It’s not always about winning.

Hey guys, so I had a new experience this past weekend running in the competitive wave for the Fort Campbell Spartan Sprint. I have always ran in the elite heat for Spartan races in the past, but thought I would give the competitive heat a try this time since it became an option this year. There are not much differences between the two waves- the competitive just allows you to use discount codes, etc. where the elite wave does not accept many discount codes. Both waves are filmed so that you get disqualified if you do not abide by the rules.

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image taken from quotesgram.com

 

Thought #1- I like that the elite heats are separated by gender (yes I am saying this as a feminist, just hear me out). Most of us as athletes are always competing against those in our own gender category. They still tally up the overall results where you can see where you “chicked” all the guys in the end with the timing chip, if you are extremely fast. I love the feeling of being in the starting corral with all of these strong, fierce, badass women right before the race. In the competitive wave I had guys that I knew were going to be slow try to keep getting in front of me, as if I was not going to beat them. That just gave me incentive to run harder and smile when they miserably looked at me when I passed them up!

Thought #2- I did place third OVERALL (!!!!) female for the competitive wave, but I still felt like I was missing something. Even though I have never had an overall podium at a Spartan event, I have placed in my age group, which shows me that with more training I could be in the top percentile of these events. Even though I know I may not place in age group, as in the Asheville race, I feel accomplished that I am out there with extremely difficult competition and keeping up. It forces me to push my limits so that I can grow as an athlete. In the competitive wave, there were some girls that were “complaining” about the height of the walls and the difficulty of the course. You never hear whining and complaining in the elite heat! It is just a different mind set between the two options.

Thought #3- Even though I may say to myself that I am just going to show up and run “for fun”, I know deep down that I am competitive. So back to thought 2, I want to push my self in every way possible so that I can get better and start placing. That being said, I am totally looking to just buy an annual race pass next year so I can get better in this rapidly growing sport!

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So how’s life been?

So for those of you that follow me on Facebook, it is pretty obvious from my pictures and posts lately that I am officially in the throes of my end of summer race season. I haven’t posted in a few weeks due to life being extremely busy, but I have several updates.

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What has life been like post whole 30?

So Whole 30 was great for my body and I needed the reset, however it takes a lot of time and money to prepare meals ahead of time and eat 100% clean for 30 days. I am still eating a mostly primal diet (I am saying primal rather than “paleo” because I am eating organic cheeses, yogurt, milk etc.- which is not allowed with paleo). One thing that I added back in was dairy because it is a great affordable source of protein, but I make sure to buy organic and without a lot of sugar. I am also eating some gluten free oatmeal and cereal for some extra carbs now that my mileage is back in the double digits. Also… Peanut butter. I am sorry, but this is my number one vice. Things that haven’t worked out well so far are breads and Mexican food for some reason- I tried this last week at a training and was sick for 2 days. Not sure if it was just the restaurant that catered or the fact that I had not had tortilla chips, beans, or those seasonings in over two months.

What have I been doing?

So in the past month I have done a lot of running and racing! 3 weeks ago I ran the new trail ways at Norris Dam with friends and then did Mt. Leconte the following day- so a total of 20 miles for Sat./Sun. Then the next week I competed in the Xterra Panther Creek ½ marathon and placed 1st in age group!!!! Then… Last weekend I did my first Spartan in a year and a ½ and ran the Asheville Super Spartan. I ran the Spartan for fun, but realized that I do need to improve grip strength and stamina on the hills. I am hoping to do much better when I do the Carolinas Beast in October, with new training ideas. I placed 23 in age group which was okay considering the competition that was there in the women’s elite heat.

August is a busy month for some reason- it is for sure the hottest here in the south, so I am pretty sure that race directors are just sadistic and want to put on a race every weekend to torture us! This weekend I am doing Haw Ridge Trail Race and the following weekend is the Tennessee Spartan Sprint. Both of these races will be shorter distances- I am hoping to do well, but realize that you can’t realistically perform your complete best with little to no rest. This month is about pushing my mental limitations and amping up my training for the winter.

