Friday Favorites – Running Shoes!

When I made the shift from training on the soccer field to training on the pavement/concrete/gravel, I needed to find the perfect running shoe, and I found it! For the last 6 years I have been wearing Saucony. I started out with the Saucony Triumph. But, then as I was getting more and more into running, I was looking for something a little bit lighter, but that still gave me the stability and support I needed for those long runs. There in came, the Saucony Ride.

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I ran the Boston Marathon in these (even though that race was somewhat of a stomach disaster for me), my feet felt great!

But, then, as I got more and more into endurance sports, I was looking for a lighter shoe to race in and for my speed workouts. I was then introduced to the best shoe I’ve ever worn.

THE KINVARA

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4XQhn7sekI

My First Ever Fun Run

My running journey started, when I finished up my last season as a college soccer player at DePauw University. It was second semester senior year, and I needed a goal to work towards, so I decided to sign up for a marathon. Yup, not a 5k, 10k, half marathon, etc. a full marathon, with no endurance running knowledge at all. So, I followed one of Hal Hilgdon’s free training place online (the novice version), and did the best I could, while also partying my brains out second semester senior year of college.

After graduating college, and after completing my first ever marathon, I really enjoyed all that running had to offer. It kept me fit, it made me feel better, I felt free, happy, and just gave me an extra zest for life. So, I then had a desire to work on my speed, after I had covered a long distance. I started signing up for 5ks and 10ks, but I never actually ran for “fun”. I always had a goal in mind, whether I was competing for a new PR, or training for a longer distance race a few months later.

This past, Saturday, I dressed up in full blown tutu outfits by Lucki Lime. If you have never run in a tutu, or a “fun run” outfit, this company is your go-to place to get your race day outfits. I’m seriously obsessed, and have plans to dress up in another outfit in the near future.

I get to the race, all dressed up in my fun run outfit, and I’m telling you I seriously had more fun, than I have ever had at a race. Letting go of any desire to actually race, and just having fun running and chatting, and sharing in the camaraderie that the day brought.

All dressed up and ready to run!

All dressed up and ready to run!

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With my friend and the founder of Lucki Lime, Cat, before the start of the race.

As the race got started, and we started running, I enjoyed the light-heartedness all around me. There were beginner runners everywhere, and it was inspiring. I remember lining up for my first race (St. Louis Marathon), and I seriously started tearing up. I was full of so much pride not just from my own training, but I was proud of everyone else who stood there with me. We were in this together. Today, was no different. I was so proud of everyone who came out to have fun and run! Enjoy all that comes with running. :)

Here are some photos as we ran along. Honestly, I have never done a race while carrying my phone, but I had a blast. I loved being able to take photos at the beginning, middle, and end, and instantly share them with friends and family by texting them, or on instagram, twitter, and facebook.

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Cat and I finishing!

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Running around Fiesta Island.

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Just chugging along, smiling, chatting, and HAPPY! :)

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Soooo happy! I’m not gonna lie, I felt pretty darn cute too in my tutu. :)

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how awesome are these socks? “Kick butt”

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Cat having a blast!

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With our Pot o’ Gold medals.

As, most of you know, this year, I have had a lot of learnings, and how I really want training/racing/triathlon/running to be all about fun. I do love to race, but I also LOVE having days like these. It is the perfect balance that gives me that fee. I want to be doing this because I love it, and I think it’s fun, and these are the moments, the days, where it gives me just the right balance that I need.

Check out Lucki Lime for your next fun run outfit!

A Balancing Act

Life this past week was a balancing act. A balance between doing what I should be doing, and doing what I want to be doing. But, truly, why can’t they be the same thing? Shouldn’t we be doing what we want to be doing? If you ask me, the answer is an obvious….YES!

So, I did do, what I wanted to be doing, because it is what I should be doing. :)

The beginning of the week started with some rest, because I was fighting a cold. Then, I hit my workouts hard. Then rested again, because my workouts wore me out. Then my best friend from college came to visit, and I spent every moment, focusing on spending time with her, catching up, and making memories.

I started out by letting my inner child out…

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I jumped off rocks for fun!

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Woohoo!

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There were lots of smiles :)

I got my butt kicked by a Sandstorm

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But at least I looked cute in my Coeur Team Kit and my Oakley Women’s Immerse sunglasses. :)

I got brunch with one of my old personal training clients from Chicago! I hadn’t seen Nikolina in 2 years, and it was sooooo much fun to catch up. Next time stay longer :)

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Nikolina and I at Honey’s, one of my fave brunch places.

Then Betsy came to town!!!!

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We started off with a lagoon loop run! Obviously :)

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Life really is a balancing act.

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Post run on the beach

We then hit up my absolute favorite café in all of San Diego….The Naked Café. Betsy and I ate brunch here 7 years ago, when we went on a 6 week road trip all around the U.S.

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We love this place!

We then made our way to Torrey Pines for some hiking!

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Besties <3

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Play time in the water!

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One of the best views in all of San Diego.

It was then girl’s night out. We met up with my friend Jené and Kelly at Bier Garden for some beers and dinner. And I got to wear out one of my new favorite StitchFix items, this tank. <3

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Ignore the evil eyes

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Always acting goofy

Since, Betsy is a foodie, it was time to introduce her to the famous Acai Bowl. So, brunch outside at Swami’s it was.

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One of the best meals, San Diego has to offer. Refreshing, filling, and delicious!

The last time I went perusing local shops was…????? It was so nice to just window shop, and/or purchase a few fun things. So, we strolled and just enjoyed some time post-brunch looking in stores.

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I bought this cute frame for my room. So…true!

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I love this!

And then after some fun strolling…we hit up the beach. Again, last time I just laid out and enjoyed the sun was in the BVI…it was time to do it at home! Enjoy all that San Diego has to offer!

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I love the beach!

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Jené joined us, and of course, we had to take the GoPro out for some action shots!

