Happy NYC Open Lottery Day!

I should be celebrating something fierce. You have heard me ramble for weeks and months about “I’m going to NYC….blah blah blah.” But, the story has changed a bit. Read on.

When I crossed the finish line at the Myrtle Beach half marathon last March in a surprising 1:40:13 (over a three minute PR), I wondered: could I ever break 1:40? It wasn’t long before I realized “I think I can go faster” and challenged myself to work towards improving that time. I wanted a goal, something bold, almost unreachable (as my mind could see), but a time that meant something. Why is it, as runners, we love to find time goals that seem out of our reach? I know for me, that’s is what drives my determination and motivation day in and day out for training. And to a certain degree, it can be healthy. What’s that saying…”if it doesn’t scare you, your dream isn’t big enough?”

At some point, I stumbled upon the qualifying times for the New York City Marathon and realized they would take qualifying times for a half marathon. For me, this would mean a sub1:34 (7:10 pace). That meant I needed to shave off over 6 minutes in order to qualify for the NYC marathon- there ya have it. By March 2019, I would break 1:34. (Holy cow-did I just say that?!)

{All this time, I definitely thought a qualifying time would guarantee entry into the race, not aware that they only accepted qualifying times on NYRR races.🙄}

With that goal in mind, I got a new coach and started training more intensely with a group of local runners, and kept running all the races. Little by little, I was running faster and faster. By the beginning of October, I was excitedly anxious: was it possible to meet this goal sooner than March? Was it even an idea that I just might get close to that goal in six weeks? I kept showing up, putting in the work, and looking toward the Charlotte Half Marathon on November 3 as an opportunity to see where I was.

At the end of October, I ran a local half marathon-I didn’t race it, I just ran at 80% with my current fitness and there, I ran a 1:35:45. It was after that race, with two weeks left to go, that I knew I was more capable than ever to reach my goal. I WOULD run a sub1:34 on November 3 And qualify for NYC.

On November 3, I raced my best and crossed the finish line at 1:32:59 (one entire minute to spare)! The joy crossing that line was more than just “I ran faster” but I actually verbalized my joy and said “I did it! I qualified, and I’m going to New York!”

I’m so thankful for the running highs I got from that day. They carried me through the rest of the following two months without a coach, recovering from being sick for 4+ weeks, along with a back injury. I ended up running more in that “off” season then I had an any given time before. I recovered an even deeper love of the sport. I ran with all of my friends.

Friends training for races,

friends running just because they knew I loved it

Out of town friends who came in to visit and snagged me for a few miles.

College runners who shared wisdom of training and workouts to get faster

Teammates, Friends, and all types of runners. They made the off-season worth far more joy than I could’ve ever imagined.

And at the turn of the year, I began thinking about what it would look like to run New York. I started planning our trip, getting ideas on lodging, looking at plane tickets, and setting every reminder and alarm I possibly could for January 14, today, the day registration would open.

But something I failed to recognize, was the fact that my qualifying time really meant nothing other than I ran a half marathon in 1:32:59. In order to have a guaranteed entry, your time must be on a NYRR race. My qualifying time only meant numbers on the clock and not a guaranteed entry spot to run this famed marathon. So I’m thrown into the same lottery that everybody and their brother joins.

With that uncertainty in mind, and the looming costs of the whole experience, my anxiety started to rise. How would we pay for it? What else could I do with $300 other than register for a marathon? Not to mention two plane tickets and 4 nights stay for two. We’ve got to pay for a beach house for summer vacation (something we’ve never ever budgeted for). The girls and their swimming….me not working over the summer….our 20 yr old HVAC that is living it’s best life to the very end….how could we do it?! All. Of. The. Worry.

Frankly, we really just don’t have the expendable income to do such a trip. That’s just a simple reality. But ultimately, I took a step back and realized the anxieties that were building were a slight nudge, a conviction to reevaluate the need for such an experience. I had cold feet about registering and wasn’t sure if I should commit to it. And the more I began to pray through this, God was teaching me how I could be a better steward of our family’s resources. And me spending $2500+ on a trip to run a marathon just wasn’t the wisest thing to do.

In our marriage, Jeremy and I have witnessed God’s substantial provisions in our life: financially, physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. We have never lacked, in our coming nor our going, but we have always been charged to care and nurture what God gives us, that He may be glorified in all things. And this decision has been guided with all of that in mind.

My ultimate goal in training last fall was to “qualify for NYC”….never was it “to run NYC” so I didn’t fail myself on that. I met my goal. And maybe one day later on, I’ll run in NYC. But it won’t be this year. Not this time. And we (I say we because J was just as much a part of this as me!) are totally at peace with nixing those plans and staying back this time.

