#Vega Pre-Workout Energizer Review, thanks to #sweatpink!

I’ve been a huge fan of Vega products (I use the recovery protein powder all the time), so I was really excited to get to review the Vega Pre-Workout Energizer as a SweatPink ambassador.

From the Vega website: 

Vega Sport Pre-Workout Energizer is a pre-workout drink mix sporting a unique blend of 13 synergistic plant-based performance-improving ingredients, like green tea, yerba mate, coconut oil and rhodiola, specifically selected to:

Provide immediate and sustained energy
Increase endurance, aerobic and anaerobic capacity
Enhance mental focus and recovery

veg00726_preworkoutenergizer_single_acaiberry_us_1

This product is part of Vega’s #Fuel Your Better campaign to help athletes perform better with solid nutrition. I love how vega products are vegan and free of chemicals/processed ingredients. It’s so important to make sure you are getting quality ingredients and nutrition to fuel properly for running. This has become even more apparent to me, as I’ve increased my running over the past few months.

I don’t usually drink coffee before runs for fear of being top jittery, so I was a little leery. You mix this with a glass of water 20-30 minutes before working out (It seemed to work best for me 30 min before). I’m going to be totally honest, this powder is not the best tasting. I’m sure if you mixed it with juice instead of water that might help, but I’m not much of a juice person.  I just tried to drink it fast, haha.

I used this before a run and a couple other cross training workouts (biking mostly). I liked that I did notice an increase in energy that was not the same kind as coffee, just more of a boost.  I didn’t feel jittery at all, which is was a real relief. It just felt like I was more focused and revved up for whatever activity I was doing. For me, I found that this helped me more with non running workouts (I think I just have a system that works for me, and I am a creature of habit).

I would definitely keep these in my fuel basket, next to my GU’s and vega recovery protein powder. :) If you’re looking for something to get you a little pumped up for workouts, definitely give this a shot!!

Disclaimer: I did receive Vega pre-workout energizer complimentary for writing this blog post. The views expressed are my own.

done with my first year of law school! & Novi Half Marathon Review

I’m back!! I survived my second bout of law school finals and have a little time to breathe. The past 2 weeks have been intense, stressful and amazing all at the same time. I am truly grateful for all of the opportunities I’ve received during my first year of law school. But I won’t lie, I’m welcoming this little break ;) I have 2 weeks off before I start working full time as a student attorney/ law fellow for an Elder Law firm. I’ll also be taking 2 classes and beginning marathon training. What am I, crazy?! haha.

Back in December, I signed up for a half marathon the weekend following my last final. I figured it sounded like the best way to celebrate being done with my first year. Plus it was a very reasonable price, so double bonus. This was before I started working with my coach (which I owe an updated post on, as well as like a zillion other things), so I had no idea where my training would take me.

Truly, working with my coach has given me a new perspective on running. Learning to not try and PR every race, pushing myself out of my comfort zone with different speed workouts, and most importantly, having someone to answer to every day has really helped me so much. I have noticed that my long distances have been more consistent in splits, and I haven’t felt as zonked by them even kicking up the pace a little bit. But, when this half marathon came around, I was nervous. For 2 reasons: 1. I was in the most stressful week of my law school career, thus far, and; 2. I had only ran 9 miles this year as my longest run.

The last week of school was especially stressful because we had a 72 hour take home exam. I spent most of that time working on that exam, and very little eating/sleeping. I went for what should’ve been an easy 4 mile run on thursday and it was devastating, to put it lightly. I was very bothered by it, even through Brendan (my coach) told me not to be, that because of my stress and lack of sleep it was expected. BUT it was not how I wanted to go into the race. Saturday I had a tryout to be an attorney for mock trial next year, so that was my last little bit of stress to deal with. Saturday night I ordered a pizza, drank a ton of water, put on a face mask and watched Sex & The City re-runs. I am the coolest person you know, believe me. ;) might sound lame but it was exactly what I needed. I felt well rested and back to normal race morning.

at the starting line

at the starting line

I went into this race with only one expectation- to be able to finish. I saw Karly and Jeff at the start and both of them were all “you’re going to go really fast aren’t you?!”, which always hypes me up to want to be like hell yeah!! BUT I knew I had to think of this like my coach said, as a training run. And adding 4.1 miles on to your longest run this year at once is nothing to mess with.

The race had the Star Spangled Banner to begin and then we were off. I knew the course was mostly flat and on some dirt roads (not nearly as much as I found out to be). I felt really good and settled in without looking at my garmin until the first mile. I ran it in 8 flat. Oops. A little fast for me to be using as a training run, especially when I had no clue how my legs would feel after 9 miles. I slowed a little and settled back into the groove. Ran the 5k point around 25:xx. I felt really good and strong. Around 5 miles I hit an aid station for water so I could take a GU. Walked around 1 min to do so and still hit 7 miles in under an hour. I figured I would keep my pace maintainable until 10 miles because if I felt good then, I’d push a little harder.

on the course

on the course

running through some pretty nice neighborhoods

running through some pretty nice neighborhoods

Just around mile 8 we hit the dirt roads. Man, they were pretty awful! Winter was rough on us Michiganders and the roads. Tons of pot holes you had to dodge, felt like I was playing hopscotch while running! I was looking down the whole time. The mental aspect was also a bit rough because it turned around just after the 10 mile mark, so you could see runners coming back. Sometimes thats a positive thing, but at this moment, it was not. I ended up hitting an aid station to take a second GU somewhere around the 9.5 mile mark and walked about 45 seconds or so again.

better part of the dirt road

better part of the dirt road

By the time we turned around, I was over 10 miles so I just kept telling myself “only 5k to go”. At this point, my legs were started to go “wait a minute…” because clearly they haven’t ran over 9 this year, lol. But I was still maintaining a decent pace. When we got to 11 miles it just became complete headwind. It was ROUGH. There were quite a few little uphills that wouldn’t have been so terrible without the wind, but felt really hard with it. I ended up walking up one of the last hills just to take a break from fighting the wind. Another 45-60 seconds. At that point I decided I was going to run, even if I had to slow down, but I was going to run to the finish. Turns out that a guy had been keeping on pace with me (we kept zigzagging each other), so we chatted a little bit which was a welcome distraction. Once I got past 12 I just had tunnel vision. As soon I started to see a glimpse of the starting line I gave it my all and kicked it into the 7 min range. I just wanted to hit that damn finish line! haha.

