Hot Chocolate 15K - Atlanta

I recently was able to travel to Atlanta to run my first ever Hot Chocolate Race - and also my first official 15K distance race.  Since I hadn't been to Atlanta since I was a freshman in high school, I was excited for the opportunity to not only run this sweet race series, I was also excited for the chance to see the city on foot - my favorite way to travel!  You'll find my race review for Hot Chocolate 15K below. 

This race was scheduled for the weekend of January 21-22.  While this would usually be a cold weekend to race, we had been experiencing quite the warm spell in this particular area for about a week and race day temperatures were going to be in the 60s by the finish of the race! I'm not one to complain about warm temperatures, but unfortunately in the south unseasonably warm weather also brings with it a chance of thunderstorms!  That's exactly what we dealt with on Saturday and Sunday in Atlanta.  Being nervous the race would be canceled, I went ahead and got in a half marathon distance run with a friend before deciding to travel down for the race expo.  Other events on Saturday had been canceled due to lightening.  After chatting with someone from the race on Twitter (@HotChocolate15K) I was more confident in the fact the race would be taking place as usual Sunday morning, so I packed up my stuff and headed down for my one-night racecation!

After getting to Atlanta I was so thankful I purchased the pre-race parking package offered on the website.  With all the events taking place in the city during this weekend (Women's March, Falcons in the playoffs, etc.) I was glad I had a place to go and didn't have to add time to driving around the city.  I was also excited to be able to meet up with two BibRave Pros - Samantha and Jessica!  We hit up an Atlanta Institution - The Vortex - for some pre-race grub.  After being up since 4 a.m. I was finally able to hit my hotel and get in bed about 10:30.  It had been a long day and I had an early wake up call for HC15K in the A.M. - race organizers recommended getting there before 6:30 a.m.!  I slept well until yet another absolutely wicked thunderstorm hit at 5 a.m.  Lightening so bright it woke me up with thunder so loud it shook the hotel (which was not easy to do being that I was near the airport!)

Three BibRave Pros ready to run ATL tomorrow!

Three BibRave Pros ready to run ATL tomorrow!

When I got up in the morning, thanks to Facebook and Twitter updates, it was easy to see race organizers had consulted with the NWS and there was no threat of storms during the race.  I really appreciated their profession and quick updates about the weather.  Being that I drove nearly 4 hours to get there and had to stay overnight, making sure I had the most up-to-date info was important to me.  Getting back downtown was super easy and I had no trouble getting to the assigned parking lot I registered for before the race.  Getting to the race venue, however, was a different story.  Thankfully, there were plenty of people who seemed to be familiar with downtown ATL because if I hadn't followed the crowd I would've been lost.  There was zero signage to let us know where anything was.  Granted, the maps were online, but if you're in a city you've never explored on foot you aren't going to find anything.  After wandering around and meeting up with Sam and Jess one more time for photos, I was also able to meet up with a fellow Spandits!/Altra ambassador Amanda!  After this, it was time to find my corral, which was thankfully much easier than finding the race location itself, and we were off!

The two best-dressed at Hot Chocolate 15K!

The two best-dressed at Hot Chocolate 15K!

The thing I loved about this race was the fact that you could use your times from previous races to get into "preferred corrals" and get ahead of the crowd early.  My qualifying times actually put me into the very first corral and it never felt crowded, especially because I took it easy from the beginning.  We left the Centennial Park area and ran straight toward the state capitol building.  The 5K runner split was only about 1 mile in, so the crowd thinned even more then!  After leaving the Capitol Building behind, we headed toward Turner Field.  Since I had run 13.1 miles the day before, I was in full on sightseeing mode and not at all concerned about time.  I stopped for photos and thank volunteers and spectators for coming out when we ran through the Phoenix Parks toward Grant Park.  There were a few gentle uphills and downhills during this part of the race.  We then ran toward Oakland Cemetery and skirted it for a few minutes.  

Capitol Building. 

Capitol Building. 

We took some turns on side roads and ran close to the MLK Jr. Historic site before running into the Old Fourth Ward and back towards Emory Medical Center.  More gentle hills, but they honestly weren't that bad.  This is the southeast after all!  We should know hills are part of the deal!  We were back into downtown and running past fraternity houses near Bobby Dodd Stadium before I knew it.  It was a short and quick downhill run into Centennial Park for the finish.  Thankfully, a race volunteer saw my cell phone drop out of my pocket and chased me down to return it!  I can't say enough great things about the volunteers in this race!  The finish line for the 5K and 15K was the same, but they kept it separated with a fence - something else I really appreciated to ease congestion at the finish line!  I received my finisher medal from some happy and enthusiastic volunteers before making my way through the crowd to get my finisher mug and snacks.  

Turner Field

Turner Field

The snacks in the finisher mug were phenomenal - the typical runner fare like bananas and pretzels, with the addition on a cup of hot chocolate, a giant marshmallow, some pirouette cookies, and a rice krispie treat - all of which were complimented by chocolate fondue!  I did some stretches with the thousands of others in Centennial Park and munched on my snacks, saving my hot chocolate for the walk back to my car.  Unfortunately, the signs back to the parking area were also non-existent and following the crowd didn't work well for me.  I had to use Google Maps to discover I had walked the wrong direction! On the way back, however, I saw a race photographer packing up his equipment and thanked him for being out this morning.  He took a great photo - the only one I have from the race - and I thanked him.  I was definitely happy to see all race photos are free from this race series, and I had notifications about photos emailed to me throughout the day. 

My free race photo! 

My free race photo! 

All in all, here's my list of pros and cons about Hot Chocolate 15K Atlanta: 

-Expo is required. I hate expos. No offense. I get it though, you have to go because that many volunteers at 4 a.m. on a race day to hand out packets is hard to coordinate!
-Parking is expensive.  I purchased parking ahead of time, which was $20 for both the expo and the race.  I'm glad I did this because Atlanta doesn't have a single free parking space in probably a 100-mile radius.  I even had to pay to park at my hotel for the 7 hours I was there. 
-Signage was non-existent.  Great for locals, but not so great for out-of-towners.

-Great finisher swag for the 15K.  You get a hoodie with thumbholes, free chocolate at the expo, and the tasty finisher mug!  Only the 15K runners get the cute chocolate bar medal. 
-Fun for sightseeing.  Like I mentioned early on, I hadn't been to Atlanta in years. I got to see a lot of it on foot in only an hour and a half!
-Easy course.  For the 15K there was only a 380-foot elevation gain.  There was actually more downhill than uphill.  This was a relaxing and easy run for me. 

I loved this race so much I signed up for the race in Nashville in two weeks!  I can't wait to share my experience with you guys from that race!  Have you ever run a "fun run" race series before? What about Hot Chocolate? Would YOU run for chocolate?!


Disclaimer: I received a free entry to review Hot Chocolate 15K - Atlanta as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

How Ultramarathons are Like Thru Hikes

On December 31st, 2016 I toed the starting line of my first ever ultramarathon.  While competing in (and later finishing) this event I noticed a ton of similarities that running an ultra and completing a thru hike have in common.  

Aid Stations Are Basically Trail Magic on Steroids

The ultra I ran was the Pistol Ultra in Alcoa, TN.  They have a famous aid station, Woody's, that provides everything a runner needs to get through the race.  From homemade trail mix bars and banana bread to salt and vinegar chips and even candy this little slice of heaven on earth will get you refueled and back to the task at hand.  Much like trail magic, seeing this pop-up tent brought forth a flood of emotions and got me energized to continue onward.  Seriously, when someone fills your water bottles for you so you can stuff your face and keep moving... that person is an angel. 

(Photos of Woody's courtesy of the Pistol Ultra Facebook group)

Hike Your Own Hike Applies Here Too

So when I tell people I've completed an ultra they say "wow I can't believe you ran that far!"  Honestly I did run a lot, but I also walked a lot too.  I stopped and stretched a lot.  In fact, according to my Garmin, I probably stopped for stretches, food, and sock changes more than 15 minutes during the duration of the time I was on the course.  When you're hiking a distance trail you might take 1 zero day or 50 zero days (like I did on the AT) and you're still going to finish.  When you're stopping to walk in an ultra no one is judging you, just like when you take that extra zero day in town.  In fact, towards the end of the ultra if you can manage to run up a hill, no  matter how small, someone who sees you doing it starts cheering you on.  That's support!

