Jul 31

Liberty Mile “Dream Team”

2014-runner-legs-bannerI am pleased to share with you my team for tomorrow’s GNC Live Well Liberty Mile. This is the first time I’ve ever participated in this race so I’m pretty excited to see how fast these little legs can move. LOL. I’m also excited to get together with this great group of people and have some fun. While I was away in Chicago, they arranged to have team shirts made as a surprise to me! I am so excited to wear them!

20140731-200541-72341758.jpgSo here’s our team!!


shawnShawn has completed the Pittsburgh Half Marathon 5 times, the Virginia Beack Rock-n-Roll half marathon 3 times and the Disney FULL Marathon as well. This year he participated in another team effort and completed two legs of the Pittsburgh Marathon Relay. He also snagged 2nd place in his age group at this year’s Just a Short Run (8.1 miles) in North Park. Shawn is currently training for the Columbus marathon where is hoping to grab his Boston qualification. We’re expecting great things from this guy because he can move! Above: Rock n Roll Virginia Beach half marathon with his wife and a bib with hi PR proudly displayed.



Great_RaceDerek has run the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon twice and both chips times were quite impressive. He’s also run the Great Race and many, many local 5k’s in the surrounding areas. He also tackled the FULL Pittsburgh Marathon this past May. Derek has been doing some speed work to prep for tomorrow’s race and will continue to run until training starts later this summer into the fall for his third showing at the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon. Like Shawn, this guy is fast! Left: crossing the finish line at Pittsburgh’s Great Race.








20131021-192401Jessica has participated in many races, some of them with me :) She has run the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon, the EQT 10 Miler and the March Mad Dash. She’s also participated in the Frigid 5 miler and multiple 5Ks including the Jingle Bell 5K, Take a Step for your Heroes 5K, and The Freaky 5K. Most recently she was part of a Pittsburgh Marathon Relay team this past May (with Shawn) and ran leg 3 of the course. Left: pictured with me before the start of the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon.




KelseyKelsey was the winner of my raffle for the last spot on the team! I’m super excited to meet her and add her to my network of running friends in the Pittsburgh area. Kelsey’s stats are quite impressive, here goes; Kelsey has completed an incredible 25 half marathons and 2 full marathons since 2011. She has a goal to complete a half marathon in all 50 states. Some of her favorite half’s include: Country Music Marathon Half in Nashville, Rock’n'Roll New Orleans Half (her PR race), Cleveland Marathon, and of course the Pittsburgh Marathon Half. She is currently preparing for a very busy fall schedule with 5 half marathons within a two month time frame. Left: mile 16 of the Cleveland Marathon in May.



So there you have it. Quite a well rounded team if I say so myself. Please look for us tomorrow in our blue This Runners Fuel shirts and be sure to cheer us on. Better yet….take us on. SAME DAY REGISTRATION IS AVAILABLE starting at 5:30pm in Market Square.



Jul 30

What I Ate in Chicago (In Pictures)

WARNING: The following images may be disturbing to healthy eaters. :)

Rich and I traveled to Chicago to celebrate out 20th wedding anniversary last week. He was there several months ago for business and was determined to get me there, knowing I would love it. The game plan for the trip was to celebrate by eating, drinking, and since we stayed on the Magnificent Mile, lots of shopping. I was hoping to document everything I ate and I did a pretty good job of capturing the best of everything. I didn’t even bother counting the calories. Let’s just say – they were a plenty!

The first thing on our list when we arrived was to find a Chicago Deep dish pizza. We talked to the concierge and he pointed us to Gino’s East, just around the corner from our hotel. We threw in some toasted ravioli to be extra bad. :) We washed this down with a local made pale ale.

20140725-182428-66268162.jpgAfter Shopping a bit, we took a break at Devon Seafood Grill for an afternoon cocktail and some oysters. They were okay but couldn’t hold a candle to the oysters I had at RM Seafood in Las Vegas. Hands down the best oysters I’ve ever eaten!

