Comment Reply Plug-In

By Katie, 2:57 pm

I have to say, I feel much better about the commenting situation now that I’ve read all of your responses. Thank you for your assurances that you did indeed know that I wasn’t simply ignoring your comments. Also, turns out I wasn’t the only one to make the wrong assumption! ;-)

Many of you requested the name of the plug-in that I found that allows commenters to receive email notification when you reply. Here it is, my friends: Comment Reply Notification.

But don’t thank me; thank Christie, who kindly and quickly came to my rescue when I panicked and reached out to her for assistance. She rocks. 8-)

One more heads up: for the plug-in to work, you need to reply from your site, not from your blogging dashboard.

That’s all, folks! Enjoy the plug-in! :-D

Updated to Add: This plug-in is specifically for people running WordPress on their own site/server. I cannot speak for sites, blogger sites, etc. You can find information about installing a WordPress plug-in here.

Out with the Old…

By Katie, 7:21 am

…and in with the new! New shoes, that is! :-D

I believe it’s important to give yourself rewards as you reach important goals and milestones in your journey toward healthy living. Weeks ago I decided that my reward for finishing the half marathon was a brand spankin’ new pair of running sneakers. Because these puppies have seen better days. :-?

I actually do not recommend doing this in the order I did (major race → good running shoes). Regardless of what exercise activity you do – running, walking, using the elliptical, biking, etc. – having the proper footwear is important for decreasing your risk of injury. So go get yourself fitted for a good shoe, NOW! ;-)

I went to my local specialty running store – Charm City Run – where a woman watched me run back and forth across the store a few times before diagnosing me as a moderate overpronator. Who knew? 8-O

Here’s a good guide to understanding pronation, but basically she explained to me that when I run, my foot rolls inward more than it ideally should, which means that the shock isn’t absorbed as efficiently. So I should be wearing a shoe that offers extra support and cushioning to control my overpronation.

She pulled out a couple of pairs and had me try them on. Then I was actually able to run for a bit on the in-store treadmill, during which she video-taped my feet and projected it onto a large television screen to make sure the sneakers were correcting the problem. It was cool. 8-)

The winner? Brooks Adrenaline GTS 10.

The old and the new.

(An unrelated aside: please don’t judge me by my landlord’s taste in carpeting. :roll: )

Naturally, Hamilton gave them a close inspection.

And ultimately his seal of approval. ;-)

I can’t wait to take my new shoes out for a spin! 8-)

Updated to Add: I just returned from a relaxed 5 mile run, and I am even more in love than before! These shoes are just so much lighter than my old clunkers!

Have you ever been fitted for an exercise shoe? If so, what was your experience like? If not, do you think you will?

A Note About Comments

By Katie, 7:53 am

Folks, I made a discovery yesterday regarding this blog that almost had me in tears. :cry:

Since I started Health for the Whole Self, I’ve been assuming that when a reader leaves a comment and I reply to it, the original commenter receives an email alerting her/him to the fact that the comment has a reply. I don’t know why I made that assumption, and it turns out it was a wrong one. :-x

I realized this when a reader left a comment, I replied, and then she left another comment – in which it was obvious she hadn’t read my reply to her first one. Probably because she never knew it was there.

You see, up to this point, if you wanted to see a reply to your comment you would actually have to return to the site on your own volition; you did not receive any kind of notification. And unless you were specifically looking for a response, I doubt you would have done that.

That means that every time I thanked you for your encouragement, or answered one of your questions, or expressed gratitude for your loyalty to the blog, you had no idea. I’ve replied to many, many comments, so it saddens me greatly to realize that these replies have probably never been read by the original commenter. :-( I’m particularly upset because I want Health for the Whole Self to be a conversation, not a one-way dialogue.

But we must move forward, right? :-)

With the help of Christie and the wonderful mister, the issue has been solved and the necessary plug-in installed. (You can check out the comments section of my last post to see our testing in action. :lol: ) So now, when you leave a comment to which I reply, you will receive an email letting you know.

If you asked me a question in a comment and were wondering why you never heard back, chances are high that I did, in fact, reply. The replies have been showing up on the actual site, so you can always go back and see them there…although I realize that’s kind of a pain. :-?


