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! 

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

.

#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!




February/March Goal Progress

First, congratulations to the winner of yesterday's Flash Giveaway and fellow Nuunbassador, Shannon! You'll have to comment on this post and let me know which distance you are planning to run! :) 

Oops...totally forgot to post a goals update at the end of February. But the good news is that while I neglected to post about it, I did make quite a bit of progress on my goals! 

Progress:
Successfully train for and run a marathon: I have a brand new half marathon PR (2:30:45, 14 minutes faster than my old half PR!). This was a great confidence booster going into the final weeks of marathon training!




Raise $1000 for CCFA: I reached my initial goal of $1000 in March and am now working towards a stretch goal of $1500!! Thank you to all of my generous donors who helped me achieve this goal so far ahead of schedule! 




Run a sub-30 5k

Run a sub-60 10k

Run/walk 1500 miles: 66.41 (Jan) + 76.35 (Feb) + 97.34 (Mar) = 240.1 miles. I'm a little behind on this, but I'll pick up a lot of miles in April as I finish marathon training, and will pick up more walking miles in the summer as the temperature rises (and the grass needs cut haha!)

Clean out my boxes in the basement: Started on this - got rid of 2 big bags of trash and sent some items to Goodwill. Still more stuff to go!

Clean out the desk in my room that I never use: Success! I emptied an entire drawer of junk (including about 12 phone chargers for old phones) and was able to clear a lot of clutter off the top of the desk. I still need to frame a stack of prints sitting there, but I definitely made some progress.


Read 52 books: I've read 15 books so far, and have two more I will hopefully finish this week, so I'm ahead of schedule! 

Currently reading this book! It's full of great advice about recruitment, hiring processes, and onboarding!


Use more vacation days: I did use a few days off, but they weren't for actual time OFF, so I'm not sure they count.

Blog more: I can't really say I blogged more. But there were posts. 

Sort pictures from Alaska and order photo books: Nope, nothing on this yet haha.


How are you doing with accomplishing your 2016 goals? Comment below! 

#GAMEONPGH: It's a FLASH GIVEAWAY!!


Hi everyone! Registration for the Pittsburgh Marathon closes TOMORROW (3/31/2016) but you can still save $10 off any race registration using code HOPKINS2016. 

OR, you can enter below for a chance to win a FREE registration to either the Full or Half Marathon events! This flash giveaway is today (3/30/2016) only so ENTER and share with your friends!! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway



Some fellow Pittsburgh Marathon Bloggers are also hosting giveaways today as well, so check out Chelsea's Blog and Mar's Instagram for more chances to win! 

#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! 

#GameOnPGH: Earn Dick's Sporting Goods rewards with your Fitbit!


This week's "News from the Pittsburgh Marathon" included information about a cool feature that I wanted to pass on to all of you:


The amount of time and gear necessary to train -and train correctly- for a marathon rivals any other sport. It’s more than just shoes. It’s the moisture wicking shorts, shirts, and compression gear. Reflective gear. Winter gear. Wearable tech. Socks. Treadmills and gym memberships. Which says nothing of energy gels and drinks for before, during and after runs. Travel costs to and from events. Entry fees. The time and dedication required to merely complete these events.

DICK’S thinks everyone should be recognized and rewarded for that kind of sacrifice and dedication, not just the winner of the race. That’s why we created MOVE, a feature on the DICK’S Sporting Goods App that lets runners earn Rewards toward the gear they need.  

Here’s how it works:
  1. Download the DICK’S Sporting Goods App and find the MOVE feature.
  2. Sync your FitBit or MapMyRun account to the MOVE feature.
  3. MOVE to score points toward your ScoreCard balance.
  4. Earn Rewards that will help pay for all your gear
It’s that simple. You’ll even get 100 Bonus Points the first time you sync your tracker with MOVE.  

Dick's Sporting Goods is the title sponsor of the Pittsburgh Marathon. It's awesome that you can earn rewards for all those steps and miles you are tracking! 

P.S. There are still a few days left to enter my running belt giveaway

GIVEAWAY! SLS3 Dual Pocket Running Belt

I'm super excited to be hosting my first giveaway here on the blog! 


