friendship

Where Have You Gone Naturally Angela?

What feels like not so long ago, I wrote a blog post about ideas on becoming more consistent in my blogging. Then, I looked at my blog, and before I knew it, months had passed. Again.

So here I sit starting to write this, and realizing it’s not that I don’t have things to write about, or amazing goings on in my life, it’s that I’m busy living my life. And, my loyal (but few) followers, it’s not that I don’t love and appreciate you. I most certainly do. However, I’m still figuring out how I prioritize everything in my life, and realizing that that in itself is an ever-evolving and changing cycle.

What is going on, you ask? So so much. Work is amazing and busy and fun. I’m traveling to D.C. to meet with legislators next month, organizing three amazing fundraising events this year, working with our constituents and offering programs for those in the community.

My man and I moved in together in December, YAY! I absolutely love waking up to him every morning. Shortly after that, his position at work was eliminated. Stressful? You bet. But, he is on to bigger and better things, and I am excited to watch him grow.

My running and fitness life? Well…. WOW! 2016 has started off wonderfully! I had a wonderful time, and good race times in Disneyland for the Star Wars Rebel Challenge, despite a sinus infection, a great time (running and visiting) at Surf City, am about to conquer the Hot Chocolate 15k tomorrow morning, and Disney World Star Wars Dark Side Challenge in April. Outside of that, some amazing companies have selected me to be an ambassador of their brand. To date: Nuun Hydration, Alii Sport, Honey Stinger, and Wiivv Wearables, with others on the horizon. I have also joined and been paired with my buddy, Hope, in the Who I Run 4 program. I had an article published in Girls Gone Sporty on breaking up with your workout.

My past work? three, THREE of the articles I was a co-author on have been published in professional journals. WOW! I am most proud of the article on perceived economic strain on child BMI in The Journal of Family and Economic Issues. That one, that one is my baby.

With all this going on, I spend my non-work hours exercising, playing with my dog, spending time with friends, and absolutely spending time with my love doing fun things like fencing, or trying new recipes, debating politics, or just watching TV.

So, to be completely, honest, when I have downtime and I have the choice between writing blogs or curling up on the couch with my love, my pup, and re-runs of Parks & Rec, I’m choosing the latter. And, I am realizing, that is perfectly ok.

I will still be blogging, but right now, am choosing to not set a strict schedule. This helps me feel less obligated, and less like a failure when it doesn’t happen, and for me, allows my creativity to naturally happen. Besides, I am very active on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Follow me there, and you will miss nothing! I am working on redesigning/organizing my Pinterest land and becoming active on Periscope. I will still be able to share my love of life and running with all of you, but now I won’t have to fight with writer’s block. Besides, there are tons of pics of my adorable dog… so of course you want to see those!

See you all very soon! I am actually working on a post on my experience at the Nevada caucus. If you’ve never participated in one, you will want to check that out.

…live well, be amazing!

Change

I had initially planned a post on things you didn’t know about me, things I couldn’t live without, but, well, life happened. So, in line with the title of this, my plan changed, and today, I am writing about change.

Last week I was at chapter meetings for work, and we had a presentation on change management. This was really to help staff and management better manage the changes coming, but, in all honesty, change happens often, so learning about change, how our minds and bodies react to it, and ways to work through the change curve, is beneficial in all aspects of life.

Change happens. Sometimes it is planned, welcome change, other times, it is smack you in the face change. Either way, change can be exhilarating and scary. Welcome and unwanted. But one thing change always is: unavoidable. Every day, you age a little. That is change. Change is necessary for growth.

So, the past couple years have been full of change for me. My marriage ended. I changed jobs. My relationship status changed. My living situation changed. Finances changed.

For the first time in I think, ever, I am going to get a little personal on my blog. December 1st, my boyfriend and I moved in together. Although welcome and wanted, this was a change for him and I. That Thursday, he received some not so great news. We adjusted. We talked about it, our thoughts, feelings, concerns. Then, last Friday morning, what we feared/expected/maybe even hoped for a little, happened.

