May 19, 2010

Tips for Your First 5K Race - Dedicated to Gisela

I was reading an article which contained a few tips for first time marathoners on race day (a few days late may I add) and realized that my friend, Gisela, is running her first 5K race and could probably use a few tips for her race day. I looked up some standard tips and modified them per my experiences. For some people running a 5K race is no big deal, but to my dear friend Gisela it is a HUGE deal. I know my first 5K was a huge deal and I was so nervous. If this is a hobby and lifestyle you are choosing to live, this is the first step in one day running a marathon. One step at a time. "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" -Lao Tzu. For runners, our first step is a 5K (3.1 miles)

So Gisela and to all those who will run their first 5K, here are tips from an amateur to help you on your first race day.

1. Don't Overdress

A good rule of thumb: Dress as if the weather is 15 degrees warmer than it is. That's how much you'll warm up once you start running. If you know what the weather will be like on race day, here is a great tool I use from that can help you figure out what you should wear.,7152,s6-240-325-330-0-0-0-0-0,00.html

2. Choose Your Pre-Race Food Wisely

Eat a meal at least one hour prior to the start of the race. Choose something high in carbohydrates and lower in fat, fiber, and protein. Stay away from rich, fatty, or high-fiber foods, as they may cause gastrointestinal distress, or more simply put, cause you to want to go to the bathroom. My pre-race mean ritual is Dunkin Donuts Coffee and a bagel with cream cheese. That hasn't failed me yet.
3. Get There Early

Arrive at the race site early to make sure you get a parking spot. Regardless of whether you're driving there or not, you'll also need time to pick up your number and timing chip, take a warm-up jog, and possibly use the bathroom (remember that the lines may be long).

4. Pin Your Bib

Your race bib goes on the front of your shirt, not the back. This will allow all the necessary individuals to recognize you, especially the photographers. You can use safety pins on all four corners of the bib to keep it in place. Most races provide you with safety pins.

5. Secure your timing chip

When picking up your race number, you will also be given a race chip or tag. The chip or tag is what will read your start, split, and finish times. Ensure you secure you chip or tag on your sneakers. Tags usually will have instructions on them, but rest assured, this is super easy to figure out. In most cases, the chips are considered disposable and you can keep them. If not, you must hand them in at the finish or someone will be there to remove it for you.

6. Line Up Properly

Don't line up near the front of the starting line. Faster, more seasoned runners don't like to weave around newbie (and likely slower) runners at the start of the race. It will be easier to fall into your pace if you're around people that are the same speed as you.

7. Use the Water Stops

Take advantage of the water stations on the course. I usually do not stop for water during 5K runs, however, they are provided and if you need hydration, go for it. And don't forget to thank the volunteers for handing out water!

8. Bring Your Support Team

Invite your friends and family members to support you. Ask them to stand near the finish line so they can cheer you on at the end. Having someone waiting for you at the finish line is a huge motivator and makes the accomplishment that much more special.

9. Aim to Finish

Don't put pressure on yourself to achieve a really fast time for your first race. Finishing the race and enjoying the experience are excellent goals for a first-timer. If you are running at a comfortable pace and you find that people are passing you, resist the urge to speed up. Run YOUR race and enjoy it.

10. Don't Wear the Race T-Shirt

Lastly, you'll most likely get a race T-shirt when you sign up for the race. Don't wear it until after you've completed the race. You should come prepared to run according to what you have trained in and the it also makes you look like a rookie!

BONUS: Be Proud of Yourself. You did it!!!...and I am proud of you!

May 14, 2010

Less than 2 days until the Marathon - A toast

At this moment, according to, there is only 1 day and 7 hours left until the marathon start. Although this is my first marathon and really have no clue how I will do, I have to say that I am not nervous. I am just really excited. I don't think I trained the best I could, but I do feel like I've trained enough to run the marathon.

If you back track my blog, you'll realize that I was originally planning on running the NJ Marathon on May 2 in Long Branch, NJ. Somewhere down the line I changed my mind and decided to run the Run for the Red Pocono Marathon. I can't really explain why...many things contributed to the change of plans, but I have to say that I am super glad that I did. The day of the NJ Marathon we had 90+ degree humid weather (typical NJ summer weather) and that would have totally not been a fun first marathon - because of the weather conditions.

