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Friday Five: 5 Healthy Halloween Tips

Today’s Friday Five is all about Halloween! Your Friday Five co-hosts – the “DC Trifecta” of me, Mar, and Courtney – met for lunch last week at the delicious Thunder Burger and Bar in Georgetown and chatted about Friday Five themes. We had the most amazing burgers and came up with themes through the end of November – you can find them here. Today’s theme is “Halloween” since Friday lands on the actual day.

As you can imagine, I have so much going on with the kids this week, and then I’m leaving on a business trip on Sunday. And when I get stressed I tend to… ahem… overindulge in sweets. And tonight I’m going to have a ton of leftover candy sitting around. Bad combination. So I thought I’d write 5 Healthy Halloween Tips to help keep me – and you! – on track through the weekend.

5 Healthy Halloween Tips

1. Run or work out at the start of the day. I know that when I start my day out with exercise, I tend to eat healthier the rest of the day. It sets the tone for my day and puts me in the right frame of mind, and my body just feels more in tune. I’m more likely to make healthier choices if I feel amazing from a good run or workout.

2. Don’t treat Halloween as an excuse. If you have weight loss or health goals, don’t indulge and gorge yourself on candy just because it’s Halloween. It’s just another day on the calendar – it’s October 31! It’s Friday! Yes, it happens to be Halloween, and Halloween is completely focused around candy. But you don’t need a random day on the calendar to give you a free pass to eat bucket loads of sugar.

3. Arm yourself with healthy munchies. If you’re passing out candy to trick-or-treaters, or sorting through your kids’ candy after the trip around the neighborhood, have a healthy snack at the ready. I need to have something “snacky” that I can munch on – small pieces of something that I can reach for. Try baby carrots or slice up an apple for bite sized pieces of healthy snacks. With something to munch on, you’re less likely to reach into the candy bowl. Part of the reason I had overindulged in the past is the comforting snacking feeling, and if I can satisfy that urge with something healthier than candy, I’ll feel better in the long run.

4. Get rid of the leftovers. Trick-or-treaters didn’t clean out your candy stockpile? It’s not your job to finish off the bag. You don’t owe it to the candy to make sure it gets eaten! As soon as you turn off that porch light, put the candy on a high shelf and don’t keep it at grabbing-level. Out of sight, out of mind. Then donate it tomorrow – there are even organizations that send it to the troops overseas. I’m not going to take my leftover candy into my office, because then I’ll just eat it at work!

5. Allow yourself a favorite. You don’t have to completely deprive yourself of all the goodies. Pick out one or two favorites before you clear out your pantry and enjoy them. I find that if I have one or two sweets that I really love, I savor them rather than gorge myself, and I’m much happier than if I had eaten six mediocre pieces of candy.

Most of all, have fun and don’t stress too much – it’s one day of the year, and hopefully we can stay on the healthy track and focused on our fitness and health goals through the challenging holiday season – Halloween is only the beginning!

Be sure to visit the other Friday Five posts linked up below and check out our upcoming Friday Five themes. I can’t reveal much, but we have something SUPER FUN planned for November – a big surprise! See how happy we were about having a chance to talk in person over cheeseburgers? So happy that we even took a DC Trifecta selfie on the street in Georgetown!

DC Trifecta selfie

Are you dressing up in costume for Halloween? You can check out a pic of my costume in this post!

Do you have a healthy Halloween tip? Share in the comments!


So Am I Training For a Marathon or What?

I’ts time for a semi-surprise confession: I’m training for a marathon. Sunday’s 17-mile run proves it.

This weekend was a test. I haven’t really talked much about it, but I’m registered for the GORE-TEX® Philadelphia Marathon. The whole thing. I haven’t done a full marathon since the Marine Corps Marathon in 2007, and only one before that – way back in 2005 before I had kids.

So what got into me? Why did I quietly register for a full marathon?

There I was, sitting on my couch a couple months ago, registering for the Philadelphia Half Marathon and thought to myself: “Do it. Register for the Full.” I figured I’d be in pretty good shape after my Half Ironman, and then I could jump into the end of a marathon training plan.

This plan could be either stupid or genius.

So after the Augusta Half Ironman I moved on to running races. I did the Army Ten Miler, then the Baltimore Half Marathon the next weekend. I was back on the running track. And, in fact, the weekend of Baltimore I ran in the Timex ONERelay, so the mileage really added up – just not all together into one long run, but I logged some serious miles that weekend.

But all this has not been the same as a fully-fledged marathon training plan, and having gone through that twice, I respect marathon training. It’s a hard road and I didn’t want to minimize it and just think that I could whip out a marathon finish without really following a plan from A to Z. I don’t want to end up injured and I do want to finish a race that I start.

I’m really excited about Philadelphia, but I have been completely torn on whether to drop down to the half marathon.


Photo credit: GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon website

So I treated this past weekend as a test. If I could fit in a solid long run, I’d be on track. I have a marathon training plan sketched out on paper – it’s a hybrid of a couple plans, adapted to account for where I am jumping into the program and the October races I already had on the calendar.

I was aiming for 17 miles. I headed out just after 7am on Sunday morning, knowing I had a time limit – I had to work two kids’ concerts in full Halloween costume attire that day.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous. Perfect running weather. My favorite place to run, a big soccer park is about 3 miles from my house, but I went a longer route and arrived at the park at about 4 miles and hit the gorgeous paths around the soccerplex.

At about mile 5, I put in my headphones. I hadn’t run with music in so long that it really gave me a huge boost!

17 mile run

Then, a dog came running directly towards me – it totally freaked me out. Thankfully, it was a sweet little puppy, excited to see a runner, but OMG HEART ATTACK. It reminded me of this 5 Hidden Talents of Runners article that I recently wrote for RunHaven.

I remembered that a couple of Moms Run This Town ladies were meeting to run in the park at 9am, so I timed my run to be at the meeting spot and ran two miles with them – a little slower than my other pace but awesome to have people to run with!

At this point, I was getting texts from my husband about various things at home, and I figured I’d head home a little early. I arrived home after 15 miles, checked in with the family and saw everything was okay, so I grabbed my 5 year old and the running stroller! We headed out the door for the last two miles.

