Goodbye 2013! It’s been a blast!

I would have to say that 2013 has been my most favorite year!

Why?

Well, so many great things have happened this year. Many of them by chance, but most of them because I worked my ass off and made them happen.

At the beginning do this year I made a decision to change my life. I wanted to get back to running which is something that I had loved in the past. I never in a million years did I think I would run nine 5ks, a 2-miler, two 10ks, and a half-marathon! Thirteen races total from March to October. The only thing that stopped me from doing any more than that was finishing up my final weeks of nursing school.

And to top it all off I graduated Nursing school! The biggest goal of my life so far! I did it all while I worked midnights every weekend, took care of my son, AND ran 3-5 days a week with some weeks doing cross training as well. It was HARD, but so worth all the hard work.

Now on to 2014!

There is no doubt in my mind that this next year is going to be even better than the last. I’m going to start working as a RN (as soon as I pass that pesky NCLEX) and I’ve come up with a few goals. I’m going to declare them here because once I get them out, they become real and I have to complete them. This blog is how I keep myself accountable and on track!

Goals for 2014:

1. Run at least 1000 miles

2. Complete at least 4 Half-Marathons (I’ve already registered for 2 in April. I know I will do the Akron Half-Marathon for sure again in September and I’m sure I’ll find another one to do. Heck, I may end up doing more than 4, but that’s my goal)

3. I want to run a 5k in under 35 minutes (My most recent PR is 36:55, so this one might take some work, but I’m up for the challenge)

4. Complete at least 20 races this year (13 races from March-October was actually NOT hard to do and that was with working midnights EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND! Really the challenge wasn’t the time for me. The challenge was the COST! I was a very poor, single mom, nursing student. I had to save my money for races, but races were the only fun thing I did for myself I the past year since I didn’t have a very active social life. With my new job as a nurse I will have the benefit of getting every other weekend off as well as be able to afford to pay for more races)

5. I want to travel to do a race (It doesn’t have to be far, but I would love to be able to go somewhere not around here and do a half or 10k. Ultimately I want to do a Run Disney half-marathon. Fingers crossed I can accomplish that one this year if possible!)

There you have it! My big goals for this year. I don’t think there is one that I won’t be able to accomplish as long as I keep my head up and my heart in the game!

Happy New Year!

#runnersheart

-Jen

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Who’s a Half-Marathoner? Oh yeah, ME!!!

I did it!!

I completed my first HALF-MARATHON!!

Here’s the play-by-play:

I woke up at the butt-crack of before dawn, and went to pick up my running bestie, Sarah (who ran her SECOND Half today!). We got up to Akron early because 1. We didn’t know exactly where we were going and 2. We wanted to beat the crowd because there were over 7000 (!!!) runners running the Akron Marathon, Half-Marathon, and Relay.

I was a bundle of nerves when I woke up and was having MAJOR heart palpitations…but by the time we got to the starting line, I was pretty calm.

On my way to pick up Sarah, I had to give myself a little pep talk in the car. I told myself that it doesn’t matter how fast I go. Today I was going to accomplish one of my dreams and my time didn’t matter. I also had to remind myself to not get caught up in the hype of the starting line and try to pace myself with anyone. The last time I did that at the Hall of Fame City Challenge 10k, I ended up sabotaging myself by mile 2 and it nearly killed me. I told myself that I wasn’t doing this for anyone else, but myself and I was the only person that I needed to worry about.Β 

That seemed to work because when they let our corral (C) go, I just turned up my music and just told myself that I was going on another run. It totally helped. I just let myself run and I didn’t worry about anyone else around me. I just did my thing and it felt great.

