2019 Pittsburgh Marathon: Part 1 of 3

The post below is part of a series of posts about the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon weekend of events for which I have been selected to be a 2019 Pittsburgh Marathon official blogger. I’ve received my race registration fee in exchange for promotion of the event. All opinions are 100% my own.  This post also contains affiliate links. 

This past weekend was truly a dream come true and a weekend of setting some goals (anyone else reading/read Girl, Stop Apologizing?) So much so that I needed to split this post into three posts so I don’t completely bore you.

Spoiler alert (because I’m pretty sure that most of you reading are following me on Instagram, you’re an IRL (in real life) friend/family, or we’re pals on Facebook), my “dream” to chase a PR in 2019 did not come true, it was by far my slowest half marathon ever, but I DID IT. Let’s focus on the weekend and why I’m already looking forward to my next race!

2019 Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend: Meeting a Champion

If you want to be in the know, you follow the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon on Facebook and keep up with their events. That is where you’ll hear about things like the kick-off training runs, kids’ events, and opportunities to meet and greet runners who will make you want to live louder.

On Thursday, Levin’s and BEDGEAR (a Partner of the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon) hosted an event to show off the amazing products in the BEDGEAR family but also to meet and greet with Stephanie Bruce. Stephanie is an American elite long-distance runner and a BEDGEAR ambassador…and she WON the 2019 USATF Half Marathon Championships here in Pittsburgh over the weekend.

Stephanie Bruce BEDGEAR

At the launch party (which was super chill), I got to chat with her a little bit. Although she is super fit and about the size of my arm (see above), she didn’t judge me for my size but instead urged me to Dream Big and to have a great race. I joked with her “good luck beating me on Sunday”, we talked about staying in hotels with kids (she’s a mom) and sleeping well before race day. It calmed some of the nerves I had about the weekend ahead of meeting new people and sleeping in a hotel room with the kids the night before race day.

(And while I’ll never be an elite runner like Stephanie, it made me realize I need to work on my goals to become an ambassador for running brands I believe in. You guys proved that to me when I was selected as an official blogger and you used my referral code enough times for me to earn that hotel room through the official blogger referral rewards program! I need to DREAM BIG, indeed!)

2019 Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend: The Social Center

As part of my “duties”, I was asked to do something I’ve been wanting to do again since 2014 (but either the timing never worked out or I was not selected to help) – serve in the Social Center. That means that on Friday I was the “voice” of the marathon’s social media – specifically their Facebook messages. While things were quiet, I got to do what I love most (helping people), using the tool I love most (Salesforce), for the weekend I love most (the Pittsburgh Marathon weekend). It was a great way to give back to the organization (P3R Events) that put their faith and trust in me to be a voice in the Pittsburgh running community (and beyond) in my role as an official blogger.

To Jonah, Jordan, and the rest of the P3R Events staff and volunteers – THANK YOU for making me smile in a way I haven’t in a long time. You helped me fill a void I didn’t realize had been missing in my career. And who knows…maybe one day you’ll need a **rockstar** Salesforce Admin? 😉

2019 Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend: The VIP Experience (part one of three)

Another perk of the Official Blogger program was getting the VIP experience – and in my case, I earned enough rewards to gift VIP to two spectators (my husband and oldest daughter) and two runners (the amazing SCRR pacer, Carla, and an inspiring Instagram run/walk/runner, Renee).

Psst – if you’re on the fence about VIP for future events, DO IT. I’ll go into more details, but kids 8 and under get in with their VIP chaperone so my whole family actually got the VIP treatment. You’ll need to read all three of my wrap-up posts to get all the benefits, but it is SO worth it.

For this post, I’m going to focus on what might have been the capstone event of the weekend. I was invited to the VIP Cocktail Reception on Friday night and was excited to get to relax a little and meet others who love this organization like I do. What I didn’t realize is how much I’d cry at the event!