I have been "stalking" the weather for the marathon for the last 10 days and it looks like we are going to have great weather. The days high will be a sunny and dry 75 degrees. I believe the weather at the start will be about 55-60 degrees which is great weather to run in. I am beyond glad that God granted me such a great day to run my first marathon.

The weather was a bit of a concern for me because I really want my family and friends to be there. I would ask them to stand for hours in the rain while i run for 4+ hours, so needless to say, I am super grateful that the weather will be great, not only for me, but for my cheering spectators.

Crossing the finish line at a marathon, I can imagine brings such a sense of accomplishment and pride. But many times I think people may underestimate the accomplishment and pride that training for a marathon should bring someone. All those miles and time that we put in for one cross a line and receive a medal...and of course the pride of saying "I am a marathoner". It's really such a selfish sport. One that's about me and my accomplishment; it's about "what I was able to do."

I have to admit that I love the selfishness about running a marathon. For the last 3+ years it's been about my husband and my daughters, but this is about me... and I'm not ashamed to say it. We all need our "me" time.

However, I naturally am not a selfish person and although I love the pride that will come with saying I've run a marathon, I also wanted to do something for others. That's why I decided to take this great challenge and use my efforts to raise money for a non-profit organization called Root of Hope. Root of Hope is an organization led by my parents and members of our local community. It's main focus, at this time, is to create a brighter future for children in Mozambique, Africa. Many third world countries remain that way because of a lack of education. The citizens of those countries do not have the knowledge to fight against the corruption that destroys their country and in the end brings much poverty to their land. Providing children with an education allows them to grow up and obtain the knowledge and power necessary to fight corruption and bring hope to their impoverished countries. My parents have been going to Mozambique at least once a year for the last 9 years and live there for 2 of those 9 years. They have seen adolescents grow to be bright men and women with a great future ahead of them because of their education and faith in God. That is why I decided to raise money for Root of Hope. Because I know that the money that is raised goes solely towards their mission and not administrative costs. It's one thing to donate to feed a child, but I know that the children that Root of Hope helps does so with lots of love, passion, and commitment.

So this raise is about me and my accomplishment, but completely dedicated to those boys and girls in Africa that have been helped by Root of Hope. It's dedicated to those kids who see my mom and dad as their mom and dad. Running the marathon is one challenge that I am going to overcome, but many of those children overcome challenges on a daily basis. They should be proud of themselves and consider themselves champions for overcoming the obstacles life has dealt them.
So again, with my poland springs bottle in my hand, I would like to make a toast, to God who is my passion and the reason for all I do, to my husband who motivates me to follow my dreams, to my girls who give me the strength to keep going, to my parents who support me and love me unconditionally, and to the children in xai xai Mozambique whose simplicity and love can melt any heart...this run is for you! As I run the 26.2 miles I will think about you all every step of the way. When I get to the finish line and receive my finisher's metal, it's for you. Because without you, I would have never been able to get to the finish. I love you. (Ching)

May 1, 2010

New Jersey's 90 Degree Saturday

What a gorgeous Saturday here in NJ!! Hubby is away for the weekend and this afternoon the girls, my parents, and I went to Sandy Hook to enjoy the lovely weather.

I have to run 18 miles at some point this weekend, so I went dressed in running clothes in the event I decided to go for a run. Sandy Hook has a great running path. I borrowed a book written by Dean Karnazes called “Ultra Marathon Man” from my good old running friend Ralph and read it on the way down. Needless to say I was totally inspired to go for a run once I got to Sandy Hook…even in 90 degree weather.

The beach was really packed to my surprise. I guess most new jersians were pretty tired of the winter and are just waiting anxiously for summer to begin. Although, I am a huge beach fan and love the summer, I have to say that I don’t want to skip spring to go straight to summer weather. I need some good old spring weather (60-75 degrees). Considering the fact that I am a few weeks away from running the marathon, weather this hot just isn’t cool…no pun intended (hahaha, yeah I’m a geek).

I began my run and headed to the beach entrance. I planned to run in that direction because I would be going towards the wind and thought “on the way back I’ll be able to relax since I will be running with the wind”. I thought it was a good idea, but once I turned around I quickly realized that running into the wind on such a hot day was really the best way to go. During my journey there were many folks riding bikes, but on 2 runners passed me and we greeted each other. I mean, we must have something in common…we are all crazy running in 90 degree weather.

