Monthly Archives: December 2014

2014 in Review: Running, Blogging, Learning

Another year is drawing to a close and 2014 seemed to fly by faster than the last.  It was an exciting year of running adventures, traveling and lots of learning.

As 2014 rolled in, I established both personal and professional goals for the next 12 months.  My personal goals revolved around running, including logging 1,200 miles and clocking a sub 1:40.00 half marathon before the summer began.  My professional goals were to get my USA Track and Field Level I certification, grow FitNicePT and potentially write an e-book.  Now that 2014 is on the way out and learning2015 is knocking on the door, it’s time to take a look back at the last 365 days.

I nailed one of my running goals by PRing under 1:40.00 twice before summer and again in October at 1:37.24.  My racing year was very exciting and if you want to read all about it, here it is!  I exceeded my second running goal by running 1,445 miles in 2014.  Staying injury free was a huge bonus and I credit it to listening to my body in combination with consistent strength training.

My professional goals were not so easy to gauge.  I did receive my USA Track and Field Level I Coaching certification in March and the three-day course was a great learning experience.  I also took FitNicePT in a different direction and struggled with where I wanted to go.  Instead of writing an e-book, I took a lot of time to learn and use Twitter to help build a strong voice for my brand and gave more time to my blogs.  I love sharing my passion and knowledge while helping others reach their goals.  Being a part of the RunChat and BibRave clearningommunities has been very rewarding and while an e-book longer than 140 characters is still potentially on the horizon, I’m happy to be a part of the online running community on a daily basis.

Between my USATF coaching course, various continuing education efforts and some blogging trial and error, I did a lot of learning in 2014.  I stretched my long runs longer than ever before, lifted heavier weights than I thought I could, reached out to brands and businesses I never thought I could and look forward to taking those lessons with me into 2015.

What are my goals for 2015?  I have a Rock n Roll Phoenix and Rock n Roll DC on the calendar but am not aiming for a PR at either event.  I want to continue to grow the FitNicePT brand and need to choose the best way to do that.  I’ll spend some serious time thinking about it over the next few days and can’t wait to share what I decide.

Meredith

What was your biggest accomplishment of 2014?  Did you reach all of your goals?

Christmas Workouts Part II and More Beer

The first half of my Christmas Vacation 2014 was a success and the second half was just as fun filled.  In addition to getting back on my original workout schedule, I enjoyed a new Crossfit box, more beer with Doug, more quality family time and two safe, on-time flights on the way home.  Here’s the second half of my Christmas Vacation:

I returned to my training schedule with Crossfit at Wichita Old Town Crossfit on Tuesday morning.  It was a small class with just two regulars, myself and one other drop-in for a WOD made up of my used-to-be arch nemesis double unders, sit-ups and power snatches.  The workout left my shoulders fried but the people were great and if you happen to be in the area, find the time to stop by.

Wednesday morning another trip to the treadmill for speed work was on tap.  After a mile warm-up it was alternating 800s for five miles and a mile cool down.  It had been a while since I’d run 800s with 800M rest and I felt really good pushing the hard work to 15 seconds faster than 5k pace.  It was very solid workout that left my legs feeling surprisingly good afterwards.  Sometime running fast makes everything better, even if it is only for three minutes at a time.  Of course, I was starving when I stepped of the dreadmill and got lucky that Doug was feeling famished as well.

Because we were both hungry, and it was on the way back to Christmas house, Doug and I made another trip to Wichita Brewing Company for lunch and more beer.  While we didn’t have the pleasure of enjoying another round off the Beeramid, we did take a deeper dive into a few more beerfavorites from our previous visit.  Along with more beer, we had big glasses of water and two of WBC’s wood fired oven pizzas.  I chose the Hopperoni and he went with the Honeysuckulant BBQ but we couldn’t help sharing.  Both selections were excellent.  The thin crust perfectly complimented the heavier beers we were drinking (Belgian Dubbel and V6) while the pizza’s individual flavors came bursting through with their toppings.  I recommended Wichita Old Town Crossfit but if you’re not feeling in the mood, head to Wichita Brewing Company instead.  The people are great, the beer is delicious, the food is tasty and the vibe is perfect for a casual, friendly cocktail.

Doug and I departed early Christmas morning with two on-time flights and a layover in Denver just long enough to enjoy even more beer, though this time we kept it simple with Blue Moon and Ranger IPA.  Now it’s time to settle back into work for Rock n Roll Arizona and finalize my 2015 race schedule.