You see, Patrice Matamoros (race director and CEO of P3R Events) not only served her 11th and final race with that title, but she is the reason why I started to run in this event in the first place. As the team was spotlighting her accomplishments over the last 11 years and she handed the “baton” to Troy Schooley (who I’m certain is not going to disappoint, either!), I was in tears because the things her friends, family, staff, and peers were saying about her were the things that made me want to run.

In one of my few tweets from the weekend, I shared how she inspired me in a crowd of Chatham Women Entrepreneurs to run for my kids – to give them the legacy love of a lifelong sport. I knew the next day that my four running buddies would all lace up their sneakers (okay, only one actually did, but more on that next post) and run this city with me because of me.

Me. Their mama who once weighed 300 pounds. Me. Their mama who cheated running the mile in high school. Me. Their mama who definitely doesn’t have the typical runner’s body (and that has fluctuated so much in the past four years – up, down, up again) but keeps lacing her shoes and loving her body healthy. Me. Their mama who inspires their daddy to move (even though it looks like he’d be the one inspiring her). Me. Their mama who can only explain her love of running as a way to show her kiddos that she loves them so much she does this for them.

Phew. Glad to get that out one more time! All the emotions.

After the ceremony portion of the evening, I said goodnight to the amazing Erin Carlin (who wrangled us official bloggers, helped me with silly questions, cheered me on so much, and made me realize my voice matters as a writer in Pittsburgh) and thought I was headed home. That’s when I ran into Brandi (another Official Blogger), her friend Jeff (who from what I can tell is an awesome running coach), and Sue (who I’d been following on Twitter) and her husband Kevin (who love this city probably even more than I do – if that’s possible – and aren’t even Pittsburgh locals).  I stuck around to chat with them and realized I need to find more running friends to “talk shop” with on weekends that don’t start with “Pittsburgh Marathon”.

Pittsburgh Marathon Bloggers

What a great start to the weekend – and there is so much more to share. You’ll just have to be patient with me as I balance writing with spending much needed catch-up time with my family who cheered me on like **rockstars** this weekend, put up with my training schedule, and have dealt with my crazy emotions over the past seven months – we’re taking a much deserved time to focus on US!

Training Tuesday: Pittsburgh Half Marathon Week 9

The post below is part of a series of posts about the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon weekend of events for which I have been selected to be a 2019 Pittsburgh Marathon official blogger. I’ve received my race registration fee in exchange for promotion of the event. All opinions are 100% my own.  This post also contains affiliate links. 

This was another quiet week, but another trip to the chiropractor plus a week of way too much celebrating of my birthday – all the Halo Top + pizza, oh boy – left me with little time to run and a body that was just not having it. Mentally, I’m okay with this. I know I’m not going into May 5 fully trained and my plan to complete the 13.1 is accomodating that. Life has been different this training cycle and it’s just the season I am in?!?!

Training Update

Well, one run this week is all I’ve got for you. I wanted to do a long run this weekend, but Greg worked and we had plans in the evenings. It just wasn’t going to fit in life and while I know I’ll suffer later, it is reality.

Tuesday 4/9: 4.6 miles, 13:07/mile – My 36th birthday run was pretty incredible, considering that a good chunk of it was a walk. I followed a 7/5 run/walk split and kept things easy in the runs so I had the stamina to make it from home to church where Greg and the kids were waiting with tacos. Win, win.

How are the miles stacking up?

January 2019: 6 runs, 11.57 miles, 12’19″/mile

February 2019: 7 runs, 12.67 miles, 12’38″/mile

March 2019: 10 runs, 24.32 miles, 13’36″/mile

April 2019: 3 runs, 14.11 miles, 13’36″/mile

PSST! If you’ve read this far and are ready to sign up for the Marathon or Half, make sure you do and let them know I sent you by using WILLISDSGPM19 as your code when you sign up. You’ll save $10 when you do! Register here .

