Gasparilla 2013 Half Marathon

February 25, 2013

Another Gasparilla Race has come and gone. I love the race that Tampa puts on, and it truly gets better year after year. This race weekend has been a part of my race schedule for as long as I can remember, and I do my very best never to miss it. There are four races that make up race weekend – a 15k and 5k on Saturday, then a half marathon and an 8k on Sunday (last year I ran all 4 races!) This year I chose to run one race to better accent my marathon training plan, and I am so glad I did!

Gasparilla Race

The race started at 6am, and lucky for me, it is right up the street from my house. I made the 10 minute walk down right around 5:30, and was able to get a good spot in the corral with enough time to stretch and get ready to race. The national anthem was sung, and we were off right on time!

Gasparilla Race 2013

The first 5 miles are on Davis Island and always just fly by. It is through quite neighborhoods in the dark, so you really don’t even realize what you are doing. To add to the day, it was super muggy and fog filled the air. It covered the top of the buildings in downtown Tampa too.

downtown Tampa

All you hear is breathing and the pitter patter of feet – a runner’s anthem. I ended up right in the middle of the 7:40 pace pack a was feeling pretty darn good. It was a very cloudy, but humid day – however we had one thing on our side – the sun was staying behind the clouds. Race highs were predicted to be in the 80’s, so I really wasn’t expecting too much out of the race. With the sun in the clouds, I did some quick reevaluation. Could I hop in front of the 7:40 group and hold that pace for the rest of the race for a PR? Well, I was sure going to try.

Once we got onto Bayshore, I just focused on getting to different points on the course that I knew I would have supporters. Marcus, Winnie, and my parents were at miles 6.5 and 11.5, and the lovely Lululemon ladies were at miles 6 and 11. The course is out and back right on the water, so it is very spectator friendly. I really just focused on keeping a steady pace, and then picking it up, little by little. Around mile 8, I just started passing people. It was somewhat risky to pick up my pace with 5 miles left, but I was willing to give it a shot. I really didn’t have anything to lose.

Gasparilla 2013

Mile 10 was the point that I knew my mental game was going to be the deciding factor on whether or not the PR would be mine. Speed work is obviously important in achieving any kind of time goal, but the mental fortitude you build during those sessions is even more key to reaching new heights. I told myself it was only a 5k I had left. I have done more 5k’s that I will ever be able to count, so I went ahead and just treated it as such. With that, I knew it was going to hurt. Picking up the pace at the end of a race is never easy, but it is the best way to have the confidence and reassurance of conquering a new time goal.

Since I still don’t have a Garmin, I took a look at my Timex Ironman watch to catch my 10 mile split – it was right at 7:23. The next mile zoomed by and I saw Marcus and my parents again. I took another look at the watch – 7:21. 2 seconds off the previous split, but I needed more, so I picked it up. Next was the Lululemon crew, and then mile 12 – 7:15. Much better. I had 1 mile left, and was going to give it all that I had. I passed right around 8 people that last mile. I felt unstoppable. I crossed the mat, and knew I had just PR’d. That last mile was 7 minutes flat. Amazing way to end a race!


I grabbed my medal and then started to look for a couple of friends that volunteered at the finish. Chris and Meghann saw me way before I saw them – they knew just about to the minute when I would finish – they know me way too well! Thanks for helping us all with a very important aspect to any race – rehydration!

Gasparilla 2013 As always, there was a ton of water, food, snacks, soda, and plenty of post race goodies. I didn’t grab too much, since more often than not, my stomach doesn’t tolerate a lot of food after racing. It is something that I have learned the hard way, and have come to respect it. No biggie. I walked around, found a few other friends that were spectating, and then made it back to my cheer squad. Marcus is always at my races and is so incredibly supportive, even if he has to wake up at 6am on a weekend. He is even breaking in Winnie to become a superb race supporter!


Not too long after finishing, I was able to look up my time on the results page, since I forgot to stop my watch and the app I was using on my phone. I guess I was just glad to be done ;)

Gasparilla 2013 Race Results

I was very happy with my time – a 58 second PR, dating all the way back to 2009. It had been years since I was able to reach a new goal in the half marathon, and I was glad I was able to do it Gasparilla – my favorite race! Oh, and the best part of Gasparilla – the amazing medals. I just love them!

Gasparilla 2013


Gasparilla 2013

Pretty cool huh?!

