Training for Tuesday Kickoff!


When Alyssa and I first started talking about this link-up just a few weeks ago, this was not the post I thought I'd be writing. I thought I'd be sharing the ins and outs of training for my 3rd marathon (that's counting in my life, and this year), the Richmond Marathon. I thought I'd be talking about getting up to 18 miles, and how I thought I'd break 4:30.

I've been training for this race since early July. I completely underestimated how much summer training would be involved for a November marathon, but despite that, I've somehow managed to hit all my goal distances and paces. Just meeting this goals hasn't been enough, though. My heart just hasn't been in this training cycle, even from the beginning. Truthfully, it's been a long time coming, but after my long run this past weekend, I made a decision:

I dropped to the half marathon. 

I've been following a training plan but something just hasn't been clicking. I've run half marathon+ distances every weekend for the last 2 months, but to be honest, I've been struggling to get much further past that point. The thought of running another 10+ miles on top of what I've been running every weekend just doesn't sound fun to me right now. Two weekends ago I ran 17 miles, and the weekend after I was supposed to run 18. That's when when the wheels came off. I was already mentally struggling with the idea of my long runs, and that day, thinking about running for 3 hours through the mountains, I just couldn't take it anymore. And I panicked. I've never backed down on a goal halfway through training for it. It felt...wrong. I thought I was just being emotional and I needed to tough it out. I did end up running 3 miles in the morning and another 10 at night, but I wasn't confident about running the full. I told myself I'd take the week to evaluate and make a decision, since I was a week ahead of my training schedule and the race transfer date was approaching.

At the beginning of last week, I was pretty sure I was going to run the full. I had just had a bad run and needed to shake it off. Everyone bonks sometimes. Until 11.5 miles into my 13-mile run last week, I was still planning to run the full. Then, all of a sudden, I had a moment of clarity. I was happy to drop down to the half. There is something really magical and special about the marathon. One thing I am confident about is that I am not done with marathoning. Maybe I'm done with it this year, or this decade, or until I'm done with school, or until I move somewhere flatter, but I'm not done forever. I'm excited to revisit the beast that is the marathon when the time is right - I think I'll know when the time comes. But it's been over a year since the last time I focused on any distance under 26.2, and honestly, I'm kind of happy to get off the marathon train for now.

One thing that was important to Alyssa and me for this linkup was to share that ALL goals are good and worthy, so I felt like it was important to practice what I preach and put this out there. I don't know why, but this was a hard lesson for me to learn. I don't know at what point my brain got hard-wired into thinking the only thing I could do from this point forward is run marathons. To be totally honest with you, I'm still having a little trouble accepting it. I know my heart isn't really into committing to training, but I still felt a little sadness clicking the "Transfer" button. But I know it's the right thing to do. I don't need to run super long distances to feel good or validated. This is better for my schedule. It will allow me to add in speed work and even race some shorter distances. I'll be able to run some of my favorite fall races. I'm excited to have different goals (mainly speedy goals!) to work toward. I'm excited to not be so tired and hungry all the time.  I'm excited to not constantly worry how I can perfectly schedule my time so I can get in all of my runs and my school commitments. I'm excited to have my weekends back and not have them completely revolve around running. I'm excited to have a little more balance in my life.

So! Now that the marathon is off the table, I'm super thrilled to kick off this first edition with Training for Tuesday with the goals I've decided to work on: PR's all around! It has been a year and a half since the last time I trained for and raced a half marathon. I've put in a lot of miles in that time, and that has naturally led me to some unexpected PR's, but I'm excited to see what I can really do if I train specifically for shorter distances.

5k (Goal race: TBD - hopefully November or December. Anyone got a good 5k in southwest VA, Virginia Beach, or Raleigh that I should run?!))
  • Realistic Goal: beat my official PR by over a minute (under 26:00)
  • Reach Goal: beat my unofficial PR (under 25:27)
  • Crazy Goal: sub-8 minute pace (under 24:49) *please note this would require taking 13 seconds per mile off my unofficial time and running a pace with a 7 on the front for the first time in my life!
10k (Goal Race: Wicked 10k, October 25)
  • Realistic Goal: beat my official PR by over a minute (under 54:00)
  • Reach Goal: beat my unofficial PR (under 52:42)
  • Crazy Goal: under 52:00
Half Marathon (Goal Races: Hokie Half, October 12; City of Oaks Half, November 2; Richmond Half, November 15)
  • Realistic Goal: beat my official PR under 2:09:59)
  • Reach Goal: under 2:00:00
  • Crazy Goals:
    • Sub-9 minute pace (under 1:57:46)
    • 45 minutes faster than my first half (under 1:57:21)
I already had two halfs scheduled as part of my marathon training, and now dropping to the half for Richmond gives me a total of three chances to shoot for one or all of my half marathon goals. Those races will also qualify me for Half Fanatics for the second time - maybe I'll even join this time since I might actually feel like it's true. I'm most excited about the half and shooting for my first (official) sub-2. It's been an elusive goal for such a long time and one that I never in a million years thought was attainable (even moreso than a marathon, I think). Even back when I didn't know if I'd ever be able to run a full 5k, let alone any longer distance, I think deep down I always knew I could get through any distance given enough time. That's why I attempted a marathon in the first place - I knew it wouldn't be fast, but I knew I could get it done. Speed has always been another, completely different story. It's why my 10k PR race is one of proudest running moments. As a girl who started out with a 38 minute 5k, there was no part of me that ever though I could be a fast runner (and yes, 8-9 minute miles is fast to me).

Now it's your turn! Party time!

