The most amazing Carrot cake bread. Period.

The most amazing Carrot cake bread. Period.

New program, new goals, new recipes! Which has led me to this delicious 80 day obsession Carrot Cake Bread recipe. Oh yum. I started a new 13 week program last week and it has a somewhat specific eating plan. Which means, it tells me what types of foods I need to eat before my workout, after my workout and then what kinds to eat every 2-3 hours during the day outside of that. It actually makes meal time super easy and keeps me from getting hangry (which translates to slightly insane, super cranky irritable mother and wife). I choose from a huge list of clean eating foods what I want to eat for each meal.

This Carrot cake bread is the perfect combination for my preworkout meal, with veggies, protein and carbs. It is added sugar free, gluten free and is low carb and high protein. I advise cooking the day before because it does take a few minutes to blend together and about 25 minutes to cook. And when it’s time to workout and that preworkout is kicking in nobody wants to wait around!!!

Carrot Cake Bread Recipe
1 cup shredded carrots
2 eggs
1/4 c oatmeal (gluten free oats if desired)
3/4 tsp baking powder
dash nutmeg
generous dashes of cinnamon
splash of vanilla extract
coconut oil or spray

Preheat oven to 350. Combine carrots & oats in food processor or blender, pulse until finely ground. Add remainder of ingredients and blend well. Pour into greased mini loaf pan or muffin tins (it will fill 3 muffins) and bake for approximately 25-27 minutes until edges look firm and toothpick in middle comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10+ minutes.

I sliced and reheated mine in the morning and added a smidge of almond butter. This was SO light and spongy and tasted like such a treat! It’s not sweet but the carrots add a subtle sweetness and the nutmeg and cinnamon add that delicious flavor. I would eat any time of the day honestly! It definitely will satisfy that “bakery” craving if you have one, guilt-free!!


Spartan Recovery – bye sore muscles!

Spartan Recovery – bye sore muscles!

After my first Spartan Sprint (read about it here!) I was mega sore – especially in my upper body. My traps, forearms and shoulders were feeling the various obstacles that I had to carry!! I was so thankful for the chance to test out and review some Real Time Pain Relief products to help with my recovery.

I’ve used things like Arnica Gel in the past, I love all natural products and Real Time Pain Relief Hemp Oil Plus and the Sports cream both are all natural products. It’s pretty nice to be able to know what all the ingredients are on the back of the bottle! And the bottle size is huge! About 3x what you usually get at the typical drug store. I had a hard time deciding which one to use so did both – Sports cream on my legs and the Hemp oil plus on my upper body sore muscles. Within a day or two my soreness in my arms was dissipating and I felt back to normal! I did something to my left inner groin muscle that the pain cream wasn’t able to help with – but that muscle was sore before the race and I definitely aggravated it with running in extremely muddy conditions and climbing over obstacles – almost 2 weeks post race, I am finally almost fully recovered from that muscle strain.



Things I love about these – they are a lightweight lotion, easy to apply and they dry quickly (unlike arnica gels that I have used in the past). They both have a very mild peppermint scent – definitely NOT like your Grandfather’s BenGay, it is very minimal and barely noticeable. I also love that there is no intense “icy hot” feeling with either of these. You do get a bit of a tingle with the menthol in the sports cream, but it’s not like Tiger’s Balm or actual Icy Hot. Overall I give these very high ratings, there’s not much I don’t like about them! The higher price tag reflects the larger bottle size, but there are great deals on convenience bundles on the Real Time Pain Relief website – check it out here!



I hosted a giveaway on Instagram last week along with this review and two lucky winners will receive their own bottle of the Hemp Oil Plus and Real Time Sports Cream! Congrats to the winners! Stay up to date with Real Time Pain Relief for specials and sales at Instagram here and follow them on Twitter here!

Spartan Sprint Race Review & what you should know before you do your first one!

Spartan Sprint Race Review & what you should know before you do your first one!

To say I was nervous going into this race was an understatement! I’m a runner, and upper body strength is ALWAYS my weakness. Coming off of my marathon in March, I felt especially weak. I hopped into lots of strength training using Beachbody on Demand, an at home workout program streaming system. I’ve done numerous programs on it before, so I was able to pick and choose particular strength ones from past workout programs and focus on upper body.