I crossed at 1:51:54, not a PR for me, but a damn good time considering everything. I met up with some runner friends after, including my girl Karly, who got a killer PR! (1:48:14 I believe?). And of course pictures, because obviously.

a few of us after the race! thanks to Jeff (Detroit Runner) for the photo.

a few of us after the race! thanks to Jeff (Detroit Runner) for the photo.

I didn’t see my friend Dee (the races started at different times), but she also ran the 5k and got a killer PR AND placed first in her age group! I love having such speedy, awesome friends to motivate me!

Overall, I am happy with where I’m at in my training. I’m a little sore today, but nothing like last year when I ran almost the exact same time at the Nike DC half, so I know I’m improving. I’m really excited to see where full training takes me this year!

Did you race over the weekend? 

What is your favorite way to celebrate a milestone? 

products I’m loving (skincare edition)

I have 3 specific blog posts I need to get up, but as I’m in the middle of studying for finals, they just aren’t happening as fast as I’d like. I appreciate the patience :)

 

Some of you may or may not know that I am a licensed esthetician. The study of esthetics includes skincare (facials, masques, other treatments), waxing, and makeup. After high school, I attended esthetician school and passed my state boards to be certified. At the time, I really wanted to open my own spa. 

 

I absolutely loved beauty school and all that I learned. I am still friends with people I went to school with, now 10 years ago (!!). I tried to find pictures from school, but they are in  an album, and I’m just too lazy to scan them.

this is basically how we were everyday

this is basically how we were everyday

Because I wanted to open my own spa, I wanted to learn from the “ground up” about skincare, so to speak. We practiced all kinds of treatments on each other, and then actually worked in a salon before graduating. Ahh, I miss those days.. I could go for a hot stone back treatment right about now…..

Anyways, getting off track. After I graduated, I attempted to look for a job with little avail. I also was in the process of trying to start another business (which is a whole different blog), and I ended up just utilizing my esthetician knowledge for more personal uses. I practiced on my mom, friends and other family members all the time. I really just enjoyed doing it, it was super relaxing.

Throughout the years, I have had excellent skincare habits and then not so excellent ones. It’s easy to put off certain things because you “don’t have time” or are tired/lazy/etc. But it is SO important to keep a good skincare regime, especially as we get older.

Within the past 4-6 weeks, I started testing out some vegan & organic products on my skin, to see their results compared to higher priced lines. My makeup style has drastically changed in the past several years- I went from rocking the smoky eye 24/7 to preferring a much more natural, clean look.

(This doesn’t mean I won’t rock a killer fantasy makeup look. Make up artistry was one of the coolest things to learn, and I will still do up any of my friend’s faces on random occasions).

This picture was taken about 4 weeks after using my current products. I have zero make up on, but one of my classmates asked me what kind of foundation I used. That's what sparked this post. :)

This picture was taken about 4 weeks after using my current products. I have zero make up on, but one of my classmates asked me what kind of foundation I used. That’s what sparked this post. :)

I want to be clear- with skin care products, you really just have to research and find the best products for your skin type. We all have different issues, but there are general commonalities that I can suggest things to help. However, I think that people believe they have to spend 100′s of $ to find a great line, and that’s just not true. You can if you want to! But it is not the only way to have a great line. Since I was professionally trained, I am fortunate to have tried a wide array of products and learned about them in that setting. Also, since I try to keep what I eat and put in/on my body as clean as possible, I have found some products that are giving me a lot of success currently (and don’t break the bank)

My products I currently use:

Kiss My Face Pure Olive Oil Soap Bar

Kiss My Face Pure Olive Oil Soap Bar

I use this every day, twice a day, to wash my face. I have sensitive skin so I try to stay away from anything with added dyes/perfumes. What I love about this bar is that it really works if you have combination skin, which most of us do (different parts of your face have different needs). For me, my cheeks are generally more dry, but my T-zone area is a little more oily. This bar is great at moisturizing both areas and I have noticed that my skin feels much smoother. I got this for around $6 at Target.

Lavender & Aloe Toner

Lavender & Aloe Toner

I use 2 products as toners- this and Apple Cider Vinegar. I spray this all over my face and use it to remove any makeup. I use ACV whenever I have a blemish. It clears it up, with no scars, in like 2-3 days. I love it! I also take a shot of ACV because I just can’t get enough ;) I purchased this on Amazon for $19.

Coffee Bean Caffeine eye cream

Coffee Bean Caffeine eye cream

Ohhh my goodness, I love this cream. It smells delicious! I am young, but I like to be preventative so I have started using this cream to keep my eyes looking fresh and avoid fine lines. I was skeptical about this cream (I worked as a marketing consultant for a plastic surgeon and know how big of an issue this becomes), but I have definitely noticed that my under eye area looks fresh. The only issue I have is it comes in a teeny tiny bottle. You are supposed to use it twice a day but I only use it once because I’m doing it as a preventative. It’s on Amazon for around $20.

