Half Marathon… mission accomplished!

image

WE DID IT!!!!! (Check out those awesome shirts my sister made for us!)

I did it!  On Sunday, I ran the 2014 Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon with my sister and it went better than I could have imagined!

Let me rewind a bit to make up for my recent absence on here.  I wanted to post earlier but it is hard to write about your feelings when you don’t know what they are or they change every five seconds. (And yes, I know writing about it can help you figure it out, but it still isn’t easy to do.)
The end of training was decent.  The mid-week runs were iffy.  I would sometimes just do a shorter loop than what was on the plan or sometimes skip them altogether.  I made sure to do the long runs on the weekends.  By the time I did my 10 mile run, I felt really ready for the race.  I was even surprised by how my pace was starting to pick up.  That might be because the end was in sight and that made it easier to push harder.
So race weekend arrived.  I went out to Penn State (where Teresa goes to school) on Thursday and spent two nights.  When she was in class on Friday, she sent me to a store to pick something up that they had for her.  Surprise!  She had t-shirts made for us for the race!  They were black t-shirts with gold glitter lettering and said “We’re only half crazy” on the front and “Team Gio” on the back.  So cute!
We headed into Philly Saturday morning.  The drive in was gorgeous with all the changing leaves.  We went straight to the expo to pick up our race packets.  Once we got our bibs and shirts we wandered around the expo for a bit.  We met our dad at the hotel and went out for dinner.  If you are ever in Philly, I highly recommend Zavino.  The pasta is all made in house and everything is so delicious.  They have a bunch of small plates so we got a meat and cheese taster, some pastas and a few other things. YUM!
After dinner, we hung out at the hotel for the rest of the night.  I laid out all my stuff for the morning and tried to sleep.  I fell asleep quickly but woke up a bunch of times through the night.  My alarm was set for 6 but I was up on my own by 5:30.
Teresa and I got ready and triple quadruple checked that we had everything we needed.  Bibs pinned on and timing tabs attached to our shoes, we stopped at Starbucks before our dad drove us to the starting area.  I got nervous that I hadn’t eaten enough so I had one of the extra gels that I had packed in my bag.  We found the back check, checked our bags and wandered around til we found our corral, all the way in the back.
After a while, the first corral went out.  It took almost half an hour until we finally started.  We set off at a decent pace. I know you aren’t supposed to start too fast but between the weather, flat roads, cheering crowds and exhilaration of passing people, it was easy to go faster than normal.  I saw the 2:30 pace group and told Teresa we should try to stay by them but as we wove through the pack, we wound up ahead of them.
A couple miles in, the course looped back towards the start line.  The first leg was done!  What surprised me was that I was pacing us. I had been worried that Teresa was going to be the one pushing me too hard.  Weaving through people meant that I would cut ahead and hope that she would stick by me!  Every runner for herself when there are that many people around!
After passing the starting area, we were running next to the river.  Teresa heard there was going to be a hill around mile 8.  After mile 7 I noticed a slight incline and asked her if this was it.  She insisted there was a killer hill and this wasn’t it but there was nothing else remotely like a hill the rest of the way so that must have been what her source was referring to.
Every few miles there was a water station. I grabbed 1-2 cups of water and/or Gatorade each time and felt well hydrated the whole way.  I had my first gel about 10 minutes in and then one every 30-45 minutes after that.  I grabbed a salted watermelon Gu at the gel station at mile 8 and had that.  I should have used the last gel I had around mile 10 but didn’t want to slow down to get it so I just kept going towards the end.
I was going strong for almost the entire race but around mile 10 I started to fade and Teresa took the lead.  I was trying to work through my head the best way to tell her that we needed to really slow down.  Approaching the mile 12 mark, I couldn’t believe what I had gotten myself into or how I was going to finish this thing.  And then I hit the mile 12 mark.  1.1 miles left.  A switch went off and I just booked it.  My lungs were getting tight but I ignored it.  I was starting to get a side cramp but I ignored it.  My legs/feet/knees/arms/body was starting to hurt but I ignored it.  The crowds got thicker.  Teresa and I grabbed hands and crossed the finish line!
Our official time was 2:20:55 and I could cry tears of joy looking at how beautiful our negative splits were.  I am so happy with how well it went and so proud of all the hard work we put in to get here. You can tell how addicting running is because as we sat icing our knees in the hotel that night, we were already thinking about which half marathon to do next year and looking up training plans to do in the meantime.
I’m taking this week off to recover, and possibly next week too depending how I feel.  I think I will be ready to run again by Monday except for my one black-and-blue toe.  Now that I’ve run farther I want to start running faster, so I’m going to train for a 5k.  After that, I found a good winter training plan to maintain, a spring training plan to build up to race training and will decide what race to train for/how intense I want to train when I get to that point.  I also want to add more yoga and strength training to my routine.  I say it all the time, but I swear I mean it this time!
As for the rest of my life… I am quite content with how things are going!  I’m still looking to move but I’m not in such a rush as I was a few weeks ago.  I don’t want to let myself settle in CT because it’s the easy thing to do but I also want to make sure I set myself up with opportunities where I know I will be happy.  I had two phone interviews with a certain company that would be so cool to work for.  I didn’t get an in-person-interview but the fact that I got that far was a nice confidence boost!  It was also nice when they asked if I had a location preference between Austin or CA that I could say I could go wherever I wanted!  Just two months ago I wouldn’t have even applied for the job, let alone been able to pick up and go to any location.  I get to be 100% selfish nowadays and it feels FANTASTIC!  I’m going to spend the next week or two coming up with a more solid plan of what I am looking for.
Now for a little gossip… I haven’t spoken to by ex-bf in a few weeks now so this really is just gossip I’ve heard but supposedly they are still seeing each other.  I can’t really let it bother me though when you look at the whole situation (like how much better off I’ve been lately).  So I guess I wish happiness to them?  (Although I can’t imagine how healthy that relationship could be…)
Advertisements

