How Barre can benefit runners

On Friday, I ventured into my first Barre class.  I had no idea what to expect, but I’ve heard I would be amazed at how these little movements can create impressive soreness!

I pretended like I knew what I was doing.  I took my socks and shoes off like everyone else and took my place toward the back of the room alongside one of the ballet barres.

I lucked out with an awesome instructor- she kept it interesting with lots of variety and often walked around giving suggestions and correcting form.  In some movements I felt super strong and confident, in others I was shaking and counting down the seconds.

What exactly is Barre? Here’s one definition from Sadie Lincoln, founder of barre3 fitness:

“Most barre-based classes use a combination of postures inspired by ballet and other disciplines like yoga and Pilates. The barre is used as a prop to balance while doing exercises that focus on isometric strength training (holding your body still while you contract a specific set of muscles) combined with high reps of small range-of-motion movements.”

There are a few things about Barre that I think are especially helpful for runners:

  • it’s a lower impact way to build strength (no jumps/burpees/power moves which can push a tired runner over the edge to injury)
  • it focuses on the small stabilizing muscles that can make a big difference in overall strength and posture
  • it emphasizes balance and includes one-legged exercises
  • it encourages flexibility

 

Even better, I learned after class that my instructor is also a runner! She shared the ways that Barre has benefited her as a runner, and helped me think about how Barre could fit into my training schedule.  I’m planning to stick with the Friday class- a little soreness going into my long run is doable, but soreness before a hard track or tempo workout would make it difficult to run well.

Do you mix up your strength routine?

Have you tried a Barre class?

 

 

 

Marathon prep and Meal Planning

How was your week? I am loving this time of year- it’s no longer a struggle to get out and run with the bright sunshine and the mild (but not too warm) temps.

The countdown is on for marathon training… just a few more weeks until training “officially” kicks off! I’m trying to focus on some base building, while throwing in a bit of 5k work here and there to find some speed again.  Whatever speed I had last year is gone- my legs are happy to run at half marathon pace for a workout! But I’m hoping it will come back soon.

Recap:

Sunday: 10 miles with 5k work (2 mile w/u (9:15, 8:30); then 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1000, 800, 600, 400m all at goal 5k pace 6:23 with 400m recoveries; 2 1/2 mile cool down)

Monday: 3 recovery run + 30 easy bike + core (leg raises, hamstring curl on ball, side leg raises, planks and straight leg sit ups)

Tuesday: 6.6 miles run (8:18 ave)

Wednesday: Iron Strength workout + spin

Thursday: 5 easy miles, no watch

Friday: 6 mile run with 6 x 400m (1:32, 1:32, 1:31, 1:31, 1:30, 1:30) + my first Barre class!!

Saturday: off and speaking at a nutrition event

Speaking at conference

My first Barre class was really fun! I was afraid I would be horribly sore on Saturday but it wasn’t too bad.  Maybe I’ll be feeling it tomorrow.  I’m hoping to keep the Friday class in my schedule.  The instructor was awesome, and I learned afterwards that she is also a runner so I may have a new running buddy!

The long run is going to have to get squeezed in today before church.  We’re going early to help set up a thank you for Sunday School teachers so there is zero wiggle room!

Meal Plan

Gah… losing motivation…. relying on my husband for some ideas this week:

Sunday: Black bean chili and rice

Monday: 5 minute meal!! Frozen Costco turkey burgers + microwave baked sweet potatoes + frozen Trader Joe’s asparagus

Tuesday: Homemade sushi (hubs cooking)

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Jamaican rice and peas + grilled organic chicken drumsticks (hubs cooking)

Friday: Cauliflower Crust Pizza + Regular pizza with Trader Joe’s frozen organic crusts

Saturday: out or leftovers

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Do you go through phases with motivation to cook?

Have you tried Barre?

6 Common deficiencies in runners

I used to avoid supplements, confident that I could get everything I needed from food.  But eventually my body told me otherwise and I realized I needed to pay a little more attention, especially after a stress fracture 5 years ago, thinning hair and poor sleep quality.

