Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2016 Running Resolutions

In 2016, I want to break all my PR's.  That's my biggest new Year's Resolution.  5K, 10K, Half Marathon & Marathon.  I'm running my first marathon in January so that's automatically a PR.  Gotta love those automatic PR's!  I want to run a second marathon in 2016 and beat my January time, though.  Doesn't every runner want to beat their personal record?

In order to beat ALL my PR's, I've come up with some additional resolutions to help me get there!  After all, beating a PR takes more than just showing up for the race.  Here are my 2016 Running Resolutions:

I'm particularly awesome at planning out my runs.  Take a look at my agenda!  It's full of cheerfully color-coded running distances and good intentions.  In 2016, I am going to run every run that I write down in that Lilly Pulitzer agenda. 

What helped me in college was actually writing down the time I was going to work out or run.  Dinner at your boyfriend's parents' house tonight? OK, your run is going to be on your lunch hour.  Adding that one little extra detail, the time of my run, is the key to not skipping them.  It's like an appointment you have to show up for.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not very nutrition-minded when I fuel up for my long runs.  If I know I'm committed to a 10+ mile run the next day, I've been known to eat pizza as my carbo-load.  Somewhere around mile 8 is where I begin to regret that decision.  Especially if I added in extra carbs with beer.  No more alcohol the night before my long runs.  I've seen the effects and how it slows me down the next day.  I've already committed to eliminating alcohol a week before a race so I have no problem eliminating it the night before a long training run either. 

I'm going to be using The Runner's World Cookbook and Runner's World Meals on the Run cookbooks to ensure proper nutrition.  Recipes like Mediterranean Pizza are much better options for fueling my runs than anything the pizza guy can deliver.  There are 300 recipes between these two cookbooks, so I'm pretty excited for this resolution.

I'm notorious for finishing a run and reaching for some Riesling.  In 2016, I want to focus on proper stretching and re-hydrating after runs.  Unfortunately, wine doesn't count as hydration.  I use my foam roller until it hurts but I realize I should probably roll my muscles out a longer. Plus, maybe I won't be so sore if I start fueling up properly!

I know I do not replace my running shoes often enough.  Most experts advise replacing them every 300-400 miles.  I absolutely LOVE my Asics Gel-Noose Tri 9 sneakers.

I'm currently shopping for my next pair because these puppies are about to retire.  Not replacing sneakers often enough can lead to injury and I've got a PR to beat!  Don't think I'll be beating a PR if I injure myself from running on worn-out sneakers.

I made it a goal to fit back into a pair of size 6 Lilly Pulitzer shorts by the time Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend rolls around.  It would be nice if I could fit back into all of my Lilly clothes, though!  Imagine how much faster I could run if I were 20-30 lighter?  We are talking PR territory here...

I really just want more running buddies but it would be great to see other women fall in love with running the way I have.  My Mom is participating in her first race EVER next year but I can see by the way her training is going that she's not going to be a running fanatic.  Running has changed my life so I'd like to focus more on my blog and spreading running love all around.

Well, these are the six changes I want to commit to in order to beat my PR next year.  I have a feeling 2016 is going to be a great running year for me!  I'm really looking forward to these resolutions and I can't wait to blog about how I stay committed throughout the year.  Cheers to 2016!


Note: This post includes a few Affiliate links.  Although I may receive compensation for including these links in my post, I strive for ethical excellence.   You will only see an Affiliate link to products I absolutely love. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

How to Bounce Back After the Holidays

What we eat in between Christmas and New Year's is much less important as what we eat between New Year's and Christmas.  While the holidays can be somewhat damaging to your progress, it's not enough to completely ruin all the hard work you've put in this year.  All you babes shouldn't feel guilty about indulging in holiday traditions!  It's only once a year that we get to surround ourselves with friends and family while feasting on all the food in sight.  If you're feeling a little off track and don't want to throw all motivation out the window, I'm here to help you reverse the impact of the holidays on your waistline!
I whipped up some sugary Cranberry-Rosemary Sangria and had extra helpings of mashed potatoes and I'm not afraid to admit it.  After my pants were feeling a little tight I realized I need to bounce back before I let this "winter body" get the best of me.  Fully focused on getting back into the healthy lifestyle, I've got some tips on how to bounce back after the holidays.  You'll feel totally refreshed- just in time to rock a cocktail dress on New Year's Eve!

