Richmond Marathon Recap

Walking up and down the stairs is nearly impossible and my body is just plain exhausted but this past Saturday, on a cold but beautiful morning, I crossed the finish line of my third full marathon. After a series of stress fractures from 2012-2013 I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to complete the 26.2 again. I’m proud to say I’m back in the game.

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Friday afternoon my parents picked me up from my apartment and we began the journey from Gaithersburg to Richmond in rush hour. My dad drove :) Just one of the many reasons I am grateful my parents decided to come along for the weekend.

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We met up with my sister Molly at our hotel right outside of Richmond in Henrico County, VA. My dad’s all about some Richmond and knew where to stay when all the downtown hotels were booked because of the race. Molly drove up from her school, East Carolina, early Friday and stopped by the Race Expo to get our bibs and some Gu since my parents and I figured we’d hit a ton of traffic on the way down. Molly ran her first half marathon like a champ and thoroughly enjoyed herself at her first race expo. I really wish I could have been there with her at the expo but we’ll plan better next time.

Three hours after we left Gaithersburg we finally arrived at our hotel to meet Molly and head to Carrabbas to get our carb loading on.

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Dinner before race night is tricky for me. It’s balance between splurging on carbs without over splurging on carbs. Not an easy task at Carrabbas. I played it safe and ordered grilled chicken and a small side of pasta.

 pre-race meal

Once we got back to the hotel after dinner Molly and I set out all of our race gear, collaborated on our workout playlists, and turned out the lights. Katie, my older sister, snuck in late at night because she had to work but wasn’t about to miss her opportunity to be a spectator (I may have also guilted her into coming)! When I say snuck in, I mean she was an overly energetic chatty Kathy we had to shut-up at 11:30 pm (love you Katie).

Running gear

Our alarm went off around 5:00 am and the nerves  began to kick in. I was happy to have my sisters around to distract me from my insecurities about the race. I had a plain blueberry bagel, banana, and two cups of coffee for breakfast. Molly opted for a half a banana, and an English muffin with peanut butter. Then we all headed to downtown Richmond at the intersection of 8th and West Broad street to start the race. The half marathon started 20 minutes before the full marathon on the opposite side of the street so I got to hang with Molly until she began!

runners

Once the half marathon runners took off I was left to my own devices. I placed myself somewhere between the 3:45 pace and the 3:50 pace groups and waited nervously as the national anthem played and runners flocked in.

When I started running my fears left me and I knew early on it was going to be a good race. My legs felt strong and rested, the weather crisp and my breathing was on point. I made a promise to myself in the first mile to remain at a steady, comfortable pace. I reminded myself to run my own race and not overshoot too early.

Miles 1-12 were comfortable, I was taking it all in, the city, the runners, and the Fall colors at their finest. It wasn’t until around mile 15 I needed to calm the crazy in my head. However, miles 19-21 were by far the toughest for me. There was still a significant amount of the race to conquer, my quads were burning, and I needed to find a way to zone out for the next hour. I kept my thoughts positive, thinking about how grateful I was to be able to run, again, how happy I was to have my family waiting for me at the finish, and how much I wanted the hard cider I would order at brunch. These thoughts got me through and by mile 22 I knew I was at the home stretch and I was going to finish the race. There is always uncertainty with a full marathon and I think anyone who has run one would agree that there comes a point in the race where you know your going to seal the deal and cross the finish. From that point on your mind eases and you let the race happen.

decide you want it

Mile 25 was by far the best. My favorite aspect of the Richmond Marathon was the downhill finish. Once the finish line was in view I was like a child on a rollercoaster flying down. I took off for it. My dad teased me afterward about how I couldn’t hear them cheering because I was so focused on the finish…what can I say? I had a goal. My final time was 3 hours and 53 minutes. I’ll take it :)

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I found my family, freezing, smiling, happy, proud, silly, exhausted. We headed straight for brunch after the race and you can bet I got my cider. Then we napped before hitting downtown Richmond to celebrate. It was amazing, probably one of the best weekends for the books.

