Tag Archive | Inspiration

2013 A Year in Review

As I say goodbye to 2013, it’s nice to take a look down memory lane and remind myself that although there were some of the rough goes that each year brings, there were also some high points too.  It is so important to keep these high points in your memory to remind you that life isn’t that bad and when you are feeling down and out, you can always pull on your best memories to keep yourself in check.

So more as a reminder to myself when I’m feeling bad about my nutrition (or lack thereof), how I’ve fallen off the workout wagon (I will get back on soon, I promise), or how I continuously make excuses why I’m not making it to the gym (it’s freaking cold outside!) – I can take a look back at my 2013 and know that if I did it once, I can do it again, and if I stick to it I can probably do it better.

Without further ado – my top 10 2013  fitness highlights…

1. I climbed 36 flights of stairs.  That’s 780 steps and 500 feet straight up in 7 minutes and 6 seconds coming in 3rd place in my age group and 206th out of 1,068 people.  Not bad for my first try and not training.

2. I hit a new personal record for my 2nd half marathon.  I ran the OneAmerica 500 half marathon in exactly 2 hours, which of course was my goal.  I’m so proud of that number and I’m hoping to maybe hit a new PR in 2014.

3. I placed 3rd in my age division at the KeyBank 8K during the Carmel Marathon Weekend.  This put me in the running for the Triple Crown Series.

4.  I placed 3rd in my age division along with my husband at the Geist 5K this year and we ran the 5 miles back to the car in the rain.  It was definitely a memorable race.

5. I won 1st place in my age division in the Triple Crown Series 8K events (KeyBank 8K, Eagle Creek 8K, Hoosier Park 8K).  The first time I’ve ever placed 1st in anything!

6. I placed 1st in my age division at the Noblesville Fit Fest 5K.  The second time I’ve placed 1st in a race and it was in the same year!

7.  With the support of a few friends, I completed my first Whole30 program without any cheats or having to start over.  Through this program (and a lot of testing and doctor visits) I was able to determine that I have a gluten and dairy intolerance that was causing some undesirable effects on my body.  I have now since remedied those and I am feeling WAY better.

8. I was able to help a friend run in her first half marathon and ensure that she reached her goal of finishing in 2 hours and 30 minutes or less.  There were times where she wanted to stop but together we pushed through and we ended up beating her goal by a few minutes.  I am truly blessed to have been able to be a part of that experience with her.

9. I tried many new fitness activities in 2013 including CrossFit, SkyZone Skyrobics (trampoline exercises), Insanity, Hip Hop Abs, and Boxing to name a few.  Pushing myself out of my comfort zone allowed me to realize that there are some activities that I really enjoy that I never thought I would and others that just aren’t the right fit for me and that is COMPLETELY okay.

10.  I had a 2013 goal to run 12 races in 12 months and I met my goal.  I used to be that person who said, “The only way I would run is if someone was chasing me,” or “Look at those people running outside.   They look miserable.”  I never thought I would have enjoyed running as much as I do and I look forward to keeping up with this fitness adventure in 2014.  Perhaps 14 races in 2014 should be my next goal.  What do you think?

Happy New Year!



Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon

The Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon was my 2nd half marathon for the 2013 running season and my last race of the running season as well.  Yes – I’ve hung up my running sneakers until the weather gets warmer again (metaphorically… we all know I still workout during the winter months, I just don’t pay to run in the cold).  I’ve never run in the Indy Monumental half before, but I’ve run two downtown races so I figured it would pretty much be the same thing.

For this last race, I ran with my friend, Alyssa.  Alyssa decided to run the half marathon (her first half marathon) to raise money for Joy’s House, an adult day service in Indianapolis for adults who need assistant and cannot provide for themselves.  She had a goal of $200 and a finish time of 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Where do I come into play you might be thinking?  My job was to be her running buddy, to keep her motivated when she wanted to quit, to help her with her pacing, and to let her know she was doing a good job.  I was able to run with Alyssa a few times prior to our actual race day but nothing more than 8 miles.  In fact, neither one of us ran more than 8 miles before the race.  (To be honest, I didn’t train as much as I should have for this race but I was in the middle of moving from my house into an apartment and then from an apartment to my new house… it was quite a hectic month for me).  I wasn’t too worried for myself, however, knowing I had run 13.1 miles earlier in the year and I run quite often.  I know how to pace myself for longer runs without over doing it in it the beginning.