After a day in the sun, it was time to show Betsy our famous San Diegan sunsets, and of course celebrate with a little red wine. :)

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Sunset and wine. Yes please.

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Oh…forgot to mention….Miss Seal…she washed up on shore to do some Molting…which is shedding….and because of the latest storm, she somehow ended up being separated from her fellow seals, as they usually all molt together. Poor Seal. :(

Sunday morning, we went to brunch at Honey’s, and I indulged in an artichoke, chicken sausage omelette. YUM!

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Tasty!

After dropping Betsy off at the airport, I headed back to the beach, to top off the weekend of some fun in the sun! I couldn’t resist. Training was just going to have to wait til Monday.

 

 

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Although, I did get some beach running in, just a tad. :)

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In love with my new reversible bikini by Maaji Swimwear.

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My favorite purchases from the weekend.

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Last night’s sunset, reminded me of how in love with life I am.

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And this morning’s quote….was a great way to kick off this week!

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Cheers to last week, The Balancing Act. Ready to put in a hard week of training to continue my prep for Oceanside 70.3! Hope everyone had a great week!

Brand Ambassador Programs

What makes a good brand ambassador program?

I have been on the side of finding brand ambassadors for companies, as well as being a brand ambassador for companies. I thought it would be fun to write out my thoughts on what I think makes a good brand ambassador, and what makes a good brand ambassador program. The truth is it is a two way street.

Brand Ambassador Tips:

- MUST be on social media. In order for you to be worth a companies money and time, you have to be on social media, preferably Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and hopefully you also would have a personal blog.

- Involved in your community, maybe it’s public speaking, or just being part of a group that fits your lifestyle, where you can reach out to other like-minded individuals like you.

- I highly recommend only becoming a brand ambassador for companies that you truly believe in. What does that mean? That means you would buy their product even if you weren’t a brand ambassador. It means not only do you support their product, but you also love the people behind the product. Again, because being a brand ambassador is a two way street, it’s a must to enjoy the people behind the brand. You want to feel comfortable giving feedback on products, both positive and negative, and you also want to be able to give positive and constructive feedback on the program itself. Do you believe in the people behind the brand? Do you believe in the brand itself? These are two questions you need to ask yourself before becoming a brand ambassador for a company.

- Promote the brand, preferably organically. To make a difference, it’s best not to go about by just posting “I got this package in the mail”. Although, I did just do that for The Feed, but they are a “gift basket” company, so the packaging part matters. ;) But, once you have the product, use it, and capture photos or videos of you using the product. This is more enticing to your audience or community to see the product working in action. Even if it’s a “protein bar”, snap a shot of you eating it on a long ride, or hiking, etc. If it’s a pair of shoes, maybe they are high heels, then show them off while wearing them at work or out at a bar with friends.

- Make each post on SM impactful. It’s not about quantity but about quality. So, if you don’t have anything to post, then don’t worry about it, wait until you have some good quality photos or videos to post.

- Connect with other people in your brand ambassador program. You can possibly meet up, do something within your community, or come up with ideas to pitch to the company. Have fun, think outside of the box, it’s like a free, fun marketing gig!

- Don’t be afraid to spread the love! If something doesn’t fit right, or you have two of the same thing, give one to a friend. They have another big group of friends, family, acquaintances, and the more people that can see the product the better. So, don’t be afraid to give stuff away that just doesn’t work for you.

- Building off of only being a brand ambassador for companies you believe in, don’t be afraid to be selective. There will be people who contact you and want you to be a brand ambassador for them, but if you don’t use their product, or don’t think you will, then you don’t have to promote them. It’s okay to say “no”.

Tips for Companies

- Find brand ambassadors that are big on social media. Find ones that have a big following, because they will have more reach, but also make sure that they are promoting content that aligns with your company.

- In addition, find brand ambassadors that are engaged with your company’s community, whether online or hands-on in their local community. You want these people to be visible. Ideally, find people that align with your brand. Find people who have the same values as your company.

- Stay in touch with your brand ambassadors on a personal level monthly. Check in with them. See what’s going on in their lives, and see if they have any races, events, etc. coming up that would be a good opportunity to promote your product.

- Give! And I mean give. Give ideas of how to share the product, feature the product, and give out the latest product, to keep your brand ambassadors social channels fresh, and they are in the latest out in public, promoting your brand. These brand ambassadors are pretty much free marketing! And putting your brand ambassadors in as much product as possible is important for keeping them visual. It helps keep them in your brand too, and doesn’t give them much room to put on competitor brands.

- Do an ambassador summit! Bring the ambassadors to your head quarters, teach them about your company. How did it get started? How is the product made? What are your company’s values? Culture? Create a community with your ambassadors.

- #1 – goes back up to the first bullet point. Make your brand ambassadors feel important. Let them know you are very thankful of them being a part of your brand, and that you are so happy to have them as a brand ambassador.

- Leverage your brand ambassadors for ideas. Ask them for help in naming a product, or designing something, or for how to make the ambassador program better.

- Get your brand ambassadors faces up in your stores, etc. Make sure your company and community knows who they are, it will allow them to make a bigger impact in the community.

- If they have a niche, ask them to host some kind of gathering at one of your stores, or in a partner store.  Maybe they teach yoga, or they are a great cook, and could teach a cooking class.

All these tips are based off my own personal experience of being a brand ambassador, as well as trying to find great brand ambassadors. Oakley is the company I have been with the longest, and I must say they do a hell of a job. If you are looking for a great example of a brand ambassador program, I would say look at theirs. And I know they have soooo many big plans on where they want to see it go. I know sometimes money can be the hard part in executing plans that companies have for a brand ambassador program, but my suggestion then is to start small, and slowly grow, because you want to make sure each brand ambassador feels appreciated, this inspires them to share and promote your brand even more. If they feel forgotten, then they will probably forget about you. I think this is what Oakley has done so well. They started small. There were 10 of us, that’s it. And they are a HUGE company. It’s more about the quality of the brand ambassador than the quantity of them. Now, they have grown to 20-25 girls. We do a yearly brand ambassador summit, where all the girl’s get together, we learn about the brand, product test, and learn about each other, and of course have some fun and make some memories! We also give feedback at that time about how the last year went, and how we think we can improve. They also do little round tables to educate us on how to either plan an event in our area, or be social media saavy, or how to edit our photos, etc.

