Moving on up…

My last post was about how I was sooo ready and sooo excited to start running again and training for the Pittsburgh half in May.  So, logically, I came down with the cold of the century a few days later (okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration– but to a girl that literally hasn’t been sick in YEARS, it sure felt like the cold of the century).

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Needless to say, I haven’t been running or doing anything active at all the past two weeks.  Between working, taking care of myself, and taking care of sweet baby H, I haven’t had the energy or time to do much besides rest (which is important every once in a while too).  Two weeks later, I finally have my voice and my energy back– and I WILL get a run in this weekend!  The temperature is supposed to be cooperative even though the rain is not (mid-fifties in February in Pennsylvania– yes please), and I’m looking forward to taking full advantage of it.  Every winter run that’s NOT done on a treadmill is a win in my book.

On a related note, I blame my first-cold-in-years on two things: 1) not running/exercising regularly, and 2) not getting enough sleep (hello nighttime feedings).  I learned just how important those two things are when it comes to staying healthy, which is motivation for me (and hopefully for you) to make them both a priority even when life gets busy.

Although I haven’t been running or exercising, I have been working on a Facebook page for my blog!  Moving on up! Now I can quickly and easily post my random running ramblings for all the world to see without publishing a blog post! hehe.  So if you want to check it out, please do so at {drum roll, please} Cristi Rae Runs on Facebook!

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I’ll be back soon with {hopefully} some fitness updates!

What’s the winter weather looking like in your area for the weekend?  Do you have any plans?    

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Sunday Runday – Half Marathon Training Day #1

Sunday marked my first training day for the 2016 Pittsburgh half marathon and my official “return to running” day since the birth of my beautiful baby girl in October!  In fact, I quit running last May (after carefully & slowly running the Pittsburgh half) because I felt like I was pushing myself a little too hard and was going past my comfort level on my runs as my belly grew bigger.  I initially really wanted to run throughout my pregnancy, but I switched to weekly spin classes as my body started telling it was time to slow down.  Spinning can be a very intense workout, but for me it was easier to keep my heart rate down in spin class than it was on a long run, and it was still a great way to keep in shape throughout my pregnancy (something I highly recommend doing– I felt like it helped SO much with labor).  So spinning it was, and I put running on the backburner until after baby girl was here.  Before I had H, I planned to return to running as soon as my OB gave me the okay.  An emergency C-section changed those plans, though, so even when my OB cleared me for exercise at 6 weeks I just didn’t feel comfortable jarring my body around at that point.  Now, at almost 14 weeks postpartum, I finally feel like it’s time to start running again.  And I’m so, so looking forward to it.

The weather in our area was absolutely beautiful yesterday (well, relatively speaking– a 50 degree, sunny day in January is much more appealing than a 50 degree, sunny day in, say, August– so I wasn’t complaining).  It’s rare to be able to wear capri pants and a short sleeve shirt on a January run, but yesterday’s temperature was perfect for it.  My younger brother and I are training together for the Pittsburgh half, so he came to my house and we set a goal of running a steady 5K distance for our official “kickoff” training run.  That’s a lower distance than I’ve ever started my training at in the past, but since I haven’t done much of any form of exercise since before H was born, I wasn’t even sure if I could run that far.  My brother has been doing treadmill intervals for months, so he was looking for a relatively-short-distance steady run as well.  We just wanted to test the waters since half training has been out of our vocabulary for so long– we usually run at least one half marathon each fall, and obviously we skipped doing that last year.  We are essentially starting our training from scratch for the first time in a long time.  With the exception of two stops to catch our breath (something we usually do on this particular route– PA hills can be killer), we were able to run the entire distance with no problems!  Our overall pace was a bit slower than usual– we ran an average pace of 10:52, and we usually aim for a 10:00 pace on our training runs– but we were both happy with our first run of the season.  We even did a short sprint at the end of our run, just to get our fast-twitch muscle fibers going.  We both felt great afterwards.  And now I’m more excited than ever to keep moving and keep training.  It feels great to get my “running legs” back again!

