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Bust the Rut

So it’s pretty obvious that I fell off the blogging wagon last week.

Actually, let me correct that. I didn’t fall off the blogging wagon. I jumped off.

But don’t worry, I knew I’d get back on! I just needed a breather. Things were getting extremely overwhelming in Samantha-land (yes, it exists), and I really just needed to take a step back from a lot of things and re-evaluate what was really important to me.

What did I come up with? A few things, actually.

My job. I love my job so, so much. I love going into the office every day and performing the day-to-day tasks that are required for FITNESS to be successful. I work with great people, I research fascinating subject matter that truly matters to me, and I get to connect with millions of people. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Running. This is another thing I took a break from. If you’ve checked out my DailyMile profile recently, you can see that I skidded into quite a workout halt. I could feel myself getting burnt out a few weeks before the race, but told myself to power through and finish strong. I’m so glad I did. Then I gave myself a week off, telling myself I’d jump right back into it. I should have known better — it’s always ten times harder to get back into it when I take a break.

But I knew exactly what would get me back in the groove — the New York City Marathon. Obviously, basically everyone knows it happened yesterday. It was phenomenal. Beautiful. Unbelievably inspirational. I’ve read so many race recaps today it’s not even funny. Dustin went with me to watch at mile 24 and it was so fun cheering for everyone.

Three of my co-workers, Betty, John and Jenna, dominated and a ton of blogging friends conquered the 26.2 epicness that is NYCM. It was the perfect kick in the butt to get me back into my sneakers this morning and ready to pound the pavement. Three other co-workers have already made a pact with me to run the marathon next year. Let the countdown begin!

I want to be like Mike Spidey.

Blogging. This little space on the Internet has come to mean so much to me. Yes, I took a week off, but I have been itching to be back for days. So why didn’t you blog when you wanted to, Samantha? Because I told myself at the beginning of the week I would take a full week off to really evaluate what was important to me. Could I live without blogging? Was it unnecessary pressure I was adding to myself? Would shutting down my page be in everyone’s best interests?

Turns out the answer to all of those questions is a big fat NO. Although I wasn’t actively blogging myself, I was reading nonstop, dreaming up future posts, taking pictures, and thinking about what I would do once I got back to blogging. I realized that this really has become a huge passion of mine and I’m not willing to give it up. Nor do I have to. I just need to play around with my schedule and really nail down something that works for me. I know I’ve been saying that for a few months now, and I don’t know if you’ve even noticed, but I’ve toyed with different schedules and am slowly figuring out what works for me. I’m really hoping to find a long-term solution sometime soon.

But ya know what was the best part of the week-long blogging hiatus? Realizing how many of you actually read and care about my blog. That means so much to me. I had so many Facebook messages, comments, tweets and e-mails flood in throughout the week, wondering if I was alright and when I was going to be back. People telling me they missed me and were (im)patiently awaiting my return. Compliments from people I know and people I haven’t met IRL (in real life) yet. It truly means the world to me. I know I don’t have a ginormous following, but every single person reading this blog means something to me. It truly blows my mind that people take a few minutes out of their day to read my words simply because they want to. Thank you.

Food. More specifically, healthy food. I’ve come to realize that living with a boy is hard when it comes to food. They eat more, which makes you want to eat more, and they don’t always eat super-healthy because well, their metabolism can handle it. At least Dustin’s can. Dustin doesn’t work out nearly as much as I do, yet he still rocks a six-pack and can run faster than me (I hate him a little bit for that). So after San Francisco, I gave in to his cravings and basically ate whatever he decided to whip up. Half of it was healthy, half of it not so much.

Fortunately, we sat down this weekend and re-evaluated our goals to get back on the healthy living bandwagon. Because in the end, when I eat like crap, I feel like crap. Sure, it satisfies all of my cravings in the moment, but it only lasts for about 2.5 seconds before the next one hits. That’s a quick recipe for disaster. I’d much rather have a recipe like Monica’s tortilla soup, which I happened to feast on tonight.

That is one hearty, filling soup. Low-sodium chicken broth, shredded chicken breast, salsa (next time we’re just going to cut up a ton of tomatoes, I think), black beans, corn, a few tortilla chips and a sprinkle of shredded cheese. Unbelievably easy and incredibly delicious. Win.

Overall, I think the break was a much-needed step back to really think about my life and where I want it to go. I have a lot of things on my plate, yes, but they’re all things that I love 100 percent. I’m officially back on the wagon, I’ve busted through the rut and am ready to soar with flying colors (enough cliches for ya there?). Thanks for sticking around, I promise it’ll be well worth it 🙂



pssst! Fun goodies coming your way tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Nike Women’s Half-Marathon Recap, Part II

At last, the long-awaited race report! Instead of prolonging the inevitable, let’s jump right into it, shall we?