Meredith

How was your Christmas?  Did you try any new gyms or restaurants?  What’s on tap as 2015 rolls in?

Christmas Vacation 2014 Part I

Doug and I kicked off Christmas Vacation 2014 with a stop over at my mom and dad’s in Philadelphia for two nights of relaxation and quality time before heading to Wichita to visit with his family.  We arrived in Wichita at an airport that is currently getting a much needed facelift and quickly made our way to see the fam.christmas vacation 2014  It was great to see everyone Sunday night but I needed to get back to work on my Rock n Roll Arizona training plan when Monday morning rolled around.

My original Christmas Vacation 2014 workout plan was to find a local Crossfit gym and get my lifting done Monday, which is why I wore my runners rather than pack the big shoes in my bag for traveling Sunday.  Unfortunately, those plans were changed and I switched Monday Crossfit with Tuesday’s race pace run.  This trade meant running hard in shoes I had just worn the day before for close to 10 hours and was the first time I would be wearing the same shoes two days in a row since forever.   As a result, I should have expected a little less cushion than usual when Doug and I hit the local YMCA for a treadmill session that had me doing a mile warm up then four miles at 7:20 pace.  I tried to be ready for less comfy shoes with very tight laces and it completely backfired.  I had shin issues until I finally gave in and loosened my shoelaces around the 1.25 mile mark.

After my shins relaxed the rest of my treadmill session was solid, leaving I’m feeling good about heading into Arizona with a sub-1:40 goal and 3.5 more weeks of work to do.  In christmas vacation 2014need of a post workout fueling session, as well as a little quiet time away from the hustle and bustle of Christmas Vacation house before dinner and gift giving, Doug and I made a pit stop at Wichita Brewing Company.

The beer list was lengthy and the taps were many so we opted for two samplers.  One for him and one for me with as many different flavors as possible to share.  Next thing we knew, what we thought was a light fixture or candelabra was sitting on the bar in front of us being loaded with sample sized glasses filled with a rainbow of beer colored liquids.  Pretty snazzy!  The Beeramid was wonderful.  The wide range of flavors could make any palate happy and each glass was distinct from the previous one.  About a quarter of the way through we ordered pepperoni rolls from the wood fired grill and they were delicious.christmas vacation 2014  We finished our tasty 16 beer sampler in record time and went back to the house for a big family dinner and an early gift opening session for soon to depart parties.

Stay tuned for the next chapter of my Christmas Vacation 2014 that includes a new Crossfit box and more fun stuff.

Meredith

Where is your Christmas Vacation?  Have you checked out any new spots?

Maybe a 2016 Marathon Entry

It’s happening.  The Marathon thing.  I’m not chomping at the bit to cover 26+ miles in one go, but I’ve started to think about it.  It couldn’t hurt my half marathon goal of breaking 1:30.00, unless I got injured, and it would definitely make me a better coach.marathon

I know I could go out tomorrow and fight through 26.2 miles but for me it would be about more than simply finishing.  A quality race with a reasonable finish time goal would make me happy and it what I’d like to accomplish.  My longest half marathon training runs are 16 miles and the last one came in at an average 8:10 pace.  10+ miles is a long way to go after that without any training but when I do pick a marathon to run, I’ll be sure to have a 14 week training plan ready to go.  So why am I talking about a 2016 marathon and not 2015?  Because I have 42 more states to go and the 2015 schedule is pretty nailed down.

Regardless of when I actually toe the 26.2 line, the urge to do it is something that bubbles up randomly and with enthusiasm.  What was it that got me to start thinking, and feeling good about, eventually taking the marathon plunge?  Learning to slow down.  When I finally slowed my long runs down, it hit home going a lot further is much easier if you slow down.  Pacing Rock n Roll Virginia Beach and the Harbor Lights Half both gave me the feeling that I could slow down and be successful at the marathon distance.  Of course, this isn’t rocket science.  I’ve always had an issue keeping my long runs easy enough and when these races forced me to keep a steady relaxed pace, the lesson finally sank in.  Slow down, go longer!  I’ve done a pretty good job of applying this to my long runs since August and look forward to getting into the spring’s PR training cycle to see how far I can take it.  Up to 16 miles, that is.