Molly

Molly showing off her medal! She finished sub 2 hours like a champ!!

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(because celebrating together is a must )

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(Post-race victory meal)

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(a little less sweaty)

 

Meal and Mental Prep Monday

When my Nike app sang out “20 miles” a mix of relief, joy, and fear consumed me. The relief is obvious, my feet were tired from hearing from my mind, the joy came with the achievement but it’s the fear I want to talk about. Because when powerful leg muscles and strong lungs are in check, you still need to believe in yourself. I do not know if the fear is new or something I forgot because my last marathon was in 2011. All I know is the fear of 26.2 has arrived this time around.

While you are training for a race you keep telling yourself “you’ll get there with training”, but when your last training comes to an end you are left with the need to trust. You need confidence that on race day your feet and more importantly your mind will persevere and carry you through to the finish line. Anyone who has ever run a half marathon or full marathon understands the need to remain mentally strong.

The week before the race is about preparation.

For the mental prep I’ve been looking up mantras, you know the lines you tell yourself over and over to get through. Here’s what I found:

1 running mantra

  • Run the mile you are in!
  • Your legs aren’t giving out, your head is giving up, keep going!
  • It’s never too late to be who you might have been!
  • Breathe through it
  • Find your strong
  • This too shall pass
  • I believe in myself, I believe in my run
  • Sometimes the biggest problem is in your head, you gotta believe!

I’ve also been looking for some music to add to the race day playlist to help pull me through…

1. Ghost- Ella Henderson

2. Blank spaces Taylor Swift

3. In your arms: Nico and Vinz

Finally, I meal prepped. Like really prepped. I don’t want to leave the week before the race up to chance. SO I took a plunge and made six meals, a combination of dinners and lunches to eat throughout the week. I figured the best way to stay on top of my nutrition this week was to have it all planned out before I got rolling.

Meal Prep Monday

 

Proud to be Me

Hello and happy Saturday.

I have a special kind of post for you today that will carry on throughout November. In the spirit of Thanksgiving and being grateful, I am teaming up with women from the Sweat Pink community for a Proud to Be Me Campaign #Proudtobme.

proud to be me

Too often, we beat ourselves up thinking we aren’t enough. We let ideas of being smarter, prettier, richer, thinner, and happier, into our minds and it consumes us. I believe in bettering yourself, but not at the expense of loving yourself.

“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”

– Louise L. Hay

This month is about self–love. It’s about being proud of the person you are because to be grateful and love others we need to first love ourselves. Many of us are too humble. We were taught early to not brag, or talk about our accomplishments. But, a modest mindset masks our achievements. If we don’t give ourselves credit for the amazing things we do we end up focusing on everything we haven’t done yet. It creates dull picture of our lives and impedes on our confidence.

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”

– Mark Twain

So today I’m sharing that I LOVE my courageous personality. I do things, I learn from my mistakes, I come back stronger, and I love that about myself. I don’t do everything right the first time, I am not a perfectionist, but I’m a doer. I’m grateful that I am brave enough to try things without worrying if I can do them perfectly. By taking steps without seeing the full path I create  opportunities, I learn, and I grow.

self love

Each day this month you can find me tweeting, instagraming, and posting messages on the blog and Facebook about reasons I’m proud to be me #Proudtobeme.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/upearlywithamy

Twitter: @abortnick 

Instagram: Upearlywithamy

I won’t be alone, checkout some of the other awesome women playing along:

You can Join the movement too! What do you love about your personality?

You don’t have to write a blog or even post on social media to join. Write in a journal or at the very least make a conscious effort to acknowledge what makes you great :)

 

 

 

Apple Cinnamon Granola

Happy Tuesday friends, one day down and four more to go!

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I don’t know about you but, I’m anxious for the clocks to change this weekend because I’m tired of this dark nonsense in the morning. It is so much harder to get out of bed when the suns not on my schedule #diva. It’s a good thing I had Apple Cinnamon Granola to lure me out of bed this morning because I don’t think I would have gotten out otherwise. But this sweet, crunchy, fruity granola was calling my name so I answered.