1. Write a blog post about whatever fitness-related goal you're working toward. It can be ANYTHING. No goal is too big or too small. You might write about...
- A race or triathlon you're currently in training for, like Alyssa and I
- Your weightlifting goal of any kind
- Your goal to establish a workout or fitness routine, like hit the gym 3 times a week or start going to weekly yoga classes
- A goal to touch your toes by X date
- Your goal to be able to run a mile without stopping (FYI: It wasn't long ago that Alyssa and I both started out with this as a goal!)
- A time or distance personal record (PR) with running, swimming, biking, anything!
- Your goal to tone those calves and quads
- Headstand, handstand, crow pose, or whatever pose or asana currently alludes you
- Anything else you can think of!
2. Link up your post with Alyssa and I below

3. Add the button to your post or your sidebar and/or link back to either Alyssa or I in your linked
post so your readers can find similar posts and we can all connect!

4. We'd love to create a community of ass-kickers here, so hop around to other linked blogs and read about the goals others in our little family are working toward. A few words of support, advice, encouragement, or even commiseration can go a very long way. Spread the love and build your community of cheerleaders and motivators!

5. Go out there and keep being awesome!

We'll be back for around round on October 28! Check in with us and let us know how you're doing!


Sometimes you get lost and have to improvise on a long run because somehow when you mapped your route, it started from the other side of the highway instead of from your house.

Sometimes you have to take an honest look at what's in your heart...and sometimes that means changing your race registration from full marathon to half marathon.

Sometimes you plan to go an event 3 hours away and it turns out to be lamer than you thought it was going to be...but sometimes that's okay when you're with your favorite people (and dogs).

Sometimes you stay up later than your race eve bedtime playing Cards Against Humanity with your favorite sisters- and brothers-in-law (which also happens to be all of them).

Sometimes instead of getting enough sleep for your race, you have to rub your husband's temples and try to coax his pounding headache away.

Sometimes you do a triathlon and totally (accidentally) grab another girl's butt during the swim. Like, the whole thing. All of it.

Sometimes after spending half the weekend in the car, when you get home you have to eat Chipotle for dinner and watch New Girl instead of doing work.

And sometimes you forget to remind people about a certain link-up you're co-hosting, which happens to be tomorrow...


Whatever you're training for, working on, or thinking about going for, Alyssa and I wanna hear alllll the details. Link up with us tomorrow and tell us all about it!

Triathlon Deconstructed: Getting Your Feet Wet (Figuratively)

Last week I asked you guys if you'd be interested in hearing more about the ins and outs of triathlon. Some of you said you were interested but didn't know where to start, some of you said you might not ever do one but you think it's interesting, and some of you were somewhere in between. Today begins a series of posts that I hope will be informative and helpful no matter where you fall on that spectrum!

Let's just get one thing out of the way first (and this isn't meant to intimidate or overwhelm anyone, just keeping it real): triathlon is pretty...involved. Even if you're used to running races, you'll probably be surprised to find out that there are a few more logistics involved (I know I was). But don't let that scare you! It seems like a lot at first, but it's actually pretty easy to get it all down.

Before we get into the minutiae, let's talk basics. In case you haven't figured it out yet, it's called a TRIathlon because it's 3 sports rolled into one. Genius, right? Those sports are swimming, biking, and running. Always in that order. There are several different distance races, but the swim and bike portions can vary a little to a lot:

  • Sprint: 300-750 meter swim, 10-15 mile bike, 2 mile - 5k run (5k is most common by far but I have seen them with 2 mile runs)
  • International/Olympic: 1500 meter swim, 20-25 mile bike, 10k run
  • Half-Ironman (a.k.a. 70.3 - the total number of miles): 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run
  • Ironman: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run
I'm going to assume we're all starting at the sprint level. In case those distances mean nothing to you, I'll give you my time stats since I'm pretty middle-of-the-pack: 300 meters is 6 laps (down and back = 1 lap) in a pool and takes me about 6-7 minute; 750 meters takes around 15 minutes. A 10 mile bike ride takes me about 35 minutes, 15 miles is 50-55 minutes. The 5k run takes about 28 minutes. The whole thing usually takes me about an hour and 20 minutes from start to finish. 

So what are you getting yourself into? Some basics before we get into the details next week:

  • Time commitment: You can pull off a sprint with as few as 3 hours per week of training, spread over 5-6 days.
    • Swim: 2-3 sessions per week @ 30 minutes each
    • Bike: 2-3 sessions per week @ 30-60 minutes each
    • Run: 2-3 sessions per week @ 30 minutes each
  • Cost investment: $500+ to get you started
    • Gear: This is going to be the biggest up front cost (namely for the bike, if you don't already have one or can't borrow one from a friend). Plan to spend at least $400 on a decent road bike setup, plus another $100 for odds and ends like goggles, running shoes, and race belt if you don't already have them.
    • Race entry: Triathlons are going to run more than your usual 5k fee - but if you look at the cost per mile or the fact that you're getting 3 sports for that 1 fee, it actually comes out to be cheaper. Sprints are usually $50-$60 (and increase the closer you get to race day, so signing up earlier is always cheaper). On top of that race fee you'll pay an additional $12 1-day USAT membership as well, which is required for all participants (annual USAT memberships are $45, so if you think you're going to do 4 or more races, it's cheaper to purchase an annual membership than pay the 1-day fee every race; for 3 races or fewer, you're better off paying the fee).
  • Experience level required: So, I can only speak from my personal experience, so take it as you will.
    • Swim: I can swim....I like swimming...I'm naturally pretty good at swimming...but prior to training for my first tri I had never swam for exercise before. My swimming experience was limited to playing around in pools and at the beach in the summertime. Even though I knew how to swim, I had never swam a lap in a pool. If you have no clue how to swim, honestly I think that's a skill everyone should have so this is a great opportunity for you to learn! 
    • Bike: Like swimming, I knew how to ride a bike but had never done so other than recreationally. I got my first road bike about a year before I did my first tri (I had a running injury and needed something else to do for a couple months). So I had been riding about once a week for a year, but never more than 15-20 miles (actually I still don't ride much more than that if I can help it...I hate cycling). Riding a bike seems like another useful skill so even if you don't know how, now could be a good time for you to start. 
    • Run: Of the 3 disciplines, I had the most running experience. I had been running for two years and had completed distances up to half marathons so I was very comfortable with the 5k run for the tri. It would help to be comfortable running a mile or two, but you could totally work up to the 5k distance as part of your tri training.
And that's all you need to get started! Not too bad, right? If any of that seemed elementary, it's not because I think you're dumb, it's because I was (still am tbh) dumb. These are all things I had questions about or didn't even know to ask about. My goal is to provide as comprehensive a guide as I can so you can tackle your first tri. In the coming weeks we'll chat about gear, training, the race itself, and more. Please let me know if there is anything in particular you're curious about!