Are you training for any races?  How did your weekend runs go?        

It’s been a while…

Well folks, it’s been quite a while since my last blog post (over two years to be exact, but who’s counting?!).  I’m actually embarrassed that it’s been so long since I’ve written.  My only excuse is that life got in the way for a little while.

First, this happened:
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Then, a year of pinning, DIY-ing, and planning later, this happened:
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A few months afterwards, this happened:
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Which resulted in this happening shortly thereafter:
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Followed by life’s greatest blessing approximately 36 weeks later.  =)

Soooo needless to say, I’ve been pretty busy with a few things (blog writing not being one of them).  I did continue running through all of the life-craziness, though, and I managed to meet one of my biggest goals– successfully training for and running my first full marathon.  I ran the 2014 Pittsburgh Marathon with an official finish time of 4:39:12 (10:38 min/mile pace), which I was pretty happy with.

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Unfortunately, I probably won’t get around to writing a recap of the race just because it’s been nearly two years (I’m sad just writing that) and my memory doesn’t work that well anymore.  All I will say is that it was one of the most proud and invigorating moments of my life (second only to the birth of my beautiful daughter in October 2015), and I can’t wait to do it again in a few years when I have the free time in my life schedule to train for another full.

I also ran the 2015 Pittsburgh half marathon at 13 weeks pregnant!  It was my slowest half time ever, but I didn’t care at all– I was just happy to be able to continue running and remaining healthy as I started into this new and exciting phase of my life.

Anywho, I’m just getting back to running and working out at 13 weeks postpartum, and I thought this would be a great time to start blogging again.  So, I’m back. =)  And I’m really looking forward to sharing in my get-back-in-shape-as-a-new-mommy journey with all of you!  I’m already signed up for a few races this year (one being the Pittsburgh half marathon on May 1st, 2016; my favorite! 😉 ), so I’ll be keeping you posted on my training for that as well as a few others.  Here’s to a happy and fit 2016!!

 

 

What I’m Eating This Week

It seems like it’s been forever since I’ve done a “What I’m Eating…” post.  Back when I was eating Paleo all the time, I was keeping my blog updated with my meals and my macros every week.  I’ll admit I’ve fallen off the proverbial-Paleo-bandwagon the past few months, and I’ve not been monitoring my nutrition quite as well as I should be.  I did a lot of running over the summer and the fall, so I was a little more relaxed with my diet.  Now that the temps have dropped, the days are shorter, and my races have slacked off, I’m not logging many miles.  Time to jump back on that nutrition bandwagon.  For the first time in a long time, I actually planned out my meals for the week and did meal prep on Sunday.  I’m not eating strictly Paleo right now (I’m planning to get back into that very soon, though), but I’m definitely making smarter food choices.  I’m also getting back into cross training (being more consistent with my weight training and going to spin class a few times a week) until full marathon training starts at the end of December!  Last night I went to my first spin class in months, and I felt absolutely great afterwards.  I’m really excited about getting into a more structured nutrition/fitness routine.  Here’s what I’ve been eating this week, if you’re looking for ideas:

Breakfast:  four egg whites scrambled with 4 oz. (pre-boiled) sweet potatoes, topped with salt, pepper, and lots and lots of ketchup.  =) Oh and coffee.  Can’t forget the coffee.
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9 am snack:  a handful of almonds and salted cucumbers (salt = bad; don’t follow my example!).  Oh and coffee.  Can’t forget the coffee.
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Lunch:  4 oz. lean ground turkey seasoned with low-sodium taco seasoning over a bed of spinach and topped with 1/4 of an avocado.  I also eat one Joseph’s pita bread for carbohydrates.  Yum.

[Oops.  I was so hungry, I forgot to take a picture!]

