Monthly Archives: May 2012

Happy Memorial Day!

Today is a day of freedom; a day to celebrate all of the service men and women who sacrifice so much for each and every one of us, even if we’re complete strangers to them. While it’s great to enjoy a day off of work and relax with friends, make sure you take the time to remember the true meaning behind today. I know so many men and women who have served in the military at one point in their lives, and I could not be more grateful for them. Today, I’m especially thankful for Joey, my best friend’s husband:

And Nathan, one of my dearest family friends.

(Photo courtesy of Facebook)

Love you guys! And just like you would expect, you know where to find me:

Time to hit the beach! Have a great day, everyone!

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Fig & Olive

I love the fact that it’s Sunday and there’s still one more day to relax and soak up the sunshine. Aren’t holiday vacations a beautiful thing?

While I have some fun stuff to let you guys in on soon, I had to let y’all know about a new-to-me restaurant I dined at this weekend with my foodie partner-in-crime, Libby.

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Fig & Olive. Word to the wise: if you’re in NYC and have a bit of money to spare (or you’re just willing to spend a bit more), pay a visit to this restaurant. I’ve been craving figs for a while now, but didn’t have the ambition to cook anything for brunch on Saturday. So Libby and I pulled ourselves together and made our way to the Lexington Avenue location (they have five venues) to give it a whirl.  Best. Decision. Ever.

We walked in thinking we would enjoy a mimosa, but immediately changed our minds when we saw numerous people drinking bubbly with strawberries. After a quick glance at the menu, we ordered the priscine – a blend of white wine and strawberries. I had to keep myself in check so I didn’t suck it all down before my meal arrived.

I glanced at the menu before leaving for the restaurant and decided I wanted to order the fig & walnut pancakes to satisfy my fig craving. Unfortunately, the menus must be different at each location because the brunch menu that was handed to me didn’t have the pancakes as an option! Majorly bummed, I wasn’t sure what else I wanted. Determined to get my fig fix anyway while simultaneously satisfying Libby’s craving for bread, we ordered the bread basket that came with an array of fig jams. Unfortunately, we didn’t specify that we wanted the $3.50 basket and ended up paying for the $9.00 one. Womp womp. So if you do go to Fig & Olive, make sure you specify what you want.

I had a few slices of bread with the fig jam and it was oh-my-god delicious. The jam had just the right twinge of sweetness and hit the spot without sending my sweet tooth into overdrive. And by the time the waiter arrived for a third time, I knew what I wanted as my main entrée: the French toast with strawberry puree and whipped vanilla cream.

This is by far and away the best French toast I have ever eaten in my entire life (sorry, Mom!). It was warm, soft and my fork sliced through the stack with ease. The waiter gave me syrup on the side, but I never used it because it simply wasn’t needed. There was so much moisture and sweetness from the strawberry puree. Oh, I took the whipped vanilla cream off too because it was a bit too heavy for my stomach. I mixed a small forkful of it in for the first few bites, but scraped it off after. My tummy wanted simple yet decadent, and that’s exactly what it got.

Overall, the meal was a bit pricey, but the service was great and the meal was absolutely delicious. I won’t make Fig  & Olive a regular stop by any means, but I’ll definitely keep it in the back of my mind for special occasions when I’m willing to splurge.

Your turn: What’s your favorite brunch food? I’m a sucker for pancakes, but love French toast if it’s made right. This definitely was.

Smoothie Roundup

I’m truckin’ along on my #smoothieaday goal this month, slurping down a hearty serving of fruits and veggies every day. But because I’m blending  up my meal every day, dumping the same thing into the blender can get really boring, really quick. So I’ve been a bit experimental in the kitchen lately and wanted to share my most recent recipes, in case you’re looking to change up your morning (or afternoon, or dinner….) routine. 