20140730-121429-44069962.jpgWe planned dinner that evening at Big Star Taco a place that Rich had been to once before and said was outstanding. The tacos are different and the atmosphere is fun and casual. Prior to dinner, Rich walked me directly across the street to what looked like a boarded up building with graffiti on it and pulled open a big wooden door that I never would have noticed. Exterior and interior below – can you find the door? :)

VioletHourThe Violet Hour is a very romantic, quiet bar that serves probably the best cocktails I’ve ever had. The bartenders are meticulously mixing drinks with herbs and eye droppers like chemists. It was really hard to pick drinks. As appetizers before the tacos, we had fried pickles with cheese (OMG, so good!) and goat cheese with roasted red pepper bruschetta. And, after all that, it was over to Big Star for Tacos. The tacos in the picture below don’t look that appetizing but they were awesome. I ate probably the best fish taco I ever had!

20140726-210356-75836643.jpgThe next day we thought we would give the deep dish pizza another try. We were a little disappointed with the one we had the first day and thought it had to be better. So, we tried Pizzeria DUE (Unos). It was better, but I have to admit that I probably wouldn’t go for another deep dish pizza. The pizza has way too much cheese and sauce for my liking. Flat bread pizza is better. According to a few locals we talked to, deep dish pizza is WAY overrated and we agreed.


Since we were eating dinner later, at around 3:00 we decided to get a snack. This is were I really step out of my comfort zone and break my typical vegetarian ways. I had a Chicago style hotdog at Portillo’s! This was the first hotdog I’ve had in 7 years. I have to admit, it was pretty damn good. It had onions, tomatoes, peppers and a pickle on it. Perfect! When in Rome right?

20140726-213137-77497537.jpgWednesday was our actual anniversary and Rich made reservations at Epic. It wasn’t stuffy but fancy enough with a hip, fun atmosphere. The staff was amazingly friendly and gave us anniversary menus and desert wine on the house. I had a fantastic kale salad, and as an entree, Seared Scallops over a sweet risotto with peas and grapefruit. Dessert was White Chocolate Cherry; a light sponge cake with brandied cherries and almond crumble. We also shared two sides; charred broccoli and a very delicious adult mac n cheese. So much food!

20140726-215322-78802065.jpgOn Thursday, I have to admit that I got a little lazy with my picture taking. But I do want to point out one additional tasty treat that we stopped for. We were told we had to try Garret’s popcorn. We were also told that the line would be out the door and it was. But, it was worth the wait. I got a small bag of Chicago mix which was a caramel popcorn mixed with cheese popcorn. It was addictive!

20140726-220250-79370341.jpgSo, believe it or not, that wasn’t exactly everything, but the highlights. I ate whatever I felt like eating, something I seldom do. All I can say is it’s a good thing I have some 30 and 40 mile weeks coming up. I’ll need it to burn off all of this food. Ha!

Question: do you typically stick to your regular eating habits on vacation or let loose a little?

Jul 29

No Slacking – Columbus Marathon Training – Wk5

Whenever I have a vacation on the calendar during a marathon training cycle, I kind of freak-out worry about missing my runs and disrupting the flow of “the plan”. Depending on the location and duration of the trip, I could miss a whole week of training, including both weekends. Some trips are just not conducive to running such as my ski vacation to Telluride a few years ago, during another training cycle.

Last week Rich and I spent some time in Chicago for our wedding anniversary. Did I mention it was 20 years?! I think I did. :) Anyway, it was a during-the-week trip so I knew that my marathon pace runs and two long runs would be safe. In all honesty, I wasn’t terribly concerned about missing the miles in between. None the less, I ran my 3 mile run scheduled for Tuesday (our travel day) on Monday evening before we left, which ended up being 3.76 miles. Some people would go crazy with that unusual stopping point. LOL.

