May Goals Update

I crossed off some HUGE goals in May! Here's an update: 

Successfully train for and run a marathon: DONE. I still can't believe I did it! In fact, I've already registered for my 2nd marathon (Erie, in September) - when I announced this on social media, I learned just how many people do not read hashtags. 

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) = 401.2! I'm not sure I'll make this goal of 1500 miles, but I'll definitely go more miles than I've ever gone before! 

Clean out my boxes in the basement: Done, I guess? They're all in storage at the moment. 

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

Read 52 books: 28 books read to date. 

Use more vacation days: I'm using a few this month, including one for a trip to Idlewild with my niece and nephew, but I really could've used a few more days this month. Work had other ideas.

Blog more: Oops.

Actually sort through my pictures from Alaska so I can finally blog about the experience and design and order photo books: I'm actually through most of these and will likely finish sorting this week. Maybe I'll be able to get photobooks ordered before the 1-year anniversary of our arrival in AK!

What about you? How are you doing in achieving your goals? Comment below!

#GameOnPGH: That time I ran 26.2 miles and lived to tell the tale - Part One

Leading up to registration and throughout my training, there were many times where I questioned whether or not I would actually be able to pull this off and run a marathon. Do you know how many miles that is? A LOT (well, 26.2 to be exact). SO MUCH RUNNING. 

Do I even like running that much? I still don't know the answer to that but I know that I love the feeling of crossing that finish line knowing I've accomplished something that half of one percent of the US population has accomplished.

Look, I'm flying!

It wasn't until I completed my 18 mile training run solo (due to scheduling and whatnot during Easter weekend) that I could finally see how people actually do this. The run went really well and I finished it feeling tired and a bit sore, but thinking, "Ok, I could do 20 miles. And then I could survive a 10k after that."

Two weeks later I joined the wonderful women of the 11:30 pace group from Elite Runners and Walkers (or should I say Pro Bike + Run now?). When I first started marathon training, I had intended to join this group for more Saturday runs but my schedule just didn't work out that way.

If you had told me in January that my longest training run - 20 miles - scheduled for April - would be one of the snowiest runs, I would have laughed. But it was. We slugged it out for 20 miles with the snow pelting us in the face and the wind blowing us into one another on the sidewalks. But again, I finished feeling pretty good and thinking, "Ok. I can do this. I can run a marathon. A WHOLE marathon." Special thanks to Joanna for helping me through those 20 miles and for laughing (and complaining and judging at times, haha) with me - I couldn't have done it without you, especially in that craptastic weather. 

About halfway done with the 20-miler! Notice the snowflakes stuck to our clothes.

Runners talk a lot about tapering. After your longest training run, you cut your mileage back in the weeks leading up to the race to allow your body time to heal and recover. Taper talk often comes with discussion of frustration and mood swings and anger. I didn't experience any of this. Yes, I noticed I had so more "free time" because I was running less, but I was so busy with work and life and other things that I didn't actually have any more "free time". There was never a time where I was sitting around doing nothing.  

The Pittsburgh Marathon hosted an event for all of the bloggers at Wigle Whiskey on the Thursday before Marathon weekend. There was great food and drinks, and it was so fun to finally meet our liaison, Ashley, in person! I also got to meet the Race Director, Patrice - she promised that the weather would not ruin race day and she was right! The evening ended with Kristy, Chelsea, and I introducing Kathleen and Mar to tacos and margaritas at my new favorite, Bakersfield

In 2015, The Pittsburgh Marathon introduced The Steel Challenge. You earn an extra medal if you complete both the 5k on Saturday and either the half or the full marathon on Sunday. I completed the 5k and the half last year and knew I would do The Steel Challenge again this year. 

Because I was running a marathon the next day, I knew the 5k would be at a slow and steady pace. This actually turned out to be a lot of fun because I got to run with Chelsea, Kathleen, and Lynne! We had a great time together and I finished feeling good and still ready for the Big Day.

Of course the weather was great on 5k day.