I’ve turned all of my alarms off for the day, shed a few tears (because, yes, I’m still a little weepy about it), and wondered what training looks like now since I won’t be preparing for a marathon over the next year. I’m thinking 2019 will just be a sequel to 2018’s #runalltheraces Why not, right?

So if you’re registering today for NYC, I’m thrilled for you! It is certainly the chance of a lifetime! I hope you get in, get the best hotel, figure out the transportation, and run through Central Park with me on your mind. Know that my heart would love to join in on the 26.2 miles with you, but for now, you’ll just have to experience enough for the both of us!

In hope, always be joyful.

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#alltheraces since August

Oh gosh.  Where did the rest of 2018 go? I was doing so well with keeping up with #runalltheraces but then something happened.  Life.

I started a new job that I was meticulously and frantically prepping for all of August.  I also got a new coach and transitioned my training from ending 5K gears to half marathon gears.  My girls started swim team and now our second home is the aquatic center. And I have a few private students. And now, there are only 22 days left of the year!

So, what races did I actually run? Here’s the skinny on the last half of 2018 racing.

Yiasou Greekfest 5K – 5th female overall, 2nd AG, 20:14

SouthEnd Shuffle 5K – 1st female overall, 20:34

Race 13.1 8K – 3rd female overall,  34:26

Novant 15K – 3rd female overall, 1:06:27

Hit the Brixx 10K – 4th female overall, 43:19

Rocktoberfest half marathon – 4th female overall, 1st AG, 1:35:42

Great Pumpkin 5k – 2nd female overall, 21:04

Charlotte Marathon half – 7th female overall, 2nd AG, 1:32:59 *NYC qualifying time

Mayberry 5K – 3rd female overall, 20:51

South Park Turkey Trot 8K – 15th female, 6th AG 33:59

So, in short: 7 PRs in 10 races, 5 overall podiums, and 4 AG awards.  So thankful for Charlotte Running Company, Celanese Chiropractic Health and Performance, Scott Dvorak, RunCltRun, and NoDa Brewing for letting me hop into these races all for the fun!

Only one more race for the year, and while I’d hope to go out with a bang and a new 8K pr, the last four weeks have been far from ideal in training.  After the half in November, I got a silly cold….that transformed into a 3 week battle with bronchitis, and a few chilly days.  So basically, training was minimal and just to maintain, with only one speed workout and one race. So who knows what will come on Saturday!  Definitely a PR in fun is in sight!

Decked out in Brooks

All I want for Christmas is….everything Brooks!  Let’s face it, you don’t know me well enough if you don’t know that I’m the biggest Brooks fan on the planet.  From ALL the shoes, to sports bras, chaser shorts, and beanies….if asked to pick my favorite, I’m most certain I couldn’t give you JUST ONE item at the top of my list.  I’ve always been a big fan of the shoes that Brooks offers, but in the last 15 months, they’ve really stepped up their product line to include a more diverse range of options and colors that would appeal to anyone.

As we ended the summer and I was moving away from running in shorts and sports bras, I needed a few more options that would keep me warm, allow me freedom to keep moving quickly, and something fashionable (yes I know we like function over fashion, but I’m kind of a “both/and” kind of gal).  I was so thankful when Brooks offered me a complete running outfit to try this fall and winter – and needless to say, I’ve been head over Glycerins about it since!

From the Bottom to the Top

I was ready to rock and roll for my run group run at 4:45 am when I pulled these out of the closet.  The temperature was in the low 40s (which for me means no shorts, but pants make me hot!) and it was so dark – I needed some reflective measures on my body as I ran through the streets with friends. So this is what I wore:

Shoes: Glycerin 16

The black reflective is most recent release (Oct 2018) of Glycerin16 shoe.  The Glycerin is my GO-TO model shoe for anything from 1-18 miles and with its flexibility, I can wear it on speed days, long run days, and race day.

This sleek black color is cool, but I especially love the reflective colorway, given that 80% of my running is done on dark streets hours before the sun rises.  Once light hits the shoe at any angle, bright reflective colors are seen in return.  With my quick moving feet, folks are bound to see that flashing light bouncing towards them.

Capris: Greenlight Capri

I’m generally a shorts wearing runner until it dips into the mid30s, but even then, the thought of full length pants sort of makes me shudder.  I’ve found a happy compromise with the capri length, but I do like them to have a few things: 1. a higher waist (told hold my tummy down), 2. pocketS for my keys, gels, and chapstick, and 3. fit me rather snug instead of sagging off.  I love the Greenlight capris for exactly those reasons!