20140728-213320-77600707.jpgI knew I wasn’t going to run Tuesday, but checked out the fitness center upon arriving at our hotel and decided I would do a treadmill run Wednesday morning. I would have been happier running outside, but Rich was a little nervous about me running in Chicago without really knowing where I was going. Wednesday afternoon, we walked from our hotel to the Navy Pier which was about 1.5 miles from our hotel and we both decided that it was a perfectly safe and beautiful place to run Thursday morning.

So, Wednesday, I did mile repeats on the treadmill (for $12) and Thursday was a gorgeous run to the Navy Pier and back. They were short runs, but they fulfilled my prescribed mileage for the two days and I didn’t feel like a SLACKER!

20140728-214059-78059431.jpgI was back for my weekend marathon pace run (6 miles) on Saturday which went well and my long run on Sunday, which didn’t go so well. The humidity was up on Sunday and I struggled through every mile of the 10. As a matter of fact, I finished the run at 9.68 miles. I felt so bad about it, that I finished up to get to 10 when I got home. I really have a hard time breathing on those super-muggy days. Thank goodness it was a step back week and I didn’t have to go terribly far. I never would have lasted. Frank was with me again this week and he really kept me motivated to finish.


This week’s training gets a little tougher. It’ll be the first week that I run 30+ miles. I have a plan, but I’m playing around with adding a few miles here and there to make me feel better about the total miles in the end. We’ll see how early I can get myself up in the mornings. :)

  • Monday – Rest
  • Tuesday – 5 miles @ 9:00-9:15 pace
  • Wednesday – Speed 3 (400′s) in 1:50-1:55 and 3 (200′s) at a “hard” pace (Liberty Mile Prep)
  • Thursday – 4 miles @ 9:15-9:45 pace
  • Friday – Liberty Mile – goal 7:30
  • Saturday – 7 miles at marathon pace 8:45
  • Sunday – 14 miles @ 9:15-9:45 pace

After this week – 9 weeks left. It’s flying by but I’m feeling good about how it’s gong so far. My only problem right now is that I haven’t been keeping up with my routine stretching like I should and know better. As the miles build, I’ll have to be better about that.

Question: Do you run on vacation or do take a vacation from running?

Jul 28

Monday Motivation


Jul 22

Running with the Right People – Columbus Marathon Training Wk4

lionsLast winter when I started training for the Pittsburgh Marathon, I decided it might be a good idea to train with a running group. I thought it would be safer, would push me and I would be able to surround myself with people who are on the same page as me….crazy…to run through the sleet and snow for fun. :)

I joined a group and went for a couple of runs. The few people that I got to know inf the group were fantastic, however I still ran alone. Let me elaborate; the fast kids ran a little too fast and the slow kids were a little too slow. So, it didn’t quite work out. I probably could have stuck with it longer and found the right people, but through a friend got hooked up with another group. The times and places they met were a little more convenient and I stuck with them for most of my long runs throughout the winter. But, I never really found my niche.

This past Sunday, I finally understood why people like running with other people so much. I ran with Frank and his daughter Brianna. All three of us have about the same goal for Columbus. Frank and I are shooting for a 3:50 and Brianna is working to break four hours. So, our long run paces are about the same. We pushed each other, made the time go by with conversation and all three of us felt great at the end of 12 miles. I think I found my running group for the rest of the summer. I look forward to making progress with them, making conversation with them and ultimately reaching our goals together.

20140721-231127-83487778.jpgThis week’s training:

I’m going to make this short and sweet because I’m boarding a plane to Chicago to celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary! 20 years! I may not blog this week but will share pieces of my adventure on Instagram and Twitter. My running schedule is a little off this week, but I’ll fit the miles in. Luckily it’s the first “step-back” week.

