Running Friends

I've talked about this before, but anyone who thinks running is a solo sport is doing it wrong. Running is a team sport, whether your team is Olympics-bound, sponsored by a major shoe company, a local running club, or simply a group of friends who run. 

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More than I've ever actually loved the physical act of running, I love the people of running. The spectators, the volunteers, the elite athletes (Love you, Des Linden!), the charity runners, the coaches, and all the "regular" runners. Of course, there's a special place in my heart for my fellow back-of-the-pack runners. We'll never win Boston or pick up an endorsement deal, but we're crushing personal records and achieving goals nonetheless. 

I went into Pittsburgh Marathon weekend feeling under-trained and just ready for the whole thing to be over. I knew it was going to hurt (thankfully, it wasn't as bad as I thought). I knew I wasn't going to have any sort of speed. I knew the whole weekend would be chaotic and would leave me feeling like I didn't get to spend any time with dear friends who were in from out-of-town. 

Saturday brought the 5k, where I saw some of my Crohn's & Colitis Foundation friends volunteering on the course. After that, it was back to the North Shore to meet up with my two favorite Kids of Steel. Aunt Chelsea and I once again accompanied Dex & Quinn in the Kids Marathon. This year, they ran the whole way themselves! (Last year included some piggy back rides and quite a bit of coaxing to keep walking haha). It was such a cool treat to two kids I love so much running in the streets of the city I love so much. 

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I had a whole bunch of stuff written here, but it somehow got deleted, so I had to try and remember what I wrote about. I feel like I'm missing a paragraph or two, but oh well. Here's the rest:

Chelsea and I had already talked about running the half together and just taking it easy and having fun. Until we actually started running that day, I wondered whether we were defining “slow” the same way or if I’d be holding her back. Thankfully, and unsurprisingly, we were in sync. We kind of followed a run-walk but took longer walk breaks whenever we felt like it (or whenever we were crossing a bridge that appeared to be 900 miles long). Towards the end of the race, I told her how glad I was that we had decided to run together because I knew I would have been much slower had I been on my own. Going into the race, I honestly thought anything under 3 hours would be a win, but that I could probably do under 2:50. We finished in 2:41:09! Certainly not my best time, but actually not my slowest either. I guess that goes to show that not all of my conditioning was lost.

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After recovering and seeing my family, we headed back out onto the course to find Coach Jeff. We had planned on running the last mile or so with him, but he was speeding along at a pace neither Chelsea or I could maintain (especially having already run a half marathon that morning), so we met up with him again in the Finish Line Festival, got some food, and once again headed out to the course to cheer on runners. By now, marathoners were coming through in somewhere around the 6-hour mark and it was POURING rain. Ashley from P3R graciously invited us up into (now) empty covered VIP Finish Line viewing tent where we were able to cheer for people.

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The finish line of a marathon is a magical place. There were people running solo, friends sticking together, and everyone with a determined look on their face. We met a 75-year-old man who just completed the marathon. A 75-year-old. Who ran 26.2 miles. In the rain. Like a badass. Seriously, runners are a rare breed.

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Here’s to crossing another finish line with my BRF and heading into summer ready to train for a fall marathon (or two? Am I that crazy?)!

Tell me about your running friends in the comments below!

Helping her helped me.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know by now that Desiree Linden won the Boston Marathon yesterday, in arguably some of the worst weather conditions a runner can compete in (thank you, 5439238672265th day of winter...). 

 Source: New York Magazine

Source: New York Magazine

Des decided early on that yesterday wasn't her day (spoiler: it was SO her day). She thought she'd drop out due to the miserable weather and because she wasn't feeling great. Many people would have just dropped out and made their way to a warm shower and dry clothes as quickly as possible. But Des decided to use the gas left in her tank to help others, specifically her fellow American runners. 

When you work together, you never know what’s going to happen. Helping her helped me.
— Desiree Linden, on helping Shalane Flanagan during the 2018 Boston Marathon

She hung back when Shalane Flanagan made a restroom stop, and offered to block the wind for her. When is the last time someone offered to block the wind for you? Whether literal or metaphorical wind, when is the last time you blocked the wind to help someone else succeed?