Race day arrives and we get to the start line.  There is no race coral and no one is really pushing to be up towards the front.  I find this oddly refreshing compared to my last downtown half marathon start.  It is very relaxed.  The music starts and we are off.

We ran most of the 13.1 miles with a couple of walk breaks and lots of water breaks to ensure hydration.  In the end, not only did Alyssa exceed her $200 fundraising goal, but she also finished her very first half marathon in just 2 hours and 24 minutes (6 minutes under her goal).   I am so proud of her and I’m so glad I was a part of it!  Way to go!


Alyssa and I with our finisher medals and bananas!

Sometimes You Need a Motivational Talk

Today was just one of those days.  I was sleeping so well and I didn’t want to get out of bed so I snoozed… now I’m running 10 minutes behind schedule.  I opt for my morning coffee with coconut milk and rush out the door with the plan of eating breakfast at my desk.  One thing leads to another and I’ve forgotten to eat and the kids are coming in for the day.  I’m hungry, I’m irritable… I’m HANGRY and the kids notice.  I quick eat a Lara Bar that I have stashed in my desk drawer to hold me over until lunch.  But the tone has been set for the day….  It’s an especially long day just because right after school I rush to tutor for an hour and I don’t typically get home until around 5:15 (I know that doesn’t sound like, but I leave the house at 6:25 AM).

The heat index is reading 102 degrees outside.  YUCK!  Thank goodness I’m not scheduled to run today but I’m in desperate need of lifting.  I haven’t lifted in who knows when.  But all I want to do is sit on the couch and turn on the TV.  So what do I do?  I call my trusted best friend to give me a little motivational pep talk.  She told me about her supersets, how I can get it done in 30 minutes, and be on my merry way.  That was all it took.  As soon as I got home, I put on my workout clothes so I had no excuse.  I was out the door and off the to the gym.  And you know what?  She was right.  With the use of supersets, I was in and out (warmup and stretch included) in exactly 30 minutes.

I’m so thankful for friends who not only promote healthy habits but live them as well instead of justify sitting around and being lazy.  Thanks Kimberly!

Today’s Workout: 4 sets of 8 reps per exercise

  • Stretch
  • Superset 1 – Weighted barbell squat, Dead lift
  • Superset 2 – Dumbbell step up (8 per side), 1-legged Dead lift (8 per side)
  • Superset 3 – Dumbbell Walking lunges (8 per side), Dumbbell Sumo Squats
  • 25 pushups
  • 50 abs exercises
  • 25 pushups
  • 50 abs exercises
  • Stretch


OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon Part 2: Anxiety & Aspirations

I signed up for the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon back in November, thinking I would have plenty of time to train appropriately and sufficiently for this mini-marathon.  Little did I know that my gym would go out of business, the new gym I joined wouldn’t open until March, and the weather would suck so bad that I wouldn’t be able to run outside very often.  I got a couple 8-milers and one 10-miler run in before the race but nothing like I had when I trained over the summer for the Women’s Half-Marathon in September.  On my last long run, my left hip-flexor felt really tight and was sore for an entire week.  I was really worried that I was going to pull something during the race.

Needless to say, when I went into the week leading up to the race, I was a bit anxious.  My anxiety doubled when I checked the weather forecast… rain 40% chance.  Of course – 87 degrees, sunny, and beautiful all week long and then Friday and Saturday hit and the temperature is supposed to drop and rain all weekend.  Perfect.  Not only did I not properly train for this run, I’m worried about pulling my hip-flexor, and now it’s going to rain.  I checked the weather again on Wednesday, the percentage had moved up to 80%.  I cannot tell you how much I prayed to God that the rain would hold off long enough for everyone to get through the race, but just in case I headed to Blue Mile, picked up some Body Glide, new wicking socks, and a dry-fit shirt.