Apple Cinnamon Granola

Apple Cinnamon Granola

Ingredients: 

  • 3 medium apples, peeled and sliced
  • 5 cups old fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup crushed pecans
  • 1/2 cup cran-raisins

Directions: 

1. Pre-heat oven to 275 degrees

2. wash, peel, and slice apples into thin slices and lay them out on a baking sheet with wax paper. Bake them for 2 hours to dehydrate them into apple chips.

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Apple chips

3. Mix the rest of the ingredients, except the cran-raisins, together in a bowl until combined.

  • apple ingreidents

4. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet and bake in the oven with the apples at 275 for around 2 hours. Be sure to stir the granola every half hour or so to keep it from burning.

5. When the apples are done take them out and crunch them up!

 

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6. When the granola is done, combine it with the apples and the cran-raisins and voolaaa!!!

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Let the granola cool for around 20 minutes if you can resist. I’ve been known to burn my tongue #impatient. When you’re done you decide who to share it with :) I shared with my momma because she paid for the ingredients and she made me!

 

Running, Eating, Shopping

Hello There!

This weekend is flying by and I’m checking things off my list right and left, I just wish time would slow down until Monday.

Friday night I mustered up all the courage I had inside me and got my hair cut and highlighted at a new salon.   I’ve been getting my cut at the same place since I was 14 (judge me now). There are so many salons around my new apartment so I decided to be a big girl and try something new. I went with a salon called O’Hair after reading great reviews on yelp.  I loved it, the place was trendy, the people were genuinely nice and I even got a tour right when I arrived. My hair dresser, Johanna, did an awesome job. She took the time to listen to my story and asked me all types of questions about my hair and what I wanted it to look like. She got a second opinion from another hairdresser before choosing colors which I appreciated. Oh and it’s a non-tipping salon which is cool but I kinda wanted to tip Johanna in the end!

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My hair looked and smelled so good after Johanna finished with me I felt like I should go out…

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 but nope …I was going to ruin all her hard work with 18 miles of sweat in the morning.

sorry hair

I went home to practice some new recipes and got some good sleep before my morning training run.

new recipes

(coconut energy balls, chicken sausage pesto couscous, and healthy fudge energy bars)

Don’t worry I’ll share them with you once I perfect them :)

When I woke up I had a pretty plain breakfast before the run..

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(whole wheat bagel thin with agave and a little butter and a banana)

Then I headed out to the Capital Crescent Trail. I wanted to hit 20 miles but set my mind to 18 after a rocky start. I was feeling queasy and  insecure the first couple of miles, still shaken from my Baltimore Marathon Half.  I worried it’d be treacherous  but I was wrong. Around mile 7 I found my feet and began to relax into the run. I built my confidence back and even felt like maybe I could do more but I didn’t.

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I wobbled to lunch with two of my best friends Adrienne and Brittany at hip little breakfast/lunch joint called First Watch. They have these ginormous pancakes the size of my face I’ve never indulged in until today.  I went all out with the banana granola pancake and savored every bite. (why else run 18 miles ?)

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After lunch it was time for a much-needed nap. Then a round of shopping so I could get some new clothes to rock with my new hair :)

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What do you eat after a long run?

Impulse Buys: Breaking the Habit

Confession; I’m an impulse buyer. In my job I teach tactics to navigate the grocery store to save time and money. In real life I’ve been wasting time taking 2-3 trips to the grocery store per week sometimes buying foods I don’t need on impulse. This week my goal is to set this unhealthy habit straight, create a grocery list and ban myself from the store the rest of the week. Think I can do it?