There is some research to show that 100 years ago, yes, we could have gotten everything we need from food.  But now, due to hybrid seeds, lack of crop rotation, poor soil quality and more, even our vegetables often contain less then half the nutrients that they used to.

100 years ago food

Even when our diet is perfect, it’s nearly impossible to get everything we need.  A number of my running friends (blogging and real life) have been testing their nutrient levels and learning where their deficiencies lie.  I’ve brought mine back to healthy levels and I really feel the difference in everything from my steady energy in the afternoon to my faster recovery from hard workouts.

These are the nutrients that are most often missing in runners (especially women):

Vitamin D

The sunshine vitamin is hard to get in the north more than half of the year.

What’s it do? Vitamin D is important to regulate calcium and phosphate in the body and to support good bone health.

Signs of deficiency? Low energy, mild depression/mood swing

Where can I get it? Oily fish and eggs, sun exposure and a D3 supplement

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B vitamins, especially B12

What’s it do? B vitamins are essential for cell repair, especially keeping nerve and blood cells healthy.  It affects our energy as well.

Signs of deficiency? Low energy, fatigue, weakness, depression

Where can I get it? Animal products: salmon, meat, cheese, eggs and milk as well as a B complex vitamin with a quality source of biotin (helps the body metabolize carbohydrates and fat … also key for healthy hair and skin!)

Iron

What’s it do? Iron helps red blood cells transport oxygen (key for athletes!)

Signs of deficiency? fatigue, shortness of breath

Where can I get it? red meat, dark green leafy vegetables, beans and nuts and as part of a pharmaceutical grade multi -vitamin

Magnesium

What’s it do? Magnesium is key for healthy bones and for using food for energy.

Signs of deficiency? cramping, anxiety, dizziness

Where can I get it? green leafy vegetables, brown rice, fish, nuts, dairy and as part of a pharmacuetical grade vitamin

Zinc

What’s it do? Zinc helps the body process carbohydrates, fat and protein and is key for good immunity.

Signs of deficiency? hair loss, weak immune system, poor appetite

Where can I get it? meat, fish, dairy, by cooking with cast iron pans and as part of a pharmaceutical grade multi vitamin

vitamins

Omega 3 fatty acids

While not often recognized as a deficiency, Omega 3 fatty acids are rarely in the correct ratio balance with Omega 6 fatty acids which can lead to chronic illness and inflammation. (These are the most highly linked to disease of all nutrient deficiencies.)

What’s it do? A powerful anti-inflammatory for the body for recovery and long term health and disease prevention

Signs of deficiency? Weak skin, hair and nails; skin issues; thirst; depression or anxiety

Where can I get it? Oily fish like salmon, flaxseed, walnuts, chia and a supplement with AHA and DHA from pure sustainable water

A lot of my health clients are either iron deficient or low in Vitamin D and I’m really careful with which supplements I recommend as vitamins are not regulated by the FDA.  Many don’t contain what they say they do or have some contaminants (even if they claim to be organic/natural, I’ve seen so many recalls.)

This is why I’m really picky about pure vitamins that are well absorbed and only recommend those to my clients.

I know it can be a little overwhelming where to begin.  Here’s what I usually suggest:

At minimum: A quality multi vitamin and Omega 3 supplement

Better: Add in a probiotic

Best: Add in B complex, D3 and extra C

If you have questions about any of this, I’m always happy to chat… just send me an email!

Have you tested for nutrient deficiencies?

What do you currently take?

Linking up with the Coaches Corner.

Celebrating Successes

I’ve been really inspired this year by the women I work with.  I learn so much through coaching – with both my health clients and runners.  I don’t often take time to feature them, so I wanted to congratulate these ladies on their hard work paying off!

Kim and I work together on both nutrition and running and she surprised herself with some big improvements this year!

Laura set up a training schedule for me that helped me accomplish all of my goals and then some this spring. I ran the furthest distance that I’ve ever run before; and, as for race day (which was unexpectedly super hilly), I ran smart, my dream race pace was my exact average pace, and I beat my last PR by just under 7 minutes. I was, and still am, beyond ecstatic.
Runner Kim
(PS- I have no idea how she crushed her pr at Rutgers, because I was dying in the heat and on those hills!)