Moving on…

Most social media accounts tend to be a highly edited view into someone’s life, showing all the highlights but rarely the lows.  I want this blog to be a perfectly honest account of my life so I know this post is necessary.  I couldn’t write about it right away because I didn’t want to publish anything that I might later regret.  Anyways, after dating for over six years I broke up with my boyfriend when I found out he cheated on me.

When I found out, I was obviously VERY angry.  To betray someone’s trust like that is just inexcusable.  But aside from the anger, I am actually very excited about what the future has in store for me!  It was like the world opened up to me.  Since we graduated college and were both living at home, I could tell we were growing apart.  I think we realized we have different goals and values and that is what started pushing us apart.  That’s not an excuse for why he did it but I think it’s why I have been able to handle it so well.  I would like to take this time to thank my family and friends for being the most loving and supportive people in the entire world, especially Teresa (the sister running the half marathon with me).

Now that I have had some time to adjust, I’m ready to move on… quite literally.  I’ve been living at home with my parents since I graduated, wanting to move out but thinking I would wait to move out with him.  Now that I have no strings attached I have decided I am going to move to Austin, TX.  From what I have heard, it is an awesome place to live.  My brother has been living there for a year and has told me how much I will love it.  An active, outdoorsy city with no blizzards or polar vortexes.  What more could I ask for?  I’m going to visit at least once and wait until I have a job before I make the official move but I don’t think the Northeast has much more to offer me at this point in time.

So, how has the running been going?

Well, the week before this happened was fantastic!  I stopped at the running store to see what they had to say about nutrition.  I did my long run that Sunday using Gu for the first time and had a really great run (minus the torrential downpour in the middle).

The week after that I didn’t run at all.  I am apparently the opposite of an emotional eater and found it pretty difficult to run while not eating so much.  The next week, I started to get back in a little bit with two shorter runs.