I have been continuing to do cross fit mixed in with my runs. My body is finally adapting and I am not left so sore that I can’t move after the workouts now. I can tell my grip strength is improving (something that is important for OCR) and I am so determined to get some strict pullups again. We are currently doing “summer of deadlifts” and I am now at 135 pounds this week. We will work up to a one rep max and build from there. I am noticing a huge difference in core strength and my speed is improving on hill workouts, due to all of the glute and hamstring work with deadlifts and squats.

What’s coming up for Me?

So I officially lost my mind and I have signed up for the Georgia Death Race (68-ish miles) for next April. To prepare, I will be doing a couple of 12/24 hour endurance events, 50K, and 50 Mile (Lookout Mountain Chattanooga) in December. I just want to finish these races since I consider myself new to ultra-running and haven’t done a 50K since November 2014.

What does a typical day of training look like?

With having two simultaneous careers going currently, I have to be creative with planning my workouts. When I am doing personal training- I get some mobility and core work in with my clients that are advanced- jumping in on some parts of their workouts also pushes them to test their own limits.

Tuesdays/Thursdays are dedicated to running. I will do a hill workout and a speed workout on either day. On my day off is a long run, usually on trails. If I am not too sore I will add in an extra day in the week to do an easy 3-5 mile run.

M, W, F- are usually cross fit days. I try to do some other cardio for cross training as well such as the stair climber or rower. Sometimes due to my workout schedule I have to combine days and will do my run then do cross fit or vice versa. I try not to do that as it ends up being a two hour workout on those days and I am depleted for work the next day.

I also try to do Yoga at least once a week- usually Sunday or Monday.

Race Results

 

 

I will admit that I have been the worst at keeping track of my race results over the years. When I first started running, I never thought I would actually take it this seriously. Luckily, for most races, if you registered online they keep track of the results for years so I am trying to put together a snap shot of my progress so that it is easier to compare new results to how I did in the past! I am going to split the results up into categories of Road, Trail, OCR, and Triathlon so that it is easier to read here.

 

Road Races

Date Race/location Time Place if applicable
5/19/2012 7th Annual Run for the Warriors 10K – Jacksonville, NC 54:02
9/22/2012 Marine Corps ½ Marathon – Jacksonville, NC 2:19:10
10/13/2012 Beirut Memorial 10K-Jacksonville, NC 54:51
12/01/2012 The Physical Therapy Clinic Merry Fitness 5K- Jacksonville, NC 24:48
12/8/2012 Santa Shuffle 5K – Jacksonville, NC 24:41
5/18/2013 8th Annual Run for the Warriors ½ Marathon- Jacksonville, NC 2:13:30
10/?/2013 Marine Corps Marathon- Washington, DC 5:39:51
3/30/2014 Knoxville Marathon- Knoxville, TN 4:40:42
9/27/2014 Nashville Women’s ½ Marathon- Nashville, TN 1:51:34
Feb. 2015 Whitestone 30K- Kingston, TN 2:54:31 1st in age group
4/01/2015 Knoxville Marathon- Knoxville, TN 4:01:46
5/28/2015 Rock n’Roll Marathon- Nashville, TN 4:16:02
2/6/2016 Strawberry Plains ½ marathon- Strawberry Plains, TN 1:45:08 4th in age group
2/28/2016 Whitestone 30K- Kingston, TN 2:46:50 1st in age group
4/3/2016

 

 

7/3/2016

Knoxville Marathon- Knoxville, TN

 

Pilot Fireball Moonlight 5K- Knoxville, TN

3:54:00

 

 

23:41

5th in age group

 

 

3rd in Age group

 

OCR

Date Race/location Time Place if applicable
2/9/2013 X-Treme Endurance Challenge 10K- Jacksonville, NC 1:03:55
3/16/2013 St. Paddy’s Engineer 5 Mile Run- Jacksonville, NC 54:25
3/23/2013 Carolina Spartan Sprint- Charlotte, NC 1:36:49
3/23/2013 Carolina Spartan Hurricane Heat- Charlotte, NC
4/20/2013 Zombie Escape 5K- Raleigh NC 34:22 1st place age group
4/27/2013 MARSOC Mud Sweat and Tears 5 Mile Run- Jacksonville, NC 46:48
8/24/13 VA Super Spartan- Wintergreen , VA 4:02:31 5th age group
11/9/2013 Carolina Spartan Beast- NC 3:33:14 3rd age group
3/15/2014 St. Paddy’s Engineer 5 Mile Challenge- Jacksonville, NC 52:11
4/26/2014 MARSOC Mud, Sweat and Tears 5 Mile Challenge- Jacksonville, NC 42:41 1st place age group, 5th overall female
6/14/2014 Fear the Reaper 12 hour endurance event- Cosby, TN ? Completed 8 laps ~35-40 Miles
11/8/2014 SEAL: Night Ops 8K- Cosby, TN 1:49:59 3rd overall female
2/7/2015 SEAL: Frozen Few 10K- Cosby, TN 1:57:34 2nd overall female
4/11/2015 Charlotte Spartan Sprint- Charlotte, NC 1:43:00 9th age group
4/12/2015

