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. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Yikes! Where Was I?!

I took a short break from the blog over the last few weeks as I was super busy and life just has a way of getting in the way, you know?!

I've been continuing with my running and working out to prepare for my upcoming half marathon which is now only 3 days away!! I am starting to get anxious and nervous about it.  I mean, I know I can do it but I am afraid of being a wimp about it.  I don't want to get out there and struggle.  I feel like I am training well and getting in my long runs that I didn't do properly last year so I should do better this year. I just don't want to disappoint myself, I guess.

Here are a few things I have been doing:

Chuck and I ran the Pittsburgh Great Race 10k. The weather was great, although it started to get warm by the time we were finishing.  The course is beautiful and I've never run a race with that many people before.  I mean I ran the Pittsburgh Marathon Relay but people were more spread out at that point.  This race, we found it hard to navigate around people that were slower that we needed to pass up.  All in all, it was great and we both said we would do it again next year.  I love having my husband by my side as I run.  He is such a great supporter and partner. 
The view as we were coming out of Oakland to see the view of the city! An awesome sight!

Me after the race.

I was trying to capture a picture of the mass of people running. Didn't work so well ha!

We've also been trying to spend more time with the kids. It's not that we've been doing a ton of fun stuff but we are spending time together which is very important when your kids are any age, let alone teenagers.  A few pictures when we were spending some time in the city.

Pittsburgh has a really cool water feature and walkway beside the convention center. I love it!
We've also been busy with Chuckie's football season.  He's doing really well this year but plays mostly defense.  He is good at it but we have been so used to years of him running the ball that it has been an adjustment for all of us.  He is having fun and the season will come to an end next week which is always a sad time for me. I love watching him and his team play.

Jada went to Homecoming which was great for her. Seeing our daughter looking so grown up was hard for us ha! She looked great and had a ton of fun with her friends. No boys, yet!

Lincoln is sailing through school this year, so far.  It is so great to see him enjoying school and not struggling like last year.  The decision we made to have him repeat first grade is quite possibly the best decision we've ever made in our lives.  No more tears and fighting.  We are seeing excitement about all subjects and more smiles along the way. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Be The Change

I often hear those words when people are talking about health, life, world problems....."be the change you want to see."  Yesterday I signed up to run for a charity in the 2015 Pittsburgh Half Marathon next May. 

Last year, I ran the Marathon Relay and I loved it but I had wondered if I should have run the half marathon and after I ran it, I decided that I was going to sign up for the half for next year.  I could have simply signed up, paid my fee and been done with the registration.  I didn't. 

I have a strong philosophy in life.  Help others when you can, how you can.  We are trying to instill this in our kids in hopes that one day, they can make a difference in the lives of others.  The marathon has a program called Run for Charity where you sign on to be a part of a fundraising team for a charity of your choosing, in exchange for a free race registration. 

I chose to run for Genre's Kids.  Here is some background on their organization:

Genre's Kids with Cancer Fund is an all-volunteer organization that helps every child diagnosed with cancer at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. We provide financial assistance and support to their families through our various outreach programs. 
Genre (like Henry with a “J”) was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia on Memorial Day, 2009.  He was 8 yrs. old.  Since that day, so much generosity and love has been shown to this family not only by friends and relatives but by complete strangers as well.  It is the hope of the Baker family to give back by assisting families dealing with childhood cancers.
This is how your money makes a difference:
$15  will pay for an iTunes gift card, so kids can download an app or song, to entertain them when they are in the hospital for days.
$20 will purchase a video game, providing hours of distraction for a kid in the hospital receiving chemotherapy or lengthy treatments.
$50 will buy a gas gift card, for oncology families who travel long distances, so their child can get medical care at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. Each month we give $500 in gas cards to the Oncology social workers to give to families who travel long distances or visit the oncology clinic 2-3 times per week in order for their child to receive chemotherapy, transfusions, and other treatments.
$50 will pay for all of the items to complete a "Go Bag" we give to every oncology family when their child is admitted, and they hear the words "your child has cancer".
$120 will pay for a handheld gaming system or music player, we give to every child newly diagnosed with cancer at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, if they don't already own one. These are priceless to the children during long treatments or when they are hospitalized for weeks at a time.
Any amount will support our financial assistance program. We are raising money to help pediatric oncology families in need.
Prior to the Christmas season, the pediatric oncology social worker selects  the neediest oncology families and passes their names along to us. We provide groceries, basic necessities, clothes, toys, gifts, and a Christmas meal for each family, as well as any other support we can offer.

What a special organization that they have!  I love that they have items specified for every donation amount instead of just putting it in a fund and figuring it out later. 

I would love to raise enough to make 10 "go bags" for families that are just starting the heartbreaking journey they are on with their child.  

We have been blessed with three healthy kids and have not had to endure the agony of going through the diagnosis, testing, treatment and mental endurance that these families do.  So, I want to give, I want to help them to help others.  These children are fighting for their lives and the families are fighting for normalcy and calm.  

If you would like to help raise funds for Genre's Kids, please visit my donation site here:

Every dollar helps. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Join Me!

I have been enjoying my Beachbody experience with the Focus T25 program so far!  The workouts are tough but they are short, only 25 minutes long and only five days a week.  The plan is very doable and I enjoy the challenge of the workouts.  I am liking the changes I am seeing in my body strength. I haven't really been doing measurements yet because I want to wait to see at the 30 day mark, what the changes are.

I have a new challenge group starting on October 6th.  I encourage anyone to join in and we can find a program that works well with what your goals are, what your lifestyle is, how much time and commitment you have. There are options for everyone whether you enjoy cardio, need something low impact or want to learn how to eat clean.

It is so easy to put ourselves last and push our goals and commitments aside.  I am so guilty of this. I am learning (and have been learning for quite some time) how to balance it all and allow myself to put myself first and not feel guilty.  I want to help others realize that it is okay to put themselves first.  We need to improve our health so that we can be everything we want to be.

Let me know if you want to join me! You can head to my coach page and sign up for a free account to see what all the programs are about!