Then I have a moisturizer I made that I also use, but don’t have a picture of (sorry).

Top Tips I learned from Esthetician School:

1. (this is in order of importance)- start taking care of your skin TODAY. even if you never have in your entire life, you can still benefit and reverse damage from previous years. of course it is easier to start young, but even if you are a little older, start NOW. your skin will thank you.

2. drink water. my teacher told us that our skin is in a constant state of dehydration because of the other beverages we drink that are not water. if you drink 1 coffee/tea/pop/etc your skin needs 6-8 additional ounces of water PER DRINK just to make up for the hydration it’s losing. So try to drink as much water as you can.

3. if your skin is feeling really dry, try an egg white masque. these are super easy and you most likely have the ingredients in your house! all you need are several egg whites (no yolks). whisk them until smooth and then apply to your face. leave it on until it becomes dry and you look kind of wrinkly (sorry, no better description), and wash & remove. Some people save the remainder and use it for a couple days in a row. It really doesn’t matter, but you will notice an immediate difference after.

4.DO NOT GO TANNING. I tanned too when younger so I’m just as guilty, don’t worry, I’m not judging. Tanning beds are becoming the #1 reason for skin cancer, which is no joke. Even tanning outside is really a no go. Use sunscreen and avoid the booths. Also, on a related note, get a full body skin check from your dermatologist at least once a year. Always better to be safe vs. sorry.

5. As I said, skincare is not a one size fits all. The products I listed above have worked great for me, but you may require something different. Don’t be afraid to do a little research or read other reviews about a product. And feel free to contact me with any questions!!

I hope to help some of you find a great product line for you, without breaking the bank. If you have a favorite product you love already, feel free to list it in the comments! I love trying new things. I’ll have to do a post about all the different face masques I’ve used/created ;)

working with a running coach

so, I’m in the middle of my 7th week working with my coach, and I figured it’s time for me to do an update. when I first started working with Brendan, I really had no idea what to expect. I had a zillion goals in my head (get faster at EVERYTHING is how I like to do things). what I’m learning at this point is that there is only one major goal that I really wish to achieve- that sub 4 hour marathon.

last year at the start of my first full!

last year at the start of my first full!

Having a coach in the same state as you is really cool because I actually got to go meet him and discuss my goals/issues/worries face to face. I also got to learn more about him (like the fact that he is currently training for Boston and his PR marathon is 2:18- holy canolli).  Anyways, that is something I really liked. Nothing against out of state coaches who you just e-mail/skype etc, but I feel like our in person meeting was really helpful.

Disclaimer: the advice given to me by my coach has been based off of my training, feedback, ability and what works best for me. That being said, I will be posting some of my paces/workouts. If you decide to try them, that is at your own risk.

The main thing he told me was he wanted me to be comfortable running a lot of miles at my easy pace (which ranges anywhere in the 9′s) and then some tempo runs. He told me that the interval training I was doing was okay, but not really going to help me get to where I want to in the marathon distance.  This really surprised me, and disappointed me because I loathe tempo runs. Figures.

After meeting, he sent me a Google docs spreadsheet that consisted with workouts for the next couple weeks. I was actually surprised that most of the runs were at easy pace, with the exception of a few hill workouts. How am I going to get faster going easy?! Where is the speed work?! He laughed at me and told me that will come with time. (time is something I have a hard time dealing with- I always want instant results haha).

The first 4 weeks were mostly easy runs, a couple hill routines and then a long run with 2-3 miles at tempo pace. At this point, he was not specifying any paces for me, because he wanted to see what came naturally to me. For easy & hilly runs I primarily stayed in the 9′s, shorter distances or tempo’s anywhere from high 7′s to mid 8′s. By the end of February, I ran 75.4 miles (which is not too far off from my normal monthly average, usually 80… but feb is a shorter month too).

March is when I feel my routine really started to get going. Brendan has been slowly transitioning me to running 5 days a week (I normally do 4, because anytime I did more in the past I started getting achy). The very first week I was supposed to run a 5th day was the week of the Shamrock 10k. As you recall in my last post, I started having sore calves so I skipped that extra day. It proved to be smart because I ended up being totally pain free just a couple days later. Whew.

March is also when he started specifying my paces for speed work. My first speed style run was 6 miles: 2 easy then 3 in cutdown style: 8:15, 8:00, 7:45, then 1 easy. This run was a little hard just because I didn’t fuel right, but also that last mile was killer. Who knew an easy mile after some hard ones would be so exhausting? But I kept going with it and the following week’s speed work was longer, but felt much easier. This one was another 6, including  1 easy then 4 at tempo (right around 7:50) and another easy. In that run, I ended up PR’ing my 4 mile distance by over 30 seconds! My most recent speed workout was 2 days ago and was 7 miles-  1 warm up, 2x 2 miles @ 7:45 pace with 1 mile in between, then 1 mile cool down. I was surprised how my legs didn’t feel tired in that 7:45 pace. I didn’t even need a GU this entire run. I won’t say it was easy but it felt much more controlled. I also ran 99.3 miles in march, a big switch from February. I haven’t had a close to 100 mile month since marathon training.

Additionally, Brendan has been having me do planks and hip strengthening exercises, since I had issues with my IT band last year. I feel like that has helped me get stronger and have better endurance.

I definitely feel like getting a coach was the right move for me. I get daily feedback from him on my runs and answers to questions I have (which I have often haha). I can tell that I am getting stronger because I have really not had any issues or pain except for that minor calf issue (which was my own fault for not running easy on a day I was supposed to!). I feel as though working with him has also solidified that while I would love to PR in every distance, this year it really is all about the 26.2 for me.

