Hello Glutes!

We sit too much and our glutes suffer! Don’t let those muscles forget how to fire by adding this glute-centric workout into your routine at least twice a week.

Hello Glutes

Planning to Fail

Look in any health magazine or Google “Workout Plan” and get ready to be bombarded with thousands of training plans for any goal you can dream up. Planning your ideal routine is easy enough to do, however sticking to it is where the true work begins.

You’re human, and life will happen despite your perfect plan of 4 cardio sessions and 2 strength training sessions a week. Your kid will need to stay home from school, a new deadline will pop-up, and although you try your best, you will have a sick day. Since this is inevitable, plan for it. Giving thought and having a game plan for when you have, “the worst week ever!!!”, can be the difference between giving up and reaching your goals.

Earlier we discussed Realities of Your Goals, with the focus of thinking of barriers that get in the way of healthy eating and activity and coming up with a plan to overcome them. Planning to fail takes this a step beyond. You will have that week where you get in 2 of your planned 5 workouts and it’s not going to feel good. Now what? It’s incredibly easy to convince yourself it’s too hard, that you knew you couldn’t do it anyway and throw in the towel.

THIS is when you need a good plan. Come up with a few scenarios that are likely to throw you off course; Travel, sickness, and work/schedule overload are a few big ones. Next write down a comeback day and 2 actions for each scenario. Here’s a few examples:

Scenario 1 – I get sick
Comeback day – The first day I go back to work
Action – 30 minutes low-intensity neighborhood walk OR 30 minutes of yoga

Scenario 2 – I go on vacation
Comeback day – My second day back (arrive home Monday night, I workout Wednesday)
Action – Right where I left off OR At home workout

Scenario 3 – Work overload, I ate out all week
Comeback day – First day I’m home on time
Action – Stock up at grocery or order from Instacart OR Make my favorite simple meal

Scenario 4 – My child is home sick, I can’t get to the gym
Comeback day – Today
Action – Get her/him situated and do a 30 minute at home workout from fitness site OR At home workout DVD/On Demand

It’s important to recognize beforehand that these days/weeks will happen. Expecting to stick perfectly to your plan is unattainable and will not only cause stress but will lead to negative thoughts about your abilities when things don’t go as intended. Here are a few thoughts to ingrain in your mindset that can help in the long run.

-One workout won’t make you fit, missing one won’t make you soft.

-Every healthy choice counts.

-Don’t let one meal dictate the next. Your healthy breakfast does not excuse an unhealthy lunch and an unhealthy lunch does not mean you skip dinner.

-It’s not the workout you missed that matters, it’s what you do next.

-What you do occasionally doesn’t define you.

Happy planning!

Running in the Rain

In my opinion, spring is the most enjoyable time to be a runner. The harsh cold of winter has left, temps are perfectly comfortable and new blooms line the sidewalks. What’s not to love?! However, spring flowers wouldn’t be possible without spring showers.

10612851_10100324009419635_3648897055620298714_nThe good news is rain doesn’t have to keep you on the treadmill. Running – and even racing – in the rain can be a fun experience so long as you dress for it. Here are some tips to keep your next rainy run from getting soggy!

1. Accept that you’re going to get wet.
Once you’re wet you aren’t going to get wetter. Water will find it’s way in no matter how much you paid for your jacket, and because of this, it’s all about the layering.

2. Layer up, but layer light
Dress for as if it’s 10-15 degrees warmer. Over dressing for a rainy run will only weigh you down and extra wet clothes will not keep you warmer. If it’s colder (upper30s-40s) or windy consider a windproof jacket/shell.

Your base layer is the most important here. Above all, do not wear cotton! Cotton will soak up every drop of water, becoming heavy, baggy, and keeping that water on your body. You want something close to the skin and made of wicking material. Once your skin is wet (whether from rain, sweat or both) a good wicking material will pull that moisture away from your body.

If it’s any warmer than upper 50s the rain can feel good and you may find a base tank or tee is all you need. For low 50s consider arm sleeves or a long sleeve wicking top. The key here is you can remove these layers if you warm up. Arm sleeves can be rolled down and a long sleeve top can be tied around the waist.

3. Don’t ignore your feet
Wicking socks are your best friend. Prevent blisters and chaffing on your feet by wearing socks that will pull moisture away and the more mesh your shoes the easier water can escape so you don’t feel you’re running in fish bowls.

