Friday Link Love

Oh hello, happy Friday! It’s my last day in the Outer Banks (feeling sad).

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One of the best things about spending a week at the beach is cramming in tons of reading. I don’t typically have make time for all the reading I wish I could do in my normal life. For me this means catching up on blogs, articles, audio books and novels. Since not much else is going on in my life this week, I figured I’d share my favorite reads from around the web througout this post.

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Richmond Marathon Recap

Walking up and down the stairs is nearly impossible and my body is just plain exhausted but this past Saturday, on a cold but beautiful morning, I crossed the finish line of my third full marathon. After a series of stress fractures from 2012-2013 I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to complete the 26.2 again. I’m proud to say I’m back in the game.

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Friday afternoon my parents picked me up from my apartment and we began the journey from Gaithersburg to Richmond in rush hour. My dad drove :) Just one of the many reasons I am grateful my parents decided to come along for the weekend.

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We met up with my sister Molly at our hotel right outside of Richmond in Henrico County, VA. My dad’s all about some Richmond and knew where to stay when all the downtown hotels were booked because of the race. Molly drove up from her school, East Carolina, early Friday and stopped by the Race Expo to get our bibs and some Gu since my parents and I figured we’d hit a ton of traffic on the way down. Molly ran her first half marathon like a champ and thoroughly enjoyed herself at her first race expo. I really wish I could have been there with her at the expo but we’ll plan better next time.

Three hours after we left Gaithersburg we finally arrived at our hotel to meet Molly and head to Carrabbas to get our carb loading on.

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Dinner before race night is tricky for me. It’s balance between splurging on carbs without over splurging on carbs. Not an easy task at Carrabbas. I played it safe and ordered grilled chicken and a small side of pasta.

 pre-race meal

Once we got back to the hotel after dinner Molly and I set out all of our race gear, collaborated on our workout playlists, and turned out the lights. Katie, my older sister, snuck in late at night because she had to work but wasn’t about to miss her opportunity to be a spectator (I may have also guilted her into coming)! When I say snuck in, I mean she was an overly energetic chatty Kathy we had to shut-up at 11:30 pm (love you Katie).

Running gear

Our alarm went off around 5:00 am and the nerves  began to kick in. I was happy to have my sisters around to distract me from my insecurities about the race. I had a plain blueberry bagel, banana, and two cups of coffee for breakfast. Molly opted for a half a banana, and an English muffin with peanut butter. Then we all headed to downtown Richmond at the intersection of 8th and West Broad street to start the race. The half marathon started 20 minutes before the full marathon on the opposite side of the street so I got to hang with Molly until she began!

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Once the half marathon runners took off I was left to my own devices. I placed myself somewhere between the 3:45 pace and the 3:50 pace groups and waited nervously as the national anthem played and runners flocked in.

When I started running my fears left me and I knew early on it was going to be a good race. My legs felt strong and rested, the weather crisp and my breathing was on point. I made a promise to myself in the first mile to remain at a steady, comfortable pace. I reminded myself to run my own race and not overshoot too early.

Miles 1-12 were comfortable, I was taking it all in, the city, the runners, and the Fall colors at their finest. It wasn’t until around mile 15 I needed to calm the crazy in my head. However, miles 19-21 were by far the toughest for me. There was still a significant amount of the race to conquer, my quads were burning, and I needed to find a way to zone out for the next hour. I kept my thoughts positive, thinking about how grateful I was to be able to run, again, how happy I was to have my family waiting for me at the finish, and how much I wanted the hard cider I would order at brunch. These thoughts got me through and by mile 22 I knew I was at the home stretch and I was going to finish the race. There is always uncertainty with a full marathon and I think anyone who has run one would agree that there comes a point in the race where you know your going to seal the deal and cross the finish. From that point on your mind eases and you let the race happen.

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Mile 25 was by far the best. My favorite aspect of the Richmond Marathon was the downhill finish. Once the finish line was in view I was like a child on a rollercoaster flying down. I took off for it. My dad teased me afterward about how I couldn’t hear them cheering because I was so focused on the finish…what can I say? I had a goal. My final time was 3 hours and 53 minutes. I’ll take it :)

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I found my family, freezing, smiling, happy, proud, silly, exhausted. We headed straight for brunch after the race and you can bet I got my cider. Then we napped before hitting downtown Richmond to celebrate. It was amazing, probably one of the best weekends for the books.

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Molly showing off her medal! She finished sub 2 hours like a champ!!

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(because celebrating together is a must )

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(Post-race victory meal)

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(a little less sweaty)

 

Meal and Mental Prep Monday

When my Nike app sang out “20 miles” a mix of relief, joy, and fear consumed me. The relief is obvious, my feet were tired from hearing from my mind, the joy came with the achievement but it’s the fear I want to talk about. Because when powerful leg muscles and strong lungs are in check, you still need to believe in yourself. I do not know if the fear is new or something I forgot because my last marathon was in 2011. All I know is the fear of 26.2 has arrived this time around.

While you are training for a race you keep telling yourself “you’ll get there with training”, but when your last training comes to an end you are left with the need to trust. You need confidence that on race day your feet and more importantly your mind will persevere and carry you through to the finish line. Anyone who has ever run a half marathon or full marathon understands the need to remain mentally strong.

The week before the race is about preparation.

For the mental prep I’ve been looking up mantras, you know the lines you tell yourself over and over to get through. Here’s what I found:

1 running mantra

  • Run the mile you are in!
  • Your legs aren’t giving out, your head is giving up, keep going!
  • It’s never too late to be who you might have been!
  • Breathe through it
  • Find your strong
  • This too shall pass
  • I believe in myself, I believe in my run
  • Sometimes the biggest problem is in your head, you gotta believe!