One thing that has been a struggle is fitting in these runs with my schedule. The other day I ran 7 miles before class, and normally my range is 3-5 during the week. I felt like I was back in marathon training again, haha. There have been some times I’ve had to get up earlier than I would even when planning to run, in order to get it in. It does worry me for when I’m actually training for the full, and working full time, as well as taking a summer class. I know, I could go in the afternoon but truthfully I like getting it done in the morning so it doesn’t weigh on me the rest of the day. So I’ll just have to get it done. I know I will.

 

This post is getting pretty long so I’ll leave it here for now. But if you are considering getting a running coach, I say go for it! It is so worth it and I am happy I did.

 

I’m still here!

Whew, the weeks keep flying by and I keep meaning to write an update. SO much has gone one!

1. I am less a little over a month out from finishing my first year in law school! This year feels like it went by in a mili-second, and I have mixed feelings on it. While I am excited to almost be 1/3 of the way done with school, I am sort of sad to see my 1st year come to close! I’ve met some really special people in class and have gotten involved with some amazing causes. I was so nervous about starting school, whether being a lawyer was the right move for me, but this year has shown me just how much it really is. I am really looking forward to the rest of what school and then my career will offer!

Some of my classmates and me at a networking event for school :)

Some of my classmates and me at a networking event for school :)

2. Speaking of school coming to an end for the semester, I have lined up my summer work plans! It was the craziest feeling in the world quitting my full time job, with benefits (like paid holidays! haha) and going to school full time. I have never not worked while in school ( I did my undergrad in 3 years, while working 2 part time jobs and an internship for 6 months as well), so this was a weird transition. Overall, I am so happy that I did because I was able to focus on my studies and get involved on campus. I was fortunate to do well in my first semester and that helped me with finding summer work. I had 3 serious offers that to choose from, and I picked the one that will give me exactly the experience I am looking for! More on that later ;)

3. My brother is going to be finishing his final year of law school in a few short weeks! Yes, we are twins, but I decided to wait a little before going to law school… I’ve always been a little rebellious ;) I am so proud of him and cannot wait to see him walk across that stage!

Ok, enough with school stuff, on to the fun stuff….. running of course!

So, a little while back, I entered into a contest with Kona races (not the Ironman, haha) and won an entry into their series! this is great for a full time grad student on a budget ;) I ran my first race of the year with them, Shamrock, on March 16.

You may remember me talking about this race last year, it’s my current 10k PR and I had a blast! (the picture of me on the right is from that race, and I think accurately shows just how much fun I was having).

When I first started working with Brendan, my coach, I was dead set on PR’ing this race again. I mean, who runs their PR course and doesn’t set the bar a little high? Plus we all know how I love to PR every race I can (doesn’t everyone?). BUT he kept reminding me of my main, major goal- sub 4 hour marathon. So what we have been focusing on is increasing my weekly/monthly mileage in addition to adding some harder workouts in.

A few days before the race, I had a couple hard runs and then one easy 3 miler schedule. The day of my 3 mile run, I woke up and my calves felt a little sore. Not when I walked/ran, just when I stretched them. Thinking nothing of it, I ran my 3 mile at a pace that I wouldn’t call exactly easy but I also wouldn’t call it hard (right in the mid 8′s).

this was pretty much me the day before the race. stellar way to prepare, I know.

this was pretty much me the day before the race. stellar way to prepare, I know.

Well, the next day (the day before the race) I woke up to some seriously achy calves. Uh oh. I shouldn’t have pushed it that hard when they were feeling a little worn already. So I did what anyone would do- I skipped the short run I had for that day, foam rolled, ice, wore compression socks and stretched. But I was nervous. I didn’t want to make my calves worse during the run. For a minute, I almost thought about not doing it. I mean, it was going to be 15 degrees for the race anyway, not ideal running weather.

But when I woke up Sunday morning, my legs felt MUCH better. The pain was almost nonexistent. Thank you body for bouncing back so quickly! I also made a decision- I was not going to try and PR. I wasn’t going to go all out and risk injury. No, for once I realized that my larger, down the road is much more important than the immediate gratification of a PR. Especially when I wasn’t ready, and let’s be real, I wasn’t.

So Sherri and I got to the race and lined up. I started my garmin, but made the executive decision to not look at it the entire time I ran, and just go by feel. THIS IS ONE OF THE HARDEST THINGS I HAVE EVER DONE. I have never not looked at my time while running. But it was also one of the best experiences for me. I didn’t pay attention to people who were passing me, or who I was passing. The miles felt easy, and controlled.

my finish picture

my finish picture

I ended up crossing the finish line at 52:37, which is about 3:40 minutes slower than my PR. But I felt great! What was even better? My calves didn’t hurt at all. A few more easy runs the following week and they were back to normal. And I realized just how important this marathon training is to me. A valuable lesson I’m glad to have learned prior to even official training.

I’m going to do an updated coaching post since I’m now in my 6th (!!) week. Stay tuned for that in a few days. With finals looming, the infrequent posts my continue for just a bit longer. But hang tight! Over the summer there will be some more fun stuff going on, so stay with me! :)

3 weeks in…

Wow, I can’t believe 3 weeks has flown by since starting to work with my coach! Life has been a little crazy. Between school and being involved with a million other activities on campus, and Nate & the pups, and setting up my summer work (I can’t believe it’s been 5 months since I left my full time job!), it’s been chaotic. But I am very grateful for all of the opportunities that have been presented to me, and really grateful that all those hours of studying are paying off :)

ANYWAYS, because I talk about school enough, I wanted to do an update on working with my coach. I originally was nervous about getting a coach. Now, I think it is the best thing ever. I don’t even have to think about what I’m doing because he lays it all out. I know which days I’m doing what run and the style.