Sometimes I Wear Clothes That Aren't Spandex

I have a wedding to go to in October and since all of my dresses are more appropriate for spring and summer, I needed something to wear. Enter: eShakti! I'm sure most of you have heard of this company by now, but if not, here's the deal: eShakti is a company that sells custom-made women's clothing. I've read several other reviews of this company, some good, some not-so-good, so when they contacted me with an opportunity to try out an item of my choosing, I was excited to check it out for myself!

Disclaimer: I was provided an item of my choice in exchange for this review. All thoughts and opinions are completely my own.

One of the great things about eShakti's ordering process is that they offer several options for customization. I can't even count how many times I've seen a dress and thought, "That's cute, if only [insert detail here] were like [insert change here] instead." After browsing their designs - they mostly sell dresses but have tops and skirts as well - I settled on the Havana dress (already knowing that it wasn't *quite* right but that was okay - I knew I could change it!). The dress shown was sleeveless, but since I knew I wanted to wear it to the wedding in the fall, I opted to add a cap sleeve.

Another option they offer is custom sizing. I chose not to enter in my measurements and instead chose one of the sizes already offered. Looking at the sizing chart, my personal measurements appeared to be close enough to what was listed that I didn't think I needed a custom size. However, as a pear-shaped lady, I still think it's super awesome to have that option! Since my top and bottom sizes aren't usually the same, it can be frustrating having to choose between an article of clothing being too small on the bottom or too big on top. The dress I chose is fitted at the top and with a full skirt, but if I had chosen something more form-fitting on the bottom, I definitely would have gone with the custom sizing option. The customization fee is only $7.50 which sounds really reasonable to me (unless, like me, you have a sewing-savvy mom who does all your alterations for you for free).

The full skirt was way too much fun!
Since everything is custom made, it did take about 10 business days for my dress to actually ship. However, once it was in transit, it arrived really fast, especially considering it came all the way from India. I'll be honest - I really wasn't sure what to expect when I opened the package. I was pleasantly surprised that my first impression was that the dress was really good quality! The fabric was a nice weight cotton - not too light, not too heavy. When I unwrapped the dress and put it on for the first time, it was love at first sight! I was amazed that it fit perfectly, the color was great, and the design was super cute! I liked the retro feel to the design, and it's versatile enough that I'm already planning to wear it to the wedding and over the Thanksgiving holiday (with a cardigan and tights).

As a courtesy to my readers, eShakti is offering 10% off all orders with the code tracytris!

Runner's Tell All: Race Bucket List (Honorable Mentions)

It's time for another round of the Runner's Tell All linkup with Amanda @ The Lady Okie and Beka @ Sunshine to the Square Inch. I'm super excited this month because the topic is "Race Bucket List" AND I'm co-hosting! There's even a giveaway of some fun running goodies (and we know I love running goodies).

I already shared my race bucket list last month, but I'm happy this topic came up in the link-up because honestly? It wasn't easy narrowing down the plethora of races around the globe to only a select few. So today I'm sharing some races that didn't quite make my list but still get an honorable mention! I hit a lot of big, internationally-renowned races on my first list, but I have a few more in mind that might not be on your radar already.

A Christmas Story 5k/10k Run
There is only one Christmas movie on the planet that I like, and that movie is A Christmas Story. I've been watching the marathon on TBS Christmas Eve & Day for as long as I can remember there being Christmas. If you added up all the hatred I have for every other Christmas movie ever, my love for this movie would be equivalent. Anyway. Did you know that you can run a 5k from the department store to the Christmas Story house and museum?! Well, you can. There is a virtual option as well if you can't make it to Cleveland. I plan to do the virtual race this year but maybe one year I'll make it to Cleveland!
I mean honestly, I feel like every medal I get is a major award, so how great would it be to actually have one that says so?!

Virginia Tech Run in Remembrance (3.2 for 32)
If you've been around here for a while, you already know that I'm a Hokie. If I'm not mistaken, this event was started in 2009 (the year I graduated), but I didn't even give participating a second thought because I was not a person who could run .2 miles, let alone 3.2. When this race rolled around on April 16, 2011, I was no longer living in Blacksburg, but I still wasn't a runner. But for some reason, that year I had a thought that even if I couldn't run, I could do something.  So Ben and I did our own 3.2 mile walk for 32 around our city where we were living. I had toyed a little bit with the idea of trying to learn to run before then, and I've always found it hard to pinpoint exactly what made me finally start, but walking that day and thinking about how one day I wanted to actually be able to run 3.2 for 32 was the catalyst. A week later I laced up and went out for my first day of Couch to 5k, and the rest is history. This race is truly the race that changed my life - and I've never even done it.

Tarpon Springs Triathlon
Once upon a time After I graduated from college, I lived for a year in a town outside of Tampa, FL called Tarpon Springs. This was about a year before the word exercise was a part of my vocabulary, so needless to say, I was completely unaware of any fun race opportunities in the area (I've since learned that the Tampa area is a pretty big fitness and especially triathlon hub - who knew?!). I've now heard of several different tris in the area but I was surprised to find that there is one in Tarpon Springs! The start is at a beach I used to go to, only a few miles from where I was living (which, at the time, felt like an impossible distance to travel any way other than by car, if that gives you any idea of my fitness level back then). Luckily this is a short race, a bit shorter than a traditional sprint distance. I don't think I could handle Florida weather much longer than that.