Shirt:Array Longsleeve

My friend (and well-known guru) wore this shirt in navy at a specialty store event in the late summer and I fell in LOVE.  The light DriLayer® fabric, reflective logo on the shoulder, and the color options were dreamy but what I loved most about the shirt was the business in the front/party in the back design.

The open back allows for a few things: breathablility, functional flow, and again, fashion.   Living in the south, it can be cold…but the sun is out so eventually you get a little toasty.  You need a long sleeve shirt, but still need some air flow.  Hello perfect Array Shirt.  When I’m running speed intervals around the track, I need my clothes to go with me to improve performance and flow with function, not slow me down.  Hello Array Shirt.

By now I’ve got a fabulous collection of fun and fancy sports bras, and sometimes it’s fun to show them off to friends.  With the open back, I’m able to show off the fabulous underlying sports bra all while keeping the air flowing while I’m working out.  Hello Array Shirt.  So basically it takes function and fashion to a whole new level.  And that’s why I’ll take all three colors (burgundy/purple as shown, navy, and light pink)

Bra: Hot Shot

What’s underneath my Array Shirt? Always a Brooks bra!  I’ve got three in my favorite rotation: the Fast Forward Crossback bra (that I rock on all of the summer runs), the Fine Form bra (which is a versatile-strap, medium impact bra – actually perfect for those athleisure days!) and this Hot Shot bra (low impact).  I love the cross straps in the back and it’s padded up front.  Although advertised as a low-impact bra, I’ve run some of my quickest miles and felt extremely secure in the Hot Shot bra.

So what’s your favorite? Do you prefer fashion over function? Have you ever considered you could be a “both/and” too?

Check out the latest at Brooks Running and when you spend $120, you’ll receive this holly jolly run happy shirt free w/purchase (while supplies last).

Happy Running and Merry Christmas!

It’s getting real.

The end of summer.  The start of school.  A new season of swim team for the Ghent girls. Possibilities of returning to Honduras. the start of fall racing season. It’s all more now “real” than it is “we’ll talk about it when it gets closer.”  It’s time to switch gears.

But to be honest, the gears shifted about a month ago.   And while I haven’t shared much about it up until now, I thought it was worthwhile to do so now, so that I can remember where I started.

In May 2016, I started training for a triathlon after taking the previous 6.5 years off from consistent exercise.  Then, I started running more and fell in love with early mornings, runs with friends, and signing up for races at the last minute.

Since January 2017, I’ve been under the coaching of Amanda at PaceRight Coaching.  It’s basically a virtual training opportunity, since she lives in MN and I’m in SC.  She took me under her wing as I was beginning to get back into the love of running and I set my eyes on a half marathon PR (previous was 1:56).  She coached me through that cycle (finishing with a 1:43:08 in May 2017), and then on to numerous other PRS from the 5K and even up through my marathon cycle last fall.  She wrote every run plan, every strength workout, and was ALWAYS encouraging and motivating.  She was an absolute blessing each and every day and celebrated all of the victories along the way.  Her coaching was something I never realized I needed, but was so grateful for it.  And because of her, and my success with her, many other local friends have become her athletes and follow her training.  It’s been really cool to see her coaching take off so well! If you’re looking for someone to help with training plans from 0-26.2 miles, she’s definitely your gal!

But, as I’ve begun to mingle with some folks in our “big city just north” I’ve found there are a lot of connections and opportunities right at my fingertips.  People, in person. Group runs, locally.  Feedback, immediately.

Once I started to realize the possible potential with more localized training, I became eager to see what would come of it, but anxious to leave what was working so well (why fix it if it isn’t broken?). I debated for weeks on what to do, while at the same time was following Amanda’s plan and trying to figure out the best local opportunity for me.

One night at dinner, we ran into one of the folks who organizes a few group runs in Charlotte, and I think he basically told my husband “so, I want to coach her. I think I can help her keep moving forward faster.” So I took a chance.  I took a chance leaving what I had known for 18 months, all of the progression, all of the hard work on her part and the effort on mine, all of the encouragement, motivation and inspiration she gave.  And I made a change.  Now, I’m coached by Mark and team up with a few other athletes in his BodyFlight group.

The transition was something I had to loosen up for. I had to learn to put my trust in a plan from someone new who just barely knew me, how I run, or how I think.  I had to learn to put forth the effort when something ridiculous was planned for me, because I had I only had to trust him.  I had to learn to listen to affirmation from others who believed I could do “just a little bit more.”

So how has it been?

