This blog contains the word “fastinista” for a reason. I love love love fashion and brands and designers and even though this blog focuses a lot on running and working out, I want to make sure I still talk about my other passion. With recent events in the news, I feel called upon again to write more.
“Fastinista” is supposed to be a play on the words “fast” and “fashionista.” I may not always feel so fashionable in my “mom uniform” leggings and tank tops, but I still try to keep up with fashion as much as I can.
Let’s rewind back to my high school years when I would flip through magazines and learn about the latest fads. I collected magazine after magazine that I refused to throw away. Allure, Elle and Glamour were always at arm’s reach.
I first learned about Kate Spade bags from a good high school friend. It was a right of passage; it seemed like all the fashionable girls carried a Kate Spade bag to school. I borrowed my friend’s plain, black bag for a party to “test it out” and eventually saved up enough to purchase my own ivory and brown plaid “Sam” purse.
Shortly after, my mom gifted me the same black one that my friend had and I was beyond thrilled. Although they were certainly not cheap, at around $200 or just under, they were much more affordable than European brands that at the time I simply couldn’t afford.
Years later, while living in Atlanta, I began working as assistant manager at one of her stores. I remember telling the hiring manager the story of my first Kate Spade bag. It was a job I really, really enjoyed. Working in retail management in the South where customers were usually sweet and gracious was a far cry from my retail experience in north Jersey.
I unknowingly became a Kate loyalist. Always classic, with fun color combinations, her accessories have always been just girly enough to complete an outfit.
As my budget increased, my shoe and purse collection grew larger with other designers and brands. But a few things were still simply Kate: my agenda and my diaper bag, a summer clutch, shoes, and more handbags.
Kate built a brand that inspired so many. She was an amazing businesswoman. Such a tragedy that her life had to end the way it did. I truly hope her husband, daughter and the rest of her family and close friend find peace in their hearts to carry on.
Before I had the chance to publish this post, I found out about the tragic death of another icon: Anthony Bourdain.
With the outpouring of grief I saw on social media, I can tell I’m not alone in feeling like I knew him. When Frank and I traveled to San Francisco together for the first time in 2012, we followed some of his recommendations and visited some of the bars he had featured on one of his shows. He was an excellent writer and true adventurer. He even visited Paraguay where his great, great, great grandfather was rumored to have lived and been buried.
Anthony was mostly known for his food and travel, but his cool, laid-back style and silver fox appeal made him a very stylish guy in my opinion.
I leave you with a quote by him:
“If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody. Open your mind, get up off the couch. Move.”
Kate and Anthony may have been different in a lot of ways, but I would say they both inspired their fans to have adventures and live life colorfully…May they Rest In Peace.
After being extremely pleased with my performance at the Lehigh Valley Marathon last fall, I decided to set the bar higher and chase a Boston qualifying time this year. When the idea first came into my mind last fall, I thought, “Maybe I’ll do a spring marathon to keep building up my speed and endurance and hopefully BQ in a fall race.” Then with the passing weeks and months and growing determination, my thoughts changed to, “What if I just try to BQ in the spring?…” And so I decided to pursue the latter, because the competitor in me simply could not wait until later in the year.
That’s when I started diligently reading as much as I could about how to qualify. I researched different training plans and read articles upon articles related to my goal. I knew training throught the winter would be very tough for me. I am a South American girl after all. I knew a lot of my miles would have to be done on my treadmill, but I decided to be a Treadmill Warrior not a Treadmill Worrier. If I wanted to succeed with my goal, that is what I had to do.
Although I continued running after Lehigh, it wasn’t until late January that I decided I would really go for it and signed up for the New Jersey Marathon. I was all in. I invested in a training plan that gave me detailed workouts and paces to shoot for. Being a coach myself, I decided to use it as a guide and changed things up as needed. For example, I did not do the total mileage that the plan asked me to do. There was just no way I could run 60 miles a week. I just don’t have the time for it. My mileage peaked at close to 50, but for the most part it was in the mid 40s. If a goal pace run felt too hard, I eased back. I allowed myself to take it easy and I didn’t push more than I had to. I think that’s a mistake I see a lot of runners do, they run fast and hard all the time. In order to reach the physiological changes that your body needs for maximum performance, it’s not necessary to empty your tank all the time.
I ran 6 days a week which seemed like a lot at first until it became part of my routine. During the week it was usually 4-6 mile runs, 2 days of easy runs, 1 tempo run or goal pace run or Vo2 max run, a few hill repeats, and 1 long run. I did four 20 milers, which I believe gave me the mental toughness on race day of, “Hey, you did this a few times already. You got this.” Would I recommend it to everyone? Absolutely not. It was an experiment for me. It worked for this training period but it may not always be the case.