I’ve also been looking for some music to add to the race day playlist to help pull me through…

1. Ghost- Ella Henderson

2. Blank spaces Taylor Swift

3. In your arms: Nico and Vinz

Finally, I meal prepped. Like really prepped. I don’t want to leave the week before the race up to chance. SO I took a plunge and made six meals, a combination of dinners and lunches to eat throughout the week. I figured the best way to stay on top of my nutrition this week was to have it all planned out before I got rolling.

Meal Prep Monday

 

The Baltimore Running Festival Half Marathon Recap

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This morning I struggled through my slowest half marathon to date. I finished in 1:51, 20 minutes slower than my PR, 1:31. I would be lying if I said I was happy with my time but I’d also be lying if I told you I was mad at myself for it. The weather was perfect, I trained past 13 miles (in preparation for the Richmond Marathon Nov 16th), and I had no injuries to slow me down. It was just a bad race. They happen.  Note: When I say it was a bad race I’m talking about my performance, not the event or my overall experience. I have absolutely no complaints about those, thanks to the Bearnarth Sisters, Lauren (ran too) and Paige (our number one driver). The Baltimore Running Festival was well-organized, the expo was easy to navigate, and who doesn’t love Under Armor race shirts? Plus, I had a great time pre and post race running into friends and chatting it up with Lauren and Paige!

Amy and Lauren

(Lauren and I post race…she killed it!)

Paige and Laure

(Paige and Lauren post race…Paige and her boyfriend (not picture) get the fan award)

With that said, I’ve been deconstructing the events that lead up to the race so I don’t make any of the same mistake in Richmond on Nov 16th.

The Food: I tried not to change my eating habits the day before in preparation for the race. I eat a balanced diet and I wasn’t fretting about 13 miles. Next time I will fret.

Friday’s Breakfast: Wouldn’t change it had protein, carbs, and fiber.

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Lunch: Wouldn’t change a thing, a great combination of complex carbs, protein, and healthy fats!

Lunch

 

Dinner: Now this I would change! A huge salad topped with feta and two thin slices of tortilla makes a great dinner most nights of the week but I can do better pre-race. Looking back It was probably too much fiber, too much saturated fat, and too little carbohydrates for an ideal pre-race dinner.

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Saturday Morning Breakfast: If I could go back, I’d skip the almond butter. I’ve found that the fat slows me down a bit and is better for post race recovery.

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The Sleep: I went to bed at 11:30pm and woke up at 5:00am, clearly not ideal. For Richmond I will be in bed by 10:00pm mark my words. I’m aiming for at least 6 hours!

Training the week before: If I could guess which one aspect of today affected my performance the most it would be the training. Last Sunday I ran a 16-mile training run and never really gave my body time to recover. I ran everyday this week. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, I ran 3-4 miles and did some yoga. On Thursday I ran 6 miles at an intense pace and did some leg work…big mistake. During the race my legs were heavy and fatigued. Learning my lesson, I’ve decided the week before Richmond I’m going to stick to yoga and swimming in the 5 days leading up to the event.

Conclusion: First and for most, I’m grateful to run injury free. Focusing on performance is a gift my health allows. I’m proud of my body for running 13.1 miles at a fast pace even if I have bigger goals.  Some people might get discouraged having a slow half marathon while training for a full one but not me. I’m fired up. I have work to do and I thrive on that. Stay posted for updates on my training for Richmond!

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New Blog, New Distance, New Drink, New Things

Notice anything different around here?

Yup, Up Early With Amy got a big-girl makeover. Transferring my blog from wordpress.com to a self-hosted site with wordpress.org was on my To-Do list for a long time. I finally checked it off the list! My decision to switch platforms is another story for different day but in general a self-hosted site allows a blogger more freedom than wordpress.com. You may notice a few more tabs up top, I’ve shared my running story, writing resources, and inspirational blogs/websites.  My recipe page is jazzed up now too so check it out.

However, with freedom comes complication so things got a bit tricky. I didn’t have access to my site for three days and I freaked out just a little. When they say transferring a domain name can take 72 hours, they mean transferring a domain name can take 72 hours. Patience is not my best virtue. No fear, I’m back to catch you up on the part of my weekend that was not spent behind the screen.

When I wasn’t blogging it up at Starbucks I was running…

14 mile run

 

The Richmond Marathon is right around the corner (Nov. 16th) and long runs in my training plan are starting to take chunks out of my weekend. I ran Sunday morning at my favorite trail in the DC area.  It was 55 degrees, the air was crisp and cool, the perfect weather for a long run. The run started off a bit rocky but by the 5th mile I developed a rhythm and the rest of the 2 hour run flew by. I was exhausted and dehydrated when I finished. I lose a lot of salt when I run so refueling on electrolytes and simple carbs is critical. Coconut water and bananas are rich in potassium and peanut butter has plenty of sodium so I came home and formed my version of a this coconutwater-chocolate recovery drink.

Chocolate Coconut Recovery Smoothie

Chocolate Coconut Recovery

Ingredients:

  • 1 Frozen Banana
  • 1 cup light vanilla soy milk
  • 1 chocolate Zicos coconut water
  • 3-5 ice cubes
  • 1 Tbsp special dark coco powder
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter

Directions: Blend it all together and enjoy!

Exhausted, I downed my smoothie and spent much of my Sunday in bed reading until my parents came over to my apartment to hang the new wine rack my dad made me #spoiled.

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My weekend extended when my sister Katie hooked us up with Dream Seats to the Monday night Redskins game. My boys lost but we won’t go there. It was an awesome time considering that’s the closest I’ve ever been and probably will ever get to the Redskins field.

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redskins dream

What’s your choice recovery fuel after a long run?