We were actually on a walk break, so I faked running :-P

Final preparations for race day included finally deciding on an outfit and a spaghetti dinner at Chelsea's (ok, and a beer too). 

The weather forecast made it really hard to choose a shirt! 

The Big Day finally arrived. There was nothing left to do but run 26.2 miles. Stay tuned for part two tomorrow!

Level Up Virtual Runs: The Runner Awakens

In February, Brad at Level Up Virtual Runs contacted me asking if I'd be interested in reviewing their February virtual run, The Runner Awakens. Anxious to help out a new company and because, well, the medal looked SWEET, I happily agreed! I also figured this would be a great addition to my training for the Pittsburgh Marathon. 

Brad sent me some mock ups of what the medals would look like to share on social media. With the ongoing popularity of Star Wars and the recent release of another movie, this virtual run had a great theme! 

A photo posted by Lauren H (@pghlauren) on

A photo posted by Lauren H (@pghlauren) on

Something I really appreciated about partnering with Level Up Virtual Runs is that Brad is great about communicating. He's also committed to quality. When there was a production issue that left the medals looking less than perfect, Brad sent them all back and had them corrected, even though it meant a delay in shipment of the medals. He communicated about the delay - I'm sure most people (including me) would rather have quality medals even if there's a slight delay. And the beauty of a virtual race is that it doesn't have to be done on a specific day, so it's not like I was running through an official finish line only to not receive a medal.

A video posted by @levelupvirtualruns on

Overall, partnering with Level Up was a great experience! Their medals are awesome and the commitment to quality is much appreciated. I look forward to participating in their virtual races in the future! 

In the meantime, check out their April race, The Incredible Virtual Run. Registration is $25 and includes this awesome medal AND a $25 gift certificate for SLS3 (remember I reviewed one of their belts?). So really, it's like you're getting the medal for FREE! 

You can follow Level Up Virtual Runs on Facebook and Instagram

Have you ever done a virtual race before? Share in the comments below! 

#GameOnPGH: Fuel!

This month, I'm going to talk about fuel! I'm excited to share with you all about some of my favorite running fuel options, for before, during, and after runs! 

I'm proud and excited to be a brand ambassador for the official on-course fuel of this year's Pittsburgh Marathon, Honey Stinger! 

I have been using Honey Stinger energy chews for over a year now and they are basically the only thing I consume during runs. I've got a sensitive stomach, so many of the race fuel gels upset my stomach. Honey Stinger uses, you guessed it, honey as a natural base which helps my stomach tolerate it easily. I'm going to try their gels soon and am hoping for the same results! My favorite flavor of the energy chews is Pink Lemonade! They also have protein chews that I will be placing an order for soon! 

I eat Honey Stinger waffles before runs, especially if I'm running in the morning. Again due to my sensitive stomach, I don't like to eat too much before a run so the waffles are a perfect little boost of energy. Not to mention they are delicious! My favorite flavor is the cinnamon waffles (which are also gluten free!). I also like vanilla and chocolate. The waffle is actually two thin waffle wafers with honey in the middle. They come individually wrapped so it's easy to take them on the go! I've never topped them with anything, but I think they'd go great with peanut butter, Nutella, bananas/berries, or anything you want! 

Following runs, or anytime I need a filling and healthy snack, I turn to protein! Again, Honey Stinger comes to the rescue with their protein bars! My favorite flavor is the Mocha Cherry Pro - seriously, these are delicious! They contain 10g of protein per bar and 30mg of caffeine for an extra energy boost! It's more like a candy bar than a gritty, pasty protein bar you may have tried. I almost always have at least one of these stashed in my purse - you never know when you might need a snack! 

What are your favorite fueling options? Are you also a Honey Stinger fan? Share your favorite brands, products, and flavors in the comments!

AND, as a special bonus, I have a discount code for you! Use code RaceDSG2016 for 30% off your purchase at Honey Stinger

Stay tuned for another post soon on hydration!