Not only did Desiree Linden win the Boston Marathon, she was the first American woman to do so since 1985. American women claimed seven of the top eight spots. Who run the world? BADASS WOMEN. 

I'm passionate about helping others succeed, whether that means cheering them on via social media, running alongside them in a race, helping them start their own business and get their nutrition on track, or connecting with them others who can also support them in reaching their goals. It gives me so much satisfaction to see people making their dreams a reality. 

I'm going to channel my inner Desiree Linden in the coming weeks and focus on how I can "block the wind" for people, even if that means helping them get out of their own way and start believing in themselves. 

How do you block the wind for others? 

 

 

2018 Goals!

Now is about the time that many people are falling off the wagon with their new year’s resolutions and goals, so I figured now was also the perfect time for me to share mine. I don’t really ever set resolutions, but I like to have some goals to focus on.

I’ve actually got some pretty big goals that I’m keeping private for right now (but if we’re friends IRL, please ask me about them!), but here’s what I’m putting out there for the world:
 

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1. Read every day.

In 2016, I set a goal to read 52 books, or one per week. I actually surpassed this goal and read 53! I knew I wanted a slightly less aggressive goal in 2017, but I read even less than expected and probably read somewhere around 25-30 books (which is still a lot!).

To get back into reading more regularly, I’ve set a goal to read every single day (and so far I’ve still got a perfect record!). I use Goodreads to track my reading, and I’ve set a goal on there to read XX books, so I’m hoping daily reading time will help do the trick!

I’m not putting further parameters on what “read every day” means - so some days it may be a chapter, or other days might be a bit more, like the day recently where I had 3 hours of flights and read a few hundred pages.

I’m also committing to reading all of the unread books on my bookshelf (as opposed to the hundreds of unread books also sitting in my kindle app haha!)



2. Run 2 marathons.

I’m already registered for the 10th anniversary of the Pittsburgh Marathon in May (on my birthday!), so that’s one for sure. I’ve got a free entry for Akron in September and had a great experience there in 2017, so I’m definitely considering it again as well. I’m also tossing around some other ideas!

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I'm also participating in the Run for a Reason program once again and am looking to raise $1000 for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation. I'm currently 15% completed with my goal. I'd love to see my friends and family sponsoring my race at $1 per mile (that's 26.2 miles, folks!). Even $0.50 per mile is a HUGE help and goes a long way towards funding a cure. You can donate by clicking HERE!

First things first - I’ve got to get back into a rhythm with running. The past few months have not included much running and while I’m ok with that and know I’ll get back into it, I also know these next few weeks will probably be rough, particularly with all the gross weather we’ve had.

 

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3. Create a plan and budget for a trip to Europe.

A Eurotrip has been high on my bucket list for many years, so I’m determined to finally start making some plans!

I won’t be going on the trip or setting dates until I’ve met some financial goals I’m working towards, but I’m also hoping that making more concrete plans will help keep me focused on those goals.

 

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4. Stick to my #powersheets.

I haven’t used a planner in many, many years thanks to technology because I keep my calendar and task list in Google Calendar, but I decided to try one out this year in hopes that seeing my goals in writing, on paper, in my own handwriting, will help me stay focused on them and not lose momentum. I figure if I’ve got to drag this book everywhere with me, I may as well smash the goals and plans written in it, right? :-p

After looking at a few options, I settled on the #powersheets planner from Cultivate What Matters. Unfortunately, they were sold out of the 12-month planner and aren’t restocking their inventory, so I purchased a 6 month calendar. I’ve been chipping away at it a little bit at a time and hope to have all of my action plans laid out by the end of next week!

This goal also encompasses achieving those other goals I vaguely mentioned at the beginning of this post, so it's actually more than just writing in a planner (though I'm definitely going to buy some fun new pens to write in it!)

 


Do you set New Year’s resolutions or goals? Share them in the comments!

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!

In honor of #GivingTuesday, I've got a big announcement to make: I'm running the Pittsburgh Marathon again in 2018! This is the 10th anniversary of the return of the Pittsburgh Marathon, and it will be my 3rd full marathon (2nd in Pittsburgh). Once again, I will be raising funds for the Western Pennsylvania/West Virginia chapter of the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation. As part of the Run for a Reason program, all of the funds raised will stay local! This means the money raised will directly benefit all of my fellow IBD warriors here in the Pittsburgh area. 