Image

I don’t know why but I thought this was hilarious

What immediately surprised me was how many easy runs he scheduled me. WHAT?! I’m supposed to be getting faster, so intervals, mile splits, come on! what gives?! But the first few weeks have been easy runs (generally for me in the low to mid 9′s) with 1 tempo run each week. But what was crazy is I noticed that on my 2nd tempo run I knocked 30 seconds off my pace, despite it being longer, and didn’t feel tired or anything. He has also had me doing a lot of hip strengthening exercises (something I work dilligently on since that helps keep the IT band strong, and we all know I want mine nice and strong ;) ) and planks. Which I’ll admit, I totally had been slacking on. So I’m back on my #plankaday grind.

Also, I have been doing hill work more frequently. Let me tell you something, I thought I disliked tempos…. NO. I hate hill work. Especially 6 miles of it, like this past Thursday.

Image

this is all I think about while doing hill work.

Even there… I did a 3 mile hill run my 2nd week training and this past week did 6 miles… and knocked 9 seconds per mile. To me, that’s a really telling sign to be able to not only run longer, but faster while doing hills.

I do struggle with feeling like I should just be able to run my 5k pr pace for an 8 mile run…… but I am trying to think long term here. While I would love to PR in every single distance this year, to be honest… the marathon is my major goal. I am just going to announce it here and to the world (which is terrifying despite the fact I’ve told numerous people this already): I’m trying to go sub 4.

This is a huge goal for me. I know that my half times make it look like it should be easy, but my first full marathon time was 5:12. That is saying, okay I want to knock 1 hour and 13 minutes off my marathon time…. no big deal, right?! I know I was injured, but even without being injured, a sub 4 is a lofty goal. This is one of the reasons I wanted to start training earlier (vs just doing a 20 week plan), so that I can get comfortable running longer distances as the pace I need to for a full before I even start actually training.

So, back to the update here….. because I struggle with wanting to be faster and faster at a more immediate rate, it can be hard for me to think about the long term. This is ironic because it’s completely opposite with how I am in normal life ( I like to plan ahead most of the time…. run dates, career goals, what I’ll be making for dinner… etc). but it’s hard for me to think big picture with running. I just want results yesterday.

So, this is also teaching me about patience :) But I am very fortunate to have found a coach who understands my desire to see immediate results WHILE training for my long term goal. So these runs have shown me progress in just a few short weeks, while giving me the confidence to know I’m properly preparing for the future.

Next week I transition into a new block routine (2 days back to back running, rest then 3 days back to back running) in addition to him giving me actual times to hit (these past couple weeks I’ve just ran based on feel, which makes me feel good to see the improvement without any speed requirements), so I’m excited for what’s to come. ALSO my husband ordered me the treadmill I’ve been eying so bye bye gym membership fees :)

Getting a coach

Last year, I started taking my running more seriously. I set a wide variety of goals, trained regularly and raced hard. After the marathon, I kind of meandered through racing and managed to still hit some nice time goals. I don’t mean to say it like I didn’t work hard to try and hit those goals, I guess what I mean is that I didn’t really know how to go about furthering my running goals.

So, I started looking at coaches. I’ve read several running blogs that highly advocated for getting a coach, but I always felt a little silly doing so. I’m no elite, and I am nowhere close to even being one. Clearly, I’m in law school, so I’m not even trying to be an elite. I felt like people who worked with coaches were only the ones trying to be elite or qualify for the Olympics or something.

in my own mind I may be a kenyan... but not in real life! haha

in my own mind I may be a kenyan… but not in real life! haha

But the more I researched, the more I learned that a variety of people utilize running coaches. And because this year I’ve got a pretty significant goal for my second marathon (more on that later), I decided that it was time to get an expert in to help me figure out the best way to train for me.

I have never really followed a training plan to a T. Even during marathon training, I dropped one day of the plan per week (the lowest mileage) and did some form of cross training or rest instead. Now that I’m honing in on where I want my running to go, I recognized that an expert could help me get in that direction.

So how do you find the right coach for you? Well, I put my Type A skills to the test and researched. A LOT. I e-mailed coaches who were training athletes for the Olympic Marathon Trials. I read blog reviews of certain coaches. I was looking for someone who had a. personality that would vibe well with mine b. someone who would listen to what I wanted and work with that, not modify/force me to do something I don’t want to. This may sound bitchy, but I just mean I don’t want someone that is going to tell me “You need to run 80 miles per week”. I go to law school full time, study 12-14 hours a week, and have additional things on my plate. There is no way I could do that. So it took a little time, but finally I found someone I liked, actually right in my own state (another bonus).

I have only done 1 week training with him, so I am going to wait a bit before I blog about how I think it’s going. I have a few things in the future planned that should give me an indicator. BUT I thought maybe it would be helpful to put together some factors you should think about if you are looking for a coach:

1. Location. I did not think that it would matter to me if the coach was in my state or not, I always assumed it would be an online thing. And for the most part it is, but I did like going to meet my coach face-to-face where I could discuss my race experiences and goals and gage his feedback. It made me feel like he was more invested in my progress than just reading an e-mail. This may or may not be the case for you, but just think it through to make sure.

2. Following that, responsiveness. This is especially important if you don’t live in the same state. A couple coaches I e-mailed me took several days to a week to get back to me. I’m not trying to be funny, but when you’re trying to get new clients and take that long to respond that means either: a. you have a lot of clients and will be difficult for more immediate feedback/questions b. you don’t really care. At least that’s how it came off. If you are taking this long to respond to me before I even start working with you, I can only imagine how it will be when I actually start. Not to say that is completely true, but it definitely turned me off to some coaches.

