Monday, January 23, 2017

Gettysburg Marathon Training : Week 7

What a week!  I had a ton of firsts in my seventh week of marathon training- first group run, first long run without music/podcast, first run in a new pair of shoes, first evening speed workout, and first 30+ mile week.  I had some great workouts and I'm excited to share them!  Here we go:


2.5 miles / 9:07 pace
After work, Dan wanted to go for a run so I joined him for some easy miles.  He's starting to get too fast for me to run with him on my easy days!  My legs were a bit sore from my long run but the short miles helped to stretch them out.


6 miles / 8:21 pace
I was planning on taking this as a rest day, but after checking the weather and seeing a 60 degree, clear day on Tuesday and a 40 degree, rainy day on Wednesday I switched it up.  I headed to North Park after work, and it got dark really fast!  I didn't have a headlamp with me (stupid mistake) so I used my cell phone as a flashlight.  It made the workout a bit harder, but I still got it done.

After warming up for a mile, I did one mile at a 7:30 pace, jogged for a few minutes, then ran a 15:00 tempo at an 8:10 pace.  Jogged for a few more minutes, then ran as hard as I could for 1/2 mile and cooled down for a mile.  It was a tough workout, especially in the dark and with hills thrown in, but I was happy to get through it!


Rest Day!
Much needed rest day!  I did my yoga and core workout in the evening.


4.5 miles / 9:27 pace
I went for an easy run around town before work and tested out a new pair of shoes!  Brooks just released a new version of the Pure Flows, which are my favorite shoes.  So far I'm liking them, but I'll share more thoughts after I've run with them more.


Rest Day!


14 miles / 9:19 pace
For my long run, I joined the Pro Bike and Run group for 14 miles.  This group meets every week to train for the Pittsburgh Marathon, and I kept meaning to join them but would make excuses and skip it to run alone.  Finally, I told Jessie (who always joins them) that I would go this week so that I couldn't get out of it, and actually made it!  It was an absolute perfect day for a run, and I was definitely over dressed (tights, long sleeve and a vest!).  Good thing that I use long runs as dress rehearsals for race day :)

I went with the 9:30 pace group for a great run around the city- going through Oakland, South Side, and Station Square.  There were some hills thrown in there and some time on the Pittsburgh Marathon course, but I felt great the entire time.  I split off from the main group at around 8 miles to run with another women, and we ended up finishing the run with sub 9:00 miles!  It was my longest run in almost a year, and I felt strong and excited to keep training.  I'll definitely be back to join this group!


3.5 miles / 9:07 pace
It was another perfect day outside, and I decided to hit the trails for this run.  Dan and I went to Oakland so that he could stop by the library and I ran at Schenley Park.  I used to live in that area so that's where the majority of my runs were!  It was great to be back there.  I felt really sluggish and tired for the first half mile, then my muscles loosened up and my pace picked up.  I didn't keep an eye on my pace, so I was pleasantly surprised to see such a quick pace when I took it easy.

linking up with Holly from HoHo Runs and Tricia from MissSippiPiddlin and also with Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Marathon Training Gear

Hi everyone!  Now that I'm in the thick of marathon training (you can follow my weekly training logs here or read my first 1/4 recap here) I wanted to talk about some of the gear that I've been using.  Since the weather's been so awful with the majority of my runs being in temperatures below freezing, I've been sticking to a lot of the same pieces for most of my runs.  These are all tried, tested, and pass every test!  Here's what I'm loving:


Lululemon Run for Cold Pullover 
(no longer available, but jacket and vest still available in same line)
I got this as a splurge last year, and have definitely gotten my money's worth so far!  This is definitely the warmest piece that I own and has gotten me through some really rough, cold weather.

I've gotten base layers from Columbia's outlet for the past few years and wear them for all of the coldest runs.  I like how warm they are, but they're also breathable and don't trap in sweat.  I wear these under my pullover, with vests, or by themselves.  They're amazing!

I recently got this shirt and I'm already in love.  It has the weight and feel of a thin sweater and is SO cozy.  I kind of want to get it in every color and wear it every day.  Sooooo soft!  I have a few things from Saucony and they've always been high quality and great for running.


Lululemon Toasty Tech Tights 
(old model, similar pair at Athleta)
These were the first pants that I got from Lulu and I wear them constantly!  They have a really soft, fleecy lining that keeps me warm, and have lots of pockets to store keys and gels.  I absolutely love these!  I have a similar pair that I linked from Athleta as well, but nothing compares to the Lulus.  If they release them again I'll be picking up a backup pair for sure.