Friday night, I headed to Olive Garden with some of my friends to carb it up to prep for my race.  Two helpings of salad, a breadstick, and an entire plate of spaghetti with meat sauce –  Delicious! (Yes – I ate it all)  I headed to bed around 10:30 PM, by midnight I was starting to get a bit anxious about not getting enough sleep for my race.  You know that feeling when you are lying in bed and you think to yourself, “If I go to sleep now, I’ll get 5 1/2 hours of sleep…. if I fall asleep now, I’ll get 5 hours of sleep.”  Yea – that was totally me Friday early Saturday morning.

My alarm went off at 5 AM and I had no choice but to get up.  35,000 people all heading downtown equals limited parking places which means no hitting the snooze button.  I check the weather – cloudy 0% chance of rain.  Hallelujah, an answered prayer!  I went through my morning race rituals, woke up my driver cheerleader husband, got him ready, and out the door we went.  We got to the outskirts of downtown Indianapolis and the traffic was horrific.  It was 6:30 AM and I’m supposed to be in my corral at 7:00 AM.  I’m starting to get sweaty palms and heart palpitations.  I HATE being late to anything.  In the meantime, my husband was laughing at me and telling me to chill out.  We had plenty of time, he said.  Little did he know of the parking issues we will have once we get there (plus my issues with reading a map and not knowing downtown very well).  Eventually he had to drop me off so I could get to my corral on time and he went off in search of a parking spot.

I found my spot, thoroughly stretched, because I did not want to injure myself nor did I want to have to walk at any point in time during my race because of a pulled muscle.  The weather was cool, there was a slight breeze, and it was cloudy but there was no rain in sight.  I was one happy girl!  God is so good!

I took off at a relatively slow pace due to the traffic jam that is inevitable once you cross the start line.  Weaving in and out, running up on the sidewalk to avoid traffic, and merging back in when I could no longer run up there – my starting time wasn’t where I had hoped it to be.  My goal was to break my first marathon time of 2 hours and 2 minutes, but things weren’t looking so good.  Once I got passed the first 3 miles, I got into my groove.  In fact, miles 3-6 were pretty groovy.  As I got onto the racetrack, things got a little congested, but being from the east coast and walking through Time Square in New York on multiple occasions, one becomes good at maneuvering their way through the masses.  It was when I hit mile 10 that I noticed my feet starting to blister, my hip-flexors were getting tight, things were not looking/feeling good.

Being my second half-marathon, I know that the first 10 miles are easy, it is the last 3 miles that get you.  At this point it is all about mind over matter.  You have to mentally push yourself to continue.  You cannot give in to your body when you are pushing for a goal.  I could feel my toe starting to bruise on my left foot, blisters were forming on the sides of my big toes despite the body glide and fancy new socks, I was getting tired.  I threw a quick prayer to God asking him to give me strength, to carry me those last 3 miles to the finish line.  Over and over again I had a silent conversation with God asking for strength, for willpower, and for the pain to subside just long enough for me to finish.

And there it was, the mile 13 marker.  All that stood between me and my goal was 0.1 mile.  I took everything I had in me and I went for the finish line.  I sped up, gave it all I got, passed a number of people along the way, and crossed the finish line.  I had no idea how I did, but I soon got a text from my Dad saying, “Thumbs up on finishing in 2 hours!”  I had done it!  I had beat my last time by 2 minutes for an official time of 2 hours and 3 seconds.

I know in my heart that I did not do this alone.  “Let all that I am praise the LORD; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me.” – Psalm 103:1-2

Official Time - 2:00:03 Age Division - 380/1,816 Gender Division - 2,022/8,977 Overall Place - 7,206

Official Time – 2:00:03
Age Division – 380/1,816
Gender Division – 2,022/8,977
Overall Place – 7,206

Carmel KeyBank 8K – April 20, 2013

Let me preface this blog with that all week long it was been 80 degrees and sunny here in Indiana.  Then Thursday comes with rainstorms and a cold front.  Friday morning arrives, no sun, no open toe shoes, no short sleeve shirts… major bummer.  Where did Spring go???  And of course, it had to be the day before my 8K.

So I get up this morning around 6 AM , mind you, the 8K doesn’t start until 8 AM, but there is limited parking.  Parking at huge events gives me anxiety because I don’t want to be driving around for 20 minutes looking for a place to park.   Knowing that the Carmel Marathon and Half Marathon start at 7:30 AM, I busted over to Carmel to ensure a good spot. Once a good parking spot was secured, I proceeded to sit in my car for 30 minutes or so with the heat on to stay warm.