I finished and ran a total of 4 miles. It definitely was a struggle, but I’m pretty sure it was the heat. I just hope that the weather for the long awaited marathon day doesn’t wind up being so hot.

My timing is great and I really think I’m going to hit my goal of finishing the marathon in 4 hours and 45 minutes.

So on goes my journey. I hope I can find someone to stay with the girls so I can run another 14 miles this weekend.

P.S. To all my fellow runners: If you run in the heat, hydration is essential. It may be a pain to carry that bottle of water, but hot or cold water is essential. YOU CAN DO IT!

April 29, 2010

My first Half Marathon: 2010 More/Fitness Half Marathon in Central Park NYC

My first half marathon was this past Sunday. I ran the More/Fitness Half Marathon in Central Park, NY.


I have to admit that I wasn't too nervous because I had already run a 15K which is only about 4 miles short of a half, but I was definitely excited. It was also my opportunity to get a feel for how I will do at the marathon and what my strategy should be.


On Friday, I went to the expo held at the Roseland Ballroom in the city. I received my race day number, timer, shirt, and goody bag...and then going into the, running heaven. I think I made my way around about 3 times. Aside from having many running goodies to look through, there were numerous give aways and speakers. It really was a great expo...but then again, it's my first so there is nothing to compare it against. Initially, I didn't want to spend any money at the expo, but it was almost impossible not to buy something. I wound up buying some bling for my sneakers that reads "NYC Half Marathon 13.1", a spi belt, and a "Irunlikeagirl" running shirt. Towards the end of the expo they were taking pictures and would format it to look like a magazine cover...that's a great suvenier.


Saturday started out as a busy day, but I definitely wanted to carbo load and hydrate for the race. I spend most of the day anticipating the race. We went out with a few friends for lunch at my favorite restaurant. They start you off with some bread, butter, and olives. I think I wound up eating at least 5 rolls. It's great being able to eat and not worry about the calories. After the rolls came my lunch. I had garlic shrimp with rice, homemade fries, and veggies. I at like this was my last meal. Then to finish off I had some creme brulee. It was a great meal. The rest of day I just drank gatorade and ate bread.


Saturday night, I took some time to prepare. Once I got to the race and during the race I realized that the time I took to prepare was essential to my success. So, here is a list of what I did to prepare for the race.

  • Studied the running course: baggage area, start line, water stops, porta potties, medical tents, etc.
  • Studied the train routes and schedules
  • I picked out my clothes and laid them out, including socks and underwear (TMI??)
  • Spi belt prep: ID, debit card, phone, 3 chocolate GU's. I packed everything in a small plastic bag (Sandwich bag) and then put it in my spi belt. I didn't have a waterproof belt, so I placed everything in the bag to ensure it did not get wet.
  • Backpack: I packed clothes to change into after (sweat pants and shirt, under garments, socks, and shoes), a towel, my bib and timing chip, safety pins, 2 garbage bags (one for my bag, one for me), and a book to read during my commute. Once I had all of the items laid out, I placed them in a plastic bag and then put them into the backpack. That was my guarantee that my clothes would not get wet from the rain.
  • Determined transportation. Driving was not an option for me because I HATE DRIVING IN NYC, so mass transit was the way to go. I definitely didn't expect Fil to leave the house with the girls at 5am in the rain, so I had 2 options. Park at the PATH or take a taxi. I went with calling a taxi, so I got the taxi's number and saved it on my phone.

On Sunday, I woke up at 4:55am. Since I had laid out all I needed, I called the taxi first and waited for them as I got ready. Once I got dressed, brushed my teeth, fixed my hair, and grabbed my bag I was ready. I gave the hubby and the girls a kiss and out the door I went. Since a Dunkin Donuts is right next to the station, I asked they drop me there. Coffee and a bagel is a pre race ritual. Once I had my fuel I headed to the station. Remember I mentioned that I studied the train schedules, so at no point did I have to wait more than 5 minutes for a train.

I had a hard time eating my bagel and drinking the coffee. It was so early in the morning that I didn't have an appetite, but I knew it was crucial to ensure success, so I forced myself to eat. Once I arrived at central park I walked my way to baggage which was close to the finish. When I got to baggage I stripped down to my running clothes and took out the garbage bags. One bag I kept with me and the other I used to wrap my backpack in (it was pouring rain). I was so happy because when I looked around I seemed to have been the only person who thought about leaving my bag in the rain: I was prepared.