The Basics

  • Some type of frozen fruit (if it’s in season, I’ll buy it fresh and then freeze it myself)
  • Spinach
  • Chocolate whey protein powder
  • Almond milk
  • Orange Juice
  • Cocoa powder
  • Natural peanut butter
  • Chia seeds
  • Greek yogurt (I prefer Chobani)

I usually make sure I have all of the above in the house, then mix and match to whatever I’m craving that day. One of my favorites is in the picture above.

Berry Goodness

  • 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 5 large strawberries
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tsp. chia seeds
  • Handful of spinach

I noted above that I use frozen fruit –> I do this so that I don’t need to worry about making sure there’s ice in the freezer. It’s thick enough without it!

Some other tasty treats: 

Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie

  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1/2 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup almond milk 
  • Handful of spinach

Peanut Butter Raspberry

  • 1 cup raspberries 
  • 1 Tbsp. natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp. cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup almond milk 
  • 2 tsp. chia seeds

Peanut Butter Banana

  • 1 1/2 bananas
  • 1 Tbsp. natural peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. cocoa powder
  • Handful of spinach
  • 3/4 cup almond milk

Strawberry Banana 

  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 banana
  • 1 6-oz. container of strawberry banana Chobani
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tsp. chia seeds 
  • Handful of spinach

Super citrus-y flavors don’t treat my stomach well, but you can always swap out my love of berries for pineapple or mango to make a lighter, beach-y smoothie. Other things I’ve learned to enhance my smoothie-making skillz: 

  • If you want a really creamy smoothie, add more banana. 
  • If you don’t like bananas, definitely add in the Greek yogurt. I’ve used crazy flavors, like apple-cinnamon Chobani with the peanut butter smoothies, and can’t taste the apple cinnamon. But it does make it much creamier. 
  • Other fruits, like apples, taste yummy, too. 
  • Don’t be afraid of the spinach. You really can’t taste it, I promise. If it’s on hand, toss it in. 
  • I know a lot of people toss avocado in, too. I haven’t tried this yet, but it’s an option!
  • Use orange juice or milk (I prefer almond) as your liquid base. Orange juice is a bit tangier,but still tasty. 

Your turn to share: What are some of your favorite smoothie creations? I still have 11 days to go! 

Workout Windup: Hittin’ the Weights

That’s right everyone, Workout Windup is back! For those of you who are new to this neck of the blog-o-sphere, workout windup is my way of keeping track and setting myself up for a great week of workouts. It gives that level of accountability, while hopefully encouraging you to set your own weekly goals for some seriously awesome sweat sessions.

Now that racing season is on hiatus for me right now and I don’t have a big race lined up until November (as of now), I really want to focus on strength training. I do it as much as I can when training for races, but admit that I’m not always the best at sticking to a solid schedule. Now that physical therapy is over, I’m on my own with scheduling. Lucky for me, I have some awesome blogger friends who have invited me to a bunch of workouts this week, with some other fun things sprinkled in. Here’s what I plan on tackling:

  • Figure 4 on Sunday at 3:30p.m. with blogger friends; upper body work at home
  • Upper body work on Monday at 12p.m.; CrossFit intro class at 7p.m. with Jocelyn
  • Easy 3-mile run on Tuesday at 6:30a.m. (if my quads don’t hate me); Yoga at 4:30p.m.
  • Rest on Wednesday
  • SoulCycle at 7a.m. or 7p.m. on Thursday (wait listed, so hopefully I get in!); lower body work at home
  • Upper body work on Friday at 12p.m.
  • Five or six-mile run on Saturday
  • Upper body work at home on Sunday

 (At FITNESS Magazine’s Meet & Tweet #fitblognyc)

Oh, and I’m thinking about joining a soccer league again, so I can regain my long-lost soccer skillz. I’d like to be less pathetic if I ever get to hang with Mia Hamm again. ‘Cause we’re best friends now. Totally.

What workouts are you rockin’ out this week? And what fun things did you do over the weekend? 

Feel-Good Friday: Ryan Gosling Edition

You all may think I’m obnoxious, and I’m OK with it. But I just stumbled upon Hey Runner Girl’s website and I am 100 percent in love.