Running with a stroller is better done at the beginning of the run. Through mile 16 I felt really great and even said “maybe we’ll go 3 instead of 2!” but then, suddenly, as I started mile 17, I just felt done.

And this guy never stops talking and asking me questions – not so easy to push him and chat during Mile 17!

Kid in stroller

The average pace wasn’t exactly what I wanted, and I had some stops in there that the watch didn’t account for (texting with my husband, meeting up with the MRTT friends, a bathroom stop), but overall it was a great run. In fact, I felt like I could have kept running if it hadn’t been for pushing the gigantic 5 year old that last mile!

17 mile run

Here are the mile splits:

Mile 1 = 10:02 / Mile 2 = 9:46 / Mile 3 = 9:58 / Mile 4 = 9:45 / Mile 5 = 9:36
Mile 6 = 9:53 / Mile 7 = 9:58 / Mile 8 = 10:01 / Mile 9 = 10:09
Mile 10 = 11:29 / Mile 11 = 11:45 - joined two other ladies from Moms Run This Town for a couple of miles – so nice to have company!
Mile 12 = 11:12 – sometime in this mile I parted ways with the ladies and headed out of park for home
Mile 13 = 9:57 / Mile 14 = 10:03 / Mile 15 = 10:11

— Arrived home, grabbed the kid and the stroller —

Mile 16 = 10:43 - pushing the 5yo in the stroller – feeling pretty good!
Mile 17 = 11:44 – This is not feeling good. I’m DONE. No more stroller running at the END of a long run!

After the run I hydrated, ate, showered, and got in costume for the kids’ concerts. Working on my feet all day was not exactly the preferred post-long-run activity – I was wishing I could get in compression socks and have a glass of wine!

Snow White costume

I have a marathon training plan all mapped out for the next month, but next weekend will be challenging since I’m leaving for a business trip on Sunday. But this weekend’s test worked out great – I got in a solid 17-mile run, and I think that I’m really doing this.

I’m training for a marathon.


Are you training for a race right now?

Timex #ONERelay Recap

Remember how I told you about the Timex #ONERelay? Even though it wasn’t a “race”, I wanted to follow up with a recap because there are some a-ma-zing photos that Timex sent along, and it was a cool experience!

For those of you who might not have seen the post-relay Facebook posts, I completed my six-mile leg of the Timex ONE Relay in Annapolis on Sunday, October 19. I was sore from the Baltimore Half Marathon the day before, but I was excited to be a part of the relay so I ignored the soreness!

When I first heard about this relay, I immediately applied to be a part of it since it seemed like such a cool event, and the charity aspect really spoke to me. Plus, it was a fun chance to test out the new Timex ONE GPS watch – I love gadgets. They invited me to do a leg in Annapolis, and gave me the choice of 3-10 miles. I opted for 6 miles since I figured that was what my post-half-marathon legs would be willing to do. And since Timex was donating $100/mile to a charity of my choice picked out from a list on Charity Miles, I wanted to run as many miles as my legs could handle to donate as much money to the cause as I could! I picked the Ironman Foundation – see my previous post for information on the Ironman Foundation and a video about the cause.

I convinced my dad to come along and take my two older kids. They love to watch me run and haven’t been to a race in months. The trip over to Annapolis sounded like a fun time for them.

We met Timex and the other runners at Fleet Feet in Annapolis, and were briefed by the Timex staff.  We were given the new GPS watches to wear during our run – it was pretty cool! Too bad I couldn’t keep it!

Timex ONE GPS watch

I got to know the features of the watch and how to set it up for the run.

Timex #ONERelay

It’s touch screen and was pretty intuitive. Excuse the blurriness, I had a brand new phone I was trying to use as a camera for the very first time.

Timex ONE GPS watch

I got a swag bag with an awesome Headsweats visor to wear – perfect since I’m a Headsweats Ambassador – along with a couple other items like a basic Timex watch, a shirt, and a water bottle.

Timex #ONERelay Annapolis

I brought my running stroller, and asked if I could run my leg with my son. He’s five, and pretty heavy, but I train with him a lot. They said sure, so I bundled him up in a blanket.

Timex #ONERelay Annapolis preparing to run

We got GPS signal outside on the watches and discussed the route.

Timex #ONERelay watches

And then I was off and running! It was congested with tourists for the first few blocks – a boat show had Annapolis packed! – so there aren’t any great photos of the beginning. But I have lots of great photos from the rest of the run.

First, here are the photos that Timex took. Um, wow. They are awesome. I’ll just group them together and then share the other photos my dad took.

Timex #ONERelay pushing stroller Annapolis

Photo credit: Timex

Timex #ONERelay pushing kid in stroller

Photo credit: Timex

photo 4

Photo credit: Timex

Timex #ONERelay pushing stroller

Photo credit: Timex

Timex #ONERelay daughter high five

Photo credit: Timex

Now here are some of the photos that my dad took of me running pushing the stroller. Annapolis is a cool city to run through and once we got away from crowds of tourists blocking the sidewalks, it was really pleasant and scenic!

Timex #ONERelay run through Annapolis 2

We headed out of the downtown area.

Timex #ONERelay Annapolis sign

Here’s a photo I took on the bridge with my phone – Annapolis bridge selfie! It was really windy!

Annapolis running on bridge

Back to my dad’s photos. When he saw the gal from Timex on the bike he knew we must be right behind!

Timex #ONERelay running Annapolis bridge

That is one windy bridge!

Timex #ONERelay Coming down Annapolis bridge

My daughter had so much fun watching us run!

Timex #ONERelay daughter on bridge

Here’s a “behind the scenes” photo – you can see my son waving to my daughter – look up at the first Timex photo of us running on the bridge – this is that moment from another angle.

Timex #ONERelay daughter waving on bridge

Kieran warmed up as the sun came up, and when we came off the bridge and ran on a trail.

Timex #ONERelay finishing run

After this experience, I’m dreaming of having three professional photographers to follow me everywhere I run and take amazing photos. Plus my dad. Seriously, it was like having the paparazzi with me! Except these guys were really nice.

Timex #ONERelay photographers

I finished my 6 miles and checked out the watch data.

