A Dismal December Calls for Jumpstart January

To say that December has been a less than ideal training month is an understatement. Between my travel, “the incident,” the endless rain, and a few lazy mornings thanks to the craziness that is the holidays, December has done little to help propel me to the finish line of the Princess Half Marathon that is a mere six weeks away.

Despite the fact that I despise running in the cold, I am confident that I will be ready for the Glass Slipper Challenge in February. With such a short amount of time to go until my races, I have three items in my arsenal to help me get finish line ready.

First, did I mention how much I hate running in the cold? I really cannot stand the way my body feels when I run outside in frigid temps, yet my favorite races always seem to be held in February, and I am not a fan of the treadmill. My husband, and coach, hooked me up this Christmas with an array of cold weather running gear. My favorite new accessory is the Under Armour Coldgear Infrared Reflective Beanie. It is super warm, has a hole in the back for my ponytail, and, of course, it’s pink. Being both warm and well accessorized will definitely help with those last few long runs I have to get in before February. 

Second, I always seem to eat terribly during the month of December. Once Thanksgiving hits, it’s pretty much a downhill spiral until the new year begins. Having tried all of the fad diets and miracle products out there that promise to melt away those pesky December pounds, it wasn’t until I made the decision to change my lifestyle that I became more healthy and lost weight as a result.

 I participated in the Arbonne 30 Days to Healthy Living program last January and truly experienced how clean eating can change everything. Sure, I lost 14 pounds during the 30 day cleanse, but the healthy living practices I learned through participating have helped me run faster, sleep better, and have a stronger immune system, thus staying well.

I am not participating in the full cleanse this January since I am in training mode, but I am using some of my favorite products to stay strong and feel great. I love the vegan protein for my morning smoothie and homemade protein bars, and I can’t live without the probiotic. With all of my travels, the probiotic has kept me well when traditionally I would catch a cold everytime I hopped on an airplane. They also have a PhytoSport line with a pre-workout, post-workout, and hydration product. We love them! As a bonus, John loves his Arbonne as much as I do, so it helps us both when training for races.

Finally, I may be the last person on the planet to discover podcasts, but I’m hooked, and I love that I can lose myself in listening to one while on a long run. I am currently listening to “Serial,” and “This American Life,” but have also discovered “Runner Academy,” which is a wealth of information on every facet of the sport of running. Running is such a mental sport and if I can focus on what I’m listening to instead of how much further I have to go, my long runs get easier and easier. Do you have a favorite podcast? Please share!

With just six weeks to go, I am getting really excited about my races. I have my Enchanted 10K running attire all ready to go (more on that soon!) and am working on the Princess Half outfit. Our reservations are made, FastPasses booked, and all that’s left are a few long runs before I’m Princess-ready. Thanks to my secrets weapons, I should be good to go!

In October, We Wear Pink

 

Race for the Cure (me, Jennifer, Amanda, Leslie, and Alicia)

 Every year, my friend, Jennifer Locke, and I run the Susan G. Komen North Mississippi Race for the Cure. It is an easy, but hilly, 5K for a great cause. I look forward to running this race each year because it is always a fun event, but what it represents means the most of all.

Literally, everything turns pink in October. A friend of mine pointed out recently that no one else has managed to brand themselves as strongly as Susan G. Komen, in that everything, the NFL, Yoplait, Twitter, literally everything and everyone proudly shows support by turning pink throughout the month of October. While the sea of pink serves as a reminder to see your doctor and as a call to action for giving financially to breast cancer research, for me, it is a reminder of someone very special who passed away far too early.

My Dooka, my paternal grandmother, was an extraordinary person. She was a writer, an incredible cook, and one of the most thoughtful, caring, and kind people around. She had breast cancer early in her life, and while the disease isn’t what caused her death, it was something she went through. I miss her everyday. I know she would absolutely adore my husband, John, and my sweet, energetic almost five-year-old would be showered with love more than he can begin to fathom. I know this, because I was the constant recipient of her unbelievable capacity to love. 

It rained a lot in Tupelo this week. So much so, that I missed three training days and was actually excited when the 5:15 a.m. alarm went off Wednesday morning so I could get back out there and put in the much needed miles. The feeling of wanting to get out of the bed and run is foreign to me. Why would I leave the comfort of the covers to work hard, sweat, and push myself harder physically than I ever have before? Because, I am a runner, and it feels great to say that. 

The support of friends and family who ask me how my training is going, are reading this blog, have given to my St. Jude Heroes fundraiser for the Glass Slipper Challenge, and especially the encouragement of my coach (who patiently listens to my complaining!) are keeping me going, and while there are many training miles to go, I cannot thank you enough for cheering me on. But of course, I know that if my Dooka were still here, she would be my biggest cheerleader of all.

