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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5 Tips for Exercising in the Heat

July tends to bring super hot temperatures here in North Jersey and if you’re training for a marathon that means having to be outside often in scorching, humid conditions. I have had some tough runs in the heat but made it through them by training smart and drinking plenty of water. Whether you have a long distance event in the books or are doing an outdoor workout class, here are some tips to help you survive the heat.


1.) Hydrate… a lot.  Drinking before or after is not always sufficient. When temperatures are high, it’s best to also hydrate during your sweat session. I recommend carrying water with you so you can reach for it easily. I wear a hydration belt on my long runs but if you’re a class-taker or gym-goer here’s a stainless steel bottle (only $15!) to bring along with you. It’s also important to replenish electrolytes, so a post-workout sports drink is essential for that. I like Nuun Active tablets. They have pretty clean ingredients and the flavors are not too overpowering.

2) Wear light-colored, sweat-wicking clothing. Save the dark colors for fall and winter and pull out your white tank tops and grey shorts. Avoid cotton as it will just stick to you, weigh you down and possibly even irritate your skin. I love MPG Sport for their affordable and cute tank tops for women. There are also times when you just have to workout in your sports bra, and you know what? That’s totally fine! There are some really cute ones at MPG too.

3) Keep It Brief. There will be times when you will need to cut it short or split up your runs or workouts. I usually have to do 2 runs- one in the mornings with Frankie while it’s still not too hot out and another one on the treadmill while he’s napping. It can get done- you just have to be flexible.

Stroller running around town

4) Wear sunscreen! Make sure you protect your skin, even on cloudy days. I always keep a bottle of sunscreen in the garage by the running stroller. Wear a hat or visor and try to stay in shady areas.

Running in shady part of Patriot’s Path

5) Take a cold shower. Although I usually do this after a workout, some people will also do it right before. It may also help wake you up if you have a super early morning wake up call.

Train smart and enjoy these last few weeks of summer. Working out in hot conditions definitely helps toughen up my mental game, so take away what you can from the tough workouts. They’ll make you a better athlete!

Today I did my long run, I have a few chores around the house, then we’ll be visiting my best friend and her family for a BBQ and kiddie play time, and then I’ll be back home finalizing some workouts for my first week of Small Group Training Classes which I’m SO SO excited about!

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

xo,

Julia

There are affiliate links included in this post that I may earn a small percentage from should you choose to make a purchase- at no additional cost to you.

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 

Easy Treadmill Speedwork

Hello friends! Happy Tuesday. I have to admit, my running has been slacking the past 2 months or so, and except for the run we did while traveling in California last month, my mileage has been pretty nonextistent. 

Trail run in Sausalito, CA in February.

So what’s the best way to get out of a running slump? Signing up for a race! The hubby and I will be doing our local St Paddy’s 5K on Saturday. Obviously not aiming for any PRs, but just looking to get our groove back a little bit. I think that with Spring being right around the corner, I’ll be more motivated to get Frankie out in the BOB too!


Here’s a nice and easy speedwork workout I created. You can increase the easy and fast running if you’re training for a longer race.

Run 1/2 mile at a comfortable/easy pace. For me that was 8:30 pace.

Then alternate with a very easy jog for .2 mile (for me that was 9:31 pace), and then a sprint for .2 mile (for me that was 6:58 pace). Repeat for 2.5 miles (for a total of 3 miles).

Today I will be doing some barbell squats and core work and get back to running tomorrow.

Follow me on Instagram to see how I do on the 5K! @thepetitefastinista 


Xo,

Julia

Running happy 

I had back-to-back running days this weekend and loved it. I didn’t get a chance to do my once a week run last weekend so I was glad I was able to get these in. 

Saturday I did the same 5K loop I had done the past 2 times and shaved 2 minutes off my previous time (which was 30 minutes). I’m finally starting to feel like my old running self! 

   
I finished the run by doing a few sprints up and down my driveway. And can we just say how cute these leggings are? I got them from my local Athleta store recently.   
Later that afternoon, I did another workout:

1 round of

15 burpees

1 power clean (65#)

5 front squats (65#)

20 double unders

3 pull ups

3 toes to bar

Then, rounds 2-4 I did 15 deadlifts instead of the clean/squat movement. 

On Sunday, the hubby and I were supposed to go to CrossFit but overslept (thanks, daylight savings time!) so we went on a quick 25-minute run instead. The legs were feeling tired but I managed to make it through without any stopping 🙂

Today is my mom’s birthday, so there will be some indulging and I’ll probably take a rest day. 

Happy Monday to all! 😀

Running Comeback and Booty Challenge

It’s been getting quite difficult finding the time to post, but I wanted to do a quick update on my current status…starting the post on Monday night while Frankie is sleeping and I’m enjoying a margarita because it’s #nationalmargaritaday so this mama had a few minutes to spare. By the way, seems like everyday is “national something day!” 

  
On Saturday, I went on my first run since late July. The weather here in North NJ was just beautiful, with some sun and temps in the 50s. My hubby took me on his usual route through a trail by our house which included a couple of hilly spots. Although I had to slow down a few times to walk briefly, I felt great the whole time. Though my legs felt a bit heavy and rusty, my breathing seemed ok. It really is amazing how the human body works and that I was able to maintain a decent pace after months of no running. In case you’re wondering, we did a 5K distance in 30:32. Far off from my best time of 22:38 but I’ll take it! 

I’m also doing a 14-day “booty challenge.” It’s another one of Sara Haley’s fitness challenges which I’ve talked about before. If you’d like to check it out, go to http://www.sarahaley.com- you can download the workouts for free. The “hydrant kick” and “tail wag” are my favorite moves. I decided to combine this booty challenge with my own version of the last 2 weeks of her “no crunches” challenge and so far it’s been a great daily workout. Today that included  3 rounds of a 1 minute plank, 30 second alternating single leg plank, 30 plank jacks and 30 alternating “pigeon and planks.”Feeling the burn in the abs and booty already and I’m only on day 4 🙂

  
So the CrossFit Open begins this Thursday and I’m feeling so nostalgic that I won’t be able to kill it like I did last year (well, for me). I’m not even sure yet if I’ll be doing it at my box. It’s difficult to commit when you have an 8-week old! 

For more frequent updates, you can see my Instagram page @juliafastinista

Stay healthy! 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 🙂
 

Outdoor workout and a growing tummy

Here is a workout I came up with on the fly this past Saturday when I couldn’t find the key to the gym- oops! 

Run 400 meters

Then do 5 rounds of: 

40 jumping jacks 

20 push-ups 

20 lunges 

40 air squats

Finish with a 400 meter run

  
Baby Hickman has made his/her presence known over the past week- I’ve been feeling the squirms, kicks and potential somersaults that this baby is doing! I can actually see my tummy moving as I get poked by this little acrobat- kinda cool and kinda freaky at the same time.

I still haven’t been running, which makes me a little anxious, as I really love to run and get a little jealous when I see someone jogging outside. All the pulling and stretching going on just feels too uncomfortable and I can’t handle the bouncing. Is this what I get for having tight abs?? 

Would love to hear anyone else’s experience with how they’re handling working out and pregnancy 🙂