4. Vaseline/Body Glide EVERYWHERE
Clothing and wet skin are a recipe for chafing. By wearing tight layers you have a leg up; less fabric, less rubbing. Play it safe by liberally applying your go-to anti-chafing product anywhere your clothes touch. Sports bra line, thighs, bicep/side body and most importantly your feet.

5. Heads up
Wearing a hat or visor will keep you sane. Squinting to keep the rain out or wiping your eyes every 10 steps will get old fast.

6. Start dry
If you’re racing in the rain you’ll likely be standing at the start corral for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour before you actually get to run. Staying warm and dry is a priority and will keep your muscles from tensing up. If you can change socks shortly before the gun goes off, do that. If not, tying bags around your feet is a great option. Wear a trash bag or poncho to the start line. You will not be the only one, trust me!


7. Be visible
If you’re in a race this isn’t a huge concern as the course is likely closed, but if you’re venturing out on your own, wear reflective clothing. People forget how to drive in the rain and you are the least of their concerns. Be aware and consider leaving the music at home. (Sidenote: if you do take music, put your electronics in a plastic baggie).

8. Have fun!
Running in the rain can be a blast and you will instantly feel more badass! Have fun splashing your way through your run, just be sure to dry out your shoes so you can do it again soon.



Derby MiniMarathon 2015

logoThe 2015 Derby MiniMarathon marked my 16th half marathon and my 8th time running this particular race, which was my first half marathon in 2008. I love coming home to Louisville each April to the height of Derby season and doing my favorite half! This year I was not nearly as relaxed as I’ve been in the past because, you see, this year I was shooting for a PR (anything under 1:37:06) and – if the stars aligned – a sub 1:35. This wasn’t a willy-nilly goal. I trained hard (and smart!) the last 3 months using Hal Higdon’s Advanced Half Marathon training plan and learned a lot about myself along the way. I dreaded long tempo runs and the 4 and 5 mile pace runs had me anxious a full day before I ran them, but I learned how to push through discomfort, strengthen my mental muscles and at the end of each daunting challenge I left the treadmill with a sense of pride.

But back to the race! I arrived in Louisville by 9:30 Friday morning for the Saturday race and shortly after, mom and I headed to the Convention Center for the expo. I qualified base on past races for the A corral and upon picking up my bib had my ego boosted by the volunteer, “oh you’re a fast one! You have to be to get into this corral”, I smiled and thanked her, “I just hope I am tomorrow!” I checked out the shirt, deemed it worth running 13.1 miles for, and headed on to find the pacers and the Run The Bluegrass tables. There aren’t pacers for the half – only the full – but the course doesn’t split until nearly 9 miles so I planned to stay with them until that point, but wanted a pacer to assure me that was a smart move. He did! I signed up for the pace group which is completely unnecessary but mentally made what I was shooting for all the more real. Onto the Run The Bluegrass table for my Half Classic sticker that I earned by running Run the Bluegrass last month, and also running the Derby Mini. After that, mom and I headed for the door but not before a quick photo op.


The weather for race day was the topic of discussion for everyone involved in the race. While Friday was picture perfect, Saturday’s forecast was 100% chance of rain with storms coming later in the afternoon. Rain had been obvious since early in the week so at that point I had my head wrapped around the fact I was going to get wet and had read everything I could about the most optimal things to wear. The main saving grace was that it was to be in the low-mid 50s and a little breezy but no real threat from wind gusts. It’s amazing what you find yourself bargaining for, “ok, it can rain but let it be warm!” or, “ok, drizzle is fine but please no downpours!”. Alas, it was out of my hands. No amount of training will control the weather on race day so you just have to roll with it. That night I laid out all my gear and set my alarm for 5:50am.

I woke up and immediately checked the weather on my phone. The birds were chirping so that’s a good sign…right? It was 53 and cloudy. Perfect! Ideally the rain wouldn’t come until after we started running, but I had a trash bag as part of my gear just in case. I also slathered myself in Vaseline to prevent even the idea of chaffing. I drank some water while eating a Clif Mojo bar and mentally prepared for what I was about to attempt. One pre-race pic and we were out the door.