1. Stay Away from Leftovers
When you live an active lifestyle, it's perfectly normal to eat a large plate of food (or two) on Christmas Day.  I like to call that balance.  It's even OK to have leftovers the day after Christmas.  At this point in the game, you may want to cut your losses and walk away from the remaining leftovers. 

Don't get me wrong- you shouldn't regret any of the foods you ate over the holidays.  Keeping unhealthy food around post-holidays makes it more tempting to continue with the unhealthy eating habits, though. Set your (non-refrigerated) ingredients for your morning shake out the night before to make it easier on yourself for breakfast.  You'll think twice before grabbing leftover cookies on your way to work when your normal healthy options are readily available.  Anything else you can do to avoid holiday eating will encourage your body to bounce back quickly!

2. Drink Plenty of Water
If you're feeling bloated or dehydrated from the holidays, the best trick is to replenish your body with ample amounts of water.  Remember the general rule of thumb: drink half your body weight in ounces.  For example, if you weigh 160 lb. you should be drinking 80 oz. of water daily.  You can sneak this into your protein shakes or fill up your water bottle several times throughout the day.  Whatever you do, just make sure you're getting the H2O your body needs! 

3. Clean up your Diet
Now is the time to especially focus on lean meats and raw vegetables. Remember when I said to avoid leftovers? There's one exception: turkey. I sliced up some leftover turkey breast and added raw broccoli to my salad last night and it was delicious! Focus on clean eating more particularly than usual for the next few days to help shred any weight put on over the holidays. Stay away from highly processed foods and foods high in sugar, too. These foods are OK in moderation, but for right now you want to cleanse your system of holiday indulgences.  Getting them out of your system will keep you from craving all the wrong foods. 

4. Kick up the Cardio 
In addition to any weight training you may be doing now, you'll want to sweat it out with a little extra cardio after the holidays. Sign up for a few calorie-blasting classes to help burn off any extra weight. Kickboxing is my favorite, but other options such as Spin and Zumba can be nearly as effective.  You may even want to run a few extra miles.  Not only will it help your metabolism, you'll feel more accomplished and ready for the new year! 

5. Avoid Alcohol 
With New Year's Eve approaching, this one may be a little difficult.  I plan on drinking champagne when 2016 hits, but I'm cutting alcohol out of my diet until then.  Alcohol can sneak hundreds of extra calories into your day if you're not careful.  It also tends to make us feel sluggish during our workouts.  If you want to be your absolute best in the new year, cutting down your alcohol intake for the next few days will help wonders!  Trust me, when the bloating from Christmas goes away you'll hardly even miss the alcohol. 

I am so excited for the new year.  I hope my tips have put you in the same mindset, too.  We are going to rock these next few days!  Bouncing back from holiday eating will be a breeze and now you can focus on conquering those New Year's resolutions!  Now I'm ready to watch the ball drop- how about you?!


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

2015 Wine and Dine (Half of a) Half Marathon Recap

It's taken me a while to get around to it, but I am FINALLY sharing my experience on the 2015 Wine and Dine Half Marathon at Walt Disney World.  I debated on whether or not I would ever participate in this race weekend again because of how miserable the weather was for the 2014 Wine and Dine Half Marathon.  I ultimately decided to register because the weather of a race shouldn't determine how fun it is. Because of that mentality, I STILL had a blast during the 2015 Wine and Dine Half Marathon weekend!  The heat/lightning/humidity never bothered me anyway!