A friend who was also doing the race goes to a gym called Kinetic Heights that focuses on obstacle course racing and training, so I went with her twice to her gym to work out on more obstacles specific equipment. They offered a training program which included programs from Beachbody on Demand as live classes as part of the training, coincidentally! The gym was awesome and would be really fun to attend for training, but it’s a bit pricey for me – I’d rather pay the $99 for Beachbody on Demand for a year than that price + for a month of membership! If you want to try out Beachbody on Demand for a two week free trial, click here! Grip strength was definitely my biggest weakness – I wasn’t strong enough for the wider monkey bars or the swinging rings, or anything with a small grip. This was definitely something I could have worked on while marathon training, but I kept forgetting about it and was just generally fatigued from marathon training in general.

The race I ran was the Spartan Sprint in Concord, NC on 4/7/18. I ran with a team of 4 other people – one of my fellow soccer players from college, her husband, his runner friend and brother-in-law. If you’ve never ran one before – I HIGHLY suggest running it with a small team, especially with someone who has ran this type of race before. One of the guys on our team had done similar events before. There were a few wall obstacles that I could NOT have done without his help – he also knew the best ways to help us up without it being awkward or dangerous.

So here’s a list of the obstacles:IMG_20180407_114535259_HDR

Some of these were absolutely manageable. The obstacles seemed to start off easy and then get harder towards the end (when you’re feeling fatigued, of course!). Everything was made a bit more challenging because there was a steady light drizzle most of the morning, and the ground was complete mud everywhere on the course. Our start time was 12:15pm, so there were hundreds if not thousands of feet who trampled through that mud before us. In some places my shoes almost got sucked off into the mud, it was that deep; and running was a challenge because of stability and falling.IMG_20180407_144308160

I will say I enjoyed the sand bag obstacles – you hefted a big old sand bag on your shoulders and had to navigate through a muddle trail, down a small creek bank and back up, which was very slick and hard to do without falling. I felt like my 2 kids really prepared me for being able to heft a weight around without falling, haha! The gravel bucket challenge was harder – similar challenge but you had to carry a bucket through a muddy trail. My fingers were about to fall off towards the end of the loop! That grip strength coming into play. I also really enjoyed the Atlas Carry – huge concrete ball that you had to lift and carry a short distance, put down, do 5 burpees and carry back. I felt super strong doing that one!

So the ones I COULD do helped counter balanced me not being able to do the monkey bars and rings. I also missed the spear throw, I couldn’t do the rope climb (have to work on that S technique!). There was also an angled wall with various things to hold onto and climb across I couldn’t get the hang of. There may have been one more I wasn’t able to do. I dutifully did 30 burpees for each challenge I was unable to do. Definitely check out the correct way to do a spartan burpee – it’s not as bad as a regular burpee, in my opinion! I definitely got winded but I found them manageable. I was also incredibly annoyed at the amount of people I saw walk past an obstacle and not do burpees. But, I guess if you want to pay the spartan price to walk a muddy 5k, so be it! In the open category, there is no burpee enforcement, unlike the elite categories (so I’m told).

spartan mud burpees
Burpees in the mud are so fun!! HA!

There were a few high rigs to climb – netting of some sort – which were fine, I was just nervous about slipping at the top while switching to the other side so took it slow. Definitely doable, as long as you are not scared of heights. One of them was quite high.

spartan rig
Here I am at the top of the rig, coming down the other side!

My team was awesome in helping each other out and we all ran the whole thing together. One of the runners of the group was our pace setter – he was always the first one to start us up running again and the rest of us were working to get our pace back up – but he always circled around to make sure were were all together. It definitely helped us to get going again rather than spending extra time walking! We got soaking wet and muddy from head to toe, but the whole experience was awesome and we already started planning on doing a beast together in the fall! Bring on a new challenge!!!!

Spartan fire jump
About to do the fire jump and run through the finish line! Love this team picture! I’m on the far right 🙂 

In conclusion: before you do your first spartan: work on your grip strength, and there are tons of ways to do this at home, at the playground, etc! Google it and there are some good ideas. Work your whole body during workouts. You need your legs just as much for lifting as your arms. Do practice burpees. Run with a team or partner who has done obstacle races before. Expect to get completely muddy and soaked! Also, I somehow got poison ivy or oak or something on my arms from the race. Do wear long sleeves if weather permits!!

spartan group shot
Team Avoiding Burpees!! We finished in 1:58. Clearly I wasn’t ready for this picture to be taken. I’m reminiscing about the burpees, perhaps.