Cooper River Bridge Run
So technically, this was my first race ever - it was 1988, I was 6 months old, and my mom walked it while she pushed me along in my stroller. Somehow I don't think that counts? Even though I moved away from Charleston when I was 9 and don't plan on ever moving back, it's where my roots are and will always be. That's why I couldn't imagine running my first marathon anywhere else. I remember driving across the old Cooper River Bridge when I was a kid. I remember seeing the new Cooper River Bridge for the first time when I was back visiting family and being in awe of it. Those experiences largely guided me on the path of becoming a civil engineer, and running the CRBR is another experience I can't wait to add to that list.

NYRR Midnight Run
You couldn't pay me enough money to go to Times Square for New Years, but a race through Central Park that starts at the stroke of midnight sounds like my kind of NYE party!

Ragnar Relay
Ragnar is self-described as an "overnight team running relay." As running is a largely solitary sport, the idea of being a part of a team and having a shared experience working toward the same goal (even if you're not all working at the same time) really appeals to me. These relays start in one city and finish in another ~200 miles away, while team members take turns running various legs of the course.  There aren't a ton of locations but I'm thinking DC or the Pacific NW sounds like a good time. Now who wants to join my team?!

Any race on April 23, 2016
Why that date? Because it will be my 5 year running anniversary, which I would have found unbelievable on my first day of Couch to 5k, and I can't think of a better way to celebrate than by running a race that day.

Now, onto the free stuff (the real reason you made it down this far)...

This month's giveaway includes a $15 iTunes gift card (get yourself some new running jams!) a homemade clutch that Beka made that says RUN on it (who says running declarations have to be limited to your workout clothes?!), and some bobby pins that match the clutch (because you are NOT going to look cute running with your hair all in your face, sorry)..

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • You MUST leave a comment on the person’s blog who linked up directly before you. This is not a linkup for the sake of linking up. This is a linkup to build community and spread the love and encouragement to your fellow runners! Don’t be lame.
  • Do not share links to unrelated running posts or to your blog’s homepage, or we will have to delete your link. (I’ve done it before too, so I’m not joking.)
  • Please link back to either Beka or Amanda in your post so others can come here and join in! Or grab the button below and add it to your post.
  • Have fun!

It's Okay.

It's okay that I totally stole this post idea from Kay (Or at least I hope it's okay).

It's ok that I got makeup on my (white) shirt before going to a career fair.

It's okay that I have four loads of dirty laundry that I'm not doing anything about.

It's okay that I only, finally did the dishes because I ran out of silverware. 

It's okay that I stuffed my face with Chipotle last night because I didn't even have enough time to go home and make dinner.

It's okay that I have only worked out once this week (is that okay? I'm not convinced). 

It's okay that I might not get a chance to bike and/or swim before my next tri next weekend.

It's okay that I don't know how I'm going to run a marathon when I don't even feel like I can run 8 miles today.

It's okay that I don't even really want to run because I am getting sick of hills and missing my old route.

It's okay that I am basically failing at all of my September goals.

It's okay that this post is pretty much just a wall of text except for cats.

It's okay that this week has felt like a giant shitstorm. Because at least it's almost over!

The One Where I Won

When we last left off, it was the eve of my first race in 3+ months and I had no idea what to expect. Would I still remember how to transition? Would the hills kill me? Would I pee in the water before I started?
(Answer key: 1. Y; 2. N; 3. Y)

When I lined up for the swim, I got a little bit nervous but I made myself shake it off. I told myself it was just like swimming in a pool, and that actually turned out to be true. I don't think I've ever swam in a lake before but it was quite pleasant since there were no waves or current. It was a small race so the start wasn't very congested at all. I only had to maneuver around people for the first 50 yards or less, and from then on I was pretty much by myself. I settled into a nice stroke almost right away. I didn't feel like I was swimming super fast, but I did feel like it was a very solid swim. I passed a lot of people and by the time I got about halfway I noticed that there were a lot of pink caps behind me, and not many in front of me. I started feeling like maybe the small competition field would work in my favor and I'd even have a decent shot of doing well. My goal for the swim was to wing it: Check plus!

I got out of the water in just over 10 minutes, which was a little slower than I was expecting, especially considering the fact that I was ahead of most of the other women. As I ran to T1 I felt a little disoriented but I got my bearings back pretty quickly. All I had to do was throw on my shoes and helmet and grab my bike, so transition was pretty quick. I had laid out a shirt and jacket to put on in case it rained but I totally forgot to put them on.

I ran out of transition to the mount line and took off on the bike. I was no longer that nervous about the bike, probably because I realized that being nervous wasn't going to change the course! It had been misty off an on all morning, but it started raining within a couple minutes of when I got on the bike. We started off with a couple of climbs, but the course actually ended up being a lot of rolling hills, and only a couple were bad. It was actually very similar to the rides I've been doing in Blacksburg, maybe a little bit more challenging but honestly the difference was pretty negligible. I almost crashed around 5 miles in - I was blowing snot rockets (seriously, if you don't like bodily fluids, triathlon is probably not the sport for you) and veered off to the side of the road. By the time I realized it was happening, I was about to go off the road and onto the gravel/grass on the side of the road. Luckily I managed to clip out and stop before I totally wiped out. I've had close calls like that in other races but I've never actually almost crashed, so in a way I was glad to have that experience over with!

Since we went up on the way out, the way back was a breeze! Except for the fact that the steepest hill occurred on the way back. I honestly wasn't sure if my bike was going to fall over and/or if I was going to have to get off and walk it up the hill. Thankfully I made it (slowly) without either of those things happening. I didn't set my watch up correctly before I started so I wasn't sure exactly how fast I was going, but I was able to tell that it was definitely faster than I've been averaging on my weekly rides so yay for that! I hadn't seen anyone else in my age group, except for maybe one person (but I couldn't make out if her age said 29 or 39 so I wasn't sure), so I was thinking I was either ahead and still had shot at placing, or I was really behind, or there was just no one else in my age group. My goal for the bike was just to get through it and do my best: Check!

