Half-Marathon Recap!

Hi friends! I’m excited to share with you a big item I checked off my bucket list – we ran our first half marathon! Our weekend kicked off Friday afternoon when Derek picked me up from work and we made the drive to Orlando, where our half marathon was taking place the next morning. Since the race began at 7 a.m., we agreed it was a good idea to stay in a nearby hotel the night before so we wouldn’t have to worry about making the drive early Saturday morning. The Embassy Suites in downtown Orlando was 2 blocks from the race start – talk about convenient!

After checking in at our hotel and enjoying a complimentary happy hour…

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…we ventured over to 310 Lakeside to take in some serious carbs. We shared a zucchini flat bread and each got the Chicken Piccata pasta. It was the perfect ore-race meal.

After dinner, we took a walk around Lake Eola, and enjoyed the Christmas celebration that was taking place , before calling it a night.
Our alarm went off around 5:30 Saturday morning. I get a little anxious when it comes to things like races, flights etc. and feel the need to get up a little earlier than necessary. We both had some cereal, coffee and a Gu energy gel and left our room for the race around 6:35.

As soon as I lined up at the starting line, I immediately got the jitters. I’ve wanted to run a half marathon since the day I began running, and we’d trained so long for this race that I couldn’t believe it was finally time to actually get the job done.

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[Full of jitters when Derek snapped this pic]

Our goal for the race was to finish in “around” 2 hours, and my gut feeling was that we would come in a couple minutes over the 2 hour mark. As this was our first half-marathon, our training really was focused on just getting the miles in, and we were never too concerned with tracking our time or splits during our training runs. Because of this, I knew I couldn’t put too much pressure on myself to maintain a 9-minute mile to come in under 2 hours.

We ran each mile somewhere between 8:40 and 9:20ish, and fueled with Gu at mile 7 and mile 11. Derek also grabbed a beer that was passed out by spectators around mile 9, and he insists it’s what got him through the race (I’d most likely throw up if I drank a beer during a run). Around mile 10 we realized that we were on pace to complete the half-marathon in under 2 hours, and that all we needed to do was maintain a 10 minute per mile pace for the next 3 miles.

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I was mildly annoyed when we came across several hills during the last few miles, but was surprised when I found that the hills made my sore knees and ankles feel a little better.

We rounded the corner and saw the finish line in the distance, with about 2 minutes until the 2 hour mark. I definitely can’t say that I sprinted to the end, but a light jog took us through the finish line at 1:59:22! I was so excited to be done with the race, and stuff my face with muffins, bananas, and H20 as Derek chugged chocolate milk after chocolate milk.

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Soreness set in immediately, and we made sure to stretch as soon as we got some food and water in our bodies. The soreness lasted through Monday night, and we took our first post-race run first thing Tuesday morning. It felt good to shake things out, and I’m already looking forward to running another half in the spring!

How to Fuel for a Half Marathon

As you guys may know from my recent posts, I’m completing my first half marathon this weekend. I tend to over-anticipate and work myself up over all races, even 5Ks, so you can imagine that I’m feeling anxious/excited for this big race. In addition to putting in the proper training, it’s just as crucial to fuel your body properly for longer races, and that’s what I’m focusing on doing this week. I found the following article really helpful, and thought you guys may too!

“How to Fuel for a Half-Marathon

Three great tips on carb-loading and fueling so you don’t hit the wall during your next 13.1.

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Dear Fuel School, I’m getting ready to run a half-marathon this weekend. If I need to carb-load, what should I consume before the start of the race, and how do I fuel to avoid hitting the wall mid-race?