I cross-trained and lifted weights at least 2 days a week, right after a run, with core work about 3 days a week. Since figuring out that my right side is definitely my weaker side, I made sure to strength it to become more balanced. Movements such as single-leg squats, single-leg deadlifts and side planks became part of my routine. I also worked on balance by incorporating my Strongboard into my workouts.
I got treated at Santiago Chiropractic towards the end of my training. I do admit that I started after feeling some tightness on my right vastus lateralis. The issue quickly went away, but then my left gastrocnemius started aching. I was fortunate to be able to make it through the marathon with no aches at all.
I suffer from gastrointestinal issues, so I knew I would also need to do some research and experimenting in that area. I had a tough experience during Lehigh and I definitely did not want to sideline my goals with something I could control. I had been using Honey Stingers for a couple of years but the gummies were not very convenient during races. I decided to switch to gels and opted for the Acai Pomegranate flavor. I consumed a gel packet every 3 miles during the race and that worked out perfectly. I stayed well hydrated by drinking water at almost every water station.
With all the biomechanics studying and research I’ve done over the past 7 months, I switched from my Nike Pegasus to minimalist shoes. These type of shoes encourage natural foot splay, foot flexes and lessen ground contact for improved running performance. Minimalist shoes can help improve proprioception by activating the small muscles in the ankle, heel and feet. I don’t recommend anyone just jump in and start running long in these type of shoes, but if you start out with shorter runs and slowly increase them, you can learn to appreciate what they can do for your running.
These are the main tips I can give someone and they were some of the major changes I made in my training. If you have specific questions about anything, feel free to leave a comment or to email me and I’d be happy to help you!
I did not stay at a hotel the night before, mostly because I wanted to eat dinner at home and sleep in my own bed. My mom drove with me early that Sunday morning and even thought there was a slight back up entering the parking lot to the racetrack, we were able to get a spot easily.
The marathon itself was a really great experience. I actually did not study the course map too well because I thought there was going to be more boardwalk running, but most of the course was actually on the streets. It started at the Monmouth Racetrack, went north to Monmouth Park, then right through Long Branch and down to Asbury Park where we turned around and headed back up to finish in Long Branch.
There was a bit of a bottleneck after crossing the start line but after that first half mile, it got better. My favorite parts of the course were Monmouth Park, where some local residents pumped music from their loudspeakers and hung out on their front lawns with motivational signs, early on that Sunday morning to cheer us on. The energy in Long Branch was also infectious. Again, lots of signs, and cheerful faces either waiting to see their loved ones run by or perhaps just being out there to support strangers. There were lots of miles were there were no spectators, but since I was so focused on just running my race, it didn’t affect me too much. I do recall a young male spectator who held up a sign around mile 16 that said, “Touch here for power!” and I made sure to give it a tap!
The last mile will always be memorable because it was when I kicked into second gear somehow, hoping to leave everything on that course, on that boardwalk. I was so sure that I did not get into Boston at that point, but I decided to finish as strong and as fast as I could. And I sure did. I was warned about the headwinds that can plague the coast, but I was so focused on getting to the Finish Line that the winds never bothered me.
I would definitely recommend this race and since it is mostly flat, it would be a good one for either a new marathoner or someone chasing a Boston Qualifier. I did not make it to the expo and had a fellow running club member pick up my bib, so I cannot comment on how that was. The long sleeve t-shirt was nice although I would have preferred a tech material to cotton.
Having the support of my husband, my son and my mom out on the course was the cherry on top to a wonderful race. I do wish I had dialed back my pace a bit in the first few miles (and around miles 15-19), so that is definitely something I will keep in mind for my next marathon!
I’m so proud of the hard work I put in to accomplish my first Boston Qualifier marathon. Most importantly, I’m proud I got it in my home state!
Have you run the NJ Half or Full Marathon and if so, what did you think of it? Would you run it again?
Here I am, three days away from my 4th marathon, the very first spring marathon I’ll be doing. This training period was so different from the past three, but that’s not surprising. Each of the past three were all different in their own way as well.
The first two, Philadelphia and New York were done before I became a mom and while I was doing CrossFit hardcore. My mileage probably peaked at the mid to high 30s. I was in great shape, but mixing the two was tough and I was always exhausted.
My third marathon was the Lehigh Valley Marathon and it was the first one I trained for as a mom. Many of my runs were done while pushing Frankie on the stroller, which became (for the most part) a fun thing for us to do together. My mileage went up to the low 40s and I got a sub 4-hour (3:44) marathon. Up until then, I was only thinking of trying after I turned 35 where I’d gain an extra five minutes to my qualifying time. Running friends started to put the bug in my ear about trying for Boston…and so I decided to embark on my mission to qualify. This is what crazy runner friends do their friends!