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Training Tuesday: Pittsburgh Marathon Half Week 8

The post below is part of a series of posts about the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon weekend of events for which I have been selected to be a 2019 Pittsburgh Marathon official blogger. I’ve received my race registration fee in exchange for promotion of the event. All opinions are 100% my own.  This post also contains affiliate links. 

While most of you are just about ready to taper, I have yet to get my running game into the double digits…but YOU CAN’T STOP ME because I see you, May 5! My fifth half marathon promises to be memorable, that’s one thing I know for certain.

Training Update

Most of my week was spent getting used to a new rhythm – working in downtown Pittsburgh (right on Liberty Avenue, overlooking the starting line) four days a week. I am trying to shove in 9 hour days plus a 2-3 hour commute (in total) and all the kids’ activities in the evening. This is the year I really needed to focus on my family and not my running, and yet I am still finding ways to get in my steps, do my PT exercises, and keep moving barriers.

Friday 4/5: 2 miles, 13:04/mile – I really wanted to go further on this one, but we had our 2nd measurement for our new windows happening on Friday and it took a little longer than I expected. There was no photo because I jumped in the van, headed to the chiro (YAY!) to get my knee taped, then plopped into my hair stylist’s chair for a much needed update.

A reminder…”The Lord will fight for you. Be still.” Exodus 14:14

Saturday 4/5: 7.51 miles, 14:02/mile – After sitting at Evan’s soccer game and feeling the temps rising, I needed time on the trail. Unfortunately, on Friday when I was getting adjusted, scraped and taped, Dr. Katey and I did not like the looks of my knee. Not only the inside (MCL) but the outside (ACL) were swollen and reacted. The Deep Blue instantly did its thing and I needed to add more when I got home to ice. She suggested I slow this one down big time with a 5 minute walk/3 minute run progression.

I did and between the heat and the pain, I was exhausted by mile 5. But I wanted to push and I wanted to get a bridge run in + get an iced coffee so I decided to not only go 0.5 miles further than goal but to run the whole last mile. All in all, in the 1 hour 45 minutes I was “running”, I actually walked almost an hour of that – so pulling off a 14:02 was pretty exciting!

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I just saw a fellow run/walk superstar post a photo of her run today. She was wearing a piece from @momentumjewelry that read "My Pace. My Peace." Truth be told, my pace today was 14:02 for this 7.51 mile burner and I am sitting here stretching and feeling gross. Unworthy. So not peaceful. But the real truth is that it took *a lot* to get up and go today and I need to be proud of that and have that peace about my pace. I'm so behind in training. My ACL is also starting to bother me. My left hip is MAD for all the compensating it has done. My brain wants to QUIT but my heart is so ready to MOVE BARRIERS and see that @pghmarathon Half finish line. As a Official Blogger for #MOVEPittsburgh @p3revents, I feel like I should be better. But you're all still cheering me on and giving me strength. Praying and learning to lean more on God every day. #strongnotskinny #kneepain #rocktape #runpgh

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And speaking of exiting, I have a few more runs to get in before I can feel “ready” to do this thing on May 5. How about you?

How are the miles stacking up?

January 2019: 6 runs, 11.57 miles, 12’19″/mile

February 2019: 7 runs, 12.67 miles, 12’38″/mile

March 2019: 10 runs, 24.32 miles, 13’36″/mile

April 2019: 3 runs, 14.11 miles, 13’36″/mile

PSST! If you’ve read this far and are ready to sign up for the Marathon or Half, make sure you do and let them know I sent you by using WILLISDSGPM19 as your code when you sign up. You’ll save $10 when you do! Register here .

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ZYN: Goodness with Benefits

This is a sponsored post with Drink ZYN and BraVoMark. All opinions are 100% my own.

2019 has been a year of hurdles for this mama’s health journey. Between a knee issue and trying to find the “just right” way to eat, it’s been interesting to say the least. But the steady thing in my eating choices is my quest to keep sugars at a minimum and consume food products that are tasty and beneficial to my health.