Picking up where I left off….

My alarm sounded bright and early at 5:15am and I rolled out of bed, threw some sweats on and groggily stumbled down to breakfast in the hotel lobby. Without too much talking, I scarfed down my typical pre-run meal: a bagel with peanut butter, heavy on the pb. I’m not a coffee drinker, so I passed on all the wonderful-smelling caffeine and washed down my meal with some good old-fashioned water. Yum.

Can't you tell I'm excited?

I wanted to stretch out and slowly get ready before leaving for the race. It helps the err, bathroom department, if I’m not rushing around nervously. With a little over an hour to kill, I changed, stretched, sipped water and enjoyed the cooking channel on TV, making mental notes of meals I want Dustin to make me 🙂

More awake this time.

Finally, it was time to head to the race. After a quick photo-op, Jenna and I moved outside to what we thought would be a quick and painless bag drop-off.

Photo snapped by Digital Royalty before the madness.

Wrong. So, so wrong.

My only complaint about this race was the setup for the bag drop-off. It was so chaotic it wasn’t even funny! People were just standing still, herding themselves around the buses we needed to get to and drop off our bags. Instantly shifting into panic-mode, Jenna and I dipped and swerved through thousands of people (literally, thousands), cut a few lines, dropped off our bags and ran to the start.

We made it just in time.


Tells ya how long it took, huh?

After a big sigh of relief, I loaded up my Garmin and relaxed for a few minutes while the announcer did his thang. Before I knew it, the gun sounded and I was off!

Miles 1-3 were easy peasy, my legs got into a groove and I just enjoyed the course. It was still dark out when  we started, which I enjoyed way more than I thought I would. It was fun taking various pictures and watching everything shift colors as I ran along. I sipped some water at the mile 2 marker and took my first Clif shot block at mile 4. Better to take it before you’re tired, right?

Miles 4-6 had some rolling hills, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Mile 7, however, sucked hardcore. It was all  uphill. The whole thing. No leveling out or slight downhills here. Nadda. Just 100 percent incline on narrower roads that made my thighs scream.

But I survived. Obviously.

And then came the downhill. Because what comes up, must come down. Mile 8 was nearly all downhill and when I say downhill, I mean downhill. My legs were racing and I had to pay close attention to maintain proper form so my knees and shins didn’t curse me later. I made up the time I lost and then some though, which pumped me up for the second half of the race.

My go-to fuel.

I popped another shot blok at the beginning of mile 8 and chugged right along. My knees were starting to give me a lot of pain, but thankfully my hip (where I had been having serious pain before) was doing just fine. My energy was high and I cruised right through miles 8, 9 and 10 without much thought.

The views constantly changed on this course, which is phenomenal. We literally ran through every region of San Francisco. Commercial, residential, coastal, woodland (that’s when I say it seemed like we were running through a more woodsy area 🙂 ). The constant change definitely kept me distracted and the time flew by.

I ate another shot block at mile 10 and ran through another really crappy hill, but not as bad as mile 7. But still, by then my legs were saying “Uh, what the hell, Sam?” I told them to shut the eff up and keep moving. Bam.

They listened and were rewarded with what? Another glorious downhill! At this point, it really registered in my brain that I could actually PR on this race, which I didn’t think would be possible when I toed the starting line. Why, you wonder?

  1. I was under-trained.
  2. I was having a lot of hip pain during race week.
  3. The mile 7 and mile 10 hills are killer.

So when I got through the second horrid hill and this new revelation dawned on me, I gunned it downhill. With only a little over 2 miles left to race, I just wanted to go all out and get the fastest time I possibly could. No more holding back, no saving it for later. Just run.

The final two miles were a lot of fun because of the crowds. There were cheerleading teams rooting for you, Nike had a bunch of fun signs up and the fans were really supportive. Volunteers handed out a square of Ghirardelli chocolate in the last mile, but I politely declined (meaning I vigorously shook my head and kept my mouth shut, because for some reason I was convinced they would try to shove it in my mouth?). Before I knew it, I was in the finish chute and could see the final timing mat up ahead!

As I neared, I just ran as fast as I thought I could. When I saw the handsomely dressed firemen holding a blue Tiffany’s box that I knew would be handed to me, I ran even faster. Talk about motivation, eh?

Finish time: 2:10:03

Six minutes shaved off of my old PR time! BAM!