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Ryan Gosling has been my celebrity crush for as long as I can remember. And since he’s busy being adorable with puppies, saving people from death and breaking up fights, I think my little love fest is warranted. Now if only I could get him to ditch Eva (no offense, girl, you’re awesome, too), he would be completely free to bump into me on the streets of Manhattan and immediately fall in love. Right?

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That or I’m just going to start playing in traffic. Because clearly that’s how every love story should start. And how he seems to be running into people these days.

So if you don’t hear from me by the end of next week, someone call my roommate and make sure I’m alive. After this post, I’m not sure Dustin will be speaking to me. Don’t worry babe, I still love you, I swear!

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But Ryan, he can help me apply body glide any time he wants.

Now it’s your turn to embarrass yourself: who do you have a celeb crush on? This is a judgment-free zone, I swear. And it’s Friday, so do what you want!

What Now?

Now that my main race has come and gone, I’ve taken some time to just breathe so that I don’t feel like I have to work out. I hate feeling that kind of pressure, especially when it’s related to something that I love doing so much. I don’t care what the haters say, to me, working out is fun and I thoroughly enjoy every time I make the conscious effort to break a sweat.

Well, unless I’m “forced” to do it because of a training plan and I’m feeling burnt out. But you catch my drift. Otherwise, I remember to look at the bigger picture. Because nine times out of ten, that truly makes every bit of pain and frustration worth it in the end.

But now that I don’t have a specific race to train for, what am I up to? I really like lists, so let me break it down for you.

Upper Body Work. It’s been severely neglected, but no more! I’m busting out some serious upper body moves now and I’m going to rock sundress season. Yes, when I’m not in workout clothes, I occasionally like to don dresses. They make me feel pretty. Or something.

#SmoothieADayinMay. Gina started this challenge and once I read up on it, I immediately hopped on board. I’m smoothie obsessed, the weather’s getting warm (so I actually crave the smoothie) and I need a quick breakfast that will give me a full serving of fruit with some veggies sneaked in. Seriously, if you haven’t put spinach in your smoothie yet, do it. You can’t taste it at all. Such an easy way to pack more nutrients into your meal.

#PlankADay. Let’s just keep the Twitter hashtags going, shall we? This trend is all over the healthy living Twitterverse, which only helps me stay motivated to stick to it. Because unless I’m already working out, I don’t remember to do a plank. But if I see that #plankaday bugger pop up in my news feed and I still haven’t done the sucker, I quickly drop to the ground and hold a plank for as long as I can (Confession: I may or may not have recently done this in my bra and undies because I forgot about it before I took a shower for the night…whatever works!). So far, I’ve timed myself at 1:30. I think I can do longer – that’s what the challenge is for! I’ll also incorporate side planks and other plank variations to keep things interesting.

Spinning. The PT said no running for two weeks (last week and this one), so I’ve been getting my heavy cardio from a lot of spin classes lately. My second love, I seriously missed sweating it out on the bike while training. It feels so good to do a hard workout and not finish in pain, and let’s face it: if you’re going to a good spin class, you’re going to leave drenched in sweat. I love that feeling. And in my opinion, you’re never going to get a mediocre workout when you go to SoulCycle or Flywheel. Y’all know my heart lies with SoulCycle, but I’m not afraid to jump to the other side every once in a while, especially if it’s for a good cause.

That’s coach Abby and I before her charity ride this past weekend. Her and the hubby raised over $2,000 for The Fisher House Foundation! Woohoo, rock stars!

Strength Training. I’m doing a lot of exercises that my PT has (or is in the process of) passed on to me, many involving strength and balance movements for my lower body. The Bosu ball has become my friend, as has the “box.” By that, I mean the thing you use to do box jumps on. That’s one of my favorite moves, despite how much it burns while I’m doing them.