Your Fellow Runners Have Your Back

On my final lap on the way back to the finish I saw some ladies headed towards me - meaning they had about 9 miles to go.  One of the women stopped and burst into tears.  Immediately other runners stopped to see what she needed and how they could help her.  Spectators cheered you by name and asked if you needed anything.  Aid station workers, due to the cold weather, asked every person if they needed a hot drink.  We offered up our foam rollers and muscle sticks to those who were in pain.  Just like when you're out on trail and something throws a wrench into your day, others who know what you're going through offer to help you out.  

The Hunger is REAL

About 15 miles into my race my stomach was ANGRY.  I was so hungry all of a sudden I almost couldn't move.  Much like when you're on a thru hike, when your stomach tells you to eat it is time to eat!  I discovered for myself that much like a distance hike, my body responded extremely well to "real" foods versus snack bars, gels, and chews.  When I finished the race we went out for an enormous pasta dinner and I polished off a gargantuan piece of cheesecake.  I regret nothing!

Your Journey is The Destination

When I finished the AT my thru hike I was just in awe that I had finished.  From that moment on in my life I realized I can actually do difficult things.  I can COMPLETE difficult things.  Until that point in my life I often quit when things got hard and uncomfortable.  Since then, I've challenged myself outside of my comfort zone so many times.  This ultra race, for me, was proving to myself that something I once thought impossible truly wasn't.  I no longer find myself second-guessing my abilities once I'm in the middle of something.  It turns out that my first attempt at an ultra wasn't as scary or unmanageable as I feared it would be.  Much like every thru hike I complete, I come out on the other side realizing that I am capable of finishing something daunting.  

The smile you get after eating a ton of food and being stretched out by a physical therapist after running 50 Kilometers!

The smile you get after eating a ton of food and being stretched out by a physical therapist after running 50 Kilometers!

While there are plenty of other ways running an ultramarathon reminds me of thru hiking, these are the ones that stood out to me.  Have you ever run an ultra?  Do you want to push the envelope and challenge yourself to a difficult or "impossible" feat in the coming year? 

Gear Review: Legend Compression Wear

As many of you know by now I'm both a runner and a hiker - the running coming later than the hiking!  Since I've gotten more and more into running I've definitely started looking for products that can not only make the miles feel easier, but also can help me recover faster from my hiking. With my job as a guide and training to run my very first ultra in Decemeber, my legs need all the help they can get.  This is where Legend Compression comes in.  Through my partnership with BibRave as a BibRave Pro, I was given the opportunity to test out some compression gear on a few recent hikes and runs.  Here's my honest review: 

I recently learned Legend Compression had socks for both running and hiking and was super excited to be given the chance to test them both out.  The first thing I noticed when I received both pairs of socks is the fact that even though they're both compression, they aren't nearly as "stiff" or tight as a few other brands of compression socks I own.  The performance socks actually felt SOFT, which I have noticed is lacking in a few other brands.  From reading the letter they sent me, I could see there was a reason for this - these socks have much less compression than traditional socks, only 15-20 mmHg as compared to 20-30 mmHg for other brands.  This graduated compression is believed to be more therapeutic during performance.  I quickly decided to try these guys on. 

My new Legend Compression performance socks!

My new Legend Compression performance socks!

Putting them on wasn't difficult at all, which is something I have definitely noticed with other brands!  These socks were soft and slid on easily.  I also noticed I had room for my toes to spread out inside of them as well.  It turns out that this is by design.  By giving you room to move your toes you're not only less prone to blister, you've also still got your same gait, which is important for running and hiking.  That's why I'm such a huge fan of wearing shoes that give my toes room to spread out!  I also noticed that the arch of the foot felt nice and snug.  I really like this feature in a compression sock.  

The first time I tried out these socks was during a 12-mile hike with my buddy, Morgan.  We had to hike 6 miles up a mountain to bring some tents to a group of our co-workers.  Due to heavy fall leaf peeper traffic in the park and a long drive, we didn't get on trail until after 2 p.m.  We hiked our six miles in approximately 2 hours and got to camp to start setting up tents.  Less than 20 minutes later, we were on our way back down the 6 miles and made it out in a total of 4 hours and 20 minutes.  I noticed that despite climbing the huge hill my calf muscles still felt alright, which is definitely not always the case!  The real test, for me, is getting compression socks OFF after a long workout.  It's safe to say with a tough hike like this we definitely worked up a sweat and if you've ever taken off a pair of sweaty compression socks you know it can be an Olympic sport!  These socks came off just as easily as they went on!  Another win for me. 

Team Mo'Sprinkles stopping at an overlook to take in the view (and a few selfies!) on our way back down trail.  

Team Mo'Sprinkles stopping at an overlook to take in the view (and a few selfies!) on our way back down trail.  

As an athlete who does a lot of mountain hiking and running I consider myself someone who tries out a lot of gear and I'm super impressed with Legend Compression.  For those of you who aren't into the longer socks, they also make a hiking specific sock called Tuff made of Merino wool, which I can recommend just as highly.  

If you want to try Legend Compression I've got a 15% off code to share with all of you!  You can use the code "bibsave15" at!

Disclaimer: I received Legend Compression socks to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

Fuel 100 Electro-Bites: A Food Review


Update: Use code SPRINKLES at checkout for 25% off your order (not an affiliate link, feel free to share!) 

With the heat of summer in full swing I've been constantly attempting, and sometimes losing, a battle with my electrolyte balance.  Between my work outdoors as a full time hiking guide and helping my boyfriend train for his first half marathon, I've been spending a lot of time in the low elevations of East Tennessee - often times in sweltering heat and humidity with heat indexes in the high 90s and low 100s.  When I was offered the opportunity to try out Fuel 100 Electro-Bites I jumped at the chance to try something new.  Here are my thoughts on this product. 

After doing some research regarding Fuel 100 Electro-Bites I was excited to try them out for two reasons - the first being that they weren't fruit chews and the second being that they weren't sickly sweet.  While this product comes in five flavors, only three of them are flavors that sound sweet: pumpkin spice, apple cinnamon, and salty vanilla.  The other two flavors are simply salty and salty vinegar.  This immediately appealed to me because of recent I've been all sugared out and I've been on a quest for savory fueling options that are also easy to eat on the trails or on a run.  These tiny bites fit the bill!  The other thing that appealed to me was the fact these were a dry, baked product.  No sticky gels, chews, or sweet drink mixes.  Don't get me wrong, I love a sweet electrolyte tab after a hot and long run, but getting the chance to try something different was definitely a plus!

I took these out on a training run on a night when the heat index at sunset was 94 degrees.  Even though I ran an easy 3.5 miles I knew I had sweat more than I did on 10 mile runs back in the winter time.  If I don't replace electrolytes immediately I usually get dull and throbbing headaches so being able to grab them and go was a big plus for me.  I ripped the tab off the bag of the apple cinnamon bites and dug in!  The first thing I noticed was the fact that even though these bites were dry, they didn't make my mouth feel dry.  The crunchy little bites were actually fun to chew and were easy to swallow despite being hot and sweaty.  I was able to follow the bites by drinking down some cold water and felt great.  The apple cinnamon flavor was very mild and the hint of coconut oil was delicious as well. 

Easy to refuel after a long, hot run! 

Easy to refuel after a long, hot run! 

I also brought along the salty vinegar flavor on a longer day hike during a humid and hot June afternoon.  The vinegar flavor wasn't overpowering and again the coconut oil was very mild and present as well.  These bites stored well in a pack and since they're baked they don't melt the way an electrolyte chew would.  You also don't have to worry about adding a tab to water and waiting for it to mix before drinking.  All you have to do is rip the top off and start snacking!

I've got my fuel for after the hike! 

I've got my fuel for after the hike! 

Personally, I loved these little electro-bites and would definitely buy them again.  The fact that they're so much different from anything I've tried recently really sold me on this tasty and quick fuel for athletes.  They're formulated for distance athletes and have 100 calories per pack, including 190mg of Sodium, 55mg of Potassium and 46mg of Magnesium. Fuel 100 Electro-Bites will have a place in my pack for the rest of the season for sure!

