Monday, May 19, 2014

Race4Taylor 5K Recap: A New Course Record

This Saturday was the Race4Taylor, one of my all-time favorite races. It was the third year that I've run it and the fifth (and final - makes me sad) race.

Last year, I set a new course record at this race. My goal this year was to run strong and break my record.

My legs were feeling pretty tired Saturday morning. My Fridays off have unofficially become longer run days which isn't a great combination with a Saturday race, especially one I want to run fast.  That said, I ran seven relatively easy miles and did a gym workout Friday, which meant that I ran 17 miles in the three days leading to the race. Not the smartest decision ever, but I won't complain because I really had a great run Friday morning.

When we got to the race Saturday, I ran a brief warm up and stretched really well. My run club sponsored me in this race, so I wore my singlet which was really comfortable. I'm pretty loyal to Nike dri-fit racerback tanks, but this singlet felt surprisingly good. I also wore my new Mother's Day gift: my Garmin Forerunner 220. I'll do a full review of it later.

This race attracts around 400 runners each year and all the top runners from anywhere remotely close were there on Saturday.

I didn't get as fast of a start as usual. I somehow got lost in the bog of the runners from the second and third row. If you race often, you know that everyone, regardless of ultimate pace, runs fast at the beginning. This is great and by about half a mile in (at the latest), the crowd has thinned. My slower start hurt me at this race though. I like being out in front from the beginning.

I ran the first mile great, albeit a little slower than normal in 6:13. My first mile has been right at or under 6:00 for my last few races. It's around this point that the 5K and 10K broke off, so once this happened, it was me and a little boy with a few men in front of us. I always watch this small group of guys who run faster than me and feel like if I can see them at certain points, I'm doing well.

Mile 2 on this race killed me. Flat out killed me. It's when I started feeling the previous day's miles. It's also the mile of rolling hills. It's relatively flat where I live, but this course has some hills. Not a steep up and down, but rather a few nice, long rolling hills. If you're into that sort of thing. My legs weren't feeling it Saturday. I looked at my Garmin at some point on this mile and had to give myself a pep talk because at that point, I didn't quite know for sure whether I'd even beat my record from last year. I wasn't looking for a sub-19 like last week, but I did want to be somewhere below 20. I ran this lovely second mile in 6:38, 25 seconds slower than my first mile.

Mile 3 was better. While the road did look like it was going on for days, I managed to give myself a big enough pep talk to finish the race with a 6:18 mile for a total of 19:45. I also broke the course record of 20:25 which was my PR for most of last year. I was first female and eighth overall. I was happy with my run!

I won another bobble head trophy - seriously, is this not the best trophy? There were also pirates running with us and anyone who beat the pirate got an "I beat the pirate" cup. I got this as well along with a gift card to a local running store and a cash prize for setting a new course record.

I really hope this won't be it for this race. It's a great race, but an even greater family is behind it. The family who owns and operates our local timing company began it after their son was killed in a tragic auto accident almost six years ago. I've gotten to know and love this family through the incredible sport of running. They are an inspiration to all of us. Through their foundation, they've given tens of thousands in scholarships. I'm thankful to have crossed paths with them and know that I don't speak alone when I say running means more because of them.

Friday, May 16, 2014

#20x31 Weekly Recap

If you're not a part of #20x31, you're missing out. My friend Jen and a few other awesome bloggers and I are hosting this challenge to do 20 minutes of exercise every day of May.

JVKom Chronicles

4 miles (3.1 mile race/18:56)

2.5 miles - 2 miles of quarter mile repeats, speed work

Active rest day running around

Active rest day and baseball

7 miles
Strength workout at the gym - arms, legs, upper body, butt, abs, back

 3.1 miles
Ab work

7 miles
Strength workout at the gym - arms, legs, upper body, butt, abs, back

Total Miles: 23.6

Next week, I'll talk about active rest days and what I do then. I usually don't take two days in a row off from running, but after an 8 miler last Friday, a fast race Saturday and speedwork Sunday, I decided to give my legs a rest as I have a big race tomorrow that I want to run well.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


This Saturday, I did something that I didn't really ever expect to do in a race: I broke 19 minutes and PR'd at the Sonoco Birthday Bash with a time of 18:56 (6:06 pace). To say I am thrilled and on cloud 9 is an understatement.

I am fortunate in that I don't work on Fridays in the summer and I like to take advantage of the early morning to get in a long run. I've had a race the past few weekends and have one the next few, but I was itching to try out some new shoes (Brooks PureFlow) and feeling great, so I ran 8 miles.

When I got up Saturday morning, my legs felt a little tired, but I wasn't worried about the race. I ate my usual scrambled eggs and cinnamon toast (in the car) on the way to the race.

I picked up my bib when we got there and then did a short warm up run. I stretched probably three or four times as much as I normally do before a race. My legs felt tight and I wanted to loosen them up as much as I could before we started.

I started up front like usual and stayed with the fastest guys at first.

Going into the second turn, I told one of the fastest men I know (really, he is incredible!) that I was sticking with him because I wanted to PR (my previous best race time was 19:48). We stuck together the whole race.

