Training Tuesday: Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon Weeks 1-6

Surely you didn’t think the running stopped after my “incident” with a bear on the trail, did you? Nope, it’s time to start up my weekly training posts again and this time I’m diving into my preparation for the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon on October 21, 2018.

Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon: The Details

First, you notice that guy in the picture with me? We are doing this thing together! Greg is returning to his hometown to run his first ever half marathon. This will be number four for me. I promise you I didn’t have to drug him to get him to say yes to registering…and it just might lead to him joining me on May 5 for Pittsburgh…we’ll see. Probably good to note that as of right now he’ll be finishing about 50 minutes ahead of me, but that’s fine with me!

This 13.1 mile race (a half marathon) will be on Sunday, October 21 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We started our 16-week training plan on July 2 and have occasionally trained together. I’m a bit behind on sharing the journey, so let’s hop to it!

Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon Training: Week One (July 2-8)

Oh boy. It started off bad. We got home on July 1 from our family holiday picnic and had no air conditioning…for three and a half weeks. Neither of us ran until July 5, so the first week was basically a bust.

Thursday 7/5: 2.25 miles, 12’09″/mile. I was feeling the effects of no a/c and eating a tub of strawberry shortcake (aka my feelings). Slugh.

Friday 7/6: Crossfit WOD in 27:37 This one had a lot of running. I sweated a lot. Why is it so hot at 5 am?!?!

Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon Training: Week Two (July 9-15)

I can’t even tell you what but my Monday run didn’t happen either, so I had to do two runs back-to-back this week. You think I’d get with the program!

Tuesday 7/10: 2.01 miles, 10’42″/mile. Traffic made me miss running outside so I forced a treadmill run and crushed it. Pretty happy with this one.

Wednesday 7/11: 2.0 miles, 10’38″/mile. It was our anniversary, so Greg and I went to the Y before going to Fogo de Chao to eat all the meat. Having my husband beside me on a treadmill pushes me out of the hamster wheel my mind is known to go to!

Thursday 7/12: Crossfit WOD. Hit the time cap but still pretty proud I was able to get as far as I did.

Saturday 7/14: 3.0 miles, 12’03″/mile. That treadmill needs to be my friend more often. When I hit the trail, I struggled. It was humid and I felt alone. I was even pushing because I had a church event to get to. Struggle bus, but still 1 second faster than my PR for the half. Save racing for race day?

Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon Training: Week Three (July 16-22)

This week was pretty tough. I was going away for my Thirty-One Conference at was super pumped up and I was testing out SilverSport clothing; however, I struggled because of outdoor running and a small injury.

Monday 7/16: 3.0 miles, 12’08″/mile. This was a run at home with some trail, some hills, and running by the river. I was pretty happy afterward, even with the slower pace.

Wednesday 7/18: 2.0 miles, 11’41″/mile. Running before work is one of my favorite things to do, but not when I turn too fast and roll an ankle. I hobbled through the rest of the day and was quite excited to get to the chiropractor and get it adjusted. Even though I felt good after, I was definitely treading lightly from then out for the next week.

Saturday 7/21: Recumbent Bike. I was at conference staying at a 3-star hotel and the area wasn’t great. I got almost 20K steps in on Saturday and Sunday but wasn’t impressed with the fitness center in my hotel. Glad I’ve done this a few times before and know the next few weeks are much more crucial for me.

Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon Training: Week Four (July 23-29)

The pace is kicking it up! We finally have our A/C back and I think I’ve hit my groove.

Tuesday 7/24: 3.0 miles, 11’29″/mile. Only felt like quitting this treadmill run four times, all in the first mile. I slowed it down compared to other treadmill runs because the ankle was still tender, but still did work. Glad to have my running buddy beside me, too!

Thursday 7/26: 2.0 miles, 11’18″/mile. Proving myself out on the trail! I totally can do this.

Saturday 7/28: 4.0 miles, 11’20/mile. My future’s so bright, I have to wear shades!

No, really. I love this pair of shades from Tierra Sunglasses and am excited to pass a deal on them over to YOU! Look for more info on my engagement with them as an ambassador, but you can save $5 off a pair of running or regular sunglasses when you use code MRSGREGWILLIS5OFF here.

Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon Training: Week Five (July 30-August 5)

Have you noticed I haven’t been doing as much Crossfit? Well, as much as I love it, I’m being super cautious not to get another injury so have really scaled it back. Let’s see how that went this week.

Monday 7/30: 3.1 miles, 11’37″/mile. Another work morning run and the ankle was feeling amazing!

Tuesday 7/31: Yoga at the YMCA. I was so happy to get back to the mat! It felt, in many ways, like nothing had changed. I’m going to be doing more yoga this training cycle because I miss the stretch.

Wednesday 8/1: 2.02 miles, 10’32”. Another run with the hubby on the treadmill.

Thursday 8/2: DOUBLE DAY 4.7 miles on a bike. Went for a bike ride at work on the Healthy Ride Pittsburgh Bikes. Counting this because my bum was super sore the next day and I burned a ton of fat calories. Crossfit WOD. This one hurt like you know what. I was a slowpoke and it was only a 22-minute AMRAP. But…it was my first 4-day-in-a-row training week of this cycle and I can tell.

Saturday 8/4: 4.5 miles, 11’30″/mile. Just me, the trail, and peace. It was 97% humidity and I was soaked. Really ideal training for Myrtle, though!

Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon Training: Week Six (August 6-12)

An interesting week! I was at a work internal training in downtown Pittsburgh and stayed three nights. That meant I got to run with my boss, our CEO, and some other co-workers. Really cool experience, especially since I needed the push. (Check out my Instagram for a few photos from this week.)

Monday 8/6: 3.5 miles, 11’13″/mile. Ran to the Point then over the Fort Duquesne Bridge and back under the Convention Center. It was steamy and another 97% humidity morning but I totally earned sitting the rest of the day.