The bike went by pretty quickly and before I knew it, I was back to transition for T2. I was sad to realize that, since it had rained, everything I had laid out on my towel was soaking wet, including my running shoes. I put them on and grabbed my race belt and put that on as I ran out of transition.

Finally, I was out on the run! My goal for the run was to have a good, fast run and maybe a PR, but as soon as I ran out of transition I realized that was not going to be happening today. Not because my body wasn't going to allow it, but because the course wasn't. I had read the morning of the race that the run course was "10% roads, 90% trails" and, being a person who has never really run trails, I was exactly sure how bad it would be. So we started off running through a little bit of grass and dirt to get to the trail, and once we got to it, it was paved so I thought, "Oh whew! A paved trail!" That lasted less than half a mile, at which point I kept following the pavement and the lady in front of me, and we and 2 other guys got lost. We realized we must have missed a turn (which was not marked, at all), so we turned around back where we had come from and sure enough there was like 2 foot wide dirt trail going straight up a hill, and that's the path we were supposed to take. Seriously, some course marking would have been great at that point.

From that point on it was all hilly dirt trails through the woods. Again, I hadn't set my watch up correctly so I never knew exactly how fast or far I was running, but I could tell that my pace was in the 11-minute range. If this had been on pavement I would have been pissed, but honestly it was the best I could do on the trails! I felt good and like I was running my normal 9-minute pace. It wasn't hard, per se, it was just different. I don't generally hike, but personally I would say the terrain we were on is better suited for hiking than running. It was kind of fun because it was seriously mentally engaging trying to make sure I didn't fall and trip on a tree root or slip on a wet rock or fall in mud, but that obviously slowed me down big time. Oh and there's also the part where I missed another turn about 2 miles in. We came to a fork in the middle of the woods and there was no way to tell which way to go. Again...some course marking would have gone a long way. I'm glad I gave up any expectations for the run as soon as I saw the course, because my run time ended up being my slowest in years, although I have no idea what my pace actually was since I definitely ran more than 5k. I wasn't disappointed with my time since I felt good and did my best, but it definitely didn't satisfy my need for a fast race. When we did finally get to run on the road for the last tenth of a mile, my legs felt great and I knew they would have been up for a fast run, maybe even a PR, if the whole course had been roads. Good thing there's always next time! ;)

Even with the crazy conditions (both course and weather), I still felt happy as a clam the almost the whole time! After I finished I met up with my friend Carl, who had come into town to race with me. We collected our stuff from transition and went to put it in the car, then came back to the post-race activities. He wanted to stay for a bit to find out if he had placed. We were shocked to find out that we both took first in our age groups! It sort of feels like cheating to me to place in such a small race (it's happened to me a few other times) but they still gave me a medal so I'll take it!

This race shirt is on point! Maybe my fave 3 for sure.

On a related note: I've talked to several of you about how you would like to try a tri (get it???) but are maybe intimidated and/or don't know where to start...would you be interested in a series of posts breaking it down, kind of a beginner's guide? There is definitely a lot more involved than a regular running race and it can be overwhelming and confusing. I honestly doubt I would have ever gotten into it if I didn't have other people to look to for experience and advice! Just something I'm thinking about and am curious to see if there's any interest! Doing your first tri could be a GREAT goal to link up with Alyssa and me on the 30th...just sayin' ;)

The Good, The Bad, and The Ouch

- I had a beer on Friday even though it wasn't one of my cheat days

+ It gave me a little headache (to be fair, it wasn't exactly a light beer), and I didn't really like how it made me feel in general (although it did taste good!). Counting that as a plus because the whole reason I wanted to do this challenge was so I could get out of the habit of having a beer with dinner more often than not...definitely on the right track! 

+ My triathlon Saturday morning was...eventful. Good in some ways, not so good in others, but a plus overall. Check back for a full report tomorrow!

- I think my beloved Newtons are toast after the tri. It rained all morning and since my shoes sat out in transition while I was out on the swim and bike, they were completely soaked by the time I put them on for the run. So now I have these beauties on the their way to me! It was a long time coming, but it was still hard to pony up the cash for a new pair. Not to mention the anxiety of not knowing whether I'll like the new version. Fellow runners, please tell me that the struggle to replace your shoes is real?!

+ I went to Target and only bought what I went in to get. I talked myself out of a $35 impulse buy and I remembered to use the coupon I had for what I did buy!

+/- I came THISCLOSE to deleting my Facebook account. I've deleted it once before but you know they never really delete it so after a few months I reactivated it. I've been slowly caring less and less about most of the stuff I see when I check it, and this weekend I realized there is actually nothing on there that I care about. I didn't delete it but I did log out so even if I do go to check it out of habit, I'll probably end up closing that tab before I sign in.

+/- I wasn't entirely sure that I was actually going to (the reason for the minus), but I did in fact run 17 miles Sunday morning. The first half was good, then the negative self-talk and the doubt started about halfway in, but I snapped out of it after a couple miles and finished the last 5 or so I had left. The pace I ran would put me great position to finish Richmond in a time I'd be really happy with.