My qualifying time at this time is 3:35 but in order to be able to actually have entry I would need to run a sub 3:30 marathon. Ideally I would like to do this before expanding my family. And so this marathon will be my first attempt!
This marathon is different because it was my first time training during the winter. And you all know what a winter we’ve had! I became a Treadmill Warrior and learned to embrace the fact that most of my runs would be done on the hamster wheel. If I was serious about completing a spring race, it’s what I had to do…unless of course I wanted to get up at 5am to run and that was not happening. Mama needs her sleep.
For this marathon, I used a more advanced training plan, which I of course modified to my Mom Life. I did four long runs of 20 miles, and diligently did speed work, VO2 max workouts (which I learned all about in my ReVo2lution Running certification) and tempo runs. I even did some hill repeats, although where I live you simply can’t avoid hills so they probably weren’t necessary. But variety is important so overall I’m happy with all the runs I got in. I kept my easy runs easy and tried to push the pace during intervals. My mileage went up to the upper 40s.
I remained ache free until the last couple weeks. I’m currently suffering with an achy left gastrocnemius which I’ve been icing and treating at Santiago Chiropractic. It feels fine once I warm up so I’m confident that it will hold up during the race. I will focus on giving it lots of TLC after Sunday.
This last taper week started with a sports massage and reflexology on Sunday at the Short Hills Hilton Hotel spa, eforea. It was actually a Mother’s Day gift I had from Frank from last year (oops) and took my mom with me to spend some quality Mother-Daughter time. The services we had were ok, but the overall customer service was very disappointing. From no one being around to lead us to the upstairs lounge area, to terrible coffee, no snacks and a 45-minute wait to have your food delivered, I would be very unlikely to ever go back there.
Monday was a rest day, Tuesday was an easy three miler with four 30-second accelerations at half marathon pace. Yesterday was another three miles mostly at half marathon pace and today and Friday will be rest days. I was supposed to do another easy run but I’d rather get the rest for my calf. Saturday I’ll do a 2-3 mile easy shakeout run.
Since I decided not to run today, I’ll just be focusing on mobility, some light core work (on my Strongboard, of course) and stretching.
I did go out for a short little walk with my handsome best buddy. Last fall, during my taper, he had croup, and this time around he has an ear infection. Should it blame it on the taper crazies?? He’s luckily doing much better and was back to being his energetic, silly self again today.
I’m also drafting up ideas for another Running Workshop will which take place next month. If you’re local (and even if you’re not), send me your email so I can keep you posted on all the details.
Frankie is down for his nap as I write this and my babysitter will be here shortly so that I can go get a much needed pedicure. I’m sipping on a green matcha latte, compliments of Vital Proteins. I love their collagen powders and was so happy they sent me the matcha, as I’ve been meaning to try it. I love that it is packed with antioxidants, helps the metabolism and calms your mind and body…just what I need right now!
So the plan for the weekend is to drive down early on Sunday. Another member of my Amazing Feet Club will be picking up my bib for me (if all goes well), which will give both the hubby and I a chance to make it to Frankie’s little multi-sports camp.
Make sure you follow me on Instagram to see more about the weekend! I’ll be sure to do post-race recap with more details on my training once I give my body and mind some rest!
Muscle and joint pain is an increasingly common problem experienced by athletes, both novice and professionals. I’ve had my share of injuries in the past decade, although luckily nothing too serious. I had some foot pain a few years ago when I was training for a half marathon and had to take about 2 weeks off from running and pretty much “self-healed.”
Then, I suffered from iliotiobial band syndrome (ITB) while training for the New York marathon in 2014 and took several days off and went to see a physical therapist for some relief. Looking back, bad shoes and a weak right ankle led to these issues and I’ve since learned so much more to help me in the long run…
When I met Dr Santiago last Fall, I learned that he was one of the first chiropractors to be chosen as a member of the US Olympic Team Medical Staff for the Games of the XXV Olympiad in Barcelona, Spain, and he was an All American collegiate and professional soccer player, so I knew that helping athletes would be of high importance to me when joining his practice.
Performing an assessment on Santiago Chiropractic Associates’ patient, Valerie Goldberg.
That being said, I wanted to set myself apart from other fitness professionals so that we could offer the best care to the patients at his office.
I’ve always been the type of person who likes to focus on the fundamentals. When I was a CrossFit trainer, I would always tell my athletes that I cared more about their form than how fast they finished a workout or how heavy they lifted. I would make sure they spent enough time working on their mobility and that they understood why we were doing certain movements. Similary, now that I’m a biomechanist with a focus on functional and corrective exercise, I remind my clients that mobility and simple exercises are essential to helping them move better and remain as pain free as possible.