Tuesday 8/7: 2.0 miles, 11’09″/mile. This should have been a yoga or Crossfit day, but I give in to peer pressure and ran with the group again. I knew when to turn around and am glad I did. The next days would have been even tougher if I hadn’t. Returned to the hotel gym to do some quick lifting.

Wednesday 8/8: 2.89 miles, 10’47″/mile. Another fast-paced group run. We went up some stairs at the Point and I felt it about a mile later trying to go back up through the Convention Center. Had to stop and gain my momentum back. As this was supposed to be 2, I’m okay that I didn’t quite hit three miles.

Thursday 8/9: Crossfit WOD. Again, struggled through four days in a row.

Saturday 8/11: 4.5 miles, 11’16″/mile Truth, this one felt just right. It was humid but I just set my mind to a fast solo run and I did it!

 

##

Stay tuned to see what the next 10 weeks bring!

Total Miles to Date: 

July: 10 runs, 26.39 miles, 11’33″/mile

August: 7 runs, 22.92 miles, 11’14″/mile

++

Monday Momfession: Comparison

I’m trying to get my bearings following a week “away” in my city for work. All the plans were there for me to rest and read during downtime but I am a relationship builder and couldn’t make the time I needed for me. Unfortunately, that started to spiral into something that MOMFESSION has me in a funk, comparison.

It started with worrying that I was holding back the other morning runners. No matter how hard I tried to tell myself that this was an awesome moment for me [to be able to run “with” my boss, our CEO, and others from the company], I just got down on myself for making them shuffle through the runs. Maybe someday I will feel fast enough to run with a group, but even cutting 45 seconds off my time from Saturday to Wednesday didn’t push out those voices.
Then there were the photos where [omg] my [big] white arms made an appearance.  No one else has bingo arms, do they? Or if they do, they know better than to “show them off”. Yeah, getting a smaller than I am used to t shirt and sweater didn’t even change my mind. I saw myself as a blob!

Not to be all woe is me, but I got some blog related news today that made me just want to quit this whole thing. I’d been given advice about how easy it was to do something and then after two weeks of anticipating the end result, I got my news. I started to compare numbers that I can see (Twitter, Insatagram) and wonder why them and not me. I wanted to throw in the towel and never try for opportunities again. Because…comparison.

You’re starting to get it, right? I was falling victim to comparison and it hurt. Heck, it still hurts…

But you know, I’m sure I send others in comparison spirals unintentionally. And that’s the thing…I can’t feel guilty. We are responsible for our joy and comparison is the thief of it. God made us all unique with different running paces (or the desire NOT to run), skin colors and the size of the skin that holds our greatness, and skills. I’m working on trying to embrace my differences in the same way I cherish others.

I’ve got to figure out my way to deal and start to turn my ship around. Will you help me by not comparing yourself today?

Fitbit Flyer: My Experience

I was provided with a review unit of the Fitbit Flyer in exchange for this post. All opinions are 100% my own. 

As a runner, I’ve found I need some noise in my ears to keep the voices in my head from bringing me down. I wanted to check out the Fitbit Flyer to see if it was a viable option as part of my running kit and here’s what happened…

Fitbit Flyer: The Techy Stuff

Before I tell you the “after”, I’m going to share the “before”. Because I’d already tried the JBL Free headphones from Verizon, I decided I wanted to compare them to a set that had some different features. On the sports and fitness page of Verizon, I found the Fitbit Flyer.

What I loved/Why I picked the Fitbit Flyer

  • I already am in the Fitbit family (my must have is the Fitbit Versa)
  • There is a cord that connects the two earbuds (I won’t worry about losing one while only wearing one)
  • That rose gold (it is a new obsession for me, I’m late to the game I think)
  • Offers 6 hours of playtime on a charge + you get a one-hour playtime quick charge in ~15 minutes

Fitbit Flyer: My Experience

My first day with the Fitbit Flyer was a rest day, so I charged it up and called Greg over a lunchtime walk. First, I was super bugged out – I could hear everything around me like it was in stereo! I hadn’t dialed him yet, just plugged them in my ears, but I was hearing things like the traffic on the street, people walking near me, and leaves blowing on the trees like it was right in my face. Once I dialed, those stereo sounds of the outside world went away and I was able to hear him super clear – and he could hear me just fine, too. When we were done chatting, I let them fall around my neck and finished my walk in silence (I think I was on noise sensory overload!).

When I would run with the buds in my ears, I often found myself keeping one in at a time. Frankly, the noise it would pick up during silence was almost too much for me and I was a little scared at how little I could hear when the music was playing. It was almost “I can’t win”, so I’d wear one bud and tuck the other under my tank-top strap.

To be honest, I had the life scared out of me when I was wearing them in that photo above. You’ll notice both are out – one tucked and one flapping in the wind. I had just heard the growling on my 10k and decided to pull them for fear of what I’d heard. Eek!

But the logistics!!! They stayed in nicely, my ears must have been a perfect match so I didn’t mess with the wingtips or fins that come with the option to customize the size. I also like that when I was in the office I could pair to my computer to listen to my Spotify but keep the phone linked for accepting calls. That was super LEAN and a huge perk of these headphones.

So, what’s my final verdict? There were things that I liked but things I didn’t. For the price ($129.99 MSRP on Verizon), I’m not sure I would. They were nice to try and compare, but I’d say I give them a 4.0 out of 5 stars. You can shop on Verizon’s online store if you would like to try them yourself!

What is your go-to running headphone?

Pittsburgh Event: Check out SilverSport at One Whirl Yoga Fest

This post contains information and products provided to me by SilverSport. All opinions are 100% my own. 

Pittsburgh! You know how much our local fitness community means to me and this week that puffy heart got even bigger. Do you recognize the name Franco Harris? Of course you do. He’s founded SilverSport®, a Pittsburgh-based local fitness brand. SilverSport is going to be present at this weekend’s One Whirl Yoga Fest and they’ve asked me to tell you a little bit about the event and their brand. Saying I am thrilled is putting it mildly, friends.