What’s my race?  What’s my goal?  I have no idea.  I do know it would be crazy for me to think because I can run a 1:45 half without too much strain that a 3:30 marathon would be a piece of cake.  We all know better than that.  So…4 hours?  I also know a flat course would be preferable to a hilly one my first time out.  Shamrock is a good option.  No traveling, familiar course, awesome post-race party.  It can also be very windy and boring.  Maybe Marine Corps because it’s also close to home, and if you’re going to do it, you might as well have some fun.  OBX is another appealing option.  Good thing I have lots of peaceful miles to think about it!

Meredith

What was your first marathon?  Which do you recommend?

That being said, I’ll be hunting for the flattest possible course I can find.  Most likely it’ll be Shamrock.

December Right Now: Wearing, Loving, Running

It’s time for the December edition of Right Now!  This month I cover what I’m wearing, what I’m really liking and what my early 2015 running plans are.

Wearing:  This SweatPink tank.  I received it as part of my SweatListPro swag and the super comfy tank was a welcome addition to my collection.  I typically wear fitted gear on top and was pleasantly surprised to like the softness and room to move in this one.  It doesn’t get shown off much during cold, layered winter runs but shines on the dreadmill.  I will definitely be wearing it often in the spring’s sunshine.wearing

Loving:  The cooler weather.  Yes, it’s a bit chillier than I’d like driving to work at 5:30 in the morning but my the time I get out to run, the temperatures in the mid- to high-40s are great.  There were a few very windy, rainy days here in Virginia Beach lately that had me worried the winter conditions won’t be runner friendly but things have cleared up and the last two days have been perfect.

Racing:  Rock n Roll Arizona.  I said in this post I was definitely planning to go for that sub-1:37.00 PR I missed in Myrtle Beach but now I’m guessing again.  I took seven days off from running after Rehoboth.  Didn’t run a single step.  I did some strength training and am a little bit concerned about being ready to run fast in five weeks.  This is the first time I’ll ever try to PR with such a short training cycle and I’m not sure when my next chance will be.  Rock n Roll USA isn’t really on my radar as a PR course, pacing the 1:52 group at Shamrock the following weekend means it’s out, too, and the rest of my 2015 schedule has yet to be determined.  Hopefully I’ll find an opportunity that fits both my schedule and my budget next spring!

Meredith

Do you like running in the cold?  What’s on your spring race schedule?  What are you wearing this winter?

2014 Year in Racing Review

The holidays are going strong, the end of 2014 is approaching and that means it’s time for my 2014 Year in Racing Review!  It was an exciting twelve months with both successes and failures teaching me a lot.  I laid out my goals for this year in a Happy New Year post while doing a good job of keeping the lessons of 2013 in mind.

I haven’t reflected on my 2014 yearly goals in a while and now that I am, I’m proud of what I accomplished.  I did a much better job of trusting my training during 2014’s year in racing than I have in the past, managed to stay away from mile adding traffic as much as possible during races and had some serious fun on a few race courses.  You can check out all of my reviews and 2014 year in racingrecaps here and find slightly edited versions on this wonderful race research site but here’s a quick summary:

  • I ran 11 races in 2014: One 5k, one 8k, one 10k and eight half marathons earning some massive medals.
  • I PR’ed at the half marathon distance three times, hitting my 2014 goal of breaking 1:40.00 before the summer with 1:39.08 (March), 1:38.42 (April) and 1:37.24 (October).  I also PR’ed at the 10k distance, 43:27 (September).
  • I won my age group for the first and second times, went back-to-back second at the EquiKids 5k and was first overall female once on a hot, humid morning.
  • I checked five states off my list: New Jersey, Delaware, Tennessee, South Carolina and Nevada, leaving 41 and DC to go.
  • I paced my first half marathon in September.

It’s really hard to choose a favorite from my 2014 Year in Racing because I had fun at so many.  My first pacing experience is close to the top but it’s hard to have more fun than hitting a PR.  I’d say my top three were RnR VB, Rehoboth and Nashville.  Las Vegas was definitely my worst racing moment but it also taught me a few things about flying to race that I’m glad I learned early on in my travels.

I haven’t nailed down my goals for 2015’s Year in Racing quite yet but can say for certain I’ll be going after a sub-1:37.00 in Phoenix next month.  I’ll be putting some thought into the upcoming twelve months of running over the next few weeks and can’t wait to share my 2015 targets with you!

Meredith

How was your 2014 Year in Racing?  What was your biggest highlight?