So get out there and find the program/company/brand ambassador that aligns with you! And make 2014 the best year ever!

8 Weeks Til Ironman Wisconsin!

Holy Crap! ONLY 8 WEEKS TIL RACE DAY!

Highlights of this past week:

  • Recovery week
  • Ocean Swim
  • GoPro purchase
  • Nailed my Fartlek run
  • Wine Steels with friends
  • mani/pedi

Monday – Swim – nice and easy…nothing crazy. I was pretty exhausted after a mega weekend.

Tuesday – Easy bike, easy run – I still biked and ran with intention, but kept it easy. But didn’t just go through the motions. I’m already seeing major gains in my fitness, simply because I’m not letting my heart rate drop to the point where I’m making no aerobic gains.

Wednesday – Master’s Swim and Tempo Trainer ride – both were solid efforts

Thursday – REST DAY!

Friday – Fartlek run – I did this on the treadmill, because I really wanted to control my speed and push myself even though it’s a recovery week, intensity still matters, even if total time is less. And I crushed it!

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I had mascara on, and I was sweating so much, I wiped my left eye, as you can see, and it ALL came right off. ha!

Saturday – Long ride and ocean swim! The weather was PERFECT for a long ride! I had purchased a brand new Hero3 Silver Edition GoPro camera on Friday, and I was EAGER to test it out. So, I headed to the ocean to play around with my new toy! I met up with Chris, and he surfed, and I swam. Tried to get some good photos, but I think I need fins next time to keep up. And I was new to the camera, so I had no idea what I was doing. Definitely need to get the LCD screen for the back, so that I can see what I’m filming or taking photos of. :)

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Had no idea what I was doing, and so it was taking upside down pics, sideways pics, etc. ha!

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Messin’ around in the ocean

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Ocean Floating

Sunday – long run – My friend Jessie and I ran up to Carlsbad to spectate the Carlsbad Sprint Triathlon. It was a great way to get in my long run! So we “cruised” up there, and by cruise, Jessie is a #badass runner, in fact just went 38:xx in a recent 10k, and well she kicked my butt during our long run, but I embraced the pain. :) Thanks Jessie for pushing me!

We then stayed and spectated and cheered on friends! And of course I wanted to use my new toy! Sadly it died, because I failed to charge it all the way prior to leaving on my run. So, I only got the two pics below.

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Jessie and I spectating

Chris killin' it on the bike.

Chris killin’ it on the bike.

After a top notch brunch at Honey’s…I wanted to go play around more with “Gus”.

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San Dieguito High School Track

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Overall it was a solid recovery week. Got lots of sleep. P.S I had never thought about getting some melatonin to help me sleep. I don’t always sleep great, and my doc recommended it. And it has been AMAZING! Although, I have been really excited about Gus the GoPro, and I’m gonna be honest, I’ve been waking up really early, like REALLY early, because I’m so excited to go try him out. I’m like a kid on Christmas morning, but it’s been like for the past three days! ha!

So, after a solid recovery week. It’s time to get after the next BIG three weeks. And I mean BIG! 8 weeks til the BIG DAY!

Total Time for the Week: 12hrs – pleasantly perfect for a recovery week :)

Kind Runner

If you haven’t heard of Kind Runner yet, be prepared to be inspired. When I first heard about Kind Runner, I was in complete awe. Kind Runner has thought of the perfect way for us endurance athletes to EASILY be able to GIVE BACK.

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Kind Runner Instagram Photo @beakindrunner

Kind Runner is an online company where you can buy running shoes. But here’s the fun part, not only is shipping FREE for you to receive your shoes, but they send you a pre-paid packaging label, for you to send your USED running shoes back to them, where they then donate them to either Soles4Souls or the MORE Foundation Group. As a reward for GIVING BACK, you earn $10 in Kindness Cash Rewards, that you can use towards a future purchase.

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Kind Runner Instagram Photo @beakindrunner

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Kind Runner Instagram Photo @beakindrunner

Kind Runner has 5 main goals:

1 – Make running as fun, enjoyable, and injury and stress free as possible for all of our customers

2 – Reduce the running community’s impact on the environment as much as we possibly can

3 – Help people in need all around the world by repurposing used running shoes

4- Provide expert reviews and knowledge on every product we carry in store

5 – Utilize a unique and highly interactive gait analysis that is not available anywhere else online… we look to provide the type of service you can only find in the most technical of running shops

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Kind Runner Instagram Photo @beakindrunner

Honestly, it’s so simple, and such a good cause, it’s impossible to not want to buy shoes from them, and then send in old ones to be given to those who need shoes. When asked to be a KindRunner ambassador, well I just couldn’t resist. What an awesome company to stand behind and support! And this is truly something that hits home to me. As I have written about before, my mom runs a non-profit in Panama, where infants and children are brought to a clinic, Nutre Hogar, mal-nourished. They are usually found by horseback or helicopter in the tropical mountains of Panama. They are generally naked, have no shoes, and are barely surviving.