HOLY. COW. I basically say that after most of the workouts.  I’ve increased my mileage, started running more with the coach and other athletes in the big city, and by some miraculous account, I’ve picked up some speed SUPER fast. Instead of doing 1-3 MINUTE tempo intervals, I started with miles, on miles, and this wekk, completed a 6 mile tempo at my previous 5K race pace.  HOLY COW.  It basically all started because someone believed I could do it, so they made me put the effort in, and I did it.  And at the end of it, they are face to face, ready to high five and cheer on to the next workout.   And I am beside myself.

So what does this mean for the fall and race goals?

I’ve said all along that in 2018, I was going to break 22minutes in the 5K. Well, that happened 3 times already in the Spring and early summer, with a current PR of 21:24.   So, I moved to the next goal, a sub21.  My first chance to do this is next Saturday (8/25), then again 10/20.   But it turns out, after all of this recent summer speed training, here’s what my coach just told me:

“With your best effort and state of mind, you have about a 77% chance of breaking 20:00 next Saturday.  If you don’t do it on that day, you will in the next 45 days.  Most likely in a workout…..I don’t say things I don’t think.”

GULP. sub20?! But how.  I guess I’ll just show up on the line, and run. (he also said that).

As for the rest of the fall, I’ll finish out the race series in the big city with a 10K on 9/15, a 15K on 9/30, and a half marathon on 10/20.  While this isn’t my goal half, it will be a good test to see where I am as I move forward into winter training and shoot for that NYC qualification (sub1:34) in March 2019.  Outside of that, I haven’t made many other race plans, though I’m sure a few will pop up around the holidays.  I’m super interested to see how the continued training with Coach Mark allows me to gain more confidence to push harder and still have the passion for it all. Because really, that’s the whole point.  When it becomes a burden and unenjoyable, I quit.  Thankfully, I’m DEFINITELY nowhere near that now!

Here’s to fall PRS, lots of miles, running with friends in the Queen City, and hopefully a few 45* weather days real soon!

Juice – the best summer treat.

This summer I’ve jumped into a craze – juicing! We’ve got a few places locally, and up in the big city that cater to the population, so I started the summer by treating myself to a juice (or 2) every week.  It started hurting my heart (and especially my wallet) having to pay for those juices though.  Anywhere from $6-9 was going far beyond my budget.  But I found myself craving the flavors and the post-vibes and I had to do something about it.

But why? Why be so obsessed with the juice?

Well, for lots of reasons.

  1. Juices can help you consume more fruits and veggies more efficiently. I try to go for 4-5 servings/juice in mine.
  2. You can consume a wider range of veggies – since one is going to overpower the taste of another.  Then, you’re getting a wider range of nutrients.
  3. You give your gut a make over and power treat.  Clean out the bad, load up the good.  You can reset your digestive system (and empty your histamine bucket) by consuming juices on the regular.
  4. It can lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
  5. And of course, by improving oxygen and blood circulation, you can produce a better athletic performance. So duh!

So what’s my juice?

I found my go-to juice at the bars: some version of sweet/ginger greens.  You can find something like that at just about any juice place.  For the most part, they contain some mix of apple, cucumber, spinach, ginger, lemon, with occasional mint.  When I found the juice I loved, I started paying attention to how they made it – and set out to make my own.

Side note: I don’t have any fancy hard pressed juicer.  I just use my $15 Oster smoothie blender that’s at least 3-4 yrs old.  And my juice is FINE.  But if you want something that’s got a little less texture in it, by all means, go buy you something ridiculously expensive (then you don’t really end up saving any $$ after all).

I decided I liked the apple, cucumber, and lemon/ginger flavors….but I wanted something else.  So I choose kiwi and kale over spinach (bc of the high histamines, spinach is likely to give me a migraine).  And my base is coconut water (hello hydration!).  It has a super fresh, sweet taste with a punch at the end (from the lemon and ginger).

The actual “recipe” is how you feel, but this is what goes in mine, in order, then I blend it:

  • 1 pink lady apple cored, but not peeled cut in chunks
  • 1 kiwi peeled and chunked
  • 1 large lemon slice (with or without rind)
  • 1 mini cucumber peeled and cut in quarters
  • large handful of kale
  • freshly grated ginger
  • 1 cup+ coconut water
  • add a few pieces of ice to chill

If you give this a shot, don’t be afraid to go a little wild and add some other fruits/veggies like parsley, pineapple, celery, carrots, beets or anything. Also, remember….it’s a JUICE packed with fruits and veggies. It’s not necessarily supposed to replace your strawberry milkshake flavor…but it definitely get you over that midday hump!

Let me know when you give it a try and what you put in yours! Enjoy!

One Foot in Front of the Other

In January, after being plagued by a right IT Band issue prior and during the Savannah marathon (Sept-Nov 2017), I was beginning to experience the same difficulties on my LEFT side! ARGH – could it be?! Bilateral ITBS.  I was less than thrilled to know that I’d be undergoing another series of weeks strengthening for my upcoming marathon that March.

