May Goals – 2016

Summer is here, y’all! That is, if you live in South Carolina. We pretty much have March and April for Spring and then the heat cranks up big time! I am not in the shape I hoped to be in by this time in 2016 but I’m not going to beat myself up about it. Just means I need to re-evaluate, re-set and get to work. We’ve got our big 10 year wedding anniversary cruise coming up in August and Andrew and I both want to be a bit more confident in our bathing suits. I’ve come up with a few goals that I’ve set for myself for May, hoping that this will lead to great results at the end of the month. Let me know your May goals in the comments section!

*Meal Prep* – Andrew and I spent a little bit of time meal-prepping on Sunday. We had a lot of fun cooking together and getting our children involved. I already have a post saved in my draft folder to share with y’all because the experience was great. My goal is to meal-prep every week this month. This is an efficient way to make sure I eat breakfast (which I normally only like for dinner) and serves as a great way to track what I’m using for fuel to nourish my body.

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Getting things ready for this week’s meals.

*Run 3x a Week*

*2 Races in less than 24 Hours* – If you have been following along on here you’ve noticed that if all goes according to plan, I’ll be crossing this off my Life List soon. This weekend as a matter of fact!

*One Class a Week* 

*Get Better Sleep* – Some of this is out of my control. I’m hopeful we will have a resolution soon regarding Andrew’s medical concerns that are causing me to lose sleep. But, I’m also going to be mindful of controlling what I can control to make this situation better. I’m going to try to go to bed earlier. I’m going to try to push myself harder during my workouts so I am tired.

Do you make monthly fitness goals for yourself? What are your goals this month?

 

 

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Here Goes

Life List - 2 Races

 

That’s right, I am registered to participate in two 5k races that start only 15 hours apart from one another! One of the goals on my life list has been to run 2 separate races within 24 hours. If everything goes well, I’ll cross that off my list Mother’s Day weekend!

The first one is on Friday, May 6th on the beautiful Swamp Rabbit Trail. I’ve participated in this race twice before, once as a runner and again as a stroller walker. This race is insanely crowded and for a registration fee of only $6 you can see why! The crowd really bothered me the first year to be honest. But, I’ve learned that this is not really a race to try to PR in. For me, it is more about taking in the beautiful scenes from my community while running with thousands of my neighbors. I’m looking forward to my first race of 2016 and pray that the weather is nice (and hopefully cooler than the temps. we are facing this week).

The next one is the following morning. I’m registered with my mom, brother and sister. I’m really looking forward to this one because it will be a family affair while the one the night before I’ll be solo. My family usually participates in a race together every January but do to scheduling conflicts this year we had to pass. So, this race is sort of a “make-up” for missing our traditional race.

I’m excited to hit the racing scene again. I’ve not set my expectations super high for either race. Both of these are races for me to kind of see where I am post-surgery and post-recovery. They will also be a way for me to test out my knees and hips and see if the rest time I’ve given them has really helped (I sure hope so!). I plan to have recaps for both races up soon after I cross the finish line for both. Follow my social media accounts to see how my races go and definitely feel free to send me a shout out of encouragement along the way. If you plan to participate please let me know and we will meet up!

As always, thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Heaven

It has been months since I have submitted a post. The first quarter of 2016 has been tough on me, if I’m being honest. I’ve had a few surgeries that I didn’t recover well from. I developed an infection after one of those surgeries and I still have intense jaw pain daily because of it. We’ve been dealing with some issues caused by Andy’s wreck which has caused me to not have a complete night’s sleep in well over a month. There are a few other trials that I’m personally going through that I’ll keep private for now. I share this not to throw myself a pity party or seek attention, but to express the deep exhaustion I have been dealing with and give a little wisdom.

To combat my fatigue, pain, and the struggle with my mental health I’ve turned back to the best therapy money cannot buy: running. I don’t want to sound cliche, I truly don’t. But the more I’ve gone for walks, jogs, or full out sprints these past couple of weeks I’ve been struck with a glimpse of what heaven might feel like.

When I’m alone on my run, my head is clear. I feel the heat and sunshine of my beautiful city. I hear the chirping of birds early in the morning. I see the green grass and blooming flowers in my neighborhood. My heart pounds heavy in my chest. Figuratively and literally, my breath is taken away.

My sense of doubt is gone. I feel full. My guards are down. I feel free.

I’ll never know just what heaven is like until I’m standing there. But while I’m on earth, I’ll continue to let running save me.

Let Us Run

January 2016 Goals

I’ve got to admit, 2015 was not my favorite year. It was a year of transition. With adjusting to life with two young sons, getting used to my new career, Andy finishing up his degree (and then landing a great job on graduation day!) a healthy lifestyle wasn’t a top priority. I was able to maintain my weight loss after having Dawson, but I didn’t accomplish all of the goals that I had for myself. I’m happy to report that I’ve started 2016 out with a bang. I’m determined to keep that momentum up through the year by sticking to monthly goals.