Change. Unwelcome and welcome. Scary and calming. Unavoidable. So, this past weekend, more talking/planning/regrouping. I know deep in my soul everything will work out wonderfully. But it’s still anxiety creating. Still scary. Still heartbreaking to see him unsure and worried.

But, the timing of my work presentation on change management couldn’t have been better. To hear again, or some of it for the first time, was helpful. The change curve happens. Emotions happen. It’s how we work through it that matters. Our brains revert automatically to fight or flight. Protect ourselves. Denial. All those normal reactions to a perceived threat to our normal. Emotions are high. It’s easy to want to stay with the norm, to avoid the unknown that lies ahead. There was a great quote, “to succeed in change, one must make the status quo scarier than the change.” I fully believe that. The status quo in this case, was scarier. This change, will, in time, be the something greater.

Which brings me back to the change that happened. The status quo was scarier. Was unwanted. Was in many ways, harmful. Although terrifying and unknown… change is happening. So…. Deep breath. A little regrouping, and onward and upward. We’ve got this…

How I’ve Changed in the Last Two Years

I touched on some of this in my reintroduction post. But well, 2013, 2014, and 2015 have truly helped redefine me. First, a quick recap of 2013, which will help in understanding 2014 and 2015.

In 2013 I decided to run 13 half marathons… then through in the mix, a sprint triathlon. The training was time consuming. The time alone with myself, was eye opening. I learned a lot about myself, my priorities and what is important to me. I also lost my grandfather, my best friend that year. He had been sick for a while, but that didn’t make losing him any easier. Towards the end of 2013, I realized I wasn’t happy in my marriage. I did complete my running goals.

In the beginning of 2014 my marriage ended. I sold my house and moved. I changed jobs, traveled to 3 cities in 2 weeks for work, brother’s wedding, and work. I chaired the annual Komen race as a volunteer. All before the first week in May. After that, I crashed. Then, I slowly started to regroup. I spent more time with friends, I didn’t make fitness a priority although it should have been. I just focused on finding peace and happiness and learning a new job. I started learning and practicing self-care. I spent lots of time with my pup.

Then, I stumbled into my greatest love. We both agree we weren’t looking for what we have when we met, but, as soon as we met, we knew we belonged together and our lives would never be the same again.

Work remained busy. I still worked very part time with my old job finishing up a research project and the papers associated with it.

On to 2015… hoping for a calmer year, we spent New Year’s Eve on the strip and then, the whirlwinds began. Right into a fundraising event for work, edits on papers for publication, living life and reigniting the fitness part of my life. I ran the Star Wars Rebel Challenge in January and Surf City in February.

Summer hit, and 2 new events were added to my plate at work, final edits for papers… and life didn’t slow down. Now, events are over for 2015, and we are right into programs, and 2016 events! Two of my 4 papers have been accepted for publication, YAYAYAYAYAY!!!!!! And, life is amazing!!! I spent some great time with my brother this summer as well. Ran another half in October, and set a PR at an 11k event.

My BF is now joining me in fitness and running, which makes life easier… and, to keep things busy, we are moving at the end of November!!!!

So… how have I changed… I have grown exponentially. I have become patient, kind, and focused on happiness. I have realized life is too short for drama and negativity. I spend time with those that are important to me, focus on my health and happiness. I make time for fun, and always make time for myself. I have embraced natural health, making my own cleaning supplies, essential oils and foods to keep me happy and healthy with fewer chemicals. I am refocusing my fitness and running goals, prioritizing my health. Increasing my racing, and falling in love with running again.

Well… that’s my last two years… and here I am!! Next time: 10 Facts About Me and 5 Things I Can’t Live Without.

Happy Friday! I AM BACK!!