This course had some small hills on it which is different for me. I used those to my advantage and went up and down fast.

I don't look at my watch often when I race - usually just at the first half mile or so and again on the miles - but I love that my new watch (Garmin Forerunner 220) beeps at each mile. When I was at the half-way point, I was pretty confident that I'd PR, just had no idea it'd be by that much.

When I got about 100 yards from the finish, I saw my husband and our boys. A few seconds later, I rounded the final corner and saw "18:40" on the clock. At that point, I just sprinted in as fast as I could.

I may have also screamed "I broke 19!" as I ran through the finish. I was thrilled to say the least.

I ended up with a time of 18:56 (6:06 pace), was first female and sixth overall.

The feeling of accomplishment is still so strong. When I race, I race against myself and my best time and I can say that without a doubt, this race was the best won I've run.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Running Week in Review: 5.5.14

Last week was a good week of exercise. I managed to hit 100 miles for the first time ever to round out the month of April. I ran a few miles less than I have the past few weeks, but that was ok. I raced the past two Saturdays as well, so I'm not upset about my mileage. I also strength trained. I feel so much stronger when I strength train (I guess that's why they call it strength training!) and I can tell a difference in my running as well.

4 miles before work/28:22
2 miles at lunch/14:22
Strength training at the gym - upper body, abs, butt

4 miles/forgot to log time
50 twisting sit ups on the incline bench

4 miles/forgot to log time - hit my 100 with this run!

Off day - I did chase around first graders so I got in a workout, but went on a field trip with our oldest.

3.1/22 something as I had a race the next day
40 pull ups
75 twisting sit ups on the incline bench

Another 1.5 warm up and cool down

2 miles
8 minute abs
40 pull ups
60 twists on the incline bench
30 on each side crunches with a kettlebell

Total Miles: 23.6
Total Time:  2:24:13

Monday, May 5, 2014

Petal to the Medal 5K Recap

On Saturday, I ran my first Petal to the Medal 5K. I missed this race last year and I'm so glad I had a chance to run in this time. It was a trail race which is my absolute favorite kind of race. It wound throughout a state park which was beautiful.

The weather was perfect Saturday morning. When we got there, I did a warm up run of a little over half a mile. I don't always warm up, but I can tell when I do. Our run club also took a picture before the race.

When it was time to go, we lined up and readied our watches. My husband gave me The Little Red Book on Running for Christmas and I've been putting many of the tips to practice, one being to get a good start. I've really started pushing my start which in turn has helped me. I could tell it did big time in this race.

Unfortunately, my Garmin broke. I noticed a problem with it last Saturday when it wouldn't turn off after the race, but I was hoping that it was just a fluke. It picked up the signal fine and started, but the timer didn't start and after 2-3 minutes, it just turned off. I knew my pace for those first few minutes had me running a little less than a 6 minute mile, so I was happy with that and just enjoyed the race.

My favorite part of the course was when it went into the woods. I think because I grew up in the country and running trails, I really appreciate these races. I miss running on dirt roads and around fields some days.

I saw my husband and the 3 mile mark when I turned off of the trail and back onto the main road that goes through the park.

I finished the race in 20:29 (6:36 pace). I was really happy with my result. I was less than 20 seconds slower than my last road race and this was on a trail. I finished as the first female and fourth overall. It was a great race!

Friday, May 2, 2014

The May Challenge! #20x31

Do you like a challenge? Do you like setting goals? Do you like a feeling of accomplishment? If so, then I have something for you!

This month, I'm participating in a May fitness challenge with the lovely Jen, Samantha and Carly. Our challenge for you this month is to exercise 20 minutes a day each day during the month of May. If you think about it, it's only 10 hours and 20 minutes of exercise in the entire month (and May has 744 hours). I know we all have busy lives, but surely there's 20 minutes in there somewhere for exercise.

Each day, we'd love for you to share your workout on social media using #20x31. And on Fridays, we'll be hosting a link up where we can share our workouts for the week. 

And there's more: at the end of the #20x31 challenge, you have a chance to win a $20 Amazon giftcard. You'll get one entry for every Friday link and you can earn additional entries (one per day) by using #20x31 and tagging Jen, Samantha, Carly or me.

Here's to a great May challenge!

Anna @ Running Smiles
Twitter: runningsmiles
Facebook: Running Smiles

And since I was slack (actually I was on a field trip with our oldest yesterday and forgot to schedule this post), I'll go ahead and share with you my workouts for the week.

Monday - 6 miles, strength training at the gym
Tuesday - 4 miles
Wednesday - 4 miles
Thursday - rest day, but I did get in way more than 20 minutes walking around with first graders! (I'll talk more about active rest days later!)
Friday - 3.1 miles, 60 situps on the incline bench, 40 pull ups

Keeping it real for you on the first Friday of #20x31:

Slow 3.1 as I have a race tomorrow; post working out before work; our pull up bar; ready for the workout

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My first 100 mile month!