Timex ONE GPS watch finished with run

I didn’t use the watch enough to give a full review, but I did like the big, touch screen, colorful display and it seemed really easy to use. The feature of the watch that’s really unique is the text messaging and other capabilities like syncing with workout apps – you don’t need to take your phone with you. They say it’s the “ONE” gadget you need – get it?

Timex ONE GPS watch

It was a great experience, despite sore legs from the Baltimore Half Marathon, and I’m thrilled to have participated and raised $600 for the Ironman Foundation. They do great work and I’m proud to support the cause.

I love Annapolis and recognized a lot of the route from ZOOMA Annapolis. I’m excited to run it again this spring!

(PS – see this post for a ZOOMA Annapolis discount code!)

My son had a great time being pushed for an hour and waving to everyone. So did my dad and daughter – they loved driving on ahead of us and stopping to take pictures.

Timex #ONERelay finished

There are a few more days left of the Timex #ONERelay – check out the route on the website! It runs 800 miles from Chicago to New York, with over 100 runners participating and lots of money raised for charity.

Do you wear a GPS watch for running? What do you like about it?

Friday Five: Five Reasons to Run a Half Marathon

Today’s Friday Five linkup is a topic that I’m passionate about. My co-hosts Courtney, Mar, and I picked Five Reasons to RACE! Errrr, no wait. We picked Five Reasons to RUN!

Wait, which one is it? The answer? Either! Both!

We’re not the Theme Police, we just love to toss out a topic and see how YOU put your own spin on the theme and make it your own. In honor of completing my fifth half marathon of 2014 last Saturday at the Baltimore Running Festival, I picked Five Reasons to Run a Half Marathon. Get it? Five half marathons in 2014, and this is the Friday Five… see what I did there?

5 Reasons to Run a Half Marathon running

First, let’s recap the five half marathons I’ve done this year – this is the Friday Five, after all:

  1. Disney Princess Half Marathon in Florida – this was the second part of the Glass Slipper Challenge.
  2. Seashore Classic Half Marathon in Delaware – a nice, beachy, local-feel race.
  3. Frederick Half Marathon in Maryland – my “Goldilocks race”. Not too big, not too small.
  4. ZOOMA Annapolis Half Marathon in Maryland – this is a sure thing for 2015 since I’m a ZOOMA Ambassador again for 2015 (use CYNTHIA15 for a ZOOMA discount!)
  5. Baltimore Running Festival Half Marathon in Maryland – sick, runny nose, but yeah, I ran that thing anyhow.

I achieved “Half Fanatic” status in the Spring (hello from HF#7608!) and really do love the half marathon distance race, I always have. In my life, I’ve completed many more halfs, I just didn’t have a blog so my family and friends had to hear me go on and on (and on) about them. I think they’re all thrilled I finally have somewhere to talk about my running adventures.

So why do a Half Marathon? Here are 5 Reasons to Run a Half Marathon!

1. It’s a solid challenge. Training for a half marathon takes a significant amount of time and commitment. It’s not easy to just whip out a half marathon on no training, without getting injured of course. It’s a solid, BIG goal to train for and that kind of training plan can keep you focused for many weeks.

2. It’s manageable. It may be a solid challenge, but it is manageable. It is doable. You can do it. YOU can run a half marathon with training and dedication.

3. It doesn’t take over your life like full marathon training. Half marathon training doesn’t take over your life as much as full marathon training. It’s manageable to fit into your life, especially if you’re a busy mom like me. I ran my last marathon in 2007 when I had only one child. When I had #2 (and then #3), I decided to stick to half marathons so that it didn’t take so much time away from my time with the kids.

Marathon inspirational quote

3. It’s a good test of your endurance. If you’re considering a full marathon or another endurance activity, managing the feeling of pushing past your limits during a half marathon can be a good test for you in those hours out on the race course.

4. It’s a good way to practice your fueling and race strategy for a full marathon. If you’re training for a full marathon, running a half marathon as part of your training is a great way to practice race-day fueling and your attire. Did that gel work for you after running for an hour and a half or did it cause you some stomach distress? Can you handle coffee on race morning? Is any part of your outfit chafing? These are good ways to test things out for a full marathon. If you have no intention of ever running a full marathon, move on to #5. Nothing to see here, people…

5. The atmosphere. Hands down, the reason I love to run half marathons is the atmosphere. From the super fast and elite runners to the newer runners, everyone is there for one thing. They are there to run this awesome distance, to challenge themselves, to push themselves, and to enjoy it.

Today I’m having lunch with my Friday Five co-hosts Courtney from Eat Pray Run, DC and Mar from Mar on the Run. We’re excited to get a chance to chat in person and do some Friday Five future planning. The DC Trifecta hasn’t been all together in a while – here’s a pic of us at ZOOMA Annapolis from May!

DC Trifecta at ZOOMA starting line

If you have any theme suggestions for future topics, please shout them out in the comments and we’ll discuss at lunch!

Have you run a half marathon? If so, how many?

Join the linkup below if you have a Friday Five post! If not, go check out all the other blogs linking up on our theme (or with their own five post!). Be sure to visit at least 3-5 other blogs and leave a comment.

Sausage, Peppers, and Onions Over Quinoa

This post is sponsored by Hillshire Brands via the Mom It Forward Blogger Network, but all opinions and this recipe are my own!

I’ve been focused on protein lately, not only my own protein intake but also making sure that the whole family gets enough of it. The kids would eat pasta for dinner every day if they had the choice, so I’m always trying to be creative with interesting meals that have a good source of protein. This week I was able to try something new from the Hillshire Brands line – Hillshire Farm American Craft Smoked Sausage, and I whipped up a tasty dish with it: Sausage, Peppers, and Onions Over Quinoa.

Sausage Peppers and Onions Recipe

I was able to use a coupon to buy the sausage with a discount from Safeway – bonus! It was through the new (or maybe just new-to-me) Just for U e-coupon service on Safeway’s website, and the coupon was electronically added to my Safeway account. Some sort of voodoo magic happening there – totally convenient. Especially since I had left my wallet at home and had to trek home and back to the Safeway late at night in the pouring rain while they held my order by the register – I really didn’t need to be messing with physical coupons right then!