 

8/6/2016

 

SEAL: First Light 5K- Cosby, TN

Asheville Super Spartan-Asheville, NC

55:43

 

3:48:24

 

3rd overall female

Elite Heat: 70 in gender 23 in age, 244 out of 323 elite (M/F) overall

 

Trail Races

Date Race/location Time Place if applicable
7/21/2012 Sandsational 8K Beach Run- Jacksonville, NC 46:46
4/12/2014 War at Windrock 3 Stage Trail Series: Oliver Spring’s TN

36 miles (for a “50K”!!)

9:37:22 3rd overall female

 

4/12/2014 War at Windrock 4Mile 47:39 1st overall female
4/12/2014 War at Windrock 10K Uphill climb 2:32:26 4th overall female
4/12/2014 War at Windrock 34K Trail Run 6:17:17 4th overall female
7/?/2014 Haw Ridge Trail race- 7 Miles- Oak Ridge, TN 1:09:51
11/1/2014

 

 

7/30/2016

Norris Dam Hard Trail Race- 50K- Norris, TN

 

XTerra 13.1 Panther Creek, TN

6:58:49

 

 

2:44:50

11th overall female

 

 

1st in age group

 

how does a fit girl handle a breakup?

So I started my blog back up and have yet to post too much due to being so busy. So, since my last post a lot has happened. I ran the Knoxville Marathon for the third year in a row a PR of over six minutes making my finish time 3:54:00!!! This left me more motivated to train again this summer and fall for another marathon so I am currently looking for a fall race.

I wrapped up my first season of coaching the Tennessee Running Club as an assistant coach. This was such a rewarding experience to be a part of. To see kids who are 18-22 making healthy choices, training in the cold weather, sometimes hard rain this winter and managing to win races and achieve personal bests despite this and insurmountable school work.

I gained several new personal training clients and have helped several lose over 10 pounds within the last few months.

I have been working towards my new year’s resolutions still and have paid off over 1500.00 dollars in debt this year so far.

I have been eating healthy and have some recipes and tips to share soon!

I also went through a break up… So I had met a guy in January and things went so well. The first guy that I really fell head over heels for since my divorce two years ago. Dating has definitely been hard- trying to open up to new people and really make yourself vulnerable. Well I did it and needless to say we didn’t want the same things in the end. I have been handling things okay, but it is disappointing and I am definitely sad about it still. SO….

How does a fit girl deal with a break-up?

  1. Gets out and goes and runs her favorite trail in the sunshine.
  2. Meditates at the top of a cliff on her favorite said trail.
  3. Slams sledgehammer on tractor tire until she is in tears.
  4. Takes a hot bath.
  5. Binge watches her favorite movies about independent women- Wild and Million Dollar Baby.
  6. Eats her favorite Ice Cream.
  7. Makes a playlist of songs that make her feel happy.
  8. Wakes up the next day and realizes that she is enough, tough, and can do anything she sets her mind to because she knows her own strength.
  9. Repeats all steps until she feels better.

So I want to hear from you all! How have you handled break-ups and recovered faster?

