Some of my favorite pictures!

I had mentioned some of the people I took pictures of most recently. I have been having so much fun in the last year, learning to use my Mom’s DSLR camera. She and my aunt do photography and it has really interested me (www.fourkays.com). They do an amazing job and my mom has let me take her camera anywhere I’ve asked! Trusting, right? Since I was teaching myself/ gathering tips from my Mom and others along the way, I just did all of my “photo shoots” for free. When you use the word FREE, you get lots of people with all sorts of different events to be your test subjects. It worked out wonderfully. I did friends, families, couples, maternity, newborn, weddings, etc…

These are some of my favorites:

My favorite man has grown up so quickly! Loved this day!

My favorite man has grown up so quickly! Loved this day!

Another little cutie - and so smart, too! :)

Another little cutie – and so smart, too! 🙂

Good luck finding anyone who loves dog more than Megan! :)

Good luck finding anyone who loves dogs more than Megan! 🙂

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That fave little boy again. I wonder if he’ll ever see this when he’s older… 😉

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These two were part of my FLAWLESS cousin's engagement shoot. I'm sucky lucky to know such a beauty :)

These previous two were part of my FLAWLESS cousin’s engagement shoot. I’m so lucky to know such a beauty 🙂

The soon-to-be famous Tyler gave me the honor of practicing with some headshots!

The soon-to-be famous Tyler gave me the honor of practicing with some headshots!

My love for this picture isn't because of any editing or technical aspects. This is sheer joy, and I love it.

My love for this picture isn’t because of any editing or technical aspects. This is sheer joy, and I love it. P.S. Each of them is wearing one their race shirts, runner followers! :p

Finally, my most recent love. When a picture ends up exactly as you picture, it's a good feeling. Simple and classic for the mom-to-be.

Finally – my most recent love. When a picture ends up exactly as you imagine it to, it’s a good feeling. Simple and classic for the mom-to-be.

Although I have so much to learn still and so many more types of things I’d like to photograph, I am thrilled with how far I’ve come in the last year with editing and recognizing bad shots (and good shots, too!).

Do any of you mess around with photography? 

What are your favorite types of pictures to look at?

It has been 5 days… I will be winning the bet.

I haven’t had any added sugars in my diet in 5 days. For most of you, that’s not anything to be proud of. HOWEVER, the day prior to taking up this challenge, I had two Starbucks hot chocolates, a large cupcake and several pieces of candy along with my regularly scheduled meals (which weren’t the best in themselves) – and that’s not really above average for my daily chocolate/cookie/cake/candy intake. I KNEW my sugar consumption was way too high, but what really hit me was when I felt like I was just exhausted during a three mile EASY run, then exhausted one day during situps, and doing things that I have been able to do for half my life! I knew it was because I don’t eat as well as I should. Next, I was reading blog posts about their successes with eliminating so much “junk.” I had a conversation with a good friend who had been feeling the same way as me and then…. She and I made a bet. NOBODY wants to lose a bet, right?

To aid in winning the bet, I have eliminated added sugars. To my knowledge, I have done that. I sort of emphasized that because I HAD NO IDEA how much food sugar was added into. So, I am nervous that I slipped up but the friend and I both agreed, the point was to get rid of the excess. I’ve eaten A LOT of fruits to satisfy the sugar craving. I even ate a whole lemon and LIKED it. Is that weird?

I will eat those things again. I am never, ever, ever, ever, ever (name that song) giving up ice cream permanently. I just want my body to stop acting like it NEEDS it. After a couple months of not putting it in my system, I am hoping I can have a Dairy Queen blizzard once a week without craving it again a few hours later, or waking up every morning feeling like I need a Starbucks Peppermint Hot Chocolate and then a dessert after each meal of that day. Wish me luck. I NEED IT! 🙂

The half marathon training has been OKAY. I say that because usually two of my runs per week feel good, and the rest just plain suck. The great news is that I usually feel great while running my HMP runs. It gives me confidence. 🙂 I hope with a better diet, I see improvement in my energy pre and post workout. I have never actually focused on both the training plan and a diet, and strength training all at the same time. Maybe I’ll kill my PR??!! A girl can dream, as they say.

I get to start coaching gymnastics this week, and my niece gets to take the classes!!! I am SO SO SO excited to watch her do something that was such a big part of my life. However, I volunteer at a church nursery, coach these classe, go to grad school, work full time, try to do some photography sessions and train for this half marathon coming up… I should just start being excited about making it to the end of each week! 😉

Here’s a peek at some of the fun I’ve gotten to have behind the camera lately.

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Have a great, speedy week! :):)

Those Hotel Fitness Centers Aren’t Always The Bomb.

Getting to travel around for work is one of my FAVORITE perks. I have been all over the midwest, just in the last 1.5 years at this job! However, when you’re on your very first week of a training plan (with a BIG goal in mind), it’s really unfortunate when things are not how they seem! 😦

Even with trusted hotel brands, you can sometimes run into snags with the fitness centers. This fitness center looked like it was going to be worth every penny! There were pictures of TV screens on each individual treadmill, tons and tons of weight equipment, bikes, ellipticals, you name it – it was in pictured or mentioned on the hotel website. I was very ready to get this week of training in the books…

After night one, I had one of those rare mornings where I was so thrilled to be up before 6AM to workout! Usually, I think of every excuse in the book to workout AFTER work instead! I get to the fitness center and… only ONE treadmill was functioning (it was being used!), the thermostat was set to 85 degrees and there were several people in there making it even warmer, and then the water cooler must have been broken because there was only hot water to drink!

Due to the time crunch, I could only get a mile in by the time the treadmill was free. However, I can’t feel my arms right now (in a good way), so I did something challenging!

