My 5 Favorite Races: 2012

2012 was a year of a lot of amazing races. I was able to shrink my list down to my 5 favorite races that I ran this year. Here they are, from early in the year all the way up to now!

The Gasparilla Michelob Ultra Challenge was an absolute blast. It was the first time that did more than one race in a day, let alone four in one weekend! I ran 31ish miles over the course of 2 days, and really had fun doing it. I was training for a marathon at the time, and just incorporated the race weekend into my training.

The Harvey’s 5k was a nice small race over in St. Pete. It was really nothing crazy out of the ordinary, except for one thing – I won the race! It holds a place in my heart as the first (and only) race that I have ever won!

The Top Gun Triathlon is my favorite triathlon that I completed in 2012. Not to mention, it is the only triathlon that i completed in 2012. :P I had the support of the rest of my XP MultiSport teammates at the race, and it really was so much fun! I can’t wait to race in a few more triathlons in 2013!

The Chicago Marathon is by far, my favorite race of 2012. After completing 7 marathons, I feel like I have finally figured out how to race them (for me at least!). I was without a Garmin and just ran by the way my body felt. I pushed myself hard, and listened very carefully to what my body was telling me. A part of me is still on a high from this race. I didn’t feel a need to register for a race immediately after the marathon, as I knew the accomplishment I felt of reaching a PR was incredibly rewarding!

The Turkey Trot is a race I run every single year, but this year was different. My twin sister completed it too! It was her very first 10k, and I was able to make her a training plan and coach her for a few months toward her completion goal! The race was tons of fun, and of course, I can’t wait to race again next year!

Did you have any favorite races that you ran this year? What were they, and what made them your favorite?

The Holiday Hustle

Happy day after Christmas everyone! I hope you had an amazing time with your family! Marcus and I split our holiday between our two families, and had a very relaxing and much-needed dose of family, fun, and tons of food! We did lots of lying around, running, and indulging in holiday treats – the perfect mix really! Now that it is back to the grind (for some of us), I thought a nice equipment free Workout Wednesday post was needed – especially for those of your sticking it out through the blizzard up North. This workout can be done 100% inside.

As always, let me know if you have any questions regarding the exercises!

Do you like equipment free workouts, or do you prefer to use weights and cardio machines? How was your holiday!? Did you receive any fitness related gifts?

Go Dirty Girl

Back in November, I did something that I hadn’t done before – completed a mud run. Lucky for me, the Dirty Girl Mud Run contacted The Tampa Bay Lady Bloggers, so I get another chance to get dirty!!!

Dirty Girl Mud Run is for women of all ages and abilities. After completing the run a couple of months ago, I can definitely vouch for this. You do not have to be a serious runner or in crazy shape to complete these events – really! You just have to be willing to go out and have a great time with your girlfriends – and get dirty of course!

There are over 40 Dirty Girl Mud Runs all across the country! They sure have their work cut out for them! Bringing mud to that many cities seems intense! Dirty Girl follows suit by keeping the run completely fun – there are no timing chips or even a clock! You cross the start and finish line simply to complete the course at whatever pace you feel like. I can’t wait to do this run with my most favorite ladies again! I hadn’t laughed so much in a long time when we completed our last mud run. I think this time we are going to have to dress up though. Last time, we were totally bummed that we hadn’t planned ahead better. We have plenty of time to think about our costumes, as the run isn’t until February 9th here in Tampa.

Not in the Tampa area? Be sure to check out Jacksonville or Miami, or one of their other locations across the country! If you are looking to sign up, use the code FLBLOGGUEST to get 20% off your entry. AND, if you sign up before January 9th, you get $10 off as well! Now is the time to do it! Anyone who registers for the Miami, Jacksonville or Tampa Dirty Girl Mud Run by 11:59 PM on Dec. 24th will automatically be entered to win a gym membership of her choice valued up to $500. So sign up before Monday ;)

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas with your families and get some time to relax! I plan to unplug for the weekend and really soak up my family time. Hope you can do the same!

Disclosure: I’m a Dirty Girl Ambassador, selected because of my general awesome nature and ability to inspire. In return for spreading the word, my Dirty Girl Mud Run is comp’d, but all opinions are my own.

Melt It Off Circuit Workout

It’s Workout Wednesday! Since it is cold outside most places around the country, (Florida hasn’t received the memo yet) I thought it would be good to share a nice indoor workout for everyone. This is a nice combo of cardio and strength as well. The only thing you really need for this is a treadmill, and space next to it to hop off and get your circuits in. If you don’t feel like doing this inside, feel free to do it outside if you would like – just find a safe spot to stop and get in the strength portions.