Check out SilverSport at One Whirl Yoga Fest

This event (happening Saturday, July 14 from 6AM-4PM and Sunday, July 15 from 7AM-1PM) has been on my radar for years but babies and blog conferences and Thirty-One events always got in the way of me actually making it to Point State Park. 2018 is their seventh annual event and it includes “yoga classes, vendor demonstrations, workshops, and good vibes”. More details on the event are below.

What you must know is that SilverSport is going to be there and will be featuring their line of odor-free, antimicrobial products at their booth and they will have some exclusive giveaways. For those of us in the fitness world, having these types of products is key – they bring us more protection in the sweaty studios and gyms and make us more comfortable around our #fitfam.

If you get a chance to make it to Yoga Fest, please stop by the SilverSport booth and tell them that I said so! You won’t regret it, I’m wearing one of their tanks as I type this up and I can’t tell that I did a WOD in it 4 hours ago. Trust me!

Details on One Whirl Yoga Fest

WHEN: Saturday, July 14 from 6AM-4PM and Sunday, July 15 from 7AM-1PM

WHERE: Point State Park, 601 Commonwealth Pl, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

COST: $35 for general admission tickets (covers all sessions both days) and kids 12 and under are free

SOCIAL: Facebook Event

About SilverSport

I’m such a geek in general, but hearing the science behind this Pittsburgh local fitness brand during a week when I am fighting a virus (that very well could have come from my shared use of gym equipment) made me super geek out. Here’s what their official press release has to say about the brand:

Silversport® is a Pittsburgh-based corporation  founded by NFL Hall of Fame & Former Steeler Franco Harris and consumer products expert Thomas Davis, with one goal in mind: ‘To keep sports clean’.

All SilverSport® products use nano-scale silver, Silverclean® Technology that provides continuous odor free and antimicrobial performance to all of our products. The silver used is EPA registered and OEKO-TEX™ approved, and proudly made in the U.S.A. Silversport® provides products to our nation’s military, as well as in the medical, Fitness and Fashion Industries. Silver Sport was named Inc. Magazine’s “Next Big Idea,” and one of Entrepreneur’s  “Strokes of Genius” . SilverSport® has been featured in over 30 media outlets including The Doctors, Fox and Friends, New York 1 TV, Women’s Health, Shape, Men’s Journal, Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, Self.com, Pilates Style, Muscle & Body, and was awarded a 2011 Fit Bottom Girls “Fittie Award”. SilverSport® products are available for purchase online at www.silversport.com

And then there’s taking my word for it. You’re going to be seeing a lot more of SilverSport in my Instagram feed and here on the blog. We’re partnering up to help bring awareness to their line, starting with their super soft tank top that I am wearing tonight. Here’s just a spoiler for you – it has the most adorable pocket I’ve ever seen a shirt have – and another – it is super soft and didn’t get drenched in my YFit sweat tonight. I’m swooning up here.

SilverSport

Tell me – what do you think you’ll love most about this new line? Is it that it is Pittsburgh based, founded by Franco, super sciencey, or something else? 

Washing My Face with Rachel Hollis

This post, Washing my Face with Rachel Hollis, contains affiliate links through my relationship with Amazon. I purchased this book on my own and wanted to share my opinions (which are 100% my own) with you. 

Girl. I just cried all the ugly tears as I finished the last two chapters of Rachel Hollis’ Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be. I’d had all these intentions to share posts with you here that were all book club-like, chapter by chapter, sharing my summaries but I had to stop that thought and just dive right into chapters 19 and 20 and talk about them right now because I’m over here washing my face and praising God for giving Rachel (and me) the talent to write for our hearts.

Image: Amazon.com

Why I Need to Wash My Face

It’s barely 7:00 AM on a steamy Pittsburgh summer day and I am driving down 28 with tears in my eyes. My heart and head have been so torn up lately after getting some gritty, heartwrenching truths about how people feel about my life (and my loves).

I’ve been struggling with wondering what my purpose is and if I should keep blogging, keep staying so laser-focused on weight loss and another Half Marathon PR. I’ve been wondering if all the things I say yes to are taking away from my kids and husband – and realizing that they are absolutely changing relationships with other family and friends.

I’ve been struggling with division, especially as our city has been plagued with a shooting that is so senseless and so confusing that it hurts. I’ve been struggling with my position – a white, Christian, and a fairly conservative girl raised in a sandbox full of kids and adults that were just like me who ends up marrying a bi-racial man who was raised in another faith and is raising four extremely beautiful and unique babies with me. My whiteness and my affiliation with the church are often lumped into the firey coals of division that the people like my husband and kids deal with every day – I’m not seen as an ally in dark times like this, but often an enemy because my response to pray is never enough for either side – I’m stuck in the middle of a war where being Switzerland just hurts so bad. I don’t understand why EVERYONE can’t just love like Jesus does.

Washing My Face with Rachel Hollis

So back to those tears. I was crying because I was overwhelmed with all these lies I’d been telling myself and I didn’t even know it, not until I snagged the Audible version of Girl, Wash Your Face and plugged it into my car’s sound system. Once I started, how I wished I’d grabbed it back when my friend Tabatha posted it on her Instagram, but I know now that God’s perfect timing came into play as I got to the last two chapters.

If you don’t have this amazing book, stop what you are doing right now and go get it – Amazon has it available on audio (how I took this book in) and in hardback and you can be reading it by the weekend! 

Rachel Hollis tackles the lies that she’s lived with in hopes that her readers will break free from those lies and live a life full of passion and exuberance. I’ll tell you what, I wish I could grab a coffee with her and tell her how much she spoke to me.

Yinz might think I have it all together, but that’s far from wrong. My faith and my family anchor me in the midst of the chaos that comes with being me, but there are just some days when I just can’t do life. There are days when I wonder if I am worthy of the blessings. There are days when the blessings (particularly 1, 2, 3, and  4) are just too much for my body and brain to manage. There are days when work has to come before family and days when family has to come before work. And through each of those days, I’m telling myself lies that hold me back from the big dreams and goals I have, the things that I know God’s made me for.