1) Hot Chocolate Bling – The Hot Chocolate Race Series has been on my race list for several years and I’m excited to be registered for the 15K in Atlanta this month. I am looking so forward to that “sweet” medal at the finish!

2) Bible Reading Plan – I’ve always wanted to read the Bible all the way through within a year. I started a plan on January 1st and I’ve been very happy with the plan outline so far. I’m in the middle of the books of Matthew and Genesis. It is nice to read both the New and Old Testament at the same time. I’ve gotta admit, I’ve been reading the Bible most often when I’m on the bike and it has become a new favorite of mine. The miles really do fly by. I find myself going longer distances than I planned for-simply because I do not want to stop reading and learning!

My Bible

My Journaling Bible

3) 150 Miles – If you follow me on social media then you know that my big fitness goal for 2016 is to run/walk/bike 2016 miles by December 31st of this year. I’m breaking that goal up with little mile goals each month to help me accomplish the big goal. I’ve certainly got a big challenge before me but I have confidence on my side as well.

4) Exercise 4x a week – I have been using my kitchen calendar to keep track of all of my workouts so far this month. Andy and I will also be taking a yoga class together on Wednesday nights as well.

5) Lose 3 pounds – With the amount of exercise I plan on doing this month (and healthy eating habits) I hope to lose 3 pounds this month. Andy and I have committed to making one new healthy recipe a week, which I think will aid in weight loss as well.

My Goals

What are your goals this month? Do you set monthly goals or do you prefer a yearly goal?

 

Friday 5 – November 2015 Goals

With today being the sixth day of November, it is about time I finally hit “publish” on this post! I’ve been working on these goals since the first of the month. I took time to research the next race that I am registering for and look for the right training plan for me. This caused a delay in getting my goals in order, but here they are (in random order):

  • Start 15K Training – I’ve decided to go with Hal Higdon’s Novice 15K training plan. Though I have run a half marathon, 10 Miler, 10K and several 5K races in the past, I never truly committed to a proper training plan for any of those races. I want to improve on my pace and finish time. I also want to complete a training program so I can determine what worked and didn’t work for me. What race am I training for? One that has been on my “must do” race list for a long time: The Hot Chocolate 15K in Atlanta, GA on January 24th. Several of my friends are interested in doing this race as well, which I’m super excited about! I’m hoping that they will hold me accountable with my training plan, and I look forward to cheering them on as well. Plus, take a look at that finisher’s medal! I want one!
  • Go To The Gym 15 Times – This might not sound like much to some of you, but I’m trying to be realistic with my goals. I would LOVE to go over this number, but I will be satisfied if I only make it to the gym the number of times I’ve set for myself this month. I’ve struggled with being consistent with my fitness routine ever since I became pregnant with Dawson. Recently, I’ve found my groove again, but I am still not setting that goal too high until I see consistency for several months.
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I’m really starting to “crave” going to the gym. I’m hopeful that I continue to consistently go this month!

  • Attend 5 YMCA Classes – While I focus on going to the gym, I also want to make an effort to go to more classes. In the past, I’ve really enjoyed Pilates/Yoga and Zumba. I would like to try Cardio Dance Blast and Kettlebell Training as well. 
  • Run 30 Miles – This goal should be easy…if I stick to my 15K Training Plan.
  • Lose 5 Pounds – I’d still like to lose about 15 pounds in total. However, I’ve gotta say that weight loss is not the priority it used to be for me. I am really focusing on developing muscle tone, strengthening my core and running faster. I do believe that the things that I am focusing on will cause me to see a dip in my weight.
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I have this on my refrigerator to serve as a reminder and keep me accountable. Look for a post at the end of November to see my results!

QOTD: What are your goals for November?

Burnout & Breakthrough

MY BURNOUT

After I gave birth to Dawson, I was determined to quickly lose the weight that I gained during my pregnancy. I experienced postpartum depression after Connor’s birth, which led to excessive weight gain on top of the weight I gained while I was pregnant with him (a grand total of 71 pounds heavier than I was the day my pregnancy was confirmed). I knew that if I didn’t work to get the weight off that I gained with Dawson, I was likely to slip into a downward spiral back toward depression.

So, as soon as I was given the ok from my OBGYN, I hit the gym hard. I used the MyFitnessPal app to track my calories. I completed several races. In just a couple of months I lost the 33 pounds that I gained during my pregnancy with Dawson.

Down 50 Pounds!