Off I went to the start line with an hour left. It was pouring rain and cold. Everyone was walking around trying to figure out what to do for a whole hour in the rain. Near my start area I could see Tavern on the Green and there was a canopy. I could see a few runners just waiting under there and I decided to join them. I waited there until the start and shortly before the start "Charlotte" from Sex in the City was standing right in front of me. I believe they were going to do a photo shoot under the canopy, but must have felt bad kicking us runners out.

15 minutes before the race start I took my first GU and 10 minutes before started heading to the starting line. I put my phone away, met a few fellow runners around me, and cheered as the speakers came on. About 3-4 minutes after the start I felt great. It was hard to forget about the rain, but I definitely wasn't cold anymore. I was running faster than I had anticipated and didn't feel like I was pushing too hard at all. Central Park was full of hills and all I could think was "this is great training for the marathon". I passed loads of people and kept my pace between 9:45 and 10:15 for most of the race. There was one hill that we hit twice that was a killer, but once you hit the top it was exhilarating.

The last 3 miles were a little tough. I was running fast than anticipated so I think it started catching up to me. The last 2 miles we started seeing more folks cheering and it was a definite motivator. Once I reached the last mile, I walked for about 30 seconds and then ran with all I had left to the finish. The spectators were cheering us along and just knowing that the finish was so close really had my adrenaline going. Crossing the finish line was a great feeling...a feeling of accomplishment. I DID IT. I ran a half marathon in 2 hours and 10 minutes. Amazing. I wanted to cry, but had no one's shoulder, so I just whipped out my phone and called my hubby and shared it with him. With my medal around my neck and a bagel in my hand I headed to my dry backpack and headed to a bathroom to change. Talk about nasty, but I wasn't about to get on a train in wet clothes and shoes.

I changed into my dry clothes and kept my medal around my neck...I figured I was allowed to wear it all day. I commuted home and people kept on staring to figure out why this crazy girl with a hooded sweatshirt had a medal around her was great! I got home, took a shower, and ate like a queen.

Now I can say I am ready for my marathon. I'm ready for it all. 26.2 miles is definitely a great challenge, but one that I am excited and proud to say I am taking on. I'm sure that what I felt this past Sunday at the finish line is nothing compared to what I will feel crossing the marathon finish line...and the best part is that my family will be there with me.

Yes, this entry is a novel and I'm not going to apologize for it because I wanted to share the full details of my experience in running a half marathon. It's something that you may have never experienced, but I'm telling you that the hard work is definitely worth it. If you are thinking about it...STOP thinking and JUST DO IT.


April 17, 2010

Half Marathon, here I come

Today I ran in a 5K (3.2 miles) race with Ralph and 2 members of a local running team.  The course was very hilly, which I was not expecting and I didn't make it in the time I wanted, but at least it was good practice for the Pocono marathon.  After the 5K, we took a few minutes break and then headed back out for a 7 mile cool down - lol.  Yes, I did said 7 miles. 

The 5K was tough, but that was because my watch decided to take forever to get signal and I didn't know what pace I was running at, so aside from the race starting on an uphill, I also started too fast and wound up being winded for most of the race.  But I did finish in 30 minutes so that made me happy.

All though the pace was a challenge because I ran the 10 miles at my race pace, it was pretty comfortable.  Running with other people was definitely a plus.  It was a great distraction and made the time go by fast.  I was able to hold a conversation, which is a good sign.  Towards the end, I was starting to feel some stiffness in my knees and my ankles, but nothing I couldn't push through. 

Today was an accomplishment.  Not because I ran 10 miles because I've done that before, but because I ran 7 of them without stopping once.

Next week I'll be running the More/Fitness Half Marathon in NY.  It's a women's only race and should be loads of fun.  I can't wait for that one.  Before you know it, May 16 will be here and I will be running my first marathon...amazing.

It's not impossible.  It'sjust a matter of getting up and going.  Once you do, you'll be glad you did.

Have a great weekend.

April 12, 2010

To a lifetime of a healther, happier, skinnier you!

Many people I know at the first attempt to lose weight decide they are going to stop eating or they go on some crazy diet. A crazy diet consists of rules on what NOT to eat or what to eat a lot of (ie. atkins diet, fat free diet, eggs only diet). I at times have attempted these types of diets from not eating, to trying a few weight loss pills, to eliminating carbs, and eliminating protein. The end result was always the same: FAILURE. I may have lost a few pounds in a week or two, but surely, the weight found it's way back to me.

