Oct 01

A Smooth Sea Never Made a Skilled Sailor – The Great Race (10K) Recap

smooth sea

On Sunday I ran my second 10K in 4 months. The first one was in June on Father’s Day. My time for that June race was 1:00:39, a 9:44 pace. A 9:44 that I had to work for, struggled for. And so it began. A summer full of struggles. And, although I went on to run 3 additional races between that one and Sunday’s race, they were primarily about survival, just making it to the finish line. There was no strategy, no final push at the end and a lot of heartbreak.

Yes, I was beyond being caught in a stormy sea this summer, I was in a Tsunami. A mix of physical and mental limitations that prevented me from moving forward with my running. After the problem was identified and I sought therapy for it, I was coming to realize more and more that the physical symptoms were being driven primarily by my mental frame of mind. Distress from not being able to perform causing stress and physical tension. This is really a blog post in itself and surprisingly one I’ve seen on many, many other running blogs. (I’m not the only mental case out there)

I want to put that aside for now and talk about Sunday. Sunday was a PR for me, but it was so much more significant because it was the first time in I can’t remember how long, that I was able to manage a race. I was in charge, not my physical problems or mental baggage. Since things turned around for me, I’ve been running good – really good. Every week I’m getting a touch faster and feeling more confident so when I lined up on Sunday, I KNEW I was going to PR. It was the greatest feeling in the world and one I won’t take for granted again. I’m not angry about the summer I had though. I pushed through the hardest of runs and at the end of the day, it made me a better runner, a smarter runner and an extremely grateful runner. I find myself embracing the pain when I push simply BECAUSE I CAN. Every run is a chance to do better than the last.

“There will come a day when I cannot do this. Today is not that day”

To summarize this quickly, miles one and two were fast at a 7:51 and a 7:34 respectively. The third mile leveled out a little and it actually felt a little warm to me as we headed down Fifth Avenue, much warmer than the forecast projected. I was pushing my pace and I felt it, but I still felt relatively good. I slowed to an 8:00 pace and knew I had one more faster mile before the Birmingham bridge. I sped up again in the 4th mile to a 7:43 and prepared for the uphill bridge mile. It’s not necessarily a steep hill, but it is long and it comes after 4 miles of hard work. I made it a goal not to slow my mile pace over an 8:15 knowing it would start to affect my overall pace. I managed that pretty well ending up with an 8:17 for the mile which wasn’t too far over.

Then it was go time. Another downhill until it leveled out to the finish. I knew I needed an 7:55 or faster to PR and YOU NEVER SLOW DOWN ON A POTENTIAL PR. I started moving faster and was determined to make this my fastest mile. It was at a 7:23. I was moving pretty good and feeling great. I made the final turn and saw that I was going to PR AND BREAK 49 minutes so I gave it one last push to cross at 48:54. 11 minutes and 45 seconds better than my June 10K time, and 30 seconds faster than my 2011 10K PR. I ran faster than I did 4 years ago and that’s pretty awesome. Plus, I finished 17 out of 337 in my age group!

Great Race Finish

Some other highlights from Sunday:

I shared the course with these lovely ladies who ALL raced well Sunday!
AND…..I got to say hello to my college roommate whom I haven’t seen in 23 years. She told me she was coming into town for the race and I told her text me when you get to the start line. J it was brief, but so nice to see her. :) What next? Of course I plan on making this most out of this great running streak, possibly the beginning of a whole new level for me, and continue to work and drive forward. I have my goal race, the half marathon in 16 days where I will be looking to break my 2013 PR of 1:50:02. AND…I’m hoping it’s by more than 2 seconds. I’d love to see a 4 in there.

For some reason, I can always remember the exact details of every race I’ve ever PRd. Do you remember all of your PR’s very distinctly?

Sep 28

Monday Motivation

Sep 18

I’m back from “Vacation Land”

I’m Baaack! Back from the Golden Coast. I touched down back in Pittsburgh Monday morning at 6:30 am and have been non-stop ever since. by the time noon on Tuesday hit and I was fully submerged back at work, vacation already felt like it happened two months ago! I won’t bore you with the day-by-day, blow-by-blow details of my trip but will give you the high level “readers digest” version and some pics – sound good?

