Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Owning My Strong

I think everyone knows by now that I love a good challenge, that I enjoy running, being active and pushing myself to the limits to see if I can do it.  I have fun doing that.

So, when a friend posted on Facebook about the Muddarella run/challenge, it got me thinking.  It looked like a lot of fun.  It involved running, mud, obstacles and teamwork.  They stress that this is not a race, but a challenge where you can own your strong while having fun and teaming up with others to reach your goals.  Who wouldn't love all that?!

You can check out the details here  This is not one of those fun runs where you can just sign up and go and get it done.  They suggest training for this challenge as there are physical challenges, heck, you have to run about six miles to do the challenge!!  I love that their site even has a legit training plan and you can follow it to prepare for your big day! 

The obstacles look fun and I can see how having your friends by your side would make it that much more fun.  I will be doing it with a group of ladies from the gym and I couldn't be more excited.

I really like looking at the obstacles and trying to figure out just how much I might struggle with them.

The local one that I am doing is in September so I have some time to make sure that I am physically ready for it.

I am hoping to have even more friends sign up to do it too.

I will leave you with more awesome that the creators of Muddarella are featuring, stories of strength as women share their stories of how they own their strong.

Disclaimer: I did not receive monetary compensation for this post.  All opinions and expressions are my own, I was not scripted for this post. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Race Recap: 2015 Pittsburgh Half Marathon

I did it!  I reached my goal of running my first Pittsburgh Half Marathon and earning the title of "Runner of Steel."  This is a goal that I have had for a very long time. I spent years wanting to be one of those runners.  I wanted to run those 13.1 miles all over the city.

I was very intimidated by the course though, I had always heard about how tough it was and all the hills along the course.   I decided that in order for me to prepare for the course, I was going to incorporate strength training and cross training into my training. I have to say, that it worked!

I went in to the half with a plan.  I had tried out intervals of running/walking to figure out what timing I wanted to go with so that I could keep a steady pace.  I have done intervals before for a half marathon but the timing wasn't quite right and I wanted to make sure that I got it right this time.  I decided on a 4:1 interval.  Four minutes of running and 1 minute of walking....the entire course.

Okay, so training was done, a plan was in place and I was ready to go!

The process of getting into the corrals and waiting for the race to start is almost torture.  You are mentally getting ready and the anticipation is rising.  You just want to get going.  There are thousands and thousands of people all around, there are helicopters flying overhead and again, the anticipation is rising.  This is when most people are hoping that they don't have to go to the bathroom from all of the anxiety.  It is something that most runners experience and some people don't tell you about that haha.

The race is getting started.  My excitement is building as I am frantically messaging with another runner that is farther up in the corral.  We are supposed to run the intervals together but I've never met her and I have no idea how I am going to find her.  We were messaging back and forth for a few minutes as my corral was walking toward the start line.  She stops near an Arby's to wait for me.  Thank goodness, I didn't really want to run alone.  We are walking in the sea of people all there for a common goal.  Rock this race course.

And we are off!!  We are trying to jog/run but it is kind of hard when there are so many people.  I found that to be the hardest part for me.  I wanted to speed up and go but we really couldn't.  I asked her around mile 1-2 if and when the crowd thins out and we can move...she said, "never."  Oh. I was sort of frustrated because even though my goal was to simply finish the race, I had a time goal in the back of my mind.  I really wanted to finish around the 2:20-2:30 mark but it wasn't happening, not at the pace we were going.  It was then that I decided that I need to stop looking at my watch.  I needed to stop being fixating on the pace.  My second goal was to enjoy the run and take in the surroundings.  I did that.  I am so very happy I did that.

I was loving the run, I was loving the surroundings and I just kept saying how much I love the intervals we were running.  It was perfect.  The weather was great, the crowd was great and I couldn't have asked for a better run.

My parents were there to see me run and they said that they would be somewhere between PNC Park and Heinz Field....well okay then.  Amazingly, I found them and was able to give my mom a hug and high five my dad. I love that they were there to support me.  It really helps me keep going.

Okay, back to the run.  As the race went on, I actually was feeling better and better.  I was getting into the rhythm of what we were running, the hills weren't strenuous and the scenery was amazing.  I was really enjoying the run. My running buddy and I were able to talk about our families, our running history and all sorts of things. It's funny that I met up with her minutes before starting and we ran together for over two hours.