Gait analysis is a data-driven way of assessing performance and physical condition of athletes.
The proper system should be able to identify any muscular deficiencies and measure tolerance to various workloads, help in developing customized training and rehabilitation based on the test results, and create a database so that re-assessments can be done to periodically check the athlete’s progress.
What we use at Santiago Chiropractic is OptoGait and OptoJump, both systems by Microgate, an Italian company.
I love being able to help local athletes (especially runners) detect mechanical inefficiencies and asymmetries between both legs, therefore helping them prevent injuries or assisting them in an injury recovery plan.
You may wonder what the benefits of these assessments are.
Biomechanical evaluations help understand how we move and identify any imbalances in the body like leg length discrepancies, muscle imbalances, joint dysfunctions, pelvic asymmetries, core dysfunctions etc that may be causing or contributing to symptoms.
We are all unique and asymmetrical and that is ok to an extent.
However, we may have learned postural bad habits and thus developed compensations that can be injuries waiting to happen!
Combining science with experience I’m able to help my clients understand their whole kinetic chain and assist them on a journey towards pain free movement and better enjoyment of their sport.
In the past few months, I’ve dedicated myself more to my own balance and mobility and that has greatly shown up in my running. I was able to get an awesome marathon PR last September (3:44), a half marathon PR in October (1:41), and just this past Saturday, I got a PR in my local St Paddy’s 5K as well (21:39).
I have better awareness that my right side is my weaker side and I take the time to work more on strengthening it.
As you can see, it’s very important to be aware of potential issues before you get sidelined by an injury. Perhaps you’re an athlete yourself or have a child who is.
If you are local to the Lake Hiawatha are, I’d love to have a brief chat with you to answer any questions and see if my services could be beneficial to you.
In order to be a well-rounded runner, strength training should be part of your arsenal just like speed work and hills. Some of the benefits include maintaining lean muscle mass, minimizing muscle imbalances and increasing core strength.
Besides your typical dumbbells, you can also incorporate kettlebells into your workouts. They help increase cardiovascular health without putting too much strain on your muscles. The explosive, quick movement that’s required during kettlebell training boosts your heart rate, strengthening cardiovascular health while increasing muscle strength, posture and core.
Another plus of strength training, especially if you’re looking to lose weight or change your aesthetics, is that it helps burn fat hours after your workout. It’s very important to be aware of your form at all times during exercise. This will increase the exercise’s effectiveness and safety. One of the best tips I give my clients is to visualize the muscles that are doing the work as you perform each exercise to really understand the purpose of the movement and get more out of it.
Single-leg movements are a crucial addition to your routine as they clear up mobility and imbalances between each side of your body. Training your body to move in different planes of motion can help reduce injuries and increase running performance.
Strength training sessions don’t need to last long. Fifteen minutes of doing the right exercises can be enough. If you feel that lack of time is your issue, think of which runs you can reduce to incorporate more strength. For example, combine a run with a strength training workout by doing a 30 minute run and a 20 minute strength training session instead of your usual 50 minute run. Instead of a 30 minute run, do sprints for 15-20 minutes and then do a strength workout.
Do your best to mix in strength 2 times a week. Give it a few weeks and notice how you feel. Trust me, it will make a big difference! In order to be a stronger and less injured runner, you need to put in more than just miles. Besides picking up some weights on a consistent basis, it’s also imperative that you prioritize rest and sleep, as well as proper nutrition and stretching.
Below is a great workout to do on your cross-training day or to do after a short run.
What is your favorite strength training movement? I currently like squats and bicep curls 💪🏼
Let me know if you try the workout above! Have a great day 🙂
The hard work for the year is done for some of us long distance runners as we take a break from long runs and tough speed work and settle into more leisurely runs or shorter races. Although recovery is a major part of any exercise program, in order to improve, it’s important to not stop doing what you’re doing completely. You may have had a training plan for your half or full marathon, but they don’t come with a post-race plan usually, unless you also worked with a coach. I will share some of my own personal tips that I’ve myself followed or taught my running coaching clients, to guide you the days, weeks and even months after your race.
Immediately following a race, it’s important to focus on refueling your tank. I know I usually can’t eat right away, but a drink with electrolytes like Gatorade or beer will usually help settle my stomach and then I’m usually ready to eat within 30 minutes. It’s very crucial to get your fluid and sodium intake after a long, tough run. Your stomach might be queasy but once you’re able to, have a small snack until you’re ready to handle a meal consisting of protein and carbohydrates. The night after a race, you may want to try an ice bath and focus on getting quality sleep. If it was a hilly race, you may even need a day off from work the following day.
