My Half Marathon Comeback 

This may not be a huge deal for some people. Heck, there are running moms out there who run marathons right away after giving birth. For me it was a big deal because it was a long, long break from long distance running. I didn’t think I had time to train…I had to learn to MAKE time. And I had to train smart and make the most out of the minimal time I had.


If you had told me 2 months ago that I would be running a half marathon and crushing my last PR, I would’ve said, “Are you kidding me?!” I wasn’t sure I could train properly with my busy mom life. At first, I told my husband I wanted to just run the relay for the Superhero Half, a local company that puts together 5Ks and half marathons. We had, after all, been running this event for 5 years in a row now (last year I only did the relay though as I was only 5 ½ months PP) and I didn’t want to stop my streak.


I looked at the calendar and saw that I had just enough time to get some decent training in. During the week, I got my stroller miles in and did some strength training. I took it easy on my long runs on Sundays with the local group I run with, but then I slowly started to gather…confidence. I was already pretty fit and I truly believe in muscle memory, but it was the process of letting my self-confidence take over that allowed me to get faster in my runs, both with and without the stroller.

So then it was a couple of weeks before the Half, when I looked at my progress and realized I needed to reassess my goals. I was thinking that finally breaking 1:48 would be really nice. Maybe even to get to 1:45. And then I analyzed my Strava data from my last long run and saw that I ran it at the same pace I did that 1:48 Half marathon a couple of years ago. When my running friend, Massoud, said to me that I should run with the 1:45 pace group and then take off if I felt good, I thought, Hmm maybe I can…

We had incredibly beautiful weather that May morning. My husband ran the first part of the relay and stayed with me until his part was done. We stayed with the 1:45 pacers but then slowly got in front of them. Once I was on my own, I stayed well ahead of the pacers and could hear them saying remark that I was actually pacing them. I kicked it up a notch at mile 9 and felt like I was flying at mile 10. I had to dial it back a little bit because I didn’t want to empty my tank too soon. I was feeling extremely exhausted at mile 12.5 but I knew the Finish Line was so close so I maintained my speed and then went into my kick for the last few hundred yards. I glanced at the clock but felt like my vision was a little blurry. Did it really say 1:43? I stopped my watch as soon as I crossed the finish and accepted my finisher’s medal. I looked down at my watch and it said 1:43:33! It was an amazing feeling of accomplishment.


MoralS of the story, don’t think it’s too late to start something. Don’t think you’ve taken too much time off. Don’t listen to self-doubt. Run when you can, run happy and run strong. Whether it’s 17 months or 17 years post-partum 😉

Xo,

Julia

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Conquering some fears at the Jersey City Challenge 

Last Saturday, I woke up with almost no voice, not quite sure if I was going to be accomplishing what I had signed up for many months prior. I was supposed to do my first obstacle race, the Jersey City Challenge, but I was still getting over a cold and now had lost my voice. The hubby was sure I was going to say we should just chalk it up as a sunk cost, but I told him to give me til after breakfast. And so…I had my coffee and breakfast and said, Let’s do this!

I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel during the race. Would I start coughing and have to stop? I decided it was worth it to at least get there and see how far I could go. 

It was a chilly, rainy day as we arrived in Jersey City. We brought a backpack to check in (for $5) with a change of clothes and where we could leave our wallets and phones. That was a nice thing they offered and we didn’t mind spending a few extra dollars for it. The bib pick up was slow- surprisingly there was only one person trying to help everyone. Although they do highly suggest that people pick up their bibs ahead of time, that’s just not posible for some of us non-locals. Hopefully they realize this and make it easier for next time.

I had not intended to do this race for time. I didn’t even wear a watch. However, I knew that chances were high that I’d get stuck behind people in front of me so I made sure to sprint between obstacles to give myself the best workout I could.

The penalty for not completing an obstacle was 30 jumping squats. The obstacles included barricades, cargo nets, walls of different heights, and a pyramid that had to be climbed. There was also a reverse wall and a rope climb. Oh and we had to jump over a cop car and taxi cab. I chose going on top of the cop car- that felt pretty badass.


 Prior to running it, I was fearful that the walls were all going to be super high and that my fear of my heights would get the best of me and I’d had to skip some, but it turned out to not be the case. It must’ve been partly due to the adrenaline that I felt- I got through all just fine and was really proud of myself. I climbed the rope all the way up and rang the bell! I even got half way through the rings which were set up on monkey bars (and so I did my 15 penalty squats). Those were among my top two highlights of the race.


