Saturday, January 24, 2015

Half Marathon training in full swing (again)

I saw the graphic on Facebook and I nearly had a panic attack.  Only 100 days until the Pittsburgh Marathon weekend....which means I need to get my butt in gear for training for the half marathon. 

I have decided that I am going to take on a new approach to my training though.  Along with the obvious training runs that I have to do, I am doing as much cross training as I can to help strengthen my core and legs.  I think that it will make a huge difference to how I run and my endurance.

I've taken up yoga, Body Pump, 21 Day Fix workouts and spin classes.  I will do other things to cross train along the way but those are the main ones. 

I went on a 5.60 mile run today in the cold and snow.  It was not easy at all.  It was probably my hardest run ever and I didn't have music to help distract me or get me into a nice rhythm.  I think that may have been the biggest factor.

I got the run in though and I joined the local running store's group run to get it in. I liked it and I am hoping to go again next week when they will have a Saucony rep there so we can try their shoe while we run and see if we like them! 

This is me during my run and the scenery, with my final run results up top.  My time was certainly not the best but that's okay.  The mileage is more important to me than the time. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Another Year Gone, Another Year Ahead

Yesterday was my birthday.  I am officially 36 years old and I am loving it.  I don't worry much about age and adding the years up.  I feel much younger than I am and when I say my age, the number always sounds weird to me, like it isn't really true.

I felt good yesterday even though I had to work both jobs and had a good amount of running around to do.

The last year of my life had been full of ups and downs.  Many more than I can even count.  I had some really bad times when I wasn't sure where my life was heading and I had some really great times when I felt on top of the world.  That is how life works though, right? 

I look forward to a year full of awesome possibilities and reaching for my dreams.  I look forward to creating new memories with my loved ones and starting new adventures. 

I came home from work a little grumpy because it was a long day but my husband and kids surprised me with cards and  a cookie cake.  It was very much appreciated.  They lit candles and sang to me too.  I really loved it.

36 isn't so bad so far............

My birthday morning selfie turned out great, if I do say so myself! ;)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Off to a great start

Well, I am back from my hiatus and really to get rolling for a successful, happy, full of fun 2015!

I have been busier than ever but I want to get back to some fun and one of the best things for me was getting my thoughts and feelings out on my blog so I'm back! 

I will say that 2015 has gotten off to a great start and I am so happy with where this year is heading.

I have spent the past couple of months focusing on things that matter to me, first and foremost, my marriage. We weren't really on the rocks or headed for divorce or anything but we needed to focus more on us.  We started by making sure that we went on a date every week.  So, every Friday or Saturday, we go out for dinner and a few drinks.  Nothing fancy but it's necessary. Chuck always says to me that "before the kids and our jobs, it was us."  That has become my motto for our marriage, we need to remember that we are the foundation of our family and having that time to bond and focus on each other is absolutely a priority.  Even if it means 2-3 hours together, the outcome has been great.  We are laughing more, we are remembering what we love about each other and it's something to look forward to every week.  There's nothing better than knowing I get my best friend all to myself every week!

We have been trying to make sure that we are keeping the kids grounded...not in the punishment sense. We want to know that in a society where kids are spoiled, ungrateful and mouthy, we are not allowing it from our kids.  It isn't always easy since they are surrounded by kids that are given everything they could want and get them simply by telling their parents to get it for them.  We weren't raised that way and our kids aren't being raised that way.  We work hard for everything we have...our kids will as well.  In the process, we are trying to spend time as a family.  We are watching movies, sitting around talking and just hanging out together. We want our kids to know that we are here for them.  That they can talk to us and trust us.  It's not easy raising teenagers!!

Personal goals.  I have a lot of them.  Some of them are easily attainable, as long as I focus on the goal.  Most are things I need to put my best effort into and I plan on checking in on my goals every month to check my progress.  Here are a few of them: run 2 half marathons, be a better wife, mom, sister, daughter and friend, build my business, make my goal weight, tone and firm muscles, go on a family vacation and a weekend away with Chuck.  I have also come to realize that some goals are going to depend on my reaching other goals. 

I have already run one race this year and I bettered my time for that particular race.  My goal is to do at least one race every month and I need to finish my race calendar and work on registering for them.

I am excited for where 2015 will take me, my family and everyone else.  I am hopeful that this will be a great year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The United Healthcare Western PA Pride 12-Day Challenge

 Post a selfie from any event to enter to win $100

Do you enjoy Western PA?  Do you have pride in being active with your family, your pets or yourself?  If so, I encourage you to enter the United Healthcare Western PA Pride, 12-Day Challenge!! 

Get out and get active, take a picture of you being active around your city (in western PA) and enter it in the challenge for a chance to win a prize!  Each day from December 13th through December 24th, United Healthcare is giving out a $25 cash gift card to one lucky winner!!  There are several chances to win if you enter everyday!! 