  • Monday – Run 3.75 miles @ 8:56 (done!)
  • Tuesday – rest
  • Wednesday – 3 miles (some kind of speed work in Chicago)
  • Thursday – rest
  • Friday – 3 miles @ 9:15
  • Saturday – 6 miles @ marathon pace (8:35-8:45)
  • Sunday – 10 miles @ 9:15-9:45

Jul 21

Monday Motivation



Jul 16

Welcome to the Grind – Columbus Marathon Training Wk3

grindMarathon training is a roller coaster ride. A little scary, exciting, full of ups and downs and sometimes makes you feel sick. I say “makes you feel sick” because today was speed work day, which is typically my most grueling workout of the week. :)

There was a sort of lull after the Pittsburgh Marathon, followed by the anticipation of starting a new training cycle. A new goal, new paces to shoot for, a new race to daydream about.

Then, training started. Runs have purpose and meaning. Expectations are high. It’s all brand new and the 3 hour and 50 minute goal at the end of the tunnel is palpable. Two weeks goes by, all is well, but the brain knows what’s coming and whispers (more like shouts) “WELCOME TO THE GRIND”.

Ah yes, I remember the drill now and the daily reminders that yes, marathon training is in full swing:

1. The aching muscles.
2. The early morning alarms.
3. The endless pile of running laundry.
4. The need to shovel food into my mouth 24/7.
5. The anxiety I get when weekend plans may include a Friday or Saturday night with strange foods and heaven forbid, alcohol.
6. Scheduling the rest of my life around my weekly mileage.
7. Evaluating and re-evaluating the training plan (is it challenging enough?)
8. My obsession with the weather. Rain, heat and humidity become key factors to my day-to-day happiness.
9. Running is all I think about.

I’m not saying it’s not exciting anymore, it is, but at times it does become a matter of GRINDING IT OUT. The run, work, rest, repeat is enough to drain you mentally. Running is not for the weak minded individual. Yes, at times I may complain, but make no mistake, I THRIVE on this.

Last week’s training went as planned but also included a 5K and a dip in the river after my long run. Gotta mix things up. :) Unfortunately, I wasn’t as good at documenting every run with a photo, but here are a couple:

runsThis week’s training schedule:

  • Monday – Rest
  • Tuesday – 3 miles @ 9:00-9:15
  • Wednesday – 3 miles 800 repeats (800′s at 3:50)
  • Thursday – 3 miles @ 9:15-9:45
  • Friday – Rest
  • Saturday – 6 miles @ marathon pace 8:35-8:45
  • Sunday – 12 miles @ 9:15-9:45

Training for Columbus or another race? Please share your progress. Have a great week!

Jul 14

GNC Live Well Liberty Mile – FREE REGISTRATION – How fast can YOU run a mile?

2014-runner-legs-bannerMost of the time when I think of racing in the summer, I automatically think 5K or 10K races, two great race distances that keep me on top of my game while I train for the fall marathon. But this year, I’m also participating in the GNC Live Well Liberty Mile in downtown Pittsburgh. I haven’t run a mile race since I was on the track team in high school and I’m pretty excited and anxious to see what I can do. I think the mile distance is challenging because it tests your speed with a decent amount of endurance to hold that speed.

Besides the fact that I’ll be at the race to Tweet and Facebook race happenings, the other cool part about my participation is the fact the I’m not just participating as an individual, but as part of the TEAM CHALLENGE. I’ve recruited a few of my running friends for my team, but ONE spot still remains open for any This Runner’s Fuel reader to join us. More about that at the end of this post.


1. Anyone can run a mile! This race doesn’t take weeks and weeks of training. However, if you want to test your speed and challenge yourself, there are one-mile training plans available online, like the one I found on Running Competitor to help you get ready.

2. You can recruit and sign up with a co-ed, all female or all-male team in one of the following categories; corporate, neighborhood, or open. I’m excited to run with my teammates listed below. Yeah, we’re going to kick some serious butt!

  • Shawn: Currently training for the Columbus Marathon this fall. (Go Shawn!).
  • Derek: Who just crushed his first marathon, Pittsburgh, this past May.
  • Jessica: Ran and dominated her last half marathon in well under 2 hours.
  • Me (yay!)
  • Open spot: Want to join us?? Details at the end of this post

3. Even when you’re race wave is over, It’ll be fun to stick around and watch the the other runners compete in their heats.