This past week was much better.  I went for 3 decent runs during the week.  On Saturday, I want for a hike and LONG walk with a friend from high school that I hadn’t talked to in years but reached out when she heard about my breakup.  It has been so good catching up with her and I can tell we are definitely going to friends again from here on out!  I tried to get back into the long runs this Sunday but the weirdest thing happened and I don’t know why.  As I started running, my upper legs got so itchy I couldn’t even stand it.  I tried to tell myself it was mind over matter and push through.  After a mile with clenched fists and visible scratches on my legs, I knew I had to turn around and get a Benadryl at home.  Once the benadryl kicked in, the itching stopped.  I was mentally ready to try the run again but it felt like my body was filled with lead so I just napped in front of the TV for the rest of the day.

Thankfully, I went into training knowing that the training plan is really just the ideal plan.  Life gets in the way and you have to adjust.  I’m going to have to put in some serious work in the next few weeks and I’m a little nervous for the half marathon.  In the end though,  I’m doing it for fun and to be able to say I could.  If I can’t run the whole thing this time, who cares?  I can always train for another one!

Bonus:  I got a new phone finally so I can track my runs again and listen to music!!!!

What it is actually like to run with asthma

Since I have asthma, running was difficult when I first started.  I started by using running/walking intervals to slowly build up my endurance.  I know I have to push myself if I’m going to get stronger.  The difficult part is knowing how far I can push myself to keep improving without triggering an asthma attack.  I don’t mind being out of breath every once in a while but I prefer to avoid triggering my asthma.

Regular shortness of breath: If you start working out harder than your fitness level can handle, you are going to get out of breath.  Your body needs you to breath deeper and faster to meet the higher oxygen demands for whatever your activity is.  If you took a break, you would be able to quickly catch your breath.

Asthma attack:  When you have an asthma attack, you may feel like you are short of breath but there is more going on.  During an asthma attack, it actually becomes physically harder to breath.  The bronchioles bringing the air from your mouth to where the oxygen is absorbed become inflamed and thickened and mucus starts building up.  Air gets trapped in the alveoli, which are basically air pockets where oxygen is transferred from the air into the body’s cells. If you take a break from activity during an asthma attack, you won’t be able to quickly catch your breath.  You are going to need a rescue inhaler to relax the smooth muscles of the bronchioles to make it easier to breath.

What the bronchioles look like with and without asthma.  Imagine how much more air you can get through the one on the left compared to the one on the right.

What the bronchioles look like with and without asthma. Imagine how much more air you can get through the one on the left compared to the one on the right.

Having asthma my whole life, I have learned how the sensations of the experiences are different.  I can’t quite put it into words but asthma from allergies feels different to me than asthma from exercising.  Both of those feel different from the point in running where I need to focus on my breathing.  Knowing the subtle differences had been helpful in keeping me safe while I exercise.

While I run, I pay special attention to not push myself over what I like to call “the edge.”  It’s a feeling that I get when I am running harder where I know that if I don’t back off I will have an asthma attack.  I start to get a sense of overall tightness in my chest, sometimes with a more acute feeling.  For me, this usually happens when I sprint or run uphill.  Once I cross over “the edge,” the only thing that will make me breath normal again is my rescue inhaler.

This is probably why I haven’t liked running with anyone yet.  My pace is pretty slow and anyone I have run with (ok, there have only been two people so far) has tried to push me to go faster without understanding the delicate balance I have to maintain.  I would rather run slower and finish than try to run faster and have to stop immediately.

When I first started running, I used interval training to alternate between a steady run and walking.  I gradually increased the running time while decreasing the walking time.  With that base level of fitness, I am now able to go out and just run.  The half marathon training plan I am following doesn’t include intervals for speed work.  I am fine with that now because I think the distance challenge is enough for me.  I am able to go at a steady pace that feels comfortable on my lungs for all of my runs.