The vacation started in San Francisco with the airline losing my bag – aaahhh! That is the first time this ever happened to me but I tried not to let it rattle me. I carried on everything that was valuable INCLUDING MY RUNNING SHOES – thank Jesus! I wore athletic clothes on the plane so I was good if I decided to run along the bay during our short time there. (which I did of course)

We stayed on Fisherman’s Wharf and toured the Pier 39 shops which was okay – kind of like a boardwalk really, except you have the view of the Golden Gate Bridge, which I never get tired of. I was reminded that clothing is OPTIONAL in San Fran. I’ll just leave it at that and also remembered, again, how much I LOVE the vibe on the West Coast. Yes, I would still move there. Of course one of the highlights was waking up the next morning and running along the bay, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge in the backdrop. And, I have to mention the sea lions that lay in the sun on Pier 39. They totally made my day!

San Francisco

The next day it was off to Napa and Sonoma. I love this part of California. So pretty and quaint, yes quaint and relaxing. Our intention, of course, was to visit a bunch of wineries, drink lots of great wine and EAT. We had several wineries in mind and two tours scheduled, but all-in-all we weren’t on a strict schedule and had plenty of time to relax. We traveled with a great couple, Anthony and Gabrielle which made the trip that much more enjoyable. Here’s where we went…

Artesa Winery - the had a great cabernet with a jalapeno finish!

Artesa Winery – the had a great cabernet with a jalapeno finish!

Sparkling Wine at Domaine Carneros – with snacks :)

Thursday night we went into downtown Napa and watched the Steeler game. It was kinda weird to be watching the game at 5:30. But fun.

More Wineries:

Spottswoode Tour and Tasting

Castello di amorosa and Jarvis wineries

And a couple more of my favorite shots:
We ate and drank our way through Napa and Sonoma and had a great time. I was able to get some running in and the cool dry air was as pleasing as I remember from the last time I was there. The plan is to go back year after next – we’ll need to stock up on wine again. :)




Sep 02

Why intervals are good for us, but pretty much suck the big one!

IMG_2700.JPGAt some point yesterday, I decided that I should get back into the routine of doing some normal speed work. By some miracle of the running gods above, I have my mojo back and I’m running my old paces again. I’m not going to speculate, question, guess, or do anything to upset the apple cart. I’m just going to take this as a sign to fully appreciate how good I feel right now and make some progress while I can. I’ve been doing a ton of work on the treadmill and have been getting comfortable with running half marathon pace for a couple weeks, which can be considered speed work, but I wanted to get a little more aggressive. Since yesterday when I made this decision, I was dreading it.

Intervals – whether 400, 800, or mile repeats are brutal, if executed properly. This morning, I picked my poison – 800 repeats. 6 of them with 400 meter recovery laps in between. According to my ultimate goal, running a marathon at an 8:50 pace, I should run my 800’s at roughly 3:50 or better. Rumor has it that if you can do 10 of these at the desired pace, I’d be ready to run a marathon in the time I ran the intervals, translated into hours of course. So – 3 minutes 50 seconds per interval X 10, turns into 3 hours and 50 minutes for 26.2 miles. So, does that mean I’m 60% there. I’m going to give myself a yes on that one – just to make me feel extra awesome today!

Back to how brutal they are. I get up early. Very early to run. I’ve been a morning runner for years but damn it, most days, it pretty much sucks. The alarm is set for 4:45, I typically hit snooze once and lay there for another 9 minutes pissed until I can’t hold it off anymore. I get my coffee – yeah, yeah, I know I should be drinking water first thing, but I need this savory drug to help wake me up. Then as the fog lifts off my brain, I remember I’m getting up to run some insane paces (for me) on the Treadmill and the dread sets in again.

We all know that intervals are awesome for us. They help awaken those fast twitch muscles and get our legs moving at a pace we hope to reproduce during a race. It also helps the seemingly fast paces feel a little more manageable. Since I knew I was going to drop the pace to a 7:41 or better on the repeats, I started the 800 meter warm up at an 8:27 pace. Fortunately over the past two weeks, that pace is becoming more manageable and I didn’t want to start too slow, making the transition to the faster pace too dramatic. I drop down and run my first 800 at a 7:41. Not too bad, but it still sucked, that will freakin’ wake you up!