 

Lisa contacted me after missing her marathon goal and wanting a plan to get stronger.  She nailed every.single.workout in this training plan! And it paid off big time.

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This was a great training cycle!  After running my first marathon in January in 4 hrs 21 mins,  I really wanted to see if I get under 4 hrs.  I really enjoyed doing all of the speed workouts and pushing myself. At first some of the workouts seemed impossible- but I surprised myself by what I could do!  I also loved adding some strength training to my workouts.  All the hard work paid off when I ran the Providence Marathon Sunday in 3 hrs. 54 mins. A 26 minute PR!!!

 

Runner Lisa M

 

And she capped it off with another pr on Sunday in the half, I should add!

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Lisa F has been chipping away at her goals as we’ve worked together over the past few years and she is steadily improving season after season. After we talked about nutrition and cross training, she took the changes seriously and her body said thank you!

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In 2016, I ran my 5th half marathon and earned a spot in the NYC Marathon this fall. I’ve finally learned a few big lessons: cross training is important and what you eat matters. After adding an extra workout (or two) a week and tweaking my diet, I’ve had a new PR three times this year. Here’s hoping for a fourth for May’s half!

 

Runner Lisa F
Lisa’s on the right- congrats!!

 

Ashley has truly inspired me too.  She was determined to get ready for this half, despite some aches and pains along the way. She stuck with her plan and did it!!

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If you asked me two years ago to run a mile or even a quarter of a mile, I would have replied there is no way I can run. With Laura’s guidance throughout 2015, I trained and prepared for the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February 2016. I successfully completed the half marathon in upright position, with a smile on my face and running across the finish line… all while wearing Maleficent Mickey ears!

 

Runner Ashley
I love the ears, Ashley- so proud of you for this accomplishment!

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Your turn to brag… what’s one of your favorite accomplishments in the last 6 months?

Meal Planning and 5k recap

Hello from the tail end of a solo parenting weekend! The plan is to squeeze in my long run this morning on the treadmill before the kids wake up. Fingers crossed that it works!

We kept pretty busy yesterday and Friday evening so I really can’t complain. But it’s always a reminder of just how much gets done around here without me really noticing.  I have to remember to say thank you when he gets back.

Sunday: am strength; pm 8 mile progression run (8:45 –> 7:11)

Monday: 1 hour spin

Tuesday: 6 mile run (8:25 pace)

Wednesday: 4.5 easy stroller run (10:00 pace)

Thursday: 5k race! (2 w/u and 2/5 c/d for 7.5 total)

Friday: recovery 3 miles (9:45 pace) + upper body/core strength

Saturday: 30 minute spin + 20 minute legs (squats, lunges, step ups, squat jumps, burpees)

My first 5k of the year was Thursday night.  It was tough!

For starters, it was a warm, humid evening which always slows me down.  I’m also struggling with pushing myself in the 5k lately.  I am afraid it’s going to hurt and hold back.  I held back too much in mile one (6:46) and then started to find my groove in miles two (6:34) but all of mile 3 was a long, steady incline and I fought to hold on to sub-7 paces (6:55).

My final time was 21:25, my slowest post-baby 5k to date! So that was a bit discouraging.  But I’ve been focusing on the 7:00 pace range for half and 10 mile training and haven’t thrown in much training at 5k pace, so it was a good reminder how powerful the race specific training is.

There will be more 5ks this summer, but I definitely have my work cut out for me.  By the end of last summer, I had whittled it down to a 20:25 but that sub-20 feels reeeeally far away right now!

DSC_3210

Meal Plan

Sunday: Girls night: Edamame pasta with turkey meatballs and green beans

Monday: Easy Spaghetti Squash Apple Fritters  with pork tenderloin

Tuesday: Salmon cakes with arugula salad

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Broccoli Tofu Ginger Stir Fry

Friday: Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Saturday: out or leftovers

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Is there a race distance where you feel the strongest?
Have you tried the cauliflower pizza crust

Revisiting my 2016 running goals

I’m joining the Thinking Out Loud crew this morning.