I'm a pretty excited woman this morning. With my 4 miles before work, I reached a total of 100 miles in April! I've not ever run that many miles in a month before and I'm pretty excited about it. I really didn't know if I had it in me - well, the time at least. I knew I could pound out the miles, but with a pretty tight schedule and a general almost inability to spend time during family time at nights running, I wasn't sure that I'd be able to get the miles in, but I did, and I'm glad.

Prior to this month, the most miles I've ever run in a month was around 85 and I typically run around 75 miles. I just really, really don't want to spend time at night running when I want to be doing things with my husband and kids. And some mornings, I just can't quite force myself out of bed in enough time to get in extra miles.

This past month, the run club I'm a member of decided to do an April Challenge. If you recall, last May, we had a challenge to run every day and I completed that challenge after running every day in April before it (my own personal challenge). The goal of this year's challenge was to have us step up what we normally do. I decided to set my goal at 100 running miles and I'm glad I did.

100 miles seemed to be a good fit for me. Sure, I added an extra day of running some weeks (I usually run 5 days a week, but during the challenge, I ran 6 most weeks), but all in all, it didn't seem like too big of an adjustment. I didn't have any outrageously longs runs either to try and get in my miles. I ran one seven miler and a couple of six milers, but I normally do that anyway. There were a few days where I only ran two miles for the sake of time and due to races. I also used 4 miles as a base for most of my runs. In months past (I keep a detailed log), many of my daily runs were only a 5K while I'd run longer distances on the weekends and sometimes a day during the week, but this month, I predominately ran 4 miles on my morning runs.

I don't know that I'd ever want to build up to do more than what I did this month. Give or take a few miles, yes, but I don't want to add on another 10 or 15. I think 100 is good for my body. I don't feel fatigued, my muscles feel fresh and I was still able to maintain working out at the gym. I'm not a marathoner nor do I want to be and I don't really want to run another half either, so why pile on unnecessary miles? I'm all for quality of quantity in every area of my life.

I'm very happy with my 5K and 10K races and enjoy running longer distances (7 plus miles) when I feel like it, but as far as training for a longer distance race goes, I don't want to do it. I love to run and the way it makes me feel and I do it for me (and fitness of course). I get joy from running a quick seven miler, but the thought of training for another half (I should say training for a half because we all know I didn't train for my only half) is a turn off for me.

These 100 miles reiterated to me a few things:
- I really, really, really love to run.
- Rest days are important.
- Proper fuel really changes your runs (more on that later).
- When I plan properly, I'm able to get in the miles I want.
- I'll sacrifice some things - like 20 minutes of extra sleep or a relaxing lunch - to run. This is really because it drives me nuts to have an idea of how many I want to run and then not get them in.
- I am faster when I run more miles.
- Stretching is important.
- I really like getting to lay in bed with my husband in the morning.
- My appetite is insane the more I run.
- I don't have to plan out my workouts. I'll make them happen without a detailed plan. And plans make me stressed which is odd considering I plan everything else in my life in such detail.

What kind of mileage do you typically run?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Running Week in Review: 4.28.14

I had a great week of running last week. I also managed two strength training workouts at the gym. My race on Saturday was good as well. I'm looking forward to knocking out my 100 miles in April tomorrow!

5 miles (4/28:04; 1/7:13)
Strength training at the gym - upper body, abs, back, butt, legs

2 miles/13:24

4 miles/27:48
Strength training at the gym - upper body, abs, butt

4 miles/28 minutes

2 miles/14:27

Color Me ArtFields 5K - 20:10 plus about another mile for warmup/cool down

5 miles/34:47

Total Miles: 26
Total Time: 3:00:53

Monday, April 28, 2014

Color Me ArtFields 5K

This weekend was my first-ever color run. And it was fun.

In a small town near my hometown, the second annual ArtFields is being held. ArtFields is a 10-day art competition and exhibition in tiny Lake City, SC. The winner of the competition gets $100,000, so it's a big deal.

We drove down for the race on Saturday morning and I'm glad we did. The boys really wanted to run it, but when they saw everyone covered with paint, they decided not to. I don't blame them. I wasn't crazy about getting covered in paint either!

With my mom before the race.
There were three competing races run on Saturday and truth be told, I was sad to be missing my favorite trail run which is really one of my favorite runs. But, in the spirit of points for the Grand Prix, I decided to run the ArtFields run this year.

I didn't have a set goal for this race. I just wanted to go out, have fun and finish strong. Throughout this month, I've been participating in a challenge with my run club. My goal is to run 100 miles in April and I'm almost there, so needless to say, I didn't take a rest day before the race.

I started off the race really strong. It went through what I consider an unsafe part of town, so I wanted to stay as close to the three men ahead of me as I could while conserving what I needed to finish strong. I managed to stay around 50 yards or so from them (if my estimate is right) through the first part of the race. I did get chased by a dog at one point and had some guys yell at me at another, but for the most part, I felt safe during the race especially as there were police on almost every corner at each turn.

My first mile was run in 5:59. I was excited. About 1.6 in, I was under 10, so I felt like I'd PR this race (current PR is 19:48). I didn't pay much attention to my Garmin while I ran and really just enjoyed the race. The weather could not have been better.