Assuming I have to go 5 miles total, how many do I have to do?? I have a friend who has this chart that shows how many 800 you’ll have to do before you hit the desired mileage. I always say that I don’t need that stupid chart with all the “mumbo jumbo” on it, I can keep track in my head. It does suck when you lose track, sooooo alas, I did write the whole workout down on a post-it as a “guide” – I’m so busted. Anyway. I figure I have 6 of these roughly to complete, and all I need to do is keep track of how many I’ve done so far.


I get through the third interval and think – okay ½ way through. Good lord, ONLY half way through. I have to do this ALL over again. UGH, this sucks! Okay, let’s just get it done.

I’ll run faster, that will make them go quicker, suck less right? Wrongo – my treadmill has a little dot that blinks around a fake track on the screen letting me know that my lap is almost over. Now call me crazy, but when I’m running the 400 meter recovery lap, it motors along at the speed of sound barely giving me enough time to catch my breath. When I’m in the second lap of an 800 meter interval, that damn blinking dot is mocking me, moving like molasses. Blink, blink, blink – move damn it! It moves like that because right about this time, the pain starts to set in. The calves ache, the hamstrings are screaming and the legs just want to stop. this sucks! The lungs start burning and your huffing and puffing like a train. And that damn blinking, telling you it’s NOT over yet my friend. Blink, blink, blink. It’s a little maddening and certainly too early for this.

However, the satisfaction after one of these workouts is tremendous, especially when I hit my times like I did today. I find myself looking back and thinking “that really wasn’t that bad” forgetting all about the blinking, the burning and the occasional swearing. I’m celebrating a little inside and can’t wait to see how this session improves my performance over the next few runs. Interval times were as follows: 3:50, 3:50, 3:50, 3:50, 3:48, 3:46. The total runs was 5 miles at a 7:59 pace according to “fitsnap” and an 8:00 according to daily mile. It’s all in the rounding. Personally, I like the look of the 7:59 better. :)


    Have a great week!

Aug 26

Guess Who’s Back? Back Again?

IMG_2584.JPGF the Heat

F the Humidity


Cause, I’m back!

Thank you Eminem for the wonderfully obscene “Without Me” lyrics that inspired the title to this blog post.

My last run outside before today was Saturday, August 15, and by the end of the 9.25 miles, I seriously thought I had some kind of terminal illness that was slowly eating away at my insides. There could be no other explanation for the slow pace, the overwhelming fatigue, and violent vomiting. It was bad. If I could have seen myself on that trail around mile 6, I probably would have looked white as a sheet. I say all this rather jokingly, but I went home and slept for two hours – two hours!! After a nine mile run. There had to be something wrong.

I took 4 days off completely after that run and swore I wasn’t going outside again for a long time. The following Thursday I got back on the Treadmill. Then again on Friday, Saturday and yesterday. And, this is what transpired:

Thursday – 5 miles in 41:32 (8:18)

Friday – 5 miles in 42:50 (8:34)

Saturday – 13.1 miles in 1:55:12 (8:48)

Tuesday – 6 miles in 50:02 (8:20)

So, of course, I had to re-think my terminal illness theory. There’s nothing wrong with me. I ran a half marathon comparable to some of my race times, it just happened to be inside.

I’ve been waiting for a cool day to go outside again and today was vastly better than the typical August Pittsburgh day. The humidity wasn’t at an “Amazon Basin” like percentage and the temp barely hit 70. LOVE!!!! So all morning I was excited to go run outside. I was scrutinizing what I ate knowing I was going to run at lunch time. I had yogurt. Why did I have a yogurt? I hardly EVER eat yogurt and today decided to have one. The day I’m going to run outside. I spent some time worrying about that. Worry about having enough carbs, but not too much.

Do you see the ridiculousness of this? I’m going to run 4 freaking miles. It’ll be over before my stomach can even figure out what’s happening – haha. So I stopped worrying about it. I just wanted my first run outside to be perfect, no excuses.