The ZYN Goodness

For the past few weeks, Greg and I have been trying out ZYN, a low-sugar beverage with all-natural ingredients. ZYN, meaning life, is a holistic wellness option that is good for the whole family. There are only 2 grams of sugar and the added benefit of 200+ mg of curcumin (which is a natural compound derived from turmeric). These beverages come in four flavors – Mixed Berry, Lemon Ginger, Mango Lychee, and Pomegranate Cranberry.

Drinking ZYN has become part of my half-marathon training regimen for two reasons:

  • Curcumin has the potential to benefit our bodies with inflammation support, gut health, and muscle recovery. All three are things that I need while training!
  • It’s a sweet bonus that ZYN believes in the “root of what matters” – that nature has plenty to provide us without filling drinks with preservatives or artificial sweeteners. I can feel good knowing that I’m consuming something all-natural that is backed by science.

Benefits of Curcumin

Here’s where I must rely on the experts to tell you a bit more about what makes the Curcumin in ZYN a big deal. These findings are backed by over 28,000 scholarly and scientific articles and over 160 clinical studies on Curcumin.

According to research, the bio-active source of Turmeric’s healing power is CURCUMIN.  However, the typical CURCUMIN content is 2% to 5% of the Turmeric root.  In addition, the body does not readily absorb CURCUMIN.  ZYN is crafted with one of the highest CURCUMIN contents (200 mg) in the market.

The refreshing beverage also optimizes absorption by combining CURCUMIN with Piperine (black pepper fruit extract).  Research shows that Piperine may increase bioavailability of CURCUMIN by 2000%.  And ZYN includes only 2 grams of sugar and 10 calories per serving!

Source: ZYN

I’ve already mentioned a few benefits above, but there are even more ways that Curcumin can help the body such as Alzheimer’s, Psoriasis, and Glaucoma (all diseases that have impacted my family personally). Find out more about the benefits of Curcumin here.

Ready to Try ZYN?

If the benefits listed above haven’t got you ready to give ZYN a try, let me tell you what I personally love about it.

ZYNAs I’ve mentioned maybe way too many times, I’ve got a knee giving me issues. When I drank ZYN, I could notice a change in the amount of inflammation I was suffering from. Granted, Greg and I split a dozen bottles, but even just drinking my share of the case made me feel better. It also helped calm my gut when I’d realized I had too much dairy in my day. The flavors are delicious, and the taste is light. Because they are all-natural, you skip that sugary taste of other “fruity” drinks and just get to enjoy the benefits. Personally, I loved all the flavors, but Mango Lychee took the top spot in my book.

If you’d like to commit to making healthier drink choices for you and your family or to add ZYN to your fitness regimen, check out their store locator or purchase ZYN online.

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You can follow ZYN on Instagram or like them on Facebook. They are the PRODUCT OF THE YEAR winner in the Healthy Beverage Category and a BCorp (good for the world brand). More details on their company can be found here: https://drinkzyn.com/about/

Training Tuesday: Pittsburgh Half Marathon Week 7

The post below is part of a series of posts about the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon weekend of events for which I have been selected to be a 2019 Pittsburgh Marathon official blogger. I’ve received my race registration fee in exchange for promotion of the event. All opinions are 100% my own.  This post also contains affiliate links. 

Starting to question my sanity. Between the injury and changing clients at work, this update is light. Running feels like EXACTLY what I need but isn’t feasible with our life schedule. Maybe I am finally admitting I’m aging and can no longer “do it all”. Hmmmph.

Training Update

Tuesday 3/26: 2 mile speed work, averaged 11:47/mile – Greg spent his birthday evening listening to me talk about my new shoes (Altra Tokyo Escalante Racers) and my speed work. I did .25 mile splits, rested 30 seconds between, and amazed myself with what I pulled off.

Head to my Instagram to see my photo!