It is very rare that individuals who achieve rapid weight loss will be able to maintain it. Why? The reason why is because individuals who achieve rapid weight loss did so by depriving themselves of something, whether it be protein, carbs, or dessert. I mean, who wants to live their lives without some good juicy steak, or some spaghetti to go with the chicken parm, or the occasional cheesecake on the weekend (ice cream in the summer). I don't think anyone. We all have our guilty pleasure and we should all be allowed. No matter what our weight is. I think the problem we all have is that we wind up indulging and instead of having a cup of ice cream, we have 2. So, what we need to do is learn not to indulge....have self control.

Living a healthy lifestyle requires a lot of self control. Sometimes, it requires you to just take a whiff of that philly cheese steak and dream of eating it. It means eating a healthy meal at home before going to a party where you will be tempted with all the great food and dessert. It's not to say you will never eat a philly cheese steak or eat all the party food and dessert, it just means you have the power to choose when you will and will not.

I eat cheeseburgers, pizza, ice cream, cheesecake, chicken parm, donuts...but I also eat salads, veggies, fruits, yogurts. Having a balanced diet means eating healthy and every once in a while eating those "not so great for you" foods. The key is the portions. If you eat 1/2 a cup of frozen yogurt every day, you are less likely to over indulge on sweets on a weekend or while you are out.

So here are a few tips on living a healthy lifestyle and how to successfully lose weight and KEEP it off.

1. Eat! Don't skip meals, especially breakfast. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. It sets the stage for your eating habits for the remainder of the day. If you don't eat breakfast, you are more likely to make poor and unhealthy meal choices for lunch and dinner. When deciding on what to eat for breakfast, think healthy. Your choices should consist of eggs, low-non/fat yogurt, whole grains or fruit. All these choices are high in protein and fiber which will have you feeling full until lunch and promote healthier eating for the rest of the day.
*There are also scientific reasons for not skipping meals, but I won't get into that in this entry.

2. Intake Protein, Carbs, and fat. You aren't doing any favors to your body by eliminating any of these 3 things. Our bodies need and crave all three. Ensuring that you consume enough protein, carbs, and fat on a daily basis prevents your body from a deficiency, which in turn can cause your body harm and lower your immune system.

3. Exercise and diet are effective. Just exercising is good and just dieting is good, but doing both at the same time is great. A healthier lifestyle is about balance. Incorporating a healthy diet and exercise into your plan is an effective way to lose weight and keep it off.

4. If you work out 4 days a week and missed 1 day for whatever reason, it's OK. Don't give up. Don't get frustrated or get mad at yourself. You did not fail. You simply have a life and some times life happens. You don't even have to make up that work out. Simply pick up where you left off. (If you have kids, this is key)

Living a healthy lifestyle shouldn't be burdensome. It should just be a way of life. In the beginning, yes, it may be tough. Eventually, however, it will be just the way you are. Going out to the gym or going out for a run isn't such a chore, it's just something you do. Filling your plate with fruits instead of a big piece of cheesecake won't kill's just the way you eat. You prefer to save those calories for the weekend or a special event.

This is the way that I now live. It's who I am. It's not a chore, it's not something I complain about. It's just me and how I choose to live. I'm skinnier for it, but most importantly, I'm healthier and happier for it.

So, here's to a healthier, happier, and skinnier you. Cheers (bottle of Poland Spring in my hand)!


April 7, 2010

Running = Weight Gain?

It has been a while since I've posted and let's thank our busy lives for that. Since I last wrote a lot of things have happened and a few things I wanted to write about, but didn't have the opportunity.

As I've already mentioned I began working about a bit over a year ago, and it will soon be a year since I officially took on running. Losing weight has been a struggle even after increasing my physical activity, but I never gave up. Running has definitely changed my life. I live a healthier lifestyle, I have my own hobby outside my work/family obligations, I have thinking time, I have something to be proud of, and something to make my family proud of. At some point losing weight stopped being my main focus, and having fun was now the priority. Having fun??? Never thought I would say running is having fun, but it is to me...well now anyway.

New Jersey had a rough winter, and I had given up on running outdoors for about 1 month until the new gym opened. Once the gym opened, I started running again. One thing I realized is that running on a treadmill just isn't as fun and at one point thought it was easier, but now find it tougher. Road running is just so much more fun. There is so much to see, even if you run the same route a few times. Whenever I know I'll be running somewhere knew I get really excited.