Listening to Girl, Wash Your Face brought to light so many of the things I feel like I struggle with and made me realize they aren’t as big as my worrying brain makes them out to be. It ended with two pretty big boom chapters that are helping me in the here and now, the two big reasons I need to be washing my face and moving forward, to stop lying to myself.

19. The Lie: There’s Only One Right Way to Be

I almost feel like my thoughts on this one should come last, but since this comes first in the book, I think I’ll start here.

While Rachel Hollis was raised in California and I call Pennsylvania home, it sounds like our upbringing was pretty similar. Both PK’s (preacher’s kids) growing up in worlds that were all white. Stepping outside the sandbox had a little bit of a scare factor to it at first, but once we realized that the lie of growing up in a world that is cookie cutter and all the same, oh did the beauty of the world our Lord made shine!

For me, my first memory of meeting someone who was black was in third grade. My dad was going to seminary in Dayton, Ohio where being white was a minority. We lived about three hours away in lily-white farm country where the churches still had big organs and dusty hymnals. Dad took us for a visit and I met one of his best friends, Walter. This man amazed me, and I’d sit for hours having theological discussions with him. I could feel God’s work overflowing from his heart and knew he was going to leave that seminary and go on and do great things.

What my Dad hadn’t told me and my brother (and probably mom) in advance? Walter was black. Dad, you gave me an incredible gift right there on that day. You didn’t tell me what lines to draw in my sandbox. You let me and my innocent 9-year-old heart decide how to act in God’s love. And you told me time and again from there out how God made us each different and unique and that you’d love me no matter who I chose to love. You let me decide what to do in my sandbox, and I thank you.

My stories of getting to know people who are different (whether race, faith, love, etc) could go on for days. I’m so thankful God opened my eyes to love as he does, to love people right where they are and that there is not just one right way to be. Even when I’m hearing opposition about the person I chose to love. Even when I’m watching other moms like me wonder if their brown sons and daughters will come home. Even then. Because my faith and love are so much bigger than my fears.

Remember, you can grab our own copy of this book here

20. The Lie: I Need a Hero

8 years ago, I was at my heaviest weight. I never really had a strong desire to do anything about it, but being pregnant at 300 pounds and not getting gestational diabetes spoke to me. I needed to get healthy for my kids. I needed to be their hero.

Throughout this journey of weight loss and running, I’ve done it all for me and for them. I look back at the changes and sacrifices I’ve made and never once did I wish that someone else would change with or for me. I knew that I had to do it all myself. Those miles. Those dietary changes. That was all me and my choice.

These eight years have been somewhat of a roller coaster, but it’s not one I’m ready to jump off. While I don’t think anyone needs a hero to swoop in and do it for them (because they can’t), I want to be that person that people look to and say, “if Becky can do it, why can’t I?”.

That’s not to be egotistical. I’m as competitive as the next runner, but I know that I am only competing against myself. Everyone has their journey, but if we can inspire each other along the way, let’s do that. I know I have plenty of people I look to when I’m having days where a Diet Pepsi looks so refreshing and I forget that I’ve gone 19 months without one. They aren’t going to fix that craving for me, but they’re going to make me remember why I started this journey.

What’s Next?

There are so many more thoughts I have on this book, and thoughts I have on life in general. One thing became abundantly clear to me while listening – I have goals to write and I need to be over here and there writing more than I have been. Hold me to this, friends. And even if you don’t make it back here, know that I’ll be writing. xoxo

Medal Monday: RGSYMCA 10K

Last Saturday I ran the Richard G Snyder YMCA 10K. This event benefited their MAD Program and I was happy to participate because they are doing really good things on the trail behind our house and in our community.

This race checked a few things off my running bucket list, let’s start with the craziest, shall we?

My First “Last Minute Decision” Race

While I knew the race had been coming up, I was tossing around whether or not I’d do it. Even though it’s small, I still don’t think I love the 5k distance so I didn’t want to do that. And the Half, well, that was just definitely a no since it would start at 9 AM and was out and back and I’d definitely be the last to finish (likely with a DNF).

Just before I went to bed (less than 10 hours before start time), my mind was made up. With under 25 runners, the 10K seemed like a good plan.

My First Race in Kittanning

When I woke up, I realized that I’ve never run a race in the town I call home. This race would be the first and it sure was for a good cause. While it wasn’t my first Armstrong County race (I finished last in a Ford City 5k 2 years ago), this one was going to be special.

My First 10K Race

I’d volunteered at this race last year, so I knew not to show up super early; however, I wanted to be ready. After arriving about 45 minutes before we started, I realized I was there way too early. Since the crowd was small, there weren’t many people around and I got that imposter feeling as I watched others warming up while I sat on the ground and sipped a water. But this was my first 10K race (not distance) and whether or not I’d place didn’t matter anymore. I am not an imposter, I’m a runner!

Just before the start, I saw my CrossFit instructor and a friend from CrossFit, both were doing the 5k and pushing toddlers in strollers. Goodness, my friends are beasts (both made the turn for the 5K before me)! Seeing them helped motivate me, but because I knew I had a longer distance and am by nature a slower runner, I knew I couldn’t push too hard.

I started out with my earbuds in and fought with them the whole route. The trail is super quiet, especially when 95% of the other runners are way out ahead of you. I get distracted by my own breathing, so music was a must. Unfortunately, I’ve been testing another pair of buds and these just weren’t working like I wanted them to (more on that in another post!).

The first 1.5 miles (to the 5k turnaround and first water stop) flew by. I logged an 11’08” mile which was incredible – I haven’t run like that in years. But I knew it was too fast to keep up the next five so I got the thought of negative splits out of my mind and kept on pushing forward.