I put my trash-bag on in the car and my nerves started to gear up. I reminded myself how I trained for this with my all so whatever time I got, it wouldn’t diminish my months of hard work. It wouldn’t take away those long runs I enjoyed around Humblot Park or the ones where I ventured out for 11 miles mid-February in the snow and came back smiling. I felt ready to work for it and took a deep breath as dad pulled over to let me out a short walk to the start. But not before mom captured my trashionista self.

trash fashionI wanted to warm up my muscles a little more and jogged to the start corrals, feeling nice and warm in my bag. Sure, I look silly alone but I fit right in after stepping into corral A! I found the pacers and felt crazy lining up behind a sign that said “3:10”, but there were a good amount of pacees doing the mini with the same plan as myself. The wheelchairs, who start 5 minutes before the runners at 7:25, were sent on their way and we all moved up, ready to get going before the rain began. I tossed my trash-bag, the gun went off and I was on my way. The countdown had begun!


Miles 0-5
Before the race even began, I repeated in my head, “5-5-5K, 5-5-5K, 5-5-5K”. Breaking up the race into bits is a tried and true approach for any endurance athlete and I was doing just that by focusing on the first 5 miles and keeping them feeling comfortable (relatively!). Race day magic is a real thing and no matter how many times I experience it, it still surprises me. My worry was that the first 5 miles would feel fast and that isn’t how you want to feel at the start of an endurance race. Amazingly, the first mile and those that followed actually felt comfortable. I kept glancing at my Garmin that first mile thinking maybe we were easing into race pace (7:14), but after being assured by the pacers at the first 2 mile splits that we were doing a bit faster than 7:14s, I allowed myself to relax and enjoy my new found – but hard earned – fitness.

We made a few turns in the first 3 miles before getting to the first course staple I look forward to, the Central High School marching band. It was slightly drizzling which felt great to us runners and it was warm enough out that the band was in full force. I brought my hands over my head, clapping for them and thankful I was still feeling fresh as we passed the 3 mile marker. We headed east towards 4th street where my parents would be spectating and our pacer was nice enough to offer himself as a shield from the breeze (not bad but more noticeable in this direction) saying, “feel free to draft off me if you want!” Keep in mind, he is pacing the full to a 3:10. Wow.

I still felt good but there’s always that voice in the back of your mind saying, “it’ll get hard later on”. I pushed that thought out and reminded myself to “run the mile I’m in”, happy that I would see my parents soon. They had a huge red and white umbrella standing on the sidewalk with a good amount – especially for the weather – of spectators just before the right turn onto 4th. Mom had her camera up to her face as I waved, blew a kiss, and gave two thumbs up before returning my focus to keeping my pacers close. Sidenote: after the race I found out neither mom OR dad saw me at mile 4! Mom was testing out where she wanted the camera zoomed while trying to see which pacer was going by! They stayed until they saw someone doing cartwheels down the street and knew the group they were watching was too slow for what I was aiming for. Oh well, they unknowingly helped pump me up since I completely thought they saw me! 1 more mile and my first section was done. We headed south on 4th and I focused on staying steady and relaxed and soon enough we were passing mile 5, right on pace.

Mile 1-7:11
Mile 2-7:00
Mile 3-7:11
Mile 4-7:12
Mile 5 -7:13

Miles 5-10
Running through Old Louisville is beautiful rain or shine and this day was no different. We rounded Central Park and I knew a boost lay ahead from the radio station always positioned at the turn back on 4th and I waved both arms overhead when prompted, “wave your hands if you’re feeling good!” 6 miles in and while my legs were starting to notice their speed, it came in very short realizations that didn’t concern me. Plus, it wasn’t raining harder. With each mile I thought, “if it starts coming down now, I only have X miles left. That’s not too bad”. My other dominating thought at this point in the race was that soon it would start to feel tough. This pace felt doable, but at 6 miles it should still feel that way. I didn’t want it to feel like hard work, or the need to brush off my motivational quotes, until I left the pacers. “Don’t even think about pushing anything until 10, maybe 11”, I had decided this before the race and kept it in mind.

At 7 miles we were nearing the pinnacle of the race, Churchill Downs, and there was still a good amount of race to be run. It started to feel like more of an effort to keep the pacers close by as we approached the front gate. Not hard, but it didn’t feel like we were going too slow like earlier. “It’s OK, just focus on staying with them through the track”. Heading into Churchill Downs lifted my spirits and I couldn’t help but smile as we made our way to the tunnel and enjoyed a “WhOoOoOOo!” as we ran under the track, leading us onto the infield path.

