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mother. marathoner. blogger. reader.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Product Review: Huma Chia Energy Gel

As usual I was complaining about something on Twitter. This time, it was about chia seeds and how I know they're good for me but I hate how they get stuck in my teeth. That day I think I spent a good hour sucking my teeth after my breakfast smoothie. Someone suggested that I try Huma gels. Instantly, the word "gel" threw me off. I am NOT a gel person. I am a chew my energy kind of girl. But because Twitter is awesome and you can connect with not only people, but companies, the Huma people kindly offered to send me some samples to try. They assured me that I would LOVE them.  

Well, I certainly love the packaging. Bright, bold. 

But we all know we should never judge a book by it's cover.

I must admit I was dubious. An energy gel that is 100% all natural and actually tastes good? A gel that wouldn't make me gag or sit like a rock in my stomach?

I brought along the strawberry flavor for my long run of 18 miles this morning. Anticipation was high. Would the gel actually live up to it's reputation? Would I be left high and dry with no energy and a yucky taste in my mouth?

Thankfully, no.  

Believe the hype people. It's all true.

I, self proclaimed hater of gels, have been converted. This stuff is legit. Tastes good, not ice cream good, but good enough to make me the squeeze the package to make sure I got every little bit out. It's not thick or overly gooey, more like the consistency of applesauce. 

I had about 5 miles left when I used Huma and it gave me that burst of energy I needed to withstand the sun and finish my run with negative splits.  

Please go check out their website humagel.com to find out where you can score some of these fantastic little pouches of energy goodness. Also, follow these nice people on twitter @HumaGel. 

If you try one, let me know what you think!

*Although, I was compensated for this post all opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

crazy is as crazy does

Running makes me do crazy things.

For instance, more then once, I've gotten up at 4:30 am to get my miles in. I have run in the pouring rain more times then I can count. Last year, I ran down an icy, snowy, windy mountain despite the real possibility of something bad happening. Just recently, I ran three times in one day. Oh and then there's those pesky 5 marathons I've run. Not to mention the ultra marathon I'm supposed to be running in September.

Oh wait it gets better.

Just yesterday, my husband and I decided to push our departure date back one day so we could run in a local road race. So now I'm changing my vacation plans so I CAN RUN IN A RACE.

See what I mean? Running makes me do crazy things.

What crazy things have you done for the love of the run? Let your freak flag fly people!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Profiles of Inspirational Women: Austina Jordan

Readers, meet Austina. She is just like you. She works full time, attends church, and participates in community events. She is a wife, a step-mom to 3, and a devoted aunt. She is smart, funny, witty, kind, and compassionate. She changed her life, and you can too.   

What is your story and why did you decide to start running?

My running story starts when I was in the 9th grade. I wanted to do a sport, so I tried out for the volleyball team, but didn’t make the team. I wanted so desperately to participate in a team sport so I joined the cross country team. I had no idea what I was getting into. I can still remember how awful I felt after my first race, but I finished. During 9th and 10th grade, I learned a lot from a great coach and had a lot of fun. I was never fast but always a determined runner.  
Fast forward a few years. At 29, I got married, and during my first 4 years of marriage, I gained something like 40lbs. Yikes! Last October, I was almost 200lbs. I’m only 5’3” so that’s a lot of weight for my short frame, and I felt awful. As an adult I have often struggled with food and with my weight. I tend to be an emotional eater and I just plain like food. I enjoy cooking. I enjoy baking. I read cookbooks the way some people read novels! 
Over the years, I have done the Weight Watchers program, and I think the most I have ever really lost was 25-30lbs. I never did much exercising; all I would do was change my eating habits and follow the rules. In October 2012, a Weight Watchers at Work meeting started and I said this is it; I have got to take care of myself. I signed up and promptly got to work. The difference this time was that I knew I had to add exercise to my life. So I started simple and started walking. Later that year, my employer opened up a new athletic facility, so I started using the elliptical machine. 
April 2013 rolled around and I had lost 25lbs and was feeling pretty good. The weather changed,and I decided one afternoon I wanted to do something outside. I went to a local park to walk. I walked a lap and thought to myself I wonder if I can run. So I tried to run a lap, it was about a mile, and I didn’t die. I walked another lap and then ran another lap. I was so excited. I texted my friend Lauren with my exciting news! She suggested I run a 5k that Friday. I thought she was nuts. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I had to do something to get the ball rolling. I showed up on Friday with a secret goal of running the entire race and finishing in 45 minutes. Not only did I run the entire race, but I also finished in 40 minutes. A few days later I signed up for a 10k. I finished that race in 1:15. Wow, did I ever surprise myself. I have since signed up for a half in November, and when I finish writing this I’m signing up for a 20k in August.

