We’re Back From Palm Beach!

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been silent on social media for awhile and that the blog has been silent. We’ve been on vacation! The past few months have been absolutely insane; we’ve been very busy and the weather has been unspeakably awful. Needless to say, we were eager to spend a few days in the Palm Beach area with Sheila’s family.

Although I tend not to fear the worst about safety concerns with regards to social media, I have heard far too many horror stories about nefarious individuals learning that folks are out of town via social media and breaking into their empty houses while they’re gone, and that’s why we didn’t post any pictures or share about our trip after we left last Friday.

Having said that, we had an excellent trip, and I’m excited to share it with all of you!

Friday
After dropping off Butters at his grandmama’s house, we headed out in the early afternoon. We had a longish layover in Atlanta, so we decided to find some supper. I remembered that my buddy Ken used to rave about a restaurant called One Flew South at the Atlanta airport when he used to travel regularly for business, so we decided to check it out.

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Sheila came up with the idea for this cool shot!

The service left a bit to be desired, but the food and ambiance more than made up for it! We split some sushi and a cocktail.

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Believe it or not, we weren’t outside. The background of this photo is actually the wall of the restaurant. You can buy big decals these days that look exactly like a wooded area. Pretty cool.

Our flight to West Palm Beach went well, and Sheila’s parents picked us up at the airport. Her sister arrived shortly thereafter. Since we were all exhausted, bedtime came pretty quickly!

Saturday
Sheila’s dad played some golf while the rest of us hit the beach. When we arrived, I noticed that a half marathon had taken place earlier that morning. I should have run it, but I had no idea that it was going on. Darn!

Normally, I love going to the beach. Other than running on a nice, secluded trail, there’s nothing more relaxing in my mind than chilling at the beach all afternoon with a great book. Unfortunately, either windblown sand or suntan lotion (or perhaps both!) got into my eye and irritated it pretty badly. When I got home and saw the condition of my eye, I was pretty scared that I had suffered another corneal abrasion. Fortunately, my eye cleared up by Sunday night. Praise God! Other than that, I enjoyed our time at the beach. The 7-Eleven by the beach had two flavors of Gatorade that I had never seen before—Green Apple and Blue Cherry—and I was glad to have the opportunity to try them.

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Buried in the sands of the Atlantic Coast!

In the evening, we enjoyed a delicious dinner while listening to a Beatles tribute band and doing a bit of dancing.

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Sunday
We started off the day with some bagels at Brooklyn Bagel Factory. Afterwards, we stopped by a local farmer’s market at which I had one of the best drinks that I have had in months. When I saw a vendor offering a drink consisting of mint leaves blended with lemon juice and ice cubes, I knew that I had to try it. I was not disappointed! I can’t wait to make this again at home to rehydrate after long training runs in the summer heat.

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In the afternoon, Sheila’s dad played more golf and we swam in the pool. The soundtrack at the pool was incredible and I felt the stress of the past few months fading away as I plowed through The Fellowship of the Ring.

After he finished, Sheila’s dad and I enjoyed the final round of The Masters before heading out to dinner at Duffy’s, a local sports bar. Although I did my best to make good food choices for much of the trip, I decided to treat myself to my first burger in months. It was worth it!

Monday
Sheila’s dad started off the day with an early morning round of golf while I started off my day with a run! Heading into the trip, I told myself that I would run if the opportunity arose but that I wouldn’t allow myself to get bent out of shape if our schedule didn’t allow it. Needless to say, I was thrilled when I had the chance to run.

Running in the Cleveland cold hasn’t been much fun, but running in the Florida heat and humidity was brutal. In an effort to travel light, I didn’t bring my hydration belt or Yurbuds, and I really could have used both of these items on my run. Fortunately, I had some beautiful scenery to keep me company!

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Running without water or music in the 82 degree heat was rough. I forgot how difficult running in heat and humidity can be, but I was proud that I pushed through the 4.5 miles that were on my training plan for the day. I was amazed when I got home and saw my time!

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Relaxing in the pool after my run was a great way to cool down!

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In the evening, we saw some beautiful homes and historic sites in the Palm Beach area and enjoyed dinner at City Place.

Tuesday
Sheila’s sister and I headed to the gym for a workout while Sheila and her mom spent some quality time by the pool. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do, but when we saw these cool Expresso Fitness machines, we immediately ran over to them!

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This was the most fun workout that I’ve had in a long time. I absolutely love to run, but let’s face it; once the joy of the first mile wears off, some of the middle miles can be a tough slog before the last mile and the accompanying joy of finishing well come around. Our time on the Expresso Fitness machine was great from start to finish! This machine had a screen that simulated various environments and we had to use the movable handlebars to steer through the course. Although this looked and felt like a video game, this machine was no joke—some of the inclines made my legs beg for mercy! I selected a variety of courses that made me feel as if I was riding through the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail. We rode for over an hour.