Wow. It’s been almost a year since I blogged. Ouch. I guess life really did take over. I have missed this blog. I have thought of blogging often… then, a free moment happens, and well, playing with my dog, spending time with my love or my friends, seems to take precedence. Always. But, as I’ve said, I’ve missed blogging. So, I am working to restart the blog. Prepare better. To start, I am going to reintroduce myself.

Hello! My name is Angela… and well, from when I started this blog until today… I have grown and changed. So… who am I? I am 41 years old. I am an eastern PA transplant loving life in Las Vegas. I work in non-profit helping others. I am a runner. I am a girlfriend, a friend, a dog mom, a sister, a daughter. I enjoy yoga and working out. I love to cook and try new foods. I love Star Wars, Doctor Who, the Wizard of Oz, Buffy, Firefly… and well, am a nerd at heart. I enjoy hiking a mountain as much as I do curling up on my couch with a good book or some good TV. I have learned it’s the simple things in life that truly matter, and to take good care of myself.

My last few years have been a roller coaster. I switched jobs to one I truly love and feel at home in. Two of the research papers I worked on in my previous job were approved for publication in professional journals. I had a marriage end, sold a house, moved, found myself again, reclaimed my happiness. Found an amazing, one of a kind love. And it’s only getting better! I am moving again in 17 days (but to be honest, it’s the same building, just a bigger apartment!! EEK! (I should start packing). My job is growing and changing and keeps me on my toes. I love every minute of the chaos.

I can honestly say, that life in my 40s is truly amazing. I have found myself, my strength, my happiness… and work to make sure all of that continues to grow.

I run regularly… I race less often, but enjoy running, enjoy spending time out on the road with friends or my boyfriend (who is totally becoming a runner!!). We live in a great neighborhood with plenty of fun routes to run. I do yoga intermittently, and try to become more consistent with this. I have found some other workouts: combat fitness, HIIT, and resistance bands that I keep in the mix.

Cooking is one of my favorite things… and you will learn more about my favorite recipes soon!

So… welcome back to the blog about my life! My goal is to blog a minimum of once a week!!

Thank you for reading…

~live well, be amazing

Monday Happy Hour

As a new addition to my blog I will be writing a weekly Monday Happy Hour post… where I will share my wrap up of the week, highs/lows, plans for the weekend, etc. Because as much as I need coffee on Mondays, a post Monday drink is also nice. So… grab your favorite cocktail and settle in.

If we were at happy hour, I would tell you that my week was exhausting. We got back Sunday from Disneyland’s Star Wars race weekend and I relaxed most of Monday. As you have read, I have been dealing with a hip issue, so finally had the MRI on the hip Tuesday. On Wednesday, another doctor’s appointment for a different issue, which hasn’t yielded any results, but plenty of frustrations. I am not a fan of holding patterns.

At happy hour I would also tell you that work is very busy but in a positive way, I work for the National MS Society and our annual Walk MS event is coming up so I am busy getting participants, donations, sponsors, etc. I love the busy. But I am also terrified it won’t be a success.

I would also tell you that I miss my best friends… for some reason this week I just really wish I had them near me.

Then, I would tell you that my workouts are going… ok. I could be doing better, I could be running more days, but this week was mentally draining, so it was mostly yoga and walking my dog. I will catch up on core and upper body workouts this weekend! This coming month I am trying a Tabata program, Class Pass in Las Vegas, on top of my normal workouts. This will be fun and adventurous!

I would also tell you that I am excited for Huntington Beach/Surf City Half Marathon this weekend. It’s my third year running it which moves me to Legacy status and this past year, I was an ambassador for them! This event is one of my all-time favorite courses. Which reminds me that I need to finish my Star Wars race recap ASAP!

I would tell you that we celebrated the retirement of my former boss, mentor and great friend… I love that lady so much, and to celebrate this new chapter in her life was such an honor.