Congrats to all of the finisher’s yesterday! Especially Bob & Josh, crossing the line of their first half marathon, Denise at the 8k, Samantha on her first 5k, and Christine gaining a big 9 minute PR in the half marathon!! You all rocked it!

Anyone else race this weekend? How often do you really use your mental game in a race, over the physical game?

Keep It Simple

February 22, 2013

For those of you that are planners (like me!), I have a question for you. When you go out and run, do you have a certain course in mind? Do you lace up your shoes, and know exactly how far you are going to go, how you are going to get there, and what music you are going to listen to?

If you do all of these things, I have a challenge for you. For your next easy run, go out with the intention of exploring. Run a new route, and see where it takes you (with safety in mind, of course!). Leave the Garmin at home. Keep your iPod on the counter. Just get out and run.

One of the big draws about running is that you only need one thing to actually carry out the sport – a pair of shoes. You don’t actually have to have anything else to find the benefits of pounding the pavement. In recent years, when they running boom has really started to take off, there has been so much more added to running than just the shoes that we wear. We have top market GPS watches, iPods, iPhones, compression socks, arm sleeves, sweat wicking fabric, and so many more great additions to the running world.

Don’t get me wrong – I love the bells and whistles that have taken off. There is obviously a massive market for it, with so many new companies becoming extremely successful in a short period of time. However, there is something very freeing and uplifting when I go out and go for a run that I don’t know what the ending mileage is going to be. Or I don’t have my watch let me know how fast (or slow!) I am going.

We have so many distractions in our world to keep us on track. Most of our lives are pretty scheduled out. Your running doesn’t always have to be one of them.

I have a challenge for you in the next week….

Keep it Simple



No pre-determined route. No GPS. No Music. For one run.

Just you, your running shoes, and the road.

Do you ever run with no distractions? What do you think about it? Will you take me up on my challenge?

6 Tips for Running With Your Dog

February 20, 2013
Winnie Gentle Lead

I obviously love running – no surprise there. A little over a year ago when Marcus and I were trying to decide on the type of dog that we wanted to add to our family, I really only had 2 requests:

  • She had to be a big dog
  • She had to be a runner

Those two requirements were really the only ones that were on the table. Luckily, a friend of a friend mentioned there were puppies being given away, and we jumped at the chance when we found out they were golden retrievers mixes – aka, great running (and family) dogs.

Puppy Winnie

A question I have had plenty of people ask me was whether or not she runs with me. Of course I wanted her to right away, but I would have to wait a bit. Now that she is a bit older, she runs with me all of the time. Here are 6 Tips for running with your dog – once they are ready.

Find The Right Leash

My dog, Winnie, is a puller on the leash. We have tried so many different approaches, and found our perfect solution. The gentle leader is the only one that will work for us, and let me tell you – it works wonders. I used to get back from walks and have an aching arm and hand, just from attempting to control her. The gentle leader is completely different. She isn’t able to pull from the strongest part of her body (her chest), and can be very easily corrected, by just the flick of the wrist. I know it sounds dramatic, but this leash has changed my life when it comes to her. I wouldn’t be able to run with her, let alone comfortably walk, without the leash. Seriously. Find the leash that is right for you and your dog. It may take a bit of trial and error, but you will find it!

Winnie Gentle Lead

Wait Until They Are Ready

Far too many times, I see people running with puppies when they are way too young. Of course, puppies want to run and have fun. That is perfectly ok. But on organized, on leash run when they are still only a few months old – not a good idea. Veterinarians recommend waiting at least 8-12 months before running dogs long distances. The reason for this? Their growth plates have not finished fusing yet, and you could put the animal at serious risk for problems down the road. Take them to the park to play and socialize them with other dogs. That is the only running they need to be doing until they are a bit older.

Winnie tennis ball

I started running with Winnie when she was right at a year old. She comes in around 80 lbs, so I wasn’t concerned about waiting too long to run her. Large breeds are recommended to wait until around 16 months, but by vet standards, Winnie isn’t a large dog. 80 lbs seems large to me, but they are referring more so to the 120ish lb animals.

Ease Them Into It

Just like humans, dogs can’t be expected to just get out and run mile after mile without easing into it. When you first start running with your dog, take them for a half mile or so, and see how they do. It may take them that long just to get used to being on a leash and running at the same time. Try not to forget, just like people, some dogs just aren’t natural runners. Check out this list from Runner’s World on dogs that make good running buddies.