I ran. Outside. I felt good, but I didn’t want to look at my watch because what if I felt like I was going fast and it was really a 10:00 mile in disguise? I heard the first mile click over and I couldn’t resist, I had to look….. 8:22. Okay, not bad, but not fair either because that whole first mile was downhill. I kept going, talking to myself “it’s just like the treadmill, no harder, your legs are moving the same speed”. I thought about my upper body “keep everything above the waist relaxed, let the legs do the work, deep…even…breaths”. Listened to my music. Mile 2……. 8:38. I’m doing it, see, you aren’t crazy or sick.

I ran an 8:50 the third mile (slow incline, a hill and an a-hole in a yellow jeep almost running me over slowed me down) Yep, a guy turning right out of his company parking lot almost hit me. He ONLY looked left and then put his foot on the gas when he saw no cars were coming – never even looked right. I had to jump out of the way too quickly to even flip him the bird and he looked at me like I was at fault! Hey buddy, I’m pretty sure if you hit and kill me – it’s going to be your fault. I mean people walk all over this park at lunch time. Sheesh!

4th mile, back down to an 8:37 to finish the run. I was so happy I almost cried. All those struggles. Falling and getting back up, brushing myself off over and over and over. All of my despair, all of my worrying could simply be an issue with the weather. I can’t run in the heat and humidity.

I can’t run in the heat and humidity outside. Period. For now, I have to live by this one rule. Obviously, I can perform inside and when the conditions are good outside as well.

So bring on the fall, the 40 degree mornings, the tights, the gloves, the hats and yes, maybe even some snow. I’m ready to get moving again. I have 52 days until the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon. Maybe a PR isn’t out of the question. :)




Aug 20

Chelsea Collective Grand Opening: Women’s Fitness Apparel Done Right!

There are few things that can put the bounce back into my fitness routine like new FITNESS APPAREL! That’s why I was thrilled and honored to be included in the Chelsea Collective Grand Opening event this past Tuesday evening. I was also encouraged to bring a friend, and who better to bring than my fitness and shopping protege, my daughter, Maddie.

We arrived at the store, which is located at Ross Park Mall on the upper level next to Nordstrom, signed in, had our picture taken (left) and were off exploring the store. There were some brands I recognized immediately and LOVE as staples and classics like Nike, Under Armour and Calia, but also brands that were new to me like Spiritual Gangster, Zobha, Lorna Jane, Onzie and Splendid.

The first thing I’m going to do when I arrive at any fitness apparel store is scope out the running gear. There are two pieces of gear that have to be absolutely right in my mind to make every run great – a good pair of running shoes and a great sports bra that fits just right. CC has those two things nailed down! They have a huge selection of Nike running and fitness shoes as well as New Balance and Saucony shoes. I LOVE the wall of shoes!

Next up, the sports bra selection. I absolutely dare you to go into this store and not find a sports bra that fits you! When I say they have selection, I mean they have serious selection! Anything from high intensity serious bounce control bras to soft, low impact delicate beautiful sports bras. Honestly, no need to ever go anywhere else.


As we continued to walk around, we had some refreshments (cucumber infused water) and snacks. The yogurt parfait bar was very colorful and delicious.

After checking out every last inch of the store, Madison started filling her hands, and half a fitting room with clothes she wanted to try on. I joined in and both of us had our hands full. Not only did I have some running gear, but some unique pieces for yoga as well. The fitting rooms were spacious, well lit and had a real boutique feel to them which I loved.

Our visit wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to the CC Selfie Booth for a few quick snapshots!

CC provided us with some great free goodies for attending the event and we also filled a large shopping bag full of cool gear for yoga and running. This store will be on our list of regular stops from now on. LOVE the fact that they carry gear for my running obsession, my yoga practice as well as my “athleisure” needs. :)


This party is going on ALL WEEKEND so be sure to stop by and check the store out for yourself.

This post is sponsored by Vocalpoint and Chelsea Collective. All opinions are my own.

Aug 19

Weekly Running Recap

I’m a few days late here with this but it was an incredible busy weekend and start to the week. Out Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings and barely home during the day. Monday night Yoga and a Grand opening party last night (more on that tomorrow) All fun stuff though so I can’t complain.

