedback. Overall, it’s pretty simple and seamless.

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How I’ve Benefitted from Having a Running Coach

Now that I’ve been training with Jenny and Ekiden a little over a month, I can say that having a running coach has helped my training consistency. Hopefully, this will translate to an overall more enjoyable second marathon (not that one runs marathons to enjoy themselves). Basically, I’m hoping to not feel quite so beat up by it!

One thing that Jenny has done that I’ve really liked, is that she’s listened to me overall about my desire to incorporate a lot of cross training into my routine. While she recommended to run 3-4 days per week, I have still been able to get in a bit of cross training each week. For me, that’s important to keeps things fresh!

I also feel more confident, having a resource that I can ask directly for advice and guidance. Someone who has been in my shoes and knows where I am coming from. Friends and family are normally great for that sort of thing, but their advice doesn’t always translate to the running world.

img_4071Aspects that Haven’t Been my Preference

One of the best things about Ekiden – connecting through technology – has actually been one of the things that I haven’t liked as much. Though it makes the coaching much more affordable, I do wish I was able to chat more with my coach. She’s been super responsive, but I am not the type of person to check an individual website to deliver feedback. I wish there was a way to just have a weekly, 5-15 minute check in call, where I could chat about my workouts for the week and deliver feedback right there. It’s more of a preference though, and I still plan to use Ekiden after my trial has ended.

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Final Thoughts

If you’re thinking of venturing into the coaching foray, but the cost of such programs gives you a fright, I recommend Ekiden! Compared to many other personal training and/or coaching options out there, this is a much better way to get exactly what you need, without sacrificing your firstborn child.

What’s even better is that you can try Ekiden with this unique discount code, BibRave16, which gets you one month free when you purchase a 3 month plan. And, if you sign up for a longer plan, like a six month plan, you’ll only pay $53/month. Go to ekiden.com to sign up (scroll all the way down to view more pricing details).

Also, hope you’ve enjoyed some of the scenery from my recent Ekiden runs!

What’s the biggest change in routine that’s helped you become a better runner?

Cheers to deciding not to go it alone with my training any more!

Nutrabolt Oktoberfest Half Marathon Recap and Review

Disclosure: I received a complimentary race entry for the Nutrabolt Oktoberfest Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! All opinions are my own.

As most of you know, I’ve been training for the BCS Marathon, with the Nutrabolt Oktoberfest Half Marathon as a bit of a benchmark midway through. This past weekend (October 16) I finally made my way up to College Station for the race. Not only did I look forward to seeing how my former home has changed, but also to experience a city that I haven’t seen yet on the run. 

Pre-race

The race did a great job of communicating updates leading up to the race, through emails and social media. They also ran several giveaways with their sponsors on Facebook, which kept race goers engaged with the page. Actually, this is incredibly smart, because if timely messages need to be communicated, any page must have an active audience for Facebook to push out content.

img_4099In terms of the expo, it was held at the Nutrabolt headquarters. There were only 4 booths in total, including Nutrabolt’s area and the race packet pickup – not exactly what I’d call an expo. While signup and packet pickup were easy, the expo wasn’t anything to write home about. However, since there is no other way to pick up your packet for this race, it must be done!

Side note: we stayed at the Holiday Inn. It was clean, comfy and a 10 minute drive from the race. The staff were also friendly and accommodating.

Racing time!

The race starts at 7, but it’s a good idea to aim to be at the start line by 6:30, if you are meeting people, no later than 6:45 if you are riding solo. Parking and walking takes an extra 10ish minutes. You must pass through the underground tunnel leading to the start line before 6:45 to make it on time (it’s part of the race course).

Porta potty lines were as expected; there are plenty for the number of race participants, but there is always a line. Anyway, there were tons of announcements and of course the national anthem, the Aggie fight song (whoop!), and a prayer. Just get there early if you want to chat or use the bathroom. Unfortunately, I was running late… between all of the announcements, Erica at Another Half Please and I couldn’t snag much of a pre-race conversation, but we did catch up the first mile of the race and afterward. The race started, and we were off!