Don’t Make Excuses

Today I ran the Secret City Triathlon, with my main goal being to improve my swim time and overall time from last year. While my swimming time improved greatly from last year and my form is MUCH better, I only shaved two minutes off of my overall time. When I got done with my 500 meter swim and mounted my bike it only took three miles for my whole lower body to start cramping up. By the time I was on mile 8 it was getting more and more difficult to push past the pain of my legs and feet seizing up relentlessly. While I continued to push as hard as I could, my immediate response was to start making excuses… “This humidity is why this is happening” / “maybe I should have worn different shoes”, etc. The truth is that I did not train hard enough for this race. While I have put a lot of effort into running lately I have only swam a handful of times in the last month and I did not practice the bike course before the race. My lack of preparation left me completely cramped up by the time I did the run. It took almost two miles for my soleus muscles to loosen up so that I could have a stronger finish.

In making a million excuses and almost talking myself into walking some of the running course, I decided to change my frame of reference. When we make excuses, we limit ourselves from getting better, faster, and stronger. Excuses keep us from learning and moving forward in any context, be it sports, work, or school. Instead of making excuses, learn from your mistakes and don’t view a mistake as a reason to stop. Become comfortable with being imperfect, for it is imperfections and mistakes that help us learn from our experiences and shape who we are as individuals.

Reflecting back on this year, I could make a lot of excuses to make me feel better when things go wrong. Going through a divorce, job change, and moving to a new community have definitely thrown some challenges in what seemed to be a perfect, uncomplicated life that I had before. Instead of making excuses, I view each set back as a challenge to get better as a person and as an athlete. I am comfortable with being imperfect and learning lessons. It is this humility that sets me apart from many in my generation who want everything handed to them on a silver platter. The reality is that no one owes you anything in life. Accomplishments, championships, personal bests are earned, never given. It is the cycle of practice, consistency, and hard work that helps me to accomplish my goals. Moving forward into my next weeks of training I will remember this. I will drive myself to put in the work to achieve what I want. I will recognize my inner potential, but understand that potential does not become anything without practice and training.

War at Windrock Race Re-cap

So, this past weekend was definitely an adventure like no other! I participated in a three stage mountain race that ended up totaling 35.63 miles (I got lost a couple of times adding on extra miles to what was supposed to be a 50K race). This race took place in a tiny town called Oliver Springs at Windrock Park. Windrock Park has 72,000 acres of ATV, mountain bike, and cross country trails and is also home to the Tennessee Valley Authority Windmill Farm, which powers much of the surrounding area. I won a free entry to this race through the event- Dirty Bird Events- and was stoked to do my first ultra-type of race.

The first leg of the race took place on Saturday morning and was  a four mile loop on a very technical single track trail. This trail was pretty steep and I was so excited, that I ended up charging all of the hills with full energy! I learned very quickly that this park was very rocky and that I would need to wear better shoes for the next legs, as I stubbed my toes several times on some pretty sharp rocks. This trail was a great warmup and taste of the next two legs of the race. I probably shouldn’t have pushed so hard during this first event (I placed first for females) because I needed that energy for the next two events!

The second leg, taking place Saturday evening was the “10K” uphill climb. I place 10k in quotations here, because it was actually a 7.5 mile course, but ended up being 8.25 for me after getting lost. This uphill climb took place on ATV trails, which provided it’s own challenge of dodging four wheelers and dirt bikers speeding down the steep mountain terrain! On this leg of the race, I climbed about 3,000 feet to to part of Buffalo Mountain where you can see the entrance of the windmill farm that we would get to enter the next day. Parts of this course were so steep that I literally bear crawled my way up to the top. This course was not for the weak minded and definitely tested my limits! At the end I could hear fellow participants shouting my name, but I could not see the finish and I seriously thought I had a psychotic break and was hearing voices. Luckily, it was only a .25 mile stretch and I learned, that I was not losing it! I placed 4th in females for that leg of the race.