Last week started out great. I was all pumped up to do my pace run on the treadmill and I actually hit the pace without much of a problem. This is my half marathon pace by the way. My 1/2 PR is 1:50 or 8:24 pace, so I am just trying to shave a few seconds off per mile to come in under 1:50. I’m not giving up that goal just yet, despite my outdoor “limitations”.

 Wednesday, It was such a nice day out so since I always have my running stuff in my car, I decided to get a few miles in at lunch time. I am going to call these reckless miles – LOL. I just felt good so ran as fast as I could, not looking at the watch, no holding back the first mile, etc. As you can see, that’s probably why I slowed down in the 2nd and 3rd miles. Although, I was coming back up the hill to my office. Either way and whatever the pace, it just felt really good to run in the sunshine.

Since I was feeling so good Tuesday and Wednesday, I decided to run outside again on Thursday morning. It was perfect! Finally, a nice cool morning (57 degrees) with lower than normal humidity. I am NOT a summer runner and I can’t tell you how anxious I am for the fall weather to arrive. The goal for this run was to NOT STOP. it’s become a bad habit of mine during my outside runs and I wanted to prove to myself that I just don’t have to do it. 5 perfectly executed miles at a 9:17 pace with no stops.

 Finally all good news right? UGH! Not quite. Saturday I was pretty excited to get out on the Butler Freeport Trail, site of the very half marathon I’m training for. It was later in the morning since we were out the evening before, about 9:00, but I wasn’t worried because most of the trail is shaded and just gorgeous. I was going to do 5 miles out (slight uphill) and 5 miles back (downhill) so I knew the first 5 miles were going to be slow. They were, slow, but steady for the most part. I started to have a slight upset stomach as I closed in on mile 5 and I was grateful to be turning around and heading back to the car. Then around mile 6, I was violently ill. I threw up – very disgusting, and had the chills. After a few minutes I did feel a little better and did a combination run/walk  back to my car. So, I wouldn’t call this a very good run. I wasn’t drinking night before and didn’t eat anything out of the ordinary so I’m not sure why I got so sick. I even had a water bottle with me and was drinking enough, so I thought. I did still enjoy the trail and look forward to going back and I did see a cute snake that I almost stepped on.

I get so upset with these lousy weekend runs outside. Most of them have been pretty crappy. But I reminded myself that two years ago when I was training for the Lehigh Valley Marathon, I was having a really hard time with training in the summer. I would go out for my 18 or 20 mile run and barely make 16 because of the heat. I remember writing a blog post called “Desperately Seeking Twenty”. The marathon turned out to be not so good too. A really hot September morning and I had a bad race. The silver lining here is that about 3 or 4 weeks later, the cooler weather arrived and I PRd my half marathon with a time of 1:50, as I mentioned above.

The point is, I’m not going to give up trying to kick ass at this race in October. I may be struggling a little bit now, but when the weather breaks, I may become a completely different runner, like I do every year. Hope is right around the corner.

Other happenings this weekend: We attended a wedding at Fox Chapel Golf Club with many of our friends to celebrate Maggie and Don. What a beautiful event! Congratulations!

Sunday, I took Cooper to watch a Triathlon in North Park. I had some friends who were doing it and I kinda wanted to see what it was all about in case I wanted to give it a try someday. I was pretty impressed and thought it was so exciting to watch, particularly the way this one was all set up. I could watch a little piece of everyone’s race. Anyway, I think it is something I would like to try if I could just learn to swim better and not be afraid to move over 2 MPH on my bike – LOL. Just kidding, but seriously, I don’t like to go too fast. For right now I’m sticking with running, but it may be something in my future. Congratulations to Kelly, Mike and Stacey on a great race!

 Have a great rest of the Week!

Aug 14

Recipe of the week – Grilled Veggie Pizza


I don’t think I’ve met a pizza I didn’t love. I mean, I’ll even eat “bad” pizza and enjoy it. It’s my favorite food, behind almonds of course.

