Friday, February 28, 2014

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Disney's Glass Slipper Challenge Race Recap

Before I get into my recap, I wanted to say "thank you" to everyone who helped make my weekend in Disney possible. I signed up for the Glass Slipper Challenge through a charity (Give Kids The World) and had the goal of raising $3,000 for the charity. Without all the donors and support I received in my six months of fundraising, I would have never met that goal and been able to run last weekend. So, thank you!!

The Glass Slipper Challenge was to run 10K (6.2 miles) Saturday and a half marathon (13.1 miles) Sunday. Having done the Princess Half Marathon last year, I knew these weren't the types of races you did for time. For me, these races were training runs with lots of stops for pictures. Trust me, I stopped a lot along the way during both runs and my watch almost died on me during the half. I don't think I have enjoyed a race as much as I did these two races. I especially loved the medals and knowing that I worked so hard to get them made these medals even more meaningful for me.

The 10K run started and ended in Epcot. The course itself took me out to the highways, into the park, and on the boardwalk. I was in corral A so I was in the first group of runners to start. For people outside of Florida, it was hot and humid, but for me it was perfect running weather. The first three miles of any run are usually my hardest so I wasn't surprised that I felt like I was running on air during the last three miles. The highlight for me was probably seeing Jeff Galloway running along the course. I finished the 10k in about 1:10.

The half marathon also started and ended in Epcot but the course took me out onto the highways, through Magic Kingdom and Cinderella's castle, highways again, and then through Epcot. I was in corral D so I didn't have to wait too long to start running. It was foggy morning and humid again, but the weather was perfect for running for me. I waited in all the lines of the characters the girls' knew and in the lines of the characters that would make for fun stories to tell the girls. I really, really, really enjoyed having this last stress-free run to focus on having fun without all the self-imposed stress of gaining a new personal record. I finished the half in 2:52 and was so thankful my watch didn't die!

Disney races are expensive, but the experience is worth the price. I said it last year and I will say it again, but I think Disney races are great races for first timers because the races are such productions. There is so  much entertainment on the course that the miles don't feel as long. I'll be in Chicago next year, but I am hoping to be able to participate in this challenge again next February.

What I liked:
  • Another running vacation!
  • Loved running through the parks and the castle. 
  • Great characters on the course for pictures. 
  • Plenty of entertainment on course to distract you from thinking about mileage.
  • All the costumes!
  • Fireworks at the start line send-off for half marathoners. 

What I didn't like:
  • The price of the races!
  • Having my race entry tied to my fundraising goal. 
  • Weather was fine for me, but I know others didn't like the heat or humidity. 
  • Again, not an issue for me, but these races are extremely walker-friendly. Not ideal if you are running for time. 
  • Long wait times for the other corrals. 
  • Some of the lines for the characters were too long. 

Next Race Recap is this weekend's Michelob Ultra 13.1. This race might solidify my craziness and I hope to survive back-to-back half marathons!

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

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Review and Giveaway: MASH Up Conditioning

Stacy Redwine and Jamie Zacharias are the ladies behind MASH Up Conditioning, a workout that is 15-minutes long and broken up into a five-minute mind/body set, a five-minute agility and strength set, and a five-minute high intensity interval set. The DVD that I tried was their Tempo DVD and this DVD has seven different 15-minute workouts and comes with an eating guide and  workout calendar for different fitness goals (starter conditioning, fit conditioning, athletic conditioning, and performance conditioning).

Being a mom of two, student, intern, and manager of my household, what I really liked about MASH Up Conditioning was that each routine was 15-minutes long. I love T25 because the workouts are 25-minutes long, but even so, on some days a 25-minute workout is not possible (the biggest culprit is having no motivation). With these 15-minute workouts, I feel I don't have an excuse to not be active. Also, because the workouts are broken into five-minute segments the workouts feel short. Basically, MASH Up Conditioning makes working out accessible to all kinds of schedules.

Another thing that I like is that MASH Up Conditioning includes an awesome strength set. Weight training is something that I want to include more in my workout regiment, but I have always had trouble with figuring out how to include it because I don't know how to work out using weights. These sets make me feel like I will actually be able to have the strong, sculpted arms I have always wanted.    

Lastly, I really liked that the workouts cover all fitness levels and, for each move, you are given multiple options and modifications. Not only do you have three levels (regular, intermediate, and advanced), but you are also given the modifications if you are pregnant. This, in my opinion, really sets MASH UP Conditioning apart from other workout routines because you are given the whole spectrum of movement instead of having to buy specific pregnancy workouts. I remember being pregnant and feeling at a loss over how to workout and not wanting to spend money on pregnancy-geared workouts that wouldn't follow me post-partum or as I got stronger.  