I looked around and distracted myself with thought of Derby parties and how strong the horses who run this track are. I briefly worried about pacing myself after the next mile, would I be able to push it? Would the mental energy of it all become too cumbersome? I reminded myself how all of my training was done for that exact purpose and that I was strong enough and tough enough. No need to worry about it feeling too tough until it actually felt really tough. And with that, we exited the track and soon enough I was making a left on 3rd as the marathoners and my pacers made a right towards the park.

This was the part I saved my mental energy and resolves for. It was allowed to get tough now. I passed mile 9 and smiled when my Garmin flashed 7:12. Another few precious seconds in the bank, and the assurance that I could do this whole pacing thing. I was nearing the end of the second section (“5-5-5K”) and I focused on staying with the runners just ahead of me. No need to push it now, just stay steady and get to the next mile marker. I saw the 10th mile marker and mentally checked off another section. 5K to go!

Mile 6-7:14
Mile 7-7:13
Mile 8-7:07
Mile 9-7:12
Mile 10-7:07

Miles 10-13.1
Mile 9 made itself known and after passing the 10 mile marker I started pulling out those motivational quotes and thoughts that got me through tough training runs. “Stay strong, stay steady”, I whispered to myself, not caring if others around me heard. I’ve been motivated by others’ words of wisdom so who knows, I may be helping someone else. Either way, these thoughts helped keep me from doubting myself on my way to mile 11 and through the toughest part of the race. I had the elapsed running time and pace on my Garmin display and noted I had under 25 minutes until I’d be done. Soon enough I had under 20 minutes and my confidence grew. I had banked a few seconds in the past couple miles and knowing that if my next few miles were a bit over 7:14 I could still beat my ultimate goal made me relax. “Focus on this mile”, I thought, and soon enough I saw mile 11 up ahead. My parents are always after the last water stop just past 11.5 and knowing I’d see them in a few minutes and from there have under 1.5 miles made me so happy. I was working hard but this goal was doable. Passing mile 11 I realized that as long as I didn’t do anything stupid like try to sprint from there, this crazy goal was attainable!


Photo Credit: Louisville Pure Tap Facebook Page

We neared the last water stop just outside Louisville Pure Tap and I mustered the energy to pump my arms at the mascot and received a welcomed high five for my efforts. I was so close to my spectators I heard my mom’s whistle before quickly spotting them and went crazy, I was so happy to be at that point of the race! I waved and gave a thumbs up yelling, “I’ll see you in 7 minutes!”. Mom captured my excitement perfectly.

Mile 11 strong

mile 11 profile

I sped up a just a bit once mile marker 12 came and went and as we passed through the Convention Center I thought of how nervous about this race I had been the last time I was there for the expo not 24 hours ago. A girl I had been near the entire race was to my left and we stayed at the exact same pace but both pushing each other ever so slightly for at least a quarter mile through the turn onto Main Street. I was happy she was there and although we never acknowledged each other, it was apparent we were helping one another keep fighting. I edged just ahead of her for the final few blocks of Main Street and hoped with everything I had the final left turn would be in the next block. This part always seems longer than I expect and I repeated to myself, “don’t slow down because you don’t want to work hard today”. I pushed ahead seeing a steady 6:45 as I made that final turn and the finish line came into sight!

The slight downhill grade was heaven for my legs and I pushed with all I had, raising my hands up as I heard my name called over the loudspeakers. I took in the moment, smiling widely as I crossed the finish line in just under 1:34:00 (officially 1:33:49)! I received my medal from a young – probably 8-year old – volunteer and turned to see my fellow pace pusher getting hers. I told her I was glad she was there that last mile and how it helped push me to keep with her. She smiled and said she was doing the same with me and PRd by 9 minutes! We high fived and congratulated each other before heading for the post-race refreshments. I smiled the entire way to the Half Classic tent where I was to meet mom, exuding pride as I looked at my Garmin. I got my Half Classic medal and mom was there to capture my post-race euphoria.

