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!

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

My Marathon Training Plan!


Today's post is dedicated to marathon training - my plan, my gear, etc. 

In the fall, I followed Hal Hidgon's Half Marathon Training Plan to train for the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon, which was my goal race for the fall. While I ended up not being able to race that day due to injury, I NAILED training with that cycle. Part of it was the weather, part of it was my light travel schedule, but most of it was just things finally coming together for me. It was pretty upsetting and disappointing to not get to see all of my hard work pay off with a new half marathon PR at Buffalo Creek (or ANY race time that day), but I still came away from that training cycle with new 5k and 10k PRs. 

For the Pittsburgh Marathon, I'm sticking with Hal Higdon as I like that he gives set mileage to run each week. I also use the Gymboss timer app on my phone so I can use the Run-Walk-Run method. I use MapMyRun to log all of my training runs (and walks). 

So far, training has been going...ok. Coming back from an injury sucks. Coming back from an injury when you have activity-induced asthma and your lungs forget how to work while running sucks even more. But I'm slowly getting back into the swing of things and hoping I can keep up with the weekly mileage as it continues to increase (and as I get back out on the road for work). 

I've had my first sub-20 degree run of the season and my face hurt just as much as I thought it would. I've got a fleece neck gaiter that is awesome, but I feel like I'm suffocating when I put it over my mouth and nose, so I may need to look into a different face mask/gaiter (comment below if you've got suggestions!). 

A few months ago, I won a pair of Mizuno Wave Inspire 12s in a Twitter contest sponsored by Fitfluential. I have been running in Mizuno Wave Inspire 10s for a little over a year now, so I was excited to try out the latest model. As it turns out, I like the 12s so much I've all but stopped running in my last pair of 10s. I'll be using my Elite Runners and Walkers Marathon Training Group discount to purchase another pair of 12s in the near future so I can rotate shoes. I LOVE that MapMyRun has a Gear Tracker that tracks how many miles I've put on each pair of shoes. 

Do you have tips/suggestions? Do you have a favorite training plan? Comment below!

Want to join me at the Pittsburgh Marathon? Or Half Marathon? Or 5k? Use code HOPKINS2016 for $10 off your registration! You can also use that code for 15% off in the P3R Gear Store

2015 in Review

2015 was a pretty good year. 


1. I ran my first half marathon! (And then ran 2 more as well)




2. I went to Alaska
Riding ATVs on the beach on Kodiak!

Whale watching in the Kenai Fjords and the Gulf of Alaska

The gate of Denali National Park

3. I visited 5 states for the first time (taking my total to 40!)


Beignets at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans

Japanese Gardens in Portland, OR

Tulips at Pike Place Market in Seattle

4. I got a promotion at work.
5. I presented at a professional conference for the first time.




6. I was selected as a Pittsburgh Marathon Blogger



7. I taught myself how to make grits (and they turned out amazing!)


Cheddar jalapeno grits with poached eggs

8. I read a ton of great books, my favorite being Otherhood by Melanie Notkin




9. I was on TV to promote a CCFA event.

10. Also, I raised over $1000 for CCFA!

With some fellow committee members at CCFA's Opening Night event


Check back tomorrow for my 2016 goals and plans! Happy New Year!

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: 


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

__________________________________________________

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
WEST COAST EVENTS
RUN/WALK/RUN CLINICS 

Carmel, CA                                                                     Lake Tahoe, CA
"Re-Charging Your Running, Fitness and Nutrition"       The Perfect Summer Running Camp
April 23-24, 2015                                                            July 23 - 30, 2015 (week)                           
 Click here for more info.                                                 July 24 - 26, 2015 (weekend)
                                                                                        Click here for more info.
                                                                                                         

P.S. I am still fundraising for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America - Western PA/West Virginia Chapter - please help me reach my goal and work towards a cure for Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis!


50 Days!

In only 50 days, I will run my first half marathon! Yikes!

Today, I'm in Washington, DC to run the Rock n Roll Series 5k! Chelsea, Steff, and Kelsey are running the half, and Mel and I are doing the 5k! After the race, we're going to enjoy a girls weekend in DC and meet up with other runner friends Lauren and Mandy

As you know, part of my preparations for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon includes raising money for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America - Western PA/West Virginia chapter. All of the money I raise will stay within the local chapter, meaning it will have a direct impact on patients like me! 



I recently received a facebook message from a sorority sister telling me a friend of hers has a young daughter, a beautiful fourth grader, had just been diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. The mom and daughter were both feeling overwhelmed and wanted to learn more. The first place I directed them to was the CCFA website. It has so many awesome resources to read and learn more about Crohn's Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, and IBD. It also directs you to regional chapter pages, where you can learn more about in-person seminars and workshops that may be happening in your area, as well as support groups. I actually attended a support group in Erie for a little while after my diagnosis - it was a great way for me to learn from others who had experienced the same things as me. One of the coolest things CCFA does for kids is Camp Oasis - a camp just for kids affected by IBD! 