Better Eating.  I’ve been really watching my portion sizes lately. When I eat with Dustin, who houses two to three times what I should be eating, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s normal and what’s not. So I’ve been making a conscious effort to cut down my portions and fill those portions up with a lot of natural, whole foods. Sure, I want to look great in a bikini this summer, but I’m mostly doing it so I’m not so darn moody. When I eat like junk, I feel like junk, and I treat people (mostly Dustin) like junk. That’s not very fun, so we should stop that.

What about you? What things are you planning out to keep you on the “healthy living” track? 

Feel-Good Friday: Food and Friends

Happy Friday! I hope you’re all having a fabulous day and ready for the weekend celebrations. It’s been a rainy week here in NYC, but that hasn’t stopped me from getting my thankful on. Here are just a few things that have been making my feel extra fantastic this week.

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Cooking. That’s right, I’ve been doing it people. I’ve made three legit meals this week, which must be a new record. Dustin and I fell off of the cooking-at-home bandwagon with our crazy travel schedules, but we’re hopping back on now.

Kristin’s recipes have been a lifesaver, giving Dustin the not-healthy taste he wants with the nutrition boost we both need. Buffalo chicken quinoa was created one night and crock pot Santa Fe chicken another. Last night I made a turkey enchilada casserole following this recipe, and it tasted just as good today when it served as my lunch. YUM.

Physical therapy. I’ve been going religiously twice a week and it’s helped dramatically. I barely felt any knee pain during last weekend’s half, and the foot pain is getting better every day. After this week’s appointments, Ken says I should only need to come in for one more week before I can continue on my own. It’ll be a sad day, Ken, I know, but we can still be friends. I just don’t want to keep paying you to be my friend. 🙂

Cake. I wasn’t kidding when I titled this post with the word “food.” It’s FITNESS’ 20th anniversary this month (yay!) and we had a yummy cake in the office to celebrate. NYC friends, if you’re looking to quickly get a cake for a reasonable price, go with Buttercup Bake Shop. Super cute and super delicious.

Bloggers. There are so many of you out there, and I try to read as many as I can. You’ve given me some fantastic ideas for “what’s next,” especially because I’m not going to be hard-core running for a little bit. Stay tuned, folks, I promise you’ll find out soon.

Cinco de Mayo. I love Mexican food. It’s by far my favorite. I’m always in the mood for it. ALWAYS. Put a margarita next to it and I’m a happy girl. I even like to have it after I race half-marathons. But yeah, I’m celebrating this weekend. TBD which Mexican place will be hit up this weekend, so if you have suggestions, throw ’em at me.

Chocolate. I just have to talk about these delicious treats that Abby gave me as a post-race celebration. Holy yum. I don’t remember the name of them, though. Abby, help a girl out? I need to go buy some more.

Spinning. No, I can’t run right now (PT Ken says so), but I can still break a sweat. So my choice of cardio right now is Spinning. I actually just got done spinning, where I got my dance party on at SoulCycle with one of my fave instructors, Danny. And we can’t forget about the charity ride I’m doing tomorrow now, can we? It’s sure to be a sweat-tastic time, so if you’re in the concrete jungle, stop over at 3p.m. I’ll be nice and give you a sweat-filled hug. Pinky promise.

What’s been making you feel good this week?

Celebrating in Nashville

This is the last post about things surrounding the Country Music Half-Marathon weekend, I swear. But I couldn’t just keep blogging without sharing the events that happened post-race…

After a glorious post-race shower and nap at the hotel, my dad, step-mom, Dustin and I headed to Casa Fiesta for lunch. After a big race, I crave one of two things: pizza or Mexican. Pizza won in D.C., but Mexican was the clear choice this go-round. The place was packed the night before the race and as we pulled up, it was fairly busy again. A very, very good sign. Especially once we realized it was busy enough to ease any lingering worries, but not so busy that we had a long wait. After a quick cleanup for an outside table, we were brought out to the porch to relax in the shade. Before I knew it, I was sipping on one of these bad boys:

I limited myself to one of these beauties because of the sugar overload, but I enjoyed every last sip. The group noshed on chips with salsa, cheese and guacamole (Strangely, I was the only one who went for the guac. I need my healthy fats!). After, I enjoyed a taco salad, but left the tortilla bowl on my plate. It’s safe to say I was adequately stuffed and happy as a clam after. I was so happy, in fact, that I took another nap while I waited for some friends to finish their respective meals at a restaurant downtown.