One day I ran across Michael Crouch’s profile on Instagram.  He’s a coach with McKirdy Trained and is a crazy skilled runner, and also has a few pretty talented athletes under his umbrella.  And, hello, his wife Sara is also ridiculously speedy, too!  I forget what exactly spurred it on, but somehow we ended up connecting one snowy SC afternoon and had a quick conversation about injury, upcoming races, goals, etc.  And while at the time I was somewhat in the middle of a training cycle, we decided that moment was the best to take on a different coaching approach, but he did offer one great piece of advice as i continued training.

“Increase your cadence.”  

It really was simple in words, but I was clueless.  Why, how, when, and all of the other questions started flooding my mind.  I knew it was a number – how many steps per minute you take while on the run.  My Garmin would always record it, and I was camping in the 162-170 range for every run, slow or fast. But why was it so important to increase that number?

Cadence is one of the most common pieces of data used to measure running form and performance.  The shorter your stride length, and the quicker your stride rate, the faster and better you run = maximum performance and lowered injury risk.    A number of studies have suggested that a higher running cadence helps to adjust a runner’s form which can lead to fewer injuries.  The slight increase in stride cadence can lead to a significant reduction of loading on the knee and hip joints, which might help prevent some of the most common running injuries (like my previous IT band problems).  Among the running community, a cadence of 180 and higher is what is suggested as ideal, but that really can depend for each person. But for whatever reason, the higher cadence brings about a smoother gait, a more effective stride, and the ability to control pace.  By increasing your cadence, you’ll reduce impact on your joints and decrease your risk of injury, you’ll boost performance and save energy, and you’ll enjoy gliding on your runs, more than grinding (WeavRun).

So how do you increase your cadence? Or how do you even know where to start?

The old method would suggest you time yourself for a minute and actually count your steps within that minute.  But since we’ve got some technology on our side, you can use a GPS watch (like the Garmin VivoActive3) or a GPS app that helps track that data (like Strava).  The data received after a run will tell you your average cadence over the entire run, but with Garmin data, you can actually track you cadence throughout each mile and moment of the run.  Once you’ve got your baseline, it’s time to get to work – but not too quickly.  You probably don’t want to increase your cadence too quickly.  Shoot for a 3-5% increase over the course of a few runs at a time.

The best resource to increase your cadence?

WeavRun – an app available on Apple (coming to Android soon).  It seriously took all of the guessing out of the game.  The app also stores activity history, and will sync with your Apple Watch or upload to Strava, so it’s perfect for recording all of your information and putting it in the right place, post-run.  This is where it gets fun, too! You can pick your music playlist, adjust the beats, and go for a run.

Once you download and open the app to your smart phone, you can choose where you will complete your activity, and whether you want the app to match your stride (detect your tempo) or you choose your own fixed tempo. If you select “match my stride” you’ll be instructed to begin moving with the music and at that point, the app begins evaluating your natural striding. After that run, you’ll have an average baseline from which to increase.

After those first initial runs to measure your cadence, you’ll know what cadence you need, so select “fixed tempo” for the following runs, and use the dial to increase the spm beat for the music.  This will allow a smooth progression of increase in cadence over the course of 7-10 runs. I also found that by using it on a portion of my runs (say, the last mile of a 5 mile run), or for a track workout (for the speed intervals), kept me from getting bored with the beat/music.  You can even pick from a few different playlists, and you’ll recognize a few of the songs!

By running with this “cadence training” you can create a natural feel of landing your feet toward the center (instead of overextending), taking short and quick steps, and landing lightly.   You’ll settle into your new high cadence and discover that you can run various speeds keeping the same count.  You’ll also find that for the first time, you don’t always seem prone to IT band, hip, or feet injuries.

As with anything, don’t make any drastic changes quickly, as that can work against your favor and encourage injury.   Gradually increase it over time, and enjoy the rewards of faster, injury-free running!

I started cadence training back in February as I was recovering from bilateral ITBS.  You can see my first run on the left above. And over the last 6 months, my cadence reaches 178-185 naturally on any given run.  You can see from my run on the right in July that I’ve been able to cross over 180 on my runs. I’m feeling strong, energized, and powerful in my training.  While I’m not a medical professional, nor a certified run/exercise coach, I can speak and encourage from personal experience.

If you’re weary from evolving from a running injury, I hope you find success in using the WeavRun app to help you increase your cadence.

Brooks Levitate2

Last fall, the new Brooks Levitate caught my eye and captured my feet.  I was forever changed when I got to run in this neutral shoe which offered a huge energy response to every step.  They were perfect for all of the miles – short ones, long ones, and even a few races.