I’m in this nice in between phase right now with my running.  I have no major races on the calendar with the exception of a few 5ks (first one tonight!) so it’s a good time to revisit the goals I set in the beginning of the year.. .here’s what I wrote:

My first goal is to use January and February to get stronger and fitter… with a special emphasis on nutrition, strength training and metabolic efficiency. These three things are the focus of my reset for runners… I’m so excited for this program!

Check! I was really consistent with strength training, some HIIT workouts and nutrition in the early part of the year and definitely think it made a difference.  The runner’s reset round two is happening now… I’ve been more in recovery mode but planning to get more strength workouts in the next few weeks.

By February, I’ll be back in training mode for an April half. Half marathon goal: Beat 1:35!

Argh.  I really wanted to beat 1:35 in Rutgers! Without the heat and whatever was going on with my stomach I know I could have.  I was even tempted to jump into a half this weekend to prove to myself that I can do it… but I don’t think that’s going to happen.  Next chance: September Liberty Half!

By the end of 2016, I want to inch as close to 1:30 as I can. I’d be thrilled with a 1:32-1:33 half.

1:33 in September would be fantastic!

I loved taking this past summer to focus on shorter distances so I plan to repeat that again and continue to chip away at my 5k time. Maybe THIS will be the year I’ll finally break 20 minutes?! 5k goal: 19:59!

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Yes, still a goal! I know I’m not there right now coming off half training.  Tonight will be a good base fitness race.  I have a few more 5ks over the next couple of months to chip away at that time again.

For the fall, I’m considering throwing a full marathon back in the mix. I need to run that one by the family though.  We’ve all been enjoying the lazier Saturdays with a shorter “long run (it’s all relative, right?!)

But I also feel like I don’t want to be running marathons for the rest of my life, and these are the few years where I might still have potential to run better than I have in the past so I’d love to do one or two more.  But in the near future, I think I’ll be happy to hang up the marathon training and work with the half and shorter races.  Marathon goal: 3:20

Little did I know I’d be throwing my name in the hat for NYC! I’m looking forward to training.  I’ve heard it’s not a great pr race so I don’t know if my 3:20 goal is realistic or not, but I’ll reassess as I get closer to race day.

Of course, race times are not everything.  I also want to continue to run because I love it!

Cleveland running by the water

My non race goals include:

  • stay strong and injury free
  • do more trail running
  • incorporate 1-2 running weekends with friends (like this past year- so fun!)
  • find a few kids races and/or family fun race events

Yes to all of this!

I need to figure out some running friend weekend events, and get some friends to join me on the trails.  I did sign up for a kid race/5k combo in a few weeks!
All in all, I feel like I’m on track… I have the ten mile pr to show me that I’m moving in the right direction, going from 1:11:30 in the fall to 1:10:30 last weekend.  That should have been a goal so I could cross something off! I’m looking forward to seeing what these next few months hold for running.
Have you revisited your 2016 goals?
Are you on track? Are there goals you’ve already met?

Back to base building

Rutgers half marathon.  Check!

Broad Street Run.  Check!

I’m really happy with the way this season of training wrapped up. I feel strong and best of all, my running motivation is still in tact! It was a year ago that I was totally burnt out after the Boston marathon.  The weather is perfect- I’m thankful that I really look forward to running these days!

Now the next big thing is the NYC marathon, but official training won’t begin until June or July.  I’ve been researching many plans, coaches and coaching styles to decide how I want to tackle it and I’ll share more on that soon.

But for now, it’s back to base building. Do you pay attention to the base phase?

In the past, I’ve used the in-between training cycle period to maintain some consistency and throw in a few harder runs or speed work to keep up my fitness, but I was never very careful to use the time for building aerobic capacity, which is what it’s intended for.