To learn more about some of those IBD friends, check out the trailer for The Stool, an upcoming documentary I had the privilege of working on earlier this year. Stay tuned for more details regarding the premiere of The Stool in 2018! 

I've set a goal to raise at least $1000 this year. I sincerely appreciate every dollar that people are able to spare. ALL of the funds raised stay local! I will be fundraising until race day on May 6, which also happens to be my birthday! Crowdrise allows the option to make monthly donations, so please consider a recurring gift (or simply spreading your gift out over several months!).

To kick off my fundraising, all donations of $15 or more made TODAY (November 28, 2017) will be entered to win a $50 gift card to Starbucks or Chipotle (winner's choice!). 

#GivingTuesday is a GREAT way to give back to great causes! I will also be making a donation to the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust as part of #GiveBigPittsburgh. What are some of your favorite #GivingTuesday charities? Comment below with a link! 

Trying that 26.2 thing out again...

I'm officially registered for my second marathon! I will be participating in the 15th Anniversary of the Akron Marathon! I participated on a relay team (hey, Ohana!) a few years ago and really like the race experience. It's well organized and the swag is awesome. I also like that's not terribly far from home and that it's early enough in the fall that I'll be able to recover in time to run some other fall races as well as pace Jeff at the JFK 50 Miler in November (eek! So exciting!). 

As an added bonus (in my opinion, anyway), this will also be my first race as a member of Team Challenge! While I'm not new to fundraising for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation, this will be my first time to official Race in Orange. You know an organization really matters to me when I'm willing to (and excited about) wear orange. Orange. Ick. The worst color ever (except for maybe brown).

My goal is to raise at least $1000 for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, so yes, I'll be hitting up all of my family and friends for money again. Until there is a cure for these awful diseases, I will continue to do whatever I can to raise funds and awareness. You don't find cures, you fund them.

I'm using a Hal Higdon training plan again and have also set the following fitness goals for myself for the summer:

-Run 3x per week.

 The training plan has 4 runs per week, but I've found that often isn't realistic for me.

-Strength train for at least 15 minutes 3x per week.

The Cranberry Township Community Chest had these awesome fitness stations installed at Graham Park in 2014. They're fairly basic and use body strength, so I'm not going to start some bodybuilding career (which is good because that body paint looks creepy as hell), but at least I'm incorporating another good habit. And let's be honest, most runners have no upper body strength at all. 

-Walk/Cross train 1-2x per week. I really enjoy walking so this is usually pretty easy for me to add in. In an effort to keep a good workout routine going (and to motivate me to get at least 3 runs in each week), I told myself that if it was raining really hard or the weather was otherwise crappy and I didn't feel like going outside to run, I'd do a Jillian Michaels workout (or something similar, but I like hers). This morning I did 30 Day Shred for the first time in a long time and it was a little rough haha. 

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-Keep nutrition on track.

Again this should be pretty easy because the nutrition company I've partnered with has an AMAZING product line. I've recently (finally) started using the performance line and holy crap! It IS possible to have a pre-workout drink that doesn't make your skin crawl after 10 minutes. 

Run, shake, repeat. #runtheblueline #akronmarathon #teamanchored

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-Drink local beer!

Hey, life is all about balance. And I've got to re-hydrate from all those runs somehow, right? :-P 

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What are your summer fitness/beer goals? Comment below! 

Five Things Friday: October 28

I've got five awesome things to share this week! 

1. I completed the Monster's Mash Half Marathon this weekend and earned a medal the size of my face!

#MedalMonday: I completed my 6th half marathon on Saturday! The race begins with a lap around the Dover International Speedway and ends next to the Miles the Monster statue! It was a windy and rainy one, but I had a pretty great race! 🏃🏼‍♀️🏅🏁#teamanchored #gameonpgh #nuunbassador #nuunlove #hshive
A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Oct 24, 2016 at 9:07am PDT

2. I had a GREAT customer service experience with WALMART this week. Yes,

that

 Walmart. I'm gonna write a whole blog post about it, but for now,

use this referral link

to save $10 off your first order! 