While it’s a good race for a good organization, I really didn’t love the styrofoam cups of water and had to come to a complete stop at every water station (I got three with the out and back of the 10k). I also felt quite alone out there after that first turn until I inched closer to the 3.1 miles where my fellow 10K racers were coming back. Everyone gave each other “good jobs” as they turned and it was again motivating.

After I made the turn, I started to slow down. I’d seen plenty of women go by and I knew they were all in the 30-39 age group so placing wasn’t an option anymore. At that point, I was just happy to look down at my average pace (under my Half Marathon pace) and not feel like I was sweating to death.

…or maybe I WAS sweating hard!

I Didn’t Hear You Either

After my second water stop, I started to get a little delusional. I’ve been doing Whole30 and hadn’t raced with this diet before, so my nutrition and fuel were basically non-existent. My fingers were swelling (a sign that I’m dehydrating and/or my sugar is dropping) and I was a little mentally bummed.

That’s when I heard growling. There I was, on the trail alone and I knew that the Ham Radio operators were a ways away. I put my head down and turned the music up (silly girl) and pushed harder.

I might have continued being delusional, but at the end of the race my pastor asked if I heard or saw the bear. A bear was hit along the road and its mama was on the loose and angry!?!?! I told my co-workers this and one of them sent me this as a way to commemorate this run:

My First 10K Place Medal

The last mile flew by, back on super familiar turf and knowing my family was waiting. I kicked it in finished in 1:15. While the Nike+ app says I did 6.3 miles (11’54”), the official time was 12’09”. I decided to stick around and watch the medal ceremony and I’m glad I did!

Those ladies who passed me have some good health and genes – some of them were in the 40-49 and 50-59 age groups – and I ended up getting 3rd place for the 30-39 females. I was shocked and proud – I did it!

What’s next? At this point, I’m not actively training but focusing on trimming down and muscling up. July 2 will be 16 weeks until the Myrtle Beach Mini / 18 weeks to EQT 10-Miler, so I’ll be back in a normal running plan again. Perhaps throughout that I’ll throw in races as they fit my plan, but right now that’s the main goal – a lighter and faster fall!

Marathon Monday: 2018 Pittsburgh Half Marathon

Somehow, I let the lax feeling of not needing to train trickle all through my life and took a much needed break from the busy-ness last week. It’s finally time to share my race recap from the 2018 Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon – UPMC Health Plan Half Marathon! // This post may contain affiliate links.

If you’d like to read more about my previous experiences, check them out here!

Marathon Monday: 2018 Pittsburgh Half Marathon Recap

Pre-Race  – Greg and I had enjoyed the pre-marathon carb-load dinner my work puts on and actually made it home and to bed at a decent hour. I slept extremely peacefully and woke at 4:30, right on time to get ready to leave by 5. We had laid out our “flat runners” the night before and basically just had to get dressed, heat up my breakfast, and go.

We got a slightly late start because we were trying to figure out what long layers to add as the morning brought a light mist. Even with a delayed leaving time, the commute from Kittanning to Pittsburgh wasn’t bad. But we hit the North Shore right at 6:00 when roads started to close and our smooth sailing plan to get into the garage on General Robinson was faulted.

We sat in traffic and I sipped on my pre workout drink from BPI Sports (pro tip, the Blue Lemon Ice is amazing, use MRSWILLIS to save 20%), trying not to look at the time. We were parked by 6:20 and I had a mental breakdown once we got out of the car because our gear check bag was packed to the gills and looked like it could burst. Of course, we didn’t bring a backup so I was freaking out.

(insert superhero husband who sacrificed taking a hoodie and fixed the problem)

About 6:40, we’d gotten on the T and to Gateway Station. It was eerily calm. There was no line for gear check. No line for porta potties (I went twice in 10 minutes). We found a random stranger to snap some pictures of us after we paused for the National Anthem and start of the hand-cycle race.

Just before the Elites were off and running, Greg and I said goodbye. Off he went to his relay handoff on the North Shore (right where we parked) and I got into Corral D. I could see the pacers for the 2:30 and 2:45, but couldn’t get right where they were. I didn’t let that stop my feelings that I seriously could do this thing I’d heard about, setting a personal best (aka PR). I didn’t train with a running group, it was going to be okay.

At 7:30, our corral had made its way to the starting line and the time I’d been waiting for since my time crying on the hill in 2017 had finally come.

First 4.4 Miles: Elapsed Time 0:53:13 or 12:06 per mile

That first mile is so full of fun and excitement. Between my eyes darting to my left to see if I’d catch a fellow YFit Fam member cheering on the crowd to the “tunnel” by the bus station, I just felt so full of life and energy. Mile one is super familiar ground to me, it’s where a lot of my training is. As I neared the end of it, I couldn’t believe how fast time had flown by. According to the clock, I was right about an 11:45 for the first mile. No way! Hadn’t I just been sick?!?!

I knew I needed to slow things down, so I started to pray and listen to my breathing. Everything felt so good, but all I could think of was “okay, when will the wheels fall off this year?”. As I rounded the corners to take Penn Avenue back into the city, I started to focus on my water plan. I’d brought a Propel with me for electrolytes (I’m keto, so no Gatorade for me), but I wasn’t ready for that. Water? Yes. But right past the water station was my office and the possibility of seeing a co-worker. Since I hadn’t seen anyone I knew yet, I held out hope but ended mile two with the water stop and a buzz of my watch telling me I’d slowed it down just enough, to right about 12 minutes.

As the path took me through Penn Avenue, so familiar, I started to recognize some of the runners I follow on Instagram but had never introduced myself too. Being too shy and too focused, I kept on. The Birmingham Bridge was ahead and there was no time to talk – I needed to breathe. This mile was right above 12 minutes again, but I always feel mile 2 to 3 is one of the longest.