I arrived on Disney property around 4:00 pm on Friday and headed straight the the expo at ESPN Wide World of Sports.  I picked up my packet, shirt, and Coast to Coast Challenge bracelet.  I did a little bit of browsing through the expo too!  I stopped to talk to Olympic runner Jeff Galloway, bought a Castle to Castle tank from Raw Threads (which is the tank I wore during the race), and admired the Marathon weekend medal display.  I can't wait to receive the six medals for Dopey Challenge next month!  I then headed to Epcot to get my first stamp in my passport towards earning the Annual Passholder wine glass!  Speaking of wine glasses- I had a hunch the Wine and Dine Half Marathon wine glasses would be sold out by the time I arrived at the expo, especially since I arrived on day two.  What do ya know?  They were long gone by the time I got there.  Luckily a friend of mine picked one up for me.  I am now 2 for 5 on snatching wine glasses for the runDisney events I've ran.  I could complain for hours about the wine glass situation but I just won't go there this time.  At least I got one!

We spent the rest of the night walking around Disney's Boardwalk and Downtown Disney.  I also carbo-loaded up on pizza.  I say you can never go wrong with pizza, pre or post-race.  

The day of the race, I headed to Magic Kingdom with my boyfriend and cousin.  We woke up around 8:00 am and planned to spend the entire day there.  Not the smartest thing I've done...  The best piece of advice I can give to you when participating in a runDisney night race is to take it easy during the day.  More specifically: avoid the parks.  I logged an extra six miles just casually walking around MK that day.  Plus, it was HOT.  Record-breaking hot.  I mean, it was in the 80's.  Splash Mountain would have seemed like a great idea if there wasn't a 50 minute wait- that's how hot it was.  Moral of the story: save the parks for after your race.

The race takes off at ESPN Wide World of Sports and ends at Epcot.  Runners can park at Epcot and take a ride to ESPN on one of the many buses, so that's what I did.  I rode with several other runners, some anxiously talking about their excitement for their FIRST EVER runDisney race or half marathon.  I remember how excited I was for my first half marathon, The 2014 Disney Princess Half Marathon so I LOVE seeing people experience it for the first time.

When our bus arrived at ESPN, the driver announced we would be staying on the bus until further notice and that runners were being "evacuated" from the starting area due to weather.  We saw lightning on the way from Epcot so none of us were really surprised at the decision.  After approximately 30 minutes, they allowed us off the bus but instructed us to take cover at The HP Field House.  I headed upstairs to sit and charge my iPhone while we waited for the weather to pass.  At this point, runners were either getting anxious because they were eager to start or they were getting tired because, like me, they had walked all over the parks that day.  I was a combination of both with a mix of FOMO that the delay would take away from the post-race party at Epcot.

I never heard an official announcement but everyone suddenly stood up and made their way to the starting line.  When heading up to corral G, I heard several announcements being made about changes to the race.  I was on Twitter so I had already seen the tweet about a shortened course.  They announced that approximately five miles were being cut from the course.  After running the course, it was apparent that 6+ miles were actually cut.  No changes were being made to the end time for the after party!  I went from mile marker 1 to mile marker 8 with approximately 3/4 of a mile in between.  I'm totally NOT complaining there! Corrals started approximately two minutes apart.  In my experience, corrals are five minutes apart on average.  I believe runDisney did whatever they could to ensure we took off as soon as possible.  With all the commotion, the race was only delayed just under 60 minutes. 

Although it never rained during our evacuation, there were rumors of fallen branches and debris on the course.  Either Disney did an exceptional job clearing everything out or the affected areas were cut out of the course because I luckily did not run into any problems.  The course was clear and although it was humid, there was no rain.  The only extreme weather condition that posed a threat to our safety was the heat.  I think runDisney communicated the dangers of the unusually high temperatures well, also reminding us to hydrate appropriately.  I definitely stopped at every Powerade/water table to stay hydrated.