3 pm snack:  4 oz. sweet potato topped with 2 Tbsp. peanut butter and cinnamon.  Hey, don’t knock it ’til you try it!  I’m thoroughly convinced that you can top just about anything with pb, and it will taste 100% better.
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Dinner:  three egg whites and one whole egg scrambled with frozen mixed veggies.  Annnd topped with loads of ketchup.  I use pre-cut frozen veggies and cook them without defrosting before adding my eggs, which makes this a super-easy dinner for myself.
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If I’m hungry before bed (usually on heavy weight days), I’ll make a 4-egg-white “omelet” (whites, cinnamon, vanilla) filled with 1 Tbsp. peanut butter to eat at least an hour before bed.  Again– don’t knock it until you try it!  Egg whites are a practically-flavorless source of protein, so it’s not hard to concoct them into all sorts of yummy dishes.

So, there you have it– that’s what I’m chowing down on this week.  Lots of protein from eggs and lots of healthy fats.  Anyone care to share their healthy meal plans?? I’m always on the lookout for new ideas!!

My October Running Update – PR’s All Around!

Wow, I just realized it’s been weeks since my last post.  And October has been such a busy month for running– shame on me for not keeping you in the loop!!  Life has been so crazy the past few weeks, and I haven’t had much time to write!!  Here’s a brief update of what I’ve been up to the past few weeks…

  • One week after my horrific half marathon in Johnstown, PA, I ran a 5K and got a PR!!  Wahoo!!  Each October, my friends and I run an out-and-back 5K on a local bike trail.  The 5K is always held on the weekend when, in my opinion, the beautiful bright colors of the area’s fall foliage are at their peak.  The race was much warmer this year (high 50-s I’d guess) than in the past (high 30-s I’d guess) and the sun was shining– so it was perfect fall running weather.  Since this is most likely one of my last 5K’s of the year, I was determined to PR, and I was thrilled when I did.  My finish time ended up being 24:57– almost an entire minute faster than my previous PR!  I also won first in my age group.  Granted, I was the only one in my age group (this is a small race), but I still feel like I have bragging rights. =)  The 5K is also held during the small town’s annual buckwheat festival– so we run our 3.1 miles then head over to the all-you-can-eat buckwheat supper!!  I can never let that calorie deficit sit for too long.
  • The following weekend, I went on a mini-road trip to Gettysburg, PA with my boyfriend, my brother, my bestest running friend Emily, and her husband.  My boyfriend and I went to Gettysburg on vacation this summer and we loved it, so when we heard that a half marathon was held there in October, “we” (i.e. “I”) immediately planned to go back.  We packed up the camper and left Friday night to make a fun-filled weekend out of the race.  If you aren’t familiar with the Gettysburg Blue Gray Half, you MUST check it out.  The race, of course, has a Civil War theme where you choose to run for either the North or the South.  All of the runners on whichever “team” wins gets a commemorative mug!!  The race shirts are also colored blue or gray depending on which side you choose to run for.  Also, the age group winners in both the half marathon and 5K (yes, there’s a 5K too) get FRESH BAKED APPLE PIES as an award.  What race can beat that?!

    On Friday night we lit a campfire and relaxed with a few beverages.  On Saturday, we woke up early, had a filling breakfast, and headed out on our bicycles to explore the battlefields.  If you ever go to Gettysburg and want to do your own tour of the battlefields– the bicycle is a great way to go.  24 (I believe) miles of paved, rolling-hill, slow-moving-traffic roads to bike on.  You get a great workout and a great view of the scenery.

    My boyfriend and me at one of the Gettysburg monuments.

    My boyfriend and me at one of the Gettysburg monuments.

    In the afternoon, we headed to packet pickup to get our bibs and race shirts.  Me, my brother, and Emily were running the half marathon.  My boyfriend and Emily’s husband were running the 5K.  Because we chose to run for the North, our half marathon shirts were long-sleeved blue tech shirts.  I was super impressed with their quality!  There was no race expo per-say, but the local running store was set up to sell at packet pickup, which made it really convenient for people needing last-minute items before the race.