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But, after having 2 sons, my body did not look like it did before I was pregnant with Dawson. I may have weighed the same, but my hips looked bigger, my arms and thighs wiggled more, I could not run as fast as did before (and I was NEVER a fast runner!), my stomach was softer, my arms were thicker, etc. I lost an additional 17 pounds, but I still wasn’t where I wanted to be.

To be honest though, at that point I started to get tired. It started slowly, but eventually I just got tired of going to the gym every day, tracking calories on my phone, budgeting for races, and taking time away from my family to focus on myself. I wanted to enjoy ice cream with Connor. I wanted to come home and cuddle on the couch with my boys after work instead of going to the gym. I was coming to terms with what so many of us want to deny: I was running on fumes and just wanted a break. My flame had burned out.

For awhile, I took a break from the gym. I deleted MyFitnessPal from my phone. I stopped running. I quit blogging and didn’t post much on my social media accounts. For the first time in 2 years, I had a period of time where “healthy living” meant spontaneity – not tracking every ounce of water I drank or scheduling time to train for a race.

With Dawson

Enjoying lunch with my baby boy!

My Breakthrough

During that time I fortunately didn’t gain any weight back (I will admit that I did eat a TON of ice cream though). I did go to the gym every now and then. I would run or go for a walk once a week or so. It was a breath of fresh air some days to not “have” to work out, but other days I did miss the routine that I had once created for myself.

Over the past few weeks I have started to slowly and gently ease into a new healthy lifestyle that does include eating well, along with consistently going to the gym and race training. I enjoyed my little break, and in retrospect I probably should have given myself one a long time ago. I’ve learned that if I don’t allow myself moments to unwind, reflect, and refresh then I will without a doubt crash and burn.

These past few weeks I’ve enjoyed walks with my family. I’ve started posting more to social media. I’ve been using MyFitnessPal again. And, here is my first blog post in a few months. By gradually increasing my tracking and training, I now crave it like I haven’t in months. I have the desire to get back to the gym daily and try new classes. I cannot wait to cross the finish line of an upcoming race.

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Our family enjoying a walk last week.

I still have many, many goals for myself. I would still like to lose those last few pounds that I’ve been hanging onto since Andy’s wreck. I want to tone and strengthen my muscles. I’m determined to set some new PR’s in the near future.

I share all this to let you know that giving yourself a break isn’t quitting. I feel like the spontaneity that I gave myself took pressure off of me that I didn’t realize I put on my shoulders. Now, I am so much more passionate and determined, and I’m once again fueled to hit the gym hard and train.

When my husband and I started this blog 2 years ago it was to serve two purposes that are just as important to us today as they were the night we were up way too late getting this blog up and running: 1-This blog is to serve as a way for he and I to motivate ourselves to be a better, greater us. It has been great for tracking progress and is a great source of accountability. On difficult days when I don’t feel like I can run any longer, I look back at old posts and see that I can do something that seems impossible because I have done “impossible to me” things before. This blog documents our trial and error as we attempt to lose weight, gain muscle, run faster, etc. 2-This blog is to encourage and motivate our readers. If two ordinary, flawed people like us can achieve the goals that we have set for ourselves, ANYONE can!

Reader Question: How have you overcome healthy living burnout? What advice would you give to someone coming back from a fitness break?

How I’m Losing Weight

Most of you know how my fitness journey has been since October 2013. For those of you who are new around here (thanks for stopping by!), at that time I weighed 216 pounds and was ready to shape up. Years before, I vowed to one day become a runner and cross the finish line at runDisney’s Princess Half Marathon. I decided that October that I was tired of waiting. I trained my butt off and lost a ton of weight. I was in the best shape of my life and registered to run the Princess in February 2014.

This pic was used as a before and after last year. It served as a great motivator to keep running and working out when it became difficult!

This pic was used as a before and after during that time period. It served as a great motivator then and even more so now. I know what my body can do. On days when I don’t want to push myself I look at this and remind myself of what I’m capable of doing.

For those of you who don’t know, I ran the Princess Half while I was pregnant! Andrew and Connor were in a very serious car accident just 7 months prior to the race. Couple both of those things together and you know what happened: I gained weight.

Sorry folks, I’m not sharing the numbers quite yet (but those details will come soon, promise)! Dawson was born October 6th, 2014. Once my doctor gave me the green light to exercise again, I focused on losing the baby weight. I’ve lost the 33 pounds that I gained with him. In addition to that, I’ve lost an additional 13 pounds for a total of 46 pounds since late November 2014. So, how have I done it so far? Remember, I’m not a doctor. I do not work in the health industry at all. I try to run 3 times a week and cross train at the YMCA every other day. These tips are in addition to that and they have truly helped me, and I hope they help you. Of course, consult a physician before you begin any new exercise/weight loss plan.