It is very easy to slip into some bad habits and forget about staying active as the weather turns colder.  Here in western PA, we've had some dreary weather that makes us want to sit under a blanket and watch some holiday movies or bake those yummy holiday treats. All that is fine but we need to keep moving and stay active to be the healthiest we can be. 

There are many benefits to staying active, such as: a healthier heart, a better mood, increased metabolism and showing others that they, too, can be active. 

You can head over to the Western PA Pride contest here to enter! 

I have entered myself and I am hoping to win a prize!!  We can all use the money and I love encouraging others to get out and get active.  It can be as simple as taking a walk or playing outside with your kids.  Here are a few of my photos of myself being active:

If there is one thing about people in this area, it is that they are proud to call western PA home so get out, get active and get those photos entered into the United Healthcare Western PA Pride 12-Day Challenge!!  Share the contest with your friends so they can enter for their chance to win a prize too!

Disclaimer: I was contacted to share the United Healthcare Western PA Pride 12-Day Challenge with my readers.  The photos and content in this post are mine.  I was not scripted for this post and I will be compensated for my time and opinion.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Race Recap: EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler

I remember seeing the information for this race last year and I wanted to do it but honestly, it scared me.  I'm not quite sure why, because at that time, I was in training for my first half marathon.  I didn't do it and I went on with life.

Fast forward to this year.  At the beginning of 2014, I decided that I wanted to do more races.  I wanted to do different distances, I wanted to just do more.  I have achieved that and one of the new race distances I tried was this ten miler!

I had been thinking about it but I wasn't sure because I had my half marathon 22 days before the ten miler.  I wasn't sure if I could turn around and do another long distance run that soon.  I decided to sign up and go for it.  Why not?!

After my half marathon, I didn't run much.  In fact, it took me nine days to get out and run and even when I did, it wasn't easy.  I did five miles and it took me much longer and it was much harder than before. I decided that as long as I kept consistent with doing at least 3-4 miles, 3 days a week, I could do this.   I didn't do that.  The days were busy and they passed quickly.  I ran 8 miles a week before the race to make sure I could handle the long distance. However, even when I did that, I was doing run/walk intervals.

I went into the race with no real plan of action.  I had no idea if I was going to do intervals or if I was going to attempt to run the whole thing.  I had a friend that I was running with so she really pushed me.

We started out with a plan to run at a 10:30-11:00minute/mile pace to keep us consistent throughout the entire run. We started out faster than that. For the first five miles, we were running a bit faster than that pace but we felt good.  We decided to just go with it and base our run off of how we felt.  She pushed us along and we were feeling good. It was probably pretty aggressive for me and I started to feel tired around mile 6 but I wasn't going to give in.  I couldn't.  My friend wasn't about to let me stop.  She was so good and kept saying, "we got this, you CAN do this!"  Did I mention that she is 13 years older than me and a real powerhouse?!

Around mile 8-9, she wanted to bump up the speed for a quicker finish.  I just couldn't and I started to fall a bit behind. I started to feel a pain in the middle of my foot and I wasn't about to push it and injure myself.  I was able to take a walk break and get going again for a good finish.  It was a wonderful race and I do plan on doing it again next year.  I hope to get more ladies to run it and do a group run.  It was great to have the experience of running that distance with a friend.

Here is a link to my official photos, I LOVE them but they charge so much for them and I just can't justify buying them. :(

This race has me excited for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon where I will get to see even more of the city on foot.  The city is such a spectacular sight to see.

Here are my EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler stats:
Finish Time: 1:46:56
Pace: 10:41min/mile
#1691 of 2395 women
#3241 overall
#291 of 424 in my age group

Not too shabby if I do say so myself!

Here's a few of my favorite pics:

Sorry about the quality, I couldn't screenshot them or get them clear on my phone so I am stuck with pictures of the computer monitor! haha.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Race Recap: Buffalo Creek Half Marathon 2014

The Buffalo Creek Half Marathon is one of my favorite races.  Yes, I have only done it one other time but the scenery is beautiful, the course is easy and the race organizers are wonderful. 

The race was on Saturday, October 18th and started at 9am.  The temp was around 50 with dark, rain clouds looming above.  There was a cold breeze and everyone was just ready to get moving.  I met up with a few other ladies and we huddled together to stay warm until the start. 

I had to keep reminding myself that I could not start off too fast because that is what everyone does and it will only hurt me in the end if I start too quickly.  This is a long run and I needed to conserve energy. 

As I was running, I was keeping up with the girls I was huddled up with but I very quickly realized that they were running faster than what I had planned for so I slowed my pace.  I ended up right next to a friend and so I started to run with her pack.  They had the same exact pace plan as I did and so we ran. 