Then, Brooks released some limited edition colors and because I love all things black and pink, I scored another pair of the fabulous cushion and comfort-giving all purpose shoe.  I felt like I was running on clouds, even if they were a smidge heavy bulky for the general liking.  They’ve easily become one of my top two favorite models (I’m a Glycerin lover at heart).

The Levitate is really great for folks like me, who overpronate (foot rolls toward the outside/heel strike) and brings the highest level of cushion and support to the game for all the miles.

But then enters a new season – and say hello to the Levitate 2! What’s the same?  While the Levitate2 may be one of the heavier models (9.9ozW/11.2ozM) with a heel drop of 8mm, they offer the same neutral arch support with the DNA AMP responsive midsole – that gives the best energy return throughout my run (without having to add any extra insole support).  This is truly what makes it one of the best, most comfortable shoes – something for I’m willing to sacrifice a few extra ounces.

But there were a few changes made to the new model, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to give them a go! Besides the fact that the updated colors make it look like there are rockets on my feet (so mentally, I automatically tell myself I’m gonna go faster), the addition of upper and outside sole qualities really set this shoe apart from other similar shoe models.

What’s new?

Starting at the top, the Levitate2 features a new upper that holds your foot firmly, yet comfortably.  It’s like a little bootie that adapts to YOUR foot, rather than the shoe forcing your foot to adapt.  The Fit Knit Upper allows for breathing and freedom in movement, and conforms to your feet while in motion.  The tongue is connected to the upper knit, and finished off with a heel collar that keeps your heel from slipping up.  An additional funky heel tab (that at first look and wear, I was a smidge weary of) completes the upper portion of the shoe. I thought it was going to irritate me a little too much, but thankfully I was pleasantly surprised – in fact, the tab on the heel kept the irritation at a minimum, especially when coupled with the new Balega Enduro V-Tech performance socks.

If you flip the shoe over, you’ll notice an arrow-point outside sole pattern, one that reserves extra energy by allowing a quick and easy moving heel-to-toe movement.  (Any other heel strikers feel me on that one?!)

Since I’m 100% a heel striker, I need all of the energy saving components I can get – so this is perfect!  Who would have thought that the pattern of a sole would give such assistance in moving forward?

These updates really set the Levitate 2 apart from any of the other recent Brooks updates and is a great shoe for someone who needs that extra cushion, support, and energy for all of the miles.  The upgrades are worthwhile and capture the soul of Brooks to RUN HAPPY.

You can find the Levitate 2 and Balega socks at any of the Charlotte Running Company Stores – tell them I sent you and give them a high five from me!

Next up, I’ll share my thoughts on the latest Glycerin16 – my go to trainer!

Summer Running in style

If there’s one thing I love, it’s running in the summer.  I don’t quite mind the heat, nor the sun, and the extra sweat makes it feel like an even greater accomplishment.  I spend about half of my training miles in the early morning, before the sun rises, but the other half are spent on the beach, sun high, or on the streets of my town in the middle of the day.  So it’s important for me to be prepared and dressed for all occasions: lots of bright clothing for dark mornings, fashionable combos for those beach runs, fun sports bras (because who wants to wear a shirt that’s just gonna get nasty sweaty and heavy?!) and comfort – lots of comfort.

That’s why I was SO pumped to get the latest box from Avia and the pieces inside have been an incredible hit!

Before I hop into the new line available (at your local WalMart or online here), here’s a shot of my favorite outfit from last summer!

The prints and vibrant colors this season have really stepped up the athleisure and running attire game. Florals are among my favorite, and the soft pastels and deep hues to coordinate are especially pleasing to my eye.

The two floral options this summer are gorgeous.  The deep fuchsia with navy/turquoise is so beautiful together and the orange floral reminds me of Hawaii and is perfect to brighten up any day.

Then there’s the simple short w/compression leggings underneath.  The elastic band is super comfy, the compression isn’t too tight (but hides everything that needs to be hidden), and for almost all of the colors available, there’s a matching medium-support sports bra to go with.

You’ll also see a new piece of gear that is my BEST FRIEND when I’m doing those 5 am runs – the flashing light.  I can snap it on the front or the back, and it flashes neon yellow and red to alert oncoming traffic that I’m on the move.  It’s so tiny and light, I don’t even know it’s there – but I’m pretty sure it’s saved me a few times!

Avia also keeps raising the bar on sports bras with design and comfort in mind.  I’m proud to join the #sportsbrasquad simply because in the summer heat and humidity, an extra layer with a shirt makes a run all the more difficult.  10 minutes in, I’m soaked, and the shirt either drapes heavy, or even causes chaffing.  So I toss the shirt aside, as long as I have something supportive to help me out (and if it’s cute and stylish, all the more reason to show it off!). The high neck/mesh is probably one of my favorites.