1: WATER- I guzzle water all day long. I started out drinking 3 of these huge bottles of water a day, and I’m now up to 5 a day. I re-fill this bottle constantly at work and at home. The only other thing I’ll drink is orange juice and an occasional chocolate milk (my favorite post-run treat). Cutting out soft drinks was horrible on my body for about 2 solid weeks. I literally went through withdrawals. I had a constant migraine, I was grumpy, I didn’t have energy, I got acne, I was bloated, I had cravings and would catch myself shaking. You know what happened after those 2 weeks? I stepped on the scales and had lost 10 pounds. JUST from cutting out soft drinks. All of the side effects went away. I constantly crave water now. I don’t add any mix-ins, but a few of my friends prefer to add fruit or use flavor packs.

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Yummy!

2: Gear- You don’t need to go into debt to lose weight. You can easily buy workout gear for bargain prices. In fact, this tip might be one some of you skip. But, I’ve found that I become more motivated to exercise when I have fun new gear to use. Every single thing I’ve bought for exercise has been on sale or I received as a gift on holidays. When I reach one of my weight loss goals, I’ll treat myself with a new top from Raw Threads, a headband from BAMR Bands or new running shoes. In fact, I’m buying myself another pair of running shoes when I reach my mini-goal #2 (I’m only 7 pounds away)! This is a fun way to stay motivated. I also like to support brands that support my desire to be a better me!

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Some of my favorites: Victoria’s Secret exercise pants (free from Influenester), Old Navy tanks and Tech Shirts (clearance), Raw Threads “Be Strong, Every Day” tank (discount Facebook group-NEW), Girls on the Run Tech Shirt (free-I was a SoleMate), Garmin and BIO-FREEZE (discount at RunIn for being a Y member), New Balance Cross Training shoes (birthday gift), Brooks (Christmas gift), Brooks (I bought this pair for reaching a weight loss goal, discount at RunIn for being a Y member), and KT Tape (on clearance at BI-LO for $3.99). See? It doesn’t have to be expensive to use gear as motivation to lose weight, and get in shape!

3: Accountability- Without a doubt, I have the best friends on the planet! To use a phrase that is way overused in my southern state, I’m “so blessed” to have the friends I have. I joke about that phrase, but it is so true. I’m very lucky. My friends know my struggles. They were my friends when I was at my lowest and heaviest weights. They’ve waited for me at finish lines. They’ve listened to me cry when I’ve felt defeated. My friends keep me encouraged, motivated and hold me accountable. They count on me to show them support, and inspire them to better their lives. I count on them to do the same for me. I am a better person when I have my friends by my side. When I started this journey years ago, I made an effort to distance myself from those in my life who were less than encouraging. Some were oddly competitive, while others were obsessed with comparing their own fitness endeavors to mine. I encourage my readers to weed out the negative seeds in your life. Hold your genuine friendships close to your heart. Those friends will help you when you want to give up on yourself. They’ll encourage you and cheer for you. Do the same for them. I promise you that your entire fitness journey will become even better once you make your relationships the best they can be! Who knows, they may be like my friends and be crazy enough to “run all the races” with you!

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July 4th, 2015-Red, White and Blue Shoes 5K with my friends Robin, my hubby, Lisa, Kayla and Michael. (Not pictured: Erica, Renee and Matt-They didn’t run this race but they deserve a mention as well. I’m forever grateful that I get to call y’all my friends!

4. Document- I use a white board to write down the exercise I did for each day. This helps me push myself further each week. It is also helps motivate me to run when I log my milage because I want to increase my milage by 10% each week. When you put what you have done in black and white, it’s impossible to ignore both your progress, as well as what you haven’t done. When my white board sits empty, I know it’s time to get back to work. It provides immediate accountability.

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I keep this little white board on my refrigerator. It also helps me when I go to reach for not-so-healthy food.

5. Weigh-In Wednesday- Every Wednesday morning, I wake up, use the restroom, take off all of my clothes and step onto the scale. I post to social media if I’ve gained weight, lost weight or stayed the same that week. Social media is great for accountability and is a fun way to look back and see my progress.

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These are just a few things that I think have helped me lose weight this time around. In upcoming posts, I’ll make sure to share further pointers that could also help you on your fitness journey.

Dawson-8 Months

Dawson turned 8 months old on June 6th. The last update I wrote about him was when he was 6 months old, and life with him just keeps getting better with each passing day!

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My mini me!

Dawson is a really big baby. I don’t know his “official” measurements, because he doesn’t go back to the doctor for a check-up until next month. However, we have weighed and measured him at home, and he is roughly 30 inches long, and weighs about 20 pounds. He just barely fits into 9-month clothes, with 12-month clothes fitting him best.