Mile 11-7:14
Mile 12-7:08
Mile 13-7:12
Finish Time-1:33:49

Half Classic finishI saw a sign that said “Swing for a PR” and told her I wanted my picture in front of it and as we approached it I realized it was a gong you could hit! It’s truly the little things that make a race awesome.

mini 4 25 2015 (10) You can’t tell but I was a bit over ambitious. It was REALLY loud.

PR gong

Dad had already gotten the car and at that point the rain started to become rather steady, I had JUST beaten it! We walked a few blocks to meet him and I recounted my adventure. I felt the work of the last few months leave my mind and relished my accomplishment. Every training run was worth this feeling!

finish close up


The SWAG isn’t too shabby either
Shirt and Medals

Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry Over Spaghetti Squash

Stir-fry is one of those great base recipes that allow you to modify to whatever you have on hand. Typically served over rice or thin pasta, I had a spaghetti squash on hand and used that, making our dinner have even more veggies! Depending on how saucy you like your stir-fry, you can add more soy sauce (get the low-sodium kind if possible) and even add a pinch of flour to thicken it as it simmers. I used fresh red pepper and broccoli but this is a great dish to use frozen veggies in.

Teriyaki Chicken stir fry over spaghetti squash

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Realities of Your Goals

Starting a new habit is one thing, but changing an existing habit is a whole new game, and not one that is easy to win. Taking time to sit and truly think about not only WHAT you want to change but WHY, writing it down and briefly outlining a plan of action will give you a solid foundation and better chance of success.

In the worksheet below you will find the tools needed to create your own personalized plan, and here is how you can ensure it will be practical and useful:

Big Picture

  • First, dissect what your “big picture” goal is. Losing 5 pounds is a smaller goal of a big picture goal of – perhaps – having healthier everyday habits, eating cleaner, or leading an active lifestyle.
  • The “why” goes deeper than simply, “to look better”, or “to be a runner”. Imagine yourself living in your big picture world and ask yourself how it will make your life more enjoyable. Maybe your big picture goal is to lead an active lifestyle, so your “why” could be because you want to keep up with your kids or go on vacations with your spouse that require a lot of activity (walking, hiking, swimming, etc).
  • The “how” is your general goal(s). If eating more cleanly is your big picture goal, perhaps your “how” consists of eating out less, cooking more and/or reading food labels.

Goal Actions

  • Being specific in what habits you want to change will give you focus and help you from getting overwhelmed. You don’t need to have 3, maybe 1 goal is a good place for you to start and once you are comfortable with that change, you can add another! Whether you have 1 or 3 goals, they should all be relatively small and tangible. Instead of “I will cook more”, make your goal, “I will cook dinner 4 nights a week”, or “I will bring my lunch to work 4 days a week”. If you never cook at home, make it 1-2 days and go from there. These goals must be feasible.
  • If your goal is to cook 4 nights a week, the “by doing” section could be that on the weekends you will plan out which meals you will make that week, and grocery shop for everything before Monday. If your goal is to run 4 times a week, your “by doing” could be to join a local run group or get 2 runs in during the week and 2 over the weekend.

Barriers & Plan

  • Life happens. Stress happens. Your kids get sick, you get sick, you take on a more demanding job or your in-laws come stay with you. For all these occasions you need a back up plan. Picture your day-to-day and something that is most likely to get in the way of your goal action, and come up with a plan/action to combat it. This way, when you’re stressed mentally, stressed for time, or your first line of defense isn’t plausibly, you already have a go-to action without having to think of it.
  • Your “if” may be “if I get home too late to get dinner ready”, a good “then” could be, “I will order from one of these healthy take out places”. If this is the case, when you fill out this worksheet spend a little time looking through local delivery places and circling or bookmarking 3-4 healthy options from a few of them. This way all you have to do is pick from a list of things you’ve already deemed a healthy option instead of calling for pizza or getting fast food.
  • Another example; if your goal is to workout at your local gym 3 days a week but you’re stuck at home with a sick child, your back up plan could be to do an at-home workout DVD or printed out bodyweight circuit found in the workouts tab here or on another free fitness site.

Health Coaching Goals WorksheetHaving a defined goal and plan of action clearly laid out is empowering! Print yours out and place it somewhere you will see it easily and you may find your willpower increases by seeing your big picture goal so often. By doing the leg work when you aren’t stressed or pressed for time, the more willpower and resources you will have when you find yourself tested.

