Lehigh Valley Marathon Recap

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!

Xo,

Julia

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Back on the Barbell

I had my postnatal OB appointment on Friday and got the “official” green light to resume my workouts…so what did I the next day? Went down to my basement to do a barbell WOD, of course!

Although I had been carefully doing a few light workouts here and there, including the “no crunches challenge”I had previously posted about, now I have the confidence to increase my intensity and weights a little bit more.

With The CrossFit Open just a few weeks away, I’m feeling like I’ll definitely be ready to do the workouts, although I will have to scale back.

So yesterday I warmed up by doing a few stretches and double unders followed by…

4 rounds of:

30 jumping jacks

10 barbell thrusters (45#)

20 deadlifts (45#)

The 4th round was super tough! I was feeling those thrusters! Although the DLs were very light, the higher reps still got my lower body going…my butt is especially feeling a bit sore today 🙂

I finished off the workout by doing some shoulder work with my small 5# plates- just 2 rounds of 12 shoulder raises, 10 lateral raises, and 10 strict presses.

I hope you have a great Valentine’s Day! We’re staying in and cuddling all day and then Frank and I are watching The Walking Dead 🙂

Happy Sunday!

First Post-natal WOD

It’s been 2 weeks + 1 day since I gave birth to my little Frankie (have you seen all his cute pictures on my Instagram?!? @juliafastinista) and this mama is ready to start getting back in shape! Although I have done little things here and there before yesterday, like push-ups off my couch, leg extensions and weight-less arm curls, I don’t consider them real workouts yet as I was only testing out what my body could handle. I did, after all, not only have a C-section, but I went through hours of labor and pushing prior to that.

 

LSIT
Doing L pull-ups last year…can’t wait to do these again soon!

So yesterday, while my son was napping, I did 3 rounds of:

20 Deadlifts

16 Bicep Curls

10 Push Presses

16 Side Bends

I used my 8-pound dumbbells as usual…

Ideally, I would love to be ready to do the CrossFit Open WODs next month and kill them, but… I won’t be too hard on myself if I have to do a lot of scaling back.

Please don’t think that just because I’m already working out 2 weeks post-partum, that you should be too. Everyone is different. The last thing you want is to get injured and have a big setback. Please be careful and always, always consult with your doctor first.

I just want to say that staying active has been a huuuge help in helping me bounce back. I fit in my skinny jeans just a week later. Now I’m almost pooch-free…just didn’t have time to take a photo.

Have a happy and healthy day! xoxo

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

I’m stent-free!

You may have read my past posts and already know about how I had a stent put in my ureter after a scary kidney infection while I was 19 weeks pregnant. It has been painful and uncomfortable and my OB and the urologist finally gave me their blessing to have it removed, which I did yesterday. It was supposed to stay in until post-partum, but it only got worse as baby started pushing (and kicking) down on my bladder more and more. I can’t wait to feel more normal again within the next day or so.

 I’m just feeling so thankful to my husband and mom especially who have been super awesome over the past (almost) 3 months. Other family members and friends have been great too. I had to work from home, and even then I hardly left my couch. I’m really looking forward to going out for walks around my new neighborhood and enjoying the beautiful autumn weather. Maybe I’ll even be able to run a little bit too. 

Rest has definitely been a priority the past week, which is fine. The body needs rest! Stay tuned to see how I do and the workouts I do going forward 🙂

Xoxo

Julia

Bridesmaid Workout and More…

This past weekend was a busy, fun one celebrating the wedding of one of my long-time best friends. I didn’t do much working out but hey, walking around taking bridal party photos and doing some dancing definitely count as exercise 😉

The bride looked so stunning… 

 The 3 of us ❤  The bride and I

   Check out my cool ‘do! 
Yesterday I was back at it and did a modified version of the WOD below. I did 35# thrusters and did my pregnant burpees. I knew I’d be hurting afterwards (due to my stent) but to me the rewards of doing a little physical activity outweighs the pain.

 
I’m 26 weeks now and I can’t believe that I have just 3 more months to go! Baby Room Decorating will officially start this weekend- I’ll be posting a before and after so be sure to check back! 

Xo, 

Julia

Monday Mode

Happy Monday! I’m continuing my productive mode after getting a few important things accomplished this weekend. The hubby and I bought a car (2012 RAV4 Limited Edition), picked out and bought some paint for Baby Hicky’s room and visited the inlaws who gave us some stuff for the house. I got a lot of work done today so I’m feeling good! 

Here’s a simple workout I did late last week that’s perfect for a mama-to-be: 

10 lateral arm extensions (each arm)

15 dumbbell deadlifts 

30 sec plank 

40 side bends 

Then without the dumbbells do: 

10 leg kickbacks (each leg)

10 side leg lifts (each leg)

Repeat 3 times! 

Tonight I’ll be doing Revie’s workout below. Have you guys seen her site? She’s the super cute owner of an all girls CrossFit gym in Australia, CrossFit Babes. She also happens to be pregnant right now so I’m following her workouts closely 🙂

  
I hope my workouts are to your liking. I’m already thinking of starting a home gym for when baby is here and I want to work out more at home 🙂

Here’s the latest belly pic. I love the bright yellow sports bra I had on. It’s a great color and the fabric is very comfortable. It’s by Albion Fit and I actually won it from a giveaway they hosted a little while ago. But hey, funny how you can still see some ab definition…hopefully this means I’ll whip myself back into shape quickly 😉

  
Xo, 

Julia 

Throwback to Puerto Rico

I was reminiscing on a fun trip to Puerto Rico that the hubby and I took (see some photos below) It was in early February, right after the Holidays. We escaped winter for a little bit and recharged our batteries. We enjoyed delicious food and drinks but also went for runs and used our hotel gym. It was a great way to kick off 2015 and the many extraordinary things that  have occurred this year. 

Let me tell you about my workouts this week…yesterday, I was feeling good and relatively pain-free so when I saw overhead squats in the WOD I told myself I’d try them but with the lightest barbell. 

It was a 15 AMRAP:

6 OHS (35#)

8 Push Presses (35#)

10 Preggo Burpees

I was able to do 8 full rounds with a couple of minutes to spare.

Tonight, I stayed home and did a quick 3 rounds with my 8# dumbbells:

20 biceps curls 

25 squats

8 tricep extensions (each arm)

40 side bends 

The workout above would be perfect for someone easing their way back to working out. Simple, but effective movements. 

I hope to continue feeling better! Please wish me luck 🙂 

Here are some Puerto Rico pics:  

    
    
    
     
  

22 weeks!

I was in a great mood yesterday . The weather was perfect and I was in much less pain than usual. 

I made it to the gym to do a nice circuit workout modified to be:

45 seconds on, 15 seconds off:

Side lunges

Push press (10#)

Rower

Plate rotations w/toe touch

Wall balls (10#)

Repeat 4 times 

I’m 22 weeks now and feeling Baby’s kicks even more. It’s such an awesome feeling, especially after our scary experience, to know he’s in there and he’s ok. I can’t wait to meet him 🙂