There were also other CrossFit-type obstacles like box jumps, kettlebell swings, sandbag carries, heavy jump ropes and bear crawls. The heavy jump ropes were super hard! There was also a balance beam and I ended up having to get help from the City Challenge Staff because it was super tricky. I think that if I took my time and didn’t rush through it, I could’ve done it a little better. 


So my lack of voice or any other doubts or discomforts didn’t hinder me. Would I do this event again? I think if a group of my friends wanted to do it, I definitely would again. A bonus was that there was no gross mud involved. After all, their motto is, “Think outside the mud!” It’s one of those things that you do for the experience. To test your strength and your fears. To have fun! It was not something I cared to do for time.  I’ll leave that to my running races. 


Xo, 

Julia 

Stroller runs are fun!

I’ve been taking Frankie out on the stroller the past few weeks and it’s going great so far. I was nervous that he would start complaining after just a mile or 2 but we’ve done up to 4 miles so far. Success! 


It has been really fun going out and spending time outside with Frankie. Sometimes we run to the park which we are so fortunate to have so many in our vicinity in Morris County.

I remember how hard it felt to push the stroller last year when I would run with him occasionally. Umm and it’s only gotten harder now that he’s 25+ pounds! I’ve been looking on Instagram and online for bloggers who may be training for runs with a stroller but haven’t been very successful. If you are one and I missed you, please comment and let’s connect! I feel like I’m going sooo slow in the BOB, so it’s hard to gauge how I would do in a race.


Speaking of which, I’m doing my first 2017 5K this Sunday (after skipping out on one due to super cold weather last month). And I’m contemplating doing a Half next month. I know I can do a half but the competitor in me wants to test my speed first before I commit. 


Have you trained for a race while racking up miles in a stroller? I’ll take any tips! 🙂 

Xoxo,

Julia 

One Year Blog Anniversary 

It’s been a year since I started this blog, mainly to keep myself motivated and accountable for staying active during my pregnancy. I don’t get a chance to post as often as I wish to but I really enjoy having this space to share with you about my life and workouts. 


This past weekend I ran my first post-pregnancy 5K. And boy did I surpass my expectations. I didn’t give myself a goal although I was secretly hoping to do it under 24 minutes…and I didn’t even wear my watch…I ended up running my second fastest 5K to date! According to my phone it was 23:15 but Strava said 22:45.

If you’ve been reading my posts you know I don’t get to run often- usually 2 mile runs on the treadmill or with Frankie in the stroller. I also have been coaching more CrossFit so I don’t get yo work out as often. I guess my takeaway is that LESS is more!

Another fun thing about the 5K is that I got to meet a new group of runners- the Asuncion Runners NJ. It’s a satellite branch of the Asuncion, Paraguay group that we’re a part of. We actually all walked away with awards! I got my first trophy ever 🙂


It might be too hot today to run with Frankie but I’m hoping to do my usual 2 miles on the treadmill while he naps and then a circuit workout once he’s awake.

Here’s an easy and simple equipment-free WOD:

15 AMRAP

10 burpees 

20 lunges

30 push-ups 

40 sit-ups 

50 mountain climbers

60 jumping jacks

Today also happens to be Frankie’s Half Birthday 🙂 And tomorrow is my birthday! Hop over to Instagram to see how we celebrate!


Cheers, 

Julia

First Post-Baby Race

On Sunday, I did a half marathon relay with Frank right here in our town. I’ve been doing the full, half marathon for a few years now but this year I wasn’t ready for the 13.1 yet. 

Our friend here has run 70 marathons! Including one in every state 😱

It was a bit cool in the morning, but the sun was out- thank God, because later in the day it got cloudy and very windy!

I ran the shorter distance of roughly 5.4 and Frank did the remaining 7.7 miles. There were lots of rolling hills in the portion that I ran and man, I was feeling them! My average pace was 8:15 and I was ok with that. It’s what I’ve been doing 3 miles in lately. As you can see in the image below, we placed 14th out of 108 and were in the top 87% overall! It gave me just the motivation I needed to keep going, keep running. Even if the treadmill gets boriiing.


I’m feeling stronger and slowly getting closer to old Olympic lifting maxes again. It’s funny how things are- I really thought I’d be in running shape faster than CrossFit shape…but I did stop running lonnnng before I stopped WODing ☺️

To all busy ladies (and gents too), keep doing what you’re doing. Stay safe but stay active! 
Xoxo 

6 tips to help you enjoy running

I’ve been a runner for a long time though I only started calling myself one about 5 years ago when I started training for my first half marathon. I thought if I didn’t run several times a week, year-around, and wasn’t doing high mileage, I wasn’t a “real” runner. I was mistaken.