I forgot to mention that it was freakin’ cold outside this morning.  I loathe running in jackets and after my jacket debacle at last year’s KeyBank 8K (the ties kept hitting me in the face), I decided to layer it up this year.  So I geared up with a running tank, long sleeve dry-fit shirt, and my race shirt over that, long pants, ear warmers, and running gloves.  Once I got out of my car, this kept me warm for the length of time it took me to get to the only open building in the plaza which took all of 5 minutes to walk there.  I took the advantage of the warm building to update my Twitter status and stretch for a few minutes before it was time to head back out into the cold.

As I was walking towards the start line, a voice calls out to me and says, “Hey, aren’t you late?”

I said, “Excuse me?”

“Didn’t the race start like 30 minutes ago?”  I look over to see who is talking to me and it happens to be some kid at the National Guard tent.  So I politely told him that the marathon and half marathon began at 7:30 AM and I would be participating in the 8K which starts in a few minutes, so no I wasn’t late.  I am never late for a race.  He wished me luck and I went to find my place in the corral.

After saying high to a few people that I knew, it was time to start.  I started my mapmyrun app on my phone, pushed play on my Run Playlist, and took off.  Guns and Roses’ Welcome to the Jungle set my run to a good start and a good pace.  There is something about rock that just puts me in a good run mood.  There is nothing like it.  I quickly and easily set my pace for the first mile and got into my groove.  Before I knew it, I had already hit mile 1, according to my app I had averaged an 8:22 mile.  Not too bad considering I had been consistently running around my neighborhood at an 8:54 mile.

Then came the first hill, I remember this hill from last year.  Except last year it was misting rain, my hood was tied so that it covered my ears, and the loose strings kept smacking me in the face… luckily this was not the case.  It was sunny and the wind was at a minimum and I found a couple people to follow.  I rounded the corner onto Keystone Avenue and that was the end of Mile 2 with an average pace of 8:01.

I actually really enjoyed running Mile 3.  It was mostly all on Keystone Ave.  I guess I loved this part the most because a gap had formed and I was running alone.  There were no crowds in front of me to maneuver around, no one creeping up behind me, it was just me, the pavement, and my music (which at this point was Motley Crue Don’t Go Away Mad and Rob Zombie Dragula).  You know how sometimes when you are running, you have someone that you are either keeping in your sights or you are trying to pass?  I had a teenage boy that I had seen right before the start of the race and he had just took off like a bouncing bunny in the beginning.  Well now I had him in my sight.  That’s a good feeling.  End of Mile 3.

I took the exit ramp up to the roundabout on 126th Street and Thunderstruck came on.  I’m not sure what it is about Thunderstruck that really gets you amped up.  Maybe its because they play it before sporting events and NFL games, whatever it is, I put that song at the PERFECT point in my playlist.  This was it, this was my time to start passing people.  See you later teenage boy, I will see you at the finish line.  So long old dude that passed me in mile 2.  And that was my Mile 4 – average pace 7:45.

Last mile to go and I caught up to my former personal trainer.  Last year she ran the half marathon so I was surprised to see her running the 8K.  I know she is a fast runner so I felt pretty good that I had caught up to her.  The wind started to pick up at this point and instead of trying to pass her, I snuck behind her at let her take the brunt of the wind for me.  She taught me well.  And so this was it, she would speed up, I would speed up, she would slow down, I would slow down.  Eventually she looked behind at me and smiled and I told her to get it.  She sped up.  I couldn’t keep up entirely but the gap wasn’t too big between us.

And so it was, the last leg of the race, the finish line in my sight.  I ran with focus and crossed the finish line.  Mile 5 – 8:11.

Now – here is the kicker, according to my app, I averaged an 8:07 pace and ran 5.16 miles.  According to the race online results, I averaged an 8:22 pace and an 8K is theoretically 4.97 miles… so who knows which one is really correct.  I talked with my former personal trainer and her app said she was running an 8:13 minute mile for the last leg we were on.  It’s all good.