Wednesday 3/27: 2.0 miles, 13:30/mile – Slower than I’d like, but I was taking it easy after my speed work.

Then….I rested. Greg had work. I had work. Life. No running since it is bothering me fiercely. Praying I get a chance to run soon.

Registration Reminder!!!

I know…the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon registration closed March 31, but TOMORROW 4/3 at 9 AM they are opening up for a few last minute spots for the Full, Half, and Relay! And you still can redeem WILLISDSGPM19 at checkout to save $10 on registration for the Full or Half Marathon. Thank you to everyone who already has done this – you are AWESOME!

How are the miles stacking up?

January 2019: 6 runs, 11.57 miles, 12’19″/mile

February 2019: 7 runs, 12.67 miles, 12’38″/mile

March 2019: 10 runs, 24.32 miles, 13’36″/mile

PSST! If you’ve read this far and are ready to sign up for the Marathon or Half, make sure you do and let them know I sent you by using WILLISDSGPM19 as your code when you sign up. You’ll save $10 when you do! Register here.

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Training Tuesday: Pittsburgh Half Marathon Week 6

The post below is part of a series of posts about the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon weekend of events for which I have been selected to be a 2019 Pittsburgh Marathon official blogger. I’ve received my race registration fee in exchange for promotion of the event. All opinions are 100% my own.  This post also contains affiliate links. 

It is starting to heat up in my training. Excited to dive right in!

Training Update

Tuesday 3/19: 2 mile walk – Greg and the dogs joined me on a 2-mile trail walk. It’s been awhile since we’ve had the chance to do this!

Wednesday 3/20: 2.2 miles, 12:55/mile – Pulling off an under 13-minute pace while doing a run/walk was one special feat of this day, but even more this run was fueled by passing my Salesforce Advanced Administrator exam. It was a beautiful day which always makes trail running even easier. This was a run/walk of 5 minutes running + 2 minutes walking and pure joy.

Rested Thursday to Saturday – the knee felt it!

Sunday 3/24: 5 miles, 13:13/mile – I hate comparison, but I can’t help but compare myself to myself. This run/walk (5 minute walk to warm up then 5-minute run / 3 minute walk until mile four + run all of mile 5) was at 2013 Pittsburgh Half Marathon pace! What?!?! Knee pain, what? (Ok, the knee was pained, but let’s forget about that for a few and celebrate this long run!) It was another gloriously beautiful day on the Rails to Trails and I am thankful that I was able to get out there and do this after serving at church and Greg pulling a 12-hour shift.

Registration Reminder!!!

Super important reminder because I won’t be posting another training update before the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon registration closes! March 31 is the last day to register for the weekend of events and it is also the last day to redeem WILLISDSGPM19 at checkout to save $10 on registration for the Full or Half Marathon. Thank you to everyone who already has done this – you are AWESOME!

How are the miles stacking up?

January 2019: 6 runs, 11.57 miles, 12’19″/mile

February 2019: 7 runs, 12.67 miles, 12’38″/mile

March 2019: 9 runs, 23.32 miles, 13’36″/mile

PSST! If you’ve read this far and are ready to sign up for the Marathon or Half, make sure you do and let them know I sent you by using WILLISDSGPM19 as your code when you sign up. You’ll save $10 when you do! Register here.

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Friday Favorites: March 22

This post contains affiliate links. My Friday Favorites series is designed to share things that I love and in return when you shop through my links I might earn back a small commission as a thank you for promoting the items or services. All opinions are 100% my own.

Friday Favorites: March 22

Balega Socks – Now that I am finally back into my running groove, I’m realizing how much wear and tear I’ve put on my favorite Balega running socks since getting my first pair last year. I have a love for these socks not just because they have South African roots (like my previous company) but they are so soft and make my feet feel amazing when I run. I’d show you my pairs but you have to trust me – they are dirty and worn and time to be replaced!