But you can’t go wrong with the simple, medium support bra, that’s great for running, a gym session, or grocery shopping!

I love showing off the fun styles Avia brings to the workout world…and I can’t wait for the upcoming fall/winter line to be released.  I hope it has everything to do with capris, mesh, and bold pattern.  Here’s a sneak peek that makes me thing I’m not too far off!

“Vacation” = run more races (faster)

Running races has become so addictive.  It’s becoming more a natural feeling to toe the line and push hard, with expectations only to do my best and beat me as best as I can.  Running 11 races from March to July has really given me an opportunity to embrace the “pre race jitters” and just have a whole lot of fun.  It’s even more fun when you don’t pay the entry fee, and end up winning awards!

Our family went on vacation a few weeks back and I knew a few months ago that I’d be preparing for a 5K and 4 mile race on July 3 and July 4 respectively while I was on vacation.  That meant two solid workouts, a few easy miles, and some rest days would be the schedule. But while I was down there, I saw a race pop up – and it was going to be 10 minutes from my beach house and for an amazing cause.  So I jumped in!

COPING TOGETHER 5K

This 5K was an inagural event fundraiser for the Coping Together organization out of Little River, SC (right outside of North Myrtle Beach).  They were raising funds to help offer support to cancer patients and their families.  How could I NOT join this race and run in memory of mom?!

It was a decent small sized crowd, but an amazing venue – a vineyard! The first mile of the race actually zig-zagged through the vineyards on the property before it stretched out onto the road for an out and back finish.  While the first mile seemed a smidge slower but I wonder if GPS was off?  By the time I got to the road, I was in 3rd place OA, up against an older (fast) gentleman, and a 14 yr old boy.  The next lady was a solid minute behind me so when I finally got the push to surge past the teenage kid, I went for it (I had to get over the 2.2 mile hump first!).  Pushing with all I had in the last half mile, I came in 2nd OA, 1st Female, with a PR of 21:45!

Such a fun event with a great purpose!

FIRECRACKER 5K

Moving on, I knew Tuesday night’s Firecracker 5K would be hard work.  My friend and teammate Tessa was going to be running it to for “blood and guts” and trying for that sub21 that we’ve been dreaming about.  I, on the other hand, hadn’t quite decided my race strategy, knowing I had the 4 miler the next morning.  But of course as soon as the gun went off, so did I.  I tried to hold my sub7 for the first mile but I could feel myself slipping – 6:58 and on into the second mile (with all the hills!) at a SLOW 7:30.  By this point I had passed Tessa and she cheered me on…but it was my goal to not let her get past me again.  I knew placing on the OA female podium was out of the question at this point, but I just kept pushing.  When I turned the corner for the finish line I saw 21:10 and booked it –

21:24 – THE PR!! I’m getting so close to that sub 21 I can taste it.  And if I can run this in 102* at 7 p.m., then I can’t wait to see what happens with the cooler weather in a morning race!!!

We had fun at the party afterwards, celebrating, meeting other teammates, and saying hello to our CRC store friends!

AMERICAN 4 MILER

Back in March, I committed to this race and wanted it to be a PR (either by course or time).  But when the other races popped up, I was unsure of what exactly I would do on race day.  Sure, I was tired from the night before’s 5K, but I wasn’t about to give up.  I had been struggling with some hip/glute soreness and had gotten some treatment on Tuesday after the race, but was able to hop onto the table right before the 4 miler to get some activation therapy.  (Thankfully, my awesome chiropractor was a sponsor of the race so he was there and able to help).

I quickly realized that I had zero pre race jitters.  Maybe it was because I had already toed the line 2x in the last 5 days, or maybe it was the lack of pressure I put on myself to “run fast” or maybe in was a combination of a lot of things.  All I knew is that by the time the gun would go off, I was going to run.  However I felt.  And funny enough, it wasn’t all that fast.  It certainly wasn’t “slow” but I could immediately tell I was reaping from the previous fast night 5K.  So, I just ran.  I enjoyed the sounds of breathing hard, and passing others and them passing me.  I said “merica” to myself over and over.  And at mile 1.5 (where I always mentally disengage from the 5K), I told myself it was WAY too early – I still had over half left to run.  The paces were settling in the 7:30s, and I found I was okay with it.  I started focusing more on cadence and breathing, forgetting about what was still left to go. Then the last mile was there.  And somehow, I found another gear then it became a mission to give it all I had.  And then, for the first time in a race, my last mile was a ridiculously 30sec faster mile, coming in at 7 flat.  I finished in 29:29 (not a PR, not a course PR, and my 2nd slowest 4 mile race).  But I wasn’t disappointed.  I had worked HARD over the last 5 days, running 24 miles over 3 races….my body was done! Yet I still was able to push that last mile.