Myrtle Beach Marathon PR!!

Myrtle Beach Marathon PR!!

MBMLogo-Updated-copyI had some big goals going into my second marathon, Myrtle Beach Marathon 2018. I ran the same marathon the year before, as a first timer! It was a huge learning experience and I fell way short of my own expectations, going out too hard for my training and really struggling the second half of the marathon, struggling to clock in at 4:48 after running a 3:45 pace for the first half! Also, I didn’t have a solid fueling plan and I ate all my fuel by mile 16. Whoops! I planned this year much differently; I fortunately avoided serious injury during my training and got all my long runs in as planned.

The race was on March 3rd, 2018 at 6:30am. This year’s weather forecast was 40’s and windy, which ended up being a bit brutal for a good part of the course (literally being pushed backwards by the wind at some points!) but hey, everyone who ran had the same challenge and we all kept going! I ran with a hydration pack, filled with my favorite electrolyte solution Hydrate, which I had trained with and I felt would keep me more consistently fueled than depending on water stations during the race. This was a great plan, until I ran out of it around mile 20! Yikes. During one of my 20 mile training runs I ran out of water too, so I added 8 more ounces this time around but logically thinking, 8 ounces is not enough for race pace + 6 more miles. There were fuel stations every mile after mile 20, so I used them but really wished I had more of my own. The temperature had gone up into the 50’s by this point in the race and the sun was shining. My long sleeved jacket was really making me too hot at this point in the race, but I would have had to unbuckle the hydration pack and take it off to take off my jacket, and I really didn’t trust myself to get started back up again after stopping to do this. And I couldn’t do it running. The fatigue was pretty serious ya’ll!

My fuel plan was to eat Nature’s Bakery Fig bars around mile 8-9 and again around mile 16-17. They pack about 220 calories each of straight carbs, they don’t bother my stomach and I get a solid energy boost from them. They don’t sponsor me or pay me to share this information, but maybe they should! They are seriously straight fuel! My kids like them too. I used these during the Ragnar Trail Ultra I ran last fall, and they were superb then as well. I also had a baked potato and gel on reserve. Yes, baked potato. I would have eaten it too except it was in my hydration pack pocket, which I couldn’t reach and didn’t want to take it off or stop to get it. Again, fatigue was strong and stopping just didn’t sound like a good idea. My concept with eating “real food” and running with the hydration pack was that although it would take longer to eat real food-(I have to walk while eating it, I’m a big time mouth breather while running and I’d probably choke/inhale it while trying to eat and run)-it would fuel me better and I’d save time not stopping to walk through hydration stops.

Although a nice idea, I feel like walking to eat the bars was in the end, a waste of time. (There goes my Nature’s Bakery sponsorship potential). I don’t know how long it took me to eat them, but it was at least a few minutes each time and that basically cancelled out some of my faster miles that I ran. So I’m saving them for relay races and I’m going to go with gels or something else next time around that’s quick and on the go.  I will say, I never hit “the wall” that a lot of marathoners do, so I feel like my nutrition plan was pretty good as far as calories in. My legs just continuously got fatigued, which is to be expected, I think. Does anyone run a marathon and just feel perky and great the whole time??? Around mile 20-23 I was running with a very nice lady who was keeping a solid 9 minute mile pace, which was a struggle for me at that time, and I was able to keep pace with her for a few miles and chat to pass the time. I walked through a hydration stop and ate a gel packet and then I lost her but I appreciated the distraction while it lasted!

A lot of people say marathons are mental, I guess that’s true. I do a lot of self pep talks, some of which may have been out loud towards the end. It was fairly spread out at that point so I don’t think anyone heard me talking to myself, but I wouldn’t have really cared anyways at that point! That last 10k really is the longest 10k you’ll ever run. Walking isn’t an option for me, because it still hurts and you’re just taking longer to get to the finish.