How has running changed your life? 
I am gaining a tremendous amount of personal satisfaction from running. I started out running while listening to music. I quit doing that a few weeks ago and run mostly by myself, except on Thursdays. These days Thursday evening rolls around and I love telling folks I run with my friend Lauren, you know she runs marathons. I’m encouraged by how kind she is to run with me at my 13-minute-a-mile pace. She helps to push me, she gives me strategy, and she encourages my progress. She even pushed me to run through rivers and downpours last week. In general, I feel better. I have time alone. I figured if I gave time to the TV, then I had time to give myself to run and take care of my body.

What obstacles have you faced? 
The weather. We have had a tremendous amount of rain over the last few weeks, but now I know I can run in the rain and I won’t melt! I have had to plan my exercise the same way I plan my food. It doesn’t happen by accident. I must make the time for it. 

What advice would you give someone who is where you were? 
Remind yourself that starting races and finishing those races is a great goal to start with; I will never be a top finisher. But I want to always be a finisher! And perhaps most important of all, be patient with yourself. Share your successes with others. It will be more of an encouragement to others than you will ever realize. Be ok running solo, but find some running friends too. Facebook ones are good, but ones in “real life” are even better.

What are some of your goals? 
I want to run a marathon, but mostly I just want to keep on running. I want running to be part of who I am as a person. It’s a part of my story now and I want it to stay that way. There was a lady in my church when I was in high school that still ran races into her 80s. That’s the kind of runner I want to be. Signing up for races will really help me stay on track. I think I’m going to be the kind of person who runs races every few months. It will give me goals to work towards, paid accountability if you will. J

I took this picture the day my Weight Watchers leader declared I had to go and buy some new clothes.(Left) 
I posed in one of my new favorite dresses, it’s now a little too big (Middle).
October 2012 my friend Morgan took this picture of me. It was the week I started Weight Watchers. (Right)
(photos courtesy of Austina Jordan)

in the middle of a 9 mile run 6/8/13 (photo courtesy of Austina Jordan)

Need some more inspiration? Check out these other profiles of amazing women who gave running a chance!

Kate Elliott
Chanice Jones

Saturday, June 15, 2013

mother, wife, daughter, running partner?

Running has brought me many things; joy, peace, a sense of self, pride in my accomplishments and most recently it has been the catalyst for creating new friendships and deepening the ones I already have.

When I started running, specifically longer distances, I couldn't find anyone to join me. I'm not the most out going person in the world so I was loathe to join in on the local running club's weekend runs. I've logged many miles by myself and began to believe I enjoyed hitting the road all by my lonesome.

Enter Austina.

Austina and her husband (photo courtesy of Austina)
 After losing 40 lbs, she has started running again and thankfully has picked me to be her running partner. I'm someone's running partner. Huh. Not necessarily a title I thought I would ever have but I'm loving it.

We usually run together once a week and use that time to vent, laugh, and talk about running. I've really started to look forward to these runs; to share what I love about running, and just getting to know her better.

If your running life is getting a little stale, lacking some sparkle, or just becoming too routine - go find someone to run with. It will inject your runs with some new life and give you an opportunity to share what you love.    