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Sheila’s sister absolutely killing it on the bike!

We spent the rest of the day packing up before we headed out! Sheila and I had another layover in Atlanta, so we hit up Grindhouse Burgers and enjoyed one last vacation meal.

My mom picked us up at the airport, and we were soon reunited with Butters! They must have had a lot of fun together, because he fell sound asleep shortly after we got home.

IMAG1730 This trip was exactly what we needed. I’m so grateful that we were able to fit it in amidst our busy work and class schedules, and I’m very thankful that Sheila’s parents blessed us with such a fun trip. It feels great to head into the final stages of half marathon training and the end of the semester feeling rested and recharged!

Towpath 5 Miler Race Recap

For much of the past year, I logged most of my miles on the section of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail that was located by our former residence in Tremont. Although we’ve moved a bit farther west, I still enjoy sneaking away to the Towpath whenever possible and logging some miles on the most serene and beautiful place in Cleveland. The Towpath Trilogy races are some of my favorite races; they are very well-organized, the race fees are reasonable, and the courses are spectacular.

I registered at the last minute for the 2013 Towpath 5 Miler with my buddy Eric, and I never got around to writing a race recap. I hadn’t thought about running this race until he asked me if I was going to run it, and when I realized that it was so close to my house, I figured that it was a no-brainer. Last year, I finished it in 44:47 (8:57 min\mi pace).

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Me and my friends Ramona and Eric at the 2013 Towpath 5 Miler

Heading into the 2014 Towpath 5 Miler, I was shooting for a PR. My goal was to run an average pace between 8:15 and 8:30, which is the pace at which I have been running during my long training runs. I always make “secret” goals in my head for races that I think are somewhat unattainable, and my “secret” goal for this race was to run it in under 40 minutes (8 min\mi pace). Read the rest of this entry

By now, anyone running the 2014 Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon should be well into their training plan. I’m in the sixth week of mine, and I’m grateful that everything is going much better than I expected.

My average mile split continue to decrease, which is particularly remarkable given that my distances are continuing to increase! After my first week of training, my long run pace was 9:08 min\mile. Five weeks later, I pulled off a 8:29 min\mile pace!

I’m staying relatively injury-free too. The periodic bouts of runner’s knee with which I’ve dealt over the past few months have been minimized with lots of ice and stretching. Luckily, I’ve been able to avoid the dreaded curse of plantar fasciitis that seems to be afflicting far too many of my friends during this season of training.

I’ve never had this much success with reducing my mile times and staying injury-free during a season of training. What have I done differently this year? Read the rest of this entry

Earned, Never Given

At the risk of sounding overly confident, I’m pleased to report that my training for the 2014 Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon has been going very well.

Even though work has been emotionally taxing and stressful and we’ve had a lot going on as we settle into our new home, I haven’t skipped one training run yet and been pretty faithful with my cross-training.

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No better way to usher in my 33rd year than a nice long ride on the exercise bike!

Although I’ve been doing some training runs on the treadmill, I have been forcing myself to do my weekly long runs outside unless there is accumulated snow and ice on the ground. (I actually can’t even use that excuse anymore now that my sister-in-law purchased a set of YakTrax for me. Thanks again, Sara!) Even though my past two long runs have taken place in 20 degree temperatures, I’ve been able to post a pace lower than 9:00 minutes\mile for each run, putting me well on my way to set a new half marathon PR in May.

These gains haven’t come without cost, though. Read the rest of this entry

I’m a FitFluential Ambassador!

I’ve got some pretty cool news that I’m pleased to share with all of you…

I was selected to be a FitFluential Ambassador!

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For those of you who aren’t familiar with FitFluential, here’s a little bit of information about them from their website:

“FitFluential is a nationwide network of highly influential fitness enthusiasts sharing their journey both online and offline through multiple social media platforms. Founded in April of 2011 by Kelly Olexa, FitFluential was designed to connect health and wellness brands with their ideal target market through customized, long-term experiential and contextual marketing campaigns.”

I actually received the news a few weeks ago via e-mail when I was in the midst of a very stressful family-related phone call. Read the rest of this entry

Young At Heart And Loving It!