Pretty much all of my capris are from Target, and they're my favorite.  I prefer wearing capris over shorts when it's warmer out, so anything above 40 degrees and I'm wearing these.  I also like to wear these when I'm running at the gym or doing yoga.


These were my first non-Brooks shoes in a really long time and I really like them!  I picked these up for cheap on Amazon since they're an older model, but they're still great.  I wear these for longer runs and find them to be comfortable and supportive enough without being too heavy.  I usually wear neutral shoes and would recommend trying these out!

For any shorter runs or speed workouts I wear my Launch 3's from Brooks.  I got these when I wasn't able to find the older Pure Flows (because the 5's were AWFUL), and found these to be pretty similar.  They aren't as cushioned as my favorite Pure Flows, but are really lightweight and comfortable.  I'm always finding these discounted online and in stores, so if you want to try out a cheap, reliable pair of shoes check these out.


If you're looking for a great pair of wireless headphones for running- get these.  Not only are they reasonably priced at less than $100, but they stay in my ears no matter how fast I'm running or how sweaty I get.  They also have a great battery life and the sound quality is really good.  I really like these and would recommend them!

I got this watch a few years ago, and it still works great!  There are great running features and programs on the watch (as well as the ability to use it indoors and on a treadmill), and also works for swimming and biking.  Compared to other smart/fitness watches this is an absolute steal and I absolutely love it.

What are some of your favorite brands?
What shoes are you wearing now?

linking up with Amanda

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Gettysburg Marathon Training : Week 6

Hi everyone!  Another week has come and gone and it was a really good one.  With the exception of one run (which I'll get into below and how I'll fix this going forward) I felt really good and I'm proud of my paces.  It's been really fun to see how much I'm growing this training cycle just by putting in hard work and staying consistent.  

Here's a look at my week in workouts.  I'm still doing daily yoga and a core workout twice a week!


Rest Day
I don't normally take Mondays off, but my legs were tired and it was FREEZING out in the morning.   In the evening I did my core workout and yoga video as usual.


4.25 miles / 9:24 pace

Snowy runs are the best..just look at that beautiful view!  I brought my YakTrax to work and ran along the river while it was snowing pretty hard.  It felt great out and this was a really good run!


6 miles / 8:22 pace

It was a really warm morning, so all of the snow from yesterday melted into an icy mess.  I decided to run on a different section of the river trail than usual (for locals- I went on the Jail Trail) which is flat and perfect for speed work.  Today's workout was 1 mile at 8:10, 1 mile at 7:50, rest and repeat.  My legs felt really heavy and tired, and slipping around on the ice didn't really help, but I somehow made it through this workout.

I had a realization during this run that I need to switch speed work to the afternoon.  I've been having bad workouts when I do it before work because I just don't feel ready to "go" when it's still dark out and I'm half asleep!  I had my best workout when I went in the afternoon, so now that it's staying light out later I'll just do these after work (or during lunch time) and see if that makes a difference.


2.5 miles / 9:41 pace
Dan wanted to run, so I went for an easy run with him.  I normally take this day off, but it felt really good to get out for a few miles.  To top it off, it was warm and lightly raining which is my favorite running weather.


3 miles / 9:39 pace
Another easy run with Dan.  We went a little further and he was feeling good, so we picked up the pace a bit.  


Rest Day

I stayed out pretty late (for animal!) on Friday night with some friends, so I was happy to switch my long run to Sunday.  Dan and I spent the morning making our first bath of beer which took about 3 hours.  It was really fun and we celebrated with a bottle of Yuengling afterwards.  A little later, I met up with Jessie for some food and drinks!  Luckily I got home earlier than Friday night so I could get a good night of sleep.


12 miles / 9:06 pace

I headed out to North Park for my long run and it was a perfect day!  The weather was mild without much wind or sun.  I listened to some tennis podcasts to get ready for the Australian Open and really enjoyed the run.  I kept my pace easy and steady for the first lap (5 miles) then picked it up steadily for the second lap.  For the final two miles I picked up the pace to half marathon goal at 8:00 and it felt really good!

Anyone else following the Australian Open?
What do you like to listen to during long runs?
Who else is doing Yoga Revolution?

Friday, January 13, 2017

Top Five Friday #81

Happy Weekend!  This is going to be a long weekend for me thanks to Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, and it's coming at a good time.  I can feel myself coming down with something, so I'm planning on getting a lot of rest this weekend!  I have some fun stuff to share today for Top Five Friday, so let's get to it.