Running the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge last year when I was about 9 weeks pregnant.

Whether you run a little or run a lot, you’re a runner…or you can become one.

 I remember training for my first half marathon and feeling so daunted by the training plan I followed. But it got easier. What was the secret? I just stuck with it. There were days when I was too tired or too sore or something came up and I missed my run– but that was ok. I allowed myself breaks here and there. I just knew I had to “bring it” next time.

Last summer I held a 4-week running clinic with some of my CrossFitters and other non-members to coach them into finishing a 5K- the first 5K for several of them. I hope to be able to carve some time out to do another clinic this Spring or Summer. 

In the meantime, I’m sharing my tips on making running feel a little easier- maybe even a little more enjoyable…so that you get out there and stick with it 🙂

  
1) Stay positive: 

If you tell yourself you hate running, running might hate you back. Just kidding. But seriously. If you can run 400 meters, you can run a mile. If you can run a mile, you can run a 5K, etc. 

Believe it and you will do it. 

2) It’s OK to walk!:

This is important because I know some people feel like if you are not running the whole time, then it doesn’t count. Wrong. There is no such rule. And actually walking is great because it allows you to use different muscles and give a break to the muscles you use when you’re running. When you walk you may feel it more in your glutes, whereas when you’re running, you may feel it more in your quads and hamstrings. 

I had my runners last year do run/walk combos to get them ready for the 5K. All of them beat their goals of finishing under a specific time. For example, I had them walk 5 minutes, then run 10 minutes, and so on until they were walking for a shorter amount of time or distance and running for a longer amount of time or distance. Start slow and build up your endurance.

In the first marathon I ran, I incorporated walk breaks and ended up finishing in 4:02, feeling like I could’ve kept going!

3) Breathe:

Many of my CrossFit trainees ask me about this and it’s actually what inspired me to write this post. How you breathe makes a huge difference in how you feel about not only running but any type of exercise that brings your heart rate up. 

The first thing is to make sure you’re taking big yoga-type breaths through your mouth, breathing from your diaphragm or belly rather than just your chest. You need as much oxygen as possible so make sure you take BIG breaths.

You may want to try following a 2:2 pattern where you inhale for 2 steps, exhale for 2 steps. The ratio can vary from person to person depending on speed (in fact, I’ve read about a 3:2 ratio in a running magazine) but it can give you something to pay attention to as you run to make sure you’re breathing correctly. You can find more info on these ratios on http://www.competitor.com and http://www.active.com. 

Just remember to relax and your body will know what to do. 

4) Practice Good Form:

As with any exercise, like CrossFit for example, the better your form, the more you will get out of it and the more you will prevent injuring yourself. When running, stay light on your feet, land toe to mid foot (not your heels!), and keep your chest up.  Keep your shoulders down and pull your navel towards your spine just like you would in CrossFit.

5) Wear the Right Shoes:

Don’t run in 5 year old sneakers! Go to a running store and have one of their trained staff help you find the right shoes for you. Once you find ones that work, stick with them. 

6) Listen to Music:

Play tunes that inspire you and get you revved up. You may find yourself running faster without even realizing it 🙂

One last secret I want to share is that I don’t always love running. My husband says the same thing. We love the feeling we get after a run. That sense of accomplishment. But sometimes the run itself sucks! Haha

I hope this post was helpful in getting you started with running 🙂 I could probably go into more detail on some of these topics so let me know if you have any questions in the comments. Or if anyone has any additional tips they’d like to share, please do so! 

Thank you for reading,

~Julia

  

Nektar Honey Crystals Review

Hi there! Happy Monday 🙂 Today I want to talk about a new product I just discovered. Nektar Naturals makes these honey granules that are pretty “sweet”- pun intended. Not only is it a healthy, gluten-free, GMO free product, but it’s so great and convenient that they’re crystals, so you don’t get the sticky mess that usually comes along with honey. 

  
I love having a slice of gluten-free toast with almond butter and a few drizzles of honey as a snack- but I looooved being able to sprinkle some honey crystals instead. No more honey dripping everywhere! I received a free bottle from Nektar Naturals to review but you can pick one up at Whole Foods, Kings or Shop Rite among other health food stores. Give it a try. They have some great recipes in their website too: http://www.nektarnaturals.com. 