The third leg of the race took place on Sunday morning. I had so many doubts running through my head after having done the first two legs the day before. My body was so tired, but I was determined to accomplish my goal of completing all three stages. This course had a very rough start of steep climbing up several jeep trails to the top of Buffalo Mountain. We also climbed boulders, rocks, and ran through deep mud at several points of the course. At mile four, I almost caved and actually shed a few tears after realizing how much pain I was actually in. I told myself that I would just get to the aid station and probably hitch a ride back to the finish. However, by the time I reached the aid station two other runners had reached me and I told myself, If I can hang with them for a few more miles, I will re-evaluate how I am doing. This worked, I ran with these two runners for several miles after that and was informed that they all thought about quitting as well. The three of us kept each other motivated and pushed each other up almost 3,400 feet of elevation to the Windmill Farm. When registering for the race, I really thought the Windmill Farm would be the best part of the course. While, this farm is not open to the public and we really were getting a treat to run through it, that 2.5 mile stretch of gravel road seemed to never end. We had run 13 miles up  Buffalo Mountain to get there and by that time, I was so physically and mentally exhausted! I get to see these windmills everyday on my drive to work and I never imagined them to be so HUGE up close! They are pretty amazing to see up close! I also realized that there are at least 30+ windmills up there, but can only see 3-4 from the bottom of the mountain! Once we got out of the windmill farm, we only had about four miles of Steep downhill running to finish. I thought, “oh, this will be great on my legs…”. WRONG! Running straight down a mountain after being in physical pain and fatigue is very hard. I slipped and fell several times, so I literally rolled down some parts of this descent. I have scrapes, cuts, and a sore shoulder as a result, but I made it down alive!

At several points, I never thought I would finish that race. I felt like I was in a Saw movie and someone had played a sick joke on us to see if we could make it out of the woods alive. I was very glad to have taken food, water, and gatorade with me as I would have passed out if I had not had proper fuel. I know I burned over 4,000 calories just in the 22 miler (my watch died and lost signal at mile 12 so I don’t have an accurate count) and I burned about 3,500 the day before. I lost six pounds in one weekend from the events and that was with eating the whole run (picky bars, bananas, and even a pb&j sandwhich) and consuming two plates of spaghetti and three angry orchard ciders on Saturday night. To be honest, I probably should have done a less challenging 50K for my first ultra, but I am so glad that I did this one because I feel so accomplished. Every time I drive to work and see those windmills I will know that I can conquer anything that I set my mind to. I would definitely recommend this race to someone who wants a race that will change their life and their outlook on what they can accomplish with their bodies and minds! I also made several new friends to hopefully share new adventures with!

Three amigos, keeping each other from quitting or getting lost!

Three amigos, keeping each other from quitting or getting lost!

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Knoxville Marathon Race RE-cap

Okay, so it has been a week since I ran the Knoxville Marathon. After crossing the finish line, a series of events happened that has left me away from social media for almost an entire week. My dad had a heart attack while I was running the marathon and after crossing the finish, I made my way to the hospital. That night, my grandmother passed away as well. Then the next couple of days, I started a new job and then cared for my dad when I got off work. The good news is that  my dad is doing much better after having a blockage removed from his heart and he is recovering okay.

So for the race re-cap: This was my second full marathon. Participants had a choice to do a 5K, 1/2 Marathon, two or four person relay, and the full marathon. At the expo, I was shocked at how few people had actually signed up for the full marathon, the majority was running the 1/2. This is probably because the Knoxville marathon is probably one of the hilliest courses in the south east.

My race strategy was to start running with the 4:45 minute pace group and then kick it up at mile 20 if I felt good enough to run the last 6.2 at a faster pace. My goal was to finish under five hours. However, as I always do, once I started the race, I felt like I could go a little faster during the first few miles and I ended up catching up with the 4:30 minute pacer. I knew I could not push it faster than that pace, so I stayed with that pace group for almost the whole race. This was also my first time running in a pace group and I loved having others to share the experience with.

Our pace group used a run/walk method of run 4 minutes, walk 1 minute. This is typically seen in Jeff Galloway programs, which I have not tried yet. I loved this method, especially on the hills. At this pace, we were averaging a one minute walk break at every half mile.

The marathon start was at the Knoxville convention center at the heart of downtown. The first 1-3 miles wrap around the University of Tennessee through Neyland Drive. After taking a left onto Kingston Pike, we traveled approximately another mile before turning left into Cherokee Blvd. into the Sequoyah Hills area. I had trained in this area prior to running the marathon and I was so happy that my training paid off. This section of the course has very steep climbs and rolling hills which last for approximately four miles. The Sequoyah Hills area has very nice homes, well maintained yards, and has the Holston River on the left providing nice scenery. Residents were lining the streets cheering us on and several had placed unique signs such as “Naked Cheerleaders” coming up (with bras hanging on the trees) and the entire what does the fox say song lining the street!