In the long run, I know I am going to have to face hills and speed work head on if I want to keep improving my respiratory health.  I might through a few sprints into my easy runs while I keep training.  Once the race is over (and I let myself relax for a while) I am going to switch it up by trying to bring down my 5k time.  As tough as it will be, I think it will be so worth the challenge.

What health challenges do you face while running or exercising?  How do you adjust your workouts around that?

It’s officially official!

I’ve been training for the half marathon for a while now and I was never really going to back out but now I have no choice.  Last night, my sister and I officially registered for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Philly on Sept 21, 2014.  No turning back now!

 

I guess it is really happening!

I guess it is really happening!

And then I went for my running this morning which was 4 miles, a little longer than I am used to during the week.  First off, I got up super early, completely by choice.  It was nice because Teresa is already up that early since she has to leave the house for work so early.  I was awake enough that I could run early than I have.  I also planned a new route that was a real out-and-back, with no loops (a first for me).

It felt like I was flying on this run.  Was it the excitement from registering?  Or was it the fact that the entire first half of the new route was downhill?  When I got to the point where I had to turn around I was a little disappointed.  Was it because I wanted to see if I could run farther or because I didn’t want to run uphill on the way back?  We may never know.  I still felt really great on the way back although I did stop to walk for like a second.  I blame that on the fact that I was changing my music, putting it back onto the three songs I had on repeat the entire time.

My real question:  How is it only Tuesday?

Week 4 of Half Marathon Training

Maybe it’s because I ended on a high note… but this week was so much more enjoyable than last week!

Monday: Nothing

Tuesday: 3.5 mile run, It was insanely humid.  I cramped up and the air felt heavy so it was harder to breath.  I ended up having to walk a good portion of it.  At first, this run felt miserable and I felt like I was nowhere near where I should be for my training.  I was beating myself up for not doing enough.  Then something clicked in my head and I used all of that to motivate me to work even harder.  To make this run feel productive, I threw sprints into the walking whenever I could.  When I got home, I did planks, other ab stuff, squats, lunges, calf raises until I HAD to get ready.

Wednesday: I’ve been a little worked up about following exactly what the training plan says counts as cross training but that has just ended with me skipping it altogether.  Today, I decided I didn’t care anymore and did yoga for the first time in forever.  I found this video of yoga for runners.  It was only 20 minutes long but it felt amazing.  Definitely going to be adding more yoga into the mix.

Thursday: 3.5 mile run (maybe longer?)  I haven’t been running with the tracker on my phone lately since I can only get enough power out of it to provide me with music so I don’t know exactly how far it ended up being.  I did run farther than Tuesday though!  It was much cooler which makes running feel so much better.  I was also able to slow myself down so that I could run the whole thing.  When I got home I was ravenous.  I think I ate enough to count for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  I did a little ab work, squats, lunges, calf raises and then had to get ready to go.

Friday:  This was a rest day, but not running related,  I went out to a fantastic dinner with my boyfriend.  We went to The Spread in South Norwalk (SoNo).  I had the chupacabra to drink which I loved because I love anything with mint and lime in it.  For dinner I had ricotta gnocchi that was melt in my mouth delicious.  For dessert we got the apple fritters and those were heavenly.  If you are ever in the area, I highly suggest you go.  I know I will definitely be going back.  And probably bringing everyone I know.

I was probably in such a hurry to devour this that I didn't notice this was blurry!

I was probably in such a hurry to devour this that I didn’t notice this was blurry!

Mascarpone cheesecake and heavenly apple fritters.

Mascarpone cheesecake and heavenly apple fritters.

Saturday:  Supposed to be cross training but I ended up doing a tiny bit of strength training and calling it a day.