- After my run I was basically a good-for-nothing sloth and spent the rest of the day on the couch like this:

+ Alyssa and I hammered out some details for the training linkup we're hosting! Check it out:

1. Write a blog post about whatever fitness-related goal you're working toward. It can be ANYTHING. No goal is too big or too small. You might write about...
- A race or triathlon you're currently in training for, like Tracy and I
- Your weightlifting goal of any kind
- Your goal to establish a workout or fitness routine, like hit the gym 3 times a week or start going to weekly yoga classes
- A goal to touch your toes by X date
- Your goal to be able to run a mile without stopping (Tracy and I both started out with this as a goal!)
- A time or distance personal record (PR) with running, swimming, biking, anything!
- Your goal to tone those calves and quads
- Headstand, handstand, crow pose, or whatever pose or asana currently alludes you
- Anything else you can think of!
2. Link up your post with Alyssa and I on the last Tuesday of the month (we're kicking things off on September 30th!)
3. Add the button to your post or your sidebar and/or link back to either Alyssa or I in your linked post so your readers can find similar posts and we can all connect!
4. We'd love to create a community of ass-kickers here, so hop around to other linked blogs and read about the goals others in our little family are working toward. A few words of support, advice, encouragement, or even commiseration can go a very long way. Spread the love and build your community of cheerleaders and motivators!
5. Go out there and keep being awesome!

We'll be back every month with another link-up post where you can either tell us about how you did on this last goal, ask for help on how to make your dreams a reality, or share a new goal! We'll keep you posted on the dates, but mark down the last Tuesday of the month as the Training for Tuesday so we can all stay up-to-speed on each other's progress.

Are you in?

Race Day is the Best Day!

Tomorrow morning, after a 3-month dry spell, I will finally be lining up at a start line again! Figuratively speaking, that is. There isn't really a start line for a triathlon per se...sometimes you stand at the edge of the water, sometimes you tread water while you wait (but either way you pee your wetsuit one last time before you start). I'm not even sure which type of start applies to the race I'm doing tomorrow. I guess I'll let you know next week!

So like I said, this is the first race, of any kind, that I've done in 3 months. I haven't had that much time in between races since 2012. It was unusual for my race schedule to be so light this summer but moving in July kind of put the kibosh on a couple races I would have normally done. I'm oddly nervous about this one tomorrow! It's a sprint triathlon, a distance I haven't done in a year, but that shouldn't matter because it's only half the distance of the last tri I did in June. I have no time goals or anything, so that's not a reason to be nervous. I think it's because it's my first one in a new place and I have no idea what to expect! 

Even though I don't have any time goals, I do have a game plan:

Swim: Wing it. I haven't been swam more than maybe 10 times this summer, but when I have it's been like 1200-1600m. This a short swim (500m), so I think I'll make it. I haven't swam in open water since June, but it's in a lake so I don't think it will be too bad.

Bike: Do my best. I am not a strong cyclist to begin with, but I can do decently well on flat roads. Since there are no flat roads here to speak of, my bike speed has suffered big time. The elevation profile does not look like my idea of a good time. If you don't know how to read one of these things...every time the blue line goes up, I go up :(. At least the torture will end after only 12.5 miles. 

Run: Kill it. This is probably not the best plan. I have a 17-miler to run Sunday morning so I should probably take it easy, but mama needs a new 5k PR. It will depend on how dead my legs feel after the bike. Also I have no idea what the course is like but I think it may include some trails so that will be another big factor. I doubt I'll do well enough to beat my current unofficial PR, but it would be nice to have a new official one (which is from a duathlon I did in April - even though I don't really feel like du/tri runs should count as PR's?).

I also plan to not have any photos that are this terrible:

I...don't even know.

Before I go, a PSA of sorts:

Next Sunday, the 21st, is the September edition of the Runner's Tell All link-up, hosted by Amanda @ The Lady Okie and Beka @ Sunshine to the Square Inch and (this month) co-hosted by yours truly! (Since it's a weekend you can totally post on Monday but the party officially starts on Sunday). I know some of you have linked up before (high five!), and I also know that I have had conversations with many of you about how awesome of a linkup this is and how you need to do it too. If you haven't linked up before, this month is a time to start because the topic is "Race Bucket List." I don't know about you guys, but if I were going to give myself a gold medal for one thing running related, it would be my ability to talk about all the races I want to do (and that would be the only running related gold medal I'd get). The great part about this topic in particular is that everyone, whether you've never run a race, or you run one every weekend, or you're in a slump with training right now, can participate. There's no requirement that you actually sign up for and/or run these races, so feel free to dream all the running dreams you want. 
And if that weren't motivation enough, if you stop by you might even win some. It's gonna be a good time, y'all. 

You Asked For It

A couple weeks ago, my dear friend Alyssa nominated me for a Liebster Award, which I think basically just means she wants me to talk about myself a lot. Just kidding. Kind of. If you don't already know her, you should have already clicked over to her blog by now because she is awesome. She's from New Jersey, she's a bad(ass) yogi, and she lets me live vicariously through her training for her first half marathon. Plus she writes way better than I do.

Even though I just recently shared some things you might not guess about me, I followed the rules and came up with 11 more random facts:
A selfie seemed appropriate for this occasion
1. I refused to do a unit in 10th grade biology because I am extremely afraid of frogs. Seriously, just typing that...word...made my skin crawl. I can't even look at a picture of one without my anxiety going through the roof.
2. I have a video on Youtube that has over 37,000 views. (It's actually of my ferret...I'm not cute enough to watch 37,000 times).
3. I haven't eaten meat in 3 years.
4. I'm double-jointed (hypermobile) in my knees, hips, elbows, and a few fingers. My limbs and digits bend farther backward than they're really supposed to.
5. I'm not a hugger. Especially not if we just met.
6. I think the word blog sounds weird and kinda gross so I don't like saying it.
7. I'm not the type of person to talk about shit I plan to do unless I really mean it.
8. I will take a craft beer over a glass of wine (almost) any day of the week.
9. Ben and I are a one-car family.
10. My hair is naturally curly. I straighten or curl it every day, except this week I've finally conceded to the humidity (see above)...for now.
11. Despite the fact that I have a blog, I'm actually really bad at talking about myself.

And Alyssa had some questions for me!

1. Whats's the coolest/most interesting thing that has happened since you started your blog? 
So cliche and dorky, but honestly, the friendships I've made are definitely the coolest thing. I first started blogging just to have a place to document my running journey, just so I would have a record of it. I never really intended to share it with anyone else. I'm a pretty private person and was hesitant to write a public blog, but I'm so glad I opened it up! 