The first time I tried the Tempo DVD my plan was to only do one 15-minute workout. I liked the workout so much that I ended up doing two more workouts and now I find myself feeling more motivated to fit in 15-minute workouts throughout the day. 

I'm spreading the workout cheer by hosting a giveaway for a MASH Up Conditioning DVD. The giveaway is open through March 12th and is open to US residents. To enter you must leave a comment telling me what your fitness goal is for 2014, like MASH Up Conditioning on Facebook, and follow their Twitter page. Winner will be selected using Rafflecopter and will be notified by March 13, 2014. To enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Friday, February 21, 2014

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A Runner's Thank You.

In a few hours I will be waking up to run the Enchanted 10k as part of Disney's Princess weekend. If it weren't for all the people who donated and helped me reach my $3,000 fundraising goal, I wouldn't be here thinking about running through Epcot tomorrow wearing my red with white dots shirt. It's an honor to be running for an organization like Give Kids The World and it's humbling to know that I got here because of the generosity of others. 

If you are out there tomorrow, make sure to say, "Hi!"

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(PS this is my trying to blog from my phone. I'm sorry if the format is funky!)

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Sunshine Burgers Review!

I say it all the time that running has changed my life and it's true. Running has set me on a path that I never thought I would walk. I never thought of myself as athletic until I started running and I never thought it would be possible to feel as confident as I do now. I never thought I would be an ambassador for anything, let alone something fitness-related. Yet, here I am representing Sweat Pink Ambassadors and writing up this review of Sunshine Burgers. Life is one beautiful, unpredictable adventure!

Trying Sunshine Burgers was a first for me in a big way. This was my first time having a veggie burger! I had always been weary of them because when I would  hear "veggie burger" I immediately thought of something that was made only with those vegetables I didn't like. I imagined broccoli and spinach packed into a party and that did not appeal to me. So when I heard about Sunshine Burgers and their line of veggie burgers made with things like quinoa and chia seeds, I signed up as quickly as I could. They sent me six of their burgers and, to date, I've tried six of them. I'm not terribly creative so I don't have any innovative recipes using Sunshine Burgers, but I did come up with meals that convinced me veggie burgers aren't scary and could be a part of my diet.

The first one I tried was the falafel burger. This burger actually tasted like a falafel! I ate it with Two Peas and Their Pod's Greek Quinoa salad and it was delicious.

The next burger I tried was the Loco Chipotle. This is a bigger burger that I ate with a haas avocado and a bit of sour cream. This is the veggie burger that turned my thinking about veggie burgers around. If you know me, you know I love spicy and anything I can add avocados and sour cream to so this burger was made for me. I was in heaven!

The last burger I tried was the one that started things off for Sunshine Burgers: Garden Herb. This burger is made with brown rice, raw ground sunflower kernels, carrots, herbs, and sea salt. Talk about simplicity in ingredients! I ate this burger with quinoa, olive oil, and dash of Parmesan cheese. Because this was the original burger flavor, I was apprehensive about the taste. But, considering the founder of Sunshine Burgers started off making these burgers for her kids, I shouldn't have been surprised the burger would be tasty enough to please picky little eaters. 

Aside from being impressed with the taste, I was also impressed with the ease of eating these. All the patties are cooked and simply need to be reheated. These are perfect foods to eat when you need to put something together quick and you don't want to feel guilty about what you just ate. While I still feel like I need my meaty burgers, I'm glad I was open to trying something that was out of my comfort zone because I discovered something new that I like and that's good for me. These burgers fit right in line with my goal of being my healthiest and fittest self. 

I did not pay for these samples nor was I paid by Sunshine Burgers to write this review. All the opinions are my own.

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(PS this is my trying to blog from my phone. I'm sorry if the format is funky!)


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

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Happy Snacker: No-Bake Granola Protein Bites

I'm a snacker. Actually, I'm a huge snacker. I'm also one of those people who eats when she gets bored so it's really important that I have healthy snacks made and ready to eat. One of my favorite snacks has to be this recipe for No-Bake Granola Protein Bites. I came across the recipe one day when I was searching for recipes that contained oats and chocolate chips. I immediately made the recipe and added a few extra goodies to it to really made it something I could enjoy. The best part is that these healthy snacks are seen as dessert by my girls. If you like peanut butter and chocolate, then you will definitely like this recipe. If you like not feeling guilty about the snack you are eating, then this recipe is definitely for you. 