Here is a pic of me and Esteban. Esteban is 4 in this pic. Unable to walk due to mal-nourishment. When he came to Nutre Hogar, he had no clothes, no shoes, and his stomach was the size of a watermelon. It’s amazing to see these kids be brought back to life. Nutre Hogar also bring the parents in, and teaches them about proper nutrition and how to care for their children. These parents need education, and that’s exactly what Nutre Hogar does, while nourishing their children back to good health.Image

So next time you are thinking about just throwing away your old running shoes, think about buying your next pair from Kind Runner, and sending your old pair in, so that people like Esteban can have some shoes to run around in, once they are healthy again. :)

9 Weeks Out From Ironman Wisconsin

Holy Crap this week was a GOOD week! Seriously, it was amazing. Training was SOLID. 4th of July was awesome. I’m super pumped about how this past week went. I made some changes, and believe me I could tell the difference.

Highlights:

  • Crushing my Tuesday tempo run
  • Trying to swim solo in the ocean
  • Crushing my Thurs TP Hill Repeats
  • Hula Hooping and Ping Pong
  • Bier Garden

Monday

  • Master’s swim – I am really starting to feel comfortable in the pool. I LOVE to pull, and find myself pulling regularly, so I have to remind myself to swim normal every once in awhile, just to practice my rhythm.
  • Easy Run
  • Rehab United Strength Sesh

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  • RU training sesh followed up by a Whole Foods talk sesh with Jené. We were talking about my training, and it hit me. Every session, even the easy ones, need to be done with INTENTION. Sometimes, I go out on a bike or run, and I know it’s supposed to be “easy”, but I’m supposed to be in my aerobic zone, not necessarily out just cruisin’ around town. I still have to make sure that I’m making every session count. Too often when a session is supposed to be aerobic or “easy”, I found myself letting my HR drop waaaaay below my aerobic zone. Therefore I’m not actually making the progress that I need to make during those “easy” sessions. It’s important to have some fun, recovery sessions too, for sure, but those aerobic sessions are important. So, after our chat, I told myself I need to go into EVERY training session with intention, no matter what the workout calls for. And that’s EXACTLY what I did.

Tuesday

  • Tready Tempo Sesh – KILLED IT! At least for me. I hadn’t been able to run faster than 7:53 pace. I’m not sure if I just wasn’t willing to, or if I couldn’t (especially since back in January I was running 10k’s in the 7:20′s) Today I had 25min of tempo pace, and I got my music jamming, and ran 7:35min/miles. I KNOW I can run faster than this, and I WILL, but it’s going to take some time to get my speed back. So, I’m pretty darn happy to have stepped it up.
  • Evening “easy” bike ride – I went into this “easy” bike with intention. I felt great. I realized that “easy” still means work. When I hopped off, I already could tell that this was going to make a big difference in my training.
  • My sister completed her very first marathon today! – She couldn’t find a race that worked with her schedule, as she is traveling a lot this summer, etc. So…she decided to just do it all on her own. She lives in Colorado, but was in Wisconsin when she did it. My mom, dad, and their friends and neighbors were her cheering squad and aid stations along the way. I’m just sooo proud of her!

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Wednesday

  • Master’s Swim – another solid day in the pool
  • BIG BRICK – 3hr ride with tempo efforts built in, followed by a 30min brick run

Thursday

  • TP Hill Repeats – I have done this solo, and with a group, and today I PR’d both my times! I couldn’t believe it!
  • 4th of July Fun – I went to a couple BBQ’s with my friends Jené and Jessie.

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Hula-hooping!

Hula-hooping!

Ping Pong! A little high five for winning ;)

Ping Pong! A little high five for winning ;)

Friday

  • Jené and I were going to do a little open water swimming together in the afternoon. But she was pretty wiped out from climbing Palomar, but she came to the beach to chill out anyway. #goodfriend And I thought to myself, as long as I know someone is there, even if they are on the beach, I can totally swim in the ocean solo. BOY, WAS I WRONG. I start making my way through the break, and as soon as I was passed it, I started to freak out. I was playing total mind games with myself. First, I’d say, “you are fine, people swim out here all the time, and you’ve swam out here before.” And then I’d start swimming, and then I’d run into some kelp, and freak out. And then I’d start swimming really fast, as if I thought something was chasing me, but let’s be real, nothing was chasing me, and even if it was, it would be waaaay faster than me, and I wouldn’t stand a chance. Then, I thought, “look if it’s gonna happen today, then it’s gonna happen today. JUST SWIM KATIE!” And then I’d be like, “but I don’t want my life to end today, and what if today is the day that you know “it” decides to attack.” You just never know. I know the likelihood is slim to none, but then I’d start thinking, “I’m the only one this far out, I’m small, they are curious creatures, and I’m kicking and making splashes. I’m like the size of ONE BITE.” So, I ultimately swam back into shore, then hung out in the break for a bit, trying to talk myself in to going back out there, and then ultimately decided I just couldn’t do it. I can do it with a group, but I just CAN’T swim solo. Can’t do it. But, I’m proud of myself for trying. :)

Saturday

  • Long Ride and brick run – my friend Bryan and I hit the road at 7am, and headed out on the same route I had done two weeks ago with Jen and Katya. I wanted to prove to myself that I can go faster. Bryan rode with me for the first 2 or so hours, and then headed back in to the coast. And then I threw on my headphones, and told myself to embrace the pain. I told myself to TACKLE the hills. If you can’t or don’t do it in training, why would I suddenly do it in a race? I needed to practice. Practice not being scared. Practice hurting, and then kind of recovering, albeit still hurting, but not quite as bad as when powering up a hill. It was a great day to be riding the route I was doing, because I ran into Beth, and Katya, and also Ian Mickelson, and a bunch of other friends! It was a nice boost of energy during my ride.

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  • Ride Stats
  • 94 miles
  • 5,400 ft of climbing
  • 5hrs 47 min (this is a 20min PR from two weekends ago)
  • I was pretty STOKED!
  • After my ride, I headed out for a brick run – and successfully averaged 8:30′s, and felt GREAT.
  • I should add – this is the first time I’ve taken any caffeine in training in a looooong time. And let me tell you, it works wonders. I felt like Superwoman out there. I can’t take caffeine regularly as I’m super sensitive to it, and can’t get a good night’s sleep EVER after having caffeine, even if I have it early in the morning, but I’m recognizing that sometimes it’s worth the lack of sleep post workout, to get a TOP NOTCH workout in. Thank you Caffeine!