As we kept going, the temperature was rising, which was one of my concerns.  I hate running and being overheated so I said a little prayer that I would finish before it got too hot.

We were approaching the part of the course where the runners split.  The half marathoners go to the left and the full marathoners go to the right.  At this point, I was getting excited because I knew that my race was almost over and I was getting so close to saying that I finished!

I had some final hills to tackle and then it was all downhill to the finish.  I sped up a bit at that point because the crowd was very thinned out and I had the open road ahead.  I could see the finish line!!  I continued on at a steady pace and ditched the intervals and decided that I could run the rest of the way.  It felt so good to cross that finish line and be done!  I felt great, no soreness, no pain at all.  Thank goodness!!

All in all, the experience was a wonderful one.  I was a bit surprised by how I felt because I almost felt as though it wasn't as much of a challenge as I thought it would be.  That means two things...I was very well prepared for it physically and that I most likely could have run at a faster pace.

I am already excited to run it again next year and I will run the same intervals but I think I will challenge myself to run faster and get a PR.  It is quite possible that if I continue training well and smart, I could get a much better time.  I finished in 2:39 and although that isn't a bad time, I know I can push myself to bring that down to 2:20.  That is my goal for next year!!

You can see my race photos here 
I love them all, too bad they are insanely expensive to buy!! :(

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Five Days

I am always nervous about a run.  It doesn't matter what the distance is or whether the course is easy or hard, I just get nervous.  I have run two half marathons in the last two years.  I am proud of that and I plan on doing more. 

The Pittsburgh Half Marathon is only five days away and I am so super nervous.  I am trying to remain as calm as possible and just trust that I will do well and I am going to enjoy the experience.  This is my first Pittsburgh Half Marathon.  Last year, I did the relay and when I was done and saw all the excitement and the finishers, I decided right then and there that I would do the half this year.  There was no hesitation at all.

So, here we are....five days out from the race.

I am nervous but I am also very excited.  I can't wait to see all the cheering crowds, the awesome bands and all the spectators.  The atmosphere of this race is amazing. The cheering is so awesome and it really does carry you through the course.

I cannot wait to reach that finish line and receive the finisher's medal. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Get Your Smoothie On For a Dose of Protein

I am not a regular smoothie maker or drinker but when I do have them, I absolutely love them!  I love being able to throw everything in the blender and have this nutritious, tasty treat and it can replace a meal!  So easy for an on-the-go breakfast or snack.

Summer is coming which means that more fresh fruits will be available to throw in the smoothies.  There is one recipe that I go back to often because it is one of my favorites.

Strawberry, Banana Smoothie with Almond Butter

Now, my kids love smoothies too so this recipe is enough for several people....maybe four depending on how much the kids take. ;)

2 Cups Plain, Greek Yogurt
2 Medium Bananas
2 Cups Frozen Strawberries, unsweetened
2 Tbsp. Almond Butter

I make sure I cut the fruit up into smaller pieces just because it seems to blend up a little better and you don't have to keep scraping the sides of the cup.  Throw everything in there and blend away!  So simple, so yummy and so nutritious!

When having this particular smoothie, you will get approximately 6-7g. of protein from the almond butter.

There are other things that you can add to a smoothie to get a good source of protein.  Some of those things are: kale, cottage cheese, pumpkin seeds, oats and chia seeds.  I tend to stay away from adding anything into my smoothies that will add too much texture to it.  That is just my personal preference though.  I encourage everyone to dust off their blenders and make a smoothie today!  It is easy, fast and so delicious!

I'd love to see what you enjoy in your smoothies..go on #ShowUsYourSmoothie  If you would like to see what DailyBurn has to offer with their line of protein-packed products, you can visit their site here.

Disclaimer:  I did not receive monetary compensation for this post.  I was contacted to be a part of the #showusyoursmoothie project through DailyBurn.  I was not prompted or scripted for this post. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Product Review: Canvas Print from Canvas Champ

If there is one thing I love to look at, it is photos.  I have always enjoyed looking at photos, whether I know the people or places in them or not.

What do I love even more?  Photos of my family together.  We, often times, don't all get our picture taken together and so when I had the opportunity to do a product review for Canvas Champ and receive a 10"x 8" canvas print, I said, "YES!"

The process was super simple. They just asked me which photo I would like to use and I sent it.  They took care of the rest.  Obviously, the process will be a bit different for anyone going on their site and ordering a canvas print.