After Sequoyah hills, you get to make a climb back up to Kingston Pike by climbing approximately 155 feet of the notorious Noelton Hill. Again, I was glad that I had ran this section of the course during training and knew how to pace myself.

After climbing back up to Kingston pike, the marathon course leads you to the greenway system. Mind you, 1/2 marathon runners and full marathon runners are sharing the course so it was packed once you get to the greenway. My favorite part of this section was the themed water stations. On the third creek greenway section, there were people dressed up Duck Dynasty Style and they were using duck calls to cheer us on! This was so much fun! Also, there were several bands playing music on this section!

After exiting the greenway system, you get to run back through the university area and eventually get to Worlds Fair Park. At this section, the 1/2 marathoners make their way to the Stadium to finish, while the full marathoners make their way up Central Avenue and North Knox. After the split, the course becomes fairly quiet and isolated. I was thankful to be running in a pace group to keep myself motivated to push harder.

Running in downtown Knoxville you get to see several of the older establishments, businesses, and also several of the non-profit organizations that serve Knoxville’s citizens. At Mile 20, you reach the South Knoxville Bridge and cross the Holston River into the Island Home area. The bridge is scenic and allows you to get the full view of how far you have run already! I hit my wall at approximately mile 22. Somewhere during mile 17-20, my foot started cramping. I believe this was due to the road being tilted and my shoe placing pressure on the side of my foot. I still have a bruise from this, but I started slowing down due to the cramping. Eventually at mile 23, my pace group had gone on without me. I could still see them in the distance and my pace coach had advised me to continue to use the run/walk method and that I would get to the end and maintain and PR. I took his advice.

The island home area, was nice, had a lot of music, but did not have very many spectators cheering us on like the first 1/2 of the course. You basically make a loop around the residences and come back out to Gay Street Bridge at mile 24. You make another very steep climb at this mile marker to get back up to downtown Knoxville.

Mile 25 takes you through market square where there are many spectators. At this point I saw the 4:45 pace group again, but was informed that they were about 5-6 minutes ahead of pace. I just kept repeating my goal of finishing before them in my head and pushed as hard as I could that last mile. Once you get out of market square you can pretty much hear and see the stadium. You cross the starting point at the convention center and then have a huge downhill decline crossing the street to Neyland Stadium. This is deceiving because then you climb another steep hill lasting about .3 miles into the stadium area. After that it is an easy flat section to finish that last .2 into the stadium to cross the finish line!

Pros of the race- I would have done fine not taking a water bottle with me on the course. There were often times multiple water stations with gatorade in the same mile. Many of the stations offered GU, but I don’t use GU, so it didn’t really benefit me personally (they hurt my stomach). I carried my own fuel during the course (nathan’s almond butter, welch’s fruit snacks, and a Picky Bar).

The expo for this race was great! I got two  bags of rice (I found this interesting, but I used them to make homemade chicken fried rice after the race!), two peanut butter energy bars from Bear naked, and really awesome coupons in my virtual goody bag. I also picked up an additional t-shirt that has the elevation profile for Noelton Hill on the back and an awesome pint glass as a souvenir. I also ordered a medal holder (I will post a blog about this when it arrives!) for my apartment.

Cons- After the split from the 1/2 marathon course, things get pretty isolated and quiet. This is the time when you really need the motivation to keep pushing hard to the finish. The views are scenic, but if you are a person that feeds off of the energy of the spectators, it takes a lot of willpower and mental strength to keep yourself motivated from mile 15-23.

Summary: I will run this race again. It was an entirely different challenge from the last marathon I ran in DC. The hills in this course are deceiving, but I love challenging myself with the hills of East TN. You also get awesome views of the smoky mountains, all of the cool buildings in Knoxville, and the University of Tennessee! I also enjoyed the pace group I ran with and will probably run with a group for my next road marathon as well!

My chip time at the finish was 4:40:41, which means that I ran this course (which was by far the hardest road course I have ran) a little over 34 minutes faster than my last marathon in October. I set a new PR for myself and that is all I wanted to accomplish!

race swag!

race swag!

Me, before the start! It was 34 degrees that morning, but warmed up to about 55 by the end of the race.

Me, before the start! It was 34 degrees that morning, but warmed up to about 55 by the end of the race.