A handful of baked electro bites - yum! 

A handful of baked electro bites - yum! 

Have you tried any new electrolyte replacement products recently?  What's your favorite way to refuel during a hot and humid summer run or hike?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Fuel 100 Electro-Bites for free from Fuel 100 as coordinated by Outdoor PR in consideration for review publication.  All opinions, as always on this blog, are my own.

Sunday Runday - Week 14 of Marathon Training

My final week is here!  I cannot believe I've spent nearly 4 months of my life training for something. With this being my final week and the marathon being at the end of the week, I'm going to use this post to summarize all my feelings about the week.  I'll be doing a recap of the race for my Sunday Runday post next week.  Here's everything I got to do this week: 

Monday - ZERO MILES. I mean zero. I didn't even walk my dog today, which was fine because she took herself for a walk!  This afternoon I had a lot of posts to schedule for the blog and was outdoors testing some gear and refreshing my bear line tossing skills when my dog picked up a scent and ran off.  An hour later, NoKey picked her up running down the road with a giant raspberry briar dragging from her tail and hind legs.  We should have punished her, but she just seemed so happy to have taken an adventure that we just let it go. 

Tuesday - 8 mile work hike.  I had to hike the beautiful Ramseys Cascade Trail for work today (I know, what an awful task, right?!)  This hike is considered more strenuous, but hiking approximately 1-1.5 miles per hour isn't really strenuous for the guides.  I got my legs out and moving today, which is helping to keep me sane during my taper!

Wednesday - 3 easy miles.  I took to the greenway near my house for three easy effort miles, again, just to keep my legs loose.  I did some extra stretching and foam rolling for good measure. 

Thursday - 1.5 hour easy nature walk. Today is a big day for me as my boss finally signed me off to be a full fledged hiking guide!  It's really more of a formality being that I've already been out leading my own backpacking trips, but for day hikes we have to cram a lot of information into shorter hours.   I was given her blessing as a guide with the only feedback being to project myself more.  As a tiny lady, I can definitely stand to work on this!

Friday - 2 miles gentle hiking (work hike).  At the last minute a co-worker booked a hike in one of my favorite areas of the park - Greenbrier.  As a last minute add on I couldn't be more thrilled.  Like I said, taper madness is KILLING ME!  

Saturday - 3 miles hiking plus a long walk with my dog.  I should have run today, but my clients were an HOUR late for my hike, then I had to drive out to Knoxville to pick up my race packet. I really HATE when races don't offer pickup on the same day as the event.  It's really inconvenient when it's a 2-hour round trip drive.  I've never enjoyed race expos because I don't have all the extra money to pay for the overpriced T-shirts and stickers. I didn't get home until 5 p.m. It was a LONG DAY, but at least staying busy helped keep my mind off the event. 

Sunday - RACE DAY! I got up at 5 a.m. and was so nervous.  My first marathon... I can't believe after all this it's finally here.  I'm going to post a race recap in two weeks, but I will tell you that I finished, finished strong after a few crappy (and I mean crappy) miles in the middle of the race.  I finished in 4:25:05, but I think if I hadn't had stomach issues I could have done it in 4:15;00.  I'll be back next year Knoxville Marathon!

Well guys, that's it! My marathon training is complete.  My work schedule really makes it too hard for me to run in the spring, summer and fall.  My next scheduled race isn't until December - the Millinocket Marathon with NoKey!  He will be running his first ever half marathon then and I'm hoping to add a few 10K's or half marathons to my schedule in the fall as well.  Only time will tell how much training I'll be able to squeeze in.  I am going to run some miles here and there and I've set a goal of running twice per week for the next few months just to maintain some level of fitness for my legs.  With my job as a hiking guide I'll still be getting in plenty of miles, but something inside of me really wants to keep running.  

I'm linking up with the Women's Running Community Share-it Saturday!

Women's Running Community

Sunday Runday - Week 13 of Marathon Training

After my work schedule threw a wrench in my training plan last week I was really nervous to see if I could progress this week!  While I'm very thankful my schedule at work is starting to fill up, I really, really am wondering if I made the right decision to run a full marathon right at the beginning of the springtime hiking season.  Here's how my week in training went: 

Monday - 20 miles. HOLY CRAP!  Yes, 20 miles. And I ran them. All of them!  I was really scared to run these miles honestly.  I've done 20 mile days before on trail, but they took quite a few more hours to complete!  I kept reminding myself to take it slow in the beginning and not stress.  I actually turned my Garmin face down so I wouldn't keep looking at it and wondering how much further I had to go!  At miles 15 and 18 I needed to do a walking/stretching break for tight hips, but other than that I am really happy with how the miles turned out.  I can't believe how much I am capable of doing!


Tuesday - guide training and 3 recovery miles.  I did an easy 2-mile, 4 hour walk today in the Smokies and then came home to run my three easy recovery miles before dinner.  I definitely needed a shakeout after my 20 miler yesterday, but I'm really impressed at how NOT SORE my body is today. 

Wednesday - Recovery day.  I had two separate hikes scheduled for today, plus a meeting with a blog follower regarding her future AT thru hike plans.  I took the day as recovery and am bumping my run plans back a day. 

Cataract Falls on one of my hikes today. 

Cataract Falls on one of my hikes today. 

Thursday - 5 miles with strong finish.  By the time I got home from work I was starving! I decided to put off my miles until a few hours after my late lunch/early dinner.  Well, it started raining!  Thankfully we didn't get the forecasted thunderstorms, but only sprinkles with a few minutes of downpour.  I made great miles and ran 8:50 for my last mile - 25 seconds faster than the fourth mile! It felt great to be out in the rain and pushing my legs for the last time. 

Friday - 3 easy miles.  I worked a lot longer than anticipated today and NoKey was coming back home from Syracuse today.  If I wanted to have dinner with him and talk to him for a few minutes before he went to bed, that meant I wouldn't get my miles in until late.  At 9 p.m. I was finally able to get out and get moving.  The town I live in doesn't have much in the way of street lights I was surprised to find out. When I headed to our "greenway" (a wide sidewalk on a 6-lane road), I was shocked to discover there were no street lights.  I ran my way over to a tiny condo complex and ran about 12 laps around it since they had a few street lights.  I was definitely happy I was able to get my run in. 

Saturday - 10 miles taper.  I ran this by feel and I'm shocked at how fast I was going. I didn't feel like I was even putting in any effort at all.  Since I'm supposed to be tapering I'm nervous how it's going to affect me, but my legs are feeling amazing.  I also got my brand new customized Spandits in the mail today!  I ordered a longer short with an outside pocket for my hiker wallet (read- Ziplock baggie with my important stuff).  When I hitchhike I want to keep my wallet on me and this outside pocket is the best way I could think of to do just that.  I'm super excited about my new shorts!

I'm thinking this might be my new favorite outfit. 

I'm thinking this might be my new favorite outfit. 

Sunday - Rich Mountain Loop hike.  Even though there were thunderstorms predicted for today, I've been dying to get out with my friend Shannon for a hike again.  As a bonus - NoKey will be coming with us!  Check out my Instagram over the next few days for photos!

Total mileage: 41.2 (running)! Damn!  Now I'm one week out from the biggest event I've ever tried to tackle. I can't believe all my hard work is finally about to be put to the test. 


This week wouldn't have been possible AT ALL without the amazing Abby from Back At Square Zero!  She has been an absolutely amazing coach and been incredibly supportive of me, even when I feel like I've been a bit flaky or not trying hard enough.  My work schedule is definitely not easy on my body and it's been really, REALLY hard to train for a marathon when I'm getting in so many miles on my feet every single day.  Her method of easy/hard days for training has really clicked with me.  She's challenged me and supported me and I honestly don't know if I would be feeling this confident for my first marathon without her.  Check her out, especially if you're looking for a running coach over at!

Are you training for any big events?  I'd love to hear about them!  Leave me a comment below or find me over on Facebook or Twitter to let me know how your week went. 

I'm linking up with the Women's Running Community Share it Saturday!

