Hershey Half Marathon Results!

Let me start off by saying that the Hershey Half is one of my favorite races of the year. I think Hershey has a lot of great things going for them, and being able to support the Children’s Miracle Network is a major win.

The course is challenging with its share of hills and twists and turns, but it’s not soul crushing like some other races I’ve entered. The venue, packet pickup, and attractions- all good. Like I said, it’s one of my favorite races all around.

However, my only complaint (rather suggestion) is that they:
A. Have the runners sign up in waves based on pace
B. Assign corrals, and Include pacers

To clarify, at the very beginning of the race, they tell everyone to line up based on their pace – but no clear direction is given, everyone just crams to the front as best as they can.  Having corrals will ensure the fastest runners are in the front, and progressively slower runners will make up the rest of the pack.  During the start there was a mad dash or confusion as I passed people by and people passed me by.  Corrals would certain help with congestion and make it safer than having runners cut you off in a tightly packed herd. Also during the race, pacers go a long way in keeping the crowds moving… and purely for selfish reasons I do better when I can spot pacers, it helps me regulate my speed.

I realize pacers and corrals carry their own logistics, but the Hershey Half is a seasoned race where the added extra steps would go a long way and I’m sure the event organizers could handle the change.

Anyway this year’s race went rather well – I felt good about my training, my nutrition, and my overall plan of attack for the 13.1 miles.

Training is what it is, my goal of running 100 miles a month really helped me put mileage on my shoes and prepared me physically for the endurance needed to succeed.  Despite whatever weird pain it is that I have in my shin, I was able to maintain a fairly stable pace throughout the entire race.

Nutrition is clutch, leading up to race day and during the race, fueling can make or break your success. I made sure to eat balanced meals the entire week before the race, and took extra care to not over indulge.  I drank plenty of water on a daily basis to stay properly hydrated and the day of the race I made sure to maintain my hydration levels.  I also decided to use Tailwind Nutrition’s Endurance Fuel over the course of the race to help sustain my energy levels. Fueling on the move can be a pain, and I didn’t want to have to mess with gels or jelly beans during the race, so I made the decision to go with Tailwind.  Spoiler: It was an excellent move.

Having a Plan of Attack is always a good idea.  Since I’m pretty horrible at knowing how far I can push myself, I decided to pick a comfortable pace and just maintain it throughout the race.  I know I can run 8:30 min/miles for 4-5 miles, but was concerned at 13 miles if I would crash and burn after I passed my safe zone.  So, I decided to pick a safer pace and I know I could maintain with easy effort.  I settled on a 9:30 min/mile pace, knowing that I could always increase my speed near the end as long as I had the energy.

The plan paid off, it was painful at first getting passed left and right, but my patience to maintain my pace rewarded me in the end.  In the beginning I didn’t mind getting passed by… but after mile 9 came and went and I was still getting passed, I started to doubt my pace of choice.  It wasn’t until mile 11 that I noticed I was gaining ground and passing a lot of the people that had initially passed me.  I ended up really picking up ground on mile 12 and just felt unstoppable.  I entered the stadium with blazing speed at a 7:45 min/mile pace and hurried past others like they were standing still – the crazy thing was, by the end, I still felt like I could have kept running.

Well, thanks for sticking around to the end:
2016 finish time was 2:14:00
2017 finish time was 2:13:51
2018 finish time was 2:01:57

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All About the Food! Plant-based!

Physical fitness is a mental and physical game – but let’s not neglect nutrition! After all, it’s all about the food! This week I’m sharing the past three top Plant-based meals we’ve had that I just can’t get enough! Let’s balance this out with my weekly new favorite Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

Let’s kick it off with Breakfast! My favorite recent plant-based breakfast has to be: Banana Bread Pancakes These bad boys were filling and so delicious, especially topped with the crumbled nuts and maple syrup!  We paired our pancakes with fresh fruits and some savory peppery potatoes!

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Lunchtime doesn’t have to be heavy, so soups are a classic go-to for us.  This Lentil Soup recipe we tried was hearty and downright awesome!  Paired with some freshly baked bread, this meal is sure to satisfy and will fill you up but not weigh you down.

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Dinner time calls for all the carbs!  That’s why we love this Cauliflower Bolognese and matching salad!  Nothing rounds the day out like some whole grain pasta, covered with bolognese.

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Make sure you check out Beyond 24 Days for the most up to date recipes and meal ideas!

Podcast Episode 21 – Return of the Cheese

It’s all about the food! Seriously, food is life so we talk about it all the time.  Join us in Episode 21 of the Beyond 24 Days Podcast – Cheese is back and ruined EVERYTHING! Okay not everything, but you get the picture.

Join us in catching up from the last 3 months of being away from podcasting. We talk about how easy it is to fall off the wagon, dining smart while traveling, and of course (my favorite) running and race recaps!

The things we learn when we get older…

Strength training and stretching has been a long forgotten art throughout my running career – until recently.  These areas of exercise and fitness were two pages I would gloss over when working on my running program.  The thought of going to the gym and lifting weights created a rise in my anxiety levels, to the point where I would just convince myself running was all I needed.