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Profiles of Inspirational Women: Chanice Jones

There are people in my life that just make me happy. Chanice Jones is one of those people. She is funny, honest, and unreservedly excited about running.

To date, she has lost over 65 lbs and regularly runs with two of her three children in a jogging stroller. She has overhauled her family's diet and lives to shop for and eat real, healthy food. She is an inspiration to any woman who fears that she can not make monumental changes in her life. 

Chanice has also been pivotal in the creation of Crown Chasers of North East Georgia, a local Christian based running club, that seeks to provide encouragement for others to do what she has done; to grow stronger physically and spiritually, focusing on improving the whole person. 

What is your story and why did you decide to start running?
I began running in 2010 after watching two youth members of our church cross the finish line at a local 5k. I had been walking regularly and made a vow that day to run a 30 minute 5k the next year. I went home that day and walk/ran my fastest 5k distance at a pace of 13:38. All I could think was that I would never be able to run any faster than that! I ran my first continuous mile in January of 2011. After working diligently over the next few months, I was eventually able to run 5 miles in 50 minutes. Exactly 1 week later, I found out I was pregnant with our third child. I continued to run and in October was able to run a 5k in 36 minutes. A year later, in October of 2012, I reached my goal and ran a sub 30 minute 5k!

How has running changed your life?
RUNNING HAS CHANGED EVERYTHING FOR ME!!! Running has given me the confidence to live out God’s will for my life and given me a newfound sense of purpose. At almost 38 years old, I honestly feel like the only limits are the ones that I place on myself. All things through Christ are possible! I have a passion for encouraging others to grow stronger physically and spiritually. I would love the opportunity to speak to various groups about what God has taught me through running. I also have plans to write a devotional book with a running training plan for beginners.

What obstacles have you faced?
The only obstacles I have faced is the tendency to over train and becoming injured as a result. 

What advice would you give someone who is where you were?
I would advise any beginner to take it slowly and to not over train. It takes time for your body to adjust to the demands of running, so listen to your body and rest when you need to. It also takes time for your muscles to build the strength needed to run, so ask someone with experience to help write a training plan that works for you. You are more likely to succeed if you have a plan to follow and you set a goal.  

One other piece of advice for newbies, especially for those trying to lose weight- tell as many people as you can about what you are doing. Let them know what your goals are and when you work out. Posting my runs and my progress on Facebook has been one of the biggest motivators for me. It has helped me to know that other people knew whether I ran or not!  

Lastly, don’t be afraid to sweat and push yourself beyond what you believe is possible. One of my proudest running moments was not at the finish of a race, but on a run by myself when I just really felt like I couldn’t finish. My muscles ached and burned, but I pushed through and kept going. I realized then that, even when it hurts, there is victory at the top of that hill! This lesson has been transposed into every area of my life. No matter what I may face on any given day, I know I have the strength to carry on!!!

What are some of your goals?
As for personal goals, I would like to lose 35 more pounds, bringing my weight loss total to 100 lbs!

I am currently training to run my first half marathon in October and would love to complete a triathlon.

I am also excited to work with Crown Chasers and to bring my love and excitement of running to the larger community.  

Chanice at her biggest  (photo courtesy of Chanice Jones)

Winter 2010, Spring 2011, June 2013 (photos courtesy of Chanice  Jones)
To learn more about Crown Chasers please visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/crownchasers or follow the club on Twitter @Crownchasersrun.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Profiles of Inspirational Women: Kate Elliott

Great ideas usually come to me at the strangest times. For instance, the other day while I was taking my post long run shower, I randomly thought to myself, "I know some amazing, inspirational women." That thought was followed by, "I wish everyone had a chance to hear their stories." Light bulb goes off. "I should do a series of blog posts about inspirational women. Women who have changed their lives through running and healthy eating. And I know EXACTLY who I'm going to ask."