Great questions! I too am gearing up for a half-marathon this weekend and the Runner’s World Half-Marathon Festival next month, so I’ve been busy planning my carb-load and pre-race breakfast. (When you’re a nutrition nerd, you tend to sleep, eat, and breathe race fueling.)
So first things first—the carb-load. You might be wondering if it’s as necessary for 13.1 as it is for 26.2. Honestly, I think it can’t hurt. A carb-load prior to a half-marathon needn’t last as long or be as intense, but it is still important and will have a positive impact on your race performance. Technically speaking, carb-loading really comes into play any time you are out on the road for more than 90 minutes. Carb-loading tends to lead to a bit of stiffness (because your muscles are fully stocked with glycogen) and weight gain (water retention), so for shorter events it’s really not recommended.
Since most of us take longer than 90 minutes to complete a half-marathon, my recommendation is that you carb-load in the days prior to the race. You can carb-load in as little as one day, but to prevent carb fatigue and the worry of “Am I taking in enough?” aim to start two to three days before the half-marathon. You don’t necessarily need to increase your calories—just make sure the majority of those calories come from carbs, especially at lunch and dinner the day before race day. Given time, your body can digest, absorb, and store the nutrients, and you’ll be able to rely on those fuel stores on the next day’s run. The day before race day, have your main meal at midday and a smaller meal for dinner so you have plenty of time to digest.
The pre-race meal is also very important, as you want to toe the starting line with a tank that’s primed but neither empty nor overflowing. For more ideas on what to consume pre-race, check out this past lesson on how to fuel for an early morning run (since most races are held in the early a.m. hours).
Now that we’ve covered carb-loading and what to eat before the race, it’s time to tackle your final question: “How do I avoid running on empty in those last few miles of the race?” As you may have noticed during your training, when you’re on the road for fewer than 75 minutes, you can usually rely on water, sports drinks, and your body’s own glycogen stores to carry you along. Any longer, and you begin to deplete those stores. Your muscles run out of fuel, and your body — not to mention your attitude — starts to drag. Consuming carbs mid-run can keep your blood sugar steady, so you don’t crash and burn.
Instead of recommending something new on race day, here are some common techniques for fueling which should help you blow by that late-race wall. Since every runner is different, you may want to try one or more of the following tips during training. Maybe all of them will work, and you’ll have plenty of options to thwart the feelings of weakness in those last few miles!
Tip #1: Make sure to take in adequate fuel the day before your long run. While you are at rest, your body will have adequate time and energy to absorb and store those nutrients you ate, and then you’ll be able to rely on this fuel for the following day. And don’t forget to eat a carb-rich, low-fiber, easy-to-digest, familiar breakfast the morning of the race!
Tip #2: Fuel at regular intervals and before you need to. Wait until you’re out of gas, and you won’t be able to recover from feeling hungry or weak. Your muscles will be forced to play catch-up, and you won’t be able to bounce back and finish the run feeling strong. If you’ve ever had a long run that started strong and then got slower and slower, it may be time to consider what you did during the first few miles of the long runs that you didn’t do during the last few miles. Many runners head out the door with a full tank but, feeling great, they neglect to re-fuel over the next few miles. If you don’t start fueling within that first hour, it’s likely that your empty-tank will catch up with you, and you’ll bonk. Not only will you hit the wall, but once your muscle glycogen stores are depleted, it can be very difficult to adequately recover during your run (and you may have to walk or crawl the last few miles). My advice to avoid this whole mess? Aim for 30-60 grams of carb per hour (and start using your chews, gels, or sports drinks early and often).
#3: Don’t be afraid of fuel. Maybe you’ve tried a product in the past and didn’t care for it or it didn’t sit well with you. If that’s the case, know that there are always new products coming out. Try a variety of products and brands. For ideas on the many different fuel options available, check out this post on energy gels and this post on alternatives to energy gels. Don’t be afraid to experiment with a few different products and see what works for you. Whatever concentrated form of fuel you are taking in, remember to dilute it with adequate water (or else it won’t be absorbed, and you will get nauseous). Lastly, find out what gel/product your race will be handing out. If you can tolerate or like the brand that the race is handing out, you’ll know that you won’t need to pack your own on race day. But if their chosen brand doesn’t work for you, you’ll need to plan ahead. In addition, you might try to find out at what miles the race will be handing out product and mimic that in your training to practice for race day.
Best of luck this weekend! I’ll be thinking of you and other readers as I tackle my own 13.1-mile challenge!”