One of the shortest miles then flew by, looping through the start of the North Shore. Thanks to a water station and a quick downhill, the climb up toward Urban Impact‘s cheer zone. They were blasting K-Love and I couldn’t help but give thanks for my church family that I knew was praying for me. Just after mile 4, I look up and see “my verse”, Philippians 4:13.

Miles 4.4 to 10: Elapsed Time 2:01:01 or 12:07 per mile

I honestly don’t know where exactly this tracker was, but I think it was on the back side of North Commons. What got me pumped was I had just received a text that Greg’s relay team had crossed the 4.4 mark. What surprised me was there I was, about 8 minutes behind, getting MY text. I started mile 4.4 at a 12’06” pace and felt pretty amazing.

The thing was, I’d stood up in front of most of my co-workers in January (before I fell) and said my goal was a 12’12”. Even if the wheels fell off, a 12’30” was attainable, but being that close to a 12’12” I couldn’t help but feel excited.

My Nike+ watch was telling me things I just couldn’t believe, through mile six and passing by the first relay handoff, I was maintaining that 12-ish minute pace. Incredible. The time flew by.

Next thing I knew, I was head down and running up the West End Bridge. I looked down and my watch stopped. Well crud. Good thing I was wearing my FitBit Versa, which I still hadn’t  haven’t taken the time to calibrate. At the least, it has a stopwatch, so I got to Mile Marker 7 and hit GO.

West End is a great part of the course from a crowd perspective, but it really isn’t all that great on the body. Uphill. Uphil. Uphill. Then down a quick hill (to which I had someone come barreling down behind me, scaring me for my life). Then an all too brief flat (on which a college friend was handing out drinks and in my case a fist bump, high five, and hug) that led to more uphill, uphill, uphill.

This is where my asthma started to kick in last year. This year, I prayed and I listened to my breathing. Nothing seemed off and I couldn’t help but shed a few tears of joy. God really did have this under control.

As I crested the top of the first hill up West Carson Street just before Mile Marker 8, I looked down and could just see thousands of people. I’d never seen that before, the back of the pack usually is much more spread out. But this year, I wasn’t the back of the pack. What I was seeing wasn’t any chaos, it was just runner after runner taking a water break.

This is where I almost lost it, though. We come down a hill to water and there were so many runners in my part of the course that seemed new to running. One stopped right in front of me with no warning. I might have yelled a bit more than I should have, but I had a PR that was about to get smashed! Others were weaving a lot which was dangerous on all the cups. I just dug in and took the course and the day for what it was. And my stopwatch? It read 12:02.

Leading up to the Incline is one of my favorite parts of the course. It’s uphill, there’s no hiding that. But it is lined with JROTC students. I put my left hand out and high fived every single student along that part of the course. This got me through and next thing I knew there was Highmark Stadium in my sight and I got the text that Greg had finished his leg. It looked like I wasn’t too far behind them!

I weaved off a little in hopes the Florastor mister was working, but no luck. Have to give a little shout to them here because being on an antibiotic the week leading up to the race, I needed a good probiotic to help out. They kept me running!

Here’s a shot of me and Greg post-race at a photo opp they set up. 

Mile Marker 9 was just off in the distance, which meant so was Greg. I took off my (now broken) Nike+ watch and got ready to hand it to him with my (unopened) Propel.

Miles 10 to 20K (12.4 miles): Elapsed time 2:30:35 or 12:07 per mile

As I scanned the relay exchange, I couldn’t see my husband. When I did see him, he wasn’t looking my way so I started to yell. Turns out, he was shocked by my speed as I was and wasn’t ready for me. There was no time for a kiss and a GET THIS this year, just time to toss my watch and water to him and keep going. I had a PR to CRUSH, remember?

The fastest mile of the course was just ahead, at the top of a hill. Wait…my text alert just told me I was doing a 12’07”, so why was I seeing the 2:45 pace group (which runs about a 12’35”)? I was so confused and a got a little frustrated in this mile. As I looked at my feet and questioned what had changed between the first 10 miles and that moment, I spied what I think my boss was trying to explain to me – paint that maps out the shortest part of the course. IDK if it was that or gas company marks, but I took it and focused and got up that hill to the fast and flat mile 10.

East Carson was a little quieter than I recall, but I think I was just motivated. Even with my frustration, my watch was still saying I was close to a 12-minute mile. Head down again, and next thing I knew, there was the split!

There’s a “little” hill up Birmingham Bridge that has been my nemesis. It was always my slowest mile, in fact, I walked it last year to the tune of almost 15’00” per mile (ouch). This year, I saw that 11, saw another just over 12-minute split on my watch, and up that bridge I went. Turning onto the hill of 5th Avenue, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’d done it. I was going to PR unless I came to a complete stop and rested for ten minutes. Whoa.

The crowd starts to tell you there is just a mile left, but I don’t believe them. Not until I crest the hill and start to feel the downhill slope.

Miles 12.4 miles to 13.1: Elapsed time 2:38:04 or 12:04 per mile

You guys. Writing this post is the first I took the time to figure out how on earth I pulled my entire pace down by 3 seconds in 0.7 miles. The answer? I dug in and pulled off an average pace of 10’55” per mile that last stretch!!!

How did I do that? Well, the hill for one. Then there’s a lot of weaving but as I got to the next to last turn, there was my boss’s wife and another co-worker’s wife. They cheered me on, said I looked strong and that I was doing amazing. When they were out of sight, the tears came. I was so freaking happy, I cried.

That last right turn and my eyes started to dart for Greg. I’d surprised him again, but he caught my run to the chute on video, yelling THAT’S MY WIFE and I knew just how proud he was of me.

The run doesn’t stop at 13 miles, so when you see that marker you have to keep pushing…and push I did. No stopping until I was fully under those big yellow arches. I just wanted my medal and to see if I could stomach a banana (not really). Enter selfie mode.


Three Half Marathons, Accomplished.