During college, one of my favorite songs to listen to when things were going wrong in the romance department was “All My Friends” by Counting Crows. (I always thought it was a bit disingenuous for Adam Duritz to sing about being single when he was squiring around the likes of Courtney Cox and Jennifer Aniston though.) Anyhow, I must have listened to him singing the following lyrics about 1,000 times, but I never really thought about what my life would be like at 33:

Thought I might get a rocket ride
When I was a child
But it was a lie
That I told myself when I needed something good
At 17 had a better dream
Now I’m 33 and it isn’t me

Well, I just turned 33 on Tuesday, and life is much, much better than the “better dream” that I envisioned for my life when I was 17!

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My 32nd year on Earth was pretty great. I ran my first half marathon and my first full marathon, two things that I spent years 0-31 thinking that I’d never be able to do or even want to do. Read the rest of this entry

In my January training recap, I mentioned that we joined Fitness 19 towards the end of January. At the time, I felt skittish about spending money on a gym membership because the sidewalks are available to me for free at any time and because we are learning to incorporate a whole host of bills into our budget that we didn’t pay when we rented.

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Working out with Sheila has been great. I’m so blessed to have a spouse who encourages me to go to the gym and doesn’t mind working out while most other couples are going out on the town. Can’t imagine how difficult this journey would have been with a partner who wasn’t supportive of healthy eating and running!

After going through yet another month of brutally cold weather and heavy snow, though, I’m extremely grateful that we joined Fitness 19! Otherwise, I’m fairly certain that I would have wound up either forcing myself to be satisfied with the few outdoor runs that I managed to sneak in towards the end of the month or hurting myself as I attempted to navigate through the mazes of black ice and potholes on Cleveland’s sidewalks and streets. Falling last year on snow and ice and buttdialing my boss at his house on a Saturday night when I landed on my phone was not fun, and I’m very grateful for the good ole treadmills at Fitness 19. Read the rest of this entry

After running my first full marathon last October, I was eager to do another one again. During the winter, I spent a lot of time debating whether to run the full marathon or half marathon at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon.

In the end, I decided to go with the half marathon.

Part of my decision had to do with the fact that I would have had to start training on the day after we moved into our new home. Although I had never previously owned a home, I knew that moving in wouldn’t be a quick and painless endeavor. However, I knew that I could squeeze in the training if I really needed to do so.

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Most of my decision had to do with the fact that I had heard many horror stories about the second half of the marathon. One of the reasons I run is because it allows me to have some quiet mental space and time for reflection, contemplation, and relaxation. I’ve never done a “group run”—although I’d like to do one someday—and I’m used to running by myself with only my music to accompany me. Because of this, crowd support isn’t a big factor that I consider when making my big race calendar.

However, there’s a difference between not allowing crowd support to control my decisions and appreciating crowd support towards the end of a race. Read the rest of this entry

Bay Village Snoball 5K Race Recap

After being cooped up in gyms, treadmills, and indoor tracks during the first few weeks of 2014, I was eager to get outside and see if all of the cross-training that I have been doing would have an effect on my race times. My times on a treadmill in 2014 had improved significantly from my race times from 2013, but it’s a lot easier to run inside on a treadmill in shorts and a tee-shirt than it is to run outside in the cold wearing more clothing and dodging other runners and ice patches.

I ran the inaugural Bay Village Snoball 5K in 2013 with my brother, and I was eager to run it again this year. My dad, stepmom, and brother live in Bay Village, and I spent a great deal of time there during my childhood. Unfortunately, I found out that none of them were able to run or spectate at this year’s Snoball. Because of that, I wasn’t sure if I was going to do it. However, when I saw that the weather would be good, I decided to sign up. I just couldn’t wait any longer for my racing season to begin! Read the rest of this entry

First of all, I’d like to extend a sincere thanks to everyone who entered my giveaway. The enthusiasm was great to see! I hope that all of you keep reading far into the future and that you’re able to find some helpful tips for your running and healthy living journeys on my blog.

Without further ado, the winner of a race entry for the 2014 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon is…

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Comment #47 – Giselle! Congratulations to you and happy training!

To those of you who didn’t win, don’t lose hope! Many of my fellow Official Bloggers still have race entry giveaways coming up.

Jamie Johnston, who is one of the most inspiring people that I know, starts her giveaway on Monday. Click here to visit Jamie Johnson’s Journey!

Heather Mursch’s giveaway starts soon too. Reading her blog has helped me learn a lot about Crossfit, and hopefully someday I’ll get to check it out. Click here to visit Mile 26 and More!

The entire list of Official Bloggers for the 2014 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon can be found here. Many more giveaways are still to come!

Additionally, the great folks down at the marathon also hold a giveaway called the #RUNCLEcontest every Monday morning at 10AM. Some of their giveaways consist of race entries, while other giveaways consist of other race-related Follow them on Twitter at @clevemarathon!

My half marathon training starts Monday. Happy training!