Ah, well, my mistake. At least it is remedied now. :-) I thank you for continuing to read and comment, despite the fact that you may have been under the impression that I wasn’t responding to those comments. It means a lot to me – so much more than you know – that all of you keep coming back to read what I have to say!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend! 8-)

Black Bean Tortilla Casserole

By Katie, 8:15 am

Looking for an easy and delicious Mexican-inspired meal to make next week? I think I have it. ;-)

My mother-in-law is currently recovering from a pretty major surgery, so I was on the hunt for a great casserole recipe to take to her for dinner. I originally planned to go with a baked pasta dish, but Dave thought that everyone might be bringing her one of those, so I dug deeper until I found this awesome Black Bean Tortilla Casserole.

I’ve had this recipe from Cara bookmarked forever, but for some reason hadn’t gotten around to trying it. Needless to say, it will now be a staple. If for some crazy reason you are not yet reading Cara’s blog, please start doing so immediately. I have yet to try a recipe of hers that I haven’t fallen in love with. :-)

The recipe is pretty simple. First you saute your veggies – onions, bell pepper, zucchini, and squash. Then you add your seasonings – sea salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and oregano. Colorful, no?

Toss in your beans, some diced tomatoes, and green chiles.

And then add the secret ingredient – cream cheese!!! It gives the casserole a very creamy texture and flavor.

Then you begin the process of layering your casserole in the baking dish. You have layers of the veggie/bean mixture, corn tortillas, and shredded cheddar.

20 minutes later, this gloriousness comes out of your oven. :-)

To complete the meal, we also took along some corn bread (Trader Joe’s boxed mix, which is great!) and a big, fresh salad.

My plate, which I licked clean. ;-)

Black Bean Tortilla Casserole
Adapted from Cara’s Cravings
Serves 8 (but could easily be cut in half)

olive oil or olive oil cooking spray
1 cup diced onion
2 tsp minced garlic
1 zucchini, diced
1 squash, diced
2 bell peppers, diced (I used one red and one yellow)
sea salt and pepper
3 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder (could up this to 2 if you like things spicier)
2 tsp oregano
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 small can green chiles
6 oz. cream cheese (reduced fat works fine)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
12 6” corn tortillas
6 oz. shredded cheddar (reduced fat works fine)

1. Preheat oven to 400º.

2. Heat oil or oil spray in a large skillet over medium heat. (I actually used a wok because it was deeper). Add onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

3. Add bell pepper and cook another 5 minutes.

4. Add zucchini, squash, and garlic; cook another 6-8 minutes, until vegetables are softened.

5. Season mixture with salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and oregano.

6. Add the black beans, diced tomatoes, and green chiles; bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

7. Add the cream cheese and stir until it is spread throughout. Mix in the cilantro.

8. Spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish with non-stick spray. Place some of the veggie/bean mixture on the bottom, top with 6 of the tortillas. Add another layer of the veggie/bean mix, then top with 1/2 of the shredded cheese.

9. Add another layer of 6 tortillas, then top with the rest of the veggie/bean mixture.

10. Bake for 15 minutes. Pull the casserole out and top with the remainder of the cheese, then bake for another 5 minutes or so, until the cheese has melted. Enjoy!

Do you have a go-to dish you make when you’re taking a meal to someone? Is it a casserole by any chance? :-) What’s your favorite casserole?

Art, Beauty, and Gigantic Bathing Suits

By Katie, 8:06 am

I’ve got body image on the brain.

Can you blame me? Everywhere I look there’s a magazine or an advertisement reminding me that it’s time to go shopping for some overpriced, barely there, never supportive enough pieces of spandex to don at the next pool party. Women are constantly getting the message that having fun at the beach is as much about looking hot when we’re practically naked as it is about catching a good wave or enjoying the sun’s heat.

I’m always encouraging women to ignore such messages, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean I’m completely immune to them myself. Even though I know that my worth has absolutely positively nothing to do with a bikini, I still get anxious and uncomfortable about bathing suits.

So I was excited to come across the artist Rachel Lee Hovnanian‘s latest work, entitled The Power and Burden of Beauty. Great title, right?

Her installations – which include giant bathing suits like the one above – are meant to get women thinking about how image-driven our society has become, and about how we can choose to comply with that standard or challenge it.

In an interview with O Magazine, Hovnanian says, “I want women to have a sense of humor about how they look.”  So she brings that humor into her work.

I think her coolest piece is an interactive exhibit of a dressing room – complete with unflattering lighting and a funhouse-type mirror.