Whole30 Snacks– I’m back at my Whole30 journey, stripping my addiction to dairy out before I cycle back to Keto again. This means that I get to start bringing back some of my favorites like coconut Larabars and almond butter (not together, of course). Check out my mistakes from my first round if you’re considering this lifestyle.

21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership – For the past three months, I’ve had the pleasure of learning about John C. Maxwell’s Laws of Leadership at my local church. We have four more laws to cover next week, but I’ve already connected with the 17 we’ve gone through so far. The concepts are simple, yet powerful. Haven’t read this book yet? Grab your own copy on Amazon here.

Norwex– One of my friends had an in-home Norwex party this week and while I wasn’t able to attend, I shopped online (you can still shop her party here today if you’d like to help her meet her goals!). I’d bought a few things in the past – an optic rag and a kid’s dusting mitt (which Evan LOVES), but still haven’t been to a party. But my pal was amazed by the window cloth and because we’re going to be getting new windows soon (YUP!), I decided I needed to try it out myself. Motivated, I snuck Evan’s dusting mitt and cleaned up my printer yesterday. I think I’ll be hooked!

A Personal Shout-Out – On a professional level, I achieved something pretty awesome this week and it has to make one of my favorites for the week! On Wednesday, I earned my Salesforce Advanced Administrator certification and was over the moon. It propelled me to get a 2.2-mile RUN/walk in and had me smiling super cheesy. Give me a moment to shine?! 😉

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Did you swipe and see my necklace? Gifted from my BFF. 💜 it! I wore purple for her today because tomorrow she is going to have a procedure done. Please keep her and her husband in prayers as she recovers and gets in good health! 💜 you! . . . For me, today was a day of celebration! After I PASSED my #advancedadmin @salesforce exam (swipe!), I hit the trail and was able to pull off 2.2 miles. This #runwalkrun was 5 minutes running + 2 minutes walking for 4 cycles. That pace is 5 seconds slower than Friday when I ran the whole thing! 🌞 . . . Although the healing I've been praying for physically hasn't happened, today was mentally healing. Passing that exam took a weight off of me. I had the COURAGE and CONFIDENCE to take the test again and CRUSHED IT. Then I felt good enough to RUN. God is totally into the #MOVEBarriers business. 🙏 . . . @pghmarathon @p3revents #MOVEPittsburgh >> you've got just a few more days to save with code WILLISDSGPM19 when you register! 💰 . . . 🕶 from @readysetmovebox @goodr || #newbalancerunning #rocktape #kneepain #embracemypace #trailsisters #armstrongcountypa #railstotrails

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Thanks for checking out this week’s favorites! If you would like to be featured in an upcoming round-up, please check out the “work with me” page found here.

Training Tuesday: Pittsburgh Marathon Half Week 5

The post below is part of a series of posts about the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon weekend of events for which I have been selected to be a 2019 Pittsburgh Marathon official blogger. I’ve received my race registration fee in exchange for promotion of the event. All opinions are 100% my own.  This post also contains affiliate links. 

If my radio silence wasn’t enough to tell you, training has been tougher than tough the past few weeks. But my brain finally came to a place on Sunday that has me feeling better about all of this.

First of all, I have to say thank you to all of you who believe in me. Thank you for all of the encouragement and prayers. Thank you for not doubting in me even when I do. Thank you.

And thank you to all of you reading this who might just have stopped by to read a post or two. Thank you to all of you who have signed up for the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon and used my discount code – you’ve impressed me! Thank you to all of you.

Two weeks ago, I questioned, “what’s next in my half marathon journey?” and I think I finally have an answer.

Let’s Do This

As of right now, I am doing this Half Marathon. I won’t be chasing a PR. I will most likely be logging my slowest half, but I am doing this thing. I’m going to be finding a pace that works for me to run/walk and I’m going to be encouraging every single person around me to finish. This shifts the focus from me to we and I’m super pumped.