2017 Podcasts

I'm a huge podcast addict and have been listening to them for the past few years on my runs.  There are so many new podcasts coming out this year, and I'm so excited!  I found a list of upcoming shows here, and just by the descriptions I'm ready to add these to my list.  30 for 30, the Serial spinoff, 36 Hours!?  I can't wait!!


If you're into sports, it's a really exciting time of year.  The national championship game was insane and super exciting (watch the highlights here), professional football is in playoffs (GO STEELERS), hockey and basketball are in full swing, and the first Grand Slam (Australia) is starting.  I love all of the excitement going on right now!

Scunci Hair Bands

To switch gears entirely, I wanted to share a life changing hair band that I recently got!  I always had a problem with pony tail holders slipping out of my hair and irritating me when I was running.  Nothing is worse than feeling your hair falling out and having to slow down to put it up again.  If you have this problem too, you need to get these hair bands!  They're rubbery, which makes them stay in place in your hair.  They're really comfortable too, so it doesn't yank my hair out (just be careful and take out each loop individually.)  I picked these up at Target, but you can also get them on Amazon.


I haven't shared the products that I've used up in a while, so here are some mini reviews!
Life Proof Perfect Hair Day Shampoo and Dry Shampoo - I got these two products, along with a conditioner, during Nordstrom's Annual sale.  I really liked both of them, particularly the dry shampoo.  It's definitely the best that I've ever tried and made my hair look amazing!  I just wish it wasn't so expensive!

Caress Body Wash - My favorite body wash!  It has such an amazing scent that lingers all day.

Secret Outlast Deodorant - This is the best deodorant that I've ever tried.  I've repurchased it over and over again!  It lasts all day on me, even if I work out, and has the best scent.  Plus, it never burns after I shave which is a major plus.

Zest Fruitboost Scrub - I love trying out body scrubs, but was really disapointed with this one.  It's not a thick scrub at all so it didn't seem to exfoliate my skin at all.  Plus, it was a pretty small container so it didn't last long and didn't even have a good smell!

Christophe Robin Hair Mask - I got this mask in a Play! by Sephora box and really liked it.  It made my hair so soft and healthy looking.  I wasn't a fan of the scent, and it's incredibly expensive, so I won't repurchase.  I'll stick with my $5 Aussie Hair Mask!

Olly Restful Sleep Gummies - These are seriously amazing.  I don't go to sleep without taking one of these now and I have the best sleep ever!  If you suffer from night terrors, sleep walking, or insomnia I think it's worth it to give these a try.

Clump Crusher and Falsies Mascara - My two favorite drugstore mascaras.  These are both so amazing and beat out any others that I have!  

New Songs

Here are some of the new songs that I've added to my running playlist:

Polarize - Twenty One Pilots

No Lie - Sean Paul

Bad Things - Machine Gun Kelly

Shape of You - Ed Sheeran

Party Monster - The Weeknd

What are your plans this weekend?
Who else has a long weekend?  Plans?
Who do you think will win the Superbowl?  the answer we're looking for are the Steelers
linking up with ErikaHeather, and Friday Five

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Gettysburg Marathon Training : Quarter Point Check In

Hi everyone!  I can't believe it, but I'm already 1/4 of the way done with marathon training.  I mentioned before that I was planning on doing a 20 week training program, and I just finished week 5.  Today I'll be talking about how training is going, what's worked and what hasn't, and what will change going forward.

A Look Back

I've been following Kara Goucher's Half Marathon Plan, which I really like.  So far, I've modified the long runs to be longer (started with 7.25 and I'm up to 10), and added an extra rest day each week (the plan calls for 1-2, and I've been doing 2-3 depending on how I feel.)  Here's a look at my training so far at a glance:

This week I officially switched over to a Marathon Training Plan (using this one from Women's Running).  The transition has been easy since the mileage is really similar.  I'm continuing with the speed workouts in Kara's plan because I really like the variety.

So far, my best workout has been the Ice Cream Sandwich.  This was supposed to be a really challenging workout, and I was happy to crush it!  I felt strong and focused the entire run.  The next week I had my worst workout (and the only one that I had to cut short so far)- the Pace Checker.  I was only able to make it through half of the reps and did not feel good at all during this workout!