I then grabbed brunch at Swami’s and tried their acai bowl for the first time! #yum

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Plus a pancake. OBVIOUSLY. It was then to the beach, and then out for drinks! There is a new “Bier Garden” by the Whole Foods in Encinitas so, Jené, Chris, Dave and I all went to check it out. I now have a new favorite beer. It’s right up there with “German Sparkle Party” by 10 Barrel Brewing.

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I’m a big time fan of sour beers. Yes, I know it barely tastes like beer, and is more like champagne. Pretty sure that’s why I like it. It’s bubbly and refreshing. The perfect drink after a hard days work on the bike. :)

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The crew checking out the new Bier Garden. Dave on the left, had just ridden down the coast for the past two months. How cool is that? He started in Vancouver and rode about 50-60 miles every day. He pulled all of his stuff in a little “caddy” and he camped along the way. Super rad! I was hoping the beer would counteract the caffeine at some point, and I would get tired, but unfortunately it just didn’t happen.

Sunday

  • long run – I made sure to tackle this long run with INTENTION. My goal was to “run” not “jog”. And so I did. The last 30min were at tempo, and it got TOUGH. Just like it will at the end of an Ironman, and I just thought to myself, how badly do you want this?
  • After that I was spent. I refueled. Passed out on the couch for a couple hours. Then ran some errands. Ate some more. Did some work. It was a nice end to the weekend.

After three solid weeks of 20ish hr weeks, it’s time for some recovery! :)

Side note: Not everyone is built alike, and not everyone has the same goals. So, even though I’m putting in those kinds of weeks, doesn’t mean it’s the right plan for everyone. Beth and I talk about my goals, and what I can handle, and what I can’t. This is what works for me right now. I’m seeing positive results, and I’m loving every second of it. And still finding plenty of time to socialize and work. But, this is why sometimes I don’t reveal exactly how much training I do, because the plan that Beth creates is catered to me. Trust your plan too.

9 weeks to go! Time is FLYING!!!

Magic Happens in Napa

This weekend was in one word: Magical

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View from my friend, Linzay’s apartment.

I flew in to San Francisco Thursday night. My friend Linzay picked me up from the airport. And we headed out to dinner in the Marina. We ate at this awesome burger place called, “Roam”. It was delicious.

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Then we headed out in Russian Hill to grab drinks with some of my friends from college. In fact, one of my best guy friends, Drew, lives right next to Linzay. #smallworld

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Dylan, Me, Drew

I don’t get to see much of these guys anymore, but when I do, it’s like no time has passed. Dylan, lives in Chicago, and Drew lives in SF. They are two of my best guy friends. And I was soooo excited to see them!

It was then time to hit the hay, as it was going to be a busy Friday. I woke up early to run down to the Fort Mason park and get a strength workout in. The view was breathtaking.

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It was then back to Linzay’s apartment for some work. I also had a swim workout I needed to get in on Friday. I had asked around to some triathlete friends who live in the area, and it looked as though the most convenient option was the Presidio YMCA. It was 2.2 miles from Linzay’s place in Russian Hill. I didn’t rent a car, so next best option? Run! So, I got out my Oakley Factor Lite back pack to carry my swim stuff in, threw on my 26.2 sunnies, and headed to the pool. 969815_735773347372_321565260_nOne more night in SF and then it was off to Napa for the weekend. So, of course, we went out for drinks…

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The next morning, I woke up early and headed out the door to get my long run in. I had never run over the Golden Gate Bridge before, and so I didn’t want to miss out on this awesome opportunity.

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On the path to the bridge

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Up the stairs to the bridge

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Alcatraz. (P.S Have you ever done the tour? If not, I HIGHLY recommend it. I didn’t have time to do it this time, but I’ve done it before and it’s amazing. Oh, and definitely get the audio tape tour)

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It seriously was a perfect day to run in SF. (Side note: My favorite photo I took while in SF)

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View of the city from the bridge.

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Running across the bridge.

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Love my Oakley Burn Shorts

After 12 miles in the books, it was time to shower, pack up, and meet up with the crew who I was going to the wedding with. I hadn’t seen my three best girlfriends since Davis got married last August. So, I was excited to spend the weekend with them. We also had three other girls joining us for the weekend, but they weren’t going to the wedding, but we thought why not have some more friends to enjoy Napa with, and share a house with!

So, the 7 of us packed it up in two cars, and headed to Napa. We stopped in Sausalito for a quick bite, and for a quick “photoshoot” by the bridge.

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THE CREW. Betsy (lives in Denver, CO), Me, Lauren (lives in SF), Blair (lives in SF), Natalie (lives in SF), Mo (lives in Chicago), and Davis (lives in Lexington, Kentucky)

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Betsy, Me, Davis, and Mo. The Girls. I met these three girls on my first day of college, when we got there for pre-season for soccer. We instantly connected, and have been best friends ever since. I can’t believe it’s been 10yrs!

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Love these girls!

When we got to our house that we had rented for the weekend in Napa, it was time to change real quick, and break open the champagne to kick off the weekend!

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The Magic Begins.

I can’t put into words what this weekend felt like. It was simply magical. The love that was surrounding us the whole weekend was palpable. From silly Vine videos, to reminiscing about old college stories, to making new ones. It was a celebration of true friendships. These girls truly are my rock, and I loved every minute of spending this weekend with them. After our champagne toast, we headed out to dinner in downtown Napa. To a place called Andaz. It was delicious. Tapas style. #love After dinner we met up with some dear friends of ours, Blake and Graham and their wives. These guys are truly special, and will always hold a special place in my heart. It was sooo good to see them, as I hadn’t seen them in probably 5 years.