So the ‘official’ plan, just under seven weeks out is:

  • Walk the 5k on Saturday
  • Run the 1-mile with Ava and Isla on Saturday
  • On Sunday, toe the line in Corral C with the Relay runners, aiming to run the first leg of the relay (with my work team).
  • Continue on the half marathon course, slowing to a run/walk with a goal to just finish.

I looked at the Galloway plan, but I’m so behind in training that it seems impossible to pick up at this point. I’ll find my groove in the next three weekends doing my long run/walks. 

I’m Nervous

Oh, so nervous. I typically don’t quit something but my health is pretty important. And if I want to run ever again (which I do!), I need that knee to heal up. But my nerves are at taper week levels of high. Got to combat that with some prayers!

Yup, I’m still living on RockTape, Deep Blue Rub (available on my doTERRA site), and Glucosamine Chondroitin for these joints. I’ll be giving some new shoes a try soon, too. Thank God for my chiropractors. 

But beyond nervous about the time left between training and race day, I’m nervous about my weight. Getting 10,500 steps a day has been tough. I hit it 4 times last week. I also stopped the keto and have switched basically back to Whole 30 clean eating style. I’ll do this for the next three weeks until my birthday and see where things stack up. I’m one day in, guys.

Training Update

Thursday 3/7: 2.39 miles W/R, 13:23/mile – This was my first run of March and I felt on top of the world. This was a 3-minute walk, 1-minute run for 32 minutes. I felt it the next day but in the moment it felt incredible.

Friday 3/8: Arthritis Wet & Sweat at the YMCA

Saturday 3/9: 1.25 miles W/R, 14:28/mile – With a backpack on. I was meeting my friends from Rent the Chicken at the Home Show (they had a familiar face – Arianna – helping them at their booth) and I took the time to enjoy the distance between the gold lots and the convention center. I forgot to pause the run when I slowed to snap photos of the locks on the Clemente Bridge or when I took a selfie of me being a Gritty Pittsburgher running through the mud along 10th Street Bypass. Even this “slowed” pace made me happy to be “back at it”.

Monday 3/11: 2.43 miles W/R, 14:12/mile – I tried to replicate the run from Thursday before but the trail was muddy and my legs were sore. The point? I did it.

Friday 3/15: 2.0 miles, 12:50/mile – I straight up ran these two miles and felt amazing. I felt like I had the form of my 2018 half marathons and that nothing was going to stop me. I was certain I was going to turn this ship around and get to actually run the half…and then I got home and tried to go up a step. Good thing I had a chiropractor appointment that afternoon because I was in pain!

Sunday 3/17: 3 miles speed walk, 15:26/mile – Evan joined me for a speed walk. That little boy is fast but he hit a wall at about 1.5 miles…right where we turned around. It was good to have a walking buddy – ok, he even encouraged me to take a few jogs “to the next bench” before we’d walk again. We were able to pull off negative splits and our last mile was 14:29!

Monday 3/18: 2 miles W/R, 14:18/mile – That three miles was harder on me than I realized. My shins were aching and I felt like I was dragging my right leg along the whole thing. This was a five-minute walk then 2-minute run four times.

All in all, I think this is pretty good. I am at my “worst” physically and yet 18 days in have logged more miles than in January or February and I’ve finally said goodbye to the dairy and pizza for a while. I’m prepared to be a cheerleader for others who are on this journey with me.

If you are struggling with your training and know that you’ll be pulling off a “just let me finish”, I’m here for you. I’m proud of you. I’m ready to do this thing with you. Because in the end, even us “back of the packers” are just as good as the first people to cross that finish line. I see you. I love you. Now let’s #MOVEPittsburgh!

How are the miles stacking up?