The best part of this course for me has always been The Osbourne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.  It was announced earlier this year that 2015 would be the last year the light show was featured at Hollywood Studios.  I think all runners were really anticipating this part of the race.  The music was blaring and the lights were twinkling as I turned into Hollywood Studios to see the lights one last time.  Every step was bright and cheerful.  Despite the unusually warm temperatures, it actually felt like the holiday season.

I finished this "half marathon" with my first sub-2 hour time!  LOL.  I knew there was no chance at a PR on this run because of the odd distance, so I just had fun with it.  I stopped to take pictures and recorded a video while running through the lights show.  I took my time because of the humidity, but I didn't take TOO MUCH time.  I was ready to drink around the world at Epcot! I quickly accepted my finisher's medal and proceeded to the Coast to Coast tent.  Beside it was the Perfect tent for Legacy Wine and Dine Half Marathon runners.  Both tents were small, as there weren't many participants running for the Coast to Coast Challenge or legacy status. 

Upon crossing the finish line, runners can accept a glass of wine or a beer.  I absolutely love wine so I went with the wine.  Lesson learned- it was Chardonnay and it was nasty and I should have gone with a Michelob Ultra.  I don't think I'm the only one who disliked the wine because I saw many full glasses overflowing the trash cans outside the entrance to Epcot.  Next year, I'll run for beer.

We entered the park and hopped right on Spaceship Earth without a wait.  All of the rides had short lines so it was a great opportunity to get on park favorites like Test Track and Soarin'.  We then proceeded to "drink around the World" with our first stop in Dominican Republic.  After getting over his disappointment that they weren't serving Brahma, my boyfriend and I drank a Presidente.  I was on the search for food after that and headed to Ireland for the Lobster & Scallop Fisherman's pie.  OMG.  It was worth every hair-frizzing mile to get to enjoy that delicious dish.  Other options that caught my eye were the Reisling flight in Germany, the lobster roll in Hops & Barley and the DOLE WHIP SOFT-SERVE WITH BACARDI COCONUT RUM.  To my disappointment, the Dole whip machine was out of service when I went to order this long-awaited frozen concoction.  I guess that means I HAVE to run Wine and Dine again in 2016... We didn't leave the parking lot until around 4:30am.  You could definitely say we got our money's worth out of the race and after party.

I know there was a lot of negativity surrounded by this race, but I had a blast.  It's not every day you get to run around Disney and drink around the world.  For me, half the course still delivered all the fun.  I'm actually kind of relieved it was a 7-miler because I got more time to experience Epcot with my boyfriend.  We rode Test Track, drank around the world and celebrated the holidays early.  I also want to remind everyone that this race sold out in under 30 minutes.  If you're looking to run it in 2016, good luck with registration!  As an annual passholder, I couldn't get in during early registration and had to wait for it to open up to the public.  I really learned how to avoid letting weather ruin a race for me and I can't wait to experience many more Wine & Dine Half Marathons at Walt Disney World! 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Running of The Balls 2015 Recap

On December 12th 2015, I had the pleasure of running my second Running of the Balls race here in Greensboro, NC.  I've gotta tell you- it's my favorite 5k(ish) in the world.  The best way I could describe it last year was "Last nights Running of the Balls race definitely put me in the holiday spirit!  There were carolers, lights, a middle school band playing "Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel."  Did I mention there were TONS of lights? It was pretty spectacular!"  Well, there was all that and then some this year. 

For the first time ever, I got to experience a race with my Mom.  Yes, Mama Donnelly participated in the Running of the Balls with the walkers!  The company she works for, Premier Federal Credit Union, was the official sponsor of the race.  Because of this we both received free registration.  I've paid for this race in the past and I would pay to participate again so as always, you're getting my genuine opinion.

The Running of the Balls race takes place in the neighborhood of Sunset Hills off W. Market Street in Greensboro, North Carolina.  It's called the Greatest 5k(ish) on Earth, measuring in at approximately 3.3 miles.  Put on by Jones Racing Company, this race is not officially timed. 