2. Smooth or crunchy peanut butter?
Smooth, hands down. My husband and dog disagree though sooo...more smooth PB for me!

3. Who would play you in a movie about your life? 
Is it too cliche to say J-Law? Oh well. J-Law.

4. What do you wish you could tell your 16-year-old self? 
Two words: DUMP. HIM. 

5. If you could look ahead to the future, knowing you could do nothing to change the outcome, would you and why/why not? 
A few years ago, I probably would have said yes to this, but not anymore. I used to think life was was about getting from one destination to the next, but I've learned that taking the scenic route is more fun. I'd rather focus on the journey than knowing exactly where I'm going. 

6. One-way plane ticket in your hands right now to anywhere in the world. Would you take it and where would you go? 
Yes I would (I hope it's accompanied by Xanax or a strong sedative) and I would go to Iceland. I have no idea why but I've been super obsessed with going there recently.

7. Show us your favorite post you've written! 
This letter I wrote on my 3-year running anniversary is probably my favorite. It was fun to write and it's fun to go back and read!

8. What's the worst part about blogging? 
Either the cliquey-ness that sometimes ensues, or how fast-paced it can be. I don't have a schedule that allows me to post every day and be on Twitter and Instagram 24/7 so sometimes I feel like I just can't keep up! I'm so envious of bloggers who are on top of things and have it all together (or at least appear to).

9. What's your favorite place in the world? 
To once again illustrate that I am the least unique person ever: New York City. BUT! That's only as of fairly recently and it didn't happen until like the 3rd time I visited. I hope to live in Brooklyn at some point in the next five years (see #7 above).  

10. What is the best "first" of yours that you can remember? 

Tough question...I don't know that it's the best one ever (I don't even know what qualifies for that),
but it's the best one recently: finishing my first marathon in January! This will never not be one of my best firsts. 

11. What is the number one thing you're working toward right now?

You expected me to talk about running or a race, right? I mean, I don't blame you...that's basically all I talk about. When I'm not running (which is most of the time), I'm working on getting an engineering degree.

And now, I'm passing the baton on to Becky! She is a fellow Hokie, runner, and dog-lover. She is super adorable and has a super adorable boyfriend and super adorable pups and basically writes about being super adorable all the time. It must be hard (I wouldn't know). My questions for Becky are:

1. What's it like having a twin? Pros/cons?
2. What did you major in in college? If you could have gotten a degree in something else, would you and what would it be?
3. Would you rather have a relaxing vacation with no plans, or have lots to see and do?
4.  If you could move anywhere would you? Where?
5. What's your favorite song to run to?
6. What's your earliest memory? 
7. What age has been your favorite so far? 
8. What's something you hope to accomplish in the next 5 years?
9. If you had $100 and had to spend it today, what would you buy?
10. What was your favorite class in high school?
11. What are you looking forward to?

I Wanna Get Better + Announcement

I have a problem.

A huge part of how and why I got hooked on running is how addicting it is to see improvement. On my very first "run" I struggled to run a minute at a time (with walk breaks in between). After a few months, I averaged 12 minute miles and could run nonstop for 3.1 miles. A few months after that, I could run about twice that far. A few months after that, I averaged about a minute per mile faster. In another few months, I could run a few more miles at a time. Then, I could run another minute per mile faster. Almost every run was a new PR. See where I'm going with this?

I got addicted to that feeling. That high that comes with knowing I just pushed my body to a place it had never physically been before. As the girl who found out she had asthma on the first day of track tryouts in the 6th grade and vowed to never run again...that high feels so, so good.

From the beginning, the quest for the PR - be it distance or speed - has been the driving force behind my running motivation. Small PR, big PR, blew-my-old-time-out-of-the-water PR...I'll take whatever I can get. The only problem is that these days, the PRs are fewer and farther between. And even when they come, the highs don't last as long. It's always on to the next. Just to prove that I can. 

Distance running used to scared me (still does, if we're being totally honest), but every time I attempted to go further than I had before, I knew I'd get there eventually. The pressure is a lot lower when the clock isn't ticking. When I trained for my first marathon, I threw speed out the window. I was okay doing so, because I knew I was working toward a higher goal. It was okay to be a little slower than normal - the point was just to get there. 

Now that I've conquered the farthest distance I plan to ever go, that takes the distance PRs off the table and leaves me with speed. But can I tell you a secret about running fast? It scares the shit out of me. 

Unlike distance, speed is so variable. It only takes one thing to be "off" and then that's it, game over. Any speed dreams you had for that run are now gone. You generally can't make up that time. You just have to try again. And there's something a little dissatisfying to me about that. 
And even if you are having an "on" day, it's still tough! It's especially tough when it comes to distance running, not only because it's hard to run far and faster than normal (duh), but it's hard to know how to pace correctly. 

All of this leads me to my next goal race: the Richmond Marathon. I have some thoughts floating around about what time I might want to shoot for, what time I think I might realistically pull off, and what time I will (and will not) deem acceptable. I can't just let speed go this time and take whatever time I need to get to the finish line.
(in case you were wondering: yes, I have listened to this song approximately 40 million times recently)

I haven't exactly figured out yet what "better" means. It might mean one second faster, it might mean 30 minutes faster. I honestly have no idea yet (but hoping more for the latter, tbh). 

And in the spirit of training, getting better, and doing our thing, Alyssa and I have been cooking up something fun! In Alyssa's words:

We like to talk about our training with one another, and a good deal of our readers seem to like sharing their training wins and woes with us too. So we're proposing a monthly blog party where we can all link up to talk about our training goals, spread some always-appreciated motivation, encouragement, and support, and hear about what everyone's working toward.