No-Bake Granola Protein Bites 
Source: Slightly adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Yields about 18 bites

1 cups quick oats
1/2 cup crispy rice cereal (I use Special K)
1 scoop (1/4 cup) vanilla protein powder
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 chia seeds
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, cut into chunks
1/3 cup honey or agave nectar
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 Tablespoons coconut oil

Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl, being careful not to crush the cereal too much. Mix until well-combined. Add a tablespoon or so more of peanut butter if the mixture does not come together well.

Using a cookie scoop or your hands, drop rounded tablespoonful-sized portions onto a parchment or wax paper lined cooking sheet.

Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

Star snacking!

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Friday, February 14, 2014

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Ragnar Relay Miami to Key West Recap

The idea for running Ragnar Relay's Miami to Key West run started almost six months ago. My friend did it last year and loved it so much that she wanted to do it again this year. I was one of the first people to say yes and immediately claimed Runner 2 as my position. This runner had about 18 miles of running spread over three runs and one of those runs included running the 7-mile bridge down in the Keys. Now, if you know me, you know that bridges like this one freak me out. I figured that the best way to to conquer my fear was to tackle it head on by running the bridge. Running, after all, has become something that has helped me push my limits and discover new parts of myself.

The run was last weekend from Friday, February 7th to Saturday, February 8th. Because I was part of Van 1, my Friday started off with a 5:30am wake up call and getting the girls ready to spend the weekend at their grandparents' house. I was picked up by my teammates at 6:45am and we made it to Key Biscayne close to 8:00am. The nerves started setting in on the drive over and we were all afraid of getting lost and going off course. At this point, our first legs were running parts of Miami we knew, but we were still afraid of getting lost.

Runner 1 started at 9:00am with a 5.5 mile run. As soon as he took off, we hopped in the car and went to the first exchange point to wait for him. As soon as I heard them yell out "303" (our team number) my nervousness subsided and I was ready to run. My first run was 4.4 miles through Coconut Grove and Coral Gables. Because I was still afraid of getting lost, I followed the runner who started a few seconds before me very closely. I ran faster than I would have wanted to run, but it was extremely hot out and I knew this would be the only run I had to run fast.

I switched off with the next runner at the next exchange point and, again, we all hopped in the car and headed over to the next exchange location to wait for the next switch of runners. This happened all through Runner 6 when she switched off with the first runner from Van 2, Runner 7. It took us 3.5 hours to cover the first 22.8 miles of the trip to Key West. While Van 2 runners ran, we went to La Carreta for lunch and then drove down to Homestead to wait for our next legs of runs to start.

My second run was supposed to be 4.7 miles but ended up being closer to 5.25 miles. Normally, this isn't a problem, but it was uncomfortable in this situation because it was nighttime and I was running on gravel roads. This run was probably the most humbling run of all of my runs. I was running at night with nothing but the light on my head and the light of the moon and the stars. I was running through a place I never thought I would run through; I had a canal on one side and a ditch and grasslands on the other. I ran without music and felt so connected to myself and my surroundings.

It took my team about 8.5 hours to run the 48.3 miles we had to run that night. By the time we passed off to Van 2, we were all exhausted. It had never felt so good to shower and lay down. I slept hard and woke up surprisingly rested the next day even with only 4 hours of sleep. That sleep was much needed because the last set of runs were going to be the hardest. Those runs, totally 32.5 miles, were all going to be done during the day. Our van started running at 10:00am and I started running the 7-mile bridge (which actually ended up being a 9.5 mile run because I run the roads before and after the actual bridge) at 10:10am. It took me a close to 1:40 to complete the run and, fortunately for me, there was a great sea breeze and wind from the passing cars to offset the heat of the day. I felt bad for the runners after me because I knew they would be running a flat course with little to no breeze. It took my van about 5 hours to finish our legs.

Once my van finished, we headed straight to the best little restaurant and ate everything on the menu. I think this was our celebration dinner. We were so happy to be done and excited to be so close to the finish. Team 303 finished around 7:00pm and we had enough time to take one picture with the whole group. While the Van 2 people went out that night, us Van 1 people stayed in and slept. Again, I was tired!

The weird part of the run, however, was the sense of disconnect. Because we were Van 1 and finished early in the day, it felt weird crossing the finish line at night. At that point, I felt like I hadn't done anything to deserve my medal at the end of the day.

The next day, Sunday, February 9th, we drove home. Of course, we caught a lot of traffic and ended up stopping to kayak and have dinner together.