Lastly, I would tell you that I LOVE my new personalized planner I received from Plum Paper (on Etsy). I chose the family planner, which gave me seven rows I could label however I wanted. I picked: Work, Personal, Social Media, Workouts, Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. A great way to manage my tasks, meals and workouts! I also ordered the blog section to help keep me organized there!

Oh! And I would suddenly remember that it’s almost the end of January and I am still not done with my first book in my monthly book club. Best get on reading “You’re A Badass”.

So… at happy hour, what would you tell me? How was your week and weekend? What do you have planned for this week?

Welcome 2015!

Happy New Year (a few days late)… I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and are ready to tackle this new year!! After a roller coaster of a year in 2014, I am excited for a new year, new goals and new adventures!!

So… here are my goals/plans for 2015 broken down by areas of my life:

Work:

  • Be successful.
  • Prioritize daily.
  • Succeed in achieving my goals.
  • Host successful events.
  • Outreach within the community.
  • Grow and learn.

Personal:

  • Be present.
  • Walk my dog every day.
  • Love more.
  • Tell people how I feel about them.
  • Appreciate those in my life.
  • Practice kindness.
  • Read more.  (I just joined an online book club, stay tuned for monthly book reviews!)
  • Smile and laugh every day.
  • Make someone else smile every day.
  • Offer assistance where I can.
  • Volunteer.
  • Learn to say no.
  • Respect my time, emotions, and needs.
  • Cook and bake more.
  • Spend more time with friends and loved ones.
  • Organize my life/schedule.
  • De-clutter my home.

Health:

  • Eat healthy 80% of the time.
  • Start flossing more.
  • Eat less sugar.
  • Cook more meals.
  • Plan my weekly meals.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Get more sleep.
  • Walk 10, 000 steps minimum a day.

Fitness:

  • Create a plan with my trainer that challenges me, yet one I can commit to maintaining.
  • Try new things.
  • Join a yoga studio.
  • Swim more.
  • Bike more.
  • Run more.
  • Complete two sprint triathlons.
  • PR in a half marathon.
  • Don’t let the Philly Half win this year.
  • Become stronger.
  • Build more muscle.
  • Improve my hill running.
  • Be consistent in all my fitness.

Blog/Social Media:

  • Write more.
  • Collaborate with others.
  • Share my knowledge of essential oils.
  • Post more recipes.
  • Be more interactive.
  • Bring you more reviews and information on great products.

Essential Oils:

  • Expand my knowledge.
  • Earn certifications.
  • Share with others both the knowledge, benefits and opportunity with essential oils.

It may seem like a lot, but broken down into life areas… not so difficult at all to manage. To start, I ordered a planner/journal from plumpaper.com and began working with my trainer to create some workout plans/goals for the year. I have worked with my trainer for specific fitness goals, and while some of the goals listed here seem broad, the detailed SMART goals are written!! Now for this cold to go away so I can get to my running and dog walking goals.

What are your 2015 goals and plans? I’d love to hear them!!

 

Restart Button

Where have I been? Where am I going? Read on to find out!

I have opened this document and stared at the blank page more times than I can count. I start to write, re-read it, and start all over. So here we are…. months later, and finally hitting the restart button in many ways, in blogging, fitness, running, and most importantly, life. To say the end of last year and the start of this year were rocky is an understatement.

After a year of putting myself through a great physical challenge, which turned into a mental challenge… the battle wasn’t over. 2013 was a year for me… I lost my best friend, my grandfather… with that I went through emotional struggles I never imagined I would. I crept deep into my mind and soul on my training runs and during my races. I found that girl I lost a long time ago, that girl I always was… and couldn’t remember how to be. The next logical step was to let her free. Easier said than done, but, a necessary step on my path to true happiness.