Even the U-5 Titans wore pink during their soccer games this month

Running Role Models

Sunday morning I sat on my front porch with a hot cup of coffee and watched the runners in the Tupelo Marathon and Half Marathon run past our house. The course was a 13.1 mile loop, so those running the full marathon came past twice. We were at mile 8 and 16, providing a cool shower from the sprinkler John set up for the participants to run through and a little comic relief from Miles running around in his pajama top and underwear cheering on the runners.

One of the amazing runners in the Tupelo Marathon

One of the amazing runners in the Tupelo Marathon

I am in awe of marathoners, both mentally and physically. Watching the runners yesterday, some struggling and others looking like it was the easiest thing they had ever done, it made me think about the runners that I admire most. In training for the 19.3 miles that will make up the Run Disney Glass Slipper Challenge, I thought, what better time to gain inspiration for those long runs, than from those whose running prowess I hold in the highest esteem. Each of them has an important attribute that I hope to imitate on my road to running like a princess.

Hard Work

My dad is a marathoner. He finished the New York Marathon and many other 26.2 mile races. He is my model for work ethic, even though I will never be as hard a worker as I have seen him be over all of my years on this planet. He works harder than anyone else I know, and that’s why he is a wonderful example as a husband, father, pharmacist, runner, and so much more. You have to work hard to run distance races, even on the days where all you want to do is hide under the covers and not come out. When I ran my very first half marathon, I remember the amazing feeling of crossing that finish line, knowing that I had accomplished something great. The only thing that felt better than receiving that medal was hearing my dad tell me how proud he was of me for working hard to train and finish the race. When I don’t want to lace up my running shoes and hit the pavement, I will think about my dad to make sure that I put in the hard work necessary to run the 19.3 miles that lie ahead.

Dedication

My Aunt Jennie is the definitive runner. She has been a runner as long as I can remember. She looks like a runner and is fast, as in, wins races fast. I can’t count the number of races she has run. She is a running role model because her dedication to being a runner is something I desperately want to imitate. I can remember being on vacation with her, or it being a holiday, and no matter what, she completed her run for the day. Her pace per mile is something I will only attain if I end up in an actual zombie apocalypse, but until then, I will strive to be as dedicated to the sport as my incredibly fabulous aunt.

Determination

Lisa Martin wasn’t always a runner, but one day she chose to become one. Not only did she decide to run, she decided to write about it. She was determined to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon and shared every detail of her journey to the magical finish line through her blog “Born to Run…in a Princess Marathon.” I started reading the blog early into her training for the race and she was the very first person who made me think, “I can do that!” Her hysterical, brutally honest words helped me muster the courage to sign up for the Rock ‘N’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon in 2012, and the rest is history. I will definitely continue to channel my inner-Lisa on this road to 19.3 that I am determined to conquer.

Commitment

To run a distance race you have to be completely committed or you will not be prepared for the task at hand. I have never met anyone more committed to running than my husband, John. When he decides to do something he doesn’t just jump in with both feet, he cannonballs in making the biggest splash possible. He gets up most mornings before 5:00 a.m. to get the miles in he needs. I watched him train wholeheartedly for the St. Jude Memphis Marathon, committed to running 26.2, all while fundraising for the kids of St. Jude. Unfortunately, his race was cancelled the day before due to an ice storm that hit Memphis, but had he been able to run, he was completely prepared because of his commitment to crossing the finish line.

Rock 'N Roll New Orleans Half Marathon...our very first!

Rock ‘N Roll New Orleans Half Marathon…our very first!

I am both nervous and extremely excited about the Glass Slipper Challenge in February. My training is going well and I am so close to meeting my fundraising goal as a St. Jude Hero, and thanks to my running role models who have taught me hard work, dedication, determination, and commitment, I can already feel that medal around my neck, and it feels great!

 

Confessions of a 10K

Yesterday, I ran my first 10K as part of my training plan for Run Disney’s Glass Slipper Challenge in February. Not only was it the furthest I have run thus far, it was my fastest 5K to date. I feel stronger, faster, and more confident overall as a runner. Through pounding the pavement over the past few years, I have learned a thing or two that I hope will help you during your next run.

Dress the part

When I started training for my very first half marathon several years ago, I left the house in a pair of tennis shoes I had owned since college. Needless to say, that first mile (and the only one I ran that day) was brutal. The absolute most important part of becoming a runner is wearing the right shoes. Take this from a girl who knows a thing or two about shoes. Go somewhere and get fitted for the right type of shoes. Let them watch you run and determine what style and fit will work best for you.