For locals in the area, this neighborhood is known for the balls of lights hanging in the trees and dangling across the street.  Vehicles drive by nightly to look at the spectacle every year.  Runners and walkers alike have the pleasure of putting on their holiday gear and parading through the streets as carolers sing and residents pull up a chair to cheer them on.  With the unusually warm temperatures (the race started in the mid 60's) there were even more spectators than usual this year.  The course wraps around the neighborhood three times, but each lap runners can catch a different soundtrack so the experience feels fresh and new.

I picked up our packets on Thursday night at Omega on Battleground.  I only had to wait in line for a few minutes before I took off with our shirts and bibs.  Pre-race packet pickup was much more convenient than having to stand in line prior to the race.  The lines looked preeeeetty long that night.  When we got to the race, we were able to walk up to a VIP tent provided by Premier Federal Credit Union.  There was a fire pit near all the VIP tents although with the warm temperatures, we really didn't need it before the race.  Runners lined up for the 6:00 start time.  The horn signalled for us to take off around 6:08.  Although this is a VERY popular race in the area (it typically sells out a month ahead of time) they try to limit the number of participants to 3,500.  Even with the restricted number of runners, the course felt a little crowded at first.  I don't think anyone minded though.  We were all in the holiday spirit ringing our bells as we strut up the first hill. 

About half a mile in, we encountered a stage with musicians singing an original song, "Running of the Balls."  Prior to that was a middle school band, once again playing my favorite song from last year, "Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel."  Once we wrapped around back to the starting line there was the main stage with a band singing Christmas carols and covers of Top 40 hits all night.  After finishing the race, my Mom and her co-workers from Premier Federal Credit Union took off with the runners.  The course for the runners was one lap and approximately a mile. 

There were tables lined up with volunteers passing out hot chocolate and cookies for race participants.  My favorite part was the frozen yogurt provided by D'lishi in several holiday flavors.  With the temperature still in the 60's, I wasn't really in the mood for hot chocolate.  I think most runners were feeling the same way since most we waiting in line for water. 

After the race, my Mom and I stopped to get a Christmas tree and we went home and baked cookies.  I'm not even kidding.  The race put us in the holiday spirit.  Plus, it fell during Hannukah this year.  Last year's Running of the Balls took place a few days before the first night of Hannukah.

If you live near the area, I highly recommend participating in this race.  Everyone is here for the fun and it's not competitive at all.  With the shirts, refreshments and excitement, it's definitely a good value at around $35 to register.  I'm looking forward to next year's race!  Hope to see some of you there!!

Run Barbie

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Post-Race Burnout

We've all been there- We stay disciplined for months to cross the finish line of a big race. After early-morning runs and sacrificing time to put in the miles, it's all worth the sense of accomplishment. But for some reason or another, it's hard to get back into the swing of running after a race. It's that dreaded post-race burnout. Every runner faces it at one point or another. I've definitely experienced it but I am here to tell you I overcame it. You can too! I've put together my ten best tricks at overcoming post-race burnout so you can enjoy runnning again. You may even break a PR!

The first three tips are actions you can do BEFORE your race. You can definitely prepare yourself to avoid crashing before you even get to the starting line.

1. Register for another race 
It sounds silly to register yourself for another race before even completing your next one. Trust me on this. Having another race to look forward to is motivating. It also eliminates a lot of room for excuses. When you invest money into another race, you are more likely to train for it. Set a goal for it, too. You don't have to set a new PR with every race. For example, I've set a goal for a future race that has nothing to do with my time. I want to fit into a pair of size 6 Lilly Pulitzer shorts that have been sitting in my drawer. This goal involves overall fitness and eating well. I may hit a PR because of it, but I'm focusing on the goal itself.