There were stations along the route where people were dumping colors on the runners. At the first station, I told them no color, but got some anyway. The rest of the stations asked me, so I was able to say no. It's not that I didn't want color so much as I knew we were going to walk around the festival after the race and I really didn't want to be all painted. Plus, there was no use in them wasting color on me as I was by myself.

My mom teaches school in this town and I saw many of her students along the course. It was fun to hear my name yelled out as the last part of the course used the same street as the middle.

When I got near the end, I looked down at my watch and saw that I was close to my PR. I also saw that the distance on my Garmin was already 3.1.

When I went across the finish line, I got covered in the colored corn starch. It was fun though!

I finished the race in 20:10 (6:30 pace) as fourth overall and the first female. I wish I had pushed it near the end as I had plenty left.

After the race, the boys went for a cool down run with me. I can't wait until we can really run races together!

They were pretty excited about the trophy, too!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Yesterday was monumental. It was a touching day whether you're a runner or not. It was The Boston Marathon.

Mondays are always busy days for me at work. I remember rushing around last year and trying to wrap meetings in time to watch some of the live feed and then the tragedy happened. My husband and I were glued to the TV for days.

The Saturday after the race, I ran my first race post-Boston. Seeing American flags out on the course and wearing ribbons for all those affected - our entire country - made quite an impact on me. I remember somewhere near the end of the 5K race just having tears streaming down my face thinking about the tragedy.

Running is something that many love and it's something that unites all of us that participate in the sport. Whether you're a sub 2:30 marathoner or a 30-minute 5K runner matters not; what shines through is your love of the sport. During my race last year, that's what I kept thinking about. I kept thinking about how blessed we are to be able to participate in this sport and how awesome it is that something that's so good for us is something that's loved by so many. And I thought about those who wouldn't ever be able to run again - or run the same - because of a senseless tragedy and at that, the tears welled. I was listening to my iPod during this race and while I don't remember what the song was (it was a praise and worship song sung by Chris Tomlin), I just felt this strength that made me remember that this thing we love that unites us was not going to fall. We are strong.

Yesterday was an incredible day. I turned the live feed on so I could hear what was going on as I was working and flipped back and forth as I had a chance, and thankfully, made it out of my Monday morning meeting to see Rita and Meb win the marathon. It was incredible to watch and again, my eyes swelled with tears at the thought of Boston being completed again. How significant it was that Meb, an American, won the first Boston after the tragedy. And Shalane ran an incredible race despite not winning. She raced her heart and soul out and I just want to be like her when I grow up.

Yesterday saw probably the strongest field of runners ever in Boston and they were all - regardless of nationality - running in tribute to the tragedy of the year before. And at the end of the day we proved that we are all Boston Strong.

Yes, we're all Boston Strong.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Running Week in Review: 4.21.14

I had a great week of running and working out this past week. I ran 27 miles which is on the high end of what I usually run. I was very thankful for that and feel great! I think the hardest part for me is finding the time to have good quality runs. I'm really working on that and I feel better for it. I'm also learning more about not rushing through every run. I don't do a great job of taking recovery days or doing good recovery runs, but I'm making a concerted effort to do better and not run at a below 7 minute pace or right at it for my runs.

I was also excited that I got back into the gym. I made it twice which was great. I feel stronger for it and plan to keep it up.

4 miles/28:27
20 pull ups

5 miles/35:27
40 pull ups
8 minute abs
10 minute ab video
xHit Bums and Butt Video

2 miles/13:59
Strength training at gym - Upper body, abs, back, shoulders, butt

4 miles/27:42
40 pull ups
60 twisting crunches on incline bench

7.1 miles (not sure of time - I ran a 5K at the gym and another 4 on my treadmill at home. I'm going to put down 50 minutes as I ran the first 3.1 in about 21 and the last 4 right at 29)
Strength training at the gym - upper body, abs, back, shoulders, butt, legs

4 miles/27:28
50 twisting crunches on the incline bench

Rest Day - church and family time and remembering our Savior's sacrifice.

Total Miles: 27.1
Total Time: 3:03:03

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Look Back: My Very First Race

Happy Friday! In honor of it being a Friday and a Good one at that (pun intended), I thought I'd take a minute to look back at my very first race. In fact, I think I'll look back at a race each Friday until I have them all integrated from my other personal blog to this running blog. That should take a while!

When I was reading over my notes from my first race, I see how much I've changed. What was something that I just decided to do on a whim has becoming part of my daily life. It's amazing to see how I've transformed over the past almost 30 months since my first race. My race PR today is almost five minutes below my race time from this first race and my body, while always small, has definitely become more toned. My love for racing has only multiplied these last few years and I'm thankful each day that this running thing that I've done consistently since I was a young teen is something that I love even more today.

My Very First Real Race
The first real race I ever ran was a 5K that is a part of a local festival. (I say real race because I have run the Cooper River Bridge and a few other races, but those weren't done to see how I could do. They were more about doing them with other people.) My husband's best friend runs and was running this race and they both encouraged me to sign up for it.