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Yea, I’m not so sure about the banning part but I’m going to try. To help me out I’ve already started my list…

grocery list

I recently got motivation to tackle this issue in my life after reading a report from The Center for Science in the Public Interest entitled “Sugar Overload: The Retail Checkout Promotes Obesity”. The report suggests checkout lines encourage unhealthy decisions that contribute to our nation’s obesity problem. It is based on a study done in one city that examined the checkout aisles across a range of store types. While purchases are a personal choice this report shows the industry and our enviroment at large are not helping us out.  Two thirds of our population is overweight or obese, food availability plays a large role in our food choices, and the presence of unhealthy foods near the register increases our likelihood we will buy and consume unnecessary calories.

How many times you grabbed something in the checkout aisle? What if you learned 90% of those items are unhealthy? …Just something to think about! You can overcome an unhealthy manipulative enviroment by making lists, heading to the self checkout, and some serious mental pep talking!

In efforts to abstain from an unnecessary trip to the grocery store I created a new recipe that is genius. I call it: French Onion Kale.

French Onion Kale

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Ingredients:

  • 3 cups kale, chopped and washed
  • 1 15 oz can of Campbell’s French Onion Soup

French onion kale

Directions:

1. Heat stove stop to medium

2. Pour soup into a medium fry pan and stir

3.. Add Kale and saute for 5 minutes!

Enjoy :)

(you could add mozzarella or fresh onions too :))

 

5 Ways to Show Up Every Morning

Sometimes just showing up is tough. We all have those days when we want to pull the covers over our head and beg our dream world to let us back in. I know I do, In fact, I had one of those mornings today. Sure, we’ve all heard the line “if you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life”, but even if you are lucky enough to love your job it doesn’t mean you’re enthusiastic and energetic every damn day of the week. My job is rewarding but some days I’d rather sleep in, drink lattes, and do yoga all day…just saying. But I can’t and neither can most of you so here’s some suggestions to remember when you need to bring your best to a day you’d rather fast forward through.

  1. Exercise in the Morning- Okay, this may sound crazy to some who are struggling to roll out of bed and make it to work but working-out in the morning will give you more energy for the day. It will also give you some time to yourself before you go and give your time to your job. Plus, you may even get to catch the sunrise. IMG_2038
  2. Eat Breakfast- If nothing else gets you out of bed in the morning then let some warm toast with creamy peanut butter and fresh bananas call your name. You will start to look forward to your mornings if you associate them with delicious foods.

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  1. Write down three motivational quotes- Call me lame but I find when I searchPinterest formotivation in the morning I walk out the door feeling more empowered for the day. Whatever you’re working on, confidence, work ethic, dreaming, overcoming loss, find quotes and write them down.
    1. “Optimism is the one quality more associated with success and happiness than any other.” – Brain Tracy
    2. The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. –Amelia Earhart
    3. Eighty percent of success is showing up. –Woody Allen
  1. Play music- Put your favorite artist on Pandora in the morning and see if it doesn’t change your mood. Music has the power to impact our emotions so let it in the morning when you need it the most.

  1. Put on your cutest outfit- You need your best outfit on the days you feel like strutting to work in sweat pants and hoodie. If you feel tired inside don’t show it. If you get up and dress up you’ll feel more confident and set yourself up for a better day.

show up

 

 

Skinny Pumpkin Pecan Bread

My less that ideal Half Marathon performance yesterday encouraged a new intensity in my marathon training. I woke up early this morning and swam laps for the first time in over 6 months. The last time I swam laps it was because injuries eliminated every other form of exercise I could do. I associated the swimming with injury and resented it. Today perfectly healthy, I swam to improve my oxygen carrying capacity and found a new joy in the sport. I  swam 750 yards with the intention to increase my distance with each swim.

laps

After I left the pool it was time to get my Sunday baking in! I haven’t made pumpkin bread all season and it’s about time I whipped some up. If you’re looking for a low-fat, flavorful, seasonal bread read on!

Skinny Pecan Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ¾ cup almond milk
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice

Directions: 

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  • Spray a bread pan with pam
  • mix all ingredients together in a bowl until smooth

Pumpkin Bread Batter

  • Bake for 50-55 minutes
  • Let cool for 25 minutes and enjoy!