I kept up with my running intervals pretty well through out the race. I even PR’d my 5k and 10k times by a full minute each! I ran up and down every hill and made sure I took the water and powerade at every single stop and I even tried GU for the first time (vanilla flavored…wasn’t too shabby). Then right between mile 8 and 9 I hit a wall. My ankles were screaming at me and my was hurting pretty bad too. I had been keeping pretty good time for me (about a 12:30 pace) and then I had to start walking more. I walked most of miles 10-12 killing my pace time, but I had to keep trucking along because my time didn’t matter to me. I just wanted to finish. I just wanted my damn medal! (and to sit down!)

I did have a great moment between mile 11 and 12 when I was crossing over the “Y” bridge (if you were from Akron, you’d know where I was talking about). I was coming down one side, while the racers on mile 12 were coming back up the other side. I knew my running bestie, Sarah, was probably about a 1 to 1.25 miles ahead of me. I looked up and across the bridge and I saw her running towards me. And as we passed each other, we gave each other a high five. That really gave me the motivation to keep going. She texted me throughout the entire race to help me keep pushing through. I don’t know if I would have made it without her.

It was so awesome to see all the spectators throughout the course, holding up signs and cheering everyone on. I have never been apart of such a big race and yes, there have been spectators, but never this many. I was really blown away by all the people that were in Canal Stadium cheering the racers on as the crossed the finish line.

What really helped me through were some of the songs I put on my playlist. I picked a few songs that made me think of important people in my life and how they would help me through this race.

I picked the song “Brave” by Sara Bareilles because it makes me think of my mom because of her, I choose to be brave and do the things I do between taking care of my son, furthering my education to get my nursing degree, and to be brave enough to start running and complete something so great as my first half-marathon.

Another song I picked was “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” by Fall Out Boy. This song always makes me think of Sarah because we dance to it in Zumba and it’s one of my (and I think hers too) favorite dances we do. And Sarah is also one of my big inspirations when I run. She has come so far from when she started and I am so proud of her and I hope to be as great as she is some day.

One song I picked, may sound odd, but it really helped me keep going (and also almost made me cry during the race). “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra. I picked this song for my Grandma who passed away when I was 15 years old. It was her favorite song and it is so special to me and it seem to come on my iPod at the EXACT time I needed to hear it. It made me think that she was looking down on me today during the race and I know she would have been proud of me today.

I picked “You’ll Be in My Heart” by Phil Collins because that is my son dedicated to my 6 (almost 7) year old son, Antonio. I used to sing it to him all the time when he was a baby and a toddler. It started playing right before mile 13 and it nearly brought tears to my eyes because he is one of my main inspirations as I run.

This journey to complete my first half marathon has been a very fulfilling one for me. At the beginning of the year when I decided to start running again, I never thought I would be completing a half-marathon. That was always a thought I had in the back of my mind for way down the road. I didn’t think I would be able to do it this year, but I did. And it feels great (other than my aching back and ankles).

I am so glad that I made the decision back in May to sign up for this race. It has been the best thing I have ever done. It was hard, but it was so worth it. I cannot wait until I do another one…though it’s going to be a little while before that happens. I am signed up for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Half-Marathon in April of next year…that will probably be my next one. Until then, I have a few more races (a few 5ks and a 10k). And I plan on stepping up my game on my training. There are few things that I need to work on that I didn’t do for this one (like strengthening my ankles more).

What a great day!!

Now I need to go ice my feet πŸ˜‰

Happy Saturday!

I’m a Half-Marathoner!!

#runnersheart

-Jen

Sarah and I at the starting line!

Sarah and I at the starting line!

Highlights!

Highlights!

13.1 Baby!

13.1 Baby!

The Excitement/Nerves are Killing Me!

This is it…tomorrow is the day that I have been working so hard towards. What happens tomorrow is the very reason I started this blog in the first place. Tomorrow is when I run my first HALF-MARATHON! (Insert dramatic music here)

I am excited and nervous all rolled up into one package. I woke up this morning with heart palpitations. Picking up my bib and race packet at the Expo, I became very emotional. This is what I have trained for these past few months and sometime after 9:30am tomorrow I will officially be a “Half-Marathoner”. I can’t describe what it is I am feeling right now. Only know that it is probably one of the scariest/best feelings I have ever had in my life.