I didn’t even know my official time, but I knew this was a PR and a BIG one. I texted my dad so he could tell mom and the kids I was done – and they texted soon back that they were so happy for me. I look down and see that my total average pace was a 12’04” and that I’d finished .04 seconds over my big OMG GONNA THROW UP IF I COULD PULL THIS OFF goal I didn’t speak to ANYONE – a 2:37 *point anything*. .04 away.

You guys. I did it. I crushed it and there is no doubt in my mind this was a God thing. Redemption for years battling food. Redemption from mental anguish over my past relationships. Redemption from being the “fat friend”. Redemption from the toll four babies has taken on my body. Redemption from going from crying on a hillside in 2017 to slipping at CrossFit and twisting three vertebrae to falling on my face and knees. Redemption felt amazing.

This was seventeen minutes forty-one seconds faster than 2017 and fourteen minutes thirty-one seconds faster than 2013. How about that for a PR bell ring?!?!

Thanks to everyone for your prayers and cheers. Thanks to my parents and brother for helping with the kids. And most of all, thanks to my amazingly supportive husband. This day will live on in our family history, for sure. xoxo

And with that, my journey to the 2018 Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon – UPMC Health Plan Half Marathon is finished. To see how I’ve been doing since, follow me on Instagram!

Total Miles of 2018: 216 miles
May totals: 20.43 miles, 12’04” pace
April totals: 72.82 miles, 12’21” pace
March totals: 59.06 miles, 12’24” pace
February totals: 38.41 miles, 12’06” pace

January totals: 20.63 miles, 12’40” pace

++

Marathon Monday: Week 16 of 16

Where did SIXTEEN weeks of Half Marathon Training go?!?!? It has been an incredible journey, capped off with everything I accomplished on Sunday. I’ll spoil it and tell you that Sunday was incredible, but today’s post is just going to focus on my final six days of training/taper. The Half deserves a whole post itself! Read on to hear about my Half Marathon Training, Week 16! // This post may contain affiliate links.

If you’d like to read more about my previous experiences, check them out here!

Marathon Monday: Week 16 of 16 (Half Marathon Training)

Monday 4/30: 3 miles, 12’22” per mile- This run didn’t start out too tough, which completely surprised me. If you’ll remember from last week’s post, I got sick. My allergies kicked it in high gear on Friday then attacked my sinuses. I was battling a horrible sinus infection and seriously considering how I’d run the Half six days later.

So a taper training run that stayed pretty much in line with my training of recent made me pretty happy. Mile three back to the office was a bit of a struggle, but I did it and even pulled off a negative split from mile 2.

Wednesday 5/2 – 2 miles, 11’55” – Two days of medicine in me, I put the kids on the bus and headed up to the Trail for one more easy run. I didn’t listen to my pace and just ran. The weather was perfect, eh, maybe a little sunny. It was in the low 50s and I gave this run a “let’s do this for fun” attitude.

Even being sick, I amazed myself again. A 12’02” mile one without checking pace and then an 11’47”. That’s another 15-second negative split for the week!

Friday 5/4: Marathon Expo
I spent the entire day dedicated to Marathon Prep. Between packet/bib pickup, dinner finalization for Saturday, and answering logistics questions, I put in a busy day. I needed some time to myself to explore the Expo, so after work, I returned. My timing was incredible…

First, at the Brag Swag, Inc. booth, I bumped into Chelsea. I haven’t seen her in person since PodCamp 2011, I think! We’ve been following each other’s running journeys on the blogs/Twitter/Instagram for years. She is super inspiring and really passionate about making the running community here in Pittsburgh a family feel. Oh, and I had to buy myself a shirt…do you blame me?

Oddly enough, just after I passed my previous employer’s *unmanned* booth, I ran into my old boss! It was nice to see him and his family and get a chance to catch up a little. Hoping his half went well!

Next up was finding pacers. I visited the NuGo pace booth to confirm my sad puppy that there wasn’t a pacer between 2:30 and 2:45. My heart felt like anything below a 2:44 was realistic the way I was still feeling stuffy, but I knew I couldn’t go with the 2:45 pacer. (They were doing run/walk and since I don’t train like that, I would have done poorly for me.)

I decided I should find the SCRR booth and see if anyone knew if anyone would be doing around a 12:30 (that 2:44) that was running and if I could meet the 2:30 pacer just to see who I needed to make sure I stayed behind.

By doing that, I ran into Carla who paced the kickoff training run that had me realizing I had a potential to do around a 12’12” in the first place. I was excited to find out she was pacing the 13’00″/mile for the 5k and decided it would be best to run with her group the next day and see if anyone there was aiming for a time like mine. Huge relief.

Before I left, I got to thank Coach Betsy who helped with my taper plan and encouraged me on that 10-mile run in 76 degrees. If she hadn’t set my expectations for that day, I might have fallen apart after pulling the pace I did that day (12’55”).

Then it was off to home to “rest”…or take care of the four kids and pack everything for the next day. We’d run as a family – me the 5k, Greg and the Bigs the Kids’ Mile, Ava to the Chic-Fil-A Cow, and Isla away from the Chic-Fil-A Cow.

Our Flat Family!

Saturday 5/5: 3.125 miles, 12’50” – I used this run to get all the nerves out. I’d been warned I might not be too smart to do this then do the 13.1 the next day, but it was so tempting to get the extra shirt, glass, and two medals as part of the Steel Challenge. The jury is out whether or not I’ll do it again next year…

First up, I met up with We Run Social and took a photo with a bunch of other social media addicted runners (swipe through Steffany’s Instagram post to see the group). It was great to meet some of the bloggers/IG superstars I’ve been following in real life.

Next, I needed to find my pace group and get this race going. I was so excited to get the nerves out that I must not have stepped on the chip reader at the start. My Nike+ app says we did 3.3 and the announcer says we did 3.125, so I’m going with the announcer’s mileage and basing my time off that – we kept it a little “fast” but super comfortable. Frankly, it felt too easy to me and I wasn’t sure if I should run ahead. Good thing Carla is smart about this and said all the right things to make me remember to hold it back today for tomorrow’s big race.