Since the holidays, my life has gone turned upside down, and righted itself, went a little sideways, and seems to be righting itself once more. Ah, life… you tease… always keeping me on my toes. A significant relationship ended, I sold a house I was once so proud to be the owner of, I moved, I traveled more than I didn’t, saw my little brother get married, witnessed the fruits of labor of our race committee at another Susan G Komen of Southern NV Race for the Cure, had not 1 but 2 car accidents, I worked on several publications for work, I started a new job, ran my first relay event, PR’d at a half marathon that, for the first time ever, I didn’t take a walk break in… and sometimes I worked out, sometimes I ate healthy, sometimes I ate the cake and had the extra beer… I laughed, I cried, I screamed, I breathed deep. I learned I suck at being patient (hey, we can’t all be perfect). I held on to friends for sanity and laughter, I found new friends and amazing support from places I never expected, I turned 40. I grew, I changed, I learned, I loved… but most importantly, I came out of it all okay. I am happily, safely, wonderfully at a place where I put myself first, where I give with all my heart, and treasure those in my life.

So, am I back? I think so. I’m getting back on track with my fitness, I have worked with my trainer to reset my goals to what I feel is attainable this year, to what I feel matters, I have reexamined my priorities, I have found myself in a place I feel at peace and happy. Does it get better than that?

But, it’s time to restart this blogging journey… Ladies and gents… it’s time to get this party started! I will be moving over to www.naturallyangela.com! Don’t worry, I will redirect this page there… but, it is time to change things up. Like my page on Facebook and if you already follow me on Twitter, great! Just notice @solesisteronrun will change to @naturallyange and my Instagram will also change to @naturallyangela. The new format will continue to discuss running, yoga, and fitness, as well as add in wellness, recipes, natural approaches to healing and cleaning, etc. A bit of a rediscovery of self and keeping life simple… So… please continue to follow the adventures of me and Miss Mia Pup!

Lifestyle Accountability Podcast

Hello everyone and welcome to 2014! I was fortunate to be interviewed for a Lifestyle Accountability Podcast, and the interview is now live! Check out my show as well as some other great athletes!!

Podcast

2013 Year In Review

Well… they always say things don’t turn out as you planned, and 2013 definitely reminded me of that. Not just a moment in the year, but the entire year. This year has definitely been an emotional roller coaster for me. I’ve had more laughter than I could have hoped for, treasured friendships that started or grew stronger, found a physical strength and mental determination I never knew I had, dealt with chronic medical issues, and experienced the most painful loss of my life.  (sorry this blog post is a long one…)

In December 2012 I announced I would be running 13 half marathons in 2013. It was 2013, 13.1 miles, I was turning 39 (3×13)… a whole cute concept. I worked out my race schedule. I spent more money than I would like to admit. I know now, I don’t ever need to set that goal again, but I am grateful I was able to accomplish this goal. It was a true life changer for me. For many reasons outside of running, it was an exhausting year. At times I had no interest in going for a run, of training. I just wanted to run to run… I was starting to miss that, and some moments, it felt more like work. Overall, a good, solid running year. Here’s how the races went…

January’s race I woke with an occurrence of the chronic eye issue I have. I was in pain, my vision was blurry and I was frustrated. It was 20 degrees that morning. All of that, showed on the course. From the moment I crossed the start line I just wanted it to be over, and I couldn’t shake that feeling. I couldn’t get warm or find my groove.

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Running From An Angel Half Marathon

February was actually a great race for me, my time was back on point, I felt great, the race was at the beach in CA, truly, a great race. I was able to hang out with a great friend and make some new ones. I wish every race could be like that event.

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Charlene and I at Surf City Half Marathon

March… my husband had been sick for 2 weeks before this race. I woke up race morning with a sore throat. By the time I hit the start line, I was nauseous, achy, it hurt to breathe. I told myself it was a little cold, to get over it and run. I ran, and ran slow. It hurt to breathe when I was running, the body aches were brutal. My stomach was so queasy taking fueling was a challenge. But, I knew this course, and when to take it easy and when to push. I finished, albeit slower than normal. Turns out, I had bronchitis and severe respiratory infection. I was out of commission for a couple weeks.