And that’s really all I have to say about that. Look for updates the next few days with pictures of me probably balling my eyes out at the finish line with my running bestie, Sarah.

Happy Friday!
And BEST WISHES to everyone running the Akron Marathon, Half-Marathon, and Relays tomorrow!!

#runnersheart
-Jen

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Busy Busy!

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I.Am.Exhausted.

This past Sunday, I ran in the Derby Downs 5k that my friend, Sarah, and I signed up for at the end of last week at the very last minute. I talked my old roommate, also a Sara, into running with us (“Come on, it’s ONLY 3 miles!”). We all did amazing and Sara even ended up taking 3rd place in our age group (I was 4th!). Okay it was the first year for the race and there weren’t that many in our age group and Sara was very shocked and didn’t believe it when they called her name to come up to receive her trophy. I was very proud of her, as well Sarah and I.

This 5k was no joke. Big, BIG hills, both up and down. Running down hills aren’t too hard, but when you’re running down a soap box derby hill with such a steep incline, you become afraid you’re going to trip and roll down the hill. Or least that’s how I felt, so I took my time down the hills and I power walked up the last gigantic hill, which may be why my calves hurt for 3 days after the race. Overall time was just over 33:15 minutes and I beat my fastest mile by 40 seconds! (10:45, down from 11:25!!!)

Sarah and I crossed the finish line together which was cool because she’s my partner in crime, my inspiration, and my sole sister when it comes to all things fitness, especially running. I am so proud of how far both of us have come and I can’t wait to see where this all leads…

Which actually it leads to us signing up for a 10k on August 3rd (WHAT?). I know it’s in progression for our half-marathon training, but as soon as I submitted payment on the race registration, I felt instantly nervous. Obviously I’m doing this to finish, not for a timed goal, but it it takes me forever to finish, then I know I’ll be crushed.

The farthest I’ve gone is 4.24 miles and I did that in 53 minutes and that’s not that bad because that was with a lot of walking…so I don’t know. We’re just going to have to wait it out and hope for the best.

This past week was crazy busy. It started Monday when I had to rush to the Cleveland Clinic to be with my Uncle Ray who has heart issues and has taken a turn for the worst. Thankfully at the moment it is stable and doing good, but he is scheduled for an experimental surgery this coming Monday.

Also this week was the last week of classes with next week being finals week. I had a few tests and quizzes this week, as well as clinical, papers and such. And of course I’m working Friday and Saturday 12 hour night shift.

It’s never ending. Always something going on. Busy busy! Can’t wait to have a day when there is nothing to do.

Happy Saturday!

-Jen

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Nursing School Problems…

Nursing school is ruining my blogging life…

Ha ha…no seriously though. I haven’t posted in YEARS! Okay, it’s been a little over a week and a half, but it feels like forever.

The past two weeks of school have just been brutally busy. More so than I think ever and I have also had a few family things thrown in the mix with it being summer and all.

Even though I haven’t been blogging about my half marathon training, I am at least still keeping up on it. I’ve been keeping up with the running, but I have to be honest that I’ve been slacking in the cross-training portion of my half training.

That’s all changing this weekend because it’s down to 13 weeks till the Akron Half-Marathon and next week is when I start increasing my mileage and adding longer runs at the end of the week. So far I’ve just been staying in the 2-3 mile range with the hopes of improving my pace a little bit.

I know that’s not the whole point of me doing this half-marathon. I just want to finish to say that I accomplished such a huge goal for myself, but I’ve got a 2-mile race coming up on July 4th. I ran this race 2 years ago and I finished it in 27 minutes and paced at 13:30. This was when I had just started running before and hadn’t been at it for very long and didn’t train very well for it.