Whether you've got a race or a tri coming up, whether you're just trying to touch your toes through a new yoga practice, whether you're trying to hit that next deadlift goal, or whether you just want to run one mile without stopping, we want you to share your training triumphs with us and others. We want to give us all a space to talk about what we're working for, introduce readers to others in similar boats and create a strong, motivational, supportive training community. All will be welcome — no goal is too big or too small.

We'll both share some more about the linkup details when we get closer, but for now I just want to know... are you in?

Apartment Tour + Small Living Tips

As of today it has been 1 month since we moved into our new apartment. I was hoping/planning to have it all done after a week and, to be honest, it mostly was. The last 3 weeks have been really busy and there have been little things left that we've been neglecting to do, but I've been working my way through them and I think it's finally about as good as it's going to get.

I've taken photos of every home we've ever lived in (4 and counting...5 if you count the townhouse we shared with roommates in college, but there are no pictures and it wasn't picture-worthy anyway). I love being able to look back at them and see how our spaces have changed over the years. This new apartment is definitely the biggest change we've ever made: it's just over half the size of our previous home (and the smallest we've ever lived in). I was equal parts nervous and excited about downsizing, but after a month I can definitely say that I LOVE it. The best part about this move is that we didn't spend much at all furnishing or decorating it. We were able to box up the rooms in our condo and set up the new rooms almost as they were. We've had to get a little creative to make everything fit, and not all of our solutions are the most attractive, but I like to think we've struck a pretty good balance between aesthetics and efficiency.

Small living tip: Rent a place without a washer and dryer. Bonus tip: Rent a place without a washer and dryer that's also located right next to the building's laundry facilities. It's basically like having laundry in your apartment but without it taking up space in your apartment. Win-win.

Come on in! (apologies for the wonky colors...combination of crappy apartment lighting and not knowing how to use my fancy camera)

This is the view right when you walk in the front door. We'll check out that space in a minute, but first we'll look at the living room, off to the left.

Our old living room was much bigger (we had an open concept living/dining/kitchen area), so fitting all of our furniture in was a bit of a challenge. We purchased the sectional and ottoman 3 years ago, specifically for our condo. We love (and paid a pretty penny for) it, so getting something new wasn't an option. We had to make it work!

Desk (old)

Small living tip: Put up a gallery wall! It's an easy way to display a lot of photos or prints without using a lot of your limited wall space.

The view out the back is honestly what sold us on this apartment. At the bottom of that hill is a trail that connects to a trail to campus and to a popular running/biking trail (another selling point). On the other side of the trail are several pastures with our new cow, horse, and sheep friends!

So technically the space you see when you walk in is the dining area (note the super stylish light fixture and fan). Obviously, we aren't using it for that...

We both bike commute and needed some way to store our bikes. We wanted to store them inside and utilize as much vertical space as we could so we opted for a 2-tier bike stand. It probably won't be featured on any interior design blogs anytime soon, but it's efficient so we love it.

Bike stand (new) - bikes and cat sold separately
When we lived in our condo, our favorite space was probably our hallway. That may sound weird, but it's because it was home to our masterpiece:

Although we no longer have a 20+ foot wall to cover, we did want to bring a piece of our album art project to our new apartment.

Frames (old)
Small living tip: Make sure you have room for a bar. You will probably need it now that you have to live in closer proximity to your significant other.

Turntable (old)
Room dividers (new)
So what's behind Screen #1?

It's a home gym!!!

I'm sure I've mentioned before that I don't work out in a gym. I like to get my workouts in as close to home as possible, so it's great that most of them, like running and biking, take place outside and I can leave right from my front door. But then there are some, like strength training, that I can't really do without some equipment. Even though I have access to both our apartment's and the university's gym facilities, both are farther away than a 10 foot walk, and therefore they are both too far. Ergo, moving my gym equipment (which we used to keep in our spare room with other unsightly things we wanted to easily hide) was pretty much non-negotiable. Only one problem: in a 1-bedroom apartment, there is no extra space to shove the things we don't want to look at all the time. Luckily, I am a genius and came up with a solution. Is it ideal? Of course not. Is it liveable? Absolutely. Remember, when it comes to aesthetics and efficiency, I'm shooting for balance.

Off to the left of that space, between our album frames (and Bane's crate) and the bar area, is the kitchen. It's actually a pretty decent size. We managed to squeeze in all of our countertop items, and there's even enough room for our table and chairs in the corner.

Table (old) / Bentwood chairs (new) / Tablecloth fabric (new) / Placemats (new) / Print (old)

Pot rack (similar) (old)
Small living tip: Get a pot rack! We've had this pot rack since our first apartment, didn't need it in our condo, and are now very thankful that we kept it all these years.

In the back of the apartment are our bathroom and bedroom. The bathroom is actually about the same size as our master bathroom in our condo, so no huge loss of space there.

Shower curtain (old) 

And finally, our bedroom!

We've had our bedroom set the longest of any other furniture in our home...probably the longest of anything in our home actually (except for one of our cats). We purchased it at Ikea when we moved into our first place together and, many bedding iterations, a headboard DIY, and a dresser makeover later, it's still with us.

Bed (old) / Shelves (old) 
Dresser (old)
Bedding (old)
I bought this bedding from West Elm a few years ago, but we only used it briefly before switching back to a bolder rust/chocolate/ivory color scheme for our bedroom. I envisioned our new bedroom being really serene and calming, and I'm so glad I hung on to this duvet set because it fit the bill perfectly. Seriously, our bed always looks so comfortable and inviting to me. I love getting in it at night and reading until I fall asleep. So peaceful.

I don't love the fact that my vanity is half-finished (we decided a week before we moved to redo it...we made it through stripping the paint that was on it and preliminary staining before we ran out of time and had to pack it up), but I love my makeup setup. It's so nice to open the blinds in the morning and get ready with natural light. Plus I love having all my products stored so nicely and compactly.

And that's it, all 725 square feet of it!

Mirror - "rescued" from the dumpster. Seriously.
See ya later!