I’m not sure if I would call this a recipe as much as I would call it an idea. This is my “healthier”, more veggie-filled version of a pizza that’s so easy, looks pretty, and tastes delicious!

I make this often in the summer and if you’re entertaining, it looks pretty all sliced up and served on a large white plate as an appetizer.

What you will need: Whole what pita bread (4), marinara sauce or pizza sauce, olive oil and a variety of vegetables. I like to include, but you’re not limited to:

  • Bell Peppers (green, orange, yellow or red)
  • Zucchini
  • Red Onions
  • Mushrooms

Preheat your grill on medium heat, then Preheat the oven to about 400 degrees and brush olive oil on the pita bread (not too much). While the oven is heating, slice all the veggies into bite size pieces. Try to make them as uniform in size as possible so they cook evenly on the grill. Place all the veggies in a large zip lock bag and add either 1 tablespoon of olive oil with spices, or a salad dressing for some flavor. I love Annie’s Tuscany Italian Dressing. Shake the contents well until all vegetables are coated.

Place the vegetables in a basket designed for the grill. I got mine at Williams Sonoma last year, but this year’s version is comparable – buy here. Once the basket is placed on the grill, be sure to turn vegetables frequently to avoid burning and to be sure they cook evenly.

While the vegetables are cooking, keep an eye on them, place the prepared pita bread in the oven for a few minutes until the edges of the pita start to brown. Remove the pitas from the oven and spread a light coating of sauce over the tops of each.

Once the vegetables are cooked all the way through and are tender, top each pita with a generous portion of vegetables. You can leave it at that or spread mozzarella or Daiya cheese on top. I also like to top with a little oregano.


Have a great weekend!

Aug 10

Monday Motivation


Aug 09

Weekly Running Recap

Last Sunday I was on top of the world. I felt calm and in control. I had a great week running and I was at least a little consistent. I was so excited about my outside running but stuck with my plan to run inside on Tuesday. I still need to work on my speed and it comes easy inside.

So, Tuesday was a quick 4 miles @8:24.

 Wednesday, I got bold and since it was going to be a cool morning, decided to go out on the track for 400s. I had no expectations, just to push my pace a little bit which isn’t hard since I’ve been running so slowly outside. I was able to get down to about and under 8:30 on all laps with a recovery in between so I was happy with this. I did a total of 3 miles. (400s – 8:24, 8:32, 8:36, 8:30, 8:23, 8:23).

 I took it outside again Thursday morning. I have to take advantage of the cooler mornings. The plan was to just run easy, not worry about pace and breathe easily. My pace ended up a 9:18, which is yet, another improvement over last time.

IMG_2200.JPGFriday was a rest day. Then, Saturday happened. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my run. I met Jennie, one of the girls I met and ran with last week. I was planning on running 12 miles and I was pumped about it. I stepped outside and yes, it was much more humid than the previous week. I wasn’t going to let that dictate my run. I started out feeling pretty good and holding a modest 9:45 pace. The first three miles flew by and we stopped for water then set out for the second 3 mile loop. I was still feeling okay. Okay, not great. It was starting to get warmer and as we started into mile 7, I had a cold flash. It was hot, I was sweating, and all of a sudden, I was freezing, with the chills. I pulled out a 10:14 mile, my slowest and even had to stop to walk. I came back around and finished the rest of the 3 mile loop. At that point, I decided 9 miles was enough. Doing another 3 mile loop was not going to be good for me. Heat effects everyone differently and I just don’t do well with it. This is my third summer training in the heat and I have the same problem every summer.

IMG_2210.JPGAfter my run I went home and I was exhausted. I slept for an hour and a half and my muscles ached. You know what it sounds like to me? Mild dehydration. I threw my water bottle away at mile 20 during the marathon and I still haven’t bought one. I mean, I have about 15, but I only really like one kind and I don’t have it anymore. What a dummy. Mission: I will buy a water bottle this week! I have once again, underestimated how much I need to drink.
After yesterday, I decided to take off completely today. I took Cooper to north park for a walk and some time in the off leash dog park. It was such a great decision – look at their guys smile!

I think this week I’m going to do some more cross training and cut my running down to 3 days. That’s what I’m feeling. Have a great week!

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