At the time, I was running probably 3-4 days a week and 2-4 miles each time. I went to the gym for strength training regularly, but I didn't do speed work or really train for races. I just enjoyed running and did it.

I was really excited about this race. On race morning, we headed downtown to get my bib. It was freezing cold and I wasn't prepared for the weather with proper race gear, so I wore my shorts and a jacket over my t-shirt. It's funny to me to think back to that day now as I'm all dri-fit everything, light weight shoes and playlists. Such a contrast from not too long ago.

When the race started, I decided I'd stay with my husband's friend as best I could. I had no expectations about this race whatsoever and really didn't know what other people would be running. Surprisingly, I finished the race in 23:58. I was not only first in my age group, but fourth overall. I was so excited!

This race is what got me hooked on racing and really kicked my training up a notch. I loved the environment of racing and I really liked winning something. From that day forward, I've only gotten faster and I know that's attributed to my training. Since this first race, I've run and won countless other races including this one!

What was your first race like?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Pushing through when you don't want to run.

I love to run. If I didn't, I wouldn't be writing this little blog. But even though I love to run, there are still some days when I don't really want to run. I'm not a high mileage runner (we'll talk about that another day), but ideally, I like to get in 20-25 miles a week which means unless I plan to run a super long run one day, I need to run 5-6 days a week. 

It's not every morning that I wake up and think "I don't want to run today" (those days are actually very few and far between), but when those days happen, I have the choice to either give in and not run or motivate myself to run. I'll be honest with you, sometimes, my "I don't want to run" mindset wins, but when it doesn't I feel so much better.

Here are a few things that motivate me:

1. The way I feel after a run. Ideally, I like to run outside, in the morning, and not be rushed, but with a husband, two kids and a full-time job plus a general fear of running outside alone in the dark, this doesn't happen too much except on the weekends. Regardless, I still feel just as good after my treadmill run inside. There's not much better than knowing I got a workout in while my sweet family is still sleeping and knowing I can get ready for work and not have to take three more showers in a given day.

2. I know it's good for me. Some people need therapy (shoot, I might some days), some people need chocolate, and me? Well, I need running. Running makes me happy and it's good for me and knowing these two things makes me motivated to do it.

3. Knowing I'll have to take an off day soon. If I know I'm going to have to take a day off running because of plans, I'm more motivated to get in a run even if I'm not feeling like it. I don't like to not be active any day, but there are some days that I know I won't really be able to run. For instance, we went to Birmingham a few weeks ago for a wedding and I knew that I'd more than likely not be able to run every day we were there, so even on the day we left for a long car ride, I made sure to get up early enough to get in a four miler.

And, finally:

4. A feeling of accomplishment. I am a goal setter and planner (though I don't plan my workouts in great detail) and nothing makes me feel quite like accomplishing something does. So when those days when I don't feel like running come along, I just look at them as a challenge to accomplish something I didn't really feel like doing.

What motivates you when you don't want to run?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Running Week in Review: 4.14.14

This past week was not my best when it comes to mileage. Thanks to this yellow pollen and running fever, this girl didn't get in too many miles.

Monday: 2 miles/13:57; weights
Tuesday: 2 miles/13:49
Wednesday: Off, fever
Thursday: 4 miles/28:12
Friday: Off
Saturday: 3.1, not sure on time
Sunday: 8 minute abs, no run - feeling yuck

Total Miles: 11.1
Total Time: 104 minutes (includes strength training)

My goals this week are to strength train and eat healthier. We had a few birthday celebrations for our youngest son and me last week which resulted in a few too many pieces of cake being consumed! I'm not one to say no to cake - or restricting my diet - but I do like to eat healthy for the most part.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Confessions of a Treadmill Runner

I confess: I'm a treadmill runner. Love it or hate it, it's a necessary (and sometimes) evil in my running life. Do I always run on the treadmill? No. But these days, many of my runs are on the treadmill. 

I think most people get bored with the treadmill. I do many times, but today, I'll share with you a few of my thoughts on treadmill running.

1. Treadmill running makes me a faster runner. When I'm on the treadmill, I can make myself run at a sub-6 minute/mile pace. I may be too lazy to change the speed, but on the treadmill, I feel I can go faster longer than if I'm running a regular run outside. This helps in races.

2. Treadmill running makes me mentally stronger. I get bored easily. Very easily. Running on the treadmill makes me push through the boredom which really helps in longer races.

3. Treadmill running allows me to run more than I would if I didn't have a treadmill during most times of the year. I don't like to run when it's dark outside, I don't like to give up time with my husband and kids to run at night and I don't always feel like running with my phone, my watch and all the clothes I need (I stick to just shorts and a sports bra on my treadmill). 

4. Treadmill running allows me to multitask. If I haven't gotten a run in before work but have planned to run a certain day, I can make it home, throw something in the oven and get in a few miles by the time my husband and kids get home. I feel taken care of and I'm not sacrificing time with my family.

What are your treadmill confessions?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Running Week in Review 4.7.14

I think I'll start each week out by recapping the prior week's runs and workouts. This past week, I didn't make it to the gym for strength training. I'm making it a priority to try to get back in the gym two or three days a week starting this week. I started the week off on the right foot with a visit to my gym this morning.