Women's Running Community

Sunday Runday - Week 11 of Marathon Training



Monday - 18 miles. I had to make up the miles from my long run I missed Sunday due to so many circumstances!  I got a few stomach cramps, at miles 11, 12, and 17, but each time I took a minute or so to rehydrate and stretch out, so I was able to rally.  I also almost got run over by a car in a crosswalk.  It was a Mercedes... so maybe I should've just let her take me out!

Tuesday - Hiking with clients.  I had a guided hike today, so my active rest day included a slow and gentle hike in the Greenbrier Section of the Smokies. 

A sunny hike to a waterfall! 

A sunny hike to a waterfall! 

Wednesday - 8.5 progression miles.  Damn, it was hot this morning!  I headed out to run at 10:30 a.m., but it was in the high 70s in the blazing sun by the time I got to my speedy miles.  At the very end of the run I had a half mile "all out" run and while I hit a 7:45 pace, I also hit what I call "the tinglies".  It was super hot and I was really probably a little too dehydrated. I had taken my running hydration belt with me for this run, but decided against it at the last minute since I'd be doing speed work at the end.  Big mistake. I won't be doing that again!  In other news though, I HIT A 7:45 PACE!

Feeling strong despite dehydration! 

Feeling strong despite dehydration! 

Thursday - 3 miles slow. I started a little too fast and ended up logging a 9:35 for my first mile, but progressively slowed down throughout the run.  I went out at 10 a.m. and felt like I was going to melt to the pavement of the Greenway.  I had a guided hike in the afternoon and when I came home it was 82 degrees in my house. Yeah. What happened to spring?!

Friday - Active rest day.  I walked my dog and did a Zuzka Light Bunny Slope workout, followed by a slow vinyasa for runners to keep my legs stretched out.  I really needed the rest day today and got to spend lots of time writing!

Saturday - 18 miles.  Now that I'm back on track with my training that means I had to do a second 18-miler this week.  Unlike earlier in the week though, it was already hot when I started and I knew this was going to be a slower run.  I ended up running through a race on my route, a 10-miler, and got to see the winner with his motorcycle escort just before he turned the corner to cross the finish line!  By the time I made it to mile 4 it was sweltering.  After the half marathon mark, I had looped back around to my car and needed to refill my Nuun.  I went in to the restaurant where I was parked and bought a huge cup of ice water off them, as the water I brought and left in the car was pretty warm.  Since I was already moving slow, I decided to drive over to the other greenway and finish my run there hoping there would be more shade.  There wasn't.  The sun was blaring and the temperature outside said only 70 degrees.  When I finished up my run, the thermometer in my car said 84.  My legs were shaky and my stretches post run were probably hilarious to watch.  In fact, at mile 17 I actually yelled out loud "WHY AM I DOING THIS?!"  It wasn't funny at the time, but it is now that I'm looking back!

Sunday - Rest again!  After hiking, dog walking, and running, I had a 55-mile week.  i honestly really would rather be out hiking in the cooler temps and misty rain today, but I know my body needs the rest.  

Next week is my final big mileage week and I'm so nervous!  I'm really hoping the temperatures back off a little bit for the big race on April 3rd.  Also, because I'm a crazy person, starting April 5th I'm headed back out for a week on the Appalachian Trail starting at Springer Mountain!  While I'm excited to be back out for a section with a client, I'm again wondering what in the world I'm doing only 18 hours after finishing my first marathon!  Hiking season is already here!

That was my week in training and I can't believe my first ever marathon is only a few short weeks away.  I'm so nervous now!  Do you have any advice for a first-timer? How did your first big race go?  I'd love for you to leave me a comment or find me on Facebook or Twitter to get the conversation started!

I'm linking up with the Women's Running Community for Share It Saturday!

Women's Running Community

Sunday Runday - Week 10 of Marathon Training

As of this post being published I am one month away from my very first marathon and the nerves are really getting to me!  I cannot believe all the hard work I've been putting in the past few months is finally going to be put to the test.  While we had yet more of that strange early spring weather here in the Smokies, I still go my training on.  Here is how my week went. 

Monday - 4.7 mile progression run.  I hit the local greenway for this one, since it's relatively flat and easy to watch my speed.  First mile was a slower warm up with the next 3 miles under 9 minutes, followed by 0.7 miles of cool down.  It was a great run and I even got out there in shorts and a T-shirt because it was so sunny!

Tuesday - 7.5 miles progression run. This runw as supposed to be a steady pace for the first five miles, then a pick up for miles 6/7, followed by all out on the last half mile.  Well, I misread my Garmin.  I got all confused about what miles were which because it says "lap" at the end of the mile. What I thought was mile 5 was mile 6.  I didn't run as fast as I should've on my 6th  mile, but mile 7 and the last half mile I gave it a solid effort and ran my fastest mile in a LONG time. I also fixed my Garmin to show me my mileage in real time so I don't screw that up again!

Wednesday - 6ish miles of easy hiking.  I took my friend Shannon hiking in Elkmont this morning.  It was snowing and freezing cold, but we took a walk through an old community and even explored the site of an abandoned hotel.  It took hours to warm back up after this chilly hike!

Thursday - Active rest. I had a 3-mile easy run scheduled for today, but under the advice of someone wiser than myself, I was told to take it easy.  I took my dog for a walk and did some vinyasa yoga since my legs seem to be tight.  

Friday - 7ish hiking miles. My backpacking trip went from plan A to plan B to plan C to plan D before we had to call it a loss and scrap it.  I got in some great trail miles on a pretty day though. 

Saturday - 1 mile backpacking.  We gave it another shot on attempting a backpacking trip and this time got to where we were going.  Mother Nature has been playing with us lately here in the Smokies and Newfound Gap Road keeps getting closed due to weather.  It even snowed on us at camp and then we woke up with frozen tents in the morning. 

Sunday - 1 mile hiking plus 4 miles dog walking.  I was supposed to be doing my first 18-mile day, but it just didn't happen.  Our drive home turned from a 1.5 hour to a 3 hour trip for me since Newfound Gap Road got snow again.  I had to drive all the way around the mountain to get home.  By then I could have gotten 18 miles in, but since I hadn't had adequate food and water for fueling, I decided to put it off until Monday.  

This week threw me a lot of curve balls, but I'm excited to get my long run in on Monday.  Sorry for the lack of photos this week (and lateness posting my weekly runday post!)

That was my week in training. My very first marathon is the Knoxville Marathon on April 3rd!  Are you training for anything right now?  How was your week in running?

I'm linking up with the Women's Running Community Share it Saturday: 

Women's Running Community

Sunday Runday - Week 9 of Marathon Training

Well after the difficult and tiring week I had last week, I rallied and got back on track this week.  We have had some crazy weather here in Tennessee and I think we saw three different seasons this week, but the running went very well!  Here is my weekly summary: 

Monday - 3 miles running; This was supposed to be a warm up mile, 2.5 hard effort miles, and a half easy mile with a cool down walk.  I loved doing this run!  It was sunny and warm, so how do you not like that?!

Tuesday - 11.5 miles easy hiking; a friend of mine from the Long Trail, South Pole, was in town with her friend Susan doing "map marker" hikes.  She is trying to hike all the trails in the Smokies and needs to do strange combinations of hikes to get all the miles done.  When she contacted me to see if I'd be interested in an easy hike, I jumped right on it!  We hiked Twin Creeks Trail, Old Sugarlands Trail, and the Gatlinburg Trail for 11.5 of the easiest miles in the entire park.  We even got a little bit of blue sky considering they called for rain all day.  I'll thank my umbrella for keeping the rain away :)

LeConte Creek. 

LeConte Creek. 

Wednesday - 7 miles running; for this run, I was supposed to run five comfortable miles followed by two very hard effort miles.  The wind was gusting at 30 mph, it would occasionally start raining heavy sheets of rain, and I ran this loop in an area where the sidewalks randomly end on high traffic roads.  People honked their horns at me more than usual on this run, probably because I looked like a crazy person running in the storm!  The final two hard effort miles were making my legs scream, but they were very enjoyable!