When I awoke, I met Jocelyn, Laura and Emilia at The Second Fiddle for a few drinks before Rock ‘n’ Roll’s traditional post-race concert. The lineup: Gloriana and Rodney Atkins. Based on my country running playlist, you know there was no way I was missin’ out. So after a lot of chit-chat with the locals and other racers, we headed over to Bridgestone Arena for the concert. Lucky for us, we met a couple who had raced before and told us that if we got there early we could nab a wristband and stand right by the stage. Decision: made.

By the way, this was Dustin’s first concert. Ever. He’s such a weirdo and doesn’t listen to music very often. If he does, it’s usually because he’s with me, so obviously that means he’s listening to country. If we’re in the car and the country stations don’t come in, then we’ll switch to Top 40, but otherwise it’s my man Keith Urban and all of his country-lovin’ friends croonin’ in my speakers.

Anyway, the concert started right on time and Gloriana opened up for Rodney. They did a great job, especially for an opener, and played a lot of songs from their new album, reminding me I have some downloading to do. Funny story: Dustin’s best friend, Adam, randomly ran into the band on a plane a few weeks ago, but didn’t know who they were. He thought Rachel Reinert (lead female vocalist) was really cute, so after talking her up a bit, he asked her out to dinner. Unfortunately for him, she’s married and politely declined. Or that’s what she said, at least. We paid attention at the concert and didn’t see a ring on her finger, so maybe she was just letting him down easy. Sorry Ob!

Between acts, the top runners were announced and given their medals. We also found out that Sheryl Crow ran with us, killing the course (her first half) in 1:59.14! Rock star! They also said Taylor Swift ran with us, but I’ll believe that when I see her chip time. Nothing pops up in a Google search either, so she either didn’t finish or was never there. At least I know I didn’t miss her, then!

Then it was show time: Rodney opened with “Farmer’s Daughter,” one of my favorite tunes these days. So catchy. He played every single one of my favorite songs, including “America,” “Going through Hell,” “Watchin’ You,” “He’s Mine,” “Take a Back Road” and “Cleanin’ This Gun.” My dad loves “Cleanin’ This Gun” and says he thinks of Dustin and I whenever he hears it. Such a protective dad 😉

He was really interactive with the audience, which I always appreciate – after all, if we just wanted you to play your songs, we’d only download the album. I go to concerts to see the singer’s personality more, and Rodney’s did not disappoint. He had about 30 or so guitar picks that he used and then tossed randomly throughout the audience, and Dustin nabbed one! It dropped on the floor near us, so he made a quick dive for it and gave it to me. That’s my first legit souvenir from a concert (that I didn’t buy) and as cheesy as it sounds, it’s so cool to me that he used it! But that’s not all I got. No, Dustin really has monkey arms. Right before Rodney sang “Cleanin’ This Gun,” he used a T-shirt gun to blast tees into the audience. He tossed a few down to the front of the stage, where we were standing, and threw one right at Dustin! It’s a little big, but I still think it’s cute.

A new bed-time shirt, at the very least 🙂 Thanks again, babe!

We were pretty tuckered out after and still had a two-hour drive ahead of us to my dad’s house, so we hopped in the car and headed to Chattanooga. The rest of the weekend was very relaxing: friends came over, we grilled burgers, made more margaritas, and listened to country tunes by the bonfire. I couldn’t have asked for a better wrap-up to a fun-filled weekend.

Oh, I got to see my grandparents, too! They drove to my dad’s on Monday before our return flight, so we went to lunch to celebrate my Grandma’s birthday, which is today! Happy Birthday Grandma! I don’t get to see my Tennessee family very often, so any time, no matter how short, is always special.