When viewers enter the exhibit, an overhead speaker plays an audio tape with phrases like, “I shouldn’t have eaten those chips.” Basically the voice inside of our heads. 8-O

I think the point is to demonstrate how ridiculous all of the bathing suit drama really is, while at the same time recognizing that it is a very real – and traumatizing – part of many people’s lives. To me it highlights the disconnect that I have struggled with for years – on the one hand, there is the simple fact that I know my body and my weight do not define me, that life is about so much more. On the other hand, I can’t pretend that the pressures don’t exist, that they don’t affect me or mean something to me.

In other words, there are days when I genuinely preach the message of body acceptance while still struggling to accept my own image in the mirror. Like so many of us, I am beyond it and not beyond it at the same time.

So I’m thankful for cool artists like this one whose work reminds me to continue to challenge society’s messages…and myself. :-)

What do you think of art work like this? Do you think that art has the power to change how society characterizes women and women’s bodies?


If you’re comfortable sharing, how are you doing on the bathing suit front this season? Like I said, I’m going back and forth, feeling really strong one moment but totally uncomfortable the next.

My Exercise Story

By Katie, 7:49 am

In the comments regarding my first half-marathon, many of you expressed surprise at the fact that I have not been a lifelong runner. It made me realize that I’ve only ever shared random bits and pieces of my exercise story here on the blog, never the whole narrative. Well, that’s about to change. ;-)

Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start… (Name that musical! )

The Beginning

When I was young I participated in a variety of activities – dance classes (tap, ballet, jazz – I loved it all!), gymnastics, horseback riding, etc. I was literally a ball of energy; my mom couldn’t keep me from moving if she tried! I knew that people exercised formally in order to be healthy – I have very vivid memories of my mom moving the couch out of the way so she could bounce around to Richard Simmons’ Sweatin’ to the Oldies. (Say what you want about Richard, but his routine to “It’s My Party, and I’ll Cry if I Want To” was FUN! :lol: ) But at this point, formal exercise wasn’t a part of my life; I just loved moving!


The End of Innocence

In 7th grade I began playing field hockey, so exercise – in the form of team sports – became a more structured part of my life. But it was still about having fun.

Until a very memorable doctor’s appointment at the end of the middle school, when my well-meaning pediatrician came out and told me I could stand to lose a couple of pounds. (You can read more about that experience here.) The idea of exercising in order to lose weight honestly had not occurred to me before. But I latched onto it immediately. :-?

With the exception of field hockey practices and some well-intentioned running I did with my friend Beth, exercise alternated between my friend and my foe. At any given time I was either exercising to the point of exhaustion or not moving my body whatsoever. At my worst I was literally counting calories in versus calories burned, always ensuring that the latter exceeded the former. Not healthy at all. :-(

Fortunately I couldn’t keep up that kind of torture for too long; after a month or so I would be so burnt out that all the time I had been spending at the gym was spent sitting on the couch, eating back all of the food I had denied myself over the past few weeks. Any weight I had lost in my short starvation/overexercising cycle was quickly re-gained, plus a few pounds.

“Moderate exercise” was a foreign concept to me. 8-O

This cycle continued all through my years in college. There were some high points – attending Body Pump classes with my roommate being one of them. But exercise was still too mixed up with my food/weight/body image issues.

Throughout all of this I was certainly familiar with running. I had done plenty of it to get in shape for playing field hockey. Former boyfriends had been runners, so I knew a lot about it. I participated in a small handful of 5K races. But I never went for a run because I wanted to or because I enjoyed it; I always did it for the calorie burn, end of story. :-? I don’t think I ever ran over 4 miles.

Related post: Why it is important to take training from Best Ottawa First Aid?

Exercise Abstinence

When I decided to get serious about tackling my food and weight issues, shortly after my wedding in the summer of 2008, I stopped exercising completely. Yep, that’s right, I did ZERO formal exercise for almost 9 months. GASP! 8-O

At first I was certain I was going to blow up like a balloon and immediately develop heart disease. But at the same time I knew that I needed to do something different; I was so sick of the up and down cycles. I had to step away from exercise completely because at the time I didn’t know how to do it in a healthy manner; obsession was all I knew.