All I could do was laugh. I am here until Sunday so I have already thought up supplemental strength training if the same thing happens to me tomorrow. I was bummed at first to ALREADY have to deviate from my schedule, but THAT’S LIFE. And, that’s okay. Strength is so important when you’re trying to get faster. The ever optimist that I am thinks all the treadmills will be magically fixed tomorrow, anyway 😉

Here is my suggestion for some cardio when your fitness area is not exactly what you expect. NOBODY uses those stairs in lieu of that elevator –so work ‘em! Take 5 or so flights and do: hops (skip one stair), 1 legged hops, sprints, deep squat jumps (down), calf raisers, high knew runs, etc… 3 sets of as many as you can think of is a darn good leg workout. Just plain running stairs is good, too!

How do you “make do” when you’re traveling but need to get a sweat session in?

Creating My 1/2 Marathon Training Plan

Good morning!

I have about 14 weeks until my next race, which is one of my favorite courses: Gazelle Girl 1/2 Marathon

It’s not a secret that my goal for my April ½ marathon is 1:45:00. This will be my 6th half marathon and my current PR is 1:49.17 on a very similar course in the same city. I have never followed a training plan before! My thoughts have always been: get a long run, a fast run and a couple mid-distance ones each week. Therefore, I am SO EXCITED to follow a plan, try to eat a little better, and see what my results are!

I’ve been searching through other blogger’s tips, Runners World, Hal Higdon’s plans and other random sites for some of the best 10 and 12 week programs. I had some luck, even finding a couple geared specifically to my time goal. So, this weekend, I’ve started tweaking what I’ve found, into the first customized training plan I’ve ever developed. The best part is that it has the things I want and need during training. I have some running friends who have paid for running coaches, and I’d love to one day – it’s just not something doable for me right now. So, lots of research, advice from long-time runners and knowing what my body excels at will have to do!

Here’s a sneak peek at what I’ve developed so far!

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I’m registered for an IronMan 70.3 in August so you can see the start of some swim and bike training. In the later months, I’m obviously adding more of each, and brick workouts. It’s odd thinking about swimming outside when it is FREEZING here.

What is different on mine from most that I have seen, is that on one of my rest days, I have it dedicated to a long stretch. I’m thinking a good 45 minutes! I was a trampolinist until about 2012 and with that background, I was flexible and limber. It’s amazing how fast some of that has left me. Now, I suffer from tight hamstrings and other muscles, a back that’s always cracking, etc… I am not a professional, but I know that MY body needs to get back in the habit of good stretching.

Other than that, I feel I’m consistent with some speed, easy runs, etc… Once I hit the 10 week (to race day) mark, the mileage begins to reach 30-35 miles a week. Last year, I had set a resolution to run 1,000 miles throughout the year. I failed. I failed bad. This year, following a plan, I have a lot more confidence going into it with mileage like that up until at least August.

One thing I noticed on most of the training plans I found was that they consisted of 5 run days per week. I know that it works GREAT for some runners, but not this girl! You’ll see me peak at 4 runs a week. I started running for the same reason as a lot of people – to relieve stress, have time to think, etc… Although I love racing, shooting for a new PR or trying a new distance, I have NO desire to get burnt out because I have every intention of being a life-long runner.

Winter has decided to show itself in the last two days. Since a plow hadn’t been anywhere, our 6 mile run yesterday was… interesting. 😉 It was just an easy run, filled with the best conversation. The friend I ran with is running the Walt Disney World Marathon next weekend so it was definitely all about what she needed to feel good and stay loose for her race weekend.

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Have any of you customized your own training plan? What is your advice?

– This is my first time! Send me your suggestions! 🙂

Do you prefer running with a friend?

– I love my running buddies, but I still prefer to do speed alone. Any other run, I enjoy the chats and encouragement from someone else.

The BEST Me – From the Inside, Out!

2014 was such a quick year. My mom has told me that they just seem to go by faster as you get it older. I sort of hope that isn’t true!

Every year, we all make lists of things we want to accomplish. I started to write those down again. It had a lot of the same things from prior years that I say I want to do and then fail at by February 1. Those things usually revolve around reducing the amount of sugar I consume, running at least 5 days a week, losing 10 pounds, etc… Here’s the thing: My soul and I really love ice cream, some weeks your body wants NEEDS more rest and my worth is not in those ten pounds. Enjoy those treats in moderation, know when your body deserves to sit on the couch and watch an episode of Friends, and most importantly, know when to push your limits and when to say, enough is enough for today. NOBODY wants an injury that makes another goal unattainable! That definitely doesn’t mean don’t push yourself. It just means, take the time to enjoy the aspects of life that have nothing to do with your physical appearance or fitness level because your heart, soul and your brain matter so much more, as cliché as that sounded. When your heart is happy, you will want to push harder for all of those fitness goals!

That being said,  I do have a shorter list of specific goals for 2015 but it’s definitely going to be about focusing on my soul – being my BEST self.

My running goals consist of:

  1. Get a sub 1:45 ½ marathon time this year! Here’s what is on my race schedule so far: 2015 Races
  2. Complete the Steelhead ½ IronMan in under 6 ½ hours.
  3. Be consistent about supplemental strength training.

My internal goals are:

  1. Take my niece to the beach.
  2. Also, eat some ice cream with her. She’s growing up so quickly.
  3. Read 5 books.

Other than that, my biggest goal is to put positive thoughts and LOVE into every conversation and interaction I have with another person – leave him or her feeling better than when I first encountered them. Life is good and I want to share how good it is with everyone I meet.

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Happy, Happy, HAPPY 2015 to you from me. I hope this is the best year you’ve ever had – in life, love and of course, your running! 🙂

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What books should I be looking at reading? 

What is your favorite inspirational quote?