The American Craft line are fancier, flavored versions of the Hillshire Farm Sausages, and there are a few varieties to choose from – Craft Beer Brat, Jalepeno & Cheddar, Garlic & Onion, and Smoky Bourbon. I was most intrigued by the Craft Beer Brat, but my Safeway didn’t happen to carry it. I was tempted by the Jalepeno & Cheddar, but wanted to go with something I knew my kids would eat. [Although if I made the Jalepeno, that would mean more for me, right? Hmmm, not strategic on my part!].

So I went with the Garlic & Onion flavor. This way I could spruce it up with my own seasonings. Turns out, it didn’t need much!

American Craft Sausage with peppers

The sausage has an awesome flavor all on its own and I would have been happy with it just grilled, but it’s a rainy October week and the grill is sad and lonely out in the yard. It worked very well with the ingredients I used, and was tasty over the quinoa.

Cooked sausage and peppers

I first learned about quinoa when I was doing Weight Watchers – I had never heard of it before that and was on a mission to healthify my meals. I loved the taste and loved that it’s a a fabulous source of protein and other nutrients like fiber and iron.


So I decided to pair my American Craft sausage with quinoa since it sounded like a delicious combination. It was!

Sausage Peppers and Onions over Quinoa

I’m excited to share the recipe – we think it’s delicious. Be warned that we’re paprika freaks. I actually added more than the recipe calls for and toned it down just for you. A teaspoon should be fine, we’re just paprika-crazy in this house.


Sausage, Peppers, and Onions Over Quinoa
Recipe type: Main dish
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
Sausage, peppers, and onions over quinoa using Hillshire Farm American Craft Smoked Sausage.
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • ⅔ cup water
  • 1 package Hillshire Farm American Craft Garlic & Onion sausage (14.5 oz.)
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. chopped garlic
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1 sweet onion, sliced
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika (adjust to your taste, we're paprika lovers)
  • 1 Tbsp. basil (I used fresh basil paste found in the produce section of the grocery store)
  1. Cook quinoa according to package instructions. I use a pre-rinsed variety, but if your package doesn't specify then rinse the quinoa before using.
  2. To cook the sausage: Bring ⅔ cup of water to a boil in a large skillet. Add sausage, cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 10-12 minutes or until heated thoroughly, turning once.
  3. Remove sausage from pan and set aside. Let it cool and slice into bite sized rounds.
  4. Drain water from pan and return to stove.
  5. Add olive oil, garlic, and onions and cook on medium high heat until onions begin to soften.
  6. Stir in red peppers, green peppers, and mushrooms.
  7. Add white wine, lemon juice, paprika, and basil and stir.
  8. Cook until peppers soften and flavors mix.
  9. Add cooked sausage slices to pan and cook 2-3 minutes, or until heated thoroughly and flavors are blended.
  10. Serve sausage and pepper mixture over quinoa.

Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

I was really (and truly!) impressed with the Safeway Just for U e-coupon system – you can use it for so many other Hillshire Brands products, so be sure to check it out if you need to add more protein into your life.

Hillshire Farm Coupon

I thought I’d share more recipes using Hillshire Brands sausage products – enjoy!

What’s your favorite dish with smoked sausage?

Have you ever used an electronic coupon?

12 Nut-Free Fall Side Dishes to Fall For

12 Nut-Free Fall Side Dishes to Fall For! 

Check out 12 Fall Nut-Free Side Dishes to Fall For

by Cynthia Steele at

As you know, my youngest has several food allergies. Fall is a time when people add nuts to everything – it’s just a fall “thing”. As much as I love nuts, it can be tough to navigate fall food when it might send a two-year old to the hospital. So these days I’m having fun in the evenings hunting for fall recipes – I like to find nut-free side dishes and nut-free main dishes that we can add to our repertoire. We tend to get into the same ruts over and over and over… seriously, the kid will eat pasta for every meal if you let him!

I’ve put together a collection over at with 12 nut-free fall side dishes – enjoy and be inspired for autumn flavors! You don’t have to be nut-allergic to enjoy these – they just happen to not contain peanuts or nuts of any kind! And still super delicious!

12 Nut Free Fall Side Dishes to Fall For collage

In this collection, you’ll find:

  1. Cinnamon Wheat Bread (My very own allergy-safe bread recipe that the whole family devours)
  2. Broccolini and Feta Galette
  3. Carrot Tart in a Glaze of Glory
  4. Easy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
  5. Roasted Acorn Squash with Mushrooms, Peppers, and Goat Cheese
  6. Roasted Squash with Brown Butter and Cinnamon
  7. Fall in Love with Fall Pumpkin Soup
  8. Homemade Applesauce in the Slow Cooker
  9. Butternut Squash, Cranberry, and Apple Bake
  10. Roasted Pumpkin Wedges with Goat Cheese, Thyme, and Sage
  11. Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar
  12. Roasted Sweet Potato Risotto

Scroll through the collection at the top of the post, and pick a new side dish for dinner tonight, or go directly to the collection here.

What’s your favorite fall side dish?

Do you have any food allergies, or does anyone in your family?

Oh, and an important PS - If you are peanut or nut allergic, have any other food allergies, or are making these for a nut-allergic guest, please read labels and check with manufacturers on the allergy-friendliness of their products and facilities. While I present this collection as “nut-free”, your specific ingredients and packages should be your guide.

This is a sponsored post with but all opinions are my own!

Baltimore Half Marathon Race Recap 2014

Where to begin for my Baltimore Half Marathon Race Recap… Do I begin back in the Spring, when I was gunning for a sub-2-hour half and just barely missed it at the Frederick Half Marathon? Do I begin with the Army Ten Miler a week ago? Do I begin with the congestion and head cold that plagued me the week between that race and the Baltimore Half Marathon?

I can’t decide, so I’ll just bring you up to speed with a five-point rundown, and then we can get to the race recap:

  1. I was working hard for the sub-2 in the Spring and almost had it at Frederick. I COULD HAVE RUN 4 SECONDS FASTER. Okay, enough of that. I’ll get over it some day.
  2. After the ZOOMA Annapolis Half Marathon, I focused on duathlons and triathlons. The Army Ten Miler was my first running race since the Spring.
  3. I held a decent pace for the Army Ten Miler and felt pretty on track for the sub-2 at Baltimore.
  4. After the Army race, I got sick. I did ZERO running all week, and the only workout was my Masters Swimming workout on Wednesday. I felt pretty run down, with tired limbs/body and a head cold.
  5. I decided to go for the sub-2 in Baltimore anyhow. I’m not going to NOT try, ya know?