I head over to the Race Result tent, wait in line for 30 minutes for the program to start working but since I’m first in line, I dare not give up my spot.  She prints my ticket, BOOM 3rd place in my age division.  I’ll take it! (and the special pint glass you are giving away to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place Age Division winners).  The boys at the Core Power tent gave me a free case of ready to drink protein shakes to congratulate me on my 3rd place as well.  It was a good race!

KeyBank 8K Official Time - 41:35 Overall Place - 88/686 Gender Place - 23/417 Division Place - 3/52

KeyBank 8K
Official Time – 41:35
Overall Place – 88/686
Gender Place – 23/417
Division Place – 3/52

My First Power Lifting Meet

My friend, Ashley, set a personal fitness goal to compete in a Power Lifting Meet.  This is her story:
My First Power Lifting Meet
by Ashley Johnson
What drives me absolutely mad is hearing “I don’t want to get bulky, so I won’t lift heavy weights!”
Well after moving a total of 1255lbs in one day, 5 months of training, and totaling 500lbs in my first power lifting meet, I do not think I am one bit bulky….do you?
First things first, I got a coach that knew what she was doing. I wasn’t about to do this on my own, risk an injury, and not get max training in. Next on the list was to chose a meet date and pay my fees. This meant I was locked in, no backing out!
For 16 weeks, I followed a program in the gym and spoke to my coach on a weekly basis for critiques. Some weeks were awesome, and I felt like a super star in the gym under the iron. Other weeks I felt sluggish, weak and unmotivated (all driven by NUTRITION)!
Regardless, I followed the prescribed program, and before I knew it the day was here!
Friday afternoon I drove down with my coach to Cincinnati, Ohio to “weigh-in” as power lifting is much like wresting and that you compete in a weight class. Then I had to relax as much as possible and not let my nerves get the best of me.
Ironically, I slept like a baby that night, and woke up ready to lift some heavy weight.
Saturday morning I arrived at the facility with my coach at about 7:45am. The meet started at 9am, but I needed to warm up, stretch and do my mobility work to keep my joints open and pain free. As soon as I got there the names were on the board as to what order we would be squatting. I was #6. Honestly I was just thrilled I wasn’t first!
Squats started and I nailed my first weight at 135lbs, second was a little harder but good lift at 155. My third attempt was 175, but a prior injury flared up and I missed the lift. No biggie, I got 2/3 lifts in the squat round.
Bench was up next. I was a nervous wreck as bench has been my weakest lift and most difficult as far as technique for me. My coach was amazing, and continued to keep me focused on all my cues. “Shoulders back, lats tight, squeeze the bar, and heels down.” All three attempts were good, 90lbs, 100lbs, and 105lbs.
The last lift of the day was deadlifts, and this is by far my favorite. There is something about walking up to a heavy bar, and just picking it up. My three attempts on the deadlift came up well, and with ease. 205lbs, 225lbs and 240lbs.
In the meet they total the most weight on each lift for a finishing total. My total for my first meet was 500lbs. This was my goal, and I achieved it! The amount of weight I moved throughout the day was 1255lbs, my central nervous system was pooped, but my adrenalin was still going strong. I had finished my first powerlifting meet, successfully!
I wasn’t out there to compete or try to win anything, I was trying to compete against myself, and to see how much weight I could move. I was not the strongest, the weakest, the youngest or oldest. There were people of all ages, skill level, and muscle beefiness (yes I just made up that word). Everyone there was willing to help, support you, and especially cheer you on! It was the best experience I have had in a long time. I felt proud of myself, because it took months of dedication with both physical and mental strength to get there. I had the TIME OF MY LIFE!!!!
Check out a video montage of Ashley’s meet HERE.

Bop to the Top

Running up 36 flights of stairs shouldn’t be too hard. Heck – I take the stairs whenever possible and usually I’m lugging shopping bags, luggage, or my purse while I’m doing it.  Plus, I think I’m in pretty good shape.  This should be cake…. Wrong. Dead wrong.

Bop to the Top is a stair race in the America One building in downtown Indianapolis.  I’ve run my fair share of 5Ks, 8Ks, 10Ks, and even a half marathon, but never have I raced up a bunch of stairs.  I didn’t even know what to expect or how to train for something like this.  So naturally, I didn’t.  Maybe that was poor planning on my part.  I wanted to start my race season off in January this year rather than wait until March like I did last year.  I had already taken November and December off so I was ready to get back into the swing of racing.  Bop to the Top sounded perfect because it was indoors and I’m not a huge fan of running outdoors in the bitter cold.