Photo from SLS3's website - there are different color options

I was contacted by SLS3 a few weeks ago asking if I'd be interested in reviewing their dual pocket running belt. I'm currently looking for belt options for the Pittsburgh Marathon, so I figured this would be a great opportunity to try one out!

What I Love about the Dual Pocket Running Belt

  1. It stays in place and does not ride up and down!
  2. It DOES hold my iPhone 6 (in an Otterbox, no less) and still leaves an entire other pocket for fuel, keys, etc.
  3. It is machine washable.
  4. Even with my phone in one of the pockets, it doesn't bounce. I could barely remember I was even wearing the belt. 


My iPhone 6 has an Otterbox on and it still fits in the belt! 


What I Don't Love
  1. No water bottles (but I bet you could attach bottle holsters easily)
  2. It's pretty hard to get my phone in and out mid-run (I needed to change podcasts, and I like to be able to see my pace/progress occasionally)
  3. No bib clips/holders (this is minor and not a requirement of fuel belts for me)

Overall, it's a great belt. I love that it's machine washable and sweat/water resistant! The belt fit comfortably and stayed in place. It also has a clip closure that is secure and stays on - the last thing you need is some velcro coming lose and your belt flying off your body mid-run! 

THE FUN STUFF

SLS3 wants to give a belt to one of my readers!!! How cool is that? Enter to win!
  

For a limited time, you can purchase your own belt at 57% off! This is an incredible discount. Click here to check out SLS3's Amazon store. They have several other belt options and other running gear as well. 


Disclaimer: I received a free dual pocket running belt from SLS3 in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own. 

January's Goal Progress

Despite traveling for work, obnoxiously cold temperatures, and just overall winter sluggishness, January was a pretty good month in terms of progress towards my goals.

Progress:
Successfully train for and run a marathon: I completed 16.5 out of 20 scheduled training runs, including 3.5 of my 4 long runs. This is a WIN.

Raise $1000 for CCFA: I raised $50 from one donor in January (THANKS, Coach Jeff!), taking my total fundraising for the marathon to $422. 

Run a sub-30 5k

Run a sub-60 10k

Run/walk 1500 miles: 66.41 miles in January. This will increase as marathon training ramps up. 

Clean out my boxes in the basement

Clean out the desk in my room that I never use


Read 52 books: 13% complete - 7 books read in January!

Use more vacation days 

Blog more: I can't really say I blogged more. But there were posts. 

Sort pictures from Alaska and order photo books 


How are you doing with accomplishing your 2016 goals? 


Also, can I get a shoutout for my girl Chelsea for doing 280 BURPEES today?! #BAMF #MoreBurpeesLessCancer

Big News!

I am returning from my completely unscheduled and unplanned blogging hiatus to announce some news: I am officially registered for the 2016 Pittsburgh Marathon! That's 26.2 miles, folks. EEEK! Once again, I will be participating in the Steel Challenge (by also completing the 5k the day before) and once again, I am participating as a charity runner for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America - Western PA/WV chapter. Who wants to be my first donor?!




I'm sure I'll have more to say about the marathon over the next several months, but for now I want to plug something else I'm working on - CCFA Western PA/WV's movie premiere event, Opening Night! It is taking place on November 5 at the AMC Loews at the Waterfront and tickets can be purchased here. Come join us for food, drinks, fun, and a premiere showing of the new James Bond movie, Spectre. I am on the planning committee and we've got a great evening planned! Hope to see many of my friends there that night! 

I ran a Half Marathon!

I ran a half-marathon. I did it! It wasn't a great run, or even a fun one, but crossing that finish line was the best! Sorry this is coming so late, and that there's not much of a recap, but here's some pictures! 

Race day outfit!

Steel Challenge Completed!



First Half = PR and PDR!


My favorite little fans!


Happy to be done!


5K, Steel Challenge, HALF MARATHON medals!