There is no cure for Crohn's Disease...yet. I am confident a cure could happen in my lifetime, and you can help make that possible! Please donate to my fundraiser and help CCFA find better treatment options and a CURE! 


To honor the 50-day countdown, anyone who donates $50 or more will receive a personalized thank you card (in the mail! snail mail!) from me - it may even include an additional surprise!! 



More Tips From Jeff Galloway!

As you'll recall, I am blogging for Jeff Galloway Productions throughout this training season. I received another set of tips from him and I am excited to share them with all of you! 


The training journey for a marathon or half marathon raises your body's physical performance capability and your sense of what you can do in life.

Running helps to bring body, mind and spirit together in a unique and wonderful way

In researching my book MENTAL TRAINING I discovered that running turns on brain circuits for a better attitude more vitality and empowerment better than other activities studied.

In researching my book RUNNING UNTIL YOU'RE 100 I found numerous studies showing that runners have healthier orthopedic units than non runners even after decades of running.


On Training:

When a runner takes walk breaks early and often enough for the individual the muscles are strong to the end.  See RUN WALK RUN at www.jeffgalloway.com for recommendations by pace per mile. (Note from Lauren: The Magic Mile calculator is very helpful!!)



The "exhaustion wall" can be avoided by running longer long runs up to or beyond race distance-using the appropriate run-walk-run strategy.

Marathoners tend to improve time by an average of more than 15 minutes when they increase their longest run from 20 miles to 26 miles.

To recover fast, run the long runs at least 2 min/mi slower than you could currently run in a marathon

The right run-walk-run strategy from the beginning of each run, gives any runner control over fatigue, injury-elimination, and recovery.

In numerous surveys, runners improved over 13 minutes when they shifted from running continuously to use of the right run-walk-run strategy.


LAST CHANCE to participate in the Inaugural JG Virtual 13.1 Half Marathon and 5k!  
Last chance to become a "Legacy" participant!  
Closes March 1, 2015.
    ** Register at https://jeffgalloway131.com/registration/ **

75 Days!

The UPMC Health Plan Pittsburgh Half Marathon is 75 days away!!! 

At the RSG1 Valentine's Day 10k - Thanks to Coach Jeff for this photo and all your encouragement! 





Can I count on your donation of $13.10 or more as I train to run 13.1 miles? Every dollar counts towards finding a cure! 

Donate HERE


Preparing For a COLD Outdoor Race

Chelsea, Steff, Kelsey, Mike and I are all registered for the RSG1 Valentine's Day Race at North Park tomorrow. We've been chatting on twitter all week about the weather forecast and how we're going keep warm!! 


Saturday's Forecast - look at that wind forecast!
This may be the coldest/windiest weather I've ever run or raced in. I've been contemplating my options for clothing all week and testing out different layering combos on my runs this week. I want to make sure I'm warm enough, but not too warm. I also don't want to lose any fingers or toes to frostbite. 

Sparkpeople.com, an awesome health and wellness website, has a Winter Workout Layering Guide that I've found to be pretty helpful. 




This will be my first race since November 15 (eek!) so I'm excited to get back out there. I'm also looking forward to brunch afterwards haha! 


What's the coldest temperature you've ever run in? Do you have any tips/tricks for staying warm, but not too warm? Comment blow! 




P.S. Chelsea over at Pittsburgh City Girl is giving away a FREE pair of ProCompression socks - enter today!!! 

A (sort of) Book Review: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running


I received this book, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, by Haruki Murakami as a Christmas gift (thank you, Amazon Wish Lists - you rock!) and took it on my recent work trip (you know, the one with the bed bugs). 

This was a quick read and I really enjoyed the book. I recommend it for runners, writers, and anyone who wants to learn about the creative process and where different people draw inspiration from. 

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book (you can see all the post-its flagging them in the picture above):

On running through the pain -
"Here it is: Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Say you're running and you start to think, Man this hurts, I can't take it anymore. The hurt part is an unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand anymore is up to the runner himself. This pretty much sums up the most important aspect of marathon running."
For new runners - 
"When I first started running, I couldn't run long distances. I could only run for about twenty minutes, or thirty. That much left me panting, my heart pounding, my legs shaky. It was to be expected, though, since I hadn't really exercised for a long time. At first, I was also a little embarrassed to have people in the neighborhood see me running - the same feeling I had upon first seeing the title novelist put in parentheses after my name. But as I continued to run, my body stared to accept the the fact that it was running, and I could gradually increase the distance. I was starting to acquire a runner's form, my breathing became more regular, and my pulse settled down. The main thing was not the speed or distance so much as running every day, without taking a break."
On running the original marathon route in Greece - 
"I can't imagine how this was where, several thousand years ago, the Greeks defeated the invading Persian army at the shore in a ghastly battle. I sit at a cafe in the village and gulp down cold Amstel beer. It tastes fantastic, but not nearly as great as the beer I'd been imagining as I ran. Nothing in the real world is as beautiful as the illusions of a person about to lose consciousness."
On pushing your limits - 
"Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that's the essence of running, and a metaphor for life - and for me, for writing as well. I believe many runners would agree."
On adopting a mantra - 
"Ultimately, using every trick in the book, I managed to grit my teeth and make through thirteen miles of sheer torment. 
I'm not a human. I'm a piece of machinery. I don't need to feel a thing. Just forge on ahead. 
That's what I told myself. That's about all I thought about, and that's what got me through. If I were a living person of blood and flesh I would have collapsed from the pain. There definitely was a being called me right there. And accompanying that is a consciousness that is the self. But at that point, I had to force myself to think that those were convenient forms and nothing more. It's a strange way of thinking and definitely a very strange feeling - consciousness trying to deny consciousness. You have to force yourself into an inorganic place. Instinctively I realized that this was the only way to survive."
 The final dedication of the book - 
"Finally, I dedicate this book to all the runners I've encountered on the road - those I've passed, and those who've passed me. Without all of you, I never would have kept on running."