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The Baltimore Running Festival Half Marathon Recap

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This morning I struggled through my slowest half marathon to date. I finished in 1:51, 20 minutes slower than my PR, 1:31. I would be lying if I said I was happy with my time but I’d also be lying if I told you I was mad at myself for it. The weather was perfect, I trained past 13 miles (in preparation for the Richmond Marathon Nov 16th), and I had no injuries to slow me down. It was just a bad race. They happen.  Note: When I say it was a bad race I’m talking about my performance, not the event or my overall experience. I have absolutely no complaints about those, thanks to the Bearnarth Sisters, Lauren (ran too) and Paige (our number one driver). The Baltimore Running Festival was well-organized, the expo was easy to navigate, and who doesn’t love Under Armor race shirts? Plus, I had a great time pre and post race running into friends and chatting it up with Lauren and Paige!

Amy and Lauren

(Lauren and I post race…she killed it!)

Paige and Laure

(Paige and Lauren post race…Paige and her boyfriend (not picture) get the fan award)

With that said, I’ve been deconstructing the events that lead up to the race so I don’t make any of the same mistake in Richmond on Nov 16th.

The Food: I tried not to change my eating habits the day before in preparation for the race. I eat a balanced diet and I wasn’t fretting about 13 miles. Next time I will fret.

Friday’s Breakfast: Wouldn’t change it had protein, carbs, and fiber.

breakfast 1

Lunch: Wouldn’t change a thing, a great combination of complex carbs, protein, and healthy fats!

Lunch

 

Dinner: Now this I would change! A huge salad topped with feta and two thin slices of tortilla makes a great dinner most nights of the week but I can do better pre-race. Looking back It was probably too much fiber, too much saturated fat, and too little carbohydrates for an ideal pre-race dinner.

Dinner

Saturday Morning Breakfast: If I could go back, I’d skip the almond butter. I’ve found that the fat slows me down a bit and is better for post race recovery.

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The Sleep: I went to bed at 11:30pm and woke up at 5:00am, clearly not ideal. For Richmond I will be in bed by 10:00pm mark my words. I’m aiming for at least 6 hours!

Training the week before: If I could guess which one aspect of today affected my performance the most it would be the training. Last Sunday I ran a 16-mile training run and never really gave my body time to recover. I ran everyday this week. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, I ran 3-4 miles and did some yoga. On Thursday I ran 6 miles at an intense pace and did some leg work…big mistake. During the race my legs were heavy and fatigued. Learning my lesson, I’ve decided the week before Richmond I’m going to stick to yoga and swimming in the 5 days leading up to the event.

Conclusion: First and for most, I’m grateful to run injury free. Focusing on performance is a gift my health allows. I’m proud of my body for running 13.1 miles at a fast pace even if I have bigger goals.  Some people might get discouraged having a slow half marathon while training for a full one but not me. I’m fired up. I have work to do and I thrive on that. Stay posted for updates on my training for Richmond!

find a remedy

Pumpkin-Spice Protein Smoothie

Pumpkin-Spice Protein Smoothie

It took three cups of coffee and an obnoxious alarm to rip me out of bed at 4:40am yesterday. I needed time to wake up before my 6am personal training appointment. I both dreaded and anticipated the session but the trainer stood me up. Not the best way to start a rainy Tuesday morning. I had two choices, get angry and raise hell with the poor front desk girl or shrug it off and try for a decent workout on my own. I went with the latter. I mean I still made it to the gym at 6am right? Plus, the front desk girl was nice and works at 6am.

kindness

When I got home after a poor excuse for a an arm workout I decided to think happy thoughts like this Pumpkin-Spice Protein Smoothie…

Pumpkin-Spice Protein Smoothie

Ingreidents: 

  • 3 Tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • 1 Tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 3-5 ice cubes
  • 1 cup vanilla almond milk

Directions: Blend, drink, smile. Oh and top with Pumpkin-Spice Granola 

How do you deal with a let down? Better question, How do you deal with a let down at 6am?