(Sorry for the bad picture quality)

And that’s all she wrote, y’all!

Now it’s your turn to share: If you could see one person in concert, who would it be and why? I’m still dying to see my main man Keith Urban, but would also love to see Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley, Kenney Chesney and Darius Rucker, to name a few. And if you’ve already seen your favorite artist, tell me who it was and all about how awesome it was!

Running On Country

It’s been a while since I’ve posted any fun playlists, and I couldn’t think of a better reason than now. For anyone who says you can’t run to country, look them right in the eye and tell them they’re crazy. Country tunes give me my running swagger, I like to think, and they can pump you up more than enough to get you to the finish line strong. If you’re looking to add a little twang to your next playlist, check these out. They’re the tunes I listened to for two hours and 11 minutes on Saturday while I was trekking through the hills of Nashville. Just give me some boots, a cowboy hat and I’d be all set.

Gloriana, who opened up for Rodney Atkins after the race!

“Ready to Run,” Dixie Chicks (Yes, I’m cheesy and made this the first song)

“Where It Is,” Carrie Underwood

“Better Than Revenge,” Taylor Swift

“Wild At Heart,” Gloriana

“Watchin’ You,” Rodney Atkins

“No Reins,” Rascal Flatts

“If Ever I Could Love,” Keith Urban

“Heads Carolina, Tails California,” Jo Dee Messina

“It’s America,” Rodney Atkins

“Stuck Like Glue,” Sugarland

“Cowboy Cassanova,” Carrie Underwood

“Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” Jake Owen

“Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy),” Big & Rich

“Where the Blacktop Ends,” Keith Urban

“My Kinda Party,” Jason Aldean

“Farmer’s Daughter,” Rodney Atkins

“What Was I Thinkin,” Dierks Bentley

“Before He Cheats,” Carrie Underwood

“All I Want to Do,” Sugarland

“Gunpowder & Lead,” Miranda Lambert

“You Belong with Me,” Taylor Swift

“If Ever I Could Love,” Keith Urban

“Dirt Road Anthem,” Jason Aldean (I only put this song on for Dustin, but it ended up being great for all of the hills)

“Undo It,” Carrie Underwood

“Should’ve Said No,” Taylor Swift

“Something Like That,” Tim McGraw

“Honeybee,” Blake Shelton

“The Story of Us,” Taylor Swift

“Crazy Town,” Jason Aldean

“Drunk On You,” Luke Bryan

“Come Back Song,” Darius Rucker

“Me and My Gang,” Rascal Flatts

“Hit the Ground Runnin,” Keith Urban

“She Wouldn’t Be Gone,” Blake Shelton

“Home Is Where the Heart Is,” Lady Antebellum

“Settlin,” Sugarland

“Songs Like This,” Carrie Underwood

“Fearless,” Taylor Swift

“Something More,” Sugarland

“You Gonna Fly,” Keith Urban

“Alright,” Darius Rucker

“Summer Nights,” Rascal Flatts

“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” Miranda Lambert

“Kiss A Girl,” Keith Urban

“Best Days of Your Life,” Kellie Pickler

“Ladies Love Country Boys,” Trace Adkins

“She’s Got It All,” Kenny Chesney

“Mayberry,” Rascal Flatts

“Long Hot Summer,” Keith Urban

“What Was I Thinkin,” Dierks Bentley

Your turn: Tell me all of your favorite country tunes!

Country Music Half-Marathon Race Recap

Holy heat and hills, batman. The fact that I earned this just makes me extremely proud:

Before I delve into how the race actually played out, let me just say that completing this race without ending up in a medical tent is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve never pushed myself so hard, mentally and physically, and I can say with 100 percent certainty that I left every single thing I had left in me on that race course. Did I accomplish my sub-2:00 goal? (SPOILER!) No. Did I PR? Again, the answer is no. But I’ve never felt so good about myself because I didn’t give up and I simply kept moving when I thought I couldn’t anymore.