Thanks to the Pittsburgh Marathon for featuring this one on their Facebook page: 


Five Ways to Get Faster (Galloway Tips)

Hey everyone! I know you're all waiting to hear how my half marathon went - I will hopefully have an update soon. But for now, here's some tips from Jeff Galloway about how to increase your running pace!

Longer Long Runs

Increasing the length of the longest long run has produced the greatest amount of improvement that I've seen among my coaching clients.  Several surveys have shown more than 13 minutes of time improvement when runners increase their longest long run from 20 miles to 26 miles before a marathon.  Comparable time improvements are experienced in 10K runners and half marathoners when they increase their long runs above race distance as noted in my YEAR ROUND PLAN book that covers all the distances.  Long runs must be at least 2 min/mi slower than current ability, with liberal walk breaks.  The slower the pace, the quicker the recovery.  I suggest doing the long runs every 2-3 weeks.

Speed Repetitions—increasing the number

My runners have improved by an average of over 6 minutes in a marathon (3+ minutes in a half marathon) by increasing the number of speed repetitions to 14 x 1 mile for the marathon, and 14 x 800 meter for the half marathon.  I recommend that each of these be run 30 sec/mi faster than goal pace.  The recovery interval is a 5 min walk between miles and a 3 minute walk between 800's.  These workouts prepare one to maintain or pick up pace at the end of the goal race, instead of slowing down.  See GALLOWAY TRAINING PROGRAMS & HALF MARATHON books for details (www.RunInjuryFree.com).

Improve Running Form

Most runners I've monitored have improved several minutes in a marathon by fine-tuning their running form.  As the mechanics become smoother and within one's limits, there is a significant reduction in aches, pains and injuries.  The two best ways to improve form are water running and cadence drills.
•        water running uses the same basic motion as when running on land, using a flotation device so that the feet don't touch the bottom of the pool.  When done for at least 15 minutes, once a week, the legs find a more efficient path through the water—eliminating extraneous motion.
•        The cadence drill is done for 30 seconds, counting the number of times the foot touches the ground.  This drill is detailed in most of my books.  I've found the key to improving speed on the mechanical side is quicker turnover.

Race in Shorter Events

Dropping down a standard distance or two can improve your mechanics for running faster and your ability to handle a higher level of oxygen debt.  On non-long-run weekends, during a half marathon program, try some 5K or 10K races.  When training for a marathon, race at the 10K or half marathon distance.  At first, the faster pace of the shorter distance may seem awkward.  But after several short races, you will adapt—especially if you do some speed training for the shorter/faster event.  These performance improvements can translate into faster times in the longer distances.  My book 5K/10K details the training and the racing strategies for these events.

Hill Training

The only way I've found to build strength for running is to run hill repeats.  On a moderate grade hill, start at a jog and pick up the turnover rate of the feet and legs as you go up the hill, shortening your stride.  Walk down the hill for recovery.  Don't sprint, and follow the other hill training guidelines in my books and at www.RunInjuryFree.com.  The strength from hill training will allow you to perform better in speed sessions which will help you improve in your goal race.  You'll also run faster on hilly courses, during your races.
Listen and share this great podcast "Jeff Galloway's Tips For Beginner Runners" with Mark Kennedy from Healthynomics!  From how Jeff got running to breathing while you run; it's all here!

Things I Will Do This Week

The week is finally here. It's Marathon week in Pittsburgh! Here are some things I'll do this week:

1. I will go for a quick run with some of my fellow CCFA runners and get my CCFA race day shirt! Unfortunately, I think they decided to make these shirts orange, so it will probably be a one-time-wear shirt for me. Though it should make it easy for people to spot me on Sunday!



2. I will post a photo of my race day outfit so that people can find me on race day! Let me know in the comments if you will be there this weekend so I can look for you! 


3. I will see my running Ohana. I am so excited for everyone to arrive in town and to spend time with so many people who inspire me in my running (and life) journey.



4. I will attend the Expo and fight like hell to get a green men's shirt instead of the STUPID pink women's shirts. I will also be following up with the Marathon people to see why they thought sexist shirt colors were a good idea in 2015.



5. I will attend a Meet-Up at 7:30am by the main entrance of PNC Park on Saturday. Steff will be giving away some Sparkly Soul headbands!