A few days after your marathon, you can indulge in a massage. I got a massage at Spavia of Greater Morristown a few days after the Lehigh Valley Marathon. With a massage you can experience decreased tension and tightness, realign muscle fibers, and release any adhesions between tissues. And of course, it just feels good and you deserve it! At Spavia, you get a comfy spa robe and sandals and a neck pillow for relaxing in the retreat room while your masseuse comes to get you. You can make a selection of the type of music you’d like to be played as well as the lotion of your preference. I left feeling rejuvenated, pampered and with relaxed muscles…and highly recommend making an appointment if you’re in the area. I look forward to checking out some of their other services like their Vita-C Radiance facial (a hydrating skincare treatment because my skin tends to get very dry in the cold months!) as well as the Nourishing Antioxidant Wrap.
During the few weeks after a marathon or half marathon, it is essential to keep your mileage and your heart rate low. By giving your body a chance to fully and deeply recover, you can be on the road to faster results in your upcoming events. Also, it’s important to give your mind a break from the focus of training, so that when your body is indeed ready to run hard again, you will have the mental energy to make it happen. Listen to your body and once you feel well rested, you may continue back to your normal running routine.
Don’t forget to celebrate your accomplishments! Download all your race photos, share them on social media or print out your favorites- you can even make a photo album if it’s too hard to choose just one! Regardless of your time, revel in the fact that you crossed a finish line! If there are no races in your future, keep running but don’t concern yourself too much with pace or even distance.
This running season continues for some of us with shorter races like Turkey Trots and Santa Runs. Some of my running clients have been following a 5-week Fit to Run program and we’re considering doing another group race together after Thanksgiving. It’s been amazing watching them improve each week as they’ve gotten fitter, leaner and faster. When they signed up for the program, they were treated with special discounts from a few local places including Spavia, Athleta of Morristown and Verrilli’s Bakery and Pizzeria and I’m sure they’re thinking about treating themselves soon after all their hard work.
A few weeks ago, I became a Certified Revo2lution Running Coach, a certification created by running expert and 2011 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year Dr. Jason Karp. This program was super helpful in providing specific workouts to increase VO₂max, raise the lactate threshold, and improve running economy. This comprehensive certification, which I did online, comprised of the following 8 manuals: Running Physiology, Running Technique, Running Training, Running Workouts, Running Injuries, Running for Weight Loss, Running Programs in Gyms, and REVO₂LUTION RUNNING™ Group Treadmill Class.
I’m full of newfound knowledge and I’m ready to help you with your 2018 running goals, whether it’s your first race or you’re looking to improve your current level, reach out so we can see if we work together!
While I love distance running and have done a few marathons, I strongly believe that short, high intensity workouts can majorly boost fitness while saving you tons of time for others things on your to-do list. In an ideal world, I’d say try doing a combination of both— slow, steady workouts and short, high intensity ones. If you only have time for one, then the latter is what you’ll want to focus on for faster results.
Recent research published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health showed that short bouts of exercise shaved inches off the hips and waistline as well as helped lower blood pressure. When the heart rate is elevated, it causes levels of testosterone to rise, promoting weight loss, muscle mass and high energy levels.
Interval training, especially if weights or resistance are added, is a terrific way to burn fat and calories, hours after your workout is finished. I like to create Circuit Interval Workouts for my Fastinista FitSquad on Fridays, where they will do at least 3 rounds of 40 seconds of intense movement followed by 20 seconds of rest and then a 1 minute rest in between rounds.
Here is a recent workout I created using the 40 on/20 off format:
The beauty of this type of workout is that it takes 23 minutes and you don’t need a lot of equipment. Some of it requires only your own bodyweight, but you are working your entire body, maximizing your caloric and fat burn.
You can use dumbbells for the Row and Swings (if you don’t have a kettlebell), and the dips can be done on a couch, chair or steps. If you are in the market for a versatile and fun piece of equipment, you’ll want to check out the Lebert Equalizer® . What I love about it is that the design is simple (they’re like taller parallettes), they can be easily moved, they’re light and don’t take up too much room. Each bar weighs 8 pounds and can hold up to 400 pounds. I love that I can do more of the gymnastics movements that I loved about CrossFit.
I would recommend using them for the mountain climbers, rows, and dips! You can even use them for burpees: grip one while in plank position, clean it and press as you jump up and enjoy a little extra strength movement. I already have my eye on a couple other of their fun toys to make my FitCampers’ -as well as my own- workouts more fun! 😉 I’m all about making fitness FUN!