Monday - 4 miles
Tuesday - 4 miles/27:47
Wednesday - 4 miles/27:40
Thursday - Rest Day
Friday - 5 miles/37:14
Saturday - 6.2 miles/43:13
Sunday - 4 miles/26:10

Total Mileage: 27.2
Total Time: 3:16:04

All of my miles this week were on the treadmill. I don't run outside when it's dark by myself and this past week, most days, I ran before work which meant my treadmill and I had some quality time together. I also try to do some speed work on the treadmill. For instance, yesterday when I ran 4 miles, I started off around a 7:30 pace which is typically what I start with in regular runs, but I finished the run with my last mile at a 6 minute pace.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Race Day Nutrition

As all runners know, what we put into our bodies has a profound impact on how we perform. I've really been trying to clean up my eating habits and while I consider myself to eat healthy 85 or 90 percent of the time, I do indulge from time to time. Typically though, I eat pretty healthy. I've been tracking my foods this week just so I can see exactly what I'm putting into my body (which may not have been a good idea since my birthday was yesterday!).

We all know that what we eat a few days before a race is really more important than what we eat on race mornings, but that's another post for another day. Today, let's talk about pre-race fuel.

I normally only race 5Ks and 10Ks so my nutritional needs are entirely different from someone running 26.2 miles or even a half marathon.

I like to keep breakfast simple before races. On a regular weekday when I run before work, I don't eat breakfast first, but on the weekend when I race or go for a longer run, I always eat first.

I used to strictly eat oatmeal before races. I love Better Oats Maple and Brown Sugar oatmeal. It's easy to prepare and quite tasty.

Lately, I've been eating two scrambled eggs and cinnamon toast. I went through this cinnamon toast phase and it seemed to work well on race morning.

I always drink a full glass of water before I race, too, however, I don't drink anything at all after thirty minutes or so before a run. I hate feeling the side stitch feeling you get when you've had too many liquids.

How about you? What's your go-to pre-race meal?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

March 2014 Races in Review

March was a busy month for races! I raced all but one weekend this month.

March 1 - Race for Cancer 5K

My husband and I were in Birmingham for a family wedding and I joked that we should have looked for a race. The next thing I knew, he had given me a few options for a Saturday race.

This race was huge - much larger than our average races here. Given that I didn't pack anything other than some clothes for the treadmill at the hotel, TJ Maxx was my friend. I bought a pullover as well as an armband for my phone so I could listen to music.

When I got to the starting line, I heard the men behind me talking about how this course was not one for a PR. I also saw the mountain ahead of me. I decided I'd enjoy this run and see how I did.

The course was beautiful. It wound through a gorgeous, gated neighborhood. The neighborhood was full of hills, which was a challenge for this girl used to running at sea level. When I came down the mountain, I saw my husband standing there taking pictures. Not having my watch, I didn't know exactly how fast I was other than the every half mile alerts RunKeeper gave me, but I was in the top pack.

I saw 20:00 on the clock as I was getting near it and ended up running the race in 20:15 which was a 5 second PR for me. I was thrilled! I was the first female in my age group, fourth female overall and ninth overall. Hills and all, I managed to PR in this race. Ultimately, I think this gave me the boost of confidence I needed to run under 20 in my second race of the month.

March 8 - Pacing for Pieces 5K

This is one of the trail races that I love to run! We had a lot of rain prior to this race, so I knew it would be muddy. About a mile of this race winds through the woods.

I don't know what it was about this race, but I started off really strong and felt great during the whole race. Since February was a slow month with no races, I ramped up my strength and core training and I could really tell a difference in this race.

When I got to the halfway point, I looked at my Garmin and realized if I kept my pace, I'd finish in the low 19's. I tried not to get too excited about it because this isn't the best course to pick for a PR, so I just focused on finishing the race strong.

I ran across the finish line in 19:48! I was thrilled that I finally broke 20 minutes in a race and set a new PR.

I finished as the top female and was 6th overall.

March 15 - Sports Medicine Challenge 10K

I don't race 10K's too often, mostly because we don't have a lot of them locally. There is a great 10K in the spring though and I decided to run it this year. In the past, I've run the 5K as we've had soccer and I don't really like to miss any of the boys' things, but this year, the starts aligned and the soccer game was late enough for me to run the 10K and make it to the game only a few minutes late.

I have to say that this is one of the toughest courses in town. It has some hills and the back part of the course literally zig zags up and down streets for a few blocks. I didn't particularly enjoy that part.

I felt horrible the morning of the race and contemplated dropping down to the 5K. I was dealing with a nasty sinus infection and just didn't feel like pushing it. I wanted to PR, but I knew that it was highly unlikely based on the way I was feeling.

The 10K starts off about a block behind the 5K, so it was fun running through a large group of runners as it made me feel I was at a larger race for a few brief minutes. I felt good at the 5K point and decided to keep going (I seriously considered breaking off and just finishing the race as a 5K). The back part of the course was definitely the toughest. There wasn't really anyone near me, so I essentially ran by myself the last 3.1 miles.