If you would like personalized guidance in creating and implementing your plan with the support of a certified professional along the way, my 4-week Kickstarter Health Coaching program is for you! Shoot me an email and let’s chat about your goals!


Bodyweight 40 Minute Workout: Legs, Cardio and Core

Clear some space and show your legs some love while getting your heart pumping with this do-anywhere bodyweight workout! Perform each exercise for 1 minute (:30 seconds a side for single side exercises), going through each set 3 times total.

Legs, Cardio and Core

For more at-home workouts check out my e-book Strongher in :30, it’s full of bodyweight strength training and cardio workouts you can do in your home in under 30 minutes! Click here for the deets!

Run the Bluegrass 2015 Race Report

logoYesterday I ran my second Run the Bluegrass half in Lexington, Kentucky and was treated to drastically different weather from 2014’s race. So many things were in our favor this year; UL secured their spot in the Elite 8 (opposed to losing to UK), mom was feeling 100% (as opposed to running a fever and throwing up), I only had 13.1 to do (as opposed to running 4 miles to the start to get in 17 miles as part of marathon training), and the weather – oh, the weather! – was cold but sunny and what I would call a calm wind. Things were looking up!

This race has exploded and will only get bigger after being named in Runner’s World as “one of America’s 20 stand-out, must-do half-marathons”. I signed up for 2015 within a week of completing the 2014 race and have been looking forward to it ever since. Of course, when I describe last years’ weather I am often met by bewildered looks as to why in the hell I would voluntarily put up money to do it again. All I can say is; Runner logic. The weather was so bad, we’re owed a good year. I gambled and won!

The race has a leisurely start time of 9am which allowed us to sleep at home (in Louisville), get up and on the road at 7am, arriving in Lexington about 45 minutes before race time. I’m very hesitant to complain after last years’ weather attack, but the fact is it was 21 degrees (colder than Chicago for those wondering), and I was not about to stand at the start line any longer than necessary so we pulled to the side of the road and sat until 8:40. I put my hand-warmers between my two pair of gloves, took a deep breath and exited the car, with a plan to – like last year – see my adoring fans at mile 8. I jogged onto the grounds of Keeneland and headed towards the music. We had just over 10 minutes to the start and everyone was moving in some way to stay warm, although the sunshine helped so much, it’s hard to stand still with the mix of pre-run anxiety and freezing temps. Soon enough the Keeneland bugler stepped up to play My Old Kentucky Home followed by the Call To The Post (for those who are not from Kentucky, this is it). We shuffled up to the line and our journey began!

Personally, I was treating this run like any of my Saturday long runs. My goal race is the Derby Festival MiniMarathon next month (a goal I made long after registering for this one), but as luck would have it, my training plan called for a 1:45 run this particular Saturday. I decided to not run with my Garmin and go by feel, figuring I would most likely take closer to 2 hours due to the (Godforsaken) hills. I reminded myself many times to not get caught up in the race since I have 4 more weeks of training and I’m going to need these quads and hamstrings to get back to work.

They aren’t exaggerating when they call this race “America’s Prettiest Half Marathon”. The course winds it’s way through a number of Lexington’s many horse farms so the entire course your eyes are feasting on open, rolling, fence lined hills with horses scattered about grazing and enjoying the morning. There are a few railroad tracks and creeks to cross, just enough to make sure you get the full Kentucky scenic experience.

course mapThis map looks innocent enough, and standing at the start it may seem that way, however once you hit the first mile marker you’ve climbed 2 decent hills and know better. I did a few hill workouts early in my training for the mini but unless you run these hills regularly – and even then – there is nothing to truly prepare you for this course.

Elevation+ChartAfter passing the second mile marker I felt I had my head in the game. While you’re on the hills you feel there’s no way you can do umpteen more miles of hills, but on the downhills and flats your mojo comes (mostly) back and your resolve strengthens. One music/hydration station and steep hill later the feeling in my toes were back and I passed the 3 mile sign. Anytime I needed a distraction I looked over both shoulders at the vastness of it all and smiled. What a lovely day for a run!

We made our way through the second hydration station and I had a flashback to the previous year and a hill that stuck in my head. As soon as we turned left I saw it. “Just keep steady”, I thought, and focused on the runners around me. There was no talking up this hill. Not only was it steep, it seemed to keep getting longer. I dug in, focused on my breathing and reminded myself that I won’t encounter this at the Mini. As soon as the road leveled out the chatter picked up and I felt we all got through it together.