He is really starting to develop his own personality, and his communication skills are excellent. He definitely lets you know what he likes, doesn’t like, when he is hungry, wants to be held, etc. There isn’t any guess work with Dawson. He wears his emotions on his sleeve, and his eyes let you know exactly what he is thinking-something he without a doubt got from his Momma! With that being said, he is not a crier or emotional baby. He pretty much communicates through grunting, patting and we are attempting to teach him sign language (he can sign “more” and we are working on “please”). He has been saying Dada for a couple of months, but just started saying Mama this month. At first, he would only say my name when he woke up crying, but now he says it throughout the day-one of the sweetest sounds I’ve ever heard! He also says, “Hey there” and “Bubba” (what he calls his older brother, Connor).

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Their favorite pastime!

We take the boys swimming almost everyday! Don’t worry, we keep them covered in sunscreen and well hydrated (neither have had any sunburn at all). Dawson has a baby float that he likes to sit in but he really gets excited when we take him out and hold him in the water. He splashes, kicks and is quite fearless in the water. Connor is still the perfect big brother to Dawson. He will feed him a bottle from time to time, read to him, play with him on the floor and instinctively grabs Dawson if he sees him reaching for something he shouldn’t have (Dawson loves to try to put ANYTHING in his mouth-we’ve been baby proofing EVERYTHING in our apartment). Dawson gets fired up when Connor enters the same room. He likes to “attack” him, cover him in kisses and usually pulls his hair (we are all trying to teach him the word “gentle”-he is so very strong).

silky

Dawson “praising” and holding his favorite toy “silky”.

I came home from work one day and Andrew showed me something he taught Dawson that is so precious (I’ll post a video soon). Andy will look at Dawson and will tell him to “praise.” In turn, Dawson will raise his arms in the air and start squealing and laughing. I call it “taking us to church” lol. Another funny story about Dawson is how he loves feeling different textures, in particular silk. I have a silk robe that he tries to chew every time I wear it. I can’t wear it long, because it quickly becomes absolutely drenched with his drool. So, we got him the “silky” pictured above. It has tags all along the outside, which is another thing Dawson loves to chew on. It is definitely his favorite toy, but it isn’t something he depends on for comfort or has to have constantly. Speaking of chewing…Dawson is still toothless! Connor started getting teeth at 3 months so this has been a shock to us. But, it is so cute to see this huge, strong baby of ours without a single tooth in his mouth. I say that his mouth looks like that of a whale shark, what do you think?

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He may not have teeth yet, but this little boy chews on anything he can get his hands on!

Dawson tried stage 3 baby food but, without teeth, he had difficulty swallowing the pieces that weren’t pureed. So, he is still on stage 2 foods. He is taking between 4-6 6oz bottles of formula a day, along with 3 “meals” of baby food throughout the day. Of course the bottles depend on the day because sometimes he’ll need a little less or a little more. But, he regularly has a breakfast, lunch and dinner consisting of fruits, veggies, rice cereal and often a pureed protein. He loves yogurt ,and typically has that with breakfast or as a snack.

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Dawson’s favorite food: Yogurt in any flavor!

Dawson has always had a special bond with his Daddy. He was very attached to me while I was nursing, and I was a little upset that as he weaned that attachment started to slip. I understood that it was just that he no longer relied on me for nourishment, but it still hurt my heart a little bit. It is funny though, once Dawson started to really say my name over the last few weeks, he has wanted his Momma more and more. He wants me to hold him a little longer, gets a little cozier when we cuddle and he interacts with me a lot more. He is still a Daddy’s boy but he isn’t solely attached to him like he was right after I stopped nursing.

One of the biggest milestones for Dawson this month was that he stood on his own for the first time! Granted, it was for maybe a second but he has been really working on it. He can walk with assistance too. He holds onto furniture and then walks the length of whatever it is he is holding. We are going to the beach in a few weeks with my family and I’m a little hopeful that Dawson is standing on his own by then. I can imagine how precious it would be to see my little guy standing unassisted in the sand!

We’ve had a fun month watching Dawson grow and find his personality. I look forward to what this next month holds for our little one and I’ll be sure to share our experiences with you!

YOUR THOUGHTS: How old was your baby when he/she started cutting teeth? What milestones are you looking forward to experiencing with your child?

July 2015 Fitness Goals

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I have been really bad at not following through with my monthly goals. June was very difficult with my toe injury and honestly, I’ve been really focusing on weight loss goals instead of the bigger picture of monthly goals. Now that I have seen success with my weight loss (I’d like to lose more but I’m happy to be seeing progress) it is time for me to shake things up and accomplish a few other goals this month.