6. I will run Pittsburgh Marathon 5k, which was my FIRST-ever race last year! (Medal count: 1)
Chelsea and I after the 5k last year - my first race! 

7. I will enjoy carbs and good company at dinner Saturday night.


8. I will run my FIRST HALF MARATHON! (Medal Count: 2)



9. I will collect my Steel Challenge Medal and hopefully visit the FedEx Ground Hospitality Tent for a complimentary massage and some treats! I will have access to this tent thanks to all of my amazing donors who helped me to raise over ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America - Western PA/West Virginia chapter! (Medal Count: 3)




10. I will go out to eat with my family to celebrate my birthday that is next week! 



11. I will do NOTHING for the rest of the day haha. 


See you all this weekend! Good luck to all of my fellow runners! 

P.S. Sarah at Sparkly Runner featured me on her blog today - check it out

The Training Plan That Wasn't...

Remember back in January when I picked out a training plan for my upcoming half marathon? Then the universe said LOL and the next few months did not go according to ANY plan, training or otherwise.

January brought 22 days of travel for work and volunteer obligations, a sinus infection, and bed bugs

February brought more travel and sub-zero temperatures. Without regular access to a treadmill, I was stuck inside.

In March came 18 days of travel, another sinus infection, and a kidney infection that turned to be e.coli (!!). I actually put a lot of miles in, but most were walking while traveling (I averaged 5-8 miles per day while in New Orleans). 

In summary, I haven't had a single week where I got all the runs on my training plan in. Oops. With that said, most weeks haven't been a total fail and I know I can finish 13.1 miles - it's just a matter of being able to finish in the time I want.

April finally brings warmer temperatures, and with it, the HIGH levels of pollen everywhere. April is also the month that some big miles need to happen, come hell or high water. If I can get a few good long runs in, I'll feel much better about May 3. Right now, I'm not sure I'll realistically be able to make my goal :( Right now the plan is to stick with Coach Jeff and Chelsea for the first 12 miles or so and make them keep me on track. 

Soooooooo if we could actually have some decent weather and I could not get sick or have my allergies make my head explode, that would be stellar. KTHXBAI.

What are your best tips and tricks for salvaging a disaster of a training plan? Comment below!

THE GOOD NEWS: Thanks to a very generous donation from my employer, I HAVE NOW SURPASSED MY FUNDRAISING GOAL! This is even better than any running could ever be because every dollar is a step closer to finding a CURE for Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis! Think I can make my stretch goal of $1500 by May 3rd? If you haven't had a chance to donate yet, please do so here! On behalf of the approximately 1.6 million Americans living with IBD, we say THANK YOU! 



Running in New Orleans! (I'm back!)

I had the opportunity to travel to New Orleans last week a few weeks ago to attend the NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education - their alphabet soup doesn't match) Annual Conference. It was my first trip to New Orleans and I can't wait to go back and visit again! New Orleans a beautiful city, full of life and culture and fun things to do and SO MUCH AMAZING FOOD. 

I knew I would have Saturday morning free before the conference kicked off in full swing, so naturally, I looked to see if there were any races happening in New Orleans. This is how I found The Great St. Charles Avenue Road Race sponsored by the New Orleans Track Club. There are 10k, 5k, and 1mile races. I quickly registered for the 10k to try and work it into my "training plan" - the reason I use that in quotes will come in another post soon.



As the conference neared, I realized my friend Matthew (partner to the awesome Sarah over at Sparkly Runner) would also be attending the conference and quickly invited him to join me at the race!

I arrived in New Orleans Friday afternoon and after lunch and a nap (I had to be up at 3:30am for my flight!), I set out to explore the area a little bit and get a few miles in before the race the next morning. I knew the climate would be different than the winter conditions I'd left behind in Pittsburgh, so I was hoping to adjust at least a little bit. Holy heat and humidity! What I had planned to be a 3 mile run ended up being a 1 mile run with a 1 mile walk back. 