I finished the race in 44:01. I was 58 seconds slower than my race PR, but all things considered, I was ok with it. I was the top female and 8th overall.

March 29 - Titan Trot 5K

The last race in March was the Titan Trot 5K. This was a trail race and I really looked forward to running it. The week of the race was not my best week. I ended up in the ER with a kidney stone a few days before the race (I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy!) and was still taking antibiotics for a sinus infection, so I didn't really run much at all that week. I think I ran maybe 6 miles before the race.

It started raining on Friday night before the race and didn't stop until after it. I decided to be brave and run the race in the rain - not my favorite environment for running. The course was extremely muddy, had a few small ditches we had to jump over and was just overall wet. The longer we ran, the harder it rained.

I planned to just take it easy during this race because I wasn't feeling 100 percent. I was really happy with the way I ran. I finished in 21:39 which is much slower than usual, but I felt good which was something I was concerned about. I was the top female and fourth overall. I'm hoping this race will be run in the sun next year!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Titon Trot 5K

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This weekend, I ran my fourth race of the month. It was the Titan Trot 5K Trail Race and proceeds benefited a local school.

I love trail races. We don't have too many local trail races, so it's a treat to get to race a trail.

Saturday morning was a monsoon. It started raining Friday night and it didn't stop until the race ended Saturday morning. The longer we ran, the harder the rain came down.

I'm not a huge fan of running in the rain, but I don't like to miss races, so I just threw on a hat and ran. My sweet husband met me at the finish line with a towel. I was able to change into the race t-shirt after I ran, but had forgotten to pack extra shoes and shorts.

The race followed along the cross country course of a school. It started on the football field and wound around the woods. It was so muddy.

I didn't get as fast of a start as I normally do. There were a lot of younger kids/teenagers running and they flew off at the start. It took me a minute or two to get around them because once we got in the woods, the trail was narrow.

I felt great during the run. The past few weeks have been very abnormal for me. I've dealt with a sinus infection and was in the ER with a kidney stone last Monday, so I wasn't feeling quite 100 percent on Saturday. (This is coming from the girl that's rarely sick, doesn't go to the doctor and won't take medicine unless she has to.) I told my husband I didn't think I'd push it.

You can't tell, but it's pouring rain.

My goal for the race was to finish in 22 minutes or less given the torrential rain, muddy course and the way I felt. I finished in 21:39 (6:59 pace). I was the first female and fourth overall.

Do you like to race trails?

How do you feel about running in the rain?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Why I Love to Run

If you're a runner, you'll understand what I'm talking about. If you're a want-to-be runner, you will, too.

I hate to run. 

Have you ever heard those words or said them before? It's no secret that I love to run. I think it's puzzling for people who don't run though. 

Why would anyone want to spend time everyday pounding the pavement or treadmill, getting sweaty and hot and training for something that could be months away and will more than likely result in just a little medal?

To some, this is insane, but to runners, it's a part of life.

I really do love to run. I'm not kidding. I really love it.

I've run for over fifteen years on a pretty consistent basis. I've raced for about two years. It's addictive.

Before I discovered racing, I ran three or four times a week and I would run anywhere from two to four miles each time I ran. I didn't run anywhere near as fast as I run now (we're talking a 28 minute 5K from an old exercise log I have that dates back six or so years ago), but I still loved to run. 

I grew up in the country, so running for me was mostly on dirt roads and around fields. I think that's why I love trail races today. I didn't run for time necessarily, but I loved the freeing feeling of running outside in the beautiful countryside. 

A little over two years ago, I ran my first race. It was a local 5K. I ran it in 23:58. I was first in my age group and third female overall. After that race, I was hooked.

I really started training after that race. I wanted to be faster and felt like I could be. My 5K PR today is 19:48. That's four minutes and ten seconds faster than my first race. 

For me, running is part of my life. It's not something I do occasionally, on a whim or after I've eaten one too many cups of froyo. It's as natural as taking a shower each morning.

I love to run because it makes me feel good. I love the way I feel after a run whether it's a fast one-miler because that's all I have time to squeeze in on a hectic morning or after I've run seven or eight miles just because it's nice outside.

I love to run because it's good for me. Exercise is good for us, we all know that. I like treating my body well and running is one way I can do that.

I love to run because it makes me look better. There. I said it. Allow me to be vain for a minute: I think the effects of running are good for the way my body looks. I think we all want to look good for our significant other and while chocolate sure does taste good, it doesn't quite have the same effects as running does.

I love to run because it sets a good example for my kids. My husband and I are both active and feel that it's important that the boys see us participating in sports and staying active. I don't want them to have a sedentary lifestyle, so why should I model that for them? (The same goes with the things we eat and do in our free time in front of them. There's always time to veg out and catch up on shows after bedtime!). Thankfully, they both love playing sports and our oldest even ran a 2K with me last year (one of the proudest moments of my life!).