I’m an affiliate for Lebert Fitness which means I have an awesome coupon code for $20 OFF to share with my readers: LFI20. The wonderful thing is that you can use it on any of their workouts tools listed below, not just the my particular Equalizer®.
Lebert Fitness Equalizer® YELLOW, PINK or Lime
Lebert Fitness Equalizer® XL – Black/Chrome
Lebert SRT Barbell
Lebert Buddy Systems.
The coupon code can now also be used on the Lebert Parallettes Chrome and the new Natalie Jill Series Rose Gold Equalizers (the one I have!)
By using my link for your purchase, you are helping support this blog which I appreciate very much!
Training for this marathon was an incredible experience as a Mother Runner. I really feel like it helped me bond with Frankie in a special way. I love the fact that now he asks to go for a run in the stroller. It helped us connect while he learned more about a sport that Mommy loves. And bonus for him, he got to spend time outside experiencing all that Mother Nature brings- maybe even a brief bear encounter.
About 2 weeks after I finished the Superhero Half in May, I started contemplating signing up for a full marathon. I figured that since training for 13.1 had gone so well, I could push myself to attempt training for 26.2 while raising a toddler. Some days it was really hard. I was tired. I was cranky. And some days Frankie was. But I’m really proud of the fact that I didn’t miss any runs. I had to modify the mileage sometimes, but otherwise I was able to complete the training plan I had created for myself (based on Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 1 plan). I will blog more about my training in a future post.
When I shared my goals with one of my mommy running friends, she mentioned she was doing the Lehigh Valley Marathon in PA and that I should consider doing it too. This small marathon with a descending course that starts in Allentown and ends in Easton is actually the second fastest marathon in the country, helping many runners qualify for Boston each year. Since it’s less than 2 hours away from me, I thought it would be a convenient one to do. I didn’t really know what sort of goal to give myself. The last time I ran a full, it was NYC in 2014 where I was recovering from ITB and had to deal with crazy wind on race day. I gave myself a range of 3:50-3:45 after feeling really great with the outcome of some of my long runs. Fast forward to late August and two weeks before the marathon, and the weather looked very promising. I told myself that that was my green light to try to run my best marathon and break 3:45. If I could do that then maybe I could start thinking about “chasing Boston” in the near future.
I booked a room at the Holiday Inn in Allentown and they were kind enough to give me a discount in exchange for my honest review on my blog. The location was great as it was less than 15 minutes away from the start, which took place at the Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown. My mom and Frankie were with us so we got a room with two Queen beds and requested a portable crib for Frankie. The room was clean and spacious enough for a quick one night stay for all of us.
Packet pick-up took place in Bethlehem at the Arts Quest Center, across from the SteelStacks. What an awesome place! It used to be the old Bethlehem Steel plant and now is an event venue. It was so beautiful and just something completely unique. We arrived around 3pm and got my bib and swagbag and then walked around the old plant and took some photos. Then we headed to the hotel to check in. Once we arrived there, Frankie, my mom and I stayed in and rested. Frank decided to go out and explore a bit. He texted me saying he found a beer festival just a few blocks away. Definitely a fun thing to run into for my supportive spectator! I was a little sad that I couldn’t enjoy the festival but I was happy he had something fun to do!
We ventured out in the cool evening to find a place to eat and decided to check out an Italian place a few blocks away. It’s been a tradition for my past two marathons that I order gnocchi the night before, so that’s what I did. We finished dinner and headed back to the hotel to let Frankie run around in the lobby a bit before bedtime. Unfortunately I did not sleep very well due to nerves (and Frankie being up late).
I woke up the next morning around 5am and got ready. The fridge didn’t seem to keep my food very cold, which I think led to some issues later. I brought a peanut butter sandwich and a smoothie and had those along with a cup of coffee. I pinned my bib on, put my shoes on and left around 6:15 and was dropped off by Frank who said he’d see me at the half-way point with my mom and Frankie.
I waited around until the official start took place at 7:10am. I ran into another one of my running friends and we wished each other good luck. My Garmin decided to do a restart just as I needed to hit Start so it was off by 2 minutes. The first few miles had some big downhills and I tried to keep myself at a comfortable pace. It was very picturesque, with a cute covered bridge within the first 2 miles. I actually caught up to my friend and we ended up running most of the race together, until around mile 20 when I had to hold back.
I was feeling really great the first few miles, but I think it was around mile 8 that I started getting side stitches- which I never get! I ignored them and tried to keep focusing on running and the beautiful scenery. We got to mile 12 and saw my family but my side stitches were pretty strong at this point. My stomach was hurting pretty badly and I thought maybe I should stop and try to use the bathroom. I told myself that I would try to keep going a couple more miles to see if the pain went away. I couldn’t figure out why this was happening. I had been hydrating the days before and was drinking water at every water station during the race. I was taking my salt tabs and my Honey Stingers like I had practiced. I immediately remembered the fridge was not very cold. Maybe that was it? Oh great, I thought. I have perfect running conditions, I trained so diligently and now I may not beat my goal. Maybe I’ll just try to break 4 hours, I thought.