3. Experience. I was looking for someone who was faster than me to train me. You want to make sure you research your coaches background. If you are trying to run a sub 3 hour marathon and their PR is 3:25, that might not be a good fit. My coach is considered an elite (I did not actually realize how fast he was until I looked at his stats, I just knew he was speedy and on the Hansons-Brooks running team), which gives me confidence in his abilities to help me get faster. You just want to make sure that they have the experience you desire for your goals.

4. Price. Yes, coaches cost money. It’s not free. Nor should it be. If they are doing it for free, they are a pacer and you are lucky. But for consistent feedback, training, etc, they rightfully deserve to be paid. But get all the numbers out of the way. When I e-mailed coaches I was upfront that I a. was on a limited budget b. needed to know the terms of our agreement & how to break it (contracts class has been beneficial to me ;) ) c. also that I was full time student so my time was limited. I think that a lot of people don’t feel comfortable asking these types of questions and then it ends up being a bad situation for everyone. Also, you want to get a feel for what coaches regularly charge. if they are more of an elite, they will charge more than someone who simply has an RRCA certificate. You decide what is most important, and if you want to pay for it. Most coaches are month to month, but some require a certain amount of months committed in payment upfront. You want to make sure you are aware of that before freaking out over the charge on your Visa.

5. Ask around! Don’t be afraid to ask them for references. This is an investment in yourself and your running future. You want to make sure its the right one, and a true coach is going to want to make sure you feel comfortable with them as well. Ask your friends if they’ve heard of them. Google them. Show up at their races. JK on the last one….. but if there is one nearby, check it out! :)

 

Also…. I feel I need to address what I was talking about in the beginning, how I didn’t feel like it was right for a normal runner like me to get a coach. I remember explaining it to Nate, going “I know I’m never going to be an elite… I just feel like I have more in me to be faster”. He just looked at me like  I was a unicorn and said “I know you do. Do what you think is best for you. You don’t have to explain anything”. Honestly that made me feel so much better. For one, I feel like we all, as “recreational runners” are constantly justifying ourselves to others. “Well, it’s fast for me, but it’s not fast”. “It’s a PR, but it’s still not that fast/long/etc”. “I’m no Kenyan, but this is a good time for me

And just WHY do we need to justify it? Who cares?! When I tell people I hired a coach, they either:

1. Say “why?! you’re so fast”- these people are naive to the sport but I also secretly love them.

2. Say “oh? like are you training to win a race?” – these people think coach means I’m trying to be the michael jordan of running. nope, just chasing my own personal goals in this competition I have with myself.

3. Say “cool!” they are my fellow runner friends that I love

4. Don’t care <—- this is most of the population and the same for if you choose to hire a coach. Don’t justify it to ANYONE!

I’m planning to update my progress with my coach, like I said, I just want to wait a bit until I’m more familiar with my schedule. Last week went great, and he’s extremely responsive/supportive so I’m enjoying it thus far.

Have you ever thought about getting a coach? Why or why not?

What is your advice for those looking for a coach?

Do you have questions for a coach? Maybe I can introduce a new segment called “what my coach says” haha!

Winter Racing

I haven’t blogged in a little bit (blame it on school), but I’ve still been running! Here in Michigan, we’ve had a rough winter. We’ve had wind chills as low as -30 and tons of snow. I try to run outside as much as I can, but when the sidewalks aren’t plowed, I don’t like to risk injury. Therefore, the dreadmill becomes my BFF. Unfortunately.

But I did get in 2 winter races, 1 week apart! First was the Super 5k. I ran this race last year and paced Sherri to a PR. We had planned to try and get her another PR, but she’s had some nagging achilles pain so that plan got ditched. Safety and health first! However, I was really looking forward to this race because its fun, very close to my house, and just a nice way to kick off Superbowl Sunday.

….. that is, until we got a bunch of snow the night before. I guess I kind of (stupidly) expected the roads to be plowed. Nope.

Image

walking to the start…. the start area wasn’t too terrible

Image

tons of people at this race!

Right along there, I ran into Jeff who was frantically trying to get up front so not to be behind walkers or slower runners. I immediately went with him, since our paces are usually pretty close (although I was not planning to be speedy at all with the snow. Note to self: I need spikes).

Anyways, the race started right on time and off we went!

Image

part of the course

I am not going to lie. This race was hard. Certain areas of the course had ankle deep snow. The course has a few rolling hills that don’t usually feel bad, but the felt like torture after trudging through the snow. I actually stopped and walked for about a minute- this is something I never do. But it took a lot out of me going through the snow, in addition to rolling my ankles several times. By the time I got to .5 away from the finish line, I just gave it all I could so that I could go inside and warm up (brrr).

After I finished, I waited for Sherri (inside, obvs ;) ) and we got some water. While checking our times, Sherri said something about me placing 3rd in my age group. I don’t know how that happened, because my time (27:18) was not even close to my PR time, but sure enough they called my name out for an award. What a surprise!

Image

With my prize- a Mizuno bag and water bottle (inside)

This race was mentally and physically tough but I was happy to have survived it (and not be too sore the next day!)

Plus, they gave out medals this year :)

Image 

Then, this past weekend I ran the Riverview Winterfest 4 Mile run. I was convinced by a running buddy to try it out, and I thought it was only 30 minutes away…. the weather looked nice for Sunday (25 is nice for us Michiganders right now), so I figured why not. 

EXCEPT we had a bunch of snow the days leading up to the race and Sherri and I found out it was an hour away. Whoops.

We both did the usual “why did we sign up for this race again?” as we started our commute, but we are of the philosophy that you pay- you run :) 

I planned to also take it easy at this race, because I had a feeling the course was going to be like Super5k. 