Six Tunnels Half Marathon

Then, April came. I was excited for April, even though I hadn’t trained it was a shot at redemption, great race, great people, in Hollywood… my running BFF and I had great plans. Then, the start of that week, my world as I knew it forever changed. My grandfather passed away. I lost a part of my heart and soul that day. I made it back to town and felt in my heart I needed to run to try to heal. Maybe for the distraction, I don’t know. I went to the race. Until that race started I wasn’t sure if I would actually run it. Right before the starting gun I decided to start and to finish. Nothing more. To just let the race happen. I did just that. Overall, it was a good race, my pace was solid, and I noticed around mile 9-10 that if I stuck with it, I could PR on a half. When I realized that, I felt nothing, no sudden surge of energy, no intense motivation. I took that as a sign. I decided to just enjoy the last 3 miles, encourage others and enjoy the run. At that moment I felt such a strong presence with me it took me back, I literally stopped on the course to catch my breath. In my heart, I knew it was pappy guiding me. He led me to exactly the race I was meant to have. At mile 11 I came across a limping runner. It was her first half, she had hurt her quad but wanted to finish. She had that frustrated, annoyed, heartbroken yet determined look on her face. I asked if I could walk with her a bit, asked if she was okay. We started talking and I ended up walking with her to the finish, encouraged her as she jogged across the finish line, made sure she got to medical and that was that. That race gave me a brief sense of peace.

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Hollywood Half Marathon!

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Medal and pappy charm

May brought along the second race in the Beach Cities Challenge… OC! I knew from the get-go this would not be an amazing race. I am the Race Chair for the local Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and our event was the day before. So, on a handful of hours of sleep, a long drive from Las Vegas to CA, and an exhausted body… I dealt with the poor race organization and finished this race. Actually, better than anticipated, but honestly I don’t remember much of the course. I was in a daze I think for most of that race and later, when I saw video, thought, I ran there?! Five down…

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Charlene and I after OC Half Marathon

In June not only was I running a half, I was conquering one of my biggest fears: bridges. I have always been terrified of bridges, the Wipro San Francisco Half Marathon I was running ran over and back on the Golden Gate Bridge. Hey, if you are going to conquer a fear, do it big! So… I flew out to SF and stayed with my younger brother. We celebrated his now fiance’s birthday and had an enjoyable weekend. On race morning he chose to run the race with me. This meant SO much to me, and having him by my side for 13.1 miles, including that bridge, a priceless moment in time. He was great at keeping me distracted while on the bridge and keeping me moving on those San Fran hills!!

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San Francisco Half Marathon medals from 2012, 2013, and Half It All Challenge

July brought me to Bryce Canyon, Utah! We planned a lovely girls weekend, rented a house near the finish line and took off for a getaway. The scenery was beautiful! The race was fun. This course was mostly downhill, so that was an interesting challenge. After, we relaxed, ate, relaxed. We went for a hot but amazingly beautiful hike the following day.

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Kristin and I after Bryce Canyon Half Marathon

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Hiking in Bryce Canyon

August… I did my first ever midnight race: the infamous ET Race in Rachel, NV. This was so much fun… it was dark except for runner head lamps, quiet and serene, which made the 7 mile incline at the start of the race less annoying. You could see the beautiful full moon and hear the cattle. If you ever are in the Las Vegas area in August, I suggest running this event. It is totally worth the lack of sleep.

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ET Half Marathon shirt, medal and race bib

September was my double-up month! I did my first ever trail half marathon at the Henderson Trail Classic, and that was truly a challenge, but so glad I did this. It renewed my love of running in a lot of ways… new challenges, new outlook, new workout. I got to spend some great time with my running BFF before and after, a truly great experience. I also ran a satellite Running Troops half marathon with my running BFF Charlene. This was bittersweet… getting to run side by side with her was wonderful, but this was her last run pre-injury and she was out of commission until right before Christmas. 12 long weeks. This brought me to 10 completed races!!!