The way the race is set up, you can seed yourself based on your previous year’s time or your latest 5K time.  Since I had never ran up 36 flights of stairs before, I wasn’t sure where to seed myself so I went with my last 5K time: 24:10.  I’m glad I did that because if you opted out of seeding, the earliest time to race would have been 11:00 AM (the race started at 8:30 AM).  So I was scheduled to race at 8:40 AM.  After stretching in the lobby and warming up, I nervously said goodbye to my husband who was patiently waiting for me in the lobby.  I rounded the corner, approached the line for Stairwell A, waited, and watched.  It’s a very calculated system.  The event volunteers have you stand on the mat and wait exactly 30 seconds from when the person in front of you started to give them enough time to get a start.  This prevents congestion in the already small stairwell.   It’s also a fairly quick process and keeps the lines moving.

Soon it was my turn.  My heart was racing.  I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I just prayed I didn’t trip up the stairs and bust my shin open.  I took off skipping a stair at a time.  Not sure if that was a good move or not because I got tired pretty fast.  My thought was that I wanted to put enough distance between me and the person behind me before I needed to slow down.  Soon I was just running step-by-step.  As I was running past floor 6, 7, and 8, I noticed my pulse starting to quicken.  By floor 10 my lungs started to sting and my heart was beating even faster.  I thought to myself, I’m not even half way there – this can’t be happening…

Then came the slowing down to a quick walk up the stairs.  There was no way I could run.  What the hell was I thinking not training for this?!  My lungs are burning, it’s hard to breathe, and I’m utilizing the stair rails next to me to make sure I don’t trip up the stairs as my legs are starting to slow down.  The hardest part of this race was that you are by yourself. There are no cheering sidelines to tell you to keep going. This is all about you and you alone. You are the only thing that will keep you from stopping and taking a break. Finally, I saw another human being. It was the first aid person making sure no one was going to pass out around floor 18.  He offered a quick, “your halfway there.”  And that was it.  Floor 20,21,22 … Thank GOD I’m almost there.

By now my lungs are ON FIRE.  I’ve never felt this kind of pain in my lungs in all my life.  I cannot for the life of me figure out what is going on, but I persevere and keep going.  I hear the person behind me gaining on me.  There is something about hearing the person behind you that gives you a little more pep to your step.  Floor 33, 34, 35… OH MY GOSH when will this end?!  And there it was, the open door with the blue mat and volunteers to guide you to water.

My lungs along with my heart are in my throat.  I cannot breathe let alone say thank you to the man who cut my timing chip off my shoe.  I walk into the room where the shirts are (because you didn’t get your race shirt until you made it to the top), got my shirt, and found my way to the water room.  I can hear the poor guy even before I see him.  A college-aged boy is losing his breakfast (or drinks from the night before) all in the trash can.  He really must have given it all he got because he was best friends with that trash can for a good 6 minutes.  Me, on the other hand, I am now coughing up a lung, my eyes are watering, and I can’t even stand on the elevator ride down.   Every time I coughed it felt like I had smoked a pack of cigarettes the night before. It hurt SO BAD.  As soon as the doors open, I find myself a nice seat against the wall where I proceed to cover my head, cough some more, and continue to catch my breath.  My poor husband (who is still on the other side of the building because no one without a race bib was allowed back there) was wondering where I was and if I was okay.  After about another 5 minutes, I was able to come find him.

It was really an interesting site – I’m trying to find the results board and EVERYONE around me is coughing.  I’ve never seen anything like it!   My husband was getting the heebie jeebies convinced he is going to catch something.  Finally, I make it over the board, checked my score, took some pictures, and headed home to take a much-needed nap.

36 flights of stairs, 780 steps, 500 ft straight up, monies benefit Riley’s Children’s Hospital of Indianapolis… Next year I think I’ll do the Triple!  Who’s with me?

Bop to the Top
Official Time – 7:06 Minutes
Division Place – 3 out of 66
Overall Place – 206 out of 1067