Their site is so easy to navigate and their pricing is outstanding!!  I have seen the same products for well over what Canvas Champ is charging so that is a thumbs up to begin with.  I always love a good deal so when you put two of my favorite things together, you get my vote!

I quickly received my custom canvas print and I was in love.  Here was this picture that I already loved and it was on a canvas print and it was perfect!!

This is what I received:
A photo of my entire family all dressed up for a wedding. We were looking good and happy. Success!

The canvas is wrapped too so the piece is sturdy and isn't cheaply made.  I have seen some that are of lower quality and they fall apart. I feel confident that this will last a very long time.

The back of the print has the hanging hardware already attached and ready to go!!  I love the sticker that says it was "handmade with love"  such a nice touch. Also there is a sturdy frame with a board behind the canvas front so it is not flimsy at all. It is a really nice product.

Canvas Champ was an absolute pleasure to work with and I am so pleased with my new work of art to display my family photo.  I will definitely be heading to their site again to order more canvas prints to add to our walls.  I encourage everyone else to do the same.  Check out their products and their awesome pricing!

Disclaimer: I did not receive monetary compensation nor was I scripted for this review.  All photos, opinions and praises are my own. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

When Things Don't Go Exactly As Planned

We had plans that we thought were solid.  It came to our attention that those plans were never in place in the beginning, let alone now. 

In short, we thought that the house we are renting right now and have been renting for the past 5.75 years, was going to be sold and we were going to buy it.  The landlord kept stalling on selling and each time I asked about it, they gave a very short answer of no.  I had to finally ask if they were ever going to sell it and if so, if we can get some terms on paper.  She replied with the fact that she had no plans of selling and couldn't commit to selling. 

BOOM!!  That was the sound of my heart plummeting to the bottom of my gut.  For almost six years, we have been paying a large amount of money to live here which we were sort of fine with because we had the intention of buying this house and living here for years to come.  We had a list of upgrades we were going to make, what we wanted so desperately to get started doing, as soon as we knew that it would eventually be ours.  Our hopes, plans and optimism were crushed.  I didn't really know whether I wanted to scream, cry or throw things. 

The disappointment is paramount.  It may seem really silly to some who are thinking so why not just pack up and buy a different house?! Oh how I wish it were that easy.  Due to so many things that are totally our own fault, we are not in a position to buy a house.  We were really thinking that the rent to own option was our only option and that a portion of the money that we've been paying would help us to buy.  That is out so now we are changing our game plan and hoping for a solution that is feasible and won't cause us too much heartache.

We really do love where we live. We are close to everything, yet we have the privacy and space to do whatever we want.  It's not the fanciest house but we have made it our home and we will be sad to leave.

I'm still not sure what we will do.  Ideally, we would like to find a lease to own contract but that isn't very common in this area and we want to stay in the same school district and area.  That is the hard part.  We've talked about moving to a different area or even a different state but we do still want to stay in the area.

My point in all of this is.......we can no longer rely on others when we want to make plans.  We have to put our own plans together and go from there.  I am hoping that we are able to buy a house within the next year and look back on all of this as a lesson learned.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Making My Own Destiny

I've always been the type of person that sort of sat back and let life happen. I always looked at people that went after what they wanted with admiration because I just never did that for myself.  I'm not the most assertive person and I hate to rock the boat or upset anyone.  I am a total people pleaser, even if it takes away from doing something for myself. 

I'm starting to realize that I can't do that anymore.  I have goals, I have dreams and I can't just wait for good fortune to come my way.  I have to go for it and work hard to achieve it. 

I've been working hard lately on things for others and I've gotten off track of what I need to do for myself so I am trying to manage my time better, fit the things I want to do, in where I can and make time for family.  It isn't always easy but nothing worth having is ever easy, at least that's how the saying goes. 

Spring is right around the corner and with that comes the busiest season of our family life.  The kids are all in different sports, which means a ton of running around and being at several places, several days a week.  I also have lots going on with my running, fitness and trying to prepare for our vacation.

I wish there were more hours in a day or more days in a week for me to get more done.  I've started to write out my goals in detail and write down the necessary steps to reach those goals. I read that in a personal development book on time management.  It really does make sense. 

I need to  change, er, tweak how I run my life. Marriage and family will always come first, then work and then all the mundane things that we have to do. For me, marriage and family are a huge task and work gets put in there because if I work hard to achieve the goals I have, I will be able to spend more time with my family and not work outside of home too much.