The first several miles of the course, we caught a view of the most beautiful sunrise as we ran through campus. That always makes the early mornings worthwhile. The course itself was fairly flat, with mild hills. For this Austinite, the course wasn’t particularly challenging.

The race field was not too big, and not too small (about 650 total for the half). There was no crowding on the course. The aid stations were consistently every 1.5 miles, and they were staffed with pleasant, friendly volunteers. I did not see any long lines for porta potties either; just 1 or 2 people total in line at a time, so they had an appropriate amount. They even placed Gu’s appropriately at around miles 4 and 10, as wells as oranges and bananas. This is a nice touch and an area where the race excelled. Any race I’ve attended that has fuel on the course puts it at mile 7 – kinda late to start fueling for a half. At the end of the course, where the path winds through a residential neighborhood, volunteers stood throughout to guide runners (also much appreciated)!

Finishing strong…

In terms of my time goal, I tried not to set one until I felt it out. Race morning was sunny and between 71 and 75 degrees. I did well before the sun was overhead. I tried to push myself in the last half to see if I could at least finish between 2:25-2:30. The heat got the better of me and I had to finish conservatively. I ultimately finished at 2:36:12. Not Austin 2016 at all, but I’m happy to have finished uninjured and enjoyed the experience overall. The finish line was also inside Kyle Field, which was really neat. I didn’t stay in there long though, because I was ready to get out of the sun and into the post race party. 

My face after my husband found me, drenched in sweat!

Post Race – Time to party!

One of my favorite parts of the Nutrabolt Half was the post race party. Karbach beer was on tap (4 different types). It would have been nice to have a cider choice available, especially to serve gluten-free folks. However, I sat down with a wheat beer, Weisse Versa, which was refreshing and appropriate, as my time in College Station was the peak of my beer drinking days. For runners, they also had pretzels and bratwurst, complementing the Oktoberfest theme, in addition to the other runner food staples of bananas, muffins, etc. There was only a line for beer, which also made it easy to enjoy the party!

This recap cannot be complete without a note on the wonderful swag we received. Before the race, we received a nice Nutrabolt bag (similar to lululemon shopping totes). Inside the bag were a couple of FitJoy bars, and a large beach towel. After the race, we received a super soft, triblend finisher’s shirt, a ceramic beer stein and a sweet medal. Even though none of these pieces were super technical, they are actually pieces that I will use outside of running, which is awesome. I prefer to get a few quality pieces of non-running swag than one tech shirt/jacket that is not made well, because I’ll just never use it! I’ve been wearing the t-shirt to sleep in all week, actually.

Overall, it was worth the trip to Aggieland; I will absolutely make the trip back if given the opportunity in the future. Thanks again to the race director for making this possible. I’m excited to return to C-Stat for my 2nd marathon in December.

Today’s question – what was your hottest race experience?

Cheers to “fall” races in Texas (and the beers that follow)!

 

A Nutrabolt-Half-Eve Update on Training/Life

Wanted to give a quick update on all that’s going on with marathon/half marathon training, and life in general!


The Nutrabolt Oktoberfest Half Marathon is tomorrow! AKA BibRave is the only reason I’d be proud to sport orange in College Station. Training has been going well. When you’re training for a marathon, I’ve discovered the half marathon serves as a great way to break up the lengthy training schedule a little bit. I have been fairly consistent with getting my workouts in this time around, overall. Haven’t seen a lot of progress in terms of my overall speed. It has also been very warm (and I have purposely taken a less rigorous training schedule). Races are just so much fun. Also, I’ll be meeting up with Erica from Another Half Please! I haven’t seen her since the Hot Chocolate 15K, and it will be super fun to connect with another Bib Rave Pro.

I’m also super excited to be in College Station this weekend – AKA my old stomping grounds. I went to Texas A&M and loved my college experience, so it’s always a treat to go back and visit/enjoy all of the inexpensive entertainment College Station has to offer. We’re going to eat at Layne’s, we’re going to see a $4 movie, and of course, we’re going to drink some craft beer! It wouldn’t be a proper trip to Aggieland without some beer, now would it?



Fun memories from my ring dunk (where you “dunk” your class ring and chug a pitcher of beer) and Elephant Walk, two Aggie traditions.