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Henderson Trail Classic Half Marathon

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Running Troops swag half marathon

October I brought on a new challenge to myself as well as my 11th half marathon. I ran the final race for the Beach Cities Challenge in Long Beach, CA, where I PR’d for the year and got to hang out with some amazing running friends!! I loved this race, everything about it. I was just a little sad that my running BFF couldn’t run it with me as planned. Next up for my crazy October… a sprint triathlon, the Iron Girl. I was looking for a way to change up my training and reignite my desire to complete this goal. This was such an amazing challenge. The training, the event, the challenge of swimming and cycling… just amazing. I loved it so much, I am planning on 2 for next year.

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Hanging with friends post Long Beach Half Marathon

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My Beach Cities Medals and Challenge MEDAL!!!!

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I AM AN IRONGIRL!

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Coming in to the finish!

November brought me to Philadelphia, which has become a running family tradition. I met up with a couple cousins again this year for this event. I returned to PA for 1 ½ weeks prior to the race to spend time with friends, and ended up catching a cold. My goal to hit a sub 2:20 faded on race day with that cold, but, I was proudly able to finish at my regular pace, keeping me on track. At this point, some personal stuff was going strong, and I was struggling with that, so the running and training kept me distracted.

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Philadelphia Half Marathon

December… this is it, the final month, the final race. Due to changes with race schedules, I ended up selecting a satellite location for the Operation Jack Half Marathon on Dec. 28th. Unfortunately, I hurt my hip 2 weeks before, so trained less and had to run slower than normal… but I did accomplish something pretty amazing that day. For the first time in a half, I ran the first 10 miles non-stop. At that point took a 30 sec walk/stretching break and carried on. I took about 2 more over the last 3 miles, for a total of 1 ½ minutes of walk breaks. That to me was amazing compared to the 4/1 or 3/:30 intervals I have been using. I finished this race with a smile on my face, and a few tears. I dedicated a mile to those that over the past year have really made an impact on my life. My running BFF, very fittingly, was at the finish with a huge sign, a huge hug, some tears… and a cupcake. Is there any better way to finish a race? I don’t think so. I was also lucky enough to have a great friend pace me for this, to make sure I didn’t go too fast!

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Operation Jack Half Marathon

So, all in all, a fun racing year. Exhausting, at times overwhelming, but fun racing year. I am grateful I was able to accomplish this and thank everyone for their support. But an extra special, personal thank you to those who truly made a difference in my life the past 12 months; they offered support, love, encouragement and strength. Without them, I wouldn’t be who I am today. So thank you to: RG, JH, MK, CR, CW, FA, WV, KZ, JD, KB, Pappy, and my family. Love you all more than I can put into words.

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My year in bling!!

Here is to an AMAZING 2014!! Stay tuned for the goals I have in store for next year!!

Iron Girl Las Vegas

Awhile back I wrote about the opportunity I was given to compete in the Iron Girl Triathlon at Lake Las Vegas. Well, on October 26th, after months of training and a few mild panic attacks, I became an Iron Girl!IMG_4856

This event was life changing for me. I didn’t realize it when I initially signed up that through the training and the event I would challenge myself daily, learn about my strengths, my perseverance and determination. That in so many ways, big and small, this triathlon would change me.

I started working with my trainer on workouts and adding in the swimming and biking while not losing my running, as I was still working on my goal of 13 half marathons (11 down!!). We increased my strength training, focused on core and upper body to help with the swimming and tackled this head on.

I was never really a swimmer. I could get by, but it was never something I was a fan of, or got excited about. Honestly, the first time I was hopping in the pool to try to do laps, I was terrified, anxious, unsure. But, I did it anyway. I didn’t hate it. My form is still horrible, but, this coming year, I will work on that.