GOAL 1: Strength Training- I was able to stop wearing my medical shoe this week, so I am all cleared to get back to my regular exercises at the YMCA. My goal is to strength train at least 3 times a week. I have a Spartan Sprint coming up in September and have absolutely ZERO upper body strength! It is time to tighten up those muscles and find those abs that have been hiding under my baby belly. I have been missing kettle bell exercises and I’m looking forward to getting back to it!

GOAL 2: Run/Walk/Elliptical/Treadmill 50 Miles- Honestly, I originally wanted to log more miles for July. But, with my scheduling in mind, I think 50 miles is more of a realistic and attainable goal. I have my first 5K of the year on Saturday (Red, White and Blue Shoes). I will have only been out of my medical shoe for 6 days so my only goal for that race is to finish. I am researching half marathon training plans for a race I will be running in the fall. Any suggestions? I want to start training soon so that will be one tool I use in keeping myself accountable for my milage this month.

GOAL 3: Make Better Food Choices- We are usually pretty good at making sure that we meal plan each week, but we fell off the wagon last month and went out to eat way too much. This month I’d like to only go out to eat once a week (at most), have a few salads a week, grill A LOT, cut out the sweet stuff (ice cream is my weakness) and guzzle water. I eat plenty of fruit but I really need to get out of my comfort zone and try different veggies. I’d like to try a few new-to-us recipes this month as well.

GOAL 4: Lose 5 Pounds- If you follow me on Instagram then you know that I recommend splitting your major weight loss goal into 5 sub-goals. I’m currently on sub-goal #2 which is losing 13 pounds. I’ve lost two of those so far and if I lose five more this month I’ll have less than half of my sub-goal left to lose. If I make better food choices, run and focus on strength training as mentioned above, then losing 5 pounds this month should be easy to accomplish. 

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Be sure to follow me @greaterfitness on Instagram and Facebook to see updates on my July Fitness Goals!

I’m hoping that July will be a great month without any injuries. I feel like I am starting from scratch and that can be a little depressing. But, it is a good thing to change things up a bit and I’m excited to get started on these new goals!

YOUR THOUGHTS: What goals have you made for July? What are your plans for the holiday weekend?

Asheville 10K Recap

On June 6th, I participated in the Asheville 10K, held in beautiful Asheville, NC. When I registered a couple of months ago, I started using an excellent training plan. I was starting to be really pleased with my training, but then that dreaded six-letter word all runners fear happened: injury. My sister got married in May, and at her reception I hurt my toe while dancing. I had a few people look at it, but they thought it appeared to be jammed. I took some pain medicine and hobbled along on the dance floor the rest of the night. The pain was worse the next day. The top of my entire foot was black/blue/purple, and my toe was swollen. I taped my toes together, took pain reliever and assumed it would heal in a few days. It never really did though.

Needless to say, I stopped training completely and was planning on bailing on the 10K. However, one of my great friends from college (Kayla) registered, and this was going to be her first 10K. Then, another one of my amazing running friends (Renee) registered, along with her daughter (her daughter’s first 10K). My toe still hurt pretty badly, but I figured the thing was just really jammed. I checked to make sure the race was walker-friendly (it was!) so I decided that I would still participate, but I would be a walker with no goals other than to finish and get that medal at the finish! *I do not recommend running/walking on an injury without speaking with a doctor first. I learned my lesson with this race as you’ll see if you keep reading!*

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From my Instagram account. Follow me! @greaterfitness

The Friday night before the race the kid’s stayed the night at my parent’s house because we had an early race start, and they wouldn’t be going this time. Andrew and I had Chicken Bow Tie Pasta for dinner (our favorite and trusty pre-race meal-I’ll post the recipe soon), chugged water, I laid out my race gear and we went to bed way too late. The alarm went of Saturday morning at 4 a.m. We got dressed, and I put together my usual race day breakfast (1 bagel thin with nutella, a teaspoon of peanut butter on the side, banana and water) to eat in the car. Kayla and her husband Micheal (Andrew and Micheal were college roommates and we’ve all been friends ever since) met us at our apartment, and we hit the road around 4:30.

Asheville is around an hour and a half from our apartment. The drive was beautiful but very foggy. The area was packed with runners once we got near the race start. Andy dropped Kayla and I off while he and Micheal parked the car. We then met up with Renee and her daughter Madison. They were kind enough to pick up our race packets and bibs the day before at the expo. Soon after pinning our bibs on, the guys met up with us, the National Anthem was sung and the half marathoners started right at 7 a.m. Just a few minutes later, it was time for the 10K participants to start.

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Kayla, Madison, Renee and me before the start.