Be realistic when planing your next race. Keep in mind the amount of time it will take to recover. Some runners plan races back to back. It's great to do race weekends back-to-back. Consider how back-to-back races may contribute to burnout, though. Be realistic, too. Another race a week or two apart won't help you in the long term. I suggest committing to a race 2-3 months after. Races in between are even better! Anything to keep you focused will help.

2. Pre-determine how much time you will take off 
It's easy to cross a finish line and decide you won't run again for another month. It's smarter to pre-determine how much time you'll take to rest and STICK TO IT! One or two weeks is a good amount of time to recover from a half marathon or marathon. Make that determination while you're still disciplined and training for your race.

3. Find an accountability partner 
I have formed several friendships with fellow runners from group boards. We text each other about our runs and stay accountable for the miles we need to put in. You could join a running club for support, too. If you're lucky enough to have a local friend with a passion for running, run together! There are so many ways to connect and stay accountable. Your partner doesn't need to run all the same races as you, either.

The next several tips you can take advantage of immediately following your race.

4. Take care of your body 
You just put your body through a lot. Foam rolling, hydrating yourself, and icing joints are all important at this stage in your training. You may even want to do a little bit extra and take a bubble bath or get a massage or pedicure. The hardest run of your training is likely to be your race so make sure your body feels great afterwards. Aches and pains lead to excuses and there's no time for excuses when running!

5. Don't over-indulge during your post-race meals 
My favorite food to eat after a race is cheese fries. Preferably waffle fries with shredded Monterey Jack and ranch on the side. I limit myself to one order and normally follow it with a salad. Eating pizza and burgers for your next few meals will most likely make your body feel like crap. Just try to enforce a little healthy balance and you'll be fine. Also, keep in mind a half marathon burns approximately 1,500-1,800 calories so you don't want to go overboard.

6. Take an energy supplement 
I don't drink coffee or soda, so I don't get caffeine regularly. I do however, add a booster to my protein shakes occasionally. With long runs I usually feel like I need an energy booster but I don't want something to have a negative impact on my runs. My favorite natural option is Focused Energy. Just one scoop gives me enough energy to tackle a long run or stay focused after working long hours. It prevents me from crashing after a race, too. 

Following these six steps should make the next four steps a piece of cake!  Ahhhh I love cake.

7. Reward yourself for hitting your goal. 
When you set a goal for your race, attach a reward to it.  For example, I decided I would buy myself a new Lilly dress if I beat my PR during the 2015 Wine and Dine Half Marathon.  We all know how that race went...  It doesn't have to be a splurge.  I have made a tradition out of buying a new Disney Alex and Ani bracelet for every runDisney weekend I participate in.  You could make a charm bracelet and add a charm for every race.  There are so many ways to reward yourself for hard work.  Don't allow food to be a reward, though!

8. Show off your pictures/certificate 
In my cube at work, I have a certificate and/or medal hanging for every race I've completed.  It's nice to look at and remind myself what I'm capable of.  You'll be motivated to get back into running when you add a new commemorative piece to your collection.

9. Get new gear 
Sometimes a new pair of running shorts are all I need to get in the miles I need.  I find myself buying a new running item anytime I'm starting to lose motivation.  I bought new socks this week and was able to stick to my runs because I was excited to try them out.  It's the little things.  If running is your passion, spending a few bucks here and there shouldn't make you feel guilty.

10. Schedule runs and STICK TO THEM 
Each week I write down which days I'm going to run and how many miles I'll need to put in.  It makes it easier to break your plan down into weeks.  It's less intimidating and more achievable this way.  When I know I have a run on a busy day, I'll even write down what time I can squeeze in the run.  I did this in college when planning homework and studying and rarely missed a workout.  Most days I'll write out a To-Do list and even though I'll have a run written down in my planner, I'll still add the run to the check list.  There's something rewarding about checking a run off your list.

I hope these tips help you!  Let me know which ones you find most effective and what race you're training for!  I'd love to hear your feedback!