Thursday - 3 miles running; an easy recovery run was on the agenda for today. I chose to do them on the Gatlinburg Trail since I was up at the Park Headquarters for a meeting.  It was snowing throughout most of the run and the torrential storms from yesterday knocked over quite a few trees on the trail, so I got to practice my hurdle jumper skills!  Is it just me, or are the easy effort miles harder on your body? I was more sore after this run than I thought I would be!  After I got home I did a Bunny Slope workout on Youtube From Zuzka Light. 


Friday - REST!  I was supposed to be on an AT Shakedown hike with a client, but we had to bump the hike to next week due to bad weather and the roads being closed due to snow in the park. 

Saturday - 16 miles running; I had one of my "you must be a real runner now" moments when I didn't even feel like I hit my stride until well into my fifth mile!  From mile 5-16 I felt strong.  I ate a pack of Honey Stinger Chews and drank Nuun and I didn't feel tired, bonk, or even want to slow down.  I'm glad I finally found something that doesn't make my stomach seize up like the Gu gels do.  I also ran what my Garmin called my fastest half marathon time.  While it's not my PR, it's the fastest I've run 13.1 since December.  I ran this half for my Level Up Virtual Run - I won a free entry from Heather over at What the Heck, Why Not?  So thank you, Heather!  I can't wait to get my adorable BB8 medal in the mail!

Sunday - 10.6 miles hiking; an active rest day today and it was in the high 50s with bluebird skies all day.  We packed up our dog and drove to Frozen Head State Park (yes, where they hold the Barkley Marathons for those of you Ultra Runners out there!) where we hiked the Old Mac Trail loop and then did an out and back at Emory Falls.  It was a beautiful day and the trailheads were full.  One thing I really enjoyed about today was seeing how many people were hiking with very young children.  Lots of young kids and lots of dogs out enjoying the parks today!


Well, that was my week in training!  It seems like I got over my mid training slump earlier this month.  I'm still nervous about the fact that I signed up to run a freakin' marathon only about a month from now, but I'm going to stay positive!  How was your week?  Tell me all about your adventures or training in the comments below or find me over on Facebook or Twitter!

Women's Running Community

Sunday Runday - Week 8 of Marathon Training

This week saw me nursing what could turn into a nasty injury and also saw me hit my mid-point training slump.  Running is NOT appealing to me this week.  But then again, not a whole lot is appealing to me this week.  All the gray skies and canceled hikes I've dealt with since the snow last week have really put me into a funk.  Add to that the fact that we had to send our coffee maker back to Amazon and you've got one under caffeinated, tired lady. Here's how my week of training went down. 

Monday - Rest day.  I had a run scheduled, but after walking my dog I was having some peroneal tendon pain.  It had been tender since my 15-miler over the weekend and I have been rolling it out with Yoga Tune Up balls and icing/heating it.  It didn't feel strong enough to run so I took a rest day. 

Tuesday - 3.1 miles; speed work.  With the help of the ever talented and amazing Abby from Back At Square Zero I am trying to mix up my training with some new ideas.  She recommended I try doing the easy/hard method for training and today I went hard!  I did a half mile run, 2 miles of fast and hard running, and a half mile of cool down.  It was hard, I sweat buckets, and I was exhausted after.  I was also exhilarated!  It felt great, but my foot was still flaring up.  More icing at home!

Wednesday - Cross Training; Zuzka Light's Bunny Slope Workout followed by Leslie Fightmaster's Yoga for Hip Opening.  I had a 7-mile run scheduled, but I don't want to push it on my foot!  More icing and stretching today. 

Thursday - 4 miles trail running. I was supposed to have a guided hike today, but the clients were no shows.  No big deal - I had already planned on running the relatively wide and pretty Gatlinburg Trail that afternoon anyway!  It was sunny and 50 degrees.  My foot felt a lot better and I had no pain during the run.  It was a really hard run and I was breathing pretty hard, but it was also about 20 degrees warmer than it has been lately!

Friday - 3 miles guided hike, 3 miles dog walking.  I did a guided hike in the morning with a client who needed to basically cut the time of the hike in half.  We went at a nice pace and then I came home and took my dog for a 3-mile walk in the warm sunshine.  It was 70 degrees by the afternoon and a perfect day!

Saturday - 15 miles running.  Today was supposed to be 16 miles.  Remember how I said I'd been feeling run down all week? I felt kind of crappy this morning too.  I felt incredibly dehydrated, but I knew I wasn't.  I set out for my run loaded up with Nuun on my new hydration belt.  It was very windy and incredibly humid.  My run took me past an area by our enormous town compost facility and through the crowded, exhaust-filled strip of Pigeon Forge.  By mile 12 I was getting tired and at mile 14.1 I bonked.  I paused my Garmin, drank the last of my Nuun and rallied until mile 15.  I then walked the extra half mile back to my car as a cool down, scarfing down a honey roasted peanut Luna bar.  I don't consider this run failed as I only missed it by a mile and I had already walked my dog, so technically, I'd done 17.5 miles by the end of my run.  I'll call it a win!

Sunday - REST!  I did a nice 45-minute flow yoga workout and some foam rolling on my legs and feet.  Here's to hoping next week is a little bit kinder to me!

That was my week in training.  My next race is the Knoxville Marathon on April 3rd.  Are you training for anything?  How did your week go?  Let me know in the comments or over on the Facebook post!

Women's Running Community

Sunday Runday - Week 7 of Marathon Training

This week I really needed to shake off my disappointing race finish from last Saturday at the Strawberry Plains Half Marathon.  After sulking all day Sunday, I turned it around this week and, with the help of a blogging friend, I have a new plan in place for the next few weeks.  I also won a free virtual race entry from another blog, so I am planning to run a 30K the last weekend in February.  I have something in between my bad finish last week and my marathon in only 6 weeks (eeek!).  Here's how my week went: 

Monday - 3 easy miles running. I needed to do an easy run and needed to visit the laundromat today.  Lucky for me the laundromat sits right in front of the greenway here in my town.  I threw the stuff in the washer and hit the path for a quick and fast 5K.  I kept trying to slow down, but ended up just letting myself go with the flow.  It was an amazing run. 

Tuesday - Runner's Strength and Balance (Nike Training Club); 16 minutes; Leslie Fightmaster Yoga Fix 90 - Day 3 flow with Bird of Paradise

Wednesday - 8.6 STRONG miles!  It was cold today.  It was windy today. I knew I needed to get in my miles.  I ran the first 6 miles with the wind in my face, but the final 2.5 were downhill with the wind at my back.  I ran really strong and it felt great!

Foam rolling hurts so nice...! But it keeps my legs so happy. 

Foam rolling hurts so nice...! But it keeps my legs so happy. 

Thursday - Two long walks with the dog for 5 miles.  My dog had been a little under the weather earlier in the week, but pestered me twice for some walks today.  I think she overdid it because she is worn out again at the end of the day.  

Friday - Planned 3 fast miles; instead Leslie Fightmaster's 30 minute Detox yoga.  So it snowed again, which in the south means we can't do things.  They finally cleared the roads around 1 p.m., but I knew the greenways and sidewalks wouldn't be clear so I scrapped my plan and did a total body detox yoga flow instead.  

Saturday - 15 miles running. Yeah, 15 miles.  I still can't believe I did it!  I'm so excited and impressed. I was going to do one huge loop around two of the towns I live near, but I didn't want to carry water in my hands, so I made two loops and stopped by my car around mile 8.5 for a hydration break.  I was getting kind of tired at mile 12, but kept pushing.  I was on a huge runner's high the rest of the day.  It also helped that I knew my mom was cooking a big turkey dinner as we had family in town.  I got some good recovery food on a few hours later!

So excited about my big miles! 

So excited about my big miles! 

Sunday - REST.  Yeah. I deserve it after yesterday I think.  Today was Valentine's Day and NoKey totally surprised me by showing up with a brand new hydration belt!  I wasn't expecting him to get me a gift at all, so to say I'm shocked is an understatement!  I can't wait to test this baby out a few times next week. 

A new piece of gear!  And it's purple/pink!  This means it pretty much matches every single outfit I own. 

A new piece of gear!  And it's purple/pink!  This means it pretty much matches every single outfit I own. 

That sums up my week pretty well!  The next race I'm training for is the Knoxville Marathon on April 3rd!  Are you in the process of training for anything?  How did your week go? Leave me a comment here or over on the Facebook page!