The gun went off and I stuck toward the back of the pack. I immediately lost sight of Kayla, but I could see Renee and Madison ahead of me for about the first half mile. I’ve never really walked an entire race before so I wasn’t sure what time to shoot for. I decided to focus on simply finishing. For the first time EVER, I flipped my Garmin around my wrist and vowed to not look at it until I hit each mile marker. I did not want to stress out about my finish time and disappoint myself.

Sign

There were several funny signs throughout the course.

The first mile had a few downhill areas. I actually started out with a slow jog that I was able to maintain without my toe throbbing. The weather was absolutely perfect. There was a slight fog, and the temp was cool but not cold. I left my earbuds out for the first half mile or so. This is something I started doing when I ran Disney for the first time. I enjoyed hearing the noise of shoes hitting pavement, the cheers from the crowds (I spotted Andy and Micheal and gave them a quick wave), the hustle and bustle of restaurants opening up for breakfast. I enjoyed just watching other runners, taking in the sights of the gorgeous mountains and quaint downtown atmosphere. I soon saw the Mile Marker 1.

Mile 1

Mile Marker 1

MILE 1: 13:35

I hit mile marker 1 and flipped over my watch. I actually was ok with that time. My fastest mile ever as an adult took 10 minutes. I was in the best shape of my life at the time too. Given the status of my toe, the fact that I have weight to still lose, and I haven’t been in a race since last February-I was quite happy with the time. If I could keep that pace up and my toe kept cooperating I would be pleased with my finish time. I sent Andy a quick text letting him know all was good with the toe and I was feeling great.

Weather

The weather was so nice early on in the race. Mile 2 was my favorite stretch on the course.

After the first mile marker, the course took us out of the residential area and onto the main highway. Thankfully, there were plenty of officers out who were directing traffic away from the course. This would not be the case later on the course, but I’ll get to that in a bit. This stretch was foggy, and the temperature felt great. This was my favorite stretch of the course because it was so quiet. We ran by wooded areas and a really pretty stream. There was a small band set up on the side of the road too, but my picture turned out blurry.

I was feeling ok at this point. Toe was still in good shape. My KT Tape started to unravel, and I had to stop and rip it off my shins-ouch! (Quick Tip: Do not put on KT Tape in the car on the way to your race. Worse application ever.) While I loved this stretch,  it felt like it was never ending. Soon, I found out why when I saw this:

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Mile Marker 3

Say what?! There wasn’t a marker for mile 2, and because I wasn’t looking at my Garmin until I hit the markers, I never knew that I passed mile 2 and was finishing mile 3. This was actually a nice surprise, because I was about halfway done with the race and was still feeling ok. My toe was a little sore, and I had switched from jogging to walking somewhere between these miles. Mentally, I felt great, and was really enjoying the course. I certainly wasn’t leading the pack, but I was around the middle.

MILE 2: 14:13

MILE 3: 15:19

I think you can look at those times and see when I started to walk! As good as I felt the past miles, it all went away as I began the endless climb of Mile 4.

Immediately after crossing the Mile 3 marker the course started to incline. I thought to myself “I’ll walk to the top of this hill then start jogging again. That’ll make up my loss of time.” That plan was short-lived. The hill didn’t end. Instead, I’d reach the top of the hill, make a turn to the left, then BAM – another hill. Reach the top of that hill, turn left then BAM – another hill. At this point, my toe was in a lot of pain. The funny thing is, I wasn’t uncomfortable anywhere else. Usually, I have shin splints, and without KT Tape I was sure I’d start feeling the burn in my shins, but I never did. I sent Andy a text telling him I was the last person now, and I was feeling defeated. The race organizers put up another one of their signs at the top of the final hill (for that mile) and had a water station where Gatorade, and cookies were also served.

MILE 4: 18:44

I looked at my watch and was pretty frustrated, I won’t lie to you. I knew that my body could do better than that. I remembered weighing over 200 pounds a couple of years ago and the very first mile I ran taking me over 20 minutes. I had gotten my mile down to 10 minutes since then, finished a half marathon among many other distances, and I had fallen in love with running. My training was going great before my toe injury, and I felt like I was starting to get back to my pre-baby capabilities. Needless to say, I threw myself a pity party for a bit. I started to tear up because I felt like my old self again. I didn’t see the point in even trying to finish the race because my mile had just taken almost 20 minutes. I was disappointed, frustrated, and fighting a lapse in self-confidence. I was so pissed off by the time I saw the water station. I took a sip of water, grabbed a cookie then seconds later proceeded to choke on the cookie, coughing up bits of sugary sweetness all over myself.