    After packet pickup, we carbo-loaded at O’Rourkes Eatery– a delicious Irish pub right in the heart of Gettysburg.  My boyfriend and I ate here on our first trip to Gettysburg and were glad to return.

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    The race started at 9 a.m. on Sunday morning.  Since it was a relatively-small race (the half was capped at 1,000 runners and the 5K was capped at 500) and we were staying so close to the start, we didn’t leave the campground until 8 a.m. and still had plenty of time to check our bags and hit the porta-potties before the gun went off.

    It was a perfectly sunny, chilly fall day– not too hot and not too cold.  Great running weather!  The race itself was beautiful.  13.1 miles of pavement winding through the farmlands of rural Gettysburg.  To some people, that might not sound very appealing– but for a small-town country girl like me, I was in heaven.  The course was never crowded with the exception of maybe the first .25 miles, and it consisted of flat areas with rolling hills here-and-there.  Nothing too extreme.  The volunteers did a fantastic job and the spectators, though few and far between, we extremely supportive & encouraging.

    Because I may or may not have eaten wayyy too much the night before, I uncomfortably carried a “food baby” for the first few miles of the race.  I was worried that my food baby might eventually turn into full-blown stomach cramps/side stitches, so I didn’t move too swiftly at the beginning of the race.  Luckily, by mile 5 my stomach pain subsided, and I was moving easily-breezily along.

    Around mile 8 or 9, my energy levels started zapping and my legs began to feel heavy.  Right around there, we ran past Gettysburg High School, which was the one spot in the course populated with whooping, yelling spectators.  For me, this crowd support almost seemed strategically placed– it occurred right at a point where I needed the extra motivation!!  I popped a few Honey Stingers and pushed forward with a little more energy than before.

    At the mile 10 water station, I turned off my headphones and stopped for a drink of water.  I wasn’t wearing a GPS and the miles didn’t have timing clocks, so I had no idea what my finish time might be.  While I was drinking/walking, I overheard a woman tell her friend that we were currently at an 8:40 pace.  What?!?  When I overheard that, I knew I would PR if I could just bust out another 5K at my current pace.

    So, I pushed through the last three point one miles (which, for me, are always the toughest) at a pace which was probably actually faster than I had been running for the first ten miles.  When I saw the finish line (which was at the top of a hill, eww!), I knew I had finally achieved my goal of a sub-2-hour half marathon.  My finish time ended up being 1:58:28.  A PR by more than two minutes!!  I was so excited!

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    The post race refreshments consisted of all sorts of deliciousness, from ginormous bagels to deli sub sandwiches.  Very impressive!  After grabbing some snacks and the commemorative mug we won from running on the “winning” side, we took off for lunch at Ruby Tuesday’s then took off for home.  Everything about our weekend, from the camping fun to the half marathon, made for such a great weekend.  We are definitely planning on going back next year to do this half again!!

Well, there you have it.  That’s what I’ve been up to in October!!  I have a few races in November then am planning to focus on cross-training until full marathon training starts at the end of December.

Does anyone have any fun races coming up in November??   

Fit Friday Motivation

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Source: Run U Mother Facebook page

I think everyone has had these runs at one point or another– the ones where your defenses break down and you begin to doubt yourself, your abilities, and your training.  It might be during a race or during a training run.  And as much as I dread having this type of run, I never let it defeat me when it does occur.  I push through to the finish line because I know when I do, I’ll be a stronger person and a better runner.  These are the kinds of races, training runs, workouts that show us what we’re really made of.  They force us to put our heart and soul into them just to get to the finish.  They teach us things about ourselves that we never knew before.  They show us that we’re capable of so much more than we thought possible.  In my opinion, these are the runs that make a runner a runner.  They makes us stronger people and stronger athletes.  I dread the experience, but I love the after-effects.  =)

I hope everyone has a fun, fit weekend!! =)