My splits were a little all over the place, but I’ll show ’em anyway so I can reference them later:

  • Mile 1: 9:21
  • Mile 2 : 9:45
  • Mile 3: 9:32
  • Mile 4: 10:18 –> rolling hills start!
  • Mile 5: 9:22
  • Mile 6: 9:41
  • Mile 7: 12:17 –> that nasty, never-ending hill.
  • Mile 8: 8:52 –> The glorious downhill that followed.
  • Mile 9: 9:56
  • Mile 10: 10:05 –> The other big hill.
  • Mile 11: 9:53
  • Mile 12: 9:04
  • Mile 13: 8:46

After snagging my necklace and finisher’s T-shirt, I immediately chugged chocolate milk, ate a banana and went to the stretching tent they had set up for us. A foam roller has never hurt so good. Afterward, I couldn’t wait another second, so I unwrapped my new race medal:

I love it! Now I can actually wear my race medal all day long and not get weird stares 🙂

Overall, I think this was a great race. Nike really did a fantastic job setting everything up and making sure you had an enjoyable experience. The course was gorgeous, the support was fantastic and there were plenty of hydration and fueling stations (Gatorade handed out stuff just like my shot bloks, but I didn’t take it). I would definitely consider racing this one again!

I’m really happy with my performance in this race as well. It became very clear how much stronger I’ve gotten since my last half because this course had much more difficult hills, and I still snagged a PR. I maintained a faster pace, learned more about myself as a runner and ended with a big goofy smile on my face 🙂

And there ya have it! I took pictures on a disposable camera (throwback!) throughout the course, but the photo center near my apartment has a broken machine right now so I still haven’t been able to get them developed. Once they are developed, I’ll make another post so you can check out the scenes I ran through!

Feel-Good Friday: Because I Need It This Week

I know you all are patiently waiting for Part II of my Nike Women’s Half-Marathon race report, and I promise it’s coming. Just not today. It’s been an extremely difficult week for me, emotionally and mentally, which is why I haven’t blogged since Monday. So instead of my race report, I’ve decided to continue the weekly tradition of Feel-Good Friday. Because after the week I’ve had, I don’t want to dwell on the bad. It’s much better to focus on the good.

So here’s what’s been getting me through this week:

My new mug shot. I’ve been meaning to bring in a coffee mug for work for the past few week so that I would stop using the paper cups our office provides (go green!), but just kept forgetting to snag one from my cupboards at home. When I snagged this big boy from a Starbucks in San Fran, I knew it would be my new office mug. I’ve already enjoyed a few warm cups of tea and hot cocoa (I don’t drink coffee) and am sure to enjoy plenty more. Plus it’s red, which automatically makes it way cooler.

My new water bottle. I know, I know, I’ve been putting a lot of “new” stuff on here that have been making me feel good. I swear I’m not materialistic. There are just some little things (like water bottles) that make me feel good. This one in particular is not so little, in fact it’s huge. And when I fill it up in the morning and chug it down by the end of the work day, I feel accomplished for drinking that much water.

Flowers from Dustin. Or Dustin in general. Dustin has been my rock, helping me sift through the emotions that I’ve had thrown at me this week. I really am so grateful for him every day, but this week he just stepped it up. He never pushed me to do anything I didn’t want to do and he came home with my favorites on Wednesday: yellow roses, a Reese’s cup, a Starbucks gift card, and lots of room for hugs. He’s a keeper.

Oswego and their reunions. Dustin and I met at Oswego, so that automatically makes Oswego awesome, but last night our alumni association had a NYC Welcome to the City party and we got to meet a bunch of people from varying graduating classes, from the ’70s all the way up to today. We met at Houndstooth Pub in Manhattan, got appetizers and drinks, and enjoyed everyone’s company. I got to see a lot of friendly faces (Hey Liza and Liv!), people I worked with at school that I haven’t seen in a long time, which made the night even more fantastic.

(Sorry for the grainy iPhone photo!)

And Dustin striking his signature pose.

So that about sums it up for me! I would say to expect the race report tomorrow, but that would be a lie. Dustin and I are escaping the city for the weekend to visit his family, and I’m avoiding technology at all costs. My brain is in dire need of an unplug from technology. So I won’t be tweeting, texting, blogging or anything. But I’ll be back Monday, happy race report in hand!

What’s made you feel good this week? Tell me at least one thing!

Nike Women’s Half-Marathon Recap, Part I

First things first, drum roll please! The winner of the Ghirardelli chocolate giveaway is…

Congratulations, Krisi! Just send me an email with your address so we can get your goodies in the mail 🙂

Moving right along, this weekend was such a fun-filled, extremely busy weekend that I’m going to break it up into sections. So let’s travel back in time to Friday, shall we? I woke up bright and early with my bag already packed and ready to go, then carried it up to work. Let me tell you, taking a packed suitcase through the metro system is not fun at all. Especially in rush hour when everyone’s trying to get to work. Some people are just plain grumpy. No bueno.