I crossed the finish line in 3:58, thankfully achieving my number 1 goal, which was to finish under 4 hours. Hey, I had a minute plus to spare! My number 2 goal was to beat my brother’s marathon time from last year, which was 3:48. Ten minutes doesn’t seem that long and I ponder that if I had fueled differently and taken more Hydrate in my pack, could I have done that? The world will never know. And goal number 3, which was a long shot, was to Boston Qualify which would mean running under 3:45 but probably would need to be closer to 3:40. I realized over the course of my training that I wasn’t doing enough to achieve goal #3, but I still kept it as a goal. I’ve pulled races out before that I didn’t think I could, but I think the marathon is a distance that it’s pretty difficult to do that with, HA! I wasn’t necessarily planning to run Boston in 2019 anyways even if I qualified…so it was really more of a pride goal than anything.

Overall, I was pleased with this race. I shaved 50 minutes off of my marathon time and I’ve read that sub 4 is actually pretty difficult, and that only 25% of runners achieve a sub 4. I’m not sure I believe that statistic as it seems like over 50% of the race was in front of me, haha, but I feel good about that performance and all the hard work and training and time I put into this race. And I’ve said this before, but for right now I am hanging up the marathon running shoes indefinitely. The time consumption for training and the toll it takes on my body was hard this training cycle. I definitely would like to do another half marathon and am considering doing it while I’m still up there with mileage. Realistically though I probably will take a break from longer distances until the fall. I am really hoping to do the Ragnar Trail Carolinas race again (as a regular run, not an ultra!) which would be 16 miles and then from there add in a half marathon at some point in November or December. I’ll keep you posted! Thanks for reading!

Post marathon cheer squad!


Run Myrtle Beach Marathon 2018 is 4 weeks away! An update on my training.

Run Myrtle Beach Marathon 2018 is 4 weeks away! An update on my training.

When I started training 8 weeks ago, I freaked out and thought I didn’t have enough time to build up my mileage with only 12 weeks! What a misstep on my part! But it turns out, it wasn’t a big deal at all. I had a solid foundation – I had just run a 32 mile race in October; I took most of November off of running but still averaged 45-60 minutes of strength and cardio conditioning via Beachbody’s Core de force program.

So here we are, 4 weeks out! Training has been really, really good. Such a difference from last year, when I was significantly struggling on my long runs since I wasn’t fueling properly; and then hurt my foot 5 weeks out from the race. I changed my diet to be more healthy carbs and fat centered this training cycle and it’s worked out really well. Last year I was consuming way too much protein and randomly trying to carb cycle around longer runs. Don’t do it. It doesn’t work at the marathon level. I have been using orthopedics in my shoes (Dr. Scholl’s running inserts) and they have been working great to prevent my foot problems.

What foot problems, you ask? So for a few years now I’ve had to always wear supportive shoes – going barefoot out of the question because of a weird nerve pain in my feet when I walked. Whatevs, minor – and then while running a 15 miler with my brother 5 weeks before the marathon, my foot started hurting, was swollen, painful to run on. All the while I was still having this nerve pain. I went to the podiatrist and he didn’t think the two issues were related, gave me a topical cream for the foot inflammation (xrays came back fine) and told me I tied my shoes too tight most likely in regards to the nerve pain. Ummmm… no. Anyways, the topical cream didn’t seem to be doing much – I couldn’t run at all those last 5 weeks before the race in an effort for it to heal. And I max out at about an hour on the elliptical or stationary bike. It was awful. In desperation, a week before the race, I had a long session with Dr. Google about foot pain, and decided based on this info session to start wearing some toe spacers. Pretty much instantly my nerve pain disappeared, and within a day or two my other foot pain vanished. Basically my metatarsals are pinching or rubbing the nerves, but when you make sure they don’t get too close and space them out at the toes, they are fine. So, podiatrist, they were related, thank you very little. I went out and got over the counter inserts and with my homemade toe spacers (foam toe bandages)I was able to run quite comfortably with no foot pain for the race.

Moral of the story – wear supportive shoes and get orthopedic inserts. This training cycle, I threw on a pair of OLD running sneakers to walk to the bus stop to get my son, and then I wore them around the house for about an hour afterwards. I could feel my foot a little bit but ignored it – because I was WALKING. It swelled up later that night. I couldn’t believe it! Those shoes immediately went in the trash; and as fortune may have it I ended up getting a nasty head cold and didn’t run for a week or so and the foot healed up quickly. It’s quite interesting the different orthopedic inserts make though. I currently really like the Brooks Adrenaline shoe – I got a pair while training for the Ragnar and have been wearing them. They are getting to the end of their life cycle so I just got a new pair – and had foot pain when I put them on just walking. I got the Dr Scholls running inserts and swapped them in ($15 at Wal-mart) and perfect. I’ve seen $40-60 inserts at Dick’s, but since the $15 ones seem to be working for me, haven’t felt the need to splurge on the others.