“Shake it off,” I told myself, and I actually listened. After the race I told Andrew that I had a “come to Jesus meeting” with myself at that point. I was participating in a race for the first time in over a year. I had a plan to walk and a goal to just finish. I needed to stick to that plan and goal. I was walking on an injury. I made it my mission when I started this blog to motivate the average person and to inspire them to be a greater version of themselves with greater experiences. I may not ever place in a race or be a size 0, but I was pushing my body through a challenge physically and mentally. That is what my fitness journey is about. I wiped my tears away, sucked it up and shook it off. Who cared what my finish time was going to be? I didn’t. I turned my watch over and didn’t flip it back until after the race.

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“Run Now. Whine Later.” Pretty appropriate for me at that point in the race.

You can see in this picture that we finally started to go downhill at this intersection. The problem was that there was traffic everywhere! The officers (particularly the female officer you see in the yellow vest) were extremely rude to the race participants. At this point I thought I was the last runner, but there was a small group behind me. I heard the officer tell them to “hurry it up” and “at least run through the intersection” because of the cars. A man behind me said, “But we are so tired and just finished an entire mile uphill.” She did not care, and kept barking orders at him. Having run many organized races, I found her statements to be extremely rude and unprofessional. I understand if you have a course on the highway and need to protect runners from cars. However, there was plenty of highway that we ran on, with MANY cars and NO officers directing traffic at several large intersections throughout the race. The course should have been closed, had a cut off time to allow traffic back in, had more officers to patrol or remap the course off the highway.

MILE 5: 15:58

A negative split-woo hoo! I was mentally doing better at this point. My toe hurt like absolute hell, but I knew that I was going to achieve my goal of crossing the finish line, getting that gorgeous medal and soon I’d be off my feet. Jogging and even a brisk walk weren’t even something for me to consider after mile 4. I just walked at my normal pace. I listened to iTunes on my phone. I had conversation with myself. I told myself to remember how humbling this experience was. To hold on to every emotion and detail of this race so that when I one day cross a full marathon finish line, I’ll know how freaking hard I worked to get there. I reminded myself that I could really only get better from here and promised myself that I would. Can you tell those last two miles were “good for the soul” kind of miles?

I pulled out my phone to text Andy around the 5 1/2 mile. I wanted to make sure he was at the finish waiting on me. He had been texting me off and on to check on my toe (at some point during the race we decided to bite the bullet and that I’d be going to the doctor the next day to finally see what was wrong with the thing). Before I could hit send he was at my side. He wanted to walk the rest of it with me! It was so nice to have that time with him. He told me that Kayla had finished with a great time and that Renee and Madison came through the finish soon after her. He walked with me to mile 6 then went to the finish to wait for me to cross.

MILE 6: 17:54

I walked across the finish mat at 1:41:07 official time (1:41:06 Garmin). A volunteer handed me my beautiful medal and then I met my handsome husband and awesome friends for photos and the after party!

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Proud of our new bling!

The after party was held at a huge park just past the finish. There was an amphitheater with a band, several food vendors that included Earth Fare (free bagels, bananas and protein drinks) and Sierra Nevada (free beer for participants). It was nice to mingle for a bit and see the half marathon finishers as well. Their medals looked like ours, but it had a spinner in the middle and I think the ribbon was a different color.

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Lucky Andy kept my beer because I don’t drink it. They need to add a wine vendor for next year’s race!

We finished up at the after party then made our way to a little New Orleans-style restaurant for a quick bite to eat. They had beignets on the menu and I had to order them. I can’t find them in my part of South Carolina (can they be found in South Carolina at all?) I’ve only had them once at Disney World and they are sinfully delicious. The order came with four huge ones, but I could only eat two.

Final Thoughts and Injury Update:

The Good-

  • Weather was perfect
  • Great medal
  • After party was very nice
  • Race volunteers were great (except the police officers)
  • Price (I paid $50 and I believe that included a late registration fee)
  • Good amount of water stops
  • I would do it again!

The Bad-

  • Police and traffic on course as I mentioned in the recap
  • Participants could not pick up packets the morning of the race

The Toe-

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That explains everything…

The morning after the race, I went to the doctor and had x-rays taken. My toe was broken in 2 places at my sister’s wedding. You can see a dark mark on my last toe across the top. That is the first break. The second is the little piece that is chipped away on the side. The doctor said that he could tell it had been healing for about 3 weeks from my taping it. However, I was ordered to wear that ugly shoe for 3 weeks to help it finish healing. It is supposed to keep me flat footed and prevent me from leading with my toes when I walk. I asked him if it was caused by my 10K before and he said no. Thankfully, the 10K didn’t make things worse, but it does explain why I had been hurting for weeks over a silly little toe. I definitely learned my lesson with this injury. I know to trust my gut from now on when it comes to injuries. It is better to have it looked and nothing be wrong than to unknowingly race on a break.

Have you ever raced the Asheville 10K and Half Marathon? Have you made the mistake of running when you had an injury?