Other than that, I have some other big news (and it’s part of the reason for my absence over the past couple of months).

I started a new job last week! It’s going great so far – I am really pleased with the company and all they invest in their employees. It’s been an opportunity to learn quite a lot and I am looking forward to what I hope will be a long relationship. Having more of a work-life balance and being able to refocus back on what I love to do – running and writing – will also be another perk! I feel like I started the year strong, but as my stress level increased, it has become a challenge to give y’all updates. So, I’m quite relieved.


Bonus: unlimited La Croix and yummy tacos within walking distance of my remote-controlled standing desk.

But, as for tomorrow, I’m still managing expectations. With a warm forecast of about 70 degrees, it’s going to be my warmest race. Not totally expecting to PR – it would be nice, but I have been feeling slow lately. My game plan is to just have fun… seems like I say that a lot, but it’s the truth!


Cheers to not having a plan and enjoying the ride. Looking forward to sharing my feedback on the race this week. Stay in touch on Insta for all of the latest! 🙂

A Belated Blogiversary (and a Special Announcement)

Welp, it’s July, you guys! And you know what? Time has flown by and I just realized I never posted about my blogiversary.

It is hard to believe it’s been two years since I started training for races, running distances longer than 2 miles, etc. and of course, blogging! Reflecting on the past couple of years, I feel incredibly blessed to have come so far in such a short period of time, both in my blogging and running. I ran my first half marathon, then went on to run my first full marathon. Mostly, I have learned so much about myself (go figure).Me after I picked up my first race packet for the Houston Half Marathon!

Oh, and here is my super excited pace when I smashed my goal at the Hot Chocolate 15K earlier this year.

Through running, I have learned the value of hard work, commitment and perseverance. Pre-running, I was never able to stay committed to an exercise routine; not only have I gotten better at that, but I am also leaps and bounds better at understanding problems, and setting reasonable goals in order to solve them. Just this weekend, my husband and I proudly made the last payment on my student loans… We are now debt free! Of course, it has taken a lot of personal commitment from both of us to stay diligent together; I believe running has challenged me to be a better wife during tougher times, which has made times and accomplishments like these even sweeter. I could go on, but I will save the novel of words I could easily write for another time, because I have other exciting news to share this evening!

One of the highlights of this past year was running my first race in my new hometown of Austin, the Austin Half Marathon.

In light of my two year blogiversary, I have been aching to set a date for another race. While I don’t race THAT often, I do find that setting races gives me a solid goal to work towards. AND I really wanted to see what a difference nearly two years would make in my marathon time. I am excited to say that I’ve had the opportunity to sign up for not one, but two races on my list through BibRave.

The Nutrabolt Oktoberfest Half Marathon on October 16, 2016

AND

The BCS Marathon on December 11, 2016!

I am both excited and nervous at the same time, because I want to train hard and continue to set better records for myself. But I am mostly excited, because Aggieland holds such a special place in my heart (and the post-race party for the Oktoberfest Half will have special steins with 10 craft beers to choose from, so what’s not to like).

Right after I became a marathoner in Irving… Looking forward to doing that again!

Both of these races will take place in Bryan/College Station, Texas, which I am also super pumped about (’cause I’m an Aggie, duh)! Seriously though, Chris and I have been trying to find an excuse to take a weekend to go back, reminisce on our college days, and take part in all of the wonderful (and fairly inexpensive) things that there are to do in C-Stat. I plan to post info on things to do in BCS in a separate post from my normal reviews, so you can get a better idea of not only why the race is great, but why you should make a trip to College Station to run it.

Oh and then there are discount codes. If you already were planning a fall or winter half or full marathon, and this seems like it might be for you, you can use the code RAVE2016 (for the Nutrabolt Half Marathon it expires on 9/16 and for BCS Marathon, it expires 11/11). That makes the BCS Marathon $85 if you register before August 31, which is totally reasonable if you have been wanting to give it a go. If you think you might want to run either of these with me, feel free to ask any questions, or check out the race websites: nutrabolthalf.com and bcsmarathon.com.

What races are you looking forward to this fall?

Cheers to personal growth through physical fitness!