What's Working

I've changed up a lot of things when I started this plan.  I honestly feel like a new runner and like I'm ready to take on the world!  Here are a few things that I've changed in my running routine (and life) that have been helping me:
  • Morning runs.  I always used to be an evening runner, but switched to morning running a few months ago.  It's always dark by the time I'm home now, so I know that if I didn't get my run in before work I would most likely skip or shorten every workout.  Getting my run done before work has been a game changer for me!
  • Daily yoga.  This has quickly become one of my favorite parts of the day!  It's so relaxing to end a long, hard day with some soothing yoga.  This is definitely helping my mind, body, and spirit!
  • Becoming a student of running.  I just finished Meb for Mortals, and one piece of advice that Meb gives is being a student of the sport.  This means learning as much as you can, absorbing information, and taking a general interest in the sport.  Lately I've been feeling like running has been on my mind 24/7, and it's definitely helped me get faster and stay motivated.  I'm listening to podcasts, reading books, following inspiring runners on social media, and learning as much as I possibly can.  If anyone has podcast/book/movie suggestions please let me know!

What's Not Working

At this point I'm really happy with my training.  I haven't had to miss any key workouts, and only cut back one speed session so far.  Other than that, I'm really proud of my paces and how I'm feeling.  My only complaint is something that I have no control over, and that's the weather.  I've lived in Pittsburgh my whole life and have been running here for almost 3/4 of my life, so I've learned to just suck it up.

But, it would be boring if I pretended that training is perfect, so here are some things that I want to work on in the next part of training:
  • Better fueling.  Most of the time on my long runs, I feel really hungry.  I need to work on eating a bigger breakfast and finding food that will sit well in my stomach.
  • Staying hydrated.  I have to admit that I haven't been very good about drinking water lately!  I've been trying to work on drinking more at work, so now I'll make it a goal to drink 50 oz a day.
  • Slower easy runs.  Mileage is increasing, so I want to slow down my easy runs.  I'm usually pretty good about keeping these nice and easy, but I can be way too competitive with myself and try to have a good pace.  I might need to start running without a watch on these runs to make sure I take them super easy!


What's Next

I'm scheduled for my first race of the year on Saturday- the Chilly Cheeks Challenge. To be honest, I'm not sure if I'm going to end up running this race. I haven't signed up yet, and the weather is predicting ice in the morning.  I'll keep watching the weather, but it's not really worth it to me to pay to run a race that could potentially injure me, or get in an accident on the way there!

Other than that, I'm going to be picking up the mileage for the next few weeks.  I considered the first quarter of training my build-up phase, and now I'm in the hard work phase.  Things are going to start to hurt and long runs are going to start getting long (my week 9 long run is going to be 16 miles!).  I feel like this part is going to be the toughest mentally for me, but if I can push through it I know I'll make it!

What races do you have coming up?
Have you made any big changes in your training lately?
Morning or evening runner?
linking up with Annmarie, Nicole, Michelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Gettysburg Marathon Training : Week 5

It was back to the real world this week!  I started back to work after a great holiday off, and just like I feared, it affected my running.  Going from sleeping in and running whenever I felt like it to getting up at 5:30 and running before work was not fun!  The weather also took a turn for the freezing, so half of my runs I stayed inside.  It wasn't the best week ever, but it's thankfully over.  I'm also 1/4 of the way done with training, and my "real" marathon training starts this week!

Now let's get into the weekly recap, starting with an overview:


3.13 miles / 30:00 / 9:35 pace
Happy New Year!  This was my final day off work, so I went to North Park with Dan and Selma.  I ran while they walked on the trails, then went to the dog park.  I wanted to do a run by time instead of mileage, which is why I didn't end on a whole mile!

I also continued on my Yoga Revolution this week, and did yoga every evening.  Each video was about 30 minutes long.


Rest day!
It was my first day back at work, so I decided to be nice to myself and take a day off running.  It was a long, tiring day, but I still did my core workout and yoga video in the evening.


3 miles / 26:10 / 8:43 pace
I'm not going to sugar-coat this one...this workout sucked.  I was actually looking forward to this workout from the first time I looked at the training plan- 8x800 at half marathon pace.  I've been crushing my speed workouts and hit my half marathon pace for 2 mile repeats last week, so this should be easy..right?  WRONG!

I did this run on the treadmill since it was icy and cold out, and during my half mile warmup I already started to sweat.  I hit my first two repeats with no problems, then by the third one I started to feel REALLY hot and dizzy.  I'm not sure what happened, because I was drinking water the entire time.  I made it through one more repeat, then decided to stop.  I was feeling like I would fly off the treadmill at any point, so I just jogged a half mile to cool down and left.  Definitely not a good workout, but I know one bad session won't ruin my training.