What I liked:

  • It was a running vacation!
  • The people in my van were freaking awesome. They were so awesome that we were talking about doing more races together. 
  • The 7-mile bridge was an incredible experience. 
  • I loved the Ragnar shirt and medal. 
  • The course was well-marked for the most part. 
  • All the van decorations. 
  • The support from other runners and vans.

What I didn't like:

  • The weaving throughout Miami to get the mileage. There were so many turns and getting stuck at traffic lights that the runs were more stressful than enjoyable. 
  • Most of the runs for Van 1 were without support so our van couldn't stop to help or cheer on the runners. 
  • The heat. 
  • I didn't really feel connected to the runners of Van 2. 
Next Race Recap will be Disney's Enchanted 10K!
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Thursday, February 13, 2014

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Lifetime Miami Half Marathon Recap

Sunday, February 2nd marked the date of seventh half marathon and the anniversary of my first ever half marathon. This half, Lifetime Miami Half Marathon, was the same course of my first so I felt a sense of familiarity. Even so, I was so anxious right before the race. I was a jittery ball of energy that morning and I was just a tad bit nervous about hitting the 7.5 mile point of this race because that's where I mentally stumbled last year. Luckily, there were no stumbles and I can honestly say I enjoyed this race, especially the last three miles.

I went into the race with the mentality that I would run how I felt and not push myself. The first 2.5 miles of the race were very hard for me because I really, really, really had to pee. I couldn't think about anything other than peeing. It was so distracting for me and made it hard for me to really enjoy running along the water at sunrise. After I found the bathroom the race was infinitely better. I was listening to my music and found a great rhythm. I ended up getting my second best time of 2:15 and, once again, found myself thanking my legs for carrying me the distance.
What I liked:

  • The beginning of the course is great and takes you along the water and the cruise ships. 
  • My team had a tent so we were able to enjoy hanging out after the race. 
  • The medal was so cool and rotated along three different points. 
  • Expo was a lot of fun and it was a runner's paradise. I am proud to say that I only left with one pair of compression socks. 
  • Signage was good along the course. 
  • The last three miles are the best with all the people on the streets and the bands playing music. 
  • They handed out energy chews and fruit and had water and gatorade at every water station. 
  • The signs after the halfway point were hilarious. 
  • The race bib was gorgeous and very Miami Vice. 
  • Lots of photographers on the course. 
  • Plenty of water and food for the runners once they finished. 
  • Free beer. 

What I didn't like:

  • There were so many people! I had to skip a few of my intervals just to make it out of the crowd. 
  • There were some parts of the course that were narrow that resulted in a bit of bottlenecking. 
  • It didn't affect me, but some people got stuck at one of the bridges for 20 minutes. 
  • Again, it didn't affect me but they ran out of medals for the half marathoners. 
  • The last quarter mile of the race is the worst because of all the turns that make you feel like you will never reach the end. 
  • The line at the beer garden was long. 

Next race recap will be for Ragnar Relay Miami to Key West!

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

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Fun & Fit: January

Halfway through February. What?! I feel as if this year is going by too fast. I spent most of January focused on fundraising that after the deadline passed, I completely checked out of life. Thankfully I was able to meet my fundraising goal thanks to the Cupcake Camp Miami event and support from my fellow Run GKTW teammates, but I was exhausted from all the effort of raising $3,000. Raising that money has been one of the hardest, most humbling, and amazing things I could have ever done. I will do it again, I just won't do it in a way that ties my participation in a race to raising a certain amount. All in all, I have raised $3,117 for Give Kids The World and will be running with them next weekend!

The only event I participated in January was the Superhero Scramble. This was my first obstacle course race last year and I was really excited about going back because my experience was so positive. This time around, however, my experience wasn't as positive. I did the run with two of my friends, but the race wasn't well organized. I felt like there was too much running and not enough obstacles, I was shocked that the volunteers on the course did not have means to communicate with each other when accidents or injuries arose, couldn't believe they didn't offer more water stations along the 9.5 mile course, and was disappointed there weren't any medals when we finished. I actually felt bad that this was my friends' first experience with obstacle course racing. Thankfully, they were good sports about it and we were able to find things to laugh about. It wasn't the best race, but it was the best company.

Aside from that, I have officially declared myself a yoga fanatic. I love it! I feel it has helped me become a stronger runner and has also shown me that my body is so much more capable than the limits my mind sets on my body.

Moving forward, I think I am going to change things up here on the blog. I am still trying to find the right structure that will help me in posting more often, but I think I am going to start posting race recaps right after they happen instead of at the end of the month. I love my blog and all the races I do and I want to be better at sharing with all of you. I've already participated in two races this month, so expect two more posts this week!

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