I kept struggling through the next few miles but it was really nice to see my family again a few miles later. A few times I was tempted to run off into the woods, but I told myself, “You are tough. You are strong. You can push through this.” So then we got to Mile 20. And it was rough. Really rough. We ran past a tiny abandoned cottage that looked like it should be in a fairytale.Then all of a sudden, I see Frank beaming at me and holding a sign that Frankie had made, “Go Julia! Frankie is napping but he sends artwork!” It was the perfect thing to hear and see to give me a little jolt of energy. At this point my friend was feeling great so he took off and I hung back. I knew I couldn’t speed up but I told myself that I would force myself to maintain my current pace. I got to mile 21, then mile 22, then mile 23, then mile 24. I was soo close. I really could do it. I looked at the time. “Wow, I really could get under 3:45 maybe,” I thought. Then it was mile 25 and it seemed to last forever. There was a windy right turn that we had to make just before the Finish Line. I was afraid to look at the time on the clock but I did anyway. It said 3:42-something which meant it was really 3:44-something since my watch was off by 2 minutes. My stomach was hurting so badly and I could feel so much tension in my face but I charged through the last yard, caught sight of my family cheering me on on the sidelines, and sprinted across the finish line with a pained look on my face. I looked at my watch and wasn’t sure if I did or didn’t break 3:45.
My legs were so cramped up at this point that I couldn’t even bend down to sit and rest. Frank found me and helped me down but it wasn’t long til I had to visit the porta-potty. I wasn’t hungry or thirsty but I knew I needed some electrolytes. My father-in-law got me a beer and magically that brought me back to life a little bit. Frank looked up my time on the athlete tracking site and told me that it was 3:44:49- I had pulled it off! We then headed to 3rd and Ferry Fish Market for a celebratory lunch where I enjoyed a much needed burger and beers. Bonus that they offered 10% off to the marathoners.
Overall it was a really nice Marathon- it’s small, scenic, with plenty of shade and well-organized. The fact that it benefits people with disabilities is also a big plus.
My quads were very beat up from all the downhill running and the miles done on a tow path. I rested for 4 days and then slowly started working out and running again. I have a 10K this Sunday and a Half Marathon on the 21st. I’m really hoping for new PRs in these distances too. I’ll keep you posted!
I’ve heard plently of talk about the “dreaded marathon taper” during the past few years of training for marathons. In my case, it is not dread at all. On the contrary, it’s a much needed point in my training. Since last week, I’ve been so ready for the decrease in miles and intensity. My body and mind have put in the work, and I’m feeling ready to rest for the big day.
After all, I’ve worked super hard to get to this point. I never missed a single run, maybe a few miles, but the actual runs were always done. I’ve woken up super early on weekends, I’ve put in hundreds of miles pushing a toddler in a stroller, I’ve endured runs in the heat and humidity, I’ve done my speed work, I’ve put in the time to cross train, I’ve given up some Sunday mornings with my family and some late night outs with friends. All this for one day? Or is it really just for one day? If you learn to look at more than just the time at the finish line, but the actual journey, all that you must learn to overcome to get to the START line and all the work you must put in to help you move along, step by step or stride by stride, to get to the finish, it’s all worth being proud of.
Having a time goal (and a Plan B and Plan C) is awesome, and I’m all about setting goals, but one shouldn’t be too hard on oneself if you fall slightly short. I know the hard training I’ve put in cannot simply be measured in how fast I cross my finish line next Sunday.
This week I’m focusing on rest and active recovery. This weekend was a bit tough in getting in my last “long run” due to Frankie being very sick with croup. I got about 7 miles in but that was good enough. On Labor Day, I coached my Fastinista FitCamp and then went for a short run (just under 3 miles as one last pace test). On Tuesday, I did an easy 3 miler with Frankie; on Wednesday I did 3.5 miles marking my last “real” run for the week, with a short 2 mile shakeout on Saturday. I’m planning on doing a lot of stretching, foam rolling and some core moves and walking on Thursday and Friday and that’s it.
As far as nutrition, I’m planning on upping my carb intake starting today. I usually have a smoothie for breakfast but going forward I will also add a small piece of toast to have with my coffee. Lunch will be sandwiches or salads, and dinners will include healthy protein with gluten-free pasta, quinoa, couscous or sweet potatoes. Or maybe more corn since we have plenty of it right now!