As I posted on Instagram and Facebook from the finish line, the Baltimore race for me was “all about the battle between how bad you want it and how bad your body doesn’t want you to have it“. This was running through my head as I ran – how bad do I want it? I want it, so I can make my body do it. Right?

Baltimore Half Marathon Race Recap


I did not plan this part well, especially since I was under the weather all week. I’ve had so many Sunday races that a Saturday race really left me with a surprise: how to get my packet/bib on a work day?! I left work early on Friday for a doctor’s appointment (remember the fire ants biting me at my transition spot in Ironman 70.3 Augusta? The bites were still raging!). So I planned to head to the Baltimore Running Festival Expo after the doctor, but I had dropped my phone in a toilet earlier that day and needed to spend considerable time waiting in line on a Friday evening to get a new one.

So my little buddy and I headed to Baltimore late that evening – it’s about a 50-minute drive.

Baltimore Running Festival expoWe parked on the street, breezed right into the Expo – they were just about to close so there was no line for bib pickup or shirts, and the volunteers were still super friendly and helpful, despite it being almost 9pm! I bought my ritual race pint glass and we headed out the door. This 5 year old was going to bed late…

That night, I started stressing about the morning and parking because on Facebook people were saying that you need to get there before the Marathon starts to get parking. People said to take light rail – honestly, I’m not that familiar with Baltimore and don’t even know what the light rail is or where I would park and take that. There was no way I was waking up at 4am for a half marathon that started at 8:45am. I was sure that somehow I would find a place to park – it might not be free, and it might be a long walk, but I’d find a place.


I headed out the door at 6:30, crossing my fingers about parking. When I approached Baltimore, there was a huge line of cars for one particular off-ramp, but that wasn’t where I intended to go. Phew. I headed towards Camden Yards and immediately off the exit I saw two parking areas (for pay). Picked one and parked. Easy.

I was in a bit of a sick-fog, so the big mistake I made was not really noting where the garage was located. I looked around and said “yep, I’ll remember this!”, but having a specific store to look up on Google Maps would have helped me find my car later!

I walked over to the starting area – the Marathon had started and I was able to watch some of the runners.

The weather was perfect. I had worn an old shirt to hang around in before the start since I was so freezing at the Army Ten Miler, but I almost didn’t need it!

I was going to a Moms Run This Town group photo, but decided first I should pee. The line was long. There were not many portapotties. Would I get through this before the group photo? Would I get through this before the race start? I worried.

Baltimore half marathon potty line

I made it a few minutes late for the MRTT group photo but they hadn’t taken it yet – hooray! I chatted with some really nice ladies and hoped I was coherent, I felt like my ears were kind of plugged up.

I headed to the starting corrals. The start was divided into waves but it wasn’t very strict. It took me a while to find Wave 1, which was indicated by the “1” on my bib.

I texted with Lauren from Run Salt Run (click to read her race recap!) and we found each other – it was so fun to see her at the start!

with Run Salt Run

 Why am I not looking at the camera?

I ditched my throw-away shirt at the starting line and tried to pep up a bit and snap out of my sick fog. Lauren was revving up with some dancing.

Lauren dancing at starting line

I had forgotten my visor, and found an old headband in my car – it was a bit stretched out but I figured it would do the trick. But then I realized that I didn’t have sunglasses – I usually skip them since I wear a visor. Eeek, this would not be pleasant.

And then it was time to RUN!


Since Lauren and I were both in Corral 1, I knew that it would be a big mass of runners at various paces starting out since she’s way faster than I am. And there wasn’t any organization to where in the corral you should seed yourself. Everyone was pretty relaxed about it but there was some clumping up and people trying to pass each other right out of the gate.

Here’s my race in a nutshell:

Miles 1-3: I felt amazing, despite being sick. I was on track. This is going to happen.

  • Mile 1 = 8:38/mile
  • Mile 2 = 8:43/mile
  • Mile 3 = 8:37/mile

However, in Mile 3-4: I got a side stitch. OUCH.

  • Mile 4 = 9:05/mile

Mile 5: I felt a bit better. Side stitch gone.

  • Mile 5 = 9:01/mile

Mile 6-7: “I swear I didn’t realize that Baltimore was this hilly.”

  • Mile 6 = 9:03/mile
  • MIle 7 = 9:17/mile

Mile 7-8: My feet started to hurt. Ouch. I really need new shoes.

  • Mile 8 = 9:25/mile – pace is dropping!

We ran around this lovely lake area at this point. Someone was handing out white wine – I couldn’t even imagine. I took my shot blocks as I ran around the lake.

Baltimore Half Marathon

Mile 9: I was fading out, my body started to feel as though it really wanted to lie down.

  • Mile 9 = 9:18/mile

Mile 10-11: I picked it up a bit – I felt that burst of energy and felt like it was Mile 1 again! I looked at my watch and thought “it’s going to be close but I’m going to do it!”

  • Mile 10 = 9:19/mile
  • Mile 11 = 9:01/mile

Mile 12: That burst of energy was gone. I felt like I was running just as hard as in Mile 10, but the watch said I was way slower. I knew I’d make it to the finish sometime around 2 hours, but it would be close.

I thought of that mantra “Pain is temporary, Pride is forever” and repeated it over and over in my head.

Mile 12 = 9:24/mile

Mile 13: I stopped looking at my watch – it was just stressing me out – and just decided to “I’ll just do the best I can”. And it was here that I pushed myself past where I thought I could go.

  • Mile 13 = 9:13/mile

My body felt like dropping the pace even more, but I pushed it – and this is where I feel like I won the battle between mind and body.

I kept going. I ran as hard as I could.

I got to the big crowds at the end heading towards the finish line, and then towards the stadium. And just before the finish I couldn’t keep it up. I couldn’t sprint to the finish like I sometimes can. I had nothing left. I knew I wasn’t getting the big PR goal anyhow so I just ran in to the finish on my own terms. Not pushing, not slowing.

Just running.

My Garmin showed me going 0.33 miles past Mile 13, which were 9:18/mile pace.