While I was running that first mile in the college shoes, (and, I use the term running loosely) I was wearing a cotton t-shirt and shorts. The further I ran, the bigger and longer the t-shirt got until, properly accessorized, it could have been a dress. That doesn’t make for a comfortable run. Wearing the appropriate moisture wicking fabric, whether for those humid summer runs or frosty winter miles, will make all the difference.

Slow your roll

The very first mile I ran as an adult training for a half marathon (think college tennis shoes) was at approximately 16 minutes per mile. I have gotten much faster since then and am always proud when I get more comfortable at a faster pace. One of my biggest problems as a runner is starting out too fast right out of the gate. I may feel great at a fast pace right when I begin the run, but I know realistically what pace I can sustain throughout my run, no matter the miles. This is especially an issue when running longer distances.

I started running with a Garmin Forerunner 10 recently and it does everything I need to slow my roll on long distance runs. My husband/trainer has the fancy version that tells you everything including what you want for breakfast that morning, but the Forerunner 10 does just what I need it to do to slow me down, tell me how far I’ve gone, how long it has taken me to go that far, and how many glorious calories I have burned.

Get it over with

There is nothing more I love to do than hit snooze. I am a super productive person during the day, but there is just something about getting out of the bed each morning that I absolutely hate to do. When it comes to running, getting out of the bed when the alarm goes off is key to my success. My best runs happen first thing in the morning, when it is just me, God, and the road.

I know I am committed to training for a race when I am able to get out of the bed in the morning and run. This race has been on my bucket list for so long that I am uber-motivated to get up and go each day, maybe it is because I will get to run through Cinderella’s castle dressed as a princess, but definitely because I am using this opportunity to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Hospital. I am half way to my goal of raising $2,000 and every little bit counts, so please help me help the kids of St. Jude by donating here.

A lifetime’s worth of thoughts go through your mind when you’re out for a run, and these are just a few of those thoughts that flitted through my head Saturday morning.

 

 

 

 

Becoming a Real Runner

I’ve completed three half marathons and a plethora of 5Ks, but I still don’t consider myself to be a real runner. Real runners run single digit miles, look great in their running attire, and use words like “VO2 max.” I do none of those things…yet.

 My husband is the real deal. He runs full marathons, places in the top three in his age group in races, and always knows exactly what his VO2 max is. And now, he can add trainer to this list. He is training me to become a real runner so I can complete the Disney Glass Slipper Challenge faster and stronger than any other race I have ever run.

He has put a great plan together for me to use while I’m training and I’ve included it below. If you’re looking for a training plan that will get you in tip top shape to run your first half marathon or prep you for your next great race, feel free to take his plan and make it yours. The spreadsheet includes three tabs, one for running, another for core work, and a third for arms. I hope it will help make you a real runner too.

Half Marathon Training Plan

 

Run Disney

I’m planning my next runcation and it happens to include completing a bucket list item in February 2016. Run Disney’s Glass Slipper Challenge is part of the Princess Half Marathon Weekend at the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando. Participants run the Enchanted 10K Saturday and the Princess Half Marathon Sunday morning. Both races meander through Disney parks past throngs of cheering spectators and every single Disney Princess in the kingdom. Perhaps I am running because it’s an excuse to wear a tiara and a costume as an adult. Or maybe I have just found yet another excuse to make a trip to the “Happiest Place on Earth.” As it turns out, I have found great motivation to get in the best running shape of my life thanks to a wonderful coach, who happens to be my husband, and the fact that I am running for a cause. I have an opportunity to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as part of the challenge and I jumped at the chance to support this miracle of a hospital just 90 minutes up the road from my hometown.

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I have a goal of raising $2,000 to support the children’s hospital that changes lives on a daily basis, all while providing its services free of charge. I look forward to using this blog to share my journey towards running like a princess and hope that you will support me by making a donation to St. Jude at the link below. I am so excited about being on the run in Disney World and will rock my tutu proudly knowing that I have helped make even a small difference in the life of a child.

DONATE TO ST. JUDE HERE!

http://fundraising.stjude.org/site/TR/Heroes/Heroes?px=3532767&pg=personal&fr_id=45131

Wanderlust

Wanderlust: a noun wan·der·lust ˈwän-dər-ˌləst: a strong desire to travel

Thanks to extremely generous parents who gave me the opportunity to travel at a very early age, I caught the wanderlust and it has never let go. Today, I am blessed to serve my community as the public relations and international sales director for the Tupelo Convention & Visitors Bureau, enabling me to travel all over the world, telling the story of my special hometown. With travel comes exceptional culinary experiences. With exceptional culinary experiences comes not so exceptional pounds. I began running to make sure that I could still enjoy those culinary delights, and found that some of the most unique places can be found off the beaten path, simply on the run.