Today, I ran 2 miles on the treadmill at my gym and I did it in 23:30 which is a 11:45 pace. My fastest mile so far is 11:25 (during my last 5k) and my average mile when training is around a 12:30. I know I am not that fast (#slowandsweaty). My goal for this 2 mile race is to run it in 23 minutes. I don’t normally set goals for my races. I usually just tell myself to have fun and hopefully you be a little faster than last time. I don’t know why this time is different. It just is.

After this race on July 4th, I don’t have another one scheduled till my half in September, but I’m hoping to get 2-3 more 5ks in there if my schedule allows.

Today, I had an appointment with my doctor. It was just a follow-up that I have with her every couple of months. At the beginning of this year I was really struggling between juggling nursing school, working midnights every weekend, and home life. I originally went to go see my doctor because my anxiety level was through the roof and I could not handle it anymore. It was affecting my school work and everything else for that matter.

After sitting and talking to my doctor for about twenty minutes, telling her about how horrible I was feeling all the time, she asked me the most bizarre question: “Were you ever diagnosed with ADD?” I laughed when she asked me. I would have never thought that I could ever possibly have ADD. Well, after her explaining it to me and having me answer a crap-ton of questions, she diagnosed me with ADD and is sure that I’ve probably had issues with it most of my life, but I had always been able to cope with it up to this point.

God Bless this woman for her diagnosis because since March, I’ve been taking medication to help me focus better in school and to give me more energy, which in turn has helped me out with other parts of my life. If it hadn’t been for her, I would have never started seriously running again. I would have never even thought I could possible run every day in May and I NEVER would have thought I could train for a half-marathon.

Since March, I have lost 20 lbs (!!!!) because I’ve been able to prioritize my life better to fit in time to workout even though I have the craziest schedule in the world between work, nursing school, and being a single mom. People ask me all the time how I am able to do it all and I always answer them: “I’m still trying to figure that one out myself. I just do it.”

I am in such a better place now than I was 6 months ago and if I had never gone to see my doctor then I don’t know how I would be feeling right now.

So that’s what has been going on since I haven’t been blogging the last week and a half. I’m going to try to post at least a little something everyday after I run or cross-train. I hope to keep up with it each day up till the big day of my first (of many) half-marathons

Happy Friday Everyone!

-Jen

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Hitting Reset

I’m hitting reset!

The last few days have been pretty crazy busy for me. I was forced to take a few rest days from my half marathon training because I made the big mistake to pick up an extra midnight shift on Thursday this week.

My thinking when I said yes to working that night was that the extra money will help with my vacation to Myrtle Beach (in 63 days, but who’s counting? 😁). I normally only work Friday and Saturday night and I’m in my nursing classes during the week. Well, by me working Thursday night it totally threw my whole schedule (and body) out of whack. I had clinical and class from 7am to 3:30pm. Then had to pick my son up from school, go grocery shopping, make dinner and a few other things. I didn’t sleep more than a half hour before I went to work that night at 11pm. Friday I only slept 2 hours before I had to get up to do a few errands before my class. Then I had to be at work at 7pm.

Anyway, long story short, by the time I got off work this morning (still with every intention of going to run after work) I felt like I had been hit by a Mack truck and I just went home and collapsed in bed.

So when I woke up I decided that I’m hitting RESET on my training and start new tomorrow. I can’t let the last 3 days get me down and I need to move FORWARD in my training.

I’m working tonight and when I get off work tomorrow morning, it’s off to get my run in! I can’t wait πŸ™‚

MOVING ON!

I’m officially registered for the Akron Half Marathon! It’s real now and I’m not backing out. I will work hard and I will do this! It’s something that I really want to accomplish and I know that I can πŸ™‚

I’m currently in the process of getting my diet in order. My problem has been that I don’t eat enough and I’m not getting enough protein and energy and yadda, yadda, yadda…so to try and fix that I bought some protein powder to make shakes to drink. They don’t taste too bad and I really hope they help out.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

-Jen