With exercise at a safe distance, I began the very difficult work of dealing with all the other messy stuff – the “why” and the “how” of how I had become so obsessed in the first place. Because – and let me be clear about this – disordered eating is not about vanity or shallowness. Wanting to be thin is merely the surface; there is always a canyon of nitty-gritty under there. (What that nitty-gritty consists of is different for everyone; for me it was perfectionism, poor self-esteem, anxiety, and denied emotions.)

Much to my surprise, during those 9 months of exercise abstinence I didn’t suddenly gain a ton of weight. In fact, I actually lost a couple of pounds. Because I was finally making peace with food and my body.

A New Strategy

In May of 2009 I began walking consistently. Not for exercise, but because I found that a daily 30-45 minute walk helped me to clear my mind, deal with my stress, and talk to God. But I quickly noticed the physical benefits as well; it just felt good.

I kept up my walking routine from May to September-ish, when I decided to incorporate some light jogging. I used the walk-run method, beginning with 1 minute of jogging for every 4 minutes of walking and building up from there. I remember the day I hit 5 minutes of straight jogging – I was on cloud nine!

As I began to jog more and more, I made myself one promise that I faithfully kept: no pain. I only went as long and as fast as felt comfortable to my body; the second I got a side stitch or felt worn out, I slowed it down or went back to walking. I truly believe this was the key to my success: it prevented the usual burnout and allowed me to find true enjoyment in what I was doing. :-)

On Thanksgiving of 2009, I ran in a local Turkey Trot 5K and had an absolute blast. My only goal was to jog the entire thing, which I did!

A few weeks later I ran in another 5K (the Fells Point Figgy Pudding Race! :lol: ). Then I set my eyes on a 5-miler, which I wrote about in one of my first blog posts. I worked hard to be able to tackle that distance, but unfortunately the race was canceled due to the crazy blizzard. I was extremely disappointed, but not deterred. I immediately signed up for another race – the Wild Woman 8K – which I ran in April.

Next up – the Broad Street 10-Miler. I followed a 10-week training plan that I found online, which worked out great. I am a HUGE fan of using formal training plans; following one definitely helped me structure my workouts so that I was building up my endurance properly while also getting enough rest. The day I ran 10 miles for the first time I was positively glowing!

And then Broad Street arrived. It was by far the most difficult run of my life thus far, primarily because of the insane heat, which I was not prepared for at all. But I toughed it out and had a great time!

A few weeks into my 10-miler training, I decided to sign up for the Maryland Half Marathon that was only 3 weeks after Broad Street. Honestly, my thinking went like this: if I can run 10 miles, I can run 13.1, so I might as well go for it! And go for it I did! I ran my first half-marathon last weekend. :-D

What’s Next

A lot of people have asked me what’s next. A full marathon? Nothing at all? To which I respond, How about somewhere in the middle? :-)

The truth is, the timing for my half-marathon was perfect. I was finishing up graduate school and beginning to job hunt; my schedule was extremely flexible and I had the time I needed to put into training. But now that I’ve graduated and secured a full-time position, I have some adjusting to do. Right now my only priority is settling into a routine that allows me to continue a program of moderate exercise while having plenty of time and energy to focus on my new job.

This week I’m laying low on the exercise front, giving my body a chance to rest. It’s my way of saying thank you for all the effort it’s been putting in lately. ;-) Next week I will get back into the full swing of things. Right now I’m thinking of running 3 days per week, strength training 2-3 days per week, and cross-training (elliptical, incline walking, fitness DVDs, etc.) 2 days per week. I would like to continue doing one longer run per week – probably between 7 and 9 miles – to maintain my endurance. I’ve also got a few races scheduled throughout the summer to keep me motivated. :-D

Sorry that this got a little lengthy, but I hope it gives you some more insight into where I’ve been and where I am now in terms of exercise and running. If you have any questions about running or anything else, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email!

Are you a runner? Have you been one in the past? Would you like to be one in the future?

Lovin’ on Lunch

By Katie, 8:32 am

If forced to choose my favorite meal of the day, I would probably pick breakfast based solely on the existence of blueberry pancakes. ;-) But considering my attachment to sandwiches, I’d have to say that lunch is a close second.

Apparently I’m not the only one who loves lunch. :lol:

This two-and-a-half minute video is really worth watching, although maybe not if you’re at work. (Unless, of course, your co-workers happen to have a special affinity for a midday meal and a good sense of humor.)