Sunday:  Have you heard about how fabulous this run was?  I think it is becoming even better in my mind as the time passes since I first raved about it here.  A little bunny with a poufy white tail hopped across a dirt road right in front of me.  The only thing to complain about… when I first started, I was stalkerish distance behind a woman who was trying to run with her two dogs.  I could just see her up the road but never got close enough to pass her.  But what bothered me was how she was letting the dogs rule her run.  I could tell she could have been running really fast but the dogs were pulling her all over the place.  They pulled her over both sides of the road, stopped when they wanted, and kept getting their leashes tangled up.  I don’t know how she did it because I would have been so frustrated if I were her!

Four weeks done!  I can’t believe it!  Next week kicks up the mileage a little (half a mile on the regular runs and a mile on the long run).  After today’s run I’m actually feeling excited for it!  Yay!

My most enjoyable long run (ever?)

I think that was the best long run I have ever been on.  It wasn’t because I ran faster or had perfect form or was breathing perfectly.  It was just a completely enjoyable experience.

The first time I ran this distance was on a hot day.  It wasn’t a terrible run but I was a little intimidated by the distance and was pretty tired when I got home.  The second time I ran it, I ran the same route but I ran it with my sister.  She runs faster than me and I think she pushed the pace a little too much for me.  I also carried a water bottle the whole time (cramps).  And with a mile or two left I completely crashed and ended up walking the rest.  Not the greatest way to end.

This time I picked a brand new route.  I started at my house but I went down roads that I have never even driven on before (weird since I have lived in the same house since I was born).  I left my house and went down a road that is part of my usual loop.  At the end of that road, I turned left instead of going right.  Following that road, I crossed into the next town, which is also in the next state.  I ran in two states today!

Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Connecticut anymore.  We must be over the rainbow!

Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Connecticut anymore. We must be over the rainbow!

As I crossed into NY, I hit the roads I’ve never even driven on.  A little further in and the road wasn’t even paved.  It was such a quiet area that a rabbit hopped across the road in front of me!  All the houses looked like old farm houses and it felt so secluded and peaceful.  While I was in that area, only one or two cars drove by.  I will definitely be running around here more regularly.

As I kept running I felt my stomach grumble the tiniest bit.  If I didn’t do anything about it I knew it would mean trouble.  Well, for the first time ever, I brought something along to fuel me up!  I didn’t have time to go pick up a legit sports fuel for running so I brought a fun-sized bag of Skittles.  After that first grumble, I decided it was time to open the bag.  I popped two in my mouth at a time over maybe a mile.  At first I was still on the downhill slide towards feeling crappy for the rest of the run.

But then it started kicking in!!!! The last leg of the loop last week is where I really fell apart.  The last leg of the loop this week (which happened to be the exact same stretch of road) was where I got the oomph to finish strong.  I ran the entire rest of the way home.  I even ran a little faster for that last part!  When I got home, I didn’t feel like I needed to collapse on the couch that instant and stay there for the rest of the day!  With this extra energy I was even able to make sure I stretched properly (for once!).

The other part of this run that made it so enjoyable was that it felt productive.  I didn’t put any pressure on myself to finish within a certain time.  With that mindset, I could go as fast or slow as I wanted with no worries.  Throughout the run I was able to take the time to focus on a couple different things.  I would focus on one thing for a little bit, just run a little, focus on something else, and so on.  I worked on breathing a little and my arms a little.  I noticed myself fall into a slouch as I got tired, so I took the extra focus to correct that.

When I got home, I saw that my pace was slower than usual.  But it really didn’t faze me like it did last week.  Knowing I had made some steps in other areas felt pretty darn good.

How did your long run go this week?  Try anything different on it?

Week 3 of Half Marathon Training

Instead of saying what I should have done this week and how I didn’t do exactly that, I think it’s really only worth saying what I actually did.  Otherwise, I won’t realize how much I actually did and just beat myself up about it!

Monday: Making up for missing the long run on Sunday… I did the big loop plus a little extra so it was almost 3.5 miles.  I got nervous about getting home with enough time before I had to leave otherwise I think I would have gone further.

Tuesday: Pretty much the same thing as Monday.