During the race, I realized why this might not have been a good idea. There were people out there going for their personal glory, which I get it. I used to be a short distance runner. But this wasn’t about a time for me. It was about getting the nerves out. There were so many runners out there that were either running their first “big” race or really wanted to beat a clock. Add that to a bunch of potholes and my feeling that I was going super easy and I could have easily gotten hurt.

And crossing the bridge into the city? All the tears. This city has my heart.

Other than not having an official time that matches what I do and not really trusting what the distance of the run was, this one felt amazing and was exactly what I needed – fun!

After my race, the kids and Greg tackled the one mile at a 9’14” pace! I’m so proud of my ‘lil runners.

 

And with that, my training for the 2018 Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon – UPMC Health Plan Half Marathon is finished. For the spoiler, follow me on Instagram or else wait until I get the time to put words “to paper” to tell you how amazing Sunday felt.

Total Training Miles of This Cycle: 196 miles
April totals: 72.82 miles, 12’21” pace
March totals: 59.06 miles, 12’24” pace
February totals: 38.41 miles, 12’06” pace

January totals: 20.63 miles, 12’40” pace

++

Marathon Monday: Week 15 of 16

It is the final stretch! Spoiler alert – I am sick. A nasty sinus infection has taken residence in my head, so week 16 is not off to a great start. Hopefully, the medicines get to working and I can feel about 90% myself by late this week. Sigh…read on to hear about my Half Marathon Training, Week 15! // This post may contain affiliate links.

If you’d like to read more about my previous experiences, check them out here!

Marathon Monday: Week 15 of 16 (Half Marathon Training)

Monday 4/23: 4 miles, 12’17” per mile- Hello, sun! I actually questioned wearing the double tank top, but figured I’d be a little modest on my lunch break. Afterall, I was debuting my ghostly white legs in my Happy Puppies running shorts (I got the Mandy and listened to their size guide and perfection).

My loop was a simple one, across 16th Street Bridge, to the Trail, and down almost to PNC Park and back. Everything felt pretty perfect about this one.

Wednesday 4/25 – 3.19 miles, 11’31” – Next year, I run with people to train. That’s going to take dropping a few more pounds and running a few more miles, but I know I can pull it off. This one was a warm one again. Greg and I took the twins out – he pushed the double stroller like a beast – and I talked the whole time. That proves that I should be pushing myself more. Our last mile was just over 11 minutes/mile. Welcome back, early 2014 Becky. Welcome back.

Friday 4/27: 6.28 miles, 11’57” – Well, the warm weather decided to stick around for all three of my workouts (runs) this week. I couldn’t stop smiling on this one, that pace! As of the end of this run, I decided I want to push myself to run with the 12’00” group (if there is one) and aim for a sub 2:40 half. I know I can, I just have to be healthy enough for race day.

So about that intensity decreasing. Sigh. I tried. I really did. Praying for strength – today’s run is done (not as good as any of last week’s but not that bad either, considering I can’t breathe and have a numb jaw and cheekbones). That leaves 2 miles then the 5k on Saturday. Next time you hear from me, it might just be Medal Monday instead! 😉

Follow me on Instagram to see how this week goes!

Total Training Miles of This Cycle: 190.92 miles | 5.1 miles remaining
April totals: 72.82 miles, 12’21” pace
March totals: 59.06 miles, 12’24” pace
February totals: 38.41 miles, 12’06” pace

January totals: 20.63 miles, 12’40” pace

++

What’s in My Race Day Bag – Verizon Tech

Verizon Tech provided me with products for the purpose of testing and sharing my experience. All opinions expressed in this race day bag post are 100% my own.

Technology is one of my weaknesses – I love checking out the latest and greatest gadgets that can make my life easier. When Verizon Tech shared with me some tips on technology for spring travel, I saw three items that I thought would be perfect to add to my race day bag when prepping for Pittsburgh Marathon weekend.

What’s in My Race Day Bag – Verizon Tech

Last year, I don’t think Greg and I used gear check because my work had a tent at the Finish Line Festival. This year, our team is part of the Corporate Challenge, so we’ll be in the Hospitality Tent when the race is done. I hope to spend some time celebrating, getting a massage, and checking out what all is around the park this year, so we’ll be checking a bag with all the things that I want to have on hand.

Verizon Tech had some awesome gadgets that would be perfect for packing in a marathon race day bag:

Tile Style – these stylish squares of technology are great for attaching to things you might lose (like your keys). I’m usually pretty good about knowing where my keys are, but I was thinking it might be good to toss one of these in the bag since it will go to Gear Check (which I trust, but you still never know).

When I was testing out this gadget, I happened to misplace my phone. A quick click of the tile icon and my phone started to make a noise – even though the sound was off! I’m intrigued at how these work without a charger and amazed at how easy they make finding all the lost things!

mophie powerstation – I’ll be drained of all my power (or on a super runner’s high) and I’m sure my phone will be, too. The mophie will come in hand when I am trying to snap photos or call to check in on the kids (and tell them how great the day goes). With battery backup that lasts up to four charges, Greg and I both could charge our phones while getting our fill of post-race yums. (Note – if you are a “house divided” and one of you has an Apple and the other a Samsung, you’re in luck as this charges both!)

JBL Free wireless in-ear headphones – Ok, these might be in my ears (or ear, I have been running with just one for safety and it still works great), but the case will be in the bag for safe keeping post-race. These headphones are splashproof so they joined me on some of my snowy and rainy runs this training season. The sound is incredible – maybe almost too much because I couldn’t hear outside noises while using them!

(Note – the Pittsburgh Marathon Course recommends against wearing headphones. I’ve never run a Pgh event with them in because the bands are awesome, but I’m not ruling out the idea of wearing one bud this year.)

While running usually just requires your feet and a good pair of shoes, there are some things we tech-crazed people can’t live without! What technology do you use to make your life easier?