For a past few months I have been blessed to be able to eat lunch at home most days, which means that I was able to fix myself elaborate meals that need not be portable. Believe me, I knew it was a luxury, and I relished it while I could. But alas, next week I officially become a full-time brown bagger.

Or, in my case, a blue boxer.

That’s my lovely Laptop Lunch bento-box, which makes packing lunch a little more fun…and kind of adorable. ;-)

Yesterday I took to the office a lovely hummus and red pepper sammie.

Fruit and veg.

Dried apricots and a medjool date for some natural sweetness.

A bar for an afternoon snack.

And some Attune chocolate, because lunch deserves dessert too. ;-)

All packed up in a handy carrying case.

Here are my five goals when it comes to lunch on the job:

1. Pack lunch the night before, preferably immediately after dinner. I figure I’m in the kitchen cleaning up anyway, might as well add an extra 10 minutes to ensure that I’m not rushing in the morning.

2. Eat leftovers as often as possible. If I’m going to the trouble to cook a healthy meal, there’s no reason I can’t extend it into two healthy meals.

3. Aim for a balance. Go through a quick mental checklist to see if the lunch contains a whole grain, a good source of protein and/or fat, and at least two servings of fruit/veggies. Having it all there guarantees that I’ll finish the meal feeling satisfied.

4. Eat mindfully. My new office is small, and my co-workers eat lunch together almost every day. I love the social aspect of it, but I also have to be careful that I don’t chat my way through my meal to the point that I don’t even taste it.

5. Eat out no more than once per week. There is a Whole Foods literally right down the street from my office, which is a blessing for my taste buds but a curse for my wallet. I am going to view the WF salad bar as an occasional treat rather than an easily-accessible plan B for days when my brown bag/blue box isn’t appealing to me. There are also several awesome cafes and delis within a 5-minute radius; fortunately they all offer lots of healthy options, but again I don’t want to be spending the money regularly.

I think if I stick to these goals, I will continue to enjoy healthy, tasty food in the middle of my day. So here’s to LUNCH! Cheers! :-)

Do you pack your lunch? What are some of your go-to lunch ideas? Any other suggestions or tips to share as I begin to eat lunch on the job?

Lentil Salmon Salad

By Katie, 7:17 am

My food cravings definitely change along with the seasons. In the winter I long for hearty soups and stews; a big bowl of chili with a side of cornbread soothes my soul. In the summer, however, my taste buds cry out for juicy fruits, icy smoothies, and refreshing SALADS. 8-)

In the summer I love turning picnic-y, side-dish-type salads into main meals. Take, for instance, this Lentil Salmon Salad. It’s definitely the kind of salad I would bring along to a backyard BBQ (for an upcoming Memorial Day celebration, perhaps?), but it also makes a fabulous meal in and of itself. Perfect for a warm summer night when you can’t bear the thought of turning on the oven or standing in the kitchen for longer than 10 minutes (yes, you can whip up this dish in under 10 minutes!).

Well, that’s if you use cooked lentils like I did. If your lentils are uncooked, it will take a little more time, but not more than 30 minutes or so. You could also cook and flake your own salmon, but using canned salmon makes this dish super easy.

I served it over a bed of Boston lettuce leaves.

Another perk: the recipe makes a ton – again, perfect for parties or cookouts. Or leftovers!!! This salad makes an excellent stuffing for a wrap.

Lentil Salmon Salad
Slightly Adapted from Eating Well
Yields 6 1-cup servings

1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp dried dill
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp sea salt
ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup diced cucumber
1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
3 cups cooked lentils
1.5 cups cooked flaked salmon (1-14.5 oz can or 2-7 oz cans)**

1. Whisk together the lemon juice, dill, Dijon, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.

2. Add the oil a little bit at a time, continually whisking as you go.

3. Add the bell pepper, cucumber, onion, lentils, and salmon. Stir gently to coat.

**Dave pointed out that tuna would work equally well, if you prefer!

What’s your favorite summer salad? Pasta salad? Potato salad? Macaroni salad? Lentil salmon salad? ;-)

Keeping Secret Goals

By Katie, 2:07 pm

Thank you so much for your wonderful congratulatory comments regarding my first half marathon! You all sure know how to make a blogger feel loved and supported. :-D

While I’m still riding high from yesterday’s race, I do feel the need to come clean to both myself and all of you regarding a little issue I have with keeping secret goals. This is not something I’m proud of; in fact, I actually feel a little embarrassed sharing this! :oops: And yet I feel like I should, on the off chance that someone else out there is struggling with the same issue.

