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. 

A Runner’s Snack: UCAN Snack Bars Review (& Discount)

Disclosure: I received samples of UCAN Snack Bars 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 my attempts to eat healthier to fuel my body, I tend to reach for bars when I’m on the go, or don’t have enough time to grab a proper meal. These are especially good for days when I unexpectedly have to work late – a fairly regular, but unpredictable occurrence for me. Still, most snack bars are protein-heavy and low in carbs, AKA the opposite of what I need heading to run. UCAN Snack Bars are different, and I’m excited to share my experience with them.

UCAN Snack Bars

The UCAN Snack Bars are unique due to a proprietary SuperStarch that the company has developed, which is carbohydrate-dense. These bars still contain protein, fiber, and healthy fats – all of those things you need to keep from being super hungry – but the unique carb content makes them a highly suitable pre-run snack.

What I loved most about UCAN Bars was that they were tasty, while still being low in sugar and gluten-free. I don’t have celiac or a gluten intolerance, but I still think it’s important that nutritional supplements cater to the dietary needs of many people. In terms of flavor, they even passed the highly-scientific Chris Flores taste test. They must be good if my non-runner husband likes them.

UCAN Snack Bars also come in a variety of flavors: Chocolate Peanut Butter, ChocolateCinnamon Swirl, Coffee Bean and Peach Passion. I tried out everything but the Chocolate Peanut Butter, which wasn’t part of my sample package. My personal favorites were the Chocolate and Coffee. Everyone I’ve known that has tested these out seems to have a different flavor preference. Therefore, it’s a good idea to purchase the Multi Flavor Box first to decide what flavors you prefer.

How to Use:

Well, obviously, you eat them! I found that eating the UCAN Snack Bars before a run/as a snack on a carbloading day gave me a good amount of energy during the subsequent workout. The caveat here is with food products, what works for one person isn’t necessarily going to work for everyone. I know of some other Bib Rave Pros that also tried the bars on their actual runs – this isn’t the right application for me personally, but if you need to refuel during a run, or if you’re doing an all-day race like an ironman, and you can handle solid food, I would consider the UCAN Snack Bars.

The only aspect I wasn’t crazy about was the actual texture. It is to be expected that any time you are eating something starchy, it’s going to be a bit dry. That’s what I found with these bars. I don’t think that’s a huge difference from any other comparable snack bar; no snack bar is going to taste or feel exactly like its fresh food counterpart. It was not bothersome to me initially, but I did notice I needed to get a glass of water to wash everything down. However, I don’t really see a way to avoid this because of what makes them so great – having a lot of carbs! I just point it out to help manage your expectations in case you are a texture person.

To try the snack bars for yourself, visit store.generationucan.com. The Multi Flavor Box described above is 10 bars for $20, which is comparable to other bars on the market. AND with discount code BIBRAVE you can take 15% off UCAN’s website!

Which UCAN Snack Bar will you try first?

Cheers to eating healthier as we move into the holiday season.

Birthday Gifts for the Active Girl

This past weekend, I celebrated my 25th birthday! Each year seems to go by more quickly than the last and I can’t believe I’m another year older again. I personally love birthdays because they are an opportunity to show the person you love how special they are and how much their life means to you.  However, when my turn comes along, I always struggle to finalize my birthday list. Don’t get me wrong – this is definitely a good problem to have!
Here’s what was on my list this year in the way of activewear and running gear; if you’re trying to find gifts (birthday or otherwise) for the special active lady in your life, these items are sure to bring a smile to her face… or maybe you’re just like me and don’t always know what you want. 😉
Birthday Gift Guide
From left, clockwise:
Under Armour Fly-By Tank – I have had my eye on this tank for quite a while and will probably be purchasing it with my birthday money. It’s perfect for summer and comes in so many fun colors.
MPG Cover-Up Cardigan – If I could wear running clothes to work everyday, I totally would. This cardigan makes that a little more possible. Just wear it with a tank and jeans and all you have to do is change into running capris (like the Running Skirts Honeycomb Capris below) and head to the gym.
Feetures! Elite Cushion No Show Tab Sock – You might be thinking, “Really, Socks?” Seriously. I bought my first pair of these socks for my marathon and feel like they made a huge difference in how my feet felt. These are kind of expensive and a luxury many people wouldn’t indulge in, so I’d say it’s appropriate to give socks in this case. Your runner friend will thank you.
FlipBelt – These come in so many cute colors and make it easy to carry personal belongings when running, biking, etc.
lululemon Speed Shorts – lululemon is another item I consider a sweet luxury. These shorts will make the active girl in your life feel super spoiled. They even have waterproof pockets for your phone/keys and extra pockets for Gu’s/gels. Black is a safe bet because it looks good with everything.
Brooks Special Edition Kaleidoscope Collection – If your runner has a favorite Brooks shoe, they just came out with this awesome Kaleidoscope Collection that’s only available for a limited time. We could always use an extra pair ;).
Garmin Forerunner 15 – The Forerunner 15 is a sporty and functional and will help her reach her time goals. This low priced GPS watch has so many great features that I can’t list them all here, so be sure to check out the list here.
Sweaty Bands Headbands – Sweaty Bands have a no-slip grip and come in many fun colors. Again, you could get a basic color and wear these from work to the gym.
Massage Envy Gift Card – Two words: Treat yourself. Massages make a great gift, and if you know someone who’s training for a race they’ll appreciate the chance to get a sports massage to work out their aches and pains.
Running Skirts Honeycomb Capris – I just think this print is so fun! The light colors match pretty much anything and make this an option for the summer, since black absorbs heat. Wear them to yoga, kickboxing, or on an after-work run.
As for my actual birthday, it was great. We relaxed, went to dinner and watched The Princess Bride. We also got to spend the day with my family a couple days after.
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Chris spoiled me and got me the Garmin Forerunner 220. I haven’t had a chance to try it yet but will provide a detailed review when I do.
How do you like to celebrate your birthday?