Winnie reflection

Watch the Temperatures

Dogs can not regulate their body temperatures as well as people can, so be careful taking them out in too hot of weather, especially mid day. They soak up an extreme amount of heat through their paws, which is obviously a huge issue if the sun has been baking the pavement all day. The same goes for cold weather too, especially places that ice accumulates on the side-walk. Salt is very bad when it comes in contact with dog’s paws. Be sure to wash them off every time you come back from outside. Read more on that here.

Winnie paws

Be Patient

The first time that I ever ran with Winnie, it was quite the site, I’m sure. She was a jumping bean, and didn’t understand that her leash wasn’t for a speedy game of tug-o-war. I was very patient with her, and corrected her each time she decided that she was going to dictate the run. She got used to it pretty quickly – she was easy to run with after about a week of consistent training.

Winnie big stick

Look out where you are going

Along with being patient, it is very important to look where you are going when running with your dog. Since they are not used to necessarily running in a straight line, a small veer of course could mean tripping you and causing:

1. embarrassment

2. a possible injury

I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want either of those things (especially not the injury!) Just stick to one side of your body or the other, and don’t let them switch sides. I both walk and run with Winnie on my right side. Now, she won’t even attempt to go over to the left side. Consistency is definitely key!

Do you run with your dog? What tips can you share with the rest of us to make the most out of running with your furry friend?



34 Ways To Get In 30 Minutes

February 18, 2013

According to the American Heart Association, adults should get 150 minutes of exercise per week – aka, 30 minutes of exercise, 5 times per week. This seems easy to many people, but very difficult to others. Here are few ideas to help you get those 30 minutes!

1. Jump on a trampoline with your kids

2. Go for a hike

3. Complete a Wobbly Leg Workout

4. Play a game of ultimate frisbee

5. Walk your dog for 2 miles

Winnie at the Beach

6. Take a salsa dancing class

7. Go for a 3 mile run

8. Complete the Jello Leg Workout

9. Participate at a free skate at the local ice hockey ring

10. Have a hula hooping contest

11. Go to a barre class at your local studio

12. Pump up the heat

13. Practice Yoga

Lululemon Yoga

14. Do squats, lunges, sit ups, jumping jacks and push ups between chores at home

15. Play beach volleyball on vacation

15. Swim 1,500 meters

16. Play a round of Wii Sports

17. Go down-hill skiing

18. Rock Your Bottom

19. Walk during your lunch break

20. Dance at your best friends wedding

Meghann Wedding

(photo from Meghann)

21. Go for a bike ride to get coffee 15 minutes away – ride back

22. Do a few Yasso 800’s

23. Learn to rock climb

24. Go kayaking with a group of friends

25. Melt It Off

26. Buy a pair of snow shoes (and use them!)

27. Meet some friends and go bowling

28. Take a paddle boarding lesson

Group Shot SUP

29. Play hide and go seek with your kids (or friends)

30. Go for a Body Pump Class

31. Do a shoulder shredder workout

32. Start (and finish) a new gardening project

33. Practice Pilates

34. Walk up and down the stairs as you talk on the phone

What other ways can you get in 30 minutes of exercise. Please share!












Amanda’s Spring Booty Buster Challenge!

February 15, 2013

I hope you all had a fun Valentine’s Day! Last night, we went to power yoga followed by pizza, beer, and caught up on a little Modern Family. We have been doing that for years now, and wouldn’t have it any other way!

Valentine's Day

Before we all get ready for the weekend, I want to make sure I mention something to all of you! My friend Amanda, over at Run To The Finish, hosts a Holiday Booty Buster Challenge every year. This year was such a success, that she is implementing a Spring Booty Buster Challenge!

Here is a quick overview of the program:

Amanda's Spring Booty Buster Challenge

If you become a part of the program, you will become a part of a network of other participants that are working towards similar goals. There is a huge support system with the Spring Booty Buster Challenge that is extremely beneficial! You don’t need to live in a particular area to participate either – everyone is welcome!

Amanda has also enrolled a panel of experts for the program, and asked me to be a part of it! I will be answering questions that participants have in regard to running! I am thrilled to be a part of it! The fun starts on March 4th, so be sure to register soon.

Head over to her site to check out the full details. There is soooo much more to it – points, prizes, supports, and a lot of amazing goals!

Did you do anything special for Valentine’s Day? Have you ever participated in a Virtual Challenge?