We had single digit miles to go and I was feeling good. The sun was shining, I had unzipped my jacket’s armpit vents and began fishing the hand-warmers out of my increasingly sweaty gloves. Once that task was done and we closed in on the 6 mile marker I felt it was time for my chocolate Clif Shot Gel. After taking a right just past the 3rd hydration station we began another ascent and I decided I’d wait to crest the hill before attempting to open and ingest my gel. It’s a good thing because this one took my full concentration. At one point I thought we were almost to the top, but no, it kept slowly gaining! I recovered my breathing and tore into the gel, nearly having to chew it as the temperature made it very thick. Normally I eat half, run a few more miles and have the other half. The rolling hills over the next 2 miles inadvertently changed that strategy. I took to eating little bits when I found I could breathe in between the hill attacks. I swear I remembered this stretch being relatively flat but (as you can see above) it is not. Still, the straightaway provided beautiful sweeping views to either side and they captured it through their aerial photographer:

aerial shotI mean, COME ON!!

Just before the race went off I got a text from mom saying there was a blockade at the road to get to mile 8 where they spectated from last year, so I wasn’t exactly sure where they’d be on the course. There aren’t a ton of spectating spots the way the course is laid out, plus mom had a red pom-pom (go UL!) and a race horse on a stick so they were set to stand out. Soon after the 7 mile marker I spotted a red pom-pom to the left of the course! I clenched the gel packet in my teeth, took off my left mitten, extracted my base layer glove, replaced the mitten and started on the right hand. It was a race against time to get these gloves off so I could toss them to dad. I got everything situated, waved my hand high, tossed him my gloves and yelled, “see you soon!”

I think of mile 8 as a section divider of the course. There’s a hydration station and music and it’s where the course veers right heading towards Keeneland (we’d have to make a pretty big loop to get to the finish but that’s not important right now), so I felt a surge of renewed spirit as I made a sharp right. I immediately began mentally preparing for the hill at mile 9. Not a lot of things surpass the memory of the weather last year but mile 9 is one of those things. It’s steep and longer than it has a right to be at that point of the course. I remember drummers near the top of it which helped and as soon as I heard them I thought, “here we go”. I kept my eyes on the road just in front of my feet and focused fully on my breathing. I nodded at the drummers as we made a right and up the final and steepest part of the hill. I COULD ACTUALLY FEEL MY GLUTES BURNING. There’s a very brief downhill then it’s right back up another short – but just as steep – hill.

The worst was over! I knew there were more hills but nothing like the one’s we just conquered. We passed (another) barn to the left that I distinctly remembered from the year before because of the pretty star painted on the side of it. It was this point (last year) the rain started really coming down and the temps started dropping and as the sun shone down and we made a sharp left past another hydration station with mile 10 coming into view, I looked around me and felt grateful for the amazing weather.

Just before mile 11 was a solid hill but with under 5K to go I knew I had this. The rest of the race is relatively flat. Well, not so much flat, but no glute-burning-lung-busting climbs. We met up with the 7-mile racers who were walking and many were stopping to take photos of the horses, which would be more tempting if I weren’t so close to the finish. The amount of spectators increased the last 1.5 miles since you could walk there from the finish area and their cheers and signs helped break up that last mile. This whole time I had no idea what my pace was since there were no mile splits and I went sans Garmin, I was just hoping to be under 2 hours and at least a 9min/mi average. As the finish line came into view I saw the 1:45 pace sign (the fastest pace group) for the first time and was amazed! The finish line was packed with spectators, you could hear the band playing and the announcer saying, “just over 1:45, awesome job!”. I crossed the line in 1:46:01, thanked the volunteer for my medal and happily took my snack bag and chocolate milk. My 15th half marathon on the books!

Finish time Splits
Apparently I have a pretty spot-on internal pacer!

I found a spot in the sun to call mom and decided to meet her at the nearby Kentucky Bourbon Ale inflatable that just so happens to make an awesome backdrop.

Finish pic

Very happy with my time and my ability to resist tearing down the hills since I still have another month of training for the Mini! This race really is an experience and is so well organized I’m sure it will double in size shortly. The medal is hugely awesome and the race shirt is the softest long sleeve hoodie I’ve ever felt! If you’re looking for a spring race and want a challenging but beautiful course this one is for you!