January 2019: 6 runs, 11.57 miles, 12’19″/mile

February 2019: 7 runs, 12.67 miles, 12’38″/mile

March 2019: 6 runs, 13.11 miles, 14’09″/mile

PSST! If you’ve read this far and are ready to sign up for the Marathon or Half, make sure you do and let them know I sent you by using WILLISDSGPM19 as your code when you sign up. You’ll save $10 when you do! Register here.

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Friday Favorites: March 8

This post contains affiliate links. My Friday Favorites series is designed to share things that I love and in return when you shop through my links I might earn back a small commission as a thank you for promoting the items or services. All opinions are 100% my own.

It’s been a while since I’ve shared with you some of my favorite things and I’m excited to get back into this routine. I’ve been busy testing some cool products (especially running gear and faith-related items) and checked out a few cool local things, too! Time to share the things I love with all of you. <3

Friday Favorites: March 8

Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show – This one is an act fast favorite, so if you need to run off and take advantage of it and then come back to this site when you’re home, fine! The Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show is at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center through Sunday, March 10. Hours are 10-10 today and tomorrow and 10-6 on Sunday. All the details can be found here and you can see our friends from Rent the Chicken doing chicken races (a favorite!).

First time holding a chicken!

Girl, Stop Apologizing – Rachel Hollis has done it again and captivated us with another book that cuts right to how to stop being apologetic and start achieving our goals (now that we’ve washed our faces). You can get this one on Amazon (here) as I did or listen to it on Audible. Either way, be prepared to take notes and put things into action.

Behave-Aid from Kiss Your Cravings Goodbye – This lip moisturizer helps reduce the junk food cravings. I have been testing out the “No Regret Mint” flavor as a behavior modification tool as part of my attempt to get back on track after a rough six months of not eating right. It helps, but I admit that I found myself applying a little more often than necessary because I am a sucker for mint’s taste! You can get this on their site (linked above) or when you shop on Amazon with Prime shipping (here).

Spring/Summer Thirty-One Catalog – This just launched last Friday and if you haven’t seen it yet, what are you waiting for? Mermaids, Flamingos, Llamas, and Crabs made the print options as well as some amazing florals and classic prints. I’m so ready to do some summer traveling (can’t wait to spill the beans!) and the March Special is going to be perfect for getting all your travel bags ready to go. Check out my Independent Senior Consultant site, read the catalog, or book a party with me to get your items for FREE!

Thanks for checking out this week’s favorites! If you would like to be featured in an upcoming round-up, please check out the “work with me” page found here.

Another March 6

I promised I would never forget her, that I’d keep doing what I could to be sure the legacy and her faith would live on. And today, another March 6, is a day I’m going to talk about her.

Wendy might only have been days shy of 17 when she passed, but this woman had a huge impact on my teenage heart.

We were in first grade together – finding clay on the playground, mixing food dye into icing to test color combinations, and writing our first spelling words. Years later, in tenth grade, we were reunited by a work of God that was just in time for her diagnosis. I got to watch my best friend go through hell on earth with a smile all over her face and strength that never wavered.

It was her faith that got her through the cancer treatments. It was her faith that got her to remission. It was her faith that we clung to when she got that final diagnosis and said her final goodbyes.

Wendy was a true example of faith, hope, and love. When people ask me why I keep trudging on even when the going seems tough, I need to remember to tell them about her. She is the reason I move forward on the bad days – because I can’t imagine that what I am “going through” could even touch what she did and she did it with a smile.

She went back to high school even when she was sick. She lived a pretty darn near normal teenage life. She dated. She was a staple in our youth group and made us laugh, laugh out loud.

And if she did all those things while fighting her battle, I sure can get up and face my “tough” days.

I’ve lived a whole extra lifetime and am two years into the third since I lost her on earth. I’ve been given the chance to have a family, a career, and pretty good health. And I’m going to make sure that every day is a tribute to her strength and her faith and take each day as a blessing from God.

Here we are, Wendy. Another March 6 without you. You’re free of pain and I sure hope you’re smiling down on us. We love you – even the “we” that didn’t get to meet you.