I’m currently 35 weeks- yay! Almost there 🙂 I’ve been feeling great physically, still working out a few days a week doing what I can. Mentally though…I gotta say I have a bad case of “pregnancy brain.” 😁

This was one of my WODs last week. Check it out:

50 ball slams (10# ball)

50 Double-unders

40 box step-ups

40 side bends (15# DB)

30 ring rows 

30 pregnant burpees

20 squat cleans (15# DB)

20 push jerks (DB)

10 single arm snatches (DB)

10 box push ups 

I kept the weights light and kept my focus on form. It was challenging but I felt awesome afterwards. My goal is to workout at least 3 times a week for the next few weeks. And I’m already thinking of possible races to run in the spring 😊

Have a great night, 

Xoxo

Halloween/Marathon Weekend Recap

What a great weekend of nice weather, Halloween workouts, and shopping! I programmed a fun Halloween-themed WOD for Saturday’s class which seemed to be a big hit. I even gave out a prize of some AboutTime protein powder to the best costume. Winners of the 5-minute plank challenge got some awesome pink Sweat Pink shoelaces 🙂

    
This week I’m 32 weeks pregnant which means I’m officially in month 8! My mom and I had a nice time at the mall shopping for Baby Hicky. Pottery Barn Kids was having a 20% off sale so we bought the rest of the items left on my registry. On sale items we got 10% off which is their registry completion discount. This kid made out pretty well!

The hubby and I also enjoyed a nice romantic date night at a local restaurant. I wore this sexy Splendid dress and over the knee Stuart Weitzman boots 😉  
  And it was the 1 year anniversary of my running the NY Marathon! That was truly an amazing experience.  
What did you do for Halloween? Have you run the NY Marathon- or hope to do so one day?

Xo,

Julia

Falling into fitness

I was just thinking about my first half marathon 4 years ago in Seaside Heights…It was an awesome, kinda crazy experience that led me to run 8 more half marathons and 2 full marathons. And I’m not planning on stopping. 2016 races, I’m coming for ya! 

Fall is a great time to kick it up a notch. The weather is more pleasant, the colors are beautiful- it just makes you want to get outside. Unfortunately I’m stuck indoors 99% of the time, but if you’re not in the same boat as I am, you should definitely be doing some outdoor workouts including running 🙂

Last night at CrossFit we did one of the benchmark WODs, Cindy. Although I feel like it should be renamed “Frank” because my husband loooves it and is constantly trying to get more reps every time he does it.

It consists of a 20 minute AMRAP of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 air squats. 

I used rubber bands for the pull-ups, but you can also do ring rows if you can’t do pull-ups. I also did push-ups on my knees. 

It’s all body-weight but man, you’re feeling out of breath by the 5th round with all that metabolic conditioning! 

So these are my last few days in my 2nd trimester…I can’t sleep very well and I’m starting to get anxious about getting stuff done around the house before baby’s arrival. Ahh! 

Hope you have a nice rest of the week 🙂

Xo

 

Week 27 bump!
  
  
My first half at Seaside Heights 🙂
 

An exciting time in my life…

Just a few days ago, I shared on social media that…I’m going to be a mommy at the end of the year! The outpouring of love and well-wishes has been incredible. 6 months is going to go by super fast! My due date is December 27th, so it could very well be a Christmas bebe that we get.

Over the next few months I’ll be sharing how I modify my workouts. The first trimester was definitely rough- I was tired a lotttt, so I didn’t work out as much.  Now at 14 weeks, I have a little more energy, so I’m really trying to workout about 4 times a week. Unfortunately I haven’t been running as much, and I’m starting to really miss it! It’s just been tough because I get really thirsty and then I have to pee; it’s a vicious cycle. I’m sure other mama-to-bes can relate!

As of now, I’ve just reduced my intensity in all my WODs, making sure I’m getting sufficient rest and drinking water throughout the workouts. I’ve also stopped doing sit-ups and handstand push-ups and keep my weights lighter. I’m starting to wonder if I should stop doing kipping pull-ups- would it pull on my belly too much? The main point of exercising right now is to stay healthy and strong to be ready for the most important event in my life, which is to bring a little human into the world 🙂

My announcement on Instagram and Facebook
My announcement on Instagram and Facebook
Baby's First Half on May 17th at the Superhero Half in Morristown (8 weeks)
Baby’s First Half on May 17th at the Superhero Half in Morristown (8 weeks)
15 weeks. Waiting for the bump! Excuse my bedhead...
15 weeks. Waiting for the bump! Excuse my bedhead…