I was 20th female, 5th in my age group.  I was proud of the fight, and learned one thing: back to back racing in July isn’t easy, nor is it necessary.  But it IS super fun when you get to run, run with friends, and celebrate every mile.

Now, I’ve got 7 weeks until my next race: a 5K in August.  It’s apparently “the fastest course” in the city and many folks PR it.  While i’ll be switching gears a bit to get into distance running again (for the half in October), I’m hoping that I’ll keep this speed up and be able to get closer to that sub21.  If not, Oct 27 is my goal –

20:xx – I’m coming for ya!

Run all the races-part 3: THE BIG RUN

June 6 was #globalrunningday and since I was out of town, I was preparing to just run in the neighborhood where I was staying (and miss all of the fun activities at home😭)…but I was super pumped to find out that the local Fleet Feet was joining in with the nationwide effort to make the day fun by hosting The Big Run at Riverfront Park in Charleston, SC. SO I signed up and told Joey (ahem, CEO of FF) that I was joining the fun and when I went to pick up my bib and shirt, I was treated like royalty.

He had lined up for me to chat with the store owners and sent a special gift to me. It was awesome and awkward at the same time!

This was going to be another evening 5k and having done NoDa just 4 days before, I was a little more prepared for the all day stressors/nutrition needs and was gearing up for an even hotter and more humid run.

I was so happy to have my sister join in at the race as she made it right after i finished my warm up and just before the start.

For the first time in a while, I wasn’t the only gal at the start line….however I WAS in the midst of a guy who said he was shooting for sub16 😲

The gun went off and I was ready. Three other ladies had decided to push forward in the first .1 of the race but I was really trying to be conservative….until I looked down and saw 9:20-whaaat?! I knew my GPS was waaaay off since we were somewhat secluded in a beaten path, but I still couldn’t resist trying to kick it quicker. I ended up passing all three of those ladies by the time we reached the actual road, about a quarter mile in and stuck with one guy for the entire race. I matched his steps with mine and stayed consistently 5-6 ft behind him.

Mile 1: 6:54 feeling fine.

I was feeling even better when I kept seeing the pace for mile 2. I was successfully holding a sub7 for the second mile and I have NEVER done that. Between that and being distracted by looking for my sister (it was an out, around, and back course) the distance flew by.

Mile 2: 6:55

WHOA-what have I just done?! Is it true? Will I PR tonight?

Then came 2.5 and surges of sickness came over me. Clearly I had reached my threshold and given I had never been able to sustain that pace for two straight miles I started falling. But I noticed the guy in front of me wasn’t getting ahead so we still kept at it together.

We rounded a turn and I heard someone shout “number one lady, you’re the number one lady!” And from that point, I chanted Nelly’s “I am number one, 2 is not a number and 3 nobody remembers” for the last bit of the race to keep my cadence up to the finish. Hey, whatever helps, right?!

I knew what the distance was once we got back I to the park and kept telling myself I’d make up the slack then, but it was getting hot, painful, and I had chills. Oh no. I can’t pass out with a quarter mile left!

Into the park, I dig deep for a quick turnover on my legs, praying I wouldn’t slip, fall, or vomit before crossing the finish line.

Mile 3:7:19

I looked at the clock knowing I was a few seconds behind my PR but also knowing I was just about to be first female overall. And strutted my running legs across that line as quickly and as proudly as I could. I had just ran 2 sub7 miles back to back, PRed my evening 5k time, and was first female. I was stoked!!! (And upon full review, this actually IS my PR now 21:46, on a full 3.1 course).

And thankfully, there was no puking post finish line 😂

The after party for this race was so fun since we had all of the kids in tow. Brooks brought out a water slide for everybody to enjoy (I may/may not have gotten in on the action). I also got to meet my IG friend Cara and for a quick moment we thought we were both famous!

It was also neat to finally meet up with Denise, another mother runner who just recently moved from MI to SC and is an ambassador with a few of the same companies.

I won a gift certificate to Fleet Feet MtPleasant/Summerville, a back pack, two shirts, and a brooks pint glass (along with the finish line pint glass and medal). Hands down one of the most fun races. I placed 1st Female/ 8th OA for the local race and 474th of 8100+ folks (not too shabby). It was so fun running with folks all over the country. Totally doing this again. Thanks Fleet Feet for hosting a phenomenal event!