Shirt and medal

It All Starts With a Plan!

This is my most used quote from Friends – and if you’re a Friends fan you know I have a lot to choose from! We’ve gone over setting SMART goalsbut having a goal with no plan is not a recipe for success. Luckily your plan doesn’t have to be insanely detailed or tracked using 5 different forms of technology. Personally, I feel a basic plan that you can print out and physically check off leads to a higher rate of adherence/consistency.

To help my clients start exercise tracking I created a simple printout for them to put in a highly visible place (think refrigerator or bathroom mirror) that allows for as much or little detail as they need for their current goals. For those who are exercising regularly for the first time or after a long break, their goal may be simply getting in a workout, and could read, “4 cardio sessions and 2 strength training sessions”. For someone trying to up their intensity it may read, “2 25-minute HIIT cardio, 2 60-minute steady state cardio, 2 strength”.

For each week you can fill in what works best for you each day that particular week. Maybe most Monday’s you’re out of the office at 5 and can dedicate an hour to the gym, but one week you have a late meeting and will struggle getting to the gym so that week you plan for a 20-minute bodyweight strength circuit at home. Don’t hesitate to write in rest days, they are just as critical to your success as your time spent at the gym!

There is a space to write a weekly and monthly reward, if you check off all the boxes the reward is yours! There’s one caveat; do not reward yourself with food, you are not a dog! Instead use things like a massage, new fitness gadget, workout clothes, movie night or new book. Having a tangible reward outside of your physical goal (that won’t negate all your hard work) can provide the extra motivation you need on days you don’t feel like working out. Please, steal my log and happy tracking!

Exercise Goal Log

Workplace Wellness

Getting and staying fit and healthy with an office job takes planning. Between a commute, shifting schedules and travel, it’s tough to be as active as you’d like and eat healthfully. Luckily, there are inexpensive and feasible ways to find balance between your hectic life and the healthy life you strive for!

Here are some general exercise guidelines (no need to join and expensive gym or spend hours a day working out) plus a few ideas for the frequent traveler.

Get Fit at Home or Traveling

  • Bodyweight exercises for resistance training
  • Cardio is anything that gets your heart rate elevated, aim for a variety of 50%-90% of your maximum heart rate. A few ideas include:
    • Jumping Jacks
    • Burpees
    • Mountain Climbers
    • Stairs
    • Jump Lunges and Jump Squats
  • Resistance Bands (light and small, perfect for travel)
  • Workout DVDs – Collagevideo.com

ACSM General Guidelines

Resistance Training
2-3 times per week
Hit each major muscle group with 2-4 sets with variety of exercises and equipment
8-12 repetitions per exercise, the last 2 should be difficult but possible to keep form

150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise, can consist of:

  • 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity 5X/week
  • 20-60 minutes of vigorous-intensity 3X/week
  • Combination of both

This can be done in one continuous session or broken up in >10 minute bouts

Gradual progression of time and intensity reduce risk of injury and increase adherence

Healthy eating on the go and in the office doesn’t mean hours in the kitchen, additional appliances or expensive ingredients. Here are a few ideas:

Breakfast On-The-Go

  • Whole wheat English muffin with low fat cheese spread and honey
  • Whole wheat tortilla with natural peanut butter wrapped around a banana
  • Low fat yogurt with fruit and walnuts
  • Cottage cheese with pear and honey
  • Low-sugar instant oatmeal, add nuts or fruit
  • Apple with peanut butter and side of yogurt
  • Whole wheat pita stuffed with avocado, sliced hard-boiled egg and tomato
  • Hard boiled eggs with string cheese and banana
  • Homemade smoothie (ice, low fat milk or yogurt and any fruit; add peanut butter or protein powder for more boost)
  • Protein bar (like LARABAR, ThinkThink or Kind Bar) with string cheese and/or banana

Office Snacks

  • Hummus and carrots or celery
  • Deli turkey wraps with spinach and cheese
  • Cottage cheese with ground pepper and sliced tomatoes
  • Apple slices and almond butter
  • String cheese and almonds
  • Chocolate milk
  • Whole wheat toast with ricotta and avocado

To print out these tips click here: Guidelines and Home/Travel Tips and Breakfast and Snacks for Work