3. I'm all set for Trick-Or-Treat on Monday! I've picked up some of my favorite chocolate treats, as well as some fruit snacks that are allergen friendly! Check out the

Teal Pumpkin Project

and consider having allergen friendly treats available! 

4. Coach Jeff and I are headed to Niagara Falls, ON this weekend to run the Niagara Falls Marathon. I'm doing the Half and Jeff is going to crush the Full in order to gain a qualifying time for the JFK 50 Miler next fall. I'll have my phone on airplane mode, but will try and post to Instagram on wifi whenever I can. Follow along by following me on

Instagram

and following the hashtags #PGHLaurenNATour and #CoachJeffJFK50 (and probably other hashtags I will make up on a whim). 

5. Speaking of #PGHLaurenNATour (NA stands for North America, by the way), I will be in all three North American countries within a span of 4 days! On Wednesday, I leave for Mexico to celebrate my college roommate Elyssa's wedding in Cancun! On the way home, I'll be spending a day in Miami as well and would love some restaurant recommendations, so leave your favorites in the comments below!!!

I'm back!

Since the last time I posted here was in July, I thought it was time for a new header and some updates. This wasn't an intentional blogging hiatus, but so much life has happened since then and I've just been focused on other things.

Up first, I've made progress on several of my goals! 

Successfully train for and run a marathon - DONE 5/1/2016

Raise $1000 for CCFA - DONE 5/1/2016

Run a sub-30 5k - DONE! I ran the Steelers 5k in 29:34 thanks to Coach Jeff's help and then ran the inaugural Flyby 5k in 29:30!

Run a sub-60 10k - still chasing this goal, but I did get a new 10k PR at the Great Race this year (1:01:29 so close!)

Run/walk 1500 miles - 66.41 (Jan) + 76.35 Feb) + 97.34 (Mar) + 94.08 (Apr) + 67.02 (May) + 53.28 (Jun) + 53.1 (Jul) + 8.51 (Aug - YIKES! But this is only what I actually tracked, so it's not

this

 bad) + 58.16 (Sep) = 574.25. 

Clean out my boxes in the basement - DONE! We moved in August (which contributed to the low mileage displayed above), but since then I've taken several very full carloads of stuff to Goodwill! 

Clean out the desk in my room that I never use - DONE! In fact, that desk is in the garage ready to be donated/sold. 

Read 52 books: I've read 36 so far this year! 

Use more vacation days: I'm going to Mexico in less than a month, so I'll be using at least a week then! 

Blog more: HAHA oops.

Actually sort through my pictures from Alaska so I can 

finally

 blog about the experience and design and order photo books: HAHA maybe before the 2 year anniversary of the trip? The photos are mostly sorted - I just need to actually put the books together.

Denali National Park

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As I mentioned above, we moved in August and I also had a huge work event, both of which went very well, but I'm glad to be done with. Moving to a smaller house has allowed us to go through and get rid of a lot of crap we don't need, and the result is a lot less clutter! 

As I also mentioned above, I'm going to Mexico next month! My college roommate Elyssa is getting married at the Hard Rock Riviera Maya. I've never been to Mexico so I'm looking forward to some pool time, margaritas, and as much chips and guac as I want!

Time to plug a great cause and a super fun event! I'm on the planning committee for Opening Night! A movie premiere event benefiting the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America - Western PA/WV chapter. This year we are premiering

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

 and will also be showing

Dr. Strange

 in a second theatre! Tickets are on sale now and we have some awesome things planned! For more information and to purchase tickets, click the picture! 

When I go to Mexico, I'll also be stopping in Miami for a day on the way home. Comment below with your suggestions for things to do and places to eat! 

Training Update, and a Belt Review!

Training for my second marathon has been even more all over the place than training for my first. Between a busy summer and some nagging achilles tendinitis, there hasn't been as much running lately as I'd like. 

But, some of the running has been fun and productive! 

My first race after running the Pittsburgh Marathon was the Brentwood 5k - it's become an annual tradition to run with friends and then stick around for beer and prizes. They did the prizes a little differently this year and it was sort of lame, but the beer and company were still awesome!

Brentwood Firecracker 5k!