But I got to work, knocked stuff off of my to-do list left and right, then boarded my direct flight from JFK. I made sure to have the essentials ready to go:

A book, magazine and Ghirardelli chocolate. Yum. Unfortunately, we ended up on the plane for an hour before we actually took off, so I finished my book, half of my magazine and a quarter of my chocolate (it wasn’t full when I got on the plane) before we even got in the air. Good thing I had backup material.

My iPod ended up being great entertainment and I read through the latest issue of FITNESS, Self and Runner’s World by the time we touched down in San Francisco. Phew. I tried my hardest to stay awake the whole flight so that I would sleep well and suffer less jet lag. Mission accomplished. I got to our hotel, ate some food and promptly passed out in my comfy bed.

The next morning I woke up to this beautiful sight:

You just don’t get that in New York! Maybe it’s childish, but I always get giddy whenever I see palm trees. It just screams vacation to me.

Jenna and I spent most of the morning and early afternoon wandering around Union Square, either exploring the area or working. We bought some goodies at Niketown and headed over to the expo.

There was a lot of cool stuff going on throughout the expo, including Run the Runway and Neutrogena makeup consultations. It was very clear that this race was for women. After picking up some stuff, Jenna and I discovered the best thing going on in the whole tent.

Spin for a smoothie! Hop on the bike, spin away and you power the blender to create your own smoothie. Yum!

At least I can say I’ve technically spun in jeans and boots now. But I think I’ll stick to workout clothes. Heh.

Some more fun at the expo…

Jenna and I walked around the city some more and ended up spotting a bright patch of grass in the distance. Like a moth to a flame, Jenna and I rushed over to see what it was. We rarely get to see nature  living in the city, so we were hoping to find something good.

We ended up finding Yerba Buena Gardens!

It was so pretty! Everyone was just lounging around, enjoying the gorgeous sunshine. It reminded me of our parks back home, but a bit on the smaller side. Small is never a bad thing!

There was a waterfall that ended up being the perfect spot for us to relax and have some cool water sprinkle us.

Finally, we went back to the expo because we had some work to do. And by work, I mean interview running phenoms Kara Goucher and Joan Benoit Samuelson! They were both super cool and very down-to-earth. I loved getting to know them a little bit more and hanging out for a few minutes.

The rest of the night entailed a pre-race dinner filled with typical carbo-loading and then an early night. Until next time…

Feel-Good Friday: Off to California!

Cause I’m leeeeavin’ on a jet plane.

Don’t know when I’ll be back again.

Oh babe, I hate to go.”

Alright, I don’t know if I’m leaving on a jet plane, I’m just leaving in some sort of plane. I do know when I’ll be back again — really late Sunday night. And babe, I don’t hate to go…I’m stoked to be headin’ west!

But still, the song is stuck in my head and I think it’s appropriate. So there.

Anyway, happy Friday! I’m currently on my way to sunny California (even though it’ll be dark when I arrive) for the Nike Women’s Marathon, so fingers crossed all goes well. If you’re super concerned (that’s you, family and Dustin), I’ll be posting on Twitter once I land. Promise.

So other than the fact that I’m on my way to San Francisco, which obviously makes me feel good, here are some other things that have made me feel good this week:

Fall foliage. We had a bit of a heat wave last weekend, but the leaves are still changing color. I took this photo when I was visiting home a few weeks ago and currently have it set as my phone background. It just screams beauty to me.

Pancakes. But not just any pancakes. Banana Bread Protein Pancakes, recipe courtesy of Julie. Dustin and I made these and they are so. effing. good. My mouth is watering just thinking about them.

And yes, I know that’s one huge pancake. I only had one and couldn’t even finish the whole thing. Filling.

My new purse. I’ve been lusting after this purse ever since I saw it on Pinterest and immediately added it to my “Wish List” board. My good ole’ Aunt Sue saw how much I wanted it and this week an early birthday present arrived. Woohoo! Thanks again, Aunt Sue!

My new boots. This is yet another reason why I love fall. I searched for weeks for boots I loved, and I finally found some! It doesn’t hurt that I got them at Macy’s on sale. Gotta love scoring big on a sale.

Steve Jobs. His death is so sad and we all know how I feel about cancer, but I really find his words so inspiring. I’m very happy people are paying him due diligence and honoring his memory.

What’s made you feel good this week? Any restaurant or sight-seeing recommendations while I’m in San Francisco? 

P.S. Don’t forget to enter the Ghirardelli chocolate giveaway! It’s open through Sunday!