My new shoes! Just ran 7 miles in them and they feel great.

Back to this training cycle – I ended up with 131 miles in January, which I’m pretty happy with, considering there was a week plus where I had the worst head cold and it was freezing out, and I just didn’t want to push it and end up with bronchitis or something more serious. I did manage my long run during that time (it warmed up on the weekend) which was only a 13 mile run, and I felt good about that. This past weekend was my longest – 20 miles. Tomorrow I will scale back to 15 and then go back up to 20 the next weekend – and that will be my peak week! Then it’s a 3 week taper down to the race weekend.

I’m bummed that my two friends who ran the half last year won’t be going this year, but excited that my family will be there to cheer me on. I’m feeling really excited and much more confident about running this race again as my second marathon!

Roasted Spaghetti Squash Carbonara

Roasted Spaghetti Squash Carbonara

I saw this posted on IG and had to try it – a healthier version of pasta carbonara?? Genius!!



I won’t deny it.  Pasta Carbonara tends to be one of my favorite dishes on the planet when I’m in the mood for comfort.  And my entire family is right there with me, even on picky-eating days.  It’s as indulgent as all get out and I am always able to get it on the table in a matter of minutes which is huge.

But my little unsatisfied food brain got to thinking….if Carbonara is so delicious and weeknight savvy with spaghetti pasta…why the heck couldn’t it be with spaghetti squash?    

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Mixed martial arts and health advice!

Mixed martial arts and health advice!

Two things I’ve been up to since my last post here! I had great plans to keep my mileage up by running 2 days a week, one short and one long run, but that has completely dropped off the radar. I started a new workout program a week after the Ragnar Relay, and it has completely kicked my butt, as all Beachbody workouts manage to do! I am 25 days into the 30 day workout and can’t wait to share my results. I should be wrapping up the day before Thanksgiving (Is that good timing or what??) and I will be sharing my results at that time.

The workout program is called Core de Force, and it absolutely has worked my core. Every. single. day.  Much to my chagrin. Who in the world likes working their core??? It hurts!! I really hate it, but then I love it. It’s mixed martial arts, which means a variety of punching, a variety of kicks and then there are agility related cardio “spikes” or intervals thrown in between the martial arts aspect. It’s completely different than any workout I have done before – there are no weights, but lots of push-up variations to improve muscle strength.

As a health coach, I also love connecting with like-minded fitness individuals and companies – so today I’m excited to share with you this graphic from Elysium Health! Elysium’s mission is to solve the biggest challenges in health with science, to help people live healthier, longer. Working directly with the world’s leading scientists and clinicians, Elysium translates advances in science and technology into effective, scientifically sound health products that work — like their NAD+ supplement Basis. As a health coach who helps people live healthier lives, I love companies that are working to make people’s lives healthier too! For more information,  check out their YouTube channel, or connect with them on Facebook.

Check out my health tip in their company graphic below – pretty cool! Do you get four servings of vegetables every day?? Connect with me if you want some support with this – it gets easier, I promise! ElysiumSCBGjpbwp (2)

Ragnar Trail Carolinas – my first Ultra run!

Ragnar Trail Carolinas – my first Ultra run!

Ragnar was a king and hero of early 9th century Scandinavia. He was a conqueror, a wild man, a leader, fearless and free-spirited.

And that’s exactly how you feel when you are done running a Ragnar relay race! You feel like you’ve conquered a huge challenge as a team (which you have!) and you want to go do it again! I had the chance to be a part of an Ultra Ragnar Team for the Ragnar Trail Carolinas race October 6th and 7th this year.

When our team captain Amber asked me to join the team…I was completely nervous I wasn’t going to be able to do it. A standard team for this race is 8 people, who run 16 miles each over the 2 days of the race. Our team as an ultra had 4 people, so 32 miles each. I had just ran my first marathon earlier in the year and struggled. How and why did I think I could run 32!?