This is a great circuit to do during the holidays. It only takes about 30 minutes, but is guaranteed to leave you pretty darn tired! Grab a family member and have them do it with you too! After all, exercise is way more fun in pairs!

***Please Note: For safety reasons, pause your treadmill or stop it completely when doing the strength exercises. Trying to get back on it while it is already moving could lead to you busting big time – yep, that’s the technical term ;)***

Santa’s Twilight 5k and Hot Chocolate

A lot of people with birthdays around the holidays are not super thrilled with having to share it with Christmas fun. I, on the other hand, love it! How many other people get to have a birthday, holiday fun runs, and fun holiday decor all available in the same weekend?!

Friday night, Marcus threw me a hot chocolate party, filled with more sweets than anyone knew what to do with, my closest friends, and so much laughter! I had so much fun, and am so thankful to be able to celebrate with so many amazing people. We made the hot chocolate from scratch – you know it is good when everyone can only drink one cup that it is so rich!

I chose to have a cup of white hot chocolate. I am not much of a chocolate girl (the horror!), so I let the others get as much of the milk chocolate as they wanted! Marcus and I dabbled in a little chocolate dipping – it was so easy and I am definitely going to be doing this again. The salty and the sweetness of the food complimented each other perfectly!

We were sure to have a lot of fun toppings too. Marshmallows, sprinkles, candy canes, whipped cream – you name it, we had it! The little snowmen marshmallows turned out so cute! Thanks Pinterest ;)

We did spice the drinks up a bit a little bit of festive liquor as well. After all, this was my 26th birthday.

Thanks to all of my lovely ladies that showed up! And for the guys too – they just didn’t make the photo ;)

And  I can’t forget about my mom and dad! They came over as well, decked out in their most festive finds. My dad has so many Christmas ties, and I am glad he was able to wear one. We always loved when he wore them when we were little – he just doesn’t get as much use out of them anymore.

After staying up pretty late Friday, I was thrilled that our 5k that we had signed up for was the following night, rather than the following morning. I got up and went to a yoga class, hung around for the day, and then carpooled over with Marcus, Steph, Meghann, and Bill to Honeymoon Island for the Twilight Santa 5k. It was the first year that the race was being held, so it was pretty tiny. We were a little over zealous with our arrival, expecting a larger crowd, and ended up having about an hour to waste before the start. No big deal though – I would much rather have too much time before a race rather than too little! So of course, we took our obligatory photos.

(Meghann’s Photo)

We spent a little bit of time in the car keeping warm, and then headed over to the start. No one really wanted to push the pace, so we all decided to have fun and just run. Since the course was in a state park at night, there were no street lights. It was incredibly dark, and the course was lit by luminaries (with glow sticks inside, not real candles). It was a nice thought, but was a little too dark for my liking. I felt like I was tip toeing a bit, rather than breaking out in full stride. Everyone had glow sticks on though, so that was pretty neat to see! I had never been in a night race that was solely lit by glow sticks.

By the time we all started and got through the large crowds, Marcus and Bill took off. I decided I wanted to run with Marcus, so I jogged ahead to keep up with them. We held a pretty decent pace for the race (maybe around 7:30?). It was fast enough so that it wasn’t and easy run, but we were still able to chat, which I am always a fan of! Bill ended up taking off, so Marcus and I held our ground and just ran. It was super peaceful in the park, and before we knew it, we were creeping up on the finish.

Marcus sprinted it in, and I finished strong. The final time was just under 23 minutes – works for me! Not too long after I finished, Steph and Meghann both came in as well.

We all had smiles on our faces at the finish, and that is the best party of holiday runs! Unfortunately, there was a mix up with the finisher’s medals. They were not there when we crossed the finish line, and we even tried waiting around for them. After 45 minutes, we had enough and left. I was disappointed, because I love the medals! And this was supposed to be a sand dollar themed one. Word on the street is that they will mail them to us, so hopefully that’s true! And another thing they can mail to all of us – our age group awards! We all placed in our respective age groups, and I was even in the top 3 overall finisher’s. Gotta love small races!

(Meghann’s photo)

I had a fantastic holiday themed birthday weekend, and loved spending so much of it with my wonderful friends!

How was your weekend? Do any fun holiday themed races? Or races in general? Ever had homemade hot cocoa (aka, not swiss miss) ;)