This is why I LOVE weddings. It brings people together, who you don’t get to see regularly. Blake and his wife, Kendall, live in Birmingham, Alabama, while Blake finishes up residency (he’s specializing in high risk pregnancy, pretty cool!). And Graham and his wife, Jess, live in Indianapolis, and Foster and his girlfriend, Kate, live in Michigan. It was just so special to have us all together again.

Sunday, we had booked a wine tasting at Alpha Omega, a small vineyard about 20min from the house we were staying in. We booked it early, 11am, so we could squeeze it in before the wedding festivities began. No better way to start a day of the wedding, than some wine tasting. When in Napa…GO BIG OR GO HOME. I squeezed in an hour run real quick, before the day drinking began.

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There was a cute path close by that I ran on, that ran along the Napa Valley River.

Threw on some “wine tasting” clothes, and headed out the door. First stop, Yountville for some brekkie. I LOVE Yountville. I had been there once before with Oakley. We did a bootcamp class and brunch in the cute park in Yountville. And it was so fun to be back.

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Crepes and Scones. #yum

We then made our way to Alpha Omega. This place was gorgeous. And their tastings are FREE. We got to taste 6 different wines. And they were fabulous.

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We sat outside around a fire pit drinking wine, with this view. Again, it was just magical.

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After we warmed up our blood stream, we headed back to the house to get ready for Al’s big day!

Alex Martin has been one of my best guy friends since day 1 of college. He was on the men’s soccer team at DePauw, and we instantly bonded. I have known him for 10yrs, and I was soooo excited to see him tie the knot. Alex is one of those guys who just warms your heart when he’s around. He lights up a room with his smile, and can always make you laugh. To see him sooo happy, was such a special moment for me.

This wedding was out of a movie. It was held at a private vineyard. Julia, Alex’s bride to be, has cousins who own the place where they got married. It was outdoors without a cloud in the sky. The wedding was full of laughter, tears, and lots of love. To share in Alex’s special day was something I’ll never forget. It was beautiful how his wedding brought together a group of people who share so much love.

967286_735771426222_108861649_oOne of the many spectacular views at their wedding venue.

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These are the boys. Blake, Foster, Alex (the man of the hour), Graham, Dylan, and Drew. These guys are like my brothers. Love them to pieces.

It’s hard to explain the feeling I get when we all get together. I’m sure some of you have felt that feeling, when you are around true friends. It was an emotional weekend but a special one.

All Dressed Up!

All Dressed Up!

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With Al, at the reception. He is one special dude, and I know Julia and him are going to be soooo happy together.

So, we danced, we ate, we chatted, had our drunken heart to hearts, laughed, shed a few tears, and said a lot of “I love you’s” as we don’t know when we will see each other all again. Yes, we all talk, text, etc. But, being together, is something special. When you can feel each other’s energy. This group is inspiring, dynamic, full of life, dreams. And I’m soooo proud to have such wonderful friends. Alrighty, starting to tear up writing this thing…so I’ll leave you with that.

I love this crew, Blake, Foster, Al, Graham, Drew, Dylan, Betsy, Mo, Davis, like they are my family. Thank you for the magical memories. And I look forward to the next reunion!

Slept in as late as I could, and then headed out for a run in the rain, before leaving Napa.

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Rockin’ my Oakley Women’s Burn Shorts and Race Day Tank.

To close out the weekend, the 7 girls headed to Yountville Monday morning to check out the famous Bouchon Bakery. Monday was Memorial Day, and my family growing up would do a picnic with these three other families. It was a tradition for about 15 years. Although, I’m pretty sure it’s still going. My dad EVERY year for the picnic would make Monkey Bread. And it is to die for. So, I was pleasantly surprised when Bouchon Bakery had Monkey Bread. It made for a special day, so that I felt like I was still taking part in our family tradition. :)

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Then it was off to the airport with Betsy and Mo.

I had such an incredible weekend. And feel so lucky to have such wonderful people in my life, and to be able to go on such amazing adventures.

Napa, you truly are magical.

The Morse Family Biography – Part II – Holly Morse

In honor of Mother’s day, Part II of the Morse Family Biography will be dedicated to my mom, Holly Taylor Morse. First off, I’m obsessed with my mom’s name “Holly Taylor”. I don’t know why…but I just love the sound of it. Sounds like she should be famous or something. Anyway…

Why my mom inspires me…

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This is my mom in a nutshell. My mom has the biggest heart out of anyone I know. Above is a photo of her in Panama taking care of malnourished kids. My mom inspires me to be generous, kind, nurturing and loving. As she herself is all of these things.

My mom and I on 4th of July.

My mom and I on 4th of July.

My mom’s journey started out when she was born and raised in a small town in Erie, Pennsylvania. She was in all out honesty, miss perfect. She was homecoming queen, president of the class, cheerleader, gymnast, straight A student, and involved in every club you can think of at school. Unfortunately, at the age of 16 her father (my grandfather) died of Colon cancer. It was a life changing event for my mom, that forever shaped her into the person she would become. Just that much more giving and loving. Her dad taught her how to camp, ski, and be adventurous. And this adventurous spirit is what she would keep alive of her father throughout the rest of her life.

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My mom dressing me up, and goofing around.

After high school, my mom attended college at Miami of Ohio. She had a long time boyfriend of 6yrs, Bob. Bob and her dated throughout college. My mom was home in Erie for Christmas, and the local church was organizing a brunch for all the kids that were home from college. Bob and my mom entered the room, and a guy by the name of, Dan , was sitting across the room, and turned to the guy sitting next to him and said “Who’s that?”. The guy said “Oh, forget about her, she’s been with that guy for a looong time.” My dad, laughed the guy off, and went right up to my mom and introduced himself to her and Bob. Immediately, my dad and my mom hit it off. Bob got super jealous, and kept asking my mom to come talk to other people, but my mom just kept saying, but I’m fine talking right here. Dan and my mom, parted ways at the end of the night, and my mom was leaving for Spain the next day to go study abroad for her junior year second semester..