Official Pace = 9:15/mile. My Garmin at 13.33 miles says 9:05/mile average pace. SO CLOSE TO THAT SUB 2.

Baltimore Half Marathon finish

I felt really disappointed when I crossed the finish line. I feel silly saying this, but I wanted to cry. I didn’t cry though. I suppose some of that might have been the release of all the tension trying so hard for two hours, and the relief of being done.

And then I started to feel some pride as I walked through the finisher area. I won the battle. I didn’t make my goal time, but I can honestly say that I did the best I could. I pushed myself past what my body wanted to do.

Baltimore half marathon finish

The finish area had good options for post-race fuel – fruit cup, granola bar, banana, bagels, oranges, chips for the salt replenishment. The reunion area was set up with flags for your family to find you by name.

The big post-race area was pretty well-equipped with vendors, samples, contests, entertainment, and merchandise.

Baltimore Running Festival finish area

There was a big outdoor Under Amour shop, in case you missed it at the Expo. They’re headquartered in Baltimore, so it’s a big Under Armour town.

Under Armour shop at Baltimore Running Festival

I headed over to get my second medal of the day for doing the “Maryland Double” – Frederick Running Festival + Baltimore Running Festival = Maryland Double!

Maryland Double medal pickup

Pretty snazzy, eh?

Maryland Double Medal

As for some general things about the Baltimore Running Festival Half Marathon, here’s my opinion:


  • The incredible pre-race information and interaction by the Baltimore Running Festival. On their website and on Facebook. I mentioned this in the Frederick Half Marathon race recap, and it is the same race management company (Corrigan Sports) that coordinates the Baltimore Running Festival. It was awesome. They were constantly posting on Facebook getting us revved up, providing information, and previewing shirts and medals. I was even at the starting area when I saw them post on Facebook about another portapotty location for runners.
  • The time of day. They pushed up the starting times one hour from when they usually are, and the half marathon start time was perfect for me: 8:45am. It was the first race in ages where I didn’t have to wake up before 6am!
  • The crowd support. Because the half marathon runs concurrently with the marathon after Mile 16 of the marathon, there are spectators, and they are awesome.
  • The city – I really love Baltimore! It was so neat to start downtown near the stadiums and the famous Inner Harbour, then run through parts of the city I had never seen before. There were residents out on their front steps and the street corners, kids high fiving. Great spirit in that city.
  • The medal – I love it! It’s also a bottle opener.

Baltimore Medal bottle opener

  • The shirt – I love it!!! It’s like Frederick’s shirt – a really nice long-sleeved shirt. Here’s Lauren/Salt modeling it at the finish:

Lauren and Cynthia at finish


  • The roads. The roads were rough. I don’t mean the course or the hills, since I expected some elevation changes, I mean the roads were pretty torn up and bumpy. I know I need new shoes, and my feet were hurting. There was even one really gross smooshed road kill I almost stepped on. Ewww.
  • Portapotties – I didn’t see very many at the start area, and the ones there were had HUGE lines. When I ran by the relay exchange area I saw a massive line for the potties there – I hope that people made their relay exchange on time!
  • It got a little crowded at times since the marathon and the half marathon were concurrent.
  • The starting area was a little confusing – people were not sure where to go. It all worked out though – I found my corral and the frequent announcements explained that the number your bib started with corresponded to your corral number. I wasn’t sure where to seed myself though.
  • No pacers – the amazing pacers from the Frederick race were pacing the Marathon. I would have loved to have been with pacers for the half marathon! I’ve run plenty of halfs without pacers before, though, it’s not a requirement. I was just jealous of the marathoners because those pacers were the BEST!

All those things (besides the roads and the potties) were pretty minor. I’m not a negative person so I really wasn’t bothered by anything. Also, I replaced my running shoes on Sunday with a fresh pair so I’m ready for rough roads again!

As for my goal time? I realize now that I’ve been running faster as my triathlon training has progressed and thought I’d whip out the sub-2 at this race just because of my overall fitness and pace improvements of late. Yes, I’ve been doing some speed work. But I haven’t been really focused about this sub-2 running-specific goal. It’s time to get busy going for a 1:55 rather than a 1:59 so that I have room to have a couple slower miles. That’s my downfall – no room for error.

So Frederick’s 2:00:03 stands as my half marathon PR.

Have you ever run a race where the marathon and the half were going on at the same time?

Have you ever run a race sick?

Army Ten Miler Race Recap 2014 – My Redemption Race

I did not miss the start of the Army Ten Miler this year. Why is that the lead story in this race recap? Go read the Army Ten Miler race recap from 2013 and you’ll see…

Army Ten Miler Race Recap 2014

You may recall that 2014 was my year of no-big-DC-races. I swore them off just for this year. I’m so lucky that I get to run in DC whenever I want because I work downtown – it’s such a gorgeous city for running! And although I love big, jam-packed races for the excitement, and I love the thrill of running with a crowd through the awesome sights of DC, I needed a little break from the DC-ness of bit-DC-races – the security, the crowds, the complicated parking, the packed Metro, the challenge of getting to the starting line – you get the point.

I focused on other races and discovered some new favorites this year.

So I wasn’t going to register for the Army Ten Miler. This was 2014, my year of no-big-DC-races. But I did. I pushed that registration button. I got swept up in the moment – it sells out quickly! – and the fact is, after my less-than-stellar experience last year, I wanted another shot at it. You see, everyone loves this race. My friend Melissa flies up from Texas every year to run this race. People come from far away to run it because they love it.

I did not love this race in 2013.

I wanted to love it. But I didn’t, despite the moving atmosphere of running with military personnel and wounded warriors. I was thankful to be a part of the experience for that reason, but didn’t love the race itself. So I wanted another shot – I needed to see what all the fuss is about when you don’t miss the start, and when you can enjoy the run.

As time went on, I thought I’d transfer my registration before the transfer deadline. I don’t need to do this race, I thought to myself, I have tons of other races this year! And with the Baltimore Half Marathon the next weekend I decided I didn’t need to be out at a race two weekends in a row.

But I never transferred. So I ran. And I had a good experience.

The Expo didn’t disappoint – tons of vendors, very efficient getting the packet and race necessities. My shirt was a little too small, but since I tried it on over my clothes before realizing this, I couldn’t exchange it. The guy at the desk said you can only exchange unworn shirts. Oops. Oh well.