A Hungry Girl’s Favorite Week + Photo Share 11/25

Hi strangers! I have missed you all so much the past few days! How has everyone been? I am SO excited that Thanksgiving is almost here – I can barely control myself! Does it get any better than an entire day filled with food, family, and a little bit of football? The special traditions every family has during the holidays is probably my favorite part of it all. My dad and I always run a Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving morning, and then go home and watch the Macy’s Day Parade with my mom. It’s one of my favorite mornings of the year, and I’m excited Derek will be spending it with us this year!

This weekend was a wonderful kick-off to the holidays, and I’m grateful to have spent so much time with family and friends the past few days. 

As usual, I’m going to share my weekend with you guys in my favorite fashion – through pictures, of course!

Friday evening after work, Derek and I kicked off the weekend with a short 3 mile run. Derek has been crazy busy working the past few weeks, and our runs have been a great time for us to catch up and have some time to do nothing but talk to each other. One of my favorite parts of running is the time I get to spend with the people I’m running with – whether it is Derek, my dad, or a friend, it’s always great to share that special time with someone!

After our run, when we were having the typical “I don’t care – you pick where we go to dinner” conversations, our indecisive struggle was put to an end when we got a call from Derek’s mom inviting us over for Mexican Soup! I know I’ve said it a million times before, but I love her cooking and could never turn it down. We quickly cleaned up and headed over to spend the evening over there.

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Dinner was DEEELISH as usual, and I spent the rest of the night cuddling on Sam…
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And enjoying way too much Yogurtology. Is that even a thing? Too much Yogurtology? Probably not. aaaa

We also had fun watching Ben watch the Season 2 finale of Homeland (the best show in the history of television). If you’ve never watched Homeland, I cannot recommend that show enough. Please, do yourself a favor, get Showtime, and go watch it!! aaaaaa

After a 30 minute elliptical sesh (I really don’t love that thing), and a CXWorx class, I spent the day with my parents and Louie on Saturday! I helped them decorate the house for Christmas, and they returned the favor by helping me at Derek’s house! I’m feeling super thankful for my parents this week (and every week, for that matter)!
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We spent Saturday evening with Derek’s parents and neighborhood friends at a neighborhood shrimp boil! This was only my second shrimp boil (remember my first?) and it really made me wonder why we don’t do shrimp boils more often. We had such a fun night eating too much shrimp + cornbread muffins and drinking way too much wine.
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Speaking of wine.. I was pretty worried that I shouldn’t have had those few glasses of wine the night before the longest run of my life so far. But, surprisingly, our 12 mile training run on Sunday was my most enjoyable long run yet. I’m amazed at what a real training plan can do for you. Each week my body feels more and more comfortable with longer distances – I never thought I would be someone to run 12 miles and enjoy it, but I’m really glad it’s developed that way! Our half marathon is in 12 days, and I’m so excited for the day to finally get here.
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Don’t worry, Louie only came with me the last 1/2 mile – which probably was the most distracting half mile of my life.

I was so excited on Sunday when I got an invite to come to a “Friendsgiving” at our friends’ Gabby and Maggie’s house. The party was a hit, and it was such a lovely way to get in the mood for Thanksgiving. We all love spending the holidays with family, but I’m so happy the “Friendsgiving” tradition has started, because I love that I get to celebrate being thankful for all my awesome friends!bb

The food. was. so. good. I’m going to need a couple of recovery days for my stomach to shrink back to normal size from all the delicious appetizers, turkey, stuffing, potatoes, mac n cheese, delicious salad and corn casserole we ate. Oh and then came dessert. It was really a hungry girl’s dream come true.food food2

I brought a new-to-me dish to the party – pimento cheese balls rolled in toasted pecans. I can’t wait to share the recipe with you guys! bbbbbbbbb

And one of my favorite parts of the party was the “what I’m thankful for” props to take pictures with. Please note: Will Ferrell, Natty Lite, Jameis Winston, Chick Fil A… Not pictured: DVR, Publix BOGO (THE GREATEST). These girls hit the nail on the head with what I’m grateful for!bbb