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When she returned from studying abroad, she had found out that Bob had been cheating on her. So, on August 3rd, 1977, my mom decided to ride her bike over to Dan’s house. They hadn’t spoken since Christmas of 1976. Dan happened to be home, and my mom said, “you probably don’t remember me do you?” My dad says, “Of course, I remember you.” They practically started dating that day. Bob, kept trying to win my mom back, and even bought an engagement ring.

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I’m obsessed with this dress still. One of my faves of all time.

My mom was leaving for her senior year of college, and had packed up a U-haul. Dan asked, “who’s helping you take everything back to school?” And she said, “no one.” And Dan said, “well, you can’t have no one help you, who’s going to help you unload the truck on the other end.” So…Dan drove my mom to school, and helped her unload. And when they arrived, a guy who had been crushing on my mom, Tom, was right there and was so excited to see my mom. Dan, after driving my mom back to college, and helping her unload, hitchhiked back to Erie, Pennsylvania. Even though Bob, and Tom, were vying for my mom’s attention, Dan, didn’t worry for one second that he wouldn’t win my mom.

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And he was RIGHT. Dan, was in law school at the time, and would drive any weekend he could to see my mom. Before they knew it they were engaged. So, my father, Daniel Warren Morse married my mom on August 12th, 1978.

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Fast forward…my mom graduated from college with a degree in Spanish, she got her master’s in Spanish, and became a teacher. My mom and dad moved from Pittsburgh to Milwaukee, WI. And not too long after they were married, they started a family.

My mom is the kind of mom that literally puts her kids happiness before her own, and yet that ultimately makes her happy. There is a funny story about how one time I wanted to do something nice for my mom:

I wanted to bring my mom some flowers. I knew she loved flowers. So, I went out in to the front yard, and cut the flowers that had grown out there, and made a bouquet. Unfortunately, unbenounced to me, my mom had just planted these flowers a few weeks ago, and they had just bloomed. :( Oops!

How my mom’s and my relationship played out growing up:

My mom has always been my best friend and role model. As a child, I would help her in the kitchen, we would color together, plant flowers, do gymnastics, and every night before I went to bed, she would rub my back. I remember one night, I don’t know why, but something just clicks in you as a kid, and I asked her not to rub my back anymore. How heartbreaking as an adult to remember saying that to your mom. But, we start to grow up and want our independence.

My mom and I camping on a girl scouts outing.

My mom and I camping on a girl scouts outing.

My mom and I started to have the usual mom/daughter battles, as I craved independence, and she still wanted to parent me. I was a bit of a rebellious teen, but we can get to my own story in a nutshell some other time. I think what made my teenage years the most trying was that my mom taught at the same school I attended growing up. Not only did she teach at the same school, but she was my Spanish teacher, freshman, sophomore, and senior year of high school. That is NOT easy as a teenager.

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Mother’s day 2011

As soon as I got to college, our relationship got a lot better, and we became great friends again. As I got older, I really grew to appreciate all that my mom brings to this world. She has made a miraculous difference, and I know she will continue to. Here are some of the ways she truly inspires me:

- My mom is a teacher – yes as simple as that. On a daily basis for 30yrs, she has stood in front of high school kids, and taught them Spanish. This is not an easy task no matter what the high school.

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Christmas 2011

- My mom started her own business, The Panama Service Project. The Panama Service Project started out as a program that would take high school kids to Santiago, Panama, and learn about the culture while also doing community service at a center for malnourished kids, where they are rehabilitated and brought back to full nourishment, so that they can be returned to their families. This business is in conjunction with a non-profit she started “Friends of Nutre Hogar“, to raise money for this tiny little place that provides medical care for these malnourished kids. I have been very fortunate to go to Panama 3x and help out at Nutre Hogar. My mom now takes adults, in addition to high school kids, who are interested in learning about the Panamanian culture and helping out at Nutre Hogar. This is truly how/why my mom inspires me. She is always thinking of others, and has done her best to teach Jenny, Ty, and I to always be thinking of others too. My mom would give up her left arm if it meant a kid could have a full life. Her passion for kids is truly remarkable.

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- My mom did her first half marathon at the age of 53. We did it together :).

- My mom did her first triathlon with me at the age of 54.

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- My mom’s resilience always inspires me. My mom has come back from a lot of sadness and or tough times in her life. From the death of her father, to a misdiagnosis of cancer that ended up in an unnecessary surgery that would cut open her entire stomach from the bottom of the rib cage to her pelvis. She is a warrior, a fighter, a hero for many, especially me.

My mom spends her days and weekends trying to do more for everyone, whether it’s doing a can drive at school, feeding the homeless, raising money for different other charities, cheering on kids at their soccer game, spending extra time after school to help students with their homework, taking walks with friends, spending time with the family, or even taking her children shopping on HER birthday.

How my mom spends her weekends...letting kids paint her face. ha!

How my mom spends her weekends…letting kids paint her face. ha!

My mom inspires me to give, be kind, and do more, every single day of my life. I hope to pass on all the values my mom has taught me to my future kids, and give them all the confidence and strength to do what they love.

I have to thank my mom for attending almost every dance recital, gymnastics meet, soccer game, speech, awards banquet, marathon, I pretty much ever participated in. And even now, when I live on the other side of the country, my dad and her do their very best to be at every race they can be at. I will never forget how much they support me, and I WILL do that for my own kids one day.

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I LOVE YOU MOM! HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Keep inspiring the world. You are truly amazing.

Making Gains

This week was a BUSY week, but a FUN, week. :)

I knew I had a recovery “week” at the beginning of the week, so what do I do? Jam pack it with everything I can think of, dinner dates, hair appointments, etc.