Transformation Tuesday - My Hiking Weight Loss Journey

While I normally do adventure recaps on Tuesdays, today I thought I'd do something a little different.  In the fitness community Transformation Tuesday is a big feature on social media across the internet.  Many of us like to share our journeys with each other if for no other reason than to say "life is never easy - I know it's hard and I got through."  It helps to inspire others to be their best selves.  I know for me that Tuesdays are always extremely motivational if for no other reason than I know this could be the story that changes someone's life!  For me personally, hiking saved me.  If it weren't for me finding this passion in my life I have no idea where I would be today.  Here is my story. 

This is me in June 2010, only 2 months after knee surgery and carrying more weight than I care to remember - both in my pack and on my body.  

This is me in June 2010, only 2 months after knee surgery and carrying more weight than I care to remember - both in my pack and on my body.  

After struggling through some personal issues in 2008 I had gained a few pounds.  My doctor was treating me for depression and the pills made me gain weight and slowed down my thyroid function.  The lower my thyroid functioned the more weight I put on and the more depressed I became.  It was a vicious cycle.  By early 2010 I was weighing close to 155 pounds. At 5'1" I was unhealthy and overweight.  Then, a slip and fall in a friend's kitchen caused major damage to my knee which required an easy surgery but required physical therapy to be able to walk and pedal a bike again.  I gained 25 more pounds due to the steroids and the physical inactivity.  I was absolutely miserable.  I had hired a personal trainer to help me lose the weight, but with my knee pain it was so hard to do many exercises without severe modification.  Weight training was helping me get stronger, but without cardio I knew I'd never lose the weight.  

Since I was in a lot of pain and walking was a skill I could manage I started hiking more seriously.  I could only do short day hikes, 3-4 miles, but since we live near a national park a lot of backpacking trips would fit this description.  I could do a round trip total of 6 or 8 or 10 miles in a weekend!  I started hiking as often as I could with a group I found on Meetup.Com that was local to my area.  I was often times the slowest person in the group, the one everyone took a break and waited for.  I was the one who didn't get a break ever because by the time I caught up to everyone they had been taking a break for a LONG time!  Sometimes I really got discouraged, but I had made some amazing friends in the group who helped support me and encourage me on those hard hikes. 

Me hiking through a rock quarry in August 2010 with my Meetup friends. 

Me hiking through a rock quarry in August 2010 with my Meetup friends. 

Little by little, my injured knee got stronger every day.  After about 6 months of working with a trainer and spending my weekends with the hiking group I was able to start doing light impact cardio at a gym - elliptical and bike training.  While the pain in my knee was still aggravating, it had lessened dramatically and I was able to work on my endurance.  Combined with the strength training, I knew I was getting stronger and was slowly starting to do a better job keeping up with my friends on our hiking trips!  By the time we rang in 2011 I had dropped more than 30 pounds, my thyroid began functioning better on it's own, and my depression was lessening.  Not only was the physical activity helping my moods, but being outside in the fresh air and sunshine with good company was helping lift my spirits.  While I was shedding weight, I was also shedding a dark cloud that had been built up in my soul for a long time.  

Hiking on the Appalachian Trail in the Spring of 2011 - thinking how hard it would be to go all the way to Maine one day!

Hiking on the Appalachian Trail in the Spring of 2011 - thinking how hard it would be to go all the way to Maine one day!

In the late spring of 2011 I met Jennifer Pharr Davis.  She was the female speed record holder for the Appalachian Trail.  She was going to try to (and did!) set the overall speed record during the summer.  I had already started throwing around the idea of doing a thru hike after spending some time with friends who had done large sections and, after meeting her and listening to how she spoke of the life changing experience of hiking the trail, I knew I had to do it... but how on earth would I manage something like that?!  That summer a friend of mine began a bucket list item - hiking the 900 miles of trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park before her next birthday.  She spent every single weekend out on the trails and by now I was one of the faster hikers.  I spent most of my weekends with Elise and other friends of hers doing obscure day hikes and combinations of trails that no one could ever even dream of!  With Elise at my side I took my first ever multi-day backpacking trip.  Because of all the hard work I put in with her, by the fall of 2011 I knew for sure I could not only start a thru hike but I also knew I would complete one!

Me at McAffee's Knob - the most photographed location on the entire Appalachian Trail.  May 2012. 

Me at McAffee's Knob - the most photographed location on the entire Appalachian Trail.  May 2012. 

By the time I left for Springer Mountain in Georgia on March 27th, 2012 I had lost 50 pounds.  I was a strong hiker who for the first month of the trail didn't spend more than a night or two with the same person because I usually completed more miles.  I was physically prepared for the trail and even dropped 8 more pounds throughout the length of my hike.  By the time I walked to Maine I was the strongest and fittest person I had ever been in my life (with the worst diet probably!).  After getting back home to Tennessee I wasn't walking 20+ miles every day and the weight started to come back - much to my horror.  Granted, some of those last 8 pounds were caused by dehydration and would be gained back... but it's hard to tell yourself that when you've worked so hard to lose so much weight in the first place.  Hand-in-hand with coming back into the real world from a thru hike comes post-trail depression.  The inactivity and depression started throwing me back into a spiral of sadness I remembered from years ago and it scared me.  

I started running about a month after I got home from the AT as a way to stay busy and fit when I couldn't go hiking every single day. I was running 5K's at Thanksgiving and New Year's and doing the miles started to feel normal to me. After moving to Millinocket in 2013, I made it a priority to take a walk nearly every night around town.  Sometimes I even ran a 5K by looping twice around the greenway they had at Millinocket Stream.  It wasn't until we moved to Syracuse that I started seriously thinking about running as a way to fill my time.  I ran my first half marathon in the spring of 2015 after training through the brutally cold winter outdoors before daylight.  For the first time since finishing my thru hike I truly felt accomplished and proud of the things I was doing.  Running went from something I really hated to something that kept me focused and sane.  By the time we left for the Benton MacKaye Trail in the late spring of 2015 I was in the best cardiovascular shape I had ever been in!

Crossing the finish line of the Syracuse Half Marathon with an official time of 2:05:45 - better than the goal time I trained for!

Crossing the finish line of the Syracuse Half Marathon with an official time of 2:05:45 - better than the goal time I trained for!

I now consider myself extremely lucky to call myself a hiking guide.  I now get paid to share my love of the trails and backpacking with people who are new to the sport.  In my free time now I've run a multitude of races, added two more long-distance trails to my hiking resume, and I am even training for my first full marathon in the spring of 2016.  If you were to ask me 5 years ago if I ever would have seen myself here I would have told you that you were crazy!  

The reason I'm sharing this story now is because I feel like it's important to tell people that small changes add up.  I get messages of people asking me how to start hiking with a group; people who are slow and overweight like I was and are afraid to make others wait on them.  The reason I'm sharing this is to tell you that we all have to start somewhere.  Hell, I even had to learn how to WALK again before I could hike.  We all start slow.  We all need time to ease into it.  If you want to start hiking - GO FOR IT!  Hiking changed my life.  It saved my life.  I'd hate to think where I could be today without it.  

Has hiking caused a positive change in your life?  I'd love to hear about it!  Please leave me a comment or find me over on Facebook to get the conversation started!

Women's Running Community

Sunday Runday - Week 6 of Marathon Training

This week was my taper for the Strawberry Plains Half Marathon.  As luck would have it, I had guide training at work in the early part of the week and a hike in the middle of the week.  While I didn't get much running in this week, I was able to stay active!  Here was how my week in running went: 

Monday, 2-1: Hiking guide training - approximately 3 miles hiked.  We only did a bit of walking today, seeing the shorter and easier nature trails for short hour-long programs.  We also went out to the historic homes in Elkmont and did a talk about lightening safety.  It was rainy and cold today, so it was nice we got finished a little early!

Tuesday, 2-2: Hiking guide training - approximately 1 mile hiked.  We learned some other important skills during training today - knot tying, setting up tarps, and running a few medical scenarios.  I did a presentation with facts about the Appalachian Trail and one of our guides took us up on the AT at Newfound Gap for a short walk in ancient old growth forest.  The three new guides, Bethany, Matt, and Myself finished out the day by doing a tag-team group hike around a nature trail showing off the new facts we'd learned. 