Carrots, zucchini, mango, turmeric, ginger and About Time protein powder.
I will have to take it easy with my alcohol intake as well. As much as I love a glass of wine or beer a few times a week, I need to watch the sugar which tends to hurt my stomach on long runs. That being said, I will certainly need to treat myself to my new favorite Owl’s Brew Classic Tequila, perhaps tomorrow night. You may have seen I recently discovered Owl’s Brew and their brew/tea blends. I tried their 3 beer types and my favorites are the Wicked Watermelon and Summer Blonde- they have slight hints of fruit and botanicals but still taste a bit like a beer. Among the mixers, I have tried “The Classic” craft cocktail mixer which I paired with tequila. It is soo good! Brewed with English breakfast tea and lemon peel with lemon and lime, it is like a mild margarita. I highly recommend it for my tequila drinkers, although you really can mix it with vodka, whiskey, gin or beer as well. Thanks Owl’s Brew for sending me these goodies to try out! I still have the “White and Vine” and “Pink & Black” mixers left to try at my next get-together.
So my little cocktail tomorrow night will be a celebration of my START line. Lehigh Valley Marathon, I’m ready to don that bib and conquer your course!
Make sure to follow my instagram to see how the rest of the week goes and I’m sure I’ll be sharing about my marathon experience sometime next week!
My clients often ask me about what the types of food they should be eating. Once you build a rapport with your clients and give them results, it’s not surprising that they want you to guide them in other areas of their wellness. Following restrictive diets or having to measure each and every ounce of food you consume is not sustainable. I’m a big believer in teaching moderation while still getting people the results they’re looking for. My online clients as well as some of my local ones rely on me for meal ideas and I LOVE sharing with them recipes that are simple and made with mostly all natural ingredients and condiments. Like the ones below!
Summertime means lots of grilling at the Hickman House. Even though my hubby is the Grillmaster of the house, I’m usually the one finding or creating the recipes and doing the prep work. I love finding easy, healthy yet flavor-packed meals that can be easily modified. To my luck, I came across Madison Park Foods, a local brand of seasonings and rubs and, after a quick look at their website, I knew I had to try them out. I have partnered with them to create the recipes below. As always, all opinions are my own.
The first recipe here is a Bloody Mary encrusted chicken with sweet corn on the cob. Frank loooves Bloody Marys (the spicier the better) so I was excited to create a meal using this lovely red rub that could work double duty. Please note that both of these recipes make about 3-4 servings.
Bloody Mary-Encrusted Chicken with Sweet Corn on the Cob
Preheat grill on high, 5 minutes. Once hot, carefully use tongs to rub an oiled paper towel over grates to clean and ensure no food residue or dirt.
Using long tongs, place chicken breasts on grill and cook, covered on high, 3 minutes. Flip breasts and continue cooking on high, 3 more minutes.
Reduce grill heat to low and flip chicken again. Place ears of corn on grill. Cover and continue cooking, 3 minutes more. Flip chicken again and cook 3 more minutes on low.
To serve, remove chicken and corn to plate. Squeeze lime juice on chicken.
We served this with a Greek-style salad made with spinach, cucumber, tomatoes and olives; inspired by a salad my friend Nisha brought over for dinner recently. I drizzled a little extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and a dash of salt on it, but I would even do a sweeter dressing to offset the spiciness of the Bloody Mary rub. And we rimmed our tequila glasses with it as well.
To my delight, Madison Park Foods also has a Chimichurri rub that I knew right away I would try on my next asado. Before I even tasted it, I loved looking at the colors in the tub. This versatile mix has garlic, onion, salt, red bell pepper and parsley and cilantro as some of its ingredients. Don’t be shy to try Chimichurri on other types of meat though; we love it on white fish too!
Season both sides of steak with 1 teaspoon of Dos Gauchos mix and let sit for 1 hour.
Prepare the grill on high heat. Mix olive oil and remaining Dos Gauchos mix and grill the steaks to desired doneness, about 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare, turning steaks 1/4 turn after 1 1/2 minutes to form crisscross grill marks, if desired.
Transfer steaks to cutting board; let rest 5 minutes before serving.
We served the asado with a side of store-bought French fries (can be substituted with sweet potato fries or forgone altogether) which we also threw on the grill. You can certainly brush your steak with a little more olive oil but we chose to take it easy as we were having not-so-healthy fries as our side. We did do a chopped salad made with cabbage, romaine lettuce, some kale, green onions, carrots and a sprinkling of sunflower seeds and used a sweet onion dressing over it.
Both of these recipes are simple and perfect to make for these last summer grilling days with the all natural seasonings from Madison Park Foods. I can’t wait to try more of their products soon!