You might recall that I wrote a letter to myself before the half marathon, reminding myself that my only goal was to finish the race. I wasn’t being dishonest when I said that, because on the surface I was convinced that was true. But deep down – far beneath any level of rational thought – was another goal: to break 2 hours.

I did not tell a single soul that I was harboring this ambition. In fact, I placed it in a hole so deep that even I didn’t realize it was there right away.

I don’t think there is inherently anything wrong with setting a goal and keeping it to yourself. The reason I see it as problematic for myself is because I know the reasoning and motivation behind it. I didn’t share that goal with anyone because then, if I didn’t reach it, no one would know. Yes, I am still that afraid of looking like a failure. I am still that concerned about others’ opinions of me. I am still that worried that if I don’t hit the bulls eye, the world will come crashing down.


Logically I know this is ridiculous. :roll: I mean, would Dave have scowled at me if I crossed the finish line long after my projected time? Would my mom have been upset with me because I couldn’t keep the pace I wanted to? Of course not! It is utterly absurd to even imagine such a thing!

I place the pressure entirely on myself, and yet on a subconscious level I seem to believe that others have placed the pressure on me. :-?

This isn’t the first time I’ve set a secret goal, which is how I know that it’s a problem.

When I was in high school, I lied to my then boyfriend the day I went to take my test for my driver’s license. I had to miss school to take it, and instead of telling him the truth, I told him I had a dentist appointment. That way, on the off chance that I failed the test, he would have no idea. (Zach, if you’re reading this, forgive me for being so darn silly back then!) Now I am not the lying kind of person, so I must have been truly afraid of looking like a failure (which is of course no excuse!). I am so embarrassed to admit that, but it’s true. :oops:

I suppose what I’m trying to articulate is this: the goals aren’t the problem. Even keeping the goals private isn’t the problem. The problem is that I keep my ambitions a secret because the idea of telling someone that I did not reach said ambitions is so painful and uncomfortable for me.

Truth be told, if I hadn’t reached my secret goal of breaking 2 hours, I don’t even know if I’d be willing to write this post. It’s that bad! Again, more shame. :oops:

But I am going to work on this. I am going to try to remind myself that people are not judging me nearly as much as I think they are – and even if they were, that isn’t my concern. I’m going to try to convince myself that it’s ok to set a goal and not reach it, that’s just a part of life. When it happens, it is highly unlikely that anyone is going to love me any less.

Whew! Glad I got that off my chest! :-) Thank you again for all of your wonderful support!

Have you ever kept a secret goal? Can you relate to my situation at all?


Any suggestions for how I can let go of this fear of sharing my “failures” with others?

Holy Moly! Half-Marathon Recap

By Katie, 3:32 pm

I DID IT!!! I am officially a half-marathon finisher!!! It feels so good to say that! :-)

Thank you so much for all of your encouraging comments; you have no idea how much it means to me to know that I have such support!!! :-)

Backing up a bit. On Friday I received the most amazing motivation – a beautiful bouquet of flowers from Dave’s grandmother and grandfather. They were congratulatory blooms in honor of graduating with my master’s, securing a job, and running a half marathon. They made me smile from ear to ear! Grandmother, if you’re reading, you’re the best!!! :-D

The flowers were just the boost I needed because, as I mentioned in my last post, this last week of training (tapering, really) didn’t go exactly as planned. I got zero sleep Wednesday night, was sick several times on Thursday, and still wasn’t feeling 100% on Friday. Saturday, however, I was pumped and ready to go. I had a lot of energy-loading to catch up on; I wanted to make sure I gave my body plenty of carbs to get through the race. Here’s a quick montage of what I ate on Saturday for pre-race day fuel.

PB + Banana toast, cherries, kiwi

Wasa crackers with a Laughing Cow cheese wedge.

Turkey sandwich, baby carrots, grape tomatoes

1/2 cantaloupe with cottage cheese

Clif Z bar

Mixture of crackers, PB Puffins, and more cherries

Hummus and sweet pepper wrap, roasted parsnip fries

Fresh fruit and cereal, drizzled with honey (this bowl x 2!)

I believe there was a slice of whole wheat toast in there somewhere as well.

I went to bed super early so I’d be ready to go when my alarm started buzzing.