Youth, the springtime of life, where running alone is all you need to stay in shape.  When I was 16 years old I started to come out of my shell and wanted to do more than just ride my bike – so I took an interest in surfing.  I was never any good at it, but would faithfully tag along with a bunch of kids from school and eventually got connected with a local surfboard maker.  I actually took the time and shaped my own surfboard, bought a wetsuit, and just like all my other hobbies found something else – running.

I would run 5-6 miles a night, averaging around 8-minute miles on a treadmill in my parent’s unfinished and dark basement.  It was 45-50 mins where I would shut off my mind and just run.  I had managed to drop weight and started to look somewhat athletic.  I could rinse and repeat this practice daily.  In fact, I kept this practice up until the treadmill eventually couldn’t handle the use and died.  It’s a sad story, it became a hanger for old clothes and “stuff” laying around the basement.  It remained in that tomb for years, until my parents decided to finish their basement and eventually put the treadmill to the curb.  Anyway, I digress:

Around 10 years years ago when I started to have issues with my weight.  I recalled how much I enjoyed running and also, how much weight I was able to lose – that was enough motivation for me to start running again.  I quickly found that running with all that extra weight came with an added cost.  I wasn’t as nimble as before, and the added weight really put a strain on my lower back.  It was like my body was punishing me for trying to get healthy.  In addition to the weight it didn’t help that a) I wore the wrong shoes and b) my form was horrible.  I ended up pulling a muscle or tendon in my foot (Peroneal Tendonitis) that put me out of service for months.

I learned, Adulthood was not the springtime of youth, and that I needed to improve all areas of my body in order to become physically fit enough to just run.  Once I had found success in weight loss through a proper diet, I started running again.  This time, I invested in running shoes and paid closer attention to my form.  I found that regularly running 3-4 miles a night was enough to keep me in shape, and also was just enough to avoid injury.  The occasional 6-8 miler was doable, but I would feel tightness in my lower back that would persist if I didn’t take a day or two to rest.  It was right after my first half-marathon that I discovered there was still a lot of work to do.

Fast forward to today, I’m able to pause in reflection of my errors and now include a slew of post running exercises to help improve my running form.  Now, the debate is out whether or not Pre or Post running workouts help, I prefer post running since cardio is my first love.  What works for you is between you and your doctor (insert seek health professionals approval before beginning a running program disclaimer here). This isn’t a definitive list, but here are the exercises that have found help lower my chances of injury and have made running enjoyable once again.

Strength Training:
Lower back extensions are a must, I’ve added these to my regiment to help strengthen my lower back muscles.
Situps and planking to help improve my core, I have found that this practice has helped reduce hunching over while running and keeps me upright throughout my running session.
Push-ups for good measure, because upper body strength helps pump me up those hills!

Stretching Routines
I don’t know the formalities on stretching, so here is what I do – I focus on my main muscle groups: hips, hamstrings, thighs, glutes, and calves.  Then stretch out my plantar fascia and work on focusing on my foot muscles by stretching them out with weird drunken yoga ballerina-type moves. There are plenty of focused stretching videos on the Runner’s World YouTube Channel.

It’s all about the Food!

Running aside, my life’s passion is food.  Losing weight was the motivation I needed to start eating and fueling my body right.  After all, losing over 60+ lbs I wanted to maintain my weight loss and maintain my good health.  “Let food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food.” ― Hippocrates

Get yourself ready for these awesome eats!  Typically we are vegetarian, and only eat meat a handful of times throughout the month, so I thought I’d change it up, but going a little heavier on the meats.

First up, Paprika Chicken and Chickpeas!  This awesome meal was combined with roasted broccoli and cauliflower for an amazing and satisfying meal! Especially after my long morning Sunday trail runs, and a day full of activities.

Next we have a Cauliflower Bolognese! One of my favorite meals – the pasta, the bolognese, everything about it is pure awesome.  We paired ours with a homemade Caesar salad and it took everything to the next level!

Finally, we have a local farm that produces some of the best tasting grass-fed beef I’ve ever had!  These Baked Beef Samosas are so delicious, so flavorful, so awesome that I’m getting hungry just looking at them!  If you are vegetarian or vegan, feel free to use your favorite meat substitute, you won’t be disappointed!

Episode 20 – Diet or Lifestyle

In this episode of the Beyond 24 Days podcast, we tackle the difference between Diet and Lifestyle… at least what that meant for us, and what that can mean for you too!  Listen in to hear Brooke sharing her insight about her experience in school food nutrition and sharing healthy eating with kids.

Oh yeah, and I babble on about Trail Running.

It’s a GIVEAWAY! (kinda)

Honey Stinger Fans rejoice, I have coupon codes worth 37% off your total order when you buy all your favorites from http://www.HoneyStinger.com!  This is a one-time coupon, to be used at checkout, for 37% off your entire order so STOCK UP!

I’ve given away one coupon code to one of my amazing Instagram followers, and he’s also a pretty cool dude to boot, for correctly guessing the make of my car (Subaru). That leaves me with two remaining coupon codes left to share with the masses!  So if you aren’t following me on the Instagrams, I suggest you do, have a look at my latest post and keep those guessing rolling in!

Official rules:
1. Enter code at checkout to receive 37% off
2. Codes good for orders on honeystinger.com only
3. Codes valid for non-Hive athletes only
4. Codes must be used before April 1st, 2018