Wednesday: Nothing… Figured I would rest up so the plantar fasciitis didn’t get worse.  I was also starting to feel sick so it was good to take it easy for that too.

Thursday:  Did the big loop again.  I added a little to the loop again but this time I added it earlier on, in a spot I haven’t run yet.  It was nice having the add-on earlier because it made the rest seem shorter.

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: I ran the 5 mile loop with my sister!  My phone is completely dead at this point so I had no music.  I haven’t gone for a real run with Teresa yet so it was interesting.  She likes to push when going up hill to keep up her momentum but I like to take it easier so I don’t have any asthma.  We were able to stay pretty even for most of it but towards the end I had to back off.  I also didn’t eat enough before the run and had to walk the last mile.  Afterwards, I made sure to stretch really well and now I feel pretty good.  I’m a little nervous for this week coming up as the mileage increases again.

This week I did a good job of not trying to go too fast.  Keeping my pace steadier let me run for longer without walking.  I want to keep that up next week.  I also need to focus on the strength training this week.  If I plan out tonight exactly what I am going to do this week I will be more likely to stick to it!

Another week down, and that much closer!  It wasn’t my best week but I got it done and I’m moving on to the next one.

***Now that I just reread this before posting it, I have to say it is a week worth being proud of.  I think this week was my highest mileage ever and did my longest run ever for the second time.  Negative feeling=gone.

Hindsight it 20/20

When I say it out loud now, walking miles around Boston carrying a backpack and wearing flimsy sandals sounds like a horrible idea.  And yet, it is exactly what I let myself do last weekend.  When my foot was sore the next day, I figured it would be better the next day.  When it was still sore the next day, I figured I should look it up online.

Type “heel pain” into Google and any runner can tell you what will pop up.  I have been fortunate enough to be injury free so far so I didn’t realize what the results would be.  “Plantar fasciitis.”  I knew it was something runners get but I didn’t think I would actually get it.  Everything I read about convinced me that this was my problem.  Luckily it was a mild case, but I still wanted to get ahead of it before it got any worse!

I took ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and pain, iced a little, and massaged a little.  I also put those horrible sandals away for good.  I saw that there were supports you could buy but I was too cheap to spend any money if it was still this minor. 

My mom is a nurse practitioner so usually our complaints are met with an eye roll and “hypochondriac” muttered at us.  This time when I told her that I thought I had plantar fasciitis, she said “sounds about right.”  Comforting… “I think I have something for it!”  Hooray!  She went to a medical conference last year and got free samples of everything you could imagine.  One of those was for plantar fasciitis and she still had it stashed away!

She gave me this plantar fasciitis sleeve (but size small).  I put it on and it felt amazing.  It has different zones of compression and put pressure right at the spot where my heel meets my arch (exactly the spot I wanted pressure).  I wore it the rest of that day, the next day, and one more day after that.  I tried wearing it at night once but I don’t think you are supposed to do that because it got pretty uncomfortable.  Before you know it I was all heeled up! (Ok, that was a bad pun.  Let me try that again… I was all healed up.)

This minor incidence didn’t affect my running at all but it is a good reminder to pay attention to how I treat my precious feet and running body.  I will try to wear more supportive shoes, especially when I will be walking a lot.  This is also a reminder to step up my stretching to ward off any other potential injuries!  Because as easy as it may be to plop down on the couch after a long run, I don’t want to end up writing another one of these about how I should have known to stretch after going on a long run.

Week 2 of Half Marathon Training

Another week completed!

Monday- Stretch and Strength: I did abs and legs for strength training.  For stretching, I found a video online of a guided stretch.  Some of the stretches were good but it didn’t cover everything so I did some more stretching after the video.

Tuesday- 3 mile run: I ran the big loop, nothing special.

Wednesday- 2 mile run or cross train:  This week I went for a swim instead of the run.  We have a pool in our backyard so I didn’t have to go anywhere but it took a while to get the cover off and skim the top to get all the bugs out.  I did a combination of swimming laps and some pool running for 20 minutes.  I was more tired than I expected to be but I also haven’t been swimming much so I guess that makes sense.