Image

at the start. I love this guy’s outfit

Image

Guys start

Image

girls start

I had never done a race where they separate the starts by gender, this was interesting. This was definitely a smaller race, maybe 200 or so there? What I LOVED was the announcer walked to the front saying “Ok, 6 minute milers start here, 7 minute milers, here….” and so on. While I realize that larger races just usually do corrals, it was nice that they were cognizant of this. I put myself between the 8 & 9 minute milers, but I really didn’t want to put any pressure on myself, considering the snowy terrain.

Image

at the start, Sherri on the left, me on the right :)

The race started and off we went. This again was a tough race. It was snowing while we were running, and while there wasn’t ankle deep snow, the snowy grounds made footing difficult. There were volunteers out telling us to watch at particularly slippery spots, which was nice. Again, I had to stop for about 30 seconds to get my footing back, but was pretty consistent the whole race. These are the only 2 races I’ve EVER had to walk. Winter racing is not my fav.

I also forgot my headphones, so I had no music… which I usually run without music, but when it’s difficult, music can really make the difference. Still, I just dug deep and thought about how great it would be to finish. And it was :)

I finished in 34:19, over 2 minutes off my PR time for 4 miles. But I was immensely happy with that time considering the terrain and the fact that I walked! I did start calculating how much faster I would’ve been if I hadn’t walked…. oh well! lol. Also, I found out I placed FIRST in my age group!! This is the second time I’ve ever been first in my AG (first was for a 5k, so it’s cool to have it for 2 distances). I was very very surprised….

Image

my AG award

The race had a pancake breakfast (which I didn’t really partake in- I don’t usually get very hungry after races), an awards ceremony and then my favorite part of it all….. a keynote speaker, ELITE runner Dot McMahan!!

Image

 

She talked about the importance of tracking your training, coaching, fueling… just things you can do to be a better runner. It was amazing getting to hear about her training and progress. She is the current US championship titleholder for the 25k! SO so SO amazing.

All in all, a great week of racing…. but I’m ready for spring. Bring it! lol. 

New Years Eve 5k Race Review

Happy New Year, friends! I hope you had a great time celebrating the end of 2013 and welcoming 2014!

I celebrated with friends, but before I had to get one last race in for the year! I decided to run the NYE 5k located at Belle Isle in downtown Detroit. I’ve never ran this race before and signed up for it on a whim. My run buddy Sherri also signed up. The race was much later than any race I’ve ran (at 4pm), but I figured it would be fun nonetheless.

What we didn’t plan on was the weather being 12 degrees and SNOWING while driving to the race. Brrr. What were we thinking?! We both joked about taking a nap instead of driving the 45 minute commute to the race. In the end, being a stubborn runner wore out ;)

We should have worn brighter gloves but we are representing 2013 :)

We should have worn brighter gloves but we are representing 2013 :)

Parking was a bit of a cluster at this race, despite there being volunteers directing people at the park. They had the parking structure where packet pickup was blocked off! We had to circle the entire park to find another volunteer who could radio them to re-open it. Judging by the line of vehicles behind us, we were not the only ones. I was a bit confused by that.

Once we got in the pickup (located at the Belle Isle Casino-no longer in operation), it was fairly quick despite the mass amount of people who were there. I was actually surprised how many people were there! I guess some cooler temps don’t stop the running crazies :)

We used the bathroom quickly (after waiting in a long line because there were only 3 stalls, but the race did have 2 portapotties also), we lined up at the start.

getting ready to run!

getting ready to run!

1555288_10153698159700637_939600559_n

Nate offered to drive us to the race and hold our stuff, but it was colddd! Poor guy!

1525062_10153698159625637_1293752735_n

The race director made a few announcements that I couldn’t really hear and we were off!

1531693_10153698159480637_865584875_n

I had already decided I was going to run this VERY easy (there was ice everywhere- volunteers were helpful in continuing to warn people) so I took quite a few pictures during the race. Even though I personally feel Belle Isle could be a much better course if the city provided the proper resources, the sun starting to set made some gorgeous running scenery!

1526739_10153693976495637_1835870180_n

1544548_10153698159295637_537256758_n

running along the water was cold, but very pretty

The first 3/4 of mile 1 was directly against the wind- brrrr! Luckily we turned a corner and the wind subsided. I actually started to feel very warm during this race! I know, who am I ? It’s crazy to think a little over a year ago I wouldn’t go outside if it was 25 degrees to run and here I am in 12 feeling warm :)

1525618_10153698159170637_2116646977_n

We wound in a big loop, and there was enough room to pass people if needed. One thing that did surprise me was that there was no aid station. I normally don’t stop at the aid stations for a 5k, but since there were a variety of people (some walking etc), I would expect at least 1 aid station. I don’t think I’ve ever done a 5k where there wasn’t one.

Sherri getting her run on :)

Sherri getting her run on :)

1513281_10153698158580637_1963353426_n

As much as I enjoyed not running against the wind, the last mile went right back into the wind. Resistance training at its finest!

Getting close to the finish!

Getting close to the finish!

the skyline was perfect.

the skyline was perfect.

I ended up crossing the finish at 28:19, running 3.17 miles at 8:56 pace. I was pretty happy with how easy that felt despite watching to ice and running into headwind. I got 8th in my age group which isn’t amazing, but I’m happy with it.

Overall this race was a fun way to ring in the new year. I wish it had been warmer (not the race’s fault!), but I had a blast. I would recommend doing this race, but would suggest arriving much earlier so you don’t face parking issues like we did. Also, use the bathroom before. Belle Isle could be such a better route for races if cared for. Either way, can’t go wrong ending the year with a race!

Happy New Year!

Did you do a New Years Eve/Day race? What’s your favorite?