I left on vacation to Brazil 3 weeks ago and was so excited about running there. The day after I arrived, I put on my Nike Free's and hit the beach (1 block away from my in-laws). It was just the most beautiful run. I have never run such a beautiful path before. It's kind of ironic to say, but it was so relaxing. Running = Relaxing? It does to me. hahaha I ran during sun rise (a beauty of it's own), I ran mid day, and I ran at night. All beautiful and relaxing in it's own way. I'm such a sucker for the beach. The sound of the ocean is just so relaxing...wish I was there right now. aaaaaaaa

Anyway...Don't worry, I'm getting to the point - Running = Weight Gain?

One of the reasons I wasn't discouraged during my first year in running with weight loss was because I did see a difference in my waist and hips (and that's what matters right?). Well, from January to date, my weight loss has really kicked off and I think I know why. So in simple terms, here are my reasons for my sluggish weight loss and what to avoid during your weight loss journey.

1. During my 2 back to back pregnancies, I literally became a fat a$$. I lost most of my muscle mass and became a big pile of fat (I know, I know - total exaggeration, but that's how I felt)

2. Aside from the fat I was losing, the fat I still had was turning into muscle.

3. In non-scientific terms, fat is giggly (like jell-o) and muscle is not (it's like boiled chicken breast lol) - there is more mass to muscle and that mass weighs more.

4. I wasn't eating enough. WHAT DO YOU MEAN? Yes, that's right. I wasn't eating enough when it mattered. It is true that weight loss is simple math, calories in - calories out, but we all have something called metabolism and you must learn how it works. If you work out in the morning, you must have a larger breakfast. You must NEVER become hungry. If you feel hungry and famished, when you do eat, your metabolism will be slow. Don't cut fat out of your diet. You need fat...there is good fat and bad fat. You must learn about the food you eat. Also, ORGANIC IS BETTER. I've tried it, I've compared it and it definitely is better. It tastes better and it's better for your body. Living in America, we will always intake some sort of processed food, but as much as you can eat ORGANIC.

5. I wasn't working out my muscles enough. When you are running you are working out all your muscles, but it is really geared towards cardiovascular health. I wasn't lifting weights or doing any type of resistance training. I started doing Pilates and a few weeks later started taking classes with weights at thegym and that's when my weight started flying off. In one year I had lost 10 pounds and just in the month after I started weight and resistance training I lost another 5 pounds. How awesome is that?!?!

So, does running make you gain weight? Yes and no. If you experience weight gain when you start a running program, it could be one of 2 things. Either your fat is turning into muscle which weighs more or you are taking in too many calories. It's that simple.

Always remember to not only weigh yourself, but to take your body measurements (waist, hips, thighs, arms, etc). That is your true measurement of success.

It may take a while, but the weight will come off. I am of the school of that that it's better to be a few pounds heavier than you would like and live a healthier lifestyle. There are plenty of unhealthy skinny people. I'd rather be a full healthy woman.

Until next time.


February 23, 2010

Hating New Jersey Weather

It's been about 3 weeks since I have run. This year's Jersey winter is just brutal and I just couldn't take it anymore. So, this is going to be a short entry.

Although I haven't been running I've continued to read about running and eating healthy. I have been doing good and even think I lost 1 pound or 2 even without the running.

Thursday my new gym open. It's a Signature LA Fitness near my job and I joined early. It looks like it's going to be a great facility and I am super excited about it opening. So needless to say, Thursday I resume running, but have to settle for treadmill running.

I have also ordered a pair of Nike Free 5.0 which is suppose to simulate barefoot running. Once I receive them, I will provide you witha review.

That's it for now...

January 26, 2010

A Run Around the Block

So today I went for a run around Kearny (and half of Harrison). While I was out on my 7 mile run I started to think about where I was a year ago.

January 2009 I was back at work from maternity leave and weighed 168 pounds. I was still breastfeeding and completely inactive. At that point running 1 mile was practically impossible, but here I am…a year later and able to run 7 miles like it’s nobody’s business. That’s why today I dedicate this blog to all those who are frustrated with their weight, unhealthy life style, and inactivity. You will never start off by running 1 mile…and believe it or not, not even ½ mile.