I ran the 2nd annual Hot-To-Trot 5k as part of Zelienople's Horse Trading Days last weekend. They adjusted the course this year and I really liked the changes (though there's a pretty tough hill in the middle!). Following the race, we got to ride in a hot air balloon! It was tethered, and "only" went 40 feet up, which makes me pretty confident that an un-tethered ride would be terrifying. 

A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Jul 18, 2016 at 12:57pm PDT

As a Level Up Virtual Runs Ambassador, they asked if I wanted to try out one of their new LED light-up running belts! I've tried several different belts/armbands, so I was anxious to see how this one measured up to the

SLS3 belt

I've been using for shorter runs (I use my hydration vest for longer runs). 

The pocket easily holds an iPhone 6 in an Otterbox,

with plenty of room left for car keys, cash, gels, etc.

The fit of the belt is similar to the SLS3 belt, but the elastic seems slightly less stretchy (this may change over time). The pocket is much deeper, which makes it much easier to get my phone in and out without having to manipulate the pockets. I kind of wish there was a separate pocket I could keep my car key in so it doesn't fall out if I take my phone out mid-run, but this really hasn't been an issue. Even when the zipper is open, stuff doesn't really move around or fall out. 

Easy on/off and adjusts for a perfect fit!

The LED lights are pretty cool! This would be an excellent addition to any night-time runner's reflective gear. The battery casing doesn't take up much room at all in the belt, and the lights have different patterns (or steady on, if you prefer). 

Great fit and it stays in place!

Want to try out the belt for yourself? Level Up Runs is offering my readers a chance to purchase it for 50% off - what a steal! You can purchase your own LED belt

HERE

. Use code RCE5FGY8 to get it for HALF OFF! 

You can also join Level Up Virtual Runs and I for the

Dog Days Virtual Race

next month! Use code SAVE10 to save 10% off your race registration - register

HERE

!

Comment below if you have any questions about the belt, the race, or about becoming a Level Up Ambassador! 

Dog Days Virtual Race!

Hey all! I'm excited to share I've teamed up with

Level Up Virtual Runs

for another Virtual race, the Dog Days 5k/10k/Half! Participants receive the awesome finisher's medal featured below as well as a $25 gift certificate for

SLS3USA

AND, for every entry, Level Up is donating a toy, blanket, or dog bowl to the Second Chance Dog Rescue in San Diego, CA. Learn more about the work of

Second Chance

here. 

If you love dogs and running as much as I do, what are you waiting for?

Register

today! 

Ziva loves the Dog Days of Summer! 

June Goals Update and a Weekend Update!

June Goals Update:

Successfully train for and run a marathon:

 DONE

Raise $1000 for CCFA:

 $2100+ raised.

Run a sub-30 5k: 

Coming this summer?

Run a sub-60 10k: 

Coming this fall?

Run/walk 1500 miles:

 66.41 (Jan) + 76.35 (Feb) + 97.34 (Mar) + 94.08 (Apr)  + 67.02 (May) + 53.28 (Jun) = 454.48! It's not likely I'll make 1500 miles (since I'm only counting logged running/walking workouts and not ALL my steps).

Clean out my boxes in the basement:

 Done, I guess? They're all in storage at the moment. We're moving in August so maybe I'll get a chance to sort through some of that crap then. 

Clean out the desk in my room that I never use:

 Done! 

Read 52 books:

 30 books read to date. 

Use more vacation days:

Big fail on that so far this year, but I've got a trip to Mexico in the fall and hoping for a few long weekends here and there as well. 

Blog more:

 Oops.

Actually sort through my pictures from Alaska so I can 

finally

 blog about the experience and design and order photo books:

Sorted, but no photobooks yet. 

I had a pretty solid July 4th weekend: I enjoyed craft beers with penguins at the Aviary on Friday, had yinzeritas on Saturday, went to a Daniel Tiger birthday party for two special girls on Sunday, and ran a new course PR at the Brentwood 5K on Monday! How was your holiday weekend?

PENGUINS!

Happy the Penguin tried to steal some ShuBrew!

New Course PR at Brentwood!

Finally, a plug for a super awesome event that is coming up on FRIDAY! Hope you see everyone at Cosmo - use code HOTNIGHT for discount tickets! Details can be found at

trustarts.org/cosmo

.