The crazy group of talented people I get to call co-workers!

The crazy group of talented people I get to call co-workers!

Wednesday, 2-3: 5 miles.  I was supposed to have a hike today, but torrential rains overnight made our trail unsafe.  I was able to get some housework done, and did a five mile run as a shakeout. 

Thursday, 2-4: 8 miles hiking.  I did a job shadowing today with another guide.  We took one client up to Ramsey Cascade on a long day hike.  Today is the first time I've ever been up to Ramsey's Cascade and been completely alone without anyone else on trail.  I got to learn some more about different trees and identification during the winter, which was really exciting!

The beautiful Ramsey's Cascades! 

The beautiful Ramsey's Cascades! 

Friday, 2-5: 3 miles.  I took a quick 3.2 mile shakeout run in the warm afternoon sun, just to make sure my legs still felt strong and fresh after working around my strange schedule this week!

Saturday, 2-6: 13.1 miles - Strawberry Plains Half Marathon.  I really hoped to run not only a PR for this race, but also to run a sub 2-hour half marathon.  Around mile 10 I figured out this wasn't going to happen and was absolutely deflated.  I did run my last 2 miles very strong, but ended up running 2:05:10.  I cried a little, but after I got some food I rallied for a proper finish photo. I'm really, really sad about my finish time, as I had really trained hard and remained injury free for this race.  My next half isn't until December 2016, so I have plenty of time to whittle down my time. 

Sunday, 2-7: Active rest.  All I'm doing today is walking my dog and stuffing my face with food during SuperBowl Sunday!  Next week I'll be running faster and adding in some extra mileage as I ramp up my marathon training!  

In case you missed it, I still have an SLS3 Dual Pocket Running Belt giveaway running until 2-9-16 from a post last week.  Click here to enter and, if you just can't wait to see if you won, use the link to purchase one from Amazon on sale!

I am contemplating signing up for a 30K at the end of February, but as for now my next race is the Knoxville Marathon on April 3rd, 2016.  What are you training for?  How was your week in running? Leave me a comment!

Women's Running Community

Sunday Runday - Week 5 of Marathon Training

I don't know how the weather looks where you're at right now, but here in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains the weather has been looking better each day this week!  While earlier in the week running felt like it was a bust, later the temperatures rose and the sun made an appearance to round out an active week in training.  Here's how it went: 

Monday - Active rest day.  I took the day off after my long 12-miler the day before, mostly because it seems like I've been reading a LOT lately about the importance of truly resting your muscles leading into a race week.  I did a Yin Yoga class by Leslie Fightmaster and made sure to foam roll twice today. 

Tuesday - Total Adrenaline (NTC - 30 min.) It was spitting rain all day long today and wasn't much more than freezing.  I chose to skip my run and stay indoors for cross-training instead.  I followed it with a slow vinyasa yoga video. 

Wednesday - 7 miles.  I took a new running route today and made a loop on what our city calls a Greenway.  It is what most other places would call a sidewalk on the side of a busy 6-lane road.  The smells of the car exhaust for 7 miles was kind of obnoxious, but I ended up running strong and pulled off negative splits, so I'm very happy!

A good and easy run! 

A good and easy run! 

Thursday - 7 miles.  After running with the traffic the day before, I went back to my old faithful running path.  It was chilly, but my legs felt incredibly strong despite running just the day before.  

Friday - hiking 9.5 miles.  I took my friend Shannon hiking for the very first time on this gorgeous sunny day!  She had the day off and had never been hiking, so we did not one, but TWO hikes!  We hiked up to Courthouse Rock and Qulliams Falls before deciding we hadn't had quite enough trail and did a second off-trail hike to the stone house in the Sugarlands.  I'm so incredibly proud of my friend for being a bad ass and pulling off so many miles!

Saturday - hiking 4 miles.  Today I had hiking guide training in the Greenbrier section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The hiking today was what we describe at our company as "hideously slow." And I mean it.  It took us nearly 6 hours to complete an incredibly easy 2 mile hike during the morning.  We did a lot of interpretation and had a short lunch break before tackling a second trail - this one went much quicker as we didn't want to lose any daylight!

Even with temps in the high 50s for a few days, the ice from Jonas is still sticking around! 

Even with temps in the high 50s for a few days, the ice from Jonas is still sticking around! 

Sunday - hiking 4.5-5 miles.  Another day of hiking guide training means I didn't have time to get in my 9-mile taper long run this weekend.  I was hoping to have the time after training, but it has been running long, unfortunately.  I did get to see some new parts of the trail and a really cool cave, and of course I got to spend the day outside when the temperature was in the high 50's and the sun was shining all day.  

Well, even though I didn't get in the running miles I'd hoped, I was active all week.  How is your training going?  Do you have any events coming up soon? 

Women's Running Community

Sunday Runday - Week 4 of Marathon Training

I apologize for not having too much in last week’s post other than training details!  I meant to write it before I published and it just slipped my mind.  Let’s delve into this week’s training by looking at the weather.  Winter is finally here in the Southeast.  We got about an inch and a half of snow at our house on Wednesday.  That minute amount of snow, however, means that the entire town shuts down. No mail, no garbage pickup, no salting the roads.  It was eerily quiet at our house up on the hill, where we usually hear traffic in the winter due to the leaves falling off the trees.  I was hoping the snow wouldn’t damper my training plan this week.  Here’s how I did. 

Monday: Strength and Balance for Runners (16 min) - NTC.  This workout was sort of yoga-lates.  It was fun with light weights and strength training. 

Tuesday - 7.5 miles in the cold; 35-minute yin yoga cool down. It was 17 degrees with a real feel of 10 when I headed out for my tempo run.  The sun was shining and there was minimal traffic.  I didn’t see a single other person on the Greenway.  I planned to run 7, but felt so good I decided to run an extra half mile lap around the park before stretching. 

Wednesday - Full Body Balance Yoga - Leslie Fightmaster (35 min).  This balancing class was tough on my legs, but I definitely could tell how much better I am getting at yoga.  Poses like twisted half moon actually stuck and my legs are getting more flexible.  I can’t believe how far I’ve come. 

Anywhere is a trail when you have snow! 

Anywhere is a trail when you have snow! 

Thursday - 1 mile - failed running attempt.  The snow melted and the roads looked great, so I headed down for a run. After a short 0.6 miles i noticed a pulling-type pain in my Achilles tendon on my right foot.  I tried to run through it, but it continued so I quit at 1 mile. I canceled out my Garmin and started walking back to my car.  When I got to the lot I tried running again, but it definitely pulled harder, so I cut my losses and headed home to put a heating pad on the Achilles and foam rolled a few times. 

Friday - Goal Getter (18 Min) NTC.  My Achilles was still sore on my afternoon dog walk, so I decided to do some cross training instead.  This short workout got me to sweat, so I'm happy with that. 

Saturday - Walking in the snow (!) for an hour with Gracie and NoKey.  Since we were all home and we didn't have anything better to do, we took a snowy walk with the dog.  The main road near our house had been salted and since we only got about 2 inches of fine, powdery snow it made for a beautiful walk.  Below are a few photos NoKey took of the neighborhood.  I love living up on a mountain!

A snowy scene. 

A snowy scene. 

The road is clear! 

The road is clear! 

Sunday - 12 slow miles. This is my last run before my taper weeks before my next big race. I was starting to feel some Achilles pain around 8.75 miles, so I ran by my car, paused the Garmin, and took a water break while walking for about 2 minutes.  This breather was just what I needed to push through.  I wanted to quit at 10 miles, but I just ran two bigger loops to get the 12 done.  I didn't have what it took mentally, but somehow pulled through just fine.  I came home and did the Yoga With Adrienne runners cool down yoga and did some foam rolling to help out my Achilles. I can't get an injury now!

Well, that’s how my training went for the week.  The next race I’m doing is the Strawberry Plains Half Marathon on February 6th.  How did your training go? 

Women's Running Community

Sunday Runday - Week 3 of Marathon Training

Monday 1-11: Advanced Yoga (45 min) - Nike Training Club.  I seriously cannot wait for Friday when I'm done with this program.  The yoga on this app is terrible! On the positive side, my wrist is starting to feel better. 