I have a love/hate relationship with running. It is time consuming. Your legs always are sore (maybe that’s just me??). So, I wanted to spend the least amount of time running – so only gave myself 9 weeks for training. I don’t recommend this, 12 weeks is a much better time frame. My goal was to get up as close to 40 miles per week at my peak mileage, which was 3 weeks before the race. I was able to get up to mid 30’s for several weeks and then had a successful taper, 40 was too much for me with the amount of time I gave myself. I did have to back down at one point because of several sore spots (injuries in training) and add in extra rest days around that peak mileage time and reduce a run or two. Not worth getting the miles in if it’s going to cause an injury, so I rested and then was able to continue on training.

I would say the number one thing I did which worked REALLY well for me was running on tired legs – doing double day runs. I’d do an AM run and a PM run, and then another AM run the next day to simulate the effect of running on tired legs, which you do at the Ragnar. I recommend doing this very cautiously and not upping mileage significantly (no more than 10% overall for the week) or you will risk injury. I started around 3-5 mile range for the runs and increased up to 7-8 miles for each run. My longest consecutive run was only 13 miles, but I did around 14-15 miles a few times with the double runs.

I also practiced fueling between runs like I would at the Ragnar – lots of carbs that wouldn’t bother my stomach. I found fig bars to work really well as well as baked potatoes, PB&J sandwiches and fruit. I always thought I had a very sensitive stomach because I often had digestive issues while running in the past. After listening to some great runner’s nutrition podcasts, I’ve learned that the quality of carbohydrates does matter. Certain sugars cause the intestines to pull in additional water, which causes that emergency porta potty stop! And everyone is a bit different in what their body likes and doesn’t like.

So onto the race – I went down Thursday night and set up camp with Amber and we camped out there Thursday night. All of the teams started at various times during the day on Friday, depending on their projected run times – everyone needed to be completed by 6pm on Saturday. The first runners were off at 9am with several start times later during the day. My team started at 11am on Friday and we ended up finishing around 2:30pm on Saturday. I was runner #2, so I was ready to go when Amber finished up her first leg around 12:30pm!

Finishing my first leg – 10 miles!

There were 3 trail loops – green, yellow and red. The loops are always run in stoplight order, and you wear a snap bracelet with the loop color you are running (this was definitely needed for the night runs when you were a bit sleepy and prone to forget what loop you were doing!)

My next loop was around 10:30pm, after runner 3-Jillian, 4-Michelle and 1-Amber went again. Headlamp on and ready to – 12.7 miles! I did trip once on a root but thankfully just a very minor bruise and scrape, I fell in dirt, ha! The first loop (yellow) I passed quite a few people walking and it was very enjoyable. The second loop (red) was quite lonely and felt a bit eerie. I barely passed anyone, I got passed a few times but I think I saw a total of one person per mile. It was good motivation to run faster! I started cramping around mile 16, which was right before I went through transition area to do my second loop of the leg. There was a product being promoted and given out for free called Hot Shot, which was supposed to help with cramps. I would have drank pretty much anything to help with cramps at that point. I texted my teammate who was up next because I knew she’d be awake to grab me a hot shot for the transition area. I drank it going through transition and it was AMAZING. It tasted like cayenne pepper mixed with cinnamon and burned my throat for 5 minutes after drinking it, but it completely took away my cramps for the rest of the run. MIRACULOUS! I’m hooked. I drank one before my third leg too to prevent cramps and had no issues.


scrape Ragnar

I have no idea what time I finished, but I vegged out a bit, had some smores at the Village campfire and refueled with some food before going to bed. I had brought some full size “shower wipes” at REI, and they worked amazing. I wiped my entire body off and felt pretty clean after each run! I rested/slept in my tent until my next leg around 7am.

Amber, runner 1, texted me when she was going out for her last 3 mile loop so I had time to get myself dressed and ready. The last leg was my slowest, but I still felt pretty good running it! But yeah, I was pretty glad to be done. The last mile or so was a lot of hills (the finish to every loop was up a long, sloping grassy hill, ugh).