Week by week I improved my swimming, biking and running. I went to the lake and did an open water swim to get a feel for that. I rode my bike more frequently. Physically, I was prepared. Mentally… that varied day to day. Honestly, everyone else’s confidence in me kept me from an all-out panic attack.

Then… race weekend arrived. My friend Karen and I were completing this together, so we shared a hotel room at the resort to make it all a bit easier on us. She picked me up that morning and we played a little tetris to get both our bikes in her car. With that done, we headed out to Lake Las Vegas.

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Packet pick-up was super easy and we got some great stuff in our packets!! We then briefly hit the expo and picked up some goodies. All of the volunteers were helpful and cheery. Such positive energy helped ease the nerves a bit. Up next… getting the bikes racked! We checked in to our hotel, grabbed what we needed for the bike racking and headed out.

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Our participant bracelets to get us into Athlete only areas

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I loved that they had the bike racking set for Friday afternoon. One less thing to stress about, my bike was in its place and ready to go. The volunteers there were again very helpful. When we mentioned it was our first Tri, the lady in our lane gave us some pointers on bike racking, talked to us about ways to quickly find our bikes after the swim and gave us some great encouragement. After that, we went down to check out the water and swim start areas. This was helpful to get a lay of the land for the swim start, where the buoys were, and from there, the path to transition 1.

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Karen racking her bike

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me testing the COLD water the night before!

Before we knew it, it was race morning!! We were up early to get our transition items in place and try not to panic. I received a few sweet messages from friends as last minute encouragement, and a simple “You’ve Got This” from my trainer. I wrote those words on my arm for the event. We set up our transition points and got marked with our numbers. Then, we headed to the swim start area to wait for it all to begin. We met some great people there, many also doing their first Tri. Thankfully, we also ran in to a great friend of mine and her son who came to cheer us on!

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Now… the event itself!!

The swim start was good, every 10 seconds, 5 new swimmers went into the water. The water that morning was 64 degrees. Quite chilly!! All the talk and discussion about the chaos of the swim doesn’t prepare you for it enough. So many people swimming, at different paces and with different strokes, you get kicked, hit, and sometimes swallow water. I honestly just focused on staying calm and swimming. It worked. I made it through the 500 meter swim with no breaks, and no panic attacks. Getting out of the water, I was initially surprised how tired my arms and legs felt, especially as I started the ¼ mile jog to the first transition area. My T1 time was a bit slower than I wanted, but I was struggling to catch my breath, calm down and feel my feet enough to put socks on.

When I initially started the bike (which started with a climb), I struggled to get started. I was rushing, panicked and couldn’t catch my breath. With all that I couldn’t get a good start on the bike. At that moment I stopped, walked my bike for a bit and pulled myself together. After that, I was good to go on the bike. It was a nice steady climb out of the resort area to the main road. It was a nice out and back loop and the officers regulating traffic were great and shouted words of encouragement as we rode by.

My T2 time was great, under 1:30. I chose to wear the same sneakers on the bike and for the run, which helped. I quickly racked my bike, took off my helmet, grabbed a swig of water and my race bib and was off. The run was my time to shine!!! This run started with about a 1 mile climb, but I held steady. In all my training I worked towards an 11:30 min pace, and on race day, had an 11:00 min pace. Running in to the finish, I felt strong.

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My finish!

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All in all, this was an amazing event! The organization was great. The few snags they hit, they handled quickly and made sure they worked to ensure the safety and well-being of the participants. Every volunteer or Iron Girl representative I interacted with was friendly, encouraging and helpful. The courses were a challenge, but doable. The bling was great!

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Without a doubt, I would recommend this event to anyone, especially those looking for their first triathlon experience. I will be back next year… and may challenge myself to move from the sprint distance to the Olympic distance!!!

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Gift from my running best friend Charlene. To symbolize all the cupcakes we eat post race!

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Some expo goodies I purchased!

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A new runner girl charm and my TRI charm

Iron Girl and Athleta, thank you for a wonderful event and a life changing first triathlon!!!