So let’s go back in time, to 4:30am, when my alarm sounded.

I pounced out of bed, raring to go. I woke up a few times throughout the night, but felt completely rested and ready to race. I ate my Clif bar and banana for breakfast, drank some water and finished up my goals blog post so y’all had something to read while I was pounding the pavement (Or in Jocelyn’s case, something to read before she kicked some serious asphalt 😉 ).

Dad, Dustin and I drove out to Centennial Park at 5:30am, easily found a parking spot and relaxed for a bit. I used the porta potties, which didn’t have very long lines, stretched a little and chatted to keep my nerves at bay.

I sent the boys packing a half hour before the start so they could get to their watch posts and I could do my warm-up in peace. I jogged around the park to loosen up, then did dynamic stretches for about 10 minutes. Walking lunges, hip openers and knee raises became my best friend. I felt loose, light and more than ready to go after my goal.

Rock ‘n’ Roll started right on time and the wave starts went off without a hitch. I was in corral 8, so I didn’t wait very long before it was our turn. Just like in D.C., I got to toe the start line for a few seconds before the gun went off for my corral. That feeling is so awesome, and one of the many reasons I love Rock ‘n’ Roll’s start protocol.

The first mile was great, but I constantly checked my watch to reign myself in and make sure I didn’t go out too fast. I kept things in check and clocked a 9:03 pace. My goal was to maintain between a 9:00 and 9:15-pace for the first 5K, which I ended up nailing.

The big thing that needs to be mentioned about this race is the HILLS. There are a ton of them. Remember when I said in my goals post  that I wasn’t underestimating them? Yeah, I thought I wasn’t. I knew there would be a decent amount, but I did not fully understand just how many. They never stopped. And they didn’t all lead to a glorious downhill. Sometimes it was an uphill, flat ground, then another uphill. I know this is good in the long run (pun!) because it forces my body to use different muscles, giving others a break, but man, the constant change was tough on me mentally. When they started rolling out in the first mile, I thought it was different but that the hills were probably front-loaded early on in the course and the end would be more flat. WRONG.

The second 5K went fairly smoothly, but I could tell I was already feeling hot. I took in much more fuel than I normally do and started keeping an eye out for volunteers with salt packets. I kept double checking my forehead to make sure I was sweating, but I had a gut feeling I was going to need it later.

By the time I hit mile six, I was extremely hot and felt thirsty the entire time. I was supposed to see Dustin and Dad at mile 3, but missed them because they couldn’t cross the street. Which means I didn’t get some extra water and I wouldn’t see them until mile nine. I grabbed an orange from a volunteer, then decided to grab a Gatorade at the next station.

I should have known better.

My stomach doesn’t react well to Gatorade during races. It never has. I tried it once during my first half-marathon and swore it off after that because it made me feel funky. But I was so concerned about the heat that I wanted to get something more substantial than water in me. I hadn’t found a salt packet yet and didn’t want to take any chances. So I drank half of a cup of Gatorade and my stomach felt off the rest of the time.

The hills were still rolling and there wasn’t much shade, but there was a ton of crowd support. I give Nashville a lot of props for this – the volunteers were fantastic and the crowd was amazing. So many people thanked the volunteers for simply coming out to be there, and there wasn’t a single area of the course where I felt like there could’ve been more people cheering. In the more quiet, homely areas, people were out in their front yards, sitting in lawn chairs and blowing bubbles to cheer us on! One man even set up his garden hose as a spray so we could run through it. What a blessing.

Around mile eight, I finally found a woman with salt packets. I desperately grabbed two and tucked one in my pocket. The second was immediately ripped open and dumped in my mouth. That was my first time taking just pure salt and I could tell I needed it. I don’t ever put salt on my food because it’s just too strong for my liking, but this tasted like pure gold to me. I could’ve easily taken the second packet in but wanted to save it for later.