I love to run because it's my stress relief. There's nothing that relieves stress like pounding the pavement. I'm fortunate in that I don't get stressed too easily, but running does keep me sane. We all have little (or big) stressors in our lives and this is a great way to forget about them. Often, if something is bothering me, I'll have a totally different (and usually better) perspective on it after a run.

I love to run because it's great me time and gives me relaxation. I don't require a lot of me time, but I do need some. In my job, I interact with people all-day long and I constantly have people in and out of my office. And I have to think and plan and analyze all day. While I adore this, I also need some time away where I don't have to think. Running gives me that me time and allows my brain to turn off for a few miles. I don't like being away from my husband and kids (who does?), so I'm not one of these women who has a regular night out. When I'm running, I feel like I'm taking care of myself and getting some me time in, so it's really a great combination.

I love to run because it makes me a better wife and mom. I know that may sound crazy, but taking care of yourself is important. My husband and our boys are my world and naturally, I want to be my best for them. Being my best for them means taking care of myself. I am a pro (I think) when it comes to not letting running interfere with our lives. Yes, I do run when everyone is awake sometimes and obviously when I race, they're there, but for the most part, I plan my running around what we're doing. Most days, that means I'm running on our treadmill while the boys are sleeping soundly, I run at lunch or I run while they're playing a video game with my husband. Life/running balance is really important to me. I don't want my kids to remember me running out the door first thing in the morning or when I get home at night. I want them to remember me running in the door to play.

Those are just a few of the reasons I love to run. I can certainly see why people may think running is boring and may hate it - there are days when I don't want to run - but as we all know, you can always start to love something. Many runners have a love/hate relationship with the sport and I get that. But those days when you lace up your shoes and go out the door not really wanting to run sometimes turn into the best runs ever and it's in those moments that I totally and completely can't imagine not loving to run.

Do you love to run or do you have a love/hate relationship with it?

Friday, March 21, 2014

My Favorite Running Gear

I'm linking up with The Lady Okie and Sunshine to the Square Inch today and talking about my favorite running gear. 

As any runner knows, the most important piece of gear is your pair of shoes. About three years ago, I bought my first pair of Brooks and I haven't looked back. While my first pair were an Adrenaline GTS model, after I began racing about two and a half years ago, I switched to Books' lightweight line, the Pure Project. I run in Brooks PureCadence. I'm on my fourth pair of these (I think). I tend to pronate when I run, so I need some stability, but I like a lightweight shoe. The PureCadence is a great fit for me. I've heard rave reviews from other runners who run in different models of the Pure line and they love theirs as well.

I live in the sunny south, so the majority of my running with the exception of winter time, is done outside in the heat and humidity. I like to run in tank tops. Most of my tops are some type of Nike dri-fit. I prefer the Racer tank. I have quite a few dri-fit t-shirts as wells for those days that it's slightly cool or to use as another layer in the cold. I also have a few Reebok Dri Fit tanks that fit as well as Nike, but are slightly less expensive.

I am very loyal to my Nike Tempo running shorts. With the exception of a few pairs of monogrammed shorts from Old Navy (their brand is great) and another brightly patterned pair I picked up at Dick's Sporting Goods, all of my running shorts are Nike Tempos. I just love them.

Almost as important as the type of shoes you run in is the type sock you wear. I doubt it will surprise you that I run in Nike socks. I like Nike's dri-fit no-show socks. I also like the no-show socks from Finish Line. It's their in-house brand and in my opinion, they are as good as Nike's. Mine have a little more cushion than my Nike socks and I like to wear those when I'm doing a longer run.

As far as other gear is concerned, I have a pair of compression socks that I like to wear after some longer runs. I bought these Red Lion Neon Glide compression socks from last year and love them. I didn't want to spend $45 or more on compression socks since I wasn't sure if I would like them and because I'm not a half marathoner (typically) or a marathoner and I don't feel the need for compressions socks running 5Ks and 10Ks. I will say that buying these socks is about the best $15 I've spent on non-essential gear. I wore them after my half last year and wear them around after 7-8 milers. I don't run in them though.

Finally, I don't ever race without my Garmin. Kevin gave me a Garmin Forerunner 110 for Valentine's Day a few years ago and I love it. If you're interested in purely time, distance and pace, I'd suggest this model. It also comes with a heart rate monitor. 

What are your running must-have items?

Running Smiles

Running Smiles. "Why that name?" you may ask. Two reasons: I love running and I love smiling. And running makes me smile.

I've always been active. I started running consistently when I was a teenager, so I've been at it for almost fifteen years now. In late 2011, I ran a 5K for fun. That first 5K got me hooked on racing and since then, I've run more 5K's and 10K's than I can count with a half marathon thrown in there, too.

My favorite distances to race are the 5K and 10K. I like to go fast! You can find me racing most Saturdays in the Spring and Fall.

Healthy living is extremely important to me. I believe in treating my body well and in being a good example for our boys.

I live in beautiful South Carolina with my sweet husband and our two precious boys. I work full-time as a director of marketing and pr. In my spare time, you can find me cheering on our boys at soccer and t-ball, soaking up the sun with my husband and filling our days with fun. Oh yeah, you just might see me running, too!