Rest Day!
Took my normal day off running, and spent the evening with core and yoga.


4 miles / 38:20 / 9:35 pace
I was planning on running outside until I saw that it was in the single digits with a real feel of below zero!  I kept it on the treadmill and felt fantastic.  


9 miles / 1:21:20 / 9:02 pace
It was another cold day, but I had to do this run outside!  I don't have a treadmill at home or a gym by my house, so I had to suck it up.  I won't lie and say that it got better as I ran, because I was still freezing when I finished!  My phone and watch also kept glitching and shutting off, so I was happy to finish this run.  Overall, I felt pretty good though and just wanted the run to be over.


4 miles / 37:20 / 9:20 pace
Just a nice easy run around the neighborhood during halftime of the Steelers game.  It was another cold day, and I took it easy.  Nothing exciting to say about this one!

What do you do after a bad workout?
Did anyone else struggle this week?
What races do you have coming up?

Friday, January 6, 2017

Top Five Friday : Best of 2016

I think it can safely be said that 2016 was insane.  Not only was it was an Olympic and Election year, but there were so many ups and downs that Disney World might make a rollercoaster in honor of this year.  It was also the most amazing and life-changing year for me where my entire world got flipped upside down (in the best way possible).  I don't know if any year will top this one for me, personally.

Here are the top five moments of my year:

Getting married in Belize

This entire trip was so incredible!  We did a ton of fun things like snorkeling, exploring Mayan ruins, zip lining, horseback riding, and going through caves.  I don't think anything can ever top this trip, not to mention the fact that we got married in the most beautiful setting ever.

Buying our first house

It's crazy to think that at this time last year, we were barely starting our house buying process.  It's been a fun process and I love being a home buyer.  Our house might be tiny and nothing special, but it's absolutely perfect for us!

Becoming a vegan

I just passed the sixth month of being a vegan, and it's absolutely changed my life for the better.  I feel more energetic and healthier than ever, I get to try out fun new recipes every week, and I feel better about what I'm eating.   I'm also happy that I've been able to make this diet change with Dan, and it's inspired him to be more healthy.

Changing careers

It took me a while and a lot of interviews to get here, but I got my dream job last year!  Back when I was in high school and looking at colleges, I picked Penn State because of their College of Information Sciences and Technology.  I had a career in mind and worked really hard to make that dream a reality.  I started working in my current position right after I got married last year, and it's been so amazing.  Now I'm one of those people who is excited to go to work every day and gets to do something fun, new, and challenging every day!  I feel really lucky to have my job and it's definitely made a huge impact in my life.


Sure, this wasn't my best or most consistent year of running ever, but it was still a great year.  I set a PR in the half marathon, and got to race in Vancouver.  I also ran over 1,000 mile in 2016, which is my highest ever.  After a semi-disappointing year, I'm ready to bounce back stronger than ever!

Five Best Purchases

To round out the year, I thought it would also be fun to share my five favorite things that I bought this year:

Thug Kitchen Cookbook - I've tried so many recipes from this book and have loved all of them.  They're easy recipes to follow and everything has been delicious.  I'm planning on picking up the other books in this series and would recommend it to vegans, vegetarians, or even omnivores!

Hammock - I picked this up during Amazon Prime Day, and it was the most random but exciting purchase.  I used this every single day when it was nice out (ohh how I miss that).  Nothing was better than reading a book, sipping wine, and swinging on a hammock at the end of the day.  I can't wait for it to warm up so I can be out there again!

Nespresso Vertuo - Definitely the most splurge-y item on my list, but the thing that I get the most use out of year-round.  I love coffee and can not beat the taste that comes from this machine.  Not only does it make amazing coffee and espresso, but it also looks sleek and is really fast.

Polar Fleece Thermal Blanket - Maybe a silly item to share, but this has seriously been a life (or at least sleep) saver for me.  If you freeze at night like me, or just want to have something really soft and warm to cuddle up with at night, you need to pick up this blanket.  It's cheap and amazing.

Amazon Echo - I'm not the only person who's including this on my best purchases list, and for good reason!  I love the Echo and use it daily.  I keep it in the kitchen so that I can listen to music, a podcast, or the news while I cook.  It also has so many cool features that I could devote an entire blog post to it.  Basically put- I love this machine.

What are your favorite moments from the year?
Best purchases?

inking up with ErikaHeather, and Friday Five