4. A chance to see some phenomenal Elite runners compete for some serious prize money. The Elite race is by invitation only and sponsored by the American Development Program by PGH Three Rivers Marathon, Inc.

5. A chance to participate in a truly unique race in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh.

Basic Race Information (for additional information, please visit the official race site)

Date: Friday, August 1st

Time: 7:00pm

Cost: $30 for adults, $20 kids 13 and under (Yes, they have heats for kids!) SO, the whole family can participate!


liberty mileSo, there’s the information and some reasons why this race is going to rock!

Want to join the This Runners Fuel Team? Enter below by logging in with your e-mail address. Earn Bonus points for tweeting about the giveaway and/or liking my Facebook page. A winner will be chosen Friday, July 18th and notified by e-mail. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Jul 14

Monday Motivation


Jul 09

What I ate Wednesday

For a couple of weeks now I’ve started this post then in the middle of the day forget to take pictures and forget to log the food. Finally, yesterday I was on the ball. With marathon training being two weeks in, I do want to mention that I pay closer attention to what I’m eating. Seems like it should be the other way around right? When I’m not burning as many calories I should watch what I eat and during training pig out because of the activity level – LOL.

It’s almost exactly the opposite with me. It’s probably why I gained four pounds since Pittsburgh. Which actually doesn’t get an “LOL”. At any rate, I’m more careful because I have certain expectations when it comes to what I eat. I want my food to (1) keep me healthy, (2) help me recover and (3) help me perform my best. In other words, I tend to eat a little cleaner during training. I don’t want foods that will take a long time to digest, or make me sluggish.

So, on to Tuesday’s meals:

I’m still following my same morning routine; up early to run before work. Yesterday I wasn’t really in the mood to eat much, but I’m ALWAYS in the mood for almonds. They aren’t the best choice prior to a run (high in fat and fiber) but I was only going 3 miles so it wasn’t that critical.

20140708-081027-29427071.jpgPost run meal was Almond Dream non-dairy yogurt (coconut flavor) and a banana. Great mix of carbs and protein.

20140708-081027-29427446.jpgI’m still involved in Tuesday morning work sessions, so I bring my snack along with me. My co-workers are completely used to me taking pictures of my food. :) I had leftover chopped kale salad from the evening before with lemon garlic vinaigrette, which is my new favorite dressing. Of course I had to make sure my pink, glowing mouse was in the shot. Everyone always comments on it.

20140709-143729-52649333.jpgFor lunch it was more leftovers from the previous night. Tempeh and Asian vegetable stir fry over Udon noodles. I absolutely love Japanese noodles.

20140709-143730-52650036.jpgI never ate an afternoon snack because lunch had me pretty full. I didn’t have much time when I got home from work because Rich and I had plans to see my Nephew Carson swim at his meet, and I still wasn’t that hungry, so I grabbed a peach on the way out the door.

20140709-143731-52651248.jpgNeedless to say, when I got home a couple of hours later, I was starving. I was in emergency mode. Luckily I keep veggie burgers in the freezer for occasions like this. Gardein garden veggie burgers are my favorite. I had that on a whole wheat bun with sliced tomatoes and spinach. On the side I had some lentils that I cooked earlier in the week and I topped it off with a glass of Bolthouse Farms Daily Greens juice. The juice is something new I tried this week. It was on sale, so I figured what the heck. By reading the label, I know that juicing myself is way better for you, but this isn’t a complete loss as far as nutrition goes.

20140709-143731-52651968.jpgSo, I am using a new app for my food lately, MyNetDiary Pro, and I’m still trying to figure out the best way to show some type of daily summary.  This app really has some cool reports, charts and analysis, but I picked these to summarize.


 Looks like I was a touch short on calories, but lord knows I’ll make that up another day. Carb, fat and protein ratios we perfect and I managed to avoid trans fat. A good day I would say.

Hopefully, I can back on the ball with this regularly. A couple of people asked why it went away. :)


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