Matthew had 18 miles on his training plan for that Saturday, so he opted to run the ~4 miles to the race start and back. I took the streetcar up to the start and met up with Matthew. The high school where the start was at had amazing race support. All the volunteers were helpful and excited and so welcoming. We cheered as the 1-mile race kicked off and hung out until it was time for the 5k and 10k start. The cheerleading squad led the racers in dynamic stretching, the national anthem was performed, and then we were off! 

Matthew and I at the start!

The course started down St. Charles Avenue in the Garden District. There are beautiful homes and gardens through this section of New Orleans. We passed the picturesque campus of Loyola New Orleans and then headed into Audobon Park. The park itself was beautiful as well - full of palm trees and lush greenery. The course looped almost all the way around the park before turning around to head back out and back down St. Charles Avenue. 
Matthew snapped this as we passed in Audobon Park!
Before I arrived in New Orleans, I was planning to try and PR this race. The course was flat and I knew I could do it. However, I knew as soon as I stepped outside at the New Orleans airport that a PR would not be happening. The humidity was just too much - especially without any gradual transition to it. I decided to just have fun and do my best. 

Coming up to the finish line! No PR but definitely FUN!

I used more water in this race than I have ever used in any race before. I say "used" because while I drank a LOT, I also poured a lot over my head to cool off. The high school students volunteering at the water stations were super helpful with refilling my water bottle. They could tell I was struggling in the humidity haha. 

The cheerleading squad were lining the sides of the finish chute cheering everyone on - it was great! Matthew had already finished and was there to cheer me on and snap a few photos as well - thanks, Matthew! 
I met up with Matt and we downed some more water and got some more Smoothie King smoothies - yum! We also experienced a post-race first, jambalaya! The jambalaya was provided by a company called Cook Me Somethin' Mister! We met the owner, Kristen, and she told us how she started the company using her family's recipe and made all the jambalaya that morning herself! It was DELICIOUS! She also told us that she sells packages of the rice online at wholesale on Amazon. If you're looking for a fundraising idea, this is a great one! Check them out on Facebook

Thanks for the great post-race grub, Kristen! It was so great to meet you!
After the race, Matt and I parted ways so he could finish his miles by running back! I grabbed my free post-race beer (Bud Light) and decided to start walking back to see more of the Garden District. I figured if I got tired at some point I could hop on the streetcar, but I ended up walking the 4 miles back to the hotel! Later this week, this would probably come to be a mistake due to all the walking we did in New Orleans. 



30 Days to go!


I can't believe that in only 30 days, I will run my first half marathon! I can't believe it - the time is going by so fast!


To continue with preparations, here are some more tips from Jeff Galloway!

Training and Motivation Tips
by Olympian Jeff Galloway
www.runinjuryfree.com
PROMOTIONAL NEWS!
Register now for the Jeff Galloway 13.1 with no risk!  The 2nd annual half marathon on Dec. 13, 2015 is currently $95. You can sign up with no risk! Take advantage of this low price, and if you can't make it, you can roll into the virtual option with no extra charge!
Register today at

Why do we get injured?

1.  Be aware of irritation of weak links.

The Key Weak Links are body parts where my runners tend to experience injuries are these: Knees - Feet -Calf - Achilles -Hip - Glute/piriformis/sciaticia

But the body parts that YOU need to be aware of are the sites where you are injured or suffer more aches and pains.

So if you're sensitive to the first indication of irritation in these areas and take immediate action it's possible to avoid injury.

2.  Stress buildup due to the way we train.
  • Training schedule is too intense-not enough rest between stress.
  • Adverse Training Components-speed is too fast or has too much, too soon.
  • Running form-too long a stride, forward lean, bouncing too high off the ground.

So staying focused on the way one runs and following these guidelines, can often allow runners to maintain a manageable increase without injury

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Top 5 ways to avoid stress buildup-and avoid injuries

1.  Take walk breaks more frequently, and run shorter run segments
2.  Form: shorter stride, feet low to the ground
3.  Slower long runs, with more walk breaks
4.  Avoid Stretching
5.  Be careful when running speed sessions

  
Jeff Galloway
4651 Roswell Road, I-802
Atlanta, Georgia 30342
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