I was feeling good and keeping up.  I was listening to music in one ear and holding up conversation with them.  It's funny some of the things we talked about while running.  The same sorts of things you talk about while you are sitting around at a friend's house.......the best bras, boob sizes, clothing, drinking, etc.  It was like an active gathering to chat.

The course is on a trail through the woods.  The trail was previously a railway that was converted to a bike/walk/run trail.  There are trailheads that intersect with roads and at those points, spectators are welcome to park and watch the runners.  As we were coming up to a trailhead, I saw my parents.  My dad was there, ready with his camera and my mom (she's a high energy nut) was jumping up and down, waving her arms, yelling "I love you! Great job! My baby!" My dad captured this picture of us at that time......
That is me on the left with the pink socks, running to my mom!  A great moment captured that really expresses how happy I was to see my parents.  I was so thankful for that and for their support.  There is nothing like running a long distance race, wondering if you are going to make it, getting tired and then seeing your parents cheering you on. It gave me a boost in my run and I felt a lot better.

That was, I believe around mile 8-9.  We continued on and I was starting to get tired and my legs were feeling heavy.  My breathing wasn't where it needed to be.  My body was starting to hate me.  I trained for this but maybe, it just still wasn't enough.  I started to lag behind a bit from the girls.  As the mile went on, I fell farther behind.  I didn't expect them to wait for me or slow down for me, this was just as much their race as it was mine so they continued on as I slowed. 

I was feeling terrible about what was happening and I questioned myself a few times about whether I could catch up and push myself to stay with them. The distance was too far and I knew that even if I could catch up, I wouldn't be able to keep up. So, I began running alone.  It is so lonely to run alone when you are 10 miles into a half marathon.  Mile 10-11 was tough....the toughest.  I had the same experience last year at this point.  My legs were heavy and wanting to give up.  That was not an option. 

I pushed ahead and was even able to smile for a picture as I passed a photographer:

 This is a major improvement from last year's picture at this point, last year, I was looking like I may just die so I made sure to smile and give a thumb's up! When you get to this point, you start to do a countdown.  You know that you have less than 3 miles to go and you can do it. The end is closer than the beginning and you feel a bit better.

The last few miles were still tough but I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I was nearing the end and as I came across the bridge to snake to the finish line, my dad caught this picture of me:
When you get to this point in the race, you can see the finish line and I have to say that I was so happy to see that.  It gave me just what I needed to keep going to finish the race. Here are the two finish line pics of me:

I finished with a time of 2:20:59!  My time from last year was 2:32:40 so I had a 12 minute decrease in time and a new PR!!  This year was definitely easier than last year because I trained more and better. All in all, I am so proud of this accomplishment and I can't wait to do it again next year. 

Next up on the running schedule:
Pittsburgh area MRTT Donut Run
EQT 10 Miler

Monday, October 20, 2014

Aviva Advanced Hair Nutrition Review

I was chosen through the lovely folks over at Bulu, to participate in a great review of a product that was made to help with hair nutrition.  It was exactly what I needed.  There I was sitting there with this dried out, boring hair that could really use some intervention. 

Aviva Advanced Hair Nutrition is said to help with the following:
            * Boosts Length
            * Builds Strength
            * Improves Texture
            * Increases Shine
            * Balances Hair Health
            * Reduces Shedding

Now, of all of those benefits, the ones that I really was interested in or needed the most help with were: strength, shine and reduced shedding.  I always had a lot of breakage, dull hair and major shedding.  I was like a German Shepherd during the spring when they shed all their undercoat! 
Take one capsule, twice a day with food.
 After taking two capsules a day for 30 days, I have noticed a major difference!!  First, the reduced shedding is amazing.  My family is no longer finding my hair all over the house and the shower drain is thanking me and Aviva for the clear flow it can now experience! 

My hair is definitely stronger and shinier as well.  I am so happy with how my hair is breaking less and I feel like if I continue with this regimen, it will continue to gain strength.  I do see more of a shine to my hair as well, however, I feel like I need to allow more time for that. 

Another thing that I really appreciate about Aviva is the science and explanation behind it.  I am the type of person that wants as much information as possible.  They include an informational packet in the box that explains their products and how they work.  It also lays out the timeline/phases of hair growth and strengthening.  

Aviva has been seen in many media outlets, such as: Elle Magazine, Lucky Magazine, Essence, Bazaar, Self, The Huffington Post, Fox News, and has had special features in Brides Magazine and NBC. 

There are many success stories online about Aviva and what it has done for others.  You can check them out here.

Overall, I am happy with my results so far with Aviva Advanced Hair Nutrition.  I would recommend it to anyone looking for stronger, healthier hair.  I may even try out some of their other products to further help my hair. 

Disclaimer: I was not paid monetarily for this review.  I was provided a supply of Aviva Advanced Hair Nutrition in exchange for my honest opinion and review of the product.  All opinions are mine and I was not scripted for this review.