I encourage you to start by taking a run around the block. Work on that for a few days. Then run around 2 blocks and work on that. Eventually, you will find that you can run 1 mile, then 2, then 3.

Building your endurance is like anything in life…it takes time and it takes practice. If running a marathon seems like a nearly impossible task, that’s good and it should. That’s what makes running a marathon so rewarding. Instead of putting that overwhelming feeling in front of getting out there and doing it, forget about the marathon – for now. Find a 5K (3.1 miles) race. You may decide to stick with that distance or you want to challenge yourself further. You can then move to a 10K, then a 15K, and maybe even a ½ marathon. Then who knows, maybe at some point running a marathon won’t seem so impossible and you will decide to run a 26.2 mile race.

But before you are overwhelmed again with the idea of running a marathon, I want to remind you of the first step – a run around the block. I’m sure that running around the block seems much more doable. It may even seem like too little. It’s not a literal statement, it’s a starting point and everyone’s starting point is different. Always start small and build from there. One day you will look back and be amazed how starting with a run around the block has helped you achieve things you never thought you would be able to do.

Until the next time…

January 15, 2010

Running for Moms

Today, during lunch, I had to step out and all I have to stay is "Wow, beautiful running weather." We have had 20 degree weather for so long that 40 degree weather felt amazing.

For Christmas, my mom bought me and the girls a jogging stroller. After I realized how beautiful it was outside, I was so excited about going for a run with the girls in the new stroller. I decided to go for a run with them after work and also tomorrow morning. Tomorrow I am planning to run at a park, but I thought it would be a great experience to run with the stroller today in our local streets.

I wanted to make sure I didn't head out too late to avoid running once it got too dark out, so as soon as I logged off of work, I dressed the girls and myself and we headed out the door. My dad came along for the run as well. My dad was worried the stroller would be too wide for the sidewalks, but considering I have seen many people walking with double jogging strollers before, I wasn't too concerned. I figured it would be a learning experience for the future. If we couldn't run, then that would be fine.

Wow, what a difference running (even walking) with a jogging stroller was. Such a smooth ride. We first hit the park just a couple blocks from my house to make sure the stroller was ok and then we hit the streets and went to another local park with a 1/2 mile path. At first I didn't really feel much of a difference running with the stroller. I thought that was odd considering I was now pushing 60+ pounds more than usual, but once we ran about 1 mile and were going slightly up a hill I started to feel the burn on my thighs and glutes. Man, oh man, now that was a burn.

Overall it was a good experience and am excited about running my six miles with them tomorroow in a park with a trail. If I can get use to running with the girls in the stroller, I'm assuming that when I don't run with the stroller I will run faster (which is great).

So with this blog I leave a message to all mothers out there. Having a child/children is very time consuming and a very selfless job, BUT it is very important to take time for yourself. Running for me has many benefits...the main is that it's exercise and keeps me healthy and promotes weight loss. The second is that it's "me" time and what mother can't use some of that??? Maybe you don't have the time or the money to join a gym, but running/walking doesn't cost anything. Take the time at least a couple times a week to go for a run or walk and if you have to, take the kids. Buy a jogging stroller (new or used) or use the one you have and enjoy the outdoors. It's possible!! and trust me, you will enjoy every minute of it.

Being a healthy mom makes you a better mom.

As Alicia Keys wonderfully put it, YOU ARE A SUPERWOMAN!!!

January 14, 2010

Challenging all headphone wearing runners

When I started running last June, one of the essential items I would take out with me on a run was an mp3 player. Not only did the music provide a distraction and entertainment during my run, but running to the beat would help me run. In late July I ran my first 5K race and running to the beat of the music was what got me to the finish line without stopping to walk once.

The more I ran, the more I loved it, and the more I researched EVERYTHING about the sport. One day while researching, I realized that in some races wearing headphones (listening to music) was highly discouraged, and in some cases, even banned. BANNED, what do you mean banned? Well, if you wear headphones during the race, your race time does not count. I suddenly thought, "how can I possibly run without music?". That prompted me to start questioning myself. Why couldn't I run without music? Look at all the people that run without listening to music, why am I so dependent on music. The reason why is because it was my crutch. It was an aid I was using to keep me going.