After finishing I was able to relax, have a beer and wait for my teammates to finish up! It started raining about an hour or two after I finished, drizzle turned to steady so our last runner had to run in the rain. Most of the trails were covered with the tree canopy but there were some open spots through meadows and crossing swinging bridges. Michelle finished up the last leg around 2:30pm and we crossed the finish line with her, and our prom dresses!

Ragnar prom 2
Team Off Like a Prom Dress!

Did I forget to mention that team themes are strongly encouraged? There were so many hilarious team names. We went with a prom theme and for our first legs, started running in prom dresses and then discarded them (off like a prom dress!) after the initial start. It was a lot of fun and we decorated our tent site with a disco ball, lights, and had everyone vote for prom queen based on signs we made. Amber won, I think the election was rigged! Haha just kidding Amber.

Overall, Ragnar Trail runs are pretty awesome. To say I loved it would be an understatement. I am trying to plan one for my family to do closer to PA and I am planning on putting together a team for next year’s Carolina Ragnar, but with a team of 8 instead of 4. Less running, more fun! I’d love to hear about your Ragnar experience, have you run one? Would you?



Endurance Diet vs. strength training/HIIT Diet: What I’ve learned.

Endurance Diet vs. strength training/HIIT Diet: What I’ve learned.

In January 2016 I decided to try a crazy thing and follow a specific workout program and nutrition plan. Because what could it hurt?? I ended up loving the nutrition plan and workouts, I found them both sustainable for long term – I lost 20 lbs in four months and have kept it off for over a year and a half now. With my new found fitness regime, it gave me the confidence to do something I never would have attempted to do before but always wanted to – run a marathon.

I ran several half marathons in the past but always got EXTREMELY burnt out running and usually gained weight afterwards because I didn’t want to run for a period of time afterwards. And honestly, in the last 10 years or so, running was always the best way to lose weight that I knew of so I kept going back to it. Now I didn’t need to do it to lose weight; and I had a fallback workout regime for when I needed a break from running. So I ran my first marathon in March 2017!

I was planning to do it once and never again, but before the pain in my legs even subsided I signed up for the same marathon for next year. Because I knew the first one wasn’t my best effort. I felt I had a lot to learn and could do it better and run it stronger; and I wanted to feel good finishing (not sure that’s possible for a marathon, but I’m going to try!!).

This time around, I’m doing things differently. I really struggled for a lot of my long runs marathon training – fatigue, low energy, dead legs. A number of things contributed to this for me, with incorrect fueling before and during running chalking up as numero uno. I read the book recently called The Endurance Diet by Matt Fitzgerald, which talks about the diet of elite athletes – which coincidentally is the same across all continents. They all eat well and eat a diet heavy in carbohydrates. Obviously I am not an elite athlete, I am in the recreational category – but he lays a persuasive argument for the benefits of such a diet and why recreational runners can benefit as well. I’m not going to outline it here, but his research is substantial and definitely convinced me that carb heavy was the way to go. Not just any carbs – think clean eating/whole foods/whole grains/fruit/ oatmeal/potatoes, not sugary cereals or desserts. He outlines the specific food types and many examples of things different athletes eat in his book.

healthy carbs
Some healthy carb examples – beans, brown rice, potatoes, fruit.

I have further proof of this diet working – coincidentally, I followed it in high school. I did fairly well running cross country in high school, and my best year was my freshman year (26th in the Pennsylvania State Championship) where I followed a very strict diet of my own choosing. I don’t know how I came up with this, but I pretty much ate exactly the same high carb foods every day with little variation: a low sugar cereal for breakfast with milk. For lunch: juice, bagel with cream cheese, fruit and pretzels (hello carbs). Dinner was usually a protein, carb, and vegetable. I abstained from the majority of desserts and ate more fruit if I was hungry. After my freshman year, for whatever reason I lightened up on my diet and began including some unhealthier carbs; and in looking back I think diet was a contributing factor to my performance dropping. I still did well but not at the same level as that first year.

Matt Fitzgerald also talks about training in his book; and how most elite athletes do 80-90% of their training at a low intensity and only a small amount at a high to moderate intensity. Which was very surprising, but again – my high school cross country years came back to support. All I did for training during that time was consistently run 3-6 miles at a comfortable pace. Yes, during the season my coach incorporated speed and hill work, but my foundation during the summer was set with low intensity runs. And it worked.