Army Ten Miler expo

The night before the race, I set out all my things. Which was like nothing after doing duathlons and triathlons for months. Seriously, I hadn’t done a run-only race since the Spring, and it took about 3 seconds to pin my bib to the shirt.

The hardest part was figuring out what to wear since my black capris are a little too tight. So I added a skirt. I may have been a little sparkly but at least I felt more comfortable than wearing too-small pants.

Flat runner

On race morning, I got up super early – I wasn’t going to chance a big stress for parking, Metro-ing, getting to the starting line. I did my morning routine quickly, grabbed food for the car, and hit the road. I managed to park somewhere that didn’t involve Metro (and I hoped my spot was legal), and walked to the starting area at the Pentagon.

I got near the Metro and immediately saw Sue from This Mama Runs for Cupcakes. So fun to see a friend in a crowd of tens of thousands of people! Sue was super smart and was wearing a trash bag. I was freezing.

Cynthia and Sue before race

Seriously I was so cold, glad I had my arm warmers but still freezing. I was trying to text my friends and my body and hands were shaking. I was wishing I had brought a trash bag or a throw-away shirt. I found my fabulous longtime friends and took a photo. In the green is Melissa –  you can read her awesome race recap here.

With friends at Army Ten Miler

I wanted to head to the starting line early so that I would have time for the portapottie line (and not be stuck in one outside the security barrier). As with last year, I found it a little confusing to navigate the Pentagon area from the Metro to the starting line, but I wandered in that direction and eventually came upon a security checkpoint. They seemed to just be checking bibs and were very clear about moving people through quickly – thank you!

I found another friend from work, and since we were in the same corral together, we kept each other company until the start. I don’t know why he wasn’t as cold as I was! Brrr, I was shivering.

I hit the portapottie line just inside the security barrier, which wasn’t terribly long, and we went to our Red Corral. I was SO EARLY!!!

Army Ten Miler starting corral

We were waiting there a while and I saw more portapotties between our corral and the one in front, so I figured as long as I’m just standing here, I might as well be standing in a line and went again. Better safe than sorry!

Army Ten Miler starting corrals

The start of the Army Ten Miler is awesome. You can feel so much pride in the crowd.

Army Ten Miler start

As the corrals moved forward, it was soon our turn. I loved being in the red corral since we started pretty early. The Wounded Warriors started at 7:50am, then the first wave at 8:00am and then waves every 8 minutes thereafter. Red started at 8:16am.

Army Ten Miler starting line

I felt corralled pretty well – I think I put a 1:30 finish time as my goal, and I can’t remember if we had to submit a recent race time to be assigned our wave. If we did, I probably put my Pike’s Peek 10K finish time, which was pretty good. It definitely didn’t feel as though our wave was as crowded as my experience last year and the runners were tearing out of the starting line.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous once we started running – my pre-race shivering was long gone.

The course is pretty good, but you definitely see more DC “sights” at other races. For example, the map shows you running by the Lincoln Memorial, but you don’t actually see it. You sort of skirt the edge of the touristy area of DC. But you still get the DC experience – big white buildings, the Potomac River – it’s still really scenic!

Army Ten Miler course map

The real story of the Army Ten Miler is the people running in this race.

The Wounded Warriors are so incredibly inspiring – I was in awe of their strength and determination. This is hard to talk about, but at Mile 8 or so, a Wounded Warrior stumbled and fell in front of me. And for a moment the atmosphere was tense. But the people running with him helped him back up, and all the runners nearby were amazed at his inner strength and the determination he must have to not only run this race, but to keep going when things were tough. I had tears in my eyes.

So many runners were either military personnel, or family members. There were many runners with “in memory of ___” on the backs of their shirts.

It was an incredible atmosphere or military pride, remembrance, and strength.

I was thankful to be a part of it.

As for my race personally? It’s honestly not as important. At times I felt silly for thinking about my finish time, because I was reminded of the more important things in life as I was running.

But since this is a race recap, I’ll sum it up: I did pretty well! I felt pretty strong throughout – pretty on my target pace. I pushed myself at times to keep the pace and other times the crowd carried me through

My Garmin data shows:

  • Mile 1 = 9:01
  • Mile 2 = 8:38
  • Mile 3 = 8:48
  • Mile 4 = 8:37
  • Mile 5 = 8:44
  • Mile 6 = 8:48
  • Mile 7 = 8:41
  • Mile 8 = 8:48
  • Mile 9 = 9:02
  • Mile 10 = 8:43
  • And a 0.1 at 8:07

There’s this really big, long bridge – it’s a tough one since it just keeps going and going. Just when you think you’re done with the bridge, there’s more bridge. That’s about Mile 8 and I faded a bit after that, but picked it back up.

Garmin data for overall: 10.1 miles with average pace of 8:47/mile.

Official finish: 1:28:38. Pace of 8:51/mile. 

Army Ten Miler official finish certificate

With that finish, I felt like I could get that sub-2-hour half marathon at the Baltimore Half Marathon the next weekend.

After crossing the finish line, they kept us moving forward – at a race like this in DC, security is a primary concern.

Army Ten Miler finish line

They had lots of finish line food.

Army Ten Miler finish food

Cookie, fruit cup, hummus, granola bar, muffin, banana – it was a good replenishment of what I had exerted that morning! Last year I was doing the Whole 30 during this race, and I was glad to have normal fueling and post-race fuel this year.

Army Ten Miler runner food

I took one of everything, and a woman near me wondered if there would be enough for runners who finished later. I certainly hope there was, because I saw people who took SO MUCH food that their bags were bursting.

Army Ten Miler runner food

Okay, admittedly that person has other things in his bag, but I saw multiples of the hummus packages and other items in there, and many, many bags near me were just like that.  So hopefully it was okayed by the volunteers passing out the food, and the runners who finished later had enough.

I took the complimentary shuttle back to the Metro/start area, and although the line was pretty long but I didn’t feel like walking. Plus, they were handing out these awesome hats.

Army Ten Miler hat

Overall it was a great day – gorgeous weather, inspiring atmosphere, and a successful race.

Have you ever done a ten mile race?

What’s your favorite race distance?