At mile nine, I did some quick math and registered that I could still grab sub-2:00, but that I would have to push for sub-9:00 miles. I simply wasn’t sure if I had it in me because I was pushing as hard as I could to maintain a 9:30 pace. I started looking for Dustin and Dad, knowing they would have water and a pick-me-up, but they were nowhere in sight.

And then I saw Dustin at mile ten and it was the most glorious moment ever.

He must have seen me coming because he already had the water undone and was ready to hand off. I asked him to run with me for a bit, so he ditched Dad (don’t worry, he picked him up after) and went a few blocks. I carried the water, which funnily had a koozie attached to it, and tried to get my breathing back in check. Dustin told me I was still running a good pace and the 2-hour pacer was right with me, so I just needed to push. I sent him back to my dad, digging deep , praying the hills would stop so I could get that time goal.

I set my sights on the 2-hour pacer and vowed to hang on for as long as possible. Up and down a few more hills we went, in the complete sunshine, and then the heat finally started to slam down on me. My pace slowed more at mile 11. I tried every mental game in the book: only 2 miles left, you’ve gone this far, cranking my favorite playlists, my favorite song, encouraging myself, scolding myself, dedicating the miles to my coach, etc. I pushed and willed my legs to move faster, but the damn time on the clock kept getting higher, instead of the other way around. I dumped the other salt packet down my throat and prayed I could just finish the race. Another hill came and I could no longer see the 2-hour pacer.

We hit the last mile and it turned into a game of Just. Keep. Running. I only talked to myself about the next .05 of a mile, telling myself to forget about the rest. Run the next .05. That’s manageable. You can do that. One foot in front of the other. If you get to a downhill, then you know you can do .1 of a mile. Forget about the rest. Eventually the finish line will show up; just focus on the next .05.

It got really scary in the last mile. A lot of runners simply dropped like flies, passed out in the middle of the course.  I was sprinting my heart out (or at least, I thought I was). I couldn’t force myself to move faster. My legs felt heavy, my head was spinning, my stomach was in knots and I felt like I was going to throw up. I told myself to just keep going. You can’t stop when you’re this close to the end. The faster you run, the faster you’re done. It’s OK if you feel like you’re going to vomit. It means you’re working hard. You’re almost there, Sam. Ignore your stomach. RUN.

And then I threw up.

I’ll spare you the details, but it happened at 12.63 miles, with less than half of a mile to go. Luckily, I was on the side of the road already (I tend to stick to the right side of the course) and there was a gap in the crowd. I kept telling myself I wasn’t actually going to puke; I just felt like I was. With less than half of a mile to go, I just needed to push a little harder and I’d be done. And then I lost it. I blame the damn Gatorade. I shook my head, held back my tears and started to jog again. Fortunately, someone in the crowd had a bottle of water they let me have (thank you again!), so I rinsed my mouth and kept moving. Focusing on .05 at a time, at this point, I just didn’t want to pass out. My A and B goals were gone; I just needed to finish.

I saw the finish line and pumped my arms and legs as hard as I could to get there. I’m sure I looked like I was dying and in no way do I think I’m going to have any sort of attractive photos from this race. But I made it. I didn’t see Dustin and Dad as I crossed, but they were there once I was in the corral. I immediately started sobbing and forced my arms above my head to keep from crumbling to the ground.

So yeah, I didn’t get my sub-2:00. In fact, I ran my second slowest half-marathon. But I’m completely OK with that. I gave this race every single thing I had. I didn’t even let myself think about DNFing, and even when sub-2 was long gone, I kept repeating it to myself so that I would move as fast as my legs would take me. I finally know what it feels like to push my limits and leave every single thing I have out on the course.

And the other great part? I now know for a fact that I have a sub-2 in me. Someone get me to a flat course with slightly cooler weather and I know I can crush that time. I wasn’t so sure of that going into Nashville, but I’ve left more confident in my body’s abilities than ever before.

What about you? Did you race this weekend? A ton of my friend’s KILLED it this weekend on the pavement. Send me links to your recaps, or just tell me all about your adventures!