2014 Rehoboth Half Marathon

The 2014 Rehoboth Half Marathon is one of my favorite half marathons to date.  Also known as the Seashore Marathon, this race features the option to run 13.1 or 26.2 miles through the beach side towns of Delaware (state #9!).  I went into the weekend with no plan.  Absolutely no   plan at all.  I was having some very faint foot pain that I couldn’t induce with poking, rubbing or jumping from a really hard run in my light racing shoes on Thursday but I knew it wasn’t serious.  I didn’t want to make anything worse with 13+ more miles of pounding and decided to just take it one step at a time on my tied legs race morning.

My Rehoboth Half Marathon began with a three hour drive from Virginia Beach straight to packet pick-up.  Both Saturday events were limited to a total of 2600 runners and I’m pretty sure they all wanted to pick up at the same time.  It was cramped and crowded but moved right along as I collected my number, long sleeve tech race shirt (like it a lot), drawstring bag and 2014 rehoboth half marathon post-race party wristband.  Doug and I checked into our hotel, relaxed for a little while then hit the main drag in Rehoboth for dinner.  A delicious shrimp and scallop pasta at Summer House was my pre-race meal while Doug had a perfectly seared filet mignon.  I hoped the chilly, wet evening would dry out for the next day’s race and maybe even warm up a bit.  After one more look at my weather.com app, it was time for bed and a not too early rise and shine for the race’s 7am Start.

Getting to the Start was very easy.  Doug dropped me off a few blocks from the boardwalk and bandstand and a brisk morning walk to the starting area got my Race Day going.  I passed locked permanent restrooms and a string of Port-a-Potties with long but moving lines (luckily I didn’t need to use one) as I made my way to the wooden boardwalk to loosen up and get warm.  My foot felt solid, leading me to choose a goal of finishing the race between 1:40 and 1:45.  Around 6:50 the Nation Anthem was sung and I was a little disappointed with the sound system.  It took a second to realize what was going on and the young girl who sang it could barely be heard 200 yards from the podium.  There were no corrals at the Starting Line, nor were there signs with paces on them to give people a guide for lining up.  I headed towards the front and asked a few people to get an idea of what was around me.  With a kind-of plan finally in place, I wanted to start with a 8 minute mile pace group then see how I felt as the race went on but expected it was not going to work out that way.

I was right.  The 2014 Rehoboth Half Marathon got a little bit of a late start, going off at 7:05 and I crossed the Start surrounded by runners at all paces.  The course went straight for a while and I passed lots of people as I clocked an 8:08 first mile.  I continued to pass people as the course made a u-turn at the Mile 3 marker, settling into a comfortable 7:50 pace before walking through my first water stop.  By Mile 4 I knew I was overdressed in my long sleeves as the morning warmed and I found myself thankful for the clouds that stuck around.

At Mile 5 I walked through a second well staffed and stocked water stop then picked up to a 7:35 pace until the course hit the trails.  I knew the course map said trails but I didn’t know they were actual trails.  The gravel began at Mile 5.5 and stayed with the course all the way to Mile 11.  The wet trail was soft but also a bit slippery on top of being less firm and my pace slowed back down a bit.  I took the straightest lines I could through the wide, tree-lined path, passing the 10K sign with 6.26 on my watch.  I came to a slow walk at the Mile 8 water stop to make sure I got a decent amount of water down and picked it back up to hit the Mile 9 turn around.  I had 2014 rehoboth half marathonseen the runners in front coming back towards me since early on the trail and knew I might have trouble holding the same straight lines I had taken out on the way back because of incoming traffic.

Over the next two trail miles I cruised on the shortest path I could, passing a few more people and ready to get back on pavement.  I was sad to see the peacefulness of the trails go but happy to have a hard surface again at Mile 11 where it became clear I had done a decent job of sticking with those straight lines because my watch read 11.06.  I was clicking right along to finish around 1:43 and eased up to another female runner to help me finish with a little kick.  A 90 degree right hand turn at Mile 13 finally brought the 2014 Rehoboth Half Marathon Finish into view and I crossed it running easy at 1:42.47.