Thankfully, all three were enthusiastic about my idea and excited about participating. They are three different women, in different points of their lives but they have one thing in common: they all woke up one morning and said enough is enough.  

My hope is that you will take something away from their honest answers to my simple questions. That you will see something of yourself in them, and like them, feel compelled to make a change. 
Our first Inspirational Woman is Kate Elliot.
I went to college with Kate, or Katie as she was known then, and was always impressed by her intelligence and quick wit. Since she has started running, she has been an endless source of encouragement and support. Her kind words got me to the starting line of my fourth marathon and gave me the courage to believe I could reach my goal.  
Without further ado....
Question 1: What is your story and what got you started running?
  • Growing up, I was the kid who always had her nose in a book. I liked being outside but I started putting on weight after my parents split up and became less and less comfortable being active. I tried running once or twice over the years but it always led to excruciating pain because I tried to do too much too quickly. 
  • In April 2012, I hit my highest weight ever. My clothes (even XXL men's t-shirts) were all tight. I went to Old Navy to buy some new ones and, after I stripped in the dressing room, I really saw myself in the mirror and I was astonished. It was at that point that I realized how horribly I felt - tired all the time, ashamed of my body, experiencing various health problems.
  • Within a few days, I'd completely overhauled my refrigerator, filling it with veggies and lean meats, and I stopped eating fast food, which had become my main diet. For several months, I focused on diet and lost 20-30 pounds. (I don't weight myself, so I'm not sure how much it was exactly.) Then, I decided it was time to start exercising. For most of July, I worked out to DVDs. But one day I decided to take the Couch to 5K app I'd had on my iPod out for a spin by doing laps around my block.
  • I hated it! After completing less than 15 minutes (barely a mile/two laps), I went back into my house and took a shower. After about two weeks, I decided to try it again. This time, I forced myself to go away from my house for the first half so that, even if I decided not to run back, I'd still have to cover the distance to get home. I also kept walking for 20-30 minutes at the end of each C25K workout.
  • I was as surprised as anyone when, one day, in the middle of a run, I thought, "I really like this. I think I'm a runner now."
Question 2: How has running changed your life?
  • I have done the expected things: lost weight, built muscle, increased my strength and endurance.
  • Even better, I've reconnected with old friends or connected with them in new ways and made a bunch of new friends, too.
  • I have a level of confidence that I've rarely experienced before and never in relation to my body. I used to obsess over every lump and jiggle but now, even when I notice those things, they are almost always overridden by proud thoughts of things I've done with this jiggly body.
  • Less than a year ago, I would have laughed in someone's face if they had suggested I'd ever run a half marathon. So far, I've run two... on consecutive weekends. Thinking about things like that, it's hard to take the word "can't" seriously anymore.
  • Also, I'm almost always hungry.
Question 3: What obstacles have you faced?
  • So far, the only real obstacles I've faced were an injury about 6 weeks after I started and some hip pain before my first half marathon.
  • A seven-mile walk in flip-flops left me with an irritating case of tendinitis in September 2012. Strangely enough, it was this injury that helped me realize that I was a runner because I actually missed doing it.
  • The hip pain taught me some humility because it came at a time when I was seeing real gains in my speed, so I was forced to slow down and even take a week off.
Question 4: What advice would you give someone who is where you were?
Since I was at almost ground zero, this advice is mostly for non-runners: 
  • Give it a shot.
  • Ease into it - there are about a million couch to 5K apps and training plans out there that will help you. If running even 30 seconds at a time is too much, just walk briskly for a few weeks and do a little test jog once in a while to see if your body is adjusting.
  • Go slower than you think you can and you'll go further than you ever imagined.
  • Find friends who love running (you have more than you think), aren't obnoxious about it, and don't take themselves too seriously and talk to them/hang out with them frequently.
  • Pick a race, register for it, and do it even if you have to walk some or most of it.
  • Get fitted for shoes at a real running store. Investing in gear can make running more comfortable and enjoyable and can also be a motivation to keep going.
  • If you find that running isn't for you, don't just give up, try something else.
Question 5: What are some of your goals?
  1. I want to run the marathon at Run Wild Missoula, MT, in July 2014. At that point, I will have been running for just shy of two years. 
  2. Running a sub-30 minute 5k. (32:18 is my current PR.)
  3. I'd like to reach a healthy weight by next January. 
  4. Maintaining a 10 minute/mile pace is sort of a dream goal that I think will be helped along immensely by reaching goals 1-3 above.
Extra Kate advice: 
  • Weight loss is not guaranteed. My weight loss (approximately 70 pounds so far) has slowed significantly, particularly since I started training for longer distances. Running is difficult and it burns a lot of calories but it's really easy to replace them. Diet is still a key component to weight loss.
  • The running community is possibly the most welcoming group of people I've ever met. Just like every other segment of the population, there are some loud-mouthed jerks but, for the most part, I've received nothing but love, acceptance, encouragement, and kindness from my running family. Seek out runners. They will amaze you.
photo courtesy of Kate Elliott