2013 Running & Goals

I, like many, am guilty of not focusing too much on achievements. I like to think ahead constantly. So even when I hit a goal I set for myself, I spend little time relishing in said goal and am already focusing on my next goal.

My husband tells me often that I need to celebrate my accomplishments more, so I decided to start with this post about my 2013 running goals.

This year, I had 5 running goals:

  1. Run a sub 23 5k- (PR was 23 flat).
  2. Run a sub 50 10k- (PR was 51:07).
  3. Run a  sub 2 hour half marathon- (my PR and only half was 2:07:58)
  4. Run a marathon (No previous PR because I had never done one before!)
  5. Run 1000 miles for the year (the year before my goal was 500 and I surpassed that in August 2012)

A lot of goals, huh?

goodrunbham

hi, I’m a goal setting maniac

We started marathon training in January, and a lot of people told me that maybe I set my sights too high for some of my goals. Wanting a PR in every distance might put too much pressure on my marathon training. They were right but more about that later.

I think because the new year was so fresh I had those PR’s on my mind. I set my 5k PR in January at Freeze Your Franny- 22:51. That was also one of the hardest 5k’s of my life, where I had several set backs, so I was really happy that I hit my goal. I also found out I placed 2nd in my age group:

freezeyourfrannymedal

I focused in on marathon training after that and raced little until St. Patricks Day, where I ran the Shamrock & Roll 10k. My picture on the right side of the blog is from that race. Clearly I was having a blast, it was just one of those days where everything felt amazing!. I PR’d at the 10K, my second goal, at 49:09, knocking almost 2 minutes off my previous time!

I really enjoyed running this race with my girls!

I really enjoyed running this race with my girls!

Back to marathon training, and starting to get excited for DC in April, where Sherri and I got picked in the lottery to run the Nike Women’s Half Marathon. We had so much fun in DC! We went to some super cool restaurants

like Serendipity! :)

like Serendipity! :)

We also got to visit my friend Angie, who lives out there and was running the race as well. In fact, we were planning to stay around the same pace so we ran most of the race together. This run was just amazing, it went all through DC and Angie was pointing out all the monuments- it felt almost like a tour vs a race!

just some pictures from the trip

just some pictures from the trip

When we finished I realized I crossed the finish line at 1:51:06, NEARLY SIXTEEN MINUTES faster than my first half marathon, not even 8 months prior! I was a little sore, but I felt good. Little did I know that soreness would turn into an IT band injury… oh well. Goal #3, check.

EXCEPT then I PR’d again in September at the half marathon that I ran for the very first time, clocking in at 1:48:04! I love a good half marathon.

But going back to my injury…. after DC I took like 2 days off and then started trying to run again. I could barely get a mile without a killer pain in the side of my knee. Foolishly, I kept trying to run the next day. I finally consulted some of my other runner peeps and took several days off. Those were the worst days ever. I also visited an orthopedic to get the clear that I could even RUN the marathon (it was in like 3-4 weeks), used anti-inflamatory cream and foam rolled constantly. I also skipped the last 20 miler of our schedule (we had 2), which was  a tough decision to make. I ultimately decided that I ‘d rather be able to run the marathon vs run the 20 and not be able to potentially.

Race day came and  while I had a little pain and took it considerably slower, I was able to finish my very first full marathon.

bshoregirls

after the race with our medals

Although I was disappointed in my time, I was proud of myself for backing off when I needed to and being able to finish! Goal #4, check. :)

After the marathon, I took some time off to make sure I recovered properly. It worked, because I started back running with no pain and my IT band was back to normal, yay! I even hit an unexpected and unplanned goal- to run in my first relay. Our team came in 1st place for our division (co-ed)! I loved getting to experience a relay and would do it again in a heartbeat.

my relay team crossing the finish line together

my relay team crossing the finish line together

Full speed ahead to yet another goal I hadn’t actually set- I ran my first mile race! These races are hard because you have to put in a full effort and while it is only for a few minutes, it’s TOUGH. I ended up being the 4th female overall out of 550+, clocking in at 6:59.

crossing the finish line!

crossing the finish line!

I also inadvertently set the goal of running 3 half marathons in 1 month (september)- ironically the first full fledged month of law school. I like to stay busy I guess! ;)

halfy #1- trail half with my girls!

halfy #1- trail half with my girls!

halfy#2 and my hardest yet, but a PR nonetheless!

halfy#2 and my hardest yet, but a PR nonetheless!

halfy #3 :) loved this little getaway!

halfy #3 :) loved this little getaway!

I LOVED pushing myself to run 3 races in a month and felt great. I clearly have gotten better at making recovery a priority.

My friend Sherri and  I got to be pacers for the first time this year and had an utter blast!

with our signs

with our signs

I ran several other races, placing in the top 3 for my age group and still feeling great. I even ran a 4 mile race for the first time and placed 2nd in my AG, clocking in at 31:59 (and ran a 10 mile race the day before!)

my race buddy and I :)

my race buddy and I :)

And my last goal of 1000 miles? I’ve already surpassed that! #5, check!

This has been an awesome year for running. And while I am mostly glossing over the highlights, trust that there were many mornings of not wanting to get out there, or not even being ABLE to get out there (sniff, IT band, sniff) so it wasn’t all rosy. It was a lot of hard work. Reading this as I’m typing makes me feel so proud that I fought through all of those mental and physical blocks and kept moving. It also shows me that I have yet to meet my full potential. I’m ready to turn it up even higher in 2014- after all, you never know unless you try!

So cheers to 2013…and welcoming 2014 with better recovery, stretching, strength training, running strong and smashing some brand new goals! ;)

What are some of your running highlights for 2013?

What are your running goals for 2014?