Friday Five: Favorite Fitness Tunes

Each week, I chat about the Friday Five theme with my awesome co-hosts Courtney and Mar. And each week, we come up with what we think will be a fun theme. This week, Five Favorite Fitness Tunes sounded awesome. I was so into this theme. I said “that’s going to be totally fun!”

Five Favorite Fitness Tunes

You all know by now that I’m into music. I work in the music field. I loooove music. I just posted about how music helps get me to my goals in another post today about Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless Earbuds.

But after my initial excitement about the Friday Five theme, it dawned on me: I no longer run with music outside. I don’t bike with music. And I don’t swim with music. It’s been a while since I worked out with music with all my triathlon training going on. But winter is coming, and I’m going to be rockin’ to some serious tunes on the treadmill, and spinning to some great tunes in cycling classes.

So today I have a combo list of Favorite Fitness Tunes & Tunes That Won’t Get Out of my Head While I’m Running. Those earworms that keep me going on a long run, even if I don’t have headphones on.

1. Happy by Pharrell

Yes, it makes me happy when I run. No, I’m not sick of this song yet.

2. Sabotage by the Beastie Boys

Always, always listed as my “gets me moving faster” song.

3. Darth Vader’s Theme Song (aka Imperial March). 

Okay, bizarre, I know – this is totally in my head while I’m running this week. Why? My 5 year old is dressing up as Darth Vader for Halloween, and I explained to him that he now has a theme song. So we’ve been listening to it a lot. And it’s stuck in my head.

Darth Vader costume

4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song

While we’re on the topic of kids, I cannot get this theme song out of my head when I’m running. The problem? I only know the lyrics to the main chorus: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”. Thus, it’s super repetitive and not that useful for running since I just sing the same thing over and over. The tempo is great and the rest of the song is pretty fun rap – it would actually be a great fitness tune – I’ll download it for my winter playlist!

5. Lucky Strike by Maroon 5

I love working out to this song. It’s interesting enough that it keeps me listening and not zoning out, and the beat is really good for working out.

If you want a complete list of great workout tunes, check out The Ultimate Workout Playlist that I compiled back in May! It was from reader-submitted comments!

And while we’re chatting about music, I went to a great concert last night (which is why I’m writing this post after midnight…) by singer-songwriter Marian Call. If you haven’t heard her, you’re missing out. I just picked up a couple of her CDs after the concert and can’t wait to listen to more of her music. Here’s one album that I bought – I love her voice! And if you’re in Baltimore tonight or anywhere else on her tour route, go see her on tour! I just heard about her through my husband and I’m a big fan now.

Don’t miss my other post today about these super cool new wireless earbuds that have an in-ear heart rate monitor, the Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless Earbuds! Start your Holiday wish list, people!

What’s the song that really gets you moving? I need to work up my playlist for indoor workouts – post in the comments below!



[This post contains a couple of Amazon affiliate links, thanks for supporting the site.]

Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless Earbuds

This post is sponsored by Jabra.

Since we’re talking about our Favorite Fitness Tunes today on the Friday Five, I’ve been thinking a lot about music this week. Wait, who am I kidding, I think about music all the time. But specifically, I’ve been thinking about my running and triathlon goals, how music can help me reach those goals, and what gear I could use to make that happen. I’m thinking ahead to my Christmas wish list and I love gadgets, tools, and other gear that can make my running and fitness more enjoyable and more effective. So because of these two loves of music and gear, I’ve been lusting after this super cool new product that was just launched, the Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless Earbuds.

Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless Earbuds

Jabra wants to help people “Beat Their Best“. The concept is perfect for me – when I heard this phrase I felt like it was made for me.

What’s Beat Your Best? We set goals, they may seem impossible. But we go for them. We conquer them. I’ve recently conquered several seemingly impossible goals. From losing weight after Baby #3, to doing my first triathlon, to running my best half marathon time, to conquering a Half Ironman – I feel like it’s been a year of Beat My Best!

The feelings of accomplishment have been incredible. Pushing beyond my limits, finding out what I’m really capable of, and matching the outside with who I really have been on the inside this whole time - this is what it’s all about.

So I’m excited about these new Jabra earbuds because they’re different. I’m about to start an off-season triathlon training plan, and it’s focused around heart rate training. With triathlon training I’ve been learning so much about monitoring your heart rate and how it can help you understand your body and your training. I’ve never trained like this before. I have an old heart rate monitor, and I mostly used it when exercising while I was pregnant. And now I have a heart rate monitor that came with my GPS watch. It has a chest strap, and I’ll confess that it’s still in the box. I’m just not in love with all the wires and straps and things and have never bothered to use it.

Jabra is breaking free of the wires. They want to do away with the restrictions and the limits in more ways than one. The Sport Pulse Wireless Earbuds are wireless headphones that have a built-in heart rate monitor – it detects your HR without any extra gear on your body. No wire. No chest strap.

Whaaaaaat???? No wires and no chest strap???


So what is Sport Pulse?
In the old days you would need a Heart Rate chest strap, a pair of headphones, your phone, GPS watch. No more. Jabra Sport Pulse is an all-in-one training solution. Listen to music, send Heart Rate Data to the Jabra Sport Life app, get workout readouts. Turn on your headset, put your phone into your pocket, and you are ready to go.

The earbuds work with an app to provide continuous heart rate guidance to inform you whether you’re in your optimized heart rate training zone that aligns to your specific fitness goal – whether that’s fat-burning, aerobic conditioning, anaerobic threshold training, or general cardiovascular fitness. Voice feedback is used to keep you in your target heart rate zone.

Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless Earbuds for training

Jabra is cutting-edge and dedicated to superior sound, innovative technology, and an individual’s inner potential. I want to Beat My Best next season and I’m working hard to get there!

So since we’re all about the music this week, be sure to visit the Friday Five where I talk about my Five Favorite Fitness Tunes, and work to #BeatYourBest this fall and winter in your training! And get these super amazing things on your Holiday Fitness Wish List!

How have you Beat Your Best this year? What are you doing this winter to stay motivated to Beat Your Best next year?


The Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless Earbuds retail for $199 and come with 4 sets of earwings and 4 sets of eargels to be sure the fit is the best it can be for your ears. You also get two sets of Fitclips to help you manage the short cable that connects the two earbuds, and a carry pouch.

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