I actually had the best possible dream last night. I dreamed that I was participating in a triathlon. My first thought when I woke up was, “Thank goodness I don’t have to swim or bike this morning! I just have to run – no problem!” ;-) (Many props to Meghann and Caitlin, who did swim/bike today!)

Of course, when I looked at the weather forecast (RAIN!) I thought,”Maybe I will be swimming!” Through puddles, anyway. ;-)

I had my standard pre-race breakfast – a banana and some bite-sized Shredded Wheat.

And packed up my Gu for mid-run fuel. I know these gross some people out, but my stomach tolerates them just fine.

Ready, ready, ready! I wore a bright green top so that I’d be easier to spot. I also broke the cardinal rule of “Nothing New on Race Day” and wore a hat; I figured running in the rain was already new to me, so why not? Thank you to everyone who recommended I do so; it was perfect for keeping the rain out of my eyes.

The race started promptly at 7:00. About 15 minutes beforehand the rain slowed to a drizzle, and it was just off and on the rest of the time – quite perfect, actually! The first two miles were a breeze, but mile 3 was almost entirely uphill. It was crazy! When I crested the hill and reached mile 4, I saw Dave cheering me on, complete with a sign. It was an awesome boost! I was feeling really great!

I owned miles 4, 5, and 6. Miles 7 and 8 featured the next big hill, which was a KILLER! It was steep and lasted almost the full two miles! 8-O I was pretty much just shuffling my way up. I took 1/2 of my Gu around the 8-mile mark, which was a needed boost. But I got even more of a boost from the handwritten signs posted along the hill – from cancer survivors and family members of victims.

100% of the proceeds from the Maryland Half Marathon went to cancer research. While of course I was happy to be racing for charity, I didn’t think much of it until I saw those signs. One of them read, “We know this hill is hard, but fighting cancer is harder. You can do it!” Another said, “You probably know someone who has fought cancer. Tackle this hill for them!” When I saw that sign I thought of my grandma, who passed away two years ago from pancreatic cancer. Tears came to my eyes, I dug even deeper, and I got up that darn hill.

At the top, at the 9-mile mark, there was Dave again! It was SO GREAT to see him!

When I hit the 10-mile mark, I was still feeling strong. I rounded a corner and realized that the entire 10th mile was downhill!!! WOO HOO! I was cruising. (About halfway down my shoulders got really tight, which was a good reminder that while downhills are easy on the lungs, they’re actually tough on the body.)

Honestly, the last 3 miles I felt really good. The half-marathon ended on the horse racing track of the state fairgrounds, and the finish line came significantly sooner than I realized. I turned a corner, saw my family cheering for me, started sprinting my hardest, and that was it!

I don’t have my official chip time yet, but according to my watch my time was 1:53:34. That’s an average pace of about 8:40 – WAY faster than I was expecting! (The downhills definitely helped with that! ;-) ) I was THRILLED!

As crazy as this sounds, I actually found the half-marathon physically easier than the Broad Street 10-Miler. Maybe because that day was so stinkin’ hot. I ended this race feeling strong and energetic; I told my family I felt like I could run at least another 2 miles! :lol:

I am so grateful to my wonderful supporters who got up early to make the drive and see me finish. It made me feel so good knowing they were cheering for me! I love you all!

And to any of you who are thinking to yourself, “Wow, I could never run a half-marathon,” I say: YES, YOU CAN! If you had told me one year ago I would do this, I would never have believed you. 8-O I started walking consistently last May, began alternating between walking and jogging in September, ran a 5K on Thanksgiving, a 5-mile race in April, a 10-mile race in May, and now this! IT IS POSSIBLE!

After the race we all went for brunch at this adorable little restaurant a mere two minutes from my house called Clementine. I knew I needed protein, but all I was craving was BREAD. I ordered the French Toast Casserole, which had apples baked inside of it. So good! (I’ll make sure to get my protein later on, I promise. :-) )

And fruit, of course.

I also ordered a fresh, house-made blueberry muffin, but I was too full to eat it. It will be my dessert tonight!

Now I’m off to relax (and perhaps take a nap). Fortunately I have tomorrow all to myself, so I can get a lot of rest before I start training for my new job on Tuesday. (YAY!) The pieces are just falling into place, and I couldn’t be more grateful! :-)

Have you ever run a half-marathon? Do you think you ever would?

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