Kate & Bart Yasso! photo courtesy of Kate Elliott

Read more about Kate's journey on her blog: http://avoicecrying.blogspot.com/

Stay tuned for the next installment of Inspirational Women featuring Chanice Jones, founder of Crown Chasers. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Product Review: Yasso Greek Yogurt Bars

My addiction to sugar has been well documented. Not only do I love cookies and chocolate, but I'm a big fan of ice cream.

In my quest to become a healthier me, I have had to forgo my usual comfort foods. Not surprisingly, not eating my favorite things has made me sad, which just makes me want to eat my favorite things even more.

Quite the conundrum.

Enter my NEW favorite thing: Yasso Greek Yogurt Bars.

photo courtesy of Yasso
I am in love. Unashamed, passionate, consuming love.

Don't worry, my husband knows.

Before I tell you how wholesome, healthy, and good for you these little bundles of joy are, let me tell you how AMAZING they taste. They're good. Super good. Refreshing, and the perfect size to satisfy any craving. Coconut is our personal family favorite, followed closely by Mango. I'm normally not a fan of tropical flavors, but these bars are not overwhelming - they are the perfect balance between the flavor of the ingredients and Greek yogurt.

Ok, now to the nitty gritty. Not only do they taste good, but they're not going to put you in an early grave.

Yasso bars are made with only natural ingredients, they are low or fat free (depending on the variety), contain no artificial sweeteners, and are made with rBST-free milk. Most contain 6 grams of protein (with Vanilla Bean coming in with 7 g) and are only 80 calories. Ding! Ding! We have a winner!

Trust me you need to try these. Head to the Yasso.com and find a local retailer... you will be glad that you did.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Calling all UltraMarathoners...

It has been 56 days since I ran my last marathon.

So, of course, I'm itching to start training for another one.

It's very much like childbirth: you forget just how painful, stressful, and exhausting the process can because the end result is just fabulous.

I may or not be addicted to long distance running. I'll let you decide.


On July 1st, I start training for The North Face Endurance Challenge. I'm registered to run the 50k. 31.25 miles. On a trail. In the woods.

Since I decided to do this; to make the ultramarathon plunge, I've been in denial. After Knoxville, I was ready to call it quits and couldn't even think about running 31 consecutive miles. Thankfully, time heals all wounds and I'm ready to tackle one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced.

I'm a bundle of emotions. Excited, nervous, happy, anxious, and feeling slightly out of my element.

This is where you come in.

I need your help. Your knowledge. Tricks & tips to get across that finish line.

Ultramarathoners & Trail runners: any advice you would give to a newbie? Advice about training? Things you wish you would have known before your first race? Things I should bring with me? Things I shouldn't bring with me?

To any other first timers: make yourself known! Let's help each other through this journey.

Buckle your seats ladies and gentlemen, it's going to be a wild ride.