Happy Thanksgiving week, everyone! I hope you all have a blessed week with your families, eat plenty of food, and take some time to consider all the wonderful things we can all be thankful for this year and every year!freeendz

It’s Official

It’s official. We registered for our first half marathon yesterday. Derek and I are running in the OUC Orlando Half Marathon in early December, and to say I’m excited is an understatement. As soon as I filled out the registration form and clicked “Register”, I felt a second of that rush you get the morning of a big race. I can only imagine how I’m going to feel when the day actually arrives!

The race website offers a suggested training plan to prepare for the race, and we started the plan this week. It starts off with a lot of 3 mile runs, which I’m happy about because it will help me with a 5K I’m running in 3 weeks. Talk about killing 2 birds with 1 stone.

In other news, I did one of the most artsy things of my life yesterday. I made these:

image_1I was always the least talented child in art class, so this is a major accomplishment for me. I’ll walk you through the steps I took to complete it in another post!

And to celebrate our anniversary yesterday, Derek and I played tennis (naturally), and went to a new-to-us wine bar/restaurant, called The Wine Studio.

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The Wine Studio was very cozy, and almost gave the feeling that we were drinking wine and eating apps in a friends living room. The food was delicious (we had the salmon carpaccio and the warm spinach and artichoke dip, both prepared in-house), and the service was friendly, so we’ll definitely return!

I’m a little sore this morning from Pure Barre yesterday and Bodypump the day before, so perhaps today will just be a run day. I’ve been focusing so hard on varying my fitness routine that I think I’ve gotten slower the past couple of weeks. Maybe one day the “Fast feets” part of my blog name will come true!

Happy Friday and happy weekend, friends!

Seven Ways To Make September Sensational

I LOVE a new month! The beginning of a new month feels like a fresh start, and a great opportunity to set new goals and try out new activities. The following seven things/activities/ideas represent how I plan to make September Sensational!

1. Cook with seasonal produce! September is great because summer vegetables are still around and fall produce is starting to come into season. In the beginning of the month, try cooking with avocado, mango, tomatoes and summer squash. Pretty soon, these tasty veggies are going to be set aside, as sweet potatoes, figs, pumpkin and butternut squash take center stage.
2. Set a new fitness or health goal – mine is to train for my first half marathon. I began training late last week, and I’m following this training plan. Derek and I plan to run our first half-marathon in Orlando this December. Maybe you want to try out a new fitness class, or start incorporating more produce into your meals – now is the time to start!

3. Savor the last bit of summer by throwing a pool party or summer BBQ.
4. Take a step into fall in the latter part of the month by hosting a football tailgate for friends, or attend a game of your favorite team.
5. Start reading a new book. I’ve spent this summer reading auto-biographies, comical books, dramas, and self-help books. While I do love the instant download on my iPad or Kindle, I’ve been ordering books off of Amazon lately, saving up to 75% and enjoying the “old-school” hard copy.
6. Find a halloween outfit – I’m not sure if I’ll be dressing up, but I plan to have fun finding a costume for Louie. I’m thinking he’d be an adorable Minion from Despicable Me.

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7. This may sound crazy, but I start brainstorming Christmas gifts right around this time. By the time the holidays roll around, I’ve already found the perfect personal gifts for family and friends, and don’t feel like I’ve gone broke spending all my money at once!

What do you plan to do this month to make it a special one? Please share!

Happy National Running Day

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Happy National Running Day, my friends! I run for happiness, to refresh my mind and soul, to stay healthy, and for the rush it gives me! I’m so happy that I learned to tolerate running. This toleration quickly turned to love and I don’t know what I’d do without it!

Why do you run?

What kind of run will you be doing today to celebrate?

If you’re interested in running a half or a full, the Rock n Roll Series is offering a discount on their races, as is the Women’s Half Marathon Series.. I like their way of celebrating the holiday 😉

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