Tuesday 1-12: 7 mile tempo run.  This run felt great and my times are getting faster, back to where they were before my injury. 

Wednesday 1-13: Slacker today. I was supposed to do a 30 minute NTC workout and planned some yoga afterward.  I honestly didn't feel like it and instead did a 3-mile walk with my dog and baked a lemon cake.  Worth it! :) 

Thursday 1-14: 5 miles w/cadence & step work.  This was my first ever attempt at cadence & step work!  The goal was to run 0:30 at full pace and then walk for 1:00 for six cycles.  I needed to count my steps to make sure my strides were efficient.  Bad news is I'm terrible with numbers, so I took a little tip from my WFR Training and duct taped my leg and carried a Sharpie. I was able to write down all my steps and continue running!

Step work with a little hikertrash ingenuity! 

Step work with a little hikertrash ingenuity! 

Friday 1-15: Conditioning Corps - NTC (30 minutes).  Since I'm thankfully finished with my Nike Training club conditioning plan, I could chose my own workout.  I chose this beginner workout that used light weights and my knees were so happy without all the lunges and squats of the intermediate program!

Saturday 1-16: Long run - 11 miles. My legs were toast this morning.  I didn't want to do the run at all, but tomorrow's forecast shows temps about 20 degrees cooler with snow in the high elevations, meaning that there will be freezing rain or sleet down in the foothills of the Smokies, where I train.  I dragged myself out of the house after breakfast and put in the miles.  The first 6 felt amazing, but then the hill on mile 7 crushed my pace and I never recovered.  The run was slow, but it's done. 

Sunday 1-17: Active rest.  My body is tired after this week.  I think it's due to the weather being kind of a mess.  I took a nice hot Epsom bath and did Leslie Fightmaster's Vinyasa Evening Flow class on Youtube.  I'm hoping my paces look better next week after some rest!

My favorite hip stretch - Cowface pose. Definitely needed after this week! 

My favorite hip stretch - Cowface pose. Definitely needed after this week! 

Well, that was my week!  How was your week? Are you training for an event? I'd love to chat with you - leave me a comment!

This post is a part of the Women's Running Community link-up party!

WRC Saturday - #WRCShareIt
Women's Running Community

Sunday Runday - Week 2 of Marathon Training

So I realized after publishing last week's post that I forgot to mention something really cool - during a giveaway spree by my favorite running blogs last month, I won a free month of run coaching from  I am by no means an elite runner and I thought getting a coach would be kind of... well, snooty.  I have to tell you how excited I am that having a run coach, especially when you don't have many friends who run in the area, is proving to be an amazing experience. With LouAnn's guidance, I'm hoping to PR in my next event - The Strawberry Plains Half Marathon.  This week in running went much better than last week.  I felt stronger and seemed to have worked out my nutritional needs with my coach's help.  

Monday 1/4: Advanced Yoga with Nike Training Club - 45 minutes.  I did have to modify some of the poses that required me to hold my weight with my left wrist.  The small cyst that developed does make it painful to hold planks sometimes. 

Tuesday 1/5: 7.1 miles slow run/45 min. cross training.  NoKey had to have some dental work done, so I drove him to his appointment and went running in the neighborhood, which is one I run in quite frequently.  By the time I finished my cool down, he was ready to head back out to the car so timing couldn't have been better!  I felt great and did the Body Buffer workout from my NTC app in the evening. 

Showing off on Instagram :) 

Showing off on Instagram :) 

Wednesday 1/6: Active rest day.  After a 7 mile run and 45-minute workout the day before, I earned this one!

Thursday 1/7: 6.5 mile run.  This run felt more difficult to me and I thought about doing just five miles instead of the 6.5.  There was a bit of a headwind a few times and I felt slow, but pushed through. 

Friday 1/8: Curve Carver from NTC - 30 minutes. 

Saturday 1/9: 10 mile long run with intervals.  I have to say I was skeptical of this run. With LouAnn's coaching, she recommended on my long runs of more than 10 miles I simulate water stops during a race, running for 9 minutes and walking for 1 minute.  I decided that since my pace has been a little slower lately, I would run 10 minutes and walk 30 seconds.  I cannot believe that 1) This didn't affect my time on the run - I ran pretty much the same as I do without the break; 2) My legs actually felt good and I was able to push strong on my last mile. I also carried hydration with me on this run which was awkward at first, but it really helped me.  I've been getting headaches a few hours after my long runs for a few months now and the extra water I drank during the run really seemed to help it go away. 


Sunday 1/10: NTC Jump Around (30 min) and Leslie Fightmaster's Relaxing Yoga Flow (30 min.)

So, how did your training go this week? Are you training for any upcoming races? Leave me a comment or catch me over on Facebook to talk about it!

Women's Running Community

Five Ways Running is Similar to Hiking

Many of you following me on Instagram know by now that when I'm not out hiking a trail I'm at home running and planning for my next race.  While I've got a few half marathons under my belt, I've taken the leap and decided to train for a full 26.2 mile marathon in the spring - The Covenant Half Marathon in April.  While I hated running before I was a thru hiker, after my 2012 hike I discovered that running is one of the few things short of doing another thru hike that can keep me sane.  I've noticed some similarities between the two in recent months.  Here's how I think running is like hiking. 


Time to Clear Your Head

Running is my "me" time.  Whether I'm running 3 miles or 13 miles, I can use this time during the day to walk off whatever is bothering me or think through some ideas.  In a world where we are increasingly dependent on electronic devices (yep, even when I run I'm tracking my progress!), taking the time to focus only on my breath and my thoughts helps me come up with more creative ideas, whether it's for suggesting new hikes at work or coming up with blog post ideas for you guys!  Just like when you find yourself wrapped up in your own thoughts on a long and quiet hike, running can provide peace for your mind. 

Runner Hunger

Just like when I'm on a long hike, when I'm training for a race my appetite hits out of control hungry girl mode.  I normally eat a lot of small "meals" throughout the day anyway, but when I'm in the middle of training I am eating around 8 times a day with legitimate hunger pangs. When I'm really in the thick of training, just like when I'm hiking I can tell you what time it is just by the growling of my stomach.  Second breakfast is REAL people!

The Internal Struggle

Something a lot of people don't know about me is that I'm mostly a pessimist.  When I was on any given long distance hike I never had the idea in my head that I would succeed and complete the hike - or any hike for that matter.  I had a blog follower ask me years ago when I knew I would finish the entire AT and I told them the minute I touched the sign on Baxter Peak of Katahdin was when I knew I would complete the trail.  The same is true for me and running. On any given run, especially on my longer days, I don't ever feel like I'm going to complete the entire length of the mileage I've planned until I'm back at the car stretching.  I have no idea why, but maybe it's a good way of keeping myself from getting disappointed on less-than-stellar runs. 

Exhaustion After a Long Session

No matter how fit I think I am or how good I'm feeling, a long run - just like a long hike - can drain me.  When I'm on a long-distance hike using the excuse of getting into town and getting some delicious and greasy food will make you do incredible distance.  When I'm training for a big race, the promise of getting extra brownies and a big serving of chocolate milk is enough to make me push harder.  Also just like when I'm on trail, that big push will zonk me out and render me useless on my recovery day.  On trail, we take zero days.  In the real world, I take binge watch a TV series days. 

The Sense of Accomplishment

When you finish a long hike you are on top of the world!  Exhausted and possibly swearing off hiking forever, but on top of the world nonetheless.  The same is true for running.  When I finished my first half marathon nine months ago I had trained all winter, sometimes getting up and running before the snowplows came and scraped away the layer of powder falling the night before.  Running by headlamp with flashing reflective clip-ons in the pre-dawn hours all to say I ran 13.1 miles without stopping.  When I finished the race I was jubilant and I ugly-cried after they gave me my finishing medal.  There is something about the hard work and dedication paying off that can make running and doing a long hike incredibly rewarding. 

These are just a few of the things I find running and long hikes have in common.  Do you run for fun?  Did you take up ultra running after a thru hike?  I'd love to chat with you about your experiences.  Please leave me a comment below or click on the Facebook post and get the conversation started!