Thursday- 3 mile run + strength:  I went for my run in the morning.  When I finished, the distance ended up being exactly 5k.  It was exciting for me that I was able to do a 5k early in the morning as a part of my half marathon training after taking all summer last year to work up to that.  I didn’t leave myself enough time to do strength training that morning so I told myself I would do it later.  I ended up going out that night with my boyfriend and my sister so I never got the strength training in.  Whoops!

Friday- Rest:  It felt awesome to wake up in the morning knowing I have been running for a year, even if I didn’t run this day.  It was a miserably rainy 4th of July and I spent most of it in the car driving up to Boston.

Saturday- cross train: I walked around Boston all day with my sister (the one who will be doing the half marathon with me).  We were carrying our backpacks with us since we were meeting up with our other friends later.  We walked miles and miles and were wearing sandals so by the time we were done we were exhausted.  We just count it as going above and beyond for cross training!

Sunday- 4 mile run: We stayed at our friends’ house Saturday night and were in no mood to get up early for a run so we didn’t.  We all went out and the boat and hung out at the beach all day.  We knew we would get home way too late to get the run in then so we went for a walk on the beach and are counting that as cross training.  I figured I will switch the days around so Wednesday’s cross training actually happened Sunday, the long run happened on Monday, and Monday’s stretch and strength will happen on Wednesday.

To keep us motivated through the weeks to come we have decided to do something race related each week.  This week we are going to officially register and book ourselves a hotel room.  Some of the other weeks we are going to pick out our race day outfits, plan out where we will go out to eat after the race, figure out what family and friends will come cheer us on, etc.  

Any suggestions for what we can add to our list?

My New Favorite Holiday- Happy 4th of July!

Fourth of July weekend is fun for everyone- BBQs, fireworks, lots of sunshine!  This weekend I get to raise a glass to myself.  One year ago today, July 4, 2013, I went for my first run ever. It was slow and involved just as much walking as running, but what a beautiful thing it started!

I trained all summer for my first 5k.  Following a training plan helped make the running habit stick since it encouraged me to work hard no matter how hot it was or what other plans I had.  With the support of my family and wonderful boyfriend, Mike, I finished the 5k without any walking breaks, and faster than I thought I would!

After the race, I let my running slack a bit.  In October I realized I needed a new goal if I was going to keep running so I started training for a 10k.  As it quickly got colder I realized I wasn’t quite ready for outdoor winter running. 

I ran when I could stand it in the cold (not much) and did some strength training when I was stuck inside.  Once the weather started warming up, I started running more and more.  It took a little while to get back into it but once I did I felt better than ever and ready for my next challenge.  

I started a 24-week half marathon training plan.  I followed it for a few weeks but then I was recommended a different plan.  It was shorter and ends perfectly timed for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Philly so I got my sister on board too!

The past year with running has had its ups and downs but I’m so thankful for whatever clicked in my head a year ago.  I love to compare where I am each day to where I was a year before.  A year ago I would never have believed that I would get up early to fit in a 3 mile run, which is actually a short run for the week in my training plan!

Running has also helped my health dramatically.  I used to use asthma as my excuse for why I wasn’t active.  Now that I’m running, I’ve improved my lung function significantly and feel so awesome about it.  I got a sample rescue inhaler last time I went to the allergist that only had 15 uses on it.  8 months later I still have 5 uses left on it!

Looking forward to the year ahead, I have a few goals.  First, I am going to finish training for and then run my first half marathon.  (That’s another one of those things that I can’t believe I’m saying.  I would have laughed before if anyone told me I would ever do that!)  After that I want to actually keep up my running through the fall and winter.  I also want to work on speeding up so I will work on getting a faster 5k.

Happy 4th of July so everyone and a special cheers to all the runners!