This time, I want to be a little smarter about it.  Traditionally, most of us assume base training is for lots of easy miles.  But I really like Jeff Gaudette’s approach- that instead of all easy miles, you can specifically target key systems with the following three workouts in a base phase:

Fartlek – Adding in 30 second to 2 minute speed bursts (but not sprints!) improves efficiency and neuromuscular function

Steady State Runs – 20-30 minutes at no faster than current marathon pace to help build your aerobic threshold

Long run- Maintaining a long run helps to build mitochondria, capillaries and myglobin content.

None of the workouts should be especially hard- but they are preparing your body for the harder work to come in race-specific training.  The key is that you are staying in an aerobic zone, which develops the aerobic system and allows your body to use fat more efficiently for fuel and lays a strong foundation for the training ahead.

I won’t be able to follow this advice as well as I’d like to, because I have several 5ks tossed in to the next few weeks (including my first one Thursday night!)  But outside of those, the next 6-8 weeks will be more about my aerobic development before marathon training begins.

Do you take breaks between training cycles for base training?

What does your summer racing calendar look like?

 

Recovery week + Meal Plan Link Up

Oh Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun, Please Shine Down on me!

Now that song will be stuck in my head for a few hours, but really… 7 straight days of clouds and rain is a bit much! It sounds like we may get a glimpse of the sun today.  It has, however, been a great week for sleeping in.

Now that I know a marathon cycle is around the corner, I’m soaking up my “off” weeks more than usual.  I stayed up late a few nights this week, slept in as long as the kids let me, and kept workouts short and mostly low intensity.

Sunday: Broad Street race!

Monday: 2 mile morning walk, 3 mile evening walk to get the blood flowing

Tuesday: taught 1 hour spin class

Wednesday: 4.5 easy stroller run

Thursday: off

Friday: upper body/core strength

Saturday: 30 minute spin + 3 mile run (7:55 pace)

I’m planning to keep mileage low for another week and then start increasing my base miles.  I do have a 5k this week which will be interesting.  I haven’t pushed myself around 5k pace in many weeks! But it will be a good starting point for summer shorter distance racing.

 

Meal Plan

Sunday: Homemade pizza (hubs is trying a sourdough pizza crust)

Monday: Quinoa Goat Cheese Salad with Chicken

Tuesday: Asian crab and avocado spiralized cucumber salad (How good does this sound?!)

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: These easy egg wraps + smoothies

Friday: Cauliflower Fried “Rice”

Saturday: out or leftovers

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 Have you used cauliflower as ‘potatoes’ or ‘rice’ alternatives?
Anyone else using the rain as an excuse to sleep in this week?

Easy Blueberry Chia Pudding

I’ve been wanting to incorporate chia pudding into my life more often but needed a really easy, fool proof recipe.  I think I found it!

3 Ingredient Blueberry Chia Pudding

This one has just 3 main ingredients- and then you can do what you want from there.  I really like it as a post-workout breakfast or an afternoon snack.  If you’ve never tried it, the chia seeds absorb the liquid and thicken it to a pudding-like consistency.

 

Easy Blueberry Chia Pudding

by Mommy, Run Fast

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • Toppings (optional):
  • fresh or frozen blueberries
  • toasted walnuts
  • shredded coconut
  • mini dark chocolate chips

Instructions

Combine the almond milk, yogurt and chia seeds in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for 6-8 hours.

You can add a few drops of stevia or few tbsp of maple syrup to sweeten it.

In the morning, top the pudding with berries, nuts or coconut. Enjoy!

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I use Stonyfield’s full fat Greek yogurt.  It’s amazing! My girls are both picky with yogurt taste and texture, and I’m picky with the sugar content.  My husband will only eat full fat yogurt.  This one is a win-win for the whole family.

This recipe is also great for the ladies in my runner’s reset.  We’re on day 4 and sharing, learning, tweaking, experimenting and feeling good!

Have you made chia pudding?

What’s your current go-to post run fuel?

 

 

Broad Street Ten Miler Recap

I think I’m still smiling from this race two days later.  Philadelphia holds a lot of special memories for me and this race in particular was an old favorite from back in college.  I knew it would be amazing to be back and I was looking forward to running well but running for fun, no time goals necessary for this experience.