Monday: What did I do with my extra time? More celebration of Jené’s birthday! Andrea had planned a surprise birthday dinner for Jené at Crush in Solana Beach. Jené was definitely surprised (p.s notice that I figured out how to put the accent on the e!) haha. That means we all skipped RU (Rehab United Triathlon Strength Training Class) for a night of girl talk, wine, and awesome appetizers. Sorry Bryan!

Andrea, me, Jené

Andrea, me, Jené

The whole group of ladies

The whole group of ladies

I LOVE quotes, and as I find ones that I like, I give them to people who I think might enjoy them. So...I stuffed Jené's bday card full of a few quotes that I thought she might like...well I didn't think about the fact that she would be reading them as if I was giving them to her, from me, haha...this one got us cracking up...

I LOVE quotes, and as I find ones that I like, I give them to people who I think might enjoy them. So…I stuffed Jené’s bday card full of a few quotes that I thought she might like…well I didn’t think about the fact that she would be reading them as if I was giving them to her, from me, haha…this one got us cracking up…

Tuesday: What did I do with my extra time? Taco Tuesday at The Brig – YUM! 

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Wednesday: What did I do with my extra time? Dinner with my friend Nicole.

The largest potato chip I've ever seen...

The largest potato chip I’ve ever seen…

Thursday: Hair Appt – followed by a running MAF test at Cathedral Catholic High School. Poor planning…but I was in desperate need of a highlight, and a cut…it had been 12 weeks! My roots were killing me…

So…I headed to the track to test out how fast I am, while keeping my HR below my MAF HR which is 157. As I ran around the track dodging lacrosse balls, since the boy’s lacrosse team had practice, I somehow found a way to zone out and have one of the best runs of my life. There is something meditative about running around a track, and NOT sprinting. Just going around, and a round. I didn’t mind it at all. I did a 2 mile warm-up, and then did 4 miles keeping my HR 2 beats below my max MAF HR, 157. To say I was surprised is an understatement. After a pretty messed up year last year, I was pretty bummed to see where my fitness was at the start of this year. I was running pretty much 10min/miles with my HR in the 160′s…when I had been running 7:30′s/8min miles off the bike in 70.3′s in 2011. We all go through our lows, and our highs, and last year was a low, I road it out, and now it was time to get to work, and get my fitness back. The dedication, consistency, and hard work are starting to pay off.

Mile 1: 7:40 – avg HR 148

Mile 2: 7:50 – avg HR 151

Mile 3: 7:50 – avg HR 151

Mile 4: 7:52 – avg HR 152

I texted Beth, and immediately she called me, we both were SURPRISED! Holy crap! The best part is, it felt smooth and easy. :) What I love about the track is it doesn’t lie. It’s flat, consistent, and you can really gauge where you are at in your training. To go from 10min miles with a high HR to 7:50′s and keep my HR fairly low (for me), was enough to keep me on a high the rest of the week! Needless to say, Thursday was AWESOME – hair appointment and a bomb.com run test.

Friday/Saturday – Oakley was in town!

I LOVE my Oakley family. They just are all such rockstars! Oakley Women’s has teamed up with Shape and the Diva Dash and is heading to cities all over the country putting on Oakley Progression Sessions – Fitness Style. 200 ladies come and get some sweet schwag, take a bootcamp by Cari and Carrie, a yoga session by Lacey Calvert, a nutrition seminar by Marni Sumbal, and also get a chance at becoming an Oakley Women’s ambassador! It was so much fun meeting all the women who attended the event, and I’m excited for our new addition to the ambassador family, Caitlin.

Christine and I manning the social media booth, where women could come and post photos to Instagram, etc. and sign the Oakley Women's Contract.

Christine and I manning the social media booth, where women could come and post photos to Instagram, etc. and sign the Oakley Women’s Contract.

I will use this for "Swim, Bike, Run" NOT "hanging out in the sun".

I will use this for “Swim, Bike, Run” NOT “hanging out in the sun”.

Shawn Parkin - who is a badass photographer was there to take photos. Fun mini photoshoot...

Shawn Parkin – who is a badass photographer was there to take photos. Fun mini photoshoot…

Shawn caught me on my phone at least a dozen times that day…

What can I say? I was in charge of the social media tent ;)

What can I say? I was in charge of the social media tent ;)

After the event, we headed to the Hyatt in Mission Bay for some post OPSFitness bevies and appetizers with Shape Magazine. Cheers!

After the event, we headed to the Hyatt in Mission Bay for some post OPSFitness bevies and appetizers with Shape Magazine. Cheers!

Saturday/Sunday – Long ride on Saturday followed by a 40min OTB Run, and a long run and swim on Sunday.

Saturday I met up with Beth, Jené, and Courtney for a 4ish hour ride. It was Courtney’s bday, so we let her pick the route. Once again, I got my BUTT kicked. I seriously hope that in a few months, I’m not DYING going up hills and mountains to keep up with these girls…

Some of the awesome scenery we saw on our ride

Some of the awesome scenery we saw on our ride (photo courtesy of Jené).

Sunday I enjoyed heading out for an early run, and then went to master’s swim practice, where I had another big gain! We had a good long set, that was mostly just putting yards in. But at the end of the 2 different sets, we had to do a fast 100 for time. For the first time ever I got in the 1min and single digits! 1:09 to be exact. :)

It was a solid week! Packed full of fun and good training.

Side note: I signed up for Leadman 125 in Tempe, AZ on April 14th. I have a few friends who talked me into doing it, and well it sounded fun, and it’s a good place for me to work on my weaknesses, swimming and biking. So, my next race, although since it’s last minute, I have no expectations, but excited to see where my fitness is at in 3 weeks.

Side Note #2: I am going 30 days without bread or processed sugar…I have made it 7 days so far! Only 21 more days to go…who’s joining me?!?!