With my phantom foot weirdness, not fresh legs, soft, slippery trails and no real plan to speak of, I was very happy to hit my sub-1:45 goal.  It was definitely a very high quality training run and I couldn’t have asked for anything much better.  Walking towards the post-race party, I received a huge medal (my biggest to date) and sucked down two small cups of water.  Doug snapped this photo before I took my sweat soaked sleeves of as fast as I could and threw on a dry fleece.  I wasn’t sure if we needed to stay for awards, I had seen that not too many ladies were in front of 2014 rehoboth half marathonme with the out and back course design and didn’t expect anything but couldn’t know for sure.  In the post race party tent, computers gave live race results, which was awesome, and I found I was 6th of 116 in my age group.  A huge buffet style breakfast spread lines one side of the tent while unlimited beer was served at one end and bottled water hung out by the entrance.  One beer and a protein bar later, Doug and I were headed back to the hotel.  I wish we could have hung out at the sure to be rocking post race party longer but we needed to get back home for a holiday party.

I loved the 2014 Rehoboth Half Marathon and can’t wait to run it again someday.  Maybe I’ll shoot for the full 26.2 (eeek!).  The course was mostly flat with a few slight grades to give the legs a little something different, the scenery is beautiful, the weather was perfect, water stops were solid, the medals are massive and the post race party is fantastic.  Crowd support is sprinkled but when they’re there, they’re enthusiastic.  There’s tons of running room once you get away from the messy Start and a few squished minutes on the trails in two way traffic are barely memorable.  I didn’t for one second notice there wasn’t music on the course most likely because I train without it and also because the scenery is so lovely.  The Start area was spacious and being able to watch the sun rise over the ocean isn’t too shabby but some kind of pace organization would have made those first two miles a little more comfortable.  Doug had some issues with the text timing alerts not being on time and the timing mat breakdown here doesn’t match my race at all.  I think the 8.5 mile mat was actually at 9.1 and caused the problem but the Start, Finish and average pace are dead on, so I’m overall happy with the timers.  If you ever have the chance, I definitely recommend making the trip to Delaware’s shoreline for the Rehoboth Beach Marathon.

Meredith

Did you race this weekend?  Would you run this one?

The Trouble with Concussions

Concussion are serious business.  While not something runners typically have to face every time they head out to compete, I’m a huge football fan who sees men concussed on a weekly basis so I can enjoy the game.  The effects of concussions have come into the limelight recently and concussionsas someone who has suffered a traumatic brain injury, the contradiction has been on my mind a lot lately.

I was 17 and a junior in high school when I crashed to the ground from a horse’s back.  I was taken by ambulance and then medical helicopter to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where my skull was almost drilled open to relieve the pressure on my brain.  Unconcious for a day or two, I missed weeks of school and when I finally did return to ‘normal’ life, I was lost.  Most of the relationships in my life suffered.  I withdrew.  I wasn’t motivated to do much of anything, which isn’t ideal your junior ‘get into college’ year of high school.  I was combative with my parents.  I was depressed but didn’t really know it and I still deal with the aftermath of my injury.  Laying my head on my shoulder results in stars, double vision and dizziness.  A roller coaster than forces my head to bounce around between two shoulder harnesses?  No way.  Handstand?  Handstand push-ups?  Not those either.  Staircases with open spaces?  Better be something to hold on to.

Having suffered a single serious concussion, I can only imagine what happens to those who are hit repeatedly in the head for years.  After hearing, reading and seeing the tragic story of Ohio State defensive lineman Kosta Karageorge, it makes me wonder what my football fandom is doing to help prevent the men who play from suffering for the rest of their lives.  Football is a short lived career with long term physical consequences and concussions are one of its most dangerous side effects.  With suicides like those of Karageorge, Junior Seau and Jovan Belcher lighting up headlines over the last few years, both the NCAA and NFL have made an effort of curb the number of times these men are either hit directly in the head, indirectly in the head or their heads are slammed into the field.  But is it enough?

There’s plenty of evidence to suggest the consequences of multiple concussions are severe.  Take a look at a sport I can’t stand: boxing.  Freddie Roach, Muhammad Ali.  Football players are in the same boat.  What are these young men signing up for when they sign a big money contract?  What about those who don’t?  League minimum isn’t much ($107,100 for practice squad and $420,000 for a rookie in 2014), especially if you’re going to rack up the medical bills long before everyone you went to school with.

I don’t know what the solution is.  Watching flag football all weekend doesn’t sound appealing at all and while I sit safely watching the men who play tear their bodies up for my enjoyment, I’ll wonder what all those concussions will mean twenty years from now.

Meredith

What do you think about sport concussions?  Have you ever had a brain injury?  Has your child?