Philly is the place I fell in love with running.  In college, I began running with friends and together we trained for our first half marathon, the Philadelphia half, and I’ve been hooked ever since! Through grad school I lived in North Philly and often headed down Broad Street to Center City on my runs, and made a 3-4 mile loop.

Philly is the place where I had all my internships and had my first ‘real’ job after grad school. It’s where we got engaged and had our first apartment together in West Philly.

We got to stay with good friends (from our dating years in Philly) which made it even more special.  Our kids had a blast together and it was so nice to catch up with them.

Broad street expo

We got to Philly on Saturday and spent some time at the Expo and also at the Reading Terminal Market (where I had an awesome waitressing job through college at an Amish stand that paid my bills!) We picked up soft pretzels, had some ice cream, and got chocolates from a bakery to share with our friends.

The evening passed quickly with the kids playing outside together and we all had delicious homemade pizza together.  (Allison also inspired me with her pickling and fermenting- she made some awesome water kefir and had batches of kombucha brewing as well.  I need to get back on that!)

Sunday morning was cool and rainy, but thankfully it was a pretty light rain for most of the race.  I layered up with a tee and shorts, arm warmers and my bright orange poncho to keep me warm and dry.

Broad street orange poncho

Allison dropped me off near the start and I did a 1/2 mile or so warm up. I had a few issues getting into the right corral as it’s now all colored based and I first thought I was pink, which put me at the very back.  I didn’t think that could be right so I ventured to the front where I finally realized I was purple, and had to jump over the barrier to join my corral.  But it all worked out.

This race flew by! There are so many people running together the entire time and so much to see running through the city. I was especially distracted as I was watching for key landmarks I used to know well (Diamond Street, Temple, Center City favorite spots, South Philly, etc.)

The first mile was my slowest because of the density of people. (The waves were great, but it’s hard not to notice 40,000 runners as you start!)  I found myself weaving a lot to get settled into a steady pace. Mile one: 7:15

From there, I ran very consistently.  I wasn’t worrying about my splits for a change.  Miles 2-7: 7:02, 6:59, 6:59, 6:57, 7:04, 7:02

About mile 7, I was getting warm and ditched my hat.  Not long after, I ditched my trusty orange poncho (so long, friend!) but I have to say, running felt a lot easier after that was gone.

It was about mile 7-8 that my energy dipped.  My legs felt great but my stomach felt a little weird.  The same thing happened in my half 2 weeks ago and I think I need to revisit my race morning fuel plan.  Both mornings I had whole wheat toast (which I rarely eat anymore) with pb and both times it was closer to the race than what is ideal (two hours before, instead of three.)  I think my system is not used to running on wheat, and wasn’t done digesting the fiber and fat.

I took out a pb gu that I had saved from fall training and ate a bit of it. I do think I felt better within a few minutes.

It was around this time that I realized a pr might be possible! I focused on keeping the final few miles steady and strong.  Miles 8-10: 7:08, 7:02, 6:54

Final time: 1:10:34 (7:02 pace)

Yes!! My post-baby legs are back, I think! Can I still call them post-baby when she’s 20 months old?!

Broad street finish

Regardless, it felt awesome to run strong and soak up everything I love about this city.  And to surprise myself and shave a minute off my ten mile pr!

Post race was less awesome. I got cold fast.  I somehow missed the HeatSheets they were passing out and managed to grab a clear poncho from a less than thrilled volunteer.  I got my gear bag but could hardly get my cold fingers to cooperate to get my sweatshirt over my wet clothes.

I joined the group heading to the shuttle bus to take us the one mile to the subway station.  All the buses turned left, but ours went straight.  The poor volunteer had no idea where we were.  There were some angry, very frustrated runners on our bus and we eventually all got off and walked the mile to the subway which was better for my legs anyway.

Broad street finish walk to subway

Thankfully the subway ride was smooth and warm.  I refueled with a Philly soft pretzel and banana and my family met me at the station.  That hot shower was amazing!!!

Broad street pho

We celebrated with Pho before hitting the road home.  All in all, a fantastic weekend!!

How you run a race in the rain?

Did you ever run a race ‘for fun’ and surprise yourself?