Considering that one day I might have to run a race without headphones, I decided to try running without them. I headed out my first time and it really did seem much more difficult to finish my run. It just felt like I didn't have enough energy, but now I realize it wasn't that I didn't have enough energy, it was "mp3 withdrawal". The next time I went out for a run, I took my little cute pink mp3 player with me and although I had charged it for hours, the battery was low and within a few minutes died. After that day I was never able to revive my mp3 player. After a few days without it, I realized that I no longer depended on it to be successful at running...I mastered running without music - even my long runs.

It is a little odd for me to think that I run at times for over 1.5 hours and there is nothing to distract me and entertain me while I run. You might think "It is boring to run without listening to something." Well, I am here to tell you that it is far from boring. My mp3 player refusing to charge was the best thing that happened because now while I run, I can enjoy every moment of it. There is so much to see & hear while you run.

If you are currently a headphone wearing runner, you are probably not someone who runs with a group...for the most part, you run alone (like me). I challenge you to go for a run without your music or audio book. At first, you will go through withdrawal - it will seem much harder to run, but once you are free from the headphones, you will realize that your run is much more enjoyable than before.

When you run with music or an audio book, your focus is on what you are listening to and not to your body and surroundings. Running without the crutch, makes you much more attentive to the nature around you, even if you run in a city. You hear the leaves dancing around on the floor from the wind, the car motors humming as they pass your side, the laughter of children playing in the street, the sound of wind chimes, the still of a side street with little to no traffic - all these sounds and sites bring warmth, even on a cold day. They are sounds of music being created by life and can bring such peace.

There is one more great thing about running without music - to spend time with your thoughts. How often do you really take the time to just think? Think about life - the good, the bad, the indifferent. Think about your plans and how you are going to get there. Think about the goals that you have set and your progress. Really, no one runs alone because your thoughts are always with you, but many times we shut them out. These past few months I have spent many moments with just me, my thoughts, and my surroundings and I can honestly say that I have never had so much perspective on my life. I have been able to come up with ways to overcome hurdles, make plans, and just simply think things through. I must even confess that at times I talk to myself, but in the end I can say that I am a much more balanced person for it.

So how about it??? Put on your running gear, leave your mp3 player at home, and enjoy time with your thoughts and life's music. It will take some adjusting, but I promise that eventually you will treasure every moment that run brings you. Are you up for the challenge?

January 13, 2010

Running in Freezing Temps

Hello and Welcome to my first blog entry about my training experience for my first marathon. I will be running the NJ Marathon on May 2, 2010.

My name is Andi. I am 28, married, with 2 toddler daughters. Although I was very active when I was younger I have never been a runner. Running was always just a means to an end, a way to train for whatever sport I was participating in (usually soccer). After having my second daughter, I needed to lose weight and change my eating habits. I started going to the gym and eating right, but was struggling with losing weight. I knew this was normal and wanted to come up with a long term goal that would keep me focused...and hence the goal of running a marathon.

I started running June of 2009 and set out a goal to run a marathon in the fall of 2010. I set small goals for myself and registered for 5ks, 10k, and eventually ran a 15k at the end of November. Since I had been doing so well training and sticking to the plan, I decided to run the marathon in the spring. The NJ Marathon is the perfect fit because it's a beautiful course along the beach (which I love) and it's in my home state.

I officially started training for the marathon in the beginning of the year and am into a week and a half of training. It has been quite an experience considering we (NE) haven't had below freezing temperatures for such an extended period in decades. But that hasn't stopped me from training. I have learned the do's and don'ts of running in cold weather, both through research and through personal experience. In some ways, it's easier to run in freezing temperatures then in hot and humid weather. At least in the cold, you can bundle up and achieve a comfortable state. Running in the heat, especially when it's humid, can many times be unbearable.

So to initiate my first entry on my blog, I have decided to provide you with the gear I use to run in freezing temperatures. Through trial and error I have finally figured out the best gear to wear to reach a comfortable state of running - no matter what the temperature or distance. Before I list my items, I just want to make you aware that I am a bargain shopper and the links provided below may not be to the exact gear I wear, but very similar. TIP: You can find high quality running gear at affordable prices at Marshall's or TJ Max. Hope this helps you run in the cold.

So here goes.

Half Face Mask:



Wicking Baselayer Shirt:

Running Jacket:

All-weather or fleece gloves

Reflective Belt (for running when it's dark)

Tights (any kind)

Fleece or Sweat Pants (no link provided)

Crew Socks (no link provided)

Sneakers (no link provided)