Back to the present day – I attempted to follow my regular workout nutrition plan for marathon training with some higher carb cycle days, and looking back it was a colossal fail. It DID work for up to a half marathon distance, however. I had a PR for the half marathon distance December 2016 with a 1:38 time. But once I started running distances greater than 15 miles I really started struggling. I ended up with a minor foot injury 4 weeks out from the race so my training was cut short early in order for it to heal to run in the race, but I was really struggling on long runs and maintaining the paces that my training plan outlined.

Fitzgerald also mentions how too much protein can actually decrease your endurance performance. Honestly, I forget the scientific explanation, but you can read his book for it or just trust me that I’m not making it up to throw you off. And guess what my workout diet had plenty of? Protein. My meal plan wasn’t extreme like Atkins or anything, but it does lean heavy on veggies and protein and lighter on carbs and fats. Protein is necessary for endurance runners on a daily basis, but not at the frequency I was used to following.

So unknowingly, I was sabotaging my results with my diet last time around. So this time I’m trying to eat smarter. I am working on a balance of healthy carbs, fruits, veggies, protein and fats that are conducive to endurance running as I train for a Ragnar Ultra, which is 31 miles, but the training is very similar to that of a marathon. I’m already seeing the results, which is eye-opening!! I have SO much more energy on long runs. Although my legs do get tired, I still feel like I can push and keep going. Carb-centric is the way to go! I’m still working on finding that perfect balance, and honestly I love protein and had such a good routine with it so it’s hard to cut it out at times. I find myself thinking about carbs so much that sometimes I don’t realize I am not eating enough veggies, either, which are very important to a balanced endurance diet as well.

It’s a work in progress! If you are struggling with your endurance training – I highly recommend you read The Endurance Diet. I don’t know Matt Fitzgerald, I am not receiving commission off sales of his book (I borrowed it from my local library to read) – but it was a really, really good and informative read and I’d say a must for any long distance runner! Happy running ya’ll!

endurance diet




Ragnar Ultra Countdown: less than 4 weeks!

Ragnar Ultra Countdown: less than 4 weeks!

The past two weeks I’ve had both kids start school; one in kindergarten and one in preschool. I now have 3 times a week I am ALONE for 3.5 hours. What have I been doing with all of this lovely free time? Running. Yes. Almost every time. Here’s why!

I am running in a Ragnar Relay Ultra Team in 4 weeks! What is a Ragnar? It’s a relay race that you run with a team, taking turns running until you are all done the set course. There are trail ones, there are road ones, there is even a new crossfit division. Check their website, there is probably one in your state if not near you!

The Ragnar I am participating in is a trail run so we will not have to have the whole van situation of driving around as is common for the road race series. We will be camping out in a set location with three different trail loops that all start and finish in the same location. Typically for this race, there is a team of 8 people. Since my team is doing it as an Ultra (more mileage) – we have a team of 4 lovely ladies.

And what kind of mileage are we talking here? See my legs and mileage below. I am runner #2, so I will start my legs whenever our first teammates finishes hers; and each leg going forward is dependent on when my teammates finish theirs, etc.
Leg 1: will start approximately 2pm on Friday – approximately 11 miles
Leg 2: will start at approximately 10:30pm on Friday – approximately 13 miles (nothing like running a half marathon in the dark! Gotta get a headlamp soon!)
Leg 3: will start at approximately 7am on Saturday – approximately 7 miles. Hallelujah! Then I’m done.

I am loving the times I was assigned to, as I will be able to get a hopefully restful night’s sleep at our campsite for most of the night. I am excited for the night running. I hope I don’t let my team down as I imagine it will be a little bit slower running at night. I’m a bit worried about the overall mileage.

Thus my need to run every single chance I get! I have been doing a lot of trail running to get used to the conditions and have been loving every second of it. It is so peaceful and relaxing. I’ve been doubling up some days to try to get used to running on tired legs; but my mileage is still not as high as I’d like it to be – there is a fine balance with increasing mileage as not to risk injury. I probably should have started training a few weeks earlier than I did, but nothing I can do about it now besides work hard and get as close to where I need to be as possible! 2 more weeks of pushing hard and then I will be reducing mileage to rest and recover my body for the actual event. Here’s a shot from one of my trail runs! Have you ever done an ultra trail race or Ragnar?

Sherman Branch
The trails are calling and I must go.