What is the title of a great book you've read recently? Comment below! 

Jeff Galloway!

I am thrilled to announce that I have been selected as a Galloway Blogger! This is my first blogging program and I am excited to share exclusive content with all of you.

Jeff Galloway


For those of you who don't know, Jeff Galloway is a runner, coach, author, Olympian and the CEO of Galloway Productions. Jeff is probably best known for his Run Walk Run training method and his partnership with runDisney

I used Jeff's 10k training plan when training for my first 10k, The Great Race in Pittsburgh in September 2014. At that point, I had not completed a race longer than a 5k and was looking for a little more structure in my training plan. I like that Jeff's training plans do not include more than 3-4 days of running per week. 

Here are some tips from Coach Jeff Galloway himself:
  1. When paced correctly, running delivers the best attitude boost you can get. Sustain this by pacing yourself gently during the first mile or three. 

    This is something I need to work on - I still start out too fast, especially in races!
  2. A well-paced run enhances vitality for the rest of the day. Start each run at least 30 seconds per mile slower than you will run in the end. 

    Again, I need to work on negative splits!
  3. If you have a Run Walk Run strategy that is right for you on that day, it's possible to feel good after every run - even the marathon.

    Keep this in mind, Chelsea!
  4. Running is the best stress reliever I've found. Research shows that running tends to activate the conscious brain which over-rides the emotional subconscious brain and manages the negative and anxiety hormones during and after the run.
  5. Research shows that as runners get faster, their stride length shortens. A quicker cadence is the mechanical key to faster running.
  6. The finishing of a run that is longer than you've run in the last 3 weeks can bestow a sense of achievement that is unique and empowering due to positive brain circuits that are turned on.

    This is definitely true! I ran 5 miles yesterday - the longest distance
     I've run since November 16 and I am filling good about officially starting my half marathon training now!
  7. You can't run a long run too slowly or take too many walk breaks. You'll get the same endurance based upon the distance covered. 

    This is something I really need to work on and "Trust the Coach" on. I know the pace I want to run during my first half marathon, so I feel like I should be running closer to that pace all the time - not true! 

Hope you liked this first set of tips from Coach Jeff Galloway! I am excited to share more with from him, and from me too! 

Fitness Challenges

My half-marathon training plan doesn't begin until February 9, so I'm spending the month of January and first part of February working on building my mileage back up (due to not running for most of the month of December due to shin splints) as well as working on incorporating cross-training and other exercises that will make me a better runner. In December, I made the decision to do a couple of 30 day fitness challenges in January. After researching several, I decided on a Squat Circuit Challenge and a Plank Challenge. A few weeks after I had made this commitment to myself, my dear friend Jenn put a call out on her facebook page announcing she was doing a 30 Day Ab Challenge and looking for friends to participate as well. I liked the idea of completing the challenge with friends, so I agreed! I debated replacing one of my other challenges with this, but decided to really push myself and do all three. I downloaded the 30 Day Fitness Challenges app to my phone and that has been really helpful for a couple of reasons - it makes it easy to keep track of my progress, I can't readily see the next day's workout (and subsequently freak out about it), and there's a built-in timer for planks! 

I am 11 days into all three challenges and so far the rest days are my favorites haha. I missed Day 10 due to work schedule, so I did Days 10 and 11 yesterday and that was rough. Today is a rest day for squats and abs, but I think I'm going to save my rest day for a day this weekend when I will again be gone for work.

Has anyone else ever done a 30 day challenge? Which one did you do and what was your experience like? Comment below! 

Last week, Steff, Kelsey, and I had the opportunity to attend a VIP event at Dick's Sporting Goods in Robinson as part of their partnership with the Pittsburgh Marathon. Brand Specialists were on hand, food was provided, and we all got a coupon for 20% off our purchase that night! I had been needing to add another pair of shoes into my rotation, and figured having a shoe expert like Steff on hand was an excellent opportunity to try some out! She and Kelsey made several awesome suggestions and I settled on a new pair of Mizuno Wave Inspire 10s (and for a great price!). I've only had one run in them but so far they are great!!

Steff and I were interviewed for the Pittsburgh Marathon's promos!